WIP

Happy Monday, everyone! Are you one of those who hates Mondays, or are you happy about a new week?

Today, I thought I’d share an excerpt from my current WIP, titled Snowed In: Nen and Anani. It’s my first ever fantasy story and it’s really fun to write. Makes me wanna write more of them, so watch out for Nell Iris, the fantasy writer 🙂

I also made a mood board, because my dear friend Addison made mood boards for her stories and inspired me to do the same. So, below are eight inspirational pictures, and a (very) short unedited excerpt from Snowed In: Nen and Anani.

I hope you enjoy, and have a great week! 🙂

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Excerpt:

Before I have time to come to a decision, the door is yanked open and he appears in the opening.

The Vasilieu.

Oh, great Spirit, still my heart!

He is magnificent!

He is willowy tall and has grown so much these last fifteen rotations, reaching me to my nose, standing over a head taller than any other member of his family. He’s dressed like a commoner in a tunic and pants, even plainer than my own—where’s his kaftan? The clothes hug his body and reveal every long sinewy muscle in his legs and arms.

Hair as white as newly fallen snow is parted in the middle and hang straight to his waist. His nose, slightly upturned, gives him a mischievous look. His pale lips, imperceptibly darker than his skin color, are soft but set in a severe line.

But it’s his eyes that draw my attention. Pale blue eyes staring at me as if he can’t believe what he’s seeing. After a few heartbeats, they widen, and he lets out a gasp.

A wave of emotions hits me square in the chest. What was muted just moments before grows into an avalanche. Overwhelms me. I physically feel them, as if he pushes a blunt-tipped lance into my breast.

I stagger a few steps backward and sink to my knees without hesitation. I don’t avert my gaze. “Vasilieu.”

He narrows his eyes. “Do not call me that. You know my name. Use it.”

The barrage of his emotions intensifies, making it hard to breathe but easy for me to identify them. Disbelief. Denial. Suspicion. Uncertainty.

…happiness?

Most intense of all is happiness.

“Anani,” I whisper.

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Update

I thought it was time for a little update on my writing, to let you know what’s going on. If you think I’ve been absent more than usual than lately, you’re correct. I’ve withdrawn a little from Social Media both in my private life and in my author life, and I believe I’m going to continue to do so. I’ve felt iffy about SM for a long time; I don’t like the targeted ads and the algorithm that decides for me what I want to see or not. Drives me crazy. And I recently watched a TED-talk that didn’t help matters. I seriously recommend you to watch it, though, it’s great. Or not so great, depending on who you are.

Here’s the link to the TED talk if you’re interested. 23 minutes that scared the shit out of me 🙂 We’re building a dystopia just to make people click on ads by Zeynep Tufekci

I still hang out on Twitter, though, which is a little ironic since I didn’t even want a Twitter account to begin with, but now it’s my favorite SM outlet. So if you want my attention, feel free to poke me on Twitter where I’m likely to see you.

Here’s the link to my Twitter account if you’re not yet following me but want to.

I’ve also decided to not post as many release blitzes on my blog. I won’t quit entirely; I’ll still post the ones I’ve already signed up for, and in the future I’ll sign up for authors I really want to support. Instead, I’m thinking of finding some blog challenge I can post regularly, to make my blog more personal. What do you think?

That was a lot of info, so let’s get on with the updates, shall we? 🙂


Yesterday this happened:

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I finished a short story I’ve been working on named Us Again. And by finished I mean that I wrote the beautiful words you can see in the image above, but I still have to transcribe and edit and send it to betas and write a blurb and… you know.

It’s a short second chance M/M romance about Alex and Sammy, and more information will follow when I have it.


Regarding the collab project I have going with Kris T. Bethke, it’s my turn to write chapter twelve, but I’ve been preoccupied with Alex and Sammy, so I’ve kept her waiting. (Sorry!!) We only have three more chapters to go, and this morning we agreed on a title for the book, and also for the entire series. Feels great!

And it’s scary how our brains work: we LITERALLY suggested the same title at the same time (not kidding!!). We ended up not using that particular one because of reasons, but it’s like our brains operate on the same wavelength. It’s both scary and awesome at once.


