amazon.com/authors/laurengilley

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

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

LG's Writing 101 - Intro




Writing 101

12/30/15 – Introduction

Whatever your field, one of the most gratifying things is to be asked for advice. You begin at, well, the beginning, and suddenly you look up and you are the beginner no longer, and there are new beginners asking for tips and tricks, wanting to know how you got your start. It’s been an unexpected, but welcome surprise to receive a wealth of messages, emails, and comments in the last few months, asking for writing advice. It’s not in my nature to offer unsolicited opinions, but I’ve realized something, in answering the inquiries that have come my way. It isn’t unsolicited if someone’s asking for it, number one. And number two, I wish there had been more people willing to listen and respond to me when I was starting out. The writing world can be a big, cruel place a lot of the time, and as a truly introverted geek, I always felt displaced amidst the social cliques of the business. I didn’t want to deal with poorly veiled insults and put-downs, be jostled amongst the warring factions. All I wanted to do was talk about writing. So that’s what I’m going to do now, in a new post series here on the blog. I’m going to talk about writing – from the basics, to the intricacies, in what I hope is a common-sense and comprehensive fashion.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Back At It

 
Hello, and welcome back from break! Or maybe you're still on break - good for you! I took a few days off, first to prepare for Christmas, and then to recover from it. I'm back at it today, and raring to go. Already on page 220 of my initial read through of Smoke, and it's going well. I'm a pretty pleased book mama at the moment, if a nit-picky one.
 
I started not to use the photo up there for this post. I'd decided to go find something pretty on Pinterest when I realized the truth was better than anything posed. It's not an attractive shot: USB cables coming out of the computer, water bottle, Coke can, gloomy afternoon and Christmas garland through the window. But that's the reality of it: there's nothing posed or glamorous about writing. It's a butt-in-chair, sore-back, too-much-soda kind of job. The beauty unfolds on the page, while the process itself is less than inspiring. And that's a beauty I simply can't live without.
 
2015 has been a big and busy year for me, writing-wise. I've met some amazing and kind readers, and I've seen the dark underbelly of the book business. I've learned a lot, and I've thought long and hard about my artistic vision for my writing career. Here at the end of the year, at this normal time for reflection, I've decided some things about the way forward.
 
I'm going to be launching a new series this year, hopefully by March or April. It's an intricate, sprawling project I've wanted to dedicate myself to for years, but the timing was never right. For the last few months, I've been working on a draft of the first book, and I think now is the right time to really pursue it. While it will be completely separate from my other series, and will have nothing to do with bikers, it will still be chock full of multi-dimensional characters, intense drama, and compelling love stories. I'm thrilled to start it. It's going to be truly epic, in scope and content.
 
Dartmoor fans, never fear. There are more Lean Dogs adventures on the way, too.
 
So, a quick look at the release order:
 
Secondhand Smoke (Jan.19th)
Snow in Texas (?)
Super Secret Project
 
A rough sketch, I know. One of my many New Year's resolutions is to get scheduling tighter.
 
I'm glad to be back from break, and I hope you're excited as I am about what's to come. 2016 is going to be a blast.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Deeper Look - #SecondhandSmoke

Remember the little snippet I shared a while back? Here's a more extended look at it. I hope you enjoy, and if I don't blog again prior to, have a very Merry Christmas! :-)

Note: Raw text; apologies for typos.



Secondhand Smoke
Copyright © 2015 by Lauren Gilley
All Rights Reserved

In Hamilton House...

***

He heard footsteps. Light, clipping footfalls across the boards, moving toward them.

            Tango heard them too, and they both braced themselves, reached for their weapons.

            Aidan had a hand inside his cut, hand curling around the butt of his Glock when their interloper stepped between the doorjambs and entered the ballroom.

            Samantha.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Workshop Wednesday - Writer Encouragement: Somebody Out There Needs Your Book


I saved this pin a few days ago, planning to use it in a new Workshop Wednesday series I'm going to post after the New Year. Don't you just love the Writer Positivity cards? Instead, I decided that I would use it today, after I received the loveliest heartfelt comment from a reader on yesterday's post.
 
One of the things that has always troubled me about the book industry is the encouragement by those in positions of authority toward sameness. From my first ever story pitch (The original version of God Love Her back in 2009) to my current indie status, I've heard countless renditions of the same song. Sung by publishing houses, agents, editors, and now bloggers and others connected to the industry in some way. It goes a little something like: "Look at what everyone else is doing, look at what's selling, and do that." Every agent I've submitted to in the past - and that's a lot of them - has sent me some version of this response: "We think you're a very talented writer. That isn't in question. But you've got a lot going on with this manuscript, and you need to focus on one thing at a time." My favorite ever was: "This is an interesting concept. But I don't know if you'll be able to pull it off, and don't have time to read the entire manuscript to find out." What's even more disturbing is when authors chime in, when they start espousing the old tired industry lines that are spoken with the express purpose of shortening their books and thus making them cheaper to print, though no less expensive to purchase. They're sacrificing their own individuality to appease the industry, and they're buying the explanation that it somehow makes their writing "better."
 
