amazon.com/authors/laurengilley

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

Friday, February 28, 2014

Nerd Things - 2/28

Listening to: The Fray's newest album, Helios. Critics are saying it's their "most aggressive album yet," and I guess I have to agree: the choruses are brash and driving and there's a more electronic sound to most of the songs. It's different from their earlier stuff, but it's good. So good. I'm not ashamed to admit I love this band. "Hold My Hand" and "Hurricane" are my favorite tracks, and the opening stanzas of "Hurricane"...well, they feel like me. And I'm digging that.







Pinning: These ruby ring ideas for Jo, circa Fix You. I'm also a little surprised that this pin of an autumn forest has gotten 1,394 repins and 215 likes. That feels like a lot. I know it's just Pinterest, but this is lil' old me, and I don't garner much attention. At least people like something.














Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thursday Things



It is cooooold here this morning! And I don't like it. Winter needs to GTFO already.

It's sort of a restless day waiting on the plumber to come fix the leaky water line running between well and house, so here's a list of random stuff:

- I've got a story that's going to be published in the March issue of The Opening Line, a fantasy follow-up to "Cold Again" titled "Vainglory." I'll post links when it's available for download. So yay for that!

- I'm currently reading The Photograph by Virginia Ellis. I'm only four chapters in, but it's got me good and interested. Review to follow later.

- The Cobb Library is holding a book sale at Jim R. Miller Park March 7 - 9. Lots of cheap secondhand books! I'm going. Even dorkier - I'm excited about going. I'd love to find a copy of The Hobbit. How do I not have one of my own? Ugh.

- I got a really lovely, personal review for God Love Her and it energized my thoughts about another installment. We'll see. The ebook is regularly priced now, at $3.99.

Tomorrow, I'm cooking...sort of. So look for another recipe post. It's my mom's birthday Saturday and I want to make something new and yummy.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Workshop Wednesday - This Gap

When you're a writer, advice - advice on how to write - comes at you left and right like ravens in The Birds. No less violent or overwhelming. It's important, here and there, to take the time to remind yourself that you aren't completely inept and that skill, like wine, gets better with time.

Today's WW post is this quote from Ira Glass, found on Pinterest. I love it. It's inspiring, and reassuring - something every writer needs to hear.

The Game is On

*Pics by me.*

I'm pretty much trend-proof. If it's must-see, chances are I haven't seen it. If everyone's buying it, I don't feel compelled to slap down money. I'm a skeptic; I reserve judgment. And when internet photos of Benedict Cumberbatch's dyed-dark, scarf-wearing, collar-flipping Sherlock Holmes started making the rounds on the web, I was, as always skeptical. A new Holmes? I didn't know about that...

If you've read Whatever Remains, you know the title was taken from a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle quote. Sherlock Holmes - that's where it's at.  I grew up on the PBS reruns of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes starring the man who is, in my opinion, the definitive Holmes, Jeremy Brett. Anything Sherlock, I loved. It's so smart, so civil, so atmospheric, so British. And then the buzz started up about BBC's new series, their modern retelling of Conan Doyle's classics, simply titled Sherlock.

Could it be as good? I wondered

As it turns out, it's better.

Not because it's newer; not because it's trendier. It's just really great TV, and if you're looking for something new to watch, run yourself out and get the DVDs; they're well worth the cost, because they're the sort of thing you want to watch more than once.



Reasons to love it:

John. In every other incarnation of the series, Sherlock's sidekick was the mustachioed, dignified Dr. Watson. I'm not sure I ever knew what his first name was. But in BBC's version, Watson - played by Martin Freeman - is, while still a doctor back from military duty in Afghanistan, known simply as "John," both to Sherlock, and to the fandom. This is a more complex, more independent Watson, one who very obviously loves Sherlock and is, throughout the series, Sherlock's salvation in a world of humans he would otherwise care nothing about. John is the heart of the show. For viewers, he isn't just the sidekick, but one of two primary characters, one the audience loves and identifies with. Martin Freeman brings him to life like no one has before.

Sherlock. Benedict Cumberbatch plays a detached, at times emotionless Holmes: brilliant, quirky (to put it mildly), rude, unapologetic, and graceless in every social context. Rather than affected, Sherlock's misunderstanding of social niceties and rituals is a true comprehension gap. He can read everyone like binary computer code, can use human behavior to crack every case, but openly admits to being bored by what he sees as trivial human motivators. He isn't normal, doesn't pretend to be, doesn't want to be. The result is kind of adorable. And it makes his affection and devotion to John all the more special because, in his own words, "[He] doesn't have friends. Only one."


Mrs. Hudson. (Una Stubbs) She loves her boys. This show takes a background character and fleshes her out: Mrs. Hudson has a sketchy past, a strong maternal streak when it comes to Sherlock and John, and this wonderful way of saying "Oh, dear" and insulting you all at once. She's indispensable.




