amazon.com/authors/laurengilley

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

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Writing is a lot like Riding



There's a certain culture surrounding equine sports that I used to assume was unique to the horse world. A certain commonality in socialization. I've realized, though, that there are strange customs in all arenas. On the surface, writing and publishing seem to have nothing in common with competitive dressage. But in both circles, similar behaviors prevail.

Whether it's a barn full of horse enthusiasts or a gathering of writers, you are guaranteed to observe the following:

1) All prior experience, education or expertise is irrelevant when meeting new people in your field; they all assume you are a a complete novice and know nothing.

2) As a complete novice, it is deemed imperative that you join one or several clubs, organizations, networks, and/or loose social gatherings so that your education can begin.

3) All of your new friends will tell you how congenial, helpful and generous they are.

4) All of your congenial, helpful, generous new friends ask for your support and in return, offer to support you.

5) All of your congenial, helpful, generous new friends do not support you in return.

6) Randomly greeting or attempting to engage anyone to whom you haven't been introduced results in scorn and/or dirty looks.

7) There are approximately a million experts and geniuses in your midst whose opinions are law and whose advice you simply must adhere to if you hope to ever be a success.

8) These geniuses use the majority of their skills telling others how they might become successful - they are so busy doing this, poor dears, that they accomplish very little for themselves.

9) It is understood that everyone excels at everything, and that focusing on unique skills is forbidden.

10) Taking advice into consideration, politely nodding, then doing what you feel is best is a cardinal sin, one which all your new congenial, helpful, generous, genius, highly skilled, completely fabulous, unfriendly friends will not hesitate to tell you about.

Whether it's riding or writing, you quickly become disenchanted with the social aspects and decide that what you truly want to do is write, or ride, and that if you let yourself get too caught up in all the "help" being offered you, you will become the antithesis of what you set out to be. I'm passionate about writing and literature, and I love talking to others about it, but this idea that you "have" to do anything is just as absurd as being given the cold shoulder the morning I walked down the aisle of the show barn and deigned to tell everyone, "Good morning." I don't follow any of the strange writing world customs, and I'd like to think that any and everyone feels welcome to ask me about any and everything. True friendliness, true help and generosity, shouldn't be something the self-appointed "it" crowd lords over others. Unfortunately, that's the world we live in, and choosing to go a different way makes the path a tricky one to navigate.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

More Fix You

I had such high hopes of picking back up with Made for Breaking, but I've finally learned that I need to concentrate on one novel at a time. Right now, I need to concentrate on Fix You. I'm working like a madwoman and hoping to have it ready for a March release. Until then, here's another sample from my rough draft. I should be posting more snippets and more deleted scenes in the next couple of weeks. Thanks for reading!




Jess made the mistake of telling her sister about their backyard creeper the next morning at breakfast.

            They were at the dilapidated old picnic table beside the cottage with the kids, waiting on Ellie and Chris to arrive before the day could begin, both of them dressed for work, Jess sipping coffee while everyone else dug into Eggos.

            Jo paused in the act of drizzling more syrup onto her plate, big eyes going saucer wide. “Excuse me?” she asked. “There was a – and you didn’t come tell us? Or call us? Or -,”

            “What would you have done?” Jess asked. “Sicced Tam and a flashlight on him?”

            “Well, yes!”


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I'm Gonna Call it a 'Fan Encounter'


This is not a true statement because twenty-five-year-old indie authors don't have "fans", per se. But yesterday, when I arrived at the dentist for my six month teeth cleaning, a copy of Keep You was set before me at the front desk and I was asked to sign it. I had the loveliest five minute conversation about the Walkers in which I was so flattered and touched that I wanted to dance around like a little kid. It was so unexpected, and so kind...I think, for writers, it always feels like a great favor when someone reads our work. But every once in a while we are reminded that there are people who read it voluntarily, because they like it, and they want more of it, and they ask when the next book will be out.

