Monday, September 20, 2010

Is that a cutlass in your trousers,
or are you just happy to see me?

Yesterday was International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and since I don't generally post on Sundays, allow me to say this belatedly:

AAAAAAAAR!

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.

31 comments :

Linda G. said...

Awwwwrrr. Love the pics! :)

Looks like a good time was had. And, hey, do you get to write this kind of thing off on your taxes now? Because that would make it even cooler. ;)

Harley May said...

Love this. Did you ask Pythag to keep the mullet on for a while?

Patty Blount said...

Love it!

LadyGenette said...

Almost missed the questions because the pictures were so danged cute! Your hubby looks kind of adorable in that outfit, by the way.

I have yet to join any writers' organizations because I am actually still not sure what genre my writing falls into. Weird, right? I just write and let the plot come to me.

Anne said...

This is too funny. Love the pics!

Jason said...

I haven't joined any kind of writer's organization. Where do you start? Where do you find one? Me = complete novice here.

Danica Avet said...

Love the pics, matey!

I've been a member of RWA for 3 years now (or something like that), a member of my local and on-line chapters for 2 years. I have to say it was the best thing I ever did. I was skeptical as well, but the people are amazing, the information is astounding, and it feels good to BELONG. Because humans are social animals (in spite of the fact that writers, by nature are generally anti-social) and we all need to belong to something. So, you put thousands of anti-social romance writers in an organization and you get us! It's great :)

Matthew AT Banning said...

Love the pictures!!

Unfortunately, we don't have anything like this where I happen to live in British Columbia. These almost make me wish we did!

Elizabeth Ryann said...

That's awesome! I particularly like your boot sword.

But I thought your husband didn't have a head, let alone a mullet. I'm really disillusioned right now. What other secrets might you be keeping??

Elizabeth Flora Ross said...

Great pics! Love your costumes! What a fun time!

You need to come down to FL for the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival. And bring the costumes. It's all about the pirates. Every night they storm the island and take it over. ;)

Candyland said...

You the hottest pirate wench I've ever seen. Period.

Sierra Godfrey said...

Arrrren't you glad you went? I mean, how fun! And you got to dress up-- well done to both of you for going the distance. And, I'm impressed with how you're thinking outside the box for pirate book promotion.

Dr. Goose said...

Tawna,

Since my son, beast, loves pirates so he asked a lot of questions in regard to your pictures. Like, "Is that pirate going to the bathroom?"

Did you see the bumper sticker that reads, "You can have my chest but don't touch my booty."? That's my favorite.

Tawna Fenske said...

Linda G, you'd better believe I saved every single receipt! :)

Harley May, you wouldn't believe how many times we've both worn that mullet wig over the last few years. Never mind, you'd totally believe it.

Patty, wanna touch my sword?

LadyGenette, there are a lot of writers' groups that aren't genre-specific. For example, over here we have Willamette Writers' Group, which is kind of a catch-all for a lot of different genres (several of our RWA members belong to it).

Anne, I wish I'd snapped more of some of the truly bizarre costumes, but I think you get the idea!

Jason, I know you're in Oregon, so off the top of my head I'd say Willamette Writers might be a nice group that's not genre-specific. @nwfoodie (aka Sharon) could tell you all about the Vancouver, WA Writers' Mixer which sounds like a really nice group as well. I quickly googled "Oregon writers' groups" and came up with a site that seems to have some pretty good resources: http://www.oregonauthors.org/groups/ Good luck!

Danica, I was reluctant to join RWA for many years, but I definitely agree with everything you said.

Matthew, it's possible there's a festival near you that you don't even know about. Here's one great list I found: http://piratefestivals.com/

Elizabeth Ryann, the boots turned out to be a great place to stash weaponry, and my cleavage turned out to be a great place to stash money and other valuables. Win!

Elizabeth Flora Ross, it's the back-to-back comments from the Elizabeths again! That does sound like a way cool festival. Any idea when it is?

Candyland, Pythag kept calling me his "buxom wench." Nicest thing he's ever said to me.

Sierra, I have to confess, I loooooove playing dress-up!

Thanks for reading, guys!
Tawna

Jeannie Moon said...

I'm a member of the Long Island Romance Writers and another RWA chapter, Dunes and Dreams that is also local for me. I'm more active in one group than the other, but being part of these organizations helps me feel more connected to other writers and the industry in general. I've made some good contacts, some lovely friendships and I'm constantly learning. Nothing better than that.

Ricky Bush said...

I did finally join up with Sisters In Crime and they have a wealth of resources that they share. Great group. There's not a local chapter near enough for me to visit physically, but virtual visits have proved valuable. By the way--I have no cutlass.

Debra L. Schubert said...

Aye, aye, matey! You two make a mighty fine pirate couple. Who knew an eye patch could be so sexy?

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

I love pirate stories. One of the first romance novels I ever read was a pirate one that I've tried to unearth for years, but I can't remember the title. It kills me. Yours sounds fantastic, though. Great twist.

What a super festival. I'd love to go to something like this. Your pirate clothes are so smexy.

A. S. Boudreau said...

Looks like a blast. Great photos!! :)

Claire Dawn said...

Your costume was awesome! You're one fine wench!

Laina said...
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Laina said...

Lol!! Some of those pictures are hilarious :D

I write at the group blog The YA Lit Six http://yalitsix.blogspot.com/

I find it great sharing worries, progress, all that good stuff :)

Janet Reid said...

Why is Pythagorus mounted on a chicken? Wait...do I really want to know?

Tawna Fenske said...

Dr. Goose, tell your son we'll put on the costumes the next time you guys come to visit!

Jeannie, you're right, the industry info is invaluable (and tough to learn if you're just hunkered down in your cave by yourself).

Ricky, I let my SINC membership lapse since my mystery stuff is on the back burner for now, but I think it's a terrific group with lots of great info. You'll love it!

Debra, I don't know how sexy it is to run into things all the time, but I did enjoy the eye patch other than that.

Carolina, I liked the idea of taking the old pirate romance cliche and twisting it into something fun and modern. Hopefully MAKING WAVES accomplished that!

A.S. Boudreau, thanks! We had a great time!

Claire Dawn, I found that costume for $4.99 at a thrift shop and picked up the plastic weaponry for a buck at the dollar store!

Laina, I wish I'd been quicker with the camera, as there was plenty more weirdness I could have captured.

Janet, that chicken man was truly terrifying. I'm not really sure what that had to do with pirates, except that he was really, really scary.

Posey said...

Great pictures. One of the kids walked by and found the gigantic chicken hilarious.

And in answer to the question, I'm still under the bed whimpering.

Patty Blount said...

*blushing* Could I ?

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Keri Stevens said...

You're a lovely buxom wench. And Lani (who's a local gal) rawks. And your marvellous agent was right. Thanks for linking me to it.

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