Thursday, December 29, 2011

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 28, 2011

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 27, 2011

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 26, 2011

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 25, 2011

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?
Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Day Before the Day Before Christmas

The ship be quiet…most of the pirates be off dickerin’ in the real world… Wrappin’ gifts, welcomin’ family…runnin’ and hidin’ from family… I’m thinkin’ might be nice ta stay all snuggled up wit’ me kraken collection…

But the ship, she still be here, bobbin’ on the gentle swells. The decorations still be sparkling, the tinsel hangin’ from the lines, the empty rum bottles tinklin’ as they roll inta each other. Aye, the Revenge bash was one fer the record books.

Sin? Well, she sinned. Repeatedly.

The Bo’sun nearly swallowed her whistle, laughing with Hellion as Jack and Hector tried to play the romance cover model and had a pose off.  (The pictures have been burnt to protect the innocent.)

Marn and Hal brought their young’uns, though put them ta bed early on ta enjoy the debauchery without hindrance. Who knew the kraken could be such a good kid sitter?

Scape, bein’ new ta the ship, brought cookies, which just inspired fightin’ over who got ta eat them. Next time she’ll know that a dozen dozen ain’t enough… We forgave her and the Assassin took over distrubutin’ the goodies. Which meant she got ‘em all.


Now, me? I stayed behind me bar, watchin’ the frivolity and usin’ me hidden camera now and then. (Ah, these pics may be useful in 2012!) I been feelin’ a bit overwhelmed with the year a’ 2011. So much good stuff, so much so-so stuff… Bein’ a published author ain’t fer sissies!

I arranged me pirate booty on the bar and let them sparkle fer me.

I want ta wish me pirate sister’s the brightest a’ 2012… I walked inta last year full a confidence and conviction and I’m workin’ the same mojo fer 2012.

I talked ta Pirate Santa as we shared some Kraken Rum, ‘bout me wishes fer the crew this year…

Fer Hellion – I wish yer heart’s ease, many more merry moments wit’ yer Da, and Deerhunter.

Fer the Bo’sun – I wish a Golden Heart and agent! You, go, girl!

Fer Sin! I wish a glittery ice pick, all bedazzled with real rubies and diamonds!

Fer Marn – Let’s see ya in print this year! The boys stay healthy and always in love wit’ pirates!

Fer Hal – Nothin’ but good news and health!

Fer Scape – Yer special girl, and ya got ta believe in yerself. Fer ya, I wish a year a’ believin’ and trustin’ in yer voice.

Fer the Assassin – I’m hopin’ ta see all those wild stories I hear ya been hoardin’ in print!

J. Perry, Santa, and Lisa…the pirates who been landbound too long, hope ta see ya climb aboard a bit more this year! Yer missed!

Me? I want ta set the world on fire! Oh, and be selected fer that reality show fer writers… ;-)

May the kraken be wit’ ya all! Save travels taday and all the weekend!

If'n there by any question fer taday...what would ya ask Pirate Santa ta give yer mates?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The whispering lure of new story ideas

I'm getting toward the end of my revisions on a novel I've been working on for over two years. I'm exhausted with this project, and frankly, am sick of revisions. And like the whispers of a kid wanting me to come out and play, I hear the rumblings of a new story.

She's a cop from a city on the East Coast. She's running from something. I'm not sure yet. But she started driving, and she drove until her car broke down, which happened in some dinky little spot-on-the-map town.


He runs a sports tournament/camp type thing. He's the son of a small town doctor, with two brothers. One's a doctor too, the other is a fancy-schmancy lawyer. The reminder he's not "living up to his potential" is constant.

Somehow they hook up. I think she needs a job and he gives her one. And then maybe her past catches up.  I have a feeling it'll get dark because that's what happens to most of my stuff. Maybe it was a serial killer she was chasing that drove her to run.

I love this stage. I love all the "maybes" that are floating around in my  head. I'm trying to capture all the emotions, and seize all the fragments I'm seeing. And every idea I get leads to new ideas.

When I was reading Jenny Crusie's blogs about making collages, it seemed she bought most of her items/pictures for her collages during this stage. She looked for items that represented an emotion, or pictures that evoked a tone, while the story developed in her mind.

