Guest Post | Strike a Pose by Nell Iris

Guest-Post

Nell Iris is back! Today, she’s talking about Strike a Pose, and for the record, I don’t mind marble penises on covers, in rants or in blog posts LOL. Welcome, Nell!

Hi everyone and a huge thank you to Ofelia for once again letting me come for a visit and talk about my latest book, Strike a Pose. You’re most kind! 😘

Strike a Pose is written for World Naked Gardening Day which occurs on the first Saturday in May annually. I stumbled upon it somehow last year and told my lovely hostess’s alter ego Holly Day that she should write a story about it since she writes stories for all the weird and wonderful holidays out there as you know. Then A.L. Lester said we should all write stories with naked gardeners, and I promptly said yes. We enlisted a couple more people, the awesome K.L. Noone and Amy Spector, and started writing. So on May 7th, five stories with a Naked Gardening theme were released. The stories are all standalone and not related in any other way than the theme.

“Can you put marble penises on a book cover?” I asked Ofelia in the morning office one day, and I’m sure she almost choked on her coffee at my question but she’s too kind to complain. But I had a valid reason for my question. MC Didrik in Strike a Pose is a photographer, and he’s doing a photoshoot of his best friend’s father, Johan, for World Naked Gardening Day, and the theme for the shoot is statues. Didrik has Johan posing as famous (naked!) statues in his garden, so I wanted to put a picture of a statue on the cover. And for accuracy’s sake, and to connect it to the theme, I wanted it to be naked.

Hence my question.

As a Swede, I’m not bothered by pictures of genitalia (unless we’re talking dick pics: don’t send me one of those!!) like people can be, but when I browsed books about Michelangelo’s David on Amazon, he was conspicuously cropped so his marble junk wasn’t showing. It made me suspicious, which is why I asked Ofelia. She, as a fellow Swede, was on the same page as I (it’s marble, what’s the big deal?), but by then Ally Lester had joined us, and since she’s a sensible Brit she said, “you can probably not put marble penises on book covers.”

That made me sad. I had found some awesome stock photos I wanted to use. This glorious marble ass for example, but most of all I wanted this lovely, full-frontal, discus thrower. But even though Ally was adamant, I decided to ask my publisher JMS Books anyway. They promptly told me that no, you cannot put marble penises on book covers. Amazon does not approve…and they knew this from experience! 😁

But, despite not being allowed to put the full-frontal discus thrower on my cover, I’m very happy with the results. JMS Books’ cover artist, strategically put the title over the unacceptable marble body part (that was already covered, btw, here’s the original) so no one at Amazon would be offended. Everyone is happy!

Except for maybe poor Ofelia, who’s not only had to listen to me rant about marble penises on several occasions, but now I also write about them on her blog. 😁

Flaccid

Blurb: 

Didrik would do anything for his best friend, Filip, including taking pictures of Filip’s dad, Johan, for a charity calendar. Naked pictures, of beautiful, irresistible, wonderful Johan, who was single-handedly responsible for Didrik’s gay awakening. He was also happily married and unavailable…until he wasn’t.

After losing his husband five years ago, Johan finally seems ready to move on, and as they start the charity project, everything changes. With every meeting, every conversation, every pose for the camera, the attraction between them swells and grows, until it burns hot and threatens to consume them.

Their interactions, their relationship is surprisingly easy, but it’s not without its challenges. The age difference for one thing. Telling Filip for another. Is their connection enough to last? Can they overcome the hurdles to get the happily ever after they deserve?

M/M Contemporary / 17545 words

Buy links: 

JMS Books :: Amazon :: Books2Read

strikeapose

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

Excerpt: 

His gaze is immediately drawn to my drawings. “I’ve been curious since last night, please tell me what you’ve got.”

I nod and launch into an explanation of how I couldn’t make any of the actual gardening themes work, how they all felt wrong. “I promised you art,” I explain, “and that wasn’t it. It felt more like something the local gardening association would do. Not that it’s anything wrong with that, but it wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t right.”

He nods along with my explanation, his attention fixed on me. “So you came up with something else?”

I bob my head. “Statues!” 

“Statues?”

“Yes! I took a break from sketching because I was stuck and ended up watching a documentary about Michelangelo. The idea is that you pose as famous statues. It was David that sparked the idea—” I thumb through my sketchbook to find the drawing I’m talking about and turn it to him when I find what I’m looking for, “—like this. And then I started researching more classical statues. I found a bunch of them we could recreate. Hang on, I downloaded pictures.” 

I hand him my phone when I’ve found the folder with all the statues and watch him as he swipes through them. “There are more than twelve,” I say, “because not everyone might work. And you can pick which ones you like, and the ones you think CM would’ve liked. And of course, the ones you’re comfortable with. Or we can shoot them all and choose what pictures to include when we know how they turned out. And if you know of any statues I haven’t included, I’m open to suggestions.”

He gives me back my phone. “Show me more of your sketches.”

