Fa La La La Folicles

Here’s my beard. Ain’t it weird? Don ‘t be skeered, just a beard.” – George Carlin

Since my friend, Mark Summers, and I entered the pirate realm as creators of the ersatz holiday International Talk Like a Pirate Day and became Cap’n Slappy (Mark) and Ol’ Chumbucket (me,) I have always been the well-trimmed buccaneer of the duo. Mark hasn’t touched his beard except to push it out of the way when he eats or drinks for at least ten years and possibly much longer. (When did we do “King Lear?” I don’t think it was that wild then.)

Anyway, I was always the more dapper one. But then, sometime last summer, my beard trimmer broke. And I didn’t think much about it, but my beard started getting longer. When I finally noticed this fall, it was getting a little crazy. It started twisting and curling in ways I never expected. If only the hair on top of my head (when I had hair on the top of my head) had been that wavy.

I had to use scissors to keep in check the hair around my lips or it would end up in my mouth with every bite of food. And Tori wasn’t fond of that much hair from my face getting into her face, and I do like kissing her.

So top of my Christmas list this year was a new beard trimmer, and Santa came through. Here are the before and after pictures, taken on Dec. 25. (I admit, it also helps to pull my hair back, but when you’re going for the hairy scary pirate look …)

File Dec 28, 11 35 54 AM

And a bonus picture. One morning in mid-November, Tori was cleaning out the bathroom medicine chest and happened across a jar of hair gel, which she gleefully began running through my beard. The resulting pictures convinced me that, yeah, I definitely needed a trim. And now I’ve got one.

Another Trip to the Post Office

Been making repeat runs to the Post Office mailing copies of the book to people who paid a little extra to get signed copies. The wrapping them and addressing them and then the standing in line is a chore, but it never gets old. Because, you know, people actually paid money for my book! And they’re paying a little extra to get me to smear some ink on the title page. Because let’s face it, my penmanship is not what you’d call good. Sister Ann Thomas. Miss Frickie and Sister James Marie would take turns smacking my hand with a ruler if they could see it.

I had extra copies sitting under my desk because the one book event where I planned to sell quite a few got rained out, and I was sick as a dog for another one. So I let the word out that people could order them directly from me (instead of CreateSpace) and they could get a signed copy of the paperback. The response has been worthwhile. And setting it up was pretty easy.

For those considering a similar set up, the online e-trade site Big Cartel is really handy. It’s free if you’re selling five or fewer items, It gives people an easy way to buy your book and get you monet, and that’s the first rule of retail – if people want to give you money, make it easy for them to do so. All you need is a bank or PayPal account for Big Cartel to send the money to. Then you pack the book up and send it off. There’s no wait, you get paid every time an order comes in. Nice.

We checked out envelopes and mailers and packing material, and then Tori came up with a better solution. A single paper grocery bag can wrap two books – probably more but two is good enough. And our local store sells ’em for six cents a bag, so that’s a no brainer. It takes a little more time, but it’s worth it.

One other warning – the lines at the post office are getting holiday long, and the people behind me – who have seen me with this one box – get grumpy when they see my open it at the counter and take out 20 or 30 packages, each of which has to be weighed individually. Ah well, Christmas.

Got one more to wrap and mail off tomorrow and I’m caught up. Then I’ll post to give people one more chance to buy for Christmas, and with a little luck have a few more to ship off. And then in January it’ll be back on the road.

My Pirate Platform

Ol' Chumbucket greets a three-year-old pirate at Saturday's Talk Like a Pirate Day party in Studio City, Calif.
Ol’ Chumbucket greets a three-year-old pirate at Saturday’s Talk Like a Pirate Day party in Studio City, Calif.

Saturday was another grand Talk Like a Pirate Day. My friend, Mark Summers, and I started the holiday as a private joke twenty years ago. When we told syndicated newspaper columnist Dave Barry (who we now refer to as “our close personal friend, Pulitzer Prize winner Dave Barry”) and he wrote a column about it in 2002, the day just keeps going and going, getting bigger and more outrageous and – I’ll just say it – more absurd, year after year.

We’ve traveled the country with it. We’ve performed in Las Vegas and Los Angeles and New Orleans and Philadelphia. We’ve done our schtick in museums and libraries and bars. We’ve done hundreds – that’s not an exaggeration, hundreds – of radio, TV and newspaper interviews all around the world. I suspect by now we’ve been on just about every radio station in Australia and New Zealand. This year I did an interview with a station in Germany.

