Hurricanes devastate the Caribbean

Jefferys' map of the Caribbee Isles
Jefferys’ map of the Caribbee Isles, now known as the Lesser Antilles

As my fans will know, the Pirates of Port Royal series is set in the Caribbean of the seventeenth century. My pirates stay ashore during the well known hurricane season, and I included a storm (albeit a mild one) in The Puritan Pirate.

As the events of the 2017 hurricane season unfolded, I and my family were glued to the TV, avidly searching social media as we watched the storms meander across the sea. And hurricanes do meander. For such a frightening event, they are surprisingly slow.

Harvey.

Irma.

Maria.

At no time in recorded history have three such powerful hurricanes made landfall in such rapid succession. As the years pass and climate change worsens, they will grow in severity and travel further and further north. And they will increasingly make landfall.

Sint Maarten, Barbuda, Anguilla. St Thomas and St John. Dominica, Puerto Rico.

For once in my life, and to my family’s astonishment, my geography knowledge exceeded theirs. I knew these names, these places. Through research, I had come to know and love them. And island by island, the hurricanes proceeded to take them apart.

I have named only a few of the islands that are facing an unprecedented catastrophe, from which it will likely take years to recover. While many of these islands are territories of wealthy nations, they themselves are poor, with scarce resources and, for the most part, aging infrastructure. The press has abounded with stories of various governments’ poor responses in assisting their devastated territories. Now Oxfam, a charity with decades of experience in managing catastrophic disasters, has stepped in.

Oxfam rarely responds to humanitarian emergencies in wealthy countries. But due to government apathy, the situation in Puerto Rico worsens hour by hour. Oxfam has decided to assist in the name of human decency.

Although Puerto Rico’s situation is possibly the most desperate, Oxfam is assisting other island nations as well. If you want to help the citizens of the beautiful Caribbean islands recover from this devastating storm season, you can donate to Oxfam here.

Maps, maps, maps!

I love vintage maps, the fanciful decorations, the creative spelling, the even more creative coastlines! Still, it’s impressive what navigators and mapmakers were able to do with a cross staff, an astrolabe, and bits of string. (Did you know how to calculate latitude wasn’t discovered until the eighteenth century?)

With the release of the second book in the Pirates of Port Royal series, The Penitent Pirate, I decided to create maps of my own based on vintage maps. It was a fascinating labour of love! I made one of the seas around Port Royal and Tortuga, where much of the action of the series takes place, and I did another of the old city of Port Royal. In both maps I marked places of interest in my stories.

Port Royal was destroyed by an earthquake in 1692, and no contemporary map exists. I based my map on an eighteenth century map and used archaeological studies, including the very impressive work of Michael Pawson and David Buisseret to fill in the gaps.

Both maps are included in The Penitent Pirate, but for anyone who wants to be able to zoom in for a better look, I’ve also posted them here. I hope you enjoy poring over them as much as I loved making them!

Jamaica map for the Pirates of Port Royal series
A chart of the seas around the island of Jamaica, showing places of interest, currents, and sailing routes
Port Royal map for the Pirates of Port Royal series
A map of Port Royal on the island of Jamaica, showing the layout of the streets, places of note, and unpatented lots.

The Puritan Pirate – out now!

Available from Loose Id or your favourite ebook store

I’m proud to announce the release of The Puritan Pirate, a historical gay romance.

The Puritan Pirate is my first new novel since 2015, and it’s been a long time coming. I’d like to thank everyone at Loose Id, especially Keren Reed, my (very patient) editor, and artist Valerie Tibbs who created such a beautiful cover.

The Story

The Puritan Pirate is set in the seventeenth century, amongst the buccaneers who lived and caroused in Port Royal.

It’s the story of Perry and Quinn, two men from opposite worlds.

Lieutenant Thomas Peregrine—Perry—was raised a Puritan and joined the navy when he was a boy. Though he knows they are a necessary evil, he has always detested privateers. In his view, they are immoral, greedy, and unpatriotic. But when his ship is posted to Jamaica, he is ordered, to his horror, to serve aboard the Audacious, one of the most feared buccaneer ships in the Caribbean.

