Category Archives: NaNoWriMo

How to Use the Snowflake Method to Prepare for NaNoWriMo

Posted by October 1st, 2014

DJ Lutz

NaNoWriMo is only one month away! October is the perfect time to start outlining your novel before the mad rush of writing begins in November. Book Country member D.J. Lutz shares how using the Snowflake Method can help you make NaNoWriMo a success!

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Hi, my name is DJ, and I am a recovering pants’er.

What do I mean by pants’er? Well, in late October, 2008 I discovered NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and decided I could scribble out a 50,000 word first draft by the end of November. No prep, no editing, just flat out stream of consciousness clacking on the keyboard. Fueled by venti Americanos with extra shots of espresso, I would go on to write my first ever novel PECOS BILL AND THE CURSED GOLD by the seat of my pants.

I finished well over the requisite 50k word count. Of course, the novel had no discernable structure other than “ramble,” which I don’t think counts. It was, however, fun to write and the experience taught me about the time management and discipline professional writers need to be successful. But as a coherent novel it lacked. Everything. It was time to research the craft of writing. Continue reading

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How to Be Featured on Book Country

Posted by March 19th, 2014

Writers join the Book Country writing and publishing community because it’s a place where they can grow their audience of readers as well as get writing feedback. One of the ways we help writers connect with one another is by featuring books in different places on our site, highlighting books for members who are browsing for titles to read, review, and buy.

There are several ways to get your writing featured on Book Country.

If you have a book that is up for workshop in the community on Book Country, it can be featured on the Books page on Book Country in one of four carousels. We know that lots of members use the Books page to find new manuscripts to read and review.

Books page on Book Country

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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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Member Spotlight: Meet Writer Larry Winfield

Posted by January 6th, 2014

Larry Winfield author photoIt’s such a pleasure to have member Larry Winfield as our first Member Spotlight of 2014. A longtime Book Country member, Larry recently published his novel BANJO STRINGS on Book Country. He stopped by to talk to us about his writing and his wide range of other creative endeavors.

LS: Tell us about your path as a writer: how did you get started, and what’s brought you to where you are now?

LW: Uh, it’s a very twisted path. I wrote a few poems in high school that got published in the campus literary magazine, and in senior year (1974) I was an Associate Editor. And then I didn’t write another thing for 8 years. I moved to Chicago, got into theater, tried to start a band, worked as an illustrator, then in the early 80’s I let the acting, the band and the artwork go and started keeping a journal, and by ’88 I had a small chapbook of poems in a few stores in Hyde Park, Chicago.

In 1990 I discovered the Chicago poetry scene and spent a dozen years as a venue host and sometimes a featured reader, listening to great poets and writing almost every day. In 2002 I moved to the west coast, in part because of 9/11 (a long story), and tried to get into the Los Angeles poetry scene, but it was just too scattered. I hung out in the Santa Monica/Venice scene for a while, but it wasn’t happening with me living downtown. Anyway, by 2005 I’d discovered podcasting and created Sundown Lounge an updated version of my pirate radio show The Rent Party (part of that long story). Around the same time I was thinking of a couple story ideas, and Scott Sigler had recently broken huge with his first podcast novel. So I started putting up audio chapters at Mevio as I went, my own performance piece of a live novel, even though it was a few months between episodes in the middle. By the end, though, I had over 60,000 individual hits and some chapters in the hundreds of downloads. Nice. I ended up revising the novel into a “2013 edition” that I’m working to release as a podiobook, eBook and a printed (or POD) paperback.

LS: Along that route you found Book Country. How did that happen?

While writing and recording the first podcast version, I looked for writers groups to submit chapters and some of my poems to for feedback and review. I stuck with Author Nation and Authonomy mostly, then the Nation went down last year, and I found you guys on a Google search. The first manuscript was done by then so I uploaded the eBook to the Horror section, and it made the spotlight list, so thank you for that.

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Beyond NaNoWriMo: Afterglow or Aftershock?

Posted by December 10th, 2013

You’ve crossed the coveted NaNoWriMo finish line and celebrated it accordingly. But after a month of superhuman efforts to reach the desired word count, you might be feeling creatively depleted. Perhaps you’re so exhausted that completing your NaNoWriMo novel seems like an impossible chore. Or you’re finished, but are cringing at the thought of the revision process ahead.

We invited creativity coach and AROUND THE WRITER’S BLOCK: USING BRAIN SCIENCE TO SOLVE WRITER’S RESISTANCE author Rosanne Bane to get some tips on how to get out of the post-NaNoWriMo rut.

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around the writers blockCongratulations! You completed a major writing project! Perhaps you completed NaNoWriMo – either with 50,000 words or with the knowledge that you showed up and put in a gallant effort toward your 50,000 words.

Maybe you completed a book proposal, a chapbook, your 500th blog post or your MFA. Maybe your editor approved the final draft of your book or you’re finally holding your just published baby.

The forms of writing accomplishment vary, but the exhilaration is the same. Relish how good completion feels. Take pride in your effort and the results. Exercise your bragging rights.

