Cindy Vallar

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

Thistles
                  & Pirates Logo


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Workshops

I lead workshops on a variety of topics related to Scottish history and culture, piracy, the Age of Sail, writing historical fiction, and editing manuscripts. I present the workshops in person or online, and I personalize them to fit the needs and ages 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.

When I conduct a workshop for writers, I include optional assignments such as character profiles, time and place profiles, and chapter edits. I provide feedback to those participants who submit completed assignments. I always include resource bibliographies to help participants further their knowledge. Some workshops include additional handouts.

Current Workshop Offerings
What Participants Say
Schedule of Upcoming Workshops

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

 

Current Workshop Offerings

The Age of Sail

Sailing
                      Ship

Ships and Trade

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. The purpose of this workshop is to provide participants with 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.

The topics covered include: types of vessels, their parts, the language of mariners, who's who aboard a merchant ship, major ports of call, navigation, clothing, life at sea, how sailors entertained themselves, women at sea and in port, trade, marine insurance and risks, naval escorts, flags, passengers, and ship building.


View pictures that accompany this workshop

Online Duration: 8  weeks
In-person Duration: 2-4 hours




Bringing Pirates to Life

Howard Pyle's Gentleman
                        Pirate

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

This workshop explores the differences between the reality and mythology of Caribbean piracy during the mid-seventeenth 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 an author needs to know to write a pirate story.


Online Duration: 4 weeks
In-person Duration: 1-2 hours




British Royal Navy

Admiral Nelson's Flagships

Once England crushed the Spanish Armada, her navy came to rule the seas. The workshop
explores one period in British naval history (1770-1815) -- a time that saw the nation at war with her American colonies, and later against Napoleon. It is a favorite time period for many novels, but the maritime world can intimidate writers unfamiliar with the Age of Sail. In addition to a brief history of the navy, the lessons examine how the royal navy recruited men, the ratings and officers who served Britain, their lives aboard ship, and how battles were fought at sea.

Online Duration: 4 weeks
In-person Duration: 1-2 hours

 

The 'Forty-five

Weapons of war

From the raising of the standard at Glenfinnan to the fatal meeting on Drummossie Moor on 16 April 1746, the Jacobites mounted one final rebellion to restore the Royal House of Stuart to the British throne. This civil war pitted Scot against Scot, father against son, and husband against wife.


This workshop examines the issues and events leading up to the Battle of Culloden. We look at the key players involved in the rebellion, what happened that fateful day when so many Highlanders died, and the impact the rising and the aftermath had on those Highlanders who survived.


Online Duration: 4 weeks
In-person Duration: 1-2 hours




Here Be Dragons*

Dragon
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?
 
“Here Be Dragons” explores the realms of dragonology. From the evolution of dragons to types of dragons, from their physiology to their lifespan, culture, and habitats, this workshop and the assignments illuminate what a writer needs to know to create believable, three-dimensional characters. We explore types of dragons, dragon history, and dragon legends.

Online Duration: 4 weeks
In-person Duration: 1-2 hours




Highland Clans
Kilchurn Castle
from Medieval Times
through the Clearances
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, then examines the history and development of clans from four perspectives: Western clans, Central and Eastern clans, the Lords of the Isles, and clan wars. Other lessons cover land and settlements, the Highlanders’ year and the customs that influenced their lives, clan structure (surnames, law, fosterage, traditions, succession, etc.), occupations, and clothing.

Online Duration: 7 weeks
In-person Duration: 2-4 hours




Norse Scotland

Temporary Graphic --
                        Viking

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, for the Vikings were pirates. Those who followed were settlers who established homes and integrated their way of life with that of the Gaels and Picts. By examining the history and archaeology, ships, raiders, famous Norsemen, women, marriage, the Norse in the Northern Isles and Hebrides, and life in general, participants will have a better understanding of Norse Scotland.

