Guestpost

Cover reveal: Be Still, My Heart by Holly Day

Today, my friend Holly Day is a guest on my blog again; she’s here to show off the pretty cover for her upcoming release Be Still, My Heart. It’s a Valentine’s story, so if you want to be sure you have something to read on V-day I suggest you clickety-click the pre-order link 🙂

But without further ado, help me welcome Holly to the blog. And maybe we can all help Holly remember her wedding anniversary next year? January 9th, 2022, let’s all email her and remind her, all right? 😂


Thank you for letting me drop by today, Nell. A couple of days ago, I got the cover of my February release, and I wanted to come here to show it off 😀

The story is called Be Still, My Heart, and it’s a Valentine’s story. To be honest, I’m not the kind of person who celebrates Valentine. But then, I’m not the most romantic gal you’ve come across. The day before yesterday, hubby and I had been married for eleven years – I forgot. I always forget. Every year.

But enough about forgotten wedding days, the story is about Valentine. When I saw the cover, I was super happy. You see, I have another story out – a story that was published on my wedding day, and this is the first time I realised that. Signing contracts, writing blog posts, posting on social media – not once did my brain tell me the 9th of January not only was release day but also my wedding day LOL.

I’m getting off track. The cover!  I got up early to meet Nell and the others for our daily writing session. And there it was. While I’d been sleeping, the cover fairy had sent it to me. I opened the email and – here I feel I need to point out I’m waiting for my coffee to get ready, so picture a dark, silent house, and know that I’m in a hibernation-state. A zombie would appear alert compared to me. I opened it, and I smiled.

It matches the Hop Hop, Carrot Top cover! I did not tell the cover fairy to do that, and yet she did.

Are you ready to see it?

Isn’t it pretty? The story is about Dimitri Petrov, a military vet who suffers from PTSD. He’d have stayed hidden in his home for the rest of his life if he could, but he has a sister who runs a matchmaking agency, and she insists on him working the front desk there.

Elian Hubert is an eccentric literary professor in need of a date for a Valentine’s dinner. He walks up to Dimitri and tries to book a date for the evening, not realising they’re not the rent-by-the-hour kind of place.

Be Still, My Heart will be released on February 13th, in perfect time for Valentine’s, but it’s already up for pre-order in the JMS shop.

PRE-ORDER LINK

Blurb:

Four years ago, Dimitri Petrov had his leg blown off by a landmine while in military service. Suffering from PTSD, he doesn’t do crowds, and he doesn’t do people. If he had his way, he’d never leave his house at all. Dimitri’s sister, Irina, runs a dating agency, and despite that it would be better for business if they had a pretty woman working the front desk, Irina insists Dimitri’s the man for the job.

In a whirlwind of pink shirts, flapping hands, and outrageous flirting enters Elian Hubert. Elian needs a date. Invited to speak on love through time in fiction at a Valentine dinner, there is no way he’s showing up alone. When Dimitri tells him The Single Pursuit is unable to help on such short notice, Elian suggests Dimitri be his date.

Dimitri doesn’t do dates, and he doesn’t do dinners, but Elian’s made him happier in the last few minutes than anyone’s been able to do in years. He might not do Valentine’s, and he might not do gatherings, but maybe he can do Elian… a favor and accompany him to his presentation? If things go too badly, he can always hide behind a curtain and pretend he’s somewhere else.

About Holly:

According to Holly Day, no day should go by uncelebrated and all of them deserve a story. If she’ll have the time to write them remains to be seen. She lives in rural Sweden with a husband, four children, more pets than most, and wouldn’t last a day without coffee.

Holly gets up at the crack of dawn most days of the week to write gay romance stories. She believes in equality in fiction and in real life. Diversity matters. Representation matters. Visibility matters. We can change the world one story at the time.

Connect with Holly or visit her website

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Miscellaneous

TGIF

Finally Friday!! Fridays mean dance parties in the kitchen while I drink a glass of wine and cook a nice dinner for me and the hubby, and today’s no different. So I thought I’d share a song from my playlist that’s very good for kitchen dance parties. Probably living room dance parties, too, but I haven’t tried it in that setting, so I’ll have to get back to you on that. Or if you try it, if you put on this song and have a dance party in the living room, let me know how it went 🙂

Happy Friday, everyone. Tell me what you’re up to today! ❤️

About Nell

Wrapping up 2020

2020 started slow for me, writing wise. Moving across the world, making a home in a new city in Sweden where I’ve never lived before, finding new routines, took longer than I expected. I had a lovely office, but somehow it wasn’t right. And then the pandemic hit and gave us all anxiety and heartache, and that sure didn’t help. Because of the pandemic, I also had to move a second time; we had no choice because my landlady decided to sell the house. So after living only for six months in the house we moved to a small-ish apartment instead.

And here I found my stride. I don’t have an office; we have an open floor plan and my desk is sitting between the kitchen and the living room area, and I love it here. And at the end of June, I fount my morning writing crew and started getting up to write at 6am every day. As a result, the second half of 2020 has been very productive for me and I already have 4 books on JMS Books release schedule for 2021. But the slow start made this into a slow-ish year for me, book release wise. At least compared to 2019.

