Author John Corey Whaley: Back in NYC

Wherethingscomebacklogo


I recently returned to New York City to meet with my agent, editor, and the publicity director from Simon & Schuster. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss some of the many things that we can do, both locally and nationally, to get the word out about my book. As I continue to experience every aspect of being published by a large publishing house, I find myself a bit surprised at the kind and enthusiastic treatment I’ve received. I, like many writers, have often heard horror stories about big publishing houses ruining the lives, and works, of young debut authors.





But, I couldn’t be happier with my current situation. My editor seems to be able to read my mind, and I’ve been assigned an extremely enthusiastic team to head up the promotions for my book. But, what does any of that say about how successful my novel will ultimately be? On the one hand, having an enthusiastic, experienced team behind it helps tremendously. One of the reasons I decided to go back to New York over the Thanksgiving holiday was to meet with everyone face-to-face and make sure they know me and know how hard I’m willing to work to get the book out there. I knew immediately that this group of people genuinely care about the novel and will work hard to see it reach as much of an audience as possible.

On the other hand, the book business can be fickle. What’s popular today can be played-out tomorrow and I think this fact is even truer in the realm of young adult fiction. We did discuss the universal appeal of Where Things Come Back, citing several ways we could try and earn it the attention of adult readers as well as teenagers. Because it’s classified as Literary YA, it should be easier to promote as a novel that adults and kids alike will enjoy. As my original intention was not to write a YA novel, this is something that I find to be of great comfort. Our first mission, of course, is to generate some buzz over the novel at the first of the year from early reviewers and other authors.

Where Things Come Back
I also got to see, and take home, the actual book jacket for Where Things Come Back and, let me tell you, it is impressive.  As an added surprise, the uncoated stock it is printed on (a first for my publisher, Atheneum) actually mimics the texture of the wood grain background (see photo of cover). I also met the designer of the cover, whose enthusiasm for the novel was quite humbling. 

Everyone seems pretty excited about Where Things Come Back and traveling to New York for the second time this year has only further enhanced my impatience for the release date. May 3rd isn’t that far away, so I think I can manage to hold my breath a bit longer. 

Also-I’ve somehow managed to surpass the halfway mark on novel #2!

Happy Writing,

Corey



Corey Whaley hails from Shreveport, LA, where he teaches sixth grade english. He signed with Ken Wright, a literary agent at Writers House, last fall using WEbook's AgentInbox query service. His debut novel, Where Things Come Back, was purchased by Simon & Schuster early in 2010.



Read more about Corey's amazing story.


 


NaNoWriMo Day 30: Closing Comments

Shield-Nano-Blue-Brown-RGB-HiRes William Tiernan's excellent coverage of The National Novel Writing Month has, sadly, come to a close. If you haven't gotten a chance to read his month long journey, read through his previous posts to get a feel for the narrative arc, or so to speak. Be sure to leave your closing comments as well!



There are so many bits of NaNoWriMo advice to offer before starting this crazy process.  But now that you’ve reached, or are about to reach (I’ve got 876 words to write today) the finish line, here is one final NaNo “Do” and “Don’t” to consider:
 
Don’t, under any circumstance, use your NaNo as a pitch point in a query letter. As in …




Dear Agent,

Guess what? I did it. I really did it. I just finished my first NaNo! Yeeehaaw for me! High fives all around! 51,987 words, with 8,453 coming on the final day. What can I say, I finish strong. 
What’s that? Oh yeah, my book. Well, it’s hard to describe. It’s titled, A Political Romance: A NaNo Project. It’s a political thriller with a sleazy romance twist. But enough about plot. Let’s talk marketing platform. The fact that it’s a NaNo project will make my book jump off the shelf. Who wouldn’t want to read a novel that was produced in just 30 days? A NaNo is a true testament to the writer-at-work.  People will see it like the reality television of books. Plus, minimal editing for you and the publisher you sell it to; it’s supposed to be “rough,” right? Plus, the nature of the project will allow you and me to get on an annual plan. Rest assured, every December 1 you’re going to have my new NaNo in your Inbox.  Nothing like a little consistency in a turbulent profession.

