Monthly Archives: September 2015

Book Country at Moonlight & Magnolias 2015

Posted by September 30th, 2015

I couldn’t be more excited to head down to Atlanta this weekend for the Georgia Romance Writers regional conference, Moonlight & Magnolias 2015!

Official MandM logo general

I’ll be the featured industry speaker on Saturday afternoon. Here are the details:

Saturday, October 3
2-3:50pm
Atlanta Marriott Northwest at Galleria

Treat Your Book Like a Start-Up

Join us to learn about Book Country, Penguin Random House’s writing and publishing community, and how the site has helped writers to write their best books, connect with audiences, and publish with the support of a community. This session is designed to help Georgia Romance Writers figure out the next step toward reaching their writing and publishing goals. Each participant will leave with a customized, immediate, and actionable plan for their book or work-in-progress based on where they are in the writing process. Continue reading

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4 Reasons to Go to a Writers Conference

Posted by September 29th, 2015

We’ll be meeting up with longtime Book Country member and romance writer Noelle Pierce this weekend at Moonlight and Magnolias 2015, the annual conference of the Georgia Romance Writers in Atlanta. Below Noelle (who’s been involved in the Moonlight and Magnolias Conference for many years) offers 4 reasons to go to a writers conference.

  1. To network with other writers at various stages in their careers. A conference is one of the best places to meet a critique partner or writing mentor. It’s also a place to be with like-minded individuals. I cherish those few days a year where I can walk up to virtually anyone and have something in common with him/her.
  2. To pitch to editors and/or agents. Some of us have a hard time translating our enthusiasm for a project into the written word. Sometimes talking about our stories leads to an infectious excitement that makes others want to hear more. If you’re one of the latter, then a conference is the perfect place to get your story to an industry professional. This doesn’t have to be at a formal pitch session, but at a luncheon or at the bar. NEVER, under ANY circumstances, follow an editor or agent into a restroom to pitch. It won’t end well. In that same vein, I’ve met editors and agents when I didn’t have a book to pitch, and we ended up talking about the stories anyway. They often suggest I query them when the story’s ready, which means I have something specific to put on the query letter in that “why I chose to send this to you” section.
  3. To hone your craft, get inspired, or learn something new about the changes in our industry. Workshops are part of conferences. You can take sessions with bestselling authors, eager to teach you what they know. Learn about different topics, such as branding yourself, audiobooks, or even how a seasoned pantser can learn to embrace the joys of plotting (I’m a plotser, myself, so I see the good in both). Characterization, dialogue, setting up Goal-Motivation-Conflict in scenes, how to format your book for self-publishing, how to find time to write, what to look for in a book cover…these are all areas I’ve had the pleasure of learning at various conferences. If there’s an area you need to improve, workshops are the place to do it.
  4. To meet readers. There is usually a book signing that takes place at the conferences I’ve attended, and those are usually open to the public. Some conferences rely heavily on authors attending (e.g., Romance Writers of America’s Annual Conference), but many are also open for readers and fans to attend (e.g., The Romantic Times Convention). Some, like Authors After Dark, are more geared toward the readers/fans, with only a relative handful of writers attending as “authors.”

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10 Books to Help Improve Grammar and Writing Basics

Posted by September 28th, 2015

Penguin editor and YA author Meg Leder offers the Book Country community a terrific tool: a list of excellent books on grammar and writing basics. Stock your personal library with these guides to grow both your confidence and your craft as a writer.

writing guides collage

Books on Grammar Guidance

Worried your writing is rife with grammar and spelling errors? These great guides will help you polish your work.

  • Woe Is I by Patricia T. O’Conner: Down-to-earth guidance that de-mystifies the confusing world of grammar, spelling, and pronunciation.
  • Words Into Type, Third Edition by Marjorie E. Skillin and Robert Malcolm Gay: Definitive and credible source for writers on manuscript etiquette, copyediting, style, grammar, and usage.
  • Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies by June Casagrande: If you’re tired of the grammar police but still need to learn the basics, you’ll love this humorous and lively approach to learning grammar. Also check out the author’s other book, Mortal Syntax, for another fun guide—this time on frequently attacked language usage choices.
  • The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White: This classic style manual is a must have for any writer.
  • Literally, the Best Language Book Ever by Paul Yeager: A wry and opinionated examination of trite, trendy, grammatically incorrect, inane, outdated, and lazy uses of words, phrases, and expressions.
  • The Copyeditor’s Handbook by Amy Einsohn: A dynamic manual for both newbie authors who want to learn the ropes and writing veterans who want to hone their craft.

Continue reading

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How Can Published Authors Use Book Country?

Posted by September 23rd, 2015

 

Nonfiction_Nonfiction

When I’m telling writers about the Book Country community, I often get asked how writers who’ve already published can get involved on the site. Here are a few ways how published authors can use Book Country:

Have a book coming out?