Sometimes, dedicating my time to providing entertainment feels foolish. But encounters like the one I had yesterday remind me why I do what I do.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

These Boots are Ruining My Life


These boots, found HERE, keep popping up in my inbox and on Facebook. This is what I get for liking Country Outfitters on FB. One of these days, I'll be able to squander $362 on the most perfect pair of cowboy boots ever, but until then, these boots are ruining my life.

That is all.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Memories

“Touch has a memory.”
John Keats
 
 
I love writing memories. LOVE. That sounds weird, yes, because a memory is an intangible thing. But memories are what separate humans from animals; they give our minds a linear quality, and provide us with this constant kaleidoscope of past sensations that come rushing back to us at times of unexpected provocation. People have memories both hideous and cherished, triggered by scents and sights. Because I'm seriously obsessed with fictional characters who feel like real people and not just vehicles for the writer's story, I think it's important for characters to have memories too. Because when the character recalls a touch, that moment in the past becomes concrete, and not just something the writer wants me to assume.
 
I like trying to bring memories to life, like this: "She remembered the night they’d made him – the frost on the windowpane, the smell of sandalwood soap and the taste of too-expensive wine on his tongue, the way everything had clicked and the world had melted away for a few perfect, preserved minutes that still reminded her of the brush of silk sheets against her naked skin even now." ~Fix You
 
And I like writing flashbacks, too, because sometimes I think it's important to "see" exactly how a certain piece of history unfolded.
 
Some people don't like flashbacks, and I understand that; they slow the narrative and can be hard to follow at times. But I love blending past and present because it's something very real and something that happens to me quite a lot.
 
For instance: last night, I walked past this picture of my very first horse Skip, who I had for fourteen years and who I lost about a year-and-a-half ago.
 
 
 
I was just passing through the kitchen and my eyes landed on the photo and all of a sudden, my hand remembered the slick feel of his new red spring coat - slick as seal hide. My nose remembered the warm, outdoor smell of horse that was his and his alone - you think I'm strange, but all horses have their own clean horse smell. I remembered the way he twitched his lip against my shoulder, asking for a carrot, and I remembered the coarseness of his forelock the last day of his life when I smoothed it across his forehead. I looked at the picture once, and a thousand memories - tiny, tactile things like the sound of his hooves on asphalt and the swish of his tail - went tumbling through my head and it was like I'd just left him down at the barn a few minutes before.
 
 
So yeah...I dig writing memories.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Deleted Scene - The Little Ones

I don't know about anyone else, but I love getting to see the deleted scenes from a movie. They're usually just fluff, but I like fluff. Most books have deleted scenes too; some are truly deleted while others, like mine, were never written in the first place but were happy little notions of fluff that the author wanted to write.

Here's a bit of fluff from Better Than You that I never got to write.

 
 
 

The Little Ones
(From Better Than You)

Mike told Tam he was going outside to see if the girls had arrived yet; really, he needed some air. Out on the terraced front steps of the courthouse, the city square choked with traffic and pedestrians spread before him, he took a deep breath down into his lungs that reeked of car exhaust and whatever was being grilled up for lunch at the pub just across the corner. He could hear the fountain, the whine of engines, the occasional snatch of a laugh, the rumble of the train two blocks away. It was a brilliant day – intense with July sunlight, unrelenting in its brightness. The world was alive with dancing heat mirages; the heat, after leaving the air conditioned courthouse, soothing and oppressive all at once. There was nothing fresh about the air he’d needed – it was fully-baked and saturated with the smells of the city – but that was immaterial. He needed, for some stupid reason he didn’t quite understand, to wait, hands in his pockets, as his mother, his fiancée, and his sisters came up the sidewalk and started up the stairs to him.

He greeted all of them, pressed a fast kiss to Delta’s lips, but it was Jo he detained with a hand on her forearm. “Can I talk to you a sec?”