Okay. Didn't mean to go off on a tangent. I obviously have strong feelings about this business. And I don't appreciate being told that all readers want the exact same thing. Because I'm an author because I was a reader first, and books impacted me deeply. I for one don't want the same thing, so the industry isn't speaking for me. So I won't speak for it.
 
There have been times in life when fiction served as the most beautiful distraction. The stories that touched my heart were the stories that showed me perhaps love isn't dead; that loyalty lives. The stories that celebrated the triumph of the human spirit. Stories about unlikely heroes, about lasting friendships, about acceptance, and the willingness to stand up and protect the things we hold dear. Some of these were dark stories, frightening ones, heartbreaking ones. And there was great adventure, love, mystery. I wanted to write books like that. Books that didn't serve one purpose, but many. And I fell in love with words, with the flow of language and the proper usage of grammar, because the more proper the prose, the easier to read, and the more readily it melts into images in the mind, transcending the words themselves.
 
I don't know if I'll ever become the writer I've always wanted to be. But I do know that nothing compares to those wonderful comments like the one I received yesterday. The heartfelt words of readers I wish I could reach through the computer and hug.
 
I believe in the phrase "To each her own." I don't want to affect anyone else's stories. Write and let write. But there are days when I sit down at the computer and I feel the industry's side-eye, and I become frustrated and tired. And then someone tells me what one of my books has meant to her. And that's when I am reminded. As you sit at your computer, you are writing the book that someone out there needs. You may never know your words have reached them, but they have, and they were appreciated. That's why you can't write with anything less than your whole heart, no matter how messy, complex, raw, and real it gets. The market is flooded with the books the industry wants to print. Be different. Write the book someone out there needs.
 
 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The End Again

 
Let's see. This is book number...sixteen? If you count the Russell supplement stories, which I do. So this is sixteen, and still, typing those two words - THE END - never stops being emotional. So I had to stop, afterward, and pop over here to blog.
 
It's over. Thank the Lord it's over! And yet...it's sad. Bittersweet to close the door on them again.
 
I have some confessions to make. If Aidan was a real flesh and blood boy, I wouldn't give him the time of day. That whole tatted-up bad boy uber macho thing? Not my scene. Not in any way. Men like him have no power of persuasion over me. So it was with much trepidation that I approached writing his book. Mercy and Michael I can understand - they were loners, weirdos, sensitive and intelligent, intellectual, well-read. Walsh is older, mature, sharp as a tack. All things I value. But Aidan? Oh boy. That was going to be a challenge. Unfortunately, my readers gravitated toward him from the first, so I knew this book would happen. And it did. And I'm glad for it. I do love him now. But it took a whole book for me to come to understand and appreciate him. Because you know what was hiding beneath that swagger?
 
A sweet boy. Who was abandoned by his mother, who was raised by an unfeeling father and a kind stepmom who was only eight years his senior. By the end of it, I wanted to cry for Aidan, and that's a must for me. I have to want to shed tears for a hero, before he can be my hero.
 
It's incredibly important to me that my characters, regardless of gender, feel real, human, genuine. I reject the label of "alpha male" because I likewise reject the idea that a strong man comes in one variety, with a certain set of traits. Strength is a variegated adjective. In my mind, Ghost is the only true alpha of the series, because he truly is the leader. His strength lies in making the hard calls, the tough decisions that may result in bloodshed. Heartless? Not really. Just uncompromising. While Aidan is strong because he retains a certain softness, and can apologize for his mistakes.
 
Secondhand Smoke also dips a little deeper into Tango's history. And I won't lie - I have serious misgivings about writing his novel. Why? Because I'm not sure a romance audience is ready for a hero like Tango. Who is anything but "alpha," who has been a victim, and an addict, and who struggles. If I write his book, I want to do it total justice, without shrinking from the uncomfortable or the dark. I love him, and I want to do right by him. And I don't know if this is the right time to do so. We'll have to see. Of the bunch, he's my baby. And I won't sacrifice the realism; nor will I offer him up on a silver platter for the haters and the critics who refuse to examine literature that doesn't fit into a particular box.
 
Tired yet? This is my emotional dump. Finishing a book is always a sensitive time for an author. It makes me want to hug my characters, and hold them close.
 