Sincerely,

NaNo A. NaNo – NaNo Master
 
Do use your NaNo as a springboard

You’ve worked hard on your NaNo, but do remember it’s not a novel. At least not yet. Your NaNo will be best treated as a glorified outline, the draft before the draft before the first draft before second draft before the third draft before the final manuscript. It will be like J.K. Rowling’s napkin notes of Harry Potter; or the blueprints of the Eiffel Tower; or the bill that becomes a law; or Peter Parker before the spider bite; or the …

Okay, you get the point. For those who finished the journey, pat yourself on the back, tuck your NaNo away, and let the thing mini-hibernate. Break it out in a week and study it carefully.  Show it to a trusted colleague. Mine the nuggets. Pitch the garbage. Rewrite. Revise. Create a workable first draft. And so on and so on until your NaNo has evolved into a polished manuscript you can pitch with confidence. When you land that agent, the mania of NaNoWriMo will have been worth it.    

Thanks for following along this month. How many words did you end with? What’s your title? Genre? Tagline?
 
See you next year!

William
 

WilliamSTiernan William Scott Tiernan will happily respond to “William” or “Scott” or “Tsung Chi” — and he enjoyed being called “Mr. T” by his former middle school students. He doesn’t enjoy being called “Hey, you!” by his 3-year-old daughter. He may be 0-1 on NaNo, but he’s written for
YourTango, The Laurel of Asheville, Western North Carolina Parent, and of course, WEbook. He’s seeking representation for his YA novel, Dornoch Walking.


 


The Season of Stories

My Writing Life LogoI am ecstatic for the holidays. Not because I love giving or receiving gifts or the parties or even the slacked-off work schedule. (Okay, maybe the latter.) I heart the silly season for the drama. I can’t wait to hear about the person who dirty-danced with their boss at the holiday party. The uncle who went MIA on Christmas, but actually just got drunk and fell asleep under his bed. The family politics revved up for yet another holiday drag race. This is entertainment. This is fodder for future stories, a time to gather material for the long winter ahead.




Here’s my contribution. Feel free to add yours in the comments area below.

When I was 15, my family spent Christmas on Cape Cod. We’d just come off a harrowing year abroad and were split it up a bit—my oldest brother at college, another brother at boarding school on account of a wild streak, me at home with my mother while my father traveled too much for work. The holiday was something of a reunion. When we arrived at the house, we discovered a newly finished home that partially blocked our view of a pond. In particular there was a tree on the new home’s property that—should it disappear—would radically improve our vista. 

After dinner on Christmas Eve, I found my oldest brother and my father in the basement oiling up a chainsaw. They were both drinking beers. When I joined them I was handed a beer, which I immediately guzzled. Then another, which I also downed. Finally, my middle brother joined us. He too had a beer in his hand, not his first. Save my dad, none of us were of legal drinking age.

Outside, it had begun to snow. We marched out from the garage, a phalanx of the family men on the way to our neighbor’s yard to cut down his tree. The area was mostly vacation homes, which meant our neighbor was not around. Most of the surrounding houses were also dark. I remember walking past the kitchen window and seeing my mother cleaning dishes. She looked up, smiled and waved approvingly. Her three sons, each with beers in hand, and her husband who had a beer and a chainsaw, were heading into the dark snowy night to cut down a massive tree on someone else’s property. And she was cool with it.
 
There isn’t space here to finish the story, but the highlight was that the tree almost fell on me. But the truly harrowing part was getting rid of the body, so to speak. The tree was in a ravine and we had to cut it up and roll the massive logs up a hill, which quickly got slick and muddy. When we lost control of the larger logs they’d careen back down the hill towards where my father was cutting the tree into pieces. How no one got seriously hurt that night will forever be a mystery to me. We did, however, succeed. We had our view back.
 
As for the neighbor, well, he was never terribly friendly towards us after that.

This week’s question: Do you find the holidays a fertile time for stories? Care to share one?


JMHammock1 John Meils is currently finishing a first novel, tentatively titled The Warring House. He has written for Elle, Men’s Health, and MyTango.com, among others.



To learn more about him, visit johnmeils.com.


 


NaNoWriMo Day 24: Thanksgiving Week

Shield-Nano-Blue-Brown-RGB-HiRes At this point in NaNoWriMo I’m tempted to say that process is more important than product. That the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. That the hard work invested to reach the finish line is more important than actually crossing it. That 25.9 miles is the same as 26.2. That Thanksgiving week is a time to shelve NaNos for turkey and mash potatoes.   

Well, screw all that. If we’d signed up for 31,003 words of sparkling prose we would have, well, signed up for a writing class. Instead we chose the NaNo – a 50,000+ word hyper novel that promises to be so messy, mystifying, and grammatical and structurally challenged our own grandmothers won’t praise it. Good for us. Let’s finish this thing off. 




