Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Workshop Wednesday - It's Okay to be Proud

I read this post today (always enjoy his thoughts), and it was a healthy reminder. Some people won't stop talking about themselves. Some people won't start - that's me. At dinner last weekend, my cousin said, "I had no idea how many books you've written. You never say anything about it." And the truth is, I don't. I don't bring it up, don't try to work it into a conversation; I downplay it when asked about it and try not to post any of my writer stuff on my personal FB page.

Why? I just don't like bothering people. You should see me on a date: borrr-ring. I live in this mindset in which I assume no one cares, and no one wants to hear, and I keep personal things personal, really personal. And in the case of writing, this is the wrong attitude. Unfortunately, in our braggadocios world of self-congratulation on social media, where poppy seeds pried from teeth and Diet Cokes purchased become major happenings, if you aren't talking about yourself, people assume you aren't proud. And that's not true - I'm very proud of my work. I've got carpal tunnel from typing and I lose sleep fretting over plot points. So a gentle reminder, my fellow introverts, that it's okay to be proud of our work, and to bring it up now and then, and answer honestly when people ask what we do. It's our job to promote, not to worry about who might not want to hear it. Our work is no less valuable than that of the more vocal, just because we talk about it less.

Did anyone else need that? Good. I know I sure did.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

dog for a Dog

I wrote this line today:

“Ava,” Ghost said, voice taking on a new tension, a foreign strain she’d never heard before. Slow, biting off each word: “Call him off.”

One of those scenes I'd been building to, and needed a little mental break afterward. And during that mental break, I had myself a fun little trip down Memory Lane. One of the things I've always sort of laughed at is the whole biker nickname thing. I like a good nickname. I appreciate them wholeheartedly. Sometimes, I shake my head a little over typing Ghost, Tango, Jaeger, Sly...but mostly, I love it. And usually, those nicknames are near and dear to my heart.

"Sly" belonged to one of my very favorite horses before it belonged to Layla's hubby. A seventeen-hand chestnut Quarter Horse gelding built like a tank, as versatile as an ATV on trails, an old pro jumper, a dressage horse in a pinch, trained western. You could literally shoot a gun off his back (it happened). And he would tote around my students, tiny little girls up to full-grown men, steady, smart, level-headed, always in charge in the pasture, a true leader. When he kicked, you better believe it was with both back feet. He was never mine, but I loved that horse; broke my heart to hear of his passing.

Then there's Tango the horse - a dressage boy, a "dancer," like the Dogs' dear Tango.

Jaeger the dog, a little brindle boxer I used to know.

And Ghost the dog, the shepherd cross, old and arthritic when I met him, unfailingly loyal, a stray before he became a farm dog. He followed dutifully out into the pasture; you could pick the horse you needed, point, and say, "Go get him, Ghost," and off he'd go to get him. Such a great dog, with that tawny coat and graying black muzzle, all sweetness and wisdom. A boss dog. He had to be my LDMC president.

I went looking for pictures recently, but couldn't find any. They're all lost amid the jumble of old Eckerd's developments in shoeboxes somewhere in storage. I like to think they won't mind that I used their names; that some of the mystique rubbed off on the paper, and gave the characters a certain depth.

You're probably laughing at me by this point - you named that guy after a horse?? - but for me, there is so very little inspiration in the shallow, immediate scattering of current reality. They may never look like it from the outside, but my stories have the bones of animals, of historical figures, of classic golden literary moments. You build yourself a sturdy skeleton, and the skin you lay over it - it'll shine.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Time for Reading

Something I don't have much of the last few weeks, and the loss of which I regret. Reading is my downtime; reading keeps my brain sharp for writing. Lately, it's all about Viktor - walks and training and playtime - and all about writing. Last week, though, I forced in some pockets of time to read this book. I'd already decided to wait and buy it a little later, once I had more time, but my mom bought it for me as a little surprise treat, and I just couldn't not read it. Tana French's books call softly to me from the bookshelf: come on, you know you want to, just a few pages.

With each new novel of hers, I come away trying to pin down why I love them so much. There are so many reasons. I like well-written books. I like lots of prose. No "see Dick run" plot-burners for me these days. This time, with The Secret Place, I was delighted to see Frank Mackey again; I think he's probably French's favorite character; he's mine for sure. But the thing is, no matter who she's writing, the perspective is always riveting. That's the big reason I love her books: all of her characters are fascinating, and no two are alike. She gets you in their skin and agreeing with them, no matter their viewpoints. That's a gift.

