Strichen Lake in Aberdeenshire

Strichen Lake

Today we have beautiful Strichen lake for my wee road to winter journey or blog series as it has become. And yes, it is called a lake, not a loch, which is a little unusual for up here.

Reflections in Strichen Lake

Reflections on the lake.

Swans on Strichen Lake

The swans make it a little balletic. For me, anyway.

The Strichen Community Park Facebook Page always has lots of seasonal photos and news about the park and lake.

Tendu is out, and Cabriole is almost here (November 24th)!

The first two titles of A Dancer's Journey

And the third title, Fouetté, releases in December. Phew! These aren’t just the naughtiest books I’ve ever written, they’re the longest, being about 50% longer than my historical titles.

I’m trying to keep up with the reviews that keep popping up in unexpected places. Mick_the_knife had this to say on Threads: “My Kindle is fully charged and waiting to welcome Cabriole with open arms. Tendu was a romp and a roller coaster and it possibly contributed to my sleep deprivation for a couple of weeks!”

A Dancer's Journey by Ailish Sinclair

They’re in paperback too. Nice big chunks of books.

Series page here on the site

On Amazon

Series on Goodreads

TENDU: 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…

And then on into CABRIOLE: After a traumatic year at the castle, Amalphia Treadwell travels back to London to start her professional life, putting dark and difficult things firmly behind her. Or so she believes…

Cabriole by Ailish Sincalir
Cabriole: Dancing in the City

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dancer
And that’s a tendu…

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Writer’s Tip Jar

The Road to Winter

road to winter

We’re firmly on that road to winter now. There’s been no frost or snow, but it’s coming.

I went out. Briefly. I took some pictures. Quickly. My current illness/medication situation is still preventing sleep and making me a bit hyperactive, and I thought I might attempt some daily blogging this week. So, there will be some seasonal Scottish photos being shared over the next few days.

First Review of Cabriole

Cabriole by Ailish Sinclair

Cabriole, the second book in the Dancer’s Journey series, is out now. This is the notorious one, the one that a publisher wanted me to change. To be fair, they did assure me that it wasn’t because they were bigoted or prudish, but because it had to have set tropes to fit their romance line. But still, I have wondered how people would react to this more unusual story.

From emmalolly13 on TikTok: “This series has a special place in my heart… I feel so blessed to continue reading Amalphia’s story… Her journey with love has been rough… this is such a soul-touching series.

Series page here on the site

Series page on Amazon

the road to winter through autumnal trees

See you a little further down the road to winter soon!

Newsletter, Updates and ARCs

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Ailish in the stones

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Brightness in the Gloaming

bright yellow leaves in the gloaming.

The gloaming. Twilight. The sun is currently setting early here in Scotland. People are saying: “Aye, the nights are fairly drawing in…”

There’s been no frost yet, so brightness still exists within the gloom, or the gloaming.

autumn leaves in the gloaming

How it feels when I stagger out into the forest after several hours of writing in front of a screen:

But, for now, this morning, I’m off back into the manuscript of the moment. I’m working on the first title in the next book series, Castle Dancers. It begins ten years after TENDU – each book has a different main character – and the story starts like this:

Fun times!

TENDU: Dancing in the Castle

TENDU: Dancing in the Castle by Ailish Sinclair

Dance, danger and desire collide in TENDU, a seductive tale set in the mystical landscape of Scotland. Will love conquer all?

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

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

“You will cry, you will laugh, at one point you may even clutch your pearls…” Goodreads review

About Page

ballet shoes on a standing stone

See my About Page here

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A Frozen Loch

frozen loch with a sturdy pink and cream cloud above
Frozen loch

I’m up early to light the fire so that the room warms up a bit before writing.

I’m still cold. And still moaning about the temperature (-9 yesterday, -3 today, so slightly better).

But beauty cannot be ignored.

A Fictional Frozen Loch

In SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, Morragh uses the pink of a frozen pool to calm herself.

Excerpt

“I stop now to properly observe and feel the gentle pink shade of the water. I try to breathe it in, to let it take me. All calm. All calm. But pink is not what I sense in the dwelling beyond the water. There’s no calm to be found there at all.”

