Monday Book Talk

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Last year, I discovered fanfiction. It’s a little funny that I didn’t even know it was a thing until last year, considering so many of the authors in the M/M romance genre started out writing fanfiction, but I was oblivious. I’ve thought a lot about why; why didn’t I know of the phenomenon?

After some consideration, I thought it was because I’ve never really shipped characters, I didn’t even know what shipping was until recently. At first I thought that might be a Swede thing, that Swedish people don’t do shipping, but after a conversation with my daughter, I realized that was not it. She knew what it was, so I just wrote it off as an age thing and didn’t think about it again.

Until I remembered. There ARE two characters I ship. Two characters all of Sweden (more or less) ship. Wilfred of Ivanhoe and Rebecca of York.

You see, every year on New Year’s Day, Swedish television airs Ivanhoe, a British TV-movie from 1982 (based on the novel from 1819 by Sir Walter Scott), starring Anthony Andrews as Ivanhoe and Olivia Hussey as Rebecca. It’s tradition; it’s been going on for as long as I can remember, and a lot of people in Sweden re-watch that movie every year. The tradition is so widely known that Sam Neill, who plays the evil character Brian Guilbert, tweets about it every year (which is hilarious if you ask me!):

ivanhoe

If you’re not familiar with the story of Ivanhoe, here’s a summary:

Ivanhoe, the son of a Saxon nobleman, returns to England from the Crusades. Prince John is Regent in the absence of his brother, King Richard the Lionhearted who is imprisoned in Austria. Saxons have not accepted their Norman conquerors and there is much animosity between them. Ivanhoe arrives at court just as a jousting tournament begins and bests the three Norman noblemen who have agreed to take on all comers. Ivanhoe is seriously injured however and is cared for by Isaac of York and his beautiful daughter Rebecca. They are taken prisoner however, along with Ivanhoe’s father Cedric and his ward Rowena, by the three knights Ivanhoe bested in the tournament. With the assistance of Robin Hood, the mysterious Black Knight attacks the castle of Front-de-Boeuf where the captives are being held. It’s left to Ivanhoe to rescue to rescue Rebecca however when she is accused of being a witch.

That was the background, now to the point: Ivanhoe is Christian and Rebecca is Jewish. The story is set in the 12th century, when a Christian man and a Jewish woman weren’t allowed to marry. But as Rebecca cares for the injured Ivanhoe, they fall in love, and everyone in Sweden roots for Rebecca.

But, alas, their relationship can not be, and instead Ivanhoe ends up with the very beautiful, very blonde, and very Christian Lady Rowena. And every year, I’m equally disappointed. Why does he choose that boring woman instead of the lovely and intelligent Rebecca? Whyyyyyy??

So I thought, now that I’d discovered fanfiction, I would finally be able to read their happy ending. I opened AO3, searched for Ivanhoe, and found…

fanfic ivanhoe

one story about Ivanhoe and Rebecca. One measly story in a fanfiction archive that, as I write this, has almost 4,8 million stories.

To say I’m disappointed is an understatement. I was counting on you, AO3! What do I have to do, write their happy ending myself?? 😁

Bah!

I guess I’ll just have to stick to Harry Potter fanfiction then 😁

Tell me: what characters – if any – do you ship? Which characters’ happy ending would you like to read?

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His Steady Heart: one week until release and more pre-order links

HSH blurb releaseday

Ashley Buchanan—Buck—moved back home to take care of his sick mother when he was 22. That was the first time he met Pippin, the neglected 6-year-old boy next door. Fifteen years later, Buck—a caretaker by nature—offers up his couch for Pippin, who needs a break from his mom and a quiet place to sleep.

Pippin Olander is a ray of sunshine despite his emotionally lacking upbringing and works hard to make a better life for himself. Even though he’s fiercely self-sufficient, he learns to accept help from Buck, his rock and only steady presence in his life.

