Caribbean

CREATING A SCREENPLAY

I have probably seen thousands of movies in my life; it’s a passion of mine. And I’ve always liked historical stories. I must have learned something from all that watching and absorbing. I knew it would be challenging, but I was up to writing a script, I thought.

Before I sat down to write my screenplay on 16th century English sea captain, Sir Francis Drake, I needed to do some historical research. And how the heck would I write a screenplay? In the 1990s I’d never seen a script before or even been curious about how to create one.

Relying on CARIBBEAN, the book that had excited me to begin with, I was disappointed to discover that James Michener’s sagas weren’t entirely accurate: all those huge tomes about Hawaii, the Middle East, Alaska, Texas, Colorado, etc. Since he didn’t call them histories, he felt free to fictionalize. It made for a simpler story since real life is never tidy, although reel life is! James Michener didn’t even work as hard as I had presumed: he had his own research team.

Michener’s story about Drake was so tidy he created a neat rivalry between Drake, the English privateer, and a Spanish official of some high rank. In the 16th century, Spain was the ruler of the Old World and the New World: my story of Drake’s saga took place some years before England’s defeat of the Spanish Armada. The Michener story was entertaining and neatly handled even though the Spanish enemy didn’t exist (he was a conglomerate of many Spanish ship captains, officials, etc.). Drake made lots of Spanish enemies before he was through robbing their gold, jewels, and various battleships.

After I’d been lent a few sample screenplays, and a book about creating them, I was soon happily engaged in writing–lots of instructions about NIGHT, DAY, FADE IN, FADE OUT and what sort of emotion was on whose face, not to mention setting the scene. Aiming for a standard page count (at least then) of 120 pages, I was confident and joyful.

My creative partner, Dudley Hood, and I had met more than a few people industriously working or aspiring to work in the entertainment industry. It was relatively easy to interest people in helping to create a potential movie, TV program, etc. In LA, many of us live on dreams of stardom and success, and there are always a few who do realize their dreams, even in spectacular fashion.

I can no longer remember if Jan, our associate, was involved with costumes, set dressing or what, but she had been in the film industry for a few years and was making a living at it. She was an encouraging, enthusiastic kind of person as well as intelligent. Our project must have sounded feasible.

I could hardly wait for her to take a look at my creative efforts. I’d put a lot of work into my script and I was brimming with pride.

When we met after she’d read it, I eagerly awaited her verdict. I was sure I had a good beginning and I even liked my dialog.

“Where’s the conflict?” she asked me gently. “Every film has a conflict.”

“It’s got plenty of conflict,” I replied, defensively. “Drake’s always fighting this battle or that one.”

“It’s a dramatic technique to keep the audience interested. The work has to focus on a primary conflict of some kind as it builds to a climax and the conflict is resolved, one way or another,” she told me gently. “You also don’t want to lose your viewer in all sorts of unnecessary details.”

My screenplay was just history with a few flourishes.  Maybe Michener was more right than I gave him credit for.

Back to the drawing board, I thought ruefully. It wasn’t so simple after all. In the next couple of years, I rewrote my screenplay eight times. I even received encouraging reviews!

MELAYNIE’S MASQUERADE–HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Every few weeks I must remind myself that one of the reasons I write this blog is to promote my books, long and short, especially my historical fiction Melaynie’s Masquerade. I’m offering a teaser about the first stirrings of romance between Melaynie, an English girl, and Bernardino, a Spaniard.  I published my book on Amazon as an Ebook. The link to Amazon is in the upper right of this page or follow the link which will also show the other small books I’ve written: http://amazon.com/author/victoriagiraud

My book is full of true adventure (Essentially, only my heroine and her family are fictional) and romance. I’ve even written a couple of sex scenes. After all, the 50 Shades books are all the rage!  Read below for a sample of the romance that develops:

 

With Drake’s humorous admonition to be careful with their guest, Melaynie carried a lantern to show Bernardino to his private tent at evening’s end.

In the light of a bright moon, whose rays poured through the wide opening of the small quarters, Bernardino found and immediately sat down on the portable cot. Tired from the day’s excitement and mellowed to the point of sleepiness by the wine, he languidly watched as the young captain’s boy placed the lantern on an empty cask, thinking as he watched of his young sister.  Why was he thinking of his sister; was it the way this young boy moved, or simply the beauty of youth?

