Monthly Archives: November 2013

Diving into YA Dystopian with SLATED Author Teri Terry

Posted by November 14th, 2013

Fractured

The precedent of the HUNGER GAMES opened up the door for other talented authors to tell their YA dystopian tales. Today we’re talking to British author Teri Terry, who pushes the envelope with her SLATED books, one of the most thought-provoking and chilling sci-fi series I’ve read in the past year. In SLATED, we meet young Kyla, who’s had her memory and personality erased as punishment for a crime she can’t remember committing. Who is really Kyla without her memories and what makes her *her*? Teri  takes on these big questions head on, and she approaches Kyla’s characterization with the kind of subtlety that is a joy to read.

NG: What inspired you to write a dystopian series for young adults?

I never set out to write a dystopian series. SLATED actually started from a dream I had, about a girl running, terrified, on a beach, afraid to look back to see what chased her. That same morning I wrote the dream down before I was really awake, and the story kind of grew from there. So it is really difficult to say what inspired writing it! The story chose me: it came from an unconscious need to explore issues that were troubling me, obsessions that I had. These include the whole nature-nurture debate: does someone who commits a horrible violent crime have something inherently wrong with how they are wired up inside, or does everyone have this capacity, given the right (wrong) circumstances? Next the identity issue: what makes us who we are? If you take someone’s memories away, are they still the same person? And finally, terrorism. More specifically: are a violent group defined by their objectives, or their methods? What is the difference between terrorists and freedom fighters? Do we define groups based on whether we agree with what they are trying to achieve?

NG: Your Master’s degree coursework was on the depiction of terrorism in young adult literature, which has clearly impacted the oppressive world you’ve crafted in the SLATED series. How did you thread your findings into the books?

slatedTT: Things happened kind of the other way around. I was thinking for some time about doing a creative writing MA, and in the end focused on a research degree. The way that worked is that I had to come up with a research proposal that included both a novel I planned to write, and a contextual thesis surrounding it. In my case the novel was SLATED, and the thesis was a consideration of the depiction of terrorism in YA dystopian fiction. However, I actually wrote SLATED before I really made much of a start on the thesis. Having said that, the impact the research had was more on examining how I wanted the trilogy to end, and why.

Traditional dystopian novels tend to end very badly for the hero: the whole point is that of a warning, a call to action – to change the world to avoid this coming to pass.

Conversely, YA dystopian novels tend to have more hopeful endings, even happy ones at times. Literary critics argue this negates the message of a dystopian novel; at the same time, debate rages about the impact of dark dystopian novels on younger readers. But I can’t tell you much more about decisions I made about the end of the trilogy without major spoilers!

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Book Country and Kickstarter

Posted by November 13th, 2013

I’m happy to announce that Book Country created a curated page on Kickstarter.

Kickstarter is the world’s largest crowdfunding program. There have been more than five million backers to fund over 50,000 creative projects.

We wanted to give more exposure to Book Country members who have also created Kickstarter projects so you can reach your fundraising goals. For us, Kickstarter is a natural fit. You’re starting your books here and working with other writers on Book Country to shape them into the best books possible. Then, when you’re ready, a Kickstarter project can help you cover the costs of getting those books into the hands of readers.

You can find the Kickstarter page here.

Thinking about creating your own Kickstarter project? Let us know. We’d love to help you by featuring it.

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The Making of a Bestseller: How Penguin’s Lisa Kelly Promoted THE 5TH WAVE

Posted by November 12th, 2013

5thwaveBack in January, our colleagues from Young Readers sent us a copy of a new YA postapocalyptic novel that they were really excited about: THE 5TH WAVE. I looked at the slick cover, saw that it was about an alien invasion, and was immediately hooked; and being the sucker that I am for a good dystopian/postapocalyptic novel, I devoured it in three days! I was not at all surprised when THE 5TH WAVE debuted on the New York Times bestseller list upon its publication six months later.

Today we’re joined by Assistant Marketing Director Lisa Kelly, one of the main figures behind THE 5TH WAVE’s promotional campaign, and we’re talking to her about how she and her team launched the book into the world–and made it a bestseller. ~NG

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NG: How did you foster excitement for the THE 5TH WAVE months before its publication?

LK: It started with the first 70 pages we got to read from the author. We were all universally drawn in, and we immediately knew it was special. We also knew that we only had to get people to read those 70 pages to hook them. So our early strategy revolved around that idea and grew from there.

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Member Spotlight: Meet Writer Vince Salamone

Posted by November 11th, 2013

vince_salamone_authorThis week, we’re wading into dystopian and postapocalyptic fiction, which happens to be one of my all-favorite genres! We spoke with Book Country member Vince Salamone, who’s well-versed in the genre, to lean more about him and his craft, and explore the appeal postapocalyptic tales hold for writers like him. ~NG

Thanks for being our guest! Let’s start by talking about you. You do digital art for a living and you identify your visual approach to art as “aphotic.” What does aphotic mean? And how does your work as an artist impact your writing?