Gabriel Quinn, once a slave, is now sailing master of the Audacious. He hates the English for what they did to his native Ireland. Upon first meeting Perry, he detests the young naval lieutenant as much as Perry detests him.

Follow Perry and Quinn as sparks fly, swashes buckle, and romance abounds!

Read an excerpt of The Puritan Pirate here.

M/M Romance Members’ Choice Awards 2016

gr-award-badges_2016_nominee_400

I’m proud to announce I’ve been nominated for several awards by the Goodreads M/M romance readers group!

 

Barn Dance by Jules Radcliffe
A Love’s Pursuit story
Jake and Ash A Summer Pursuit
Love’s Pursuit 1
The Winter Trail cover
Love’s Pursuit 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Love’s Pursuit series has been nominated for All-Time Favorite M/M Series.

A Summer Pursuit has been nominated for All-Time Favorite M/M Romance.

I’ve been nominated as All-Time Favorite M/M Author.

I don’t expect to win as there are so many great books and talented authors out there, but being noiminated is such an honour. Thanks to all my readers!

The Winter Trail – out now!

The Winter Trail, book three of the Love's Pursuit series
The Winter Trail – the second book in the Love’s Pursuit series.

 

I’m proud to announce the reissue of The Winter Trail, published by Loose ID. I’m very grateful to the team at Loose ID and especially Keren Reed, my editor, for helping revamp this second edition. And once again, April Martinez has created a beautiful cover.

The Love’s Pursuit series starts with the story of Ash in Barn Dance, moves to A Summer Pursuit where Jake and Ash meet and fall in love, and then finishes with The Winter Trail. All the stories are stand-alone, and can be read in any order.

In The Winter Trail, Ash and Jake have left New York, and are now living happily in the Cascade Moutains. They rescue Evie from a blizzard, which traps her at their  peaceful homestead, much to her consternation. It’s not long before Jake and Ash realize Evie is another piece in their jigsaw of life. Persuading her of this, however, is another matter.

Behind the scenes

The Winter Trail was the first novel I ever wrote, and as a result it was a little raw. I self-published it, but when Loose Id accepted A Summer Pursuit for publication, I submitted The Winter Trail to them, which they also accepted.

When I revamped A Summer Pursuit, I realized The Winter Trail also needed some changes. I wanted the deeper characters I had created for A Summer Pursuit, and I wanted to change some aspects of the background. The original story is bascially intact, it was just a matter of improving it.

This edition of The Winter Trail is longer, sexier, and I’m much happier with the new ending. Those hanging threads from A Summer Pursuit have a  much more satisfactory resolution now.

I hope all my fans are happy with the result!

If you are interested in more:

Read an excerpt of The Winter Trail here.

Purchase The Winter Trail from Loose Id or your favorite ebook store

 

A Summer Pursuit – out now!

Jake and Ash A Summer Pursuit
A Summer Pursuit

I’m proud to announce the reissue of A Summer Pursuit, published by Loose ID. This second edition is bigger and better than ever, and I’m very grateful to the team at Loose ID and especially Keren Reed, my editor, for helping revamp it. There are more characters, more nineteenth century New York City, and of course, more hot action between Jake and Ash!

How A Summer Pursuit began

A Summer Pursuit started life as a prologue to The Winter Trail. It grew to four  chapters, which I interspersed through The Winter Trail, but it was not terribly satisfying to jump back and forward in time. I pulled it out to write it as a stand-alone short story, but when I got to eight chapters, I realised it was actually another book.

The original novel, published in May 2015, was 41,000 words. It is now 85,000 words, more than double the original length.

The revamp

Rereading the original novel, I thought it would benefit from deeper characterization and much more New York. It was such a pleasure to return to Jake and Ash’s world, and researching the city of 1853 was fascinating and fun.

The New York of 1853 was very different to the New York of today. There was no Central Park or Statue of Liberty, no Times Square or Empire State building. In fact, the tallest buildings were the churches. The streets were only paved up to Forty-Sixth St, and were dirt country roads after that. Bloomingdale was farmland, the Bronx was a village, and public transport around the city was horse-drawn omnibuses that ran on rails.

I particularly liked reading about the Five Points district, the stories of which are related in shocked and theatrical language by the virtuous citizens of the day. While there was no doubt terrible poverty and daily injustices in the Five Points, there was also fun, laughter, and excitement. It’s this side of this district I’ve tried to relate.

