July Camp NaNoWriMo: Ship Story

July Camp NaNoWriMo_

This July I am participating in Camp NaNoWriMo again, this time to make progress on/finish a book that is very near and dear to my heart. Currently it is simply called Ship Story, and it was going to be my debut novel until I decided to go with fantasy instead. It already has 75,000 words on it, and my goal this summer is just to help it along, and relax while doing it.

So without further ado, may I present Ship Story.

 

He sang of the sea in its restless glory, he sang of the beautiful sea….

Quick Synopsis: In 1696, Captain William Kidd was given a commission to wage war on the pirates that were preying on England’s shipping. Suspicious of the man’s ability, King William of England secretly outfits and commissions a second ship, under the command of one Captain Sutcliffe, for the same purpose. Sutcliffe does well for himself in the West Indies until he sets out on the trail of the most notorious pirate in the Caribbean. He is never heard from again. Willing to try once more, William lets the commission fall to Sutcliffe’s closest friend, Captain Stephen Wallace, who besides being a brilliant fighter, now has something to avenge.

Jeff Ramsey has been a no-one’s-son in a port town all his life, and after being forced into involuntary servitude, he vows to flee to the one safe haven he has—the sea. But when he signs on to a ship that claims to be neither pirate nor navy, promising him good pay and a good life, he is swept into a world he never knew existed: one of adventure, gold, and possibly death.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Time period: Late 1690s—early 1700s.

Setting: The Atlantic//The Gold Coast//The West Indies//Bristol//Foreign markets//Jungle islands//

Some of the main characters:

Jeff Ramsey: Main protagonist, about fifteen. Ran away to sea, has a quick eye, makes friends easily, fast learner.

Captain Stephen Wallace: Brilliant tactician, stoic Scotsman, has a way of instilling loyalty in his crew.

Second Mate Sean Lindsay: Referred to as the Cat-With-Nine-Lives, Sean has been more places and done more things before thirty than most men do in a whole life at sea. Wears his hair in a thick blond braid, takes a fancy to Jeff.

David Brodie: Helmsman, can steer any reef with his eyes closed. Old friend of the captain’s from Scotland, and trusted by the men.

Gunner Abednego Sweet: Eccentric, loves wearing earrings and sashes. Has the tallest tales in the business, and is always dragging his straight-laced gunner’s mate into them. May or may not be married to a French heiress on St. Lucia.

Kelby Morgan: Stolen from his home in the Pacific islands by a merchant ship as a boy, and then the sole survivor of its wreck, he has been searching for his home ever since. He calls it Aotearoa, and he is constantly signing on to ships bound for foreign parts in the hopes of finding it again.

Shark: Ship’s cook, has a bad limp from an old leg wound. It is rumored that he sailed with the infamous Captain Morgan as a younger man before he took up honest work.

Nicky Lydon: A topman who befriends Jeff and shows him the ropes. Loves heights and climbs almost as fast as his pet monkey.

Captain Edward Champion Camden: Son of a baronet’s daughter and a ne’er-do-well, he went to sea young and was found to have a talent. Now at twenty-two, he preys off of foreign merchants and pirates, and believes that there is no ship he cannot beat, since so far there hasn’t been.

 

Are any of you doing Camp NaNoWriMo? I would love to hear about your projects in the comments!

 

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Why I Don’t Live Off the Tears of My Readers

Wjy O dpm

You see it everywhere in the writing community. It’s on t-shirts, mugs, and prints, in tweets and bios, etc. People say they love destroying feels, they drink the tears of their readers, they live for making their readers cry, and many other forms of the same idea.

I don’t think it is said in a way that is meant to be malicious or uncaring. But I think it is possible that it is said without giving thought to the future implications for both reader and author.

I want to take my job seriously

I love writing, and if I am a professional author I need to be considerate of my audience, who enables me to do what I love. Do some people like having their feels destroyed? Yes. Double yes. It’s not always bad. But the thing that separates a good writer from a manipulative writer is how they do it. If you’ve read enough, nine times out of ten you can tell when a writer is doing something just to create “feels” and not to serve the story. And that’s what I call unprofessional writing.

I understand my words have power

Let me tell you a good thing and a bad thing. Writers have lots of power. (Congratulations! You may now consider those plans to take over the world!) However, that means you have a responsibility to use that power well. You have a chance to influence your audience (which could be the world) for good or for bad, and that is not something anyone should take flippantly. When a reader picks up your book, it is always an honor. They are giving you a piece of their time, to hear your thoughts and see things through your eyes, and while we can get used to this, we shouldn’t forget that it is a privilege they are giving us.

