Want more writing wisdom from authors? Check out our Author Interviews.
Knowing your book’s category is essential to finding an audience. That’s why we created the Genre Map, a visual representation of all literary categories on Book Country. For every category, we carefully curated a selection of Landmark Books, titles that we think best exemplify the tropes and conventions of each genre. Revisiting the Genre Map recently made me think back on our process deciding which books to include as well as the writing lessons that each of them has to impart. Below, I’ve highlighted ten books that have not only improved my understanding of the craft of writing but that also happen to be some of my favorite!
Acacia by David Anthony Durham
Landmark Book for High/Epic Fantasy
This book has taught me that a great fantasy writer is an architect of worlds. With Acacia, you start with one idea of the dimensions of the trilogy’s universe, and every subsequent book makes shocking revelations about its actual scale and nature. David Anthony Durham executes this by building a solid foundation: he plants the seeds early on, so that once he lifts up the curtain, you realize there’s no other way the story could have gone.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Landmark Book for Psychological Thriller
Hawkins takes the “psychological” in psychological thriller to a new level with the unreliable narrator of Rachel, a woman whose life has been wrecked by depression and alcoholism. As a character, she’s both compelling yet utterly untrustworthy, making The Girl on the Train a masterwork of misdirection. If you’re looking for well-executed narration, look no further than Hawkins’s chiller.
We’re thrilled with how many intrepid Book Country members have signed up for the brand-new Book Country Buddy Program! Matching like-minded writers to help each other write their best books has been a lot of fun.
As this is an ongoing benefit to your Book Country membership, we want to make sure you know that you can still sign up to take part. We’re looking for writers in all genres, so that we can make sure and match everyone who’s signed up with someone who’ll be familiar with what one another is writing, and can give great feedback based on that specific knowledge.
Why join the Book Country Buddy Program?
This is a great opportunity for writers to:
- Get valuable, detailed feedback on multiple drafts of the same manuscript.
- Gain a like-minded writing partner and friend on Book Country.
- Commit to an ambitious yet attainable writing and revising plan.
You can read more about how the program works, how to sign up, and review a sample schedule here.
Don’t hesitate to write to us with any and all questions you may have about the Book Country Buddy Program. Simply email support@BookCountry.com, or post a question on this discussion thread.
Marshall’s debut novel, THE THORN OF DENTONHILL, was workshopped on Book Country and published by DAW Books last February.
Marshall has been wonderfully supportive on Book Country. He shared awesome tips about the world-building process on the Book Country blog.
Marshall will be answering questions about querying, writing, and the publishing process on July 8, 2015. This is a great opportunity to learn what it’s like being a published author!
Post your questions in the discussion thread: Q&A with Book Country Member Marshall Ryan Maresca, Author of A MURDER OF MAGES.
About Marshall Ryan Maresca
Connect with Marshall on Book Country and on Twitter. Visit him on the web at blog.mrmaresca.com. Marshall is represented by Mike Kabongo of the OnyxHawke Agency. THE THORN OF DENTONHILL is on sale now. A MURDER OF MAGES comes out July 7, 2015.
Eve 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
Congratulations to Book Country member G.D. Deckard on publishing his debut science fiction novel, THE PHOENIX DIARY, with Book Country! G.D. is an outstanding member of the Book Country community. He’s always involved in engaging and helpful conversations about the writing process and book marketing in the discussion boards. G.D. workshopped THE PHOENIX DIARY on Book Country, and we are so happy to see it finally hit the e-shelves. Below, G.D. shares what inspired him to write THE PHOENIX DIARY and how joining Book Country helped him in the publishing process. THE PHOENIX DIARY is available on Book Country and on all major online retailers. Connect with G.D. on Book Country.
Janet Umenta: What inspired you to write THE PHOENIX DIARY? How long did it take you to write the book?
G.D. Deckard: One day I realized that abandoned streets, houses, shopping malls, and schools meant a world without oil. The first working title of my manuscript was AMERICA WITHOUT OIL. But that story idea had already been used by other authors. So I took the opportunity in my book to blend a straight-forward adventure with answers to life’s oldest questions: Where did humans come from? What is death? Do we have a destiny? I made up the answers, of course, but that’s the great part about science fiction. The making up the answers part and the actual writing took me six years.
JU: THE PHOENIX DIARY is a hard science fiction novel. Who are the science fiction authors you looked up to growing up? Did you draw from any of their techniques?
