Fireside chat with Sarah and Robert from A Shadow in the Past

Today, I have the pleasure of not just one guest in the “hot seat” for a fireside chat, but two. Sarah Shand and Robert Robertson, from Melanie Robertson-King’s novel, A Shadow in the Past, are with me here today.

fireside chat

Welcome to both of you. I have a selection of single malts, if you want something to drink, along with some chilled bubbly. If you prefer something non-alcoholic, I got in some Irn Bru. I believe that’s Scotland’s other national drink? The ice bucket is full. I have some lovely nibbles, too. Haggis in puff pastry, oatcakes with Isle of Mull or Strathdon Blue cheese (Sarah wrinkles her nose) and of course, shortbread.

Sarah:  Pulls the tab on a tin of Irn Bru. “Thanks for inviting us. It’s great to be here. And yes, Irn Bru has been referred to as Scotland’s other national drink.”

“So happy to host you. You’re sure you don’t want a glass of bubbly?”

Sarah: “Maybe after our interview. I like champagne but it goes straight to my head.”

Robert: Chuckles. His golden brown eyes sparkle and a dimple forms in his cheek. “She’s right. If you want to get any sense out of her, keep her on the Irn Bru. Otherwise, she’ll babble on and you won’t understand a single thing she says. I’m going to have a wee dram of Glen Garioch, though, if you don’t mind.”

“Of course not, do help yourself. Now have I heard this correctly, you two had a rather unusual first meeting?”

Sarah and Robert: Giggle. “You’re right there.”

Robert: “You tell it, Sarah. It sounds so much better when you do.”

Sarah: Shifts in her chair. “You or your readers aren’t going to believe this. I still don’t.” Reaches out and takes Robert’s hand. “I’m a bit nervous.”

“Don’t be. Go on, then.”

Sarah: “Okay. I had been at the stone circle on my parents’ farm and the next thing I know, I’m waking up on a sofa at Weetshill mansion. The mansion is visible from the hill where the stone circle is but it’s a couple of miles away. How I got from one place to the other, I don’t know.”

“That’s not overly unusual.”

Sarah: “This is where things get weird. When I was at the stone circle, the year was 2010. When I woke up on the sofa at Weetshill, I was back in 1886.”

Takes a sip of bubbly and coughs.

Robert: “I heard a noise outside the front door so went to investigate. I found her passed out on the ground. At first I thought she was a laddie because she wore trousers. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered she was a lassie, and a rather pretty one at that.”

Sarah: Blushes. “You say the sweetest things. I’ve never really thought of myself as that. Ordinary and some days it stretches to moderately attractive but never pretty.”

“That is a most unusual meeting. So Robert, Weetshill mansion, it sounds like you’re well-to-do. What do you do for a living?”

Robert: “I’m the Laird of Weetshill.”

“So like Hector MacDonald in the television program Monarch of the Glen.”

Robert: “I don’t know what you mean.”

Blushes and pats him on the knee. “I’m sorry. I forgot for a moment you’re from the Victorian era.”

Sarah: “I know what you mean. And Robert is nothing like Hector MacDonald. If you want to compare him to one of the characters in the show, I would say he’s more like Archie.”

Smiles. “I always liked Archie. Thought he was a handsome fellow. As are you, too, Robert.”

Robert: Blushes. “Thank you.”

Sarah: “He’s so modest. That’s one of the things I love about him.” Reaching over and squeezing his hand.

Picks up the book and flips through it. “I’d like to ask you some more questions about your relationship.”

fireside chat

Robert: Holds up his hand. “I have to stop you there, I’m afraid. We don’t want to spoil it for Melanie’s readers. We can’t tell everything here because then they wouldn’t buy the book and that would never do.”

Traces her index finger over the cover. “Right, right, but you can’t blame me for wanting to know. I love this cover. The artist has captured your essence beautifully, Sarah.”

