Category Archives: Writing Challenges

Every author has a hard time with something -specific scenes or characters, writer’s block, etc. See what others suggest to overcome writing challenges.

Sign Up for the Book Country Buddy Program

Posted by June 10th, 2015

We are very excited to introduce the Book Country Buddy Program! The Book Country Buddy Program is a new FREE perk for our members! We designed this program based on member feedback, and we can’t wait to see how our members will use it to write better books than they ever thought possible.BC_Buddy-Program_600x400

What is the Book Country Buddy Program?

Using the information you provide on this form, Book Country staff will match you with a fellow writer in your genre. You and your buddy will commit to an intensive 12-week manuscript reviewing and revising process, all via BookCountry.com.

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.

Continue reading

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Ask a Literary Agent: Carly Watters Answers Your Questions!

Posted by May 6th, 2015

Ask a Literary Agent: Carly Watters Answers Your Questions!We are so happy to have Carly Watters on the Book Country blog! Carly is a VP and senior literary agent with the P.S. Literary Agency. Her bestselling and debut authors include Rebecca Phillips, Danny Appleby, and Book Country member Andrea Dunlop. Carly frequently shares informative insights about the publishing industry on her blog and on Twitter. Below, Carly offers advice on how to get your name and book out there, what to do if you’ve already self-published a book and are seeking representation, and the state of erotica in today’s market.

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Do you participate in social media pitch campaigns like #PitMad on Twitter? If so, what can you share from your experience for those of us who might be thinking about participating in the future? – Kelley

I used to do more than I do now. I love working with debuts, and I’m always open to queries. However, I had one experience that made me step back from #PitMad and other online contests. Here’s the example: I favorited a tweet of a pitch I liked, and the author and I started to chat. When I offered representation on the phone a week later, the author said they’ve been interested in another agent for awhile now and used my offer as leverage to let her top agent know. I’m all for savvy business-minded people, but that made me reevaluate why I would spend my time searching out authors–and taking many days out of my year with these contests–when I have so many amazing queries in my inbox.

Also, I’ve written a guide to Twitter pitching if you want more tips!  Continue reading

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“There is always a reason to not give up.” Interview with Aisha Saeed, Author of WRITTEN IN THE STARS

Posted by April 22nd, 2015

Interview with Aisha Saeed, Author of WRITTEN IN THE STARSAisha Saeed is the author of WRITTEN IN THE STARS, which is published by Nancy Paulsen Books. Aisha is also co-founder and Vice President of Strategy of We Need Diverse Books. In WRITTEN IN THE STARS, Naila, a smart Pakistani-American high school senior, is forced into an arranged marriage by her own parents. I was stunned by the trials Naila had to face. In our interview, Aisha shares what the hardest chapter was for her to write, the specific technique she used to query agents, and what has surprised her most since joining the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign. 

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Janet Umenta: Did you draw from any real-life conversations while writing WRITTEN IN THE STARS?

Aisha Saeed: I definitely drew from real-life experiences while writing WRITTEN IN THE STARS. Growing up, I had childhood friends who were coerced and pressured into marriages they would not have chosen for themselves. While my novel is entirely fictional, those stories always stayed with me and served as the inspiration for my novel. Continue reading

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The Importance of Diversity by Urban Fantasy Author Alis Franklin

Posted by April 21st, 2015

The Importance of Diversity by Urban Fantasy Author Alis Franklin

The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign started with a simple Twitter exchange between authors Ellen Oh and Malinda Lo about the lack of diversity in children’s literature on April 17, 2014. One year later, we’ve seen huge support on social media and in major book and author events, including BookCon and BEA. However, there is still more work to be done to make #WeNeedDiverseBooks a reality.

Alis Franklin is the author of LIESMITH, a queer urban fantasy novel published by Hydra. In LIESMITH, Sigmund Sussman, a shy young man working in low-level IT support in Australia, falls in love with Lain Laufeyjarson, a Norse god. Below, Alis addresses the problem of the underrepresentation of minority groups in literature and what needs to be done to improve diversity in publishing.

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One of the most fascinating things to realize about the (Western) publishing industry is that it’s been around, in some form or another, for something like 500 years. That is one old industry. It’s also an old industry that’s seen an enormous amount of disruption, to the point where it seems every year brings something new to shake things up.

If 2014 rattled anything on the manuscript-stacked table, it did it via talk of diversity, a.k.a. the way marginalized and other non-majority authors are treated and their stories told. This is particularly relevant as we enter April, which marks the one year anniversary of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign. Originally intended to spotlight the lack of diversity in children’s literature, over the past twelve months it has since grown beyond its original mission statement, spawning conversations in every corner of the industry.

And for good reason. There’s plenty to talk about when it comes to publishing’s relationship to diversity and, to set the scene, let’s begin by pointing out that…

1. Publishing is super, super homogeneous

No matter where you look–from fictional characters to their creators to their producers–the consensus is that the publishing industry is white and it is (with some exceptions) male and it is middle-class. “Write what you know,” says decades worth of well-meaning writing advice. Which, according to a quote attributed to US sci-fi author Joe Haldeman, is “why so many mediocre novels are about English professors contemplating adultery.”

Plenty has been written about this topic already, noting the homogeneity of characters appearing in genres as disparate as children’s lit and erotic romance. Employment wise, the publishing industry as a whole isn’t much better than the fiction it produces, with indications things are getting worse as publishers poach executive talent from the notoriously white and male tech sector. Meanwhile, white male authors are not just more likely to gain critical acclaim–particularly when they write in genres traditionally considered to be “for women“–but to get sympathetic pats on the head from prestigious media outlets when they do “lose out” on literary awards in favor of women or people of color. Continue reading

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#TwitterFiction Festival 2015: Submit Story Ideas!

