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Bloggy McBlogface #3 – Culloden

This summer I spent a month touring Scotland, getting the vibe for my fourth novel which I am currently 87% of the way through.  It was a fabulous holiday and I was able to touch base with friends, en route. The weather behaved itself while we were in Inverness and so, feeling ‘gallus’, we erected the awning and put out our sunloungers.


sunloungers getting an airing at  Banchory, Royal Deeside.

On this stretch of our road trip we planned to visit Culloden, Loch Ness and Castle Urquhart. I’m a great fan of Outlander and DK Broster’s Jacobite Trilogy. And, IMO the Broster novels give a more balanced view of the conflict and there’s less of the #highlandersgood/ #Englishbad subtext found in the Outlander novels. After all, many clans fought on the side of the English at Culloden and had no wish to see the Stuarts back on the throne. For them, the battle provided an opportunity to settle old scores. The downside of the Highland Trilogy is, no Jamie Fraser!

(click over each image to read the caption)

If you’ve never visited Culloden, here’s a video to give you a sense of the place. The battle site has a haunting and mournful quality and it’s sad to reflect that, after Culloden, the clan system disintegrated and wearing tartan was punishable by seven years hard labour in the colonies. George IV) visited Edinburgh in 1822,  and everything “Scottish” became acceptable once more, a tradition continued by Victoria and Albert who bought Balmoral as their highland retreat.


Balmoral Castle 2016 (c) Lizzie Lamb


Sadly, by then many of the tartans had been forgotten and those which we see today are recent reinvention.

(Above- a fragment of Thomas Fraser of Struy’s plaid said to have been worn at Culloden in 1746) -image –

Next, we visited the Prisoner’s Stone where seventeen highlanders were taken out and shot, after the battle. Legend has it that one survived and lived to tell the tale. If you do not feel the weight of history pressing down on you when you visit the site, you have no soul. It’s hard not to stand there and weep for those on both sides who lost their lives.

I found it very poignant that clans from the same highland region  fought side by side at Culloden – the Stewarts of Appin and the Camerons of Lochiel, for example. In my mind, this was an  echo of  WWI when adjoining villages joined the Pals’ Regiments and marched off to war together. (click over each image for further details)

Of course, Outlander – the books and the TV series have helped  to reignite visitors’ passion for this beautiful part of Scotland. While we were there, many Americans were visiting the site, anxious to find the cairn erected to Clan Fraser and to lay flowers there. I still don’t understand why the Outlander series hasn’t been shown on UK television and why so few of my (UK) friends have heard about it. Here’s a link to my OUTLANDER pinterest board . . .


It’s interesting to reflect how differently things could have turned out had Bonnie Prince Charlie pressed on to London instead of turning round and heading back up north after reaching Derby – just miles from where I live in Leicester.

On a more personal note, one highlight of our trip was finding ourselves camped right next door to Facebook friend Sharyn Farnaby. Here she is with a copy of Tall, Dark and Kiltedwhich I gave to her to thank her for reading and reviewing my novels.2016-07-02-09-25-09-2

I  have been inspired by the Battle of Glenshiel (1719) to write my next #contemporary Scottish romance which I hope to publish in March 2017. It contains history, a lost treasure, a gorgeous hero (Keir) and a heroine fighting to regain her reputation after an unfortunate incident at university, (Henriette).

In the meantime, here is my current selection of novels. Something to help you cope with the long, dreary winter days, perhaps? See you soon when I’ll be writing about visiting Balmoral and Royal Deeside and meeting up with another friend. 21-author-page

The Best Vacation I Took With the Man I Love – September 2014

Emma Bridgewater loving cup

Emma Bridgewater loving cup

My husband (aka Bongo Man) and I have been married a long time. Here’s an Emma Bridgewater loving cup I commissioned to celebrate the fact – I’ll leave you to do the maths.

In 2014 we bought a vintage caravan off EBay and went on a tour of Scotland to research my third novel – SCOTCH ON THE ROCKS (published this spring). In particular I wanted to visit Holy Loch where the USS Proteus had been anchored, servicing nuclear subs in the early sixties. Vital details in my novel, and I wanted to get it right.

We started out at 5am on September 6th, Bongo Man’s birthday. The 350 mile drive to Scotland is a long one, especially if you’re towing a caravan. We finally reached the shores of Loch Lomond later that same day and set up camp. The setting was idyllic and my heart swelled because I was with the man I love and my feet were on Scottish soil, my own country. One I had left when I was eleven years old but which forever remains in my heart.

In fact, it was so inspiring that I got ideas for my next Scottish-themed novel – HEART OF THE HIGHLANDS – while exploring Castle Stalker, Appin and surrounding area. Making the most of the weather we travelled as far north as Oban and Fort William and then headed back down to the west coast. We couldn’t  believe our luck when we rolled up the blinds each morning to find it was still glorious weather.

Castle Stalker, inspiration for my fourth novel - HEART OF THE HIGHLANDS

Castle Stalker, inspiration for my fourth novel – HEART OF THE HIGHLANDS

Next stop Gourock and the ferry over to Dunoon. Or, going DOON THE WATER, as they say in Scotland. We drove along the coast of Holy Loch and visited Hunter’s Quay where some of the most voluble anti-nuclear protests took place in 1961, and the scene in my novel where the heroine’s aunt is hosed off the anchor chain of the Proteus, setting a chain of events in motion. It was there, on the side of Holy Loch that I found my perfect writers’ retreat. in an ideal world, I’d buy the house and spend most of my summers there – just as well we have our caravan as back up.

