Author Archives: Nevena Georgieva

Nevena Georgieva

About Nevena Georgieva

Nevena Georgieva is the Book Country Coordinator. She's a book lover, aspiring singer and NYC transplant. Connect with Nevena on Book Country or follow her on Twitter at @NevGeorgieva.

Writers, Fare Thee Well

Posted by March 27th, 2014

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Dear Book Country members (Hi guys!!),

Being the Book Country Assistant, and later Coordinator, was my first full-time job. It was my first time working in a big office, having my own desk and a group of people to call my team. But of course it was a lot more than that. Few people are as lucky as I have been to be able to call their job a vocation, a passion, something to get excited about doing every day.

Not only have I always been a book lover and devourer – one of those nerdy kids who lies about having homework to her friends just to be able to finish an engrossing book – but I have also felt incredibly passionate about helping writers believe in themselves and muster the courage to shout out from the rooftops, “I am a writer!”

While I am not a long-form writer myself (although I hope to become one and trust that you will welcome me with open arms and review my work-in-progress), I’m no stranger to feeling self-conscious about language. English is not my mother tongue, so the past eight years in the U.S. have been an uphill battle of proving to other people and, most importantly, to myself that I deserve to call myself an English major, a writing tutor, a graduate literary student, a publishing professional, a copywriter, a blog writer – a Writer!

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The Top 3 Entries from Our About the Book Contest

Posted by March 26th, 2014

winner-about-the-book-contestThanks to all who entered the About the Book contest on Book Country! We’ve deliberated and are ready to announce the winner. But first, we have our judge, Berkley copywriter Carly Hoogendyk, workshop the top three book descriptions. Her dissections are a great way to polish your copywriting skills! Carly wrote a fantastic back-cover copy writing guide a while back — be sure to check it out if you missed it before!

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Runner-up #1

fishing-for-hopeFISHING FOR HOPE by William Byers

This novel is a love story set in the south that derives from the perspective of three brothers. A tragic car accident occurred on Christmas Eve and claimed the lives of their wives. Each brother, living their separate life, must find a way to cope individually as well as find the strength to continue raising their daughters. This is a story that touches on brotherly love and will fully define the true meaning of what a father-daughter relationship can be under extraordinary circumstances.

First of all, based on the content of this copy, this sounds like a touching story and a worthwhile read. Unfortunately, the style of the copy suggests that it might not be told in the most compelling way. My biggest pointer is to give specific examples and details instead of just presenting the content. When it comes to book copy, the storytelling begins NOW.

That said, always include specific details like your character’s names. The story essentials will vary from case to case, but you will want to consider including character particulars like a hometown, job, foibles, and personality traits.

One unspoken rule of professional book copy is to not overtly refer to “this novel” or use the phrase “this is a story about.” In the same way that creative writing suffers imaginative losses when an author “tells” rather than “shows,” your copy ought to illustrate the characters/events/setting of your story, rather than coldly present the facts about the book you wrote.

Thus

This novel is a love story set in the south that derives from the perspective of three brothers.

becomes

On Christmas Eve in a small southern town, three brothers lost their wives in the same tragic car crash.

Instead of using the phrase “told from the perspective of…”, a fun trick to use in copy when a novel is told from the POV of multiple characters is to devote separate copy to each of those characters’ stories, suggesting that the story will focus on specifically one person’s desires, challenges, etc. If all three brothers have their own storyline, it’s important to give detailed insight into what makes their stories (and potenitally their voices) different.

(For a great example of how to suggest alternating POV’s in copy, take a look at copy for nearly any romance novel.)

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Member Spotlight: Meet Writer Isabell T. McAren

Posted by March 24th, 2014

IsabellToday we’re chatting with community member Isabell T. McAren. Isabell joined the community during NaNoWriMo and has been a fixture on the discussion forums ever since. Below we ask her questions about her writing projects on the site — the memoir BECOMING IN BOQUETE and the YA time traveling adventure RIFTERS

Read on to get Isabell’s inspiring advice about learning to accept harsh feedback!

NG: Welcome to our spotlight, Isabell. Go ahead and describe yourself as a writer in one sentence!

ITM: I am an eclectic writer who doesn’t want to be pigeonholed into one genre!

NG: You’ve self-published a memoir called BECOMING IN BOQUETE. What’s the biggest lesson you learned about yourself as a writer from that publishing experience?

ITM: I learned that it’s important for me to just finish a project and let it go, in order to allow space for the next story to flow through. Previously I’d wasted a decade obsessing over my first novel, because I stubbornly believed that the end goal of writing was to be traditionally published. Self-publishing is empowering because you don’t have to wait for someone else’s approval to put yourself out there. Also, once I gave myself permission to just write for the pure joy of it instead of trying to become rich and famous, my writing improved immensely.

