Resolutions for an Arbitrary Holiday

Happy New Year

It’s finally here, the last day of 2021. I can’t say I’m gonna miss it but who knows if next year will be any better? I’m not even gonna be cautiously optimistic; I’m just gonna go with the flow. But my year will at least end on a high note: our Malaysia BFFs are visiting today and we’re going to eat and drink and catch up on the last two years. I really look forward to it.

But if they weren’t visiting, I’d be equally happy to spend the day on the couch with a good book, an even better playlist, and a bottle of bubbly. Because bubbly is mandatory on New Year’s, right? And if this sounds like your idea of fun, too, I have just the book for you:

Two strangers, a twisted ankle, an ancient stone ship, and a New Year’s Eve they’ll never forget

Petter sneaks out of the New Year’s party he didn’t want to go to and treks to an old burial site he’s dying to see. Alone. Without telling anyone on a freezing December night. Without cell service…a huge problem when he twists his ankle.

Someone passes by Isak’s house on the path leading to the stone ship. When the person never returns, Isak worries and sets off to investigate. What he finds is Petter, a pack of sparklers, and an instant connection.

Under a starry sky, they learn they have a lot in common. Will the attraction burn hot and fizzle out like the fireworks going off over their heads when they return to the real world? Or will it deepen, grow, and turn into something real? Something everlasting like the stone ship?

Resolutions for an Arbitrary Holiday is 50% off in the Smashwords End of Year Sale, so it’s cheap, too!

My New Year’s resolution is to not start smoking in 2022 either…just like Isak in the book 🙂

Before I go, I’ll leave you with the beginnings of a playlist; a song that’s mandatory to listen to as a Swedish person on New Year’s Eve. 😆

Top Ten Anthology, Wake Him With a Kiss

2021 Top Ten Gay Romance

Every year, JMS Books releases an anthology with the best-selling short stories of the year, and I’m extremely happy and honored to tell you that for the fifth year in a row, one of my stories will be included! Can you believe it? Five years in a row!! What have I done to deserve this?

💃 (<- Nell doing the happy dance)

This year, it’s my tiny tattoo story, Wake Him with a Kiss that you loved so much it’ll be included in the anthology. This makes supremely happy, because it’s not even 7000 words long, and most readers tend to go for longer stories. So thank you so much for loving this little book so much it sold so well. 😘

As usual, I’m in excellent company. My friend Hollyfelia (Holly Day/Ofelia Gränd) managed to get two stories into the anthology, one for each pen name, which is a huge accomplishment. K.L. Noone, one of my favorite authors, of course has a story in it, and my dear Kris, too. I’m so happy for all of us!

The anthology will be released on January 1st, and the pre-order link is up at JMS Books now. I’ll post it below.

2021 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, Jamie Craig, Holly Day, Ofelia Gränd, Pat Henshaw, Nell Iris, A.C. Katt, Shawn Lane, Wayne Mansfield, 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!

About Nell

Recent Release: The Santa Emergency

On Christmas Day, my holiday story The Santa Emergency was released. I know, I know, I’m supposed to promote my books on the actual release day, but because I’ve been sick I haven’t had time to schedule anything, and Christmas is a very busy time. Hence, no release day post.

Am I still allowed to call myself an author if I miss such a vital part of my job? (please say yes!) 😁

But better late than never etc, so I’m telling you about it today. And I have a really cool link for you. Every Friday, author Angel Martinez reads an excerpt from a book on her blog, and earlier this fall, I signed up for the Christmas Eve spot. So click this link if you want to listen to Angel Martinez reading from The Santa Emergency. I highly recommend it; she’s doing a fabulous job, and I listened to it with a wide smile on my face.

And one final thing before I post a promo pic and the buy links: Smashwords are holding their traditional End of Year Sale, and JMS Books is participating as usual. All my solo written books are 50% off, so if you’re hesitating to buy The Santa Emergency on the grounds that Christmas is over, you can currently get it at half price. Sort of like how there’s always a sale on Christmas tree decorations after the holidays are over, right? And this is a very pretty ornament, if I may say so myself 😆

I have a Santa emergency and I desperately need your help.

