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Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday Housekeeping

Happy Friday, all. Had a few notes for the day.

Genre Clarification

This month's Romance Writers Report contains an interesting article that made the distinction between erotica and erotic romance.
Interesting for me because it reinforces what I say about my Dartmoor books. They aren't erotica, erotic romance, or even romance, for that matter. Fearless and Price of Angels have new genre classifications on Amazon, for ease of search. Now, you can find the books under Literary Fiction, and Fiction Sagas.
Less Computer Time
I'm deep in the writing zone as we speak, working to get Half My Blood finished, but overall, I need to spend less time at my desk, thanks to my neck, and will be finding creative ways to write. I'm always reachable on Facebook and Twitter if you ever have questions.
Half My Blood
Supposed to release 6/16. Preorder here. I cannot stress enough that this is NOT a single-couple romance, DOES NOT contain a stand-alone adventure that wraps up neatly. This novella is intended as a supplement to the first two installments of the series.
The Skeleton King
Will be a full-length novel. More details will be released when we get close to the eventual release date.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Workshop Wednesday - Showing vs. Telling and Emotion

That old staple rule of showing vs. telling. We've all heard it. We've all said it. The difference between relating a dry story, and bringing to life a vibrant, emotional one lies in the clever prose we employ. I love this Maya Angelou quote - all the words in the world have been used before. The way we use them is what sets us apart as authors.

When it comes to emotion, the idea is to bring the audience into the scene. You want them to think "I've been there. I've stood in that character's shoes." And the best way to do this is to approach the writing as if you were directing a physical performance.

Think of it this way: If you're watching a movie, you can read the characters' emotions. They don't say, "I'm angry." "I'm annoyed." "I'm afraid." You hear them yell. You see their hands tremble. You watch their eyes flash.

The same is true of written actions. As the writer, you describe the character's state of being, and the audience can read the emotion in them. Not only that, but because you've described it so well, they can "see" the emotion too. They can feel it.

Properly showing action and emotion makes your story more interesting:

Ex. 1: She was sad when she remembered him.
Ex. 2: His ghost was everywhere: in plate glass windows, walking alongside her; in the faces of every man who smiled at her. When she walked into Starbucks, her eyes went directly to their old favorite table...and glazed over with tears. She left without her ritual cup that morning.
The first sentence gets the job done. It gives the reader the appropriate information. But it's boring. And it doesn't tell you how deep the sadness runs. I can be "sad" because I dropped my doughnut in the parking lot. Or I can be so heartsick I can't bear to keep up with a routine because the coffee shop brings up too many happy memories. Big difference.

This is the fun part of writing. This is where your creativity comes out to play; where you experiment with words and make them your own. You become the trainer dictating their behavior, and thus you find your style.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Happy Birthday, Viktor

Six Weeks

Two days shy of a year ago, I got to hold a two-day old puppy that looked and felt a whole lot like a fat sausage. Today, that sausage turns one, and it's hard to believe this burly, toothy, extremely bratty dog is an entire year old. When he was six weeks, I jokingly called him "Four Pounds of Murder." Well, now he's Ninety-Something Pounds of Murder. I named him after a vampire, and what a hell-raiser he is. Happy birthday, you dork.
Eight Weeks


Friday, May 22, 2015

Teaser #HalfMyBlood 5/22

Half My Blood
Copyright © 2015 by Lauren Gilley  
“What’s that?” he asked, nodding toward the tidy stack of handwritten pages she’d left beside the keyboard.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Controlled Chaos

As of this moment, I have errant segments of story in handwritten notebooks and on my old iTunes-relegated computer. It is literally all over the place. Figuratively, though? Half My Blood has come together in ways that are artistically and analytically unexpected. Very much not all over the place at this point. What started as a fluff piece, a quick read I'd planned in order to explore Remy's coming into the world, took turns I didn't expect, and grew into something that is a slow-burning lead-in to so much of the epic narrative moving forward. This has become the most challenging project, which is part of what's made it so enjoyable. It's upped the ante for The Skeleton King. And I hope it will be as much fun to read as it has been to write.