It’s not the way your parents might have hoped you’d come to the world’s attention, but when the wave comes up, you ride the wave.

In the book business – maybe in others as well, but definitely in the book business – you hear a lot about platforms. You have to have a platform. There’s a lot of definitions as to the exact meaning of “platform,” but you’ve gotta have one. It’s the area you’re known for, how people identify you, sort of the reason anyone can be expected to buy your book.

There are good discussions of the exact meaning here and here. But the point is, you have to have one.

And my platform is pirates. A lot of people in the pirate re-enactor community – or as I prefer to call it, the pirate world – know me, recognize my name. At least, they recognize my pirate name – Ol’ Chumbucket. And most know that that’s me.

So my first three novels were all pirate adventures, including “Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter,” which I thought was the best of them and the most ready to self-pub. And that gives me another venue for going out to sell the book. Along with libraries (I’ve got my first library reading tonight!) and bookstores, I’m looking at pirate festivals all over the south and east. Hope to have more to say on that very soon.

Getting very excited about this evening’s event at the East Jefferson Parish Regional Library. I’m one of three authors presenting their debut novels. (Between you and me, I’ve looked at the other two online and mine is head and shoulders above theirs.) I don’t know if many or even any people show up, but I’m looking forward to it. At least the other two authors will be there, so that’s something.

I didn’t sell as many books as I’ve had liked in Los Angeles, but the venue really wasn’t right for it. Place was crawling with pirates but there wasn’t really a schedule or set up to read or sign. Still, it was a case of showing my face and getting out there so the public – or your public – can see you and get excited.

You take these opportunities and you do the best you can with them, learning from them, and move on.

Avast there me hearties, we’re havin’ a party!

It’s Sept. 19, International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

I’m on the road. Left New Orleans Thursday and spent two nights in Ventura, Ca., with my high school buddy John Degrazia-Sanders, and his lovely wife Ginny. Now we’re hading down to Studio City for a riotous gather of pirates at our friend Talderoy’s tattoo parlor – Studio City Tattoos. Everyone in Southern California is more than welcome to show up for a little filibuster fun! Hope to see you there.

And it goes without saying (but I’ll say it any way) I’ll have copies of “Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter,” with me for sale. I certainly hope I sell ’em because I need the space in my carry on for the return flight Sunday.

Then home to my proud beauty, Torei (who goes by the pirate moniker Mad Sally) who I miss very much.

Enjoy the day. Thanks for helpin’ to spread the word – and the word is “Aarrr!”

With a Song in My Heart

We had this idea back in June to record “Pirate Feeling,” a parody or satire of the classic “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” by the Righteous Brothers, one of my favorite songs of all time. But what visuals would go over the audio? No one wants to look at me singing. They barely want to listen to me singing.

We settled on the classic slide show montage. And asked friends from all over the pirate community to toss a couple of slides my way. We ended up with about 120. We needed about 40.

Then we let it sit for a while. Good ideas, like good wine, need to age. Who said that? Anybody? Probably not, because we realized that was a terrible idea. Strike while the iron is hot would have been more to the point. Talk Like a Pirate Day is almost here (it’s Saturday, for those not in the know) and we had to get to work or give the idea up. We didn’t want to do that.

So that was our weekend. We figured on, maybe two takes. Maybe three. We’d knock it out Saturday morning. Turned out it took almost all of two days, about 40 takes, at one point we had to run out and buy a microphone (the Blue Yetti, I highly recommend it. A great mike for not that much money.) We had to learn some interesting things about the audio software. Latency – what a stupid idea!

And then when we finally had a take we could live with (we’d given up looking for perect around take 18) Tori took the audio and the e-pile of photos and her new computer and got to work weaving it all together. Only instead of weaving, it was more like pounding pegs into random holes when none of them quite fit.

Thank God I’d bought her a new comptuer a week earlier. If we’d been counting on this serviceable, dependable, but four-year-old Macbook we’d still be working on it. When it was knew it was the greatest. Now the new Macbook Air blows its doors off like it was standing still, which a lot of times it is. The newer versions of the photo and video editing software cause it to crash with some regularity.

But she got it done, and we’re happy with it. Got it posted on youtube, linked to Facebook and now linked here.

Look, I know I’m no Bill Medley, or even Bill Murray. I’m a passable singer whose falsetto doesn’t go nearly high enough. But it was fun.

