Jenni Bara’s day job as a paralegal in family law (“writing real life unhappily ever afters”) made her an avid romance reader turned writer. We talk about character compatibility, second chance romances, and how her job helped her write stories. AND! Fun fact! Her nitpicky boss (!!) proofreads all her books, steamy bits and all! Hers was the very first romance he ever read. We also get down and dirty about housework — Roomba should sponsor this episode. Plus I read a steamy moment from her book More Than a Hero, the third book in her Becoming An Evans series.
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Jenni Barra lives in New Jersey working as a paralegal in family law writing real life unhappily ever afters every day. In turn, she spends her free time with anything that keeps her laughing, including her life with four kids or five if you count her husband. She's just starting her career as a romance author writing books with an outstanding balance of life. Love and laughter. Welcome, Jenny to steam scenes. I am so happy that you're here.
I'm so happy that you had me. I'm very excited.
Well, I'm excited to I will first of all, okay, we're gonna save this for the end. But I loved your steamy scene. Oh, so good. But we'll get to that. It's like, I'm like cliffy, you have to listen to the whole episode before you get to the good bits.
Everyone on the edge of their seats.
So I have a question for you. Because it really kind of struck me when in your bio writing on happily ever afters and family law. Are you working on? Are you working with divorce lawyers?
Yes. So we do a lot of divorce. And we also do a lot of kids that are in bad situations. Okay. Child Protective Services. So my job is very heavy. So that's why I say in turn, I like things that are light and laughy. And fun. Obviously, I don't write dark.
Mafia romance here, you
know. But it's so it is nice to have a happy ending with a story and have it be light and a little bit of funny like a very quippy funny kind of story versus the sad that I deal with all day long. I actually have to
say like, I kind of feel like working in divorce law, you probably sort of see a lot of like, you probably have an idea or a better idea of what makes a relationship. What's important to a relationship, because you see where that relationship is falling apart. Does that make sense? Yes, it does.
It does. And you definitely see a lot of compatibility versus incompatibility issues. So you can see like, Oh, I definitely see why this didn't work out. 100% Because, you know, they go back and forth. And they're both like, dug their heels in and you're like, Well, I can see why.
I just wonder did that does that come though, because the relationship has fallen apart. And it becomes almost like a like, like, well, I guess if you're if there's a power play, there probably was some sort of power struggle going on in the relationship to begin with? Yeah,
I think it's probably a combination of both. But usually, I mean, obviously, we always say, typically, in the courtroom, you see, like people at their best in front of a judge, you know, divorce, you see people at their absolute worst, like they can be to normal people. And yet, because of the high intensity situation, they sound a bit crazy. So it and they would never act like that in a normal situation. So I mean, there's definitely an aspect of it's the situation, but you can also tell, like, why it never would have worked because of like, the polar opposite nearness of the two people and their inability to compromise. So it does. Wow, it does. You do get to see a lot of that. So you can also see how small things make a big difference.
Yeah, I'm sure I'm kind of curious to like, what does that do with like the opposite attract? Opposites attract trope, like does that just like throw that right? And like, we're just gonna throw that right in the garbage?
I think you have to have like, they might see him opposite. But there has to be a little common ground. Although my new not my book that's coming out the end of the month, but the next one that will come out in May. I'm doing enemies to lovers. And I found that it's a little bit harder to write that. It's not my strongest suit I
would do with your day jobs.
I think so because I'm like, Okay, how do I bring them back from like the I've never seen this go from enemies to lovers to have it work except for in books. So that made it a little harder. But that's so interesting.
Well, here's a question. Have you written a second chance? Romance? Yeah.
I have written a second chance romance. It is not released yet though. But that's actually that was actually where I started. That was my first book that I wrote, I just haven't done anything with it. It's sitting by itself. Oh, that's interesting that
it was your first book. I don't know Freud would have something to say about this. I feel Okay, so Okay, so were you able to was that hard? Because I mean, like you said, you're sort of seeing, Oh, I know why you'd split up, right? And then and now you have the couple split up. And now you got to put them back together.
Yeah. So when I did it, it was more circumstances pulled them apart, versus like incompatibility. I don't think a good second chance, it needs to be something besides just they're completely incompatible. Because if they're incompatible, they're incompatible. You can't fix that, you know, right, right. It's to be either timing or, you know, like, they're young, and they go their separate ways or, you know, a job moves them or whatever might be the case, but you have to have it be circumstantial versus
this is so fascinating. I have actually played with the idea of like, being a paralegal. And I know that there's school involved and I can't seem to quite, it's weird, like paralegal thing is like, I don't know, I feel like there's some sort of like, secret society, because I can't quite find all the information I need on the internet. But I'm like, because I just feel like I would learn so much in terms of my writing.
Definitely, it's very, it's a very just in terms of everything in terms of writing, you learn a lot, because what we do a lot of the times is we are telling somebody's story to the judge on paper. So we need to hit those high points, we need to get them to come across on the paper, which is exactly what you're doing. As a writer, you're trying to get your character to come across on the paper. So that helps a lot. And then just the general skills of writing. I mean, obviously,
you're you're writing all day for your job. Yes. Yeah. I mean, me too, but like, different, but it's a different sort of different sort of thing. But you're like, I just I just find that so fat, because you also are meeting so many different people having all of these different experiences. I don't know. I'm just I'm just fascinated by this. And it's like, I wish I could do that. I want to do that for a little while.
Yeah, it's definitely it's, it's definitely great for my writing. And I enjoy it. I'm very lucky. The lawyers I work for are both amazing guys that have a great understanding of work life balance, because a lot of times in the legal field. Yes, that doesn't work, but they are very family's important family. First, you have to do what you need to do. And when you're here, we're glad you're here. But you know, if one of the kids are sick, they don't even like question like stay home, you take care of them. That's what's important. So they both have kids too. So I'm very lucky. I'm very lucky with where I work and the guys I work with
that is amazing. Do they know you wright romance?
