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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

dog for a Dog

I wrote this line today:

“Ava,” Ghost said, voice taking on a new tension, a foreign strain she’d never heard before. Slow, biting off each word: “Call him off.”

One of those scenes I'd been building to, and needed a little mental break afterward. And during that mental break, I had myself a fun little trip down Memory Lane. One of the things I've always sort of laughed at is the whole biker nickname thing. I like a good nickname. I appreciate them wholeheartedly. Sometimes, I shake my head a little over typing Ghost, Tango, Jaeger, Sly...but mostly, I love it. And usually, those nicknames are near and dear to my heart.

"Sly" belonged to one of my very favorite horses before it belonged to Layla's hubby. A seventeen-hand chestnut Quarter Horse gelding built like a tank, as versatile as an ATV on trails, an old pro jumper, a dressage horse in a pinch, trained western. You could literally shoot a gun off his back (it happened). And he would tote around my students, tiny little girls up to full-grown men, steady, smart, level-headed, always in charge in the pasture, a true leader. When he kicked, you better believe it was with both back feet. He was never mine, but I loved that horse; broke my heart to hear of his passing.

Then there's Tango the horse - a dressage boy, a "dancer," like the Dogs' dear Tango.

Jaeger the dog, a little brindle boxer I used to know.

And Ghost the dog, the shepherd cross, old and arthritic when I met him, unfailingly loyal, a stray before he became a farm dog. He followed dutifully out into the pasture; you could pick the horse you needed, point, and say, "Go get him, Ghost," and off he'd go to get him. Such a great dog, with that tawny coat and graying black muzzle, all sweetness and wisdom. A boss dog. He had to be my LDMC president.

I went looking for pictures recently, but couldn't find any. They're all lost amid the jumble of old Eckerd's developments in shoeboxes somewhere in storage. I like to think they won't mind that I used their names; that some of the mystique rubbed off on the paper, and gave the characters a certain depth.

You're probably laughing at me by this point - you named that guy after a horse?? - but for me, there is so very little inspiration in the shallow, immediate scattering of current reality. They may never look like it from the outside, but my stories have the bones of animals, of historical figures, of classic golden literary moments. You build yourself a sturdy skeleton, and the skin you lay over it - it'll shine.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Time for Reading

Something I don't have much of the last few weeks, and the loss of which I regret. Reading is my downtime; reading keeps my brain sharp for writing. Lately, it's all about Viktor - walks and training and playtime - and all about writing. Last week, though, I forced in some pockets of time to read this book. I'd already decided to wait and buy it a little later, once I had more time, but my mom bought it for me as a little surprise treat, and I just couldn't not read it. Tana French's books call softly to me from the bookshelf: come on, you know you want to, just a few pages.

With each new novel of hers, I come away trying to pin down why I love them so much. There are so many reasons. I like well-written books. I like lots of prose. No "see Dick run" plot-burners for me these days. This time, with The Secret Place, I was delighted to see Frank Mackey again; I think he's probably French's favorite character; he's mine for sure. But the thing is, no matter who she's writing, the perspective is always riveting. That's the big reason I love her books: all of her characters are fascinating, and no two are alike. She gets you in their skin and agreeing with them, no matter their viewpoints. That's a gift.

I have a book I need to start for book club next...but when I get those slivers of reading time, I'm going to be jumping into Outlander.

Also this weekend: tree limb dragging. My dad and uncle cut down a massive pear last weekend, and dragging the limbs out of the yard has been a week-long endeavor. Done.

Also, I'm allergic to fennel seeds, I found out after I ate Italian sausage on my pizza and my face swelled up. Oops.

Also, major Fearless progress. Soon. Soon, soon, soon.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Lines 9/28 - Fearless Part II

Fave lines of the week's writing. Up to 200 pages! Woo-hoo! Thanks for being patient, everyone. This section of the novel will be worth the extra wait.

Part II: "Crossing Lines"
Copyright © 2014 by Lauren Gilley


          Maggie had made white chocolate, dark chocolate, and marble cheesecakes for the dinner, and everyone waited to be served…everyone but Mercy. Where had he been? Maggie wondered. She hadn’t seen him for at least a half hour. Ava neither, now that she thought about it. It was a big house, a big party; easy to get lost.