And the rule of using social media is 9 to 1 – for every “buy my book” thing you post, try to post nine of you just being you. “Social media” is, after social.You’ll do nothing but annoy people if you try to turn it into your personal sales megaphone.

Now I’ve got the trip to Los Angeles coming up (in support of the book,) a pirate party at Studio City Tattoo where I will try to sell as many copies of the book as I can. Then back to NOLA, where I have a reading slated next week at the library. And more stuff in the works.

Because social media is good, but getting out there and meeting people face to face still can’t be beat. And if you sing ’em a little song? All the better.

(And yes, my throat has been pretty sore today.)

“Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter” is now on sale at these sites

And here it is. Days of anxious waiting are over and now “Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter” is available for sale. Now months of anxious waiting are on the horizon as I try to keep from obsessing on sales numbers – if any.

Here are the links:

csFINALfrontFor the trade paperback edition ($12.95, 268 pages)

This link takes you to the CreateSpace estore, where the paperback is loaded.

This link takes you to the site where you can advance order a special, signed and numbered hardcover edition: ($45, 272 pages)

This is a one-time-only limited edition hardcover of “Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter,” signed and numbered by the author. This volume also contains three interior illustrations by cover artist/designer Katherine J. Bishop, not contained in the paperback.

Orders will remain open through Nov. 1. When orders close, that’s how many copies will be printed. They will be shipped to me where I sign them and mail them to those who bought them. They will arrive in plenty of time for Christmas. This is the only opportunity to purchase a signed copy of the book online.

When you order, make sure you use the “Notes to Seller” tab at the bottom of the checkout page to tell me who you want the book signed to – your name, or the name of someone you intend to send it to as a gift. Otherwise i’ll just sign my name.

And of course, the Kindle version has been available all week. If you’re a Kindle reader, you can purchase it here:

And the first person to purchase the Kindle version has already posted an Amazon review, which I’ll share here, because, well, damn.

“This is a very compelling story, moving at a great pace. I hope there is a sequel in the works, because the story leaves you wanting more, in a good way. While I am technically not a young adult, I think they will enjoy this, too.” D. Van Middlesworth

I know that eventually someone is going to write a pan, tell me it’s a terrible book and I’m a terrible writer, because that’s the nature of the beast. I’m practicing being philosophical. I’m also laying in a supply of rum.

Chrissie Warren: Cover Girl

And now, the moment I have been waiting for (maybe you all have been too, but I know for a fact I have, anxiously) the cover of Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter. Drum roll please!

csFINALfront

It was designed by Katherine J. Bishop. She was a high school friend of our daughter, Millie, back on St. Croix. Katherine recently graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, and that girl learned some stuff! You can see her portfolio online here.

They say that your cover is the one of the most important elements in generating book sales. It’s not that people “judge” the book by its cover, but they sure are more likely to pick it up if a bright, attractive cover catches their eyes. And a shoddy cover is more likely to make them feel the book is shoddy. So in the long run it pays to invest in a good cover. And I got a good one! Thanks Katherine!

‘Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter’ – Chapters 1-3

Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter

By John Baur

© 2015, all rights reserved

This is the first three chapters of the YA novel, “Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter.” On sale soon!

Chapter 1

Happy Birthday

Hampton, Virginia Colony

September 22, 1717

Chrissie blew gently on the tin flute, watching the tears running down her father’s face as he sang the popular ballad of lost love.

And when death takes his due, Eileen aroon!

What should her lover do? Eileen aroon!

Fly o’er the bounding main

Never to love again,

Eileen aroon!

He paused, laughing, holding up a hand in protest while wiping the tears from his eyes with the other.

“Stop Chrissie, stop!” he said, laughing. “You know I can’t sing that all the way through without bawlin’ like a baby. Me, a man who’s sailed around the world and crossed the line six times, and I can’t make it through a simple song. You don’t want to spend your birthday watching your father blubber!”

Chrissie threw her arms around him.

“I thought you sounded fine, papa,” she said.

Then he pulled back and looked at her, a smile lighting his face.

You played beautifully,” he said, then turned to her uncle, Joe O’Riley, and added, “It was a gift well given.”

“Well, she’s been using mine so much I thought it was time she had one of her own,” Joe said. “Now we can play some duets together, eh Chrissie?”

