Guest Post | Wake Him with a Kiss by Nell Iris

Guest-Post

Hello again, Ofelia and Ofelia’s fabulous readers. It’s me. Nell. I’m visiting so often I should be awarded VIP status, don’t you agree? 😊 I’m immensely grateful to have friends as awesome as Ofelia who lend their space for me to promote my stories. Friends like that are the greatest!

Today I’m here to talk about my new short story Wake Him with a Kiss.

“He’s going to get his first tattoo. Write me a story.” That was the message I got from my dear friend Kris T. Bethke, followed by a link to this picture. I’d complained to her that I needed to write a short story for a thing but had no inspiration. And she’s great; I often turn to her when I need a listening ear or someone who understands, and this time was no different. And she delivered.

“He’s going to get his first tattoo.” Who is he? Why is he getting his first tattoo? Is there a particular reason, is he commemorating something? And how can I turn this into something romantic in less than 10K words? These were all questions swirling around in my head after receiving the message until I was struck by an idea. If I’d been a cartoon character, a light bulb would have gone off above my head.

A picture can be a great inspiration. My very first published story, Unconditionally, was inspired by an image. One day, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and stopped on an amazing picture of a sad-looking man, sitting down, dressed only in a veil. Lots of questions popped up in my head. Who is he? Why is he sad? Why is he only wearing a bridal style veil and nothing else?

Questions, questions, questions are often the thing that inspires my stories. Whether it’s from a picture, a line in a song, or something I watch on TV. Sometimes it’s something I observe in real life. And I find it very interesting. Inspiration is an intriguing thing. Intriguing and weird and funny and awe-inspiring, and when it hits me, I grab it with both hands and don’t let go.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Freckles

Excerpt:

But whatever it is she’s referring to, it lessens Lo’s tension. He meets my gaze, and this time when he opens his mouth, words spill out. “I came out to my family. It’s ridiculous to wait until you’re thirty-four, but they’re very religious, and…I’ve heard them say things that led me to believe they wouldn’t accept me.”

My stomach drops. I can’t believe people are still bigoted assholes in this day and age. And it doesn’t help how many stories I’ve heard over the years; it never gets easier.

I lean closer. “How did they take it?”

Lo’s grimace says everything I need to know. “Not great. Not as horrible as I feared, but not good. They asked me to give them time and don’t come see them for a while. Despite that, I’m…relieved. Living a lie is fucking exhausting.”

I nod. “I know.”

He looks at me, taking all of me in. His gaze lingers at the pride tattoo on my left wrist and the rainbow bracelet on the other then finds its way up my body until he meets my eyes. Searching. Finding whatever answers he’s looking for if the barely noticeable nod is something to go by. “How did your family react? If you don’t mind me asking?”

“I don’t mind. It was a long time ago. I came out to my parents before going to university. Always the rebel, always at odds with them. They probably took it worse than your family. My mom never spoke to me again, but my dad reached out to me after she died. We’re trying to mend fences but it’s not easy.”

“I’m sorry,” he says.

“Thank you. But I’m fine. We weren’t close. I tested their limits at every turn, and they resented me for it. And anyway, a long time has passed since. I don’t know if I’ll ever trust my dad again, but it means something that he reached out, you know?”

His gaze on me is intense and I can feel it all the way in my stomach. “Yeah. But how do you forgive someone for rejecting you for who you are?”

His question makes me lean back in my chair. I’ve never thought about it. Just continued my life as I did before my father called me after twenty years of radio silence. As though I’m waiting for him to hurt me again. Never fully trusting his intentions or opening up to him.

“I don’t know,” I say.

Lo nods as if saying “yeah, that’s what I thought.” He has a point. But it’s also not who I want to be.

“But I can’t let that define me,” I say. “I refuse to be a tragic statistic. Maybe kids are unrealistic in thinking their parents will have their backs no matter what. It’s not like you become a great human being just because you created a new life; anyone with functioning equipment can do that. If you were shitty and bigoted before, becoming a parent won’t magically change that. Changing who you are take lots of work. So I guess I gave up hope on them and found my own family instead. Much like you’ve done.” I nod to Nina, who nods at my words.

Lo reaches out and tugs her ponytail again, and this time she lets him. “He’s right, Lo-Lo,” she says. Lo smiles at her, and nods. The look they share is private and I avert my eyes and let them have their moment.

“All right,” Nina says a few seconds later. “Let’s get this show on the road. I haven’t got all day.”

That breaks the intimacy of the moment and we all straighten our backs and go back to business. “Tell me what you’d like,” I say as I take out my portfolio for him to look through.

“I’m probably a walking cliché, but I’d like a rainbow. On my wrist.”

“Nah. Nothing cliché about it,” I say

Blurb:

Wake Him With A KissWhen Lo is dragged into the tattoo shop by his bossy cousin, he steals everyone’s attention. The big man is afraid of needles but wants a tattoo to celebrate an important moment in his life. And he wants Amos to do it.

Tattoo artist Amos is mesmerized by Lo from the moment he lays eyes on him. He’s huge but kind, strong but gentle, and his freckles…God, his freckles.