Thank you, readers, for your patience. I wish I could write a book a month, but quality demands more time than that. I hope you'll enjoy Smoke. Look for it next month. I'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Horse Person Holiday

Snow at my barn, this past March
 
The farrier came this morning to shoe and trim the horses; an every six week regular occurrence in the life of a horse person. I must confess - I've never had a professional manicure in my life. Never. Nor do I want one, really. I can buy a bottle of Sally Hansen and paint my own nails, thank you, not to mention the daily barn chores chip polish with malice. When it comes to professional nail care, not just anyone can shoe a horse. It's a special skill, and a talent, honed with apprenticeship, years of practice, and constant self-education.
 
My farrier is an old school cowboy, full of unfailing cowboy wisdom; quiet, kind and patient with the horses. My Markus, who I call "Widowmaker" and "the beast" in all seriousness, approves of him, and that is a wonderful thing. I always enjoy feeding handfuls of hay to my spoiled ponies and swapping horse and farm stories with him. My farrier, I mean. Not Markus. He doesn't care what I think.
 
Conversation of that sort always reminds me that, as a horse person, there will always be aspects of life that only a fellow equestrian will understand. Only another farmer knows what it's like to have a horse person holiday.
 
I've never been on time to a Christmas party or dinner in my life. I was always coming from the barn, changing manure-crusted boots for clean boots in the truck, brushing the hay bits from my hair, hoping I didn't smell too much like dirty horse blankets. Every hosted event is interrupted before dark by, "Can you watch the oven? I need to run go put the horses away." And there's that stubbornness, on my part, I guess: They eat at five, not before, the humans can just wait a little. On Christmas morning, before presents, before stockings, before breakfast, it was to the barn. (Horses always eat breakfast before humans, you know)
 
It isn't all rush, though. I have joyous memories of hanging felt and puff paint stockings on my first horse, Skip's, stall. One year my mom even helped me string lighted garland along the top of the door; the one horse in the barn who didn't fiddle with things. I remember dinky trees in the barn office, enjoyed over Styrofoam cups of hot chocolate, heated up in the ancient electric carafe that had been filled from the tap in the bathroom sink. I remember swapping gifts of new gloves, saddle pads, and those expensive Mrs. Pasture's horse cookies that the horses probably don't like as well as knockoff ginger snaps. The barn was my job, but it was my home away from home, and it was a little bit magic at Christmas time.
 
And then, there was the quiet. Oh, the dark cold quiet of night. No boarders, all of them off celebrating, vacationing, enjoying their hearths. The farm silent save the crunching of frosty grass. All the horses put away and happily munching hay. A handful of last chores to complete: buckets to fill, a finicky eater to check, a leg wrap to tighten. Stars cartwheeling overhead, breath pluming, the cold burrowing down into gloves, and it was so melancholy...and so perfect. I felt like the lucky one. All those boarders who only came for the social times, who weren't pushing a wheelbarrow through the dark - they had no idea what it was like, when everyone had gone home. They didn't get to hear the farm breathe. Didn't hear the coyotes. Didn't soak up all the subtle aesthetics that make you feel small, fragile, and perceptive. I did a lot of thinking in moments like those. It's no wonder I eventually had to put all those stories on paper.
 
I love Christmas. I love the lights, the ornaments, the food, the gatherings, the eighteen showings of White Christmas and Bing's beautiful voice. But I also love the way the season helps me feel closer to my farm roots. So many of my merriest memories of this time of year are caught up in memories of horses.
 
And on the wish list? Boots. Always boots. And maybe a bottle of nail polish or two.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

NaNo Reflections

Last day of November on the driveway.
 
As of midnight last night, NaNoWriMo is officially over. It was my first time participating, and, I have to tell you, it didn't feel so different from any other month.
 
Hmm.
 
It was a shock to wake up this morning, grab my phone, and see 12/1/15 on the screen. How did we get to December? No, really. How? It's safe to say I've written my year away. It's been worthwhile, for the most part. But it's been a year of bikes, shootouts, and betrayals, to be sure.
 
Again. Hmm.
 
The goal for NaNo is 50K words. I met that and then some, what with Snow as a side project and some dabbling in my Super Secret Project, which you'll learn about next year. I had hoped that Smoke would be complete after those 50K, but this is a story that won't be rushed. This isn't an installment for the casual and critical readers, but for the true fans.
 
Many a night this month I found that I'd used all my words while writing. And basic conversation left me feeling like a lead-tongued Neanderthal. Me want dinner. Hungry. You do that, you know. You can use all your mental energy and then just become a slug.
 