He leaned back and began to remove his doublet, welcoming the cooler night air on his skin.  Remembering the music and the caress of the night breeze, he felt relaxed and sensual. Melaynie’s body and face were profiled in the moonlight.  What a lovely young boy, Bernardino reflected  as he studied the fine facial features and golden hair. He lazily watched the lantern’s flickering light, his feelings of arousal fanned by its glow. How agreeable it would have been to have a woman to love, an appropriate climax to a congenial evening.

Framed by the moonlight, the boy continued to stand, leaning toward the lantern, like a moth to the flame, his eyes mesmerized by the flame. From his angle lounging on the cot, Bernardino noticed the boy’s cream-colored shirt had flared outward as he stood there. The material was diaphanous enough that the lantern’s light revealed his naked chest. Bernardino smiled at the pretty picture it made, and then narrowed his eyes, looking again closely, as he sat up slowly, uncertain that what he saw was true.

The lantern had highlighted a pair of delicate breasts, whose outline was clear enough through the linen shirt. This was no boy; he saw the evidence. The breasts were small, but they were present. Had no one else in this English company noticed?  Men could be dense; he had seen how she had been treated as her costume defined her.  A turmoil of feelings assaulted him at this revelation, the excitement of the mystery of her only heightening his stimulated senses. He struggled to compose himself, to dampen his growing ardor, to quiet his racing mind.

Had he been intrigued because some instinct told him of her true gender?  Whatever the mystical reasons, she must not guess he had seen her secret. Searching his mind for clues, he quickly surmised her subterfuge had been well hidden until now and that she was probably older than he had supposed. What had caused this young woman to carry off this masquerade; was she possessed by some unusual traits, a woman who felt herself truly a man? Or was it simply an adventure she sought, a desire to break from the traditional female role in her society?  Did she feel he was a threat; was that why she had spilled the wine earlier? These turbulent thoughts raced through his mind in mere seconds.

Mel book cover 0

 

MELAYNIE’S MASQUERADE — A TEASER

Adventures on the sea are always popular. Two new films–“Captain Philips” with Tom Hanks and “All is Lost” with Robert Redford are bound to capture lots of interest. I’ve always enjoyed that genre in movies and books, just as I enjoyed my own adventures on a US Navy ship in the Mediterranean and across the Atlantic Ocean back in the 1950s.

Writing a novel, especially in the historical fiction genre, is a daunting task. A few years ago I took on the challenge. I had always loved history and for many years had attended Renaissance Pleasure Faires in Southern California. I knew something about Shakespeare since I was an English major in college and had seen many Shakespeare plays and films. It seemed liked a natural thing to do. Besides, I’d already written a screenplay about Francis Drake, the English sea captain who was known for his pirate activities against the Spanish in the Caribbean in the 16th century. Since it was damn difficult to finance a movie, especially a sea epic, I had the brilliant idea of taking the elements of the script, add a fictional heroine and, presto, I’d have a book. A lot of effort went into more historical research and almost five years later I had a book. After all that time and no luck finding an agent right away, I was impatient to have it published. I chose the self-publishing route when the idea was fairly new and easy. Since then I’ve also published it on Amazon as an Ebook. The link to Amazon is in the upper right of this page or follow the link: http://amazon.com/author/victoriagiraud

My book is full of true adventure (Essentially, only my heroine and her family are fictional) and romance. I’ve even written a couple of sex scenes. After all the 50 Shades books are all the rage!  See below for a teaser about the romance that develops:

 

With Drake’s humorous admonition to be careful with their guest, Melaynie carried a lantern to show Bernardino to his private tent at evening’s end.

In the light of a bright moon, whose rays poured through the wide opening of the small quarters, Bernardino found and immediately sat down on the portable cot. Tired from the day’s excitement and mellowed to the point of sleepiness by the wine, he languidly watched as the young captain’s boy placed the lantern on an empty cask, thinking as he watched of his young sister.  Why was he thinking of his sister; was it the way this young boy moved, or simply the beauty of youth?

