Today, the lovely Nell Iris is with us to talk about her story, The Santa Emergency, which will be released tomorrow. I’m so glad Nell is talking about glögg! This year, I made my own. Picked lingonberries and boiled with all the spices. Then I went a bit overboard as I tend to do at times, and made apple glögg (pretty nice) and chokeberry glögg (too sweet, but hubby added some vodka to it and then it turned just fine. He’s resourceful, my man 😆)
And now that Nell has got me talking glögg – Sorry, Nell – I have to say, that my granny always had glögg on midsummer. She invited her friends and they’d sit in the garden, a group of old ladies sipping glögg and eating gingerbread in June. I miss her dearly.
And with this, the longest welcoming intro in history – welcome, Nell! It’s lovely to have you here.
It’s me. Nell. I’m back, have you missed me? I’ve missed you! And I’ve missed our lovely hostess Ofelia, because I haven’t been in the morning office as much as I’d liked lately, so before I dive into what I’m here to talk about, I’m blowing a cyber kiss Ofelia’s way. Thanks for having me, you’re always so kind and generous. ❤️
Not that that’s over with, let’s talk books! I’m here to talk about my new holiday story The Santa Emergency. The story is full of Swedish holiday traditions, and you’ll find me around the internet talking about them, but I saved the most important one for you:
Mulled wine in Swedish is called glögg; it’s a shortened version of glödgat vin which means heated wine. The first written mention of glödgat vin in Swedish literature is from 1609, but drinking heated, spiced wine is an old tradition; even the ancient Greeks did it as it was a good way of covering the foul taste of a bad quality wine. But in Sweden, we’ve been drinking it at least since the Middle Ages, but it was only in the 19th century it became a Christmas related drink.
Swedes are crazy about glögg, and these days, we buy our mulled wine pre-spiced. According to statistics, we drink five million liters of glögg every year, which is a lot considering our population of not quite 10.5 million people and that we mostly drink it in December. There are several different varieties of glögg, made from red or white wine, some with added spirits like rum or brandy. Every year, the largest glögg producer Blossa, releases an annual seasonal glögg, a special blend flavored with something not traditionally in the recipe (in 2021 it’s oranges), and there’s even glögg bubbly which is disgusting, and I say this as someone who loves both glögg and bubbly.
We drink it in espresso-sized cups and add raisins and almonds and we have glögg parties with our friends where we serve finger food that goes with it.
In short; Swedes are crazy about glögg.
So when I decided to write a Christmas story set in Sweden, glögg needed to be a part of it. Main character Sigge in The Santa Emergency isn’t a huge fan of Christmas, but if there’s one thing about it he likes, it’s the glögg. So when Kristian comes knocking, frazzled because he has less than an hour to solve an emergency, Sigge invites him into his home and soothes his nerves with mulled wine.
I have a Santa emergency and I desperately need your help.
Sigge isn’t exactly a grinch when it comes to Christmas, but he’s not a fan of the holiday either. So when his new neighbor Kristian shows up in a panic, begging him to help by donning a Santa suit, Sigge’s gut reaction is to say no. But Kristian is cute and funny, rendering Sigge powerless against his heartfelt plea—especially after a promise of spending more time together—so he agrees.
The instant connection deepens as they share mulled wine and conversation as easy as breathing. But is it just holiday magic swirling in the air, or is it something real? Something that will last into the new year and beyond?
M/M Contemporary / 13 816 words
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.
Find Nell on social media:
I clear my throat, and ask, “So what’s the emergency? And come in properly, please. Can I get you a drink?”
Kristian follows me as I lead the way to the kitchen. “Yes, please. If you have anything hot, you’ll forever be my hero. I almost froze my ass off on my way over here.”
I hum in understanding. The sun has been out all day and even though clouds have rolled in during the last hour or so, the temperature hasn’t risen above minus ten degrees. His suit doesn’t seem nearly thick enough to keep him warm even on the short walk between our houses.
“Coffee?” I ask. “Or I have some mulled wine warming by the TV if you’d like?”
“Gawd, yes. That, please!”
