Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Welcome Jessica Lauryn

I'm delighted to welcome fellow NJRW writer, Jessica Lauryn, to my blog today. We're doing a swap, so she's featured here and I'm featured on hers.

So tell me, what is your writing style or schedule? Do you have one? 

I’m a plotter, so my preference is to plot out everything I’m going to write before I actually write it. I clam up at the idea of creating a rough draft from scratch, but if I tell myself I’m doing an “outline,” the words just come. I think the story out before I put my hands on the keyboard, but a lot of ideas will come to me as I’m physically plotting. (Ideas = More Ideas!) My aim these days is to get as close to 100% of the story down on the first shot, with the idea that I’ll do several edits later, as many as it takes until there’s nothing more I can do to make the story better in my opinion, just different. I’ll include actual dialogue in my outline and as much description as I have the patience for at the time and can ponder up without becoming too distracted from the actual story. As a general rule, narrative (internal thought inside a character’s mind) comes pretty easy to me, and creating it also helps me to build a story in a linear succession. As far as an actual writing schedule goes, I’ve had to change mine up about a million times, as life surely has a way of taking precedence over writing. Most recently, I’ve taking to writing in small increments spread throughout the workday. I’ve been self-employed for a few years now, and I decided I may as well work that angle to my advantage and do my writing during a time of day that works for me, namely while there’s still daylight!

Where do you actually write?

This is something that has changed many times over the course of my writing career. Truth be told, I’ve typically not had the luxury to write where I want to, or when I want to. So, I’ve had to get creative and learn to tune out distractions. I’ve written at everyplace from Starbucks to my car while parked at lunch hour. One type of writer I have great respect for is the one who is so in love with her story and her characters that she writes her book at work. I’ve been there myself, so on a roll with my story that I couldn’t stop and raced through my assignment just so I could salvage whatever extra time I had left over, for writing. Nowadays I work for myself, and ironically I’m busier than ever! But I am learning all over again how to make my writing a priority and I am fortunate enough to be doing it from behind a desk where no one is going to sneak up behind me and tell me to get “back to work.” 😉

Do you write linearly or not?

Very much so, probably to an obsessive degree. I really find, for me, that I can get into the story what needs to be there when I’m writing it in order – it’s how I keep from having any missing elements later on. I will occasionally find a gap and realize that I need to add in a scene or two after the rest of the book has been plotted, but honestly, that’s rare. I outline a book line by line, scene by scene, chapter by chapter. I do my edits the same way. When an outline, or draft is complete I go back to the beginning and read the story straight through, making extremely detailed notes in a separate document about what I plan to change. This takes hours of course, but it’s best for me to do this in as close to one sitting as possible as I am literally keeping the entire book’s details in my head. I’m really not a story-bible author—I prefer to rely on my own memory. I work much better this way, and I repeat this process as many times as it takes for me to be satisfied with the story.

 What sort of other activities keep you from actually writing?

I’ve recently started ballroom dancing with my fiancé. It’s something that I did briefly in college but I never really took the time to hone my skills, so Bill and I are making up for lost time together. Bill made it into the Silver level at our dance academy before we met, so I have a ways to go in catching up to him. It’s a great indoor activity for us, as it’s been such a cold autumn here in New Jersey – in the summertime we’re doing everything from kayaking to hot air ballooning, and we saw some amazing waterfalls this past year. I’m also a big antique collector – old perfume bottles, dolls and cameos are some of my favorite things to look for. I keep up with the soaps, even though good storylines sometimes come and go in waves. These visual stories can help me with my own writing though, especially so because I’m listening to actual voices speak, voices that I can perhaps play around with, in my mind, later on.

Do you have support, either from family and friends or a writing group?

I have several family members who are supportive of my writing, one who serves as a critique partner to me and another who is a spot-on proofreader, better than any professional I’ve ever worked with. I’m also fortunate to be a member of New Jersey Romance Writers, our fabulous local chapter of Romance Writers of America, through which I’ve made invaluable connections, gained a well of knowledge about the publishing industry and made life-long friends.

