Sunday, June 14, 2020

Romance, Pirates, and Summer Vacations by @MaddieJames

Have you ever been haunted by something? Felt a pull so strong you had to give into it? 

Years ago, when the children were young, probably about six- and eight-years-old, I insisted we take a family vacation. It was spring break and truly, I needed the departure from my students, and well, just from life. Bonus, the ocean was calling. Haunting me, perhaps. Odd thing because I’d never been to the east coast. That didn’t slow me down though or stop the melancholy feeling about going there.

Credit: digidreamgrafix.com (Deposit Photos) 
I chose Nags Head in the Outer Banks (OBX) of North Carolina because the name of the town had always intrigued me. I stumbled across an ad for a reality company in an issue of Southern Living and called for details. Soon, we were set, and off we went.

Once there, I was entranced by the area, the people, the food, and the laid-back atmosphere. That was our first trip of many. Even after my husband and I divorced, I found ways to get there, be it spring, summer, or fall. The kids and I went one summer when they were teenagers. We had a yard sale to pay for a motel room and pooled all our dollars for other expenses. It was a quick, cheap trip but one of my most memorable. We ate sandwiches out of a cooler all week, swam in the ocean and the motel pool, and just chilled.

There have been other trips. We have stayed up and down the OBX from Corolla to Ocracoke Island and pretty much everywhere in between. A couple of times I went solo, which was fun, but I missed my people; other trips included extended family where we would rent a big beach house oceanside and just play all week. There was always one night of family putt-putt golf competition, and every family took a turn at making dinner for the entire crew. We always reserved at least one evening meal for the local seafood buffet.
Copyright credit: Jorg Hackemann (Deposit Photos)

A few times we went with my parents and my sister’s family. Once, we stayed just down the beach from the infamous Inn at Rodanthe, the house featured in the movie, Nights in Rodanthe. A more recent trip was with my offspring and their significant others and families, and one set of in-laws. My grown children and I also took another trip to OBX about ten years after the first cheap trip—but this time we rented a big old oceanfront Nags Header on the historic register. We had more money to spend, and if I remember correctly, we consumed quite a few rum popsicles. Adult children are fun! We also may or may not have encountered a ghost that week—fodder for a story perhaps?

And yes, this haunting of the ocean, this lure to the sea, and the OBX has been a source of writer inspiration for me and has influenced my stories and my muse. One cannot visit these barrier islands and not leave with a sense of the past, of pirates, of the colonies, of escape and intrigue, and perhaps even treasure hunting….

Cover Art: Jacobs Ink, LLC
I’ve set one romantic suspense novel, A Perfect Escape, in the barrier islands, and a time-travel trilogy, The Forever Trilogy.

Let’s talk about the trilogy. Edward Teach aka Blackbeard called Ocracoke Island in the OBX home for some time. Around 1718 he wreaked havoc over the eastern coastline and then finally was beheaded in a battle at sea. The Governor of Virginia had ordered him stopped. Losing his head was the thing that stopped him. On the islands you can find many references to the infamous pirate and I found the pirate folklore fascinating. I dug in, read and researched a lot, and wrote my own version of the pirates that lived there.

That research turned into a trilogy of stories surrounding some legend and lore of Blackbeard’s missing head after he was decapitated—actually, the lore has more to do with a silver-plated cup that was supposedly created from his skull. Fun, huh?

I began writing this trilogy years ago, not long after my first trip to OBX, and I can say these characters haunted and consumed me for some time. The stories were originally crafted when I was still learning how to write—before I was a published author and nearly two decades before Indie publishing became a thing. A small publisher picked them up years ago, and I’ve since had the rights reverted to me.

Cover Art: Jacobs Ink, LLC; template by Covervault 
Over the years—just as I kept returning to OBX—I have returned to these books and reworked and polished them. They have been reconfigured and retitled. I’m sure they are still not perfect—and that is okay with me. Most of my vacation trips to OBX were not “perfect” either, by some people’s standards, but they were memorable all the same.

I can only hope for that with any of the books I write—that readers think they are memorable.

The Forever Trilogy is this series centered around pirate lore. If you like history, pirates, suspense, time travel, paranormal elements, soul mates, and happily-ever-after endings, you might like these books. They are available at my online bookstore as well as all ebook retail outlets.

And while I have you, Jan Scarbrough and I write a western romance series and for ten days in June, we are offering the box set for 99 cents. I hope you check it out! Click for universal buy links—this one goes off sale on June 17.
Cover Art: Jacobs Ink, LLC; template by Covervault

Lastly, please don’t forget about our Summer Nights Rafflecopter Giveaway! Go HERE for details. Signup and I hope you win!


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Maddie James writes to silence the people in her head—if only they wouldn’t all talk at once! 

Whether writing traditional contemporary romance or building paranormal worlds, bestselling romance author, Maddie James, pens stories that frequently cross a variety of romantic sub-genres. Sweet or spicy, suspense or comedy, western or time-travel, her heroes and heroines are always chasing one thing—the happily-ever-after. 