Sigge isn’t exactly a grinch when it comes to Christmas, but he’s not a fan of the holiday either. So when his new neighbor Kristian shows up in a panic, begging him to help by donning a Santa suit, Sigge’s gut reaction is to say no. But Kristian is cute and funny, rendering Sigge powerless against his heartfelt plea—especially after a promise of spending more time together—so he agrees.

The instant connection deepens as they share mulled wine and conversation as easy as breathing. But is it just holiday magic swirling in the air, or is it something real? Something that will last into the new year and beyond?

A final reminder that all my books are 50% off in the Smashwords’ sale, so if you want to browse, here’s the link to my author page.

Guestpost, Release Blitz

New Release Spotlight: The Ruby Tooth by Ofelia Gränd

Merry Christmas, everyone! Thank you, Nell, for letting me drop by again (you’re always welcome, my friend!). It’s been an intense year, and I figured we’d close it out with a Nice story 😊

JMS Books had an in-house call for short stories that were either Naughty or Nice. I went with Nice. I’m almost a little shocked about that – not really, but I had this inner monologue where I told myself I ought to pick the Naughty one.

Thing is, I could’ve picked either or and still argued that it fit my story. The Ruby Tooth is a nightclub run by a supernatural species called veritas. By looking at you, they see into your soul and can deem if you’re good or bad.

The nightclub is divided into two – good people go to the left, bad people go to the right. So it doesn’t really matter if you’re naughty or nice, you’re still welcome at The Ruby Tooth. But if you’re shown to the left, you’re not allowed to hang with those who were shown to the right.

It all works out great until Ilya is to meet his best friend Vera at The Ruby Tooth. Ilya can’t find Vera anywhere, and it pisses him off since he didn’t want to go out in the first place. A phone call later, he learns that Vera is there, but at the other bar, and decides to get to her.

Ulric is a werewolf and a bounty hunter, and he’s well aware of how The Ruby Tooth works. He’s always considered himself a good guy but is shown to the right every time he goes there. One run-in with Ilya has him realising that 1. the veritas showing him to the right must’ve been correct in their assessments despite his misgivings, and 2. the universe has made a huge mistake because Ilya is his mate.

And to make matters worse, the vampire he’s at The Ruby Tooth to hunt down sees Ilya and wants to eat him 😆

I had a laugh writing this story. I think every person is more or less corrupted, and while I would claim there are some seriously bad people in the world, most of us probably can’t be easily divided into one or the other, but it was fun to play the what-if game.


Ilya placed his glass on a table by the wall and pushed through the door to the kitchen. His heart was hammering as he took another few steps. What the hell was he doing? He should phone Vera and suggest they call it a night, or head out for pie. He had a sudden craving for apple pie.

“You’re not supposed to be here.” A woman glared at him. She had tattoos everywhere—hieroglyphs. He almost yelped.

“No, I know, and I’m sorry, but a woman is throwing up right in the middle of the dance floor and no one seems to care.”

She frowned then headed for the door. Ilya didn’t wait for her to turn around and tell him to come along, he darted through the kitchen. Someone else called after him, but he rushed through the brightly lit room and pushed open a door.

Stumbling, he was momentarily blinded by the change of light as he proceeded out into a shadowy room. His lungs shrank as his gaze swept over the people there. Most of them were men twice his size, and the women resembled the woman he’d met in the kitchen—tattoos and dramatic clothes.

Dress-up party. He pulled in a sigh of relief, and while he couldn’t say what they were dressed up as, it calmed his soul. There were two lumberjacks by the bar—wild beards, broad shoulders, and plaid shirts. He smiled and nodded toward them. The man behind the bar looked like someone you should avoid, but he wore a Santa hat, and Ilya’s shoulders dropped a fraction.

“Ilya!” Vera jumped to her feet by the table she was seated at, and Ilya might have imagined it, but he believed the lumberjacks growled. Maybe Vera had misunderstood the theme of the night.

