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

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

NaNo Day 30: Last Day

Above: This Kind of War by T.R. Fehrenbach

It's the last day of NaNo and I can't believe it's been a month already. This was my first time "participating," though I use that word loosely because I kept it very unofficial. I have to admit that I didn't reach the 50k word goal. But I did complete Walking Wounded, and I'm thrilled about that!

My major takeaway from the NaNo experience is that if I schedule correctly, keep focused, and limit outside distractions (i.e. everything on the internet), then it's possible to increase the speed at which I write. Good news, since I have lots of projects in the wings. But I've also realized it's important to take days off, sometimes whole weekends off. This fall, football has been a really great way to keep myself off the computer and take a little break from work. So I'm sad the regular season is over - thankfully my boys still have championships to play in.

I also learned, this November, that my abiding love of history wants an outlet. I touched on the Korean War with Walking Wounded, and now I find myself wanting to write a much more in-depth novel set during that time period.  

Today, it's raining. Sweet, glorious rain that we need so badly. I'm praying that it rains in Tennessee as well. The gorgeous Smokey Mountain region of TN that I've attempted to capture in my Dartmoor books is under siege by wildfires, and the photos are devastating. Sending them love and rain-wishes, as I work on Hellhound.

Walking Wounded hits Kindles December 17th.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Dartmoor Christmas - Part One

**An ongoing treat for the holidays. Apologies in advance for typos - this is just for fun. Thanks for reading!**

A Dartmoor Christmas

“I thought you meant a BB gun.”

Mercy snorted. “What’s that good for?”

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Dartmoor Thanksgiving

I'm thankful for my amazing readers! Happy Thanksgiving!!

A Dartmoor Thanksgiving

“You did what?” Holly asked, voice faint. Her throat tightened and it hurt to swallow.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Long-Winded Mission Statement

I think one of the reasons I talk so much about my writing process is because I'm trying to use my blog as a sort of long-winded mission statement. The hope that if readers understand the motivation behind certain scenes and certain books, they'll know what to expect. That if they understand what I focus on as a writer, they can read with an open mind. It's a hope that my books will be judged on their own merit, rather than judged as examples of a particular trope or genre. Or even judged against each other. Because my years of studying literature in college showed me that an author can focus on some things, and still manage to accomplish others.

For example, I've never written a book with the intention that it be sexy. I've never said to myself, "I want readers to think this is hot!" Not once, never. That's just not my cuppa, as a writer. So it always makes me smile when someone describes any part of any one of my books as sexy, or steamy, or hot, etc. I'm really glad some readers think that - to me, language itself can be sexy when used skillfully - but sexiness isn't anything I'm banking on, if that makes sense.

Likewise, I never set out to write a MAN. An all-caps, alpha, macho man. There's a lot of ways in which a man can be masculine, and I seek to capture many variations of personality. To this day, one of my favorite negative reviews comes from a blog that described my book Shelter as "shit" because the male lead "wasn't alpha," and "questioned himself." As a writer, I'm not seeking to capture a fantasy-inspired caricature of a man, but a real human man. And real humans come in all shapes and sizes, and they do question themselves. I write about people, not about concepts.

That's the thing about negative reviews: they don't affect my work. When someone complains that my books weren't short enough, or steamy enough, or comfortable enough, or they didn't like a character because he or she was different from them? That's someone who doesn't know or care what I was trying to accomplish. Who went into the book with a checklist of requirements. And I don't write for checklist readers. I write for thoughtful bibliophiles who want to lose themselves in the lives of interesting strangers for a little while. For whom reading is an experience, and not a reenacted fantasy. In a perfect world, everyone would love an author's books, but that's not what happens in the real world, and I'm okay with that.

Where am I going with this?

I've been saying for weeks that I'm excited about Walking Wounded, and I am. I so am. This is the first time I've made it all the way to the editing stage of a project and not started to viciously hate the book. By the time I finished Tastes Like Candy and Loverboy, I never wanted to see those things again. But this one's felt fresh and delightful all the way through. Part of this is because it's different; it was a chance for me to explore new aspects of my writing, to play with a different style. I got to "visit" new cities. I got to tell a story that wasn't mired in the MC.

