Good morning beautiful monsters!
It’s been a long time since I subscribed to Scribbler. I really love the writerly bits they send out, but the books themselves are hit or miss with me. They’re not bad books, but the last few boxes have not my genre, generally speaking. That said, sometimes they have a topic that really piques my interest, and July’s topic, “Collaboration” was one of them.
This month’s Scribbler box is all about working with another writer in the development of the novel. I’ve never really understood how that traditionally works. The first novel I wrote was a collaboration… in high school… for a class project. We traded chapters and edited them together. Collaborative writing is something I’m really interested in someday in the future, so I was really excited to see what this box had to offer.
Right on top of the box is this month’s Scribbler writing contest! This card is standard to every box, encouraging something writerly in order to give subscribers the chance to win a bonus item in their next box. Sometimes I fill these out, sometimes I don’t. This month’s prompt is to write down my main character’s name and explain what inspired it. I love this prompt… but… my character names just sort of… come to me? I’ve been picking my brain for a meaningfully inspired name, but honestly? Most of them just seemed right.
Item number two is a tote! The swag in Scribbler boxes is not fandom themed – everything sent is supposed to be useful for a writer, or at least writing themed. Scribbler’s totes are usually pretty basic, typography or lineart, not illustrations. They’re also really sturdy. I like the pop of red on this one, and I’m general game for a new, cool looking tote. Totes are always useful!
People who bullet journal will really like the next item, but I always could use more journals. This dot-grid journal can be used for literally anything – plotting, doodling, writing ideas, whatever you want! I’m not sure if all the journals are the same color, but mine is bright blue and I really like it and there are so many things I can think of to do with this.
Hot beverages are synonymous with reading and writing. Therefore, the mug cozy makes sense for a writing-adjacent piece of swag. That said, this isn’t an item I would personally use. I can’t think of a time I’ve had a hot beverage and needed a cozy. But the style is consistent with the rest of Scribbler’s merch and if you find yourself at Starbucks, then this could be a great item for you!
As promised in the box theme, this month’s writing password discusses collaboration! These passports offer advice from the month’s theme. Usually there’s an interview or essay from the contributing author of the month. It makes the advice personal. I always find these passports really interesting – the book and swag are nice, but the writing advice is why I get Scribbler.
The passport isn’t the only writing-related advice subscribers get. Every box includes a live streaming interview with someone in the Biz and gives subscribers the opportunity to submit questions. This month’s guest is Danielle Marshall, Editorial Director with Lake Union Publishing. These live sessions are available for review if you can’t be there while it’s streaming. These are always interesting and insightful.
Scribbler included a writing-themed button this month. I love their buttons. This is a 2″ one with classy typography. As usual, I really like it. Not much to say about it – it’s a button, I like the art, and it’s on the shelf with the other buttons I have because I don’t have anything particular I do with them most the time.
The last writing swag item is the inside look booklet. I also really enjoy these – in the past, they’ve been known to include copies of successful query letters, line edit correspondence, and so forth. They’re really insightful into a part of the business I’ve never experience, and it takes some of the mystery out of the extended process. This month includes a chapter with margin notes and stylistic explanations of this month’s novel.
This month’s book is The Two Lila Bennetts by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke. I was not familiar with either of these authors, and had no idea that this book existed. Honestly, this is where Scribbler loses me most days. They don’t pick their books based on hype – they look at upcoming novels and decide which will be the strongest example to support their monthly theme. Therefore, there’s a lot of unknown variables. The Two Lila Bennetts sounds to me like a thriller, so maybe it’ll be awesome or maybe I’ll be bored. We’ll see.
If you’re like me and haven’t heard about this one, here’s the Goodreads summary:
Lila Bennett’s bad choices have finally caught up with her. And one of those decisions has split her life in two. Literally.
In one life, she’s taken hostage by someone who appears to be a stranger but knows too much. As she’s trapped in a concrete cell, her kidnapper forces her to face what she’s done or be killed. In an alternate life, she eludes her captor but is hunted by someone who is dismantling her happiness, exposing one secret at a time.
Lila’s decorated career as a criminal defense attorney, her marriage, and her life are on the line. She must make a list of those she’s wronged—both in and out of the courtroom—to determine who is out to get her before it’s too late. But even if she can pinpoint her assailant, will she survive? And if she does, which parts of her life are worth saving, and which parts must die? Because one thing’s for certain—life as Lila Bennett knew it is over.
Generally speaking, I really enjoyed this month’s Scribbler box, and I’ve ordered the August one as well. There was only one swag item in this box that I didn’t find useful to me (and therefore didn’t like). I’m a little apprehensive about the book, but not because it’s a bad choice! Just because it’s not my usual genre.
I think Scribbler continues to be a really interesting take on the traditional book box, and a company I like to support. I may not want all their boxes, but I love that they add transparency to the writing and publishing business which also curating a good box.
If you’re interested in giving Scribbler a try, please know that I am not a rep for this company and I recommend them based entirely on my own experience. I am not compensated for this unboxing. I particularly recommend this for those in the community who are both readers and writers. The advice is fascinating and applicable. If you want to glean knowledge from this community, but aren’t ready to take the dive, check out their blog because it is fascinating, or consider joining their biweekly newsletter. And if you like some of the items but aren’t ready for the box, they sell old boxes and a lot of their exclusive swag in the Love, Scribbler store.
Have you considered writing a collaborative novel? I absolutely love the idea, but I think that the novel really needs to spark with both writers – I don’t think I could go up to someone and say “I think we should write a novel together!” What would you do, lovely readers?