Thank you so much for having me! “Aphotic” is another way of saying something is dark or shadowy. Most of my work fits into that category of “dark-art.” My art focuses on exploring the network of emotions and feelings that make us up as human beings, and I strive for the same with my writing. When it comes to my writing, I always start thinking visually, and that’s how many of my stories begin life as a visual thought that I then transcribe into characters, story, world, etc. Sometimes pieces become the inspiration for an entire story, or vice-versa. Continue reading

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The New Adult Genre Demystified

Posted by November 8th, 2013

new_adultEver since Nevena and Alex Maurer first explained to me what the “New Adult” Genre was, I’ve been super curious to do a deep dive into this exciting new territory of the Genre Map. In some ways, it feels like the genre I have been waiting for my whole life, as a reader and as a writer. In fact, I am so enamored with this literary category that I decided on a whim that my NaNoWriMo project would be a New Adult novel and I am having a blast with it.

Alex was kind enough to share her analysis of New Adult with Book Country today: already this is a genre with its own tropes, quirks, triumphs, and guilty pleasures. As I’m crafting my New Adult novel, I’m very grateful to have Alex as my genre expert. ~LS

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New Adult is a literary category occupying the middle ground between YA, contemporary romance and “chick lit” (the 90s most prominent women’s fiction subgenre). The storylines are adapted for the 18+ audience interested in characters that are in college or are newly minted grads heading into the world. New Adult shoots for the audience who’s graduated from YA and is not quite ready to read about divorce, re-marriages, or children.

Some paranormal and fantasy stories have college-aged heroes/heroines. But those books aren’t necessarily New Adult, because New Adult is similar to contemporary romance:the love story is the meat of the book. Because let’s face it. After YA, we as readers are looking for something steamier.

New Adult spans heroes and heroines that are between 18 and 25 years old. (If characters are in their mid-twenties, the book is pushing contemporary romance (i.e., Samantha Young’s ON DUBLIN STREET, Raine Miller’s The Blackstone Affair series, and Sylvain Reynard’s GABRIEL’S INFERNO). While all of these have young 23-24-year-old heroines, the heroes are older, and the story lends itself to more traditional contemporary romance tropes.

So what else differentiates New Adult from contemporary romance, chick lit, and YA? We look for the following themes!

The Reformed Man-Whore: The too-good-to-be-true hero who was essentially formed by the gods. Besides fantastic hair, piercing eyes, square jaw, high-cheekbones, and a smokin’ body, he most likely has a “little black book” the size of Webster’s dictionary. This reformed man-whore changes for the heroine and boom! the college big man on campus is now a sworn monogamist (for the most part!).

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Book Country’s Rebecca Hamilton Reaches International Audience with THE FOREVER GIRL

Posted by November 7th, 2013

Rebecca Hamilton author photoWe are so excited for Book Country member Rebecca Hamilton and all the great stuff that is happening with her Top Rated Book Country book THE FOREVER GIRL. Published in the US by Immortal Ink Publishing, Rebecca recently shared with us the happy news that her book has been translated into both German and Hungarian, and is now for sale in both of those countries. (In Germany you can find DAS EWIGE MÄDCHEN from Mira-Taschenbuch/Harlequin-Darkiss; and in Hungary, AZ ÖRÖKLÉTŰ is published by IPC Mirror Könyvek. and sold on Könyvtündér.) We caught up with Rebecca to find out more about how she’s finding an international audience for her books.

Congrats on publishing FOREVER GIRL in both Germany and Hungary. What a milestone for you as an author! Will you shed some light on the intricacies of foreign publishing: What was the most exciting part of the publishing journey, and what surprised you the most about how things work abroad? Das Ewige Maedchen.

Thank you! There’s so much involved and, at the same time, my agent made it very easy. He found me the deals, sent them to me, we discussed, I signed, they paid me, and we moved on! The publishers there are very hands on, too, and move FAST. It feels like my Hungarian release happened in the blink of an eye! I talk to the my publishers sometimes, and they give me support in marketing overseas. DARKISS (Harlequin) in Germany has even arranged for me to have an article published in a major magazine over there, and they have had huge two-page advertisements out in the book fairs. They are very kind to their authors.

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Editing During NaNoWriMo: A Writer’s Perspective

Posted by November 6th, 2013

editing_while_writingThis is a guest post by Book Country fantasy writer and NaNoWriMo Montreal regional coordinator RJ Blain. RJ has been around the block when it comes to marathon writing, so we invited her to get her perspective on the how to stay on top of one’s writing goals in November.

