Monday, December 12, 2016

Monday Musings with Jessica Lauryn

Upon waking up Tuesday morning, I noticed an email in my inbox.  Surprised, and ecstatic, to see that it was an email from Siren BookStrand with attachments of the cover of my January release, An Amorous Dance, I, of course, dropped what I was working on to check them out.  What a treat!  I fell instantly in love with the cover, which was everything I was hoping it would be and more.  A spotlight appears on the characters, who are performing on stage, a spotlight which shows off an array of vibrant colors that play off of the heroine, Hannah’s, red hair.  Hannah is almost exactly as I envisioned her, though perhaps even more like herself than in the image I provided my publisher, and the hero, Evan, is…not exactly as I envisioned him.  Evan’s hair and eye color are close enough to those of the hero in my mind, as are his height and his build.  But this new version of Evan seems to take on a persona all his own, one which—as I admired my new cover ad nauseum—I found myself falling in love with as though I was seeing him for the first time.  It was as though Evan had been given a new face, one equally handsome to the one I had imagined for him, one from which a whole new series of fantasies spurred.

I once asked a friend of mine how she envisions the hero when she reads a romance novel.  I asked her, “Do you picture someone you know, or an actor (as I often do), or do you try to envision him based upon the description the author provides?”  She answered me, “I don’t know.  I guess I picture the guy I see on the cover.”  I’ll admit I’ve done this myself, often times unintentionally, because it’s easy to imagine that the images we see on the cover are the “real” hero and heroine.  As readers, we’re encouraged to see them as such.  There is nothing wrong with doing this, and in fact, it’s the only visual image that we’re actually given for a book, with the possible exception of a back cover image, or insert.  But as a woman who finds herself on both the author side, and reader side of the spectrum, and one who has imagined the hero one way and then seen him in an entirely different light upon receiving her cover, alternatively, as a reader who has seen the hero depicted one way on a book cover and envisioned him a whole different way in my mind, I see covers as providing a different way of looking at a hero, different, rather than, perhaps, the “only” way.

As a reader, I often find myself envisioning actors I know, “playing” the various parts in a story.  I do this when I write as well.  My reason for following this pattern of behavior is that I know the sound of the actors voices as well as what they look like, and having a start-off point, complete with the sounds of voices allows me to get into a story faster.  As a romance novelist as well as a romance reader, I am looking to fall in love.  I want to be swept off my feet by the hero and in order for this to happen I must envision a man I can swoon over.  A hero who fits the bill is 100% unique to each individual reader.  That said, I suspect I’m not the only reader who takes liberties when I read a story, envisions a hero tailored to my particular desires versus always taking the hero on the cover verbatim, as though the requirement to do so is a hard and fast rule.

But sometimes in life we’re given a surprise.  And in the world of fiction, ‘surprise’ is just another day in the park!  Try as I might, there are those times where the image on the front cover takes precedence in my mind.  The author has described her hero so vividly, and the image on the cover has been depicted so beautifully, that the image provided comes to life before me and a whole new line of fantasies takes shape.  After spending months creating the character of Evan Masters, imagining that he’d look and sound something like actor Callum Blue, a new fantasy was then born when I received my cover, and saw the image of a swoon-worthy hero who quickly took precedence in my imagination.  I’ve learned to take inspiration from wherever it comes, but also to appreciate the pleasant surprises in life, of which there are many.  I look much forward to rereading An Amorous Dance with my new Evan Masters at the forefront of my mind!           

An Amorous Dance Releases January 2017!  

Monday, November 7, 2016

Monday Musings with Jessica Lauryn and a Review of Price of Vengeance by Kurt D. Springs

As I was reading Price of Vengeance by Kurt D. Springs (a fabulous novel, which I’ll be reviewing in just a moment!) and watching the Star Wars Marathon on TBS last weekend, I decided it might be fun to give a nod to the villainous heroes who, like Anakin Skywalker, do not reform, but in fact go on the become the villain in a subsequent story.  Of course, I write and read primarily in the romance genre, as do the vast majority of my writer and reader friends, and I’ve been told, by some, that they found parts of Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith to be rather corny, particularly with regards to the romance.  But whether you loved the movie or otherwise, Anakin serves as a perfect example of a hero who is plagued by demons, demons that shape the person that he later becomes.  Though Anakin does of course become the villain he in the end, no one can dispute that he is a complicated character who starts off as good and innocent, and, though the battle he fights is extremely misguided he is fighting for the people he loves.  Anakin’s inner demons provide for plenty of conflict in the next three movies, and of course, a very interesting character you can’t help but watch, all the while hoping that he will see the light and get back to being the hero he was meant to be.

