The First Frost of Winter

The first frost of winter brings blue skies and cirrus clouds

We’ve had the first frost, that seasonal reminder of what real cold actually is. Many of the trees are bare now and the skies are icy blue.

The first frost at the side of the track, Scotland

It does make for crisp, less muddy walks.

In the older post Walking the Witchy Ways of Aberdeen, I mentioned that I was called ‘weather obsessed’ in the Evening Standard. Recent writings here do suggest that might, in fact, be the case. I’ve certainly been waxing lyrical about autumn all over the blog.

But, you see, I often miss seasonal beauty due to medical condition flare-ups. I remember being sad about missing autumn last year. Seeing it through the windows was no substitute for marching through those crunchy leaves.

So, this year, I march. And I stop to appreciate the sparkle of that first frost.

Frosty morning, Scotland. First frost

Sisters at the Edge of the World

Romans + Celts = some rather complicated romance!

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

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

From recent reviews:

  • An extraordinary read.
  • A fabulous story.
  • Eye-opening, heartbreaking and beautiful.

Available in paperback, kindle and on Kindle Unlimited.

Sisters at the Edge of the World by Ailish Sinclair

Writer’s Tip Jar

A Swashbuckling Adventure Through Hospital Windows

St Nicolas Kirk through a hospital window

This hospital windows post was originally written in 2020. I am a lot better now.

Diagnosis and Drugs

The start of the post title is a bit of a lie. In fact it’s a total fabrication. There’s no derring-dos on the high seas recounted here. I do have crutches, so am a bit peg-legged and I like to think there’s an (imaginary) parrot on my shoulder. I have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, so my body has basically been trying to kill me. I’m now on medication to stop those efforts, but I have to be checked once a week in case the drug makes its own attempts to kill me. So there are elements of a thriller genre at work in my life.

Finding Beauty through Hospital Windows

During my month of cannulas, needles, tests and scary procedures I sought beauty where I could find it. Through the hospital windows. I woke the first morning to a beautiful pink sunrise and a rather wonderful view of St Nicholas Kirk steeple, the church that features in THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR. Despite the fact that I wrote of truly terrible events involving that steeple, I found it somewhat comforting to see it there. I felt a connection to the place. It lit up in the evening sun too.

hospital windows

Strange Covid Times

But I was soon moved. This was something that was being done due to Covid. Constant rearranging of patients between wards. Decisions made by ‘bed managers’, not medics. It didn’t make any sense to me, and the medical staff were pretty unimpressed by it too.

However, it meant that I got to see through many different windows. This next ward – oncology – had the worst view, just a small box of buildings, but the best bed. Air mattresses are magical things. Lying in them is a little bit like being hugged as they inflate and deflate to maximise your comfort.

hospital windows 2

I was soon off to sparkling chimney sunrises and sunsets.

shiny chimneys through the hospital windows
chimneys

The Party Room

Then, finally, the last of the hospital windows. At first I was quite annoyed about this move. Diagnosed and treated, just awaiting final tests, I was shunted away to what felt like a far flung area of the hospital, and I no longer had my own room. I posted a somewhat morose quote from Lord of the Rings about the sunrise that morning on Instagram.

red sky

But, it really worked out very well. The other three ladies I was with were lovely. There was kindness and understanding between us all and we shared frequent laughing conversations, our room being referred to as the party room by the nurses.

And it had a swashbuckling sea view… just.

sea view from the hospital window

Review

While I was in hospital, a rather wonderful review went up on The Rose and the Thistle blog. Reading the opening line cheered me up instantly! “Before I go any further, I just have to say, this is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. Yes, it is written in one of my favorite time periods, and yes it takes place in one of my favorite places in all the world, but when you combine that with the almost poetic style of Sinclair’s writing—sigh!” See the whole review here.

Mermaid on Amazon

I later wrote an article on living with chronic illness

Doctors and Deadlines: Writing with Chronic Illness on Women Writers, Women’s Books. 

My Latest Novel

Bullet points about SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD

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.

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

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Read the article Aberdeenshire in Roman times takes centre stage in author’s latest book from AberdeenLive.

ballet novel, TENDU, by Ailish Sinclair

See my About Page here

Newsletter

Come through the castle door to sign up to my occasional emails for exclusive photos and news of my writing and life. It’s a more intimate space than the blog.

castle door

Writer’s Tip Jar

On Monsters: being one, writing one…

witch, not quite a monster
Arriving at a Halloween party in the past…

This monster post was originally posted in 2020. Happily, I am less monstrous now.

Being a Monster

I don’t need a Halloween costume this year. I already look like a monster. The medication I’m on to stop my body killing me (condition lamented here) has made my face swell up. Like a moon. It is a well documented side effect actually referred to as ‘moonface’. The same drug is also causing insomnia so I have massive eye bags that extend to what feels like halfway down my face. There’s quite a lot of bandage action across my body too, which adds an air of mummification fun to the whole ensemble.

I’m also pale. Pale like a ghost.

Ghost, a monster?

