Thursday, December 30, 2010

REPLAY: PCC's The Happy Ending

I threw my boots on over my pink POTC pajama pants and flew out of the cabin. Once my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I found a young, blond hottie and shook him awake.

“I can’t do it again, Gunner. You worked me all night,” he said, eyes shut tight. It must have been true what they say about pregnant women being horny.

“Your body is safe from me, darling.” Glancing down I added, “For now at least.” Indeed, I wasn’t dead.  “But I need you to round up the hotties and collect all the rum on this ship.”

The rest of the instructions I whispered in his ear, then watched him stagger up the stairs to do my bidding.

The Captain doesn’t know how to celebrate Christmas?


Dashing back into the cabin, I skidded then landed flat on my ass. I was really going to have to clean up this sand.  A hottie would be on Hoover duty on the morrow.

Booting up the laptop, I found the bumbling beggars who’d accosted me the day before looking for a hand-out. A quick email and part B of the plan was set in motion.

Now, to wake the crew. And I knew just how to do it. “Wake up you mangy bildge-rats!” I bellowed, pounding on every cabin door I passed. “I want every writing pirate on this ship on the top deck in five minutes!”

A loud thud sounded from each cabin and the resulting groans made me smile. I ignored the three thuds that echoed from Sin’s cabin. No wonder she’d ordered the extra large hammock.

One by one, they scurried into line as I reclined in my Captain’s chair. A more motley lot I’d never seen. And I couldn’t have been prouder.

“You’re late. What do you have to say for yourselves?”

They looked from one to the other, mouths clamped shut. I let them suffer a bit longer then demanded, “Someone answer me.”

Immediately, the crew thrust Bo’sun forward. That’s what she got for being the talker of the bunch.

“We’re, uhm, sorry?”

“Argh, a sorry lot you are. It’s time I did what I should have done a long time ago. Turn your sorry asses around and march.”

Frozen in place, they’re eyes grew to the size of pieces of eight.

Chance muttered to Santa, “She’s throwin’ us to the Kraken. And he ain’t eaten in days. I never should have tried to hug ‘er.”

“I smell like the galley. He’s going to pick me first,” Santa said with an audible gulp.

Scuttlebutt spit in my direction. “This is going to totally fuck up your karma, just so you know.”

“I gave you an order, now turn around.”

Finally following my command, they turned as one … then squealed in surprise. There in front of them, covering the entire back half of the ship, was a make-shift island made up of what must have been a ton of sand and glitter dotted with half a dozen inflatable palm trees. In the center stood a towering Christmas tree decorated with flash drives, ink cartridges and empty rum bottles.

Our hottie crew had proved to be quite resourceful. I made a mental note to give Blondie a special bonus.

The crew raced to the tree, each finding a present with her name on it. Sin ripped into hers and beamed as she pulled shiny new ninja stars from the box. Bo’sun hugged her new Netbook to her chest, and Marn was showing the matching pirate booties and onesies to all who would indulge her.

J Perry found new beads of every color imaginable then settled in a corner to work on a new necklace. Santa mooned over the box of fragrant, imported cheeses, and Hal looked to be speechless as she flipped through the pages of 101 Ways to Kill Without Making a Mess.

I noticed Chancey standing off to the side, looking forlorn at not finding a present of her own.

It was time to give her what she wanted most.

I tapped her on the shoulder. “What’s the matter, Mo?”  She tried to look like she didn’t care, but I saw the mist in her eyes.

She ran her nose across her sleeve and said, “Nothing, Cap’n. I’m good. I know I ain’t been on the crew long so’s it makes sense I wouldn’t get nothing.”

I smiled. “But I do have a present for you, Mo.”

She looked back to the tree where all the presents were opened, then back at me in confusion.

“It’s right here.” I threw my arms wide, waiting for her to figure it out. Within seconds I found myself wrapped in the biggest bear hug I’d ever experienced.

Part of my brain twitched and told me to push her off, but I held on tight anyway. Looking up to the sky I whispered, “I won’t blow this second chance, Jane. I promise.”

Just when I thought Chance would squeeze me into an early grave, Sin tapped me on the shoulder.

“Here,” she said, handing me the box she’d tried to give me the day before.

“What is it?”

Looking very pleased with herself, Sin said, “Just the phone number to a certain hottie from the past who might consider giving you another chance at the mushy stuff.”

I couldn’t believe it. My own potential happy ending. Wrapped up in a neat little package with a bow on top.

“How did you find him?”

“International Super Secret Pirate Ninja Tart Spies have their ways,” she said.

“It’s called Google,” chimed in Bo’sun, rolling her eyes.

“Ahoy, Revenge Pirates!”  The crew turned to see two strangers climbing aboard the ship. Just the men I wanted to see.

Stepping forward, I thanked the men for returning.  Then, loud enough for all to hear, I announced, “I’ve offered these gentlemen the use of this ship to start the Tortuga Writers Sanctuary. Any writer looking for support, inspiration, or merely a means to get away is always welcome to climb aboard The Revenge. Free of charge, no questions asked. What say you, crew?”

“Huzzah!” the crew cheered. “Huzzah!”

And then, as I watched my crew embrace each other amidst tears and laughter, I vowed to appreciate them, to spread the joy of writing, and to make sure every Christmas would always be as perfect as this one.

What would make Christmas perfect for you, matey?
Wednesday, December 29, 2010

REPLAY: PCC's Ghosts of Christmases Yet to Come

Three chimes. I didn’t have the stomach to go through this again. But I knew I had no choice.  I needed to see this through.

In front of me, the ghost loomed, somehow darker than the others, as if the void inside the hood was deeper and blacker than the darkness around it. On the robe, flames ignited and flared out in a random pattern, sparking the air around the figure.

This wasn’t a frail, sweet Bronte sister or DeFoe. This was creepy. “Who are you?”

He didn’t answer, just smoldered.

“Please don’t.” I pressed a hand to my aching chest. “I can’t take this again.”

He raised a white, skeletal hand and pointed to the door. There was nothing to do but follow, to see what he had to show me. I followed out the door and up the stairs to deck.

A cool breeze fluttered against my skin, but even that held a hint of danger. The soft December sunlight didn’t fully light the deck, leaving ominous shadows in the corners and around the dusty bar.

Dust?  Since when have a bunch of pirates let a bar sit idle enough to go dusty? As the Ghost of Christmases Yet to Come floated past the bar, dust and ash stirred into the air and ignited, then slowly drifted back down to sizzle against the wood. Where was the string of penis lights?  Where was our collection of rum bottles from around the world?  But no decorations remained.  Not the framed pictures of Playgirl layouts, not even the glitter-covered fireman’s pole. No sign of our old raucous ways.

“Where is everyone?”

A bird squalled overhead, circled twice, and descended fast toward the ghost. I took another giant step backward, but the bird only landed on the ghosts shoulder.

“What is that? A crow? In the ocean?” Then I looked closer. It was a raven. A fucking raven. “Oh shit. You’re Edgar Allen Poe.”

He thumped the deck of the ship with a cane in a perfect “ba-bum, ba-bum” heart-beat rhythm. “A simple yes would have done the trick,” I muttered. Where’d he even get the cane anyway?

He pointed again, below deck.

The wenches were below?

Probably keeping busy with the hotties.  I smiled.  That was more like it.

But as the ghost, raven on the shoulder and all, drifted down the stairs toward the cabins, there was no trace of sassy giggling or lewd innuendo.  Instead, the soft hum of typing was the only sound in the air.

Each of the wenches was in their cabins, hunched over their desks, as page after page flew from the rollers of printers nearby. Paper littered the floor everywhere:  stacks lined the wall, throw-away sheets crumpled into balls, and shreds drifted down the hallway like forsaken tumbleweed.

Wait.  They’d finally followed my directions and gone below to write?

I clapped a hand over my mouth. “They did it! Look how much they’ve all written!”

But the ghost just continued to drift and kept pointing.

“What is this? I need to keep looking?” The scene didn’t change. Keys tapped, papers floated down to land on stacks already leaning precariously to the side. The clacks of the keys mixed with the splash of the waves, creating the soundtrack I’d always loved most.

But every time I’d achieved that perfect sound, it’d been broken by laughing pirates or smashing bottles or screeching undead monkeys, by some new distraction waiting to drag me from my work.

Suddenly, the silence seemed obscene.

I looked over at Ghost-man, but he was no help. A sheet of paper fluttered past my face. I snatched it out of the air and smoothed out the crinkles. Words, and words, and words.

But that’s all they were. Words. This wasn’t a story. There was no emotion, no spark.

Just words.

I watched as Sin kept typing. The passion in her face, the passion for the story, was gone. She stayed hunched over, typing word after word. “What happened to you?”

No answer. She only typed. I checked each of the other cabins. I could barely find Lisa, Terri, and Marn past their stacks of paper. Mo and Hal were writing by hand, and Santa and JP were hunched over one typewriter, collaborating.

They’d finally done as I’d asked.

And I’d killed their laughter, their creativity. Their passion.

“This can’t be right.  This isn’t what I wanted, not what I asked for.”
My hand shook as I turned the knob of my cabin, pushing the door open.  Its creak told me how long it’d been since I’d had company.

Inside, the stacks of paper, the crumpled discards, were deeper and higher than the other pirates.  And in the deep recesses of the room, by the light of lone candle, I sat tapping on my laptop.  The sexy corset I’d worn for Jack—in tatters and covered in ink smudges.  My sassy haircut?  Grown out.

“Where’s Jack?”

No response.  And I knew.  Gone.  Jack was gone, off to find his bliss somewhere else.

I dropped down on a teetering stack of papers.  “This can’t be what I asked them for.  I just wanted them to write more, not lose themselves in their writing.” My head got heavy and I cradled it in my palms.  “There is no story without our voices, without our laughter.  There’s no joy in what we do if we have no joy ourselves.  I know I’ve said that before.  I’m sure I did.  Didn’t I?”

This time, when I got no response, I knew the answer.  Maybe not enough.  But that was going to change.

