The Healer and the Pirate

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Writing Wednesday - Tucson Festival of Books - Space Travel and Spacefaring Societies

On the writing front, still plotting, probably making some MAJOR changes to the outline for a novel. Even potential changes to who dies, and/or when! I've already written the NOVEL 1.5 times but I'm going to give it one more try! It will be interesting to see if I can write with an outline.

The next panel I saw at the Tucson Festival of Books was Space Travel and Spacefaring Societies, with Catherine Wells, John Vornholt, Timothy Zahn, and David Weber. Again, me attending the panel reflects an interest in a topic more than an endorsement of the authors (though I am reading one of Wells' novels right now--the middle book in a series, I think?--and find it interesting and a surprisingly good use of omniscient POV).

If you're particularly interested, an audio recording of the whole panel appears to be up at Bloomsite . Since that's available, and since I'm tired tonight, I'll just hit a few things I noted. The panel kind of wandered, so there was talk about technology, but not so much about space travel or spacefaring societies!

David Weber made a good point that boiled down to, humans are going to keep doing the same things they've always done, but technology lets us do more of it, faster.

As for actual talk about space travel, Catherine Wells discussed tesseracts and wormholes (real wormholes being the size of a pinhole, but you need an excuse). She suggested you hint at technology but don't get into details.

Timothy Zahn said that you could use any drive with any name (even "Fred's Transport System") to get from here to there, but the limits and constraints must be clear to play fair with readers.

David Weber said that before starting a novel, he writes an essay laying out the universe, including what's in their technology toolbox. He said you must include limits and understand the logical implications of any changes you make to the system. For instance, we need an economic reason to go into space before we will do so. And faced with the NEED to do it, we will find medical and technological advances to help us through space travel. All technology used in telling a story is a plot device, and if it is not used to push the story forward, it's a weak story. Weber also makes an interesting argument (more than once during the festival!) that science fiction stories for modern societies are like fairy tales in a non-technological society.

Zahn and Weber both mentioned "Threat evokes response." Zahn noted that once technology is out of the bottle, you can't stuff it back in. But he suggested that you can hand-wave away technology problems when you assume there's a better mouse. In other words, logically, airplanes might be piloted by drones if the technology existed, but if you want humans in the planes, then create jammers so that the droids can't function.

And my notes failed me here but one of them said that the best way to convey future societies is don't call attention to them at all.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Media/Music Monday - Skillet/Luis Palau/Tempe - March 20, 2011

So a week ago Sunday, my friends from Tucson (!) drove up to Phoenix after church, pretty much to see Skillet at Tempe Town Lake for the Luis Palau Cityfest.  We arrived about 5 PM, and providentially just about stumbled across a couple of my church friends, who I thought would have arrived much earlier and would have already been on their way out.  I'm still stunned over that!

The festival had extreme sports (seemed to be bikes/skateboards) and a kids' area, both of which were winding down when we arrived.  From everything I'd heard, I half-expected the crowds to be totally oppressive, but they were just brisk.

Setup Friday before the event.

Crowd Sunday.

There were a lot of tents for organizations, and also a lot of vendors selling food, invariably for TICKETS.  $1 = 1 ticket. I think the booths were generally run by churches and other organizations. I heard the food could be of mixed quality (as in, a friend said HIS friend had gotten a raw hamburger Saturday!).  So despite the fact that they had some interesting culinary items (like pomme frites!) we just walked down Mill Avenue and ate sandwiches at Jimmy John's.

We came back over to catch much of Luis Palau's sermon from a distance.  Just about every sermon I've attended at this kind of event has been Evangelical (about half the time, including this one, they preach on the prodigal son).  More than half the time there seems to be reminders about sexual purity, too (and with Palau's statistics about children born to single mothers, that's probably necessary!)

Since the bands had some secular appeal and the event was free, an Evangelical message was definitely the way to go, and hopefully a lot of people who raised their hand that they had prayed the sinner's prayer will grow in their faith.  (I read someone on YouTube who was there on Saturday said he saw "thousands" raise their hand!)  
After the preaching we did some more wandering and I picked up some cotton candy (the last one I saw in the whole festival on a stick!).  My friend said I should give it a face.

It turned out surprisingly like a Jack-o-Lantern.