It is my hope to be able to share a special sneak peek of The Skeleton King at the end of Half My Blood. The novella releases June 16th.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Workshop Wednesday - Give It Time

This is going to be a short post because my neck is screaming at me, and I can't stay long at the computer. But this week we're continuing the talk about expressing emotion in writing. Today's topic: realistic emotional growth.

If we're honest with ourselves, we don't always interpret our emotions correctly at first. While we can see straight to the heart of someone else's problems, we often struggle to define our own. We have our epiphany moments, yes, but those take time to reach. And often, we cannot neatly package our realizations, only express them in ways that make sense to us.

When it comes to our fictional characters, they should reflect this same human struggle. Conflict drives plot, and creates story. If a character is so self-aware that each emotional hiccup is dealt with immediately and with total control, you have no conflict, and therefore no story. To give your novel that "real" feeling, it's important to leave realization hanging out to dry for a while. Leave scenes at tense moments. Have characters walk away without any sort of interpretation. Like a well-written TV show, give the audience the frustrated conversation, and leave the soul-searching for another scene. If every scene wraps up tidily, that doesn't smack of reality...or compelling drama. Let wounds fester, let moods foul, and your work will more accurately reflect life.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Music Monday - 5/18

I had to post it. You know I did. It's Music Monday, and...yeah, I had to. Pop music is my secret retreat. When I've been in a super-analytical headspace (like lately), and I near the end of an emotionally-taxing project (like now), and things are crazy (like when a family member is in poor health and it's all-hands-on-deck, like now), I enjoy the crap out of my pop music. If you didn't see this video last night on the awards, it's a lot of fun. The cameos! - Hayley Williams!, Mariska Hargitay!, Ellen Pompeo!, Jessica Alba! Love.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Pre-Order Day

Good morning! Today kicks off pre-orders for the Dartmoor novella Half My Blood, and I'm really excited about this one. The release date is June 16th. You can pre-order it right here.


It’s summer in Knoxville, and if the outlaw crew at Dartmoor Inc. thought they were getting a respite from the drama…they were kidding themselves.

Almost a year ago, Mercy’s dying mother claimed he had a half-brother, sired by the beloved father he’d always thought infallible, raised by another man as his own. He’s been in denial ever since, but when Colin O’Donnell arrives, it’s time to face facts. Turns out his family isn’t lost – he only wishes this member of it was.

Holly McCall is determined to prove her worth to the other old ladies – Maggie, specifically. She never dreamed of a life like this, and as she searches for self-worth and acceptance, she is wrapped step-by-step in the gentlest love of the fiercest man.

For Aidan and Tango, this summer is a season for realizations. For waking to a vision of the future. And for drowning in the past.

In this Dartmoor Series novella, readers will spend time with the entire club, meet new voices, and fall deeper into the world of the Lean Dogs MC. Not a stand-alone romance, Half My Blood balances several central storylines with delicacy and passion. Brimming with emotion, spotlighting secondary characters, Dartmoor fans won’t want to miss this bridge between novels two and three in the series. Book three, The Skeleton King, releases September 2015. 

Amazon Giveaway:

Today also kicks off an Amazon giveaway of Fearless. I'm giving away two paperback copies in a quick flash giveaway.

Enter here.

And if you go to my Facebook page, you can share the giveaway post for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card. Please come help me share this series with new readers!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Book Club Reads

Out on the sidewalk in front of the shop where we meet.
Last night was the monthly book club meeting, and we read Undressing the Moon by T. Greenwood.

I really enjoyed the book, though "enjoy" implies a certain happiness, and this is far from a light, bubbly book. Dark, depressing at times, the novel tells parallel past and present stories of central character Piper Kincaid, a thirty-year-old seamstress struggling with cancer and recalling the way her past - specifically her mother's departure from her life - have shaped the way she handles tragedy. It is a deeply reflective book, written in a lyrical, poetic prose that snagged me from page one. This is not chick lit; it's a raw look at some difficult subject matter, written with an artistic, mature voice. I highly recommend it, though be warned you'll need a dose of laughter afterward to shake off the darkness. This was my first time reading Greenwood, and will look into her other books.

We've read some really good, meaty, discussion-worthy books so far this year, and this one was no exception.

Next up we're reading:

Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy (Can't wait to see the movie!)

