Summer Solstice at Aviemore Stone Circle

Roses bloom in Aviemore stone circle

Aviemore Stone Circle is unusual, though not unique, in that it is situated in the middle of a housing estate.

On the day I visited – Summer Solstice 2019 – roses were blooming at the edge of the circle, adding to the magical atmosphere of the place. The houses don’t detract from that, bushes and trees lending some privacy to the ancient stones.

Aviemore stone circle in the sun

Solstice Sun

The sun was newly risen and bright; patches of ground seemed almost luminescent. There’s often a special light quality at stone circles, whether they’re in an open urban setting like this, or tucked away within dark forests. Maybe the mind just tends toward mysticism among these mysterious old standing stones.

Under the rowan tree

People had left mementos or offerings in the Rowan tree, perhaps treating the site like a clootie well?

ribbons tied to a tree by the stone circle

Clouds gathered overhead as I left the circle, on my way to an utterly amazing breakfast just round the corner at the Mountain Cafe (no longer there, sadly).

Aviemore stone circle and house

If you liked this post on Aviemore Stone Circle, you might also like:

There’s a stone circle in all my books:

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.

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair, and a harp

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

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

And A Dancer’s Journey:

A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair

These books are so naughty that I’m a little worried nobody will be able to look me in the face again after reading them. But not that worried. They’re heading out into the world anyway.

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…

See the series page here on the site for full blurbs and quotes

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

A Dancer's Journey Series by Ailish Sinclair - dark and romantic books
feet

See my About Page here

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Crovie: a Historic Village in Aberdeenshire

stones on a windowsill in Crovie
Crovie

Clearances

Crovie is an 18th century fishing village in the North-East of Scotland. People first came to live there after having been cleared away from their inland homes to make way for sheep farming.

Today many of the houses are holiday lets, and it’s a scenic place to walk. And take photos.

Oh, yes.

A Crovie Walk

This post details a walk taken in 2015.

Crovie from above

See those vans below? Beside the amazing sea? That’s as far up the street as vehicles can go in Crovie:

Crovie and coast

View from the shore:

The shore at Crovie

The wee postbox:

red letter box at Crovie

The coastline is beautiful and dramatic. Light conditions change constantly.

rocks

Myself and a friend set off on what was meant to be a 1.5 mile walk.

We got lost.

There was torrential rain.

The approach of the rain:

clouds gather

We walked on and on.

We followed the arrows.

And we found ourselves in a pea field.

pea plants growing

The pea field led to a gorge. We retraced our many, many steps, eight miles of steps in the end… but then there was soup and pie and cake and all was very, very well.

pebbles spell out Crovie

Naughty Contemporary Fiction

A Dancer's Journey Series by Ailish Sinclair

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…

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

My dance background and love of history and spicy stories are what inspired this heady mix of contemporary romance and ballet set in a castle. Readers of my historical fiction will recognise the castle and stone circle that feature in these books.

There are no cliffhanger endings in this series; each book completes a story, but then there is more. So much more. Read all the blurbs here

Historical Fiction

Books by Ailish Sinclair

These novels combine little-known dark events with love stories and a hint of magic.

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

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Newsletter

Go here to sign up for my occasional emails. It’s a more intimate space than the blog and always contains some exclusive photos. If you would like to hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

About Page

Ailish in the stones

See the About Page

Writer’s Tip Jar

Working Girl: a WordPress Prompt Goes Dark

wordpress prompt

What jobs have you had?

A WordPress Prompt

Well, WordPress prompt, when I was fifteen, I took over my ballet teacher’s school for a few months before going to college.

Despite being far too young for such a responsibility, I loved it, and it paid for all the dancewear and equipment I needed for my studies.

ballet teacher: wordpress prompt

In my second year of dance school, I got a job in a shop in Covent Garden. It was a very nice shop. I had more money. No more choosing between food and decent pointe shoes.

shop assistant: wordpress prompt

But here is where things go a bit darker than the WordPress prompt probably intended. I knew really, that working both Saturday and Sunday, after a hard week of dance training, was a bit foolhardy. My sensible friend, Suzette, who would have counselled against this, had returned to Mauritius. More about Suzette and dance training here

So, I became exhausted. There was dance injury after dance injury. I developed a chest infection that lasted five months.

The shop sacked me for being ill. This left me even more vulnerable than I had already been, at seventeen, alone in London.

There was a violent predator.

There was an incident from which I was lucky to escape with my life.

Fast forward to the present, skipping several other jobs…

writer: wordpress prompt

And my writing is influenced by my past. This is most evident in my contemporary work. There is a dark event in TENDU, the first book of A Dancer’s Journey, that I knew how to write because of my own experience. Not that it’s exactly the same, of course. In fact, it’s quite different. Fiction has to be more dramatic than reality, and more interesting. Far more interesting…

And have an infinitely more exciting setting…

These books have dark moments, but they are actually quite fun, overall, I think. And naughty. Like life, if you’re lucky!

