Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tramp-O-Vision And Fingers That Move Like The Wind

I really didn’t think Slut-O-Ween was an appropriate title for the blog, but hell, I am a wench. I guess it would’ve been forgiven.

Hellion brought up the great topic to me yesterday at how once you get a certain age, Halloween becomes a slut holiday. Costumes become sexier every year, the hemlines go up inches at a time, necklines plunge, inhibitions become wanton. It’s a day of total slutdom that I embrace wholeheartedly.

While there is nothing wrong with Halloween sticking to it’s roots (those roots being the traditional white sheet ghosts, warted witches, rotten teeth demons, Freddy, and my favorite, the evil Dracula) the holiday has branched out and reached out to a group that wouldn’t normally participate in Halloween. Give a twenty-something year old a reason to go out like a real slut for a night and watch her eyes light up at the thought of playing someone else. All guys drool over a naughty nurse in a short white dress and white fishnets. Or a dirty cop, with a tear away blue dress and a badge. A bad pirate wench, who’s tattered blouse and skirt are like a siren’s call to the men leaning against the bar watching you walk in. What woman doesn’t want to be drooled over, even if it is for one night?

Which ultra slutty Halloween costume would you go for? Tell me a great Halloween costume story. You know you have one!

And in other news today, being other than the best holiday for vampire lovers, there is another month long celebration for pantsers. It’s called the NaNoWriMo (Or for those not familiar with this ritual of lack of sleep and drowning in coffee and suffering from finger muscle cramps, it’s the National Novel Writing Month celebration). It officially starts at midnight and runs until midnight on November 30.

Every year, writers from all around the world gather with their keyboards ready and write like crazy for 30 days. The great thing about NaNo is that it’s all about quantity and not quality. This exercise is to teach you that you’re capable of writing a novel. It’s all about getting the words, the support from fellow writers and testing your willpower to sit in one spot for hours at a time staring at a blinking cursor and white page. The goal for the month is 50,000 words. Bionic fingers, No-doze, writing by the seat of your pants are all a requirement for NaNo.

I should know. I participated last year with a broken wrist. And I made the goal because I’m completely full of random stuff that needs to be written. Too bad it was all written for my novel and not a word of it could be saved. This is the woe of a pantster, I tell ya. This year I’ve swore to myself I will try to write two short stories for a contest I’m entering in January.

Okay, so this year let’s play a game of NaNo. Let’s be dedicated to writing something and talk about it all month. This way we are accountable for our writing for at least a month out of the year. Because if you don’t learn anything else from NaNo is that sometimes a little accountability will go a long way.

Would you ever consider participating in the NaNo? And what are your writing goals this month?
Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ghosts, Curses, and Virgins

I love the thrill of ghost stories. I spend an extraordinary amount of time watching the Travel Channel’s Haunted Hotels and other ghost programs. I don’t exactly have an affinity for ghosts; I’m not even sure what I’d do if I actually met a ghost. If he was a good-looking pirate, I’d undoubtedly try to seduce—I really read too many paranormal novels.

My favorite ghost story is the one about the Flying Dutchman. Yeah, you thought that was just a bit from the Pirates of the Caribbean, didn’t you? No, it’s a legend in and of itself.

Over three hundred years ago, a Dutchman by the name of Captain Hendrik van der Decken was said to have sailed around the cape of Good Hope. Instead of pulling into port during a nasty storm, he chose instead to weather it out: cursing a blue streak while he did. Apparently this bit of blaspheming earned him an eternity of sailing the seas without any hope of making port. If you’re out at sea and you see a visible red light, be aware you are in the presence of the Flying Dutchman. Also, be careful what you do aboard your ship after, since a sighting of the Dutchman is typically a death sentence for one of the crew. Look, but don’t look too close.

Some say his curse can be broken, and is the case with all curses, the only way to break it is with True Love. One telling of the story has it that the Flying Dutchman can only make port once every seven years, in hopes he will find True Love (the love of a faithful woman), because only that will free him from his curse. That’s just the way of men, isn’t it? They do one thing to screw everything up, then expect a woman to come and fix it. I’m sure it can’t be any woman either. It’ll probably have to be a virgin.

Tell us your favorite ghost story and we’ll break out the S’mores and hot chocolate. What stories and legends do you know that have made their way into fiction? (Send me in their direction—I love ghost story novels!) Why do you think ghosts stick around? Have you ever seen a ghost? (Do tell.) And do you think you could break a curse, or do you too have the t-shirt that reads: Virgin—this is a really old t-shirt?

Monday, October 29, 2007

More Than a Little Back Hair...

So the witching hour is almost upon us and that means the theme on the ship this week has been everything Halloweinie. So, let's go there. And yes, I meant to spell it that way. You'll understand if you keep reading.

This is the one time of year everyone gets to be someone or something that they're not. Unless you're an actor or actress, then just play along. We all talked last week about what we would want to be and no surprise slutty pretty much summed us all up. Big shocker!

But what about what we're willing to go for. Paranormals have been sweeping the romance world for a few years now (maybe more, I did no research for this one) so it stands to reason women must be liking those vampires, werewolves and general shape shifters of all kinds. Perhaps lusting after is more accurate. These guys are clearly Alphas, no one would argue that, and we hear over and over again how women want the guy that takes charge. He's powerful. Has lots of money (shut up Cap'n). But most of all, he's a warrior. A fighter who can protect us or save us from anything. But would we really want our guy to shape shift?

This is the question for today. In real life, would you really go there? Would you do him even if you knew ten minutes ago he was on all fours sniffing (or licking) who knows what? Would you go down if you knew that too good of a performance on your part could have the man sprouting wings and literally reaching new heights without you. How about those demon killers? Would it turn you on IRL if you knew he'd blown up a dozen or so bad guys that day?

Yes, this is all fantasy. But there's always a little truth in our dreams. Could you handle the hair balls, fireballs and possible anemia to have one of these bad boys? Be honest, we'll never tell. Honor among pirates and all that…

PS: I found Ash just for you ladies. LOL! I'm paying PM Lisa back for the lovely pic she sent all of us over the weekend. *w*
Thursday, October 25, 2007

What happens at sea...stays at sea

Sin was gracious enough to provide some Halloween words to challenge me. What they prompted was a poorly written satire. Hope this helps Terrio with her FRUSTRATION!

