It is my pleasure to host P.S. Bartlett today on her Blog Tour about her book Jaded Tides, which is part of The Razor’s Adventures Pirate Tales. Peggy has also given us Chapter One to give you a taste of what’s to come.
I suppose it would be easy for me to just give the canned speech about myself in third person ( aka inside the backs of my books) but tonight, I’m actually in the mood to ramble on about myself…LUCKY YOU!
First, the canned speech:
P.S. (Peggy) has always had a love of books and writing. She also paints and draws and although writing takes up the majority of her free time by choice, she loves spending time with her friends and family.
Her first novel “Fireflies” was published in March of 2013 with GMTA Publishing and her second, “Hope From the Ocean” was published in March of 2014, also with GMTA.
As of March 2015, Peggy now independently publishes her own novels.
Peggy’s goal is to become a full time writer and spend the remainder of her days creating worlds, characters and stories that will carry on long after she’s written her last word.
Her motto is:
“I’m taking a fantastic voyage. Won’t you join me?”
A- Age: Seriously? Um…no.
B- Biggest Fear: Losing my loved ones.
C- Current Time: 8:29pm EST
D- Drink you last had: Coffee
E- Easiest Person To Talk to: My sister in law, Kim. We ride to work together every morning and ponder the universe.
F- Favorite Song: Right now, Go All the Way by the Raspberries. Something about that tune just makes me swoon.
G- Ghosts, are they real: Absolutely. Ask me sometime and I’ll elaborate.
H- Hometown: Baltimore, MD born and raised in the inner city.
I- In love with: My granddaughters.
K- Killed Someone: Only in my novels.
L- Last time you cried: Watching a video on Facebook. Sometimes those puppies and kittens are so damn cute!
M- Middle Name: Sue.
N- Number of siblings: 10. I’m number 11…yes, I’m serious. Unfortunately, there are only 5 of us left.
O- One Wish: To live long enough to see my grandchildren grow up.
P- Person who you last called: I just checked and it was my husband the other day.
Q- Question you’re always asked: How are you doing with the book thing?
R- Reason to smile: My grandbabies!
S- Song last sang: Fixer Upper from Frozen
T- Time you woke up: 6:50am
U- Underwear Color: Today? Beige
V- Vacation Destination: St Thomas.
W- Worst Habit: Grinding my teeth
X- X-Rays you’ve had: Recently, my right foot.
Y- Your favorite food: Japanese stir fry.
Z- Zodiac Sign: Aquariuuuuuuusssss….
How’s that? 🙂
The Kind of Writer I Want To Be
I’ve believed since I dedicated myself to this journey two years ago that I knew exactly what kind of writer I wanted to be. Since I wrote the first sentence of my first novel, that dedication hasn’t wavered. A simple little sentence started it all:
“Ennis found a bird.”
I’ve had no formal training in this profession but I’ve done a ton of research, logged countless hours writing and I’ve dug in my heels. I’m not going anywhere.
I write fast. I think fast and once I set my sights on a goal I rarely give up unless I’m personally not satisfied with my level of performance or the quality of work I’m doing. So far, I see no reason to quit. As long as I keep breathing, moving, growing and evolving as a person, I’ll never stop.
It is important to me to produce quality books. Since I am still learning every day what that means to me and how it relates to my writing, I believe I can only keep improving. I’ve always loved writing and although I spent most of my adult life working, raising children and just trying to keep my boat right side up, I chose to put my aspirations on the back burner and take care of my family. I do not regret it one little bit. Through that journey, I learned so much about myself and gained volumes of experience at just being a human being. I’m proud of whom I’ve finally grown up to be and I need to be proud of the work I do too.
It’s a long road from writing your first page, to publishing. You will be knocked back more times than you can imagine. You’ll be told over and over again that your book “just isn’t what we’re looking for at this time.” Roadblock upon roadblock will rise up in front of you but you have to keep pushing on. Family problems, money shortages, day job, responsibilities and oh, that little thing called sleep will feel like a ball and chain at times but no matter what, you can’t give up. If being a published author is truly your calling or at the very least, your goal, allowing anything to stop you is not an option—no matter how long it takes or what road you take to get there.
