The Nameless Icon Writing Contest

Iconic2Props go out to violet_Music for suggesting the idea for this writing contest. We’re always happy to hear suggestions, so don’t be afraid to shout your own ideas out to us!

We’ve run a few character creation/description challenges in the past, but this one has an added hook: You must describe an iconic person in 300 words without mentioning their actual name or blatant hints about their identity.

What qualifies as an iconic character? Glad you asked. We’ll accept any person—living or dead, fictional or real—that is recognizable by a substantial group of people. For example: politicians, celebrities, literary characters, superheroes, movie characters, and gods are all fair game.

If you want to go a bit more niche, that’s your call and you won’t be penalized for doing so. However, the best entries will make it possible to determine who the icon is without someone having to perform hours of head scratching and internet research.

The deadline for this contest is Sunday June 24th at 10pm EST. More restrictions noted in the contest description.

WEbook will pick six submissions as winners and award them free entry to PageToFame, our flagship writing contest. 

The #1 winner will receive a copy of The Catcher in the Rye - an iconic book if we've ever heard of one.

To enter, start a new chapter in the official Nameless Icon Contest project.

What are you waiting for? Submit your nameless icon.


Q&A with a Seasoned Veteran of the WEbook Writing Contests: SigmundSquirrel

20100216writingchallengeblogIf you’ve been knocking the digital pen to paper at WEbook for a while, there’s a good chance you’ve seen the name SigmundSquirrel before. He’s been a WEbook member for over two years, and in that time he’s been an active participant in the community, PageToFame, and the series of WEbook writing contests.

Not only as he entered a bunch of the writing contests, he’s won his fair share of them as well. We decided to check in with ole’ Sigmund, get a sense of the man behind the victories, and see what else he’s taken away from the contests (besides a bunch of P2F coupons).

Tell us a bit about yourself. What do you do besides write?

I'm the design director and a developer for an interactive digital agency, making games and branded entertainment for web and mobile. 

How did you first hear about WEbook? When did you join?

When I first began looking at online writing communities, I Googled and found WEbook. I immediately liked the clean, minimal design and the PageToFame concept, so I joined back in March 2010. It looked like a place where I wouldn't mind spending a lot of time.

What was the first WEbook writing contest you entered? How did you approach it?

The very first writing challenge after I joined was The 150-Word Short Summary Challenge. The timing was perfect. I'd just begun thinking about an idea for a novel and had entered the first page in PageToFame. I wrote a summary of the idea, The Inner Eye, and entered. It became my first writing challenge win.

How have the writing challenges affected your longer works?

The idea for the Summary Challenge turned out to be bigger and more complicated than I thought, and I'm still struggling with it. When I get lost (which is frequently) I return to this summary to remember the tone I'm looking for.

I continue to use the writing challenges as a way to work on specific problems with my work-in-progress. I wrote an ending of The Inner Eye for the 100-Word Ending Challenge which I like but may not use.

For the OK Cupid Challenge, which I won a few months, I returned to the setting of The Inner Eye, with an entry called Always Something Doing.

I used a lot of the research I'm doing for Boston, 1947. My novel takes place in the summer, but I found out there was a record-breaking snowstorm on Christmas of that year. I couldn't use it for the book, but I immediately thought of it as a backdrop when your challenge set up the parameters of a winter romance. The character of Dolores is from the novel, as is the neighborhood and theater.

What’s your favorite submission to a WEbook writing contest?

One of my favorite (and I think, best) writing challenge submissions was for The Character Creation Challenge. I chose a minor, colorful character from The Inner Eye. You had asked for a bullet list of 12 attributes. Instead, I wrote a short story that highlighted all the attributes:

This exercise really opened up the character for me. I gained such a greater understanding of him that I have a second novel, a sequel to The Inner Eye, in the note stage with Eliot Stark as the main character, exploring the plot from this short character study.

What do you think has changed the most about your writing after participating in the WEbook writing contests?

The writing challenges have imposed discipline on my sometimes florid prose. When I see a new challenge, I write down notes and sentences in a text-editing program to see what pops out of my head.

Once I focus on an idea and begin putting things together into a story, I usually find out I'm several hundred words over the limit. After I struggle to cut down to 300 or whatever the limit is (and I'm usually still over) I find out the writing becomes stronger and more forceful. I'm trying to impose a similar discipline to my longer writing. An example is the original Inner Eye, which made it to Rounds 1, 2 and 3 in the PageToFame contest. But I've now gone full circle with a new first page in a more minimal voice that I just re-entered in the contest.

Have you broken any new genre-ground during the contests?

The other writing challenge I developed into a novel idea was The Wyrm In Rat's Alley, from The Dragon Slaying Challenge.

This was my first attempt at sci-fi/fantasy, which I combined with a noir voice. I dropped the plot idea but kept the character for a PageToFame submission called Blodryne, which made it through the first round. I'd been struggling with the first chapter for Round 2, and when I recently wrote another writing challenge entry for The Backstory Challenge, called The Big Pharma, I reworked the characters and setting and came up with a new opening that solved my problem and opened the story out for me:

It was a winning entry. It's interesting that both stories are a year apart and you can see the slimmed down writing. The Big Pharma maintains the tone but has a more forceful forward momentum. I attribute this change in my writing to WEbook and the writing challenges.

Thanks for the great answers, Sigmund. Very cool to hear your experiences broken down into such detail.

Stay tuned for more WEbook writing contests and other scribe-related opportunities.

And if you’ve taken home a handful of PageToFame coupons yourself off these contests, you might be hearing from us in the future.



The Mother's Day Writing Contest Winners

20100216writingchallengeblogMother's Day has come and gone. Father's Day approaches on swift wings. What's happened in between? Well, we've been reading the submissions to this writing challenge. Hopefully you've been thinking about what to get Dad for his special day. 

We recommend a meat smoker. A lot of people think they're impractical, but they're wrong. They're an amazing way to empower your father to produce delicious meals of meat while basking in the summer sunlight and sipping on his favorite man-beer. of the Mother's  Day Writing Contest!

#1 Grand Prize Winner of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers

Easy Peezy by Leo1 
This was some pretty wild sci-fi, but interesting and well-composed. 

And the other deserving recipients of PageToFame Coupons!

Edelweiss by SC_Benjamin
We liked that there was action in this scene, not easy to make action work in conjunction with Mother's Day. The ending was also equal parts unexpected and interesting.

Photos by AdraLynne
This entry fleshed out a realistic character and a very touching scene in a small space. Really powerful.

Mum's the Word by violet_Music
Cute and unconventional. Two things that rarely go together and work. Nice!

Conundrum by RockDarkwater
This one made us smile, and the rhyme and meter was well done.