“I’m going to change.  It’s important we write, but it’s just as important that we stay who we are, that we embrace the things that make us pirates, make us wenches, make us fierce!” I shot to my feet and took the stairs to the upper deck two at a time.

The bar was still dusty and unused, undecorated. The ghost hovered behind me. “Never again." I slapped the bar and left a handprint in the dust. “Take me back, Eddie. I’ve got work to do.”

The raven crowed and flew into the air, the smoke around Poe swirled, the clocks chimed, and I was back in my cabin. There were a few grains of sand on the keyboard of my laptop, and two crumpled sheets of paper lie at my feet.

It’d been real. And now I had work to do.

Question for you wenches! If you could see Christmas five years from now, what would it look like? Who’d show it to you? What moment are you most looking forward to this year — the presents, the food, the stockings, the Mass, what?
Tuesday, December 28, 2010

REPLAY: PCC's Ghosts of Christmas Present

I’d just settled back down to my laptop after the interruption of Christmas past. I really had no time for this nonsense! And if I wasn’t going to sleep, I might as well be productive. All this walking down memory lane was, in a word, ridiculous.

A bit of cold air brushed across my back as the clock struck two. Why did I insist on that stupid grandfather clock anyway? The chiming was damned annoying and so terribly impractical for a pirate ship.

“You ready for me?” A hearty voice sounded at my ear, just as a heavy hand fell on my shoulder, upsetting the careful placement of my fingers to the keyboard.

I jerked with a scream, my heart pounding painfully in my chest as I turned and gazed at the specter to my right.

His eyes were bright, but the wig, perched precariously atop his head, was crooked. He grinned. Before I could manage a reply, my eyes wandering to the bright red coat edged with dirty white fur at the cuffs, he scratched at the aforementioned wig. I watched a stream of sand promptly come lose and land on my keyboard.

With a screech of outrage this time, I shot to my feet. My hands were dusty with sand! “You idiot! You got sand all over my keyboard! SAND! God fricking danged blessed jaysus!” (Trying not to curse was working my imagination overtime. Screw Sin and that bet!)

He snickered and took a step back. I advanced, sand drifting from my hands to the cabin floor.

“Now, now, Captain Hellion, it’s just a little sand… A little Dustbuster and….”

“Who the frick are you and what are you doing in my cabin?” I tried to regain some dignity, in the face of this obviously deranged fop. I readied a fist to hurry him on his way….

“I AM THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT!” he intoned rather loudly. Standing tall, he bowed low, his hand twirling with a graceful gesture, “Daniel Defoe, Captain.”

The Heavens have got to be kidding me. They couldn’t have sent Mark Twain? Bronte, sure; Austen, definitely; but this lunatic? “Defoe!? The only Defoe I might be interested in seeing in this cabin isn’t you! Get out!”

“Another Defoe? Not that English buffoon, Gideon Defoe? He claims to be related, but it’s all nonsense. And the stupid childish pirate series he’s written is pure balderdash. Who ever heard of a pirate keeping a ham and not eating it?” The specter shook his head.

I had no idea what he was talking about, though it sounded vaguely like something Chance had prattled on about once. But I seldom listened to her. She was always saying I needed a hug. Crazy hippie! I pointed to the cabin door. “I have no time for Christmas, present, past or future. Get out of my cabin, I have writing to do!” If I could get the sand out of my laptop. Frick. That thing had cost me a bloody fortune!

The ghostly Defoe drew himself up and made a grand gesture around the cabin, “Make time, Captain! Or you will find yourself marooned…alone with no friends, no family, no celebrations….”

His sweeping gesture was having an alarming effect on my surroundings. Sand began pouring out of my bookshelves, as if the books had disintegrated, and out of the walls, streaming to the floor and immediately rising up to cover things on my floor. I gaped at my feet. The rising tide of sand was filling my cabin! Before I could react, it swelled, rising to my waist! To my shoulders! I was going to drown under the sand. I took several panicked breaths, wondering which one would be my last. The sand pushed at the cabin walls…I heard them creak with the weight…then they burst away. I screamed, covering my head with my arms, expecting the ceiling and assorted rigging to come raining down on me.

Instead, a calm and quiet descended. I opened my eyes to see nothing but sand, every direction I looked. Oh, and one lone palm tree. I sighed, began to brush the sand off my arms. “You don’t have to keep doing this. I’ve learned my lesson about ramen noodles and cock sauce before bedtime. Shit.” Well, there went the bet.

“Alo-o-o-o-o-o-one! Alo-o-o-o-o-o-one!”

I looked around, wondering where that stupid chanting was coming from. Shaking the sand out of my pants, I glanced up into the tree. It was that blasted ghost. He grinned at me, “This will be your fate, Captain Hellion. If you do not repent your isolated ways!”

“Nothing wrong with some peace and quiet. If I had my laptop, this would be an ideal place to write.” If one could keep the sand out of the keyboard. A sudden discomfort at my crotch made me aware of how much the sand had crept into every crevice. My temper broke again. “You bastard! The only way I want sand in my pants is when I get it there! Wake me up, you ragged impression of a ghost!”

He shook his head at me. “You aren’t asleep, you stupid pirate.” He jumped from the tree and grabbed my arm. I tried to shake him away, but he was persistent.

“Let me show you what you’re missing…”

The island faded away and suddenly, I was standing to the side of Santa’s galley. She and Chance were giggling over some orange liquid they were pouring into a huge glass mold of some sort.

“I don’t know where you found this, but it’s perfect,” Santa said with a laugh.

“Me glassmaker is most accommodatin.’ I think it be a perfect replica a’ the Kraken. Now, let me pour in the orange slices….” Chance reached for a bowl of sliced mandarins. They did smell good. The entire galley smelled good.

“How are you going to get them to float and not just stay at the bottom?” Santa asked.

“Me Mum said ta set a timer and stir them every ten minutes until the jello sets up,” Chance giggled as they splashed. “Gonna look like he ate every critic we toss ‘im!”

“Well, he does that anyway. You’re going to have to stir, Chance. I have to get this feast together!” Santa turned to her huge table, covered with delicacies of every sort. I reached out to flinch a bit a huge cookie, shaped like a treasure chest brimming with coins. My hand passed right through. Well, that was one way to stick to a diet. The icing looked thick too. Blast.

“Well now, off you go, Chance. I’m sure you’ve a ton of lights to hang along the masts. Don’t forget to tell Sin to stir that mulled wine over the fire we set up on deck earlier.” On the deck? Of MY ship? Were they trying to burn us to the sea? Someone had to stop this ridiculous…. “I love mulled wine. It just leaves me feeling all warm and tingly inside. I’ll be sure to set aside a glass or two to share with Capt’n Hellie.”

Warm and tingly, I muttered. I’ll tell you what makes me all warm and tingly and it has nothing to do with a bit o’cinnamon laced wine, I can tell you that much. A ship not burned to the sea is what made me warm and tingly!

Hmm, yes, I shivered as I looked over to Santa’s worktable and remembered another kind of feast Captain Jack and I made not too long ago while everyone was ashore enjoying the tropical delights of our latest port of call.

I weaved to the right as a roll whizzed past my head.

“Hey, watch it, Defoe. As I recall this is my dream!”

“You are as daft as you’ve ever been! Stay focused. I’m to show you what you’ll be missing if you keep to your singular, myopic vision of what a writer is. Can’t you see that it’s all around you? What’s really important?”

I watched as Defoe pointed to Yorkshire Pudding, platters of roasted vegetables, a roast pig, pepper-crusted filet mignon and more delights than I’d ever be able to stick a fork to. But it was just food. Empty calories to my mind. Food is an everyday thing and something we need just to—

THUD. A copper pot bounced off my shoulder and banged on the floor.

“What was that for?” I turned and glared at the direction the pot came from.

“I heard what you were thinking about food,” Santa bellowed.

“You can’t hear my thoughts! You’re just a part of this crazy dream!”

“I can do anything your subconscious wants me to do, Captain Dullard. Just empty calories, indeed. Best calories you’d ever be lucky to eat, they’d be!”

“Now. Now. Can’t we be friends? And, Cap’t., it’s not just about the food,” Defoe said congenially, smiling as both of us as if we were only having a schoolyard squabble.

“Speak for yourself, wilderness boy,” Galley Ho Santa muttered.

Defoe peered down his nose at my cantankerous ship cook, but she merely crossed her arms and “harrumphed” back. My guide cleared his throat nervously and continued. “Captain, by closeting yourself in your quarters, you are missing out on the banquet that is life. Your only hope for making your mark in the world of writing is to take a meal at the table.”

I was suddenly realizing why while Defoe had been a journalist and novelist, he had not been a poet. Thank God. The world was so much better off without these clichéd metaphors.

“I eat with this scurvy lot every night. I go ashore and can out drink and out wench any one of them! I’m a goddess in their eyes. How can you say I’ve not eaten well at all the entertainments I flood this rotting ship with?”

I gingerly moved away from the line of fire as Galley Ho made a grand display of handing a cast iron skillet to Daniel Defoe. Thankfully, he declined the offer and turned again to me.

“Since you refuse to listen to reason, I’ll show you what merry is being made without you and, more likely as not, will continue without your sorry arse.”

With a wave of his tankard, we were transported to the upper deck where the crew was still putting up garlands of seaweed and shells around the deck. They’d started a drinking game. For each failed attempt to swing the rope around the railing, that pirate would have to take a shot. They did not look to be trying very hard.

2nd Chance lifted the frosted shot of Lemoncello to her lips. She knocked back one shot and then, in quick order, threw back two more.

“One for the captain, two for me. Captain’s not here, so I don’t have to share, which makes it an even three.” Three was slightly slurred.

From that point on, each pirate in turn took a shot and lampooned the absent Captain.

“It’s a shame she isn’t here to join in the fun,” Marn, gently rounded by her latest stud research adventure, mused.

“She’d only chastise us for wasting good seaweed for decoration instead of roping. And then she’d confiscate our drinks. It’s all work, work, work with her and no room for fun. Speaking of fun, where’s that cheeky monkey?”

