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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.

A Little Light Reading

Despite the majority of my blog’s content, my life doesn’t consist solely of nautical-related books, movies, and interests.

But that’s not to say I didn’t get excited when I discovered one of my favorite non-fiction authors, Benerson Little, had yet another gem for me to devour.

PIRATEHUNTING

Little is an amazing authority on pirates, sailing life, and generally anything nautical from the age of sail.

I used his books The Golden Age of Piracy and The Sea Rover’s Practice for my debut novel, Three Star Island, and am much more extensively using it for Three Star’s sequel. If you ever want to get down to the nitty gritty of everything–and I mean everything–regarding the piratical era, this is the way to go.

 

Shucks and Seelies and Folklore!

Last week, I hit a wee milestone.

I finished the first draft of what I hope to be my second published novel.

I’m extremely excited about it, I have to say. Since I was a little girl, I’ve loved reading about English folklore. Fairies, Black Dogs, headless coaches, and screaming skulls. So, I decided to share that love and came up with a little story involving some of those elements.

At the moment, I’m knee-deep in pre-edits, but there will be plenty of spookiness, lore, some Midsummer celebrations, and a Black Shuck, when it’s all said and done.

Oh, and a band of fairly nasty Unseelie Fae and quite a bit of romance.

 

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A Brief (ha ha!) intro to 18th Century Undies

In Three Star Island, Penelope gets stranded in the eighteenth century by way of a time portal that closes behind her and never lets her go home again.

This is a problem, of course, for someone who only brings one change of clothing. Especially when it comes to our modern sensibilities vs. the dress codes of 1721.

And of course, everyone wants to know about underwear, right? Right. So, what would a woman in the early 1700s wear under her dress? Not exactly what you’d think.

The shift was the equivalent to a pair of panties and a bra. One wouldn’t walk out into public in a shift, nor would one entertain guests, of course, or be seen by certain members of the family in it.

SHIFT IT

Beneath that, a proper woman didn’t wear panties as we would today. Panties were only for prostitutes. Why, you say? Well, a “proper” woman would be fully clothed when in mixed company. A prostitute, however, would be in various stages of undress, and therefore a little titillation was necessary. “Panties”, which weren’t quite like the ones we wear today, would have covered up just enough to be exciting.

In fact, doctors actually recommended women stay away from any underwear unless they were in extreme cold, as it was supposedly unhealthy for them.

This didn’t mean that some women didn’t wear “under breeches”, but this was a rare thing, and often frowned upon.

What’s Knot to Like? Sailing Speeds in the 18th Century.

Ever wonder how fast ships sailed in the age of sail? The nautical speed measurement is called a “knot”.

One knot=1.15078 mph. The speed of a ship in the 1700s varied by type, decade in which it was made, the weather, etc, but most in the early 1700s averaged 4-5 knots, although some could get as high as 20 knots.

Therefore, if you had a journey of about six hundred miles, like Penny and Will would have undertaken from the Outer Banks of NC to St. Augustine, Florida (around 650 miles), it would have taken them at the very slowest:

130 hours or about five days.

 

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Nautical Terms and Slang

So many sailing terms have made their way into our everyday speech. Here are a few of my favorites.

(to be in someone’s) Black Book:

Black books have been around for a long time. There was the Black Book of the Exchequer in the late 1100s, which recorded royal revenues, for example. Beginning in the 14th century, a collection of maritime laws and rules for conduct were collected in a compendium called The Black Book of the Admiralty.

The Black Book of the Admiralty listed punishments for offenses.

By the 16th century, black books started to be used to record the names of people who were up for punishment or were liable for censure.

Today, if you’re in someone’s black book, you’re out of favor with them.

(Quite different than to be in a “little black book”… which has amorous connotations.)

Careen:

Today, this word means to lean, sway, or tip to the side, often violently and without control.  However, the original meaning that’s still employed when it comes to ships means to turn a ship on her side in order to clean, caulk, or patch her hull. Often, this was done on a beach — a careenage — where the the tide had gone out and the shore was very steep.

Cranky:

Originally, this word was a bastardization of the Dutch krengd. A “crank” was an unstable, somewhat less-than-seaworthy vessel. Today, of course, it means someone who’s irritable.

Swashbuckler: 

These days, the word means someone who’s a high-seas adventurer, or someone who’s daring, adventurous, a swaggering ruffian who’d just as likely kiss you as steal your rum. Or both.

When the word originated in the 1500’s, however, it was meant for a less-than-stellar, below-average swordsman. There’s a change in tack. (See what I did there?)

Stand Down:

This term is often used today as an order for someone to calm down, chill out, and cease an offensive action, among other meanings.

In sailing terms, it means to go off-duty or relax from a state of readiness.

Or, as Will orders Penny in Three Star Island when she’s trying her hardest to knock his teeth loose, “Stand down, woman!”