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Monday, October 27, 2008

How do you woo? With Sue-Ellen Welfonder aka Allie MacKay

How Do You Woo? … Highland Magic

Readers familiar with my books know I love the woo. And, no, I don’t mean old-fashioned courting. The woo is how I think of paranormal light. To me, that means ghosts, time travel, and Celtic lore. My Scottish medievals written under my real name, Sue-Ellen Welfonder, always have a touch of woo. My Allie Mackay Scottish-set paranormals really let me indulge this particular passion.

I don’t think I’ve ever visited a Scottish castle, ruined or otherwise, without wondering what it would be like to encounter the ghost of dashing medieval Highlander. Of course, he’d seem real. He’d also be ready and eager to sweep me off my feet. Another wish I have in such places is to slip back in time and land in the arms of a medieval hottie Scottie. He, too, would be keen on ravishing me.

Of course, he would. These are my fantasies, after all.

As for Highland magic … I really do believe.

Scotland is magical as I’ve seen again and again when spending time there. Take a peek at the Tomnaverie stone circle in northeastern Scotland. I took this photo on a chill and drizzly November day. Tomnaverie – believed to be 4,500 years old - is remote, small, and you can almost be guaranteed you’ll be alone when you visit. To me, that makes its magic so much stronger than an over-run site like Stonehenge.

Scotland abounds with places like Tomnaverie.

Places that are steeped in a magical, otherworldly feel.

And there enough tales and legends about each such place to fill centuries of long and dark winter nights spent around the peat fire.

I have great fun exploring such themes in my Allie Mackay titles. My upcoming release, TALL, DARK, AND KILTED ~ NAL ~ Nov. ’08, has the kind of sexy medieval ghost hero I’d love to meet. And the setting, Scotland’s wild and remote far north, is just the kind of place where staunchest disbelievers might think twice before they rumple a nose at Celtic whimsy and the unexplained…

A good man is hard to find.
Cilla Swanner has been jilted by her lover, and she is struggling with a jewelry business that’s far from sparkling. She needs a getaway to someplace quiet and remote. Someplace like Dunroamin Castle in Scotland where her aunt and uncle run a retirement home in the majestic Highlands. But what she finds there may be more than she can handle.
Or is it the other way around?
Centuries ago, the roguish Scots knight known as Hardwick was renowned for his swordsmanship, both on and off the battlefield. But a traveling bard cursed him to wander the world forever, pleasing a different woman each night with no hope of fulfillment or true love. Then Hardwick meets Cilla, who may be his only chance for salvation.
Cilla - being my creation – is up to the challenge of a ghostly hero. She’s enchanted by Dunroamin Castle. A place where the past embraces you the instant you step through the door. She loves the sense of slipping into an older, less harried world, even if her room reminds her of the set of an old black-and-white Dracula movie. Cilla also falls under Scotland’s own spell. She learns that the Highlands are more than hauntingly beautiful. And she discovers that this world holds things that can’t always be explained.

But not everyone is Cilla.

Or me.

Some people struggle with the woo.

They can’t wrap their minds around Highland magic. Drifting mist is scenic but not supernatural. The beautiful luminosity of a Highland summer night is just that, beautiful. The smooth, perfectly round and white pebble found on a Hebridean strand will never cure terrible maladies. There aren’t any sprites in the woods and certainly not a water horse in the river. Heaven forbid someone mention a water bull. That wasn’t a faint skirl of pipes out on the lonely, night-bound moor. It was the piercing cry of a bird. Everyone knows it’s impossible to catch a glimpse of the past if you step – all by your lonesome – into the tumbled walls of a castle ruin. Ghosts are out of the question.

There are many people who agree with the above.

I am not one of them.

But such a skeptic lives in the pages of TALL, DARK, AND KILTED. He’s Cilla’s Uncle Mac who owns Dunroamin. As you can see in the following exchange that takes place not long after Cilla’s arrival at the castle, Uncle Mac wouldn’t acknowledge a ghost if one floated right past him. In this snippet, Cilla has just asked him if Dunroamin has ghosts….

“Ho! Not here an hour and already you’re asking what every American wants to know.” Uncle Mac’s face split in a broad, twinkly-eyed grin. “The only ghosts hereabouts are my creaky knees. If you count both together, they’re well over a hundred.”
Cilla smiled. “If your knees are creaky, I would’ve noticed.” She crossed the room and hugged him. “I’d rather hear about ghosts.”
“Would you now?” Uncle Mac lifted a bushy brow. “Truth is you won’t be seeing any. I took my first breath in these walls. If there were bogles flitting about, sure enough and I’d know it.”
Aunt Birdie sniffed. “What about the gray lady on the main stairs?” She came forward to join them, her purple-and-blue watered silk dress swirling around her like an exotic, perfume-scented cloud. “Or the little boy who sits on a stool in a corner of the kitchen?”
Her husband hooted. “The day a misty lady floats down my stairs, I’ll shave off my beard.” He rocked back on his heels, amused. “The offer stands for any spook that might care to put in an appearance.”
“Have a care, dear. There’s always a kernel of truth to any legend.” Aunt Birdie tapped his chest with a red-tipped fingernail. “Bucks County back home is steeped in tradition and ghosts. Here ….” she let her voice tail off. “Let’s just say that you, as a Highlander, should know better than to scoff at such things.”
Uncle Mac huffed and waved a hand.
“Tell me” – he winked at Cilla – “do you believe in such foolery? Ghosts, tall tales, and plaid-draped, sword-packing beasties that go bump in the night?”
Cilla bit her lip.
From what she’d seen of Scotland so far, she doubted Uncle Mac would like her answer.
That’s Uncle Mac. A wonderful character – always kilted, by the way – who is full of life, bluster, and good humor. He doesn’t believe in the woo.

There are lots of Uncle Macs in the world.

I encountered one early in my career. This reader found it ridiculous that my heroine was gifted with second sight. She ended her online commentary by asking: “How many people do you know with second sight?”

Well, … err, ahem….

