Chatting about heroes with author June Gundlack

Good morning! A bright but chilly Sunday here in Edinburgh. I'll be heading out soon for a walkie.

But first, please join me on my visit to my lovely author friend, June Gundlack. I'm chatting about heroes. Not the superheroes of current movie franchises, but my very own!

Come on over!

I'd love to hear what you think of my guys... :-)

In praise of the ebook revolution by David Robinson

Are you a fan of ebooks? I am (as you may have noticed...)! I find the wider range of outlets, and with it potential readers, very appealing.

I don't share many other blog posts through here, but thought this might interest my writer friends. Author David Robinson has been in the trade for decades. I fully agree with him, being a relative 'newbie' compared to him. ;-)

Take a look at his blog today:


Romantic Scotland, England, Ireland, France. Germany?

Where would you set a romantic adventure?

My writing has taken me to medieval England, Normandy and Scotland, to Jacobite Scotland and Victorian Cornwall. All very dramatic settings full of fascinating history.

But whilst I'm still working on my medieval Scottish WIP, my mind has wandered to other countries to write about. For example, I over the years, I've visited many historical sites, castles, cathedrals and towns in Germany. (An intriguing place to visit is Speyer Cathedral, with its long history and crypt!) 

Speyer Cathedral - (c) Wikipedia
With lush, wild landscapes, independent towns and cities, meandering rivers and dark forests, you'd think it an ideal setting for romantic shenanigans. Knight against knight; tribal clashes; prince against prince.

Of course, most readers will automatically associate Germany with WWI and II. And it must be remembered. But that's not the only history Germany has to offer, nor should it remain the only part of German history people should know about. Let's go back in time.

Knights, rulers in their own lands overlooking strategic river positions or trade routes, set their own laws, pretty similar to the Highland clans pre-Clearances. So why are there so few romances set in what is now called Germany but which over the centuries used to consist of tribes, nomads, then free towns, feudal lordships and principalities (if there are any in the English language)? With so many Saxon romances about, why doesn't anyone trace them back to their places of origin, the North Sea shores of central Europe? (I'd be happy to be proved wrong there.) 

Our history goes way back. If you research the Teutonic Knights or delve into the intrigues of the Holy Roman Empire, you'll find so much stuff that just cries out to be written. I have visited many sites linked to the Holy Roman Empire – cathedrals, crypts, exhibitions. It's a fascinating web of political intrigue, and there are some noteworthy periods that would be ideal for a budding romantic adventure.

Bad Mergentheim, longtime
 seat of the Teutonic Knights
The overlapping borders with (and, at regular intervals, enmity to) France adds to the appeal, I think. Intrigue over intrigue spanning centuries. Speaking of which, discover the Carolingians! And make sure to meet the Salians and Merovingians... :-)

Treading on Dreams...with author Jeff Gardiner

“Reading is a form of escapism, and in Gardiner’s fiction, 
we escape to places we’d never imagine journeying to.” 
A.J. Kirby, ‘The New Short Review’

Today, I welcome editor and author, Jeff Gardiner. He has established a firm foothold in the writing world over the last couple of years. Apart from successful publications with Crooked Cat, Eibonvale Press and Tirgearr Publishing, he has just signed a 3-book deal with Accent Press. Many congratulations!

But more about Jeff later. First of all, he talks about Love and Obsession...

Love and Obsession

My contemporary romance, ‘Treading On Dreams’, explores two themes: obsession and unrequited love. These two experiences are sometimes linked. Obsession can lead to the humiliation of your romantic desires being unwanted. Unreturned love can lead to an unhealthy obsession that turns into something darker: stalking, unreasonable behaviour, or worse…

In ‘Treading On dreams’, Donny is a sensitive, romantic eighteen year old who’s never had a relationship. He leaves home for university and shares a house with the very desirable Selena. As an inexperienced and insecure young man, Donny is not one of those arrogant egotists who assumes every girl wants to sleep with him – unlike Jaz, their landlord. Donny is shy, keeping his feelings to himself, which only feeds his dreams and fantasies.

So what is the difference between being in love and being obsessed? Is there a difference? Donny doesn’t give in, even as he gets to know Selena’s fiancé, Melvin. Instead, Donny decides to continue developing his friendship with her, while keeping his romantic and lustful feelings internalised. This, however, isn’t always a good thing.

Love can be a consuming – and sometimes debilitating – emotion at the best of times. When things are wrong, or exciting, then it can be difficult to concentrate on other parts of your life. Allowing one thought, fear, hope or desire to control you or stop other aspects of your life from developing is far from ideal. But when we’re enslaved by our romantic desires then it’s impossible to function normally. We probably all know someone who gave up on their friends to concentrate on that one ‘special relationship’, only for that relationship to break down and leave them isolated and lost. Equally, if you put all your hope in one person, only to be rejected – however kindly or sensitively – then this affects everything else in your life.

WB Yeats wrote a poem called ‘Never Give All the Heart’, which ends with the couplet:
He that made this knows all the cost,
For he gave all his heart and lost.

Yeats was obsessed with Maude Gonne, an Irish Nationalist revolutionary and his muse for so many poems. He proposed to her unsuccessfully four times, and had to watch her marry another man. Only when that marriage broke down was his love finally consummated. He proposed yet again, only to be rejected once more. So desperate was Yeats that he even proposed to Maud Gonne’s 21 year old daughter, but was turned down by her.

Now that is romantic tragedy! You couldn’t make this stuff up. So perhaps the answer is to not give ‘all the heart’.

Love is horribly complicated with no simple answers. Sometimes you have to make a judgement and take a risk. Who knows what that other person is really feeling? Who knows what the future holds? Perhaps all you can do is follow the old clichés about listening to your heart and seizing the day. It’s what poets, songwriters and authors have been trying to explore over the centuries.