Ronald Haines, Author

Immerse Yourself in the Adventure and Romance of Historical Fiction

Category: Writing (page 1 of 2)

Posts related to my writing in general

Writing Again

I’m finally done with the fallout from last year’s Hurricane Matthew and am back to writing again.  After the new roof was (finally) finished on the house earlier this year we started work on the inside. Ceilings re-done, walls fixed, and the whole house interior painted.  Of course, things couldn’t stop there so we re-did the kitchen with new appliances and replaced the windows with hurricane-proof ones (the balcony doors are hurricane-proof french doors).  While on a roll, I then went and rearranged and painted the studio.  In this time frame we also replaced the water heaters in both places (the one at the house failed on Easter Sunday, the one in the studio was preemptively replaced since it was old).  Whew!

Anyhow, I’m all set up again at the studio and am organizing the scribbles and notes I made over these past months and now have several books outlined, so I imagine there will be one or two finished before year end.  I’ve also set up the recording equipment I purchased at the end of last year and plan to try my hand (or voice) at recording my first audio-book shortly.

My focus going forward is continuing to write about the pirates who inhabited these islands almost 300 years ago.   Fascinating details have emerged from my research which puts several of the characters in a new light.  For instance, some of them were organizing a Jacobite fleet to join with other supporters of the Stuart line to attack England in an attempt overthrow King George.   This was probably the real reason behind Blackbeard (Edward Thatch) being considered such a threat and so quickly targeted and eliminated by naval forces.

It is also clear that it wasn’t the tea tax that ticked off the American colonists, it was the attempted British tax on rum; so much so that the pirates of the Bahamas were hired to smuggle it.  Then, when rum manufacturing began in the American colonies, these same pirates ran molasses, the raw ingredient in rum, from French Martinique.  This was a dangerous occupation because Britain and France were at war, meaning that the American colonists were trading with the enemy.  If either the British or the French navy intercepted these ships, all aboard would be immediately hanged.  And on top of that they also had the Spanish navy to deal with.  In spite of these hazards, however, the molasses continued to flow and rum ended up becoming a critical part of the colonial economy.

Lots more to come.

Online again

After hurricane Matthew hit the island on October 6th we went five days without water, 25 days without electricity, and 42 days without cable and connection to the internet.   During this recovery period I was focused on making repairs around the house and re-building my shed which had been completely demolished by the 140 mph winds.   Without the internet I went for over 6 weeks without writing any blog posts or other online activities.

Life on the island is now returning to normal, but this experience did give me the opportunity to reflect and realize how I had fallen back into my old entrepreneurial habits.   At the time the hurricane hit I had been posting a blog every day, was actively participating in internet groups, and was attending several online webinars each week;  all activities aimed at helping promote my books.   This was in addition to writing.  The leisurely writing life that I retired to a year ago was evolving into a business to manage.

Yes, all these activities do increase book sales, but my books also sell quite nicely ‘organically’ by just being available and by word of mouth.  Lifestyle being much more important to me than building another business,  I’m not going to return to these marketing activities and will once again just be writing.

Well, not just writing.  In addition to having my works published in both print and e-books, I am going to expand into audiobooks and will be reading them myself.  I’ve invested in some recording equipment which I’ll be setting up in my studio over the next week, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this turns out.

I’ll let you know my progress in future (but not as frequent) blog posts.

 

Choices and the Pursuit of Happiness

The recognition that human beings are free gives us the individual freedom to make whatever choices we want for our lives. But anyone who embraces their individual freedom must also accept the personal responsibility to make it happen.  Simply wishing for something to happen is not going to do anything; no external force is going to give it to you.  Your life is completely up to you, and you are solely responsible for it.

choices-bridgeWhile you are free to make your own choices, it is obvious that the choices you make will be influenced by the society and culture you are in, and that is fine. The key is to live the life that you want, and many of the things that influenced you prior to this point are important to you so of course you’re going to keep them. The important first step is to describe what the ideal life means to you before you can determine how you are going to get there. This isn’t going to be physical things such as possessions, but about how you want to feel.  Knowing that, you are able to examine the various ways you can achieve those feelings.  This is your goal.  It is then your responsibility to set a plan in motion to get there, to do what it takes, to achieve it.

