Friday, June 29, 2012

I'm not a salesperson, I'm a writer. How I made friends with book promotion.

When Kiss Me Slowly was released, I felt a combination of joy...and terror.  Even though I had a publisher, I knew that, as a first time novelist, a lot of the promotion was going to fall on me.  I had no idea how to build a platform--or even what that meant.  Faced with a limited budget, other works in progress, a family to raise solo and a lot of misguided beliefs about 'promotion', I wasn't sure where to begin.  I'm not a salesperson, I'm a writer. I didn't want to come off as some pushy, "read my book NOW" type.   How could I possibly get the word out there?
Photo courtesy of National Lampoon
Well, now my second is about to be released and I'm much more relaxed.  I've learned quite a bit in the seven months since Kiss Me Slowly's release. I've also had to let go of those ideas I had about 'selling'.  After all, I put a lot of time, effort, love and passion into my work, why not get paid for it like other professions?  Silly, writer.  Believe it or not, it took me awhile to let that idea go.

In no particular order, here are some things I've learned about book promotion:
  • Blog tours were my first introduction to book promotion.  My publisher, Siren-Bookstrand, has an author group where authors offer to host each other.  From there, I developed my own author blog and began hosting authors every Monday.  I've learned that, especially in this business, what goes around comes around.  Be nice to other authors, help them and they'll help you.  Blog tours give you a chance to do an interview, write an original guest post and/or feature an excerpt of your novel.  There are also book promotors, such as Coffee Beans and Love Scenes, who set up virtual book tours for a minimal fee.  
  • Develop an author fan page on Facebook.  By setting up a specific page for my author persona, I didn't feel like I was slamming my book down friends' and family's throats.  My author fan page gives me free reign to talk about my blog, other writers, post reviews, and basically do as I please.  No, I didn't do this right away and am kicking myself.  I only started a separate page a few months ago and wish I'd done it from day one.  This also makes it easier for fans to 'like' you without having to worry about giving too much personal info on your regular profile page.  Easy.   Put this on your must do list. 
  • Twitter is my favorite social media outlet.  Yeah, I'm surprised, too.  When I first became involved with Twitter, I thought it was the stupidest thing imaginable.  However, I've met so many connections there.  I've gotten ideas from authors with a lot more experience than myself.  I've received offers to appear on blogs and virtual book festivals.  But there is a trick to Twitter--you need to be social, not just some auto-bot who's tweeting links to your book all of the time.  Retweet, reply, give out useful information and, yes, sell your novel--but mix it up. Keep your conversations balanced.  After all, it's called social media for a reason--so be social.  The benefits have been through the roof for me.  
  • Reviews from professional book bloggers.  Now, here I had an advantage because my publisher sent my ARCs to reviewers on my behalf and sent me a list of others for me to handle.  I wasn't passive about it, I followed through.  As time passed, I discovered other book bloggers via Twitter and my connections through the blog tours.  Why are reviews from professional book bloggers better than reader reviews?  Well, I probably shouldn't use the word 'better', but they do lend more credibility to the review.  Savvy readers will look at glowing reader reviews and wonder if you simply have a team of loyal friends who came through for you; whereas, professional reviews always state that they are 'pros' and will gladly copy their review on Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Goodreads for you.  Don't be afraid to ask for a review!  Also--be choosy about who you're letting review your book.  Look through their past reviews of books similar to yours and see what their style is.  It's your name on the cover so it's okay to say no to a review, too.  
  • Giveaways are a great way to get your name out there.  Right now I'm participating in Freado's Summer Romance Festival where my novel is being given away as a prize.  It's not costing me anything and I'm getting great exposure in 56 countries.  The cover of my novel is being used in match games and is being seen all over the site in "you might like to buy" columns.  In the first four days alone, my bio there has received 1500 hits. And where does my bio link to?  Direct to my author website with buy links to my publisher, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Still a newbie, I think this is great!  Goodreads also offers giveaways for authors as do most blog tours.  It doesn't hurt framing your novel as a prize!
  • Creating a book trailer on YouTube.  When I first heard about this, I had no idea what it was.  Yeah, the name is self-explanatory, but in my frenzied newly published mind I didn't put the dots together.  Then, thanks to another author who took pity on me, I figured it out.  YouTube actually has an entire section of book trailers so take a look. I bought pictures from iStockphoto that depicted my novel's story, pieced them together in iMovie and put them to music.  It's fun.  As soon as I receive the cover for my next novel, I'm going to make another.  I use this all over the place--my publisher uses it on their website, I give it to blog hosts as part of my media kit, have it on my FB author page, on my author website and here on this blog.  There is nominal cost involved in creating this, but it goes a long way in helping your marketing efforts.  
  • Become involved with author organizations like World Literary Cafe, Authors Promoting Authors, Sexy Romance Readers/Writers, etcetera. Most of these organizations are all about helping authors unite, network and cross-promote.  
  • Create an author page on Goodreads.  This is a very popular site for readers.  Although I do have some apprehension about it, I can't deny the results. I've seen many people adding my novel to their 'shelves' and have had sales success there.  Other authors swear by it, as do reviewers I've met.  
Okay, you're wondering how much time all of this takes, right?  I spend about 90 minutes a day on marketing, mainly checking Twitter, my author website and FB fan page.  If you think that sounds like a lot of time, then I need to remind you that no one cares about your work more than you do.  You need to make an investment in marketing.  There are many talented authors out there in the world--where do you fit amongst them?  

