Guest Post | #SlidingIntoMyDMs by Nell Iris

Guest-Post

Today, we have Nell Iris on a visit! She’s here to talk about her new release #SlidingIntoMyDMs. It’s a #Love story, and I’m super excited about this multi-authored series from JMS Books, but I’ll let Nell tell you more about it. Welcome, Nell!


Thank you so much for having me, Ofelia. It’s always a pleasure to stop by for a visit, and you’re always so generous with your space. I’m proud of us for being such great role models of authors sticking together and lifting each other up 😊

I’m here today to talk about my new book, #SlidingIntoMyDMs, which’s a part of a multi-authored series released by my publisher JMS Books. Last summer, JMS Books sent out an in-house submission call for their authors, where the theme was “falling into love on social media.” We could either pick an existing SM platform where our MCs would meet and fall in love, or we could come up with a new one. The title for the submission call was #Love, and the title of our stories had to start with a hashtag. Hence #SlidingIntoMyDMs.

It all started

Do you ever wonder where authors get their inspiration from?

Last year, I got a DM on Instagram from M, an old acquaintance of mine who I haven’t seen in at least over a decade. He’d watched a video of Radiohead, my favorite band since I heard Creep, some time back in 1993, and thought of me. It was in the spring when the pandemic was relatively new in our lives and we were all fragile and needed cheering up. And then M, this nice, lovely person, saw something he thought I’d like and sent it to me.

He caught me on a particularly bad day so that video cheered me up more than he probably expected it would, and after watching it all the way through (it was an hour-long live show), I cried. I was moved by the music, and I was moved by his thoughtfulness, and after I felt happy.

His thoughtful gesture got me thinking. What if someone needed a pick-me-up just like me? What if his old acquaintance reached out to him via Instagram DM to cheer him up? What if they reconnected and it leads to something more. What if…?

So I scribbled down a few bullet points, the seeds of an idea, and as on cue, JMS Books put out a submission call a short while later and I thought Hmmm?, found my notes, and started writing what turned into Moss and Eddy’s story.

Blurb #SlidingIntoMyDMs:

Cover“Hi. I heard you’ve been sick.”

Eddy Pennington is recovering from a severe bout of pneumonia when an old acquaintance, Moss, sends him a message on social media. They haven’t spoken in years, but Eddy is pleasantly surprised. He always liked Moss even if they were never close friends.

Moss Fanning has no ulterior motive with his message: all he wants is to wish Eddy a speedy recovery. He got over the crush he used to have on Eddy a long time ago.

They reconnect easily and have even more in common now. And when they meet in person, the attraction is instant. Will an innocent, well-meaning message on social media lead to something more? Something deeper? Something…everlasting?

M/M Contemporary / 21998 words

Buy links #SlidingIntoMyDMs

JMS Books :: Universal Buy Link

dog

Excerpt #SlidingIntoMyDMs:

I sink back onto my pillow tower and groan out loud. He’s just fucking perfect, isn’t he? Adopting an abused dog, spending his life coddling him, making sure he has a nice life.

What’s the catch? No one can be that good, right?

Eddy: Now I feel like a jerk for wanting to see your niece riding your dog. I’ll give him a doggy treat and apologize when I meet him.

Moss. LOL. Weirdo. You’re fine.

I decide to throw caution to the wind, because why not? Seriously though. Are you perfect? This time his answer takes a while and I have time to start regretting my question but then I can see him start writing and soon a reply pops up on my screen.

Moss: Um, no? But I’m glad you seem to think so 😉

I lay my phone screen down on my chest. I need to think. I haven’t flirted in so long, haven’t had a real relationship in forever. Hookups on Grindr are so much easier, with no expectations other than tab A in slot B. But this…this is flirting. I’m not great at flirting IRL, and probably even worse at in my Instagram DMs.

But at the same time, I kind of like it. It feels…unpretentious. Like it’s okay if nothing comes of it because social media isn’t the real world. Or at least it shouldn’t be.

I don’t know. I’m too old for this shit. And that thought alone makes me feel even older. I’m forty-two, not one-hundred-and-two. I pick the phone back up.

Eddy: You gotta love a man taking care of poor abused dogs. It’s the rule.

Moss: It is? What rules are those? I need to read them, so I don’t break any of them inadvertently.

Eddy: They are ‘Eddy Pennington’s unwritten but very important rules of conduct and man-loving’ of course. Sadly, they only exist in my brain so I can’t lend them to you.

Moss: I’m laughing so hard I woke up Balderik.

Eddy: Are you laughing at me or with me?

Moss: With you of course.

Eddy: Good save.

