Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Please visit us at our new home! Wishing you all Happy Reading and Beautiful Fantasies! ~Jessica Lauryn

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Art of Branding: How Planning My Wedding Inspired a Rejuvenation of my Author Brand

Making quick decisions has never been my forte. As a hybrid author, I'm used to having some time to look over my work, months presumably, and I think about what my characters will say for hours on end before their words reach the public eye. Published by a digital press and also having published a few indie releases, I haven't shared in the deadline woes of many traditionally published authors and this hasn't helped my ability to make decisions on the fly. Though I'm capable of thinking quickly when I have a gun to my head, I'm also a perfectionist. I see the path I walk as an author as a journey, not a light switch and while this may be true, I still prefer to mull over decisions. Planning my wedding, I was introduced to a different way of being.

No one ever tells you that planning a wedding is a full-time job. As brides-to-be, we sort of know this is coming, but we're excited by the prospect of what's to come and not always focused on how much work it's going to take to get there. I was a different. I knew it was going to take a lot of work, but even I couldn't begin to imagine how much work, and I was also working to purchase a house at the time, working full time, and oh yeah, writing. Fortunately, I had the basic ideas of what I wanted for my wedding in my mind. This got me off to an excellent start.

When I was in high school, fantasizing about attending the prom, I focused on a sage green dress I'd seen in a  magazine. Though I never found any such dress and instead wound up wearing lavender, I never did forget that dress. I still have the magazine clipping to this day (yes, we read actual magazines when I was in high school!) and I zoned right in on this color for my bridesmaids dresses. A loyal viewer of Say Yes to the Dress, I was always bothered when I heard a bride note under dislikes that she hated lace. As a romantic with a strong appreciation for the Victorian Era, I LOVE lace and always knew it would play a prominent role in my wedding dress. Gowns in tow, decisions like flowers came easy - green of course would play a prominent role, and white, but also red. I was told that the combination might play out to be too Christmas-like, but I strongly believed a pop of red would bring my wedding fantasy look to life and I was thrilled with the way things turned out. The more decisions I made the easier the others came.

Having spent over a year of my life planning for what ultimately amounted to one day, I was filled with renewed enthusiasm to rejuvenate my author brand, which though holding its own had been neglected while I was living my "real" life. Not your typical romantic suspense author, I'm not a fan of incorporating a lot of violence and depravity into my stories and instead use the dangerous situations I create to fuel the romance between my characters. As their creator, I know a lot of what appeals to me appeals to them as well. Planning my wedding has inspired me to breathe a bit of more of myself into my author brand. You can expect a few tweaks in the months ahead, including my new author logo, designed by Kim Killion of Killion Group, new covers for my paperback titles and a new look for my website. I'm always grateful for a bit of inspiration from wherever it comes. I'm excited to see where it takes me.    

Easton Book Festival

I'm excited to be a part of this year's Easton Book Festival! I'll be doing a reading from A Sultry Performance, giving a workshop on Editing and Pacing and participating in a panel discussion on Self Publishing. All of my events take place Saturday, October 26th. I hope you can join me!

Author Expo Book Table - First United Church of Christ Social Hall 27th, North 3rd Street, Easton PA - 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM, Saturday, October 26th

A Sultry Performance Reading - Quadrant Book Mart & Coffee House - 20 North 3rd Street, Easton, PA - 11:30 AM, Saturday October 26th

Self Publishing Panel Discussion - State Theatre Gallery, 453 Northampton Street, Easton PA - 12:30 PM, Saturday, October 26th

Editing and Pacing with Jessica Lauryn

Northampton Community College, Classroom One, 25 South 3rd St. Easton PA - 4:00 PM 

Saturday, October 26th

Friday, October 4, 2019

Memories for Perspective

Winter started early for me this year. Though October has only just begun, I kicked off autumn by getting sick, and though it is ninety degrees outside where I live, today, I spent the last week or so feeling more like it was January than pumpkin picking season. Having made the decision to re-release The Pinnacles Power Series, and the first 2 titles in the Rabourn Theater Series, in paperback, I'd previously decided to give these titles a read through and when I wasn't feeling well, my desire to press on with this endeavor didn't die. In fact, on what was perceivably the worst of days for me I managed to read about a hundred pages and only stopped because I was so tired I absolutely had to sleep. Reading my backlist was a joy! It was fun, and exciting, and terribly inspiring and it made me eager to write my next story, An Intoxicating interlude, book 4 in the Rabourn Theater Series.

