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Monday, January 25, 2016

Fresh Starts

A Monday in January feels like a good day to start a new manuscript, don't you think? I've spent great chunks of the day - between various chores and dog walks - navigating the first few important pages of Tastes Like Candy, in the company of Michelle Calloway, and Uncles Albie and Tommy.
The intricate and strange family dynamics of this one, paired with an intentionally dramatic age gap, and some club royalty themes, questions of place - this book is going to have a Fearless vibe, and it's going to be FUN to write. (Hopefully fun to read)
Beginnings are always delicate, though. You can't rush; have to feel your way step-by-step until you've got your footing. New places, new people, new aesthetics. New minds to crawl inside; new skins to don. I do love setting scenes, and walking you into homes, shops, and favorite haunts we've never seen before. I like introducing you to strangers.
Listen to me. I'm a nerd.
Okay, so I'm right now (still working) at 3,622 words. Currently listening to this song on repeat.
Fave line of the day:
“The wolf reminded me of you,” he said, voice contemplative. “Even the loveliest of creatures has teeth.”
Candy is coming to Wattpad very soon. I want to ensure I have a nice meaty chunk to kick things off.
Happy Monday.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

LG's Writing 101: It’s the Character That Counts

source: pinterest
1/20/16 – It’s the Character That Counts
There’s a long list of attributes that make a story attractive to readers. Everything from an intriguing cover, to critical acclaim, to simple popularity. People will pick up a book for so many reasons. But what makes someone reread a book? Stick with a series through the long haul? Sit up nights thinking about what they’ve read? Send an email to the author? The connection the reader feels with the story’s characters.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

All The Light We Cannot See

One of my (many) goals this year is to read more. Last year I got sucked so deep into writing that I read less than I should have. I have a long list of books at the ready, and I'm hoping they'll keep me literary-minded as I embark on a crazy year of writing. So far so good.
Last Thursday, my book club discussed our January pick, All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. What a beautiful, moving, lyrical book it was.
The novel follows two central parallel stories, that of a blind French girl living with her father, and a young German orphan with a knack for radios, as the second World War kicks into full violence and eventually sweeps both of them up in its tide. It is as compelling, raw, and devastating as all WWII fiction - a time period that has always held a particular fascination for me. Doerr paints the most gorgeous and specific pictures; the settings of the book unfurl before you in full-color and surround-sound. With often direct and concise language, he pulls us into the characters and allows us as readers to experience their emotions to great effect.
It's the sort of book that reminds why I love being an author...and simultaneously makes me wonder why I even bother trying. I couldn't put it down. A fantastic start to the year's reading.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Lean Dogs Legacy

Every time I make a new cover for the next book, it always becomes my favorite cover to date. That holds true. The official book cover for Snow In Texas is now my favorite cover. This is an edited shot of the big snow we had here at the farm a few years ago. It lingered for days, and was so gorgeous, but I was glad to see it melt. It gets new life here as the cover for Snow and I'm so happy with it. Being my own photographer and cover designer can be a headache, but at the end of the day, I'm so glad I have totally original images to use.
If you've finished Secondhand Smoke and are asking yourself "Now what?" Never fear, more Lean Dogs are on the way.
Tango's book is definitely in the works, and his will be the next story in the Dartmoor Series.
Also, there's a new series launching, a Dartmoor spinoff that begins with Snow In Texas, which is now on Wattpad and will soon be available for purchase. Snow is the first book in the new Lean Dogs Legacy Series, which will tell the stories of members outside of the Knoxville chapter. There will be lots of crossing over, lots of meeting the rest of Walsh's family, and lots of what you've come to love about the Dartmoor books. The world of the Lean Dogs MC is vast, and I think it's going to be great fun discovering more of it.
Snow should be available in its final form in early February.
I'm also still plugging way with my non-biker passion project, which is still super secret, but which I hope to unveil this year as well.
Guess I best get to writing, huh? Get ready for more Dogs headed your way soon.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Secondhand Smoke - NOW LIVE!

