Nell’s Top Five

top-5-tips-834x450

Nell’s Top Five

…Poems I’ve Printscreened From Instagram

Recently I’ve been cleaning up my social media accounts; getting rid of stuff that doesn’t make me happy and instead replacing it with stuff that does. So there are lots of poetry and books and music in my Instagram feed at the moment, things that are important to me and that makes me happy instead of irritated.

One thing I do love about Instagram is all the poets popping up. I feel like poetry has been a dying art form, that no one except me cares about any longer (yes, that’s an exaggeration ofc, but it felt like it) and I’ve been sad to learn that some bookstores doesn’t even carry poetry books anymore. Now, however, it’s on the rise because of Instagram. And since I don’t like the loooooong poems that go on forever and ever (anything longer than a sonnet needs to be really freaking good for me to read it), Instagram is perfect. There’s only so many lines you can fit in a small square space 🙂

So today, I’m giving you the top five poems I’ve printscreened in my phone (since May this year when I bought a new phone). I hope you enjoy!

  1. (@rupikaur_)
    rupikaur
  2. (@atticuspoetry)
    atticus
  3. (@perrypoetry)
    perrypoetry
  4. (@beautaplin)
    beautaplin
  5. (@mazadohta)
    photo_2019-08-05_13-05-17 (3)

 

 

Advertisements

WIP teaser

The teaser below isn’t technically from a WIP because I’ve finished writing the story, but I submitted it recently enough for it to be called a WIP teaser. Besides. It’s my blog and I call it what I want to 😉

This teaser is from In My Arms Again, that I mentioned here. (I decided to keep the name after all!) The story is a M/M historical fantasy, 21 809 words long, and it will be published some time in October. The excerpt below is from chapter 2 and it’s unedited.

I have a blurb:

Trapped in a growing sense of restlessness, Oxen the hunter is lonely. Feeling like he’s waiting for something—or someone—he’s unable to focus on getting ready for winter. But when a handsome and very ill stranger collapses on his doorstep, everything changes.

The stranger, Vinge, is from a Pegasus family but has never been able to transform. As soon as he awakens, both men feel an instant connection, and it grows deeper as Oxen nurses him back to health. Something profound within each man calls out to the other, but neither of them knows what it is.

The questions surrounding Vinge and their deepening relationship are many. Why is Vinge so familiar to Oxen when they clearly have never met? Why are they both reluctant to take the first step to a real commitment?  And what will it take for the true depth of their connection be revealed?

wip teaser banner

I have no idea how long I’ve slept when an urgent banging on the door jolts me awake. My head shoots up and I peer through the window, but the outside is even darker than before. The wind howls more ferociously than ever, sounding like a pack of angry nightwolves outside the walls of my cabin. Rain pelts my home from every direction, smattering against the walls, making the glass in the windows rattle.

More banging chases me to my feet. I cross the floor in a few long strides and pull open the door.

Someone falls in through the doorway and collapses before me in a drenched heap. The person doesn’t move at all, as though banging on my door stole the last breath from their body.

I shove my hands under the person’s arms and pull them inside so I can kick the door closed. My rough handling doesn’t stir the stranger, so I keep pulling until they’re as close to the hearth they can get without catching fire before I allow myself to look at the person who knocked on my door in the middle of the night.

It’s a man. He’s tall and lanky with skin as black as the night and even darker tangled, waist-long hair; it’s so black it’s shifting in blue. His face has a grayish tinge to it, with the exception to two bright red spots on his cheekbones, and the full lips are chapped and scraped. The narrow chest rises and falls irregularly, showing none of the usual steadfastness of a steadily breathing man. His skin is cold and clammy to the touch, and he shivers under my scrutiny.

I lay my hand on his forehead—a rough and hardened palm against his delicate features—and snatch it back immediately. He’s blazing hot, just like the fire.

My burning palm kicks me into action, and I cup his shoulder, shaking gently.

“Esteemed visitor.” I wince at the roughness of my voice, but he doesn’t move. I shake again, speaking louder. “Honored stranger, wake up for the sake of the Maidens.”

When he doesn’t as much as twitch, I spring into action and pull his wet clothing off his shivering body. Despite the bedraggled state of the garments, I recognize that they’re of good quality, the finest silk woven in ornate patterns. Far too thin for the season, but valuable and beautiful, nonetheless.

I pat him dry and collect his hair into a piece cloth before hurrying to the chest of clothes and digging out a floor-length, thick nightshirt, socks reaching over the knee, and a pair of fur-lined moccasins that are far too wide for his narrow feet, but they’ll keep him warm all the same.

