Grannie Panties and All

A few weeks ago I talked about my naturally squirrely nature. It’s no secret that I fly by the seat of my pants. So it really shouldn’t be a shock when life sneaks up and pantses me.

Of course when you’re not expecting to be pantsed, you don’t have time to put your sexy undies on. When Interlude Press contacted me last year with an offer to publish a book, I’m pretty sure I was wearing those pale pink grannie panties no one but my husband sees (and even then he averts his eyes and everyone pretends it didn’t happen).

This weird metaphor is going someplace. I think.

The point is, I had NO IDEA this was coming. It was so far off the radar. For years my radar had pretty much been stuck between “keep dreaming” and “don’t try because you’ll fail”. Maybe every 108 days that ominous beeping (that’s a reference for my fellow Losties!) obligated me to punch in a string of consonants and vowels, try to pretty them up, then sit back thinking, “never gonna get it”.

Let’s take a moment to jam out to some En Vogue. I’ll give you a second.

Anyway. I’m making myself out to sound rather pathetic, which is not my intent. The truth is that I always wanted to be published, but I lacked in self esteem and suffered from a fear of failure.

Publishing was very much a What If that depended on Some Day.  I don’t know if the universe was speaking to me, but just before Interlude came to me, two good friends of mine got publishing contracts. I was green with envy, but also, began to feel a little warmth near my bum that may have been the start of a fire being lit under it.

I might have been newly motivated to reshelf my publication dreams to another dream category (I can do this, right?), but I certainly was NOT prepared to be approached for publication. Hence, the grannie panty metaphor. In the stuff of fantasies, when someone approaches you about writing gay erotic romance, you should have a leather thong on right? You live in that thong. You breathe sex.

Uh. Suuuuuure.

Those grannie panties were a safety net. They were comfortable. They didn’t propel me into any sort of motion. As much as I wanted to do it, I had fears. I spent a few weeks thinking “there’s got to be a sneaky catch” when they approached me. I have kids and had just gone back to school. I was juggling those with a house and a husband and hardly any time to breathe. Was committing to writing a book something I could believe in myself enough to do?

But, you know, chasing a dream even when it isn’t expected or planned for is kind of a me thing to do.  Writing a novel for publication? Despite lingering apprehension, writing a novel was not only a dream, but a totally shiny thing in what was already a life in upheaval. It was time for me to gird my loins, grannie panties and all, sign a contract, and try to be brave. Make myself uncomfortable. Go on another adventure. Consider that leather thong more seriously.

Honestly, what is more important than my underthings is the fact that I finally took a chance and decided to put myself out there. Hush isn’t just sexy: I put my whole self into it. It’s layered and emotional and all mine. It’s been a crazy ride, which yes, involved lots of pantsing and a few forays into the land of “ohhh shiny object”; it’s been an adventure with a few missteps, but fucking fun as hell too. I hope you’ll take a chance on this book and let me take you on an adventure too.

I won’t promise that I took off the grannie panties while writing Hush, but we can all certainly pretend I wrote it in a negligee.

I wouldn’t want to ruin the fantasy.

Hush is currently available for pre-sale at Interlude Press.

 

Origins, Part 1

I am belatedly going to announce and squeal over the fact that my first original novel went up for presale this Tuesday. It’s a great deal: if you purchase now, you’ll get the ebook bundle and the print copy for the price of the print copy alone!

Hush is a story about two young men: Wren is one of “the gifted”—a college sophomore with the power to compel others’ feelings and desires. He uses his power as a game of sexual consent until Cameron, a naïve freshman, enters his life. As Cameron begins to understand his sexuality and gain confidence under Wren’s tutelage, Wren grows to recognize new and unexpected things about himself.

Hush is a sexy book. It’s unapologetically sexy: it was a lot of fun for me to explore ideas of consent and sex as a way to demonstrate character development, ideas of submission, consent, growth, trust and love.

This book started as a seedling, a tiny plot bunny that came from the song Dark Horse, by Katy Perry. I was driving my kids somewhere and it came on the radio. Listening to the lyrics I was struck by the way the song balances the idea of magic and the ability to compel, but also that the other person must make a conscious choice to submit to that magic. It’s a sensual song, no doubt. After hearing it a few times, I couldn’t help thinking writing a short story that would expand on the idea.

But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to really delve into the idea of consent. What would it look like for a person to agree to complete submission that was compelled from them: how to balance that magic with the idea of autonomy?

Because my brain likes to really complicate things, I started to imagine the people who would be involved in the story, and from there, Hush was born. Once I really started to get to know both Wren and Cam, it became clear that there was so much more to them than interactions shaped around their sexual encounters. They both go through remarkable changes and experiences here, and there’s a lot more to their stories past the end of the book.

One of my favourite things to explore between them was the ways in which submission can shape dynamics between to people, and how powerful true submission is: the trust and the knowledge of limits and the gift you are giving back to a person. Submission can be individually motivated for pleasure, but also something shared, something that can speak with more resonance than words. Writing their increased intimacy and the pleasure they could each bring out and give one another was a great character building exercise and experience. Writing an alternate world where people have special abilities was a completely new and challenging experience for me. Stretching out of my comfort zone as a writer has always been a frustrating but ultimately wonderful adventure.

