Baptiste!

Billionaires of Journey's End #1

What had happened was…

Last spring, as I was finishing up the first draft of Unforgettable, it occurred to me that I needed to introduce another character to help solve a plot point. At first, I thought s/he might just be a throwaway character, like the process server who moves the plot along by letting the hero know he’s being sued, then proceeds on his merry way out of the story, never to be seen or heard from again. A character so unimportant that s/he doesn’t even need a name.

But then I thought…what if I make this person an old friend of Daniel’s…what if I make this person the anchor for the Journey’s End spinoff series I’d been considering…what if I try to kill those two birds with one stone?

Could it work?

With that—voilà!—Jean-Baptiste Mercier was born.

He sprang out of my imagination and onto the page fully formed. And let me tell you, it’s a gift when that happens. I’ve experienced this a few times before—with Justus, the say-anything bad boy hero from Risk, for example, and with Noah and Jonah, the precocious eight-year-old twins who appear in all the Journey’s End books. All these characters bounded onto the page with strong points of view and plenty to say. What could be better?

In Baptiste’s case, he had a stellar audition at the end of Unforgettable, then insisted on cutting ahead of Isaiah, the next Harper brother in line for his story to be told in my Journey’s End series. I had Baptiste announce as much in the epilogue. Was this fair to Isaiah and Alyssa, who’d been waiting patiently to get together? No, but what could I do with Baptiste chattering away in my head? His voice was so loud that I couldn’t hear any other characters, much less write their stories.

So I finished Unforgettable on a Friday and started No Ordinary Love on the following Monday. Without bothering to take any time off to decompress or recharge.

And can I just say—I LOVE Baptiste! Seriously. LOVE. HIM. Does he mess some @#$% up at times? Oh, yeah. Still love him, though. His big heart is always in the right place.

And Samira is just the heroine he needs.

I wrote and wrote and wrote.

And wrote.

And wrote some more.

All through the summer and early fall.

I wrote way more than I thought I would.

Baptiste and Samira, it turned out, have a love story too big to be contained in the two-hundred-and-twenty-ish pages I’d been hoping for. They have too much to say to each other. Too many outstanding issues to resolve before they earn a happily-ever-after.

BTW, this has never happened to me before. Normally, characters and plots behave very well.

But when this book headed north of four-hundred pages, one of my writing BFFs, Eve Silver, who frequently weighs in with timely and indispensable advice, made a brilliant observation:

You don’t have one book here—you have two.

Voilà!

Introducing the two-part saga of Baptiste and Samira, kicking off my new BILLIONAIRES OF JOURNEY’S END series:

No Ordinary Love and

Beyond Ordinary Love.

Coming very soon. Both of them. At the same time.

*VBG*

Stay tuned for more details, including cover copy, excerpts and release date…

Oh, and P.S.:

I still have more of Baptiste and Samira’s story to tell. So don’t act surprised when they pop up with at least an additional novella—and possibly a whole novel—somewhere down the road. 😉

Welcome to Journey’s End!

Fun factoids about Journey’s End:

  • I started writing A Journey’s End (originally called A Journey’s End Christmas, then called A Journey’s End New Year) in 2011-12;
  • My fictional small-town was inspired by an October visit to beautiful Sleepy Hollow for a writer’s conference;
  • While in Sleepy Hollow with writer pals, we visited Kykuit (pronounced ky-cut; Dutch for “lookout”), the spectacular hillside mansion built by John D. Rockefeller;
  • I wanted my town to be in the Hudson River Valley. Also wanted it to be quaint, upscale, touristy and within driving distance of NYC, in case I needed to send some of the characters down there for an adventure;
  • I named the main street DeGroot Avenue because de groot is Dutch for “the big one”;
  • To this day, I can never recall whether it’s DeGroot street or avenue, and need to look it up every time;
  • I originally drew a map of the town because I couldn’t keep track of how far Miranda’s coffee house, Java Nectar, was from James’s outfitter, Big Sky (I’m sure you’ll be knocked on your butts by my artistic skills and stunned by my illegible handwriting);
  • I wanted the town to be welcoming and diverse, anchored by a loving family (the Harpers) with five sexy brothers all in need of wives;
  • I tried to include all the amenities that would make me want to go for a visit and perhaps stay there—forever; and
  • I sometimes wish I could hop a plane and spend the day with the characters there.

