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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Workshop Wednesday - A Year of Writing

Where in the world did 2014 go? I mean, really. It's just gone. Poof. I can't believe that tomorrow begins 2015. I see quite a lot of writing on my horizon. 2015 is going to be a year of words for me, I feel sure. I'm delighted. Perhaps addicted, obsessed. What have you. There's so much to do in the coming months, and I can't wait to share it all with my wonderful readers.

But for today, the workshop topic is all about reflection. I'm looking back at 2014, its words, and learning from my mistakes and minor successes.
God Love Her came out in February, and it was a long time in the making. A rewrite of a much-earlier story, it is actually the book that has sold the least copies for me. Sly and Layla's was the first love story I wrote, and though it needed massive revision, and ultimately, a total rewrite, it's one that I hold special. I'm not sure it will ever be widely-read, but that's okay; I feel like I learned so much about writing during the years I carried it with me.
"Things" was in July, a quick short story to bridge the second and third Russell volumes. This was such a fun piece. A bit of fluff. I hadn't thought about doing a oneshot in an official capacity like this before, but it was well worth the effort, and it's inspired a second Russell short, "Green Like The Water," that I'm hoping to have out in January.
Keeping Bad Company was September's release, and in addition to indulging my ongoing love with Sly and Layla, it gave me a chance to decide if I really wanted to write a story dedicated to bikers. I'd written that sort of thing before, but thought I was done with it. Turns out, I wasn't. Which leads us to...
The behemoth. On a bit of a whim, as I grieved for my dearly departed dog, I wrote the first three lines of Fearless. What was supposed to be an idle side project quickly took hold. I released Part I because I wasn't sure anyone would read it in the first place, and didn't want to spend months on a hopeless project. I was stunned by the reaction, and 256,000 words, and four months later, Fearless has become the launch pad of a whole new series.

In retrospect, I think Fearless was the thing I was always building toward. My work has become steadily more outlaw this year, and so far, 2015 is shaping up to be counterculture-friendly too. I hope to release at least 2 more Dartmoor novels this year, and who knows what else will pop up along the way. There's a long road ahead with these Lean Dog boys, and I for one couldn't be more excited to get started.

I want to take a moment to say a huge THANK YOU to my truly wonderful readers who continue to  inspire and encourage me. Your support is appreciated more than you know. I am your humble servant.

Happy New Year! A toast to the old, and to the new, and the adventures it promises.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Right Boots

Remember these boots that I pinned a while back for Ava? I put them on my Dartmoor Pinterest board and shared them here as a bit of character wardrobe inspiration. Well, for Christmas, my mom tracked them down and gifted a pair to me. I was so surprised!

If you're like me, you dream of boots. I splurge on a pair only every so often, but it's fun to look. Here's my current favorites on the wish list:

The family bought these for my mom from Country Outfitter this year.

I really like the strap across the toe on these.

These are red! (and leagues out of my price range. Love Frye)

Love the studs on this pair.

Old Gringo makes some of the most unique, gorgeous boots, like this turquoise pair.

These are pretty, I think, and very different.

Oh, boots. How I do love you.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Real Thing

When it comes to books, Kindles are great for convenience and immediacy, but there's just nothing like the real thing. As both a book nerd, and someone who wasn't sure I'd ever see Fearless in print, getting my first proof in the mail last week was joyous.

I have some tweaking to do before I'm ready to order final copies for next month's two giveaways, but I couldn't wait to share this big hunk of book with everyone.

The lowdown: 738 pages. It was originally over 1,000, and I managed to compress it down. Ten point font, no frills, narrow margins, and a minimalistic matte cover.


Title page.

Touch of Bronte.



The meaty view

This sucker is heavy! I'll be giving away several (haven't decided how many yet) of these signed, 6x9 paperback editions of the complete novel in both a Goodreads, and a social media giveaway. Details coming soon, so stay tuned.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Happy

Christmas Day. After the party, after the crush, after all the cooking and table-setting and cleanup. That's my favorite part. Curling up with a book and eating too many leftovers. Ahh. The basking.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. I helped my mom host 19 for dinner last night, and though I had the best intentions of documenting the festivities via photos, it didn't happen.

Last year, we experimented with several tables fitted together to make one long, eclectic dining experience, and it was so much fun, we did it again, this time with extra tree greenery and tiny woodland animals. I did manage to snap a few pics of the table yesterday.

