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Monday, June 29, 2015

Music Monday, Chatting About Walsh and Other Stuff

Be warned, this is sort of a dump post. Lots to say, without the patience or time to space it out properly.

This weekend, there was the cutest little pavilion a short walk up from the restaurant where I had dinner, and the band was really good! Lots of blues covers, mainly B.B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughan, with one great cover of "Voo Doo Child" thrown in. Hard to go wrong. And the hour spent listening struck me on a couple of levels.

For starters, Walsh is a blues man, a total convert to the Tennessee culture. So my mind went to him, and his story, and the series as a whole.

Secondly, I became more deeply aware of a parallel. Here was this small band, playing their hearts out - quite well - in a small town on a Saturday night, dreaming of bigger things, thankful for the applause they had in the moment. Not so different from the indie author struggle. No agent, no crew, no staff, no publicist singing your praises - just you and your work, hanging out in the wind, pouring your heart into your art and bowing deeply in thanks for the praise that comes your way.

Dartmoor has felt heavy lately. It's a very involved series, and it takes a lot out of me. I've been in a subdued headspace, not wanting to blog, Tweet, etc., not feeling too excited by the prospect of beginning another full-length, in-depth novel. Sitting and listening to songs that I love - songs that, in my mind, Walsh loves - was good for me. It smoothed away some of those jagged edges of discontent.

The thing about Walsh is - he's my favorite kind of character. Not sure if you've noticed, but I really don't enjoy the whole "alpha male" stereotypical stud. I like writing the quiet, thoughtful guys, the ones who think more than they say. Most of the fun of Walsh's story is digging up his past, learning his interesting family history, and watching someone practical and effective do what he does best. His story is important to me, and it was difficult to work on it because in my mind, I was already hearing the backlash. But that was a mistake. Those who like the series will hopefully like it; all I can do is write the story in the way that it comes to me, hone it, edit it, and believe in it.

I'm currently hooked on this song. And aside from feeding my pop addiction, it reiterates the way I'm feeling right now. This is my house. I want everyone to feel welcome, but if they hate it here, then they don't have to stay. I will make no apologies.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Vicarious Travel

This weekend, I've been traveling vicariously, through research, to some lovely spots in England: chiefly, Brighton Racecourse, in East Sussex, and nearby Rottingdean. Walsh's story is going to have a different tone than some of the others, thanks to his history, and the experiences of some of the new characters who will be introduced.

I have such a busy week coming up, thanks so my two weeks of convalescence. I'm ready to tackle it, and hopefully, get some decent writing done.

Rottingdean, East Sussex, UK

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Why I Write This Way

Okay, I did it. I'm sitting at the computer. It only took me until 1:00 to talk myself into sitting upright. Hey, that's progress! This has been an awful bout of flu. The muscle aches, the exhaustion, the headache, the queasiness. Just awful. But hey, I made it all the way across the living room to my desk, so that's progress.

I made the mistake, when I first booted up, of opening The Skeleton King and scanning what I've got so far. Ugh. Don't ever try to write when you're sick. You hate everything about your work, yourself, pretty much everything. Just don't. So then I decided I'd better blog, and then realized I have nothing to blog about, seeing as how I've done nothing for days but sleep, watch old The King of Queens reruns, and read. So hey, let's talk about reading. Let's talk about what I like to read, in the hopes that it gives better insight for my readers into why I write the way that I do.

I have very eclectic taste in books. When I was little, my mom gifted me with sweet animal-centric stories, and my dad gave me Edgar Rice Burroughs and all sorts of things seven-year-olds probably shouldn't be reading. So I'm not a genre-specific reader. Instead, what I've discovered about myself over time is that I am deeply attracted to rich, textural, immersive narrative styles. I've been truly blessed with a wonderful, truly kind reader base, and I am thankful for each and every one of them. We have the loveliest discussions on Facebook. But I know that there are casual readers, who've stumbled across my books via a friend's Goodreads list, who are disappointed in the substantial length, florid prose style, generous breadth of storylines, and the distinctly non-raunchy sex scenes. I try, tactfully, through summaries and author notes, to signify that anyone hoping for a quick romp, or skimming through looking for the dirty bits will be let down. I think sometimes I'm too tactful. the interest of tact, here's what I love best:

