Monday, September 15, 2014

PYLE DOES HOOK

Who knew?

The great American painter and illustrator Howard Pyle must have had a crystal ball. How else could he have envisioned my characters, James Hook and Stella Parrish, for a painting done more than 100 years ago?

So there I was trolling around the interwebs earlier today when I stumbled across this lovely thing. This painting is called "Who Are We That Heaven Should Make of the Old Sea a Fowling Net?" which is a pretty fabulous title right there.

This piece illustrated a short story by James Branch Cabell called "The Second Chance," in Harper's Magazine in 1909. I haven't been able to find out what the story was about, or even if the character was a pirate (Pyle was a famous illustrator of pirate lore).

But judging from the man's outfit in this image, I'm thinking something in the piratical line.  James would love this jacket and lace (although he prefers practical boots over such fussy shoes, especially aboard ship). And the title reference to a "fowling net" suggests someone who has to keep moving before his pursuers close in.

Of course, the lady's gown—also 18th Century—is all wrong for Stella, who comes from 1950. But her untidy auburn hair is just right. And the fact that she's out there on a rocky promontory with the notorious Captain Hook says a lot about her spirit!

Btw, I've been having a great time updating my Pinterest board on the world of Alias  Hook, so check it out!

Friday, September 12, 2014

ROGUES' MARCH

It's steady as she goes on day five of the Here There Be Pirates Blog Hop and Book Giveaway.

Today, meet  J. M Aucoin, commander of our crew of pen-wielding brigands and author of the Jake Hawking cycle of stories. J.M. is giving away his newest release, the story collection Jake Hawking and the Bounty Hunters.

You can read a Q&A with J. M. over at author Helen Hollick's action-packed blog, Of History and Kings. Find out what he has to say about historical vs. fictional pirates, his creation Jake Hawking, a "thinking man's pirate," and his lifelong obsession with The Three Musketeers!

Once again, we have seven swashbuckling authors giving away seven pirate novels to seven lucky winners during the course of the event, September 8 through September 19 (International Talk Like A Pirate Day).

Scroll down to take a peek at the other piratical adventures being offered on our book giveaway. (As for me, I'll be giving away a copy of The Witch From the Sea!) Follow the links to read all about each book and the infamous rogues and roguettes who authored them!

Click here to enter the Giveaway!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, September 11, 2014

YET MORE PIRATES!

Two more swashbuckling authors join our merry crew of brigands today as the Here There Be Pirates Blog Hop sails on.

Spread your canvas for Arcadia Prime, the site of author Dan Eldredge, who's hosting a Q&A with author Nick Smith. Nick talks about his rousing historical Buccaneers series, which began with Rogues' Nest.

The second installment, Gentleman of Fortune, is the book Nick is offering in our piratical book giveaway.

Next, head over to the site of nautical author SK Keogh, who's hosting a Q&A with Helen Hollick, author of the Jesamiah Acorne series of seafaring adventures.

Helen talks about the delicate art of combining history, swashbuckling action, and fantasy in her four-part series (with more to come!). The first installment, Sea Witch, is the book Helen will be giving away.

Don't forget, our ongoing Here There Be Pirates event features seven authors of piratical fiction offering seven free books to seven lucky winners.

Follow the link below to enter for a chance to win. You can also earn multiple entries by seeking out the authors' Facebook pages and/or Twitter accounts and "liking" them.

Sign in now, and free loot could be yours! Har!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

THE BLOG (HOP) GOES ON...

The swashbuckling continues on our Here There Be Pirates Blog Hop and Book Giveaway!

Today I'm delighted to be a guest over at Rogue's Nest, the fine Historical Pirate Fiction site captained by author Nick Smith. Now it's my turn to be grilled by the King's men—oops, I mean to participate in the Blog Hop Q&A on writing piratical fiction, history, romance and adventure!

J.M. Aucoin, the admiral of our buccaneer fleet here on the Blog Hop, asked each of us participating authors to describe our ideal pirate flag, then he made a graphic of each one to post with our Q&As. This is the one he designed for me. Pretty cool, huh?

Asked to describe my pirate flag, I wrote:

Pirates like to feature the tools of their trade on their flags (swords, pistols), but I suppose an image of a keyboard wouldn't look very dynamic! (Besides being totally the wrong era.) How about a silhouette of a quill pen with a big, poofy feather. Black flag with a white quill pen. Dripping blood?

I think it came out great!

And speaking of J.M. Aucoin, sail on over to his author blog to read a Q&A with another swashbuckling author on the Blog Hop, SK Keogh. The book she's offering in the giveaway is The Alliance, second installment of her trilogy featuring Jack Mallory, who joins the Sweet Trade in order to settle an old score. 

To recap, our ongoing Here There Be Pirates event features seven authors of piratical fiction offering seven free books to seven lucky winners.

