#18 – Novel Update – Scotland

Last year when I went to Scotland, Boris Johnson got fired as Prime Minister, Donald Trump’s house got raided by the FBI, and there was a heat wave. This year when I went to Scotland, Boris Johnson had to quit parliament entirely, Donald Trump got indicted for stealing classified documents, and there was a heat wave. You’re welcome.

With the first manuscript (To Rescue A Witch) done (I’m still shopping for an agent), it’s time to work on book 2 (To Raise a Witch), which bounces between the different MacLeod clans on the Isles of Skye and Raasay. The problem is that I’ve never been to those islands. So I took a research trip with my family. (Note – My husband, Henri, said, “Can’t you just write a story set in Texas?” But where’s the fun in that?)

Touring Scotland

Fun fact: The sun barely set on Skye! It rose around 4:30 a.m. and didn’t set until around 11 p.m., which made us very confused tourists. But it allowed us the opportunity to go to places late at night and avoid crowds. Kudos to our fantastic tour guide, Anne Daly of Mary’s Meanders, who took us every place a novelist would want to visit.

On the road to the highlands, we listened to a bagpiper in Edinburgh…visited Eilean Donan Castle…

Posing with my family

and saw the monument to Bonnie Prince Charlie on the spot where his ship from France landed on the shores of Loch Shiel and he raised his standard asking the Highland Clans to fight for him.


MacLeods: Skye vs. Raasay

The Isles of Skye and Raasay are islands in the Inner Hebrides to the west of mainland Scotland. My second novel takes place in 1740’s just prior to the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 and book 3 (Damned Rebel Witches) is set during the uprising. I chose to make my protagonist from Clan MacLeod because the MacLeods on Raasay were Jacobite rebels and the MacLeods on Skye sided with the government (King George II). This sets up my characters for some very interesting dinner conversations.

We stayed at Raasay House, which was the house of the MacLeod clan chief. After the rebellion in 1745, the house was burned to the ground by government troops. (It sucks being on the losing side of a rebellion.) It was rebuilt in 1746. To be able to stay at the place your novel is set is pretty amazing!

Raasay House
Raasay House gardens

Then we travelled to the Isle of Skye, which is way bigger than I thought it would be. We visited Dunvegan Castle (800 year old seat of Clan MacLeod)…

Dunvegan Castle

the Fairy Pools…

Fairy Pools

and the Museum of Island People to see how crofters lived.

Croft house

We also hiked the Old Man of Storr…

Old Man of Storr

pet some hairy coos (aka cows) and, of course, drank whiskey.

Hairy coo

If you are writing a novel and have the time/funds to travel to your locations, definitely take that opportunity. You can learn a lot by watching YouTube videos and reading books, but there’s something special about walking over the hills your characters would have walked and seeing the homes where they would have lived. It also gives you the chance to taste foods local to the region and learn details you might not have realized (like the fact that during the summer in the Scottish Highlands you can expect 18 hours of daylight and in winter you can only expect six hours of sunshine – even less if you live in a spot where the sun never rises over the mountain. Yikes!)

Books I’m reading

These are the stacks of books I’m diving into this month from my trip. I also took literally hundreds of pictures at the various museums we visited I’ll be pouring through as well.

Elusive Writing Goal

I had hoped to pull a NaNoWriMo and write the entire manuscript (first draft at least) for book 2 in May, but then I had eye surgery and I’ve had complications. Basically my immune system is being an overachiever and is rejecting the inserted lenses, so I have to go back mid-July to correct it. In the meantime I can see buy I’m hyper-sensitive to light, so I have to wear sunglasses inside and can’t be on a computer for more than an hour or two without feeling pain. This makes writing a novel challenging. My new goal is to write book 2 in August. Wish me luck!

Hope you are doing well with your own creative pursuits 🙂



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