            But Mercy and Ava stood together over the marble cheesecake at the kitchen counter, Mercy’s tall frame almost curled around her as he looked over her shoulder, smiled at whatever she’d said. His hand, for just a second, was at her hip, too low for casual.

            He pulled it away and turned as Maggie stopped in the threshold, his eyes coming straight to her face, the mask not fast enough in coming down. Naked fear strobed in their black depths before he could catch hold of it.

            Don’t say anything. Don’t take her from me. Don’t you dare. I will fight all of them. Oh, God, it’s all going to blow up, isn’t it?

            Then his face blanked over and he looked away from her, hand going in his pocket, attention going back to whatever Ava was saying to him over her shoulder.

            Maggie saw the little things: the clothes not quite straight, the high color in their faces, the windswept look to Ava’s hair.

            The air shimmered around them, neon with possibility, the chemistry of them this hot, sticky amalgam of complementary metals.

            Mercy had crossed the line.

            Ava had either followed him, or invited him to come across it to her.

            Maggie felt the lump well up in her throat, the sting of tears at the backs of her eyes.

            It was so perfect, and it was so disastrous.

            And they’d be sliced to bits before it was all over.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Carpathians

If you're reading Fearless (Part I of book one of my new Dartmoor Series can be found here) then you've heard mention of the as-of-yet-unseen Carpathians, the rival club and vicious enemy of the Lean Dogs. I talked about the Lean Dog legend in this post from a few weeks ago, so I thought I'd talk a little bit about the baddies today.

The Carpathians are a chain of mountains located in eastern Europe that passes through Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, and Romania. They are wild, Old World mountains, full of bears, lynxes...and wolves. Legends, superstitions, old tales.

In Fearless, the Carpathians' logo is a snarling wolf, a werewolf, more properly. And everyone knows what wolves do to dogs. And what dogs do to wolves.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Workshop Wednesday - Writing the Seasons

This is probably going to sound mundane and stupid, but I put a lot of thought into the seasons of my novels. What time of year is it in the novel at its beginning? Its end? You're thinking: why does it matter? And I guess in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't. But the seasons have a pull over us; they stir emotions and mark the time and play recklessly with our memories. They're a part of the setting, same as a house, a precinct...a garage.

I break it down like this:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

First Day of Fall

Wild morning glories scaling the honeysuckle on the property fence. Aren't they beautiful? The colors make me think of hummingbirds, and sparkly evening clutch purses, and royalty. They only bloom about two hours, and then they close, the trumpets spiraling in on themselves. They're all through the woods, alongside the heavy sprays of pink wild roses.

Today is the first day of fall. Breath of something earnest and Canadian in the breeze this morning, promise of frost on the leaves as they begin their slow beautiful deaths. I'm washing horse blankets; perfect day for that. While I slosh and haul, I'm thinking about the bookshelves in Mercy's apartment, and envisioning the cracked spines of the paperbacks he keeps there, spotting Tom Clancy and Salinger and an old copy of Grimm's Fairy Tales he keeps for sentimental reasons. I'm thinking about Maggie and the way she sees herself in her daughter - and is secretly glad for it. I'm thinking about Ava and what it's like to make friends when you grow up an untrusting child. And I'm also thinking about the Russells, about their world, and green waters and an undertow and thank God Navy SEALs can swim like they do.

Welcome, fall. You feed me good thoughts.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Long and Short of It

I love the grass this time of year. The bowing stalks, sleek and polished beneath the sun as they ripple on in wave after wave, with their frothy seed-tops catching the light, weightless as errant feathers. It's one of the small glories of fall. The sound - can you close your eyes and hear the rustling? The way it slaps against the horses' legs as they run?

I know I've talked a time or two about how invigorating this time of year is - creatively, and boy, is that a good thing. Fearless is my first shot at a novel in installments. There's parts of this plan that I love, and parts that I don't.

Love - It's fulfilling to write in relatively contained segments like this. I feel like I make more progress; an illusion, yes, but it makes me feel more productive and that's good for morale.

