Tag Archives: Q&A

Member Spotlight: Meet Alex Maher

Posted by December 8th, 2014

Book Country Member Spotlight: Alex MaherWelcome Alex Maher to the Book Country Member Spotlight! Alex lives in Australia with his family. His most recent project on Book Country is THE INVISIBLE PEOPLE, which was an October Editor’s Pick. Alex shares what drew him to writing horror, and the mistakes he made when he first started writing. Connect with Alex on Book Country.

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Janet Umenta: What were your favorite books in school?

Alex Maher: Hmm, tough one. At school, we were forced to read all kinds of stuff that I was not interested in. I can’t honestly remember reading anything at school, novel wise. Home was different.  I was quite a bookworm for fiction as a kid.

The first ‘real’ novel I read was LORD OF THE SPIDERS by Harry Harrison. I was about eight or nine. I loved it. I then went on to read other adventures/fantasy. Stuff like BATTLE CIRCLE and the big four ‘Tolkiens,’ but then I found SciFi. By age twelve, I was into Niven and Pournelle. FOOTFALL and LEGACY OF HEOROT come to mind. Continue reading

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Bouchercon 2014 : Meet Alibi Editor Dana Edwin Isaacson

Posted by November 10th, 2014

Bouchercon 2014: Murder at the Beach kicks off November 13th in Long Beach, California. Bouchercon is one of the world’s largest crime fiction conventions. Dana Edwin Isaacson, Senior Editor at Alibi, shares what he his most looking forward to at Bouchercon.

ALIBI editor Bouchercon 2014Janet Umenta: What are you most looking forward to at Bouchercon 2014?

Dana Edwin Isaacson: During the e-publishing forum on Thursday, our Alibi authors are doing a virtual eBook signing, using our partner Autography. Interested mystery readers can meet our authors at the signings, get a personal inscription or photograph with the author, and then go and download their personalized eBook. As I’ve yet to see this incredibly cool innovation in action, I’m eager to get my own personalized eBooks!

I’m also excited to be meeting in person for the first time a few of our Alibi authors. When editing a novel, you develop an intimate relationship with the author’s viewpoint. It’s fascinating to meet in person someone whom you feel you already know.

JU:  What new trends do you see in the mystery and thriller genres?

DEI: Cozies are selling well. In online strategies, novels with a female protagonist find it easier to win readers.  Also, there seems to be an uptick of medical thrillers. Continue reading

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Member Spotlight: Meet Writer Andrea Dunlop

Posted by August 8th, 2014

Andrea Dunlop on Book CountrySo excited to have my friend and fellow Book Country member Andrea Dunlop back on the blog this morning! I just read Andrea’s book, THE SOJOURN, and I was blown away by how good it was. Just as I was finishing the book, Andrea wrote to tell me that she’s signed with literary agent Carly Watters. If you haven’t yet checked out the excerpt of THE SOJOURN that is available to read on Book Country, I highly recommend that you do so ASAP!

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Lucy Silag: Tell us what compelled you to write THE SOJOURN.

Andrea Dunlop: It was inspired by the time I spent in France as a student. Traveling abroad for the first time is an incredibly heady experience, it has a way of blowing open your perspective on life.

LS: How long have you been working on it? What is your writing and revising process like?

AD: I’ve actually been working on the novel off and on for twelve years now, if you can believe it. There have been many, many versions of the story but it always came back to the friendship between [main characters] Brooke and Sophie. I’ve gotten lots of feedback from different sources over the years that have helped me shape the book: fellow writers, agents, professors, I ended up hiring a developmental editor and I can’t overstate the difference that made. After you’ve been working on something for a certain amount of time, you lose perspective on it. It really helped me to just let go and be willing to do whatever it took to make the story better. Continue reading

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Submit Questions for our Ask an Editor Series!

Posted by July 28th, 2014


Book Country Ask an EditorThank you to all those who submitted questions for our Ask an Agent blog series! Your questions touched on a lot of topics including how to query agents and how agents actually go about choosing manuscripts. Thanks to the literary agents who helped make Ask an Agent possible! You can find links to their blog posts below.

This August, we are launching our Ask an Editor blog series! As you know, editors decide which manuscripts they would like to publish. Editors are involved in virtually every step of the publishing process, from the actual editing to marketing and promotion. Continue reading

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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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Historical Romance Writer Madeline Hunter On Revising, Writing Visually, and Humor

Posted by June 3rd, 2014

the accidental duchessWe are proud to have Madeline Hunter with us today! Madeline is an award-winning historical romance author whose books have been translated in twelve languages and featured on the USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly, and New York Times bestseller lists. Her new book, THE ACCIDENTAL DUCHESS, is published by Jove, an imprint of Berkley Books. It features the unlikely love affair between Lady Lydia and the Duke of Penthurst in 18th century England. In this Q&A, Madeline shares her love of revision (or not), how her art history background influences her work, and what inspires her humor. 

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Janet Umenta: Most writers would agree that revising is difficult, but what was the most enjoyable part when revising THE ACCIDENTAL DUCHESS?

