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T. K. and Sweetie Tie the Knot, Part 2: The Wedding

After weeks of preparation, Sweetie and I were officially married on June 20, 2017, the tenth anniversary of the day we became "Facebook official." Though Facebook is dying away, we're still going strong!

My coworker Pat volunteered to take pictures of the ceremony for us, using our trusty Fujifilm Finepix S700. My mother gifted us this camera in May 2010, and it has recorded many big events since: a two-week vacation in Japan, a car trip to historic Philadelphia, a snowy New Year's Eve in Times Square...and now our wedding at Mirror Pond!

TK and Sweetie before the ceremony

Our officiant, Judge Peter A. Werner, kindly brought along a second witness for us named Annemarie. He read us our vows from a piece of paper tucked inside a very religious-looking copy of The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide.

Cover of the Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide
Wedding vows

Since we hadn't reviewed the vows before the ceremony (whoops!) we didn't know exactly when we were supposed to say, "I do." Sweetie said it three times during pauses between questions. I forgot to say it at all, and Judge Werner had to remind me!

Sweetie putting on TK's wedding ring

While Judge Werner prepared the legal paperwork, Sweetie and I posed for glamour shots of our rings. Sweetie's is a plain 10K gold band from Kohl's. Mine is also 10K gold, custom-made with the help of Laurie at Cascade Jewelers in Bend. It has two cubic zirconias and one lab-created aquamarine in the center. Since Sweetie and I were both born in March, aquamarine is "our" birthstone.

We signed the marriage certificate at a picnic table on Mirror Pond Plaza. Technically these are pictures of us signing a ceremonial certificate, and the state will mail us the "legal" ones later.

TK signing the marriage certificate
Sweetie signing the marriage certificate

It was a hot and sunny day, so Pat treated us to refreshments in the coffeehouse by the Plaza, Crow's Feet Commons. The decor and menu of the Commons is pure Bend: one part rugged country, two parts urban hipster. For our "wedding snack" we had one of Sparrow Bakery's famous Ocean Rolls with sparkling orange juice in fancy glasses.

Our fancy drinks and my bouquet

Of course I forced Sweetie to pose for a K-drama style love shot.

Love shot

Finally we headed back to the water for more pictures. The photo shoot started out respectably...

Sweetie and TK on the pier

But then Pat headed back to work, and the camera fell into Sweetie's hands. And when Sweetie gets a camera in his hands, he starts climbing on things to find interesting angles, heedless of his formal suit and dress shoes.

TK with ducks
TK with flowers

He sent me to the other side of the pond for a landscape shot of the water, trees, and mountains. The photo will make a cool large print to hang up, but it's hard to spot me in the 400px version below. I'm the mint-colored speck in the bottom left.

TK at the side of Mirror Pond

When we arrived home in Redmond, Luna inspected my ring and deemed it acceptable.

Luna inspecting TK's wedding ring

After a nap and an early dinner at Shari's Cafe & Pies, I cut into the cake. This week we're playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild together, so I naturally took my first bite from the Triforce.

Wedding cake
Wedding cake slice with Triforce

In the evening we drove down to Oregon Observatory at Sunriver. On our first date ten years ago, we went to Olive Garden and then sprawled out on the grass of a sports field at Indiana University to look at the stars. (This "date date" is not to be confused with our first "not date date" at a Mather's Museum special exhibit of chairs from around the world. That was merely a meeting to gauge each other's long-term relationship potential under the guise of exploring a common interest in international furniture.)

Our wedding-day version of looking at the stars was much more sophisticated. I don't have pictures because it was much too dark to take them, but we looked through many telescopes to see Jupiter, Saturn, a couple of binary stars, and some impressive star clusters.

Now we have been married for over twenty-four hours, and neither of us has asked for an divorce yet. Fingers crossed that it stays that way for the next fifty years!

T. K. and Sweetie Tie the Knot, Part 1: The Preparations

Sweetie and I are now officially an old married couple. For ease of URL-sharing, I've split my post about our wedding into two. First, the preparations!

The Cake

While Sweetie was still in Indiana, over Skype we designed a cake that represents the activities we've shared over the past ten years. My single community college drawing class didn't give me the skills to freehand the design, so I researched how to trace patterns onto cakes for decorating. The Internet instructed me to...

