A Piratical Finale: THE BUCCANEERS’ CODE

Hi there! It’s been a long winter already for a lot of us in the northeast, and I’ve been spending the chilly days deep in the drafts of a new book. But I’m told that spring will be here eventually, and then summer, and after THAT…well, naturally, it will be pirate season.

The third and final installment in the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates trilogy is called THE BUCCANEERS’ CODE, and it’ll be available for you to read in September of this year. I had a ridiculous amount of fun writing this book, taking Hilary and the gargoyle to new parts of the kingdom, bringing back old characters and introducing a few new ones, and ending the series in a way that feels right to me–with plenty of jokes, two big ocean battles, a little romance, a lot of gargoyle attitude, good etiquette, new career directions for some old friends, and a pitcher of molasses. I hope you’ll like it, too.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Hilary Westfield is a freelance pirate now. When Captain Blacktooth showed his entirely dishonorable side by teaming up with the Mutineers and threatening the kingdom, Hilary forfeited her sword and hoped that the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates would one day secure a new leader—an honorable one (or very nearly).

Hilary’s devoted crew—including the talking gargoyle—believes she’s the perfect person for the job, so she picks up her sword again and challenges Captain Blacktooth and his villainous friends to a High Seas battle. If she wins, Hilary will become the new president of the League. If she loses? She’ll perish or, at best, she’ll be forced to spend the rest of her days at the Pestilent Home for Foul-Tempered Pirates while the Mutineers steal all the kingdom’s magic. To gather supporters, Hilary and her crew set sail on a quest that may or may not involve fearsome pirates, even more fearsome finishing school girls, and . . . chickens.

Caroline Carlson returns once again to the world of the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates in the conclusion to this fantastically funny and adventure-filled series.

And here is the cover! I adore it. It’s illustrated once again by the brilliant Petur Antonsson and designed by one of my many heroes at HarperCollins, Amy Ryan:

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I’m really excited that this scene (from Chapter 3) was the one chosen for the cover, since it was one of the scenes that popped into my head fully formed when I first came up with the idea for this book. You can see that the pirates are ON LAND this time–in Gunpowder Square, to be precise. (Check out the Maps store on the left and the Traps store on the right! I just noticed them as I was writing this blog post.)

THE BUCCANEERS’ CODE goes on sale in the US on September 8th, 2015, but you can pre-order it now from the usual sources (B&N, Indigo, Amazon, or your favorite local bookstore).



Official VNHLP Statement Regarding Talk Like A Pirate Day

Ahoy, and greetings from the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates!

It has come to the League’s attention that once a year, on the nineteenth of September, landlubbers around the world are abandonin’ their usual turns of phrase and adoptin’ the language of pirates. When the League first heard of this phenomenon, called “Talk Like a Pirate Day” in landlubber-speak, we were thoroughly baffled. Why talk like a pirate for one day when ye could talk like a pirate for the rest of yer life?

After takin’ a vote ‘round the groggery, however, we at the VNHLP have decided to issue our hearty endorsement of Talk Like a Pirate Day. Though we be the most fearsome buccaneers on the High Seas, not a soul has ever arranged a holiday in our honor before, and we admit to bein’ flattered.

At the VNHLP, we believe in forgin’ cross-cultural connections, and we hope that exposin’ more folks to our language will encourage communication between pirates and landlubbers. As it is, we find yer manner of speech to be rather confusin’. Landlubbers have far too many words for things: They say, “Good morning,” “Goodbye,” “Congratulations!” and “Have ye seen me parrot?” but any true pirate knows that all these thoughts—and hundreds more—can be conveyed through a good strong, “Arr!”

Once landlubbers learn how handy and economical it is to talk like a pirate, they’re sure to be tempted by a life of adventure on the High Seas. If ye find that ye simply can’t stop talkin’ like a pirate after the nineteenth of September has passed, please remember that the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates is currently acceptin’ applications for our Piracy Apprenticeship Program.

Arr!, and best wishes,

Hugo St. Augustine

VNHLP Community Outreach Coordinator

Catching A Breath

There are some days when it feels easy to live in the moment, to appreciate little things like the sound of your heartbeat or the squirrel throwing acorns at your second-story window. And there are other days, days when you feel like you’re always running a few minutes late, days when life is good and full and busy but it’s nearly impossible to keep up with all the goodness and fullness and busyness. You rush forward as quickly as you can and hope you’ll have a few moments sometime soon to stop, look around, and catch your breath. Hear your heartbeat again. Notice that squirrel.

I’ve had a spring and summer full of goodness and busyness in equal measure. My husband and I spent most of July and August moving into a new house, and I developed consuming passions for really dull things like light fixtures and sewer pipes. I finished a draft of the third and final book in the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates series. Then, surrounded by piles of moving boxes, I revised it. Then I revised it again. I spent a few nights with my author buddy Kristen Kittscher in a haunted house in Ohio, drinking wine and reading James Thurber aloud in the parlor where he once lived. And somewhere in there, I sold two new books I completely forgot to tell you about! The first is a middle grade mystery called The World’s Greatest Detective that I’ve been itching to write for nearly three years now. The second might be about the end of the world. I’m not sure about that one yet. Both books will be published in the unimaginably distant future (2017 and 2018?) by the same team at HarperCollins who’ve been so good to me and my first three novels.

