Wider availability of audiobooks

Audiobook cover: Lost in Time

Right, I have a New Thing!

As some of you will know, there’s a HUGE fuss in audiobook-world about the lack of transparency in the way Amazon/Audible treats authors. It’s all boring back-room stuff that you can find detailed elsewhere if you’re desperately interested; but what it boils down to is that although Audible is a huge market, it’s not a straightforward one for authors to navigate and that makes me sad and stressed.

So…ta da! Drum roll! Etc! My audiobooks are going wide! I have taken the two 1920s London books down and moved them everywhere else in the entire universe! Inheritance of Shadows will follow later this month. If I can work out how to get them back up on Audible once the dust has settled from extracting them, I’ll do that. New releases will definitely go up elsewhere before they go to Audible.

Audibook Cover: Shadows on the Border
Shadows on the Border Audio

The really, really good thing about this is that I can now set my own prices and have a great deal more control over all of that. I have signed up to the Author’s Direct platform which gives me a level of control that sings to my obsessive soul and also gives authors 70% of the cover price. So if you choose to use that one, you can buy Lost in Time and Shadows on the Border for $7.99 each! You can also find them on all the other apps like Apple, Chirp and Scribd for similar ball-park prices.

Happy listening!

Interview: Luna Tibling

Please welcome Luna Tibling today to talk a bit about themselves and their new release!

Hi Luna, thank you so much for coming along today! Why have you decided to subject yourself to my nosy questions?

I’ve recently released the first 2 books in my LGBT+ romance series, Beyond the Binary! I’m super excited to share my work, and hope it will speak to fellow members of the community and allies alike.

What started you writing?

I’ve enjoyed writing stories since childhood, and would often start random projects with no idea where they were going. I’ve now realised that my passion is writing wholesome LGBT+ stories that are accessible both to those within the community and without.

Where do you write?

I rent a room in a shared house, so that’s where I usually write, but when the weather is good I like to scribble ideas in the park.

What do you like to read? 

I don’t read nearly as much as I write, but one of my favourite authors is Jodi Picoult. The way her complex characters speak frankly to the reader has been a big influence on my work.

What are the three books you’d take to a desert island? Why would you choose them?

This would have to be split between one adult novel, one children’s book and one poetry book:

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult – this is my favourite of her books. It features a woman who separates from her husband and finds herself falling in love with another woman. Opposing views are presented compellingly and the lesbian relationship is treated with great sensitivity.

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss – did you know he wrote this in order to win a bet with his publisher that he could write a whole book using only 50 different words?

The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear – Lear is one of the poets who have inspired me most, along with Lewis Carroll, Hilaire Belloc, Ogden Nash, Edgar Allan Poe, Roald Dahl and Spike Milligan.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I do an exercise routine every morning, and love going for walks, especially when I need inspiration. Besides writing, my main creative outlet is acting; I have been a member of two amateur theatre groups for many years. I also like to play the keyboard, but am not especially good.

I love cats too! Who doesn’t?

Tell me a little bit about your most recent release. What gave you the idea for it? How long did it take to write? What did you enjoy about writing it? What did you hate?

Skylar, the protagonist of the series, has many similarities to me: they are non-binary, in their twenties, suffer from depression and write poetry as a means of coping. I had wanted to write a story about a character like Skylar for several years, but I had no plot to go with the raw concept. It turned out that leaving my job to focus my energy on writing was what I needed to be able to develop the idea.

It took me about four months to write the first two books. It was a great challenge, but very rewarding on a personal level: it has been a pleasure to pour my own experiences into fictional stories that represent the LGBT+ community in a positive light. Although a lot of progress has been made in recent years, we still see too much media that encourages people to see LGBT+ characters as nothing more than objects of desire, novelty or simply comic relief.

I don’t stop at having a non-binary protagonist; Skylar is in a polyamorous relationship with a trans man and a cis man, and their friends include a trans woman who comes out during the story, a pair of queerplatonic partners and an asexual person. Some of these characters haven’t been explored in great depth yet, but will be in future instalments.