Love - I can get the book to readers faster! This is a massive project, and had I waited until the entire thing was complete, it might have been March before it was ready to unveil. Some people may not like reading in segments, but I figure that's better than not reading at all, right? And it's so much more enjoyable to edit these installments than the entire project all at once. Talk about brain burnout.

Don't love - the whole novel isn't available yet! I hate that, I really do. I wish I could sneeze it out and post it up right this moment. But these things take time, and the more time spent, the better the final product.

Fearless Part II: Crossing Lines, is going to be longer than part one; it's a nice meaty chunk of story. And it won't be too much longer! I appreciate the patience of my readers so much, because this is a story that I love telling.

The second I have a date, I'll announce it. Promise! I can tell you that the plan is to have four parts. "Lying Down With Dogs," "Crossing Lines," "All-American Monsters," and "Follow You Home." Now I've gotta go jump back in the swing of things. Happy Sunday.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Lines 9/20 - Fearless Part 2

I've got a question about Part 2. You can go weigh in over on my Facebook page.

Part II: "Crossing Lines"
Copyright © 2014 by Lauren Gilley

            For the longest moment, he studied her face, and she held still, afraid he’d change his mind if she so much as breathed. Finally, one corner of his mouth twitched.

            “I’m going to hell anyway, right?” he murmured.       

            And she closed her eyes as he leaned in and kissed her again.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Belated Workshop Wednesday - The Telling

Okay, let's talk about this song. Lorde's cover of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" is so dark and atmospheric. They used it in the Dracula Untold trailer I posted Tuesday and I could not run to iTunes fast enough to download it.

Covers fascinate me, because with the same lyrics, the same number of beats per measure, and same basic chord progression, a song becomes an entirely different song. The song is the sum of all its basic components, plus one very intangible element: the human touch. The creative interpretation.

For example, one of my flagship songs for Fearless is "House of the Rising Sun." The original is actively sinister, and for that it makes the soundtrack. But also in my playlist is a cover by bluegrass group Jypsi, one you can't find on YouTube, but which I recommend you look up on iTunes because it is so railroad-tracks-lonesome and lovely.  Both the same song, both so different, both evocative of different mental images.

I won't preach today, because I do it too often. But I will always believe that the way a story is told holds more impact than the story itself. The author's tone, the elegance of prose - those things elevate the story from lines on a page to an experience. As authors we have to ask ourselves: Do we want to tell this story crudely? Or make a production out of it. If this were a movie, which song would we choose for the trailer? What is its soundtrack? Which images press themselves into the reader's subconscious?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Nerd Things 9/16 - Movie Edition

I've been working a lot lately, and I'm starting to crave a mindless movie night, complete with popcorn and chocolate and a few blissful hours to not think about bikers and drama. My creativity always gets a boost from media that is totally different from what I'm working on. I don't know why, but that's just the case. And my little nerd heart's aflutter with all this new movie news kicking around.

The first official synopsis for The Avengers: Age of Ultron was released. I have to admit, the thing I'm most excited about in this movie is Paul Bettany's Jarvis coming to life, so to speak. And Thor being Thor and Cap being Cap. I choose not to dwell on the fact that there's no Loki in this film. I can pull through. It'll be alright.

Check out this amazing tapestry poster for the new Hobbit film. I'm so not ready for this movie.

Dracula Untold - with Luke Evans playing Vlad the Impaler - looks pretty freaking awesome. Period vampire films are my fave.

As far as thrillers go, I want to see A Walk Among the Tombstones with Liam Neeson, and The Equalizer with Denzel Washington. Amazing actors and intense, relevant plotlines.

Okay, back to work. Gotta earn my break.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Favorite Lines 9/15 - Fearless Part II

Part II: "Crossing Lines"
Copyright © 2014 by Lauren Gilley

           Maggie wrapped her hands around the cool glass in front of her and tipped her head, her body language an apology before she spoke. “You and Mercy sitting on the steps…”

            Ava gripped the back of her chair hard. She felt her jaw clench and tried to keep her breathing regular. Just the suggestion that her mother knew sent her into immediate fight-or-flight mode, and since she was a Teague, fight was winning out. “Mom–”

            “I understand,” Maggie said. “Trust me, baby, I understand more than anyone else in the world.” Her little smile said, Pregnant at your age, remember? “There’s pain there, Ava. It would be so messy and it would hurt you so bad.”