With careful movements, I pull the garment over his head and coax his uncooperative arms through the sleeves. His limbs are soft, as though every bone in his body has vanished. When he’s dressed, I cover him with a woolen blanket and push a pillow underneath his head.

He would be more comfortable on my bed, but my first concern is to warm him up.

I move the cauldron of broth to the side of the hearth and pour some water into the kettle that I hang in its place over the flames. As I wait for it to come to a boil, I hurry to the cabinet and search my stores for the tin of Alvea needles. When I find it, I grab a few sprigs and put them into a drinking bowl, add a big helping of golden honey, and pour the steaming water over it. As the tea steeps, I hang his clothes to dry next to mine.

I try to wake the man again. A slight twitch to his eyelids is all the reaction I get.

After removing the sprigs of needles from the tea with a small wooden spoon, I sit on the floor and carefully maneuver the stranger’s head and upper body onto my lap. When another shake to the man yields no results, I cradle his head in my arm and drizzle a few drops of his tea into his slack mouth. I set the bowl on the floor, close his mouth, and massage his throat to make him swallow the tea, wincing as the bow-string calluses on my fingers scrape against his soft skin.

Again and again, I repeat the procedure until the bowl is empty and the worst clamminess of his skin starts to disappear.

I’m probably imagining things, but his breathing appears to be a little less labored than before. It shouldn’t be possible because the effect of the tea takes some time to set in, but maybe the Maidens are keeping watch over both of their lowly servants this night.

Except, the stranger on my lap is not so lowly. Save for the pallor caused by his illness and the rough weather, his skin is free of blemishes and close to perfect, and his teeth are straight and flawless. He’s thin like a reed, but in a healthy manner, not like he’s emaciated. Despite his lean stature, his arms and legs are wiry, and I’m certain he’s much stronger than he looks.

I look down on his face. His features are relaxed, the tea definitely helping by now. His cheekbones are high and defined, his chin broad with a deep dimple to it that softens the angular jaw. His nose is wide but straight, his eyebrows immaculate arches over his eyes, and his lips—where they not parched and chapped—are full and pillowy. The blueish black hair is even longer than mine and shines bright now that the fire has dried it.

He’s a study in contrasts. Hard angles versus soft lines. Straight and severe versus soft and plush.

He is the most beautiful being I’ve ever laid eyes on, and a sense of calm floods my chest. A sense of…peace.


I just have to show you my inspiration for Vinge, the stranger. This lovely man won’t be on the cover though, because I found him on the internet and not on a stock photo site, but OMG, ain’t he fabulous?? 😍

pegasus

 

New release: Team Luker

Today is the release day for my short story, Team Luker. Jools and Ellery are two characters very dear to my heart, so I really hope you’ll like them as much as I do.

If you’re in the mood for a short, very emotional story about an established couple with characters in their forties, this is the story for you!


team luker excerpt available now

What if this is the last time we lie like this?

Uncertainty is keeping Ellery Luker awake at night and robbing him of his appetite. It’s been five days since the love of his life and partner of twenty-five years, Jools, went to the doctor. Five days since the biopsy. Five days of going crazy with worry and what ifs?

What if Jools suffers from the same disease that stole Ellery’s mother when he was just eleven?

What if all Ellery’s worst fears come true?

What if…?

M/M Contemporary / 5446 words

 

Buy links: JMS BOOKS (20% off until August 9)| AMAZON | AMAZON UK | KOBO | ITUNES | B&NGoogle Play

add to goodreads

Friday review

book review banner smaller

always another sideAlways Another Side by Annabelle Jacobs

Starting over at forty is hard work for landscape architect Jack Bowman. His long-term partner hurt him badly. With his self-esteem dented by the break up, trusting a new lover is going to take time.

Tyler Freeman is equally unlucky when it comes to love. Now that he’s over thirty-five, he’s tired of getting played. All he wants is someone special. How hard can it be to meet a man who’s honest, with no hidden surprises?

Being set up on a blind date might be a classic cliché, but it’s a stroke of good luck for Jack and Tyler. They have a lot in common, including previous relationships steeped in deceit, but it’s worth navigating their trust issues if it means laying those ghosts to rest.

Making it work finally seems possible—until an accidental discovery threatens their newfound happiness.

 


This was a re-read; I read it the first time in 2016 when it was new, and I’ve read it several times since then. It’s on my feel good re-reads list on Goodreads and I absolutely love it.