Then we got up a bit closer for Skillet. So everyone I told I was going to see Skillet, asked, "Who are they?" I asked them if they watched TV, then sang "I need a heee-ro" and then they said, "Oh, yeah."  I assume because they recognized the song, not to get me to shut up.

Skillet opened with "Hero"--I've noticed some bands lately are doing one of their biggest songs right off.  Is that to get the crowd fired up?  And/or to remind those who haven't heard much of their music that oh yeah, this band plays the song I like?  I don't know.  Regardless, I love that song.  They did some pyro a bit like the music video but thankfully, no rain.

Here it is live (not my footage).  Song still gives me chills listening to it a week later.

The Last Night (with explanation of the song):


And a few photos while we're at it (they ARE from me, but between me forgetting to set my camera's settings other than "auto" and the motion on stage, not so great :) ).

Would've been cool if the people with kids on their shoulders would have stood in front of the random Luis Palau flags that also blocked people's views. Fortunately, we weren't packed like sardines so there was room to move for a better view.

I was most impressed by the fact that yes, they brought a violinist and cellist--some of their best songs have heavy strings sections, and both men seemed quite talented during their random solos.

Having mostly gone to RAGE and other smaller events, I was surprised at the amount of pyrotechnics.


Did I mention there was a lot of pyro?

There was a lot of pyro.

Anyway, it was a good night with good company.  Hope you've got a Hero living in you!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Flashback Friday - Triangle Waist Factory - March 25, 1911

OK, stepping away from 1921 for a bit, because today is the 100th anniversary of an interesting (and tragic) event, which happened on Saturday, March 25, 1921:


The Flames Spread with Deadly Rapidity Through Flimsy Material Used in the Factory.
When Elevators Stop Many Jump to Certain Death and Others Perish in Fire-Filled Lofts.
Help them to Roof of New York University Building, Keeping the Panick-Stricken in Check.
Plunged to Bottom of Elevator Shaft and Lived There Amid Flames for Four Hours.
Coroner Declares Building Laws Were Not Enforced--Building Modern--Classed Fireproof.
Victims Would Have Ended Day's Work in a Few Minutes--Pay Envelopes Identify Many.
Seeking to Learn Fate of Relatives Employed by the Triangle Waist Company.

--The New York Times, March 26, 1911

The article itself conveys a lot of the horror of the tragedy, and I think you'd be hard-pressed not to think a little of 9/11 when looking through it.

Bodies of 28 Fire Victims are Still Unclaimed--Some Burned Beyond Recognition.
Morbid Sightseers Driven Away When Discovered--Women Again Collapse Beside Their Dead.

--The New York Times, March 28, 1911

The article itself describes the line of people to try to identify the dead--as alluded to, some people just came to try to see what they seemed to consider an interesting spectacle. The article also printed descriptions of those who weren't identified, very close to the style others used to describe bodies they found in the water outside Titanic the next year.

The disaster inspired some labor reforms (which frankly make me really grateful for my job--just 40 hours a week!):

Law Forbids Working Women and Boys More Than 54 Hours a Week.

--The New York Times, October 1, 1912

The proprietors got away with it, and didn't even seem to learn their lesson. (The article goes on to help explain some of the causes.)

Fire Prevention Inspector Finds it Still Disregards Regulations.

--The New York Times, December 24, 1913

And if you can believe it (and this turns my stomach):

$75 Each the Price in 23 Brought for Deaths and Injuries.

--The New York Times, March 12, 1914

The girls weren't making much money, granted, but some of the dead had as much as $800+ (!) in cash on their person. The Inflation Calculator says $75 is $1,586.94 in 2009 dollars.

Lots more text articles at Cornell University's site.

The initial article references the General Slocum disaster, which I'd never heard of before. It was a ferry disaster on June 15, 1904, that killed about 1,012 people, though I don't think many people have heard of it today.

St. Mark's Church Excursion Ends in Disaster in East River Close to Land and Safety.
Flames Following Explosion Drive Scores to Death in the Water.

--The New York Times, June 16, 1904

In numbers, that's a lot closer to the 1,517 people who died in the Titanic, than the Triangle disaster.