It's live!!!! The fourth full-length installment of the Dartmoor Series went live last night, a few days ahead of schedule. Paperbacks are in the works, but right now it's available for Kindle and Nook. The cover isn't showing yet on Amazon, thanks to website glitches on their part, but it will show up on your device when you download it.
While I was writing this one, I talked (complained?) about the fact that Aidan was my very least favorite kind of male lead. But this book ended up containing some of my favorite lines and scenes of the series. And it was good to challenge myself as a writer, to take that typical bad boy trope and break it down to something more basic and raw.
What you ought to know: This installment is just as Dartmoor-y as the others. It does contain a central love story, yes, but the driving plot of the book is Aidan's growth. His real challenges involve his club, his friends, his father, and the effects of his choices. We hear quite a lot from the other characters, and check in with all of the starring couples. 532 Kindle pages of biker family drama.
Thank you, readers, as always, for making me so excited to hit that "Publish" button. Love you all, and Happy Reading!!! :-)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

LG's Writing 101 - Writing Exercises
source: pinterest
1/13/16 – Writing Exercises
I’ve got a box in the top of my closet filled with what I like to call “the lost stories.” Some papers from high school, story notes jotted on scraps of paper, short stories, journal entries, nebulous scenes that never went anywhere, and possibly some old Buffy fanfiction I wrote in sixth grade. Most of it needs to be burned, but I save it for several reasons. Sentimental, partly, but also because it’s good every now and then to pull some of the old stuff out and see how I’ve grown as a writer. And also because there are certain story notes in there that WILL see the light of day at some point. Not all of it was crap.
You become a better writer by writing. Lots and lots of writing. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t scribbling some kind of story in the margins of my algebra notes. Even in art class, when I finished a painting project, I would whip out the notebook paper and scratch away on something aimless for a while. Every writer has a legacy of piecemeal writing in his or her closet. So if you decide you want to write a book, and feel overwhelmed, never fear. Nobody writes a novel the first time he puts pen to paper. Honing your craft takes practice.
I recommend journaling. Buy a pretty fresh notebook that inspires you to write, a brand new pen, and set yourself a goal of writing a small entry every day. You can keep a diary if that’s your thing – though I always found myself too boring to contemplate, so I liked to do practice exercises.
Prompts (all of these are exercises I was given in school):
Ø  Describe the room in which you’re sitting.
Ø  Describe an ideal room.
Ø  Go for a walk and describe the experience.
Ø  In a public place, eavesdrop on conversations (this is fun, but do it discreetly). Write down what you hear. The exact way people talk to one another. Do this again and again and again.
Ø  Look across a coffee shop, and describe the other patrons. Their body language, the way their eyes move around the room, the energy they project.
Ø  Describe the characters in a favorite movie.
Ø  Observe stuff, and write about it. You’re simply practicing putting your impressions into words.
Ø  Pick a name you like, jot it at the top of the page, and start listing personal details: DOB, height, eye color, favorite food, phobias, vocation, etc. Get in deep: lifelong dreams, best friend. List as many details as you can possibly come up with.
Ø  Pick a name you don’t like and do the same thing.
Ø  Then, take one of these newly created characters and write a scene in which he or she interacts with a character from one of your favorite books or movies.
Ø  Create a detail profile for a character who is nothing like you.
Ø  Create a detail profile for a character you don’t think you would like.
Ø  Create a detail profile for an ideal hero.
Ø  Take that ideal hero, and cut out the bits that seem over the top and too ridiculous, replace them with human flaws and traits.
Ø  Write a reunion scene between two friends.
Ø  Write that same scene, but in the rain.
Ø  Write a kissing scene.
Ø  Write an argument.
Ø  Write a scene that makes you want to cry.
Ø  Write a scene that frightens you.
Ø  Write a scene between two friends, in which there is no dialogue, but meaning is clear through actions.
Ø  Use your eavesdropping descriptive notes to complete a conversation between two people you overheard.
If you get in the habit of writing down observations and using your imagination, you’ll start to be more aware of the details of your surroundings, and you’ll start to think a little differently. Not just seeing your environment, but analyzing it.
Write entries for a week, then go back and read them with a critical eye. Is your writing easy to read? Choppy? Disjointed? Make some serious evaluations about your work, then the next week, seek to correct those habits as you write a new string of entries.
Eventually, you’ll have to let someone read some of your writing. This is going to be uncomfortable. But a word of advice – take your audience into account. When I was much younger, I showed a chapter of a story to my brother, and he completely dismissed it, and I was crushed. At first. Then I picked his brain. What didn’t he like about it? It was “girl stuff.” Ugh. Lord. (He’s gotten over that sort of thing, I’m glad to say. But note to self, don’t expect a twelve-year-old brother to give you the best evaluation.) Show your work to someone who likes to read and reads often. Asking someone who dislikes reading is invariably going to give you bad feedback, which will discourage you. Ask your reader for his or her impression. Does the piece stir emotion? Do they find it pleasurable to read? How does it compare to their normal reading material? Put your work in the hands of someone realistic, but kind, who will be honest without being cruel. Likewise, someone who will take your efforts seriously.
Keep at it. You will feel discouraged, tired, hopeless at times, and that will all be normal. The only way to become a better writer is to write. And just think, some of our most beloved and revered authors were rejected dozens of times by publishers. They kept working, and so can you.