How I found myself

The introductory novella to the series, How I Found Myself, is available for free here.

Barry is aggressive, abusive and the most prejudiced individual Skylar has ever met.

Following their dad’s premature death, Skylar had hoped that their mum would find a new boyfriend, but she couldn’t have chosen a worse man: it has been clear to Skylar from the beginning that Barry will not accept them for who they are.

Skylar already struggles to fight against their own depression, but now that Barry is in their life to stay, they face the possibility of alienating themself from their one remaining parent. The best hope Skylar has of overcoming both obstacles is the support from their love life, but it would be impossible to reason with Barry if he knew the nature of the relationship…

The tension and uncertainty increase with each day the issue goes unresolved. Skylar will have to face Barry eventually, but how can they do that, and what will be the consequences?

They certainly won’t be doing it alone.

The first full-length novel, How I Found Ariana, can be purchased here

Find Luna: Facebook :: Instagram

The (Rubbish) Week That Was

Last week was rough. I think I had a bit of a post-vaccination slump, but also, Littlest is so, so bored that things have become untenable. She doesn’t understand why she can’t go to school and she’s fed up with being at home with us all the time. Twice a week a carer takes her out for a couple of hours for a walk round in the woods—rain or shine, she’s a machine. But it’s not enough.

Every single moment of every single day, Littlest needs someone there with her. Unless she’s plugged into her iPad—but at the moment, she doesn’t want her ipad, she wants either my phone or Mr AL’s. If I need to use the phone she tugs at my arm and screams incessantly whilst I’m making the call, unless Mr AL is there to either occupy her or give her his.

Currently she is sat beside me in her wheelchair feeding Morris Skips. He’s delighted. She’s delighted. But when she runs out I’m either going to have to pacify her with my phone, or stop work and go and do an activity with her. But nothing holds her interest…a story, colouring, stickers, dolls house, brushing the guinea pigs, video calling with grandma, cutting things up, glitter, feeding the hens, duplo, music. You get about twenty minutes concentration for each activity, max. As much as we can we are trying to involve her in the household processes. ‘Helping’ pass laundry to fold, unloading the dishwasher—she can manage to hand someone the cutlery and some of the smaller plates, hoovering is hilarious, so is dusting. She sometimes plays Dora the Explorer or World Zoo on the Wii, but she does find that tiring.

Once she gets bored, she starts throwing things on the floor. Her doll’s furniture, DVDs, TV and Wii remotes, books, toys from the toy shelves. Cutlery. Crockery. We have tried sending her to her room for some quiet time, which at least gives us a break, but it doesn’t change her behaviour. We can’t leave her alone with a book any longer because she has begun to rip pages out.

There is nothing to bribe her with like I can with Talking Child—there’s nothing she overtly wants. And threatening to remove internet privileges etc. is pointless. She has no concept of punishment and reward.

This is on top of all the usual tube feeding, personal care, making-sure-she’s-not-choking-on-her-own-secretions, physiotherapy, phone-calls with professionals, ‘ordinary’ stuff.

My seizures are through the roof. Mr AL is randomly falling asleep mid afternoon like I remember doing when I was pregnant (he is not pregnant).

I have spent the last week finding out about vaccinations for Extremely Clinically Vulnerable children. There is apparently an expectation that there are between 1,500 and 2,000 children between the ages of twelve and fifteen who are fragile enough to need the Pfizer vaccine although the clinical trial for that age group is not yet completed. I have found a document with criteria from the NHS that strongly suggests Littlest falls into that category. A handful of Mr AL’s friends on the SWAN (Syndromes Without A Name) facebook group have kids under fifteen who have had it, their paediatricians working in tandem with Great Ormond Street.

I have phonecalls in to her two leading Paediatricians.

Regardless though…we have arranged with school that she is going back in on a Tuesday and a Thursday from the end of this week. Mr AL is going to take her rather than the school bus. Her class has six children and they don’t interact with the rest of the school. The teachers have all had their first vaccine dose, as have we and as have her carers.

