Gifts: pictures and an excerpt!

If you happen to follow my tumblr account, you might have gotten a little spoilerish peek at two lovely men who served as inspiration for Milo and Andrew. They aren’t perfect matches, but they each have lots of features that do match my boys at two different ages: Milo as a teen (although his eyes are a beautiful dark blue in the book) and Andrew as an adult.  If you want to sneak a peek at them, head over to my tumblr page. I also post pretty pictures relevant to What it Takes (AKA lovely shots of the Cape) and assorted flotsam. Every now and then you’ll find little gifts (like the pictures of the boys for example) that won’t be up here for a while.

As we get closer to the release of What it Takes (21 days…but who’s counting?), I though that, in the spirit of Christmas, I’d give everyone an excerpt from just a lovely scene where they boys both try to navigate their very complicated relationship.

~*~

Andrew gladly lets Milo drive his car; he hates driving, especially when he can play radio DJ and watch the scenery go by. He looks at Milo: the way the fading light before dusk changes the tone of his skin; the way the muscles of his arms stand out and his lips curl as he sings along, awfully, to the radio. Milo smiles at him and Andrew flashes a brief one back, wonders how obvious he’s being, and looks back out the window at the slipping sand that spills onto the road and the ramshackle businesses along the road.

“So what got this bee in your bonnet?” he asks suddenly.

Milo shrugs. “You sound like my grandma.”

“Awesome; I like her. Let’s focus.”

“So… okay.” Milo clears his throat and his fingers tighten on the wheel. “I um, think I have something to tell you. But I’m—”

“Is everything okay?” Andrew interrupts, scanning his memory for any signs of additional distress Milo might have displayed in the last few months.

“Yeah. Well. I mean, um… whatever. But I—”

“What? You’re worrying me.”

Milo sighs and pulls into the parking lot of a restaurant with a giant crab on the roof. “I can’t do this and drive.”

“Okay,” Andrew says slowly, then unbuckles his belt and turns to face him. Milo’s face is a little drawn.

“So, I think I might be gay,” Milo blurts. “I mean, I know. I know I am.”

There’s a full minute of silence in the car while Andrew tries to work the words out. Static screeches in his ears, fleetingly numbing his reaction. Focus. He has a few seconds to control his face, to tamp down that sprout of irrational hope seeding despite the chaos, and be ultimately supportive.

“Um.” Andrew licks his lips and tries to pull himself together. That seedling wants to grow into something bigger, and he can’t let it. He looks at Milo’s face, which has morphed into something more vulnerable and worried. Hope is a hollow bell in his chest, ringing loud and dissonant; he wants to vibrate out of his skin with the inappropriateness of his own reactions. This is about Milo, not him. “You aren’t worried that I’m mad or something, are you?” he manages to say.

“I don’t know. Um, your face is doing… a thing,” Milo replies.

Reflexively Andrew puts his hands to his cheeks. His fingers are cold. Okay, so he definitely doesn’t have his face under control. “No, I… wasn’t expecting it, that’s all.” Andrew’s brain, sometimes faster than his mouth, is careening backward. “Maybe I should have had a clue.”

“Oh?”

“Well, for starters, you kissed me back.”

~*~

What it Takes is currently available for pre-order and will be out Jan. 14th.

Enter to win a copy of What it Takes in the Goodreads giveaway!

Countdown time!

Y’all, in less than ONE month, What it Takes will officially be out in the world. At this time last year, that book was one crazy hot mess of NaNoWriMo scribbles, completely out of order, 50k of who knows what. Next thing I know, I’m getting a starred review in Publishers Weekly and they’re saying it’s a “tender and beautifully written love story”.

And now….now it’s almost in your hands!

So, a couple of things. First, wanna enter to win a free copy? Head over to Goodreads right here. Free copies of books are awesomesauce, trust me.

Other thing: starting 10 days before release I’ll be tweeting snippets from the book. Keep your eyes out for that. I try to # that but you know, 140 characters is freaking short! I’m not known for my brevity. I’m short but can’t keep it short. Ya know what I mean?

Third thing: I’m on grad school break! I have 3 weeks of FREEDOM. Well, if you call getting book #3 in shape to turn in… This also apparently means I am drowning myself in romance novels. Feel free to recommend one to me if you want, I love new books.

Thing the fourth: I also was thinking about posting excerpts from the book about once a week if y’all are interested? Lemme know. Popular vote wins 😀

As a tiny tease, I’ll give you a small snippet so you guys can get a taste.

