My Pirate Cruise

I promised a blog post on my Bahamas trip! I promise I didn’t forget. I was waiting on the pictures from the underwater camera to get sent to me. Now that I have those, I can finally share my real sea adventure!

First, before we ever boarded our ship, we stopped by the Pirate Museum in Nassau. Turned out it was closed. SO BUMMED. But I took pictures with all the things outside!



I obviously didn’t get carried away at all.


Anyway, then it was ship time!


This is the Liberty Clipper. I spent a week on this ship, and it was the coolest experience of my life. There’s something about being on the open sea, unable to see land in any direction. It’s beautiful, adventurous, yet also soothing. Sleeping on a ship is like being rocked to sleep every night. I’ve never slept so well.

Here are some pictures of the ship up close. I was excited about even the simplest ship items, like that green gangplank.

The ship fit the twenty-four passengers and eight crew members snugly. The rooms were small, with only about two feet (if that) between the bunks and the wall. And the bathrooms! Picture an airplane bathroom, except there’s also a shower head in there. You close the toilet seat and put this flap down over the toilet paper so it doesn’t get wet. Then you’re good to go.

Trip Activities!

Day 1:

We sailed to Meeks Patch, an island with wild pigs!


They were so cute. We brought slop from the ship to feed them. We even pet them. I guess they’re used to visitors. They didn’t have any problem sleeping while we were watching.

Afterward we played at the beach off the island.

That night I got a picture of the ship at dusk before we returned to sleep for the night.


Day 2:

We stopped at Spanish Wells and drove around the island on golf carts. The crew prepared a scavenger hunt for us, so we had fun driving around and looking at things. There was also this awesome bridge spanning across the two islands. Naturally, we had to jump off into the gorgeous water below. Here’s my mom and cousin getting used to the water!


Afterward, we had lunch on the beach. Then I decided to go snorkeling. There wasn’t a reef or anything, but the water was so clear—it was just fascinating to be able to see so far. I’m from Oregon, and the ocean water there is NOT clear. Or warm. Snorkeling turned out to be totally worth it. First I found the biggest hermit crab I’ve ever seen. The shell was a foot long, one of those spiral snail shells. I almost picked it up to take to shore before I noticed the legs sticking out it. Just enormous! Shortly after that, I spotted a stingray half buried in the sand. I couldn’t tell it was a ray at first because its tail and most of its body were hidden. Sadly, I didn’t have the underwater camera with me this time. So no pictures of those.

Day 3:

Snorkeling day! We went exploring first around a reef. And there were fish to see!


And then later in the day was my favorite part of the trip. We went snorkeling around a sunken ship! It wasn’t an ancient ship—it was made of metal, but it was still amazing. All these fish were living in it! It was just incredible. Here are some pictures of what I saw!

Ship above water

First, here is what you can see of the sunken ship ABOVE the water.

Me on the Bow

Here is me getting the nerve to jump off the bow of the ship so I can investigate the sunken ship.

Sunken Ship

And here is the ship below the water!

Time to Dive

I dove deeper to explore!

So many fish around the ship!

There were just so many fish!

Cool fishCool fish 2

Close up of FishClose up of fish 1Close up of fish 2Close up of fish 3


And watching over them all was  a barracuda.

One Barracuda.JPG


The Barracuda

They are scary looking fish. I couldn’t fully capture them in these photos, but for those who have seen Finding Nemo, the barracuda is the fish at the beginning of the movie that eats all the eggs. SCARY.

But so cool to see.

Day 4:

We sailed to Hatchet Bay, where we went cave exploring. I’ve been in caves before, but I’ve never seen anything like this. The stalactites and stalagmites were enormous!



Naturally the adults aboard the cruise had jokes to make about this next picture.


The best part of the caves was this section that went deeper below the surface. You had to take a rickety ladder to get down. And the cave was filled with water! It went up to my waist in the deepest section, and I waded through it. It was like something right out of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag. Only my aunt was brave enough to do it with me. I have a video of this section, but my blog won’t let me show videos! So I’ve posted it to my Instagram. Click HERE to view!


After the cave, we went on a short hike to a cliff at the edge of the island overlooking the ocean.



