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Shadow in the Sea

Readers will return to Windwaithe Island once again. When sixteen-year-old Sadelyn Hanson washes up on the shores of Windwaithe Island, her beauty and the strange marks on her wrist make superstitious locals suspect she is a mermaid. Feigning amnesia, Sade hides a far worse secret: she was sailing to her own murder trial when she was thrown overboard by the real killer, the cunning and cruel Captain Westwood.

Sade's quiet effort to rebuild her life on the island is threatened when she meets an actual young merman. Unable to speak his language, Sade still longs for the warm companionship he offers, despite the locals' dire legends about merfolk and their dark magic. But her confused feelings for the impossible boy become the least of her problems when Captain Westwood's ship docks at Windwaithe. With nowhere to escape, Sade must trust in the one person who doesn't fear the merfolk. A woman who had dealings with them herself—years ago

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Deleted Scenes Part 5

*SPOILER WARNING* Do not read this post unless you have already read Forbidden Sea.

There was a lot more to Lady Lauretta's story than is currently revealed in the final version of Forbidden Sea. For those who are curious, you can now read it here. This conversation takes place right before Lauretta asks Adrianne about the fate of her father.


"My father wanted me to marry the son of a lord who lived on the mainland. Everything had been arranged, you see. I didn't like the young man. He was deadly dull and had the intelligence of a peahen." Lauretta made a very unprincess-like grimace over the memory of her once intended.

"I loved my father dearly and didn't want to disappoint him. He was so pleased with the match and I could see no way out of it without causing him a great deal of public embarrassment. I would go to the Rumble Stones at low tide and cry there where no one could see me. Then I would return home and pretend to be the perfect and content daughter. One day I went to the Rumbles and found Jendayi waiting for me there and--well--I'm sure you know the rest of what happened."

I did indeed. All the many pieces of the story now came together into one. How strangely different the truth was compared to the legends.

I'd have ditched the peahen for the handsome and dashing Prince Dasarian too.

Deleted Scenes Part 4

*SPOILER WARNING* Do not read this post unless you have read Forbidden Sea.

Ever wonder what purpose Lady Lauretta's necklace of glowing beads served? The answer to this riddle was edited out. As you will notice from this scene, the private conversation between Lady Lauretta and Adrianne originally happened outside the castle instead of inside where it takes place in the final version.


The tiny lights within the beads of Lauretta's necklace seemed to glow even brighter, lighting our way as she led me along the outer palace wall. She caught me staring at the necklace and put up her hand to finger the beads.

"I can't call up light the way the rest of them can, so I use this instead," she said.

"Don't the lights burn you with their cold?" I said with a shiver.

"My husband made the beads especially for me. They hold the cold inside so it doesn't hurt to touch them. Clever, huh?"

The magic within the blood of the merfolk gives them all the powers they need to live beneath the sea. One of the things they would need to survive down in the darkest part of the ocean would be light--so their magic provides it.

Deleted Scenes Part 3

*SPOILER WARNING* Do not read this post unless you have read Forbidden Sea.

For those who were wondering how it was possible for Jendayi's kingdom in the Caribbean Sea to get along without her for a hundred years, the answer to this question was originally included in the story but had to be taken out for pacing reasons.


"You said you ruled the Caribbean Sea. Who is running things while you are away?" I asked.

Jendayi continued to study the mosaic as she answered. "My brother was willing to take up the crown while I performed this service for our royal cousin."

"Why you?" My question made Jendayi finally turn toward me. "That is a far distance to come just to play matchmaker."

"Her majesty, my cousin, said I was the only one she trusted with the important task of finding brides for her sons." Jendayi's voice was warm and wistful as her thoughts turned to those she loved. "Because of my noble blood I am, let us say, more adept than most of my kind at reading the hearts of men even while they are yet on the land."

"More than your brother?" I asked.

"Much more than my brother."

Though I do not say so in the book, I had always imagined the power of seeing the future to be a trait found dominantly in females rather than males. There are a few mermen born with the gift but not many. Even the Crown Prince Dasarian does not have this gift and his powers are great. The Sea Queen has some of this gift, of course, but Jendayi's powers of foresight are much greater than hers. This was one of the reasons she chose her younger cousin for the job. This is also the reason Jendayi believes she always knows best and nobody better tell her differently!

Deleted Scenes Part 2

SPOILER WARNING: If you have not read Forbidden Sea do not read this post!

