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Posts Tagged ‘v2r week’

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.

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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?”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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kindle-coverTo celebrate the re-release of my epic pirate-adventure-fantasy The Voyage to Ruin for electronic formats, I’m throwing V2R week here on Peregrinations!  Every day I’ll post a bit about the book, or the characters, or maunderings about how I came to write it, as well as excerpts and bits of poetry and that kind of thing–and pictures!  For what good is a blog without any pictures or conversations or anything?

First off, an excerpt of the Dylan Thomas poem that inspired the title.  I am not one for poetry most of time, but I wish I’d met Thomas’s poems a lot sooner, as they crash upon the ear with thunderous music, and though grammatically they’re pretty loose, they’re ever so evocative.  It’s like the happy middle ground between e.e. cummings’ nonsense (of which I’m also fond) and T.S. Eliot’s more spare, sere, harsh imagery.  But enough of amateur literary critic hour; let’s have a bit of “Poem on His Birthday.”

He, on the earth of the night, alone
With all the living, prays,
Who knows the rocketing wind will blow
The bones out of the hills,
And the scythed boulders bleed, and the last
Rage shattered waters kick
Masts and fishes to the still quick starts,
Faithlessly unto Him
Who is the light of old
And air shaped Heaven where souls grow wild
As horses in the foam:
Oh, let me midlife mourn by the shrined
And druid herons’ vows
The voyage to ruin I must run,
Dawn ships clouted aground,
Yet, though I cry with tumbledown tongue,
Count my blessings aloud:

Four elements and five
Senses, and man a spirit in love
Tangling through this spun slime
To his nimbus bell cool kingdom come
And the lost, moonshine domes,
And the sea that hides his secret selves
Deep in its black, base bones,
Lulling of spheres in the seashell flesh,
And this last blessing most,

That the closer I move
To death, one man through his sundered hulks,
The louder the sun blooms
And the tusked, ramshackling sea exults;
And every wave of the way
And gale I tackle, the whole world then,
With more triumphant faith
That ever was since the world was said,
Spins its morning of praise,

I hear the bouncing hills
Grow larked and greener at berry brown
Fall and the dew larks sing
Taller this thunderclap spring, and how
More spanned with angles ride
The mansouled fiery islands! Oh,
Holier then their eyes,
And my shining men no more alone
As I sail out to die.

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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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