Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Good News!

Well, sink me if it isn't time for a celebration! Tomorrow marks the release date of a book with one of our very own shipmate's names on the cover! Yes, Rachel Bayles be too modest to brag about it herself, so I'll do it for her. She spent many long months working on the illustrations for the book, Sensing Peace, by Suzana E. Yoder and published by Herald Press. And now, at last, publication day is upon us! WAY TO GO, RACHEL!

We're hoping this is only the first of many such happy announcements here at Scribblers Cove. If any of you get some good news of your own, then you better be sharin' it with yer crew. But for now, lets break out a keg o' me best lemonade and call the cabin girl to tune her ukulele and strike up a hornpipe!

And here's Rachel to tell you all about how it feels to hold the comp copy in her hands:


Wow, what an introduction! Well, I would like to say I'm thrilled to death to see the finished product, but frankly I'm quite nervous. I thumb through my illustrations and a flood of memories comes back--I whipped this book out in the concluding 2 1/2 months of my pregnancy, which in my opinion was really not enough time nor the ideal circumstances to do what I really wanted to. As I was telling my husband about my insecure feelings on the release of my book, he immediately stopped me by saying, "Rachel you will NEVER produce something you will be thoroughly proud of. You will always have something you don't like--the way the colors turned out, the way you painted a face, you will always have SOMETHING you don't like. But you have to just let it be what it is! Just let it be!" (He's an artist, too, in his own right, so he can say things like that to me). I was a little taken aback, and the tears started to crest. I was troubled at the thought of never creating something as good as how I envisioned, but I think I was missing his point. I think he had just gotten tired of hearing me nit-pick my work. Where was the joy? If I didn't have any joy in what I do, why am I doing it? What is so horrible about having room to grow?

Well, I'm not sure this speech is exactly what Rebecca wanted, but maybe someone out there will read this and nod their head and say, yeah, I feel that way, too, sometimes, and I need to remember the joy! So for what it's worth, yes, my book comes out tomorrow, and no, it's not perfect, but it's mine. And it was a joy in many ways. I'm going to try hard to remember that when I think of hundreds of total strangers out there picking up a copy and thumbing through the pages.

Remember the joy!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Whoa, shiver me timbers!

I be honored to join your crew. You sure? You did say pirates, fisherman, writers and professional liars are welcome, right? So glad you included the last part.

It was actually a whopper of a lie that got me into writing in the first place. Yes, I told a doozy. At the ripe old age of nine, I convinced myself and all my friends that I was actually a Native American Indian, and adopted.

I’m not. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see this, either. My hair is brown and curly –
not in the smooth ‘to-die-for curls’, but in the wild Irish ‘you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me’ frizz. My skin is whiter than the North Pole on January 1st. And I look very much like my parents and siblings.

It was a big mistake to share the lie with my best friend’s mother. She called my mom. It took her fifteen minutes to explain all the convincing detail I’d concocted.

Yes, I got in trouble. Yes, I was assigned a new hobby, which was to turn all that creative juice into something socially acceptable. Writing. Delicious, wonderful writing!

And I’m oh, so glad. If you like adventurous romantic thrillers for YA and Adult audiences, you’re in good company. So do I – both reading and writing them. Currently, I'm putting the finishing touches on my fifth novel.

So now you know one of my deep, dark secrets.

Another is that I love to illustrate all those wild images lurking in my mind. Okay, by the time they make it on paper/canvas, they’ve tamed down a bit, but I do have a thing for parrots and islands. If you're brave enough to look, there are samples at: thewonderfulobsessions.blogspot.com.

So between the writing and artwork, which thankfully gulp up any free time left over after my first loves – my husband and children – I don’t have much time to get into trouble.

I still do, though. It finds me. Can I hide out here?

A Word from the Captain

Seein' that we're getting underway now, I thought I should take a moment and give meself a proper introduction. I'm Rebecca, and I be the captain of this fine vessel by virtue of my superior... er... aye, well, to tell the truth, I be not the most experienced nor the most accomplished scribbler in the cove, but I do have a knack for gettin' folks together to do things that be crazy and fun.

As for meself, I write fantasy and science fiction for young readers. I've got three full manuscripts under my belt with a fourth in the works. I'm on the look-out for an agent for my post-apocalyptic EARTHCROSSER, and I'm excited by the response the first few chapters of my contemporary fantasy, CORRIDOR IN THE CLOSET, garnered at this year's Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Workshop.

I hear there's been some bletherin' among the crew, some o' you lot wonderin' what we're on about here. Why, we're off to seek fame and fortune on the high seas of publishing, and we aren't afraid to put our backs into it! For it be a long haul, over dangerous waters, with storms and shoals and long days becalmed in the doldrums. But there be treasure out there, me hearties, plenty for all who set their sails and won't turn back. And whether days are fair or dark along the way, it'll be a fine thing to have a crew of true mates around ye.