The look she flashed up to him was reluctant and knowing, but she nodded.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sneak Peek of Fix You

Happy Monday, all! I'm editing Better Than You today, so here's a sneak peek at the next volume in the series: Fix You. I'm hoping for a March release on it, but I'll just have to see how cooperative Jess and co. agree to be.

 
 
From Fix You
 
7

 
 The drive was two dirt tire tracks with a strip of grass between, so unremarkable Jess would have missed it had she been the one driving. But three-hundred-year-old Millie Marshall the real estate agent saw it, bifocals and all, and her boat of a Cadillac hit the rut at the curb with a jump that sent Tyler bouncing up out of his seat. Jess saw his head in the rearview mirror and was grateful the weight of Willa’s carseat kept her from smacking against the roof.

            “Whoa,” Tyler said with a laugh, and Willa giggled. So at least they weren’t bothered by the whiplash.

            “The house sits on the back of the property,” Millie said. She had a voice like the rustling of bird wings, too quiet and indistinct. “It has a beautiful view of the lake.”

            “Okay.” Jess grabbed at the dash as they bobbed down into a pothole to the sound of more giggling from the backseat. “Where’s the guest cottage?”

            “Right beside the house, dear.”

            The drive snaked between thick copses of pines and birches, climbing slowly upward, and then the Cadillac waddled its way over the crest of a hill and left the trees, emerging into a several acre clearing that did, in fact, on either side of the house, go all the way to the muddy brown edge of the lake. Jess saw the waving, tall stalks of grass, the overgrown gardens, the falling-apart outbuildings and the little white cottage for caretakers, but it was the mansion itself that pulled her eyes: a monolithic, decaying beast of a structure.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Winter Reading

Did you ever start reading a book and realized you couldn't stop? I mean, really couldn't stop. You stayed up half the night and went cross-eyed at anyone who dared interrupt you. I confess, that doesn't happen to me very often anymore. I read quite a lot, but it's rare to find a book, or books, that I just want to fall into. Books whose characters I want to know and befriend. Books that, even after hundreds of pages, I don't want to end.

The past couple of weeks, I've been reading a romance series and while the first was a rather fun read, the further I progressed through the other books, the more I started to realize that the author wrote the exact same character every time - just with a different name and hair color. And she relies too heavily on strange contrasts - ex: the woman is six feet tall but referred to as "delicate" and in possession of "tiny hands". Even worse, I realized that I didn't like her characters. They had no life, no sense of humor, no sparkle. The men were predatory, women mannish, and just...

Anyway, I'm not writing about those books today. Today, I have some book recs.

With all fiction my main criteria is this: The characters must be multi-dimensional and interesting. Most of what passes for romance these days is sorely lacking in interesting characters or even character development. I was writing romance, but wasn't too enthused about the genre until I came across Judith McNaught's historicals.

     

I'm re-reading Whitney, My Love, which is her first novel, and have the sequels lined up when I'm finished: Once and Always, Something Wonderful, and Almost Heaven. I adore these books. Her characters are alive. They are funny. The dialogue is smart and sharp and emotional. The men and women of these stories are real and fallible - they fight and make up and the end of every book leaves me all sappy and glad these two fictional people have found each other. I love Whitney from Whitney, My Love - she's the kind of girl you'd want to be friends with. And Almost Heaven is so, so good.

I'm really not a fan of McNaught's contemporary novels, but the historical ones are fabulous. They're perfect for cold winter evenings indoors.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Better Than You: part 40

**And so we've reached the end of this particular adventure. I learned a lot about Delta, about Mike, and about my own writing in the process. Never turn down the chance to tell a story, I say, and I hope it's been as enjoyable to read as it was to write. I'm going to try to pitch this one, so, lovely readers, if any of you might feel so kind as to give me some feedback, I would be much obliged. Thanks for sticking with me!

Also, if you liked Better Than You, and want more, check out Keep You and Dream of You over on the sidebar to read Jo and Jordan's stories.**
 

40.

