The 18th Century Letter Seals of Lord Pitsligo

Eighteenth Century Letter Seals

Those are the beautiful letter seals of Lord Pitsligo, a man I have written about before:

letter seals

His forward thinking ways inspired aspects of the Laird in THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, and a similar set of letter seals feature in FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE.

Letter Seals Quote from FIREFLIES:

Excerpt from FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE featuring letter seals.

Research

The seals were shown to me by a direct descendant of Lord Pitsligo while I was researching FIREFLIES. I got to hold them and turn them on their hinges, which was wonderfully informative and exciting. It was great to connect to the time of the book like that too.

Label on Lord Pitsligo's letter seals

The Book

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair, out 2021

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children and young people of Aberdeen. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle, and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

See the publisher’s Press Release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society Editor’s Pick

Jacobite wine glasses at Culloden visitor centre
More research: Jacobite symbolism on wine glasses at Culloden

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An Explosive Loch for the New Year

an explosive loch, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

The loch seemed to look explosive yesterday when I walked down to its banks.

I do like the pink and blue colours of January. It’s so mild, too. Not a hint of frost or ice left.

In the woods:

trees by the explosive loch

And, just before sunrise, at the beach:

beach at sunrise

Sisters has a lovely new review from Ashley over on the Adventures in Literature Blog.

Told in first-person, all from Morragh’s perspective, be prepared to experience everything as she does. From her awakening out of muteness, to her embracing of her role as the spiritual leader of their tribe and eventually to her transition to the next stage. I will admit the final chapters had me emotional.See the whole review here.

Read my books for free

All my novels are on Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s lending service, and that always has a 30 day free trial, though some people are being offered 3 months for free just now. See all the books here. Also in paperback.

kindle unlimited

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Ailish's feet

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The Rocking Stones of Auchmaliddie

The rocking stones of Auchmaliddie

The Rocking Stones of Auchmaliddie, situated near the village of New Deer in Aberdeenshire, are thought to be the remnants of a recumbent stone circle. Only the large recumbent and one flanker remain. They are made of white quartz which lights up under the moon and sparkles in the sunlight. What an impressive circle it would have been when whole! Most recumbent circles in the Grampian region are aligned to moon cycles so moonlight quite possibly featured in their use.

They are still beautiful, I think. Even in driving hail, as they were when I visited recently.

close up of the quartz of the rocking stones of auchmaliddie
The quartz.

The black line there is comprised of straw bales wrapped in plastic. The stones are located at the edge of a field.

The rocking stones of Auchmaliddie.

Folklore of the Rocking Stones

Local folklore suggests that the stones, also known as the Muckle (huge) Stanes of Auchmaliddie, were once placed on top of one another. It is said that if a person were to stand on them and tell a lie the top stone would tip.

The rocking stones of Auchmaliddie

A Stone Circle, Destroyed

The rocking stones have fared better than the stone circle that stood on the hill, just a mile or so away, at the other side of the village. In the 18th century it was smashed up and used in the foundations of the new manse. Bad luck is said to befall anyone who lives on the surrounding lands. The nearby farm is called Standing Stones. Below is the hillside where the circle would have been, Culsh Monument to the right.

The Culsh Monument, New Deer, Aberdeenshire

In other news, I did a wee interview over on Relationships are Complicated.com here.

Quote from interview: My next historical novel explores the relationship between two chosen sisters who flee abuse together as young children. They are as close as two people can be and I am still working on conveying that closeness and the deep understanding that exists between these young women as they negotiate their own romantic liaisons with men, both approved and unapproved by their community, and as their Bronze Age society marches into war. (Now published. See SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD).

If you liked this article on the Rocking Stones of Auchmaliddie, you might like to explore my other stone circle posts here.

Or maybe my books, all of which feature a stone circle:

Sisters at the Edge of the World cover

Set in 1st century Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodiverse main character and some rather complicated romance!

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

Cover of Ailish Sinclair's 'The Mermaid and the Bear'

Taking place mainly in a castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair, out 2021

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children and young people of Aberdeen. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

See the publisher’s Press Release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society Editor’s Pick

feet

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Thoughts on Publishing and Beach Sunrises

beach sunrises: Fraserburgh beach
Tiger Hill, Fraserburgh

Beach sunrises

I’ve been lucky to catch a few beautiful ones lately. And to manage a few short walks upon the sand. I’m back to my usual routine of first thing in the morning writing sessions. It’s good. The writing gets the best of my brain then, I think.

Thinking

I’ve been doing lots of that. Between the beach sunrises.

beach
Waves…

I’ve been very happy being published by a traditional small press. But this next book I’m working on is a bit strange. And short. It does not conform. And I don’t want to change it to make it do so. I like it the way it is. It’s how the story needs to be. So I’m wondering about self publishing.

Maybe.

I think.

I’m indecisive.

