Monday, February 7, 2022

S.C.O.N.E.S. and Scones – A Potluck, Spotlight Special by @MysteryMacRae


Current scones

Maya Corrigan, our usual Potluck Monday host, kindly shared today with me. Thank you, Maya! And just like a community potluck, today’s post is some of this and some of that—half Spotlight Sunday, where I’ll introduce you to myself and to the S.C.O.N.E.S., and half Potluck Monday where I’ll ask whether you eat scones or scones.

I grew up in a family with six kids, a variety of pets, magazines, newspapers, shelves and shelves of books, and a mom and dad who read to us at bedtime long past the point we could read to ourselves. As a crew, we were quite spread out. Mom and Dad had someone in high school every year for twenty years. Wow. We ate supper together every night. I loved the reading and the family meals. I love my family.

All the wild MacRaes c. 1960
Mom took the picture, Dad is in the back of the boat, I'm in a life jacket on the right.

My sweet boys in 1986.
Ross, with the pot, does most of our cooking these days.
Gordon has two boys of his own who like to cook with him.

From pesky sister to wife and mom, and through jobs as a museum curator and director, independent bookstore manager, and connecting children with books at the public library, stories and books have been a common thread in my life. My first short story came out in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine in January 1990. My fifteenth book, Argyles and Arsenic, comes out March 1st. You can find a list of my stories and books here.

Argyles and Arsenic is the fifth book in my Highland Bookshop Mysteries. Writing these books has been my way of returning to Scotland where I spent a year studying British prehistory at Edinburgh University. I love Scotland and don’t get back often enough. The series’ ensemble cast—four women who buy Yon Bonny Books in Inversgail on the west coast of the Highlands—are natural amateur sleuths. Of course, right? They’re so good that they’ve been dubbed the Shadow Constabulary of Nosy Eavesdropping Sleuths (S.C.O.N.E.S.)

As you’ll guess from the title, the latest adventure for the S.C.O.N.E.S. involves arsenic. Also argyle socks, a knitting competition, an evening of decanting and decluttering, a food truck, baked potatoes, murder, and scones—not necessarily in that order.

Words fascinate me as much as stories and books. I like knowing where words come from, how old they are, how they’re used, and how people pronounce them. For instance, if I offer you one of those slightly sweet baked goods that resemble biscuits but aren’t biscuits at all, will I offer you a scone, which rhymes with cone? Not if we’re in Inversgail with the S.C.O.N.E.S. Scone, in Scotland, is almost universally pronounced so that it rhymes with gone and Sean (Sean also rhyming with gone and not bean). In Ireland you’re likely to get a scone (cone). In England and Wales you can’t quite be sure which one you’ll get.

In a massive effort, Cambridge University mapped the variation in scone pronunciation throughout the UK and Ireland. You can see the map here. And you can read a short history of scones at Food

Orange almond scones with cardamom

So do you eat scone-gones or scone-cones? When I lived in Scotland, I was a goner. These days I’m more of a scone-coner. Whichever way you say it, do you have any idea how much we love scones at Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen? As of July 30, 2021, we’ve featured 55 recipes for them on the blog (thank you, Vicki Delany, for counting). Here are links to four of the recipes.

Apple-Cheddar Scones from Leslie Budewitz

Traditional Afternoon Tea Scones from Vicki Delany

Savory Herb Scones from Daryl Wood Gerber

Orange Almond Scones with Cardamom from Molly MacRae

If you’d like even more scone recipes from the blog—or if you’re interested in other recipes we’ve featured, particular ingredients, earlier editions of Potluck Mondays, specific authors, etc.—scroll down the right side of the blog until you get below the line of our latest book covers. When you see the search box for our “Blog Archive,” scroll just a little farther and you’ll see “Search This Blog.” Type your search term in the box, hit enter, and you can search for recipes galore (galore is from the Scottish Gaelic gu leóir meaning sufficiently enough).

Thanks for spending time with me today. For anyone who’d like to, you can connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.


Did you know that pre-orders make the publishing world go round? Part of a publisher’s decision for continuing a series depends on how many books are pre-ordered before the publication date. Writing and publishing are an interesting business. That said, Argyles and Arsenic is available for pre-order in e-book and hardback at Independent booksellers, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon, or ask for it at your public library.


The Boston Globe says Molly MacRae writes “murder with a dose of drollery.” She’s the author of the award-winning, national bestselling Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries and the Highland Bookshop Mysteries. As Margaret Welch, she writes books for Annie’s Fiction. Her short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine since 1990 and she’s a winner of the Sherwood Anderson Award for Short Fiction. 


My husband Mike and me at a signing for my first book, Wilder Rumors, in 2007. 
We've lived in Texas, Tennessee, and Illinois.
Mike makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches in the world and he paints.






  1. Thank you for sharing this peek into your personal life, Molly! I'm also a big lover of word history and usage.

  2. Great post. I have not read your books but have added to my TBR list. Loved the family history and pictures.

  3. Love the discussion on scones. I think I tend to mentally vacillate on the pronunciation. But I don't vacillate on eating them!

    You've reminded me that I used to get lost in the dictionary (that marvelous, antiquated piece of publishing) looking at word derivations. Wonder why I stopped?

    "galore is from the Scottish Gaelic gu leóir meaning sufficiently enough" Sufficiently enough. Marvelous.

    1. Isn't 'sufficiently enough' lovely? I'm glad to know you're another dictionary reader, Libby.

    2. I just got a library book I'd reserved. Don't remember where I heard of it. Turns out it's copyright is 1945! A few years older than me!!!
      Dictionary of Word Origins Joseph T. Shipley
      It is exactly what the title says, a dictionary of words with their origins, not meanings. I'm not sure where to even begin looking in it!

  4. Thank you for the fun and informative post. I love the SCONES acronym! Last month I spent a few days at a Key Largo inn which serves scones for breakfast. Each day, there were 4-6 flavors, e.g., blueberry lime, coconut pecan, raspberry cream cheese. The flavors changed from day to day. They all tasted great, but they seemed more like a cross between the British scone and the American muffin.

    1. Key Largo sounds lovely, MaryAnn. I like fruit and nuts and sometimes cheese in a scone, but I'm not a fan of sweet glaze or icing on top. SCONES - thanks! I was so pleased when that worked without being too convoluted.

  5. So delighted. I love anything and everything Scottish. I was not aware of your series. Mhairi and Geordie my Scottish Terrier rescues will appreciate your books as well as they ,well more Geordie lay across my as I read.

  6. Love the post interesting. I just started with both your series and love them. Starting book two on both of them. Love them