Found on the Prairie by JRBeck
This entry had an unusual perspective and a lot of depth in the back story. As you know from the last contest, we're suckers for good backstory.

Congratulations to the winners! You will receive your PageToFame Coupons in the mail soon. 

Don't forget about the Food Writing Contest that's still open for submissions until June 3rd. Hope you brought an appetite! 


Becoming a Brand: Rae Gee's Publicity Tips

MarsontheRise(1)Happy Friday, WEbookers! Here's the last installment of our stellar conversation with Rae Gee, newly published author of Mars on the Rise. Read on for what she has to say about publicity and all things social media.

So you've written a book and landed a publisher - the only thing left is to tell the world about it! Tell us about your experience as a newly published author—what has been your favorite part so far?

Now you're talking my language! I've worked in and around promotions since I was 18 so this is my favourite part of the process. I love talking to people and creating publicity materials.

As for my favourite part so far – probably talking to people who are as excited about the book as I am. When you're feeling a bit low, it's a great pick-me-up.

And what scares you the most about publicizing your book?

Negative responses, I think. Like any writer, I'm quite protective of my work, and a complete perfectionist. Slowly I'm learning that I can't please everyone. Another thing which scares me is having it plagiarized. It's happened in the past, someone stole my work and passed it off as their own. Thankfully it's getting easier to get plagiarized material taken down and I'm lucky in that I have some great friends who keep an eye out for it.

 Any surprises?

 Seeing it hit Amazon's Gothic charts in both the UK and Germany! That's been a real rush!

Have you used social media at all to spread the word about Mars on the Rise?

Oh heck, yes! There's the Facebook page, the Twitter account, the blog , the Goodreads profile... I'm now tempted by a Ustream page but I'm not sure if people want to see me drinking tea and eating chocolate! Something I adore is the ability to link them together so that updating one will update the others. I try not to put the same updates on all of them so that people aren't swamped with identical information. I also try and make sure that I'm talking to them and not at them.

Your social media profiles for the book carry the name "Veetu Industries." How does this connect with your writing career and the book?

The_Dreamer_by_MWaters-postcard printVeetu Industries is the name of the company which features in Mars on the Rise. Owned by Erus, it's responsible for churning out the weapons and machines which keep the wars running. I never really thought a lot about it while I was writing; it's like one of those programs which runs stealthily on your computer, a little something which added to the overall story. People who've read the book now liken it to the massive, multi-national, faceless companies which are now around the globe. That was something I'd never seen it as; it was always just another cog in the book.

Over time Veetu Industries has grown and now people associate it with the book and the characters. It's great because it's literally becoming the brand of the books, so much so that people are now starting to ask for merchandise! One person did ask when Veetu Industries t-shirts would become available and, in the true nature of the company, I did reply that there would be no t-shirts but company brandings would soon be offered to all loyal employees! (I am joking! I'd never do that to anyone! Hopefully we'll have the t-shirts at some point though.)

Haha, sounds like fun - and it must be exciting to watch a community form around your work.

One of the great things about social media is that you can interact with people and have conversations. It's great and I love how grounding it can be to have normal, every day conversations with people. It's also brought all my friends together and I get so excited talking to them about it. Some of them have stepped up and offered to do things for me like designing and building websites and creating artwork. As much as I originally loathed it, I'm now a big Facebook user. It's been a great help in keeping in touch with friends and family while writing the book and it's become a wonderful tool afterwards.

Saying that, I try not to rely on it too much. In this day and age there is so “noise” out on the internet, so many people with things to say, that anything you say can be lost. I really like talking to people face to face and I'm a huge fan of snail mail. I love writing letters to people, sending them little things through the post and, in turn, I love getting things back. To me, at least, it feels that little more personal.

What advice do you have to other newly published authors as they send their books into the world?

Prepare as much as you can. Make a plan on how you're going to promote the book.

Get your friends involved. If you're excited they'll be excited.

Surround yourself with inspirational people. They'll help lift you up when the going gets tough. Likewise, when they're having a bad day, you'll be able to help them.

Don't let people's negativity get you down.

Get to as many events as you can. For example, if your books features stock car racing, get to the events and talk to people. Get them interested.

Enjoy the ride!

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us this week, Rae! It's been great hearing all about your experience and your super advice for all of us here on WEbook, working hard on our own projects. We're excited for you and Mars on the Rise!

If you have any questions for Rae, leave a comment below, and we'll try to coax her back for another chat!

"Learn to Relax": Publishing Advice from Rae Gee

MarsontheRise(1)On Monday, Rae Gee shared candidly aabout how writing brought her back to life. Today she chats with us about the other reward for her dedication to her manuscript: Publication!

Mars on the Rise has just been published by Torquere Press – you must be thrilled! How did your manuscript find its way to them?

Originally I sent it as an entry to the 2011 Terry Pratchett Prize (it didn't place!). But while I was waiting for the results of that I began sending it to publishers. I started by going through the Writers and Artists Handbook and the Writers Market before finally looking for a list of LGBT publishers. I took advice from friends on how to write a query letter, as well as looking online. There were several offers and I finally decided on Torquere.

So important to really do the research – which goes back to what you said on Monday about wanting everything to happen NOW! What can you share about the editorial process with your publisher – was it painful, exciting, rewarding, upsetting…?

There were so many emotions with the editorial process. The original manuscript was 150,000 words and they wanted to get it down to below 100,000 to keep the costs down. So there was some sadness and pain at having to get rid of parts. Yet it also felt great to be re-writing parts of it and seeing it flower. At the same time, the encouragement that everyone at Torquere gave me has been wonderful and I couldn't be happier! They've really helped and supported me and I'm so thankful for that.

What surprised you most about the process of publishing – any unexpected steps along the way?

Not really! I'd spoken to a lot of friends about the publishing process, as well as reading articles (there's a lot in the Writers and Artists Handbook) so I knew that, despite my quirks for wanting everything right now that I just had to chill out and go with the flow.

What advice would you give aspiring writers eager for publication? 

Take your time.
Research who you want to send your book to. Don't just send it to every publisher you come across.
Take your time writing your query letter (there are some great templates online). Not quite clear
Edit your book before you send it, look for dropped words, missing punctuation etc. If you can get friends to proof read it as well, do that. They'll see things which you haven't.
Make sure you format it to the publisher’s guidelines. These vary from publisher to publisher and it can take a lot of time to do each revision. If you've followed their guidelines there's more chance you'll get a response.
Don't just go for the big publishers. There are many out there now, catering for everything and anything.
Look further afield. Don't think that you have to be published by a company from your country. I'm from the UK and Torquere are based in Texas.
Learn to take time out and relax.

