Meet Wren Allister

“Wren is a wildfire – mobile, blazing and ferocious, hurt and dangerous. He’s closed off and untrusting but kind at his core, careful of others and even more careful of himself. He’s beautiful and loving and experienced but he’s terrified with it.”- Penelope Henson

Wren Allister, what can I say…. Wren was one of those characters that was delicious and heartbreaking to write. To start, Wren is really, really beautiful. If I could coax a character from any book and into my bed…or arms…something — it would be Wren.

Physically, he’s gorgeous. True jet back hair, changeable green eyes, lovely skin. He’s shorter than Cam — about 5’9, which is perfect for me because I’m pretty short.

Wren is a lovely mix of personality traits. He has a playful side; he doesn’t have much opportunity in this book to show it, but you see it in some of his accessories, such as these elephant plugs:

Wren is very sensual, and not just in terms of sex — although his is very confident and comfortable with his sexual self. I had fun decorating his room and apartment with things that were soft and comfortable and comforting, because Wren enjoys these things a lot too. Likewise, I loved dressing Wren, because he dresses, often, exactly how he feels.

Wren is a mystery to Cam throughout most of the book. He’s very careful to only give Cam certain sides of his personality, and to only express his need in very controlled ways. The way he dresses is just one hint of the things he feels that Cam can use to build a concept of who Wren really is.  There are moments when he lets his guard down, or that Cam — who is so naturally observant and watchful — sees, when Wren’s sweetness comes through, despite all of his efforts to hide it. Wren has also experienced heartbreak: the kind that leaves someone with incredible insecurity and a lot of pain. He has a tremendous amount of love to give, and a pile of issues that inform the ways in which he interact with men.

There are many dichotomous ways I could describe Wren for you, but I feel as though Henson captured him so eloquently in the quote above.  For more insight into my characters I could never have put into so few words, you can find her review here.

If you want a glimpse at my Wrenspirations, you can check out my Wren board on pintrest. There’s a lot of fun clothing and some beautiful pictures of the man who was the base look for who Wren became. Much thanks to Pene Henson for the lovely review.


Hush is currently available for pre-order at Interlude Press and will be released May 19th. For a chance to win a free copy, head over here!

Meet Cam Vargas

The boy who stole my heart but confused the fuck out of me while doing it.

Cam is the first character we meet in Hush — he was the first character I wrote, and boy did I fall hard for him. But I didn’t understand him and it took me a long time to figure out why. In the end it seems simple: because he didn’t understand himself. Writing Cam’s journey was an honor and a terrifying responsibility for many reasons. The boy he is at the start of the book is not who he transforms into.

There are two things about Cam that I really wanted to share with you guys today. First, that there were qualities I knew he had from the start that reminded me of my late father. As the book progressed, I really got to help unfold a character who had a very special capability for love and resilience that my father had. People with these qualities – intangible faith in love and caring in all forms — are very special and rare. Because I saw this in Cam, I wanted to give him some of my roots as well, or at least bits of my life and my father’s life. Thinking of my father, and the importance of my heritage, I chose to make Cam’s parents Venezuelan. Cam is born in Nebraska, but his parents were both born in Venezuela. We don’t see a lot of his parents in this book, but I did have an opportunity to share a tiny bit of my own culture in this book that makes me ridiculously happy: when Cam goes home and his mother makes him arepas.

Despite the tensions in his own family, the idea of a family meal steeped in cultural roots was important to me. There was a period of time when I was in high school through post college grad when my Abuela, my uncles, my twin cousins, my sister, my father and I lived together. Sometimes one or two of us were off somewhere, but there was always this sort of core. Some of the best, happiest memories of my life happened over a family meal at my father’s large round dinning room tables. Arepa Sundays were epic — and I suspect a deciding factor for my  husband in wanting to marry in!

In a very short period of time I lost my father, uncle and Abuela. With that, our little family scattered a bit, but whenever we have a chance to see our cousins again, the first thing we plan is an Arepa Sunday (even if it happens to happen on a Thursday). This family tradition was one part of Venezuela that my family held on to, and that we have all carried on with.

It’s a small moment in Hush, but it was put in there with a lot of love!

Aside from delicious food, I do hope you all enjoy meeting Cam. He’s special, he’s a work in progress. He can be dense but is intensely loyal. He’s a wonderful dichotomy of quiet, still waters with a deeply sensual and kind of naughty streak no one, least of all him, suspects.

Until Wren Allister comes into his life.

P.S.: I was going to give you more detailed character stuff, but the squirrel in my got distracted by the talk of food and by all of my feeeeels. Oh well. You can find out all about him in Hush!

~*~

Hush is currently available for pre-order at Interlude Press and will be released May 19th. For a chance to win a free copy, head over here.

Sneak Peek Countdown!!

We are 10 days away from launch, and I’m so excited I’m coming out of my skin!!

Okay no that would be gross. But I am super excited. Trust me!

From now through the 18th, I’ll be treating you all with some sneak peeks of my upcoming novel, Hush.

Are you following my twitter account yet? Because you’ll find some little gems there every day. Following here? Stay tuned for peeks at five characters — Cam, Wren, Nate, Maggie and Nora — who make up the little world of Hush.

