How the Anne Venture Got Her Name

In the process of writing the first book in my middle grade adventure series, I had to find a name for a ship. People are difficult enough to name, but a ship? I’ve never named one before, so this proved an interesting process.

The book involves my characters Mike Triplett, Tommy Cooper and Elijah Capelli going back in time to 1714 where they find themselves on board a ship bound from England to the American colonies. It was important to me to find a name for the ship that was both meaningful to my story and historically plausible.

I started my journey of discovery by researching the names of real historical ships and I found names fell into two basic categories. First, ships were named for a person. Usually, this would be a saint, a monarch, or a significant benefactor who contributed to the ship’s mission. The second category would be to choose a term that gave meaning to the ship’s purpose, words such as blessing, discovery and fortune.

There was also a third option, one that combined the two together to form a name. This is the direction I chose for my ship. I decided a monarch would be the easiest choice, so I set about learning who reigned in England during the time frame in which I planned to set my story, which was the late colonial period of the Americas. There were a number of monarchs, James, George, William and Mary. But I found myself drawn to one queen in particular, Queen Anne, who held the throne from 1702-1714.

I chose Anne for a couple of reasons. One, I have a personal connection to the name, as it is also my own name. The second reason for choosing Anne was that in reading more about her history, her tragic life seemed uniquely suited to where I hoped to go with my story. Anne lost her grandmother, a maternal aunt and her mother at a young age. She became queen following the death of her sister and brother-in-law. Furthermore, though she experienced more than fifteen pregnancies, she had no surviving children, Prince William, her only child to survive infancy, died of smallpox at the age of eleven. Death, it seems surrounded her, almost, you might say, like a curse.

So, Queen Anne was to be the royal behind the ship I was building. Next, I set out to find the right word to pair with her name to become the identity of my ship. I looked at the other words chosen to name ships: Fortune, Blessing, Discovery, Bonaventure, Assurance. These are words that speak clearly of the ship’s mission and purpose. My ship was to be one bearing passengers from England to a new life in a new world. This was to be a venture, a dangerous, but potentially profitable undertaking. And there it was, Venture.

According to, venture means:

1. an undertaking involving uncertainty as to the outcome, especially a risky or dangerous one
2. a business enterprise or speculation in which something is risked in the hope of profit; a commercial or other speculation

It was the perfect fit. And so my ship became the Anne Venture, apparently cursed to suffer many deaths.

My three boys – Mike, Tommy and Elijah – will find themselves in the middle of the Atlantic, unable to return home until they can find a way to break the Curse of the Anne Venture.

Photo/Art credit: Isaac S., age 9

For further reading on Queen Anne:
The Tragic Life of Queen Anne
Queen Anne

The Silver Compass Adventures: An Introduction, part 3

Over the last few weeks, I have introduced my current work-in-progress, a novel series titled The Silver Compass Adventures. It has been my Camp NaNoWriMo project through the month of April, and I am very nearly finished with the first book of the series. I have introduced you to two of my main characters, Mike Triplett and Tommy Cooper. Now, here is the third member of the adventurous trio, Elijah Capelli.

Elijah comes from a large Jewish Italian family. His parents are both professors at a local university. He has three older brothers and one older sister. Jerry, the oldest, is in the Marines, and currently deployed overseas. Then there is Isaiah, Annie and Zeke. Elijah is the youngest.

Four years ago, the Capelli’s moved from Chicago, to the small community just outside the state capitol where they now live. Elijah is a bit shy, and the move was not an easy one for him. He became fast friends with Mike Triplett when it turned out they shared a love of classic video games. Mike’s friend Tommy Cooper was a bit harder to convince, but before too long, the three boys were inseparable.

Elijah would trust his friends with anything from his most embarrassing moments, to his newly discovered fear of outer space. But there’s one thing he can’t bring himself to share. He really likes Mike’s sister, A.J. Really, really likes her. And to share this secret would be to invite ridicule from Mike and Tommy which would just be more than he could bear.

Too small for sports, Elijah prefers books to physical activities. He knows his way around a chess board far better than a baseball field. Still, he has great respect for his friends and their athletic abilities. Cautious to a fault, he’s become the voice of reason for the little group.

Elijah isn’t one to back down from a challenge, however, and when Mike is given that compass from his granddad, he is immediately sucked into the mystery of how it works. And any good experiment must be repeated.

Therefore, although not as eager as the others to rush headlong into whatever might come, he can’t resist the Silver Compass Adventures.

Photo credit: Katie Aguilera

The Silver Compass Adventures: An Introduction, Part Two

My work on the Silver Compass Adventures continues. The boys are in the middle of a wild ride across the Atlantic in the Curse of the Anne Venture. A couple of weeks ago, I introduced you to Mike Triplett. Today, I’d like you to meet Thomas “Tommy” Cooper.