Naturally, I had to take a selfie.


From up here, we saw a sea turtle (not pictured), which was really cool. One of the other passengers found a piece of fishing line that disappeared under the water. He pulled on it, and a clump a seaweed came up with it. A bunch of needlefish came racing after it. If you squint, you can see one this this picture—top left corner. I was in such a hurry to catch the image, my finger got in the way.


That evening, we sailed into this lagoon-shaped port to dock the ship. The gap to get into the docking area was no more than thirty feet wider than the ship itself. So there was about 15 feet of clearance on either side. It was fun watching the captain sail us through.


Day 5: The Glass Window and moon pools.

It turns out the moon pools aren’t as exciting as the tide pools we have in Oregon. There wasn’t actually anything alive to see in them, but they were still pretty. The waves were violent, constantly crashing into the hollowed out rocks.


The Glass Window is this section where only a thin strip of island separates the Bahamian water from the Atlantic Ocean. It’s incredible, because on the Bahamian side, the water is smooth and gentle, and on the Atlantic side, it’s violent with constant waves crashing into the island.

Day 6:

Sailing back home! Why yes, I did help raise the sails. (I’m in purple.)



Day 7

I felt spoiled. I was the only one who got to climb the mast. Granted, that was because everyone else was too chicken to climb. It was only 60 feet. DSCN1515.JPG



I kept an eye out for pirates.


The boat looks different from up there.


I tried taking the ultimate selfie, but mostly it’s just a closeup of my face.


Thankfully Kyle (the crew member who took me up top) helped me out. Yeah, don’t ask where he was standing to get that shot. There were NO handholds.

All in all, I’ve decided that a pirate’s life is for me—aside from the pillaging and plundering part. I seriously had a blast and could have stayed on that ship for months. It also didn’t hurt that I was served three delicious meals a day that I didn’t have to cook and could drink as much coke as I wanted.

If anyone wants more of a hands-on experience rather than just lounging on a big cruise ship, I highly recommend Wind Jammer Cruises! I’m dying to go again!

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The New Cover

There are various reasons why covers change in publishing, but it happens more often than you might think. I’m happy to say that I think my cover has changed for the better! I absolutely love the new color scheme my publisher decided on. I think the new cover fits the tone of the book better, and I’m excited to hear what everyone thinks about it! Also, I absolutely adore the blurb Anna Banks gave (you can see that at the top of the cover shown below).

Don’t forget you can now read the first chapter of DAUGHTER OF THE PIRATE KING here.


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The Makings of a Cover

I’m so excited to announce that DAUGHTER OF THE PIRATE KING has a cover. Here it is!


Artist Credit: Jen Wang; Design Credit: Liz Dresner

I thought it would be fun to talk about how the cover came to be, and I received permission from the good folks over at Feiwel and Friends to share some earlier versions.

I had no idea how long and complicated the process of creating and choosing a cover was until it was happening to my book. So many people have a say on the cover, such as the sales and marketing teams, design team, the publisher, etc. Surprisingly, the author is actually not one of the people who has a say on the cover. We may be asked for an initial idea of what styles we like or on our opinion between two different options. But the general direction the cover goes in? Not something we’re a part of, which makes sense if you think about it. Writers write. We’re not usually illustrators or design specialists, and we’re not as aware of the cover market as the professionals.

I’m so thankful for how hard the Feiwel and Friends team worked on this cover. It was an especially long process for my cover in particular, I’m told.

At first, they tried a cover more realistic with a photograph of a girl dressed as a pirate on a ship. Think of something reminiscent of Robin LaFevers’ GRAVE MERCY, but with pirates instead of assassins.

Grave Mercy

I believe it was decided that cover didn’t quite stand apart from other books on the shelves, (which isn’t to say LaFevers’ books don’t stand apart, just that they came first) which I’m sure is usually the reason why original covers are discarded. After this, they decided to try a title heavy cover. Something decorative. Like EVER THE HUNTED. I’m told all the attempts at this kind of cover (and I believe there were around twelve different mock ups) also weren’t working. (By the way, I love Erin’s cover. Isn’t it gorgeous?)

ever the hunted

After that, the team wanted to try an illustrated cover. There’s an illustrated trend happening with adult covers, and the team wanted to try fitting DAUGHTER OF THE PIRATE KING in with those. (Such as the covers of UPROOTED or A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC.)

