WEbooker of the WEek Rides the Rails

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Picture this: The United States is in the midst of an economic depression. The stock market has crumbled. Banks have failed. Thousands of Americans are out of work. Some of the more adventurous unemployed hop freight trains and set out across the country, willing to work in exchange for food and shelter.

The year isn't 1931. It's 2009, and hobos are alive and well. This WEek's WEbooker, Shoestring, calls himself a "professional hobo." He's also a thoroughly modern hobo -- in between stints of riding the rails, he fires up his wi-fi and logs onto WEbook to share his story in Life and Times of a Professional Hobo.

To learn everything there is to know about being a 21st Century hobo, check out Shoestring's project. To get answers to your random, burning questions, read on.

Shoestring
Q: In your WEbook profile and projects, you talk in some detail about your
life as a hobo. For those who haven't stumbled across your WEbook work
yet, can you tell us what a hobo is, and how you came to be one? In
particular, what does it mean to be a "professional" hobo? (As opposed,
I suppose, to an amateur hobo?) 

A: For me, it took a lot of mistakes, like getting
on the wrong trains that would take me to the wrong towns!  I had to
have this happen to me hundreds of times before I finally got
all the railroads in North America by heart!  I'm now a
"professional hobo" because I very seldom hop a train that takes
me somewhere I don't want to go!  (If I do, it's because I slept through
where I was supposed to get off and not because I got on the wrong
train.) I became a professional hobo around 1998. It
took me roughly ten years of hopping freight trains to learn all the
routes. Now I am a walking railroad map!

Anybody can
hop a freight train. You are not a true hobo until you manage to
make your way all across the country without a map or without getting
caught by the bull (railroad police).  I have not been caught by the
bull in so many years now. I truly am a professional hobo now,
having ridden well over 325,000 miles of steel since 1989.

Q: I looked up "hobo" on
Wikipedia and found a bunch of interesting theories about the origin of
the word. (My favorite is that it's a greeting -- "Ho, beau!") Do you
have your own idea about where the word may have come from?


A: Long ago, train travelers carried a hoe with them on their quest
for farming work.  They placed a rag over the metal part of the hoe to
keep it dry and from rusting is why you see photos of hoboes with a
stick and a baglike thing tied to the end!  (This is my favorite and
this seems to me to be the most logical explaination for the word
"hobo").

Q: When did you first start writing? What are your personal goals for your writing?

A: I
first started writing I believe in September of 2008.  I have a
personal goal to make my writings as clear as can be for all to read
and be able to understand!  Although I just started writing, I have
been told countless times that I needed to write a book about my hobo
experiences. Everyone from the police of the railroads to my family to people
who work on the railroad has told me to get to work on a hobo
travel book! 

Q: How does a professional hobo get access to the internet?

A: I get internet
access at libraries and also in the more expensive motels -- they
usually have a computer in the lobby for guest use, so I can hide my
backpack and just walk into the lobby and do a quick check of my email or
the weather or CNN.

Q: 
A lot of people probably think of rail-riding hobos as a relic of the
Great Depression. Now that we're in another serious economic downturn,
do you think you'll have more company on the freight trains? If so, how
do you feel about that?

A: Now that times are getting harder
for most people, I have seen a slight increase in the volume of
rail riders.  Most are younger -- ones who dropped out of school
mostly!  Most are between the ages of 18 and 22.  I would rather not
see these type kids out on the rails because they have no standards of
value!  They will steal from you, rob you blind, and they have no
loyalty as well!  The older generation of 'bo's are very loyal!  We all
set strict standards, like being honest with each other, being able to
leave your belongings with another hobo while you go into town for
supplies so you don't have to carry your things with you, never lying
to one another about anything, and trusting and loving one another.

Q: What is your least favorite emotion? What makes you feel it, and how do you deal with it?

A: My least favorite emotion is sorrow. I feel it all the time. I am
always alone, and have nobody to talk to. So finally when I do run
across a person that shows me any interest, I try my hardest to please
them so they will accept me.

Q: What is your favorite word?

A: My favorite word is "drizzle."  It just sounds neat and has to do with meteorology, too!

Q: What is your favorite WEbook project not authored by you?

A: My favorite
WEbook project is The Beyond. It's about life after death. I
contributed an article to it called "What did I come from and when?"

WEbooker
of the WEek




Do you
have a line on the wonderfullest writer on WEbook?
The fantastickest feedbacker? Or anyone else who goes above and beyond to make WEbook the best writing, reading, and
publishing community on the internet? Drop me an email, or visit my profile and send me a
message with the title "WEbooker
of the WEek
" to nominate your favorite WEbooker and he or she will
have a shot at joining the ranks of the immortals -- and getting a free WEbook T-shirt to boot.



Join WEbook Today



Sign up for WEbook today and
start reading, writing, and feedbacking.



-- Melissa



WEbooker of the WEek is “Waiting for the Mailman” (and Your Vote!)







