Category Archives: Writing Organizations

News and information about Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, and other writing organizations.

Why NaNoWriMo?

Posted by November 4th, 2015

nano 2015 1Please welcome Kim Bridges, a writer who works with our friends at Girl Friday Productions in Seattle, to the blog this morning. Kim, like myself and others on Book Country, will be participating in NaNoWriMo. To celebrate, Girl Friday Productions is offering a really exciting giveaway: a grand prize of a free edit of your manuscript! Five additional prizewinners will receive a swag pack from Girl Friday Productions. Go here to learn more about the giveaway.

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With the changing of the seasons comes one of my favorite times of the year: National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. NaNoWriMo takes place in November, and the goal is to write 50,000 words by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. In addition to the word count, the ultimate goal of NaNo is to complete a draft. Parts of the draft will be bad (there’s no way to avoid it when you’re writing so much so quickly), however, you may surprise yourself with how much of it is good. But it doesn’t matter how much of it is good: what matters is that when you finish, you will have a completed draft of a novel.

I have participated in NaNo twice, and I took very different approaches both times. The first time, I used a plotline from a short story that I’d written. Having a solid outline helped me write a stronger draft, but I was unaccustomed to spending so much time writing every day; I fell behind on the word count and had to write 15,000 words over the final two days.

When I NaNo’d the following year, I didn’t really have any notes about the novel I was going to write; I had only a vague notion of characters and plot. I still fell behind on the word count, but instead of having to write 15,000 words in the last forty-eight hours, I only had to come up with 10,000. Part of the difference the second time around was that I didn’t care as much about what I was writing. My expectations were very, very low. Continue reading

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Takeaways from “Building a Writing Community Online + Off” Panel

Posted by November 3rd, 2015

Last week’s “Building a Writing Community Online + Off” panel event at BookCourt was a remarkable chance to hear six brand reps (Pinterest, Kickstarter, Tumblr, the Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop, BookCourt, and, of course, Book Country) chat about how each of their organization or platform can be an extremely useful tool for building up a writer’s network. Julia Fierro of SSWW and Maris Kreizman of Kickstarter were also able to speak to their own experience building a writing community as traditionally published authors (respectively of CUTTING TEETH, a Landmark Women’s Fiction Title on Book Country and SLAUGHTERHOUSE 90210, which we featured on the blog last week). As one panel-goer said on Twitter after the event, all these perspectives made for “Delicious brain food!”

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/finding-and-building-your-community-of-readers-tickets-18467224967

From left: Lucy Silag, Danielle Rayman, Julia Fierro, Maris Kreizman, Rachel Fershleiser, and Andrew Unger. Image courtesy of Rich Kelly via Twitter. Learn more about Rich by clicking through the picture.

We want to extend an enormous thank you to everyone who came out in the pouring rain to join in the conversation! For those of you who couldn’t make it or aren’t local, here are some takeaways from the event: Continue reading

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TONIGHT at BookCourt: “Building a Writing Community Online + Off”

Posted by October 28th, 2015

BC-WritingCommunity-600x185 w rsvp w tumblr

TONIGHT
Wednesday, October 28th
7pm
BookCourt
163 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY

The most daunting task for aspiring and emerging writers can be building and growing their writing community online and off. Danielle Rayman of Pinterest and Lucy Silag of Book Country will share how social media and online writing communities can be tools for getting your work into the hands of agents, publishers, and readers. Julia Fierro, founder and director of the Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop; Maris Kreizman, of Kickstarter and SLAUGHTERHOUSE 90210 (the Tumblr and new book); and Andrew Unger of BookCourt provide insight into how being a part of a local “writers” scene has real value when it comes to taking your writing to the next level.

This NYC writers event is free and open to the public.

RSVP to the event on Facebook. Continue reading

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Andrew Unger: Q&A with BookCourt’s Events Manager

Posted by October 26th, 2015

Andrew UngerToday we welcome Andrew Unger to the Book Country blog. Andrew is the Events Manager at BookCourt, the celebrated Brooklyn bookstore famous for its well-stocked events program featuring New York’s most distinguished authors as well as brand new talent. Andrew will be on the “Building a Writing Community Online + Off” panel co-hosted by Book Country on Wednesday night, October 28th, 2015, at 7pm at BookCourt.

