Tag Archives: writing tips

5 Tips for Forming a Daily Writing Habit by Eve Karlin, Author of CITY OF LIARS AND THIEVES

Posted by June 29th, 2015

5 Tips for Forming a Daily Writing Habit by Eve Karlin, Author of CITY OF LIARS AND THIEVESEve Karlin, author of CITY OF LIARS AND THIEVES, shares 5 tips for forming a daily writing habit.

***

Persistence Is Key

For me, it is important to have a designated time and place to write. I think J.K. Rowling wrote the first book in the Harry Potter series in one coffee shop. Personally, I need a quiet place with few distractions, and it needs to be the same place every day. My desk is on a landing at the top of the stairs next to a window that overlooks our front yard. My dictionary, thesaurus, and research books are within arm’s reach—so there is no excuse to get up. On the bulletin board in front of my computer, I have an article entitled “In Writing Persistence is Key.” When I wrote CITY OF LIARS AND THIEVES, I hung portraits of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, a photo of the well where the murder took place, and a map of 18th century New York. Not only did these things inspire me, they helped me write better descriptions in my novel.

Some writers use outlines. I keep a table of contents to record what happens in each chapter and jot down ideas for later chapters. I also keep a “recycle file,” which makes it easier to cut things without necessarily trashing them. I can edit faster that way without getting hung up on keeping a certain turn of phrase. These tricks work for me. The most essential component for success is to find a routine and system that works for you.

Don’t Be a Perfectionist

While it is important to establish a routine, it is equally important not to beat yourself up if you slack off for a day or so. The important thing is to get back to it. You should want to get back to it. When I am not writing, my day is not complete. This is not because I am such a natural. It is because writing has become a habit for me.

Nothing is written in indelible ink. If you are working on a first draft, just focus on getting the story down. The most important first step is to simply get the story down. Continue reading

Share Button

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.

***

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

Share Button

EXCLUSIVE: Book Country Member Alex Rosa Interview with Best-Selling Author Cora Carmack

Posted by June 16th, 2015

EXCLUSIVE: Book Country Member Alex Rosa Interview with Best-Selling Author Cora CarmackWe are SO excited to have Book Country member Alex Rosa and author Cora Carmack on the Book Country blog! Cora is the New York Times and USA best-selling author of the LOSING IT, RUSK UNIVERSITY, and MUSE series. Alex Rosa released her debut New Adult novel, TRYST, in March, and Cora wrote a wonderful blurb to promote the book: 

“Brother’s hot best friend? A steamy friends with benefits arrangement? What more could you want? Tryst is a fun, tantalizing read!”

Below, Alex and Cora discuss Cora’s new RUSK UNIVERSITY series, book boyfriends, writing, and cats. 

***

Alex Rosa:  Antonella DeLuca (a.k.a Nell) is the third girl you’ve introduced as a main character in the RUSK UNIVERSITY Series.  All of your leading ladies have had incredible, strong-willed personalities. Dallas in ALL LINED UP has the will to find herself and get out of her father’s shadow, and Dylan in ALL BROKE DOWN is a passionate activist who tries her best to do what she believes is right and fair. Now we have Nell in ALL BROKE DOWN. What does she bring to the table for this series? What makes her a standout? Is there anything that makes Nell a personal favorite for you?

Cora Carmack: Nell is one of my favorite heroines I’ve written to date. She’s incredibly smart and more than just a little anti-social. Her focus is on her education and accomplishing her goals as quickly as possible. And now she’s about to graduate from college early without ever having what’s considered a “normal” college experience. I love Nell because she just says what she’s thinking, and it’s often quirky and out there and awkwardly honest. I think a lot of book nerds will be able to see themselves in her.

AllPlayedOutCoverAR: Mateo Torres in ALL PLAYED OUT seems like quite a character (and a hot one). I’m eager to find out what demons this possibly perverted (in a good way) hunk have. What’s your favorite thing about Torres, and what do you think makes him book boyfriend material?

CC: I love that Mateo feels like a real guy that I could know. Yes, he’s sexy and sweet, but there’s something so down to earth and genuine about him. He’s the class clown, the shameless flirt, the funny guy who’s always the center of a party. I think we’ve all known guys like him. But by getting into his head, we get to see the fears and insecurities that fuel his outlandish personality. And it just makes him incredibly human.

AR: As a writer, you’ve created these great leading men in your books. But who is your ultimate book boyfriend as a reader? The one who made you swoon first.

CC: The one who made me swoon first? The first time I remember being truly obsessed with a book boyfriend was with Jace from MORTAL INSTRUMENTS. He was so snarky and funny with a bad boy edge. Sexy + funny will always hook me. Continue reading

Share Button

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.

***

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

Share Button

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

***

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

Share Button

Ask a Literary Agent: Regina Brooks Answers Your Questions!

Posted by May 20th, 2015

Ask a Literary Agent: Regina Brooks Answers Your Questions!

Regina Brooks is the founder and CEO of Serendipity Literary Agency LLC. In November 2010, Brooks co-founded and launched a new publishing imprint under Akashic Books called Open Lens. Regina shares the one thing all successful writers have in common and what writers should do to build a readership.

***

What do you do if a book by one of your clients gets a cover that you find really ugly, but the publisher and the author love it? Do you hold your tongue or do you put in your 2 cents? – Lucy Silag

This has happened several times in the last several months. When evaluating covers, I use the following criteria as my first line of communicating my hesitation on a design.