Being a wordsmith, I loved immersing myself in nineteenth century slang, which certainly kept me laughing. I found hundreds of terms for going on a drinking spree, being drunk, types of drinks, and vomiting after having drunk too much! As an interesting aside, Benjamin Franklin compiled over two hundred such terms back in 1737.

I can’t say I got everything right, but I certainly had fun trying.

A Summer Pursuit

If you are interested in more:

Read an excerpt of A Summer Pursuit here.

Purchase A Summer Pursuit from Loose ID or your favourite ebook store

The Winter Trail, the continuing story of Jake and Ash, is currently undergoing revision, and will be published soon by Loose ID.

Swearing in history; or, Avaunt, you beslubbering flock-pate!

 Ah, swearing, cursing, abuse. Where would we be without it? I’d probably lose half of my scintillating conversation.

But as writer of historical dirty stories  romances, it’s not always easy. I’m not the kind of writer who likes to use clinical words like penis or vagina, but words like dick haven’t been around that long. Well, they have, but their meaning has changed over the years

For example, the word ‘fuck’ has been around since 1502, according to the OED Historical Thesaurus of English.  But it was nothing more than a vulgar word for, um, fucking until 1874. Telling someone ‘don’t fuck with me’ literally meant ‘don’t have sexual intercourse with me’, which doesn’t have quite the same punchy implication.

Dick didn’t mean penis until the nineteenth century, and even then it had crossover with other slang terms, like detective. I’m sure we’ve all sniggered at vintage writers like Enid Blyton naming characters ‘Dick’. (I had a bit of a chortle recently when I read The Black Moth and Richard’s wife constantly calls him ‘Dickie’—I’m sure it was adorable when it was written, in the 1920s.)

So what’s a poor historical writer to do?

Well, you could ignore it, and let your characters bump dicks and bang pussies with abandon, as well as tell every cocksucker to get fucked or sod off. I love the dialogue in Deadwood and Black Sails where modern curses danced cheek to cheek with ye olde speak.

But I find it really tough to do something I know is so far out of period. I do hate being pedantic sometimes. Not that I’m that pedantic; if the thesaurus tells me a word was first recorded in use at 1720, I might push it back to the mid 1600s. My reasoning is that in the days when language changes took years to spread rather than becoming instant memes, vulgar words were likely to have been in common usage for some time before anyone bothered to write it down. Maybe I’m reaching, but whatever.

And while I’m on the pedantic topic, I’ll segue to something almost related. I find it staggering how few words there were for oral sex prior to the nineteenth century when you compare them to the number of words for shagging. Some historians have hypothesised that oral sex is a relatively modern phenomenon (ie from the nineteenth century). After it fell out of favour with the fall of the Roman Empire, that is. They give various reasons—lack of hygiene being a big one, but I figure if everyone smells as bad as you do, and your street is an open sewer, would you really notice? Another reason given is that oral sex was considered sodomy and therefore a criminal act. I doubt criminality stops anyone from doing anything pleasurable, and I have previously waxed lyrical on the overt and covert existence of sodomy in society for the last two thousand years despite it being criminalised. In any case, whether or not it was rampant among our forebears, I’m not going to deny my characters the awesomeness that is a good spigot-sucking.

Oral sex in the nineteenth century
Darling, I have a yen to go larking in your thatched cottage

One of my favourite sources for historical sexual euphemisms is timeglider, which has a series of timelines showing when vulgar words and phrases for sex etc came into use. These are based on the work of the awesome Jonathon Green, the famed slang lexicographer. Here are links for:

Wads of words for boy bits
Lashings of terms for lady parts
A plethora of phrases for rogering

It’s a fine line between historical accuracy and modern appeal. Use too much modern terminology and phrasing, and you lose the historical feel. Use too little, and a modern audience won’t be able to connect with it. While colourful, ‘Avaunt, you beslubbering flock-pate’ doesn’t quite have the manly impact of ‘fuck off, arsehole’; and ‘Begad, Lizzie, let me diddle your lady-ware and you may ride my rantipole’ may not encourage readers feel that heaven’s in the backseat of Mr Darcy’s barouche.