Monthly Archives: September 2014

Charleston

I got back from Charleston last week and all I can say is, wow! I had done some research beforehand on the historic downtown area, good eateries and the like, but I’m still just kind of amazed. Looking at a few houses on Google maps does not prepare you for just how many old homes there are, not to mention all of the different architectural styles.

A Charleston house with piazza and all!

A Charleston house with piazza and all!

Naturally, I fell in love. I don’t want to go into a whole giant spiel about why you SHOULD visit (I could, trust me), but if you do go, here are three things I would recommend seeing/doing:

 

1) Carriage Tour – I did this on my first day there, and it was well worth the money. The tour guides/drivers are all certified, and the city tests them every three years or so to make sure they know their stuff. On a carriage tour, you’ll go to one of three “zones” that the historic downtown is divided into – West, East, or South. You don’t get a choice, this is determined by a city official with a bingo ball. I don’t really think it matters which zone you end up in, because you’ll probably get a dose of Charleston’s history in with the highlights of the tour zone.

Palmetto Carriage, one of the carriage tour companies.

Palmetto Carriage, one of the carriage tour companies.

 

There are a number of companies doing these tours. They all have the city license to operate and whatnot, so just do a little research and see which one might be a good fit for you. There are also walking tours for both the downtown area and special topics (pirates, ghosts, naval, etc.).

 

2) She-Crab Soup – Just to preface, I don’t really like crab. It’s too sweet, and too expensive for the little bit of meal that you get from it. In doing my pre-trip research, though, a looooooot of people were talking about She-Crab Soup from one restaurant or another. Since I ended up going during restaurant week, when a lot of restaurants have a three-course meal for $30 or $40, and a couple had this soup on the menu, I thought I might as well try it. More because I like soup, than because I like crab.

Poogan's Porch, a restaurant on Queen St. in Charleston.

Poogan’s Porch, a restaurant on Queen St. in Charleston.

 

Oh boy, was it good. I had a cup at both Poogan’s Porch and 82 Queen, and I honestly don’t know that I can say one is better than the other. Poogan’s version was a little less dense, and had a spicy kick to it. At 82 Queen, the soup was a bit heavier and creamier. The sweetness of the crab came out more, but it wasn’t overwhelming.

One of the only times I've ever eaten gravy willingly.

One of the only times I’ve ever eaten gravy willingly.

 

There is a plethora of fantastic food in Charleston, but definitely try the She-Crab Soup.

 

3. White Point Gardens/Waterfront Park – After you’ve been walking around for a whole day (or two, or three…), take a bench in either of these parks and let it all sink in. Revel in the city’s past and present. Watch the sailboats and frigates gliding through the Cooper River. You might even see a cruise ship, or at least the behemoth tail thing of one. You’ll also see people walking their dogs, or running around the Battery. No one will bother you, probably.

Waterfront Park

Waterfront Park

(I prefer Waterfront Park simply because it felt more symmetrical. White Point felt unbalanced, because all of the statues/memorials were on one side of it. )

 

White Point Gardens, west side.

White Point Gardens, west side.

 

All in all, I came away with less, and in some cases more, than what I expected from the trip. I ended up with notes on just about all the primary characters, and some ideas on how to tweak the city for the setting. I’ll probably end up twisting some of the history and architecture for my needs, but I still haven’t decided how far I want to go down that hole.

My main concern was learning more about my main character, which didn’t pan out very well. She didn’t reveal herself. My next step will probably be practice scenes, which I’ve never done before. First time for everything, right?

 

In closing, Charleston is beautiful. If you’re not going to go, find some way to send me back!  =)

 

 

Last night in Charleston, treated to a gorgeous sunset-sky!

 

 

 

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Building a new world

The time’s running away from me, but I still want to address emotional response that I mentioned in the DFWCon recap post.

To sum up, one of the author/agent duos suggested, when submitting or querying, to be prepared for rejection and when it does happen, not to make your response from an emotional place.  Don’t go throwin’ ‘bows because they didn’t understand your character, or said your premise wasn’t exciting. If your comeback snarky and rude, why would that person (be it an agent, editor, publisher, critique partner, etc.) want to work with you in the future? If you aren’t open to at least considering change or opening your eyes to what the flaws are in your work, it’s going to be difficult to move forward.

After the conference ended I hit upon an epiphany — reigning in our emotions, and how we respond to what we’ve written (or someone’s feedback on our work), goes hand in hand with our entire writing process.  We need to breathe through the sentences that don’t work, and the characters who act in opposition of their nature. We need to remind ourselves that what we’ve written may not be perfect, but we’re moving in the right direction. Every word is another step towards establishing our voice, and learning what works. We need to stop letting our emotions run the show, and instead remind ourselves of what we have accomplished. We all have bad days where we look at what we’ve written, and our inner critic just won’t shut up. We just have to remember that we’re human, we make mistakes, life gets in the way, but the writing will get better if we can push past the self-doubt and put pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard).

There are numerous other writers who have discussed dealing with self-doubt and guilt, but these are three of my favorites:  Rachel Aaron – Don’t Stomp on My Cake!  ;  Kristen Lamb – Writer Victory series  ;  Lauren Sapala – Self Doubt: The Writer’s Constant Companion

 

I tried revising my epic fantasy first draft from May to July. To say revisions didn’t pan out in those three months would be a massive understatement. The more I looked at it and tried to start fixing it, the more deprecating my thoughts became. In preservation of my sanity, I’ve shelved it. I’ll bring it back out in a year or two, but I’m just not ready to deal with it. Hell, maybe it’s not ready to deal with me. But that’s not necessarily bad, because I’m better off moving on to something that makes me excited to write, than to sit and stare at the monitor waiting for brilliant inspiration on how to fix a broken story.

 

Tomorrow I’m flying to Charleston, SC to fully immerse myself in a new project. For three and a half glorious days I’ll be sightseeing and eating my way through historic downtown, while filling in the gaps of an urban fantasy world that has waited patiently for its time in the spotlight. Now that the EF is out of the way, it’s all magic and technology and a different species of shifters from here!

 

 

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