Some of my local writer friends may remember that I taught a workshop a couple of years back, titled, Reforming the Former Villain: Does he have what it takes to be a Hero?  I greatly enjoyed creating this workshop, which focuses on villains in past stories, who reform to become the hero in a later book in a series.  I love reading and writing about these complex alpha heroes who may, incidentally, reform during the course of one story, or several.  In romance, we always see a happy ending and so, as a writer, I strive to create as many happy endings as I can for as many couples as possible.  The more demons the hero has to overcome first, the better, I say, because it is highly satisfying to see a hero, and heroine, come out on top, when they’ve had tremendous obstacles to overcome.  Oftentimes, conflicts of the mind can be an even greater challenge to overcome than physical and circumstantial challenges can.  Though unlike in the idealistic world of romance, in science fiction, a hero may not always get his happily ever after.  It’s a matter of preference to readers what they like to read best but I do find villainous heroes to be very fascinating characters across the board.

My review of Price of Vengeance by Kurt D. Springs - 5 Stars! 


An interesting, well written story!  Though I don’t generally read science fiction, I was instantly pulled in by the author’s voice and vivid descriptions, which are consistent throughout the book.  Orphaned after witnessing the death of his parents, hero Liam is adopted by the High Councilor Marcus and his wife, who raise him along with their biological son, Randolph. Year later, Liam and Randolph become members of the colony's military. The chitin, who killed Liam's parents, are attacking once again, and Liam realizes that the insects are being driven by an alien intelligence.  To defeat them, he must learn how to use his powers.  

Price of Vengeance is full of adventure and suspense. It’s set in a futuristic time in which the human race has been genetically modified and to have super powers.  The book is true to its title.  Liam has been greatly affected by his parents’ death and his inner battle for revenge, and his overcoming that battle, shapes him to become the hero he does.

Springs strikes an excellent balance between world creation and character development. He paints a vivid picture, while simultaneously developing and executing a strong plot.  This book was hard to put down!

Kurt D. Springs is an author to keep an eye on!  I can’t wait to read Promise of Mercy!

Happy reading and beautiful fantasies!

~Jessica Lauryn

I had a fabulous time with my fellow New Jersey Romance Writers this Saturday at the Jersey Girl Brewery!  Thank you to everyone who came out and made it a great day!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Monday Musings with Jessica Lauryn

Since settling into my “adult” room in my “big girl house” I’ve acquired a beautiful collection of porcelain-faced dolls.  They make me feel like I’m in the middle of a Victorian Tea Party all the time, which brings me a lot of joy as I’m surrounded by so much charm and beauty.  My little world wasn’t always organized like an antique store window but one thing that has always been consistent is that dolls have always been a part of my life.  They not only bring out a maternal instinct to the little girls that love them but, to this little girl, they brought on an entire lifetime driven by the desire to write.  Playing as a child, I didn’t even realize I was writing.  But I was, and in fact, “play” was the beginning of my becoming aware of my greatest passion.

There are many different forms of writing and certainly numerous brands of artistic expression.  For me, the greatest was always playing with dolls.  Sometimes I’d play with a friend but typically I enjoyed playing alone because I was free to make up a complicated story, without anyone thinking it was "strange."  I named each of my dolls, and created a world for them to live in, a setting I referred to as “Dolltown.”  There were the heroines, those characters I featured most prominently in my stories, and many side-characters, as I had a large number of dolls and wanted to include them all.  I would “play” for hours and I liked to speak aloud, reciting each character’s dialogue and creating new stories every time, all of which took place within the same small universe.  I loved it – it was my favorite thing to do!