The most important thing to me is that I write what I want to read. I want to write words that feel like warm butter on a hot roll. Words that get inside of you and either make you squirm or rise up inside of you and escape with a smile. Words that stick in your head and come to mind when you least expect it. I want to write stories that when you close the book, you want more. The reason I know how important writing what I want to read is, is because I’ve tried writing stories that may fall into one of the hot selling genres and I couldn’t get through the first chapter. You’ll know you’re writing what you want to read, when closing your laptop feels like kicking a heroin addiction.
I don’t want to write about what everyone else is writing about. I don’t need to sit at the cool kids table to feel good about myself. I know there are lots of genres and I know which ones sell the most. No, I’m not crazy and of course I want to make money and be able to write full time but I have to do it in a way I feel good about inside. I have to do it on my own terms. I have to tell a good story with characters you want to meet and know, and talk to again and again. I believe at some point I’ll be able to put almost anything into words but it has to be my anything, not what’s hot at the moment and not just because I want to be with the in crowd. My readers are out there and as long as I keep looking, I’ll find them and they’ll find me.
I want to stand out. I have this crazy dream that my stories will one day be considered as some of the best ever. I’ll stand by that. I believe that and soon, I’ll live that.
P.S. Bartlett – I’m taking a fantastic voyage. Won’t you join me?
After finding love in the most unlikely of places, Ivory’s life appears to at last be falling into place. Having proven herself a force to be reckoned with, she has at last set sail for the first time as a pirate. The only problem is she’s a woman and must disguise herself in order to set foot on a ship. Being in love with her captain isn’t helping matters either and whole new set of obstacles are presenting themselves at every turn. Her brash style and tenacity, however, could prove to make her, her own worst enemy.
With a sword in her hand and her new found love at her side, Ivory Shepard is about to embark on a mission to rescue and return every young woman she can who has fallen prey to the jaded tides of the Caribbean sex trade. Armed with a secret log book she acquired from a pirate captain—who also happened to be an evil smuggler, she believes herself well prepared for the task. As she’s already learned the hard way, pirates always prove to be unpredictable and ruthless. Unfortunately for them, so is she.
CHAPTER ONE – THRESHOLDS
When one finds themselves in a predicament where something they’ve longed for is finally in their grasp, it is customary for them to be grateful, thankful, and every other joyful emotion a living creature can feel. However, success itself is a predicament when you are standing with your arms full, without a free hand. That is precisely what I was feeling as I watched the Thunder Cay dipping forward until her bow was completely underwater. Within minutes, her stern rose up and it, too, vanished from view.
As I stood on the deck of the Demon Sea, surrounded by death, I was holding a life of my own in my hands for the first time, and I hadn’t stopped for a second to consider it. I wasn’t foolish enough to believe I was at the summit of anything but the first of a hundred mountains I’d yet to scale. As I bathed and dressed my crewmen’s injuries and drew that burning needle through wound after wound, a numbness from my newly acquired familiarity with the blood of battle grew within me. With every scream and shriek of agony, a cold shudder would shake me and keep me in motion. The inertia of constant stillness within me declared I’d crossed a threshold from which I could never go back.
I wanted to feel. I wanted to care. I wanted to cry or shout or perhaps even vomit, but there was nothing. Once my clothes were splattered and soaked with the blood of men I hardly knew for maybe the third or even the fifth time that morning, I reached a point where I could neither see it nor feel its sticky chill against my skin. My face went flat, and my voice was silenced, and somewhere a compartment in my brain opened up and collected it all until I was through. When the last man was laid in his hammock by late afternoon, I stood on the deck and washed all of them away with a bucket of water and soap, snuck away to the girls’ cabin, and changed my clothes as if nothing had happened.
They were visibly shaken, but silent as well. Yet I knew their silence was far different from mine. Theirs was sadness and regret. Theirs was exhaustion, disgust, and sympathy. I hadn’t seen them this way since the night of the pirate raid in Charles Towne, and as with that night, my next thought was that there had to be something on this ship in a bottle that would soothe me again and help me find my voice, as well as my spirit.
I found one alright, and it found me. I carried it close as I drug myself along the gangway in the shadows to my swaying bed. I stood there, looking at the two empty hammocks, and swallowed a long drink. Almost immediately, my insides felt warm and sweet, and I rushed it to my mouth again. I strained to hold my eyes steady and leaned against the beam that kept my bed suspended above the floor. I stared at the vacant place where hours before I’d smiled to myself while listening to River Watts’s voice. I was glad we took down Thunder Cay for what they did to River, and I’d have murdered every last one of them myself had we not.