I’m also working on a fantasy story. It’s my first fantasy and I love writing it, but I have to admit it’s a little daunting. This whole making-up-an-entire-world business is hard and scary and requires attention to detail in a way I don’t really need when I write the real world. I don’t have to explain what a phone is, because everyone knows it. But if I make stuff up and have to explain it, how do I best do it without creating a giant info-dump that will make my readers roll their eyes hard or put them to sleep?

We’ll just have to see if I succeed, right? Wish me luck! 🙂


I have a release date for my next book Nobody Else’s: June 30. It’s not yet available for pre-order and I don’t have a cover…but I have a blurb if you’re interested 🙂 I’ll keep you posted, of course!

Mars enters Pisces, giving Beckett Cooper the opportunity to assert himself when it comes to a secret infatuation; his best friend’s younger brother Levi. But can Beckett trust what’s in front of him and be brave enough to take what he wants?

With Venus in Virgo, people usually become more reserved, but Levi Byrne always takes the opposite road of what’s expected of him. So, instead of pulling back, he reaches out for a man he’s been interested in for years; Beckett Cooper.

Is it the celestial bodies aligning to bring together two people destined for each other? Or is it a simple tale of boy meets boy, boy likes boy, and boy wants to kiss boy? Do Beckett and Levi even care, or are they too busy getting to know each other…and falling in love?


Finally, I’m happy to say that Angel and Firebird has received a lot of love from readers and reviewers and it warms my heart. Like for example this review from Love Bytes, or this one from Rainbow Book Reviews, or this one from Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. Or this fabulous review in French from a Goodreads reviewer. Reviews in French sound so fancy, don’t you think?

I mean:

Les frontières entre la réalité et le surnaturel sont parfaitement bien esquissées et j’ai été captivée dès les premiers mots par cet amour si profond qui unit Gabriel et Phoenix. Une histoire poétique, bouleversante et magnifique ❤️”

Excuse me while I swoon. Or je me pâme, as they say en français 🙂

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Excerpt from WIP

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Hi everyone, happy Friday to you all. This week, I’ve had my nose buried in my current WIP, because I have a deadline looming not far on the horizon (next week – gaaah!). This means I haven’t had time to write Alan and Jon. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I know they’re popular, but to compensate I have a really fun thing planned for them next week. So tune in next Friday when Alan will make a little cameo somewhere else…other than here. 😉

But to not deprive you of my excellent writing (heh!), I thought I’d post the beginning of my WIP. It still hasn’t got a name. I got stuck on something that doesn’t really work (it’s on the clunky side) so I have to unstick my mind and solve the name problem this weekend.

Anyway, this excerpt is told from Beckett’s POV and it’s unedited. I hope you enjoy.

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Chapter 1 – Beckett

“Hi Becks. What’s so funny?”

I looked up from my phone and was met by my best friend’s smiling face. “Matt. You’re late.” I gave him a mock frown to remind him about my opinion on people not being on time, but my smile lingered and made it difficult.

“I know. Sorry. But I had to rescue him—” Matt pointed his thumb over his shoulder, “from the Hell Sisters and it took a while.”

I peeked over his shoulder to see who he was referring to just as the ‘he’ in question lightly punched Matt’s upper arm with a scowl.

“Sorry, sorry,” Matt said and threw himself down on the chair across from me. To me he said, “I’m not allowed to call them Hell Sisters even though they’d make Lucifer seem well behaved.”

Matt’s company joined us at the table and I swallowed. Hard.

Levi Byrne. Matt’s little brother. Or one of them at least; the Byrne family consisted of eleven kids, Matt being the eldest.

And Levi…Levi was three years younger than us and the spitting image of his brother. Except that Levi was cute. Very cute. His nose was maybe a little too long for his face and his hairline showed signs of receding at the tender age of twenty-three. But none of that mattered. When I looked into his eyes, every blemish disappeared and all I could see was kindness. He had the gentlest eyes I’d ever seen, in a deep caramel brown as if the caramel was made from dark muscovado sugar. Sometimes I thought I could detect a twinkle of mischief in them, but it could be my imagination. Levi was the quiet sibling. When all the other Byrne-kids spoke louder to make their voices heard in a sea of children, Levi did the complete opposite. He grew silent.