Madeline Hunter: I love to revise! It is far easier than writing new material for me, so the danger is I will spend my working time revising, if given the choice. The really enjoyable part of revising is when my editor asks for what I call substantive revisions (as in rewriting whole sections.) It is such a cool team project then, so I dig right in, glowing with renewed inspiration. (No one is believing this, right? See question #5 about my sense of humor.) Continue reading

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Jane Green on Writing and Motherhood: “Don’t Feel Guilty”

Posted by May 8th, 2014

I’m such a fan of Jane Green. In fact, the one time I met this Women’s Fiction author in person, it was one of the few times in my life where I have really been starstruck by an author. Jane’s bestselling books have been my faithful companions since I discovered them in college. As Jane’s characters are often British, it was from her that I learned essential vocabulary like “naff” and “spot of shopping.” We chatted about how she’s grown and changed as a writer over the years, how she accommodates the busy dual roles of mothering and writing, and what’s changed for her since she’s lived in the US.

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Lucy Silag: You must hear from a lot of readers like me: people who’ve been reading you for a long time, and who’ve grown into adulthood with you. In that time, how have you changed as a writer?

Jane Green: I’ve changed enormously as a person – ageing, motherhood, divorce, etc., etc. – all have softened and changed me, and subsequently, of course, my writing. I think I am rather more circumspect as a writer these days, and definitely more accepting. My earlier books are filled with a judgment that now makes me shudder in horror.

LS: Chick lit is supposed to be such a fluffy genre—and yet it seems like books in this subgenre of women’s fiction talk about subjects that a lot of other writers are afraid to address.For example, your book BOOKENDS was the first mainstream book I ever read that talked frankly about HIV testing. That meant a lot to me as a reader. Do you feel like you get to explore a lot of social taboos by writing “women’s fiction”—or is it something that you’d be doing no matter what genre you wrote?

JG: I write about the things that matter to me, issues that have personally touched me (often), or things I am trying to work out in my own life. The recurring themes in my book are no coincidence – I do think it is the most spectacular opportunity to work out the issues of my childhood, getting closer and closer to healing with every book!

LS: What are the biggest differences about publishing in the US and the UK?

JG: I don’t really remember anymore, having lived here for 13 years. I think perhaps there is more focus on the craft of writing over here, and certainly on editing – I rarely edited in England, and now I have had to practically rewrite entire books. It is something I have come to value above all else, despite the drudgery of having to go over it again and again; there is no question I am writing the best books of my career because of the work my US editor requires of me.

TemptingFateHCcoverLS: Tell us about your most recent main character, Gabby, from TEMPTING FATE. What was the first detail you knew about her? How did you grow that into a full character?

JG: I knew she was English, and knew she had a crazy, over-dramatic, glamorous, bohemian mother, who paid her no attention whatsoever as a child. I had a very clear picture of their house in Belsize Park, London, and it all grew from there.

LS: If I remember correctly from your Facebook posts, you have four children. How on earth have you written 15 novels with so much activity in your house?

JG: It requires a huge amount of discipline. And energy. The energy bit has been harder the last few years as I’m living with Lyme Disease, or rather, more specifically, Post-Lyme Auto-Immune Disease, and Hashimoto’s Disease, so I spend a lot more time in bed than I used to. Continue reading

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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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Military Science Fiction Lessons from Jack Campbell’s Legendary LOST FLEET Series

Posted by March 6th, 2014

john_hemry_1What’s military science fiction, you ask? Fiction in the style of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA would be the short answer. Stories about interplanetary conflict that emphasize military strategy and play-by-play  descriptions of battle scenes. To get the long answer, read our Q&A with Military SF Landmark author Jack Campbell. His Lost Fleet series recounts the adventures of naval officer Jack Geary, who “comes back from the dead” to help the Alliance stand up to its enemies—the Syndicate Worlds. 

NG: There are 15 books in the Lost Fleet universe. What’s the secret to your world’s longevity? Do you have advice for writers who want to write military science fiction worlds that make readers readers keep coming back?

JC: There are several different things that have enabled me to keep the stories coming in the Lost Fleet universe.  The first is that the initial scenario gave me so much to work with.  I had been thinking for years about how to successfully write a long “retreat in space” story.  That’s a lot harder than it may sound, because it requires a combination of technologies and ways of fighting that allow a beleaguered force to survive and continue trying to reach safety.  I had the classic long retreat book as a model (Xenophon’s March of the 10,000), which had been used by other writers in the past, and I wanted to make what I was doing feel real.  During the same period that I was thinking about how to do that story, I had also been thinking about sleeping hero legends, which are common in societies around the world.  Such legends (like that of King Arthur) say that the hero is not dead, but sleeping, and will someday return when needed.  They are probably based on real people who were, well, real people, not awesome heroes.  I wondered what it would be like for someone to awaken from a long sleep and discover that they were now thought to be an awesome hero, and that everyone was expecting them to save the day.  After years of thinking about these two ideas, I suddenly realized that they fit together perfectly.  Both required a lot of background to make them work, so the Lost Fleet stories began with a double dose of background.  That gave me a lot to build interlocking storylines about.

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