If you have any ideas that I failed to mention, please share them in the comments below.  We're all in this together. Write on!  

Monday, June 25, 2012

Do Indie authors really make better lovers? Vonda Norwood thinks so!

Today on Open Mic Monday, I'm excited to host romance comedy writer, Vonda Norwood.  A multi-published author, she's about to release the first book in a twelve book erotica series entitled "Alison's Diary (The Knowing of Me).  Book One in that series is entitled, "The Door on the Left" (coming soon).

Her two sexy romance comedies are getting multiple five star reviews on Amazon and are highlighted below:

"Facebook Breaks Up"a romantic comedy about a woman who spent three years depressed and repressing
all thoughts of romantic and sexual desire until the innocent mentioning of a name from her past wakes her up and sends her on a hilariously determined path to communicate with the one man she believes herself to be sexually obsessed with.  

When I gave in and allowed John back into the house, I made sure that he and I never shared a bed again. To protect my children from what I knew would more than negatively effect them, I allowed myself to play house. The only thing different, was that I pretended that John wasn’t around. Wasn’t hard to do. He could care less to associate himself as a father with his children and I could care less to associate myself as a woman with a giant ass-hole! As the days and years of my pretend ‘house’ life went by, I associated less and less with anyone and everyone - except my kids. That day on the phone with my brother, when he mentioned Kenny’s name, Tom was actually just trying to get me to associate myself with my own brother. He called and told me that I needed to start living again and then he said, ‘remember when?' And boy did I!..

"Indie Authors Make Better Lovers": This is a sexual comedy. Norwood wrote  about what it's like to be an inexperienced tweeter learning how to promote her book on Twitter.  This is first-person and autobiographically written. She put her true self as the main character and told the story of her own sexual fantasy.  

It's all there for me...The exhilaration of my heart racing, chills running through my body which are causing my nipples to redden as they become tightly erect. Yea, I'm like chameleon. As my breathing slows, my pink lips swell and as they swell, their shade darkens too. Everything pink, is now becoming more and more bright red. My body brightening up like a visual effect to alert a male of my sexual readiness. All of this happening in a matter a seconds! Brought on by the intense pleasure of my own arousal, which is be fueled by my sudden need to go to him and accept this offer of himself to me. He is here with one purpose and one purpose only. I know it and he knows it. And his purpose of being right here, right now, is to unselfishly satisfy the intense craving that I have to experience pleasing him.