The lovely pirate wench stared at Cap’n Jack. He was standing behind the ship’s wheel looking dead sexy. She turned and slapped her forehead trying to pop her lame brain back into joint. What was she thinking she didn’t need the hassle. Sure, it would be a fabulous toss of her skirts, but she was a lass with soft heart. She loved to appear tough and baldy on the outside but beneath her soft flesh she longed for so much more. The life of a seafaring wench was a lonely one, and besides *sniff* Halloween made her melancholy. It all stemmed from that year she swallowed her fake fangs when a peg legged pirate stuck his tongue down her throat in a fit of passion. Even though he walked away with blood dripping from his nose, she never lost the nibbling sensation in her gut.

She sighed and kicked at the jack o lantern sitting at her feet. It spun around and skittered across the deck slamming into the stern of the ship cracking into a million pieces. She shook her head as she made her way below deck to see if any Twizzlers were left in the basket of candy treats. On the way to the galley, she stopped by her cabin to straighten her hair; she slipped inside and looked in the cracked mirror above the washbasin. She brushed her curls away from her face and smiled faintly. She had a pleasant face and a nice set of breasts. She turned slightly and tightly closed her eyes as she groaned. Her backside stuck out causing her skirt to hike up severely in the back. She could still hear the words of her uncle Charlie Brown.

It’s the great pumpkin!”

She decided that she was going to lose the great pumpkin one way or another. She didn’t have too much time to contemplate her plight when the door swung open and Jack Sparrow darkened the doorway.

“Captain what can I do for you.”

He slowly stalked toward her with his yellow teeth posed in a malicious smile.

“Ask not what you can do for your captain but let your captain show what he can do for you.”

“I like the way you think Jack.”

He took two more steps and pulled her against his unyielding flesh. She sucked in a breath as he lowered his mouth on hers. Although she longed to pull away and offer him an Altoid, she allowed her nether regions to rule her. Passion consumed them as Jack hiked up her skirts and unsheathed his sword. He plunged it deep inside her as she wrapped her thunder thighs around his waist. The motion of their hips mimicked the rocking of the ship. The storm of their passion raged as Jack slammed her against the wall plundering her body as if it was his latest sought after treasure. It was over almost before he got in the room. With a grunt Jack pulled out and let go of her so she slipped to the floor in a heap. He smiled as he corralled his manhood. The wench looked at him in disbelief as she muttered.

“You don’t know Jack about pleasing a woman!”

His smile quickly disappeared.

“I’ve never had a wench complain before.”

“ Well you’ve never had this wench!”

She stumbled to her feet and jerked down her skirts, embarrassed when they caught on the great pumpkin. In frustration, she brushed at the back of her skirt and noticed as Jack cocked an eyebrow.

“What?” she asked.

“If I had noticed the tent in your skirt before, I would have suggested back door.”

The wench’s jaw dropped open.” You are such a scoundrel.”

Jack smiled his dirty grin. “Why thank you lass”

She sighed and tried to push past him to leave. He grabbed her around the waist and pressed his still throbbing member between the juncture of her legs. She gasped in delighted alarm.

He whispered. “You know you want me.”

“I don’t know what it is, you are such a nasty pirate but I still long for you.”

He smiled a wolf grin. “Must be my winning personality.”

She reached up and tried to lace her fingers in his hair but they got stuck “It sure as hell isn’t your dreadlocks.”

“The sweet things you say to me wench.”

“I can’t believe what a slutty sailor I have become.”She grinned.

And they had sex.

Cat O Nine Tip of the Day: Good Lord Deliver Us!

Halloween is upon us; therefore, we must be more careful of things that go bump in the night. When I'm not pursuing my freedom upon the seas, I can be found at home in Scotland, snugged up to a brawn Highlander, finding out what he wears beneath his kilt. Leave it to that bonnie nation to make a clever quote, part Halloween, part prayer--and upon which this blog is focused today:

From ghoulies and ghosties and long leggety beasties and things that go bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us!
~Scottish saying

But I'm never satisfied with just one version of this quotation, much like Andrew Jackson was never satisfied with just one way to spell a word. So I've come up with these alternate version. What do you think?

To charmers and pirates and long leggety libertines and handsome rogues that go bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us!

~Wench saying

From hunters and enemies and long leggety Krakens and things that go bump in the sea, Good Lord, deliver us!

~Pirate saying

To rum stores and lost booties and long leggety wenches and beds where we might bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us!

~Naughty pirate saying

From writer’s block and plot holes and irate, yelling editors and the slush pile from whence there is no hope of being published, Good Lord, deliver us!

~writer’s saying

I have a Halloween Treat (Pirate Loot) to send one of our guests who puts their own personal spin on that beloved Scottish saying.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Playing Pretend, Vampires and Dark Alleys... Oh My!

Arrrrgh! I love Halloween!

Halloween is a holiday purely made for my little pirate enjoyment. The whole thought of dressing up like someone your not appeals to my devious heart. You can pretend to be anything you want for a whole day. How great is that? You can be a superhero (like Batman or if you’re Hellion, you might like Capt’n Jack Sparrow, and don’t try to tell her he’s not a superhero. She’ll bite you.) Or you could be the heroine, (*ahem* Stephanie Plum or Kiera Knightly’s Elizabeth). Or you could be something complete supernatural… like a vampire.

When I think of Halloween, I think of vampires. In the dark. Making their claim on human prey. I imagine I’m the one being watched, followed, marked to be bled.

“I could tell he was behind me. It wasn’t the steady thumping on the pavement behind me. No, there was no sound behind me, but it was the way the wind whispered in my ear. Giving me warning. Telling me that even though there were shadows behind me, he was still there. Stalking me. Making me his prey. Oh yes, I knew, with a little shock of pleasure deep within my black soul. Once I stepped into the alley, he would push me against the wall and make me his. He was vampire. My blood was all he knew.”

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to be a vampire. I’ve always wanted the sharp canines, the ability to kick ass and heal myself, literally do anything within my reach because I’ve been alive so long I don’t have anything to worry about other than the sun (and who needs that anyway). Halloween is that one time for me to dream about being something I can’t be. Writing was that way for me for a long time as well.

Sometimes it just takes that one day for you to get the courage to be the one thing you’ve always wanted to be. It’s the day when you wake up determined to set out on your journey, even if it is just for one day. You have to start somewhere. With every great adventure, there is a beginning. And if it takes dressing up like everyone else to realize that you’re finally ready to break free from the mold and be who you were destined to be (whether it be a vampire or an writer), take that first step. Take that deep breath and walk over the edge. For one day a year I pretend to be a vampire. From now on, for the rest of the days, I will be a writer. I will stop pretending. I will start doing.

Halloween is just one day a year, but use it as a mind set. Be what you want to be. If you want to be a writer, don’t just want it. Be it.

