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, 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!