Wednesday 30 November 2011

Wave that Saltire

The 30th November is St. Andrew’s Day in Scotland

Nowadays not much happens in Scotland that’s unusual on St. Andrew’s day. People go to work, children to school, and life goes on as normal. There has been some recent campaigning to have it deemed a public holiday in Scotland and used to encourage tourist traffic. That’s not happened yet- some people think Scottish weather too unpredictable and they would be right about that! Today has dawned clear and blue in my part of Scotland; the slightest of frosts having melted quickly.

(BUT today is not a usual St. Andrew’s day. Public Sector workers are on strike over changes to their pension rights…and other issues. So, schools are affected, and public administration is halted, or also interrupted.)

Had it been a normal St. Andrew’s Day some primary school classes might be finding out what the Saltire, or St. Andrew’s flag, is all about.

There have been various versions of the tale and I give you only one here.

The Patron Saint of Scotland is St. Andrew. Andrew was one of the Twelve Apostles, a disciple of Jesus. Like Jesus was nailed to a cross to die so, too, was Andrew. It is said Andrew did not think himself worthy of being on the same shape of cross as Jesus, who had an upright (plus) cross. Andrew’s was a ‘multiplication sign’ cross. After his death Andrew’s remains were buried in Greece, in Patrae.

By almost 400 AD the Roman Emperor of the time, Constantius, declared Patrae was not a suitable place for the relics to lie and ordered the remains to be brought to his capital city of Constantinople.

At that time the keeper of the remains was Regulus. Regulus had a dream where an angel told him that instead of Constantinople the remains should be taken to the edge of the world, at the time known as Caledonia.

After a hazardous journey with the casket Regulus arrived at Mukros, on the east coast of Scotland. He buried the remains there and set up a church. The English translation for Regulus is ‘rule’ and to this day there is a stone tower at St. Andrews, in Fife, called Saint Rule’s Tower. It lies next to the ruined cathedral in St. Andrews. It is said the stone tower replaced Regulus’s original wood, mud and turf church and the bones of St. Andrew lie buried beneath it.

We then skip on to the year 761AD when the kingdom of the Picts (then only a part of what we know of as Scotland today) was battling against the Anglo-Saxons (northern England of today). The two armies were encamped near each other ready to do battle when Angus, king of the Picts, had a dream. He saw St. Andrew come towards him bearing a silver cross (saltire) which shone out against the blue of the sky. The next day the Picts won the bloody battle and henceforth the saltire was adopted as the badge of the Picts.

Many years later the badge of St. Andrew was adopted as the standard for the whole unified Scotland, the land of Scotland as we know it today.

And so, it is said, the saltire cross came to represent Scotland.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Let's give a hearty welcome to Debra St. John today!

Hello there! Let’s give a hearty welcome to author Debra St. John today. I’m delighted to have you visit and tell me about your latest release from The Wild Rose Press.

Nancy, thanks so much for having me here today. I really enjoyed answering your interview questions...they really make me think.

I put some telling questions to Debra and got some lovely answers. I always wonder about what gets someone started on the writing ladder so it’s no surprise what my first question was!

Do you think any particular trigger led you to become a writer?

I started reading romance in high school. From the start I always wanted to write one of my own someday.

I’m not sure my high school teachers would have liked me reading romances under the desk, but, like you, I read them at home. Is the romance genre your favourite to write in or do you write across genres/ sub-genres?

I’ve only written far.

What’s a typical writing day like for you?

Oy! I wish I had one. I think I’d be a lot more productive. I write in fits and spurts when I find the time. A full-time job with extra duties keeps me pretty busy. I write more regularly in the summer when I’m not working.

Here comes the ‘heat level question. What would you say is your comfort zone for writing in?

Spicy. As a reader, I’m not a big fan of ‘close the door’ love scenes, so when I write, I definitely leave the door wide open!

Have you been a published writer for a while, Debra?

I signed my first contract in January 2008, so almost four years now.

Four years? That’s great. How many books have you had published then?

Three full-length novels (This Time for Always, Wild Wedding Weekend, & This Can’t Be Love), a novella (A Christmas to Remember), and a short free read (Mistletoe and Folly). All are currently available through The Wild Rose Press.

Okay. Maybe you could tell us a bit about your current release? What’s the title of it?

I just released A Christmas to Remember earlier this month. It was my first attempt at a novella, rather than a full-length novel.

Are the names of your hero and heroine influenced by anyone you’ve known?


So, how do you choose the names of your characters, especially the heroine and hero?

Sometimes they just come to me. Other times it takes a little longer. I’ve even resorted to on-line baby name web-sites when I’m really stuck. My first editor at TWRP taught me the importance of the names needing to work together. Even naming secondary characters is important. The names all have to work together and not be too similar.

Is there any particular theme, or focus, to A Christmas to Remember?

Not a theme necessarily, but I hope it evokes that cozy, Christmassy, curl-up-by-the-fireplace feel for readers.

Is your tendency to have a germ of an idea and then develop it?


Here’s another question that’s constantly asked of an author…are you a plotter who has the framework made first before you start writing chapter 1?

