Cindy Vallar

Author, Editor, & Pirate Chronicler
P. O. Box 425, Keller, TX  76244-0425

Thistles &
                    Pirates Logo



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Workshops
I offer workshops to groups and individuals on a variety of topics pertaining to history, writing, and self-editing. These workshops are conducted in person or online, and I personalize them to fit the needs of the participants. The duration of a workshop depends on whether I conduct it online or in person. The length of in-person workshops vary depending on how much detail the host organization wishes me to provide. Online workshops are four weeks in length.

Workshops include lessons, handouts, bibliographies, and activities that are geared to help the participants with their manuscripts and to incorporate the material into their works in progress (WIP). Participants are encouraged to ask questions and feedback is provided for submitted activities. At the conclusion of a workshop, I offer a free sample edit to anyone wishing suggestions and comments on their WIPs.

Here's what some participants have shared about these workshops:
There is a reason I keep coming back to your classes. They are so valuable and I learn so much from you. ~ Suzie Linville

My life is always changed for the better after a Cindy Vallar workshop. It's not just the informational content (which is huge) but her enduring and passionate commitment to her subject. These inspire me for months and months. ~ Maureen Patrick

Seldom have I enjoyed a classroom-journey more or learned intriguing facts so easily. Thank you for your patience, the vastness of your notes and lessons and comments. Not only am I a better story teller because of your effort, but I'm a happier writer. ~ Alice

Thank you! I've paid so much more for workshops where I got so little in return. I am not exaggerating when I say that your workshop is every researching author's dream. ~ Maria Zannini

The activities were so helpful -- they forced me to think through certain aspects of my story that I hadn't yet, with the support of a knowledgeable teacher. Also, Cindy was amazingly helpful with providing more resources when specific questions came up. ~ Jennifer Bernard

This was the first workshop I have ever tried and it more than exceeded my expectations. Not only did it provide a top of factual information and resources, it really triggered a lot of plotting and character ideas. This was an A+ class in all respects. ~ Millie Bullock

When I see a class given by Cindy Vallar, I know I'm going to get the best class available online! ~ Katherine Bone

I am a retired librarian with twenty years of experience as an educator. In addition, I conducted professional workshops for teachers and school staff. I have been an instructor for various writing organizations and RWA chapters since 2002. If you would like to arrange for me to present a workshop, please contact me. Fees are negotiable.


Registration Now Open
presented by
Outreach International Romance Writers


Researching & Writing Historical Fiction
5-30 September 2022
OIRWA Members $25 / Non-members $35

 

Click the appropriate
workshop link above.
Scroll down to the workshop description.
Click the registration link for that workshop.


Registration Now Open
presented by
Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal
Romance Writers


Bringing Pirates to Life
1-26 August 2022
FFP Members $25 / Non-members $35


Witches, Kelpies, & Fairies, Oh My!
3-28 October 2022
FFP Members $25 / Non-members $35

Click the appropriate workshop link above.
Select the appropriate fee.
Add to cart and check out.

 

Current Workshop Offerings

Fantasy 
           Maritime            Piracy            Scotland            Writing


Fantasy
Here Be Dragons

Green Dragon
                    (Source: Shutterstock.com)

Dragons are beautiful, magnificent, magical creatures. . . . They are also the most intelligent, the most powerful, and the most dangerous. ~ Margaret Weis

Say the word "dragon" and an image immediately comes to mind -- an enormous reptilian or serpentine creature with huge wings and razor-sharp talons, that breathes fire and finds people delectable morsels. Myth or reality?

This workshop explores the realms of dragonolgy. From the evolution of dragons to types of dragons, from their physiology to their lifespan, culture, and habitats to illuminate what a writer needs to know to create believable, three-dimensional characters.


Participants' Comments
Your workshop was awesome. ~ C. K. Crouch

Thank you for teaching this course! There was so much information that I never even knew was available. Amazing. ~ C. C. Wiley

I just wanted to say how wonderful this class has been. . . . With the information you have given, I can now create my own set of dragons. ~ Bobbie

This workshop filled so many gaps in my knowledge base . . . every lesson is so jam-packed with information . . . The activities -- (and
your activities are never a single, broadbrush, open-to-interpretation type question!) -- are critical for me as an aspiring writer to test and clarify my understanding of my characters and their world and the challenges they face. The questions you posed when giving me feedback are also gold -- they either allowed me to have really honed or refined the relevant aspects of the story and targeted my thinking in such a way as to make me drill deeper. ~ K. Pryce

I had never given even a passing thought to writing a fantasy before your workshop . . . Which just goes to show that inspiration does indeed come from unexpected/unusual places. ~ Sophia Ascott

Witches, Kelpies, & Fairies, Oh My!