In the more lit area of the club, everyone—or close to, at least—had been wearing Christmas costumes. Here Ilya tugged at his tunic, wishing it hid more of his tights-clad thighs.

Nervously, he touched the tip of his ears. They were pointed. Vera had gotten him elf ears and body glue. They looked surprisingly real, but now he wanted them off. This was not the place to have elf ears, he couldn’t say how he knew, but he wished he wore his normal clothes.

Vera called his name again, and several heads turned his way. He hunched his shoulders and hurried over to her table. She was with a dangerous-looking man—of course she was.

Ilya hesitated. His heart beat fast, but not in a wanting-to-get-away kind of way. No, he found himself taking a step in the man’s direction, wanting to be close to him.

He stopped himself before he embarrassed them all. “Hi.”

He waved his hand but regretted it when the man groaned. Vera frowned at the sound but pulled Ilya in for a hug.

There was a growl coming from nearby. Ilya jumped, then bent to search for a dog underneath the table.

“Strange. I could’ve sworn I heard a dog.” He focused on the man and almost jumped again. “Oh, cool contacts.” The man’s eyes were a glowing honey color. Ilya nervously offered his hand. “I’m Ilya.”

The man grunted and grabbed his hand. Ilya never wanted him to stop touching him. Then he became aware of Vera frowning at him and tried to pull back, but the man refused to let go. For a second, Ilya’s heart jumped to his throat. The man wasn’t hurting him, but the hold on his hand was tight.

“Excuse me.” He tried pulling again, and the man let go. Ilya forced himself to take a step back and focus on Vera. “So… erm… what the hell are you doing here?” He kept his hissing low and was somewhat discreet as he gestured around. The man Vera was with saw him, of course. Those honey eyes never left him.

“The goon at the door showed me in here.”

“They were so creepy! When I tried to search for you, they stopped me.”


“Had to lie to the poor woman in the kitchen.” He shook his head regretfully, and the man chuckled at the same time as he buried his face in his hands. Ilya gave Vera a glance. The poor soul looked like he was having a breakdown.

Vera shrugged, so Ilya waved a hand and pretended the man wasn’t there. “Anyway, I was thinking…” He wiggled his eyebrows at her. “Let’s grab some pie!”

Vera groaned. “No. You’re getting wasted, we’re gonna get laid—” The growl sounded again, and Ilya stared at the man. It had sounded as if it came from him, but it couldn’t have. He bent and glanced under the table again—only legs. When he glanced up, the man was studying him.

“See anything you like?”

Ilya jerked. The tone was harsh, more growl than anything else. “Eh… no… I thought I heard a dog.”

“A dog? In a nightclub?”

Heat climbed Ilya’s cheeks. “Health regulations, of course. Didn’t think of that.” He nodded and a mix of a groan and a laugh escaped the man. Ilya looked at Vera again. Pie would be really nice now or to go home, slip on flannel bottoms, and curl up in front of the TV.

“Can we go? Please?”

“But we just got here.” Vera toyed with her glass.

“No. I’ve been here for an hour, if not more.” He didn’t think it had been more than an hour, but he was already exhausted. This many people and having rushed through the kitchen when he wasn’t supposed to be there. It took its toll.

“Pie?” Maybe she’d agree to go to a calmer place. Not that this part of the nightclub was noisy. The music and the chatter had been louder on the other side.

“No. We’re having a drink.”

Ilya groaned.


Ilya Lewis is gonna kill his best friend Vera. She not only persuaded him off his couch and into the creepiest nightclub in the city, she also didn’t show. When Ilya learns the bar is split into two halves, and he’s been let into the wrong side, it doesn’t make things any better. Once the doorman determines which half to let you into, he won’t let you into the other.