In an earlier draft of the story it was revealed that the Sea Queen was a widow. Because Jendayi had been raised in the Sea Queen's court, the prince consort (the Sea Queen's husband) had been like a father to her and they were very close when he tragically died. This scene took place as Adrianne and Jendayi are looking at the mosaic in the palace that depicts the birth of the merfolk race.


"Where is the king in all this?" I asked.

"The king?" Jendayi cocked her head questioningly to one side.

"The Sea Queen's husband?"

Jendayi's swaying tail fell still. She turned her head slightly away as if examining the far left of the mosaic, but I had the feeling she wasn't really seeing what was before her. When she finally answered her voice seemed distant and hollow.

"Dakarai's prince consort died many years ago. Not long after the birth of their second son."

It must have been a tragic death. A loved one taken before their time. Young children left without a father.

Just like Papa.

With all her great power and alien majesty, Jendayi was no different than me when it came to her grief. It made my heart ache for her loss, but I didn't know what words to say that would make it better. I didn't know how to let her know I understood.

The silence stretched awkwardly between us and I decided it was time to move on to another subject.

For those who are curious. The Sea Queen's husband died while trying to save the lives of some human sailors whose ship had crashed into a reef during a storm. He was caught between the reef and a large piece of wreckage from the ship. Prince Dasarian was old enough at the time that he still has memories of his father, but his younger brother has no memory of him.

Deleted Scenes Part 1


Do not read this post unless you have already read the book. Don't say I didn't warn you. : )

In the original story Jendayi had essentially been raised in the royal court of the Sea Queen. The queen acted as more of a mother figure to Jendayi than a cousin. The Sea Queen had been pushing Jendayi to marry, but because of all the political scrutiny involved in such a match, Jendayi and Rriess were attempting to keep their budding relationship under wraps for a little longer to avoid the inevitable public excitement that would quickly follow. They felt they needed time to get to know one another better. The scene was removed because there just wasn't time to go into enough detail on the subject for it to make sense. The scene below happened right after Rriess meets Adrianne for the first time.


"I think Rriess likes you," I said to Jendayi. She calmly continued to swim as if she hadn't heard me.

"I think you like him," I added recklessly.

Jendayi turned her full attention on me, her amber eyes searching my face. "I always thought you were a perceptive girl," Jendayi said, nodding her head. Her crown flashed, reflecting the light of the city in its polished gold surface.

Breathing out a long watery sigh, Jendayi continued. "My cousin, the Sea Queen, has been after me to marry for many years. I would appreciate if you would not speak to her of my meeting with Rriess today. It might cause--" Jendayi hesitated.

"Speculation?" I finished for her.

"Well spoken indeed, Adrianne of Windwaithe," Jendayi said with a smile.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Forbidden Sea Available for Pre-order

I got the thrill of my life today when I discovered that Forbidden Sea is now available for pre-order on It's almost like I'm a real author or something. Click the link below to see this miracle of miracles.

Okay, maybe you're not as excited as I am about this--but that's my book on Amazon!!! It doesn't get much better than that.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

My Favorite Books EVER

For those of you who expressed interest in what my favorite books are--here they are in no particular order. I have to warn you ahead of time that I have been a librarian for twelve and a half years so my complete list of favorites is quite lengthy. I won't list all of them here because it would take up too many pages of this blog. You will notice that I tend to like all different kinds of genres and love charmingly different sorts of books, some of which you may find odd. I think a lot of books speak to us at different times based on what is happening during that period of our life. What effects one person with great force, may leave another reader cold. I will not be offended if you don't agree with me on every book on this list. That's one of the most delightful parts about stories, our relationship to them is completely personal.

Chapter Books:

