Buy My Book!!!

R is for Renaissance Faire is now available in paperback or Kindle.

To purchase the paperback version for $12, click here.

To purchase the e-book for $7.99, click here.

Or come to the 2nd Annual Mid-South Renaissance Faire, where I will be selling autographed copies at a special price.

R is for Renaissance is an ABC book, intended for older readers, a photographic souvenir of a Renaissance Faire.  A is for archery, B is for bagpipes, C is for craftsman, etc.

You may also wish to purchase my collection of western short stories, Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid, available as an e-book only.  If so, click here.

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If you’re in a Renaissance Faire mood, you could buy my book (full of beautiful pictures by R. B. Macdonald), or you could invest in the Kickstarter project for RenFest, a proposed sitcom set at a Renaissance festival, focusing on the conflicts between a new assistant manager who wants everything educational and historically accurate, and the general manager/entertainment director who’s more interested in fun and making a profit.  It’s being written and produced by the talented crew behind Mystery Science Theater 3000.

 RenFest – Can the MST3K Work Their Magic Through Kickstarter for a New Show?

Be sure to watch the trailer at the end of the article.  It’s hilarious.

Edward and Susan Macdonald at the Tennessee Renaissance Festival, May 7, 2016.
[Photo by Ian Macdonald]

Tristan the Brave

This is a poem I wrote for my nephew, Tristan Accampo, back in 1994. It is absolutely dreadful, completely devoid of scansion, with a forced rhyme scheme. I do not think I will try to sell it as a children’s story.  The best illustrations in the world couldn’t save this bit of dreck.

Tristan the Brave

by Susan Macdonald

Once upon a time Sir Tristan the Brave,

Flew out on dragonback, a puppy to save.

Wicked pirates had climbed up the castle wall

And stole the puppy from the King’s own hall.

They stole the King’s silver.  They stole the King’s gold,

And then away sailed the pirates bold.

The King called Sir Tristan the Brave:

“Fetch your dragon from his cave!

I don’t care about silver or gold,

But save my puppy,” Sir Tristan was told.

Sir Tristan and his dragon flew so high,

Over the ocean, over the sky.

When they saw the pirate ship,

The dragon flapped his wings and turned a flip.

The dragon breathed smoke.  The dragon breathed fire.

He set the pirate ship on fire.

The frightened pirates jumped over the side

And swam away on the evening tide.

Friendly mermaids brought the treasure up,

And Sir Tristan and his dragon rescued the pup.

Captain America: Civil War (No Spoilers)

My husband and I went to see Captain America: Civil War,  the 13th official movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and the 1st movie in the MCU’s Phase 3.

In order to earn back the ticket prices, I have written two articles for The Inquisitr about the movie, and I’m debating writing a third as to whether or not CA:CW passes the Bechdel test or not.  “Captain America: Civil War” Dominates Box Office, Black Panther Steals the Show is about the movie’s financial success thus far, and the fact that Chadwick Boseman as the Black Panther has been one of the most popular characters in the movie.  Black Panther Helps Marvel Bridge the Diversity Gap discusses the fact that there are three Black superheroes in this movie, two African-American, one African.  By Hollywood standards, that is incredibly diverse.

There were also several strong female characters in CA:CW.  Marama Whyte posted an interesting article on Hypable:  Why the women of “Captain America: Civil War” matter, where she analyzes the roles Scarlet Witch, Black Widow, and Sharon Carter in the movie.

It can be hard out here for a Marvel fan. There’s still no Black Widow movie, we have to wait until 2018 for Black Panther, and the recent Doctor Strange nonsense did nothing to assuage any of our fears that Marvel may in fact never get this right.  All of this to say: their lack of representation and diversity can be so disheartening — even for a committed and devoted fan — that when they do get it right, it feels so, so good. And wow did Captain America: Civil War do right by its female characters.

Does CA: CW pass the Bechdel test?  I think so, but not everyone agrees with me.

The Bechdel test requires a movie to do three things:
1. It has to have at least two (named) women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

Noelle Connell in the blog Feminist Elizabethan says no, it doesn’t. In The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test:  Captain America: Civil WarConnell states CA:CW passes the Race or POC test, but not the Bechdel test nor the Russo test. Despite the rabid hopes of slash fans, CA:CW does not  “contains a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex and/or transgender.”

The Bechdel Test Movie List says CA:CW does past the test.   Tyler Huckabee at first thought the movie did not pass the Bechdel test, but later changed his mind, although he felt it did so only “by the skin of its teeth.”

Once more people have had a chance to see the movie, I’ll write an actual review.

[Featured Image via Marvel Studios]

Edward and Susan Macdonald at the Tennessee Renaissance Festival, May 7, 2016.

Tennessee Renaissance Festival

The 31st Annual Tennessee Renaissance Festival opened May 7, and my family and I went for opening day.

First, I’d like to give a “shout-out” and gramercy to Regions Bank.  After we parked and got out of the car, we headed for the main gate.  We saw a table with a line of people leading to it, and thinking it was the bag check (no outside food or drink, no firearms, no swords or knives unless peace-bonded), we got in line.  It wasn’t the bag check.  It was Regions Bank, and for Family and Community Appreciation Weekend, they were paying people’s admission … if you went to that table first instead of the ticket booth.  They even gave me an artificial rose for an early Mother’s Day present.  Since tickets are $22 for adults and my kids are too old to pay children’s prices, that was an $88 savings and very much appreciated.  Thank you, Regions Bank!  Gramercy.

Susan Macdonald, wearing muffin cap made by Mazelle Attiya.
Selfie showing my rose.

