Tag Archives: Magellan’s Navigator

Book Signing for Magellan’s Navigator

I’m one of the featured authors at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association’s historical fiction book signing.

 I’ll have copies of my newly released historical novel Magellan’s Navigator.

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There will be nibbles and a raffle.

Other authors and their books are:

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Rebecca J. Novelli                  The Train to Orvieto

Deborah Lincoln                     Agnes Canon’s War

SJ McCormack                        Night Witch

and others

 

I’d love to see you there:

Saturday, February 18th from 1 to 3 PM

at the PNWA Writer’s Cottage in Gilman Village, Issaquah, Washington

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Fact and fiction in Magellan’s Navigator

Magellan’s Navigator sticks closely to the known facts of Magellan’s voyage. The dates are accurate. Every person named, with one exception, did have a part in the first circumnavigation of the world. There was a master gunner named Andrew who was from Bristol and who died of scurvy soon after leaving Guam. However, Andrew’s wife, Ana Estrada is my invention. On the other hand, Fidelia was Ginés’s wife and believing he was lost, she did remarry before he finally returned.

I used Albo’s logbook to fix the time and place of the fleet during its voyage. Antonio Pigafetta’s Report on the First Voyage Around the World gave me an eyewitness report of the people he met and the places he saw. My descriptions of the rajahs Humabon and Almanzor are from Pigafetta’s book. Also borrowed from Pigafetta are the lengthy lists of gifts to the rajahs. I am indebted to the late Tim Joyner for his book Magellan. His meticulously researched book uses Spanish and Portuguese sources, unlike many other books about Magellan. His fleet rosters are by far the most complete I’ve seen.

So what is fiction? I really don’t know because the events as told in Magellan’s Navigator are both plausible and possible. Historical sources contradict one another about the details of some events, like the mutiny. For example, while my explanation of the San Antonio’s capture during the mutiny can’t be proved, it also can’t be disproved. It is known that for some reason one of the mutineer ships floated helplessly to Magellan’s ships, and Albo could very well have been responsible for that happening.

I did have to simplify things by focusing on a limited number of crewmembers. I did that after early drafts thoroughly confused readers when I included all Albo’s shipmates. I apologize to Leone Pancaldo and the others who deserved to be mentioned, but had to be excised from the story for readability.

One issue I’d like to address is Albo’s ethnicity. Wikipedia lists Albo as being from Rodas, Spain. This is questionable. The Spanish roster simply lists Albo as being from Rodas with a birthplace of Axio. This is consistent with my having Albo being born in Thessaloniki on the Axios River in Greece, and his being most recently from Rhodes (Rodas.)  Roses is evidently an alternative spelling of Rodas. There is a small port of Roses in Catalonia, but I see no associated place name of Axios, which argues against Albo from being there. Andre Rossfelder’s In Pursuit of Longitude  makes the argument that Albo was from Roses, but concedes  he does not know whether Albo was Greek or Spanish. Numerous Portuguese and Spanish historians over the centuries have called Albo a Greek, so I went with the preponderance of opinion. In addition, S.E. Morison in his The European Discovery of America, the Southern Voyages cites a source that claims a survivor of the circumnavigation sailed with Piri Reis, the Ottoman admiral. We know what happened to most of the survivors afterward, except for Albo, who disappears from history. His being from Greece is consistent to his returning to the eastern Mediterranean and working with Piri Reis.

I hope you enjoy Magellan’s Navigator. It is available in print and paperback on Amazon. Just click the photo above.

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Here’s What Happened to the Rajah Almanzor and Others in Magellan’s Navigator

Here’s what happened to the Rajah Almanzor, Cano, Espinosa, and other characters after they left the pages of Magellan’s Navigator. 