 

Three Years Later

 

“You can come by tonight if you want,” Delta said into the cell phone clenched between her ear and shoulder. She hoisted Evan up higher on her hip, felt her purse sliding, sliding, sliding…and just managed to fit her key into the front door. “We’ve got to get rid of this place,” she told Christy, her real estate agent, as she let herself in and heeled the door shut. Evan was wriggling like a too-big worm and she set him down on his sturdy toddler legs, her purse smacking down against the floor, lipstick and spare change spilling. With an inward sigh, she stooped to retrieve her things, watching Evan go tottering off toward the living room; he was two and mobile and very much a Walker – she’d long since stopped trying to gentle him.

 

“Will you be downsizing?” Christy asked from the other end of the line.

 

“No,” Delta said, smiling to herself as she picked up a tampon and crammed it down deep in the bottom of her purse. “I’m pregnant again. We need a bigger place.”

 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Better Than You: part 39


 

39.

 

His daughter in all aspects, Delta was never surprised by any of Dennis’s edicts. But she wasn’t prepared for the grudging respect he offered Mike. Apparently, Mike threatening to beat his ass – for her no less – had triggered some well-concealed, primitive male side that was only impressed with chest-beating and territory-marking. Whatever. She was just glad they were getting along. Her father asked her, at that horrible but necessary first dinner post-Ireland, if she would have truly stood by and let Mike attack him. Chin lifted, she’d told him yes, and that the bigger man always won out in that sort of thing. Dennis hadn’t missed her double meaning. And the wedding was back on.

 

They were going to get married in the Baptist church. And migrate to Dennis’s country club for the reception. It would be the wedding they were supposed to have had in the first place.

 

But first…


Too Much of a Good Thing

 
It has rained and rained and rained. Yes, Luke Bryan, rain may be a good thing, but there's a fine line between enough and too much, and unless you want to bust out the jacked-up 4-Runner and hit the mud bogs, this past week and a half has seen too much rain.
 
For instance...
 
 
 
 
This is a hoofprint. Or maybe it's more like a divot. Or maybe it's more like a sinkhole created by THE BEAST last night. Markus - fancified well-trained dressage horse by day, battle-hardened war horse by night - likes for things to happen in a certain order. He's a control freak. And he's too smart. And I feel really stupid for forgetting just how smart he is last night. Because, most of the time, Markus is seventeen-plus hands of half-horse-half-guard dog, calm and logical. But other times, he turns into the villain of a Peter Benchley novel, hence: THE BEAST.
 
Last night, after another day swamped by rain, I had the genius idea to feed the horses dinner and then stick them out in the pasture for ten minutes while I mucked their stalls again. They'd been cooped up and needed to stretch their legs, and I didn't think they'd do much but pace beside the gate and ask to come back inside.
 
Wrong.
 
AB decided to go for a stroll through the pasture, maybe graze a bit, head down toward the front eight acres. Markus decided he couldn't tolerate this - it was foggy and getting dark and there were deer crashing through the woods - and he tried to herd her back to the barn.
 
They fought. They squealed. They kicked. He chased her and snapped at her and all freaking hell broke loose. All I could think, as they slid through the mud and tore up great clumps of turf, was: Someone's going to break a leg, someone's going to break a leg, ohmyGodsomeone'sgoingtobreakaleg!! I tried to intervene and quickly learned that standing beside two galloping horses is just like standing on a sitcom street corner in the rain as a bus goes by. There was mud on my face, down my shirt, in my bra. When I finally managed to separate them, I realized I was lucky I was covered in mud instead of blood because I think I almost died twice during that little escapade.
 
Such is the drama of boring horse people. When asked why I don't do crazy risky things, it's because I've seen my life flash before my eyes plenty just taking care of horses; I don't feel the need to go courting danger on purpose.
 
Anyway...
 
Yes, too much of a good thing is a bad thing. All things in moderation...you know how it goes.
 
I mean, look at these filthy things. The mud. So much mud.
 
