What's So Great About Scotland?

When I woke this morning, I detected a nip in the air, an unmistakable drop in temperature heralding the approach of autumn.  Here in Colorado, that means getting the snow blower serviced, pulling out your down filled parka, and stocking the pantry with survival food (caramel chocolate bars, tortilla chips, and wine).  Unlike other places in the world, Colorado does not slip gently into that good season.    When the first cool breeze blows, snow is soon to follow.

Rather than mourn the demise of bathing suit season, I made myself a pot of tea and toast with strawberry jam.  For me, tea and toast slathered with strawberry jam are inextricably linked with autumn.

I blame it on Scotland. 

Several years ago, my best friend nagged/bargained/convinced me to go on a three week tour of the United Kingdom with her.  I was the reluctant tourist.  Not because I loathe travel.  On the contrary.  J’adore travel!  But at that time, France and I were still in our honeymoon stage.  Frankly, I was eyelids deep in love with Paris and couldn’t imagine being unfaithful. 


Our phone conversations turned into word association battles.

“Buckingham Palace,” she would say.
Versailles.” I would counter. “‘Nuff said.”
“Victoria and Albert.”
“The Louvre.”
“Fish and chips,” she would cry.
“Croissants and champagne!”

Boo-yah!  At that point, she would usually fall silent and I would feel victorious.  I mean, who can argue with pain au chocolat and champagne for breakfast?  Um.  Nobody.

In the end, her passion for all things Scots, and my desire to spend QT with my best girlfriend, had me heading to Kayak to purchase round-trip tickets to London.  

Since this isn’t a travel piece, I will just give you a written montage of the first portion of our journey:  Tower of London.  High tea.  Shopping at Harrods.  Getting arrested by Buckingham Palace Guards.  Castle.  Castle.  Brighton (where I stared longingly across the Channel at my beloved France).  Jane Austen’s Bath.  Wales.  Harry Potter’s castle, Alnwich.  And then…

After a whirlwind tour of Edinburgh, we headed to our cottage, perched on a hill overlooking a sheep farm near Strathpeffer.  We spent the next week doing what girlfriends do when they are together: talk, laugh, shop, rescue critically ill sheep.

We hiked to the top of paps and yodeled like the people in the Ricola commercials.  We fell in love with the sturdy, plucky West Highland Terriers we saw in village parks and vowed we would each adopt one someday.  We tried Drambuie at the tavern where it was first made.  We walked between standing stones and hoped to be transported through time into the arms of a brave, brawny Scotsman, like Claire in Outlander.  We tromped through bogs in our brand new shiny Wellies, and returned to the cottage to feast on toast slathered with Mackays Strawberry Conserve. 

Order Finding It
And just like that, I made room in my heart for a new lovah: Scotland. 
So, when I sat down to plot out Finding It, book two of my It Girls series, I knew I had to set the book in Scotland.  The It Girls books are all about self-exploration and growth, broadening one’s horizons through travel, and building the best, most enriching friendships one can build. 

Sure, they are romance novels – which means there are sexy, charming men and some crazy-hot-monkey sex – but at their core, they are about how true friendships motivate, mold, and sustain us. 

My best friend motivated me to visit Scotland.  The memories we made that autumn have molded me into a different writer and sustained me when the darker side of life has closed in.  So, to answer the question posed to me by the editor of this blog – “Why did you place your novel in Scotland?” – Because I couldn’t think of a better setting for a novel about adventure, love, and friendship.

Castle on the Hill
Corgarff Castle, Highlands

Angus' Stones
Standing Stones on a farm near Dingwall

Follow the Leader
Sheep beside a sign in Gaelic, high in the Highlands

Hairy Coo
Highlands Cows near Culloden Battlefield

Bucolic Beauty
A hay field near Castle Fraser, Highlands

The Real Angus
Angus and his sheep, Shep, his faithful collie is popping his head up to the left of the photo,
Near Dingwall

My Buddy
After a few visits, Shep has become my good buddy.
I am even wearing a beanie with the words, "Get a wee, wee bye, Shep!"
 - the words Angus uses to encourages Shep to round up the herd.

Under a Blue Heaven
Pasture in the Highlands

True Friendship
Cindy is such a great friend, she let me talk her into
wearing ridiculous hats and posing in the pasture with
the sheep.  (To be fair, it didn't take a lot of convincing)

Moody Sky
The northern coast of Scotland

Here I am, just chilling in my Beatles tee and beanie,
watching the surf roll in.

It's All Mine
Striking my trademark pose outside Glamis Castle

In the Gloaming
Edinburgh just before nightfall

Old Town Edinburgh

New Town Edinburgh

Sunset on the Stones
One of my favorite things to do in Scotland is take
an evening hike and watch the sun set over the stones

Stones and the Heavens

Darkness Falls

Me and Bridget Jones: Unapologetically Adorkable

"Chick Lit is soooo last century."
"Oh my god!  I know, right?"
"They're all fashion, fun, and female empowerment."
"Eww!  Who wants to read a novel about some sad woman stumbling through life in overpriced designer shoes?"

I was standing in my local bookstore when I overheard the above conversation and I literally had to stop myself from raising my hand, jumping up and down, and crying, "Oo!  Me!  Me!  I want to read about a less-than-perfect woman balancing life, love, and lustful pursuits in a pair of fabulous Louboutins!”

But then, I have always been the hot pink mini in the closet full of little black dresses.  Remember Joan Cusack’s bit part in the movie Sixteen Candles?  The comically, awkward girl in the back brace, trying valiantly to take a sip from the water fountain.  Yeah, that’s me.  When everyone else was reading time travel romance, I was reading (and writing) historical fiction.  When everyone else was reading zombie/vampire/shape shifter romances, I was reading sweet Women’s Fiction.  Now, as readers are clamoring for the next big dystopian society read or 50 Shades knockoff, I am reading (and writing) light, breezy Chick Lit.


Because Bridget Jones changed my life.  Actually, her Diary changed my life.  It's probably cliché for a Chick Lit author to say Helen Fielding's bestseller inspired her to write a funny, female empowerment story, but it's true. 

I get girls like Bridget because, behind my smiling facade, my expensively maintained mane of blonde hair, my seemingly together act, I am an awkward, inadvertently comical girl.  I am stumbling through life (sadly, sans Louboutins), meeting challenges with a quirky, self-depreciating kind of humor.

If we were invited to the same party, you would find me in the corner laughing with the clique of women who don’t take themselves too seriously, who possess a joie de vivre, and a hunger to connect.  Across the room would be the badass vampire slayers, leather clad dominatrices, and bow-toting tributes.  I would complement the vampire slayer on her fab jewel encrusted crucifix, ask the dominatrix if her bustier was from Prada’s Fall line, and get Katniss talking about her love for Peeta.  The other crowd would tolerate me, but snicker as I walked away.  The hardcore, end-of-the world saviors and other-world slayers would say I am pathetically LB (legally blonde). 

And I would be okay with that.  Bridget and her peeps have taught me it’s okay to move through life with designer rose colored glasses, to apply liberal doses of laughter to all that ails you, to unapologetically strive for empowerment, and to surround yourself with a colorful cast of slightly awkward, totally lovable characters.

Faking It, book one of my
bestselling It Girls series, is
available now.  Click here
to order your copy!

The laughter continues with
Finding It, book two of 
the It Girls series.  Click
here to get your copy!

Will Vivia's BFF find a destiny
more valuable than Dior?  Will
she find a hot romance in 
cold Alaska?  Pre-order