Oh, to wander in the woods…

snowy woods in Scotland

Post from December 2019.

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!)

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.”

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!”

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The same path, though the other end and other direction, in the woods, in summer:

green woods

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 !

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books by Ailish Sinclair

Rocky Shores for Release Day

rocky shores at Broadsea

Originally posted October 2019.

We’ve moved North and round the corner from the golden sands of Fraserburgh beach, and arrived at the rocky shores of Broadsea and a beautiful rock pool, the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses in the background.

rocky shores and clouds

But the book is out! Released! That’s all that’s really on my mind today… though I can be momentarily distracted by shells:

shells

It’s a strange feeling this, like opening a window and letting something precious and secret fly away to where it can now be seen by anyone who wants to see it!

Broadsea house

That’s my favourite little house at Broadsea, right beside the rugged rocky coastline.

rocky shores

So… deep breath…

Set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, 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.

And it has a castle.

And a stone circle.

And medieval Christmas.

Out in paperback and Kindle NOW!

Universal links:

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Mermaid blurb

A Fairy Scene, an Opening, and an Article

fairy scence: toadstool and wood sorrel

I came across this rather lovely little scene in the woods on a rainy day last week. It made me think of fairies…

Yesterday Paragraph Planet revealed the opening of The Mermaid and the Bear on their site. It’s gone now, but I took a screenshot, below. It was while walking in the same woods pictured above that the first line of the book came to me.

the opening of The Mermaid and the Bear

Women Writers, Women[‘s] Books have published my article Researching Historical Fiction: Immersing Oneself in the Past in which you can read about me setting off smoke alarms and eating primroses (yes, really) in the name of research.

The Mermaid and the Bear cover

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The Mysterious Lang Stane of Aberdeen

Inscription on the Lang Stane
The Lang Stane, Aberdeen

The Lang Stane (long stone) of Aberdeen is situated close to busy and bustling Union Street. Many places in the city are named after this stone, but most people don’t know that it’s there. It’s hidden away on the corner of Langstane Place and Dee Street. The Music Hall can be seen in the background of the above photo.

Continue reading “The Mysterious Lang Stane of Aberdeen”

Woodpeckers, Windows and Small Business!

Three little woodpeckers. Fighting in a tree. That’s what I encountered on my daily walk today. Turn up the sound and you can hear them, along with a distant pheasant.

#AWindowOnScotland is a nice little tag on Twitter at the moment. Lots of lovely views from Scottish windows. Mine:

window, no woodpeckers

Talking of Twitter, and good things, I’m collaborating in a great initiative to help small businesses, especially ones that have fallen through the gaps of governmental help. I’ll be retweeting lots of wonderful products and services between 9-10pm GMT tomorrow, Friday 17th April on the tag #CelebsForSmallBiz (yes, that is Mrs Fitz from Outlander!)

celebsforsmallbiz

The Evening Express have published a wee article on the next book, Fireflies and Chocolate here.

Meanwhile, The Mermaid and the Bear sits among the primroses, flowers that I ate while researching medieval foods for it! See research article.

The Mermaid and the Bear in the primroses

Now free on Kindle Unlimited.  Also available in paperback. Book info page here.

Stay safe and well. Look after yourselves. For me, this involves sitting in the sun, eating chocolate and listening to those woodpeckers!

Historical Hot Chocolate and 75 Words

Historical Hot Chocolate... not quite.

That’s not historical hot chocolate there; it’s totally modern and topped with ice cream, and was rather delightful on a snowy day.

To see the historical version being made we have to go to one of the YouTube channels I used during the research and immersion phase of writing FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE.

Elizabeth, the main character, uses a slightly simpler method, back in the 18th century, in this quote from the book:

“I shave slivers of chocolate from the block and stir them into hot water over the fire. I add sugar and mix until it is all well blended. Then I pour it all into the pot with the warm milk and whisk and whisk until it’s frothy and perfect.”

Whatever century you’re in… yum!

The first 75 words of the novel are up on Paragraph Planet today. They’ll be gone at midnight so I took a wee screen shot:

Openeing of FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE by Ailish Sinclair

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE, inspired by the kidnapped children of Aberdeen, is out now, just in time for Easter weekend, in paperback and on kindle.

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Fireflies and Chocolate teaser
The Mermaid and the Bear cover

And not to be forgotten, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR: it blends the Scottish witchcraft accusations with a love story, and is out now:

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