It wasn't all that long ago when I thought perhaps my writer's journey had come to an end. Overwhelmed with the various responsibilities in my life, and so full of love as I embarked upon the best chapter yet I thought perhaps my days of living in a fantasy world had come to an end and I was better off taking my nose out of the book and finally living in the "real world." But a bit of time spent in my imagination had me quickly rethinking my decision and my more recent trip down memory lane has reminded me of why I started writing in the first place. 

All writers could tell you a different story when it comes to why they love what they do, but for me, the love has always been a love of romance. I love the tension between hero and heroine early on in a story and I'm on the edge of my seat as I watch it build to a climax. I'm excited during the black moment, when it seems as though all is lost because I know that an incredible happily ever after is around the corner. And then there are the elements I love the most, the ones I've built my author brand on. I love seeing a former villain, a man no one thought capable of reform, least of all himself, fall head over heels in love with the woman who threatens to bring him to his knees. I crave the danger  that drives the most unlikely of couples into each other's arms, and the occasional paranormal twist that leaves you wondering, what the heck was that?

If only there were more hours in the day. It breaks my heart when I hear another author say that all authors should be well versed in the works of other authors, and be reading constantly to do it. You're preaching to the choir! I LOVE to read the works of other romance authors and I find doing so to be incredibly inspiring. But doing so isn't always possible. I need to work, yes, really, and to take care of my family and yes, I must carve out time for my own writing which has to come first if I am to succeed as an author. I read as much as I possibly can. Life, however, is life. 

Being sick can really put things into perspective, though. Because there is no time in which I want to read and write more than when I can't do it at all. Funny the way that works!

Inspired with a fresh perspective, I look forward to what I'll write and read in the coming days, and to share my trip down memory lane with you as I rerelease my earliest titles, the books that made me the author I am today.


Julia Dyson confronts her father's presumed abductor, resulting in an unforgettable kiss and a dangerous proposition indeed...

Dangerous Proposition is Re-Releasing in Paperback! 
Release date to follow!

Release Party!

Join me and a variety of BestSelling Authors at the Release Party for P.T. Macias's Elite Power Supreme Legacy Series October 31st - November 4th.

I'll be hosting Saturday, November 2nd at 9:30 AM EST and giving away a copy of A Sultry Performance!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Turning off the Inner Critic

My husband Bill greatly enjoys watching a show called Red Letter Media, a show in which a group of men sit around a table and critique the worst movies they can find. Though Bill and I have a lot in common, and I occasionally laugh at what might be construed as "guy humor," something about this show gets to me and I considered what that was. Then, it hit me. Though the movies the group watches have some pretty obvious flaws, I'm uncomfortable seeing another writer's work be laughed at and criticized. 

Though I suspect I take a lot more pride in my work than perhaps the producers of some of these movies do, it is easy to put myself in their shoes, and I cringe at the idea of having my own writing taken apart in a similar way. As writers, we learn to turn off the inner critic inside of us, as this is the only way in which we can put our hearts on the line and tell our stories. Fear of failure is paralyzing, so as authors, we learn to put such fears aside. I suggested to Bill that perhaps this is why I can't get into the show the way he does. He gave me some food for thought I wasn't expecting.

In Bill's own words:

If I say the odds on a coin toss are 50/50, does that mean when you flip that coin, half of it will be heads and half will be tails?


And why that is should be obvious enough. Coin flips in the abstract are different from any actual flip. What people don't appreciate is that all matters of opinion are the same in this way. 

A critic does nothing but apply his experience of an art 'probablistically.' He is generally talking about something more subtle than heads-or-tails, but if he values tight plotting, it is because tight plotting has been associated with a "successful" story more often than not. Complex characters, expressive yet succinct use of language? Same thing.