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.

Diabolical reading

More on the series

Historical Fiction

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

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.

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair

Taking place mainly in a fictional 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

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

feet

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

Staring Out to Sea from Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar Castle on the cliffs
A cliff-edge view

Dunnottar Castle sits high on the cliffs near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire. It’s scenic and sprawling and, though peaceful now, it boasts a turbulent history.

drawing room at Dunnottar Castle
Great Hall

History of Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar was attacked by Vikings in the ninth century, and captured by William Wallace in 1297. Kings and queens loved to visit: Mary Queen of Scots, James VI, and at one point during my own visit, I was standing in the bedroom of Charles II.

Smithy at Dunnottar Castle
The Old Smithy

Ghosts!

Though I didn’t meet them, there’s said to be a lassie in a green plaid searching for her lost Pictish children, a young deer hound, and a Scandinavian military gentleman who likes to stare out to sea.

I understand the need to stare across the ocean. The seascape at Dunnottar is mesmerising.

silvery ocean
Seeing across the sea…

The elevated position of the castle means you can see across miles and miles of silvery sea. The window below is located in the Whigs’ Vault that held imprisoned Covenanters in 1685. It’s a dark and terrible place. I had to reach out to the air and the sky and the light.

Ailish Sinclair stares out to sea
A dark window

Views, views, everywhere…

sea view at Dunnottar Castle
Sea and cliffs

But it’s time to go. It’s time to walk back up the many, many steps that seemed so inconsequential on the way down…

Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar

For more information on the wonderfully atmospheric Dunnottar Castle visit the official site.

My Books

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.

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair, and a harp

Taking place mainly in a fictional 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

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

ballet feet of Ailish Sinclair

See my About Page here

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.

Writer’s Tip Jar

Vikings and Mermaids at the Beach

sea at Fraserburgh beach - vikings and mermaids

Sky. Sea. Sand. Vikings and mermaids. It’s been a summer of these. Even on dull days it’s been warm, and walks on the beach, beautiful. I’m donning the tour guide hat, and we’re going to explore some beaches, cliffs and caves.

Whitehills

rainbow over the coast: vikings and mermaids

Let’s walk the coast route between Banff and Whitehills. We get rained on, but we get a rainbow.

Below is the Red Well. More on that here as it features in SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD (out now!).

The Red Well, Whitehills

Vikings!

No time to linger at the well today as we’re skipping along to Gardenstown and St John’s Kirk. There it is, up on the hill between cloud shadows.

St John's Kirk, Gardenstown - vikings and mermaids

There is an exciting tale of local ladies winning a battle with the Vikings in 1004 by weaponising their stockings with rocks and sand. Three Viking skulls were subsequently built into the walls of the then under-construction Kirk.

The coast as seen from the walls of St John's Kirk, Gamrie - Going Coastal with Ailish Sinclair North East Scotland Beaches

Today it’s a peaceful place, though the landscape is probably much the same as it was during the era of battling lassies and Viking warriors.

landscape at Gamrie

New Aberdour

Time for a picnic and an exploration of the various bays at New Aberdour.

New Aberdour: North East Scotland Beaches

Let’s lie on the ground and gaze up at the red rocks and blue sky above.

rocks and sky: North East Scotland Beaches

We watch, entranced, as sand martins dart in and out of their nests. Whoops, forget to cover the homemade pizza so it’s now covered in sand.  Never mind, just time for a poke around in a rock pool before we go…

rock pool: vikings and mermaids

Fraserburgh

Okay. Shoes off. We’re searching for vikings and mermaids. We’re going to race along the golden shore at Fraserburgh, getting the sand right up between our toes. If we’re feeling energetic we can climb Tiger Hill, that large dune to the right, and enjoy enhanced views of the beach and town.

reflective clouds at the coast: North East Scotland Beaches

A reflective moment.

Fraserburgh beach - reflections at the coast

St Combs

Calming right down now. We turn the corner. Out comes a book and a bar of chocolate as we sit on the rocks at St Combs.

St Combs beach: vikings and mermaids

Walking boots on for this next part…

rocky

The Bullers of Buchan: Mermaids!

On we go, past Peterhead, to seek out mermaids at the Bullers of Buchan. There are folk tales of them being spotted here in the cave known as the Sea Cauldron:

the sea cauldron - vikings and mermaids!

It’s actually quite a dangerous place, with cliff edges all round, so do take care.

The coast at the Bullers of Buchan: vikings and mermaids

We’ve come to the end of our coastal odyssey. Just one more stare at that silvery sea from the Bullers, and then it’s home for a cup of hot chocolate.

The coast at the Bullers of Buchan - Ailish Sinclair, author: vikings and mermaids

My Historical Fiction

Historical fiction by Ailish Sinclair

These novels combine little-known dark events with love stories and a hint of magic.

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

And don’t miss the new naughtier books!