GDD: The science fiction authors I looked up to growing up were Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, Bradbury, and Delany – the classics. I am fascinated by our sense of wonder rooted in reality, which led me to explore science fiction. While doing research for THE PHOENIX DIARY, I discovered that there are actual remnants of ancient nuclear reactors in West Africa that are nearly two billion years old. I was stunned and asked myself, how did they get there? Continue reading
48 HOURS TILL PUBLICATION
With forty-eight hours to go before I published my third romance novel, SOMETIMES MOMENTS, I found myself considerably overwhelmed. To the point where I wanted to throw up. Not like a little. Like I got wasted just before 10PM on New Year’s Eve and ended up in a disgusting and highly unlady-like puking fest.
You’ll never know.
When it comes to publishing, time has been both my friend and my enemy:
Friend: I am excited that all the work I put into writing and editing SOMETIMES MOMENTS would finally result in a book.
Enemy: I still have a million things to do, but not enough time before the release to do them.
WHAT I STILL HAD TO DO:
Create promotional pictures and keep a careful eye on my pre-order sales.
I also had to tell my brain to stop overthinking “No one will like it!” thoughts and replay some “Someone will love SOMETIMES MOMENTS!” ones in my mind before I fell asleep. Continue reading
We are SO excited to have Book Country member Alex Rosa and author Cora Carmack on the Book Country blog! Cora is the New York Times and USA best-selling author of the LOSING IT, RUSK UNIVERSITY, and MUSE series. Alex Rosa released her debut New Adult novel, TRYST, in March, and Cora wrote a wonderful blurb to promote the book:
“Brother’s hot best friend? A steamy friends with benefits arrangement? What more could you want? Tryst is a fun, tantalizing read!”
Below, Alex and Cora discuss Cora’s new RUSK UNIVERSITY series, book boyfriends, writing, and cats.
Alex Rosa: Antonella DeLuca (a.k.a Nell) is the third girl you’ve introduced as a main character in the RUSK UNIVERSITY Series. All of your leading ladies have had incredible, strong-willed personalities. Dallas in ALL LINED UP has the will to find herself and get out of her father’s shadow, and Dylan in ALL BROKE DOWN is a passionate activist who tries her best to do what she believes is right and fair. Now we have Nell in ALL BROKE DOWN. What does she bring to the table for this series? What makes her a standout? Is there anything that makes Nell a personal favorite for you?
Cora Carmack: Nell is one of my favorite heroines I’ve written to date. She’s incredibly smart and more than just a little anti-social. Her focus is on her education and accomplishing her goals as quickly as possible. And now she’s about to graduate from college early without ever having what’s considered a “normal” college experience. I love Nell because she just says what she’s thinking, and it’s often quirky and out there and awkwardly honest. I think a lot of book nerds will be able to see themselves in her.
AR: Mateo Torres in ALL PLAYED OUT seems like quite a character (and a hot one). I’m eager to find out what demons this possibly perverted (in a good way) hunk have. What’s your favorite thing about Torres, and what do you think makes him book boyfriend material?
CC: I love that Mateo feels like a real guy that I could know. Yes, he’s sexy and sweet, but there’s something so down to earth and genuine about him. He’s the class clown, the shameless flirt, the funny guy who’s always the center of a party. I think we’ve all known guys like him. But by getting into his head, we get to see the fears and insecurities that fuel his outlandish personality. And it just makes him incredibly human.
AR: As a writer, you’ve created these great leading men in your books. But who is your ultimate book boyfriend as a reader? The one who made you swoon first.
CC: The one who made me swoon first? The first time I remember being truly obsessed with a book boyfriend was with Jace from MORTAL INSTRUMENTS. He was so snarky and funny with a bad boy edge. Sexy + funny will always hook me. Continue reading
A new set of Top Rated books is featured on the Read and Review page. We are excited to share with you the books that garnered great positive feedback!
- THE KITTEN AND THE CLOUD by Meg Ripley
- LEAF by Serena Sanchez
- LESSONS OF OUR FATHERS by Ivella Jacobs
- AS A CROW FLIES by Rob Emery
- NEW WORLD UNDERGROUND by Josh Vitalie
- RIDER OF THE SUN HORSE by RJ Blain
- DARKNESS BRUTAL by Rachel A. Marks
- THE NOTHINGNESS by Keith Rieger
- ONE GREEN BOTTLE by Curtis Bausse
- DELWYN OF THE REALMS by Kelly Proudfoot