My heavy eyes and vacant soul longed for sleep, and my hunger for revenge, sated with the peace of sweet vengeance, afforded me the right to rest my head. Then, all at once, a sadness came over me, and I slid myself into his hammock while clutching my cozy glass rum filled blanket and fell into a deep sleep.
We’d reached Port Royal by nightfall as Captain Rasmus Bergman predicted, and he found us a charming inn a few miles from the McCormack estate. It was all white and sat quietly on a hill, surrounded by a lovely garden. A stone pathway wrapped around from the front to a spacious courtyard. The house was home to a minister and his wife, who rented out the rooms to support their small parish on the estate.
Rasmus insisted that I stay there with the girls at night, but I spent the majority of my days on the Demon Sea with him, helping with the repairs to the ship and plotting our course to take down the filthy business of smuggling girls. When I’d been able to get a peek inside that book of Barclay’s, I was shocked at the number of young women, some as young as fourteen, whom these men were ferrying to islands throughout the Caribbean from as far away as America and even England. What they’d been doing was no different than a slave trade, and I was hell-bent on putting a stop to it, aside the man I loved.
Spending all of my time with Rasmus had turned my life from fear and uncertainty into a reason to breathe. Throughout our unorthodox courtship of swinging mallets and sanding deck boards, we’d grown to know everything about each other that two people who were planning a future together could, or should, know—at least, that’s what we believed. That comforting numbness the bloody battle had left me with had completely settled into its compartment in my mind, and I was able to keep it locked away most of the time, but in those hours I shared with him, I found the most peace.
He’d sworn not to lay a hand on me again until he made me his bride, which was extremely disappointing to me at first, but I trusted that he knew what was best. I put all of those swirling emotions to use through the sweat of hard work. I envied his restraint and thanked God for it, because at the time, I had none at all. Just watching him working on that ship shirtless, glistening in the sunlight or the rain, sent deep feelings of desire to places within me I longed for him to find. I wondered, though, if the idea of him making love to me only excited me until the realization that it would inevitably happen scared me to death.
Day in and day out, I’d rise before the sun, saddle my sweet horse, Peppi, and start off down the road to the wharf to meet Rasmus and the crew. My first job as a real sailor was sewing sails. I hated it. My fingertips were raw and had more holes in them than a sponge. I tried to use the leather gloves Rasmus had given me out of pity, but my hands swam in them, and they made things even worse. I never complained. I never even so much as winced as I drew that needle through and through. When I was finally done, the callouses had hardened until I knew I was pricked only when I saw the droplets of blood.
I was a young man named Razor in the eyes of the crew, and so far no one suspected otherwise. I was questioned once by one of the old crew we called Fin, as to why I didn’t sleep aboard the ship. He was one of Barclay’s old crew, and although he seemed decent enough, I still harbored doubts of any man who’d sailed with a captain like that. I wove a story that I had three sisters I had to watch over at night. He simply nodded and went on about his work. Since he liked to talk most of the time, I just listened.
On one occasion, he told me of how he missed his home back in Ireland, and his light brown eyes sparkled as he spoke. Lying became a way of life for me, and as long as I made the stories simple, they were easily recalled and repeated. Not speaking much at all, however, was much easier.
“Razor, if you’re finished with those sails, we can use some help sandin’ down these new starboard gunnels!” Captain Bergman shouted to me… but I was starving.
“Have we any time to eat, Captain?” I asked, shielding my eyes from the midday sun until he approached me and blocked it with his big silhouette.
He checked his pocket watch and turned his head to the sun and said, “Look at the hour. Your stomach must be set like a watch, Razor. Okay mates, take a break. Hawk’s got some grub for ye all below.”
“Thank ye, Captain,” I muttered and stood as I straightened my ragged clothes and started off to eat.
“Razor, I’d have a word with ye,” Rasmus said as he stepped in front of me.
He waited a few moments until the deck was clear and then patted me firmly on the back. “I have to give ye credit, little Razor, you’ve really pulled your weight getting her seaworthy.”