Rajah Almanzor – Rajah Almanzor’s fears were realized when the Portuguese and their Ternate allies joined forces and attacked Tidore. The Rajah Almanzor fled into Tidore’s mountains. The Spanish did send a second Armada to the Moluccas with Cano as its Pilot Major. Only one ship from this Armada, the Santa Maria de la Victoria, arrived in the Moluccas during 1526. (See Cano below.) Nonetheless, these Spanish were enough to leave the Portuguese and Ternate balanced against the Spanish, Tidore, and the Rajah of Bacchian. This stalemate ended when Emperor Charles V on April 23, 1529 relinquished all claims to the Moluccas for 350,000 ducats in the Treaty of Saragossa. The Emperor Charles was desperate at this time for money to support his European empire. (Therefore, because Portuguese King Manuel refused to pay Magellan a half ducat per month stipend, causing him to go to Spain, his successor King João III ended up paying 350,000 ducats.) The Portuguese and Ternate then overwhelmed Tidore. Almanzor fled to his larger ally, the Rajah of Bacchian. His final fate is not certain, although one account has a Portuguese physician poisoning him.

Juan Sebastián el Cano – Cano received many honors from King Carlos. Nonetheless, he had domestic problems with children from two different women. There is a record of a petition to King Carlos for a guard because of threats to his life. In 1525 Cano was Pilot Major of the Loaísa’s seven-ship fleet to the Spice Islands, the first fleet to retrace the track Magellan had blazed. He was also captain of the Sancti Spiritus. The crew of this fleet was predominantly Basque, which should have led to a more cohesive fleet than Magellan’s armada. Cano’s piloting skills were not up to the task. He was initially unable to find the entrance to the Straits of Magellan and once he did find the straits, a storm wrecked his ship. Of the six remaining ships, one deserted in the straits. It wrecked off Brazil. Sebastian Cabot rescued a few of its survivors. (See Michael de Rodas.) A storm blew another ship out of the strait into the Atlantic, where it vanished. Cano took four and half months to navigate the straits, as compared to five weeks for Magellan.

Once in the Pacific Ocean a storm separated the four remaining ships. One was lost, another, the smallest, managed to reach Mexico. The flagship, with Loaísa and Cano proceeded alone. Scurvy took a high toll in the voyage across the Pacific. Loaísa died first. Cano died a week later two-thirds the way across the Pacific. The flagship reached Tidore with around a hundred men. The fourth ship managed to sail to Mindanao in the Philippines, where it wrecked. Three of its men survived.

Magellan’s fleet had its difficulties, but it fared much better than this second fleet. This is true even considering Magellan was sailing into the unknown, while Cano’s fleet had the knowledge of Magellan’s voyage. Magellan’s success is a testament to his skills and preparation, and Cano’s lack of them.

Rajah Checchili of Ternate – Prince Checchili had an uneasy peace with the Portuguese. Tensions rose after the Portuguese constructed a fort on Ternate. The Portuguese took several of Prince Checcili’s younger brothers as hostages in the fort along with his mother. Prince Checchili died childless in 1529, likely another victim of poison.

Pilot Major Estéban Gómez – Despite the questionable circumstances of Pilot Gómez’s return with the San Antonio, he remained employed as a pilot for the Casa de Contratación. In 1524, he searched for a northwest passage to the Indies. He sailed along the coast of North America from Florida to Canada, but returned in 1525 with no success. He then became a West Indies slaver. In 1535, he was a pilot on the Mendoza expedition to the Rio de la Plata. The last written record that mentioned him is in 1537 at the Rio de la Plata. At that time, he was old for the times at fifty-three years of age.

Gonzalo Gómez de Espinosa – Espinosa was first held prisoner in the Moluccas, but then transferred to Cochin, the hub of Portuguese India. Da Gama had returned to India as viceroy. He was not about to let the Spanish interloper free. After da Gama’s death, Espinosa was allowed to depart for Lisbon with the Ginés Mafra and Hans Bergen, only to be thrown in prison on their arrival in Lisbon in July, 1526. Hans Bergen died there. Espinosa was released in early 1527 after the personal intervention of the Emperor Charles V with his now brother-in-law King João III of Portugal. Espinosa was reunited with his wife after eight years apart. Emperor Charles received him in May, 1527 and granted him a pension in reward for his services. After the usual Spanish bureaucratic snafus, this started in 1529. He also inherited the small estate of Hans Bergen who had died when in prison with Espinosa in Lisbon. The last known record of Espinosa is in 1543, when at age sixty he was living in Seville.

Ginés Mafra – He was one of the four survivors of the Trinidad to return to Spain. He was released from a Portuguese prison in 1527 after his papers, including all the Trinidad’s roteiros were confiscated. He had an audience with the Emperor Charles V and then returned home to find his beloved wife Fidelia had remarried. She had sold his house and all his property.

