Tag Archives: Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure Series

Pre-order Rhode Island Rendezvous

Rhode Island Rendezvous

Newport Rhode Island: 1765

The Seven Years War is over but unrest in the American colonies is just heating up…

Maintaining her disguise as a young man, Patricia is finding success as Patrick MacPherson. Formerly a surgeon’s mate in His Majesty’s Navy, Patrick has lately been employed aboard the colonial merchant schooner Andromeda, smuggling foreign molasses into Rhode Island. Late October, amidst riots against the newly imposed Stamp Act, she leaves Newport bound for the West Indies on her first run as Andromeda’s master. In Havana a chance meeting with a former enemy presents unexpected opportunities while an encounter with a British frigate and an old lover threatens her liberty – and her life.

ISBN: 978-1-943404-12-4  Old Salt Press, LLC  Softbound. October, 2017

“An insightful look at life at sea during the colonial era, this novel offers a combination of adventure, discovery, and intrigue.” – The BookLife Prize

“Linda Collison’s Rhode Island Rendezvous thrills as a hard-to-put-down historical novel of nautical derring-do. Entertaining throughout, the expansive saga charts high-seas adventures between New England, the West Indies, and ports in between in the eighteenth century. The third novel in the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure series picks up the engaging narrative of a cross-dressing surgeon’s mate who strikes out as a ship captain in a profession that was then solely the province of men.
Set during a period of social unrest in the American colonies after the Seven Years’ War, when people are rioting over the newly imposed Stamp Act, the meticulously researched novel tracks Patricia MacPherson, an upperclass woman in boarding school cast adrift after the abrupt death of her Caribbean plantation–owning father. Setting off on her own, she poses as Patrick MacPherson, a former surgeon’s mate in His Majesty’s Navy, disguising herself as “a rising young merchant seaman dressed to go to a wedding feast where he will rub shoulders with Newport’s best.” Determined to make her fortune, she becomes a smuggler who sneaks in molasses for “Yankee Gold” Rhode Island Rum and ends up captaining the schooner Andromeda as it embarks on a dangerous international voyage…” — Foreword Reviews

Rhode Island Rendezvous, Book 3 of Patricia MacPherson’s Nautical Adventures (e-book) is available now for pre-order on Kindle

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Women on board

Transgenders serving on ships is nothing new.

I’ve long been interested in women on ships in the Age of Sail — particularly women posing as men, passing as men, doing what was considered men’s work. This interest arose when I signed aboard HM Bark Endeavour, a sailing replica of Captain James Cook’s historic ship, and lived the life of an 18th century seaman for three weeks. This life included heaving, hauling, standing watch, taking my trick at the helm, and going aloft, out on the yard arm to make and furl sail. It included stringing my hammock from the deckhead, snug alongside the other recruits, and taking my turn in the galley. (Although my husband was aboard as crew too, we never once slept together — nor did we even sleep next to each other!) What I learned was that although the work is hard and requires some training, it doesn’t require a Y chromosome.

I’m not by definition transgender. Nor is my fictional character — though in her mid-18th century world she has found it more convenient to be male than female. Actually, she’s found it expedient to be male.  The term transgender first appears in 1974, according to Miriam Webster’s online dictionary, so the concept, as such, doesn’t exist in my series. But the problems are similar: Individuals not allowed to serve in the military because of their apparent sex.

As I’m writing my way through Patricia’s story in the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventures, I’ve learned a lot about life in the 18th century from a female perspective  — a young white female of British heritage. Much depended upon parentage and social standing.  Much depended on luck. And of course much depended on their sex.

Hannah Snell, Royal Marine. Born 1723, died 1792. Buried with the old soldiers at Chelsea Hospital, which was her wish.

The Age of Sail was an Age of War. The emerging nations of Europe waged battles — entire wars — at sea. The need for sailors, marines, and craftsmen continued for several centuries, offering a few hardy and daring females an opportunity to escape social and economic confines, to find adventure – or maybe they were just looking for three meals a day and a hammock to sleep in. For a destitute young woman, life aboard a ship was safer than life on the streets.