I tend to free write during this stage, to develop the ideas and emotions I'm seeing. I've heard other people draw pictures, and others start making outlines.

Do you do anything creative to capture ideas in the new-story-idea phase? Do you focus more on the characters, the emotions, the tone, etc? What do you love about this stage? Anybody have any ideas for the scenario above?

I'm in a training session all day today, but I'll respond as often as I can!
Sunday, December 18, 2011

Completely Sacreligious But Still Funny

*Bo'sun taps a music stand with her whistle* Since it's the week of Christmas, we're pulling out our favorite blogs of Christmas past. This is probably my favorite parody so once again, to the tune of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, everyone look lively and sing out.

Drink up ye scurvy pirate crew

Let no rum go to waste

Remember, Chance, our bartender

Will mix your drink to taste

So every wench gets what she wants

And we all stay shit-faced

O tidings of nookie and rum

Nookie and rum

O tidings of nookie and rum

Marn: Hal can’t really get shit-faced, so I’m going to have her share.

Bo’sun: Have at it, Marn. You’re doing it for the children.

Hal: Thanks, guys. Y’all are making me weepy.

In Port Royal and Tortuga

The streets are filled with cheer

Come join the fun and raise a glass

Careful, don’t spill your beer

It’s Christmas time, drink up the wine

Get drunk and flash your….arse

O tidings of nookie and rum

Nookie and rum

O tidings of nookie and rum

Sin: The last thing we need is to encourage arse flashing on this ship.

Bo’sun: That encouragement was for the Hotties.

Sin: Oh, I’m good then.

Hellie wants her Captain Jack

And Sin wants new ice picks

Hal just wants to GET IT OUT!

And Marn wants plotting tricks

DRD wants more Hotties

With great big thick wallets

O tidings of nookie and rum

Nookie and rum

O tidings of nookie and rum

Donna: How did you know?!

Bo’sun: You told me.

Donna: Oh yeah, I did. Fingers crossed!

Chance: What about me?!

Bo’sun: You got a contract, you’re done until 2012.

I hope you like my pirate tune

I wrote it just for you

There is one thing I’m wishing for

A whistle that is new

And if there’s room in Santa’s sack

Please bring Keith Urban too

O tidings of nookie and rum

Nookie and rum

O tidings of nookie and rum

Hellie: Nicole isn’t going to like that.

Bo’sun: She’s on location, she’ll never know.

Chance: I still can’t believe I don’t get anything.

Bo’sun: Suck it up, butterbean. I’ll buy you a drink in New York.

We have two extra pirates

We did not have before

One is an Assassin

A killer we adore

The other is a cute Scapegoat

We make do all the chores

O tidings of nookie and rum

Nookie and rum

O tidings of nookie and rum

The pirates on this vessel

Are bitchy and uncouth

They drink too much and sleep too much

And some are even loose

But even we can smile and say

Happy holidays to youtz

Oh, tidings of nookie and rum

Nookie and rum

Oh tidings of nookie and rummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.


Other than Hal no longer being preggers and Chance and I never making it to New York, this seems to hold up. And so does the question. Tell us what one gift you’re expecting on Christmas morn. What did you ask for that someone had better get you if they want to live? And thanks for hanging with us for another year. Drinks all around!!!
Thursday, December 15, 2011

Remaking Archetypes

Whoohoo! Today the new Sherlock Holmes opens and I’m so looking forward to this second movie. Hoping for lots of explosions, smart-ass comments, some fisticuffs…and phenomenal costumes. And music.

Now, I do think of Sherlock Holmes as an archetype. The second fictional consulting detective. (Yes, the second…the first was written by Edgar Allen Poe. But Arthur Conan Doyle caught fire with Holmes.) Homes, the man who has no use for women, understands body language like no one else, reads clues and extrapolates details that seem invisible to the normal eye, until explained. Well-mannered when needed, rude when not. (House really is remarkably like him, but with much less charm IMHO.)

There have been how many cinematic adaptations of the character? Wikipedia lists 75 actors having played the character in 211 films. And I bet that is out of date. I have to agree with Wiki that Jeremy Brett played the best of any I’ve ever seen. The most true to the books and Gods, that man can act. I even liked the two different actors who played his Watson.

