Loch Morlich: big blog, little blog

The Cairngorm mountains beyond Loch Morlich

Beautiful Loch Morlich, Cairngorms beyond, still with patches of snow in June.

Little Blog Written by Loch Morlich

This blog was originally sent from holiday in June 2019. I was completely depleted by my autoimmune conditions, at that point undiagnosed, and spent most of the holiday lying in bed reading books.

books in bed

Honesty in Writing

It seems strange, looking back on it now, that I tried to keep my health problems a secret. Only happy pictures got posted on socials, such as ones of Aviemore Stone Circle and Reindeer in the Cairngorms. The gargantuan effort it took to get to these places, or how I hardly left the car, did not get mentioned.

I didn’t want it to be true. I wanted to ‘snap out of it’. Because I didn’t want that to be the way of me.

I still don’t, of course, and it is generally better now, flare ups aside. I guess I’m becoming more open and accepting of the situation, and I like to write honestly everywhere, not just in my books.

Big Blog

From bed I shared the news of my guest post on the official tourism site for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire: 10 Mystical and Magical Places in Aberdeenshire. Below is Pitsligo Castle, one of the sites featured in that post.

Castle door

Ducks by Loch Morlich

On the pictured morning I walked very slowly from the car to the loch, and it was wonderful to be out among such beauty. I was on the banks of Loch Morlich before the ducks were up! And probably back in bed before they were too…

Ducks by Loch Morlich

My Latest Historical Novel

Sisters at the Edge of the World by Ailish Sinclair

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 neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance.

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

See the press release here

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

About Page

Ailish Sinclair in a stone circle

See my About Page here

Newsletter

Go here to sign up for my occasional emails that always include some exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. If you would rather just hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

Writer’s Tip Jar

A Small Blue Ball of Pain

sisters
oorange tulip behind barbed wire
Tulip behind barbed wire

Originally posted May 2022 in the midst of an autoimmune flare-up.

Small Blue Ball

I am a small blue ball of pain.

Curled up.

Can’t eat. Can’t sleep. Can’t write.

Life on hold.

Wondering what went wrong. Why I am here again.

bluebells, small blue ball

A pause by the bluebell woods on the way back from hospital. A biopsy may provide answers to the mystery of me and my strange body, who knows?

The flowers smell sweet. I breathe them in.

lilac. small blue ball.

Pink

An easing comes. A moving on from the small blue ball. A sort of ‘pinkening’. Lilac flowers are taken in from the garden, and I sit in a delicately scented cloud of beauty.

Then, a few steps, and I am outside.

Camelia. Small blue ball.

It is glorious. Painful still, but better. I can envision being well again.

The sunshine. The breeze. I love it all.

pink bench and blossom
Blossom caught in the pink bench.

Writing

Thoughts of writing come. I left my poor characters in the middle of the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. War. A situation far worse than my own. I must release them from it soon.

Cover Reveal

Before all this, before I became ill again, a cover was designed. My own photos of stones from Aikey Brae Stone Circle were used.

SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD cover

The main character in the book is neurodivergent.

As am I.

Illness makes me open, bared and true. Pain peels back layers of politeness and hesitancy and doubt. I just say things. And, I just am.

I still hope for a summer release, a later one obviously, maybe early autumn. My body will have its say in the matter. But it will come…

Update: Sisters at the Edge of the World came out in September 2022

Ethereal and spellbinding... says the Historical Novel Society of SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD

When Morragh speaks to another person for the very first time, she has no idea that he is an invader in her land…

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 neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance!

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide/Barnes & Noble

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

Newsletter and Updates

Sign up to the mailing list for news about my life and writing, and some exclusive photos. If you would rather just hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

My About Page

Ailish's feet

Read about little old me here!

Writer’s Tip Jar

Dunes and Trees and Intense Writing

A break from intense writing - dunes

Back in the dunes again. Below the big sky. Between intense writing sessions.

The Intense Writing

Near the end of Fouetté, there’s a moment when Aleks is going to speak to a troubled character who needs help and counselling. He assures Amalphia that he can do this. My editor made a comment there at the side of the manuscript: “Can you, Aleks? Really?”