But we also know a story may be "successful" without all these things (among others), or without them in equal measure, and indeed it is hard to think that it is even possible to be coherent as a story and have them in every respect. Do you really want elaborate, sensitive craftsmanship in all our characters? Wouldn't a relentlessly witty book get annoying?


And we all know stories that tick the critical boxes, without obviously being mechanical or going too far, but they don't do anything for us. Even the most technically minded critics can field stories from their experience that adds up to less than the sum of their parts.

When a critic reads a story and picks up on the plotting, the characters, or what-have-you, it is important to understand they are rationalizing their experiences, and not laying down the necessities of yours. They are curve-fitting a story, not legislating what or how you or the next author should write to tell a good story.

The better sort of critic will recognize this, and admit when an actual story - as opposed to one in the abstract - 'works' as art or entertainment regardless of any currently accepted standards or preferences.

Criticism itself is a kind of art. Recognize that, as an artist, you are their critic and your story evaluates them as much as they evaluate it. Do not let them intimidate you.

Reading this, I was instantly comforted. Though Bill is often a man of few words, his mind is hard at work, and though not an author himself, he has grasped the underlying concept of critiquing in a way I don't always consider. 

Reviewers, agents, and editors rely on a set of known guidelines  when critiquing and acquiring authors' works, and the fast-paced world that we live in today, that typically favors what they know will sell. As authors looking to sell our work, we too must strive to meet the desires of our audience. If we're seeking to earn a living, this is our best method of attack. But what if we want to do more?

It's taken me years to shut off the internal critic in my mind. Many writers will tell you they fight against it constantly, never feeling as though their book is good enough, wondering if they can make the current manuscript as good as the last. Beyond that, we're told we must figure out where our work fits into the industry as a whole, compare it to that of other authors. What if it doesn't? Isn't the idea of being creative to create something unique? Is doing so the right thing to do? With so many fears and doubts about a strange and subjective industry floating about in one's mind, how can the internal editor possibly be turned off? 

I return to Bill's thoughts, so simple and straightforward. My mind has a way of going all over the place, particularly when it involves my writing, whereas he seems to have a clear perspective on the matter.

Criticism itself is a kind of art. Recognize that, as an artist, your are their critic and your story evaluates them as much as they evaluate it. Do not let them intimidate you.

I plan on taking these words to heart!


Is Alec one of the bad guys, or the man of Lena's dreams?

The Pinnacles of Power Series is 
Re-Releasing in Paperback!

I'll be giving away copies of various titles to the first attendees at my workshop at the 
Easton Book Festival October 26th!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Writer's Guilt

I've been a writing for fifteen years. I've been a writer at heart all my life, but for argument's sake I've considered myself a writer for the last fifteen years. I still feel guilty when I sit down to write. I think about all the things I should be doing--the dishes piled in the sink, the people I haven't talked to in a while, the money I could be earning if I got a real job. Unlike many writers, I'm fortunate in that I rarely experience writers' block. But I struggle in another way. I don't always feel I deserve to do this, as though writing at will is a privilege to be experienced only by writers who've "made it." 

My definition of "made it" has changed over the years. When I first began writing, I talked to a lot of people who insisted I had a better chance of being struck by lightening than getting published. I was determined to prove them wrong. Though the dawning of self-publishing changed the way many authors are published for the first time, I was determined to sell a manuscript to a publisher, and I did. Though a traditional publisher had also experienced interest in my work, I wound up selling my first manuscript to a digital publisher I felt had a better appreciation of the vision I had for my story. 

Almost immediately, I wondered whether I'd made the right decision. The editor I'd spoken with at the traditional publisher told me in no uncertain terms that when suggestions are made for revising a manuscript, it means the editor making them is seriously interested in acquiring the work. I'd understood that, but didn't see any way to make the suggested changes without sacrificing the rest of the titles in what I intended to become a series, and I still don't to this day. Then there was the opinion of my fellow writers, some of whom believed I should have done whatever I could to sign with the traditional publisher, believing this to be the only way to jump-start my career as an author. Though many traditionally published authors I know complain about what little assistance they are provided in their marketing efforts, I received what I believed to be even less, and I commiserated with my fellow, digitally-published authors. Though I self-published my eighth title, I was also labelled an "indie author" by reviewers and bloggers long before, as though there are only 2 types of authors, and digitally published and small press authors don't exist. 

