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

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Workshop Wednesday - Tame Lions

He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.”
C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
source: wikipedia
I started reading C.S. Lewis in elementary school, checking out one Narnia book at a time from the library and loitering among the shelves longer than my teacher's pass allowed. The amazing thing about him as an author is that, as a child, I loved the fantasy he'd conjured, and now, as an adult, I'm going back and reading through his non-fiction, and realizing that he was never an author of children's books, but such a bright thinker and creative mind who should be endlessly quoted. His writing is relevant on every level; his stories were never for children, but for everyone.

In The Problem of Pain, Lewis talks about lions - actual lions - and brings up the problem with that old "lion laid down with the lamb," parable. To very loosely paraphrase him, he says that to take away the lion's wish to kill the lamb would be to change what the lion is, and how can we value such a beast once we've stripped it of its lion-ness?

"I think the lion, when he has ceased to be dangerous, will still be awful: indeed, that we shall then first see that of which the present fangs and claws are a clumsy, and satanically perverted, imitation. There will still be something like the shaking of a golden man: and often the Duke will say, 'Let him roar again.'"

And this is where I take Lewis's words and most likely butcher them by applying his ideas to my own work. He's talking about animals...but also not. Because humans are animals as well.

I don't like when I'm reading a book in which humans are referenced as animals in a purely sexual sense. We're more complex than that; let's make the animal metaphors more subtle. I can't stand the predator/prey comparison in male/female relationships. Lions don't mate with lambs; they run them down, kill them, and eat them - literally eat them. The lion's mate - if she is to be a true mate - has to be a predator too. She can't be his food source. She has to be his partner. They can be different, their natures can compliment rather than compete. Wild lions, tame lions, zoo lions, deranged loner lions, strong lions, weak lions, maneater lions, leader lions and tyrannical lions - they all have claws. Male and female; black, white, brown - they can all roar.

I'm coming to the point - promise.

When it comes to character development, to creating mated pairs, I always take the lion into consideration. No one is ever one-dimensional. No one is ever "just the quiet one." It's not a case of the man being strong and taking care of the weak woman. Or the strong woman telling the weak man what to do. Please. Make me barf. They are both strong - they are both lions - even if their claws come out at different times, even if that strength shows itself in different ways.

Whatever kinds of relationships you're writing, whatever gender, race, sexuality, or creed, no one in these scenarios is ever the lamb. Respect your characters, and the readers will respect them. We're all lions. And even tame lions have fangs.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Lunch Break

Taking a break from the day's writing for leftover bacon penne. This is my favorite guilty treat. The sauce is - eek - butter, crushed red pepper, parsley, minced garlic, squeeze of lemon juice, lots of black pepper. Add gluten free penne, crumbled bacon, and lots of parmesan cheese. Divine. And it's one of those easy, add-to-taste recipes that doesn't need a formula. Goes great with grilled chicken, too.

I needed the fuel. Running on about three hours of sleep thanks to last night's storms. Some days, getting a whole paragraph typed is a victory.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Cover Reveal - Keeping Bad Company

Yesterday, I was playing around with cover ideas for the new Russell installment, and the cover I ended up with is nothing like my original plan for it. I always select the final cover from several - a gal needs options - but there's a definite front runner, and I wanted to share it this morning. It's an early version. It's a photo I've been sitting on for a while, of Riddick's foot (and claws). And I think once you read the book, having a dog's paw on the cover will make lots of sense.

Apologies for the watermark - photo belongs to moi.

Be on the lookout for a sneak peek sometime in the very near future. I'm so excited to share this one.

Happy Monday, everyone.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Greetings From the Garden



In all honesty, as much as I detest waking up at five-thirty, I like being awake at that time of the morning. I like watching the sun come up while the horses eat their breakfast. I like the way mist rolls off the neighbor's pond and sifts through the pasture like smoke. I am a morning person. Just not an alarm clock person. It's never not going to sound rude.

Yesterday's event started at eight, and, shockingly, there were people there shopping that early. I had a spot on the sidewalk, which turned out to be a perfect spot once the sun reached its zenith and the street turned tropical. Hottest day of the year, by far.