I have known enough sorrow to have empathy

Do my characters die? Oh yes. Sometimes they die and they die bravely, they die too young, they die when they are the last people you want to see die. Sometimes they die because I have to work through grief of my own.

But that does not mean I enjoy it. Every death hurts. It should hurt. I have lost people I’ve known and loved, and that has taught me to be careful not to take character deaths for granted in a story. I will not write a death if it does not further the story, is not required for realism, or does not have a glimmer of hope. And I will definitely not go into unnecessary detail just for effect.

The story is paramount

The story must be served first. Even if it is sure to bring down a hailstorm of feels, if you put it in there with no other purpose, I promise you, you have shot yourself in the foot.

It’s all about the attitude

In media nowadays, I think human life has been cheapened. People die simply to make the story more interesting, the feels deeper, the stakes personally higher for the protagonist. Few people seem to care about the victim in a murder mystery—it’s all about the brains of the detective. In an adventure book all sorts of minor and secondary characters die just to plump up the action and make you fear more for what the antagonist will do to protagonist. Writers all around mwahaha about the characters they are going to kill and throw around terms like ‘I killed a character today’ or ‘I kill most of my characters’ with little thought.

My problem is not with death in stories. We writers tackle hard subjects that require it, and I think we should. My problem is with an increasingly callous attitude towards death—something that should never be taken lightly because it doesn’t stop with the authors. If the authors become callous, so will the readers. You see it in effect already. Our culture is incredibly callous towards death. Just look at the kind of media that is being consumed wholesale.

We authors have the ability to make or break our culture with what we write, how we write, and what attitude we choose to write with.

And that’s something we can’t just joke about.

Summer Reading List

Summer Reading List

Summer is not too far off (even though it doesn’t feel like it today!), and with the regular yearly activities coming to an end and summer ones beginning, I have started to make plans for my summer TBR stack.

So far I have:

Beauty by Robin McKinley: This was recommended to me some time ago by Susannah Rowntree (whose taste is impeccable), and I’ve been hankering after a good Beauty and the Beast retelling.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson: A lovely old re-read. I feel like Stevenson is a kindred spirit in his love of the sea, and I am going to be (in July, hopefully) pulling out my historical fiction project set on the old high seas, so why ever not?

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye: I was intrigued by a couple reviews friends did of this one, and I’ve been curious to check out a Russian-themed fantasy. I’m calling it market research.

Seamanship in the Age of Sail John Harland: This is a research book that you might remember from my spring TBR. That’s because it is quite a long book!  This covers historical changes in shipmaking, maneuvers, and drills as well as many other aspects of handing a square-rigger.

The Young Sea Officer’s Sheet Anchor by Darcy Lever: More research! This one specifically talks about the parts of the ship, what they do, and how to work them.

Two Years Before the Mast by Richard H. Dana: A real life account written by a student who was told to go to sea by his doctors as a treatment for over-studying, this is an intelligent, comprehensive, and entertaining book so far.

And that’s what I’ve got! The research books will take all summer, I’m thinking, and I’ve left room for whatever might strike my fancy mid-summer.

Do you have a summer reading list? If you’ve posted about it, feel free to paste a link in the comments so I can check it out!

The World of Writing Music Artist Feature: Peter Hollens

HOLD ON

About the artist: Peter Hollens is an American a capella singer and Youtube artist. He started an a capella group in college and met his wife through singing venues. In 2011, he began his Youtube channel and since then has collaborated with many well-known artists and released multiple CDs.

Why I recommend him:

I love his pure singing, and he covers a wide range of genres, from folk to pop to musicals. Because everything you hear is made strictly by him (sometimes only his mouth) his music tends to have a gentle quality. His songs and collaborations are perfect for character theme songs and setting moods.

What I use his music for:

-General playlist music

-Listening through an album start to finish

-Character theme songs

Favorite Songs:

Parting Glass:

Loch Lomond:

Baba Yetu:

For the Dancing and the Dreaming:

Now We Are Free:

 

And some others that are too good to leave off the list:

In Dreams

What Are Words

I See The Light

Into the West

The Last Goodbye

Have you heard any of Peter’s songs? If so, which are your favorites?