Category Archives: Aberdeenshire

A Shadow in the Past – the real locations and inspiration behind the novel

There were a number of things that influenced and inspired me to write my debut novel, A Shadow in the Past. Here are some of them.

Start with one spooky, derelict mansion…

A Shadow in the Past
Weetshill mansion

Add one ancient stone circle…

A Shadow in the Past
The stone circle on Gordonsfield Farm

Sprinkle in a narrow country lane…

A Shadow in the Past
The lane leading to Weetshill mansion

Lined with ghostly trees…

A Shadow in the Past
The lane leading to Weetshill mansion

Add a generous dollop of old graveyard…

A Shadow in the Past
The Old Kendonald Kirkyard

One full-sized headstone…

A Shadow in the Past
The Robertson headstone (my grandparents’ stone) in the Old Kendonald Kirkyard

Spice it up with a village hall…

A Shadow in the Past
Kendonald Village Hall

One lunatic asylum…

A Shadow in the Past
The lunatic asylum at Ladysbridge

One small country church…

A Shadow in the Past
Old Kendonald Kirk

And lastly a smidgeon of Aberdeen…

A Shadow in the Past
The Salvation Army Citadel in Aberdeen

Mix well.

Add characters…

A Shadow in the Past
A family portrait (my grandfather and his first wife believed to commemmorate their wedding day)

Let all the ingredients simmer then write, write some more, re-write, re-write some more.

When finished it looks like this…

A Shadow in the Past
My novel’s cover created by Aidana WillowRaven

Blurb:

Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself thrust back into the past. There she struggles to keep her real identity from a society that finds her comments and ideas strange and her speech and actions forward, unlike Victorian women. When Sarah verbally confronts confining social practices, including arranged marriages, powerful enemies commit her to a lunatic asylum. After falling in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, Robert Robertson, she must decide whether to find her way back to her own time or to remain in the past with him.

Where to buy:

4RV Publishing: http://www.4rvpublishingcatalog.com/robertson-king.php

Amazon.ca: http://www.amazon.ca/Shadow-Past-Melanie-Robertson-King/dp/0983801886/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1346607916&sr=1-1

ChaptersIndigo: http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/A-Shadow-In-The-Past-Melanie-Robertson-king/9780983801887-item.html?ikwid=a+shadow+in+the+past&ikwsec=Home

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Past-Melanie-Robertson-King/dp/0983801886/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1344434406&sr=1-1

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-shadow-in-the-past-melanie-robertson-king/1112348992?ean=9780983801887

Amazon.co.uk:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shadow-Past-Melanie-Robertson-King/dp/0983801886/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1344434484&sr=1-1

A Shadow in the Past is also available at amazon for the Kindle (using the same links), Barnes & Noble for the nook, Kobobooks, and the iBookstore.

It’s Tell a Story Day

It’s “Tell A Story Day”!

Well, in Scotland and England it is. And since my heart belongs to Scotland, and I have family and friends in both countries, need I say more?

Okay, so in keeping with the day, here’s my story…

tell a story

Blurb:

Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself thrust back into the past. There she struggles to keep her real identity from a society that finds her comments and ideas strange and her speech and actions forward, unlike Victorian women. When Sarah verbally confronts confining social practices, including arranged marriages; powerful enemies commit her to a lunatic asylum. After falling in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, Robert Robertson, she must decide whether to find her way back to her own time or to remain in the past with him.

