Taking the “Read & Review” Plunge on Book Country

Posted by July 12th, 2013

My first couple of weeks at Book Country can be defined in one word: NEW. New faces (meeting all the people who work so hard to make Book Country the best writing and publishing community on the web), new vocabulary (“back-end,” “interface,” “populate,” are becoming things I regularly—and proudly!—say all the time now), and new chances to connect with writers from all over the world.

As you may have seen, I’ve been treading into the discussion boards since I started as the Book Country Community and Engagement Manager. There is such a huge variety of conversations on Book Country, and they all have to do with my very favorite things: 1) Books I love and 2) How to be a better writer, one well-placed word at a time. Where else but on Book Country can you expect to see a thread having a high-level debate about the meaning of the word “humanity” (especially as it relates to The Walking Dead) just above a thread about which romance books have the best sex scenes?  These are just the kind of debates I like! And it is still super exciting when a member responds to my posts. (I have a feeling that thrill is not going to go away.)

This week I took the plunge into Book Country’s “Read & Review” section.  I really love Book Country’s 1:1 feedback rule: before you can upload your writing, you have to read and review another member’s work. Both acts take a certain amount of bravery. It can be scary to put your writing into the world. And to give the kind of feedback a writer really needs for revision—detailed, specific, forthright, and critical—is a delicate matter. I took a deep breath and dove right in.

THE CASQUETTE GIRLS by Alys Arden on Book CountryThe first book I read and reviewed on Book Country was three chapters of Alys Arden’s THE CASQUETTE GIRLS. I found it via the Genre Map—I was looking for a YA title because that is one of my absolute favorite genres, and because I write some YA myself, I think it’s always a good learning experience to see how another writer works. THE CASQUETTE GIRLS is a fantastic excerpt. I was so excited to get started. My favorite part of the “Read & Review” technology on Book Country is that you can highlight specific passages in the text to make notes on them. Alys had wonderful word choices in her prose—a BMW “purrs” down the highway, for example, and a lovely line about “an overwhelming need for reverence”—and she is a natural at evoking a sense of place and moving the story along at a quick, readable pace. THE CASQUETTE GIRLS was a wonderful book to introduce me to  Book Country’s talented writers. I got into the swing of things right away. Check out THE CASQUETTE GIRLS to read and review, and see what you think of my feedback

Once I posted my review for THE CASQUETTE GIRLS, I got to upload my own writing for the first time. I chose a travel essay that I wrote about 18 months ago. I adore travel writing, and I’m always trying to figure out that je ne sais quoi of what makes a travelogue stand out. Travel is one of the new non-fiction literary categories that we have on Book Country, and I am so excited to meet other fellow travel writers and read about their adventures. The essay I posted is called “A Reluctant Defense of the Competitive Travel Checklist” (ugh, I am already cringing at my own title—a new title for the piece is the first thing I need help on!) and I would love to see what you think. Don’t be afraid to give me your most honest feedback. I want to learn from the community and, like you, make my work the best that it can be.

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