When I was 9 years old, my parents bought me a beautiful wooden doll house.  I already had two dollhouses – one store-bought and one homemade, made from a cardboard box, which my mother and I crafted together, using ideas from a book about how to make your own dollhouse.  The wooden house needed to be assembled and my parents not only assembled the house but painted it, and lined the walls with wallpaper samples, making it feel real.  The furniture that went inside was just as lovely but what came out of it was even more exciting—the beginning of a small world, as my dolls had three places to live and travel between.  Stories became even more frequent as my imagination was driven to new heights.  I called it “playing.”  But, I had found my greatest passion.

Eventually, I stopped playing with dolls.  I got older, became involved with more activities, a more complicated degree of schoolwork and I began to feel silly, doing something that I saw as being intended for children and children alone.  But my love of telling stories never died and when I finally wrote my first manuscript shortly after college graduation I realized what I had not until then been able to define, that I am a writer, through and through and that the activity I’d always labelled as "playing" was actually "storytelling."  I’d been telling stories my whole life.  And with the discipline of an adult I learned to write them down, instead of telling them aloud and forgetting what I’d created.  A new passion was born, one which required a new level of practice and persistence that I was eager to begin.  My dolls had given me my start.  And so, to them, I will be forever grateful!      


Join me, and an amazing group of romance authors, this Saturday at the Jersey Girl Brewery!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Monday Musings with Jessica Lauryn

Finding the motivation to tackle a project or a challenge can be a challenge in and of itself, and one I have, at times, found myself facing.  For writers in particular, finding the motivation to spend hours at the computer typing can be a daunting task when life and all of its discouragements get in the way.  One of the reasons I know I am a writer at heart is because even at the times that life gets me down my love for writing never dies.  In fact it is at some of the darkest times when I purposely turn to writing because I find myself in an exhilarating and imaginative world which stimulates my mind and jump-starts my inner passion. 

But even as a writer who loves writing more than almost anything else, it can be difficult to find my motivation in a world where our industry is changing every day, a world that often requires us to work two jobs just to pay our bills and a world in which we’re often pulled in so many different directions it can be hard to see which end is up.  I find writing to be a GREAT escape from this stressful world of ours.  But to those of us who find our peace and joy in reading and writing we must face other real life challenges too and they can make it difficult to find the time enjoy our greatest passions.  Finding the time to read and write are challenges I face on a daily basis, among others—trying to thrive as a millennial in a challenging economy, fighting to make living my passion an important part of every day, trying to help others in our troubled world and coping with envy and discouragement when things don’t happen as quickly as I might want them to.

As a Gemini (one who’s birthday falls under the astrological sign of twins) I often feel as though my personality is split.  Some days I am filled with the encouragement and energy to take on anything and everything and other days, the opposite is the case.  I find that these are the days when I’m filled with negative thoughts and sometimes all it can take is one negative thought to temporarily destroy a my confidence.  Thankfully I experience many more good days than bad ones but in a world where tragic news is just a click away it can be difficult to focus on the positive, even for those of us with large imaginations who enjoy spending time in the world of fantasy.  One way that I’m working to meet this challenge is by consciously turning a blind eye to these negative thoughts and I do that by pressing onward even towards something that seems impossible.

When I was a little girl my mother and I used to water the bushes together in the backyard.  My mother had a big watering can and I had a small one.  There was a small bush positioned near the others, very small and it had no leaves whatsoever.  I was about three at the time and I would water the little bush as we watered the others.  I remember my mother telling me, “Don’t water that one.  It’s dead.”  But I insisted that that was exactly why we needed to water it, so that it would come back to life.  I’m not exactly sure what had caused the bush to stop blooming but my persistence paid off, and after a time the little bush started producing leaves again, looking every bit as healthy as the other bushes around it.  In my child’s innocence I didn’t know enough to be discouraged by the impossible and so I kept trying.  My persistence paid off!

There is no secret formula when it comes to motivating yourself.  I find I get charged up about getting to work when I have a list in hand that includes my writing and other to-do tasks but motivation must come from within.  If you’re a writer who loves to write then you’ve already won half the battle.  The rest comes with turning off the negative thoughts, everything from worrying about how a story will turn out, feeling as though you don’t have the time to write it or worrying that no one will buy it when you do.  You are your own worst enemy.  Get out of your own way and get your butt in the chair!  I can’t wait to read your next story!    