Follow the link below to enter for a chance to win. You can also earn multiple entries by seeking out the authors' Facebook pages and/or Twitter accounts and "liking" them. Sign in now and claim your share of the plunder!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

ON WRITING PIRATES

Ahoy, me hearties!

It's my pleasure today to host adventure/romance novelist Christine Steendam as part of the ongoing Here There Be Pirates Blog Hop and Book Giveaway.

For those of you who came in late, we have seven swashbuckling authors giving away seven pirate novels to seven lucky winners during the course of the event September 8 through September 19 (International Talk Like A Pirate Day).

Click here to enter the Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And without further ado, enjoy an interview with Christine Steendam on the art of writing pirate fiction!

What made you want to write about pirates in the first place? What is it about them that intrigued you as a writer?

Pirates just scream adventure. There is something incredibly romantic yet dangerous about a man that lives by no rules but his own. As a writer there is a lot of potential there for stories and conflict.

Tell us a little about your book, Heart Like an Ocean, that you’re giving away for this event.
Heart Like an Ocean is an adventure romance novel. Yes, romance… It follows the story of Senona Montez, a young, naïve, upper-class Spanish woman looking for an escape from the prison that is societies’ expectations. Her paths cross with the handsome British privateer, Brant Foxton, and things get very interesting from there.

In reality, pirates were awful people that most of us wouldn’t want to run across if we were sailing a ship, but in our culture they’ve been romanticized so often that it’s almost expected by some folk. Do you have trouble balancing reality with the romanticized aura of the pirate, or do you not worry too much about that when crafting your tales?

I admit, I romanticize pirates. I mean, I do write romance after all, so if my pirates had rotting teeth and were murdering people left, right and center that wouldn’t be very fitting of a romance, now would it? So, I really don’t worry about balancing reality too much… though I do like to get my facts right.

How often do you turn to real-life pirates for inspiration in creating your characters or plot?

I haven’t gotten a lot of inspiration from real-life pirates, but I definitely look towards them for fact-checking. If I want to know if I can get away with female crew members or pirates I turn to the people that lived and were documented as pirates or privateers.

What makes your series (or book) different from other piratical adventures out there? What’s your main goal with your pirate stories?

My stories are not primarily pirate stories. They are romance adventures set within a pirate setting. There is so much more there to explore in the story—both society, personal growth, and the age old question of right from wrong.


Bonus Question: If you had to design a pirate flag for yourself, what would it look like?

Because my pirate ship is called the BlackFox, I’d probably have a fox skull with a cutlass clutched in its teeth.




Author Bio:


Christine Steendam is the Award-Winning author of the Foremost Chronicles and the Ocean Series.

She is a self-proclaimed genre hopper in both her writing and reading, an avid horseback rider, and a cup of coffee is never far from her hand.

Christine makes her home in Manitoba, Canada on a sprawling 15 acre ranch with her husband, sons, and assortment of animals.

Visit Christine's website!
Christine on Facebook
Christine on Twitter

Monday, September 8, 2014

MORE PIRATES

The first author Q&A in the Here There Be Pirates Blog Hop is up and running!

Trim your sails for the blogsite Caffeine and Contemplation, presided over by adventure/romance author Christine Steendam.

Christine is hosting Dan Eldredge, author of the offworld piratical adventure, The Pirates of Alnari.

Surf on over and see what he has to say about writing pirate fiction in a setting other than Planet Earth.

Tomorrow, it will be my pleasure to host a Q&A with Christine, right here on this blog!

So stay tuned...

Sunday, September 7, 2014

HERE THERE BE PIRATES

Ahoy, me hearties!

September is pirate month here at the blog. For one thing, International Talk Like A Pirate Day falls on September 19 (so you'll want to brush up on your "Aarrrghs", "Ayes," and "avasts"). And in honor of this year' festivities, you, the Reading Public, have a chance to score some loot just the way we pirates like it—free!

A half dozen other swashbuckling authors have invited me to join them in a voyage of plunder—oops, I mean a Blog Hop and Book Giveaway with the catchy title, Here There Be Pirates. Each of the seven of us will be giving away a copy of one of our pirate novels to seven lucky winners. Free books—what's not to love?
Can Dress like a Pirate Day be far behind?

(I'll be giving away a rare, collectible copy (meaning (ahem) currently out of print) of my very first swashbuckler The Witch From the Sea, a book that's very dear to my heart. (Pirates! History! Romance! No zombies!) I love this book so much, I built it a website of its own!)

Here's a complete list of participating authors and their books:

J. M. Aucoin, Jake Hawking and the Bounty Hunters;  Christine Steendam, Heart Like an Ocean; Lisa Jensen, The Witch From the Sea; SK Keogh, The Alliance; Helen Hollick, Sea Witch; Dan Eldredge, Pirates of Alnari; Nick Smith, Gentlemen of Fortune.

The contest begins tomorrow, Monday, September 8, and runs through Friday, September 19 (Talk Like a Pirate Day).