About SISTERS

Collage of pictures and words about Sisters at the Edge of the World by Ailish Sinclair. Two sisters, two cultures, one love, one war. Frozen loch.

Having explored 16th century witch trials in THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR and 18th century child kidnappings in FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE, author Ailish Sinclair has now travelled far back in time to the Iron Age and the Roman invasion of Scotland.

From the provocative opening scene to the later dramatic and devastating events of the story, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD is a book that will continually surprise, delight, and sometimes shock the reader. The novel features the beautiful hill of Bennachie, and the stone circles of Aberdeenshire, along with the cliffs and caves of Cullykhan Bay.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“Ethereal and spellbinding…” Historical Novel Society Review

The Latest Books

A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair

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.

She’s soon dealing with her boyfriend’s obsessive ex, the strange research taking place at the castle school and her own ever-evolving relationship issues.

Amalphia works hard to be the best dancer she can be, but as tension builds within the old walls of the castle, she begins to wonder if she will ever escape the dank dark of the dungeon…

Dark, witty, sexy and fun, Tendu is a compelling and seductive story of love, dance and obsession.

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

Series on Goodreads

A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair

About Page

Ailish Sinclair

See my About Page

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

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.

Historical Fiction

Novels by Ailish Sinclair

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

The Latest Books

A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair

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.

She’s soon dealing with her boyfriend’s obsessive ex, the strange research taking place at the castle school and her own ever-evolving relationship issues.

Amalphia works hard to be the best dancer she can be, but as tension builds within the old walls of the castle, she begins to wonder if she will ever escape the dank dark of the dungeon…

Dark, witty, sexy and fun, Tendu is a compelling and seductive story of unconventional love, dance and obsession.

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

Series on Goodreads

A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair

About Page

Ailish Sinclair

See my About Page

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

Ballet Terms and Crashing Waves

crashing waves and ballet terms

Below is a post from this time last year when I was wrestling with those tricksy ballet terms. TENDU is finally out, the release of the more notorious title draws near, and I’m busy with the next series. So, despite autoimmunity being flared, I’m happy.

Cabriole by Ailish Sinclair, ballet terms
Notoriety included… out November 24th

Writing Ballet Terms: October 2022

I took a little walk on St Combs beach. It was beautiful and blustery and entirely free from ballet terms. I needed to get away from them for a bit. There’s too many in TENDU, and in the current edit, I am removing, changing or explaining them so as not to confuse the reader. It’s not the most fun. It feels a little like dumbing down, though I know it’s not really. I just have to be less technically specific, and more generally descriptive. I’d much rather be working on all the relationship nuances, but of course, I am doing that too.

The Beach

St Combs beach, crashing waves and ballet terms

It was great to just stand and stare across the ocean and breathe in all that fresh sea air.

blue skies and ballet terms

I made a little TikTok of the sea too, if you would like to hear the waves and see the movement.

Ballet Terms

So goodbye port de bras and grand jeté. Arabesque penchée, I have tried to save (describe) you:

We worked on arabesque penchée. Standing on one leg, the other high behind, fingertips almost touching the floor, the world seemed to stand still around me in a perfect moment of balance and extension.

But back to the beach. Away from the ballet terms. And breathe.

waves and ballet terms

More Posts with Dance Content

red leotard #ballet

TENDU: Dancing in the Castle

Tendu 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…

Dark, witty, steamy and fun, Tendu is a compelling and seductive story of love, dance and obsession.

Amazon UK

Amazon worldwide

Newsletter

Keep up to date with all my news by signing up to the mailing list. 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 Sinclair romps in the loch

My About Page

Writer’s Tip Jar

Aikey Brae: the North Wind Doth Blow

Aikey Brae Recumbent Stone Circle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Trees Felled at Aikey Brae

The dense block of pine trees that partially encircled the stones on Aikey Brae has been felled, leaving the site feeling like a windswept wasteland.

I knew it had happened but it was still a shock when I visited the circle at the weekend.

Originally posted 2020.

This was the first sighting of the stones after walking up the, admittedly, much improved and cleared, track:

Megalithic stones on the horizon

Gone is the path through the dark forest.

Gone is the experience of stepping out into the sunlight and the stones.