Online Duration: 4 weeks
In-person Duration: 1-2 hours

 




Researching and Writing Historical Fiction

Quill and Pen

Opening Doors into the Past

Historical fiction and its subgenres can be a stepping stone for readers who want to experience the past without actually living in the past. The author’s goal in writing such a novel is to recreate a time and place 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. In order for authors to craft such a world, they need to do research into numerous aspects of everyday life in the past and the historical events the story will portray. A daunting task for some, unless they know how to find out what they need to know.

This workshop shares some tricks librarians know and a variety of resources writers need to craft stories that transport readers back in time. We examine what historical fiction is and why research is important; fact versus fiction and incorporating real life into fictional tales; different kinds of resources and what types of information historical novelists need to craft a convincing snapshot of the past; creating the time and place so the reader finds herself/himself somewhere in the past, rather than the present; and what can destroy that sense of time and place.

View one of the Resource Lists

Online Duration: 4 weeks
In-person Duration: 1 hour




Scottish Highlands

Loch Arkaig

The majesty and beauty of the Scottish Highlands provide many a backdrop for historical romances. 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 beliefs, 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. Author Cindy Vallar shares her love and knowledge of the Scottish Highlands and their people.

The workshop provides writers with a basic understanding of Highland history and culture. She begins with a historical overview of Scotland then discusses Highland clans, warriors and their weapons and music, folk life and folk ways, herbs and plants, folklore, and special times and days. The lessons focus primarily on the Scottish Highlands of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Online Duration:8 weeks
In-person Duration: 2-4 hours

 

To Be or Not to Be
and

Book

Other
Editing Quandaries

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, though, 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 an author can look for to improve your chances at getting past the initial query. We'll cover passive vs. active sentence construction, redundancy, weak vs. strong verbs, stating the obvious, synonyms, cause and effect, dangling modifiers, clarity of pronouns, author intrusion, speaker identification tags, adverbs and adjectives, head hopping, and more. The list 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 entire manuscript.

Online Duration: 4 weeks
In-person Duration: 1 hour




Witches, Kelpies, and
Fairies, Oh My!

Having tea with Nessie
An integral part of any society is what the people believe. Sometimes these beliefs explain the unknown. Sometimes they explain what isn't understood. Sometimes they explain people who are different or stray outside the normal societal bounds. The Highlanders of Scotland were no different. They believed the creatures and forces of the Otherworld were real, and sometimes more menacing than one’s neighbors.

This workshop explores the supernatural Scottish Highlands. We learn about the differences between Highland and Lowland witches; second sight and seers; water creatures; portents of death; the world of fairies and elves; other supernatural beings; and ghosts.

Online Duration: 4 weeks
In-person Duration: 1-2 hours



What Participants Say


Age of Sail

Bringing Pirates to Life
British Royal Navy
The 'Forty-five


Here Be Dragons

Norse Scotland

Researching and Writing Historical Fiction


Witches,  Kelpies, & Fairies, Oh My!
  • This was a great workshop. I learned a great deal. The assignments provoked deep thinking and helped frame a new plot line. -- Sandra Paugh
  • Your course was AWESOME!  It certainly met my expectations and whetted my appetite for more! – Chad Strong

Schedule of Upcoming Workshops

If you would like me to teach a workshop,  either online or in person, please contact me.

Workshops can be taught privately or to a group. Contact me for further information.

2017 Schedule

To Be Announced



*Dragon picture courtesy of Dragon Pictures

Copyright © 2010 Cindy Vallar


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Home
About Me
Appearances & Book Signings
Editing Services
E-Books Historical Fiction vs. History My Excerpts: Novels My Excerpts: Short Stories
My Other Writings My Reviews Pirates & Privateers Recommended Books to Read
Research: Favorite Links Research: My Resources Scotland: Clan Cameron Scotland: Highlands Workshop Photos
Scotland: Thistle's Scotland 1 Scotland: Thistle's Scotland 2 Web Rings & Memberships Website Awards
Workshops Contact Me Sign My Guestbook Subscribe to my T&P Newsletter