The events of the book that I’m working on now (a new series, hopefully coming later this year) were in the editor’s mind at that moment. And the answer to her question was, and is: no. Aleks couldn’t fix things. The troubled character’s actions and problems are giving me, and everyone in the story, including himself, an enormous amount of difficulty.

I find myself lying awake worrying about it all, like I haven’t done since the early stages of writing Cabriole. But I love him, that dear character, and it will all be okay in the end…

dunes - intense writing

Trees

There’s been a lot of rain, so I’ve been squelching through mud again as I try to get various elements of that story straight in my head.

walking in the woods between intense writing sessions

But there’s also been sunshine, and pink skies, and I know that really, all is well.

pink skies over intense writing
A storm-damaged tree against the sunset.

A Dancer’s Journey

A Dancer's Journey by Ailish Sinclair

Read the series that’s been shocking people! It’s available in paperback, kindle and on kindle unlimited.

Amazon

Scotland’s all misty lochs and magical forests and perfect boyfriends, right?

When dance student Amalphia Treadwell embarks on a secret relationship with her charismatic new teacher, she has no idea of the danger that lurks in his school in Scotland…

Review snippets:

Deanne Patterson on Tendu: It broke my heart and then healed it and made it sing. Full review here.

Molly H on Cabriole: It’s truly one of the best books I’ve ever read and made me feel SO MANY FEELINGS. Full review here – some spoilers.

Tom Williams on Fouetté: I galloped through it, loving every moment. Full review here – some spoilers, especially if you haven’t read Cabriole.

Tendu by Ailish Sinclair

About Page

Ailish Sinclair

See the page here

Newsletter, Updates and ARCs

Go here to sign up for occasional emails that always include exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. They’re a bit more intimate than the blog. If you would like to hear about new books and special offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

Reviewers can apply for Advance Reader Copies of future books here

Writer’s Tip Jar

Spoonie Days, a Pink Sunrise and Snowy Spring

sunrise on a spoonie day

That was a beautiful pink sunrise a few weeks ago over a local doocot. Before I got ill. And spoonie time started. Again. Sigh.

Having revelled my way through the beauty of winter, celebrating the fact I was staying so well, I have been struck down once more. But I’ve been a lot worse. And I’m not in hospital, so that’s good. And, as my appearance here today shows, the medication is starting to kick in.

Spoonie Days

I have managed to keep up my writing schedule. My first spoon of the day goes on that. There’s quite a good explanation of the term spoonie here. Basically, spoons represent the energy you have for tasks and activities each day. And with chronic illness, the spoons can be very limited.

A Dancer’s Journey Series

Quote from TENDU by Ailish Sinclair

These books are long, and involved. They’re rather a Magnum Opus at over 100,000 words each. They’re all at different stages of the editing/proofing process. I’m so enjoying working with all the editing feedback and bringing them together into something strange, intense and, hopefully, beautiful. So they will still be out this year. I will not stop till they’re done. Update: Amazon!

But that’s my blogging spoon spent. For today. I’ll leave you with the scene that greets me most mornings at the moment… I’m not sure what happened to spring!

My Books

Historical Fiction from Ailish Sinclair. Witches, kidnapping, Romans and romance.
  • SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD opens on a snowy winter solstice in 1st century Scotland. The main character is neurodivergent, 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 is set in both Scotland and Colonial Pennsylvania.

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

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Newsletter and Updates

Go here to sign up for occasional emails that always include some exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. They’re a more intimate space than the blog. If you would rather just hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

Writer’s Tip Jar

When I’m Away From the Keyboard…

Book covers of A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair: celebratory dance.

Every so often I step away from the keyboard and take a day off. Not because I want to. I resist and avoid and cling to my desk in a desperate fashion. Friends persuade and entice me outside. And it is always good, always nourishing and refreshing. There’s a planned outing later this week, and I can just picture my characters’ reactions when they realise I’m not there…

Sharp-witted Justin notices first. He looks up, listens and checks again. “She’s gone out!”

Every character sags with relief. They go back to bed and sleep in till lunchtime. Later, they shuffle downstairs to get tea and food, and they sit in silence in the great hall of the castle.