            Ava swallowed and stared down at her white knuckles. “You think I don’t know that?”

A Tale of Two Book Covers

I'm sure by now you've noticed that I have two novels with dog paws on the covers. It started with Keeping Bad Company, and it was a bit of an accident. I was thinking very different thoughts about the cover, and was just sorting out some old pics on my computer, when I found this unedited shot of Riddick's paws.

I didn't realize, at the time, that I would lose him to heart failure before the book was ever released, but then the cover became even more important. From cool, to special. Baby Boy immortalized. And how very appropriate, given the Lean Dogs, and how important the club's name and symbol and mythology is to me.

So when it came time to pick a shot for the cover of Part I of Fearless, I decided to forgo the initial idea of a motorcycle in favor of another black dog. A dog for the Dogs. This time it's little baby Viktor's feet on the cover. Like I said before, it just felt right. I happened to be snapping pics of his feet, and swapped the camera over to black and white on a whim, and here we have his little-big feet on the pavement.

Every book cover of mine is a happy accident. Always, I was working toward a different vision, and the whimsical, accidental, freak shots are the ones that always look best and end up the final cut.

I'm working on the ultimate, final cover of Fearless now, but each individual part will have its own black/white/chrome cover. Up next it's this...

And it's coming right along. Won't be too long now!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Can I Have Pasta for Breakfast? Or: The Random Thoughts of the Chronically Sleep Deprived

The Pioneer Woman
I woke up wanting pasta. With tons of olive oil, with garlic, fresh parsley, and mountains of parm. Is that possible? No? Okay. Peanut butter toast it is. A poor substitute in every sense of the word. 

I've had this book sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read for a week now, and I haven't had time to so much as crack the cover. I need to block off a couple hours for sitting on the porch with a glass of wine and diving into it.

I'm taking Viktor here today, to do some much-needed essentials shopping and to get him out and about in the world. Everyone we bump into in public thinks he's a girl. I don't really know why. He has such a "wassup, bro" look on his face at all times.

I need some new wool socks for the winter, and I have no idea where to find some really good thick ones. Cutsie dress socks inside of  work boots do not make for anything pretty.

I need a nap. And it's only 10:30.

I have a birthday party to go to and I wonder how much writing I'll get done today. Not much, I don't think.

If you missed my 12,000 mentions of it, Keeping Bad Company released yesterday and can be found here. Fearless Part I: Lying Down With Dogs can be found here. There's some crossover between the two. Mercy and Walsh make rather large cameos in KBC. It's fun.

I hope you have some pasta in your pantry, unlike me - and I hope that didn't sound dirty somehow. Pasta in your pantry...yeah, you could dirty that up if you wanted. I'm too tired to laugh at my own stupid joke.

Happy Saturday.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Keeping Bad Company

I've been talking about this one forever, huh? It's here!! Head on over here to download your copy. And Fearless Part II: "Crossing Lines" will be out next month.

Happy reading.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

That Day

The first plane hit during the first class change. I was walking between buildings, down my favorite path from the Senior Building, the one where the pear tree roots had buckled the paving bricks and the ground was uneven beneath my feet. One of those ripe September mornings with gauzy clouds. The campus was in its usual bedlam as too many students rushed in too many different directions on this too-small campus that had once been a college, but was now the most overcrowded high school in the district.

I realized something was wrong the moment I entered the front doors of the Freshman Building. The halls were deserted. The three-story, massive brick building was an absolute ghost town. As I passed open classroom doors, I noticed students and teachers clustered around the wall-mounted cable TVs. Ours was a rich public school, one funded by a generous trust, and every single classroom boasted its own TV. All of the normal hollering and chattering, the gossiping at the vending machines - all of it had been abandoned in favor of the TV screens. I started up the central staircase with a knot forming in my gut.