One is my final proofreader.
Yep, he does the final proof. He is like the most nitpicky person, like in terms of like, where's the comma, this word placement. So he's done the final proofread on all my books for me to make sure that they are perfect because he always says you don't want to publish something and then have a typo or missed comma. You're right. I don't 100%
That's amazing. I mean, no. Is he is he like a closet romance reader like, or is he like,
he's a huge reader. But he had never read a romance until I started reading.
Did his eyes pop out?
He was like, wow, okay.
Unknown Speaker 8:44
That's what I said. I was like, you know, there's like a steam level in these. And he's like, Yeah, that's fine. So then, but then he was like, wow, oh, okay. Wow. Wow.
Oh, my God. That's kind of wild that your boss is your proofreader?
Yeah, I mean, I can't proofread or two, he's just final proofread. But it's been I guess I use and it's, it's funny, because I use a pen name. And yet everybody in my life knows that I write and most of them have read my book, my brothers, my parents, my grandmother read my first book. My, my kids, friends, parents are all like, Oh, can you send a copy of my book? And absolutely, here we go. So people are like, Why do you use a pen name? Well, it's just that little bit of separation. You know, like, I have my life and then I have my work life and they don't have to be on top of each other so much. And my name is much longer and this journey bar is a little more catchy. So
a little bit easier. Yeah, it's definitely easier. So I mean, I've just sort of jumped back a minute. When did you just like realize that you wanted to be a writer? I mean, did you sort of get into it slowly from the paralegal work or did you know From a young age,
so I have always been a writer, like, I love to write a story, I love to tell a story. I was always a big reader to my grandparents. My grandmother, when we were really little, and we used to stay with her, she every night would have us help her tell a story. Like we'd make it up together. And when we were little, they were kind of fairy tale ish. And then like, when we got to be like, 10 and 12. They'd be like mysteries where we could figure out who did it, you know, through the story. And, and my grandfather encouraged us to read where we'd always have a book, and he do like book club and share books. And this is and he would read whatever. They have, like 18 grandkids, and he would read all different books at all different ages with the kids so that he was always reading what his grandkids were reading, so he could talk about it. Oh. So they were like, hugely influential into my love of reading and writing. So I always kind of wrote, I never planned on publishing, I'm in tell my sister in law. Read, she's like you, you write, right? And I was like, yeah, she's like, Can I read one? And I said, Sure. So I gave her like, a very early copy of more than the game, which is my first book that came out in September, and she loved it. She's like, why do you not do anything with this? This is cute and funny. And like, why are you just sitting on it? Just for me, like, I never planned on doing anything with it. She's like, No, no, you need to do something with it. And so she and then she gave it to my other sister in laws. And they were all like, yeah, yeah, why aren't you doing anything? So I took some classes and learned how to do it better. And then I queried and had a couple of agents that were interested. But then I decided to go Indian to publish myself, just because I am a bit of a control freak, I guess. And I did not love the idea of like, losing control completely of the story and my characters and stuff like that.
Yeah, the process is also, honestly, the process is like, Jurassic, it's so slow. process. And so it's hot. Like, if you just want to, you know, when you write, you want to get the workout. And you're in this constant sort of query, like the the time from query to publish, assuming you get accepted, is painfully long.
It's up to you years. And that's, that's one like, Agent talks to you until the book comes out, not from when you send a query, and I don't think like a lot of people just don't realize and with the amount that through COVID, the agents are getting now, it's longer than that. I mean, you might not hear back from for six or eight months, even just to be like, Hey, can I get more pages? It's crazy now.
Yeah, it really is. It really is. I'm kind of also fascinated, though, that you actually had like, a body of work kind of ready to go like how many books how many? Because writing a novel is a big thing. You know, I mean, I think everybody because and I think everybody kind of gets that one because what is that? What's that saying about? Like? Oh, everybody says they want to write they want to write a novel, because but it's one of those things that it is so daunting artists so it really is like a huge commitment. I'm sort of fascinated that you had how many novels did you have? I mean in a very various stages of finished right? Because if they were just for you, I'm sure they were just not you know, they weren't they weren't you weren't ready to publish them right then.
So I had six done like as in the story was on the paper now. Like I use done, they had not been Beta read they had not been edited, they had plot holes, you know, but like, there was like 90,000 words written from start to finish on Yes, unfortunately I did not so my my book is a family series so I marry off the siblings as we go along. I did not write them in the order that my head the story was going to go so I have some later ones done and then some earlier ones done. So like, like I said, right now I'm working on book four and that one, I only had 40,000 words written when I published the first one on the fourth one,
okay, because I did see like that that there was like there that you're releasing pretty rapidly and I was like, wow, that's super impressive. Impressive because like, I know I banked some books before I released my my LA rocks. Are series. So like I think I had like one book done one book just about done. And then another book almost done so I was able I was trying to rapid release it. But once I got through like I was so frazzled releasing so many books in such quick succession, that I didn't get to the fourth timely manner. So now like now I'm sort of backwards and everything's kind of really slow down. Well, it's, it's hard
to because I didn't realize how much marketing I guess how much time that was gonna suck out of my life to market the book once it was out, like I just kind of figured, okay, then you're done, you move on. That's not how it works at all. I spend so much time now, you know, researching and, you know, keywords and making graphics and posting on different social media and interacting with my readers and that I really had no idea that that was, that was a something that I needed to plan into my timeline. Obviously now I do but I did not know that was going I was a little overwhelmed by that amount of time that I spend on that stuff. But lesson learned now I know just
No, I mean, it is it's actually an ornament an ordinate amount of time I was actually talking to a friend of mine about that this just yesterday. It's like you know and and you have a day job I have a day job you know, it's like so it's like oh my god, like where do you and I'm just like my social media is falling off because I just don't have time to keep up.
