Love. It's all we need, isn't it? And books, obviously. Books that celebrate all kinds of love and help us through heartache. Books that bring us together and tell us we're not alone. We have plenty of those to share with you here in Heart Notes, the latest issue from BooksfromScotland. Whether you're in the mood for romance, family, community, and all those things that make our heart beat a little faster, I hope you find something here to enjoy.

We Were Always Here is a brilliant, vital anthology, championing writing from the LGBTI+ community. The stories and poems gathered in the collection look at living and loving in the 21st century, and as author Garry Mac instructs us in the Foreword: ‘Read it and recognise that we were always here, and you are here, now, and so are they, and we are all in this, here, together.’ It’s good advice. Here we share Christina Neuwirth’s story, ‘Sequins’.


‘Sequins’, by Christina Neuwirth is taken from We Were Always Here Edited by Ryan Vance & Michael Lee Richardson Published by 404 Ink


The first time Robyn invited me round I must have been about twelve or thirteen. I distinctly remember it because she normally asked a group of us to come over, but this particular time she only asked me. She said, ‘What are you doing after swimming on Thursday?’

‘My Mum is picking me up.’

‘You could come home with me and we could pick out summer camps in the brochure my dad got.’

‘Okay,’ I said. I didn’t want to ask further questions because I was worried it might scare Robyn off.

That night it was hard to get to sleep after dinner. I couldn’t stop thinking about the next day.

After school, Robyn and I walked to swimming together. Heather was there too, and Robyn was talking to her. She hadn’t really looked at me all day, not since I’d told her that I was allowed to come over — she’d said ‘Fun!’ and then proceeded to ignore me. I was used to it, but it still tied my stomach into knots.

Heather and Robyn giggled and splashed around the shallow end of the pool while the rest of us did our warm-up laps. Miss Feever told them off, but then concentrated more on timing the rest of us on our butterfly laps.

Robyn didn’t even look at me.

I had br...


Married life is not always easy, especially when you’re navigating the necessary hum drums of mortgages, chores, parenting and work stresses. Luckily, Katharine Hill has written a guide to getting the best out of coupledom, and here is a little taster.


Extract taken from If You Forget Everything Else, Remember This: Tips and Reminders for a Happy Marriage By Katharine Hill Published by Muddy Pearl


Five Ways to Say, ‘I Love You’

In his book The 5 Love Languages, psychologist Gary Chapman writes about his theory that just as we have a native or first language, we also have a primary ‘love’ language – the way we most naturally communicate and understand love. When we learnt about this, my husband Richard and I discovered that, like many couples, our love lang...



Stroke click


‘If a man is the collection of his memories, I had been erased.’


David Robinson Reviews: Threads of Life by Clare Hunter click

David Robinson Reviews: Threads of Life by Clare Hunter

‘One of the most potent forms of Renaissance communication, when it was valued as a transmitter of intellect and emotion, when it was a conversation between people and they God. Back then, sewing matt …


Painted Ladies: Bonnard and his Mistresses click

Painted Ladies: Bonnard and his Mistresses

‘He’s watching from the pavement opposite as if all this is a performance that I’m putting on to liven up the morning.’


Outcasts click


‘I want you to know that I still see you. This life, this world, it’s amazing, but only because I’m living it with you.’


When I Had a Little Sister: The Story of a Farming Family That Never Spoke click

When I Had a Little Sister: The Story of a Farming Family That Never Spoke

‘We have been living on a knife-edge for so long I know this is something big.’


I Could Feel Vulnerable in Love: A Human Love Story click

I Could Feel Vulnerable in Love: A Human Love Story

‘You both share as one corded together through the pain of experience.’


Salt on Your Tongue: Women and the Sea click

Salt on Your Tongue: Women and the Sea

‘My lungs love the sensation of Edinburgh’s atmosphere, the biting freshness of it, never still but always thrilled with a shock of salted air, and sometimes the yeasty smell from the brewery on thick …


Flight from the Croft click

Flight from the Croft

‘The sight of a Spitfire flying low through Glencoe at the time of the Battle of Britain captured my imagination and fired an unlikely ambition.’


Down to the Sea click

Down to the Sea

‘All ten of the men and boys who’d gone to sea that day were dead, drowned. The fishwives said it was all the girl’s fault. That she was cursed. The girl was devastated when even her own mother, in he …


Muscle click


‘She said the longer she thought about it the more she realised she knew some kind, decent people, and she should be grateful for that.’


Shadowscent: The Darkest Bloom click

Shadowscent: The Darkest Bloom

‘Home has always smelled of cooking fires and desert roses that only release their perfume after sunset.’


The Accidental Novelist: The Bookshop by the Sea series click

The Accidental Novelist: The Bookshop by the Sea series

‘Eleanor stood at the cash desk and looked around her empire. The bookshop was empty apart from a Belgian couple in matching beige anoraks examining the postcard rack and an older gent looking at hist …


‘A Divorcee’s Guide to the Apocalypse’ A story taken from Split click

‘A Divorcee’s Guide to the Apocalypse’ A story taken from Split

‘People think this is weird, if I still love my husband, why did we get divorced? Because survival is insufficient. Even during the apocalypse, you eventually have to leave the shelter and start to li …