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.

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.