Here's my table.

And again. My brochures kept trying to blow away.

The street.

Here's a close-up of the bench you see in this photo. It was made from an old iron headboard. Gorgeous. I would have loved to have that. Out of my price range for sure.

I like in-person events like this because, in addition to selling and spreading the word, I get to watch the shopping process. What I'm coming to realize is that the cover of Made for Breaking attracts the most interest. That was the book that got picked up over and over and investigated. It's my bestseller online and now in-person, too. So that's cool.

It was a gorgeous day and good exposure for me. I still have moments when I think, "Wow, these people want to talk to me? They're interested in what I'm doing?" It's humbling and exciting and a little scary all at once.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Tomorrow is the Day

Let's try this again, shall we? My book sale and signing is tomorrow and I'm kind of excited about it. Kind of really excited about it. The weather's supposed to be - knock on wood - wonderful and I'm hoping for a nice turnout. Having an extra week to prepare has also left me...extra prepared. What do ya know. Not that there's anything to rehearse. But I did get a chance to take the time and think about my responses to some of the usual questions that come my way: the ones about my opinions on the books.

The stats break down like this:

Favorite book: Fix You

Favorite cover: Whatever Remains

Favorite female character: Lisa Russell

Favorite male character: Jordan Walker

Favorite prose: Whatever Remains

Current Project: Keeping Bad Company (Russells, #3)

Wish me luck and sunny skies. I may be on Twitter in the morning, but may not. Depends.

Also, the Goodreads giveaway closed at midnight and I was so excited to have 443 entrants! The five winners have been picked and I'll be mailing out the books next week. I'm thinking I might do a giveaway of Keeping Bad Company when it's released, so let me know if interested. I can do an ebook giveaway for international readers.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 24, 2014


“Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness.”
C.S. Lewis

There are innumerable books about sex; palaces of tomes on people; countless tales of events. Love is the defining delineator of books. If you want to write love, then read love. C.S. Lewis is a brilliant study in the finer emotions, and their unrefined manifestations.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Workshop Wednesday - Set in Stone
Atlanta skyline via Pinterest
As promised, a carry over from last week's Pat Conroy-centric topic. Today, it's about setting.

When I was much younger (read: when I was writing stories in my sophomore high school math class rather than paying attention) I was obsessed with the idea of creating my own towns. Everything I wrote unfolded in a tiny Southern town bursting with local growers and curmudgeony barkeeps. I was heavily influenced by real-life Southern town Social Circle, because it's adorable. And to a certain extent, I felt like creating a whole new place was part of my job as a writer. I felt like I needed to pluck a town out of thin air and give it life. No one would want to read about real places, would they?

I still love small-town stories - and there are a few books on the shelf that will eventually find the light of day set in make-believe places - but the thing about small Southern towns, most of them aren't self-sufficient. Georgia, especially, is a commuter state. Everybody drives everywhere, and we drive far. Within town-proper of those picturesque little places, you'll rarely find a hospital, grocery store, clothier, feed store, etc. Towns are tiny: you can go four miles down the road and move through three towns. So with my novels published thus far, I decided to go for real: Atlanta and its real satellite cities and towns. It's been a rather fun and enlightening study in the patterns of movement in this state. And it gives me more options.

Back to Conroy. He writes about the South Carolina low country where he grew up. In South of Broad he writes specifically about Charleston. Something I noticed: the landmarks of his creation blended seamlessly with those of the city. He effortlessly weaves imagination and stone, presenting the city with such cultural accuracy, while giving himself room to set up shop, so to speak, with fictional businesses, residences, entrepreneurs. He gave me some perspective on what I'm producing as a writer, because that's what I'm doing, working my own made up places into the streets of real cities.

The age-old writer advice of "write what you know" has always felt rather...unhelpful. The greatest books of all time were born from pure imagination. Anybody think Tolkien knew an actual hobbit? But writing what you know when it comes to setting...that works for Pat Conroy. That's been one of his claims to fame. I hope it works for me, too.

