A Look Inside Scarborough Faire Renaissance Festival

Hi all!  I know I said I’d be doing a food review today (don’t worry, food will be involved), but this one’s going to be a little more expansive since you can’t JUST talk about the treats at a renfest.  I admit I didn’t get any pictures, so they will either be borrowed from Scarborough Faire’s website or Facebook page, or they will be from my older collections.  The same rating scale shall apply.

MMMMM = Everything is magnificent!
MMMM = Great, but something is off.
MMM = Pretty good, but a couple of things could be better.
MM = The bad’s starting to outweigh the good.
M = Definitely more cons than pros.
… = I couldn’t find anything nice to say.

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The first sign you see when passing through the gate! From their Facebook page.

Scarborough Faire Renaissance Festival
2511 FM 66
Waxahachie, TX 75167

I’m going to get a little more in depth on accessibility here than I usually do, simply because there’s more to talk about.  It’s a renfest, so there are dirt roads (usually fairly well maintained, though it was a bit bumpy this year), there’s gravel, there’s rocks, there’s grass.  In other words, it’s out in nature.  Don’t expect a super smooth ride.  The majority of the artisan booths have accessible entrances, but due to shifts in the rocks and gravel and all that, even the accessible entrances aren’t always accessible.  Not to fear!  I’ve never run across an uppity booth owner.  They usually offer to bring things to me for a closer look if I can’t get to their stuff.  Nice people do exist!  Eating areas… These places are usually picnic-style tables, so your best bet is to grab a corner or hold stuff in your lap.  Lastly, if you’re not careful on the varying terrains, you might just get stuck (I’ve done it).  Don’t freak out.  There are always people around who are willing to help.  I got stuck once this last trip, and before Dad could walk the five steps back to me, someone was asking if they could help.  In conclusion, the whole accessibility thing might be a little wonky at times, but the faire does its best to make sure everyone gets the full experience.  Plus, when all else fails, kind and helpful people exist, and apparently they all go to Scarborough Faire.

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Beef ribs! From their Facebook page.

On to the food… Best turkey legs ever (so good that I couldn’t find a picture without someone’s face in the way)!  The beef ribs are a must have.  Ignore the fancy presentation, you’ll get meat and possibly chips, which I’m totally okay with.  If you’re looking for veggies, search the plethora of kitchens.  I’m sure you’ll find something.  Also, you can find pretty much anything you want on a stick, including key lime pie.  There’s lots of sweets.  For the drinkers among us, I suggest the mead.  They also have a decent selection of beer and wine and a few frozen choices.

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An eagle from the Birds of Prey show in 2009. From my collection.

The faire has entertainment for all ages and most senses of decency.  You can’t be a total prude at a renfest, it’s just not possible.  There are too many fun shows to run through them all, so pick up a program and check out what intrigues you.  Don Juan and Miguel are always fun.  Iris and Rose are great if you’re into the naughty side of things.  And, for the more literary minded, go see Zilch the Tory Steller.  Or just walk around and people watch.  It’s not creepy when you do that here!

I suppose I should mention that this isn’t a cheap endeavor, but I still encourage you to splurge one day and get your geek on.  It’s fun!  Do eet!

And lastly, the rating:
MMMMM
(Normally, the accessibility issues would have knocked off an M, but they get an A+ for effort!)

Bridging the Gap: Moving from Piece to Piece

Hello there!  I was going to do another food blog this week, but I think I’ll save it for next week.  Since I recently sent my novel out to readers for feedback, I’ve forbidden myself from even looking at it (it’s not fair to my readers if I change things before they have a chance to critique what I’ve sent), so I’m trying to work on a collection of fairytale retellings.  Trying being the operative word.  So, I want to talk a little about shifting gears for new pieces.

Back when all I wrote were short stories, I had very little problem switching to a new project, but things have changed.  I don’t know if it’s just because I’ve spent so long in my novel’s world or what, but this is basically the most terrifying thing in my world right now.

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A wild blank page appeared!

