Uncovering the Stories of the Past

When I wrote Across the Deep, it took me a decade. A decade of sifting through the historical record and the treasure trove of letters and journals left to me and my cousins by my grandfather.  Every new thing I read brought these people to life in new and vibrant ways. You see, it's one… Continue reading Uncovering the Stories of the Past


What’s in a (book) name?

Just over a month ago I announced that my book, Legacy of Faith, had won the Word Alive Press Publishing Contest and would become published.  Don't worry, that's still happening!  But after careful thought, the good people there felt that the title I've been using might be too common.  They also thought it sounds more… Continue reading What’s in a (book) name?


Friday Fact: The Bass Rock

When I was researching my book Legacy of Faith, the Bass Rock was an important part of John Mackilligen's story. He spent three years imprisoned on this barren island, along with many other Covenanters (illegal Presbyterians) at the time. The Rock itself is magnificent.  It's basically a cube of volcanic rock that rises steep-sided out… Continue reading Friday Fact: The Bass Rock


Critique Tuesday: Jennie Under Siege

It's finished!  My first draft of Legacy of Faith is finished after nearly a decade of research and writing.  To celebrate, here'a an excerpt.  This is the very beginning of the siege, when Jennie goes into the Peking foreign legations and anticipates the trouble to come. June 20, 1900: Peking, China The foreign legations of China… Continue reading Critique Tuesday: Jennie Under Siege


Critique Tuesday: John and his Enemy

I just finished this excerpt from my wip Legacy of Faith this afternoon. This is an imagined encounter based on a real life enmity between John Mackilligen, the Covenanter (illegal Presbyterian) and John Paterson, the Bishop of Ross. 1670: Ballachraggan, Ross, Scotland.  John Paterson, the Bishop of Ross looked down his prominent nose, narrowing his heavy-lidded… Continue reading Critique Tuesday: John and his Enemy


Friday Fact: The Family Compact

When the average settler, like William McKillican, arrived in Upper Canada in 1816 it may have been a trackless wilderness, but there was already a strict ruling oligarchy in place. They were known as the Family Compact - a group of Conservative British Anglicans who held a staunch hold over the young colony.   If… Continue reading Friday Fact: The Family Compact


Why does family history matter?

While I've been working onmy wip about my family history, I've been thinking--what does it all matter?  Why do we care what dead ordinary people did centuries ago? I guess the answer for me is that in my mind they're not really dead.  The stories I have about my ancestors bring them to life in… Continue reading Why does family history matter?


Meet John

In August, I introduced Jennie, and in September you read about William.  Now I'd like to present the third real-life character in my work in progress, Legacy of Faith. John Mackilligen was a much earlier cousin of William and Jennie McKillican, but he was likely an inspiration to their faith. The kirkyard in Alness, Ross, where John's church… Continue reading Meet John