To stay up to date with Vonda about her writing and new releases, follow her on Twitter @VondaNorwood or subscribe to her YouTube channel @

Purchase "Facebook Breaks Up Marriages" at

Purchase "Indie Authors Make Better Lovers" at

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tantalizing Thursday: Reckless Endangerment

For Tantalizing Thursday, I like sharing a piece of a work in progress.  The following is a piece from Reckless Endangerment--about a marine coming home from Afghanistan wounded and uncertain how to "be" in this new reality and his wife, a reporter he met in a war zone who's now immersed in a human trafficking story that will test them in ways neither are sure they can handle.  

An excerpt from my work in progress, Reckless Endangerment--hopefully I'll finish it this month (I keep deleting the final chapters so...who knows! Ha)

“Explain me? Explain me?”  In the blink of an eye, she blocked the doorway to the bedroom.  With a yank, she held up the chain where his wedding band hung and tossed it at him.  “Explain this.”
The wedding ring landed in his lap.  He couldn’t bear to touch it.
“Give up,” he said like a prayer.
“No, that’s not an option.”  With a long sigh, she buttoned her shirt and walked around him. 
He turned when he heard her fumbling in her bag.  Two picture frames in her hands, she stood with her profile to him and red hair falling around her shoulders.  “You don’t deserve these, but I’m leaving them here anyway.”  She tossed them onto his lap where they covered the wedding ring.
“Is this what the big scene was about?  You giving me back my ring, dropping off some photos, letting me feel you up, kissing me?  Let me guess, now I’m supposed to snap back in line and crawl back to you, right?” God help him, he didn’t want to look at the pictures.  “Well, I can’t crawl.”
“You’ve been through a lot, I get it, but none of that is an excuse to be cruel.”  She pulled the leather jacket on while keeping her back to him.  “Feel sorry for yourself, if that’s what you want, but I don’t believe we’re over.  I think you’re just lashing out because you’re mad and frustrated and maybe--although I’m sure you’ll never admit it--scared.” She looked over her shoulder while pulling hair from beneath the jacket.  “This game of yours ends today.  I’m not pretending anymore.  I’ve given you enough time to figure things out, but now that’s over.  You’re my husband and I’m going to make sure people know it.”
“What are you going to do?”  He stiffened, knowing she always followed through with threats.  
“Raise some hell, rock your world,” she said with that wicked smile he had fallen for nearly two years ago in a darkened and dusty hotel lobby.  
“No, you won’t.”  He squinted at her, certain she was bluffing.  After all of this time, why would she show her hand?
“I’ve waited long enough, don’t you think?  I’m sick of it.”
Against his better judgment he looked at the framed pictures.  The top one was of the two of them wrapped in a sheet on her hotel bed, her hair cascading around bare shoulders, face illuminated by pale light, green eyes full of love and laughing as he took their self- portrait.  The picture came to life in his hands…he tasted her, smelled the room, felt her naked body next to his, heard them laughing, felt the love.  
When he glanced up at her, saw that she was busy fumbling through her bag and hoped she didn’t pull out any more surprises.  
With a sigh, he looked at the second photograph.  It was their wedding photo, although an outsider would never realize that.  He stood tall with his white shirt unbuttoned to the waist and laughter lighting his face. He had been so happy and in love that day as he’d watched her skip up the aisle with her red hair flying around her shoulders and the setting sun reflecting on her skin.  In the photo, her arms were wrapped around his waist, head against his chest, white strapless dress billowing around her legs and her smile wide with laughter.  Their friends, McGee, Lisa, Peter, Sally and Samson flanked them.  Three of those friends, Peter, Sally and Samson, were now dead.  
“Well, I’m leaving for now, but I’ll be back.”  She looped her bag over her chest and lingered near the door.  “And, you’re right, I did pull some strings to move you to the top of the waiting list. I knew you wanted to be close to your family even if would rather poke both of your eyes out than admit it, stubborn bastard.”
              “I’m sick of not having a say in what I do or don’t do.  You can’t do this.  Just because I’m trapped in this chair doesn’t mean I don’t have a say about my life and I want you out of it.  Damn it, Hope.  Just get the hell out and leave me alone.” 
Rage consumed him.  Rage for what could have been, what should have been, for a life lost.  Rage for everyone acting like he had no rights anymore, like he couldn’t make his own decisions.  He tossed the wedding ring and pictures across the room.
            Looking horrified, she covered her mouth with her hands and walked to the where the frames smashed against the floor.  As she bent, her bag spilled, contents ranging from liquid soap to a flashlight mixed with the broken glass.  She fell to her knees, hands shaking as she scooped up the items.  Fingers shook.  Knees crunched against broken glass.  Hair shielded her face from view, but he knew she cried. 
He remembered another time with her on her knees when the bag had saved his sanity.  Bombs had rocked the walls. Blood had dripped into his eyes. Dizziness barely kept him upright. From that bag, she had retrieved bandages, protein bars, bottles of water…He had thanked God for her and that oversized bag.  
“I’ll make sure I call next time,” she was saying in a rushed, soft voice.  “Wouldn’t want to inconvenience you.  God forbid—”
“I’m sorry.”  He dropped his hands to the arms of the chair and stared at her bent head. “I don’t know how to handle any of this, Hope, especially you.”
          She froze in motion at his words.  “Especially me, huh?  I am the one constant in your life, if you haven’t figured that out.  Despite all of the bullshit, here I am.  Me, stupid me, still needing you as much today as I did a year ago.”