I chuckle and grab another of the tiny cups for the mulled wine—the green one decorated with outlines of reindeer because it’s as whimsical as his Santa hat—from the cabinet, and nod in the direction of the den. “This way.”
The mulled wine sits on the coffee table in a pot that looks like a laboratory flask, the round bottom part resting in a metal stand, and it’s kept warm by a flickering tealight. I grab the top part of the flask and pour some steaming wine into the reindeer cup and offer it to him. I gesture for him to sit as I retake my previous spot, refill my own tiny cup—this one red with white Christmas trees—then move the bowls containing raisins and almonds closer to him. “Help yourself.”
He wrinkles his nose at the raisins but adds a generous helping of nuts into his cup before taking a sip. “Ahhh. Just what I needed.”
I drink some myself and hum when the flavor hits my tongue. Mulled wine is the only Christmassy thing I like; my childhood Christmases meant too much booze and screaming matches—and fistfights if I was really unlucky—so the holidays hold no fond memories for me. I’m not a Grinch, I don’t hate Christmas, but I prefer to keep it out of my own space. I don’t decorate, I don’t listen to Christmas music or watch sappy holiday movies. I never do anything special on Christmas Eve; my friends try to talk me into joining them every year, but I don’t feel right about intruding on their family time.
The mulled wine is the only exception, my only Christmas weakness; I love the flavors of cinnamon and cardamom and cloves, love the way it warms me from the inside, love the way it makes my house smell. Other than that, I usually spend my Christmases on the couch, ordering takeout, watching one black-and-white B-movie or another, and drinking mulled wine the traditional way, with raisins and almonds.
It seems my new neighbor shares my appreciation for the beverage, and he warms his hands on the cup between sips. It looks a little ridiculous; his long fingers wrapped around the tiny thing, trying to soak up what little bit of heat it offers, and I’m tempted to ask him if I should get him a big mug for the wine so he can properly warm his hands. “Tell me about your emergency,” I say instead.
He gulps down the contents and turns to face me on the couch. “My mom broke her leg two weeks ago. We always do Christmas at her house, and she wanted us to this year, too, despite her injury. But she’s not the kind of person to sit idly by and let other people do all the work, especially since she doesn’t let anyone into her kitchen. She’d insist on business as usual, and she’d exhaust herself and risk re-injuring her leg. So my sister came up with the idea of Christmas at my house since I’m the only one in the family besides Mom living in a house and not an apartment.” He rolls his eyes. “Because Santa would surely strike us down with a mighty hammer if we celebrated Christmas in an apartment, right? I know I’m mixing my metaphors, but I’m trying to say that I’m sure the world wouldn’t end. I love my sister to death, but she has the weirdest ideas.”
He speaks with his whole body; he gestures with his hands and his face is lively and animated, and I can easily read every emotion as he experiences them, even after only being in his presence for a few minutes. All that makes him even more irresistible. In a society where everything is about hiding the truth behind a pretty surface, meeting someone open is refreshing.
“Anyway,” he says, “that gave me two whole weeks to unpack my stuff and plan a party. Dammit, Sigge, I’m a copywriter, not a party planner!”
Holy crap. He’s paraphrasing Star Trek, too? Is he perfect?
“But I did all right. The food, the decorations, everything is perfect. Or you know…everything except that I forgot to convince someone to come play Santa. When my sister found out, she lectured me in her scariest hissing voice until I was overcome with the urge to run away from my own house. She said I must not love my nieces and nephews since I forgot about a Santa. Her blame game is on point.” He grimaces.
“It’s Christmas Eve, and Santa always comes after Donald Duck is over. I can’t believe I forgot. The kids reach meltdown level if someone needs to go to the bathroom after the TV is turned off, so I have exactly—” he looks at his watch and gasps “—thirty-five minutes until my sister declares me the worst uncle ever. You must help me. Pretty please with sugar on top.”
His eyes are wide and pleading, his eyebrows slumping sadly, and I swear I can detect a hint of a tremble in his lower lip. I reach out and ease the cup out of his hands and pour more mulled wine into it before handing it back to him. “Drink this.”