Category Archives: Insiders

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

Posted by October 28th, 2015

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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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An Interview with Book Maven Maris Kreizman

Posted by October 27th, 2015

Maris KreizmanIt’s so exciting to have Maris Kreizman visit the blog this morning! Maris is the author of the new book SLAUGHTERHOUSE 90210, a visual mashup of great literature and pop culture. Those of you who came to our “Uncoventional Paths to Publishing” panel at the Slice Literary Writers’ Conference 2015 will recognize Maris from our lineup of speakers: She’s a maven of books, publishing trends, and an incredibly active member of writing and reading communities online and off.

Lucy Silag: You began your career as an editor. What was your favorite part of working in publishing?

Maris Kreizman: I loved being an editor because it allowed me to guide a book in every stage of the process from its earliest drafts to its final incarnation. I loved being able to connect with writers and to be the biggest advocate for my authors, both in-house and otherwise.

LS: Now you are the publishing-outreach lead at Kickstarter. Tell us more about how you help writers in this role.

MK: There are so many different ways for writers to use Kickstarter. Writers are using Kickstarter to plan literary events and book tours, and funding book and magazine-related works from apps to zines. And I’m helping writers and publishers to set up great Kickstarter projects to help them make the most of the platform.

LS: Congratulations on the release of your book SLAUGHTERHOUSE 90210! Tell us about the genesis of this book.

Slaughterhouse 90210 coverMK: Thank you! I was bored at work, which is how many genesis stories about creative projects start, I think. It was 2009. My friend told me that I should start a Tumblr where I could post quotes from literature–I had a stockpile. And I thought, a blog featuring book quotes on their own sounds boring! But I was scrolling through my dashboard and saw a photo of Joan from Mad Men and thought, “Hmm, adding a photo from a TV show to the top of that quote would be way more interesting, and would make the post more about how the image and the text intersect and speak to each other.”

 

LS: Of all the social media platforms, why was Tumblr the right fit for SLAUGHTERHOUSE 90210?

MK: Tumblr is so easy to use! And more importantly, Tumblr is all about community. There’s a very strong group of people who love books on Tumblr, and I was able to find them and interact with them. The fact that Tumblr allows users to follow the blogs they love and also to reblog and add comments was integral to the success of Slaughterhouse 90210. I knew it was catching on when I saw that Tumblr users were having their own conversations about it. 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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A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A WRITER: Hester Young + Book Giveaway

Posted by October 21st, 2015

THE GATES OF EVANGELINE on PenguinRandomHouse.comRemember in August when Putnam editor Kerri Kolen stopped by the blog and told us about books she was excited to publish this fall? Then you’ll likely recognize the name Hester Young–she’s the author of the supernatural thriller THE GATES OF EVANGELINE. Kerri’s enthusiasm for Hester’s writing is catching, and once you check out Hester’s debut, you’ll see why Putnam eagerly snapped up Hester’s next two books as well.

Here at Book Country, we’re excited to be giving away 3 hardcover copies of THE GATES OF EVANGELINE. Just in time for Halloween, this is a spooky read Publishers Weekly called “haunting, heartbreaking, yet ultimately hopeful.” Enter to win your copy here.

Read on as we spend the day with Hester, going behind the scenes of her life as a celebrated debut writer promoting her first book and hard at work on her second. Continue reading

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A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A WRITER: Meg Mitchell Moore

Posted by October 7th, 2015

THE ADMISSIONS coverMeg Mitchell Moore‘s new book, THE ADMISSIONS, came out from Doubleday in August. Bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand said of THE ADMISSIONS, “This book was brilliant and enjoyable on every level. I LOVED IT! It’s my money-back guarantee of 2015.”

Today we’re following Meg through a typical day in her life as a writer in Newburyport, Massachusetts, where she lives with her family. On deck is writing time, of course (check out the gorgeous writing space she rents downtown), and a book club event at the Reading Public Library, proof that getting involved in your community is a win for both writers and readers.

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6:00 am

mmm1 600My day begins as exotically as all my weekdays begin: lunchboxes! Hooray. Also, cappuccino (not pictured). I’m a Nespresso fan. Did I say fan? I meant addict.

7:40 am

mmm2 600After the usual rush of do-you-have-your-homework and did-you-brush-your-teeth and where-is-my-other-sneaker the three kids are out the door. The middle schooler goes first (6:55 bus but today her nice dad gives her a ride so she has a few extra minutes) followed by the fifth-grader and third-grader on a later bus. By 7:40, they’re all gone. Whew. 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!

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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.”

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10 Books to Help Improve Grammar and Writing Basics

Posted by September 28th, 2015

Penguin editor and YA author Meg Leder offers the Book Country community a terrific tool: a list of excellent books on grammar and writing basics. Stock your personal library with these guides to grow both your confidence and your craft as a writer.

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Books on Grammar Guidance

Worried your writing is rife with grammar and spelling errors? These great guides will help you polish your work.

  • Woe Is I by Patricia T. O’Conner: Down-to-earth guidance that de-mystifies the confusing world of grammar, spelling, and pronunciation.
  • Words Into Type, Third Edition by Marjorie E. Skillin and Robert Malcolm Gay: Definitive and credible source for writers on manuscript etiquette, copyediting, style, grammar, and usage.
  • Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies by June Casagrande: If you’re tired of the grammar police but still need to learn the basics, you’ll love this humorous and lively approach to learning grammar. Also check out the author’s other book, Mortal Syntax, for another fun guide—this time on frequently attacked language usage choices.
  • The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White: This classic style manual is a must have for any writer.
  • Literally, the Best Language Book Ever by Paul Yeager: A wry and opinionated examination of trite, trendy, grammatically incorrect, inane, outdated, and lazy uses of words, phrases, and expressions.
  • The Copyeditor’s Handbook by Amy Einsohn: A dynamic manual for both newbie authors who want to learn the ropes and writing veterans who want to hone their craft.

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