A Historical Monster

However, being a monster on the outside, in appearance, is nothing to being truly monstrous. While researching witch-hunting in preparation for writing THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, I wanted to find a real monster, a person so enthused for the brutal activity that they could become a focal point for that dark energy in the story. History did not give him up easily. There was no obvious individual in the court documents or confessions. But I hunted him down and finally cornered the rogue in the financial accounts of Aberdeen.

In September 1597 William Dunn, Dean of Guild, was awarded, £47 3s 4d (the equivalent of £6000 in today’s money) for taking ‘extraordinary pains in the burning of a great number of witches’. It was unusual for someone to be given a large lump sum like this. With the exception of some witch prickers and those who sought to escheat their rich relatives, money was not commonly a motivating factor in the witch trials. William Dunn’s job was being in charge of the public money of the town, so he basically gave the cash to himself. I found you Sir, and I made you smell of rotten fish! If you read the historical notes section of the book, you’ll see that I’ve also cast him as the devil.

mummification fun
Bandage action!

So now I’m editing FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE and, 150 years later, there is brief mention of the Dean of Guild again. It does seem to be a role associated with making money from the suffering of others, at least, historically, in Aberdeen.

Mermaid Review

The Mermaid and the Bear cover

There’s a review I forgot to mention earlier, being rather distracted by the task of becoming a monster. It’s from Undiscovered Scotland: “The Mermaid and the Bear is a delight from end to end. There is a superb level of description in the book, that transports the reader back to the sights, sounds and smells of 16th Century life in a Scottish castle.” See the whole review here.

A spooky wee quote for this spooky old season:

dungeon quote from THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR

Chosen Sisters, Romans and Romance

Sisters at the Edge of the World cover

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

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

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

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

ballet feet of Ailish Sinclair

See my About Page

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

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 neurodiverse main character and some rather complicated romance! Out in paperback and kindle, September 21st 2022.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Holiday in a Day: Aberdeenshire and Moray Coast

a holiday in a day: dolphin sculpture
holiday in a day: window by Portsoy Harbour
Window by Portsoy Harbour

I went out for the day. I ended up visiting so many places that it felt like having a whole holiday in a day. It’s been a really long time since I did this. There’s been wee local trips here and there since this latest bout of illness. But it’s been years, literally, since I’ve been out in this way. Other ill times and lockdowns all stopped play for me in this regard.

I didn’t know how far I’d get, so just took one small step of the journey at a time, sharing on Twitter and Instagram as I went.

Holiday in a Day: the Red Well

the Red Well

First was the Red Well by Whitehills. I won’t write about it now as it features in SISTERS and deserves its own post (see that post here). It was beautiful though and provided a gentle start to the outing.

Portsoy Harbour

A little further up the coast, I came to the wonderfully scenic Portsoy Harbour, its window and dolphin sculpture also pictured above.

Holiday in a day: Portsoy Harbour

Speymouth Forest

The trip was going well, so on I went, and soon reached deep and dark Speymouth Forest.

Trees at Speymouth Forest

I didn’t walk far, but there was so much beauty to be seen everywhere in the old woodland.

holiday in a day: canopy of trees

Lots of little pathways.

pathway in the forest

Biblical Garden

On and on I travelled, still feeling good. I took a walk in the Biblical Garden at Elgin. This garden contains 110 plants that are mentioned in the bible. It’s an interesting and peaceful place to visit, maintained by the horticultural students of Moray College.

Samson:

Samson in the biblical garden

A rainbow:

Holiday in a Day: rainbow of flowers

Then the fear kicked in. Two competing fears actually. One that I might exhaust myself back into being ill, and the other that I might become ill again so should do as much as possible in one day.

I compromised by sitting quietly by the sea at Sandend for a while before heading home.

Holiday in a Day: Sandend
Note the jumping and boating people in the background!

TikTok

I made a short TikTok video of the day. I am new on there and really don’t know what I’m doing yet. Any advice welcome!

Writing Update

Sisters at the Edge of the World is out now.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

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

More 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.

Tip Jar

Cairnbulg and Inverallochy: Come Awa In!

Cairnbulg: come awa in!
Come away in!

I took a wee trip to Cairnbulg. And also Inverallochy, as the two fishing villages are joined together. I drove myself, a major milestone in the healing process (see posts about illness here and here).

Cairnbulg Library

The library had some lovely signs up, written in the Doric, the Scots language as spoken in the northeast of Scotland. They were fairly simple, but I will translate under the pictures.

Cairnbulg library in Aberdeenshire, Scotland
The Counter

My favourite was the one that separated the adult books from the junior section.

Cairnbulg library
Big folks books

There’s a vaguely Pictish feel to the statue outside the library.

Statue outside Cairnbulg Library.
Statue outside Cairnbulg Library

The Beach

After perusing the books and signs, I drove down to the beach.

Cairnbulg: washing lines
Communal washing line

I had forgotten how beautiful the rugged and rocky nature of the coast at the bottom of the village was.

beach
Beach

I just had to walk down onto the beach. Another ‘blue mind‘ moment!