Their friendship deepens and grows into something more as they spend more time together. But when other people try to throw a wrench in the works, when Pippin’s independence is triggered, can Buck and Pippin trust in the love they’ve found?

25605 words / M/M contemporary / May/December

RELEASE DATE: MAY 25, 2019

Pre-order now:

JMS Books (20% off until May 31) | Amazon | Amazon UK  | Kobo  | iTunes  | B&N  | Google Play

Nell’s Top Five

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Nell’s Top Five

…Things I Don’t Understand

Here are five things I don’t really understand. They are not things I hate or detest…I just don’t get it.

Tell me about something that you don’t understand in the comments! 🙂

  1. Calendars starting with Sunday. Monday is the first day of the week, not Sunday. Why would you want your calendar to start with Sunday? That’s weird!
  2. Why do people go to the movies when they’re on a date? I understand doing it once you’re already in a relationship and know each other. But before you’re a couple? That’s just weird. The purpose of a date is getting to know each other better, and you can hardly do that the 2-3 hours you spend in a movie theater, since you’re not supposed to talk.
  3. Raisins. Or dried fruit in general, to be honest. I realize that back in the olden days when we couldn’t import/export fresh fruit, we had to preserve fruits to even get any vitamins in winter. But they’ve outlived their usefulness and they’re just weird. And not tasty.
  4. People live-tweeting to TV shows. If your followers don’t watch the show/movie along with you, reading it after is just plain weird. And even if I watch the same show, I watch it. Not scroll through my twitter feed. I don’t get it.
  5. Gossip. Don’t get me wrong, I read gossip too, and after I feel a little dirty. But why are we (humans) so obsessed with gossip? Why do we feel the need to know intimate details of our friends, neighbors, or celebrities we really have no business knowing?

 

Writing therapy

Two weeks ago today, Thursday May 2nd, I did a thing. Something personal weighed heavy on me, worried me and the night between Wednesday and Thursday, I couldn’t sleep. I always have trouble sleeping when I’ve got a lot on my mind. My brain worked through what I was worrying about and when I woke up on Thursday, I knew a way to tackle my fears: write.

So I sat down at my desk…and wrote an entire story from beginning to end. Granted, it’s short, around 5400 words, but it has a beginning, a middle, and an end, and two characters I care deeply about.

The next day I edited it and talked to my betas. And since the story is short – and my betas are fast – I got it back within a day. I wrote a blurb (even that flowed out of me, no public moaning from me about how much I hate blurb writing), filled out all the necessary forms, and submitted it to my publisher.

So a week later – last week – I signed a contract. That’s gotta be some kind of record.

But what’s more important is that it was a great way of working through my worry, of focusing on something else for a few hours. I write because I love it. Because I have to. But also because it helps me.

Sometime in August, you’ll be able to read my little story that was born out of fear and worry. I hope you all will like it, because it’s very important to me.

Blurb is below.


Team Luker

What if this is the last time we lie like this?

Uncertainty is keeping Ellery Luker awake at night and robbing him of his appetite. It’s been five days since the love of his life and partner of twenty-five years, Jools, went to the doctor. Five days since the biopsy. Five days of going crazy with worry and what ifs?

What if Jools suffer from the same disease that stole Ellery’s mother when he was just eleven?

What if all Ellery’s worst fears come true?

What if…?

WIP teaser

I told you in my last writing update that I’m currently working on a story for the JMS Books’ Autumn Love submission call. When I write this, the story is still unnamed, but the main characters are Oren and Pete, two lovely men in their late forties.

This is the opening to the story, and it’s unedited. I hope you’ll like it. Have a great week! 🙂

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“Peter Higgins?” I raise my voice to make myself heard over the rock’n’roll music booming in the garage, but the man crouched by the motorcycle resembling something you’d buy at Ikea before it’s assembled, hears me and snaps his head up.

He shadows his eyes against the bright light with his hand, and then he holds up his index finger in the universal sign for “hang on a minute.” He jumps to his feet and jogs to the bench in the back of the garage, where I’m assuming the stereo is located considering Robert Plant gets cut off in the middle of a magnificent moan.