They hit it off immediately, but Lo grows nervous as the big moment approaches. Will Lo flee from the tattoo machine before they have time to get to know each other? Before they have the time to see if the sparks will turn into something more?

M/M Contemporary / 6926 words

Buy link:

JMS Books :: Amazon :: Books2Read

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:

Newsletter :: Webpage/blog :: Twitter :: Instagram :: Facebook Page :: Facebook Profile :: Goodreads :: Bookbub :: Pinterest :: Ko-Fi

Fridays at Ofelia’s | There Will Be Aliens

Guest-Post

Hi! Holly here again 😀 Aliens, nay or yay?

On March 20th, it was Extraterrestrial Abductions Day, and I didn’t think we should let the day slip us by without giving it some special love, so I wrote a story…

There Will Be Aliens is an M/M version of the Mars Needs Women trope without being Mpreg. We have a planet called Negudade and they have a problem there. For some reason, the inhabitants have lost most of their emotions and the females no longer want to have children.

In an attempt to save the future of the planet, they sent a small group of males to Earth to capture a group of women. Their hope is by mating the human women, they’ll be able to have offspring able to feel and, in the future, want families of their own.

The idea of a species with human traits but with numbed emotional responses fascinates me. It’s not a huge part of the story, it’s the reason the Negudade come to Earth, but it’s something I’d love to explore more in another story on some future occasion.

Carlo, one of the main characters, was never meant to be taken, but when the aliens tried to take his best friend, Grace, he fought them, and Zenon, the captain of the spaceship, is far more interested in Carlo than any of the women they are to capture.

Extraterrestrial-Abduction-Day

Excerpt:

Zenon watched one creature stand. It was male. He’d seen pictures of them so they’d know what not to take, but this man… He had fair skin, no visible claws or fangs. Zenon suspected he could’ve watched him for years and not grow bored. His eyes changed shape, his facial expression—he’d never seen anyone show so much emotion. He didn’t know if anyone on Negudade could harbor as much emotion.

Their information claimed Earthlings didn’t have fangs or claws, and the man didn’t show any, but Zenon had his doubts. A species wouldn’t survive if they couldn’t defend themselves, and there were animals on Negudade that looked harmless until threatened—then teeth, claws, spikes, or poison appeared.

He hoped they weren’t poisonous.

Be careful of them.” He nodded at Brox to attack from the right as he edged to the left.

Brox spoke in a low voice. “I’ll take the female, you disarm the male.”

He appeared disarmed already, but Zenon nodded. He expected the male would run off to save himself. A Negudade would unless they were on a contract to protect the person they were with. He took a quick step forward, so he could catch the man when he tried to escape.

The female screamed, and the man, instead of running off, hit Brox in the jaw when he tried to grab her. Zenon stared. What was he doing?

Anek took a step forward, but Ghurva didn’t as much as twitch.

Zenon studied Brox, but he looked unaffected by the blow.

Why isn’t he running?” Brox touched his jaw. “He’s not strong.”

The man glanced at them, looked over his shoulder at the female, and said something. Zenon had a language chip embedded, everyone on the ship did, but he couldn’t make sense of what the male said. Perhaps he was breaking their contract. It was the smartest thing he could do.

Water spilled from the female’s eyes. “Is the female ill?” He didn’t look away from the Earthlings. When no reply came, he glanced at Ghurva. “Ghurva?”

I don’t know.”

The male doesn’t appear alarmed by the symptoms.” Anek took another step forward. “It’s most likely not contagious, or he’d moved away.”

A strange tightness wrapped around Zenon’s ribcage. Could the male be infected by whatever the female had?

Then the man nodded, and as he took a step forward, the female jumped down on the other side of the strange wide outdoor chair. She ran.

Shall I go get her?”

Zenon nodded at Brox. “Anek, follow in case there are more Earthlings around.” He took a step forward, and when the man tried to hit him, he caught his arm and secured him—though careful not to touch any of the pale skin in case it was covered in poison—and slung him over his shoulder. He’d expected him to weigh more. He was short but didn’t look unhealthily thin, so he should’ve weighed more.

Where are you taking him?” Ghurva gave him a curious look—no one he’d ever met could give curious looks except Ghurva. Another sign he wasn’t like most Negudade.

I’m bringing him.”

No.”

Zenon bared his teeth. “Are you questioning me?”

Captain.” Ghurva nodded, Zenon assumed to let him know Ghurva was aware of his status, but he kept on talking so it didn’t make a difference. “Our orders are ten females. No males.”

I’m taking him for me. We have space and supplies for one more. I will have none of the females.”

Ghurva shook his head. Watching him made Zenon dizzy. Why couldn’t he be like normal people and tell him what he meant instead of using gestures?

No, but—”

Enough.” Zenon strode toward the ship while the female’s scream came closer and closer.

Blurb:

therewillbealiens - smallCarlo Russo is having the worst day. Not only has he lost his job, caught his boyfriend cheating, and had one too many shots with his best friend Grace, now he’s seeing aliens too. Big, black, tail-equipped aliens. After a futile struggle, he and Grace find themselves on a spaceship leaving Earth.