 
 
 
 
 
The bright side? All this gloomy weather has put me on a serious writing jag. Better Than You is winding to a close and I had no idea my tiny, two chapter side project would grow to almost a hundred thousand words. It's been almost as much fun as getting slammed in the face with the gate last night, and almost as rewarding as picking mud out of my teeth. But just almost...
 
 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Better Than You: part 38


 

38.

 

Mike’s phone rang at the bottom of the stairs and he answered it with a tired-sounding,“Yeah?”

 

Delta toed off her pumps and set them neatly beneath the coat rack in the foyer while he had a short conversation with whoever was on the other line, gave his thanks, then hung up.

 

“Mitch,” he explained. “His brother’s in insurance and I needed to get an address.”

 

She nodded, not wanting to press for info that was clearly none of her business.

 

He rubbed the back of his neck, expression reluctant. “Tam and I hafta take care of something tomorrow morning.”

 

“Okay.”

 

He watched her and she realized that he was waiting, wondering which one of them would initiate the painful series of apologies that needed to be spoken. He would, his wounded green eyes told her, submit to her and come groveling if that’s what it took. But she knew, as she tried again to swallow the lump in her throat, that she didn’t want him to do that. She didn’t want to hear what a hero he was and then force him to beg. He was a caveman – her caveman – and she didn’t want to take that away from him.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mud

“You could make a poultice out of mud to cool a fever. You could plant seeds in mud and grow a crop to feed your children. Mud would nourish you, where fire would only consume you, but fools and children and young girls would choose fire every time.”
George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons




This passage from A Dance With Dragons gave me goosebumps the first time I read it.  A true love story, one grounded in reality and not fleeting dreams, is built upon mud, and not fire.

Better Than You: part 37


37.

 

She went home: to her parents’ house, to her old room, to the life she’d left behind years before. People said – so many mindless people repeating overused phrases they didn’t understand – that you couldn’t go home. That wasn’t true. Her home was unchanged, and sleeping between the fluffy covers of her childhood bed, she was no different than she’d been back then; walking across the threshold had catapulted her back in time, to a place where she was uncertain and grasping, lonely and crushed, grieving over something so precious that going on without it felt insurmountable.

 

Delta had never before taken vacation time for anything personal, but she’d already secured the days she’d need for her honeymoon. Going into work would have been such an obvious sign, her coworkers would have been whispering behind her back. So she took her honeymoon in the sultry, humid escape of the garden, reading, avoiding her parents and their hateful glares, steeling herself for the inevitability of retrieving her furniture, and most of all, analyzing every moment that had passed between her and Mike. Not just in Ireland, but before, from the moment she’d laid eyes on him in her store to the moment she’d watched his wide shoulders disappearing through the crowds at Hartsfield-Jackson when they’d landed. She recalled every smile, every touch, every lingering moment of eye contact, every kiss, every word, sweet or otherwise.

 

She spent a week drowning herself in literature and torturing herself with the realization that had come to her.

 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Better Than You: part 36


36.

 

All the next day it rained. The white sweeps of satin, the bundles of tulle, the ribbons and cut flowers, the lanterns, the red carpet…all of the finery took on water until it was as gray and muddied as the churning surface of the lake. There was no wedding. The castle didn’t notice. But Mike watched the breeze unwind a long, once-white silk ribbon from around the bole of a tree until it clung by just an end, lifting and diving in the rain. He let his forehead rest against the cool dampness of the window and looked all the way across the lawn, toward the lake and the place where he was supposed to be married.

 

He stayed in his room. Walt and Jordie and Dad all came by to sit on the side of the bed with him and offer wisdom – which was none. Tam had found an earlier flight back to Dublin – no doubt he’d maxed out his credit card doing it.

 

His mom was the female to finally brave the door. It must not have been latched because she didn’t knock, but came in unasked. Mike knew it was her before she came and took the honorary place of advisor beside him on the bed; the smell of her perfume was something ingrained in his memory – in all the Walker children’s memories – and even if he’d dreaded it as a teenager, hiding smokes and porn mags under his bed, there was a comforting familiarity about it now.