Rocks at Cairnbulg
Rocks at Cairnbulg beach

Memorial

The memorial below commemorates all those who have been lost at sea from the community.

Memorial at Cairnbulg

Haste Ye Back!

And lastly, probably needing no translation, but I will anyway, Haste Ye Back! To the blog as well as the library…

Haste You Back: return soon!

For more Doric sayings see the post Dancing Round Aberdeen in the Rain

My books, also available at the library!

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

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

Fireflies and Chocolate at the library!
Picture taken at Fraserburgh Library, books on the just returned shelf.
ballet novel, TENDU, by Ailish Sinclair

See my About Page here

Writer’s Tip Jar:

A Ballet Novel and a Tale of Publishing Woes

An aesthetic for TENDU, a ballet novel by Ailish Sinclair
Aesthetic for Tendu

The Ballet Novel

I am now editing my ballet novel, a dark contemporary romance, TENDU, having pulled it from the proverbial drawer where it’s been for the last three years.

I’m LOVING it. I’d forgotten quite how much FUN this book this. 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 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.

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 always on the ball), 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.

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.

My Books

Sisters at the Edge of the World cover

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

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

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

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

Taking place mainly in a 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

Review from the Historical Novel Society

Ailish Sinclair stares out to sea

My About Page

Writer’s Tip Jar

Fraserburgh Beach: a good place for #bluemind

Fraserburgh Beach

Fraserburgh beach in Aberdeenshire is sandy and golden and beautiful. It’s usually pretty deserted, especially early in the morning, and I love it.

I’m still very taken with the concept of blue mind (see last post on it here) and have decided to take every opportunity to experience it.

So, here I am.

Fraserburgh beach

Beside the ocean.

The tide is in today, so I only have to take a few steps to be right by the water. Sometimes the North Sea is far far away in Fraserburgh bay.

But this gentle morning, I just sit on a pink granite block and breathe it all in. The sun. The lapping waves. And the blue… the glorious blue.

Fraserburgh beach

Fraserburgh beach also features in these posts:

My Books

books by Ailish Sinclair

Romans + Celts = some rather complicated romance in SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD.

Set in an Aberdeenshire castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR features the Scottish witchcraft accusations 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 and on Kindle UnlimitedAmazon UK or Amazon Worldwide

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

peering through the grasses to the sea

Go here to sign up for my occasional emails that always include some exclusive photos and news of my writing and life.

See my About Page

Blue Mind and Bare Feet on Pink Rocks

Blue MInd at New Aberdour Beach in Aberdeenshire

The term ‘blue mind’ describes the mild meditative state that we enter when in or close to natural bodies of water. It was coined by marine biologist Dr. Wallace J. Nichols. He wrote a book on the subject and did a Ted Talk too:

So ‘blue mind’ in mind, and encouraged by my wee trip to Rosehearty Harbour last week, I ventured out again. Travelling slightly further this time, I arrived at New Aberdour beach where everything was blue, blue, blue…

blue mind over the rockpools

Blue Mind to Pink Rocks

Feet bare, I sat on the pink rocks and stared out to sea.

blue mind, bare feet and pink rocks

I saw stones and pools and pink, lots of pink everywhere.

I used the transition from blue to pink in this post to symbolise levels of pain.

stones in a rock pool crevice

But in this context, the blue of ‘blue mind’ was not pain. It was perfect.

So I stared out over the rock pools.

And breathed in the blue of the sea.

blue mind and rockpools

And, hopefully, now, healing comes…

A coastal quote from SISTERS, my work in progress

I am just looking at the soft shapes of land, and the hard shapes of rock, as they drop away into the sea. No in-between places up on top here. No beach, no marsh. Here the space between life and death is painted clear. You could be walking on grass one moment and dead on the rocks the next. This is a place of instant transition from one state to another.

The Published Books on the pink bench…

books on pink

Set in an Aberdeenshire castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR features the Scottish witchcraft accusations 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 Editor’s Pick

Newsletters

Sign up to my mailing list for exclusive photos and personal insights into my writing and life.

blue mind

There’s more Blue Mind photos in the older post Going Coastal

Writer’s Tip Jar

Rosehearty Harbour: tiny blog, tiny outing…

Rosehearty Harbour in Aberdeenshire

Rosehearty harbour, pretty with pink thrift growing in the foreground.

So, I’m out.

In the car.

Whizzing through the countryside.

Seeing things that are not my garden, not my house: ripening crops, winding roads, people, tractors, dogs…

I’ve moved on from the small blue ball I was before. In my excitement to be out, I overestimate the level of moving on that has occurred. Going into a shop turns out to be a mistake that leads to pain and shaking and a slow hobbling retreat.

But sitting by Rosehearty harbour, on a bench, in the sun, is perfect.

It’s progress, and it’s good.

Rosehearty Harbour

Read more about the harbour at Rosehearty, one of the oldest seaports in Scotland, here.

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 neurodiverse main character and some rather complicated romance!

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

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

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

Taking place mainly in a 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

Newsletter

Go here to sign up for my occasional emails that always include exclusive photos and news of my writing and life.

Writer’s Tip Jar

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