More love for Cinnamon Eyes

A month ago I posted a review roundup for Cinnamon Eyes. I’ve since gotten more fantastic reviews and I wanted to share them with you. The kind words and love for Cory and Asher makes me incredibly happy ❤️

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Jules at The Novel Approach gave it 4 out of 5 stars

“Cinnamon Eyes is full of emotion, and features two main characters whose love absolutely jumps off the page. Friends-to-lovers stories are my jam, so I’m picky about them, but this one was well-done and heart-warming.”

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Melanie M at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words gave it 4,5 out of 5 stars

“The author’s writing is smooth, her storytelling is wildly romantic while still being real, and the ending is everything you will want it to be.”

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Kirsty at Joyfully Jay gave it 5 out of 5 stars

“I was particularly impressed by Nell Iris’ understanding of Cory’s depression. I am a firm believer of characters’ experiences being a close to real life as possible and as someone who has struggled with depression for much of my life, I could really identify with Cory. From the outset of the story, Iris makes her reader conscious of the fact that Cory’s positive mood is not a lasting one and that his recovery journey is not complete. I think it is really important that Iris recognizes that individuals attempting to get well have different ways of coping when their emotions become overwhelming.”

“Cinnamon Eyes is a romance that will melt readers’ hearts, without being saccharin sweet because of the real-life issues that Iris handles with such sensitivity. This may be the first book I have read by Iris, but it won’t be the last! A full five-star recommendation.”

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NeRdyWYRM at Gay Book Reviews gave it 4 out of 5 stars

“I think Nell Iris may have succeeded in accomplishing something I once thought was impossible. This read has reversed my usual (and usually complete) loathing for short stories.”

“The connection between these two sweethearts was epic.”

CE with cory and asher brown

Buy links: 
JMS Books | Amazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks | Google Play | B&N | Kobo | Smashwords


Back home and advertising

Hi everyone. I’m finally back home after almost three weeks away in Sweden, hanging out with friends and family, hugging the stuffing out of my daughter, and attending my oldest friend’s wedding. It’s been great, but I’ve had no time for writing and I’ve really missed it. I need to find a way to figure out how to be still be a writer when I visit family.

But now my head is full of ideas and my fingers itch to get started, so hopefully I’ll be banging away on my keyboard soon. The stupid jetlag just has to release its hold of me first.

Now for something completely different: wanna see something pretty?

Skärmavbild 2017-09-07 kl. 20.26.30

Would you look at that! I bought advertising space on the Diverse Reader blog, so for the entire month of September, the pretty cover of Cinnamon Eyes will adorn the front page. Isn’t that awesome? Let’s keep our fingers crossed that it generates lots of clicks and sales! Because Cory and Asher deserve it.

CE two childhood friends blurb

Buy links: 
JMS Books | Amazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks | Google Play | B&N | Kobo | Smashwords

Going on a trip

I’m going to Sweden today. I’m gonna hug my daughter, hug my mother (and father and brother and other family), hang out with friends, and eat Swedish food. And I’m going to my BFF’s wedding. So if I seem absent, you know why 🙂


I love my pastel-y suitcase with the rainbow luggage tag. Easy to spot on the belt in the airport 🙂

While I’m away: buy my book!! You’ll love it. I promise 🙂

ce w reviews on releasedate

Buy links: 
JMS Books | Amazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks | Google Play | B&N | Kobo | Smashwords

Five confessions

I’m terribly behind in this month’s Camp NaNoWriMo because I’ve spent most of July being sick with a sore throat, fever, and the most stubborn cough you can imagine.

I may or may not have eaten an entire pint of Ben&Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream the other day when I read and critiqued my friend’s WIP. But everyone knows ice cream is the best medicine for a sore throat, right?


I hate promoting myself. I am NOT a sales person: if I needed to take a job in sales I would starve to death and be thrown out on the street because I couldn’t sell water to a dehydrated person in the Sahara Desert if my life depended on it. Putting myself out there, saying Buy my books, they’re great! is really, really hard for me. I mean, there’s a reason I want to be a writer: I can stay indoors all day and work in my underwear and not have to meet anyone except for my husband. Introverts make sucky salespeople. And because I don’t know how to sell stuff—especially myself—I don’t have any great promo ideas. What can I do to promote my books? Got any great ideas? Except for becoming filthy rich so I can hire someone to do the promo for me?