“I saw her moving Hellie’s strawberries. I’ve warned monkey not to screw with Hellie’s things but all I ever get is shrieking.” Bo’sun shrugged this off and continued sipping her tankard. Yes, I could see she was greatly concerned for me. They all seemed so greatly concerned on my behalf, after all I had done for them!

“I’ve seen enough. I don’t need them. I’ve my island. I could just sail away from this all and go to my personal treasure island. I don’t need anyone. I don’t need a furlough to re-energize or to make my writing shine! Take me away from here.”

I stole a quick glance at Christmas Present and saw that his countenance was not what it was at the beginning of our journey. Lines formed around his eyes and his beard was now a snowy white. His vim and vigor were waning. His time with me must be coming to an end. Thank God. This ridiculous side trip was coming to an end, and Defoe would would be returning to write bad poetry in the afterlife. And I could finally get some rest!

“You want your island? I’ll give you your island, and you’re welcome to it!” Defoe waved his hand, this time with a shot of Lemoncello in it, and suddenly we were no longer aboard ship.

We were on my glorious private island.


Where was my netting draped hut?

Where were all the servants I kept here year round.

Where was my beloved, half naked Jack? William? Richard Armitage? (Well, when Santa wasn’t fantasizing about him, he’d visit me.)

I twirled around and found nothing but a savage wilderness. Suddenly the sounds of the jungle rang in my ears, no longer quieted by the buzz of daily life that I’d made my island to be.

Suddenly, it dawned on me what was happening.

“Hey, Defoe, I’m no Robinson Crusoe! This is not my beautiful house.  Where’s my beautiful Jack?”

Daniel Defoe’s voice, thread-like now that his time on earth was waning, came from the heavens, “All you’ll ever have is this island, if you don’t change your ways, Hellion. That ship is full of merriment, all waiting for you to be a part of. Change your ways! Change your ways!”

His voice faded, leaving me stranded on a massive pile of sand where my desk once stood. I was never going to get the sand out of my computer. Let alone the cabin…on a ship I no longer had. Wearily I went to my knees, my belly grumbled in regret at the feast I’d seen in the galley.

Fine, I’d lose some weight. Always wanted to lose some weight. They’ll all get fat…and never finish their books!

“Screw them all! I’ll find my computer, blow the sand out and get working! And if that doesn’t work, there is always longhand! Ever hear of pen and paper, people! Ha! You’re not going to outwit me! Stupid Christmas! Stupid crew! Stupid ghosts!”

But I was talking to air, to the empty still walls of my cabin, which was devoid of sand and meddling ghosts and merriment. I lowered my hands, feeling for the first time that I was alone—or worse, lonely. Being alone was desirable. I could get a lot done when I wasn’t bewitched every five minutes with one nagging question or another. But lonely? That was another cask of rum. What would be the point of writing the most magnificent novels in the world if there was no one to share the triumph with? Was that what Defoe had been saying? That if I didn’t mend my ways, that in the end it didn’t matter how great a writer I was if there was no one to share it with.

I was being ridiculous. I couldn’t be lonely on a ship of writers. I tripped over more bodies on my way to the loo than any writer should ever have to bother with. There were an infinite number of writers here I could share my triumphs and trials with. They weren’t going anywhere…and I wasn’t going anywhere but back to bed.

This evening was a colossal waste. Ridiculous. I climbed up into the high Captain’s bed and pulled the comforter back over my head, but even as I closed my eyes, I felt a tremor of unease. So far tonight, Miss Austen had been correct in her foretellings. So far tonight, had been visited by two of the three ghosts she promised. And so far, they’d gotten progressively worse.

And even as I knew better—being a writer and all and knowing the danger of rhetorical questions—I had to think: How much worse could it get?

Question of the Day: What will your Christmas feasts entail and who will you be spending your holidays with? What traditions do you most cherish—or are most odd? Which Ghost from the Christmas Carol is your favorite and why?
Monday, December 27, 2010

REPLAY: PCC's Ghosts of Christmas Past

I covered my face with my pillow. It was well past one in the morning and those wenches on the top deck had finally had their fill over singing hiccup versions of “Deck the Mizzenmast” and “Silver Cannonballs”. Now all was quiet as they passed out in a drunken state of Christmas bliss. It was of no wonder to me why the pirates of the RWR were never taken seriously as writers.

Because they never got any writing done!


I got up, sat at my desk and stared at the cursor blinking back at me from a blank document. It was bad enough that those wenches kept me awake with their caterwauling, but I was still suffering from a mild case of missing word muse. Would this day never cease to end?

I tapped my fingers over the keys hoping for inspiration yet nothing came to me. I closed the screen down on my laptop and pushed it away. I needed a short nap to rest my eyes before I tackled ripping down all the festive decorations while the wenches slept. I meant it when I told them earlier I didn’t want to be reminded it was Christmas. The day was memory enough.

I closed my eyes and enjoyed the peace and quiet for a change. I dreamed everyone was quiet and concentrating, hunched over laptops and notebooks. No merrymaking or carousing or drunken lunacy. Just hard work and determination to get to the end. Peaceful dreams- I reached out for a blanket.

Except there was no blanket, only crumbled papers, an open marker that soaked into the palm of my hand and a laptop.

“Blast!” I muttered and let my head drop to the desk. The thunk echoed in the empty cabin and I groaned. Clearly a nap didn’t do me any good. When had anything good ever come to me?


I slowly straightened up in my chair, bones cracked and muscles screamed in agony. I stretched my arms over my head and noticed my window was wide open. The sliver of moonlight streamed onto the dark wood floor, the rustle of palm tree leaves lulled the rest of the pier to sleep. Everyone awaited a visit from Santa. But I knew he wasn’t coming. No such thing is Christmas cheer. The whole idea of Christmas was nothing but… ridiculous.

I stood up and hobbled over to my captain’s bed, both legs were asleep. I tossed and turned on the uncomfortable mattress. My mind whirled from my overactive imagination, images of a monster with three heads quoting lame sonnets and tittering nervously danced through my head.

No way was a Ghost coming to visit me tonight. What a bunch of crap.

I rolled over and punched my lumpy pillow back into shape. I couldn’t believe I was actually giving this any real thought. Ridiculous!

The hour ticked by. Then the next. I laid there in silence, waves lapped at the ship hull, seagulls bellowed in the distance. The moon was just a slice of light in the sky, stars twinkled faintly. It was dark. A perfect night for sleeping. Yet, sleep wouldn’t come to me.

I blame that blasted figment of my imagination earlier filling my head with thoughts of Ghosts.

Tick. Pause. Tick. Pause. Tick. Pause. Tick. Pause. Tick.

I rolled over onto my stomach and buried my face into my pillow. I should just get up. After all, sleep was just overrated. I needed to complete this first sex scene between my hero and heroine tonight so I could write in the big fight tomorrow to keep on my deadline. I thought about the scene in my head, figuring the position. Figuring the finesse, the moving of bodies…

Gunshots blasted in the distance.

One. Two. Three. Three in the morning I could believe. My eyes felt like sandpaper rubbing against cashmere.

“Damnit! Every night that flippin’ racket… A pirate ninja tart can’t concentrate with all that bloody noise!” Sin shouted from the Crow’s Nest. “Randy Andy, cut it out! No one cares what time it is!”

Four. Five. The sun would be up any minute.

“Shut your bleeping mouth you nagging wench!”

I heard growling and heavy swearing. Sin lost her temper- what a shocker. “I’m going to poison your rum you one armed worthless bag of seaweed!”

Six. Seven. Wait. Seven?

“Shut up the both of you!” Bo’Sun shouted. “I’m trying to get my beauty rest.”

Eight.  Nine. Okay this was just getting a little weird. Even for the ship.

“Eat it, Ter!” Sin yelled and something thumped onto the deck and hissed.

“Oh, hell,” Hal swore. “It’s the undead monkey!”

I could hear Sin laughing.

Chance shouted to the crew, “Someone get the baseball bat and rotten bananas!”

Chaos broke out and the monkey’s claws skittered along the deck as footsteps thundered around.

Ten. Eleven. I didn’t sleep Christmas away, did I? My luck wasn’t that good.

“Hold him! Hold him!” Marn shouted. “Holy Nikes! He’s trying to bite me! Help!”

“Don’t let him go!” Lisa screamed as nails scratched the top deck.


I let out a sigh of relief. I could deal with midnight. It would give me enough time to pass back out and sleep through the supposed haunting of the RWR in my honor.


All the noise on the top deck died. Dread weighted me down into my bed. I waited in silence for the noise to resume but minutes ticked by and nothing happened.

I groaned. This was a dream. All a dream. In the morning, I would chalk this up to Chance’s special spiced rum cider.

I rolled over and came face to face with a floating black hoodie.

I blinked once. Twice and the hoodie floated closer. I wasn’t sure quite how I landed on the wood planked floor, but it shocked my system enough to get me standing.

“Who the hell are you?” I couldn’t see its face. Only the cloak smoldered as though it were on fire. Darkness filled the inside, and hovered at the edge of my bed. “And what the hell are you doing in my quarters!”

“Will you dare to come with me?” The voice was angelic, soft and hung suspended in the air as if waiting to be caressed. “I cannot wait all night, dear Captain. For I am the Ghost of Christmases Past and I have something for only you to see.”

I rubbed my eyes and focused on the voice coming from the hoodie. Crap. Emily Brontë was the Ghost of Christmases Past. This wasn’t going to be easy.

“Thanks but no thanks.” I laid back down and willed the aberration away. Damn, Chance. Tomorrow, after I pulled a Grinch and threw away all the Christmas decorations, pitching the rum rations to the Kraken would be my next mission.

A feathery touch of fingertips brushed my forehead and I nearly wet myself when I slowly opened one eye and saw the cloak hovering above me. No hand in sight.

Goosebumps broke out over my body. I refused to be scared. Pirates do not get scared.

“Don’t touch me.”