There's more information at:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Writing Wednesday - Characterization

My writing updates...I'm trying something new. I'd tell you about it, but Louis Sachar said he doesn't even tell his WIFE when he's writing, let alone what he's working on until the draft is done. But I'm snowflaking it, and it has some ties to "Flight from Endwood." I didn't do any of that "take an hour" stuff (I just did it), but I'm about in the middle of Step 3.

So at the Tucson Festival of Books on the University of Arizona campus, the next thing I did was actually try to get some money from the ATM (my bank's was out of order!) and then I hurried in to the Student Union and jumped into the shortest food line I saw (Chick-fil-A). Mmmm!

Then the next panel I went to was a workshop titled "Characterization: More than Six-Pack Abs and Batting Eyelashes" by romance authors Judy Duarte and Pamela Tracy.  (I'm not particularly familiar with the authors; I attended for the topic.) 

Despite the title and the fact that it was labeled as "romance" there were quite a few writers present who didn't write romance, so that was interesting. Pamela Tracy writes inspirational suspense--I wish I would've looked up ACFW members who were at the Tucson Festival of Books, but I don't know how I would've done that without looking up about a hundred names...

Anyway, Judy presented first. She noted that romance has gotten a bad reputation based on people who read a 1970s romance, or they think it's formulaic. She said the goal was creating characters to engage the reader and making the reader yearn for a happily-ever-after. And the way to achieve that is to wound your character. All characters must learn and go through a character arc. (In romance, both leads have arcs.)

A good thing she noted is that people don't make changes in life until they're uncomfortable--something must really go wrong, and you must force them to change.

She noted you could wound a character using their childhood, events closer to the present, and even a physical wound (though that should also have emotional components). 

In short, something needs to wound your character, even if they don't know there was a wound there. 

You can use backstory to wound characters and make them sympathetic.  Movies (the example she used was "While You Were Sleeping")--can start with backstory.

You need a goal (what), motivation (why) and conflict (why not).  That's pretty common and is mentioned in the Snowflake Method (though Randy Ingermanson flips motivation and goal--I think I might like Judy's order better).

  • Who is the character at the beginning? What is the wound, and how did he or she get it? How does it drive him or her?
  • Who is the character at the end? How has the wound healed? What will drive the character in the future?
In short, know your characters and their backstories.

Pamela had some additions (I recall her saying more than I have notes on; hmmmm.) One suggestion was that when you're stuck, you can perhaps treat the setting as a character (like in "Gone with the Wind"). You should have things that come between characters, as a wedge.

I may be butchering Pamela's diagram concepts now; I forgot to email her to get the information from the handout, and the workshop was more popular than anticipated so they didn't have enough. But I have notes of her saying Term + Class = Distinguishing Characteristic. Characters tend to move through classes, but the term stays the same.

So for Cinderella, her term is always "Cinderella."

But her class changes:

Beloved daughter
Grieving stepdaughter
Beloved by all others (in Ever After, this is everyone around her; in Disney's story, it's the mice and the fairy godmother)

For romance, the hero's journey can mirror or correspond with the heroine's (like Prince Charming starts out as beloved as well).

It sounds maybe ridiculously simple, but I just sketched an outline of the characters of my co-authored romance novel The Pirate and the Healer and they followed this formula pretty well.  I tried for one of my other WIPs, Bonnie of Sheshack (working title), and it was interesting but a little harder.

Near the end she asked, How do you make a book so compelling that the reader remembers the characters' names? Theme and detail about characterization will make them real.

So how do you introduce that needed backstory?

Judy said there shouldn't be a "dump," like the book starting with someone sitting in an airplane, thinking. Rather, it's best to give a little bit at a time, like an onion. She noted one way to figure it out was to go through a published book and mark the backstory to see how it was revealed.

Pamela added to make sure the book is recent--I think she said published in the last 3 years or so, as the amount of backstory readers want has changed over the years. (She's absolutely right; it's amazing how much introspection is common in old novels.....even ones from the 1990s.)

Judy did note that in one story, she had to put a lot of backstory right at the beginning to make sure the character (who appears to be a deadbeat dad) was likable. So in that case, the reader needed to know the character's motivations.

Anyway, it was a lot more informative than I made it sound; I just took really bad notes. More next week!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Media Monday - Florida Renaissance Festival - Part 2

My co-author Maggie and I returned to the Florida Renaissance Festival at Deerfield Beach again on Sunday. You can get a rundown of our Saturday experience, along with a kind of setup of the place, at Part 1.

