Shiver me timbers…

19 09 2011

Aargghh! I can’t believe I almost missed Talk Like a Pirate Day. And me, with a pirate book that just came out a few months ago. Five books in five months will do that to you. All circuits are on overload as I head toward the final deadline for the fifth volume.

Hope the rest of you enjoyed the day. The one fact I learned is that Aarrgh! means something entirely different than Arrr!

Do you know the difference? I used Aarrgh! correctly above as I slapped my forehead. But Arrr! means yes.

One of my personal favorites in the pirate world is Dragon Lady.

So me hearties, if ye wish to learn more about pirates or sailing the seven seas, you’ve only to pick up Pirates Through the Ages.

Lots of great characters inside…

If I do say so meself.




Ship Ahoy!

21 06 2011

Hard to believe it’s been so long since I’ve blogged, but a five-book contract with deadlines a month apart has been grueling.

But I just received word that Pirates 
Through the Ages  is on the way. Yay!! Can’t wait to see how it looks. The editor said it turned out terrific, so I’m excited about holding it in my own two hands. Here’s a mock up of the cover.

Looking back, I wondered while I was immersed in it if I’d manage to get it done by the deadline, but I did. Now I’m wondering the same about my latest assignment. What is it about writers that they’ll put themselves under this much pressure and agree to practically impossible deadlines, then slog through long hours day after day to produce a book? What is it about this profession that’s so compelling? It’s obviously not the money. As most writers discover, this isn’t a lucrative profession. So what do we get besides the pleasure and excitement of holding a book in our hands?

Shipwrecked Again?

20 10 2010

Well, I promised some pirate lore a while back and got sidetracked. Hmm…am I noticing a theme about me and getting sidetracked. Luckily, some of the most interesting things I’ve learned have happened when I’m sidetracked. So meander down those back alleys and take detours. You never know what exciting new things you might discover.

It wasn’t unusual for young teenage boys to go to sea as deckhands, but one of the youngest pirates known was John King, no more than age 11. John was traveling with his mother aboard a ship in the Caribbean. When pirates boarded, rather than being afraid, young John decided to join Captain Sam Bellamy’s pirate crew.

Several years ago the ship John traveled on, the Whydah, was discovered–a shipwreck under the sea. The wreckage contained a silk stocking, a shoe and a leg bone, all thought to belong to John. The pictures can be seen at that link. John’s life may have been short, but I hope he enjoyed his adventure while it lasted.

Many people dream of adventure, but few follow through. What dreams do you have that you’ve been putting off? Is it better to live a long, safe life, never doing what your heart calls you to do or to take a risk and seize your chance, knowing you might just drown. Then again, maybe you won’t.


19 09 2010

Avast and shiver me timbers, me hearties. To lead up to “Talk Like a Pirate” Day (Sept. 19), and to celebrate finishing and submitting the first half of the pirate book I’m writing–Yay!–a few days ahead of deadline, I’ll be blogging about some pirate-related lore.

I’ve been learning lots of cool facts like these:

Pirates didn’t bury their treasure. At least not until Robert Louis Stevenson came up with the idea in Robinson Crusoe.

Walking the plank was not a common form of punishment inflicted by pirates. Drubbing (beating with stick) or whipping took care of minor offenses. Marooning on a deserted isle was another common practice.

Female captives were not gang-raped by pirates. The crew chose one pirate to guard the lady’s sleeping quarters. Of course what went on between the guard and the prisoner is anyone’s guess. I suppose you could always hope for an moral sentinel.

Most tales of the female pirates Ann Bonny and Mary Read indicate they disguised themselves as men and fooled all but Captain Jack Rackham (Calico Jack), whose ship they sailed on. But a witness at their trial said the two sometimes went about in men’s clothes and at others dressed like women. If this prisoner saw them wearing both garbs, surely the crew knew the truth.

Although pirates were a lawless lot, they generally observed the Sabbath and always swore to their pirate oaths with their right hands on the Bible.

Stop back over the next few days for some interesting tales that I uncovered during my research on pirates. Until then, here are few lines from J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan:

“Avast, belay, yo ho, heave to,

A-pirating we go,

And if we’re parted by a shot

We’re sure to meet below!”

Dragon Lady

26 07 2010

One of the fun things about being a writer is researching things that you find fascinating. Right now I’m lucky enough to be writing about pirates. And I’ve found a heroine who intrigues me. Chinese pirate, Ching Shih, who goes by many other names, took over a pirate fleet of about 200 junks and 50,000 sailors when her husband died in the early 1800s, and she turned it into one of the largest fleets in the world.

Ching Shih had some interesting rules about pirate conduct, including that captured women were not to be raped. Pirates could, however, buy any leftover women (those whose families or villages didn’t raise enough ransom money) for $40, but they had to marry them. Granted, not every woman was overjoyed at the prospect of marrying a pirate, and some jumped overboard.

She also insisted that her pirates pay for the rice or other supplies they got from the villagers along the South China coast. Rather unusual conduct for pirates, wouldn’t you say? But it also insured her crew had all the gunpowder and food they needed. People were eager to hand over necessities when the pirates came calling.

Of course, that wasn’t always voluntary. Ching Shih often demanded tribute from villages and, if they didn’t pay, she exacted revenge. Her crew burned the towns, slaughtered the people, and took captives. They were pirates after all.

Ching Shih has been characterized as shrewd, brave, and resourceful. When she decided to surrender in 1810, she negotiated a military position for her new husband (who was also her adopted son and her first husband’s lover). She even arranged for military honors for herself–a slightly illegal manuever, because widows weren’t granted these honors.

She moved on to a peaceful life as the owner of a gambling house, with possibly a little opium smuggling on the side. All in all, quite a remarkable woman.

A New Adventure

18 06 2010

Ahoy, mateys! I’m sailing off to the Seven Seas. Shiver me timbers, pirates are my next writing gig.

Soon I’ll be buried in primary source materials, digging for thrilling tales of skullduggery and intrigue, Jolly Rogers and dungeons, raiding and looting, swashbuckling and sword fighting, sloops and pieces of eight…

Can’t wait!!

Among all these tales of derring do and digging for treasure, who knows what I’ll find…