Tag Archives: THe Pirate’s Bastard

Chocolate for Diets? Wonderful News!

I am a chocoholic. I love the stuff: Plan chocolate chips, hot chocolate, even an occasional chocolate brownie will do. Today’s news report that chocolate is indeed gaining more ground as a health food was refreshing. Chocolate is a health food – in it’s purest form, without all the processing, sugary additives, and dark is the best form. That is old news.

Add to it, though, that people who eat reasonable quantities of the stuff can increase their metabolism, and we will soon see a new chocolate diet craze. Who is with me?

Let’s see: it’s 10:30 a.m., and it’s never too early for chocolate. I’m off to the kitchen in search of chocolate before I get back to my latest work in progress. How about you? What’s your favorite kind?

Laura S. Wharton is the author of The Pirate’s Bastard, available from Second Wind Publishing. Learn more about Laura at http://www.laurawhartonbooks.com.

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Different Audiences, Different Appeal

By Laura S. Wharton, author of The Pirate’s Bastard and other titles

The old television show with the two adopted boys living a new fancy life came to mind the other day. “Whatyoutalkingabout?” was the catch phrase of the show. I almost let that phrase slip between my lips in answer to a question about how I could write for adults as well as children.

Different strokes for different folks. In other words, considering an audience’s reading level is key before telling any kind of story. If you’re a parent and you’ve read countless children’s books to your kids at night as I have to my son—a bedtime ritual that creates life-long readers, by the way—and then read yourself to sleep with a book of your own choosing, you can easily see the what I mean. They are all stories. Different, yet the same in many respects.

First, the obvious differences: length, plot complication, pictures (or lack thereof), details, subject matter, and ease of reading all come to mind when I review my son’s bookshelf and the stack of books beside my bed. Yet there are similarities. There are a few central characters, there’s a plot, there’s an arc of action and resolution, and in many of the books we read in this house, there’s an element of humor.

If a story contains similar traits, what difference does it make if it’s for children or adults? It just makes sense that a good story is a good story, regardless of the audience.

Read any good children’s books lately? Here are a few what I would call “cross over” books—well written and able to hold the attention of adults as well as advanced children readers. Add to the list as you will. I’d love to hear your suggestions.
1. Ted Bell’s books, Nick of Time and Time Pirate
2. Anthony Horowitz’s masterful spy books, the Alex Rider series
3. Walter R. Brooks’ classics, the Freddy the Pig series
4. Jenny Nimmo’s Charlie Bone series

Learn more about Laura’s newest works at her website, http://www.laurawhartonbooks.com or her blog, http://laurawharton.blogspot.com.

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New Year’s Resolutions By Laura S. Wharton

New Year’s resolutions frequently end up in the waste can (along with the desire to shrink the waistline) not too long after they are made. The one about losing weight lasts as long as the energy to drag oneself to the gym daily typically is the first to go; but there are others.

My resolutions usually include a daily word count for whatever work-in-progress has my attention at a year’s beginning. When I wrote The Pirate’s Bastard, it seemed like it was more of yearly word count – that novel took six years to research and write in the age before Google. (A hearty thank you to all the reference librarians at the N.C. Archives who helped me to locate the information needed for that colonial-era story of the illegitimate son of pirate Stede Bonnet.

My current work-in-progress is a mystery for children. It involves an area I know well, and combines several subjects that I enjoy (sailing, cooking, and bird watching). I’ve been less stringent on the word count given the timing of the project’s start date (November) and pursuant holidays, and as a result, I’ve not gotten as far as I’d hoped I would. With the New Year right around the corner, it’s time to get back to it. I want to finish this one by the end of January. That means I have a lot of work to do – like writing a minimum of 2,000 words a day. That means getting back into my habit of rising early (4:00 typically works for me), and writing for several hours before the family has to wake. That quiet time is critical for me.

Have you made your resolutions for 2012? If you’re a writer, what are your plans for your projects? I’ll wish you luck on yours if you’ll do the same for me. Happy New Year!

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Satisfying the Adrenalin Junkie Within by Laura S. Wharton, author of The Pirate’s Bastard

I prefer romaction stories – a little romance set in a story with a whole lot of action. My first novel, The Pirate’s Bastard, was set in colonial times. A young orphaned boy escapes taunts of neighborhood gangs in Barbados by coming to the New World as a servant to a friendly minister who guides his spiritual growth and nurtures his professional interests. Our hero matures into a fine shipwright, working his way up in the world as he tries to forget about his notorious pirate father’s misdeeds. He falls in love with a young miss, and all seems destined for triumph until his dead father’s first mate comes into his life with a threat of blackmail if our hero doesn’t sail back to Barbados for hidden pirate treasure.

