Sunday, June 23, 2024

What We're Writing: Ghosts Pirates! by Jenn McKinlay

 JENN McKINLAY: I am polishing up the first draft of my first run at writing a fantasy novel entitled BOOKS OF DUBIOUS ORIGIN (coming 2025). It's very fun as it's a fairly new genre and the rules are not yet set. As in, the only limit appears to be my imagination which is both intimidating and thrilling!

I was doing my final read through the other day and I hit a scene that felt flat when all of a sudden...ghost pirates! 



BOOKS OF DUBIOUS ORIGIN excerpt

     “Zoe, about last night,” Jasper said. 

     No, no, no. I didn’t want to talk about this. The potential for more embarrassment was too probable. Should I pretend I couldn’t hear him? Interrupt him with some other talking point? Listen to him? Ugh, I was so bad at all of this. This was why I was happily single and not dating excluding short lived hookups. Anything longer and I would inevitably humiliate myself.

     “I didn’t mean to leave you so abruptly,” he said. Even his charming British accent couldn't soften the words.

     Jasper was talking to the back of my head. I didn’t want to turn around. I didn’t want to see his pale gaze filled with pity at the lonely librarian who’d been hitting on him. I hadn’t been but if I denied it now, he’d think I was trying to save face—which was even more mortifying. A motion outside the window of the ferry boat drew my peripheral vision. I turned and felt my heart drop into my shoes.

     “I was unforgivably rude, displaying the sort of boorish manners—”

     “Pirate!” I yelped.

     “Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that,” Jasper protested.

     I whipped around to face him and all thought of our previous evening’s awkwardness vanished. I glanced around the nearly empty lounge and pulled him down by the lapels of his freshly laundered coat. 

     His eyes went wide, his face mere inches from mine. “Zoe, I—”

     “Listen, I don’t want to panic the passengers but there is a ghost pirate ship floating above the water headed right for us.”

     Jasper turned his head slowly to the window. His eyebrows shot up and he muttered, “Bloody hell!”


Yeah, so that happened. The scene is definitely more exciting, at least to me. Now I just have to figure out how one gets rid of ghost pirates? Suggestions?




79 comments:

  1. Oh, wow . . . this is terrific, Jenn!
    Sadly, however, I am absolutely clueless when it comes to ideas for getting rid of ghosts . . . .

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  2. I love that scary picture of the ghost-infested pirate ship! Now, how to rescue Zoe and Jasper . . .hmm. I'm going to assume that Zoe isn't seeing this pirate ship coming down the street in Boston or London, but that she and Jasper are on a ship somewhere and she's looking out the lounge window out to sea. I think she'd better use one of those books of dubious origin to conjure a ship full of the pirates' ghostly enemies to fight them. Or is she good at fire spells? Not that a ghostly pirate ship and its sailors can really be burned, but maybe it could be made to vanish temporarily while she and Jasper figure out what to do next!

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    1. Whoops. I read too fast and missed the reference to the ferry boat! Sorry. Thanks for setting me straight, Grace!

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    2. Fire? I like fire (fictionally), Kim!

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  3. Awesome! But I don't have enough information yet about Zoe and her powers to figure out the ghost pirates. I know you will, though.

    Molly MacRae has a great new series out with a single pirate ghost, who she ends up being friends with. Welcome yours into the community?

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  4. Cue the theme from Pirates of the Caribbean!

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  5. Ghost pirates?!
    Hmmm, a ferry boat does not have a cannon. So what would scare them away?
    SHADES OF SCOOBY-DOO cartoons!

    We'll see if Blogger lets me post this comment...I got an error message twice.

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  6. I can think of so many embarrassing moments with guys when the appearance of ghost pirate ships would have been just the ticket.

    Jenn, you don't have to do anything with them yet. It can be one of several strange phenomenon Zoe encounters, it can become a major part of the plot which necessitates action, it can be a foreshadowing of action later. You get to decide. Two questions: Why is it there? How can I use it? (You've got this!)

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  7. I have no suggestions for vanquishing a ghost pirate ship, but I love the imagery! As you said, the only limitations are your imagination which seems pretty robust. I do like KimHaysBern’s thoughts on the subject…. — Pat S

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    1. Me, too! Kim is clearly one to have on hand in an emergency.

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  8. Jasper sees it too, right? So figuring out what to do could get them past the awkwardness she felt and pull her in a romantic way even while she's scared of the pirates?

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    1. There's a long tail on this relationship -- I hope.

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  9. A ghost ship is such a compelling image. So there you have it, can't look away...and now what? Looking forward to see what you do with it!

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  10. Maybe the ghost ship is a recurring thing that signals something else . Regardless, this story sounds fun and, as Judy Singer says, You've Got This!

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    1. Thank you, Amanda. I am rather fond of the pirates now...hmm.

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  11. Yes, I agree with the others: great fun, and so much freedom to go anywhere with it.

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  12. Really fun! Maybe Jasper (great name BTW, a favorite genre-bending fantasy author of mine is a Brit named Jasper Fforde) could share a story about ghost pirate ships that his granny told him when he was a wee lad, and the ship could drift away this time and then return later on,

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  13. Love it! Ancient curse will solve the problem.

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  14. Ah, but is the ghost ship and its pirates a threat to the ferry? Is there something ELSE Zoe and Jasper are about to see? Unleash that imagination full-throttle, Jenn!

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  15. Everyone above is absolutely correct - there are so many interesting possibilities! But they are also correct when they say they know you will pull it off splendidly!

