Read Around the Rainbow Web Ring

Read Around the Rainbow: Do you have a writing plan for next year?

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 RAtR topic for December is Do you have a writing plan for next year?

I’m not the kind of writer who makes detailed writing plans. I know most other authors have detailed plans, for example series writers have the next installments planned out, or in general, authors who are more organized than I am (…it isn’t hard, I promise 😁). But I’m a hardcore pantser (something I’ve written about before, e.g. in last month’s RAtR post) and that applies to my entire writing career and not just my writing style.

Or maybe that’s not exactly true. There are a few exceptions, all of them tied to submission calls put out by my publisher. Towards the end of the year, they usually post a whole bunch of sub calls for the coming year, and I read through them and get inspired by some (or all). I write down the ones that caught my attention in my bujo and if inspiration strikes, I write a story and submit something that will fit. So for 2023, I’ve signed up for an in-house thing in December, and I’m also eyeing the Second Chances one and the Silver Foxes one on this list.

Not everything I write is for a submission call; sometimes inspiration strikes and I write and submit whatever it is, but that’s the pantser part of my writer personality. It’s mostly spur-of-the-moment inspiration, and it’s not planned. I let my inspiration take me wherever it wants to go, and I refuse to plan ahead.

But. Here’s the thing.

Since I started my Day Job almost two years ago, I’ve had a very hard time balancing a full-time job with life and a writing career. For the first time ever, I’ve missed a deadline and have been forced to pull out of a project I’d signed up for. My lovely publisher agreed to extend my deadline so I had time to finish my story (After Marcus), but I’m someone who hates being late so I felt awful. I still feel awful thinking of it now.

So my goal for 2023, my writing plan, is to try to find a work-life balance. I need to figure out a way to be able to both work full time and write. Maybe not the most exciting plan, but it’s paramount. If I can’t make it work, the alternative I see is that I quit writing, but that’s not really an alternative, is it?

So. Wish me luck. And if you have any insights, please tell me in the comments.

Don’t forget to check out my fellow RatR authors to see what their writing plans for next year are.

Amy Spector :: Ellie Thomas :: A.L. Lester :: Holly Day :: Ofelia Gränd :: Addison Albright :: K.L. Noone


New Release Spotlight: A Christmas Engagement by Ellie Thomas

Thank you so much Nell for having me as your guest blogger today. I’m Ellie Thomas, I write MM Historical Romance and I’m dropping by today to chat about my new release for JMS Books’ Naughty or Nice Christmas call A Christmas Engagement.

When I chose Nice as my theme for this Regency-set Christmas story, I wanted that quality to embody one of my two main characters so that quality would shine through when all looked lost. Of course to engineer that, I had to cause a major crisis, so at the beginning of my story, my main characters Charles and Avery (my Mr Nice) are an established couple who have recently become estranged.

Although Charles is responsible for their separation, I didn’t want to make him undeserving of Avery’s goodness. Charles is off kilter and out of is depth due to the sudden illness and passing of his father. This loss causes for him (at least temporarily) to reject his longstanding partner.

As a man in his mid-twenties, Charles not only has full responsibility for running a working farm and estate but also the practical welfare of his mother and younger siblings to consider. So his sensation of being overwhelmed is understandable. He reasons that now he is the head of the family, he should marry to consolidate the family’s lasting security. This would be reasonable enough if not for the fact he’s gay and has been in an exclusive relationship with Avery since university.

Although this may seem drastic to modern sensibilities, in less enlightened times, some people from the LGBT community did feel forced to compromise to society’s norms and to marry women, which must have been a very sad and difficult situation for everyone concerned. So Charles’ dilemma (although self-imposed) is far from unique.

As this is a romance, I wanted it to be clear that the only person putting pressure on Charles is himself. His mother is astounded by this sudden decision, and puzzled by the fact that Charles intends to travel to the popular resort Bath immediately to select himself a bride at haste, which explains the semi-ironic story title.

When Charles arrives in Bath, complete with his mental clipboard to check list attributes of suitable ladies (although he seems fairly terrified of most of them) inevitably, fate intervenes to have Avery visit the city with his wise Great Aunt Clarissa, who has quietly supported her great-nephew’s relationship with Charles since the very start.

The story is from Charles’ point of view, but I hope Avery comes across in all his unfailing kindness, never losing his ultimate faith in Charles. Rather than being bitter or angry, he sees Charles’ uncharacteristic behaviour as lost and misguided because he understands Charles so completely. Avery’s tactic is to wait for Charles to see reason.

