Back to the Blog!

blogxheathrowAs many of you know, I’ve been off on a mega-frolic for the past couple weeks on the Scotland with Grace 2016 tour. We should have called it the Scotland For Fun tour. I’ve never traveled with such a nice, considerate, convivial group of people.

And yet, all good things must end, so I’m back in the writing chair, moving on to other good things (like revisions for the second Windham Bride, and drafting book three in that series). Getting home from Scotland takes some doing. I hop the train down to London from Edinburgh (400 miles in four hours), then catch a cab out to a hotel at Heathrow Airport, if I’m not up to schlepping luggage via the London underground.

blogxsamAfter a night at the Hilton Terminal Four, I toodle over to Terminal Two (Heathrow is about 30,000 acres, and moves 75 million travelers a year), with the suitcase that decided its handle was done extending.

Did the boarding pass thing, and then moved on to the baggage drop. My head at this point is filled with “I am terrified of flying/Be brave, Grace/I don’t wanna be brave/I still have my passport, right?” and other travel-day chatter. The nice guy who’s wrangling the queue at the baggage drop goes down the line checking passports and asking a few questions of each traveler.

He gets to me. “Were you here on business or pleasure?”

“Business, but I had a lot of fun, too.”

blogxgerardxwalkerHe squints at my passport. “What sort of business?”

“I write romance novels, and I was traveling in Scotland with a group of readers and writers.”

“Who owns the company that produced this tour?”

“I do.” Except I don’t. Beltane Tours did the leg work for the tour. Grace Burrowes Publishing was just color commentary.

“For how long have you owned it?”

“25 years.” Grace Burrowes Publishing is a wholly owned subsidiary of my law office, which I’ve owned since I first dreaded flying.

“Who is the inspiration for your romance novels?”

HUH? The first thing that came to my mind was, “My readers,” but I didn’t think he’d get that. I had the sense he expected me to come back with, “Gerard Butler,” or “Sam Hueghan.”

I don’t even know those guys. This question utterly stumped me. Who inspires me to write? Who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself? Who saw my potential when I was too busy locating the exits and not losing my passport?

“My mother.”

scotlandxwithxglassesHe smiled. “Have a nice flight, and come see us again soon.”

That question stuck with me across the entire ocean. Who inspires me? Who protects my creative flame when the winds are high? Who motivates me to keep going when I’m afraid to fly? Who inspires me? The answer I gave was certainly true–my mom loved me ferociously–but so was the answer I didn’t.

My readers inspire me.

Who inspires YOU?

To one reader, I’ll send a pair of engraved Scotland With Grace 2016 Glencairn glasses. You can drink whisky out of them, or use them for vases…

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92 comments on “Back to the Blog!

    • I’ve added Helen to my collection of “future heroines,” along with Winnie, Priscilla and Rose. They match up pretty well with Ethan’s two boys, but I’m in boy-child deficit otherwise. Must get busy!

      • Garths’ 2 oldest boys? Trenton’s oldest? Darrius’/Trenton/Leah’s half brother? Plus Ethan’s…

  1. I think I’m mostly inspired by people I don’t know but who have done things I wish I had. One example is writers of books I admire, such as Jane Austen and you (no, I’m not buttering you up but we’re similar in age and you’re a lawyer and a mother and a great writer and part of me feels kind of unaccomplished therefore). Another is great athletes, such as the Olympians, especially those who are in less popular sports and don’t get sponsorship or government money. A little bit I inspire myself.

    • Karen,
      Don’t feel un-accomplished. I didn’t put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard) until my daughter left home, and I haven’t really had to cook or keep house since. Frees up a lot of time when you don’t have look after anybody else.

      I was married to an ulta-marathoner, and you’re right: Athletes give up a lot to hone their abilities. I’m also impressed with dancers, particularly ballet dancers. They work so hard, for so long, have such short careers, and get paid so little…. if that’s not passion, I’m not sure what is.

  2. Lots of things and people inspire me. My children do, when they aren’t driving me buggy. My spouse does when he isn’t making me crossed-eyed with his non-sequiturs. My parents do (and my mother did and my father still does). Music and all sorts of art works (I’m crazy about the Impressionists) and architecture inspire me to improve, or be moved, when I need some beauty and sanity in my life.

