Monthly Archives: April 2014

On My Way to the Heart of Wuthering Heights by Susan M. Wyler

Posted by April 30th, 2014

SOLSBURY HILL coverToday our blog guest is Riverhead author Susan M. Wyler, whose new book SOLSBURY HILL is one of the books I am most looking forward to reading this spring. She dove deep into Emily Brontë’s classic romance Wuthering Heights to extract a passionate, satisfying resolution to this story loved by millions.

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It’s easy to imagine oneself the Creator when one seems to wring human beings and landscapes from mere pen and ink, but I wonder if writers aren’t tapping into something that already exists, like our dream world seems to exist. At any rate, that’s what writing for me has always been like. And when I began writing SOLSBURY HILL, when I sat down to that first empty page, Eleanor Abbott (the heroine of the novel) was already there, sitting in a Manhattan cafe sipping coffee. Continue reading

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Hybrid Author, Defined

Posted by April 24th, 2014

Hybrid author is one of those publishing terms you hear a lot these days. hybrid-authorWe wanted to define what it means so that writers can understand the conversation that’s happening around them.

The term usually refers to an author who has published with a traditional trade publisher such as one of the Big 5 (Penguin Random House, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Macmillan) and then decides to self-publish (either through a service like Book Country or by forming an independent team).

We’ve also heard “hybrid author” applied to writers who self-published first and then sold to a major publisher.

We’ve seen authors who first published with a smaller press and then self-published (and the reverse) also use the term.

And, we’ve seen the term applied to authors who are doing both simultaneously. It’s common for a hybrid author to have a book for sale through a traditional publisher and self-publish a second title. We’ve even seen hybrid authors who have a traditional publishing agreement for one title and self-publish novellas or short stories using the same characters. (This is often done for promotional purposes.)

One final example of a hybrid author is an author who has self-published an eBook first. She then sells the print rights for that book to a traditional publisher while retaining the electronic rights.

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Upload Your Travel Writing To Book Country

Posted by April 23rd, 2014

We’ve been talking about going places for the last couple of weeks, and we’re interested in reading about all the places you go.

Travel books are more than just facts and data on the page; they share with the reader the writer’s unique point of view of where they’ve been and why. Our favorite travel writing usually has a narrative arc that gives the reader a story to embark on from his or her armchair.

We want to see more travel writing on Book Country. If you’re working on a travel book, upload it now.

Please share with your friends, too, so that we can all go on the journey together!

 

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Navigation Changes on Book Country

Posted by April 21st, 2014

We’ve been listening to your feedback and we’ve made some changes to Book Country’s main site navigation.

We discovered that Book Country members were confused about where to find the manuscripts for peer review and book buyers were confused about where to purchase eBooks written by Book Country members. We realized that we could add clarity by changing the navigation for Read & Review and Publish.

Navigation ChangesIf you’re looking for a manuscript to read and share feedback, you’ll find that under the Read & Review heading in the deep blue on the far left side. Click on the Featured Manuscripts link to see which manuscripts we’re highlighting for peer review. Search Manuscripts by clicking on the last link in the navigation to find manuscripts that fit the criteria you care about the most.

Book Country Navigation ChangesIf you’re looking to buy eBooks that were published by Book Country members, the Book Country bookstore is the best place. We moved the bookstore so that it’s now underneath the eBooks heading in grey in the Publish menu on the far right side. Click on Bookstore to see the featured eBooks available for purchase. Search eBooks to find an eBook that matches your criteria.

As we promised at the re-launch, it’s our plan to continue to revise and update the site to provide the best experience for Book Country members. Please take our survey and let us know how we can make Book Country better for you.

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We Want To Hear From You!

Posted by April 17th, 2014

A few weeks ago, we sent out an email with a request: please take our quick survey so we can better serve the Book Country writing and publishing community.iStock_000018341485_Small

We’ve gotten a lot of responses, and we appreciate the time you took to share with us what you want and need from Book Country. We’re writers too, so of course we’re familiar with the revision process. We’re making changes (more on that soon!) based off your feedback.

There’s still time to make your voice heard!

Help us make Book Country better by filling out our two-minute member survey. We appreciate the feedback!

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Say it with flowers: Cozy Mystery Author Beverly Allen on Creating a Memorable Setting

Posted by April 15th, 2014

BLOOM AND DOOMToday’s blog guest is Cozy Mystery author Beverly Allen, whose book BLOOM AND DOOM is the first in a new series starring wedding florist Audrey Bloom. Below Beverly shares with us how she used flowers to boost meaning and symbolism via the book’s flower shop setting.

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It starts with the cheerful “Welcome, baby!” bouquets. Then the sunny fistful of dandelions we present to our mothers on Mothers’ Day.  Followed by the corsage pinned on awkwardly at the prom and the daisies held in sweaty palms behind the young suitor’s back. Full of promise and joy are the lush roses in an elaborate bridal bouquet. All too quickly follow the “Get well soon!” arrangements, complete with cheery balloons, and finally funeral wreaths. Each momentous step of our lives is marked with flowers.

When writing a cozy mystery with a protagonist who’s a florist–and one that specializes in wedding bouquets–I knew that flowers would be a big part of the plot. But I also didn’t want to lead the reader down the primrose path for no purpose. Flowers can function almost like characters: enriching plot, setting tone, evoking thoughts, even speaking dialogue. If we know the vernacular. Continue reading

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Member Spotlight: Meet Romance Writer Jaycee Ford

Posted by April 14th, 2014

Jaycee FordPlease welcome Romance writer Jaycee Ford to the Book Country Member Spotlight this morning! Jaycee, who lives and writes in New Orleans, Louisiana, is working on a series called the “Love Bug” books, and she’s earning fantastic reviews and a serious following. Learn more about Jaycee below, and connect with her on Book Country!

