Jackie North on Writing, Iceland, and her new story ‘Shoulder Season (World of Love)’ (guest blog and special excerpt)

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Shoulder Season (World of Love) by Jackie North
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Art:  Brooke Albreacht

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Jackie North here today to talk about Iceland, Research, and her new story Shoulder Season.  Welcome, Jackie.

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Hello, and thank you for having me on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words to talk about my upcoming release with Dreamspinner of Shoulder Season. The inspiration being Shoulder Season is a fun one. Years ago, I worked with a guy who was traveling with his boyfriend to Iceland. They’d been saving up for ages and ages and were quite looking forward to their adventure.

My first thought was that they were crazy. Why on earth would someone actually want to travel to such an inhospitable place as Iceland? Yes, I knew that people did live there and enjoyed it, so it couldn’t be entirely inhospitable, but seriously. It’s almost to the Arctic Circle, the sun doesn’t shine six months out of the year, and there are no trees.

Literally, there are no trees! (Actually, that’s not true, as 1.5 % of Iceland is covered by woodland!) But you see what I mean. I guess I was pretty young and couldn’t see how this would be a fun thing to do, but it did plant a seed in my mind. The company soon began layoffs, which I was subject to, and I never did hear how this guy’s trip with his boyfriend went. Knowing him and his steady, kind nature, I’m sure it went rather well.

Since that time, I’ve had a hankering to go to Iceland, until last year, I determined I would go. I did a ton of research, but due to financial considerations I was unable to go. But guess what I did have? A ton of research so that when Dreamspinner proposed their Worlds of Love series, I was good to go writing this story in a heartbeat.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Are you a mechanic?” asked Solvin.

“Currently I am,” said Ben. “I’ve got an engineering degree, but engineers are thick on the ground in Colorado, so I’m working at a garage in North Boulder at the moment and sending out résumés.”

“What kind of engineer?” asked Solvin, and by the tone in his voice Ben gathered that Solvin was already familiar with the different types.

“Mechanical,” said Ben. “I like to work with my hands, so the garage is okay, but I’d really like to use my degree, you know?”

“That’s how you could fix the pipe in my kitchen,” said Solvin, nodding.

“I could fix—” began Ben, meaning to go on with the racy statement about the kinds of pipes he could fix. He clamped his mouth shut so hard he almost bit his tongue, and he waited, chagrined, for some blast of recrimination, because really, that was moving way too fast, what with Solvin still recovering from his automobile accident. Besides, it was such a little joke, and somewhat off-color, that it didn’t bear speaking out loud.

“Go on,” said Solvin, his eyes twinkling and the pink blush in his cheeks already on the rise. “Go on, please, I want you to.”

“I—I could fix your other pipe,” said Ben in a deadpan voice, like he didn’t realize the insinuation of what he was saying. Obviously, he did, and Solvin did too, which made it come out all the more funny. Much to his pleased surprise, Solvin almost spit out his iced tea, though he was too mannerly to allow this to happen and hid his laugh in his napkin.

“I could fix all of your pipes,” added Ben, which made Solvin laugh even harder into his napkin. Tears leaked out of the corner of his eyes as he wiped them. Then, with his eyes sparkling with laughter and his smile wide, Solvin leaned close as though he were on the verge of kissing Ben right there in the classy restaurant.

Shoulder Season – Book Blurb

Two young men from two different countries find a common language as they recover from broken hearts and broken bones. Can they rebuild their lives together?

Ben’s boyfriend has not only dumped him, he’s also cancelled their mutual travel plans. Since Ben has the time off and the money saved up, he decides to travel anyway, and based on a last-minute, very inexpensive red-eye airline fare, ends up in Reykjavik, Iceland.

He’s ill-prepared for the weather and knows nothing about the country, so he considers flying home the next day. Except his new neighbor, Solvin, a local Icelander who is currently on leave from work due to a car accident, shows up with a cane and shoulder sling and literally falls into Ben’s apartment. It’s the beginning of an adventure that might show Ben how good life can be… and that coming home sometimes means traveling halfway around the world.