Affaire de Coeur says, “James shows a special talent for traditional romance,” and RT Book Reviews claims, “James deftly combines romance and suspense.” Visit her at www.maddiejames.com.

Her books are available at ALL RETAILERS and she also sells direct from her own online bookstore, SAND DUNE BOOKS (which is where you can find the deals and discounts!)

23 comments:

  1. You found the perfect vacation spot with your people. How lucky! And I love pirate stories. Blackbeard was a horrible person alive but good for stories now that he's gone. And then the ranchers. You have a lot to offer, woman. Happy June vacation to you and to many more stories.

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  2. Thanks, Nora! Oh yes, and Blackbeard was definitely the villain in these stories. Even after he was killed, his legacy lived on through an equally villainous modern-day pirate cult! Thank you!

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  3. I love the NC coast. We've only been to Topsail Island, but I could go there every year.

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    1. I have friends who always go to Topsail but I've never been. I would love to explore those lower barrier islands, though!

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  4. Very cool! I've never been there. Should put it on my list! Bar Harbor, Maine is the place that calls to me and my family. We spent many years going there on family vacations. The last few years it's been just me and my middle daughter.

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    1. Kari, Maine and several New England states are on my short bucket list. I really do want to see the Maine coast!

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  5. North Carolina is gorgeous! I love Asheville. It's a little town with hills and little shops and other things. So sweet. Your stories sound wonderful. I'm glad your travels inspired you. This is one thing that makes reading so great. I haven't been to so many places, but reading can take me there. Thank you for sharing your books!

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    1. Thanks, Kara! I have been to Asheville and love it! In fact, my Harbor Falls series is set in the Blue Ridge mountains a couple of hours from Asheville. Hm, seems like I like North Carolina for both beaches and mountains!

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  6. I've been twice -- Once to Ocracoke, the boat ride was fun, and once to Corolla where we saw the wild horses. I'd love to go back with the family.

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    1. You've pretty much been on both ends of the upper Outer Banks! My son loves to stay on the 4 wheel drive beaches just north of Corolla. The wild horses are a frequent site. I stayed at Ocracoke once but have been there several times. Very laid back little fishing village! Love it.

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  7. I understand being pulled to a place. When I was 8 I stood on a ferry deck with salty air in my nose and promised myself that someday I'd live by an ocean. I just knew that saltwater was "home" for me. Took me 25 years but I live on an island and can walk downhill to the ocean in 5 minutes. We hear ferries blow their whistles and when the fog rolls in...it's magical.

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    1. I am so envious! I understand that salt air feeling too. I don't know if I ever will live by the sea but I sure do like to visit as often as possible! So happy for you, Bonnie!

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  8. Beautiful share, Maddie! Love your story, and now I long to visit OBX. Not to mention I NEED to hear about your ghost. Here's to beautiful beaches and revisiting the places we love. I'm guilty of it myself. Often! Can't wait to read A Perfect Escape.

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  9. Thanks, Kathy! APE is one of my favorite books. The ghost... well, can you see slamming doors, light bulbs bursting, and ceiling fixtures falling to the floor? Overall, there was also just an overwhelming feeling of something a bit "off" with the house. My son was eager to leave and we left a day early. I've stayed there twice. At this moment and thinking about the house right now, every "feeling" in my body says "don't go back." And this is weird, because every time I look at a picture of the house, it draws me to it. Yikes!

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    1. Wow! That's quite a violent manifestation, a great deal of energy to pull such things off. I'm not surprised you left early. I would have advised the same. And, in my experience (for what it's worth) that gut "feeling" is most important. I typically always go with the gut. I am, however, curious to know if you were with other people, the same ones, or alone when you went the second time and what your experience was like then.

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  10. Try Emerald Isle Beach if you want a quaint, peaceful beach with amazing seafood restaurants and friendly people! My favorite place to go!

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    1. Thank you! I have a friend who always goes there and loves it. I'm glad you reminded me of Emerald Isle. Another one one my list!

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  11. I've been to a lot of beaches on the Atlantic coast but never to OBX. I've always wanted to go there and would spend lots of time poring over listings for beach rental houses. But there don't seem to be any convenient flights from our area and the husband hates to drive. Love the ocean, though, no matter where it is!

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  12. I totally understand that. The closest airport is at Virginia Beach. That's a little over an hour from OBX, and it's not too bad of a drive. That route can get a messy busy during peak season and at certain times of the day, so I would definitely avoid the drive in then. I had girlfriends come in for a long weekend once and picked them up at the Virginia Beach airport.

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  13. I've not been to the Outer Banks although I've thought about it. I guess I like my beaches in warmer climes like the Texas to Mississippi Gulf Coast and Mexican beaches. Once I lived in a house on a cliff above the East China Sea and loved it! Always wanted to live again in a similar setting in the U.S., but didn't have enough millions to make it happen. *LOL*

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    1. Joan, that house on the cliff sounds exciting! And I know North Carolina is likely not as hot as Texas or Mexico, but it can get super hot in July and August (and humid!)

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  14. great vacation memories. would love to visit that part of the world.

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