Ulric Moon hates the Ruby Tooth. But as a bounty hunter, he must go where the trails lead him, and tonight it’s landed him in the worst nightclub in the universe. All he wants is to catch the vampire he’s hunting, but despite trying to convince the veritas doorman examining his soul that he needs to be let into the good side of the club, he’s shown to the bad. As if that wasn’t enough, his destined mate somehow manages to sneak into the bad side where he doesn’t belong. Ilya finds a way to the other side of the bar, but one look at the patrons there has him regretting ever leaving his apartment. When he tries to leave, a scary-looking man who does nothing but growl follows him.

Ulric knows he’s freaking Ilya out, but Ilya has inadvertently caught the interest of the vampire Ulric is hunting, and he has to protect him. How will Ulric keep Ilya safe when he doesn’t believe Ulric is a bounty hunter? And how do you tell someone they’re your mate when they don’t believe you’re a werewolf?

Gay Paranormal Romance: 11,834 words

JMS Books :: Amazon ::

About Ofelia:

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.

Find Ofelia on social media

Blog :: Newsletter :: Instagram :: Facebook Page :: Facebook Profile :: Goodreads :: Bookbub :: Pinterest

Guestpost, Release Blitz

New Release Spotlight: A Midwinter Night’s Magic by Ellie Thomas

Help me welcome the lovely Ellie Thomas to my blog today, who’s here to talk about her upcoming release A Midwinter Night’s Magic. I love Ellie Thomas’s books and I love Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, so this is definitely a book for me! I pre-ordered it a long time ago, and I can’t wait to read it! Release day is December 22.

Thank you so much, lovely Nell, for having me as your guest today! I’m Ellie Thomas, and I write Historical Gay Romance. In this blog, I’ll be chatting about A Midwinter Night’s Magic, my story for JMS Books’ Christmas submissions call.

While I was deciding whether to pick either the Naughty or Nice option for my seasonal story, for some reason, the impishly naughty Puck, from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, popped into my head. At first, I dismissed this as too outlandish even for me, but in the end, I couldn’t resist the storyline of mischievous Puck meets sedate Regency country house party. So the theme is decidedly Naughty!

In parallel to a typical Shakespearean comedy, my main character, Matthew Lewis, is an exasperated victim of circumstances. He mistakenly agrees to attend a Christmas country house party, only to be trapped there by heavy snow and with the former love of his life, Crispin Marley, whom he now loathes. If that isn’t enough, he is obliged to engage in a play reading of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to be performed on Christmas Day. As you can imagine, he’s not a happy bunny!

It was a delight and indulgence to revisit the play as the research for my story. As I’ve been fortunate enough to teach it many times over the years, I could recall the key events sufficiently to rough out my plot based on my amateur actors’ rehearsals.

I had such fun casting my characters in the roles to reflect their romantic circumstances. Matthew, who has a heck of a temper where Crispin is concerned, is an obvious Oberon, King of the Fairies, as he rages at his Queen, Titania. In some modern productions, Oberon and Theseus, Duke of Athens, are played by the same actor to reflect the two contrasting sides of one person. Oberon embodies passion and drama, whereas Theseus is all chilly diplomacy. It seemed ideal for the seemingly controlled Crispin to be the detached Theseus to Matthew’s fiery Oberon, emphasising the couple’s former bond and their current emotional chasm.

Abigail, the bossy young lady of the house whose idea it is to perform the play, has a mild attraction for Crispin and plays Hippolyta, Theseus’ future wife, unaware of Matthew and Crispin’s past attachment. Ironically, she casts a woebegone neighbours’ son (who is secretly in love with her) as Lysander, one of the four Athenian lovers, with his sister to make up the pair as Hermia. The Boltons, a young disaffected married couple, are Helena and Demetrius. To echo the script, Mr. Bolton shows far more interest in Hermia than in his languishing spouse. Then we have the daftly comedic enchanted pairing of Titania and Bottom the Weaver, played by Mrs. Robinson, a neglected wife with an errant husband and Mr. Grace, the jovial local vicar.

How could Puck resist magically interfering with all these possibilities for romantic confusion?

