book writing

For the moon to be reflected in a pool of water, every ripple needs to be stilled.

Summer is fleeting as a Scottish shadow. Somehow it’s August and I’ve been home for a month from our trip to Spain and Norway. Time has a way of condensing and accelerating as one gets older, and it’s not subtle. The days of my adolescence seem wide as a stretched accordion while the present year’s days could be pressed into an envelope box.

The brain is an incredibly versatile device that, strangely, functions beyond our conscious control, and it handles routine by essentially choosing not to bother remembering the rote, non-novel moments of daily existence.

That’s one point for traveling.


The Alhambra, Granada, Spain

I’d forgotten what May was like in Wisconsin. The still-cool air mixed with warm sunshine, the lilacs and peonies flowering, and the amazing sunsets make this month one of the best in my home state. The last six or so years I’ve been gone at this time traveling somewhere: Scotland mostly, but also France, Spain, and Switzerland. This year it’s June that gets shipped abroad. Traveling Savage is going on vacation to Spain and Norway!

Over the last ten years Sarah has really turned me on to southern Spain, especially Granada (her favorite city). It’s a multicultural city in a majestic setting with incredible weather and some of the best damn eating and drinking to be had in Europe. This will be my fourth visit to Granada and I can’t wait to indulge in tapas and red wine. Read more...

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Freedom Is a Noble Thing - John Barbour

I hope you’ll excuse this detour from distillery month, but I felt the regularly scheduled State of the Savage was both timely and welcome for those not so interested in the ‘water of life.’ The big news is that I leave for Scotland on Friday! Over the last 10+ years of traveling in Scotland I’ve visited almost 50 distilleries, and it has long been a dream to work at one — even just for a short time — to learn the craft and capture a sense of the flow and camaraderie.

That dream becomes real next week.

Last November I spent a week in Perthshire…

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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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Characteristically Scottish sign at Corrieshalloch Gorge, Wester Ross, Scotland

I hate election years. All our hazy demons jitter into the light. They aren’t pretty, and en masse they’re a terror that sends me clamoring for the windswept Scottish highlands and islands clinging to the edges of the earth. But it already feels like I’m clinging to something — an asteroid, maybe — rocketing full speed to an oblivion I neither want nor can avoid. It’s times like these when Sartre’s wisdom rings in my ears. On the appointed day what will be will be. In the interim, however, you needn’t listen to the sewage spewed nonstop from news media.

You could go to Scotland instead. Now is a fantastic time to visit.

The fallout of the Brexit vote sent the British Pound tumbling to its lowest rate in over 30 years. While this is not good news for Scottish citizens (or in general, really), it does make visiting a more realistic possibility for the money-conscious traveler. One Pound currently equals $1.31. To put that number in perspective, when I visited Scotland in 2009 one Pound was around $1.80 and just last month a Pound traded at $1.57. As you can see, those are huge differences and the leveling of currency will save you money across the board. It’s unclear if this drop in the British Pound’s value is a reactionary bubble and will disappear as the financial system rights itself, or if this new valuation is here to stay. If you’re considering a trip to Scotland in the near future or next year, it’s worth considering buying British Pounds now. Read more...

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