I admit I was heavily under the influence of Inglis Fletcher, an incredible writer from the 1950s who wrote a wonderful series of a dozen 400-page books set in colonial times. She wasn’t well liked by her small-town neighbors because she wrote about their ancestors, but the books are collectors treasure now a-days. I didn’t consider them romance novels either because I had a pre-conceived notion of what a romance novel was: Harlequin formulaic pulp that followed a prescribed path filled with attraction, obsession, tragedy, and triumph, in that order.

So with Inglis Fletcher’s characters firmly in mind, I sat down to write My First Novel. I didn’t set out to write a Romance Novel, but a swashbuckling tale of a young man’s attempt at overcoming his errant father’s legacy. Readers insist the book is a romance, not only between the hero and his lady love, but also between his parents whom he never really knew. He’s had to uncover, layer by layer, who they really were just as lovers discover secrets of each other. In the end, who is to say what a romance really is—or isn’t?

I wrote from a man’s point of view, and also had a lot of fun writing dialog with a pirate’s voice for my favorite bad-boy character of all time, Ignatious Pell, the first mate to pirate Stede Bonnet. I chose a real-life setting in both time and place, visited the ruins of several historic sites and state archives for my research, and wove my fiction with facts for a tidy story. The bulk of the manuscript was written well before the age of the Internet (when dinosaurs roamed the earth), and took me six years to research and write. It wasn’t high literary style, but a story that I needed to write. The finished manuscript was a mere 56,000 words, and it took me four years to land a publishing contract. There was no six-figure advance, only royalties—and believe me, I was ecstatic to see the first royalty check be it ever so small!

In my most recent novel, the heroine learns that love isn’t always what it’s supposed to be, nor are people who they claim they are, either. Set in 1942 in a small coastal North Carolina town, the story includes facets of World War II and its impact on coastal regions, businesses, and inhabitants. Again, I’ve researched fact and mixed it with a strong dose of fiction, creating characters to fit the time and place, pacing my dialog to tease the reader to continue turning pages, and building up a stormy near-finale that questions everything that came before. It is historically accurate in every way possible, except that it’s fiction. My male editor claims he “melted” at many of the passages and dialog conveyed by the male protagonist, so I guess you could say this story is steamy. Since I wasn’t under the influence of another novelist, this is very different than my first attempt at fiction (and a lot better, I admit). It too is a strong potion of romance and action, which I seem to need in my fiction addiction. I confess: I’m an adrenalin junkie.

How do you know if you’re an adrenalin junkie? You’ll notice that the stories you gravitate toward are based in adventure of some sort. You look forward to diving in early and staying up way too late to finish because you’re caught up in the adventure. Look at the incredible success of Diana Gabaldon’s romantic adventure Outlander series. These sorts of books offer a few hours of escape from mundane lives (even if these lives are filled to capacity with activities). Routines and hectic schedules do not an adventure make. So I encourage you to think about romaction as a possible solution to hum-drumness.

Exercise: I submit that all romance books are romaction stories. Let’s see if you agree.

On a piece of paper (or in your computer), make a list of three columns. In column one, write the titles of ten to twenty books you’ve read recently and really enjoyed. This list is going to be important in later chapters, so keep it close by. In column two, categorize the kind of adventure it is—note, this isn’t the genre (cozy murder mystery, historical, young adult, or international intrigue), but an assignment of the adventure in the story, such as “World War I spy meets nurse on the battlefield”. This instantly tells you the adventure’s time period and setting (WWI battlefield). In the last column, identify a romance each story contains (in my example, spy and nurse), and give each romance a score of one to ten where one is “not terribly important to story line” and ten is “this is the story line”. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Now review your list. I bet there’s a variety of adventures and different types of romance on your list. Do you see any common traits? Time periods? Settings? Types of romances? What we’re doing here is identifying the kind of romance story that gets your motor started. This exercise should help point the way to what kind of story you are most familiar with, at least from a reader’s point of view.

Now I’ll ask again: are you an adrenalin junkie? Your list should point you to your answer.