Now isn’t that a great story? I think so, but then I’m biased.

~~~~~~~~~~

You can buy A Shadow from the Past in print or ebook from:

Publisher:  http://www.4rvpublishingcatalog.com/robertson-king.php
Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Past-Melanie-Robertson-King-ebook/dp/B00IGLS692/
Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-shadow-in-the-past-melanie-robertson-king/1112348992?ean=9780983801887
Kobo:  http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/a-shadow-in-the-past-1

You can follow me here at Celtic Connexions or at:

Website: http://www.melanierobertson-king.com/
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Melanie-Robertson-King/221018701298979
Twitter Account: @RobertsoKing https://twitter.com/RobertsoKing
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6543072.Melanie_Robertson_King

 

#AtoZChallenge – S is for SHADOWS FROM HER PAST

Shadows from Her Past

I’m currently sitting at just over 62,000 words in my first draft and my target length is 85,000. This book hasn’t progressed as quickly as I had hoped but I’ve not totally thrown in the towel yet, either.

I don’t have a cover to show you but as the book hasn’t progressed to that stage, I can’t.

a shadow in the past cover 500x773Here is the cover image for my first book. I see my name and the title Shadows from Her Past exactly how they are here. Keep the ‘author brand’ continuity if you will.

I also see the past and present being represented much as they are here but, shall we say, in a more modest setting. Present looking into the past and the two characters who are most important to the heroine appearing with her in the mirror’s reflection.

What do you think of my vision?

Blurb for Shadows from Her Past:

Sarah finds herself back in her time without her husband, Robert, and adopted daughter, Jenny. When she sees visions of them appear, Sarah doesn’t know if it’s her imagination or if they’re really there trying to break through the constraints of time and space.

David Robb, a student doctor at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary who has been assigned to her case, bears a familial resemblance to Robert. Sarah develops feelings for him but also feels like she is betraying her husband, despite them being centuries apart.

Will Sarah make a new life with David in the present, or will she find her way back to her husband and daughter in the past?

~~~~~~~~

Keep coming back for news regarding Shadows from her Past. In the meantime, you can purchase book one in the series – A Shadow in the Past in paperback from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Chapters, and local bricks ‘n mortar bookstores.

If you’d prefer to buy it as an ebook, all you have to do is click on the logo of your choice to download it. The link for all the amazon domains is the same, you just have to change the .co.uk to your own.

Character interview with a twist…

Character interview

In most character interviews you see, it’s the character being interviewed. This time, it’s the character being the interviewer as opposed to the interviewee. My main character from A Shadow in the Past, Sarah Shand, interviewed me over at her blog, Sarah’s Place the other day.

We talked about A Shadow in the Past, the second book in that series, Shadows from her Past, author brand and other things. She asked some pretty tough questions. You can read the full interview here.

About Sarah:

cartoon SarahI live in rural Aberdeenshire with my parents, sister, and ginger and white cat, Murphy, on our farm (Gordonsfield) near the village of Kendonald.

When I’m not with them, I live in the year 1886 at Weetshill mansion with the laird Robert Robertson and his staff.

If you think going back to the past and knowing what you do now is fun, let me tell you, it isn’t. But then I’m probably telling tales out of school.

The best way to find out is to buy a copy of Melanie’s novel, A Shadow in the Past, and find out for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

It was twenty years ago today…

And no it’s nothing to do with Sgt Pepper teaching the band to play.

It was twenty years ago today (on this date is more accurate), I first set foot on Scottish soil. I had wanted to do this for quite some time but it never seemed to be even the remotest possibility. But, this year I had an extra year’s holiday leave from my job so it was “I’m doing it.”

We weren’t in a position for the entire family to go on this adventure so my hubby stayed home with our two young children and off I went.

There were a lot of firsts on this trip.

  • First time flying. Yup, my first time and I’m going on my own and crossing the ocean. I’ve never done anything by halves before, so why start at that point in my life?
  • First time in Scotland.
  • First time meeting family that I knew of but had only written to (and not email) and exchanged Christmas cards with.
  • First trip to the orphanage where my father and four of his siblings were raised.
  • First time seeing where he was born and staying at Earlsfield Farm.
  • Maybe most importantly of all, first time driving on the wrong side of the road on the wrong side of the car and shifting gears with the wrong hand.

See what I mean about a lot of firsts?