People who usually snipe and gripe at each other, pass the sugar without word. Two of them exchange a wry smile, for without my omniscient presence to keep them busy, they can sense what’s coming; not the details, but the shadow of something bad ahead, something they would avoid if they could. But like my day out, it cannot be avoided. It has to happen.

A Dancer's Journey

They head to bed early, exhausted by the hours of doing nothing, tired from the rest and relaxation.

No arguments. No sex. No laughter.

How boring! These people need me. Maybe I shouldn’t step away from the keyboard after all…

The desk of Scottish author Ailish Sinclair when she's not stepping away from the keyboard (so, most days)...

They didn’t get left alone for long, those poor characters. I soon pulled them all back into the drama and the story.

And that story will be out later in 2023, in the form of a contemporary three-book series called A Dancer’s Journey. As you can see from my editor’s comment below, Justin and the others were completely justified in being relieved that I was gone.

Update: the whole series is out now!

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

Series on Goodreads

Page with blurbs and quotes

Dance and Despair: Writing What You Know on Women Writers, Women[‘s] Books.

More on the series:

My Historical Novels

I put the characters through the proverbial wringer in these too!

Historical Fiction from Ailish Sinclair. Witches, kidnapping, Romans and romance.
  • SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD opens on a snowy winter solstice in 1st century Scotland. The main character is neurodivergent, 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 is set in both Scotland and Colonial Pennsylvania.

All novels are available in paperback, kindle and on kindle unlimited.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Newsletter and Updates

Sign up to the mailing list for news about my life and writing, and some exclusive photos. If you would like to hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

My About Page

Ailish's feet

Read all about little old me here!

Writer’s Tip Jar

Snowdrops in the Garden

snowdrops

The snowdrops have arrived, and with them the knowledge that spring is on the horizon.

snowdrops by a tree

They can be found nestling by old trees.

snowdrops in January

Small clumps of beauty abound in the garden. There are carpets of them in the woods, but I don’t have a recent picture. I will endeavour to take one before their short season is done.

snowdrops from above

I love the blue-grey of their stems and their perfect white blooms. Snowdrops rule the land at the moment, being the only flower, the only brightness, on the ground.

snowdrops in the woods

SO MANY FEELINGS

Cabriole received a beautiful review from Molly on Amazon and Goodreads. She does warn of spoilers at the start, so I’ll just quote a couple of her more general comments here:

I couldn’t put this book down. It was so good I didn’t even stop reading while brushing my teeth… I laughed out loud many times! I cackled twice. I cursed at characters in my head a few times. It’s truly one of the best books I’ve ever read and made me feel SO MANY FEELINGS.

Cabriole by Ailish Sinclair

Read the series that’s been shocking people! It’s available in paperback, kindle and on kindle unlimited.

Amazon

Scotland’s all misty lochs and magical forests and perfect boyfriends, right?

When dance student Amalphia Treadwell embarks on a secret relationship with her charismatic new teacher, she has no idea of the danger that lurks in his school in Scotland…

On the flat stone of Aikey Brae Stone Circle

About Page

Ailish among the stones

See the Page here

Newsletter, Updates and ARCs

Go here to sign up for occasional emails that always include exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. They’re a bit more intimate than the blog. If you would like to hear about new books and special offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

Reviewers can apply for Advance Reader Copies of future books here

Writer’s Tip Jar

Woodland Pictures from the Time of Lockdown

misty woodland pictures

These woodland pictures were originally posted in 2020 during lockdown.

Lost in Writing

I am lost in writing. I am in the Iron Age. Second draft. Rough edges. Rough middle. Super-rough ending. Full of raw emotion. The manuscript is ragged with it, as am I.

2022 edit: the book is out now

Misty Woodland Pictures

I revel in timeless pictures and misty woods. And lockdown has not kept those from me. I know I am lucky in this, and hope you are all finding some beauty too.

woodland pictures

There’s been tree felling here, so soon after Aikey. The wider world is strange and changed, and the immediate world mimics it in metaphor.

Whoops.

This post seems to be approaching a pretentious overuse of literary devices, especially alliteration… Things may be odd, but there’s no excuse for that!

