Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Have you read the latest WEbook Newsletter?

We have recently revived the WEbook Newsletter and will be sending out an update on WEbook to our members on a monthly basis... We have however been notified by some of our members that they noticed our newsletter had landed in their junk mail!! We've decided to post our newsletter here on the blog too so that those of you who missed out on the newsletter the first time around, also have the opportunity to enter our brilliant competition and submit your book for publication!

WEbook Newsletter - August 2014
Book of the Month

  Jeff Barr





Name: Jeff Barr
Penname: jgbarr

Author Bio: Jeff Barr is a dark fiction writer from the Pacific Northwest. His work has appeared in Shotgun Honey, Encounters Magazine, and Black Treacle. WEbook has recently published his book, The Skunge! Jeff has been a member of WEbook since 2009 and has completed over 500 PageToFame ratings – wow!
About ‘The Skunge’: In the heartlands of America, a desperate young man commits the ultimate sin and unleashes an insidious, creeping evil. A world away, a young girl with hideous secrets sells her flesh for money and power. A man with no name will bring them together, and the world will discover that the wages of sin are... The Skunge.


The Skunge

August, 2014
Dear WEbook, 

Welcome to the first edition of the new WEbook newsletter!

Each month we will be sending out a newsletter to members, just like this one, to update you on what’s been happening on WEbook. This will include features such as current and future developments to the site, including the upcoming publication of new WEbooks. We'll also be highlighting member contributions to the site – because, really you are the most important part of WEbook!

Over the last twelve months, WEbook has come a long way! Our new team of dedicated staff has given the site an entirely new look and, more recently, we’ve released our new mobile version of the site. WEbook's new mobile site was designed in response to the overwhelming demand for a fully functional and easy to use platform for our members to stay in touch with the community whilst on the move. We always love to hear feedback on how we're doing, so let us know what you think - perhaps a WEbook app?!

The biggest change on the site has been that we've become a publisher! So far we’ve published eight fantastic WEbooks, written by members right here on the site. Currently we're on the lookout for new and exciting books written by WEbook members, which we can work, with the community, to turn into the next WEbooks - for more info on how we're choosing the next WEbooks, read down to the bottom of this newsletter.

We’re sure you will all have noticed in recent months that WEbook has been buzzing with activity! Wow, you guys really have been working hard!

Thanks to everyone who has been putting in the time to make WEbook what it is (that’s you!) – keep up the good work and who knows, maybe you could find yourself featured in the next WEbook newsletter!
 The WEbook Team
Should we create a WEbook App?
 Yes please! I write all my WEbooks on my phone anyway.
  No thank you. My 1984 IBM DOS computer is sophisticated enough as it is...
  I'm not sure. What's an "App" again?
Poll Maker
Member of the Month


Sprayoncrayon


Each month, the team at WEbook select a member who has made a significant, all round contribution to the site. This is judged on submissions, forum posts and feedback given to other authors. 
Congratulations to Sprayoncrayon who, among other notable contributions, has in this week alone given a whopping 67 pieces of feedback!

Sprayoncrayon
WEbook News

There’s always lots going on behind the scenes at WEbook and here is where you can find out all the juicy details about what we’re working on…

Spin by Nyree Wade, or NJ_Wade as you might know her, has been working on her book, Spin, for a while now – it’s an exciting Sci-Fi YA novel and we’re working closely with her to get it published as a WEbook. Nyree has been making good progress with the first final draft of her MS, and we hope to get to the final editorial stage in a month or so!

Forecast Today, Mostly Deadly, is an action-packed thriller written by the author of the brilliant WEbook, Dasvidaniya Rodina. We’ve just sent the MS off for a final proofread and we’re working with D.S.Loren on a new cover for the book as we write!

WEbook News
PageToFame, is still being worked on – we’ve been taking ages, we know, but we want to get it just right before we put it live, so watch this space!

Crowd-funding – we’re working on a really exciting crowd-funding module which will allow members to raise money to go towards publishing or pre-selling their books - how great is that?
Monthly Ebook Giveaway

Each month we’re going to give away five copies of our featured title to five lucky winners. All you have to do is answer the question below and email your answers to info@webook.com before midnight, August 31st - good luck!
Q: In Camp 417, by Finnean Nilsen Projects, what is the name that the authors give to their zombie creations?
Project Spotlight

There are over sixty eight thousand active projects on WEbook, with hundreds more being added each week. In order to bring some of the best of those to the attention of the community, we will be highlighting our favourites each month: 

Although this is a relatively new project, we’re very excited by where this story is headed
(and a little freaked out as well!)

