Today I am so pleased to welcome Nell Iris to Joyfully Jay. Nell has come to talk to us about her latest release, Awakenings & French Songs. She has also brought along an exclusive excerpt and great giveaway. Please join me in giving Nell a big welcome!
Hi everyone! First, I want to say thank you to Joyfully Jay for inviting me. I’m here to talk about my latest release Awakenings & French Songs, and I thought I’d give you a behind the scenes look into the life of a writer, or five things I did when I wrote this book.
- Lay flat on my back on the couch and thought about writing. And no, it’s not just a fancy way of saying I was working when what I really did was being lazy—I do a lot of my writing in my head and have to mull over the story a lot before I actually sit down and write. Other authors write outlines and drafts and second-third-fourth drafts, but all that happens in my head before I even can write “Chapter 1.”
- Took a lot of showers. And not because it’s sweaty work to write, but because whenever I’m stuck, I take a shower to untangle my thoughts. I’ve had a lot of epiphanies in the shower! What I need is a waterproof notebook to use in there, so I won’t have to rush out and drip water all over the floor in my eagerness to write down what I came up with.
- Researched gloryhole etiquette. Yes, there’s such a thing as gloryhole etiquette. Filed under “please, FBI-agents, don’t check my Google search history.”
- Drooled over pictures of French pastries Iggy could bring to Ronan for the surprise breakfast. Is anyone else but me obsessed by croissants? They’re so yummy. Macarons on the other hand may be one of the prettiest pastries ever, and I eat them from time to time because of how pretty they are, but the taste, people!! I’m disappointed every time.
- Listened to Ne me quitte pas by Jacques Brel every time I needed to get in the right frame of mind to write the story. It’s a very important song to Iggy, and it helped me get in the mood. In fact, I listened to it so many times, my husband came out of the home office with a huff and asked, “Do you have to listen to this one again?” My answer? “It’s work, honey. At least it’s not Christmas music.”
We do this a lot, me and Ronan, hang out together without talking, sometimes with music playing, sometimes not. It’s never uncomfortable, I never feel the need to talk just for the sake of talking. I can relax in his company in a way I’m unable to around anyone else. I’ve come to cherish these moments and I crave them more and more.
“Thanks for this,” I say after a few minutes.
“Anytime. Tell me about the ‘eh’ night.”
I sigh and rub my palm on my head. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
“Who says something’s wrong?”
“It must be, right? I don’t like doing the stuff I’ve always loved anymore. The guys brought me to a huge party tonight. I’m not kidding when I say ten guys threw themselves at me during the first hour. And what did I do? Declined their generous offers, drank sugary drinks, and hid in the bathroom where Dicky Potter tried to get me to suck his cock by waving it in my face and insulting my height.”
“Oh, no! Not your height,” he says with a faux horrified expression. “He must’ve had a death wish.”
“Ha ha, very funny.” I throw a mock glare at him. He knows that being vertically challenged is a sore spot for me, but he’s the only one who can get away with making fun of it. Also, anyone with two brain cells can probably figure out why I wear boots that add four inches. Hint—it’s not for comfort.
“And…Dicky Potter?” He rises an eyebrow.
“Yeah, you know. He waved that thing at me as though he tried to Wingardium Leviosa me.” I show the motion I’ve learned from the movies with my finger.
Ronan presses the heels of his hands to his eyes and his shoulders shake.
“What’s so damned funny?”
“I shouldn’t have let you watch Harry Potter with Emery and me. I will never be able to look at them again without thinking about Dicky Potter,” he chokes out between chuckles. “And then Emery is going to ask what’s so funny, and—”
“Stop!” I hold up my hand. “Not another word!” My eyes are about to bug out of my head at the thought of sweet Emery hearing about that. Ugh. I shiver.
He peers at me and we burst out laughing.
The silence returns after our merriment fades. A new song starts playing on the stereo. A haunting violin and a lonely piano is followed by a guy singing. His voice is so full of emotion, I can’t help wondering what he’s singing about. The words hit me right in the heart and make my chest ache with loneliness. A lump appears in my throat and I swallow to keep it from spilling out of my mouth.
I can feel Ronan’s eyes on me. Can he see my weird mood? The shine in my eyes caused by French words sung with a desperation I’ve never heard before? I suck in my lower lip to stop my chin from trembling.
“Would you like more tea?” Ronan’s voice is soft, as though he’s addressing a scared kitten.
I don’t trust my own voice, so I nod. The familiarity of his movements when he fixes my tea reassures me. The care in which he adds loose tea leaves to the infuser and pours water of just the right temperature over them. The way he patiently waits three minutes while it steeps. The gentle smile he gives me as he sets the mug in front of me.
The French guy agitates my heart with his singing, and Ronan calms it with his kindheartedness. The contrasts are intense, making my skin feel too snug for my body, my chest tight, and my stomach worried. My pulse flutters in my neck, and I worry that Ronan will see it. I don’t know what to do with myself.
An existential awakening and lots of French chansons equal a favorite neighbor seen in a new light.
Iggy Wilker never expected his 36th birthday to turn into an existential crisis. When Iggy’s friends celebrate him with his usual favorite pastime—drinking, dancing, and willing guys—he suddenly wants nothing to do with any of it. He’s fed up and ready for something else. The question is what?
Ronan Clenney has had his eye on his neighbor forever, but as a single father of a precocious eleven-year-old, he’s never believed he stands a chance. But over a late-night cup of tea, it seems that circumstances have changed. Is this the right time, finally?
Iggy has never believed in romance, but can Ronan show him he’s wrong? That love is a real thing?
Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bona fide 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 but let’s face it, she’s not Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (Make it so). She loves words, poetry, wine, and Sudoku, and absolutely adores elephants!
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 40-something bi-sexual Swedish woman, married to the love of her life, and a proud mama of a grown daughter. She left the Scandinavian cold and darkness for warmer and sunnier Malaysia a few years ago, where she spends her days writing, surfing the Internet, enjoying the heat, and eating good food. One day she decided to chase her life long dream of being a writer, sat down in front of her laptop, and wrote a story about two men falling in love.
Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angsty, and wants to write diverse and unique characters.
Nell has brought two of her backlist books to give away to one lucky Joyfully Jay reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Thursday, January 24th at 11:59 pm ET.
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