Red over Red

Red over Red

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Author Interview!

Writer Mary Jean Adams has posted an interview with me on her blog, aptly named Mary Jean Adams. In the interview I discuss some of the issues of self-publishing, pros and cons. My thanks to Mary Jean, I appreciate the opportunity to write about some of these issues I have been thinking quite a bit about.

I just got an e-mail from a BBC reporter who wants to do an interview about Ann Bonny and Mary Read. That should be fun. A number of my books were done as audio books by a British company. Amazing how much better one's writing sounds when it is read with a British accent!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Readers Doing it Right!

If you are going to read Fin Gall (and you should read Fin Gall) then reader John Budd demonstrates how to do it correctly. His father, Russ Guibord, of Bristol, Maine gave him a copy to read on a recent trip to Ireland. John sent some pictures of the book in its proper setting....

Here's the book at Kilfenora Cathedral in Kilfenora

And it's truly proper setting, O'Connor's Pub in Doolin, County Clare.
The bloody book gets bought a Guiness and I don't!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Do You Love This Guy, or What?

For some reason I was thinking of this quote. It's one of my favorites, and  every time I read it, it inspires me to drag my sorry butt off the ground and do what needs to be done.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,
or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who
is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives
valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without
error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great
enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best
knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least
fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls
who neither know victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt
April 23, 1910

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Interview With Maritime Author Lincoln Paine

Here's a recent interview with Lincoln Paine, a friend and fellow Maine author. He's talking about his new book The Sea & Civilization, a monumental work that looks at world-wide maritime history from the time that there was such a thing. This is a book that you have to buy at the very least so that people can see it lying around your house and marvel at your erudite reading material.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Oh, Now I Get It...

When we did this Blog Hop, and Helen Hollick who organized it said it was supposed to end on September 21, she meant September 21 of this year!

I thought I had a lot more time than I did...

Okay, that might not be strictly true. I may have had an idea that the Blog Hop was supposed to be over the course of one week. But I didn't get to it. That's the problem with all this social media - how is one supposed to blog/Tweet/Snapchat/Snapple/Twaddle and write books at the same time? At least it's not like the old days, when you had to write with a feather (okay, true confession, I do in fact use a feather for blogging. Maybe that's what's slowing me down...)

Well, if anyone still cares, I'll continue this saga, begun during the Bog Hop, of some of the ships I've worked aboard...

I signed aboard the Golden Hinde II (see below) with the idea that I would be gone for half a year and then return to Hollywood and resume my promising career in the Entertainment Industry (promising to turn me into one of the winos on Hollywood Boulevard, that is). Anyway, I was off on the Hinde for a full year and when I got back to Los Angeles I sold everything and headed off for my next ship. Looked like the career change, which was supposed to be just a reprieve, would be semi-permanent.

Problem was, I didn't have a new ship. But my former Hinde shipmate Lisa had moved to Washington State, and, as a worthy boatswain I once worked with was fond of saying "A woman will drag you further than gunpowder will blow you!" He was right. Though he didn't say "woman." He used another word.

So off to Washington, where they had just completed the replica 18th Century brig Lady Washington in Aberdeen. Lisa and I were in Bellingham, but she ran off to work aboard the ship Edna in the South Pacific (another great story - but hers) so I went to Aberdeen to join the Lady Washington.

Lady Washington

The bad news was, the ship was broke, the town had no idea what to do with her, and they were not hiring anyone. The good news (for me) was, when they had initially rigged her they made a bad choice in the cordage they used, and all her standing rigging from the lower shrouds up, and much of the running gear, would have to be replaced. So they would be hiring folks real soon.

With money from the sale of all my stuff, including my boat, I was able to live in Aberdeen (not an expensive proposition) and volunteer aboard the Washington until they were ready to hire a rigging gang (ah, youth! and it's blessed freedom from obligations!)

Finally (I don't remember when - Spring of 1990? Fall? Hell, I don't remember what year it was last week) they hired on a rigging gang, first under the direction of Jamie White (who is now Director of the Texas Seaport Museum) and then under the able command of C. A. Finger, who supervised a majority of the work. It was a big job. The ship was entirely rigged when we started, so everything had to come down, her rig stripped off entirely until there was nary a rope on her. Then we spent months in the loft, building the new rig and finally setting it all up again.