So, anyway, as I get ready to drop Unforgettable, Journey’s End #5 on Monday (so excited!), I figured it was time to commission a tourist map so that readers can see what I see. Many thanks to the talented Su at Earthly Charms for her willingness to help bring my vision to life. Let me know if you like the map!

Through the Wringer

Call me twisted, but I really like putting my fictional lovers through the emotional wringer. My favorites scenes to write? The ones where they blow up at each other, finally saying everything they’ve been holding back and trying not to face all this time. The ones where they let their repressed feelings out and suffer the consequences.

 

I’ve written some heart-wringing books in my day. The kind where I say to myself, “Self, maybe that’s too much. Maybe you shouldn’t do that to your characters.” And then I always go ahead and do it anyway. 😉 I’m thinking of Risk. Sweeter Than Revenge. Tender Secrets. Redemption’s Kiss. It’s probably no accident that two of those stories feature lost loves trying to make their way back to each other. What could be more challenging—or more rewarding?

 

And that brings me to Unforgettable.

 

Daniel and Zoya have been apart for fourteen years. They were wildly, passionately in love in college. One day they had a big blow-up, then never saw each other again.

 

Until now.

 

They hoped they were over it.

 

They weren’t.

 

Can they ever move on and love each other again?

 

Oh, I think so.

 

Once I get through with them. 😉

 

Unforgettable was tremendously hard to write. Also tremendously satisfying.

 

I hope you agree.

 

 

 

 

Kareem Gregory vs. The Llama

I don’t know about you, but I love a good fictional villain. Hannibal Lecter, anyone? I’m kind of partial to my own villain, drug kingpin Kareem Gregory. I’m sure that those of us who have read the first two books in my Deadly series, Deadly Pursuit and Deadly Desires, can agree on one thing: Kareem Gregory, is not a nice person. His misdeeds drive the entire series.

 

Is he handsome, charming and sexy? Yeah, sure. Does he appreciate the finer things in life, including expensive cars, lavish homes, fine wine and custom clothes and shoes? Yep. Is he smart? Absolutely. Does he live by a moral code? You betcha.

 

The only problem? Kareem’s a violent sociopath determined to get what he wants. That moral code he lives by? It’s twisted by his warped vision of himself as a businessman who does what needs to be done in furtherance of his criminal enterprise.

 

And while he was fun to hang around with while I wrote this series, Kareem chills my blood. I would not want to meet him. Ever.

 

I have a writer friend who swears, to this day, that I could have rehabilitated him and made him an exciting hero in one of these books.

 

My answer? Yeah, no thanks. Kareem is evil. He was born that way. Though I love a nice Walter White antihero as much as the next person, I don’t want to tackle the monumental task of making Kareem into a good guy.

 

It was hard enough to make Kerry Randolph a good guy in Deadly Secrets. 😉

 

But I had to wonder…what if there’s someone worse out there? Someone who scares Kareem?

 

As Samuel L. Jackson said in Jurassic Park, “Hold onto your butts,” Dear Readers, while I introduce you to David Martin, aka the Llama—the villain in Deadly Secrets.

 

Why is he called the Llama? Because of his unfortunate fringed haircut, protuberant eyes, giant teeth and pointy ears. Who is he? Kareem’s business partner and the Miami drug kingpin. He runs Miami, an international hub city for drugs. He has flat eyes and strange proclivities.

 

Does he chill my blood? Yes!

 

More importantly, he chills Kareem’s blood.

 

If he and Kareem ever go head-to-head, who do you suppose will emerge the victor?

 

Pick up Deadly Secrets on Monday to find out, sports fans. 😉

 

 

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