So I don't think I'll attempt NaNo at any point in the future. Who knows what I'll be writing next year at this time, but it's safe to say there's no force more encouraging than my own inner critic who drives me hard and berates me constantly.
 
Okay, enough complaining. I do love my job. Right now I'm sitting on 115K words of Smoky goodness, with a few more miles to go before I sleep.
 
In summary: whatever. I'm out of words again.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving Treat - Smoke Snippet

A little early Thanksgiving treat, because I'm thankful for my readers. How about a little Tuesday Ghost and Maggie? (With a touch of sexual content, in case you wanted to be warned) :-)



From Secondhand Smoke
Copyright © 2015 by Lauren Gilley
All Rights Reserved


~*~

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Light of Fiction

 
I started to blog this morning, and stalled out, the events of Paris heavy on my mind. How can I talk about something as trivial as a fictional biker book, I wondered, when there are people waking up in France this morning with that swift gut-punch of loss rendering them immobile? I felt silly and foolish, worrying about my books and my job when there are families so recently touched by evil.
 
I elected to write, instead, and in doing so, I reflected. There is nothing I can say to ease the terrible hurt of the weekend's events. There are not words to express sympathy and solidarity. I pray for those who were touched; I pray that they can find grace in their grief, and solace in their sorrow. I know that loss isn't something that can be prayed away, so I will pray for them. I know they are angry, because I'm angry. It's a gruesome world we live in, and the innocent are the ones who bear the brunt of the violence.
 
And I started to think that maybe it's not so silly what I do for a living. Because through fiction we right wrongs, we express human emotion and hurt eloquently, and we find a way to address all the issues we can not face as ourselves. Fiction has always been a beautiful escape for me, when life has thrown punches, and as an entertainer - yes, that's what I am now, I realize - I feel it's important to provide an escape for my readers. Escapism isn't a blotting out of real life and its tragedies - it's a coping mechanism. That's the beauty of humanity - we cope. So I hope that today you'll let me share some of my work with you, and I hope it will help with the coping.
 
There comes a point, midway through each of my novels, in which I absolutely hate what I'm working on. It's inevitable. A little chocolate and some patience usually sees me through the mini-crisis. And today, I sat down at the computer and I was able to look at the book as something aside from the responsibility that's been plaguing me. I saw it, really saw it. And you guys...Secondhand Smoke is the best in the series yet. I don't think critics will think that, thanks to certain action-movie elements of the book, but in my opinion, it's a heck of a ride. So I hope that you, as my readers, will really enjoy it. Aidan, baby, it's been a long, rough trip, but it's been worth every halting step. Today's writing has been a lot of fun, and it makes me so excited to get the book to you all as soon as possible. I can't wait for you to see Aidan, and Sam, and Tango, and Ian ( I do love Ian, even if he's hated).
 
If you haven't seen it yet, I'm hosting a Dartmoor location "tour" via Facebook, going through the locations of the novel. And be on the lookout for new giveaways and teasers coming soon.
 
It's my belief that fiction can be a light in dark times, for those of us needing a little something to grab onto. Thank you, readers, for making this journey such a light.

Friday, November 13, 2015

NaNo Progress

The jet trails out here in the fall are always so pretty at sunrise and sunset/

Day 13 of NaNoWriMo and I'm sitting on just over 20k words of writing progress - which I feel pretty good about considering I've had the stomach flu this week and haven't been able to work as much as I would have liked. This is my first year "participating," if you can go so far as to call it that. I'm generally more of a Lone Ranger than a participator, when it comes to...most things. Enforced word counts don't jive with my writing style. I'm a perfectionist and the "get it done" method doesn't track with my artistic side. Stall mucking, yes; creating, no.

Anyway, I'm knuckling down. Even if Aidan doesn't make it easy on a nerdy girl who doesn't like to speak "ladykiller." He is who he is...but let's just he and I wouldn't have any common ground in real life. One of the beauties of fiction.

Anyway again, I still don't have a firm release date. And that's okay. Why? Because Secondhand Smoke isn't going to be a formulaic romance novel, so I've decided I'm not going to worry about all those formulaic romance novel release expectations. It's going to be different, and it's going to be fun, and I'm not feeling so apologetic about being atypical anymore. I'm writing about outlaws, after all; time to embrace that outlaw spirit. These characters have lots of surprises in store for you guys with this book, and I want to echo that in the weeks to come with my own release countdown efforts. Let's be rebels, shall we?

Friday, October 30, 2015

Secondhand Smoke - First Teaser

To celebrate reaching 800 Facebook looks, a rare teaser snippet from Secondhand Smoke.


Secondhand Smoke
Copyright © 2015 by Lauren Gilley
All Rights Reserved

...