I sat up and blew out a breath and the hoodie smacked against the ceiling in a burst of flames. I rolled off the bed and grabbed the hoodie around the neck. I slammed it to the floor boards and beat the flames with my pillow. The hoodie lay still at my feet, all signs of life gone. I stood over it, Capt’n Morgan style and breathed a sigh of relief. I had to say it felt pretty damn good to one up ole Ebenezer Scrooge.

I kicked the scorched hoodie in the corner and flopping back into the bed. At least one good thing came of the ghostly visits; peace of mind there would be no more. This just served to remind me I didn’t need a hero to save me. I could do it for myself.

I snuggled into my Capt’n Jack blanket and my eyelids drooped. Visions of Jack Sparrow in nothing but his boots danced in my head.

“Not so easy Captain,” a soulless voice caressed my ear. “The dead cannot die again.”

I flopped over on my back and glared at the hoodie hovering above me.

“Do I have to spell this out for you? I’m not interested in a smarmy walk down memory lane. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a pirate. I have no need for warm fuzzy memories.”

“It’s my job to awaken you to what you missed,” the ghost replied.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” I rolled my eyes.This is ridiculous!”

The cabin went black and the scent of coconut suntan oil permeated the room. A tranquil vision of ocean and sand appeared before me.

I glanced to my left, and the cloaked figure hovered at my side.

I crossed my arms over my chest. “So enlighten me if you must.”

I saw the pirate girls of the RWR soaking up rays of sunshine, cabana boys flocked all around them. They were decked out in skimpy bikinis and holding different colored drinks and I sat away from them underneath an umbrella laptop situated in my lap waving off two really hot guys.

I shrugged. Who needed guys when you could write the perfect one yourself?

Chance looked up from her drink and elbowed the rest of the RWR pirates. Lisa took her straw out of her mouth and yelled over her shoulder, “Hellion! Come over here where the sun is hot and the men are hotter!”

“No,” Hellion mumbled. “I’m almost done with this paragraph and then I’ll be over there. Gimme five more minutes.”

“You always say that!” Marn whined.

“Get your rear over here!” Chance waved a couple more guys Hellion’s way, but they came back sulking.

“Alright, that’s it.” Sin went to her knees and brushed sand off her as she stood. “If she won’t come over here on her own will, then I’ll drag her skinny butt over here myself.”

“If you pirates would worry more about your writing and not so much about the cabana boys hanging all over you, you’d be finished with your manuscripts by now. Sin, you’re the worst of them all.” Hellion didn’t bother to look up from what she was typing, but I noticed the look on Sin’s face. Pissed off didn’t cover it.

Bo’Sun reached up for Sin’s arm and pulled her back down to the sand. “She didn’t mean it. Christmas time always gets to her.”

“She’s gonna think Christmas time is what is getting to her,” Sin hissed through her teeth.

I watched Hellion continue to write, ignoring the happiness and laughing and couldn’t say that I blamed the younger version of myself. Christmas was just another day. I waited for the day when everyone else would realize it too.

I looked to the Ghost of Christmas Past, “This is the best you can do? I’ve seen better on the Hallmark channel.”

“Don’t you feel bad that you hurt your friend’s feelings? That you didn’t share in Christmas with your the pirates you consider to be family?”

I looked at Sin and the Grinch in me softened a little before I snuffed it out.

“You can’t be mad if it’s the truth.” I picked up a seashell and chucked it back into the ocean. “Next memory and it better be good.”

The Ghost gave me a look and I crossed my arms over my chest. “Ebenezer was a punk.”

“Alright,” The robed arm reached out to me and wrapped around my torso tight. “Don’t say I didn’t try to warn you.”

Everything went black and faded into night. The smell of the sea salt was heavy in the air. I stood out in the cold watching people walk by as they poured down the sidewalks, linked arm and arm. Women dressed in their best wench dresses, lots of skin showing, hair bouncing with each step as their hips swayed in five inch come-fck-me-pumps. Men dressed respectably as a pirates can get, refraining from scratching themselves or tugging at the collar of their button up shirts their dates forced them to put on.

The streetlights were lit, wreaths and garland hung with care and tied with red velvet bows. The only holiday pirates got respectable for- Christmas.

Ridiculous, if you asked me.

I wrapped my arms around me, and rubbed my hands over my shirt sleeves to warm up. You could hear the racket a mile away. The laughter. The singing. And worst of all, the smell of happiness. I wrinkled my nose. Idiots. All of them. Didn’t they know the holidays were just regular days not paid merrymaking time to go out and squander what little coin they had?

“Now what are we doing?” I shot the Ghost a nasty look. “This is ridiculous!”

The Ghost of Christmas Past set its gaze upon me; the black hood rippled with the breeze. “Come with me.”

The Ghost turned away from me and floated away. It made its’ way over the sidewalk before hovering over the bricked road towards a house with every room lit up in decoration. My eyes followed the Ghost to the house in question and I stood frozen on the sidewalk.

I knew this house. It once had been my home.

A terrible feeling sank into the pit of my stomach. Oh God. The one memory I never wanted to revisit and I was here about to relive it.

My heart skipped a painful beat.

“I will not ask you again. Come forward so we can end our night.” The Ghost’s robed arm stretched out in my direction, an endless abyss of darkness met my eyes and I tore my eyes away from it and forced myself to step off the sidewalk. I held my breath as I stepped closer and closer to the front door.

We slipped inside with another couple, warmth of the fireplace raced over my skin. Firelight flickered against the walls from candles burning bright in the chandeliers hanging overhead and lights twinkled on the Christmas trees scattered about.

Sin’s laughter echoed out of the house and I watched her run past a group of masked guests with a male right on her heels as they ran into a room and slammed the door behind them. Bo’sun sat at the DJ booth and spun a mixture of Christmas music and pirate booty music, drink firmly planted in one hand as she moved to the beat. Chance ran behind the bar, tossing out drinks faster than a pirate should be able to move, Silent as Sins and Bo’Sun Burners, Glittery Hoohas were traveling the length of the bar in lightening speed. Marn, Lisa and Hal were up on the bar, dancing around in little elf outfits teasing the hell out of everyone as they twirled around tinseled poles. Santa and JP doled out little sample treats to guests, smiling and flirting and wrapping everyone around their pinky fingers.

Everyone was present except for me.

Gatherings were never my thing, I reasoned. I made a rude noise in the back of my throat and looked to the Ghost. It gestured for me to move forward and I dropped my eyes to the floor. My heart pounded a little harder with each breath I took. I licked my lips nervously.

He was here.

Even after all those years, I was painfully aware of him being in the room even if I couldn’t see him. When I walked into a room, my eyes automatically looked for him. I wouldn’t do it this time. I couldn’t. I couldn’t do this again.

Ridiculous, I told myself. Memories never got your anywhere in the world.

I looked up and there he was, standing at the edge of the dance floor, empty drink in hand. His hair was messy from the wind, his button up shirt unbuttoned at the cuffs and rolled up, three buttons undone and opened without a care. He smiled over at Chance and lifted his empty drink cup and Chance nodded and started him another.

He looked my way and I couldn’t breathe. His dark eyes searched the crowd, mouth twitched into a frown. He looked to his watch and back around the room. I stared at him, unable to tear my eyes away from him. He was perfect, without being perfect. On track to be a successful agent, he just needed a big break.

I wanted so badly to do that for him.

I felt my face flood with color. It may have been a long time since I’d seen him, but never in a million years would I forget the way he made me feel inside.  I could conquer the world as long as he was standing by my side.

My nose burned and my eyes started to water and I looked to the Ghost of Christmas Past. “Well, let’s get on with it. I’ve got a chapter to write.”

The Ghost of Christmas Past looked to me; hood a vacant black hole and voice soft, “Learn the error of your ways, Hellion or your life will never change.”

A Brontë line if I ever heard one.

The Ghost gestured beyond the crowd and I found the younger version of myself easy among the crowd. My hair was a wild mess softly waved and flowing loose over my shoulders. Even though I’d spent the day in the office working on my first manuscript I’d taken the time to run upstairs and slip on my Santa Baby outfit with a short red velvet dress with the white pom-pom bracelets and black come-fck-me heels.

I smiled sadly to myself. The younger version of me looked distracted as she made her way through the crowd. She chewed the tip of her fingernail. Tossed her hair over her shoulder and laughed at what was being said but with a distant look in her eye.

It wasn’t hard to recall what I was distracted by. It was the end of my first manuscript and I was trying to work out the Happily Ever After between my hero and heroine. For weeks, it eluded me. Christmas was my deadline and I’d tried to get out of the Christmas party but everyone looked forward to the distraction for weeks.

I couldn’t take it away from them.

Ridiculous, I reminded myself. You should’ve. You would’ve saved yourself a heck of a lot of heartache.

My younger self looked for him in the crowd. He found her and smiled in her direction with a sparkle in his eye as if she lit up his entire world with one look.

I had been such a fool.

He moved towards her, the crowd parted and the women sighed as he came up beside her.

He smiled at everyone and made pleasantries. She grinned up at him as if he hung the moon and stars and nothing else mattered in the world.

I felt sick. I was going to be sick.

He leaned in close to her, his lips brushed against her ear and she melted into him. He took her hand and led her out to the dance floor.

I put my hand to my ear and found it difficult to breathe. He asked me to dance so sweetly. I remember how he felt against me. How his words affected me. Every time my heart beat in my chest it broke a little more.

She smiled and shook her head. I told him I only had time for one dance.

He grinned and pulled her out to the dance floor. They moved together, made for one another. If only I’d realized that then and not taken the time we had together for granted.

The music wound down and she turned to go but he held onto her hand. He brushed the backs of his knuckles across her check and swept the hair away from her eyes. I read his lips, heard his voice as though he were speaking to me. He asked her to stay until after one. He had something very important to ask her when the clocks chimed one.

She stared at him, her lips parted, red stained her cheeks. She dropped her eyes to his chest and put her hand over his heart. I saw her lips move. I saw the way the light died in his eyes.