    I was inspired to buy a case of tomatoes from a farm stand and made fresh tomato sauce for pasta yesterday and fresh tomato pizza today. Homemade catsup will be made next week. More tomato items to follow. The end of summer and beginning of autumn inspired me to do it.

    Sounds like you all had a blast…..maybe I’ll come along next time! Happy you’re back here, too.

    • I hope you do come along next time! Our hosts are Scottish traditional musicians and historians. We didn’t scratch the surface of who and what they know on the Scottish musical scene, but you’d enjoy them on general principles.

      I always get a shot of energy this time of year. Maybe I’m sleeping better, maybe I’m getting ready to hibernate, but I love it when the light changes and the humidity drops. Leave no tomato un-canned!

      • Humidity dropped? Oh you lucky lady! When I got home a bit ago it was 90o feeling like 99o and headed to 97o before the heat index.

  3. Welcome Home!

    I find inspiration from many different sources: a book, an article, Pinterest, friends and this blog. Earlier this year, you posted about motivation and challenging yourself. That blog hit home. It inspired me.

    After reading the blog, I decided to set a couple of goals. One goal was to earn an obedience title with Celeste (completed in April), the second was getting a new job (completed in June) and the third was to put a grand championship title on my corgi Greg (completed yesterday).

    Each one of these goals required me to get out of my comfort zone to achieve it. I took lessons, drove to different obedience classes and asked for help in my interview process. I learned that people can be kind and generous with their time and supportive. I have paid it forward and helped two co workers with their interview process.

    I enjoyed Ashton and Helen made me smile though out the novel. I bet you have a Scotish lad who will fall head over heels for her!

    • Sue.. what a year you’ve had! What strikes me is that any one thing on your list could have stopped you–it’s too hard, it’s beyond my control, the economy stinks, so much about success in the show ring is up to chance… but you were both strategic and persistent with all of these goals.

      If I were Greg and Celeste, I’d be planning on a big wall for my ribbons.

      The best is yet to be!

    • I’m inspired by Mom, she’s always been a determined and hard worker and has never allowed life’s ups and downs to affect her. She’s strong no matter the siuation.

    • The amazing thing about the tour group was that from the first day, we were on the same wavelength. I was happy to spend time with every single person who came along, and didn’t want the tour to be over.

      Your mom sounds amazing. My mom was too, though it took me decades to realize it. Better late than never.

  4. I am so jealous you got to go to Scotland. My father and his family are from Ireland, and I have long dreamed about going to Ireland and Scotland.

    • Susan, you have to go. The dollar is very strong against the pound right now, and it’s off season. Nose around on the internet, and get you back to the old sod. When our ancestors stepped onto a boat to get over here, or took a plane, or were transported or abducted from their homelands, they were cut off from tap roots that go back thousands of years.

      My ancestry is Scotch-Irish, German, Spanish, English, and I don’t know what all, but seeing places where people made lives thousands of years ago is reassuring and profound. We have that here too, but where I live, the record has largely been obliterated. Do it–you won’t be sorry.

  5. I guess since I have no kids, I would have to say my parents still inspire me even though they are no longer here. My mom was one of the kindest most gentle people I’ve ever known. Always had a kind word for everybody, never complained about anything. My dad never finished school but was one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. He also had a wonderful sense of humor. I also have wonderful friends who inspire me daily.

    • Interesting that you mention children as a source of inspiration, because my daughter certainly does inspire me. She sounds like your mom. Kind, compassionate, tolerant, never a cross word… while she puts up with a LOT and never complains. She amazes me. I must tell her that RIGHT NOW. Thanks!

    • Ahhhh. I love that. husband/best friend. Somebody did a study of happy long-term couples. When asked (separately to what they attributed their success, but spouses said, as their most common first response, “I’m married to my best friend.”

      You’re onto something!

  6. I am inspired by my mother. She always tried to lead by example. She was very thrifty but still tried to give her family everything. She was an amazing woman who I should have appreciated more when she was alive. She sacrificed so much so her 3 children could have more. I was privileged to go to Catholic school for 12 years while she wore the same dress almost every day.
    I now try to set the same example for my two daughters so they can have a good life. It keeps me very busy and even now as I just turned 65 years old I am so blessed!! Life is good!!!