  1. Use an image editing program to flip the design horizontally. Print it out. Trace the pan you'll be using around the design to make a perfect cake-sized template.
  2. Put the template on a solid surface, like a piece of cardboard or a pane of glass.
  3. Tape a piece of transparent parchment or wax paper over the template.
  4. Pipe colored buttercream frosting directly onto the parchment paper, following the template underneath.
  5. Fill in the rest of the template with background frosting to create one massive cake topper.
  6. Freeze the topper overnight.
  7. Flip the frozen topper onto the top of the prepared cake. Carefully peel off the parchment paper.
  8. Gently smooth out the bumps and lines in the frozen frosting with a clean finger.
  9. Bask in the compliments on your supposed artistic genius!
TK's hands piping butterfly on wedding cake
Picture of TK making wedding cake
Wedding cake design in buttercream
Buttercream design transferred to cake
Finished cake on cardboard

The Dress

Sewing the dress was a month-long process. I chose the fabric first: a mint polyester charmeuse. Since charmeuse is thin and slippery, I decided to draft a very simple pattern for it—princess seams, a low back, and a long half-circle skirt. Then I glammed up the arms and neck with pearl embellishments my mother sent me.

TK's wedding dress, front
TK's wedding dress, side
TK's wedding dress, back
TK's wedding dress, back

The pearl flower at the base of the low back hides the zipper slider. The idea was a "happy accident." I hadn't expected the top of the zipper to look so sloppy, and when casting around for ways to fix it I spotted the pearl flowers I'd planned to use in hair accessories. I sewed hooks to one flower and eyes to the dress, and now after zipping up I can attach the flower over the top.

The lace along the sash and hemline was also a "happy accident." When I sewed the skirt, the charmeuse twisted and left me with an ugly bunched-up hem. I bolted to Jo-Ann Fabrics and found a pretty bridal-looking nylon lace to cover up the bunching. Then I added the lace to the sash for cohesion.

Later I'll cut the skirt to tea-length and replace the sash with another color, and then I'll have a regular party dress for other occasions.

The Accessories

For my hair, I took a cheap plastic headband and covered it in several coats of silver nail polish. After letting it dry for 24 hours, I used E6000 industrial-strength adhesive to attach another pearl flower to one side.

TK's wedding headband

For my shoes, I found a pair of gold ballet flats at Payless Shoe Source. I used the E6000 to decorate the toplines with the same pearl strings I sewed along the neckline of my dress.

TK's wedding shoes

The Miscellany

In the week leading up to the ceremony, I purchased our rings, prepared Sweetie's suit and tie, and colored my hair black with a vegan PPD-free dye that turned my skin and bathtub various shades of blue, purple, and green. Sweetie flew back from Indiana five days before the wedding—just enough time to apply for our marriage license and scrub the "chariot," a.k.a. the 2002 Ford Taurus.

These preparations complete, we had only to wait for the clock to tick down to Part 2: The Wedding.

Writing in the Age of Entertainment Overload

Last weekend I devoured the first two books of M. C. Beaton's Hamish Macbeth mysteries. I knew I'd found a new favorite author to add to my collection when I read these paragraphs at the top of page two of Death of a Gossip (1985).

John Cartwright was small, thin, wiry, and nervous. He had sandy, wispy hair and rather prominent pale blue eyes. Heather had been one of his first pupils at the Lochdubh School of Casting: Salmon and Trout Fishing.

He had been seduced by the sight of her deft back cast and had only got around to discovering the other pleasures of her anatomy after they were married.

But while these books make me very happy as a reader, they also make me melancholy as a writer...because we can't write like this anymore.

M. C. Beaton breaks every rule in the twenty-first-century publishing playbook. She head-hops. She "tells." She devotes more page time to character portraits, light romance, and comic hijinks than she does to the simplistic crimes. The Hamish Macbeth mysteries are books about life in charming small-town Scotland set against the backdrop of a murder, not the other way around.

When Beaton wrote Death of a Gossip in 1985, St. Martin's snapped it up and turned it into a beloved series with thirty-four titles and a three-season BBC adaptation. If a hopeful unknown were to submit the same manuscript to agents and editors today, she would be universally rejected.

As I received feedback from agents for my manuscript of Whacked in the Stacks, I saw one verdict repeatedly: "It's too slow." Agents say the heroine is delightful, her rocky relationship with her sister is relatable and touching, and her flirtation with her childhood crush is adorable...but I need to change all that if I want to sell the book. The heroine must discover the dead body ASAP. She must rush to solve the murder against a ticking clock. I can't waste any pages on comic scenes or relationships that don't have anything to do with the mystery.

Whacked in the Stacks is zippy compared to the ambling 1985 Death of a Gossip. But now it's 2017, and anything short of a Sonic-the-Hedgehog pace won't sell anymore.