A Passionate Play [The Rabourn Theater Series # 1] Releases October 2016!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Monday Musings with Jessica Lauryn

Musical theater contains an element of mystique which is inspiring, alluring and just plain magical!  Like novels, plays tell fascinating stories, only with acting, singing, dancing and costumes the game becomes quite different.  Under the guidance of their directors, actors work to tell stories on stage through voice inflection, physical expression and music that warms the heart—elements shown in novels through words instead of through sight and sound.  I draw a lot of inspiration through BOTH of these mediums and though I currently have no personal aspirations to perform onstage (I never say never!) I find the world of musical theater to be most thrilling, so much so that I’ve been inspired to write an entire series about the world of musical theater.  A Passionate Play [The Rabourn Theater Series # 1] releases October 2016!!!

Many of us enjoy an exciting evening at the theater but just what is it about plays that draws us?  I conducted a bit a research in this area and found that many people enjoy musical theater for the exact reasons you might think they do—it engages and heightens emotion, brings fantasy to life and reconnects audience members to that which is deep in their hearts.

When the mood calls for a romantic show, many think of Phantom of the Opera and I am by no means an exception to that rule.  A woman with an undeniable fascination for bad-boys, I’d been wanting to see the play ever since discovering a Phantom of the Opera music box among my college boyfriend’s belongings.  About a year later, I got to see it for the first time and though I didn’t know much about the story walking in I was forever swept away by the passionate love story of Christine Daae and her mysterious angel of music.  Though I went on to become a contemporary romance novelist, this story (set in the 1800s) has never been far from my thoughts or from my fantasies!  

When it comes to theater, perhaps even more exciting than the stories themselves are the musical numbers that tell them.  Songs are catchy, they can stay with you hours after you’ve heard them and the songs in plays are often so beautiful and extraordinary you don’t even mind.  After seeing Phantom, I found myself singing every one of Christine Daae’s numbers until I’d learned the words and twelve years later I still catch myself doing this from time to time.  I like to have music when I write and soundtracks to musicals are often number one on my list—particularly the instrumental versions in which the words are eliminated and your imagination is left free to wander.  Fellow writers, I highly recommend this technique for maximum concentration not to mention inspiration and fellow readers, I strongly recommend that you try it as well.  Not only do these songs drown out the noise around you but they have the added benefit of heightening the excitement, particularly when you choose music that mirrors the level of suspense in the story that you’re reading.

It’s always exciting to spend a night on the town, wining and dining and catching up with friends.  But there is nothing quite like a night at the theater!  We remember the shows we see, when and how many times we saw them and what was going on in our lives at the time because the music, the actors and their wonderful stories never let us forget.  I firmly believe that there is nothing more stimulating to the imagination than the experience of reading a good novel.  But I think that musical theater is a very close second! ;)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Monday Musings with Jessica Lauryn

Writing about that which takes places between the sheets is a complicated endeavor for even the most practiced romance novelist.  Red-hot love scenes that steam up the pages of a story are what many readers crave, yet when I uncover negativity in a review it’s sometimes because the reader found that a story contains “graphic sex” which they deem “unsuitable for young readers.”  With the exception of sweet romance (romance which contains no sexual content whatsoever) I imagine that many of us romance novelists are gearing our stories for the 18+ audience and that this disclaimer is stated clearly or understood wherever our books are sold.  That said, “making love” is a topic which seems to spur a very heightened emotion, sometimes loudly stated, though more often in my experience it spurs a most compelling drive, incomparable to almost anything else, which creates an urgency to continue reading without pause as a story comes nearer and nearer to that oh-so-thrilling moment when the hero and heroine give into their all-consuming desires.  I, personally, find such an enormous amount of excitement and passion in this moment that I'm often driven right through the first half of a novel and by then, I’m so hooked on the characters that I simply must see how they work through their differences, come together and confess their love.  But that is me.  Though I’m sure many, many of you share my passion where love scenes are concerned, there are others who occasionally take offense to the very idea of them.  As human beings who are sexual by nature and discuss sex openly and often loudly in our society, what exactly spurs this reaction?