It just so happens that I know quite a few. My own grandmother had it in spades. So much so that she scared me sometimes. And I have many Highland friends who have someone in their family who is so gifted. Or they know someone in the village who is. Or they have the sight themselves. I don’t know a single Highlander who’d deny its existence.

But there is so much more to Celtic legend and lore.

Second sight is just the tip of the iceberg. Highland Scotland is a treasure trove of the woo and the farther back in time that you go, it just gets more fascinating. People really did believe in sacred wells, charmed stones, mystical creatures and fairies. Sea monsters swam in the waters around the Hebrides and every Islesman kept a watch for Selkies. Trolls were greatly feared by Shetlanders and Orkneymen. Everywhere, the evil eye was dreaded, the local seer (usually a man) was highly respected, and the powers of wise women were in great demand. Omens were carefully sought and studied before any clan embarked on an important venture. Clan elders knew such signs could foretell the outcome of a raid or a battle and acted accordingly. Childbirth brought its own array of precautions and charms, the wealth and variety of which is beyond mind boggling.

Now look at the other two photos. This is Smoo Cave in Scotland’s far north. Legends abound about this cave, one being that it is a dwelling place of fairies. Another tale claims Smoo Cave hides an entrance into the netherworld. Could be those orbs surrounding me are fairies. Or spirits of the many souls said to have met their doom in the cave. Or they might be droplets of spray from the waterfall behind me.

Either way, Smoo Cave is a place where you can believe in anything.

Truth is Gaelic Scotland has an incredibly rich heritage of folklore, tradition, and beliefs. There were customs and superstitions that touched every aspect of daily life. It would take many more words than suitable in this blog to discuss them all.

Thanks to the Highlanders’ fierce pride in ancestry and culture, this amazing tapestry of lore has been well preserved. Those fortunate enough to visit Scotland can see living traces of this legacy. I sometimes think each blade of grass, clump of heather, and stone has a story.

Wonders are everywhere. Sometimes in the most unexpected places. Here’s one example: Glamis Castle is a huge tourist draw. It also brims with mystic and legend. But! Those who care to look beyond the well-known, and are willing to tramp down a steep, wet and weedy riverbank, can find an ancient pagan well beneath the old church in Glamis village. The well is just a few feet from the river’s edge and hidden behind a tangle of ivy fronds.

But it is there.

Testament to the old ways and … no surprise, really … if you peer into the peaty water, you can see a fairly modern looking tin cup. It would seem the ancients aren’t the only ones who trusted in the well’s healing abilities.

Highland magic is alive and well.

And it was more than that in medieval Scotland. It was everything. A part of daily life as natural and accepted as eating, sleeping, and breathing.

I cannot imagine writing a Scottish-set book (no matter the century) without including these traditions and lore that are so tightly woven into Scotland’s heritage. Yet I know some of my colleagues would rather sit on a tack than include anything ‘paranormal’ in their historicals. And (see above) I know there are readers who feel the same.

Sooo … how do you woo?

Do you enjoy threads of Celtic myth and legend in your Scottish reads? Can you push the envelope enough to enjoy a sexy medieval Scottish ghost hero? Or do you prefer your tales wholly de-wooed?

I’m curious!
All views are welcome.

Please comment to win:
3 signed ARCs of TALL, DARK, AND KILTED (or wait until Nov. for the actual book – winners can decide)
1 signed ARC of SEDUCING A SCOTTISH BRIDE – my next (Welfonder) Scottish medieval, coming from GCP in March ‘09
3 signed copies of my reader favorite, DEVIL IN A KILT
1 pipes and drums CD as a special bonus prize

Readers can visit me at:
http://www.welfonder.com/ (Scottish medievals written under my own name for Grand Central Publishing, formerly known as Warner Books)

http://www.alliemackay.com/ (Scottish-set paranormals written under my pen name, Allie Mackay, for Penguin/NAL)

Thanks so much, Wendy and friends, for inviting me to guest blog. I appreciate it!
To everyone else … Alba gu brath! (Scotland forever)


WK said...

Hi Sue-Ellen. Thank you soo much for visiting with us today! You know already that I do love the "magic" of the Highlands and Scotland. I feel some of that magic here in NC as well. I'll be back later to comment more gotta take my son to school. I just wanted to welcome you here and thank you again for visiting with us.


Suzanne Lajoie said...

Hi, Sue-Ellen:

We've spoken before and I've always enjoyed our conversations. I must tell you that the first time I went to Scotland in 1995 for the first time and we decided to visit Culloden (Drummossie Moor). I didn't realize at first that we were driving along the road beside the Moor itself, but I suddenly felt an overwhelming sadness and the tears started. They continued on the battlefield. I felt as if I had been there myself and had lost someone. Perhaps I was reliving a former life or someone who did lose a loved one was visiting me. The next time I was there, it wasn't quite as dramatic, but I took a photo of my husband in the area where his clan had fought and everytime I look at it, I see what many of the Highlanders saw when drawing their last breath.

I have always felt presences in the castles and have had visitations with ghosts in my home province of Nova Scotia and in the middle of the night in an old house in Salem, Massachusetts.


sarabelle said...

Hi Sue-Ellen. Great interview. I have not read any of your books YET. But that is going to change. I love paranormal and sexy highlanders so when you put them together you get your cake and eat it too.

Holly H said...

Hi Sue-Ellen,
I have to say I really enjoy reading your books set in Scotland. I have never been but reading your books I feel like I have. I can't wait for Tall Dark and Kilted to come out, I was so excited to read it I preordered it it May.
I have read a couple Se books and all of the AM books that are out, and I really like them all but enjoy the ghost ones very much

elsiehogarth said...

Hi Sue-Ellen! What a treat visiting this blog today. You know how much I love and enjoy all your books.

Everyone, please check out Sue-Ellen's website...it is the best ever with all her pictures, stories and tidbits of Scotland. She is a great story teller.

Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

Morning, ladies!

WendyK - Thanks so much for inviting me today! You know I don't do this often, so I'm really looking forward to a fun time. And, yes, I do know how much you love Highland magic. And your beautiful NC home. NC is where I always head when I can't get to Scotland and burn to be there. The NC mountains are also magical, definitely.