That's one of my South of Broad takeaways: don't discount what you DO KNOW just because it seems mundane to you. I know Marietta, and Kennesaw, and Cartersville, and Alpharetta - I know what those places feel like, smell like, act like - but my readers don't. Some of my readers are in the UK, and to them, I hope these places feel self-possessed and new, like diving into a world they've never seen. Pat Conroy has renewed my confidence in real settings.

I want to amend that tired old rule. Instead of "write what you know," how about, "don't throw out what you know."

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday Housekeeping

Some somber news on the extended family front has me housekeeping today, in a literal sense. Thought I'd go over a few housekeeping things here, too.

Some blog notes:

The Goodreads giveaway of God Love Her closes Friday - no more entrants after that. I'll ship the books out next week. I'm excited to have so many entered readers. There's always room for more!

Along the top of the homepage, with my other "Walker" and "Russell" pages and such, there's now a "For Fans" page, where you can find my contact info, links, and my general shy-girl awkward attempts to make readers feel welcome and free to get in touch with me. I love and appreciate all my readers and like to be available.

I'm about ready to share a sizable chunk of Keeping Bad Company here. I get more and more reluctant to share material in advance. It sucks that I have to worry about vultures, but c'est la vie, I guess.

WW tomorrow.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Easter

I hope everyone had a wonderful day yesterday. After two days of rain, our skies cleared to make way for a truly cerulean sky: perfect weather for festivities.

I posted these cupcakes on Twitter yesterday. Aren't they cute? A baker who works out of her home made them for my mom. She's so talented. Couldn't find anything like this in a grocery store.

I think I'm going to need to write standing up while doing squats and lunges to work off yesterday's dessert. I have a chocolate hangover.

Back to work. I'm hoping to get a solid few-thousand words done today and need to make a feed store run. Belated happy Easter!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Change of Plans

So the vendor event, and my book signing, got pushed back to next Saturday. Bummer. I had the truck all loaded, horses out, everything ready to go. Got up at five-thirty...and got the call that they'd rescheduled due to rain. Oh well. These things happen.

Slight change of plans: been working in the yard.

And made these yummy looking Nutella Krispie Treats for Easter dinner tomorrow.

The good news is, I'm fully prepared for next weekend, and hopefully it will be sunny and warm and the perfect day to John Hancock some books. As for tonight, I'm thinking baked potato soup, a glass of Pinot Grigio, and the season premiere of Orphan Black.

Friday, April 18, 2014


When you struggle with anxiety like I do, you learn early in life that preparation is your best friend. A lifetime of horse events helped hone that preparation to a science. A lot of thorough planning keeps me from forgetting the little details, and keeps my nervous streak in check. I like to make lists, and backup lists. And literally check them twice.

Here's how I'm getting ready for tomorrow:

- Night-before packing. That includes, tables, chairs, books, money for change, snacks, drinks, umbrellas, jackets, plastic bags for covering boxes (there's a good chance it'll be raining, which sucks, because water and cardboard boxes of books don't mix).

- Snacks: I make them the night before and pack them in my bag. Because I can never eat much in the mornings, and I need the food to hold all day, I usually go with peanut butter for protein, and a teensy bit of chocolate for a sugar pick-me-up. I take plenty of water, and a Coke. Not healthy, but it keeps the energy up, and it's what works for me. No way can I choke down egg whites and kale smoothies on a nervous stomach. Yuck.

- Inventory: I have all my books arranged by title, spines-out, for ease of grabbing. And I have an Excel inventory sheet so I can keep track of what I have, what I've sold, how many I have left. I like keeping records at stuff like this.

- What to wear: I pick out my outfit the night before, try it on, and lay it out so I don't waste time on something as stupid as clothes when I'm in a hurry the next morning. I always go with layers, to deal with any weather, and I make sure it's comfortable for sitting most of the day. No new outfits or tight dresses on a sale day. Shoes are low-heeled, comfy boots I can walk in.

- Promo material: all printed and ready.

- Little things: chapstick, gum, hair ties, hat in case of rain, paper and pen for taking down notes, email addresses, etc., nail polish for touch-ups (Sally Hansen Back to the Fuchsia).

I'll check back in tomorrow night. Wish me a rain-free day!