You may be wondering if taking such action, veering from the path of conformity, is risky. Not at all, the biggest risk is to plod along and end your life with the words, “I wish I had,” on your lips.  Take heart that it isn’t the achievement of the goal that makes you free.  It is the journey, knowing you are in control of your life that makes it so:

Man is a rope stretched between the animal and the Superman — a rope over an abyss. A dangerous crossing, a dangerous wayfaring, a dangerous looking-back, a dangerous trembling and halting. What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal. ~ Frederick Nietzsche

The American founding father, Thomas Jefferson, hit it on the nose when he penned:  “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” in the declaration of independence. Jefferson understood that happiness in life it was all about pursuing one’s goals, not necessarily achieving them.  If you do achieve a particular goal, you will simply have to create another so as to always feel the happiness of freedom.  Your life is all about the choices that you make for it.

Eliminating Stress by Being Authentic

Most people close to me know that I’ve always been an existentialist, and the current non-fiction book I am working on deals with eliminating stress by being authentic in one’s life. Here’s an excerpt from chapter nine:

Other people see us in a ways that we have no access to, and vice-versa. We are first and foremost an object to other people, just as they are to us, and according to Jean-Paul Sartre this is the basis for relationships between individuals to be one of conflict. Other people cannot see us as we really are, so our existence is one thing for us and something else for them.  If we allow the judgment of others to influence us we run the risk of not being authentic and will experience stress as a result, so how can one be a part of the world and live authentically at the same time?  We can try to tell people who we really are, but it is only through our actions and the products of our actions that they will judge us.

Consider a man who is living in a shack on the beach. Other people see this person with a scraggly beard and long hair blowing in the breeze walking around every day and they label him as a beach bum.  They are unaware that it is the daily wandering that drives his inspiration and creativity, and even if he told them that he was a genius working on a new project they would most likely look at him askance and still judge him to be a beach bum.  However, once he publishes a book or produces a painting these people will change their judgment, and from that point on they’ll recognize him as an author or an artist.

It is one thing to see ourselves as artists and tell other people at parties how we have great books or paintings inside us, but quite another to actually be that artist.  That requires us to make choices and act on them.  So whether we remain as inwardly frustrated artists who dress in suits and go to work in an office every day versus living an authentic life and producing art comes down to our accepting individual freedom and making the appropriate choices, in spite of the judgment of others.  It is easy to come up with excuses in order to justify not taking action, but Nietzsche would have considered it weakness to deny ourselves:

“What is good? All that heightens the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself. What is bad? All that is born of weakness. What is happiness? The feeling that power is growing, that resistance is overcome.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

You may well be considered a nonconformist bum when you start out, but those same people who deride your choices will be the first ones with their congratulations on your success and will readily accept what they will then consider your eccentricity. More importantly, you will achieve happiness and be free from the stress of inauthenticity.

A Brief History of Rum in Colonial America

RUM

In 1493 the Spanish introduced sugar cane into the West Indies and enslaved the native populations to work their sugar plantations.  Sugar was produced by crushing the cane, boiling the resulting juices, and then leaving the syrup in clay pots to cure.  A viscous liquid, molasses, was then poured off leaving the pure sugar behind and for every two pounds of sugar produced a pound of molasses was also created.  This industrial waste was fed to slaves and livestock but, with no other practical use for it, most of the molasses was dumped into the ocean.  It was probably the slaves who first realized that if molasses was mixed with the liquid skimmed off the cane juice during boiling and fermented, it produced an intoxicating beverage.  Colonists soon realized that this mixture was an excellent starting point for distillation and by 1650 British planters in Barbados and the French in Martinique began creating a drink called rum in pot stills.  Rum rapidly became the alcoholic beverage of choice in England and colonial America and soon many of the sugar growing islands in the Caribbean were also distilling rum.