“I haven’t sketched them all out, but here, let me show you what I’ve got.” 

We go through all the drawings, and I explain my thought process, and he nods and hums in all the right places. He even offers some input, tapping his finger on the discus thrower. “I know a better spot for this one.” 

“Show me.” 

He stands and jumps off the porch, and I grab the sketchbook and my phone before I follow him. He takes me to a part of the garden I hadn’t paid attention to, a portion of the lawn that’s relatively free of other vegetation, and I see what he means. It’s easy to frame it like a sports field, with no trees or bushes that would catch the discus when thrown. 

“You’re right,” I mumble, and open the sketchbook to a blank page, but mutter when I realize I haven’t brought a pencil. “Let’s try it.”

“Now?”

“Mhm. I can use my phone for a test shoot.”

“Oh, okay. So what do you want me to do.” 

I grab his wrist and tug him gently until he follows me. “Stand here.” I fiddle with my phone until I find the image of the discus thrower. “Can I help you into the pose?”

“Yes.”

I proceed to mold and shape him like the statue; back arched, knees bent, his left hand resting against his right knee, and his right hand pulled back as though he’s about to hurl a discus across a field. His empty hand disturbs the vision, so I tuck my sketchbook into his hand. “Pretend this is a discus.”

He nods and I step back, crouching on the ground to see his pose from a different angle, opening my camera app to snap a few pictures to keep as a memory. I move to my left. “Look up at the discus,” I say. “You’re an athlete. A champion. You’re going to hurl that thing with all your strength and beat all the other champions.” 

He twists his head until his steady gaze is locked on the sketchbook, his eyebrows knitted together as though he’s concentrating on his mission. As though he’s mentally preparing himself for the throw of his life, and I start snapping some pictures. 

The light isn’t optimal, my camera phone is pretty crappy, he’s wearing modern clothes instead of being naked, and he’s not holding an actual discus, but none of those things matter. I can see it before me. The end result is going to be fabulous. “Yes,” I mumble. “Yes.” 

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Release Announcement: World Naked Gardening Day Gay Romance Novellas

Welcome to World Naked Gardening Day!

The World Naked Gardening Day stories are a collaboration between Holly DayNell IrisA. L. LesterK. L. Noone and Amy Spector. They comprise five MM romance novellas between sixteen and twenty thousand words, featuring being naked in a garden somehow, somewhere, to mark World Naked Gardening Day on 7th May 2022!

Release Date: 7th May 2022

Publisher: JMS Books LLC

Ofelia Grand (who also writes as Holly), Nell Iris and A. L. Lester write together in the early mornings in our Online Office. This involves a fair amount of chat and discussion about what we’re working on. As Holly, Ofelia writes stories to mark all the different holidays throughout the year and one day in December Nell and Ally were teasing her about what she should write next and joked that World Naked Gardening Day would be an excellent idea…and lo and behold, here are five of us writing on a similar theme. 

Warning! Deep Water! by A. L. Lester

Editor: Lourenza Adlem

LinksGoodreads :: JMS :: UBL

Celebrate World Naked Gardening Day with gay romance, 1940s England, hurt-comfort, swimming & salad vegetables!

warningdeepwaterIt’s 1947. George is going through the motions, sowing seeds and tending plants and harvesting crops. The nursery went on without him perfectly well during the war and he spends a lot of time during the working day hiding from people and working on his own. In the evening he prowls round the place looking for odd jobs to do.

It’s been a long, cold winter and Peter doesn’t think he’ll ever get properly warm or clean again. Finding a place with heated greenhouses and plenty of nooks and crannies to kip in while he’s recovering from nasty flu was an enormous stroke of luck. He’s been here a few days now. The weather is beginning to warm up and he’s just realised there’s a huge reservoir of water in one of the greenhouses they use to water the plants. He’s become obsessed with getting in and having an all-over wash.

What will George do when he finds a scraggy ex-soldier bathing in his reservoir? What will Peter do? Is it time for them to both stop running from the past and settle down?

The Death of Digby Catch by Amy Spector

Editor: Lourenza Adlem

LinksGoodreads :: JMS

thedeathofdigbycatchIt had been more than eighteen years since August Catch’s uncle Digby had disappeared to the Cape to mourn the death of his sister. So, when August arrives at Arachne’s Loom to collect his late uncle’s things, he wasn’t expecting to find stories of a man larger than life. Or the very real possibility that Digby’s death may not have been from natural causes.

Theo Webb has had few people in his life that he loved, and fewer still he could trust. But the estate groundskeeper, Digby Catch, had been one of them. Returning home for his funeral, he’s thrown together with Digby’s nephew, and the attraction is instant. But so is Theo’s certainty that things surrounding Digby’s death don’t add up and that at least one person isn’t telling the truth.

Discovering a killer is difficult when someone is desperate to keep more than just their identity a secret. And when all the clues point in one direction, even Theo isn’t sure what to think. The two of them must work together if they’re going to solve a murder, and not let the thing growing between them be a distraction.