~*~

He wakes up and lives his life, but there are days when he doesn’t think he’ll ever get through without Andrew helping him breathe with light touches and easy smiles. If he ever let himself, if he ever gave in to the sweet, silver thread of longing he has for Andrew, he knows he would somehow end up breaking everything.

~*~

What it Takes is currently available for pre-order and will be out Jan. 14th.

Hush is currently for sale at Interlude Press Web Store
AmazonAll RomanceBarnes & NobleBook Depository, Apple iBookstore, Smashwords, and Independent Bookstores

30% off sale

Today is the last day you can save 30 percent on all digital and print novels through Monday at the IP Web Store by using the discount code 30STORIES.

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YAS. THIS IS A THING.

I’ll do some math for you:

With this sale, you can pre-order What it Takes and get the e-book and print book bundle for $12. TWELVE. If you only wanted the e-book you can pre-order for $4.89

Additional math Jude does for you: 

Hush e-book: $5.59

Hush print book: $11

Hush bundle: $14

SAVINGS ARE AWESOME.

Top 10 Reasons I’ve Been MIA

  1. NaNoWriMo: I almost gave up a few days ago. It was very weird. I’m generally a pretty fucking determined person when I decided to do something hard. BUT I didn’t. Which means I’ve been pounding away there. I’m about 5k from winning, eeek! I can totally do this.
  2. Graduate School: You’ve heard me complain about this one if you follow me on twitter (you don’t follow me on twitter? That’s crazy. I’m funny. I like to chat with people. I post snippets of poetry, reblog book reviews, talk about life stuff). As the end of the semester draws close, work for school is ramping up, and I have some big projects I have to get done.
  3. Work: Here’s the kicker in my life. My school pays me to go to school — they pay for my credits, a stipend, and health insurance. But that is in exchange for “20” hours of work a week, which is more often more than that.
  4. That fucking commute: With good weather, I commute about 10 hours a week. Darn snowstorms are ruining my life.
  5. I’m writing a book: I realize this goes with NaNo, sort of. But this NaNo project is also book #3, and it involves research and a lot more plan/thinking than I usually do during NaNo, which I usually complete in an insane style.
  6. My kids: Who have decided they do not like all of the things pulling me away from them and have (particularly the younger) become very, very challenging. Sigh.
  7. What it Takes: Virtual Book Tour is coming soon! Promo stuff is getting going, which is a lot of planning and writing! I’m finishing last minute detail checks on the manuscript. Oh gosh the release is so soon, I AM SO EXCITED.
  8. I’m sick: I haven’t been sick in at least 6 months. With a cold I mean, we won’t speak of the stomach virus of death from September or the surgery/hospitalizations in July. I mean a cold. I thought I was going to get through the semester without getting sick because I’ve been fending off some doozies that are taking out my classmates. No dice.
  9. Holidays: Thanksgiving! Yay! I love family holidays. But ya know, that means I’m not here as much.
  10. My freaking hands: Sometimes I struggle with typing because of my bad hands and elbows. The NaNo and schoolwork and driving have all combined to make this hard. But school break is coming up soon and they’ll get to rest and heal, and next semester I’m hoping to commute only 3 days a week and not four.

Long and the short: My life is so crazypants right now, I’m surprised I’m coherent. I maybe just coughed up a lung on you guys. QUICK, EVERYONE RUN A VIRUS SCAN ON THEIR COMPUTER.

I think I’m funny. Just pat my head and pretend I am.

As we draw closer to What it Takes, I’ll be posting excerpts and as I did prior to the release of Hush, character bios. In the 10 days leading up to release, I’ll be doing my ten tiny spoiler tweets, each 1 line from the book.

Soon as well I’ll be posting links to book giveaways through Goodreads, and you can enter to win a free copy of What it Takes.

IN THE MEAN TIME, AND THIS IS IMPORTANT:

Interlude Press is having a huge sale through Monday: all books and e-books are 30% off! WHAT. And you guys, this applies to pre-sale book, which are a great deal already because for the price of the paper book you get the DRM-Free multi format books. That means that you can get BOTH for the price of ONE at 30% off right now. Just use the code 30STORIES.

BOOM. If you’ve been waiting to get Hush, or are ready to make a killing on pre-ordering What it Takes, I’ma suggest you get your tush over there. Plus, it’s a great time to stock up on all IP titles. Trust me, it’s all gold. I’ve read every single one of those badboys (well not the pre-order ones yet, but I will soon).

What it Takes is currently available for pre-order and will be out Jan. 14th.

Hush is currently for sale at Interlude Press Web Store
AmazonAll RomanceBarnes & NobleBook Depository, Apple iBookstore, Smashwords, and Independent Bookstores

 

 

Throwback Thursday Sock Saturday Contest Winner

And OMG this announcement actually comes…wait for it…on Thursday! My asshole random hashtag worked out. Or something?