Fantastic advice - writers, print out that list and tape it up above your desk! More to come on Friday, when Rae Gee talks about publicity in the age of social media. Scope her out ahead of time on Twitter and on Facebook!

Writing to Live Again - A Conversation with Rae Gee

BW2We're very excited about this week on the WEbook blog! Today is the first of three interviews with WEbooker and recent debut author Rae Gee, whose steampunk thriller, Mars on the Rise, was published this spring by Torquere Press. Today, Rae chats with us about her writing life.

Congratulations on your debut! Tell us a little bit about Mars on the Rise.

Thank you! Greetings from across the pond! Mars on the Rise is set in the fictional Victorian city of Svenfur during the last years of the nineteenth century. It follows improvised storyteller Cedo as he steps from the pier and into the arms of weapons manufacturer Erus Veetu. Erus has promised him fame and fortune but Cedo has to battle with his sense of what's right. He discovers that below the streets and behind the walls of Svenfur are deadly machines, slavery and human sacrifice. With  Erus supplying the weapons for the war in the East, Cedo tries to stop it from coming to the shores of England. Does he succeed? Can he penetrate Erus' cold exterior and stop the cogs and gears of progress? You'll have to read it to find out!

 Sounds thrilling! When did you first start writing?

Probably when I was in school. Apparently I've always had a vivid imagination and I was lucky enough to have a really good teacher in secondary school. She really encouraged me to go for it and get stuck in. For several years, due to my own stupidity, I didn't write a thing. I fell into a dark place, got wrapped up in drink and drugs, and it fell apart. It was only through the encouragement of some really wonderful friends that I began writing again. A couple of years ago, I sat and thought, “I can't do this any more. I really need to do something with my life” and, through various blogs and websites, began writing again. There was always that spark in there, waiting to come back to life; it just needed a helping hand from some great people.

That’s very inspiring – writing as rescue, in a way. And it’s amazing what a difference it makes to get a bit of encouragement at just the right moment. How do you fit writing into your life alongside work, friends and family, etc.?

MarsontheRise(1)With Mars on the Rise it was quite strange. It started off as a paragraph for a friend to illustrate. Yet while I was sitting on a train at Crewe station, the idea hit me. Not all in one go, but little bits. To write it I pretty much cut myself off from the world. I only went out to work or to go shopping, rarely went out with friends or did anything sociable. I realised that if it was going to happen, I had to knuckle down and get on with it. It's just great that we live in a day and age where we can communicate so easily and cheaply. My friends are really supportive, as are my family. Now that the book's out I'm starting to ease myself back into having a social life, seeing friends more often, actually going out and having fun!

That’s dedication, alright! What’s your biggest challenge as a writer, and how do you overcome it?

Thinking that everything has to be done right this instant. Obviously we want everything to happen now. We want the book to be finished yesterday. We wanted it to be published last week. I'm terrible for wanting to control every little detail and it drives me to distraction (and to at least one nervous breakdown!). Life doesn't work like that and it's taken me a long time to just sit back and enjoy the ride.

When did you join WEbook? Tell us about your experience on the site—any favorite features?

I joined Webook back in 2009 on the insistence of a couple of writer friends. They'd come across it and were really enjoying it. So I signed up and instantly fell in love! (Although I'll admit to not having used it too much as of late and, for that, I apologise!) I think my favourite features are the projects. It's great to get invites to contribute to them. Some of my favourite ones have been the 50 and 60 word challenges. On top of that I've made some really great friends through Webook as well!

Yes, we'd love to see more of you! We've got a lot of exciting new stuff in the works. But back to your work - how did you use WEbook in writing and perfecting Mars on the Rise?

I'll tell you now, if it hadn't have been for the users of Webook, Mars on the Rise would never have been finished! I'm terrible for leaving things in half-way hell. Thanks to them I kept going, kept adding to it. And it was mainly down to people leaving comments, saying how much they liked it and making suggestions. Some of the events in the book are a direct result of something someone said. It was especially great when I was stuck and wanting to give up. A message, or a comment, would turn up and that would be the push I'd need to get on with it.


Come back on Wednesday and Friday for more of our conversation with Rae - she'll talk about the publication process (oh, the mysteries!) and the importance of enthusiasm in publicizing your own work. While you're waiting, you can follow her on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook!




The Food Description Writing Contest

FoodchallengeFood. It’s enjoyable to eat, sure. It’s vital to our continued life as humans, fact. You know what else it is? It’s a great detail to add into any written scene.

A lot of writers were known for their food descriptions. Hemingway was big in to details of the Parisian food scene. Brian Jacques would sometime go on for pages about the different feasts consumed in The Redwall series. But pretty much all great writers have a knack for a well-placed meal tidbit.

Why is this? We think it’s because reading about food can easily create a physical reaction from the reader, and this makes the scene seem more real.

Call us crazy, it doesn’t matter, the latest writing challenge isn’t changing one crumb.

Write a scene (300 words max) that uses a description of food to bring the scene to life.

As usual, the type of food, actual role of the juicy description, and scope of the scene are totally up to you.

WEbook will pick the top six winners and award them free entry to PageToFame, our flagship writing contest. The #1 Food Contest Winner will win a copy of A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway

So grab a fork (and a pen/keyboard) and dig in to this writing contest

The Back Story Writing Contest Winners

20100216writingchallengeblogWe've read the stories. We've gone back with you - tread the waters of time as characters drift between the past and present (sometimes the future) during their small 300 word stages. It was a wild, fun ride. We're a little dizzy. 


#1 Honor (and recipient of a copy of Game of Thrones) goes to....

Pliny by LostViolet
This entry won top honors because of it's fresh, vibrant descriptions and perspective. When you go classical like this, there's a big pitfall by the name of "overwritten" that LostViolet deftly avoided.

And the other 5 winners (and PageToFame coupon beneficiaries) are...

Linsora and Permac by WinterDragon
This entry achieved a perfect balance between realistic character interaction and sci-fi back story. Despite including quite a bit of "new" history and information, the fact that it's conveyed through natural dialogue makes it smooth, believable, and engaging.

Bionic Baby Blue by jblane
This one had us on the edge of our reading chairs! A tense scene indeed. We also liked that this entry relied on unspoken information and action between these two characters to convey its back story.

Stems by JRBeck
This one made us smile, which always goes a long way. However, it's also got a dialogue of backbone which is never easy to do, yet still manages to set a scene, flesh out some characters, and reveal some back story in a clever way.

Could Have by M_Farris
This one convey an entire relationship between a man and a woman without every mentioning it directly. Not easy. Bravo!

The Big Pharma by sigmundsquirrel
Oh, Sigmund. So many times we judge and love an inventive, well-written entry and find out that it was written by you. This one created a world full of backs tory that we engaged with, and wanted more of in a bad way. Well done, Mr. Squirrel. 