 But then, maybe a distraction is exactly what they need.

The Hermit of Aldershill Manor by K.L. Noone

Editor: Lourenza Adlem

LinksGoodreads :: JMS

thehermitofaldershillmanorCharlie Ash is ready to start a new job and a new life at Aldershill Manor. As a historian, he’s thrilled to dive into the estate’s archives. And he can hide from all the memories of his messy break-up back in California, where the man he’d thought he’d marry left him instead. He can find solace in exploring Aldershill’s famous gardens…until he’s caught in the rain, and found by a gardener.

Lionel Briar enjoys making people happy, as long as he doesn’t have to talk to them. He does not like tourists, small talk, or social obligations. But he does like plants and history and his job, taking care of Aldershill’s historic gardens, helping beauty grow. 

So when Lionel discovers the estate’s adorable new historian caught in a summer thunderstorm in his gardens, he offers Charlie the shelter of his home on the grounds…a moment of rescue that could bloom into more

Strike a Pose by Nell Iris

Editor: Trace Edward Zaber

LinksJMS Books :: Goodreads : : UBL

Less Gardening, More Nakedness

strikeaposeDidrik would do anything for his best friend, Filip, including taking pictures of Filip’s dad, Johan, for a charity calendar. Naked pictures, of beautiful, irresistible, wonderful Johan, who was single-handedly responsible for Didrik’s gay awakening. He was also happily married and unavailable…until he wasn’t.

After losing his husband five years ago, Johan finally seems ready to move on, and as they start the charity project, everything changes. With every meeting, every conversation, every pose for the camera, the attraction between them swells and grows, until it burns hot and threatens to consume them.

Their interactions, their relationship is surprisingly easy, but it’s not without its challenges. The age difference for one thing. Telling Filip for another. Is their connection enough to last? Can they overcome the hurdles to get the happily ever after they deserve?

Perfect Rows by Holly Day

LinksGoodread :: JMS Books :: books2read.com/PerfectRows

Everything would’ve been perfect if Grayson hadn’t been forced to share his garden with Cam.

perfectrowsEverything would’ve been perfect if Grayson Dawe hadn’t been forced to share his garden with Camden Hensley. Grayson has everything he needs in life—a job, friends, a house he loves, and a garden. He wants to grow enough vegetables to cover his needs over the summer, and he has a plan for how to achieve it. 

Camden Hensley loves his garden. He loves beautiful flowers in perfect rows, sweet scents and buzzing bees, but his neighbor, Grayson, messes everything up. He mixes vegetables with flowers in the growing beds and is incapable of placing plants in straight lines. And when Cam pulls out the plants growing in the wrong place, Grayson snarls at him. 

Grayson doesn’t want to fight with Camden, but he’s completely unreasonable. Cam only wants Grayson to stop creating chaos and to grow flowers instead of vegetables. Neither of them is willing to back down, and days in the garden usually end in shouting matches, at least until Grayson realizes he can shut Cam up by kissing him. But will they ever be able to agree about what plants should grow where? 

About Us!

You can find out more about The World Naked Gardening Day writers on our websites, Holly DayNell IrisA. L. LesterK. L. Noone and Amy Spector. We hope you have as much fun reading the stories as we did writing them!

All Naked stories

Update | Change of Plans

“Success in life is not how well we execute Plan A; it’s how smoothly we cope with Plan B.”

– Sarah Ban Breathnach

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It’s update time and my plan has gone to hell LOL Part of me is relieved. I was supposed to have submitted a Hugs or Kisses story by the end of last month, but… I was writing, and I was in a great flow, and then I hit 11k and the either-or stories have a max limit of 12k and I was nowhere near the end. So I emailed JM and said I won’t be able to do it.

I would’ve loved to continue on that story but since I still have other deadlines, I put it aside for now. I’ll get back to it later because I really liked writing it, and I’m 11.322 words in, so… 

I haven’t decided if this means I won’t do the either-or stories or not. Since I’ve written them all as a series it would feel weird to jump ahead, though they are pretty much standalone so I guess I could. We’ll see.

Right now, I’m writing on a Dozen story. It doesn’t have a title yet – I hate when stories don’t have a title, there will always be some panicked moments right before it’s time to submit it when I desperately try to come up with something. Anyway, JMS Books is turning 12 in July, so there will be a lot of stories that have something to do with 12, much like we did when JMS Books turned 9. I wrote Nine Stones then 😄

And after that, I’ll tackle Holly’s August story. We’re moving forward, people!

Since the last update post, I’ve written 25 092 words, which brings me up to 111 988 words so far this year. I’m 42.95% done, though we’ll see about that. I think I’ll need more than the 250 000 words I’ve written as my goal to get all the stories done. Time will tell. If I keep the same speed I have now, I’ll have written 250 000 words by November 25 – I think I’ll need them sooner than that LOL