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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

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Read Around the Rainbow: Top 3 Non-Romance Reads

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 top three non-romance reads?”


First of all, I want to let you know I’m going to break the rules and pick five favorite non-romance reads. Because that’s the kind of person I am, a rule breaker. Also because picking only three favorite books is impossible. Even five was difficult; I almost made it six 🙂

We’ve picked non-romance so you’ll get to know us a little better, learn who we are more than romance readers and writers. Because all of us in this webring are book lovers…which I believe is a requirement for authors, wouldn’t you agree? 🙂

But without further ado, here are my top five picks (in no particular order, all of them are number ones!)

Ronja Rövardotter (Ronia the Robber’s Daughter) by Astrid Lindgren

On the night Ronia was born, a thunderstorm raged over the mountain, but in Matt’s castle and among his band of robbers there was only joy — for Matt now had a spirited little black-haired daughter. Soon Ronia learns to dance and yell with the robbers, but it is alone in the forest that she feels truly at home.

Then one day Ronia meets Birk, the son of Matt’s arch-enemy. Soon after Ronia and Birk become friends the worst quarrel ever between the rivals bands erupts, and Ronia and Birk are right in the middle.

As a Swedish person, I’ve grown up on a steady diet of Astrid Lindgren, the author of Pippi Longstocking, who’s probably our most famous author. I’ve read most of her books, and while I love Pippi, I love Ronja more. This book was released when I was nine and can’t even guess how many times I’ve read it. I’ve read it as an adult, too, and I still love it.

Ronja is a fierce heroine. She befriends Birk, the son of her father’s arch enemy, she knows right from wrong and isn’t afraid to speak up when she learns that her father actually steals stuff for a living, and she doesn’t hesitate to stand up to him when push comes to shove. She stands up for what’s right, she sides with Birk when her father forces her hand, and she doesn’t give up. He’s the one who crumbles first, he’s the one who comes to her and asks her forgiveness, not the 12-ish year old girl.

If that isn’t the best kind of role model any young girl can have, I don’t know what is. And that’s why I’ll read this book to my darling grandbaby when she gets a little older.


Dracula by Bram Stoker

Just like Ronja Rövardotter, I’ve read Dracula so many times I’ve lost count. It was my favorite novel as a teenager, and it was the book that made awakened my love of epistolary novels. I don’t really know what it is about epistolary novels that fascinates me so much, but I absolutely adore a story told through letters and newspaper clips like this one. Or emails, DMs, text messages, and everything other modern day equivalent to the classic letter you can think of.

But Dracula is also responsible for awakening my love of horror stories and making me a fierce defender of the vampire as the best supernatural being ever (yes, me and the hubby has had long conversations which is best: vampires or zombies), and it’s the reason I devoured every vampire book in existence for years and years. These days, I don’t read a lot of paranormal books, but I’ll gladly make an exception for a good vampire story. But I’ve honestly never found a better one than Dracula.


The Poems of Catullus

Odi et amo. quare id faciam fortasse requiris.
Nescio, sed fieri sentio, et excrucior.

I studied Latin in high-school. It was one of my favorite subjects, taught by one of my favorite teachers ever. She loved Latin and old Roman history with a passion I envied as a teenager. She loved it so much that she made me love it, too. As someone who already read poetry at this age, I fell head over heels in love with classical Roman poetry. Especially Catullus.

The short poem above is my favorite and I can recite it in Latin. It’s about the woman he called Lesbia in his poems, who really was a married woman named Clodia, and the poems about her display a range of emotions from tender to sad to sarcastic as their relationship starts out happily then fizzles out and they fall out of love.

His poems are great. In fact, I think I’ll go find my copy and re-read them right now. Because what better way is there to spend a lazy Saturday (the day I’m writing this post) than with a good poetry book?


A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

Tell me you love Shakespeare without telling me you love Shakespeare.

My daughter’s name is Ofelia. 😁

That being said, I prefer the comedies over the tragedies, so Hamlet is not my favorite Shakespeare play. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is.

It’s probably because I was in an amateur acting group in my late teens/early twenties, and I played the part of Titania when we played AMND. And my now husband, then crush, played Nick Bottom who Titania falls in love with (albeit under the influence of a love potion, but still). That meant I didn’t have to try to play it cool and pretend I wasn’t desperately in love with him; I could live out my feelings. Very practical. 😁

Acting was so much fun and for a while, I dreamed of a career as an actor. Not for movies or television, but for the stage. Me and some of the other actors lived and breathed theatre and plays (and movie adaptations of Shakespeare plays; I’m looking at you, Much Ado About Nothing!) for years, but then life happened and my acting dreams fizzled out.

But my love for Shakespeare didn’t.


Aednan by Linnea Axelsson

Aednan is the newest book on my list (it was published in 2018). It’s a Swedish novel-in-verse that tells the story of two indigenous Sámi families. The nomadic Sámi traditionally make a living by herding reindeer over vast distances, across country borders. They live up north, in the northern parts of Sweden, Norway, Finland, and even in Russia. As many other indigenous people, the Sámi has been abused, violated, experienced racism (still do to this day), and has been forced to change their way of life.

The people in this book get to experience all that and more. They’re humiliated, deprived of their identities, ridiculed. Aednan is 760 pages long, but never has such a long book with so few words on every page made me feel so much. I ached when I read it, both because of what they are forced to endure, but also because it’s stunningly beautiful.

This is one of the best books I’ve ever read and I wish I could tell you all to go read it, but it’s not translated to English, except for a few short verses I’ve found that I’ll post below.

