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

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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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A Winter Wonderland, Stones and a Monster

winter wonderland

A beautiful winter wonderland. Sparkling. Fresh. Perfect.

And then there’s the monster. Me. Again. Yes, I have succumbed to some of my old monstrous ways. But it’s not as bad as before. I’m not in hospital this time. I’m in a winter wonderland!

trees fall in a winter wonderland

Storm Arwen pulled down some of our old pines and left us with no electricity for a couple of days. But we were cosy and well fed. We played board games and stoked the fire. We listened to audio books in the dark till the iPad ran out of power.

Before that, when I could feel the beginnings of monstrosity happening, I ran round doing things I knew I might not be able to do for long. I bought festive food in the shops. I visited Berrybrae Stone Circle.

The trees around the circle looked dark and forbidding.

trees at Berrybrae

I found it hard to climb up onto the wee wall around it with my gammy leg. But I made it…

Berrybrae Stone Circle

It was still autumnal then. Unlike now.

autumn at Berrybrae Recumbent Stone Circle

The Historical Novel Society published a very nice review of FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE here which cheered me up.

Quote:

Like Elizabeth wrapped in a plaid, savor the pages of Fireflies and Chocolate and wait for that “bonny” feeling, “I’ve come home.”

Dorothy, the reviewer, also put the review up on her website here with some lovely Scottish photos.

So, for now, I’m content to read blogs and reviews and take short hobbles through the beautiful snow, feeling glad to be able to return to electricity and the cosy fire… and maybe even a bit of writing.

pink bench in a winter wonderland

Aberdeen’s 1597 witchcraft panic (mermaid) and 18th century kidnappings (fireflies) combine with love and hope in THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR & FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE. Christmas features in both books !

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Waterstones

books by Ailish Sinclair

Hunkering Down in the Writing Cave

loch: a walk away from the writing cave

The Writing Cave

The loch continues to inspire awe with its reflected beauty. But the writing cave has me now. I don’t want to leave it. I want to write and write and write. Even when my brain is too tired to do it well anymore, that’s where I want to be.

It’s all the fault of TENDU. This intense and obsessive behavior always happens when I’m working on it. But I’m nearly there now. I’m on the last pages of the final edit. It’ll be off to the proofreader soon. And then I’ll be diving into the second book in the series, CABRIOLE. I suspect it’s going to have the same effect. I can already feel the emotional pull of the first chapters.

Remnants of Autumn

beech tree in its autumn garb. From the writing cave.

There are still some wonderful autumn colours around, in places that are sheltered from the frost. I stare at their brilliance before rushing back home. To the cave. That last sex scene is not going to rewrite itself… These are somewhat naughtier books than my others.

I intend getting all three titles ready and rapid releasing them next year, a month apart. So, the schedule of the writing cave is all set for winter.

Book Recommendations

Terry Tyler, a writer I really admire, has named SISTERS as one of her three book recommendations of 2022 over on the damppebbles book blog. “I loved this book because it so cleverly shows us a picture of life in the times of the Roman Conquest…” See the whole write-up and the other recommended books here.

Mastodon

I’m over on Mastodon here. So far, it seems quite nice. Rather like Twitter was years ago with people sharing interesting things and chatting. No algorithm. Less drama.

A Deer

There was a deer in the frosty field this morning. It’s to the far left of the picture and is small and blurred. You might be able to see it if you click to enlarge.

frosty field near the writing cave

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.

What she does next constitutes a huge betrayal of her people, threatening her closest relationships and even her way of life itself.

Paperback, Kindle and on Kindle Unlimited:

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Set in 1st century Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD is a story of chosen sisters, fierce warriors, divided loyalties and love.

SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD by Ailish Sinclair

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Share Those First Lines with Me!

First lines of books. "It was the best of times..." Quote from Charles Dickens

First lines. They’re important, right? I know they are. When I click on the ‘look inside’ facility on Amazon, I’m already judging the quality of the writing from those initial words.

Dickens

The full line from A Tale of Two Cities, quoted above, is actually much longer than just those first dramatic words. In full:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

It breaks a few modern writing rules, but I really like it 🙂

Show Me Your First Lines

The last sharing post I did was quite a success, with people buying and discussing the books. Feel free to add to it too if you like. These posts will be brought to the front of the blog every so often, and shared on social media now and again, so they won’t just vanish into oblivion.