Yeah, it's it's a lot it's a lot with and I had you know, you have kids and my husband and I have my house to take care of it doesn't you know like it's not magic laundry doesn't do itself did but yeah, I wish it would but you know, like that kind of stuff. dinner dishes
Don't come over my house right now. It is Reagan disaster at the moment because I've just been working so much and I'm just like, well, cleaning is gonna have to wait.
I'm bad. I'm bad at laundry. I will admit like I I'm bad at especially folding the laundry like I'm like okay machine, put it in the wash and then I'm like, oh my god, I have six bins of clothes to fold. Okay.
I spend hours folding clothes
I fold really quickly because I don't want to iron. So if I like if I just dumping it like that gets all wrinkled, and then I'm like, I'm gonna iron that shirt. Are you kidding me? So I just actually like fold really quickly. So I'm actually okay with the with the laundry. I'm pretty good with the laundry. All the other stuff. It's like cleaning the bathroom and scrubbing the shower and vacuum and I'm just like, oh my god, there's not enough time in the day.
Yep. So we have a Roomba that vacuuming for me. My husband thought he was cute and named Lisa. And now my four year old thinks that Lisa is like a person and Hey, Lisa is moving Lisa is gonna get my toys I need to put this away because Lisa's mean.
me like I'm like oh that's our vacuum.
Who's Lisa and why is she so mean
that's that's the Roomba? Yeah.
Do you like it I had we had like a really early version of it. It was like you know room a 1.5 or Roomba 1.5 or something like that and it just wasn't what we wanted it to be. Now we also have pets so I don't know if that was part of the problem too or if it was just it was just too early in the technology.
Um I ours is newer. We just got it about six months ago it's it's we have all my whole downstairs is the same lab like it's not up and down steps and the floors are all hardwood. So for us it works out perfect. We have the system where it comes through and it sweeps and then it mops. Oh yeah. So it does that hole and it does go up onto the area carpets without a problem. It goes under the kitchen table it like so the first week and a half we had it my husband just mapped the house constantly so that it would learn to go onto the train table and under the kitchen table and around the chairs and not just think that that wasn't an area to do like it learned where so he mapped it for like there's a setting I guess map house and he had it just mapped the house over so it learns where everything was. So we really we only have a cat. Okay. And she shorthaired so she's not a huge shedder but we love it. I mean, especially with the cat and the four year olds and the crumbs and then you know the teenager errs, who just come in with the mud and the dirt and leaves. And you're just like, Okay, go. And I love that on the app too. I can just send it to like, oh, go by the kitchen table, and it sweeps the kitchen table, and then I'll mop right there. Because Andy spilled something. Oh, my gosh, okay. Yeah, it's, it's, it's not cheap. No,
it's not cheap. So it was worth the price.
It definitely was, because that saves me a lot of time. And we even send it once a week upstairs. And it runs through that UPS. Do you have to carry it obviously. Right, right. But you put it down and then it does the upstairs once a week. I mean, we don't have nearly the mess up there. Because you just don't eat and spill and yeah, really, the shoes are off by the kid or at least the dirt is off the shoes.
So you thought you were going to be listening to steamy scenes, but we're actually talking about vacuuming.
All right, I get off.
I love it. I mean, I sent us there. I totally sent us there. But to move back. What did you always you were a big reader. Obviously reading with your grandparents. I don't know that they were reading romance books to you. But maybe they were. When did you were you always a romance reader.
So I started my first romance that you would say like is like traditional romance when I was in high school. Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I don't know if you've ever I do not know her read her. Yeah, she's been she's been around forever. My grandmother actually was the one that gave it to me. She was like, Oh, this one's a great book. You'll love it. It's funny. It's definitely she has that rom kami feel to her so and it's probably not quite as steamy as nowadays some of the steam level is because this is going back a while and she's traditionally published. So obviously that's a little bit a lot of times slower steam level two, but yeah, that was my first one. It had to be you it was a sports romance. Oh, and um, yeah, I definitely as soon as I read it, I fell in love with the genre and just like chewed through those rom commie fun reads and then as I got older, you know, I read more different steam levels, different types of romances and stuff like that. But I definitely gravitate that way because my job is so unhappily ever after that. That's why I started writing that way,
right? I was gonna I was gonna ask you like, do you when you read? Do you? Do you go dark? Or are you kind of like you're kind of strict? Or do you stick to the rom coms?
I will read dark, especially like beta reading and are creating for friends stuff, author friend stuff, but if I'm strictly choosing either do suspense, romance, or because I love I love a suspense and trying to figure it out. Okay. Or I will do a rom com me like that's where I prefer I also do love a sports romance
because Okay, cuz. So more than a hero.
Is this. Because, yes, yes, it is that
okay, so, but it's not like a rom com right? It's more or is it some calm suspense, which I don't know that I've read that.
It's not rom com, traditionally, but it definitely has parts that will make you laugh because the Evans Family, just their interactions, have people laughing so you will definitely end. Nick the main character definitely has that. Like joking, teasing side to him. So you definitely can have like some chuckles in there, but it's definitely meant to be suspense. Romance.
Okay. All right. Cool. And I Okay, and is that more than a game too? Because that seems less suspenseful?