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  16. Oh, love this. Can't wait to read the entire book. As for ridding yourself of Pirates, why? Simply have the ghost ship merge into your ship and disappear. Ghostly collisions leave no damage. It would be a great opportunity to have a pirate jump his ship for your's and take up residence in the...ship's library, or better yet, the bar. Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum

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    1. Ooo, good one, Kait. The resident ghost-pirate-barfly.

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    2. A ship’s library sounds awesome, Kait.

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    3. The pirate will have to return, for certain!

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  17. From Diana: Sounds intriguing, Jenn! Is the librarian on the ferry boat going to Martha’s Vineyard when she meets the ghost pirate?

    Why get rid of the ghost pirate? Borrowing from the tv series BEWITCHED, perhaps the librarian consults a friend who is a witch and asks for advice? Or the Librarian looks for a book about ghosts in the library.

    Ideas: Perhaps the ghost pirate needs help solving a mystery? If the ghost pirate was alive during the Salem Witch Trials, then perhaps he needs the librarian’s help finding a Deed of Trust? To prove that his sister’s family lost the farm during the Witch Trials and that the farm was stolen ?

    Or the Ghost Pirate wants the librarian to find buried treasure that he and his fellow pirates buried centuries ago?

    Another idea: The librarian’s great great great grandmother was in love with the ghost pirate when he was alive but she had to marry the man her family chose for her. They had children, including the great great grandmother of the librarian. And the librarian looks like a doppelg√§nger for her 3 times great grandmother.

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    1. WOW! Diana, you are on fire today! I love all of these. Will have to mull it over.

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  18. Hank Phillippi RyanJune 23, 2024 at 10:00 AM

    They are coming to the rescue? They are actually good, and they are bringing Information? The captain is Jasper’s great great great grandfather. Or grandmother? I cannot wait to find out! (how did they get to be ghosts in the first place? Maybe that’s important…) love this, Jenn , you are amazing!

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    1. From Diana: Love your idea about the Captain, Hank!

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    2. Great minds, Hank! I am leaning the way you suggested but won't share because...spoilers!

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  19. Is the ferry in England? Maybe Zoe did able to have a quick seance and request assistance from Admiral Nelson.

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    1. From Diana: Great idea about Admiral Nelson, Deana

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    2. Love it. Sadly, not in England but if we role into a series...

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  20. Well done Jenn! So there is the mystery of the relationship, then about what happened "last night", and the pirate ship approaching. And I love the title - Books of Dubious Origin.

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    1. Agreed that is a great title, Anonymous

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  21. I can’t wait to read this! She’s a librarian. There must be a book on pirate attacks in the area and she can see who or what repelled them She needs the descendent of the man who sank their ship

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    1. From Diana: Great ideas about books on pirate attacks, what repelled them and the descendant of the man who sank their ship, Rhys!

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    2. They are in fact going to a library on the island. Brilliant, Rhys.

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  22. How do you get rid of ghost pirates?

    Easy...who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!

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  23. Ghost pirates are attracted by gold foiled covered chocolate coins, right? Oh wait, maybe that's just me.

    Looking forward to this!

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    1. LOL!!! Me, too! Give me all the chocolate coins!

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  24. How many pirates are on the ship? Did they die tragically? Are they friendly? Can they use some help? If so, what kind of help? Are they going to haunt present-day pirate ships?
    I don’t know what you’re going to do with Zoe and Jasper now that the pirates are on the scene, but I can’t wait to read the book!

    DebRo

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  25. Find out if they're doomed to wander through the air until the Captain can find a woman willing to marry him. Solves the problem, plus you've got your secondary couple romance right there.

    Yes, it's ripping off Wagner, but he stole it first.

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    1. Julia, snort! I love this blog!!
      Still laughing!

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    2. LOL - brilliant, Julia. And, yes, EVERYTHING is derivative including the Flying Dutchman so what the heck?

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    3. From Diana : Love the idea of the Flying Dutchman, Jenn and Julia!

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  26. Are Captain Hook and Mr Smee on board? Maybe they need help fleeing that pesky crocodile.

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  27. Well, a ghost ship is certainly an exciting element! Perhaps, it's just the first of different aberrations Zoe and Jasper encounter, and they have to put them together to figure out what they mean, like a puzzle. That would certainly override any awkwardness they had coming into this conversation. What message are these aberrations sending?

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    1. Very good, Kathy! I like the idea that they have to deal with many "otherly" messages - Ack! So much fun to write. Thank you!

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  28. What if these are pirates who choose to be ghosts destined to assist boats in distress? Their choice was that or being chained to a ship on the bottom of a sea so deep no submersible or underwater rover could ever reach them? I love this and am hooked now, waiting to see how you resolve this. Does she travel on the ferry often? Are the ghosts drawn to her or simply because the ferry that is about to encounter a smaller craft with teens who think they are invincible and dare each other to not jump ship? Oops, got a bit carried away there! -- Victoria

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  29. Great ideas, Victoria

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  30. Yikes! That image reminds me of when I attended Harry Potter and Cursed Child...and the Dementors were floating right in front of us in the balcony. Brrrr..........

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  31. This sounds like an awesome series! So many good ideas!

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  32. You could have a convention of literary pirates.. How about the Pirates of Penzance joining them for a sing a long, throw in Long John Silver and they can all get together and have a pirate fest or feast.
    Doesn’t Key West have a pirate history? Maybe they are arriving because they ran out of provisions. Maybe Lucy/Roberta could add a geographical connection and after they have eaten their fill they will leave on their own.

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  33. Sorry, no suggestions, but this sounds good.

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  34. Congratulations! Sounds terrific!! Keep up the good work.

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