An' now, after that stirring speech (applause please), time to be off! Hurry up! Move the ... thing! Um ... that other thing! MOVE IT!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Wandering in to the Party

Doot-dee-doo... Here I am, writing a blog entry... Gee, I've never done this before. This is new. I think I've drafted a dozen of these in my head, but never actually WROTE one... Hmm. Looking around, here... Uhh... Woah. I'm surrounded by writers! I'm not a writer!

It's okay. Stay calm. I'm sure they're a really nice set. My palms are getting sweaty, now. I feel a little like I wore my sweats and a head-scarf to a cocktail party. Gah! Poor use of simile! (This is nothing like a cocktail party!) I just blew my cover! Uhhh....Panic! Quick! Do something to save face! I know! When in doubt, do what you know how to do: post a cute picture!
There. Now can I stay on board?

Hi, my name is Rachel. I'm an illustrator-in-hibernation through the long (but lovely) winter of early motherhood. My muse wakes me up for the occasional free-lance job, but mostly I spend my days being a very contented mother to 4 active and brilliant children. I do also write (a little) and would like to publish a few of my own children's books someday, and who knows, maybe even a novel. And yes, this is my first blog, and yes, I am wearing sweats.

All Right, Let Me On This Ship!

I'm coming on board, too. Why? Because who wouldn't want to be on board with this amazing crew? And, I can't tread water that long.

So, you should know right off that I stink at talking about myself. It usually goes something like this:

Me: Well, um lets see. Oh. I'm a girl.

Other person: Yup. I can see that.

Me: I like to write stuff.

Other person: Why?

See, not the best, huh? But just for you all, I'll give it a try.

As you already know, I'm a girl, and I like to write stuff. Fantasy mostly because I do love me some magic. Everyone's life should have magic in it. It seasons all your experiences like cinnamon or garlic, but way better--and not together.

My favorite thing to write is YA because in my heart I'm a reckless nineteen-year-old with an eye for adventure and a splash of love. In my body, I'm a *mumbles something under breath* year-old mother of four who splats into bed way before a teenager would because I've chased kids and ideas around all day. But, I do have the love part. My hubby's a keeper.

Let's see, what else could I possibly torture you with? I mean, tell you about myself? I make up my own songs, none of which make any sense. I hate dishes, laundry, and cleaning toilets, and I adore not having to cook. Did I mention I have four kids? Yeah, the whole cleaning thing isn't working out for me.

Well, I'll stop now so you won't be afraid of this superb blog and come back for more.

Thanks for letting me on the ship.

Leisha Maw

Talk Like a Pirate -- Talk Like a Writer

Something pirates and writers have in common--each group has their own lingo. If yer a true pirate ye can jabber with yer mates an they all understand what yer on about. Writers too have a vocabulary all their own. If you know it, you're one of the crew.

That's one of the reasons I started this blog. I've got other blogs, a personal blog, a book review blog, but I wanted someplace where I could kick back and talk writer.

A place where people know that there's nothing queer about query letters. A place where if I talk about my WIP, people know I'm not going to crack it at anyone. A place where I can say I write middle-grade fiction and no one thinks that it means my work is mediocrity.

Welcome to the Scribblers Cove.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Arrgh, Mateys!

Avast, me hearties, I wish I could speak pirate, or at least Air Pirate like my friend Adam Heine. I did "go pirate" once on Facebook, but had to switch back when I couldn't quite bring myself to "Blabber to yer mates."


While I may be FAIL at pillaging and burning, I do spend a lot of time writing about adventures, mostly for middle grade (ages 8-12) and young adult (ages 13-99) readers. My first novel, Life, Liberty, and Pursuit, is a teen love story that was published this year by Omnific Publishing, a small publisher. I'm getting ready to push my middle grade dystopian science fiction novel out of the nest and have a few more stories in the docks.

I'm excited to join the crew here at Scribbler's Cove, and will post somewhat randomly about the craft of writing, adventures in publishing, and anything science-fictiony that catches my eye. Also, probably cats and steampunk. I hear we have a cabin girl, so there may be snacks as well ...

I'm on a wee blog-cation until September, but I look forward to seeing what my crew-mates are up to then!

p.s. it's not too early to plan for Talk Like a Pirate Day (Sept. 19th, 2010).

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Trip to the Marketplace

At the 2010 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Workshop, one of my classmates asked our teacher if he could recommend any literary agents. He shrugged and said, "This is what you do.Get a one-month subscription to Publisher's Marketplace and then look and see who is selling what you write."

