Monthly Archives: June 2014

Dan Croutch’s Tips for Querying Agents

Posted by June 16th, 2014

tips for querying agents smallerI came up with these tips for querying agents when I started querying my book THE KINGS OF CARNIN: RISE OF ARI to agents about eight months ago.

First, I created a list of agents based on some online resources and the suggestions of published folks. Each agent was ranked based on their success with clients.

I chose to send off a batch of snail mail queries first. My first rejection was exciting; a badge of honor.  Now that I had it I felt I was truly well on my way to publishdom. The second was less exciting and the fourth was just plain discouraging. Querying agents is a really emotional process, one where every letter or email sent faces an astonishing battle of the odds.

One of my queries, the third to this agent I’ll admit, resulted in a “partial.” This is where the agent wants to see the first chunk of the manuscript. Huzzah, finally people can see my work! That’s what I had been saying all along – “if only they could read this.”  That rejection was particularly sobering and quite a setback. Thankfully, some feedback from Book Country members came in shortly thereafter and restarted the passion for my work. Now I can hardly wait for an agent to request my first “full” – the whole manuscript – and maybe even representation! Continue reading

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Member Spotlight: Meet Military Thriller Writer John Franklin

Posted by June 13th, 2014

John Franklin on Book CountryToday we are talking to Book Country member John Franklin, whose book SIERRA OVERDRIVE is a June Editor’s Pick. Connect with John on Book Country, and read on to find out more about his book and how he’s using Book Country to write and revise a story that’s been thinking about for ten years.


Lucy Silag: How did you find out about Book Country? What made you want to be a part of the community?

John Franklin: I first heard about Book Country on National Public Radio. I’d had an idea for a novel that had been rattling around in my head for probably ten years. I decided that if I could write some of it out I could put it up on Book Country so people could read it. If it got good reviews I would keep working on it. If it got bad reviews I would at least be taking on a new challenge. I didn’t know if I had enough talent to write a story that people would want to read but I really wanted to try. Sometimes I’m still surprised I had the courage to put it out where people could read it. People I don’t even know! Continue reading

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Read and Review Our New Waiting to Be Discovered Titles!

Posted by June 12th, 2014

Waiting to Be Discovered

A new set of Waiting to Be Discovered books is featured on the Read and Review page!

Every time we update the Waiting to Be Discovered carousel, we are always blown away by the diverse array of books we feature, and it’s all thanks to you! Here is a list of our Waiting to Be Discovered books:

  1. The Thief, the Guns, & the Planet  by Kevin James Miller
  2. Satan’s Lure by DJ Pizzarello   
  3. The So Good Girls  by Gary Horsman
  4. Sherina’s Quest  Romana Drew                                                             
  5. When She Wakes  by lindajames  
  6. Alone  by Dbl_Jay                        
  7. Awaking Arion  by M.L. Mundy        
  8. God’s Trailer Park Garden by Judy Peck        
  9. Dad, My Brother, and Me  by J.C. O’ Brien    
  10. Kallaway’s Conquest by Olivia Martin

For help on leaving critical feedback, read our blog post, 3 Ways to Give Great Writing Feedback on Book Country. Make a writer’s day and leave a helpful review!

Have a new idea for a book? Discuss in our discussion boards


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How To Let Book Country Members Know When You’ve Published a Book

Posted by June 11th, 2014

Are you a Book Country member who’s published a book? Share your news with the community. Here’s how:

(Click on the images to expand.)


Tell us about it on your profile page, either in the section for your short bio, or in the section where you describe your reading and writing.

Click to expand

It’s also a good idea to mention the name of your publisher and the online retailers where your book can be purchased.


Post an announcement on the Book Country Discussion Boards. We have a forum dedicated to “Member News & Announcements.”
Continue reading

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Which Type of Writing Guide Is Right for You, Right Now?

