Nell Iris


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#RainbowSnippets

rainbow-snippets

Weekends means Rainbow Snippets-time here on the blog, since I’ve joined the Rainbow Snippets group on Facebook. According to their description, “it’s a group for LGBTQ+ authors, readers, and bloggers to gather once a week to share six sentences from a work of fiction—a WIP or a finished work of even 6-sentence book recommendation (no spoilers please!).”

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I’ve been absent from the RainbowSnippets group for a while again. First, I was busy with the release of Cinnamon Eyes, then I went to Sweden for several weeks to visit family and friends and attend a wedding. When I got back, I battled jet lag, wrote and submitted a short story, and went to Bali for a long weekend. But now I’m back! Have you missed me? 😁

This week I’m snippeting from a brand new project; so new it hasn’t got a name yet. It’s not a sequel to Cinnamon Eyes, but it’s set in the same universe. Benji—lovingly referred to in Cinnamon Eyes as The Twinktender—is the bartender at Asher’s bar The Broken Brick Bar. I liked him, so I thought he was worth his own story. We’ll see where it takes me. 😁

These are the very first six sentences of the story.

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Benji noticed him as soon as he walked through the door to The Broken Brick Bar. Maybe it was the way he looked; like someone had reached back in time into the nineties’ Seattle grunge scene, plucked him from his natural habitat, and disposed of him in the present. Everything from the shoulder-length wavy hair and goatee to the blue flannel shirt, ripped jeans, and black Converse shoes screamed grunge in capital letters and an exclamation point.

The guy was so not Benji’s type. He wrinkled his nose, but kept watching him. There was something about him that made it impossible to look away.

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You can find me on FacebookTwitter, or Goodreads. Feel free to stop by and say Hi! I love new friends!

I’ve also gotten a Facebook profile for my pen name, so if you feel like it, I would love to be your friend 🙂

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And now we wait…

Yesterday, I finally finished all necessary things for the Christmas story, so I finally could submit it to the submission call. And this morning I woke up to an email confirmation that they’d received my submission. Iiiiiih.

The deadline isn’t until July 1, so I have to wait to hear from them. Ugh, I suck at waiting. I’m too impatient and I want to know immediately. I guess I could consider this a training exercise. How to get better at waiting. Yeah, right. *snort*

Keep your fingers crossed for Casey and Ellis!

And while we wait…and wait…and wait, I thought I’d share a couple pictures I used as inspiration:

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I imagine their tree like this. With sad, drooping branches, and needles falling off. But instead of the red ornaments, Casey and Ellis made popcorn strings and added red food dye to make the popcorn more festive.

Can you see it? That sad looking tree criss-crossed with red popcorn strings? I can 🙂


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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.


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Edits, edits, and more edits

Happy Monday everyone. I hope you had a interesting and productive week last week. I did. It didn’t contain much writing (about 3K words maybe) but I did lots and lots of editing.

As I’ve already told you I edited my upcoming book Find His Way Home. After two rounds, my fabulous editor was happy (and if she’s happy, I’m happy).

I thought that while I was in editing mode I might as well continue. So I rolled up my sleeves and dug my teeth into Red Popcorn Strings and Gumball Rings. 

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I dusted off the Christmas playlist in Spotify, warned my husband about the upcoming holiday spirit (who put on his big over-ear headphones like the Grinch, because that wasn’t what he felt like), and listened to a few select songs.

It worked like a charm. Except for when I listened to Last Christmas and started crying because I still haven’t gotten over the loss of my beloved George Michael. Other than that—perfect.

After five songs or so I was filled with holiday cheer and finished the edits super quickly. Now it’s with one of my most trusted betas and I await her comments eagerly.

This week I’ve gotta get some writing done, though. I have all the grand plans for the upcoming months, and books don’t write themselves.

Also: make sure you stop by on Wednesday when I will post something really important about how you can help in a very worthy cause. Click the image below if you don’t want to wait until Wednesday!

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Have a great week, friends.


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Planning?

The other day I wrote a formal schedule for my writing. I have all these projects and ideas floating around in my head, but I haven’t written them down properly, so I decided to do it. To see if it was doable.