He lifted his brows. “You’re onboard with outlaw justice?”

            “When it comes to keeping my family safe, absolutely,” she said, without missing a beat.

            The wind picked up, pushing against them, reminding him that the season was about to give way to a chilly fall. It caught strands of her pale hair, tugged them loose from her braid, swept them across her face. A strand got stuck in her lip gloss and she brushed it away, still looking up at him.

            A dawning awareness overcame him, as she stared up at him. She looked at him – a lot. Usually when he glanced her way, her eyes were already on him. Except for last time, at Waffle House, when she’d refused to make eye contact. Had she looked at him in high school? He tried to remember, but that time of his life was a faded blur, dominated by his obsession with breaking into the club, littered with groupies and cheerleaders.

            But Sam was looking at him now, and her lip gloss looked like it might taste good, and her brows tucked together with the slightest show of concern as she waited on him to say something.

            She was…lovely.

            He’d never had lovely before.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Release Updates

 
Bit of a misleading title, actually, because I'm not giving any dates. *crouches down to avoid rotten tomatoes* But let me explain.
 
Right after I announced the release date for Skeleton, I came down with the flu. It was a doozy of a flu, lemme tell you. I missed two solid weeks of writing, and those were two weeks I couldn't afford to miss given my timetable. My grandmother was in the hospital. I got sick again. And I felt the pressure of that deadline. I didn't want to let anyone down by pushing it back; I wanted to do the "professional" thing. I met all my due dates with time to spare, and aside from the fact that I'd intended the novel to be longer and meatier at the outset, I was happy with the outcome.
 
Except...I really did want more meat on those skeletal bones. And there were certain plot points I wanted to set into motion.
 
Fast forward to now. The writing on Smoke is coming along at a nice clip. It is my great hope that I can have the novel in your hands before the end of the year. BUT, the holidays are coming up. It's a busy time of year. It's sickness season. The last thing I want right now is to be constrained by a date, of all things, because my goal is to write the best book possible.
 
Which brings me to my next point, re: The Best Book Possible. You all know how I like to write by now. I feel fortunate that it resonates with so many readers. For those who disapprove, I promise you that my style is no accident. Words are not mere vehicles to take us to our ultimate destination. I am not a "get it done quick and fix it later" sort of writer. Many hours are spent at the computer debating precise word choice, the exact placement of scenes that, perhaps while not scintillating, are building our characters and the overall scope of the narrative.
 
Aidan's book is not a steamy biker romance. It is a story about complicated responsibility, the affects of the choices we make, and second chances. And within this story, a romance - maybe even steamy at times, we'll see. I want the book to hit certain notes; I want it to have a particularly lyrical sound to its narrative, and I want to do every little thing that will make it memorable and worthwhile for all of you. And in order to do that, I don't want to announce a date.
 
YET.
 
Be assured, the moment I know, you will know.
 
As to Snow in Texas, I don't have a Kindle/paperback release date for that either. But I plan to update it regularly, and it will hopefully help with the waiting.
 
I wish I was giving better news, but I wanted to get everyone up to speed. I've been sick this week, and sort of MIA, so I thought it best to address the release date question with one big post. I hope you'll be patient with me. Smoke will be worth the wait.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Snow in Texas


You've probably seen the link for Snow in Texas on my Facebook page by now. But in case you haven't, or in case you're wondering what the heck it is, I thought I'd offer a more in-depth explanation.
 
Colin you met in Half My Blood, the irresponsible brother Mercy tried to turn into hamburger on the living room floor. Well, Colin went back to NOLA to prospect with that chapter of the Dogs, and now he's being transferred to the Texas chapter. Snow is a tie-in adventure, starring Colin, Candyman and the rest of the Texas crew. Timeline-wise, it falls in between The Skeleton King and Secondhand Smoke, as we will be seeing some of these characters in Smoke. This is an ongoing story being told one chapter at a time, with hopefully regular updates, available free to all readers on Wattpad. When it's complete, it will be made available for Kindle and Nook, and probably even paperback.
 
It's been simmering in the back of my mind to write another novella, this one, in fact, but I didn't want to derail the main story timeline and push back Smoke publication. So I'm doing it this way, and personally, I love writing a chapter at a time. It should be a fun way to wait for the next book, due out sometime this winter.
 
Happy reading!
 


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Trick-or-Treat

 
I've already blogged about the fact that October is my favorite month. I love autumn, Halloween, everything creepy, Gothic, dark and celebratory about this time of the year. This month makes me as excited as a kid. But, neither being a kid nor having any of my own, Halloween tends to fall by the wayside these days - a true shame. So I feel like celebrating it this year.
 