I can’t tell you how many novels/short stories I’ve read. All the original Doyle’s and probably several dozen written by others. From putting Holmes in space to modern settings…writers love to toy with this character.

So do actors. Robert Downey, Jr. and Guy Ritchie are doing something bizarre and captivating…and borrowing heavily from suppositions about Holmes. And darn it, the movies are just plain old fun!

Archetypes…literary characters that are reinvented by the adaptors. Holmes is one of my favorites. (I also enjoy how Tarzan has been revisioned over and over again. And the Three Musketeers…another of my fav. Oh, and Robin Hood!)

Now, I’m not a massive Darcy fan. Though sheer ignorance…please, stop throwing rum bottles at me! I haven’t read the book or seen enough of the movies to have an opinion, but I’m sure you all do… If not…what of Holmes, Tarzan, Darcy…what of Dracula, Frankenstein? Ebenezer Scrooge? Have you a favorite? Have you characters where the changes have infuriated you? (I have always felt that way about several of the Holmes…btw.)

Have you a character you can imagine redone? That you would like to see redone? Can anyone think of a female archetype redone? (Other than Miss Marple?) (Agatha Christie if you aren’t familiar… Interesting how it’s often mystery characters that are redone again and again…) Though there are several adaptions of Emma.

Okay, there is Peter Pan… And gods, how often has Johnny done this? Willy Wonka, Sweeny Todd, Ichabod Crane and soon…Barnabas Collins, (who could be said to be Dracula…) And who is Jack Sparrow a recreation of? Errol Flynn’s Captain Blood?

Okay, he’s probably an original!

You see, it isn’t just a new actor…it’s the new story, the new vision of the character… It’s fan fiction, taken to the professional level!

Even the Kraken has been imagined in many ways. From the stop motion photography of the great Ray Harryhausen, to the latest Clash of the Immortals, to Pirates of the Caribbean, to my fine fella… And wow, how zombies have changed!

Can you think of any other archetype characters I’ve missed?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Moving Your Goals Forward One Step At A Time

Hi Crew! Raises tankard of rum in salute. This is my first post for the Revenge so I hope you’ll show me a little mercy and not make me walk the plank just yet.

For a little background on me, I’m in the process of writing my first draft of that first book. And it’s been hard. Really hard. Three years worth of hard so far and I’m getting so close to the end I can smell it. Um…well maybe I should shower more often…

Bo’Sun recently talked about setting big goals and Hellion followed up with a post about breaking that down into smaller 5% size goals. But what I want to talk about is how many goals do you have? I'm not just talking about just writing goals because although we pirates are writers one and all, our lives are filled with other areas we have dreams for.

I have career goals, relationship goals, health goals, etc and I realized that although it’s not bad to have set goals in each of the areas of your life, the key is to find a way to be moving toward your goals in tandem. I’d been treating each area of my life as a separate entity and that made it impossible for me to give any one of those things enough attention. Something always had to take a backseat and for me it was easy for that to be writing when I was doubting myself. Plus, writing really is a time hog!

My health goals, while also a major time suck, are really important to me so I’ve tried to test out ways to make my workout time do double duty. The power of technology allows me to read blog posts, tweet and read books while I’m on the treadmill. Which is great, but none of those things are writing. What to do?

A Treadmill Desk. Yep, you heard me right. After reading some blogs and hearing other writers rave about them, I decided I could make my own cheap (read: $12 total for supplies) treadmill desk that would allow me to write on my laptop while walking slowly on the treadmill.

Now this won’t replace my regular workouts completely, but I will be able to do long slow walks for cardio now and be writing the entire time! Check out the photos to see my lovely DIY skills. I have plans to do some upgrades as I use it more and see what I’d like to add. Attaching a notepad and velcro for a pen are on the list.

The best thing, and what I'm so excited about, is that I was able to take two separate goals and find a way to make them work together. I’m moving forward with both without feeling like I’m sacrificing one part of my life for the other.

What goals are highest on your priority list? How do you set those priorities? Does writing seem to be the one goal that always takes a back seat? Take a look at your life goals/dreams and see if you can come up with some creative ideas on how to merge your time to knock out two goals at the same time.
Sunday, December 11, 2011

Everyone Sing Along!