Now, if you could be one thing for Halloween what would it be and how would it affect your writing?
Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Happy Holiday Week, Wenches!

So for the next week, the Pirate Wenches of the Romance Writer’s Revenge have decided to celebrate our one sacred holiday.

Arrrgh Matey, it be Halloween!

Get out your best glass eye and your best black eye patch and get ready for some racketeering! The Pirate Wenches are on the prowl!

The Pirate Poet Laureate Speaks

I met a pirate writer on the sea
Who seemed quite frolicsome to me.
She claimed she knew the quickest way
To keep your Muse from running away.
“How so?” I asked, quick to know.
My muse was always much on the go.
She whispered, “Tis going to sound trite—
But you have to sit and write.”

Good thing I wasn’t paying money for this advice.
I thought I should go while I could still be nice.
“Thank you,” I said, as I walked away.
I needed to find my Muse while it was still day.
A year passed, or maybe ten more.
My Muse despondent, writing a chore.
“I know I could write this if writing were fun.”
Why scribble when it’s crap that I should shun?

While in port, I passed a cheerful bookseller,
Who had books stacked from attic to cellar.
And the picture on the back to my chagrin,
Was that same pirate writer with a shit-eating grin!
She hadn’t just wrote one book I could see—
But scores upon scores while I’d been at sea.
“But how?” I whispered as I bought one about Jack.
“How does she write these without becoming a hack?”

“Perfection,” the seller said with a quite knowing smile,
“Is completely overrated and on its way out of style.
In yoga, you learn perfection is what you can do today.
So sit and write it all down what it is you have to say.”
He held up a hand before I could argue—was he mad?
Didn’t see I was writing already with everything I had?
“You can’t fix what isn’t written—though many a writer has tried.
But doing so leaves you revising the same sentence 'til you die.”

“But…” I said, and he shook his head.
“I have no interest in excuses, no matter how bad.
We’ve all the same troubles, the same number of hours.
Writing a book was in her, and in your considerable powers.
“You write it or you don’t, it’s simple to plot—
You either tinkle or get off the pot.”
He’s right, I thought, as I read the name of the pirate in skirts—
Lord almighty, I’d ignored advice from the Nora Roberts.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Other "F" Word...

This weekend was an exercise in FRUSTRATION. Yes, that's the *other* "F" word I'm talking about. Every Friday I have high hopes for the weekend. I have 48 hours to accomplish every single thing I didn't get done during the week. Emptying the dish washer (picking the pockets of Smelly the Dish Washer), finishing that last load of laundry (a little Whisky on that Rum stain should do the trick), eating that last piece of chocolate cake (now that's plunder!). Clearly, I have my priorities in order.

This weekend, I had one tiny homework assignment to finish (which I did) and then I could work on the writing. But the more I worked, the more frustrated I became. I realized I've only been writing on the surface. No layering. No scenery. Little action between the lines of dialogue. Where I've been used to knocking out pages in an hour, this weekend I could barely knock out two sentences in a day. And when I did manage to make it better, feel better about it, I'd page down and find more. More dreck and more work. It feels like treading water but every time I get close to the surface, someone reaches in and pushes me down again.

How do you survive this? How long can I hold my breath? How long before I walk out of the water and say to hell with it? Because I almost did that this weekend. What do you do when it's not fun anymore?

This is what I'm doing. I'm still opening the file and struggling away. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I've put blood, sweat and tears into this thing now, not to mention the money, and I couldn't live with myself if I gave up. Maybe because if I give up now, Cap'n Hellion will have my ass.

How do you deal with frustration? What do you do to keep from dropping the sails and letting the sea have her way with ya? And if you say you don't have frustration, prepare to be flogged!
Thursday, October 18, 2007

Making it Original

I was very excited to say the least when I was invited aboard Cap’n Jack’s ship. I had some reservations. I have never been a crewmember aboard a sea faring vessel. I have some experience straddling a cannon, just not on the deck of a ship… I want to tow my share of the the rope, but I realize the wenches aboard this great vessel are far more sea worthy than me.

Although I lack experience in the writing world, I wanted to be apart of this adventure to get my sea legs so to speak. I understand the basics of writing a novel. I know I need a character sketch, an outline, a plot, a synopsis and a query letter when the time comes. I know I need an agent and eventually a publisher. I know I need a heroine and a hero and I understand why a protagonist needs an antagonist. I need a muse to feed me, but she can only help provide the words and direction. My problem is getting past the first important step in writing a novel.

I have tried on occasion to do a character sketch and I have succeeded…in creating the perfect Mary Sue. My heroine always turns out exactly the way I wish I could be. My hero is always the most dead sexy male fantasy that I could ever imagine. Hell I even love to hate my villains.

Therefore, my question is this. How do you create characters with believable flaws that you can still embrace as your own? Do you have to like your heroine? More importantly, does it serve a purpose for her to behold qualities you find irritating?

I know the drill; never create a character that has the physical attributes and abilities that you find unattainable. This I can understand, where the line gets a little grey for me, is how I can create a heroine I believe in if she doesn’t share some of my own aspirations.

If I can embrace my characters, I can pass on that emotional connection to my readers. I want to create a hero and heroine that captivate the reader long after they close my book. I am excited about creating lives and situations for characters that I can call my own. However, I want them to be realistic, not superficial. I want to walk away at the completion of my novel and have pride in knowing I created characters readers want to believe are more real than fiction.

With that being said, I think the first order of business is to swab the deck of all extra baggage.

*Looking sternly at Mary Sue who is hunkered down in the bow of the ship*

“You‘ve been a cast away aboard this ship long enough. Come forth wench and walk the plank.”

Cat-O-Nine Tip of the Day

This ship is full of a bunch of whiners.

First “I got busy and didn’t have time” and then “I’m busy procrastinating” and yesterday’s, “It wasn’t flowing and I’ve only now got my groove back.”

I swear to God, I’m going to start flailing the tails, my little buccaneers, and then you’ll know what real pain is! Do you think pirates only steal when they feel like it? No. They’re pirates. They steal ALL THE TIME, even if they’re on their last leg…and arm. Whatever. Getting booty doesn’t just happen when you feel like it. When you’re inspired. When you’re in the mood. Being a pirate is a job…and as Pirate Red said, “Work is work. It’s not fun. If work were fun, it’d be called happy fun time.”

