November's NaNoWriMo WEbook Challenge - The Winners!

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month to give it the official title, was the inspiration behind our November challenge. In its honour we thought that we would add just a little bit of extra spice to our monthly competition, rewarding the winner with not only an iPad mini but also the chance to work alongside the WEbook team to publish their complete novel.

We were after 500-750 words of your best work and, as the competition brief stated, we were happy to give you free reign over the genre as long as we were given a brilliant narrative, epic turns of phrase and convincing characterisation. We wanted to be overwhelmed, we wanted to be begging for more, we wanted to be on tenterhooks, desperate to discover what comes next, or, what came before.

With such a huge prize on offer everyone certainly brought their A-game to this one and it took us a little longer than usual to decide upon our winner. Finally, however, the WEbook team reached a conclusion and we are very pleased to award the accolade to...

The Nothing Blonde by sigmundsquirrel


We should add incidentally that we cut The Nothing Blonde to the specified 750 words and any words over this allotted limit were strictly discounted.

There were at least half a dozen or so entries that made our very competitive long-list but after much deliberation the following five won through to be our highly-commended runners-up.

Salvage by Ernest_Lee
Between by EddieTol
In which Solomon Fierce receives an offer he can't refuse by Sprayoncrayon
The Visit by WSolomon
Lost Souls by LOSTVIOLET

Congratulations to all our winners. Don't forget there are still a few more days left to enter our Christmas challenge where you can have another chance to win an iPad mini and showcase your work. If there are loads of great entries, we may even decide to publish a Christmas story collection! Good luck!

WEbook is Being Featured in This Month's Edition of the Contemporary Publishing Magazine!

The bourgeoning success of our recently published WEbook titles has been attracting media attention from across the globe.

This is great news for our authors, but it's also brilliant news for the WEbook community as a whole because more attention means more members, and more members means a better and more active WEbook for everyone!

The Contemporary Publishing Magazine is published by Authoright, a marketing company which is working some real magic on getting our WEbooks out there and in the public sphere - we've been mailing out review copies of all of our WEbook titles from the office this week, and we're looking forwards to some sterling reviews from bloggers, magazines and newspapers from both the US and the UK, in the New Year.

We will of course keep you all updated on the reviews as they happen... but perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of this is that you, the WEbook community, are the first people to know about these titles - you have the inside scoop! You know all the authors, and we're sure that many of you have had a helping hand in their development from idea to book.

We'd also love for you to let us know what you think of the WEbook titles once you've finished reading them yourself!

To read the article, follow this link:


The WEbook Team

How Does Community Writing and Feedback in Online Forums Benefit Teenage Authors?

Recently, Heather Birch, contacted us here at WEbook to find out if she could ask the community to volunteer information about themselves and their writing habits for her research survey.

Heather's research project aims to examine the experience of high school students as they submit pieces of their creative writing to online communities in order to receive feedback on their writing. This sounded so up WEbook's street, that we've encouraged Heather to post a link to her survey on the Water Cooler area of the forums here.

We had a quick chat to Heather to find out some more about what inspired her to undertake this research and what she thinks that the outcome of her research will show:

WEbook: Hi Heather. Could you tell us how far you've got with your project and what you plan to do with your findings?

Heather Birch: I have collected some data and come to some preliminary findings, but I am still looking for more participants to complete the survey so that I can gather a wider range of data. Once I've completed my project, I hope to present my research at the Canadian Society for the Study of Education Conference in May 2014, and then have the article published in an academic journal.

WB: That sounds really exciting Heather, could you give us a bit of background about the project, and about yourself too?

HB: I live in Niagara Falls, Canada, and have been a teacher for 14 years. I have taught Kindergarden though 8th grade, and mostly in the subjects of Drama, Music, Dance and the Visual Arts. I finished my Masters at the University of Toronto earlier this year, with a focus on using technology to facilitate student motivation and student learning. My research interests include connected learning, ramification of learning, assessment of learning and knowledge media design.

WB: What inspired you to look to online writing communities to widen your pool of research?

HB: My own teenage daughter is a writer, and she is and has been a part of four different online writing communities, including WEbook. Her involvement piqued my interest in what potential benefits such communities can have on writing ability and self-efficacy. I am currently taking a course at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) called 'Teaching Writing in the Classroom', and for a course project I decided to tackle the question of whether what happens in online writing communities can inform the practice of teaching within classrooms.

