Guest Post | Resolutions for an Arbitrary Holiday by Nell Iris


Happy New Year, everyone! In this very last post of the year, Nell Iris will tell us about her latest release. Nell and I are office buddies, and I remember back in the summer when she went on a day trip to a stone ship, Ale stenar. We talked about hubby and I going there the year before, and how cool it is to see those stones standing there in the middle of a field. Well, here we are, half a year later, and now there’s a story taking place by a stone ship!

Happy New Year to you all, and my lovely hostess. And thank you for letting me visit you on NYE to talk about my new release, Resolutions for an Arbitrary Holiday. It’s much appreciated.


”Happy New Year, Petter. Here’s to being truer to ourselves.”

The narrator in Resolutions for an Arbitrary Holiday, Petter, is almost 30 years old and trapped in a job he doesn’t enjoy. Yes, it’s secure and sensible, like his parents like to remind him of, but his heart’s not in it. He craves a change, and after careful consideration, he quits his job to go back to university. He’s going to study history, his real passion.

I was Petter once. I was trapped in a job that stressed me out and killed my soul slowly but surely. I lived in the same small town where I was born, where my parents and my brother lived, and was starting to suspect I’d die there, too.

Just like Petter, I wanted change. So when the opportunity arose, I took it. I uprooted my life and moved from a tiny, sleepy Swedish town to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where I slowly started healing my soul, where I started thinking about what I really wanted to do with my life now that I could choose freely.

And well. There was that old dream I’d nurtured since being a kid. The dream of being a writer. But I could never… I’m not good enough for… Who would wanna… I don’t know how…

Hello, Self-Doubt, my old foe. I never want to talk to you again.

I doubted myself so much I never spoke about it to anyone, not even my husband. But one day, when we were out to dinner, he said, I think you should write a book. You’d be great at it. Casually, just like those twelve little words and the ocean of confidence he had in me didn’t just change my entire life.

Poor Petter doesn’t have that kind of support…at least not until he meets Isak.



Are you the kind of person who makes resolutions?”

“Usually not.” I accept the lit sparkler he holds out to me. I’ve loved these things since I was a little kid, even more than fireworks, and up here, in the howling wind with a sky full of stars above my head, in the company of a kind stranger and huge ancient stones, they’re more beautiful than ever.

“But this year is different?”

“Yeah. I’m doing some…significant changes in my life this coming year, so I thought ‘why not?’ It can’t hurt, right? Even if I agree with you about the arbitrariness of this so-called holiday.”

“You do?”

“Sure. It’s not a thing we celebrate because of some natural phenomenon, like the solstice. It’s just to mark that the Earth has done another lap around the sun. I mean, that’s great and all, but why do we need to celebrate it?”

Isak’s face lights up in a wide grin. “Yes! This is what I always say when people complain because I refuse to embrace the spirit of the holiday.”

I return his smile. “Exactly!”

“I’ll drink to that. Finding a like-minded person makes it worth subjecting myself to this awfulness.” He takes another swig, face contorting, and then hands over the bottle to me.

“Are you trying to poison me?” I take the tiniest of drinks, barely enough to wet my mouth.

“Hey! You’re the one who brought it.”

“And I regret it deeply.”

The sparklers have gone out, and Isak lights a couple new ones, handing me one. “So tell me about your resolution.”

“You’ll think it’s stupid.” I avert my gaze, looking out over the ocean. Far away a tiny pinprick of light moves across the water. Who’s out in a boat now?

“I won’t. Promise.”

I follow the little prick of light as it moves away, and it’s easier to talk about it when I’m not looking at him. “I’m going to be more true to who I really am.”

Gently, he replaces the burned-out sparkler in my hand with a new one. “Why would I think that’s stupid?”

“Because people do. I’m almost thirty, I’m supposed to have reached that stage already in my life.”

“People assume a lot of shit, don’t they?”

I take my eyes off the boat and allow myself to be mesmerized by the sparkler, by the tiny stars shooting out of it in every direction, by the crackling sound and its energy. It burns hot and fast, but it gives its all doing it. “Yeah,” I say.

“I’ll drink to your resolution. I’m sure it doesn’t mean much to you because we don’t know each other, but I think you’re doing the right thing. Now drink.”

When the sparkler sputters and dies out, I look at Isak. “It does mean something. Thank you”. I take an even smaller drink, but the taste still contaminates my tongue.

“What is this crap anyway?” Isak asks

Nell RF cover

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 / 20849 words

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Nell Iris Bio and social media links:

Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bonafide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies room), loves music (and singing along at the top of her voice but she’s no Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (Make it so). She loves words, bullet journals, poetry, wine, coffee-flavored kisses, and fika (a Swedish cultural thing involving coffee and pastry!)

Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender, or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.

Nell is a bisexual Swedish woman married to the love of her life, a proud mama of a grown daughter, and is approaching 50 faster than she’d like. She lives in the south of Sweden where she spends her days thinking up stories about people falling in love. After dreaming about being a writer for most of her life, she finally was in a place where she could pursue her dream and released her first book in 2017.

Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angsty, short over long, and quirky characters over alpha males.

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