Even as I was writing this, I was urging Charles to come to his senses before he did something irrevocably stupid. There was always the hope that the temptation of Avery, in all his glorious niceness, would win the day, especially since he never really lost Charles’ affection for these two to win their Happy Ever After. 

In 1805, Charles Denham’s comfortable life in Regency London with his long-term partner Avery Mallory is disrupted by the sudden death of his father. As the heir to a modest country estate in Gloucestershire, Charles returns home to care for his bereaved family and take up his new responsibilities.

Overwhelmed with grief, rather than leaning on Avery, Charles rejects his love and becomes fixed on the idea of taking a wife for reasons of family duty alone. With this plan in mind, during early winter, he travels the short distance to Bath only to find that Avery and his family have already arrived at the resort.

Will Charles follow through with his ill-conceived plan for a hasty betrothal by Christmas? Or will he come to his senses and resume his relationship with the nicest man in England?

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


Charles paused before saying clearly and deliberately. “With Papa’s passing, it seemed expedient to start to look out for a wife.”

He heard Avery’s sharp intake of breath as Aunt Clarissa looked at him shrewdly. Her bright, old eyes, darker and sharper than Avery’s, seemed to pierce his soul. “You have come to the right place,” she remarked. “Far better to make your selection at your convenience in Bath than to be bothered with the fancy folderols of the London Season. I might be biased as I have fond memories of the place. The town will never be the same as in the heyday of Beau Nash, but it still passes muster, although I say it myself. And you should find a wide array of suitable ladies now you are resolved on matrimony.”

Charles had the sneaking suspicion that Aunt Clarissa was laughing at him and was spared further embarrassment by the timely approach of Mr. King. 

“Ladies,” Mr. King uttered, addressing the group. “Might I interest you in a game of Cribbage at the Card Room tonight? The tables are filling up quickly, and I’d be glad to put your names down. From experience, these events prove very popular and can be over-subscribed.”

That popularity was confirmed by eager fluttering from the group of ladies, mercifully distracting Aunt Clarissa’s attention away from Charles. 

Charles’ dearest hope was for Avery to have melted away into the surrounding throng during the conversation. Having only begun to establish himself in the confines of Bath’s society, Charles could not afford to cause gossip or general disgust by delivering a cut direct. And in truth, he flinched from being unnecessarily and publicly cruel. None of this was Avery’s doing. He must simply accept that Charles’ priorities had altered with his father’s death.

But when Charles glanced around, Avery was still standing there. He looked a trifle pale at Charles’ announcement but managed a smile as he said conversationally, “You must wonder why we are here. I’m sure you remember all those letters from my aunts pressing Aunt Clarissa for suggestions for her seventieth birthday celebrations?”

Charles nodded as he remembered their shared London rooms in Rupert Street, Avery’s face alight with laughter as he passed Aunt Clarissa’s typically scathing letter over the breakfast table for Charles’ amusement, in a gesture of everyday intimacy.

“Well, Aunt Clarissa refused to be contained by any sedate or convenient notions and decided to drag us all to Bath for the occasion, complete with a hired house on The Circus. According to her, since she’s in her dotage, she won’t get another opportunity to relive her past successes or criticise the current fashions and assembled company at the top of her voice. As you can imagine, both my aunts are thrilled.” Avery’s mobile mouth quirked with humour, and Charles was almost tempted to smile with him until Avery asked, “What does your mother think of your resolution to marry?”

Avery was still smiling, but his eyes seemed almost as shrewd and watchful as Great Aunt Clarissa’s. Charles was only glad that the necessarily loud interchange between the Master of Ceremonies and a lady of the party who was hard of hearing masked the personal turn of the conversation.

“She is delighted I’m assuming my obligations in seeking to establish our family connections.”

“Is she?” Avery sounded mildly surprised. “I’d have thought she would be far more concerned about your happiness and state of mind.”

“I am happy,” Charles retorted.

“If you say so,” Avery smiled agreeable before asking casually, “and since when have you been attracted to women?”

Charles bristled, “What’s that got to do with anything?”

“Everything, I’d say if you seek marital accord.” Avery had the gall to look faintly amused as Charles cast around for a suitable retort, stumbling over half-remembered phrases he had recited to his mama. As Charles reeled off homilies on duty and family responsibility, Avery’s smile faded. But rather than displaying the outrage or bitterness of a repulsed lover, Avery’s expression was full of compassion, tinged with sadness. 