Winners will receive prize information in their in-boxes shortly. 

The next writing contest is also freshly opened and ready for your entry. Start a new chapter in the Mother's Day Writing Contest and keep the writing fun going!

Have a writerly weekend,

The 'book

Mother's Day Writing Contest

Mother’s Day is right Shutterstock_70303954 around the corner! And if you forget, you have only yourself to blame, thanks to the commercials from florists, jewelers, and spas filling ad space from street corner to airwaves. But surely Mom is worth a little more than a card and lunch in a crowded restaurant! She did bring you into this world, after all, as well as cleaning up after you and keeping you alive for your first couple decades.

So here’s your chance to picture an ideal Mother’s Day tribute—or a celebration gone horribly wrong. Write a 300-word story in which someone gives an unusual gift to a mother, or a motherly figure (grandmother, overbearing aunt, foster mom, Mary Poppins,  stepmothers good or wicked, the choice is yours). Let your imagination run as much as your nose used to, when you were still hanging on your mother’s apron strings. 

To enter, start a new chapter in this writing project.

The deadline for this contest is 10 pm on Sunday, May 13. That’s Mother’s Day, so consider it your deadline also for calling your mom! Winners get a free entry to Page to Fame, and our very favorite entry will win a copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print.

THE FINE PRINT: Contest ends at 10 pm on May 13, 2012. WEbook does not take into account the user ratings when deciding who will win the challenge. We read each submission carefully, and decide the winners based on our own judgment. One  submission per person ( you can revise your entries up until the deadline).

The All Aboard Writing Contest Winners!

TitanicThe ships have set sail. The voyages have been made. The water has been cut. The journey has been completed. 

We noticed there was a lot of darkness aboard these entries. Don't worry, we're not squeamish, although we were a little surprised by the lack of first-half-of-Titanic-romance in the majority of the entries. No matter, they were a pleasure to read!


Silent Reminder of Our Places by Dana_Bulla - Grim, but interesting dystopian piece. We loved the inventive use of the cruise ship. Loved it so much, that we're sending you a copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print!

Beneath the Bloody Sea by CrystalRose - There's that darkness we were talking about! Yet, also an engaging, heart-wrenching story.

Under the Sun by MyMorbidFantasy - The ending took us a bit by surprise, but everything leading up to that point was full of spot-on, creative descriptions and characterizations. 

Steel Pants by SC_Benjamin - Here's some levity! We're not so sure this is a believable scene, but weare sure that isn't the point. This one made us giggle, and we are not liberal with our giggles. Nice one.

More Than A Crusade by violet_Music - A fun sci-fi approach, well-executed and tells a lot of story in the short word limit.

The Grand Illusion by JRBeck - Well-written and great hook at the end. This one really left us wanting to read more. 

Congratulations to the winners! You will receive your PageToFame coupons in your WEbook inboxes shortly. 

In case you haven't already, the Back Story Writing Contest is running full-speed ahead (and there's a copy of Game of Thrones involved). So start writing some Back Story, and have a great weekend. 



Pulitzer 2012: Love Is All You Need

The Pulitzer Prize is kind of a big deal. Awarded yearly under the administration of Columbia University’s School of Journalism, it recognizes excellence in twenty-one categories of journalism andShutterstock_1230643 the arts, bringing deserved attention to a group of writers who spend much of their careers relatively unsung. (Ever strike you as odd that even the most highly acclaimed authors can go to Starbucks, the gym, their own book event, with no fanfare whatsoever, while the Disney channel person of the week can hardly go to the mailbox without a media frenzy? Think about it…)

So the publishing world was on the edge of its seat Monday afternoon, waiting for the 3:05 pm award announcement. Authors, agents, editors, and publicists all hoping for a career-making moment. The lists went up—and the internet exploded into anxious, wounded fury, because there was no prize awarded in fiction.

That’s right. No prize. The biggest award of the bunch, the one with the power to fuel book clubs for months, keep bookstores in the red, justify an editor’s next big buy…zip, zilch, nada.  Before an hour had passed, links were flying around naming the three judges, who nominate the three finalists, and the list of jury members, who stalemated the fiction prize for the first time since 1977. Tweeters and bloggers ran their fingers ragged expressing their disappointment and analyzing what this means about—and for—publishing, American fiction, and reading itself.

But one good thing is tiptoeing around the edges of the firestorm: everyone is remembering just how important it is to acknowledge writers for their talent and hard work. The first reaction of most outraged interneters was to name books from 2011 that would merit a Pulitzer. Bookstores and book blogs gave out their own faux Pulitzers (follow hashtag #TwitterPulitzer to contribute yours!). Anyone could sit by the internet with a pen and paper and their To-Be-Read list would write itself. Publishers congratulated their winning authors in the other categories, and the three finalists are receiving a waterfall of praise from booksellers and fans; they may well see a little jump in sales and word-of-mouth marketing, even if not as much as the prize itself would have brought.

A prize of national standing is a big deal, and can bring a lot of extra opportunities. But perhaps its most important gift is that of affirmation­­—Hey writer, you’re good at this, and the sacrifices you made to bring your story to the world were worth it. Writing is a long and lonely pursuit. Winning an award says that every time you traded sleep for typing; every tear you shed letting go of favorite scenes in revision; every time you scraped together your ego after a rejection, and sent out the next query; every conversation you had about your book in a nearly empty bookstore; every blog tour you went on till your bum was numb…it was worth it. Your story is alive in the world. Readers love your book. You’re a writer. You’re an author.

And the great thing is, that’s encouragement we can give each other year round, published or aspiring, famous or undiscovered. Writers thrive on encouragement of any kind, no judge or jury needed. (Though the $10,000 prize money sure is nice.)

Let us know in the commentswhat did YOU think of the Pulitzer kerfluffle ? What book do you remember most from 2011? What kind of motivation keeps you writing?

And if you want to give some encouragement RIGHT NOW, read and rate a few Page to Fame entries. Or just hug the next writer you see.

The Back Story Writing Contest

Back Story ChallengeLast week we ran a blog post that explored George R. R. Martin’s talent for conveying back story in his fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. Good old George may have some serious skills in this department, but it’s not an easy ability to learn. 

So the WEbook writing contest this time around is all about back story. Your task: 

Write a scene (300 word maximum) with at least two characters that conveys information about a major event in the past. 

A major event can mean a lot of things: a divorce, a murder, fighting in a civil war, a really big argument that never got resolved. The list goes on. It’s really up to you how “major” the event is and how many people are involved (beyond the required two). 

It’s also up to you how much information you actually give about the event. It can be a gentle allusion or a detailed description or something in between. 