How long does it normally take you to write a novel?

It usually takes me about a year to complete a novel. My novels are on the lengthy side, averaging around 92 thousand words, and I work full-time as well, so writing must be scheduled around that. I had a few years where the pace in my routine slowed down a bit and I wrote 4 full length novels in about 2 and a half years. That was a lucky break, however, one I’m not necessarily expecting to come my way again any time soon. 

Who or what are your inspirations?

One of my favorite things to do when I’m writing is to reform a former villain, a man or woman who’s lost their way for a time, having committed any wrong from white-collar crime to murder. I’m greatly inspired by characters and people who fit that bill, because, let’s face it, we all make mistakes, and it is incredibly uplifting to see another person bring themselves back from their lowest point—it reminds us that we all possess the same ability. It also demonstrates just how powerful the phenomenon of love is, as love is always at play somehow when a villain turns his life around. Suspense inspires me as well, (nothing too graphic or violent for my taste, I’m not one of those romantic suspense authors!) but I definitely want to see my characters in danger, perhaps several times leading up to the climax, or beyond it. Characters are often highly motivated to act on their desires when they fear their lives are in danger, and passion is what I, and my readers want to see the most! That said, I’m also inspired by the amazing stories some of my closest author friends tell, as well as by real-life scenarios and quite often, whatever crazy ideas find some other way inside the well of my imagination.

If there’s a single aspect to writing that really frustrates you, what is it?

I’ve heard a lot of other writers say that doing edits frustrates them. I’d say the same, but I think (and I can’t speak for those other writers) that perhaps we have different reasons for feeling this way. I’m not intimidated at the thought of doing edits – books are rather like a math problem to me and I know that if I stare at a story long enough, any problem can be worked out. Also, my method of making notes regarding what ought to be changed works very well for me. But nevertheless, the process is a long one. In the time that it takes me to complete one novel I could have come up with the ideas for a hundred others, so I wish the overall process didn’t take as long as it does. There are so many stories I want to write – I hope I’ll have enough time during the course of one lifetime to get them all down!

Given unlimited resources, what would be your ideal writing environment?

Honestly, I wouldn’t need unlimited resources to create my ideal writing environment. But perhaps a little bit of control over the weather wouldn’t hurt! When it’s nice outside, particularly during those rare days of the year where the temperatures are mild and it’s bright and sunny, I love to sit outside, ideally by a pond or lake of some sort and just let my imagination take me where it will.  Being in a beautiful outdoor setting is very inspiring to me and I swear, the ideas come easier because of where I am. Opportunities to write in such an environment are especially beneficial when outlining or creating a new story because new ideas flow much more readily when I can shut out the rest of the world. A computer screen not affected by sun glare wouldn’t hurt the process either!

Tell me about your latest book.

A Sultry Performance is the third story in the Rabourn Theater Series, which is a series about love, passion and decades-old secrets. But A Sultry Performance is also a stand-alone title which can be enjoyed separately from the other stories. Chris Gordon, stage manager at Rabourn Theater, believes his late wife’s hit and run was never an accident. After learning that his wife was having an affair, he suspects the man she was entangled with, Oakley Sutherland, was responsible, and he ignites a plan to ensnare Oakley, working through Oakley’s fiancée, Victoria. Victoria, who is a dancer at Rabourn Theater, as well as the lead exotic dancer at Oakley’s nightclub Sultry & Sensational, won’t be taken advantage of. But when the most handsome man at Rabourn Theater takes an interest in her, she finds herself spiraling down a path she never expected to.  She agrees to give Chris’s daughter dance lessons, at his most insistent request. But as she finds herself falling deeper and deeper for her blackmailer, she wonders whether either of them will be able to keep from falling prey to the danger that lurks in the wings.

Where did you get your inspiration for your book?

