Posts Tagged ‘piracy is the answer’

Pirates! Romance! Adventure! Dragons! Time travel! Possibly also the kitchen sink!

Pirates! Romance! Adventure! Dragons! Time travel! Possibly also the kitchen sink!

Hi-ho, everybody! Smashwords is doing one their intermittent promotions, so for this week only you can sail over there and get the ebook of The Voyage to Ruin for FREE! Just use the coupon code SFREE at checkout.


And if you read it, and you like it, please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads or Facebook or your personal blog or spray-painted on a fence somewhere, or whatever strikes your fancy. It doesn’t have to be long, just a sentence or two about what you thought. Reviews from real live readers are the author’s lifeblood. (Well, that and coffee, I’m pretty sure.)

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kindle-coverIn celebration of the Fourth of July weekend, my pirate adventure fantasy with dragons and airships, The Voyage to Ruin, is free! Light up your sparklers and crack open the delicious beverage of your choice, and sail over to V2R on Smashwords for oodles of nautical adventure.

And remember, word of mouth is how indie authors survive. If you read it, even if you hate it or couldn’t finish it, think about leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads. I’d be deeply obliged to you!

ETA: Thanks to eagle-eyed readers who noticed the link was broken and suggested the fix. It should be working now.

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Now and then I hit a snag in the story that I just can’t get around, and it takes three or four or five or twenty different stabs at it to find the right approach.  One of these snags came up recent-ish-ly; I knew that our heroes would have to rescue Evion’s father out of a dreamworld, but I didn’t know exactly how it was going to work.  What follows is one of the unsuccessful attempts.


Evion led the way up the aft ladder, summoning a light in the cup of his hand; the darkness that had filled his father’s cabin swarmed thickly here as well, so that each upward step seemed to loom out of the void in succession, created for his purpose the moment he needed it.  Well, and who’s to say it wasn’t?  Valdrin’s writings were not entirely clear; only once or twice had he attempted entering another’s mind in this literal fashion, and never a mind under siege, as Evion’s father’s was.

In similar manner, the Pirate Ship Name‘s it took me forever to come up with a name for the ship; clearly, in this draft, I still hadn’t managed it deck appeared as his head cleared the hatchway, dark and utterly still, not a hint of life or movement.  She might have been nothing but a deck, attached to nothing at all, floating on some motionless black ocean, beneath an equally black sky.  Even the smells of the ship were absent, the salt of sea water, the wood and hemp and sailcloth, sailors’ sweat, the faint inescapable stench of the bilge, all missing.  There was no proper word for it, but it was as though his nose were struck blind.

Aine came behind him, hesitantly.  “How,” she asked, in a low voice, “are we supposed to find your father in this?”

Evion turned and cast her an amused look.  “Warriors,” he said.  “Give them a horde of screaming foes and they’re perfectly happy, but stick them in an eerie black void and suddenly they’re nothing but complaints.”

She stepped up to stand beside him, her hand curled round the hilt of her sword.  “It reminds me of one of my dreams,” she said shortly.  Her eyes darted here and there, her body turning to follow, as though she could pierce the darkness with will alone, when even the light he held cast a circle that barely encompassed the two of them.

Evion looked down at his shoes, grey and faded and murky as though underwater.  “Not … one of the nice ones, I take it?”

“There are no nice ones.”

Her jaw was clenched, her gaze fixed in the middle distance.  He stepped nearer and linked his arm with hers, and she jerked with surprise.

“Come on,” he said, and nodded to larboard.  “We just have to keep looking.”

Her expression softened, though it was still not as who should say soft; she released her sword long enough to pat his hand, then gripped the hilt again.  She caught him watching her, and managed a wry half-smile.  “I don’t know what good it will do against dreams,” she said, “but I like to be prepared.”

“Quite reasonable,” he allowed.  “Come, my lady.  Let us go this way.”

“Dear sir,” she responded, with a ghost of a chuckle.  “Lead on.”