Have a happy, crappy First Draft—

It’s the most fun when you write.

You can bet my word count’s met

And I’ve set my Hero right.


Have a happy, crappy First Draft—

And when you get set to revise,

Say “Hell Yes” to your writer’s stress

And kiss every typo goodbye!


Oh, ho, the plot does blow,

Holes as wide as you can see,

But CPs help fix your book,

Kiss them once for me!


Have a happy, crappy First Draft,

And in case it wasn’t clear—

Oh my chappie, have a happy,

Crappy First Draft this year!



Okay, so what do you like best about finishing a First Draft? And how do you keep yourself motivated to the end? What's your favorite reward for meeting your daily word count: glass of wine, cup of cocoa, backrub? And what is your favorite Christmas Carol?
Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hidden Agendas...

I really do love television, especially the quirky little series. I’m a fan of characters, in general, that is what I watch for. A good role and actor will totally suck me in. But it’s the twisty little ways my mind absorbs and then juggles plots about that inspires me. Until I begin to wonder…how many hidden agendas are out in TVLand? Not to mention LitLand.

For one thing, scifi/fantasy has always been accused of planting hidden agendas in their stories. Whether they end up on video or in books. One case in point? Avatar. The pope himself raised objections to the propaganda underneath the film…that a living planet bound the natives together without a ‘big guy in the sky’ premise.

I laughed. (Not at the notion, I thought Mr. Pope had it pretty spot on, but at the objection.)


Now, I’m watching Terra Nova. It’s on Fox, so I figured it would have all sorts of ‘global warming is nonsense’ at the most and at the least, make the colony, sent to a prehistoric past to give mankind a second chance, terribly earnest and religious.


Nope. The future air is nearly unbreathable, it’s a totalitarian world and those who first started the colony, though bound by a military sense of honor, are not wound up in God stuff. And the big bad in this series, other than the occasional ravaging dinosaur, is the merchants in the future, who want to mine the past, strip it of resources to bring to the dying future.

Okay, I can see wanting to save the world simply because they want to save the world, but from the hints dropped, it isn’t for saving the world…it’s for profit and power. And the way they manipulate the agents they sneak into the past…by holding their children hostage? Ugly.

I’m a huge fan of the guy in charge, Colonel Taylor. Who, surprise! Was the really evil guy in Avatar. In fact, I think Stephen Lang would be a fabulous Captain Silvestri when the movie version of The Kraken’s Mirror comes out…

But I digress as I drool…

I’m watching this show and finding myself looking for the agenda and the propaganda. I do the same with Fringe and Haven and a handful of other scifi/techy shows. I find the hidden messages do seem more prevalent in these type of shows. I suppose because the hidden message of something like The Big Bang Theory is more obvious, brainy guys can be sexy. (Except Sheldon.)

A series like Revenge, who my friend Jane got me hooked on, is a nice little exercise in vengeance and so it’s fun. But I’m not sure there is any major social message embedded in the very rich reaping what they sew.

Books have often been accused of preaching philosophies. I admit it, mine are full of the things that I believe in. But I hope it’s simply part of the plot and not seen as an attempt to proselytize. I don’t think we can help it, it’s human nature to ‘speak’ of what moves you to tears or makes you want to take up arms.

And sometimes that is simply the idea of a second chance at love and life.

And sometimes it’s about fleeing to past to escape the consequences of what a species has done to the present…

The season finale is coming up on Terra Nova and I have a bad feeling about it. The bad guys are gonna take over the colony and from hints dropped, more kids are going back to the future to keep their parents in line. I hate things like that, just makes me feel sick. I may tape it and watch it later. I know it’s a plot development that makes it all more personal, but still…

I’d rather watch them fight dinos. Especially Stephen Lang.

And if they kill him off I’m not going to watch the show anymore.

Now, back to agendas…do you have any hidden messages in your writing? Come on, fess up! You sneaking in some life lessons into your books? Ever read a book that you felt pounded a viewpoint on you? Or seen a movie that you left wondering why they bothered with a story?

My confession? Oh, big on the environmental stuff. Down on organized religion. Liberal viewpoints of my characters, I’m all over my books!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Voice and "Making It Pop"



It’s no secret I’m revising.  I sent off my Golden Heart entry and when “whew.”  Like that was the end of it.  Um, yeah.  That’s just the first fifty pages.

