Tag Archives: writing advice

NaNoWriMo: Building Good Habits by Andrea Dunlop

Posted by November 9th, 2015

Nano cloudsLast week we posted about the awesome sweepstakes Girl Friday Productions is running for NaNoWriMo participants. As we kick off week 2 of Nano, we check in with Book Country member Andrea Dunlop (social media and marketing director at GFP and author of LOSING THE LIGHT, coming from Atria Books in February 2016) for tips on making the writing habit sustainable over time.

What do you need to make it as a writer? Talent? Ambition? Discipline? An enormous trust fund that allows you to quit your day job?

Sure, you need those things (okay, not the last one, but it couldn’t hurt). But whether your version of “making it” is getting through your 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo this year, getting a six-figure book deal, or anything in between, you definitely need good habits, because without them, none of the rest of these things will matter.

What I love about NaNoWriMo is that its very concept dispenses with any precious notions of what it means to write a book. NaNo does not concern itself with airy-fairy visions of the muse alighting on your shoulder and inspiring greatness; the only goal is to reach the word count. Technically this means that you could write the sentence “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” five thousand times in a row and complete the NaNoWriMo challenge, though we all know that doesn’t end well for the author. (On a related note, if you ever find yourself saying, “You know, if only I could get somewhere really isolated and quiet where I didn’t have any other responsibilities, I could definitely get my novel done,” you should probably watch The Shining.) Continue reading

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G.D. Deckard on Self-Publishing his Debut Novel, THE PHOENIX DIARY, with Book Country

Posted by June 24th, 2015

G.D. Deckard on Self-Publishing his Debut Novel, THE PHOENIX DIARY, with Book Country

Congratulations to Book Country member G.D. Deckard on publishing his debut science fiction novel, THE PHOENIX DIARY, with Book Country! G.D. is an outstanding member of the Book Country community. He’s always involved in engaging and helpful conversations about the writing process and book marketing in the discussion boards. G.D. workshopped THE PHOENIX DIARY on Book Country, and we are so happy to see it finally hit the e-shelves. Below, G.D. shares what inspired him to write THE PHOENIX DIARY and how joining Book Country helped him in the publishing process. THE PHOENIX DIARY is available on Book Country and on all major online retailers. Connect with G.D. on Book Country.

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Janet Umenta: What inspired you to write THE PHOENIX DIARY? How long did it take you to write the book?

G.D. Deckard: One day I realized that abandoned streets, houses, shopping malls, and schools meant a world without oil. The first working title of my manuscript was AMERICA WITHOUT OIL. But that story idea had already been used by other authors. So I took the opportunity in my book to blend a straight-forward adventure with answers to life’s oldest questions: Where did humans come from? What is death? Do we have a destiny? I made up the answers, of course, but that’s the great part about science fiction. The making up the answers part and the actual writing took me six years.

JU: THE PHOENIX DIARY is a hard science fiction novel. Who are the science fiction authors you looked up to growing up? Did you draw from any of their techniques?

GDD: The science fiction authors I looked up to growing up were Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, Bradbury, and Delany – the classics. I am fascinated by our sense of wonder rooted in reality, which led me to explore science fiction. While doing research for THE PHOENIX DIARY, I discovered that there are actual remnants of ancient nuclear reactors in West Africa that are nearly two billion years old. I was stunned and asked myself, how did they get there? Continue reading

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New Waiting to be Discovered Titles on Book Country!

Posted by June 22nd, 2015

New Waiting to be Discovered Titles on Book Country!A new set of Waiting to Be Discovered titles is featured on Book Country’s Read and Review page! We are always blown away by the diverse array of books we feature. All thanks to you!

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How to Analyze Your Bad Writing Habits—and Break Free From Them by Lexa Hillyer

Posted by June 3rd, 2015

Lexa Hillyer is the author of PROOF OF FOREVER.

What are your bad writing habits? Lexa Hillyer is the author of PROOF OF FOREVER, a debut young adult novel published by HarperCollins. Below, Lexa analyzes the bad writing habits that stop you from reaching your full potential.

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Since long before penning my own first novel, PROOF OF FOREVER, I have been an editor of teen fiction. I worked for several years at Harper and then at Penguin before I started Paper Lantern Lit, a boutique literary development company. I’ve always said that editing is kind of like therapy—your most important job as an editor is to help your writers better articulate what they want. Often what that really means is helping them get out of their own way and freeing them of whatever “bad habits” are holding them back.

In order to discover your own bad habits and become your own best therapist, I’ve put together a few key steps:

1) KNOW THYSELF.

The first thing you need to establish is the answer to the following questions:
What kind of writer AM I?
What exactly is it that I’m trying to do?
What is it that makes my project “ME”?

2) STUDY YOUR HEROES.

It’s just as crucial that you know what you are NOT trying to do. Avoid vague and general ambitions like “I want to become the next J.K. Rowling.” Instead, really zero in on the strengths that you particularly pride yourself in, the things you love most about Rowling’s work, the elements you are striving to emulate, and why.