The MCs, Jack and Tyler, meet on a blind date neither of them want to go on, but they connect instantly. They both come with bagage; Jack’s partner of 16 years cheated on him 8 months ago and Jack is understandably angry about it. Tyler has wanted a partner for a long time but only found temporary ones, the last one of the bunch had a boyfriend and Tyler was just his side piece (something Tyler didn’t know at the time).

They’re both wounded. And the blind date ends with them blurting out the truth about how they feel, how broken they are, to each other. Jack in particular isn’t sure if he’s ready for a relationship. They both are surprised at the honesty considering it’s the first time they meet, but that’s the way their relationship goes from then on out: they talk to each other. And that’s the reason I love this book so much.

Jack and Tyler feel an instant connection to each other, but don’t know if their pasts will stand in the way of a relationship. They both have doubts and fears, and are in their heads a lot, but instead of mulling shit over by themselves and jumping to the wrong conclusions, they communicate. They share their fears and feelings with each other. You know, like two real people would.

And when it’s time for the big conflict of the story – and it is big – it could so easily have escalated into The Mother of All Misunderstandings. But it didn’t. Yes, they both were hurt after the revelation, but during the entire thing, they keep talking to each other, trying to understand the other person’s point of view. No one listens to half a conversation and storms out. No one jumps to conclusions and refuses to talk about it. They act like rational human beings.

And if you know me by now, if you’ve followed me for a while, you know this is right up my alley. My biggest pet peeve is The Big Misunderstanding, and this book is the complete opposite of that.

Always Another Side isn’t a book full of grand love gestures or dramatic I love yous. It’s quiet, full of introspection, and with two characters that want to be together and try their hardest to understand the other person’s side of the story, and work to overcome the obstacle that in any other book wouldn’t have been handled even half as elegantly as here.

In short: it’s the kind of romance I love to read the most and I give it my warmest recommendations.

Buy link: Amazon

More Sweden pics

Last month I showed you some pics from my Midsummer spent in Sweden. I thought you might like to see some more pics from the three weeks I spent there? Yes? Okay, let’s go.

photo_2019-07-22_20-43-09

A lot of our time was spent in Norrköping where my daughter lives. We had lovely weather almost our entire visit and went for lots of walks. Norrköping is lovely with the river running through it and an old industrial area that I love walking through.

fika

Since we are Swedes, a lot of our time was spent at cafés. Fika is a Swedish national sport after all! 🙂 Brödernas Kafé is my favorite coffee shop in Norrköping, especially during summer when I can sit outside.

himlen

I spent a lot of time looking at the sky, because there isn’t a more beautiful piece of art than the sky.

brewdog

My family (i.e. husband, daughter, and daughter’s partner) are all craft beer fans (I’m more of a wine gal myself) so we went to craft beer bars where they waxed poetically about the characteristics of the different beers, while I rolled my eyes and ordered a glass of wine instead after that initial beer.

mat

What would life be without food? 🙂 I made my excellent spaghetti Bolognese for the family because that’s their favorite meal. We also made homemade pizza with dairy-free cheese for me who can’t eat dairy. And pineapple, because pineapple belongs on pizza! And finally, on my son-in-law’s birthday, my daughter made a fabulous cheese cake (again dairy free cheese for my sake!) with passion fruit. It was sooooo good!

karlskoga

We also went to Karlskoga, our old hometown, to visit parents and brothers. I lived there for 39 years of my life (before moving to Malaysia) and I really really don’t ever want to move back. When I get there, it’s like a hand reaches into my chest and squeezes my heart and I just want to turn around and leave. The empty streets give me anxiety, and I fear that someone will force me to stay and go back to my old life. It’s an irrational fear, I know, but I can’t help it.

left civilization

My mother-in-law lives in the countryside though, and spending time at her house is always nice. I literally step outside, walk around her house, and leave civilization. But it makes for nice walks through the forests in the warm weather. And you also get lovely company on the walks, of the horsey kind 🙂

photo_2019-07-22_20-45-13

And visiting old friends in their summer house by Lake Möckeln is always nice, having fika in the garden, and watching the boats going by.

picasso

Another thing I love doing in summer, that I’ve done since I was a kid, is driving the less than 20 miles to Kristinehamn, buy ice cream, and look at the ginormous Picasso sculpture standing on the shore of Lake Vänern. On the way there, you pass through a marina, and when I was a kid, my parents loved taking us on road trips and look at all the boats and stop by the sculpture. I hated it then, but now I love it. It’s such a weird sight and when I was young I didn’t get it, but I do now.

jordgubbar

I picked all the ripe strawberries from my brother’s garden (I was allowed!) and ate them because there’s nothing more delicious than sun-ripened Swedish strawberries.

konstiga drycker

I tried some odd alcohol: Mansinthe, i.e. Marilyn Manson absinthe, 66.6% proof of course 😂 (wasn’t a fan) and porn star rum (was a fan)

photo_2019-07-22_20-44-18

Then we took a train to Malmö in the south of Sweden, where we hung out with a few friends, drank more of that blasted craft beer everyone loves so much except me, wandered on Lilla Torg, an ancient market square dated back to 1590 (in the picture), and enjoyed ourselves before it was time to go back to Malaysia again.

