I think I've finally recovered from the madness of last weekend only to be plunged into a whole different brand of crazy. No, last weekend wasn't a whisky fueled bender (Really, I only had the one glass.) It was the Outlander Odyssey's gathering in Williamsburg, VA, and it was fantastic. For Scotia-phile history nerds like me, this was paradise, but what made it even better was getting to connect with so many readers both the ones who bought my book at the gathering and those who had read it before. There were even a couple of fans (I'm looking at you Wendy & Diane).
The organizers were nice enough to ask me to talk about puirt a beul and the music of The River Maiden. There was also a very funny talk about a man's perspective on Outlander courtesy of Jean Paul Pare, whose Kiltlander blog includes hilarious recaps of each episode. And a fascinating talk from An Comunn Gaidhealach Ameireaganach president Mike Mackay about love and courtship in Gaelic culture (Seriously, I was taking notes). We even had a druid dance inspired by the show. It was choreographed by May Kesler and performed by dancers from the Virginia Regional Ballet. (See the video at the bottom of this post.)
The organizers did a terrific job of planning a great weekend for everyone. All of this was done to raise funds to support Youth Theatre Arts Scotland, a charity supported by Sam Heughan. As I told everyone at the conference, I think arts education is an important and too often cut component of a child's education. It was a privilege to help support it anywhere. At last count we raised $7250.
Despite all my nerves and the fact that I have never sung in Gaelic, outside the comfort and privacy of my own shower or car, my talk went very well. Hopefully, I'll have a video of it for you soon. I heard no snoring or crickets, nor did I knock down the lecturn, botch the singing or trip on any cables. I did gain quite a few readers and between Mike's talk and mine I hope we sparked some more Gaelic learners. It looks like the event will be an annual one, and I can't wait to see what the organizers do next year.
Last weekend left me with that strange mix of exhaustion and inspiration that often comes from conferences. As an introvert, I was desperately in need of a couple of quiet days to process, however connecting with that many readers left me inspired and satisfied that I am on the right path. In fact, I was so inspired that the other day I blew right past my word goal and haven't looked back. I even woke up in the wee hours of the morning yesterday thinking about it. I feel like I've caught the thread of this story line now. to paraphrase Hugh Howey, 'It's the story that you can't stop thinking about'. I hit that point in November with the other story line for Cauldron, and churned it out pretty fast. But between post holiday funk and snow days, had been struggling to find it with the line that I'm on now.
But now I think I've got it. I've driven the characters up a tree and have a giant pile of jagged rocks ready to throw at them (poor kids). Of course, once I woke up from my post conference snooze I realized that I only have 22 days until we leave for Scotland.
In the next few weeks, I have to:
- De-clutter and clean the house so the cat sitter doesn't think we're complete slobs
- Update the boy cats' vaccinations (1 down, 1 to go)
- Pack grown up clothes for Scotland
- Pack kids clothes for Nana's house
- Do the taxes (no small task)
- Knit like the wind on this baby blanket for the baby that is due on the 4th
- Plan out the kids' camp activities for the summer before all the good camps fill up
But of course all I really want to do, is throw rocks at Dermot and Sarah.