Monthly Archives: October 2013

How to Upload Your Book to Book Country

Posted by October 18th, 2013

Workshopping and publishing are the cornerstones of our community. Whether you’re seeking feedback or a published book, the first step is to upload your book to Book Country. Here, we’ll walk you through the easy uploading process.

The Dashboard

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Your dashboard is the control center for your work on Book Country. You can get to it from the Read & Review tab or the Publish tab in the main navigation. As you can see, it’s divided in two main sections: “Books in Peer Review” and “eBook Publishing Projects.”

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Writing Fearlessly with Author Patty Chang Anker

Posted by October 17th, 2013

Patty Chang Anker author photoHalloween season is officially here, and on Book Country we’re spending the last few weeks of October writing about things that scare us: Ghosts. Werewolves. Being chased. Evil. Realizing your reality is not quite like everyone else’s. Fear, in general, is a writer’s treasure trove: Who doesn’t love a scary story?

As soon as I picked up SOME NERVE by Patty Chang Anker, I started thinking about the other ways fear relates to writing. SOME NERVE is a hybrid between a Memoir and a smart self-help book about overcoming fears in everyday life. (Below Patty dubs the genre of her book an “immersion memoir.”) Patty shared her thoughts on the experience of writing a book about fear, and some fantastic tips for some of the fears writers face most: throwing out their work, reading in front of an audience, having the world read their innermost thoughts. Writing fearlessly–read on to find out how.SOME NERVE - Cover

In writing SOME NERVE, how did you work through the fear of baring so much to your readers?

The very first chapter I wrote was about my struggle with clutter which was hugely personal because your stuff tells the story of where you’ve been and what matters to you. The emotional fears of letting go were at the heart of why I was afraid to take new steps in my life.  When we cleared the clutter, we started with the hardest thing to part with – a box of my work triumphs from a decade earlier. That was excruciating! But once that was gone, everything else was easier to let go of, and it made room to envision a new future. It was the same with writing the book – by getting at something very personal first, the rest was easier to tell, I felt free to be myself. 

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Kelley Armstrong on Crossing Genres

Posted by October 16th, 2013

We are so excited to have #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong as our guest. While she’s famous for her Urban Fantasy Otherworld series, in her most recent book Kelley’s produced different fare: what she calls the “contemporary Gothic.” Read about her journey into genre, and about how crossing genres has played a part in her most recent literary brew, OMENS.

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When I decided to wrap up the Otherworld series, the most obvious question was “What will I do next?” I was definitely going to launch another adult series. While I write YA and have recently launched a co-authored middle-grade trilogy, my first love is adult fiction, and I can’t imagine ever giving that up. The question then was “Which genre?” I knew the answer wasn’t urban fantasy. If I wanted to continue that, the Otherworld universe is vast enough that I could tell any story I wanted in it, from any narrative point of view. No, if I left the Otherworld, I was leaving the standard UF genre with it.omens by kelley armstrong

In addition to the Otherworld, I have a straight-up crime/mystery adult series with no fantasy elements. That’s the Nadia Stafford trilogy, wrapping up in November with WILD JUSTICE. I loved writing those books, though I’ll admit I missed the fantasy elements I include in all my other work. The answer seemed obvious then—I would start a series that combines the two. Less paranormal than urban fantasy, but still some element of fantasy, with mystery driving the main plot.

So is OMENS a mystery? Not entirely. I’ve never been good at sticking squarely to any genre. I read most of them, and I want to incorporate many different elements in my work. When I wrote BITTEN, the modern “urban fantasy” genre didn’t exist. There was UF, but the name was used to refer to any fantasy set in the contemporary world. BITTEN was called a supernatural thriller, then paranormal suspense, and finally urban fantasy.

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Member Spotlight: Meet Historical Fiction Writer Renee Gravelle

Posted by October 15th, 2013

Renee Gravelle Author PhotoOne of the very first books I read on Book Country was Renee Gravelle‘s WIP FIRES OF HALCYON. I am a sucker for well-researched, thoughtful historical fiction, and FIRES OF HALCYON is this and so much more. FIRES OF HALCYON is the story of four families living in the village of Fredonia, New York, in the mid-nineteenth century, right in the midst of intense social change–the temperance, women’s rights, abolitionist, and Spiritualist movements are in full swing all around these characters. Drawing on deep research into German immigration and American social reform of the 1800’s, Renee is in the process of drafting an historical novel that is warmhearted, intriguing, and just a little bit frightening. Read on to hear what Renee has to say about joining Book Country and working on FIRES OF HALCYON.

First off, what brought you to Book Country?

This summer, I met an author who’s writing about [the children’s author] Margaret Wise Brown. She told me about Book Country. I thought it was worth a try. Expecting an anonymous vastness in which being noticed would be difficult, I found a delightful cozy intimacy instead. The requirement that new members post a review before they can submit their own work for review guarantees their active and important participation from the start. And welcoming e-mails and invitations open up a banquet of connecting and discussion opportunities from which members can choose.

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The Author-Agent Relationship: When Fandom Plays a Part

Posted by October 11th, 2013

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“In terms of author-agent relationship, I think it’s really just me being a gigantic fangirl and him [Michael] being a brilliant, motivated and creative author.” -Sara Megibow

A few weeks ago we had a nice, long conversion with Sara Megibow of the Nelson Literary Agency about the publishing industry and agenting. In the first part of our interview, Sara had great advice to share with budding writers looking to query her. Here, we’re focusing on the magic behind the author-agent relationship. When an agent and a writer are a good fit, the results reflect that. But how does that partnership begin, exactly? Sara told us about how she started working with Book Country member Michael R. Underwood, who just inked a deal for a new book he previously workshopped on Book Country with David Pomerico at 47North. 

