Category Archives: Developing Your Story

From characters and plotlines to setting and worldbuilding, every story needs to grow and develop in many ways. Entertain tips from industry insiders.

GABRIEL FINLEY & THE RAVEN’S RIDDLE: Interview with Author George Hagen and Editor Anne Schwartz

Posted by March 31st, 2015

GABRIEL FINLEY & THE RAVEN'S RIDDLE: Interview with Author George Hagen and Editor Anne SchwartzI had an amazing time reading GABRIEL FINLEY & THE RAVEN’S RIDDLE! Published by Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, GABRIEL FINLEY follows twelve-year-old Gabriel on his journey to find his missing father with the help of his riddle-loving raven, Paladin. Set in Brooklyn, New York, this story was full of magic and plot twists; I didn’t know if Gabriel was going to make it until the very end! Author George Hagen shares what inspired him to write GABRIEL FINLEY and his experience writing for children for the first time. Anne Schwartz, the editor of GABRIEL FINLEY, shares what’s it like when a book clicks for her.

***

Janet Umenta: Your two previously published books were written for adults. What made you decide to write a children’s book? How would you compare writing for adults with writing for children?

George Hagen: My younger daughter Lola challenged me to write her a book. She was 10 and specified that it should be both exciting and magical. I loved stories like that at her age, but my adult books were quite realistic in tone. Every weekend we took family walks across the Brooklyn Bridge to Chinatown for lunch, and I had to invent a story engaging enough to keep Lola walking. I learned quickly what kept her interest. Her favorite situations were a) when magic goes wrong, b) when children are more competent than adults, and c) when children have the power to communicate with animals. So, I followed those rules. 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

How a Real-Life Murder Mystery in 18th Century New York Led to CITY OF LIARS AND THIEVES by Eve Karlin

Posted by March 18th, 2015

How a Real-Life Murder Mystery in 18th Century New York Led to CITY OF LIARS AND THIEVES by Eve KarlinWhile reading Eve Karlin’s historical fiction novel CITY OF LIARS AND THIEVES, which is published by Alibi, I was struck by Eve’s powerful use of imagery that made me feel like I was living in 18th century Lower Manhattan. The street names were familiar: Spring Street, Bowery Lane, Greenwich Street, Chambers Street, Wall Street. But the detailed description of the boats bobbing along the New York harbor, the gritty and packed city blocks, and the sounds of a growing working-class invoked the spirit of a different era. Eve shares the real-life murder mystery that inspired her to write CITY OF LIARS AND THIEVES and the questions she encountered during her research that led to her novel.

***

I did not set out to write a historical novel. Six years ago, while reading a biography on Alexander Hamilton, I came across a reference to a story that reached out and shook me.

In December 1799, a young woman named Elma Sands vanished on the snowy streets of Manhattan. Twelve days later, her corpse was found floating in an abandoned well, and her lover, Levi Weeks, was arrested for murder. The brutal slaying of a beautiful girl rocked the city—as similar crimes do today—but it was the trial that made the case truly sensational: Levi was defended by Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr four years before their infamous duel. Continue reading

Share Button

VIDEO: Author Alex Rosa Shares How Penguin InterMix Picked Up TRYST On Book Country

Posted by March 4th, 2015

Watch our interview with Book Country member Alex Rosa as she shares how her New Adult novel, TRYST, got the attention of an editor at Penguin Random House. TRYST was picked up by Penguin InterMix and comes out March 17, 2015. Congratulations, Alex!

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

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

Enter THE THORN OF DENTONHILL Sweepstakes!

Posted by January 27th, 2015

THE THORN OF DENTONHILL Giveaway

Congratulations to Book Country member Marshall Ryan Maresca! His debut fantasy novel, THE THORN OF DENTONHILL comes out February 3, 2015! Marshall originally workshopped THE THORN OF DENTONHILL on Book Country, and was picked up by DAW Books.

To celebrate Marshall’s release, we are asking you to describe your own fantasy world in one sentence in the discussion thread for a chance to win one of ten advance copies of THE THORN OF DENTONHILL!  You may also email your submission to info@bookcountry.com with the subject line “THE THORN OF DENTONHILL Sweepstakes.”

To help you get started, Marshall shares his advice on the worldbuilding process below. The deadline to enter is 11:59 PM Eastern Time on February 2, 2015 Continue reading

Share Button

Five Reasons to Take an Online Writing Class in 2015 by Sharon Oard Warner

Posted by January 21st, 2015

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”                          – Zen Master Shunryo Suzuki

First Ranamin adOL.inddMost beginning writers are anxious to shrug off the adjective, which they perceive as a pejorative. When I was beginning to write, I wanted nothing more than to be taken seriously. Now, I can pass as an expert fiction writer. I am a professor in English Department at the University of New Mexico where I teach creative writing to undergraduates and graduate students. I also serve as the founding director of the Taos Summer Writers’ Conference, an annual week-long event that is currently in its seventeenth year.

Why, then, have I decided to shrug off the expert mantle and assume the role of beginner again. Why am I taking a writing class online? Here’s why:

In October of 2014, I finally published my fourth book—and second novel—a family story set in New Mexico called SOPHIE’S HOUSE OF CARDS. It’s a good novel. I’m proud of it, but the sad truth is that I spent the last thirteen years of my life completing it.  At that rate, I will complete only one or two more novels in my lifetime, and I won’t have much fun in the process.

My reasons for enrolling in “Write Where You Are: a Mindful Approach” might be different than yours.  But if you are wishing and hoping to write more in 2015 (more, say, than you wrote in 2014), if you’re striving to compose better, fresher prose, consider the following: Continue reading

Share Button

Book Country Member D.J. Pizzarello on Publishing COLLECTED STORIES: Angel of Mercy and Seven Others

Posted by January 13th, 2015

Book Country Member D.J. Pizzarello on Publishing COLLECTED STORIES: Angel of Mercy and Seven Others

Congratulations to Book Country member D.J. Pizzarello on publishing COLLECTED STORIES: Angel of Mercy and Seven Others! D.J. workshopped several short stories on Book Country and received outstanding feedback. We recently featured D.J. on the Member Spotlight. In this Q&A, D.J. shares what surprised him most about the publishing process and advice he would give to other writers considering the self-publishing route. You can purchase COLLECTED STORIES: Angel of Mercy and Seven Others on Book CountryAmazon, and other major online book retailers. 

***

Janet Umenta: After years of writing, what was the moment like when you decided you were ready to publish?

D.J. Pizzarello: I’d actually decided to publish some years before I finally took the plunge. I felt strongly that my stories should be told, that I had something to say others might find interesting, perhaps even thought-provoking. I’ve always loved language, loved trying to express myself in inventive ways. So I spent some years working on stories I’d already written, revising, and revising, and revising—and at times, creating new ones. At a point, fairly recently, I decided that my work was ready to be published. How did I feel at that point? Ready, eager, energized. Raring to go. Continue reading

Share Button