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Read Around the Rainbow: How to Romance a Romance Writer

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 first RAtR topic for 2023 is how to romance a romance writer.

I was the one who came up with this topic; I thought it was fitting because we’re about to enter the month of love (aka February), and also because I’m curious about what other romance writers find romantic. The response I got to my topic suggestion was interesting, because more than one of my fellow RatR writers said that they’re not romantic at all, so they weren’t even sure they’d be able to write something on the topic (I’m not naming names, but you might be able to figure it out when you read the other people’s posts 😁).

I found it intriguing and puzzling that someone can write a romance story, but not consider themselves romantic. That got me thinking. Maybe it depends on how we define the word romance? Or what we perceive as romantic?

So I spent a long time thinking about what I find romantic, and I came to the conclusion that it’s about paying attention. My husband and I have been together for decades; he knows me really well by now, and he’s great at paying attention to my likes and dislikes, so when he does something thoughtful for me, I often feel romanced off my feet. I’m not talking about roses and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates on Valentine’s day, or grand gestures like proposing in front of a crowd. No, I’m someone who’s romanced by the little things.

Like him listening to me grumbling about the uselessness of my tea strainer and watching me spit out tiny pieces of leaves that the stupid thing allowed to float out into my tea, and deciding to do something about it. So he searched the internet until he found the best tea strainer in the history of tea strainers that doesn’t let the tiniest particle escape into my mug. I was ready to swoon after I tried it the first time.

It’s things like him bringing me a glass of sparkling water every night when we go to bed, or paying attention to my work load when I work in the home office, and if he notices my stress levels rising, he’ll come into my office and cheer me up with a kiss or some kind of pastry for an impromptu fika break (because every Swede feels better after fika!). It’s him gifting me his fancy, expensive noise cancellation headphones so I don’t have to listen to the chatter on the train on the days I’m working at the office. Or finding a second-hand copy of an out-of-print vinyl record by one of my favorite artists that I’ve been wanting for ages, and buying it for me.

He pays attention. He makes me feel seen and appreciated and cared for. And to me, that’s the most romantic thing in the world.

And isn’t that something we all want? Isn’t that why the characters in second-chances romance stories remember each other’s coffee orders when they meet again after not having seen each other for ten years? Because we, as authors, want to make the readers swoon when the characters pay attention to each other, when they see each other and remember the little things.

Anyone can buy me a bunch of roses on Valentine’s Day, but only someone who knows me really well would buy me the world’s greatest tea strainer.

The super fantastic, non-leaking tea strainer

Don’t forget to check out my fellow RatR authors to see how to best romance them.

Ellie Thomas :: A.L. Lester :: Holly Day :: K.L. Noone :: Fiona Glass :: Addison Albright :: Ofelia Gränd

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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

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Read Around the Rainbow: Writing Advice I Take With a Grain of Salt

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 November is Writing advice that I take with a grain of salt.

Don’t get me started. LOL.

First when I decided to try to write a story and publish it, I devoured all the writing advice I could find, but even as a complete newbie some of the advice irked me. For example; these days I’m a morning person, but for the longest time of my life, I was a night owl. I always had a hard time getting started in the morning at the day job, I never really got into my groove until after lunch, and I was always my most creative in the evenings, or even at night. So when I first started writing, I was writing late at night, until 2 or 3 am. So “always write in the mornings” didn’t sit well with me because my brain wasn’t working that way. Yes, these days I write in the mornings, but I became a morning person first…because of age. (I’m fifty now, and being awake all night long is for young people…she said and went to bed at 9pm 😆) So while my preferred writing time nowadays is before the rooster wakes up o’clock, it’s because I started waking up at that hour and had nothing else to do.

So the truth is that I take all writing advice with a grain (or a scoop) of salt, because all writers are different people, in different places in their lives. Also, something that works for you for a while, might change later (see my morning person story above), so there’s no universal writing truth that works for everyone.

Not even Thou Shalt Always Outline. (No thank you, if I outline, my brain thinks the story is done and refuses to work with it anymore).

But my biggest writing advice pet peeve is neither always write in the mornings nor if you don’t plot, your story will suck for the rest of time!

No, it’s write first, edit later.

It’s one of the cornerstones of NaNoWriMo, well-meaning people of the internet tells us not to, and John Steinbeck told us not to as you can see in the quote above, that must mean it’s true?

No.