“Oh, she’s more than seaworthy, sir, she’s a real gem. I’ll be proud to sail her with ye, Captain,” I said with a smile and a wink.
“She’s all but finished. Just a few more nails and a bit of paint, and she’ll be ready. I just want ye to know I saw ye and everything you’ve done to help. Now, get ye some grub before those sea dogs finish it off.” He looked down and that curl grew at the corner of his mouth. I could barely see it anymore since he’d grown his beard. His amber mustache draped almost completely over both his lips, but I always saw his smile in his eyes.
“That means the world to me, Captain.” I was beaming at him, and I nodded and started to go when I felt his palm press lightly against my chest through my vest and binding.
“Tonight, our cove?” he whispered aside to me from the corner of his mouth.
“Yes, or I’ll feed ye to the fish,” I said with a laugh. After months of strenuous labor, my body was hard and strong. I knew every inch of this vessel and could climb the ratlines faster than any other lad on the crew. Yes, it’s true, I raced them all. Of course, they cited my youth and wiry stature as an advantage, but to me, they could use any excuse they had and I’d still be the fastest. I was, however, so ready for her to be finished. I couldn’t wait to get to sea and start hunting, but I also wanted to get on with spending as much time as I possibly could with Rasmus before we sailed. The knowing that by dusk I’d be draped in his waiting arms made those long hot days worthwhile.
With every evening we spent watching the sun set and the moon rise, I could see his desire for me deepen. His touch was determined and less fearful of exploring me, and his kisses were wet and seething with hunger. Somehow though, he always managed to find his head and stop before shattering that vow he’d made to bits.
He spoke of how well I’d sewn his wound and encouraged me to learn the ways of doctoring, in hopes that would be my place aboard ship. Yet he always wandered back to his true wish, which was that I’d just set those thoughts aside and be his wife and the mother of his children.
“Razz,” I said as I peeled myself away from him and sat up from the blanket in the sand to breathe.
“Sometimes, I wish we never had to leave this beach.”
He laid there for a few moments, finding his own breath, and then leaned upon an elbow. His blank expression worried me until at last he spoke, “What would you say if I told ye you’d never have to leave this cove if ye didn’t want to?”
“Well, what will we do, pitch a tent?” I sniped at him and folded my arms.
He rolled up and sat facing me and chuckled. “Do you honestly think for one moment I’d allow my wife to live in a tent?” He mimicked my actions and sat straight-backed and folded his arms as well.
“What sort of man do ye think I am, lass?”
“Well, I…” I stammered and looked into his light blue eyes, and I knew what kind of man he was. I pressed my lips together to hold in a laugh and gave him a smirk.
“I was going to surprise ye, but there’s no surprising ye. Now that the repairs and such are close to being finished on the ship, I’ll be building ye a house of yer very own right here.”
“You’re going to do it, Razz?” I said, sitting up from where moments before I had laid back in his arms, as he spoke of our own little home.
“How can I not? I can’t keep carrying on this way with you forever. It isn’t healthy for a man to get all stirred up night after night and have to jump in the sea to cool off. Besides, I can’t be bringing my bride to a ship, now can I?” He laughed and pulled me back into his arms. “Our own little love nest, aye?” He pumped his bushy red eyebrows and winked with a devilish grin.
“How long will it take?” I asked him as I pushed a long lock of that glowing fire away from his face and behind his ear.
“I figure I’ll round up a bunch of the lads from the Demon, and with a little gold and rum…the rum at the end of the day of course…we could have it put together in a couple of weeks. Which reminds me, by the way,” he said as he sat forward and reached into the pouch on his belt. “Stand up for me now, lass. If I’m going to take this leap, I’m going to need your hand.”
“What is it?” I said as I climbed to my feet.
I watched as he stood up in front of me and took my hand. “I’ve never even come close to doing anything this brave, Ivory Shepard. So, if I promise to give ye my love, my loyalty, and my big body to take care of ye, all I ask is your promise not to steal my heart and run off with it.” He knelt down on one knee in the sand before me and slid onto my finger a simple, but beautiful, gold band with one small, perfect white pearl. The pearl was laid into the band as part of the ring, not set on top as most rings were.
“Wait, does this mean…” I paused.