Pirate Red is perhaps less familiar than the Dread Pirate Roberts, who said, “Life is pain, princess. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

So anyone who tells you writing isn’t hard—is selling their book of “Secrets to Writing: How to Write Your Novel Painlessly” for the reasonable price of $29.99—and should be tied to the cannon and flogged. Writing is hard. You might have some second-wind moments where you really are enjoying your pirating—and I admit, there are those days. And yes, it IS useless to pursue booty on a ship without plunder—but if you’re abandoning all ships because of that excuse, you might have to reconsider the notion you’re a lazy pirate. And life is pain. And work is work. Inspiration is for sissy pirates.

If you're going to be a writer, the first essential is just to write. Do not wait for an idea. Start writing something and the ideas will come. You have to turn the faucet on before the water starts to flow.

~Louis L'Amour

Now it’s time for a few rounds of a shanty tune. Nothing like making work easier than a song, yes? Okay…now sing along!

What shall we do with a shirking writer?

What shall we do with a shirking writer?

What shall we do with a shirking writer

Whining at the keyboard?

Throw her into bed with a man named Ranger

Throw her into bed with a man named Ranger

Throw her into bed with a man named Ranger—

That’ll help her story!

What shall we do with a shirking writer?

What shall we do with a shirking writer?

What shall we do with a shirking writer

Whining at the keyboard?

Tie her up, Ranger, until she’s inspired

Tie her up, Ranger, until she’s inspired

Tie her up, Ranger, until she’s inspired

And show her what a tongue is for!

What shall we do with a shirking writer?

What shall we do with a shirking writer?

What shall we do with a shirking writer

Whining at the keyboard?

Flog her and tease her until she cries mercy!

Flog her and tease her until she cries mercy!

Flog her and tease her until she cries mercy!

And begs to go back writing…

Anyone else got any lyrics they want to add?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What to do When a Rival Pirate Steals Your Booty. (Or otherwise known as: “How I got my groove back when my muse decided to drink rum.”)

I’m playing off Hellion’s blog of yesterday. So if you’ve procrastinated yourself into a coma, get your bonny ass to yesterday’s blog and read her fabulous blog and catch up!

Writing isn’t always fun and games.

We would all like to think that we sit down to the computer (or pen and paper if you’re real old school) and pump out 80,000 words in a month and submit it to a publisher and voila! you’re a published writer.

But I’ve realized it doesn’t work that way. And you shouldn’t expect it to be either.

Procrastination is a pirate killer. It causes you to walk the plank, and swim in a circle for hours at a time. And by the time that you’re ready to get back in the ship, you’re surrounded by sharks that have other plans for you. They suck all your energy until you can’t climb back in the ship and resume your writing. You find yourself trying to find reasons to climb back in the ship until you can’t remember the reason why you walked the plank in the first place but there’s no one whispering in your ear anymore. Your muse has jumped ship. She’s been on a deserted island, drinking up all Capt’n Jack’s rum (sorry Hellion!) and roasting her lazy ass on the white sand.

Recently, I roped that bitch back to my side.

For months I spent trying to write. I wasn’t exactly procrastinating as much as I was forcing my writing. It’s almost just as bad. Everything I wrote was mechanical, unreadable, no emotion, no feeling. It just left a bad taste in my mouth. I tried everything I knew. I tried writing something else. I tried focusing on honing a part of my writing. I tried writing sentences to spark an idea. I tried writing on a different chapter. I tried writing some fluff (which I’m very very bad at) and I even took a break from the computer (the biggest sin of them all!). And nothing worked. Nothing at all. And it was frustrating. I’m not the type that talks about things when I’m frustrated. I just let it fester into a boil that won’t go away.

Finally I figured out the key to my muse. Lure her back with the promise of writing whatever she wants.

I dunno if this works for everyone, but I live by freedom in my writing. I’m a free spirit. I write like the wind and let the wind be my guide. When I try to rein myself in, I get all bottled up and I can’t write. At all. So no more of that. I will write on a whelm. I will have a good time doing it. I will not restrain myself. Restraint is good for keeping the info dump away but allowing freedom in your writing is good for your muse.

Sunday, my muse was back with a bad sunburn and a bad attitude. Like usual. She boosted my ass back into the ship and handed me my keyboard. She told me to get my ass in shape or she’d never stay. And with that, I wrote the best 3000 words I’ve written since February. But of course, she doesn’t want to write what I need to write. She wants to write something new. Something fresh. Something that we both know and can attest to. And it made me happy to write for the first time in a year. I can’t tell you the freedom I felt when my fingers hit that keyboard. I can’t remember the last time I pumped out 3k in less than six hours. I used to do it all the time. It’s something I find joy in. And I’ve finally got it back.

So this was my little tale of how I got my pirate groove back. And it didn’t take a jug of rum and a session of pillaging (though I thought about it seriously for a while). What exercises do you use when the procrastination bug strikes? And if it’s never hit you, do you have a back-up plan ready?
Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Do It Right Now

Writing and procrastination. They seem to go hand in hand, don’t they?

Pirates procrastinate like no one’s business. Something to do with the rum. Boatswain Terri doesn’t know how to procrastinate (see: yesterday) because she schedules in her own rum and potty breaks, but we other pirates don’t have schedules—and we find that free time where we get to choose how to spend it when we get it is wasted on rum, men, and song.

These are not bad ways to waste time. There was this brawn lad in Glasgow once I…. Uh, gotta keep the blog length manageable, but let me say, it’s not a bad way to spend time. It just won’t get your book written. You need to write your book.

We procrastinate for the craziest of reasons. Like…I’m waiting for my muse to inspire me. No, your muse is drunk with you—and trying to steal your men while she’s at it. Waiting for your trollopy muse to inspire you is like waiting for a man to get up and do the dishes.

You end up doing the dishes, right? Usually after you’ve nagged him to death and finally given up he will do anything about it. And the dishes are just as clean and done as if you had had him do them.

So reverse your normal mantra and instead say: Write now, procrastinate later.

What’s your favorite thing to procrastinate on? And how do you procrastinate? Any rum takers?

P.S. I’m promoting The Romance Vagabonds today because Dee S. Knight is blogging today. She writes these *hawt* books with characters so real you want them to be your neighbors. Go talk to her!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Best Laid Plans or Damn It all to Hell!

Ever have one of those days when you have the entire day planned down to the amount of rum you'll drink? You know what village you'll be pillaging, what treasure you'll be stealing, what ship you'll be borrowing. You even know what you're going to wear. Well, since we're pirates, we're most likely wearing what we wore yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that. What d'ya mean I smell? I just bathed a couple months ago!

Anyway, I understand you land lubbers like to bathe everyday and smell all pretty. Whatever. Back to my point. So, you know exactly what you're doing, got it all planned out. And then something completely unexpected happens and it's all shot to hell. This happened to me yesterday. Let's just say if I don't see the inside of a people emergency room or an animal emergency room for a long time, it'll be too soon.