I’m giving NaNo thanks this Thanksgiving week. Two days off work; multiple family members in town, which means multiple babysitting options; and endless chicken salad sandwiches, yam casseroles, and my mother-in-law’s famous “Cherry Squares.” What’s not to like from a NaNo perspective?  Especially when you’ve got less than a week to go and you’re still behind in the word count.

One issue that’s held me back this past week is research. Almost every novel requires some level of research, and my NaNo is no exception. I’m trying to figure out if a kid can sue his parents for release of custody because they've made him obese. And if so, what the trial might look and sounds like. My Internet research and badgering of lawyer friends has yielded little expertise. And without expertise, I’ve been hesitant to write a few key legal scenes. Then I remembered The Most Important Rule in the History of Important NaNo Rules: Keep writing! So I plowed through the scenes as I imagined they would happen, and took comfort in the fact they could be authenticated at a later date. Like, December.

All of this leads to this week’s NaNo questions:

Does your NaNo require research? If so, how are you balancing research with writing?

  • Where does your NaNo stand?

  • Is your Thanksgiving week going to hold you back or push you through? Black Friday shopping or writing? Or both?

  • And of course, what are you eating on Thursday?



WilliamSTiernan William Scott Tiernan will happily respond to “William” or “Scott” or “Tsung Chi” — and he enjoyed being called “Mr. T” by his former middle school students. He doesn’t enjoy being called “Hey, you!” by his 3-year-old daughter. He may be 0-1 on NaNo, but he’s written for
YourTango, The Laurel of Asheville, Western North Carolina Parent, and of course, WEbook. He’s seeking representation for his YA novel, Dornoch Walking.


 


The Single Adjective/Adverb Winners!

NoAdverb! It's time to announce the winners of our current bi-weekly writing challenge. If you're new to the challenges (or to WEbook) these are short writing exercises geared towards helping authors improve a specific aspect of their craft and promote a healthy discourse between contestants.

Note that we will be taking a hiatus on these challenges for the holiday season. We love doing them, but we also love eating turkey, opening presents, and munching on candy canes. Look for new challenges in 2011.




First, the #1 winner and honorable recipient of a PageToFame coupon AND a Starbucks Giftcard:

Protest by galanham

And the other winners, who get a PageToFame coupon!

Grammar 'Rules' by PennyPritchard
Arrival by shigirl 

Congratulations!

And, as we take a break from the challenges for a while, we'd like to thank everyone who has submitted an entry over the past year. We couldn't do these challenges without you, and it's been a great pleasure of ours to read through your creative entries.  

Before you go, be sure to read galanham's winning entry:

Protest

See Spot run.

Tommy loathed the assignment. The class had to write a narrative containing one adjective and one adverb. How one accomplished the task, Tommy could not decide. Adjectives added color to life. Without adverbs there was no enthusiasm. That was what Tommy believed. 

See Spot jump.

What could he inscribe? An account about a dog? A yarn about running? A fairy-tale to amuse children? He wrote dreams and desires. These day-dreams wove color and excitement. Hope was not a story with one adjective and one adverb.

See Spot leashed.

Mutiny rose in Tommy’s chest. The mission was a restriction of freedom. He would smother. His creativity would suffocate. But Tommy had an inspiration. He would tell a story about one adjective and one adverb. His chronicle would shine. He would shine.

Tommy began to write. His words streaked across the sheet. They left a trail of chaos, a wildly protesting legend of furious determination.

See Spot fly. 

NaNoWriMo Day 17: Get to the Point!

Shield-Nano-Blue-Brown-RGB-HiResWe're just past the halfway point of the NaNo. How is everyone doing? Feeling the burn? Gotten that second wind yet? We hope so. William Tiernan's blog coverage of NaNo continues, let's see how he's doing...



Many things get put on hold during NaNoWriMo, like dishes and showering and sleep. But reading shouldn’t be one of them. Reading recharges the writing battery. Accomplished authors are accomplished for a reason. Entering their worlds offers fresh perspective on vocabulary, conventions, point of view, plotting, character development, suspense, and so on. There are many gems to mine.




