2015-08-19 06.40.19I love just about everything about Scotland, which will come as no surprise to those of you who know me. My son and I spent a month in Scotland this past summer, traveling around the mainland and many of the isles, in preparation for a new series I’m creating about a secret society of scholars, warriors, and everyday people who love Celtic and Viking lore and wish to preserve it. The name of the society is: The Damselfly Society. Their castle stronghold is on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, although the membership of the society is worldwide.

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I am currently involved in a very real and not-so-secret society called, The Saint Andrew’s Society of the City of Milwaukee. The Saint Andrew’s Society was founded to, among other things, “relieve the distressed”. It is the oldest charitable organization in the state of Wisconsin. It’s Scottish, and was founded in 1859 to preserve Scottish heritage, culture and art as well as to help Scotland’s daughters and sons who need assistance. It’s a wonderful society and I’m proud to be a member. It also has a political underbelly that I find fascinating.

Some of the political machinations found their way into the first book in which the Damselfly Society is mentioned: Defending Destiny. The politics in that book and in the book: The Magician’s Chalice, which will be published this summer, are pure fiction ramped up to the highest level I thought believable. The formality and rules, though, are based in real life experience.

Magician's Chalice

Every society—secret or not—has a girth of rules. Sometimes those rules strengthen it, and sometimes threaten to strangle it.

I take complete advantage of the latter in The Damselfly books.

So….on to Scotland! I’ve included some photos of this most recent trip. The summer of 2015—when my son and I went—was the coldest, wettest summer on record in the last forty years. We still had a wonderful time. I will post more about this trip, since there was so much to see. My daughter also spent the summer on a Neolithic dig in Orkney on the Ness of Brodgar. That is a whole separate post! I learned a lot about hands-on archeology in general and Neolithic Scotland in particular, and loved every rain-drenched second of it.

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I’m roughing up the plot for a Viking era historical set in Scotland that will be in the works later this year. I don’t think anyone needs to travel to write about a particular setting, but it sure helps me. The sounds, scents, and feel of a place makes it more real. It also helps get the details right. Although the landscape in Scotland has changed over the last thousand years, many aspects, including the birds, trees, water flow…..remain the same. For me, immersion into all of that fills my heart and my psyche. The words don’t necessarily flow effortlessly from that, but the nuances do.

Wherever you travel, whatever organizations you belong to, whatever life throws your way, may you immerse yourself in it and find your story.

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If you have an aspect of your life that has found its way into your writing or in what you enjoy reading, I’d love to hear about it!

Happy and safe travels whether you journey near or far.


17 thoughts on “Scotland!

  1. What a lovely post and photos, Leigh. I’m so glad you enjoyed my country (I live on the west coast of Scotland) and sorry about the rain! That’s what makes it so green and beautiful, we’re told. I’m always amazed at how much better overseas writers are at the research – perhaps it’s too familiar when we live here and we don’t put as much effort into it. I wish you great success with your novels – they sound great!

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    • Thank you, Rosgemmell! I love your country and hope to make it mine as well some day for the Spring and Autumn! I love Argyll in particular…so much to offer with Kilmartin Glen, Benmore Botanic gardens and Puck’s Glen….wow, what a magical place! 🙂 Maybe we can get together for the next trip…I’d love that.

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      • Argyll is beautiful – I do hope you get there again at some point! Part of my recent novel, The Highland Lass, is set there but I still haven’t been to Benmore Gardens. My friend loves it so that’s another trip for me soon across the River Clyde. Rosemary

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        • When you go to Benmore, Rosemary, make sure you stop at the small park just across the street and down the way a bit called: Puck’s Glen. Such a lovely walk! I think you’ll love it. When my husband comes home, I’ll see if I can find and post some photos of Benmore gardens. So lovely. This last time it was really pouring when my son and I went. It was lovely the time before that though :).

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    • You’ll love it when you go, Susan. The biggest problem for us is cost. The airfare is high, which hurts, and then there’s the cost of car rental and housing. Once you’re there though, some of the discount airlines allow for international travel throughout the EU that’s really affordable if you’re willing to rough it. If you make it a point to go, you will. I can’t wait to go back…dreaming of the day I can purchase a smallish cottage to rent out when we’re not there and to stay in when we can be. That’s the way to do it, I think. 🙂 I’d love to do more travel—there’s a lot more to see, but I keep coming back to Scotland. I just love the country and the people. I love Canada too! Nova Scotia is great. Our daughter is in Toronto so we get there quasi-often. Stratford and Niagra-on-the-Lake are favorites too. I’d love to see the Canadian Rockies…especially Banff. Hopefully some day soon. 🙂

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    • I love to travel, Carol. Sooooo much fun! You’d love Scotland. Ireland is lovely too, but I’m prejudiced…I just love Scotland more—grin. There are ferries available between Scotland and Ireland if you’d like to spend a day or two in Dublin. Very doable! There’s never enough money or time to travel, so just do it. You won’t regret going!


  2. Scotland is the place where we get our wonderful mental images of castles. In fact, Disney used a castle in northern Scotland (wish I could remember the name) as inspiration for his Disney castle.

    My blood is filled with Scottish, Irish, and Welsh ancestors, along with English, Dutch, and German. As a kid, my parents were amazed because I seemed to naturally know my way around London, Edinburgh, and several other cities in the UK. It was as though I had come home. I wanted to go to the park to see the angel statue, and I drove my family nuts until finally my father said he’d take me in that direction. So off we went on foot, except when we got there, it was a cemetery. I shrugged and went in. I found the “statue” and it had a family name on it. Now how would I ever know that?

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    • E., “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” A point well taken. I’d let you lead me though any city to see where it lead me. :). I bet we’d get somewhere wonderful.


    • Joan, it rained so hard the first week my son and I were there that the rain coat I brought with me lost its weatherproofing and I had to buy a new one in Edinburgh. I had to buy a new one for him too! This is the one I liked the best…guess the flowers were just an added bonus. BTW: Cian’s new rain jacket was storm grey…it matched the rain. 😀


  3. Oh, the rugged beauty! How lovely. My happy place is next door: England. I’ve been twice and can’t wait to go again. There’s something so magical about the history that sizzles in the air there. And how wonderful that you found a way to give back while feeding your passion at the same time!


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