What we know about these desperate imposters comes mostly from naval records, broadsheets, and the romanticized biographies and fictionalized memoirs written by or about these cross-dressing or transgender figures. One of the most well known and well documented 18th century female soldier/sailor was Hannah Snell who served first as a soldier in General Guise’s regiment, then as a Royal Marine in Frasier’s Regiment under the name of James Grey. She saw action and was wounded several times in India  “Here is a Woman, and an English Woman, who, notwithstanding the many Dangers and Vicissitudes she underwent for near the Space of five Years, during her Travels, was never found out to be of the feminine Gender.” — from The Female Soldier; the Life and Surprising Adventures of Hannah Snell. (Project Gutenberg) Hannah herself couldn’t write but she sold her story to a London publisher Robert Walker. After she left the service she performed military drills on stage in costume and sang military songs and The Gentleman’s Magazine reported her story for its readers’ enjoyment.  Hannah Snell’s story is unusual in that the Royal Hospital recognized her military service and granted her a pension.

Stories like Hannah Snell’s have inspired my historical novels. I’m not out to prove that cross-dressing or transgender women existed — we know they did — but to explore why they chose that path and how they might have carried it off. Although Hannah Snell’s memoir (published anonymously but likely penned by her publisher) claims finding her estranged husband was her inciting reason, I suspect that was a literary convenience for the publisher, and one the readers might readily accept. The chance of her finding her errant seaman husband was slim — but the chance of her earning a living was guaranteed. Not to mention respect, opportunity, adventure — and a pension.

There may not have been great numbers of cross-dressing women on board ships in the Age of Sail. But there were some. They existed. They carried it off. At least, for a while.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Enter for a chance to win Barbados Bound

With Rhode Island Rendezvous, Book Three of the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure Series, on the horizon we’re offering five copies of book one — Barbados Bound — as a give-away through Amazon. To enter the sweepstakes click on the link at the end of the post. We’ll also be giving away some Kindle copies soon.

I came aboard with the prostitutes the night before the ship set sail…

Portsmouth, England, 1760. Patricia Kelley, the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy Barbadian sugarcane planter, falls from her imagined place in the world when her absent father unexpectedly dies, leaving her no means of support.  Raised in a Wiltshire boarding school far from the plantation where she was born, the sixteen-year-old orphan stows away on a ship bound for Barbados in a brash attempt to claim an unlikely inheritance.  Aboard the merchantman Canopus, under contract with the British Navy to deliver gunpowder to the West Indian forts, young Patricia finds herself pulled between two worlds — and two identities — as she charts her own course for survival in the war-torn eighteenth century. 

 Barbados Bound was first published as Star-Crossed in 2006 by Alfred A. Knopf, and chosen by the New York Public Library to be among the Books for the Teen Age – 2007.  The story is basically the same but the author has made minor changes to the manuscript, in some cases replacing words and phrases edited out from Knopf’s Young Adult version.  

 

It all started with a ship. On April 14, 1999, I saw in the newspaper a startlingly anachronistic photograph of a three-masted wooden ship under sail. It looked like it had just sailed out of the eighteenth century. Below it, an intriguing advertisement:

Help wanted: Deckhands to man floating museum…a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sail as crew on Endeavour, the replica of Capt. James Cook’s ship that will visit Hawaii in November. Crewmembers sleep in hammocks slung together on the lower deck.  They must be prepared to go aloft and work the sails at any time of day in any weather, not suffer from chronic seasickness or fear of heights, and be physically fit.  Sailing experience is not essential…

Six months later Bob and I were at the dock in Vancouver, signing ship’s articles.

We spent three weeks aboard the Endeavour, as part of the foremast watch, crossing the Northern Pacific Ocean. We learned the names and functions of the hundreds of lines, sails and spars that power the ship; we learned to climb aloft on the ratlines, stepping out on the foot ropes under the yards to make and furl sail. We took turns steering the ship and were responsible for cleaning and maintaining her in eighteenth-century fashion. We slept in hammocks we strung from the deckhead every evening.

The voyage crew, as we green-but-willing sailors were called, bonded quickly, for we were all in it together and we all felt the same swing of emotions — anxiety, fear, fatigue, exhaustion, sea-sickness, hunger, occasionally resentment – but most of all, exhilaration and awe. For me, those weeks on the Endeavour were nothing short of a time machine.

When Bob and I disembarked in Kona, Hawaii, I carried with me the seeds for a novel. It would not be about Captain Cook or his extraordinary voyages, but it would begin in the mid-eighteenth century aboard a ship much like the one I had sailed on.