Suzanne Lajoie - Thank you so much for looking in! I've always enjoyed our converse, too. I know you love Scotland as much as I do and we've had so many similar experiences there. I know Culloden well as it is near my favorite Highland town. Culloden is a very powerful place. People who work there have told me amazing tales. They know its power intimately. And many who've visited have had experiences like your own. I, too encountered something there once that rocked my world. An incredible feeling that will stay with me forever. I'm not surprised you had an experience in Salem. As for Nova Scotia, you are so blessed to live there. Wow. If you can't be in Scotland, that's the place to be, for sure. So many, many ties to the Auld Hameland. Big sigh...

Sarabelle - Thank you sooo much for chiming in! And the good words about my post. It's a topic close to my heart, for sure. You've got me smiling ... sexy Highlanders and the paranormal. A wonderfully fun combination, ooooh yes. There's nothing like a Highlander and the paranormal is so fascinating. I hope you'll enjoy my books. My personal all-time favorite is my Allie Mackay paranormal, Highlander In Her Dreams. I think that one will appeal to anyone who is as crazy about Scotland and Highlanders as I am. You can read an excerpt and see photos of the book's Skye setting on my Allie Mackay website

Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

Hello again, Ladies!

Holly H - Thank you so much for popping by! And your good words ... oh, my! Thank you! You've given me my all-time favorite compliment by saying my books make you feel as if you are there. That is my number one goal when writing: to transport readers to the place I love so passionately. In fact, to me that, too, is Highland magic. When I write, I return in my mind to the special places I know and love there. Everything in my office then falls away and it is almost as if I'm there again, in the book's actual setting with my characters. It's my hope for readers to feel as if they are there for real, too. So thank you!! I'm so pleased that you enjoy both of my subgenres and absolutely thrilled that you love the paranormals so much. They are such fun to write. And you surely have a record for ordering dear Hardwick's book so early. Wow! Thank you! I'll be soon be posting photos of all the wonderful places in TALL, DARK, AND KILTED, so keep an eye on my Allie Mackay site.

Elsie Hogarth - Bless you for your kind words and the tip re my websites. I know not all my readers have been to Scotland so I love using the sites to share the places there that I love so much and that become book settings and inspiration. And, yes, I know how much you love my books. Your enthusiasm always makes me feel so good. Thank you so much for looking in here. I was so pleased to see your name! Don't be a stranger .. you know where I am and it's always lovely to hear from you.

Eva S said...

Hi Sue-Ellen,
thanks for your great post and your photos (and your beautiful photos on your website!). I'd love to visit Scotland! I loved your Devil in A Kilt and can't wait to read more of your books, they are all on my wishlist...Highlanders are my favorite heroes!

Gigi said...

Helloooo Sue-Ellen,
Yes, I would loved to be wooed by a mystical Scottish ghostie or phantom.
You know what could be better than being able to have some modern conveniences and still find that magic . You could load up on toothpaste,soap and pain killers for the return trip to the past.

I do love the way you make your characters able to travel back in time.
The heroes you write about are truly heroes. From the top of ther bonny head to ends of their toes they just radiate a certain aura.
Thank goodness for authors like yourself that love to write about that kind of *Magic*

AndreaW said...

Hi, Sue-Ellen/Allie!

Congrats on your upcoming release!! Speaking of which, do you do anything special to celebrate each release?

*sigh* The more I see pictures of Scotland, the more I want to go there!! Thanks for the pictures. :)

Take care!

flchen1 said...

Hi, Sue-Ellen! What a lovely post! Scotland seems like such a gorgeous place--I always think of it as being castles and vast foggy, heathery moors and craggy cliffs. I know that isn't accurate, but it's so atmospheric. I do love reading it as a setting! I've never had a chance to visit, so I snatch up every opportunity to read about it and its more mysterious kind of tales, too.

Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

Hello again, Ladies,

Eva S - Thanks so much for popping by! I know you loved DEVIL IN A KILT. That book is surely everyone's big favorite. Duncan remains special to me, too, and I always have such fun with his cameo scenes in my other books. I swear he's real. Seems that way to me, anyhow. I'm so glad you enjoy the Scotland photos I post. As said, I'll soon have some real wowsers up on my Allie Mackay site for TALL, DARK, AND KILTED. That book takes place in my own very favorite part of Scotland, the far north. The landscape there is absolutely incredible. Very special. And - yay!! to those Highlanders. They are the best of men, no doubt.

Gigi - Thank you so much for looking in here! You always make me smile. You know that. But I'm chuckling now ... yes, I am sure we would all miss our modern conveniences if we really could slip back in time. I'd still go, though. As you may know from my newsletters -I believe I mentioned it once- years back I spent about six weeks backpacking through the wilds of Indonesia with a girlfriend. We trekked through jungles and rain forests and some very primitive places!! We lived 'rough' and I do mean rough. But I survived and it was a wonderful, wonderful time ... even if I did get very ill on food poisoning at one point. So I've had the experience of being without lots of things we take for granted. But I did know I had an air ticket out of Bali at the end of those six weeks. Even so, I'd go back to medieval Scotland in a heartbeat. I'm working on it! One of these trips one of my methods will succeed and I'll never come back. Hah! Otherwise, there are some things people had or did back then that I don't use in my books because unless someone was a historian and knew, readers could think such things were impossible back then. One example was a special delicacy called 'roasted milk' which was very similar to today's fried ice cream. I'd never touch that treat in a book - well maybe someday - but it did exist in the times. What I'd miss most are potatoes which weren't around in 'my' time. I'm a real potato zealot and would pass by a table covered with chocolates for potato-anything. Big sigh... Anyway, I'm sooo glad you love my heroes. I do, too. Every one.