It came from so many different places! First off, my initial inspiration for creating the Rabourn Theater Series spurred from my love of Phantom of the Opera. I loved the idea that someone (the Phantom) could become so obsessed with something so beautiful and that obsession, as well as past hurts and uncontrollable circumstances, could make that person very dangerous indeed. Thus, the major villain of the Rabourn Theater Series, Augustus Nathanson, was born. Augustus’s past, and present obsession with Rabourn Theater and the woman he once envisioned as its star affects the plot of each story in the series, and in A Sultry Performance we learn a big secret that Augustus has been keeping, which affects one of the major characters in the story. Chris Gordon, hero in A Sultry Performance is the funny yet mysterious man we meet in the first two stories, who acts as a sleuth on behalf of Evan Masters, stage director and Augustus’s one time right-arm. After writing A Passionate Play and An Amorous Dance, I wanted to know more about Chris and after noting at the end of An Amorous Dance that his wife was having an affair just prior to her murder, I was as eager as he was to reveal the truth about how she died and give Evelyn the justice that she’d never received. Enter heroine Victoria Morrow, the key to Chris’s plan. Having just started taking dance lessons again for the first time in over a decade, I was very inspired to write about this woman, who though at a severe monetary disadvantage in a world of privileged elites, possesses a dancing talent that is otherwise unparalleled in her universe. Victoria is the definition of a strong heroine and I wanted to see her bring a rumored ladies’ man to his knees, which she does and then some!

Do you have a favorite character and if so, who and why?

I really love all of the characters in this series but my favorite has to be Evan. Though he is a secondary character in A Sultry Performance, he is arguably one of the heroes at Rabourn Theater most in need of an epiphany. Having been lied to by Augustus Nathanson about the way his own budding acting career was destroyed, Evan is highly motivated to seek revenge, though his deep attraction to the late owner’s daughter, Hannah Rabourn has never died. I love creating dialogue and imagining it being spoken in Evan’s sexy British accent, I love his dry, sarcastic sense of humor and I especially love the way that he and Hannah can’t keep their hands off of one another as things heat up between them once again in An Amorous Dance, in an affair so hot and intense that it quickly becomes Rabourn Theater’s greatest scandal!

What are you working on now?

I took a brief hiatus from Rabourn Theater to dabble into my next series, which will similar to my debut series The Pinnacles of Power, in that we’ll once again be returning to a dangerous world full of criminal masterminds. My next series focuses on a group of crime-fighters, who’ve made it their mission to take down a very powerful drug trafficking organization. There’s danger, mayhem and a lot of passion along the way and be assured that love definitely conquers all! Once I complete the last pages of my final outline (I’m very close!), I’ll be diving back into book 4 of the Rabourn Theater Series. In this story, Dani Talbert, the dancer we meet briefly in An Amorous Dance and A Sultry Performance, has finally saved enough money to take her young son away from the place that has caused her so much pain. Having abandoned her dreams of being a lead actress long ago, Dani packs a bag only to be stopped by Ryder Nathanson, Augustus Nathanson’s younger son.  Ryder’s got his sights set on Rabourn Theater AND on Dani—they shared a brief encounter years ago and he’s never gotten her out of his head. His plan to take back his family’s legacy is simple, and it starts by improving his less-than-stellar reputation. If Dani doesn’t want her own secrets exposed, secrets that could put her in prison, she’ll have to agree to become his wife.    


#1 BookStrand bestselling author Jessica Lauryn has been writing since before she could hold a pen. Her days of storytelling through the art of playing with dolls inspired her to write romantic suspense novels The Romance Reviews describe as having "Just the right amount of passion and romance!" Villains often reform in Jessica's stories, and just may become heroes themselves! Jessica is an avid antique collector, as well as a proud member of Romance Writers of America and her local chapter, New Jersey Romance Writers.


Chris Gordon, stage manager at Rabourn Theater, suspects his late wife’s hit-and-run was never an accident. He believes the man she was having an affair with, Oakley Sutherland, was responsible and he vows to get Evelyn justice, igniting a plot to ensnare Oakley, working through Oakley’s fiancée, Victoria.