His chest caved in at the sight of her eyes glistening with tears. He wanted to take it all back, every word. 
“I don’t know how to do this, how to be married, how to be back in the States, how to be a civilian again, how to not walk,” he admitted.
“You break my heart, Michael,” she whispered.
“How could I possibly break your heart?”
“By not seeing how strong you  are, how much you mean to everyone in your life, how worthy you are to be alive, how heroic you’ve been, how much I love you—”
“Stop it, Hope.”  
“Maybe I need to stop trying to hold on.  Maybe you’re right.”  Sighing, her shoulders slumped.      “We were this close,” she held her fingers an inch apart, “to having a life together when everything blew up in our faces.  Literally.  What else do I have to lose, right?  I already lost my dignity when I begged those damn beurocrats to let me see you in Germany.  And when I say begged, I mean I begged, pleaded, bartered, whatever I could possibly say or do to get in and then they told me that you,” she pointed at him, “said no, you told them I lied about being married to you.  And McGee backed you up.  I looked like a fool and a liar.”
“I’m sorry, Hope,” he whispered. 
“And now you’re doing it again.  Denying me.  You would rather sit in this place alone rather than admit to the world that I’m your wife. It’s true.”  She nodded at that, eyes gluing him in place. “I gave up my everything for you, soldier boy.  My life.  My pride.  My dignity.  I gave it all up for you.  Pitiful.”
“Why?” he choked out the question. “I did everything to get you to let me go. I didn’t want you to give up your life for me, can’t you see that?  You were born to be in the spotlight, dodging bullets, charming your way into and out of trouble.  I’m an anchor to you now, can’t you see that?  I want you to forget me.  Why won’t you let me go?” 
She closed her eyes, head tilted toward the ceiling. “Because maybe I went crazy over there. Maybe we weren’t this close,” again with the fingers, “to having a life together.  Maybe we were already there.  Maybe it wasn’t conventional but it was real, it was us.  Maybe I misunderstood sex for more.  Maybe I thought that our wedding meant as much to you as it did me.  Maybe I’m the biggest fool to walk the planet earth.”
“But now I’m broken so…” He hated himself for the words coming from his own mouth.  
“Yeah, that’s right.”  Nodding, she looked away from him and brushed the back of her hand over her eyes.  “And I’m too shallow to be the person you need, right? Too superficial?  I know the truth.  I know you should be capable of limited mobility, that you are not trapped in that chair, that you have have even managed to stand for a brief period of time here and there.  Didn’t you think I’d do some research on your injuries?  Yes, you’re in a wheelchair, but your situation isn’t hopeless. You’re the one who gave up, but for the life of me I don’t know why.  It’s not like you.  You’re a goddamn Colonel in the Marine Corps.  You don’t surrender, so what’s going on with you?”  
Her words stung.  He had heard them for months now.  And he didn’t know the answer.  “You need to be in New York or in the middle of war zone working for your next Emmy. You’re the It Girl, right?”
“Maybe you don’t know me as well as I thought,” she said with a bitter twist of her mouth.  “I’ve been waiting…don’t you see?  I could care less about a network job and you know it.  I had it...I left it.” She looped her bag over her torso.  “I love you.  I thought you loved me, too.  Until you can look me in the eye and tell me you don’t, that you never did, I’ll keep coming back.”
He grabbed the frames from the cushion of the sofa where she’d tossed them and looked at the broken glass.  Guilt and confusion ate away at his brain.  He shoved his hands through his hair. 
“Do you have any idea what it’s like for me not to know what to do?  I was a decorated officer.  I made decisions minute by minute that affected the lives of my unit, yet I don’t know what to do anymore. I don’t know what to do about this,” he smacked the chair, “I don’t know what to do about you and I definitely don’t know what to do about Dalton.  I’m fucked up.  I hate not knowing what to do.  You’re’s not like me.  Don’t you think I know that?”
With a muttered curse, she sat on the edge of the sofa and blinked at the ceiling.  “I’m sure it’s hell.  You were always in command. For months now, you’ve had one surgery after another, been under constant care with zero privacy, me pestering you with my endless notes and your family hauling you across the country without anyone asking what you want.  No one is respecting the officer in the room.”
He squinted at her.  “Exactly.  People talk about me rather than to me.”
“And yet expect you to snap out of your funk and get on with your life.”
“But I don’t know what that means.”  It bothered him that she understood him so well.  Her understanding shook his resolve, weakened his resistance.  
“And you haven’t tried because you’ve been mourning your old life and don’t know what the new life is yet.”
“Everyone thinks I’m a rotten, self-pitying bastard.”
“Because that’s what you want us to think so we leave you alone.”  She shoved both hands through her hair and sighed.  “You’re exhausting.”
“I know.”  He smiled for the first time in months.  “I exhaust myself, too.  I’m really sick of my crap.”
“Well, that’s something.”  She grinned, eyes dark with defeat.  “I haven’t respected the officer in the room, have I?”  She combed her fingers through his hair.  “I love you, if that means anything to you at all.”
“It means something to me.” He snagged her hand but she yanked it away as she stood.  
She hesitated at the door before looking at him over her shoulder.  “I want my husband back.”
Well, that was just a snippet of the let's see if I can wrap this baby up and get it sent to my publisher! Ha.  I always hate writing endings. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

