A blast from the past

I thought I’d entertain you with a very old picture of myself today. It’s about 30 years ago, 1988 or 1989 and I was 16 or 17. Denim on denim. Huge glasses. Perm. I mean, have you seen anything prettier?? 😂😂


The photo is taken outside my high school. I took lots of languages (Swedish and English of course, but also French, German, and Latin). I read The Queen of the Damned (I was an Anne Rice fan girl!), watched L.A. Law on television (loved law-and-order shows!) and Besökarna (Swedish horror movie, English title The Visitors) at the movies. I listened to Behind the Wheel by Depeche Mode and Sign Your Name by Terence Trent D’Arby.

I was still quite shy here, until a year or two later when I made a new friend who got me into acting, and that changed my entire life.

Also a year or two later, I met my future husband, the love of my life, the cutest boy I’d ever seen. And even though I don’t act any longer, or watch much TV or film, and stopped reading Anne Rice a long time ago, that boy is still in my life. And I plan to keep him forever.

Tell me something about your 16-17 year-old self in the comments! 🙂


Writing update

Happy Monday, everyone! I thought I’d tell you about what I’ve got going on at this moment.

I’m still writing 9 Willow Street, my bunny shifter story (inspired by this super short as you probably know by now if you’re a regular visitor to my blog). I’m currently at 13500 words, and I plan on finishing it this week. Keep your fingers crossed that I’ll make it!

I love that little bunny! He’s adorable and so possessive of his human before shifting into his human form himself.

Here’s the inspiration picture for the bunny. Isn’t he the cutest?


His Steady Heart is submitted and accepted by my publisher and will be released May 25. Wanna read the blurb?

Ashley Buchanan—Buck—moved back home to take care of his sick mother when he was 22. That was the first time he met Pippin, the neglected 6-year-old boy next door. Fifteen years later, Buck—a caretaker by nature—offers up his couch for Pippin, who needs a break from his mom and a quiet place to sleep.

Pippin Olander is a ray of sunshine despite his emotionally lacking upbringing and works hard to make a better life for himself. Even though he’s fiercely self-sufficient, he learns to accept help from Buck, his rock and only steady presence in his life.

Their friendship deepens and grows into something more as they spend more time together. But when other people try to throw a wrench in the works, when Pippin’s independence is triggered, can Buck and Pippin trust in the love they’ve found?

I’ll be doing a lot of writing in April, because I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo. My publisher always has a cabin for any of us writers who wants to participate, and I love the community feeling so I signed up. Let’s hope I reach my goal of 20K words. My first step will be to finish 9 Willow Street, and after that I have another project ready to go. I’ll tell you more about it later.


I made a NaNo tracker in my bullet journal to keep up with my progress. Let’s hope it’ll be all filled out and pretty at the end of the month!

Have a great week, everyone! 🙂

A to Z

a to z

26 things Nell Iris loves, from A to Z

All I Need – song by Radiohead
Bullet Journal
Coffee-flavored kisses
Darcy…as in Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberly
Fanfiction #Snarry (Snape+Harry if you’re not familiar with the hashtag) ftw
Gili Air – a teeny tiny paradise island in Indonesia
Harry Potter, and children’s books in general
Japanese ramen
Leonard Cohen
Kramar – means hugs in Swedish
Moulin Rouge – movie with Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor
Notebooks, I’m a stationary addict
Orion and all the other constellations – I love the stars
Pens, especially fountain pens
Queen and Adam Lambert live in Bangkok 2016
Reading, or anything book related really
Star Trek
Tea, preferably green
Until Forever Comes, book by Cardeno C
Vinyl records
Wine, preferably sparkling
Yazoo, 80s synthpop band
Ziggy Stardust, song and persona by David Bowie

Tell me something you love 🙂


Pictures from Sweden

I’ve been talking about my trip to Sweden for a while, and I thought you might like to see some pictures? I’ve posted pictures on Instagram from my trip, too, but except for one or two, these on the blog haven’t been published before.

So, here’s what I did in Sweden.

emirates bar

Drank bubbly in the business class bar on the plane.


