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Let’s Talk Pirates

Posted by on September 19, 2012

As today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, I thought it would be the perfect time for me to write about the novel I’ve been working on for the last… let’s say 19 months.

It started out in February 2011 as a short film screenplay that I’d intended to film with a friend in Hawaii. He and I had been talking about wanting to film a short film together, having already worked together on a music video. For Valentine’s Day, my husband gave me some cool velvet sleeves that made me think “pirate,” and I ended up posting pictures of the beginnings of a pirate costume. R Kevin ended up suggesting I could play a pirate in the short film I was to write, and so the idea was formed. I posted the screenplay online as part of a competition I was then involved with, so I got so many encouraging comments, including:
“I would watch this show every day.”
“Loved this! It’s another story you could flesh out into something more :)”
“Hot, time-traveling she-pirates? What time and channel is this on???”
“You are planning to continue this, yes? Please?”

A lot of this feedback threw me a little because I hadn’t planned on extending the story at all. But people wanted to see more? I considered it a while, and then nearly two months later I ended up with an opportunity to write and share a followup screenplay. Here are a selection of the comments I received then:
“I am looking forward to seeing how this progresses. Hopefully we’ll find out what lead her to piracy in the first place, because I’m beyond curious.” — Jeremiah Murphy (my editor)
“I really like these two characters – I look forward to another installment!”
“Okay, so the ending just made me go HAH! and clap my hands and exclaim “you have to read this!!” to my gf XD” — Sally Elliott (one of the people I’m dedicating the book to)
“this was such fun! I loved it! Jaclyn is such a great character, I can’t help but love her!”

Jeremiah’s comment above is what sparked me to switch to prose and write about Jaclyn’s past just a couple of weeks later. Again I received more comments about people enjoying the characters and seeing more from the world. How could I not continue to write more? I only wrote one more instalment as part of the competition, which I then had to edit for the competition. I continued to edit it after the vote that week, and that instalment became the basis for chapter 4, since it got expanded so much. Both of these prose pieces had been influenced by Sally’s own writing (and the first had also been influenced by my friend Kristen; that week, we had to work as a ‘threesome.’) The screenplays became the basis for chapter 1, and that first prose piece was turned into chapter 2, after many additions and edits.

After I was voted out of the competition, I continued to use the prompts to write other short narrative pieces set in Jaclyn’s world, which ended up in different parts of the novel. It was only after the competition ended that I’d really been prompted to turn those pieces into an actual novel-length story. This was about August last year. I’d been talking to Jeremiah more regularly, and started adapting the screenplays to prose. Then I visited him in Washington, D.C., and on International Talk Like a Pirate Day a year ago, I walked around the city dressed as my main character, Jaclyn Rousseau. She visited the Air and Space museum, as well as a Sports Tavern, and I ended up writing about these experiences in the book (though not in the exact order).

After I returned home from that trip, I started thinking more about outlining the story, so I knew what the basic plot points would be, and I knew how it was going to end. It took many more months of writing around the things I had already written, sending pieces off to people for feedback, and editing based on that.

From about December or January onwards, both Jeremiah and my husband Jeremy became my regular readers. When I finished a chapter, they’d both get a copy, and then we’d discuss the chapter and what worked, and what needed to be fixed. For me, I enjoyed editing the novel as I went.


What you might like to know about the novel

Title: Adrift

* Back-of-the-book blurb:
Like many twenty-somethings, Jaclyn Rousseau doesn’t know what she really wants out of life, and is struggling to carve out a place for herself in the world. She finds herself floating more aimlessly than usual after losing her lover and ends up so far from home – 350 years away.
Set in two separate centuries – the 17th and 21st – Adrift sees Jaclyn exploring the world in order to find out who she is and what she believes in.

* The genre is most likely speculative fiction, and/or historical/contemporary fantasy. Even though there is time-travel, I wouldn’t classify it as sci-fi. The ‘fantasy’ part includes mermaids. I built up a lot of my own mermaid lore based on minimal existing mermaid lore, kind of like how vampire lore has been changed over the years.

* The story is character driven rather than plot driven.

* Jaclyn is a pirate, but though there are pirate scenes/chapters, it isn’t just a pirate story. Like I’ve said; she travels into her future (ie, 2011). The year is significant because she encounters (fictional) people from Occupy Wall Street, but I won’t go into the details as to why. Spoilers!

* Though I wanted to write a mainstream type story, I deliberately included minority characters. By that I mean a significant chunk of the characters are either not white or not straight. Jaclyn is one of the not straight characters.

* There are adult scenes and coarse language, which I figure I should warn people about because not everyone likes to read those sorts of things.


I finished the entirety of the first draft on the evening of the 8th of this month. Since then, I’ve been discussing what needs to be edited, and making those changes. I am aiming to be done with my editing by the end of the month so that I can send it back to Jeremiah in its entirety. As he’s a professional editor, he has offered to properly and professionally edit the book for me, as well as doing it free of charge.

Despite this, I would like to compensate Jeremiah for his work in some way. For the length of the story, I should be paying him close to $1,000. So when I set up my crowdfunding campaign, looking for contributors to help me with marketing costs by setting it up essentially as a pre-order system, I will be offering t-shirts that Jeremiah designed, and plan to give him the profits of those sales.

Let’s talk campaign. Since I am setting it up like a pre-order system, I will be offering the ebook and paperback for the same price as you would get it once it’s officially released, but there’s an added benefit. You will also get it before the release date, and you will additionally get a copy of the original screenplays in PDF files.

On top of that, and aside from the t-shirt, here are some things I will likely be offering for different reward tiers:
* Personal thank you
* Public thanks on my blog
* Postcard from Malaysia
* Autographed copy of the paperback
* PDF of a short story about the mermaid character
* Interview (in writing) me as Jaclyn for video blog
* Autographed photo of me as Jaclyn
* Jaclyn photobook (PDF)
* Jaclyn photobook (hard copy)

If you can think of anything else you might be interested in seeing as a reward, let me know in the comments!


Adrift is set to be released by Solarwyrm Press, a publishing collective I am involved in developing with fellow writer Jax Goss. We have invited other writers to be part of the group, but I can’t yet discuss what else may be released through us. The idea of having this collective is to pool our talents together so we can help each other release more professional looking self-published books, as well as having a central place to promote each other’s books, since we are likely to share a lot of the same audience.

For more information about Jaclyn Rousseau and Adrift, like when I’ll be starting the campaign and releasing the book, please follow Jaclyn Rousseau on Facebook.

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Dominica has a strong interest in exploring diversity in media, seeing people subverting corporate control of creativity through crowdfunding and indie publishing, and spending as much time as she can travelling the world and discovering culture. This is what she most regularly blogs about. In her spare time, Dominica is primarily focused on long-form improv theatre, and writing and publishing speculative fiction. You can find links to some of her free and published stories and screenplays on her writing page, or check out her pirate time-travel novel Adrift. Though born and raised in Australia to American parents, Dominica lived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, between 2008-2014, until she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. She also has a background in web programming, filmmaking, and stand-up comedy. For more information, check out her about page, or any of the specific pages about her various creative pursuits in the links at the top of the page.

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