Because this afterglow will fade, and if you’re not prepared for what comes next, the aftershock can knock you off your feet.

After the Glow

To achieve a significant writing goal, you must exert a great deal of creative energy. Sometimes you complete a project and still have enough energy to circle back to the first stage in the creative process to start a new project. But creativity is not an unending assembly line, nor is it supposed to be.

Sometimes completing a project depletes your creative energy. You simply cannot start something new. Your mind is blank. Your creative juices have run dry. It seems like you’re trudging through a creative desert without a juicy idea in sight.

You’ve moved into the Hibernation stage. And if you don’t know what Hibernation is, it’s frighteningly easy to start to wonder what’s wrong with you and if you’ll ever write again.

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Member Spotlight: Meet NaNoWriMo Writer Caitlin Garzi

Posted by December 9th, 2013

Caitlin GarziPlease welcome writer Caitlin Garzi to the Member Spotlight this morning! Caitlin is a new member to the site, and found out about our Book Country community via her involvement in NaNoWriMo. Her NaNoWriMo project-a WIP called CORIANNE CASTLE–is available to read and review on Book Country.

LS: You participated in NaNoWriMo this year. Tell us everything about your experience–your project, how it felt to “do the Nano,” and what you learned about yourself as a writer.

CG: Last year, one of my fellow Kansas State English graduates participated in NaNoWriMo and I had the opportunity to read the novel that resulted from her effort. She was so excited every day about writing and managed to complete a herculean 50,000 words in November. She inspired me to try out Nano and see what I could do.

I had a whole list of potential YA novel ideas and so I selected my favorite, a novel about Corianne Castle, a 16 year old worker at Waverly Theme Park in the dilapidated town of South Keyes, Florida. Cori was abandoned by her father and is being raised by a mother who suffers from a slight shopping problem– she’s purchased practically every Mary Sue collectable item, from the Mary Sue Limited Edition New Year’s Baby right down to the Mary Sue official Movie Popcorn maker. When Corianne gets sucked into the universe of the occult, she sets off on a mission to rescue her mother’s sanity and end non-magical human torture, even if it means tearing down the thin barrier that separates wizards from the rest of the world.

I was excited about this idea because it allowed me to explore the social implications of many of the “wizard” books out there– from the real life “authentic collector” items that have proliferated to the hypothetical treatment of non-magical peoples of magical worlds. I knew anything I wrote would be “issue driven” young adult, and this idea fit the bill.

The first twenty pages were so easy to write! I breezed through the theme park descriptions, altercations Cori has with customers, and issues she has serving food to her snobby and unlikable classmates. I never knew I could write so much so quickly! Once Cori was ready to enter the world of magic, though, I hit some snags and needed to do some brainstorming. I’m sad to say I only made it 30,000 words into the Nano challenge, but it was still so rewarding and exciting!

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Beyond NaNoWriMo: Literary Agent Sara Megibow on Top Publishing Trends

Posted by December 4th, 2013

NaNoWriMo has come to an end, and I’m sure many of you are itching to share your work: publish it or place it into the hand of a literary agent. Finishing a novel is incredibly exciting, but make sure it’s as ready as it can be, first, before sharing it with your readers! Do your research. Edit. Strategize. 

Today we have the third part of our interview with agent Sara Megibow–a special treat for those of you who are gearing up to query agents in the next months. Be sure to check out the first part of our interview, in which she shared specific query advice and the second part, where she talked about what’s behind a good author-agent relationship

Here, we discuss publishing trends, erotic romance, and sci/fi submissions. ~NG

NG: As an agent, you have a birds-eye view of the publishing industry. Are there any trends you see growing or contracting in terms of genre or writing style?

SM: That’s a great question and thanks again for having me here at Book Country! I’ve followed the Book Country website and Twitter feed for a long time now. Thanks for all the hard work your team does to support authors!

Now, on to trends—you asked about genre and writing style. Let’s tackle genre first. I’ve worked in publishing for 8 years and have been a literary agent for 4 years and can honestly say (from an agent’s perspective) brilliant writing has been the “hot” thing all along. It’s easy to point to certain genres that have gone “boom” and been hot over the years—vampire romance, young adult dystopian, erotic romance, etc. but when I’m reading submissions for potential representation I put these biases aside and read solely for quality of writing. I want a book that grabs my attention and draws me in so much that when the cat meows, the kid screams and the doorbell rings, I miss it all because I’m so engrossed in the characters and their lives.

9780778313533_smp.inddAs an agent, I represent debut authors in science fiction, fantasy, romance, erotica, new adult, young adult and middle grade fiction. I do want submissions that match a certain formula based on genre (word count, happy-ever-after ending, etc), but I don’t reject submissions because of the genre itself. I’ve seen a lot of submissions recently set in the dream world or in Heaven or Hell and I’ve also seen a lot of submissions in which the hero or heroine is recovering from a coma or from amnesia. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t represent a book with these elements—it just means a book with these elements will have to display superior mastery of craft in order to stand out among the competition.