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Captain Flynn

Captain Flynn by yours truly

The pirate Flynn Freeborn appeared on the scene during the time of Queen Leonara, the Lioness of Camembert, and many are the disparate and conflicting tales of his origin.  All that can be stated for certain is that he began his piratical career under the tutelage of Cornelius Cid of the Wild Goose, but soon graduated to his own equally ornithological Peregrine, where, in company with the infamous Lucenza di Ladro, he harried merchants and disrupted trade all up and down the coast of the Casean continent.

His consort was defeated in a set-to with a squadron of the Royal Navy, commanded by Commodore Sir Dextrus Lightwave, but the Peregrine sailed on … and promptly vanished out of history.  Or rather, the Peregrine sailed on, but without its captain.  Though pirates are of course a naturally superstitious lot, prone to exaggeration and outright lies, every man aboard swore that Captain Flynn vanished from out of his own sleeping cabin, and that it was the vengeful spirit of Lucenza di Ladro herself that dragged him down to hell.


Captain Flynn Freeborn sat with his feet on his sea chest and his boots on the deck, trimming his toenails with a boarding axe.  He hummed in a cheerful baritone as he worked, and the occasional lyrical phrase slipping free revealed that he sang one of those sea shanties of which sailors are so fond—yet not just one sea shanty, but a thematic fusion of all the sea shanties in Captain Flynn’s considerable repertoire, the very apotheosis of all sea shanties:

“Hmm-hmmm drunken sailor … rant and roar hmm-hmmm … drink up, me hearties, yo ho!”

He reflected as the nail parings fell down to the deck on the keen, almost unparalleled pleasure, so often unappreciated, of neat, trim toenails—a pleasure, alas, that many of his men did not share with their captain.  Why, there was many a salt on the Peregrine (an otherwise taut ship—or as taut as one of its kind, with such a captain, could be) with horny old growths covering his toes, yellowing carapaces as tough as rhinoceros hide and as long as the tusks of an oliphant.  Yet they skittered up and down the masts never batting an eye—or breaking a toe—and padded about the deck barefoot, unabashed by their lack of pedicurial hygiene.  It was not a thing he could easily understand.

The boarding axe, honed to a razor’s sharpness, shaved off the last crescent of nail.  Captain Flynn, well satisfied, leaped to his feet, thrust the weapon through his belt, and bellowed out in a voice that would have put the mightiest lungs on the stages of Parmigiana to shame, “O where are me boots, me noggin, noggin boots?”  The answer, of course, was “on the deck, right where you left them,” but Flynn preferred the less accurate but lyrically more appropriate, “All gone for beer and tobacco!”

He continued to sing in a roar that could have been heard at the foretop in a howling hurricane as he pulled on the aforementioned footgear, and would have gone on to wonder about not only his boots but his shirt and his bed had not an even louder shout, hoarse and irritable, overridden him.  Extracted from the sailors’ cant and obscenity, the gist of the message was this:

“The First Mate’s compliments, sir, and would you kindly belay that atonal howling and come up on deck?”


The Voyage to Ruin, volume one of The Sky Sailors, is available in a variety of formats in a variety of places: in Kindle format at Amazon, in other electronic formats at Smashwords, and, for the traditionalist, in dead-tree format at Lulu.com.

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Captain Zeal by Ysa @ deviantArt

Captain Zeal by Ysa @ deviantArt

The youngest son of a well-to-do merchant, Captain Zeal was wild for the sea from an early age, and eagerly soaked up the after-supper tales of the sea captains who did business with his father.  The Royal Navy might seem an odd career choice for one like Zeal, but between acquaintances of acquaintances and his father’s money, he was able to get a berth as midshipman aboard that creaking old tub the Phaon, bound for the knacker’s yard after one last expeditionary voyage, which would have put paid to young Zeal’s naval dreams before they were well begun, had he not distinguished himself in a pitched battle with Errisian smugglers, and also shot a polar bear.