I’m a discovery writer, a pantser, someone who doesn’t plot before I write. I start with a vague idea and let the characters lead the way. That means sometimes things change during the writing process, that a character goes off in a different direction than I first thought it would, that I get an epiphany “oh, I should do this, so that can happen.” Basically, if something I wrote doesn’t correspond to something that happened earlier in the manuscript, I don’t make a note to go back and change it later, I go back and change it right away. I also go through my manuscript to make everything is in line with this new development.

John Steinbeck must be so disappointed in me.

Maybe that approach doesn’t work for someone who writes 500-page novels because it would take forever to go through that kind of story every time something changes, but it works for me. And that’s the whole idea of my blog post. Do what feels right and ignore what doesn’t work for you.

There’s one exception, there’s one piece of writing advice I think is universally important and true: if you want to write, you need to read. And I’m not budging on that one 😁


Don’t forget to check out my fellow RatR authors to see what their writing advice pet peeves are. I can’t wait to find out!

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

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Read Around the Rainbow: Favorite Halloween/Creepy Story

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 October is What is your favorite Halloween-themed or creepy /spooky story?


I wasn’t going to write a post for this topic, because to me, Halloween is meh. I’m Swedish, we generally don’t do Halloween, and I’m not someone who loves spooky or creepy. I read horror when I was younger. Horror, grisly murders, vampires, you name it, I read it. But I’ve always been easily spooked, and it gets worse the older I get. I’ve seen the movie Alien many, many times, but the first face-hugger encounter (link if you don’t know what I’m talking about) still scares the shit out of me even though I know exactly what’s going to happen. And since I don’t enjoy being spooked or scared, I’ve gravitated away from those kinds of stories, and can’t really say I have a favorite creepy/spooky story.

So I was going to skip this topic and leave the spook to my fellow RatR authors (I especially expect Amy to excel at this topic), but this morning I got a picture that inspired this post. The most adorable picture of my beloved grandbaby dressed as a crocodile (or as she puts it: “crocobile”) for a Halloween party at pre-school today. So I thought Maybe I can do cute Halloween? I thought Maybe I’m not the only one easily spooked?

So. Welcome to Nell’s non-spooky, fluffy Halloween Read Around the Rainbow post. Let’s start with the crocobile that inspired it all, shall we? 😍

The next question is: are there any books worthy enough to be in the presence of such cuteness? The criteria is that it has to be cute and Halloween adjacent, so any kind of supernatural being.

And I’ve read two stories that fit the bill.

Until Forever Comes :: The Ghost on My Couch

I’ve read and loved a lot of Cardeno C. books, and Until Forever Comes is perfect for Cute Halloween. It’s a story about a wolf shifter (counts as werewolf, right?) who can’t shift, who meets and is instantly attracted to a vampire. Vampires and wolf shifters don’t get along and they shouldn’t like each other, but they do. The vampire is old and the leader and is actually quite scary, but not when it comes to the wolf shifter; in his presence, the vampire transforms into a gooey cinnamon roll, and it’s instant attraction and mates and what else do you need for Cute Halloween? 🙂

The Ghost on My Couch is a ghost story…Or, well. There’s a ghost in the story, but it’s not a ghost story, there’s a significant difference between the two. The story is about nurse Alex who one day comes home to a ghost on his couch. A ghost wearing PJs and bunny slippers. Do I really need to tell you anything else about this book? A ghost! In bunny slippers! The cuteness factor is maybe not crocobile high, but pretty darned close, wouldn’t you agree? 😁 But if you need more convincing, there’s also a three-legged cat with only one ear and no tail. Oh, and the ghost hides in the fridge whenever he’s overwhelmed.

And that’s it. Two books for Cute Halloween. Read them with a steaming cup of tea, or maybe a syringe of Bloody Mary if you’re feeling extra Halloween-y? 👻


Don’t forget to check out my fellow RatR authors who have all probably been much more faithful to the Halloween/spookiness that I’ve been. Like I said before, my money’s on Amy, but I’m sure they’ll all have some interesting recommendations.

K.L. Noone :: Amy Spector :: Ellie Thomas :: A.L. Lester :: Holly Day

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Read Around the Rainbow: Favorite Autumn-Colored M/M Romance Books

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 August is What are your favorite autumn-colored (yellow, orange, and red) M/M romances?