Today, even the dog's worn out. He digs his new toys.

If you saw it on FB, I received my first proof in the mail Tuesday, and I can't wake to start in on final edits and proofreads. I'll share some decent photos tomorrow.

For tonight, Merry Christmas, and best wishes from Mercy :)

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Holiday Staycay

I don't think I realized, until the moment I turned it loose and sat back in my chair, just how deeply entrenched I was in Book Land. There was a moment of disorientation. What day is it? Where am I?

Okay, not really. But I was a little absorbed, shall we say. And the worst part? I had this intense urge to start writing again. Just stop, Lauren. Step away from the laptop.

So after the rush of Christmas dinner, I'm treating myself to a little staycation time to put my feet up.

I'm going to read this, and this, and this.

I'm so excited to go see the final chapter of The Hobbit. Tolkien and Christmas are irrevocably linked for me. It's a holiday tradition, and this year, it'll be the very last trip to Middle-Earth. I won't even pretend that I won't be crying into my sleeve the entire time.

Viktor's craziness has made nail care a bit of an impossibility. I bought this polish and want to try it out.

I'm also expecting my proof of Fearless in the mail any day now, so I'll put the finishing touches on it this holiday and get it ready for the giveaway. I have several cover ideas; maybe I'll put up a poll on FB and see which one you guys like best.

Giveaways will begin next month, and then I'll start work on Angels. Gah, I'm so excited. This little holiday breather will get me all energized to get back to work.

If I don't check back in until the 25th, I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas. Thanks so much for reading.

Friday, December 19, 2014


Release day! Well, not really. It's a bit anticlimactic, isn't it? If you haven't seen it yet, Fearless Part IV went live Wednesday night. You can find it here. I wanted to say again how grateful I am for the emails, reviews, comments, and support from my readers. You've all helped make this such a fun project.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Countdown Day 7 - Merry Christmas!

I was hoping I'd be able to do this - as I shared on FB last night, Part IV is live! My readers have been the best, and I wanted to release the final Fearless installment a day or two before the date, as a way to say "thank you" for all the support. Merry Christmas and please do enjoy. Get your copy right here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Countdown Day 6 - Official Summary

Just two more days, guys! Here's the official cover and synopsis. I thought it would be best-served if it was short and sweet. This quarter of the story is for sure a "you have to read it and see" installment.

Part IV of IV of the first novel of the Dartmoor Series.

In the swamps of New Orleans, Ava will finally meet the demons Mercy has carried within him the past fourteen years. An old enemy stalks them through the gator-infested waters of Mercy’s home, and their only protection lies in the love and trust of one another. Fearless comes to its thrilling conclusion in this fourth and final installment.

Lauren will be hosting two giveaways in January, so readers can enter for a chance to win a signed paperback copy of the complete novel. Keep up to date with all the new releases and inside scoop on Lauren’s blog:, on her Twitter feed: @lauren_gilley, or her Facebook page: Lauren Gilley – Author.   Or contact her at

Be on the lookout for Book II in the Dartmoor Series, Price of Angels, expected Spring 2015.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Countdown Day 5 - Up Ahead

It's probably not the moment to start looking up ahead, with Part IV coming out in just a few more days. But that's how I work. Once the writing is done on one story, I slide into the next. It's one long narrative, broken only by necessity.

There are a few loose ends as Fearless closes, and they're intentionally loose, all the better to bridge the gap into the next book, Price of Angels. I've talked about it a little, here and there, because I'm excited to break ground on it. There's a stronger country influence in this book, as opposed to the New Orleans twist of Fearless. This song, "Guinevere," is one of my big inspirations. It feels like Holly's song, special just for her. If you haven't heard much by the Eli Young Band, I can't recommend them enough.

It's my goal to release Price of Angels in its entirety in March. I'll share updates as I go along. I'm going to try to write like the wind. Like with Fearless, I'm deeply attached to the characters, and the story is begging to be written. Here's hoping.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Countdown Day 4 - The Home Stretch

Thank you, everyone who took advantage of the 99cent deals on the Russells this weekend. I hope you enjoyed them. God Love Her was one of my favorite projects, and Sly may be my favorite male lead to write (though Mercy sure gives him a run for his money).

Well, it's Monday, which means just a few short days 'til Friday and Part IV. We're coming into the home stretch.

One of my favorite aesthetic touches in this installment is the cottage. I love the idea of cooking on an old wood-burning stove.