Moss: Balderik told me not to fuck things up before he’s had the chance to go for a walk with you.

Eddy: He did? He sounds like a very smart dog.

Moss: Are we flirting on social media like two old farts?

I burst out laughing but clamp my mouth shut quickly, afraid of a coughing fit.

Eddy: I’m afraid so, yes. I’m pretty certain there are grandpas out there with better game than us.

Moss: I was afraid you’d say that.

Eddy: It’s all good. At least we play in the same league.

Moss: So I can tell Balderik not to worry?

Eddy: Yes, you can. Also, you’re not supposed to make me laugh. Coughing is bad for an old guy with pneumonia 😉

Moss: We definitely need to stop the old guy references.

Eddy: Agreed.

Moss: When can we take you for a walk?

Eddy: My sister already got dibs on tomorrow. But the day after that? Unless I take a turn for the worse?

Moss: Thursday it is! If you send me your address, I’ll pick you up. Balderik and I know a perfect walking spot.

Eddy: Sure. Can’t wait.

Moss: Me either.

After we say goodbye, I send him the address and then check my feed. He’s posted a new picture of himself and Balderik. They’re lying down on a leaf-covered lawn somewhere, Moss’s arm is slung around Balderik, and Balderik is kissing his face.

It’s so fucking adorable I can’t stand it.

About Nell

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:

Webpage/blog :: Twitter :: Instagram :: Facebook Page :: Facebook Profile :: Goodreads :: Bookbub :: Pinterest

Guest Post | Be Still, My Heart by Holly Day

Release-Day

Today, we have Holly Day here to celebrate the release of her story, Be Still, My Heart. She’s put together a giveaway so make sure to read to the end of the post. Welcome, Holly!


Thank you for inviting me again, Ofelia, it’s always a pleasure to be here. I wrote a Valentine Story, can you imagine? I can’t *shakes head* LOL. It was one of those occasions when I was powerless of where the story was going.

I had been up early in the morning as most days, and I’d been writing with Nell Iris, talking about this voice in my head. To clear my mind – not easy when your mind is full of voices – I went on a walk.

keywords - 3The walk didn’t help at all. Instead, I came home with an entire scene painted in my mind. It was of this eccentric man walking into a dating agency looking for a last-minute date, not realising it wasn’t a rent-a-date-by-the-hour kind of place.

I knew how I wanted the story to be, but when I sat down to write, the words didn’t come. Elian Hubert – my eccentric professor – was clear in my mind, and yet I couldn’t find a flow. Dimitri Petrov, the guy behind the desk when Elian entered the dating agency was easy to write, but I struggled with Elian.

The next morning I talked it over with Nell, and she asked if I had to have both Elian’s and Dimitri’s POV. I didn’t. So this story is entirely from Dimitri’s point of view.

Excerpt:

“I… eh… am not a people person.”

The man barked a laugh. “Me either, hence my coming here for a date. Okay, I don’t care if she’s interesting or not, but please don’t give me one of those who look fit for the catwalk. I want her to be shorter than me, and I like a person who enjoys a good meal. Can I pick her up at six-thirty on the fourteenth? Or maybe we should make it six, so we aren’t late. She needs to be in a dress; it’s a formal dress code.” He scrunched his face again.

“Erm… I think you’ve misunderstood what we do.” They helped people find their true match, or, it was what the flyers claimed. “We don’t set people up with dates. It’s not an escort service.”

The man widened his eyes, took a step back, and looked around. “Where’s your sign? I could’ve sworn I read date somewhere on it.”

“Look… What’s your name?”

The man neared the counter again. “Elian Hubert.” He grinned and offered Dimitri his hand. Dimitri shook it, mostly because of this man’s odd behavior, and he didn’t know what else to do. Elian had long, slim fingers, not a callus in sight.

“I can write you down for an appointment with one of our matchmakers.”

Elian frowned. “What good would it do? I’m not picky. All I need is a plus one for dinner.”

“We’re here to help you find your true match, your soulmate.”

Elian rolled his eyes. “I don’t have time for a soulmate. I need a date for one night—one. It’s to make me look good.” He popped his hip out and made a swishy motion with his hand.

“I would look better next to a big strong man, but a woman will do. I’m not paying for sex, it’s a dinner date.”

Dimitri blinked, unable to decide if he should be offended or laugh. “This is not a bordello. Men come to us to find a wife or a steady girlfriend. They go through a lot of… screening.” It was a million questions. Dimitri had seen the forms. “And our dating agents find them the best match and then set them up on a date.”

Elian rolled his eyes again. “Look. Do you want to go on a date with me?”