As the man approaches me, his long legs quickly eating up the distance, I take in his appearance. Dark, tousled hair as though he just ran his fingers through it when he stepped out of the shower this morning. A full beard with strands of silver, albeit still more pepper than salt. Laugh lines brackets his mouth and sprawl out in the corners of his friendly hazel eyes. He’s fit; his thigh muscles play under the faded denim and an oil-stained T-shirt clings to defined abs.

My mouth waters and I have to fight to keep my face neutral. I don’t want to get caught ogling the man before I’ve had the opportunity to thank him.

“I’m Pete Higgins,” he says. “Can I help you?” His tone is as friendly as his face; he shows no sign of irritation over being interrupted in the middle of assembling—or disassembling—the five-thousand piece bike puzzle.

“I’m Oren Walker.” I smile and extend my hand. “Daphne Walker’s son.”

“Oh! Mrs. Walker! How is she?” He moves to take my hand but stops himself with a grimace. “Sorry,” he says and hold out his oil-stained palms for me to see. “I’d better not shake your hand. I don’t want to get your suit all dirty.”

I chuckle and lower my hand, ignoring the pang of disappointment in my stomach that I won’t be allowed to touch him and see for myself if has palms are as callused as I hope they are. “Yeah sorry, I came right from work.” I finger my blue-striped tie and feel out of place in my two-thousand-dollar suit in his garage.

“I figured. The day is too hot for a suit.” He flashes me a smile. “Let’s go inside. I have aircon.” He waggles his eyebrows. “I’m thirsty, and you can tell me all about your mom.”

“All right.” I follow him into the garage, through a utility room, and into a big, cozy kitchen, with pale green cabinets, gleaming appliances, and a round kitchen table standing in a bright bay window.

He nods at the fridge. “Help yourself to whatever’s in there. Grab a longneck for me, will ya? I’ll wash my hands and be right back.” He disappears out into the hallway before I have time to answer.

Feeling rude and nosy for opening a stranger’s fridge, I do my best not to look and take out the first two bottles of beer I find. There’s a bottle opener magnet on the fridge door, and I pop off the caps and return it to where I found it.

The only other thing on the fridge is a photo that must be a family picture: Peter Higgins with his arm around a dark-haired teenaged girl who’s the spitting image of him, minus the beard and the crow’s feet. Next to the girl stands a tall, blond boy, probably a little older than his sister, and last but not least, a beautiful blonde woman, wearing a wide smile and a smart business suit, screaming power-woman.

Mr. Higgins strolls back into the kitchen wearing a fresh shirt. I glance at his hands, now looking reasonably clean. “Great, you found the beer!”

I nod and hand him one. “You have a beautiful family.” I tilt my head to the photo.

He looks at it with a fond smile. “Yeah, they’re a great bunch. It’s a few years old now, though. Both rascals are in college, can you believe it?”

“I don’t have kids, but I can imagine it must be…tough?”

He chuckles and plops down on ta chair around the kitchen table. “Someone should have told me that men suffer from empty-nest syndrome, too. Please sit.”


And if you’re wondering what Robert Plant is moaning in the beginning of the teaser, it’s this song, of course, around 2:10 into the song 🙂

Friday review

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40946883Some nights, American secret agent Ben Smith just wants to come home to his husband. He misses that English accent and smile and, of course, Simon on his knees. He wants his perfect submissive at his feet, so the world and his mission can fall away.

Some nights, romance writer Simon Ashley misses his dashing American other half. Tea is nice, but it can’t pin him down in bed and make him beg, reminding him he’s loved and belongs to someone. He wants to forget everything and everyone he’s left behind, and just belong to Ben.

Tonight they both get what they want when Ben comes home early. tea is very nice … but so is leather.


After reading this book, I was left with one very important question: why on earth isn’t everybody reading K.L. Noone??