Tomorrow marks exactly one month since The Skeleton King released, and while a month isn't exactly a milestone, I continue to be warmed and brightened by the overwhelming positive response to my Dartmoor books. I had two local events last month to launch Skeleton, and now I think it's time to have a little online fun. So starting tomorrow, I'm hosting two weeks of Trick-or-Treating.
 
Ready?
 
There will be:
- flash sales (24-48 hours)
- flash giveaways
- teasers
- assorted other treats and tidbits (no tricks involved!)
 
Everything's going to be dealt out on a flash basis, without prior warning, so you'll need to go like my Facebook page and check in daily to see the treat of the day. This would be a great chance to bring your friends into the series, or to check out some of my backlist books. Pop into FB tomorrow to join in!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Touching Nerves


The truest sentence that you know. And over the years, you will add to that first sentence, and eventually you will string together great reams of true sentences. And then you will write a true novel, and it will reach with invisible fingers off the page, sink through the skin of the reader, and touch nerves. It will stir memories and boil the blood. A true novel will not flatter a reader, but will force a reader to examine the world - and herself. A true novel will capture the essence of the human experience; it will not always be comfortable, and it will not always lead to bright places. But it will stay with you, as if you had lived it, because you saw the humanity in it. It gave you your reflection, and you either liked or loathed what you saw. But you are powerless to deny that it was, at its heart, true.

"I needed a reflection. To see if it would echo back..."
- Adam, Only Lovers Left Alive, 2014
**This Movie**
 
I published my first original novel in 2012, but prior to that, I'd been sharing my work publicly for years, since middle school, really. And in that time, I've come to appreciate reader feedback of all varieties. Reviews come in all shapes and sizes - as do humans, not so ironically - and there is something to be learned from each and every one. Because each review is a snapshot, a captured reflection, of the way your novel has touched deep nerves inside a reader.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A New Season

 
In all the hubbub of the launch party and then the JLCM event, I completely missed the chance to celebrate the arrival of fall.

 
I love October for several reasons. I love Halloween - I love rereading "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and cracking my massive volume of Poe stories. I love the old black and white horror movies. I love cappuccinos, and the smell of rotting leaves, and the way the horses are all frisky and tossing their manes in the morning. October is a month for heading indoors a little early each night. A month for first frosts, first fires, and the first whiff of snow on the air.
 
Normally, it's a time for reading, and I'm sure my chiropractor wishes I'd do just that, since he says I need "rest." But my own books are keeping me a little busy at the moment.
 
A couple of quick things on the "what's happening" front:
 
- An entire signed set of the Dartmoor books are up for bidding at a wonderful charity auction benefitting one of my very kind and supportive readers. Bidding is open a few more days, so there's still time to make a play for the books available. And all proceeds go to benefit the family, so it's a fantastic cause.
 
- I'm working on Dartmoor Book IV, Secondhand Smoke, which is Aidan's story. I felt the pressure during The Skeleton King, because I'd committed to a release date and then got sick. So with this book, I'm going to work merrily along with no release date announcement - for now, anyway. A LOT happens in this book, and it's going to be big, and any chance there is to really flesh out the world and bring the whole club into play, I'm going to take. It'll be fun. Fans will really enjoy it, I think, and that's who this book is for - not the on-the-fence-readers, but the long-haul ones. I'll try to share as much as I can as we go.

 
So my October looks like work, ponies, reveling in my horror roots, and hopefully getting some of that much-needed rest. I'm hoping for some fun blog posts to celebrate my favorite month.
 
Happy October, and happy reading, as always.
 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Music Monday - 10/5


Haven't done one of these in a while. Three can't-stop-listening-to songs from my weekend playlist to put me in the mood for Book 4.

"Wildfire" - Marianas Trench

"Wild Horses" - Bishop

"Here" - Alessia Cara

Saturday, October 3, 2015

JLCM Fall Sustainer Event


Buffet setup
 For a geeky introverted writer, the prospect of public speaking is always at least marginally terrifying. But I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful event than Thursday's dinner with the Junior League.
 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Reminiscing Week - The Skeleton King

 
First Line:
The trainer was a broad man, with a full dark beard.

Pages: 362

Publication Date: September 15, 2015
 
My Favorite Things about the Book:
The farm. I had a lot of fun playing with design and layout in my head. Briar Hall is admittedly a fantasy farm for me. Stone, tongue-and-groove, two arenas - sigh.
 
Walsh is one of my favorite boys, chiefly because he doesn't throw off a lot of obvious outlaw energy. Not everyone can be a six-five human wrecking ball (love you, Merc) and I like that Walsh can bring a different vibe into play. I love my strong silent types; the clever, responsible ones. Plus, there's the accent...


