October 2016

Views over the Perthshire hills above Dunkeld, Scotland

In the midst of grinding through my novel’s fourth draft it seems I missed last month’s State of the Savage. That was a fortunate oversight, for this month has become far more interesting. I’ll get to that shortly — consider it a teaser.

In the months since my last missive I’ve been wading (some might say wallowing) in the initial strokes of my fourth draft. The feedback I received from my alpha reviewers was very helpful and led me to look at the novel from a different angle, which yielded my own insights. The trickiest revisions involved changing the personas of two of the main characters more than a little and rewriting the initial chapters of one of my two POV characters. Read more...

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The view from above Applecross, Wester Ross, Scotland

The Applecross Peninsula in northwest Scotland is a terrestrial dream. It’s the perfect place to go on a long drive and stop to admire the breath-taking scenery. As it happens, it’s also a wonderful place to go for a hike, and the one I’m writing about today is an easy one (for Scotland) that encompasses varied landscapes at the seaward edge of the peninsula. A lot of effort is required to find your way to Applecross town, and this hike is a good reason to stretch out your time here, get a feel for the area, and have an excuse to visit the Applecross Inn for a pint.

As with many hikes, the handy Pocketwalks guides provided me the inspiration for this jaunt. Read more...

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Up the serpent’s back from Applecross, twisting, turning, ascending into lofted realms of rare light and old wonder. From where have these wolverine winds come? Hailing from no compass point but down from the overworld, they plummet on rays of light lancing the distant, smudged hills. I stagger across the lifted landscape and gaze from the crown of Bealach na Bà, confident that here stands another lightbridge, a close cousin of Bifröst, hewing the clouds into glimmering runes.

It is a speechless language drawn only on the iris, for such vistas are mirrors. We see what calls to be seen — beauty, awe, wonder, fear, anxiety, loneliness… Read more...

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Driving around the Applecross Peninsula, Wester Ross, Scotland

Applecross. I can’t tell you how many times people said that word when I told them I was going north. The Scottish highlands are a vast place with seemingly endless coastline, sea lochs, and peninsulas of all shapes and sizes, so why did almost everyone keep suggesting the Applecross Peninsula? The Bealach na Bà, a Gaelic phrase meaning “pass of the cattle,” usually followed that question. Sarah and I had intended to visit back in 2011 when we were holed up on Black Isle, but the worst weather you can imagine aborted that attempt. This isn’t the type of mystery I leave unsolved. When I began hashing out a trip to encompass the North Coast 500 I knew I’d found my opportunity. Read more...

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