He leaned back and began to remove his doublet, welcoming the cooler night air on his skin.  Remembering the music and the caress of the night breeze, he felt relaxed and sensual. Melaynie’s body and face were profiled in the moonlight.  What a lovely young boy, Bernardino reflected  as he studied the fine facial features and golden hair. He lazily watched the lantern’s flickering light, his feelings of arousal fanned by its glow. How agreeable it would have been to have a woman to love, an appropriate climax to a congenial evening.

Framed by the moonlight, the boy continued to stand, leaning toward the lantern, like a moth to the flame, his eyes mesmerized by the flame. From his angle lounging on the cot, Bernardino noticed the boy’s cream-colored shirt had flared outward as he stood there. The material was diaphanous enough that the lantern’s light revealed his naked chest. Bernardino smiled at the pretty picture it made, and then narrowed his eyes, looking again closely, as he sat up slowly, uncertain that what he saw was true.

The lantern had highlighted a pair of delicate breasts, whose outline was clear enough through the linen shirt. This was no boy; he saw the evidence. The breasts were small, but they were present. Had no one else in this English company noticed?  Men could be dense; he had seen how she had been treated as her costume defined her.  A turmoil of feelings assaulted him at this revelation, the excitement of the mystery of her only heightening his stimulated senses. He struggled to compose himself, to dampen his growing ardor, to quiet his racing mind.

Had he been intrigued because some instinct told him of her true gender?  Whatever the mystical reasons, she must not guess he had seen her secret. Searching his mind for clues, he quickly surmised her subterfuge had been well hidden until now and that she was probably older than he had supposed. What had caused this young woman to carry off this masquerade; was she possessed by some unusual traits, a woman who felt herself truly a man? Or was it simply an adventure she sought, a desire to break from the traditional female role in her society?  Did she feel he was a threat; was that why she had spilled the wine earlier? These turbulent thoughts raced through his mind in mere seconds.

Mel book cover 0

 

MELAYNIE’S MASQUERADE SAMPLE

Writing a novel, especially in the historical fiction genre, is a daunting task. A few years ago I took on the challenge. I had always loved history and for many years had attended Renaissance Pleasure Faires in Southern California. I knew something about Shakespeare since I was an English major in college and had seen many Shakespeare plays and films. It seemed liked a natural thing to do. Besides, I’d already written a screenplay about Francis Drake, the English sea captain who was known for his pirate activities against the Spanish in the Caribbean in the 16th century. Since it was damn difficult to finance a movie, especially a sea epic, I had the brilliant idea of taking the elements of the script, add a fictional heroine and, presto, I’d have a book. A lot of effort went into more historical research and almost five years later I had a book. After all that time and no luck finding an agent right away, I was impatient to have it published. I chose the self-publishing route when the idea was fairly new and easy. Since then I’ve also published it on Amazon as an Ebook. The link to Amazon is in the upper right of this page or follow the link: http://amazon.com/author/victoriagiraud

My book is full of true adventure (Essentially, only my heroine and her family are fictional) and romance. I’ve even written a couple of sex scenes. After all the 50 Shades books are all the rage!  See below for a teaser about the romance that develops:

 

With Drake’s humorous admonition to be careful with their guest, Melaynie carried a lantern to show Bernardino to his private tent at evening’s end.

In the light of a bright moon, whose rays poured through the wide opening of the small quarters, Bernardino found and immediately sat down on the portable cot. Tired from the day’s excitement and mellowed to the point of sleepiness by the wine, he languidly watched as the young captain’s boy placed the lantern on an empty cask, thinking as he watched of his young sister.  Why was he thinking of his sister; was it the way this young boy moved, or simply the beauty of youth?

He leaned back and began to remove his doublet, welcoming the cooler night air on his skin.  Remembering the music and the caress of the night breeze, he felt relaxed and sensual. Melaynie’s body and face were profiled in the moonlight.  What a lovely young boy, Bernardino reflected  as he studied the fine facial features and golden hair. He lazily watched the lantern’s flickering light, his feelings of arousal fanned by its glow. How agreeable it would have been to have a woman to love, an appropriate climax to a congenial evening.