    • Leading by example is so hard, and so valuable. I’m reminded of my friend, who got fed up with her kids being on their cell phones all the time. She hollered and fussed and carried on… until the day she was tearing a strip off her daughter about “Why are you always on that phone?” Her daughter calmly walked over, took the cell phone out of her MOTHER’S hand, and said, “That’s why.”

      Yikes!

      My mom gave up a lot too, but I don’t think she regretted any of it. Your mama raised you right, Isabel. I think your daughters would say the same thing about their mama.

  7. My biggest inspirations right now are my parents. My Dad was diagnosed this year at 68 with ALS. Inspite of the terminal illness and the awareness he probably won’t be around nearly as long as my grandparents are, he’s kept moving with a smile. My Mom took care of my grandfather for years with Alzheimer’s before he passed on. She has now taken on that role for my Dad, learning about his feeding tube, breathing machines, and completely remodeling their house for wheelchair accessibility. She’s the strongest woman I know and if I can do half as well, I’ll consider my life a resounding success.

    • I’m so sorry your family is dealing with this. It’s a right stinker of a diagnosis, even though we’re learning more about the disease each year. I will keep you and yours in my thoughts, and hope it’s a peaceful,loving time, despite the challenges.

  8. My inspiration stems from so many sources, I am inspired by making an impact and leaving behind a legacy or even a momentary encounter that will live long past when I depart this earth. My son inspires me to be a better person so that he has a positive example. My art inspires me to keep dreaming and my few friends / cheerleaders inspire me to strive to see myself as they do. My family inspires me to prove them wrong and prove that I can be big, I can make an impact and that I am worthy. So no one thing inspires me but a whole lot of little things do.

    • What a cool litany. Last thing before bed (after I read over my pages for the day), I list at least five things I’m grateful for. Sometimes, it’s hard to stop at five–so I don’t. Sounds like you don’t either.

  9. I often find myself inspired with the stories I read thru Facebook posts or in some magazines. Regular people who do for others and/or overcome difficulties. Even stories of small kindnesses can remind us of the importance of connecting with others to put a smile on someone’s face.

    That sounds like a magical trip to Scotland – now if only we could make the travel part faster & easier.

    • Diane, what you said about the travel. The older I get, the longer it takes me to get over those long, long, long flights. Yes, it’s easier flying west, but not much. A week later, I’m still napping.

  10. I am inspired by all of the strong women in my family. I felt weak after my divorce until I looked a the women in my family and realized everything they have gone through and yet they remained positive and caring women. That to be honest is my goal is to grow old and remain open, positive and strong.

    • Interesting you should say this, Jeanine. For my master’s program, I had to do a genogram, and because my family takes an interest in family history, I knew most of my tree back at least four generations, and in many cases five. For the first time in my life, I was struck by all the hardship and challenges the women in family have dealt with. My great-grandma’s husband committed bigamy and left her with two small children. My grandma was widowed with a baby a nineteen. My other grandma was seventeen when she lost her mother and became the lady of her father’s house. She gave birth to her first child in a tent at mine…. I could go on and on.

      Those women were invincible, and I want to be worthy of their legacy.

  11. Hope your trip home was smooth and event-free! As for inspiration… well. That comes from a lot of different directions. I would say my family, just through sheer encouragement and support over long years. The same goes for the masters at my Tae Kwon Do school; they’re so supportive, and show me what I can do to just keep going. And lastly, people who have gone above and beyond to make a difference, to break barriers and take strides to make a difference in the world. This can be as big as the Suffragettes who fought so long and hard to earn us women the right to vote, to as small as a little boy who spent a couple years growing out his hair just so he could cut it all off and donate it to make wigs for cancer patients. They’re all making a difference, even if it’s just to one person. That one person still matters.

  12. Missed you!! Very happy to hear that the adventure abroad was a success. I am inspired by dark woods, expansive blue skies, mountain meadows, quiet, cool mornings… And when that all is out of reach I often get by with a little NPR.

    • NPR might be the last bastion of worthwhile journalism. I can see why you have it on your list.

      I’m inspired by nature too, and by my pets. They are so accepting, and tolerant or me, and patient. Wish more people could rise to the example they set.