Chrissie nodded and looked around the room at the small gathering. Beside her father, there was her uncle Joe and Mrs. Garrity, the housekeeper who had raised Chrissie since the day the girl’s mother died giving birth to her. Her father, a merchant sailor, came and went; Joe and Mrs. Garrity had been the two constants in her life.

“Well,” Mrs. Garrity said with a smile, “are we ready for pudding?”

Everyone murmured in anticipation as Mrs. Garrity went to the kitchen. There was a hiss of steam, then the housekeeper emerged carrying a platter with a small steamed pudding, as perfect and round as a cannon ball.

“A masterpiece, Mrs. G!” Dan crowed. “I’ve dined with maharajas and eastern potentates – S’true, every word!” he added as the party smiled, “but I’ve never, in all me life of rovin’, ever seen a finer pudding, and that’s a fact!”

Mrs. Garrity beamed with pleasure, but before she could start serving a knock at the door interrupted her.

“Who could that be at this hour?” Mrs. Garrity grumbled as she crossed the room. She opened the door a crack and Chrissie could hear a voice from outside, though she couldn’t make out the words. Mrs. Garrity opened the door wider and gestured for the interloper to come in.

“You’ll find him at the table,” she told the man who stepped into the room.

He pulled off his cap and lowered his head as he stepped toward the table. He couldn’t have been anything but a sailor. He was short and wiry, his face bronzed, and his clothes and hair, though tidy, were faded from sun and salt. The few steps he took from doorway to table revealed a rolling gait that spoke of more time spent on a ship’s deck than on land.

“Pardon the intrusion, Dan – ma’am, – everyone,” he said. “But I’ve been asked to make the rounds and they only gave me the list an hour ago.”

“Silas!” said Dan, flustered. “Silas David, this is my family – Mrs. Garrity, the housekeeper, you’ve met. Joe O’Riley, my late wife’s brother, and this is my daughter, Mary Christine Warren. It’s her birthday today, her thirteenth. She’s become a lady! Pull up a chair!”

“I can’t, but many happy returns of the day miss,” he said, nodding in Chrissie’s direction. “I’ve two more calls to make. Just came by to offer Captain William’s compliments, Dan, and he wanted me to tell you we sail in three days.”

Chrissie stifled a groan. She’d known it was coming, but that didn’t make it any easier.

“Well,” Dan said to cover the uneasy silence. “At least you’ll have time to help us eat this delightful pudding, won’t you?”

The sailor gave Chrissie a glance, his eyebrow raised in frank appraisal, and she shrank from his gaze. Chrissie had noticed lately that boys her age in town tended to stare at her like big, dumb cows. But in David’s brief glance Chrissie felt something of the wolf licking his chops. Neither Dan nor Joe seemed to notice, but Mrs. Garrity gave a snort and pursed her lips in disapproval.

“Mr. David,” the housekeeper said, briefly pulling the newcomer’s glance away from Chrissie. “What is this ship you mention?”

“Oh, Gladys B. Dan’s to be ship’s carpenter and we sail in three days. She’s a beauty, Mrs. … I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name?” His eyes slipped back to Chrissie while he addressed the older woman.

“Garrity,” she snapped.

“Yes, yes, My pardon. Anyway, she’s a beauty,” he said with his eyes now fully on Chrissie.

“Not now, Silas,” Dan said.

“Well, yes, but the captain said …”

“I understand and you can tell him I got the message.”

Dan glanced sheepishly at his daughter, who simply stared at him, one eyebrow raised. He turned back to the sailor.

“Well, then, Silas, could you at least join us in a toast?”

He agreed, and soon four mugs of punch were raised, with Chrissie uncomfortably the center of attention.

“Chrissie, in thirteen years you’ve grown into a lovely young woman,” said her father, facing her across the table. “While I can’t claim credit for your upbringing, no father could be prouder of his daughter than I am of you. Ladies and gents, I give you Mary Christine Warren!”

“Mary Christine Warren,” the others said, raising their glasses and drinking. David drank with the rest, draining his tankard, which he set back down with a thump.

“And now, Dan, I really must go,” he said, aware he was the cause of the tension in the room but unsure quite why. “Miss Warren, I’m afraid I have other stops to make. Perhaps when we return in the spring I’ll be able to call on you. Until then, the best wishes of the day to you.”

She nodded, averting her eyes as her father showed the man to the door.

They ate the pudding in silence, then Joe helped Mrs. Garrity clear the table and the two went off to the kitchen. Dan stared down at the table in front of him.