After Phaon, Zeal duly moved up the ladder of promotion; when a new pirate threat against Camembert’s trade emerged in the form of the flying ship Eschaton, the Admiralty in its wisdom sent the new-minted Captain Zeal in the antique frigate Kraken to see what he could do.  The Kraken was sunk, but the Admiralty was so impressed with the young captain’s, well, zeal, that they gave him a second chance in the form of the beautiful new-built 32-gun frigate Circe.


The two ships came together not with a gentle kiss, but with a horrible rending crunch, and the pirates came swarming aboard.  But the Krakens were waiting for them, and on the deck there was smoke and blood and confusion as the battle raged, and the Kraken and Eschaton each tried to batter the other into submission.

“Capture the leaders if you can!” Zeal hollered over the din, ducking the sabre-swipe of an ear-ringed rogue and stabbing him through the middle.  All around him was the smoke and chaos of battle, and the deck was awash with blood.  His men were fighting and dying on all sides of him—and his boys, too.  He saw Mr Childe fall, savaged by a pirate’s boarding pike, but he had no time to react, lest his own life be lost.

But somehow, amidst the thunder of cannon and the crack of sharpshooters in the tops, the clangour of steel on steel and the shrieking of the wounded, amidst the arid scent of gunpowder and the tangy reek of blood, amidst the infernal raging anarchy, the battle was thinning.  Most of the barbarous figures on board the Kraken were no longer moving, and on the mizzenmast of the Eschaton, the black flag twitched and began to descend.

“She’s striking her colours, sir!” exclaimed Mr. Morrow, who came lurching up out of the smoke, a bloody sabre in his hand.  His coat was slashed, soot-stained and bloody, but there was a light in his dingy eyes that Zeal had never before seen.

“So she is,” the captain agreed, biting his lip and frowning.  It was unlike a pirate to surrender, especially unlike everything he’d heard about the Eschaton.  They would fight until every last one of them was dead, rather than face the (highly theoretical) mercy of Her Majesty’s courts.  Better to die in battle than to hang, after all.

Zeal narrowed his eyes, watching the sea, the ship … awfully quiet on board the Eschaton, there….

“Your glass, Mr Morrow!” he said.


The Voyage to Ruin, volume one of The Sky Sailors, is available in a variety of formats in a variety of places: in Kindle format at Amazon, in other electronic formats at Smashwords, and, for the traditionalist, in dead-tree format at Lulu.com.

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Captain Drake by Jisuk Cho

Captain Drake by Jisuk Cho

The course of young Franceline Drake’s life was plotted for her: after a childhood spent running wild aboard her father’s ships, her mother, a diplomat, sent her to one of the finest finishing schools in Chai, that she might learn “polish and refinement,” and thereafter settle into an appropriate marriage.  Although Drake did learn which fork to use and how to serve tea to an earl, she was vastly more interested in the dark eyes and bright smile of the seafarer Random Chance.  She left Mrs. Emelie Hartdegen’s Ladies’ Seminary behind for the bright lure of the sea–and of ill-gotten plunder, for Random was no merchant seaman, but a pirate.

Clever and fearless, Drake soon rose to captaining her own pirate ship, loving the freedom of the sea, the rebellion of lawlessness, and the bright gleam of ill-gotten gold.  Her exploits, however, soon garnered the attention of the Royal Navy of Camembert, who sent an ambitious young officer to put an end to them for good.


Much later than three bells in the morning watch: the last hardcore party-goers were slumped in doorways and in gutters, and even the stars had gone to sleep.  A young woman walked the dark streets with a light but steady tread, the hem of her magnificent red coat swaying as she went.  She did not skulk in shadows, but strode down the center of the street, and when she reached the puddle of light thrown by one sad and guttering lantern, she paused and turned.

“If it’s my money you’re after,” she called, “then I suggest you seek an easier mark.  And if it’s my honor…”  She paused, smiling.  In her hand was a slim and deadly length of steel.  “Well, that’s long gone, so you might as well save yourself the trouble.”

