Banner Time

Let’s talk visual inspiration for What it Takes; in pictures and an excerpt.

(Say it like you’d say Hammer Time and then sing that song to yourself for a moment. Go on, it’ll feel great!)

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        “The wind is up, but the beach is deserted. This has always been a quieter one, thanks to a longer walk through the dunes. There are sandbars far into the water at high tide and the sand is mostly exposed at low tide. A line of pebbles sweeps in an arc above the waterline, and below it is a second arc of seaweed. The tide is mostly out. The dunes wear their usual blend of pretty purple and white flowers and sharp grasses. 

       Milo sits a few feet above the rock line and pulls on his sweater. The sun is blinding off the water, but he wants to be blinded, wants to be forced out of his headspace. It’s so quiet, save for the agitated water. 

       Legs crossed, Milo pulls himself up straight. He closes his eyes and ignores the swirling colors behind his eyelids. He counts a slow breath in, three beats, then exhales for three. Takes a three-beat pause before breathing in. He imagines his breath as a triangle and projects that shape from his body. He lets his senses take in the beach, the quiet, the water, the grit of the sand whipped up by the waves. Tension seeps out of him when he exhales. He lets it go. Nothing is taken from him, nothing is forced. He can count these breaths as he wants. He suspends himself in the pauses: pictures a white canvas, bleeding jumbled.images of worry and anxiety, reds and blacks and angry oranges slowly dripping off, as if washed away by rain. 

       When he opens his eyes again, he’s calmer. That buzzing, anxious feeling is gone. The seaweed has been swallowed by the sea. Tide’s coming in. Milo watches it. The water begins to run in a slow progressing rivulet in a channel between the rocks. As the water creeps ever closer, it rises over uneven sandbars until it meets in the middle of that small channel, eventually overflowing and overrunning the strip of sand in the middle. Before it’s gone, Milo walks into the cold water. The rocks are rough under the soles of his feet. They’re thin-skinned against the sand; when he was a kid they’d been callused and used to beach and forest.
        He searches out bigger, colorful rocks and tosses them up the beach. He finds a perfect half shell with pinks blending into white in the center. In the middle is a bright blue fleck of sand. He picks that up too.
        By the path into the dunes and back toward his car is a wrecked piece of driftwood, hollow and pale from sun-bleaching. He arranges the rocks on top, makes a pattern of colors with the
shell on the end, a frangible beautiful thing, and then takes a picture. His mom will like that. The memory of making art of beach flotsam with Andrew haunts him.” p 145, What it Takes

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Last night I had awesome fun taking over the Interlude Press twitter and website, answering great questions about Hush, What it Takes and my secret third book.

I’ll be rounding some of that up for y’all later, but I wanted to share this banner I made for social media (other than this website, which was made by actual professionals, so it looks more professional).

An anonymous reader asked: I want to visit the setting of your book – it sounds so serene and beautiful. Is it a place you’ve always just imagined or is there an actual place that inspired it?

My quick twitter answer was that the scenery and natural settings were inspired my visit to Wellfleet for a poetry retreat a few years ago. I’ve wanted to use the inspiration I got from that visit for a while. Wellfleet didn’t work, logistically, for this novel, but I wanted to use what I saw and experienced — so I invented the town of Santuit.

While this is an invented town, the pictures in this banner are my own, taken from my trip. I have to admit that the log with stones was something I stumbled upon, I didn’t actually make that art the way that Milo did. That shell with the beautiful blue piece of sand is something I found as well. Unfortunately I didn’t take pictures of the forest they play in, but I assure you I did treck in there and see a lovely isolated pond; I did get to feel the hush of the trees and birds and the stillness of places people weren’t in.

So for those of you who were curious about visuals, inspiration and place, here is some of the magic I experienced and built Milo’s healing around.

 

 

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4.5 Stars for Hush

I was lucky enough to get a fabulous review from Prism Book Alliance this week. I wanted to share before our Twitter Takeover Tuesday (hint, today at 6PM EST, I’m @judesierra), if y’all had any questions about this novel either!

“Cameron Vargas meets Wren early on in his first year of college and is immediately attracted. What ensues is a game of compulsion, obsession, and sexual discovery that eventually and inevitably begins to lose its rules and boundaries. As Cam and Wren’s interactions become increasingly intense, the question of whether or not they can each provide what the other needs in a true relationship becomes paramount.

Jude Sierra is a gifted wordsmith, her early love for writing poetry clearly evident in the lush, vivid imagery and detail she weaves within her prose. The opening paragraphs ofHush mark her as a new favorite of mine, setting the stage for the finely-crafted story that is to follow:

Cameron Vargas’s introduction to college, from its first days into weeks, turns out to be a blur. Later he’ll think back to that time and wonder how he managed to create the canvas of such a pivotal time in his life into a sort of watercolor, pastels that blurred into one another with few distinct shapes or forms.

There was a canvas: complete, yes and from a distance a scene portrayed. But the finer points were lost, a fact he wouldn’t realize until later. Until after. 

Cam would like, in part, to say the difference is simple, that there was a distinct before and after. That his life before was simply before Wren. In chaos, in the months of searching to find the ground, he’d say this: that Wren had come into his life like a freak storm, unexpected and swamping, leaving him capsized and floundering.

I was immediately entranced.

Cam and Wren have an undeniable chemistry, their intimate scenes erotic and fiery with a powerful emotional element that simmers and burns just under the surface. Ms. Sierra allows the reader into her characters’ heads and hearts, and the results are visceral. Cam is completely enveloped in his profound desire for Wren, while Cam’s need for control, connected to a past that is revealed in agonizingly slow bits and pieces, is fierce and clearly defined. Cam is sweet and captivating; Wren is alluring and mysterious. Together they are magic.

Peripheral characters are also well developed and bring added dimension not only to the story, but also to the main characters’ personalities. Interesting roommate and sibling relationships are given ample page time and shed valuable light on the various aspects of Cam and Wren’s natures. Fully fleshed and authentic, these characters help round out the book and work together to create a strong sense of community, their concern for Cam and Wren’s well-being evident and heartfelt.

As tender as it is intense, this new adult m/m romance blends the intoxication of sexual discovery, a captivating touch of the paranormal, and the acute pain and euphoria of newly blossoming relationships into a unique, fascinating gem of a story. It is one that I will definitely be re-visiting and highly recommend…”

So many thanks to PBA for this. I am so happy to hear that people enjoyed Cam, Wren & Co. And who knows, maybe one day we’ll get to go back to their little world…

~*~

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