But for today, here, let’s see those first lines. They can be lines from your published books, or works in progress, or from a book that you love. I think it would be fun to not say much more about the book other than the title and author. Feel free to add buy or information links too, though, so we can click through if we like what we read.

I’ll share the first line of THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR.

“The first time the sea killed me, my brother brought me back to life.”

Book info page

Amazon

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair

Your Turn!

I swear, I’m not a mermaid…

I'm not a mermaid...

Article

I’m not a mermaid, nor do I have a pet bear as is suggested in this article: 8 Strange things I saw while I was definitely not stalking Ailish Sinclair 😀

Calm

SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD has been out for three days now and I think it’s going quite well. I’m staying calm and mellow anyway…

Reviews

Review from Lizanne Lost in a Good Book: “This is a complex mystical tale of bloody conflict between two disparate civilisations, but also about sisterhood, romantic love and dramatic choices. Morragh is not like most of us. Her actions are instinctive and passionate, but her certainty is persuasive.” See the whole review here.

And here’s the book being read in France.

A wee flip-through on TikTik:

@ailishsinclair

Out today! Paperback & kindle on Amazon. 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. #historicalfiction #booktok #romance #ancientworld #neurodiversity

♬ original sound – Alisa
SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD with a misty mountain view

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

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

Fairytale Mushrooms and Staying Well

fairytale mushrooms, or fly agaric toadstools

I do like nice fairytale mushrooms, or fly agaric toadstools as those actually are. The woods here are full of them just now, and they’ll feature in my next newsletter.

Staying Well

I am still well. So I can walk among the mushrooms and crunch through the first fallen leaves of the season. Exactly two years ago today I was on my way to hospital again, so I’m very glad things are different now.

I have a new article that references that particular hospital stay over on Women Writers, Women’s Books: Doctors and Deadlines: Writing with Chronic Illness. It contains wellness tips that I hope will be helpful to everyone, not just those with chronic conditions. Here’s one of them:

“Sleep. Sleep well and long. Make yourself stop thinking about writing a while before bedtime. If you have a brilliant idea in the night, write it down and let it go. Do not lie there for hours going over every little nuance that you’re going to perfect the next day, and then cry for your characters because of what you’re about to put them through. You’ll be far better placed to do terrible things to them if you’re well rested.”

More Fairytale Mushrooms

More fairytale mushrooms.

And it’s not long now till the latest ‘terrible things I put my characters through‘ is published. One week today, in fact. (Out now!)

Stay calm. Breathe. Look at mushrooms.

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! Out in paperback and kindle, September 21st 2022.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

The Edge of the World

the edge of the world on Bennachie
Bennachie in Aberdeenshire

The Romans had a point. Parts of Scotland really do feel like the edge of the world.

Two Sisters…

Two Cultures…

Out now!

The Romans called it the Edge of the World.

Sisters released on the 21st of September 2022, in both paperback and kindle and on kindle unlimited.

I’m calmer this time. It doesn’t feel like quite such a great big worrying thing. And, as you can see, I’m having fun playing with imagery for marketing.

Normal blogging will resume shortly…

SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD with a misty mountain view
Background image also taken on Bennachie

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

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

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

More of my Books

books on pink

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

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the 18th century kidnapped children of Aberdeen and is set in both Scotland and Colonial Pennsylvania.

Paperbacks and kindle: Amazon UK or Amazon Worldwide

“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society

ballet novel, TENDU, by Ailish Sinclair

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 from the edge of the world!

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Rowan Berries on the Path

rowan berries on a woodland path

There were rowan berries on the path this morning in the woods. I take this to mean that it’s really autumn now. When the rowans are all shiny and new on the trees, you know that the end of summer approaches. There’s just the tiniest hint of the next season in the air.

rowan berries

But once they’re on the ground? Autumn. Autumn all the way.

Rowan Berry Jam

I recall a time when I used to make jam out of rowan berries. They are poisonous raw, but after a vigorous boiling with sugar, they’re edible, though rather bitter.

rowan berry jam

I liked the bitter sweet flavour. It was fruity and earthy and somehow tasted ancient. However, I was the only one. The rest of my family screwed up their faces at the bitterness. I no longer eat refined sugar, due to medical conditions, so my rowan jam making days are over. Nothing is wasted in nature though. The birds love those little waxy berries.