Charles completed his speech, sounding pompous and prematurely middle-aged even to his own ears. Avery opened his mouth to impart an urgent observation before hesitating. Instead, he patted Charles on the arm, saying, “I’m sure you know best, Charles,” in a manner that implied no confidence whatsoever in his former lover’s judgement.


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.

Twitter: @e_thomas_author

Nell Iris' Christmas

Merry Christmas

I just wanted to pop in and wish you all a Merry Christmas (if you celebrate) or a happy Saturday (if you don’t). In Sweden, our main celebration is today, on Christmas Eve, so as you’re reading this, I’m either stuffing my face full of food (Christmas ham!), drinking glögg (mulled wine), watching Donald Duck (it’s a Swedish thing), or playing with my darling grandbaby.

And I thought, maybe you wanna read a book full of Swedish Christmas traditions today on Christmas Eve? All of the things I mentioned above (except my grandbaby!) is in this book and it’s cute, borderline instalovey, and full of mulled wine. What more could you want? 😀

“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?

M/M contemporary / 13 816 words

JMS Books :: Amazon :: Books2Read

Nell Iris' Christmas

M/M Euro Book Banter Advent Calendar

Today’s the day I’m taking over the M/M Euro Book Banter Facebook page for their fun Advent Calendar Event. Come hang out with me!

M/M Euro Book Banter


Willow Road by Holly day and JMS Advent Calendar

Today, my dear friend and all around fabulous human being, Holly Day is back on the blog. She’s here to talk both about her newest release and also a little about the JMS Advent Calendar. Please help me make her feel welcome!

Hello, everyone! Thank you, Nell, for allowing me to steal a spot on your blog again 🥰

A few days ago, Willow Road was released. It’s a story I wrote for Crossword Puzzle Day, which is today. Crossword puzzles don’t play a huge part in the story, but everyone knows Jeremiah solves the daily crossword puzzle in the newspaper. The story takes place in a paranormal world where shifters rule and humans are treated like second-class citizens.

Jeremiah was allowed to attend a shifter school despite being human. It should have been great, shifter schools are much better than human schools, but Jeremiah was bullied. It got so bad he developed a social phobia, and as an adult, he doesn’t leave his house. His bullies are still living in town, and since they know he’s solving the crossword puzzle every day, they put personal ads right next to it, encouraging people to drop by his house for one reason or another.

This has gone on for years, but when Zeeb, the new chief of police hears about it, he’s furious. Human or not, no one in his village will be harassed.

Zeeb is a wolf shifter, and wolf shifters have fated mates. Zeeb can’t have a human mate, so when he meets Jeremiah, he tells himself he’ll be fine without him. All he has to do is get to the bottom of the ad problem, and that will be enough. He’ll know Jeremiah will be safe.

Lying to yourself is never a good idea, though 😆

Often when I write, I borrow things from the city I grew up in – streets, parks, the beach, and so on. This time, I’ve borrowed from where I live now. I have no idea who lives in Jeremiah’s house, but a friend of mine used to live there. It’s right next to the cemetery, and I used to walk by it every day when I went to work. It used to be a post office, and there was an old postal sorting cabinet in one of the rooms. It might still be there, I don’t know. I don’t plan on ringing their doorbell and asking the ones who live there now 😊

If you continue over the river on the footbridge at the end of the street, you’ll come to the area where Zeeb lives. A former colleague of mine lives there, not in Zeeb’s house, but close enough 😄

And do you know what? JMS Books has an advent calendar. It’s not many doors left to open now, and if you’ve missed a door, you can’t go back. Sorry. Today though, behind door 21, you’ll find Willow Road. So hop on over there and grab your copy! Tomorrow, it’ll be too late.

Willow Road

Jeremiah Pace hasn’t left his house in thirteen years. He doesn’t trust anyone, least of all shifters. School was a nightmare, and despite never interacting with anyone in the village, the bullying continues in his adult life. Someone is putting ads in the paper, encouraging people to drop by his house for one service or other, but Jeremiah never opens his door.

Zeeb Hemming is a lone wolf and the new chief of police. He’s only been in Stoneshade for six weeks when he learns about the ads and goes to knock on Jeremiah’s door. Not because of what today’s ad said, but to get to the bottom of what’s going on. Human or not, Jeremiah deserves to live life in peace. The moment Zeeb nears Jeremiah’s house, he knows he’s his mate. But he can’t have a human mate.

