A swashbuckler set in the West Indies of the early 19th Century, THE WITCH FROM THE SEA is a love story, a coming-of-age adventure and an eccentric comedy of manners about a woman who runs with the pirates to free herself from the conventional "rules" of gender, race and class.

Tory Lightfoot, an orphan of mixed white and Mohawk blood, flees the stifling gentility of 1823 Boston for the freedom of the open sea. But the merchant ship on which she stows away is boarded by pirates off the coast of Cuba, and Tory is forced to join the pirate crew to save her life. Making herself useful as both log-keeper and spy, she begins to earn a measure of the independence she craves. But fate, fever and the relentless U. S. Navy West Indian Squadron close in, and Tory must risk her hard-won freedom to save the man she loves.
"I highly recommend this book to any lover of historical fiction."
— The Historical Novel Society Review
"The Witch From The Sea is that rare creation, an historical romance with guts as well as glamour. Wild-spirited Tory is an irresistible character."
— Nautical historian Joan Druett (She-Captains; Hen Frigates)
"I am in love with this book. A+."
Reading Rocks / YA Fiction Review

Sunday, July 23, 2017


That charming scalawag, Phil Johnson, proprietor of the salty piratical podcast, Under The Crossbones, interviewed me last year about my contributions to pirate lore, Alias Hook, and The Witch From the Sea.

Last week, he reached the milestone of Episode 100! And he generously invited me to participate in the celebration with a brief update on what I've been up to since.

And I wasn't the only one. This graphic hints at some of the novelists, historians, and musicians he's had on the air who are filling him in on what's new with their various swashbuckling enterprises.

So, hoist the colors, and let's wish Phil fair winds and fortune for his next 100 episodes!

Saturday, June 24, 2017


Okay, this image has nothing to do with my book!

There is no moment when candle smoke rises up in the shape of a sailing ship to lure Tory out to sea. (Although, maybe there should have been — if only I'd thought of it!)

This is just a random image I found while cruising the cyberseas, which I posted on my Pinterest page for The Witch.

But isn't it cool!

It captures perfectly the spirit of adventure and romance, along with the dark undercurrent of longing, that inspires Tory's adventures!

(Sadly, I have no idea where this image comes from, but I'll post the info if I ever find out.)

Sunday, April 16, 2017


Those who follow me in my day job as a movie critic know that I have a thing about dolls.

On Oscar Night, I have been known to dress up Barbies as the Best Actress nominees.

But as a writer of fiction, I love to create doll versions of my characters.

Finding the dolls at the Goodwill or junk shops, making appropriate clothes for them, and, okay, adulterating them as necessary (facial hair, etc.), is the next best thing to writing them, for me.

There's something so cool about seeing them in 3D!

So here are the dolls I did for The Witch From the Sea. It took me forever to find a brown-eyed doll with the appropriate skin tone for Tory, and a brown-eyed male doll with rooted hair (not painted-on) for Jack.

(Although I had to but some extra doll hair and add his sailor's pony-tail myself.)

The Matty doll was a gift. Rooted blond hair and sky-blue eyes, he came in the original Disney/Mattel Beauty and the Beast set; this was the doll under the Beast outfit!

It's funny that I had to deconstruct a Beast doll to get my Matty — since my next novel is actually about Beast!

(Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge, coming from Candlewick, March 6, 2018.)

But that's another blog!