TAXATION

In 1733 the British parliament, in an attempt to regulate commerce and collect duties by forcing trade through the ports of Kingston and Nassau, passed the molasses act which imposed a high tax on molasses or rum coming from any non-British island and also made it illegal for the colonies to trade alcoholic beverages directly between one another. The molasses act was not enforced initially and by 1742 England was at war with both France and Spain so there was no worry about the colonies trading with other nations.

When the hostilities with Spain and France ended, however, Britain began to look for additional sources of revenue from the colonies to help pay for the war costs.  Although it provoked much anger amongst the American colonists, enforcement of the molasses act began in 1750.

HOW THE FORMER PIRATES HELPED THE COLONISTS

The end of the war had also brought dire economic consequences for the pirates who had become privateers but had been released from government employment. The more entrepreneurial amongst them, the ones who had fast ships capable of outrunning the British revenue cutters, elected to help the American colonists avoid what they felt were unjustified taxes by smuggling for them.

With the help of the former pirates, American goods were then traded with the ever obliging merchants on Harbour Island, Bahamas, or went directly to Martinique where the rum was cheap.

NEXT BOOK IN THE SERIES

In Rum & Wrecks, which I am currently writing, we find the protagonists from Pirates of the Bahamas becoming rum smugglers, after a harrowing experience with the Spanish regarding salvaging a ship makes Jack realize that smuggling might be safer than wrecking.

Wrecking in the Bahamas in the Eighteenth Century

With so many reefs and shallow waters surrounding the passageways through the Bahamas, many merchant ships were lost there as trade became established between Europe, the West Indies and the American Colonies.  Sailors who encountered a shipwreck would salvage the contents in an activity known as wrecking.  From the time that the Bahamas was first settled in 1648 wrecking was an important activity, growing so much that by 1660 when New Providence was settled many captains had dedicated their vessels to it.  Rather than a passive, opportunistic activity, however, these seamen pursued wrecking aggressively, regarding all salvage as their property, and they were rumored to kill people who inconveniently survived the shipwrecks. They drove Spanish sailors away from Spanish wrecks, and even took goods that the Spanish had already salvaged. Understandably, the Spanish considered these Bahamian wreckers to be pirates, and retaliated by attacking the wreckers’ ships.  The Spanish also made repeated attacks on New Providence to retrieve salvaged property and burned the capital, Charles Town, in 1684.  Charles Town was rebuilt and named Nassau in 1695.

After piracy was eliminated from the Bahamas in the early 1720s the Bahamian government established controls over the wreckers, requiring them to carry salvaged goods to Nassau, where they were auctioned. They also required wreckers to have a government license to do so. However, goods which would be useful on a ship or in a wrecker’s home were often diverted with the government officials turning a blind eye to it.  The wreckers usually received 40% to 60% of the value of the salvaged goods, and many former pirates turned to wrecking as a legal, and very profitable, profession.

Wrecking continued to be a mainstay of the Bahamian economy through most of the 19th century until improved navigation and the building of lighthouses saw the number of wrecks diminish.  In its heyday there were 302 ships and 2,679 men (out of a total population of 27,000) licensed as wreckers in the Bahamas.   Salvaged cargo brought into Nassau in 1856 was valued at £96,304, more than half of all imports to the Bahamas, and more than two-thirds of the exports from the Bahamas were salvaged goods.

Wrecking is featured prominently in the novel I am currently working on, Rum & Wrecks, which will be the second book in the Pirates of the Bahamas series now that I am finished writing the prequel, Love, Lust & Passion, and it has been published.

Love, Lust & Passion book trailer and publishing update

Here’s the book trailer for Love, Lust & Passion:  The Real Story of the Pirate Anne Bonny

The e-book version is life on Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01IU85TYU

And the print version will be available in September, 2016.

The Real Pirate Anne Bonny book is now on Amazon

Download a free copy of the e-book version of Love, Lust & Passion:  The Real Story of the Pirate Anne Bonny , my latest Historical Fiction Novel, from Amazon today and tomorrow (July 24th and 25th).    Please feel free to share, and if you enjoy it please give me a good review.  10-20 five star reviews will help with visibility.