A beautiful narrative focusing on the pain of loss and how people deal with it differently…

Have you ever wondered how you become a WEbook author?
 Well we're currently on the hunt to find our next WEbook authors! If you think you've got what it takes to become our next author and you've also got a finished manuscript to boot, we'd like to hear from you. In order to be considered for publication, you'll need to have been an active WEbook member for at least 6 months; have a completed manuscript; and have the support of at least five other WEbook members.
If you think you're what we're looking for, send a query letter telling us about your book and why you think we should publish you, to info@webook.com!
Good luck!
WEbook Titles

We’ve got some fantastic titles available in the WEbook store – we’ve recently updated each of the listings with free, downloadable previews, so that you can try before you buy! Below is a selection of our titles – follow the links to download a free preview or buy yourself an electronic or even a printed version...

  Lifelights   Broken              Camp 417  The Shadow Spy   

To claim a 10% discount off your basket in the WEbook Store enter code: DISCOUNTAUG

 All of our WEbook titles are available to purchase on our WEbook store and from other online retailers.

Want to know more about what's happening on WEbook?
Find us on Facebook 
Send us a message on Twitter 
Get some great inside info on our Blog
  Unsubscribe here

Friday, 1 August 2014

An interview with our June Challenge Winner and WEbook Author, Alina Voyce aka Sue Grainger!

Taste

This June we set you a rather tricky challenge! We asked you to write us a story which omitted the senses of sight and sound - two of the most commonly used sensory descriptions. Many of our WEbookers found this a bit tricky, but it did nevertheless produce some beautiful results - which is, after all, what we're after. With the focus resting on what we feel emotionally, what we touch, taste and smell, a whole new view on the world was opened up...

 

Touch

The brief was interpreted in many different ways, and out of our six winning entries, no two followed a similar strain. The focus on the emotional really let people delve into their inner feelings and exploit these for the benefit of their characterisation. 



Well done to everyone who entered!

Our stand out winner, Sue Grainger, is also one of our wonderful WEbook authors! Her book, Lifelights, is written with the same beautiful descriptions and emotional observations that you have seen her craft in, 'A Friend Like No Other'
We sat down with Sue (virtually) and had a chat about how she approached the challenge, and how she was able to craft such a wonderful, winning entry...


Feel
***


WEbook: Congratulations on winning the June challenge! Your entry, 'A Friend Like No Other', was written from the perspective of a deaf-blind woman, did you find writing from this perspective challenging?

Smell
Sue Grainger: Very much so. Sight and sound are an integral part of how most of us live. So taking that away, and experiencing the world around us without them, is always going to be hard.  There were several points when I had to just sit, with my eyes closed, and try to recall all the details that I could use to describe an action clearly—like the feel of a seat belt, movement, and the texture and smell of different foods. The details were all there in my head, but it took a while to pull them forward.

WB: I think we are very used to using words and sight to communicate to interact with other people, WEbook were very impressed with the way in which you were able to create such feeling and interaction between your characters without the use of verbal communication. Do you feel that the way in which they express their feelings makes their relationship more intense? 

SG: Absolutely!  In a way, I think that sight and sound are the ‘easy’ senses. Taste, touch and smell add depth to our life experiences, so a relationship where these are in control and physical contact is a necessary part of daily life—for simple things, like making a person aware of something new in their environment, right through to showing strong emotion (a passion-filled glance isn’t going to be much good!) is bound to be more intense. 


It’s not a one-sided experience either. Men like to feel valued as much as women do, and in this story the trust that’s essential in any relationship becomes an even bigger necessity. Jake will have to focus on his partner’s needs more than most men but, at the same time, he’s found someone who won’t judge him on his looks or whether his clothes are the latest fashion; she won’t hate his taste in music, be disapproving if he shouts obscenities at the TV whilst watching sport, find his laugh annoying or complain if he snores. She’ll always have a sense of what really matters. She’ll love him, and appreciate his efforts without any of the usual visual/sound ‘markers’ - and that’s going to strengthen/deepen the relationship for both of them.

WB: By removing the sight and sounds from the story you clearly show how deep human feeling can be, do you find when you write you use your own experiences to help to convey those deep emotions?