I told him to meet me in my room at dawn and we’d celebrate Christmas the right way.

I wanted to interfere. I wanted to shake her and say, “That wasn’t what he was talking about!”

I later found out he was going to ask me to be his pirate and sail away to the seven seas while we conquered the writing world together.

Fate was so cruel.

I looked away from them and sniffed. Ridiculous. “I’ve had enough and I want to go back to the ship.”

The Ghost of Christmas Past looked upon me again, and I felt a chill to my very marrow as the consequences of my actions settled onto me. “Oh no, Hellion, you’ve yet to see the best part.”

I swallowed hard as I watched him watch her walk away from him. All I wanted to do was run to him and throw myself in his arms and apologize for how dumb I’d been. “No.” I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. “I can’t do this anymore.”

“You can do this and a lot more.”

She never looked back. She never turned to ran back to his arms. And as if our love were a candle to be snuffed out, I saw it die right there.


“You’re going to miss it.”

I looked up as he pulled the ring out. The firelight from the fireplace flickered over the stone and played against his features. I tried to not cry but felt tears slide down my cheeks one right after another.  ”He never married.”

“You broke his heart.”

The Ghost of Christmas Past stretched its robed arm out towards me and I slipped from its grasp.

“He broke mine!” I spat as I looked towards the office door that slowly closed. I wanted to break it down and drag the younger version of myself out by her hair. “I waited for him!”

“Maybe you don’t understand, dearest Hellion, that he waited for you to return to him but you never did.”

“If only he could’ve given me another day.”

The robed figure of Christmas Past wrapped around me as it whispered, “He would’ve given you a lifetime of time but you walked away.”

The truth hit me like a Mack truck. All these years I spent blaming him were wasted in one short second. I left him.

The room faded away and I closed my eyes. The smell of wood smoke and cedar wrapped around me and as I opened my eyes firelight greeted me. The room was tastefully decorated, heavily masculine and warm neutral colors. But dead of any emotion.

I knew where I was without asking.

The Ghost of Christmases Past was no where in sight. The room was empty save me and him. I could hear Christmas music playing on a radio somewhere in this place, but there was no sign of Christmas in this room. No tree. No lights. No stockings. Or pictures of family. The only personal item in the room was a ring box sitting on the fireplace mantle.

My knees trembled as I stepped closer to his chair. He sat with his forearms balanced on his thighs, head dropped to his chest. The glass in his hand was half full of amber liquid. The firelight played on his face, danced off the cut crystal of the glass. I wanted to touch him. To run my fingers through his hair, brush my lips against his 5 o’clock shadowed cheek.

But I couldn’t do those things. He wasn’t mine.

I sank to my knees in front of the chair and watched him in silence. I bit my lower lip to keep from crying and reached out. My hand rested on his wrist, but he didn’t move. I memorized every line of his face. The tilt of his lips into a fine line. I noticed the sad look in his eyes as he stared past me into the fire.

“I’m so…,” I choked on the last word. I couldn’t breathe as I dropped my head in defeat and covered my face with my hands. “I didn’t mean for it to be this way. You have to believe me.”

The fire cracked and his phone rang and I froze as I listened to it click over to voice mail.

“Hey, it’s me again. Mother wanted to know if you were coming over for Christmas.” In the background was laughing adults and screaming kids. “Please. Just this once come home for Christmas. You don’t have to spend it alone.”

There was a pause and I looked at him, horribly saddened and desperate to hold him.

I heard a sigh on the other end of the voice mail. “Okay, I’ll call later. Love you brother and Merry Christmas.”

“I’d do anything to make this right.” I reached up to his face; his eyes were on the ring. “Anything.”

He looked at me and my heart skipped a beat, but the room started to fade and I struggled to hold onto him. “No. Don’t do this!”

The air around me started to cool and I pressed myself closer to him as I whispered against his neck, “Don’t take him from me.”

I closed my eyes and held onto his memory only to wake up staring at the walls of my cabin. If only I hadn’t burned the house to the ground the next day and set everyone permanently to the ship. Things could’ve been different.

But time will never tell a story not written and ours never had a chance.

Who’s played your favorite version of the Ghost of Christmases Past? Who would make a great Ghost to make you change your ways?
Sunday, December 26, 2010

REPLAY: Pirate's Christmas Carol (PCC): A Visit From Jane Austen

Christmas was tomorrow. That was the first thing to be remembered. Christmas was tomorrow, and all my crew had lost their ever-lovin’ minds.

A chill was in the air—a mere 68 degrees on the Caribbean shore where we were currently docked to spend the holidays. You could tell it was Christmas, could practically smell the evergreen even though we were surrounded by palm trees. If it had started snowing, I was sure it would have the feel of a Dickens novel.

I hated Dickens. Mr. Anti-minimalist; that man must have been paid by the word. Jane Austen, now there was a fine novelist, and she wouldn’t have any sappy Christmas stories like the ones Dickens bandied about, manipulating perfectly rational pirates into decorating for weeks on end and making copious amounts of treats. Ridiculous.

I watched the ship festivities like I watched all the ship’s festivities: with suspicion and crankiness. This was a working ship, not a pleasure cruise. We were pirate writers! And here the crew was completely larking about, putting up tinsel, eating bon-bons, and singing. It was nauseating.

I was going to put a stop to it.

I opened the door to my office—and it was almost as if the theme to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly whistled across the deck, ooolie, ooolie, oooo—and all frivolities stopped. Santa clutched her ceramic bowl a little tighter to her chest, the butter and sugar within only half creamed. Sugar cookies, I suppose. Hal straddled the mizzenmast, a coil of evergreen and tinsel over one shoulder, but she was as still as a statue, as if she thought I wouldn’t notice that the top half of my ship was wrapped in garland and blinking colored lights. Honestly. Mo stood stock still, stirring a bowl of milky substance, though unfortunately for her when I came out of my office, she’d been pouring rum at the time. In her bid to pretend she was frozen in time, the rum bottle continued to pour. Then again, knowing Mo, that was probably the standard dosage of rum needed for an RWR eggnog punch.

I noted Terri and Sin were conspicuously absent. Probably buying nanos for all the orphans in China or something. As if orphans cared for the latest iTune by the Jonas brothers.

“What are you pirates doing?”

Mo put down the rum bottle and held her arms wide. “Does somebody need a hug?”

“I do not. Tell me what is going on.”

“It’s Christmas Eve.”

“I am aware what calendar day it is, Hal, but what are the pirates doing? What type of ship do you think I’m running here? Do you think I pay you to tack up gaudy decorations and eat bon-bons instead of write? Ridiculous!”

The trapdoor opened and Marn popped from its depths like a victorious Jack in the Box, waving a bit of greenery in her hand. “I found it! The mistletoe was where I thought. The Captain keeps it pinned above her bed and considering where above the bed it was pinned, I bet it’s a hint to Jack of where she wants to be kis….” Marn paused. “The Captain is standing right behind me, isn’t she?” She turned. “Good morrow, Hellie, how are you today?”


My gunner visibly swallowed. “I’m sorry to hear that, Hellie.”

“Do you know why I’m vexed? Because I have a shipful of crew who’d rather make cookies and sing God Rest Ye Merry Pirates than write on their manuscripts! How is the publishing world going to take us seriously when we lollygag all the livelong day?”

An odd cat-screeching sound vibrated up from beneath the floorboards. What the hell…were there ghosts on the ship? “What is that?”

Marn gave a wicked grin. “It’s more who is that. It’s Terri. She’s auditioning the Christmas Orgasm Elves to make sure none of them are duds.” The other pirates smirked. “So far, none of them have been.” Worse, they then started giggling. “The Bo’sun takes her job very seriously.”

They burst into raucous laughter as I narrowed a gimlet stare and said nothing. One by one, they hiccupped into silence, trying to look contrite. “Good. Now I trust you will remember yourselves for the rest of the day?”

“It’s just Christmas Eve,” Mo reminded me.

“Yes, and tomorrow’s Christmas. Tomorrow is the day you have off. Today you need to be writing.” I gestured to all the garland and cookies and eggnog. “Now put that away and get back to work—or I’ll have you fired! Ridiculous,” I muttered under my breath.

I stomped back to my cabin, slamming my door behind me. Sin bounced up and down in the chair before my desk. She was holding a brightly colored package in her hands. She looked…happy. Gah. I did not have the patience for this today.

“That package better contain the manuscript of your newly completed novel, my little spider monkey.”

Sin grinned, clearly not listening to the threat in my voice. Of course, she never had. Why would she start now?

“It’s even better! It’s your Christmas present!” She put the present in front of me.

I stared at the vivid paper and curling ribbons, then folded my hands on my desk. “What day is today?”

“Christmas Eve! Go ahead, open it!”

“That’s right, so tomorrow is Christmas.” I pushed the present back toward her. “Today is not a holiday, and you need to go back to your room and continue writing. Do you think your Nika Riley books are just going to manifest themselves? What is it you pirates have against working anyway?”

I opened my laptop to demonstrate what a hardworking pirate was supposed to be doing and stared at the cursor on the page. I had no idea what Adam should be doing next. Apparently he was taking the day off too. Was nobody working today?

“It’s Christmas!” Sin said, shutting my laptop. “It’s time for bon-bons and noodles and mashed potatoes and New Moon.”

“It’s time to finish our novels.”

“All work and no play makes the Captain a cranky ass.” She pushed the present back toward me. We began a small shoving war, which ended when the door opened again and in came two visitors. Landlubbers by the look of them, and jolly to boot. Was there no end to this hellish day?

“’ello, Captain Hellion, we are so pleased to meet you. Second Chance has told us so much about your ship. We know someone as successful as you are, running a blog about writing and managing a crew of novelists, you would be just as generous in your donations to those not as well off as you are.”

Just what I needed. Door-to-door telemarketers. This is what comes in asking rhetorical questions in which you know the situation is bound to get worse.

“People like who?” I asked, though I knew I would regret the answer. Still running them through would be frowned upon, even with my cantankerous reputation.

