Read Around the Rainbow Web Ring

Read Around the Rainbow: AI vs Me

Read Around the Rainbow is a blogging project featuring yours truly, A.L. Lester, Ofelia Gränd, Holly Day, K.L. Noone, Amy Spector, Addison Albright, Fiona Glass, Lilian Francis, and Ellie Thomas. Every month, we pick a topic and then we blog about it. Check the other blog posts by clicking the RAtR widget in the sidebar, or the links at the bottom of this post.

The May RAtR topic is A.I. vs Me.

Yup. This month we’re talking about artificial intelligence, a hot and very controversial topic. Let me start by making my opinions clear: while I’m sure there are many areas where AI can be useful, I’m not a fan. And not only because I’ve watched Terminator many, many times, but as a writer, it upsets me when someone feeds a prompt into AI and then claims to have written a book. I could come up with more examples, but I’ve decided against ranting, and instead focusing on the writing experiment part designed to compare a short story written by a human being vs written by AI, where both use the same prompt for the story.

The idea for this came when one of the RatR authors suggested AI as this month’s topic, and then A.L. Lester told us her husband, sci-fi writer Paul L. Arvidson, had “asked Chat GPT to write an 150 word story, entitled ‘The Rise of the Robots’,” then written a story for the same prompt and asked his readers to guess who wrote which piece. You can read it here, and even though I haven’t read anything by Paul L. Arvidson before, it’s easy to figure out which story is written by a human being and which wasn’t.

So our challenge was: write a 300-word romance story (or reuse an old 300-word story you’d already written), feed the parameters to the AI, and see if it can write romance better than it can write sci-fi (and better than us). I decided to play with my current WIP, a yet unnamed story I’m writing for a project with the old Naked Gardening gang, but for World Letter Writing Day on September 1. I took the important parts from that story (second chances, reunion, character names), added information about my writing style, and wrote a reunion scene only for this blog post that won’t be included in the final story, but because I thought the second chance trope would be good for a super short story. Then I proceeded to break the rules, because I always do, and because 300 words weren’t enough for my story. But I gave the AI the same word count, so I figure that’s fair 😁

This is the prompt I came up with:

Write a 400-word gay romance story in present tense, first person point-of-view, about second chances where two men meet again at a train station, after not seeing each other for ten years. They share a kiss. Narrator’s name is Henri, other main character is Isidor.

Then the kind and generous Addison Albright helped me feed that into the AI (because I didn’t feel like signing up for something I’m never going to use again).

And now it’s time to stop rambling and get to the point. But before we do, I just want to inform you that the AI cheats worse than I do, because it produced 457 words when my prompt clearly stated 400. And mine is 400 words exactly, so I win! 😁

AI story: Rekindled Love

As I stand on the bustling platform of the train station, my heart pounds with anticipation. It has been ten long years since I last saw Isidor, the man who once held my heart in his hands. The memories of our past relationship flood my mind, and I wonder if fate has finally granted us a second chance.

As the train doors slide open, a rush of passengers pours out onto the platform. I scan the crowd, searching for a familiar face amidst the chaos. And then, I see him. Isidor, standing there with the same mischievous smile that used to make my heart skip a beat.

Our eyes meet, and time seems to stand still. I can see the surprise and recognition in his eyes, mirroring my own emotions. Without thinking, I step forward, closing the distance between us. The cacophony of the train station fades away as we stand there, facing each other after a decade of separation.

Words fail us in this moment, but our bodies speak a language all their own. With trembling hands, I reach out and touch Isidor’s cheek, feeling the warmth of his skin beneath my fingertips. The electricity between us is palpable, and I can sense that he feels it too.

In a bold move, Isidor leans in, and our lips meet in a tender, desperate kiss. It feels like coming home, like the missing piece of my heart has finally been found. The years apart vanish as our souls reconnect in this stolen moment of passion.

Breaking the kiss, we both gasp for air, our eyes locked in a mixture of longing and disbelief. A thousand unspoken words hang in the air between us, the weight of our shared history and unresolved feelings.

“I never stopped loving you,” I finally manage to whisper, my voice filled with vulnerability.

Isidor smiles, his eyes glistening with tears. “Me neither, Henri. Life took us on separate paths, but my heart has always belonged to you.”

Embracing each other tightly, we stand there, oblivious to the world around us. In this embrace, we find solace and hope for a future filled with love and forgiveness. The train’s departure announcement echoes in the distance, but we pay it no heed. Our second chance has arrived, and we are determined to seize it with both hands.

Hand in hand, we walk away from the train station, ready to embark on a new chapter in our lives. Together, we will navigate the challenges that lie ahead, knowing that love has brought us back together against all odds. And as we step into the unknown, I can’t help but feel grateful for this serendipitous reunion and the promise of a love that is meant to last.

