With Rhode Island Rendezvous, Book Three of the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure Series, on the horizon we're offering five copies of book one -- Barbados Bound-- as a give-away through Amazon. To enter the sweepstakes click on the link at the end of the post. We'll also be giving away some Kindle copies soon.
I came aboard with the prostitutes the night before the ship set sail…
Portsmouth, England, 1760. Patricia Kelley, the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy Barbadian sugarcane planter, falls from her imagined place in the world when her absent father unexpectedly dies, leaving her no means of support. Raised in a Wiltshire boarding school far from the plantation where she was born, the sixteen-year-old orphan stows away on a ship bound for Barbados in a brash attempt to claim an unlikely inheritance. Aboard the merchantmanCanopus, under contract with the British Navy to deliver gunpowder to the West Indian forts, young Patricia finds herself pulled between two worlds -- and two identities -- as she charts her own course for survival in the war-torn eighteenth century.
Barbados Bound was first published as Star-Crossed in 2006 by Alfred A. Knopf, and chosen by the New York Public Library to be among the Books for the Teen Age – 2007. The story is basically the same but the author has made minor changes to the manuscript, in some cases replacing words and phrases edited out from Knopf's Young Adult version.
It all started with a ship. On April 14, 1999, I saw in the newspaper a startlingly anachronistic photograph of a three-masted wooden ship under sail. It looked like it had just sailed out of the eighteenth century. Below it, an intriguing advertisement:
Help wanted: Deckhands to man floating museum…a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sail as crew on Endeavour, the replica of Capt. James Cook’s ship that will visit Hawaii in November. Crewmembers sleep in hammocks slung together on the lower deck. They must be prepared to go aloft and work the sails at any time of day in any weather, not suffer from chronic seasickness or fear of heights, and be physically fit. Sailing experience is not essential…
Six months later Bob and I were at the dock in Vancouver, signing ship's articles.
We spent three weeks aboard the Endeavour, as part of the foremast watch, crossing the Northern Pacific Ocean. We learned the names and functions of the hundreds of lines, sails and spars that power the ship; we learned to climb aloft on the ratlines, stepping out on the foot ropes under the yards to make and furl sail. We took turns steering the ship and were responsible for cleaning and maintaining her in eighteenth-century fashion. We slept in hammocks we strung from the deckhead every evening.
The voyage crew, as we green-but-willing sailors were called, bonded quickly, for we were all in it together and we all felt the same swing of emotions -- anxiety, fear, fatigue, exhaustion, sea-sickness, hunger, occasionally resentment – but most of all, exhilaration and awe. For me, those weeks on the Endeavourwere nothing short of a time machine.
When Bob and I disembarked in Kona, Hawaii, I carried with me the seeds for a novel. It would not be about Captain Cook or his extraordinary voyages, but it would begin in the mid-eighteenth century aboard a ship much like the one I had sailed on.
It would take me more than five years to research and write the story born aboard Endeavour. In 2006 Alfred A. Knopf published it under the title Star-Crossed, as a stand-alone, young adult historical novel which the New York Public Library chose it to be among the Books for the Teen Age – 2007. I had not written the story for teen readers per se, but I had written about a teenager, from her narrow and still immature perspective.