Yes, a blank page.  I have ideas galore, but when I see this, they all up and run away on me.  I can’t be the only one with this problem, right?  So, how do you deal with it?  (Legit asking because I’m still trying to figure it out.)  Also, why is it so scary when you have a plethora of ideas to work on?  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t sit down and let the ideas duke it out as I stare at the page (that’s even scarier), I pick one and sit down with the intention of focusing on it.  It’s a very confusing time for me.

I’ve tried a couple of tactics to combat the blank mind as well as the blank page.  The first thing was to take a day away from writing.  Normally, a day without writing is enough to recharge and start building new stories in my head, but the blank page prevailed.  My second go-to plan is to suck it up and push through it.  So far, this has gotten me 1500 words over three days (no, that’s not good!).  It’s like pulling teeth to get the words out, and it’s getting harder instead of easier.

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Them feels, though.

Don’t worry.  I didn’t come here just to complain, I came to share tactics for moving on.  The ones above just didn’t work for me this time.  Next up, after I force my way through the current story of doom, if I’m still having issues, I’ll revert to free writing and using writing prompts until jumping around feels natural again (plus, I’ll get new story ideas if I’m lucky).  The only reason I didn’t try this first is because I’m not a fan of aimless writing.  It feels like I’m wasting time, even though I know that’s not the case.  In other words, even if you’re like me and think everything should work towards something, but you’re struggling, try the aimless course.  No pressure words tend to flow easier.  Use it to your advantage.  And bonus: you get new story ideas!

Another thing…  Part of me wonders if it would be easier to start something new if it was in the same world as the last, like a sequel or something.  I suppose I’ll find out one day.  Enough about me, what about you?  What are your tactics for switching between projects?  Feel free to share!

A Nod to National Poetry Month

 Welcome, all!  I fully admit that I had no idea what to write about today, then I remembered that it’s National Poetry Month.  I could take the easy way, and post one of my favorite poems, but I won’t do that.  Instead, I’ll show you a poem that I wrote for one of my undergrad poetry courses.  There’s not much you need to know.  It was inspired by my love of Visual Kei bands, and a particular song, “Psycho Butterfly” by Kaya.  In case you’re curious, I’ll put a link to the song at the end.

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Kaya. The man (you read that right) whose song, Psycho Butterfly, inspired the poem.

Psycho Butterfly
For all pretty females of the Visual Kei style that just happen to be males.

Pretty colors mask the truth, poisonous to some.
Seduce them in then blow their minds.
            Sighs entice
            Eyes alight
            Legs ensnare
            Innocence bare
            And beaten away
You’re not what you seem.

Caught in your deceptive exterior, there’s no escape.
            Meaning disappears
            Awakening fears
            Not yet voiced
            At the sound of your voice
Helpless when you sing for their souls,

Only finding out when it’s too late.
            Hidden in your wings
            Intriguing desires
            Zap their strength
            And exhaust their mind
            Keeping them from the truth
            Inches from their thighs

Beauty that demands attention, none can ignore.
Under sun, under moon, under sheets,
            Touching gently
            Ecstatic fantasy
            Repels the time
            Until the discovery is made
They only love you until they know you.

That secret that you don’t try to hide yet
Everyone blames you for.
            Keen eyes
            Aggravate
            Your insensibility
            And push you further into your cage
Reality crashes down on their fantasies

            Masculine tendencies
            Incense their senses
            Yet drive them away
            Angry at the world
            Vying against their own desires
            It’s always that way
Fly away while they fall.

Look for a new predator that’ll play for keeps, but for now
You’ll keep teaching that love’s not skin deep.

Revision: Why So Serious?

Welcome, new and old visitors!  I noticed that I have a few strangers stalking me, so first things first… It’s nice to meet you!  Thank you very much for taking time out of your busy day to check out my ramblings.

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On to today’s topic of choice, revising (also known as majorly editing your own work).  I know a lot of people who seriously despise the whole revision process.  I used to be one of them.  It was tedious and boring and the words we write should be perfect the first time around, right?  Wrong!  Once I actually started editing my work for more than spelling and grammar (in case you haven’t noticed, I use revising and editing interchangeably since I do both at the same time.  See the chart below for the difference), I realized that it was really only tedious and boring in spots because the story itself was bogged down or too light in those spots.  In other words, the original writing wasn’t perfect, thus revisions were needed.  It’s a vicious cycle, I know.