Friday, January 8, 2016

#SecondhandSmoke - Between The Covers

Proofs came yesterday! Always a happy mail day. The box was bigger than I thought it would be, then I realized it was because the book was bigger than I thought. It's a nice size, I think. A good meaty handful of book. Though, as usual, I grabbed it up with freshly-applied lotion on my hands, and smudged the cover up. That's the thing with these matte covers - if your hands are greasy, they'll leave marks.
Anyway, I thought you guys might like a little peek inside.
I'm always inspired by a classic story, and in this case, it's Henry IV, specifically the character of Prince Hal, who went on to become the competent and compelling King Henry V. So our opening quote is one of my favorite lines from the play.
Sadly for Aidan, his road to redemption is a little less English and glamorous.
So many things about this book surprised me as I was writing. It contains scenes I never anticipated writing, juxtaposed with scenes that feel arguably more tender and reserved than any in the series thus far. Sam kicks us off with a few words of her own, plucked from her unpublished manuscript, the thesis that she has to write for grad school. Sam's braver than I am; I'll applaud her for that.
Some of the dialogue in this book is my favorite to date.

Here's the official blurb text:
Real life. It isn’t sexy. Isn’t pretty. There are no alpha bad boys. No easy outs. No Hollywood soundtrack. Real life hurts like hell and tastes like the grit between your teeth. And love…love always bears a hefty price. This isn’t a biker romance. This is love and war in the world of the Lean Dogs.

Aidan Teague was born into the Lean Dogs Motorcycle Club, a third generation outlaw with big biker boots to fill. A perpetual screw-up and playboy, he’s never taken life seriously. Until now.
If his accident a year ago was a wakeup call, then a jolting revelation from his latest lover is a life-altering shock. It won’t be simple, but it’s high time Aidan came into his own. With the club on the brink of a new war, beset by enemies old and new, Aidan must find the strength to lead, or risk everyone he loves.
Secondhand Smoke is the fourth full-length installment in the Dartmoor Series, and is NOT a standalone. This is a work of literary fiction, so readers should expect lyrical prose and an emphasis on character development and realism. Look for the first four volumes: Fearless, Price of Angels, Half My Blood (A Dartmoor Novella), and The Skeleton King. Visit Lauren at, Gilley – Author, @lauren_gilley, or email her at
Can't wait 'til the 19th! Follow me on Instagram (@hppress) for more lines and editing pics as I go.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

London Calling

source: pinterest

You know what I didn't expect? That I would enjoy Snow In Texas this much. I started it thinking it would last ten chapters at the most, and be just a fluff piece on the side. In typical fashion, it got out of hand. I think because my subconscious is a realist: Look, Lauren, you don't do short. Just go with it. So I did, and truth be told, it's been more fun than I imagined.

I love writing one chapter at a time. LOVE IT. I don't use physical story maps or outlines, so I like the organic story flow that it fosters. The Wattpad format jives well with my thought process.

But it's more than that. In the spirit of #NewYearNewBooks, I've decided to embrace my strengths. And in doing so, I'm going back and reminding myself why I love writing this series, and why I enjoy writing about this particular universe. Like Ava, Jenny has been compelling to me because she was born into this outlaw world - and that fascinates me. What's it like to look at the "normal" world of you and me through their eyes, and see "regular" as "outside"? What's it like to grow up with legacies of intense patriotism...and very illegal activities? To be raised amid violence, and taught to hold your family close? Writing about this club has been the ultimate family drama challenge for me, and that's why I love it; that's why I want to keep exploring these characters and telling their stories.

Snow is drawing to a close, but it's just the first of the spinoff adventures. Next up is Candy. And I'm excited to say we get to meet lots more of Walsh's family. Meet, and revisit someone we met in Keeping Bad Company. Walsh isn't the only one in his family with a head for numbers...