Face. Palm.

So, I’m revising.  More.  What feels like endlessly.

Granted, it’s the holidays.  I’m ho-ho-hoing all about, preparing and hiding things in exhaustive, I-have-small-children-who-are-too-smart fashion.  Therefore, I’m not doing as much revising as I’d like.

To break things up (or add to the chaos), I’m enrolled (read: silently lurking) in Louise Edwards’ RWA University class on the myRWA forum.  (If you belong to RWA, get thee to sign up for myRWA.  Lots of good stuff on their new forum set-up and more to come, I hear.)

Anyway, Louise Edwards is a lovely lady who writes contemporary romance about hunky chefs.  Yum.

But before that, she was an editor at Berkley.  She’s talking about what she learned about writing from being an editor.

Her first lesson was about how we must be true to our voice.  She suggested writing in multiple genres to try to find your voice.  She said that editors and agents are first and foremost readers.  They might not always be able to define what’s wrong with a work but they can feel it when they read it, that something’s missing or rings false.

In fact, I’ve heard this twice since I’ve started writing.  My second manuscript, the only one I shopped as my first one is embarrassing to me, garnered a few full requests.  I didn’t get much feedback on one, but the other two said the same thing: I write well but the story didn’t pop. Contact me again when you have something new.

I had no idea what that meant.  Hal and I discussed and I think we ended up thinking it was something to do with the characters or plot holes.

But now, I think it has something to do with voice and truth.

When I read, I can tell if a story has that “thing.”  I can tell if the writer is pulling punches, shying away from emotion or going too far for drama’s sake.  I can tell if it’s authentic or not.  I don’t know if I’ve ever revised with that in mind before.  In fact, I’m not sure if I’ve ever thought about it before.  I’ve never revised as a reader before.

We all hear the clichés.  Write what you love.  Be true to your story.

I’ll add, "Revise like a Reader" to my stash.

How about you?  What advice can you give about being true to your voice?  Have you tried writing in different genres to find your voice?  Any ideas about making a story “pop?”
Sunday, December 4, 2011

Far From Slowing Down with JK Coi

Bo'sun here and I am excited to welcome back one of our favorite Pirate Pals who just happens to be a multi-published, award winning author. JK Coi is celebrating the release or her latest Steampunk novella and gracious enough to hold the celebration aboard The Revenge decks. Here's the blurb for Far From Broken… 

Soldier. Spymaster. Husband.

Colonel Jasper Carlisle was defined by his work until he met his wife. When the prima ballerina swept into his life with her affection, bright laughter and graceful movements, he knew that she was the reason for his existence, and that their love would be forever.

But their world is shattered when Callie is kidnapped and brutally tortured by the foes Jasper has been hunting. Mechanical parts have replaced her legs, her hand, her eye...and possibly her heart. Though she survived, her anger at Jasper consumes her, while Jasper's guilt drives him from the woman he loves. He longs for the chance to show her their love can withstand anything...including her new clockwork parts.

As the holiday season approaches, Jasper realizes he must fight not just for his wife's love and forgiveness...but also her life, as his enemy once again attempts to tear them apart.


Bo'sun: Welcome back to the ship!

JK: Thanks, Terri! It’s always a treat to come on board!  

Bo'sun: You have a novella available today in the Carina anthology A Clockwork Christmas, and as usual with your stories, Far From Broken sounds intricate, intense, and incredibly high concept. Tell us about this story. 

JK: This is the story of a man and woman—a married couple—who have to find a way to overcome the most horrible event of their lives and find out whether they can come out of it together. It’s not an uncommon theme—forgiveness. Even though it might be told in a less common way, since the story takes place in a Steampunk inspired Victorian England.  

Bo'sun: No one can ever accuse you of making this easy on yourself. I can't remember the last time I heard a concept this unique. What is it about Steampunk that draws you to write it? 

JK: I like the possibilities of Steampunk. I like that there are no limits, and that it’s about more than just window dressing for the characters. Since my first foray into writing it I’ve done a lot more research in the Steampunk movement (yes, it’s a movement), which is fascinating. I still don’t think I’ve mastered the true feel of what Steampunk is supposed to be, but I’m going to keep writing until I do!  