“So Pa,” Chrissie said. “Where are you going this time, and when will you be back?”

Dan looked sheepish.

“I’m sorry. I wanted to tell you tomorrow morning, after your birthday.”

“I thought you were going to stay,” she said.

“I have stayed. I’ve been ashore four months this time, Chrissie. That’s a long time for me to stay anywhere. I have to make a living, darlin’. I’m a sailor. It’s what I do.”

Chrissie knew that. Her whole life had been punctuated by her father coming and going, starting even before she had been born.

“Don’t get me wrong, Pa,” she said. “I love Uncle Joe, he’s raised me since I was a babe. Him and Mrs. Garrity, they’re family, right enough. But you’re my pa, and you’re gone more than you’re ever home. Don’t you love me?”

“Never doubt that, Chrissie,” he said, his voice catching in his throat. “You’re all I have in the world, and that’s treasure enough for any man. But Hampton has never been my home. It was your mother’s home, and when I came ashore the first time, it was just another port I’d be sailing away from and maybe never see again. Who knew I’d come down the gangplank and get struck by lightning at the sight of her.”

Chrissie knew the story; she loved to hear how Kathleen O’Riley and Dan Warren had fallen in love at first sight. Within a week they had “an understanding.” Three weeks after that they’d been married. Three months after that Dan had sailed away, telling his bride he’d be back.

When he returned, racing down the gangplank to find her, he had been shocked to learn that he was both a widower and a father.

“That’s a sailor’s life, girl,” he said. “I’m a poorer man for it, but it’s all I know. But you know that wherever I go, the winds will always blow me back to you.”

“They’d better,” she said, “or I’ll come looking for you.”

“Ah, Chrissie, I believe you would,” he laughed. “I believe you could do anything. But never you fear. I’ll come home to you. Count on it.”

Chapter 2

Farewell and a Meeting

September 25, 1717

Chrissie tried to squeeze all she could out of every moment with her father, but all too soon she was standing at the end of the gangway with him. Dan dropped his sea bag beside the gangplank and turned to her.

“Time’s a’wastin’, darlin’. I have to get aboard, and you’d best head home before Mrs. Garrity wonders what happened to you.”

“Can’t I stay with you a little longer?” she begged. “I’ll run straight home so she’ll never know I’m late.”

“Ah, Chrissie,” he said. “You know the docks aren’t a proper place for a young lady. And if you don’t know it, Mrs. G. certainly does, and won’t want you dilly-dallyin’ about with a broken down old sailor like me.”

Chrissie laughed at the thought of her strapping father, who was only in his early 30s, as a “broken down old sailor.”

The pier was alive with sailors coming and going, some calling out to old friends, others rushing off on last minute errands.

“Time to go,” Dan said. He held her out at arms length and said, “Let me have a look at you.”

She looked into his eyes – so much like the ones that looked out of the mirror at her – as he drank her in for a full minute. Then he lowered his arms and sighed.

“The prettiest girl in the colonies. I can’t wait to get home to see how much more beautiful you’ve become.”

“Why not stay and see for yourself?” she asked.

“We’ve talked this through. I’m a sailor, and it’s time to sail.”

He held her in a long embrace, then chucked her under the chin and smiled.

“Don’t you worry,” he said. “Seven months from now, maybe sooner, not more than eight, I’ll charge down that gangplank. You take care of your Uncle Joe while I’m gone, and don’t let Mrs. Garrity steal the silver.”

“Pa, we don’t have any silver,” she laughed, thinking of the tin utensils they used.

“Ah! She’s pinched it already, has she! I’ll have words with that woman when I get back, see if I don’t,” he said.

“Just get back, Pa. That’ll be good enough for me.”

She watched as he hoisted his sea bag over his shoulder, turned and marched up the gangway with a stride that suggested he owned the world. At the top, he saluted the man on deck and stepped aboard. Dropping his bag he looked back out at the pier, raising an arm and waving vigorously.

“So long Chrissie!” he shouted. “I’ll see you in the spring!”

With that, he disappeared into the ship. She watched for a few minutes before accepting that – yes, he was gone. And it was time for her to go, too. She began winding her way along the familiar path from the waterfront to her home.

Chrissie turned up an alley that ran alongside the Dolphin, a tavern popular with sailors. The alley was littered and smelled bad, but it was the most direct route home. Picking her way past the discarded crates and old barrels, she didn’t notice anything until she heard a burst of laughter ahead, followed by the sound of voices talking low, then another laugh.