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile (at least since the advent calendar last December) you know I loved K.L. Noone’s holiday story Revelry. I’ve been meaning to read Leather and Tea for awhile, since the release of the 2018 Top Ten Gay Romance anthology where it’s is featured. But somehow it slipped my mind, until I read this fabulous review of the anthology by Becca over at Love Bytes. The first few sentences of her review (“Damn this story was amazing! It was almost like reading a love letter. It was so poignant and beautiful.”) reminded me of this book’s existence, and I decided to read it at once.

And wow, Becca is right; it’s a 7779 word long love letter. It’s 7779 words of pure perfection, of a love so bright and beautiful between Ben and Simon, and I simply adored it.

This story is everything I love about short stories. It’s a slice of life in the main characters’ lives with enough back story to make me care for them deeply. Combined with K.L. Noone’s mastery of the English language, I’m a goner.

Summer-morning eyes found his gaze with excitement, disbelief, hope like emerging sunrise.

This book is a BDSM erotica. I’m ambivalent when it comes to BDSM; I’m not a fan of the St. Andrew’s Cross-filled dungeon, or the kink club BDSM. What I like is the power dynamics, the BDSM not overpowered by props, the BDSM where the emotions are in focus, where the need to give up control is respected and handled with care. What I like, is the BDSM described in this book.

I love you, you give me everything, you trust me with all of you and I want to deserve that, to deserve you. Those eyes and that smile and the way you looked up with that little gasp the first time I spanked you, only teasing, in bed. The way you offer me all those pieces of you to hold secure and sacred and I will, I will, forever. 

Ben and Simon are two fantastic characters, and I loved them both, but maybe I loved the sassy, British Simon just a tad more, with his gilded locks, his clumsiness, and his complete trust in Ben. And who wouldn’t want to come home…

To crossword puzzles in bed and a trail of books like breadcrumbs from room to room and trusting fearlessness.

And then there’s the language.

Simon turned his head, studied their hands anew: Ben’s fingers tanned and powerful over that slender wrist, a study in light and contrast painted with the light from the bedside lamp. 

Like I said; I read this book in the 2018 Top Ten Gay Romance anthology, but when I finished it, I marched (I marched virtually, okay?) to JMS Books and bought it separately, too. And I bought three other books by K.L. Noone too, because everything I’ve read from her so far have been bloody fantastic, and I need to support writing like this.

Thank you Becca at Love Bytes for reminding me to read this book, and thank you to K.L. Noone for writing it.

Leather and Tea gets my warmest recommendations and I added it to my re-read feelgood shelf at Goodreads. *Happy sigh and heart eyes*

JMS Books | Amazon

Aaaaand I’m looking forward to the sequel that will be released tomorrow: A Leather and Tea Morning. I pre-ordered it weeks ago and I can’t wait to read it. I mean, this line from the excerpt made me one-click faster than you can say tea 🙂

Simon asleep looked like dawn, he decided: pale sunshine curls and fair skin and careless contentment, a miniature masterpiece painted in gold that’d collided with a pillow and learned how to very quietly snore.

3 pictures from April

If you don’t follow me on Instagram (why don’t you? 🙂 ) here are three pictures from what I did last month.

skriva

Most of April was spent writing, writing and writing. I participated – and won! – in Camp NaNoWriMo, so my butt was planted in my chair for a big chunk of the month.

pizza

I ate a slice of pizza for the first time in a year. I’m not supposed to eat dairy, but my husband ordered a lovely pizza with mozzarella and parma ham and I’d been craving pizza (CHEESE!!) for weeks and weeks, so I ate one slice and it was SO GOOD!! And my skin is still healthy, so it wasn’t a bad slip-up. I won’t do it again though!

påsk

My husband and I had a couple friends over on Easter Saturday for a little party. We had cold cuts, threw hot dogs on the barbecue, and drank too much champagne. We had so much fun, but I wasn’t as happy the next day. But you only live once, right?

And here’s the link to my Instagram so you can follow me. Have a great week! 🙂