Sarah: “Actually, Melanie designed the cover. She did a brilliant job of portraying me. And you have to believe that because I’m not one to be ‘out there’ and now look at me. Not only did Melanie write the book, create this brilliant cover, she also created a book trailer.”

“Trailer, like you see for advertising films.”

Sarah: “Yes. Let’s watch it.”

 

“It’s amazing. The music adds an air of mystery and suspense.”

Robert: “That is does.”

Where can A Shadow in the Past be purchased?”

Sarah:

amazon (paperback and kindle)

kobo

and in paperback

Barnes and Noble

Books a Million

Diesel

There you have it, folks. The first in what I hope will be a number of fireside chats with characters from Melanie’s books. I hope you enjoyed it.

 

Irish traditions ~ St Patrick’s Day!

Irish

Aye, the luck o’ the Irish… who else could find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Certainly not this girl. But shamrocks and leprechauns are part of the Irish folklore and tradition.

And the movie Waking Ned Devine takes place in Ireland. Only in the movies could that convoluted a plan to claim the lottery winnings happen. My favourite part of the movie (apart from watching Jackie and Michael tearing around the countryside on a motorcycle in their birthday suits) was the beautiful scenery of the country.

I’ve schmoozed with Royalty having met Princess Anne but we never had the opportunity to chat about our favourite tipple – mostly our families and my connection to the place where we met. However, I do have one thing in common with former President Obama and his First Lady – Guinness! Although, I find it doesn’t taste as good here as there. Maybe because it’s too chilled in my part of the world? Dunno.

Irish
By Pete Souza (Executive Office of the President of the United States) (White House Flickr) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
There is an art to pulling the perfect pint and it looks like the First Lady has mastered it, even under extremely close scrutiny…

And how about a tune suitable to the occasion when many of your have partaken in copious amounts of green beer and/or Irish Whisky.

I’ll close this post with the Irish proverb…

May your glass be ever full.
May the roof over your head be always strong.
And may you be in heaven
half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.

Happy Pi Day! #math #constant

If it’s March 14th, it must be Pi Day!

These first photos don’t have much to do with it being Pi Day but follow along with my ‘twisted’ logic, and you’ll see where I’m going with this.

On a trip to the UK in 2005, we travelled through Wales and came along this chambered tomb. Those are some huge boulders, I can tell you. See anything looking a little pi-ish?

pi day
St Lythans Chambered Tomb, South Wales

Why don’t I outline what I see as our mathematical friend Pi in the picture? Does this make it easier to pick out our little buddy?

pi day
St Lythans Chambered Tomb, South Wales

And finally, filled in, well sort of. See it better now?

pi day
St Lythans Chambered Tomb, South Wales

and finally Pi itself.

pi day

I made this short video so you can see the transition from the first picture to the last.

Pi Day

So enjoy the day and when you think of it, remember our little friend 3.14159.

Home again, home again

All good things come to an end, and so did our trip to Vieux-Québec. It will feel good to be back home again and sleeping in our bed, but the break was an excellent chance to see the beautiful city and recharge our batteries.

The plan was to have an early breakfast at the hotel then get on the road. Things didn’t turn out quite that way. Between busloads of students and the Pee Wee hockey tournament, the hotel’s restaurant was full and people were lined up down the stairs and into the lobby to get a table.

Off to Cosmos, we went. We’d eaten there before, and their breakfast was good. The bonus was the lack of line up for food. Things changed quickly though after we arrived. People who were tired of waiting at the hotel joined us.

I had my phone with me, so after we finished eating, I took on the ice slide outside the restaurant. By now there was a lot of sandy snow on its surface which made it difficult to get moving. But as you can see, I did.

I even struck a pose afterwards.

We got Buddy all settled into his place in the backseat where he can look out the window, and we were off.

The stats for today weren’t worth getting excited over. I beat my daily step goal but compared to the previous days; I couldn’t consider myself an over-achiever.

 

 

Carnaval ~ Everyone is doing it

At breakfast, we decided to get a picture of our room from outside the hotel. We knew we were behind the one bank of elevators and at the end of the corridor between them was a window. We left the curtains open unevenly so the window would be easier to spot from the ground.