Chrissie crept forward.

Suddenly, one of the voices snapped out angrily, and another cried out in surprise or pain.

Peeking around a crate, Chrissie saw three men, one sprawled on the ground. Another, a big man, had his back to her. Though he seemed to be the largest of the three, he was backing away cautiously from the third.

“How many times do I have to tell you?” hissed the third man, who was hidden by the big one. “We move when I say we do, and not before. That means we wait until we’re in the Caribbean to take the ship. Ya see?”

“Aye,” the fallen man said.

The third man, the one who seemed to be in charge, extended his hand, a smile breaking across his face almost instantly.

“Splendid,” he said. “Now make sure the others understand. No man moves before I say. Anyone even talks about our plans – I’ll lay stripes on his back meself!”

He pulled the first man to his feet and stepped back, giving Chrissie her first glimpse of them. The man who’d been knocked down was short and skinny, with thin, sandy hair. The big man was built like an ox, with a thick, bushy beard, coal black eyes and hair that ran in a long black braid down his back.

But there was something about the third man that held her eye. He was of medium height and build, with long dark hair tied in a pigtail and eyes that burned darkly out of a face that would have been handsome except for the leer that seemed to be a permanent feature. Unlike his comrades, who were dressed in common sailors’ slops, the man in charge wore a blue broadcloth coat over a white shirt and yellow waistcoat, and his head was covered with a tricorn hat with a long, orange feather.

“Then we understand each other?” he asked the two.

“Right Davy,” the smaller man said sullenly, his hand on his cheek where he’d been struck.

“Right who?” the man said, his voice cracking like a whip.

“I mean, aye Mr. Leech,” the smaller man said, cringing.

“That’s more like it,” the one called Davy said. “You can’t forget and slip. Until I give the order, I’m Mr. Leech, and we’re not brothers. We’ve never met.”

The two men bobbed their heads, murmuring agreement.

“Good. Then get aboard with ye, you’re running late. I’ll be there shortly. It wouldn’t do for us to show up at the same time and have people noticing us together,” Leech said.

They turned to go, and that’s when they spotted Chrissie. She froze, then turned – too late – to run. They were on her before she could retreat half a dozen strides, crowding her against the rough planking of the tavern wall.

The big man’s eyes blazed with anger, and the small one’s ran up and down her body with a cool look that made Chrissie’s skin crawl. But it was the middle man, Mr. Leech, who took command and turned her blood cold with a look.

“Well missy,” he said with a leer. “And what are you doing creeping through alleys and listening in on somethin’ that’s none of your business?”

Chapter 3

Trouble in the Alley

The face that stared at Chrissie was untouched by human warmth, the eyes cold as a lizard’s. He smiled, but the smile was only a muscular twitch that pulled back the corners of his mouth, without any humor in it. Menace radiated from him like heat from the sun.

The smaller man stuck his face in, asking, “Spyin’ on us? Why?” His rancid breath hit her with physical force, and she pressed back harder to the wall.

“Spying? No, I … I’m waiting for my father. He’ll be here any second.”

“Then why were you listening to us?” Leech asked.

“I wasn’t … I didn’t … I was stretching my legs. I didn’t even see you.”

He leaned in towards Chrissie, pinning her with his stare.

Like a rabbit mesmerized by a snake, Chrissie was frozen. The man leaned towards her, blocking her in. His other hand reached out to her face, and she flinched as the nail of his outstretched finger traced the curve of her chin.

“These two men are shipmates of mine – good lads, practically choir boys. But some men don’t like being spied on. A person who heard something she shouldn’t might get more than her legs stretched, even if it’s a very pretty girl like you.”

The man grinned, an even viler expression than the simple smile had been. The smaller man gave a low chuckle, and turned to Leech.

“Can I have her?” he asked, wiping his lips with the back of his dirty sleeve. “She won’t speak to no one when I’m done wif her.”

“There’s no time,” Leech said. His eyes flicked up and down the alley as his hand stole to his coat pocket. Her eyes followed the movement and saw him start to withdraw a short, thin knife.

The back door of the tavern banged opened and an older woman leaned out and tossed a bucket of greasy water into the alleyway. She glanced up and shouted, “‘Ere now! None o’ that or I’ll call the constable!”