Pedestal Authors
No one is ever going to dislodge them. They are the artists who make me loathe my own work, and who stagger me with what can be accomplished.
- J.R.R.Tolkien
- Washington Irving
- Jane Austen
- Charlotte and Emily Bronte
- C.S. Lewis
- Rudyard Kipling
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- Margaret Mitchell

My Deep Love for Romantic Horror Writers
I have always adored the crumbling damp mansions, the macabre nightscapes, the ravens, the tombstones, the trailing cobwebs. The gorgeous prose of horror writers who played on atmosphere, nature, and below-surface universal human fears. Not gory modern slasher stuff, but flat-out CREEPY.
- Edgar Allan Poe
- Bram Stoker (Dracula is the most brilliant book)
- Mary Shelley
- H.P. Lovecraft (moving into Post-Modern with him, but with true terror and not all the hipster nonsense of today)

He's already told every story better than anyone else. He's in my Pedestal category, but he needed his own spot, too.

Contemporary Reading
Unlike the heavy stuff above, this is for continual, everyday consumption, to keep me sharp.
- I set out last year to read everything Anne Rice has written, and I'm still working on it, but My God, her Vampire Chronicles.
- Diana Gabaldon
- Stephen King
- Tana French
- George R.R. Martin (I'm a book purist, and had to leave off the show several seasons ago)
- Patrick Rothfuss
- J.R. Ward
- Lisa Kleypas
- Tami Hoag

I'll read just about any genre, but prefer mystery, literary fiction, horror, and historical. For me, I must engage with realistic characters, and I must find something interesting and delightful in the prose itself. Simplistic and crude is not my scene - I like beautiful words, I like laugh-out-loud moments, I like vivid imagery, I like strong world-building, and I would rather read one 700 page book of quality than seven crappy 100 page books. (By the way, 100 pages is not a novel, but a novella. I don't quite understand this new trend of supershort books)

I hope a look inside my "library," so to speak, has provided better insight into the books that have shaped my creativity. There are heaps and heaps of titles available on Amazon designed for readers who enjoy short, sexy books. I don't want to write those books. I want to write books for readers who are more like me. I thank my readers for letting me do so.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Song to Share

First off, I want to say "thank you" to my wonderful readers for helping me celebrate the release of Half My Blood on Tuesday. Though small, and though lacking any central action, this book plucks several important threads loose from the weave, and I'm so excited about all the stories that will unfold as we move forward.

Since I missed Music Monday, I wanted to share this track from the new Florence + The Machine album. I love "Ship to Wreck," but "Which Witch" is haunting, spooky, and has a real "Seven Devils" vibe. Perfect listening for getting back into the writing frame of mind.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Half My Blood

 It's here! Half My Blood is available.

Download your ebook here.

I'm giving away 3 paperback copies via Amazon, and you can enter by following this link.

I'm answering questions about the book and series on FB, so drop me a comment or message over there if you're curious about anything.

If you haven't started the series, now is the perfect time! Pick up Fearless and Price of Angels for just 99c each today only.

Thank you, readers! Happy Reading

Monday, June 15, 2015

Half My Blood - Chapter One

Tomorrow is the big day! Today is the last day to preorder Half My Blood. After that it'll just be...for sale. Ha. Anyway, here's a look at Chapter One: The Henley Street Bridge. Please be warned that it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, so if you'd like to wait until you have the entire book to read, I won't blame you.

Happy Reading!
Henley Street Bridge, Knoxville, TN

Half My Blood
Copyright © 2015 by Lauren Gilley  

Sunday, June 14, 2015


I'm reading several books right now, a bad habit into which my constant writing has pushed me. I HAVE to read to keep sharp, and one of my current reads is Middlemarch, by George Eliot.