An interview with author Jessica Lauryn

Author Jessica Lauryn
Today I'm thrilled to interview author Jessica Lauryn for "Open Mic Monday."  She's a romantic suspense author with two novels currently available, Dangerous Ally and Dangerous Proposal, both published via Siren-Bookstrand.  Sit back and enjoy her words of wisdom. 

When did you first realize you wanted to be an author? 
I was just out of college and in the midst of trying to figure out “what I wanted to be when I grew up.”  I had taken several writing classes in school, though, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to write, or whether I could possibly make a living doing it.  A group of my peers formed a critique group, and I decided to join, figuring that was a great place to start.  Having always loved romance, I decided on something of a whim that I would attempt to “write a romance novel.”  (Minor technicality: I’d never actually read one!)  I wrote up a short piece that stemmed from an old teenage crush, afterward deciding I needed to get my hands on a “real” romance novel, and “see how it was done.”  From that day forward I was totally hooked ;)  
Who were the biggest influences on you as a writer?
As I hadn’t really done any hard-core romance novel reading before plunging into a career writing it, I drew a lot of my initial inspiration from TV and movies.  Smallville, a 10-year drama that showcased the teenage years of Superman, was a huge influence on me both as a person, and a writer.  Not only was each episode unique and interesting, but each season seemed to stand on its own, as though it was a story in and of itself.  I love the idea of connecting stories, building a word that is based almost exclusively on one small group of characters. Consequently, I found myself attempting to master the art of series writing very early in the game. 