Traveled from Malaysia to Sweden and visited the Malaysian embassy.

skriva på cafe

Wrote at a café, because apparently books don’t write themselves and deadlines are a real thing.


Grumbled about all the snow. Ugh.


Paid a visit to the house I used to live in before I moved to Malaysia. It’s not visible in this picture (I’m standing right next to it, taking this photo), but this is the street I lived on.

fina hus

Took the long way to the grocery store so I could look at all the old houses that I love so much.


Fika – of course!!


Had to go to the bathroom at the train station and was flabbergasted when they wanted me to pay by texting or downloading an app. In Malaysia when there’s a fee to use the bathroom, someone actually sits outside and takes my money. 🙂


Ate homemade elephant ginger bread cookies at my mom’s house.


Giggled at my sister-in-law’s ingenuity. This is their graduation gift to my daughter. We (me and my husband) gave her a trip to Iceland as a gift (it’s on the top of my daughter’s bucket list) and my parents and brother’s family gave her this, for the trip. Pocket money, get it? My SIL actually stole one of my brother’s pockets from his jeans and stuffed it full of money. So funny.


Realized that if you’re married to a musician, he takes his instruments with him everywhere he goes. Even halfway across the world 🙂


Was fascinated by this emergency phone I found in an old elevator. Don’t worry, they had a modern phone, too, but I’m glad they saved the old one.


Drank tea as I watched the full moon and pink sky, waiting for the sun to rise.


Celebrated my husband’s nephew’s 11th birthday. I couldn’t eat the cake (I’m not allowed to eat dairy) but judging from the noises the other people made when they ate it, it was delicious 🙂


Received a love declaration from someone when I took out the garbage. I love you, too, unknown person! (What do you mean it wasn’t meant for me? How do you know? 😀 )


Grumbled some more about the snow.


And the whole reason for the trip: I attended my daughter’s university graduation ceremony. And if you’re wondering which one of these happy people is my daughter, she’s the one who’s cutest and smartest and loveliest. 😍 I’m sure you can pick her out in the crowd after that spot-on description 😀

That’s all. Have a great Monday!

WIP teaser and guest post

One of the new things here on the blog now that I’m trying to produce regular content, is a teaser from current WIP. I’ve mentioned it earlier here, and it’s the May/December project I’m teasing from. It’s still untitled and I haven’t written a lot more since I told you about it (I’m traveling and I’ve had to prioritize writing my chapters in the collab project I’m working on with Kris T. Bethke.)

If you need a reminder, the story is about two neighbors called Buck and Pippin. They’ve known each other since Pippin was six, but now that he’s all grown up, things are starting to happen. This is the (unedited) beginning of the story.

wip teaser banner

I see him immediately as I turn my truck onto our street. Huddled up under a threadbare blanket, he’s curled into a ball at the top of the stairs leading up to the tiny, rundown house he shares with his mom. He has a paperback book open on his lap and he uses the flashlight on his cell phone so he can see to read since it’s still dark outside.

I frown and grip the steering wheel until my knuckles whiten. It’s too cold for him to sit there. It’s the second week of January, and even though we still haven’t gotten any snow—it was our first green Christmas in years—the temperature hovers in the low thirties. Even in the dim light, I can see him shiver.

With a huff, I park on my driveway, throw open the door, and step out. “Hey Pippin,” I holler, and his head shoots up. How he missed the rumble of my truck is a mystery, but he tends to shut out everything around him when he’s got his nose in a book.

His generous mouth stretches in a wide smile and he raises his hand in a wave.

“Get your butt over here,” I call.

He pulls the blanket tighter around his narrow shoulders. “I’m okay. You must be tired after your shift.”

I roll my eyes, not caring that he can’t see me. That guy! He doesn’t wanna be a bother but doesn’t realize that he never is. Not when I first moved back in with my ma to take care of her when she was sick—I was twenty-two and he was six the first time I found him on the stairs because his mother had a “gentleman caller” as Ma used to call them—and not now.