I’m in a blogging funk and have no idea what to write about. Not just here, but in my private blog that I’ve loved and maintained for 11 years. It got to the point where my mom gave me the stink eye because I wasn’t updating it: Your poor mother has NO IDEA what’s going on in your life anymore since you don’t UPDATE YOUR BLOG. Ouch. For this blog, I’m trying to figure out some kind of schedule so I have a plan to stick to. Themes for the different days. Like on Mondays I post X, Wednesdays Y, and Fridays Z. Now I just gotta figure out what XYZ are. What do you like to read about on author blogs?

I’m in a funk in general and feel like I suck as a writer. And I’m not writing this to get pats on the back or assurances that I don’t suck, but just to be honest and since I’m apparently in the business of confessing this Sunday. Why should I write, when there are so many writers out there so much better than me? Do my stories matter to anyone but me? Would anyone even care if I didn’t write anymore? Why should I finish my current WIP, it’s not like I’m gonna know how to promote it properly anyway?

See? A terrible funk. I don’t know how to pull myself out of it. I need to figure out how to stop comparing myself to others, have some faith in myself, and remember that I write because I love it. Sounds easy enough, don’t you think? (<- irony)

Wasn’t this a happy and uplifting blog post? I’ll stop whining now, make myself a cup of coffee and do a 15-minute writing sprint on my NaNo project. I got words to write and bootstraps to pull myself up by.

Have a great Sunday.

Poor, coffee-deprived writer

This writer has cut down her coffee intake. A lot. *cue the sad, dramatic music*

All my life, I’ve had an ambivalent relationship with coffee (it’s bitter and smells much better than it tastes), and for the longest time I didn’t drink it at all. And that’s kind of a big deal for a Swede. Swedes drink a lot of coffee—we were on 6th place of the world’s biggest coffee drinkers last year (and I find it very interesting that all five of the Scandinavian countries—Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland—are in the top six!)

And not only that. We take our coffee drinking very seriously in Sweden—it’s a way of life. It’s called “fika” and there’s not really a word for it in English. If you’re interested in knowing more, here’s an article about it. It’s interesting and explains a lot 🙂

Every time you visit with someone in Sweden, they will offer you coffee. If you don’t drink it, your host becomes anxious and tries to come up with a range of other beverages to offer you instead. Sometimes they’ll even offer to run to the store and buy something for you.

It was exhausting to have to explain every time why I didn’t drink coffee. And even people close to me forgot. Like my mother-in-law, who, by the way, is from Finland. (And did you happen to notice which country was at the top of that list I linked to earlier? 😉 ) I’ve been with my husband for well over 20 years, and even after knowing me for 10+ years, she forgot that I didn’t drink it.

So one day I thought Ah, fuck it! and started drinking the stuff.


But here’s the thing. I don’t like it in the morning. I prefer to drink my coffee in the evenings. Especially when I write. So that’s what I’ve done. And for a long time, it wasn’t a problem. But lately, I’ve had a hard time falling asleep.

And, of course, I knew what the culprit was. My coffee. I did some research: I knew caffeine causes alertness, but as it turns out, it can disrupt the entire sleep cycle and circadian rhythm. If I drink coffee late this evening, it might affect my sleep for many nights to follow.

So, last week I decided to stop with my late night coffee. And since I don’t like to drink it early in the day, I’ve dramatically cut my intake.

And…I’m fine. I’ve not had any withdrawal problems and after a few days, I slept much better. The only thing is that I miss having a hot beverage to drink when I write. I solved that problem by buying rooibos tea, which does not contain caffeine.

One funny thing about coffee and fika: I’ve noticed that my Swedish fika-habits show up in my books. All my characters like to sit down with a book and a cup of coffee and fika for an hour or two. If that’s something you’ve noticed and found a little weird, well now you know why 🙂

Like in this excerpt from Find His Way Home. After spending a couple months by himself in the forest, Elliot wants human interactions and real coffee 😀 (Emma, mentioned in the quote, is the person from whom he rents the cabin)

On his way back to the car, he passed a cozy café, and the aroma of coffee wafting through the door as customers exited was strong and full. His feet carried him inside without him giving it a lot of thought, and he spent a few minutes trying figure out what he was in the mood for. After deciding on a frilly coffee drink with a big dollop of cream and lots of sugary syrup, accompanied by an enormous blueberry muffin, he found a table in a quiet corner. The second-hand armchair was as comfy as it looked, and he groaned with happiness as he sank down into it.