Uprooted_cover_pictureA Darker Shade of Magic

While these are decidedly dark, the team really wanted a light cover, something that would hopefully stand out among all the dark, grittier covers in YA (don’t get me wrong, though, I love dark and gritty covers). Now this whole process happened without me seeing a single cover option. There’s little point in showing the author anything when it could be shot down by the people in sales or marketing or design. So the very first time I saw a cover for my book was when these two images showed up in my inbox (there was a little confusion on whether or not “the” was in the title, but we got that fixed right away):


I was entirely surprised. I hadn’t pictured anything like this at all, and when I learned just how much work F&F had already put into the covers, I was blown away. It’s amazing to know that other people have worked so hard on your book. I expressed my preference for the blue color scheme rather than the purple and yellow. I also preferred the corset to the pirate coat.

F&F also wanted to try a more muted look so the illustration wouldn’t look too cutesy or lean toward middle grade. DotPK is an upper YA, and it’s an action adventure/fantasy/romance with pirates. Not exactly a cutesy book. So they altered it to this:


I loved the new color scheme, and the picture above is what got put on the ARCs (advance reader copies). The colors looked even better when they were printed, and it was incredible getting to hold an actual book in my hand.


Even so, the cover wasn’t final. They wanted to make some more changes. Yesterday, I was shown two new covers, the one below and another that looked exactly the same except without the blood. (If you look closely, you can see more texture was added. Particularly to the sword and Alosa’s pants.)


I like the addition of blood on the map in the background. This is, after all, a pirate book, and swashbuckling is a must. So this is the cover we went with!

I’m sure the journey is different for every author, but there’s a slight look into the makings of a cover. I’d love to hear thoughts and questions below!



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Real Female Pirates, Part 3

It’s been far too long since I’ve done a post on real life female pirates. So far, you can find info about Ching Shih, our Chinese prostitute turned pirate here, and Grace O’Malley, the Irish pirate queen here. Today’s post features Jeanne de Clisson, a French aristocrat who turned pirate as a means of obtaining revenge.

Jeanne de Clisson

Ancient Origins Photo Credit

Jeanne was born in 1300 to a wealthy family and had a proper aristocratic upbringing. She was married three times in her life. She married her first husband when she was twelve and had two sons with him. He died fourteen years later, and Jeanne later married Olivier de Clisson.

At this time in history, the War of Breton Succession was occurring, in which the French and English were fighting for control of the Duchy of Brittany after the duke had died without a male heir. Charles de Blois sought to claim it for the French, and John de Montfort, for the English. Naturally, the Clissons sided with the French. Jeanne’s husband served as a military commander during the fighting that ensued.

Though there is no proof that Olivier was anything but loyal, the French suspected him of aiding the English, and King Philip VI of France had Olivier tried with treason. He was beheaded, and his body was displayed publicly.

Jeanne was furious. She sold all of her lands, purchased several warships, rallied herself some loyal supporters, and started attacking French ships. To invoke more fear, she had her ships painted black and her sails dyed red. After capturing a ship, she’d kill everyone on board, save a couple of witnesses who could report back to King Philip. She wanted the king to know exactly who was causing him so much trouble. When she captured any French noblemen, she personally beheaded them. They called her the Lioness of Brittany for her brutality.

Jeanne kept at it successfully for thirteen years, even after the king had died. She fell in love and married her third husband, an English nobleman; retired as a pirate; and lived happily ever after. In a castle.

Wikipedia—War of Breton Succession

Wikipedia—Jeanne de Clisson

Ancient Origins—Lioness of Brittany

Fact Fiend—Story of Jeanne de Clisson



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Interview with Nicole Castroman!

I interviewed fellow YA pirate author, Nicole Castroman, regarding her debut novel, BLACKHEARTS.



Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.

Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There’s just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents’ deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she’s stuck in England?

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.