 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Better Than You: part 35


35.

 

Dennis and Louise had not just a room, but a suite, complete with sitting room, and that was where the four of them now stood. At least, Mike stood, and Dennis was squared off from him, his tan hands braced on the back of an embroidered chair. Louise was sniffling into a wadded tissue in the matching chair. Delta, her hair wet and curling, was perched in the windowsill, watching the black night and the jagged tongues of lightning through the drapes left parted. Her profile ghostly white, dark lashes low on her cheeks, she was as breathtaking as always. And as cold and aloof as always.

 

“We need to talk,” Dennis had growled out in the hall, and Mike had followed him in here, thinking that maybe, just maybe, there’d be something like need shining in Delta’s eyes. But he’d been mistaken. And like hell was he enduring a lecture from this rich jackass for the fun of it.

 

“Look,” Mike started to turn for the door, mind still away with blood- and mud-spattered Tam and wherever he’d crawled with a bottle, “I don’t have time for this shit -,”

 

“You won’t go anywhere,” Dennis had a commanding, courtroom voice when he chose to use it, “until you’ve explained that damn Jerry Springer episode I just watched down there!”

 

A personal attack he could have handled; an attack on his family – and even if he was a miserable, sister-screwing ass right now, Tam was his family too – was too much to tolerate.

 

Thorn

“It was not the thorn bending to the honeysuckles, but the honeysuckles embracing the thorn.”
Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

There's honeysuckle here, I promise! On the fence to the right.


Sometimes, when I'm writing, I manage to find relevant tidbits from the greats. I stumbled across this quote and realized it's been too long since I read Wuthering Heights. And it made me think about Delta, who loves Bronte. And it made me think about Tam, who is the thorn embraced by the honeysuckles.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Better Than You: part 34




34.

 

As a very little girl, Delta had stood up at the counter in the laundry room, standing on a stool beside Mrs. Miller as the housekeeper’s hands deftly smoothed and folded every starched white napkin, setting them aside in tidy piles. Delta had always marveled at the simple magic of the task, the assuredness in Mrs. Miller’s hands – hands rough and worn and made for the precise rituals of the house. In her own world – the working, breathing, thriving bowels of the big house – Mrs. Miller had been a queen in her own stoic way. She knew things. She understood things. There was a steadiness about her that Delta had wished belonged to her mother instead.

 

One morning, after a particularly volatile fight between her parents in the drunken aftermath of a dinner party, Delta had watched the folding of the clean napkins and announced, “I’m never getting married.”

 

“Oh, don’t be silly,” Mrs. Miller had scolded with a smile in her voice. “Of course you will.”

 

“I won’t,” Delta had insisted, kicking her chin up. “Not ever.”

 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Better Than You: part 33


 

33.

 

The rain fell softly, gracefully, gray and gentle over Billingsly. Delta watched it through one of the windows that overlooked the lawn from the mezzanine, letting her mind go spinning away from everything that was wrong until she was just a girl watching rain through a window; she took a slow breath and let the place – the castle and its majesty – pull her up out of her mental muck.

 

It couldn’t last, though. Another wedding had upstaged hers, a little fact her mother had failed to mention, and the mezzanine and ballroom weren’t available for the ceremony. Maureen had told her this like she already knew it: “But your mum assured me…” Louise hadn’t even bothered to tell her she’d been incorrect in her thinking for weeks.

 

Ryan Atkins had come out the loser in a bar brawl with Tam and his face, according to reports, looked like an overripe plum. She knew why Tam had attacked him – the motive, anyway – but what she didn’t know was why Tam would sulk and fight rather than take his girl back. He, like Mike, like her mother, like everyone, seemed determined to disrupt the wedding at every turn.

 

She was exhausted by it all, and not sure she’d eaten since lunch the day before.
 

