amazon.com/authors/laurengilley

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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

“The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region, and seems to be commander in chief of all the powers of the air, is the apparition of a figure on horseback without a head […] However wide awake they may have been before they entered that sleepy region, they are sure, in a little time, to inhale the witching influence of the air, and begin to grow imaginative – to dream dreams, and see apparitions.”
 
~Washington Irving
 
 
I've talked about Washington Irving before. I talk about him too much. My muse. And this time of year makes him seem an appropriate conversation topic.
 
But no one wants to hear me wax on about Irving. It's Halloween!

I have always loved this holiday to distraction, but I haven't put much effort into it in a long time. I had a party to go to last weekend, and my costume inspiration was this pic of Jeff and Britta from Community:



Leather jacket? Check. Cat ears? Check. The lazy way out, but I haven't felt much like dressing up since that awkward Dorothy moment from elementary school. My mom handmade my blue gingham dress; I had ruby slippers and a basket and a little stuffed Toto. And at one house, a girl I went to school with answered the door. She was my age, but about five feet taller than I was. She gave me a Regina George smile and said, "Awww! Look at little Lauren, all dressed up as Dorothy. Hooow cute."

It wasn't embarrassing at all.


Everyone be safe and eat too much candy. I'll be spending my evening writing, trying to meet that December deadline.



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Woods



 
 
Ooh, ya'all...I just had a Walker-related idea...
 
That two weeks I took off aren't helping my concentration.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

First Frost



 
 
It's always an October phenomenon. And as bitter as it is, it's beautiful too. And the way it smells...love. Crisp and snowy, with an undercurrent of smoke. Love, love.
 
What I also love: The tile is done. Finally! After eight hours of grouting on Thursday, the patio is completely finished. On one hand, I don't ever want to do anything like that again. But on the other hand, I know how to lay tile now, and that feels like an accomplishment.
 
Leaves have already invaded and I was too lazy to sweep them out of the pics. Oops.
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Two Worlds

Reason #217 why I can't stop writing: Hopping between worlds. Literal worlds, sometimes, if we're talking fantasy. But subtle, figurative worlds. I love the Walkers; they were my first fictional family, my babies. And they were 100% metro Atlanta suburban, small yards, crowded drives, carpool, chain grocery stores and all. I like the universal aspect of the setting: a common place, with characters who were relatable in a lot of ways, but uncommon in spirit and connection. It was fun: my experiment in making ordinary extraordinary.

The Russells, though, are part of a whole other Southern world. They're country, and rural, street savvy, and counter culture around the edges. They're more honkey-tonk than soccer mom. Boots and muscle cars and dirt under their nails. Theirs is a world shunned by townies, but it's a real world, and it has its own kind of art. That's my challenge with this series: Bring this world to life, show its real shadows, and not just jumble a bunch of clich├ęs around. It's Old South meets Cali cool meets casual. It's standing up to a challenge, and taking care of yourself. And it is so much fun to write about.






Season for Writing


The writer in me loves autumn and winter. It's so much more atmospheric than summer, creatively anyway. And there's something about the cold that brings a story together. I love the smells, and the colors. I love cozy sweaters and knit hats and striped gloves. I love boots. I LOVE boots.

But, like the tree frog hanging out on the porch, I'm not ready for it to be cold! My loss is a reader's gain, though; the colder it is, the more I want to curl up and write.

Letting myself be inspired by the season; thinking Russell thoughts.











Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Walker Pins



Why is it so fun to decorate fictional houses? Pinterest has become my favorite place to find Rosewood visuals; there's all kinds of Victorian goodies on there. And though I'm never going to own a lakeside Victorian mansion, I can still scroll through pics and drool. I've got new stuff, and more coming, to check out on my Walker Visuals board over on Pinterest. It's helping energize me to finish the Rosewood story collection.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

DIY Week

 
 
Despite the weather's lack of cooperation, this has been one looooong week of DIY-ing. It's been a whole family-involved roster of projects.
 
All the way back to last weekend, the horses got new shoes, and my dad and I fixed the tractor. The bush hog attaches to the back of the tractor via a three-point hitch. One of the three bolts that locks it all in place came loose, fell off, and the bush hog was hanging awkwardly off the back, dragging the ground. It became a point of pride (for me at least) to figure the mess out ourselves and not have to call the John Deere guys out to get it hitched back up for us. If you've never unhooked a bush hog from a tractor and hooked it back up before, let me assure you, it's nothing like hooking a truck up to a horse trailer - it's much, much more complicated and tedious than that. But between the two of us, we unhitched, PTO and all, hitched back up, and then I finished bush hogging the pasture.
 
