amazon.com/authors/laurengilley

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

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Workshop Wednesday - Schedule Shuffle


Sometimes, the biggest hurdle in this writing game is making sure you get enough quality time to write. This has been my biggest challenge in the last year, since Viktor came into my life. I've always felt that first thing in the morning was my best creative time, but that's been a squirrelly time slot. My previous Doberman, my wonderful Riddick who I lost to heart failure last year, was a very composed, well-behaved, independent dog. Viktor, on the other hand, likes to sleep late and needs a nap about three o' clock every day or he's like a toddler having a tantrum. I've had to adjust my writing schedule, and at first, this bothered me: What if I wasn't as creative later in the day? What if I couldn't feel inspired when it was most convenient to sit at the computer. Throw in my neck problems, and suddenly, I was looking at haphazard little chunks of writing time not at all in keeping with my usual swing.

But I realized something - you can't write if you have an unhappy dog on your hands. And you can't write if there's stabbing pain in your neck.

I believe it's important to treat writing like a job - well, it IS my job. But I don't believe in staying in PJs and lounging about and waiting for inspiration to strike. I wake up and ready myself for the day, take care of the horses, the same as when I was rushing off to a more traditional job. I've learned some important things about writing schedules that have helped me to be productive in the last year, and on the off chance that they can help other writers out there, I thought I'd share them.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Teaser - "Green Like the Water"


 
"Green Like the Water"
Copyright © 2015 by Lauren Gilley
5/10/15
 
The very first time Lisa laid eyes on Drew Forester, he was fighting a massive man called The Monster in a slapped-together ring in an old barn. He’d been far outweighed by his opponent, and Lisa had been riveted. During her self-imposed man-ban, the sight of him that night, in that underground boxing ring, had reached through barriers and struck a match inside her. She hadn’t recognized the fire for what it was, because she’d thought she understood desire. It had taken weeks to realize she wanted him. And then to know she couldn’t live without him. But that first moment, laying eyes on him – the taut curves of muscle and bone, gleaming bare skin, the animal focus in his dark eyes. That had been the first spark. That had been her first glimpse of the beast that lived inside him.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Teaser - Half My Blood

Maybe I should make Fridays teaser days? Thinking about it...



From
Half My Blood
Copyright © 2015 by Lauren Gilley


“You want me to take him back?” Leah asked.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Workshop Wednesday - Rider/Writer


It feels like a natural progression; at least, it does so in my mind. To go from a girl who told stories and pored over horse encyclopedias to a mostly-adult who peddles stories and trains horses. I don't do much training anymore, admittedly, but it's been a huge part of my life. Probably the biggest part. And I think those two vocations go hand-in-hand. After all, all I ever really needed to know about life I learned from horses, and writing isn't so different from life.

How dressage is like novel-writing:

1. It Consumes You
It isn't merely something to pass the time. It goes way beyond hobby. You wake up and you go to sleep envisioning what you need to do next, running through scenarios. It stalks your daydreams and occupies every thought, until conversation about mundane, regular things becomes taxing. You are your craft, and the craft begins to define you. Men think you ought to be concerned with the state of your nails and hair and an impending shopping spree, and your dedication to something outside yourself troubles them, and even repels them. Oh well. You'll worry about that later. Right now, it's all about the next ride, and the next page...

2. The Devil is in the Details
There's a judge sitting at the end of the arena, up at C. And there's a judge in every reader who cracks the cover of your book. The place you stand to lose them is in the details. You can execute the most stunning lengthened trot across the diagonal, and then rush through the corner afterward and ruin the whole thing. You can set up a crazy action sequence, and fail to flesh out your characters with any subtlety. You have to be cognizant of a thousand things at once, juggling every muscle...and every corner of your creative mind. You must make yourself a finely-honed tool, razor-sharp and precise in all things.

3. Flying Solo
You have instructors, clinicians, workshop speakers, and a wealth of books and passed-down tips from true-greats to educate you, but when it comes down to performing, this is a solo act. It's just you and the horse. You and your word processor. And education isn't a guarantor of implementation; it doesn't necessitate success. The magic is in your ability to put your education to use. Those in-the-moment decisions you must make. It's just you on that silent stage, and you hope you've packed your head and trained your muscles properly.

4. White Gloves, Deft Hands
In dressage, we wear white gloves. Black wool coat, black saddle, black reins in our hands, and usually a dark mane beneath our knuckles. But the gloves? Crisp white. So the judge can see how steady they are...or unsteady, if that be the case. The goal of dressage is absolute harmony with the horse, and so a well-executed test should give the appearance that the rider isn't giving the horse any cues. Hands steady, just above the pommel, demonstrating an elasticity to the connection in the reins, a softness of the contact. No tugging, no pulling, no harsh corrections. Just deft tightening and relaxing of curled fingers. It isn't that you are dominating the horse; you are so connected with the horse that it requires only minor direction from your hands.