We have kicked it around with our palliative care nurse, with school, with the children’s hospice, with other parents and we have made the decision because she’s clearly jumping out of her skin…her mental health is rubbish and Mr AL and I are going to snap before long—it’s happened before, before we got help with her care, a few years ago, and I recognise the signs.

I hate this shitty, shitty situation. I know everyone else does too, we are all in the same situation on one level or another. But I guess I needed to vent…and if you feel like this too, you’re not alone.

We’re here with you.

Please welcome a Dynamic Duo!

Ofelia Gränd and Nell Iris are here this week in a tandem takeover!

As you know, Ofelia, Nell and I write together regularly, along with JM Snyder. They start at 6AM Swedish time, which is a horrific 5am for me and very late at night for JM, so I tend to come in to the chatroom late. They’re very tolerant of my unreliablity though, and have popped in today to talk about their respective new releases. The post alternates between the two of them, and I’ve given them each a different colour background! Take it away, Nell and Ofelia!

First of all, we’d like to express our eternal gratitude to the lovely Ally for lending us the blog so we can talk about our new releases. Thank you, you’re the best! 😘

Our new books #PictaBook (by Ofelia) and #SlidingIntoMyDMs (by Nell) are both a part of a multi-authored series released by JMS Books, our publisher. 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 #PictaBook and #SlidingIntoMyDMs.

We write together early most mornings (meeting in a chatroom for JMS’ authors, very fitting for the topic, don’t you think? 😊 ) and we both loved the idea and jumped to the chance of joining in. We spent last summer writing our #Love stories, but we chose different approaches. While Nell chose to set her story on an existing SM platform, Instagram, Ofelia took the other route of creating her own, PictaBook. And we’re here today to tell you about why.

Nell Iris image. "It all started with a DM on Instagram" Available now!
#SlidingIntoMyDMs by Nell Iris

The inspiration for my story was a real-life Instagram DM from an old acquaintance of mine I haven’t seen in years (read more about it on Ofelia Gränd’s blog if you’re interested) so I already had the idea written down when the submission call landed in my inbox. So I picked up my favorite fountain pen and started to write, definitely thinking that Instagram should be my platform.

But Ofelia telling me she was making up a new SM platform for her story made me pause. Should I, too, come up with my own platform? There are some obvious advantages to it, the prime one being it won’t be so dated. If Instagram was to be taken down tomorrow, that can make the story feel old and less relevant, as though you today, in 2021, were to pick up a book about MySpace. On the other hand, current readers know Instagram. It’s a well-known phenomenon so it’s easy for people to visualize when reading.

After going a bit back and forth, I decided to stick with my original idea of having Eddy and Moss reconnect on Instagram since it was the thing that gave me the idea in the first place.

Or maybe I just wasn’t creative enough to come up with a completely new social media platform like Ofelia… whose PictaBook I’d sign up for in a heartbeat if it were real.

PictaBook Image

#PictaBook by Ofelia Gränd

The idea of #PictaBook came as soon as the call for #Love appeared in the inbox. I don’t know what it was, but the characters came to life in my mind. From the start, I knew my platform would be book-related, but Booklikes and LibraryThing never caught my interest, and I wanted my platform to be simpler than Goodreads. So that’s how PictaBook was born. 

PictaBook is a hashtag and picture-based platform. Much like Goodreads’ shelves you can organize your books, but you’re using hashtags to do it. In the book, one of the characters describe it as Instagram but for books only. That’s what I was going for – no reviews, just a picture, and hashtags.

Part of the reason I didn’t want there to be long written reviews is that Phoenix, one of the main characters, is dyslexic, and I wanted him to discover books without facing more text than necessary. Also, wouldn’t it be nice to list the books you’ve read by using a few hashtags and a picture? I’d like a platform like that LOL.