It's my hope that all my readers will take a chance on Walking Wounded, but I understand that some of them won't, and I'm good with that. This book is very intentionally different from Dartmoor. It's a character-driven, sensitive, but non-confrontational story about - like all my books - relationships. I know it won't be for everyone, but that's okay. It's not meant for everyone. There's so many things I don't set out to be. But it's my intention, always, to be honest and empathetic. I hope every day that I have been.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

NaNo Day 17: Visuals & Blurb

Some lines and visuals from Walking Wounded.
Copyright © 2016 by Lauren Gilley

Georgetown, Washington DC

            When his need for nicotine began to outweigh the craving for caffeine, he trashed the rest of his latte and hit the sidewalk, smoking and walking, unhurried, earning dark looks from posh daytime shoppers who thought smoking was the most disgusting thing a human could do in public.
            He lives in New York. He knows it isn’t the most disgusting thing.
            He’d walked all day, sightseeing. Had peered down into the dark water of the canal and watched his wavering reflection. Had window-shopped for clothes he could never afford.

This is going to take a while. Part of Luke is frustrated by this, but a larger, more secretive, artistic part of him is glad for the challenge of it. When he interviews someone for a piece – which is rarely – it’s all shorthand, tape recorders, and wedging into too-tight corners of coffee shops, his mark shifting, impatient, and nervous as a prospective john caught hiring a call girl. Like there’s something wrong with making a statement that will be put down on paper. People want to be transparent and transient these days. They don’t want anything to stick to them: not mortgage payments, not weekend plans, and not something they said one time to that moody loser with the glasses.

Fall in Virginia

            Trees crowd the road, orange maples and yellow pecans, flicking loose leaves to spiral toward the windshield. Driveways marked with painted mailboxes snake through the expanding fields and copses. The landscape comes from a previous time; they could be driving through the colony of Virginia, rather than the state. DC’s bustle seems an age ago, several miles behind them.

Leesburg, Virginia

            Luke cracks his eyes against the dappled shadows that fall across them through the windows. Squints at the quaint, colonial city-center that he reads is Leesburg from a roadside sign.

Maddox family home in Leesburg

            Luke isn’t loving the idea of getting out – all that movement – so he sits too, waiting. “Did Matt grow up here?” he asks.

            “Yeah.” A smile touches the corner of Hal’s mouth. “Will too.”

            Luke sees them, sepia ghosts moving across the grass. Little Will with a missing tooth and hair shining beneath the sun, rips in the knees of his pants. Chasing Finn, the two of them laughing, the sound bright and clean in the autumn air.

Colonial interior at the Leesburg house

The Leesburg house has its own heartbeat. A pulse reverberating deep beneath the floorboards, flickering in the rumpled top corners of the wallpaper. It breathes, sighs dust motes and the sharp scent of cedar-lined closets. It’s full of benevolent ghosts: children thundering down the stairs, maidens lingering in the library windows, field hands in the front pasture, sickles propped on their shoulders as they survey the grand brick structure. The wear of hundreds of handprints has sanded the chair railing smooth. The field stone feels like marble under bare toes, cold and polished by feet, and socks, and boots.

Tentative release date is Dec. 17.


Luke always thought he’d grow up to be a famous author. Then again, he also thought nothing could ever damage his relationship with his childhood best friend, Hal. He thought a lot of things that proved to be untrue. But now he barely makes rent and proofreads articles at a New York gossip rag, dreaming about what-might-have-been. He’s not bitter about it. He’s not. And he certainly isn’t lonely.

Will Maddox – Korean War vet, unapologetic curmudgeon – is the father of a controversial young US Senator, and he’s in trouble with the law after striking someone outside a charity event. In Luke’s eyes, he’s just a senile old man with anger management issues, and he has no idea why his editor would send him to DC to interview him. He flies down from New York thinking he’ll stay a day, expecting an epically boring assignment.

The catch? Hal works security for the Maddox family. And he’s really excited to see Luke after three years apart. And Luke is still really, hopelessly, desperately in love with his best friend.

Luke’s about to learn there’s a big difference between expectations and reality. And this interview just might be the best thing that’s ever happened to him.