Mycroft. Co-creator and writer Mark Gatiss steps in front of the camera to fill the role of Sherlock's fussy, refined older brother. "He is the British government."









Lestrade. (Rupert Graves) He's not a bumbling idiot in this version, but a competent detective. He's not too proud to admit he needs Sherlock's help - character improvement? Yes.

Molly. (Louise Brealey) The geeky Every Girl who'd do anything for Sherlock. A fandom favorite, she's got a thing for high-functioning sociopaths.











While Moriarty is a splendid villain, I love having a show that you don't want to watch solely for the villain. This isn't an anti-hero show, and that's a pleasant change to what's currently on TV.

The only drawback is the length of each season - only three episodes. But each episode has a runtime of nearly two hours, and is packed with cases, and enough straight-from-the-text Conan Doyle references to keep any Holmes fan happy. It isn't a show that gets talked about at dinner parties in the US, but it should be. It's absolutely worth getting addicted to.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Old Habits



For a few delusional years in high school, I entertained the fantasy that I might be able to go to art school. SCAD is in Atlanta and I was all about the visual arts then - I thought I might be able to go somewhere with my drawing.

Senior year was a reality check. And shortly after, writing eclipsed drawing and I eventually stopped drawing altogether.

I've been missing it lately, though. I loved breaking out the pastels to do the Better Than You cover and I started wishing I still made time for sketching. In the interest of 2014 being a year of stretching and growing as an artist, I've decided to set aside 20 minutes (or more, if I have it) each night before bed so I can get back into sketching. I started over the weekend, and I'm rusty! So rusty I'm not posting any of my fledgling attempts on here until they're only mildly embarrassing, rather than completely mortifying.

Pencil sharpened. Here's to growing.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday Morning Listening

I like to listen to music while I clean my stalls every morning. It's a soothing way to start the day, and the music gets my brain geared up for whatever the day may hold. Right now, between projects, I've got playlist ADD. This morning, I was listening to:

"I Can Make You Love Me" - British India  (this was 29cents on iTunes and I really love it. Nice to support a band not well-known)

"Best I Ever Had" - Gavin DeGraw

"Sweater Weather" - The Neighbourhood

"Glory and Gore" - Lorde

"I See Fire" - Ed Sheeran (I mentioned this a couple months ago, and yes, I'm still listening to it. Am obsessed with it. It's gorgeous. And why it wasn't nominated for an Oscar for best original song, I haven't a clue.)

"Hey Brother" - Avicii

"Animals" - Martin Garrix

"White Walls" - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (see what I mean about the ADD?)


Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Playlist - God Love Her


**Note - I spelled Toby Keith's name wrong. Eventually, I'll go back and fix the graphic....but today is not that day.**

First Flip-Flops

The first flip-flop-worthy day of the year!! I had to share my enthusiasm. Toenails painted - check. Book - check. Sunshine - check. Now all that grass needs to green up...



Friday, February 21, 2014

Cookies for Book Club



Yesterday I baked these cookies for last night's book club, recipe courtesy Ree Drummond. Mine weren't the prettiest, but that didn't hurt the taste - I halved the original recipe, used gluten-free all purpose flour, and added a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon. Yummy.

I was surprised and excited to field some questions about my own books at last night's meeting. I haven't been a part of a reading group in a long time, and it's a lovely group of ladies - and one gentleman - who made me feel right at home. I don't get too many opportunities to talk about writing outside the Internet, so it felt great to be able to share my books. They even decided to read Keep You for next month's discussion! I'm thrilled! And nervous. Being my own head of marketing wreaks havoc on my anxiety.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone. I'm not feeling well, so I may or may not be back before Monday. Hopefully, you're in the middle of a warm spell like I am, and can enjoy the sun a little. Happy Friday.

Chocolate Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

- 1 1/4 sticks butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 whole egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup flour (gluten-free or regular)
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- As many good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips as you want
- as many  good quality white chocolate chips as you want

Baking Instructions (quoted from here)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Using a mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, scraping the sides once.

Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Mix in vanilla.

Sift together dry ingredients, then add in batches to the mixer, mixing until just combined after each addition.

Gently blend in chocolate chips and white chocolate chips.

Using a cookie scoop, add 1 tablespoon portions to baking sheet. Dot the top of each cookie with 3 white chocolate chips if you’d like them to really show up on top. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until cookies are barely done but still soft and chewy.