Teaser 5/15 - #HalfMyBlood

Half My Blood
© 2015 by Lauren Gilley          
“He was wrong about one thing, though,” she added, quietly, and Colin’s head snatched around, dark eyes drilling against her face. “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.”

            He gave her a long, level stare. “You’re a spooky chick, you know that?”

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Workshop Wednesday - Fever Rings

I've been thinking a lot lately about the way reading is therapy. As writers, we talk about the catharsis of the written word; channeling our traumas to the page, dressing them in someone else's clothes, and in doing so, sifting through the wreckage so we can find the bright specks of lessons. And we're hoping in doing so, we can help someone else, a reader, find those bright specks too. That human need to be understood, and to understand. And so the therapy, I think, isn't tied to the act of writing or reading - but to the words themselves. The idea that injustices were committed to permanence, and can therefore be acknowledged.

I bring this up today because yesterday, the farrier came, and the horses had their hooves trimmed. (I started to type "feet." We horse people don't use proper terms most of the time) My gelding, Markus, has one of the most dramatic fever rings I've ever seen on his left hind. He had a terrible flare-up of lymphangitis last summer, and the hoof was never quite the same afterward. When horses experience any sort of change in nutrition or health, whether traumatic or not, a fever ring will appear at the top of the hoof, just beneath the coronary band, and will grow out as the hoof grows and is trimmed. The more traumatic the health change, the more significant the fever ring.

This is a bad one. Horses never lie; their bodies tell their stories, their traumas visible, and not just emotional. I've known horses with brutal scars, with lumpy once-broken noses, limps, phobias. They are slow to trust, because there's no social pressure on them to squelch their fears, and pretend to be normal. There is no fear of expression - only of those who could hurt them, as they've been hurt before.

But as humans, we must act as if everything's alright, and we seek our solace in words that we can read to ourselves privately. Our fever rings are in our minds, and only the idea that someone else out there somewhere knows of their existence helps to ease them, helps them to grow out, so they can eventually be trimmed away. That's why the words themselves are so important to me while writing. Until it comes time for my own catharsis, I want to fuel others'.

The next few weeks, my Workshop Wednesday posts are going to focus on emotional expression in writing. I recently read a NY Times bestseller lauded for its style of prose, and was appalled by the clumsiness of emotional expression within the text. It's an important topic for me, so that's what we'll talk about next week.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Music Monday - 5/11

This New Dawn rose setup with the trellis was a Mother's Day gift a few years ago.
Gosh, there's lots to do this week. Next Saturday, pre-orders begin for Half My Blood, so I've got to get ready between now and then. I have an entire book to read for book club that I've put off til the last minute. Stupid. Anyway - I need something to mellow me out this morning.

I love the original version of this song, but think this orchestral cover is so gorgeous.

"Home" - Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (Vitamin String Quartet Tribute)

Hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day yesterday!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Teaser - #HalfMyBlood 5/8

Happy Friday!

Half My Blood
Copyright © 2015 by Lauren Gilley
“You done yet?”

            In answer, Mercy unwrapped the cling film off the second leftover chicken sandwich Ava had brown-bagged him for lunch and took a huge bite of it. He was enjoying setting the guy on edge. They’d walked over to the clubhouse, far enough from the bike shop that, should things devolve to punch-throwing, they wouldn’t be doing it in front of paying customers. Mercy, in what he thought of as an inspired choice, had gone in, snagged his lunch, and was devouring it down to the last Dorito crumb, making Colin wait. He’d never done that when they were kids; it felt damn good.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Nerd Things - Marvel Edition

(Not my gif; property of its creator; don't sue me, you won't get much)

Where do I start?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

By Hand

Hello, Wednesday. How did you get here so quickly?

I'm thinking I might do some writing by hand today. I wrote most of "Green Like the Water" with pen and paper, and though many times my fingers couldn't keep up with the stream of words in my head, and I was forced to go more slowly, doing things the old fashioned way turned out to be freeing and inspiriting.

For one, it helped on those busy days. Rather than wait for the computer to boot up, to think, opening tabs and eventually becoming distracted by the Web, the notebook only needs its cover flipped and then it's off to the races. I imagine it feels something like a musician unplugging the guitar and having an impromptu jam session on the sofa.