One theory that I have developed in this regard is that it may be a lack of knowledge concerning the classification of sub-genres which causes readers to be offended by the idea of sexual content, perhaps without so much as actually reading the story they’re referring to when the criticism is stated.  Heat levels vary in romance novels, and labels such as “erotic romance” and “erotica,” in which the heat levels are much higher, are labelled as separate genres accordingly.  As a mainstream romance writer and reader, I tend to gravitate towards sweeter romances than these both in my profession and in my leisure, however I have enjoyed the occasional erotic romance which I find to be a most interesting shake-up to what I typically read and write.  There are sub-genres to suit all tastes and my only suggestion to fellow authors in this regard would be that they continue, always, to be true to their characters.  When the characters step outside of themselves, in a love scene, in order to be more, or less, erotic than what instinct would have them do, (perhaps in the effort to make the overall heat level of the story something it’s not) it shows.  It is my personal believe one should be true to her characters and seek a publishing house who will be true to them in turn.  That said, as readers and writers, we should all become well-versed in the many categories of sub-genres, in order to find reading material that brings us the most joy, publishing houses that will celebrate our works in the very bright lights they deserve.

When I first toyed with the idea of writing about sex I was in college, taking a play-writing class.  Though I had not done any greater deal of reading in the romance genre (none, in fact) I was determined to write about romance because romance was what I loved more than anything.  In this class we were to write short plays and bring them to class, then assign roles to our classmates and have them read the various parts aloud.  Ironically I was chosen many times over to portray roles very much unlike myself, promiscuous women who, shall we say, worked in rather unethical professions.  I wasn’t exactly keen on doing this but I was in front of my classmates and professor and obviously was not inclined to say no.  And so I recited the dialogue for the parts my dirty-minded male classmates had written and…a whole new world was opened up for me.  Rather like an actress who gets a thrill out of playing a villainess I realized that I could say anything, and later realized I could WRITE anything I wanted, all in the name of that which is fantasy.  I’d had my breakthrough moment!

The breakthrough moment won’t happen for everyone.  Or perhaps it will, and it’s only a matter of time for all of us when the lightbulb will be turned on in our heads and we’ll start seeing romantic fantasy for the extraordinary phenomenon that it is – a means of escape, imagination and inspiration which holds the power to reignite passion in a passionless marriage, encourage singles to keep searching for their sole mate and to touch the hearts of devoted readers, reminding them again and again of the miracle that is falling in love.  Sex is a beautiful part of that love.  And to those who can stop blushing long enough to read their way into the good stuff, I wish you a most exciting reading experience!              

~ Jessica 


I am thrilled to announce the release date of book 1 in my new series!!!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Monday Musings with Jessica Lauryn

Everyone has a story.  Everyone’s story is different.  This is one of the first things I realized as I became aware of who I was and began to find my place in the world.  It’s also a fascinating phenomenon, THE most fascinating phenomenon, if you ask me, that every breath we take, every motion we make and every word that comes out of our mouths is part of a story—OUR story.  It’s up to us how we view the world and I choose to perceive my life as a story.  It’s so much more fun that way, seeing the ordinary for the extraordinary that it is—I enjoy every minute of it!

Books—our greatest source for stories spelled out on paper—have been a part of my world for as long as I can remember.  When I was a baby, my parents would read books to me every night.  I quickly caught onto the concept.  At age two, I memorized the book Fuzzy Rabbit by Rosemary Billam.  Of course, it wasn’t the same as reading the words but it was the STORY that stuck in my mind. It fascinated me, the simplistic view of the world the book portrayed and though I didn’t yet understand the terms what drew me was that the story had character development, a conflict, resolution and conclusion.  My fascination with this concept grew further when I was six, and watching Days of Our Lives with my Mom.  Soap Opera’s are not exactly the TV show of choice for the average six year old but I was fascinated once again, not only by the drama but with how the characters were all connected to one another within a small world.  Thus my love of series (connected characters, connecting stories) was born!