A book about the bravery of ordinary people, and the wounds they carry.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

NaNo Day 15: Rough Draft Done!

Yesterday was so productive!!! I completed the rough draft of Walking Wounded, which means today I get to begin detail work.

I'm so excited! 😛😛😛

The official cover, blurb, and teasers will be coming very soon. But here's a little tidbit since today's #TeaserTuesday.

Luke hates opportunities; they’re always so open-ended.

Unlike my other books, this novel has only two narrators: Luke, frustrated poet/novelist working for a small New York gossip magazine, and Will, who Luke is interviewing for most of the book. I love writing Luke; he's a cynic, a smartass, and a secret romantic, though he'd deny it to the bitter end. He doesn't wear labels, he's an individual; this is no alpha-male, genre-specific hero. Everyone who follows me on Facebook knows I have a hard time swallowing the labels that get placed on my books, and if nothing else, I can rest assured that Luke and co. won't suffer the same Goodreads tags as the Dartmoor crew.

Look for Walking Wounded in about a month at online retailers, and stay tuned for giveaway announcements.

Monday, November 14, 2016

NaNo Day 14: Setback

Luke's writing nook in Georgetown

The last three days were pretty much a total waste. I, as usual, came down with some sort of sickness and was a lump of human uselessness. Fever, aches, chills, headache, the whole bit. That's why I don't like to set firm release dates or deadlines, because I inevitably get sick and it throws everything off.

But I'm back at it today, slow but steady style, and I am so, so close to being done with Walking Wounded. That's so exciting for me! It means I'll have plenty of time for edits, rewrites, and the like. In a lot of ways, I'll be sad to finish it, because it's been the best writing experience - the most artistic and driven - I've had in over a year. But that just means it's time to start work on something new that can give me that same feeling.

Favorite lines of the day:

But in the end, he keeps it simple. He tells his children this:
            He doesn’t regret it. Not one second.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Thank You, Vets

USMC War Memorial in DC (Iwo Jima)

In my family, Veterans' Day is doubly special because it also happens to be my grandfather's birthday - and he also happens to be a Marine Corps veteran.

Last month, I sat down with him -  and his brother, my great uncle Ted -  to talk about their time with the Corps. It was the longest, most comprehensive conversation I've had with them about their service, about day-to-day life in the middle of a war, and I loved hearing their stories. I was researching practicalities for Walking Wounded, but I came away from that afternoon with so much creative energy and excitement about the book. I'm so grateful to them both for sharing their experiences with me - there is truly no substitute for a first-person account - and I'm a little nervous about getting it all right.

The thing about war stories: within them we find both the worst, and the shining best of humankind. We see tragedy, and we see a kind of bravery most of us, safe and warm in our beds, cannot fathom. The military history of this nation is one stunning tale after the next, a patchwork quilt of stories from the men and women who've served, stitched together with great pride and patriotism. To study it will make you feel small - in the very best way.

I'm thankful every day for the veterans who have, who do, and who will serve this country. Thank you, all.

Happy Veterans' Day.

Korean War Memorial in DC

Monday, November 7, 2016

NaNo Day 7: Words for Breakfast

Day 7 and week one is complete!

My favorite thing about NaNo is the way it forces me to set everything else aside and just write. I get up and write before first light, and like a balanced meal, a breakfast of words makes it easier to not only complete my word count goals, but power through the rest of the writing day. I'm a realist - I know I'll get tired, and it will get harder and harder to stick to the program, but for right now, it's enabling some really inspired writing, and for that I'm grateful.

With Walking Wounded, I'm employing a strategy I used to a lesser degree with Loverboy: telling a character's lengthy and varied history through a series of specific, detailed vignettes. It's always a bit of a risk because you're highlighting a character's change over time through subtle shifts of characterization across these vignettes, but as a writer I find it to be a fascinating challenge. There are two main story arcs in the book, stories that are parallel in unexpected ways. And like I said on Instagram last week, the book is truly about history of all kinds. By exploring themes of love, acceptance, betrayal, forgiveness, and grief, the book steers you toward the realization that a look back at history highlights the way all generations are similar, more than it highlights the differences.