My story: /Unnamed/

The train station is almost empty when I arrive. The chill nips at my cheeks but doesn’t cool the fire that drives me. Nothing could, short of him not alighting the train in four minutes as scheduled. According to the board, the train is on time, but I wake up my phone for the hundredth time this morning to check our message thread for updates. Nothing new since he wrote right after he boarded.

I’ll try to sleep. See you soon.

I bounce on the balls of my feet like a five-year-old the day before Christmas, and lay my hand on my chest, trying to soothe my fluttering heart that forgot its rhythm ten days ago when I received his letter, the first I’d heard from him in ten years.

My darling Henri, he’d written, I still dream of you after all this time.

Ten years of no contact, ten years of never getting over him, of comparing every man to him and finding them lacking, of questioning the decisions we made, and wondering if we couldn’t have made it work somehow, is about to come to an end.

In a minute, I’ll know.

I forget to breathe when the train screeches to a halt. My heart thrashes in my chest when he finally stands before me, my knees can barely keep me upright.

“Isidor,” I whisper. When he meets my gaze, his eyes lack the glint of mischief I used to love. As though he, too, had suffered and regretted our choices.

“Henri.” His voice is thick, as though he’s about to cry. His bag drops to the ground with a thud, and he holds out his hand for me to take. I don’t hesitate, and when his warm palm finally is pressed to mine, I can breathe again.

He leans in and rests his forehead against mine. His hot breath caresses my cheek, chasing away the emptiness, giving me back my life. “I’m going to kiss you now,” he says, voice rumbling in his chest. “If you don’t want that, tell me now.”

I wrap my free hand around his neck, stand on my toes, and rub my cheek against his, hoping my coarse beard against his clean-shaven skin will have the same effect it used to. When it makes him shiver, I murmur, “I want to.”

His lips capture mine. All is right in the world again. 


I admit it wasn’t as awful as I expected. Someone has clearly fed the AI a steady diet of romance novels, because it contains all the elements we want and expect from our romance stories: hearts skipping a beat, eyes meeting, gasping for air after a kiss, walking off hand-in-hand into the sunset. The AI also gave its story a title, which I didn’t because I always do that at the last possible minute, but if I had named it, it wouldn’t have been Rekindled Love.

The AI story doesn’t tell us the reason why the MCs meet again after ten years, but I admit that’s my fault. I forgot to tell the AI that Isidor contacts Henri by writing a letter, and that’s why Henri’s now waiting for him at the train station.

But. If I read a whole book written like that, I would get bored easily and DNF it after a few pages. It’s flat, unimaginative, can clichéd. It tells rather than shows (A thousand unspoken words hang in the air between us, the weight of our shared history and unresolved feelings”), and the dialogue is cheesy (“Life took us on separate paths, but my heart has always belonged to you.”)

But its biggest crime is that it doesn’t make me feel anything. I’m easily moved, I tear up at gifs of lonely Pluto, so as you can imagine, it’s not that hard to evoke feelings in me. I’m a huge fan of short stories (you know this about me by now), and I’ve read many short fanfics that have made me feel ALL THE FEELINGS! in under 500 words, so that’s not the problem either.

The problem is that it lacks soul. Rekindled Love has a beginning, a middle, and an end, it has enough components to make it recognizable as a romance story, but there’s no personality, no originality, no soul. But that’s not surprising, because how would anything that lacks a soul, be able to infuse it in its stories?


This has been a very interesting writing experiment, and we had many fascinating conversations as we fed our prompts into different AI bots. And we were very upset when the one Ellie used refused to write a gay romance and changed one of the MCs from Luc to Lady Lucinda, while the one used for my story clearly had no such objections.

I also can’t help but wonder what the AI would’ve produced if I’d been even more specific when I wrote my prompt. What would have happened if I’d told it to write a 400-word gay romance story in the style of Nell Iris? Would I discover that someone had bothered to steal my work and feed it to the AI to learn it how to write, as has happened with so many other people’s art? Would the AI be able to mimic my writing so closely that you would read it and think, Yeah, Nell could’ve written that?

It’s a frightening thought.

Luckily, I didn’t sign up for the service so I can’t rewrite my prompt and check, and I don’t plan on asking Addison to run another prompt for me. Because even though I’m usually a person who detests unanswered questions, I can live without the answer to this particular question. Some things are better left in the dark.

I’ve said many times that there should be a program where I could input my entire manuscript and press a button that says “write blurb” and said program would spit out the perfect blurb. Maybe AI is my punishment for those thoughts?

