Read Around the Rainbow | Writing Advice I Take With a Grain of Salt


It’s Read Around the Rainbow time! Every month, we’re a group of authors who blog on the same topic, and this month, we’ll be talking writing advice. More specifically, writing advice we take with a grain of salt.

I’m gonna go with plotting here.

The surest way for me to get a story to forever remain a WIP is to have an outline. I see all these gurus out there saying that ‘Yeah, I was once a pantser too, but…’

Traitors, the lot of them! 😆

I often have a scene floating around in my head, something that gets my mind creating a world or a character. It’s happened that I’ve written stories where I had a scene that sparked my inspiration, but I never wrote the scene, because when I started putting words on the screen, they took me somewhere else.

I don’t do character sketches. I don’t know what they were like as children, and if it isn’t important to the story, I don’t know where they went to school, what their mother’s name is, or what their favourite foods are.

I know their hopes and dreams and their deepest fears, but I don’t need to outline to know that. It’s all in the way the character is built, the push and pull, and the reason why they do or say what they do.

And let’s be honest, there is no greater high than when it all falls together. When that little detail you don’t really know why you added in scene two all of sudden is important toward the end. Why would I ever want to kill that joy by planning it beforehand?

mapI’m not saying don’t plot if that works for you, to each their own, but don’t buy the guru’s gospel if it isn’t for you. Being unable to plot does not make you a bad writer.

And please, not all stories need to have a break-up scene in the third act.

I could rant about the break-up scene if you want because it’s so stupid. So stupid. And more often than not, it doesn’t fit with how the character is acting up to that point. The story doesn’t get better because the characters break up, BUT if you outline according to romance novel praxis, *they* will tell you to have a break-up scene at the end of the third act.

Oops, I feel myself turning ranty 😆

What I take with a grain of salt, is everything that has something to do with plotting. What do you take with a grain of salt?

Check out what the others have to say about ignored writing advice!

Addison Albright

Nell Iris

Holly Day

Ally Lester

Amy Spector

Ellie Thomas

K.L. Noone

Guest Post | Smoke by Amy Spector

Today, we have Amy Spector back on the blog! She’s here to talk about Smoke, her newest story, and I don’t know how long ago it was I first saw the cover – years ago. I’ve been wanting to read it ever since, and I have it, I actually opened it the other day, read the first page, and then something happened that forced me to put away my phone. I will get back to it, though! Welcome, Amy!

Smoke FB 3

Firstly, I wanted to give a big thank you to Ofelia for letting me stop by her blog!

Saturday was release day for Smoke, my newest paranormal M/M romance. It was a long time in coming—a super long time—being that I started the story it in early 2018 just before taking a two-year break from writing. But, even though my life took an unexpected turn, I never doubted I’d finish the story. I loved Saalik too much to abandon him. And now I’m thrilled to finally share it with everyone!

Wyatt Calder is trapped in a life he never wanted. It would take a miracle to escape. Or at least a little magic.


Smoke Cover HalfSizeWyatt Calder is trapped— in a rundown neighborhood, in a dead-end job, by the endless string of trouble his brother drags to their door—and it seems he’s destined to slowly fade away within the aging walls of Picket House, longing for his best friend’s cousin. That is until his upstairs neighbor Abel Walters dies on the staircase just outside Wyatt’s door.

Saalik has spent most of his existence asleep and waiting for the next person to discover his bottle and claim their wishes. And the last four years playing prized possession to Abel Walters and spying on the downstairs neighbors. But he has a plan. And, like every plan worth planning, it has taken patience. But if life as a Jinn has taught Saalik nothing else, it’s taught him that.

When a break-in sends Wyatt out his second-story bedroom window and into his dead upstairs neighbor’s apartment, he finds more than a place to hide. He discovers a magical solution to all his troubles.

Or does he? Because really, when is life ever that simple?

Paranormal Gay Romance: 19,936 words

 Buy Links: JMS Books • Amazon • Universal Buy Link


Wyatt woke to the sound of the ocean. It roared in his ears and he could smell the salt in the air and feel the heat of the sun as it beat down on his face.

He smiled and opened his eyes to a darkened room. The curtains of the window above him blew in with a cold breeze, rain drops coming in with each gust. He was freezing.

A movement drew his attention away from the open window and he found a man watching him. Wyatt jerked up, startled, banging his head against the wall in his hurry to be upright and the man watching him took a silent step back and laughed.

“Fuck.” Wyatt squeezed his eyes tight, rubbing the spot at the back of his skull. “You scared the shit out of me.”

“But then, I don’t think you’re particularly brave.”

“Huh?” Wyatt stopped rubbing and opened his eyes. The man was…well fuck, the guy was naked.

Wyatt watched as he walked on bare feet around him where he sat on the floor of the unfamiliar room. One of the dead man’s rooms, he realized, and grimaced. “I’m sorry about Mr. Walters.”