SG: Without a doubt.  I always use my own experiences in my writing, and don’t mind admitting that.  I’ve heard writers say that you shouldn’t put ‘yourself’ into your work, but I honestly don’t see how that’s possible. How do you write about an emotion (with any conviction) if you’ve never felt it for yourself or at least a variation of it?  Yes, it’s possible to put yourself into the shoes of a character who’s going through something you’ve never experienced, so you have to guess what their response would be… but the actual emotion needs to be something that’s touched you personally at some point, otherwise you haven’t a hope of describing it.

There’s a well-known pearl of authorly wisdom: ‘Write what you know’ – and that’s the best bit of advice any author could hope for if they want their writing to have depth.

WB: You can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of joy from your story, but at the same time, do you think this is mixed with a sense of sadness? 

SG: It depends on how you interpret the story.  When the female protagonist wonders about how other people see the world, she’s actually showing a keen interest in how they live their lives and feel about certain things, which is something writers spend a lot of time wondering about, especially when creating new characters. Perhaps she is sad that there are some things she’ll never experience for herself, but there’s more to it than that. I wanted the reader to realise that, even without vision and hearing, she’s found other ways to be happy, and other ways to enrich her life.  How many people, when watching the view from an open car window, would also spend time appreciating the smell of the air, or the sensation of the wind tugging at our hair?

This character isn’t someone to be pitied – she’s someone to be admired. 

WB: Finally, do your characters live happily ever after? 

SG: Of course they do!  In fact, they grow so close, even though they’re very different, that their relationship becomes almost symbiotic… They get married, have kids and grow old together and, through it all, they’re true partners. 


***

Thanks to everyone who entered the Challenge, submissions for the July Challenge, 'How it feels to be feee', have now closed - but the August Steampunk Challenge has opened today. To enter head on over to the Challenge page and see if your entry will be enough to crown you our next winner!

- The WEbook Team

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Winner of the May Challenge, Caitlin Easter, chats to us about her brilliant winning entry, Blue Sky!

This May we set the WEbook community a slightly different challenge... we asked you to develop a story based on an image. But while this may seem like an easy ask, we decided to make it a little trickier by asking you to do this without utilising the obvious connotations that you would usually associate with the style of image we supplied as a writing prompt.

We wanted you to think outside the... um, door... so to speak...

KERPOW!
As usual, no matter how hard we try to test your writing prowess and flummox you into pushing the limits of your usual writing comfort zones, you all still manage to wow us with a wide variety of brilliant entries that our judges were battling over picking our final six. 

However, having said that... we had no battle over the winner! Caitlin Easter's, Blue Skywas picked unanimously for it's brilliance as a stand alone piece and also because, man, were we desperate to read more! Hint, hint Caitlin...

As per our usual monthly routine, we sat down with Caitlin and had a chat with her about her winning entry, how she came up with the idea and some other titbits.

So, without further ado... 

WEbook: First of all, congratulations Caitlin on being crowned as the winner of our May Challenge! Could you tell us a bit about your winning entry, Blue Sky.

Caitlin Easter: Blue Sky is an ancient history prequel to my ongoing book series, The Ark of Traeadon, which takes place in our far future. Fae and the Faerinnian (’fer-än-ēən) race have played an important role in my work for more than twenty years. This glimpse of ancient Fae was conceived entirely for this challenge and it was a very satisfying giant leap back in time. 

 WB: When writing, where do you draw inspiration from to develop such a rich narrative?

The door to the soul...
CE: My narrative is primarily inspired by my character’s perspective. Rather than beginning with where the story is placed, I focus on who is there and why. I find that environs become most tangible as fully experienced through an intricate personality. My process involves being a character ‘medium’. I become them, one and all, internalizing who they are at that moment and then I decide how they fit in, what they will do and reveal. I interpret what they see, hear, smell, taste, feel and intuit. Their distinctive personalities have insights that insist I enlist suitably unique language. I don’t expect a reader to necessarily care what some high-rise hallway looks like, so my goal is always to first engage some emotional interest. I try to marry anything that I find tedious with a suffusion of attitude. From there I build the physical environment. It is very often peppered in later when found ‘missing’—wait, where are we?  

WB: Your story refers to hierarchy and governing bodies, was it your intention to question power and dominance through the character Tineka who challenges the Councillor?