At it’s heart, Hush is a love story, and a story about growth, coming of age, and joy. But happy endings aren’t always smooth and easy journeys, and writing these boys going through them was a great experience.

Behind the scenes were many adventures: the naming of this story has it’s own hilarious back story. Creating this world and the idea of gifted people. The revelations about the characters lives that took me surprise in the actual process of writing it (pantsing squirrel alert). All of these are stories I can’t wait to share with you in the coming months.

(Mis)Adventures of a Pantsing Squirrel

My life is chaos. Like, I won’t sugar coat and pretend that it’s remotely contained chaos. People inventory my life: a 3 year old and a 6 year old, a husband who works long night hours, and two cats with strange emotional issues. Alright, they say, of course this is chaotic.

 Then we have to factor in my decision a year ago to move from being a stay at home mother to a student. My plan: try to figure out what I wanted to do with my life after 6 years at home.

I won’t lie, there was no plan beyond hey I wanna try things out. In my spare time, when I’m not complaining about housework that’s never done, I’ve spent the last four years writing *copious* amounts of fanfiction for fun. My 6 year old went off to school, so of course I decided this meant I could totally go back to school (with an hour commute each way), keep writing, keep up on the house, maintain personal relationships, and somehow become an even more together, self actualized human. This makes so much sense.

I had very little plan, lots of interests, and as always, was a dervish of chaos. Going back to school was great fun — I was auditing courses in different studies. I mean, I could not have tailored a squirreling plan better. I took a class, discovered a shinny thing there, took another class in a different department, and wow that other thing was so shinny, so I darted that way and somehow wound up being pursued by a graduate program I’d never heard of that I would never have seen myself doing.

Somewhere in there, Interlude Press reached out to me and said, “Hey Jude, we hear you have a story to tell.” Oh sure! Of course! I can do that! I have time! Yay shiny things!!  (Okay the real story is a bit different, we can discuss that at a later date).

Side story time! (Bear with me, this happens) When I was in the 6th grade, my friends decided they had had the absolute most they could take of my rambling stories that went nowhere (TO THEM. I always knew what the point was) and started rolling their eyes and saying “What’s the point Jude?” before I could even get halfway through my monologue.

So! Here you guys get to say, “What’s the point Jude?”

Well, thanks for asking! The point is that when you boil me down, there’s two things you should know about me (okay, let’s not be reductive, there’s lots to know about me).

  1. I’m a squirrel. Check my author description and you’ll see in my little bio “My sister says I’m a squirrel, show me something shiny and I’ll dash in that direction.” Touché dear sister. Touché.
  2. I’m a Pantser. My editor, Annie, once lovingly (I hope?) called me a pantser in the middle of a conversation. At first I thought she was somehow referring to the fact that in my stories men take off their pants. My brain does weird things when put on the spot. Turns out she was referring to my endearing (I hope?) tendency to fly by the seat of my pants in all things.

I’ve been tooling around on this blog trying to figure out what I’m doing (story of my life). In so many parts of my life I am unpredictable and unscripted – often my pantsing, squirrely nature gets me into trouble, sometimes it has funny results. Sometimes it makes me a hilarious human being. Often, this just means shit goes wrong.

I know there have *got* to be some of you out there who are squirrels. Who pants life and who often stand around asking, “WTF just happened?” while laughing hysterically. Or crying. Maybe both. If so, hey, you’ve found one of your people! If not, I’ve discovered that my escapades can elicit exasperation and amusement at equal turns. Stick around and maybe I can make you laugh.

Either way, maybe you’ll find some amusement in the adventures I have to share from time to time. As an official Pantsing Squirrel, I can’t make any promises (there are always shiny things), but I’d love to spend some time in the coming months talking not just about my stories, but my crazy, unplanned, chaotic, lovely life, and hearing about yours.

So commence the (mis)Adventures of a Pantsing Squirrel.

Nope, not I, says the squirrel

I have a very big deadline barreling at me — in 12 days to be exact. I predict a lot of stressful freaking out in the next two weeks; it’s been suggested that I could ask for an extension. But that’s a nope, not for me. People function in a lot of ways and I think that process is personal and important to honor. The truth is that deadlines are hard for me. And what I mean is that I have to have inflexible deadlines to function. There’s something about the horror of a close, looming deadline that really gets me working the way I should. I’m a classic procrastinator, and I complain annoyingly as I freak out about whatever I must do, but this is also when I do my best work.

Anyway, yes. Deadline looming, many other projects, including two *more* book ideas, clamoring in my unpredictable brain. This is part of my squirrel nature. Each idea is a new, shiny thing my brain gets so excited about –this is why I call myself a squirrel. My squirrel brain it dashes toward the new shiny, but then there are *more* shiny things and so I tend to leave things half done, or in fragments in my brain. Trust me, my brain is full of shiny things and wonderful ideas, and my execution rate in contrast to those numbers is woefully small.

Hence, deadlines that stay fixed and hard are a great way to keep my squirrely self in line.