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From Email to a Published Memoir: The Story of Graduates in Wonderland

Posted by March 20th, 2014

Graduates in Wonderland

Photo Credit: Ian Cook

It’s not unheard of for writers to turn their personal journals into a memoir — but what about emails? Two friends vowed to write honest accounts of their lives once a week as a way to keep in touch after graduation. Over the next few years, Jess and Rachel exchanged detailed emails about their trials and tribulations — jobs, men, the whole gamut of life in your twenties — while moving from country to country. Now their joint account will be published in May by Gotham as GRADUATES IN WONDERLAND

We asked Jess and Rachel to share their unique publication story — of how a casual email chain between friends turned into an inspiring memoir about being twenty and finding your way in the world. 

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Rachel: Do you remember the night of our graduation from Brown?

Jess: Uh, yes. Obviously. I wasn’t that drunk and we’ve only just turned 29.

Rachel: Okay, prove it. What do you remember about the pact we made that night?

Jess: We were sitting on the back steps of the house we lived in with our friends in Providence on Governor St. I think it was raining and it was really late – everyone else had already gone to bed or they were still out. And you and I were sitting outside under the awning and discussing how since we’d been through the past four years together, we felt so close to each other and to our other college friends. But we also knew how easy it is to let friendships fade away after graduation, no matter how close people are.

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Language in Ruins: Exploring the Dystopian Cautionary Tale with Alena Graedon

Posted by March 13th, 2014

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Photo © Beowulf Sheehan

The death of print is a fear that comes hand in hand with the rapid technological developments of our digital age, but in Alena Graedon’s THE WORD EXCHANGE, it has become reality. She presents a not too far-off future where over-reliance on smart digital devices impairs our ability to communicate—even think. What goes into imagining a world in which technology inhibits our thought processes? How about our speech patterns? We talk to Alena about THE WORD EXCHANGE’s “language in ruins.”

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NG: THE WORD EXCHANGE is based in the recent future—and yet the death of print and the onslaught of sixth-sense digital technology have already tremendously changed the way people live. You had to coin new words and concepts that only exist in the futuristic sci-fi world of the book and think through how a language virus would change people’s speaking and thought patterns. Can you talk about that process of creating language in a novel about language?

AG: Language is really at the center of the book, you’re absolutely right. In some sense, it’s the hero of the story. Our relationship to language has been profoundly changed by technology, and I’ve been fascinated by the implications of inviting lots of beautiful, blinking machines into our lives, and of gradually relinquishing functionalities to them that we once viewed as fundamental to ourselves—decision-making, creating and interpreting things, communicating. Setting the book in the near future helped me explore what might happen when these processes have advanced just slightly, and how things could go really wrong.

A lot of the decisions I made in writing the book came from its focus on language. For instance, I always knew that lexicographers would tell the story. Dictionary-makers are especially attuned to words—to their diachronic evolutions over time, as well as to synchronic snapshots of what our living language means at any given moment. It was also interesting to have lexicographer protagonists because the publishing industry is changing so quickly, and the shift from print to a more fragile, ephemeral digital medium leaves us vulnerable to certain losses and threats. In the book, these include the hijacking and corruption of language, and also a disease, “word flu,” which makes communication nearly impossible, increasingly isolating and alienating its victims.

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Twitter for Beginners!

Posted by March 12th, 2014

twitter_for_beginners

What It Is

Twitter is a micro-blogging social network through which millions of people communicate with each other, and with the world at large, via 140-character “tweets.” Twitter can be accessed via their website, mobile apps, text messages, or a number of third-party applications, such as HootSuite.

Twitter is a vital tool for driving site traffic and also for participating in online conversations and communities.

How It Works

When you sign up for Twitter, you select an available handle, or username, then you choose who you want to “follow.” When you follow someone, each tweet that person sends shows up in your Twitter feed. People can also follow you, of course, and the more active you are, the more people will follow you and subsequently receive your tweets. You can converse with people directly by using the @ symbol followed by the person’s handle, or you can participate in larger group chats using hashtags, which are defined by the # symbol.

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Four Questions with Science Fiction and Fantasy Editor Danielle Stockley

Posted by March 11th, 2014

d_stockleyWe are really excited to introduce Ace and Roc editor Danielle Stockley. Danielle has been a trusted counselor to us over the years and is our go-to science fiction and fantasy fiction expert. (She also edits Book Country member Kerry Schafer‘s the Books of the Between!) It is our pleasure to have her answer questions about her work at Penguin Random House on Book Country today. Read on for great tips about the craft of writing—and editing—in those genres. 

NG: What are some of the clichés in science fiction and fantasy submissions that make a manuscript an automatic “pass” for you?