Andrea W - Thank you so much for looking in! I'm so glad you enjoyed the photos and hope you'll look at the ones on my websites. Every page on both sites has tons of them. "Allie's Scotland" and "Meet Allie" and "Photos" on my Allie Mackay site have some real stunners. Scotland is gorgeous and I hope you get there someday. Celebrating new releases ... one ritual I have is adding the new book to vertical stacks of my books on the top of a row of bookshelves across from my desk. The top of that shelf is filled with my books, incl. the Rhapsody hardcovers and foreign editions. I do this because long ago, before my first sale, a close pubbed friend who is a sensitive told me that she saw a 'tall stack' of my books. I didn't believe her at the time, but she always reminded me about that stack and would reassure me that I'd sell. Now I have the stack and it is a private chuckle between us. She's allowed to say "I told you so." So I enjoy putting a new book on that stack. And whenever I need a boost, writing-wise, I only have to look across my office to see the stack and I feel better. Other than that ritual, these days I always seem to be super busy wrapping up a deadline when a new release rolls around. That makes things hectic. Oh, yeah ... I did plant two frangi-pani trees to celebrate my first two books.

Lorraine said...

Hi Sue-Ellen,

I been a fan of yours since your,
first book, Devil In A Kilt.

The Druids and the Celtic. Started

I too love ghost stories. Time travel Vampires and Werewolf too.

I love your paranormals romance books. I would love to go to Scotland and fall in a hole and go
back in time. Keep up the great romance and paranormals.


Lorraine said...


I also love when you put dogs and
cats and other animals in your romance books. Animals, fill out lifes with love.


Meljprincess said...

Hi Sue-Ellen,
What a wonderful post. We share the same fantasies. Now if we could just share that cup o' joe! I do believe Scotland is a magical place. I've read so much about the "woo". I hope to visit soon and your posts make me want to get there faster.

Suzanne, I used to travel to Salem and help folks with their "visitors". As a "ghostbuster" I know I'd have a blast in Scotland. I've had many experiences with ghosts. My whole family has. I've heard of places in Scotland *there's a place in Edinburgh where there are tunnels* that are haunted. Sue-Ellen do you know where I'm talking about? I can't remember the name.

I want to win an ARC!!!!!!!!!!!

:-) Mel K.

Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

Hi again, Ladies!

Andrea W (again) -

I'm breaking for lunch now and had to pop back in to say this re celebrating new releases...

When I was in the kitchen just now, I saw a beautiful young coffee bean tree and - lo! - I forgot to mention it in answer to Andrea W.

I grew the coffee bean tree from a coffee bean tree seed in celebration of TALL, DARK, AND KILTED.

Not necessarily for the book's release, but because there is a coffee bean tree in the conservatory at Dunroamin Castle, the setting of TALL, DARK, AND KILTED. The tree is mentioned in a scene and decided as I wrote that scene that I just had to have a coffee bean tree of my own. I knew them from the conservatories of UK friends and sooo ... I ordered a seed and planted it in celebration of the coffee bean tree in Dunroamin's conservatory.

If you see a pattern re the two frangipani trees I planted for DEVIL IN A KILT and KNIGHT IN MY BED, my first two books, you're right.

I am keen on natural things: anything green and living, beautiful stones, and what-not and tend to celebrate with such things rather than going out any buying myself a necklace, new shoes, or what-have-you.

My office is full of special stones, for example, each one holds a memory and can instantly transport me to the place and time where the stone 'spoke' to me.

So that is how I celebrate new books, usually. And the above mentioned 'stack ritual.'

Otherwise ... re writing, the moment that I find most exciting is seeing a new cover for the first time. That thrills me more than release day.

Everyone else ... I'll be back shortly. Thanks - for now - to everyone for making today so much fun! I'm so enjoying your posts.

Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

Back again, Ladies!

Flchen1 - Your image of Scotland is spot on. It's not inaccurate at all. That's what makes Scotland so incredible. It really and truly is like that ... just as you would imagine. Only better! That -being even better- is the only bad thing about going. Once you've been for real, you REALLY fall in love with Scotland and having to then leave just rips your soul. It does mine, every time. Oh. My. God. But seriously, even the more populated areas have stunning landscapes only a very short drive away. And the larger cities have niches and corners of great beauty. There isn't an inch of the entire land that isn't breath-taking. Even the poorer parts of some large cities have gorgeous parks nearby or untouched stretches of incredible beauty within easy reach. Through my twenty year plus career with the airlines, I've pretty much seen the world and can say absolutely that there is no place like Scotland. At least for me. It really is magical.

Re the mist and fog, if you look at my Allie Mackay site and click on "A Glimpse Into This Book.." for Highlander In Her Dreams, scroll down to see a photo of some incredible cliff-top mist. The photo was taken not on mainland Scotland, but in Shetland. I was hiking around a bird sanctuary isle and the path goes all around the cliff edges. It was a clear day when I started out, then this fog swept in out of nowhere, just like that. I've seen such mists roll in in the Highlands, too. It's wonderfully atmospheric.

Sue P said...

Sue Ellen, Big fan of your books they are perfect. Your website is always a treat. I've visited Scotland and loved it, fully intend on going back soon. We stayed near Ballmoral Castle ( the tour is a rip by the way) and seeing your photos makes me go and dig out my own. No woo moments on this trip but I did manage to wreck the rental car. The most amazing thing is driving down the road a passing standing stones, burial cairns (trying to avoid running over about a million rabbits) driving downa road you know was made for a horse and cart and not scrape the stone walls or the oncoming cars not to mention trying to drive a stickshift that is on the wrong side of the car, I kept sticking my hand out the window when I wanted to shift. The creepiest site for me was Loch Ness. I would live in Innverness if I could but the Loch I cna't describe how it made me feel. Reading your books is like revisiting an old friend, I'm sure we will be visiting for a very long time.

Stacy S said...

I love reading stories with ghosts and/or physics elements in them. This is my first time posting here.

Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

Back again, Ladies!

Lorraine - I know you've been around since Duncan days, bless you! And you are right, Halloween is ancient. Samhain to the pagan Celts. Lots and lots of folklore tied up with this ages-old feast day. I'm so glad you enjoy the Allie Mackay books, too. I know some of my early readers don't enjoy paranormals, so I'm always so pleased when one of them, like you, tells me they enjoy these new books, too. Thanks so much! As for Scotland, if you find that time portal, let me know and I'll join you. Oh, yeah...