A well-known exotic dancer by night, Victoria Morrow has been fighting to make a better life for herself, and she won’t be taken advantage of. But when the most handsome man at Rabourn Theater takes an interest in her, she finds herself spiraling down a path she never expected to. Can Victoria resist Chris’s charms? Or will both of them fall prey to the danger that lurks in the wings?


“I’m fine.” Victoria hid her eyes.
Chris tucked a disheveled wave behind her ear. “You don’t look fine. You’re trembling, and you look as though you’ve been crying.”
Victoria did her best to hold it together, like she always did. But seeing the compassion in Chris’s eyes, compassion that ran deeper than anything she had ever been on the receiving end of, the emotions welled inside of her. As the tears spilled down her face Chris took her into his arms. His strength surrounded her. He brought her inside of it, brushing one strong hand up and down her back.
“Victoria,” he whispered, “why are you marrying that man?”
Victoria tried, but couldn’t think of a single reason why she was. For years, she’d been telling herself that she was humoring Oakley, biding her time with him until she could approach him from a position of power. But the more time passed, the more she questioned whether that day would ever come. The night Oakley had asked her to marry him, there hadn’t been any question in her mind that she was going to say yes. Such had been the way of their disgusting farce of a relationship. She presented a hard-edged front to the world, but when it came to the man who’d been manipulating her for half her life, it was as though she had no power at all, as though she might just as well be nothing more than a mouse.
Avoiding Chris’s eyes, because she couldn’t possibly hide the truth from him if they were looking at each other head-on, Victoria simply said, “I love him.”
Chris’s arms stiffened and Victoria froze in turn, barely breathing as he took her by the shoulders, saying, “Victoria, that man just embarrassed you in front of two hundred people. He berated you, he manhandled you and he exploits you every night of your life. How could you possibly love a man like that?”
Victoria gnawed her lip, completely at a loss for words. She had no defense for the man in question and by aligning herself with him she was sacrificing more of her identity every day. Not that the life she’d led had made her crazy about relationships in general, but she wasn’t even opening herself to the possibility of another man’s companionship, to his soothing words and soft touch. Was it so wrong to want these things, so impossible to have them? Bringing Chris into the middle of her relationship with Oakley was liable to prove dangerous for both of them. But Chris was strong. He had to be, to have survived the loss he had.
Cautioning herself not to allow her thoughts to get away from her, knowing that Oakley would probably kill a man he perceived to be a serious enough threat to him, Victoria lifted her chin. “I know what it looks like, but I couldn’t count the things Oakley has done for me over the years. He’s protected me, and I sleep soundly at night knowing that no one is going to hurt me. He makes me feel safe.”
She realized right away that she shouldn’t have put things in those terms because the twinkle in Chris’s eyes told her exactly what his reply was going to be. She ought to run. He was giving her a chance to do just that, but her legs refused to stand. Instead, they eased sideways, leading the way like the smokestack on a train as her body leaned helplessly into that of the man sitting beside her.
“Tell me, Victoria—” Chris looked into her eyes, “does Oakley Sutherland make you feel like this?”  

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  1. Welcome, Jessica. So nice to host you today!

  2. Thanks for a great interview, Jennifer. Jessica, I love your take on reforming villains. Second chances is my favorite trope. Have fun with the ballroom dancing. Some of my favorite dating memories are from the times when I accompanied my husband (who used to teach at Fred Astaire and competed professionally) to Roseland. Sultry Performance sounds fabulous. Can't wait to read it.

  3. Thanks for having me, Jen! I'm glad you enjoyed the interview, Anna! Wow, it sounds like your husband and I are from the same world. I'm not at the instructor level yet, but do hope to graduate Bronze I in 2019. Second chance romances are the best! Happy Holidays!

  4. What a lovely interview! So enjoyed getting to know you, Jessica. And I'm another plotter, too. I must get those ideas into the journal before my fingers type the first word of the story. Wishing you all the best with A Sultry Performance!

    1. It definitely helps with the writers block - I've hardly ever been strapped for ideas since learning plotting is my writing style. Glad you enjoyed the interview, Mary! Happy writing!