It would take me more than five years to research and write the story born aboard Endeavour. In 2006 Alfred A. Knopf published it under the title Star-Crossed, as a stand-alone, young adult historical novel which the New York Public Library chose it to be among the Books for the Teen Age – 2007. I had not written the story for teen readers per se, but I had written about a teenager, from her narrow and still immature perspective. Star-Crossed became Barbados Bound, the first book in a series about a young woman coming of age in the 18th century who tries to find her place in the world, disguised as a man.

Click on the link for a chance to win a trade paperback copy of Barbados Bound; Book One of the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure Series. Open to readers in the United States who have an active Amazon account.

 

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Beyond Research: Creating Verisimilitude in Historical Fiction

Beyond Research I. _002-page-0 - CopyHere are a few of the slides from my power point outline, Beyond Research, shared at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s spring Genre Con, May 14, at Table Mountain Inn in Golden, Colorado. The keynote and morning session was given by Kristin Nelson and Angie Hodapp of Nelson Literary Agency. The afternoon was devoted to craft in genre breakout sessions.

Rebecca Bates — Mystery  Linda Collison — Historical Fiction  Nathan Lowell — SciFi/Fantasy

Bernadette Marie — Romance   Aaron Michael Ritchey — YA

The works-in-progress of the writers in my group is indicative of the wide spectrum of historical novels being written and published today. Our stories include historical mystery, historical fantasy, historical paranormal, historical adventure, literary historical, family sagas, fictional memoir, and contemporary novels with strong historical elements.  Interest in historical fiction has never been stronger.

The importance of setting is something all historical fiction has in common — and it’s generally agreed that these stories takes place before the author was born, usually set 50 years or more in the past. Setting isn’t arbitrary; a story happens in a particular place and time for a reason. Setting affects character, plot, mood, and tone.  Beyond Research D._013-page-0

But how do we go beyond gathering events, dates, and second-hand details to make our setting feel real? How can we bring first-hand authenticity to the page?

While there are effective techniques a writer can use to enhance setting, credibility can’t really be crafted. The old “write what you know best” is what leads to convincing settings.

To tap into our own individual wells of verisimilitude we discussed our personal connections to our stories.  I asked the group to consider:

What drew you to write about your particular time & place? How did you fall in love with your setting? What problems does your character face that are inherent to the setting?

What areas of expertise do you have; what skills, hobbies, and life experiences can you take back to the past with you to enrich your story and add meaningful and credible detail?

For me, it was my sailing experiences and my nursing experiences. Another woman has a biomedical background, having worked for the Federal Drug Administration. She takes her 21st century knowledge in writing about medieval herbalists and apothecaries. Several writers had a deep interest in genealogy and were writing novels based on the immigration stories of their own ancestors. These personal connections and experiences give our stories conviction and authority and direct our focus. We bring our own past and passions to the page.

Discovering your personal connection to the story and using it with authority gives your work verisimilitude.  It’s also part of your author platform. Be sure to mention it in your bio; use it to engage your readers.

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Shining Light on our Ladies

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I’m delighted for Patricia MacPherson, my 18th-century cross-dressing protagonist, to be among those fictional ladies in the spotlight this week, as part of Helen Hollick‘s October blog tour celebrating female protagonists through the centuries. Blog tours are fun ways to be introduced to authors you might not otherwise be familiar with. Welcome aboard my blog, a Sea of Words; charting a course from imagination to publication. As you can tell from the title, the major focus of my blog is the process of writing.

I was thrilled when Helen invited me to participate because I’ve been at work for several years now on Leaving Havana, the third book in the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure Series.

Patricia MacPherson came to me in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. She appeared in my imagination, insistent that I tell her story. It was the middle of the night while I was at the helm of the HM Bark Endeavour (yes! — I was taking my turn steering the famous replica ship!) on a passage from Vancouver to Hawaii in1999. My husband and I had joined the ship with a few dozen other middle-aged wannabe sailors, as “voyage crew” — temporary hands to help sail the old girl on a part of her journey around the world that year. When we signed on we agreed to stand our watch, climb aloft to make and furl sail, help clean and maintain the ship, and obey the captain and officers. For three weeks we essentially lived the lives of 18th century sailors, standing our watch, steering the ship, and scrambling up the ratlines and out on the foot rope beneath the yard arm high above the deck, to let loose or take in canvas. We took our turns at galley duty, we maintained the vessel, and when our watch was over we strung our hammocks from the deck head an slept, exhausted, until the ship’s bell roused us again. It was very much like a time machine back to life aboard an 18th century British sailing ship. I would later write an article published in Sailing Magazine about my experience, entitled Three Weeks Before the Mast.