“Are you?” The guy stopped and studied Wyatt a moment as if trying to gauge the truthfulness of his statement. A trail of blue smoke drifted in a lazy and hypnotic way from his nose, creeping down his body to swirl around the wrist of his right hand, weaving playfully between his fingers. It was quite a trick, like how Wyatt’s grandfather had been able to breathe out donut shapes with his cigar smoke. “I’m not.”

With that he turned around and silently padded out the room, leaving Wyatt where he sat on the cold floor.

When Wyatt realized he wasn’t coming back, he pushed himself up and noticed that the shelf he’d knocked over the night before had been tipped back up and everything returned to its place. Slowly, he ventured out into the rest of the apartment. The rooms were much the same as his in that they had a similar floor plan; small eat-in kitchen, living room, a short hall that held a bathroom, a bedroom on either side. Beyond that, it was nothing like his own place. Instead of old carpet, the floors were warm dark wood with colorful rugs. The woodwork was a bright, clean white and, unlike Wyatt’s place where it had been replaced years before with something cheap, looked like it was original. The walls were a neutral cream. What you could see of it anyway, as each and every one was covered in sketches and tapestries, and paintings in large ornate frames.

He maneuvered around the obstacle-course of furniture, following the sound of activity down the hall and into a bedroom where he found his host hunting through a chest a drawers, pulling out pants only to discard them on the floor.

“Who’s that?” Wyatt asked pointing at the painting the hung above the dresser.

“Raphael’s Portrait of a Young Man.”

“The painter?” Wyatt knew how stupid the words were before they were out of his mouth, and from the look on the naked man’s face, he agreed. Embarrassed, Wyatt looked away from his eyes, only then realizing what his host was doing. “Mr. Walters’ pants aren’t going to fit you.” The old man had been taller for one thing, and bigger around.

“No,” the naked man agreed. “But they will fit you. And I want yours.”

Wyatt looked down at his old sweats with their elastic waist and drawstring. “You want to wear mine?”

“Yes. Tell me to.”

“Tell you to what?” Wyatt rubbed at his head again. Was there a bump or was he imagining it?”

“Tell me you want me to wear your…”

“Sweats.” Wyatt supplied.

“Exactly. Tell me to wear your sweats.”

“What’s your name?”

The man blinked. “What?”

“Your name? What’s your name?”

His brow furrowed—dark brows over darker eyes—and then he shrugged. “Saalik. But someone I used to know called me Saal.”

“Okay, Saal, I would like you to wear my sweats.”

 You can also read out a longer excerpt HERE. 

About Amy

Amy SpectorAmy Spector grew up in the United States surviving on a steady diet of old horror movies, television reruns and mystery novels.

She blames Universal for her love of horror, Edward Gorey for her love of British drama and writing for awakening the romantic that was probably there all along.

Amy lives in the Midwest with her husband and children, and more cats than is strictly necessary.

Check out Amy’s BioLink to find out where you can find her online and to learn how you can receive a free book.

Guest Post | Second Wind by A.L. Lester

Second Wind: Meet Martin Reed!

Hello everyone! Thanks so much to Ofelia for letting me drop by today to tell you all about Second Wind, my new release.

Second Wind is a new story in my Theatr Fach universe. Theatr Fach (or ‘little theatre’) is the community theatre in the small Welsh seaside town of Llanbarac. The stories focus around the staff and their friends and family. The first story, Out of Focus, came out in the summer and Second Wind is the second. You can read them in any order though.

I’ve dropped in today to tell you a bit about one of the MC’s, Martin.

Second Wind Martin

Martin came to Llanbaruc as a stage manager at Theatr Fach twelve years ago when he’d first gone back to work after having his daughter Shannon. He’d had two years parenting and was increasingly unhappy at home with the baby at the whim of Lee, his husband. Things had begun to fall apart after Martin had a difficult pregnancy and depression once the baby arrived. Lee didn’t understand PND or Martin’s trouble with dysphoria while pregnant. And he resented the lack of cash coming in to the household with Martin not working any more.

Martin finally realised he couldn’t live like that and took Shannon and left. Llanbaruc was a pretty little town with a community feel where he and Shannon could make a home together. Lee was easier to get on with as a co-parent rather than a partner and it was an amicable divorce. When Martin had begun to think he was ready to transition a couple of years after he’d settled in to his job, Lee took it in his stride and backed him up. He’d learned a few lessons along the way over the last few years as well.

Martin’s happy. He’s got a good set of friends here in Llanbaruc. Shannon’s a good kid. They’re a team.

Martin isn’t the first trans character I’ve written, but I think he’s probably the most rounded. I set out to create a character who was happy with himself. I wanted his transness to be incidental to the story rather than the focus. He’s a normal guy, going about his normal life, happy with who and where he is.

Second Wind

Second Wind

What do a shy French-horn-playing accountant and a single-dad trans trumpet player have in common other than both being members of the community orchestra at Theatr Fach in the little town of Llanbaruc?