A favorite passage from week one:

Walking Wounded
Copyright © 2016 by Lauren Gilley

            Finn let his legs give out and flopped down onto the grass, spread-eagle and staring up at the sky, chest heaving as he caught his breath.

            Will stretched out beside him, fighting his own lungs. He loved the rush of running for all he was worth, the way it tasted when he breathed through his mouth and sucked in huge gulps of air, legs and chest burning. Adrenaline, his father called it. It was sweet as candy.

            Overhead, the clouds tumbled in lazy formations, fat and white. Will thought one looked like a dragon, its jaws open, forelegs extended.

            Slowly, their breathing returned to normal. The grass tickled at Will’s skin and began to itch; he smelled earth and green things, and the faint musty inside of the barn behind them. Inside, his father had set up a tire swing, and it awaited their pleasure, whenever they felt like picking themselves up.

            Beside him, Finn took a deep breath and let it back out in a rush. “Mama’s gonna have another baby,” he said, like it was the end of the world. He already had two sisters. “It’s gonna be another girl, I know it.”

            “Maybe not,” Will said, soothingly. But a part of him hoped it was. His own brother had died three weeks before he was due; he remembered, vaguely, the tiny coffin they’d buried at the funeral, the way it was no bigger than a shoe box. And so maybe it was selfish, but he was an only child, and he lived in constant fear that the oh-so-fertile Mrs. Murdoch would pop out a little brother for Finn and that Finn would turn his back on Will. He knew that would never happen – he knew; they were best friends – but it kept him up sometimes at night.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Walking Wounded - First Look

NaNo Day 4 and I'm so happy with the progress I've already made. I met my word count goal at 8:30, so yay for that. I'm aiming for a mid-December release for Walking Wounded, and I'm slowly going to be teasing more and more of it as NaNo continues. Today, I wanted to share a real first look.

Meet our central protagonist and narrator, Luke, and his best friend, Hal.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

NaNo Day 2

I woke up at five this morning of my own volition. Because...I don't know why. I thought it was six, and it took me an embarrassing amount of time to realize just how early it was. But hey, nothing wrong with knocking the word count out early.

It was a foggy morning, the kind of heavy fog that fights the sunrise. The kind so thick you can hear it splattering in fat drops down onto leaves. The kind of atmosphere that teases at the Story part of my brain. I bracketed my barn routine with writing, and reached my word count goal at ten. I'll count that as a very good NaNo day.

Walking Wounded has been a creative blessing. It's helped me feel connected to the process in a way that seems fresh and exciting. Working on it has spawned other ideas, and helped me reconnect with projects collecting dust on the shelf. It's helped me feel brave enough to schedule new challenges for 2017, and dive back into a series I've been wanting to publish for a long while now. When I talked to my mom about it, she said Walking Wounded was a book for me, and she was right. It's a story I wanted to write, rather than the story I was expected to write, and I think that's so important. Writing is a long game, a marathon rather than a sprint, and in order to stick with it long term, you have to reward your brain every so often. That's what this book is - a reward for my brain. I hope to have more rewards just like it next year.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Welcome to NaNo!

It's the first day of NaNoWriMo 2016! I'm using exclamation points to hide how stressed I am about it!

It's 11:15 on the east coast and I just hit my word count goal for the day, so that's exciting. I'm not signed up anywhere to participate officially, but I'm going to (try to) chronicle my daily progress here and on Instagram (@hppress).

So Happy kickoff and Happy #TeaserTuesday! I can't wait to share this book with everyone.


Walking Wounded
Copyright © 2016 by Lauren Gilley

            Will went up to his own room and found Finn there, sitting on his bed and paging through a comic without any interest. Will eased the door shut and kicked off his shoes, walked to the bed and sat down beside his friend.
            Finn sat with his legs curled up beneath him, head bowed, stare fixed on the patterned quilt while his fingers mindlessly turned the pages. His profile, limned in the soft silvery snow light coming through the window, was a finely-wrought shadow, precise lines and endless eyelashes. He sucked his lower lip between his teeth. “I didn’t really know him that well.”
            Will put his arm around Finn’s shoulders, felt the fine tremors of suppressed emotion.
            “Will, I want to go to war,” he whispered, fierce and heartbroken. “I want to kill them.”