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Since we’re now
two whole days into the submission period for the Spring Vote, I decided that
the WEbooker of the WEek absolutely had to be someone entering their project in
the vote. And though I found a very worthy WEbooker to
spotlight—FaithAnneLove—I had no idea how many I’d have to choose from (as of
this morning , there are already 180 project submitted!).









FaithAnneLove’s novel, Waiting for the Mailman, is a story that actually started out as a poem or, er, turned into a poem on its way to something else. “It really began
with an image: a lonely old woman waiting for something,” she explains. “Then
it developed into an image of her waiting for a letter.”



From whom, you
ask? A lost love? A missing family member? Hint: Yes, a family member. But who? A
father, a daughter? (If you want to know more you’re going to have to check out
the project…and maybe even give it your vote!)




After catching up
with
FaithAnneLove about Waiting for the Mailman, we got to the
meat-and-potatoes stuff, i.e. our usual bevy of hard-hitting, nowhere-to-hide
questions:





1) What is the
most memorable thing you did over the weekend?
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It all started
out as taking a nap with my two-year-old daughter who was sick, but then my
husband came in to lay down with us. He turned on the TV because he wanted to
watch NASCAR, but muted it out of courtesy to us. Five minutes later, my seven-year-old daughter, who was overtired from spending the night at her cousin's
house, came into the room and asked to lay with us. It was all so cute and we
all did end up napping...but we only have a twin bed!





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2) If you become
a rich and famous writer, what will you do to continue 
helping aspiring
writers?



The same thing I
do now: give feedback on WEbook, and lots of it!





3) What word do
you overuse most in your writing (but just can't stop because you love it)?



I don't really
think I do that though for some reason there are a few phrases I love to use in
poetry: decadence descending and rosebud awaken.





4) Who do you
want to win March Madness (AKA the NCAA basketball Tourney)?



Umm...I like
high school and pro ball; I don't pay too much attention to college basketball. Go my hometown! Go Miami Heat!





About the Vote





If you’re
planning to enter your project in the vote, but aren’t quite ready, there’s
still time. The submission period began yesterday and doesn’t end until
midnight on April 5th. At which point, all the projects entered will
be locked and voting will begin on April 6th, ending at midnight on
April 19th.





WEbooker of the WEek

Do you have a line on the wonderfullest writer on WEbook? The fantastickest feedbacker? Or anyone else who goes above and beyond to make WEbook the best writing, reading, and publishing community on the internet? Drop me an email, or visit my profile and send me a message with the title "WEbooker of the WEek" to nominate your favorite WEbooker and he or she will have a shot at joining the ranks of the immortals—and getting a free WEbook T-shirt to boot.

Join WEbook Today

Sign up for WEbook today and start reading, writing, and feedbacking!

-JohnnyWEbook



WEbook's Melissa is back!

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Remember me? I'm Melissa, WEbook's content manager and resident blogger. I've been on maternity leave for exactly seven weeks -- and now I'm back! With baby WEbooker Ruby strapped to my chest, I'll be writing blog entries, scouting great WEbookers and WEbook projects, and keeping an eye on WEbook activity once again. To those of you who sent me messages in the past seven weeks, I send my apologies. I will be sorting through my mailbox in the days to come, and I'm looking forward to getting back in the swing of things.

As always, feel free to visit my profile and send me a message if you'd like to nominate a great person or project to be featured in the blog -- or if you'd just like to say hello.

Join WEbook Today

Sign up for WEbook today and start reading, writing, and feedbacking!

-- Melissa



WEbooker of the WEek is Feedback Aficionado

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ZanneP takes her status as a Top Reviewer seriously. One of her projects—How to Get Feedback—is a step-by-step guide to the art of making WEbook work for you. In the introduction, she talks about the golden rule of feedback on WEbook—you’ve got to give to get—and how it didn’t quite work out for her at first. “To say I was disappointed with the outcome is a little bit of an understatement. I felt I had to wait a very long time before anybody looked at my work.”

She ultimately preserved by being patient—and persistent. But the experience had a profound effect. “I wanted to give a boost to the idea of feedback generating feedback. I also wanted to make sure that people value the reasons behind giving feedback, and why it is useful to the reviewer as well as—if not more than—the reviewed.” The latter idea is an “Aha!” moment for many a budding writer. After all, there is much to learn about your own writing when trying to help someone else improve theirs.

WEbook caught up with ZanneP and then proceeded to throw her a couple curveballs disguised as questions:

1) If you could give any non-writer in the world some feedback on their “work,” who would it be and what would you say?
ZanneP
I thought you said these questions were simple? Non writer—gosh—that’s hard. Ummm–I’d love to be 
able to give feedback to politicians but I don’t really believe I would be any better than the present incumbents—without knowing all the facts, budgets etc. I’m actually amazed anything ever gets done to be honest with all the opposition they get. Right, I’m going to choose Liverpool Football Club manager Rafael Benitez. I would say that he has done a brilliant job so far this season, but he’s tailing off and needs to stay focused. All this talk about whether he’s leaving or not is upsetting the fans as well as the players, so stay—Liverpool FC needs you!!! Oh, and good luck in their match against Real Madrid.

