amazon.com/authors/laurengilley

You can check out my books on Amazon.com, and at Barnes & Noble too.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Cover Art

I wanted to do something different for my Better Than You cover and exercise my rusty art skills. In keeping with the shoe theme, Delta's had to be, of course, nothing less than fabulous.

I sketched out her stilettos on heavyweight sketch paper.



Then used oil pastels for color. As much as I crave realism in fiction, realism in art is something I just can't capture. So I went for an intentionally fuzzy look with this project. Bold and artsy rather than delicate.

 

Then I (after lots of trial and error because I'm not a bit tech savvy) added in the text, and there we have it: my new cover art.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Better Than You: part 23


23.

 

“Oh my GOD!!” Sydney’s excited screech belonged on the other side of a shower curtain in a Hitchcock film. “It’s gorgeous, Delta!”

 

She should have known that there would be no literature discussed today at book club. Marisa de los Santos’s second novel paled in comparison to the rock that sparkled on Delta’s finger, and all the girls, her mother included, had formed a jostling semi-circle around her chair, eyes wide and mouths open.
 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Better Than You: part 22


22.

 

It took at least ten seconds for Mike to roll New York around in his head and realize what that meant. He pushed himself up so he was sitting upright across from her, frowning. “New York? Did you take the job?”

 

She drew her knees up to her chin and folded her arms around them, diamond finding moonbeams to play with. Even in the dark, he could see the guarded, aloof nature he’d thought she was shaking off come across her face, shutting him out. “Not yet,” she said, and he felt like he’d been punched.

 

“Not yet? But you’re going to? Are you -,” the bitter, acid taste of anger came up the back of his throat and he closed his mouth before he could say something he shouldn’t.
 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

In the Aftermath


As a little girl, I never wanted Christmas to end. It was pure magic, nothing but candy and family and wrapping paper and sheer delight. But then I got older, and then I began to understand why my mom loved the oppressive quiet that was the aftermath of the holiday. Once the last function has been attended and the last of the dishes cleared away, you can take a deep breath. And that might just be the best part of Christmas.

I had such good intentions of taking pictures during dinner Monday night, but ended up washing dishes instead. But I got some shots of pre-party setup.

 
Table One.
 
 
 
Table Two (there's a bunch of us)
 
 
 
Table Three was done up with the Dickens' Christmas village. I'm sure Martha Stewart wouldn't have approved, but it was fun to find something new to do with the Village.
 
 
 
Then there's the all important booze table...
 
 
 
 
I had a lovely holiday and I hope everyone else did too. Now it's back to work. I've got two books to finish. Yikes! I'm hoping for a February release of Fix You, but don't quote me on that. Better Than You is rolling right along, though, and I should have it completed soon. 
 
 
 
 
 






Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Better Than You: part 21


21.

 

“When you find a girl who’ll have you, marry her,” had been the sum total of the advice Randy Walker had given his boys when it came to women. He’d never said anything about wealthy girls with intimacy issues. No, in that area, Mike was on his own. He’d never been the brain child of his family, but he thought he did okay. He could get his wealthy girl to smile, to laugh, to sigh and roll her eyes, and to lean against his shoulder too. To hold his hand and fall asleep on the drive home, to call him sweet and bake him cookies and say his name in all the ways it counted.

 

He knew he loved her in February: steam leaving the mug of coffee in her hands in thick curls, her hair a snarled mess around her shoulders, the morning on the other side of the window bitter and windswept, her face lovely, pale, and lonely in a way he didn’t understand. She sat in the chair in his bedroom, in his shirt and a pair of socks that went up to her knees, gooseflesh on her slender legs. A copy of Oliver Twist had been open across the arm of the chair. “I think it might snow today,” she’d said, and he’d been completely in love with her.
 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Better Than You: part 20

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Christmas!


 
 
20.

 

 Delta spent New Year’s eve in Mike’s office, the whole eighteen story building dark around them, the blinds pulled all the way up on their cords, fireworks bursting red and green and white and gold over the midnight skyline, the champagne in their Solo cups warm and fizzing. Two days later, she went to see her father.

 

“He’s balancing his checkbook,” Mrs. Miller informed her at the door, which meant he wouldn’t be in a good mood. Delta squared her shoulders and went to his study anyway.