I’d had a crush on him for years, but he was Matt’s little brother, and besides…what would he see in someone like me?

I pulled in my stomach and sat a little straighter. Not that it helped. My belly couldn’t be hidden.

“Becks! Where’d you go?”

“Huh?” I blinked and turned my attention to Matt. “Sorry.”

“Whatever. You gonna tell me what was so funny just now?”

We were interrupted by the waitress before I had time to answer. For a second, I considered ordering something healthy, like one of those fancy avocado sourdough sandwiches that were so popular. But Matt would have a million questions if I did, and I’d always been a terrible liar and would never be able to fool him. So, I ordered my usual: a stack of pancakes with half a pig’s worth of bacon on the side, and their biggest mug of hot chocolate to top it off.

After taking our orders, the waitress brought us our drinks and Matt asked again what I’d been laughing about when they arrived.

“What’s your sign?” I asked.

Matt gulped down some of his coffee, grimaced, and started fanning his mouth. Levi smiled at me and shook his head. Matt never learned.

“Your birthday is in July. So, you’re…what? Cancer?” I asked when he’d calmed down.

“Oh! Yeah, I guess.”

I woke up the screen on my phone, cleared my throat and started reading out loud. “Until the end of the year, Jupiter continues to bring fullness to your life in the areas of creativity and romance, and this influence is extra strong tonight. So maybe take what your boyfriend offers this evening and leave the extra-large dildo in the drawer for once. You’ll be stuffed enough tonight without it.”

Matt’s eyes grew wider and wider as I read, and when I finished, he was staring at me as if I had emerged from the depths of Hell. “Dude! What the eff?” he choked out.

I glanced at Levi. His face flamed bright red and he bit his lip, looking everywhere except me or Matt.

“What the heck are you reading?” Matt asked and rubbed his ears as if he was trying to erase what he just had heard.

I held up my phone so he could see.

QX – your guide to all things LGBTQ+

Matt squinted, and then turned to Levi. “You programmed that site, didn’t you?”

Levi nodded. He was a computer wizard and had started programming almost before he could read and write. He’d designed his first webpage professionally in his freshman year in high school and if his parents hadn’t been adamant he had to graduate, he would have dropped out and started his business before his junior year.

“Why are you reading…that?” Matt hissed out the last word.

The waitress took this moment to arrive with our food. As she placed pancakes and bacon in front of all of us, I stared at him. “What do you mean?” I asked.

“It’s a site for gay people.”

I crossed my arms over my chest. “It’s for everyone within the LGBTQ+ spectrum,” I said, unable to keep an annoyed edge from my voice.

“Yeah, yeah.” Matt stuffed his face full of pancakes. “But you’re not…that.”

That? I rolled my eyes. Matt could be such an idiot sometimes. “No, but I am bi.”

“But I thought…” He shoved a piece of bacon into his mouth, luckily stopping himself from saying anything even more stupid.

“You thought that because my last partner was a girl, I’m straight. Is that about it?” I was so fucking tired of this topic. If it wasn’t Matt, it was someone else. Like Mom.

“Yeah,” Matt muttered with his gaze downcast. His reply earned him a sharp elbow in the side from Levi. “Hey, don’t you start, too,” he said to his brother.

“Get off your brother’s case, Matt. Don’t be an ass.”

He looked at me as if to say ‘what’?

“We’ve had this conversation a million times. Don’t be a bigot. Your own brother is gay, for fuck’s sake. And when your mom found out, what did she do?”

“Switched churches.” Matt’s reply was barely audible.

“That’s right. Your very religious parents accepted Levi’s identity and moved heaven and earth to make him comfortable. But you…” I threw my hands up in the air. “Stop. Just stop, okay?”

Matt rubbed his ears again. “Yeah, okay. Sorry.” He nudged his shoulder against his brother’s. Levi nudged back and then gave me a wide, grateful smile, making the tip of his nose turn down slightly. Swoon.

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Beckett is my first bisexual character, but he won’t be the last. March is Bisexual Health Awareness Month, and I’m sad that bi erasure is still a thing in 2018. We, the B, is right there in the acronym. Click the image to learn how to be an ally.

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#RainbowSnippets

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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 🙂

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 🙂

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.

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.