Where did Lily Dawes get the code name Sprocket?

The aspect of coming up with ideas for a new book, or series, that is, for me, the most fun is definitely the characters.

Once I’ve a plot idea I need to get that plot going by creating people to drive the plot.

The main idea for “Buccaneers” was to have a group of kids, living on a remote island, solve a mystery. The Catholic School part was something that I’ve been wanting to do for some time. I thought it would be fun to draw on my own Catholic School experiences. I also wanted to set the story in the simpler times of post WWII America.

Since my main audience is young readers, I wanted to present how kids would survive without the internet and cell phones. But I also wanted “my kids” to use the technology of their times, a precursor to how their modern counterparts have embraced technology.

So, Lily! I close my eyes and here’s this healthy, pig-tailed girl with sagging knee socks, a slightly untidy uniform, and saddle shoes. She’s a little taller than her contemporaries, and able to corral her friends into a club.

The name, Lily Dawes, just sounds nice. When I do workshops with students, they want to know how I come up with names for characters. I honestly can’t say I have a gimmick for doing this. I think being a teacher with seventy-five to one hundred students’ names per year, there is a backlog in my memory and names just pop up.

The name must fit the character. Lily Dawes is a name that bespeaks a future young woman with a beautiful name. But, c’mon, we’re in 1947 in the eight grade and a lovely young woman is not on the radar. So, Lily chooses her code name, Sprocket. A sprocket is a machine part that make parts of a machine engage and move. The other Buccaneers have code names too. Find out about them next time.



When an author like me gets a review that says, “I can’t wait to read the next one,” it’s a siren call that cannot be ignored. You start to think about the other adventures your beloved Buccaneers will share with your readers. The Buccaneers of St. Frederick Island Living on a remote island and attending a school, housed in an old pirate’s castle is the backdrop set to tempt the reader. A network of caves cut off by a roiling surf provides danger and mystery for the latest Buccaneer’s adventure. Becca Dawes, mother of the leader of the Buccaneers, Lily, code name Sprocket, is owner, managing editor and chief reporter of St. Frederick’s only newspaper, The Foghorn. Lending support the Sprocket and her crew often puts Becca in troubled waters. Pardon the pun. The “Beachies”, a community of folks who live off the land and sea, never miss a thing that happens in the island. Their spokesman, Sibby Fintail, is more than willing to rally his crew behind solving the mystery that finds him attacked as he works to retrieve valuable crystals from the caves. The “Beachies” add a special flavor to this new tale. From St. Frederick’s beginning, the Native American inhabitants, the North Breeze Tribe, has been its Soul. These peaceful people seek to protect their way of life and their island home, and provide a strong defense against any person, place or thing that threatens St. Frederick Island and its inhabitants. These are the Island people who will come together to find the culprits behind the attack on Sibby and use their resources to help the Buccaneers overcome the efforts of those unknown forces to block them at every turn. Hang onto your hats! The Buccaneers will keep you turning those pages as fast as you can, but SPOILER ALERT, don’t go peeking at those last chapters. If you laughed at some of their antics and held your breath at others, you’re going to love this new Buccaneers escapade, THE BUCCANEERS OF ST. FREDERICK ISLAND: THE SPARKLING CAVES




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The Buccaneers of St. Frederick Island

What can possibly happen when a crime happens under the very noses of a group of very savvy eighth graders at St. BeSillius’ Catholic School on St. Frederick’s Island? When the money they raised to buy toys for children in homeless shelters in near-by NYC is stolen, the Buccaneers, as they call themselves are outraged. Despite warnings from Father Felix and Sr. Jo, Sprocket, the leader of the Buccaneers, and her determined buddies set out to follow the clues, run down the thief, and get those toys for the homeless kids. When their clubhouse is burned down, and a threatening letter is sent to the local newspaper, The Foghorn, owned and operated by Sprocket’s mother, the Buccaneers are even more determined to unravel the plot against them. A mysterious island once owned by the pirate, Jon Buccleigh and a labyrinthine cave serve as the setting for this skullduggery. A Native American healer, her community, and a group of the beach people conspire with the Buccaneers to get that money back.You will be laughing at some of the Buccaneers’ antics and gasping at what those brave eight-graders face to solve the mystery. The story is rich with colorful and engaging characters as well as the flavor of post-war America in 1947. An altogether fun and satisfying read.


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