ANYWAY, the point is that I am FINALLY announcing the winner of the Sock-Off contest! I got lots of great pictures of socks — you all have some fucking awesome socks — but the grand prize goes to Carol, who sent me a little collage of socks that included socks I have a burning need in my life for…the fuck you socks.

I should be clear that I am actually the nicest person and not generally angry, but man. Don’t you think that sometimes your feet need to tell people to fuck off? I mean, also, the perfection of these socks when you’re telling your roommate to stay clear so you can do it?? Especially with Cam and Nate’s friendship; this is exactly the kind of joke they’d share in the right spirit and laughter.

So congrats Carol!! Carol is the winner of a signed copy of Hush, or when it comes out if she wants, of What it Takes.

What it Takes is currently available for pre-order and will be out Jan. 14th.

Hush is currently for sale at Interlude Press Web Store
AmazonAll RomanceBarnes & NobleBook Depository, Apple iBookstore, Smashwords, and Independent Bookstores

So much AMAZEBALLS shit has happened

And I dropped the ball over here. I apologize; I can give a lengthy description of *why* I did, but that’s so besides the point right now. Because holy fuck was this a crazy good week for a writer. The stuff of dreams.

FIRST: Last weekend, I’m sitting around, wallowing in self pity because I have so much studying to do when I am contacted by my publisher with the crazy-pants news that I not only received a great review in Publishers Weekly, but that I received a STARRED review that is in it’s own little, eye-catching box. If you’d like to see how pretty it is, here ya go! I’d copy it here as an image, but the text is super blurry. As far as *what* they said, here you go:

 … Sierra (Hush) uses rich characterization and lyrical writing to infuse this slow-building romance with depth, humor, and pathos. Readers will savor every dip and peak of Milo and Andrew’s relationship as they balance the need for safety with the necessary risk of pursuing happiness.” — Publishers Weekly

I am so freaking honored by this, I can’t even.

SECOND: So I’m still freaking out about this when it hits me Tuesday evening (while I’m in class…yes I was on Tumblr during class. This never happens but I guess I was bored), and the girl who sits next to me (a lovely friend), points out that I scrolled past the announcement of my book pre-sale going live. WTF?? Like, I know I’ve been mentioning it, but for some reason the reality of it being so close hadn’t hit me yet. Weird. You’d think that since I went through this rodeo with Hush I’d be used to this. Maybe this is the kind of stuff you never get used to? Maybe one day I’ll get to ask a crazy established author.

So pre-sale is awesome because you get a great deal– if you by the paper copy of the book (which you guys, the cover art is done so much more justice in the paper book. It’s gorgeous no matter what but it’s stunning in person), you get the e-book for free. The e-book is DRM-free and multi-format, which is awesome.

The book will be released on January 14th 2016, so put it on your calendars!

THIRD and finally: Sock Saturday Throwback Thursday contest is closed! I have to sort through the entries to pick a winner, but if you don’t win this one, rest assured there will be more contests in the future.

Throwback Thursday Sock Saturday is coming to a close soon…have a Hush excerpt in return :D

The end of my Throwback Thursday Sock Saturday contest is coming up (11/14/15): for those of you who have tweeted, linked or blogged your sock entries, thank you! Man are there some awesome socks out there.

For those of you who haven’t yet, send me your socks!! They can be made, bought, pinned, dug out of drawers mismatched…have at it. Remember, the winner of the contest gets their choice of a free signed copy of either Hush or my upcoming novel, What it Takes!

Sock Saturday is a little ritual I created for one of my main characters in Hush, Cam, and his roommate Nate. It was one of those moments that came to me, made me laugh, and have been told by readers that they enjoyed throughout.

Although there are tiny moments I could share with you from Hush, I thought I’d share an excerpt that is also one of my favorite moments in the book. The scene this is lifted from was lovely to write (even the intense sexy part that comes before this) — it’s one of the first time we see Wren let down some of his walls. It’s the first time he’s been unguarded enough to let himself get to know Cam. And for Cam, this was a favorite moment to write; so much of this book was this journey for him. I loved giving him this empowering moment.

~*~

Socks by Sock Dreams. $15 If you know me, you know I'm all about me some toe socks! :-):

“Won’t Nate be back?” he asks. 

“Good point,” Cam picks his phone back up.

“What are you doing?” Wren turns onto his side, fluffing Cam’s pillow under his head. 

“For the first time in two years, I’m soxiling him,” Cam says with a laugh. “I’ve never gotten to. Oh the power!” he jokes. Wren smiles and it’s the first true one Cam’s seen that looks true and easy. 

