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Monday, August 29, 2016

#MusicMonday 8/29 - Loverboy Expanded List Part I

This horse is too slow,
We're always this close,
Almost, almost, we're a freakshow
Right, right when I'm near,
It's like you disappeared,
Where'd you go? My dear, you're a freakshow!

I always have slapped-together playlists set up for each book, sometimes songs that were inspiring, sometimes songs that fit story moments. Kind of a mix and match. The Loverboy list is all over the place - or, was. I'm breaking it down into a three-part list that, once you read the book, I think will make sense. Some tracks for Tango, some tracks for Whitney, some tracks for all that's going on with Ian. An eclectic mix for sure. This is the list for the first 7-9 chapters or so. Reusing an Ed Sheeran track because why not, and two Melanie Martinez because her sound is killer and it fits so well with these particular boys.

Monday, August 22, 2016

#MusicMonday 8/22

My mom texted me last week and said I needed to listen to "Vice" by Miranda Lambert, that it was a good song for Tango. So I finally did, and she was right, and it's A) a good song; her voice is lovely on this one. And B) it's a good song pick for Tango, too. The poor boy does have a lot of vices. And on a deeper note, the sheer prettiness of Miranda's voice in this song feels appropriate; because Tango is the pretty one, and because his role in this story lacks all machismo. There is a delicacy to him that lends itself to an atypical energy in this sort of book.

This week I'm finishing up initial edits, and it's the first time I've read the manuscript all the way through, start to finish. I've read it all in segments, but the tone is always a little different when reading sequentially. Read: it's even darker in one go.

On one hand, I'm really pleased with the prose. It's satisfying to read, which isn't a normal feeling for me at this stage. So I'm happy with the book, yes. But on the other hand, this is still the book I dread releasing. Mostly because I feel so protective of Tango - and how silly is that, because he's a fictional character, and these are just words on a page. But I already dread the response from certain sectors.

There's a comprehensive trigger warning at the beginning of the book, and I would caution everyone to read it. This book is half-horror, half-revival, and it's 0.00% steamy romance. This is not a book about a hot, dominant biker. It's a tear-jerker, not a panty-melter. I just really want everyone to go into the book forewarned. It took seven months to write, all of them stressful and difficult, and so I'm not sure how hard this will hit individual readers, but I know that the book is dark and potentially-triggering. So please take care while reading.

My vice? Bucking the damn system, and Tango's book is the biggest buck of all.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Workshop Wednesday - Ending is the Trickiest Part

I'm sure I've talked about this topic before, but it was just too appropriate today, given the state of the manuscript. I'm popping out of "the dark" to talk about beginnings, and endings.

There's a Stephen King quote that says, "The scariest part is always just before you start." I respectfully disagree. I love beginnings. I love those first few frenzied weeks of note-taking, staying up listening to music, researching, diving into new characters, new locales, new stories. In the beginning, the blood is up, the creativity is flowing, and each day at the computer is a delightful discovery. It's easy as breathing to start a new story.

And then comes the middle. That tough slog through the heart of the story. Muscles pulled, headaches earned, nails bitten down to the quick.

And then...then it's the end. For me, the end is the scary part. For reasons:

1) It takes more scenes than you think. There's always this image in your head, this design of the final sequences, and in your excitement, you overlook a few loose ends here and there. Then you spend a few extra days fleshing out the bones of your ending. Don't be too impatient to do this! Today was my personal deadline for finishing the principal writing, and I'm sitting beside a list of scenes I still need to work into the finale. Oops. Oh well. My advice: don't start cutting before you've finished the thing. Keep adding all the ingredients for a powerful ending, and cut later if you feel you need to. But while you're drafting, don't leave anything out.

2) Endings are delicate. Beginnings are all about absorbing new information; there's wiggle room. You're still learning the characters and the stories. (Not that this gives you free rein to phone it in.) But the ending is where the points are driven home. The ending is where you leave your readers; where you walk away and leave the characters to their own devices. The ending is where the emotional continuity leaves us. It's where the light dims, the curtain draws, and we walk away feeling satisfied...hopefully.