For another thing, it felt deeply personal, to put down the words by hand, and I think as a result, I wrote a little more bravely. I was a little "stuck" with the story, and changing the pace of the work was the shot of WD-40 it needed to get going again.

So, I have a busy week of errands to run, and I think I'll go unplugged some. The next time you feel caught in a rut, try the old ink-to-page routine. The smell of the fresh paper, the light tang of the pen marks - It's like therapy, and it's productive at the same time.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

#Dartmoor Merchandise

Okay, so I'm officially talking about it now. If you love the Lean Dogs, and want to show that love, you can now do so with a whole variety of Dartmoor merch available to everyone through Redbubble.

I decided to go with Redbubble for three reasons. 1) I've bought lots of indie-artist-designed fandom t-shirts from the site and have been very happy with delivery speed and quality of the product. The shirts wash well, wear well, and don't fade, crack, peel, etc. 2) More than just t-shirts and hoodies, they offer designs printed on mugs, wall art, stickers, laptop screens, iPhone cases, pillows, and tote bags. 3) Customers can order directly from Redbubble and it cuts me out as the middlewoman who has to print and ship everything. It's a very user friendly site and I wouldn't use them if I hadn't purchased from them happily myself.

Let's take a look at the gear:

This is the small size tote, printed with the Dartmoor design. It isn't a heavy-duty bag, just a light one. My mom said, "It's dinky. But you're a dinky girl, so it works." It comes in two larger sizes as well. Black straps, white body with the logo on both sides.

This is a unisex tank with the Love The Lean Dogs design. Size small shown here, and fits loose everywhere except the bust.

Other designs: Fearless, and Lord Have Mercy

I have some contests planned for the near future, and can't wait to give some of this stuff away as prizes. I'm still in the early stages, and plan to add more designs. I am considering requests, so if there's something Dartmoor related you want on a shirt, please feel free to contact me :)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Music Monday - 5/4

Knoxville, TN
It would be a lie if I said I ever considered doing things differently. Because when it comes to writing, I could not wrest a different variety of storytelling from my fingers. It's my art. And art it too precious and important to be tossed aside for any sort of fashion. For trends. For bandwagons and crowds. So when I say that I've done some reflecting, it's never because I want to write something different; only that I want to find the best way to express myself, so that readers will understand that, yes, though these stories are not the mainstream, it is because I don't want them to be. Writing, for me, is an art form that has the special capability of capturing an essence of real life. It gathers up nostalgia and heartbreak and the bitter dust of reality, and presses it into inked pages. And that is magic. That is what echoes in the mind long, long after.

So I guess what I'm rambling about on a Monday morning, is my wish not to serve up fast food fare in the hopes that you'll gobble it down, not remembering the taste as soon as it's left your tongue. I'm hoping instead you'll take a trip with me; that you'll walk beneath the swaying streetlights of an unremarkable Southern town, and breathe the smell of river water, and know these people because they are attainable and human. And love them because they are just as extraordinary and resilient as you are.

I'm Southern, after all. I love Gothic, and epic, and taut, and subtle.

Listening for a day of Southern literary reflection:

"God's Gonna Cut You Down" - Johnny Cash

"Nothing Else Matters" - Lissie (cover of the Metallica song)

"Turning Home" - David Nail

"Every Storm" - Gary Allan


Sunday, May 3, 2015

I've Been Garden Sitting

My grandmother has been in the hospital and my mom's been spending nights with her up there (and lots of days, too) so I've been tending to the newborn veggie garden. Of all the living things I've "sat" before, I gotta say garden sitting is the easiest. The worst might be chickensitting. Barnsitting is much more work, but chickens...not my cup o' tea.

Got lots of good writing done - Half My Blood is at 32,000 words and 82 pages, so it's well on its way to being a complete novella!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Teaser - #HalfMyBlood 5/1

Okay, this is a long one - probably the longest teaser I'm going to post before the book comes out. This is the first look at Sam - her POV. In my imagination she has the sort of gorgeous hair I always wish I had. Happy Friday, and enjoy!

Half My Blood
Copyright © 2015 by Lauren Gilley

No, there weren’t a lot of guys in her past, because she’d been focusing all her energy on working, getting her education, and taking care of her family.