But by the time I disembarked in Hawaii I also had the beginnings of a novel in my mind — a story about a young woman aboard an 18th century sailing ship — much like the ship I had just been a part of. The ship was my setting — I knew it intimately. Like me, my female protagonist would not be just a passenger.  One thing I had discovered first hand was that women can do anything men can do, when it comes to sailing or maintaining a ship. Maybe there was more truth than I realized to those old 18th century British ballads and broadsheets about girls going to sea dressed as men.

Although the character Patricia, had made herself known to me, and although I knew the setting like the back of my hand, I had a lot of research to do — six years’ worth — before I had a finished manuscript. In that research I discovered many documented cases of girls who really did go to sea disguised as boys. In most cases they were only discovered while being treated for life-threatening battle wounds. Think of the many who might never have been caught!

My novel Star-Crossed was published by Knopf in the fall of 2006 as a Young Adult historical novel. In 2007 it was chosen by the New York Public Library to be among the Books for the Teen Age.  I wrote the rough draft of a sequel, but Knopf wasn’t interested in a series; they had published it as a stand-alone. My agent declined.  But Tom Grundner, founder of Fireship Press and Editor-in-Chief, wanted to acquire my series and in 2011 Surgeon’s Mate; book 2 of the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure Series was published. In 2012 Fireship Press published a slightly revised Star-Crossed  (now out of print) as Barbados Bound; book 1 of the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure Series.   Tom was enthusiastic about my books and we were discussing a third book when he died suddenly. My plans for the third book were abandoned for a time, as I felt I had lost not just an editor but a mentor.

Patricia has languished for a few years, seemingly lost at sea, while I’ve completed several other novels I had in the works. Tired of waiting to be rescued, she has managed to jury-rig a sail and find the wind to fill it. She insists I continue her story. I’m not sure I could have, had I not found a new mentor and several trustworthy writing “mates” who know nautical history and are supportive and encouraging of our efforts — Patricia’s and mine. I am very grateful for these writers — and for the readers who have taken the time to let me know how much they want to read more adventures of Patricia MacPherson. Unlike Star-Crossed, the version Knopf published , the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure series are adult novels, not YA . Adobe Photoshop PDF

Barbados Bound (first published as Star-Crossed by Knopf in 2006 as a stand-alone YA historical novel.)

Portsmouth, England,1760. Patricia Kelley, the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy Barbadian sugarcane planter, falls from her imagined place in the world when her absent father unexpectedly dies. Raised in a Wiltshire boarding school sixteen-year-old Patricia embarks on a desperate crossing on a merchantman bound for Barbados, where she was born, in a brash attempt to claim an unlikely inheritance. Aboard a merchantman under contract with the British Navy to deliver gunpowder to the West Indian forts, young Patricia finds herself pulled between two worlds — and two identities — as she charts her own course for survival in the war-torn 18th century.

In writing Patricia MacPherson’s story I wanted to explore what it might have been like for a young woman in the eighteenth century to live, work and reinvent herself aboard a ship.  Although it’s a work of fiction, I have attempted to maintain historical accuracy.

Eighteenth century merchantmen and British Naval ships did indeed carry women — wives, girlfriends, passengers, prostitutes, laundresses — even though the Admiralty had rules on the books prohibiting it.  Children too, were commonly found aboard ships.  Some were born on the passage and some went to sea at an early age for their livelihood.

According to numerous sources, some women really did enlist in the navy and army in male disguise.  Several accounts tell of women who worked for months, and in some cases years, before being found out.  These impostors carried out their duties, performed bravely in battle and were only discovered to be female after being wounded in the line of duty.  (The artifice may have occurred more often than has been recorded, simply because some women may have successfully carried it off.)

Thought the work was hard and not without danger, a ship provided room and board, and a chance for adventure.  In fact, it still does.

Surgeon’s Mate; Book 2.