Let cool on a baking rack.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Short Story - "Always"

I submitted this a couple months ago to a very high brow, look-down-their-noses lit mag contest that I knew I had no prayer of winning. It didn't win - obviously - but I was pretty happy with it. It, like most things I submit, suffers from a bad case of being written by me, and that's something I can't seem to change. Huh. Oh well. I wanted to share it here. It's got my historical Slight of Hand characters - some of whom haven't been introduced. Major spoilers for that nebulous fantasy trilogy I plan to write one of these days. Kinda long. Kinda too artsy. Read at your own risk - it's total guilty pleasure fiction. Whole thing property of me.




Always

 

Immortal. That’s what Liam had said. His face returned to her, in snatches of nightmare, the wonder and bloodlust swimming in the blue striations of his eyes as the night pressed in around them. “He can’t be killed,” he told them, his captive audience on tenterhooks. Annabel remembered the snowflakes in his hair; the wind sighing high in the snow-weighted branches above them. She remembered her sister with fistfuls of fire, her waifish elegance splashed with the jewel tones of flame. “Blackmere,” Liam said, half-curse and half-prayer. His bane and his driving passion. “The Baron Strange of Blackmere…”

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Workshop Wednesday - Paper Polish

See? I knew I'd have trouble sticking to a posting schedule. I missed last week's Workshop Wednesday with the weather and book release, but I'm back this week. And I promised to talk about polishing up essays. Man - that sounds dry and dull. Sorry. Next week, we'll shoot for more exciting. As for today, let's keep this painless and informative.

If you think talking about writing papers is boring, imagine how boring it is for a professor to grade hundreds of them. How many essays begin with: "Shakespeare's Henry V is a play about..." Even if a paper is very technically correct, it doesn't stand out, or make a stunning first impression, with a generic lead-in like this. Because creative writing has always been my "thing," and because I knew that was where my writing skills were the strongest, I worked a certain level of storytelling into every formal paper. What I noticed - professors loved it. It's a technique I encourage when helping students with their essays. And even if it sounds daunting, it doesn't have to be. It can be simple, and it can make the whole process more fun.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Writer's Best Friend

In my opinion, it's a camera, hands down. I don't go anywhere without at least having the one on my phone, because I never know when I'll bump into something really cool that I want to work into a story. And why strain your brain remembering it when you could just snap a pic and go on?

I went exploring some of the little side streets and trails near the house yesterday. I like going for walks. I like it even better if it's in the woods and there's not much traffic. I was a hobbit in another life.

I found this little trail that goes back through the woods - part of a neighbor's 4-wheeler trails, I'm sure - and it fit so perfectly with the forest vibe I have going on in my historical stories, I had to take some pics. I like to think that when you write for a living, you have to be hyper-aware of your surroundings, always on the lookout for good material. I thought the trees here were lovely.


 
 
 
 
 
Ran into this guy, too. They're cute...up until they open their mouths and you get a look at their teeth.
 
 
 
 

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Trouble With Being Single



Warning: personal post.


The trouble with being single is that everyone thinks you’re upset about being single. I read something not too long ago, and paraphrased, it boiled down to: “I’m not willing to settle for someone I know is just settling for me until someone he really wants comes along.”  This is exactly where I am right now. When you’re in your late teens, early twenties, and you’re like me – you’re not the kind of girl who turns boys’ heads – you allow yourself to feel inadequate, and you try to change, and you let the cruel words of the boys you’re dating get under your skin. But you get to a point where you realize that there’s no changing who you are, and anyone who doesn’t appreciate exactly what you bring to the table – someone just looking for a girl to keep on the side – doesn’t deserve one nanosecond of your time. It’s not about being picky; it’s about wanting a true connection, and not trying to force one where there’s not a glimmer of hope for one. It’s about concentrating on what you want out of life – and for me, that means writing. And, unfortunately, it’s about fielding the concerned exclamations of people who tell you that finding a boyfriend is the most important thing in the world.

God Love Her

As it turned out, despite more than a half-inch of ice, I was only without power for about an hour yesterday morning. Big props go to Carroll EMC. And a big eye roll to me jumping the gun and releasing the book early. That's the thing, though - if you don't prepare for the worst, it's sure to happen.



But now it's Friday, and it's "officially" release day! I'm excited to share this novel, and I hope readers are excited to read it. Though it's technically the second in a series, it can be read as a stand-alone. You won't be lost if you haven't read Made for Breaking. I've got all the links below, so have a happy Valentine's Day and please do enjoy.

From the back cover:
 
When her parents divorced, Layla Russell went to LA with her mother, and her little brother Johnny stayed behind with their father. In the eighteen years since, she's tried to maintain a relationship with the other half of her family in Georgia, but a real closeness is lacking...and when she gets the call that her dad has been shot and left for dead, the guilt is crushing. She should have spent more time with him; should have made the trip more often. She catches the first flight to Atlanta; Mark's surgery was a success, but he won't wake up, and the doctors aren't optimistic.
 