At the top of the steps, I entered my second class of the day, Mr. Hilliard's freshman geography class, and I was one of only two students in the room. The TV was on, and Mr. Hilliard stood beneath it, arms folded, feet braced apart on the tile. He was a Marine, and in that moment, I forgot about the awkward geography teacher he was every day and I saw the Marine in him, front and center.

He turned to me, just as he would turn to every student entering the classroom in turn, and said, "Someone just flew a plane into one of the Twin Towers in New York."

The classroom filled. Everyone was silent. For almost two hours, we stood and watched the coverage, enraptured, horrified, so many of us in tears. We watched live as the second plane struck. We watched the Towers come down.

In my parents' generation, everyone says, "Where we you when JFK was shot?"

Mine is a generation of That Day. Where were you That Day? Where were you when the World Trade Center was hit?

I remember that day with morbid clarity. As a unit, the entire student body demanded to be allowed to see the coverage, and we were obliged. All the way from New York City, the terror, the fury, rolled down to Marietta, GA. For days, weeks, afterward, we went to school dressed in red, white, and blue. We were slaves to the news coverage. We grieved with the fallen and we prayed for our heroes.

This morning, as I watched the anniversary coverage, I was again overwhelmed by the courage of those first responders, by the grace and bravery of ordinary people in the face of absolute nightmare. The footage never becomes less horrific, the hideousness of it is never dulled by time. And I think it's a good thing that my eyes welled up and my stomach hurt this morning. I think we ought to feel that way, because to feel nothing is to forget all those who lost their lives that day, and in the years after. Today I say a prayer for the brave men and women who keep us safe, who run into the fire rather than away from it. We will always move forward, we will always rebuild, we will not squander life, and we will not forgive the loved ones lost to us.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Workshop Wednesday - It's Just Life

I had just turned on a long stretch of two-lane road with zero stoplights and no places to turn off yesterday when I heard the first rrriiiiiipppppp from the back seat. I had cleaned the truck out completely before I put Viktor back there, but obviously, I'd missed something. When I finally stopped and opened the back door, it looked like someone had dropped New Year's confetti all over the place. The victim? A spare copy of Dream of You I'd forgotten to pull out of the door pocket. Oops! It was rather hilarious. And now I know just how my doggie feels about my work.

One of the tricky aspects of writing is its inherent need for quiet and contemplation. Writing takes time. Writing takes sitting by yourself in front of a computer, alone with your thoughts and the keys. Writing takes daydreaming. It takes a total immersion in an imaginary world; conversations with people who don't exist. From the outside, writing looks like a whole lot of sitting around. But for a writer, these hours are spent hard at work.

As writers we sometimes talk about our writing, and then "real life." Daily life - dogs chewing up books, babies crying, floors begging to be vacuumed; the errands and doctor appointments and parties and family moments are often deemed "real," and the hours we spend writing are a sort of fantasy. A secret sub-sect of our existence.

I noticed something. I've always written - since I was making up stories to tell to my fussy little brother when we were four and two - but it was always this private part of my life. I didn't talk about it. And I was frustrated, because making time to write felt like sneaking out by the dumpster to have a secret smoke. And no one saw writing as anything legitimate or important because I wasn't treating it like it was.

I think it's important for us to tell the people in our lives how important writing is. I also think it's important not to treat writing as if it isn't a part of our real lives. We're writers. It's what we do. It's a part of who we are, and how could it be anything but a component of our real lives?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Lines 9/9 - From Fearless Part II

My favorite bit of what I worked on this weekend.

Part II: "Crossing Lines"
Copyright © 2014 by Lauren Gilley

Dartmoor bustled with its typical Saturday traffic. If the citizens renting trucks, buying mulch, having their oil changed were concerned about the murder that had hit the papers that morning, they didn’t show it.

            The clubhouse was flanked by a handful of bikes, but had that sleepy, empty look about it; the boys were working or hunting up intel. The hangarounds and prospects had cleaned up the carnage from the party; the place looked as tidy as it ever did.

            Ava parked and spotted a man in the shadows beneath the portico – a tall man, his long legs stretched out in front of him as he reclined back with his elbows resting on the top of a picnic table.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Hopping The Pond

It's release week! There's so many terrifying things going on in the world right now that a person could lose major sleep worrying. So I'm going to try to focus on the positive things - the things to be excited about. And I'm so excited to release the third volume of the Russell Series this week.