Publishing experts today warn that if a paragraph is boring, the reader might close the Kindle app and tap over to Instagram. If a chapter ending is too satisfactory, the reader might take a nap and forget about the book. They say the age of Tweets and binge-watching has made modern readers so impatient, so accustomed to high stakes and lightning-fast plots, that if you write one single scene of quiet introspection they'll immediately get bored and put the book down.

Is it true? I think no...and yes.

Have readers changed? No.

I don't think the Internet has fundamentally changed the way people read books or watch shows. People have always enjoyed stories full of twists and cliffhangers.

  • In the Greek epic poem The Odyssey (8th century B.C.) the hero sails from one narrow escape to another until he charges into a harrowing battle to reclaim his wife and palace at the end.
  • In Shakespeare's Hamlet (c. 1600), every act ends with a promise of titillating scenes to come. Act I ends with Hamlet setting off for revenge. Act II ends with Hamlet plotting a stage play to expose the king's crimes. Act III ends with Hamlet murdering Polonius in front of the queen, and Act IV ends with the queen's dramatic announcement of Ophelia's death.
  • The first volume of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (1813) ends with the sentence, "To Pemberley, therefore, they were to go," which leaves readers squealing in anticipation of Elizabeth's inevitable reunion with Mr. Darcy.

People have also always enjoyed slower stories with poetic writing and great characters, and that hasn't changed either. Who do people cite as their favorite authors of all time? Jane Austen. Leo Tolstoy. Margaret Atwood. The Handmaid's Tale is so slow even I couldn't get through the first chapter.

Tastes haven't altered much in a couple of millennia. The Internet didn't suddenly change our definition of a good story in a couple of decades.

Instead, what the Internet really did change was the entertainment economy.

Has publishing changed? Yes.

When I was growing up in the dark ages of the 1990s, adults flew into a tizzy over the horrifying news that kids were spending two to three whole hours a day in front of TV and computer screens. Then the Internet came along, and now spending most of your time staring a screen is the norm.

Today people walk around with thousands of movies and books in a tiny computer in their pockets. They can subscribe to Netflix for roughly one hour's entry-level wage per month. They can access hundreds of eBooks for free through their public libraries.

In the face of this entertainment overload, turning a profit has become much, much tougher for book publishers.

In the 1980s, when St. Martin's snapped up Hamish Macbeth, publishers could afford to offer readers many kinds of stories: slow and thoughtful stories, cute and fluffy stories, dark and thrilling stories. But now agents and editors have to be more selective about what they acquire, and the books they put out have to appeal to the widest audience possible. In the publishing world today, there is only one "good" story: the unputdownable story. Every book must be a hard-hitting Sonic-the-Hedgehog page-turner. There is no room for cuteness anymore.

Overdrive Mysteries

What does this mean for me?

Whacked in the Stacks is like the song "Have a Nice Day" by the Japanese singer Nishino Kana. It's charming, uplifting, and a little bittersweet. The sound is bubbly, and the lyrics are about a woman cheering herself on when work is exhausting and her dating life is a mess: "Do your best, me! Do your best today too...You're great, me! Don't lose, be patient, don't lose heart. Just like this, even today, I can live with all my might."

It's a lovely song to bop along to in the car, but it's not "danceable," the musical equivalant of "unputdownable." It doesn't make your pulse pound, and it doesn't stick inside your head for hours afterwards.

On the other hand my next project, the wuxia trilogy, is like "Last Romeo" by the Korean band Infinite. To epic rock-orchestral music, the boys sing about an all-consuming love: "Shine on my path; whether I want it or not, the decision has been made. I will put everything at risk. I will protect you no matter what hardships come. I can't see anything else but you."

This song is the essence of "high-concept." It gives you the breathless feeling agents and editors today want to experience when they read a manuscript. They want heartwrenching dramas that sweep them off their feet. They want the sort of books that make readers Tweet words like "obsessed" and "addicted"—the sort of books that have the potential to be international smash hits.

If you were to take "Have a Nice Day," trim out the slow intro, and speed the whole thing up, you wouldn't turn it into "Last Romeo." You'd only ruin the song by making it sound ridiculous.

Similarly, if I were to take out everything in WITS that is not the mystery, put in more twists and villainous plots, and turn the heroine into a fearless investigator who suspects everyone in sight of murder most foul, the novel wouldn't suddenly become The Girl on the Train. It would only become a faster and less affecting version of the cute fluff it is now.

I like fluff. Fluff should be fluffy. I don't want to douse my fluff in kerosene and light it on fire just to make things more exciting. Because publishing WITS would require me to do just that, I've decided to file the manuscript away for now. I'm going to take a short breather and then start work on my wuxia trilogy, which will be a blazing fire by nature.