Learn more about Laura and her books at http://www.laurawhartonbooks.com. Connect with her at http://www.LauraWharton.blogspot.com or http://www.twitter.com/LauraSWharton.

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On Butt Glue, Diplomacy, and Lying: Lessons Learned

by Laura S. Wharton, Author of The Pirate’s Bastard and Leaving Lukens

A year has come and gone since my first novel, The Pirate’s Bastard, was launched. The strong reviews of my colonial tale continue to come in, and I’m pleased to say I’ve learned a great deal about book publishing and promotions that I can apply to my World War II “romaction” novel, Leaving Lukens, which is about to be released. (Romaction: a little romance mixed in with a whole lot of action set on the North Carolina coast near New Bern, Oriental, and Ocracoke. And yes, there’s a sailboat involved.)

For instance, I’ve learned that writing a full-length manuscript requires a lot of butt glue. Getting up early nearly every morning takes perseverance, to be sure. But staying seated for my allotted writing time is challenging when there’s laundry to do, breakfast to make, correspondence to send, or one of a dozen other pesky tasks niggling away at my in the mornings. It’s only through the sitting that the writing gets done. The good news is that as a result, the second novel only took six months to write (versus the six years the first one took) – a vast improvement in production scheduling. Now I know when the time comes, completing a third and a fourth won’t be impossible.

I’ve learned that sometimes, diplomacy has a cost. I had the honor of speaking to fourth graders recently at my son’s school – all 60 of them at one time. They are learning about writing (beginning, middle, end), and the teachers felt it might be fun to have an author speak with them. Together we built a wildly ridiculous story about an alien who visits their school and has a really, really bad day. Each child had to help create a twist or turn in the plot (a small “story ball” can be a useful teaching tool for kids and adults), and it was a fun exercise. But when a girl got “stuck” on how to get the alien out of the S.W.A.T. car her neighbor as just put it in, I told her to lie. That’s right. I told a room full of nine-year-olds it was okay to lie – as long as they did it only when they were writing fiction and it helped them get through what some writers call a block, which I don’t believe in, ever. Imagine the look on the principal’s face as he walked into the room just as I was affirming it was okay to lie. The kids loved it. Had I been diplomatic and told them to figure out another way out of a stuck situation, I would have lost the audience. The cost of being brutally honest in this case was the principal’s horrified look and his hasty retreat. (Might just be the last time I’m asked to speak at his school.) On the other hand, my son’s teacher called me early that morning to ask me NOT to mention the title of my first book for fear of offending some child’s parent. Okay. And when the children asked me what the first book was called, I had to say, “I can’t tell you,” but go to the local bookstore and ask. I focused on Leaving Lukens instead. Diplomacy probably cost me a few book sales of The Pirate’s Bastard which can be enjoyed by mature children and adults, but the teacher was happy, so she may invite me back. We’ll see how that goes.

Many lessons made an imprint on me this year, most all of them positive. I’ve learned promoting books is no different than promoting other products that no one really needs. It’s essential to create desire, or fill a perceived need (escape for a few hours), something inherent in marketing any item. I’ve learned how valuable social media can be in making friends and making sales, and not necessarily in that order. And I’ve learned that the dream of being a novelist is alive and well among the young: of the 60 students I spoke to that day, over 30% confessed in sweet thank-you notes that they wanted to be writers someday. That lesson in and of itself was probably the year’s best.

Laura S. Wharton is the author of The Pirate’s Bastard (Second Wind, 2010) and Leaving Lukens. Visit http://www.LauraWhartonBooks.com to learn more about her writing projects or to get your own copies of her historical “romaction” novels.

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The Waiting Game By Laura S. Wharton, author of The Pirate’s Bastard and soon to be released Leaving Lukens

Now that the novel is done, the edits are approved, and the beautiful cover is designed, the Waiting Game begins. I sent out advance review copies of my latest novel, Leaving Lukens, to big name reviewers—Publisher’s Weekly and the American Library Association’s BookList among them—months ahead of the book’s publication date. They require this kind of window to see if a book passes muster, gets assigned a reviewer, and then gets a decent review. In the terms of a game, I made the first move. Now it’s their turn.

And I have to sit on my hands and wait until they move. I can start promoting the book, but a solid review would help move the promotions along. And since the desired outcome of promotions is book sales, which I shouldn’t do before the book’s official publication date arrives in December, it’s challenging to be patient. I have never been criticized for being too patient, so it truly is a challenge to plan my next strategic move.