Carnaval

As always, we seem to migrate directly to Dufferin Terrace. This one bench was the most exposed of all of them. Getting down was one thing. Getting back up, was something completely different. I was like my friend in Scotland said once “you’re like a buck-it yowe.” Something to do with a ewe that is unable to get up.

Carnaval

My little Wienerschnitzel, Buddy, is turning into quite a little ham.

Carnaval

We watched the folks who were brave (crazy) enough to do the toboggan run. Hubby wanted to do it. Refer to the word in brackets above. With there being three lanes and a substantial barrier between each, you have to keep your feet tucked up into the person’s in front of your lap, or be the driver and have “vos pieds” under the curved front.

This man and his dogs (Mona & Lisa) were there every day. He’s meant to be a fur trapper. As you can see, hubby is wearing a coonskin over his head. The dogs have lovely fur beds to sit or lie down on, as well as booties to keep their feet warm and the road salt off.

Carnaval

I envision the streets and sidewalks in my book, It Happened on Dufferin Terrace, looking like this. I know Serenity wasn’t in Vieux-Québec during the winter carnival, but still, it’s white and crisp and beautiful as it was in my book.

Carnaval

We worked our way back to Rue du Petit Champlain and the park where the Smurf house and other ice sculptures were located. And yes, the wee ham is at it again. This one was too slippery for him, so he needed a bit of assistance.

Carnaval

Remember the ice slide I mentioned in an earlier post? Well, here I am. Not video but it will do. Even with a long down-filled coat, it was still chilly on the butt.

Carnaval

Back uphill and we met up with the Mad Hatter again. This time with three of her friends. By the time this photo was taken, the third one had gone off to talk to someone else.

Carnaval

After another fun visit with the Mad Hatter and her friends, we carried on up the street to the Pub Saint Alexandre where we enjoyed a few drinks before returning to Simons where I bought three bottle lights. I already had a clear one so this time I got them in grey, yellow and rose. I wanted another spoon rest like the ones I bought there previously, but they didn’t have any.

Back to the hotel with these purchases (no sense carting things around if you don’t have to).

After a fuel stop at the hotel and having the other bottle of champagne we brought with us, we headed back inside the wall to the pub (we told the girls we’d be back). I looked up the manual for my camera and re-learned how to shoot video with it. This time it worked!

I have two clips of hubby on the slide in front of Cosmos, but a little girl is in the other one waiting for her turn. I opted not to use that one because of that.

I’ve really created a monster. Now the little Wienerschnitzel is taking selfies. I think he best stick to having others take his photo. His poor legs are too short to get the camera a decent distance away from himself.

Carnaval

This was our last night in Vieux-Québec so we wanted to make the most of it, despite the fact we turned into pumpkins around 9:00 (sometimes earlier) each night. But with the fresh air and all the walking, it’s no wonder we were tired.

Feb 14 (and this was a travel day)
13,167 steps
5.24 miles
22 floors

Feb 15
17,150 steps
6.82 miles
33 floors

Feb 16
20,675 steps
8.22 miles
33 floors

Feb 17
23,830 steps
9.48 miles
59 floors

 

Sunny Saturday

Well, after a few flurries early in the morning, the day turned out to be gorgeous. With sunny days in the winter, the temperatures are colder, but we were well prepared.

After breakfast at the hotel, we were off. Our first stop was the slide outside Cosmos. Hubby took Buddy down it. Too bad I didn’t remember how to shoot video (a function I might use once a year at the most with my Canon). With my murky – no completely absent memory – all I got was this shot when he stood up at the bottom. Not what I planned on at all. However; he received accolades and high-fives from folks on the sidewalk afterwards. 😄

sunny

Despite my inept video shoot, they do look like they had fun, don’t they?