 

New release: Forever Nine by Kris T. Bethke

My publisher, JMS Books, celebrate their ninth anniversary this summer, so they invited their authors to write a story that is somehow related to the number nine. Which was how I came up with my bunny shifter story, 9 Willow Street, and which is why you’ll find several stories with nine as the theme (either in the title or playing a big part in the story) now at JMS Books.

And one of those books are Forever Nine by my dear friend Kris T. Bethke. So join me in wishing Kris a happy belated release day, and if you’re in the mood for a BDSM story, this is for you!!


forevernineWhen Jesse Reid needs emergency surgery, he calls his neighbor to come pick him up instead of one of his many family members. As the youngest of nine, Jesse is used to feeling like a leftover, and he doesn’t need their coddling.

Holden McRae is a big, beautiful man, everything Jesse wants. But Holden has made it clear he doesn’t want Jesse as a submissive.

Under the influence of Holden’s care, Jesse becomes bolder and makes Holden see what he’s been missing. The two men’s interests line up, and the attraction that has always been there is something they can finally act on. As Jesse heals, he shares parts of his life with Holden, and Holden helps him see he’s so much more than #9. Their love might not be the most conventional, but maybe it’s exactly what both men need.

M/M BDSM erotic romance 25910 words 

Buy link: JMS Books | Amazon


Excerpt: 

“Hey, wait. I live over there.” I gestured sloppily to the left.

“Jesse, do you really think I’m going to let you stay by yourself tonight?”

I squinted up at him. “Um yes. Yes I do.”

He scowled, which I shouldn’t find hot, but I totally did. “Nope. Try again. You had surgery, Jess. You need help.”

“It was little surgery. Not big surgery. It’s fine. I’ll be fine.” I tried to pull away, but he was much stronger than I was, and if I fought too hard, I might hurt myself.

“It was major abdominal surgery,” he corrected, a hint of frustration in his voice. “Even if it was, what did you call it, ‘minimally invasive.’ I have the instruction sheets right here, and you’re gonna be seriously hurting for at least a couple of days. Someone needs to help. So unless you want to call one of your siblings or your parents, you’re stuck with me.”

I shuddered. “God, no. Don’t want to call them. But I don’t want to be a burden.” I frowned. “Well, any more than I already have been. Asking you to come get me. I didn’t expect you to take care of me afterward.”

“Yeah, well. That’s what I do. So can you just let me?”

I was going to argue. I was. But the fact was, I’d called him for a reason. I wanted him to be there for me. I wanted him to care for me. And even though taking care of me after surgery wasn’t what I had in mind, I’d take it. At least for a day or two. Just to see what it was like. Until I could convince him I was fine on my own.

“Yes, Sir.”

“Don’t say that if you don’t mean it,” he muttered, his voice very low. He probably hadn’t meant for me to hear it, but I was practically smooshed against his chest. There was no way I couldn’t hear it.

“I mean it. I’ve always meant it. You just don’t believe me.”

He froze halfway in the house, and looked down at me with shock all over his face. It didn’t last long. After only a few seconds, that neutral mask was back in place. He shook his head.

“It must be time for another pain pill. You shouldn’t be this coherent.”

“They aren’t that strong. At least, not enough to really get me high. Which is a shame, really.” I laughed at the look he shot me. “I’m kidding, Holden. I don’t do drugs. I barely even drink. You know that.”

Holden didn’t seem to think that required a comment and he resumed our trek into the house, down the hall, and into a bedroom.

I knew it was Holden’s room the moment we walked in. Not only did it smell like him — citrus and smoky — but it felt like him. Warm and dominating. The furniture was big, and everything was done in dark browns with splashes of color — in the art on the walls, in the red sheets, and in the throw rug on the hardwood floor. My body relaxed as I took it all in, and it wasn’t until he was trying to settle me on the huge bed that my brain kicked in.

“No, this is your room and I can’t take your bed,” I protested.