I have a book I need to start for book club next...but when I get those slivers of reading time, I'm going to be jumping into Outlander.

Also this weekend: tree limb dragging. My dad and uncle cut down a massive pear last weekend, and dragging the limbs out of the yard has been a week-long endeavor. Done.

Also, I'm allergic to fennel seeds, I found out after I ate Italian sausage on my pizza and my face swelled up. Oops.

Also, major Fearless progress. Soon. Soon, soon, soon.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Lines 9/28 - Fearless Part II

Fave lines of the week's writing. Up to 200 pages! Woo-hoo! Thanks for being patient, everyone. This section of the novel will be worth the extra wait.

Part II: "Crossing Lines"
Copyright © 2014 by Lauren Gilley


          Maggie had made white chocolate, dark chocolate, and marble cheesecakes for the dinner, and everyone waited to be served…everyone but Mercy. Where had he been? Maggie wondered. She hadn’t seen him for at least a half hour. Ava neither, now that she thought about it. It was a big house, a big party; easy to get lost.

            But Mercy and Ava stood together over the marble cheesecake at the kitchen counter, Mercy’s tall frame almost curled around her as he looked over her shoulder, smiled at whatever she’d said. His hand, for just a second, was at her hip, too low for casual.

            He pulled it away and turned as Maggie stopped in the threshold, his eyes coming straight to her face, the mask not fast enough in coming down. Naked fear strobed in their black depths before he could catch hold of it.

            Don’t say anything. Don’t take her from me. Don’t you dare. I will fight all of them. Oh, God, it’s all going to blow up, isn’t it?

            Then his face blanked over and he looked away from her, hand going in his pocket, attention going back to whatever Ava was saying to him over her shoulder.

            Maggie saw the little things: the clothes not quite straight, the high color in their faces, the windswept look to Ava’s hair.

            The air shimmered around them, neon with possibility, the chemistry of them this hot, sticky amalgam of complementary metals.

            Mercy had crossed the line.

            Ava had either followed him, or invited him to come across it to her.

            Maggie felt the lump well up in her throat, the sting of tears at the backs of her eyes.

            It was so perfect, and it was so disastrous.

            And they’d be sliced to bits before it was all over.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Carpathians

If you're reading Fearless (Part I of book one of my new Dartmoor Series can be found here) then you've heard mention of the as-of-yet-unseen Carpathians, the rival club and vicious enemy of the Lean Dogs. I talked about the Lean Dog legend in this post from a few weeks ago, so I thought I'd talk a little bit about the baddies today.

The Carpathians are a chain of mountains located in eastern Europe that passes through Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, and Romania. They are wild, Old World mountains, full of bears, lynxes...and wolves. Legends, superstitions, old tales.

In Fearless, the Carpathians' logo is a snarling wolf, a werewolf, more properly. And everyone knows what wolves do to dogs. And what dogs do to wolves.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Workshop Wednesday - Writing the Seasons

This is probably going to sound mundane and stupid, but I put a lot of thought into the seasons of my novels. What time of year is it in the novel at its beginning? Its end? You're thinking: why does it matter? And I guess in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't. But the seasons have a pull over us; they stir emotions and mark the time and play recklessly with our memories. They're a part of the setting, same as a house, a precinct...a garage.

I break it down like this:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

First Day of Fall

Wild morning glories scaling the honeysuckle on the property fence. Aren't they beautiful? The colors make me think of hummingbirds, and sparkly evening clutch purses, and royalty. They only bloom about two hours, and then they close, the trumpets spiraling in on themselves. They're all through the woods, alongside the heavy sprays of pink wild roses.

Today is the first day of fall. Breath of something earnest and Canadian in the breeze this morning, promise of frost on the leaves as they begin their slow beautiful deaths. I'm washing horse blankets; perfect day for that. While I slosh and haul, I'm thinking about the bookshelves in Mercy's apartment, and envisioning the cracked spines of the paperbacks he keeps there, spotting Tom Clancy and Salinger and an old copy of Grimm's Fairy Tales he keeps for sentimental reasons. I'm thinking about Maggie and the way she sees herself in her daughter - and is secretly glad for it. I'm thinking about Ava and what it's like to make friends when you grow up an untrusting child. And I'm also thinking about the Russells, about their world, and green waters and an undertow and thank God Navy SEALs can swim like they do.

Welcome, fall. You feed me good thoughts.