Because my NaNo’s a YA novel, this month I’m mining for one gem in particular: momentum. So I’m reading John Green’s Looking for Alaska, a recommendation from a literary agent as an example of a perfectly paced YA novel. Good recommendation. It’s not an “action” book, but each hard-hitting sequence drives the plot forward at a relentless pace. No stage directions.  No superfluous character traits. No tedious information drops. Just sustained momentum. (And great writing.) I’ve been amazed (and inspired) by how much happens on each page.

I’m trying to reproduce “Alaska’s” momentum in my NaNo. Every time I start to get bogged down I say to myself: Get to the point and move on. (If I’m able to successfully “move on” I reward myself with a Reese’s or a Corona, depending on the time of day, and then keep moving on.) The strategy seems to be paying off. My NaNo’s a sequel to a YA book I spent a year writing. And so far I’m liking the NaNo better. (So much for a writing process of endless editing and rewriting and no alcohol). I may think differently come December 1, but still, it feels good to just write. And write fast. I remember reading somewhere that Stephen King writes his novels in about three months. Considering their average length, maybe there’s something to be said for the expeditiousness of NaNoWriMo. No matter what genre you’re working on this month, focusing on momentum and pacing might get you to the finish not just faster, but better.

Coincidentally, Alaska’s title character offers an interesting take on reaching the finish line – on the nostalgia of imagining the future as she calls it: “You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.” Hmmm? If the future is 50,000 words, and the labyrinth is your NaNo, then maybe there’s only one way out: Get to the point and move on!

NaNo questions for this week: What are you reading this month? What authors do you look to for writing gems? What gems are you incorporating into your NaNo?

NaNo word count: 22,576. Still behind, but gaining momentum.

William



WilliamSTiernan William Scott Tiernan will happily respond to “William” or “Scott” or “Tsung Chi” — and he enjoyed being called “Mr. T” by his former middle school students. He doesn’t enjoy being called “Hey, you!” by his 3-year-old daughter. He may be 0-1 on NaNo, but he’s written for
YourTango, The Laurel of Asheville, Western North Carolina Parent, and of course, WEbook. He’s seeking representation for his YA novel, Dornoch Walking.


 


The Pumpkin Writing Contest: Winners

20100216writingchallengeblog We regret to inform everyone that reading The Pumpkin Challenge submissions has reduced the WEbook editorial staff into a group of tear-soaked and fear-addled children. Thus, they were unable to choose winners for this challenge.


.....


Just kidding!




But seriously, these were some scary, sick, and twisted submissions. Which, of course, is exactly what we asked for. So thanks!

Here are the winners. Read at your own discretion, as a few of them are on the graphic side of things. 


No Trespassing by DaisyBug
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown by FinneanNilson
My Pretty Pumpkin Pet by fairyfan

Honorable Mention 


Schrodinger's Pumpkin by jgbarr


NoAdverb-1 Congratulations to all the winners! You will receive your PageToFame coupons shortly.


The Single Adjective/Adverb Challenge is still open for submission through Monday, November 15. It seems like many regulars have passed on this challenge (we had you pegged for adverb sympathizers from the start), so we’re resorting to bribery. The #1 winner of this writing contest will receive both a PageToFame coupon AND a $10 Starbucks Gift Card. All other winners will still get their standard P2F ‘pon. We hope everyone decides to accept our bribe.


Have a great weekend!


—WEbook  


NaNoWriMo Day 10: The Perspective Tune-up

NaNoWriMoLogo William Tiernan's blog coverage of NaNoWriMo continues! If you're new to the series, catch up on his novel writing marathon so far.



My NaNo died. On Friday it threw up its arms, muttered a few obscenities, and dragged itself into the literary shop for repairs. I’d like to compare it to a car that conked out at 300,000 miles. But I’d just driven the thing off the lot. It barely had 5,000 words on it.

I was trying to write a sequel. Several of the characters had already been established; I was passionate about the subject matter; and I’d created a detailed plot outline. A decent recipe for NaNoWriMo success – except it wasn’t working. Day 1 went well, but by Friday I knew my NaNo mobile wasn’t crossing the finish line. I was at a total loss.





I considered switching topics. Then by some small twist of NaNoWriMo fate I read Brian’s post about point of view. And it hit me: my NaNo’s plot was fine; what had crippled it was perspective. The story focuses on a girl and a boy who play equally important roles. So I chose to write in the 3rd person, hoping to give each kid the proper attention. Bad move. No matter how hard I tried last week, I couldn’t get inside their heads. They felt aloof. Stagnant. Boring. If they were boring to me, I thought, imagine how a reader would feel?

