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Thursday, February 28, 2013

In case you ever thought about getting a Dobie...

If you've ever seen one in a movie, or on the street, you've probably thought to yourself: That's a Doberman. Or, even: That's a Doberman Pinscher. If you've ever talked to someone who owns one, you heard "Dobie," because to have a Doberman is to be a Dobie person. And to be a Dobie person is to understand that you will never have a moment to yourself ever again.

Some nerdy facts: The Doberman was developed circa 1890 in Germany by Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann, a tax collector in need of a dog who was excessively intelligent and loyal to protect him while he made collections calls. I'll spare you the particulars - the blending of bloodlines that involved Greyhounds and Rottweilers, among others - and just say that the finished product of years of careful breeding was a dog bred for the rare and exclusive purpose of protecting humans. There are plenty of protective herding dogs: all breeds of shepherd. And there are dogs used for guarding property, but the Dobie guards people - his people. They become deeply attached to their owners and will defend them to the death.

That's the official word. The unofficial word?

They're goofballs. Under all the muscle and murderous fangs, they're the biggest doofuses.

A Dobie will follow you from room to room in the house; and they ARE house dogs. With that short coat and their co-dependant personalities, they are NOT a chain-to-a-doghouse kind of dog.

Dobies need blankets in winter time because their hair is supershort and fine and they will shiver and their teeth will chatter without one. (Riddick's is the Horseware German stripe pattern because he's more fashionable than I am).

Dobies do not play fetch. They do not retrieve balls, duck dummies, or actual ducks. If you throw their toys, they will look at you like you've lost your mind. They're too logical for repetitive games.

Dobies lean. They want to be touching you whenever possible. They want you to pet them at all times. They curl up at your feet and do not take well to separation. This is a good thing, in a way, because a Dobie won't run away from home. In this way, they make great farm dogs.

Dobies WILL terrify the holy hell out of your cable guy/furnace repairman/meter reader. It's the ears. And the size. And the teeth. And the snarling.

Dobies are hyperactive. None of the breed lit tells you this, but they are. They are busy busy busy and need generous time for exercise.

Dobies will love you more than any breed of dog, and when they don't feel well, they cry and whine and lean on you extra hard and keep you up at night...or maybe that's just mine.

Riddick has either torn or ruptured his cranial cruciate ligament and is going in tomorrow for x-rays, scans, and surgery. He's spent the past week waiting for surgery doing a whole lot of crying and very little sleeping because it hurts too badly to lie down. He and I both need some sedatives at this point, because he's like a 94 pound whiny toddler. Post-op, he's looking at 12 weeks of confinement while he rehabs. Lord...

So if posting becomes a bit sporadic, it's because my 94 pound toddler is monopolizing my free time. That's the thing about Dobies - they aren't the dog for anyone who doesn't want the full dog experience. And they don't understand anything about writing novels or personal deadlines.

They've got the sad puppy eye routine down pat, though.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Pro List

Writing my final Walker novel is...painful at times. It feels big and unwieldy: like a big-headed baby just learning how to walk that I'm running behind ready to catch. Okay, bad simile. See? It's robbing me of basic brain function. It's probably more like a belligerent teenager shooting me the bird. I think, on some level, I'm sad to let go of them, so I want to see all of them riding off into their individual sunsets in the best possible way. I'm agonizing over the details. I don't want the final volume to be the weakest link.

So when I get stressed, I remind myself why, overall, writing a series of novels is so rewarding:

1) No stubbed-toe endings. Instead of tying up very loose ends too quickly and too unbelievably, some conflicts can stretch between books the same way they would stretch across years in real life.

2) Continuity. I - we - get to revisit characters. Original characters become the supporting players for new characters, and the family, and the fictional world, builds.

3) This is my favorite: Growth. There are certain situations and challenges that just don't arise in the first few weeks of acquaintance. There are emotions that can't be evoked too quickly. Arriving at important life stages with characters has to happen over time, and a series provides an opportunity for that. It gives me the chance to write snippets like these:

Somehow, Jo had always thought growing up would feel like becoming a whole new person. But it didn’t. It felt like first day jitters and letting go of childhood hopes and the warm squeeze of her heart as she listened to the boy who’d taught her how to skateboard singing their daughter the Allman Brothers.