WB: What have you discovered so far about the connection between community writing and the development of people's writing?

HB: Well, the question is a tough one because the people who post to online writing communities do so voluntarily, the writing they post is not generally writing they've done in school, but rather writing they have done in their own time. In classrooms they are likely to be reluctant writers. Yet I am interested in how the sense of community that is established, and the range of perspectives available in an online writing community help to facilitate writing - one survey respondent indicated that she writes a lot more since being part of an online community.

WB: How do you think that this research can be used to encourage younger people to write more?

HB: I am interested, not only in how it can be used by teachers to take ideas from what happens in an online writing community and apply them in their writing classrooms, but how in fact, teachers might wither use online writing communities, or even set up their own, in order to maximise feedback on student writing, and provide a variety of perspectives and reader responses to student writing.

WB: Thanks for taking the time to explain this to all of us here at WEbook, Heather. We hope that you are able to get some really great research data from our community, and all the best of luck with your research project.

If you would like some more information about Heather and how her research is going, take a look at her website and blog:

The WEbook Team

WEbook's NaNoWriMo November Writing Challenge - A Judging Update

In November, we decided to set you all the challenge to write the best first or last chapter of a book... and just wow, you've done us proud WEbook!

The winner of this challenge will not only be the owner of a brand new iPad Mini, but they may also have the opportunity to become a WEbook published author. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, we had an overwhelmingly huge response to this exciting challenge and as usual we have had some absolutely outstanding entries! 

With over 100 entries to judge this month, and with the stakes being so high, we want to make sure that we do the best, and of course fairest, job of judging all the entries. 

This will mean that there may well be a longer than usual gap in between the close of the challenge, and the winner being announced. We're working tirelessly hard, day and night, day in day out to judge all of the entries. So don't fret if you've submitted your entry to the challenge, just rest assured that we're doing our very best to make sure that we're 100% sure who our winner will be this month. Perhaps to keep you distracted, you could spend the time crafting your next submission for the December Challenge... 

If you haven't already had a look at what it's all about - you'll be excited to hear that we've got another publication challenge up for grabs again this month - along with that ever-coveted iPad Mini! 

So, in 500-2,000 words, we want you to create an alternative version of the traditional Christmas story - you must keep to the original characters, but how they behave, where they are and how events unfold are up to you... (on a sensible note, let's be respectful with what we write - whatever you believe, remember that Christmas is a beautiful time of year for many different people)

The only stipulation for this challenge is that you keep to the 500-2,000 words. Who knows, if we feel there's more to the story, we may ask you to develop it and we'll publish it. Or, if there are loads of great entries (there usually are!) then we thought that we might publish a collection of all the best stories; a WEbook Christmas, anyone?!

So, good luck to all of the submissions for the November Challenge, we'll keep you all updated on our judging progress and another round of good luck to those submitting an entry to the December Challenge!

The WEbook Team

Who's Your Literary Inspiration?

Literary inspiration is all around us - we find it sweeping through the night sky, hiding behind secret doors, and prancing through autumnal fields... Each of these influences are then characterised and developed in our personal writing style by the authors that we hold as our own inspiration.

But who did these authors who influence us so heavily rely on for inspiration themselves? And do you, in being influenced by one author, subliminally become influenced by their influencer?
Circles of Influence

An Interview with WEbook's October Challenge Winner - ZanneP

In October we set our WEbook members a writing challenge to celebrate Hallowe'en.  This was the first challenge where we offered an iPad mini to our winning author... unsurprisingly, the submission response was overwhelming! 

We had such a diverse variety of brilliant entires, which made it incredibly difficult to choose a winner - not to mention the fact that our judges were suffering with such vivid nightmares from reading all your spooky tales, that it was hard to get them to recount the best to us without falling into a gibbering heap! - But, after much deliberation it was clear to everyone that one entry stood above the rest. 

Not only did it fill the challenge brief perfectly, but it wowed us with it's unique and transfixing style of prose - this month's winner was:

Our winner - ZanneP

Zanne was kind enough to have a chat with us about the story, her inspiration behind it and the process she goes through as a writer...

WEbook: Congratulations on being selected as the winner of our October challenge Zanne! Could you tell us about what inspired you to write your winning submission, Luna's Reaper?