Sammy Keyes Series by Wendelin Van Draanen
Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty Birney
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Hollow Kingdom by Clare Dunkle
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee
Life As We Knew It by Susan Pfeffer
Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud
House of Shadows by Andre Norton
Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
Granny Torelli Makes Soup by Sharon Creech
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Mennyms Series by Sylvia Waugh
Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery
Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Jackaroo by Cynthia Voigt
I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade by Diane Wilson
Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman
Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
Moon and Sun Series by Holly Lisle
Night Gate Series by Isobelle Carmody
Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Beauty by Robin McKinley
Mairelon the Magician by Patrica Wrede
Sorcery and Cecelia by Patrica Wrede
A Posse of Princesses by Sherwood Smith
Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith
Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery
Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
Dragon's Milk by Susan Fletcher
Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George
Larklight by Philip Reeve
Dragon and Thief Series by Timothy Zahn
Monster of the Month Club by Diane Curtis Regan
Girl Who Invented Romance by Caroline B. Cooney
Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley
Beauty Sleep by Cameron Dokey
Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Queen's Thief Series by Megan Whalen Turner
Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi
Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
Rivka's Way by Teri Kanefield
Behind the Attic Wall by Sylvia Cassedy
Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy
Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn
Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright
Two are Better Than One by Carol Ryrie Brink
Oracle Betrayed by Catherine Fisher
Little Sister by Kara Dalkey
Wabi by Joseph Bruchac
Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Girl with the Silver Eyes by Roberts
Watcher in the Mist by Norma Johnston
Murdered, My Sweet by Joan Lowry Nixon
House on Hackman's Hill by Joan Lowry Nixon
Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
Boys Start the War by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Cat Royal Mysteries by Julia Golding
I, Coriander by Sally Gardner
True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
Seer of Shadows by Avi
Drowned Maiden's Hair by Laura Schlitz
Only Alien on the Planet by Kristen D. Randle
Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander
Third Eye by Lois Duncan
Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan
Gift of Magic by Lois Duncan
Other Side of Dark by Joan Lowery Nixon
Shadow of a Unicorn by Norma Johnston
Deadly Game of Magic by Joan Lowery Nixon
Giver by Lois Lowry
Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Elona Holms Mysteries by Nancy Springer
Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie Tolan
Running Out of Time by Margaret Haddix
Nory Ryan's Song by Patricia Giff
Dragon of the Lost Sea by Laurence Yep
Watson's Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
Children of the River by Linda Crew
Ghost Cat by Beverly Butler
Betsy and Tacy Series by Maud Hart Lovelace
African Mask by Janet Rupert
Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope
Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope
Ghost in the Noonday Sun by Sid Fleischman
Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper
Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster
Savvy by Ingrid Law
Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester
Thirteenth Child by Patrica Wrede

Picture Books:

Tuesday by David Wiesner
There is a Bird on Your Head by Mo Willems
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
Any Pop-up Book by Robert Sabuda
When Jesse Came Across the Sea by Amy Hest
Wishing of Biddy Malone by Joy Cowley
Beegu by Alexis Deacon
The Wave by Suzy Lee
Falling for Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox
Waking Beauty by Leah Wilcox
Stephanie's Ponytail by Robert Munsch
Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman
What to Do About Alice by Barbara Kerley
Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
Village that Vanished by Kadir Nelson
Girl Who Spun Gold by Virginia Hamilton
Frederick by Leo Lionni
Bad Day at Riverbend by Chris Van Allsburg
Brothers of the Knight by Kadir Nelson
Miss Tizzy by Libba Moore Gray
Once Upon a Time, The End by Geoffery Kloske
Fanny's Dream by Caralyn Buehner
Hollyhock Wall by Martin Waddell
Little Oh by Laura Melmed
Gentleman and the Kitchen Maid by Diane Stanley
Yo! Yes? by Christopher Raschka
Jane Wishing by Tobi Tobias
Don't Make Me Laugh by James Stevenson


Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong
At Her Majesty's Request by Walter Dean Myers
Bodies from the Ice by James Deem
Escape! The Story of the Great Houdini by Sid Fleischman
Lincolns by Candace Fleming
Blizzard by Jim Murphy
Cosmic Joker by Brian Innes
Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr
Ain't Nothing But a Man by Scott Reynolds Nelson
Great Fire by Jim Murphy
Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
Voice that Challenged a Nation by Russell Freedman
Swords: An Artist's Devotion by Ben Boos
Pick Me Up: Stuff You Need to Know
Dollhouse Decorator by Vivienne Boulton
Children Just Like Me by Barnabas Kindersley
Desiderata by Max Erhman
Children of Topaz by Michael Tunnell
Anastasia's Album by Hugh Brewster

I just realized how long this list has gotten so I'd better stop while I'm ahead. I have dozens more books I'd love to add but nobody will ever make it to the bottom of this list if I do! I'll save them for another day. What about you guys? What are your favorite books ever?

I've Got a Secret

Something exciting has happened with Forbidden Sea, but I'm not allowed to tell what it is here on this blog yet. Keeping it to myself is driving me crazy. If I have to suffer at least you can all suffer with me. : )

Monday, November 16, 2009

I Could Use Your Help

I've been attempting to update my blogger profile to something a little less boring then what I currently have posted, but have found myself at a loss as to what to put down. So I need of all you book lovers out there to help me out. What kinds of things do you like to know about an author? Those burning questions no one ever seems to answer. Birth date? College attended? Favorite book ever? Pets? Blood type? Okay, maybe not blood type, but what?

