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Friday, March 29, 2013

It's Here...

Y'all, Fix You went on sale late last night and I'm already seeing sales. That is exciting! As of this morning, it's available at Amazon as a paperback and ebook and is listed on my Goodreads page. I'll try to get it to BN soon.
Thus closes the Walker Family Series...for now. I keep saying "for now" because I have...plans. But as of this moment, Jess's story rounds out the series. I hope you'll all check it out; this series has been the most fun I've ever had writing, and I'm so glad I get to share it.
Jessica Walker had the perfect husband, the perfect son, the perfect life…until she realized it was all a lie. In the wake of her husband’s shocking infidelity, she knows only one thing: she has to start over. With her sister’s help, she buys a dilapidated lakeside mansion with the crazy idea of turning it into an inn. If she can survive the renovations – and the attention of her contractor – she just might succeed. At least, she hopes so. But when has anything ever been so simple?
Army Ranger turned contractor Chris Haley has big plans for the inn…and its owner. He’s never met anyone as cool, as blunt, as totally impossible…or absolutely beautiful as Jess. He’s been alone for too long, and he has a feeling she has too, even if she’s hiding behind a bitter exterior as damaged as her new house. When it comes to renovations, hearts aren’t so different from homes.
Select Quotes:
“It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Jo was the blind kid running off emotions; Jess was the thoughtful, careful pragmatist who’d married for so much more than the high of stolen tongue ring kisses and the smell of a leather jacket. Jo was the dreamer who thought love compensated for everything; Jess was the realist who searched for love that didn’t need compensating in the first place.”
“You know,” Tam mused, “sometimes I think my total devotion to you leads to some bad decisions.” 
“Belonging to someone wasn’t the way she’d always thought it was: it wasn’t a cage.” 

           '“Jess,” he said in a careful voice; she pulled the halves of her thin sweatshirt together and folded her arms across it. “What happened with you and him?”
           “Do you mean,” she kicked a toe through the gravel, “why is he acting like a child throwing a temper tantrum? Or,” her voice caught, “what did I do to drive him to this?”
            Bitter, Chris realized, was too delicate a word for her mindset.' 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Box of Books

Why, yes, it's a box of books. I have two of them, with one more still in transit. They are heavy. And seeing this much of my own product is...weird. I don't think it will ever stop feeling weird.
On April 6, these boxes will be accompanying me to the Cobb Central Library for a book sale/signing. It'll be my first author "event," so I'm kinda excited about it. And kinda nervous. And kinda, actually, very nervous.
If you live locally, and would like a paperback copy of any of my five books at a discounted price, come see me Saturday April 6 between 11:00 and 5:30. I'll post something more official in the next couple of weeks with more details, so stay tuned. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Because horse people are sentimental

A snowfall of blossoms sifts to earth,
Light as down on unmarked graves.
Eyes closed, there are new-penny coats;
Ears pricked, there are hoofbeats.
Gone but not forgotten;
Sleeping beneath a snow of pear petals,
Waiting to carry us home.

Friday, March 22, 2013

On the Horizon

"I used to think the rules were made for breaking
Now I question every road I've taken
And I regret every heart I've forsaken
Here's my confession:"
~"Skeletons," Eli Young Band

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Learn as You Go

"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
There's an old saying that no one ever learned how to ride a horse without falling off a few times. It's very true. I have the grass stains to prove it. Because, you could read every book, every magazine article, watch every instructional video in existence, and you'd still clutch at the pommel for balance the first time you slung your leg over a horse. Riding takes hours and hours and hours of practice, and even then, you never reach some imaginary plateau of talent; you could always be a better rider. There's always something new to learn. There's always more practicing to do.
The same is true of writing. You write and write and write, learning, growing, developing those unconscious skill sets that you can only acquire through repetition. Every finished project is another lesson learned. Sometimes, unfinished projects are our falls. And the more we write, the better we write, the less we fall - at least, that's my philosophy.
Fix You is complete! I'm hoping to announce that its on sale sometime next week...and announce the sale I have planned to celebrate the end (for now) of the Walker series. So now that those four books are in my rear view, I'm looking back on what I learned in the process.
My big take-away was about character development. This is a very character-driven series, and while writing the books, I really worked toward making those characters not just interesting, but likable too. I hope I succeeded, but either way, I'm going to have a hard time letting go of these characters; I'm attached! of these days...maybe even sooner than that...I'll revisit them.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

