What I’m Reading: The Pirate Hunter

Who doesn’t love a good swashbuckling tale about pirates?

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Pirates have “A merry life, and a short one”according to Bartholomew Roberts, Welsh pirate.

This nonfiction book draws from historical documents, letters, and other resources collected and studied over three years to paint an accurate picture of the life of the notorious Captain Kidd.

Warning: this isn’t the Hollywood version. This is the gritty, raw, real life tale of the Scottish born pirate turned privateer who lived in New York with his wife and daughter, and the men who sailed with him on his ship, appropriately named the Adventure. 

Author Richard Zacks paints a vivid picture of the perilous life these men endured at sea. I felt as if I was watching them gnaw on rock hard biscuits, squint at the horizon for any sign of a sail indicating fresh prey, or rowing below decks. Yes, rowing. Captain Kidd’s ship, a galley,  had oars to help propel the ship when the wind died. It didn’t have a wheel either; instead it had what was known as a “whipstaff” to control the rudder.

Although Captain Kidd  had been a pirate in his younger days, he was technically a privateer when he was hung for piracy. A privateer has a letter from the king or governor(s) saying that he can legally take any ship belonging to an enemy country. Kidd and his men would then receive a share of the spoils instead of splitting it between themselves like pirates. The more ships they captured, the more money they made.

But he didn’t need the money. He had married a rich widow who owned numerous properties, among them 56 Wall Street. So why did he sail off for uncertain treasure, and why was he hung if his misdeeds were legal and endorsed by the government?  You’ll  have to read it to find out.

Some fascinating tidbits:

  • On a ship where the sleeping quarters were not even large enough to hold the entire crew at once, Captain Kidd’s second in command brought twenty books on board with him. My kind of guy!
  • According to the author, pirates of the 17th century didn’t usually fly the black flag, they almost never buried treasure, and their victims rarely walked the plank.
  • Pirates were, however, notorious for swearing, wearing outrageous clothes, raping women and keelhauling men.
  • Captain Kidd had a rival,  an arch nemesis if you will. His name was Robert Culliford, and he, along with several other men, stole Kidd’s first vessel, the Blessed William.  They were pirates together; Kidd went straight, Culliford didn’t.

I would not recommend this book for children or young teens as it is graphic and rather bawdy, but if you want an accurate historical picture of pirates and privateers, this is a captivating read.

Read up, me hearties, yo ho!

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It’s Up to You

I’ve been trying to choose one of my stories to put on the blog, and I can’t. So I’m leaving it up to you, Reader. Below are some “story seeds” and excerpts from stories I’ve been working or wanting to work on. Choose your favorite, tell me why, and I’ll develop one (or more) to put on the blog.

Sara looked into the bright light for several seconds, then closed her eyes. Immediately the commercials began to play. They glitched between a new meal replacement pill flavor, a smiling woman advertising gum you didn’t have to chew, Gryce Industries’ latest air-cycle model, and a few others before the doctor told her to open her eyes.

“Well, I can make adjustments,” he said, “but your lenses will need to be reprogrammed by a specialist.” He consulted her chart downloading to his Class 8 lenses, flipping pages with a few flicks of his right eye.

“Fortunately, this is all covered on your plan, so the procedure shouldn’t cost more than four credits.” He smiled at her reassuringly. “It won’t hurt a bit.”

Sara sank into the hard plastic chair. She’d heard that lie before.

 

 

It is regarded as more of a curiosity rather than a fact that Jedidiah Elias Thurgoode was born on a Friday the thirteenth, just before midnight in the frosty darkness of March. He was a strange child from the beginning, uttering only a perfunctory wail before falling into a solemn silence that would last for the next five and a half years.

His mother died before the midwife could place him in her arms.

His father hung himself in grief.

And so the little lad was sent to live with his next of kin, the ancient Mr. and Mrs. Dowling, who had a quiet little house in a quiet little corner of a quiet little town called Solitude.

 

 

Everyone knows that the Goberarians of Gamruth are stupid, self-important creatures. What they don’t know, is that Goberarians are also terrible cooks, which is why the end of civilization as we know, sorry, knew it, was caused by a cheese sandwich.

 

 

Thomas woke, bleary-eyed, with a head full of fog and cobwebs. The fire had gone down. He rose, stiff,  from underneath his bearskin and fed an armful of sticks from his woodpile to the sputtering flames. As the fire crackled back to life, the sparks illuminated the half finished paintings on the cave wall. Thomas had a vague memory of painting them. They were important. Somehow. 

The paintings were pushed out of his thoughts by the loud rumbling in his stomach. Now all he could think about was food. Time to hunt.

The First Ones watched him with satisfaction. Another job well done. No one would ever interpret Thomas’s crude cave paintings, and even if they did, the First Ones would see to it their discovery died with them.

 

Please leave a comment here or on my FaceBook page as to which story you want to read more of and why. Thanks for reading!

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Image via Pixabay.