On average, how long does it take you to write a novel?
About one year.  I know if I didn’t work during the day I could kick out more, but for the time being, that is my pace.  And of course, this gives me room to grow as I improve and pick up speed ;)

Where do you find writing inspiration?
When I meet an especially unusual person, someone who seems a bit out of the ordinary, that tends to be the starting ground for a side character, or even a villain.  As a single woman who has never been married before, (or found Mr. Right!) I tend to draw a lot of my hero-inspiration straight from my own desires.  I’m most intrigued by heroes who are strong, yet flawed, in need of the help of an equally strong heroine to help them battle their inner demons.

What do you think makes a good story?
Great characters make a good story!  I feel I’ve written a winner when my readers can slip into the shoes of my heroine, be terrified of my villain, and fall head-over-heels in love with my hero.  A good plot carries a good story.  But great characters make a piece that will be remembered long after reading the final page.

Is there a main genre besides romance that you'd like to write for? 
Though my niche appears to be romantic suspense at the moment, I have recently considered the possibility of branching out into other sub genres such as historical romance and even erotica.  I’m definitely swept away by the romance of romance and I have a feeling I will stay within the bounds of this genre for some time, perhaps branching off into one of these, or another spin off genre at some point.  

Who are some of your favorite authors?
Jessica Trapp, Nicola Cornick and Catherine Coulter.  Each of these class-A authors crafts stories about dynamic, memorable characters, which seem to be the books I can’t get enough of. I’m also a big fan of Kathryn Smith and Amanda Quick aka Jayne Ann Krentz.

How important is reader feedback, good or bad, to you?
Reader feedback is very important to me!  As a reader, I know how great I feel when I’m reading a story that’s so good, I can’t bring myself to put it down between chapters.  (For me, this generally occurrs when the hero is taking a seductive lead, and I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do next!)  I want my readers to experience that same feeling when they read my stories.  If there’s something they’d like to see that isn’t there, I want to know about it.  If they love the story, I want to know that too!

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I’m big into antiquing, and I love searching for perfume bottles, furniture and jewelry that are from or remind me of the Victorian Era.  I’m also a big fan of the soaps; I’ve been following Days of Our Lives for most of my life, and just recently started watching the Young and the Restless.  (They also serve as dramatic inspiration for my writing, which is definitely a plus!)  

What advice, if any, do you have for aspiring authors?
Write what you love! The best stories, the ones readers (and agents, and editors!) remember are the ones that come from your heart.  Write what you love and, with practice, patience, and persistence, you WILL write your way to publication!