In this piece she covers a NaNoWriMo classic: “Should I be editing during NaNoWriMo?” ~NG

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One of the most common pieces of advice during NaNoWriMo is to never edit while drafting. Don’t look back, always walk forward. Don’t do this, don’t do that.

Well, screw that nonsense. There, I said it. Sometimes, editing is a valuable part of the drafting process. But if you’re the type of writer who needs to edit as you draft, you have a lot of work ahead of you.

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What is a Scene: BLUEPRINT YOUR BESTSELLER Book and Sweepstakes

Posted by November 5th, 2013

sweepstakes_blueprintToday we have as our guest Grub Street writing teacher and author Stuart Horwitz. His newest book, BLUEPRINT YOUR BESTSELLER: Organize and Revise any Manuscript with The Book Architecture Method (Penguin/Perigee), introduces his system for organizing and revising any manuscript. It’s the perfect guide for participants of NaNoWriMo, who’ll have a first draft of their novel at the end of November but will still need help restructuring and polishing it later. We’re giving away three copies of the book to Book Country members. Click here to enter the BLUEPRINT YOUR BESTSELLER Sweepstakes!

In this excerpt from BLUEPRINT YOUR BESTSELLER, Stuart introduces the Book Architecture Method and answers the question: “what is a scene,” the basic building block of every manuscript. ~NG 

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The basic premise of the Book Architecture Method is this: Your book has ninety-nine scenes. If you find your scenes and put them in the right order, you will be all set. I don’t believe this is easier said than done—or harder said than done. It is what it is. There will be periods of questioning and there will be periods of joy; there will be divine inspiration searing across the page like a cosmic flame, and there will be fidgeting with things until they fit just right. All I can say is that it does happen. I have seen writers line up their ninety-nine scenes in the right order. When they do, the rest is just details.

When you start offering methods to people, their first question is, “Does it work?” The Book Architecture Method is a method, not a formula; as such, it needs to be applied. Does your book have exactly 99 scenes? I doubt it! Your book has 72 scenes, or 138 scenes, or another number that you won’t know until you are done. I chose ninety-nine for the sake of discussion. I chose it because it feels one shy of completion. You cannot achieve unity, the goal of any piece of writing, by trying to be comprehensive. No matter how hard you try, you will never completely cover your topic—all you can do is be consistent and coherent. Perfectionism can appear in many guises, but it is always an impossible task that likes to present itself as something that isn’t. We need to adjust our definition of perfection to mean “getting your ninety-nine scenes in the right order”—and let the hundredth come when it is good and ready.

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Member Spotlight: Meet Book Country Author Charles Dyer

Posted by November 4th, 2013

Charles Dyer Author PhotoBook Country member Charles Dyer is an incredibly prolific and varied writer—he has published 12 books with Book Country, in Fantasy, Romance, Historical Fiction, and Science Fiction. Hailing from South Africa, Charles has many interests and hobbies, including archery, gardening, computer programming and gaming, and visual art. We caught up with him to find out more about his creative process, as well as to hear his perspective on self-publishing and its challenges.

LS: What led you to join Book Country? Has it helped you?

CD: I can’t remember the details but I saw the site on the Web and it had more appeal than many others. Especially as I considered the possibility that it might expose my work to the editors at Penguin. My ultimate goal is to have best-selling paperback books out there in preference to eBooks. Book Country has helped insofar as exposure goes. My work is now distributed to a wider range of retailers than before.

LS: 12 is a lot of books! You must have some kind of brilliant time-management technique! Share with us how you are able to accomplish so much writing.

CD: Ha, ha, I wish that I did have some brilliant technique. Some of these books were written in the last century, starting in 1996. All of them have been polished several times.

I use spreadsheets to ensure that I don’t inadvertently change hair or eye color halfway through the story or any other little detail. Typically, a spreadsheet will have plot, synopsis, timeline, character details, world details, chapter details, etc. As I write, I update the spreadsheet and cross-reference it to ensure consistency.

One might say that it pays to be a methodical plodder– a plodder is a person who dogmatically knuckles down and works at whatever they are doing until it’s done.

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Book Country Sponsors NaNoWriMo

Posted by November 1st, 2013

Welcome, Wrimos!I’m so excited that November is finally here! Happy National Novel Writing Month, everyone!

Book Country is proud to be one of the sponsors for NaNoWriMo this year. We decided to support NaNoWriMo because we believe in their mission. It’s critical to find a group of like-minded writers. NaNoWriMo writers (aka Wrimos) have made a promise to themselves and to each other that, this month, writing is what matters.

I was deeply moved this summer by The Summer Writer’s Club. I was so inspired by everyone who took the challenge to write. And I was humbled by the enthusiasm at the end— not just from the people who hit their 50,000 word goal (amazing!) — but from how much you supported each other and were ready for more.

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