Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Guest Blogger: Sue-Ellen Welfonder

Please join me in welcoming author Sue-Ellen Welfonder as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress as she makes a stop on her virtual book tour.

Sue-Ellen’s latest release is SINS OF A HIGHLAND DEVIL. This is the first book in the Highland Warriors trilogy, in which three heroes make a pact to insure that a rival clan does not take over their Glen of Many Legends. At the same time, three women plot to marry these heroes to insure peace.

Thanks to Sue-Ellen, Anna and the folks at Hachette Book Group, I have 3 copies of SINS OF A HIGHLAND DEVIL to giveaway. Please see the giveaway guidelines at the end of this post. Here’s a brief blurb about the book: In SINS OF A HIGHLAND DEVIL, James Cameron is concerned when the King's decree states all three neighboring clans must have a battle to the death in order to lay official claim to the scared Glen of Many Legends. James attempts to make a pact with the heads of the other clans to fight this decree. But he ends up fighting his own fierce desire when coming head-to-head with Lady Catriona of the opposing MacDonald clan, who has her own plan for peace.

Sue-Ellen has answered some questions for me about her book and her writing.

Mason - What type of research did you do for this book?

Sue-Ellen – My passion for Scottish medieval history has been built over my lifetime. As an American of Scottish (Hebridean) ancestry, I’ve loved Scotland and its history and culture since birth. I’ve been studying it as long. So my knowledge base was there before I ever began writing. And I’ll continue to love and study Scottish history, culture, lore, etc. long after I stop writing. 

It’s my lifelong passion, regardless of my career.  I also spent fifteen years living in Europe and spent much of that time exploring Scotland. This personal experience helps me to recreate authentic settings and atmosphere. I’m especially intrigued by medieval battles and have done lots of research into fighting techniques and strategies. This knowledge was very helpful in writing SINS OF A HIGHLAND DEVIL.

Likewise my knowledge of Celtic myth, legend, and lore, which I always enjoy giving my own twist in my stories.

Mason - When you write do you have a set pattern you follow - write certain time, certain place, listen to music, no sounds at all, etc.?

Sue-Ellen – My entire writing career has seen every deadline beset by outside disruptions and intrusions beyond my control.
Therefore, achieving the peace and quiet I need to write competently, I most often do my creative writing late at night, usually between midnight and 3 a.m. Because of frequent construction noise – the major bane of my days – if I must write during the day, it is always with two sets of earplugs jammed in my ears. I do have a lovely writing office filled with mementoes from my trips to Scotland. And if the usual construction havoc allows me to remove my earplugs, I enjoy classical music in the background. Always classical, never words, as words distract me.

Mason - Which is easier to create, the characters or the plot?

Sue-Ellen – I see no difference. My story ideas come to me as a solid package – I know the first line and the last at once, also everything in between. Likewise I know who the characters are, everything about them. I can’t say how or why the stories to me come this way, but they do. To me, characters would be paper cut-out dolls without a plot to guide them. And a plot without interesting, vibrant characters would just be ink on the page. The two are inextricably entwined. I’m grateful that both these critical story building blocks come to me as they do, already in place and seamlessly melded.

Mason - If you would invite 5 authors (living or dead) to dinner, who would they be and why?

Sue-Ellen – Great question. My answers, in no special order…

1 - Christine de Pisan of the 14th/15th C. because she was such a champion of women and women’s rights, perhaps the first true feminist ever.  I love strong women and believe many women today can still be inspired by her.

2 – Anya Seton because her books, Katherine and Green Darkness , remain all-time favorites for me.  I’d love to discuss reincarnation with her.

3 – M.M. Kaye because her classic, The Far Pavilions, will always be my number one favorite above all books.  Loving atmosphere as I do, I’m humbled by her ability to make you feel as if you are there, in the story.

4 – Concetta Bertoldi, a medium with heart and humor, because she’s such an upbeat, positive person and also because I would love to know who’s hanging around me.  (I mean those on the Other Side, of course)

5) – Karen Stevens, a dear friend who is an excellent author and ghost hunter, because deadlines prevent us from getting together as often as I’d like.

Mason - Is there a message you want readers to take from your book or is it for pure enjoyment?

Sue-Ellen – Pure enjoyment, no messages. If there is a theme in my books, it would be honor-based: that a good name is all we take with us from this life and that it is the goodness of one’s soul and what’s in one’s heart that matters, not riches and worldly status and suchlike trappings.

Mason - What can readers look forward to next from you?

Sue-Ellen – TEMPTATION OF A HIGHLAND WARRIOR, book two in my Highland Warriors series, releases in Aug. 2011.  SEDUCTION OF A HIGHLAND WARRIOR, tba, concludes the trilogy. Thereafter I will either do a spin-off series on Highland Warriors or I’ll return to my popular Mackenzie series and write the stories of Sir M’s four children. Time will tell.

Readers interested in learning more can watch my website or join my mailing list at www.welfonder.com

Sue-Ellen, thanks so much for blogging here today and sharing your thoughts on writing with us. I think it’s wonderful that you get to expand on your love of Scottish history through your books.

Now for a bit about Sue-Ellen. She is a card-carrying Scotophile whose burning wish to make frequent (free) trips to the land of her dreams led her to a twenty year career with the airlines. Bi-lingual, she flew international all those years, working her flights as foreign language speaker. Her flying career allowed her to see the world, but it was always to Scotland that she returned. 