Things You May Not Know:
Well, you probably guessed it while reading, but I'm a real-life horse person. I used to manage a barn the way that Emmie does, so I can speak from experience when I say it's a backbreaking, never-ending job. A job we do out of love for the animals. And we love the smell of hay, fresh pine shavings, and good clean horse sweat.
 
Emmie's horse Apollo is modeled after my horse Markus, part-warmblood/part-guard dog.


Favorite Scenes:
Walsh and Emmie's first meeting.

Their dinner of "eggs and such."


Favorite Line:
"Club comes first. We protect it, and it protects the people who belong to it. The men who wear the patch, and the women we love, and the children they give us. When someone tries to hurt us, any of us, we put 'em down. Simple as that."


Last Line:
I can't put that here! Spoilers for people who haven't read. :)


Links:

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Reminiscing Week - Half My Blood

 
First Line:
Blood has been one of the primary flavors of my life.

Pages: 212

Publication date: June 16, 2015

My favorite things about the book:
I really enjoyed having the chance to write this one. I love when my favorite authors release extra tidbits, deleted scenes, or whole novellas, because I can't spend enough time with the characters I love. So it was fun to play out this little storyline for the true fans who wanted a little extra.

From the moment Dee flung that accusation at Mercy in her bedroom, about Remy and Evelyn O'Donnell, Colin went from this shapeless shadow in the background to a character I really wanted to introduce, and this novella gave me the chance to do that.
 
I also love comparing and contrasting it with the other half-sibling relationship in the story. Writing about those sorts of familiar relationship will always be my favorite aspect of the craft.


Things you might not know:
Colin's appearance and Aidan's accident were originally supposed to be a part of The Skeleton King, but it became clear that was too many storylines for one book.


Favorite Scene(s):
The Ava/Colin conversation just before Aidan and then Mercy come rushing in.

Michael and Holly having lunch together at work, because I love writing the soft moments.

 
Favorite Line(s):
He was wrong about one thing, though,” she added, quietly, and Colin’s head snatched around. “Mercy would never have made that decision. He would never have gone along with that plan. He would have killed them all.”
            A humorless snort flared Colin’s sharp, L√©cuyer nostrils. “He could have tried.”
            “No. He would have. That’s the thing you don’t know about your brother.” A little shiver stole across her skin. Not fear, not revulsion, but something very much like excitement. “He’s capable of anything. The deepest love, and the darkest violence. He doesn’t try things. He does them.”


Last Line:
She smiled.

Links:

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Reminiscing Week - Price of Angels

 
 
First Line:
I think I found my killer.

Pages: 414

Publication Date: March 23, 2015

My favorite things about the book:
Michael as the MC outcast. Though the club is a brotherhood, as with all families, there are the quiet members who don't quite fit in and who may have siblings, but lack friends within the group. It's fun to watch him grow socially.
 
Holly's very sweet, unspoken strength. Strength comes in all forms, and she has her own variety.
 
The tone of the novel. This is some of my favorite prose and I continue to be really pleased with the pacing and energy. Some of my proudest work, right here. It's my favorite of this series.
 
Keeping Mercy and Ava's story going. I can't let them go, and it was fun to work their continued adventures into this book.
 
Ian. :)
 
 
Things you might not know:
The angel on the cover is an angel from the Confederate Cemetery in Marietta, GA.
 
Michael is modeled (loosely) after Rochester from Jane Eyre. Obviously, he isn't wealthy, or a lord, and is even less talkative. But my love of the character was a driving inspiration behind Michael's severely lacking social graces.  
 
Holly's backstory. Completely gut-wrenching to write, and distressing to read during edits. But here's the thing about the level of detail in those flashbacks - it felt necessary. Because I had some sick enjoyment of being that descriptive? No, not at all. Far from it. But because too often terrible abuse is used as a plot device, and I think if you're going to talk about abuse in fiction, it needs to be real, raw, and make you uncomfortable, because that's how you celebrate the survivors, by acknowledging what they went through. By showing the past, and showing the present, I felt Holly's character was established in such bold strokes, in a way that honored her, and didn't lean on her abuse as a cheap plot device. Showing vs. Telling. Realistic vs. Manipulative.
 
I go back and forth, back and forth, but these two might be my favorite couple. They aren't the sorts of characters you'd like to be yourself; but for me, their love is warming and more romantic than most stories I write - you could almost call it a romance novel.
 
 
My favorite scene(s):
The first time he comes to her loft to see her, and they sit in the parlor of the house, him being all spooky.
 