Bo'sun: Did this story come first or did you find out about the anthology opportunity and then sit down to create something from scratch? 

JK: I wrote the story specifically for the anthology, and I’m glad I did. The three other authors included in the anthology are so wonderful, I’m truly blessed for the chance to be part of this group and we’ve already formed a tight bond. The others are Stacy Gail (Crime Wave in a Corset), Jenny Schwartz (Wanted: One Scoundrel), and PG Forte (This Winter Heart). 

Bo'sun: Great company! You have a mechanical element in this story. What kind of research did you do in that area? 

JK: I’m lucky that my husband is a scientist and I was able to bounce my ideas off of him to see how believable they would be. I suppose there has to be a level of suspension of disbelief (or else it wouldn’t be Steampunk) but I really hope that no one will be disappointed with the scientific elements in the story.  

Bo'sun: From the blurb of this story, I can't imagine how you kept it novella length. Did you have any trouble keeping it relatively short and were you ever tempted to stretch it to a full length book? 

JK: I could have kept writing about Callie and Jasper forever, but the strength of this book is that it’s nice and tight. In a novella every word counts and I think I made the most of that with this story. 

Now of course, having said that, I realized right away that this couldn’t be the end for my characters, and I’ve just finished their sequel, which I’m calling Broken Promises. Callie and Jasper are sent on a mission by the War Office to find a rogue agent, but along the way they discover a horrible truth that could tear their lives apart again. I sent it off to my editor this week and I’m really hoping that she’ll love it as much as I do.  

Bo'sun: You included Steampunk elements in your novella Iron Seduction (which is awesome!) Do you see more Steampunk in your future? 

JK: I do! As I mentioned, I’ve written a sequel to Far From Broken, and I’m hoping to continue this series for a couple more books. I also have a few other ideas that I’ll try to flesh out when the writing schedule clears up a little bit, but whoooeeee, it’s been busy! 

Bo'sun: Somehow I don't see you slowing down anytime soon. LOL! Now some fun stuff. If you had to have a mechanical body part, what would you want that to be and why? 

JK: I think I’d want those mechanical eyes. “The better to see you with my pretty!” *cackle* I’d peer through everyone’s clothes and giggle when I see grown men wearing spiderman underwear. Wait a minute…that could seriously backfire. There are things I don’t want to see. Hmm, maybe I could have a tommy gun attachment on my mechanical arm. I could rob banks and go all Bonnie and Clyde on my sleepy home town! I’d make the papers and be famous! (and be dead, but maybe then my books would skyrocket in sales *g*.) 

Bo'sun: You're one of the most prolific writers I know so I'm sure you have six or seven stories in the works. What's next from JK COI? 

JK: eek. Prolific? Not sure about that, but I’ll be diving into edits for my YA Fantasy, Greta and the Goblin King soon, and I do have a few things just out in time for the holidays.  

My contemporary erotic romance, BRAZEN GAMES, is available from Ellora’s Cave right now. It’s what I call my “cops and mobsters” story. Jack is the right-hand man to mob boss Sam Moretti. His life is a dangerous place to be, forcing him to always watch his back and never let his guard down. But when it comes to the club’s new dancer, he’s tempted. Very tempted. Trouble is, temptation could very easily expose his secrets and get him—and her—killed. When Moretti confides his suspicions that he has a mole in his operation, he turns to Jack to take care of the problem. For good. Who does Sam suspect? The new dancer…Brazen 

Also, the AGONY/ECSTASY anthology from Berkley Heat and edited by Jane Litte of Dear Author is available December 6! My story CAGED is a part of it, which is So. Darn. Exciting! It’s a painful love story where, in the dark, nothing and everything has changed. 

To celebrate release day, I’d love to offer a copy of FAR FROM BROKEN to a commenter and I’ll also send out a full set of romance trading cards for all of the novellas in the anthology.  

Thanks for having me back on the ship, pirates! It gives me warm fuzzies that I haven’t been banned yet. 

Hugs and rum!

JK Coi



Bo'sun: You heard her, pirates. Get to commenting! What do you enjoy about the Steampunk genre and what would you like to see more of?