Leech’s head jerked toward the sound of the voice, but he kept one hand firmly on Chrissie’s shoulder. That was all she needed to keep him at the right distance. Chrissie’s knee shot up and connected with him in the way Uncle Joe had taught her, solidly between his legs. Leech let out a gasp and staggered back, tumbling into the larger man.

Chrissie ducked as the smaller man reached for her, turning away from his clutching hand and running the other way, past the startled barmaid and out into the crowded street a block up from the waterfront.

Heart pounding, she plunged into the crowd, weaving and ducking as fast as she could. At the corner she risked a look back. The smaller man had just made it to the head of the alley and was looking about, but hadn’t seen her. She forced herself to slow down as she turned right and walked uphill. She wanted to keep running, but knew she’d stand out more on the crowded street if she was the only running figure.

Halfway up the block she stepped back into a doorway and peeked down the street. The three men were nowhere to be seen. She leaned back against the doorframe and let out a long, shuddering breath, hands and knees trembling.

A sound behind her made her spin in alarm, her hands raised in defense. The door had opened and a voice said, “Excuse me, miss. Are you alright?”

The man behind her had a fringe of white hair and a clean-shaven face that looked in surprise over the top of spectacles. She finally recognized him as one of Hampton’s shopkeepers.

Chrissie tried to speak, but her head spun and her breath came in short gasps. The man held out a hand to steady her.

“What is it?” he asked.

“We’ve got to stop the ship!” she gasped.

“You’re Joe Riley’s girl, aren’t you? He’s your uncle? And Muriel Garrity is … your housekeeper?” he asked.

She nodded.

The man turned to a young girl peering nervously from behind the counter and said something to her, but Chrissie couldn’t tell what he was saying. The girl ran for the door, then the man turned back to Chrissie.

“I’ve sent for your uncle. Now, tell me what happened,” he said. “You’re in a state.”

Chrissie didn’t want to have to go over the story. She caught her breath, then started to rise.

“I’m fine; I have to go,” she said.

“Can’t you tell me what the problem is.”

“I have to go find my pa.”

“Well, let’s wait for your uncle, how’s that? I’m sure he’ll be here in no time.”

She wouldn’t listen as the man – Mr. Evans, that was his name, she remembered – pressed her to wait. But when she tried to get to her feet, she suddenly found her legs were like rubber. She sank back in the chair.

Don’t be silly, she argued with herself. You don’t have time for this. Those men are up to something bad, and it might be Pa’s ship.

Mr. Evans passed her a mug of water and she drank it down quickly. Then she took three deep breaths, shook her head and stood.

“Now, you just sit,” Mr. Evans said. “Your uncle or Mrs. Garrity will be here any minute. Let’s just wait for them.”

“Can’t!” she blurted as she raced for the door. “Have to find Pa!”

She was back on the street, taking the longer way around to avoid the alley and anyone who might still be lurking there. Turning the corner on the waterfront, she pelted toward where Gladys B. was docked.

But the ship was no longer tied up. It was moving slowly away from the pier, and as the tide built, it caught the current and began picking up speed.

Even as she watched, she could see sailors scurrying up the ratlines, sails blooming on the yards, snapping open with a crack as they caught the breeze. Chrissie stared and was rewarded by a glimpse of her father on the deck talking to someone. There was no mistaking the crown of golden hair over his broad frame. Then the ship began to turn and she could see who he was talking to.

A chill ran though her. Even at that distance she could see the man was wearing a blue coat, with a touch of yellow at the waist, and a black tricorn with a long, orange feather.

This is the first three chapters of the YA novel, “Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter.” If you enjoyed it, send me your email address (at chumbucket@talklikeapirate.com) and I will update you when it goes on sale!

Playing the Angles

Serendipity today. I thought I was done with the subject of flogging – I mean – promoting your book, when this came in the mail.

The Writer magazine has a monthly feature, “Where in the World is The Writer?” It’s just a little thing in the front of the book where people send pix of them reading the magazine in various locales – along the Nile, on a ski slope, top of the Empire State Building, that kind of thing.

At the start of the summer we were in Florida for vacation and we brought a copy of the magazine with us. Tori got a picture of me and Max (on the left) perusing the magazine with some of the local freebooters at the Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival.

The October issue came out today, and there it was in all its glory!

How could they resist? You just can’t resist pirates, am I right?

This is called: Playing All the Angles. You might not looking putting yourself forward, but you’ve gotta take every chance you can to get attention to your work. Of course, it helps if you’re a pirate!