Dimitri couldn’t breathe. A date? He hadn’t been on a date in years. Hadn’t touched a person other than doctors and nurses in longer than he could remember. He would avoid crowds for as long as he lived. “I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

“I’ll pay you.”

“I’m not a whore.” He kept a stony expression on his face, but part of him was amused by this vibrant creature being willing to pay him to go on a date.

Elian sighed. “I didn’t mean that you’d have to sleep with me.”

“But you want to pay me to dress up nice for you and act as arm candy.” He gestured at himself. “I’m not a pretty man.”

Elian’s eyes widened. “I beg to differ.”

“I’m not dating material.” Dimitri crossed his arms over his chest. He should stop talking.

“I’m not asking you to date me for more than one night.” Elian placed his hands on the counter and leaned in closer.

Dimitri narrowed his eyes. “What kind of date are we talking about?” He wouldn’t go.

“I wrote this—” He waved his hands, “—thing. And now they want me to speak at a dinner.”

Dimitri blinked. “You wrote a thing?”

“I teach history of literature at the university.” He motioned in the direction of the old stone building that had always fascinated Dimitri, but where he’d never dared set foot. He didn’t think of himself as stupid, but he wasn’t cut out for academics. Especially not now.

“And I wrote this piece for a magazine; it’s about love through time. They published it and, apparently, some know-it-all deemed it interesting and invited me to talk about it.”

“That’s great. Congratulations.”

Panic shone in Elian’s eyes as he shook his head. “No, I made it up.”

“What?”

“I… I’ve read a lot of books, you know, and in the old ones there is this pining, letter writing, rules—but in contemporary literature there’s a drunken text, a hook-up in an alley, or a werewolf fucking a zombie in a graveyard.”

Dimitri spluttered. Elian clearly read other books than he did.

Elian grinned. “I still haven’t found the last one, but I’m sure it’s out there.”

“So you didn’t write about zombies?”

“I can’t remember what I wrote.” He widened his eyes. “Which is why I don’t have time to find a date, I need to spend the following days coming up with something to support my theory. If I have a theory.” He shook his head. “It was a night of too much wine and a reverse harem, Mpreg erotica book.”

Dimitri looked around, hoping no one was listening to them. “I know what erotica is, but the rest… I have no idea what those mean.”

“Neither did I.” His chuckle did funny things to Dimitri’s heart. “So, can I pick you up at six?”

Shaking his head, Dimitri took a step back. “I don’t do well in crowds.” His hand slowly slid down to where his gun should have been.

Buy Links:

books2read.com/BeStillMyHeart
Be Still, My Heart in the JMS shop

Cover + Blurb - 20 Hearts

Giveaway:

I have put together a rafflecopter giveaway. I’m giving away an ebook copy of Be Still, My Heart + an ebook copy of Hop Hop, Carrot Top that was published last month. Click the link and you’ll be taken to the giveaway. If you’re up for a game, you can increase your chances of winning by counting hearts. How many hearts do you see in this post? Answer in the giveaway, and to increase your chances more visit Nell Iris’, A.L. Lester’s, and my blog and count the hearts there too ❤

About Holly Day

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 @ https://lnk.bio/xpae or visit her website @ hollydaywrites.wordpress.com

Fridays at Ofelia’s | Blue Jay

Guest-Post

Today, we have A. Zukowski here on a visit, talking London and their book Blue Jay. Welcome!


Writing genderqueer-ness in a journey through my city

London pride postboxBlue Jay is about two people: genderqueer AMAB Chris and bisexual Alex. Chris first emerged in book 2 of the London Stories series—Liam For Hire—as the main character’s best friend. Chris is funny and sad, aloof and caring—my favourite kind of character. They deserve a whole novel about them, to give them closure with love and sunshine! Writing the novel took a long time and a lot of soul searching. I built the story around Chris’s wry sense of humour, fierce independence, and aversion to all things romantic. Alex is a tough one to write since he tends to hide the strong emotions behind his tough façade.

I didn’t want to only make the queer character appear more ‘feminine’. Instead, I tried to challenge gender norms through language. All the pronouns they/them/he/him/she/her are used to refer to Chris throughout the book. I struggled to write them more than I could imagine, but the creative process also brought out the gender variance within me. The novel shows my struggles and my refusal to conform as much as that of the protagonists. The other character Alex is bisexual. Alas, I am more familiar with his socioeconomic background and mental health issues.

London-Street-Art

I love writing about London; pre-Covid, I was always walking the city streets, dreaming up stories that happen there. These places provide the perfect backdrops to the angsty, raw, and gritty urban scenes in this book. You won’t find the locations on a tourist map but they have their own histories and eccentrics.