There's very little to do before 10:30 or so (although, one place we walked by had a breakfast menu set up!). So Maggie and I just did some contemplating.

As an aside, if Masha Bell is to be believed, English spelling wasn't really formalized until the 1750s.

So the first show we saw that morning was Wonderfool. I hadn't been impressed from the description on the website (plus jesters always seem a little like clowns to me), but he did impressive things with fire and made me laugh a lot, even though some of the humor was a touch borderline. (Quite a few kids present, so nothing too bad.) I finally felt like I was back at home at the Arizona faire!

Then we saw the flea circus. We were in the back and of course fleas would be small anyway, so no attempt at pictures! The guy did some interesting sleight of hand at the start, but the flea circus itself was surprisingly dark humor (every "flea"--which the humans spoke to more and more like family members--was coaxed into doing a trick, or failing at the trick, and subsequently died). Now, granted, fleas aren't very nice, and it appears the old-time flea circuses relied on tormenting the fleas for real, as opposed to "killing" fleas that aren't real. But still.

So this is a baked potato with butter, sour cream, cheese, and an Italian sausage.

From the same place that had chocolate-covered bacon and fried Oreos. Maggie and I split it and it was good! Honestly, the sausage wasn't strictly necessary but I thought that was what made it an interesting food item, versus just a baked potato. And I like protein.

Then we did some more wandering, I believe, before we resorted to this.

In my defense, by splitting it, it was only 1/4 pound of cookie each.

So we sat down to eat our cookie, and what do you know? Here comes something the Arizona Renaissance Festival doesn't really have...a parade! It has pretty much EVERYONE in it, including many of the shopkeeps.

I need to make a medieval dress someday. Maybe particolored.

Note the fairy catcher chasing a fairy. Given the fairy focus of the Florida Renaissance Festival, that's a great costume/character idea (though I think he and the fairy were together):

King and queen.

I told you there were a lot of fairies.

Then we saw the Drake Irish Dancers (again, not the best view, so no pictures). I thought they were good, though I'm pretty much dance illiterate.

We were set to do some more wandering, but we were passing by as Tribal Circus was about to start their act and I figured since there was a trapeze it had to be pretty good.

Just as they were getting started, it started to sprinkle, so they had to take off their microphones.

So I'm not sure if everything they did was their regular act or not, but it was fun to watch anyway! The rain soon stopped.

Solely for my backbend-loving friend.

Then we went to see Wolgemut (and by the end, "some guy" whose name I've forgotten!). German bagpipe. It was so loud I wore earplugs...

So I like to look at things, but I'm really not much for actually buying. You wouldn't know it for all the clutter in my house, but unless it's things that I love, and/or at a deep, deep discount (see VNSA Book Sale), I don't usually buy much. Didn't get much in Florida, either--just a little trinket necklace with a pirate ship charm I'm 95% certain came from Hobby Lobby, and then, finally, an amber pendant like Kirsten's!

Not very pure, and frankly the shopkeep wasn't really friendly, but I needed a souvenir, darn it!

Then we saw The Duelists, who were a bit edgy for the kids (though as they put it, if your kids understand their double-entendres, then "you're bad parents"). The show we saw wasn't too bad, but they do a later one that they say is just for adults, which would have been too much for me. Anyway, they gave lessons on dueling (and during the demonstration, one of them died in Maggie's lap--after asking her to scoot over on the bench).

Sometime during the show it started to POUR. Not sprinkle; I mean POUR. To the Duelists' credit, they did not give up, but finished the show (mics still on!).

We'd figured to stay until close and see a couple more shows, and it looked like the rain would stick around--I can't see how they would've started any of the shows directly following the one we saw in the rain. We headed toward the gate, noting that every tent and awning was full of people hiding from the rain. And despite my umbrella, Maggie and I were both soaked to the skin, so we decided to call it a day.

Sure enough, before we'd even reached the car, the rain stopped! I was still cold and uncomfortable, though, and I think heading on home was the right choice!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Flashback Friday - March 13, 1921 - March 19, 1921 - Earthquakes, Airplanes, Whisky...

The seasonal post comes first, and it's from the Casa Grande Bulletin!