 

His silver head was bent over his desk, the gold college ring on his right hand glimmering in the sunlight as he punched numbers into his calculator. He still went through every withdrawal and deposit one by one with calculator and, sometimes, pen and paper, a system she couldn’t very well fault given how successful he’d been. She knew he heard the soft brush of her heels against the rug, because he heard everything, but he didn’t acknowledge her at first.
 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Better Than You: part 19


19.

 

The big blue boat of a car that Tam drove – some all-steel Detroit monster – was in the drive when Mike pulled in at the townhouse. Delta sighed before she could stop herself and Mike shot her a glance through the shadowed interior of the car as he put it in park.

 

“What?”

 

Still rattled from dinner, she didn’t have the grace to keep quiet. “He’s here all the time. It’s Christmas, Mike. Doesn’t he have a family to spend it with?”

 

Mike sighed too, and in the silence that descended after he killed the engine, Delta felt the first traces of friction between them. All through dinner, he’d been completely supportive, but Tam, she realized, was going to be the tipping point. “You have a family,” he countered, “and you’re here.”
 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Better Than You: part 18


18.

 

“You’re skinny. How much weight have you lost this week?” Mike’s big hand molded against her ribcage and slid around to the front of her charcoal dress, pressed up beneath her breasts as his reflection towered over her in her closet door mirror. He dropped his head and sniffed her hair like a dog. “You smell good though.”

 

“Don’t say ‘skinny’ like it’s a bad thing,” Delta chastised as she fastened her teardrop earrings into place.

 

“You were skinny to start with, though.” He pulled her back against him with just the one hand, a sort of almost-hug. He was hands-on anyway, but it felt like he’d been holding her up, waiting and ready to catch her while she was sick. It would have bothered her if she’d thought it was a macho, possessive behavior. But she was starting to learn that it wasn’t about that; it was about affection and attachment and him wanting excuses to touch her.
 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Inescapable Style



I don't shop very often, especially not right now what with being a starving artist. But when I do shop, it's never adventurously. It doesn't matter the store or the season, I always gravitate toward the same wardrobe pieces. I like solid color t-shirts and jeans of every wash. Boots - cowboy boots and biker boots and riding boots and...if it comes above the ankle and has a heel on it, I'm all over it. I love a good leather jacket. Obnoxious sneakers. Hoodies and colorful socks. Bright gloves. Silver jewelry, pendants and dangling earrings. I'm not fashionable or on-trend, but I have my own style and it always proves inescapable.

The same is true of writing. I like the little things - the details that build intimacy. The quiet moments of burgeoning feelings when the characters do their soul searching. Imperfect aesthetics - old things, dirty things, broken things, uncool and improper things, but real things. Life is punctuated by moments of seeming perfection, but it is never perfect. I'm fascinated by hair and chipped nail polish, holes in jeans and, yep, well-loved leather jackets. My Walker Family series is a soundtrack of punk rock music that came to life on the page until all the jarring cynicism and hope, the electricity and the oddly soft moments of the songs I found inspiration in became the mindsets of my characters. Throw in a little sex and profanity and there you have it.

When I started writing Fix You, I knew that I was breaking up a marriage, and I knew Jessica wasn't going to take that lying down. The new man I tried to wedge into her life was the kind of guy I thought I should write. But he just wouldn't fit. So he was scrapped, and finally, the man I wanted to write came along. I didn't expect him, I hadn't intended him for Jess, but just like every pair of boots I ever wanted, he was a part of my inescapable style, and I realized that I needed him.

Because when it comes to characters, I like loyalty and humor, honesty and conviction, a history and spirit all their own. They are vet techs and track coaches, skateboarders and accountants, mothers and daughters and sons and brothers. They are tired and jaded and hopeful and thankful. Improper and uncool and punctuated by moments of seeming perfection. For me, they are inescapable.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Sale

For this week only (12/17 - 12/21) all three of my ebooks are only $2.99. Stores everywhere are running Christmas sales and I wanted to also. So for this week, you can download my books for less than half the regular price. If you've got some downtime coming up and you're looking for a new book, I'd love if you'd try one of mine.

Links:

Shelter is HERE.


Keep You is HERE.



Dream of You is HERE




Better Than You: part 17

**Spoiler warning: this chapter and the ones that come after it will contain spoilers for Keep You. The story won't be ruined becase it's not so much what happens as how you get there, but some plot points will be revealed. This is Keep You the remix.

17.

