I wrote a book and then….

Crickets chirped into the internet ether on this blog.

Pretty sure I’ve done this twice now, but I’d have to go back to the days after Hush was released to be sure.

The thing about it isn’t that I don’t love blogging (I do), but that I am just incredibly BAD at figuring out how to time things. I wrote Hush and somehow managed to align stars so that I was in serious edit phases at the same time as I was writing What it Takes. The day Hush when up for presale? Was the day I had to turn in What it Takes as a manuscript. I was very tired and emotional that day. The next day I pitched a couple of ideas to my publisher because apparently I can’t help myself? Thankfully, I’ve had a lot of time to write this third book I am working on. Not thankfully, I didn’t really think through what it would be like to try to write a book while IN grad school.

Not easy. At least not for me. I juggled grad school and writing the third book for NaNo (or well, the biggest chunk), but have been struggling to get it all together since. And in the time between those, What it Takes came out. A book coming out is a huge emotional investment and event, and the days after are so weird. Like…is anyone reading? Did they like it? What’s happening in the great old world?? The only thing one can do is check Amazon rankings to see if they change at all and obsessively check Goodreads for reviews (people don’t review as much on Amazon? Not sure why, but I’ll tell you guys, it’s pretty helpful to the author, because once you hit a certain number — 50 maybe? — your book starts to pop up as a suggested book which = more exposure).

I was very lucky after What it Takes came out to get such lovely reviews, it has made me so happy to know that you guys loved it! Keep on reviewing, it makes our days and helps our books 😀

That said, I am so close to a finish line with book #3 I can taste it. But I’ve been trying to do well in school (or well, keep up on readings, I do well in school as a rule), juggle new job responsibilities, and right now, deal with some really heavy life news.

Hence, a tiny bit of silence.

That said, Hush and What it Takes just had some great pre-Valentines sales a bit ago, so if you read and want to chat or ask question or anything, I LOVE that. I love interracting with people!

If I’ve read YOUR book recently, and haven’t reviewed (or perhaps not even recently, I owe Melissa Graves a review for her AMAZING book, Tainted Heart, that came out in OCTOBER how awful am I?) it’ll come! I’m just very behind and overwhelmed. You’ll fine out the most about what’s going on in my insane life at the moment if you follow me on twitter. Apparently I can only handle a commitment to 140 characters at a time 😉 I’m @JudeSierra.

In the meantime, if you have NO CLUE what I’m talking about, both Hush and What it Takes are available for purchase now at:  Interlude Press Web Store
AmazonAll RomanceBarnes & NobleBook Depository, Apple iBookstore, Smashwords, and Independent Bookstores

 

 

Who is This Squirrel Though?

By now you might be asking yourself, who is this lady claiming she’s a flighty woodland creature? I could do the usual Q & A here, but I thought it might be more fun, and informative to do a sort of different one. So, here ya go. Five things about me you never knew you were dying to know!

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be an epidemiologist and I wanted to study viral hemorrhagic fevers, specifically filoviruses like Ebola. When I was about 13 I was OBSESSED with reading books on outbreaks — I think I’ve read William Close’s Ebola at least 20 times. I kind of want to read it again now that I’m talking about it. I felt like I went through an *experience* reading about those poor Flemish nuns.

We can thank patriarchy for this not coming true — at some point I did some research, read that it was very hard for women to get jobs in this field, convinced myself I was not smart enough and that I’d never make it anyway because I’m a woman. (Once I hit my late twenties, I realized this is patently untrue and had a small moment of mourning for all the time in my late teens and early twenties spent buying into this crap).

What would we find under your bed? 

Two battered storage totes containing file folders with old paperwork such as paychecks, over a years worth of printouts detailing finances from my early marital years, letters sent and received in my teen years, a few knick knacks from my room when I was a kid, random cords to electronics we probably no longer own, lots and lots and lots of dust bunnies and socks. The only monster under there is regret that I lost the computer files with the templates for those spreadsheets because they were fucking complicated and awesomely detailed.

Have you ever eaten a crayon?

To the best of my knowledge no. But thanks to the friends episode where Monica, Chandler, Joey and Pheobe get stuck in Monica’s room while Ross and Rachel break up, I feel like I’ve been assured that if they could eat the leg wax, I might be able to eat a crayon if I absolutely needed to. I’m not sure I should use a 90’s sitcom as a reference point, but eh. I’m gonna.

What was the scariest moment of your life? 

Hold on to your hats for this story m’kay?

When I was eight (my sister was ten), we went to visit our grandma who lived in Pennsylvania. We flew alone (you know, with all the paper work for minors flying in this folder around my sister’s neck). For the second half of the flight, we were in one of those tiny puddle jumper type planes (IDK that’s what we call them).