Two of my favorite series to read growing up were the beloved Ramona books by Beverly Cleary and Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley High.  Like many young readers, I was drawn to books that entertained me but also to stories that CONNECTED characters and their worlds.  When I was into a character, I wanted to read everything I could about that character and so, as an adolescent, I got my hands on every book about Ramona, Ramona’s sister Beezus and Beezus’s friend, Henry.  When I was a little older, I enjoyed reading about the drama at Sweet Valley High for twin sister’s Jessica and Elizabeth be it with school, their friends and with the boys they were dating.  I was very excited about these young adult romance which introduced me to the concept of fantasy.  Looking back, I see that they served as a precursor to what would later become a major part of my life—the adult romance novel.

I didn’t plan on becoming a novelist.  I’m sure that there are some writers who know their whole lives that they want to be writers but for others it comes to us as more of a surprise.  In spite of my very early fascination with books that is in fact the way that it happened for me.  I graduated college in 2005 which was right around the time that the job market was beginning to change.  Unsure as to exactly what I wanted to do with my life I took an internship after graduation and while I was assisting fashion designer Norma Kamali with her beauty line I was giving a lot of consideration to exactly what it was I wanted to do with my life.  I’d sit out in my backyard for hours in the afternoon and just think—I looked forward to those times of the day when I could be in my own thoughts.  It dawned on me that if I could be doing anything at all it would be something in which my imagination would never have to stop, something which truly had no limits.  I’d taken several writing classes in college and I knew that I loved writing more than anything else.  What I did not know was how in the world I was going to get started with it.

A few of my college peers decided to form a critique group about the same time that I was doing my internship and when asked to join I jumped at the chance.  The class that we’d taken together was creative writing in drama (play writing) and that was what most everyone was there to do.  So I wrote a play (a romance--something very different than what I had been writing in school) but I realized that what I really wanted to be doing was writing something longer, much longer in fact.  Unlike many romance novelists-to-be I was twenty two years old and I’d never actually read a romance novel.  But as I loved romance more than anything else I felt compelled to write one anyway and flying completely by the seat of my pants I wrote a “novel,” a story in which I elaborated on the tale of an old personal crush and I worked our fantasy story toward a happy ending.  Though the book never saw the light of day I had found my path and had decided exactly what I should have always known I wanted to do with my life—write romance novels!

Not being at-all versed in my genre of choice, I had a lot of work to do and I quickly made up for lost time, getting my hands on every romance novel I could find and reading just as many non-fiction books about the craft of writing.  One of those books had a note in which the author stated that while many people envision the exciting and glamorous life of the writer, writers actually spend the majority of their lives alone, in a basement, writing.  I believe the statement was meant to scare people off.  I remember thinking, A whole lifetime of nothing but writing?  Wow, that sounds like so much fun!

Before the critique group dissolved, I wrote a second story which was inspired by the setting of the job I accepted upon completing my internship.  I borrowed ideas from my own life setting many times but it was not until I wrote Dangerous Ally, a story set in a grandiose mansion in Westchester New York which had nothing to do with any of my life experiences when I finally got “the call.”  The call for me was actually an email and I was in work when it came.  I said aloud, “Oh my God, I think someone wants to publish my book!”  The guy sitting next to me said, “No way, that must be spam.”  But alas it was not and in that moment the greatest dream I’d ever had (besides finding my own true love, of course!) had at last come true!

As is the case with all writers, I received many rejections on my path to publication.  Those rejections are a part of the writing journey and when seen in the right light they can strengthen the writing, as well as the author they’re written to.  I’m so grateful for every failure and every success I’ve had so far on my short writing journey and that brings me to the present day, in which I begin PASSION BETWEEN THE PAGES, a blog I hope to grow right along with me, a blog for both readers AND writers.  We all share the same passion, after all!  And books and romance are the greatest passions I know!  

In honor of PASSION BETWEEN THE PAGES' debut launch I'm giving away a kindle copy of my latest release, Dangerous Magic [The Pinnacles of Power]. Click below for a chance to win!  Good luck and happy reading!!!                                                                                      

Dangerous Magic Kindle Edition Giveaway

The most erotic dream of Corinne's life may not have been a dream at all...

★★★★★ "Dangerous Magic has it all--passion, suspense, mystery and mysterious happenings--a unique story line with plenty of action!" ~BookTalk with Eileen