Zanne: First of all, a huge thank you for choosing my story to be the winning submission. There were many other fabulous entries and it’s amazing – not to mention a great honour – to have been considered up there amongst them. So having still not quite got over the shock of winning, I can tell you I have absolutely no idea at all where it came from. It just kind of evolved.  That image of the moon reflected in the water was the starting point, the same as in the story. I love how light has this utterly magical effect on even the most hideous pile, but it was only on reaching the end that the fracturing of the souls part stared me in the face and was a bit of a eureka moment. Keeping the writing in the style of the opening, or at least close enough for it not to be too jarring for the reader also got me in the groove.

WB: Do you think that this is part of a story that you would like to continue writing into a full-length book?

ZP: Not really, because I think what differentiates a short story from a scene from something longer is that it is complete in itself. My intention was to tell a ‘complete’ story.

WB: Luna's Reaper is told from the point of view of the Reaper's victim - could you give us more of an insight into the background of the characters?

ZP: That’s an interesting question. The characters are deliberately nameless and by the same token almost without individuality. It’s more about the taking of something important by someone who is all-powerful from someone who has no power to prevent it. The relationship between them is vague and ambiguous, and also turns the tables by having a woman overpowering a man to take something valuable from him.

WB: The way in which you describe and set the scene for Luna's Reaper is absolutely stunning and encapsulating for the reader. How do you approach the construction of your scenes when sitting down to write? Do you take inspiration from things you see around you or is it constructed from images within your mind?

ZP: Both I think – the images in my mind are basically things I’ve seen because my background is in Fine Art so I’m always looking at stuff. When starting to write something, the scene is vividly clear in my head, but my aim is to suggest a scene rather than describe it absolutely. The interpretation by the reader plays the most important part.

WB: How long have you been writing for?

ZP: a child, my sister owned a book written and illustrated by a 10 year old. We would rubbish the thing, although I was secretly rather impressed. Anyway, my sister pronounced that even I – meaning my six-year-old self – would be able to do better. That was a challenge not to be ignored so I’ve been trying on and off ever since to emulate the success of that particular 10 year old by getting something what-I-wrote published. And I continue to try...

WB: What is your favourite genre to write in?

ZP: Normally teen fiction, but so far, I’ve not submitted any for the challenges as they're meant to be a challenge, aren't they?

WB: How long have you been a member of WEbook and what is your favourite aspect of the site?

ZP: I joined WEbook way back in 2008 when it was a completely different place. My favourite aspect has to be the people. Not everyone will agree with my entry winning but people have been unbelievably gracious to me since and I’m very grateful for that, as there can be a tendency to forget that there’s a real person behind the avatar sometimes. Having said that, I value honest crit. There’s a special relationship between a writer and his or her inner editor. In my case, I’ve learned to respect my inner editor, but it hasn’t always been so as the former used to definitely overpower the latter. It’s only because reviewers have had the courage and the insight to offer honest crit, effectively helping me understand what my inner editor is.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us Zanne - and congratulations again on being our October Challenge winner! 

If you think you could be our next winner, submit your Challenge entry into our November Challenge - this month it's in honour of NaNoWriMo and it's up to you to wow us with your best beginning or ending chapter.... If you are good enough to become our November winner, not only could you win an iPad Mini, but you could also have the opportunity to become our next WEbook Author! 

The WEbook Team

The First WEbooks Have Been Printed!!

WEbook has come a long way in recent months…

Not only have we completely re-designed and re-launched the site itself, but we’ve also taken a bold step into uncharted territories… we are doing what many members always thought we should – we are making the publication of WEbook books a reality.

We are now proud to be able to say that we are a publisher. We publish and we print real WEbooks, by real WEbook members, for the world to buy through our WEbook store!

Not only are we now a publisher, but we’ve got a simply brilliant range of titles on the way – Broken by Kimberley Reeves, The Shadow Spy by Robert Lance, House of Thistles by Lanette Kauten, Camp 417 by FinneanNilsen Projects, Lifelights by AlinaVoyce, Dasvidaniya Rodina by D.S.Loren, Chaos Unleashed by AlecSillifant, Moonfall by Vanessa Morton and last, but certainly not least, Skunge by Jeff Barr.

‘“On the way?” haven’t they been saying that for ages?’