We arrived early, looking forward to the opening ceremony.  Alas, due to the crowd,  we could not see the opening ceremony (which started a few minutes late). Due to the lack of microphones, we could only hear a few words.  It had something to do with Mary, Queen of Scots plotting against her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I.

Once through the gates, we greeted Paolo Garbanzo, world-famous juggler (and J is for Jester in my forthcoming book, R is for Renaissance Faire). We stopped at the festival’s official souvenir stand: keychains, magnets, postcards, t-shirts, canvas bags, stuffed animals, etc. My family and I volunteer for the Mid-South Renaissance Faire, so this trip was partly for fun, partly to upgrade our outfits for this summer’s MSRF, and partly to act as scouts, to see what TRF was doing well or poorly, so MSRF could learn from them.

We did some window shopping — there were roughly sixty merchants and artisans at Tennessee Renaissance Festival — before going to catch Paolo Garbanzo’s first juggling and fire-eating show.  Then we wandered past more vendors before meeting up with Jenn Kahn and Patrick Huston.  They looked fantastic in their garb; Jenn was the Faerie Queene at MSRF and Patrick was Captain of the Queen’s Guard.  My daughter went into the maze with Jenn’s daughter (they were fairies together at last year’s RenFaire) and won a Mardi Gras-style necklace for finding the center of the maze.  We wandered down by the falconry booth and past some games and clothiers.  My husband and I had our pictures taken with a Harris hawk.

Edward Macdonald, Susan Macdonald, and Mercedes (aka Sadie) the Harris hawk

Here is my only major complaint about TRF. When I went to the privies by the jousting field, there were no portable sinks nor any hand sanitizer.  None of the privies had portable sinks, although the other privies had hand sanitizer. Luckily, one of the nearby merchants was selling metal fountains (very pretty) and I was able to rinse off my hand in the running water of the fountains whilst pretending to admire them.  Note to “Mad Queen Beth” and the other head honcho-ish people of MSRF: be sure the privies have handwashing access as well as sufficient toilet paper.

Since we hadn’t had to pay for admission, our shopping budget was increased.  My husband bought a black and silver doublet at the clothier’s next to the falconry tent, and I seriously considered a pink tapestry bodice.  (I purchased a white brocade skirt at MidSouthCon, and am looking to upgrade my garb building an outfit around it.)

Renaissance faires are noted for their delicious food, and TRF was no exception.  For lunch the kids both had pizza, my husband had shepherd’s pie, and I had chicken and rice soup in a bread bowl. We let the kids have soda for lunch, although my husband and I had water, and we made sure the kids drank water throughout the day.  Even with all the shade provided by the many trees at TRF, dehydration is a possible risk at any RenFaire. I was pleased TRF had recycling bins shaped like Coke bottles throughout the faire site, although not nearly as many recycling bins as there were trash cans. Recycling bins are something MSRF will want to look into, even if they’re not as fancy as giant Coke bottles.

There was too much to see and do at TRF to do everything, although we tried.  We listened to Empty Hats, a Celtic folk band, and The Roses, a pair of lute-players. We listened to Rafferty the Piper. My daughter went to all three of Paolo Garbanzo’s shows, even though I suggested she try Tea with Lady Ettie or Buckle and Swash.  There were rides and games: ring toss, the maze, Jacob’s ladder, mug slide, several medieval and Renaissance themed throwing games, human-powered rides like the Hurlinator and the Flying Carousel, and a free children’s arts and crafts area.  We didn’t manage to do the free castle tour.  (The festival site owner built his own castle, and he and his family live there.)  There were comedians, magicians, play-actors, minstrels, jousting, falconry, knife-throwers, human chess … too much to see in one day.  Maybe next year we’ll get the two-day passes and stay for the whole weekend.

I know we didn’t manage to see all the vendors.  Henderson’s Hearth was listed in the program book, but I never found them, which is a shame as far as my kitchen is concerned (scone mix, jams, soup mix, etc.) but probably a good thing for my wallet.  My husband talked me into buying a red brocade gown at White Pavilion. It’s a step up from wenchwear (wenchware?), but not up to court standards yet, but it looks great with my white brocade skirt.  However, now I need to buy a new hat, as my muffin cap is too plain to wear with such a fine gown.  Ye Old Wizards and Dragons had some gorgeous dragon figurines; my son bought a steampunk dragon from them. Many weapons dealers — my son was upset that he wasn’t old enough to buy a knife or a sword yet. Lots of jewelry dealers … gorgeous merchandise.  Several tents of droolworthy artwork.  Toys for the younger ones, clothiers, candlemakers (you could make your own or buy a ready-made candle), pottery, leatherwork, wooden utensils and artwork (my daughter got a magic wand), hammocks and hanging chairs, bath soaps and oils, incense, tea, ocarinas.  My personal favorite was Pigasus Books; I may speak to him about R is for Renaissance Faire after I’ve got the galley proofs back from the printer.

We had a grand time, and although it was a long drive there and back, the trip was worth it.  It’s been years since we went to Tennessee Renaissance Festival, but I hope to go again next year or the year after.

New Website!

Highland Heather Press has a new website! Highland Heather Press and Highland Heather Travel will be sharing a website: highlandheather.net.

Highland Heather Press is my small press (minuscule might be more accurate) for self-publishing. It’s already issued its first e-book, a collection of western short stories called Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid.  Due to some computer problems, my first children’s book, R is for Renaissance Faire, has been delayed, but I hope to have it out in both paperback and on Kindle by Memorial Day.

Highland Heather Travel is my husband’s outside-sales travel agency.  He’s a part-time travel agent who wants to be a full-time travel agent.