Romantic evenings, days spent exploring and afternoons writing – the perfect combination when spent with the man I love, my anchor man – Dave. I hate to spoil this idyll but we weren’t alone. Our Hahn’s Macaw, Jasper, came too and seemed to enjoy every minute of his road trip.

It’s simpler to take him along with us as trying to organise a parrot sitter is a nightmare. This summer we plan to spend another couple of weeks touring the west coast of Scotland in June and have our fingers crossed that the weather holds.

Maybe I should have called this post – travels with a parrot. There is a naughty parrot called PERSHING featured in SCOTCH ON THE ROCKS. He’s based on Jasper our Macaw, although infinitely worse behaved !!

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I’ve written in conjunction with the first birthday celebration of Isabella Anderson’s debut novel – THE RIGHT DESIGN

THE RIGHT DESIGN is on sale for $0.99, during the month of March – – – – – – – Purchase links

BlueHappyBirthdayAmazon US (Kindle)

Amazon US (Paperback)

Amazon – Canada

Amazon – UK

Barnes & Noble (Paperback and Nook)

Social Networking – Does it really sell books?


IMG_0952Any teacher will tell you that some children get a new concept first time. But for most children a new concept has to be presented in a number of different ways before they gain full understanding. This is referred to as ‘the spiral of learning’ (i.e presenting the same piece of information in as many visual and kinetic forms as possible. This is just as true when we are attempting to bring our novels to the attention of agents, publishers and readers.

Consciously or unconsciously we are applying a method known as The Reticular Activating System.

Pay attention (!) Here’s the science part – The Reticular Activating System acts as a filter for all of the sensory inputs we receive. It decides what is and is not important and what we need to pay attention to. Otherwise, we would suffer from information overload. The ‘filter’ sits between the subconscious and conscious minds, and is programmed by the conscious mind. It is this ability to filter information which makes the Reticular Activating System so important in achieving our goals.

Boot Camp Bride bus shelterThe short version: to make YOUR novel stand out from the ‘crowd’ you need to get your name and book title across in as many different forms as possible so that it ‘sticks’ in people’s conscious minds. I know this works because when I attend conferences, book fairs and writing events (wearing a name badge) I am often approached by other writers who ask: ‘how do I know your name!?’

How do we achieve an on-line presence?

I believe through some of the following . . .


  • updating your own blog and/or guesting on other blogs
  • following favourite blogs, ticking ‘like’, ‘sharing’ blog posts on Twitter, Facebook, Google + and Linked In
  • by sharing through these media your profile, avatar and/or your novel thumbnail will, hopefully, appear in different versions of internet ‘’ out there – for example The Famous Five Plus, thus widening your appeal
  • through activation of SEO (search engine optimisation); every well-aimed click and share will have an impact on your place on the social network rankings


  • ensure that your avatar and your profile on Twitter publicise your novels
  • don’t forget to include links to your books on amazon etc (using viewbook/bytly/tinyurl shortened links
  • ensure that your tweets are a mixture of things about yourself, your writing, use trending hashtags; don’t forget to promote other writers generously
  • promote your novel by quoting a review/ or dialogue from your novel in your tweets
  • make the potential reader want to download your work by utilising hashtags such as #Fridayreads. #amwriting, #Mondayblogs and genre specific hashtags to bring more traffic (and potential readers) to your door
  • widen your net of social contacts – don’t just befriend writers, befriend readers, too. I’ve made lots of friends on twitter and they have loyally downloaded my novels and left reviews
  • don’t forget to thank people for promoting you and ALWAYS return the favour


  • have your own page where you engage with potential readers, many of whom will go on to become your friends. I try to include a photo in my status updates as this draws friends to my page.
  • minimise your ‘writer news’ on this page otherwise people switch off and unfriend you
  • join some of the many sub groups and dip into them once a week or whenever to talk about your writing and establish a friendly Facebook presence
  • build up an author page(s) and LIKE others’ pages when asked. Don’t be shy about asking for LIKES to be reciprocated. It takes a long time to build up these kinds of relationships
  • I try to post something every day on my author page, not only about me and my writing but about other authors, too. @sharing’ other author’s posts works well in this case, too.
  • I find that Facebook friends like to read about your pets. When it was my parrot’s birthday in February he got over seventy ‘happy birthday’ messages (!)
  • join in with Facebook ‘events’ you’re invited to, even if it’s only to leave a passing comment. SEO comes into play with every click.

Consider joining Watt Pad, Instagram, Goodreads and Tumbler etc to get the message about you and your books ‘out there’. Build up your social networking presence gradually, mix it up, be creative. You’re in charge, so make it work for you – – – and remember the Reticular Activating System and utilise it. It’s a scientific fact.

I’ll leave you with the million dollar question:

Does social networking help to sell books?

The jury’s still out – but I believe that (as an indie author) having a social networking presence has helped me to bring my novels to readers’ attention. Finally, I would just say to any unpublished authors out there that, while your time is your ‘own’, get your social networking ducks in a row. When publication day arrives, you won’t have time to establish contacts, develop friendships and ask potential readers to buy your book – you’ll be too busy using social networking to get word out about the marvellous book you have just written.