Today is St. Andrew's Day, so fly the Saltire and drink a dram with me, won't you? My family comes from all parts of Great Britain and Ireland, but the majority were Scots with a fair bit of Welsh thrown in. I am a Mackintosh and extremely proud of it. The clan name was on my wedding invitations and the recessional was "Scotland the Brave", played by the most accomplished pipers I have ever heard. (It really startled the guests, though. Texans don't spook easy, but you should probably warn people before you let six pipers and drummers loose in a convent chapel with extremely good acoustics.)
I have been to Scotland twice, and both times I very nearly sat down in Edinburgh and refused to leave. The city is pure magic. Go now and see for yourself. I'll wait. If you're looking for a place to stay while you're there, might I recommend The Balmoral Hotel ? I stayed there when I was six months pregnant, and when I wanted chocolate ice cream, the room service staff sent someone OUT to get it. They served it in tiny scoops, with a garnish of red roses. (My gynecologist let me travel internationally only because I was going to Scotland. Her philosophy was that they had the best obstetrics facility in the world, so if I was going to do something stupid, that was the place to do it.)
If you are actually contemplating a trip to Scotland or you just want a little armchair travel, don't miss Scotland.org , an extremely informative site. I particularly love the map you can keep clicking to add infrastructure. Or, if you're feeling really ambitious, whip up a batch of shortbread. It is absurdly easy--just a cup of butter to a cup of sugar to three cups of flour. Cream the first two ingredients, knead in the third, pat into a cake tin, prick with a fork, and bake at 275 for almost an hour. You'll know it's done when you can smell it. (Personally, I haven't made it in years on the grounds that I don't cook with refined flour or sugar. I will confess that today I intend to break open a box of the store-bought and weep a little over not having the real thing.)
So, it's a day to nibble our shortbread and admire Gerard Butler (or nibble Gerard Butler and admire our shortbread, either way) and remember that, in the words of J.A. Froud, "No people so few in number have scored so deep a mark on the world's history as the Scots have done."
(And please note that as of THIS MORNING, Silent on the Moor is DONE. It is being e-mailed to my editor and agent this very day. Celebration is commencing as we speak. There will be wine and perhaps some confetti as well. If you've been working feverishly at NaNoWriMo, please pull a cork and join me. Whether you made your word count or not, you TRIED, and the glory is in the attempt. Slainte!)
ETA: It only took eighteen minutes after I e-mailed the book to my editor for me to begin questioning every choice, every character, and every plot point. I now want to beg for it back and start all over from the beginning. I'm not worried though, because now I know this is perfectly normal writerly behavior. It will come with every book, and the trick is to ride it out by putting the book OUT of my mind and getting on with other things. So, I'm going to go get a manicure now and then I have to go sign some stock of the mass market paperback of Grave for a local authors display at my B&N. I've said it before, and you can chisel it on my gravestone: writing isn't for wusses.