Self-Published Saturday: Under a Gravid Sky

As you know, self-published/indie authors have to do it all, from editing to cover design to marketing and more. Self-Published Saturday is my attempt to help a little bit with the marketing side of things for self-published/indie authors. This post features a book I reviewed for the November issue of Historical Novels Review (HNR), the magazine of the Historical Novel Society. Below is my 5-star review. HNR must have agreed with me because they made this book an editor’s choice.

The Hanoverian Army, having won the Battle of Culloden in 1746, storms the northeastern Scottish Highlands, intent on crushing its clans. Seven-year-old Duncan hides while his family is burned to death. In 1747, five-year-old Rowena loses her mother, who dies in childbirth. Duncan is taken in by a priest, and then is passed to Rowena’s father, who teaches him the art of smuggling whisky. Rowena soon befriends Morna, the green woman, who eventually passes on to her the healing skills of the natural world. Years later, Hugh McBeath, a ruthless exciseman who has arrived to end the whisky smuggling in the area, is captivated by Rowena’s beauty. Although he thinks she is a witch, he wants her for his wife. Duncan, meanwhile, is the best smuggler in the glen, but feels he can never be worthy of the lovely and gifted Rowena.

Beautiful and breathtaking, this Scottish historical novel transports you to the sweeping beauty of the Highlands. The dialect is perfect for the period, and the lush descriptions of the scenery take the reader straight to the moss-covered mountains of Scotland. The story is alive with folklore as we learn of “wild places” and “faeryhills.” Because she is learning the art of healing and is sensitive to “the trees and their spirits,” Rowena is often thought of as a witch in a time when witches were tried and killed. The whisky-smuggling culture of the Highlands, and the reason for it, is also explored. Full of deception, treachery, love, folklore, and kinship, Under a Gravid Sky is a heartrending but passionate saga set in a tough and sometimes heartless time.

I received a free copy of this book via Historical Novels Review Magazine. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.


Angela MacRae Shanks was born in Garmouth, a village near the mouth of the River Spey in northeast Scotland, and still lives near here. Her mother was born in Strathavon, a real place, and this remote glen is very dear to her heart. Here she first heard tales of the dramatic history of the area, its people and their struggles, and became fascinated by it. 
Growing up in Moray, a beautiful part of Scotland known as ‘malt whisky country’, an interest in the area’s illicit past grew, particularly the smuggling of whisky and the reasons behind it. Her fascination with the natural world and the folklore of the Highlands, combined with her training in natural therapies spawned a need to weave herbal lore into her tales. Those who healed using plants and the wisdom of nature, usually women, were often condemned as witches – she felt the need to explore this injustice. And so The Strathavon Saga was born.


Amazon US

Amazon UK

Link to Book 2: The Blood and the Barley

Amazon US

Amazon UK

*Kindle Unlimited Subscribers can read the books for free.

Two Reminders before you go:

  1. If you buy the book(s), please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as anywhere else you review books. This is very important to self-published authors.
  2. Please click on the “share” buttons below and share these books with your Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress followers. A little bit of help from all of us will help self-published authors go a long way!

#Audiobook Review: Once There Were Wolves

This review is of the audiobook, provided to me by MacMillan Audio. 

Once There Were Wolves is the tale of two sisters, one of whom works with endangered wolves. Inti Flynn comes to Scotland, along with a team of wildlife biologists, to reintroduce gray wolves into the Scottish Highlands. She brings her twin sister Aggie, who has suffered horrible abuse, with her. Inti is met with anger and fear from the neighboring farmers who are afraid the wolves are going to attack their sheep. When a farmer is found dead, suspicion falls upon the wolves, and maybe Inti herself.

This is a beautiful book that gives us a peek into the lives of gray wolves, and the difficulties of introducing them back to their native habitats. Inti has a special and fascinating gift or curse, which allows her to understand the wolves and her fellow humans on a very intimate level. She has mirror touch synesthesia, which causes her to physically feel the pain and sensations of others, including animals. Aggie’s withdrawal into herself and Inti’s ability to communicate with her twin is touching and real. The murder mystery is intricate and nuanced, with many twists and turns. 

The audiobook narrator, Saskia Maareveld, did a wonderful job with all the characters, taking on different roles and accents with ease.

My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

Once There Were Wolves will be released August 3, 2021.


Charlotte McConaghy

​Charlotte McConaghy is an Australian author living in Sydney. She has a Masters Degree in Screenwriting from the Australian Film Television and Radio School, and a number of published SFF works in Australia. 

Her novel MIGRATIONS is her first foray into adult literary fiction, published in North America by Flatiron Books, and by Penguin Random House in Australia and the UK. It is being translated into over 20 languages, and adapted to film. 

Fuelled by her love of nature and her interest in stories of fierce women, McConaghy’s newest novel, ONCE THERE WERE WOLVES, is about a biologist charged with reintroducing wolves to the Scottish Highlands in order to rewild the landscape and bring a forest back to life. It will be released in August 2021.








I recently started spending some time on my previously neglected Instagram account, and I’d love to get some more followers and “likes” over there, so there is a link to my Instagram post for “Once There Were Wolves” in the photo above, and if you have an Instagram account, please follow and I will follow back.