 

Delta Brooks was not the sort of girlfriend a guy went to work and forgot about, or who he put off for another night or two while he went trolling for alternatives. She was monopolizing. She was a full-time job. And Mike loved it.
 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday Housekeeping Items



Happy Sunday, everyone! It's rainy here so I'll be locked into a writing marathon most of the day, but wanted to point out some new features on the blog.

Over on the sidebar, I now have links to my Twitter account, my new Facebook fanpage, and my author page on Goodreads. Social media is a necessary evil of an author's life these days, so I encourage everyone to visit, follow, like, review, drop me a line...any love would be much appreciated and I don't bite! :) I love hearing from readers.

I hope everybody's enjoying Better Than You. Like I mentioned before, the more "adult" content has been cut because this is an open blog and that would make me feel weird. So the ebook and paperback versions will have some bonus material of the dirty variety.

Lastly, my heart goes out to the people of Newtown, Connecticut in the wake of Friday's tragic shooting.

Better Than You: part 16


 

16.

 

Mike decided that in the movie of Delta’s life, her father would be played by Michael Douglas circa Wall Street. He was all swept back silver hair, college rings, salon tan and the kind of tailored suit that wasn’t found in a store, let alone bragged about. No, Dennis Brooks didn’t need to brag – his wealth was so self-evident and he was too sophisticated for shit-talking. With one flat, disinterested glance, he told Mike that their fast handshake was a courtesy only, that he wasn’t happy to meet his daughter’s new guy. And worst of all, it promised questions. Lots of painful, awkward, demeaning questions designed to make Mike look even more like a worthless piece of shit.

 

“Walker you said?” Dennis asked as he poured two fingers of Glenlivet into heavy crystal tumblers for each of them. They were in the room Delta had called “the study”, the walls lined with bookshelves and wood paneling. “Let’s have a man-to-man chat,” Dennis had said. Across from the massive, claw-foot desk, they stood in front of a wet bar built beneath a window that overlooked the back garden. “I know a Camille Walker. Beautiful violinist. Where’s your family originally from?”
 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Better Than You: part 15


 

15.

 

The house. Holy shit, the house. Sitting at the curb out in front of it, Mike had to move his head and take turns looking at the two great white wings of it that were nestled between ivy-covered trees. The windows, all its windows, caught the sun and shattered it. Three great brick stoops, ivy climbing up the portico columns, faced the walk, each grander than the one before, the one in the middle clearly the main entrance.

 

“Breathe,” Delta said in the passenger seat.

 

Had he stopped? He didn’t know. All he knew was that Buckhead was full of people like him who had stumbled into good jobs and wanted to start living the good life…and then there was Delta’s family. She’d been born in Buckhead. In this Holy Shit house. He might as well have been wearing overalls and had a stalk of hay between his teeth for how much he didn’t belong here.
 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

What an Animal




I like to say that my character Tam is an abused shelter dog. Beaten and starved, deprived of love, when he found his way into a new family, he latched on tight, and loved them - especially one of them - more fiercely than a man with a normal childhood would have. His priorities are all centered around his family, his mate, and when either of them are threatened, he overreacts, as vicious as, well, a shelter dog protecting its new owner and savior.

He isn't the first human I've likened to an animal and won't be the last. But for me, "animal" doesn't mean sexy. Animals are honest. Animals don't have ulterior motives or hidden agendas. In their aggression, their affection, and their loyalty, they are only honest. Humans lie to each other and themselves, and they are rarely satisfied with the images they project, always wanting to change or change others. Humans do have animal sides, though - honest, sometimes deeply-buried, totally pure and unbiased impulses, urges and predispositions. If this is true, then it stands to reason that we could use animals to analyze some of the more curious elements of human behavior.

I've spent most of my life riding, training, and caring for horses. In a herd of horses, in the wild and in captivity, all interactions are based on respect. Each herd has a pecking order, and this determines everything from who gets to come in from the pasture first at night to who gets to stand under the shelter when it's raining. They have friendships and deep affections for one another, but bottom line, horses don't operate under the notion that all living creatures are valuable and unique. They don't know jack about being PC. So when a human enters their ranks, not only is that human seen as something foreign and beneath notice, something that doesn't fall into their ranks, but is not respected, regarded or liked. A wild horse that isn't used to humans might be frightened, but a domesticated horse, subject to plenty of human contact, makes every single new human that comes into his life prove him/herself.

