Monday, July 23, 2012

826 Valencia: Writing Center and Pirate Store

Your cap'n here! Hope you've all had smooth sailing this summer. I've had my share of traveling delays, but in those delays there were some unexpected treasures to be found.

On an unplanned layover in San Francisco, due to a random plane-grounding thunderstorm in Denver, I discovered something truly amazing.

There's a free writing tutoring center operating behind a pirate supply store in downtown San Francisco. It's called 826 Valencia, With a pirate store in front and a publishing company in the back, there's plenty of buccaneers and professional writers and editors on board to volunteer their time to help high school students improve their writing.

From a slow beginning, their program has grown to over a thousand community volunteers. They have placed writing centers in schools, helped high school students publish collections of essays, poems, and fiction, and inspired countless young writers to a high level of achievement. And now more and more writers and educators are opening similar tutoring centers all across the country. Some of them with their own unusual supply stores.

826 Valencia, the Scribblers Cove salutes you.

If you want to learn all about it, here's the founder of 826 Valencia, David Eggers, giving a TED talk on his fine establishment:

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Hi, this is your cabin girl. And here I am, posting out of turn, but I have direct orders from the captain, so there.

Here's my random rant for the day: So I went to the library and checked out some books, one because I liked the author, one because it looked epic, and one because it's been recommended to me-I think. And I started reading the recommended one because it's big and shiny and not the kind of book I would normally touch with a ten-foot pole. I didn't expect to get past the first few pages.

But I did, and now I'm halfway through the book. Its acceptable prose and intensity surprised and pleased me. The world unfolded naturally, full of magic and delicious darkness. The characters were instantly likeable and mysterious at the same time. Stuff I'd already figured out started to reveal itself and I was pleased to have figured it out before the characters. This book is CANDY to my teenage soul. The guys are cute, the girls are pretty. The characters are magical sarcastic teenagers with lots of weapons and other cool stuff. I sat in my room this early afternoon, reading, feeling guilty for liking a book that seems most unhealthily YA. By less early afternoon, I needed a break, so I wrote something and then went back to the candy. By dinner, I was starting to feel sick to my stomach.

YA will be YA. There hasn't really been kissing...yet, but I guess that's not my only issue with the genre. The characters are stereotypical. And it does *sigh* have vampires and werewolves, though we haven't seen any werewolves yet. I feel like I've read this story before. Thinking back, I realize that I have. At least three times, this being the fourth. I feel like I've met these characters before. I have. THE EXACT SAME NUMBER OF TIMES. The main character girl and the incredibly-hot-and-charming-but-also-secretive-reserved-powerful-and-with-an-angsty-past-full-of-death-and-despair guy who lets her follow him around and seems to like her maybe, go and save the world, usually by finding some sort of magical item that's been stolen or hidden, going to exotic places full of booby-traps and/or working out riddles and occasionally stabbing monsters. But before they do that, they have to figure out all this crazy family stuff like 'who are my parents really?' and 'wait a second, how come they never told me there was magic' because your parents would NEVER tell you if there was magic, right? If they're even your parents...

And by the end, we've figured out all the angsty family stuff, and solved the 'end of the world' problem, at least partly, and killed lots of monsters and survived lots of booby-traps and stuff. But you NEVER work out the relationship problems, love triangles or otherwise, especially if it's the first book in a series. So I'm not sure I want to finish this book, even though it's good compared to most YA. But I think I will. Because I need to read twenty books over the summer and I spent most of the time reading 'Wheel of Time' books, which take about two weeks to a month each, even for an avid reader.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Running and Writing

Kevin here!

So recently my twin bother and I ran a half marathon. It was the American Fork Canyon Half Marathon, which goes from Tibble Fork Reservoir in American Fork Canyon down to American Fork High School. Here's a map!:

The "good" thing about this half marathon is that it's mostly down hill. Here's the elevation map:

Those of us with iffy knees are thinking "That's not good..." but it does make it easier to run faster!

The best part of this? I beat my goal of 2 hours 10 minutes. Sure, that time, while decent, isn't even close to the winner of the race.

The crazy part? My brother and I are going to try a full marathon next year. Yes, we are crazy.

