Magellan’s Navigator’s Sales Hit a Record

January was my best month ever for Magellan’s Navigator. Thank you readers!

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Writing: A Look Back and a Look Forward

2017 was a breakthrough year for me. Sales of Magellan’s Navigator have been steady and it’s garnered many good reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. As a writer, it’s immensely satisfying to see people enjoying my work, like the gentleman from Cebu in the Philippines who recently wrote a review on Amazon.

The sequel to Magellan’s Navigator is outlined and a quarter written. Think Master and Commander on a galley as Albo spars with the Barbary pirates. I just need a title for it.

I wrote enough words for a novel in 2017, yet published nothing. That will change soon when my new science fiction books Mindfield and Mindgames come out. They can be read as space opera, but Mindfield is really about one man’s search for his identity. I hope readers enjoy this book as much as I do. The setting for these books is forty years after my Truth-Teller books. Some of the characters in the latter reprise as secondary characters in the new books.

So I’ll have three books out in 2018. Best wishes to all in the New Year.

 

 

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I’m Teaching Classes on Novel Writing and Self-Publishing

I’m teaching a six-week class on the basics of novel writing at the Gig Harbor Campus of Tacoma Community College starting October fifth. It’s Novel Writing 101 with a focus on writer craft and editing.

I’m also doing a half-day class on self-publishing on October 14th for Poulsbo Parks and Recreation. This class will go step-by-step through the process of publishing an ebook and print book on Amazon.

If you know anyone who might be interested in either of these, please mention it to them.

 

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Many Thanks to My Readers of Magellan’s Navigator

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Writing is scary. You spend months conceiving, writing, and editing your book. Quite frankly, you aren’t sure how good it is when you are finished. Then you publish it and wait for a reaction…and it is so wonderful when readers like your book, as has happened with Magellan’s Navigator. It has recently gotten some great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Thank you reviewers for taking the time to share your thoughts. Also, each month’s sales have surpassed the previous month as more readers learn about Magellan’s Navigator.

The next book of Albo’s ‘memoirs’ will be of his piloting a Spanish galley in the Mediterranean against the ships of the infamous Barbary pirate Barbarossa. Albo also finds a little romance that’s almost as dangerous as Barbarossa is.

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Magellan’s Navigator Meet & Greet

magellans-navigatorMonday I have an author meet and greet at the Poulsbo Book Stop for Magellan’s Navigator from 1 pm to 5:30 pm. Stop by and let’s chat about sailing, or cloves, or the Mariners!

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New Review of Magellan’s Navigator

Magellan’s Navigator recently got a great review from Barbara McMichael, the bookmonger. She ends it by saying “Magellan’s Navigator” is unsentimental muscular writing, packed with tension and adventure. Read the review here: http://www.coastweekend.com/cw/books/20170505/circling-the-globe-x2014-some-400-years-apart

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QUINCE PRESERVES: MAGELLAN’S ANTIDOTE FOR SCURVY?

quince marmeladaScurvy took its deadly toll on every long voyage during the age of exploration. Twenty years before Magellan left Spain, Vasco da Gama lost over half his men to scurvy on his return voyage from India. In comparison, Magellan lost only eleven percent of his crew when sailing across the immense Pacific Ocean.

Many authors I have read claim quince preserves accounted for Magellan’s low losses to scurvy. Quince preserves were a medicinal item during the Renaissance, as opposed to a tasty accompaniment to hardtack. Magellan’s quince preserves or marmelada probably were not like grocery store cherry or blueberries preserves. Instead, it was more likely the aged quince marmelada still sold today in Portugal, which has a firm texture. (Please see the accompanying photograph of quince marmelada purchased by my wife last year in Portugal.) Quince in this form should have stood up well to the rigors of Magellan’s long voyage. We know Magellan still had his quince preserves after sailing across the Pacific and reaching the Philippines as he gave it to the sick brother of the Cebu rajah per Antonio Pigafetta in his book Magellan’s Voyage. That Magellan still had the preserves confirms that he considered it medicine, as the crew consumed anything remotely edible in the long voyage across the Pacific Ocean.

Quince preserves has only about a third the vitamin C as citrus fruit, but it still packs enough punch to ward off scurvy. The importance Magellan attributed to quince can be measured by the 5,779 maravedis he spent on it in Seville, as compared to the 23,037 maravedis he spent on hundreds of pounds of beans. Did quince account for the relative healthiness of Magellan’s crew?

It probably helped, but a deep dive into the data gives us a better answer.

Deaths for all reasons because of the Pacific transit were as follows*:

Trinidad                                                     4 of 60-70       6%

Victoria                                                    14 of 45-52     29%

Concepcion                                                1 of 44-52       2%

Total                                                            19 of 174      11%.

These figures raise several questions. First, the bulk of the deaths are on the Victoria. Furthermore, these deaths started a month after leaving the strait, while scurvy usually takes three months to develop. The fleet took 94 days from raising anchor in the Straits of Magellan to landfall on Guam, where fresh food was procured. So, the fatalities on the Trinidad and Concepcion are as might be expected, but why was the Victoria so savaged by scurvy and why did in occur so soon?

The key can be found in Pigafetta’s book, where we learn the Victoria spent two weeks searching the Straits of Magellan for the San Antonio, which had defected back to Spain. Meanwhile, the other two ships spent some of that time anchored in the “Bay of Sardines.” There Pigafetta says, “…we found…a very sweet herb called appio, of which there is also some of the same sort that is bitter. And this herb grows near springs, and (because we had nothing else) we ate of it for several days.” Appio is believed to be a wild celery rich in vitamin C.

Mystery solved. Those aboard the Trinidad and Concepcion had ample vitamin C stored in their bodies on leaving the strait, except for a few finicky eaters, like the Englishman Andrew of Bristol, who died soon after leaving Guam. The last fresh food eaten by the crewmen of the Victoria, on the other hand, was over a month earlier before Magellan even entered the strait. By landfall at Guam, 132 days at sea had elapsed for these men, and so the terrible death toll on the Victoria.

Perhaps the quince preserves had a role in preventing scurvy, but it was not the deciding factor during the crossing of the Pacific. In my novel Magellan’s Navigator, I built in a role for quince on the return voyage to Spain. My protagonist Albo remains scurvy free until he exhausts his last supply of quince marmelada. Soon afterward, his teeth start to loosen.

*The exact crew size of each ship is uncertain because around twenty-two of the crew of the wrecked Santiago transferred to these three ships. Some deaths occurred weeks after arriving in the Philippines, but are documented as being from effects of the Pacific transit

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