Night Check




Night Check

It's cold out: the kind of cold that bites to the bone and burns in your throat. Makes your teeth ache. There's frost on the grass, rhinestones in the velvet of the sky, a ring around the moon. A dog howls. An owl calls. It smells like smoke. Like wet earth. Like hay. Frost on the gate, sharp against my palm. The chain hits the fence. A whicker; AB sounds like a French cartoon villain. She's Canadian after all. Markus is black on black on black, a deeper darkness against the night. Flashlight. Crunch of carrots. Hay working into the cuffs of my jacket. Winter coats, soft and dusty. Quiet. So quiet. The world's asleep save them, and me, and the things with shiny eyes slinking through the leaves. Goodnight, horses. Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Better Than You: part 32


 

32.

 

Dad had a football. It was the first good news Mike had heard since leaving his house for the airport. After he was forced to trudge back down to the dining room and eat dinner without his girl, Randy told him about the football, and about the game they were having first thing the next morning. It had been raining – still was – the grass wet under their shoes, mud sliding, raindrops pelting them. It had been the perfect exertion, the best way to shake off the mood he was in…

 

Or, at least, it had been. Until Tam had put his elbow in Ryan’s eye. The others had bought the “it was an accident” story, but Mike knew better.

 

“You wanna explain that to me?” he asked, and paced a circle through the rapidly-expanding puddle that had dripped off his clothes and down onto the tile of the vestibule.

 

Tam had his arms folded, his wet clothes clinging to skin that almost looked blue in the cold gray light, his hair plastered flat to his head and dripping at the ends, leaned back against the wall. “It was an accident,” he repeated in a wooden voice and stared at the opposite wall.
 

Morning

 
 
The horses are out, stalls cleaned, coffee is on and the writing begins.
Yes, I am the most boring person on the planet. 



Monday, January 7, 2013

Better Than You: part 31


31.


Regina was awake and sitting up in bed, flipping through a Cosmo, the TV babbling away when Delta got back to the room. She wasn’t ever self-conscious in front of her best friend, but with darkening bruises on her skin and her underwear stuffed into her purse, her hair tangled beyond what her fingers had been able to repair, she felt a shameful blush creep across her skin as she walked in front of the TV on her way to her bed.


Regina’s sex radar must have gone off. Her head came up and a smile curled the corners of her mouth as she watched Delta round the bed and go to her suitcase on the floor. “Someone get lost on her way back from dinner?”

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Better Than You: part 30


30.

 

Mike slept like hell. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d shared a room with another guy – college, he guessed – and while he might have fallen asleep on the couch every so often while Tam and Jordan were over, all of them waking in the small hours to realize they were still in their chairs and slumped on the floor and not at all comfortable, Lance’s snoring and restless turning kept him awake. Or maybe that was the mix of anger and regret swirling around in his gut thanks to Delta. Or maybe being told he couldn’t share a room with her had left him needing to share a room with her, chafing under authority.

 

Whatever the reason, he was glad for the morning. Breakfast was already being cleared away from the dining room as he made his way to it. He snagged an apple off a passing trolley cart of leftovers wheeling down the hall and ducked through one of the sets of French doors. The outer doors to the patio were open, the morning bright, a breeze stirring the drapes and bringing in the smells of wet earth and lake water. Guests lingered at the tables with coffee and tea, and only two of them were familiar to him. He’d thought he’d run into Delta, but then he remembered she probably had some damned photo something or other, and bit into his apple: it was a Granny Smith, tart and cracking. Then he joined Jordan and Tam where they sat talking about something that had Jordan leaning over the table in earnest, gesturing with his fork.

 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Better Than You: part 29


 

29.

 

Mike was waiting for her outside the main dining room in a clean white shirt and pressed khakis. He’d showered, she could tell, because his hair was soft and shining. He looked just the way he was supposed to. It was his smile that faltered her step.