A Dancer's Journey, a 3 book series by Ailish Sinclair

Read about them here.


See my About Page here

Newsletter

Go here to sign up for my (roughly monthly) newsletter. It’s a more intimate space than the blog and always includes some exclusive photos. If you would like to hear about new books and offers, you can follow my Amazon author page.

Tip Jar

Some Depressing Time Travel

time travel with a book

That’s what my son said of my little video attempt below. “Wow, that’s some depressing time travel.”

Romantic Time Travel

I do like those sad stories, though. Not that they’re sad, beginning to end, these books. There’s romance in them all, happy romance, sometimes a little bit naughty too. And one of them has chocolate… No actual time travel, though. None at all.

You can be depressed by them all here in the UK, or for worldwide depression, go here.

Writing with no time travel

I’ve been writing, writing, writing, living in the intense and sexy atmosphere of A Dancer’s Journey. I love it. I don’t want to leave it. It’s fun and romantic, if a little devastating and dramatic in places. But leave it, I will, later this year, when all three books finally get released.

More on the series:

Pink Things

I’ve been enjoying the pink phase of the garden…

pink bench in a time travel post
Pink bench and cherry blossom

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

Crying While Writing: anyone else do this?

Crying while writing: Star of Bethlehem flowers
Star of Bethlehem in the meadow

Crying while writing. Crying while editing. And even crying while thinking about writing, as the scenes, both happy and sad, play out in my mind. It’s no wonder I’m sometimes dehydrated!

So, am I the only one?

Tell me I’m not.

I can’t be.

Emotive writing is, just that. Springing from emotion. Causing of emotions. If the writer isn’t fully immersed, how can the reader ever be?

crying while writing: Rhododendron flowers on the pink bench
Rhododendron flowers on the pink bench

Marketing

But then, I read other things, sensible things really. Like, when we market our books, they should be regarded as ‘products’ and we should not be emotionally attached to them. This is meant to work well. It makes better ‘business’ sense. And we should write to a ‘market’ and design covers to a genre stereotype. The first one I can maybe manage, at least while marketing, but certainly not while writing. The rest, no. It all flows fast and organically out of me and I have no choice but to go where my heart takes me.

ox eye daisy
Ox Eye Daisy

So. I sob on. The latest line, from SISTERS, to set me off was: In the midst of great loss, the newness of a baby helps.

Floods.

Breathlessness.

I’m welling up just looking at the line now, overcome by all that it references.

Rhoddies. Crying while writing

Editing

This emotional aspect of writing is one of the many reasons good, thorough, even brutal, editing is so important. We, or at least I, need someone less attached, someone who did not write the words and scenes, to look at the work objectively and say: this could be better, this is not clear, were you under the influence of one of your stronger prescription drugs when you wrote this? Because in our, or my, invested blubbering state, we might not see it. We might not know.

The book is on its way back for edit three soon (GWL did spoil me with their three editing process, and I won’t do less now), so all is well there.

It is possible that illness is making me worse, crying-wise. I feel a bit pathetic and vulnerable. But that will pass. I will get stronger again. And you’ll get nice sensible and scenic posts about castles and standing stones 🙂

But for now, I recover – from both medical conditions and writing – in the garden. Among the flowers. With a candle.

crying while writing, a candle outside
Lovely soothing candle from Tilly’s Candle Shop… sniff…

Giveaway

On a happier note, one that doesn’t make me cry anyway: I’m doing a signed book giveaway over on Instagram. See it here. It runs all week (June 19th- 26th 2022) with one of each book up for grabs and it’s a worldwide competition.

book giveaway

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

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

feet

About page updated

Just Some Spring Flowers

spring flowers - crocus in the garden
In the garden

It’s good to see the spring flowers. And the sunshine. As illness recedes a little along with the winter.

SISTERS

Ethereal and spellbinding

Romans + Celts = some rather complicated romance!

Set in 1st century Scotland, the novel features a neurodivergent main character, chosen sisters, fierce warriors and the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

    Newsletter

    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.

    My About Page

    castle roof

    Read my bio and see all the social links and articles here.

    Writer’s Tip Jar

    Light at the End of the Year

    light at the end of the year

    It’s getting brighter. I feel it already. Or maybe I only think I can. For how much lighter can it really be, so few days after the Solstice?

    It’s quiet too, in this between time, during this lull of activity in the world.

    I notice things that I wouldn’t normally notice. Below is the part of SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD that has been most highlighted by kindle readers.

    We are all that big. And we all change the world every day as we go about making choices, taking action, sitting still and most of all: by adding more love into the places around us.

    That’s what I want in 2023. More love in the world. More happiness. More peace.

    A Happy New Year to you all, when it comes!

    Happy New Year!

    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 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 features Christmas in Colonial Pennsylvania.

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

    Amazon UK

    Amazon Worldwide

    Signed copies from me

    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.

    Writer’s Tip Jar