Yay. On to the next one.
 
Every year, the front porch needs repainting. Between the sun, rain, cold, and Riddick's claws scratching across it, the paint wears thin. So two new coats of gray paint went down on the boards. Not all the furniture is back in place yet.
 

 
 
Then, the fish pond needed to be emptied of its plants and cleaned out for the winter.
 
Check.
 
 
 
And then there's been the real project: Tiling the patio. I don't know if I've ever talked about the wretched shape this farm was in when my family bought it, but it was in some serious need of love and beautification. Years of neglect and, before that, years of bad taste, had left the place looking sad and, well, ugly. But the bones were there. And the motto all along has been that, if we want our dream of having a family farm to come true, we'll have to put some major elbow grease into it. We've always had more work ethic than money. So over the last few years, it's been a slow overhaul of the whole place, from fencing in all 18 acres, to making the barn livable for horses, to beautifying the house. When we moved in, the back patio was concrete painted the same color as the natural Georgia red clay. While smart - dirty boot prints wouldn't show - it was unseemly. So my mom painted the concrete in shades of gray for a softer look. It lasted for a while, and was really quite nice, but, like all things, the weather and time started to take its toll. The patio has been a sore spot for about a year now, and ideas were tossed around about how to give it a lasting makeover.
 
The solution? 13x13 porcelain tiles. The issue? None of us has laid a tile in our life.
 
This is where all those breakfasts while watching HGTV have come in handy.
 
My parents and I have laid tile all this week, over 400 of them. We've measured, cut, mudded, set, and grouted it all on our own. I hate to admit it, but I'm a little bit proud. I never would have thought this was something I could do, and here I've been on hands and knees all week, laying tile like a real contractor, and hurting all over for it. I have so much respect for guys who do this for a living! It's a full-body ache the likes of which I haven't felt since being trampled by a horse (and I mean that literally).
 
Looking at it now, knowing I had a hand in it...that's a good feeling.
 
Here's the before. It looks hideous, I know, and even worse once the furniture, back steps, and potted ferns were taken away. Eek!
 
First, a layer of gritty primer went down so the mud would stick to the concrete.
 
 
Then, the mud was mixed with water in buckets and slopped onto the concrete. It was smoothed, and grooved, and then the tile went down, with spacers between each one to ensure an even grout line.
 
 
At the edges, tiles had to be measured and cut with a wet saw to fit in the leftover gaps.
 
 
When the mud had dried (for 24 hours) the grout went down, slopped onto the cracks and smoothed in with a float.
 
Then excess grout was wiped up with a wet sponge. And left a clean, gray line of grout between each tile.
 
Sophie seemed to like it.
 
There's still a little grouting left to go. I'll post an after shot once it's all done and the furniture is back in place. As for this week, I'm looking forward to getting back into writing!


Thursday, October 17, 2013

On Pinterest

Late adopter, as always, I finally set up a Pinterest account. Mostly, I want to use it for book visuals and supplements. I already have Russell and Walker visual boards set up, and hopefully I'll keep filling them full of pics and be able to pin some personal stuff too. It should make for a nice way to organize and share all the little character style, and visual inspiration posts in one place. I struggle with social media, but maybe this will be fun.

You can find me there here. Hope you'll check it out. Like on Twitter, I follow back.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Line


She had been, was, would always be, the best thing that had ever happened to him. And for that reason, he’d work for her family, her dad, for the business, crusading with Ray and his Robin Hood identity crisis.
 
~Drew, God Love Her

           

Monday, October 14, 2013

Peace Offering

Introduction to Tractor Mechanics and Contracting 101: I hurt everywhere. Too...tired...to write...

In all seriousness, though, blogging, writing - it's going to be a couple of days until I'm back on track. There's so much to do around here! More of that fall prep-work I talked about. And I'm starting to feel not only anxious about being away from my writing, but guilty for not blogging. So: peace offering. Made for Breaking is still 99 cents, and Whatever Remains is on sale for 99 cents right now too.

Have a lovely next few days, and I'll be back soon...