An excerpt of Dangerous Ally:
“Lilah, you’re a guest in this room, as well as this house,” Lucas said. “You don’t have to turn down my bed. That’s not why you’re here.” 
“No.” She looked at the floor, avoiding his tender gaze. “I’m here because of the nightmare, which, I’ve basically put out of my mind. So, I think it’s time I started sleeping in my own room again.” 
He came toward her, taking her hands in his. He lowered his voice. “Are you sure that’s what you want?” 
Of course it wasn’t what she wanted. Dear God, she wanted him to rip the nightgown from her body and kiss every last inch of her skin! But if she stayed with him another night, that was exactly what was going to happen. She was beginning to forget why it was a bad thing. 
“Have I done something to upset you?” Lucas asked, brushing her face with the tips of his fingers. 
She shook her head, doing her best to ignore how warm he was making her feel. “Not at all. You’ve been wonderful to me, Lucas. Nicer than any guy’s ever been. I just can’t stay in this room another night. I’m afraid if I do, that I’ll…” 
“If you do, that you’ll what?” He tipped her chin, forcing it upward. It was the first time he’d ever been rough with her. Or anything less than gentle for that matter. “You’re afraid I’ll take advantage of you?” 
“Of course not. I—” 
“Force you to be with me? Coerce you into a marriage and lock you away, like Lena believed I was going to? Maybe I haven’t changed, Lilah, and you saw what you wanted to in me to justify your own feelings. Go ahead. I won’t keep you when it’s obvious you’re no longer comfortable here.” 
Her cheeks flamed with anger as she deliberately thought up the meanest thing she could say back. “Maybe you really are the monster everyone says.” 
“If that’s true,” Lucas demanded, “then why didn’t it bother you last night? You’ve slept in my bed for two nights, not showing the slightest indication of fear. So why don’t you tell me the real reason you’re reluctant to stay here tonight?” 
Lilah was dumbfounded. What could she say? That she couldn’t sleep in the same bed with him because she wanted him so badly it kept her up in the middle of the night? That she thought constantly of touching him, of inching her way against his body, of making the mistake she’d sworn she wouldn’t since the day they’d met? 
“Do you think it was easy for me,” Lucas asked, his voice falling to a whisper, “lying next to you the last two nights, knowing you were right there and I could just reach out and touch your soft skin? No other man in his right mind would have undergone that amount of torture. Yet, I behaved like a gentleman. I did that because I care about you.” 
His tone grew angered as he released her. “I can’t do it another night. If you stay with me, I won’t hold back. I’m giving you a choice. You can leave right now, and I’ll never pressure you about this again. It’ll be like it never happened.” 
Lilah eyed the door, her last chance for escape. The sensible thing to do—the only thing to do—was leave, and never look back. But her legs remained in place. Her body ached with heat at the wicked thought of Lucas touching her, of him kissing her neck and throat, the sensitive spots behind her ears. She was dying for him to hold her against his body, to admire his broad chest. She’d never even seen him without a shirt. 
“What are you waiting for?” he asked impatiently. 
She took a deep breath. “I’m not leaving,” she said firmly.
“Then you leave me no choice,” he said and pressed his warm, open mouth against hers.

DANGEROUS ALLY, now available in both ebook and paperback from Bookstrand, Amazon and Barnes&  

And don't forget Jessica's new release, Dangerous Proposal, now available via ebook direct from the publisher at  BOOKSTRAND.COM.  
Stay up to date with Jessica via:

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Jessica Lauryn takes center stage for Open Mic Monday

Please welcome fellow Siren-Bookstrand author Jessica Lauryn to Open Mic Monday. She's talking about one of my favorite subjects--romantic suspense writing. 
Her latest novel, Dangerous Proposal, was just released June 5th.  I'm sure you'll want to be one of the first to read it after sampling the excerpt below.  
Drum roll please...cue the spotlight...welcome Ms. Lauryn to center stage! 
Author Jessica Lauryn

