Friday, August 8, 2014

Say Hello to Friday Friend, Jessica Lauryn

My NJRW friend, Jessica Lauryn, is visiting us once again. She has a new book out and is talking to us about writing a series.

A great book can do wonders for the soul. It’s there for you when you need a friend, or a distraction. It can serve as an escape, or a fantasy in which to indulge. Books comfort us, and they take us to places and times we’d otherwise never know. There’s only one thing I love more than a great book. That is, a great series. 

When I was an adolescent, I loved reading Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley High. Twin sisters Jessica and Elizabeth served as the perfect contrast to one another. One is introverted, smart, and studious, while the other is the life of the party. At the age of 12, I had no idea why I was so drawn to the duo, other than the obvious fact that I wanted to be living the life of a teenage girl myself. But looking back, I realize the draw actually stemmed from something much deeper than that. 

Series writing can take on a life of its own. In a romance series, the author creates her very own world. She starts with a setting: a time, a place in which her characters will exist in. Then, she gets to work building. Hero and heroine’s story is told in book 1. And in book 2, a new couple typically takes center stage. I think the most exciting part of doing this, for me, the author, is figuring out how I will connect the characters from one book to the next. They don’t necessarily need to know one another, but I’ve found it can be a lot more fun when they do. Writing a series is very different from writing a stand-along book because you have a lot more time and space to play around with. You (the reader) get to see how a family, a group of friends, maybe even an entire town affects the lives of the people around them, possibly for years to come. 

My debut series, The Pinnacles of Power, was never supposed to be a series. While I was writing what eventually became my second release, Dangerous Proposal, I was creating what I intended to be the one and only book of its kind. I was, as writers do, spending hours inside the characters’ heads, trying to get to know them. Something I wasn’t expecting struck me while I was doing this. That was, there were several characters in the story besides my hero and heroine who had a story to tell. I already had a setting I loved (several settings, actually), and I had characters who had the potential to become couples, lovers, and soul-mates. They were screaming for me to tell their stories, and so I began doing just that. Barely realizing what I was doing, a series was soon born. 

Reading book 1 in a series may not feel much different than reading a stand-alone novel. Doing so, you’ll discover a plot, characters, conflict, and, as is the way with romance novels, a happily ever after. The real fun (at least, for me) comes in book 2, when you already know something about the authors’ world. In books 3 and 4, you know even more, and you’re likely to recognize the main characters as well. You may feel as though you sort-of know them as people, and the setting and time have become all-too familiar to you. This is when your imagination can really take over, because you can completely immerse yourself in the author’s fantasy world—the greatest thing a reader can experience! 

I love books. But given the choice, I prefer that they be part of a series. The imagination is one of the greatest things in existence. And I find it easier to put that machine to use when there is a world of stories and characters crafted and bound for my reading enjoyment! 

Blurb for Dangerous Secret:

Abigail MacKenzie has been trying to put her father’s tragic death behind her.  Set on becoming a teacher, Abigail wants nothing more than to forge a new, happy life.  But when a handsome stranger produces a random clue about her father’s shooting, hopes of finding her father’s killer come flooding back to the surface.  Abigail is determined to get justice for her Dad, even if it means learning the dangerous secret of a man with a will of steel and eyes that cut straight through the wall around her heart.

After making a reckless mistake and a mysterious discovery that cost him his job, medical student Ryan Newberry is happy to accept and position he can get.  But when he realizes that one of the employees who’ll be working under him at the Washington Valley Hotel is Abigail MacKenzie, the sweet, pretty girl he met weeks before, he fears the past might be in danger of repeating itself.  As one discovery leads to another, Ryan quickly realizes that he is sitting on a network of criminal activity.  In spite of the risks, he must keep Abigail safe from the surrounding threats.  He only hopes that his desires for his new front desk associate won’t lead both of them down a path of danger from which he won’t be able to protect them.

Excerpt for Dangerous Secret:

Abigail’s heart pounded as she stared at the metal object lying in the middle of the blanket. As many suspicions as she had about Ryan, she’d never really believed he was the killer. Aside from the fact that it would devastate her, it didn’t make sense for him to have murdered anyone. Her father’s shooter had left him for dead. Ryan had lost his mind because he’d thought she’d broken her arm.