I decided to let my NaNo go for a 1st person test drive. 1st person is a comfortable voice for me, and it seems to be a good narrative match for young readers: personal, edgy, non-preachy. I just wasn’t sure which character to put behind the wheel, the boy or the girl? So I compromised on both. Kathryn Stockett wrote The Help from multiple 1st person perspectives and look how that worked out! Why not me and my NaNo?


I got started on Saturday. I actually settled on three narrators: the boy, the girl, and a retired lawyer who will represent each of them during the story. And the words flowed. I enjoyed popping in and out of each character’s head. It kept the writing process – and hopefully the writing – fresh. I felt energized.  I’d always wanted to try a novel from multiple perspectives; the NaNo was offering the chance.


By last night I’d finished 6,000 words of Take 2. Way behind in the word count, but I’m actually excited about the process again. The most celebrated are the rehabilitated, right? My NaNo’s out of the shop after a much needed tune-up. $29.99 for a perspective change and new spark plugs. I know the next break down may be just around the corner. But for now I’m enjoying the ride.


How’s everyone else doing? Did you encounter any major or minor road blocks during Week 1? If so, how'd you overcome them? And what are your goals for Week 2?

William 



WilliamSTiernan William Scott Tiernan will happily respond to “William” or “Scott” or “Tsung Chi” — and he enjoyed being called “Mr. T” by his former middle school students. He doesn’t enjoy being called “Hey, you!” by his 3-year-old daughter. He may be 0-1 on NaNo, but he’s written for
YourTango, The Laurel of Asheville, Western North Carolina Parent, and of course, WEbook. He’s seeking representation for his YA novel, Dornoch Walking.


 


PageToFame Shorts Temporarily Closed to Submissions

Pagetofameshorts In an effort to ensure that each PageToFame submission receives votes as quickly as possible, we are temporarily closing submissions to Shorts. As the final rounds of PageToFame Full-Length have opened, user activity has gravitated towards those areas.

This is great, but it has created a bit of a slow-down in Shorts ratings.




By temporarily suspending submissions to Shorts, we will allow the current entries to receive votes at a faster rate. We will monitor user behavior closely over the next few weeks, and plan to re-open Shorts submissions once things even out.


In the meantime, keep that short story nearby (maybe do a final round of edits?) and get cranking on that novel you've been putting off!

—The WEbook Team 


Writing a Novel: Experience vs. Imagination

6a00e54ff9f2cf88340120a786bd73970b Some of you might remember that I was casting about in search of ideas for my next novel. Eventually, I broke through by researching the germ of an idea, which inspired a legitimate plot, characters, and a range of settings. Afterwards, I realized all I needed was a bit more research and I could sit down and begin outlining and yes, ultimately get to the beautiful slog of a first draft just in time for the start of winter (my favorite season to write).




Because one of the major plot lines of my next manuscript will take place in a South American jungle (and I live in South America), I had to go there. I had to learn about the weather, the people, the plants and animals of the rainforest. I had to see and feel the place or I couldn’t write about it competently. This is how I make my ideas come to life—I base them on real experience. Since this is only my second novel—and my first set in a locale that is, or was, completely alien to me—I am nervous. I don’t know if I can pull it off.

Moreover, I’m a little worried that I need true experiences to build my fiction. I doubt that, for Cujo, Stephen King actually got trapped in a car while a rabid, blood-thirsty Saint Bernard attempted to devour him. Or that, like in The Firm, John Grisham worked for a law practice that represented the mob and killed its partners when they tried to quit. The same goes for countless science-fiction and fantasy novels, historical fiction (not based on fact), lots of YA—hell, maybe the majority of novels are written by folks vastly more creative than me.

I did, however, get rather lucky on my trip (and am lucky for being able to take it in the first place!). On the second day in the rainforest, I was on a hike with a group and we got surrounded by a troupe of wild pigs 100 strong that felt so threatened by us our guide was sure we were about to be attacked. I met indigenous Amazonian Indians and learned about the struggles they face in maintaining their identity in a modern world. I witnessed first-hand what the destruction of the rainforest looks liked—and also how vibrant and alive a fiercely protected piece of jungle is. I saw endangered—and truly dangerous—animals, insects and plants. I got consumed by mosquitoes and sand flies while melting in the humid midday heat. I took copious notes.