That said, I still have promotions and signings planned for my first novel, The Pirate’s Bastard, published by Second Wind Publishing. I’ll be at the following events:
 Winston-Salem’s BookMark Festival (September 11)
 Maritime History Council’s annual conference in Wilmington (September 28-30)
 Davie County BookFair (October 1)
 Mt. Airy Regional History Museum, Autumn Leaves Festival (October 14)

If you’re in the area, stop by and say hi! It will make The Waiting Game move along that much quicker if I spend time among friends.

Laura S. Wharton is the author of The Pirate’s Bastard (2010) and the forthcoming novel, Leaving Lukens.

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MacGyver is Alive and Well

Remember the 1980s show, MacGyver? It’s about a top-level agent who gets himself and others he’s sent to rescue out of trouble by rigging whatever is on hand into makeshift solutions. Sometimes he mixes household cleaners to make a bomb. Sometimes, a shiny gum wrapper becomes a fishing lure (that works). Other times, he uses a paperclip and old string to set off a series of distracting events to give himself enough time to escape.

Because of his antics (or the show’s writer’s keen sense of the way things work — one of the writers, by the way, was Henry Winkler of “Fonz” fame) MacGyver’s name has officially become a verb. The meaning of the word is easy to guess. When one MacGyvers something, one is being creative with whatever is on hand to find a solution. In one of my favorite magazines, Latitudes and Attitudes, an interesting article used MacGyvering in the Engine Room as a title for a story about an industrious use of a bike’s inner tube.

One of the characters in my upcoming book, Leaving Lukens, also MacGyvers his own solution to a problem using clockworks. I guess I’m showing my age, but maybe the old television show was influential enough to plant a seed decades ago.

Do you MacGyver?

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The Journey

Journeys are amazing to me. Filled with contradiction, having a destination in mind can be exhilarating, yet the transformation occurring while “away” is subtle. I started thinking more about journeys – those planned and the ones never undertaken – when I friend of mine sent me a copy of The Pirate’s Bastard book review he read in Latitudes and Attitudes, a wonderful magazine for seriously fun-loving sailors. I’m incredibly pleased to have an opportunity to reach this audience, given the nature of the nautical fiction I write. I wish I, too, were still a sailor. I still have fun, just no boat on which to sail at the moment. But I have fond memories of my own sailing days. They drift by occasionally like whiffs of salt air over a rising tide.

Which brings me back to the thought of the journey. In my forthcoming novel, Leaving Lukens, (Fall 2010), the primary character faces a number of journeys with trepidation. Her transformation from being somewhat wimpy to being strong enough to embrace what each journey holds in store is fun to write. Like all good stories, transformation is essential. If everyone remained static, there wouldn’t be any story at all. The lesson for her being offered by different support characters is that she should enjoy the journey as much as the destination. In real life, that’s key as well. Monotony can be challenging; yet it’s in the monotonous that tiny discoveries and slight transformations can occur if we are willing really see. It’s in the paying attention that we learn; and in the learning, the transformation. Here’s to the journey. And here’s to summer breezes filling sails for all of you who still have sailboats.

Laura S. Wharton is the author of The Pirate’s Bastard and the forthcoming historical novel, Leaving Lukens. Visit her website, http://www.laurawhartonbooks.com, for more information.

The Pirate's Bastard featured in Lats and Atts Magazine!

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Most Recent Fiction Releases From Second Wind Publishing

Water Lily by Sherrie Hansen:

Once upon a very long time ago, Jake Sheffield and Michelle Jones graduated from the same high school.

Jake can’t wait to take a trip down memory lane at their 20th class reunion. Being with his old friends is like guest starring in a favorite episode of Cheers. Everybody knows your name. Everybody’s glad you came. 

The last thing Michelle wants to do is dredge up a lot of old memories and relive a part of her past that wasn’t that great in the first place.

Will the murky waters of the past destroy their dreams for the future, or will a water lily rise from the depths and bloom?

Click here to read the first chapter: Water Lily

The Pirate’s Bastard by Laura Wharton:

A rollicking ride through colonial North Carolina and beyond with Edward Marshall, bastard son of infamous pirate Stede Bonnet, as he tries hard to separate his past from his future. But will his father’s former right-hand man ruin it all with blackmail?