Any ideas?

Is there any information you really hate an author to include? Maybe info about the author is not as important as info about the book?

What do you want to know? I'd really love your input.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Forbidden Sea Contest Giveaway

The contest is now closed. The winner of the necklace will be anounced sometime Monday so check back then! Good luck to all who participated.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Good Things are Coming!

I have been honored, and completely floored, by the amount of positive interest that has been generated regarding the release of my book, Forbidden Sea. I am thrilled and excited for everyone to get a chance to read the book, and wish it were possible for me to give everyone who wanted one, an ARC of the book. If I were J. K. Rowing, I would demand enough ARCs to hand one out to every fantastic book reviewer who is excited to get their hands on one! Unfortunately, I am not J. K. Rowling and my publisher has given me very (and I do mean very) few ARCs. In fact, they gave me less than originally promised. (I think they like to be the ones to decide how to distribute ARCs and to whom they will go.) So for all you wonderful reviewers, bloggers, and delightful book loving people who are dying to read my book, I would suggest contacting Scholastic Press directly and see if they will let you have one. The last few remaining ARCs I do have left in my possession will be given away in drawings on this blog in the last couple months leading up to the release date of Forbidden Sea, so stay tuned. The drawings will be only for those who are official followers of this site, so make sure you are signed up. You just might be one of the lucky ones!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Inspiration--the Stuff Stories are Made Of

A lot of people have asked me where I get the ideas for my stories. When they do, they get a lot more answer then they bargained for. Inspiration for stories can come from almost anywhere. And I do mean anywhere. I once got an idea for a story by reading the title of a book. I can't tell you what the book was about because I never did read it. The title alone was enough. I've gotten more than one story from dreams. I had a vampire dream I thought about writing into a book years before Stephanie Meyer was ever seen or heard of. Sadly, the world will never get to read mine now. : )

One of the stories I am currently working on, came to me after seeing this set of porcelain dolls years ago.

They look innocent enough don't they? But story they inspired is a little on the creepy side. I love those kind of books! Don't you? I now own these dolls. How could I resist?

The red headed character featured in the picture below was inspired by a younger cousin of mine. I actually had her model for this picture. This particular character now stars in a story all her own. If it ever gets published, the book will definitely be dedicated to Liz.

I will often draw a picture of my characters (like the one here) to help me get a sense of their personality and what they look like. The characters may evolve over time, but the drawings give me my first peek into their world.

For me, music is one of the best inspirations when I'm in the middle of writing a story. I will often create a soundtrack, picking songs that I feel will create the mood I am working for key scenes. For me, creativity just seems to flow easier when there is music to help the ideas along. If I have characters who fall in love in a book I always choose "their song", so to speak. I will play this song as I write scenes between the two of them. I usually pick a song for each of the main characters as well.

Real life is the very best place to draw inspiration from. I've become quite the people watcher over the years. As a children's librarian, if I just keep my eyes and ears peeled, ideas for characters and scenes are being enacted right in my library every day. I was once asked to make a school visit to a sixth grade class by the library. Since I was working on a humorous book about a sixth grade class at the time, I decided to take mental notes while I was there. It was a real eye opener, let me tell you. I got more material from that one visit than I ever would have imagined. Sometimes truth is more hilarious than fiction.

What about you writer's out there? Where do you get your inspiration?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Writer's Block

I've been struggling with a certain scene in one of the books I'm currently working on, for quite some time now. It got so bad I had to skip the whole chapter and move on so it wouldn't stop the flow of the rest of the book. So a few nights ago it suddenly came to me, like a light from above, exactly what I had to do to make the chapter work. With some major reworking of the scene, I was soon off and running again. There is nothing like overcoming writer's block to make your whole life seem just a little brighter. I've never been able to understand why ideas can flow so easily one week, and the next, my mind is a veritable creative drought. Thankfully, the rains always seem to come eventually if I just let the scene simmer on the back burner long enough. What makes this miraculous transformation happen? I have no clue. Is it karma? Those vitamin supplements I've been taking? Or does God finally take pity on me and give me a little push in the right direction? Possibly a combination of all of the above.

I recently read an article about writer's block. They asked a bunch of writer's to list the things they do to get over their blocks. Eating hoards of chocolate, dancing around the living room, and taking long naps were all methods listed. For me, when writer's block strikes and I start to feel myself panicking, I skip the whole scene and start writing at some other point in the book that sounds more exciting to me. Or I temporarily jump to another story completely. It is not uncommon for me to be working on two or three stories simultaneously at any given time. My manuscripts in progress often resemble streets ridden with potholes. (Or should I say--plot holes.) Whole chapters can be missing in action for months (or in extreme cases, years) on end. This is one of the reasons I won't let people read my manuscripts until they are completely finished.