But I also have this happen in books whether it's when I'm trying to write mine or trying to read just one chapter of someone else's before I head off to the old hammock. In writing, my characters decide they don't want to wait any longer, by golly they're going to lock lips and there's nothing I can do about it but type the damn words. Or when I'm reading and the author, having taken many classes and workshops and studied the craft, ends the chapter with the most surprising and exciting cliff hanger ever! I can't just throw me legs up and swing meself to sleep after that. I have to keep reading. I have to find out what happens next.

Now what I need is to know I ain't the only one this here stuff happens to. Do your books always go just as you planned? Characters are quiet and cooperative and wait patiently for you to tell them what to do? Are you able to put that book down and blow out the candle no matter how that author ended that chapter? Or are you stuck reading all night or until your candle runs out of wax? And have you ever been to an animal emergency room? It was actually kind of interesting…
Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Art of Flow

When the work is flowing, it will feel like a river coursing, a wind blowing, a door opening – with the creator herself having become only a conduit, a tube, a funnel, a hinge. Even if it bears the marks of her own personality, her own time-bound existence on the planet the world’s impetus comes from a mysterious source outside the self.
~Erica Jong~

I can move through life for weeks without one inspiration, then at the very last moment I expect it my muse strikes like lightening. I’m sure you all have experienced the same phenomenon. You’re sitting in a restaurant with your family and unexpectedly, you see a flash of the perfect solution to the scene you have been wrestling in your mind for weeks.

My ultimate high is sitting in front of my computer after a revelation, typing as fast as my fingers can move, as the words flow from my mind to the page. That moment is when it all comes together, when every word that I type seems better than the last.

It’s like magic.

Trying to explain to a non-writer what it is like to create the perfect scene is difficult. It’s why we need to share our experiences in support of our craft.

Athletes get high on physical performance. Pirates get high on the pillage of hidden treasure.*g* Politicians get high on the campaign and the smooze, but writers get high on the articulation of words.

In the operating room when my entire day has been as proficient as clock work the satisfaction is about a job well done, but putting the finishing touch on a story that I have created is so much more. Writing is something that I do solely on my own. I don’t depend on anyone for the equipment to do the job but me.

This brings me back to the subject of my fickle muse.

My muse and I can be either best buds or mortal enemies, but when she really comes through for me, she gives me the best gift of all.

The right words to get the story told.

When your muse checks in after a long dry spell, do you feel the same high?

Cat-O-Nine Tip of the Day

Still lurking on blogs, I see, instead of writing. This ship is getting way too lax. I say, does everyone need a reminder in the form of: Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves? *frowns*

All right, well, while you're here, shirking off, pay attention. The only thing you need to know about writing is this:

If the writer has a masterpiece within, he had better save it on paper. Otherwise, none of us will ever miss it.
~Steve Martini

Or I can spell it out for you: Sit down and WRITE IT. We can't buy your book if you don't take the time and effort to write it down.

Lord, I swear, some of the people on this ship need helmets.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Disaster Strikes in Many Forms

I'm particularly fond of disaster.

Especially when it concerns my heroine.

I like to write the darker side of fiction. When I'm writing, angst just automatically inserts itself into my paragraphs. The wilder and darker the scene the more my muse rubs her grubby little hands together and giggles gleefully. I believe that when writing disaster it should be written as though you were seeing it through your own eyes. You should be able to smell the burning building, the strong stench of blood. You should be able to feel the pain, the bone sticking through the skin, the way the blood feels rubbing between her fingers. The way her eyes burn trying to hold back the tears, the way her nose keeps running but then she realizes her nose is bleeding. You should feel the moment she pulls the trigger, walks out of the building and takes that first fresh breath of air into her lungs. You should feel the relief when she collapses against the hero, and cries those tears into his shirt and pulls the strength she needs from him. If she would've hesitated one second she wouldn't be standing there. If he would've been one second late, he wouldn't have made it to be there at the precise second. It's all about the scenery, the timing and emotion.

Disaster hinges all on a perfected second. One missed step in a disaster and all goes to hell in a hand basket. No laughter. No jokes. Pure hellish disasters leaves you forgetting to breathe while you reading along. Well written disasters has you reading pages like you're a prized thoroughbred racing in the Triple Crown. It leaves you gasping. It leaves you jumping out of your chair, screaming at the book, "OMG! OMG! OMG!". You can't put it down even if it's four am and you have a meeting at seven. And to write a disaster scene like this, you have to write the perfect lead in. You have to lead your reader right into the scene like you have them on a short leash. In this disaster you have a moment of truth so profound that a reader goes, "I should've known! How did I not get that!"

To get that perfect lead you have to have the ultimate twist. I won't give any details or examples because I don't wanna rat out anyone accidentally or even myself, but try to think of something that you would never think possible and make it happen. Stretch reality as far as you possibly can, make it believable and there is your perfect storm (the lead in). It's a moment that the hero/heroine looks in the face of what could be and does the opposite. They do the unthinkable. That's what made them your hero/heroine in the first place. You can't predict when the disaster is going to happen or how your characters will react (we can only manipulate to our satisfaction :) but the fact that we know our hero/heroine will try to save the day is a given. But will they do it victoriously? It's all up to you and the disaster.

Now, what is the best disaster scene you've ever read and what is something you think about when writing your disaster? Or do you not prefer disaster scenes?

A Question of Character

Commonly, we as writers are told to continue questioning. Sage advice. Especially if you're the sort of writer who plots by the seat of her pants. (This is the same kind of person who would attempt parachuting by checking to see if she actually grabbed a parachute after she leaped out of a plane, the kind of person who would steal a ship--and then realize she probably can't sail it all the way to Tortuga all by her lonesome.) The Wily E. Coyote of Writers.

So for us Wily types, we're reminded to question, and naturally because our questions tend to be of the "What If" variety, because those are more fun and easier to answer--we think that's what it means.

No. It's not that simple. Just like there isn't just one type of ship to sail or man to date, there is not just one question to ask when writing your Great American Novel (GAN).

There's two. Only question two is trickier than "What if?"--it's "Why?"

Figuring out your characters' motives is rather like the numerous times when your mother, beleaguered expression on her face, asked "WHY?" You flailed around looking for the reason why the cat was covered in yogurt, or the entire bag of brussel sprouts had been used in a nefarious scientific experiment, or...your little sister now had a mohawk. You certainly couldn't say the truth: Because it sounded like fun--or you were bored. That was not an acceptable excuse. If you're that bored, she would find you something productive to do. No, no, so you had to devise other reasons WHY--and it usually entailed "It was the cat's idea" or "Sissy said you said it was okay."