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Lucy Silag: Tell us about how living in the Big Easy informs your identity as a writer.

Jaycee Ford: New Orleans itself is a character. Being born and raised in a city like no other, you become the city and the city becomes you. New Orleans teaches you to step out of your comfort zone. You do things here that you wouldn’t or couldn’t do in other cities. When I moved away to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, it was beautiful and I loved living there, but I missed home. This is where I began toying with the idea of writing and came up with a story, even started jotting down ideas. I still have that one plotted out, but I never did write that story. I think I lacked the inspiration. When I moved back to New Orleans, the city’s aura buzzed through my veins, and I came up with a story about a cowboy. A few months later, WATCHING FIREFLIES was born. Continue reading

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“Being a storyteller is in my genes”: NANOPUNK Author Nathan McGrath’s Origin Story

Posted by April 10th, 2014

Before I came to work at Book Country, I’d never heard of the Cyberpunk genre. As I learned more about it, I came across member Nathan McGrath’s writing. He’s the author of two novels, NANOPUNK and LIGHTNING SEED. I’d heard that many Cyberpunk writers draw inspiration from controversial technology news, and I was curious to learn about how Nathan got started writing in this genre. Here’s what he had to say:

Every book has a “Where it all began” story. Real life is a lot messier. There is no simple narrative or structure, no deeper purpose or destiny. We pick and choose, each one of us. For one reason or another we look back and select this, that or another event, give it a slant and convince ourselves and others that we are really “Telling it like it is.” So is it any wonder peopleare drawn to stories? So neat, purposeful and ordered (well, mostly)?

I can pick out an event here or there and say something like: For me, writing sci-fi all started with taking apart old valve and transistor radios when I was a kid.

NANOPUNK coverOr I could begin with: I’ve always been a voracious reader. I started going to the library when I was around nine. I’d pick up four books and finish them within a fortnight then go back for four more. I worked my way through the science fiction shelf, them moved on to supernatural and somehow found myself going through the psychology section. By the time I started secondary school, I was filling exercise books with spooky sci-fi stories. My other hobby was finding bigger pieces of mechanical junk to take apart.

Or maybe it began back when I worked in factories, warehouses, shops and restaurants. Then I spent around twenty-five years working with vulnerable kids, teens, and families. I’ve worked in chilldren’s homes, hospitals, and family centers; made a helluva lot of visits to all kinds of homes: alcoholics, drug addicts, parents and kids with mental health problems, disabilities, abuse, domestic violence. I came to respect and value the vulnerability, courage and resilience of all the people I worked with. So when I decided to commit myself fully to writing, it came as no surprise that Alister, the main character of NANOPUNK and LIGHTNING SEED, turned out to be a troubled kid struggling with his emotions, identity, and beliefs. Continue reading

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Four Ways to Promote Your Book Before Release by Michael R. Underwood

Posted by April 9th, 2014

Attack the Geek Full (2)Book Country Member Michael R. Underwood‘s latest book in the Ree Reyes series, ATTACK THE GEEK, came out this week from Pocket Books. His next book, SHIELD & CROCUS, is due out in June.

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Figuring out how to promote your book before it comes out is a weird process. When you’re traditionally published, you have a team of professionals working with you, building buzz and anticipation for the book before it hits.

But what does that actually involve?

Every author, every book, and every publisher does things a bit differently, but here are some things I’ve done to try to get my name out into the world and to build awareness of/interest in my books:

  1. Podcasts. I love podcasts. When I was a traveling rep, podcasts and audiobooks were my lifeline, my connection to the SF/F world. As a result, I had a list of podcasts to reach out to and make appearances as a guest. I made appearances on the Functional Nerds, Speculate!, Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing, and the Roundtable Podcast, among others. And last year, I became a co-host on The Skiffy & Fanty Show, while continuing to appear as a guest on others (most recently including the SF Squeecast). Podcasts are great for verbal thinkers and people who enjoy discussion in community (I am one of those people).
  2. Blogging. I used to blog a lot more, when I was a pop culture scholar trying to get into PhD programs for cultural studies/media studies. As a writer, it’s great to share your interests and connect with people who are both readers and members of the same interests/hobbies as you. I don’t blog quite as much anymore, since I spend more of my writing time on prose, but keeping your blog at least somewhat fresh is a good way to slowly build a readership, which then sometimes transfers over to buying your books Continue reading
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Member Spotlight: Meet Writer Nigia Stephens

Posted by April 7th, 2014

Nigia Stephens author photo editedI’m excited to introduce Book Country member Nigia Stephens on the blog today. Nigia is a writer of multiple genres, an artist, and a poet with a wide array of curiosities and interests. She’s unafraid to try new things and seek out new paths for her writing–one of my very favorite characteristics in a writer! Read on to learn more about Nigia and her Book Country WIPS ARMS OF ANGELS and THE LOVE OF DANGEROUS CREATURES.

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Lucy Silag: The first book you posted to Book Country is ARMS OF ANGELS, a steampunk romance set in 1690 Jamaica. How did you come up with the concept for the book?

Nigia Stephens: ARMS OF ANGELS emerged from another novel I’d written, Children of Eden, more than fifteen years ago. I love the unconventional. There are not enough people of color, gays and lesbians, or a heady mix of intelligent-and-sexy women in the world of Fantasy or Science Fiction.  Children of Eden is a space saga that begins in our time.  The protagonist of Children of Eden is a Puerto Rican drag queen named Almond who is a direct descendant of Jovan, my pirate captain in ARMS OF ANGELS. Continue reading

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