For a wondrous golden second, they basked in the afterglow, not caring that it was four in the afternoon and they were naked in front of the windows. “I missed you,” Ellie whispered right against his ear. “Don’t ever think that I wasn’t missing you like crazy all that time.”

I'm still hoping for a March release date, but we'll see. I know Keep You has been seen as a young adult or new adult novel, but Fix You - Jessica's story - is a whole other beast entirely. That's another thing about series - they evolve.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Deleted Scene - Lunch

A deleted scene from Dream of You: a bit of fluff so sugary it makes my teeth hurt.


Characters copyright © 2013 Lauren Gilley

“Mom got our lunches wrong again,” Jordan announced and his thin, tanned legs folded up, dropping him cross-legged on the grass beside her. He leaned back against the hot bricks of the bell tower and dropped his gym bag off his shoulder, offered his sack lunch to her and reached for hers.

Jo had discovered as much in first period when she’d peeked into her brown paper bag and found an apple and two lidded plastic dishes, one full of crunchy peanut butter, the other cold hash browns. Barf. She accepted her own lunch – turkey and lettuce on wheat, chips, a warm Coke – and settled her shoulder blades against the bricks, eyes moving out across the campus that lay stretched before them: a maze of cobbled walks, Bradford pears with shiny dark leaves, and a collection of old brick buildings that all smelled of damp and BO inside.

Friday, February 22, 2013

More Fix You

So this was what it was like – waking up to a family. Waking up with responsibilities. Jess looked troubled, even in sleep, and she and Tyler seemed about as breakable as little birds cuddled together. They had belonged to someone – been some other man’s family – and they’d been given up. Turned loose. Rejected.

            In the army, he’d defended himself – his country and his fellow soldiers – but he’d never been afraid for himself. He’d never been riled and furious about his own safety. This was new and shocking and twisted: his personal need for violence.

            After he caught whoever was playing peeping tom outside their windows, he thought he might just have to pay Dylan Beaumont a visit. He’d never wanted to hit someone so badly in his life.

©2013 Lauren Gilley, Fix You

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

More Pitchers

You know you've heard someone Southern say "pitchers" when they meant "pictures." I won't ever get tired of all the cliche Southern things. So...look 'ere at these pitchers I done took.

I've been playing with the new camera again and experimenting with some possible Fix You shots in keeping with my shoe theme. I can't decide which look I like:


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Prayer

I think, more and more, that I should never have set out to BE an author. I should have lived life, searched for a husband, settled down, and at some point in the future, it would have happened somehow if it were meant to be. Trying to do things never turns out very well.

The Prayer of An Unknown Confederate Soldier

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve.
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.

I asked for health, that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.

I asked for riches, that I might be happy.
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.

I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life.
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing that I asked for—but got everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am, among all people, most richly blessed.

~ Author Unknown (duh) 

Monday, February 18, 2013


“I have scars on my hands from touching certain people…Certain heads, certain colours and textures of human hair leave permanent marks on me.”
J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction

I've been in a strange head space the last few days. Feeling off my game, I guess. I worked for years managing a horse farm and in that line of work, it didn't matter how tired or distracted or worried I was, the job was physical and I could always muddle through.

Muddling when the work is mental becomes a tricky thing. Getting sloppy with my writing isn't an option. When this happens - and it does, every so often - I have to school my thoughts in a more productive direction. Usually, it helps to focus on something quiet and aesthetic and remove myself from all that "helpful" Internet babble out there. So this week, I'm all about getting back to basics.

I have a new camera - and by "I" I mean "we," because my mom ordered it through work, so it's technically shared. I love my current camera, but this new one does some nifty new things.

Black and white photography will always hold a special place in my heart. It turns any image timeless and without the distraction of color, it lets texture shine through. As a writer, the more I can create texture in a reader's mind, the more successful I've been in creating a vivid story experience. Because there's a difference between saying "claws," "horse," "sconce," "branch," "thorn," and seeing...


I especially like this one because you can see the peeling paint on the arbor and the blurry barn in the background.
Keeping my feet firmly planted in this Georgia clay and steering clear of the publishing world crush makes me a happy, productive writer.  