Lucy Silag: Tell us about BookCourt and how it fits into the Brooklyn community of writers.

Andrew Unger: “BookCourt is a monument, a university, and a party in slow motion. It doesn’t have to take over the world because it is the world.” — Jonathan Lethem

It’s no surprise that Jonathan Lethem said it best. The store was opened by Henry Zook and Mary Gannett in 1981. It was one room, a former barber shop, with a modest selection of fiction, non-fiction, and children’s titles. They bought the building in 1983. In 1996 Albert, who owned the flower shop next door, wanted to move to Florida and so sold his building to Mary and Henry in 1996. In 2008, they removed the greenhouse behind the old flower shop and added what is perhaps the store’s most defining characteristic, a giant, book-lined reading space. Hoisted above the ceiling, at the apse of the room, is a beautiful skylight. Today the store boasts one of the largest inventories in Brooklyn.

With the addition of the “Greenhouse,” the events series at BookCourt hit a high gear. In the seven years since it was built, the store has grown to accommodate the flush of writers and the wave of gentrification overtaking the neighborhood. In a given week, BookCourt might host ten different authors, four writing workshops, a book club, and a number or stock signings. It is a haven for readers, it’s an intellectual playground to a whole generation of neighborhood children, and it’s a university to writers from across the city.

BookCourt interior

Interior at BookCourt, courtesy of Google Maps.

LS: Why should writers hang out at Bookcourt?

AU: BookCourt is like a living, breathing MFA program. We’ve hosted Junot Diaz, Richard Ford, Don DeLillo, David Sedaris, Lou Reed, Elvis Costello, and I could keep going. It’s such a stupidly impressive list of authors. Those events give you goosebumps. Junot Diaz talked for over an hour about his process, his growth as a writer and listened and responded to almost every single attendee, a room of over 300 people. This is an amazing opportunity. But this isn’t entirely the reason writers congregate at BookCourt. Continue reading

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NYC Writers Event: Building a Writing Community Online and Off

Posted by October 6th, 2015

https://www.facebook.com/events/1622362738032076/

Join us in Brooklyn on October 28th, 2015, at 7pm for a panel discussion at BookCourt, hosted by Book Country, Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop, and Pinterest, and featuring special guest author Maris Kreizman!

Building a Writing Community Online and Off
October 28, 2015 @ 7pm
BookCourt
163 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY

The most daunting task for aspiring and emerging writers can be building and growing their writing community online and off. Danielle Rayman of Pinterest and Lucy Silag of Book Country will share how social media and online writing communities can be tools for getting your work into the hands of agents, publishers, and readers. Julia Fierro, founder and director of the Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop; Maris Kreizman, of Kickstarter and SLAUGHTERHOUSE 90210 (the Tumblr and new book); and Andrew Unger of Bookcourt provide insight into how being a part of a local “writers” scene has real value when it comes to taking your writing to the next level.

This NYC writers event is free and open to the public.

RSVP to the event on Facebook.

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Takeaways from Moonlight & Magnolias 2015

Posted by October 5th, 2015

mm 2015It was great to be a part of Moonlight & Magnolias 2015. This was the annual conference of the Georgia Romance Writers (a regional chapter of the Romance Writers of America). Longtime Book Country member Noelle Pierce was conference chair, and she did a truly fabulous job for a seamless, fun, productive gathering of 200+ high-spirited romance writers. (In fact, Noelle was a winner of the Maggie Service Award for her contributions to the chapter this year. Go, Noelle!)

Here are four key takeaways from Moonlight & Magnolias 2015:

Romance writers have a strong support system. More than any other genre group of writers I’ve worked with so far, romance writers band together to lift up their own. First off, they read–and buy–a ton of books in their own genre. They also follow one another on social media, review each other’s books online, and cheer on both new writers and long-held favorite authors. Georgia Romance Writers have taken it one step further in real life.  For the last 33 years, they’ve maintained a robust schedule of meetings and events, an incredible mentoring program, and the prestigious Maggie Awards to honor standout books in the genre. Romance writers should absolutely be taking advantage of these resources, whether on the national level, or by seeking out their local chapter. Not a romance writer? Follow the example of romance writers by finding similar ways to support and celebrate your own genre writing community. Continue reading

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Book Country at Moonlight & Magnolias 2015

Posted by September 30th, 2015

I couldn’t be more excited to head down to Atlanta this weekend for the Georgia Romance Writers regional conference, Moonlight & Magnolias 2015!