Cottage 1 Quarriers Village - Broadfield Home
My father and his brothers, George and Andy, stayed here in Broadfield Home (Cottage 1).
Cottage 13 - Quarriers Village
My father’s sisters, Barbara and Christina, stayed here in Cottage 13

When I first drove by the signpost for Weets on my way to Earlsfield Farm just outside Kennethmont, I got all weepy. Weets was where my father was born.

Image2
The road to Weets
Image21
Scenery near Kennethmont

From the first time I clapped eyes on this spooky old hulk, I fell in love with it. I bet those old stone walls are filled with stories and maybe even a ghost or two. What do you think?

Image6
The ruins of Wardhouse mansion.

So that’s my twenty years ago adventure. Being on my own, I spent all my time behind the camera, and to this day I’m still more comfortable on that side.

What were some of your “huge” firsts? I’d love to hear about them.

 

And the winner is!

Congratulations to the winner of my

2014 A Shadow in the Past wall calendar!

a shadow in the past 2014 calendarIsn’t it beautiful? Every month has a different full colour photograph (taken by moi) of something “A Shadow in the Past“.

How well do you think you did at guessing the various locations where Sarah Shand turned up each day?

Day 1

Seeking Sarah Shand
At The Caledonian Hotel
Seeking Sarah Shand
In our room at High Cliff

Day 2

Seeking Sarah Shand
On the Jacobite train at the Glenfinnan Station
Seeking Sarah Shand
On the platform in Mallaig
Seeking Sarah Shand
In our room at Myrtle Bank

Day 3

Seeking Sarah Shand
At Balvenie Castle
Seeking Sarah Shand
In our room at Fernbank House

Day 4

Seeking Sarah Shand
At Dunnideer
Seeking Sarah Shand
In our room at Earlsfield Farm

Day 5

Seeking Sarah Shand
Waiting at the Insch train station

Day 6

Seeking Sarah Shand
At the entrance to the Old Kirkyard in Kennethmont
Seeking Sarah Shand
With the Pictish stones at the Rhynie cemetery
Seeking Sarah Shand
At the stone circle at Earlsfield Farm

Day 8 (we didn’t play on Day 7 as it was my launch at the Rannes Hall in Kennethmont)

Seeking Sarah Shand
At The Empress of India Restaurant in Kelso
Seeking Sarah Shand
In our room at Duncan House

Day 9

Seeking Sarah Shand
At the Cross Butts Stable Restaurant
Seeking Sarah Shand
In our room at Beechwood Guesthouse

Day 10

Seeking Sarah Shand
At The Bell
Seeking Sarah Shand
In our room at The Old Forge

Day 11

Seeking Sarah Shand
At The Bell Hotel in Tewkesbury

I thought having the map beside the book was a dead giveaway in this one but apparently that wasn’t always the case.

Seeking Sarah Shand
At Wetherspoons in Harrogate
Seeking Sarah Shand
In our room at Fountains Guest House

Day 12

Seeking Sarah Shand
At Bolton Abbey
Seeking Sarah Shand
At Smiths Hotel in Gretna Green
Seeking Sarah Shand
In our room at Barrasgate House

Day 13

Seeking Sarah Shand
At Caerlaverock Castle
Seeking Sarah Shand
At Sweetheart Abbey
Seeking Sarah Shand
In our room at Tigh-An-Struan Guest House in Largs

Day 14

Seeking Sarah Shand
In our room at the Holiday Inn at Glasgow Airport

So how did you do? Get all of them right? Some of them right? None of them right?

It’s been a close race – neck and neck right down to the wire between two participants. It was really difficult to say who would finish with the most correct answers. But in the end, one emerged victorious.

And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for… the winner is… Grace!

Congratulations Grace. Please contact me via email at melanie@melanierobertson-king.com to arrange having your prize delivered.

 

 

The Giveaway ends at Midnight!

The Seeking Sarah Shand Giveaway

Today is the last day you can enter to win  2014 A Shadow in the Past calendar. Don’t be disappointed. Enter today. You don’t have to know much – or even anything – about Scotland. The clues are in the text portion of each day’s blog post. Using that information, you guess where the photos were taken.