BookLife, by Publishers Weekly, is an interesting approach. "Put the marketing power of Publishers Weekly behind your book," blares the headline in their PW Select offer. "For just $149 your book cover and synopsis appear in front of thousands of book-sellers, librarians, agents, publishers, film producers and production companies," they say. Back in 2012, I began an experiment in Indie publishing, predicting that digital books were the way of the future. As it happens, I was wrong. As eminent newspapers like the New York Times have found out, big investment in digital was ill-advised. Print books and newspapers still keep 75% of the market, and always will. But as an experiment it has proved very interesting. As part of my own participation, I started another blog, called Kindle Publishing Hints. It has proved very popular, with thousands of hits and -- most satisfyingly -- over one thousand thank you letters. Apparently it has helped many writers through the technics of formatting, editing, illustrating, and submitting to KDP, and has even coached many through the intricacies of designing and uploading a cover. For me, though, the crunch came when I was to advise about marketing. I promised to do it, but never came through, because it has proved so difficult. Bean-counters have taken advantage of this, by offering marketing at various prices. The cheapest, by far (because it is free) is Draft to Digital, a firm that promotes your book with a range of digital booksellers, such as Kobo, for a commission that is just a fraction of the selling price. Others charge hundreds, or even thousands. So when I came across the offers made by Publishers Weekly, a highly respected marketer and reviewer of new books, I was interested, as the prices of the various options seemed reasonable. First, there is the Book Life Prize. This is an annual competition, where the entry fee is $99 (occasionally reduced to $79 as a special deal). Entry is easy, involving a download of the pdf file of your book, a jpeg of your cover, and the writing of a blurb and so forth. It is very like submitting your book to Kindle Direct Publishing. In return, you get a critique. It is not a review, being terse and formal, with various aspects of the book -- character development, plot development, and so on -- being graded out of ten. It can be very quotable, and you are allowed to quote it, as long as you give Book Life Prize as the source. Worth it? Yes. Good value for money. And then there is the Book Life section of Publisher Weekly. It is called PW Select. According to what they say --
When you pay $149 to participate in PW Select, your book appears in:
- Publishers Weekly's print and digital edition
- the home page of PublishersWeekly.com
- the home page of BookLife.com
- BookLife's weekly email newsletter to 18,000 recipients
- BookLife's Twitter and Facebook channels
Plus you receive:
- a six month digital subscription to Publishers Weekly
- a one year digital subscription to Publishers Weekly's PW Select monthly supplement
- a listing of your book in Publishers Weekly's special announcements database powered by Edelweiss which reaches tens of thousands of booksellers, librarians and reviewers
- a free copy of the Publishers Weekly print issue in which your listing appears
My reaction, after submitting The Money Ship to this process?
It's a con.
The appearance in the PW print and digital was so fleeting I would have missed it if I had blinked.
The listing is almost as brief. You can see it at the head of this post. The only plus is that it is one of the first to be listed.
My advice? Try the Book Life Prize, by all means. It's a new and interesting marketing ploy. Forget PW Select. There are much better ways to promote your book.
In October 2016, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Coast Guard decided to conduct a joint training exercise off the California coast. According to Megan Gannon at LiveScience, previous surveys of the area had indicated the legendary Coast Guard cutter McCulloch might have been sunk there. So, using a specially designed wreck-hunting remote operated vehicle, the team looked for its remains.
They found the skeleton of the ship covered with anemones. But they held off touting the discovery.
Last week, on the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the ship, the agency finally announced that it had discovered the wreck of the ship, reports Linda Wang at the Associated Press. “[W]e decided it would be a fitting tribute to the ship and her crew to wait and make the announcement June 13,” Dan Dewell, a public affairs officer with the Coast Guard, tells Gannon.
According to a Coast Guard press release, the ship has a long and storied history. Commissioned in 1897, when it was built it was the largest cutter in the fleet of the Coast Guard’s predecessor, the U.S. Treasury’s Revenue Cutter Service. According to Gannon, it cost over $200,000, and was armed with four 6-pounder, 3-inch rapid firing guns and one 15-inch torpedo tube.
Those armaments served it well during the Spanish-American War. In 1898, the cutter was part of the U.S. Asiatic Squadron, which destroyed the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay. After the war, the ship was stationed out of San Francisco and patrolled the entire Pacific coast of the U.S. from Mexico to Cape Blanco, Oregon. It even served in Alaska’s Pribilof Islands, where it enforced seal-hunting regulations and served as a floating courthouse for coastal settlements.
With the outbreak of World War I, the Navy took command of the McCulloch. On June 13, 1917, in heavy fog, it collided with the passenger steamship SS Governor. Luckily all of McCulloch's crew was able to escape to the Governor, though one crewman who was injured during the accident died from his injuries a few days later. Wang reports it only took 35 minutes for the ship to sink 300 feet to bottom of the ocean.
Though the decks of the ship are gone, the ROV team was able to positively ID the cutter using images of the vessel published in 1914. Its 11-foot bronze propeller, guns, torpedo tube and boilers were conclusive evidence that the ship was the McCulloch.