WEbook will pick our favorite 6 entries and award them free entry to PageToFame. The #1 back story master will receive a copy of Game of Thrones!

To enter, start a new chapter in this writing project. Go forth and tell your two stories!

The deadline for this contest is 10 pm on April 29, 2012.

Winners of the All Aboard Writing Contest coming soon!


Writers' Workout

Shutterstock_82313836Today's issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers included a mini-essay by famous zany journalist A.J. Jacobs, who has tried, and writen about, every outlandish life experiment, from trying to be a Mensa-level braniac to following George Washington's 110 Good Conduct rules. This time, A.J. typed away on his  manuscript while walking on a treadmill, claiming

"At first, I thought treadmill writing would be distracting. But it's actually easy (and believe me, I am far from coordinated). It's also strangely energizing: walking raises your brain's serotonin level, which helps with focus."

A.J. got us to thinking. Writing isn't exactly the most active of pursuits, but surely there are more ways to burn calories while hitting our daily word goals. We came up with a few ideas for mixing fitness into your writing regimen. Plenty of options here for techies and traditionalists hoping for a swimsuit-ready body...and maybe even a finished manuscript or two!

 Protagonist Push-Ups Every time you type your main character's name, drop to the ground beside your desk and do a push-up. 

WikiYoga Fact-checking dates for your historical novel? Reading up on the background of the Put your laptop on the ground and research in the downward-facing-dog position. For expert writers, stand on your head (all that blood flow will improve your memory for details).

Revision Reps If you still edit the old-fashioned way, red pen to paper, tie a 3-pound hand weight to the end of your Pilot Precise V-7. You'll feel the burn in your biceps and triceps with each sentence you strike through. Soon you'll see strong, uncluttered paragraphs, as well as well-developed upper arms.

Endurance Proofing More interested in tone than bulk? Print out your manuscript on really, really heavy paper stock, and pay careful attention to form while you turn each page. Breathe in, breathe out, semicolon in, comma out.

Query Zumba Right before you hit "Send" on your email to that agent you're eager to work with, put on some Latin music and sashay around for about 90 seconds. Then give your query letter a final read-through. You'll be confident and energized for whatever comes next, whether rejection or response.

Let us know if you give any of these a try, or if you have any more ideas for adding workouts to writing. Dictionary Detox? Master Criminal Crunches? Plot Twist Pilates?  Don't forget to hydrate and hyphenate, and get your sense of humor checked before beginning any new fitness routine.

Spoiler Alert! The Titanic Sinks

James Cameron

Historical fiction is a popular genre, and can be lots of fun for writers. But when you’re writing a story with a historical setting, you’re battling spoilers from the very first page. How do you keep readers invested in the story?

James Cameron faced this problem when he decided to make a movie about one of history’s most famous disasters.  And he succeeded—we all know the Titanic sinks and that only 700 of the 2200 passengers survived, yet Titanic is almost unbearably suspenseful! In fact, the movie’s dramatic appeal lasts for multiple viewings, making it the highest-grossing film of all time. And now it’s scooping in cash all over again thanks to its 3D re-release.

If only that narrative power could be bought for the price of a movie ticket and a small popcorn…wait a second, maybe it can! Here are a few of the tricks James Cameron and his writers used that you could apply to your writing.

Something’s Missing Titanic opens and closes with a present-day mystery: where is the Heart of the Ocean?  From the first scene of the submarine robots crawling through the eerie sunken ship, the story is built around a search. Why wasn’t the necklace in the safe? Where is it, who has it, how did it get there? Although not the movie’s central dramatic tension, new questions are introduced and unanswered throughout the movie, keeping the audience hooked until the final scenes. 

Young Love Poor Rose – so beautiful and privileged, and her fiancé is such a jerk! Then, she sails on the ship of the ages and meets a feisty young lad who won’t let his disadvantaged life get him down. Romance is a storyteller’s not-so-secret weapon. We love Jack before Rose does, and are deeply interested as their love blooms. Will Jack be embarrassed at dinner? Will Rose obey her mother’s command to stay away from him? Will they ever, ever kiss?? Even before the iceberg, Cameron has us clutching our throats.

Conflicting Hopes Clearly Jack and Rose are meant for each other, and obviously her fiancé is a nightmare. But because the strict social mores of the era are so vivid in the story, we’re also really worried that the stiff angry valet will catch the unlikely lovers in compromising circumstances. What will happen to Rose’s reputation? How will she and her mother avoid bankruptcy if Cal breaks the engagement? Drama!

Make the Spoiler Your Slave A good storyteller can make the how as gripping as a story with an unknown ending. The frame tale establishes Rose as a survivor, with the well-known historical facts feeding into the suspense. And she almost doesn’t make it about a thousand times during the movie. She’s trapped in steerage with Jack! She’s looking for an ax! She’s trapped in steerage again! There are no more lifeboats! Through each close call, the audience, fully engaged, is anxious to see how this one gets solved, and with each escape, the emotional investment grows.

Supporting Characters This one also works with the spoiler instead of fighting it. We all know the captain goes down with the ship, the band plays into the waves, and the Unsinkable Molly Brown, well, doesn’t sink. Cameron introduces us to other characters and makes us care about them—or at least care about what happens to them. You’re probably hoping Rose’s hateful fiancé Cal bites the ice, but do Jack’s friends Fabrizio and Tommy make it to safety? Odds are against them. And you feel a sad pang when you see the ship’s distinguished, kind, and heroic builder stand sadly in the elegant dining room of the ship he built during the final moments. Though we see Rose’s mother on a lifeboat early, most of these characters are fighting for survival until the very end.

If you’ve faced the spoiler challenge in your writing, tell us about it! How have you battled—or exploited—your story’s historical setting? Have you borrowed anything from Cameron’s tool box (and we don’t mean 3D glasses)? Leave a comment and tell us about it! 

And now that you’ve got what it takes to one-up Cameron, try your hand at our All Aboard! Writing contest (less than a week left!).


[Photo credit: Featureflash /]




Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire, and the Hidden Genius of George R. R. Martin’s Storytelling

GameofthronesWith the first episode of season two of Game of Thrones premiering on HBO last Sunday, the world of Westeros has been pretty hot recently. Water coolers across the US were overwhelmed with talk of dragons, Craster’s Keep, and how big Rob’s direwolf has gotten.

Beyond that, talk also strayed to the book series the show is based on—A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. I’ve noticed two camps, those who have read the books and watch the series, and those who have only done the latter. Both seem to enjoy the series in different ways, but comments like “Oh, but you have to read the books,” inevitably slip into conversation when the two groups cross paths. And inevitably, you hear the sales pitches for why the books are so good:

“He just fleshes out so many more characters in the books.”