The dance given St. Patrick's night by the American Ladies Benevolent Association proved to be an exceedingly good one and was thoroughly enjoyed by the large crowd which filled the hall. Delicious home made cake, with lemonade, were the refreshments offered and the refreshment tables were well potronized (sic). Miss Helen Browne sang "Mother Machree" and "My Wild Irish Rose." The decorations were in harmony with the occasion and were beautifully arranged. Altogether the dance was the best one this year.

--The Casa Grande Bulletin, March 19, 1921

Earthquakes are on a lot of people's minds today. But back in the 1920s?


Southern Part of State to Be Shaken Next Saturday, Says Prof. Cole.

Special to The New York Times....

--The New York Times, March 13, 1921

Professor Edgar Cole predicted an earthquake "between 3 and 7 o'clock next Saturday." Didn't come to pass.

I didn't actually see any articles on Reeves Hill, so I assume they mean this one. Note the horrifying descriptions at the front, followed by an expert explaining "it was nothing" at the end.


Lake George, Fort Edward and Other Towns Experience Third Shock in Fortnight.

--The New York Times, January 28, 1921

Moving on!

Dressmaker Leases House on East Fifty-fourth Street.

--The New York Times, March 19, 1921

It appears they're talking about Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon. If that page is right, she invented the fashion runway.


Another Increase in Price by Cuban Commission Feared by Dealers.

--The New York Times, March 19, 1921

Sugar was 5 1/4 cents per pound (an advance!). Local refiners raised the price from 6.85 cents to 8 cents per pound.

Bulk prices on March 16, 2011 were listed at about 61 cents a pound on this page on

Victim of Prohibition, kind of:


Wife is Overcome When Revenue Officers Take Husband's Whisky.

--The New York Times, March 19, 1921

She was in poor health but dropped dead of "excitement."

Found this interesting because 1) the New York Times found it worth reporting and 2) it looks like they DID keep from incorporating.


Wants to Avert Any Project to Incorporate With Other Communities.

Special to The New York Times.

Palm Beach, in the Winter, has a population of 5,000, while in the Summer it is practically a deserted village except for watchmen and employes of the hotels. Winter residents want to keep control of its affairs out of the hands of permanent inhabitants in the thriving town of West Palm Beach, across the lake....

--The New York Times, March 19, 1921

Speaking of Florida:


Strikes Her While She is Gathering Shells on Florida Beach.

--The New York Times, March 14, 1921

All articles believed to be public domain per US law.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thursday Bonus - Music (free music by A Rotterdam November!)

Scroll down most of the way for a great video and all of the way for free music!

So I've been listening to the news on my drive to and from work lately. Between all the turmoil in Japan and also Libya, I've found the news interesting. But it's not always good for the spirit.

This morning I felt like singing...but I only like some of the music on Air1, not much on KLove, and still miss when The Effect was in Arizona. So I ended up listening to the news again.

But this evening, I finally put on my music and got to sing along to a band I like. I believe they've broken up, and the songs I cite here are actually from their album "These Words Become Us," which is out of print; has one used copy for over $60 (!) And I wouldn't sell my copy of that album for that price!

I was blessed to listen to the late (?) great Ever Stays Red on my whole drive home. I love encouraging songs, I love rock songs, and I love Christian songs. I love this song! (And most of their others.)

You can listen to it here. The fan video is kind of appropriate because a commenter noted, the band used to play a video of the old animated Superman while playing this song live (with lyrics!).

The lyrics listed below are a combination of the liner notes (which are artistic but have typos and missing lines) and my ear, which is horrible at helping me transcribe. (I'd argue it's "break of day" but the liner notes say "light" twice.)

You say you're ready to fall, you say you're down on your luck
You say you've given it all but now you're giving up
'Cause everything's your fault, you're so ready to fall
You've got nothing to lose

Is there anyone there, is there anyone that
Could take a second to care about the place where you're at
When everything goes wrong you can't see to your heart
What are you going to do?

Is there anyone who hears me talking tonight?
We're so ready to fall, we're all ready to fall, what are we going to do?

You've grown tired of a life
Where there's no one left alive
Hold on if only for this one last time.