Further down the street outside the ice castle, there was a sculpture of a VIA train engine. What guy can’t resist pretending he’s driving a train?

sunny

Or a girl and her dog for that matter, even if he is a stuffed one?

sunny

There is so much snow on Dufferin Terrace that most of the benches are buried under it. Said snow crunched under our feet as we walked.

sunny

My favourite street in all of Vieux-Québec, Rue Sous-le-Cap, is once again open from one end to the other. This narrow street at the base of the cliff was closed for some time because of a rock slide.

sunny

It might be open, but it wasn’t all that easy to traverse with only tire tracks to walk in and slip and slide as one struggled for traction.

sunny

At the other end, the cars had been buried under blown snow (either by wind or mechanical means). I wonder if the one who left the bumper imprint was cleaned off entirely when it departed?

sunny

We don’t usually walk with canes, but when you’re on ice and snow, it’s nice to have a little extra support. Ice-picks affixed to the tip work well. Although we walked up the hill a few times, we took advantage of the funiculaire to ride to the top on this occasion.

By riding up the hill, we arrived in time to watch this performance. A freighter going upriver and the ferries leaving the ports of Québec and Lévis at the same time. It’s quite the water ballet.

sunny

The plan was to visit Simons after this display of navigational coordination. Who did we run into on our way there? The Mad Hatter! One can’t visit Carnaval and not take the time to speak with someone this famous (or should I say infamous). There were other people in costume in the area but they were otherwise occupied talking with other folks.

sunny

We did get to Simons and this time wasn’t out of necessity, but luxury. I love the quality of their wool socks so I stocked up.

It was later in the afternoon so we decided to have a few drinks and an early supper before returning to our room. Between the time we left the store and got to the Pub Saint Alexandre, a young man (not dressed for the weather) asked hubby if he could take a picture with him. We both think the lad thought “homeless” the way hubby carried the Simons bag on his cane over his shoulder.

The girls working behind the bar loved Buddy. I mean what’s not to love? Look at that face.

sunny

He’s welcome there anytime because he was so well behaved.

sunny

A few drinks and fish supper later, we headed back to our hotel after a stop at the Mary’s Popcorn outlet up the street. The small bag of chocolate popcorn we bought previously tasted like more.

A beautiful moon made the walk back to our accommodations even more romantic.

 

 

 

 

 

Red sky in morning …

The adage “red sky at night, sailor’s delight, red sky in morning, sailor’s warning” summed up Friday, the 15th perfectly. Look at the beautiful sunrise in the first two pictures. Gorgeous, isn’t it?
red sky

red sky

How about now? This picture is of the same view as when we arrived, but the snow was so heavy, practically the entire vista vanished. The tower on the Parliament Building is barely visible!

red sky

After breakfast, we girded our loins and headed off to the Metro supermarket on Avenue Cartier for more French’s Sweet Onion Mustard, which is no longer available in Ontario. 😒

Some of the restaurants along Grande-Allée had ice sculptures in their patio areas, but the best ones were in Lower Town. These are just a few.

red sky
Yogi Bear and Booboo
red sky
one of the smurfs

Created from ice, and it’s a slide! Okay, there’s some bare plywood showing. Remember this picture.

red sky
ice slide

Back to the sculptures.

red sky
Shaun the Sheep
redsky
Three little pigs

When we reached this spot, we were asked to take a photo of a group of people with Bonhomme. The young lady taking the picture wanted to be included, so handed me her phone and I snapped some pictures for her. In return, she captured this one of us. If you look closely, you can see Buddy’s nose sticking out of the ‘book’ bag between Bonhomme and me.

red sky
with Bonhomme

And still more sculptures.

red sky
Snoopy and Charlie Brown
red sky
Bambi

So much snow already on the ground, and now with today’s dumping, folks were removing the snow and icicles from their roofs and eaves. This wet stuff was perfect snowman making snow, and with too much weight, a roof could collapse.

red sky

After riding the funiculaire to the top of the cliff, we trundled off to Pub Saint Alexandre for a well-deserved drink and a chance to dry out. While there, we bought official Carnaval tuques. Our stuff was so wet; I didn’t think it would be dry by morning and wandering about in the cold in damp clothing does not bode well for one’s health.