Scots pines in lockdown: woodland pictures

Scots Pines. Sturdy and strong. Oops.

hazel trees on the skyline: woodland pictures

I love the gnarly nature of the hazel trees. It could have been worse. I could have added the word ‘nutty’. But just for a moment, I am going to give in to this curious compulsion…

mists over trees: misty woodland pictures

There have been many misty mornings. And with that one terrible sentence, it is gone…

Wild Scottish cherry blossom.

The gean trees (wild Scottish cherry) are blossoming.

sunset sky during lockdown

Sunsets are wonderful. And the moon is too.

A woodland quote from THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR:

Sisters at the Edge of the World (mentioned above)

The Romans called it the edge of the world

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 neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance!

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

See the press release here

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

Newsletter

Go here to sign up for my occasional emails that always include exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. They’re a more intimate space than the blog. If you would rather just hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

About Page

Ailish Sinclair in a tree...

Read all about little old me here

Writer’s Tip Jar

Witches’ Brooms in the Trees

Looking for witches' brooms in the woods

The witches’ brooms of this post are actually deformities in trees, often caused by a fungus. I rather like them, both their appearance and their name, probably because of interests like this. However, none are to be found on the gnarly, wizened hazel trees by the loch.

We have to venture deeper into the wood, and gaze up at the high branches of the birches, for that.

Witches’ Brooms

There they are!

witches' brooms on birch trees

They are often mistaken for nests.

Witches’ Knickers

No witches’ knickers today. And that’s good, as those are just plastic bags caught in trees or on fences, and not photogenic at all.

Historical Novel Society Review

Sisters at the Edge of the World cover

SISTERS has been reviewed for the Historical Novel Society here.

“The setting is ethereal and spellbinding as our main characters walk a fine line between what has been and what is to come. A beautiful tale of ancient wonders and kindred souls.”

Most highlighted bit of the book:

quote from SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD by Ailish Sinclair

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Newsletter and Updates

Go here to sign up for occasional emails that always include some exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. They’re a more intimate space than the blog. If you would rather just hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

Writer’s Tip Jar

The Hanging Stone on Gallows Hill

the hanging stone, Rosehearty
Mounthooly Doocot

Searching for the Hanging Stone

A couple of years ago, I decided to look for the Hanging Stone near Rosehearty, here in Aberdeenshire. It’s a witch stone, a place of historical execution and, according to local folklore, ‘dooking’ as well.

I knew the stone was in the vicinity of the Mounthooly Doocot (pigeon house), pictured above and below, so headed there first.

*Experiences mild jealousy of past self, so gung-ho in the ability to just get up and go out.*

Mounthooly Doocot

Turning 360 degrees, searching the skyline, the stone was finally spotted, embedded in a dry-stane dyke. That’s a dry-stone wall; there’s a great art and skill to building these traditional field boundaries.

The Hanging Stone on the horizon.

I walked from the Mounthooly car park, along narrow roads and then up the field.

The Hanging Stone on Gallows Hill, Rosehearty, Aberdeenshire

And there it was. The stone was quite tall, much taller than me, and wrapped round with barbed wire, which seemed somehow appropriate, given its dark past.

The Hanging Stone on Gallows Hill, Rosehearty, Aberdeenshire

History of the Hanging Stone

The Hanging Stone is quite possibly an ancient standing stone which later came to be associated with execution. It’s very square. Carved that way, I think.

Nearby is ‘The Pit’, said to have been ‘for witches’ and to have been used for ‘dooking’. This was a practice that involved testing someone in water to see if they would sink or float, and thereby prove if they were a witch or not. I did not see The Pit, and, as I walked away, focused my attention on the great beauty of the ocean views.

The stone on the Canmore archaeological site

The Hanging Stone on Gallows Hill, Rosehearty, Aberdeenshire

Latest Book

Sisters at the Edge of the World by Ailish Sinclair

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

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

See the press release here

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

About Page

feet

Read all about me here

Newsletter

Go here to sign up for my occasional emails that always include exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. If you would rather just hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

Writer’s Tip Jar

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

Newsletter

Keep up with all my news by signing up to the mailing list. It’s occasional and always contains some exclusive photos.

Writer’s Tip Jar