Lorraine (again) - Ahhhh, you're making me misty-eyed now. You know how much I love animals, especially dogs. Just as I'll never write a book that isn't Scottish-set, I'll never write one that doesn't have a special animal character. All my books have dogs, as you know. And there is Somerled, too. The little red fox who is Devorgilla's magical helpmate in my medievals. He was based on a very real little red fox I met while hill walking in Scotland a few years ago. Then there is Gregor, the mischievous great skua - a really fierce bird!! - in TALL, DARK, AND KILTED. Gregor was based on my own encounters with these dive-bombing birds while walking the high moors in Shetland. Amazing creatures! Watch my Allie Mackay site for upcoming photos of sweet little Leo who was the role model for Leo the dachshund, also in TALL, DARK, AND KILTED. Leo is a heartbreaker, for sure. So, yes, there will always be animals in my books. Always, bless them all.

Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

Back again, Ladies!

I'm having a great time and hope you are, too. Thanks so much to all of you for looking in.

Meljprincess - Big hugs! Another looong time reader come to say hello. Thanks! Wow to your Salem experiences. I'd love to hear about them sometime. And, yes, you would go wild in Scotland. Oh, man, yes.

And, yes, I know where you mean in Edinburgh. Amazing place. It is called Mary King's Close. You can find it on the Internet. Click on the "The Real Mary King's Close" to see it. It's a dark and fascinating maze of ancient 'closes' - narrow alleys - where ordindary people lived and worked hundreds of years ago. It lies beneath Edinburgh's famous Royal Mile. It is definitely worth a visit. But they keep the tour groups to a small number so if you go stop by early and book your place. It's so popular that if you just walk up to the ticket office, you might be turned away. Incredibly eerie and the tour is done well. Edinburgh in itself is a fabulous city. I don't get there often as I usually head north to the Highlands, but when I do spend time there, I enjoy every minute.

sue p said...

Sue Ellen, May as well ask you my questions while I've got the chance. Would you consider writing in another area besides Scotland? I agree it is perfect but maybe for a change of pace? Or maybe just a visit and a return? Kind of like me. Speaking of ghosts I am a baker and although mangement won't admit it those of us who are there on the graveyard shift all know the truth and have been visited. The odd thing to me though is that itis located across the street from the cemetary that my father is buried in and he's never dropped by.

Lorraine said...


The Beagle puppy, we are going to get, is a chow hound. There is only two. Mother, hound has a lot of milk, so there are so chubby. I'm going to name her, " IONA."

I love Scottish castles. But, most of all, I love the pubs and love the food. I am a fish eater,
and living in Phoenix, AZ. Only,
limited to fish from Mexico. But,when I go to Scotland, I eat my fill. Fish and Lamb I order.


Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

Back again, Ladies!

Sue P - Thanks so much for popping in! And the good words about my books. Thank you! You've got me smiling with your comments about driving over there. Yikes! I know exactly what you mean. I have a love-hate relationship with driving left. Holy moly. I do it because I am allergic to coach tours and crowds and renting a car yourself is the only way to enjoy Scotland as I love to do. But man oh meter! You're right ... it is so often that you must drive on a single-track road with two way traffic! Definitely not for the faint of the heart. Yikes to wrecking the rental car. Ouch! I hope they were good about it. I've never seen the roads overrun with rabbits, but I sure have seen lots of sheep-jams. Balmoral ... I love that area, too. Haven't ever toured the castle, though. Tomnavernie stone circle shown with my post is not too far from there. It's a wonderful area ... Royal Deeside. Loch Ness, yes, it can be eerie. And driving alongside the loch on the A-82 is scary, too. Yikes! See above, I swear every time I drive past Loch Ness and am way up on that narrow road, every big square box of a recreational vehicle comes hurtling right at me! I grit my teeth every time one of those buggers roars past me, sure I'm going to get knocked off the road, into the loch!
Thanks so much for looking in. You made me smile.

Stacy S - Thanks so much for looking in! I'm so glad you enjoy ghosts in books and woo-woo elements. I'm always glad to hear when a reader does. Such books are great fun. Good escapist reads. Real life can get pretty serious at times. Thank goodness for the escape of books! I hope you are enjoying the posts. Thanks again for dropping by!

Blanche said...

Hi Sue-Ellen!!

I really enjoyed reading your post.....awesome post!!

I've not read any of your books yet but that will change very quickly! I love Highlanders and Highland Magic and all that!! I know I'm going to LOVE your books and can't wait to read them!!


swenholt2 said...

Thanks so much for the post and the pictures! I'm so envious that you get to go to such lovely places, but thanks to you writing about them if I'm ever able to make it over to Scotland, I'll at least have some areas in mind to visit. I'm eagerly awaiting Hardwick's story! Thank you again for writing such fun stories and sharing them with us.


Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

Back again, Ladies!

Lorraine - Ooooh! Iona is a perfect name for your new little darling. I love it! And I'll look forward to seeing the promised pictures of her when you can send them. I'm still swooning over you and the hunky Kiltie at Edinburgh Castle. That photo will be up on my Kiltie pages soon. I love fish, too. Lots of fish here in southwest Florida, but I still enjoy it in Scotland. Haggis is my top Scotland treat, though. Amazing how many ways there are to serve it. All excellent.

Blanche - A new reader! Yay! You've got me smiling. Thanks so much for your good words about my post. As said, it's a topic close to my heart. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post so much. And delighted to see you love Highlanders and Highland magic. Wouldn't the world be a grand place if all men were Highlanders and Highland magic touched us all?

Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

Back again, Ladies!

Sheila - Thank you so much for looking in here! I know how much you, too, love Scotland. And you know what? I am sure that passion will get you there. Scotland is that kind of place. So beautiful and magical that it has the power to win hearts and wrap itself around souls, never letting you go. Once you're in its thrall, the ache to get there is a fire inside that can never ever extinguish. It's an incredible pull that - sooner or later - drags you in and, lo!, you've got your face pressed against the window of a plane descending into Glasgow, tears blurring your vision, and your heart busrting with joy. That's how it is for me each time I go and it'll be that way for you, too. Guaranteed. And when you do go, get in touch with me and I'll share some of my best secret places with you. For now, I'm so glad my books take you there. As said, that's always my greatest goal when writing. Thanks so much for your good words.

flchen1 said...

