Category Archives: Basics of Writing

Run through the basics with the pros: grammar, point-of-view, dialogue, voice, pacing, and more.

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Language Book Ever by Paul Yeager: A wry and opinionated examination of trite, trendy, grammatically incorrect, inane, outdated, and lazy uses of words, phrases, and expressions.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

Share Button

5 Tips for Forming a Daily Writing Habit by Eve Karlin, Author of CITY OF LIARS AND THIEVES

Posted by June 29th, 2015

5 Tips for Forming a Daily Writing Habit by Eve Karlin, Author of CITY OF LIARS AND THIEVESEve Karlin, author of CITY OF LIARS AND THIEVES, shares 5 tips for forming a daily writing habit.

***

Persistence Is Key

For me, it is important to have a designated time and place to write. I think J.K. Rowling wrote the first book in the Harry Potter series in one coffee shop. Personally, I need a quiet place with few distractions, and it needs to be the same place every day. My desk is on a landing at the top of the stairs next to a window that overlooks our front yard. My dictionary, thesaurus, and research books are within arm’s reach—so there is no excuse to get up. On the bulletin board in front of my computer, I have an article entitled “In Writing Persistence is Key.” When I wrote CITY OF LIARS AND THIEVES, I hung portraits of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, a photo of the well where the murder took place, and a map of 18th century New York. Not only did these things inspire me, they helped me write better descriptions in my novel.

Some writers use outlines. I keep a table of contents to record what happens in each chapter and jot down ideas for later chapters. I also keep a “recycle file,” which makes it easier to cut things without necessarily trashing them. I can edit faster that way without getting hung up on keeping a certain turn of phrase. These tricks work for me. The most essential component for success is to find a routine and system that works for you.

Don’t Be a Perfectionist

While it is important to establish a routine, it is equally important not to beat yourself up if you slack off for a day or so. The important thing is to get back to it. You should want to get back to it. When I am not writing, my day is not complete. This is not because I am such a natural. It is because writing has become a habit for me.

Nothing is written in indelible ink. If you are working on a first draft, just focus on getting the story down. The most important first step is to simply get the story down. Continue reading

Share Button

Member Spotlight: Meet Jayden Abello

Posted by June 2nd, 2015

Member Spotlight: Meet Jayden AbelloWe’re happy to feature Jayden Abello on the Book Country blog! Jayden is currently workshopping BREAKING THE BAND. BREAKING THE BAND is a finalist in The Cleveland Rocks Romance Contest. Connect with Jayden on Book Country

***

Janet Umenta: In your Book Country profile, you list Colleen Hoover and Tammara Webber as your favorite authors. How have these authors influenced your writing?

Jayden Abello: Collen Hoover and Tammara Webber were the first two New Adult authors I ever read. SLAMMED and EASY both pulled me in with their amazing characters and realistic story lines. I’ll try to study them to figure out the story beats and the act structure, and I just can’t. Once I turn the page, I get sucked into the stories every single time. I’ve read those books countless times. They’re that good.

When those books came out, New Adult was barely a thing. But I had ideas for similar types of stories floating around in my head for years. Seeing how they were able to captivate the market made me think my ideas could find readers as well. So I started writing. And rewriting. Continue reading

Share Button

New Top Rated Titles on Book Country!

Posted by May 18th, 2015

Check out the Top Rated Carousel on Book Country!

We’ve updated the Top Rated carousel on Book Country’s Read and Review page. Check it out!

Continue reading

Share Button

Member Spotlight: Meet Speculative Fiction Writer Gloria Oliver

Posted by April 7th, 2015

Member Spotlight: Meet Speculative Fiction Writer Gloria OliverWe’re happy to have Book Country member Gloria Oliver with us today! Gloria is currently workshopping INNER DEMONS, an urban fantasy novel. INNER DEMONS is one of April’s Editor’s Picks on Book Country. INNER DEMONS was published by Mundania Press in early 2014. Gloria shares what it means to be a speculative fiction writer and tips on choosing the perfect title.

***

Lucy Silag: Tell us more about yourself. How did you become a writer, and how did you find your way to Book Country?

Gloria Oliver: As I kid, I always had a hard time falling asleep. This led me to making up stories in my head to entertain myself until slumber finally came. One day, one of these stories kept bugging me to actually put it on paper – so I did. A few years later, the bug bit me again as I got a neat idea for a fantasy novel, and this time the infection set in deep. I’ve not looked back since.