  13. Wonderful post, I wish I had been able to join the adventure.
    My mother inspires me. I’ve seen her handle every horrible thing life has thrown at her with dignity and strength. She has shown me that through hard work and perseverance anything (except growing taller) truly is possible. Last year she retired after 25 years service I the Army and I was proud to have been a part of her ceremony.

    • Taller isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, right? Congratulations to your mother on her retirement, and 25 years of service. I’m guessing she has a quite a few stories, that I hope somebody is inspiring HER to tell.

  14. My kids and grandkids are my inspiration. They inspire to reach for the stars and show me that nothing is out of my reach. If I can dream it, then I can achieve it.

  15. My children and grandchildren inspire me to live a vibrant, full life especially when loss and sadness struck a hard blow. Every day is a blessing filled with joy and love.

  16. I am always inspired by common people who do uncommon things. Also by people who take action from an epic event, that went beyond the norm or the expected reaction. As for those great glasses, would love to get them, as we are a 5th of Scotch and a pint of Irish here!

    • Your comment reminds me of a snippet of Gandhi’s biography. There’s a picture of him looking all dapper and hopeful as a young lawyer, trying to learn to foxtrot because it was all the rage. He was so young, and so unaware of the great things he’d do years later. Just another tadpole lawyer trying to fit in…

      And then.

  17. My daughter and her children inspire me. With six living grands, aged six months to 14 years I realize I want to hang around long enough to watch them grow up. That will put me at 94 and I see no reason why I can’t live that long if I take care of myself. Grace I’d love those glasses even though I can’t drink. I think using them for iced tea would be perfect.

  18. My mother inspires me. She is a special gift in my life and I thank God for her every day. Glad you had a great trip and the blog is back.

  19. Like many here, my mother inspires me. She will be 97 at the end of this month and we’re going to Disneyworld to celebrate- her choice. LOL

    • Thanks, Mary. Knowing I have a post to draft means I go through my week with my eyes a little more open, my ears a little more to the ground. “Would that make an interesting post? Would it resonate with the readers?”

      I needed a break, but I also like the attentiveness I have from having a post to draft.

  20. Who inspires me depends on what I’m doing. My father never question anything I wanted to do in my live but quietly supported me. I think like him, I have his temperament and his practical realism (those whiskey glasses aren’t half full or half empty, they are going to waste while waiting for some thirsty person to drink). My mother the 2nd grade teacher inspires me when dealing with the little children and child like adults. My favorite teachers, my best friend the home health care nurse, and my grandmothers…

    I think as people in general are different, so are the people and reasons they inspire us.

    • My dad has inspired me too, but as you point out, not with stirring speeches or memorable sermons. He has seven children and a wife to support, and his example was, “Keep your nose to the grindstone.” So many people go astray because nobody ever modeled for them sheer, unrelenting persistence, and many a dream has been unrealized as a result.

      I could never finish a manuscript, but for the example of my father, sitting at the dining room table night after night, working on his scientific publications when the house was finally, finally quiet.

      • Grace what did your Dad do? He sounds like my father but he only went through the 6th. He had very sound advice that stuck with me. Miss him everyday. My husband wrote many scientific publications in his career in research. He is a biochemist. He got his P.H.D. At UNC in Chapel,Hill, NC.

      • My dad wanted to be a dairy farmer, but that’s a hard calling to get into if you’re not born into a farming family. He ended becoming a dairy scientist, keenly interested in cell biophysiology. He was teaching at the college level as the “publish or perish” mentality took hold, so by gum, he published. He creds include a textbook on dairy chemistry, which my mom wanted to title, “Milk: Man’s Breast Friend.”

        Coulda been a bestseller, but Dad didn’t listen to her.

  21. My husband of 47 years has inspired me from when we first met. We are retired now but he worked as a biochemist and research scientist writing grants and doing research and science to help people with new medical discoveries. It was really tough acquiring grants and didn’t pay a lot but this was his calling. He is also a fine christian, a loving husband and father. He is the only one who always paid attention to my ideas and didn’t think I was just a silly women. He has made me think about my life and my own opinions and consider ideas that kept me from being narrow minded. I remember when we were dating, I asked him a question. He didn’t answer for a few minutes and I finally ask him if he heard me. He laughed and replied that he was just considering his answer. I had never met anyone like that. I was 17 years.

