Today I am so pleased to welcome Kelly Jensen to Joyfully Jay. Kelly has come to talk to us about her latest release, Chasing Forever (This Time Forever #3), which Sue reviewed here and loved. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
I’ve written three series to completion—the Chaos Station series (co-written with Jenn Burke), The Counting series, and This Time Forever. Chaos Station had such an intense story arc, with the final HEA for the two main characters held off until the final book. Counting was purely contemporary, with one character coming to terms with the fact he was gay, the other with the fact he was in love.
This Time Forever is a very different sort of project for me in that each of the three books featured a new couple. There was no real overarching plot, and the books themselves covered different tropes and issues. The formats of the stories even differed. And yet, they are related by more than the fact Simon and Brian were once a couple and Frank is Simon’s oldest, bestest friend.
When I sat down to write Building Forever (Simon and Charlie), I didn’t know I’d be writing the first of three books. I did have some core values in mind, however. I wanted to explore older characters falling in love—not for the first time or perhaps even the second. But for the last time. Final Forevers has something of a funereal ring to it, though, so when I did decide to try for a series, I chose the title This Time Forever. And then debated putting a comma between “time” and “forever” for about a month before deciding that I’d rather not fuss with punctuation in a series title.
I then devised a plan for the follow up books: older heroes, mature love stories. I moved Simon and Brian from Newark to Morristown so I could have smaller cities for each location. I put Frank in the Poconos and beamed with excitement over the prospect of writing a book set in my hometown. I tried to find a kid for each book to link them together more solidly, but the plot I’d devised for a teenager in Frank and Tom’s book was going to take too much away from Tom’s personal story, so I let it go. I did get kids in there, though, in the form of Frank and Tom themselves.
I put a masturbation scene in each book. It felt a little gratuitous by the time I got to Brian’s story, but it was also very Brian, and the scene did kick off a sharing of fantasies between Brian and Mal, and a running joke with Josh. So, not a bad fit.
I put a festival in each book because small towns are all about their local festivals and I felt that not only would it help highlight my setting, but it would be something fun for my characters to do. I really enjoyed researching and writing the festivals, and every location.
I had a theme food for each book. Cheez-Its for Charlie and Twizzlers for Frank—which I then ruined in one of the past scenes, but that was okay because Tom had Mello Yello. I was going to give Mal an obsession with Mallomars, but it never popped up. Josh had a thing for microwave popcorn, but I lost a bit of it in edits. Brian… Brian didn’t really have a theme food. He did like a good Manhattan cocktail, though, so I left it there.
I wanted an important building for each book and had already started writing Brian’s without one, thinking it would show up eventually, and it did—in the very first chapter. It wasn’t until I wrote Brian stopping by the Colonial Tavern one morning to settle his tab that I realized that that was the building they were going to try and save, however… just in time for me to put it on the cover art request sheet!
Seasons have a role, with fall, summer, and winter playing an important part in each story. (I’m saving spring for a follow up novella.)
Simon continues to grow a little in each book—evidently relaxing by the time we get to Frank’s story, and finally forgiving Brian in the last book. Frank also evolves, showing his true self in Renewing Forever, and being unquestionably happy in his one scene in Chasing Forever. Brian perhaps evidences the most growth, being quite unlikeable in Building Forever, something of a curiosity in Renewing Forever, and hopefully loveable in his own book, Chasing Forever. Not much of an overarching plot, but I’m pleased with the feeling of time passing and people moving on and up I managed to achieve.
And now it’s time to say goodbye.
Each of these books was harder to write than the last, with Brian’s being the most difficult. I really wasn’t sure if I could pull of his redemption, but by the time I’d written the final scene, I thought I had. Early readers and reviewers agree. (Yay!) Frank’s book was difficult to write because of the longing. The story is sad, but I also think it’s beautiful, and Frank and Tom are the best suited of any couple I’ve ever written. Simon and Charlie were the easiest to write, but the hardest to edit. I’d tripped over a lot of sensitive issues on my way to their HEA, but thankfully I had good readers and editors on hand to help me smooth the road.
It’s been an incredible journey—writing all three books back to back with To See the Sun in between. Editing them one after the other in a six month marathon. But I’m enormously proud of this series. I think they’re the best books I’ve written to date. These stories are strong and I stand behind each one of them. I love them for different reasons: for the characters, first and foremost, and the happy ever afters I gave them. For the issues I tackled, particularly in Brian’s book. And for the personal demons I confronted when deciding what to write about. There’s always a little me in all of my characters and books, but with this series, even more so. If you want to know how I think and feel, how I love, my own grief, my whimsy, my favorite snacks—look to these stories.
As always, I hope my readers get as much out of these stories as I have put in to them. So now it’s time to let go and send my characters out into the world, together, all of them, and hope they find happy homes.
Old wounds, new directions, and a forever worth chasing.
Malcolm Montgomery was a history teacher and track coach until an accident left him with two broken legs. He’ll recover, but life has knocked his feet out twice now. He’s not sure if he’s ready to try again, especially when it comes to love—and slick guys like Brian Kenway. Still, he needs help mentoring the school’s LGBTQ society, so he asks Brian to take some responsibility.
Brian has been hiding behind his reputation as a liar and a cheat for so long that he actually believes he’s that guy—until his nephew, Josh, turns up on his couch, tossed out for being gay. Brian has never considered being a father, but he knows all about being rejected by loved ones. Now Brian wants to be more: a partner for Mal and a role model for Josh.
But when Mal’s recovery is set back and the sad truth of Brian’s past is revealed, the forever they’ve been chasing seems even further from their grasps. It’ll take a rescue effort to revive their sense of worth and make Brian, Mal, and Josh into a family of their own.
If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories about the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas, and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, cowritten with Jenn Burke. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.
Connect with Kelly:
- Website: kellyjensenwrites.com
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/kellyjensenwrites/
- Twitter: twitter.com/kmkjensen
- Tumblr: kmkjensen.tumblr.com/
- Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/kmkjensen/
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/kellyjensenwrites/
To celebrate the release of Chasing Forever one lucky person will win a $25 Riptide Publishing gift card and a swag pack of stickers, art cards, and bookmarks! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 15, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
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