Likewise, while writing, you don't want the characters to be puppets whose strings you yank and drag. You build them completely, connect with them, and then with light, deft hands you give them scenarios, and you watch them react. The audience should never see your hands move. They should never feel you are carrying them along; nothing but the harmonious, human-like reality of the characters should ever be visible. Subtlety separates the men from the boys.

5. Walking the Walk's What Matters
There's a group of girls standing at the entrance of the barn, in the shade it casts across the asphalt, and they've all got sodas and cellphones in hand, and they're laughing and giggling and snorting uproariously, and aren't they just cool, so cool. Because they wear flip-flops to walk around the barnyard and their phones are always ringing and the boys give them sultry looks and make them giggle some more. They're talking about their horses and the rides they're going to have, loud enough for everyone in this forty-acre radius to hear how awesome and special and talented they are. And, like, ugh, who cares about practicing anyway when their horses are just too awesome for the rest of the barn. And, like, who wants to clean stalls? Ew. No thank you, they've got dates and pep rallies and like, soooo much to say on Facebook.

There are walkers and there are talkers, in every "arena" of life. My arenas have been literal - and literary. The talkers want to talk, and the walkers work. Be a walker - stay late, put in the effort, do your homework, pick up the slack, be the kid everyone else sees busting her butt, and when an opportunity comes down the pipeline, be the one to say, "Yes, I'll take that job, I'll do that work." The talkers won't have any respect for you, because you don't play their games - but be a walker anyway.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Little More Info - Half My Blood


I hope that I haven't sounded as all-over-the-place as I've felt the last couple of weeks. In either case, I've received some questions about Half My Blood and The Skeleton King, so I decided to talk it out a little here and clear up any of the confusing things I've said up to date. Sometimes, it's a mental relief just to write stuff down.

Okay, so...

The Skeleton King is going to be the third Dartmoor novel. It's Walsh's story, and I really want it to focus on Walsh and his love interest. There is of course a whole-club storyline in play. And as for secondary storylines, I want those to involve Aidan and Tango. Mercy, Ava, Michael, and Holly will fade into the background for this installment. Visible, but not carrying much weight.

The Skeleton King will release late summer (no date yet). Afterward, expect books for Aidan and then Tango, in that order.

Half My Blood is expected in June, and rather than a one-couple-centric, full novel, it will be a novella with small stories for multiple characters. It's a way to spend more time with Holly and Michael, and touch on Ava and Mercy, and set some future stories up for Aidan, Tango, and some of the other characters hinted at so far. This will be a club story; a transitional story, filling in some of the time gap between Angels and Skeleton. It's also a way of thanking my dear, sweet readers and giving them some bonus material that doesn't quite fit into the next novel. Whenever I can, I want to share the characters' experiences with you, rather than leave them as vague references of the past. I'm having a blast writing it, and I can't wait to share it.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask :)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Music Monday - 4/20



Probably too early for day drinking at ten on a Monday, right? I love these guys, and this song makes me want this rainy cold spell to go away already.

Other goodies for a lethargic Monday:

"Young Blood" - The Naked and Famous (this song always makes me think of The Almighty Johnsons. Fun show if you haven't ever watched it.)

"I Want You to Know" - Zedd, feat. Selena Gomez (this is my guilty pleasure pop fave right now. Like it almost as much as Zedd's collaboration with Hayley Williams. But just almost. Still have that one on repeat.)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

GRW April Workshop


It was a book-filled week for me, and not just in the writing sense. Yesterday was the Georgia Romance Writers' annual April workshop, and I was excited to attend as a member this time. I've been to their big annual conference before, but I finally got myself in gear and joined RWA, and then my local chapter.

Good decision.

Yesterday, our workshop speaker was Tami Cowden, and the day was all about heroes and heroines. We talked about hero and heroine master archetypes, and I had a lot of fun thinking about my characters' motivations and figuring out their baseline archetypes. It's interesting - I never think about categorical info when characters are springing to life on the page, but still, my Dartmoor guys and gals can in fact be categorized (loosely) based on their motivations. I enjoyed mapping them out, watching them slide into place in a way that was confirming for me as a writer.

It was a laid-back comfortable discussion, and I would definitely recommend Tami's book The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes and Heroines. It's a study not in putting characters in a box, or working off clich├ęs, but understanding that there is such room for innovation and unique perspective within each master archetype.