So we’re getting close to the airport, only there’s a really bad storm and the pilot has to circle for a while waiting for it to pass. Okay, now I’m not a pilot and I was 8, so what I remember was that at some point he decided to go for it, I have no idea why. So we’re descending when the airplane hits an air pocket and begins to fall out of the sky. People hit their heads on the roof of the plane and were bleeding, luggage went flying, I saw my tiny life flash before my eyes. Luckily the pilot manages to like, shoot us upward and not kill us and then has to fly at an airport in Maryland because of potential damage to the plane.

Okay, so that’s only HALF of the story. Above is the part that was terrifying to my 8 yo self. Below is the part that as an adult with kids, I cannot believe actually happened and ended well.

We’re sitting around in this random airport when they decide we cannot get back on the tiny plane due to actual damage, and there aren’t any other flights. It’s just my sister and I, and as some point the airport people began to kind of lose interest in figuring out what to do with us. We’re sitting next to a nice woman who has been keeping us company. I’m guessing at this point that all the adult passengers have been solving their own transport problems — many of them decided to take taxis or something to get to the other airport. Nice lady decides to offer to carpool with us, and then a random priest asks if he can come too and of course, the more strangers the merrier right? So yeah, they stick us in a car with them. THEY DO NOT INFORM MY GRANDMOTHER, WHO IS TEARING AROUND HER AIRPORT TERRIFYING PEOPLE WITH HER WRATH.

Like, they had no idea we had been put in a car with total strangers and driven off.

Thank goodness this lady and priest turned out to be actual honorable humans to did deliver their payload (us) into my grandmothers arms.

Oh man, if I was any adult in charge in that situation, I would fear for my life in the face of my grandmother’s ire.

Do you write in multiple genres or just one? This questing feels a little like a let down after that last story, but I thought I should include an actual authorly question in here!

Yes. I don’t really think about genre when I have a story to tell. What the story wants, it gets. Hush is unusual for me only because it’s the first paranormal book I’ve written — I do tend toward real world romance. But I’ve written YA, dystopian future (that was fun, that had a poly romance and I loved writing that so much).

Are you feeling a burning desire to know more? Ask away 😀

My first novel, Hush is currently available for pre-sale at Interlude Press.

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.

 

(Mis)Adventures of a Pantsing Squirrel

My life is chaos. Like, I won’t sugar coat and pretend that it’s remotely contained chaos. People inventory my life: a 3 year old and a 6 year old, a husband who works long night hours, and two cats with strange emotional issues. Alright, they say, of course this is chaotic.

 Then we have to factor in my decision a year ago to move from being a stay at home mother to a student. My plan: try to figure out what I wanted to do with my life after 6 years at home.

I won’t lie, there was no plan beyond hey I wanna try things out. In my spare time, when I’m not complaining about housework that’s never done, I’ve spent the last four years writing *copious* amounts of fanfiction for fun. My 6 year old went off to school, so of course I decided this meant I could totally go back to school (with an hour commute each way), keep writing, keep up on the house, maintain personal relationships, and somehow become an even more together, self actualized human. This makes so much sense.

I had very little plan, lots of interests, and as always, was a dervish of chaos. Going back to school was great fun — I was auditing courses in different studies. I mean, I could not have tailored a squirreling plan better. I took a class, discovered a shinny thing there, took another class in a different department, and wow that other thing was so shinny, so I darted that way and somehow wound up being pursued by a graduate program I’d never heard of that I would never have seen myself doing.

Somewhere in there, Interlude Press reached out to me and said, “Hey Jude, we hear you have a story to tell.” Oh sure! Of course! I can do that! I have time! Yay shiny things!!  (Okay the real story is a bit different, we can discuss that at a later date).

Side story time! (Bear with me, this happens) When I was in the 6th grade, my friends decided they had had the absolute most they could take of my rambling stories that went nowhere (TO THEM. I always knew what the point was) and started rolling their eyes and saying “What’s the point Jude?” before I could even get halfway through my monologue.

So! Here you guys get to say, “What’s the point Jude?”

Well, thanks for asking! The point is that when you boil me down, there’s two things you should know about me (okay, let’s not be reductive, there’s lots to know about me).

  1. I’m a squirrel. Check my author description and you’ll see in my little bio “My sister says I’m a squirrel, show me something shiny and I’ll dash in that direction.” Touché dear sister. Touché.
  2. I’m a Pantser. My editor, Annie, once lovingly (I hope?) called me a pantser in the middle of a conversation. At first I thought she was somehow referring to the fact that in my stories men take off their pants. My brain does weird things when put on the spot. Turns out she was referring to my endearing (I hope?) tendency to fly by the seat of my pants in all things.