 

It wasn’t the smile he normally gave her – boyish and excited, hinting at aren’t I cute and you’re smoking hot. She’d come to lean on that smile, had let it into the cold corners of her heart and let it warm her, had stopped trying to steel herself against it. This smile, though, as he lingered in the hall, was coolly polite and subdued. No great amount of affection shone through his eyes. His feelings or his pride…something was hurt, and she knew it was her fault because of what had happened upstairs.

 

Now she had a man to cheer up in addition to welcoming the guests that waited on the other side of the open French doors – she could hear the buzz of voices, knew that dinner wouldn’t be served until she’d done her little speech bit. She forced her lips – they were stiff and heavy with fatigue – into what she hoped was a genuine smile and sidled up to her fiancé, slipped her arm through his.
 

Realization



I was feeling a bit nostalgic for the days of lords and ladies and elegance...

And then I realized I wouldn't be one of the ladies. I'd be Eliza Doolittle.
 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Better Than You: part 28

** Short one tonight. I'll make up for it tomorrow!


28.

 

“…and through there…”

 

Delta didn’t listen to flaxen-haired Tilda who’d greeted them on the front steps. As they passed beneath the cavernous, hand-painted ceiling – it was alive with a forest full of cherubs and lounging nude women – Delta’s eyes went past the grand stair that spilled down from the mezzanine, a waterfall carpeted in crushed red velvet, to the ballroom that lay beyond. She’d seen it online and in the brochures, but the glimpse of gilt-framed paintings, cathedral ceilings and terrazzo floors was enough to take her breath away.

 

That is, it would have if she wasn’t already semi-breathless with nerves.
 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Better Than You: part 27

**Since this is a prequel-turned-parallel novel, I want to touch on some scenes from Keep You in a new light, but won't be redundant with others. So if parts seemed skipped over, it's because the scene was already set in Keep You. This is more of a new look at certain interactions from the other side and bonus material, if you will. Hope you all continue to enjoy!
 
 
27.

 

The morning they were to leave for Ireland, Delta’s alarm was set for three, but her eyelids flipped open at two. Totally awake. Startled from sleep by some snippet of a dream that was already receding and she couldn’t grab hold of.

 

Something was wrong.

 

She was alone in bed because she and Mike had spent the night in their respective places. Her apartment was bare, only the bed remained and after she left today, the movers would come disassemble it and take it to her parents’ home where she would store it. She should have slept over with Mike, but she’d been kept here by this nagging sense that, for the last night it belonged to her, she should stay in the apartment.

 

And now she was awake, and something was wrong.
 

In Serial

I have a soft spot for historical romances set in Regency England. Maybe I'm a sucker for a true gentleman. I do love the pageantry and formality. Shhh...don't tell anyone. I don't want the cool kids to poke fun of my guilty pleasure reading.

I'm reading The Lady Chosen by Stephanie Laurens right now and am kind of totally loving it.

I stumbled across a box of my mom's romance novels getting ready for Christmas and was happy to find that the one I'm reading is a part of a series. Books are like those little individually wrapped Dove chocolates - one is good, seven are better. Like chocolate, I like to have a little stockpile, a stack of unwrapped books waiting for me on my shelf. And let's face it, everyone loves a good series she can sink her teeth into.

There are roughly two frameworks in which I categorize series: the first is one continuous story stretched over several books, individual climaxes and challenges ramping up to the final climax. And then there are those like the one I'm reading, in which each new book focuses on a different character or set of characters, the others from the universe making cameos. Both have their merits, but I prefer the second kind. I like staying "in-universe" so to speak, but moving on to a new problem.

There are exceptions, though, because I'm obsessed with the Song of Ice and Fire series and it's a continual narrative. But in Martin's work, the character development is believable and engaging, and the books, despite being 1500 pages a piece, don't feel artificially stretched. That happens, sometimes - the stretching - and you start to realize that there was no real reason for the story to go on for this many books.

I'm trying to find some middle ground with my series - focusing on a new couple while keeping threads from the other couples a part of the story. They have cameos, but they're big cameos.

However a writer does it, there's no doubt a series is very attractive to readers. If you love something, you want more of it.