clarentine: (Canum)
Whew. Fell off the reporting bandwagon this weekend, didn't I? I'm happy to report, however, that despite a severely bloodied forehead (from banging my head against that damned brick wall) I've managed to rewrite the scene to conform to the new vision of this particular story. Furthermore, I worked my way through the transition between that scene and the next, and the next scene, and am contemplating the one after that, so I count myself accomplished.

I am finding that the transitions in this particular rewrite are really dragging at me. Transitions have never been something I've had to struggle with. I hope I don't have to fight them all the way through this damned book. Keeping my focus on the plot is helping.

I'm now approaching the 100-page point and, not entirely coincidentally, the end of the first act and the first big turning point. That scene is the next one. Hopefully I'll be back later today to report it successfully rewritten!


During one of the evenings when I couldn't get even one word onto the page, I spent some time instead working on worldbuilding. I now have a base map of the area of the peninsula surrounding the city where this novel is taking place and another of the outline of the city. I no longer have Canum riding unnecessarily from his lodgings to the Orators Guildhall, not given the short distance involved.

I will need to be doing research on karst and caves soon, I think.

I also now have coin(s) of the realm, and a better feel for how the economics of the nation work.

This all counts as production, doesn't it? >;-)


And, as if I was not doing enough, I've also signed up for a two-month online course on ships in the Golden Age of Sail. I've already done a lot of research on various aspects of life in those times for Satisfaction, the pirate novel, but it never hurts to do more. Who knows when something I've been assuming will turn out to be one of those stupid things that trips up those in the know when they read the story? If I do have any of those sorts of overlooked assumptions, I want to know about it now. Josh and his compatriots will thank me.
clarentine: (Default)
I did manage finally to finish a couple of more books on an enforced break from beating my head against the plot problems in the current work in progress and herewith are the reviews.

Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker, The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic: Wow. In the previous book review I asked for scholarship. I got it in spades with this book, which took me an unprecedented week+ to work my way through - and even then I really only read about two-thirds of the book, up to the point where the era I'm researching got left behind. I take notes as I read on the bus, or at work, or at the dining room table, on strips of white paper about 8" by 2" (obtained from someone else - free note paper is free note paper, eh, and they fit well in nearly any book), and I have a sheaf of notes ready to be transcribed for this one. If you have any interest in the forces that brought about the settling of the British colonies in the Americas, or the golden age of piracy, or the availability of labor for said settling, this is a terrific resource. With endnotes!

It really was enlightening, let me say, to see the role of the indentured servant (as originally sketchily taught to me in grade school) from the point of view of the person driven to this servitude, rather than that of the former colony which benefitted from their labor and would rather not note how many of them were truly forced to lay the literal groundwork for this state and nation. And to understand the effects of enclosure from both perspectives. And to be given a glimpse - the entire purpose behind reading the book at all - into the mindset of ordinary people of the time and place, so as to extrapolate what went into the thought processes of Josh and his acquaintances.

A great read. Really.

After the Linebaugh/Rediker work came Steven Brust's Dzur - how the hell did I miss this one coming out? I've been waiting, in a sort of back-burner sense, for the book in which Vlad discovers he's procreated, and I missed it! I didn't realize it existed until I went to buy Jhegaala. Ah, well. Now I have both--and I have Vlad's reaction--yes! I'm going to wait on Jhegaala for a little while, however, the better to press onward with the work in progress, at least while it wants to give me progress.
clarentine: (Yellow Pirate ARR)
Catching up on my reading.

Druett, Joan: She Captains: Heroines and Hellions of the Sea. As might be expected, I'm mostly reading for what might be said of the people depicted in my work in progress, Satisfaction, but there's other good stuff here--this is a good account of the ways in which women participated in various sea trades and otherwise supported their families and their husbands. My favorite quote: "To put it baldly, Anne Bonny was a camp follower, while Mary Read, a much more complicated person, was a transvestite seaman-soldier." This book felt a little thin, information-wise, and I skipped entire chapters.

Druett, Joan: Rough Medicine: Surgeons at Sea in the Age of Sail. A more detailed book that the foregoing, with a lot of information that I hadn't bumped up against in the rest of my research for Satisfaction, so note-taking was time well spent. It was also engrossing enough that I found myself taking notes crouched over the book on the bus. Druett made ample and wonderful use of journals kept by actual whalers' surgeons (which limits the information's use somewhat for my purposes, as Josh's ships are not whalers, but I can draw parallels and Druett does some of that, too). Favorite quote, this time taken out of Josiah Smollett's semiautobiographical novel The Adventures of Roderick Random, describing bread where "every biscuit whereof, like a piece of clockwork, moved by its own internal impulse, occasioned by the myriads of insects that dwelt within." Ick. Also noteworthy for the appendix lists comparing the surgeon's sea chest of medicines used by father of sea surgery John Woodall in 1637 and by a whaler's surgeon in 1807.

