Introducing Jessica L. Degarmo and the 'Johns Creek Second Chances' series
It's a beautiful photo, isn't it? But don't be fooled! For Jessica L. Degarmo – 'Jess' – is surely one of the most colourful characters you will ever meet; and an inspiration to both semi-colon lovers and exhausted working mothers the world over. [What about exhausted fathers? - Ed.]
The Meryl Streep of the literary world, Jess can
streepingly seemingly turn her hand to anything, writing effortlessly in any genre. I was honoured, therefore, when she accepted my invitation to pen a few lines on the subject of her choice. Her only condition was, "Yeah, OK, churchypants, but please don't write no stupid intro like what you done for poor Reggie". Those weren't her actual words, of course. Anyway, that's enough waffle, so let's get on with the show...
Sequels and Series, by Jessica L. Degarmo
There are a few authors I really love, and one of the reasons I love them is because they continue to write about characters I fell in love with. For example, Nora Roberts has a wonderful series she writes as J.D. Robb called the In Death Series. The series is about a New York City police detective named Eve Dallas, and the multiple crimes she solves with the help of her amazing team and sexy Irish husband. The characters are real, fascinating, and seemingly tireless in their search for justice. The topic itself is perfect for a running series as there's always crime, and Robb makes her characters so multi-dimensional, there's a never-ending stream of emotion and circumstance. Even before I started to write, I marvelled at her ability to keep the series running and keep things interesting.
When I started to write, my main goal was just to finish a book. It seemed like it was impossible, but lo and behold, I finally did it, and I discovered a love for writing that sparked the completion of several more novels. I was proud; I had accomplished a major goal and did it in a reasonably short timeframe. But I realized after completing my third or fourth book that I had better come up with something soon, or I'd be out of ideas before I ran out of readers.
My husband, always a very smart man, suggested a series. I was intrigued, but couldn't really figure out what to write about. The novels I'd already written seemed to be complete in and of themselves. There wasn't enough of their story left for me to continue with, and the one novel that everyone begged me to write a sequel to (Six Weeks) was too emotionally taxing and too special for me to ruin with a follow-up. So, here I sat, chewing on the end of my pen and wondering what to write.
A February 2011 snowstorm was sufficient inspiration for my fifth book, The Storm Within, and it was when I was mid-manuscript with that one that an aha! moment occurred. I found that I loved my little fictitious town, Johns Creek, NY. I loved making up the history, putting buildings where I wanted to, and creating a lovely little place with its own heartbeat and, amazingly, fodder for as many follow-ups as I could create. A town was born that day, as was a series. Johns Creek Second Chances is about the town and the people within it, all of whom deserve, and get, a second chance at love.
Writing a series is a smart move for an author. My goal is now to build a readership who loves the town as much as I do, and keep them reading. Readers like series. They like to get to know a town, a character, to feel at home, to be invested in what the characters do. It helps build real connectivity between the writer and the reader.
I will say, however, that it's not easy. I have a big spreadsheet on my desktop with ages, descriptions, addresses, occupations, etc., of all of the townspeople I've written so far. The worst possible mistake, in my opinion, would be inconsistencies. I also have a very messy fake family tree of the Jonns Family, the founders of Johns Creek. But it's fun! I enjoy mingling with my townspeople. There's a sort of voyeurism involved, as if I'm looking in windows and listening in on the party line. I've met a lot of great characters already, and there's no limit to who I write about and who they happen to rub elbows with.
Historically Yours is the second book in the Johns Creek Second Chances series, released just last month from Taylor Street Publishing. You'll find some familiar faces there, and meet some new characters who are looking forward to telling you their story. I hope you check it out, and I hope you love them as much as I do.
Jessica L. Degarmo
www.jessicadegarmo.com is my official website, and readers who may want to check out the books can go to amazon.com/author/jessicadegarmo.
The books can be read in any order, but a gentle caution to readers... there are some spoilers, something that's nearly impossible to do without when you write a town where a lot of people know each other.