Guest Post | Resolutions for an Arbitrary Holiday by Nell Iris

Guest Post

Today, Nell Iris is here to ring in the new year with us! She has written a New Year story and is going to share a little about it 😀

First, I’d like to thank my lovely hostess, Holly for having me here today, for celebrating the release of my new book with me. Also: happy new year. May 2021 be better than 2020. It can hardly get worse, can it?

I’d like to talk a little about the inspiration for my story.


This summer, the hubby and I went on a road trip. I moved back to Sweden in November 2019, after living in Malaysia for over 8 years, but instead of moving back to our old hometown, we settled down in a new part of the country, in the south of Sweden. So we spent this past summer exploring, something that one day in July led us to a place called Ales Stenar (Ale’s Stones) on the southernmost shores of Sweden.

Ale’s Stones is a megalithic monument, a stone ship, high up on a hill, overlooking the ocean, and a tiny fishing village. A stone ship is believed to have been an ancient burial site, but some scientists say it may also be some kind of sun calendar. With the help of the Carbon 14 method, scientists have estimated that this setting of Ale’s Stones was erected sometime around 600AD, but has also revealed material dating back as far as 5500 years, indicating there have been people there since long before the stones were erected.

It’s been a life-long dream of mine to visit the Stones, and they didn’t disappoint. They are huge and awe-inspiring, and I shivered when I rested my palm against them. I took a gazillion pictures and looked at the ocean waves rolling onto the shore and reluctantly followed my husband down the hill when he’d had enough.

When I left, I posted pictures from the visit on my social media and didn’t think more about it until one of my fellow JMS Books authors, Thomas Grant Bruso, commented on the pictures, saying I should write a story about them.

That got me thinking. “What if someone snuck out of a house in the village and trekked up to the stones on New Year’s Eve, wanting to ring in the new year surrounded by history? And what if something happens and he needs to be rescued…?” And the result of this innocent comment and a busy mind is Petter and Isak’s story in Resolutions for an Arbitrary Holiday.

The story is set at the stones I visited, they’re up on a hill and next to the ocean. But the village below is a figment of my imagination. I mean, there’s a real village there, but it’s nothing like the one in my story, so if you’ve been there, or if you live there, don’t be surprised if you don’t recognize it 😊



Two strangers, a twisted ankle, an ancient stone ship, and a New Year’s Eve they’ll never forget

Petter sneaks out of the New Year’s party he didn’t want to go to and treks to an old burial site he’s dying to see. Alone. Without telling anyone on a freezing December night. Without cell service…a huge problem when he twists his ankle.

Someone passes by Isak’s house on the path leading to the stone ship. When the person never returns, Isak worries and sets off to investigate. What he finds is Petter, a pack of sparklers, and an instant connection.

Under a starry sky, they learn they have a lot in common. Will the attraction burn hot and fizzle out like the fireworks going off over their heads when they return to the real world? Or will it deepen, grow, and turn into something real? Something everlasting like the stone ship?

M/M Contemporary / 20849 words

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Are you the kind of person who makes resolutions?”

“Usually not.” I accept the lit sparkler he holds out to me. I’ve loved these things since I was a little kid, even more than fireworks, and up here, in the howling wind with a sky full of stars above my head, in the company of a kind stranger and huge ancient stones, they’re more beautiful than ever.

“But this year is different?”

“Yeah. I’m doing some…significant changes in my life this coming year, so I thought ‘why not?’ It can’t hurt, right? Even if I agree with you about the arbitrariness of this so-called holiday.”

“You do?”

“Sure. It’s not a thing we celebrate because of some natural phenomenon, like the solstice. It’s just to mark that the Earth has done another lap around the sun. I mean, that’s great and all, but why do we need to celebrate it?”

Isak’s face lights up in a wide grin. “Yes! This is what I always say when people complain because I refuse to embrace the spirit of the holiday.”

I return his smile. “Exactly!”

“I’ll drink to that. Finding a like-minded person makes it worth subjecting myself to this awfulness.” He takes another swig, face contorting, and then hands over the bottle to me.

“Are you trying to poison me?” I take the tiniest of drinks, barely enough to wet my mouth.

“Hey! You’re the one who brought it.”

“And I regret it deeply.”

The sparklers have gone out, and Isak lights a couple new ones, handing me one. “So tell me about your resolution.”

“You’ll think it’s stupid.” I avert my gaze, looking out over the ocean. Far away a tiny pinprick of light moves across the water. Who’s out in a boat now?

“I won’t. Promise.”

I follow the little prick of light as it moves away, and it’s easier to talk about it when I’m not looking at him. “I’m going to be more true to who I really am.”

Gently, he replaces the burned-out sparkler in my hand with a new one. “Why would I think that’s stupid?”

“Because people do. I’m almost thirty, I’m supposed to have reached that stage already in my life.”

“People assume a lot of shit, don’t they?”

I take my eyes off the boat and allow myself to be mesmerized by the sparkler, by the tiny stars shooting out of it in every direction, by the crackling sound and its energy. It burns hot and fast, but it gives its all doing it. “Yeah,” I say.

“I’ll drink to your resolution. I’m sure it doesn’t mean much to you because we don’t know each other, but I think you’re doing the right thing. Now drink.”

When the sparkler sputters and dies out, I look at Isak. “It does mean something. Thank you”. I take an even smaller drink, but the taste still contaminates my tongue.

“What is this crap anyway?” Isak asks

Nell Iris Bio and social media links:

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.

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