Eight years after being published for the first time, my definition of having "made it" has indeed changed. Though I doubt I will ever be content where my writing career is concerned, (and perhaps that is the point of being a writer!), I long for the day when I will earn a full living from my writing. Life is full of distractions, but the number one concern on my mind, present even before I ever dreamed of being published, is knowing it's "okay" to write, because my time doing it is justified, namely because I'm paying the bills with my writing. I want to inspire the world with my stories. I want to encourage others to seek out their true love and to never settle for anything else. But in order for me to have a prayer of doing so, I need to survive myself.

I am both a writer and a salesperson. Both, at times, I feel are equated with being the janitor. "Anyone can be a writer." "Writing is easy." Perhaps it's opinions like this that keep readers from finding the time to read, and price our hard-created books to be considered less valuable than a cup of coffee.

The life of a writer is a tough and often discouraging one. I've learned, however, that it is in my blood, and I have no intention of ending my writing career no matter how bleak the bottom line may look, at times. Perhaps I write this to convince myself as much as I do you.

They say if you want a career in any particular field, before anyone can hire you, you must first hire yourself. I've discovered I'm one of those people who prefers working for herself and I daresay I am harder on myself than any boss ever could be. I'm hiring myself. And it's going to be a very exciting ride. 



Ryan Newberry hopes his desires for his new front desk associate won't lead both of them down a path of danger he won't be able to protect them from.

The Pinnacles of Power Series is Re-Releasing in Paperback!

I'll be giving away paperback copies of various titles to the first attendees at my workshop at the Easton Book Festival 
October 26th!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Falling For the Villain

I'll be hosting a workshop at the Easton, PA Book Festival this fall.  It's the first time I'll be speaking to an audience of readers and writers in quite a while and I've started thinking about what I'd like to say about my author brand. I've prided myself on reforming former villains. And though I've often told readers I do this because I believe everyone deserves a second chance, that isn't the whole truth. Yes, I do believe everyone who has the desire to do better deserves a second chance. But it isn't the bigger reason why I started doing what I do, where villains are concerned.

Recently, CBS's Young and the Restless recast the role of Adam Newman. Due to circumstances beyond the producers' control, this role has needed to be recast 3 times, and as anyone who watches daytime television could tell you, that's a lot. In my experience, in most situations like this, the character would have simply been written off the show and other characters would have been brought in to take center stage. But Y & R is crazy about this character, as is its audience. The black sheep of the Newman family, Adam is classified a ruthless villain by the residents of Genoa City. He's known to resorting to nefarious and often highly unethical tactics to get what he wants and has been labelled a psychopath by his brother, Nick, on numerous occasions. When the role was previously played by Justin Hartley, this love-to-hate-em villain was significantly softened, and even romanticized, to the point that his bad-boy days appeared to be a thing of the past. But since newcomer Mark Grossman has stepped in to fill his shoes, the character has returned to his villainous ways, taking such a dramatic turn with the script it almost defies logic. Why would the show fight so hard, risk the credibility of their story line, just to make this character a villain again? I imagine for the same reason I work so hard to make villains center stage.

Shortly before I began my career as a writer, I became engrossed in the TV show Smallville, a drama about the life of Superman before he accepts his destiny. I was immediately taken by Tom Welling, the attractive actor who played the role of Clark, and having come in about mid-way through the series I found myself watching every episode in order to catch up. But as I found myself getting caught up in the larger-than-life universe of "Kryptonite Freaks" and dangerous daily occurrences, I found myself falling not for the hero, but for the villain Lex Luthor. To this day I can't entirely explain my feelings, but I realized at that time something about this character, and about all villains, intrigued me. I'd think about them, and dream about them. And it wasn't long before these misunderstood monsters were inspiring new characters whose stories had to be told.