Having tea with the Loch Ness Monster


Step into the unknown and explore the supernatural world of Scotland. Highlanders and Lowlanders, as well as Islanders, believed the creatures of the believed the creatures and forces of the Otherworld were real, and sometimes more menacing than one's neighbors.

This workshop explores the differences between Highland and Lowland witches; second sight and seers, water creatures, portents of death, the world of fairies and elves, ghosts, and other supernatural beings of Scotland.

Participants' Comments

This was a great workshop. I learned a great deal. The activities provoked deep thinking and helped frame a new plot line. ~ Sandra Paugh

Your course was AWESOME! ~ Chad Strong

This workshop was an extraordinary, truly mindset-altering experience. I am enjoying and profiting from your course more than I can say. You are a fabulous teacher. And I love the excerpts from your novels that you post. I lose myself utterly in them. ~ Maureen Patrick.

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                  to menu


Maritime
The Age of Sail
Ships, Seaports, & Trade


Heeling ship
The sight of tall masts with billowing sails paints a romantic image that brings to mind times when wooden ships scudded across the waves, traveling to distant ports. This workshop provides a basic knowledge of the Age of Sail from the Middle Ages through the nineteenth century when steam replaced wind as the principal power for moving a vessel from one port to the next.

Specific topics covered include nautical terminology, types of ships, ship construction, ship parts, maritime documents, seaports, trading companies, travel, and trade. By workshop's end you will understand the maritime world, which can seem akin to entering a foreign country where English isn't the native language.




The Age of Sail
People, Navigation, & Life at Sea

Furling Sails


The sight of tall masts with billowing sails paints a romantic image, but dangers lurked just below the surface. This workshop examines the people connected to the maritime world during the Age of Sail, life and work at sea, and the potential hazards that crews and passengers faced during a voyage.

Specific topics covered include a ship's crew, navigation, life at sea, hazards, smuggling, privateering, and women and the sea. By workshop's end you will understand who's who and what they did.


Participants' Comments

If only I had only taken these workshops a year before I wrote my novel! ~ Donna Hatch

The activities were immensely helpful and brought new insight and, in some cases, new ideas for my book. ~ Joan Maze.

Loved it all. The scope and volume of information is incredible. I want to thank Cindy for the personal attention she gave to my activities; her comments and suggestions were invaluable to me and will help me to deepen my POV and enrich my writing. Cindy takes a personal interest in her participants, going beyond just presenting. Through her information, both in materials and her comments to my activities, [she] corrected misconceptions I had. She added provocative questions, which led me to reevaluate some aspects of my sailing saga. I feel very fortunate to have taken this class. ~ Veronica K.

It opened up new scenarios for my characters I hadn't previously considered and helps give my scenes a more authentic touch. ~ Linda Gerber



The British Royal Navy
1770-1815

Bow of HMS
                      Victory by Jamie Campbell (Source: Wikimedia
                      Commons)
Once England crushed the Spanish Armada, her navy came to rule the seas. This workshop explores one period in British naval history -- a time that saw the nation at war with her American colonies, and later against France and Napoleon. It is a favorite time period for many romance novels and nautical fiction, but the maritime world can be a bit intimidating to writers unfamiliar with the Age of Sail.

This workshop examines this mysterious world in a series of lessons that provide an overview of British naval history, and examine how the royal navy recruited men; the ratings and officers -- including the Royal Marines -- who served Britain; the Admiralty and naval bases, as well as a brief summary of enemy navies; Royal Navy ships, the men's lives aboard ship, and ships' armament, how the crew prepared for action, some tactics, and the condemning of prizes; and maritime medicine.

Participants' Comments

The information in the lessons is very thorough, the references are priceless, and your willingness to answer questions all made this one of the best workshops I've taken. ~ Ally Broadfield

Your workshop brought Jane Austen's Royal Navy to life. ~ Mageela Latroche

I've taken a lot of online classes, but this one had the most useful information I've seen in a long time. ~ Andrea K. Stein

Your store of knowledge and generosity in helping authors is stunning. Many thanks. ~ Mary Jo Putney


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Piracy

Bringing Pirates to Life

Howard Pyle's Gentleman Pirate

Peter Blood in Captain Blood, Long John Silver in Treasure Island, and Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean conjure up images of pirates and the tropes associated with this sea rogues: buried treasure, black schooners, wooden legs, eye patches, vibrant parrots, walking the plank, and swashbuckling swordsmen. Are these accurate portrayals of pirates?