One of my biggest complaints about these two books is that Druett does not annotate her sources. Perhaps I'm spoiled by Marcus Rediker, but in this case it's something I'd very much appreciate, especially since I'm using the information as support for historical fiction and it would be nice to know what is likely true reportage and what is interpretation.

Next up: Rediker's Many Headed Hydra. God bless InterLibrary Loan!


Jun. 8th, 2008 07:00 pm
clarentine: (Yellow Pirate ARR)
At the suggestion of pirates and Age of Sail expert Marcus Rediker, I have a new list of books to read for further research on the pirate novel currently going by the working title of Satisfaction. Here is where living in a metropolitan area pays off: two of the books recommended by Mr. Rediker are available within my home library system, and another is available in one of the neighboring systems. I have library borrowing privileges in each system (actually, I have borrowing privileges in all four of the local systems), and before the end of the week I expect to have waiting for me Joan Druett's She Captains: Heroines and Hellions of the Sea, Rough Medicine: Surgeons at Sea in the Age of Sail, and Hen Frigates: Wives of Merchant Captains Under Sail.

I still need to find a copy of Rediker's own Many-Headed Hydra, but if I can't lay my hands on it locally there's always Inter Library Loan, which brought me lots of wondrous research material the last time I was hunting books for Satisfaction. (And if it's as good as his Villains of of All Nations and Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, I'll end up buying it as well.)

I suppose this means that I'm resuming work on Josh's story next. ::grin::
clarentine: (Yellow Pirate ARR)
Wow, it's been a while since I last posted. Three weeks without a home computer can certain carry part of the blame for that, and the rest probably goes to the plot conundrum that ate my head and the story I was working on, too.

Good news: I found a new icon. Ain't he cool? *g*

Better news: I have a new computer. It's a MacBook, and it's pretty spiffy. Right now I'm test-driving Office for Mac, but I think it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that I'm going to be buying that software; I'll probably be staying in the business workforce for at least the near future, so it's a good idea to keep up with the software used there. Also, I like Word 2004. The places it's different, it's not so different. The writer in me is excited that all I have to do to get a word count is highlight the text I want to count; the number displays at the bottom of the screen. *g* (And, yeah, not SMF word count, but it'll do for [ profile] novel_in_90 purposes.)

Best news: With the help of some good and clever friends, I've got some idea how to bridge the plot problem and am moving forward again. Three days meeting quota on the word count is a grand thing. Of course, at the end of the week I'm going away yet again, and will not even try to be writing during that time, as this trip is to see and spend time with my packmates and that I cannot count as anything but time well spent. The writing will recommence upon my return.
clarentine: (Default)
A snippet from Satisfaction that I enjoyed:

They had not spoken of Josh’s divided loyalties. On board the ship, crowded in with so many others, there had been no chance to talk, or to do anything else. Josh found the thought of privacy to air their worries a daunting prospect...but the thought of having Mary to himself, away from the pirates, excited him, too.

He cleared his throat. “I should like that.”

She smiled. “I was beginning to wonder.”


The laptop woes continue. My tech guy should return from Atlanta late this week, and if I'm lucky I might be back on my own machine this weekend. I've got my fingers crossed. I have backups for everything except my photos and, while losing them would not be a disaster, I would prefer not to.


Research of late has been limited. I'm still reading Fiametta Rocco's book _The Miraculous Fever Tree_, on the history of the use of cinchona bark to combat malaria, though the time period she's in now is beyond the one I'm working in. It's a well-written book. I have another book requested through interlibrary loan, but it hasn't come in yet. I hope I still need it by the time it gets here.


Sep. 8th, 2007 03:01 pm
clarentine: (Pirtate!)

The draft is at page 407.

Back when I started [ profile] novel_in_90 for a second time (at the beginning of June, I think?), I had stalled out on this novel, Satisfaction, at page 107. The story and the characters persisted in lingering in my brain, however, so when I needed a new project I went ahead and picked it back up. Now here we are, three-plus months later, and I've gained 300 pages and a whole lotta words.

This is what persistence and habit and 750 words a day, minimum, get you. *g*
clarentine: (Pirtate!)
You know what the really cool thing is about [ profile] novel_in_90? Realizing that you've come 100 pages since you last thought about how long the book would be when done and not having thought about that progress in all those days. If I'd been focused on getting that 100 pages written, I'd never have gotten here.

There hasn't been any research of late, but I just hit a spot that's going to require some, so I know what I'm doing this evening. Gotta find a market for the barrels of cinchona bark the pirates just acquired. *g*
clarentine: (Pirtate!)
She walked up the bank, out of the stream, like a nymph, if nymphs had wind-chapped cheeks and callused hands and muscles built by men's labor.

Ah, Mary. You're going to kill me, girl.

Satisfaction is at something like 361 pages SMF, somewhere in the second act, and I'm swimming through the morass of the middle of the book to reach a second turning point I have not identified and the start of the third act. Argh!

It probably didn't help that I was well and truly vacating this past week while visiting with my parents and sister and her kids. Ah, well. I feel better for the downtime but it's mighty hard climbing back up on the horse.