Oh my--Sue-Ellen, it sounds like Scotland is one of those few places that will surpass its billing! I'm really hoping to visit now (but am almost afraid to since it sounds like I may desperately want to move there after such a visit!) Wow!! Thank you for confirming its appeal!

Lorraine said...


One of these years, I want to take a Christmas trip to Scotland. I have been to Scotland five times, in the fall, spring and summer. But, never a Christmas time.

Up in the Highland at times, thay have snow. My girlfriend Heather,
lives in Inverness, I have spent a lot of time there. And just love it.

I will talk to you soon. Take care.


Maureen said...

I enjoy a little bit of the unexplained in my stories. Add a setting that's just made for the mystical and it sounds like a great story.

Kvetina said...

Dear Sue-Ellen,
How wonderful to see you blogging again! And, to read your words of the beloved home of your heart and spirit, Scotland, *sigh*, and... woo! I do believe there is a bit of magic to be found everywhere, if only we would take the time 'to see, to feel, and to hear'. To allow oneself to be open. I do look forward to the day I might visit Scotland and 'lose' myself in the Highlands. To wander freely where ever my heart might lead. Truly, my heart cries out for such a visit! Your wondrous writings and books have shared such a deep and enchanting love of this amazing land, timeless and fascinating, and yes, filled with magic. :) I do so enjoy and love reading the threads of Celtic myth and legend in your tales shared. And, your paranormal books...'a sexy medieval Scottish ghost hero', hmm, well, those words do tend to make me smile and dream a bit... ;)
I adore reading all of your books (for those that share a bit of woo have such a special place within my heart) (Altho, too, does dear Sir Marmaduke ;) you know I could never resist his story) and losing myself within your poetic words and love of a land and history that fills your precious spirit. Thank You Dear Sue-Ellen for such a wondrous gift given from the heart,
Hugs, and many Blessings, always,

Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

Evening, Ladies!

I think some cyber meanie gobbled my post, so if this appears twice, you'll know why.

Flchen1 - Wanted to say that you are right again. Scotland does exceed all expectations. Absolutely. It truly is as magnificent and magical as you imagine. And, as said, even more so. As I said in the vanishing post - which may yet appear - I start grinning the instant I catch that first glimpse of the Hebrides out my plane window. That grin never leaves me the whole time I am there. Until the dread moment comes when it is time to leave. What. A. Wrench. Oh, God. That is indeed the only bad thing about going - having to leave. Scotland claims souls, I am sure. Once you've been, you are forever changed. There is always an ache inside you. It never goes away and the only cure is going back. And then, sadly, the whole thing repeats itself: everything is glorious until the last day rolls around. Then the darkness descends. So you were spot on again. And I am with you re the move. If ever circumstances allow, I am out of here. No regrets,

Lorraine - Christmas in Scotland would be divine. I've been to London at Christmas, which is wonderful. But haven't made it yet for a Highland Christmas. I've been there in the weeks prior and have seen the decorations. Yes, the Highlands could have snow. The Highlands and the Cairngorms - another gorgeous area - are usually snow-dusted by mid-November. Inverness ... I heard just today from a Highland friend that the Inverness area is expecting snow tonight. They've been having gale winds and all around ferocious weather the last day or so.

Now to see if this goes through this time. If it appears double, my apologies.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sue-Ellen:

I haven't read any of your books yet. However when you add Highlands, Scotland, ghosts & time travel. I'm definately going to have to check them out.

Greta said...

I'm anonymous. Some how my comment posted before I put my info in.

Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

Back again, Ladies!

Maureen - Thanks so much for popping by. I'm so glad you, too, enjoy a touch of the unexplained. Such threads add so much to a story, especially if the setting lends itself to such things. And Scotland does, of course. Oh, yes.
It is impossible to be there and not be inspired. Likewise to just imagine being there. Either way, Scotland has a patent on misty magic and the mystic.

Kvetina/Kimphy - Hellooo, dear friend! As one of the few readers I've met face-to-face, I am always so happy to see you when I do these things!! Thank you so much for looking in here today. I know you since the Duncan days and know how much you love my books. As said above, I am always so pleased when a long-time reader enjoys the Allie Mackay books, too. But then, I am not surprised you do, being aware of your own deep appreciation for mystical things and Highland magic. Thank you so much for looking in here. Don't be a stranger!! You know where to find me and I am always so happy to hear from you.
Great big hugs to you!!

Greta - Hah! Your anonymous post made me smile. I suspect the same cyber meanies who ate my earlier post also zapped you. That said, thanks so very much for looking in here. I'm always happy to hear of readers who love Scotland. And if you enjoy Scottish books with ghosts and time travel, that's right up my street. If you try any of my books, I hope you'll enjoy them.

Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

Dinner Break ...


I am off now to make supper. It is that time here on the east coast.

But I'll be back again later tonight for sure and will answer every post that yet appears. I'll be around until the small hours, in fact. And I'll look in again in the morning, just to be sure that no one is missed.

For now... thank you all SO MUCH for looking in here today. You've been great. I do these things only very rarely, so thank you all for making this such a wonderful day for me.

Back later...
Slainte all around!

AndreaW said...

Thanks for answering my question, Sue-Ellen/Allie! What a sweet and special friend you have. And that's wonderful that you've planted trees! You'll always have memories "attached" to them. :)

Oh, and believe me, I have checked out and still check out regularly both of your sites. I just looooove to look at pictures. ;)

Take care!

WK said...

Sue-Ellen and everyone, I have loved reading all the comments. I'm so jealous of all of you who are going to read Sue-Ellen for the first time. There is nothing like finding a great author and reading that first book. Just be warned that are a LOT of great characters who make small appearances in some book and completely steal your heart. Others own it from the first time they walk onto the page and you will never be the same again. You all are in for such a wonderful treat.

