Tag Archives: mermaids

I came up short

I knew writing time was going to be at a premium this weekend. My ultimate goal was to break 30K words on Lanternfish, but I didn’t make it.

I’ve been stealing an hour here and there in an alternate room, and it just isn’t the same. I’m a firm believer that all progress is progress, so I have some of that to keep me positive.

A big part of my slower pace comes down to logistics. I’m dealing with a fantasy world in Lanternfish, but ships don’t just sail from point to point. Even with James’s sextant, there are weeks and months involved in moving the ship.

I have them with an easy appointment to make with the Prelonian Navy, but too much time on their hands. They decided to go chasing information about a new enemy in the war, but still need to make their rendezvous.

I like the extra tension this brings, but I’m writing myself into a corner to a degree. They need to visit two or three places, but still make the appointment. There are going to be delays with piracy, exploring, and more.

It’s easy enough to “magic” my way out of this issue, but that isn’t fair to readers. Even with James’s sextant there have to be rules. It has a limited range, even though it’s much greater than other ships can sail in a day.

They’re going to be doing some exploring in what is similar to the South Pacific. Since this is a fantasy world, I don’t have to place all the islands exactly like they might appear on Earth.

Now a bright author might just back up and change the time of the appointment to allow for all this exploring. I could do it, but I want to challenge myself. I’m even toying with the idea of being at the rendezvous point late. This could add some extra tension to the series. What sort of disaster could this lead to? (It is book two of a trilogy, so a bit of tragedy is allowed.)

There are other forces at work here, too. I have a tropical storm hinted at that will cause some delays and diversions. So I have partial information they need on two different islands, plus a tropical storm, and a tight deadline they have to make. Let’s face it, there needs to be some piracy going on here too.

One fun bit today. I included a mermaid in my story. I swore to avoid traditional monsters and legends in this tale, but there she was. She isn’t like anything you’ve likely seen before. She’s about 90 feet long and towers above the ship when she visits. She could easily pull them down to the depths, but is a benevolent creature/person. (For a change.)

In my mind it’s a good time to go back to the paycheck job. Some of this stuff tends to work itself out during the commute. I may have to adjust my outline a bit to make it all come out the way it should.

Lanternfish spent the entire first book without having everything they need. It involved crew, guns, munitions, etc. I’m also thinking about what it might do to the crew to have too much. How motivated might they be to assist in the war when their hull is overflowing with treasure? People with nothing to lose see the world differently than those who have more than they’ll ever need. It’s an interesting concept if James has to hold the crew together in face of this new challenge.

Again, putting it aside for a week often brings more clarity to issues like this. I may even have a solution in mind, but need some time to work it all out.

That was my writer’s weekend. As a couple, we managed date night at Old Chicago and I sampled the seasonal beers. We also rented Godzilla King of the Monsters, and I really liked it. I like the way they worked in the fever theory of global warming. The theory is that living creatures get a fever when they’re sick to kill off the bug that’s causing the problem. In the fever theory, Earth is the creature, global warming is the fever, and we are the virus that’s making her sick. This theory has been around for a long time, but it was cool that the film went with it.

For those of you who get a holiday, I hope you’re enjoying your Labor Day. For everyone else, I wish you a happy Monday whatever you’re doing.

Advertisements

30 Comments

Filed under Writing

Hoist the Colors!

Time for a bit of piracy, mates. Welcome to P. S. Bartlett who’s here to tell us about her newest book; Demons & Pearls, the Razor’s Adventures. Take it away, Peggy.

***

Articles of the Code of the Demon Sea

 

1. The captain of the ship is to be elected by a majority vote of the crew: If any time the crew finds just cause and sufficient evidence to prove the Captain unfit or the Captain is killed in battle, the Quartermaster shall act as Captain until the vote is taken. The Vote must be taken within one full day of its announcement. Failure to follow this procedure will be deemed mutiny.

2. Every man has a vote in affairs of moment; has equal title to the fresh provisions, or strong liquors, at any time seized, and may use them at pleasure, unless a scarcity makes it necessary, for the good of all, to vote a retrenchment.

3. Every man shall obey civil Command; the Captain shall have two full shares and in all Prizes; the Master, Carpenter, Boatswain and Gunner shall have one Share and a quarter. The fund of all payments under the articles is the stock of what is gotten by the expedition, following the same law as other pirates, that is, No prey, no pay.

4. If any man shall offer to run away, or keep any secret from the Company, he shall be marooned with one bottle of powder, one bottle of water, one small arm and shot.

5. If any Many shall steal anything in the company, or game, to the value of a Piece of Eight, he shall be marooned or shot.

6. That Man that shall strike another man whilst aboard ship and whilst these Articles are in force shall receive 40 lashes on the bare back.