Framed by the moonlight, the boy continued to stand, leaning toward the lantern, like a moth to the flame, his eyes mesmerized by the flame. From his angle lounging on the cot, Bernardino noticed the boy’s cream-colored shirt had flared outward as he stood there. The material was diaphanous enough that the lantern’s light revealed his naked chest. Bernardino smiled at the pretty picture it made, and then narrowed his eyes, looking again closely, as he sat up slowly, uncertain that what he saw was true.

The lantern had highlighted a pair of delicate breasts, whose outline was clear enough through the linen shirt. This was no boy; he saw the evidence. The breasts were small, but they were present. Had no one else in this English company noticed?  Men could be dense; he had seen how she had been treated as her costume defined her.  A turmoil of feelings assaulted him at this revelation, the excitement of the mystery of her only heightening his stimulated senses. He struggled to compose himself, to dampen his growing ardor, to quiet his racing mind.

Had he been intrigued because some instinct told him of her true gender?  Whatever the mystical reasons, she must not guess he had seen her secret. Searching his mind for clues, he quickly surmised her subterfuge had been well hidden until now and that she was probably older than he had supposed. What had caused this young woman to carry off this masquerade; was she possessed by some unusual traits, a woman who felt herself truly a man? Or was it simply an adventure she sought, a desire to break from the traditional female role in her society?  Did she feel he was a threat; was that why she had spilled the wine earlier? These turbulent thoughts raced through his mind in mere seconds.

Mel book cover 0

 

AN ACADEMY AWARD FOR MELAYNIE?

Technology…can be frustrating! I have a new computer and the blog site was upgraded not long ago. Something isn’t connecting right or I am forgetting a step in publishing my latest blog. This one is from Sunday and it wasn’t published. So…here it is again.

 

I just finished watching the Academy Awards, a yearly ritual for me, and I enjoyed it as much as ever. I love movies and the entire process that goes with making them. The emotions that come out during the Oscar awarding process are priceless. I’ve had my dreams about achieving an Oscar.

When I first wrote my screenplay about Sir Francis Drake’s 16th century adventures in the Caribbean, I pictured it being produced and eventually becoming an Academy Award winner with me walking up to that stage to receive my Oscar for best screenplay. I named one of my first drafts “El Dragon,” the Spanish derogatory name for Drake, who was stealing as much Spanish gold and jewels as he could plunder from Spanish ships.

I received compliments on the script, which was read by more than a few in the show business industry. Their advice was invaluable and I did about eight rewrites—good experience but no results and no funding. Rather than give up on a great idea and a passion for me, I turned the saga into an historical adventure novel—Melaynie’s Masquerade—by adding a feminine touch. My daring young heroine would be a native of Plymouth, England, Francis Drake’s hometown. I envisioned a young woman with guts and daring in an era when females stayed home with husbands and children.

Mel book cover 0

Melaynie was jealous of her older brother who was signing aboard Drake’s ship and sailing off to strange new lands in tropical climates. She made an outrageous decision to masquerade as a captain’s boy for Drake, and since her brother couldn’t talk her out of her plan, he agreed to help and even kept her secret from her father and other brother.

Her yearlong voyage brings dangerous encounters with Spanish enemies and a crocodile, new friendships and a romance with a Spanish envoy, who discovers her disguise. When she returns with Drake to England, still masquerading as a young male, she finds she is pregnant. The fiction I created has many fascinating twists and turns along the way. Read it if you want to know what happens. Check it out on Amazon–there’s a link on this blog.

I never gave up on the possibility that my book might become a movie. And to that end, I daydreamed about my choices for the cast. Who would play Melaynie? Years ago I pictured Christina Ricci, who is small and feisty and an excellent actress. Since then I’ve thought of Kristen Stewart, Saorise Ronan and, of course, Jennifer Lawrence, who got the Oscar for best actress tonight.

For my hero, the fabulous Francis Drake? My first choice was Kenneth Branagh and at one point even tried to get in touch with his agent. Since then, I’ve considered Jude Law, Colin Firth, and most recently the multi-talented Bradley Cooper.

Bernardino, the Latin influence and brief love affair for Melaynie, seemed to call for Antonio Banderas a few years ago. Currently, I might cast James Franco.

