Sunday, June 17, 2012

Nautical Muse

This is my yard. My husband and I live aboard a sailing catamaran on Puget Sound. Cheapest waterfront property we may ever own. It’s hard to beat the view, even if the living quarters are a bit small. There’s nothing like having a disagreement with someone and being stuck together in 300 square feet while it’s raining sideways outside.
Here are a few of my neighbors. we get harbor seals fishing beneath our boat. Occasionally, otters climb the swim steps in order to lunch on my deck. Oh, yes. This means finding blood and severed fish heads all over the boat. The first time that happened, I got up in the morning, opened the back door and nearly had a heart attack because there was blood everywhere. We counted the cats to make sure we still had the full crew compliment onboard. With everyone present and accounted for, we examined the evidence and realized we’d been left some kind of message from the God Otter. We’re still trying to work out the exact threat.

Over Memorial Day weekend, we had a plague of jelly fish, little dime-sized guys. They were thick enough that as they swam, the water looked like it was boiling. No kidding. The entire marina population spent the weekend commenting on how creepy it was. I was fascinated and delighted because I’m a complete geek. Jelly fish showed up in my second book, retooled as alien life forms clinging to the insides of space stations. They dangled a lure of stinging cells to stun and catch their prey. In contrast, most of the jelly fish we seen in Puget Sound are harmless – the odd [Lion’s Mane jelly] notwithstanding. Honestly, have a look at jellyfish and tell me they don’t look like aliens who should be totally dangerous.

Life aboard a boat figured into the first novel in the series, too. Did you know that there are no bathrooms aboard a boat? They’re called ‘heads’ as in ‘hitting the head’. Theory has it that the term comes from old sailing vessels which placed the bathroom facilities at the front of the ship near the figurehead. The term is still used aboard most boats today, including military vessels – the notable exceptions are aboard cruise ships and other pleasure craft serving a lot of customers who may not be familiar with nautical slang. My point is that I used ‘head’ rather than ‘bathroom’ or ‘toilet’ in my first book when the hero and heroine are aboard a spaceship. It came up in edits. Turns out my land-based publishing team didn’t know nautical slang, either. It did spark an interesting debate about whether space-going military forces would follow a naval model or be based on an air force.

No one won that debate. What’s your thought? Are space militaries naval in nature – like the submarine service (my argument), like a big naval carrier? Or are they more like the men and women who fly into the wild blue yonder?

I’ll give a copy of either novel (your choice) to one commenter chosen at random.

***Marcella's winner is Marybelle!  Please email me at with your full name and mailing info!***


  1. Definitely Naval to my way of thinking. It just seems more logical. They are called ships after all & yes, I do know you can have airships, but still.....

  2. I'm not sure if space militaries would follow naval or air force protocols when it comes to naming their bathroom facilities. It does seem like more air force personnel are going into space at this point so Iit may be that they'd use what they're used to. Apparently air force and army call their toilets latrines, and commercial airplanes call their toilets lavatories. It seems to me since we don't really have any large space ships yet, and it doesn't seem like they've settled on any one phrase, you can use any term you want. :D

  3. Thanks for a great post! I loved Enemy Within :) It was one of the first books I bought for my kindle so it has a special place in my e-bookshelf.

    I think that a space military would be naval in nature. It seems to fit better. Like you said, people stuck in small spaces... why not use what has worked for generations. And all of the scifi that I've read that have been military based have all used the naval structure. So maybe I just like what I know :)

  4. Naval for certain -- come on.... didn't you watch Star Trek? Besides there's a whole rationale behind the names of the USN ships.

  5. I would say naval also. I did see star trek like @girlygirl said. They were naval officers. This is a new author for me and would love to tryout the book series. Thanks for the giveaway.

  6. I would agree with naval because it makes sense to me. I think that is great that you live on a boat. I can't imagine doing that though. My husband has made two wooden boats and is always trying to get someone to go sailing with him.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

  7. Oh I think Naval too. Having been a water baby since I saw my first beach! Loved the water still do. And I was a Mariner Girl Scout (Senior level)! Will one of the cats pick the winner? :D I now have new impetus to finish your first book.

  8. Carol, I was a Sea Scout - which was a branch of the Boy Scouts, interestingly enough. So I occasionally get to say "I was a Boy Scout." :D As for getting a cat to pick a winner? I'm sure one of them will oblige. For bribes.