Love, Lust & Passion: The Real Story of the Pirate Anne Bonny

My latest historical novel, Love, Lust & Passion:  The Real Story of the Pirate Anne Bonny, will be available in print in September, 2016 and as an e-book in August, 2016.  Here’s the blurb:

Learn about the real life of Anne Bonny, a teenager who runs away from the confining life of colonial Carolina to Nassau in New Providence, Bahamas hoping to enjoy the lust filled, idealized life of freedom as a pirate, but ends up learning about the costs of that freedom.
While in the Bahamas Anne meets and becomes intimate with Mary Read, whom Anne considers to be the epitome of a woman pirate, and serves with her under the command of Calico Jack Rackham, the last of the golden age pirate captains.  Jack Rackham is a man driven to have all of the adventure, love and lust he can.  To Anne, Jack is the perfect man, and she happily becomes his mistress.

Numerous versions of the pirate life of Anne Bonny have been told over the past three centuries, but few of these stories have considered her from a historical perspective.  Most of them simply re-visit the sensational and titillating tales of a woman serving aboard an eighteenth century pirate ship and take what is generally accepted about her at face value. 
When one considers the historical chronology, however, many of the stories about Anne Bonny do not make sense.  After researching, it is the opinion of this author that much of what has been accepted as fact about Anne Bonny was more likely to have been about another woman pirate, Mary Read.   Anne’s actual story, however, not only makes for a great read, but also makes a lot more sense when one considers the fact that her entire time aboard a pirate ship was only two months.

Researched historical chronology was used as the basis in writing this novel, with license taken by the author to determine the motivations of the characters since they were inferred by him from the facts, and the story line was then created to both fit and explain those facts.   While interesting from a historical perspective, this book also contains both heterosexual and bisexual situations and is therefore not suitable for minors.

The pages in this book tell the real story (truth being defined as the most logical interpretation of the facts) of the pirate life of Anne Bonny.

Please let me know if you would like to review this book and I’ll send you a downloadable e-book free.  I’m hoping to get at least 10-20 five-star reviews.

Additional information about the history is available at www.annebonnyandmaryread.com

 

Pirate Anne Bonny was never on The Ranger with Jack Rackham

There exists a well accepted story of a fierce woman pirate, Anne Bonny, sailing aboard The Ranger, a 12 gun brigantine with a crew of 90 and which was captained by Jack Rackham.  The Ranger was a mighty pirate ship that struck fear throughout the Caribbean.  This is a wonderful story, but it isn’t accurate.  The component parts in the story are true, however.

The Ranger was, indeed, a feared pirate ship, but for most of the time the captain was Charles Vane.  Jack Rackham was the quartermaster until November 26, 1718 when he lead a successful mutiny against Vane and took command.  They then sailed south and captured a large merchant vessel, The Kingston, outside Jamaica on December 11, 1718 and took their prize to Isla de la Pinos, an island south of Cuba which served as Rackham’s pirate base.  However, angry merchants in Jamaica hired mercenaries who took the ship back shortly after, although the pirates were able to take a good deal of the booty ashore prior.  Then, on February 19, 1719, a Spanish warship on patrol sighted The Ranger and destroyed it the next day.  Anne Bonny never even saw The Ranger.

There was a woman on board with Jack Rackham, but it was not Anne Bonny.  It was Mary Read, whom Rackham has recruited from a ship they attacked in May of 1718.  At the time it was thought Mary was a man, she was dressed as a soldier and was good with a sword, but her sex was soon discovered and she became attached to Jack, such that when he took command she became the captain’s woman.

Anne Bonny at this time had just arrived in Nassau with James Bonny, her new husband, who would later become a government informer on the pirates, which would end up causing a rift in their marriage.   Anne would meet Jack Rackham in 1720 and would later go to sea with him, and Mary Read, but it would be on a four gun sloop, The William, with a crew of 12.

More about this in the upcoming novel, Love Lust and Passion:  The Real Story of Anne Bonny and Mary Read.

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