“It’s fantasy, but it’s so realistic.”

“The perspective changes are amazing.”

“He’s not afraid to kill off characters. Nobody is safe.”

These are all great reasons to read the books (and in some cases, also to watch the series) but there’s one element of GRRM’s storytelling I’ve noticed usually gets left out of these “water-cooler” conversations:

Blending back story with action.

Anyone’s who’s ever tried to write something has struggled with back story. It’s a pain. You need the reader to know information that’s happened in the past—people who have been in love, wars that have been fought, feuds burning below the surface—but you don’t want to slow down the present action.

A Song of Ice and Fire has more back story in twenty pages than some novels have in their entirety, and GRRM juggles this information like the master storyteller he is. He melds back story with action through a variety of means. Characters remember scenes and moments that are similar or related to the situation they’re currently in, other times two characters talk about a third character candidly, and some characters even relive past events in their dreams.

But George’s most effective strategy—his bread-and-butter of back story, if you will—is tucked between lines of dialogue and small mannerisms. It’s the events characters allude to but don’t ever state outright, the tensions between them that they dance around, and the veiled insults that mean more to them than they do to the reader. For now.

To me, this is one of my favorite parts of reading A Song of Ice and Fire—experiencing a story that’s evolving from two directions and getting richer and more interesting with every page. I can’t wait for the next episode (or the next book!).  

But what about you? What’s your favorite part of A Song of Ice and Fire?

And just as a not so subtle heads-up, there might be a back-story element to the next WEbook writing contest coming on April 15th.

If you can’t wait that long, the All Aboard Writing Contest is still sailing strong!

Have a great weekend!


Six-Word Story Writing Contest Winners!

Keep it short imageWe were thrilled to receive so many creative entries to our Six-Word Story contest! Perhaps the age of Twitter has honed your skills in the brevity department.

Our number-one criterion was for the entries to tell a complete story in just six words, not needing a title or the prompt to set the scene. Still it was tough to choose just six winners out of nearly 300 stories…so we didn’t! We cheated on our own rules and picked seven, plus some honorable mentions. ‘Hope you don’t mind too much. 


Spilled white out erased his life. by KRHolbrook
A  vivid reminder that characters depend on the writer for their existence, which could be very tenuous in the pre-digital era. (What’s the modern equivalent?)  

Into the wedding dress, he wept. by tk_omalley
Love how this one makes a single, heartbreaking scene so vivid, like snapping a picture.

Batman: flying rodent exterminator. Call now! by Cazza3000
Made us chuckle – who would Batman think he was if all he had was a name?

Fixed machine. Goodbye cellphones, hello dinosaurs. by ChelseaHaynes
We applaud this one for being complete, yet ambiguous - with the prompt off the page, the meaning of “machine” expands.

I kissed Anna, and whispered, "Jane." by jwryt
Endlessly intriguing. Mistake or mourning? Jane Doe or Jane Eyre? We’d love to read a Six-Word Sequel… 

Loving stagnation, Erica jumps into pictures by JudahSpecal
Not quite sure which prompt sparked this one—is Erica an author? A character? A superhero? A lovelorn lady with a weakness for boring relationships? Who knows, but who needs to know. This one is so engaging that it wins a copy of Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure, edited by Rachel Fershleiser and Larry Smith.

And, because we loved its dark humor that much, we decided to give away a bonus copy to this edgy riff on Hemingway’s original:
New baby for sale. Needs shoes.
by Waxwing

Congratulations, winners! You’ll be hearing from us with details on claiming your prizes. In the meantime, here’s a list of ten honorable mentions that win fame and glory.

Mayan deadline's here. Sun won't set. by emergen

My underpants on the outside. Why? by Riis_Marshall

Fractured phalange; manuscript overdue. Help wanted. by Southerner

Control my characters? That is fantasy. by Peetz

I got used to wearing togas. by May_Winner

Breasts of plastic, heart of gold. by NobodysHorse

Went back. Killed Mother. Return impossible. by Leo1

Writer's block? Hit head here. rf98ifeoghiodkifg8ty9ihu by M_Farris

Sorry, my dog always comes first. by Jvd9

Types last word. Pause. Ctrl-A, delete. by AreannaLuckett

Need still more six-word fun? Leave a comment – tell us which one was YOUR favorite, or write a new one of your own. And if you’re feeling long-winded, enter our new contest: write a 6+294-word story inspired by the Titanic’s 100th anniversary.


All Aboard! Writing Contest

TitanicTitanic – it’s coming back to theatres in irresistible 3D, meaning we’re all going to drown once more in Rose and Leo’s doomed love, not to mention Celine Dion’s unavoidable ballad.  And what oddly perfect timing, after recent cruise disasters like the Costa Allegra, which was stranded in the Indian Ocean after catching fire, and the Costa Concordia's tragic grounding and capsizing off Italy's Tuscan coast.

So we’re thinking, there’s got to be more stories than just an Irish immigrant and a privileged young lady. It’s time to tell them!

For our next challenge, write a 300-word story set on a cruise ship. Tragedy on the RMS Titanic? Culinary adventure on a lush Caribbean vacation? Sunburn? Man overboard? Let your imagination set sail! Break a bottle over the prow of inspiration. Launch your sentences boldly out to sea…ok, we’ll stop with the naval puns, it’s time to WRITE! 

Back to the usual 300-word limit on this one, and the deadline is 10 PM EST on April 15, 2012—in Titanic terms, that’s one week after the movie re-premieres, and one day after the 100th anniversary of the sinking. WEbook will choose our six favorite winners and award them free entry to PageToFame, our flagship writing contest, and one exceptional entry will receive a copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print.

To enter, start a new chapter in this writing project. All aboard!

THE FINE PRINT: Contest ends at 10 pm on April 15, 2012. WEbook does not take into account the user ratings when deciding who will win the challenge. We read each submission carefully, and decide the winners based on our own judgment. One  submission per person ( you can revise your entries up until the deadline).

The Building Description Writing Contest Winners

20100216writingchallengeblogReading through these was an awesome experience. So many buildings, so many worlds, and so many people moving around inside them!

If we were artists, we would  have drawn each building and made a massive collage of amazing structures.Alas, we are not, so we'll be picking winners and awarding prizes! 

#1 winner who will be getting a copy of Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley:

Dispatch to King Racc by simonmabee
This is straight up badass writing. Crisp descriptions, imaginative perspective, and all of it grounded with an image of a house you will never forget. All hail King Racc!

Winners who will receive free entry to PageToFame!

The Pit of Despair by J_Hucke 
This was written with a stunningly realistic adolescent voice. It also incorporated a large amount of complicated socioeconomic issues without ever addressing them head-on. Really great. Plus, we want to know what happens when he opens the door!