And those of you who have visited Scotland. OMG I'd love to do that someday.

I do feel that Sue-Ellen/Allie's books always allow me to travel there in my heart and soul and mind. And the portrait I have of a Scottish warrior always makes me thing of Sue-Ellen's books.

I thank you all for stopping by and Sue-Ellen you are the absolute best!!! I love you dear friend.


WK said...

Ohh I forgot. Sue-Ellen, Toni Blake aka Lacey Alexander wanted me to tell you "Hi".


Heather said...

Sue-Ellen, I am ALL about the woo! My family is, apparently, woo-ish. When I got freaked out about several strange co-incidences that occured to me, my father told me,'Well, you know, Gram had 'the site'.' Well, I found out later that my other sister and a fair amount of people on both sides have it.

I have had the weird, 'we're not alone' feeling all my life at various times, as well as frequent deja vu.

I know when I was in Europe I got the same feeling you did, like there are a lot of things around that are very old and not necessarily 'of this world'. I also felt like I'd 'been' there before, actually felt more comfortable in Munich (and I'm NOT German) than in my own hometown at 15.

I am ssoooo eager for Hardwicks story, I came to 'Allie' just a few months ago and had such fun reading your first story. Every girls dream, to inherit a freakin' Scottish Castle! I LOVED that!

Many kilts and pint 2U,

Bullrem said...

In reading the post of most all your readers, I am nodding my head in agreement about Scotland, YOUR books, the castles, Culloden, cemeteries, etc. Most of them gave me a sense of presence, awe, reference, saddness, and loss.
Spot on all of you.

I do so love your books with details of legends, myths, heritage, clans, styles of dress, etc. I love recipes too.

Now I must say this, as we talked last week about your sponsoring a tour of Scotland. You remember I volunteered myself to help you, please do not go in the dead of winter.. (haa ha dead of winter....) I do think it would be my death... burrrrr.

So good to see all the posts here for you and also for the other ladies. Y'all have certainly packed a lot of talent into one night of great threads.

A dram to you & gude nycht
Helen B, Newport, Ark.

Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

Back again, Ladies!

AndreaW - You are very welcome re the celebration question. The trees certainly bring me joy. And my book stack always gets me going again whenever I need a boost. My friend who told me that is very special, indeed. She kept after me always and I'd laugh, never expecting to sell. And she'd go on and on about seeing that book stack beside me. She's a very good friend, yes. And I am so pleased you enjoy the websites. Keep an eye out for the new TALL, DARK, AND KILTED photos. They should be up soon and are stunners.

Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

Still Here, Ladies!

WendyK - My goodness, you humble me. Thank you so much for the good words. Wow! I don't know what to say. You know -my greatest wish always is to transport my readers to Scotland, make them feel as if they are really there when they open one of my books and slip inside the pages. And I love my characters so much - as all writers do, I'm sure. So thank you!!

As for Scotland, I am sure you'll get there. Absolutely. As I said to someone else earlier, when the pull already has you so firmly in its grip, magic happens and -lo! - before you know it, you'll be on your way there.

As for that magnificent chieftain painting you have, I remain convinced I have seen the painting somewhere over there. In a castle, too. I think it is the Great MacNab, but not the most well-known painting of him. One of these trips over, I will see him again and then we'll know who he is.

Toni Blake is a wonderful lady and super talented writer. I like her so much. I know her from when she wrote for Warner, now GCP. Please give her my regards back.

Otherwise, thank you sooo much for having me today. I've really had a great time and still am.

Thanks again for the wonderful praise about my books. I truly am humbled.
Grrreat big hugs always!

Lorraine said...

Dear Sue-Ellen,

It is 7:22, in Phoenix now. Are you still three hours a head of us?When are thay changing the clocks.
I Arizona, we don't change time.

If I win any money, I am going to
buy a cottage in Inverness..My girlfriend wants to get her son and
Kathleen (my daughter) together.
They are the same age. She knows if
that happens, I would move to Scotland.

Touring castles is fun. Going shoping in Inverness is a treat too. I like to quilt, so I go looking for quilting stuff, also wool too.

This was a great blog. It is fun, when it is not done too, ofter. I don't blog much. Good night.


Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

Still around, Ladies!

Heather - Thank you so much for popping by. I loved your post. Your family sounds wonderful. I can well imagine you have some lively discussions going, many good times, and fascinating experiences. Wow. And I really smiled to see your mention of Munich. What a small world... I lived in Munich for fifteen years. Beautiful city and so close to the Alps. I loved living there and miss it very much at times. As one funny aside because we were joking about driving left in Scotland earlier. I would much rather drive left in Scotland on those ribbon-thin roads than drive on the Autobahn in Germany! I hated driving in Germany and especially hated the Autobahn. They drive at incredible speeds and then tailgate at those speeds! Crazy. Every time American friends would visit, they'd all want to see Salzburg - because of the Sound of Music - and, of course, it was only about an hour away. But via the dread Autobahn. I'd drive them, sure. But they never knew my knees were trembling the whole way there and back! But, yes, Munich is a wonderful city. Otherwise, I am so glad you're enjoying the Allie Mackay books. I adore them and have so much fun writing them. I give the heroines all my own favorite fantasies ... like inheriting a Scottish castle or walking around a cliff-top ruin and slipping back in time to the 14th C. Yes!! I hope you'll enjoy Hardwick's story. Bran of Barra is up next.

ForstRose said...

The British Isles are such a beautiful place and I love historical novels. Some of the things I've heard about Scotland remind me somewhat of my home here in the Pacific NW region of the States.

Like Wendy I would love to visit sometime as the closest disatance wise I've been is London which I know is a far cry from Scotland especially the Highland region.


Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

Still here, Ladies.