You really don’t want to miss out on the other posts on the topic. It’s always interesting to read different takes on the same subjects, but this time that’s doubly true. Personally, I can’t wait to see what my fellow RatR authors have come up with 🙂

Addison Albright :: A.L. Lester :: Ofelia Gränd :: Holly Day :: Lillian Francis :: Fiona Glass :: Ellie Thomas


New Release Spotlight: May Wedding by Ellie Thomas

Thanks so much, Nell, for having me as your guest again! I’m Ellie and I write MM Historical Romance novellas. I’m popping in today to chat about my new story May Wedding, released on May 6th and currently in the 20% off new release sale at JMS Books until May 12th.

May Wedding is the sixth book in my Regency romp Twelve Letters series about a small group of men who have become established couples during the series. Book 5, The Misfit, was a spin-off introducing a new couple Luc and Harry. But in May Wedding, we’re back to the usual suspects of my ensemble cast of Jo Everett, Daniel Walters, Ben Harding, Edward Stephens, Nathan Brooks and Percy Havilland.

The main points of view are from Jo Everett and everyone’s favourite Regency himbo, Percy Havilland. I have to say that I find these two such a joy to write about. Easy-going, sweet-natured Jo seems to live in my head and is one of those characters I know instinctively inside out. I can tell how he’ll react in almost any situation.

Percy, on the other hand, simply has to be the centre of attention, and he frequently barges into my mind to take centre stage. I’m at the point where I just roll my eyes and go with the flow, and wonder where Nathan gets his reserves of patience.

In this story, Percy is micro-managing the grand society wedding of his darling sister. Percy as Bridezilla was too tempting to resist. In Regency times, participants tended to wear their best clothes for weddings rather than a specific wedding dress or suit. But that’s not good enough for Percy. Naturally, he oversees his sister’s wedding gown and has a little something made up for himself by Daniel, the ensemble’s resident tailor.

While organising the wedding, Percy is at his most Percy-esque. Much of this frantic activity is to conceal his anxiety at losing one of his sisters from under his roof and protection. It’s poor Nathan, as usual, who gets the brunt of his nerves.

Percy is always such fun to contrast with Jo. In book 1 of the series Twelve Letters, these two were briefly an unlikely couple. Jo was infatuated with Percy’s blond beauty while Percy took outrageous advantage of Jo’s good nature. Three years later, they are settled with much more suitable partners and are solidly good friends, especially as Percy has gradually learned to appreciate other people.

As a wedding guest, Jo is wistful that he can’t enjoy a similar ceremony with his beloved. With Daniel’s input, they find a way. Naturally, with all that recent wedding planning under his belt, Percy is roped in to help.

Although willing to lend a hand, neither Percy nor his partner Nathan comprehends Jo and Daniel’s need to have their special celebration. After all, even now, not every couple chooses that option. So it was lovely to put those human nuances in my wedding story.


Some of the gentlemen who meet weekly for supper at The Golden Lion in London’s St. James’ are preoccupied with the prospect of matrimony.

The Honourable Percy Havilland is at full organisational pelt for his sister’s triumphant society marriage, ably backed by his friends. His frequent stress-induced outbursts are endured by his ever-patient lover, Nathan.

Percy has mixed feelings about the upcoming nuptials, the sorrow at losing one of his precious sisters balanced by the opportunity of exhibiting his exquisite good taste to make this the wedding of the Season.

His friend Jo Everett reacts differently to the wedding, desiring an equivalent opportunity to mark his enduring love for Daniel Walters.

Will Percy manage to survive the wedding without falling out irreparably with Nathan? And might Jo and Daniel discover they have the support of their close circle to celebrate their own special day?

Book links

JMS Books :: Amazon :: Books2Read :: Goodreads :: Bookbub


Nathan, more than anyone, comprehended how much Percy agonised over relinquishing his sister. Partly because Percy no longer practiced caution with Nathan where his feelings were concerned. But also because his lover bore the brunt of Percy’s feverish exertions for the wedding.

Percy recalled when they were in Nathan’s private sitting room in his great house off Leicester Square, during a rare hour together before Percy returned to Little Chelsea to accompany his sisters to an evening’s revels. Nathan sat in his favourite Chesterfield armchair while Percy paced before him in a manner that Nathan remarked reminded him of a caged tiger. 

When holding forth at great length on selecting the exact shade of soft pink for the bridesmaids’ dresses, Percy started to argue with Nathan, despite the gentleman’s indifference to whether the ladies should wear muslin or sackcloth.

Instead of justifiably losing his temper with Percy in this wildly unreasonable mood, Nathan said, “Come here,” and patted his thighs encouragingly. After a brief hesitation, while formulating a heated debate between the virtues of a bright peach hue or a subtle shade of apricot, Percy rather sulkily sat on Nathan’s lap, holding himself stiffly. 

“That’s better,” Nathan said, pulling him close. All Percy’s nervous tension started to dissolve as he breathed in Nathan’s familiar Bay Rum cologne, listened to the steady rhythm of his breath, and felt the warmth and strength of his body that Percy relied on and frequently enjoyed. 

“Whatever you choose,” Nathan opined, “will be perfect, not only in tribute to your excellent taste but because of your insurmountable care.”

At this disarming statement, rather than bristling, Percy found himself weeping copiously on Nathan’s broad shoulder while his paramour patiently stroked his back and kissed his neck between reassuring endearments.

Needless to say, that had not been the only circumstance when Percy had relieved his raw nerves on Nathan. The degree of toleration Nathan exhibited on account of Percy’s mental and emotional strain in the run-up to the wedding had resulted in far fewer spats than was their habit.

On the odd stolen night in Nathan’s bed during the Season, Percy lay wrapped in his strong arms, momentarily soothed and protected from all his fears, demands, and struggles. He didn’t know how he would have survived the headlong months of Araminta’s betrothal without Nathan’s support and even managed to admit that once or twice.

With a rush of affection and gratitude, Percy raised a grin and his glass in a private toast. Nathan’s frown disappeared, replaced by an answering smile as he emulated the gesture. Percy presumed that when the last slice of cake was consumed, and they all gathered on the front steps of the house to wave off the bride and bridegroom, he would feel a discreet touch on his shoulder, or a hand briefly grasping his waist, Nathan’s way of showing solidarity.  

Naturally, after the splendid formality of the Seymours’ hospitality, Percy’s wider family and even a few friends might convene at Little Chelsea for a dish of tea or something stronger to discuss the joyous event. But after Simeon and Cordelia departed to collect Harriet and bestow a similar rehash of events with a new audience in Emma, Percy idly wondered if he could excuse himself for the afternoon and decamp to Leicester Square.

He had caught that brief heated flash of interest when Nathan first laid eyes on Percy in church, delectable in tight-fitting dove grey. It seemed only fair to allow Nathan to appreciate Percy’s new clothing behind closed doors and slowly remove every layer. After being such a faithful knight during the wedding campaign, tolerating the worst of Percy’s barbs and inconsistencies, Nathan deserved a leisurely reward. 

Also, losing himself in the intense, deliberate, and mind-numbing loving that only Nathan could give, Percy could glory in the achievement of the nuptials without dwelling too much on the lack of Araminta at home. 

Anticipating such a sweet release, Percy put his glass on the table and ran an elegant middle finger around the rim before dipping it in the fizzing liquid. As he raised the digit to his lips, he looked directly at Nathan, allowing the promise of a flash of tongue as he delicately sucked on his fingertip. 

Nathan adroitly responded to a remark from his near neighbour, only a faint flush of colour on his cheekbones betraying his response to Percy’s teasing. I’ll pay for that later, Percy thought with a pleasurable squirm.


Ellie Thomas lives by the sea. She comes from a teaching background and goes for long seaside walks where she daydreams about history. She is a voracious reader especially about anything historical. She mainly writes historical gay romance.

Ellie also writes historical erotic romance as L. E. Thomas.

Facebook reader group:
Twitter: @e_thomas_author


New Release Spotlight: Mated to the Fire Dragon by Holly Day

The lovely Holly Day is back on the blog today. It’s always great to have her here, but I’m happy she keeps her dog out of my blog space. You’ll understand when you read her post. Welcome, Holly! 😘

Hello, everyone! Thank you, lovely Nell, for allowing me back on the blog 🥰

If you haven’t seen me around before, I’m Holly Day, and I write MM romance stories for all the special little days out there. You know, all those days you wonder why they exist. They’re around to tickle my muse, that’s why.

What’s your take on wet socks? Did I hear anyone in favour of them? Nah, didn’t think so. I have a hard time believing many like to walk around in wet socks.

I hate walking around in wet socks, and I’m assuming some of you seldom have to deal with it, but I live with a slobbery dog. He doesn’t drool, you never see any slime hanging out of the corner of his mouth. It’s not that kind of slobber. It’s that when he drinks, he doesn’t swallow the last mouthful, and he doesn’t close his mouth when he walks away from the water bowl.

My kitchen deserves one of those Caution! Slippery! signs with a sliding stick figure.

So I’m either wearing slippers or I’m barefoot. I can stand wet feet if I have to, but I refuse to rush into the kitchen to get something only to realise (too late, always too late!) that he’s been there slobbering again. That feeling of the sock fabric soaking up the cold liquid. Do you feel it? *shudder*

If you’ve read this far, I applaud you 😆 and you’re probably wondering why the heck I’m babbling about wet socks. Well, you see. I’ve written a story called Mated to the Fire Dragon, and I wrote it to celebrate No Socks Day – see the connection. Crazy days to tickle the muse, wet socks equals no socks, and the dragons are just for fun LOL

In Mated to the Fire Dragon, we have Albus, who is a dragon shifter and has a bit of a foot problem. Whenever he gets nervous or agitated or startled or whatever, his claws pop out. This makes wearing socks and shoes a problem.

While this bit is a bit comical, I don’t want you to go into this story thinking it’s gonna be a story that makes you laugh. It has a few moments that might leave you smiling, but it’s overall a pretty serious story (when we’re not dealing with socks, of course.)

Zale has come to Edge to die. He doesn’t have much time left but wanted to see where the human realm ends before he passes. Seeing a dragon is a bonus, being given a miracle is beyond anything he ever could hope for.

It deals with illness and grief, but no one dies. There is a happy ending and some fluffy moments.

Mated to the Fire Dragon

Zale wanted to see a dragon. He never expected a miracle.

Zale Hagan is dying. He doesn’t have many days left, but he wants to see a dragon before he leaves the world behind. As a fisherman, he’s seen where land ends many times, but he wants to visit the town where the human realm ends and the dragon realm begins.

Albus the Abomination is a blacksmith on Dragon Row. As a white dragon, he has no status and does his best to keep out of the way of the other dragons living there. But one day Zale steps into his smithy, and everything inside Albus catches fire.

Albus can tell Zale is very ill, but he can’t let him die. Dragon mates don’t get sick, and they live for a long time. Albus tries his best to get one of the other dragons to mate with Zale, but when no one wants to, Albus is at a loss. He could breathe fire into him, but then Zale would have to live his entire life with a white dragon, and no one wants that, do they?

NOTE: Mated to the Fire Dragon takes place on the same street as The Book Dragon’s Lair but can be read as a standalone story.

Paranormal Gay Romance: 38,392 words

Buy links

JMS Books :: Amazon ::


Albus watched Zale from the doorway. Claws grew on his feet, but he ignored them. There had been no more customers. It was how it usually was. Sometimes he closed the shop and went into the smithy instead. Standing around waiting for someone to buy his non-sparkly products was a waste of time, but he was reluctant to move away from where he could watch Zale.

The way his face twisted in his sleep had fear gripping Albus’ soul. He shouldn’t care about a human. They were everywhere, overflowing the earth, one less wouldn’t make a difference, but Zale… He’d talked to Albus, had walked into the smithy because he was curious about what he was doing. No one ever cared about what Albus was doing.

Beads of sweat were forming on Zale’s skin like tiny uncut diamonds. Not healthy. Albus gritted his teeth. Who knew about human medicine? He wouldn’t ask the reverend. They had healers on this side of the realm. He’d heard talk about them. He wasn’t sure if he trusted them, though.

He flicked his tongue and ran it along the roof of his mouth to scent Zale properly. He was dying. The stabbing pain in his chest was silly. He shouldn’t care about a random human, but Zale was full of life, and yet it was quickly slipping away.

With a sigh, he headed for the door. There were humans on Dragon Row. He never talked to them, and they never talked to him, but there were two working in The Book Dragon’s Lair, and they had a hatchling. He couldn’t go near Ryu the Ravenous. He might be scarred, but he was still a black dragon, and Albus was as far from a black dragon as you could come.

Nithe the Nefarious knew the humans. He could perhaps ask Nithe.

He went around to the back of the house and walked past the two houses between his and Nithe’s. No one walked back here. All the humans stuck to Dragon Row and didn’t venture outside the cobblestoned lane they deemed safe.

With a deep breath, he walked through the small gap between Nithe’s house and the one next to his—Saxon the Sinful’s. Looking around to make sure no one was watching him, he hurried up the steps and into the pawnshop.


The dim lighting had Albus blinking to give his vision a chance to adjust. Nithe watched him from behind the counter, his eyes blue until Albus took a step closer, then they shifted to the amethyst the humans found so alluring. Claws appeared on Albus’ feet right before his eyes changed and his teeth grew sharper. He didn’t want any conflict, but few could stand the ugliness of a white dragon. And by partly shifting, he’d shown his ruby eyes, allowing Nithe to see his irises didn’t have any pigment to speak of. Abomination.

Albus looked away and blinked again to force his eyes back into their human shape.


Albus’ head whipped around on its own accord and shock reverberated through him. Nithe had spoken his name? And shortened it to only the first.

“Nithe.” He bowed his head in respect which had Nithe snorting.

“What are you doing here?”

Albus slowly filled his lungs with incense-laced air. The scent reminded him of home, and he wondered if Nithe had brought it from the dragon realm. “You know humans.”

Nithe put the pen he’d been holding on the counter and studied him. “I know Egil, Liz, and Ruby the Rapturous.”

A dragon name on a human? “The hatchling?” He bit his tongue as he realized he’d spoken out loud.

Nithe’s face split into a grin. “Yes, our hatchling.”

Our? This time Albus’ lips trapped whatever stupid questions he wanted to ask.

“I have a human—”

“You mated?” Then Nithe narrowed his eyes. “You haven’t shared your flame.”

Albus winced. He might have dreamed about sharing his flame, but he wouldn’t subject Zale to that level of degradation.

“No. I have a human in my home who’s sick. When Ruby the Rapturous gets sick, who do you go to for help?”

Nithe stood unmoving for several moments. “She… eh… doesn’t get sick.”

Humans got sick all the time. They were frail beings. “She’s human.”

“Yes, but… If you want to make a human healthy, you should share your breath with them. And if you don’t want to share your breath, then I think there are herbs. Liz took some a few months ago when she had a fever, but it took forever before it helped.”

Albus didn’t think Zale could wait for long. “Do you know what kind of herbs and where I could get them?”

Nithe walked into the room behind the counter, and soon Albus heard him talk to someone. He waited, growing more and more uncomfortable with each second passing. He didn’t want to ask for help. He didn’t want them to know Zale was in his home.

Nithe stepped out into the shop again. “Liz will come to your place in a few minutes. She’ll bring what you need.” His eyes shifted amethyst and a forked tongue slid out between sharp teeth. “Pay her.”

Albus nodded.

“She refuses to let us pay for her things, but she’s doing you a favor, so you can pay her without her throwing a fit.”

Albus didn’t know what he was talking about, and he wouldn’t ask. It was too much like an argument between mates or at least family members for him to get involved in. Instead, he thanked Nithe and hurried out of the pawnshop.

Fear of finding the house empty had him hurrying down Dragon Row instead of walking around to the back. Would Zale have left?

About Holly Day

According to Holly Day, no day should go by uncelebrated and all of them deserve a story. If she’ll have the time to write them remains to be seen. She lives in rural Sweden with a husband, four children, more pets than most, and wouldn’t last a day without coffee.

Holly gets up at the crack of dawn most days of the week to write gay romance stories. She believes in equality in fiction and in real life. Diversity matters. Representation matters. Visibility matters. We can change the world one story at the time.

Connect with Holly on social media:

Website :: Facebook :: Twitter :: Pinterest :: BookBub :: Goodreads :: Newsletter :: TikTok

Strike a Pose

Don’t Forget About Naked Gardening Day 🍆🌱

The first Saturday of May is of course Naked Gardening Day and I hope you haven’t forgotten this super important holiday? As I schedule this blog post (Thursday), the weather forecast says 11°C (52°F for you who don’t understand Celsius) and since that’s waaaaay too cold for naked gardening shenanigans, I won’t be undressing and planting herbs and flowers or pruning rose bushes. If you’d planned on swinging by and watching me, I mean 😂

And honestly, I’m not inclined to be naked in the garden regardless of temperature. I much prefer reading about other people being naked in gardens, and luckily there’s a bunch of stories on this exact topic. Because you haven’t forgotten about the naked gardening stories from last year, written by yours truly, K.L. Noone, Holly Day, A.L. Lester, and Amy Spector, I hope?

It was such a fun project to write; my author colleagues and friends are awesome people and the topic was great. And it was so interesting to read all their stories when they were finished, to see what five creative people could do with the same prompt.

It was actually so much fun that we plan on repeating it: we’re working on another joint project, but this time it’s about letter-writing and not naked gardening. It will be released in early September, so stay tuned. But back to unclothed horticultural (to borrow A.L. Lester’s expression) shenanigans!

Perfect Rows by Holly Day is a story about enemy neighbors-to-lovers who are warring over their shared garden. Warning! Deep Water by A.L. Lester is a historical, very British story. The Death of Digby Catch by Amy Spector is a murder-mystery, and The Hermit of Aldershill Manor by K.L. Noone is about an actual gardener at an old British estate.

My story, Strike a Pose, is more focused on the nakedness than the gardening, let’s put it like that. Or you know, naked statues in the garden…heh heh heh. No actually! I promise! Statues! Too. 😁

Strike a Pose is an age-gap, best friend’s father, second chances romance about Didrik who’s had a crush on his best friend’s father, Johan, since forever

Didrik would do anything for his best friend, Filip, including taking pictures of Filip’s dad, Johan, for a charity calendar. Naked pictures, of beautiful, irresistible, wonderful Johan, who was single-handedly responsible for Didrik’s gay awakening. He was also happily married and unavailable…until he wasn’t.

After losing his husband five years ago, Johan finally seems ready to move on, and as they start the charity project, everything changes. With every meeting, every conversation, every pose for the camera, the attraction between them swells and grows, until it burns hot and threatens to consume them.

Their interactions, their relationship is surprisingly easy, but it’s not without its challenges. The age difference for one thing. Telling Filip for another. Is their connection enough to last? Can they overcome the hurdles to get the happily ever after they deserve?

M/M contemporary / 17545 words

JMS Books :: Amazon :: Books2Read

All the stories are available to purchase individually, but you can also buy them in a box set, both in ebook but also in paperback. So if you wanna celebrate Naked Gardening Day today, without risking rose thorns where rose thorns should never be, or without accidentally sit in a patch of stinging nettles, why not read one or all of the Naked Gardening stories? Curl up on your porch (if you have one) with the beverage of your choice and indulge in some romance? Or maybe take your book for a walk around the block, and try to see if any of your neighbors are celebrating Naked Gardening Day, and if they do, you can recommend some reading for them when they’re done with the gardening chores. Or bring a blanket to a friend’s lawn or a park, and spend some time reading?

I’m going to grab my brand-new paperback box set and re-read the stories. Tell me your favorite and I’ll tell you mine. 😁

JMS Books :: Amazon :: Books2Read

Celebrate World Naked Gardening Day with five gay romance novellas!

The Naked Gardening Day stories are a collaboration between Holly Day, Nell Iris, A.L. Lester, K.L. Noone, and Amy Spector. They comprise five MM romance novellas featuring being naked in a garden somehow, somewhere, to mark World Naked Gardening Day on the first Saturday of May.

Contains the stories:

Perfect Rows by Holly Day: Everything would’ve been perfect if Grayson hadn’t been forced to share his garden with Cam. Grayson wants to grow vegetables, and he has a plan for how to do it. Cam loves flowers in perfect rows, but Grayson is incapable of growing things in lines. Most days end in conflict, at least until Grayson realizes he can shut Cam up by kissing him. But will they ever be able to agree about the garden?

Strike a Pose by Nell Iris: Didrik would do anything for his BFF Filip, including taking naked pictures for a charity calendar of his dad Johan, the stunning man responsible for Didrik’s gay awakening. Now a widower, Johan is ready to move on. As they start the project, the attraction between them grows. Their connection is easy, but not without challenges. Will they get their happily ever after?

The Death of Digby Catch by Amy Spector: When August Catch arrives at the Arachne’s Loom estate to collect his late Uncle Digby’s things, he is thrown together with Theo Webb, the heir to the Webb family fortune. The attraction is instant. When Theo begins to suspect Digby may have been murdered, he and August will need to work together to discover the killer, and not let the thing growing between them be a distraction.

The Hermit of Aldershill Manor by K.L. Noone: Charlie’s ready to start a new job and life at Aldershill Manor. As a historian, he’s thrilled to dive into the archives. And he can run from a messy break-up. And explore lovely gardens, too. Lionel does not like tourists, conversations, or social niceties. But he loves his job: helping beauty grow. When he finds the new historian caught in a storm, he offers shelter, which might bloom into more.

Warning! Deep Water by A.L. Lester: Spring 1947. England has just come through the worst winter in living memory. Peter’s been drifting since he left the army a year ago. George is lonely, despite the busy horticultural nursery he owns. Peter’s decision to take a swim in the irrigation tank presents them both with the chance to reach out and help each other. Can two misfits find a way to fit together with someone after all?

About Nell

Goodbye April

If March was uneventful, April has been the complete opposite. I have hundreds of photos in my phone of things I did in April and no more than 10%-ish is of my crochet projects, so a definite improvement. 😁

Shall we get the crochet projects over and done with immediately? Yes? 🙂

I made leaf- and bunny Easter decorations and you’ll get to se more of them in another pic. I finished the bunting for the grandbaby’s bed I talked about in March, and I also finished the shawl I’ve been working on (and let’s not look at my hair, please, because apparently I didn’t know how to use a brush on this particular day). I also made a granny square book sleeve, and we’re not looking too closely at it because it’s crooked, and I desperately need to work on my tension because despite blocking the squares, they still aren’t the same size. But it protects my book from getting scuffed in my bag when I bring it to read on the train on my way to work, which is the most important thing, amirite? 😁

Speaking of the train; this beautiful view greeted me one morning when my husband dropped me off at the station. The fog was so intense, I could almost feel it against my skin. I’m addicted to fog; it’s pretty and mysterious and a little spooky at once, and it’s extra interesting on days like these, when the sun colors it.

And then my best person (and her parents, too, ofc 😀 ) came for a visit for a long Easter weekend. I hadn’t seen her in so long, and when they arrived and I opened the car door to pick her up, she reached out for me, gave me a tight, tight hug, and said I love you, gramma.


Easter is a pretty secular affair in Sweden; we’re not a very religious people, and most of us see it as an opportunity to spend the long weekend (Good Friday and Easter Monday are both public holidays) with family and friends. The hubby and I have never really celebrated Easter, but now that we’re grandparents, things changed. Since the grandbaby absolutely loved to decorate the Christmas tree, I thought she’d probably love decorating the påskris equally much. Påskris (påsk=Easter, ris could mean rice, but in this case it means a bouquet of twigs and tree branches) is a Swedish tradition (read about it here) traditionally decorated with feathers, but that’s changed recently because the feathers used to be collected from live birds (no! Just no!). So I decided to crochet some decorations, hence the leaves and the bunnies in the first picture. We also bought wooden letters that read GLAD PÅSK (=happy Easter) and fluffy tulle decorations, and my daughter and grandbaby made paper Easter eggs from a painting made by Little W.

Then we collected twigs from the garden and handed over the decorations to Little W, and you can see the results in the pictures above. I was right, she loved it as much as she loved decorating the Christmas tree, and the decorating style was the same: the more stuff on one branch the better. It was the prettiest påskris I’ve ever seen in my life 😍

My parents also came for a late Easter lunch and stayed for hours. We arranged an Easter egg hunt for the grandbaby; the hubby made a treasure map for her and she was super excited. Let’s go find the treasure chest, she said and set off, correctly identifying the pool and easily identifying the swing set where we’d hid the egg. I’d filled her egg with lots of stuff, but I’d casually thrown in a bottle of soap bubbles on top, and that was her favorite thing. She spent over an hour outside, blowing bubbles with the entire family, having a lot of fun.

It was the best Easter in my life.

Easter Sunday was a lovely day and we decided to visit a nearby zoo, because that’s one of Little W’s favorite things to do. Her favorite animals are seals, so we spent a long time by the seal enclosure, trying to catch a glimpse of them, and she was so happy when they came swimming by. It was a lovely family outing, even if I’m not a fan of zoos: I believe that animals should be allowed to roam free and live in their natural habitat and not be imprisoned.

And you know…principles are good and all, but they vanish out the window when the grandbaby wants to go hang out with the seals 😆

The weekend after Easter, my BFF came for a visit. She arrived on Friday, and we had dinner and wine and hung out by the fire. On Saturday we went to Lund, a town about 45 minutes away, because we were going to a concert that night. But first we ate and had a couple glasses of bubbly in a restaurant located in a 500-ish year old house (I love old houses, and so does my BFF). It was a light snack and I just want to say that the olives in the picture were magical. I don’t even like olives, but these were sweet and lovely and I could’ve eaten a hundred of them.

Then we walked around the city, looking at other old houses. Lund is an old university town, with a 1000-year history, so there’s a lot of interesting things to see. It was unfortunately very windy that day so we almost froze to death, and took shelter at a glassed-in patio where we had a glass of wine or two. And before the concert, we had delicious sushi for dinner at a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant that didn’t seem too impressive at first sight, but the food was amazing.

The concert was a Swedish artist called Thomas DiLeva, who’s doing a David Bowie tribute tour. It was a fabulous show and his Bowie interpretations were great. He’s a quirky artist, unlike everyone else, who was greatly inspired by Bowie when he grew up, so he’s the right person for the job.

Spring has finally arrived for real (even though we’ve had a few frost nights recently, as though it’s trying to keep us on our toes), and one day at work, the sun was shining so brightly outside, I had to go up on the roof during my lunch break and enjoy the warm weather. I spent 20 minutes or so watching the ferries going to and fro Denmark (the land you can see in the back of the picture is Denmark, it’s a stone’s throw away from the office) and when I went back inside, I felt very refreshed and energized.

I also got book mail: my author copies of the Naked Gardening Day stories, and the 2022 Top Ten Gay Romance anthology. Iiiih, they’re so pretty 😍

The weekend after my BFF visited, the hubby and went to Helsingborg (where I work) to go to yet another live gig: this time by a Swedish synth pop band called Elegant Machinery (listen to one of their songs here). Hubby has known the guys in the band for ages, so when they came to play in our neck of the woods, we had to go, of course. It was a warm Saturday so we met up with friends before the gig and had a picknick in a park first, and then we went to the club. I’m not really a club goer and the place was packed, which isn’t a dream scenario for an introvert like me. But the show was awesome and completely worth it…but now I don’t want to see anyone who isn’t my husband for a long time 😁

I have an eleventh picture for you this time, because I just had to include my favorite flowers: wood anemones. They’re everywhere right now, but these are growing wild in our garden, and I love them so much.

And that was all from me this time. Tell me about something you did in April!