“Help me find a good picture,” Cam puts his head close to Wren’s on the pillow and holds the phone up for both of them to look at. 

“Of what?” Wren tilts his head to see.

“Socks,” Cam says. 

“What the hell, socks?” 

“You know how people used to do the sock over the door thing as a signal?” Cam asks. 

“Oh,yeah,” Wren says.

“So Nate thought it was hilarious. but wasn’t going to do it. So he started texting me the word ‘socks,’ and eventually we started calling it ‘soxiling’. Or ‘Sock Saturday,’ because that’s usually when I get booted.  Then he started sending me pictures of funny socks.”

“Hey, I have a question.” Wren half sits and looks at Cam seriously. “Have you, like, come out to anyone?” 

“Well, they set me up with Jason, so yeah. I mean,” Cam shrugs. “I didn’t come out and say the words.” 

“Hmm.” Wren lies back down. Cam is searching for the right pair of socks when Wren stops him. “Those.”

“Rainbow socks?” 

“Make it official,” Wren says. 

“What, should I add ‘Hey I’m gay’ or something?” Cam jokes, copying the picture and dropping it into a text. 

“If you want to. I don’t know. I…when I finally came out, there was a lot of power in saying the words. It was…” Wren squints as if he’s struggling to find the words. “Really affirming and liberating.”

“Hmm.” Cam lowers his phone for a minute and thinks. 

“I probably shouldn’t assume anything,” Wren rushes to add. “I mean that you’re gay or bi or anything.”

“I think I’d say I’m gay,” Cam says. He looks over and Wren seriously, examines the light flecks of gold in his eyes. “I haven’t say anything to Peyton. Or my parents.”

“Who is Peyton, anyway?” Wren asks. 

“My twin sister,” Cam says. Wren’s eyebrows shoot up. 

“Twin?” 

“Yep,” Cam says. 

“Do you think she — they — will have any problem with it?” 

Cam thinks for a moment. “Not Peyton. Knowing her, she already knows. She’s always been better at figuring me out than I have.” Wren snorts softly and Cam shoots him a questioning look. Wren just gestures for Cam to continue. 

“I’m not…I don’t know, when I figured this all out, I wasn’t ashamed or afraid or necessarily worried about if I was gay. Am. It feels….right. My parents, though…” 

“Are they conservative?” Wren asks. 

“Well, we’re from nowhere Nebraska. I really have no idea how they’ll react, but I doubt it will be pleasant.” Cam bites his lip and takes a deep breath, pushing that away. He’s got Wren in his bed, talking and open-limbed and easy and he wants to capture it, stretch the moment as long as he can before Wren backs off. He tilts the phone back so Wren can see and types, You’ve been soxiled. Oh and by the way, I’m gay. This makes Wren laugh, and Cam laughs too. It does feel a little liberating; not because Nate doesn’t know, but because he’s not yet said the words to anyone, and it feels a little like coming home.

~*~

My upcoming novel, What it Takes, will be available for pre-sale starting November 10th, so keep your eyes peeled for that!

Hush, is currently for sale at Interlude Press Web Store
AmazonAll RomanceBarnes & NobleBook Depository, Apple iBookstore, Smashwords, and Independent Bookstores

Something’s Coming….(insert West Side Story music here)

I’ve obviously lost my mind. We’ll blame it on grad school. Life while grad schooling. Kids. Trying to remember to eat. NaNo is coming! Oh my…so many things.

but Psssst…I have a secret! in…17 days, What It Takes will be available for presale.

::Screeeechhhh, WHAT??::

Ok that was really only my personal reaction. It’s so soon! Writing a book is such a weird time process. This time last year, I was gearing up to write this thing for NaNo…. from concept to birth(ish), this was a one year journey. It has seemed interminable at times, and right now it feels like it all went in a flash. I love overlapping things apparently, so while the pre-sale, nail biting, hoping and praying part of the What It Takes tornado will be happening, I’ll hopefully be managing to write my next book during this year’s NaNo. Gosh, I put a lot on my plate. Most days I’d have it no other way. Writing is like breathing for me, and with grad school overtaking my life, I’ve not written at all since August. That’s crazy pants!!

I want to talk to you all about ALL THE THINGS when it comes to What It Takes, because this novel is so close to my heart. I think I might be more proud of this book than anything I’ve written before — or at least it’s in the top five. If you asked me why, I’m not even sure I could pin it down. Maybe it’s that I really lived and breathed Milo and Andrew’s lives. Their heartbreaks and triumphs and joy. So many of their moments were mine, only I got to give theirs an underlying, unbreakable, even if sometimes heartbreaking love.