Surgeon's Mate Medium

 

It’s late October, 1762. After surviving the deadly siege of Havana, Patrick MacPherson and the rest of the ship’s company are looking forward to a well deserved liberty in New York. But what happens in that colonial town will change the surgeon’s mate’s life in ways she could never have imagined. Using a dead man’s identity, young Patricia Kelley MacPherson is making her way as Patrick MacPherson, surgeon’s mate aboard His Majesty’s frigate Richmond. She’s become adept at bleeding, blistering, and amputating limbs; but if her cover is blown, she’ll lose both her livelihood and her berth aboard the frigate. The ship’s gunner alone knows her secret – or does someone else aboard suspect that Patrick MacPherson is not the man he claims to be? Surgeon’s Mate, book two of the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure Series, is a work of fiction inspired in part by the historical accounts of actual 17th and 18th century soldiers, sailors and marines who were in fact women. Included in this group were Christian Davies, Hannah Snell, Mary Lacy, Mary Anne Talbot, Deborah Sampson, to name but a few.

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(Here’s a photo of me at the 2012 Historical Novel Society Conference costume party — cross-dressed as Patricia’s male persona, Patrick MacPherson.)

Leaving Havana; Book 3 of the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure Series 

In this work-in-progress Patricia continues her association with Yankee smugglers at great risk, and is reunited with three people from her past, making some rash decisions with enormous, life-changing consequences.  Look for it to be released by Spring, 2016…

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Now let me hand the microphone to Helen Hollick, an amazing historical novelist who writes in several different eras.  If you are an historical novel aficionado, chances are, you already know this author — a force of nature, she is. I had the good fortune to be on a nautical historical panel with her at the 2012 Historical Novel Conference in London and since I have become acquainted with her and her work I’ve been greatly inspired by her writing process and her writing style — not to mention her energy and willingness to encourage and promote historical fiction by emerging writers.

 

Helen Hollick

Helen lives on a thirteen-acre farm in Devon, England. Born in London, Helen wrote pony stories as a teenager, moved to science-fiction and fantasy, and then discovered historical fiction. Published for over twenty years with her Arthurian Trilogy, and the 1066 era, she became a ‘USA Today’ bestseller with Forever Queen. She also writes the Sea Witch Voyages, very engaging, somewhat salty, pirate-based fantasy adventures. The ocean connects us all, and that’s how I first found Helen. As a supporter of Indie Authors Helen Hollick is Managing Editor for the Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews, and inaugurated the HNS Indie Award. Please check out her blog post today, Let us talk of many things

As for her ladies — her female protagonists and supporting characters – every sea captain needs a woman to come home to, but Captain Jesamiah Acorne (ex-pirate) has three to choose from: Tiola ( a midwife and a white witch) ‘Cesca, an English woman with a Spanish name (a spy) and Alicia… well, all Alicia wants is Jesamiah’s money…

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A rollicking nautical adventure!

Now, let me reacquaint you with Anna Belfrage.
Anna is a delightful author I featured here on my Sea of Words blog last year. (See, Anna Belfrage talks of time travel and other writing secrets)

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Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does not exists, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing interests, namely history and writing.

 

Presently, Anna is hard at work with The King’s Greatest Enemy, a series set in the 1320s featuring Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures and misfortunes in connection with Roger Mortimer’s rise to power.  When Anna is not stuck in the 14th century, chances are she’ll be visiting in the 17th century, more specifically with Alex and Matthew Graham, the protagonists of the acclaimed The Graham Saga. This series is the story of two people who should never have met – not when she was born three centuries after him.

 Meet Anna’s ‘lady’…. She was blackmailed into marrying an unknown knight. She hadn’t expected having to save his life as well…

visit Anna and   – and a chance to win TWO of Anna’s books! Annabelfrage.wordpress.com

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We are historical fiction writers shining the light on our female protagonists; thank you for your attention!

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If you’ve enjoyed our posts please share and tweet #LightOnOurLadies. We appreciate your interest!  In case you came late to the party, here’s what you missed:

The first three weeks of the #LightOnOurLadies tour:

6th October: Helen Hollick  with Pat  Bracewell and  Inge Borg

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13th October: Helen Hollick with Regina JeffersElizabeth Revill and Diana Wilder

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20th October : Helen Hollick with Alison Morton  and Sophie Perinot

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Keep that spotlight shining, ladies!