New horse owners don't like to hear this. "But I brought him a carrot! Why doesn't he love me?!"

Because you're just this great big carrot machine. You haven't demonstrated that you belong in that horse's herd and that you belong at the head of the herd.

For horses, affection comes well after respect. Your goal with a new horse should be to establish your authority, not to make him love you, because you can't make anyone or anything love you. Horses need boundaries. If you patiently, kindly but firmly, always calmly, establish boundaries and respectful interaction with the horse (i.e., don't let yourself be bitten, kicked, or trampled, and always reprimand when you need to) the affection will come.

Love can grow from respect, but never from contempt. And that's not just true for horses.

A total lack of respect eventually leads to pity, to contempt, sometimes to loathing. It's possible to respect someone and dislike them, but never to love them and find them contemptible at the same time. It's human nature, it's animal nature, it's a straight up fact - no one will love you if you let them treat you like shit. This is where animal nature is sometimes incorrectly translated in fiction. A story can only pull off The Beauty and the Beast, if Beast truly acts like an animal (because there's a difference between animal and monster, and his name is "Beast", not monster) and if the Belle character is a human who understands that respect is necessary if she hopes to survive.


I love the Disney version. I think you always love the movies you grew up with. And the thing that always struck me about Belle - the reason I love her character - is that despite her dreamy nature and naive outlook on the world around her, she expects to be treated well. She believes in courtesy. And she's not taking shit from anybody. The reason she captures Beast's attention, and eventually his heart, is because unlike all the clocks and candelabras in his life, she doesn't let herself get yelled at. She sets him back on his heels - and does it politely at that - and tells him to get some manners. Here's this small, beautiful, physically delicate girl standing up to beastly him, and he has to have some grudging respect for that. This respect evolves into an affection, and then a loyalty, and then a love.

Belle was not the carrot machine who got trampled. Nor was she insecure and trying to dominate the "animal" in her life. She communicated in the only successful way that anyone communicates with an animal. And their relationship is solid because of it.

I write about human relationships, not horses or magically cursed beast men, but the rules of respect translate. Likening humans to animals in fiction is a wonderful metaphor...but it's important to understand how animals truly interact.

Better Than You: part 14

I feel weird about putting overly adult content in these posts since it's not a restricted site. When I convert the story into ebook and paperback format, the scenes I leave out here will be included there ;)


14

 

“What do they taste like?”

 

Tam swallowed – it took a second, and he made a face like he might have to regurgitate what he was trying to push down – but the muscles in his throat rolled and he took another bite of the blackened brownie he’d pried out of the pan with a boning knife. “Shit,” he said with his mouth full, “burned shit.”

 

Mike chuckled, but inwardly cringed. No one would have been willing to eat the smoking dish of hockey puck-hard dessert Delta had pulled out of the oven…no one but Tam. Mike gave his friend a closer once-over than he had in a while, taking in the way his skin was starting to stretch tight across his face, his eyes ringed with dark, tired half-circles. The t-shirt he’d borrowed hung off shoulders that were going bony and sharp. Mike didn’t know if he couldn’t afford to eat, couldn’t remember to, or didn’t care enough to. None were comforting thoughts.
 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Better Than You: part 13


 

13.

 

Delta watched as he hung up his jacket and pulled the knot out of his tie, untucked his shirt and toed off his shoes – they were tossed at the foot of the stairs. He knew she was here – her car was out front – but the slow, deliberate way he came down the hall and went into the kitchen without making eye contact told her he wasn’t ready to shrug off his hurt feelings.

 

She heard the fridge open and close; a beer bottle opened with the smallest of sounds. And then she heard the hinges of the oven door.

 

“What the hell’s in here?” he asked, and she guessed it was better than no greeting at all.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Better Than You: part 12

I'm really beginning to regret the Roman numeral thing.


12.

 

Tam gave Mike two days to cool off, and by that time, the gothic horror that was his mother’s fleshless, blue-veined hands clacking knitting needles together like she was eighty-years-old had become too oppressive to tolerate. Her hair was coming back in uneven black tufts; she scratched at it occasionally through the paisley silk scarf that was wound tight around her head. She was between treatments, she was home, and the sound of her humming and the way she kept offering to make him food was a razorblade across his patience. Her presence made him itch, and that left him so guilty he couldn’t stand to look at himself in the mirror. So after Melinda’s fifth insistence that she was and would be fine, he left the apartment and it felt like his car took him to Buckhead and Mike’s townhouse without any input from him.