 Layla quickly realizes that this shooting wasn't random, and that her uncle, her cousin, her brother, and the rest of the "family" are launching their own investigation. Her uncle's Business Security Solutions doesn't work strictly within the law, and neither does the powerful enemy they're chasing. The more deeply entrenched she becomes in the case, the more dangerous she realizes it is...and the more intrigued she becomes by her father's friend Sly. He's made her a promise to keep her safe, but how can she trust a court-martialed car thief turned mechanic? How can she afford not to?
 
 
 
Links:

To read the first three chapters - Click Here

$0.99 Download for Kindle, iPhone, or PC - Click Here

Amazon paperback - Click Here

Barnes & Noble paperback - Click Here

Goodreads page - Click Here

Comments/questions/discussions, email me at: authorlaurengilley@gmail.com

Twitter: @lauren_gilley

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ice and Then Snow

It started Wednesday in the wee hours of the morning, with freezing rain.







Late last night, it switched over to snow. Around midnight, when I checked the horses for the last time, I stood under the security light on the corner of the barn and watched it come down: a confetti of silver slivers and fat white flakes with intricate lace patterns. It felt like Christmas inside a Disney movie. The silence, the soft glow of ambient light radiating up from the snow, everything gleaming. Even trashcans and compost heaps look magic covered in snow. And this morning, with the sun breaking through the clouds, it revealed the prettiest blanket of snowfall I can ever remember.




 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This is perfect reading weather. I think I'm going to curl up with a book.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Due To Winter Weather Conditions...



There's another winter storm rolling across Georgia, and this one's worse than the snow of two weeks ago: this one's supposed to dump up to an inch of freezing rain on us. Lord...

Soooo...since the news has been talking all day about power outages, and since I don't want to risk not being able to release God Love Her on time, it's out early. Grab your 99cent copy at Amazon here, and please do enjoy! Hopefully the weather is better wherever all of you are, but if not, here's to cuddling up with a book.

Release Week - A Look at Cartersville

source: city-data.com
Atlanta is a commuter city. Everyone drives everywhere, and it's common to live in the 'burbs and drive into the city for work. It's the South, after all, and elements of farm and field still persist. In Made for Breaking, the Russells left a posh life in Alpharetta for the old family home in the country. King Customs and most of Ray's businesses are still in Alpharetta, but the house is an old antebellum throwback in the heart of one of my favorite spots: the rural, small-town city of Cartersville.


Source: northgeorgiahomefinder.com

The views are what always get me when I make the drive up to have the truck worked on. The mountains framing the horizon; the deep cow pastures ribboned with shimmering creeks; the sheer-faced blasted cliffs that tower above the railroad tracks. It's where the John Deere dealership is. It's where Ladd's Farm Supply is. To enter the city is to leave behind the frat boy/sorority girl frivolity of Kennesaw and Marietta and go back in time.
 
Business may take the Russells all throughout the northern part of the state, but Cartersville is home.


Source: preserveamerica.gov
 
Car show downtown
 
source: downtowncartersville.org

Teeny Tiny 4 Way Lunch
 
 
source: georgiacartersville,com
 
Etowah Indian mounds. If you live in Georgia, you've taken a school field trip here. Really gorgeous.
 
source: city-data.com
 
The dam at Etowah River on Lake Allatoona
 
source: city-data.com
 
Isn't it pretty? It's such a pastoral city, dotted with cows, studded with old barns. It's the perfect place for the Russell crew to dig in roots.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Aesthetic Things

Wow, it's been five days since the last post. I feel like a slacker. I'll admit: finalizing all the details about God Love Her and getting it ready to roll out has lifted a huge weight and I enjoyed a little away-from-the-web time. But it's Monday, and I've got a new book coming out! Let's gear up for that, shall we?

All pics courtesy of Pinterest. Click on them to find the original source.

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/400257485604649139/
 
http://www.pinterest.com/pin/400257485604596474/
 
http://www.pinterest.com/pin/400257485604609815/
 
http://www.pinterest.com/pin/400257485604648966/
 
"Layla had blurry childhood memories of Lisa’s hand against hers, their fingers laced, tall grass slapping at their knees, the high light sound of their giggled laughter. They’d been friends once, a long time ago."

~God Love Her, page 28
 
 
http://www.pinterest.com/pin/400257485604618487/
 
"Lisa stayed in the shower until the water turned cold. Then she shivered as the cool spray hit her back, watching the water lap around her ankles and spiral down the porcelain basin of the old claw foot tub before it ventured to the drain. Her hand arrested above the knob as she reached for the tap. The shower, behind the familiar white curtain, with the smell of her coconut body wash, was a safe place."

~God Love Her, page 289
 
http://www.pinterest.com/pin/400257485604648973/