Writers of all levels of experience use Book Country to workshop their manuscripts. We have 1:1 feedback on Book Country, which means that members have to review another writer’s book before they can post their own. We find that for a member’s first review, they are most likely to review a book with a great professional cover, a sharp synopsis, and, of course, a lower word count. Published authors can upload an excerpt of their forthcoming book as a preview. On Book Country, we have a built in audience of members seeking things to read. Just be sure and let the community know that what you upload is your final draft, and be prepared to get suggestions for revision even if you’re not going to use the feedback right now–it might be useful to you later. Be sure to include when and where folks can buy the book when it’s out! You can see how Penguin Intermix author Alex Rosa did this for her book TRYST before it came out last spring.

Already have a book out?

Again, using Book Country as a place to showcase an excerpt is a great way to give your book exposure to a built in audience. This is how I found out about Jessica Hawkins’s book COME UNDONE, and now her Cityscape series is one of my all-time favorite romance trilogies. Book Country’s blog and discussion boards can also help published authors brainstorm new ideas for marketing and promotion (check out how GD Deckard is sharing his experience using Google Adwords for his book THE PHOENIX DIARY), and connecting with other writers will help you build a network of contacts. Last week, when Book Country member Janice Peacock’s cozy mystery HIGH STRUNG was rereleased by Booktrope, she was interviewed on member DJ Lutz’s blog. These two met on the site and have been supporting each other ever since. Continue reading

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Alex Rosa: How I Designed My Book Cover for FAHRENHEIT

Posted by September 22nd, 2015

Happy book birthday to Book Country member Alex Rosa–her latest book, FAHRENHEIT, pubs today!

When I found out that Alex designed this gorgeous, sexy cover for FAHRENHEIT herself, I had to find out more. Alex explains her DIY approach to cover design below.

***

Everyone says, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” which is true, but you can’t help but “oohh” and “aahh” over an enticing one. Although we aren’t supposed to take a book at face value, it should still exemplify what the book holds inside at least a little bit, which is what we are all trying to go for as authors in this ever evolving world of publishing. Here’s how I designed my book cover.

Fahrenheit cover lo res

FAHRENHEIT (out today!) is my first leap into the erotica genre, and since it has some risqué subject matter I knew it was important for the cover to feel edgy, sexy, and forbidden. I have a plethora of tools to work with in Photoshop (an Adobe design program), but I knew I wanted an illustrated look to the cover rather than people or places. I wanted something more conceptual rather than realistic.

If you’re choosing to design the cover yourself there are many stock image websites where you can find illustrations and photographs to license.

Recommended stock image websites:

If you can’t find a stock image you like, you can also consider seeking out a favorite photographer that might have a photo in their portfolio for you to license for a fee. Continue reading

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VIDEO: 5 Mistakes Every Writer Should Avoid

Posted by September 21st, 2015

Become a savvier author in 15 minutes!

In this video tutorial, editors Meghan Harvey and Christina Henry de Tessan share the 5 Mistakes Every Writer Should Avoid:

  1. Don’t forget your reader.

  2. Don’t fly blind.

  3. Don’t rush the process.

  4. Your editorial team is on your side.

  5. Don’t wait to build your audience.

Take a seat and get schooled on how you can avoid these mistakes as you work to reach your writing goals.

Continue reading

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BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert: Inspiration + Galley Giveaway

Posted by September 16th, 2015

Elizabeth Gilbert, the hugely popular author of the mega-bestseller Eat Pray Love and other literary fiction and memoir titles, is back this fall with an incredible new book about creativity. The new book is called BIG MAGIC: Creative Living Beyond Fear and we could *not* be more excited for it to go on sale next Tuesday, September 22.

BIG MAGIC cover

To celebrate BIG MAGIC, Book Country is giving away five galleys of the book. You can enter the galley giveaway here.

All summer, Elizabeth Gilbert has been stoking the conversation about creativity on her Facebook page with beautiful inspirational quotes (our favorites are below) and on her awesome podcast, Magic Lessons, which features writers like Ann Patchett, Rob Bell, Cheryl Strayed, and others offering advice for how to keep that creative fire burning. You’ll be itching to get back to your WIP after just one episode.

Click through each of these images to share them on your own Facebook wall.

5.18-Motivation-Monday Continue reading

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A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A WRITER: Jessica Hawkins

Posted by September 15th, 2015

Today we’re following Book Country member Jessica Hawkins, contemporary romance author of The Cityscape series and the Night Fever serial), around San Francisco as she knocks an author signing event out of the park.

8:00am

1__writingToday is my 5th author signing in 2 years, the San Francisco Golden Gate Author Event, which mostly consists of writers in my genre, contemporary romance, and its subgenres, like paranormal or YA. It doesn’t start until late morning, so I squeeze in a coffee and few hundred words before I have to head over to the hotel.

