Tall Ships and Magic and Research and Such

Posted by on July 3, 2018 in Untune the Sky, World of The Fury Triad | 12 comments

First things first! For some reason a notice did not go out in email to let you know about my most  recent post. So since you probably missed it, here is the link. It’s about how Harry Potter influenced The Fury Triad and if you have read either or both, I think you might find it interesting. Oh yes, and fanfiction!

It’s the first in a series and a new post will be going up in a few days.

Now, back to your regularly-scheduled bloggage.


We haven’t talked about research lately!

Did you ever wonder what the Vliegende Draeck, the Flying Dragon in The Dead Shall Live, looked like? I more or less patterned her after the HMB Endeavour, the ship Captain Cook sailed when his explorations led him to New Zealand and Australia.

[Did you notice how I wrote that? I did not say he discovered these places because, duh! People were already there. If discovery there was, it happened way before Captain Cook set out.]

Why? Because I loved the windows across the stern and that it was painted pretty colors. [I shouldn’t have admitted that, should I? I do all this bloody research and then make myself look so shallow. Well, I admit it. I am sometimes shallow and I do lots of research!]

Even though the figurehead would be on the front of the ship, at the top of the bow, I described an ornate carving of a golden dragon with wings outspread around the top of the stern, above the windows that open into Lord Sinner’s captain’s cabins.

I am sad to say that we almost crewed a tall ship this summer for research and also just because omg, we almost crewed a tall ship. Crewed it tourist style, anyway.  If that sounds awesome to you, too?  Check out the Bessie Ellen. And if you do this be sure you tell me all about it. Rub salt in my wounds. Regale me with what I missed.

Hey, Pooks, why are you telling us all this? Aren’t you writing a new book with new research?

Funny you should ask!

Yes, I am writing Untune the Sky and we are back on board the Dragon for a short but very dramatic, very intense, very magical passage to our next destination, Cornwall.

It gives me chills just typing these words. Dramatic, intense, magic. How I love writing these kinds of scenes!

But since I can’t tell you more, I’ll shift gears a bit and explain what started me down this path, what ultimately led to me writing the books I’m writing.

I have always loved England, long before I ever got to go there. Then my husband and I–with little money, no planning ahead, and the barest idea of what we were doing–went one February to celebrate our anniversary. [Yes, February. It was briskly cold and when we were at Stonehenge it was sleeting sideways, but most days had long, sunny spells under blue skies and the countryside was green and verdant. Even in February!]

We spent three nights in London in a youth hostel [we were not youth!] and then hit the road in a rented car. Yes, my valiant Resident Storm Chaser husband leapt at the challenge of driving on the left, shifting with his left hand, and careening down narrow lanes between hedgerows that would have been brushing both sides of the car had they been greened out with leaves!

And where did we go? Well, you see…

Once upon a time I saw a magical picture in a guidebook.

A picture of blue water and crashing waves viewed through a gothic arch. The guidebook I saw it in only had two sentences about Tintagel, two dry sentences saying blah-blah-not-really-Arthurian, Victorian blah-blah, touristy blah-blah, in other words, nothing interesting or even promising.


That picture!

Remember what I said about shallow? Can we add impulsive and willing to take a risk? [Although really, we were in England for the very first time driving along rocky, beautiful coasts and through green woods and across moors and through villages with wonderful pubs and country churches and staying in B&Bs… okay, maybe not that big a risk?]

I thought, I have to go there. I have to stand there. Don’t tell me there is no magic. There is magic. I have to inhale the magic.

Anyway, I made that picture–that place–the tent pole of our trip. My husband didn’t realize it but our entire itinerary was planned around that picture. Tintagel in the middle. Where we might meander on the way to it and where we might meander on the way back.

Cornwall. Tintagel. The mythical place where King Arthur was conceived, where Merlin’s Cave still lures you in to explore the past where legends still live.