  22. Grace:. I had a fantastic time on your Scotland with Grace inaugural tour, and I very much appreciate all the time you took to mentor those of us who are beginner/wannabe authors. If I could afford it, I would sign up for next year’s tour in a heartbeat. I continue to be one of your biggest fans, and am very much looking forward to the next group of Windham stories.

    • I have my eye on you, ridin’ buddy. I had a great time in Scotland, and had to go off in the occasional corner and pinch myself. “This is happening! We’re in Scotland! We ARE!”

      I love hanging with other writers, and I have great hopes for “A enter working trot, X, halt, fall in love.”

  23. I definitely get inspired by my husband who has been a cheerleader for every hair-brained episode I’ve started. Like the time I took a travel agent course just before everything went to online booking. Like when I was going to be the next VanGogh and sell my paintings at craft fairs….not a good idea. Oh I could go on and on but you get the idea. He just encouraged and then picked up the pieces.

  24. I am inspired by those who create with seemingly very little or in adverse circumstances, who are gifted with a spark they use. There is my mother, a needle artist. Place in her hands a knitting needle, crochet needle, rug hook, embroidery, needlepoint or sewing needle, and she would create something beautiful, belying a sad and enbittered childhood. I inspired by a grandfather of dour Scots-Irish stock, who nevertheless could laugh, whose father died when he was fourteen so that he was required to quit school and go to work to support his mother and siblings, who yet had such a dignity and courtliness that he inspired others to trust him as he built a business of three music stores. He was an inverterate reader. Finally I am inspired by my many times removed grandparents, born in Alsace-Lorraine, perhaps recruited by Silas Deane, who left their home to come to this country to support the American cause in hopes of earning a better future for themselves and their children. I am inspired by all those who strive for the possibilities they see against all the evils of life that beset them.

  25. Ooo like those and if your answer was good enough to get you on the plane then it works! You aren’t alone in your dislike of flying. It’s a necessary evil!

    • I spent a lot of time and effort making it possible for me to ride horses. They are roughly eight times my size (even a medium one), and have a thinking brain the size of a walnut. I am more afraid to get on a plane than I have ever been to sit on a horse. But a life lived entirely in the avoidance of fear won’t do, so onto the plane I do get, and off to Scotland I do go.

  26. My girlfriends inspire me. They manage families, careers, homes, husbands, so many variables that they end up with responsibility for yet little to no control. That takes perseverance and love…and a dram.

    • I came across a blog post from a guy who teaches writing. He’d responded to the question, “How do you find time to write?” with a blunt, “I make time to write. It’s important to me, therefore it happens.” I know what he meant–the Tooth Fairy has yet to leave a completed manuscript under my pillow–but if the question was from a woman, I don’t think he understood what she was asking–or he would never have come up with that response.

      She was asking,, “How do you make time to write when you’re borderline exhausted most of the time, while being the one to manage the marriage, do most of the parenting, do most of the house work, do most of the elder care, do almost all of the cooking and meal planning, while earning $.79 on the white male dollar, receiving inferior health care for those aspects of health care you have coverage for, and oh yeah, remembering birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, and other milestone for oh, maybe twenty-thirty people, and rolling a cultural boulder uphill that says, ‘my needs come last, and if I’m not dead, I’m fine?’ and dealing with a corporate culture that is toxic as heck for anybody but extroverted, white males with sociopathic tendencies?”

      I wrote one of those comments that you labor over for twenty minutes and then delete, because who needs another flame war with strangers?

      Your girlfriends inspire me too. As do you. ALL of you.

  27. So my first, impulsive answer was “me.” But is sounded so self-important I went and looked up the definition of inspire. And I’m still left with me as the answer to who inspires me.

    I have wonderful family and friends who support me, but I drive me. I protect me. I drag myself through the personal floods that rise. I don’t know how to let someone else do that for me. No matter what it is I’m not good at letting people help me. I introvert so hard that sometimes I not sure how I’ve made friends.

  28. I’m glad you and the blog are back, Grace! To answer the question, I have to say my family – particularly my husband and kids – inspire me.

