NOTE: I don't post to this blog super-duper often anymore, because I'm busy writing, well, books. (Read more about that here.) For more up-to-date, day-to-day ramblings, visit my Facebook page.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Celebrate good times, blogfrogs! THE WAND & THE SEA has finally launched!

Order yourself a brand-new copy here

And a salute to you too, Captain Jack, for being only the latest in a long line of charismatic pirates who helped inspire THE WAND & THE SEA. These rogues of the sea have been a lifelong passion of mine. I may even have my own pirate hat. But I'm not telling.

THE WAND & THE SEA by Claire M. Caterer
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2015
384 pp |  ages 8+
fantasy adventure | #2 in THE KEY & THE FLAME series

From Goodreads:
A year has passed since Holly and Ben Shepard have been to England, where they brought their friend Everett to a fantastical realm called Anglielle. Having vowed to return and help the Exiles, Holly, Ben, and Everett are hoping to find their way back to the land ruled by a tyrant king and sorcerer who have outlawed magic.

But when they arrive in Anglielle, they discover things aren’t what they expect: Their friends are imprisoned and the alliance is scattered. Ruthless King Reynard and the sorcerer Raethius are determined to find the very Adepts they exiled in the first place—but why?

It’s up to Holly and the boys to sail to the Isle of Exile and find the Adepts first, but that means enlisting the help of the Water Elementals and a pirate captain with a private agenda. Everett is obsessed with a mysterious locket with a mind of its own, and somehow, no matter where they go, a sinister black-sailed schooner appears on the horizon. With no one to teach her, can Holly master Elemental magic in time to save the Adepts of Anglielle?

This book was a tough write followed by a long wait, but I'm oh so glad it's finally here. And to show my appreciation, I'm giving away a double gift: both THE KEY & THE FLAME and THE WAND & THE SEA--just in case you missed the first book and don't like starting a series in the middle. I totally get that.

(If you already own a copy of THE KEY & THE FLAME and don't know what you'd do with another, we can negotiate another book of your choosing. But don't get greedy until you've won, eh?)

Enter the giveaway below!

1. U.S. AND international entries accepted.
2. Must be 13 years or older to enter (or sucker a parent into entering for you).
3. Winner will be notified by email on July 23, 2015, and must respond within 72 hours or a new winner will be chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Piratical Giveaway

One day to go before the release of THE WAND & THE SEA into bookshops and libraries everywhere! Tomorrow I'll be giving away free copies, but until then, here's another giveaway for a superfun pirate book.

This fun-filled book purports to be the "journal" of one Captain William Lubber, who sailed to find the notorious pirate Arabella Drummond. More than just a story, this book has all the cool stuff you expect from the popular 'Ology series (info per

  • a stunning cover bearing a working compass and glittering gems
  • treasure map with a missing piece--for the canny reader to find
  • multiple flaps, maps, charts, and booklets harboring codes and clues
  • intricate drawings of ships’ interiors
  • a packet of gold dust
  • a pocket sundial
  • a cache of pirate letters, pieces of eight, and a jewel as a final reward

Sound like a blast? Enter below and I'll send the winner his/her very own copy of Pirateology!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Talking Like a Pirate

Of course, everyone knows that September 19 is the official Talk Like a Pirate Day. But what do you say if you're looking to get your free dozen doughnuts from Krispy Kreme? What does it mean to talk like a pirate?

The popular version of the pirate "accent" can be traced to actor Robert Newton, who used his West Country accent in his portrayal of Long John Silver in Walt Disney's Treasure Island (1950). Newton reprised his role in the followup film Long John Silver (1954).