I heard about Book Country back when it was being put together. The day job at the time had slow days here and there, and I’d found out about an evil Outlook add-on that would convert Twitter items to email and put them into a personal folder. This was just around the time social media was catching on big time, and I followed people like Kristen Lamb, Chuck Wendig, and many other writers and publishers. Through them, I learned of Colleen Lindsay from Penguin and followed her as well. And soon after Colleen started talking about a venture she was very excited about – a “Sekret Projekt” she was involved in, one where she and her peers hoped to create a place where authors could meet, share, help each other, and create a long lasting community.

Colleen even did a ‘reveal’ presentation in Dallas during the DFW Writers Conference back in 2011. The goals and concept of Book Country sounded fascinating and well thought out, so I signed up! Continue reading

Share Button

Tips For Using Pinterest to Promote Your Book

Posted by March 24th, 2015

Tips For Using Pinterest to Promote Your BookPinterest is a fun, image-based social media platform that allows users to pinall sorts of pictures on boards. As a writer, you might be wondering how you can use Pinterest to promote your book. One powerful aspect about Pinterest is that pins give a visual element to your story. Pins can get repinned”  for months or even years to come. For tips on how writers can use Pinterest, we decided to ask Book Country members Jaycee Ford and Alex Rosa how they use Pinterest to promote their books.

***

Janet Umenta: How did you get started on Pinterest? What advice would you give to writers who are hesitant to join “another social media site?”

 Alex Rosa: I think Pinterest is this beautifully organized chaos, which makes it less daunting than other social media sites. So when someone tells me they aren’t sure of giving it a go, I tell them that there’s no pressure. If anything, you can use it as a creative outlet rather than as an output of information. Continue reading

Share Button

Book Country Member Spotlight: Meet Fantasy Writer Amber Wolfe

Posted by February 25th, 2015

Book Country Member Spotlight: Meet Fantasy Writer Amber WolfeAmber Wolfe joined Book Country in July 2014 and is currently workshopping SCARLET CRIMSON and DESTINY’S BOND. Both titles have been featured in Book Country’s Top Rated and Editor’s Picks sections. Amber is wonderfully supportive to fellow members in the discussion boards, and it’s been great to see her writing evolve. In this Q&A, Amber shares what inspired her to start writing fantasy novels.

***

Janet Umenta: The fight scenes in DESTINY’S BOND are intense! Did you refer to any guide or book while you were writing them?

Amber Wolfe: Actually, yes. My inspiration for fight scenes comes from other fantasy novels I’ve read, where battles are intense and heated. I try to draw off the knowledge of the authors who wrote the books, what made their fight scenes so fascinating and fun to read. Then I go from there and hope for the best. My imagination and my characters usually take care of the rest.

JU: You list several favorite writers on your Book Country profile page, including Anne Bishop. Have you incorporated any of their writing styles into your own books?

AW: Oh, Anne Bishop is my favorite author! I do like to think a bit of her style has leaked into my own. She’s an inspiration to me. In fact, it was while reading the last book of her TIR ALAINN series that I had an epiphany of how to rework the second half of DESTINY’S BOND. I can make the series move along much faster if I go about the redrafting right. Continue reading

Share Button

February Top Rated Books on Book Country

Posted by February 17th, 2015

February Top Rated Books on Book Country

We’re excited to share with you the Top Rated books for February 2015. Check them out and leave a review!

Continue reading

Share Button

Waiting to be Discovered Books on Book Country

Posted by February 9th, 2015

Waiting to be Discovered books on Book Country

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. All thanks to you! Here are our Waiting to Be Discovered books: Continue reading

Share Button

“Keep writing, no matter what.” Book Country Member Kelli Mahoney, winner of The Writers’ Academy Sweepstakes

Posted by January 28th, 2015

Book Country Member Kelli MahoneyBook Country member Kelli Mahoney won the intensive creative writing course offered by Penguin Random House Writers’ Academy in our sweepstakes last November. The Writers’ Academy is offering a new online creative writing class for beginners with Jane Lawson in March. Kelli shares what she’s learned from Michal Shavit, Editorial Director at Harvill Secker, and the best writing advice she’s received from the course. Connect with Kelli on Book Country

***

Janet Umenta: What has been your favorite session so far in the course?

Kelli Mahoney: I don’t know if I can choose a favorite.  Every week poses a challenge and an opportunity to push me outside my comfort zone.  The writing assignments push me to create a more compelling and cleaner story, and the advice provided in the videos and readings are priceless.  I do like the progression from character development to plot.   Also, the writing prompts have opened up the flood gates of creativity, so sometimes we’ll have a 500 word piece to write that suddenly becomes a 6,000 word chapter of the book I’ve been working on. Continue reading

Share Button