DS: I hate to declare anything an automatic pass, because inevitably it will show up in something that I’ve published. There are definitely things that make me wary, though. Plots involving mind control; protagonists who are constantly developing new powers just when they are needed most; character “development” by way of sexual assault; and evil, monolithic corporations with seemingly limitless resources don’t feel especially fresh to me.

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Member Spotlight: Meet Writer Dan Croutch

Posted by March 10th, 2014

dan-croutchThis morning we welcome Book Country writer and wrimo Dan Croutch to the member spotlight! An IT admin, father, golfer, and gamer, Dan is also hard at work on his debut epic fantasy novel, THE KINGS OF CARNIN. He *just* uploaded a new version of the WIP for all of you to read and enjoy! 

NG: You joined the site during NaNoWriMo. Tell us about your experience on Book Country so far? What’s your favorite part?

DC: The experience so far on Book Country has been nothing short of great.  I found the site while doing research into the publishing industry after finishing NaNo.  It mentioned how Penguin had a site that provides tools for people to self-publish electronically.  Since this is an avenue I was interested in, I was naturally drawn to the site.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the community involvement around NaNo and the great feedback from other site members on my query and manuscript alike. There are a lot of resources for both people looking to workshop their work and also fully self-publish; it’s not just for “either—or.”

NG: How has your NaNo novel progressed, three months after NaNoWriMo is over?

DC: It hasn’t!  I’ve actually put it on hold in favor of revisions to last year’s NaNo, which also happens to be the first book in the series.  Once those changes are made and the new draft posted to Book Country, I’ll start back up.  Hopefully it’ll be finished before the next NaNoWriMo comes around.

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Military Science Fiction Lessons from Jack Campbell’s Legendary LOST FLEET Series

Posted by March 6th, 2014

john_hemry_1What’s military science fiction, you ask? Fiction in the style of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA would be the short answer. Stories about interplanetary conflict that emphasize military strategy and play-by-play  descriptions of battle scenes. To get the long answer, read our Q&A with Military SF Landmark author Jack Campbell. His Lost Fleet series recounts the adventures of naval officer Jack Geary, who “comes back from the dead” to help the Alliance stand up to its enemies—the Syndicate Worlds. 

NG: There are 15 books in the Lost Fleet universe. What’s the secret to your world’s longevity? Do you have advice for writers who want to write military science fiction worlds that make readers readers keep coming back?

JC: There are several different things that have enabled me to keep the stories coming in the Lost Fleet universe.  The first is that the initial scenario gave me so much to work with.  I had been thinking for years about how to successfully write a long “retreat in space” story.  That’s a lot harder than it may sound, because it requires a combination of technologies and ways of fighting that allow a beleaguered force to survive and continue trying to reach safety.  I had the classic long retreat book as a model (Xenophon’s March of the 10,000), which had been used by other writers in the past, and I wanted to make what I was doing feel real.  During the same period that I was thinking about how to do that story, I had also been thinking about sleeping hero legends, which are common in societies around the world.  Such legends (like that of King Arthur) say that the hero is not dead, but sleeping, and will someday return when needed.  They are probably based on real people who were, well, real people, not awesome heroes.  I wondered what it would be like for someone to awaken from a long sleep and discover that they were now thought to be an awesome hero, and that everyone was expecting them to save the day.  After years of thinking about these two ideas, I suddenly realized that they fit together perfectly.  Both required a lot of background to make them work, so the Lost Fleet stories began with a double dose of background.  That gave me a lot to build interlocking storylines about.

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SF Worldbuilding: How to Ground Your Science Fiction World with a Mystery Plot

Posted by March 4th, 2014

Alex_Hughes_AuthorBuilding believable worlds is a skill—one that can be honed. Today Mindspace Investigations series author Alex Hughes shares her techniques for marrying science fiction elements to the realism of the murder investigation crime scene. 

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Good mysteries these days have crime scenes. It’s a requirement—and not simple crime scenes either. Since CSI, mystery audiences love seeing detailed clues in crime scenes and on murder victims that help the detective solve the case. So when I sat down to write the latest book in my science fiction mystery series, I knew I needed at least one detailed crime scene. But I also wanted those real-world details to work with the science fiction/fantasy elements of my world. 

To address the mystery elements, I watched a lot of CSI and then did detailed research on forensics to get my head around the reality (and the fiction) of crime scenes. Having a real-world grounding in detail meant that I knew how forensics people and detectives both in the real world and in fiction tended to think. Then, when I added a character who could see in Mindspace (where human minds leave traces of themselves), I could add clues in a way that would help the police find the killer. I could pull ideas and situations from my research, and then add other elements on top of them; the layers and the research make the science fiction elements feel more grounded.

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