No, it was, it was not suspenseful. It was not more than fine. is where I started putting suspension. And I realized I very much enjoyed writing that way. Um, so that's how that went. And then more than a hero. There was no way with a Navy Seal, but I could just do like, straight wrong. And not be like
yeah, no, can I do? Yeah, I thought I'm sort of fascinated by people who write romantic suspense because I can't do it. So like, I feel like you know, you know, like that injecting that mystery having that sort of I don't know, if it's like a crime to solve or something like that, you know, or thriller, you know, Thriller will bla bla thriller, I can't like I like I can't seem to quite get that part of it. And I love reading it. And I'm like, I wish I could write that,
it's very tricky because you kind of have to arc, the romantic plot and the suspense plot and pinch them almost simultaneously. But yet, you know, not because you can't have it be like a wave of up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down. So they have to kind of go together, and fine tuning that is definitely, it's definitely a tricky thing. But I enjoy that type of thing. But you do need to, I rely a lot on my, like alpha readers to help me with that to make sure that I'm hitting those points, right, where that they'll be like, maybe this is coming a little too early. So this down so that you have that nice arc in the suspense romance plot simultaneously, which is what makes it a good read.
Okay, all right, that's really actually great information to know, because I was sort of wondering how you like how you put it together and sort of threads. So you have like this, you have a whole team of readers that are sort of like lined up doing your sort of first reads and then going straight through like beta reads and arc reads and stuff like that, that's really extraordinary that you've managed to have a team like that. My books,
very, I am very lucky that I've, I've, I have a great circle of support in terms of like writing life where I have all different I mean, I even have people to who aren't there just like they read my stuff. But their fellow authors too, that we we do like marketing stuff for each other to where we help each other with like, graphics and release day and post for each other and that kind of stuff. So I'm, I'm super lucky. I do have I have a great team of alpha readers, beta readers, arc readers. I couldn't I mean, like, I'm very, very lucky with that. And that's really cool. Wonderful.
How'd you find
So I ran a Facebook group with one of them. Her name is Amy, it's called women who write romance. And most of them we have, like 500 members. Now, it started off smaller. Most of them, I found through that. I also did a couple classes in New York, where I met a couple of women in that, like when we went in for the classes, and I just kind of connected with them. And our our voices work well together in terms of reading for each other, which has been very nice,
that's really great that you can sort of find that because that's also important. You know, like, you don't want to give a rom com if there's somebody who strictly writes dark romance, and that's where they're interested, you know, and now you're giving them a rom com, maybe that's not quite their thing, you know, that's not there.
It's different, like when you're reading for somebody, you have to know the genre, if you're going to be able to critique effectively for them. Because if you don't know what you're talking about, then like you're just not really being helpful, even if you're trying to be helpful. So
yeah, and this is where I actually fall down. I can't seem to I just can't I can't seem to sort of like, I don't know, I feel like I don't necessarily hit the genre points exactly as I should write. Or the choke points, you know, there's always something there was not quite as like, I'm always like, oh, can be a little different. Think that holds me back, you know, like, because I know that readers have these expectations. And this is what they want. And always like, hey, yeah, I know what you want. But this is what I want to do.
Well, I think that's I think that's very hard in indie in general, because there's nobody over your head being like, oh, that might be what you want to do. But that's not what you're going to do. Because that's not the the trope that's not the market. That's not that you know what I mean? So like you have to be, you have to be like very aware of what's going on within your genre, I think which is why having critique partners that write the same stuff helps a lot, right, because you definitely feel it more but it can be hard to find because you know, you don't click with everyone and it's kind of scary to like sending your stuff off to people you don't know and like, are they gonna copy it or they you know, like, or are they just gonna like hate on it? It's easiest thing being a writer.
Yeah, it's kind of terrifying actually. I always I know when I'm when I have to send you know, when I'm sending a book to like a writer friend, one of my books and you know, particularly because you know, I like the writers friends that I have the author friends that I have that I've struck up relationships with, like, I really love their writing. So I'm almost a fan and so to send my stuff over to them as a little link all they're gonna do that. If you don't hear back from them in like a week, you're like, oh God, they hated it. Oh my god, they're not gonna want to be my friend anymore. They hate they hate that I you know, you start telling yourself all these stupid stories?
Oh, definitely, definitely I was I was just saying this to one of my other author friends. His book, he writes male male romance and his book came out in January and I hadn't read it yet. And I was like dying for it to come out because I wanted to read it. And I was in the middle of doing edits. So I hadn't read it yet. And it was like a week and a half later, and I sent him a message and I'm like, oh my god, I just finished it. I read it in a day. I loved it. He's like, my first thought was you hated it? Because you didn't say anything for like a week.
Oh, my God, I was so busy. I did not eat it at all.
Oh, my God. Well, first of all, send him my way, please, because I have not had enough. male authors on and, and I want more that are writing in that male male genre. So please, like pass along my info to him because I would love to have him on the podcast.
I definitely will. I will mentioned to him. His name is Gary Michael. Oh,
very cool. Yeah, I would love to talk to I would love to talk to more men, please. More. Yeah, a podcast
and, and he does his steamy scenes are awesome. So,
um, you know, and male male romance is a huge genre. It is really enormous. Which I think is really, really interesting. And so I would love to just, you know, talk to more authors that are writing in it. And oddly, I have not had the only people that are right, well, I've had non binary authors, but I have not had a male author writing male male on and so he would be like, he's the puppet maturi. So I would love to have him.
Let him know. I'm sure he would love to do it. I will pass him your way.
Excellent. Cool. Okay, so I also wanted to sort of throw out there because more than fine, which was that's the wait, now which one? Second one? Thank you. Second one. You have to single parents? Yes. And I, I was surprised I have two in my series where one it's not both single parents, there is one single parent. And I never thought I would say this. I love the dynamic that kids the dynamic of children, injecting children in the relationship. I think it's awesome. I love doing it.