This workshop examines the differences between the reality and mythology of Caribbean piracy from the mid-seventeenth century through the early eighteenth centuries, and how writers can create believable characters that fit within historical parameters. We look at why individuals became pirates, who's who on a pirate ship, the rules governing pirates, individuals who interacted with or encountered pirates, and other aspects of maritime life.

Participants' Comments
This has been one of the most awesome and informative courses I've ever taken. I feel like I could be a pirate I have so much information. ~ Judy Sabel Soifer

I so appreciated Cindy's willingness to work outside the box with us, so to speak, and respond to specific areas/questions that were not originally scheduled in the lessons. ~ Jansy

This class did exactly what I wanted and needed it to do! I am thrilled with it, from start to finish. I am profoundly impressed with the quality of this class. I came into this class knowing it was going to be tough because I have no background in the subject. You made it a fascinating experience, truly fun! ~ Penny Enyeart

The workshop exceeded my expectations as I really didn't know for sure what the impact would be on my writing, but it turned out to have a major impact on my writing and on the pirate novel I am drafting. ~ Darren S.

I think the greatest value to me for this workshop were the activities. They really helped me to identify the key elements in my story and in many areas to dig deeper. My WIP is already so much stronger. ~ Linda Gerber



Sailing the Seven Seas with Pirates



Howard
                        Pyle's Dividing the Treasure

Whether your stories are historical romance, science fiction, paranormal, fantasy, alternative fiction, or contemporary, they can include characters who are pirates. Maritime piracy is one of the world's oldest professions and remains a problem even today. But a dastardly rogue one day may be a swashbuckling hero the next. Like everything else, who is a pirate changes as time passes. This workshop introduces you to pirates through the ages from ancient times to present day, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific and everywhere else in between.

Each lesson introduces you to men and women who defied authority, hunted for treasure, and stepped beyond the bounds of decent society. Meet Sea Peoples, Vikings, Barbary Corsairs, Buccaneers, and Golden Age, Asian, and Modern-day pirates. Tactics, vessels, treasure, victims, and other tidbits provide the background for incorporating pirates into your stories, either as villains or as heroes.
    Participants' Comments


[Forthcoming as the workshop has been revised and expanded.]

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              & book = Return to menu


Scotland
The Rising of 1745



Weapons of War

Woe is me! the white bodies
That lie out on yonder hillsides,
Uncoffined, unshrouded,
Not even buried in holes;
Those who survived the disaster
Are carried to exile o'erseas by the winds,
The Whigs have got their will of us,
And 'rebels' the name that we're given.

This verse from John Roy Stewart's poem, "Culloden Day," describes the aftermath of the last battle fought in Britain. It signaled the end to last Jacobite rising, a civil war fought between Scottish and English, Highlander and Lowlander, son and father, husband and wife, and brother against brother. It began with great promise against overwhelming odds. After it ended, the Highlanders who fought for Bonnie Prince Charles and his father paid a dear price. This workshop examines the issues and events from the raising of the standard at Glenfinnan to the fateful meeting on Drummossie Moor in 1746.
Participants' Comments

An amazing workshop! The material is rich in content and I appreciate your hands-on teaching style. ~ Tambra Nicole Kendall



The Highland Clans
from Medieval Times
through the Clearances

Kilchurn Castle

We often assume the Highland clans of Scotland have always been. In reality, they evolved.

This workshop explores the origins of the clans in general, and then examines the history and development of clans from four perspectives: Western clans, Central and Easter clans, the Lords of the Isles, and clan wars. Other lessons cover Highland land and settlements, the Highlanders' year and the customs that influences their daily lives, clan structure, occupations, women and their role within the clan, and the devastating period after the Battle of Culloden when government reforms and the importance of sheep gave rise to mass emigration and drastic changes in Highland society.

