Today, I have Ofelia Gränd as a guest here on the blog. She’s going to talk about her brand spanking new release #PictaBook, that’s a part of the same multi-authored series as my new release #SlidingIntoMyDMs. We wrote them at the same time last summer during our morning writing sessions, and I’ve heard so much about it. I can’t wait to read it.
But enough about that now. Help me welcome my friend Ofelia.
Thank you, Nell, for allowing me to take over your blog for a spell, it’s most kind of you 🙂
Today, my story #PictaBook is released, and I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. Of all the stories I wrote in 2020, this is my favourite.
Back in the summer, there was an in-house call from JMS Books for stories where the characters fell in love on social media. Covid had been in our lives for about half a year, and I think all of us were starting to find new ways to hang out. Connecting through social media felt natural.
The submission call said we could either use an existing platform for our stories or create a new one. One of my main characters is dyslexic, so I wanted a platform that wasn’t too heavy on the text. I guess I could’ve gone with Instagram, but since I already had decided they would connect over books, I wanted a platform where reading was the main focus, and PictaBook was born.
Think Goodreads, but instead of a review there is a picture and below it, the reader has listed hashtags.
When Nix, one of the main characters, see the co-worker he’s been flirting with checking out books on PictaBook, he thinks maybe the way to the man’s heart is through books. He signs up and starts browsing. He doesn’t find his co-worker, instead, Jules’ hashtags catch his attention.
Jules Rose took a sip of his red wine and scrolled through his PictaBook feed. There were several new books, and he made a note of checking if they’d be available to order for the library where he worked. Not all books were, especially not in niche genres.
The speech bubble in the right hand corner showed someone had commented or liked one of his reviews. It had turned to green. Jules’ heart sped up.
He liked PictaBook because it was simple, and it was about books, so what was not to like? But the main reason he liked it was because no one tried to interact with him. He had approved no one for personal messages, and he’d searched a long time for a way to remove people’s ability to comment on his reviews, but apparently there was no such option.
Staring at the green speech bubble, he blew out a breath and tapped on it. SexyDoornail69 has liked your review of The Empty Egg. Jules frowned. He couldn’t remember that book, and wanted to get back to the one he was reading.
Closing PictaBook, he opened his reading app, took another sip of wine, and popped a piece of chocolate into his mouth. He loved Friday nights—wine, chocolate, and a book were all he needed in life.
As he was about to open the book, another notification from PictaBook showed at the top. SexyDoornail69 commented on your review. It stayed there for a few seconds before it disappeared, leaving the screen free of interruptions. Damn.
For too long, Jules held his breath. He didn’t want anyone to comment on his reviews, but it would be rude not to reply, wouldn’t it?
He opened PictaBook again and clicked on the speech bubble. SexyDoornail69 had commented on The Empty Egg. Jules went to check. The picture he’d uploaded was of a lumberjack, and the hashtags he’d used were: #MMRomance #Contemporary #Lumbersexual #OppositesAttract #EstablishedCouple #Fetish #DualPOV #ShortAndSweet #BonerWorthy.
Ah, he remembered it now, but it had been years since he’d read it. A blush crawled up his cheeks as he read the comment, and he quickly took a sip of wine to calm down.
SexyDoornail69: Hi, ReadingInACorner! Love the hashtags. How boner worthy are we talking?
Jules took a long, deep breath, and hit the reply arrow.
ReadingInACorner: Read it and find out, though read the first book in the series first.
He closed the app and put away the phone as if it had burned his fingers. Standing, he righted his glasses and took more deep breaths to calm his racing heart. Booksy, his beloved, super lazy and slightly murderous cat, was resting in his usual spot on the windowsill in the bedroom, and Jules went to pick him up.
Booksy wasn’t the cuddly kind. Jules had gotten him from a shelter two years ago, only days after having moved in, and the scars on his ears and face spoke of a harsh life. They deemed him to be around three years old when Jules had adopted him. The hostile glare Booksy had given everyone who passed him, had made Jules pick him over all the other cuter, more social, well-behaved kittens.
Booksy was a kindred soul, and they understood each other. Neither of them liked people, neither of them liked to be cornered, and neither of them liked conversations.
“Don’t you want to join me by the TV?” He met Booksy’s narrowed eyes. The slow twitch of his tail said no, he did not want to join Jules by the TV, but he did nothing to get out of Jules’ embrace.
“Some idiot is trying to talk to us. Don’t they know we only talk during office hours?” He patted Booksy’s head and chuckled when he yawned. His muscles unclenched, and he put Booksy back on the windowsill, patting him again. “Thank you, love. I needed a cuddle.”
He went back into the small living room in time to see the screen light up with a new notification from PictaBook. He sent Booksy a panicked look. What happened to their calm, quiet Friday night?
Jules Rose leads a quiet life working as a librarian. He’s happy to spend his spare time reading books and talking to his homicidal cat. What more could he wish for? But when his cozy Friday night is shattered by a friend request on his book community app, politeness gives him little choice but to accept. Jules doesn’t want to talk to anyone, but he can’t be rude. Besides, if he had to talk about something, books is the topic he’d pick.
Phoenix Ford is dyslexic and avoids everything that has to do with the written word, but when the colleague he’s trying to impress calls him stupid, he decides to convince the other man, he’s mistaken. All he needs is the right book to make him look smart, a perfect balance between intelligent and short. And who better to ask for help than a guy who loves books so much, he labeled one boner-worthy on a book app?
When Jules finds out Phoenix never has read a book from start to finish, he’s on a mission. He will find the right book, the book that will make Phoenix fall in love—with reading. Phoenix’s plan might have been to listen to the book Jules picked for him to impress his colleague, but that was before he got to know him. Talking about books is a sure way to Jules’ heart, but is it enough for him to agree to go on a date?
M/M Contemporary / 36559 words
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.
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