Official MandM logo general

I’ll be the featured industry speaker on Saturday afternoon. Here are the details:

Saturday, October 3
2-3:50pm
Atlanta Marriott Northwest at Galleria

Treat Your Book Like a Start-Up

Join us to learn about Book Country, Penguin Random House’s writing and publishing community, and how the site has helped writers to write their best books, connect with audiences, and publish with the support of a community. This session is designed to help Georgia Romance Writers figure out the next step toward reaching their writing and publishing goals. Each participant will leave with a customized, immediate, and actionable plan for their book or work-in-progress based on where they are in the writing process. Continue reading

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4 Reasons to Go to a Writers Conference

Posted by September 29th, 2015

We’ll be meeting up with longtime Book Country member and romance writer Noelle Pierce this weekend at Moonlight and Magnolias 2015, the annual conference of the Georgia Romance Writers in Atlanta. Below Noelle (who’s been involved in the Moonlight and Magnolias Conference for many years) offers 4 reasons to go to a writers conference.

  1. To network with other writers at various stages in their careers. A conference is one of the best places to meet a critique partner or writing mentor. It’s also a place to be with like-minded individuals. I cherish those few days a year where I can walk up to virtually anyone and have something in common with him/her.
  2. To pitch to editors and/or agents. Some of us have a hard time translating our enthusiasm for a project into the written word. Sometimes talking about our stories leads to an infectious excitement that makes others want to hear more. If you’re one of the latter, then a conference is the perfect place to get your story to an industry professional. This doesn’t have to be at a formal pitch session, but at a luncheon or at the bar. NEVER, under ANY circumstances, follow an editor or agent into a restroom to pitch. It won’t end well. In that same vein, I’ve met editors and agents when I didn’t have a book to pitch, and we ended up talking about the stories anyway. They often suggest I query them when the story’s ready, which means I have something specific to put on the query letter in that “why I chose to send this to you” section.
  3. To hone your craft, get inspired, or learn something new about the changes in our industry. Workshops are part of conferences. You can take sessions with bestselling authors, eager to teach you what they know. Learn about different topics, such as branding yourself, audiobooks, or even how a seasoned pantser can learn to embrace the joys of plotting (I’m a plotser, myself, so I see the good in both). Characterization, dialogue, setting up Goal-Motivation-Conflict in scenes, how to format your book for self-publishing, how to find time to write, what to look for in a book cover…these are all areas I’ve had the pleasure of learning at various conferences. If there’s an area you need to improve, workshops are the place to do it.
  4. To meet readers. There is usually a book signing that takes place at the conferences I’ve attended, and those are usually open to the public. Some conferences rely heavily on authors attending (e.g., Romance Writers of America’s Annual Conference), but many are also open for readers and fans to attend (e.g., The Romantic Times Convention). Some, like Authors After Dark, are more geared toward the readers/fans, with only a relative handful of writers attending as “authors.”

Continue reading

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Janice Peacock: The Serendipitous Path to a Publisher

Posted by September 14th, 2015

HIGH STRUNGIt’s fabulous to have Book Country member Janice Peacock back on the blog this morning to celebrate the rerelease of her debut cozy mystery HIGH STRUNG, originally workshopped here on Book Country. Read on for the story of how Janice found her publisher, Booktrope.

A new edition of my novel, HIGH STRUNG: A Glass Bead Mystery, was released today. I had self-published my cozy mystery last year, but this time around it has been published by Booktrope—a real publisher—not just me winging it in the wee hours. And while this is exciting news, at least for me, the story behind how I ended up with a publisher is the stuff that good tales are made of: fear, dumb luck, bravery, and ultimately a happy ending.