“You know. Fledging writers, those who don’t even consider themselves real writers. I know you’re more than willing to lead a seminar or donate money to send well-deserving….”

I better cut this off while I still had a chance. “Are there no more suicide hotlines? A dearth of chocolate? Are you suggesting these well-deserving wannabes are unable to avail themselves to bottles of rum?”

The two men exchanged frowns. I could only surmise this meeting was not going as they had planned. The bald one cleared his throat. “Well, yes, of course, there are hotlines….”

“Good. You had me worried. Have those doubting writers call the hotline then. I’m sure they’ll fare better than Virginia Woolf did. Best of all, it keeps those positive Pollyanna counselors working and off the streets, and in this economy every job counts, right?”


“Ernest Hemingway wrote several books with rum as his major character development and if that misogynist could get published, anyone can. Drink more rum. That’s what I always say. Now if you’re through trying to bilk me out of my hard-earned money, please find the plank and never return. Thank you.”

The skinny earnest one stared at me like I was the devil, only meaner. “But the writers….”

“If they want to write, they will write. They don’t need my coin to do it. Good day.”

The men left reluctantly with Sin showing them out. It was about time the wench remembered her place. I opened my laptop again and tapped out another four pages before I decided I was done fighting with Adam. Perhaps it was just as well that I had some supper and went to bed. It was too late to get any work out of my crew, and tomorrow was Christmas. I better rest up for it.

The ramen noodles I fixed were overcooked. I squirted in a bit more of the cock sauce to drown out the mushy flavor and settled down in my bed to read a little Sense & Sensibility. Colonel Brandon was always good for a nightcap. A lovely book—such a shame that ridiculous sea monsters version had come out. The Bo’sun had gotten me the Zombie Pride & Prejudice as a joke, but I found nothing funny about it. Jane Austen must be spinning in her grave.

The room felt drafty, a frosty chill in the air, and I pulled my comforter tighter around me. It was good to read Austen as she was meant to be enjoyed. Ah, to be as successful as she was. That is the most a pirate could ever hope for. Even she knew you had to choose one over the other. Love and family was better experienced in fiction, where everything turned out right in the end.

Not like real life.

A pirate couldn’t count on love, but writing, writing was always there. Tomorrow would be a good writing day, I knew. Oh, wait, it was Christmas. The crew would undoubtedly have a fit if I tried to write on Christmas. Ridiculous. I would write any day I wanted to. Christmas was just another day of the year. I sniffled and turned my face in the pillow a moment. Not that I was crying or anything, because I was not a weeper. The cold was just getting to my eyes, that’s all. And Christmas was a stupid, ridiculous holiday and I hated it. I opened my book back up and began reading the organized lives of Austen’s characters.

I must have dozed a little because I woke and realized I was not alone in my room.

Jane Austen frowned at me from my Captain’s chair. “I hope you’re happy.”

I screeched, clutching at my blankets and flipping out of my bed. I bounded up, barely noticing the pain. “You’re…you’re…you’re dead. You’re Jane Austen…and you’re dead.”

“It’s sad really. You seem intelligent—what with knowing who I am and my living circumstances, and yet like the others, you live in such a way that I have to visit you instead of having a nice and normal Christmas like other ghosts.”

I pointed at her and then around the room. “But…I…what….”

“Calm yourself, Captain. I am merely here to tell you two things. One, if you do not mend your ways, you will die like me: successful perhaps, in the narrow scope you view the world, but miserable, chained to the deck of this ship, bound to sail the perilous waters in search of treasure that can never be found. There is a chance that you can mend your future, but only if you listen….”

I was really going to have to stop eating ramen noodles so late at night. And definitely a no to the cock sauce.

“And two, you will be visited by three spirits this night.”

“Three more spirits? Are they, are they how I mend my future?”

“Yes. The first will visit you at the stroke of one of the clock. The second will visit you at the stroke of two; and the third…”

“The stroke of three?”

“No, actually he’ll be here at four. He’s always a little late but considering who he is, no one argues.”

“Who is he exactly?”

“You will see. My time grows short, and I must return to the Afterlife I have created for myself. One without any Mr. Darcy of my own, and one in which I live in infamy in having a book that was turned into a zombie satire. Ms. Hellion, do not make the same mistakes I have made.” Jane Austen went to the window, rest a hand against the sash. “Do not waste your second chance at true happiness.” And she disappeared as if she were never there.

I ran to the window and checked every edge, but the window was closed. Locked. There was no evidence at all that anyone had been in my room, although I thought I could smell the faint whisper of lavender.

It was the ramen. Sleep. That’s what I needed. I crawled back up into my bed and dismissed all absurdity from my mind. Three ghosts…ridiculous.

Stay tuned on Tuesday as Captain Hellion is visited by the first of the three spirits: the ghost of Christmas past. In the meantime, who is your favorite Scrooge and/or A Christmas Carol?
Saturday, December 25, 2010

Random Hotties

This is the last Hottie blog of 2010 so I guess that means I should go all out. But it’s been a long week.


Actually, it’s been a long month.


Okay, it’s been a long year. But I see big things happening on this ship in 2011.

Right after we survive the next week.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. And I hope this little scattering of random Hotties makes today a little warmer. Maybe they’ll help melt this snow we’re all sitting under.

This week we’re running an encore performance of our pirate adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. We loaded A Pirate Christmas Carol with so much brilliance, we couldn’t resist bringing it back.
Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Barkeep's Revenge


These parties be wreakin’ havoc on the rum stores! I swear I been makin’ midnight forays to the Tortuga Liquor Barn all week. My arms are tired from the rowin’, my back be sore as no one will help me heave the new cases ta the deck and me feet be killing me since me stools been swiped and bein’ used ta highlight the hottie a’ the week. The crew be useless, all they be wantin’ ta do is sing and drink. And eat. I ain’t seen Santa or Duff all month! (I think Hellion chained them ta the galley stove.)

Now, it be Christmas Eve and I have things ta do! The tinsel be so heavy on the mast, I think the ship be top heavy (yeah, insert snicker here!) And the scent a’ pine from that idiot tree they hauled aboard be makin’ me nose drip. Now they be dancin’ about it and coverin’ it with tinsel!

Hell, I can’t get anyone ta relieve me fer a privy break so I’ve had to resort ta the jar behind the bar. These scallywags be so drunk, no one takes notice of me pleas fer help… Time fer some vengeance… 

Barkeep’s Revenge (Sung to the tune of The Little Drummer Boy)

“Rum!” They cried out!
“Want rum punch, and rum!” (Rum! Rum!)
The crew did shout and shout!
“Want rum punch, and rum!” (Rum! Rum!)
I need another keg!
“Want rum punch, and rum!” (Rum! Rum!)
Some help, don’t make me beg!
“More rum punch, and rum!”
rum punch, and rum!”
rum punch, and rum!” (Rum! Rum!)
They ignored my plea
“Just rum punch, and rum!” (Rum! Rum!)
Kept decking that tree.

They’ll regret this…
“Want rum punch, and rum!” (Rum! Rum!)
Where’s that jar of piss?
“Want rum punch, and rum!” (Rum! Rum!)
I hope they like the kick…
“Want rum punch, and rum!” (Rum! Rum!)
Oh, what a dirty trick!
“More rum punch, and rum!”
rum punch, and rum!”
rum punch, and rum!” (Rum! Rum!)
Shall I serve you more?
“Just rum punch, and rum!” (Rum! Rum!)
Come let me pour.

“What’s she done to us?
No more rum punch, or rum!” (Ack! Gag!)
“Where’s the blunderpuss?
She’s ruined the rum!” (Spit! Heave!)
Sounds like I better run!
“No more rum punch, or rum!” (Run! Run!)
I was just having fun!
Run! Sin has the gun!”
Run Chance, run run!”
Run Chance, run, run!”
Saved by my kraken friend
“More rum punch, and rum!” (Rum! Rum!)
(Least he liked the blend…)

The holidays, they be pure madness, I tell ya! By now, I’ve about had all I can take. January can’t happen soon enough for me. My holiday spirit waxed and waned all month. Now, ya know most of the drinks here on the Revenge be purely in the cavernous mind a’ yer’s truly. But I’ve read some good books with drinks in them. Carole Nelson Douglas serves up a new one with every new book in her Delilah Street, Paranormal Investigator, series. I know cooking series often serve up recipes, but I don’t see many for the bar…

Have you a favorite drink? Literary born or not? Share the recipe and we’ll add it ta the tab! And if you use Kraken Black Rum? Even better!
Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"The Twelve Things about Writing That Are Such a Pain to Me"

Sooo….  I tentatively told the crew I was going to parody “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”  But, well, that was just too happy for a writing parody.  So, I picked something a little more appropriate.

Without further adieu….  My parody of a parody.


"The Twelve Things about Writing That Are Such a Pain to Me"


The first thing about writing that’s such a pain to me… is thinking up an idea.


The second thing about writing that’s such a pain to me:

Soothing a fickle muse

And thinking up an idea.


The third thing about writing that's such a pain to me:

All those revisions,

Soothing a fickle muse

And thinking up an idea.


The fourth thing about writing that's such a pain to me:

Sending query letters,

All those revisions,

Soothing a fickle muse

And thinking up an idea.


The fifth thing about writing that's such a pain to me:


Sending query letters,

All those revisions,

Soothing a fickle muse

And thinking up an idea.


The sixth thing about writing that's such a pain to me:

Nitpicky critique groups


Do I seriously have to write this letter?

All those revisions,

Soothing a fickle muse

And thinking up an idea.


The seventh thing about writing that's such a pain to me:

Unhelpful contest feedback

Nitpicky critique groups


What do you mean the letter’s too long?

I’ll use adverbs if I want to.

No, no aliens in my Regency…

And thinking up an idea.


The eighth thing about writing that’s such a pain to me:

Not enough caffeine

Unhelpful contest feedback

How many people are in this Yahoo group anyway?


I’ll pay you to write this letter.

I’m using fragments for EMPHASIS!

But of course someone should be electrocuted here….