10:45am

2_signingsetup

Set up takes about half an hour & I’ve been assigned an assistant, who helps me construct my banner and lay out my books. (I’ve brought 8 titles, so it’s harder than it looks to display them all.) Also on my table: my iPad, for my book trailer & mailing list, and to accept credit cards; tote bags, which are a great advertisement for an event like this; swag like rack cards, business cards, and buttons. Continue reading

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Janice Peacock: The Serendipitous Path to a Publisher

Posted by September 14th, 2015

HIGH STRUNGIt’s fabulous to have Book Country member Janice Peacock back on the blog this morning to celebrate the rerelease of her debut cozy mystery HIGH STRUNG, originally workshopped here on Book Country. Read on for the story of how Janice found her publisher, Booktrope.

A new edition of my novel, HIGH STRUNG: A Glass Bead Mystery, was released today. I had self-published my cozy mystery last year, but this time around it has been published by Booktrope—a real publisher—not just me winging it in the wee hours. And while this is exciting news, at least for me, the story behind how I ended up with a publisher is the stuff that good tales are made of: fear, dumb luck, bravery, and ultimately a happy ending.

In January I sat in a cafe drinking coffee with my friend Kim. The San Francisco Writers Conference was coming up in a month and I told Kim I was thinking about going, but that I was nervous about it. I was worried that I wasn’t a real writer, even though I had self-published a book the previous year. I hadn’t been writing for long and was worried that someone would expose me as an impostor or that I’d embarrass myself by being such a newbie.

Kim told me to go and just “breathe the air” at the conference. She encouraged me by saying that I didn’t need to do anything but be there and absorb what information I could.  The next day I sat at my computer, shut my eyes, and I clicked the Submit button on the registration form for the conference. I was going. And I was going to be brave.

A month later I stood outside the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco. I had arrived ridiculously early, so I sat in the lobby chatting with a couple from out of town, giving them sightseeing advice. When it was time for the first session, I filed into a large conference room with the rest of the attendees. The first thing the moderator did was ask each audience member who had brought a book that they’d written to hold it above his or her head. I held up my empty hand and told the moderator that I had sold the book I had brought to the tourists in the lobby, and received a small cheer.  Maybe the weekend was going to be okay after all.

Janice Peacock at SFWC

Janice Peacock at the San Francisco Writers Conference 2015, holding a copy of the self-published version of HIGH STRUNG.

I hadn’t signed up to do the Pitch-a-Thon, that was over-the-top intimidating to me. For the uninitiated, a pitch-a-thon is like speed-dating with agents and publishers, instead of potential mates. Authors move from table to table pitching their story in three minute sessions with the hope that an agent or publisher will be interested in seeing a full manuscript. The prospect of pitching my book scared me to death. Instead, I went and sat on a bench in the park across from the hotel, soaking in the sun during the pitching session. I had breathed enough conference air for the day.

 In the final hours of the conference, I sat at a round table in a ballroom with some of the other attendees. I’d learned a lot during the conference and I’d met authors like me who had a love of words, books, and stories. There was a raffle and I won a prize—a free pass to go to a Pitch-o-Rama hosted by the Women’s National Book Association in San Francisco. Of all the prizes, this was the one that I didn’t want. I was going to have to pitch my book to publishers and agents, the thing I’d so actively tried to avoid during this conference.

A few weeks later I was standing outside the Women’s Building at the Pitch-o-Rama, armed with my manuscript, business cards, and a look of grim determination. Okay, maybe not that grim, but determined, nonetheless. I’d done my research; I knew which agents and publishers I wanted to pitch my book to.  This event would be good practice. I could learn to talk about my book in a clear, concise, and exciting way. I didn’t need to find a publisher that day, I could continue to self-publish. But still, did I want a real publisher? Yes, I did. Continue reading

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Member Spotlight: Erotica Author Olivia Glass

Posted by September 9th, 2015

oliviaglass.comHow would I describe Book Country member Olivia Glass to someone who doesn’t have the pleasure of knowing her yet? First, I’d say that Olivia is one of the most community-oriented writers I’ve ever come across: very active in the communities around the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (where she got her MFA), the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, adjunct faculty organizations, Philadelphia-based writers, and erotica writing. Second, I’d say that she’s an intrepid explorer of the rapidly changing publishing landscape: eager to try new ways to reach readers and enthusiastic about connecting with them online.

Today we are celebrating the release of her novella FIVE STAGES OF GRIEF, which she published right here on Book Country. Check out the heap of praise Olivia has gotten for her erotica:

“Angsty and hotter than hell . . .” Iris Blaire, author of Exposure

“Yes, this is a good story, but it’s a hot story. Glass is an author who knows how to write a blush-inducing sex scene . . . You’ll absolutely want to read this well-crafted, deliciously written lesbian love story again.” Erika Almond

“Glass takes readers on an emotional journey as three women learn to live and love again after heartbreak . . .” Elizabeth Franklin, Portland Book Review

“Olivia Glass spins a mesmerizing story of lust, love, betrayal and so much more… hot erotica wrapped up inside a strong, compelling story.” Jon Pressick

FIVE STAGES OF GRIEF lo res

Lucy Silag: Tell us about writing your erotic novella FIVE STAGES OF GRIEF, and how it was originally published. Continue reading

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