Trivia, Potatoes, and Caste Systems.

Nerd out with me a bit while I’m writing Three Star Island’s sequel, set in Spanish-held Florida, 1724.
Major plants brought to the Old World from the New by Spain: corn, potatoes, tobacco, tomatoes, cassava, chocolate.
Major plants and animals brought to the New World from the Old: sugarcane, horses, cows, pigs, goats, bananas.
Mestizos were the mixed-race offspring of Spaniards and Native Americans, usually with a Spanish father and Native American mother. The Spanish authorities devised a hierarchical system known as the casta, which graded the entire population according to the amount of Native American blood they possessed, and contained over 120 different grades.
At the very top of the casta system were the peninsulares and the criollos, These were both groups who claimed to be purely European. The penisulares were those who were born in the Iberian peninsula—hence peninsulares. The criollos, from which we get the word creole, were born to European-descended parents in the New World.

Soap Operas in the Desert… a light read.

From what is quite possibly the most gloriously historically trashy book in existence, not because the author wrote trash, but because the subjects in the court records behaved terribly.

Spanish Colonial Women and the Law: Complaints, Lawsuits, and Criminal Behavior. Documents From the Spanish Colonial Archives of New Mexico, 1697-1749. Compiled by Linda Tigges, editor.

I adore stuff like this, especially when I can pretend it’s totally for writing research.

Check out #20, #28, and #29 especially.


Beeswax and Shipwrecks

Ever hear of the Spanish Beeswax Wreck off the coast of Oregon, circa 1693?

From 1565-1815, the Spanish sailed a trade route that took luxury Asian goods bought in Manila across the North Pacific, down the west coast of North America to Acapulco, Mexico.

The galleon Santo Cristo de Burgos, which left Manila in 1693, wrecked off the coast of Oregon during a terrible storm.

Read more about it in this article by Scott Williams.


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A few things have happened since last I blogged.

(I’m so slack at blogging. I apologize. But really, all I had to say for a while was, “Still editing. Still editing. Still editing. Getting ready to submit my MS!)

I submitted my MS. My latest baby manuscript has gone to Soul Mate Publishing to determine if they want it. If not, it’s back to the drawing board. Fingers crossed that they’ll want a paranormal romance set in modern England with shifters and Fae and the Black Shuck.

Also, I got outdoors for a bit!

I went to the VA Harborfest at the beginning of last month and had a blast there, and just recently, I stepped out into nature. Yes. Nature. And I didn’t burst into flames. Here are some of the photos.

Harborfest 2019:


Just out for a walk:

Jeanne de Clisson — Woman Pirate

In the 14th century, a Breton noblewoman by the name of Jeanne de Clisson broke both gender barriers and a lot of heads while seeking revenge for the death of her husband, who had been executed by the order of King Philip VI of France.

Her second husband, Olivier III de Clisson, with whom she had five children, was accused of being a traitor by the French authorities and was executed in 1343 by beheading.

Jeanne promptly sold all of her land and belongings and built her “Black Fleet” of ships, with which she began to harass, harry, and bedevil French ships in the English Channel, earning herself the nickname:

The Lioness of Brittany.

Her ships were painted black with red sails. She allegedly took care of on-board executions herself, often beheading her captives.

She retired after thirteen years, six years after King Philip VI died, and remarried for a third time, living a life of ease until 1359.


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Vacay? OKAY.

I’m extremely excited to be going to England sometime this year to visit my in-laws. I haven’t been in about ten years, and I’m already planning my itinerary.
Much to my husband’s chagrin, it’s all based on what I have written, what I am writing, and what I’ll be writing.
I desperately want to go to the Greenwich Maritime Museum in London. It’s been on my bucket list for ages. I’ll be able to see the tall ships up close and soak in centuries of history.
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I’ll be dragging my poor husband into Suffolk, solely for the fact my latest WIP novel is set in a fictional town not far from the coast in East Anglia. I want to be able to see and feel the things I’ve up until now only been able to learn about via TV, books, or Youtube. I want to touch clunch stone, to smell the fens, to hear people talk about the Black Shuck.
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We’ll also be heading to Hythe, if I can manage it, where there’s an ossuary. OSSUARY. A chapel dedicated to displaying the bones of the dead. I can’t wait.
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They always say “write what you know”. And I’m hoping to know a heck of a lot more at the end of the trip!
Writing tip:
Travel is one of the best gardens for growing plotlines, scenery, character development, and just expanding your experiences with people.
Do it, even if it’s just across your state line or the neighboring province.

Breaks. You need them.

Normally, I don’t like giving writing advice, because every writer is different. We all have different styles and needs and methods. However, I have a piece of writing advice I feel is absolutely pertinent to share, and that’s the importance of taking breaks.

You’ve heard the saying: “Writers should write every single day!” (Implying, of course, if you don’t, you’re either not a writer or you’re doing it wrong.)

No. No. No. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

Writers need breaks just as much as anyone in the workplace needs a weekend, a weight lifter needs a rest day, or a pilot needs time out of the sky.

I’m not necessarily talking a break of two or three weeks, but a day, two days, and if needed, a little more than that is absolutely, fundamentally healthy to maintain good mental health. I often find myself in a position where I come home from work and stare at my laptop thinking, “I should be writing. I should be editing. I should be putting my all into this story.”

And I just can’t.

And that’s okay.

The moment the thing that brings you joy becomes an obligation is the moment you need to step away from it. Otherwise, what’s the point? Otherwise, who are you as a person? Where is your craft, and how are you taking care of yourself?

Trust your instincts. If you’re dreading that walk to the computer/laptop/tablet, don’t do it. Take care of yourself, and you’ll take care of your writing. Take care of your writing, and your writing will take care of you.