And I’m still not sure if I can re-create the world I experienced across the breadth of a novel. More disturbing, I’m concerned that I have to, that my imagination isn’t up to the task of gathering the slack where my research ends. I’ll find out soon enough I suppose, because I plan to begin as soon as I return to the States (yes, my glamorous life abroad is coming to a thudding end in only a few days).

This week’s question is: How do you go about making your fiction “real?” Are your stories purely invented, born strictly of experience or somewhere in between?

—John 


JMHammock1 John Meils is currently finishing a first novel, tentatively titled The Warring House. He has written for Elle, Men’s Health, and MyTango.com, among others.



To learn more about him, visit johnmeils.com.


 


Choosing a Perspective for your Novel

ThenWeCametotheEnd Over the past week or so, I've been reading Then We Came to the End, by Joshua Ferris. It's a brilliant and funny novel that details the behavior of a group of advertising executives as their agency undergoes layoffs during the late 90's. 

One particularly noteworthy aspect of Then We Came to the End is it's perspective. The novel is written in first person plural (we, us, etc.) which is extremely rare in fiction, especially long form fiction. There are a few famous short stories that use this perspective—A Rose For Emily being perhaps the most famous—but it's generally avoided by writers. 





This makes sense, given how cumbersome the perspective can be. First person plural happens to fit well with Ferris's novel because the group of ad people function almost like a unified entity of gossip, fear, self-doubt, and jealousy. Nevertheless, I couldn't help but notice certain sections where Ferris had to strain a bit to make his chosen perspective fit the narrative. It by no means ruins the novel which, like I said, is fantastic; however, I suspect Ferris had a few "smashing-face-into-desk" type nights as he wrote Then We Came to the End.

Perspective This got me thinking about perspective in general. I think some writers have a tendency to forget that they can choose their perspective, and end up diving into whichever one feels right at the outset. This can sometimes backfire when mid-way through a short story or novel the writer realizes their ensemble cast of characters would have way more depth if they had written in 3rd, rather than 1st person.

I'm curious to hear how authors choose their perspective? Have you ever had to backtrack significantly? Do you give it a lot of thought before pen/finger hits paper/keyboard? Any perspective success stories?

 —Brian
Not a member of WEbook yet? Sign up and get writing!


NaNoWriMo Day 1: Ready, Set, NaNo

Shield-Nano-Blue-Brown-RGB-HiRes William Tiernan's blog coverage of NaNoWriMo continues with the first official November installment! If you need to catch up on what's been covered so far, read Will's introductory post. Be sure to share your own experiences in the comments. You can also start more NaNoWriMo talk in our brand new forum!



College basketball's "Midnight Madness" has nothing on NaNoWriMo. The NCAA’s annual b-ball kickoff includes just a few hundred colleges. That’s peanuts compared to NaNoWriMo’s thousands of writers. Or is it tens of thousands? Or hundreds of thousands?  Whatever the number, a whole host of people starting a novel today is an inspiring proposition. It’s like Critical Mass, only with word processors instead of bicycles.





This weekend I got some advice from a NaNoWriMo vet: write what you know, stick to a schedule, eat lots of comfort food, and skip Thanksgiving. With these in mind, here’s an overview of my 2010 NaNo.

Title: The Obesity World Series

Genre: Young Adult - Fiction

Tagline: A girl and boy join forces to fight childhood obesity with their own version of the Little League World Series.

Writing implement: Lenovo ThinkPad

Writing space: Musty green couch.

Schedule: Monday—Friday, 10 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. – novel writing. Minimum word count: 1,500/day.   Saturdays, 10:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. – big picture revisions. Sundays – watch football/catch up on sleep.

NaNoEssentials Inspirational quote: Those who don’t try, never look foolish.

Motto: Fast and loose.

Essentials: Wizard writing hat; leftover Halloween candy (Reese’s this year); SunChips; notepad, pen and pencil, water; iPod.

Last night I had trouble concentrating on trick-or-treating with my daughter. My mind was locked in pre-NaNo mode. Then, at 12:01 a.m. this morning, I stuffed a Reese’s in my mouth, put the iPod on shuffle, and released my pent-up novel ideas. It was like a literary throw-up: a chunky mix of opening plots points and characters and dialogue exploded through my fingertips and splattered onto my computer screen. I didn’t bother to consult my outline; I just started typing. Two hours later I’d finished Chapter 1 – 1,983 words. I quickly looked it over and decided it wasn’t the worst thing I’d ever written and went to sleep happy. One day in and already ahead of schedule. If I can find a way to blow off Thanksgiving I just might make it this year.

