Thursday, May 21, 2015

Controlled Chaos

As of this moment, I have errant segments of story in handwritten notebooks and on my old iTunes-relegated computer. It is literally all over the place. Figuratively, though? Half My Blood has come together in ways that are artistically and analytically unexpected. Very much not all over the place at this point. What started as a fluff piece, a quick read I'd planned in order to explore Remy's coming into the world, took turns I didn't expect, and grew into something that is a slow-burning lead-in to so much of the epic narrative moving forward. This has become the most challenging project, which is part of what's made it so enjoyable. It's upped the ante for The Skeleton King. And I hope it will be as much fun to read as it has been to write.

It is my hope to be able to share a special sneak peek of The Skeleton King at the end of Half My Blood. The novella releases June 16th.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Workshop Wednesday - Give It Time

This is going to be a short post because my neck is screaming at me, and I can't stay long at the computer. But this week we're continuing the talk about expressing emotion in writing. Today's topic: realistic emotional growth.

If we're honest with ourselves, we don't always interpret our emotions correctly at first. While we can see straight to the heart of someone else's problems, we often struggle to define our own. We have our epiphany moments, yes, but those take time to reach. And often, we cannot neatly package our realizations, only express them in ways that make sense to us.

When it comes to our fictional characters, they should reflect this same human struggle. Conflict drives plot, and creates story. If a character is so self-aware that each emotional hiccup is dealt with immediately and with total control, you have no conflict, and therefore no story. To give your novel that "real" feeling, it's important to leave realization hanging out to dry for a while. Leave scenes at tense moments. Have characters walk away without any sort of interpretation. Like a well-written TV show, give the audience the frustrated conversation, and leave the soul-searching for another scene. If every scene wraps up tidily, that doesn't smack of reality...or compelling drama. Let wounds fester, let moods foul, and your work will more accurately reflect life.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Music Monday - 5/18

I had to post it. You know I did. It's Music Monday, and...yeah, I had to. Pop music is my secret retreat. When I've been in a super-analytical headspace (like lately), and I near the end of an emotionally-taxing project (like now), and things are crazy (like when a family member is in poor health and it's all-hands-on-deck, like now), I enjoy the crap out of my pop music. If you didn't see this video last night on the awards, it's a lot of fun. The cameos! - Hayley Williams!, Mariska Hargitay!, Ellen Pompeo!, Jessica Alba! Love.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Pre-Order Day

Good morning! Today kicks off pre-orders for the Dartmoor novella Half My Blood, and I'm really excited about this one. The release date is June 16th. You can pre-order it right here.


It’s summer in Knoxville, and if the outlaw crew at Dartmoor Inc. thought they were getting a respite from the drama…they were kidding themselves.

Almost a year ago, Mercy’s dying mother claimed he had a half-brother, sired by the beloved father he’d always thought infallible, raised by another man as his own. He’s been in denial ever since, but when Colin O’Donnell arrives, it’s time to face facts. Turns out his family isn’t lost – he only wishes this member of it was.

Holly McCall is determined to prove her worth to the other old ladies – Maggie, specifically. She never dreamed of a life like this, and as she searches for self-worth and acceptance, she is wrapped step-by-step in the gentlest love of the fiercest man.

For Aidan and Tango, this summer is a season for realizations. For waking to a vision of the future. And for drowning in the past.

In this Dartmoor Series novella, readers will spend time with the entire club, meet new voices, and fall deeper into the world of the Lean Dogs MC. Not a stand-alone romance, Half My Blood balances several central storylines with delicacy and passion. Brimming with emotion, spotlighting secondary characters, Dartmoor fans won’t want to miss this bridge between novels two and three in the series. Book three, The Skeleton King, releases September 2015. 

Amazon Giveaway:

Today also kicks off an Amazon giveaway of Fearless. I'm giving away two paperback copies in a quick flash giveaway.

Enter here.

And if you go to my Facebook page, you can share the giveaway post for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card. Please come help me share this series with new readers!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Book Club Reads

Out on the sidewalk in front of the shop where we meet.
Last night was the monthly book club meeting, and we read Undressing the Moon by T. Greenwood.

I really enjoyed the book, though "enjoy" implies a certain happiness, and this is far from a light, bubbly book. Dark, depressing at times, the novel tells parallel past and present stories of central character Piper Kincaid, a thirty-year-old seamstress struggling with cancer and recalling the way her past - specifically her mother's departure from her life - have shaped the way she handles tragedy. It is a deeply reflective book, written in a lyrical, poetic prose that snagged me from page one. This is not chick lit; it's a raw look at some difficult subject matter, written with an artistic, mature voice. I highly recommend it, though be warned you'll need a dose of laughter afterward to shake off the darkness. This was my first time reading Greenwood, and will look into her other books.

We've read some really good, meaty, discussion-worthy books so far this year, and this one was no exception.

Next up we're reading:

Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (Can't wait to see the movie!)

Teaser 5/15 - #HalfMyBlood

Half My Blood
© 2015 by Lauren Gilley          
“He was wrong about one thing, though,” she added, quietly, and Colin’s head snatched around, dark eyes drilling against her face. “Mercy would never have made that decision. He would never have gone along with that plan. He would have killed them all.”

            A humorless snort flared Colin’s sharp, L√©cuyer nostrils. “He could have tried.”

            “No. He would have. That’s the thing you don’t know about your brother.” A little shiver stole across her skin. Not fear, not revulsion, but something very much like excitement. “He’s capable of anything. The deepest love, and the darkest violence. He doesn’t try things. He does them.”

            He gave her a long, level stare. “You’re a spooky chick, you know that?”

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Workshop Wednesday - Fever Rings

I've been thinking a lot lately about the way reading is therapy. As writers, we talk about the catharsis of the written word; channeling our traumas to the page, dressing them in someone else's clothes, and in doing so, sifting through the wreckage so we can find the bright specks of lessons. And we're hoping in doing so, we can help someone else, a reader, find those bright specks too. That human need to be understood, and to understand. And so the therapy, I think, isn't tied to the act of writing or reading - but to the words themselves. The idea that injustices were committed to permanence, and can therefore be acknowledged.

I bring this up today because yesterday, the farrier came, and the horses had their hooves trimmed. (I started to type "feet." We horse people don't use proper terms most of the time) My gelding, Markus, has one of the most dramatic fever rings I've ever seen on his left hind. He had a terrible flare-up of lymphangitis last summer, and the hoof was never quite the same afterward. When horses experience any sort of change in nutrition or health, whether traumatic or not, a fever ring will appear at the top of the hoof, just beneath the coronary band, and will grow out as the hoof grows and is trimmed. The more traumatic the health change, the more significant the fever ring.

This is a bad one. Horses never lie; their bodies tell their stories, their traumas visible, and not just emotional. I've known horses with brutal scars, with lumpy once-broken noses, limps, phobias. They are slow to trust, because there's no social pressure on them to squelch their fears, and pretend to be normal. There is no fear of expression - only of those who could hurt them, as they've been hurt before.

But as humans, we must act as if everything's alright, and we seek our solace in words that we can read to ourselves privately. Our fever rings are in our minds, and only the idea that someone else out there somewhere knows of their existence helps to ease them, helps them to grow out, so they can eventually be trimmed away. That's why the words themselves are so important to me while writing. Until it comes time for my own catharsis, I want to fuel others'.

The next few weeks, my Workshop Wednesday posts are going to focus on emotional expression in writing. I recently read a NY Times bestseller lauded for its style of prose, and was appalled by the clumsiness of emotional expression within the text. It's an important topic for me, so that's what we'll talk about next week.