Monday, August 30, 2010

Dunskey Castle

Atop an exposed, rocky point on the west coast of the Rhinns of Galloway stands grim Dunskey Castle. The treacherous waters of the North Channel roar below. Across the North Channel, the low hills of Antrim in Northern Ireland can be faintly seen.

The stronghold has a history as wild as this desolate spot. In 1489, the murderous McCullochs of Cardoness descended upon this place, plundering and burning it as vengeance for the murder of their kinsman by the Laird of Dunskey, William Adair.

As a result of this devastation, the Adairs built a new castle on the site. The oldest part of the present ruin dates to the early 16th century. It was later added to and re planned by Hugh Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery, Laird of Dunsky until his death in 1636. By 1684, the castle was declared 'ruinous.'

I don't know. It looks too cold and desolate for this writer's tastes. Besides, I'm sure there's a wee ghostie or two! Mmm... this could be inspiration for the next manuscript  ;)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Men in Kilts

What could be better than writing about Scottish men in kilts? How about watching Scottish men in kilts?
I had the pleasure of attending the Foxburg Scottish Festival two weeks ago. The weather was steamy, but it could have been the men in kilts ;)

We started the event by sauntering through Clan Row. At the gate, the attendants presented Scotland passports to my kids with all of the clan names that were in attendance. Each clan had a tent set up with historical facts about their individual clan. When you present the passport at each clan tent, they stamp their crest badge into the passport. We had the pleasure of meeting Clan Donald, Clan Montgomery, Clan Campbell, Clan Oliphant, Clan Hay, Clan Stewart, Clan MacKenzie and St. Andrew's Society.

I was extremely pleased they had Clan Campbell and Clan Montgomery in attendance since they both play a part in Highland Savior.

My daughter pokes me and chuckles. "Do you think we should tell the bloody Campbells they are the bad guys in your book?"

For some reason, I did not think they would appreciate the humor. We refrained and kept our Campbell jesting to ourselves. Donna worry. There werenae battles with the verbal sword.  

We proceeded to the Highland games where verra strong men showed off their prowess in the caber toss. Aye, every mon was donned in a kilt! Boy, it was sure H-O-T that day!

 There were several events occurring at one time and we could not get to them all. We had the pleasure of listening to a lone bagpiper. In addition, the festival had a piper band.

Underneath the Scotland flag, a man narrated some of Scotland's history, but the kids got too bored and we walked away as he was speaking about Highland hospitality.

Meandering over to the Scottish tents, my wallet was smoking! Clan jackets, sweaters, tartans, kilts, kilt pins, flashes, scarves, sweatshirts, swords, daggers, sporrans, key chains, stickers... everything simply Scotland. I may have found a few things :)

As I was looking through the tartans, a man approaches his wife and says, "You know? I don't see anything MacGregor."

Needless to say, my daughter and I overhear the conversation and perk up. MacGregor? Wow! We've almost covered everyone in Highland Savior! We exchange a bemused look and smile--well, until the wife replied.  

"Of course there is nothing MacGregor," she spat. "They are nothing but a bunch of murdering thieves." Her nose crinkled up, the words like venom upon her tongue.

My daughter's mouth drops open. "Hey! Did you hear that?"

My eyes shot up. "Yes! Shh... She may stab ye with a dirk! I guess this isnae the place to be a fan of the MacGregor, my wee one."

And that's why the MacGregor's are the heroes in my manuscript. How would you like to be stripped of your name and hunted like dogs just for having the name MacGregor? Off my soap box, but I would have never believed that if I didn't hear it for myself. Geehz! What century was that?

Recovering from the MacGregor hater, I attended a Scottish Gaelic lesson. I am happy to report that my pronunciation was in tact and I was actually able to respond to the instructor with simple greetings and replies. When the kids wanted to go and see the horses, I told them to speak in Gaelic. The guy next to me was quite surprised when my kids replied in unison, "Mar sin leibh an dràsda." Goodbye for now.

On that note, I will leave you with this thought. Beware of spoken words that pass yer lips. Fer ye may ne'er ken who is on the other end to hear them.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Little Red Dress and a Whisper of Encouragement

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I would complete a romance manuscript. I have literally placed almost two years of my life devoted to this project. Sitting back, I sigh. I actually did it. Frankly, that was the easy part compared to now. I'm prepping for the Golden Heart and I will be actively pitching and querying soon. This has been quite an adventure.

When I started writing Highland Savior, I just wanted to get my ideas down. I wasn't even sure this was going to go anywhere. I was probably 1/4 of the way through my manuscript when I joined Romance Writers of America.  Through their wealth of information and on-line courses through my Chapters, I realized something very quickly. Boy, have I got a lot to learn!

Between first lines, beginning and ending hooks, goals, motivation, conflict, character development, pacing, synopsis writing, etc. it's enough to make a sane person crazy. After several edits, rewrites and hard work, it's done!

Frankly, I could have never done this without the support of many people. My husband has made endless dinners while I'm writing or editing. The kids know when 'Mommy is editing.' My CP, Mary Grace, for her unwavering faith in me and the strength to tell me when something really sucks or I wrote something really great.  Beth, my third set of eyes and now lover of everything Scotland--well, men in kilts ;) My late-night panic calls to L. Shannon for some last-minute advice, knowing that night-owl is up all hours of the night working on her next series or twisted plot. 

Whether it was Sabrina Jeffries giving me pointers on back story drop or Hannah Howell giving me advice on synopsis hell, I mean writing ;) , I cannot stress enough how important it is to have support. 

Some of my fellow Chapter members were mentioning that I should now be attending writing conferences and I have to admit, I was a little nervous about taking that next step. Now that I have one m/s under my belt, I need to do this. And just so I don't get cold feet and back out, I already booked my flight for Nationals next year in New York City.

I received a card the other day (pic at the top) from one of my friends and I really need to share her words. Whenever I feel the nervousness settle in or wonder for the millionth time why I'm doing this, I will pull out this card to refresh my memory. I am a romance writer!

* * *

Dear Vicki,

Red is the sign of self-confidence and success.

This is your gown for the formal you will have to wear in New York--the big reward for all the hard work and two years of everything in your heart and soul on paper to be read by millions of people. The satisfaction that people like me will be taken back to a different time, a romance we had or wanted.

The struggle, the passion that will take us with the characters to the ending. Where we will feel (with a sigh and a smile) the warmth of brighter futures, our feelings of love and dreams fulfilled.

Good luck. I will be praying for you.



*happy sigh*

Monday, August 9, 2010

Vanity License Plates

RAINSUXS displayed on the license plate of the little red convertible that sped by me. Wow! I thought that was so cute. I never really paid attention to vanity license plates because half of the time I could not figure out what they were trying to say. If it took me more than 5 seconds, forget it!

Recently, I started paying attention to license plates and to my surprise, there are a lot of vanity plates out there. I personally never had one because I have to admit that I'd probably never think of anything that creative.

For the past two weeks, I've been on a mission. Every creative vanity plate that I saw, I wrote down and thought to share. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.

LOOKOUT/Muscle car
NTMYDADS/Muscle car
SS MINT/Muscle car
KOOOL/Muscle car
68SH3LBY/68 Shelby
TRIC 55/55 Chevy
55 CHEVY/55 Chevy

Do you have a vanity license plate or have you seen anything creative?