Posted by March 10th, 2015

TFF logoAre you an old-fashioned storyteller with a newfangled Twitter habit? If so, you won’t want to miss this awesome new writing opportunity: #TwitterFiction Festival 2015!

A project of Penguin Random House, the Association of American Publishers, and Twitter, #TwitterFiction Festival will take place from May 11-15, 2015. The idea is that during this time, writers from all over the world will live-stream unique and original stories to the “Twitterverse.” An incredible lineup of 22 authors–from Margaret Atwood to Jackie Collins to Eric Jerome Dickey–have been tapped to tweet new writing during the festival. Writers like you are encouraged to join the fun and tweet your own stories, too, using the hashtag #TwitterFiction.

But that’s not all! The organizers of #TwitterFiction Festival are looking for a crop of talented emerging writers to submit original story ideas in advance of the festival. Select submissions will receive featured placement during the festival. This is a great way for writers to experiment with storytelling devices, widen their author platform, and connect with writers and readers from all over the world. The deadline for submitting ideas is March 30, 2015. Submit here! Continue reading

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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.

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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

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Write Start Author Series & Contest from Biographile and Paste Magazine

Posted by January 6th, 2015

Calling all Book Country writers! Are you ready to start a great story this year?

Biographile, a Penguin Random House blog dedicated to biography and memoir, is going to be a wealth of inspiration and advice for aspiring writers all through the month of January. Already an excellent place to brush up on the craft of writing (check out our post from last month with Biographile’s Joe Muscolino), they’re amping it up with the Write Start Author Series. More than forty published authors are going to share tips for getting started on a new project . . . just in time for a new year in your writing life.

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From Biographile:

At some point most writers will face this struggle, the furious and paralyzing reality of squeezing perfect ideas into imperfect words.

We at Biographile feel your pain, so we’ve spent the past few months asking forty-plus authors to share their hard-earned writing advice to remind you you’re not alone. For the month of January, in the spirit of new beginnings, Biographile will be spending each day celebrating the craft of writing by giving you all the basics to get started.

Additionally, the awesome folks at Paste Magazine are hosting the Write Start Contest, perfect for Book Country writers! Continue reading

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Member Spotlight: Meet Andreé Robinson-Neal

Posted by December 3rd, 2014

Member Spotlight: Meet  Andreé Robinson-NealWelcome Andreé Robinson-Neal to the Book Country Member Spotlight! Andreé is currently workshopping FROM REALITY’S EDGE, which was featured in the Waiting to Be Discovered section in October. She recently published AFTER with Christine F. Anderson Publishing & MediaConnect with Andreé on Book Country.

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Janet Umenta: NaNoWriMo 2014 ended last week. When you finished NaNoWriMo 2013, what did you do afterwards?

Andreé Robinson-Neal: When November 2013 ended, I celebrated making my word count. By November 27th, I had passed the 50k word count and was thrilled. And then I panicked. After all, I was ‘finished’ — now what? I had a mess of words on a page that had made me bleary-eyed for the past month. I set them down and concentrated on a few other things before getting back to the business of editing it.

JU: How does being an editor influence your writing process?

AR: I know that editing has helped me in more ways than I can describe. I see things that make me think, Wow! That was a great image — I felt that character’s experience! and then there are things that make me think, Wow! I hope I never do that! Editing certainly keeps me on my mental toes because I have to research things to make sure I am offering the best advice to a writer. I don’t just write things like, ‘Consider revising this sentence — it is unclear.’ I like to offer support by saying why something is unclear or indicating what I think the writer meant so he or she can take that information into consideration during the after-edit review. Continue reading

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Give the Gift of Writing Feedback Review Challenge

Posted by December 2nd, 2014

‘Tis the season for gifting! What better gift to give a writer than detailed, honest, and constructive feedback on their work-in-progress?

Give the Gift of Writing Feedback

 

That’s why we’re launching a new challenge this month: Give the Gift of Writing Feedback! Pledge to review four books on Book Country this month, and give your writing community the feedback they need to make their books better in the new year.

How does it work?

  1. Head over to this discussion thread and make your pledge!
  2. Throughout the month of December, review four Book Country books (one for each week of the month). Find books via other members who’ve taken the pledge, browse this month’s Featured Manuscripts, or explore the Book Country Genre Map to find books in the genres you love!
  3. Read and review at least three chapters of the work-in-progress.
  4. Remember, you can save your review for later. Just don’t forget to post it by New Year’s Eve, or you won’t have won the challenge! 🙂
  5. Support others who’ve taken the pledge–connect with them on Book Country and social media, comment on their review with thanks, comments, and questions, and return the gift of feedback by reviewing their book!
  6. Share the feedback you are giving or receiving on social media by using the hashtag #GiftofWritingFeedback. We’ll cheer you on!

Happy reviewing–and thank YOU for giving the gift of writing feedback to your community!

Questions? Email us at support@BookCountry.com.

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Gratitude for Writers by Allison Carmen

Posted by November 26th, 2014

THE GIFT OF MAYBE

We all have heard stories of authors getting dozens of rejection letters before their book was finally picked up. How can writers stay motivated in the face of so much uncertainty? Allison Carmen, author of THE GIFT OF MAYBE, which is published by Perigee, shares how embracing gratitude can help writers overcome fear and rejection. 

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My friend Stacey and I took a walk the other day to clear our heads after a morning of writing in solitude. Stacey had written a novel that she submitted to several publishers through her agent. So far all she had received back were rejections. Stacey confided that she felt terrible that people did not seem to be appreciating her work and said she was starting to lose hope about her writing career. Those of us who are writers know this feeling. We write something that for us is so moving for us and yet we can’t get an agent, a book deal or even a blog post in an online magazine. Continue reading

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