In January I sat in a cafe drinking coffee with my friend Kim. The San Francisco Writers Conference was coming up in a month and I told Kim I was thinking about going, but that I was nervous about it. I was worried that I wasn’t a real writer, even though I had self-published a book the previous year. I hadn’t been writing for long and was worried that someone would expose me as an impostor or that I’d embarrass myself by being such a newbie.

Kim told me to go and just “breathe the air” at the conference. She encouraged me by saying that I didn’t need to do anything but be there and absorb what information I could.  The next day I sat at my computer, shut my eyes, and I clicked the Submit button on the registration form for the conference. I was going. And I was going to be brave.

A month later I stood outside the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco. I had arrived ridiculously early, so I sat in the lobby chatting with a couple from out of town, giving them sightseeing advice. When it was time for the first session, I filed into a large conference room with the rest of the attendees. The first thing the moderator did was ask each audience member who had brought a book that they’d written to hold it above his or her head. I held up my empty hand and told the moderator that I had sold the book I had brought to the tourists in the lobby, and received a small cheer.  Maybe the weekend was going to be okay after all.

Janice Peacock at SFWC

Janice Peacock at the San Francisco Writers Conference 2015, holding a copy of the self-published version of HIGH STRUNG.

I hadn’t signed up to do the Pitch-a-Thon, that was over-the-top intimidating to me. For the uninitiated, a pitch-a-thon is like speed-dating with agents and publishers, instead of potential mates. Authors move from table to table pitching their story in three minute sessions with the hope that an agent or publisher will be interested in seeing a full manuscript. The prospect of pitching my book scared me to death. Instead, I went and sat on a bench in the park across from the hotel, soaking in the sun during the pitching session. I had breathed enough conference air for the day.

 In the final hours of the conference, I sat at a round table in a ballroom with some of the other attendees. I’d learned a lot during the conference and I’d met authors like me who had a love of words, books, and stories. There was a raffle and I won a prize—a free pass to go to a Pitch-o-Rama hosted by the Women’s National Book Association in San Francisco. Of all the prizes, this was the one that I didn’t want. I was going to have to pitch my book to publishers and agents, the thing I’d so actively tried to avoid during this conference.

A few weeks later I was standing outside the Women’s Building at the Pitch-o-Rama, armed with my manuscript, business cards, and a look of grim determination. Okay, maybe not that grim, but determined, nonetheless. I’d done my research; I knew which agents and publishers I wanted to pitch my book to.  This event would be good practice. I could learn to talk about my book in a clear, concise, and exciting way. I didn’t need to find a publisher that day, I could continue to self-publish. But still, did I want a real publisher? Yes, I did. Continue reading

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Member Spotlight: Erotica Author Olivia Glass

Posted by September 9th, 2015

oliviaglass.comHow would I describe Book Country member Olivia Glass to someone who doesn’t have the pleasure of knowing her yet? First, I’d say that Olivia is one of the most community-oriented writers I’ve ever come across: very active in the communities around the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (where she got her MFA), the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, adjunct faculty organizations, Philadelphia-based writers, and erotica writing. Second, I’d say that she’s an intrepid explorer of the rapidly changing publishing landscape: eager to try new ways to reach readers and enthusiastic about connecting with them online.

Today we are celebrating the release of her novella FIVE STAGES OF GRIEF, which she published right here on Book Country. Check out the heap of praise Olivia has gotten for her erotica:

“Angsty and hotter than hell . . .” Iris Blaire, author of Exposure

“Yes, this is a good story, but it’s a hot story. Glass is an author who knows how to write a blush-inducing sex scene . . . You’ll absolutely want to read this well-crafted, deliciously written lesbian love story again.” Erika Almond

“Glass takes readers on an emotional journey as three women learn to live and love again after heartbreak . . .” Elizabeth Franklin, Portland Book Review

“Olivia Glass spins a mesmerizing story of lust, love, betrayal and so much more… hot erotica wrapped up inside a strong, compelling story.” Jon Pressick

FIVE STAGES OF GRIEF lo res

Lucy Silag: Tell us about writing your erotic novella FIVE STAGES OF GRIEF, and how it was originally published. Continue reading

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