Now a full-time writer, she’s quick to admit that she much prefers wielding a pen to pushing tea and coffee. She spent fifteen years living in Europe and used that time to explore as many castle ruins, medieval abbeys, and stone circles as possible. Anything ancient, crumbling, or lichened caught her eye. She makes annual visits to Scotland, insisting they are a necessity as each trip gives her inspiration for new books.

Proud of her own Hebridean ancestry, she belongs to two clan societies: the MacFie Clan Society and the Clan MacAlpine Society. In addition to Scotland, her greatest passions are medieval history, the paranormal, and dogs. She never watches television, loves haggis, and writes at a four-hundred-and-fifty year old desk that once stood in a Bavarian castle.

Sue-Ellen is married and currently resides with her husband and Jack Russell Terrier in Florida. As she mentioned earlier, readers can learn more about her and the world of her books at: www.welfonder.com.

Now for the giveaway guidelines. To enter this giveaway, send me an e-mail (mcbookshelf@gmail.com). Your subject line should read, “Win SINS OF A HIGHLAND DEVIL.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only and no post office box addresses can be accepted. In addition, Hachette is advising winners that they will be subject to the one copy per household rule, which means that if they win the same title in two or more contests, they will receive only one copy of the title (or one set in the case of grouped giveaways) in the mail. (Winners here have always be great about letting me know if they have already won the book somewhere else so another winner can be selected. However, this announcement is something that has to be passed along from Hachette). And, just so you know, I don’t share the mailing information or use it for any other purpose. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a chance at one of the 3 copies of the 400-page SINS OF A HIGHLAND DEVIL (ISBN: 9780446561785) will be 8 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, Feb. 5.


  1. Sue-Ellen, thanks so much for guest blogging here. Your passion and love of Scottish history comes through in your writing. Best of luck.

  2. Hey Mason and Sue-Ellen, great interview and information here! I loved the sound of your writing room, Sue-Wllen. So different from mine! I love that you're so passionate about Scotland and you've been able to transfer that love to you books.

    I wish you every success Sue-Ellen. Mason, thank you for your comments recently on my blog. I appreciate them sincerely (ooh, 2 adverbs!)

    Denise :)

  3. Great way to bring your passion for a place into your writing!

    I admire you for being able to write between 12- 3 a.m. That's probably the one time of day when I *haven't* tried writing...although I do come up with random ideas then.

  4. Scotland is beautiful - one could spend a lifetime writing books based on that country.

  5. I have a hunch that the women who are plotting to marry the men to ensure peace are gonna win....LOL.

    I usually write in the evenings, too. Only the last week or so I can't keep my eyes open after 10:30!

  6. Scotland is a great setting. I would love to visit. The research you must have done to put your story together.

  7. Mason - Thanks for hosting Sue-Ellen.

    Sue-Ellen - Thanks for sharing a peek at your writing life. Like you, I need peace and quiet when I write. I don't usually write at night because the opposite of a night-owl. So I usually write early in the morning. Nice to know I'm not alone in needing quiet...

  8. sounds like a lovely book, and a lovely author, and the book cover is .... well, hot indeed :)

  9. Given Sue-Ellen's passion and background with all things Scottish, this seems like a classic example of "write what you know." It's great to bring our passion to our words like that.

  10. Always interesting to read about an individual's writing process. I'm with you on the classical music to write to--it like providing a soundtrack. My current favorite is the symphonies of Bruckner--I've been listening to them repeated while writing for the past couple months.

    Thanks for hosting Sue-Ellen today, Mason.

    Tossing It Out

  11. Nice to meet you Sue Ellen. My roots are also Scot with several other nationalities to salt my existence. I think you book sounds fabulous.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  12. I envy your time exploring in Scotland amnong ruins and castles. It's on my retirement travel plans. Good luck on your blog tour.

  13. My husband's family is of Scottish descent and we hope to visit one day. He's a big golfer and he's love to play there - the land of golf's birth! LOL

    I love the fact that you invite M.M. Kaye to dinner. Not many people even know who she was, but I have loved her books. Her mysteries were fun.

    Thanks for visiting with Mason, Sue-Ellen.

  14. Great interview, Mason!

    Sue-Ellen, I adore Scotland and Scottish history too. In the two times I visited Scotland I felt so comfortable, like I'd belonged there in a time long ago. I've no idea why. And the people and culture are wonderful. I'll definitely be on the look out for this series of yours!


  15. Fantastic interview, ladies. I haven't been up to Scotland yet (shocking, I know - I need to get there!) but I hear it's beautiful. Lucky you for spending so much time exploring it!

  16. Great interview. And great cover.

  17. Great interview. I love writing at night as well but I don't know if I could do a 12 -3 schedule. The one reason I write at night is because in Mexico it's so hot that writing during the afternoon is torture.


  18. If her books are as interesting as she is, I think I'll be hooked!

    Thanks for the guest post. I'm happy to meet this author.

  19. Nice to meet you. I can see how your previous employment is a great source of book ideas. I had a teacher once, years ago, who had been in the FBI. We were studying communism under him and he had a lot of insight. The book sounds like one I'd love to read.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  20. I really enjoyed Sue Ellen's guest posting! I am proud to have a bit of Scottish in our background.

  21. I also loved M.M. Kaye's The Far Pavilions, Sue Ellen. I may just have to read it again to see if I enjoy it as much the second time.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.