BLACKHEARTS is a Blackbeard origin story. It’s what Nicole likes to call PRE-PIRATE, which means it’s more Poldark than Pirates of the Caribbean.

And now for the interview!

Tricia: Pirates are the best! What led you to writing about Blackbeard and, more specifically, his pre-pirate life?

Nicole: My family planned a trip to Charleston, SC in August of 2012. I started doing some research and learned that Blackbeard had held the entire city hostage. After more research, I learned that only the last two years of Blackbeard’s life are documented. So I asked myself the question, what would cause him to leave everything he knew behind and become one of the most notorious pirates to sail the seas?

Tricia: I also understand that there’s a girl in the story who is just as much of a main character as Blackbeard. Where did her character come from, and how was the process of entangling her story with Edward Teach’s?

Nicole: Anne came to me almost immediately. I could picture her in my mind. I knew she needed to be strong and fearless, someone who could hold her own against Teach. Blackbeard had quite a powerful presence, and she couldn’t fade into the background when he was around. I also knew that she would be the reason he turned to piracy. It’s so fun for me to see how readers are reacting to her. She’s fierce, but feminine.

Tricia: Could you tell us about finding yourself as a writer? I believe you didn’t start out writing historical fiction or third person. How did you come to understand that was your true calling? And do you intend to stick with it or branch out in the future?

Nicole: I initially wrote contemporary. I signed with an agent, but that manuscript never sold. I wrote two more, but by that time, both my agent and I knew we weren’t the right fit for each other. Publishing is a business, and sometimes authors and agents realize that the working relationship isn’t working. So we parted ways, and that was when my husband said, “Let’s go to Charleston for a vacation.” I think he did it to take my mind off of being unagented again, and I will forever be grateful to him for that.

I’m a history buff, and so I did my research about Charleston and voila. The seed for BLACKHEARTS was planted. Because I wanted to make the story sound historical, I changed the POV to third person. I didn’t want my story to sound like a modern teen in 1697 England. I wanted it to read like a historical novel.

I have some ideas for other stories. I’m always open to new ideas and would never say never about branching out into other genres.

Tricia: What’s your day-to-day writing process like? Do you write every day in the same place at the same time? Need music playing or a specific snack on hand?

Nicole: I do write in the same place every day. It’s in my study. I can’t have any music playing, but I can handle interruptions. I have two children, and ever since I’ve been writing, I’ve learned to answer a question or get them something and then get right back to the story. As far as snacking, I’m a fan of smokehouse almonds. I will take salty over sweet any day.

Lightning Round!

If I weren’t a writer, I’d be: In marketing or publicity somehow.

Favorite celebrity: Aidan Turner

Favorite Disney movie: I’m really enjoying the live action Disney movies, like Maleficent and Cinderella.

Favorite fictional character: Atticus Finch

Movie I’ve seen the most times: Tie between The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Bourne series.

The most delicious cereal is: I don’t eat cereal. Breakfast isn’t my favorite.

About the author:

Nicole Pic

Nicole has a twin sister who can read her mind and finish her sentences. When she was 13, Nicole went to Europe, and it changed her life. She loves learning about different people, languages, and cultures. She speaks fluent German, knows enough Spanish to get herself into trouble, and can still read the Cyrillic alphabet from when she studied Russian. She received her B.A. from Brigham Young University and has lived in Germany, Austria, and two different places called Georgia. She resides in the state of Georgia with her handsome husband and two beautiful children who continue to amaze her.

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Real Female Pirates, Part 2


Grace O'Malley

Click picture for photo credit


Grace O’Malley was the daughter of the O’Malley Clan’s chieftain, whose holdings were located off the west coast of Ireland in the 16th century.

Grace wanted to be on the sea from the time she was little. She would beg her father to take her with him when he went trading overseas. But of course, Grace was told that a ship was no place for a girl. Grace was determined to prove that she could do what it took to be a sailor, so she cut her hair short and dressed as a boy. After much pushing, Grace finally convinced her father to let her accompany him overseas.

Grace was a hard worker, and she did everything she could to learn about the sea. She married twice. Both were matches that initially gained her more power and holdings, particularly near the sea. Her first husband died in battle, and she proposed marriage to her second in order to create a more impressive stand against the invading English.