Traversing the, now rough, ground at the top of the hill, I got a bit closer, the taller uprights coming into better view.

Aikey Brae stone circle ahead!

Running to the circle

I ran the last bit of the way, wanting to be within the circle to get my bearings, so the place could feel like it used to. I sought views that would not have changed, having been open to the countryside all along.

Facing the great recumbent:

Recumbent stone at Aikey Brae

It still felt different. With no treeline at the side of my eye, everything seemed bright and glaring. I never fully appreciated just how much the trees sheltered the site before, till I was buffeted by wind at every turn. That shelter contributed to the calm feel of the place.

Now it feels stormy.

Stone at Aikey Brae

Cold.

The stone circle at Aikey Brae

Things Change

But I’m going to stop my complaining now. Because… well… things change. I’m sure the circle has looked like this many times during its 4000 year lifespan. Trees will have grown. People will have harvested them. Current thinking is that the surrounding land would have been tree-less when the circle was built.

Three prehistoric stones

And improvements have been made to the place. There’s a new path round the hill, boasting benches and a picnic table; a shiny new sign announces this upon arrival. I didn’t explore the path and the views it offers, still being a bit post-pneumonia feeble, but I will go back and walk it later in the year.

I’ve spent so much time at this stone circle, both physically and at my desk while writing, because though the circle in my books is fictional, it’s Aikey Brae it’s based on. The change will take time to settle. I need to notice the new beauty it brings. The light is different, I see that already. There are plans in place to plant indigenous trees; I will enjoy watching those grow large over the coming years.

And, no matter what changes we make around them, the stones still stand tall and majestic against the sky.

Two tall stones at Aikey Brae stone circle

Go here to view Aikey with the trees, and in the snow.

THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR has a new sexy review from Grumpytyke: “Not far into the second half it became pretty sexy! I didn’t expect that, not from the first half of the story nor from Ailish’s blog posts.” See the whole review here.

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair

My Books

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 neurodivergent 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 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, 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

feet

See my About Page here

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A Spooky and Serendipitous Week

spooky ballet picture and pumpkins

It always feels a little spooky at this time of year. The shops are full of monsters and items that have been ‘Halloweenified.’ The clocks go back an hour here in the UK, making the nights instantly much darker. I feel a little monstrous again, but I’m boring myself with that, so I won’t detail it here.

An Alternative Halloween Article

spooky article on witch burnings

Should we really have fun at Halloween when the north-east led the great execution of witches?

Excellent piece from @NeilDrysdale. I cite the case of Bessie Thom in the article, a woman who features in THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, as an example of what happened to one of the more than 3,000 victims of the witch trials.

“Bessie, quite possibly, went into the North Sea before being committed to the flames during a very public execution.”

Less Spooky, More Serendipitous

ballet dancers: spooky

The Wee Writing Lassie asked me this question on her blog last week (about TENDU): Amalphia’s story takes place in the beautiful and cutthroat world of professional ballet – what inspired the decision to set her story in that particular backdrop?

My answer: When I was first considering writing a contemporary romance, I was unsure exactly where to place it. Inspiration struck while I was lying in the bath contemplating the issue. I saw a line of dancers in my mind. They were at the barre performing ronde de jambe, a circular leg exercise, and I knew the ballet world would be the setting for the story. My own dance training and career provided many of the details, and everything grew from there.

The serendipity: the picture above is almost identical to the image that appeared in my mind thirteen years ago. It arrived in my house, totally unexpectedly, in beautiful wall-mounted form, the day before TENDU released. Some lovely people, who I don’t even know that well, thought I might like it. I can see it from my desk now. And it’s a wonderful reminder that, even though bad or spooky things happen in this world, magic happens too.

The Books of this Post

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair

Set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, Ailish Sinclair’s debut novel, 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.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

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…

Dark, witty, sexy and fun, Tendu is a compelling and seductive story of love, dance and obsession.

“I fell in love with the book from the first page, and the love affair continued to the end.” Review from Lena on Goodreads.

