The most successful writers are those willing to really listen to the feedback they get on their manuscripts, and then use feedback to revise. And then do that again, and again, and again, until their book is really ready for readers on a large scale. On Book Country, writing and posting new drafts to share with the community is how you can gain traction for your book, widen its audience, and ultimately, have a better chance of turning your book into a publishing success. Continue reading
Longtime Book Country member Marshall Maresca is back on the blog today to unveil the gorgeous cover for his first book, THE THORN OF DENTONHILL, which was workshoppped in the Book Country community and was picked up for publication by DAW Books. The book will go on sale in February 2015.
We are very excited about this! Congratulations, Marshall!
“Done” is a tricky word in this business.
By which I mean, I was “done” with THE THORN OF DENTONHILL—the rough draft of it—in September 2008. Of course, that’s just a rough draft, so that isn’t done. Really, a year later, I had finished my edits and was querying to agents. Then it was “done”. Continue reading
Dan Croutch has been a Book Country member since finding us during NaNoWriMo 2013. Always a helpful and supportive community member, Dan can often be found on the Book Country discussion boards or chatting with us on Twitter.
In April I wrote to all of the Book Country newsletter subscribers that I would read anyone’s book who wanted me to. The only catch was that the member had to have done a significant revision and reuploaded a new draft for me to read. Dan took me up on my feedback offer for his High/Epic Fantasy novel THE KINGS OF CARNIN: Rise of Ari.
THE KINGS OF CARNIN stars a young blacksmith named Ari. The son of the king’s foremost weapons maker, Ari is granted an audience with the king after his father’s death. During this meeting, he’s compelled to fight an emissary named Raden to the death. Unexpectedly defeating Raden means that Ari is transformed from a civilian artisan to a commander in the army overnight.
Dan’s prose is varied and flows easily–this was my favorite part about reading THE KINGS OF CARNIN. You can tell he is taking time to begin his sentences in different places, crafting each paragraph so that it avoids repetition and redundancy.
I am appreciative of the straightforwardness of KINGS OF CARNIN. It’s good old-fashioned storytelling that doesn’t confuse or alienate the reader. The linear way he has structured his book is appealing and will be accessible to readers of all ages. Furthermore, I think that fantasy often benefits from a straightforward narrative like this one: It makes the reader’s passage into the fantastical realm much more seamless, and it highlights the innovative details Dan has created as part of the worldbuilding process. Continue reading
At this year’s RT Booklovers Convention, we raffled off 1-on-1 manuscript feedback sessions with yours truly. Book Country member Alys Arden was one of the winners. It’s fitting that she won this package, because the first book I ever read and reviewed on Book Country was THE CASQUETTE GIRLS, which Alys published on Halloween 2013. Now she’s hard at work on the sequel, THE ROMEO CATCHERS. As a big fan of the first book, I was super excited to jump into the next volume.
As usual, reading the work of another writer was very helpful to me in thinking about my own views about good writing. Much of my review will only make sense if you’re also reading her book (which you should!), but I wanted to share a few takeaways that I hope will resonate for the rest of the community as they write and revise their books.
I am not a huge fan of prologues. Writers need to win over readers from the very first sentence, and I think writers have more success when they immediately include concrete details about setting, specific characterizations, and most importantly, strive for clarity. Prologues, on the other hand, tend to be vague and sometimes dreamlike. They often hint at a situation that for which the reader does not yet have a context. This can be confusing and even off-putting to readers. I think the reason Alys succeeds here is because the prologue is a self-contained story. It does the job of hinting to the reader of what’s to come–historical significance, a later threading in of this urban legend–but it’s also enjoyable for its own sake. Continue reading
Join me in welcoming Book Country member Alys Arden back to the blog! Alys workshopped her first book, THE CASQUETTE GIRLS, on Book Country (I blogged about reading it here, and she celebrated its release here), and is now hard at work on the sequel, THE ROMEO CATCHERS. A New Orleans native, Alys is the perfect writer to help us get ready for our trip to NOLA for the RT Booklovers Convention this week. Read on for her tips about what to add to your conference itinerary.
You know you are the biggest nerd on the planet when you get completely overwhelmed with giddiness after the RT Booklovers Convention releases the 2014 iPhone app, and you are dancing while it downloads.
Besides the content and participating author list, I am particularly excited about the convention this year because it’s taking place in New Orleans, Louisiana, my hometown! And if you know anything about me, or have read my work, you know that my affection for New Orleans runs deep.
Post-download, I subsequently spent the rest of the afternoon reviewing every single panel/event, cross-referencing timetables and maps to create a customized schedule with the perfect blend of inspiration, information, boundary pushing and networking. I had to calm myself down a few times when I realized that two (or four) of my top picks were happening simultaneously, like, why is the Veronica Roth chat happening at the same time as the Urban Fantasy Panel? WHY?!