It's it's fun. And you know, a lot of times, it gives you the ability to have a little more straightforward conversation sometimes because kids will say stuff that adults might, you know, hold back a little bit on. So that was I love having kids in the story. And I love I love the fun that they can add to and the way so in more than fine grants a little bit of a grump and kind of gruff. But with kids, he has a softer side that you get to see. So that's super fun, in terms of that, because a lot of times you're grumpy people do have a softer side, and kids tend to bring that out because they're just sweet and innocent and can't be mean to the kids. You know.
Yeah, I was gonna say like, I find that it actually, it, there's a there's a dynamic in the relationship that I think gets deeper when you are writing kids. And I think that it's because the stakes are much higher. I think for a parent for somebody that's apparent in relationships in romantic relationships, because you're walking into a relationship, not just one person now there's somebody else. And and so that person stakes are higher and and both people you know, but even if it's like one person that has the kid, like both know it, but both both understand that this sort of ups the UPS the game a bit, you know, and change and really does change the dynamic. And I think that's one of the reasons why I love because I just feel like the the stories where I've written the kids have actually been really emotionally deeper, which I don't know if that was a coincidence, or if it was injecting the kids into it, but it was really kind of amazing.
It does. I definitely think that that is that is 100% Sure. I mean, I was a single parent before, you know my current husband and I got together. And like I said, I had one my oldest son is much older and he was so I have that experience being a single parent and doing the whole new relationship and it's hard for the other person to because they're realizing like I'm kind of stepping into a role as a parent. And I kind of have to make a decision quick if I'm going to be that or not because I can't, you know, string this kid along even You know, so it kind of makes the other person have to think and evaluate faster too. So
yeah, it's really very interesting. And it was something that I was always like a kid and then all of a sudden I'm like, oh my god, I love putting the kids in the crate. And they are fun and they, you know, and they do sort of, like, you know, stir things up a little bit plot wise sometimes. And, you know, it's just, there's just so much there, there just adds such a great layer to it that I'm just like, this is pretty awesome having these kids here, you know,
I agree. I do love that. I love a story with kids. And I love the single parent either single dads single mom, I those those are usually my favorite kind to read. So, what steam
level do you like reading? Um,
I, I prefer it to be more middle not clean. Not super, super steamy. Um, I'm not I don't read a lot of like, BDSM type of steam level. But I'm not opposed to it either. So but I usually fall into like the mid I don't like it to be closed door but I don't need tons of I want. I don't like it to be erotica. I need there to be a story. I'm okay with any steam level, as long as there's a story that goes along with it. I guess that's what I should say.
Okay, fair, fair point. Fair point. Because I'm just kind of curious, you know, it. Okay, so go back, go in the Wayback Machine and think about the very, very first romance you wrote, you wrote? Did you write a steamy scene? Yes. How did you feel when you wrote it? Was it weird?
Um, I mean, it's a little weird in some ways. But by that point, I had read multiple of them. So I wasn't like, Oh, totally weirded out by it either. But I have noticed steamy scenes, I need to be in the mood to write one. I can't just sit down. Like if I'm, if I'm writing because I need words down. That particular day, I will force myself to sit down and write. So I can get, I can get working. But I can't do that with a steamy scene, like I can't force myself because then they don't sound good. They don't read well, yeah, I have to be in the mood to write one for it to work effectively. So
what do you do when you come to that point? You're just like, No, not today? Do you just kind of like insert, you just skip it and go back to it later. Okay, I'm
not a writer in order. So okay.
I can, I can write a scene and I will have to go back and put details in, okay. But I might know a conversation that I want them to have eventually. So I will write that out. And then insert it in the right spot when I get there with the details that I need to go about it. So like, for example, in more than a hero, I knew at some point, Nick, and Morgan's father had to have a conversation. And I wrote that very early on in the book and kind of like worked my way to that in terms of everything that went on in the book, and I knew that conversation was taking place. Because Morgan is Nick's best friend's little sister. So he knew the family prior to them ending up together. So like that was going to be a conversation they were going to have so I knew that going into it. So that was very easy to write. And then I just could work to that point of that's where the story is getting. And then the suspense details can be added back in. When you know that plot. God doesn't work for everybody. It definitely does it. So are
you a plotter? pancer a little bit of both. I mean, I imagine what suspense you have to plot.
Yes, I plot but I don't plan on paper with notes, or in an outline form a story through my head. Okay, I like live with the characters for a long time thinking about them thinking about how the story would go thinking about how I want the suspense to go thinking about the so in Morgan story, it's a stalker. So like, I like hanging out with the stalker for a while and think about what he would do and how that would go and how, how I would get him where I need the story to be even though I'm never in his point of view. Right. So that's kind of how I plot which is different than other people but I also like can hang on to details in my head forever. Okay,
well, it's actually seems kind of similar to the way I work to a degree which is like I do a lot of like you I've evolved to doing more deep character work as opposed to doing like a firm plot outline. So you know, so like, the main characters will always get some sort of like really like in depth word to the point where I'm like writing their origin scenes. Which is great. But you know, it does take time, but I do write it out like I don't, because I would forget, I would just forget everything
I write out when I'm actually like writing and finishing it, I'll write out important details like when their birthday is because in writing like a family series, some things have to hold true. So like, I need to remember book one's character details. So I do go back and like put that down. So two years from now, when I'm writing like the last brother, I remember the first books detail, so I don't mess them up. Right, amazing. Readers will catch that kind of stuff. Yeah. So I do write that stuff down. But I don't do pre writing.
Work. Okay, cool. I need to do a better job of like, marking down these because I never did. Like, I need to have a serious Bible and I don't have it, you know, because all of a sudden, like, I'll have, you know, eye colors change. I mean, luckily, I have got my editors are great catching my goofs, but I really should make my shit gouffre by having some
spiteful? Well, it's a lot to
hang out. Like, when you're writing your first couple. You don't really think it's going to be Oh, of course, I'll remember this. I created this person. Yeah, but when you've created 14 more, I don't remember the first one as well as I should. Yeah.