He looked at me with a placating smile. “It’s the only bed in the house. The guest room is used for … other things.”

I had an idea what those other things were, but I wasn’t going to bring it up now. I knew he’d just shut me down.

“Then I’ll take the couch.”

“Like hell you will.” I saw a hint of anger rising and part of me felt awful at displeasing him. But most of me was gearing up for a fight.

“Then I’ll go home. I’m not taking your bed.” I tried to sit up, but he placed a firm, warm hand on my chest. I could have moved, he wasn’t holding me down exactly, but it would have been a struggle and that could tear my brand new stitches.

“It’s not taking if I give it to you. Now lie down, or I’ll tie you down.”

I sighed heavily, giving in. But only because I was suddenly too tired to do anything else. “Empty promise, that.”


Author Bio

Kris T. Bethke has been a voracious reader for pretty much her entire life and has been writing stories for nearly as long. An avid and prolific daydreamer, she always has a story in her head. She spends most of her free time reading, writing, or knitting / crocheting her latest project. Her biggest desire is to find a way to accomplish all three tasks at one time. A classic muscle car will always turn her head, and naps on the weekend are one of her greatest guilty pleasures. She lives in a converted attic with a way too fluffy cat and the voices in her head. She’ll tell you she thinks that’s a pretty good deal. Kris believes that love is love, no matter the gender of people involved, and that all love deserves to be celebrated.

Find her on her site https://kristbethke.com
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/people/Kris-T-Bethke/100014524539852
or on Twitter https://twitter.com/kristbethke

Writing update

Hi everyone! Time for another writing update; it was a while since my last one (May 27). Usually I try to update you guys once a month, but last month I was in Sweden and was too busy hanging out with my daughter and her partner, the rest of my family, and my friends to update the blog regularly. Heck, I was even too busy to write, which I’ve had to work hard to catch up for since I got back home.

Enough moaning about that, now, on with the update.

I’m in the final stages of writing a story for a JMS Books submission call, about a Pegasus shifter. It’s tentatively named In My Arms Again, but don’t be surprised if I change my  mind (I’ve already done it once). The deadline for this story is August 1, and it will be published some time in October.

The story is a M/M historical fantasy about a hunter named Oxen and a Pegasus shifter, who can’t shift, named Vinge. Vinge shows up at Oxen’s cabin one cold and rainy night, collapses on Oxen’s doorstep, and Oxen nurses him back to health. The connection between them is instant, but is it more to it than it seems? 🙂


nanowinner

Since I got home from Sweden, my ass has more or less been glued to my office chair, and I’ve been writing until my fingers were bleeding and my keyboard was on fire because of two reasons. First, because of my deadline (August 1), and second because I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo this month and wanted to win it. And I did. On Saturday, I wrote “The End,” and it took me about 12 days to write 20K words. That’s hella fast for me, so I’m giving myself a pat on the back.

Above, I’m presenting you with this proof, cut and paste from the stats page on their website. Unfortunately, there’s something wrong with the winner’s goodies page, so I can’t access the official winner stuff yet (I’m not the only one with the problem according to the forum), so this pic will have to do.

Official pics or not, I’m very proud of this accomplishment!


team luker blurb releaseday

I’ve already told you about my upcoming short story Team Luker, but here’s a reminder if you’ve missed it. It’s available for pre-order at these stores:

PRE-ORDER NOW: JMS BOOKS (20% OFF UNTIL AUGUST 9) | AMAZON | Amazon UK | Kobo | itunes | B&N


Oh, and on my last writing update back in May, I told you about the project I was working on at that time, for the JMS Books Autumn Love submission call, meaning the characters had to be 40+. Since then I’ve named it (which was a huge problem when I last wrote about it) and submitted it, and it will be published some time in September. But until I have more information, I thought you might want the blurb?

OF AUTUMN LEAVES AND NEW BEGINNINGS

Sometimes love finds you even when you’re not looking for it.

At 47, Oren Walker isn’t looking for love. When he knocks on Pete Higgins’ door, all he wants is to thank him for helping his mom after she broke her femur. He never expected that one look at the man would make his knees weak and heart flutter.

Pete is happy—albeit a bit lonely—after divorcing his wife of 20 years and isn’t looking to replace her. But when Oren shows up, all grateful and handsome and in that fancy suit, the longing for the deep connection of a relationship flares up inside him.

As the leaves turn yellow, Oren and Pete spend a lot of time in honest conversations. Their attraction grows. Will the two men recognize the promise of new beginnings, and take the chance to find the happiness they both deserve?