Endings weigh heavy on my mind, and it's why I've reached a point where I refuse to give firm release dates. I'm my own boss, without a corporation to answer to, so I have the luxury of tweaking until it's just right. Today was my deadline, yes, but at the end of it, there's still more I want to accomplish with this book, and so I'm going to take another day.

That's my advice to writers: take the extra day. Put in the extra time. It's the ending that counts. Take your time with it.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Brood

Dog Days of Summer

Devin Green’s Brood

I keep thinking I’m going to come up with a better name for them than that, but it’s sticking for the time being. In any event, they’re my most extreme biological family yet, and were totally meant to be that way. I just didn’t think any of us would get so attached.

My very first published book was Keep You, and when I started it, I came in from the barn one day, grabbed the notepad beside the phone, a pen, and wrote down five names: Walt, Mike, Jessica, Jordan, and Jo. Slapped Walker on the end and launched from there. Some of the most fun I had was dreaming up those five siblings in the process of writing Jo’s book, and the same thing happened with The Nine. In fleshing them out as Walsh’s siblings, they became fascinating as individuals, almost more so, since they were never intended to have a wedge of the limelight. They became the guilty pleasure characters I wanted to work into every scenario.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Whole Story

Today's plan for a post about Devin's Green Brood has to wait until tomorrow, I'm afraid. I have book club tonight, and too much else to do to give it the time and attention it deserves, because I love that crazy London family, and want the post to be worthwhile. So that can be our big Friday blowout.

The quote above was sent to me by my friend Suz, and it's such a perfect quote for Tango. Definitely the sort of thing he needs to hear. I've been getting up early this week, writing before it's light, and hitting awesome word counts before I even go to the barn. Give me a week, and I'll have this thing written. Give me another week, and I'll have it edited. The light at the end of the tunnel!

The thing about writing a book is: it takes time. When you read a book, you devour it in a few days, and all of it is immediate and fresh. But when you're writing - I've been working on Loverboy since January - you have to go back and reference earlier chapters, keep lists, go back and loses its overall impact. Last week, I started sending chapters to my First Reader, and her reactions have been fun. According to her, the book is "dark," "heavy," "hard," and I "really put it out there." In short, this book is half horror show. I think anyone who likes and cares about Tango will find it worth the pain. But I know it might be too much for some people - that's the risk in telling the "whole story."

See, I would like to think that Tango's story is nothing but fiction, but sadly, his story is someone's real story. Someone out there, guarding secrets as closely as Tango. That's why I think it's important for authors to "go there." Because even if it didn't happen to you, or to me, it happened to someone. And that deserves acknowledgement.

One of the things I've enjoyed so much about our #DogDaysofSummer event is hearing from all of you; hearing which characters you identify with the most, who spoke to you, who you aligned yourself with. As an author, you have no idea who you might reach with your work, or which parts of your story will speak to a reader. That's a huge responsibility, and I take it very seriously. Not everyone identifies with the same things, appreciates the same things, or is attracted to the same things. It's so exciting for me to hear readers tell me they identify with Sam, or Ava, or Aidan, or any of them. Within a rather extreme framework, I always try to tell true stories. Because though they aren't mine, they're someone's stories, and I think they need to be shared. I'm shocked, and humbled, and grateful every day that I get a chance to share with all of you.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


Dog Days of Summer


She isn’t the one who straightened Aidan out, just the one who saw through the façade. She’s the girl who got the boy of her dreams, but she’s not naïve enough to think it’s smooth sailing from there. She has plenty on her plate, but she takes on Aidan’s drama because, well, she’s just that tough when it comes to the people she cares about.


Monday, August 8, 2016


Dog Days of Summer


MCs may vote in their members, but that doesn’t mean Aidan isn’t the prince. Of the two Teague siblings, Aidan is definitely the one with daddy issues, and his bad boy shtick isn’t doing him any favors. I have to love him, but a lot of the time I don’t like him; poor Aidan’s finally got his act together, and it only took a life-altering event to precipitate it.