Here’s another example—I’ve heard whispered around the internets that historical romance is on a downswing. Well, I disagree. I agree that contemporary romance is trending up right now, but not at the expense of historical as people might say. I represent debut author Ashlyn Macnamara who has two Regency historicals out this year and they are selling like hotcakes. So, genre being what it is—we have to take these trends with a grain of salt.

Now, let’s talk about writing style for a moment. In terms of trends, writing style has a much more concrete answer than genre. For example, here are some quantifiable success stories from the past two years:

The eBook tie-in novella. Think about SUBMIT TO DESIRE by Tiffany Reisz—a novella-length story set in her ORIGINAL SINNERS world but sold at a lower price and as an ebook only. SUBMIT TO DESIRE sells well and readers seem to love the occasional quickie read, especially when they get to see some of their favorite heroes and heroines again. Also, the lower price point works well in convincing new readers to try an author she/he might not have read before. We recently inked an ebook novella tie-in deal for Michael Underwood’s GEEKOMANCY series too. The novella will be called ATTACK THE GEEK, will feature Ree Reyes in a new adventure and will be available as an ebook in early 2014. Will this trend continue? Yes, I think it will.

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NaNoWriMo Finish Line

Posted by November 30th, 2013

Congratulations to everyone who participated in NaNoWriMo 2013! We’re so proud of each of you! Whether you finished all 50,000 words or only got a couple of chapters down, we’re happy that you made time for writing this month.

Congratulations to NaNoWriMo 2013 participants and finishers.

Congratulations to NaNoWriMo 2013 participants and finishers.

Book Country sponsored NaNoWriMo because our missions align — we both work to support writers. If you’ve joined us recently, welcome to Book Country! We’re looking forward to reading your manuscript and helping you on your journey as a writer. Check out our tips on how to use Book Country.

As you start to revise and publish your NaNoWriMo novels in the upcoming months, please tell us! We want to showcase NaNoWrimo books and feature them on Book Country. Email us once you’ve uploaded it and tell us the title.

As most of you know, our very own Community & Engagement Manager, Lucy Silag, participated in NaNoWriMo. She’s been writing about her experience on the Penguin USA blog. I’ve really loved hearing about how she balanced a full day job with huge writing goals.

I also found the conversations on the discussion boards inspiring, especially the daily check-ins. Stay tuned! We’re creating an “I Wrote A Novel, Now What?” forum to keep the conversation going, as well as lots of tips from publishing experts on what to do as your manuscript takes shape from a very fast first draft to a polished novel ready for publication.

As you think about publication, I encourage you to consider Book Country if you’re self-publishing. In addition to the support of this community, we also have some special offers just for NaNoWriMo participants.

To celebrate 30 days of hard work, take 30% off Book Country’s Landmark publishing package through December 31, 2013 with code NANO. We’ll also feature all novels in the bookstore.

And here’s one for the winners only:

To celebrate your achievement, we want to help spread the word on your book. BookStubs are like gift cards for your eBook – give them out to reviewers, bloggers, and fans to get your eBook into the physical world. Order BookStubs a la carte or through Book Country publishing packages and we’ll double your order through December 31, 2013.  (And, yes, of course you can redeem this offer alongside your 30% discount on the Landmark package for being a NaNoWriMo participant. Great job!)

If you’ve met a writer who just finished NaNoWriMo and who isn’t a Book Country member yet, invite them to join us. We’d love to share our writing and publishing community with them. And give them a hug. Or a drink. Or both. They deserve it. Congratulations to all of the Wrimos! The whole Book Country team is really proud of you.

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Editing During NaNoWriMo: A Writer’s Perspective

Posted by November 6th, 2013

editing_while_writingThis is a guest post by Book Country fantasy writer and NaNoWriMo Montreal regional coordinator RJ Blain. RJ has been around the block when it comes to marathon writing, so we invited her to get her perspective on the how to stay on top of one’s writing goals in November.

In this piece she covers a NaNoWriMo classic: “Should I be editing during NaNoWriMo?” ~NG

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One of the most common pieces of advice during NaNoWriMo is to never edit while drafting. Don’t look back, always walk forward. Don’t do this, don’t do that.

Well, screw that nonsense. There, I said it. Sometimes, editing is a valuable part of the drafting process. But if you’re the type of writer who needs to edit as you draft, you have a lot of work ahead of you.

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Book Country Sponsors NaNoWriMo

Posted by November 1st, 2013

Welcome, Wrimos!I’m so excited that November is finally here! Happy National Novel Writing Month, everyone!

Book Country is proud to be one of the sponsors for NaNoWriMo this year. We decided to support NaNoWriMo because we believe in their mission. It’s critical to find a group of like-minded writers. NaNoWriMo writers (aka Wrimos) have made a promise to themselves and to each other that, this month, writing is what matters.

I was deeply moved this summer by The Summer Writer’s Club. I was so inspired by everyone who took the challenge to write. And I was humbled by the enthusiasm at the end— not just from the people who hit their 50,000 word goal (amazing!) — but from how much you supported each other and were ready for more.

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