A few years later Ginés returned to the sea. In 1536, he was pilot major of a fleet in the Pacific Ocean operating from the Americas. Ginés sailed as a pilot in a six-ship expedition bound to Asia from Mexico. The expedition discovered many islands and gave the Philippines their current name. None of the ships and few of the men ever returned to Spain. There is no record of Ginés Mafra returning and he is presumed one of those lost, but how, where, and when is not known.

Manual – The Spanish scribe Herrera writes of a Moluccan on the Victoria: “One of these was so sharp, that the first thing he did was to inquire how many reals a ducat was worth, and a real how many maravedis, and how much pepper was given for a maravedi; and he went from shop to shop to get information of the value of spices.” This had to be Manual. He had learned too much, and, unlike his countrymen, was not allowed to return to his homeland.

Álvaro Mezquita – This somewhat inept cousin of Magellan was released from prison in 1522, upon the return of the Victoria. He returned to Portugal.

António Pigafetta – Pigafetta was miffed at not being one of the two chosen to accompany Cano to the first audience with Charles V. Pigafetta went to the Emperor Charles V’s court on his own and presented him with his written record of the circumnavigation of the globe. No record remains of this book. He was paid his wages in arrears and his share of the Victoria’s cargo. He then went to visit the Portuguese King João III, followed by King Francis in France, where he presented another book to his fellow Italian, the Queen Mother, Marie Louise of Savoy. He returned to his home in Vicenza, where he recreated his book for publication. He completed it in 1524 in Rome, where he was invited to an audience with Pope Clement VII.

Pigafetta then became a knight-errant of the Order of Saint Rhodes and vowed to defend Christianity from the Moslem Turks. At this point, the written record ends. He is believed to have died as a member of the Order fighting the Turks.

Pigafetta’s original folio is lost. Four copies are left. Three are in French and one in Italian. There are differences between the four, as might be expected as they were copied and mistakes when made translating from Italian to French. Albo’s log gives a much more precise, but sparse, description of the voyage. Pigafetta gives a much more in-depth description of the people, places, flora, and fauna that he encountered. He does lapse into fanciful travelogue recounts of tall tales told to him by natives during the voyage. His folio also suffers from being written after the fact, which introduces some inaccuracies as to the timing of some events. His account is remarkable in that very few members of the crew are mentioned by name other than Magellan. Cano is not mentioned.

Giovanni de Polcevera – Polcevera, along with Espinosa, Ginés, and most of the other surviving Trinidad sailors were taken from Ternate to Cochin, India in 1525. Permission to return to Europe was denied them. Polcevera befriended some fellow Genoese sailors in the service of Portugal in late 1525, and sailed for Lisbon. He was discovered by Portuguese officers and put ashore in Mozambique. There he remained with little food or clothing until he died of disease in Mozambique in 1526 at age fifty-eight.

Michael de Rodas – Michael sailed in 1525 as Pilot Major of a fleet to the Moluccas under Sebastian Cabot. Michael’s appointment was made by King Carlos over the objections of Cabot. Cabot was a prickly character who got along with few people. He marooned Michael on an island off Brazil along with Martín Méndez, the clerk of the Victoria. Both are believed to have died attempting to reach the mainland.

Tupas – Tupas became rajah of Cebu upon Humabon’s death. He was still rajah in 1565 when Michael López de Legazpi’s expedition reached Cebu. Tupas resisted Legazpi, but his men were overwhelmed by superior Spanish firepower. Tupas survived to negotiate a treaty. His defeat marked the beginning of the long Spanish occupation of the Philippines.

Get Magellan’s Navigator on Amazon. It’s free with Kindle Unlimited, $4.99 for Kindle, and $9.99 for paperback.
 

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Magellan’s Navigator, a crafty Greek named Francisco Albo

Magellan’s Navigator is my most recent book. It’s a meticulously researched tale of the first circumnavigation of the globe as seen through the eyes of Francisco Albo, who navigated the sole remaining ship of Magellan’s fleet halfway around the world. Sail along with Albo through storms, mutinies, and the intrigues of native rajahs.