Night Walks

They had belonged to someone – been some other man’s family – and they’d been given up. Turned loose. Rejected.
~Fix You

Sometimes a walk in the dark, the cold tunneling down into your legs, is more inspiring that anything else. I forsee a lot of them in my near future.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday Teaser

Happy Friday, all. Today was gorgeous here: the sky the perfect shade of blue with drop-biscuit clouds - flat and dark on the bottoms and fluffy on top. Running errands was a nice respite from the brain-snarling Fix You which is now 73,000 words and stressing me to no end. Expect more side-stories and poetry because they are helping me stay sane and because I'm too attached to these stupid Walkers for my own good.

     Bit by bit, the cottage was transforming into a place that belonged to Tam and Jo. Their furniture was hand-me-down, but Jo was acquiring other things: pots and pans from the rack above the stove she didn’t know how to use, picture frames and knick-knacks. Every day it looked cleaner, brighter, newer. At the table situated between the small kitchen and living area, Jo, Willa and Tyler made a sweet, pretty picture in the new morning sunlight, coffee and Pop-Tarts steaming.

            Jo looked up in silent inquiry as Jess pulled out the chair beside Tyler and sat.

            “Men,” she explained, sucking at the burn on her hand.

            “Ah, yes,” Jo said. “Men. What are ours planning?”

            “Yours and the other one,” Jess corrected with a frown. “There is no ours.”

            Jo smiled.

            “And they’re planning something stupid.”
--Fix You

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


I've still got Ellie and Jordan on the brain.


A shiny black crow’s feather;
A freckled white stone worn smooth in a creek bed;
A pig snout of half a walnut shell;
A cobalt button in the shape of a heart, three holes for thread;
A silver locket of costume jewelry and its myth of pirate treasure.
Tokens from the yard as precious as gemstones to their finders,
Ghosted with the prints of a pair of honey-headed girls.
Propped along the window sash, silhouettes against the autumn sun;
They are Jane’s soft smile and Lizzy’s peal of laughter.
No one ever told him how priceless such presents could be.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Best Thing About Writing

In real life, I'm inelegant. I cuss like a sailor. I'm jaded and cynical and quiet; I'm hard to get to know and I don't inspire much thought in others. I'm not too keen on children. I'm boring and earthy and opinionated.

But when I write...when I tell a story...

I get to wax poetic and philosophical. I get to bring out the big guns - the emotions and impactful words; the pretty moments. Sarcastic in real life, I get to be genuine on paper. I'm drawn to beautiful things. I crave artful, simple elegance. When I write, I get to say fluffy, silly lines that just don't get spoken aloud in this day and age. And best of all, I don't have to be me - I have the chance to become a narrator, a channel through which characters can communicate to the audience. I get to tuck myself neatly out of the way and let my imagination run wild.

Monday, February 11, 2013

That four-letter L-word

“I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.”
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
This novel is two hundred years old this year and still resonates; is still relevant; is still true. I've finally realized that writing a love story is not the same as writing a romance, and I for one am glad for the difference. Thanks, Jane, for being an inspiration worth striving to live up to. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Concerning Jordan and Ellie

There are things Jordie will never tell his girl, but he thinks them anyway.

She was silence in a world of sound,
Mercury in a porcelain frame,
Innocence and sweetness in undiluted purity.
Her mind was rich;
Her heart was bottomless;
Every part of her humbled him.

Joy and light,
Melancholy and thought,
Intense in a way the world was not.

She complicated his life.
Because of her, he felt things;
Things that did not need feeling.
Loving her was realizing that ordinary was so very vivid in her eyes.
Loving her was realizing that he’d never truly loved anyone before her.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Thursday Things

1) I want some French fries. Really want. I don't think I could tolerate this gluten allergy if I'd had to give up potatoes.

2) You probably don't care that I want French fries.

3) Better Than You is live. Finally! Amazon took its sweet time, but now it's there, so here are the links:

Better Than You paperback

Better Than You Kindle

What started as a an intended two or three page story became its own volume, and that's largely thanks to the great traffic the chapters were getting. So thank you, all, for giving me the push I needed.


Before Ireland, before the castle, before the wedding that would reunite childhood sweethearts Jo and Tam, there was Delta Brooks and the man who came crashing into her life a week before Thanksgiving.