I need the process to be as stress-free as possible. My health issues are exacerbated by stress. So, I’m thinking just to Kindle first. For ease. And learning.

Maybe.

I think…

Feel free to share your advice and insights!

beach sunrise
Silvery sands.

Though really, before any of that, I need to focus on the writing and the refining and the rewriting and the relationships in the story and trying not to write run on sentences… and just tap tap tap away at that keyboard.

writing in fingerless gloves
Early morning gloves do make me feel a bit Dickensian!

Update: I published it in both paperback and kindle

Sisters at the Edge of the World cover

Set in 1st century Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodiverse main character and some rather complicated romance.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Review from Terry Tyler: “It’s a fabulous story, a real page-turner and so well written. It made me think about the passage and circle of time, of the constancy of the land on which we live and the transient nature of human life. Loved it.

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

The traditionally published books:

Ailish's books

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the 18th century kidnapped children of Aberdeen.

Set in an Aberdeenshire castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR features the Scottish witchcraft accusations and a love story.

Paperbacks and kindle: Amazon UK or Amazon Worldwide

“Ailish Sinclair spins this Scottish tale filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society

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Christmas Reading and Gentle Colours

loch, and Christmas reading.

A little lull has been reached at the end of a hectic week. The colours of the loch are gentle, muted now at the darkest point of the year. I’ve seen a few blog posts about Christmas reading, such as this one here from Jacqueline Seewald. People are sharing the books they’re reading, and those that they’ve written, and I thought I’d join in.

So, share away! What books are you reading over the next couple of weeks? And/or, which books of yours should we consider delving into just now?

I’m reading Where There’s Doubt (romantic suspense/psychological thriller) by Terry Tyler and The Essex Serpent (historical fiction) by Sarah Perry. They’re both very good. My own books are down at the end of this post.

Feel free to add to the previous sharing posts too. They will be brought to the front of the blog perennially, so won’t vanish into the abyss. Share Your Books and Writing, and also Share First Lines.

Christmas Reading

My historical novels all involve little-known dark historical events, romance and a little magic…

Christmas reading from Ailish Sinclair
  • SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD opens on a snowy winter solstice in 1st century Scotland. The main character is neurodiverse, and has been non-verbal until that first scene of the book.
  • If you like castles, Scotland, history, witches, stone circles and Christmas done medieval-style, you might like THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR. There’s also a love story.
  • FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children of 18th century Aberdeen, and features Christmas in Colonial Pennsylvania.

They’re all available in paperback, kindle and on kindle unlimited.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Signed copies from me

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Go here to sign up for occasional emails that always include exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. They’re a more intimate space than the blog.

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Walking on Balmedie Beach in my Slippers

Balmedie Beach, walking on the beach

On the way home from a hospital visit in 2020, I stopped at Balmedie beach.

Balmedie Beach

I crossed the boardwalk slowly, being careful not to catch my slippers in the gaps between wood. My foot is a lot better, though I still can’t wear proper shoes or put my heel right down on the ground, but I was determined to walk on the beach.

Continue reading “Walking on Balmedie Beach in my Slippers”

Colour in Thawed Places

colour in the thawed places of the loch

I thought things might get less scenic once the ice and snow started to melt. My walk was a little later yesterday, so the sun was just setting over the hill. And it was the melted places, the thawed places, that reflected the colour of that sunset.

bright colour in thawed places

Today it’s freezing again. The temperature is -8. So, fire and fingerless gloves on, off I go to write. I’m adding a new element to a scene in CABRIOLE, the sequel to TENDU, and it’s going to make everything just so much worse for everyone. The fun!

Romans and Romance

The main character in SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD is neurodiverse, and has been non-verbal until the first scene of the book.

Set in 1st century Scotland, this is a story of chosen sisters, fierce warriors, divided loyalties and, ultimately, love.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Review from Terry Tyler: “It’s a fabulous story, a real page-turner and so well written. It made me think about the passage and circle of time, of the constancy of the land on which we live and the transient nature of human life. Loved it.

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

Sisters at the Edge of the World

All my books are available in paperback and kindle and can be seen on my Amazon Author Page

Ailish Sinclair

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Dark and Brooding Skies

Dark and brooding skies over the loch

There’s brooding skies over the loch now. You can see the wee island that the landowner is building for wildlife. But the snow has turned to sleet, so things are about to get less pretty. Will these little daily blogs continue? I don’t know. Perhaps. Other scenic things may happen.

It’s Mermaid Time!

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair. Christmas image.

Everyone knows about the Salem witch trials that took place in seventeenth century America, but less well known are the instances of witch hunting that occurred across Scotland.

Ailish Sinclair painstakingly researched this fascinating and terrible subject for more than a year, before blending it with a love story in her debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR. Featuring three real women who were accused as part of the Aberdeen witchcraft panic of 1597, the book is set against the beautiful backdrop of the Aberdeenshire countryside and tells the story of Isobell, and her desperation to escape London and an arranged marriage, to find a better life.