“McCulloch and her crew were fine examples of the Coast Guard’s long-standing multi-mission success from a pivotal naval battle with Commodore Dewey, to safety patrols off the coast of California, to protecting fur seals in the Pribilof Islands in Alaska,” Rear Admiral Todd Sokalzuk, commander of the 11th Coast Guard District, says in the press release. “The men and women who crew our newest cutters are inspired by the exploits of great ships and courageous crews like the McCulloch.”
There are no official plans for what to do with the wreck next, but legally it is still property of the U.S. government, and it’s illegal for anyone to disturb the ship—with the exception of the odd sea anemone.
A current article in The Economistposes an interesting question. Could Trump be the star in a tragic drama by Shakespeare?
Apparently, after the astonishing sight of prominent men humiliating themselves in Trump's first "Cabinet" meeting, by fawning over the smug president while his impassive son-in-law oversaw the performance, triggered a tweet from Canada that went viral.
It's straight out of the beginning of King Lear, the tweeter suggested.
For those who have forgotten their Shakespeare, it is a scene where the senile king's daughters (save for one brave abstainer) lavish him with flowery praise to ensure their bits of the kingdom.
It was just like that at the meeting, it seems. As the article comments: 'Vice-President Mike Pence set the tone, confiding that serving a president “who’s keeping his word to the American people” is “the greatest privilege of my life”. 'As Mr Trump clenched his jaw, nodded and threw in an occasional “good job” of encouragement, his cabinet secretaries—who include former governors, retired four-star generals and more than one billionaire—mostly followed suit. They variously reported that his presidency has “thrilled” crime-fighters, excited the world with its “international flair” and inspired “love” in Mississippi. “My hat is off to you!” swooned the energy secretary, Rick Perry, who in 2015 called Mr Trump a “cancer on conservatism”. 'For as long as cameras whirred this surge of praise rolled round the room like a bureaucrats’ Mexican wave, peaking with a testimonial from Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff. Unabashed by speculation that he is to be sacked, Mr Priebus declared: “We thank you for the opportunity and the blessing to serve your agenda.” The verdict of a Twitter-user from Toronto, “This is actually the start of ‘King Lear’,” went viral, pinging around the political internet.
'No secretary quite filled the role of Cordelia, the princess whose principled refusal to flatter King Lear in the opening scene of that tragedy (“I cannot heave/My heart into my mouth”) helps to precipitate her father’s descent into madness and the play’s plunge into eye-gouging, several murders and a small war. A few came close, notably James Mattis, the defence secretary and a thoughtful former four-star Marine general. Rather than fawn, Mr Mattis used his turn to praise troops and to express a core plank of his philosophy: that America maintains potent armed forces so that its diplomats “always negotiate from a position of strength”.
'As Mr Trump basked in congratulations, then hailed himself as the most “active” and productive president since Franklin D. Roosevelt, it was understandable if some recalled Shakespeare’s tragedies. For those works often explore how sycophancy clouds the judgment of great men, especially when pride prevents them from seeing that they are being gulled. As he divides his kingdom between three daughters, Lear confuses flowery words with love. It is fawning that lures Julius Caesar to a fatal ambush in the Capitol, as a conspirator predicts: “But when I tell [Caesar] he hates flatterers,/He says he does, being then most flatterèd.”'
Remarkably, an outdoor performance of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar opened in Central Park, New York, on the very same day as the strange demonstration of forced flattery. Needless to say, Trump's adoring fans did not like it, especially as Caesar had an odd resemblance to the man who calls himself America's leader. Donald Trump jr. waxed furious, and the NEH hastily denied funding the thing.
So, how did Trump himself view the stomach-turning display of craven adoration? Did he take it at face value, considering the lavish praise well-earned? Or did he simply enjoy seeing powerful men prostrate themselves? Is he, in fact, a bully?
Also unanswered is the question of why those powerful men were so willing to publicly humiliate themselves. Were they like Lear's conniving daughters, intent on enriching themselves? Do they see themselves as the future oligarchs of America?
In the nineteenth century any tourist in New Zealand made the trek from Rotorua to see one of the world's marvels -- a system of pink and white terraces created by volcanic activity.