7. That Man that shall snap his Arms, or smoke tobacco in the hold, without a cap to his Pipe, or carry a Candle lighted without a lantern, shall suffer the same punishment as in the former Article.

8. Lights and candles must be snuffed out of eight o’clock. If any man desires to drink after such time, he shall do so on the open deck without lights

9. That Man that shall not keep his weapons clean and fit for an Engagement, or neglect his business due to drunkenness, shall be cut off from his share, and suffer such other punishment as the Captain and the Company shall think fit.

10. If any Man shall lose a Joint in time of an Engagement he shall have 400 pieces of Eight; if a limb 800.

11. No boy or woman is to be brought aboard ship or amongst the crew in disguise for the purpose of sexual seduction. If any man is to be found seducing any of the latter sex, and carried her to sea, disguised, he is to suffer death and the woman or boy will be placed in the custody of a sentinel.

Wait, did pirates have iPhones?

Pirate Lore and Superstition – Fact or Rum?

First of all I’d like to thank Entertaining Stories for having me and my new book, Demons & Pearls, on the blog today. I sent up a flare asking for hosts and well, lucky me. Here I am and I hope you will find this story entertaining.


For the past year, I’ve been obsessed with writing pirate stories. On their own, pirates are entertaining to write about. Now hold that thought for a minute and allow me to explain: Pirates and their dirty and often times brutal deeds leave them to history as unscrupulous, murdering, thieving monsters who instilled fear in every vessel they hunted down. I’ve become fascinated with their way of life, the freedom of sea life and most of all, their governance of themselves as equals in all things. There is however one aspect of these men I have yet to delve into; superstition. So in keeping with the theme of this blog, I’d like to explore it with you now.


Sailors have always been some of the most superstitious men in history and these brash and scrappy men (mostly), were no exception. They held deep seeded beliefs which dictated their actions. Everything from their course headings to how they laid their fellow crewmen to rest was steeped in superstitious rituals. From mermaids to the deadly kraken, they told tales of lore that struck fear into even the deadliest of pirates. Although they lived their lives according to their code or what we’d call laws today, their lives were more closely lived by their unwritten beliefs.


Among the more common superstitions, were those associated with the bringing of good or bad luck. Actions such as boarding a ship with your left foot forward or whistling could bring certain doom. If a shark was spotted following the ship, it signified certain death. However if a pod of dolphins were along for the voyage, good luck was certain. Women aboard a ship were considered unlucky, although a naked woman was thought to calm the seas. This is why many ships had figureheads of a bare-breasted woman, which brings me to those mystical, magical and often times maligned ladies of the sea; mermaids.


Stories and imagery of mermaids can be traced back to 2,000bc. However, these mythical creatures were never more romanticized, as well as feared, as they were during the golden age of piracy. Some pirates as well as sailors of any kind, believed them to be sirens, whose sweet singing would lure them off course and ultimately causing the ship to wreck on the rocks and sink. Other tales of mermaids describe sailors who were drowned accidentally by mermaids, who although trying to save them, inadvertently squeezed them to death. Most often, these stories have been discredited to state that these so called mermaids were no more than manatees who were mistakenly identified as half woman half fish by sailors, who’d have taken part in far too much drinking.


One such description of a mermaid sighting went as follows, from http://www.livescience.com/39882-mermaid.html:

Edward Snow’s “Incredible Mysteries and Legends of the Sea” (Dodd Mead, 1967). A sea captain off the coast of Newfoundland described his 1614 encounter: “Captain John Smith saw a mermaid ‘swimming about with all possible grace.’ He pictured her as having large eyes, a finely shaped nose that was ‘somewhat short,’ and well-formed ears that were rather too long. Smith goes on to say that ‘her long green hair imparted to her an original character that was by no means unattractive.'” In fact, Smith was so taken with this lovely woman that he began “to experience the first effects of love” (take that as you will) as he gazed at her before his sudden (and surely profoundly disappointing) realization that she was a fish from the waist down. This dilemma is reflected in a popular song titled “The Mermaid,” by Newfoundland band Great Big Sea:

“I love the girl with all me heart
But I only like the upper part
I do not like the tail!”

Today, sightings of mermaids are mostly contained to entertaining tank or pool shows, where women who are enchanted with the myth of the mermaid, perform beautiful water ballets either together or with marine life. To my knowledge, none of these ethereally beautiful creatures could ever be confused with a manatee. However, with our world being covered with seventy-one percent of water, who’s to say who’s had too much to drink and who saw a mermaid?


Drawn by the author herself.



***

What a cool guest. Written with the general theme of this blog in mind. Check out the book at this link.


She has other books available too. Check them out at her author page

29 Comments

Filed under Writing