I'm home from Scotland, where I celebrated my 40th birthday with the writing retreat I envisioned nearly four years ago while going through chemo. (The story behind this trip can be found here
I've been pretty good at hanging onto my post-cancer seize-the-day mentality, so I rented an apartment in Edinburgh and invited my local writer's group to join me for a writing retreat vacation. Nearly half of them were able to make it! Rachael Herron, Lisa Hughey, Mysti Berry, and Emberly Nesbitt hopped on a flight to Edinburgh.
The Writing Retreat
I was so happy to discover that we were compatible travelers! We were all on the same page about writing all morning to meet daily writing goals before heading out for adventures exploring the city. I spent most of my writing time plotting a new mystery novel set in Edinburgh.
|Mysti Berry, Gigi Pandian, Emberly Nesbitt,|
Lisa Hughey, Rachael Herron
|My favorite writing spot in the cozy kitchen of the Edinburgh apartment.|
Writing at the Elephant House Cafe, where I used to study during my junior year abroad in Edinburgh, and where JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book
Visiting the Bedlam Theatre, where I performed on stage 20 years ago as a student
Exploring the City
A birthday meal at the Witchery by the Castle
Edinburgh was the perfect city for inspiration for the new mystery I'm writing with ghostly, Gothic overtones! These were a few of my favorite mysterious encounters.
With how much I love puzzle plot mysteries filled with enigmatic clues, it's hard to believe I hadn't previously experienced a live action puzzle escape game. Dr. Knox's Enigma
was the perfect introduction to one!
Mary King's Close is one of the tours that takes people underground to explore the centuries-old streets beneath Edinburgh's Old Town neighborhood. The modern day central city is built on top of the dark, narrow streets that once housed the city's poor. (A "close" is a narrow alley.)
Like with Dr. Knox's Enigma, in these underground tours the true mysterious history of Edinburgh is sprinkled with fanciful drama. Fact and fiction merge in ghost stories and with figures wearing the real-life beaked masks plague doctors used to wear to combat disease.
A "kirkyard" is a churchyard / graveyard. Greyfriars Kirkyard is famous for the story of Greyfriars Bobby, the terrier who is said to have spent more than a decade guarding his owner's grave, up until his own death. The faithful dog was then buried not far from his owner.
Getting out of town
Revisiting the Edinburgh Setting of "Fool's Gold," the novella prequel to Artifact
In 2012, I collaborated with mystery authors Diane Vallere and Kendel Lynn to write Other People's Baggage, a collection of interconnected mystery novellas featuring our mystery series characters (Jaya Jones for me, Madison Night/Mad for Mod for Diane, and Elliott Lisbon for Kendel).
Baggage claim can be terminal. This is what happened after a computer glitch mislabeled identical vintage suitcases and three women with a knack for solving mysteries each grabbed the wrong bag.
The story I contributed to the collection was "Fool's Gold," which takes place in Edinburgh. It's set during the annual Ed Fringe Festival, the huge arts festival that takes place every August.
All historian Jaya Jones wants is a relaxing vacation in Scotland before starting her first year teaching college. But when a world-famous chess set is stolen from a locked room during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Jaya and her magician best friend, The Hindi Houdini, must outwit actresses and alchemists to solve the baffling crime.
Lest this highlights post get taken over by the fascinating histories of the Lewis Chessmen
and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
, I'll do a more detailed post on my "Fool's Gold" inspirations next week!
I'll end with one of my favorite images from the trip
Now I need to come up with an excuse to do this again!