And thinking up an idea.


The ninth thing about writing that's such a pain to me:

Dreaded sagging middle

Not enough caffeine

You highlighted every comma, first round judge?

Five thousand critiques before I get one back.


Why don’t agents take phone calls?

Professional editors can’t be that expensive.

Please don’t make me beg, muse.

And thinking up an idea.


The tenth thing about writing that's such a pain to me:

Unruly secondary characters

That annoying sagging middle

Not enough caffeine

Listen judge, did someone pee in your Wheaties?

This critiquer has a personality disorder.


I know I put the word count here somewhere….

What’s another word for is?

Don’t leave me, I’m only joking!

And thinking up an idea.


The eleventh thing about writing that's such a pain to me:

“You’re writing a romance?”

Unruly secondary characters

Stupid sagging middle

How far’s the nearest Starbucks?

I paid thirty dollars for this snark?

That’s it.  I’m being as nasty as possible on hers now….


Sincerely or Regards?

I’ll start every character’s name with a “J” if I want to.

I’ll replace you with a dog.

And thinking up an idea.


The twelfth thing about writing that's such a pain to me:

I want to be like Nora!

“You’re writing a romance?”

Secondary characters

Can’t we just cut out the middle?

Coffee IV drip, stat.

I’ll never enter a contest again.

It should say flambé not feedback on the Yahoo intro page.


Screw you, high concept.

I’m just going to start over.

Whatever.  Talking to myself means I should be medicated anyway….

And thinking up an idea!!


Merry Christmas, crew and castaways!  How about you, though?  What things about writing drive you nuts?
Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Do You Hear What I Hear?

I walked the dark sandy streets of Tortuga and listened to the rowdy pirates and sailors getting their drink on after coming to port for the holidays. Their gruff voices steadily grew louder. The merry laughing coming from the buildings came after the sounds of fighting and drunken chair bashing.

A man flew out in front of me and I came to a stop. He landed face down in the sand and I shot a look at the broken window and the drunken pirate who threw him out.

Said the drunken pirate to the ice picking queen.

“Do you have a problem?”

Do I have a problem?”

Standing in the broken window frame, dancing in the firelight.

“Do you have a problem?”

Do I have a problem?”

I tucked the specialty bottle of rum closer to my body and pulled the collar of my jacket up further. Remember what the captain said, I thought to myself. Do not trouble make. It's almost Christmas and we need to get out of here.

I mentally swore. This was the wrong night to be itching for a fight.

“Nope.” I gave him one last look before I stepped over the lump of pirate and continued on my way. I rounded the corner and heavy footsteps came to my attention.

The ship of the Rogue Sword.

A sword, a sword

Swinging in the night.

With a blade as big as the ship's mast.

With a blade as big as the ship's mast.

I swiveled on my heels and turned down the alley. The Rogue Sword was our sworn enemy. We'd stolen some of their crew to make up our hotties crew and they were wont to forgive us. When DRD tried to offer positions to soothe their irate childishness, they lashed out and stole our rum supply!

Said the Rogue Sword Crew to the Ice Picking Queen,

“Yo ho! What do we have here!”

Voices boomed through the quiet night,

“Isn't it a little late for a wench to be alone in the night?”

I slowed to a stop and darted a look over my shoulder. Golden Eye Johnny stood at the front of his crew, arms crossed over his chest, biceps straining against the sleeves of his t-shirt. His golden eyes were focused on me.

“Shit,” I swore under my breath. My ice pick was in my boot as a safety precaution and not in my pocket for easy accessibility. I thought about my options. No cell service on Tortuga. No ability for a telepathic line to the other pirates as I've yet to develop that ability.

A fight! A fight!

Late into the night.

With an ice pick as shiny as a diamond.

With an ice pick as shiny as a diamond.

I turned into a fighting stance. Half my body was shielded in the dark the alley offered and the moon shimmered down on the other half. I smiled sweetly and the crew snickered.

Said the Ice Picking Queen to the Golden Eye Johnny,
“Walk away or you'll face the wrath of Evil Twin.”
Laughter rang out through the alley way,

“Do you really think you can take me?”

My fist clenched at my side, fingers popped in anticipation. The rum bottle was warm against my side. The corners of my lips turned malicious with an evil glint in my eye. I crooked my finger at Golden Eye Johnny and he shook his head.

“I'll be the last.” His golden eyes twinkled in the moonlight. “I want to savor this moment.”

A look, a look.

Between two killers.

May the winner be the ice picking queen.

May the winner be the ice picking queen.

He waved forward three of his mighty henchmen from the Rogue crew. These men were giants and brute strength was quite obvious for all to see. I slid deeper into position and waved them forward. The first henchman rubbed his hands together gleefully and the two behind him split up so they could surround me. My heart rate raced, blood danced through my veins. I took a deep breath and dodge the first fist lashing out towards my hair and swung the rum bottle. The smell of spiced rum and blood filled the alley as he fell to his knees. I swung around and caught the second henchman in the chest, slashing his shirt open, blood welled to the wound.

“Wench!” The first henchman ranted, blood poured down the side of his face. His hand applied pressure to his skull. “Get her!”

Three more henchmen for the Rogue came into the melee. Golden Eye Johnny watched with a smile.

The henchman closest to me lunged forward and I planted my booted foot right in his chest. I wielded the broken rum bottle as if my life depended on it, slashing and dodging. A henchman caught me from behind. His fist tangled in my hair. My feet slipped out from under me and I fell to my knees and reached for my boot. I would win no matter the cost.

My hand wrapped around the cold metal of my diamond pick. There was a collective hush and everyone looked toward the street corner where six shadows silhouetted stood in super pirate hero poses.

Said the RWR crew to the fallen Rogue Sword Crew,

Golden Eye Johnny now you've really done it!”

Capt'n Hellie stood at the front, pissed off and finger pointed,

Now you've gone and messed with the wrong pirate crew!”

The Capt'n brandished her Capt'n sword and Bo'sun swung a length of chain. Marnee held an old keyboard using the cord like a whip. Hal stood in the background, supervising while the baby did martial arts in the baby oven. DRD directed her harem of Hotties to kick some ass while she read books on Bo'sun's clepted e-reader. Chanceroo called out the spirits of the Kraken.

The fight, the fight.

Will be won without a fuss.

Because the RWR crew is truly the best!

Because the RWR crew is truly the best!

As we came back to the RWR ship, flushed with excitement, joyful with our victory, I hung back behind the crew.

“How did you know?” I asked and six heads turned in my direction.

Hellie grinned and Chanceroo looked sheepish. “Chance was worried you'd run off with her special bottle of rum for making her new Christmas creation and wouldn't stop harping us.”

“So we decided to set off on a Christmas field trip!” Marn twirled her keyboard cord like a baton. “Let's make this a tradition!”

Chanceroo grinned and headed over to the bar. She crouched behind the bar and sat a dark bottle of rum on the bar. “I'll make us some drinks! Let's party!”

Bo'sun pulled the prisoners onto the gangplank and jerked her thumb towards the men. “What am I supposed to do with them?”

“Put them in my room?” DRD inquired with a smirk. “I'll teach them all a lesson they won't soon forget.”

Hellie shook her head in resignation and Bo'sun laughed. Bo'sun dumped off the men in DRD's room and we all went to the bar. We all took our rum concoctions and downed them with a swig. Hellie smacked her glass down with a thump and gave me a look.

“We are NOT doing this again next year.”

I smirked. We'll see about that.


Merry Christmas to all and Happy Holidays to the rest! Thanks for suffering through my horrible rendition of “Do You Hear What I Hear”! Not nearly as bloody as I wanted to make it.

What is your favorite holiday tradition? What is your favorite holiday movie or book?
Sunday, December 19, 2010

Carols of the Books

As usual, I couldn't make decision. Originally I chose Angels We Have Heard On High to parody, but then a couple weeks later, I heard The Chipmunk Song and it sounded so much like the crew, I had to write a song about it as well. So you're going to have to read both.

Novels we have read all night,
Sleepless we have yawned all day,
But The End turned out all right
Resulting in our joyous praise!

Eloisa, you have done it again!
Eloisa, you have done it again!

Readers, why this jubilee?
Why your praise on Amazon?
How many stars—much more than three,
Which inspire your review so long?

Eloisa, you have done it again!
Eloisa, you have done it again!

Come to Regency and lark,
London, Bath, and Pemberley;
Come, watch the rake make his mark
As he falls in love for all to see.

Eloisa, you have done it again!
Eloisa, you have done it again!

Mayne will always be my fave,
Though other tales we’ve all have seen.
His eyes, his hair, I’ll always rave,
And his love for a girl who is much like me.

Eloisa, you have done it again!
Eloisa, you have done it again!

Actually I'm looking forward to a lot of upcoming books in late December and January. Monica McCarty's new Highland Guardian novel, The Ranger; Elizabeth Hoyt's next in her new series--Lord, I love her books!!; and Eloisa's Beauty and Beast retelling. 2011 is going to be a great year for all of us!

Hellion: All right you pirates! Ready to sing your song?

Chance: Aye, we are, Captain!

Donna: I’m sorta busy

Marn: Sing, sing, sing, sing, sing. *bouncing up and down*

Hellion: Okay, Terri?

Terri: I’m here, aren’t I?

Hellion: Okay, Hal?

Hal: Cookies?

Hellion: Okay, Sin? Sin? SIN!

Sin: Okay!!!

Book launch, book launch time’s at hand,
Time to read and work on our tans!
We’ve been patient, but we can’t endure,
Hurry, book launch, you’ve got the Cure.
Want a story with twists and turns,
Me, I want to burn, baby, burn!
We can hardly stand the wait,
Please, book launch, don’t be late.

Hellion: Okay, pirates, get ready. That was very good, Donna.

Donna: Naturally

Hellion: Very good, Hal.

Hal: Coooookie!

Hellion: Ah, Sin, you were a little squeaky, watch it. *pauses* Ah, Sin. Sin. SIN!

Sin: OKAY!