I'm nuts about old Victorian furniture, like the green velvet sofa.

It was really important to  me that, in keeping with the Lean Dogs' culture, Mercy and Ava's accommodations be modest and more than a little tattered. I want always to emphasize the humble ordinariness of their lives, their means. It's who they are that's important, not what they are. An important idea that I want to carry forward, as I begin work on Michael and Holly's story.

Just four days to go!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Countdown Day 3

Yesterday, Sly and Layla's story, God Love Her, was 99cents for Day 2, and today, Keeping Bad Company, the third Russell volume, is 99cents. One day only; get it here. KBC is Mercy's first book appearance. He and Walsh travel to Georgia to help the Alpharetta chapter deal with a threat that leads them all the way to London.

I have a bad habit of writing a character in as a small accessory, and then needing to take that character to the main stage, and centering a book around him or her. I was so glad to "meet" Mercy, as it were. Maggie and Ava were old friends of mine, characters from several years past who I missed terribly, and Mercy was the missing link I needed to bring Ava and Maggie to life in a book. After him, the rest of the boys fell into the place. So I have quite the soft spot for Merc's cameo in this book.

Also 99 cents (and free to borrow on Kindle Unlimited), "Things That Go Bang In the Night," a Sly and Layla-central Russell short story to bridge the gap between the two books.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Countdown Day 2

Day 2 of the Countdown to Part IV. Today, one day only, you can download God Love Her for 99cents. This is book 2 of the Russell Series, but can easily be read as a stand-alone novel. Sly and Layla have a cameo in Part IV (maybe future Dartmoor books, who knows), and God Love Her is their story. Click here to find it on Amazon.

Tomorrow, for Day 3, the third Russell volume, Keeping Bad Company, will be 99cents for one day only. KBC features the Georgia chapter of the Lean Dogs, with cameos from Mercy and Walsh, plus a visit to London, the original mother chapter.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Let The Countdown Begin

Yesterday afternoon I typed the very last line of Fearless. The final note of both Part IV, and the novel as a whole. Oh, how bittersweet. This has been my most favorite project, my most favorite love story, with Ava and Mercy. It's hard to say farewell to them, even if it's only a brief goodbye. The second I finished, I knew I just wanted to write more and more stories, for all of these characters. I can't wait to dive into Price of Angels. Walsh and Aidan are for sure getting their own books. I want to stay close to Ava and Mercy. And I want Maggie and Ghost to have not just a short story, but an entire book, all to themselves. I have a problem, y'all. I'm really attached.

But for right now, it's all about Fearless, and today marks the beginning of the final week. Here goes the countdown: one week until the release of Part IV on the 19th. (Unless, of course, I can get my act together, work a little Christmas magic, and treat you all a few days early!)

I'm kicking off Day One of the countdown with this song, this song, and this song. "Rooster" will make more sense when you read Part IV.

Tomorrow, for Day Two, for one day only, God Love Her will be 99cents for Kindle, for anyone who wants to meet Sly and Layla before they have their little cameo in Part IV.

Thank you, wonderful readers, for making this such a fun book launch. I'm thrilled to be able to share the final chapter with you :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

9 More Days...

Mercy glanced toward the house again, eyes shifting to the small rise behind it, where the trees were thickest. “I take flowers up there,” he said softly, swallowing. “When I’m in town.” He glanced at her with more of that desperation he’d fixed on her throughout the telling of his story. “Do you want to walk up with me?”

            She nodded.
From Fearless
Part IV: Follow You Home
Copyright © 2014 by Lauren Gilley

Workshop Wednesday - The Mental First Draft

I've added cross-country pasture hikes to my regular walking regimen with Viktor, and they serve the dual purpose of being both fun and useful. Fun because I love to see the field that time of evening, in all its brown winter splendor. And useful because the cold and the quiet, the exercise and the melancholy of winter nights help me generate the best mental first drafts.
In a perfect world, I'd wake up every morning, float over to my chair, sit down to the perfect cup of cappuccino and start writing first thing. Then, when I was done for the day, I'd pack the project away and turn my mind to other things until it was time to write again. Unfortunately, this is the real world, and luxuries like that don't exist.
When writing time is limited, like mine is right now, I find it helpful to have planned my scenes before I sit down to write them. I used to do that in an abstract way, but with my latest project, I've written more concrete mental first drafts for each scene. As I walk through the pasture, I set the stage in my mind, bring out the actors, run the dialogue, test each component. I work out the conversations, the looks, the gestures, all of it. The really good lines I'll type into my phone to save for later. The rest are replaced with better alternatives when I sit down to actually write the scene. This way, I'm "seeing" the material for a second time when it hits the page. And it means I can get to work as soon as the computer is booted up. I've greatly cut down on the time I spend brainstorming at the computer. Now, I'm writing during the entirety of my writing time. I can produce about five thousand words in a day.

