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.

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.


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.


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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