However, any meddling proves to be benign, and as in the play, the silliest liaison lasts only as long as the effects of the love potion.  But for the truly-matched couples, especially my star crossed lovers, Matthew and Crispin, magic can only trigger the spark for reconciliation. After the stardust has settled, the rest is up to them.

I hope readers find this a twinkly feel-good Christmas tale that reflects the happy ending of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. And so to finish, I can’t resist quoting Oberon’s blessing,

So shall all the couples three
Ever true in loving be.


In late 18th-century England, when Matthew Lewis accidentally accepts an invitation to a festive country house party, he vows to stay only for as long as is polite. However, not only is there a heavy snowfall to detain him but also, the guests are expected to take part in a recital of A Midsummer Night’s Dream on Christmas Day.

If amateur theatricals are not enough to contend with, the unexpected presence of former lover Crispin Marley is sent to try his frayed patience. The pair has had no contact since Crispin abandoned him with no explanation four years previously. Matthew is determined to feel nothing but enmity towards his lost love. But the influence of the play can change everything. Can Puck sprinkle a little fairy magic to bring this warring couple back together?

We were in love, we planned a future together and you left me without any reason


Before going upstairs to prepare for the evening, Matthew made an excursion into the dining room on the far side of the main hallway to fortify himself with a glass of port. He approached the substantial sideboard where trays of glasses and an array of decanters were placed for guests to help themselves. So he was not surprised to hear the door open and close behind him, assuming it was another gentleman with a similar intention.

But the voice that spoke his name had him whirling around so fast that the port nearly spilled over the rim of the glass onto the expensive carpet. Crispin stood before him, tall, dark, and slightly forbidding, his expression neutral.

“Firstly, I wanted to say how sorry I was to hear about your father’s passing last year,” he began. As Matthew stared at him in shock, Crispin took a deep breath before carrying on. “And I thought since we are obliged to be guests here together, to avoid an unpleasant atmosphere, that we should have a talk.”

“I have nothing to say to you,” Matthew spat out, finding his voice, incensed by Crispin’s presumption.

“We have not seen each other for a long while and I thought…” Crispin began.

Matthew’s temper began to build. “What? You thought that I would oblige you by making amends? You thought that enough time had passed so I was sure to have absolved you for walking out on me without a word?”

The expression on Crispin’s face froze. “I wanted to explain…”

“Now?” Matthew’s voice almost rose to a shout. He controlled his tone with effort, continuing in a fierce whisper, “You want to apologise to me now! After four years of complete silence, you assume you can walk back into my life and all would be forgotten?”

“I beg your pardon. I have made a mistake,” Crispin said, backing away from Matthew, his voice glacial.

Matthew took a combative step forward, “Too damned right you have,” he hissed. “We were in love, we planned a future together and you left me without any reason. Oh, of course,” he said, his voice thickening with sarcasm, “I forget. You left a note. What were the words? Let me recall. I’m sorry but I can’t do this. After more than three years of being inseparable, that was all the explanation you gave me, you total bastard!”

Matthew was beside himself with rage, all those painful, long-buried memories stirred up by Crispin’s ill-timed intervention. He was almost ready to fling his drink into Crispin’s face, only held back by the reservation that it was a waste of good port.

His adversary did not rise to the raging words and searing emotion, his countenance remaining expressionless. Cold-blooded bastard, Matthew thought furiously.

“As I said,” Crispin began in that cool, contained tone that made Matthew want to punch him, “This was an error in judgement. If you’ll excuse me, I will leave you now.”

Undisturbed by Matthew’s ire, he had the presence of mind to perform a bow before making a swift exit, shutting the door quietly behind him.

Matthew was shaking with fury. He turned around to place the glass on the tray before his fierce grasp snapped the delicate crystal stem. He put both hands on the surface of the sideboard, leaning over, fixing the port decanter with a glare, muttering, “bastard, bastard, bastard,” under his breath. The fact that Crispin-bloody-Marley had the gall to approach him expecting clemency fuelled his agitation to boiling point.

JMS Books :: Books2Read


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.

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