Jackie North – Author Bio

Jackie North has been writing stories since grade school and spent years absorbing the mainstream romances that she found at her local grocery store. Her dream was to someday leave her corporate day job behind and travel the world. She also wanted to put her English degree to good use and write romance novels, because for years she’s had a never-ending movie of made-up love stories in her head that simply wouldn’t leave her alone.

As fate would have it, she discovered m/m romance and decided that men falling in love with other men was exactly what she wanted to write books about. In this dazzling new world, she turned her grocery-store romance ideas around and is now putting them to paper as fast as her fingers can type. She creates characters who are a bit flawed and broken, who find themselves on the edge of society, and maybe a few who are a little bit lost, but who all deserve a happily ever after. (And she makes sure they get it!)

She likes long walks on the beach, the smell of lavender and rainstorms, and enjoys sleeping in on snowy mornings. She is especially fond of pizza and beer and, when time allows, long road trips with soda fountain drinks and rock and roll music. In her heart, there is peace to be found everywhere, but since in the real world this isn’t always true, Jackie writes for love.

Jackie North – Social Media

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/JackieNorthAuthor/

Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/jackienorthMM

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JackieNorthMM

Pintrest: https://www.pinterest.com/jackienorthauthor/

Website: https://www.jackienorth.com

Email: jackie@jackienorth.com

A Caryn Release Day Review: Shoulder Season (World of Love) by Jackie North

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Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

The idea behind Dreamspinner’s “World of Love:  Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe” series is sound, and actually pretty exciting.  Combining exotic locales that most of us would love to see (but probably won’t) with a sweet romance is very attractive.  This one, unfortunately, was somewhat disappointing – I got the impression that the author had never even visited Reykjavik, much less put in some serious research into it….

Ben is an American, a recently graduated engineer from Colorado who has been working as a mechanic because he couldn’t get a better job.  His boyfriend, rich, and oh, BTW, a complete douche, broke up with him right before a planned vacation to Munich, and so Ben decided since he already had the time off and a passport that he would go somewhere else.  Reykjavik, Iceland was cheap because it was October, the shoulder season, and Ben thought it sounded like as good of a place as any.  Until he arrived, and he immediately started wondering what the heck he was thinking, to go so far away from home, alone, with no idea what he would even do when he got there.

It was cold and raining, and Ben was literally standing at the front door of the apartment he had rented thinking of how he could arrange to fly back home the next day, when a cab dropped off a beautiful nordic looking man with a sling and cane whom Ben dubbed the “Icelandic god” right next door to him.  As Ben walked in to his apartment, he heard a crash from next door, and rushed over to help.

Solvin had been injured in a car accident, and though he was still recuperating, he had decided to stay in Reykjavik alone rather than moving back in with family.  He didn’t want to need help, but he had to admit that it was pretty convenient that Ben was available, and willing, and it just seemed natural to start hanging out, and to show Ben the city.

Unfortunately, that is about as good as it got.  Ben kept thinking about the douchey ex, and endlessly comparing him to the perfect Icelandic god that was Solvin, but instead of making Solvin look good, it just started convincing me that Ben was a doormat and an idiot for staying as long as he did.  Americans were stereotyped as loud and obnoxious and the worst kind of tourists, Icelanders were stereotyped as calm and “nice” in a way that just made them sound boring.  Ben and Solvin hit all the touristy spots of Reykjavik, and it felt like a poorly written travelogue more than anything – I swear I learned more about Iceland from watching Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel than I did reading this book.  The author spent a lot of time justifying why “nice” was a virtue, and so much better than “exciting” and that bothered me because I don’t agree that the two are mutually exclusive.  And don’t even get me started on the ending – I get that books in this series are supposed to be sweet HEAs, but this ending was over the top unrealistic mush.

Cover art by Brooke Albrecht is really pretty!  The Northern Lights sold me on Iceland, but I have to say the model looked like he came from a California beach, not Iceland.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 84 pages
Expected publication: August 10th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781640806153
Edition Language English
setting Iceland