The downside to this is that I have trouble sleeping because I'm constantly running lines in my head. It does edge up the anxiety a notch. But it's been a real boon when it comes to making the most of my work time. Would I recommend a mental first draft? Yes, absolutely. sure you squeeze in some actual mindless downtime here and there.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Mondays are for Writing

Viktor woke up early for whatever reason this morning, and I chose to look at it is an unplanned jumpstart on my day. Wasn't the sunrise pretty? When you're outside in them every day, you start become a little dead to them, but I thought this morning's was especially pretty. A good omen.

Writing is going well. I feel bad, like I'm teasing everyone, but it helps me track my progress to talk about it. As of now, Part IV is as long as Part II, and is going to be longer than that. Denouements take time. They're not to be rushed.

I continue to be amazed that Christmas is so close. I wrote the autumn away! I still plan on releasing the Russell short story I promised, but it will be after Christmas. I need a little R&R once I finish Fearless.

But for now, it's back to work. Have a wonderful Monday.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Part IV - The Sights

Part IV has been my favorite part of the story. It might even be my favorite thing I've ever written. I've had tears in my eyes typing parts of it, and been completely absorbed by New Orleans during others. I've been an artist consumed. While I'm mucking stalls, I'm thinking about it; before I fall asleep at night, I'm thinking about it. I dream about Spanish moss and iron lampposts. Two weeks from now, when it's in all of your hands, and it's finished, I'm going to be supremely sad. All stories end, and it always hurts a little, despite the joys of completion. After Christmas, I'll start work on Book 2 in the series, and that will be a whole new adventure. But for now, I'm enjoying the sights of this one.

I love the way the cypress look like flora from another planet.

I love the humble, grungy splendor of the swamp.
I really wish I wasn't gluten intolerant so I could have Café au Lait and beignets at  Café du Monde.
I'd love to walk down the Rue St. Ann...
And see Jackson Square on a cloudless day.


Friday, December 5, 2014

Lines 12/5 - Fearless Part IV

Just two weeks to go! I can't quite believe it.

From Fearless
Part IV: Follow You Home
Copyright © 2014 by Lauren Gilley
          She wanted to cry, looking at what had once been his home, and that was before she turned to look at him, and saw the naked pain in his eyes. The house wasn’t the only thing that was haunted. The boy that it had raised was full of ghosts too.

            Ava wanted to reach for him, touch him, comfort him. But she felt the chasm of ignorance opening up between them. She didn’t know his ghosts; and she needed to know them if she ever hoped to exorcise them.

            “Sometimes, the best thing you can do is wait,” Maggie had advised her once. “Everyone can talk. But waiting’s an art.”

            So she waited.

            Birds called in the tree tops. Dragonflies swooped low along the water. The midges and mosquitos teemed. Something plunked into the water.

            Mercy said, “Do you want to know about Oliver Landau?”

            “Very much.”

            “It’s not a nice story.”

            “Most aren’t. I can handle it.”

            He nodded. He took a deep breath, and in a haunted patch of swamp, while the sweat rolled down their bodies, he told her the tale of his life’s turning point. The journey that had led him to her.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Sunset Album

I have such a thing for sunsets. And living in the country for the last eight years has revealed to me that there's a big difference between suburban and city skies, and wide-open country skies. Sunsets are engulfing out here in the sticks. I can rarely resist snapping a photo most nights, and then boring the life out of my blog/Twitter/FB followers with them.

I shared these two photos on FB the other night...

...and one of my friends suggested I make a book of sunset photos. I'd love to some day be a talented enough photographer to do that. But for now, too busy to dedicate the time to the craft that it deserves, I decided to share an informal album of some of my favorite sunsets. Some I've shared on the blog before, some I haven't.

I feed the horses dinner around sunset most nights, and as I walk around the barn, there's the sun, doing its thing. I take my sunset photos from this spot in front of the barn, on my smartphone.

And these are the results.