Found Friday: Egyptian Edition

I love all things Egyptian, with specific regards to ancient Egypt. The notion of dusty mummies and hieroglyphs may not be romantic to you, but I can’t get enough. I even own a copy of The Egyptian Book of the Dead. One of my favorite movies is The Mummy with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. Yes, I realize that movie is not accurate, but a librarian exploring Egypt, raising the dead, and reading while doing it certainly captures the imagination. I hate that they are remaking it, and with Tom Cruise no less.

The found object in today’s post is a postcard. I had to censor it slightly, as it depicts a woman brewing and filtering beer, and some might consider her topless. PhotoGrid_1465090948309

I found the postcard in the book on the left. The back of the postcard reads, “Egyptian Museum-Cairo.” The tray you see in the picture on the right I acquired from an antique shop in Arkansas.

Do you have a fascination with a certain time or place in history? Let me know in the comments or on my Facebook page!

What I’m Reading: Alfred Hitchcock’s Tales to Take Your Breath Away

Friday the 13th? I’m not worried. Monday the 13th? Not that’s something to be frightened of! So what else would I be reading but tales collected by the Master of Suspense himself? Read on, if you dare.CAM00266-2.jpg

Who doesn’t like a good, spine tingling story?

This book consists of many short stories, many of murder most foul (insert evil laughter here). A few, like The Dettweiler Solution are quite humorous, while some, like A Cabin in the Woods are sure to make the hairs on your neck prickle. Still others are historical capers, like The Whitechapel Wantons. Now granted, this book is a collection of stories printed in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine in the 70’s. Some of the stories are riddled with outdated references,  or stereotypical relationships-the nagging wife, the browbeaten husband-but don’t let that get in the way of your enjoyment. I confess, I did skip a few that were too dry for my taste, but overall, this was a good read.

What are you reading this week?

 

Blackout Poetry

Have you ever tried your hand at writing a poem? It’s not easy. Even if you have a set form, like a haiku or a limerick, sometimes the words just won’t come to you. I found a form of poetry that provides all the words-you just have to put them in the right order! It’s called Blackout poetry.

Blackout poetry is fun and fairly easy to do. Have a newspaper lying around, a book you don’t care for, or want to recycle that beloved, crumbling copy of The Hobbit? Using a marker or a pen, you can black out the words you aren’t using, cross them out, or even doodle over them. Some people even use paint. Watch these videos here or here, or read more about how to make your own poem here. Try it for yourself! Below are some examples that I have composed.

 

 

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“Sense in men and women never did exist.”

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Hope lets the almost empty fight on.”

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“He could feel the fire. Her smile was flirtatious; love was ablaze.”   

Movies About Writing

 

If you are watching a movie that is based on a book, the movie will always be better. Always. But what about movies about writing books? Here are some of my favorites.

  1. Finding Forrester.  This movie is about a reclusive writer and the boy who befriends him, or at least draws him out of his shell. Plus, who doesn’t like Sean Connery? I teared up at a few points, earning this movie a solid 8/10.
  2. Miss Potter. Beatrix Potter ( played by Renée Zellweger) struggles to be taken seriously as a female author and artist in a world dominated by men. Heartwarming and heartbreaking, this movie also gets an 8/10.
  3. Dead Poets Society. Ah, Robin Williams at his finest. “O Captain! My Captain!” sends chills down my spine every time. Although not strictly about writing, this movie follows the life of several students and the teacher who challenges the way they look at the world and themselves. One of the few movies I give a 10/10.

I’ll leave you with this quote:

“So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys—to woo women—and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do.” –Dead Poets Society.

Bread and Jam

Hello Reader.

It’s been a while. In the rush and hurly-burly of life in a new house, I’m afraid I’ve neglected to take the time to write. I could blame it on the fact that my washer suddenly stopped functioning mid-cycle, or that my children monopolize too much of my time, or any number of excuses, but that is exactly what they would be: excuses.

Truth be told, I’ve been baking.  My youngest sister and I both bake when we are stressed, and I often bake  or cook to avoid other responsibilities (such as this blog). I have two loaves of bread cooling on a wire rack, and a creamy, strawberry dessert solidifying in the fridge. Yesterday my children and I made fruit gummies and triple berry syrup for homemade, summertime sodas. I had intended on trying my hand at toffee this afternoon, but I left my candy thermometer at my mother’s house, so now I am forced to sit down and write.

Writing, for me, is a private thing. It is a peek inside my head at the (wo)man behind the curtain, the innermost thoughts and functions of an introverted bookworm. I don’t like putting my writing on display for everyone to see. It’s frightening. So I put it off.

I don’t know why.

When I finally do start writing, it feels..transcendent. I can almost hear a symphony orchestra playing Peer Gynt’s Suite no. 1, Op. 46: Morning Mood. I pour all my energy into the piece; angels harmonize and life is good.

But that’s just the first draft, of course. Editing is another story (pun intended). Still, it feels good to put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, and let the words flow.

Meanwhile, I’m going to have a slice of fresh-baked bread, smeared with butter and Daniela’s delicious Saskatoon jam. I wish you all a transcendent weekend.

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Image via Pixabay.