Friday, October 28, 2011

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

No, really.  No editor would let you get away with it.  I'm reading the entertaining history 1812--The Navy's War by George C. Daughan and I come across this:

"Broke's task force...consisted of...the 64-gun battleship Africa (Captain John Bastard)...."

Fiction writers can sometimes get away with giving characters names that leap out at the reader, like Sabatini's Captain Peter Blood and Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter Death Wimsey, but I would never dare write a novel with Captain Bastard at the helm. "Captain Sinister", yes.  After all, that's Morgan Roberts' nom de guerre.  But Captain Bastard?  Think of the poor men under his command.  Maybe they cracked a smile or sniggered--once--before the floggings began until morale was restored.

"You think your captain's tough?  Ours is a right Bastard!"

Anyway, I'll let y'all know if I run across more interesting tidbits.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Women at Sea

I was asked about my research on cross-dressing women sailors during our Sizzling Book Club chat of Sea Change last night at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.  It was co-sponsored by All Romance eBooks and we had a lot of fun, so I want to thank Sarah at Smart Bitches and the folks at All Romance for pulling it together.  If you missed the chat, click on the link and you can replay it at your leisure.

First of all, I owe a debt to Suzanne Stark for her wonderful history, Female Tars.  It is fascinating and entertaining.  As I point out in the introduction to Sea Change, Stark says there were 20 known cases of women serving in the Royal Navy and Marines at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries.  There were likely more whose identities were never discovered.

One of those women was the seaman known as "William Brown", a black woman who served for at least 12 years during the Napoleonic Wars.  According to Stark, a London newspaper account of 1815 had this to say about Brown:

"Among the crew of the Queen Charlotte, 110 guns,...a female African...by the name of William Brown. [She] has served for some time as the captain of the foretop, highly to the satisfaction of the officers."

Being captain of the foretop was no small thing.  She had to be agile, unafraid of heights, able to work in all weather, leading the other sailors in the crew.  The topmen's job was one of the most dangerous aboard ship since they took in the sails high above while the deck pitched below them.  It was especially hazardous during storms, and many topmen fell to their death.

After her sex was discovered, Brown re-entered the service aboard her old ship.  A good topman was a treasure to a captain, regardless of sex.  In 1816 Brown was transferred to the Bombay, and lost to history.

Other books readers may find interesting:

Women Sailors and Sailors' Women, an Untold Maritime History by David Cordingly.

She Captains--Heroines and Hellions of the Sea--Joan Druett

Hen Frigate--Joan Druett

Petticoat Whalers--Whaling Wives at Sea--Joan Druett

Flying Cloud--The True Story of America's Most Famous Sailing Ship and the Woman who Navigated Her--by David Shaw



Monday, October 24, 2011

The Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and All Romance eBooks chat for Sea Change is this Wednesday, October 26 at 9 p.m. EDT.  There will be a link at Smart Bitches.  If you'd like to prep for the talk, you can follow the discussions of cross-dressing as a romance novel theme here.

In addition, Amber Quill Press is the featured publisher through October at All Romance, so all of my books there have a 25% rebate this month.  You can buy Sea Change and stock up on the backlist as well.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Happy Birthday, USN!

I wasn't online on October 13, but I wanted to give a belated birthday salute to the United States Navy.  I've got some naval history in my own background.  My late father was at Pearl Harbor on the USS West Virginia on December 7, 1941, and went on to serve in the Pacific until after the end of the war, earning a Bronze Star and other commendations. I had the pleasure of researching some of the USN history for my novels, especially for Captain Sinister's Lady. 

If you'd like to learn more about the early days of the USN, I highly recommend Ian Toll's excellent history, Six Frigates.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

PBS and The War of 1812

Just finished watching PBS' War of 1812.  I thought it would be a mini-series, but it was just the one episode.  After all, it was a short war.  Nonetheless, they packed a whole war into that episode.  Since I've always concentrated on the naval battles and what was happening in Florida, it was nice to learn more about what was happening along the Canadian border.

Oh, and for my Canadian friends?  I now know Laura Secord is not famous for bringing chocolate to the wilderness.  My mistake.  Hey, go easy on me! I still know more Canadian history than 98% of my countrymen!

There was passing mention of the Baltimore privateers, but really, you can get a lot more background on them by reading Sea Change (and I wish you would).  There is discussion of how The Star Spangled Banner rallied Americans, and that too is a plot point in Sea Change.

While the program itself isn't long, there are some lovely links at PBS.Org to give you more information on some of the issues mentioned in the War of 1812 documentary.  I'm enjoying the additional information, and I'm glad my PBS contributions help support quality and informative programs like this one.

Sunday, October 09, 2011



The War of 1812, aka The 2nd War of American Independence, is coming to PBS.  Check your local listings, our PBS station in N. Florida airs it Monday at 9 p.m.


Sea Change is set during this pivotal moment in American history. I enjoyed doing the research for this book because I learned so much, especially about the role American privateers played in winning victories for the young nation.



Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Awesome giveaway at SBTB!

There is a "Holy Cow, what a pile of amazing!" giveaway at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books to celebrate the publication of Everything I Know About Love, I Learned From Romance Novels (hereafter known as #EIKAL).

EIKAL is by SmartBitch Sarah, and culls the wisdom of Romancelandia, including input from yours truly.  But the giveaway!  That's the big news!  You win a massive basket with enough goodies to keep you reading on a desert island for months and months when you're not dealing with the adorable demands of Ramon, your cabana boy (Ramon not included.  And you have to bring your own cabana).  There are books (including The Bride and the Buccaneer), ereaders, special artwork and a SIGNED NORA ROBERTS BOBBLEHEAD!

I think my own head just exploded from it all.

Check out SBTB for details, follow the links, and if you're not already a fan of SB Sarah, you should be.  After all, in addition to being a very funny and smart lady, she's hosting me for the October Sizzling Book Read of Sea Change at SBTB later this month.




Monday, October 03, 2011

Hot news for cool times! 


Sea Change is the October Sizzling Book Club pick at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books!  They're also giving away a chance at print copies of Sea Change if you leave a comment on your favorite pirate romance. But wait, there's more!  In partnership with All Romance ebooks, you can buy digital copies of Sea Change for 50% off after rebate!  More details to follow, but enter now to win your own copy of Sea Change, and join us for the Sizzling Book Club discussion later this month.