Also, I have to say, if anyone's sitting on the fence about joining a local chapter of RWA - go for it. It's a good place to make connections, and the continuing education opportunities are great.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Spring Fling


Had a great time last night at the indie press Spring Fling at the Book Exchange. I had the chance to talk to some very kind local authors and readers, and did manage to pull off a presentation without totally flubbing it. (Y'all, public speaking is not my thing) It's really nice to see some local support for indie authors!

A couple of housekeeping items, while we're at it:

"Green Like the Water" is set for release on May 10th, and is available for pre-order here. It will be longer than the 20 estimated pages listed now, so no worries on my writing anything short for once. :)

Cover reveal for Half My Blood is Saturday May 16th, along with a nice meaty excerpt. I'm shooting for a June 12th release date, but don't quote me on that. It'll be up for pre-order as soon as I know for sure.

I'm working now on some additional Dartmoor swag. Bookmarks, stickers, mugs, possibly T-shirts, and a newsletter. I'll be looking for readers willing to pass out free bookmarks for me, so if you're interested, drop me a line. Official announcements forthcoming on that front.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Half My Blood - First Teaser

Hi, guys. It's Wednesday, but I didn't get a workshop post put together for this week. Instead, I wanted to share a snippet of Half My Blood. I appreciate all of you - your readership, your reviews, your sweet words - so very much, and I hope you enjoy this tiny glimpse at the next Dartmoor installment. Happy Wednesday!

promo poster. cover to follow

From
Half My Blood
Copyright © 2015 by Lauren Gilley

“Ooh, those go in the kitchen,” Ava said as she spied the rum box containing her new yellow dinner dishes come through the open front door in Tango’s arms. “You can set them on the table. Careful; they’re breakable.” They’d also cost her three weeks’ worth of income working part time helping her mom out at the Dartmoor office.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Weekend Gardening


Last year for Mother's Day, my mom asked for a potager vegetable garden.  Cute, yes, but the raised beds would allow for good soil - it's nothing but rocks and red clay out here - and the picket fence would keep the dog from hiking his leg all over the herbs. Well, since my family is DIY-or-nothing, life got in the way and it's taken a full year to get the garden all complete. It's still not finished - there's still planting to do - but it's all ready for plants now.

I switched off the computer and spent some quality outdoors time helping this weekend, and it was just what my brain needed. I've been feeling a little harried and stressed lately, and getting away from the written page was a healthy distraction.

I'm so looking forward to fresh salsa from homegrown tomatoes and jalapenos.



**This coming weekend, I won't be playing in the dirt as much. I'm attending the Georgia Romance Writers' Annual All-Day Workshop. It'll be my first workshop as an RWA member and I'm so excited/nervous!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Cover Reveal - "Green Like the Water"




“Green Like the Water”

On St. Simons Island for a second honeymoon, Lisa Forester never expects to come face-to-face with her own mortality, but that’s just what happens one sun-soaked afternoon on the beach. A near-tragedy brings simmering tensions to a boil, and propels her stalwart, patient, devoted husband Drew into action. A confirmation of their love becomes more of a rediscovery, in this Russell Series short story about being happy with what you have.

Friday, April 10, 2015

In the Literature Section - Made for Breaking


My book club read Made for Breaking for last night's monthly meeting, and I had nervous butterflies on the drive over. I always do when I know someone is reading one of my books. I don't know if that feeling ever lessens with time; that secret worry, the last-minute reflection in which you wish you'd written scenes differently. But it was a lovely meeting and I'm thrilled to report that everyone enjoyed it.

Something we discussed - something I keep discussing with myself, with my mom - is the fact that my books are not romance novels. There was a consensus that my books would not be shelved in the New Romance section in a big box store like Barnes & Noble, but in the Fiction and Literature department. This is so thrilling to me; my favorite authors, the ones whom I aspire to be like, are all shelved among Literature. And yet, knowing this about my work has been endlessly frustrating, because it makes marketing tortuous. My books are more suited for readers who like to spend QT with the characters, and that isn't always the easiest message to convey.

Anyway, everyone liked Lisa and Drew, and talking about them gave me the little boost of mental energy I needed to get "Green Like the Water" wrapped up. It's fun to revisit the old crew. My first outlaws, before things went totally 1%er. Lisa is fun to write because she keeps things very real. And Drew is such a sweetie. It was a great meeting for lots of reasons; sometimes, I need to go back and remember why I felt driven to write a previous novel. To remember that there are truths there, and that they are still relevant.

**Made for Breaking is the first novel in the Russell Series, followed by God Love Her, and Keeping Bad Company. It's available for 99cents on Amazon.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Workshop Wednesday - Wisdom From Anne Rice

I was so thrilled to get my signed copy of Prince Lestat last fall.
I love Anne Rice's work. Love, love. She pens the most beautiful, lush, richly detailed prose, and her characters are unparalleled. Lestat came into my life at just the right time, and I can't remember a point when I've had so much enjoyment in a marathon reading of an entire series. The Brat Prince is on my very short list of very favorite characters of all time.