Diego, the brave African character, who was a Spanish slave and actually did exist and later sailed with Drake around the world, was an ideal part, I felt, for Djimon Hounson (remember “Amistad”?). Nowadays, perhaps Idris Elba.

The creepy Jerome, who threatens Melaynie in various ways, might be played by Geoffrey Rush or Bill Nighy—they are both talented in playing a wide variety of characters.

The location for my movie dreams for Melaynie’s Masquerade would have to be the Caribbean. Where else but an island in that beautiful sea where the action (most of it is real history) really took place? Besides, I plan on going along to do some sort of supervising or rewriting…

 

 

 

 

 

MY “Melaynie” ANSWER TO 50 SHADES OF GREY By Victoria Giraud

Sex makes the world go round… Songs, books, movies, art, advertising, the media, not to mention all our imaginative minds and built-in hormones. Women can’t seem to get enough the fairly recent novel, Fifty Shades of Grey. I haven’t read it yet, but I want to remind my blog readers in search of some erotica and romance/adventure that I’ve published Melaynie’s Masquerade as an e-book on Amazon  http://amazon.com/author/victoriagiraud

Read my sample teaser below and see if it entices you to read more by ordering my book. It’s also in softcover.

With Drake’s humorous admonition to be careful with their guest, Melaynie carried a lantern to show Bernardino to his private tent at evening’s end. In the light of a bright moon, whose rays poured through the wide opening of the small quarters, Bernardino found and immediately sat down on the portable cot. Tired from the day’s excitement and mellowed to the point of sleepiness by the wine, he languidly watched as the young captain’s boy placed the lantern on an empty cask, thinking as he watched of his young sister.  Why was he thinking of his sister; was it the way this young boy moved, or simply the beauty of youth?  He leaned back and began to remove his doublet, welcoming the cooler night air on his skin.  Remembering the music and the caress of the night breeze, he felt relaxed and sensual.

Melaynie’s body and face were profiled in the moonlight.  What a lovely young boy, Bernardino reflected  as he studied the fine facial features and golden hair. He lazily watched the lantern’s flickering light, his feelings of arousal fanned by its glow. How agreeable it would have been to have a woman to love, an appropriate climax to a congenial evening.  Framed by the moonlight, the boy continued to stand, leaning toward the lantern, like a moth to the flame, his eyes mesmerized by the flame.

From his angle lounging on the cot, Bernardino noticed the boy’s cream-colored shirt had flared outward as he stood there. The material was diaphanous enough that the lantern’s light revealed his naked chest. Bernardino smiled at the pretty picture it made, and then narrowed his eyes, looking again closely, as he sat up slowly, uncertain that what he saw was true.  The lantern had highlighted a pair of delicate breasts, whose outline was clear enough through the linen shirt.

This was no boy; he saw the evidence. The breasts were small, but they were present. Had no one else in this English company noticed?  Men could be dense; he had seen how she had been treated as her costume defined her.  A turmoil of feelings assaulted him at this revelation, the excitement of the mystery of her only heightening his stimulated senses. He struggled to compose himself, to dampen his growing ardor, to quiet his racing mind. Had he been intrigued because some instinct told him of her true gender?  Whatever the mystical reasons, she must not guess he had seen her secret.

Searching his mind for clues, he quickly surmised her subterfuge had been well hidden until now and that she was probably older than he had supposed. What had caused this young woman to carry off this masquerade; was she possessed by some unusual traits, a woman who felt herself truly a man? Or was it simply an adventure she sought, a desire to break from the traditional female role in her society?  Did she feel he was a threat; was that why she had spilled the wine earlier? These turbulent thoughts raced through his mind in mere seconds.

PERIL OR PLEASURE — Melaynie’s Masquerade Excerpt by Victoria Giraud

The following is an excerpt from my historical adventure/romance  Melaynie’s Masquerade.  To purchase as an Ebook or as a softcover, go to Amazon:

http://amazon.com/author/victoriagiraud

*****

Diego had seen Melaynie leave by herself that morning, her cheeks rosy, a distant but peaceful look in her eyes. He was pleased his young friend was taking some time to be by herself; she had worked as hard as the men in building the fort. His contented thoughts were jarred a short time later when he saw Jerome saunter out the stockade gate, a lascivious look upon his scarred face.