For a hero to really become a hero, he must possess redeeming qualities. As fellow author Mary Buckham recently pointed out in her workshop PLOT SMARTER, PLOT FASTER, the main characters of a story must grow--they need to change in some big way. Loving villains as much as I do, I set out to reform these blackened-souls, often casting the villains from previous stories as my hero and teaching them the error of their ways. Showing a villain come full circle is critical when reforming him and in making him forgivable in the eyes of the reader. Though, if I'm being honest, I didn't start doing this so much because I wanted to see the villain reform as I did because I really just wanted to see these dastards take center stage.

Falling for the villain may not be as strange a phenomenon as you believe. Fortunately, in romance novels, the bad-boy often wins.

Join me and over 50 fellow authors of various genres at the 
October 25 - 27th! 

I'll be hosting a workshop about editing and pacing Saturday, October 26th, and signing copies of my latest release, A Sultry Performance!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Real Life Love vs Life as a Romance Author - Which is the Greater Challenge?

I've had a busy year. Though 2019 isn't nearly over, it has been one of the busiest years of my life as I planned my wedding, got married, and purchased my first home. Writing time suffered at the mercy of my hectic schedule and at times I considered abandoning one dream at the expense of another. 

Things calmed down eventually and, as I spent some time in the quiet of my imagination I realized I am still a writer at heart. I have a long journey ahead of me as an author, one I am excited to embark upon. 

Of course, it is easy to get discouraged at times. Though the reasons behind it were happy ones, I've been off the horse for a while now and this was a difficult game to play even when I was at my best, putting over eight hours a day into my writing and marketing, often working weekends as well. I've listened to the concerns of my fellow authors and I know that while I am not alone in my frustrations, I need to keep positive thoughts at the forefront of my mind in order to stay the course. Persistence pays off in the long run, and focusing on a past success can be encouraging. It wasn't that long ago that love seemed a million miles away for me. But I found my true love, reminding me that in life, anything is possible.

When I was eleven years old, I experienced my first real crush. I liked a boy in my class who made flirting an art form, and had no intention of following through on what his smooth dialogue promised. Adolescence is a difficult time for everyone, but this particular situation made it especially difficult for me. Though I wasn't yet a teenager, I learned about the pain of not having my feelings reciprocated, and this pain helped shape me into the writer I am today. But, adulthood was still a long way off at that point and I had a long way to go if I was ever going to find my heart's other half.

As an author, I enjoy writing about heroes and heroines with plenty of conflict between them and much to overcome before they can achieve their happily ever after. Though that wasn't so much the case with my husband and I, I had to kiss a lot of frogs before I found him and there were times when I believed that love, perhaps, was for other people, and not something I would ever find for myself. Being the romantic that I am however, I never stayed discouraged long and I kept putting myself out there, taking risks and often bringing myself into uncomfortable situations believing that one day my persistence would finally pay off. When I started writing, I found I enjoyed creating heroes with many demons to conquer, and though I loved working out their inner conflicts on paper, men, for me, were a complex breed I'd yet to comprehend. After a lifetime of taking chances, I found my prince, but not without a lot of bumps and bruises along the way.

There was a time not long ago when I believed that finding love would be the hardest thing I'd ever have to do. Perhaps it was, but as life slowly settles back into a routine I am reminded that not every battle has yet been won, and there are many challenges still on the horizon. I face the battle of a constantly-changing publishing industry, as do my fellow writers, and I wonder whether I will ever reach my goals in this respect. The life of a writer is hardly an easy one, though during this new and very happy time in my life I am reminded that when we stand the test of time and don't give up, anything can be possible. If I can encourage even one of my fellow writers to believe this, perhaps my success is already underway.   

He was her lover in another lifetime, but does Evan know more about Hannah's father's murder than he's letting on?

When Hannah Rabourn, daughter of Rabourn Theater's late owner, is attacked, a surge of flashes prompts her to believe her father may have been murdered. Hannah's antagonistic stage director insists her subconscious is merely seeking closure. But as she and Evan become close once again, Hannah's suspicions about the past deepen, and she wonders if the man she's falling in love with for the second time knows more than he's letting on.