I’m partly to blame for this topic. “I want a fall theme on the next RatR post,” I exclaimed in our little group when it was time to pick a new topic, because autumn is my absolute favorite season. For the longest time it’s been spring, and don’t get me wrong, I still love it. The rebirth after a long, dark winter, the return of the light, all the beautiful spring flowers, just the thought of it makes me long for it.

But since a couple years back, fall has inched ahead of spring as my favorite season, and to be perfectly honest, I’ve been eagerly expecting it since the end of July. I absolutely adore the colors and I love the fresh, crispy air. I declare soup season opened on September 1st, refill my tea stash, and take every opportunity to wear my thick sweaters and woolly socks. And not to forget; reading in front of the fire.

But back to this month’s topic. My fellow webring authors humored me, and we decided on our favorite MM romances with yellow-orange-red covers. So here’s my contribution.


Jesse’s Diner :: The Terms of Release :: Watermelon Kisses

I’ve read Jesse’s Diner a gazillion times, it’s on my Goodreads Feelgood Re-Reads shelf (I blogged about it here) and you can probably tell that I love it a lot. I agree that it can be discussed whether the cover is actually yellow or not, but let’s call it a pale yellow and leave it at that, right? 😁

BA Tortuga is my go-to author when I’m in a cowboy mood, and The Terms of Release is one of my favorites written by her. It’s has a mild star-crossed lovers feel to it, but without a tragic Romeo-and-Juliet-esque ending, and both the characters are fantastic. I realize I haven’t written about it here on the blog before, probably because I read it back in 2014 when it was just released, long before I started this blog.

Watermelon Kisses was my first Freddy MacKay book. I read it for my 2018 Advent Calendar thing on the blog (check out the post here) and fell head-over-heels in love with it. It’s a beautiful story and everyone should read it, and I especially recommend it if you want a different read for the holiday season; the MCs aren’t white and the holiday isn’t Christmas. Also, the same cover image has been used more recently (Tic-Tac Mistletoe by N.R. Walker), but if you only want to read one book with that photo, I suggest you pick this one. That’s saying something, considering I’m a N.R. Walker fan 🙂

I’ll post a Watermelon Kisses quote, and then I’ll stop fangirling. Promise.

Esmail kissed Amir’s forehead and sighed. They leaned against each other, beard against beard, heart against heart.


That was my three autumn-colored books, so this is where I say goodbye, right? Nope, because I live to break the rules, so I decided that I wanted to do a second one, a yellow-orange-red recommendation of favorite books written by fellow RatR authors. And no, I’m not picking favorites among the bunch; they’re all lovely people and super talented writers. It’s just…not everyone has suitable color-coded covers that go with the theme, or at least ones that I’ve read 😁

The Twelfth Enchantment :: A Christmas Cotillion :: Out of Focus

You know by now that I’m a huge K.L. Noone fan, and The Twelfth Enchantment just solidified her position on my list of favorite authors. She’s the equivalent of one of those singers that can sing the phone book and make it great; I’m sure that even if K.L. Noone wrote a steampunk book with a cliffhanger, drug abuse, misunderstandings, and shower sex, with a guy smoking on the cover (all things I hate!) I’d still love it. 😁

A Christmas Cotillion was my first Ellie Thomas book, but definitely not my last. She writes short historical stories and I’ve loved all the ones I’ve read.

I’ve recommended Out of Focus by A.L. Lester before here on the blog (you can find it here) and as for the reason why you should read it if you haven’t already, I’ll just quote myself: “Britishness, Welsh Theatre, a quiet romance, and regular guys. Oh, and I almost forgot: tea!”


One more thing before I post the links to my fellow author so you can go check out their autumn-colored book recs:

Autumn-colored books written by me!

Late Night Poetry :: Resolutions for an Arbitrary Holiday :: So Far Away

LNP is perfect if you’re in the mood for a second-chances romance sprinkled with old poems read on an answering machine, RfaAH is a meet-cute that features a knight-in-a-shining-armor character, a sprained ankle, an old stone ship, and stupid New Year’s resolutions. SFA is about an established couple, separated by a pandemic (a made-up one, not covid).


And now, I’m done. But don’t forget to check out the other posts on the topic. I can’t wait to see the my fellow authors’ fall-colored covers

Ofelia Gränd :: Amy Spector :: Addison Albright :: Ellie Thomas :: Lillian Francis :: A.L. Lester :: Holly Day