She posted this lovely nugget of wisdom on Easter to her FB page, and it really struck a chord with me. "Go where the pain is; go where the pleasure is; have faith in your vision and protect your vision." As writers, we exorcise our own demons while walking our characters through their darkest moments. I love the way she encourages young hopeful writers (hey, that's me!) and is so committed to the artistic side of writing. She has never been one to follow trends. She does her own thing, and her thing is beautiful and spiritual, and deep and dark as oceans.

Thank you, Mrs. Rice, for helping make me a better writer.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Nerd Things 4/7

I haven't done one of these posts in a while, and it's high time, because there's lots of geeky things for me to be excited about. I won't flood you all at once; let's make this a regular thing again.

On the Big Screen
I'm going to try - try - not to turn into an incoherent mess of fangirling excitement between now and May 1st, which is when Avengers: Age of Ultron releases. I am so excited for this movie. With Joss Whedon back at the helm, and these characters I adore - safe to say I won't be disappointed.

On the Small Screen
Orphan Black returns April 18th to BBC America, and if you haven't ever watched, I truly can't recommend it enough. It's smart, it's wonderfully acted, and the cast of characters (most of which are played by the amazing Tatiana Maslany) are so vivid and likeable. They show great growth, and you root for them all the way between shocked gasps. The sci-fi element is deftly handled. Love this show.

Things Down the Line
The December Sherlock special is going to be set in Victorian times, and I don't have any idea how to express my delight in a coherent fashion.

There's a new sample chapter up for The Winds of Winter which leaves me hopeful that a release announcement for the book isn't too far off. I stopped watching the show a season ago; I don't care how the showrunners end it - I just want the books.


Friday, April 3, 2015

Friday Randoms

All my best-laid plans to come up with a decent blog post today sort of got lost amid my timed writing sessions this morning. My chiropractor fussed at me yesterday, because I had a rather bad visit, and my neck wasn't in such hot shape. He told me I was going to have to set a timer, write for that amount of time, then stand, walk around, anything, just get out of my chair. I never sit for more than a couple hours at a time, but apparently, even that has been taxing. So I've been writing between phone alarms, reminding me harshly that twenty minutes isn't very long. But, feeling the heat of the stopwatch, I got a lot done in those twenty minute bursts! I'm about ready to announce dates for cover, synopsis, and sneak peek releases for my current projects, so yay on that front.

Housekeeping items:
I had these lovely bookmarks printed and I couldn't be happier with them. I did all the design work, and they turned out quite nice quality-wise. They are front and back, and they'll be coming with me to my book signing April 16th. I'm going to order more to use as giveaway prizes and fun fan swag, and am working on different designs. Hopefully, there will be more merch to follow.

Speaking of the book signing...
I'll be one of the featured authors at the indie pub open house at The Book Exchange in Marietta, GA, April 16th. I'll have copies of Fearless and Angels with me, and will be presenting the Dartmoor series. I'm so excited to have a local opportunity like this. If any of you out there are in the metro-Atlanta area, come out and see me! Event starts at 6:30pm.

Lastly, I'm beyond thrilled with the wonderful things you're saying about Angels. It was such a pleasure to write, and I can't wait to get the next Dartmoor installment in your hands.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Workshop Wednesday - Make it Universal


I found this on Pinterest yesterday, and though it reads as a simple truth, I think it's something important to note. Whatever the genre, the best books speak to the parts of us that feel Other. The parts of us that feel like outsiders; like unpopular, misunderstood creatures walking alone. And then, those books help us see that we are in fact not alone. They shine a light on other outsiders - they're fighting different battles, maybe, but they share the dark thoughts that swim in our own minds. When the author can forge this link between reader and character, then the plot and setting become secondary. No matter how fantastical or foreign the tale, that shared sense of Other bonds a reader to a character and bridges the gap, facilitates an understanding of some other way of life.

Take it a step further, as an author: Highlight the imperfections. Let your readers know that your characters are imperfect, just as they are. Make them human. And then, have the other characters react to them as fellow humans. The friends and mates of even the most stunning specimens roll their eyes and delight in the little age lines on their faces.

I think there's an ever-widening schism in romantic fiction these days, and I fall down on the realism side of things. I love love stories, but my idols are Shakespeare and Austen and Bronte; I believe there's room for literary passages and universal themes in fiction about love. After all, there always used to be. I think romance can be a genre in which we address Otherness; I think it has the potential to be true literature.