But of course, not ALL THE THINGS can happen right now. Gearing up to November 14th, or perhaps sometime 😉 between November and January, you’ll find me in the corner, holding my own self as the clock ticks down to the actual release date!

For now, I’ll leave y’all with a little teaser: if you’ve never been to my pintrest, go on over, because I’ve made a little pinboard for What It Takes.

Kisses,

Jude.

PS: The Throwback Thursday Sock Saturday contest is still on! Come on y’all, I know you’ve got some great socks out there! Remember, the winner of the contest gets a free, signed copy of either Hush or What It Takes!!

ALSO, today through Sunday, all Interlude Press E-books are 25% off at All Romance!! DANG. Great timing. Get Hush, then grab some socks, win a free copy of What It Takes. Is that perfect or what??

In Gratitude

As some of you may know, a few months ago we lost a very loved member of our Interlude Press, Lex. Even after months of sitting on this post because I just couldn’t put these words down, I feel like nothing I say can do him justice. For the most beautiful words that describe him, I’d send you to K. E. Belledonne’s post.

Lex was irreverent and fun. He was brilliant — more so that I can even understand — and he cared for every single member of our family in a quiet and steadfast way. He believed in us, and worked tirelessly on each of our books. Lex was always available whenever I had any sort of technology fail, even the most simple ones (I can’t, computers are hard, ‘kay). He loved sending me that one video of Cheyenne Jackson performing a song from Xanadu at the Tonys. (I can’t help but think of him every time I watch American Horror Story because I never thought I’d get so much sexy Cheyenne on my screen and I wish I could have inappropriate conversations with Lex about him). He checked in with me when I wasn’t doing well.

Lex made me laugh. So much.

When Hush was in it’s early stages of edit, its working title was Dark Horse. One day I was talking to my editor Annie and telling her how excited I was to see my cover art, because she had told me it was beautiful. And then she started to laugh, because she was also talking to Lex, who told her he’d found the perfect cover for my book.

dark horse pic

I can’t find the picture that’s the big version, where it’s clear that they are at a urinal.

Lex spent the next year saving gems for me — we’ve all seen random horse head photos, but Lex really found some funny ones, or weird ones, and held on to them.

After the Superbowl when I was still working through my back injury I got a link to the great Superbowl Cheerios Dad commercial, which has a tiny horse head cameo. After I had my gallbladder out this summer, I got a great one I can’t seem to find, of a naked soccer player (well IDK I could see his bum, he was probably actually wearing a modesty sock) and a horse. It was artsy and weird and like WHAT? It made me laugh and then curse because the laughter hurt but I needed it.

The last time I spoke to Lex, we talked about how he was putting the inside of my upcoming book, What it Takes, together. He showed me a gorgeous little graphic of a tree my artist had made and told me it was for the inside of my book; he teased me a bit and said he would show me what he was planning in two weeks. He said he couldn’t wait to show me what he’d done. And then he made a morning wood joke.

And that was it. It’s the most bittersweet memory I could carry of him. Having a morning wood joke be the last words we spoke would be a dark sort of funny he would get a kick out of.

When I got the cover of my ARC in the mail, I opened it to look at my dedication page (I dedicated the book to him), and then I saw it:

IMG_4276 I don’t know if I can do the moment I saw this justice. I had thought I would never get to see what he’d planned, and having it in my hands — and so much more beautiful than I could have imagined — absolutely broke me. Holding a book you wrote in your hands for the first time is a moving experience — all of your hard work, frustration and doubts, the times you’ve cried over the thing, the moments you know you’ve done something great — they’re all in there.

But they don’t remotely compare to this. For the rest of my life, I’ll have this book, and with it, a tangible, stunning memory of a man I cared for deeply. And I can’t go find him in chat and thank him, but I want to put it out there in the world: Thank you Lex. For friendship and laughter, for the work you put into making my dream of being a published author come true, and for sharing all of your special gifts with the world.

Supporting GLADD Spirit Day and SALE!

spirit day

Today is GLADD Spirit Day, and IP has gone purple in support of LGBTQ youth—but we’d like to do something more, So all day Thursday, we’ll donate $1 for every book and eBook sold at the IP Web Store, and a special bonus they are discounting every book and eBook sold from the IP Web Store by 25 percent! Save money and support GLAAD with every title! Just use the code SPIRITDAY at checkout for your discount!

Today is the PERFECT day to announce that I’ve changed up The Sock-Off contest. The winner of the contest can choose between receiving a signed copy of Hush or a signed copy of my upcoming novel, What it Takes!