Click here to read the first chapter: The Pirate’s Bastard

An Altar by the River by Christine Husom:

A frantic man phones the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department reporting his brother is armed with a large dagger and on his way there, intent to sacrifice himself. Sergeant Corinne Aleckson takes the call, learning the alarming reasons behind the young man’s death wish. When the department investigates, they plunge into the alleged criminal activities of a hidden cult and the disturbing cover-up of an old closed-case shooting death. The cult members have everything to lose and will do whatever it takes to prevent the truth coming to light. But will they find An Altar by the River in time to save the young man?

Click here to read the first chapter: An Altar by the River

Redstone by George Wright:

Everything that mattered to the old man was gone.  One by one he had lost his job. his wife and his health. Then  he took matters into his own hands.

A hidden valley, a lost Indian tribe and a cougar named Kitten led him to an adventurous new life, a life that fulfills his every dream.

As he establishes his kingdom in the mountains, some people call him Sasquatch, some call him crazy. He calls himself Chief of the Ruby Indians.

Click here to read the first chapter: Redstone

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The Pirate’s Bastard by Laura S. Wharton

The Pirate’s Bastard by Laura S. Wharton took six years to research and write. Laura deftly weaves fiction into fact, blurring the lines between the two for this story. It is a rollicking ride through colonial North Carolina and beyond with Edward Marshall, illegitimate son of infamous pirate Stede Bonnet, as he tries hard to separate his past from his future. He’s doing well with his plans, until his father’s former right hand shows up with secrets to tell and blackmail in mind. 

Excerpt:

The rest of the evening Jenkins and Edward got along well. Edward learned that Thaddeus Jenkins, his wife Isabel, and their daughter Sarah moved to Wilmington just a few years earlier from Annapolis, Maryland.  Jenkins was successful in Annapolis as a merchant.  He said that competition from other businesses in town was getting stiff as Annapolis’ popularity grew, so he decided he would do well by being one of the first merchants in Wilmington.  Isabel, he told Edward, was not keen on the idea of moving to “the backwoods,” knowing that Wilmington lacked culture and fashion and the grand parties for which Annapolis was famous.  But she soon grew to like the idea of being one of the grand dames of Wilmington’s burgeoning society, and within a few years, was as busy as ever with activities that helped make the town a more delightful place to live – and a more profitable town for her husband, Jenkins winked.   

Jenkins was not as forthcoming about his daughter as Edward would have hoped over supper, but he did not discourage Edward, either.  By the end of the evening, Edward was at least sure that Sarah was not betrothed to anyone.  He escorted Jenkins back to the wharf and to his schooner.  A dim light could be seen hanging on deck, and one down below glowed through a porthole.  Aboard were two men, one man in a pale shirt and tattered pants working on repairing the torn sail. The other lounged against an oak barrel.  His wide-brimmed hat was tilted on his bowed head, and his arms were crossed over his burley chest.  He offered no help to his companion, and despite his apparent advancing years, his physique was that of a strong man.

“Many thanks to you Edward, for the meal.  We shall set sail with the tide, which the man there tells me is at dawn,” Jenkins pointed to the man who rested against the barrel. “Surely you know the tides here better than I do, so I will expect you to join us early to guide us up the river.”

“I assume your man knows these waters well.  I will be here to offer any assistance I can,” Edward said, bowing slightly.  “King Moore’s plantation is off the main river and the passage is narrow.  It is an easy sail from here.  I will see you at dawn.”

Edward watched Jenkins totter up the wooden ramp to his schooner, and then board with a little help from the man in the wide hat.  Edward then headed back toward home.  From the looks of the man Jenkins suggested was the captain, Edward was more settled in his answer as to why Jenkins thought better to not bring Sarah along.

***

Laura S. Wharton has been a freelance writer since 1990. She has published over 500 magazine feature articles, CD-Roms for the travel industry featuring fictitious characters who help tell the stories of historic coastal cities such as Charleston, New Orleans, St. Augustine, and Savannah, and numerous articles and columns for newspapers. Her debut novel, The Pirate’s Bastard is published by Second Wind Publishing. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and son. Visit her blog,  http://laurawharton.blogspot.com/, for more information. 

Click here to read the first chapter of: The Pirate’s Bastard

Click here to buy: The Pirate’s Bastard  

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