It's no wonder you're incapable of finding appropriate character motivation now, after all those years of having it drummed out of you. It's like learning to walk all over again.

You'll be tripping along going, "What if my heroine goes to a New Year's Eve party?" "Why?" "Because her friend asked her to." "Why?" "Because they're friends! She always does things for her friends!" "Why?" "Because...she...uh...wants people to like her." "Why?" "Because she doesn't have any self-confidence." "Why?" "Because her childhood sucked." (Around this point the "Why?" usually gets substituted for "So?" or "Who cares?"--and you start bashing your keyboard.)

"Why" is a tricky, yet important question. You have to answer "Why" to explain character, and character is usually WHY people are going to read your book. They want to experience and empathize vicariously through a character who is like them, only bigger. "Why" always has to be answered, because unlike us, who can answer "why" with random idiocy like, "Because it seemed like a good idea at the time" or "Because I wanted to"--characters in books actually have to have a reason for doing things (or at least the BIG things).

Why? Because they're larger than life--and we readers like life explained. We're all looking for a little meaning here in the chaos, are we not?

Why answers character motivation. It doesn't have to be a "huge, wonderful" motive, but it does have to be believable. If your character believes in his motive for doing something--wholeheartedly--it is most likely you'll get your readers to believe it to. Revealing a motive is like telling a lie--tell a big enough one and everyone believes it.

So what do you think is the most important question to ask when plotting? How do you determine character motivation?
Monday, October 8, 2007

Information Overload!!!

This weekend I ventured onto shore to attended my first writer's conference ever and my head is still spinning. The New Jersey Romance Writers Put Your Heart in a Book Conference is incredible and I first have to send out major kudos to that entire chapter for throwing a stellar event. I cannot begin to imagine the hours of work and dedication required to ensure success on that scale. It was very well organized, offered an incredible amount of information, and brought together some of the best writers in our industry. Plus, they offered priceless support to those of us still chasing that publishing dream.

I attended workshops about asking the right story question, writing dialogue like a pro (which means focusing on more than just the words between the quotes), and upping the emotional and sensual ante in a love scene. There were the keys to creating a beta hero, a page turner and pitching in a way that is sure to get you a request as well as tips on how to present yourself as a brand and how to navigate the rough seas of the publishing industry.

The biggest thing I've learned in the last week is how much I have to learn. But the good news is I know more than I used to. I'm still processing the new knowledge but I wanted to give some of the tips I thought were the biggest light-bulb moments for me.

1) If you have a beta hero, he must have an alpha moment at the end of the story. He has to step up when it counts, fight for what he loves and take charge of the situation. And it helps if he's rich from the beginning. *g*

2) End every chapter with a lingering question. That doesn't mean actually have a question but throw in something that makes the reader HAVE to keep reading to find out what happens next. The trick is to give them some piece of information they didn't expect. For instance, if your hero is a cop and he is supposed to find the villain, when he finally comes face to face with him, make them sound like friends. Give the impression these two have a history of some sort and make the reader question what they think they know about the hero? Isn't he supposed to be a good guy? Why would he be friends with this ruthless mobster? The reader would never be able to put the book down and go to sleep with that question lingering in their minds. We hope.

3) Keep asking questions. If your story is about a woman who runs away, ask yourself why no one went after her? If your hero and heroine have a fight and the heroine walks out, ask yourself why she would refuse to listen to his explanation. If you don't ask, the reader will and they better be able to find the answer in the story or that book is going against the wall.

4) Get to know your characters. What is in your heroine's purse? What is in your hero's closet? Does she always have a mirror? Does he have an old box of letters? When is her birthday and what does it tell about her personality? Is he the oldest child or the youngest? Knowing these details make it easier to know exactly what your character's reactions and behaviors will be in any situation.

There is a great deal more but my notes are still in the truck and I'm still not completely awake. But this is a good beginning. If you have attended a conference, give us one of your biggest light-bulb moments. If you haven't, do you plan to attend one soon and if so, what do you hope to get out of it.

PS: There is also lots of socializing and networking involved in a conference but those topics will be covered at a later time. *g*
Friday, October 5, 2007

Calling a Spade a Spade...

*Powder Monkey Lisa sitting high a top her cannon, rubbing it affectionately.*

Today dear mateys I would like to forge into the subject of appropriate description in writing a sex scene. Particularly describing what to call anatomy without reducing it to "He stuck his hard, throbbing tab A into her wet, hot, tight slot B."

When I write a sex scene my mood reflects in my description. If I've experienced a particularly stressful day I write balls to the wall sex. There are no holds barred on adjectives or terminology. In other words I don't care to call a cock a cock.

This brings me to the subject of what not to call a cock.

1. Throbbing member (sounds painful)

2. Hard Manhood (sounds like a hood ornament)

3. Pulsating Vessel ( sounds like a party boat....wait a minute maybe I need to rethink this one.)

I know these terms are often found in cheesy romance novels, and are perfect for some readers who don't feel comfortable with graphic terminology, but those readers need to get in touch with prolific anatomy terms. And personally I am a writer who wants to join the ranks of those who can open a whole new sensual experience for the sheltered reader.

Now for a trip through what I like to coin Bush Gardens, or the female anatomy. For me personally, even on a balls to the wall sex writing day, I find it difficult to call a clit a clit. I've never liked the term. It is impossible to find a word that describes a clit without sounding ridiculous. I have sited some examples below.

1. Hard nub (sounds like it belongs in a box of corn nibblets...)

2. Ground Zero (It seems wrong to name a clit after a historical monument.)

3. Pleasure Piece (well put that in your pipe and smoke it!)

And on an even lower note the terms used for the vagina. This is the only part of the the anatomy other than the penis that I deem necessary to rename. The term vagina and penis are too medical to sound sexy to me, thus bringing us back to the mechanical insert tab A into slot B.

Terms not to call a vagina.

1. Tunnel of Love (this is a ride found at an amusement park!)

2. Velvet Glove (Conjures images of Michael Jackson ewww...)

3. Pussy (A term I admit I use at times, but *cough* hair ball...)

On a more serious note, I find that the best smut I write is the least descriptive. I describe more about what the characters sense than the act being performed. I think that I learned something very valuable early on in my writing and that is- Less is More. Describing the way a character feels in a sensual situation can be far more stimulating than describing the actual act itself.

