Tag Archives: Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight: Meet D.J. Pizzarello

Posted by July 7th, 2014

Member Spotlight Book CountryWe are happy to have D.J. Pizzarello with us today! D.J. has written several highly rated works on Book Country including ANGEL OF MERCY and SATAN’S LURE. He is the winner of the Editor’s Choice Prize from AuthorStand. D.J. is currently working on a collection of horror short stories. Connect with D.J. on Book Country

Janet Umenta: Your books have garnered a lot of positive feedback on Book Country! I especially enjoyed reading SATAN’S LURE. How do you use the feedback you receive to better your writing?

D.J. Pizzarello: I often find feedback provocative, giving me the chance to see my work through the eyes of readers.  I try to understand what prompts the suggestions and often find they lead to changes that strengthen my story.  I don’t always incorporate the suggestions as given, but they initiate a chain of thought that improves what I’m writing.  Criticism is, for me, valuable and welcome Continue reading

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Member Spotlight: Meet Middle Grade Writer Sherrie Petersen

Posted by June 17th, 2014

Member Spotlight: Sherrie PetersenToday we are talking to Book Country member Sherrie Petersen, whose book WISH YOU WEREN’T is a June Editor’s Pick. Connect with Sherrie on Book Country, and read on to find out more about her experience with beta readers, designing her own cover, and why she loves writing for middle graders. 

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Lucy Silag: Congrats on publishing your first book, WISH YOU WEREN’T. Tell us the story of how the book came to be, and how you brought it into the world.

Sherrie Petersen: I wrote the first page of this story several years back after watching stars with my kids one night. It was right before a writer’s conference where I had the chance to get feedback from an agent, an editor and an author. (Someone else read the page out loud, thankfully!) All three of them loved the voice, the setting, the mood that page evoked – they wanted to read more. That totally encouraged me to keep going. And despite many rewrites, the first page has stayed essentially the same. Continue reading

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Member Spotlight: Meet Romance Writer Lynn Montagano

Posted by May 19th, 2014

Lynn Montagano, Book Country member since 2012, has just published her debut romance novel, CATCH MY BREATH! Lynn shares her advice to writers workshopping their books on Book Country. Connect with Lynn!

Lynn MontaganoJanet Umenta: On your Book Country profile page, you note that you are an avid traveler. In CATCH MY BREATH, you take the reader to amazing places such as Glasgow, Scotland and London, England. How did your traveling experience help you write such vivid descriptions in your novel?

Lynn Montagano: The traveling bug first bit me when I was young and my parents took my brother and I to Disney World. The whole experience amazed me: the airplane, being somewhere that wasn’t home, meeting new people, etc. I’m from a small town in Rhode Island so venturing away from there sparked something in me. Continue reading

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Member Spotlight: Meet Romance Writer Jaycee Ford

Posted by April 14th, 2014

Jaycee FordPlease welcome Romance writer Jaycee Ford to the Book Country Member Spotlight this morning! Jaycee, who lives and writes in New Orleans, Louisiana, is working on a series called the “Love Bug” books, and she’s earning fantastic reviews and a serious following. Learn more about Jaycee below, and connect with her on Book Country!

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Lucy Silag: Tell us about how living in the Big Easy informs your identity as a writer.

Jaycee Ford: New Orleans itself is a character. Being born and raised in a city like no other, you become the city and the city becomes you. New Orleans teaches you to step out of your comfort zone. You do things here that you wouldn’t or couldn’t do in other cities. When I moved away to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, it was beautiful and I loved living there, but I missed home. This is where I began toying with the idea of writing and came up with a story, even started jotting down ideas. I still have that one plotted out, but I never did write that story. I think I lacked the inspiration. When I moved back to New Orleans, the city’s aura buzzed through my veins, and I came up with a story about a cowboy. A few months later, WATCHING FIREFLIES was born. Continue reading

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Member Spotlight: Meet Writer Nigia Stephens

Posted by April 7th, 2014

Nigia Stephens author photo editedI’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.

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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

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Member Spotlight: Meet Memoir Writer Elena Kirby

Posted by January 27th, 2014

elena kirbyPlease welcome Elena Kirby to this week’s Book Country Member Spotlight. Almost the moment she posted her book THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID for peer review, it started getting a lot of attention. Below she explains how she’s writing and revising her Memoir, her approach toward truth-telling in creative nonfiction, and what she reads to inspire herself to work on her writing.