Gethin’s been more or less hiding from life since his marriage broke up a couple of years ago. He’s joined the orchestra because his sister told him he needed a hobby rather than sitting at home brooding about his divorce.

Martin is careful who he dates because of his gender and his teenage daughter. He came to Llanbaruc as a stage manager for the Theatr Fach twelve years ago. He’s got a good set of friends here. Shannon’s a good kid. They’re a team.

Martin and Gethin hit it off. Will their mutual baggage prove too much to sustain a relationship?

A gentle m/transm romance in the Theatr Fach universe.

Buy Links: Amazon US : Amazon UK : JMS Books : Everywhere Else

Second Wind keywords


“Martin!” Julie, the lead violin, waved him over. “This is Gethin,” she said, her hand on the arm of a tall, thin man nervously clutching a French horn and peering out from behind a thick pair of glasses. He resembled a nervous heron. “He’s new,” she added unnecessarily. “Can you take him under your wing a bit?”

Martin shot her a look. She was a very competent, friendly woman with no tact at all.

“Of course,” he said. “Pleased to meet you, Gethin,” he held out a hand and Gethin took it. “I’m Martin. Trumpet.”

“Gethin Jones,” the thin man said, shaking his hand a little too hard. His palm was warm and firm and he was clearly apprehensive. “Erm. French horn.” He waved his instrument vaguely at Martin. “As you can see.”

Martin smiled. “Come on,” he said. “Brass is over here. Let me introduce you around.” They started picking their way through the chairs. The brass section was made up of Martin and Alan on trumpet, Tim and Lucy on trombone, and Portia, a ten year old who played a tuba almost as large as she was. They were setting up music and gossiping about their week when Martin and Gethin reached them.

“Hullo hullo,” Martin said. This is Gethin Jones.” He waved vaguely at Gethin beside him. “Gethin, this is Tim, Lucy, Alan and Portia.” Everyone made noises of greeting. The room was beginning to echo with the sound of instruments being tuned and scales being played. It was a familiar cacophony.

“Are you Marion’s Gethin?” Lucy asked suddenly, leaning toward them to be heard over the cat-like screech of a young violinist and a burp from Portia’s tuba.

Beside him, Gethin tensed. “Not any more,” Gethin said brusquely, nodding. “But yes. I used to be.”

Lucy nodded, blushing. “Sorry,” she said. “My sister is Penny Wright. They went to school together. Penny told me what happened.”

Gethin nodded again. “Pleased to meet you,” he said, again. He didn’t add anything else. He seemed almost paralytically shy. But then, Martin would be reticent if he knew everyone was talking about his private business.

“I’ll go and get you some music,” Martin said, forestalling any more awkwardness. “Here, stick your horn down on the seat and grab yourself a music stand from the stack in there”. He gestured at the open door of the cupboard behind them.

The spare sheet music was on the table at the front. He made his way across the room, wending around chairs and people offering greetings until he could pick up a sheaf.

Julie met him there. “Is he all right?” she hissed at Martin, glancing past him over his shoulder at Gethin, an anxious expression on her face.

“Yes? Why shouldn’t he be?” Martin asked, frowning at her, puzzled.

“He’s Posey Morgan’s brother,” Julie hissed some more. “You know. Posey the health visitor?”

Martin shook his head. “Not my area,” he said apologetically. “Never met her.” He couldn’t remember who Shannon’s health visitor had been. An older woman though, no-one who could have been the sister of someone Gethin’s age.

Julie scowled at him, apparently blaming him for his lack of knowledge. “Well, she said he needed to get out of the house,” she continued, still hissing. “His wife left him two years ago and he’s become a recluse, she told me. I suggested he come along here to help take him out of himself.”

Martin bit his lip. As a gentle first step back in to a social life, he had his doubts about the suitability of the orchestra. One of it’s other activities was going to the pub after practice on a Friday and drinking steadily ‘til closing time. And there was a country-dancing-for-exercise sub-set of members he tried to avoid … they’d invited him along to one of the sessions and he’d been crippled for days afterwards.

“So?” he said. “He seems perfectly normal.”

“The wife took off with his best friend,” Julie told him, shooting another guilty look over his shoulder at the brass section, who were settling the newcomer in their midst like a chicken in a nest of ferrets. Martin stopped himself turning properly to look at them, watching out of the corner of his vision.

“I’ll keep an eye on him,” Martin promised. “Does he actually play?”

“He brought it in to the shop to have it serviced,” she said. “He seemed to know what he was doing. And Posey said he played at school. But I don’t think he’s done much of anything for a while.” She pulled a face. “He’s an accountant.”

Buy Links: Amazon US : Amazon UK : JMS Books : Everywhere Else

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AllyAbout A. L. Lester

Writer of queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense, mostly. Lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a terrifying cat, some poultry. Likes gardening but doesn’t really have time or energy. Not musical. Doesn’t much like telly. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has tedious fits.

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