Posted by June 10th, 2014

Which type of writing guide is right for you right now

Many writers begin a story on a whim, and before long they’re taking an imaginary joy ride. Writing a novel is fun: the words flow . . . and then they don’t. Like Consumer Reports testing a car for safety, your writermobile slams into a wall. Now what?

Writing guides abound to address everything that stymies us. Search among the six types of resources to find a match for your problem or need.

Inspiration and Contemplation

These books prime the pump of imagination, help you generate ideas, and nudge you out of an unproductive rut. One of the best guides is The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. Her 12-week study that addresses and overcomes all manner of “blocks” can open the floodgates of productivity and confidence. Cameron’s “morning pages” and “artist’s dates” have sustained millions of writers.

The Writer’s Life and Writing

We all want to know what famous writers think, how they write, and how they “made it.” The King, Stephen King, in On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, tells vivid stories about his life including drug addiction, alcoholism, and being hit by a car. He kept writing novels through nearly all of the difficulties, often mining them for his stories. King’s book includes reading lists, excellent craft advice, examples to model, and writing assignments.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott, is seductive. Her honesty in laying bare her messy life, with humor, beckons the reader to do the same. By example and by the techniques she shares, Lamott urges readers to expect and move past “the shitty first draft.”

How to Write a Novel

Almost all novels have similar whole-book structure. If you’ve written your story “organically,” you may be out on a limb and need to return to the trunk. Three books will straighten you out. How to Write a Story: The Secrets of Writing a Captivating Tale, was written by Peter Rubie, agent and former book doctor for New York publishers, and Gary Provost, a master teacher and author of over 20 novels. This how-to-write book is straight-forward, clear, practical, specific, and almost foolproof for any writer who follows its directions. Continue reading

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5 Tips Writers Should Borrow from the Ad Industry by Meghan Harvey

Posted by June 9th, 2014

Meghan HarveyMy husband is a creative lead at an advertising agency here in Portland, and I recently returned to books after a stint in brand marketing, so we often find ourselves talking shop at home. Whether it’s the shortcomings of different storyboards, scripts, and pitches he’s crafting; the strength of the cover design or flap copy for the latest novel I’m working with; or the business end of the client-creative relationship, we have a lot of overlapping space in the Venn diagram of our careers.

You might think that the production of a piece of fiction has little in common with the production of a TV commercial for Nike’s new kicks, but the ad industry uses strategies on a daily basis that authors should learn to love and leverage. Here, the 5 tips writers should borrow from the ad industry:

Distill your story

The advertiser’s central challenge is to condense complex messages into extremely small spaces—a thirty-second video or a single image in a magazine. Space and time are premium, so advertisers are strategic and selective about each word they use.

It’s equally important for writers to exercise control over their story. What would happen if you were to take a hard look at your novel and scrub everything out but the essential elements? You just might begin to approach the transcendent brilliance of writers like Ernest Hemingway, master of the concise. It’s a common and tempting mistake to want so desperately for your reader to pick up what you’re putting down that you end up hitting them over the head. Trust your reader to do more with less.

Continue reading

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Member Spotlight: Meet Mystery Writer DJ Lutz

Posted by June 6th, 2014

DJ LutzToday we’re getting to know Book Country member DJ Lutz. His WIP on Book Country is a fun, fast-paced Cozy Mystery called THE APPLE PIE ALIBI.

Lucy Silag: How did you get started writing in the Cozy Mystery genre?

DJ Lutz: I started writing about six years ago, experimenting with different forms, genres and voices. Since mysteries had always been a favorite of mine to read, writing them came easier to me than other genres. I eventually drifted toward cozy mysteries because the style seemed to mirror my own life: somewhat fun with a twist of dry humor, not too much violence at all, and full of quirky characters. My life to a T, without the requisite dead body.

LS: Who are your favorite Cozy Mystery authors? What have you learned from reading their work?