Well yes we have, but there’s a good reason for that – we’ve been trying to find the best way that we can supply WEbook titles to the store, to our customers and to our authors. We went through a lot of different options, but because the last thing that we wanted to do was compromise on quality we decided that the best way to print our titles was to find a POD printer that outshone all the others. 

We searched high and low before deciding upon CPI’s Antony Rowe. Not only is Antony Rowe perhaps the happiest factory we have ever come across - think Santa’s elves but without the silly hats and operating much heavier machinery - but it’s also a place where we know that the quality of our WEbooks is assured.

 But what’s POD?

We’re glad you asked – POD is short for ‘Print on Demand’ – this means that we are able to print our titles only when someone wants to have one. Not only is this great for the environment, but it’s also nice on everyone’s pockets - including the customers’. When someone makes a purchase from the wonderful new WEbook store, a very complicated piece of code sends a message to Anthony Rowe.

Their machines whirr into action; the book is printed, bound, packaged, and sent out directly to the customer!

Easy as ABC… or is it?

This week, we took a trip down to Eastbourne where Antony Rowe is based to see our very first WEbook title come hot off the press!

The Factory Floor at Antony Rowe

The Making of the Very First WEbook Book

To make any book, there are a number of important stages that the book-to-be (or paper) has to go through before it’s ready to be shipped off and delivered to its eagerly 
awaiting reader. Each book is made specifically for each individual order, so when you order a WEbook think about it going through this process - especially for you!

To begin with, the inside of the book is printed onto individual A3 sheets of paper, prepared as blocks. The blocks of paper you can see in the picture were fed into the machine, and all of the wonderful words written by our WEbook authors printed onto the paper - which then became the pages of our very first WEbook!

Cleverly, and thanks to some seriously snazzy technology, every sheet of paper is given its own individual barcode, which is scanned at each stage of production – so there is never a chance of anything getting lost...

So, now that all the pages were printed, it's on to the cover!

To make the cover, Anthony Rowe use a really special piece of kit called an iGen 3 – this printer is so special that it’s kept locked away in a sealed room - and only a select few are allowed inside… (The WEbook team were lucky enough to be some of those people for the day!)

The iGen 3 then printed out the cover for our book, which was then laminated as we’d requested – clever!

(If you look closely at the picture below you can see some of those barcodes we mentioned before!)
Now that we had the two most crucial elements of the book – the pages and the cover – we were ready to bind…

Binding is a different process for paperback and hardback books, at Antony Rowe, the hardback binding is done by hand (more on this later!), but as we were creating paperbacks to begin with we took a closer look at how this happened first.

The pages are fed by hand into the machine by the nice gentleman in the picture on the right (we cannot guarantee that this exact gentleman will make your book, but we can guarantee that someone else equally as nice will be the one to do it).

Then the binding machine did its magic and out popped… the uncut bound book!

Now that we were almost there, the excitement was getting to us a little and the only thing left to do was to trim the book down to size.

So, we took the book into the cutting room where lots of people sit with giant pairs of scissors and cut the books to size by hand… um, no, not really. Actually there’s another fantastic machine that did this automatically for us back out on the factory floor…

The cutting machine was operated by another lovely gentleman, who kindly explained to us that it was best to keep our fingers clear while it was doing its cutting…

The machine knows exactly how small (or big) to cut each individual book because those clever barcodes keep all of the information that’s needed for this on them. There’s no opportunity for error here!

Once the book has been cut down to size… well, that’s it! 
We’ve got a finished book:

So there you have it, the first ever WEbook, printed by Antony Rowe!
Once we’d jumped around for joy for a while, we were directed over to the hardback binding area to see how this process is done…

As we mentioned before, each hardback book is made by hand - in the image below you’ll be able to see one of the Antony Rowe workers measuring up the hardback cover for another client’s book.

When we start to make hardback WEbooks available to buy, which we will be doing very soon, this is exactly how your copies will be made too!

Once the process of sizing up the cover was complete, the book was fed into the casebound cover machine and the hardback binding was done, ready to be fed through the binder and then into the cutting machine - simple really.

So, that’s how WEbooks are made! Every time you order a WEbook title from the store, you can envisage your individual order being created especially for you by the wonderful team at Antony Rowe…

We’d also like to take this moment to thank the team at Antony Rowe for helping us to make this possible and for completely bowling us over with the fantastic operation that they run.

The WEbook Team

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