“It means I must have lost my mind, but there’s not another woman alive I’d rather lose it for. Will ye be my wife today, tomorrow, and for as long as ye can stand me?” he asked as he raised his eyes to meet mine and then reached again into that pouch and slipped the most beautiful jade bracelet on my wrist and tied it closed. Between the smooth stones of my favorite color, which were each about a half an inch in diameter, were small seashells. I knew before he even told me that they were shells he himself had collected and hand-picked.
“I’m frightened. What if I’m a terrible wife and won’t make you happy? There’s no chance I’ll run away with your heart, but I’m afraid I’ll not handle it well. You know how I am, Razz,” I said as my eyes beamed at his beautiful gifts for only a second before I reached out and took his splendid face in my hands and waited for one of us to say something—anything.
“You are my pearl. I’ve loved you since the first time I saw you. My heart is as big as my fist, and that’s a lot of heart to handle. I believe it can take any punishment you might put it through. But the point is, it’s a risk I’m willing to take,” he finally said.
I fell to my knees in front of him and shouted, “Yes!” again and again as he kissed my face from cheek to cheek, then my forehead to my chin, and then he swept me on top of him on the blanket. His hands pulled me so tightly against him that I began to fear what our first time together might be like. I was afraid the passion he’d suppressed for so long would leave me as no more than a sail battered by a hurricane. I panicked when I felt his hands sliding inside the back of my breeches and gathering my shirt between his fingers. I gasped and jumped off of him.
“What are you doing?”
He leaned upon one elbow and smiled at me. “I believed we’d crossed a threshold tonight, lass. I suppose I should have asked for your permission before I tried to remove your clothes.” He laughed.
“I don’t want to ruin this perfect evening, but I’m not ready yet. I thought I was, but I’m not. I promise, when I am, you’ll be the first to know.”
I knew immediately by the time I was back at the Chandler’s estate and tucked away in my bed, I’d regret this decision. In the end, waiting until I knew the time was right far outweighed a momentary leap over a line in the sand that I could never cross back over. Making love had now become a decision I wanted to make with the greatest of care. Having thrown myself at him before, only to be rejected, I didn’t want to ever rush things with him again.
Rasmus, the ever-patient, ever-strong and constant, wouldn’t be shaken by this rejection. I’d seen him at his best and at his worst and every way in between, and never once did I see any mood or emotion concealed. He’d have never tried to manipulate me through false sentiment or behavior to make me feel I’d disappointed him. I’d thought for a moment I had when he sat up and fell silent, staring at the lagoon but almost instantly, I knew the guilt was mine to bear. He carried on as usual, snuffing out the fire and gathering our things to head for home. I turned and looked back at this beautiful setting and imagined our little cottage. It didn’t take long before I could walk through the door.
Within a week, our quaint home near the beach was well under construction. All of the repairs to the Demon were complete, and she was like a shiny piece of gold. Rasmus had made some modifications, but for the most part, after having been careened, cleaned, and all signs of battle now nothing more than a memory, she was the finest lady in the harbor and looking for a capable crew.
After the battle with the Thunder Cay, some of the younger hands moved on to find work on land. They weren’t pirates as we knew pirates to be, and they certainly weren’t looking for a fight. Rasmus was a captain, not a jailer, and he still to this day refused to name himself as such. Piracy wasn’t in his blood; it came by him through an injection of betrayal and fate, and a man this mighty and absolute wasn’t going to be defined by his circumstances forever.
Unfortunately, I believed he loved me too much to deny me anything I wanted…I wanted the sea. I wanted to explore every aspect of discovering where it would take me, and most of all, I wanted to bring down every name in Barclay’s secret catalog of shame, and I wanted to do it with the man I loved.
Rasmus held tightly to the book and kept it hidden away. I believed he was afraid I’d go running off alone after them, but that wasn’t going to happen. I struggled each day aboard the Demon not to seek it out and memorize every last ship and captain, as well as the young women. Nearly three months had passed since we took down Thunder Cay, and I was aching to sail and get on with our mission. Rasmus wanted us married as soon as possible and refused to set sail with me again until I agreed to the doctoring and keeping what was now my short, scruffy blond head and every other part of me concealed. He also reminded me that I was never to enter his cabin alone. Having not yet felt the man’s love upon my body, I easily agreed.