So was I more creative than Nell by coming up with a platform of my own? Nah, it was pure and simple laziness. I wanted a platform that fit my story, and PictaBook does. Though, now I wish someone would build it 😀

#SlidingIntoMyDMs, Nell Iris
Cover, Sliding into my DM's by Nell Iris

“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 #SlidingIntoMyDMs: JMS Books :: Universal Buy Link

#PictaBook, Ofelia Grand
Cover, PictaBook by Ofelia Grand

Jules Rose leads a quiet life working as a librarian. He’s happy to spend his spare time reading books and talking to his homicidal cat. What more could he wish for? But when his cozy Friday night is shattered by a friend request on his book community app, politeness gives him little choice but to accept. Jules doesn’t want to talk to anyone, but he can’t be rude. Besides, if he had to talk about something, books is the topic he’d pick.

Phoenix Ford is dyslexic and avoids everything that has to do with the written word, but when the colleague he’s trying to impress calls him stupid, he decides to convince the other man, he’s mistaken. All he needs is the right book to make him look smart, a perfect balance between intelligent and short. And who better to ask for help than a guy who loves books so much, he labeled one boner-worthy on a book app?

When Jules finds out Phoenix never has read a book from start to finish, he’s on a mission. He will find the right book, the book that will make Phoenix fall in love—with reading. Phoenix’s plan might have been to listen to the book Jules picked for him to impress his colleague, but that was before he got to know him. Talking about books is a sure way to Jules’ heart, but is it enough for him to agree to go on a date?

M/M Contemporary / 36559 words

Buy #PictaBook: JMS Books

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

About Ofelia

Ofelia Gränd is Swedish, which often shines through in her stories. She likes to write about everyday people ending up in not-so-everyday situations, and hopefully also getting out of them. She writes romance, contemporary, paranormal, Sci-Fi and whatever else catches her fancy.

Her books are written for readers who want to take a break from their everyday life for an hour or two.

When Ofelia manages to tear herself from the screen and sneak away from her husband and children, she likes to take walks in the woods…if she’s lucky she finds her way back home again.

Find Ofelia on social media:

Blog :: Newsletter :: Instagram :: Facebook Page :: Facebook Profile :: Goodreads :: Bookbub :: Pinterest

Interview: Holly Day, Be Still My Heart

My writing-buddy Holly Day is visiting today, to talk about her new release and tell us all about ‘Vinegar Valentines’! Plus she has a giveaway!

Cover of Be Still My Heart by Holly Day

Thank you, Ally, for letting me drop by again. I’m here today to talk about my latest release Be Still, My Heart.

Be Still, My Heart is a Valentine’s story, which is crazy because if there is one holiday I don’t think we need it’s Valentine. I can eat chocolate any day of the year. I much prefer when my husband gives me flowers or other gifts on a random day rather on a day someone else has decided we should declare our love for each other – preposterous! LOL

Have you heard of vinegar valentines? I googled facts about Valentine and came across vinegar valentines. Had I lived in the Victorian era, I might have sent one.

Lovers exchanged valentine cards, declaring their undying love for each other, but not everyone loved their suitors. Those who had an unwanted suitor could send a vinegar valentine.

One card that was salvaged read:

“To My Valentine  ‘Tis a lemon that I hand you and bid you now ‘skidoo,’ Because I love another—there is no chance for you.”

Sending cards on Valentine got to be so popular, postal carriers received an extra meal to have the energy to deliver all the cards. In 1871, the London post office handled 1.2 million valentine cards. The number might be higher since some postmasters didn’t deliver vinegar valentines they considered being too vulgar.

To make things worse – or I guess it depends on how you see it. Personally, I think it’s brilliant – many of the vinegar valentines were sent cash on delivery. So not only did the women tell their unwanted suitors to stop calling on them, but they also made them pay to read the card LOL.

Sadly, few of the vinegar valentine cards are still around.

But, I didn’t come here to talk vinegar valentines, I came to talk about Be Still, My Heart. It’s about Elian and Dimitri, none of them wants to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but Dimitri is working at a dating agency so it’s impossible for him not to notice the frenzy. And Elian happened to write an article about love through times and got invited to speak at a Valentine’s dinner.

Four years ago, Dimitri Petrov had his leg blown off by a landmine while in military service. Suffering from PTSD, he doesn’t do crowds, people, dates, or dinners. But when Elian Hubert enters the dating agency where Dimitri works in a whirlwind of pink shirts, flapping hands, and outrageous flirting, looking for a Valentine date, Dimitri thinks maybe he can do him a favor.

