Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Huge Thank You!

I'll be popping open the champagne tonight because of you guys. I just got the call from my agent that THE VIPER not only hit both the New York Times and USA Today Bestseller lists, but it's also going back to press already! So to all of you, for all your support, a very big cheers from me!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Viper is in Stores!

I'm so thrilled to finally be able to say The Viper: A Highland Guard Novel (B&N) is now available! If the reader mail I received about Lachlan is any indication, I know many of you have been looking forward to his story. I must admit that when I first conceived the Highland Guard series, his was the story I was most looking forward to writing. I knew it would take a special heroine to break through his very hard shell, and when I read about the Scottish heroine Bella MacDuff, I knew I'd found her. Bella's story is pretty amazing. Once you read the prologue, you'll know what I'm talking about.

I can't wait to hear what you guys think. The early feedback so far has been wonderful, I really appreciate it! This is a big book for me. I always get great distribution with Random House, but this book should be everywhere. As always I love hearing where you find it!

Finally, I hope you guys will go check out the special event that Ing is doing on her As the Pages Turn blog. I love the special Highland Guard graphic she did (why can't I do things like that?)! Please make sure to check it out for some great opportunities to win the books. You also get points for "spreading the word" on Twitter, Facebook, etc., which is such a great idea. Thanks, Ing!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Visiting Scotland!

A few weeks ago, when I was posting few pictures from my trip to Scotland last year on Facebook, Brenda suggested that I pass on my list of "must sees" on a first trip to Scotland.

I've been fortunate to visit Scotland 5 or 6 times now, the last couple of trips with my good buddy & fellow Scottish Historical author Veronica Wolff. She's been gracious enough to let me drag her across all corners of Scotland--literally--to visit some of the places in my books so that I can put together my "Picture Books" that I have in the Special Features section of my website. We've been to some pretty random places that had our tour guides scratching their heads. I've covered most of Scotland now--the biggest hole being the St. Andrews area and the far east borders. They are next on the list!

A little aside... I've received a number of emails from readers asking me what's the best way to see Scotland. I've done it on my own, with a group tour, and with a private tour guide. All were fantastic, but I think the answer really depends on what you are looking for in your trip. If you want to go to the "big" cities like Edinburgh, Inverness or Glasgow, and see museums, castles, etc., you can basically do that on your own. If you want to go off the beaten path and you are good with a map and driving on the "wrong" side of the road, you can do that on your own as well. I'm not that brave! But to cover the most ground a private tour guide can't be beat. I did a group tour on my second trip to the Isles and was on a small cruise, which was the best way to see some of the smaller and more difficult to get to Isles. It would have been very difficult--and daunting--to try to get to St. Kilda (picture above) on my own. So I guess that's my long-winded answer of saying that there really isn't a "best" way, it really depends on what, where, and how much you want to see.

On my first trip to Scotland back in 1993 with my hubby we went to Edinburgh, Stirling and Inverness by train. It was a great trip, and funny enough, with all my trips since then, those would probably still be my first suggestions. Edinburgh is how I pictured a medieval town. I'd been to London, but you don't realize how much of the old London is gone (from fires). Edinburgh still has a lot of its original character. You can walk the royal mile from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace:

and see what I'm talking about. At the time of my first trip I was really into Mary Queen of the Scots, so Stirling was tops on the list. I still think it's one of the most magnificent castles and small towns.

The view to Stirling Bridge where Wallace defeated the English and Bruce's statute

at the castle were moving to me even then (when the Highland Guard wasn't a glint in my eye :)). Inverness was our base for the Highlands. Tops on my list at the time was Loch Ness (yes, I had to see Nessie) and Culloden. To this day, Culloden was one of the most eerie places I've ever been (the other being Finlaggan on Islay). You could literally feel the ghosts of all the Highlanders who lost their lives on that horrible day.

If you have time, I'd try to add one of the Isles to your visit. The easiest to access are probably Skye, Mull and Arran. If you like whisky, Islay is probably tops on your list. Picking the best to visit is hard, but I'd probably say Skye. The terrain is so beautiful and varied, you really get to see it all. My parents and I took the West Highland train journey to reach Skye, and it was amazing. It's supposed to be one of the most beautiful train journeys (it includes the famous bridge in the Harry Potter movies). We relied on cabs in Skye, which was a little tricky in the off season, so not sure I'd recommend that. Here's the magnificent kilt rock on Skye:

And--of course--Dunvegan Castle:

If you have the time and inclination, I highly recumbent trying to fit a "walk" (probably more accurately to Americans called a hike) into your itinerary. Veronica and I have done this on our past couple of trips, and I really think it's the best way to see the real beauty of Scotland. Those walks have ended up being the highlights of our trips. Climb to top of Varrich Castle last year:

And climb to top of Ben A'an a few years ago:

So maybe next time, I'll do destination for the second time or seasoned visitor.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

And the winner is...

Kalesmomma! Congratulations! Thanks to everyone who posted on the blog and on Facebook. If you didn't win . . . there's only two more weeks to wait for THE VIPER! :)

Sunday, October 02, 2011

An Early Copy of THE VIPER!

I posted on Facebook last week that I received an early copy of THE VIPER, and I think it was unanimously decided that a contest to give it away was a good idea :) So if you want to be eligible to take Lachlan home a little early, either leave a comment on my blog OR on Facebook before Tuesday (10/4/11) at 5 pm PST. I'll post the name of the winner on my blog Tuesday night, and the winner will have 24 hours to respond, so make sure to check back on Wednesday otherwise it's on to name #2. All my normal blog contest rules apply--blah, blah, blah--you are only entered once so no multiple posts, etc.

I'd love to hear how you are buying books these days. It's funny, in some ways there are fewer options (i.e. Borders) but in other ways there are tons more options (online). I still buy the occasional hardback (recent examples: Unbroken, Seal Team Six), and will also buy paperbacks when I'm at Target (25% off), but over 50% of my purchases are ebooks now--mostly because I'm not out shopping much. I'm too busy writing, LOL. What about you? Of course you don't have to answer the question to win, a simple "count me in" is enough.