When Michael "takes care" of Dewey. "Michael," she whispered. She didn't understand any of this; wasn't even sure what it was she wanted so badly. "Go downstairs and wait, honey. Just wait."
 
Wynn and Michael in the hospital, waiting for Holly to wake up - that uncle/nephew exchange. "Ah, son. I know it hurts. But it's worth it. She's worth it."
 
 
My favorite lines:
"'Beautiful' isn't a feminine word. I don't even think it's a human word. It isn't what something looks like; it's what something is."
 
"Congratulations. You just got a divorce."
 
"Her dragons are dead. And I think...I think if she wants to move on, and leave all this behind, I have to let her go."
 
"Can I give you a piece of advice? One f*cked-up a**hole to another?"
 
 
Last Line:
All those feathers, light, and soft, and hope-scented, lifting her to heaven.
 
Links:

Monday, September 28, 2015

Reminiscing Week - Fearless

 
 
First line:
"There are no facts, only interpretations." Friedrich Nietzsche had said that.
 
Pages: 738
 
Publication date: January 13th, 2015

My favorite things about the book:
Its size. I know there are readers who are completely repelled by the length of this novel, and in our world of instant gratification, I don't blame them. I didn't set out to write a book of a particular length, and was shocked, and a little horrified, to learn that it was so lengthy when I finished. But I wouldn't change it. This was such a special project for me, and I wasn't willing to sacrifice the quality of their very throwback Gothic narrative for the sake of speed or that ever-mentioned "tightness" of contemporary novels.
 
New Orleans. A timeless, gorgeous city, and only the South will do when you're alluding to English literary movements.
 
Mercy. You demon, you.
 
Ava. You delight and horrify me all at once.

 
Things you might not know:
If hard-pressed, I'd probably tell you horror is my favorite genre. I am not a romantic individual; I'm a Romantic. Horror and those rich old Gothic romances were born out of the Romantic movement, and there's something about love, passion, and horror that are irrevocably linked. Okay, get to the point, Lauren, you're thinking. I'm big on reviving classic themes through contemporary stories, and when I wrote Fearless, I wrote it as if it were a Gothic character tale with strong horror elements, not as if it were a contemporary romance novel.
 
In an homage to Heathcliff, Mercy is not a "bad boy," driven by rebellion and hell-raising. He's passionate, tortured, and tragic, driven by love, above all things. This makes him one of my favorite characters to write, because there is no artifice in him, and you never question his motives...even if his means are extremely questionable.
 
I love to play him off of Ava, who is perpetually caught between her passionate and logical halves. She is his echo, but in so many ways is made of stronger steel, as any good Gothic heroine should be. It is a Southern, feminine steel, full of grace, but inflexible all the same.
 
 
My favorite scene(s):
The Five Years Ago flashback scene in Hamilton House, with Mason. "Ava. Call him off."
 
On the highway in NOLA: Then it was just Larsen, his hair a pale halo in the sunlight as he turned to stare at her, uncomprehending. He was screaming.
 
 
My favorite lines (for purely emotional reasons):
Ava: "What I know is that everyone in his life who loved him, or claimed to, allowed him to get hurt. Badly. His whole life. That stops with me. I love him. And I won't let him get hurt anymore."
 
Ghost: "There's not anyone in the world who could make you less than what you are."
 
 
Last Line:
He kissed her again, in their room full of sunlight, and treasured memories, and possibilities.
 
My thanks:
I can never say "thank you" enough to my truly wonderful readers who have been so supportive of this book, and this series. I keep at it for you guys. You make me Fearless.
 
Links:
 
 
 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Gathering Thoughts

 
Any time I give any sort of public talk, I always begin the event by reminding everyone that I'm a writer, and not a public speaker. It lowers their expectations, that way. So when I come to a screeching verbal halt and get Bambi-eyed, they can lean over to one another and whisper, "She's a writer, remember. Writers are strange folks."
 
But in all seriousness, having to sit down and gather your thoughts about your career, your voice, your process, and your approach to art can be a very helpful thing. Most of the time, I'm running off pure impulse and subconscious. It's a theatrical trailer and a play program in my head, with my muse saying, "Sit down, darling, and let me handle this." So when I put a presentation together, it's a bit of a revelation, and it's fun to dissect everything and package it up in coherent paragraphs.
 
In prep for next Thursday's evening event, I'm finding that, as usual, I have very little to say about myself, but a lot to say about art. I've now got pages and pages of notes that are inspiring all sorts of Workshop Wednesday posts. This process has reenergized me; talking about the importance of prose, and the revival of classic themes - it makes me want to write, and write. I'm so looking forward to an evening of talking shop.
 
Quick reminder that the JLCM Sustainer event has changed time and venues.