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Green is coming back to the world, in slow spills and sudden bursts. You can just make out the horses' backs in the first pic. The little white and black lumps way out toward the street.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Workshop Wednesday - Breathing Room

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was reading South of Broad by Pat Conroy. I finished last night before bed and shut the book knowing it was one I'd someday read again. If Prince of Tides left me frustrated, this one left me nostalgic. Conroy's lyrical prose combined with a loveable cast of characters made for a fantastic read - I highly recommend it.

As a writer, I can't just leave it there. I have to - like every time I read a wonderful book - take something away from it. Two lessons stood out for me. One, I'll save for next week's WW post. The other, I'll talk about today: the importance of breathing room in a novel.

Conroy's novels are dark. They touch on the sort of real life, wholly organic darkness that slithers through the shadows in towns everywhere, and is more monstrous than any supernatural creature of the night. That reality taps into fright receptors we'd rather leave untested. And it makes for a story punctuated by tragic moments. His tragedies are not ten-car pileups, one after the next; no, they are dropped like bombs at strategic moments, and in between, there is breathing room.

Stories need in-between moments. Spots of comedy, of sweetness, of friendship and reflection. Something to balance out the darkness. These moments give us as the audience a chance to take a breath, recover from the last shock. They are also the pathways through which we are able to reach and connect with the characters, build an affection for them. The heavier the darkness, the more crucial the breathing room becomes.

This kind of takeaway was so helpful for me right now because I'm at a point with my current WIP where I'm starting to feel a little frantic about all the action that's taking place. What it needs, I realized as I set South of Broad aside, was a little breathing room. Sometimes, we have to take a deep breath, step back, and wait a minute to drop the next bomb.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hook, Line and Sinker

One of my favorite things about writing novels is the magic moment when the hook happens. That one sentence that is the punchy tagline for the whole book. Keeping Bad Company is mostly Johnny's story, so the hook belongs to him.

"You can’t live in two worlds, Johnny; it’s time to pick one.”

Keeping Bad Company,
Copyright © 2014 by Lauren Gilley

Monday, April 14, 2014

Gearing up for the Signing

I mentioned on Friday that I've got a book signing coming up on the 19th, which is just - eek - a few days away. I didn't advertise it here before because most of my local buyers aren't blog readers, and most of my blog readers aren't local. Also because I hate advertising. Getting my promotional material ready for an event like this isn't my favorite thing in the world.

But, I'll be on the square in Dallas next Saturday with copies of everything and a brand new thin-line Sharpie. I'm really excited to have another book signing opportunity - it's fun to get the face-to-face feedback.

My books arrived from the printer last week and it was a...reality check, if you will. There were a lot of boxes.

There were a lot of books.

A year and a half ago, it started with...










I needed something sweet; I needed a break from genre, and my muse guided me to the Walkers.

Now I'm dipping my toe back into the outlaw world again (although, it's not so much dipping
anymore as plunging).

I've been drawn to stories I never anticipated writing. I've realized I tend to write the sorts of men I'd like to meet in real life. It's all organic and mysterious and it comes when it wants to. I would never have predicted this particular stack of books sitting on the dining room table. That's art, for you, though. It has a mind of its own.

I expect Keeping Bad Company will be out sometime this summer, but until then, I present to you my year-and-a-half's work in the humblest of offerings. It is my greatest dream to be able share what I love.

If you're in Dallas, GA next Saturday, I'd love for you to come see me! 8-3, roughly.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hoofprints on our Hearts

Horses are my home. The dusty inside of a barn will always be the mooring where I tie up my boat. My anchor. Before I understood life, I understood my connectedness to horses, the way dreams of them lived in my marrow. Before I learned that I was uncool, and small, and uninteresting, I learned how to run my hand down a cannon bone, how to pinch and lift a hoof. I learned how to wrap legs and hold reins and curry slick coats. I taught myself to French braid, not on a doll or a friend, but on Skip's red-black-brown tail, fretting slender strands together and together into an intricate pattern of intersecting lines. I did not wander the mall; I sat on stepstools and listened to the adults tell stories of their equine triumphs and tragedies. My hands learned the shape of wheelbarrow handles. My skinny arms learned to flick manure off the end of the fork and send it lightly into the muck bucket from ten paces away. I learned how to fall; how to get back up. I learned the magic of standing in the middle of a pen and having a wordless dialogue with a frightened, twelve-hundred pound animal, and being rewarded with his trust. I learned to dance in the center of a longe line circle. My wardrobe was one of baseball caps, muddy boots, and busted jeans. The symphony of my life was the clop of steel shoes on concrete aisle, the soft chewing of hay, the deep bellows breathing of a perfect dressage test. My childhood smelled of sun and hide and fly spray.