Look to the sky to make it through the night
This all won't last forever
These times can't last forever
One beat in time could bring the break of light
This all won't last forever
These times can't last forever

You say you're ready to fall, you say you gave up the fight
You say you tried to be strong, but you forgot how to try
You love to say it's your fault, you're so ready to fall
You've got no place to turn

Now I say there's a chance, I always said there was fight
Trying to hard to breathe just to prove you're alive
When nothing seems to work and now that you're all alone
Who will help heal the hurt?

Hold on if only for tonight
I swear it'll be all right
Take your hand in mine and we'll be fine

Look to the sky to make it through the night
This all won't last forever
These times can't last forever
One beat in time could bring the break of light
This all won't last forever
These times can't last forever

So tell me, can this carry us through the night
And keep us still 'til the first sign of light?

Look to the sky to make it through the night
This all won't last forever
These times can't last forever
One beat in time could bring the break of light
This all won't last forever
These times can't last forever

Anyway, songs like that really lift me up, and Ever Stays Red also has excellent outright worship songs to sing along to. Probably the best concert imaginable, which I was blessed enough to go to several years ago, was Delirious? with Ever Stays Red opening. Love them!

And also, I DARE you to watch this video and not at least smile.

OK! The free music (for a limited time only, I'm sure) is 3 songs from another band I like, A Rotterdam November. It is on their fan page on Facebook, but I don't think you need an account to download it. Just scroll through the songs; three say "download." If you like them, go ahead and "like" the band's page too. It's the least you can do; those songs are like a $2.97 value.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Writing Wednesday - Tucson Festival of Books - History Meets Fantasy

First, my weekly writing update. I actually still need to do a lot of typing on my snowflake, but I'm basically working on Step 4 now (and actually enjoying coming up with some new threads!). But I have a lot of work ahead of me. It's a bit depressing that the author of the snowflake method says that it may have taken as long as a week to get to this step...I need to work harder.

So as I think I promised, I'm going to share with you everything I heard at the Tucson Festival of Books! Preface: I attended most panels because of an interest in the TOPICS, not the speakers. So some of the people you may see referenced may not write things that are in line with my beliefs, and me mentioning an author here isn't any sort of endorsement at all unless I state otherwise. OK?

I roughly outlined the festival earlier. There are tons of "workshops" and "panels." Most look something like this one.

So I was tempted to go to the panel that author Dave Cullen commented on my blog was on at 10 AM Saturday. But I thought that would be a good compromise on something that would kind of interest my mom and kind of interest me. Except she wasn't interested! So with the fear of potential crowds I ended up at Yvonne Navarro and Janni Lee Simner's "History Meets Fantasy - When to Research and When to Make It Up" panel. (They're both TusCon regulars so I've certainly heard them both speak quite a bit.)

Yvonne Navarro said that you have to take what's real and twist it to fit your purposes.

Janni noted that Thief Eyes was well-researched (at one point she noted that she had to run it by an Icelandic reader to make sure it rang true!). She said that sometimes you start writing a story and realize it takes a lot more research than you thought. She also noted that you have to set up reader expectations. There are lots of different kinds of fairies and vampires, and these portrayals are influenced by legends, by the conversations authors have with each other on the page, and what you bring to them. Overall, you have to know your canon, whether you're writing history or a licensed property.

Janni also noted that it can be easier to have a character who doesn't know everything, so that things can be explained. ((Aside: I do that myself but I wonder if that's something more acceptable in children's and YA novels; I know in adult fantasy it's considered a cliche to have the farm boy who doesn't know anything come onto the scene.... Cliche or not, though, it does seem to work.))

On the topic of vampires, Yvonne noted that not all vampires drink blood (they may take life force, memories, youth--"anything that you, as a writer, could want them to take.") But you have to use the right words, whether or not they are historically accurate (some words that are accurate might not feel right.)

As far as writing goes, Janni said, "You can't write for every reader."

Yvonne replied, "You try, but there are just too many people." She noted that genres cycle through, so what you love may be popular in a few years. Right now zombies are popular, although they have changed quite a bit from their earlier portrayals (namely, they have gotten faster).

Janni and Yvonne joked that the zombies would pick off the smokers. Janni added that it could make a good ad campaign: "I gave up smoking and I survived the zombie apocalypse."

Again, back to writing, Janni said that it's very hard to figure out what people want. Write what you love. It's not a guarantee, but you'll have a better chance of selling, and you get the experience of writing it. (She noted this came from experience, where she tried to write what would sell, and couldn't sell it.)