Now you're probably all wondering what this has to do with writing. At face value, it doesn't. You can't write while running. Trust me. It's even hard to think about your WIP while running. However, we can make a parallel!

First, running 13.1 miles isn't easy for all of us. Writing also isn't easy for all of us.
Second, running 13.1 miles is rewarding. Writing is also rewarding.
Third, I set a goal for myself that I was sure I could reach, with some effort. We can set writing goals that we can reach, with some effort.
Forth, running 13.1 miles is hard, especially towards the end. Writing a book takes effort, especially towards the end! (The beginning and middle can also be effort-full!)

I've decided I need to apply this to my writing.

So let us run and write!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Packing For The End

Leisha here.

It's my turn to post this week, and I'm sadly late. Not because I didn't want to post, or because I'm lazy (maybe). Or even because I died of heat stroke. I'm late because I've been pondering what to write.

Recently my neighborhood had a fire scare. Nothing like Colorado, but the fire was very close to some homes. Fire + dry grass and trees + gusty wind = big flames. And that means evacuations. My family wasn't evacuated, but some of our neighbors were. We packed just in case.

When you see flames framing your friends' homes in a demonic embrace, you pack fast. And it's amazing what becomes important.

Here's what we decided to take:


My computer
Photo Albums


Important documents
Family pictures

Kid A:

Art portfolio
Art supplies

Kid B and C:

ipads and one irreplaceable stuffed elephant named Baby

Kid D:

Loads of toys, stuffed animals, books, blankets, trinkets, keepsakes, drawings, and enough tears to fill a swimming pool. Poor kid.

For most of us, everything perishable faded away as unimportant. We didn't even grab clothes. Clothes you can replace. It was like those flames simplified everything down to what we couldn't get back.

What does a wildfire have to do with writing? More than you would think.

It could have been the end for a lot of homes if it wasn't for amazing fire personnel and a hefty dose of divine intervention. It was kind of like the climax at the end of a book. As writers, we have to make that moment when things look the worst count.

We need to pack the right things into the ending. Things we can't do without. And we need to cut the extras, things like twenty stuffed animals, six boxes of crayons, and a pile of Legos. 

The thing is, as writers, we're a lot like Kid D. We love our stuff, our words, our scenes. Each one is important to us. But that doesn't mean you can fit them all into the end. And sometimes we cry just like Kid D when we learn we can't cram all of our stuff into the car.

So, my question for you is, what would you take if you had five minutes to evacuate? And more importantly, what do you really need to keep in your story? What can't you do without? 


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Susan Kaye Quinn and E.M. Tippetts both make the Semifinals of the Kindle Book Review's Best Indie Books of 2012 Contest!

The Cove's got two indie writers who made it to the Semifinals of the Kindle Book Review Best Indie Books of 2012 Contest. I (E.M. Tippetts) am in the romance category with Someone Else's Fairytale and Susan Kaye Quinn is in the YA category with Open Minds.

We even got a nifty badge:

Monday, July 2, 2012

Author Confessions


I don't even know where to begin. It's a fabulous feat that I've broken from myself and became published. I'm happy for that. Ever since that day, I've lost myself and don't know where I begin nor end. I feel lonelier than ever as I connect with fellow writers on the web, which only reminds me how isolated I am from them here in real life.

I've seen and heard too many stories where traditional publishers neglect their poor authors to a point that I've struggled against whether to submit any more of my work to them. But I don't belong to the self-published realm, either. I am stuck in the middle, with no direction but for the whispery voices in my head.

I wonder where I'll end up a few months, years from now and can only hope that as I plow onward in this this crazy storm-tossed ocean, I will rediscover myself.


I wonder how common or uncommon this is for a published author to lose his or herself like this? This is more how I feel:


I've become lost within my self that I no longer feel capable of blogging. I have magic speaking to me to write, but I haven't dared to write a single word, though I have over 5 unborn books vying for my attention. In spite of these smothering emotions, I can't help but feel as a brewing storm waiting to break my torrents into the world when it is time. Crazy, isn't it?

For now, I must find where I belong without ripping apart my other good wing.

Have you been truly inspired to live a dream, but feel lost when you're there?