Tommy is eleven years old. He’s lived with his grandparents since he was two. His mom is currently back in a drug treatment program and he doesn’t really know his dad (though, that may be about to change). Aside from being old, his grandparents are sort of cool. Sometimes. Grandpa Cooper has been teaching Tommy to find his way around a mechanic’s shop. He works hard, and expects Tommy to do the same. Money might be tight around the Cooper home, but with a steady paper route and a handful of regular lawn mowing jobs, Tommy can usually do most of the things he likes to do.

Life in a small community is sometimes dull for Tommy, considered a troublemaker by some folks. But mostly, he’s a good kid. He’s not afraid to speak his mind, even if it gets him in trouble. He treats authority figures with respect as long as he believes they deserve it. Which is why he has a really hard time with his mom.

Tommy has a soft spot for animals. He’s not allowed to have a pet at home, his grandpa is allergic and they just cost too much. Still, this hasn’t kept Tommy from trying to bring home the occasional stray.

Mike Triplett has been Tommy’s best friend for as long as he can remember. They learned how to walk together, started school together. They ride bikes and skateboards together. Then, when they were in the second grade, Elijah moved to town, and Mike and Elijah hit it off real fast. Afraid he was losing his best friend, Tommy couldn’t bring himself to like Elijah much. Until Tommy found out Elijah has an older brother in the Marines, and he has an awesome video game collection! Tommy decided the kid was okay after all.

Tommy played Little League with Mike for a year, but doesn’t love the game like his friend. He’s played football, soccer, basketball. He started to learn the guitar. Tommy hasn’t quite figured out yet what his passion is.

One thing is for certain, Tommy does love to have fun. He’s a bit of a thrill seeker, an adventurer. And just when it’s shaping up to be a rather boring summer, Mike is given a special compass that once belonged to his granddad, a really old compass. And it turns out, the compass can transport them through time.

Just imagine the possibilities of the Silver Compass Adventures!

Photo credit: Katie Aguilera

The Silver Compass Adventures: An Introduction

I started this blog as an opportunity to do more of what I love: write. More importantly, to share my love of words with others. In keeping with that, I’ve decided it’s time to share a bit more about my current work in progress. Some of you may know, April is the first session of Camp NaNoWriMo. If you’re not familiar with that, here’s their website. I am participating in this writing challenge with a word goal of 30,000. More importantly, my goal is to finish the books I’m currently writing.

Currently, I’m working on a middle grade adventure novel that I hope to build into a series. It centers around three eleven year old boys who find they have a device that can transport them through time and space. It is a compass, given to one of the boys by his granddad, a family heirloom. In their first adventure together with the compass, they are transported back to the early 18th century and find themselves in the middle of the Atlantic on a ship bound for the American colonies where they find themselves confronted by the Curse of the Anne Venture.

While I don’t want to give away any spoilers for the story, I would like to introduce you to my three intrepid adventurers. First up, I give you Michael Triplett, the owner of the compass.

Michael Triplett lives in a small town just outside the state capitol. His mom and dad divorced a few years ago, and his mom is remarried. Michael, or Mike as he prefers now, lives with his mom, stepdad, and sisters A.J. and Gabriella.

Mike plays short stop on his local Little League team. He’s been playing baseball since he was big enough to hold a bat. He started playing short stop two years ago, when he was nine, deciding it was his favorite position because of his favorite player, Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees. Baseball is his favorite thing ever, and there’s nothing worse than a rained out game.

Except maybe sisters. A.J., or Amanda Jean, is Mike’s twin sister. Mike and A.J. get along okay most of the time. Especially when they need to defend each other against their two year sister, Gabby.

Mike goes to school with this two best friends, Tommy Cooper and Elijah Capelli. The three boys are virtually inseparable, hanging out at the ball field, the skate part or the arcade, they’re sure to be found there together.

Mike’s favorite person in the whole world was his Granddad Triplett. During the time leading up to and just after his parents’ divorce, Mike and A.J. spent quite a bit of time with their granddad. He was the one who taught Mike how to ride a bike, catch a fly ball and bait a hook. For as long as Mike can remember, there was an annual fishing trip with Granddad, dad, Mike and A.J. Until last year. Last year, just before summer, Granddad passed away.

Mike misses his granddad tremendously, especially as his eleventh birthday approaches. Life has become unbearably complicated now with another new baby on the way, and dad too busy trying to keep his business running.

Then, on his eleventh birthday, Mike is given a silver compass, a family heirloom that belonged to his granddad. It turns out, this compass has some rather interesting properties, and when he gets together with his two best friends, the compass transports them to another time and place.

And so begin the Silver Compass Adventures.

Photo credit: Katie Aguilera