In the Dark

Monday afternoon, a storm knocked out the power. No big. The roof was still on the barn and all the trees were still upright; after the insane, roaring build of the wind, it was just a relief to see that everything was still in tact...and y'all, I'm not exaggerating. It's a damn good day when a storm blows by and the funnel cloud skirts around the edge of the property.
So the power was out, but the county's good about getting it back on, and it was daylight, so it was no big deal.
But then it didn't come back on. And then the dark came creeping in; the shadows got long and the chill set in and night fell without a single light to keep the shadows at bay. It is dark in the country. No ambient city glow. No backup generators. And if you have a well, like we do, then there's no running water either. It's just the night, and the sound of coyotes celebrating a kill; a few dancing candles, the yellow-eyed things flirting with the flashlight beams, and a vivid imagination make for an unsettling evening. The horses don't like the flashlights: they snort and stare at the woods, their eyes white around the edges.
The next morning, the sun is radiant and the sky is the color of a robin's egg, and it's hard to believe there was anything to to be uneasy about the night before.
Anyone who claims not to be at least a little nervous in the dark is, I think, fooling himself. Even if you're not afraid, even if you're fearless, there's some basic, instinctual part of us all that tells us it's not safe in the dark.

Monday, March 18, 2013

That Weekend

You know that first warm weekend? The first one that isn't cold and gray and doesn't keep you indoors? The first one that feels like Spring? That was this past weekend here. The pears bloomed and the daylight lingered until eight and it was so nice to unplug for the weekend and recharge.

My truck got a much-deserved bath.

I did some editing on Fix You.

I played around with cover images for Made for Breaking - which will be completed and released sometime this summer.

On a farm, weekends are a chance to dig in deeper and work a little harder. Planting and painting and repairing and mowing and riding and washing - cars and horses and dogs alike. I need that. Now that I'm no longer just writing for me - and my work is "out there" - I'm exposed to the overabundance of information out there on the web about book writing/marketing/editing. By the end of the week, I'm a bit of a doubting mess, reeling from all that I've read, wondering if I'm doing what I should. The weekends on the farm are a reminder that no one can know what I "should" do. Writing pulls me the same way the farm has always pulled me, and it's nice to get back to the natural, instinctual side of creativity and step away from the web.

I hope everyone else had a lovely weekend! I've got some deleted scenes coming up this week and a peek back into Made for Breaking.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Ides

Happy Ides of Best wishes on this the Ides of March...? Is that something you can even wish a person? Dunno. So...have a happy anniversary of the assassination of Caesar. That's not morbid at all.

Julius Caesar is my favorite Shakespeare play so I always take note of this day. Plus, Roman history is interesting, so there's that too. But back to Shakespeare. "Beware the Ides of March," has become one of those cultural phrases that everyone says. Most people don't know it was said by a soothsayer in a play, but they know the line all the same. And how cool is that? I love to know that Shakespeare, even all these years later, still transcends pop culture.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Jess sat in the slow-burning sunshine and listened to them
 with a smile on her face. She was home.
~Fix You

I don't know what novels are to other people; I can only speculate. For me, they they are bigger, stronger, wilder than what they appear. They are not just lines on a page; they are journeys - alive and breathing - trapped between covers, waiting to be turned loose. They have the power to evoke laughter, tears, longing and heartbreak. Their paths become familiar and well-worn. Their people become friends. Their colors are brighter behind our eyes than ever possible in the real world. And all that a novel is to a reader, it is still more to its writer. We crack open our own fears, dreams, worries and wonders and weave them into the fiction. We slave and worry and spend sleepless nights wondering just how our hero will find his way out of this newest scrape. It is a lonely thing, sometimes a thankless thing, and even still, when it's over, we are sad.

I finished Fix You today. It still needs editing and proofing and all kinds of tweaking, but I wrote my final line today. I ended not just the novel, but my four volume series of novels. And it's...strange. I've thought all along that I would be elated to complete the series, and instead, it's a quiet sort of gladness. What do I do now that it's done? What comes after?

In the last six months, I've written more than I ever have in the past. It's been a concentrated, focused obsession - writing out the lives of these characters. Now that it's over, I'm left with all those artless, practical questions I hate: Should I have focused my efforts elsewhere? Should I have written a different kind of book? A different kind of series? Was this all a waste of time? Will I look back and be glad I got to meet the Walkers in my imagination?

