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