Zenon Scoreceds Qhainqons doesn’t know what it is about the earthling male. Their mission is to bring back ten females in hopes of them being able to provide their planet with children, but he wants the male. What he’s going to do with the male, he doesn’t know, but he’s claiming him as his payment for going on the mission.

Carlo doesn’t approve of kidnapping, but the aliens aren’t too bad, and once the language chip is installed, he finds it entertaining to talk to them. Zen in particular. They’re standoffish and never show any emotion, but Carlo has no problem cuddling up next to Zen at night.

All Zenon wants is to spend time with Carlo, but it’s his job to get them all home in one piece. Will he be able to keep Carlo safe from all the dangers lurking along the trip? He has to because Carlo is his, and he’s not letting him go.

Buy Links

books2read/ThereWillBeAliens :: Amazon.com :: JMS Books

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 | Eight Acts

Guest-Post

The lovely A.L. Lester is here on a visit. If you think being a writer is to sit down and create fantastical worlds when and if you feel like it, you’ve misunderstood what it is we do. Being a writer is amazing, but at times it’s super hard, crippling even. Today, Ally will tell you about one part of being an author people seldom think about.

Bloggers Block

I have spent a few days this week like a rabbit paralysed in the headlights of this blogpost. I just couldn’t think of anything relevant or entertaining to write about Eight Acts (new release, see below etc etc!) and it’s been stressing me out massively. So this morning, as I was attempting to trim Mr AL’s hair and moaning at him about it whilst he was pinned down and couldn’t escape, he finally said well, why don’t you write about how difficult it is to write things? I stabbed his ear with the kitchen scissors and said that seemed like a good idea.

So that’s what this is about.

Eight Acts is a companion novella to Taking Stock…they can be read independently, but some of the characters cross over. Taking Stock was a labour of love really. It fell out of my own frustration at my body’s inability to do what I want it to, my mother having a stroke as I was writing it and my recollections of the farming community where I grew up. It had a strong cast of supporting characters and Adrian and Percy were sufficiently interesting for me to want to explore their relationship too. The novella itself just seemed to flow out of me after Taking Stock was done.

Sometimes that’s how it is. But sometimes squeezing words out is a horrible, painful process that isn’t enjoyable at all. For some reason, writing blog posts and guest pieces for other people has been like that this time round. I have written for our friend Nell Iris and I wrote something for LoveBytes as part of a blogtour. But now, I’m stuck. I was going to try and do another couple of things for myself and for the JMS blog, but I can’t seem to get to it.

I’m not sure whether this is because Eight Acts is quite short for me—it’s just over twenty thousand words—or whether it’s because it deals with a difficult subject. Although gay sex was legalised to some degree in the UK in the summer of 1967, harassment and social and legal consequences were still commonplace. I am very conscious that these are real things and real people I have written about and I think that maybe that is why I’m finding it hard to write five hundred words of froth to grab people’s interest.

I’m also having trouble with my next ‘big project’ though, so perhaps it’s not that at all. Perhaps I’m just in a slow period. Instead of finishing the first book of my new trilogy (out in July!), I have been distracting myself by writing short love stories around Celtic myths that aren’t in my usual style at all and self-publishing them. I think perhaps because I don’t have anything invested in them, it’s something I’m doing for myself rather than anyone else—if anyone else likes then then, yay!—it’s not a pressure. Whereas writing to meet commitments is intrinsically more stressful.

I think this has been a very hard year for lots of people and I keep telling myself that it’s okay to have a few off days, especially since the kids have now gone back to school and Mr AL and I have time for personal care, cutting one-another’s hair/ears, and sleeping in the afternoons! I’m hoping that when I’m more rested, when Littlest has had her jab and is safer, the words will flow more easily. I don’t know about you, but I could do with everything flowing a bit more easily after the last twelve months.

So, without further ado, here is some stuff about Eight Acts.

Eight Acts

Eight Acts

It’s the summer of 1967 and the Sexual Offences Act has just decriminalized consensual gay sex in private between two men over twenty-one. Percy Wright and his friend Les Barker have both taken temporary jobs teaching English as a foreign language in London during their long summer break from teaching at a rural boarding school near Oxford.

Thirty-three year old Percy is keen to soak up some theatre, music and general culture, whilst the younger Les is also keen to experience the varied gay social scene. When Les picks up a man called Phil at the box office of the Albert Hall when he goes to buy tickets to a Promenade Concert, Percy inadvertently gets thrown together with Adrian Framlingham, Phil’s friend.

Adrian is all the things Percy likes in a man…funny, kind and steady. When Les gets hurt, Percy turns to Adrian for support, but as the end of the summer looms it seems as if their affair will come to a natural end.

What will happen when Percy goes back to his everyday life as a house-master? Will he and Adrian stay in touch? Does he even want a long-distance relationship when arranging to meet someone for sex is still illegal, even if the act itself is not?

A 20k novella that’s set five years before Taking Stock. Stand alone.

Buy Eight Acts

About A. L. Lester

A.L. Lester

Writer of queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense. Lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a badly behaved dachshund, a terrifying cat and some hens. 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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