So how about you writer's out there in Blogland? When writer's block strikes, what do you do? I'd love to know.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Check Out Rebecca's Book Blog

Rebecca has put up a fun little preview of my book on her fantastic blog. (As a librarian, I've been using her blog a lot at work lately. If you want to know all the new young adult books out there, this is the place to go.) Thanks so much for getting the word out there!

P.S. Welcome to new followers--Heather, Dannie, Suitejuju, Aimee, and Lexie!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Final Book Cover and Story Summary

I recieved a sneak peak at the final version of the whole dust jacket for Forbidden Sea. (Front and back.) I LOVE the design! The color is this deep aquamarine blue-green. There are gold foil designs edging the sides. On the front flap is this description:

"When, one stormy night, a mermaid comes to take Adrianne Keynnman’s sister, Cecily, down into the depths of the sea, Adrianne knows she must fight with every ounce of her strength to protect her little sister. On land, Adrianne toils away, trying to eke out a living for her mother, sister, and aunt, after a tragic accident stole her father. Now, life takes a strange and frightening turn as Adrianne’s dreams are filled with the mermaid’s singing."

There was more, but I felt it gave away too much of the story so I'm not going to put the rest of it here. I just wish I didn't have to wait another year for everyone else to see it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

First Pass of Printed Pages

I received my first pass of typeset pages for my book. After the typesetters get the book ready for printing, they print off one copy and check it one last time to make sure there are no mistakes before they begin printing copies of the book. I have to okay any changes made at this point. I like the layout of the book. It's quite elegant, with beautiful patterns behind the heading of each chapter. I can't wait to get my first ARC (Advanced Reader Copy)! There was one page in the book where the typesetter had written "Nice!" beside one particularly effective description in the book. It made me feel good all the rest of the day. : )

Saturday, August 1, 2009

And the Bad News Is . . .

I recieved an email from my editor today and she had some unhappy news for me. They are moving back the release date of my book from May 1, 2010 to July 1, 2010. The marketing department felt that would be a better time slot for sales. The Scholastic Book Fairs has decided to wait and start selling my book at the same time instead of ahead of time, so it will now be another year before my book comes out anywhere. It's enough to make a hard working author weep with discouragement. I sometimes think the book will never come out. I guess I should look at the bright side--I'll have more than enough time to finish the sequel between now and then. And maybe even the ghost story I've started working on as well. We'll see.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Did You Know?

Fascinating but completely useless facts about how Forbidden Sea came to be.

- One day two darling little girls came into the library where I work asking for mermaid books. They were very disappointed to discover how few mermaid books we had for them to check out. Later, I got to thinking about this lack of mermaid stories and I started imagining what kind of mermaid I would want to write about. The mermaid in my story came to me as a fully formed character, but it was a while before I could find a story plot to do her justice. Forbidden Sea is the only story I've written where a character came to me before the story did.

- As a child, I used to love drawing mermaids with fantastic outfits I had designed myself. When I began imagining a merworld for my book, I found myself going back to this original idea and incorporated it into my story.

- The earliest plot for the Forbidden Sea didn't have a mermaid in it at all. The story was going nowhere until I remembered my mermaid character who still had no story to star in. After that the manuscript practically wrote itself.

- The first draft of this book took nine months to write. If you have ever tried to write a book while working full time, you will know how fast that is.

-Two publishing houses request to see this manuscript. Orchard Books was a little bit faster in getting back to me.

-It took two years for my publisher to actually make an offer on this manuscript.

-It took two more years to revise and publish.

-Contrary to popular belief, authors have no say in what their book cover will look like. I was very nervous until I saw Mr. Bagshaw's beautiful final work.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Completed Cover

And here it is in all it's glory. If you look to the left you will see what the final artwork for my book's cover looks like. It came out so stunningly beautiful. I should be seeing a copy of the first pass of printed pages within the next few weeks. I can't wait to see how it will look all completed. I am almost done with the rough draft of the sequel. (Only two more chapters to go) Then comes the hard work of editing and polishing. Of course, it is possible that if this first book doesn't sell they won't want the sequel, in which case, I and my writer's group will be the only ones who know what happens next. (Raspberry, I promise to send you a copy, if that happens) The other story is coming along nicely as well. I can never seem to limit myself to one story at a time. They all team up on me, demanding a life of their own.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sneak Peek of Cover Art

The illustrator of my cover has posted a partial peek at the artwork for my book. If you click on the link below and scroll down the page, the last illustration on the most recent post is of a green girl underwater. You can only see part of her face but at least it will give you a feel of what it looks like.