And then I kind of croaked. All my ideas and projects that felt so manageable in my head, was overwhelming on paper. It looks like a lot:

P1060400Ambitious. At least for someone whose approach to this writing thing so far has been I want to have fun. 

But if I break it down, it isn’t so much. The Christmas story (that’s now officially named Red Popcorn Strings and Gumball Rings) is written and at about 12K words, so editing won’t take too long.

I don’t have official deadlines for Never Before Him and The Locked Room, even though I really wanna finish NBH asap.

The JMS Submission call I mention is this one, Colors of the Rainbow. It’s the second time that JMS posts a sub call that fits an idea I already had. It’s like she looks into my brain to check out my ideas and before posting submission calls. Do I need a tin foil hat? 🙂 So I feel like I have to write my idea and submit it. It’s going to be about a boy with cinnamon eyes, so I’m calling it Cinnamon for now.

Then there’s finishing everything in June (deadline RPSAGR July 1st and Cinnamon June 30th), before participating in Camp NaNoWriMo again in July. And I’ve already got a story started for that one (Don’t Forget to Breathe). I abandoned it some time back (I tried plotting a story and it went straight to hell—I’m a pantser), but I want to get back to the boys, so I’m gonna rewrite the words I already got and try to finish it.

Sounds reasonable, right? I can do it, right?

It’s just…I don’t usually do long time planning like this, so it feels big and scary. And real.

How do you plan your projects? And how far in advance? Let me know in the comments. And let me know what you think about my plan. Is it doable? Have I lost my mind? Do I need my head examined? 🙂


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Writing update

First of all: sorry for the radio silence last week. I’ve been a bad, bad blogger, I know. But I’ve been an amazing writer, and something had to take a back seat in my schedule for me to have time for everything. I have to come up with something for the blog though, I don’t like it when it’s empty and boring. 

Any suggestions?

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Anyway. Like I said: last week was busy. I beta read a novel for an author friend of mine and that took a lot of time, but it was also a lot of fun. I love beta reading and commenting, and discussing my own or the other person’s work. The exchange of ideas is really great and helpful for me as a writer.

Besides beta reading, I wrote a lot. Look here:

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Except for Wednesday when I had a lazy day, I’ve written every day this week, and managed a total of 9498 words. That’s almost half of my goal (20K) in just one week, and way over the weekly tally I needed to achieve to be on track.

Do I dare to believe I will win Camp NaNoWriMo this year? 🙂

I finished my Xmas story on Saturday—that’s why there’s two numbers that day. The green ink is the numbers for the Xmas story and the red ink is for project number two Never Before Him. (At least one of my NaNo projects has a name!)

So I’m gonna give myself a big old pat on the back for being so productive last week. 🙂

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A reminder: this week the article I wrote for Divine Magazine will be published. On Wednesday, April 12th, you will be able to read Chekhov’s gun, or tying up loose ends. I will, of course, post the link when it’s live, so it’ll be easy for you to find.

Iiiih, I’m excited.

Unconditionally-by-Nell-Iris


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Monday writing update

Mondays mean I write about what I did the previous week:

The Locked Room
I rewrote and edited three chapters. It’s going really well, and I’m continuing this week. I like the new version better. It’s tighter and better when it’s not in present tense. Feels like a good decision.

WIP
I didn’t write anything on my current WIP last week. I came up with a title though: Never Before Him. I need to name MC2 before I can write more, and I thought I had a name. Then my husband threw a monkey-wrench in my plan and suggested another one. So now I can’t decide between the two.

What do you think? This guy, does he look like a Sage or a Jerome? Let me know in comments 🙂

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Find His Way Home
I finished my edits, wrote a blurb, and a detailed summary and submitted it to my publisher on Monday. And they said yes! So in May, my second short story will be published, how cool is that?

If you’re curious about how the blurb turned out, go to the Coming Soon tab and read it!

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I updated the blog, too, with a new section, as you can see in the image above. 

Unconditionally
I celebrated my first ever release on Saturday, and I cried a little (happy tears) when I read my first ever review (four fabulous stars!)

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But I can’t rest on my laurels, so I’d better go to work now. There’s words to be written and edited! 🙂