Let’s take a look:

I’ve released four new stories this year, five if you count the super-short freebie continuation to 9 Willow Street. I’ve released one box set containing previously released Cinnamon Eyes and Promise Me We’ll Be Okay. And two of my stories are featured in two anthologies released by JMS Books this year: Unexpected Christmas in A Decade of Gay Romance and Always You in 2020 Top Ten Gay Romance.

It hasn’t been a bad year, especially not when you take everything that’s happened into consideration. But when I compare myself to 2019 me, I’m a bit disappointed. Even if I wrote in my 2019 wrap-up that “And maybe, we can all agree that this many releases in one year is a bit…excessive?” It felt excessive then, but now…not so much. 😁

That being said, I’m happy that I’ve found a routine that works for me, especially after this weird and difficult year. I even managed to write a book about cheating (the big no-no topic of romance stories) that was mostly well received, so I’m giving myself a pat on the back for that 🙂

Late Night Poetry | Always You | Regaining Trust | Resolutions for an Arbitrary Holiday | 9 Willow Street: And Then They Were Three | One More Chance | A Decade of Gay Romance | 2020 Top Ten Gay Romance
Book Recommendations

Best books of 2020

What was the best M/M romance book you read in 2020? The best book all categories?

I had set 200 books as my goal in my Goodreads challenge, and I ended up reading 220 books in 2020. I read in total 27136 pages (the shortest was 8 pages and the longest 762) with the average length being 123 pages/books. The average rating was 3.4 stars with 11 one-star reads and 29 five-star reads. On top of this, I’ve also read a lot of fanfiction, albeit a bit less than last year. I’ve also read a few text books for my university courses I took this summer, but I haven’t added those to my reading challenge.

But enough with the statistics already.

The best book all categories I read in 2020, is a Swedish book called Ædnan by Sàmi-Swedish author Linnea Axelsson. It’s a novel-in-verse, telling a gripping and heartbreaking story about two Sàmi families. Gawd, it was so beautiful and heart-wrenching and it left me reeling for days. I’ve never read anything like it and I wish it was available in English so you all could read it.

But since it isn’t, let’s instead talk about the top ten gay romances I read last year. The criteria is that I read them in 2020, but they don’t have to be published in 2020. And they can’t be re-reads.

Without further ado, I present to you my ten favorite reads of 2020:

I read three of them for Holidays at Nell’s; Coming Out On Top, Gingerbread Dreams, and Nobody’s Butterfly. Two of them are written by two of the three members (we’re four if we count me) morning writing crew: Pine Tree Mary and Taking Stock. One is the first in a three-part series, In the Name of the Father, and I actually read all three of the books despite them being about the same couple. One, The Bake Sale, was a super-short story that hit me right in the heart. Alfie Adams Comes at Life Sideways was called Everybody in the Place when I read it, but I adore the new name. Granddad’s Cup of Tea was a delightful surprise featuring two mature characters, something I’ve craved more and more lately. And then there’s A Worthy Man, that I crowned as one of the most romantic books I’ve ever read.

I’ve written about all of them on my blog before (the links are the names above) except for In the Name of the Father. Only one of ten is a non-contemporary, Pine Tree Mary, but Hush makes up for it by being the best paranormal/fantasy character ever. K.L. Noone and writing duo Claire Davis and Al Stewart made my top ten last year, too. Matthew Robbins was a new-to-me author, and A Worthy Man is the ultimate proof that a book can be absolutely fantastic even if the blurb doesn’t speak to you.

All in all, a good reading year. I look forward to seeing what 2021 will bring.

About Nell

Goals for 2021

I’m not the type who makes big over-reaching goals for myself; I usually just go with the flow, and seeing other people making goals for 1-2-3 years ahead makes me break out in hives because of stress. To each their own, and all that, but that’s not for me.

But since I want to take my author career more seriously, I decided to try this goals thing for 2021. Vague goals, but things that would be good for me. Even if not all of them are things I want to do. What do you mean, Nell? you ask.

I’ll tell you what I mean. It’s the last goal I’m not friends with. “Start a newsletter.”

Newsletters. I intensely dislike them. I don’t want my inbox spammed with unwelcome emails, and subsequently, I’ve resisted getting one of my own for several years now. Despite lots of my author friends telling me I need one because of lots of reasons that all sounds reasonable (duh!), but my personal dislike of the newsletter concept has made me stubbornly refuse. At one point, I even bought a book about newsletters, thinking it would help, but no. On the contrary, it scared me away for another year or so.

But I think I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re right. It is good for me for reasonable reasons (heh), so I grudgingly added it as one of my 2021 goals. And then I decided I’d start researching it right away, because if I procrastinate it, I’m going to come up with reasons why I shouldn’t do it, and suddenly it’s 2022 and Nell still has no newsletter.

So this morning, after my writing session, I googled some and found the following:

Yes, Katie Rose Guest Pryal author of the article, I completely agree. When am I supposed to write my actual books? I’ve already spent a godawful long time planning social media this year, and it’s only January 4! So I’m sorry, dear readers, but there’ll be no Nell Iris books this year (yeah, that’s a lie because one is already up for pre-order). I’ll be busy with social media and my newsletter…but at least I’ll have a newsletter! 😆

So that’s what I’ll be doing in January. Setting up a newsletter. And probably moaning and whining about it, too 😁

But if you want to help me out, you can tell me if you like newsletters? And if yes, what especially do you like with author newsletters (aside for the free book, ofc 🙂 )?