One of my favorite things about this novel, in particular, is that I got to "send" some of my characters across the pond to London. It's someplace I'd love to visit. The motherland calling me home, I suppose. I love the imagery of this city, the aesthetics. And I especially love that it was appropriate to name one of the Lean Dogs' haunts Baskerville Hall.

All photos courtesy Pinterest
If you want to catch up before Friday, the Russells can be found in Made for Breaking, God Love Her, and "Things That Go Bang In The Night." And if you won't hold it against me, you'll probably be able to download KBC a day or two early. I just can't wait to share it.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Cozy Book Places

I like to read in the big living room chair with the ottoman. Or in bed. Or on the front porch. But no place in my house has anything on these awesome book nooks. Found this article on BuzzFeed. My favorite book spot would have to be Shakespeare and Company in Paris.

Also, this one: the Hearst Castle Library.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Threads for the Outlaw Gals

For Ava
I'm not real big into fashion. As my frayed purple tank top could attest to if you could see me now. My barn boots would also like to chime in and add that they are super-not-cute. In case you were wondering. But for some reason, I love dressing my characters; so much more fun than dressing myself. And while style isn't anywhere near the most important aspect of a character, I decided to show some of my outlaw girls' pin picks. Lest anyone worried Maggie and Ava were walking around in leather bustier-and-stiletto getups, rest assured, they don't need their clothes to tell the world around them that they're not to be messed with :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Workshop Wednesday - The Overlooked

My tagline is "finding the extraordinary in the ordinary." Anyone can notice the spectacular. The glittering, flamboyant, in-your-face, boisterously beautiful. The extremes. The perfect clich├ęs. Those things were crafted for love. The over-the-top uber badboy; the billionaire; the supermodel; the award-winning neurosurgeon. The extremes. Each a sun orbited by a solar system of overlooked ordinaries. For me, those suns hold no fascination. They're too easy and too plastic. For me, it's about the overlooked ones, finding their beauty beneath the tarnish.

Just a quick thought for today's Workshop Wednesday.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Buncha Book Covers and Stuff

You'd think I would learn by now that I'm a very small person who can't pick up large things without completely throwing my back out. You'd be wrong, though. This time, the heavy thing is my squirming puppy. My gosh, is he growing. My gosh, does my back hurt.

I've figured out how to write while lying very still. That's about the extent of doable things, though.

So why not read, instead? My favorite contemporary author has a new book out today, and I'm so excited for it.

I love that each of her Dublin Murder Squad novels features a minor character from a previous novel, made major. I love her prose. Her novels are all super-absorbing and I can't wait to dive into this one.

I'm also excited about Part II of Fearless, "Crossing Lines." I hope to have it out by late October.
Also coming out in October, another book by one of my favorites.
And next Friday, the 12th, this finally releases.
Go forth and read. And enjoy being upright for me. 

Monday, September 1, 2014


Who can believe it's September already? This morning marked the beginning of my obnoxious Season of Unrepentant Sunrise Photography. I know my Facebook friends grow weary of waking up to sunrise shots each day. But I just can't stop taking pictures. That's how you become a better photographer - take and take and take and take.

This was my favorite shot of the morning. I love the way the golden light softens the jagged edges of the pecan tree leaves. I adore this tree. It's riddled with woodpecker holes. With the exception of the live oaks, there's not many trees more Southern than pecans.

I love how Viktor wandered into the shot and I didn't even notice until later.

I love the dew on the grass and the crystalline spiderwebs between the tall stalks.

Authors never really take a vacation - there's no getting away from your thoughts - so I'll be spending the next few hours working. This September arrives with it's fair share of busyness and stress - a good kind of stress. It's good to be busy and have things to do.

A quick reminder that Keeping Bad Company comes out Friday September 12. Just a couple more weeks! I'm excited about this one because it's a crossover between the Russell Series and Fearless. You can grab it now for 99cents on Amazon.

Happy Labor Day, everyone.