Yvonne added, write what you love; tell the story you want to tell. "If you don't like what you're doing, if you're not enjoying what you're writing, you might as well work at an office somewhere ... you have to write what you want to write." She said you have to grab readers in the first paragraph. She also suggests new writers read their work all out loud, like it's happening, to help catch typos.


I'm actually kind of remiss in not having read anything by Janni Lee Simner in particular. I've been to a couple of her readings at TusCon and they're always excellent. I need to remedy that deficiency fairly soon. She's always been very friendly to me. Actually, at her last reading I attended, she did a drawing and I won a journal she made herself!

My concern with journals is the pressure of finding something worthwhile with which to fill them, though...someday!

And I think I'll make a trip to my library soon.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Media Monday - Florida Renaissance Festival - Part 1

So I guess this could be a little more timely, since Sunday was the last day for the Florida Renaissance Festival in Deerfield Beach. I visited it recently with my co-author Maggie Phillippi. I've been to the Arizona Renaissance Festival more times than I can easily count, and was interested to see how a Ren Faire a couple thousand miles away was!

Quite a few things were the same--a surprising amount of hand-crafted merchandise (like necklaces and even those little shoulder animals) were basically the same. But a lot was different. Unlike the Arizona festival, Florida's is set in a County park. That means that you have to pay $1.50 a person just to park.

Yes, seriously. I'd say on the up side that means you don't have to park in dirt, but actually, you park in...grass.

Since the festival is in a park, the buildings and stages are basically temporary.

Even the tickets look different than Arizona's!

So yeah, once you are inside, there are a lot more tents than Arizona's, and a LOT more trees!

Seemed to be a greater proportion of fried and fair-style food, but not sure. A lot more gyros than Arizona.

Two more things you won't see at Arizona's fest--numerous signs, and WATER!

(The signs are necessary because it is laid out like a meandering park--not more like a mall, like Arizona's.)

In some ways, it seems much more authentic than Arizona's. No giant mountains looming in the distance, lots more public areas where re-enactors are camping, some with displays...

(Careful where you take pictures, by the way. If you take pictures near the actual private tents, even if the area is fully open, you just might get accused of actually entering a tent that was closed, and get a long lecture on why that's not allowed. O_o )

On the other hand, some vistas in Florida are kind of wrong.

Park bathroom (before the lines got long):

For entertainment, we saw the Daredevil Chicken Club. Don't want to spoil the show for you too much, but that is a piece of banana in the air there. Unabashed silliness (and kind of gross).

And we saw Celtic Mayhem, a band that also plays local venues, evidently:

They had a musical version of Cinderella, which was rather unusual; I guess they do a different musical every year?

Florida really IS another world; it was rife with additional Disney references, like Cinderella singing "Godmother, please" (to the tune of "Under the Sea").


That's the prince there behind Cinderella (street sweeper Armon Hammer moonlighting as an actor):

After a brief bit of rain (just enough to make the benches wet!) we saw the falcon/hawk show, which was mostly the birds flying around randomly or being hooded while the man in charge told us all about falcons and hawks. Some of the information was interesting and some was repeated several times.

Hawks attack animals on the ground, and tear them up so much that you can only use the remains for stew, whereas falcons neatly kill their prey. Falcons were the birds of the nobility and hawks were the birds of the common man, he said. And falcons and hawks only hunt when they're hungry; they don't hunt to refine their skills, like cats do.

The Florida Renaissance Festival also had a "model pirate ship" that I'd expected to be somewhat larger.

And fry bread (it felt wrong to eat fry bread in Florida for some reason). It was really crispy; I couldn't even finish it, even with Maggie having some!

And later, this monstrosity (chocolate covered bacon!).

It was cold and wasn't very good (and I LIKE crispy bacon! Maggie doesn't, so she didn't care for it at the start). The bacon and chocolate were both good quality, but they didn't go together. I think I ate a piece, just to say I did. But it did garner attention while I was holding it while we waited for Maggie's deep-fried Oreos (delicious!). Everyone wanted to know how it was, and someone advised me to call 911 in advance before eating it, just in case.

The last thing--unlike Arizona's festival, Florida's has the greyhounds OUTSIDE instead of inside!

More pictures next Monday!