I was told that I would outgrow horses one of these days. I'd "grow up." I'd leave that childish life behind and get married, have babies. But I didn't outgrow it, and I learned a long time ago that I never will. Because it was never a stage. It's woven into my DNA. I'm not married, and I don't have babies, but that's because all these years of horses have taught me that I am an incurable tomboy, and I haven't yet found the mythical man who might find me interesting. And in the meantime, when the world mandates a different form of femininity from me, it is to sun-shot afternoons of waving grass and swishing horse tails that I retreat. I am in love with board fence, the sound of a tractor starting, with the gentle softening of big brown eyes as I am contemplated and accepted as part of the herd. It is to books that I race, when the need hits. I love the taste of words, the rustle of pages, the smell of ink, the vast, rich worlds that live between glossy covers.

I have entered a season of life in which I feel the need to defend my loves to others. Never let anyone tell you that their goals should be yours. When something gets in your blood, it becomes a part of you, and the ones who love you will have to learn that there is no erasing something as strong as the hoofprints on our hearts.

Ready? Make a wish.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Nerd Things 4/11

source: youtube
Listening To: "Air Balloon" by Lily Allen. Given that yesterday was National Siblings Day, want to acknowledge Lily's brother, Alfie, who plays Theon Greyjoy on Game of Thrones. Talented siblings, these.
source: amazon
Watching: Season 1 of Being Human UK. Loving it. Just what I needed - another show to love that no one in the immediate area has ever heard of, let alone seen. I do this to myself over and over.
Before this gets too British, let's go local:
In Print: Seeing my name in print is always a little surreal. It's just my name: that thing I printed across my schoolwork, the words on a roll call sheet, what the nurse calls out when the doctor's ready to see me. It's not snazzy or clever and it's not a pen name. Considering I didn't exist on the internet until 2012, I still blink and cock my head when I see my name on one of my covers, or on a website, or a Tweet.
The very kind and encouraging ladies from book club helped me run an article in the paper. It serves double duty as a "meet the author" and an invite to my signing on the nineteenth. I'm starting to worry I didn't order enough books for this event! (I'll talk more about the signing next week) A big thank you to the gals for this article.
The text:
Paulding author Lauren Gilley is thrilled to have the chance to share her work with local readers. She joined book club Grace, Grits & Gossip at Lyn Swenson’s Dallas shop, Art Things, for a discussion on her debut novel Keep You last week. The club meets the second Thursday of every month to discuss a new novel, and Lauren was delighted to be the March pick. “The face-to-face feedback was wonderful,” Lauren said. “As an author, I’m happiest when I’m sharing my love for storytelling. I couldn’t have asked for a lovelier group than Grace, Grits & Gossip. They made me feel so welcome. It was beyond rewarding to hear the ways in which the readers identified with the characters, and to learn that some of their favorite elements of the novel are also my favorites.” Lauren, a Kennesaw State University graduate, is part of the ever-expanding “indie” author movement. “For me, it’s all about writing the sorts of books I like to read, and telling the stories of everyday people,” she said. “My parents helped me discover the gift of literature when I was a little girl, and I relish the idea of passing that gift along as an artist.” Lauren writes contemporary family dramas, with an emphasis on character. She’s the author of eight novels and one short story collection, including the Walker Series – Keep You, Dream of You, Better Than You, Fix You, Rosewood – mystery, Whatever Remains, and her ongoing Russell Series – Made for Breaking, and God Love Her. Her books can be found in paperback and ebook formats on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble online. She blogs at, and loves to hear from readers. Available for book clubs and signings.