She looked into Ryan’s eyes—eyes that were looking directly at hers. As bad as his having a gun looked, as bad as everything she’d surmised about him seemed, something inside her was telling her to believe in his innocence. She was sure she ought to be committed for even thinking that way. But she just couldn’t believe that this guy she’d come to know and even care about could be a killer.

Could she?

“Shouldn't you be calling the cops?” Ryan asked.

“I—”Abigail hesitated. Hardly believing her own naivete, because she was certain that she was being very na├»ve, she said, “I’m not calling the cops. I don’t know why, but I believe you. At least, I can’t be sure enough that you did anything criminal without more definitive proof.”

The warmth in his eyes shot straight to her aching core. “Thank you.”

Abigail smiled briefly. As though it were someone else saying the words, she went on, “I like you, Ryan. I’m sure you know that I do, but”—emotion spilled into her voice—“I can’t do this anymore. It’s dangerous, and…” She took a centering breath. “Just because I might believe in you, doesn't mean that you believe in me. So once I walk out that door, I don’t think that we should be alone like this again.”

Ryan nodded. Walking toward her, he wrapped his arms tenaciously around her body. His warm mouth coming against her ear, he said, “That doesn't mean we can’t be together tonight.”

A sensation of candescence spread through Abigail’s body. After months of fighting, she was sure Ryan had been doing everything he could to push her away. But here he was, standing beside her in a dark room, making her weak with the very sound of his words. A man she’d just discovered with a loaded gun—she was about to trust him with everything she had.

She trembled as Ryan inched closer. He took her hands and laid them against the center of his chest, just where they’d been before they pulled apart. She didn’t know what he intended, only knew that she wanted whatever it was like a desire she didn’t dared to dream.

Weary of the look in his eye, which indicated he wanted more than just to hold her, she said, “I don’t know, Ryan. After everything that’s happened, all the doubts and suspicion I’ve been carrying, and now this.” Looking from the gun on the bed to his twinkling blue gaze, she said, “I’m just not sure.”

He tightened his grip on her hands. “I know you’re not sure if you can trust me. I’ve never given you any reason to trust me. But if you knew how much I want you, how much I’ve wanted you since the beginning, Abigail…” He shook his head. “One night. That’s all I’m asking for. Just give me this one night. And I’ll make all of your dreams come true.”

Warmth shimmied over Abigail’s skin like melted butter. He was serious, and the look in his eyes confirmed that he meant what he was saying. Until just five minutes ago, she’d thought Ryan Newberry couldn’t stand her, that his only agenda where she was concerned was keeping her out of his hair. But the way he was looking at her, passion burning like wildfire in his eyes, all common sense seemed to escape her.

She perched on her toes as Ryan leaned in. Her eyes fell closed as his warms lips surrounded hers.

Author Links:


  1. Welcome back, Jessica. So nice to have you here today. Can't wait to read your latest book! I, too, love reading a series, because that way, the story never completely ends.

  2. Hi Jessica,

    Welcome to HWH! I love, love, love a series! In fact, I just finished REreading off of the books so far in one of my favorite romantic suspense series.

    When I wrote my first book, I always planned on having it be the first in a series of three. It was really fun to get to go back and visit with my original hero and heroine in the other two books. And now that the series is complete, I have it in my head to do a few short, spin off novellas, just because I'm not ready to let the world I've created go! :)

  3. Series sell well, too. So definitely a win-win--writing and attracting happy readers. Congratulations on your new release. Best wishes for stellar sales!

  4. Hi Jessica, and welcome back to HWH. I'd not thought about doing a series, but my editor suggested a possible spin-off from my latest novel, and I find I'm enjoying revisiting the same location and meeting some of the characters again. So much so that I'm already looking at a spin-off from one of my other novels!

  5. I'm glad to know there are so many fans of series writing out there. It's so much more fun when you get to follow the characters in their world, as you hang onto them for a few more stories, isn't it? Thanks for stopping by Debra, Ana and Paula!