Today I am so pleased to welcome Charley Descoteaux to Joyfully Jay. Charley has come to talk to us about her latest release, The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds. She has also brought along a copy of the book to give away. Please join me in giving Charley a big welcome!
Thanks so much for having me back, Jay! I know you love cover art, and I do too so here’s a little bit about the cover art for The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds.
It’s never easy for me to decide what to request for a book cover—which is probably one reason I answer so many anthology calls. I thought the cover for this book would be easier. My original inspiration was a photo, so shouldn’t that help? Turns out, it kind of did.
I’m a huge fan of DW Skinner’s photography, as I’m sure most of you are. He captures so much feeling in his shots, it’s almost impossible not to be moved. Last summer, while I was writing Strange Birds, Dan posted a lot of pictures from one particular shoot and I fell in love. MJ and Ian could almost play Phil and Lee in the movie—and their chemistry together is off the charts.
Throughout the writing and editing process I kept going back to look at those pictures, dreaming of covers—planning ahead. By the time Dreamspinner’s art department expected me to share my ideas I’d narrowed it down to three very different photos. The amazingly talented Paul Richmond took two of them and made gorgeous covers—with very different moods.
Those mock-up covers were incredible. Visually, I loved them both—the lighthearted picture with the two gorgeous dudes kissing under a tree and the serious one with the intensity and embrace. I wanted them both!
After I spent a few hours whining about how I wanted both, I thought about which better served the story. What would I expect if all I knew about Strange Birds was the cover and blurb? Looking at it that way, the decision was easy… well, not really, the outdoor pic had been my first choice as a base so it was hard to let it go. (I almost want to write a sequel just for that picture….)
In all seriousness, I could not be happier with this cover. Not only does it have an angsty quality that fits the story, the dynamics, and the protective embrace—well, it just works for me.
What works for you on a Male-Male Romance cover?
A random commenter will win an ebook copy of Strange Birds!
Here’s an exclusive excerpt from Phil and Lee’s heron-watching expedition, just for Joyfully Jay and her fabulous readers!
Lee went back to the table and sat next to the cooler. When Phil picked up the tripod and left the clearing a few minutes later, he didn’t follow. The sun had come out and the light bouncing off the almost-white denim of Phil’s shirt made it impossible to see what he was doing. After debating the merits of more than one course of action, Lee lay back across the table. He looked up into the trees and tried to pick out something interesting so he could call Phil over to see it. When he came up empty, he tried to see a way to get them both naked without coming on too strong.
He must’ve dozed off because the next thing he knew, something fell on his chest. Normally he would’ve brushed it off and jumped to his feet. He made a decent living getting dirty but he did not like creepy-crawling things. It had been a while since he lived with his little sister, and since then, he’d enjoyed the relative peace of nobody jumping on him at the crack of dawn to say good morning. The only explanation for the lack of reflexes had to be that he was out of practice.
Besides, normal didn’t seem to apply anymore. It sure didn’t apply when he realized the something on his chest was a hand. A hand as warm as Phil’s lips had been the weekend before. Lee tried to stay calm, but his heart did a funny little giddy-up-and-race that shook him inside and out. Phil’s warm hand slowly blazed a trail across his chest above his nipples, which seemed to be reaching out to it. And to think he’d almost zipped up his jacket a little while ago.
He figured out where Phil stood easily—the space heater on the right—and when he moved his arm in that direction, Phil’s hand stopped. He didn’t take it away, but it trembled just a bit. Lee opened his eyes, and Phil was looking right into them. It wasn’t exactly a pleading look, but the message came through loud and clear.
Lee curled his hand around the edge of the table and held on.
Phil took a slow deep breath, and Lee silently begged him not to stop. He didn’t much care what Phil had in mind, only that he keep going with it. A moment later, the trembling stopped and that tiny smile appeared at the left corner of Phil’s mouth.
The sounds of Lee’s breathing filled up the clearing, loud and ragged. He opened his mouth, but before he could speak, Phil pulled his hand down over Lee’s nipple. Nobody had ever touched him there before, and his nipple was so hard, even that short contact through his shirt almost hurt. The heat of Phil’s hand moved up between his pecs and stopped for a moment, over his heart.
He was so glad he worked out as Phil’s hand moved across his chest again, then down over his ribs, so slowly it was maddening. Lee sweated and popped Advil regularly, telling himself he pushed too hard so he could take off his shirt on stage—but he’d never done that. Lee watched Phil’s face until that hand made it to his obliques. Phil added his other hand and gripped him just above the waist, and Lee’s eyes fell closed as he moaned. Thoughts of bringing his incline bench out to Portland or maybe trying one of those low-fat diets skated through his mind.
“Shhh.” Phil shushed him at the same time he moved one hand to rest against Lee’s stomach. With the other, Phil gripped his waist tighter and kneaded just a bit. When he went on, Phil’s voice was a whisper that came from between Lee’s rapidly heating thighs. “We’re not very far from the trail. Sound travels out here.”
Phil didn’t move for what felt like ages. Lee nodded, his eyes still closed, and Phil trailed both palms down over his thighs. They reached his knees, squeezed gently, and then retraced their path back up to the waistband of Lee’s jeans. And then up and under his T-shirt.
Lee grunted softly with the effort of maintaining control, when what he really wanted was to cry out and reach out. He gripped the table harder and groped for something to keep his other hand from misbehaving. He wasn’t sure what he’d grabbed onto, but that didn’t matter. All that mattered was that Phil didn’t stop, that Phil kept touching him.
Phil slipped one of his fingers inside Lee’s jeans and then unbuttoned his fly. He pulled his zipper down and leaned against the inside of Lee’s thigh, just for a moment, and Lee gulped for air as though his lungs had forgotten how to process the oxygen, while still working to stay quiet. That had never been a problem before—being quiet. There had always been some sort of noise to camouflage what he was doing. And with those other guys, the guys who weren’t Phil, there hadn’t been anywhere near as much to moan about.
Buy The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds:
- Dreamspinner Press
- Amazon US
- All Romance eBooks
All he ever wanted was to be a normal guy….
Phil Brask spends his days in the basement of his mentor’s Victorian home, converting legal documents into electronic format. When the pipe feeding the water heater bursts, Lee Redding arrives in the plumber’s truck and draws Phil away from the narrow focus of his computer and camera lens. Lee gives Phil hope for a life beyond the walls he’s constructed using the nesting habits of migratory birds and dense legal files, a guided tour through a world filled with romance and music…maybe even family. But there’s a reason Phil retreated behind those walls, why he panics at a simple touch.
Lee has a good life—working with his uncle and on his mother’s farm, playing bass in a horrible metal band, and hooking up when he pleases—but he’s always suspected something was missing. When he meets the hot photographer with the icy-blue eyes, he knows exactly what that something is. Phil isn’t like other guys, but neither is Lee beneath his carefree exterior. Maybe Lee’s the perfect guy to show Phil that everything doesn’t have to be done the hard way and “home” isn’t a four-letter word.
Charley has brought a copy of The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Sunday, August 24th at 11:59 pm EST.
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