The more granular you can get, the better. Here’s where a lot of us trip up. We think: Rowling is so good at making up an alternative world, and that’s what I want to do. Then we go crazy creating a super-complex, potentially even impenetrably convoluted fantasy world that lacks all the appeal of the Potter franchise. Basically, we over-deliver. Instead, you want to figure out HOW she does what she does so well. Try and break it down into concrete actions. In what chapter does the character depart from the real world and under what circumstances? What are the characters’ very first impressions of the alternate world? How much of the rules are established right off the bat? Continue reading

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Member Spotlight: Meet Jayden Abello

Posted by June 2nd, 2015

Member Spotlight: Meet Jayden AbelloWe’re happy to feature Jayden Abello on the Book Country blog! Jayden is currently workshopping BREAKING THE BAND. BREAKING THE BAND is a finalist in The Cleveland Rocks Romance Contest. Connect with Jayden on Book Country

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Janet Umenta: In your Book Country profile, you list Colleen Hoover and Tammara Webber as your favorite authors. How have these authors influenced your writing?

Jayden Abello: Collen Hoover and Tammara Webber were the first two New Adult authors I ever read. SLAMMED and EASY both pulled me in with their amazing characters and realistic story lines. I’ll try to study them to figure out the story beats and the act structure, and I just can’t. Once I turn the page, I get sucked into the stories every single time. I’ve read those books countless times. They’re that good.

When those books came out, New Adult was barely a thing. But I had ideas for similar types of stories floating around in my head for years. Seeing how they were able to captivate the market made me think my ideas could find readers as well. So I started writing. And rewriting. Continue reading

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New Waiting to be Discovered Titles on Book Country!

Posted by May 11th, 2015

New Waiting to be Discovered Titles on Book Country!A new set of Waiting to Be Discovered titles is featured on the Read and Review page!

We are always blown away by the diverse array of books we feature. All thanks to you!  Continue reading

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Member Spotlight: Meet Valerie Emmerich

Posted by April 14th, 2015

Member Spotlight: Meet Valerie EmmerichWe’re happy to have Valerie Emmerich on the Book Country blog! Valerie is currently workshopping a literary fiction novel titled ROOM TO SPARE, which was a December Editor’s Pick. Valerie shares how she developed the idea for ROOM TO SPARE and advice for fleshing out characters. 

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Janet Umenta: Growing up, what books inspired you?

Valerie Emmerich: I don’t think I can point to one book or books that specifically inspired me. I’ve always just loved to read and write. There were lots of books around our house, and I practically inhaled them. I loved Dickens and I remember being enthralled by THE TRAVELS OF MARCO POLO, THE DIARY OF ANN FRANK, THE GOOD EARTH, and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, all quite different books. As I got older I ventured into the “grownup” books on the living room shelves and remember reading MARJORIE MORNINGSTAR (yes! A Jewish girl from the Bronx!) and IN COLD BLOOD. That may have set me up for my proclivity for reading contemporary literary fiction in my adult life. Continue reading

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“Keep writing, no matter what.” Book Country Member Kelli Mahoney, winner of The Writers’ Academy Sweepstakes

Posted by January 28th, 2015

Book Country Member Kelli MahoneyBook Country member Kelli Mahoney won the intensive creative writing course offered by Penguin Random House Writers’ Academy in our sweepstakes last November. The Writers’ Academy is offering a new online creative writing class for beginners with Jane Lawson in March. Kelli shares what she’s learned from Michal Shavit, Editorial Director at Harvill Secker, and the best writing advice she’s received from the course. Connect with Kelli on Book Country

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Janet Umenta: What has been your favorite session so far in the course?

Kelli Mahoney: I don’t know if I can choose a favorite.  Every week poses a challenge and an opportunity to push me outside my comfort zone.  The writing assignments push me to create a more compelling and cleaner story, and the advice provided in the videos and readings are priceless.  I do like the progression from character development to plot.   Also, the writing prompts have opened up the flood gates of creativity, so sometimes we’ll have a 500 word piece to write that suddenly becomes a 6,000 word chapter of the book I’ve been working on. Continue reading

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Waiting to be Discovered Books on Book Country

Posted by January 12th, 2015

Book Country Waiting to be Disocvered January 2015

Ten new books are featured in the Waiting to be Discovered section on the Read and Review page. This is a great opportunity to help a writer start the new year right! Read our guide on reviewing books on Book Country.

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Write Start Author Series & Contest from Biographile and Paste Magazine

Posted by January 6th, 2015

Calling all Book Country writers! Are you ready to start a great story this year?

Biographile, a Penguin Random House blog dedicated to biography and memoir, is going to be a wealth of inspiration and advice for aspiring writers all through the month of January. Already an excellent place to brush up on the craft of writing (check out our post from last month with Biographile’s Joe Muscolino), they’re amping it up with the Write Start Author Series. More than forty published authors are going to share tips for getting started on a new project . . . just in time for a new year in your writing life.

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From Biographile:

At some point most writers will face this struggle, the furious and paralyzing reality of squeezing perfect ideas into imperfect words.

We at Biographile feel your pain, so we’ve spent the past few months asking forty-plus authors to share their hard-earned writing advice to remind you you’re not alone. For the month of January, in the spirit of new beginnings, Biographile will be spending each day celebrating the craft of writing by giving you all the basics to get started.

Additionally, the awesome folks at Paste Magazine are hosting the Write Start Contest, perfect for Book Country writers! Continue reading

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