You’ve seen the cover many times – a stone circle, which I think is an excellent wa to convey a time-travel set in Scotland.

But now you get to see the pictures that will grace each and every month…

January

Image21
Tap O’Noth from the Gordonsfield Farm road

February

image 14
Gordonsfield farmhouse

March

Image9
Gordsonfield farm from the stone circle

April

Image2
The road to Weetshill mansion

May

Image8
The railway line near the old kirkyard

June

Image4
The ghostly trees lining the road to Weetshill mansion

July

Image6
Weetshill mansion – in the present

August

Image1
Ruins in the field behind Gordonsfield farmhouse

September

image 19
The Old Kirkyard in Kendonald

October

Image7
The Robertson stone in the Old Kirkyard

November

Image5
Weetshill Railway Station – today

December

image 18
The Salvation Army Citadel in the Castlegate in Aberdeen

These photos were all taken by me on my trips to Scotland in 1993 and 1997, long before A Shadow in the Past came to be, even in its earlier novella form of Sarah’s Gift.

Now that you’ve seen all the months’ photos, don’t you want to win one? You can. It’s easy. Visit the daily posts of my trip to Scotland (the clues are in the text) then leave your guesses where the Seeking Sarah Shand photos were taken in the comments.

You can also play along over at my A Shadow in the Past 2013 Book Tour blog as I check the comments there, too.

Good luck!

I can’t wait to read your guesses.

The Giveaway!

The Seeking Sarah Shand Giveaway

Okay, I’ve banged on about it being a 2014 A Shadow in the Past calendar (created at Vistaprint) but have only ever revealed the cover image. And what better to convey a time-travel set in Scotland than a stone circle on the front cover?

And now for the inside leaves…

January

Image21
Tap O’Noth from the Gordonsfield Farm road

February

image 14
Gordonsfield farmhouse

March

Image9
Gordsonfield farm from the stone circle

April

Image2
The road to Weetshill mansion

May

Image8
The railway line near the old kirkyard

June

Image4
The ghostly trees lining the road to Weetshill mansion

July

Image6
Weetshill mansion – in the present

August

Image1
Ruins in the field behind Gordonsfield farmhouse

September

image 19
The Old Kirkyard in Kendonald

October

Image7
The Robertson stone in the Old Kirkyard

November

Image5
Weetshill Railway Station – today

December

image 18
The Salvation Army Citadel in the Castlegate in Aberdeen

These photos were all taken by me on my trips to Scotland in 1993 and 1997, long before A Shadow in the Past came to be, even in its earlier novella form of Sarah’s Gift.

Now that you’ve seen all the months’ photos, don’t you want to win one? You can. It’s easy. Visit the daily posts of my trip to Scotland (the clues are in the text) then leave your guesses where the Seeking Sarah Shand photos were taken in the comments.

You can also play along over at my A Shadow in the Past 2013 Book Tour blog as I check the comments there, too.

Good luck!

I can’t wait to read your guesses.

Day 8 – Kennethmont to Kelso

Day 8 – Kennethmont to Kelso – August 18, 2013

There were likely faster ways of getting from Kennethmont to Kelso but they wouldn’t have been as much fun. I wanted to go the back way to Banchory then over to Stonehaven and down the coast – well at least as far as Dundee.

It was mid morning by the time we got away from Earlsfield Farm but we expected that and not just because of the late night. We had so much fun when we stayed here it was really hard to say goodbye.

We stopped in at Kildrummy Castle in the heart of Aberdeenshire – another Historic Scotland property – on our way south. It’s well-maintained, has a small, but well-stocked gift shop and WCs! The gentleman working there had a brother who used to live less than 30 miles from where we currently live. Talk about a small world.