As to the terms pirates used, we don't have any recordings of them, and they didn't exactly keep detailed logs of their raids, robberies, and carousings. But George Choundas, author of The Pirate Primer, has culled examples from famous novels, films, and television shows to give us an idea of where our "pirate talk" originated. The Primer is a wealth of fun information. Here are a few of the colorful oaths Choundas offers up:

curse me for a papistical Spaniard = I'm telling the truth, on my honor; if I'm lying, you can call me a Spaniard 

damn my gizzards! = Relates to one's stomach or innards

may I drink a bowl of brimstone and fire with the devil = May I burn in hell if I'm telling a lie

shiver my timbers! = expression of surprise; refers to the trembling of the ship when hit with a cannonball

And threats:

them that'll die be the lucky ones

There's never a man yet looks me between the eyes and lives to see a good day afterwards.

you'll be meat for the sharks

up the yardarm you'll swing by your thumbs = You'll be hung from the yardarm, which is the crosswise pole supporting a square-rigged sail; often used for hanging 

For more tips on being the chattiest pirate around, check out this handy how-to site. Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me!


What's with all this pirate stuff? We're approaching the Launch Day of THE WAND & THE SEA, in which Holly and the boys are forced to team up with a pirate captain to save the Adepts of Anglielle. Look for it June 23! Read more about the book here. And learn more pirate stuff on the website's new Pirate Lore page!

ship image by Torley. Used by permission via this Creative Commons license.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Pirate's Code--or Just Guidelines?

Only one week to go in the countdown to the publication of THE WAND & THE SEA! In honor of that momentous event, I'll be putting up some piratical posts to whet your whistle. Today, we're talking about the infamous Pirate Code.

more about THE WAND & THE SEA here

Was there really a Pirate's Code? Or were they really more guidelines?

That depends on what sort of pirate you're talking about. Men like Sir Francis Drake did their share of robbing and plundering on the high seas, but thanks to generous monarchs like Elizabeth I, they were called privateers. In other words, they had legal permission to go a-pirating.

A privateer had to abide by strict rules. Otherwise, it would look like the British Crown approved of murder and torture, and that was bad publicity. Instead, the Queen--and anyone else who issued privateers their letters of marque--insisted their privateers act like gentlemen.

But according to Captain Charles Johnson, who wrote a book called A General History of the  Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates in 1724, many true pirates also wrote up a list of rules, known as their code. For instance, Captain Black Bart Roberts's code looked like this:
  1. Every man shall have an equal vote in affairs of moment. He shall have an equal title to the fresh provisions or strong liquors at any time seized, and shall use them at pleasure unless a scarcity may make it necessary for the common good that a retrenchment may be voted.
  2. Every man shall be called fairly in turn by the list on board of prizes, because over and above their proper share, they are allowed a shift of clothes. But if they defraud the company to the value of even one dollar in plate, jewels or money, they shall be marooned. If any man rob another he shall have his nose and ears slit, and be put ashore where he shall be sure to encounter hardships.
  3. None shall game for money either with dice or cards.
  4. The lights and candles should be put out at eight at night, and if any of the crew desire to drink after that hour they shall sit upon the open deck without lights.
  5. Each man shall keep his piece, cutlass and pistols at all times clean and ready for action.
  6. No boy or woman to be allowed amongst them. If any man shall be found seducing any of the latter sex and carrying her to sea in disguise he shall suffer death.
  7. He that shall desert the ship or his quarters in time of battle shall be punished by death or marooning.
  8. None shall strike another on board the ship, but every man's quarrel shall be ended on shore by sword or pistol in this manner. At the word of command from the quartermaster, each man being previously placed back to back, shall turn and fire immediately. If any man do not, the quartermaster shall knock the piece out of his hand. If both miss their aim they shall take to their cutlasses, and he that draw the first blood shall be declared the victor.
Note that the punishment for disobeying the Code was harsh--slit ears, death, or marooning, which means being put ashore on any given island and left to fend for yourself. The Code seemed to be mostly a way for captains to keep order aboard ship than a code of honor, but it served its purpose. And, as Captain Barbossa so astutely points out above, you had to be a pirate for the Pirate's Code to apply.

Love pirate stuff? Check out the website's new Pirate Lore page!

clip above from The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl