It’s been soooo gray and dreary and rainy here in the south of Sweden for so long, so when the sun was shining brightly from the sky on Friday after my morning writing session was over, I hurried outside to recharge in the daylight. There’s a teeny-tiny park near where I live, mostly meant for kids, but there’s a wooden path and a few trees, and I love hanging out there. I bought a cup of mint tea and went for a walk while listening to my current favorite album on Spotify.
I returned from my walk with a spring in my step and a smile on my face. The thing I miss most from Malaysia is the proximity to the equator and the resulting 12 hours of daylight every day, all year long (give or take half an hour). The constant darkness makes me tired and feeling down, but I’m trying my best to find things that cheer me up. Like my morning writing sessions, home made chai syrup, walks in the sunlight, and a good album.
What do you do to keep your spirits up during the cold and dark season?
Today’s book recommendation is so very British, I think it’s impossible to read it without a cup of tea. So go make a cuppa of your favorite tea, light a couple candles, and curl up on the couch with this book. It’s also one of the few books that have gripped me from the first page lately, so it deserves extra credit for that.
Fifteen years ago, teenage Laurie Henshaw came to live at Webber’s Farm with his elderly uncle and settled in to the farming life. Now, age thirty-two, he has a stroke in the middle of working on the farm. As he recovers, he has to come to terms with the fact that some of his new limitations are permanent and he’s never going to be as active as he used to be. Will he be able to accept the helping hands his friends extend to him?
With twenty successful years in the City behind him, Phil McManus is hiding in the country after his boyfriend set him up to take the fall for an insider trading deal at his London stockbroking firm. There’s not enough evidence to prosecute anyone, but not enough to clear him either. He can’t bear the idea of continuing his old stagnating life in the city, or going back to his job now everyone knows he’s gay.
Thrown together in a small country village, can Phil and Laurie forge a new life that suits the two of them and the makeshift family that gathers round them? Or are they too tied up in their own shortcomings to recognise what they have?
Taking Stock is a lovely, lovely book. It’s slow and gentle and quiet, and everything that I love in a story. It has found families and hurt/comfort, two of my favorite tropes. But most of all, it’s full of the kind of romance I love the most. There are no grand gestures or the cliched over-the-top things associated with romance. No, it’s a quiet kind of love. It’s two men sitting at a kitchen table, one massaging the other’s hand and arm, and they talk. It’s one man being there for the other when he’s needed, whether the other man wants to admit he needs help or not.
Very carefully, very gently, he put his hands on the curved knobs of Laurie’s shoulder, warm under his shirt. Laurie could shake him off easily if he so desired. Phil didn’t say anything. He just offered silent support.
Laurie was thin under the soft cotton. They stood for a while, doing nothing but breathing and looking out the window. Gradually Laurie relaxed and as he did, he swayed back, just a little, until some of his weight was resting on Phil. It felt nice, to take the weight for someone else.
Eventually, Laurie dashed his good hand over his face. Wiping his eyes, Phil thought. “Tea’s getting cold,” Laurie said.
Quote from Taking Stock by A.L. Lester
Taking Stock is about ordinary people overcoming extra-ordinary circumstances. Dealing with whatever shit life throws at them the best way they can. It’s full of warmth and friendships and support, and most of all, it’s a quiet, wonderful romance.
This is a definite re-read for me. This is five glorious stars and a heart full of love for Laurie and Phil. Buy this book, read it today. You won’t regret it.
I’ve been in a reading slump lately. Since the summer, really, since my university courses. I should have realized this would happen: it happened the last time I took literature courses at university and was forced into required reading, and it happened again this time. In my defense, I didn’t know one of the courses would require such an excessive amount of reading, considering it was a writing course. And yes, I understand and acknowledge and agree that reading is very important for a writer, but when a writing course consists of 75% reading and 25% writing, something has gone wrong if you ask me.
So I haven’t read a lot this fall. Oh, I’ve read books, don’t misunderstand me. But compared to the usual amount of books and fanfic I’m usually consuming, I’ve read very little. I’m 12 books behind schedule on my Goodreads challenge to read 200 books this year. And usually 200 books in a year would be no problem at all.
Very few books or stories grip me. I’ve downloaded a gazillion samples from Amazon, read them and discarded them again. I’ve searched my favorite tropes and ships on AO3, but nope. And to be honest, I’m starting to despair. Especially since I’ve planned a Christmas thingy for my blog, but have reading to do to complete it. Now I fear that I have to scrap those plans, and I don’t want to.
But the other day I stumbled upon a video recommendation in my YouTube feed, titled How To Get Out of a Reading Slump. It was as if the YouTube algorithm read my mind and provided me with exactly what I needed (for once, it never happens, but needle-haystack and all that). YouTuber gabbyreads has made a list of 7 action points for you to try if you’re in a reading slump, and I’m definitely trying them out. I’m linking the video at the bottom of this post for you to watch if you want; it’s definitely worth 12 minutes of your time if you’re in a similar situation like me, but I’m writing out her suggestions here, too, in case you don’t like watching YouTube videos.
Take a break. Spend some time doing some of your other hobbies.
Re-read a favorite book, even if it hasn’t been long since you read it. It will remind you why you love reading in the first place.
Read short books
Try an audio book, maybe listen to a favorite book on audio
Read something that’s easy to get through, something lighter. Maybe a thriller with shorter chapters, or a romance that makes you smile
Read something out of your comfort zone. Choose a genre you usually don’t read
Try to find an atmosphere that makes you want to read
Those are excellent and thoughtful suggestions, and her arguments for each item on the list are interesting. Some of them won’t help me. I already read mostly short books, and audio books drive me crazy because I’m a fast reader and audio is sooooo slooooooow, and my preferred genre is romance, so number 5 won’t help either. And taking a break, spending time on one of my other hobbies? What other hobbies? Reading is my hobby. But yeah…maybe I’ll try to find those watercolors I bought earlier this year and give it another go?
I’ve already got number seven figured out: I curl up on the couch, light some candles, make a cup of tea, and put on a YouTube fire. That works perfectly.
So I guess that leaves number two and number six. And number one, if I can find my watercolors. I’ve found The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on Scribd for number six. I don’t read Gothic novels, at least not anymore, but I watched another YouTube video where the creator said she knew of the story but had never read it, so she decided to change that and loved it. It’s the same for me, so I’ll try it.
And when it comes to re-reading a favorite, I’ve made a list of eight books, hoping I don’t need to re-read them all to get back into the swing of things.
Tell me: do you have any tricks of what you do when you’re in a book slump?
Trapped in a growing sense of restlessness, Oxen the hunter is lonely. Feeling like he’s waiting for something—or someone—he’s unable to focus on getting ready for winter. But when a handsome and very ill stranger collapses on his doorstep, everything changes.
The stranger, Vinge, is from a Pegasus family but has never been able to transform. As soon as he awakens, both men feel an instant connection, and it grows deeper as Oxen nurses him back to health. Something profound within each man calls out to the other, but neither of them knows what it is.
The questions surrounding Vinge and their deepening relationship are many. Why is Vinge so familiar to Oxen when they clearly have never met? Why are they both reluctant to take the first step to a real commitment? And what will it take for the true depth of their connection be revealed?
A pegasus shifter who can’t shift. A lonely hunter. An unexpected familiarity.
As I feared, the effect of the fever-reducing tea wanes even quicker this time, and soon the stranger grows restless. His legs move under the covers, his head whipping from side to side, and he mumbles something I can’t make out. I hurry over to his side and kneel by the bed. Carefully, I place my hand on his shoulder and squeeze.
“Honored stranger.” I keep my voice low and movements slow, so I won’t scare him. His eyes move rapidly under his eyelids and he turns his head toward my voice. It’s the most reaction I’ve gotten from him so far.
He struggles to free his arms from under the covers, and I lift the rabbit fur to help them out in the open. He calms a little when his arms are no longer restrained, so I take the opportunity to study him.
His color is much better than before; the grayish tinge and the fever roses are gone. I lay my wrist against his forehead and sigh in relief as he’s no longer burning up.
I sit back on my heels.
Curious. Very curious.
Maybe my fears that the tea hurt him were unfounded. Instead, it seems as though it has helped him, but at an accelerated pace.
Never in my life have I seen someone with such a high fever recover so quickly.
I brush away a strand of hair from his face. “Who are you?” I whisper.
When he seems to be sleeping restfully again, I get to my feet, but as I turn to leave, a tug on my sleeve and his faint voice stops me. “Do not leave. Please.”
The sound of his voice makes me jump, even though it’s more like a whisper than anything else. I look down on him; his arm out, hand holding my sleeve, eyes still closed.
“Do not leave,” he repeats.
“I will only fetch you some water, stranger. You must be parched.”
He tugs on my sleeve again as if to stop me, but after a moment he releases his grip. Crossing the floor with a few hurried steps, I pour fresh cool water from the flagon into a bowl.
His eyes are still closed when I kneel next to the bed again, but I can tell he’s awake by the way his head tracks my movements.
“I will lift your head and help you drink,” I explain before touching him again, and he tilts his chin down, giving me permission. I slide my hand around his neck, cup the back of his head, and ease it off the bed. He drinks in deep gulps until the bowl is empty, and when I lower him back down to the pillow, he sighs.
“Thank you, Hunter.”
I stiffen at his words. “Do you know me?”
Slowly, he moves his hand from his side and lays it on his chest. “I feel you,” he says.
“How?” My head is spinning with all the questions this man’s arrival has brought. For every passing hour, they multiply, and I can no longer keep track of them all.
The stranger doesn’t answer my question — somehow I knew he wouldn’t — so I try another approach. “I am afraid you have me at a disadvantage. I know not who you are.”
His pries his eyelids open, long eyelashes fluttering like a hummingbird’s wing. Even in the dim light of the cabin — cast only by the flames in the hearth — I can make out the color of his eyes: so dark they’re almost completely black, generously sprinkled with flecks of gleaming gold, and despite the obvious tiredness, his gaze is bottomless and intense. It pulls me in and settles some of the restlessness in my chest at the same time.
And when he looks at me, I understand what he’s talking about.
I can feel him, his presence. As though his heart beats next to mine in my chest. As though his breath mingles with mine when it leaves my mouth, as though I see myself through his eyes. As though I know him.
“My name …” His voice falters.
“… is Vinge,” I finish, a gasp escaping at my own words.
Hi everyone, I hope you had a great weekend. It started out nerve-racking, but by Saturday it looked up, when the American election finally was called in favor of Joe Biden. That’s worth celebrating and me and my husband did even if we’re not Americans.
But I was going to talk about writing, and not politics. This month, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo, and the goal is to write 50 000 words in November. Earlier years, I’ve participated in Camp NaNoWriMo which happens twice a year: in April and July. The difference is that in Camp you can choose your own word count goal, and don’t have to aim for 50K if you don’t want to. I’ve always felt that 50K, approximately 1667 words/day, in a month is an unattainable goal for me, so I’ve never signed up for it. But in July, when I wasn’t even going to participate in Camp NaNo but got talked into it (and set a low goal of 5000 because I was studying at university and didn’t think I’d have the time to write at all) I accidentally wrote over 50 000 words. Accidentally, you wonder? Yeah, that was when I started my morning writing habit and finished three stories in July. So I thought Why not try “real” NaNoWriMo this year?
And so far so good. I’m ahead, and the NaNo website has calculated that I “only” need to write 1534 words/day (instead of 1667) to finish on November 30. My total word count as I write this blog post is 18062 words, so 3000 words ahead of where I should be to avoid falling behind.
I’m currently writing a short story (it won’t be over 15000 words) and I’m on the last chapter. The problem is that I can’t make the last chapter work. I wrote 750 words on it yesterday that I scrapped this morning because I was unhappy with them. And this morning I wrote 1800 new words for my last chapter, and I’m not really sure I like them either. These might be redeemable, though, the ones yesterday weren’t. I’ll think on it until tomorrow and then decide.
My Meet Cute Chronicles that I wrote about in my last writing update – and by the way, I settled on it for a subtitle, so thanks to you who weighed in 😍 – are moving forward. They Met in the Library is submitted to JMS Books and will be published on January 13. They Met in the Park is with beta readers, and They Met in the Woods only needs one last read-through before it’s ready for betas.
Wanna read the blurb?
Adrian, book-lover extraordinaire, adores his job at the small community library. He gets to share his passion with other people and help them with all book-related questions and issues. When a big, hulking man walks into the library, looking terrified, Adrian’s skills are tested in a completely different way.
Manne’s relationship with books is uneasy, to say the least. He’s dyslexic and events in his past have made him fearful of books and turned libraries into his worst nightmare. But when the quirky, bowtie-wearing librarian steps in to help, the experience turns positive.
Their banter is easy and their chemistry instant. But can an accidental meeting turn into something more? Can someone who has trouble reading ever fit into the life of a man whose passion is the written word?
I also have some very good news: my story Always You made it to this year’s Top Ten Gay Romance anthology! Yaaaay, that makes me so happy. As usual, JMS Books bundle together their top ten selling short stories from the year, and I’m thrilled you guys loved Thom and Lee so much they are featured in the anthology. It’ll be released on December 30 and is already available for pre-order on JMS website. I’ll post the link below.
2020 Top Ten Gay Romance brings together the best-selling short stories published by JMS Books that year.
From first love to true love, from submission to sensual, from heat to sweet and everything in between, the couples in these stories are sure to keep you turning the pages as you fall in love with them.
With stories by Kris T. Bethke, Ofelia Gränd, Nell Iris, Shawn Lane, Marco May, J.L. Merrow, Amanda Meuwissen, K.S. Murphy, Elizabeth Noble, and K.L. Noone, this head-over-heels collection goes beyond bedtime reading. Whether happily ever after or happy for now, there’s an ending for everyone in here!
It’s the fourth year in a row one of my stories have been included in the top ten anthology and that makes me so happy I’m doing a butt wiggle in my office chair as I write this. And if you haven’t read the anthologies from 2017-2019, now’s the perfect time to buy them: use the one time coupon code NeedMoreBooks that gives you 50% off one purchase (valid through November 14) and you’ll be albe to buy 40 (yes, you read that right, FORTY) stories super-duper cheap. It’s a bargain! So clickety-click the links below, and don’t forget to add the coupon code when you check out!
Happy Saturday, everyone. This post starts with five things I’ve loved lately, and ends with one huge Facebook Party. First the list:
Rocketman. My husband and I watched this movie a couple weeks ago, and I really loved it. I don’t watch a lot of movies (or shows), so my hubby tries to find things he knows will entice me, and Rocketman was definitely one of those things. If we’re comparing musical films, i.e. Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody, I think I liked BR better, probably because I like Queen a little more than I like Elton John. Because objectively, Rocketman was a better movie. The scene below was fabulous. Have you seen the movie? Did you like it?
(PS: I’ve had Goodbye Yellow Brick Road on repeat in my head since we watched it. Doesn’t matter if I listen to anything else, it’s still stuck. So I’m getting a bit annoyed now, tbh 😀 )
My new fountain pen and the new ink. I can almost hear you guys: But Nell, don’t you already have a thousand fountain pens? Hush, you! I’m a writer, and writers need pens! Also: I was in need of some serious retail therapy, so I indulged 🙂
(I was going to post pictures of my pen and my ink bottle, but it’s a depressingly gray day here today and barely any daylight, so all the pics I’ve taken look like crap. So instead I snagged pics from Lamy’s webpage)
An older Andy Bell (singer of Erasure) with a white beard 😍 I loved him when he was younger and flamboyantly gay, and I love him in a daddy beard. It doesn’t hurt that their new album is the best they’ve released in 20 years or so.
The re-release of Shifting Silver by Brandon Witt. I already own this book, I bought it back in 2017 when it was available through Dreamspinner Press. But because DSP stopped paying their authors, Brandon Witt pulled his titles and has worked on re-releasing them. And because I love this book so much – I love all books I’ve read by this author but Shifting Silver is my absolute favorite – I decided to buy this re-released version, too. I often do that with books I really love. Or buy one ebook and one print book. Anyway, when it came up for pre-order months ago, I one-clicked it faster than the speed of light. Then I forgot all about it, so when it showed up in my Kindle app a few days ago, I was ecstatic. I re-read it and it was as great as I remembered it. If you haven’t read this beautiful story, you really should. Buy it here.
YouTube write-ins / write with me: Some days, my beloved morning writing crew has real world stuff they need to deal with (jobs! kids! sleep!) and can’t join me in my writing mornings. And since I prefer the company, even if it’s virtual, I’ve watched write-with-me videos on YouTube on these lonely mornings. Mostly on authortuber Kate Cavanaugh’s channel. I found her when one of her videos, I tried writing like Stephen King for a day, showed up in my YouTube feed. I enjoyed it, so I stayed with her. She’s done more “I tried writing like” experiments ever since, and other writing experiments, too, like 24-hour writeathon for example. She posts regularly and puts out high quality content, which are two things that make me happy. So if you want to follow an authortuber, I highly recommend her channel.
Now for the Facebook Party: today, Love Bytes Reviews celebrates that they’ve reached 1000 members in their FB group by putting on a huge party. It starts now, 9 am CET (Central European Time) November 7, and will continue until tomorrow, November 8 9:45 am CET. Each author has 15 minutes to party, so as you probably understand, considering it’s going for over 24 hours, there are a lot of authors participating.
If you want to party with me, my fifteen minutes start at 3:30 pm CET / 9:30 am EST, but I’d definitely recommend you popping by whenever you have the time. You can expect Giveaways Galore! 🙂
So when I stumbled upon Lucasby Elna Holst, also a F/F Jane Austen fanfic, I thought Why not? I downloaded a sample and liked what I read, so I bought the whole thing, and I’m really glad I did. Lucas is Pride and Prejudice fanfic, and it’s about Elizabeth Bennet’s friend, Charlotte Lucas, who’s been married to the dreadful Mr. Collins for three years at the start of the book. Then a new lady, Ailsa Reed, moves to the neighborhood, and the connection between Charlotte and Ailsa is instant.
Lucas is written in epistolary format, as letters Charlotte addresses to Lizzy but never sends (if you read the story, you’ll understand why) and I love epistolary novels. There’s cheating in the story (which didn’t come as a surprise considering Charlotte is married at the start of the book) but although I usually don’t like cheating, I didn’t mind it here, because let’s face it: Mr. Collins is awful! But it is a romance after all, so there’s a HEA. A very interesting, unexpected HEA.
The story was very well written and I enjoyed it immensely. I warmly recommend it.
After I finished Lucas, I was in the mood for more Jane Austen fan fic, so I went on Goodreads and searched. (Also, I’ve learned the very useful acronym JAFF, meaning Jane Austen Fan Fiction. Much quicker and easier to write 🙂 )
And OMG, there are a lot of JAFF out there. A lot of it isn’t so great, but there are good stories to find if you have the patience to look, which I had.
Mr. Darcy in Through a Different Lens is on the autism spectrum which explains his behavior. Lizzy recognizes it because she has a cousin (one of the Gardiner children) with the same problem, and she teaches him techniques that are meant to help him, that she learned by being around her cousin. The story is not a modern version, it’s still set in the regency era, so the words autism or Asperger aren’t used in the story itself, instead they are described as “different.” Through a Different Lens starts during Lizzy’s visit to Charlotte and Mr. Collins, before the disastrous first marriage proposal, and it follows all the plot points in the original novel, but altered to fit the idea of Darcy on the autism spectrum. It’s a lovely story and an interesting way to look at Darcy.
Mr. Darcy’s Vice tells the story of Mr. Darcy and Mr. Elias Bennet, because I had to read a M/M adaptation, didn’t I? It follows the plot points of the original novels pretty faithfully, but adapts it so the story fits a male Bennet. The story is told from Mr. Darcy’s POV, and I loved following his thought processes and his character development after this version of the disastrous marriage proposal (which isn’t a proposal ofc, because gay and regency). Elias Bennet is a delightful character and I thought the author had done a good job at adapting Elizabeth Bennet to Elias. I loved how the whole Lydia-Wickham situation was handled considering Elias being a man instead of a female without agency like Lizzy in the original. This, too, is a romance with a HEA, and a clever and believable one at that. I was very happy when I finished the story.
Finally, I read a couple short, free fanfics over at AO3 that I wanted to share. They are both Sense and Sensibility variations, one M/F and one M/M, and neither of them were about a canon couple.
An Unexpected Attachment by umbrafix is the story of Elinor Dashwood and Colonel Brandon falling in love, which in my mind makes much more sense than Marianne and Brandon. Besides, I’ve always found Edward Ferrars a bit boring, so I’m definitely shipping Elinor and Brandon. It starts when Marianne is ill after having her heart broken, and tells a lovely story about their connection, about Colonel Brandon being attentive toward Elinor, and they live happily-ever-after, of course, since this is a romance after all. And yes, I imagined Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman as Elinor and Brandon from the 1995 movie the entire time I read the story, hence the picture above. Because, hello, Alan Rickman!! 😍
The last story is about an even more unexpected ship than the one that got me started on this whole journey; Mr. Willoughby and Edward Ferrars. It’s called Heart of Stone and is written by user Lessandra. The story starts after Mr. Willoughby has broken Marianne’s heart, and I never expected I’d like to see him redeemed because he really is an ass to Marianne, but this was a great little story about him and Edward Ferrars connecting and falling for each other. I found the way the story progressed very believable, and how being around Edward made Willoughby better himself. If you like redeemed scoundrels, this is definitely the story for you.
Phew. That was a long blog post. And I admit to having lots of more JAFF samples in my Kindle app, so who know, maybe there’ll be a part 2 of this blog post one day.
Tell me: have you read any JAFF? If yes, anything you’d like to recommend? 🙂
Oh, and of course I had to watch Pride and Prejudice on Netflix, too.
October has been a boring month. I scrolled through my camera roll on my phone and was amazed over how few pictures I have from October, and most of the ones I’ve taken are of food I’ve made. Because cooking is one of the few things I did last month. And reading and writing of course, but other than that…nothing.
So here are ten boring pictures from my October. Tell me, was your month better than mine? 🙂
I’m starting off this blogpost with a picture of raindrops on my balcony door because this is what October has been for me; rainy and gray and depressing. If you’d asked me before the scroll through my camera roll, I could have sworn that we hadn’t had a single sunny day in all of October, but…
…clearly I was wrong. We had at least one sunny day as evidenced by this picture I took when I was out for a walk and found this cute little bridge 🙂
Like I wrote in the beginning: I cooked a lot, and one night I was in desperate need of pizza. But since I don’t eat dairy, I had to make my own. I made it with mozzarella (made from buffalo milk) and pecorino (made from sheeps’ milk), Parma ham and baby spinach. It was delicious.
I’ve done a gazillion online puzzles, and it’s all Ofelia Gränd’s fault. She’s started to include puzzles in her newsletters, and after I finished hers, I thought Hmmm, this was fun, lemme check if there are any more. And there are. Too many. 😀
My husband bought me a beer. An autumn beer that was very yummy, and suitable for the infatuation with fall I’ve nursed this year.
More cooking. I made ärtsoppa (yellow split pea soup) which is a Swedish classic. Traditionally, we eat it on Thursdays with pancakes, the thin crepe like pancakes we in Sweden call pancakes, not the thick fluffy ones from other parts of the world. But I didn’t feel like making pancakes so I skipped them, which made my husband pout for a minute or so. Maybe next time 🙂
Swedes have eaten ärtsoppa for hundreds of years: it first appears in Swedish literature in the 1300s, and also, in 1577 king Erik XIV ate ärtsoppa laced with arsenic and died. No one died after I cooked it, fortunately 🙂
I decorated my tea shelf with a string of fairy lights.
I wrote every day, drank lots of tea and burned a lot of candles.
I watched Pride and Prejudice from 2005 with Keira Knightly because I’d read a lot of Jane Austen fan fiction. Stay tuned for a post about that on the blog.
And on the last day of October, I prepared the word count tracker for November’s NaNoWriMo in my new, square bullet journal.
That’s it. That’s my exciting month. Told you it was boring. And traditionally, November is worse than October. We’ll see.
I leave you with this song by Tom Waits. (Lyrics is below the video)
No shadow No stars No moon No cars November
It only believes In a pile of dead leaves And a moon That’s the color of bone
No prayers for November To linger longer Stick your spoon in the wall We’ll slaughter them all
November has tied me To an old dead tree Get word to April To rescue me November’s cold chain
Made of wet boots and rain And shiny black ravens On chimney smoke lanes November seems odd You’re my firing squad November
With my hair slicked back With carrion shellac With the blood from a pheasant And the bone from a hare
Tied to the branches Of a roebuck stag Left to wave in the timber Like a buck shot flag
Go away you rainsnout Go away blow your brains out November
Today, I have a guest here on the blog, the lovely and talented (and one of my morning writing buddies) Ofelia Gränd, who has a new book out today. Please help me wish her the happiest of release days! 🎉🍾🥂🎂
Hi! My name is Ofelia Gränd, and I’ve written a story called Soul Eater. It’s a paranormal gay romance book filled with growly werewolves, evil wizards and the occasional ghost. I stopped by here today to tell you about it, but I changed my mind.
Instead of you listening to me rant about my book, I thought I’d ask Thaddeus a few questions. Thaddeus is a wizard who is one of the main characters in Soul Eater.
Welcome, Thad. What is your full name and do you have a nickname? Thaddeus Ezax. At work, they call me Thad.
What do you do and who do you work with? I’m a detective. I work in Rockshade’s Paranormal Investigations Department together with Elora Long, Leo Norden, Ric Hunter, and Captain Kol Jaecar.
That must be an interesting job. I guess.
Where were you born? In Rockshade.
Do you have a spouse or significant other? You know I do.
I do. Would you like to tell us about him? His name is Sandy. He’s a werewolf who turns translucent at the most inconvenient times. He worries too much, but he’s pretty awesome despite being a wolf.
How close are you to your family? I thought you were gonna ask me questions about the soul eater case. I fail to see what my relationship with my family has to do with it. Before Sandy, I hadn’t talked to my family in three years. It’s best that way. Mom doesn’t want me around, and it’s best for everyone if we don’t see each other.
But were you close as a child? You’re an Ezax, one of the most powerful wizard families in the world. Surely your mother must have taught you your skills and abilities. *snort* I’m a useless mage. I can’t do any of the things a mage is supposed to do. I was an embarrassment to my mother, and no one was happier than her when I started working with the shifters. None of her wizard friends hangs around shifters, so they wouldn’t hear about my failures.
Okay, moving on from your mother. What do you consider your greatest achievement so far, and why? *narrowed-eyed stare* Achievement? Has this to do with our solve rate? Elora and I do the best we can. It’s not our fault things are a bit tense at work.
Ah, yeah, no, that was not what I was referring to at all, but if you want to talk about a work achievement, go ahead. Not really. We caught him, it’s what counts, right?
I guess. Any heroic achievements on your part? We normally don’t let the public know about individual accomplishments during the investigation, but we never would’ve stopped him without Sandy.
Since Sandy wouldn’t exist without you, I think you can take some credit. The department solved the case. Together.
Right, okay. Do you have a criminal record? Of course not, I’m a detective.
Does that mean you’ve never done anything illegal? As a teen, I used to hang around the black market. And as an adult, I might have… stolen a werewolf skull from the black market. But I don’t have a record.
Do you believe in the existence of soul mates? Hard not to, after all this.
In your opinion, what is the most evil thing someone could do? Harvest someone’s spirit and keep it trapped in a skull for nine years. Or maybe it’s worse to devour someone’s soul. I don’t know.
Do you tend to argue with people, or avoid conflict? I avoid conflict… Most of the time… It’s not my fault Ric’s an ass or the bad guys are arrogant bastards.
No, of course not. What’s in your bedside drawer? I don’t see how that’s anyone’s business. I’ve been thinking about placing Sandy’s skull on top of the bedside table, though. I think it would be fitting for Halloween.
I see. I’m gonna let you go now, Thad. I get the feeling you don’t really want to do this interview. Perhaps it’s time for your pain meds? I’m gonna wear this cast for six weeks. I’d like to know how cheery you would be if it was you who had to—
Thank you so much for coming, Thaddeus. It’s been delightful. I think we’ll finish this post off with an excerpt from the book instead of continuing with the questions I had planned. Say hi to Sandy for me. I can see why Jaecar worries about the press. It’s a nuisance.
What was that? Nothing. Thank you for having me on.
We must have caught him on a bad day, he’s normally a cheerful guy… or more cheerful, at least. Thank you for letting us drop by, Nell!
Detective Thaddeus Ezax is in over his head. He’s the only wizard in Rockshade’s Paranormal Investigations Department, and it was his name that got him the job. The Ezaxs are known as some of the most powerful wizards in the world, but Thaddeus isn’t your average Ezaxs. Is it any wonder his family shuns him?
When a kidnapping case is dropped into his lap, Thaddeus must act fast. While most five-year-olds can cast a location spell, Thaddeus can’t and is forced to get creative. When he finds himself in possession of a black market werewolf skull with a ghost trapped inside, accidentally releases the spirit, and somehow forms a connection with it, things get even crazier.
Sandulf Hunter doesn’t remember dying, but he remembers the last thing he saw before everything went black—a wizard. All wizards must die! The only problem is, the wizard standing next to him smells too damned good, so good Sandy thinks he might have to keep him.
And since wherever Thaddeus goes, Sandulf finds himself yanked along, he might not have a choice in the matter anyway.
As he rounded a corner, he came into the main cavern. Table after table were filled with anything a magic user could need. Herbs, potions, knives, stones, and a lot of things he didn’t want to acknowledge.
The howl of a cat in a cage had blue sparks rain from his fingertips, but he tried to suppress it as he hurried past the traders.
Pickering had the last table in the row—of course he had. By now, Thad should have learned nothing ever went quick and easy. He held his breath as he stopped by the table.
“Thaddeus.” Pickering had short, red hair, and his face was filled with freckles.
“Einar.” Thad nodded at him.
“What can I do you for? Looking for a familiar?” He grabbed a cage with the largest toad Thad had ever seen.
“Ah… Eh… no. I was wondering—”
“A love potion?” He held up a tiny, red flask with a skull painted on it, and Thad almost laughed.
“No, thank you. Have you heard about—”
“Shrunken head?” He bent down behind the table.
“No!” Thad hoped he didn’t have a shrunken head back there. Could he ignore a shrunken head or did he have to report it at work? If a raid came out of his visit here, he’d be hunted for the rest of his life, and he did not want the wizards running the largest black market for miles and miles on his tail.
“This then?” Pickering tossed something at him, and Thad caught it. A buzz spread into his fingertips as he held up the…skull. Swallowing hard, he studied the sharp canines. The dog must’ve been massive when it had been alive.
“W-What is it?”
Pickering looked nervous as he leaned in closer and lowered his voice into a whisper. “Werewolf skull, very powerful. But I guess it’s wasted on you, mage.”
Werewolf? Was someone killing werewolves now or was it an old skull? Thad swallowed hard.
“Yes.” Why did it buzz? Thad was a mage, everyone in his family was a mage. Spirits meant nothing to him.
“A hundred and fifty.” Pickering raised one red, way-too-bushy eyebrow at Thad.
“A hundred and fifty dollars?” He could almost pay that to be able to bring it to work and have it analyzed. If someone was targeting werewolves, they had to be stopped.
“Thousand. A hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Do you think they’re easy to come by?” Pickering’s blue eyes were wide as they searched the shadows around them.
Thad’s hands shook as he placed the skull on the table. “No, I guess—”
“I can get you another animal if you want? Lion shifter? I know where there’s a pride. I need your order by the end of the night, though. There isn’t much time left to get it set up. Samhain is the only day a harvesting ritual works, and special orders increase the price, so you know…” Pickering shrugged.
Thad nodded. Coming here had been a huge mistake.
Pickering narrowed his eyes. “So what do you want?”
“I wanted to ask you a—”
“This more your price range perhaps?” He held up four black candles. “Blood candles. They’ll help you call forth the spirits. A hundred dollars.”
Thad nodded. He’d heard of blood candles, never owned any. Warlocks made them—a blood sacrifice to increase the power of the candles. When they were lit in a circle, they’d enhance the power…or something. Thad didn’t do circles. He was a mage, he had the power at his fingertips and not contained in a circle. Not that sorcerers and warlocks couldn’t bring their powers outside their circles—they could—but all their big, powerful magic work required a circle. But if it would get Pickering talking…
“Okay.” He grabbed his wallet and handed Pickering the money he’d budgeted for groceries.
“Excellent.” He turned to a side table to wrap the candles in paper. Thad must’ve lost his mind, but the skull vibrated.
“Have you heard of any…” Thad cleared his voice before hissing, “…soul eaters in the area?”
Pickering froze. “Jesus, Thaddeus. If that’s what they have you working on, you need to quit. Right away.”
“There is someone?”
Pickering shook his head, almost dropping the candles. Thad’s core filled with ice. There was a soul eater? He’d hoped he was imagining the signs.
The skull moved.
It couldn’t have, and yet Thad saw it turn. Perhaps he’d touched the table without noticing.
Pickering wiped his palms on his thighs, not looking at Thad.
“Einar. Someone is carving up young women. My stupid werewolf colleagues think it’s a shifter. It’s not. Someone is stealing their energy.”
Pickering didn’t move. He stared at the half-wrapped candles.
“I’m right, am I not?”
Pickering shoved the candles at him. “You need to leave. Leave now, Thaddeus, and don’t ask any more questions.”
“You think he’s only making angels?” Pickering’s voice was so low, Thad had to strain to hear him. “You think a powerful warlock would leave anything behind for the police to find? It’s a game to him. It amuses him to have the dogs running around in circles. Don’t get involved in this case, Thaddeus.” He turned around so fast Thad jumped.
As Pickering pretended to unpack a box on the ground, Thad picked up the skull. He opened his mouth to get Pickering’s attention so he could hand it back but halted. Looking around, he couldn’t see anyone watching him although that didn’t mean no one was watching him. As carelessly as he could, he placed the skull on top of the candles and cradled the bundle to his chest.
Trying not to run, he took aim at the exit, a furious voice screaming in his head.
ABOUT OFELIA GRÄND
Ofelia Gränd is Swedish, which often shines through in her stories. She likes to write about everyday people ending up in not-so-everyday situations, and hopefully also getting out of them. She writes romance, contemporary, paranormal, Sci-Fi and whatever else catches her fancy.
Her books are written for readers who want to take a break from their everyday life for an hour or two.
When Ofelia manages to tear herself from the screen and sneak away from her husband and children, she likes to take walks in the woods…if she’s lucky she finds her way back home again.