 

Mike wasn’t home from work yet, but the drive wasn’t empty; there was a red Volvo sitting in front of the one-car garage, its driver leaning back against the trunk with arms folded and long legs crossed at the ankles. She was in a long wool coat that came just to the hem of her skirt, her dark hair streaming away from her head in the wind. Delta was, he had to admit, tailor-made for the pages of a Victoria’s Secret catalogue, but it wasn’t admiration that rolled his stomach over when he parked along the curb and climbed out. Mike was right: he didn’t know shit about women…at least not this kind. All their coy pretend smiles and cutting glances, the deliberate posturing and pouting – he’d never had an ounce of patience or respect for that bullshit.
 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Better Than You: part 11


11.

 

How was this happening? “Mike, wait!” Delta called as he walked away from her. In the middle of a crowded department store decked with tinsel, a nametag pinned to her cream cardigan, she was back in high school. Only, she’d never cheated on anyone in high school…though that might have been less controversial than what had actually happened.
 

Putting Some Poetry in Prose

My brother is a smart cookie. Sure, he needs directions to get to the mailbox, but when it comes to the book smarts, he's a genius. He's my fellow classic lit buff in the family. He said something the other day that really struck a chord:

"Poetry," he said, "is all about mystery."

And I think he's right; we're just as fascinated by what isn't included as what is. For every magically descriptive phrase, there are five hundred that are missing, and filling in the blanks is half the fun.

My favorite poem has always been and will always be "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost. Maybe not the most original choice, but with just a few lines, I'm there, alongside that road, smelling the sweat that's steaming up off the horse, listening. I think maybe that's because I've spent so many cold, crisp evenings watching the stars, smelling horses and dreaming.



Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep
 
We know it's snowing, we know it's just before Christmas because it's "the darkest evening of the year", but I'm always left curious.
 
Where are they going? Where have they come from? What's the horse's name? Are they just outside the city? Or deep in the silent rural part of the world? What promises has he made? Who is this man?
 
And on and on.
 
This mystery makes poetry fascinating. And it's an element of poetry I like to see in prose fiction.

It's always disappointing to read a romance novel in which there is no mystery. If the characters are hot and the crazy sex they have in a club bathroom the first time they meet is hot, and they're super cool and badass and hot and horny and they make erotic growling sounds (seriously, I don't want to read "erotic growling sounds" in one more book, people) and they're just so hot and badass and perfect for each other...then at no point as a reader did I make an emotional or mental connection with either character. Nor did the characters achieve that sort of connection with each other. When it's all sex all the time and it's all hanging out, there's no mystery. There's no poetry. And it's difficult for a reader to empathize with the the bond the characters share.

Poetry in prose is creating a fascination in both the characters and the readers. Characters don't have to be Hollywood hot, they just need to be beautiful and captivating in the eyes of their love interests. Just like a poem captivates with a snapshot - a sudden, startling image that leaves us with more questions than answers - a character can captivate the same way.

From Dream of You:

"In the dappled play of moonlight and shadow, she looked timeless. She could have been a medieval princess, a pinup, or a ghost."

"His eyes looked almost turquoise in the last ambient glow of sunlight, full of gold flecks and deep as ocean water. His gaze wasn't predatory, he didn't leer at her, but watched her with an attention that made eye contact difficult to maintain."

Details are important. They build up the mystery and fascination in the minds of characters and deepen the bonds between them. Put a little poetry in your prose, and the novel goes from story to vicarious experience. I know which I prefer.



 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Fixing Ain't Easy


            It was broken. It was haunted. Just like her.
            But it had bones, and it had memories, and it had the ability to be something strong again. Just like her.

- Fix You, by...Me
 
 




Writing the first ten chapters or so of a book feels like herding cats most of the time. I've learned, during editing, that what I thought was chaotic while writing isn't truly chaotic on paper. So I don't sweat the beginning-of-book jitters too much. So far, though, Jessica is proving to be the most prickly Walker and her story is the most challenging.
 
I've never considered myself a method writer, but talking through Fix You makes me think I might actually be one. Jessica's life gets turned upside down, and, hardass that she is, tackles her new life with teeth and claws. She takes on a massive project, and, as I'm writing, the story begins to feel like a massive project too. Jess's tired resolution about the house she's just bought is exactly how I'm looking at the book. As usual, the character is steering this ship and I'm just up in the crow's nest looking for icebergs.
 