  • Does the author’s name appear clear and strong? Sometimes the title or other features can overshadow the author’s name on a cover. I’m always sensitive to making sure we build the author’s brand and the name is showcased prominently.
  • Does the cover incorporate a color palette that will resonate with the audience appropriately? For example, business books often use black, red, or blue. Girl books for younger audiences typically incorporate purples, pink, or yellow. Of course, covers can certainly veer from these conventions, but many years of research and theory have gone into selecting colors that work. One of my authors Elizabeth Harper has taught me a lot about colors and how they are received.
  • Does the cover show up well in a thumbnail size? There are often wonderful fonts and illustrations that work well in the print version but get lost in the ebook format. These days many consumers will first discover a book online, so it’s important that the title and author’s name are readily visible.
  •  Does the cover speak to the core demographic? There might be confusion as to whether the book is for women,  millennials, academics, etc. The cover needs to strike a chord with the target audience.

I’ve been in the business for 20 years, so I’ve seen my share of ‘ugly’ covers. Aesthetics are very subjective, so I tend to table my commentary unless I have something clear and focused that speak to the questions I’ve mentioned  above. If it’s just a matter of taste, I will certainly tell my author, but I will often acquiesce to the author and editor if they are in sync. Continue reading

Share Button

Ask a Literary Agent: Mary C. Moore Answers Your Questions!

Posted by May 13th, 2015

Ask a Literary Agent: Mary C. Moore Answers Your Questions!Please welcome literary agent Mary C. Moore to our latest round of Ask a Literary Agent! Mary is a Bay Area-based agent at Kimberley Cameron & Associates who loves representing authors who write unusual fantasy, grounded science fiction, and strong female characters.

***

When reading a query letter for a work of fiction (esp. fantasy/sci-fi), I know that having both strong characters and a strong plot are important. But which will make you more likely to keep reading and why? – Vanessa Silva

For me personally, the opening scene has to have forward-moving action. If an author spends a lot of time giving back story, they lose my interest. I want to feel like I jumped in the car with you and we took off for an adventure. This doesn’t mean the action has to be “high-stakes exciting” per se, it just has to have momentum. Continue reading

Share Button

Member Spotlight: Meet Speculative Fiction Writer Gloria Oliver

Posted by April 7th, 2015

Member Spotlight: Meet Speculative Fiction Writer Gloria OliverWe’re happy to have Book Country member Gloria Oliver with us today! Gloria is currently workshopping INNER DEMONS, an urban fantasy novel. INNER DEMONS is one of April’s Editor’s Picks on Book Country. INNER DEMONS was published by Mundania Press in early 2014. Gloria shares what it means to be a speculative fiction writer and tips on choosing the perfect title.

***

Lucy Silag: Tell us more about yourself. How did you become a writer, and how did you find your way to Book Country?

Gloria Oliver: As I kid, I always had a hard time falling asleep. This led me to making up stories in my head to entertain myself until slumber finally came. One day, one of these stories kept bugging me to actually put it on paper – so I did. A few years later, the bug bit me again as I got a neat idea for a fantasy novel, and this time the infection set in deep. I’ve not looked back since.

I heard about Book Country back when it was being put together. The day job at the time had slow days here and there, and I’d found out about an evil Outlook add-on that would convert Twitter items to email and put them into a personal folder. This was just around the time social media was catching on big time, and I followed people like Kristen Lamb, Chuck Wendig, and many other writers and publishers. Through them, I learned of Colleen Lindsay from Penguin and followed her as well. And soon after Colleen started talking about a venture she was very excited about – a “Sekret Projekt” she was involved in, one where she and her peers hoped to create a place where authors could meet, share, help each other, and create a long lasting community.

Colleen even did a ‘reveal’ presentation in Dallas during the DFW Writers Conference back in 2011. The goals and concept of Book Country sounded fascinating and well thought out, so I signed up! Continue reading

Share Button

“Everything is hard except for the story.” Interview with SUEDE TO REST Author Diane Vallere

Posted by February 18th, 2015

Interview with SUEDE TO REST Author Diane Vallere

I had a great time reading Diane Vallere’s SUEDE TO REST, the first book in the Material Witness Mystery series! Published by Berkley Books, SUEDE TO REST takes you to the accident-prone life of Poly Monroe as she discovers the truth behind the murder of her great aunt in her family’s textile store. SUEDE TO REST has recently been nominated for the 2015 Left Coast Crime Award for best humorous mystery novel. In this Q&A, Diane reveals what inspired her to write SUEDE TO REST and shares her advice to aspiring writers.

***

Janet Umenta: You’ve worked in the fashion industry for twenty years. What was it like writing during that time?

Diane Vallere: I don’t love flying. My job as a buyer took me to some fabulous places, but there was pretty much only one way to get there. I would take my laptop and write as soon as we were allowed to use electronic devices. My first book was mostly written on flights to and from NY. Even today when I fly to a conference, I look forward to that time as solid, uninterrupted writing time.

After I moved from buying to sales, I wrote on my lunch break. I kept a table in the stockroom, sandwiched between back stock and dismembered mannequins! It was good training for being able to write on command. Continue reading

Share Button

“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

***

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

Share Button