I’ve been tooling around on this blog trying to figure out what I’m doing (story of my life). In so many parts of my life I am unpredictable and unscripted – often my pantsing, squirrely nature gets me into trouble, sometimes it has funny results. Sometimes it makes me a hilarious human being. Often, this just means shit goes wrong.

I know there have *got* to be some of you out there who are squirrels. Who pants life and who often stand around asking, “WTF just happened?” while laughing hysterically. Or crying. Maybe both. If so, hey, you’ve found one of your people! If not, I’ve discovered that my escapades can elicit exasperation and amusement at equal turns. Stick around and maybe I can make you laugh.

Either way, maybe you’ll find some amusement in the adventures I have to share from time to time. As an official Pantsing Squirrel, I can’t make any promises (there are always shiny things), but I’d love to spend some time in the coming months talking not just about my stories, but my crazy, unplanned, chaotic, lovely life, and hearing about yours.

So commence the (mis)Adventures of a Pantsing Squirrel.

Confessional: Should Sucks

I talk a lot about juggling balls in my life, and trying to find a balance between work, my young kids, and my art. And I am definitely a work in progress, because transitioning from being a full time mom to a student, then to working an hour away (only two days a week, but that’s still 2 days that I’m gone most of the day), and being able to give writing the attention it needs is very hard for me. I do tend to let things slip, and I also give myself a lot of permission to not be productive AT ALL after the kids go to bed. When it’s just me on days my husband works, the complete silence is a gift. My poor brain gets so over saturated by noise and sensory input during the day that if I don’t get some quiet alone time, I start to unravel.

This post isn’t really about writing, but it is a lot about learning to balance parts of my life, and about honoring my needs and limitations, and celebrating successes. I, like many people, have structured my life around should. “I should be doing this”, “I should be able to manage”, “I should be more patient with my kids”, etc.

Should is poison in our lives. It’s toxic and damaging when we let it overcome the celebrations and positive strides we take. On days where my brain feels like it’s shutting down (I really get over saturated by sensory input sometimes), I should only leads to guilt and low self esteem, which spreads into other sections of my life until my failings and shortcomings speak a lot more loudly than anything else.

I often feel as though I am failing at balancing part of my life, and that enjoying writing as an outlet with rewards that are intangible to my family but necessary to me, are bad.

I have long admired women like Joy Harjo, Marge Piercy, and countless others whose stories speak to tremendous will and hard work. Challenges they faced, triumphs they managed to pull out in difficult circumstances, balancing so many things in their lives, are things I often feel like I should be able to do, because I have the intelligence and capability to do so.

I often feel incredibly lazy because there is a lot of time in my life that I could be using differently.

But that really means that I’m not listening to my body and mind. That I am discounting my need to take care of the things that I need for mental health, for good interactions with friends and family, and for flourishing creativity. I discount the many things in my life I balance. All I see are the balls I’ve dropped. Last November and December, I was trying to balance classes, work, trying to get into grad school, my mother being in the hospital for two weeks, NaNo, and edits for Hush; I had a friend ask me if I kept elves in my pockets in order to do these things. But what I saw were the things I didn’t get done, or the ways I should have been able to do them better.

I don’t know if there is a clearer way to convey the message, to you and to myself, that should has the power to destroy positivity, self love and appreciation, and good outcomes in our lives.

In those moths, and January, I helped my mother through a two week, two surgery, emotional roller coaster of an ordeal. I got into grad school, got a perfect grade in my course. I finished edits for Hush, even though I was an emotional wreck that perhaps made it harder than it could have been (oops). I spent two weeks literally on the floor after a debilitating back injury, and I wrote the rough manuscript for my upcoming book.

Should is a word I want to burn away (in the fireplace might be nice, because this winter has been cold as fuck), so that I can let myself say “I am fucking awesome”, It’s incredibly sad to me that tearing ourselves down is a natural state, but that owning how incredible we can be is often, especially for women, seen as bragging, ego driven, self centered hubris.

This week’s confession: I want to learn that I am fucking awesome. I’m not there yet, but there’s not room in my life for not appreciating myself, especially when it takes up or hinders precious time I could be enjoying the gifts in my life.

Well and working on this manuscript, because it’s due soon, but also because it’s a story I love, want to tell, and desire to give my very best to.

Anyone reading this: I would love to see us all working on these positive statements and telling should to fuck off. If you want, I would love to see these messages in the comments or reblogs so that we can all support each other, and cheer for our successes.