To enter for a chance to win one of these fine free pirate books, just sign in on the link below. If you're extra techie, you can also earn multiple entries by seeking out the authors' Facebook pages and/or Twitter accounts and "liking" them, which improves your chances of scoring, big-time.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Full disclosure: I personally do not Tweet, but if you are so inclined to "like" my Alias Hook page on Facebook, that counts too.)

We bloggers will also take turns hosting Q&As of a piratical nature with each other for the duration of the Blog Hop. I will update the info here as each new Q&A post goes up.

So get ready to set sail for swashbuckling adventure! Here's your chance to win some genuine pirate loot with firing a single shot!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

OPEN the POD BAY DOOR

Hands up, everyone who used to have a radio like this!

Back in the day, you'd tune in a program you wanted to hear, and then it would be lost in the aether, disappearing back into the mist like Brigadoon.

But not any more. Now we have podcasts!

So it was a big thrill for me to do a live interview last week at the SciFi4Me Radio website. The subject was Alias Hook, on the program Live From the Bunker.

Big thanks to interviewer Kammie Settle and tech whiz Jason Hunt for making it all so enjoyable. Here's the link if you'd like to catch up with the podcast!

My first podcast—I feel like such a professional!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

MASS APPEAL

What happens in the confessional stays in the confessional. According to Catholic law, any priest who violates the confidentiality of the booth will find himself excommunicated.

So if a priest happens to hear something dire after Mass one Sunday—like a death threat, to be carried out in one week—he has no recourse but to spend the next seven days combing through the community, hoping to identify the malcontent and diffuse the situation, or possibly even arm himself in self-defense.

At least, those would be the choices in an ordinary action thriller. But neither the Irish drama, Calvary, nor its writer and director, John Michael McDonagh, can be classified as ordinary.

Although much of the action follows the outline above, the film transcends its action, branching out into a poignant, often scathing, and even occasionally blackly humorous meditation on the human condition.
GoT fans will recognize Littlefinger in  Gleeson's wayward flock

And it mostly succeeds in its grand aims, thanks to a marvelously skilled and subtle performance by the great Brendan Gleeson in one of his best roles. He stars as a caring village priest whose parishioners practice most of the popular Deadly Sins.   

The film's seven Stations of the Cross symbology plays into McDonagh's larger themes of sin, virtue, sacrifice and redemption. But nothing in the film feels like a sermon. A barely recovered alcoholic widower who came late to the priesthood, Gleeson's Father James strives to be of some practical use to his parishioners.

And not by offering up a bunch of empty platitudes about God's will or Heaven and Hell

It's because he doesn't presume to tell anybody what God wants that Gleeson's flawed Father James is so appealing. (Read more)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

FIRST THINGS LAST

A great beginning is everything.
Don't you just love it in movies about writers when the author sits down to actually write?

Author sucks at the end of a pen, or flexes his fingers over the the keyboard for about 3.2 seconds, then commences to churn out the first two or five or ten pages of his magnum opus—as perfect and divine as Athena springing full-born from the head of Zeus.

Ah, such a charming fantasy. But don't be fooled, kids. In real life, the beginning of a book is the hardest part.

Everyone knows the first couple of pages or paragraphs, or sentences are the most important of the book—especially in this ADD-afflicted era, when there is so much competition for our shrinking attention spans. But that doesn't mean those first deathless lines are going to be the very first thing you write.

In my case, those opening pages are the very last thing I write! Or at least the last thing I write well.

Nicole Kidman's Virginia Woolf, The Hours: real writers write over.
During the first draft of a novel, I'm basically telling myself the story. I know it's all going to change in the rewriting process anyway. For that first draft I'll start anywhere that seems to get me into the story, some conversation, or interior monologue, or action sequence that gets me going. The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first word.

Once I've plunged in, I keep adding scenes as they occur to me (and usually not in chronological order) until I have some sense of a story arc heading for a conclusion. For me, knowing how the story ends is essential before I can go back and re-tackle that all-important opening.

There are times, however, when first instincts are serendipitous. For Alias Hook, the very first paragraph I committed to a Word doc remained the first paragraph of the book in print—at least in the UK edition:

Every child knows how the story ends. The wicked pirate captain is flung overboard, caught in the jaws of the monster crocodile, which drags him down to a watery grave. Who could guess that below the water, the great beast would spew me out with a belch and a wink of its horned, livid eye? It was not yet my time to die, not then nor any other time. It's my fate to be trapped here forever in a nightmare of childhood fancy with that infernal, eternal boy. 

The Disney version ends where my story begins.
True inspiration struck belatedly (as usual), and I wrote an entirely new prologue for the US edition. However, that first paragraph remains intact as the first words James Hook "speaks" to the reader as his personal narrative begins—although the rest of the opening chapter surrounding it changed many, many times.

And that's just the way it is. Only after plowing through the entire narrative, with all its drama, humor, and heartbreak, can you possibly understand where your story really begins.

(Above: Russell Brand as Captain Hook, photographed by Annie Liebovitz.)