Rapid footsteps pattered off into the darkness.

“Wise choice,” she called after them, putting the sword away and continuing down the shadowy street. When she came to a certain doorway, down a certain alley, past a certain shop, she paused, knocked thrice, and waited.

And waited.

Her foot tapped against the paving stones.

A panel in the door slid open, and a pair of eyes peered out at her.  “Well?”

“I have goods for sale.  Is Dorobo here?”

The eyes narrowed.  “What sort of goods?”

“I’d prefer not to discuss it while standing out here in the street.  Is he here, or should I find another buyer?”

Eyebrows knitted (and an impressive pair of eyebrows they were, appearing to have been made out of heavy black wire), the person on the other side of the door considered.  And then: “No.  No, I don’t think so.  Dorobo’s not in the market right now.”

The panel slammed shut.


The Voyage to Ruin, volume one of The Sky Sailors, is available in a variety of formats in a variety of places: in Kindle format at Amazon, in other electronic formats at Smashwords, and, for the traditionalist, in dead-tree format at Lulu.com.

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V2R Week Contiues!

frontispiece_newThe Voyage to Ruin is less a novel than an interconnected series of stories, written around 2003 or so, self-published via Lulu in 2006, after a few attempts to interest an agent or conventional publisher failed.  Self-publishing was not as widespread or acceptable in those long-lost days of yore six years ago, and I was slightly embarrased about the whole thing, as well as having absolutely no time for or clue about marketing, and so most of the few copies I sold were bought at the base price by my dad.  (One definite disadvantage to the Lulu model is that their print books are awfully expensive, and most of the people interested in reading my book were students or broke–which amounts to the same thing, really.  Well, most of the people interested in reading in general are either students or broke, so I can’t say that I’m special in that regard.)  In 2009 I looked at some of the critiques I’d received from friends, brushed up the text here and there, and smacked it into a revised “Penultimate Edition,” which I also didn’t market.*

A little while ago I was chatting with a web designer friend, and I don’t even remember how it came up, but we started talking about doing a nifty-keen Kindle version.  Thanks (I believe; I haven’t studied any graphs or anything like that) to electronic reading devices, self-publishing has really taken off, and although it does mean that the reader is basically taking on the job of the editor as well as the consumer, it also means that weird books like mine can sail out into the open market and perhaps be read.

Because, honestly, V2R is weird.  I mentioned that it’s not really a proper novel, but more of a series of stories–which means that all the connecty bits you have in a conventional novel are more or less missing.  It also has three main characters who are very seldom in the same place at the same time, and whose actions are frequently only loosely related.  New characters are introduced as though the reader ought to know who they already are, motivations that might be important are never mentioned, events are alluded to and never explicated, and as for plot, it seems to happen outside the pages of the book while the three main characters sort of meander about following their own ends.

Why would someone write such an odd book?  Mostly for a lark, to be honest; I had the characters knocking around in my head, and I had, at the time, a need to do something fun and slightly ridiculous and not terribly taxing, and my little pirate stories, which I wrote to entertain myself and some of my schoolmates,** certainly fit the bill.

Well, and now, thanks to that web designer friend and his partner, a project that I had mentally classed as “a fun experiment, but ultimately a failure” is back, and my enthusiasm is, as it were, re-kindled.  There might be hope for a sequel yet.

*This timeline, coupled with the Steel Butterfly timeline (ongoing since 2007 1998), is proof that I take a very long time to do things.

**The Art Institue of Dallas, animation, and you’d think that would be enough work to be going on with, but apparently I’m not happy unless I’m completely insane with busy-ness at all times.


The Voyage to Ruin, volume one of The Sky Sailors, is available in a variety of formats in a variety of places: in Kindle format at Amazon, in other electronic formats at Smashwords, and, for the traditionalist, in dead-tree format at Lulu.com.

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