Then, on June 10, 1886, a mountain erupted. A village and its inhabitants were overwhelmed, just like the victims of Pompei. If you go to the museum in Rotorua, you can watch a riveting documentary, complete with sound and bump effects.
And, in the midst of chaos, the pink and white terraces were lost.
It was assumed that they had sunk, gone forever. But now geologists think they just might have found them.
As Alice Guy in the New Zealand Heraldreports: New research has sparked new hope of returning the terraces to public view - 131 years on from the Mt Tarawera eruption -- much to the joy of local iwi, who are descendants of the original victims of the disaster. Hannah Martindescribes the find in greater detail. Using reverse engineering and a translation of the records kept by nineteenth century geologist Dr. Ferdinand von Hochstetter, researchers Rex Bunn and Dr. Sascha Nolden, have plotted the precise locations of the terraces -- and have found that they are buried under tons of rock and soil, instead of beneath the waters of Lake Rotomahana, as previously believed. Nolden, a research librarian, discovered von Hockstetter's notes while curating the geologist's collection at Basel -- and found that they gave detailed coordinates for the terraces, calculated and written down in 1859. Then she and Bunn worked backwards, first of all locating the place the geologist stood when he made his survey, and then following the leads he gave.
Interesting titles to complement a bookstore display for Ivanka Trump's new book, "Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success." Among them: "Children of the Self-Absorbed: A Grown-Up's Guide to Getting Over Narcissistic Parents," "Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed," and "Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life."
The First Daughter isn't having a good retail run. Having made her business selling clothes, shoes, accessories and products targeted at working mums she assumed the natural extension would be to write a book about the steps for working mums to succeed. Unfortunately, since herDadstepped into theOval Officea number of high profile stores like Nordstrom have dropped Ivanka's brand (apparently it wasn't selling) and her book has also proved joke-worthy to the book club crew.
According to The Cut, LibrarianChloé Pascual has taken credit for rearranging this display at a Barnes & Noble in Long Beach, California. “I was acting in my role as a cheeky bookstore customer,” she explained.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is on a flying visit to further relations with New Zealand - but a survey of nearly 40,000 Kiwis suggests they have no confidence in American President Donald Trump and are increasingly looking to China for leadership.
The online survey, conducted by Stuff and Massey University, released on the eve of Tillerson's visit, shows only 15.2 per cent who answered that question would have voted for Trump.
That confirms a Reid Research/Newshub poll last August which showed New Zealand voters rejected Trump's recipe during the run up to the US presidential elections, with an overwhelming majority favouring Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton and only 9 per cent saying they would vote for Trump.
Associate professor Grant Duncan of Massey University
said the survey of 39,644 respondents was a self-selecting online poll and so
it should be treated with caution because it was not scientifically sampled.
However, the make up of the sample - which was heavily
skewed towards men, and greatly under-represented Labour voters - suggested a
weighted sample would likely have been even more unfavourable to Trump and the
survey is quite low on women and low on Labour supporters so I would think this
possibly slightly overstates the support for Trump. He is unelectable in this
Also interestingly, China is now seen as the leader of the free world, something that would have been unthinkable just a few years to go. Granted, the free trade agreement we have with China must make a difference. But, as the report goes on:
"Trumpism must have had something to do with the outcome of the survey. When you put the two things together, Trump's repugnant behaviour and his 'America First' attitude, presumably it had some influence on the result."
Just in time for the four-day free promotion of the first book in The Money Ship saga, a review from Booklife has arrived.
It has a rather odd format, but is satisfying, nonetheless. Plot: This skillfully plotted novel delivers as much historical information as it does story.
Prose: The prose is true to the time period, contains great details, and delivers the flavor and style of the era. The writing keeps the reader in the story, but never in an overly showy fashion.
Originality: This historical maritime adventure is original and engaging. The author's knowledge of sailing, the time period, the South China Sea, and the economics of the day is evident -- and this information is deftly incorporated into the story. Much of the spirit of the time is captured in this intriguing tale.
Character Development: The characters here are very well developed for the most part. The author provides backstory for each main character and follows the characters' evolution over the course of years.