We arrived at sunset, with the sky ablaze, with brisk February winds blowing, and ran down and across to the ruins and–

Don’t tell me there is not magic there.

Also, the mythical part? Bit by bit is being proven factual by archeology–archeology that is influencing the plot in Untune the Sky, even as we live and breathe.

We will go to Tintagel in the final volume of The Fury Triad. And smugglers’ dens. And Romano-Celtic villages. And that’s just the beginning, because the tale doesn’t stay in Cornwall. But it had to spend some time there.

You see, Cornwall has owned my heart ever since that first trip.

After years of research I discovered that there is some very woo-woo magic that connects me to Cornwall!

But that is a tale of another research trip–the one for Untune the Sky.

Finally, a couple of points about our research trips.

We drive.  Yes, that means sitting on the wrong side of the car, shifting gears with the wrong hand, driving on the wrong side of the road — wrong if you are accustomed to driving on the right. I will give you some hints about that in another post. We also poke around in tiny villages, stay at B&Bs instead of hotels except on rare occasions, or if we are staying in one place for a few days we stay in self-catering cottages.

Yes, the more I think about it this should be in a different post.

But for now I’ll share an old slide show video I put together with an old version of iMovie and I don’t think I can edit it or I’d put some text up to give more info. Yes, yes, yes, I have finally sunk so low that I am imposing home movies on you! LOL!

And now I’m going to settle back with a cup of tea and dream of scones, clotted cream, centuries-old pubs and churches, and England.

Oh!  And write about [hmm, what’s up today? oh right] the Isles of Scilly. Hidden coves. Smugglers. Magic!

You know, all the delicious things!

And that is a research excursion worth telling you about. Hey, I’ll do that, too! [Adds to list…]

Have you ever sailed on a tall ship? Would you take a cruise on one where you were part of the crew?




  1. Haven’t sailed on one, have been on a restored ship in the Baltimore harbor–the USS Constellation, a sloop-of-war. Wouldn’t be opposed to a sailing ride for a short jaunt. Have no interest on being part of the crew. My cousin’s daughter was part of the USS Constitution’s crew, and my cousin and family did go on a short cruise in Boston’s harbor–I saw pictures, including a certain ex-VP.

    I’ve seen replica tall ships in several historic East Coast ports. I’ve watched the parade of tall ships on the Delaware River.

    I think there’s a replica pirate ship of some sort in Baltimore, too. I’ve only seen it dockside.

    One can sail on the replica Kalmar Nyckel in Delaware when it’s in port. I’ve seen it sailing. http://www.kalmarnyckel.org/Index.asp

    • p.s. loved the video…can’t believe I’ve now seen the RSC’s face.

      • Ha! That is also so amazing. You see that little shop behind him? A probably-centuries-old cottage that is now a shop? Well, actually it’s the news agent [pretty much a convenience store that often/usually? has a post office window and employee inside, as well. And an emphasis on magazines and newspapers].

        We went inside to poke around and buy/mail postcards. And on a very dusty shelf with its own layer of dust I discovered–

        What the RSC is holding in the image.

        A jigsaw puzzle.

        A Dallas Cowboys jigsaw puzzle.

        That was printed and published in England.

        Well, I guess they aren’t just America’s Team, eh?

        And yes, of course I bought it!

        • cool!

    • There’s also one in Galveston. I plan to go take one of their excursions so I can at least have sailed on one for a couple of hours!

    • Oh, the Kalmar Nyckel was my inspiration prior to the Endeavour. That’s how I imagine my Dragon, even though it’s a couple of centuries too early. If it were a magic ship I could do it, but the Dragon is Ordinary so I looked for a contemporary one that at least had that wall of windows/captain’ quarters and office on the stern.

      • Come north and we can sail on it together.

        The Cowboys were an answer on Jeopardy last night.

        • I’d love to sail on it with you!

          What was the question, or should I ask?

  2. it was about them being ranked the biggest (dollar value) team franchise. I can’t find a link, was probably a rerun from months ago .

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