When I was training as a screenwriter, my mentor (who used to produce for the BBC; she has retired now) asked me how I wanted the audience to feel after watching my plays. The readers of Blue Jay should cry and laugh (or smile) alongside the protagonists. I want them to feel uplifted, romantic and hopeful. All at the same time. I want to find all these emotions in a romance set in London that has dark stuff, too.
^_^

Blue Jay CoverThird part of the London Stories.

Boxing was all Alex had ever known, his entire being now shattered beyond repair. One night and four years in jail changed everything. These days, Alex prefers the shadows and dreams of nightmares. Will he find rainbows and glitters in the run-down flat he’s moving into?

Chris has been selling their looks and body for too long. It may be time for a life change, but one thing is clear. The fairest of them all will make a lousy lover until they stop acting the smart-mouthed and blasé cynic. Their story begins with an elegant tango up the narrow stairwell…

A match made in London.

Blue Jay is a hopeful and romantic story with genderqueer and bisexual characters. It can be enjoyed as a standalone.

Best of 2019 ~ Love Bytes Reviews, Electric Me
Delightfully dimensional main characters ~ Joyfully Jay
One of those stories that slowly grows on you and tugs at your heart ~ Divine Magazine
Profoundly emotional, eye-opening, thought-provoking story ~ Love Reading
I have absolutely loved this series…all about redemption, second chances and love. ~ Love Bytes Review

Tags: genderfluid, genderqueer, contemporary romance, LGBTQ, bisexual, prostitution, sex trade, depression

Beaten Track Publishing
93,600 words/290 pages
ISBN: 978-1-78645-368-6

Book links: Beaten Track (publisher): https://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/bluejay
Amazon: http://mybook.to/bluejay
Ebook: https://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/shop/proddetail.php?prod=bluejay_format
Paperback: https://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/shop/proddetail.php?prod=bluejay
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/957426?ref=b10track

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45288523-blue-jay

Extract

Chris has returned from the hotel after a quick wash. These days, they can’t get away from the appointments fast enough. Even luxurious hotel rooms hold little appeal.
Washed up. That’s what they are; they sigh silently.
For an escort who works late a lot, this lighting arrangement is highly inconvenient. Chris curses and walks up the stairs as fast as they can, almost running.
Forward step in a tango. Cruzada. An Argentine cross.
Bang! They bump into someone massive at the first turn. The impact knocks them back down several steps.
“Hey, you okay?” says a gruff voice.
“Shit.” Chris stops and feels their way around the walls to find the light switch.
It’s gone one in the fucking morning. Who is standing in the stupid stairway, blocking my way? When their hand touches the other person’s, they recoil. Long and strong fingers connect with theirs, sending a shot of electricity through them.
Chris finds the switch; they and the stranger are bathed in the bright light from the bare bulb once more. They squint, uncomfortable with the glare of the yellow hue. They really should get their eyes tested—if there was anything they could actually read.
“What the—” Chris exclaims.
The guy must be about six feet six and built like Hercules. He shoulders a large black holdall. Chris is stunned silent by the bulging biceps and arms, and exposed flesh covered by tattoos. The physique of the stranger contrasts with Chris, who’s tall and slim like a catwalk model.
Crap. The man had better not be a burglar.
Chris stops a shudder, not wanting to betray weakness. They weigh up their limited options. They highly doubt they can take on the hulk in the middle of the night. Summoning their best act of caution and confidence, their hand reaches for the pepper spray in their trouser pocket. Out of necessity, self-preservation has become part of their routine.
“Where are you going?” they ask, praying the man has a legitimate reason to be in the building.
“I’m looking for Flat Five.”
Holy shit. What does he want in my flat?

About A. Zukowski

I am a London-based British writer who grew up in the gay village and red light district of Manchester, UK.

I was trained in screenwriting at the University of the Arts, London; National Film & Television School and Script Factory, UK, followed by a series of misadventures as a film journalist, writer and producer of short films. My stories are based on personal and emotional experiences, and feature strong LGBTQ-identified characters.

Read more:

The Boy Who Fell to Earth (2017 #1 London Stories) http://amzn.to/2Ao90X4
Liam For Hire (2018 #2 London Stories) https://amzn.to/2T1Zod8
Courting Light (2018) http://mybook.to/CourtingLight
Turn Again to Life (2020) http://mybook.to/turnagaintolife

Social Media

Twitter: @saszazukowski
Blog: http://azukowskiblog.wordpress.com
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16509569.A_Zukowski
FB: http://www.facebook.com/a.zukowski.353
Booklikes: http://azukowski.booklikes.com/