Buy it in print or ebook at Amazon: http://amzn.to/2i46ZZw

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Looking Back at a Year of Writing

For me 2015 was a good year for writing.

In a nutshell:

Over 100,000 net words written
One book published: Truth-Teller Revenge
One book completed: Magellan’s Navigator
One book in beta edits: Mindfield.

Writing:

2014 was a year of learning how to edit and hone my craft. For this I give thanks to my traditional publisher’s editor. I spent 2015 using my improved craft.
The year started out in a frustrating way. My trad publisher punted the copy editing of Truth-Teller Revenge, so my wife Teresa and I edited it under a tight deadline. That completed, I rewrote my first novel, a historical fiction work about Magellan’s voyage of discovery. That book represented several years of research that I wasn’t willing to flush. Originally, this book was 120,000 words, had multiple points of view, and was too boring. I rewrote the book as an 80,000 word “discovered” memoir of the armada’s navigator and am now proud of it. That took until summer, when it went off to my wonderful beta-readers Dave, Kerry, and Laura. In the fall, I reedited it based on their recommendations. I’m now flogging it to agents as Magellan’s Navigator.
I conceived Mindfield in February, thanks Pam for the title, and started writing a few months later. I had a decent draft by October and edited it through year-end. It’s now in the hands of my beta readers. Final editing will start soon. I’m excited about this book. It’s my best book of the six I’ve written.

Publishing and Promoting:

I made a few baby steps in learning the world of publishing and book promotion. It began in frustration. Truth-Teller Revenge, which as a traditionally published book I have no control over pricing, bombed. I discovered promoting on my blog and to Facebook groups doesn’t cut it. My self-published thriller Download substantially outsold and outearned Revenge even though I had Download at a lower price point.
A glimmer of hope came when an author friend, Ann Roth, got me into an indie publishing Facebook group. What an education. Thank you, Ann. I’m now much better equipped to navigate the publishing world, be it traditional or self-publishing. It’s still a steep mountain to climb, but now I know where the path is and what boots to wear.
This year I’ll write Mindfield’s sequel and get Mindfield and Magellan’s Navigator published. It should be another fun year.

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New (for me) Editing Technique Pays Off

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The final final copy editing of a book is my least favorite part of publishing. No matter how many times I go over, my wife goes over, and fellow writers go over a manuscript, little typos, mostly dropped words, leak into the final product until they’re finally laboriously bludgeoned out.

BUT NOW THERE IS HOPE. Several months ago, someone in a writing group mentioned having my Kindle read my manuscript back to me. Yesterday, after a few misfires, I uploaded Magellan’s Navigator to my Kindle and started listening. I wouldn’t want to experience a book this way. The Kindle runs together sentences and uses no inflection, but for editing this technique WORKS! I’m finding minor typos that eluded myself and three other editors. In a day or two, this edit will be done and I graduate to other fun things, like writing a query letter and summary.

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How Writing Has Changed My Enjoyment of Reading

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I find it less enjoyable reading most books since I’ve seriously been writing, although I appreciate the well-written book more than ever. For example, last night I started a space opera that’s a top ten-seller in its category on Amazon with good reviews. Clearly, lots of people like this book. However, several pages in the point-of-view character passes by a guard holding a rifle. For some reason, the author feels compelled to stop the whole story, and give us three sentences about the rifle. Now this data dump was small, and may be critical later in the story, but it wasn’t the thoughts of the pov character. It was just out-and-out author intrusion, which took me out of the story for a brief moment. I hate to be yanked out of a book like that.

In the author’s defense, weaving the technical stuff into a story isn’t easy. I was proud when a reviewer of my first book, Truth-Teller Rebellion, complimented me on the way I let the setting and Truth-teller world come out in the story, rather than giving it as a data dump.

I’ve found this even more challenging in Magellan’s Navigator, my historical fiction that is nearing completion. I believe a reader of Magellan’s Navigator will want to read about how sailing ships of the time worked and the circumnavigation of the world. I wanted to get that information into the story without slowing it down too much and without obvious author intrusion. It isn’t easy to do that. In the final analysis, that information isn’t the story, which is of the man, Francisco Albo, who piloted the one ship that made it around the world. The book is out with beta readers now. I hope they think I got the balance of story and historic content right.

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