LS: Tell us about THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID, and tell us why you think it was immediately read and reviewed by so many members!

EK: The book is essentially about me re-entering the dating world and learning about the online dating culture as a thirty-something single mom, although the term ‘re-entering’ might be a stretch because I didn’t exactly date all that much in my twenties (or teens for that matter).  So a lot of wild oats are being sown in my story as well.  Any kind of dating situation can be awkward, so I’m trying to find the humor in it all to cope with all the strangeness that comes along with going out on a date with a complete stranger.  There’s a nice release of tension and anxiety when I can make the stories funny.  Maybe the humor is partly why some people have chosen to read it.  Also, there is something universal about the experience of dating and meeting someone for the first time who could be “the one” (the anticipation, the nerves twitching, the excitement and disappointment).  We’ve all been there and can relate.  When someone takes the time to read my story and tells me they know exactly what I mean, I feel a little less lonely knowing other people have gone through or are going through the same thing.  Continue reading

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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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Member Spotlight: Meet Writer Aira Philipps

Posted by December 16th, 2013

Aira_Philipps_finalJoin us in welcoming writer Aira Philipps to the member spotlight this Monday! Aira is a recent Book Country convert who writes YA, loves Stephen King, and is the mother of three boys. Check out her book RISE OF THE WHITE RAVEN and get to know her as she talks about writing YA characters and unleashing her creativity in her fiction. 

NG: Thanks for chatting with us, Aira! Start by telling us a little bit about yourself & how you landed in the crazy world of writing!

AP: Thanks for having me, Nevena. Gosh, I can’t remember when I wasn’t writing something. I wanted so badly to be able to tell a story like Roald Dahl, or Jean Merrill. I had a pile of notebooks with stories in them I never shared with anyone. I just liked to write. My creative mind took me in so many directions, so my writing was just one of many. I was taking private art lessons and doing community theater, even playing the cello, I never took my writing seriously. Then I settled down raising my three boys, and about the time I found the internet, I started writing again. This time it was much easier to focus and organize my thoughts. I just ran with it.

NG: THE RISE OF THE WHITE RAVEN is the story of a not-so-ordinary 17-year-old girl who has to face supernatural forces and an old prophecy. What’s your favorite part about telling this particular tale?

AP: I really like Deidra as a character. Because she started out being an outcast when she was younger, she became strong and independent. Deidra is able to fit in without giving into peer pressure, and doesn’t need a boyfriend or to wear the latest trends to feel good about herself. I think Deidra is what we all wish we could have been in high school.

NG: Blending paranormal elements in a contemporary setting can be tricky. What is your personal approach to grounding magic in the book?

AP: It all comes down to the first advice given to a writer. Write what you know. I am a big fan of Joseph Campbell, and read any kind of myth I can get a hold of. It’s also the fiction I am drawn to, so the paranormal part is easy enough. The story was already in my head, much of it from my own experiences. I just began to write. For bringing the characters up-to-date, I can thank my boys and all their friends — my house is always full of clowns.

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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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Member Spotlight: Meet Horror Writer Nikki Hopeman

Posted by November 18th, 2013

Today we’re joined by Book Country member Nikki Hopeman, who has wonderful news to share with the community: her debut horror novel HABEAS CORPSE was just released from Blood Bound Books.

Nikki has a Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hall University, and has worked as a “mad scientist” at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Immunologic Monitoring and Cellular Products laboratory–two talents that have undoubtedly helped her with her first zombie novel!

Here we’re talking about her the publication process and her fascination with dark fiction and zombies. ~NG

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Your debut novel HABEAS CORPSE just came out–congratulations! Will you tell us more about your book’s journey: from the muse descending upon you to the book capturing the attention of Blood Bound Books?

The roots of HABEAS CORPSE formed during a graduate school class when I read Richard Matheson’s short story, “The Funeral.” In Matheson’s story, we meet a vampire who is disappointed he’ll never have a funeral, so he throws his own and invites an interesting mix of supernatural friends. Chaos quickly ensues. I’d just finished reading Jeff Lindsay’s DEXTER series, and the two worlds collided. I initially wrote a short story about an entirely supernatural forensics squad, but a friend told me I had the makings of a novel. After a few false starts, I realized the best character from the story was the evidence-eating zombie, so I kept him and made everyone else human. I finished the first full draft and approached RJ Cavender and the editorial department to help me polish the manuscript. When we finished, he acquired the novel for Blood Bound Books. It was really fast, and my head might still be spinning. Continue reading

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