Guest Post: Smell the Chile and Hear the Bagpipes By Norma Gail
I dare you to read Norma Gail’s post without a Scottish accent. 🙂
I want you to smell the chile roasting in Bonny’s native New Mexico and hear the bagpipes of Kieran’s home in Scotland. My hope was to make my readers feel they were there. One of the greatest challenges in writing Land of My Dreams, my debut contemporary Christian romance, was to make readers feel they were in Scotland. No small undertaking, considering I have only spent two weeks there in my entire life.
In 2006, when my husband and I were preparing for a trip to Scotland, I began to gather information in order to see as much as possible. However, it wasn’t enough to make me an expert. It never occurred to me that I would someday write a book. I kept a trip diary, and we took over 700 photographs, but only a few are of the area where the book takes place. I filled my iPod with Scottish folk tunes and classics and devoured tour books. And yes, I ate haggis, the traditional concoction of sheep offal, oatmeal, and spices boiled in a sheep’s stomach.
As a life-long resident of New Mexico, I loved experiencing rain as a part of everyday life. If Scots waited for the weather to clear, they would never do anything. Sunshine is as unique for them as rain is for me. Children played in the pouring rain wearing sleeveless shirts and shorts while I was bundled against the dreich weather hoping not to become drookit.
I can’t always make you hear the accent, but I can add the flavor of unique phrases. Dreich is wet and rainy, and drookit is soaking wet. “Way In” means “Entrance,” and “Way Out” means “Exit.” I never did get used to the waiter asking if I wanted “Still” or “Sparkling” water to drink. It’s common for men say it’s a “lovely day,” and I devoured websites of common Scottish/Gaelic names, slang, and phrases to make the dialogue accurate.
To help with the descriptions, I created a screen-saver of over 400 photos of the area where Land of My Dreams takes place. I have scenery, historical places, road signs, shop windows, and animals, almost anything that is a part of everyday life. This also helped me create similes and metaphors comparing and contrasting things familiar to my audience with things that are commonplace to the characters. For example, Kieran is drawn to Bonny “like a bee to heather.”
To make certain I had things right, I found someone to edit for Scottish content. Contemporary fiction must be as accurate as or more so than historical fiction because some readers will know if what I said is true.
All the effort to make my story world appealing and realistic was worth it when an editor on the pub board thought I must have lived in Scotland and a reader said they felt they had been there. When you read Land of My Dreams, I hope you are swept off your feet by an accent and a kilt.
Alone and betrayed, American professor, Bonny Bryant longs for a haven of peace. She accepts a position at a small Christian college in Fort William, Scotland, craving escape from her painful past. The passionate love which develops when she meets fellow professor and sheep farmer, Kieran MacDonell, is something she never anticipated.
Kieran harbors a deep anger toward God in the face of his own devastating grief. When Bonny’s former fiancé reenters her life, Kieran’s loneliness draws him to a former student.
How will Bonny decide between her rivals? Can they set aside the past to make way for a future, or will it drive them apart?
Land of My Dreams spans the distance between New Mexico’s high desert mountains and the misty Scottish Highlands with a timeless story of overwhelming grief, undying love, and compelling faith.
Norma Gail’s debut contemporary Christian romance, Land of My Dreams, set in Scotland and New Mexico released in April 2014. She has led weekly women’s Bible studies for 19 years. Her devotionals, poetry have appeared at ChristianDevotions.us, the Stitches Thru Time blog, and in “The Secret Place.” She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, FaithWriters, and the New Mexico Christian Novelists. She is a former RN who lives in the mountains of New Mexico with her husband of 38 years. They have two adult children.
You connect with Norma at:
Land of My Dreams is available at:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Land-My-Dreams-Norma-Gail/dp/1941103170/ or
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/land-of-my-dreams-norma-gail/1119606864 ?ean=9781941103173
Renee Blare|Christian Author
I would love to visit Scotland. It’s on my wish list. 🙂 I think it’s an awesome idea to have some edit for content. I’ll have to get this book!
I think that would be a great place to go, too, Renee. 🙂
Norma Gail Thurston Holtman
Thank you for your interest, Renee!
I absolutely loved “Land of My Dreams.” Norma did an excellent job drawing me into a Scottish world and yes, I caught myself reading much of the book with a Scottish accent. I can’t wait to read the sequel.
Norma Gail Thurston Holtman
Thank you,mSandra! And thank you for the opportunity to appear on your blog. I look forward to interviewing you about The Yuletide Angel on December 19th at http://www.normagail.com!
Trina Bresser Matous
I’m in the middle of reading the book now and am really enjoying it. I’ve been to Scotland and love the area. It’s fun reading a book that takes place there.
Thank you for stopping by, Trina! Yes, Scotland is one of those places in the world I’d like to visit someday.
Norma Gail Thurston Holtman
Thank you for your kind words, Trina! I’m glad you’re enjoying it!