I don't know the answers to these questions right now. I think, for tonight, I'll just be glad and sad that I am where I am. I don't know what's harder: writing, or what comes after.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Springing Forward

I love Spring: it's a predictable beginning. The tender shoots of grass; the slow burst of pear blossoms; the first brave red wasps; the rain of loose horse hair falling off the curry comb - it's all familiar, all missed, all welcome. Other beginnings, though, aren't as comforting.

I'm staring down the barrel of the last 4,000 words or so of the last book of my series. It's bittersweet: it's a relief; it's a terror. Once I finish Fix You, I'll start working on something else. Not because I want to, but because I have to. Writing is a disease for me; I'm manic, and I can't remember a period in my life in which I wasn't writing something. Even if it was a short story in the margin of my history notes, I've always had some sort of fiction project going. I can't stop. I have a problem. Hello, my name is Lauren. I can't stop writing...

The change of season feels like a good time to do some springing forward of a personal nature. The Walker series has been all about family and the complicated way it links people to one another. It was my pet project, my passion. The men were the kind of men who really deserve to be loved; the girls were the kind of girls you'd want as sisters and friends. They felt real to me, and I meant for them to. But the more I look at the market, the more I see that my books don't fit into what readers are terming romance these days. So what's a manic writer to do? Stay the course? Crank out my own carbon copy erotica novel?

I think the answer, for me, is neither. While I might be ready to go a little darker and a little more exciting with my next novel, I might as well face the fact that I have a style and I need to stick to it. I want to continue to write emotional, character-driven stories. Like Shelter, my next novel will bring a little murder into the mix. And I want to build it around a character who makes a cameo in Fix You: a stand-alone piece that doesn't need the Walkers, but tips a hat to them.

I want to write about this guy:

           Ben looked every inch the businessman, save the black motorcycle boots he opted for instead of dress shoes. “You ever try to chase down a meth addict in wingtips?” he’d asked once. Over the side of the plate, Chris recognized those black boots standing beside his table, and heaved a sigh.

            “Two days in a row. How’d I get so lucky?”

            Ben flashed a tight, humorless smile as he slid into the booth across from him. “I figured I’d find you here pouring grease over your rotting liver.”

            “Don’t you have a dead body to find?” Chris asked, shoveling in eggs. “A crackhead to run down?”

            “In a minute.” Ben pulled a napkin from the dispenser, wiped a patch of table, then folded his arms over it. “I went to see Jessica,” he said, and Chris’s eggs got stuck in his throat.

And his story is a mystery. And his girl is too good for him.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Little Bit of Jessica...

There's something very Dr. Frankenstein about character development. There's no bolts or haphazard stitch-work, but writers are, in essence, creating humans from disassembled bits. For me, this is the best part of writing - developing new characters. It can also be the most challenging. Especially when taking a supporting character from one book and setting her up as the star of her own book. Shifting gears can trip you up. This is Jess, I remind myself, not Jo. Don't make her sound like Jo!
 I love this album so much. Every song. I love Sara's voice; I love the odd touch of bluegrass woven through the notes of what are already strong country songs. "Born to Fly" was my dumb-kid-dreaming-in-my-room anthem: it fueled my writing...still does, for that matter. I dusted the album off a while back and every song made me think of Jess in some way.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Sale starts Now

99 cents to download Keep You now through Sunday. Link is here.

Favorite Things: Randoms

I like sunsets.

I like chocolate, and white wine, and blue fingernail polish.

I like boots. All kinds of boots.

Leather jackets.


The smell of snow.

I like classic cars.

'67 Chevelles with black cherry paint.

I like Christmas lights.

Twice baked potatoes.

The smell of book ink.

The sleepy sounds of a barn bedded down for the night.

Everyone is full to bursting with inane little aesthetic favorites: things that only those closest to them know or understand. They're insignificant to strangers; but sometimes, learning that someone likes the smell of diesel fuel and cries through the last ten minutes of Seabiscuit brings about a certain closeness. They can make friends out of acquaintances. They can also make friends out of characters.

Characters need quirks, too. It takes them to the next level - transforms them from names on paper to living breathing people with which an audience can connect.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Kindle Sale

I HATE having to do promotional stuff. It's just not my thing; it makes me feel like a skeevy used car salesman. But because I'm almost done with the last book in the series, I wanted to run a special on the first volume. This weekend, Friday through Sunday, Keep You will only be 99 cents in the Kindle store.

