We Have Lift Off!


I first learned that I would be a published author in January of 2010, just a few months after my first post on Webook and after the website helped me find my agent. Now, as I write this, I am just a few days away from seeing the realization of a lifelong dream come true. On May 3, 2011, my debut novel, Where Things Come Back, will hit bookstores all across the country. I pinch myself every morning when I wake up….and I also watch for falling anvils. This last year and a half has been incredible. Indescribable. Crazy. And amazing. Everything I’ve wanted to happen has happened and it seems like I’m living someone else’s life.

Just two weeks ago, the trade reviews started coming in for the novel and I’m happy to say that they are great! First was a wonderful, complimentary review from Kirkus and then was the best thing ever---a starred review in Publishers Weekly. Apparently, people like this book.

Where Things Come Back With only a few days left until the book is actually available for the public to read, and a few weeks until I officially start my book tour (visit www.johncoreywhaley.com for more information), I am so overwhelmed with excitement and anticipation that it’s getting hard to sleep!  I’ve made the important decision to take the next year or so to promote my book and focus on editing my second novel and getting it ready enough to hopefully land another book deal. I am happy to say that I am leaving my five years of public school teaching, effective June 1st. It is the right thing to do and the support and encouragement I’ve received over these past eighteen months, from friends and strangers, has assured me that writing is the career I should devote my life to.


I’m not going to keep going on about how lucky I am or how happy I am and all of that mess that you’re probably all rolling your eyes at. But I do want to extend an excessive amount of gratitude to all of the writers out there who are working late at night to finish that manuscript they’ve been obsessing over. I want to thank the people at Webook, who started a service that actually works for people like me, who have been rejected so many times in the past. And I want to tell all of my fans and readers and future readers and the like that you all have no idea how extremely grateful and honored I have been to share my story with you all. 

Corey Whaley hails from Shreveport, LA. 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 and will be released on May 3, 2011.

Read more about Corey's amazing story.



Winners of the Dragon Slaying Writing Challenge

Dragon-Slaying-Logo Before going any further, we would like to have an HTML moment of silence for all of the dragons who met their doom during this challenge.

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Thanks for that. Overall, that went pretty well...

...And now onto to the winning dragon slayers/writers!

This was an wonderful challenge to read. Did we wile away a large quantity of work hours reading our favorite entries aloud to each other across the cubicles? Yes. Did we act out the dialogue with funny dragon voices that were a mix of Brad Pitt in Troy and Leonard Nimoy in Star Trek? Yes. Did one junior staff member come to work last Thursday in full dragon-garb, and at that point we all realized simultaneously that things had gone too far? Maybe.

Regardless of all that, we have chosen our winners. They are each mighty in their own way, but they were not the only ones. Many entries deserved recognition, but alas this world is filled with people and things that deserve recognition and do not get it. This is one of the things that makes the world a hard place to live in.

We're going to build our way towards the winner of the Dragon of Victory. Don't race ahead. Or do. We won't stop you.

Dragon How To: A Quick Reference Guide by OpheliaWrites

Why it won: Virtually everything about this entry was inventive and funny, from the larger format to the very smallest of details. And from all this abstract tomfoolery, a world was created with which we felt a meaningful connection. This mix of tongue-in-cheekery and world-buildingery is hard to pull off, but little 'ole Ophelia did it "write." (BAM!) In all of life, not just dragon slaying, we really believe this is helpful advice: "when all else fails, dodge and weave."

Victory is Not for the Weak by Michelle4Laughs

Why it won: Picture a dragon slayer. Probably a muscular guy, six-five, two-fifty. Killed his first man when he was eleven with a soup ladle. Not always, though. Sometimes all the physical strength in the world won't do you any good. Courage and conviction are bigger than those strengths—the confidence to do what you know to be right, even when it means you'll lose everything. Claire had that strength, and maybe that's what dragon slaying is all about. Courage and conviction.

Myrna of the Extinction Committee by Dikkenb

Why it won: Now, it isn't really WEbook's place to make a comment about whether animal rights activists can or cannot sometimes be a little bit of...well...a bummer. It is, however, our place to say that we like hardcore characters. Myrna is hardcore. She knows what she is, and what the world is, and she doesn't feel the least bit bad about it. That's fitting for a dragon slayer. That's the type of person you'd need to be, we think. Moreover, Dikkenb is a really good writer. Just listen to this:

"I swung the cross hairs onto the glinting devil out across the scalding shifting sands. Its back arched with rows of bristling scales like black onyx shards."

 Yes, that's the stuff.

"How to Slay Your Dragon" by TheUlminator

Why it won: Imagery, strong verbs, and visual adjectives. We like those three things, and TheUlminator brought them all to the table. Funny thing about this, it reminded us of a certain entry that won last time, when we checked back and realized why. The same person wrote it. Isn't that something? Tip of the cap to you, Ulminator. That's two. You gonna go for the hat trick? We dare you to.