I'm ending with this question-how much description is too much in a sex scene, or is it all or nothing for you?
Thursday, October 4, 2007

Cat-O-Nine Tip of the Day

Nothing profound. If you want profound, read Sin's blog again, then fake your way happily through your current chapter in progress. What are you doing, shirking about on blogs when you should be writing anyway? What do you think this is anyway? A bloody cruise?

Here are your inspirations...pirated straight out of an email about writing quotations.

Often I'll find clues to where the story might go by figuring out where the characters would rather not go.
~Doug Lawson

A story has been thought to its conclusion when it has taken its worst possible turn.
~Friedrich Durrenmatt

Cat-o-Nine Writing Tip of the Day: make your characters suffer. Give them a boat, then blow holes in it. Make them captain, mutiny, then maroon them on an island. (*gimlet stare at Sin and BSTerrio* Don't be gettin' any ideas!) Send your single character out on a date, then have the date turn out to be a pig killer with video feeds. Suffering makes character. Remember that.

Now get back to writing.

Tomorrow, Powder Monkey Lisa will blog about the merits of...I'm not sure really. Does anyone have any idea what PM Lisa will be talking about? No? Well, that's a bit frightening, isn't it? She could talk about anything then...

Well, who said there wasn't any danger in pirating?
Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Faking it... An art form of acquiring perfection.

"Life is like a dirty pirate ship, you never know who your mates are gonna be."

There is a lot to be said for a supportive cast.

Especially when they are a seductive group like aboard the Romance Writer’s Revenge. And in honor of the sultry wenches on board, I’m going to take the time out to talk about a subject that’s near and dear to a lusty wench’s heart.

Faking it.

Now, I know you’re groaning and thinking where the hell is she going to take this. But I assure you there matey, this topic holds no bounds.

There are things to be said for faking it. If you fake it, you don’t have much to worry about if you do it right. Faking it absolves you of a guilty pleasure you might have gotten from it. Faking it allows you to think of the gardener, the hottie half your age that winked at you, next week’s episode of Moonlight *clearing throat*. And faking it can be done at any time of the day, no matter the circumstances. But faking-it just isn’t laying there and taking it. Faking-it is an art form that requires perfection. It’s a well honed skill that, if mastered, can serve you well for the rest of your life in all facets.

But be aware, there is this little place in the deep dark corner of your heart that just gets a kick out of ruining all the fun faking-it can bring you. There are sometimes that faking it isn’t your best option. When you’re so into it, that faking it isn’t even considered. When the only thing in your mind is you and him and the moment. Special times in your life when faking it is very inappropriate- like when the face god graces you with his presence.

Writing sex is the same way.

I’m not going to write today about those truly inspired moments. We all have them. Those moments are worthy of a blog, but not like this. Instead, I’m going to talk about those dark moments in your life when sex is the furthest thing from your mind. The times when faking it is the only option you’ve got to save the relationship of your WIP and the stunted writer in you.

You can NOT know sex and write a good sex scene. Faking a sex scene can be some of the hottest sex ever caught on page. If you allow yourself free thought flow, allow no-holds-barred-anything-goes, then you quite possibly will write something you never thought sexually possible. For a lot of us, plain Jane sex is the norm. It’s something we grew up knowing, it’s something that’s easy for us to get into the groove with. It allows us to be comfortable. And we all LOVE to be comfortable. But when faking-it, you should go for it. Always. Push past that comfortable zone. There is no room for sweatpants in the faking-it territory.

When I write sex, I like to push boundaries. I like to write things I don’t know if I could ever possibly do or would even want to contemplate. The wilder the scene for me, the better I feel about faking-it. Anger, spontaneity, that first taste of ecstasy as you know you’re doing something forbidden. I love it all. And I love the scene that follows directly after when the pair (or group, if you will), realize what just transpired and try to backtrack. But there is no going back from passion like that. But there are times that forcing it is my only option. When my words feel stunted, the scene feels cold, the characters not working together or bouncing off each other. It’s those times when you realize writing a sex scene can feel horribly awkward and there will be times that you pull up the word processor and you’re trying to put those words to fruition but it just isn’t happen. You just aren’t feeling it. These are those times that you need a back-up plan. Your faking-it-plan (FIP).

There is only one phrase that I remember when I resort to my FIP.

“If you’re gonna fake-it, you better bring it.”

This means if you’re going to fake the whole sex scene you better dump all the emotion you can muster up and pull out all the stops. The FIP requires concentration and to write everything you can find at the moment in your little writing brain (it can always be smoothed out and edited later on. The goal is to get something on paper that is half way workable.)

It has to be one of those scenes that literally burns up the monitor, shuts down your word processor, makes you and your momma fan yourselves when you re-read it. (And I know what you’re thinking, “Your momma!? You let your momma read that?” Well, yeah, my mother is a woman. And I’m a writer. If I’m ever going to get out of the rut of being embarrassed, you have to let go. Who better to teach you this than your mother? Your mother has seen you through every embarrassing moment of your life… but this is another blog at another time.)

And PS- Nothing embarrasses me. Just ask Hellion. My mother gets embarrassed at my ability to never be embarrassed.

Faking it requires a certain pizzazz that you wouldn’t normally bring to the table. You have to be spot on perfect; your performance depends on your execution. One false move and the reader is going to laugh you off and shut the book. And they won’t pick you back up. The goal is to be realistic while pushing your limit. Never written a sex scene in a shower? To employ the FIP you have to be willing to take a risk. Writing is always a risk, but be willing to go out on that extra limb for a sex scene you’re stumped with. Give that FIP flava.

In the same respect, there is a fine line to tread when faking it. You get too showy, get too porn-like (ie: “Give it to me daddy! Oh Yeah! Right there!”) I assure you, if your character is screeching that at the top of their lungs and you’re writing a contemporary romance where your character is a little shy and self-conscience, you’re NOT doing the FIP scene justice. Even worse if you’re writing a historical. I’m not saying that doesn’t ever happen. I’m saying it’s not likely and your reader is going to feel the same way. Remember your target audience and your characters when making your FIP. Stay within your realm. If your character is willing to take risks, take that chance with the FIP. Be willing to take a chance for yourself. This goes hand and hand with the risk factor. I know you have guts. You’re a writer for goodness sakes. Trust your instincts. Shut down that inner critiquer and get down to business!

The FIP is depicted solely on your writing style. It’s based on what tools you use in order to get in the mood. So tell me, when you write a sex scene what do you require in order to write it? And when you’re in the mood to fake it, what do you do differently?
Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Roll Call

The crew members have pointed out perhaps we should give a bit of a brief statement about us and our ship. We are writing pirates on the ship, Romance Writer's Revenge, which we all credit the naming of to Terrio, whom you'll meet in a minute. Keep your britches on.