How about another visit from London?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

LG's Writing 101 - Reading Critically


1/6/16 – Reading Critically

There are two things in a writing career for which there are no substitute: reading and writing. The education, and the execution. You learn best by doing, so certainly you must write, write, and write some more. But first, and during, and after comes the reading.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

My Dear Brave Girls

My Dear Brave Girls,
These books are really about you, and I hope you know that. You are the keepers of the peace, the home fires, the history, taken down in tidy scrawl in your minds. Yours is an adaptive, flexible, unbreakable strength. An unspoken peace. A Southern woman need not say she is strong; it's shining there in all the perfect, subtle lines of your perseverance, for those with eyes to see.
Jenny, thank you for struggling with your trauma. For being honest with the fact that you're not okay. You need not apologize to anyone.
Sam, thank you for loving Aidan, even if I can't. For seeing the good in him, the sweet motherless boy who needs you.
Emmie, thank you for loving something enough to fear losing it. Thank you for working hard, though the reward may be little.
Holly, thank you for holding onto your innocence. For touching the innocence in Michael.
Maggie, thank you for being everyone's mama, always. You are the queen, and you love your king, though his softness is hard to see.
And Ava. My girl Ava. You know you're my favorite. You know how I love to live inside your head, because it frightens and inspires me, the way you see things in absolutes, even when you tried to pretend you didn't, that you belonged in the real world. Thank you for reminding me that this story was worth holding onto, a year ago, when you came to visit me when I was sad, dragging Ronnie along with you, in that first scene, on the streets of Knoxville. Thank you, friend. I had missed you, and I didn't even know it.
I can't write a story if there are pieces missing. The only way I'm able to work through the exploits of these degenerate man-children of mine are because my girls love them, and convince me daily that they are in fact worth loving. It's as much an adventure for me as it is for my readers, getting to the end. And I do fall in love with the boys, as I come to know them. But I think Leading Ladies get short shrift these days, and I wanted to take a moment to thank mine. My Dear Brave Girls. Thank you for giving an awkward hermit a voice.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Year, New Books

That's my 2016 hashtag: #NewYearNewBooks. Because, yes, there will be new books. Quite a few, I'm hoping. And also because, possibly for the first time ever, I'm taking that whole resolution thing seriously.
I don't make resolutions as a rule, but last year was so busy, and I felt drained by the time we got to Christmas. So this year I'm determined to take better care of me. And I'm looking at my career in a way that is already bringing me some much-needed mental peace.
1. Workout routine: Y'all, I used to be fit. Really fit. I've always been small, but at one point, I was cleaning 20 stalls, walking six miles, toting 50 pound bags of feed, and riding multiple horses all in one day's work. When I came home, I hopped on the treadmill and ran three miles. Throw in a little stretching, pilates, walking with the dog. The last few years I've done a lot of writing, which has meant a lot of sitting, which has been a total back-killer. I've spent all of 2015 in almost-constant pain, and I'm just sick of it. I'm not just small these days, but downright frail, and that has to stop. So I'll either manage to regain some strength, or totally injure myself. We'll see.
2. More sleep: I go to bed late, get up early, and stress myself out. I NEED MORE SLEEP.
3. Sharpen my focus: It's so easy to go check your email...and end up on Pinterest, lost in the rabbit hole of Facebook. And suddenly you've wasted precious working minutes for no good reason. It happens to all of us, but it's ridiculous. For me, social media is a mood-killer and a creativity-sapper, and it makes me feel, well, bad inside. So one of my goals is to keep off the social media sites of all varieties, unless I'm specifically there to share something about my books. I'm an introvert, and I write best without outside voices in my head. And really, that's what my readers want - more books. So that's going to be my focus; please no one take it personally that I'm a little quieter for a while. I will ALWAYS respond to messages, emails, comments, etc, because I love hearing from you guys, so if you want to reach me, be sure to use one of my sites so I'll see your comments. Otherwise, the rest of the web isn't my problem from here on out.
4. F*ck That Noise: This ties in loosely with number 3. For me, being an author is 100% about love of the craft, attention to quality, and my total absorption with writing the best books I can possibly write, improving along the way. For others, this isn't always the case, and this year, I was reminded of something I've known since my childhood pony club days: If you're a little bit different, people are going to hate on you. And hate on you hard. I could handle this two ways. I could try to fit in. Or I could say "f*ck that noise"  and tune everything else out. In 2016, I have zero reasons to hold back one scrap of passion or obsession. This is my journey, and no one else's, and my top priorities are my characters, and their stories. Boots on, no regrets.
5. Have a little fun. Just a little...but I need some.
On the top of my new calendar, I wrote: 2016. Go get 'em. So...let's do that.