“Don’t make me come get ya, Pippin Olander. That’ll make me grumpy for sure.” I cross my arms over my chest and glare at him, but that only makes him laugh.


Just one thing before I go: today, I’m a guest over at Joyfully Jay where I talk about Awakenings & French Songs. I’m giving you an insight into a writer’s life and share an excerpt from the story exclusive for Joyfully Jay. There’s also a giveaway.

If this sounds like fun, clickety-click here to read the post.

Nell on social media

Last Monday, I told you about my plan for more regular content on the blog in 2019. That plan extends to being more active on other social media platforms as well, such as Twitter, Facebook (page and profile), and Instagram. Facebook is my least favorite platform, so to be perfectly honest, I mostly use it for promotion. If you want a little more personal content, I suggest following me on Twitter or Instagram.

I’m most active on Twitter, but Instagram is second. My goal is to post something every day. I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it.

Here are my most liked Instagram pictures during 2018.

nell_iris-full best nine instagram 2018

As you can see there’s a little bit of promo there too, but not as much as on Facebook. I post lots of pictures of my notebooks and fountain pens, book related stuff, and tea and other food/drink pictures. You know, like every other instagrammer (except I don’t post cat pictures. I’m allergic)!

So if you like that kind of stuff, feel free to follow me over at Instagram.

What are your favorite social media accounts that you follow?


The Fall Writing Tag

I found a fall writing tag over at Amy Tasukada’s Youtube channel, and I’m stealing it for a little Friday fun.

This year, I’m actually going to experience fall for the first time since I moved to Malaysia in 2012 (Malaysia doesn’t have fall, we have dry and rainy season). I usually go visit Sweden in the summer or around Christmas time, but this year I’m squeezing in an extra visit. I’m going on October 16, staying for two weeks, and the plan is to hug the stuffing out of my daughter, fika a lot (fika is the most important Swedish tradition), go for walks and look at fall colored leaves, and meet friends and family. But mostly just enjoy spending some time with my daughter and her boyfriend.

So I thought a fall themed tag was fitting.

Also, why not check out Amy’s answers here 🙂


Image from Pixabay


1. Crunching Leaves- The Perfect Sound. What do you like listening to while writing?

Mostly nothing. Sometimes, I listen to electronic instrumental music, but most of the time I write in silence. I can’t listen to anything with lyrics; that just makes me want to sing along and I lose my concentration.

2. Hot Bubbling Cider- What’s your favorite thing to eat or drink while writing?

Honestly, I’m not very picky. I’m happy as long as I have something to drink, whether it’s water, soda, tea, or even the occasional glass of wine. But mostly, I drink water.

3. Bon Fires- The Perfect Night. Name your perfect writing conditions or your perfect writing night.

As long as I have a good quality notebook and my favorite fountain pens, I’m good.

4. Pumpkin Spiced Latte- Something you used to like but now don’t.

I used to be obsessed with reading murder mysteries, but I severely overdosed on them so now I don’t anymore.

5. Halloween- Your favorite part of writing a novel.

Editing, because that means the hard part is done 🙂

6. Monsters & Goblins- What terrifies you most while writing/ drafting a novel?

My own laziness. That I’d rather lie on the couch reading what someone else wrote than do the work.

7. Hay Rides- A Bumpy Ride. What do you do to get over a writers block or get inspired?

Every time I’ve hit a block, it’s been because something in the story isn’t working. So I take a step back and try to objectively look at what I’ve written so far to figure out why it’s not working. And when I’ve found the problem, I change it, and writers block is gone!

8. Haunted Houses- World Building. What are some tips you have on crafting the perfect world?

Don’t forget about the details.

9. Pumpkins- Do your story ideas start with characters, plots, setting or something else?

A lot of the time the idea for an opening scene pops up in my mind and I work my way from there.

10. Ghost Stories. Share a spooky writing prompt!

People make death threats to a woman who’s been a victim of sexual assault, slander her reputation, and treat her like crap, and send a message to all women in the world that they don’t matter. No wait. That was reality. Sorry.