Whipping a line aboard the Lady Washington

Charlie Finger, who was a great rigger but an ungodly pain in the ass to those in charge, told the Board of Directors, "We can do this job two ways, we can do it quick or we can do it right." Of course, they opted for doing it right. And that's what we did. Under Charlie's direction and through the efforts of some very talented riggers (I don't necessarily put myself in that category) we did a hell of a job. Charlie was a stickler for authenticity and getting it right, but he would also rein us in when we were getting a little carried away. You lose authenticity if you try to be to precise as much as if you are too sloppy, and Charlie would remind us of that with his regular cry of "Hey, we ain't engineering the f**king space shuttle!" I have honestly not seen many 18th century sailing ship replicas better rigged than the Lady Washington. Endeavor is, but there aren't many that can beat Washington.

That rigging job was a great experience. Nothing can teach you better how a ship's rig works than to help build one from scratch. With that done we set out on sea trials and a lot of local sailing, but nothing too exciting. The Gray's Harbor Historical (Hysterical?) Seaport still had a world of financial hurt and they weren't doing much.

Here I am in front of Lady Washington when the rig was done and we had set everything to check the lead of the running gear. And no, I did not just have one shirt and one pair of pants, even though I'm wearing the same ones as in the picture above. I probably owned three shirts at that point in my life.

Not too long after the ship was re-rigged, there commenced a great pissing match/struggle for control of the Seaport by various factions, the usual sort of small town (or big city) BS that happens with organizations such as this. Many of us were soon persona non grati. And that could only mean one thing - off to another ship!

Coming soon - Chapter Three, the Rose!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

One Long Two Short...

Sailing Vessel Making Way in the Fog...

Okay, here we go for Post II of...

When last we saw our unlikely hero (that would be me) he was living aboard a Newport 27 (sailboat) in Marina Del Rey, sick of the Los Angeles scene but unsure what to do next. Then, one fateful morning, he read about the imminent arrival of the replica Golden Hinde II.

Golden Hinde II

Reading about this sailing ship, I realized that this is what I had always wanted to do (notice the subtle transition from third to first person? Writer's Tip #2: Don't do that, it's actually pretty awkward.)

Which leads to Writer's Tip #3: Don't try writing, as I am doing, before your first cup of coffee.

Where the hell was I?

Oh, yeah. So the day the ship comes in I took a long lunch from the TV production company I was working at and went down to see her arrive. Magnificent. What a beautiful ship, coming in with those big topsails set, guns firing. Then I look down on the dock, and there is this beautiful woman dressed in 16th Century sailor garb, her great mop of hair done up in a bandanna, pistol in her belt. (For more on women going to sea - in the bad old days - see Linda Collison's terrific article on her blog) For some reason it had not occurred to me there would be women on the crew. This lovely creature had come in on the support vessel and was standing by to catch dock lines.

Support Ship Sea Surveyor - we loved her as much as we loved the Hinde

Wow! thinks I. And even as I write this, that lovely woman, Lisa, is now making lunch for our four kids on the other side of the house and getting them ready for school. So girls, let this be a lesson to you. Not sure what the lesson is, but let it be a lesson...

Beautiful women, beautiful ship, what's not to like? I didn't even know where the ship was going, but I talked with the owner and he said to come by the next day for an interview. Next morning, early and as bright as I get, I stepped into the office aboard the support ship Sea Surveyor and saw a schedule board on the wall with "Los Angeles" blocked out for a few weeks, then "San Diego" for a month and then "Panama Canal Trip" for two months and I thought Yesssssss!!!

The Hinde was (is) a beautiful ship. She was built by traditional shipwrights in Appledore, England and launched on April 5, 1973 (my eleventh birthday. Coincidence? I think not) She was sailed to San Francisco for the 400th anniversary of Drake's having landed in that area and then no one knew what to do with her. She hung around the Bay Area for a while and then in 1979 she sailed across the Pacific to appear in the TV miniseries Shogun  (you date yourself if you admit to remembering that one). Then she returned to England where she festered in a marina for years until the marina owner, Roddy Coleman, bought her and took her back to the US for a five year tour. That's when I joined her, under the ownership of the notorious Roddy.

Under the heading of "Youth is wasted on the young" I was way to inexperienced to appreciate what a great ship she was, so authentic in every detail. She even smelled the part with copious amounts of pine tar. Despite my lack of square rig experience I was made boatswain a few months after joining. Lisa wanted the job, but I got it. That's when she swore she would marry me and make me pay for the rest of my life.

