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

 

 

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Something Like A Love Song Book Review

Something Like a Love Song (print edition)

This story is love as a verb. I don’t even know if that will make sense to anyone, but that’s what it is.

It’s an emotionally difficult book to read, but I applaud Burton for tackling such a difficult story and just executing it brilliantly. There was nothing prettied up for this book about Landon’s injury or recovery; it was slow and difficult and there were successes and setbacks.

I really appreciated that Burton paid such good attention to Dylan’s emotional journey, beyond caring for and loving Landon so much. With Landon’s physical trauma, it could have been easy to create a more formulaic book that focused just on him and gave him a perfect partner. But Dylan isn’t perfect, he is just as damaged by the events of that night as Landon. And together and individually these men have to learn how to heal and to move on.

Underpinning this book is a constant and very beautiful sense of love and community. Their families are beautifully flawed, but also come together and love and support both Dylan and Landon in individually helpful and at times frustrating ways — but ultimately, without that community, none of them would have gotten through the experience as well as they did.

I have to admit I’ve never had a family member suffer a brain trauma, but I have cared for a parent in end of life transition who had multiple brain tumors that changed him completely (both his personality but also his abilities) and his decline was very painful to watch. I felt so much understanding and honesty and care from Burton for her characters, as well as honest portrayal of what people who love someone but are watching this happen to a family member/loved one are going through.

The icing on the cake is Burton’s writing which is clear, consistent, and lovely throughout.

Highly recommended, along with a box of Kleenex.

You can find Becca Burton here, and her books are available to order at

The Interlude Press bookstore (where you can currently get the paperback + e-book package for the price of the paperback, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Smashwords, All Romance, the iBookstore, and an Indie Bookseller near you!

 

 

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.

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.

Book Review: Small Wonders, by Courtney Lux

From the moment I read the excerpt of this novel, I knew this was a special book. There are so many things to praise, I’m not even sure how to organize my thoughts. The prose is beautiful; it just lit up the poet inside me. I love when I read a author whose voice is so clear and strong it stays with me for days.

The story pacing is excellent. The characters are each completely fleshed out and unique and integral to the story. It is hard to create a cast of multiple characters where each compels you in some way.

Trip Morgan himself is the most compelling part of this book. You fall hard for him even when he’s unlikable. Your heart breaks even when he’s being unlovable. Lux handles the trauma of his childhood skillfully and with great care. It’s not over dramatized, it’s not heavy handed or melodramatic; again, I think it takes a skilled writer to pull that off.

The structure, with alternating point of view chapters, worked so well — this is a hard sell for many people, but I think it was vital to this story. Trip is so closed off to the world that having his point of view so offered in the interim chapters gave us glimpses into his childhood and world we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. His voice is so clear, and his story is heartbreaking, and as the story unfolds, we learn just how beautiful and sweet and lovely he is despite everything he’s been through.

Watching him and Nate slowly unfold and fall for each other felt like an intimate privilege. In particular, the scene where they go out with Scarlett served to show us their growth very well. All through the story, we witness who these two men are when they are alone together. Putting them in the world with others as witness — particularly ones who know them so well — gave us such a sweet, kicky feet, romantic scene that felt completely right.

All in all, this book is a stunning debut from an author I cannot wait to read more from.

Fall eBook Sale!

As the temperatures plummet with Fall sweeping in (digression to complain over the three hours we spent outside at a little league game in 45 degree weather, with WIND, holy shit), it’s time to curl up with something warm (I have a french vanilla hazlenut coffee) with the best kind of friend — a book!

Good news then: this weekend, you can run over to IP’s webstore and get 20% off any eBook using the coupon code FALL when you check out.

There are so many great books to chose from, but if you are struggling to decide, I won’t *stop* you from grabbing a copy of Hush. If you already own it or are looking for something with a different flavor, do not be afraid to send me an ask and I can give you a recommendation based on what you are looking for! Trust me, I know my stuff, I’ve read them all 😀

Question Day!!