Jeremiah pleads with Zeeb not to stir anything up. Yes, the ads are bad, but things can always get worse. Zeeb is furious someone is mistreating his mate and is willing to skin anyone who has any connection to the ads alive. But how is he to convince Jeremiah to trust him when he talks to Zeeb through a gap in the window instead of opening the door to his house?

Gay Paranormal Romance: 19,909 words

Buy links

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Zeeb slowed his car and peered at the red wooden house right next to the cemetery. Snow was falling, and the December dark subdued all life in the small village.

Jeremiah Pace. He’d checked before he left work, and Jeremiah was thirty-one, like Dolph. There were no complaints about him. He’d never been arrested, never been married, didn’t have any children, and so on. There was next to no information about him.

He crept by the house. It was… quaint. The blinds were drawn, and the snow lay in a thick layer on the stairs, making the house look uninhabited. Zeeb sighed and drove on.

The tiny one-story row house he rented was on the other side of the river. If he followed Willow Road to the end, there’d be a footbridge from where one could turn right into a small walkway, but he couldn’t get there in his car.

He drove out on the main road going through the village, crossed the river, and turned left into the small area with row houses. It was a U-formed road with ten houses, six on one side and four on the inside of the U. He hated it. There was no privacy. Everyone watched his every move, and everyone had opinions.

He’d have to look for something else, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to stay in Stoneshade. He’d wanted away from the city, but…

Parking his car, he looked at the dark windows of his house. Depressing. He’d eat something, then go for a run. It wasn’t too cold, and the snow was coming down in big, slow-falling flakes.

He heated some leftover chicken from the day before and ate standing by the kitchen counter. He’d been unable to relax ever since he’d learned about Jeremiah. He didn’t care about some recluse, except… It pissed him off when people laughed. Whatever had happened, it had traumatized the poor soul. He’d checked the record. Jeremiah’s father, Robert Pace, had reported it. The police chief at the time, Harvey Farkas, had conducted some interviews, but from what Zeeb could tell, he hadn’t pushed for answers, more a friendly chat with some of the prominent shifter families in the village, and no one had volunteered any information.

The case was closed for lack of evidence only a couple of weeks after it had been opened. Quick and easy without stepping on anyone’s toes.

Zeeb would bet his tail that half the village knew exactly what had happened, and the other half could guess. With a growl, he put the plate in the sink and stalked into the bedroom. Pulling his shirt over his head, he kicked off his shoes and pushed down his jeans and underwear. A former tenant had installed a dog door, which was terrible from a security perspective, but Zeeb had soon come to appreciate it. He could shift indoors and sneak out through the dog door without having to freeze his bare ass off.

Trotting down the road, he kept to the shadows as much as he could. When he reached an area with some trees, he slipped in between them instead of sticking to the paved road. In a village as shifter-dense as Stoneshade, no one raised an eyebrow at a wolf scurrying down a road, but he preferred that no one knew where he was going.

The night was quiet. He caught a whiff of a rabbit ahead but ignored it. To cross the river, he had to make it to paved ground again, but as soon as he’d cleared the footbridge leading to the end of Willow Road, he snuck in behind the houses. Stalking the small forest, he hoped he wouldn’t run into anyone there, shifter or otherwise.

The blue light of a TV shone inside the house Zeeb had assumed was abandoned, which made him slow his steps. Was there someone living there? It had a cracked window, and the lawn hadn’t been mowed, you couldn’t tell now with the snow, but when Zeeb first had arrived, the dying grass had been knee high.

It was a good thing someone lived there, though. Before he’d believed Jeremiah lived between a cemetery and an abandoned house, but him having a neighbor was good. If Jeremiah ever was in danger, they’d hopefully notice and call for help.

He crept forward, keeping to the edge of the forest. There was a slope leading down to Jeremiah’s house, and to his surprise, there was a patio with an outdoor masonry oven. Images of barbecues in the summer flashed before his eyes, but Jeremiah wouldn’t have any barbecues, would he?

The blinds were drawn on the bottom floor apart from the hallway window where the lamp was on. There was light on in one of the rooms on the upper floor too, and Zeeb pictured Jeremiah in there. He didn’t have a clue what he looked like, but his brain provided him with an image of a faceless man huddling in a corner, terrified someone would ring his doorbell.

He hoped no one did. By now, the entire village was most likely in on the joke, but did people outside of Stoneshade read the ads? How local was the local paper?

Shrugging off the snow clinging to his fur, he settled down under a pine tree. He wouldn’t stay long, only a few minutes.

About Holly

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:

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