First off, George Eliot is a pen name for Mary Ann Evans, English journalist and philosopher who turned fiction-writer to publish such classics as The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, Daniel Deronda, and this hefty novel I'm reading now, lauded as her masterpiece. First published in 1871, Middlemarch, like other great English novels, is a critical, satiric, sometimes tragic examination of human behavior. I'm reading the Penguin Classics edition, and so far, on page 168, I'm really enjoying it. Not light, breezy reading, but written with sharp wit and clever turns of phrase, I could just as easily be reading about modern characters, to listen to their interactions.

I'm one of those obnoxious people who think it's important for all authors, regardless of genre, to read classic works, and I try to pepper my reading list with them whenever I can. The thing about the classics is that they're timeless. They aren't bogged down in problems of the moment, but look at broad, universal human topics.

I also love the way The Greats allowed their characters to grow and mature. I think character development is a lost art in today's money-money-gimme-now world of book publishing. Characters are expected to be perfect from the outset. This is boring, but for some reason is promoted, and, I think, even asked for by some readers. I'm old school, and I enjoy watching characters struggle with big issues; I like to watch them come out more learned and whole on the other side of the story.

I've been absorbed by the novel and look forward to slowly making my way through it in the next couple of weeks.

Pride helps us; and pride is not a bad thing when it only urges us to hide our own hurts - not to hurt others.

Our passions do not live apart in locked chambers.

A prig is a fellow who is always making you a present of his opinions.

~George Eliot, Middlemarch

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Workshop Wed - Wait For the Real Thing

A FB convo sparked the idea for this post, for which I'm thankful, because I had no idea what to blog about today. Thanks, ladies!

(Jason Momoa as Mercy dream-casting)
i love him so so so so so much jason momoa from game of thrones
Wait for the real thing. And I'm not talking about men - not real ones, anyway. I'm talking about characters. Characters like Mercy who made it possible for me to revive a story I loved, and to make it worth reviving.

For me, a novel always starts with the characters. If you sat me down and told me to come up with a story concept, to create a plot outline, I would be at a complete loss. In my mind, it's always the characters, their dynamic and relationships, and then the plot grows organically from them. Not for everyone, but it's the only way I can work successfully. I am unable to come up with a great story, and plug interesting characters in later. They must interest me first, and then I can create a story for them. And when I say create, I mean that they come to me in dreams and tell me through hint and suggestion about their pasts.

I know I've mentioned that Fearless existed in another form prior to the final novel version. It was very different, save for Ava and Maggie, and Carter - characters who were of my own creation and who I wanted desperately to give new life in an original way. But I loved my girls, and I knew that if I crammed them into a story with male characters I wasn't excited about, the story would be lackluster at best. So Ava and Mags (and sweet baby Carter) got to sit on a back shelf for a few years. To be honest, I had lost hope of bringing them back. I needed guys who were complex, challenging, at times hard to root for, who loved as hard as they fought, and your standard "alpha male" simply wouldn't do. Oh well, I thought. It was a nice idea, but it won't happen.

And then Mercy entered the picture.

His appearance in Keeping Bad Company was this odd little fluke, this character who was big and loud and cheerful in his ruthlessness. And he and Walsh - just cameo characters - became an obsession. And then I realized that this was what I'd been waiting for. Mercy was Ava's man. Hallelujah, at long last, he'd arrived. And the magic thing is that when it's right, it's sooo right, and the story begins to write itself. From Mercy and Walsh, it was a blast to flesh out the rest of the Lean Dogs. It was like meeting new friends.

So in the midst of this rambling, my WW message is this: Don't throw tricky ideas away. You might simply be waiting for the real thing, the right character to show up, and when he walks in, it's a wonderful thing.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

#HalfMyBlood - Deleted Scene

Just one more week, guys! Half My Blood releases next Tuesday, and if you preorder it here, it'll be delivered to your Kindle.

A couple things:

1) I'm giving away two paperback copies next Tuesday on release day. It will be a flash Amazon giveaway, and I'll post the link here and on FB.

2) Fearless and Price of Angels will be on sale next Tuesday for one day only. Download the first two novels of the series for 99c each. (And in the case of Fearless, that's a very good deal for a very big book)

Today, I want to share a deleted scene from Half My Blood. It didn't make the cut because it was too fluffy and the book was fast turning into a novel instead of a novella. So, if you like the fluffy bits, please enjoy :)

Below the cut...