So it’s been a while since I’ve interacted with y’all, and I didn’t want my silence over the past few months to strike fear into your hearts that I am fading away! I am so here. And I’d love to chat. Answer questions. Talk it up. We can chat about Hush, for those of you who read it over the summer or recently, or anyone who has burning questions (I know some of y’all do!), or about What It Takes, which I am SO FREAKING EXCITED TO TALK ABOUT AND HAVE Y’ALL READ.

Also, I want to give a super big shout out to Buckeygrrl Designs for my banner. Isn’t it gorgeous?

I have a little Ask Me tab at the top of my blog at all times, but in case you don’t want to scroll up, here ya go!

Welcome to Carlina University

Hush is set in a fictional university, Carlina University, in a suburb of Chicago. One of my favorite parts of creating this location was getting to research and create an inspiration board for what Carlina might look like. I love the look of older buildings and dorms on college campuses (In fact, the one with the snowflake lights is the dorm I lived in when I was in college).

There is something whimsical and lovely about this style of architecture and the beautiful landscapes I found. The midwest in seasonal changes is utterly beautiful. The stunning changing of leaves as fall bustles in with wind and the cold edged winds; the hush created by a snowfall that blankets everything; the heat of waxing summer, shaded by greening of late spring leaves – all of these were things I kept in mind as I put these characters into this world I created.

I love getting to see examples of images authors had in mind when writing, and I thought you all might enjoy seeing what *I* had in mind as I wrote Hush.

carlinainspiration1 carlinainspiration2 carlinainspiration3 carlinainspiration4 carlinainspiration5

Reader questions!

I am so excited that my book is out in your hands now, and that you all have questions! I have a new shiny Ask Me Things! button up on the link bar at the top of the page, so if you have any questions, ask away!!

For now, I have a question from a reader (that’s a thrilling phrase!)

Hi Jude – I read and loved your book! I couldn’t put it down. I did have a couple of questions though. I sort of felt like there could be a sequel – do you have any plans for more with Wren and Cam? And also, I sort of felt like Peyton and Cam might have been ‘gifted’ themselves, and maybe Peyton knew but Cam had no idea, which is why she travels so much. Am I reading too much into it? Again, the book is amazing! -Slayerkitty

First of all, thank you so much, I am so glad you liked it!

This book definitely comes to a close at a natural ending point in one arc of Wren and Cam’s lives and relationships. It’s a coming of age story, but the funny thing about coming of age is that, in my experience, it is a thing that slowly happens in waves. And it’s happening to all of the characters in this book. There’s so much of their stories left to tell! I would love to revisit that in the future, and should the time and opportunity present themselves, I’ll definitely be addressing Cam and Peyton’s stories further. For now, I’ll leave you with a hint: the author Q&A at the end of Hush has one, and an invitation to let your imagination take you anywhere you’d like….

 

Last week on Hush…

I present this like it’s a tv show recap… alas, not. It is a round up of the sneak peek tweets you might have missed! In 140 characters or less, in no particular order:

~*~

He blushes and she laughs like butterflies storming the room, beautiful and startling.

~*~

Nebraska unfolds as the highway ribbons its way closer to a house filled with an energy Cam once unconsciously freed himself from.

~*~

Running gives him what nothing else in his life has offered: an indescribable feeling he chases as fast and as far as his legs will take him.

~*~

The look is fleeting; just a moment and it is gone, as the focus of the room shifts toward the front. It’s nothing.

Only it’s not.

~*~

His body feels like this beautiful live thing, this glowing presence, perfectly held with Cam all around him…

~*~

He never suspected Cam could be like this, so easy in the aftermath, so open and sensual. Wren can’t remember a time he felt like that.

~*~

“I’m going to make you want things you never thought you would.”

~*~

Hopefully this book will bring you on the journey Wren and Cam go on! I can’t wait to share it with you all starting TOMORROW!!!

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!