But one day at a time, right?  How’s your Day 1 going? Tell us about your 2010 NaNo – overview, writing tool/space/schedule, inspiration, motto, and so on – and share your essentials for getting to the finish line.

William



WilliamSTiernan William Scott Tiernan will happily respond to “William” or “Scott” or “Tsung Chi” — and he enjoyed being called “Mr. T” by his former middle school students. He doesn’t enjoy being called “Hey, you!” by his 3-year-old daughter. He may be 0-1 on NaNo, but he’s written for
YourTango, The Laurel of Asheville, Western North Carolina Parent, and of course, WEbook. He’s seeking representation for his YA novel, Dornoch Walking.


 


John Corey Whaley: How to Market a First Novel

Wherethingscomebacklogo My first novel, Where Things Come Back, is edited, copyedited, the typeset has been approved, and I’m in the process of reading through what’s called the “first pass” to check for any typos before the book is sent to print. The cover, back cover, and content for the two inside flaps have all been approved as well.

So, now what? The book still doesn’t hit stores for another seven months!!!




Have no fear, there is plenty to do before the novel’s release. The main objective, at this point, is marketing. I’ve recently planned my second trip to New York City, where I will be meeting with the head of publicity for the book. This meeting is for two reasons: to go over the national marketing plan that Simon & Schuster has in mind for my book, and to discuss options for local marketing that can be handled by me. Authors, especially unknown, first-time ones like myself, can decide between letting all of the marketing for their debut be handled by the publisher, or working hard to garner additional interest on their own.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: There isn’t much a first-time novelist can do to promote a book all by himself aside from holding book signings, readings at local libraries, and the like. But, I’ve been considering several different ways of promoting a book in the age of social networking and the internet. Here's what I have so far: 

Idea #1: Facebook/Twitter Campaign. This is done often to promote movies, television shows, and other books. Because these tools are free advertising, it would be silly to exclude them. 

Idea #2:  Viral Marketing. I’m no expert on marketing or anything, but I do know what has always struck my interest. I’ve always been fascinated by the way that movies and television shows, and some products, are able to promote themselves through humor, mystery, and viral videos and websites. I already have a graphic designer friend to help me create some posters and a website for the novel, and, using my connections at local universities and public schools, as well as a connection I have in the Louisiana Public Libraries, I intend on using as many venues as possible to promote the book in this manner. Because it’s a YA novel, meant for ages 14 and up, I feel like a campaign such as this could see some amount of success. 

For now, these are the things I’m working on and thinking about in regards to the upcoming release of Where Things Come Back and it’s all so very exciting and surreal. I’ve also been spending more time working on a second novel and am happy to report that I’ve reached the halfway mark on it. I’m excited to complete a manuscript that I won’t have to wait years and years before getting an agent to read it.  

In fact, Ken Wright is reading the first 100 pages as we speak. 

Happy Writing,

Corey


Corey Whaley hails from Shreveport, LA, where he teaches sixth grade english. He signed with Ken Wright, a literary agent at Writers House, last fall using WEbook's AgentInbox query service. His debut novel, Where Things Come Back, was purchased by Simon & Schuster early in 2010.



Read more about Corey's amazing story.


 


NaNoWriMo Mania: One Month, One Novel

Shield-Nano-Blue-Brown-RGB-HiRes WEbook veterans will probably remember William Tiernan (penname:TsungChi) who was an editor for WEbook's 101 Things Every Man Should Know, and our community specialist. Anyone who keeps up with writing news is also probably aware that November is The National Novel Writing Month, and it's almost here. 

Well, it just so happens that William will be participating in the NaNoWriMo experience, so we decided to have him document his journey on the WEbook blog. Throughout the month, he'll share his successes, failures, and everything in between via regular blog installments. We also encourage anyone else participating in the NaNoWriMo to contribute their own perspective in the comments section.

The official kick-off is next Monday, but here's a little intro to get everyone warmed up and ready for the long haul.




Take it away, William!

Think you’ve got what it takes to write a 50,000-word novel? Whip up a detailed outline. Write a first draft. Scrap it. Write a second draft. Burn it. Write a third draft. Tolerate it. Rework it. Slash paragraphs and add new ones. Revise and revise and revise until each sentence is perfect. Finally, a polished manuscript. And the entire process only took up a year of your life.