All of a sudden, somebody's name changes or just like, wait,
they totally had a birthday around Christmas. And now you're saying you're going to birthday party in the summer for this person? Sorry, I screwed that up. Yeah.
So how do you so how it since it, since you do need to be in the mood to write the steamy scenes? How do you approach it?
I don't, I don't really have a system. So that's I'm like, a very chaotic person in general. So I don't have a lot of systems. But mostly, when I, I, like I said, when I live with the characters, you know, I just start to like, realize, okay, this is how they're going to connect. And that's another thing I might write out of order. If I, if I'm like, oh, okay, this would really work. I can see this is how his personality is, this is how hers is going to be. And then it kind of just starts to like, play through my my head. Like, I'm literally like watching the movie of it happening. And I'm like, Okay, I gotta write this down before I forget how I want this to go. And then I do I also do do a lot of music. Like I listened because there's a lot of people in my house, so it can be hard to concentrate sometimes. So I will just put my earbuds in and listen to music to help get me in the right headset to do that kind of a steamy scene. Use that always the same. It's like, Whatever, whatever music I happen to be feeling for them. For each particular couple, because it does, you know, it's different for each couple. I think.
So is that music with lyrics? Or is it musical because I can't listen to lyrics while I'm writing.
I usually do a lot of classical because I do prefer it to just be sound. And sometimes it's like sweeter and sometimes it's hard, like harder hitting classical, but I played the piano. My kids play the piano. So we do have a lot of you know, like classical music floating around the house too.
Oh, cool. Okay, so we should probably get to your steamy scene. Um, so this is from more than a hero at February 28. It will be up by the time this goes. And so this I'm curious, like, Okay, why did you pick this scene?
Um, to send to you or why did I? I picked this scene to send to you because for a couple reasons. A I did not do one of the earlier books when I sent the scene because sometimes you get a little too much of the story from the scene. And this one I felt like I could send without ruining any of the story. And it had a fun dynamic of the fact that I put these people in like a romance Couples Retreat type of a place Um, and the whole I don't know if you've ever been to any of them where it's like there's a pool in your room
and the mirrors are everywhere.
Oh, like the Poconos?
Yes, yeah, definitely
like a honeymoon. So like I picked, so I picked that particular spot where I stuck them. My husband and I wow, years ago.
The hardship Chase, I kept going. So weird, but okay. And now now now it all makes sense.
So I stack them there because he's, he's doing he, Nick owns a security business. So he does investigation and surveillance and that kind of stuff. So he is in the middle of doing a job when his best friend's father has. Louie is his best friend who died in there on the SEAL teams together. He died a few years earlier. And his father calls and says Morgan is in trouble. Do you think you could help us? And he's doing this other job, so she has to go with it. So he could watch her? Like,
Oh, whatever. That's how they end. Yeah, yeah. Absolutely fun
idea to put them in like, you know, one of those like the Poconos, which oh my god if you I mean, there it is. So kitschy and ridiculous and fun.
A little bit of the humor that I said falls into it, too, because like they're obviously in this place where it's like, she's like, Oh, this is such a cute romance retreat. And he's like, this is like a sex retreat. What are you talking about? And just oh my god,
the two story that they took the two storey champagne glass tub. Oh my god. Yes. Yes. I love.
Exactly. Exactly. So. So that made that made the scene. Fun.
Okay, so setting up the scene. They've, it seems like before this, there was some attraction there that they actually acted on, but then probably pulled back from? Yes. Okay. Yes. He's
constantly like, pulling back a little bit. I'm being like, I'm supposed to be this is a job. I'm supposed to be watching her. This is not this. I'm not doing what am I doing? And so she's getting the hot and cold. Like, right? He's, and she's like, I can't I can't keep up. You're hot the next minute. Literally, you're like a different person. How are you? And he continues to string her along that way for a little bit.
All right, well, let me go. Let me just dive right into it. So I just like from the jump. I was like, oh my god, I love this first, this first opening. So I'm just gonna start there start at the beginning. He turned and his eyes ran up her body over her legs past her hips and waist. His breath sped up as his gaze raked over her breast. It felt like an actual caress. He paused at her lips before meeting her eyes. I love this. I thought it was so simple and straightforward. And it took me but it took me straight in right away. Like I could see every single step of like, I could see the I could see the scan, you know, and like sort of like doing that scan and how that would have felt and feeling like a caress like the eyes caressing the body. I was like, Okay, this is amazing. And it just put me right there. Like exactly where I needed to be. Good. I'm glad so very
nice when it works. Yes.
No, no, it doesn't. It does. Alright, so that's it. I just wanted to say that about the opening. Okay. His arms tightened around her as he shook his head before he said it's a bad idea. The rejections some hard, She shut her eyes, taking a breath, unwilling to cry, and he pulled back forcing her head off his shoulder so he could see her. His eyes were to intense desire and heat hit her hard. I'm not saying I don't want you don't think that he said. I never know what you mean that you do hot and cold better than anyone I've ever met. Pain flashed in his eyes at her words, but she continued. I feel like there's something going on here but one minute your eyes like light up like a fire and the next they shut down completely. What do you want? He get his gaze tracked down to her lips and then further before lifting again. Come on next. Stop fighting this you won't hurt me. I know this isn't forever but it can be one hell of a for now. His hands came out cradling her face and pulling her to him. His lip slammed down heart hot and demanding fingers tipped her chin up deepening the kiss she opened willingly begging him for or more, but he pulled back resting his forehead against her. His hot breath danced around her face. I want to be very clear, I want to turn you around, press against you move inside you pull your hair until you feel so good. You can't think of anything besides my dick making you scream. Okay, so bad ideas are often great ideas. And I love reading the moments where they stop because there's so like, or we got into here. I don't know, I don't know. I mean, those are pretty much my favorite to read too. Like, I love it when people are like, No, this is a bad idea. But okay. But I wanted to pause at this moment, because this, this is telling me like so much about each of the characters, which is kind of incredible, considering I have not read this book. So so I just love that. And I think that this is a really great example of how the steamy scenes really do reveal a lot about the characters that you're writing about. And in a lot of different ways, like those sort of intimate moments can be so revealing of character. And like, this is sort of like, you know, some people are like, well, we just you just write it for the dirty parts. And it's like, no, actually. You know, you can, the dirty parts are nice, but you can actually get somewhere with the characters when you're writing this stuff. Right.