Hush is currently available for pre-order at Interlude Press and will be released May 19th. For a chance to win a free copy, head over here!

“A story about two young men coming of age.”

This past weekend I received a wonderful review from one of my advanced readers, and there were some lovely parts that just hit the nail on the head, articulating the things I was aiming for and worked hard for while crafting this story.

At its core, Hush is a story about two young men coming of age and finding themselves….The chemistry is electric. The sex is hot. But growing up and figuring out how to be vulnerable is at the core of the story. And that’s what had me hooked.”

Vulnerability and discovery were definitely core themes in this book, so I am thrilled that I was successful in conveying that.

Additionally, completely selfishly, I got such a kick out of her love for my cast of side characters:

But this book is more than a romance – and part of the reason you get to know these two men so well is a really compelling group of supporting friends. Maggie  – likeable, outgoing, wise, confident, Nate – Cam’s easy, supportive, relationship-reluctant roomie, and Nora – gifted, emotional, easily connected and Wren’s best friend. This gang of friends helps open up both the main characters, and creates a college world of fun and quirky chaos.”

Each of these characters was great fun to write, and I’ve fallen head over heels for them. Leaving them behind when I finished this book was bittersweet.

Watch my blog in the next few weeks for sneak peeks at each of these characters!

Thank you so much to Gleekto for the fabulous review. To read it in it’s entirety, head on over here!

Down the bunny trail, yet again

One of the worst things about being a squirrel is that when something shiny rolls off in the periphery and distracts the ever living crap out of you, something gets dropped. Generally it takes me a while to come down from the ohhh shiny high; sometimes the distraction is sexy enough to hold my attention for a while (by sexy I generally mean intellectually sexy, because I’m about 99% in my head at all times). I am very much like this about writing projects.

Fun ideas come to me often — sometimes in the form of a word or a song. Often those little plot bunnies are interesting enough to warrant a trip down the bunny trail (that sounded really sexy but also maybe the wrong kind of sexy even though it’s not meant to be at all). And rarely, but notably, these little forays reach full on, obsessive levels of shiny object insanity.

One of these plot bunnies took over my life last November during NaNo, and I was lucky-ish that this coincided with edits for Hush — not because that wasn’t it’s own hell, juggling to incredibly different stories at once — but because there were other commitments I could drop. Things like getting ready for the release of a debut novel…

(hint…right now. 24 days and counting WTF how is this my awesome life?)

I managed to close out one phase of writing that story in March, which was great because yay! time to breath. But alas, there are always bright objects in the universe…so yes, right now, I am currently lost in the woods chasing a very wily rabbit, which is incredibly inconvenient timing.

That said, there really isn’t anything shinier (that…doesn’t look like a real word to me…but there’s no wavy red line under it, I’ll tentatively trust you spell checker thing, don’t make me regret it) than what is going on right now…getting ready for a virtual blog tour, finalizing things on Hush, starting to get feedback on Hush that went out to advanced readers. Seeing your book through other peoples eyes is terrifying but also amazing; I will always know each intention behind my story, the arcs, the characters and what motivates them. Other readers will not which can be an anxiety producing concept. However, one of the best things we bring to a table as readers are our own filters. That’s what makes a book you pick up off a shelf and fall in love with yours.

As far as my book goes, I won’t pretend that I don’t hope it finds its way onto that yours shelf of yours.

(that sounded better in my head) (just run with it) (or as I like to do, run away with it)

– J

Hush is currently available for pre-order at Interlude Press and will be released May 19th. For a chance to win a free copy, head over here!

Library Journal Review of Hush

I could not be more over the moon about the lovely review Library Journal gave Hush:

“In her debut novel, Sierra explores Cam’s emotional confinement and burgeoning self-discovery with poetic delicacy, as she does with Wren’s guilt and complete fear of relinquishing himself to the vulnerability of a relationship. Through a great deal of character exposition, Sierra skillfully captures the frustration of navigating identity and interpersonal relationships for those to whom it doesn’t come easy. The subtle twist of fantasy enhances the narrative while also complicating the notion of consent…it is a worthy read and a valuable addition to the genre.”

Hush is currently available for pre-order at Interlude Press and will be released May 19th. For a chance to win a free copy, head over here!

Hush Giveaway!

Free books are awesome right? I am so pleased to share a free book giveaway for my debut novel, Hush.

Hush is an erotic m/m romance that chronicles the relationship between Wren, a man with the gift to compel other people’s feelings and desires, and Cam, a naive college freshman. Under Wren’s tutelage, Cam begins to understand his sexuality and gain confidence in himself. Over time, what started as a game between them intensifies and becomes more complex than Wren expected, forcing him to examine his own fears and choices.

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If you’re in the US and want to get your hands on one of five print copies of Hushenter the Goodreads giveaway. The winners will be announced on May 26.

For a giveaway of three multi-format ebooks of Hush, available both in the US and internationally, click on my Rafflecopter giveaway instead. There are over 40 days left in that one!

Hush will be released by Interlude Press on May 19th. It is available for pre-order with an excellent deal right now — for the price of the print book, you get the ebook free!

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.