DL: In general, I have always loved the intellectual process used by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; and I certainly enjoy the whimsical inventiveness of Agatha Christie. I suppose my slant toward the culinary mystery could be due to my quest of reading the entire Rex Stout collection. But of those, I suppose only Agatha would count as a true cozy writer. They all help, though, in that they have shown me it is possible to write a challenging mystery in such a way the reader doesn’t think about the format. They succeed in creating a world of characters that force us to keep turning the page! Recently, I have also started reading Diane Mott Davidson. She is an awesome scribe and very prolific in the culinary mystery sub-genre. I enjoy her books and have discovered it is possible, and sometimes best to break the rules! Continue reading

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New Book Country Editor’s Picks for June!

Posted by June 5th, 2014

Book Country Editor's Picks June 2014

Every month, we at Book Country feature 10 manuscripts in the “Editor’s Picks” carousel. Reading great books inspires great writing. We hope reading and leaving feedback on your fellow members’ works will help you in your writing journey!

Editor’s Picks for June 2014

Revising you manuscript? Share your thoughts (or let off steam) in the discussion boards!

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Why #WeNeedDiverseBooks Helps Writers

Posted by June 4th, 2014


#WeNeedDiverseBooks has been a rallying cry among readers and writers on social media, calling to attention the lack of diversity in books, particularly in children’s and young adult genres.

It’s great to see so much attention focused on this important issue. Reading was a big part of my life growing up, but I always wished for more black female heroines in the children’s section of the library. According to a University of Wisconsin study, less than 8% of children’s books were written by or about people of color in 2013. Books are powerful in shaping how children and young adults view themselves and the world. In this increasingly connected and diverse society, it’s important that all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, disability, class, or sexual orientation, are able to experience the joy of seeing their stories told on paper.

Why #WeNeedDiverseBooks Helps Writers

Writers play a key role in making sure the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign is a success. Readers are more than ready for diverse characters and plots in books.  This is a great time to look into writing about different cultures and people you haven’t considered before.

The myth that books featuring people of color as main characters are too “niche” and do not sell is false. #WeNeedDiverseBooks shows that there is a strong market for books that portray the diversity of our world.

What Writers Can Do

#WeNeedDiverseBooks challenges us to step away from our comfort zone and write about characters that may not look like us. Here are a few things writers can do:

  • Get acquainted with the wonderful writers, readers, and bloggers who are spearheading the campaign. A great place to start is the #WeNeedDiverseBooks Twitter page.
  • Join the #WeNeedDiverseBooks conversation in our discussion board: Writing the “Other”
  • Support books that depict diversity. Whether you read romance or science-fiction, show that books with diverse characters, cultures, and lifestyles are valued.
  • Commit to writing about a character with a different race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation than you. Just starting can open the door to new possibilities. The Summer Writers Club is a great avenue for this.

Leave a comment below telling us how you feel about the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign. Also, drop by our discussion boards and share your plans or experiences writing the “other.”


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Historical Romance Writer Madeline Hunter On Revising, Writing Visually, and Humor

Posted by June 3rd, 2014

the accidental duchessWe are proud to have Madeline Hunter with us today! Madeline is an award-winning historical romance author whose books have been translated in twelve languages and featured on the USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly, and New York Times bestseller lists. Her new book, THE ACCIDENTAL DUCHESS, is published by Jove, an imprint of Berkley Books. It features the unlikely love affair between Lady Lydia and the Duke of Penthurst in 18th century England. In this Q&A, Madeline shares her love of revision (or not), how her art history background influences her work, and what inspires her humor. 


Janet Umenta: Most writers would agree that revising is difficult, but what was the most enjoyable part when revising THE ACCIDENTAL DUCHESS?

Madeline Hunter: I love to revise! It is far easier than writing new material for me, so the danger is I will spend my working time revising, if given the choice. The really enjoyable part of revising is when my editor asks for what I call substantive revisions (as in rewriting whole sections.) It is such a cool team project then, so I dig right in, glowing with renewed inspiration. (No one is believing this, right? See question #5 about my sense of humor.) Continue reading

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