Upon the death of her father, Grace inherited the family trading business. She taxed anyone who wanted to fish off her land or sail through her waters. If anyone refused to pay, Grace and her men would help themselves to whatever they wanted. They pillaged ships and castles, kidnapped notable people for ransom, and retaliated against any who offered her insult.

She caused so much trouble that the English tried to put a stop to her exploits, but Grace beat their initial attacks. She was an impressive strategist, which is clear from the way she negotiated her own advantageous marriage and convinced her father to let her engage in traditionally boy activities, but she also must have been an exceptional fighter, since she literally led her men into battle again and again.

Alas, Grace’s influence and power didn’t last. As England’s power in Ireland continued to grow, Grace’s power lessened. It is unclear when and how she died, but to this day, her descendants celebrate her life at the Westport House Estate, which was built upon the old foundation of O’Malley’s castle, with an adventure park, a statue, exhibits, and tours.






Ancient Origins

Westport House

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Real Female Pirates, Part 1

It bothers me when I hear people discredit movies and books because “women can’t really do that.” The phrase is usually in reference to women having impressive fighting skills, whether it be May in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or Celaena in Throne of Glass. And the simple truth is, yes, women can. Women can throw men twice their size over their shoulders, they can be assassins, and they can be pirates. In fact, they were, and this is the first post dedicated to real female pirates.


Click picture for photo credit

It might come as a shock to many to learn that the most successful pirate of all time was, in fact, a woman. In many senses, she was even a real pirate princess. Her name was Shi Xianggu or Ching Shih, and she was active in the early 19th century.

Shi was a Cantonese prostitute who was captured by pirates and ended up marrying one of them, a very successful pirate captain. When he died, she took control of all his ships and men. Yes, you might say she inherited them, but only a skilled pirate captain could maintain control over so many. And the pirates were more successful under her command. Shi expanded her fleet to around 80,000 men. The men learned quickly to follow orders because Shi had very strict rules and consequences (Wikipedia).

You don’t attack anyone without getting the okay from Shi first. You don’t have sex, consensual or not, without permission. Don’t desert. Anything you plunder goes to your captain for distribution. Etc. (Today I found Out).

Failure to obey usually resulted in beheading. The “no sex” seems strange. Why would it be a big deal if it was consensual? It’s understandable that Shi, being a woman, wouldn’t allow the female prisoners to be raped. But Shi was also a prostitute, and she knew the behaviors of men. And so she would force them to be celibate for weeks or months on end. That way, when it was time to plunder, the men would have extra, pent up energy and be more effective.

Many governments tried to stop her, including those of Portugal and Britain, but they couldn’t. Shi was brilliant, and she outsmarted all the strategies used against her (Ancient Origins).

Shi ended up retiring after negotiating a pardon for her and her men. She got to keep all her loot, and she died an old woman at the age of 69 (About Education).

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Why Pirates Actually Wore Eye Patches


While it’s certainly true that eye patches were (and are) commonly used to conceal a missing or disfigured eye, that’s not the most common reason for why pirates wore them.

I’m sure everyone has experienced a time when they had to go from being in a well-lit space to dark one. Maybe someone turned off the lights without realizing you were still in the room or you went spelunking or the power went out. Whatever the experience, I’m sure you remember the discomforting seconds it took for your eyes to adjust to the dark.

Remember that on most pirate ships, there’s at least two levels, above and below deck. The pirates would frequently traverse between the two. By wearing an eye patch, one eye was already accustomed to the dark. So when the pirate went below deck, he would simply lift off the eye patch and go about his business. Now you might wonder Were pirates really so impatient that they couldn’t wait a few seconds for their eyes to adjust?

When they’re pillaging another ship, a few seconds could be crucial. Men defending their goods below deck would already be accustomed to the dim lighting and would be able to get the upper hand on any pirates who entered. But with eye patches, the pirates would be ready for a fight below.

Cool, right?

Though these men wore eye patches due to the first reason I listed above, they’re still awesome.

Alastor Moody


Nick Fury


Source: Dr. Jim Sheedy

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