Click to Subscribe to my Thistles & Pirates Newsletter

Thistles & Pirates Newsletter – Summer 2006
By Cindy Vallar, author of The Scottish Thistle & Pirates & Privateers

Welcome to Thistles & Pirates!

I just received word that Amber Quill Press will release the new edition of The Scottish Thistle in November. I don’t have any further details at this point, but will post them to the website when I do.

I had a delightful time at the North Texas Book Festival in Denton this past April. Enjoyed speaking with many people. My husband, Tom, joined me at the signing table, so while I was dressed in Scottish attire, he donned a pirate outfit so we truly represented Thistles & Pirates.  If you’d like to see a picture of us, visit my Recent Booksignings page.

The piracy workshop in Wichita Falls earlier this month was wonderful. I want to thank the members of the Red River Romance Writers for allowing me to come to their meeting and share my knowledge about pirates, and for the fantastic potluck dinner they invited me to on Friday night. I had a blast! Also, enjoyed meeting everyone and making new friends. When I update the website at the end of the month, I’ll post pictures of this event.

For those who are interested in writing historical fiction, you may want to read Elizabeth Cook’s “Seven Rules for Writing Historical Fiction.” You’ll find it at her website. If you subscribe to The Writer Magazine, you can also read it online at that website.

I recently added a new historical fiction review to my Recommended Books to Read page.  Wings of Morning, an inspirational historical romance by Kathleen Morgan, is set in 1566 and involves the Campbells and MacLarens.

I’m also pleased to announce that once again I’ll be conducting my online workshop, Scottish Highlands: History and Culture, for Hearts through History. Anyone may participate. The workshop runs from 5 September to 30 October and will cover all aspects of Highland life. Deadline for registration is 1 September. Cost for HHRW members is $5 and $15 for anyone else.

Also, Sandy Blair will be conducting another workshop from 23-27 October entitled I Dinna Ken. This program focuses on incorporating dialect and anachronisms into manuscripts. It includes research, discusses the difference between Irish-Gaelic, Gael, and Auld Scot, how topography and politics influenced the Celtic languages, the Highland line, the difference between dialect (accent), anachronisms, and foreign language, on finding the right balance between dialect in dialogue and introspection, when "enough is enough" and finally, getting your beloved and well-researched "eegits" and "havers" past your editors. Handouts include sample dialect (Gael and Auld Scot) "cheat sheets," reference bibliography and web sites. Specialty maps also on view.

Those who are interested in Scottish pirates may want to read my review of Jim Hewitson’s Skull & Saltire. I did hear from the publisher that this book is also available in the States. The cost is $16.95.

Until next time, Slainte!

Personal Appearances

Lewisville Public Library Teen Writer’s Group
Informal discussion on Historical Fiction – researching, writing, and anachronisms
28 August 2006 from 6:30 to 8:00 PM
Baird Room, Lewisville Public Library
1197 West Main Street
Lewisville, Texas

Books ‘n Authors ‘n All That Jazz V
Booksigning and Interactive Piracy Workshop for Children
28 April 2007
Weatherford College
Weatherford, Texas

I’ll also be attending the Red River Cameron Roundup during the Bedford Celtic Festival (14 & 15 October) and will have a few copies of The Scottish Thistle available for purchase and signing. Check my website for more details later this month.

Scottish Tidbits

Public Lecture and Conference
The Royal Society of Edinburgh and Det Norske Videnskaps-Akademi will present a public lecture and conference in Edinburgh on 20-22 September on the Vikings and Scotland. For more information or tickets, e-mail: or visit their website
(Source: Historic Scotland, July/Aug 2006)

Biggest Highland Games for Inverness
Inverness will host the biggest Highland Games in Scotland this summer, incorporating the Masters World Championships, the official international event for heavyweight athletes aged over 40. This is the first time these Championships have been staged outside of the USA. A record number of 100 heavy athletes will descend on Bught Park on 22-23 July. Nine world championships will be contested, with competitors coming from eleven countries. In addition to the field events, there will be two concerts by Blazin' Fiddles, one of Scotland's top traditional music bands, and Scotland's biggest clan gathering with up to 40 clans expected in the Tulloch Clan Village. Also the City of Inverness pipe band competition, solo piping competition, and Highland dancing events. Next summer, as part of the Year of Highland Culture 2007, the Inverness Highland Games will host the World Highland Games Championships.
(Source: Scottish Snippets, 13 May 2006)