Approaching Kildrummy Castle
Approaching Kildrummy Castle
Kildrummy Castle
Kildrummy Castle
Kildrummy Castle
Kildrummy Castle
Kildrummy Castle
Kildrummy Castle

The further we got away from Kennethmont, the more melancholy I felt. There were a couple of times that I could have pulled the car off the road and bawled my eyes out. Thankfully, we had an argument or two with “Sat Nav Sally” over where we were going which temporarily took my mind off things. I knew the route I wanted to take (been there, taken it before so knew where I was going) and she refused to recalculate and get on the same page… or perhaps I should say the same road.

We stopped briefly at Dunnottar Castle just south of Stonehaven on the North Sea, primarily for a photo op and maybe make a point. Long story…

Stonehaven war memorial
Stonehaven war memorial
Dunnottar Castle sign
Dunnottar Castle sign
Dunottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle
Piper at Dunnottar Castle
Piper at Dunnottar Castle

Okay, back to my long story. Some years ago, I started reading a novel set in Scotland (author and title shall remain nameless) and a castle on the North Sea south of Stonehaven was wrongly named Kildrummy Castle. Having been to both castles, I knew it was WRONG! The only castle fitting this locational description was Dunnottar. Try as I might, I couldn’t get past this glaring error. I might have passed up a good author but that was a chance I was willing to take. I mean, if the author didn’t want to use the ‘real’ name, then make up a fictitonal one, don’t just plunk an inland castle on the coast. Rant over now.

At Dundee, we agreed to “Sat Nav Sally’s” route and we continued on without her nagging “turn around when possible”. The rest of the trip to Kelso was quiet (well at least on the sat nav front). I was still sad but not so much as before. Now, I had new territory to get excited about. Yes, we’d been to The Borders before but not Kelso.

When we arrived in Kelso, I couldn’t remember the name of the street the B&B was on, only that it was a one way street. It seemed most of the way in to the town centre was just that. I wanted to stop in the square where the Tourist Information was located but I missed the turning and ended up going up yet another one way street. And guess what! It was the right one. Just at the top of the hill was the sign for Duncan House and their car park. How fortuitous was that?

The Square in Kelso
The Square in Kelso

There was a note on the door addressed to me, telling me where the keys were and how to get to our room so we began the process of unloading the car. On one of our trips to the car, we opened the front door at Duncan House to be greeted by a young couple wondering if we were the owners and was there a room going for the night, We disappointed them but told them to try the phone number on the note in the window. Making sure the front door was securely locked behind us, we got the rest of our loot from the boot of the car.

One of the first things I had to do was plug my laptop in and charge it as the battery was almost flat and I didn’t want to give it a case of “chargus-interruptus” before we left Kennethmont.

Our room at Duncan House
Our room at Duncan House
Our room at Duncan House
Our room at Duncan House
Our room at Duncan House
Our room at Duncan House

Once we were settled, it was time to go exploring but first we stopped off for a bite to eat at The Empress of India, just down the street from our B&B.

Roxburgh Street
Roxburgh Street

After a fantastic meal, an Indian beer (Cobra) and the best onion bhajias I’ve ever had, we headed to the abbey. Unfortunately, the gates were locked but I still got some great photos – likely even better than from within the gated part of the grounds.

Kelso Abbey
Kelso Abbey
Kelso Abbey
Kelso Abbey
Kelso Abbey
Kelso Abbey

Let’s play SEEKING SARAH SHAND!

Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand

Tomorrow will be another big day! We’re going ‘south of the border’ with our final destination being Market Rasen, but on our way we’re stopping near Whitby to meet my author friend, Nicky Wells, and her family and my cousin in Lincolnshire that I’ve not met in person before. How exciting!

Day 7 – Launch Day at the Rannes Hall in Kennethmont!

Day 7 – Launch Day at the Rannes Hall in Kennethmont! – August 17, 2013

The big day was finally here! Was I nervous? A wee bit. Mostly because I still had no idea how many people were coming.

Besides my book launch today at the Rannes Hall, I appeared virtually on two blogs – one is my author friend, Nicky Wells’ Romance That Rocks Your World blog and I did an interview with Peggy Stanton over at Famous Five Plus so I hope you’ll pop over to these wonderful sites.