Upon landing in Scotland, Isobell’s dreams of faery castles, ancient woodlands and misty lochs seem to be coming true, as she finds herself kitchen maid to a handsome Laird, who offers not only safety but also the hope for a brighter future, filled with love and kindness. All is not how it seems, however, and enemies, both from the past and the present, conspire to test Isobell to the limits of endurance, and beyond.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Signed copies

The Mermaid and the Bear Christmas

Updates

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Winter in Scotland: let it snow

Winter in Scotland: Strichen lake, a snowy Scottish scene

It’s raining here in Scotland this winter, but I’m thinking about snow. I’m still a bit monstrous, but I’m thinking about pretty things, sparkly things, Christmas baubles and frost and ice.

Winter in Scotland

That’s the loch in Strichen Community Park above, and below.

Winter in Scotland: A Scottish snowy scene, Strichen Lake

And then stones. I think about them a lot. Witchy ones in the half light of approaching snow:

Winter in Scotland: Snowy Scottish scenes: the witch stone

Bronze Age ones. The Memsie Burial Cairn:

Winter in Scotland:  Burial Cairn in the snow

And circles. Of course, those.

Winter in Scotland: stone circle in the snow

My thoughts go to the woods of Delgatie Castle…

A Snowy Scottish scene in Delgatie woods

I would like to be marching along those paths.

Winter in Scotland: snowy track

Just look at the fluffy trees!

Winter in Scotland: snowy trees at Delgatie

Closer to home, there’s the field.

Winter in Scotland: snowy Scottish scenes

Track newly cleared by the farmer:

Tractor tracks in the snow

And then there’s a fox!

Winter in Scotland: fox in the snow

And deer bottoms…

deer bottoms in the snow

I mustn’t forget frost at the beach. I love the crunch of the sand.

Winter in Scotland: frost at the beach

The low winter sun shines through.

Low sun in the snow: snowy Scottish scenes

Here’s hoping we get some snow soon 🙂

Reviews

Sally Cronin features a selection of books (including SISTERS), from personally recommended authors, that she believes will make wonderful gifts for friends, family and you. See her wonderful Smorgasbord Christmas Book Fair here.

Interesting review of The Mermaid and the Bear, assessing it on the first five sentences alone, here from Jennifer Starks.

All My Books

My historical novels all involve dark events, romance and a little magic and snow…

  • SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD opens on a snowy winter solstice.
  • THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR has 6 chapters of medieval Christmas.
  • FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE features Christmas in Colonial Pennsylvania.

They’re all available in paperback, kindle and on kindle unlimited.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Signed copies from me

Novels by Ailish Sinclair

Newsletter

Go here to sign up for occasional emails that always include exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. They’re a more intimate space than the blog.

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Oh, to wander in the woods…

snowy woods in Scotland

Post from December 2019.

The Woods in Winter

That is my favourite bit of path in the woods by my house. It’s also the most productive. When I get stuck with a storyline or a finicky little plot detail that just won’t iron out, that’s where I go, and solutions become clear. Big epiphanies about characters and back stories happen there too. Maybe it’s because it’s a timeless landscape. Or maybe I just feel relaxed and at peace there.

Just now though, I am recovering from flu and can’t walk in the woods. Soon, I tell myself. Soon. I can sit up and write so I may really need to go there soon! (Edit 2022: it would not be soon. This was the start of a non-woodland path to an auto-immunity diagnosis that would wind its way through hospital stays and many monstrous moments!)

Reviews

I’ve been deeply touched by how much thought people have been putting into their reviews of THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR.

Local Quine Kate the Quiet Knitter’s review “This wonderful magical tale then takes a deviation towards the darkness and from here Sinclair’s research and writing really shines. Her portrayal of 16th century Scotland is entrancing, and the details of the witch-hunts taking place in that time are fascinating.”

On the Mum, Write NOW blog “Overall the characters are lovable, I found it interesting that their lives intertwined slightly with Shakespeare and also touched on LGBT culture and attitudes at that time. It really felt that there was a depth of historical knowledge informing the narrative which I always enjoy.”

An Impertinent Interview

And the Wee Writing Lassie wrote about the book and asked me 7 impertinent questions! “Another inclusive detail in Ailish’s novel is the fact that her heroine – Isobell – is a plus sized woman, and this is never treated like a problem, or something about her that needs to be fixed, by the narrative. All body type inclusion, yeah!”

The Woods in Summer

The same path, though the other end and other direction, in the woods, in summer:

green woods

Newsletter

For updates about my life and writing, sign up to the mailing list. It always includes some exclusive photos and is a more intimate space than the blog.

Read my books for free

All my novels are on Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s lending service, and that has a 30 day free trial, though some people are being offered 3 months for free just now. See all the books here. Also in paperback.

kindle unlimited

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