The merry little stream washed over Melaynie’s dappled sunlit body, caressing her erect nipples, flowing through her legs, cleansing the sounds from her ears. It was so soothing she failed to hear the snap of wood or the rough sigh.

Jerome stood on the stream bank, his good eye riveted by the sight of tiny breasts floating on the water, glistening in the flashes of sunshine. The curly blond pubic hair clearly hid no male genitalia. It was a surprise he would never have imagined. The boy had always seemed just a bit too feminine, but no matter. He’d just as soon stick his cock in one hole as another. It would provide excitement of a sort he hadn’t bargained for, and this time she didn’t have her knife on her. Perhaps he could frighten her into giving it up to him whenever he wanted, especially if he threatened to divulge her secret. His mouth hung open as if he were contemplating a meal to be devoured, as he quickly slid out of his breeches.

The sucking sounds of a foot in mud and the splash of a body entering water finally alerted Melaynie. She righted herself and let go of the branch, but it was too late. Jerome was in the water and reaching for her breasts.

“So, this is what ye’ve been hiding from me, Christopher,” Jerome sneered as he grabbed her, twisting her nipples. His breath was foul and his jagged teeth looked rotten.

She grimaced in outraged anger as she tried to hit him, but he laughed at her efforts. Although the water was not deep, the soft, slippery stream bottom kept her off balance. He pinned her arms as his wet open mouth clamped down on a nipple. She opened her mouth and lowered her head to bite at his thinning dirty hair, and when she had some in her mouth, pulled back as strongly as she could. Her feet found a solid place, and she drew her knee up and slammed it into him quickly. He stumbled backwards to protect his genitals, and the knee caught him on the chin.

“Ye want a fight, do ye?” he laughed derisively rubbing his hairy chin, his walleye askew while the other glared in lust. He had not lost his balance and lunged at her again, this time firmly catching her pubis with his long-fingered hand.

She shuddered with revulsion and twisted her body around and out of his grasp, throwing him off-balance. Neither of them heard the first ominous sounds of something heavy sliding into the water from the opposite bank.

Crocodile - an Eating Machine

ADVENTURES OF FEMALE HEROINES By Victoria Giraud

Many of us, who used to be called the “gentler” sex, are feeling embattled these days. Rather than point out the challenges, I choose to remember some victories in the struggles over female rights, represented by some real gals and even some fictional heroines. On the news there’s Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton… on TV, the gals in  the new TV sitcom about Dallas, “GCB,” and who can miss seeing and hearing about Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence) in the new film “The Hunger Games.” Meryl Streep won the Oscar this year for playing Margaret Thatcher, surely a heroine as Britain’s Prime Minister for so many years.

I created my own heroine, Melaynie Morgan, for my historical fiction, MELAYNIE’S MASQUERADE. It’s for sale on Amazon in both softcover and e-book format. Over the next few weeks I’m going to be posting what I hope are intriguing tidbits from my novel. If you, my blog readers, are interested in purchasing a version of my book, go to:  http://www.amazon.com/author/victoriagiraud

Melaynie, disguised as a captain’s boy, is sailing to the Caribbean with Captain Francis Drake and his crew.  Her adventure is not without peril. Sent to the Captain’s cabin for Drake’s compendium, here is what follows:

Her inquisitive, intelligent face made him laugh.  What a good natured, willing captain’s boy he was, Drake reflected.

“’Tis yet another instrument to aid in navigation.   Has a sundial. I’m fortunate it was a gift; I personally think it too small and fanciful to be of much use or accuracy, though I’m willing to experiment with it again.”

“Right away, Captain.”

Full of energy she raced down the steps of the companionway.  Just as she was about to open the cabin door, she felt a hand on her buttocks, a far too friendly hand, bent on something other than good fellowship.  The hand squeezed the well-rounded cheek firmly and then there were two hands firmly grasping both buttocks and moving to grasp her missing testicles.  She shuddered, outraged at this unwanted familiarity.   She turned around abruptly to face the dark-haired sailor with the walleye, a fellow she had since found to be named Jerome.  His good eye was fixed lasciviously upon her crotch.  She had no doubts what he was about.  She shuddered again, involuntarily, and grimaced.  He smiled at her distaste, as if he were used to this reaction and expected it.  His teeth were dark, one of the front ones missing and a fetid, noxious odor came from his mouth and body.