Excerpt

The clatter of heels filled the lobby, but this time Dimitri was aware of it being heels, which was good. He didn’t need a meltdown in front of Elian. The meltdowns weren’t as frequent anymore, for which he was grateful. Perhaps his brain was slowly learning he wasn’t on a battlefield anymore.

“Dimitri, I need… Oh, hi.” Irina stopped by Dimitri’s side, smiling at Elian. “Who are you?”

“Irina!” Dimitri glared at her.

“Sorry.” She grinned at Elian. “Who are you?”

Elian huffed a laugh. “Elian Hubert.” He stood and bowed dramatically, the lovely sparkles back in his eyes. “At your service, ma’am.”

“Don’t ma’am me.” Irina frowned, but Dimitri could tell she wasn’t being serious. “What are you doing here, and what are your intentions with my brother?”

Elian widened his eyes, his gaze jumping between the two of them. “To sweep him off his feet, of course.”

Irina nodded. “Proceed.”

Elian barked a laugh and offered her his hand. “It’s lovely meeting you, Irina.”

She softened her expression and shook his hand. “Likewise. So can you get me into the Valentine ball?”

Dimitri cursed. “Irina!”

“You’d want to go?” Elian stared. “Had I known, I wouldn’t have had to flirt with your brother. I could’ve asked you.”

It was a joke, Dimitri knew it was a joke, but the words stung anyway.

“I don’t make a good date, Mr. Hubert.”

“Me either.” He shrugged. “Dimitri is a great date, though.”

Irina looked at Dimitri. “You’ve been on a date with him?”

“Yes, yesterday.” Elian grinned at him.

“Keeping secrets, are we?”

Dimitri shook his head. “It’s not a secret. We went to The Crown.”

“Oh…” Her eyes widened. “And it went…” She lowered her voice, “…well?”

Dimitri shrugged. “I didn’t tackle anyone to the ground.”

Elian frowned at them until Irina waved a hand at him. “PTSD.”

She glared at Dimitri. “You have to tell him shit like that, Dimitri. What if you’d… done something? He wouldn’t have known why.” She turned back to Elian. “He gets these—” She waved a hand again. “Sometimes in a crowd, he’s convinced someone has a gun or a bomb or something. Usually, he has it under control, but… it’s flashbacks, I guess.”

Elian’s blue eyes filled with sadness, and Dimitri wanted to kill Irina for telling him.

“So…” Irina sat on the edge of the desk. Her black high-heel reflected the light above as she gently dangled it back and forth. “Is it possible for you to get me into that dinner?”

Elian shrugged. “I can check. It’s terribly boring, though.”

Irina laughed. “The things we do for our reputation. I need to go to some classier events, many think we’re a call girl company.”

Elian glanced at Dimitri, widening his eyes. “And going to this event will make them see you as something else?”

“Look at this.” She swept a hand over the classy lobby—glass walls facing the street, high ceiling, and beautiful art and flower arrangements. “This is classy, and yet some birdbrains walk in here thinking we have girls stored in the closets ready to dust off for a night’s date.” She shook her head, making her long, dark hair sway over her shoulders. “I need to get out more and present myself as a matchmaker.” She frowned. “Perhaps it’s the word dating. We say we’re a dating agency, so they think we’re a bordello.” She looked at Dimitri. “Matchmaking sounds so tacky, though.”

He nodded.

“I should get going.” Elian attempted to stand.

“Wait!” Dimitri hurried to the closet and grabbed his coat. It would be too big for Elian, but he couldn’t have him walking around without proper clothes in the winter cold.

When he got back, Elian and Irina were talking in muted voices, and Elian nodded at something she said. Dimitri scanned the street outside the windows as he approached—nothing out of the ordinary.

Flamboyant character, Valentine, hurt-comfort, age-gap, disability, gay romance, ptsd, gay romance, military men, contemporary

Buy Be Still My Heart

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 above 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, Ofelia Gränd, and my blog and count the hearts there too <3

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 or visit her website