Participants' Comments
A truly terrific workshop -- one of the best courses I've ever taken. ~ Vanessa Kelly

One of the BEST workshops I've ever taken. Tons of information that showed your superior knowledge of the land, its history/culture and its people. Your responses and encouragement were also very appreciated ~ Kelly Ann Scott

The activities allowed me to incorporate the knowledge gained into writing a story instead of just reading and putting away. This has been one of the better courses I've taken because you integrated the information into useful activities. ~ Chris D.



Norse Scotland

Viking
                        warrior (Source: canstock.com)

In this year dire portents appeared over Northumbria and sorely frightened the inhabitants. They consisted of immense whirlwinds and flashes of lightning, and fiery dragons were seen flying in the air. A great famine followed soon upon these signs, and a little after that in the same year on the ides of June the harrying heathen destroyed God's church on Lindisfarne by rapine and slaughter. ~ Anglo-saxon Chronicle, 793

As in England, Vikings invaded parts of the Western and Northern Isles of Scotland. They ravaged the monasteries and enslaved the people. But the images we conjure up of these raiders provide only a small glimpse into the world of the Norse people. Those who followed the pirates were settlers who established homes and integrated their way of life with that of the Gaels and Picts. This workshop examines these people through the lens of history, culture, ways of life, and where they lived.

Participants' Comments
I am finding a lot of story ideas in the material you are sending. Thanks for teaching this class. ~ Leah Marie Brown

You have provided information that really helps one imagine the time and place. That's a great boon for a writer. . . . I find the activities to be wonderful exercises and food for thought. ~ Anastasia

Thanks so much for a highly informative course. I know so much more now about the Norse. ~ Zara West



The Scottish Highlands


Loch Arkaig
                        (Author's photo)

The majesty and beauty of the Scottish Highlands provide many a backdrop for historical and romance novels. Out of the mists rise proud Highlanders who value honor and duty above all else. Their steadfastness and sorrow arouse deep emotions in us. Although the odds are against them, they fight for their believes, knowing they may not survive, but unwilling to be branded cowards. The Romans, English, and Lowland Scots brand them barbarians. The French seek their alliance and use them to advance their own agendas.

This workshop provides a basic understanding of Highland history and culture during the 17th and 18th centuries. Lessons incorporate a historical overview, Highland clans, warrior life, folk life and folk ways, clothing, herbs and plants, and special events during a Highlander's lifetime.


Participants' Comments
Your course presented what I as a writer wanted to know about the times -- not just straight history. I can't tell you how helpful that is -- it is, for me, without price. ~ Judith Hanes

You've given us an in-depth window into the past that'll help give our stories the foundations needed to draw a read in to the worlds we create. ~ Katherine Bone

I loved that if you were unsure of something, you found out the information and didn't say, I just don't know. I liked the Activities best, mainly as you told me directly what worked and what didn't in my work. I loved this workshop and am sad it's over. ~ Tegan Cann



Witches, Kelpies, & Fairies, Oh My!

Having tea with the Loch Ness Monster

Step into the unknown and explore the supernatural world of Scotland. Highlanders and Lowlanders, as well as Islanders, believed the creatures of the believed the creatures and forces of the Otherworld were real, and sometimes more menacing than one's neighbors.

This workshop explores the differences between Highland and Lowland witches; second sight and seers, water creatures, portents of death, the world of fairies and elves, ghosts, and other supernatural beings of Scotland.
Participants' Comments

This was a great workshop. I learned a great deal. The activities provoked deep thinking and helped frame a new plot line. ~ Sandra Paugh

Your course was AWESOME! ~ Chad Strong

This workshop was an extraordinary, truly mindset-altering experience. I am enjoying and profiting from your course more than I can say. You are a fabulous teacher. And I love the excerpts from your novels that you post. I lose myself utterly in them. ~ Maureen Patrick.


Candle & book = Return to
              menu


Writing

Researching and Writing
Historical Fiction





Quill
                      Pen, Books, Rose (Source: canstock.com)

Historical fiction and its subgenres can be a stepping stone for readers who want to experience the past without actually living there. The author's goal in writing such a novel is to recreate a time and place that no longer exists but that comes alive for readers, whether they stand in the midst of a battle or feel the roll of a ship's deck beneath their feet.

Writing historical fiction is basically a two-stage process. First comes the research, then the writing. In order for authors to craft a world that no longer exists, we need to do research into numerous aspects of daily life and the historical events to be portrayed or that impact ourcharacters. A daunting task for some, unless we know how to find out what we need to know.