We sailed from San Diego in October of 1988 and transited the canal. Beautiful as the ship was, she was the slowest vessel and the poorest sailor, with the most unkindly motion at sea of any vessel I have been on. I recall being passed by a massive oil tanker on the approaches to Panama. They radioed over and informed us they were nine days out of Alaska. We told them we were twenty-eight day out of San Diego. Slow boat.

The Hinde in heavy weather in the Gulf of Tehuantepec in Mexico
Finally got into Brownsville, Texas, in December, 1989. My intention had been to sail with the Golden Hinde for six months, get the whole sailing thing out of my blood, and go back to resume my career in Hollywood. Instead, I was gone for a year, and when I did finally return to Los Angeles it was to sell everything I owned, pack up the motorcycle and head off to the next ship.
Me and Lisa aboard the Hinde. She's wearing my shirt. I've know the girl
for a month and a half and already she's stealing my clothes.
The sailing bug was far from cured.
Next post (when I get back from a quick trip to New York): :Lady Washington

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

One Long Blast - Vessel Getting Underway!

Okay, the Nautical Blog Hop is underway and I'm just 12 hours behind! I've been agonizing over what to write, have thought of and rejected a few ideas, in other words I have, as usual, been way over thinking this whole damned thing!

My latest book is Fin Gall about Vikings in early medieval Ireland.

It would make a lot of sense for me to write a blog about Vikings in early medieval Ireland. That way you, dear reader, would be tempted to click over and buy a copy of Fin Gall. Which is my latest book. But I decided not to do that. Instead, I will give away a signed copy of Fin Gall (latest book - did I mention that?) to a randomly selected person who posts a comment on this blog.

(That kind of business thinking, by the way, is the reason that I am in the financial state that I currently am in, and why I must now get up and wash the dinner dishes, rather than simply instructing my French maid to do them.)

Here's how it will work (the give-away, that is). I'll number the comments #1 to whatever, write those numbers on a piece of paper and have my scrupulously honest wife choose one from a hat. Then I'll give a free book to whoever said the most flattering things about me in their comment.

Just kidding. As far as you know.

So I've been agonizing on what to write. I thought about writing an article on the famous naval battle of the War of 1812 between the USS Enterprise and the HMS Boxer, the most significant naval action to take place off the coast of Maine (it ain't much but it's all we got). And the more I thought about it, the more I thought, Boy, does that sound boring!

And kids, here's an important tip for writers - if you think its boring, it's a good bet your readers will, too. Trust me on this, I'm a professional.

Boxer and Enterprise: Not as interesting as you might think...
Actually, the story of Boxer and Enterprise is fascinating, but being the 200th anniversary of the event, I have been talking about it nonstop and I don't think I can muster the energy for more.
And then I thought, why not write about my favorite subject - me!?
Okay I'm not really that egotistical, or at least I would not admit to it. But seeing as this is a Nautical Blog Hop and I've had the good fortune to do some nautical stuff, I thought I would write about some of the ships on which I have sailed.
A little backstory (that's what we writers call all the stuff that happened back before the story started)...
As a kid I always loved ships. Where other kids were into dinosaurs, for me it was always ships. I would spend recesses looking at pictures of ships. In middle school I built a 12 foot skipjack, my first boat.
Me, pre-beard, with my skipjack
Then, in high school, I discovered a) beer and b) girls and that was about it for any other interests. I ended up going to UCLA Film School to be a Big Time Movie Director. One day I was walking across campus where the sailing club had a 12' dingy set up and they were handing out fliers for sailing lessons. I looked at that boat, and it was like the moment in the movies when the clouds open up and a stream of light comes down on the protagonist and heavenly voices sing and you just know a piano is about to drop on his head.
I started sailing with the UCLA Yacht Club and all that passion for the sea awoke from its slumber and I developed a serious sailing habit (should have got into drugs - it would have been cheaper and healthier in the long run) Once I graduated and was making (for me) good money I bought a 27' boat and was living aboard it in Marina Del Rey. Then one day I read an article saying that the Golden Hinde, a replica of Sir Francis Drake's ship from 1577, was sailing in and they were looking for crew. And I thought, Hey, that's what I've always wanted to do!
And my life swirled off in yet another unexpected direction.
The Golden Hinde II - Who could resist?
Coming Next - Adventures on the Golden Hinde II 
Hopefully I have not killed your interest in the nautical Blog Hop, because there are a number of other blogs which actually have real, informative content! Check them out on the right hand side panel of this blog!