  29. My husband has inspired me for over 50 years. We were high school sweethearts and have known each other for over 54 years. He is always there for me in every way; we’ve had tough times . . . the death of a child; great times . . . the birth of a son and 2 grandchildren, and many wonderful years together, some great and some too sad to talk about. Through it all he has always been supportive in every endeavor that I have taken upon myself. He has been the angel beneath my wings for over 54 years and I hope we have each other for a few more warm and happy years. He keeps telling me to write about our many experiences . . . maybe I should try.

    • Yes, you should try! We don’t hear enough about couples who go the distance, and what it takes to do that. My parents made it 70 years, and I know one author whose grandparents are brushing up against 75 years together. I would LOVE to read your stories, and you have the perfect beta reader in your hubby.

  30. I am always inspired by the kindness and compassion of people who just reach out. I feel as if they best represent who God is and remind us of how we should live. Welcome home and thank you for the blessing of your books.

    • You’re right. I find kindness–the genuine, spontaneous, selfless kind–to be the most motivation example. The times when people have just been gratuitously nice to me–changed a tire, lent me some cash when I’d left my wallet at home, trusted me to make good on a debt–have taken my breath away.

  31. I know I’ll get in trouble for this statement, but I have the best girlfriends in the world. I am constantly in awe of their courage, honesty, love, generosity, and their joy of life.

    • Now WHY would you get in trouble for telling the truth? So much good fiction revolves around the “Cheers,” a close-knit group of friends who might not always see things the same way you do, but they’re there for you in a way even family often isn’t. I think that trope has staying power because many of us have caught a glimpse of it in real life-or we wish we could.

  32. As one of the “lucky sixteen” I can confirm that Scotland with Grace was quite an adventure. Can’t imagine a better time than hanging out with Grace Burrowes for 10 days and sucking up all that history of Scotland! Glorious mountains, stone buildings, heather and the Queen – yes we saw her and Prince Charles. What inspires me is my amazing God who loves me even when many times I am not too loveable. He’s really something else and I aspire to be his reflections in my actions and how I treat others. It’s a work in progress

    • Said the person who showed our professional Scottish tour guides a wonder even THEY didn’t know was lurking right under their noses!

      My mom used to say that she talked to God just as she talked with a friend. I suspect God talked to back to her the same way.

  33. You said, “My mother,” and although I loved my mother dearly we had our moments. She was ready to leave this world when she did, and I seldom cry remembering her. However, I cried this time. Because she always believed in me and inspired me to do well. She was always there to listen to me. And you reminded me of that. I love your books. I love the underlying messages of sex being healthy and how to talk about it and the values of respect for one another and caring for all.

    • Thanks, Ruth. My mom and I did not get along all that well earlier in life. For a year or two, we didn’t talk at all because she was ashamed of my choice of boyfriend. Fortunately, my family is not one that hangs onto old business, and at some point, I became very protective of my mother.

      Odd, how the years turn wheels. Sounds like your mom and my mom would have had a lot in common.

  34. My parents inspire me, although my father has been gone for 4 years now. Their love for each other and the back up they provided showed me how a family can be a team – we quickly learned that if one parent said no, you didn’t ask another. They had a sense of humor about raising us too – when Mom (who was out of town with her very ill mother) asked Dad what time I got home from prom, he told her he wasn’t sure but I was there when he woke up in the morning. Mom, at 82, still has the humor, the love and the energy to keep up with all of the extended family. We joke that somewhere a portrait is aging while she still takes care of all of us. My thanks and love are ever hers.

    • Sorry you lost your dad. My grandfather passed away six years before my grandmom, and my mother in particular enjoyed those years. They both missed Grandpa, but they also relished having a few years to be mother and daughter without Grandpa sticking his oar in.

      That probably doesn’t sound the way I mean it to, but if there was a silverlining to widowhood, Grandma found it. She was that kind of light.

  35. I was trolling through your blogs….this one is a couple weeks old, so you might never see this post. I mean…seriously….you have those Windham cousins to get sorted out, which btw, I can NOT wait for!!!

    …but your comment about your mother inspiring you to write got me choked up. My mother has been gone 17 years but her voice is often in my head, her eyes look back at me when I’m putting makeup on, and our mutual love of flowers continues in my flower garden.

    Just wanted you to know how often your words strike such a chord in me.
    Thank you for all you share!