The Swede’s fingers
all inside my mouth

clothing strewn
across the floor

Me thinking
it was because of my
bad teeth

that the traveling doctor had come

With hard tools
he measured me

learned men
in every nook

With razor-sharp
scratching pens

they went
through me

I could tell that the
short one
was taking shape
on their papers

Using royal ink
to draw
the racial animal

The shackles
of our obedience

unfastened
my home-sewn belt

My breasts hung
their distaste blazed

I saw how they
wrinkled their
slender noses

laughing
all the while

My friend beside me
was quick to help me
on with my kolt

Then she quietly translated
their questions
about what we did
when menstruating

Over the doctor’s shoulder
the minister

And I heard him
say in Finnish:

The way their men drink
makes God cry
and the Devil laugh

And the shame

took root in me

because of my dark hair
and my
dark eyes


That’s it. That’s my top five non-romance books. But don’t forget to check out the other posts on the topic. It’s always so interesting to read what my fellow writers come up with and I love that the same topic creates so wildly different content. I can’t wait to read what they’ve written.

Ofelia Gränd :: K.L. Noone :: Amy Spector :: Addison Albright :: Fiona Glass :: Ellie Thomas :: Lillian Francis

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Read Around the Rainbow: Setting Books Where You Live

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 June is “Do you set your books in the place you live (or have lived) in?”


In the early nineties, I read The Witching Hour by Anne Rice and I read it in the way that only a Deep Thinking Broody Teenager™️ could, i.e. I devoured it with my entire being, fell head over heels in love with it, and wanted to live out my life in the world created by the author. I wanted to be a witch, I wanted to be the main character Rowan Mayfair, and I desperately wanted to live in New Orleans where the book is set, especially in the First Street mansion the characters own, and the surrounding neighborhood. When refreshing my memory for this blogpost (the early nineties is a long time ago), I learned that Anne Rice actually modeled the Mayfair residence on her own First Street mansion, so she clearly sets her stories in the place where she lives.

I remember falling so deeply in love with New Orleans that I actively sought out other stories set in the same area, but nothing ever grabbed me the way the setting in The Witching Hour did. And nothing really has since then.

I mean, I love a general setting description as much as the next person. Reading my dear friend A.L. Lester’s Very British Books™️ makes me want to go to Britain, sit by a wood stove and look out on a farm while sipping tea, reading about a cowboy makes me want to move to a farm and learn to ride horses and wrangle cows, or reading about a character strolling the streets of Paris makes me want to return, find that nice sidewalk bar again, that was located next to the golden statue and the ancient merry-go-round, where the husband and I spent a glorious afternoon sipping wine and enjoying life back in 2009.

But, and here’s a big but, the setting can’t be too detailed, it can’t take over the story! I don’t want to know the name of the street in Paris where the imaginary character is walking, I don’t want every building described, I don’t want to know about every crack in the sidewalk, I don’t want to read about the old lady that always walks her dog at the same time every morning and never picks up its poop. Or the smell of garbage on a hot summer day.

One or two of those details is fine, it sets the scene and ignites my imagination. Too much makes me bored, uninterested, and prone to DNF:ing the story (I’m looking at you The Fellowship of the Ring). And with the exception of Anne Rice’s New Orleans, I’ve never fallen in love with a city, a province, or a country based on the descriptions in the story. I’ve read stories where the setting is almost like a character in the story, and that’s not really what I’m looking for.

And of course my attitude towards settings influences my own writing, so to circle back to the topic of today’s blog post; no. In general, I don’t set my stories where I live. I keep my locations vague on purpose. People live in Sweden (where I live, does that make me a liar? 😀 ) but they live “in the south” or “up north.” They live in “a tiny shitty town” or “close to the forest” or “at the end of the street.” I only include enough details to tickle the reader’s imagination, to let them fill in the blanks themselves. That’s what I prefer to read, so that’s what I write.

Also: there’s one more – very pragmatic – reason. If I set my story in a vague location, no one can ever get mad at me or give me a bad review because I got their hometown wrong. 😆

But, there are exceptions to every rule, of course, and I’m no exception 😀 So my story Resolutions for an Arbitrary Holiday is set in a very real location, that I describe in the book: Ale’s Stones in Skåne county, Sweden, where I live. At least the stones themselves are accurate, but I’ve taken liberties with the tiny village at the foot of the hill where the stones are located. Ale’s Stones is an iron-age stone ship, and the hubby and I went to see them a couple years ago. I was completely in awe of them, and when a fellow writer suggested I include them in a story, I thought “hmmmm…I just might.”

And I came up with Resolutions for an Arbitrary Holiday.

Two strangers, a twisted ankle, an ancient stone ship, and a New Year’s Eve they’ll never forget

Petter sneaks out of the New Year’s party he didn’t want to go to and treks to an old burial site he’s dying to see. Alone. Without telling anyone on a freezing December night. Without cell service…a huge problem when he twists his ankle.

Someone passes by Isak’s house on the path leading to the stone ship. When the person never returns, Isak worries and sets off to investigate. What he finds is Petter, a pack of sparklers, and an instant connection.

Under a starry sky, they learn they have a lot in common. Will the attraction burn hot and fizzle out like the fireworks going off over their heads when they return to the real world? Or will it deepen, grow, and turn into something real? Something everlasting like the stone ship?

M/M Contemporary / 20851 words

JMS Books :: Amazon


Don’t forget to check out the other posts on the topic. It’s always so interesting to read what my fellow writers come up with and I love that the same topic creates so wildly different content. I can’t wait to read what they’ve written.

Unfortunately, there won’t be a post from A.L. Lester this months, because she’s in hospital, recovering from surgery, so if you follow Ally on SM, make sure to stop by and send her some love.

Ofelia Gränd :: Holly Day :: K.L. Noone :: Amy Spector :: Addison Albright :: Fiona Glass :: Lilian Francis