This arch was outside Cosmos where we had supper. Just out of the picture on the left is another ice slide.

red sky

Tomorrow is Saturday, and they say it will be a fine day. We’ll see if they’re right.

 

 

Love is in the air … and adventures, too

It’s going to be a year of adventures for us, but for now, I’m concentrating on our recent trip to Quebec City, Vieux-Québec in particular.

What better time to arrive in this beautiful old city than Valentine’s Day?

On this trip, we stayed in a different hotel than on previous occasions. Our usual hostelry had no rooms available for the duration of our stay. However, its sister hotel around the corner fit the bill quite nicely.

I love older hotels or bed and breakfasts because of their character, but they lack some amenities – like elevators.

Hôtel Le Concorde not only provided us with a stunning room on the topmost floor (26th) with a fantastic view down the Grande Allée but underground valet parking, too.

adventures

I said the view was fantastic.

After settling in and enjoying one of the bottles of champagne we brought with us, we set out. I had to get my Simons fix, although this time it was a necessity rather than a luxury. It seems in the course of packing and rearranging; I left my tuque and scarf behind. Winter and not having those, especially when a snowstorm was in the forecast for the next day, not a good idea.

Suitably attired, we wandered down to the Lower Town where we stopped at Sapristi‘s Petit Champlain location, which we discovered on our trip in November, for our supper, followed by The Fudgerie to stock up on our chocolate, and finally the last stop before returning to our room was Mary’s Popcorn.

Suitably fortified with sweets and snacks for the rest of our time in Vieux-Québec, we headed back to our hotel.

 

 

 

 

 

2nd edition of A Shadow in the Past is in the kindle and kobo stores

Here it is all shiny and new! The 2nd edition of A Shadow in the Past.
2nd edition of A Shadow in the Past

 

Finally, the day has arrived where I can tell you the 2nd edition of A Shadow in the Past is available for purchase in the kindle and kobo stores!

Blurb

When a contemporary teen is transported back in time to the Victorian era, she becomes A Shadow in the Past…
 
Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself in Victorian Era Aberdeenshire, Scotland and has no idea how she got there. Her last memory is of being at the stone circle on the family farm in the year 2010.
 
Despite having difficulty coming to terms with her situation, Sarah quickly learns she must keep her true identity a secret. Still, she feels stifled by the Victorians’ confining social practices, including arranged marriages between wealthy and influential families, and confronts them head only to suffer the consequences.
 
When Sarah realizes she has fallen in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, she faces an agonizing decision. Does she try to find her way back to 2010 or remain in the past with the man she loves?

Buy Links

I’M A READER’S CHOICE NOMINEE

Not me, but my book!

Toot! Toot! My novel is a nominee in the thriller category!

nominee

Yes, you read that correctly. YESTERDAY TODAY ALWAYS is a nominee in the thriller category of the  2019 Reader’s Choice awards.

Blurb

Who is stalking Katherine and why?

Still reeling from the death of her husband in the London Bombings, Katherine builds a wall around her heart to prevent further hurt.

In a serendipitous moment her first love, Jared Martin walks back into her life. Old feelings are rekindled but as their second-chance-relationship develops, another cruel twist of fate strikes. The helicopter Jared is a passenger on ditches in the North Sea.

Who, if anyone, will survive the ordeal? Is fate still not done its dirty deeds?

Will a reckless moment from her past come back to haunt her?

Contains adult content, violence, and strong language. 18+ recommended.

 

You can only vote one time per category so I hope you’ll make it count by voting for YESTERDAY TODAY ALWAYS at https://www.tckpublishing.com/2019-readers-choice-voting-page/

You can purchase your own copy of YESTERDAY TODAY ALWAYS from these retailers.

Amazon

Kobo

Books a Million

Barnes & Noble paperback

Nook

iBookstore

Cheers, and thanks for you vote!

My Scottish roots and writing by Melanie Robertson-King