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I remember when Michael’s query letter came in.

He said, “I have an offer on the table from Simon & Schuster for a novel that was posted on Book Country.” I usually pass on anything that says “I have an offer on the table” as I don’t want to be known as an agent who swoops in to collect an agent fee for an offer I didn’t work for. So, I requested GEEKOMANCY with the full intention of passing on it.

Here’s what happened instead:

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Memoir Writing: Find The Past – Advice from Beth Kephart

Posted by October 10th, 2013

handling_the_truthFINALThis is a guest post by HANDLING THE TRUTH: ON THE WRITING OF MEMOIR author Beth Kephart. ~LS

Earlier today my niece, Julia, and I opened the door to my father’s attic, where a single box among many boxes bears my name. I had agreed to help Julia with a school photography project—to search, with her, for elements from my past that would somehow explain who I am.

Letters were there—old boyfriends, a marriage proposal, a key-sized envelope containing the dust of some prom flowers. A postcard upon which each hand-inked letter was no larger than a sugar ant. Names: Tanya, Steven, Pierre, Rob. An evaluation from the library where I’d worked as a University of Pennsylvania student; the supervisor noted, in square boxes, that I’d been “excellent” in all things. I also read, however: Although Beth chats to her friends at the checkout desk for long periods of time, she seems to be able to continue working and be accurate.

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How Did You Know You Were Ready to Self-Publish? Perspectives from Book Country Members

Posted by October 9th, 2013

ready to self publishIn traditional publishing, you know your book is ready to publish when your editor tells you it’s ready. “When is my book ready?” is a trickier question when you’re self-publishing. Today, we share how Book Country members knew when their books were ready to publish.

Book Country Historical Romance writer Ellise Weaver said of her decision to self-publish her novel THE GOVERNESS: “After seeing some of my author friends’ success and tell of their earnings, I thought to myself, ‘Why wait?!’ I didn’t put it off any longer.”

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The Perfect Antidote to Writer’s Block: Reading!

Posted by October 8th, 2013

When you have writer’s block, is it okay to read instead of write?

I liked what Book Country members had to say in response to Molly‘s recent post on the “How do you break out of writer’s block?” thread. Atthys Gage reassured Molly that reading “cannot help but make you a better writer,” and Carl E. Reed expanded the list of acceptable procrastination techniques to include “cooking, physical exercise, dreaming . . . Everything is grist for the mill when you’re a writer.”

Molly, Atthys, and Carl are onto something. In the book WE WANTED TO BE WRITERS: Life, Love, and Literature at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Michelle Huneven (with whom I studied in graduate school) says that she starts the writing day by reading “something–usually fiction I admire–until I get itchy and want to make fiction myself.” Over the weekend, I tried this, spending a big chunk of time relaxing with a few historical novels. I felt guilty reading instead of writing, but by Sunday evening, I’d not only read two really fabulous books, I’d also logged 5,000 words on my WIP. Not bad!

Ella Berthoud and Susan ElderkinBibliotherapists Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin definitely endorse reading as a cure–and not just for writer’s block. THE NOVEL CURE is their compendium of books-as-cures for all manner of ailments: low self-esteem, unemployment, and, of course, writer’s block. The authors recommend I CAPTURE THE CASTLE (by Dodie Smith) for ridding yourself of writer’s block. Here’s why they chose it:

The remedy for writer’s block inflicted upon the novelist father in I CAPTURE THE CASTLE is nothing short of genius. But–darn it–to tell it would be to give away one of the plot twists in the unutterably charming novel. Mortmain, as he is known by his second wife, Topaz, achieved great critical success with an experimental novel called Jacob Wrestling. But he has not been able to put pen to paper since an unfortunately incident involving a next-door neighbor who foolishly intervened when Mortmain brandished a cake knife at his first wife while they were having tea in the garden. He ended up spending three months behind bars, writer’s block set in, and the family has been penniless ever since.

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Member Spotlight: Meet Historical Romance Writer Ellise Weaver

Posted by October 7th, 2013

Ellise_weaver_authorEllise Weaver is one tough lady: five years ago, after a bout of breast cancer, she found her calling as a writer. Since then, she’s been telling stories about love set in the Victorian age, some of which she recently self-published. We’re catching up with the Idaho writer to see how the whole process has been going–how she’s written and marketed her books–as well as what she has in the works for the future.

NG: It’s very nice to have you on Book Country, Ellise! What have you been up to lately–both writing-wise and life-wise?

EW: In three months, I published three volumes of my book, THE GOVERNESS. Agonizing and intense as it was, it was also liberating and invigorating. I had set a goal to have the entire book published by the end of summer 2013. In order to accomplish this goal, I split the book into three volumes and tackled one per month.

Life has become rather busy with family and their needs, especially since my husband’s heart attack in August. He’s doing well, but it’s put a stop to any writing for right now. I’m still planning on releasing PIRATE BRIDE next spring.

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Choosing Your Genre on Book Country

Posted by October 4th, 2013

One of the first things you have to do when you join the community is pick a genre. We’ve structured the Book Country site to guide you in that decision: The Genre Map, the Genre Pages, and the Landmark Titles are there to aid you in making your genre selection and connecting you to writers with similar interests.

“What is this whole genre thing about, anyway?”

A lot of writers ask us that. They feel constrained by the conventions and tropes of a single category. “My book is both funny and romantic,” they say. “It’s a mystery and it has time travel.” Continue reading

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