Mid-Point Check-In

So we're about halfway through our whole #DogDaysofSummer shebang, and while I haven't had time to respond to everyone's comments, please know that I'm enjoying all of them immensely. I had this idea that it would be a great way to get a good dialogue going, but I miscalculated just how involved the process was going to be. This has been another episode of Lauren Fails To Do What She Set Out To. It's been fun, though, and hopefully it's given you guys a better feel for some of the characters.

Meanwhile, Loverboy is inspiring at least five creative mini-crises a day, and I sort of spent yesterday afternoon nursing a headache and watching Olympic coverage instead of working. Oops! The book is currently sitting at 101,686 words, and I already know it needs some rewrites. I've got between 10 - 15k words left to go, and then the real pain starts. And then the less painful edits. And then proofs, and then I can give it to you guys! I keep putting release dates on my calendar - in pencil, because I keep erasing them and pushing them back. I just will not rush the end of this book.

I've had all these Author Thoughts lately, and lots of Plot Bunnies, my brain trying to distract me from the Freaking Uphill Marathon That Is Tango, but alas, it shall all have to wait. So this has been me, as usual, twitchy and worried, and apologizing for being quiet. Expect Aidan's post later today.


Sunday, August 7, 2016


Kelly Stables

Dog Days of Summer


She’s not very large, but she’s definitely in charge, and she definitely has the hots for jockeys-turned-bikers. A mix of resigned and hardass, Emmie never dreamed she’d someday live in the big house and run the show, nor that an outlaw could help the dream come true. I had a lot of fun not-researching this character, and incorporating my real-life horse knowledge into the series. Every club needs its own farm, right?


Friday, August 5, 2016


New Zealand actor Dean O'Gorman as Walsh.

Dog Days of Summer


“Kingston Rutherford Walsh had gone by ‘Walsh’ since he was old enough to understand how very uncool his mouthful of a name was – at age ten.”

A line from my third Russell book, Keeping Bad Company, before there was a Dartmoor Series, when Walsh was this adorable, scrappy little biker who stole my writer heart in just a few pages. Walsh is, I’m sure, not my readers’ favorite, but he’s mine. I meant him to just be a convincing POV for an introduction to the London mayhem in my Russell Series, but I quickly realized I would have to write him his own book one day. It took us a while, but Walsh finally got his own book, and his own little Tennessee family, and the farm he always wanted.


Thursday, August 4, 2016


Dog Days of Summer


The actual sweetest member of the Dartmoor family, Holly is always the first to welcome new girlfriends and old ladies, and the last to scrimp on hospitality duty. To say she’s been to hell and back is an understatement, and still, she works hard not to dwell on the past, focuses instead on the joy of having a family. She says Michael’s her savior angel, but in his eyes, the opposite is true.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016


Oh gosh, sorry you guys! Yesterday was just one of Those Days. From the water going out the night before (timing switch burned out on the well) to the horses getting shoes, to one of the barn cats passing away in the night - it was just a busy farm sort of day, and when I finally sat down to blog, my head hurt too badly for any of it to make sense. But, the water's back on, things have settled, and away we go again!
Michael Fassbender; not my photo obvs.

Dog Days of Summer


In societies, there are those who decide verdicts, and those who deliver them. The decision-makers, and the decision-enforcers. Michael is such an enforcer. He isn’t the sort of man used to having his own voice; he takes the dirty jobs; does what needs to be done. Not for reward, not for glory, but because someone has to do those things, and he has the stomach for it. In the miniature nation of the MC, Michael is the executioner, and the peacekeeper, and he’ll do what it takes to keep his club up and running.


Monday, August 1, 2016


Willa Holland as Ava



If anyone’s ready to smash age stereotypes, it’s Ava Rose, and that’s not an attitude that’s going to change anytime in the future. I imagine Grandma Ava with a revolver tucked into the side of her wheelchair. Because when your mother is a debutant gone rogue, your father’s a soldier-turned-outlaw, and your husband’s favorite weapon is a sledgehammer, meek was never an option. It’s one thing to study the MC lifestyle, and quite another to be born into it. A modern spin on a Gothic heroine, Ava has no problem being underestimated. In fact, she’s counting on it.