The Last Dragon by Crusoe

Why it won: There was a lot we liked here. The dragon's perspective was extremely well done, the writing solid as always, and a roasted princess is always good to get into the mix. But we'll be honest, we didn't consider this a full-blown win until we neared the end and read this line:

"These humans don't remember what it's like to run in fear when a long shadow falls on their kingdom and fire rains from the sky."

That cut us deep. Because we all do that, don't we? When we feel safe we start to forget. Get comfortable, get complacent. Worry about inconsequential things that don't really matter. Let them rule over us. And then, one day, a day that starts out like any other, a long shadow falls on our kingdom. Oh Crusoe, you scoundrel. Lines like that are what make these writing challenges special to us.

[Victory Dragon Winner] The 531st Annual SquiggleSmudge Turnip Festival by Malekin

Why it won: So when the townspeople started "engaging in a figurative orgy of turnip-themed delights" we were pretty well sold on this being one of the winners. That's an awesome thing to have your townspeople do. But there is more here than just that, and that's why Malekin is getting the Dragon of Victory. There's narrative! Donkey derbies, turnip thieves, knights who can only combat turnip thieves (does that make them turnip knights?), slain mimes, and of course, the start of a heroic quest. Our minds raced to imagine the team young Derek would need to put together to finish off the rest of the dragon family (turnip knight, turnip thief, out-of-work mime apprentice). Damn, that's good!

This entry could be the start of an epic and hilarious journey for young Derek, and one we'd like to read more about. If you do decide to take Derek on this quest, we hope you bring the Dragon of Victory along for the ride. Maybe slip him into a scene somehow. Just a thought.

Well, there it is. Thanks again for all of your thoughtful, inventive, and generally brilliant submissions. It was an honor to read them. Victors, get ready to be P2F'ed, coupon style. Malekin, get ready for your dragon.

Steampunk If you haven't done so at this point (and at the time of writing this, that could be as many as 100 of you), it'd be cool if you entered the Steampunk Writing Challenge. We'd love to read what you come up with. And we're giving away a cool prize for this one, too. Submissions are open until April 30th. So break out your steam-pen and get to writing.

 Until the next time....


The Steampunk Challenge

20100216writingchallengeblog The writing challenges continue to hum along. Last time, we had each author slay a dragon in a method of their choosing. This time, we're going down a different path. We're trading our reptile scales for iron gears, our wings for airship sails, and our cold-blooded hearts for boiling oil. Behold:

The Steampunk Challenge!

In short: Authors are to write a short scene (max 500 words) that incorporates one or more key elements of the Steampunk genre. 

In long:  We know what you're thinking, "What in the name of Mark Twain's ring finger is Steampunk, and how do I incorporate it into my scene?" Don't blow a gasket, we'll explain.

In its most basic sense, Steampunk fiction presents a world where technology has advanced based upon steam mechanics rather than electricity (read: gears and cogs, not wires and circuits). This is, however, a gross simplification of this rich and expanding sub-genre of speculative fiction. For a more in-depth exploration of Steampunk's definition, please read and absorb Matthew Delman's perspective at Doctor Fantastique's Show of Wonders. Seriously, go read it right now so we're all on the same page. Then hurry back.

Thanks, hope that sparked some steam-spiration in your writer's mind. We know it got us quite excited about the possibilities abound in this challenge. Now, a few quick suggestions (that you can ignore) from WEbook:

1.) Steampunk is massive, so don't try and pack everything into your short scene. Pick some metallic tidbits you find interesting and make them shine.

2.) Don't forget to create compelling characters. This challenge isn't all about cogs and airships, make us feel something for someone (yes, that someone can be a steam robot).

3.) We know it can be fun when whistles and valves are involved, but use onomatopoeia sparingly. Please.

WEbook will pick our six favorite submissions and award them free entry to PageToFame, our flagship writing contest/feedback steam-machine (see how we slipped "steam" in there? You're welcome). As in the last challenge, we will also highlight the aspects of each entry that lead them to victory.

Steampunk The mysterious Doctor Fantastique will choose his favorite submission from the pool of finalists and send him or her a steampunk compass. Moreover, the big DF will answer any Steampunk related questions you may have during the contest via twitter @docfantastique. Use him, he is both noble and wise in all things related to the 'punk.

The deadline to submit is 10pm on April 30, 2011. To submit your entry, start a new chapter in the Steampunk Challenge writing project. Read through the official description before starting your submission, as there is some extra information about the challenge. 

Lastly, we leave you with a Steampunk Alphabet. For inspiration, and for fun.

Airship, Buckle, Cog, Derringer, Engine, Factory, Goggles, Harpoon, Industry, Jules (Verne), Kinetic, Lordly, Mechanical, Nightmare, Oil, Pirates, Queen, Rivets, Smuggler, Turbine, Ultimate, Victorian, Whistle, Xenomorphic (yes we used a dictionary), Yearning, and Zebra...the mechanical kind.

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