Good thing it's only 750 words a day.

Guess I'd better get working on today's, eh?


I've done lots of research since the last report, mostly relating to Jamaica and its northeastern coast and the water depths thereof. I studied up on bananas and tried to figure out if Hans Sloane would have seen a banana plant and what he'd have thought of it if he had.

Mostly, though, I spent my downtime trying to figure out how to do a revelation of gender scene that isn't totally farcical, and getting inside the head of a woman who'd lived several years under the guise of a man on not one but three ships and in an army unit, too. Mary Read was no shrinking violet, and she knew full well what choice she was making--not out of desperation, either. I want to do her justice. Anne Bonny was easier, once I'd made certain assumptions about her past. Mary has not been easy.


Aug. 4th, 2007 04:33 pm
clarentine: (Default)
July was a hell of a month. So much so, that it's already into August before I could report on July.

There were two personal vacations in there - the first up into the mountains for some camping and hiking, and the second to the beach to stomp around in strangers' gardens. I've mostly made quota for [ profile] novel_in_90, and when I didn't I've caught up.


I've decided, after a little bit of research, that Mary Read was 24 in 1720 when she was tried for piracy. It's as close as I can come, and close enough for my purposes with this novel. It's known she fought with the British army in Flanders before taking ship (for the second time) and sailing to the West Indies, where she eventually became a member of Jack Rackam's crew. The last campaign in Flanders that I can find record of was in 1711. Assuming she had to be at least 15 to have joined the army at that point, that puts her birth date no later than 1696.


Other things researched lately have included ships which might stand in for Rackam's vessel, which I've christened Revenge. I've settled, for the time being, on a sloop called Swift, which was actually built in 1721 but close enough for my purposes. I don't have a schematic that shows Swift's cabin layout, but that's okay; I do have a layout for Sultana, which is about the same length and built about 50 years later than my time period, and that will do.

Sultana's website is here:

I also did some research on rum punch and the making thereof, which is coming in handy today as my characters are in the process of making some.

And did I mention that friends of a friend were kind enough to give me a blow-by-blow of a sailing vessel dealing with an approaching hurricane? Great details. Thank you both!


I keep having people participating in [ profile] novel_in_90 noting with a smile that they are glad they're not characters in my stories. These sorts of observations thrill me; they mean that the characters have caught their attention and the reader is feeling sorry for them, and that sort of identification is exactly what I want.

I've been using the "How do things get worse here?" question to prompt me to keep my eyes on the plot, and it seems to be working. Where I get off track, I figure it out pretty quickly when there isn't anything bad happening, and I can be certain that the story is staying interesting. Not to mention painful, if you're Josiah Eaden. ::grin::
clarentine: (Pirtate!)
1,068 new words, and ticking right along. Haven't made it to the fire, yet, which does not upset me; it's coming. Maybe tomorrow.

Bad things inflicted on protag: Jack f#%king Rackam giving him the stink eye; being treated like a kid; just been told he can't go into Nassau with the rest of the crew.

Coming up: Fire!

Research needed: Fire on board wooden ship; calico fabric; men's fashions ca. 1720.

More pics

May. 30th, 2007 01:58 pm
clarentine: (Default)
(Bah. Flickr only permits three sets for free accounts. This does not help me stay organized.)

Okay. I have finished uploading the rest of the photos from Rock the Boat 2007. There are three sets. (Bah, I say, Flickr. Bah.) One contains all of the shots of Godspeed, and I think the shots of the shallop Explorer ended up in there, too. Another contains the many, many photos I took of Kalmar Nyckel, which is a truly spectacular ship, and whose flag kept playing coy every time I tried to get a shot of the stern gallery's carvings. The third is a combination of the schooner Virginia and the pungy schooner Lady Maryland.

You can find all three here:

While I think that Kalmar Nyckel is gorgeous, I have to say it was Virginia that moved me the most. There was a revolution in ship design between the late 1600s and the late 1700s/early 1800s that is very clear when comparing KN and Virginia; you can see it in the smooth sweep of Virginia's decks, absent any protruding deck to slow the ship in its passage. As useful as those decks and the structures beneath them are (and as many times as I lean on them in the current [ profile] novel_in_90 project, which is now going by the working title of Satisfaction and Revenge), the fact is that after 1680 or so they were not seen much on the swifter ships.

It doesn't hurt that I'm still looking for a model for the two-masted sloop Satisfaction - yes, there's a reason the working title of the novel is what it is - and of all of these ships, Virginia came closest to the sail configuration I think my Satisfaction has to have for the waters she traveled.

(Go on, you naval types, attack the use of sloop to denote this two-masted ship. I know of what I speak. I am never more aware how pedantic I can be than when I am faced with someone else's pedantism. *g* And I will be happy to dance this dance with you, if only to bring light to my own decisions with regard to use of the term here, and in the novel.)

(And isn't it funny that LJ has no built-in mood icon for Belligerent? *g*)


clarentine: (Default)

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