This workshop shares some tricks librarians know and presents a variety of resources writers of historical fiction need to craft stories that accomplish this immersive experience for our readers. We examine what historical fiction is, as well as the pros and cons of various issues related to writing historical fiction and its subgenres (historical romance, historical mystery, and historical fantasy, for example). We explore fact versus fiction and how to incorporate real life into a fictional tale. We discuss what types of information a historical novelist needs to write a convincing snapshot of the past. We learn what destroys that sense of time and place.

Participants' Comments
The workshop far, far, far exceeded my expectations. The suggestions, tips, and links were incredible by themselves. But it wasn't just a course on how to do research in the abstract; you also provided customized plans of research for our particular WIPs AND provided feedback on our character profiles and settings in our WIPs AND provided detailed feedback and edits on any actual writing samples we cared to post. ~ Rachel Goldstein

I loved how willing you were to share what you have learned and part of your expertise. I learned so much about writing a historical novel. ~ B. A. Mealer

The lessons, and your input, have been invaluable. I believe I can truthfully credit you with directly improving my story. ~ Lisa Dworkin

My eyes have been opened thoroughly with all the information that you have shared. Especially about various internet sites and how to validate them. ~ Rose Gatto Ballina

Thank you so much for your feedback! You've given me so much to work with. . . . It has been a real learning experience. ~ Sera Taino

I'm really grateful for this class, because it really forced me to think hard about why I'm making certain decisions about my characters in particular, and to understand and articulate to myself WHY I'm making those decisions. ~ Courtney Novak Scalo



To Be or Not to Be
and
Other Editing Quandaries




Editor

Authors are told to write the best book we can, but in today's competitive market that's not always enough. We could follow Mark Twain's advice:

Substitute damn every time you're inclined to write very; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.

In reality, the writer has to make the changes. While not all of us are adept at putting on an editor's hat, there are some simple steps to take to tighten the writing and polish the manuscript.

This workshop provides tips on what we can look for to improve our chances of getting past the initial query or to polish the manuscript prior to self-publishing the story. We cover ways to tighten our writing, the use of words that are "red flags" of a novice, redundancy, weak vs. strong verbs, show vs. tell, cause and effect, dangling modifiers, clarity of pronouns, speaker attributes, head hopping, deep point of view, and more. Self-editing may seem daunting, but if you know what to look for, you can easily make corrections that may increase your chances of getting a request to see your manuscript.

Participants' Comments
Thank you for the great job you did with this class. I learned a lot and enjoyed the process. The individual feedback you provided was unexpected and such a benefit to me. It is apparent you are very knowledgeable and talented when it comes to editing. ~ Michele Stokoski

Your class was informative and containing information I'll use on a regular basis. ~ Barbara Mealer

This workshop helped me enormously and still does to this day. ~ Shereen Vedam


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                menu


Schedule of Upcoming Workshops

If you would like me to teach a workshop, either online or in person, please contact me for more information.
Workshops can be taught privately or to a group.



2022 Schedule
Registration now open at
Outreach International Romance Writers


5-30 September 2022
Researching & Writing Historical Fiction
OIRW Members $25 / Non-members $35


(To register scroll down to description & click appropriate button)

Registration now open at
Fantasy, Futuristic, & Paranormal Romance Writers

1-26 August 2022
Bringing Pirates to Life
FFP Members $25 / Non-members $35


3-28 October 2022
Witches, Kelpies, & Fairies, Oh My!
FFP Members $25 / Non-members $35



2023 Schedule
Hosted by
Vancouver Island Romance Authors

13 May 2023
To Be or Not to Be & Other Editing Quandaries


(Virtual Zoom presentation)

Hosted by
Outreach International Romance Writers

March 2023
The British Royal Navy

June 2023
The Highland Clans from Medieval Times through the Clearances

August 2023
Norse Scotland

October 2023
The Scottish Highlands


Copyright 2022 Cindy Vallar


Home About Me Appearances & Book Signings Editing Services
Excerpts of My Stories Gallery: Clan Cameron Gallery: Rebel & Spy Gallery: Scottish Highlands Workshops
Gallery: Thistle's Scotland 1 Gallery: Thistle's Scotland 2 Historical Fiction vs. History My Interviews & Other Writings
My Research Resources My Reviews & Website Awards Pirates & Privateers Recommended Books to Read
Recommended Research Links Workshop Offerings & Schedule





Contact Me Sign My Guestbook Subscribe to my T&P Newsletter