Born into a wealthy Atlanta family, cold and smart and discriminating, Delta hasn’t ever expected anything more than cool civility from her romantic relationships. Determined to please her parents, she’s spent years dating the sort of men she’s supposed to desire…but none whom she truly wants. Then a clumsy, obnoxious customer asks her to dinner, and Delta realizes what she wants is something she never expected.


Michael Walker may have elevated himself above the middle class standards of his family, but nothing has prepared him for the princess of a woman he finds in Delta. He loves her and knows she deserves better than him, and nothing proves that like the ornate wedding he finds himself a part of in an Irish castle. Hampered by his family and best friend, Mike has nothing to lose but her.


Emotional and literary, experience the prequel to the Walker Family Series and the love that started it all.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Unplanned Volume

She didn’t understand love, not the golden, shimmering, romance-novel stuff that existed between mates. She was skeptical of it, and had never been one to pretend that it existed just for the sake of excitement. She didn’t know what it looked like, what it felt like…at least, she hadn’t. But she realized, amid the dancing tendrils of ivy that climbed the gazebo, that love – that good, golden kind she’d always discounted – didn’t arrive with a blast of trumpets and an earth-shattering epiphany. It was earned, formed, created, day by day, a little at a time. And it looked like Mike eating toast over her kitchen sink, felt like his hand smoothing her hair back off her face, sounded like his sudden shout of laughter when she spilled a whole sack of flour out of the top cabinet down onto her head in his kitchen, tasted like the kiss he used to make up for it.
~Better Than You

Better Than You goes on sale tomorrow! I guess it's only fitting that the story I never meant to write took longer than I ever expected to proofread and polish. I'll make an  official announcement when it goes live, and until then, just know how thankful I am for your readership.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Tapestries We Weave

A few weeks ago I posted about the Judith McNaught novels I was re-reading. If you read that post and asked yourself if I write like her, then I have to tell you the answer would be "no". Too often lately I've seen books advertised as being "inspired by" the works of others. Or the covers promise: "If you loved So-and-So, you'll love this book." This is all well and good for marketing, I suppose, but I don't ever want to think I'm writing trend fiction, or copycat fiction, trying to keep up with a pace some other writer has already set. I have an eclectic taste in books - reading everything from Regency romance to high fantasy, to horror, to general fiction. I've been deeply in awe of some fantastic writers. Had my confidence bolstered by other writers. And while I have a background in classic literature study, I think, more than anything, my writing style has been shaped by the patterns of my daily life. I like to write about real people - or, rather, fictional people who feel real.

Last week was shrouded in fog.

The sunsets were stunning.


A tornado skirted around the edge of town, leaving a river rushing through the middle of the pasture.

I wrote and I got rained on and I ate and I laughed and I spent ten minutes cowering in the back hall with the dogs, a quilt, and a weather report while I waited for the storm to pass. Saturday brought with it a successful trip to stock up on hay - which is now a mountain that the cats love climbing.

Exciting plots twists and big, dramatic moments are easy enough to imagine. But it's hard to fabricate the little things. I think all the little things in my life have given me a greater appreciation for details and realism. And I think nothing complements an exciting, passionate story like a healthy shot of realism. That's the tapestry I try to weave. The browns and grays are just as important to the overall picture as the reds and blues.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Deleted Scene - That Was The Plan

That Was the Plan
(From Keep You)

In theory, change was an inevitable and good thing. People – general, run of the mill sheeple – said it all the time in some form or other. Tam had agreed in a certain way; had certain parts of his childhood, his life, changed, he might have been spared the trauma that had long ago cauterized his mental wounds. But there were things he wouldn’t have changed for the world. There were things he didn’t ever want to change – like the Walkers’ kitchen, which was, in all its outdated glory, unchanged since the last time he’d set foot on its linoleum floors. Beth Walker’s kitchen was the same as it had always been, and when he walked inside and breathed in the smell of dinner, it was like those four years he’d kept his distance evaporated. They were just a nightmare, a splash of a bad memory, and whatever had happened during that time meant nothing now.

“Oh, sweetie.” Beth was at the stove and she turned and pulled him into a hug, her fluttery hands patting across his shoulders as she squeezed him tight. “Oh, I’m so glad you’re home.”

Jo had said it; Mike had said it; Randy had said it – and now Beth was saying it too and confirming what he had, once upon a time, never dared to hope: He was home.