CE: I took this story a bit further (3,000+ words) before realizing the can of worms it truly is. I might write the book, but after my current ongoing arc-line is finished. The limited continuation did reveal quite a bit more of these characters and their relationship. The short version seriously required imaginative extrapolation. 

Rather than wax overboard here about this race, I’ll speak directly to the question: Nope. 

And now to the relationship: 

Tineka is a model exception in a crowd of faereys. This is why Atlan expects a lot and must be mindful of tolerance; her emotional ‘failings’ are quite normal. Tineka has an intelligent, independent streak, but is not rebellious. Actually, she is soon to graduate with honors from the Diplomatic Corps (mentored for early admission by the Orrend himself, as favor to her father, his distant cousin).  The challenging and/or disgruntled tone of this relationship is instead mildly playful.

The stoicism that is adopted as the respectable norm for an elder is a behavior, and so does not necessarily authentically represent an elder’s emotional state. The tradition of the Kron (stoicism) is employed to learn control over the emotional upheaval that accompanies the physical change to elder.  Most have no trouble regaining a moderate degree of most emotions, though they are usually exhibited privately. Tineka has no intention of parading the stoic show that she deems farcical. There is a bit of arrogance in that, sure, but she highly respects the Orrend. Her teasing with willful spark comes from a hopeful place. She simply wishes to encourage his hidden levity.

Typical faereys are dynamically emotional and willfully fickle. They are curious little people and mischief often follows, but there is not much cause for civil unrest. The faerey stage of life is, in a way, an extended mature childhood. They do not rebel against the elder hierarchy because it provides them with fair, socialist support and education. They are aware of the grander opportunities that will also be afforded them in elder-hood. At the time of this story, although Fae was once overseen by a monarch, the royal bloodline has no preeminent power. This council of thirteen is an executive ministry, elected to represent each of the bloodlines equitably.

Why, yes, I think that is some wax that got all over the board…

WB: The story uses powerful imagery of pollution, you mention the ‘acrid residue’ and the ‘putrid, greenish smog’ - what does the Smog represent?

CE: The first Faerinnian home world was over populated and rendered uninhabitable by waste and pollution. The space trekking survival mission of this advanced race was to find and colonize New Fae. Eventually, the colonists had been forced to settle for a star system with many passably sustainable orbs, none of which were optimal. They’d left ruin in search of another Eden, only to find similar greenhouse worlds. Now, for millennia they’ve been managing the gasses and mapping the heavens for a new mission.

Given the background, obviously, the smog portrays a grim irony of technological advancement that is not tempered with foresight for ecological responsibility. In the ‘short’ I hoped it would serve as a symbolic parallel for Earth, that it might remind our calling to be vigilant caretakers of our own precious ecology.  

WB: In life, I suppose it is fair to say, that we all have something that represents the Blue Sky in your story. What does the Blue Sky represent for you.

CE: Blue sky reminds me to be reverent.  On a cosmic scale, it represents intelligent life as one cog in natural alignment. We evolved into this intricate balance of nature, beneath this blue sky. I belong to the cycle with this precious life, right here, right now.

WB:  Can you give us a teaser as to the future of the portal - does it eventually vanish like previous portals you mention in the story?

CE: I can promise that it lasts long enough for Atlan of Orrend’s clandestine delegation (including Tineka, of course!) to strike a beneficial allegiance with one spiritually and technologically advanced society of ancient earth. The alliance educates both cultures in potentially transformative magnitude. They discover there is a time variance between the planes. Time always passes more slowly in Fae, though unfortunately with no predictable relativity—which does create some trouble for diplomatic race relations.

FINAL SPOILER: The portal itself will outlast its purpose. Tineka and her new friend, an eminent priestess, will study the force within the gateway threshold. They discover that the energy can be mimicked; it can be sourced from one’s own life-force. It can be used to manifest temporary travel portals for ‘curtaining’ with one’s spark at will—a valued talent that is still employed in the future!

Thank you, WEbook, for the interest and for rewarding me with my first-time-ever writing win! The invitation to talk in depth about my work is a rare and decadent indulgence. My motivation to publish has been fully recharged!

WB: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us Caitlin, we really enjoyed reading Blue Sky and look forwards to reading more of it as you post to your project page on WEbook! 

As ever, we would like to thank all of our members who took the time to enter the May Challenge, well done to you all on your fantastic entries. 

Don't forget that the July Challenge, How it Feels to be Free, is now open to submissions... 

The WEbook Team