Now imagine writing the same 50,000-word novel in 30 days. No, not 300. 30! Broken down into digestible chunks, that’s 11,627 words per week; or 1,677 words per day; or 70 words per hour; or 1.1574 words per minute. No matter how you type it - PC, Mac, iPad, Netbook, or typewriter - that's a handful of writing.

I'm of course referring to NaNoWriMo, which is short for National Novel Writing Month. The NaNoWiMo website touts November as “Thirty Days and Nights of Literary Abandon.” The end goal: a 50,000-word novel - or NaNo.  

A literary cheetah would love the NaNo: it transforms the novel writing process from marathon to 100-meter dash. The NaNo won't let you obsess over word choice and sentence structure. It won't let you endlessly revise paragraphs. And it won't let you sleep much. What it will do is silence your internal editor. It will liberate you from writer’s perfectionism. And it just may liberate you from your day job, friends, family members, pets, and significant others. Whether any of this is good or bad is entirely up to you.

Nano_09_winner There are huge benefits for participation. First, it's social. Join me and other WEbookers here in the blog to share NaNo successes and setbacks, swap plots ideas and conflicts, invent creative ways to kill off pesky character, procrastinate, or just keep each other awake. Second, NaNoWriMo awards a winner's certificate to those who cross the finish line. Third, the satisfaction of finishing a novel. Finally, the product. It’s not going to be perfect, but your NaNo may prove to be a perfect springboard to that polished manuscript. Heck, maybe it will lead to an agent down the road! Some quality stuff has to surface from hundreds of hours of concentrated writing, right?  

My 2008 NaNo fizzled out at 30,000 words, but I’m jumping back in for 2010. I just finished the manuscript for my first YA novel; what better time to bang out a sequel? Start formulating your characters and plots. Just 3 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes until November...



WilliamSTiernan William Scott Tiernan will happily respond to “William” or “Scott” or “Tsung Chi” — and he enjoyed being called “Mr. T” by his former middle school students. He doesn’t enjoy being called “Hey, you!” by his 3-year-old daughter. He may be 0-1 on NaNo, but he’s written for
YourTango, The Laurel of Asheville, Western North Carolina Parent, and of course, WEbook. He’s seeking representation for his YA novel, Dornoch Walking.


 



The Social Network and Narrative Structure

TheSocialNetwork A few weeks ago, we covered a little know fact about The Social Network. That is, the screenplay was actually based off of the book proposal of Ben Mezrich's The Accidental Billionaires, rather than the manuscript. 

I finally got a chance to see The Social Network over the weekend, and noticed some things that also pertain to our discussion about creating original characters and plot lines from last week, and decided that a follow-up post was in order. 

First and foremost, I thought the movie was very good, and well worth the price of admission. Aaron Sorkin (who also penned A Few Good Men, The West Wing, and Charlie Wilson's War) fills every scene with the witty dialogue for which he's known. Plus, it's a well-told and interesting story that was easy for me to connect with. 




The reason I connected so well with The Social Network was because it operated within a very clean narrative structure. The major thematic question of the film—whether or not Marc Zuckerberg was a bad person—was addressed openly in the first and last scene, while everything in between illuminated the issue. The film developed clear protagonists and antagonists, escalated the conflict in steady increments (using a clever flashback technique), and came to a satisfying conclusion after almost exactly two hours. All things considered, it was a expertly told story. 

This was interesting to me on two levels. First, (and this related to the previous Social Network post) I am virtually positive that the reality of Facebook's creation did not have such a well-defined narrative arc. Part of being a good storyteller (like Mezrich and Sorkin) is molding events so that an audience can connect with them better. I think this is why The Social Network drew some criticism about being inaccurate, but I also think its the main reason I enjoyed watching it.

Second, (and this relates to the original character and plot post) the structure of The Social Network is entirely unoriginal—you could almost call it 'cookie-cutter.' And the plot, while certainly original, is also extremely well-known. I went into the movie knowing how it was going to end. Zuckerberg was going to be sued by his best friend (and a few others) and he was going to make an out of court settlement.  

On paper, this should be a disaster—a familiar story told in a familiar way. However, Sorkin made each main character at least somewhat complex, and he infused every scene with dialogue that left you grinning and giddy. As I said before, richly drawn characters are all a story needs to draw me in. I was sold.

Did anyone else see The Social Network? Do you agree with this assessment? Disagree? If you have't seen the film yet, does this make you more or less inclined to see it now?  If none of these questions interest you, how about just shouting out your favorite Aaron Sorkin script?

—Brian 
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