I am currently in the process of writing a sequel to my first novel, THE CASQUETTE GIRLS, (which I workshopped on Book Country last year!) It’s a YA Paranormal Romance that takes place in the New Orleans French Quarter, so you’ll see a pattern in my top picks for #RT2014:
Why you should be excited: Have you ever finished writing a chapter/novel/poem/short story/love letter/whatever and wished you could read it with totally fresh eyes? Or even better, have someone beta read it with unbiased eyes? That’s one of the reasons I joined Book Country (okay, also, I’m an Internet junkie and I will try anything once… okay, not anything.) As a first time writer, I thought I’d have to beg and plead for people to read my work – this wasn’t the case at all. Not only did several people from the community give me feedback on my then work-in-progress novel, but one morning I woke up to find a message from Lucy, saying that she wanted to workshop THE CASQUETTE GIRLS. Her detailed feedback was invaluable. I still go back and read it, to this day. I only bring this up because three of the prizes being raffled at this panel are workshopping sessions with Lucy! YOU WANT TO WIN THIS PRIZE, just sayin’. Continue reading
Figuring out how to promote your book before it comes out is a weird process. When you’re traditionally published, you have a team of professionals working with you, building buzz and anticipation for the book before it hits.
But what does that actually involve?
Every author, every book, and every publisher does things a bit differently, but here are some things I’ve done to try to get my name out into the world and to build awareness of/interest in my books:
- Podcasts. I love podcasts. When I was a traveling rep, podcasts and audiobooks were my lifeline, my connection to the SF/F world. As a result, I had a list of podcasts to reach out to and make appearances as a guest. I made appearances on the Functional Nerds, Speculate!, Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing, and the Roundtable Podcast, among others. And last year, I became a co-host on The Skiffy & Fanty Show, while continuing to appear as a guest on others (most recently including the SF Squeecast). Podcasts are great for verbal thinkers and people who enjoy discussion in community (I am one of those people).
- Blogging. I used to blog a lot more, when I was a pop culture scholar trying to get into PhD programs for cultural studies/media studies. As a writer, it’s great to share your interests and connect with people who are both readers and members of the same interests/hobbies as you. I don’t blog quite as much anymore, since I spend more of my writing time on prose, but keeping your blog at least somewhat fresh is a good way to slowly build a readership, which then sometimes transfers over to buying your books Continue reading
I’m excited to introduce Book Country member Nigia Stephens on the blog today. Nigia is a writer of multiple genres, an artist, and a poet with a wide array of curiosities and interests. She’s unafraid to try new things and seek out new paths for her writing–one of my very favorite characteristics in a writer! Read on to learn more about Nigia and her Book Country WIPS ARMS OF ANGELS and THE LOVE OF DANGEROUS CREATURES.
Lucy Silag: The first book you posted to Book Country is ARMS OF ANGELS, a steampunk romance set in 1690 Jamaica. How did you come up with the concept for the book?
Nigia Stephens: ARMS OF ANGELS emerged from another novel I’d written, Children of Eden, more than fifteen years ago. I love the unconventional. There are not enough people of color, gays and lesbians, or a heady mix of intelligent-and-sexy women in the world of Fantasy or Science Fiction. Children of Eden is a space saga that begins in our time. The protagonist of Children of Eden is a Puerto Rican drag queen named Almond who is a direct descendant of Jovan, my pirate captain in ARMS OF ANGELS. Continue reading
We are really excited to introduce Ace and Roc editor Danielle Stockley. Danielle has been a trusted counselor to us over the years and is our go-to science fiction and fantasy fiction expert. (She also edits Book Country member Kerry Schafer‘s the Books of the Between!) It is our pleasure to have her answer questions about her work at Penguin Random House on Book Country today. Read on for great tips about the craft of writing—and editing—in those genres.
NG: What are some of the clichés in science fiction and fantasy submissions that make a manuscript an automatic “pass” for you?
DS: I hate to declare anything an automatic pass, because inevitably it will show up in something that I’ve published. There are definitely things that make me wary, though. Plots involving mind control; protagonists who are constantly developing new powers just when they are needed most; character “development” by way of sexual assault; and evil, monolithic corporations with seemingly limitless resources don’t feel especially fresh to me.
This 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.
One of the greatest challenges in writing paranormal and fantasy fiction is crafting a setting that feels real, even if all of the rules we normally abide by are turned inside out. Writers trust their readers to willingly suspend their disbelief and accept the truths that the prose give them, but this trust isn’t freely given—writers must earn it. Think of your favorite world building writers and try to recall what they did to build an environment that was so completely different from our own, yet so easily imaginable.
Some of my favorite writers capitalize on familiar objects, identities, and themes, which they use as the foundation for their fantastical world(s). For example, JK Rowling takes human experiences and puts a metaphorical twist on them: Dementors and Boggarts represent fear; Physical markings like scars and Dark Marks represent power; and even the names of the characters are scrambled from words and sayings we all recognize–like Voldemort, which means “Flee from death,” or “Remus Lupin,” which is a combination of Wolf and Moon. By creating metaphors out of the ordinary and familiar, JK Rowling gently leads the reader into her magical world, slowly introducing magical elements, until eventually all that is left is fantasy. One of the greatest lessons we can learn from her craft is that every world, no matter how extraordinary, fantastical, or magical, is conceivable via the human imagination. Continue reading