Monday, June 8, 2015

We Have A Winner

Today's music pick is "New York New York" because that's what they play before the Belmont Stakes, and we have a new Triple Crown Winner!

CONGRATULATIONS to American Pharoah and Victor Espinoza.

There's a part of me, having seen so many horses warped by the race track, knowing there is a dark, dark side to the business, that wants to hate horse racing. But there is an undeniable magic to this sport. It's terribly romantic. I cried Saturday, when I watched American Pharoah cross the finish line, because winning one of the jewels of the Triple Crown is a feat; winning all three is mind-blowing. There's something timeless and noble in the air at a race track. Something mythic about this sport. The horse is the ephemeral element - he doesn't care about the money, or the publicity, or the legacy; the incredible spirit of these animals will always humble me. I'm so glad I got to witness this moment in history.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Xeno Does Impressions

The day after a deadline is bliss. It's a big, deep breath. I've spent the day so far cleaning house, and you KNOW it's time for a breather when house cleaning sounded better than writing.

But always, it's when I decide to take a little break, and concentrate on mundane things, that the ol' imagination sneaks up and taps me on the shoulder. Here's my creeping ideas, as impersonated by Xeno the barn cat.

"Oh, it's you. Hello."
"Hold on. I don't think you heard me. Um..."
"I'm coming to get you."

Friday, June 5, 2015

#HalfMyBlood Teaser 6/5

I feel kinda bad that I didn't post one last Friday. I've reached a point where I don't think I can share any more without giving away too much of the story. So just a little teaser for today. Gifs not mine.

Happy Friday

Jason Momoa gif
“You wanna swap places for the day? I’d kill to get away from this.” He gestured to the bike.

Michael snorted. “I think Hol’d have a coronary when you walked in for dinner.”

A slow smile eased the tightness in Mercy’s features. “Wait. Was that…did you just crack a joke? Is that what I’m hearing?”

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Zone

I've been deep in the editing zone for the last couple of weeks, and that's why I've been semi-MIA around here. Tomorrow night is the deadline for my ebook final draft of Half My Blood and "frazzled" doesn't begin to cover it. The closer the due date looms, the more I begin to think "I never should have written this book." I think that with every book I write, so no surprises there, but it's a less than productive thought process.

The truth is, I'm excited about this one, because it's different. Without a single, linear storyline, HMB was like writing a series of vignettes. And I have to tell you, vignettes are my guilty pleasure. I love words, and I love shiny, standalone scenes, and this book was a chance to play with some of that. It was also a chance to touch base with certain characters before I get locked into Walsh's story.

Some scattered thoughts I wanted to share:

- I don't like reading books that are photocopy edits of other books just like them. Romance novels Costco style, one just like the next in bulk. So I set out to write something literary, true-to-life, and very different. If this style hasn't worked for you in Fearless and Angels, it will for sure not work for you in Blood.

- I love Tango. I love his brokenness, and sweetness, and the things that lay ahead for him.

- Michael's pretty unapologetically lovable at this point.

- Resolutions don't come quickly or easily; I believe in patience, and reality, and epic narratives.

- Biker life is not glamorous

- Mama needs a mental break after this one

Okay, I'm going to get back in the zone. Then we can have some fun with this book release :)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Music Monday 6/1

"Crystal Ball" - P!nk is the Music Monday track. I love her voice on this one, and the lyrics are hitting me just right today.
A new month, one that feels like the official start of summer. Also my birth month. I'm going to be one more dreadful step closer to 30. Ugh. It doesn't help that I can feel the years; the last couple of weeks have been tough pain-wise. And what's resulted, now that HMB is finished and I have some time to think, is a period of reflection. I've taken a good hard look at my body of work, thought about my future as an artist, where I want to go from here. 

My two weeks of ice-pack-reflection were two weeks of self-affirmation. I have had some things I've wanted to work on for years now, and I've put them off, and told myself I had to make sure the timing was right. What timing? I'm never on-trend, so why worry about that now?
You know, the funny thing about Fearless - the title was never about Ava, or Mercy, or any of it. It was about taking artistic leaps. I'm feeling ready for another one.