Bellmore by Michelle4Laughs
This entry had two great assets: solid research of castle structure and a larger, engaging story tying the scene together. Murder holes, a portcullis, and a quest to save a sister. Hell yes. 

House in the Woods by TheChemist
More than any other entry, this one gave us a sense of color. Color you can see and taste and feel and remember. Moreover, the last line is as enthralling as it gets when you're describing inanimate objects.

The Biffy by Atrees 
Vivid, irresistible, well-done borrowing rhythm from poetry without losing the strong prose.

The Event by SamTaylor
Here's a guy that knows how to pick adjectives. Putrid, decay, tormented, blackened. This is dark stuff, but also engaging. Nice.

Congratulations to the winners, you'll receive your prizes soon. 

Be on the lookout for the next writing contest on Monday. Let's just say, this will be an unsinkable challenge.

If you need something to do right this instant, check out the entries to the Six-word Story writing contest. They're really good.

Have a great weekend!

Six-Word Story Writing Contest

Keep it short imageIn their famous book of guidance for great writing, William Strunk and E.B. White (yes, THAT E.B. White!) offered writers the following great advice: Omit needless words.

Well, who are we to argue? So our next writing contest is meant to challenge your powers of concise expression. Concise expression. Six words, to be exact.

We’ve all heard Ernest Hemingway’s well-known six-word memoir: For sale: baby shoes, never worn. Now it’s your turn. Choose one of the prompts below and, in six words—no more, no fewer—tell us a story. (Don't worry, Ernest won't be your competition.)

  • Your time machine is finally working.

  • A writer’s life is never simple.

  • Superhero with amnesia looks for work.

  • Why am I always getting dumped?

We'll be tweeting entries during the contest, so include your Twitter handle with your entry! Our six favorites will earn free entry to PageToFame, our flagship writing contest, and one lucky winner will receive Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure, a collection edited by Rachel Fershleiser.

To enter the contest, create a new chapter in the Six-Word Story Writing Contest. Good luck!

THE FINE PRINT: Contest ends at 10 pm on March 18, 2012. WEbook does not take into account the user ratings when deciding who will win the challenge. We read each submission carefully, and decide the winners based on our own judgment. Just in case you love all our prompts, we’ll allow two submissions per person for this contest only (as usual, you can revise your entries up until the deadline).

 P.S. Don’t forget to check us out on Pinterest for Writing Contest Inspiration!

The OK Cupid Writing Contest Winners

20100216writingchallengeblogIt's been a few weeks since Valentine's Day, so that bouquet of flowers may be starting to wilt a bit (or be completely dead if you didn't water them); however, a little bit of love lives on through the winners of the OK Cupid writing contest. Here they are--the masters of desire, the puppeteers of passion, the lords of love. Winners!

Always Something Doing by sigmundsquirrel  
Gripping and hard-boiled, with a historical setting that is authentic without feeling dated - this narrator left us wanting the next piece of the story! 

A Connoisseur, Of Sorts by jblane
Great poetry in this piece that movingly describes the love that never leaves you - just wait till you learn the identity of the beloved lady! The author's descriptive powers bring every sense to life. 

Trying on Sweaters by JayneGrey 
Smart and sweet, in the grand romantic tradition of our favorite sassy chick-flicks. Boys may be boys, but some of them understand how true love fits. 

Borders by Eloquent_MJ
What if Romeo and Juliet were separated by far more than just their family's prejudice? This story sets a contemporary pair star-crossed lovers under literal stars, experiencing the small squabbles of a relationship amid a larger and suspenseful obstacle to their love.

A Secret Admirer's Worst Nightmare by AreannaLuckett
This story captures the tension, excitement, and agony of your first big love with measured realism, and does an excellent job of incorporating several months of back story into one pivotal scene. 

Keeping Tabs by Jvd9
Sometimes the only cure for heartbreak is finding a new love - sometimes who you least expect! This story skillfully avoids sentimentalism by describing the new object of devotion through insinuation. 

Congratulations to the winners! You will receive your PageToFame coupons in your WEbook in-box soon.

If you didn't win, don't go home with a broken heart just yet. We've extended the deadline for the Building Description Writing Contest, so try your hand at describing a structure! 

Ten Things You Didn’t Know about John Corey Whaley

We’re totally proud of John Corey Whaley, the WEbooker who found an agent through AgentInbox…and then got a book deal with Atheneum, leading to the May 2010 release of Where Things Come Back. Corey's debut earned him recognition all over town—he might not be Kardashian-famous just yet, but he did scoop up the American Library Association's William C. Morris Debut Award, and ALA's Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. Kind of a big deal.

We caught up with Corey on his most recent trip to New York City, to chat about how much has happened in his career since he first clicked on to a little writers’ community called WEbook. We heard about recent excitement, like when the National Book Foundation named him to their Five Under Thirty-Five list, and upcoming fun, like going on tour with Daniel Handler and Maggie Stiefvater later this spring. Turns out, iced caramel macchiatos just might be his truth serum, because we also learned a whole lot more.  

 John Corey Whaley…you think you know…but you have no idea.

  1. He loves going to birthday parties.

  2. When he gives author readings, he doesn’t usually read from his work – he tells jokes instead.

  3. He can name the ten largest cities in the country.

  4. He judges books by their covers and their titles.

  5. It takes him about five weeks to write a book. (Yeah. We kind of hate him, too. Just a little bit, just for a second.)

  6. Even though he writes YA fiction now, he spent his actual teenage years reading Vonnegut, Salinger, and Chbosky.

  7. He thinks sex in books should be funny, not dreamy.

  8. He loves Strand Books in New York City (but who doesn’t?!).

  9. He worked at a library in high school.

  10. He loves public speaking, but advises against picturing the audience in their underwear.

While it’s clear that Corey is enjoying life on the other side of the Printz Award, he’s not taking his success lightly. “Writing is so much fun for me. Finding a character, putting that character’s story together – it’s just fun. And I get to do that as my job! I’m like a kid in a candy store. And I’m eating all the candy.” And though he didn’t plan his career to be a YA author, he considers it something of a noble task. “When you ask someone what book changed their life, they always name something they read when they were a teenager. And that’s really an honor, to be the one putting books out there that might have that impact on someone.”

Corey’s second novel is currently pegged for Fall 2013. In the meantime, two lucky WEbookers won signed copies of Corey’s amazing Where Things Come Back by participating in our recent giveaways (are you following us on Twitter? Don’t miss out!)  

And we’re giving a copy to the winner of our latest Writing Challenge – we're extending it to this Friday, March 2, so get writing! You could be the next proud owner of a signed Whaley.  