Figuring out the source of my anxiety, though, is a blessing. If I've gone method with Jess, then hopefully "fixing" her will be an organic process. Aside from a few key scenes I have stamped in permanent ink, characters rarely take an exact path to the realizations at which I wanted them to arrive. It's a pattern of constant questions I ask them and myself, and usually, the twists I didn't plan for end up being more inspired than anything I could have planned in advance. Working through scenes like this - focusing on nuance and detail and approaching the moments like a movie director watching them unfold - save me a lot of second-guessing and revision when I edit. Everyone writes differently, but I think everyone has jitters...even if they don't always admit it.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Shelter: First 3 Chapters

My readers have called it suspenseful and steamy, and you can read the first three chapters right now, for free.





Prologue

 

It should have been raining. Or snowing. Sleeting. It should have at least been overcast. But instead the sun sliced down through a crisp wedge of blue, cloudless sky and laughed as the swaying willow limbs threw its dappled light across the grass, and over the coffin.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Select Quotes

I've been helping my brother with his political theory paper the past three days and it has robbed my brain of oxygen. It is done! But I'm still a touch brain dead, so the update of Better Than You I wanted to put out hasn't happened yet. Apologies!

I have a peace offering of quotes. (I know, lame, huh?) Quite a few agents ask for a writer's favorite quote from his or her own work, and I can never decide how to narrow it down. Do I go for the best use of language? The most emotional? The one that best summarizes one character? It's a lot of pressure. So since I can never decide, these are some of my faves from Dream of You.



As Jordan sagged back against the door and his eyes did an aimless sweep of the antique sideboards that lined the foyer, the glass and brass lantern above him, the discarded socks tossed over the post at the foot of the stairs, he didn't for a second think "normal" was anywhere close to ideal. Normal was jaded and sleepy-eyed and kicking him out of bed before the sweat had cooled. Normal was no-strings and no love and nothing but cold comfort.
- Page 249
 
 
"Tammy," she'd whispered against his neck, voice choked with tears, and the word had wrapped around both of them, warm and tingling with how much she loved him.
- Page 282
 
 
For one perfect, precious moment, everything that ate at their sanity melted away into the shadows, and the crackling energy that arced between them was nothing but bright, sparkling memories of all their moments together in this car and all the things she'd let him teach her in it.
 
- Page 304
 
 
Midnight was the first word that came up off the page and made a sound. Start here, that word said, and keep going. Midnight came in on a thunderstorm, Ellie had written, and Jordan could hear the line in her voice, a throaty lover's whisper in the dark.
 
- Page 308
 
His voice was different in the small, intimate spaces that existed when they were pressed together like this; it was sweet with a familiar sort of sleepiness, a voice just for her that the rest of the world didn't get to hear.
 
- Page 313
 
"I'm good to the people who are good to me.That's a short list most of the time."
 
- Page 402
 
"Being responsible for someone - putting a stake in the game and knowing that you might hurt them...that's scary shit. That scares me every day."
 
- Page 452
 
He knew what he wanted, down to his bones and deep in his brain and even in the scrawny little heart he sometimes wondered if he even had.
 
- Page 458



Tuesday, December 4, 2012

This Boy



Is seven today. Happy Birthday, Riddick. Thanks for putting up with me. And for protecting me from squirrels.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Finding Bravery



I'm a writer who's never been in the habit of giving other writers advice. I've read and made suggestions on projects when I was asked to, but - and this is bad to admit - I have trouble making writers' conferences work for me. That's not a good admission, I know, but it's true. When I get to the table and we all start talking about what we're working on, the advice that gets thrown everyone's way tends to be uninformed. It's hard to make suggestions when you haven't read someone's work. And sometimes - I know I'm this way - as writers, we're always looking at other works through our reader lenses. We ask ourselves, is this what I would read? And if it's not, it can be hard to separate our personal opinions from our critique.

This is one of the difficulties when pitching to agents. Agents have favorite genres and storytelling styles, and they want to represent what they like as readers, or what they think will sell. Whenever a book hits the top of the bestseller lists, they start snapping up very similar works, assuming they'll sell too. But I always wonder, how many gems were passed over because they didn't fit the mold? The book market is almost impossible to saturate - even if something isn't a bestseller-wannabe, who's to say it won't become its own unique, trend-setting bestseller original? Agents say they know what readers want, but I don't like most of what's being passed off as romance these days and won't read it, so in my case, agents don't know what I want. And I'm betting there are other readers out there like me who feel the same way.

