Love for men larger than life

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Tudor roseAs you’ve begun to read this post, I’ll wager that you love them, the men larger than life. We have that in common, you and I. Chance-met in the labyrinths of the internet, we might spend together only a short moment. Or a very long time. It depends on whether or not I can sate your reading desires. Let’s see.

Always fascinated with great men of a bygone era, I’ve been writing about their fates for more than two decades now. And it’s a good thing, since personages in the mold of kings, princes, and emperors are all too rarely portrayed as lead characters in historical fiction. So, writing about them I also scratch my own itch for stories about men endowed with passionate souls and with capacity to make an indelible mark in the annals of history. Invariably, these men carried burdens so heavy that a giant would falter under their weight. The perils which they encountered endangered not only them personally, but whole nations. Their struggles, victories, and defeats changed the face of whole continents. How could it not be fascinating to follow their fates? Such men I find truly irresistible, and love writing about them.

If full truth be told, there is something within me that best connects with men whose reputations have unjustly been tarnished and whose greatness has been largely downplayed by their political enemies. Small surprise that Vlad the Third (aka Vlad Dracula) and Henry the Eighth are my life-long loves. I see them as the real men whom they were, and write their tales for them as they want them to be told. Vlad’s in the saga Dracula’s Love, and Henry’s in the series We, King Henry VIII.

With that said for introduction, let me give you a taste of my writing. See whether you like it. The following excerpt comes from We, King Henry VIII.

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Urging my stallion to gallop faster still, I laughed breathlessly against the wind whipping my face. The sky was falling on the earth. Leaden clouds pressed against the line of the horizon and a single oak tree on the empty plain was the only obstacle in the way of their oppressive presence. For now it held the weight of the heavens on its broad branches but its whole crown shook, combed by the gusts of wind.

I was racing toward it, alive and exhilarated as I had never been before. Winning, I was. But the hooves of his mare beat the ground not far behind me. Leaning forward in the saddle, I became one with the horse. We both moved in perfect harmony, straining to reach the tree first.

And we did. Although he and she were almost by our side when the trunk flew by us.

I gave my stallion free rein for a couple of yards more. Only then I slowed him down and turned him back toward the tree. And toward my prize.

In the saddle of a mare as black as the darkest night, with his silver mantle billowing in the blows of wind, my reward looked like the Devil’s Own. But I feared him not. I hungered for him and for what only he could give me.

We both halted our horses only when our legs almost touched. Leaning to him, I buried my gloved hand in his hair. He smirked at me. The same grimace that had challenged my beliefs… now challenged me. The core of me and my body. I embraced it, pressing my lips against his in a forceful, ravenous kiss. I ate his warm mouth, biting and caressing him at the same time. His grunt of need and his tongue wrestling with mine for the ultimate victory unleashed my passions. My lust broke out of its cage and now clamored for its fill. I had to possess him. All of him. And my kiss demanded his very soul. I was not exploring. I was conquering. But he refused to yield to my will. He matched it with his own, and took from me as much as he gave me. Our mouths warred each other, and loved each other all the same.

And we tugged each other in for more of the painful delight. Riding gloves prevented our hands from feeling much but it only made us clench each other harder, and concentrated all the raw desire in our mouths. A woman would have complained about the brutality of such a kiss. He welcomed it, and ravished my lips and breath, tongue and teeth with the same harsh urgency as I enslaved his. Neither of us won and neither of us lost in our battle. Our tongues twined, pushing for more and more pleasure. For a moment in my mouth, then in his. There and back, thrusting and fighting, taking and giving, in the glorious mating until our tastes mingled… bitter ale with sweet spiciness of hippocras. And I could not have enough. Laying a claim on all that he was, I drank more and more of the intoxicating essence from his mouth until our very cores merged.

A kiss. Who gave it its powers? I had never thought that it would echo under my knees with sweet pain. I had never thought that it would set my loins aflame. Nay, I had never thought that its taste would replace all other pleasures I had ever known. That it would have me famished for more. It did it all. The strange starvation tore moans and growls out of my center and let them fuse with howls of wind engulfing us, our horses, and the plain.

Then a bolt of lightning ripped the sky open above us, a thunder followed fast and its deafening sound damned me into nothingness.

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Some people might argue that neither Vlad nor Henry held romantic feelings for men, so how could my novels be true to them? Doing research for my books, I have come to believe that both of them might have been bi-sexual in fact. Especially in Henry’s case, there is a lot of clues sprinkled in the records about him. When it comes to Vlad, the hints are of a subtle, indirect nature, but they are there as long as you are willing to read between the lines and explore motivations behind bare facts.

You would be mistaken though to expect my novels to be cast in the mold of a romance. Yes, there is love in them, and the romantic feelings are fierce and true, but the tales are of the nature of the sagas of old, chronicling the lives of my heroes in all their splendor (and misery). The wars are brutal, the intrigues insidious, the magic strong, the pursuits of the heart passionate. The heroes are the tale. They shape it, and it includes all which makes them the men they are. After all, Henry and Vlad were true renaissance princes – learned, complicated, driven by passion, ambition, and duty in equal measure. To focus solely on their amorous pursuits would do them – and their partners – great injustice.