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Over the last couple of years, I’ve actually learned to enjoy revising my work.  Not just because I know everything will be better for it, but because it can be fun.  The key is to not take it so serious.  Sometimes, it will take multiple revisions to mold a story or poem or whatever into something you deem presentable.  That’s okay!  So, here are the top three reasons I like revising.

1.  The story is most likely done, so there’s no pressure to find an ending!  You’ve got one.  Now, it’s about polishing the words on the page to make everything make sense.  You already know where the story’s going, you just have to fill in the plotholes and give the reader a smooth ride.

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2.  Nothing is set in stone!  You can make all the changes you want.  If you don’t like a change you made, change it back.  See a major flaw?  Guess what!  Revision is your chance to fix it.  Don’t like that adjective?  Find a new one.  Think a character needs to be removed?  Do it.  This is your chance to fix all the things, big and small.

3.  Lastly, you have a chance to look objectively at your work.  I know that sounds like utter BS to most writers, because we’re so invested in our characters’ lives during the writing process that they become special to us.  However, it’s important to get some distance, then honestly evaluate your own writing.  It not only makes for a better story, but if we recognize our weaknesses, it makes handling criticism a whole lot easier.  You don’t want to be like this cat.

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As much as I have come to like the revision process, I want to conclude with a word of caution.  I know I said not to take the process too seriously, but you also can’t take the end result too serious.  We all strive for perfection (which is great and all), but don’t let it stop you from getting your work out there.  I’m sorry to say that there will always be someone who doesn’t like your writing.  No matter how much you change, it’s not going to please everyone.  As long as you like it, it doesn’t have to be perfect.  Imperfection is a wonderful thing!  It makes it real.

On Incentives and Rewards

Hi again!  Since I finished the first draft of my novel last week (no, not an April fool’s joke!), I thought I’d talk a little bit about incentives and rewards in writing.  This all came about because a friend asked me what I was going to do to celebrate, and I had zero ideas.  Apparently a lot of people set up small rewards (or large ones for bigger feats) for each step they complete.  Of course I have a reward picked out for a challenge as big as my first pro pay publication, and I have my daily incentives, so why didn’t I have anything ready for something like finishing a draft?  It’s a big step.  It deserves to be celebrated!

canstock9633501So, I want to list some of my personal incentives for different occasions, and encourage you to create your own.

Daily Rewards: These usually include things that I would do whether or not I had daily goals to meet.  Watch anime, play games, eat a piece of chocolate.  Little things like that make the idea of sitting down to write more fun.  Think of it as a little paycheck each day!  It’s something to work for.

choc Finished Draft/Major Edits Rewards: These are major milestones for a writer.  I’m a little ashamed to know that I didn’t plan anything for my first one.  I did take the day after off, but that was nothing special.  Luckily, a friend invited me and my dad to the Rocky Horror Picture Show, so I’m calling that my reward.  I’m also making a list of potential days out for future reference.  These accomplishments are definitely worthy of a concert or movie or trip to a museum or arboretum or something.

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Publication Rewards:  These should be something special.  I know some people who have parties or go on trips, and others who splurge on nice dinners.  A weekend getaway or fancy meal sounds wonderful to me.  Personally, I’m considering a tattoo for my first paying publication.  It’s something I’ve wanted for a while, but never really had the courage to go through with (I’m not too fond of needles).  Maybe getting published will be the special moment I need to push me forward with it.  If not, a fancy dinner and maybe some dancing works just as well as a reward!

Sakura Tattoo
By Stephanie Mindzak

I’m sure there are other accomplishments that need to be celebrated in a writer’s life, like being translated into another language, but I’m nowhere near that level yet.  When I get closer, I’ll be sure to think of incentives and rewards for those things as well.

Since a writer’s pay isn’t exactly regular, it’s good to come up with your list of awards ahead of time.  Not only as incentives to complete the difficult (sometimes eye twitch inducing) work, but also so you can save up for them.  And remember that the bigger the goal, the more special, and possibly personal, the reward should be.  It can be as simple as watching the sunrise or extravagant as a five star dinner.  That’s up to you.  Have fun with it!