So, if I had to give other writers advice, it would be this: be brave. Be brave enough to realize that agents are talent managers, and that writers are the talent.

I was terrified when I first considered indie publishing. I've always been a person who did what I was "supposed to", and if the agents had told me no, then clearly I wasn't writing what I was supposed to...right? But then I looked at their comments more closely. They liked the way I wrote, they enjoyed my samples, but I was unproven. I was a risk. And some of them didn't think I could pull off the story that I'd promised in my query letters. "I don't think you can do it," a few said. They had their opinions, and I respected them, understood them. But I wasn't just a writer, I was a reader too, and I wanted to write the sort of book that people like me were missing. I loved my characters and wanted to share them. And I knew that, at the end of the day, it's the readers who make a writer a success, the people who connect with their stories. The agents doubted me, but they hadn't read the whole manuscript, hadn't watched the rain in Ireland with Jo, or slid their hands into Tam's when he needed it so badly.

Finding my bravery was scary, and I still doubt myself, but it was rewarding too. I'm not the girl to go to for advice on impressing agents, because I quit trying. But, writers, I will say this - be brave. Writing is art, and no one can tell an artist how to hold her brush, or what colors to use. I look to the greats, and the classics, and I aspire to them, to be as brave as they were.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

My Twitter Experiment

I've been told that all authors MUST be on Twitter, so even though I'm shy, and I don't want to be on Twitter, and I'm shy (did I say that yet?), I've finally caved.

I'm @lauren_gilley

There's a link on my sidebar too.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Better Than You: part 10


10.

 

“Won’t he hear us?” Delta asked at the top of the staircase. She swore she could feel Tam glaring at her through the walls as she glanced down the narrow, dark hall that stretched away from the landing.

 

Mike caught the hem of her sweater between two fingers and tried to tow her through the open door beside them, but she stood rooted in place. “Depends. How much noise are you planning to make?” She swatted him away and his smile became exasperated. “What?”
 

Friday, November 30, 2012

November's Last Day



Winter won't be here officially for another few weeks, but it already feels like autumn is gone. The grass has stopped growing, all but the bravest of leaves have fallen, the horses are in their blankets and I'm searching for my pom-pom ski cap in the top of the closet. Christmas brings color and vibrancy back into the world, but only for a short spell, and then it's a long wait for spring. This is a good time of year for reading (hint: I have book recommendations if you're in need of them!) and writing, and it's also the time of year when I realize that if I can barely survive a Georgia winter, I'm never moving out West!

November gets plowed over by Christmas most of the time, but while I'm still shivering in front of my space heater doing a whole lot of blank staring out the window, I realized how pretty the end of autumn is in its own right.

 
 
Markus sees and hears everything. He was eating acorns when the first picture was snapped...
 
 
 
 
...but then he turned around because he is Markus. And he is lead horse. And he will break that which he does not accept...like my camera or any other unfortunate object left within his reach.


 
 
This was the last flare of color in the trees.
 
 
 
Happy Friday, everyone. I hope you're all feeling better than I am. I should have more chapters of Better Than You up soon.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Better Than You: part 9


 

9.

 

Mike lived in a townhouse: an end unit done in antique white brick with black shutters and door, a crabapple tree anchoring the complex-provided landscaping at the front corner. Parked cars went up the narrow drive and around the front curb. Delta nosed her Volvo up behind a black 4Runner and took a deep, rattled breath.

Cobb Library Foundation Luncheon

You'll have to forgive me today if I sound like an idiot - my cold, or whatever it is, has come back with a vengeance and it's all I can do to string a sentence together.

Yesterday, I attended the Cobb Library Foundation's Booked for Lunch event with my mom and my Aunt Sandy, who was generous enough to invite us. The luncheon was part of a series designed to help raise funds for the Library Foundation and was held at the Marietta Country Club. It was lunch, a wonderful guest speaker, and a little elbow rubbing.



The Foundation held seven of these lunches in 2012, and yesterday's featured author was James Farmer.