He says he will be posting the rest of picture soon.

Friday, June 26, 2009


I am DONE.

D-O-N-E, done with revisions to my Forbidden Sea manuscript. YESSSSSSSS! *she does a few cartwheels, then does the moonwalk across the room*

Go, Sheila. Go, Sheila. *Pant, pant*

Okay, I'm calm now. No wait, got to do the funky chicken. Whew! Glad I got all of that out of my system.

I got a look at the artwork for my book's cover--it is GORGEOUS. Mr. Bagshaw has outdone himself this time. He has my mermaid from the waist up, with all her hair floating around her. She is beckoning to the viewer with one hand. I couldn't be more pleased. I've been so nervous about how it would turn out. The cover is everything when it comes to the sales of a book. I can't post a copy of the artwork on this blog yet because I don't own the copyright to the image, but as soon as Orchard Books puts out an official copy online I'll post a link here. Wait until you see it. It's just breathtaking. I can't wait to get my first box of advanced reader copies so I can start taking them to the local bookstores around here.

It's all coming together now--I just have to be patient a little longer. *Sigh*

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

When Inspiration Strikes

I recently got a fantastic idea for a new story. I get a lot of these, but usually I write them down and put them aside for another day, usually after I’ve finished the current manuscript I’m working on. This one, however, would not be put aside. It has taken over at the moment, possessing my imagination day and night. My mom noticed I was preoccupied one day and wanted to know what was on my mind. When I told her it was a story she wanted to know what it was about. I was running late so she followed me around while I was gathering my things to leave. The more I told her, the more she pushed me for more and more of the story. When I got to the end of the story, she actually cried. “That’s a good story,” she said. “You’d better write it.” So I’ve given in and started writing the manuscript. We’ll see where it leads me. It’s a ghost story, and a little on the scary side but it has a great (romantic) ending, even if I do say so myself. Sorry Karlene, I’ll have to figure out a way to get it edited without bringing the scary parts to writer’s group.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Best Writer's Group in the World

One of the ladies in my fabulous writer's group just got a two book deal with Aladdin Books! I've read her manuscript in writer's group and it's a great story. Kristen Landon already has one book out called Life in the Pit. It's a teen novel with a touch of mystery and romance. (I'm in the acknowledgements, that practically make me famous.) Check out her book at your local library. If your library doesn't have it, request it to be purchased. Congratulations Kristen, may many more novels soon follow!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cover Art!!!!

My publisher has finally decided on a cover artist! I’m really excited about their choice. It was the one I was hoping for. His name is Tom Bagshaw. Click on the links below if you want to see some examples of his work.

I think he will do a fantastic job of bringing my mermaid to life. I can’t wait to see the finial art! I turned in the revisions my editor asked for today. It will be a few weeks before I hear back from her--but I hope we are getting close to being finished soon. I’ll keep you all posted.

P.S. I’d love to hear everyone’s opinions of Tom Bagshaw's work in the comments—even if you hate him. : )

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cover Artist

My editor has asked me to view two more artists they are concidering for the cover art. One of them I REALLY liked. She told me my favorite artist was the one they are leaning toward. I should know which one they chose soon. This is me, biting my nails, because the cover is everything. I'll report as soon as I know anything for certain.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Round Three of Revisions

This is the writing that never ends. At least it feels that way. I have more revisions to write in very little time and find my mind is consumed with mermaids and underwater worlds every waking moment (and even some while I'm asleep). But each time I polish up the manuscript it becomes better and more as I always imagined it should be. My publisher asked me to write my dedication and acknowledgments and send them to her. Something about writing a dedication makes the publishing of my book seem so much more real. They still haven't settled on an artist for the cover, but the portfolios they have sent me to look at are all incredible--so it should be a great cover!



Saturday, April 4, 2009

Would You Look at That

I just noticed that I actually have two followers for this website. Bless your hearts Emily and Teresa! Sorry I haven't had time to write a lot about my book, but that's because I'm too busy WRITING the book at the moment. Remember those awful 50 page long term papers they always made us write back in college? Well this is a 261 page long term paper--and it's almost complete. Yippee!