TerroroftheSouthlandsLife’s been rushing forward and hasn’t been inclined to stop, but I’m forcing myself to pause and catch my breath because my second book, The Terror of the Southlands, is on bookstore shelves today. This wasn’t an easy book to write, craft-wise or emotionally, but now that I’m two years’ removed from the drafting of it, I feel really proud of how it turned out. It’s a mystery (sort of) and an adventure (definitely) and maybe a little darker than the first book in the VNHLP series, but still plenty of fun. It is full of philosophical meditations on social issues (sort of) and snarky gargoyle observations (definitely), and it will teach you how to duel while wearing a frilly green ball gown. I like it a lot. I hope you will, too.


As I’m sure you guys already know, the cover of Magic Marks the Spot is the most attractive book jacket in the history of literature. It’s bright, it’s fun, it stands out on bookshelves, and it features the gargoyle’s charming mug, as all good book covers should. It’s so great, in fact, that I was worried about whether the cover of my next book would be able to measure up.

Fortunately, there was no cause for concern. I am now the proud author of books with the two most beautiful jackets in the history of literature. Here’s the fantastic cover of The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates: The Terror of the Southlandscoming from Harper Children’s this fall!


Isn’t it great? Don’t you love the crumbling castle? The sunset? The cannonballs?? (That’s Charlie on the starboard side of the ship, by the way.)

Oh, and it looks pretty gorgeous next to the first book, too:

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This cover was once again designed by Senior Art Director Amy Ryan at HarperCollins, to whom I am constructing a shrine in my living room. And the artist is the extraordinarily talented Petur Antonsson–you can check out more of his lovely work here. Dave Phillips, who provided the great interior art for Magic Marks the Spot, is returning to illustrate The Terror of the Southlands as well, and I can’t wait to be able to show off his splendid sketches.

What’s this book about, other than castles and cannonballs? Actually, I can tell you that, too:

Hilary Westfield is a pirate. In fact, she’s the Terror of the Southlands! She’s daring, brave, fearless, and . . . in a rut. Maybe she hasn’t found any treasure lately. And maybe she isn’t fighting off as many scallywags as she’d like. But does that mean she and her loyal crew  (including a magical gargoyle) deserve to be kicked out of the ranks of the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates?

There is only one thing to do—find a daring mission worthy of her fearless reputation. With the help of first mate Charlie, finishing-school friend Claire, and the self-proclaimed intrepid gargoyle, Hilary sets sail on a swashbuckling expedition that may or may not involve a kidnapped Enchantress, bumbling inspectors, a mysterious group called the Mutineers, and—the most terrifying thing of all—a High Society ball.

Caroline Carlson brings just as much rollicking fun, laughter, and action to this second book of the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates as she did with the first, Magic Marks the Spot.

The Terror of the Southlands will be available everywhere on September 9, 2014. I hope you’ll preorder a copy from your local independent bookstore, Barnes & Noble, Indigo, Amazon, or the book purveyor you love best.

In Which I Have Turned Into a Tortoise

Okay, I’m not actually a tortoise. (Too bad; tortoises are cute and they don’t have to meet deadlines.) But I’ve been feeling a little tortoise-like lately because I’ve been writing the third and final book in the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates series, and it is sloooooow going. Yesterday, for example, I wrote 200 words. On a normal writing day, I can write five times that much. On a really good writing day, I can write ten times that much. 200 words is about a page–and it took me almost three hours to write that page. See how I’m starting to sympathize with my hard-shelled, land-dwelling reptile friends?

But I’m learning that every book has its own personality and its own pace. My first book moved quickly, and I loved it right from the start. My second book moved almost as quickly, but it took me a long time (and lots of revisions) before I loved it. This book, my third, is moving anything but quickly, but the good news is that I love it already. I may not be writing at my usual pace, but the words I’m writing are exciting and fun, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next in this story. I’m finally wrapping up Hilary’s adventures on the High Seas, and while I know I’ll miss all the characters desperately when this book is finished, I’m excited to give them the grand and glorious ending they deserve.

A few items of business: First of all, I’m going on tour with some of my favorite authors! We’ll be in Baltimore tomorrow (Saturday, November 16th) and in Philadelphia on Sunday the 17th and Monday the 18th. Check out my Events page for more details. I lived in both Philadelphia and Baltimore for many years each, and I can’t wait to be back! Even if you can’t make the tour, I hope you’ll read the new books written by the authors I’ll be touring with: Parched by Melanie Crowder, Brotherhood by A.B. Westrick, The Wig in the Window by Kristen Kittscher, Genie Wishes by Elisabeth Dahl, Sunny Sweet is So Not Sorry by Jennifer Ann Mann, and The Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff.

Right after I get back from Philadelphia, I’ll be flying to Miami for the Miami Book Fair. I’ve never been to Miami before, so I’m pretty excited. I hear that everyone there wears bathing suits all day, every day, so I’ll do my best to fit in. Do you think it would be weird to wear swimming goggles to an author panel? Anyway, goggles or not, I’ll be doing some school visits in the Miami area and talking on a panel with my author buddies Jeramey Kraatz (The Cloak Society) and Christopher Krovatin (Gravediggers). The panel is open to the public; it’s on Saturday, November 23rd. I hope you’ll come see us if you’re nearby!

The other utterly thrilling piece of news is that Magic Marks the Spot was reviewed in last Sunday’s New York Times book review section! I love the Times and grew up with parents who read the book review section every Sunday, so it’s hard for me to imagine a bigger honor than this. You can read the review here if you’d like. It’s part of a larger children’s book review section which includes great coverage of lots of other books that I’m now dying to read.

I may not get too many more words written while I’m traveling around the country, but I’m looking forward to coming out of my tortoise shell for a little while to meet readers and see some friends. And I am especially looking forward to having some pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving when my travels are over.