Striking a Chord on Ben Nevis
When volunteers from the John Muir Trust cleared the rubbish and proliferating cairns on the top of Ben Nevis, they were astonished to find the remains of a piano under a pile of rocks. When the mystery of the piano reached the newspapers, there were a number of claims from people who said they had carried it up the slopes to the top. The Trust suggested, lightheartedly, they would invoice the owner for 20 years of storage on Ben Nevis. A biscuit wrapper with a sell-by date of December 1986, found with the instrument, was initially the only clue. Eventually the "litter louts" were identified as a group of 24 men who carried it to the summit to raise money for charity. The climb proved more exhausting than anticipated, and they broke it up and buried it under a pile of stones, rather than attempt to carry it back down again.
(Source: Scottish Snippets, 13 May 2006)

Historic Fountain on Stream Again
The King's Fountain in Linlithgow Palace, believed to be the oldest fountain in Britain, has been returned to the courtyard. King James V created it in 1537 for his French bride. The ravages of time (and a few passing armies, including wine flowing through it to greet Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745) took their toll. Historic Scotland undertook a lengthy restoration of the fountain, retaining much of the original stonework, but adding new stone carvings to replace those no longer viable. They plan to have water flowing regularly from the fountain for the first time in 100 years every Sunday until the end of August.
(Source: Scottish Snippets, 13 May 2006)

Earth Moves in Highlands
An earthquake, measuring 3.1 on the Richter scale, shook parts of the Highlands in early June.  Some residents in Gairloch, Achnasheen, Stromeferry and Ardaneaskan phoned the British Geological Survey when they heard what was described as a "loud bang" and houses shook. It was the biggest earthquake in the Highlands since September 2004, when the island of Raasay experienced one which registered 3.3 on the scale.
(Source: Scottish Snippets, 10 June 2006)

Scottish Storytelling Centre
The Scottish Storytelling Centre on Edinburgh's Royal Mile has opened to promote the rich traditions of Scottish storytelling. It will link with a national network of storytellers, involving all age groups and the diverse cultures of modern Scotland.
(Source: Scottish Snippets, 10 June 2006)

School Makes Mandarin Mandatory
Merchiston Castle, an independent private school for boys in Edinburgh, will require Mandarin Chinese lessons for 8-10 year olds. The school's governors say Mandarin is spoken by over a billion people, double the number who speak English, and China is moving to become the leading economy in the world. Business leaders in Scotland welcomed the move and argued that the language should become mainstream so advantage can be taken of the emerging opportunities in the Far East. Five percent of the school’s pupils come from China.
(Source: Scottish Snippets, 17 June 2006)

Medieval Village Found Under Golf Course
Archaeologists have uncovered a medieval village beneath what is to become the 17th fairway of a new golf course on the Archerfield Estate in East Lothian. The design of the course is being adapted into the contours of where the village once stood, so golfers will have some sense of the history that lies beneath the fairway. There will also be an information display in the clubhouse. The Renaissance Club at Archerfield is due to open in 2008.
(Source: Scottish Snippets, 17 June 2006)

Flower of Scotland Wins Poll
More than 10,000 people at home and abroad responded to the online poll to gauge support for a selection of songs to be Scotland's national anthem. The result was a rafter-raising victory for "Flower of Scotland," which took 41% of the votes cast. "Scotland the Brave" came second with 29%, while Highland Cathedral won just 16% of the vote. "A Man's a Man for a' That" and "Scots' Wha Hae!" straggled in at the foot of the scale.
(Source: Scottish Snippets, 8 July 2006)


Secret of a Happy Marriage
The regulars at the Auchtermuchty Arms were having a discussion about marriage (as you do, after several "refreshments"). Hector silenced the repartee for a moment when he announced that he had the secret of a happy marriage. Prompted by the others to reveal all, he went on: "Twice a week we go out to a nice quiet restaurant, have a good meal, and a few glasses of wine." There was silence from the others at this simple recipe - until
Hector added: "She goes on Tuesdays and I go on Thursdays..."
(Source: Scottish Snippets, 20 May 2006)

To Unsubscribe: send request to
Cindy Vallar, Thistles & Pirates, PO Box 425, Keller, TX  76244-0425

Click to Subscribe to my Thistles & Pirates Newsletter