Some other readers might frown on the supernatural elements in my novels. But, why should they not be there? A renaissance man believed that they were things between heaven and earth – their existence was a given in his eyes. I happen to believe the same, and it shows in my writing.

You see, when I was told, “You understand renaissance men better than you do those of nowadays,” I only asked, “Is that a flaw?”

I think of the said understanding as of a gift which I have earned. And I keep making it stronger by spending my time mostly in bygone centuries. I have soaked in their very essence. So expect my tales to be rich and deep and long. They are like an opulent feast – to be savored, not rushed. As I write for my royal patrons, I learn more not only about them, but also about myself. About all of humanity. In their company, I get to explore mysteries of love and life and death. With bated breath and open heart, I partake in journeys of self-discovery, love and forgiveness, death and rebirth, guilt and redemption. Yes, it takes time. And the rewards are great.

Would you like to walk our paths with us? Do so, and my heroes will break your heart. Then they will mend it. I promise.

Since you’ve stayed with me until now, I’ll wager that I’ve spoken to something within you. Most likely, you loved the excerpt too. Would you like to read more of my writing? You can buy my books in the Amazon store. Here are the links for your convenience:

Dragon’s Bounty: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Q53G7XK

We, King Henry VIII, Part 1: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YKVV31A

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I’ve saved a duckling today

cute-duckling

cute-ducklingIt all started innocently enough. I’ve been feeling out of synchrony with life for quite a while and I’ve found out that long walks in nature help me get in a better mood. So, like other days, around noon I set out for my regular route that winds along ponds and between fields of ripe, golden corn.
Right after I had left the village behind, I saw two little ducklings. And I thought, Cute.
But the little guys seemed distressed. They were running along a railing in the outlet of a pond, and I noticed that the railing separated them from their mother and siblings who stayed nearby but couldn’t reach them either. I have absolutely no idea how the two got where they were, but they looked unable to squeeze themselves through the gaps in the railing and reunite with their family. They needed help.
The walls of the outlet are made of concrete blocks. Some of them are crumbling. The whole thing doesn’t exactly invite anyone to explore it more closely by their hands and feet. Still, I’m sure that to climb down wouldn’t be a problem for a fit person. For me – that’s a different story.
I write for kings and princes but am nowhere close to their physical prowess. But when I see little ducklings in distress, I do find bravery in my heart. Through a large patch of nettles I went and somehow climbed down into the outlet trough. On the way down I told myself that to get back up couldn’t be more difficult than to hoist myself into the saddle of a horse (I of course forgot that the last time when I rode a horse was ten years ago at least).
By the time I reached the poor little prisoners, one of the ducklings was so afraid that he managed to squeeze himself through the railing and get on the pond. Not so the other. After a while, I managed to catch the little guy. He was so small and his heart was beating madly as I held him in my hands. I leaned over the railing to get him in the water, he squirmed, and in the water he went. Well, better said, he went under the water. I froze. In that moment I thought that all my bravery actually led only to him getting drowned. Half a heartbeat later, it struck me that ducks dive. They are meant to dive. But he wasn’t coming up. I was about to tumble over the railing to grope for him under the water when I saw him a few meters away, quacking loud for his mama and paddling toward her with his tiny feet with all his strength. It felt so good to watch him.
But it was time to get the savior saved too. After a couple of attempts to get out of the trough, it dawned on me that it would actually be more difficult than to hoist myself in the saddle. So, I contemplated my options. I could shout for help. That was not a particularly appealing choice though. I may lack the physical prowess of Vlad III or Henry VIII, but I don’t lack a certain amount of pride. My other option was to wade through another dirty pond on the other side of the outlet trough and then somehow, somewhere find a slope which I could climb up. That wasn’t a good option either, but in the absence of a ladder, it seemed to be a reasonable way how to get out of the trap. I reflected that soon enough I was going to feel just as wet and humiliated as Henry VIII when a pole broke under his weight and he fell into a muddy ditch. I resigned myself to sharing the experience with His Majesty, only I resolved not to get my head under the water, since I didn’t have a trusted retinue with me. In other words, nobody who would pull me out.
As I stood there in drying mud, a large frog peeked out of a gap between two stones. It said, “Quack.” I stared at it, it stared right back. Then it repeated more urgently, “Quack.”
I thought, Thank you very much for a helpful suggestion. As I was lost in that moment of sarcasm, it struck me that if I found a rock large enough to use as a stepping stone, I might have just the thing needed to help me out of the trough. I found myself one by the other pond, carried it over to the lowest block of concrete onto which I needed to climb, and soon enough I was out of the trough and in the nettles.
I got stung pretty badly in the course of the unexpected rescue mission, but I was a miracle in someone’s life today. And I realized that when you think you need a ladder and your life sends you a frog instead, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Thank you, Life, for a gentle lesson/ reminder.

PS: the photo is the courtesy of Karen Arnold. I’ve found it on PublicDomainPictures.net. My little guy from today looked just like this one.

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Posted in Written by Life

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