Usually no, I’m much more of a pantster, but for the novella I’m working on right now, I actually sat down and wrote a three page synopsis-like outline before I started. I also outlined a time travel I have an idea for. I guess with so much going on around the holidays, I didn’t want to lose any of the ideas before I have the chance to sit down and do something with them.

Do you ferret out a photo of a possible hero/heroine and use that for inspiration?

Not usually, but for Noah in Wild Wedding Weekend, I imagined him looking like Brad Pitt, so I did tack a photo of him next to my computer while I wrote that book.

Are the natures of your characters immediately clear to you as soon as you start a new book?

No. I generally have a better idea about one or the other at the beginning. The other comes more fully to life as I write.

Is your tendency to create their appearances in your imagination first and wing it with their character developments as the story unfolds?

As I said above, either the hero or heroine is usually more evolved at the beginning, but I do like to nail down their physical features early on.

I give you 4 words to describe the character of your hero in A Christmas to Remember. What would they be?

Sexy. Dedicated. Passionate. Loyal.

That’s my kind of man! Is your heroine always sprightly and positive thinking regardless of the plot?

It’s interesting you ask that. Part of my tag line ‘boasts’ “spunky heroines”, but recently an editor asked for some rewrites on a submission because my heroine wasn’t consistent enough. I’d made her a big city lawyer and her actions and thought processes didn’t match her given career. So one thing I’m doing is making her more decisive, positive, and strong.

What about their heights? I ask this because I seem to be a bit repetitive on this one. Do you veer towards the tall man and short woman? Or are your characters’ heights quite varied?

Definitely varied. (Although there’s something to be said about those tall, dark, and handsome heroes!)

How do you interweave secondary characters into your writing?

Most of my secondary characters play pivotal roles in my books. A BFF can be a great way to get inside of a character’s head without pages and pages of internal dialogue...which can get really, really boring. In my first book, This Time for Always, I set up secondary characters to be the heroes in their own books.

They’re great insights into how you write, Debra. Thank you so much for sharing and now let’s get on to that new release!


Newly single, Heather Morgan gathers her courage and decides to take a Christmas ski vacation on her own. However, the festive holiday atmosphere reminds her how dispirited and alone she feels. When she meets a mysterious stranger, her lonely vacation takes an unexpected turn.

Sam is at the resort at the urging of his brother, who thinks he needs to get out and have a little fun. Having no desire to get involved with anyone, Sam needs a way to get his brother off his back. The intriguing Heather seems like the perfect solution to his dilemma, so he makes her an offer she can't refuse.

Sam restores the joy of the season to Heather. Their time together is magical, something she'll never forget. Soon her feelings for him deepen beyond their romantic holiday fling. But Sam has a secret, one that could prevent the fantasy from ever becoming real.


Sam's gaze drifted up, and his lips quirked. “Well, this may help my cause.”

Her glance rose to the mistletoe dangling over their heads, darted to his, then briefly down to his lips, before meeting his again. When his lingered on her mouth, a tiny hitch tightened her stomach.

“So, why do people kiss under the mistletoe?” he asked softly, his voice as mesmerizing as his eyes.

“I-I don’t know.” Her words were as breathy as they had been up on the mountain earlier. This time she couldn’t blame the altitude.

Sam tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, “Something to do with Celtic tradition isn’t it?”

A shiver slithered down Heather’s spine. “Maybe.” She’d be hard pressed to come up with her own name right now, let alone the ancient history of some plant.

“It’s a nice tradition, don’t you think?” His thumb brushed her cheek.

Her lips parted.

“Did I ever mention I’m a very traditional guy?”

She shook her head. A wave of dizziness washed over her as he leaned closer. Her surroundings blurred, until her vision narrowed to only his rugged features drawing nearer to her in excruciatingly slow degrees. His mouth finally closed over hers as his hand splayed across her back to draw her to him.

Well, everybody, if you're looking for a little gift for someone who also loves reading romances you can contact Debra at the following places.

Readers can visit me at my web-site

or at either of the blogs I participate in. I’m the Sunday Blogger at The Acme Authors Link ( and the Thursday Blogger at Heroines with Hearts (

Here's the link for buying A Christmas to Remember :

Pop a comment in the box, leave an email address, and you could be the lucky winner of one of my special little packs of Scottish Castle cards and a bookmark today!

Thanks, Debra, for coming to visit today!


Monday 28 November 2011

The best rose ever?

Sharing a wonderful love poem with you today, written by Robert Burns. Who can fail to be moved by this one? As I write I am singing it - just be glad you're reading and not listening as, tho' I try very hard, I canne keep in tune!

A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns (1759-1796)

O, my luve’s like a red, red rose

That’s newly sprung in June.

O, my luve’s like the melodie,

That’s sweetly played in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonie lass,

So deep in luve am I,

And I will luve thee still, my Dear,

Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,

And the rocks melt wi’ the sun!

O I will love thee still, my Dear,

While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only Luve,

And fare thee weel, a while!

And I will come again, my Luve,

Tho’ it were ten thousand mile!

Well, is that not sad? Romantic ...but sad! What do you think?