Now 99 Cents 



Sunday, October 13, 2013

Another Bit


“…and I was like, I was totally on, man. You know? You know? I was, like…whoa.”

            Gym guys and their vocabularies. Beautiful. Lisa bit her lip against a sudden laugh and decided stopping by TKO had been a good idea, if for no other reason than it was a distraction. She threw a wave at Don as she passed the front desk – and the two twenty-something meatheads discussing their workouts – and headed straight for the back, where private lessons were held.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thursday Snippet - "God Love Her"

*Reminder that this is still in rough draft stage. Apologies for any typos!*
 
 
He couldn’t remember the last time he’d talked like this with a woman. Scratch that – he remembered with acute clarity the exact last conversation he’d had with a beautiful girl he gave a damn about. But it had been almost eighteen years since then, and save the time he’d spent around Cheryl and Lisa, he hadn’t been interested in what a woman had to say about anything. He didn’t share Eddie’s affliction – he wasn’t punching too many holes in a trophy belt – but he had a bad case of apathy.

            He loved the Russells, though. And the black-eyed, concussion-addled girl sitting on the bed with him was a Russell. That counted for a lot. That made small talk, mysteriously, important.

Cover Girl

I'm not that easily offended. That's a lie; I'm super sensitive. But, suffice to say, I was a four-eyed, brace-faced, LOTR-obsessed nerd growing up. I wasn't cool, and I knew it. I learned to deal with the ugly truth of criticism. But what I never could get over was the occasional untrue accusation. It happens to all of us. It's never easy to swallow. You wanna pick at me? Fine. But if you start suggesting I've been dishonest...that's not going to go over well.

At a book event, someone - a fellow writer, no less - complimented the cover of Dream of You. I was surprised and pleased. "Thank you!" I said. I wasn't about to tell anyone those were my shoes and my legs in the photo; I wanted to suspend the reality of it, hoping people would believe they were Ellie's legs, keep myself "out of the picture." But, then, she said, "Where did you find the photo? I know I've seen it before. Whose book was that on?"

source: reactiongifs.com

This bothered me for a couple of reasons.

1) Suggesting I'd plagiarized someone else's book cover.

Every single one of my book covers is an original photo; none of them are stock images I pulled off the internet. I don't have a problem with stock images, but I don't want to use them. I want to be original. And to put so much thought and effort and time and money into a cover...and then be called a thief?!? Okay...calming down.

2) Authors shouldn't behave like high school girls tearing one another down.

I've had some very positive experiences with other writers, but negatives ones too. Being snide helps a writer in NO WAY. Criticizing someone in such a petty way is about the worst advertisement an author could provide, not to mention, it's unnecessary. We're all in this together. The publishing world is tough enough as it is; writers should be polite and respectful...and I can't believe I have to even say that.

I didn't react when the comment was made. I told her those were actually my feet, and laughed, recounting the story of the picture, and how bright the sun was that day, and how I was too hot in jeans. The moment passed. Working on the God Love Her cover, I was reminded of the event, and it got me reflecting on my covers.

As a reader, I prefer subtle covers. Minimalist, even. I want them to tease the book because. I don't feel like the cover should tell me the whole story. This is why I'm not a big fan of having a person's face on the front; it ruins my mental picture of the character. So when designing a cover, I like for it to be simple. Then the question is: But will my readers think the same way? Will they connect with the cover? Will they want to know more about the book?

I can only hope so.

But I've had some good feedback. And hey, if someone thought it was good enough to be stolen, that's a positive, right? :)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tuesday Favorites


You know when you find something in the back of your closet that you haven’t been wearing, and you have no idea why not? I came across a pair of jeans today that I’ve had for two years and only worn once. They’re brand new still. A dark, stretchy pair of American Eagle Favorite Boyfriend jeans. I put them on and they’re super comfy. A little relaxed in the legs, but they fit great everywhere that matters. Okay, so why have these been sitting untouched for two years? I think I’ve been afraid to wear anything that wasn’t skin-freaking-tight to make up for my tomboy youth. Ridiculous. No one’s going to accuse me of being sexy, so one pair of jeans won’t make a difference. And this is like I’ve gone shopping and have new jeans. New favorite jeans.

They still have them at AE, so I put a link in the pic. I absolutely love their jeans. They fit. They fit so well. And that’s the thing about jeans: not every girl can wear every label. I spent years and years belting and hiking and struggling with jeans that fit like wet burlap. When you find the brand that hugs just right, it’s a beautiful thing.