Compared to other days (especially our ‘free’ day), we did nothing. We both think we went in to Huntly that morning but for what, we can’t remember. We’d been there the night before. Still, we did something/went somewhere nearby in the morning and for the life of us, we have no recall whatsoever.

Fast forward to the afternoon… we loaded the car with books, book swag, door prizes and my silver sharpie pen for signing and made the short journey down the road. We could have easily walked, but trundling a suitcase behind us and me in my ‘ruby’ slippers, it wouldn’t have been a very comfortable walk.

I’m not sure when this sign popped up. I don’t remember seeing it the day before when we walked to the Old Kirkyard and we walked right past here – trash day, wheelie bin in front of the hall. I guess it ‘grew’ overnight.

Sign on the grass verge across from the Rannes Hall
Sign on the grass verge across from the Rannes Hall

Here it is – the venue for my book launch. Isn’t it a grand looking building? It’s home to many a Robbie Burns night and other functions.

The Rannes Hall
The Rannes Hall
Rannes Hall corner stone
Rannes Hall corner stone

When we pulled in to the car park, I was gobsmacked to see my friend, Bill Dunbar, still sitting in the vehicle beside us while his wife chatted by the side entrance with David, my Rannes Hall connection (and owner of Earlsfield Farm). He and Helen made the drive up from Quarriers Village for my launch. I got a huge hug from him as did Don (who insisted on it, since they’d come so far).

So, let’s go inside and see what it looks like in there. I have an advantage having been to a dance here in 2000 and seeing photos from Burns Night celebrations online.

Inside the Rannes Hall
Inside the Rannes Hall
Inside the Rannes Hall
Inside the Rannes Hall

My table was set up in front of the stage with alternating Canadian and Scottish flags affixed to it and three rows of seats were arranged in a semi-circle.

With the hall empty, it seemed even bigger than it really was. It was between 1:30 and 2:00 pm and so far it was only Bill and Helen, David, and Don and me. Nail biting time.

Soon, it went from hardly anyone to almost every seat filled. The original plan of doing my reading, followed by a Q&A session, then signing and selling kind of went out the window as people wanted to purchase their copy right away, or if they already had one, get it signed. Who was I to argue? It worked.

talking about A Shadow in the Past
talking about A Shadow in the Past
some of the guests
some of the guests

I had three draws for the following door prizes.

mouse pad
A Shadow in the Past mouse pad

David wanted one of these so it was sheer serendipity when it was his wife’s ticket number that was drawn.

tote bag
A Shadow in the Past tote bag

If our murky memories are correct, Helen Dunbar won the tote bag.

a shadow in the past 2014 calendar
A Shadow in the Past 2014 calendar

And the calendar was headed off to Dubai with a teenaged cousin of mine. And speaking of cousins…

3 1st cousins
Ian (back), me and Norman

Ian’s and Norman’s fathers were two of my Dad’s brothers who remained in Scotland. And it was Norman’s great-granddaughter who won the calendar.

Me with my cousin Jill
Me with my cousin Jill

By the time the afternoon’s event was over I sold… drum roll, please…

17

copies of A Shadow in the Past! Yippee!!!

People mingled afterwards over tea/coffee and shortbread before gradually saying their goodbyes and heading homeward. Once everyone was out of the hall, we did the same and went back to Earlsfield Farm to change and relax before going out to supper at The Hunters Moon in Auchleven.

In the end there were ten of us who went to supper. The food was amazing!

After our meal, we went over to Rhynie for the dance at the gala. There was a dance the night before for the younger crowd but they were all back in full force. I got bowled over trying to get in when security couldn’t wrestle a drunk out. Not the most auspicious start to the rest of the evening.

It was well after 1:00 the next morning when we finally got back to Earlsfield farm and we would be back on the road that morning heading south to Kelso.

No SEEKING SARAH SHAND today… we all know where she was. It will resume on Day 8.