The Building Description Writing Contest

20100216writingchallengeblogWhen you’re reading a book, it’s easy to take a good description for granted. After all, if a description is doing its job, the reader shouldn’t notice the words as much—they should see whatever is being described.

The thing is, those “spot on” descriptions that instantly conjure a detailed and vivid image into the mind’s eye are both time-consuming and difficult to write. Describing people, places, trees, fields, cars, and buildings are all hard, especially when the descriptions are mixed around with dialogue, plot, themes, and all that other stuff.

So, why not practice? We’re going to narrow things down a bit just to keep things focused. For this writing contest, you must describe a building in 300 words or less.

The-building-challengeIt can be any building you want, described from any point of view.  A child looking at a barn. An omniscient narrator exploring an entire castle. As long as it’s a manmade structure, you’re golden.

The deadline for this writing contest is 10 PM EST on February 29th, 2012 March 2, 2012 (just extended thanks to John Corey Whaley!). WEbook will choose our six favorite winners and award them free entry to PageToFame, our flagship writ ing contest.

The #1 winner will receive an autographed copy of Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley (you may have heard of him around WEbook). 

To enter the contest, start a new chapter in this writing project



Where Things Come Back Book Giveaway Winners

WtcbsealscopyThe comments have been cast. 

The hashtags have been written. 

The tweets have been sent. 

The winners have been chosen. 

And they are:

From the blog comments: Julia Uribe

From the twitter hashtag: @NewCallieAnn

Congratulations to the winners, we will be in touch shortly to send you your copies of Where Things Come Back. Thanks to everyone who entered this book giveaway, be on the lookout for more opportunities to win books from us, we love giving them away!  

In the meantime, if you're looking for something to do, we currently have a writing contest going on and the deadline to submit is 10 pm on February 14th. This one has some romance in the air, so if you're feeling some of the love vibes, try your hand at the contest

WEbook Giveaway: The Twitter Chapter

Where-Things-Come-Back-1-199x300You may have noticed (although it seems like a lot of people didn't) that you can also win a copy of John Corey Whaley's award winning book, Where Thing Come Back, by throwing down a hashtag on twitter. 

It's our first Twitter book giveaway, so help us wrangle this newfangled tweet machine: Send out a tweet that includes the hashtag #congratsJCW and you will be automatically entered to win a copy of Where Things Come Back

Don't forget, you can also post a comment on this blog post, and double your chances of winning.

So what are you waiting for?

UPDATE: The Deal has Sweetened!

The books given away will be signed copies from the big man himself, Corey Whaley! Thanks for doing that JCW!

Book Giveaway to Celebrate John Corey Whaley, winner of the Michael L. Printz Award

Some of you WEbookers who have been around the block a bit will remember a fellow by the name of John Corey Whaley—the first author to find an agent using AgentInbox.

WtcbsealscopyAfter connecting with all-star literary agent Ken Wright in the fall of 2009, Corey went on to live every debut author’s dream. His novel—Where Things Come Back—was picked up by Atheneum Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, in early 2010. We covered John’s path to publication over the next year  and on May 3, 2011, Where Things Come Back was published.

Since that big day, Corey and his novel have received numerous accolades, including a New Voices for Teens Selection by ABC Children’s Group, a nomination for Best Fiction for Young Adults by the American Library Association, and an Indigo Books and Music Best Teen Books of 2011.

 Most recently, Corey received the prestigious Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature—one of the highest honors available to Young Adult authors!

Where-Things-Come-Back-1-199x300We were thrilled to hear the great news. It seems like not so long ago we were filming videos of Corey from his kitchen in Louisiana, and now he’s winning literary awards for his amazing novel. It has been a truly great journey to witness.

We touched based with Corey and asked him about the moment he heard about the award. He said:

"When I got the call that I'd won the Printz Award, I was driving down the interstate and had to pull over on the side of the road to avoid causing a massive pile-up. It was the best, most dangerous news I've ever received."

We’re so glad you survived the news. Congratulations, Corey! Can’t wait to see where you fly to next!

If you haven't read Where Things Come Back, you're in luck. To celebrate Corey's win, we're giving away a free copy of his book to a lucky reader of this blog. Simply shout out a quick congratulations to Corey in the comments section, and be entered to win a free copy of Where Things Come Back from WEbook.   

We'll pick a commenter at random and announce the winner on February 13!

UPDATE: The Deal has Sweetened!

The books given away will be signed copies from the big man himself, Corey Whaley! Thanks for doing that JCW!

The High School Writing Contest Winners

20100216writingchallengeblogLike we said in the challenge description, high school is a time rife with struggle, new experiences, and the desire for things to be different. Almost all of the entries to this challenge tapped in to those dramatic elements in some way—and it was a pleasure to read through them. For some WEbook staff, our high school years occurred…some time ago. Yet these entries had us right back in those hallways, among those lockers, and sitting in those desks.

It wasn’t always pleasant. But it made us feel something.


Corruption by Eloquent_MJ

Besides tight and specific writing, this entry delves into the myth of high school. The perception of how things "should" be. A lot of budding youths believe in that myth, and a lot of them wind of disillusioned. It's a sad truth, but it is the truth.

closure by RawkinParadox

We loved the symbolism of the character's names in this entry. A high school romance ending not with a bang, but a whimper, the author captures the quiet, lingering pain of first heartbreak, suggesting the important growing experience it often can be. 

Getting To Know You by Nekrostelos

Talk about your twist endings! This one started out as a traditional, albeit well-written, high school romance...and then dared to go beyond sweet high school love. The shock at the end is delivered subtly - this is one that sticks with you. 

Stretching Fashion by JayneGrey

Not only did this entry take us back to high school, it took us back to the eighties. That's always a good thing. This entry also illustrated a key high school behavior: caring so much about one (insignificant) thing, that you lose total perspective on everything else. Whether it's a pair of jeans, a video game, or a girl's attention, things had a way of getting blown out of proportion in those years.

See Me After Class by J_Hucke

This entry tackles a difficult subject - domestic abuse - with courage and compassion. This one is also told through dialogue, and conveys the intense emotion of the situation powerfully, stopping just short of melodrama. 

Prometheus by KenWebb

Unless you've worked as a teacher, it's easy to forget they're real people. We're not trying to be mean, but it's easy to remember high school and think of teachers givers of tests and lectures, and not much else. But they were students too, once. They have good days and bad days. Regrets. Mistakes. They have whole lives that most students never know, hear, or care about. This entry made is remember that.

Honorable Mention

Corndog by simonmabee

Congratulations to the winners! You will receive your PageToFame coupons shortly.

If you didn’t win, chin up. There’s another writing contest afoot, a love is in the air. The “OK Cupid” writing contest is open for submissions. So, dig into your romantic side and write a love scene



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