Subscribe to Publisher's Marketplace? I'd never tried that before. It costs money.

In the past I've used free online agent listings, like agentquery.com and querytracker.net.  I've read agent blogs and studied agent websites. All I wanted to know was--will this agent like what I write? But at the workshop I learned that I need to ask another question--will this agent be able to sell what I write?

The only way to know that is to know what an agent has already sold. And the best way to do that is... you guessed it... Publisher's Marketplace.

So I subscribed.

It was twenty bucks well spent.

I can't say how educational it was to read through a list of all publishing deals made in children's lit in the past several months. It gave me a real sense of the scale of the children's publishing industry, gave me an idea of what's selling right now, and let me know how many books like mine are going to be out there. I spotted a couple of upcoming titles that I just can't wait to read, and it was also fun to see a couple of friends and acquaintances show up in the deals (if you see this, Beth, this means you! HOORAY!). I've got a new list of agents now, people who have sold books in my genre and sold them recently. Now I can use Publisher's Marketplace to research their individual track records and decide who to include in my next round of queries.

And so, when you're ready to sell, I highly recommend a trip to the Marketplace.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Comin' Aboard

Ahoy, shipmates. I'm Amber, and I'll be joining the crew. I love reading and writing. Writing especially. I also like swimming and playing the harp, ukulele, and pennywhistle, but not all at the same time.

I want to be an elementary school teacher after college which will give me time in the summer to write. Or I could just be a writer. I'm practical (some of the time), scientifically minded (most of the time), and I tend to think of myself as creative, (all of the time).

Right now I'm writing a 60,000 word story (or at least, that's what I'm aiming for) which, in fact, is nearly done (52,900). I've written several other stories, one of which won the Henderson Library's teen writing contest.

My goals in life are to read the Harry Potter series in a week (wish me luck), Get published when I'm 16 years old (I'm going to need much, much more than luck for that one), and create a prime number generator (Forget it).

I'm second in command of a small country called the Land of Pickles (Don't look for it on a map. It's up near the north pole. One mile north of it, actually), but that's another story.

Being the youngest crew member at the Scribblers Cove, I guess you could say I get to be the cabin boy... er, girl. I don't mind it though. Doesn't the cabin boy always get to save the day?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How to Write a Query Letter

Three years ago, when I finally felt I had finished a manuscript I could sell, I knew nearly nothing about query letters. I knew I had to write one if I wanted to get a literary agent, so I turned on my computer and typed into the search engine, "how to write a query letter."

An overwhelming wave of information surged onto the screen. Writers everywhere, bursting with advice--sample query letters, how to write query letters, how not to write query letters, query letter contests, entire BOOKS on how to write query letters. Everyone seemed eager to give me the formula for writing my own magic bullet of a query letter.

Trouble was, you see, and what I couldn't get around was this: how do I take these 78,000 words that I've been working on for seven years and describe them in a single paragraph?

It seemed like a kind of insult. Boil down your vast labor of love into a few sentences, and I will judge whether it is worthy to consider on those few sentences alone.

I tried it anyways. It was terrible. All ten literary agents I sent it to agreed it was terrible.

Enter book two.

When I wrote my second book, I didn't wait until I had finished before I wrote my query letter. I wrote my query letter along with the book. That way, instead of burning with impatience to get the manuscript out the door and slapping a query on at the last minute, I had months to refine my pitch to poetic perfection. Working on the query letter also helped me focus the book. What parts were most interesting? What parts made it most marketable? What is the book really about? Once I had that down in writing, it became the guiding principles for what to bring out in the story.

And this time, my query letter is doing its job. I'm getting full manuscript requests.

How to write a query letter? Other more qualified people have written entire books on the subject. I'm just here to tell you when to do it. Start writing your query letter the day you start writing your book.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Anchor Aweigh!

This is it.

Today is the long-awaited, official beginning of my writing career.

No, I didn't get an agent. No, I didn't sell a manuscript.

Today my youngest child started Kindergarten.

Full-day Kindergarten. That means this writer gets six blissful hours of peace and quiet every single school day. Now I can FOCUS. Now I don't have to steal time during naps, after children are in bed at night, or before they get up in the morning. I can write and write and write!

Oh, I can't wait to get started! Everything up until now has been mere knuckle-cracking and throat-clearing. Now my words have room to breathe and stretch and grow! My stories can really LIVE!

Why am I suddenly feeling so intimidated?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Welcome to The Scribbler's Cove

My name is Rebecca J. Carlson. I live in Hawaii and I write novels for young readers. I'm looking to hire a crew of aspiring writers to share our adventures as we navigate the shoals of the publishing industry.