He swallowed a mouthful of his beverage and couldn’t help the pleased hum that escaped him. It tasted so much better than the stupid instant shit he had in the cabin. He should tell Emma they ought to buy a coffee maker for the kitchen—a French press would make a world of difference—and he’d be willing to pay extra for the luxury.

memorial day sale

My books are still on sale over at JMS Books for the remainder of the day if you still haven’t bough it. Links are listed below.

Here’s a list of today’s scheduled Release Blitz stops:
MM Good Book Reviews
Jim’s Reading Room

Buy links:
JMS Books | Amazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks | Google Play | B&N

Music of my youth

These past couple days, I’ve completely immersed myself in music. It’s been research…if one can call music one’s been listening to a million times research. But it’s for one of my current WIPs (I’ve got two going right now), the one I mentioned in my Monday update when I was trying to write lyrics.

Music will have a very prominent part in that story, and I’ve spent hours on Youtube watching videos with the music that’s important to the MCs. Music that’s also been incredibly important in my life.

And that got me thinking.

Do you remember when you were a teenager and discovered something you loved? How that thing consumed you completely, and you loved it with your entire being? A book, a movie, a boy (or girl – not discriminating)?

Or in my case: music. Music has always been an essential part of my life. And while it’s still as important to me as ever, I miss the way I listened to music when I was younger. How I fell in love with new songs or bands or artists. How I scribbled their names in my text books in school (hooligan!) and wallpapered my room with posters of my favorite bands.

How I would lie on the floor and listen to my favorite album and cry because it moved me so much. Touched me to my very core.

When did I lose that? When did I become this practical grown up, who still loves music desperately, but not like before? Sure, I still buy the records. I listen to Spotify and check out videos on Youtube. But when was the last time I laid on the floor in complete darkness and listened to my favorite record so loudly my mother would have exploded with anger if she’d been home?

It’s been decades.

Why do we become so hard to impress when we grow up? When do we lose that enthusiasm and overwhelming love for something we feel in the teenage years? Why do we lose that passion?

Let me paint you a picture: one of my favorite albums when I was a teenager was Mind Bomb by a British band called The The. (I was an alternative girl. I didn’t listen to mainstream music (there were exceptions, of course, but mostly not)). I bought it on vinyl (I’m that old!) in the local record store in the tiny town where I lived, and I listened to it again and again.

Printed on the inner sleeve of the record was the following “instruction” from the band: To obtain maximum pleasure & effect from this album, please play VERY LOUD!, VERY LATE, VERY ALONE…& with the lights turned VERY LOW!

I followed those instructions to a T. Lying on the floor with only the display on my stereo illuminating my room, I listened to the record loudly in my headphones (to avoid disturbing my parents and my brother). I immersed myself in the songs, learned the lyrics by heart, and sang along (or mouthed along, if I had to be quiet). And I felt like he was singing about me.

You were the girl I wanted to cry with
You were the girl I wanted to die with

I wanted so desperately to be that girl for someone.

Or this song, originally by The Smiths, but performed live by the singer (Morrissey) in this version. The boy I was desperately in love with when I was fifteen was also a big fan of this band. And I would lie on the floor, listen to this song, think about him, and cry because he didn’t love me back.

Last night I dreamt
That somebody loved me
No hope – but no harm
Just another false alarm

I like that I’m older and wiser now than when I was fifteen, but why did I have to become so cynical and hard to impress?

I want that innocent enthusiasm back. I want to be able to lie down on the floor and listen to my favorite album without feeling silly (or fearing I won’t get up again because I’m too old). I miss how my heart started to race when I heard the first notes of my favorite song playing on the radio.


The MCs in WIP#2 (working title Cinnamon) were best friends when they grew up, but were separated when they were fifteen, because the narrator moved away. My story starts when they meet again, sixteen years later. They have inherited that love of music from me, and Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me (the song in the second video in this post) is a part of the story.