And they're a little vulnerable in those moments, especially when you have tough guys, you know, you give him a chance to be a little different. I love I like seeing established point. Always.
Yeah, yeah. Okay, so I just want to read down a little bit further. She wet her lips, I want that we've grown he backed her up until her calves hit the hardship Chase. In a blink. She was flat on her back and he was above her one time deal. Get it out of our system, right. He said, see, okay, see love this again, like back to the oh my god, this is a bad idea. Right? Like, I you know, and it's really funny because I actually had one of I think it was for my female main character basically, like said a version of this after they had sex, right? It was like, Okay, well, that's over now. And so, you know, we're just gonna walk away. And it was like, and so much trouble. Some of the readers were like, oh, no, like, they were like, She's awful. And I'm like, No, she's honest. I actually, that's where I think like where I say, yeah, like, I don't exactly right to mark it was like, but that's how she would feel like she writes, you know, and again, it's that moment of like, we're like, we're just doing this because like, we're horny. And it's like, actually, no, that's not really why you're doing that. You know that. I know that but okay, you can believe it for a while. Right. You know, it's I absolutely love it when the characters do that. Yeah, me too. Like, Favorite thing. All right. So now they're getting into a they're getting into it. So we've got some action going on. Their mouths crashed together, releasing all the pent up lust that both had been running from. It was the hottest kiss of her life. Lips teeth, tongues clashed, his hand roamed along her side to her thigh squeezing hard before lifting her dress to her waist. This needs to go I need to see you Morgan. His hot breath flooded her face as he has done the words. zippers on the side, she said lifting her arms over her head to make access easier. Neck paws staring down at her before running his hands from her wrists down to her arms, teasing the sides of her breasts and stopping when he reached the zipper. His fingers move torturously slowly lowering the zipper, letting his rough Pinkie brush lightly against the expose again. So the way that you linger on his touch, and that's sort of like what you did at the very beginning, but only it was it was with his eyes, not with his actual fingers. I like there was such a, it's, I always need to remind myself when I go through these these scenes, like slow it down, right. And this is sort of a great way to slow it down. And I love that you're taking the time here. And And again, like as the reader I can see all of this happening and I'm guessing your writing sort of like this is cinematically happening for you if you because you are writing so specifically. Yeah. Like you're actually like, here it is. It's playing out in your head and your brain right now. Yeah,
that's, that's, that's why I need to be able to play it out in my head as I write it down. Otherwise, like I said, I feel like the scene falls flat if I don't do that.
Right. Right. And what was also worked really well and I have to say I've been seeing a lot more of this and some of the books that I've been reading. A lot of I've been seeing a lot more head hopping. And I don't know if it's because you know, third person point of view is fucking hard and how So I have two people who do it I love first person, I love reading first person, I prefer writing first person. And I think it's very easy to head hop when you're in that sort of third person, you know, because it's can be hard to stick to the point of view because you can kind of go off and, and I just actually love that, you know, she knows what his movements are, because she's there, he's touching her, you know, she sees this happening. And I thought this was a really great way to kind of give us give us glimpses into him how he's touching her tells us a lot about him without changing that point of view or or head hopping, you know, accidentally head hopping, so I was like, This is really great. Thank you. Yeah. Okay, gonna keep going. getting impatient again. His eyes met her as his thumb brushed lightly just below her breast. He flipped his hand over the back danced across across her stomach, making slow waves down her body. Each line the slowest torture she'd ever felt teasing that he might touch her where she needed him most but never reaching between her legs. Her heart pounded in her ears as needed flooded her core. Finally, you've rubbed the line of purple lace rusting along perhaps? You look good and purple moly. Nick groaned so fucking good. When his hand made no move to slip inside her stomach tightened and her hips thrust up, please. Next she bagged her breath caught as his finger dragged slowly along her lace panties. Not pressing nearly enough, please what he asked, but his butt dropped his mouth again. His tongue circled her nipple slowly causing a whimper to leave her throat. Please brush up your body. Because trust me, I am. Please make me come she bagged. He chuckled but kissed his way along her ribs to her hips, removing her panties and settling himself between her legs. His nose brushed along her leg and his hot breath danced against her. Her core clenched in anticipation. Her stomach jumped when he switched his lips gently skating along her other leg, placing wet kisses on her skin for legs quivered. When she couldn't take it anymore. He finally let his mouth softly run along her slit, but it wasn't enough, just as perfectly as everything else about Unix said. And each word caused a throb at her Center. She was close and the man had hardly touched her. Wow. Just wow. Like, wow, back at that touch pot part. Like, I was like you really zeroed in on every moment of his hands or his mouth or whatever moving along her body. And, and took your time with that. And sometimes when I'm writing, I'm like, Oh, my God, readers are gonna get so bored Hurry up. Like, I think that really takes a lot of like control and also confidence, I think, you know, to allow yourself to linger in this moment.
Yeah, I mean, I think it's, it can be hard trying to slow it down. Because you, you're like, Okay, we're getting to the finish line too. But if you slow it down, it kind of adds that tension that I think needs to be in the scene a little bit.