And I love autumn with its mix of misty mornings and hot sunny afternoons. It’s breezy and blustery here today. The air is warm, though it rained overnight. No need to water the pots. No need to light the fire. Rowan berries pop under my feet as I walk, and the trees grow more colourful every day.

Recent Reviews

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair

Sally Cronin featured a review of FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE on her wonderful Smorgasbord Bookshelf last week.

Elizabeth is gutsy, vulnerable, rash and caring, and her quick wittedness and bravery had me cheering her on from the sidelines. Like her, we are confronted by the harsh realities of life as a slave or indentured labourer and she experiences danger and brutality as she wades in to protect her new-found friends.

See the whole review here.

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

A review of THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR was included in the reading round up on the lovely Smelly Socks and Garden Peas blog.

“I really loved the rich variety this novel brought – it’s not all danger and torture, there’s peace and contentment, a feeling of having found one’s place, delight, fun, celebration and true happiness too. Each phase of Isobell’s experiences are brought to life, they’re evocative and have real depth. I’ll definitely be picking up Ailish’s other books in future too.”

See the review here.

Talking of those books in the future…

Well, one of them anyway.

That’s misty Bennachie in the background of the image below, and stones from Aikey Brae on the cover. Both places feature in the novel.

SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD with a misty mountain view

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, a neurodivergent main character, and some rather complicated romance.

Out now!

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

Quote from SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD

See all my books here on the site or on my Amazon author page.

Newsletter

Go here to sign up for the (roughly monthly) newsletter. It’s a more intimate space than the blog and always includes some exclusive photos.

Tip Jar

Iron Age, Jurassic, and Back to the Future

cave at Cullykhan: iron age fort nearby
Cave at Cullykhan

Iron Age

For this small time travelling post, we start at beautiful Cullykhan Bay, once the site of an Iron Age Fort. The fort features in SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, as does a slightly adjusted version of the cave above. The Iron Age is generally thought to have ended in 43 CE in Britain when the Romans arrived. That happened a little later up here. The book is set in 83 CE.

Back to the Future

And there’s now a release date, in the future, the 21st of September to be precise.

Edit: the book is out now!

Sisters at the Edge of the World by Ailish Sinclair set in the Iron Age

The Jurassic

I went looking for squirrels in Aden Park recently.

I found dinosaurs.

dinosaur
Behind a yew tree.

They were only there for three days.

dinosaur in a window
In the mansion house window.

The dinosaur explorer event was clearly aimed at children, but I had rather a lot of fun looking for the creatures.

Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park

And now, refreshed, I return to my desk and the Iron Age, where I’m very happy to be.

Out now!

new novel from Ailish Sinclair set in the Iron Age
ballet novel, TENDU, by Ailish Sinclair

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.

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Share Your Books and Writing with Me!

share your books with me

Share your books with me!

And any other writing, such as poems, blogs and excerpts from your work in progress. I want to see it. My readers want to see it. Show us those heartfelt creative efforts.

Share your books!
In local bookshop Better Read Books in Ellon

No-nos

There’s so many no-nos in the online world of writing today. Review swaps are against the terms and conditions of Amazon and other places. ‘Buy my book!’ DMs on social media are just annoying and unprofessional, and thankfully much rarer than they used to be. This week a writer (big 5 publisher, famous agent) posted a ‘buy my book’ comment on one of my Instagram posts. We don’t follow each other. The book had nothing to do with the subject of my post, so it seemed a bit desperate and, again, unprofessional. It did not make me want to buy the book; in fact, it was off-putting. An invasion of space even.

But it got me thinking about spaces where it is good to share, and here we have this post.

Share you books! Witchy books.
Witchy books…

Share Your Books!

There’s no no-nos here today. The comment section of this post is a free for all sharing space. Post your own work and peruse that of others too. You’re also welcome to add links 🙂

And talking of adding links, if you have a book and a blog, it’s a good idea to post some way to see those books in the posts. I’ve quite often been impressed with writing on a blog and looked for a mentioned book to no avail.

I have a Facebook group for sharing any books that have a Scottish connection. See it here.

I want to see your books and writing, people! So post away…

And, of course, here’s mine:

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!

“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.

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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