That was fun.
So was attending the Portland Pirate Festival yesterday, a whirlwind trip that included seven hours of round-trip driving to stand in the rain with 1,700 men, women and children determined to reclaim the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of pirates.
The Portland festival set the record last year with 1,670, but it was broken four times in the interim by other groups. We needed 7,000 to reclaim it yesterday, and though we didn't manage that, we did set a new U.S. record.
Admittedly, my interest in the pirate thing is tied partly to MAKING WAVES, my debut novel that hits shelves next August. It's sort of a contemporary twist on the pirate romance cliche, and the gist of it is this:
Juli lost count of the number of jobs she’s held, but she definitely never applied to be a pirate. Or a stowaway on a pirate ship, for that matter. But when fate lands her on boat captained by Alex – a man whose unscrupulous boss kicked him to the curb after 20 faithful years – Juli finds herself in the middle of a revenge-fueled diamond heist in the Caribbean with a crew more suited to the boardroom than the poop deck. For his part, Alex didn’t plan to be a pirate, either. He just wants his dignity, pension, and normal life back. But normal flies out the window once Juli enters the picture – a twist Alex wishes he didn’t find so exhilarating. Soon, the two discover that while normal is nice, weird can be wonderful.
One reason I attended the Pirate Festival this year was to assess whether there might be an opportunity for book promo next year. I'm not sure it's the best venue for that, but I definitely got something from the endeavor – namely, a sense of camaraderie, of being a part of something bigger than my own little make-believe world.
It reminded me of when my amazing agent suggested I join Romance Writers of America earlier this year, and the introvert in me wanted to hide under my bed and whimper, "but all those people!"
What I've learned in the six months since I joned two local RWA groups is that I gain a lot from belonging to a group like that, and it's not just the lectures and workshops. The real value – at least for me – is the sense of teamwork in something that's often a very solitary pursuit. There's a power in knowing you're surrounded by people who don't think you're odd for jotting character notes in line at the grocery store or debating which eye patch goes best with your boots.
Are you part of any writers' group or any other organization? What do you gain from that? If you haven't joined, what's holding you back? Please share!
And since we're sharing, here are some of my photos from yesterday:
|The timing of the trip meant I had to take part in my weekly online revision class with bestselling author Lani Diane Rich at my in-laws' kitchen table while dressed in full pirate attire. Nothing like holding a plastic sword while you learn about plot structure.|
|Hanging at the Portland Pirate Festival.|
|Waiting for the final count from the Guinness World Record officials.|
|Hey, pirates gotta go, too.|
|You know, sometimes there are just no words.|