So there: sale announce, promo over! 99 cent download tomorrow thorugh Sunday if you wanna take advantage!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Favorite Things: Dressage

Steffen Peters, the U.S. anchor rider, and Ravel
© 2008 by Nancy Jaffer

The great drive and swing and leap of eighteen-hundred pounds of muscle and bone beneath the saddle. The crisp white gloves. The pressure of reins on fingers. The lightness of the bridle in those precious moments of self-carriage. The thump of hooves; the creak of leather; the swish of tail; the tumble of silent conversation. The dance. The sugar cubes and ear rubs and shirt stains. The dirt between teeth. The smell of sweating horse. The solid, steaming necks, clapping underhand after a job well done.

Dressage is mental and physical gymnastics. It is details, details, details. It is feeling, at moments, like Alec on the beach with The Black. It is nothing in the world but sand, and hooves, and horse, and rider.

For me, it's the dream: sell enough books to support my very favorite thing.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Favorite Things: LOTR

Whenever I've been a little down and been a little stressed - whenever external factors begin to take their toll - I like to think about my favorite things. No...not raindrops on roses: things that pull me out of the daily lurch and remind me...

"That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

So, this week, I'm talking favorite things. And I couldn't start that list without the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The Lord of the Rings
The LOTR seems to be fairly polarizing: there are those who have no real opinion, but for the most part, there are those who can't stand it, and those who love it almost obsessively. I fall into the latter category. For a lot of reasons.
I was a sci-fi/fantasy child; I read The Hobbit at ten, the trilogy at twelve, and was smitten with Middle Earth and its heroic citizens. And then, my freshman year of high school, Peter Jackson turned the books I'd loved into the truest book-to-film interpretation I've ever seen, and he brought Middle Earth to vivid, tangible life.
The trilogy is artistically important for the fantasy genre, but for me as well. I think childhood inspiration has a way of shaping our adult sense of creativity, and in my case, I'm a sucker for good vs. evil; for true heroes; for the sort of wisdom that transcends elves and orcs and speaks to us as humans.

Plus, I always had a bit of a thing for Orlando in that blonde wig. I'm an adult. I can admit that.

And I named the farm in honor of the fields of Rohan.

“Where now are the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
Where is the harp on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
Where is the spring and the harvest and the tall corn growing?
They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow.
Who shall gather the smoke of the deadwood burning,
Or behold the flowing years from the Sea returning?”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

Stirring stuff, no?


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Delta's Poem

In the shining sharp cold silence,
She heard what warmth disguised:
The sturdy welcome of his heartbeat;
The laughter in his eyes.
In the quiet of a winter dawn,
She breathed in without fear:
The closeness of his soul;
The love that shone so clear.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


Snow, anyone? So far, March is living up to it's lion best.

Riddick update: No surgery! Turns out an old fracture in his hock and some sort of soft tissue strain are causing his pain, so he's on pain meds and rest. Huge sigh of relief.

Writing update: I'm exhausted. I should have some new content next week, maybe even tomorrow. I have a peace offering of lines. 97k words in on Fix You and coming to a close. Yay. And I got to write within some new POVs, which may or may not be fun. I can't decide.

          With a look that was a clear warning, Jo melted out of sight behind the door and Tam stepped in front of it, pulling it closed behind him as he joined Walt on the stoop. Tam gave him the up/down and moved past him, dropped down on the wooden step and stretched his legs out in front of him. He was in jeans, socks, and some old threadbare band t-shirt. He fished a pack of smokes from his back pocket and shook one loose; stuck it between his teeth before he asked, “Why’re you here?” in a flat, disinterested voice.

            Wales had always been smug; he’d never had a damn thing to his name save a leather jacket and that old Detroit-made hunk of steel his mother had left him. How could a man with no accomplishments have anything to be smug about? Walt had always supposed it was nabbing Jo, gaining a place in the family, that had fueled his sense of victory. It was a notion that had spawned a loathing, one that he was having a hard time swallowing tonight.

            “I came to wave the white flag,” he said, biting back the contempt in his voice.

            Tam lit his cigarette and turned to glance back over his shoulder, blowing smoke into the night through his nostrils. “Not buying it.”


           “I may be the baby, but I’m not an idiot.”

            He felt a faint smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. “Did I ever say that?”

            “That or something very much like it.”

            He couldn’t apologize – he wasn’t ready for that – but he draped a careful arm across her little shoulders. She stared at the house across from them, but didn’t shrug him away, and Walt thought that might be a start.
Material Copyright © 2013 Lauren Gilley