I’ve been gluten-free for about a year and a half now, for health reasons. I really don’t miss most of the food. I’m not a foodie, I don’t like to eat, so I get by with salads, grilled chicken, and mix in gluten-free crackers and pasta here and there. But sometimes, you just crave something, you know? I figured out that a toasted gluten-free bagel with Nutella tastes a lot like a chocolate frosted doughnut. Word to the wise.


 
 
In my search for the perfect chap stick, I’m trying Maybelline Baby Lips, and really digging it. It’s buttery soft and smells sweet.
 
 
Now that it’s fall, it’s time for my favorite nail color.

 

 
Today, I’m also working on potential covers for God Love Her. This is my fave so far.
 
Sometimes, it’s good for me to stop and make a list of the day’s favorites. Helps cancel out the not-so-favorites.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Working Weekend

 
 
Saturday morning: another hay run morning. Guys who cut hay for a living don't load trucks in the middle of the afternoon, so it's up and away, two truckloads and back.
 
I hate riding with 15 bales in the bed of the truck. Every once in a while, one isn't balanced just so and the wind catches it and it goes flying off. Most of the time, if a bale hits the road, it explodes, hay goes everywhere, but no one gets hurt. But sometimes they stay intact. And when there's someone tailgating me, I always stress that I'll go over a pothole, lose a bale, and it'll land on the guy's windshield. I have serious worries about this; I'm not even kidding. Public safety notice: Don't tailgate anyone with a whole pickup truck full of hay. You'd hate to have Killed In A Fiery Hay bale Crash be etched into your tombstone. And I don't want to be brought up on some kind of vehicular homicide charges.
 


Disaster was avoided this time. There's nothing more splendid than a fresh stack of hay. Mmm...smells like sunshine, and security.

The rest of my oh-so-exciting weekend was spent scrubbing down the front porch, readying it for winter. There's always this flurry of winter prep chores around the farm this time of year. I've got all the horse blankets washed and ready. The pastures are mostly bush-hogged.

I think I need another weekend to recover from this weekend.



I'm so ready to dive back into writing. 54,000 words and counting! Plus Rosewood. Plus Slight of Hand. The irons in the fire are making me dizzy.

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Rosewood - Part 15


 
 
Chris parked beside a detached garage that he informed her housed his dad’s deer dressing equipment. Jess decided she’d rather not find out what that entailed, and followed him to the cabin. What was left of it, anyway.

            Picking her way carefully across the pine cone-laden drive in her stilettos, she hugged herself against the nip in the breeze and tried not to panic. The tree looked like it had been struck by lightning, great charred fingers of black snaking in jagged patterns from the place where the trunk had split. White slivers of wood had showered on all sides. The air still smelled of sickly sweet sap and rot. It was a skinny pine, but tall, and it had crashed right through the roof and taken a tree-shaped bite out one exterior wall, and whatever it had gone through inside.

Made for Breaking - 99 cents

It's supposed to be a rainy, cool, yucky weekend here on the east side of the country. And I love nothing better than reading a new book on a rainy weekend. So the first Russell installment, Made for Breaking, is back at 99 cents. I'm trying to spread the word, so tell your friends. It's been my record-breaking seller, and I'm so glad to share it.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Rosewood - Part 14


 
 
 
“It’s beautiful.”

            And it was, but not in a way she felt like putting into words. It would make her sound young, girlish, and silly, and she wasn’t any of those things anymore. The road curved gently through the foothills, jagged outcroppings of rock shading the pavement. Trees marched up the steep hillsides, their ranks thick and varied. The pines were tall, thin, bowing in the autumn wind. The maples were all in tatters, their tops bare, striated limbs tickling at the pine boughs, their lowers heavy with brilliant yellow and orange leaves. The sycamores were white and bare. The cypress looked like shadows between the hardwood trunks. Morning sun gilded the crests, teasing at what lay beyond, making her hungry for higher elevations and loftier views. And above them, the sky was such an intense blue it looked ready to crack, the finest of glazed china.

            Behind the wheel, Chris leaned forward to peer through the windshield, up toward the hills. “Especially this time of year,” he agreed. “It’s quiet up here. Just the trees.”

            Just the trees and the two of them.