Here’s an excerpt. Bear in mind that it’s fresh of the presses and completely unedited. And the “it” that they used to lie on the floor and listen to, was Strangeways, Here We Comethe record that song was featured on.

We’d used to lie on the floor and listen to it. Learning the lyrics by heart and singing along, happy we hadn’t been as miserable as the singer seemed to be.

“I can play it now, you know.”

I jerked at the sound of his voice, not having heard him come back upstairs.

“What?” I asked as I looked up at him where he towered over me. All the tension from before was gone, and the corners of his mouth were turned up in a fond smile.

“Your favorite song,” he said and tipped his head down at the record. “If it still is your favorite, that is.”

“Yeah, it is.”

Asher fetched an acoustic guitar from somewhere I couldn’t see—one even more beat up than the one he’d played downstairs—and sat cross-legged in front of me. He plucked the strings, and twisted the tuning pegs a little at the time until all six strings were in tune.

He went from plucking to strumming the first chords, and I smiled as I recognized them. But then he started singing, and every hair on my body stood straight up, and my mouth fell open.

His raspy voice was perfect for the sad lyrics. It was impossibly intimate to sit this close to him and listen to him as he poured his soul into the song. And when he came to my absolute favorite part and sang about how he’d felt real arms around him last night, hot tears welled up in my eyes and spilled down my cheeks, leaving burning trails in their wake.

Good morning, said the fire alarm


See that little thing there on the wall, next to the air con unit?

I’m angry with it. Very, very angry.

A while back we replaced our regular smoke detectors with a fancy new smoke alarm: Nest. Not only does it detect smoke, but it also detects carbon monoxide. It’s connected to a smart phone app, meaning we can check it even when we’re not home. We even get a monthly status overview via email.

And it gives me a heads up before it goes off. A nice female voice says Heads-up, there’s smoke in the hallway. I know this, because one day when I was cooking, I’d forgotten to turn on the kitchen fan and smoke seeped out into the apartment, and she was nice enough to warn me about it, instead of just blaring off the siren.

It’s all very high tech and we feel much safer than before.

It also performs self-checks to see that the system is up to date. At middle-of-the-night-o’clock in the morning, apparently!

Hence, the anger.

I was up really late because I was in a writing flow, and since I’ve been in a slump lately, I wanted to take advantage of it. After I decided enough was enough, it took me an hour or so to unwind, before I finally fell asleep.

Only to be woken up TWO HOURS LATER by the beeping fire alarm, who also blinked its lights as if it didn’t have a care in the world.

I had no idea what was going on, it didn’t sound like a regular THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE-warning, so I woke up my husband (who didn’t wake up because he’s deaf on one ear and if he sleeps on his hearing ear, he can pretty much sleep through anything. But don’t worry—he won’t sleep through the real thing!) and told him about the beeping.

After a few minutes’ detective work, he realized it was just the check up. Everything is fine, he said and went back to sleep like nothing had happened.

I—on the other hand—could not sleep. Waking up from the fire alarm got my heart pumping and adrenaline rushing through my body. I tossed and turned and tossed a little more, but it was no use. After a couple hours, I gave up. Instead, I got up to help a writer friend with a thing, thinking a little work would tire me out, and maybe I’d be able to go back to sleep for an hour or two at least.

After I was done, I crawled back into bed. And that was when the husband decided he wanted to cuddle and scooted really close. I mean close like I only had the tiniest strip of bed left for me to sleep on. Not that I’m complaining: I love cuddling, but all I wanted to do right then was go back to sleep, so an inch or two of space wouldn’t have hurt.

Just as I felt myself starting to drift away…my husband’s alarm went off!! It was time for him to wake up for work. And since he was still sleeping on his hearing ear—guess who had to listen to the alarm and poke him when he didn’t wake up?

You guessed it. Me!

And it wasn’t like he jumped out of bed and started his day. Oh no, he’s a snoozer (so am I, btw) so exactly nine minutes later we repeated the process.

That was when I gave up.

So, here I am. Mrs Grumpy Writer, who got exactly two hours of sleep last night. And while I’m very grateful that I clearly wake up when the fire alarm goes off, I’m going to put in a request with the husband that he reprogram the time for the self checks.

Say, like for two in the afternoon, instead of seven in the freaking morning?

And now I’m gonna take a nap on the couch. Do not disturb.