Like, on average, how long does it take you to write the steamy scenes because I do know, you say you have to be in the mood to do it.
Um, once I sit down to do it, I write pretty fast. So I could, I could bang out a scene in like a half hour, and then I have to go back. So then I usually put it away and don't even really look at it right away. And then I come back to it maybe a day or so later and read through it. And make sure like, that I lingered on, you know, cause and effect, you know, like, what his touch, how it affected her so that you get both sides of it. So you're kind of more drawn into it. Because if you just say like, Oh, his hand ran along her side, but how did it make her feel that you get both of those balance? And sometimes you have to go back through to make sure you're hitting on both of those things, right. So like the editing of it's a little more clinical, at when I'm going through it like okay, am I cause effect cause effect. It's not nearly as bad.
But that's actually a really great way to think because I think in a way like we do need to be methodical at certain points. Right. And I think that's a really great point is to use the sort of cause of that trick to go back when you're going back through because I know I don't I'm not necessarily I guess I'm not as cognizant of it. I do a version of that. But I'm not necessarily looking at it as cause effect. Even though I am but I'm just not like I'm not like okay, cause effect, but I think that this is actually a really great way to think about it because I think that will help me focus in a little bit more with what I'm doing, you know?
Yes, definitely. Because then then you're consciously thinking of that as your versus just like, okay, am I am I doing this right and like that's how I started thinking about it to really Like, focusing on that detail?
Yeah, cuz I know for me, it's like, as I'm going through the scene, I'm like, but how does it make her feel? But how does it make her feel? But but in a way, sometimes like that trips me up, right? Because I'm like, Oh, God, it's just you know, she just wants to have sex for granted. But But I think the idea of the cause effect thing, I think, you know, because then you're really narrowing it down. You're like, well, but how does she feel when he is touching her this way? And then you can say, Oh, well, that kind of feels good. And she's kind of thinking like, you know, this is, Oh, this guy is whatever, you know. And so, I don't know, there just seems something a little bit a little bit more focused to that than just this. But how does she feel? I mean, that's a general question.
Yeah. Because it's, it's also you can say, like, how does that specific touch, react? Like, how does she react to that too, so it makes it a little more just not like how does she feel?
Right then you've got Yeah, she feels she feels like she wants to have sex. That's how she feels. Okay.
Are you getting that? And again,
like that's gonna force us to slow down right? Because you're saying well, well, what you know, what is the reaction now to the touch and you know, be on how to how does it make her feel? What is the reaction? How is her body reacting, and that's going to force this that that will force the pacing to slow down, which I think is really great. Like, oh, this was helpful, so helpful, but we're not done yet. Because she came, he gave exquisite oral and she came, but we're not done yet. Because remember, heartshaped Chase. Okay, so he's now got her where he wants her, folded over that heartshaped Chase. Turning she watched in the mirror the Mirror, mirror. As he pulled the condom out of his wallet and dropped his pants. Their eyes met as he pulled the condom on his long hard length. Using his hand he guided himself. She felt the pressure but our eyes stayed locked with his in the mirror. Erotic and intimate watching in the mirror added something something extra to the pressure of his entrance. His hips rocked until he pressed into her completely. What a perfect pussy he mumbled before he started to move. She saw his hands sneak up before she felt his fist wrap her hair tight. The pressure of his tug arched her back slamming hit her hips tight into his she watched their bodies move together adding to every strong swift stroke. That's it baby. Yes, Nick said so hot. So wet. So fucking tight. I want to feel you come all over me. I love this because it's like such a dude voice like that. This is such a dude right like, again tells you so much about him. Each thrust of his hips press deep inside, lighting everything within her. It was like she'd come alive under his hands. Every pound was driving her higher, bringing her closer to the top. Mohit groaned Buck I need you to come. He yanked harder on her hair and snaked his hand around to rub tight circles against her. She was at his mercy pinned by her hair and posi the complete domination just on the edge of Pain Center higher until she burst in a surge of unstoppable pleasure. His orgasm followed her as almost instantly. He dropped her hair and his arms came around her waist, pulling her tight against him. His lips pressed into her shoulder, she almost felt cherished for one moment before he pulled away. That was good, he said immediately pulling up his pants and walking away from her. And ice chill remained in his way molten lava and Glacier freeze. The man did it better than anyone she'd ever met. And she was going to tell him just what an ass he was when he came back. She scooped up this shirt, untangling the white t shirt from the button, the black button down and tossed it on. Yep. When he came down those stairs, they were going to talk something very strong was happening between them. And she would not let him act like it was nothing. Oh, no, he didn't. You know, it was so in his character though. And like, you know, like I like wrote in here, note to self don't rush the Hga Right. Like, that's kind of like we don't need the happily ever after until we get to the end. And I think sometimes, you know, that sort of first blush of sex. I don't know. Like, sometimes it feels like, oh, everything's gonna be great now. And then it's like, no. So I kind of love it when you have this like amazing explosive sex and then it just goes wrong.
Right? And he's just like, typical. Hot and cold and I because it's been building up to that it doesn't seem out of character either.
Right? Right. Exactly. Okay, so I've kept you over time. You've got a whole family and he was such a trooper for an hour. He was awesome.
He's running out of time when everybody's like, no, okay, we're done.
It was like, you must have an egg timer because he was like you said now or I gave him. You know, like great, kiddo, thank you for letting us borrow your mom. Jenny, where do you hang out online so people can find you.
Um, I have Jenny's where I'll do Facebook at Jenny borrow books is Instagram. I'm also on Tik Tok at Jenny bar books. So you can find me any of those places and my websites Jenny bar.com
Perfect. And these will also be in the show notes for you know, anybody who is not like, you know, able to write shit down. So, Jenny, thank you so much for being here.
Thank you for having me. This was so fun. Awesome.
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