Our mission is to...well, be pirates. Okay, not like that. We're different. We like to bathe. Not together. Get your minds out of the gutter.

We've banded together, rebels, who write because there is no greater freedom than that which can be found between the pages of... *tomato thrown at her by Boatswain Terrio* Hey! *glowering* We're eating that later. Once we acquire a cook. Now mind yourself, or I'll turn the Captain's Daughter on you.

Please let me introduce Quartermaster Sin. *pointing to a leggy brunette who looks like she'd as soon kick your ass as look at you, dressed in black, all black* Nearly six-feet tall and enough to give the rest of us inferiority complexes if we thought about it too much. She writes like a hurricane, and this is without the bionic hand she wishes she could have.

*pointing to a shorter (who isn't shorter than QM Sin?) auburn-haired pirate in blues and silvers, black knee boots looking particularly fetish-like* This is Boatswain Terrio, our chief petty officer (emphasis on petty) and here to boost our morale. *Terrio swishes cat-o-nine tails* Despite the accessories and pirate attire, Terrio writes contemporary romance without a single whip to be featured in it.

If you want whips, I suggest reading Sin's stuff. I'd tell you what she writes, but on any given day, I doubt Sin could tell me. *grins*

Over here, *pointing to a young woman straddling a cannon, looking quite at home* is Powder Monkey Lisa. We've just acquired her to load the cannons--I hear she's wonderful with big guns. She also writes contemporary romance, but I believe she prefers to call it "smut." Poor gel, the only thing worth writing, really.

And I am Captain Hellion. I doubt any introductions are necessary.

So this is who we are...and what we're about. Who are you....*grins* and what are you about?
Monday, October 1, 2007

Everything We Know About Writin' We Learned From Captain Jack Sparrow

Yes, you've probably already seen this. I pirated it from meself, but I stand by the fact it's an oldie but goodie. Don your eye patch and brandish your sword, you’re about to learn to be a writer the pirate way.

1.)Establish your reputation. “But you have heard of me,” Jack says smugly, when Norrington comments that Jack’s the worst pirate he’s ever heard of. Network, network, network. The more people who know you in the business, the better chance you’ll have to show you mean to make writing your career. Jack established he was a pirate—and we all know he’s the best pirate there is. He said so. That being said….

2.)Believe in yourself. There isn’t anyone who believes more in Jack’s credentials as the world’s best pirate than Jack himself; and frankly, you, as a writer, need to do the same. Writing is a lonely business; and being left alone with your inner critic day in and day out can have you questioning your career path. Even when Jack is feeling a bit down, he knows deep down he is a great pirate—and you must do the same. Like Jack, perhaps a bit of rum will help. It’s certainly done a lot for my manuscript.

3.)Stop being a pirate…er…writer? Never! Jack didn’t have a ship, a crew, or even a bottle of rum; however, he was still a pirate. Think of yourself in similar terms: you’re a writer first. It’s not just a hobby; it’s not something to hide or do only when you’ve made everyone else happy. If you consider yourself as a writer first, people will also start to think of you that way—and it will be easier to carve out more time for writing because people will expect it.

4.)Have fun. Do you think Jack likes being a pirate? No, Jack loves being a pirate; he embraces it. He says, “Pirate.” So if people are staring at you oddly when you’re jotting down brilliant tidbits on napkins, laughing manically to yourself, and correcting the grammar on restaurant menus, just give them the Captain Jack look and say, ‘Writer.’”

5.)Be on the lookout for new treasure. Jack never failed to find bits of treasure lying about—usually unwatched—which he could immediately pocket. Pay attention to your surroundings. Life is absurd and full of characters. You’ll never know when you find the perfect real life person to portray your quirky Lord Herrington. (Disclaimer: while Captain Jack does abscond, most roguishly, with unprotected treasure, he does not steal copyrighted treasure—and neither should you.)

6.)Speak and deliver. Jack is an Ace at one-liners (“Savvy?”), and he’s memorable in practically everything he says. Memorable writing keeps readers running to the store for your next book—so be loud, be proud, and be your own voice, not anyone else’s…and you’ll be as memorable and beloved as Jack.

7.)Get into character. There would not have been a Pirates of the Caribbean without Captain Jack Sparrow. He made that movie; no doubt about it. Plot is great; plot tells the story, but characters sell books and keep readers wanting more. Create great characters and you’ll have a great book, even if your virgin secretary is having a secret baby.

8.)Get into trouble. If there’s anything Jack does well, it’s get into trouble. Then he spends an inordinate amount of time trying to get out of it, only making it worse. And we love him for it. Do the same to your characters. Where there’s trouble, there’s conflict; where there’s conflict, there’s story. Give your characters a ship, then blow holes in it.

9.)Seize the “Opportune Moment.” Jack knows how to create his own luck and seize opportunity. He doesn’t wait for people to bring him treasure; he takes it. Therefore, don’t keep your finished manuscripts lurking under the bed because you don’t think they’re polished enough for an editor’s eagle eye. Query, query, query. Rejection is a part of the business, even pirate business. Jack might get slapped now and again, but he still thinks he’s quite the catch.

10.)Find a dependable crew. Did Jack face nasty Barbossa alone? No. He took some equally rum-soaked pirates with him. You should do the same. Find like-minded, rum-soaked writers and sail the treacherous waters of the Slush Pile and Critic’s Hell. Every once in a while you’ll hit upon treasure—and in the meantime, you’ll have a lot of fun doing it!

11.)Be daft (like Jack). People are going to think you’re daft for wanting to write a book, and even dafter for going through the crap shoot of getting it published. There will be plot twists that will even have you thinking, “They’ll think I’m a lunatic. I can’t have an alien abduction at a Regency tea party!” But as Jack says, when his madness is brought into question, “Well thank goodness for that, 'cause if I wasn't this would probably never work.” If you over think your ideas and don’t allow your “madness” room to romp in your manuscript, you’ll end up with a book that is overdone, trite, and not at all in your original voice.

12.)Savvy that “they’re more like guidelines anyway.” Learn the rules of writing–then break them. Put a twist on them and make them your own. Except for that rule about spelling and grammar–that’s one you shouldn’t break. Nothing more annoying to the Grammar from Hell Editor than a misspelled manuscript. But most everything else is fair game, Jack says.

Whatever your writing genre, find your strengths, strengthen your weaknesses and walk that plank of being a writer. If you take the chance and follow Captain Jack’s advice, you might end up Captain yourself.

What has the fair and witty Jack taught you about writing (or living)?