Updates and book recommendations!

Yesterday on Facebook, I admitted that I suck at multiple platforms (is that what we’d call them?). For some reason, I’m great at obsessing over my twitter feed, at posting on Facebook groups (but now my own feed?) and catching up on things on Goodreads (though note to self: DON’T READ REVIEWS. Lol).

Not much has gone on here that’s terrible exciting (related to my writing life). I went on the most beautiful beach vacation up in Caseville, Michigan with my family. Seriously.

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That is, no joke, an unfiltered picture I took from the deck of the cottage we were staying in. That was a lovely vacation– beach, sun (we’ll ignore the slight sun poisoning I got), sleep and BOOKS. I read so much great stuff! Zane Riley’s With or Without You which I reviewed here. It’s a follow up to Go Your Own Way from last year. It’s a series I so highly recommend. I re-read Avon Gale’s Power Play, and because I’m the luckiest girl alive, got to read an early copy of her upcoming book, Empty Net (which is currently available for Pre-order!! And it’s on sale right now). Y’all, this book is SPECIAL. This is by far the best thing I’ve read from Avon, and she’s an incredibly talented writer.

I also went on an L.A. Witt tear, and read two of hers: Ex Equals and For the Living, which I enjoyed quite a bit. And because I am OBSESSED, I re-read Fast Connection by Santino Hassell and Megan Erickson. I love this series, and my love for Dominic Costigan cannot be contained. Finally, I rounded out a week of great reading with Garret Leigh’s What Remains. LORD, I cannot. Please read it. And when you fall in love, go read Becca Burton’s Something Like a Love Song.

Otherwise, on the writing front, I’ve been outlining a new project I am very excited to write. It’ll probably take a while, with grad school coming up, and my first semester teaching at a college level starting. But I’m feeling very inspired, which is good news 😀 If you see me tweeting about #ProjectKeys, that’s it. Who knows what hints might get dropped?

Finally, in exciting news, the release date for Idlewild has been moved to December 1st! You might be wondering wny moving it back is exciting — first because that means I have extra time to really work on making this book as great as it can be. Also, December 1st is my birthday.

Okay, written down those seem like selfish reasons, LOL. Anyway, keep an eye out for stuff related to Idlewild in the coming months!

Finally, I am pondering putting together a book giveaway of some sort… must ponder. But if you’ve been wanting a paper copy of one of my books, stay tuned for more info!

~*~

Both Hush andWhat it Takes are available for purchase now at:  Interlude Press Web Store
AmazonAll RomanceBarnes & NobleBook Depository, Apple iBookstore, Smashwords, and Independent Bookstores

Where *is* Waldo though?

On twitter, duh.

And thus opens my first blog post this the dawn of time. Brilliant, aren’t I?

Seriously though, I am a tweetaholic. It’s just so easy to tweet about the meaningless drivel of my life, particularly since I’ve hardly been on my actual computer since the semester ended. Plus, for Mother’s Day I got a kindle of my own, which is a lovely treat but I am fail at typing on a regular keyboard without typos, you cannot even imagine how often I embarrass myself with the typos I miss when typing on that thing.

I am getting back into the swing of things in a tentative sort of way. I’m doing a lot of caring for my mother, who is going through cancer treatment, which means I’m away a bit.

But on the happier end of things, Idlewild is going to be in everyone’s hot little hands in October. I am excited to share it with you, and Detroit, and Tyler and Asher, who are lovely and complicated men. Of course I’m full of the nerves that come with people reading my stuff, but thankfully I have months and months to worry and fret until it happens.

Welp, That was helpful 😉

I’m also excited to report that I’ve officially made a playlist for the story idea that’s been kicking around and hollering to be written. With life as it is (we’re moving soon, my mother, getting ready to release a book and all the edits that go into that), who knows how it’ll take shape or at what rate. But generally when something gets a playlist, that means shit’s gotten real. This probably excites me more than you all, but I’m used to writing at a faster pace and more consistently, and I had been bone dry in the inspiration department for a good month and a half (yes, when I see that written it seems slightly ridiculous to worry about, but like I said, I am always working on something). I really want to write this one, even if it’s slow, so feel free to poke me from time to time. I’ll have to give this project a secret name so that y’all have poke me efficiently. I’ll get back to you on that.

For now, I’ll just say that my playlist has gotten to Sia’s song, Alive. Punch in the gut, that song. Particularly when you know Sia’s story, and particularly since I connect with it on a personal level in my experiences. And (ahem) perhaps because I have a character with a sort of similar story to tell. BUT DON’T FRET. There’s happy stuff in there!! Lots of happy songs and feelings!!

Alright, I am off to consult with a student and to continue reading this AMAZING story written by my super talented friend, Pene Henson, who consequently just received a STARRED REVIEW in Publishers Weekly for her upcoming novel, Into the Blue. Surfers! Friends to lovers! Seriously, I cannot recommend this book more (consequently, the story I am reading is her next work, which is lovely).

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

Cave Dweller Emerges

Hello all!

As anyone who has been following me knows, I’ve been completely MIA for months now. Which I apologize for — life just hit me and my family so hard, and often the pressure of writing a blog post in the middle of that seems insurmountable. A blog post? you say.

Yep.

I always want to give good content in some form. Relevant or witty or well put together. And since about June, I haven’t often had any of those faculties, or those that I did have were sorely tested by things like edits, family emergency, personal health crisis, surgeries, and now, going back to school.

That’s right. After 10 years and 6 as a stay at home mother, I am going back to school to get my MA in Writing and Rhetoric. I’m terrified and elated. I love my coursework and my cohort and my program, but am struggling with the load. I am lucky enough to have an assistantship (which means I work 20 hours a week at my writing center and they pay for my schooling and a small stipend), but the addition of the work load (which so far has been adding up to a lot more than 30 hours a week) has added to the challenge.

But the biggest challenge has been the loss of time I have with my children. I commute 1 hour a day each way to go to school, 4 days a week. Some days, I leave at 7 and come home at 7 and see my children for an hour. Other days, I come home at 4:30-5:30 ish. I get a few hours with them and then spend the rest of the few hours I have (2-3 a night) studying, cleaning, trying to make food ahead of time for the babysitter, and working. The driving is *killing* my hands and wrists and elbows, which contributes a lot to my silence.

As you can see, there is not a lot of time in there for blogging or writing. I am so hoping to get a handle on this load soon, because writing is incredibly important for my well being and creative self, and I miss it.

That said, I am so hopeful I can offer you better and more exciting content soon! With the release of my second book coming soon, I have so much I want to share with you and talk about and just squeeeee over.

Oh yeah, and did I mention a new book? 😉

Yes I did.

cover official

With pride and so much love I am sharing my next story, What It Takes, which will be available for pre-order in November and for sale January 14th, 2016.

Stay tuned for more info and details!!

Hugs and Kisses,

Cave Dweller Jude

(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.