Quoting his website, James is, "a Southern author, gardener, floral and interior designer, cook and garden-to-table lifestyle expert" (http://jamesfarmer.com/about/). He is Editor-at-Large for Southern Living, the author of bestselling books A Time to Plant, Sip & Savor, Porch Living, and Wreaths For All Seasons, and has his own garden design business. He shared his personal background, beautiful books and a wide sampling of his design work . I'm a fiction writer, but I'm a farm girl too, and his presentation gave us lots of new ideas. If you enjoy gardening, cooking and design, follow the link I provided.

Fun tidbit: I sat next to Vince Dooley at lunch! Sandy landed us at a table right up front and clearly it was the VIP table because the former University of Georgia football coach joined us. Needless to say, I felt like a ridiculous dumb kid telling a College Football Hall of Fame coach I was a novelist when he asked me about myself. So, like I said, elbow rubbing.

It was a fun outing and I got to shake a lot of hands. I'm hoping to be a part of a new author event the library will be putting on sometime after New Years at which I'd have an opportunity to sell and promote my books. I can't thank Sandy enough for the chance to attend yesterday.

Oh, and check out the clubhouse's Christmas decor.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Girl on a Mission



I spend the majority of my time writing, but tomorrow is going to be all about marketing. My aunt has very generously offered to take me to a luncheon hosted by the Cobb Library Foundation. As wonderful as it is to meet and connect with other writers, it's important to make connections with potential readers too, so it should be interesting. Afterward, I'm going to shop my books around to some local bookstores and see if I can get some bites. I'll have a full writeup Thursday.Wish me luck!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Better Than You: part 8


8.

 

“Stop smiling. I’m a shameless slut.”

 

Regina’s eyes rolled as she popped another French fry in her mouth. “Puh-lease. You need to chill the hell out, girl. You went out with a hot guy, you got laid. You aren’t married – you can do stuff like that. Besides,” she reached for another fry, “when was the last time you did anything just for the fun of it?”

 

“If we all went through life doing things ‘for the fun of it’, it’d be anarchy.”
 

Sharing Food...and Germs



It never fails that I'm sick right after Thanksgiving. Between Mom's family's day-of dinner and Dad's family's weekend-after dinner, I come down a cold that laughs at my puny immune system and leaves me huddled up in front of a space heater, absolutely useless. Not only does a fever impede my dinner prepping abilities, but it makes it hard to write too. I have to take the good with the bad; with togetherness comes germ-spreading.

This Thanksgiving, though, was healthier than last in a different way. Back in June, I decided to experiment with my constantly-problematic stomach by going gluten free. It's taken almost six months, but I'm finally starting to feel more like a human, and what do you know, I don't miss bread that much when I feel better! And one of the things I was most thankful for this Thanksgiving was my sweet mom's ability to take my favorite holiday dishes and make them gluten free.

I LOVE this mac and cheese and we made it with gluten free corn pasta and gluten free all purpose flour. The cornbread and breakfast sausage dressing was made with this gluten free cornbread mix. And all of it came from Kroger, so that was convenient and didn't involve some trek through the great country backwoods to get to a specialty market. When you live where I do, if they don't have it at the closest available store, you're not getting it.

This year, I was also so thankful for my loving, supportive family, for my animals, for rural Georgia, for the chance to do what I love most and for the inspiration and crazy streak that have led me to indie publishing.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and please enjoy this random, irrelevant picture of a tree because I pass by it on the way to the barn every day and I think it's pretty.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Better Than You: part 7


7.

 

“Ow!”

 

The soft thunk of Delta’s head connecting with the doorframe told Mike he’d missed the entrance to her bedroom. By a lot. As it turned out, walking through an apartment with a girl’s legs wrapped around his waist was a lot more precarious and dangerous than it was sexy. He was pretty sure whatever had fallen off the end table beside the sofa had shattered, and now he’d given her a concussion against the doorjamb.
 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Better Than You: part 6


6.

 

She was slower to warm up than any girl he’d ever met, but after two glasses of wine, Delta began to shed some of her biting defensiveness and talk to him like he wasn’t something she’d scraped off the bottom of her expensive shoe.

 

“You didn’t!” she exclaimed over the top of her wineglass, her smile wide, her brown eyes full of laughter. She was a completely different person from the frosty bitch who’d squared off from him at Nordstrom.

 

“Well, I scanned it,” he admitted. “You shoulda seen the look the checkout girl at Barnes & Noble gave me. Guess that’s what I get for buying a chick book.”