Dark heroes.  Mysterious Pasts.  Family secrets, diabolical plots, and forbidden attractions.  Just a few of the elements I love so much about the romantic suspense genre!  In fact, it was several of those very things that inspired what would become my first, and later, my second novels, Dangerous Ally and Dangerous Proposal.  
In the Pinnacles of Power series, which is a five book series in progress, centered around a diamond smuggling operation called Project Gemstone, the heroes—Ryan, Alec, Colin, Lucas, and Jack—must battle their inner demons (in many cases, their obsession for power) as they struggle to become a heroes of their own right.  The heroines—Abigail, Lena, Julia, Lilah, and Corrinne—are strong and independent women, each of whose lives are thrown a major curve upon meeting a man, their dangerous attraction to which, threatens to turn their very lives upside down (and does!)  I just love to throw my heroines into danger, particularly when that danger brings them straight into the arms of the man they secretly love!
As both a reader and a writer alike, I know it’s those edge-of-your seat moments that make me not want put a book down when I get to the end of a chapter.  I live for cliffhangers, and I know that my characters live for them too.  It’s what makes things exciting—that steamy kiss the heroine didn’t expect to receive, or bit of news that throws everyone into turmoil, the heart pounding moment when you realize an assumed friend is actually working for the enemy, and has a gun pointed at the hero’s head!  Building to these moments is what keeps me reading—and writing!—stories in which you never quite know what’s coming next.
Truly, the only thing more fun than reading a great romantic suspense…is writing one!  It can sometimes be as much of a mystery figuring how to put the pieces of the story together (for me, the writer,) as I imagine it is working through a challenging series of events for my characters.  It’s all about giving away just enough to tease, but saving the twists and turns for the most unexpected moments—something I have a lot of fun doing.  I’m a plotter, (both by nature and by choice) meaning I have to lay out pretty much the entire plot of a story out before I can start actually writing it.  I think this is very helpful in writing romantic suspense, because   you get a good idea of where the story is going ahead of time, and you can later work out the finer details.  
Mysteries, like any great genre, take a lot of thought and careful plotting.  Lucky for those of us romantic suspense junkies who write them though, there are few things we enjoy doing more than spending hours thinking all of those twists and turns through!
Alec smiled. It was oddly thrilling to hear that she had gone to so much trouble to gather information about him. Even if it was only part of a plan to take his life.
“You broke into the private office of a doctor because you were curious? Of course it means nothing to you that my diplomas are hanging around the room. Tell me, Lena, what is it about me that’s gotten you so curious?” He put his hands at her sides, pinning her in place. “Had I been in the same position as you, my dear, I suppose I might have been just as tempted. I am a rather fascinating subject matter, aren’t I? But I guess that’s just the difference between you and me. I have something called ethics. A good thing to have when you’re in my line of work.”
Alec found himself regretting his last statement. Why did she have to look at him that way? What reason could she possibly have to be hurt? “Lena, I—”
“You have the nerve to lecture me about ethics? You lure me into a hallway, kiss me against my will, and you have the nerve to say I’m unethical? Perhaps you ought to be looking in the mirror when you say a few of these things, Dr. Westwood!” 
“Perhaps I should.” His voice rose. “But I’m not the one investigating people. Am I?”
“Investigating people?” She blinked. 
Alec drew a breath. Not only was she an excellent liar, but he never dreamed he’d succeed in getting her as steamed as he was. He wondered if she was equally aroused. 
“No, of course not.” He leaned in close. “A sweet, innocent woman like you investigating a dark scoundrel like me? You and I both know that’s not what’s going on here. Don’t we, Lena?” 
“What do you mean?” Her hazel eyes sparkled with question.
“You play it like you’re so na├»ve. You play it very well, in fact, but you and I both know it’s just an act.”
“An act?” She bit her lip. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
He ran his fingertips down the length of her sleeve. “You know exactly what I’m talking about. The way you become so flustered every time I get close to you. You try to hide it, but it’s written all over your pretty face. You weren’t satisfied by our last encounter, and you thought you’d come over here and try again. Only this time”—he looked into her eyes—“I believe you want more than just to be kissed.” 
“Who the hell do you think you are?” she demanded, fighting to slip free of his grasp.
He held her in place. “You’re a smart woman, Lena. If you didn’t want to be here, you wouldn’t be. Go ahead. The door’s right there.” 
Alec bit his tongue. He’d definitely gone too far with that one. He’d all but offered her a way out. Releasing her, he watched and waited. But to his astonishment, Lena didn’t move. 
A smile crept upon his lips. 
She wanted him. Wanted him as much as he did her. There was no denying that now. She wanted him, and he was going to give her exactly what she’d asked for. Not to worry, my sweet. No reason for either of us to be ashamed about something we both want so much… 
He brought his face to hers so that their lips were almost touching. But he didn’t kiss her. Not yet. Lena believed she didn’t want him, thought herself immune to his charm. He was going to make sure she knew exactly how much she wanted to be there. 

Want more?  I know I do!  Dangerous Proposal is now available direct from the publisher in all ebook formats at

But let's not forget book one of the series, Dangerous Ally (an excerpt coming next week), available in ebook and paperback from Bookstrand, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  

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