His build was slight. He was taller and probably stronger than she was, but he had no idea of her determination.  She would yell if she had to, but she sized him up quickly as a coward who would prefer to intimidate her, using sly ways to force his will upon her.  He might be satisfied with the occasional fondle until he saw the best opportunity to take full advantage.  She counted on her wits and her allies to prevent that from happening, but she must make a firm stand now.

He attempted to put his hands on her arms to pull her to him.  She slapped his hands away, lowered her voice and gave him her most savage look, “Ye’ll get nowhere with me, you gruntle-faced meschant.”

Jerome laughed, “He has spirit, he has.  The perfect cobb for one as randy as me. I’ll have yer bonnie johnnie afore this voyage is over.”

Melaynie had pulled her knife from the pouch around her waist, keeping a firm grip.  She kept it lower than her waist but knew he had seen her movement and could see the knife.

“I can use it well, and I shall if I must,” she spat at him.

He laughed again, menacingly, thinking that he had months to force himself upon this callow boy, turned on his heel and went back up to the deck.  She wasn’t sure if she had bested him or not, but at least he knew she would not be an easy mark.  It would teach her to be more aware, a good lesson considering all the challenges she faced on this voyage.

She shook off her fears, delivered the compendium and watched in wonder as Drake opened up its round brass case.  It had seven layers consisting of spinning rings, and flip-up pointers, each layer inscribed with tables, and its own small sundial.  She wished she could understand it all.

“Christopher, I want you to order Robert to make us a special pottage for dinner using fresh vegetables we have left…potatoes, peas, and let’s see, have him use the venison.”

“Yes, Captain.  Right away,” she answered and scurried off.

BIRTH OF MELAYNIE’S MASQUERADE

On a summer visit at age 10, I sat down in front of a portable typewriter at my grandparents’ home in Jacksonville Beach, Florida and wrote (hunt and peck version of typing) a short story about a dog. I’d already been an avid reader, so the action was probably inevitable. In high school I began writing for the newspaper and continued in journalism for years afterward—news, interviews, play reviews, etc.

Our paths in life have many detours and branches. I think I always knew I’d end up writing a book of some sort. The inspiration for Melaynie and her adventure came rather indirectly, as things do. History was always fascinating to me, and I got to combine my interests when I wrote stories for the local newspaper about the yearly Renaissance Faire in Southern California. Faire visitors and vendors alike wore wonderful colorful costumes, and there were actors who played the important roles of Queen Elizabeth and Sir Francis Drake.

After reading James Michener’s huge tome Caribbean, which was a collection of stories about history-makers in that area, I became even more intrigued by Sir Francis Drake, England’s famous 16th century adventurer, pirate, and second man to sail around the world. Drake had bedeviled the Spanish time after time in the Carib Sea, as they called it then, and carried home to England various Spanish ships, jewelry and gold to share with Queen Elizabeth. He was also a major player in defeating the Spanish Armada in 1588.

Sir Francis Drake -- my hero!

In the 1990s, I wrote a screenplay about Drake’s forays against the Spanish and went through some of the machinations necessary to get it made into a movie. Considering how difficult it is to get a film produced, not to mention how many years it might take, I began thinking about using Drake as the basis of an historical fiction novel. I’m no longer sure where Melaynie came from or even the reason I spelled her name so differently.

I’d been intrigued by gender roles and exchanges, a theme explored many times throughout history in the arts of ancient Greece and Rome, and, of course, by Shakespeare. I always liked the final musical number from “A Chorus Line:” all the male and female dancers had on a variety of top hat and tails, and I had made that a Halloween costume for myself over the years.

Coincidentally, a knick-knack I’ve kept and displayed in my home since the late 1960s is a 16th century ship made of tin, similar to one Drake would have commanded. Little did I know I would be writing about life onboard such a ship. In the 1980s I asked a psychic if I would ever write a book. She told me I would write a novel and the subject would be something about voyages.