Friday, March 27, 2009

You Will NOT Believe This

They've changed the title of my book again. I'm hoping this is the last time--but know it may not be. As of this moment my book is called Forbidden Sea. I actually like it a little better than Dark Sea so no complaints here. I also got some more exciting news! They want to move my release date up to January 1, 2010. Less than a year away! The book will be offered by Scholastic Book Fairs exclusively until May when they will have the main stream release. (Sorry guys. Unless you have kids with order forms you'll have to wait until May to get a copy.) The only way this can happen is if I can get the manuscript revised like--yesterday. Guess I won't be getting much sleep in the future. Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

First Draft of Revisions Done

When I started revisions my manuscript was 218 pages long. It is now 260 pages long. This number is sure to change again as I polish up the new chapters I've written. Hopefully it won't get too much longer. Even though the first draft is complete there is still so much editing to do in the coming weeks. I feel the changes have greatly improved the story and am excited to show them to my editor. Wish I'd thought of the improvements the first time around, but I guess that is what professional editors are for. No word on a title yet. *sigh*

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Murphy's Law Strikes Again

Having finally received my editorial letter full of revisions for my book, I decided to take a week off of work and do nothing but write. So what happens? I get a raging cold. Talk about ironic. I've spent all week feeling feverish,hacking, coughing, dripping, aching--AND writing. I would stay in bed all day trying to multitask between writing and getting better. I've been typing and sucking down fruit juice at an alarming rate. Despite the cold, I still got a lot of writing done, especially when the coughing kept me awake at night. I'm really pleased with the changes I've made to the story. I hope my editor feels the same. Here's hoping!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Picture Says It All

My editor had me visit the website of an artist they are considering for the cover of my book. Their artwork is GORGEOUS! I don't want to jinx it so I won't write the name of the illustrator until it's a sure thing. I'm really getting excited now. My editor also told me that as of this moment the release date for my book is May 1, 2010. It could change but it should be around that time. They still haven't decided on a title yet. *sigh*

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It Starts . . .

I heard from my editor who said she plans to have my editoral letter to me soon. I'm nervous and excited at the same time. Revisions are an unavoidable part of getting published but it's nerve racking wondering what will get to stay and what will have to be changed. Either way, I know it will be a better book in the end. She asked if I would be willing to change the title, which is fine by me. I've never been much for thinking up good titles. I always refered to my story as "The Mermaid Book". Not exactly attention grabbing. I suggested a few titles and she liked one of them but said it was too long. (If you can think of any one or two word titles that are exciting and imply that a mermaid is involved in the plot, send them to me right away.) I'll let you all know when a final title has been selected. My editor also asked me what I'd like to see on the cover. I gave her some enthusiastic suggestions (including a particular artist's name) so we'll see what comes of it. No details on a release date yet. I'm sure it will all depend on when they can get the cover art completed. I'll keep you posted as things progress.

Monday, January 12, 2009

What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Getting a Book Published

People often ask me for advice about getting a book they've written published. So I thought I would write down some of the things I wish I'd known from the start.

1) Getting published is 90% not giving up, no matter what - If the mere thought of rejection letters is enough to make you feel like giving up on your writing dream than I would suggest you pick a different career right now. Write because you love it, not because you want to get published. Do stories come unbidden to your mind at any time of the day? Do they come to you in your sleep? Do you write because you can't help yourself? Then you are a true writer, my friend. If you keep writing and sending out those manuscripts eventually you WILL get published. It may take years, but in the mean time, your skills will grow and your love of the art will show in your writing. By the way, It's all right to fail. Expect it in fact. They say you have to get at least a hundred rejections before you get that first acceptance. Just keep all those rejection slips so that someday when you are famous you can rub all their noses in your success.

2) There are no shortcuts to getting published - I use to think that if I could just find a published author willing to edit my manuscript and let me use their name in submitting it to their publisher, I'd get published in no time at all. The truth is, editors hate when people use another author's name in their cover letter. They are not interested in what this other author thinks about your book. They want to make up their own mind about your writing. There may be some people out there who get published because they know the right people, but odds are good that it will not be you and me. would you really want to get published that way, anyway? If you do the work and write the best book ever no one will care if J. K. Rowling is your best friend or not. I use to look at some of the worst books out there and wonder why they would publish such trash but not my manuscript. In time I realized a better attitude was thinking I could write a better book--and then do it! Be proud of your work and let it speak for itself.

3) SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators - This group is invaluable to authors. They provide their members with updated lists of publishers addresses, which editors work where, what kind of manuscripts they are currently wanting, addresses of agents and how to contact them, basically everything you need to know if you want to get published. You do have to pay an annual fee to join but it is well worth it. I've talked to editors who said they tend to be more interested in SCBWI member's manuscripts because it shows that person must be serious about their writing.

4) Do the work! - One word. Research. When writing a book research everything. Even if your book is set in a fantasy world it must have some basis in fact or people will think it is just plain silly. Even if your pirate ships float in the sky instead of on the sea, you still need to know which is the port side and which one the starboard. Do not assume that people reading your story won't notice mistakes either. I remember reading a story about some kids who get a pet parrot. As a parrot owner myself, I could see right away the author knew nothing about how these animals behaved. It ruined the story for me. It will also ruin your chances of getting published.

You will also need to do a lot of research in trying to find out which publishers to send your manuscript out to. Nothing looks more unprofessional than for someone to send their picture book manuscript to a publisher that only does juvenile non-fiction. The easiest way to find a good fit for your manuscript is to find books similar to your own that have been published in the last couple years and find out which publishing house they were published by. (This information can be found in the first couple pages of the book.) Just a warning. Most publishing imprints are actually part of a larger publishing house. (For example: Orchard Books is an imprint of Scholastic Publishing) You do not want to send your manuscript to two different imprints who belong to the same house. Trust me, they will notice. You will want to find out weather the publishing houses you have chosen accept simultaneus sumbmissions (a manuscript that is sent out to more than one house at once). Some have no problem with it, others will never work with you again if you do. Make sure you know which is which and always let them know in your cover letter that you are doing it.

5) The R word. REVISIONS - It's enough to make any author want to run for the hills. The truth is, there is nothing more important than revisions. I revised my book so many times I've lost count. I must have rewritten the prologue alone at least a dozen times. Don't give into the temptation to just call it good enough because you are tired of that one problem chapter. If you are sick of it, give it some time and come back to it fresh another day. A word to the wise, once a book is accepted for publication, that's when the real revisions begin. Publishing houses ALWAYS ask you to make changes. Some of them quite big. There is no escaping it. Telling a publisher it is your story and you have no intention of changing anything is the quickest way to insure you never get published. Resign yourself to the inevitable and become the best reviser ever!

6) Writer's Groups - These are groups of authors who meet together weekly or monthly and critique each other's work. There are usually four to six members in a group. The authors in a group usually write the same kind of books. (Children's Books, Adult Books, Non-fiction Books, etc.) Anyone can start a writer's group, they just need to find others who are interested in attending. Usually people who live within driving distance. Writer's groups are invaluable to someone trying to revise a manuscript. My books always seem perfect to me because I wrote them. But when someone else reads my story, they don't always see things the way I do. If my writer's group sees problems in my plot, it's a sure bet a publisher will too. When I first started to attend a writer's group my hands shook as I read my work aloud. I don't even think about it now.

7) Unless you are a professional, do not illustrate your own book - Don't ask your cousin Fred to do it for you either, even if he is the most fantastic artist in the world. Big time publishers like to pick the artist for themselves. Usually someone they are comfortable with and have used many time before. Even if your book is the best children's story in the world they might decided to pass on it, if they think they have to have Fred do the illustrating when his style isn't the look they want right now. If you are a professional illustrator, that is a different story. But make sure you know the proper way to submit an illustrated manuscript. Some publishing houses have a different department for submitting artwork then just plain manuscripts. Make sure you know what it is ahead of time.

8) Query letters and cover letters - Many of the bigger publishing houses do not accept unsolicited manuscripts (they have to ask to see it). So how do you get a editor to ask to see your manuscript? A query letter. A query letter is a one page long letter that includes a discription of your story's plot and your qualifications as a writer. (Your degree in college. Other writings you've have published in the past. Anything that makes you sound like you know your stuff.) If the editor likes the sound of your story they will ask to see the rest. When sending in a requested manuscript, you will want to include a cover letter with a lot of the same information in it as the query letter. Make sure your contact information is on both your query letter and your cover letter so they will know who to contact if they decide they like your work.

9) Writer's Conferences - These fantasic conferences are held regularly all over the nation. There are always editors, authors, illustrators and agents invited to speak. This is where you can make your connections and get your manuscripts solicited. If you want to know if there is a conference near you, do a Google search by typing in the name of your state and "writers conference" and see what comes up. If you have a manuscript ready to go, it is worth any amount of money to attend one of these invaluable conferences.

Good luck all you authors at heart. I know you can do it!

(c) 2010 Sheila A. Nielson

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