2) When was the last time you said yes to something you didn’t want to do and what was it?
I never say yes to anything I don’t want to do.

3) If you could only eat and/or drink one thing while you write, what would it be and why?
Definitely coffee—because it’s strong, hot and black...

4) What was the last new word you learned and how did you use it in a sentence?
Hmmm—this is going to sound silly, but in a forum here on WEbook the word ‘douche’ was mentioned. I knew it meant ‘shower’ in French, but I did realize there was another meaning, although it eluded me. I used it in a sentence by writing: “I think my favorite word is ‘douche’ right now."

Or something like that.

5) What five pieces of advice would you give to someone new on WEbook?

Well, most people seem to want feedback so I would say:
1. Read my project How to Get Feedback
2. Read WEbook's Guide to Feedback
3. Read the forum headings carefully before posting any threads—particularly when requesting feedback and make sure you post in the correct place
4. Don’t post the same message in every forum just to get feedback
5. Have fun!

WEbooker of the WEek

Do you have a line on the wonderfullest writer on WEbook? The fantastickest feedbacker? Or anyone else who goes above and beyond to make WEbook the best writing, reading, and publishing community on the internet? Drop me an email, or visit my profile and send me a message with the title "WEbooker of the WEek" to nominate your favorite WEbooker and he or she will have a shot at joining the ranks of the immortals—and getting a free WEbook T-shirt to boot.

Join WEbook Today

Sign up for WEbook today and start reading, writing, and feedbacking!

-JohnnyWEbook



The WEbook Spring Vote is Fast Approaching!

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On March 23rd—the first Monday of Spring—the submission period for the next WEbook Vote begins. If you plan to submit your project, now is the time for that last read or final polish. The submission period will last for two weeks—from March 23 to April 5—so don’t fret; there’s still time to get everything just right before the vote begins.

How do you know if your project is ready? At the very least, it must contain five entries (chapters for novels and memoirs; poems or essays for non-fiction projects). Don’t have a project you want to submit? Then encourage a WEbooker whose writing has left you in awe to enter their project.

The voting officially begins on April 6th and lasts for two weeks, ending on April 20th. We’ll do our best to spotlight projects of interest throughout the vote, so don’t hesitate to drop me a note if you think a fellow WEbooker's project is worthy.

Thanks, happy voting, and who knows—maybe your project will be the next published WEbook!

Checkout the winners from Vote 1 and Vote 2.

For more information about voting and publication at WEbook, please visit our FAQ.

Join WEbook today.

Sign up for WEbook today and share your story.

--JohnnyWEbook



Don’t Mess with this WEbooker of the WEek

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As a young man, CallumC once chased off a group of vandals with an empty rifle. This was somewhere in between enlisting in the British merchant navy at age 16 and working his way through Europe, Australia and the U.S. as everything from a waiter to a farmhand on a sugar plantation to mustering cattle in the Australian outback.

To say that CallumC probably has some stories to tell now that he’s retired would be an understatement. He does of course, including two novels on WEbook. Right Hand Up to God is the tale of a daughter who promises her dying mother that she will raise her newborn brother. The other, Princess Sheeba, is the humorous story of a young dingo finding its way in the world.

WEbook caught up with CallumC to talk about his writing, his short but prolific tenure on WEbook, and the easy life of retirement.

1) You joined WEbook only last November and have already given and received tons of feedback and contributed to a large number of projects. How do you stay so motivated?

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Being retired helps. WeBook helps me to focus my time. Giving feedback other than ‘Nice Job’ can be quite demanding, and sometimes requires a delicate touch of diplomacy. I also try to respond to all feedback gratefully received on my own work, and of course, reciprocate. Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

2) The projects your leading right now—Right Hand up to God, A Glimpse at the Past and Princess Sheeba—seem very different. Mentally, how do you shift gears when moving from one project to the next?
When one writes a novel, or even a short story it becomes part of you. It’s like part of your soul, like having different prayers for different occasions.  Like a priest may have a death, a baptism, and a wedding all in the same day. As he is called, so shall he respond?

3) What was your most profound moment on WEbook?

I think when I uploaded my first novel Right Hand Up To God and waiting for the first responses, and yes, relief when that first review was favorable. A lot of firsts here, but then there are a lot of firsts on WEbook.

4) What’s your favorite day of the week and why?
I don’t have one; being retired they are all much the same. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great not to have to clock on every morning. I have my partner; my greatest fan, my dogs, Sheeba and Tara. Sheeba

was the inspiration behind my second novel Princess Sheeba, and my writing more than fills in the blanks.

WEbooker of the WEek

Do you have a line on the wonderfullest writer on WEbook? The fantastickest feedbacker? Or anyone else who goes above and beyond to make WEbook the best writing, reading, and publishing community on the internet? Drop me an email, or visit my profile and send me a message with the title "WEbooker of the WEek" to nominate your favorite WEbooker and he or she will have a shot at joining the ranks of the immortals -- and getting a free WEbook T-shirt to boot.

Join WEbook Today

Sign up for WEbook today and start reading, writing, and feedbacking!

-JohnnyWEbook



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