Amazon UK

Amazon worldwide

Newsletter

Keep up to date with all my news by signing up to the mailing list. 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 Sinclair goes into the woods

My About Page

Writer’s Tip Jar

The Publishing Journey of a Ballet Novel

An aesthetic for TENDU, a ballet novel by Ailish Sinclair

Below is a post that was originally written in February 2022 when I started working on my ballet novel TENDU again. It seems fitting to pull this to the front of the blog now as that novel is finally out!

See a recent review here: “Very atmospheric, I could feel what the characters were feeling, feel their pain, it broke my heart and then healed it and made it sing.”

And the Wee Writing Lassie’s 5th pretentious question for me can be seen here: “They deviated far away from my planned plot in CABRIOLE, the second book in the series. I have to admit that what they did has made the story more unusual and interesting. Writing it any other way, as one publisher tried to get me to do, proved utterly impossible.”

Back to the Ballet Novel in 2022

I am now editing TENDU, having pulled it from the proverbial drawer where it’s been for the last three years.

I’m absolutely LOVING it. I’d forgotten quite how much FUN this book is. It also feels as if I’m connecting to a different version of myself. Me before illness took hold. Me before doctors and medication and pain. It’s doing something to me, current day me. Something good. The book is funny and witty and SO, SO naughty. I am slightly concerned that no one will be able to look me in the face again after reading it. But, hey-ho, life’s too short to worry about things like that, and I intend releasing this novel and the rest of the series in the near future.

It’s had a tumultuous publishing journey, though. And I’m sharing that today.

pointe shoes, a ballet novel, TENDU, by Ailish Sinclair
Lovely Porselli Pointe Shoes

Publishers

I sent TENDU out into the world of publishers and quite a large one offered on it quickly. However, they wanted me to change something fundamental about the plot of the series (three titles) as a whole. And I couldn’t. Or, more correctly, I wouldn’t. I am always willing to make changes that will improve a book, but this was just to make it fit the guidelines of a particular romance line. It would have become formulaic. So, much to that publisher’s astonishment, I turned them down.

Note: You can find out what that notorious plot point was in CABRIOLE, out now.

Time went by.

MERMAID got accepted by a British publisher (not to be confused with the ones I’m writing about here. GWL are very organised), and then along came an offer from a small American press for TENDU. It came with amazingly generous royalties, and no big requested changes, and I accepted it.

And more time went by.

After 18 months (the time, according to the contract, by which the book should have been published) I emailed the publisher and asked when things might get going. There was no reply.

Writers Group

Into the writers group I went. This was an amazing resource. All the writers from that publisher, chatting together and, as it turned out, sharing the same tales of woe. Through the group I learned that the woman who owned the publishing house had become too ill to continue working, and she had sold the company. I had huge empathy for that. The new owner had a large backlog of books waiting to be published, and it was all taking a very long time. The slowness of publication didn’t really bother me. I was rather busy being ill, after all.

But then the stories began to change. Already published writers were not receiving royalties or statements. Cheques were bouncing. So, three years after signing the contract, I asked for my rights back. And I got them. Very politely. Very apologetically. So there are no hard feelings, and I’m not going to name the publisher. They are still going though…

ballet novel, TENDU, by Ailish Sinclair

And that’s where I am.

SISTERS is back with the editor. I’m working on a press release for it and delving deeply into TENDU. I’m loving being in the castle again, yes the same one from the other books. It’s a dance school in the modern day. I love the characters. I love the stone circle and the dancing and the chocolate and the London bits and the romance. And I love the story of this ballet novel, dark as it sometimes is.

And it all feels good.

A Dancer's Journey series by Ailish Sinclair

A Dancer’s Journey

Series on Amazon UK

Series on Amazon worldwide

Series on Goodreads

Page with blurbs and quotes

Diabolical reading

Newsletter

Keep up to date with all my news by signing up to the mailing list. 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.

Ailish Sinclair stares out to sea

My About Page

Writer’s Tip Jar

Daffodils in Snow, and History Lessons

A line of daffodils in snow
Daffodils in snow

Originally published April 2021.

At first I thought there was only a single line of daffodils in the snow. I stopped to take photos. Like I would do on any other day out. A day out just for fun. Not that there have been many of those lately.

I walked along the path and headed down the steps where I was met with this stunning bank of yellow.

Continue reading “Daffodils in Snow, and History Lessons”