Want a story with twists and turns,
Me, I want to burn, baby, burn!
We can hardly stand the wait,
Please, book launch, don’t be late.
We can hardly stand the wait,
Please, book launch, don’t be late.

Hellion: Very good, wenches

All: Let’s sing it again! Yeah, let’s sing it again? Do you think it will make Eloisa write faster?

Hellion: No, let’s not overdo it, and no, it won’t make Eloisa write faster.

Sin: How can we possibly overdo it?

Hal: Cookies?

Chance: Or with Vegas lights?


All: We want to sing it again!

Hellion: Why don’t we go get some rum?

All: Why can’t we sing it again? *arguing ensues*

What books are you looking forward to in the coming months? Let's start stockpiling our TBR piles! And tune in tomorrow where Bo'sun does the best parody of God Bless You Merry Gentlemen you've ever sang!! BEST. PARODY. EVER.
Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hotties with the Pipes

One of the best things about this time of year is the chance to pull out all our favorite Christmas music. I don’t know about you, but you can’t beat a classic crooner for turning out the holiday cheer.

They make us sigh and swoon with the old standards, but there’s something extra special about songs like “It’s Cold Outside” with Dino trying his best to talk the lady into staying.

Or who can resist Frankie singing “The Christmas Song”?

There aren't as many crooners around today, but thankfully, I managed to find a couple Hotties who continue to keep the torch burning.


In addition to their knee-weakening voices, they’re not so bad on the eyes either. Remember to tune in all this week when we put a pirate twist on a few classic Christmas tunes. You will not want to miss these puppies.
Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Right/Wrong Words

Ever have a buzzword that sets you off? A word that you’re certain once you’ve read it on the back cover of a book, or seen it somewhere in a review you say to yourself, “Not gonna read that one!”

For some, it’s M/M or a phrase, like… “The cat tells her…” And that’s it, not going there. For Captain Hellion, it’s the picture of the cat or dog on the cover. Though she has made some exceptions.

I’m not a big fan of the word inspirational. Any mention of divine intervention and I’m not going anywhere near that book!

Oddly, I find myself avoiding any books that mention vampires or shifters of any sort also. (Not the same reaction, I’m just a big burned out on the fangs, no matter where they come from.) And angels. Not sure where this one came from, but I’m a bit anti-angel right now. Hmmmm

Food for thought…wonder why?


I imagine, as authors, we have to consider what a reader might find attractive, or repulsive. Who do you want to imagine reading your blurb and then tossing your book in their must-have basket? Conversely, you don’t want to use a word or phrase that tricks the unsuspecting into hauling your book home, then writing scathing reviews on Amazon. (It's tricksy!)

I recently sent the Bo’sun a blurb of a book I was working on for my agent. Her reaction? “I don’t really read anything with aliens in it.” (The bo’sun, not my agent.) (My agent likes aliens.)

I had to think about this, and reassure her that other than a method for transportation and education, the aliens in this short story are all but invisible. I realized that although I never used the word alien, she followed a logical path and assumed there were more aliens in the book than there actually are. (Did that make sense?)

What jumps out at you when you read this? (The red is my addition to reassure readers like the bo’sun.)

Jahari sold herself to the starborn Etwa to save her little sister from life in a nasty brothel. Tests reveal an aptitude for sensual service and she is trained as a high court slut. A contract of seven years runs out on the human planet Mentari but the powerful Basba is determined to keep her. She escapes swearing to see him reported to the Etwa authorities.

Toseman is the captain of the Sea Horse, sailing the seas of Mentari. Several days from port a stowaway is brought before him. Her bright blue hair betrays her identity and puts his secret at risk. Drawn to her, he accepts her offer to serve as ship’s mistress and promises to see her to the nearest Etwan spaceport.

Pursued by her former master, the two join forces and with the help of the Sea Horse crew, they seek Etwan justice.


Does adding that one word make a difference in perception? (Keep in mind this is a rough blurb, not likely to be the one I use to sell it. Though it won’t vary a whole lot!)

Donna had a blog earlier this week on her site that dealt with the impossibility of a writer translating a vision accurately to a page. At least accurately enough to really satisfy the drive to do it perfectly. In her blog, she advised to not worry about perfection. Just do the best you can. I commented don’t sweat it at all, because the reader is going to see something different anyway!

And there it is, my blurb and the Bo’sun’s reaction! You can correct for some assumptions, but you can’t really direct the reader’s brain to see what you see and understand what you understand. (The technology just isn’t there yet!)

Once the words are on the page, you have no control over how a reader is going to react. I can imagine at some future time, all of us will have the experience of finding a reader in front of us, ranting enthusiastically about some scene and we’ll tilt our head and inside we’ll wonder, “What the heck is she talking about? I didn’t write that!”

I’m curious, what words turn you off? Or images? What words do you imagine your readers will see and give a great shout of ‘uh huh!’ and grab your book for their basket? Are they the same words that will make all but certain that other shoppers thrust their nose into the air and stalk off without your book?

When you just can't help taking things too far...

Sometimes, I get so caught up in something I take it a bit to the extreme. Well, maybe "sometimes" is a bit of a stretch. How about . . . regularly. Often? Okay, all the freaking time?


Sometimes, this can be a very good thing. There have been times, while writing, that I've had an idea, and I've needed to stretch it. Maybe it's a bit of a cliched idea, maybe it's one that is only so-so. But it needs to grow. As a writer, I need to feel like I'm hovering just on that edge of, "is this okay?" "Can I really do this?"

Some of the most vivid, vibrant, stick-in-your-head-forever scenes are ones that take things just a bit too far.

A bit too far is a good thing.

And then there's those times that . . . well, it's no longer a good thing. When it's just plain absurd. That happens too. I tend to do this with craft books. I'll find something great in a how-to-write book, and I'll try to ruthlessly apply it to my writing. It usually doesn't end well, and I have to back off again.

Too far.

It happens in real life too. I've been collecting baby items around the house (little dude is due in February), and my father built me this stunningly beautiful changing table. I found a hamper to go in it that matches everything perfectly. Trouble is, you can only buy it in Australia. It's absurdly expensive to ship a clothes hamper from Australia (not to mention, taking things *a bit* too far. More than a bit? Well . . . sure). So I've spent weeks on Craigslist, emailing people all over the country, looking for this damn hamper. Finally found a guy in DC who will give me his used one for ten bucks. So yesterday, my sister-in-law and I make the 2 hour drive into DC, fight through rush hour traffic, manage to get all the way downtown, to pick up this hamper. It's beautiful. It's perfect. It's exactly the right shades of green and brown, with flowers and bunnies . . . . and it's an inch too wide to fit in the changing table.

I haven't told my husband yet that it doesn't fit. I'm waiting for him to stop laughing about me driving all the way downtown to pick it up. Then I'll explain that I need him to take apart the dowel rods and shave an inch off each.

Yeah, too far, too far. But in the end, it's going to be perfect. I can just feel it. I stretched and I pushed, and can legitimately be accused of taking things too far.

But sometimes, it just works, and you know it works.

Any scenes you've written, where you've gotten that feeling you might be stretching the boundaries a bit too far, but you know it's going to work? It just has to be that way for the story? Every done it and know you have to cut it, that it's just plain too far, and not in a good way? How about reading -- read something you thought maybe went too far, but that was the scene you still can still vividly recall years later?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Week's Influence: Cookies and candy brought in by patients, Point of Grace's Christmas CD and my hair looks like I stuck my finger in a light socket- courtesy of running out of Christmas shopping time due to snow, sleet and ice at in opportune times and 3-ring binders filled with notes and depositions just waiting to be reviewed and underlined and highlighted.

I'm at a loss what to write.

Don't get me wrong. I'm never at a loss what to write creatively. It seems just as I think up one thing, a plot bunny rears it's mohawked head, fangs dripping with plot blood and stares at me with plot bunny beady fire red eyes. Poison sprays from the plot bunny hiss. Paper disintegrates, asphalt oozes. I slip my hand into my boot and wrap my fingers around the cold metal of my trusty ice pick.

Nothing stares at me and hisses and lives to tell about it.

I did NaNo in the month of November. I haven't written that much in one month since I first started writing. I won't lie. It felt great to be that creative. I wrote one thing and the next came to me. It was like old times with my trusty new laptop. Then I had one plot bunny. “Oh, this is great! It totally fills in the gap I was wondering how to fix.”

Two plot bunnies: “Oh! Excellent! This would make a great segue for Tory's character! Wouldn't it be great if there was another smaller plot underneath this behemoth one I've got going on! I will just weave it RIGHT here.”

Three plot bunnies: “Oooh. But where to put this? Hm.” Ponder. Ponder. Ponder. “Oh yeah! I can just add in another three scenes to accommodate this and a smaller black moment.”

Four: “Sweet jesus! This book will be 200k by the time I finish if I don't stop now.”

Five: “I swear! I'm getting out the custom made ice picks and hunting you down!” Waving ice picks manically and assuming evil ninja stance. “Evil plot bunnies!! BE GONE!”

I easily succumb to tangents. I'm a puppy with three new shiny toys. I don't know which one to go to first. Once upon a time I thought taking notes might help me stave off the plot bunnies. I think it only makes it worse. My brain needs freedom. My plot needs bunnies to grow.

I've taken the month of December off from writing/authoring. You can disagree with this if you want. Whatever. I need December to work on other things creatively. Like getting the house ready for Christmas guests. And gato (cat) proofing the decorations. The Christmas tree has submitted to the Dos Los Gatos gang and had to be taken down. Next, I will find them swinging by their fangs from the garland wrapped around the banister and I will lose it. We'll have gatos for Christmas dinner. You won't tell on me... will you?

Alright, so let's talk plot bunnies. Anyone else have this issue? Favorite plot bunny look? Do you have a reoccuring plot bunny episode in your head as you write? (Can plot bunnies cause a reoccurring theme throughout your writing? Hm.)

I'll be back next week with my Pirate rendition of "Do You Hear What I Hear."  Sure to be horrible and a good laugh.