Bullrem/Helen B - Thanks so much for looking in here. And for all the good words. You really make me feel good. And I am especially honored because I know you know Scotland very well yourself. So thank you. I'm so glad that you enjoy the threads of Celtic legend and myth and old Highland culture that I so love working into my stories. And, of course, I remember our talk about a possible reader trip over. If ever my deadlines allow, I will look into possibilities. As said, I have friends in the travel industry who could surely help arrange such a thing. And you bet I'd take you along as helpmate. That's set in stone if ever such a tour comes to be. And no I wouldn't choose the dead of winter. Although there is much to say for going then. There are certain winter festivals like the Hogmanay (New Year's Eve) and Rabbie Burns Supper and the great fire festivals like Up-Helly-Aa in Shetland. But I'd choose autumn or spring, I think. Less tourists than high summer and glorious times to be there.

Lorraine - Yes, we're still three hours later than you. It's pushing 11 p.m. here now. You've got me going with your talk of cottages in Scotland. YES!! I hope your daughter does marry that young Scot. You then buy your Inverness cottage and one of these days I will get one up in Sutherland, my beloved far north, and I'll swing by to visit you whenever I head down to see other friends in nearby Nairn. It's a deal. Blogs ... today was great fun, yes. And as you said, I do not do them often. Very rarely. So that makes today's good time all the more special. Absolutely.

Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

Still here, Ladies!

Forstrose/Melissa - Yes, your lovely Pacific Northwest has much in common with Scotland. You have mountains and wonderful seascapes and soft rain and mist. God's country, for sure. I once drove from Vancouver, BC down to Carmel. The whole drive was stunning, but I loved the Oregon coast the best. Very much like Scotland. London. ... London is a fabulous city. I -love- London. Yes, it is world's away from Highland Scotland. But so wonderful in its own right. Thousands of years of history and, like Scotland, so much of the past is still there to see and explore. I haven't been in years, sadly, as I spend all my free time in Scotland. But I would love to go back one of these years. Ideal to me is 3 - 4 nights in London and then the train to Scotland, then a rental car and off to the Highlands. Or maybe with a stop in York on the way. That's another incredible city.

Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

Nichtie-Nicht, Ladies!

Alas, it's nearly one a.m. here and it looks as if most of you have gone. So I'm off as well.

WendyK - Thank you ever so much for having me. You're wonderful and you know how much I love you.

Everyone else - Thanks sooo much for coming by and for making me feel so welcome. I've enjoyed every minute.

I'll look in again one last time in the morning just so no one is missed.

For now...

Happy reading to you all and may your dreams be filled with Highlanders.


Anonymous said...

WOW I always seem to miss out on the good blogs...*SIGH* such is life I guess lol.
I can do a highlander anyway you give him to me, I mean books ya that's it!
I was so looking forward to winning a great scottish book to curl up with since it's getting pretty chilly here (Canada) at night!

Anonymous said...

Oh and Sue-Ellen I forgot to mention that I have to limit my number of visits to your site because my very sweet and loving husband is starting to pull out his very long, beautiful hair with all the talk of "When are you going to take me to Scotland?" LOL

Meljprincess said...

Mary King's Close!
YES! Thank you, Sue-Ellen.

What's the best month to travel to Scotland? September? TA!

Mel K.

Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

Morning After ....

Hello again, Ladies!

As promised, here I am again, one last time, though it's pushing midday here rather than morning. That's because I work in the small hours, often until 3 or 3:30 a.m. My best writing time!


Candy G. - I'm so glad you made it by! Better late than never. I LOVE Canada and am always so pleased to hear from readers there. I used to spend a lot of time in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island. Gorgeous country. Wow. And you have a great sense of humor. 'Doing' Highlanders, indeed. Delicious thought, I agree. Any way you turn it, h'mmm? But your own man sounds wonderful with that nice long hair. I'm glad my websites inspire you to make the trip to Scotland. Let me know when you go.

Meljprincess/MelK - Yep, it had to be Mary King's Close. Amazing place. You'd love it. Thanks again so much for looking in.

And to everyone else - you were all fantastic. I had such a good time. I'll look forward to spending a day with you again next time WendyK lures me out of my hermit cave.

For now...

Scotland aye!

catslady said...

Just wanted to say I'm one of those readers who enjoys anything celtic or highlands and Scotland - I enjoyed Wedding with a Knight ver much.

Meljprincess said...

TA! Sue-Ellen. Ah hope tae win yir ARC.

Mel K. (who still wants tae know the best month tae visit Scotland)

Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

PS Ladies...

Just breaking to walk my little darling (my jack Russell) and looked in one more time.

Meljprincess/MelK - Forgot to say, autumn is my all-time favorite time to be in Scotland. September is lovely, but I prefer later. Now, actually.. Oct. and/or Nov. After that, late spring: late in April or May. I avoid the summer months because it gets crowded. Btw, I know from a Highland friend that the Highlands are bracing for a fierce snowstorm tonight. Pretty early...

Catslady - Thanks so much for chiming in. I'm so glad you enjoy Scottish books. That always makes me happy. And bless you for mentioning Wedding For A Knight. I'm so pleased you loved that one. It remains my own personal favorite of my medievals. I really, really, really love that one. It'll always be special to me.

Anyway, my darling is giving me the doggy evil eye, so I better get out so he can romp and enjoy some fresh air.

Thanks again for the great time and good luck, everyone, when WendyK draws the prizes!


Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

Ha ha, Meljprincess/MelK ...
I forgot to say earlier because I hadn't had my second cup of coffee. I'm lost until have at least three cups!

Anyway ... if I had to chose, I'd say Oct. I prefer Nov., myself, but it gets dark very early then. I love that, but it cuts down on touring time. So, going on my taste: October. Lovely weather, autumn colors, crisp air and peat smoke on the wind, atmospheric mist, and no crowds. After Oct., I'd say May. The hills are golden with whin and broom, bluebells carpet the woods, the air is still brisk, and the crowds haven't arrived yet.

That said, I'd go any time.

Now I'm off with my sweetie before the evil eye gets any worse...

Scotland aye!

Meljprincess said...

Thank you so much, Sue-Ellen. My Mom always asks me that question so we both wanted to know.

I got a picture from my friend in Inverness yesterday and the snow was bad. He told me he had to be really careful so as not to kill himself on the ride home from work. Massive snowstorm!

Mel K.