In the opening pages of Melaynie’s Masquerade, my 16th century heroine is having a dream that she’s a Viking warrior. Melaynie is sixteen and not looking forward to a female role in life, especially when she hears her brother David is going to sign on to Francis Drake’s upcoming voyage to the Caribbean.

My book about her adventures (including a romance), Melaynie’s Masquerade is available on Amazon. I’ve recently made some minor revisions and plan to create an E-book to sell on the Internet.

 

More about Melaynie in upcoming blogs.

 

 

WRITING A SCREENPLAY AIN’T EASY!

English hero, sea captain Sir Francis Drake

The creative force is a powerful one. When it grabs hold, it must be answered. My blog is just such a force. It pulls at me and I answer!

I’ve been writing in one form or another since I was a kid. As I grew older, I aspired to grander themes than newspaper and magazine articles. I dabbled in poetry but it was nothing that would make me famous or supply a living wage, even though I loved my imagery.

An Aussie named Dudley Hood helped ignite the spark that began to lead me down another path. When we met in Southern California some years ago, he had an idea for an historical TV series about the Caribbean. The area has a fascinating history and lots of mystical elements from the mix of cultures.

When I picked up a Michener novel on the Caribbean, I was excited about the possibilities, especially when I read about 16th century English hero, Sir Francis Drake. I’d always loved history and he was just the sort of take-charge but compassionate hero I could admire. Besides, his costumed character was a constant at the yearly spring Renaissance Faire I attended in those years.

Since Dudley wanted to collect a few screenplays about different areas in the Caribbean, I was inspired to try my hand at it. So what if I’d never written a screenplay before or even seen one? How difficult could it be for a writer?

When I started to research Drake, I discovered that Michener’s books: all those huge tomes about Hawaii, the Middle East, Alaska, Texas, Colorado, etc., were not completely accurate. Since he didn’t call them histories, he felt free to fictionalize. It made for a simpler story since real life is never tidy, although reel life (as in movies) is! James Michener didn’t even work as hard as I had presumed: he had his own research team.

Amazon book cover for Caribbean

Michener’s story about Drake was so tidy he created a neat rivalry between Drake, the English privateer the Spanish called El Dragon, and a Spanish official of high rank. In the 16th century, Spain was the ruler of the Old World and the New World. The Michener story was entertaining and neatly handled even though this individual Spaniard didn’t exist (he was a conglomerate of many Spanish ship captains, officials, etc.). Drake made lots of Spanish enemies before he was through robbing them of their gold, jewels, and various galleons.

After I’d been lent a few sample screenplays, and a book about creating them, I was soon happily engaged in writing. I was studying all those instructions about where to put: NIGHT, DAY, FADE IN, FADE OUT and what sort of emotion was on whose face, not to mention setting the scene. Aiming for a standard page count (at least then) of 120 pages, I was confident.

Dudley and I had met more than a few people industriously working or aspiring to work in the entertainment industry. It was relatively easy to interest people in helping to create a potential movie, TV program, etc. In LA, many of us live on dreams of stardom and success, and there are always a few who do realize their dreams, even in spectacular fashion.

I can no longer remember if our associate Jan was involved with costumes, set dressing or what, but she had been in the industry for a few years and was making a living at it. She was an intelligent, encouraging, enthusiastic kind of person. Our project must have sounded feasible.

I could hardly wait for her to take a look at my creative efforts when I’d completed my first draft. I’d put a lot of work into my script and I was brimming with pride.

When we met after she’d read it, I eagerly awaited her verdict. I was sure I had a good beginning and I even liked my dialog.

“Where’s the conflict?” she asked me gently. “Every film has a conflict.”

“It’s got plenty of conflict,” I replied, defensively. “Drake’s always fighting this battle or that.”

“It’s a dramatic technique to keep the audience interested. The work has to focus on a primary conflict of some kind as it builds to a climax and the conflict is resolved, one way or another,” she told me gently. “You also don’t want to lose your viewer in all sorts of unnecessary details or lots of dialog to explain things. Film is a visual medium.”

My screenplay was just history with a few flourishes.  Maybe Michener was more right than I gave him credit for.

Back to the drawing board, I thought ruefully. It wasn’t so simple after all.

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