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

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

#WorkshopWednesday: Writing 1101

Welcome to the New Seminar!

Hello, all, and welcome to the first Workshop Wednesday of the new revamped series. This is the official start of my new Seminar, and we’re going to tackle a wide variety of writing topics. Since I’m a fiction author, the posts will be geared toward fiction writing, but the basic principles apply to all kinds of writing, professional, informal, or just for fun. My approach as seminar host is to provide as much useful and in-depth information as possible, so that you can take from it what you need or want. Topics will be grouped together on a scale of fundamentals (1000 level) to advanced techniques (4000), mostly as a way for me to keep things organized. Comments and questions are welcome, and I’ll be happy to elaborate on anything and provide additional examples. Thanks for joining me! Let’s get started.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

2017 Year in Review

2017 Year in Review

First of all, I’d like to know where the heck this year went.

Second of all, it’s time for my annual look back at my year in writing. I love doing this, because it helps me consolidate goals and reflections, and helps me put my thoughts in order for the new year of writing and publishing. I feel like I learned a lot this year – and even if it wasn’t all pleasant, most of it was useful. I accomplished a lifelong goal, and I feel positive and ready to attack 2018.

Workshop Wednesday Revamp

Workshop Wednesday Revamp

My major goal for 2018 is to spend more time being productive, and less time falling down Internet rabbit holes. That will mean cutting back on browsing and checking, and more time actively writing books – and more time leading discussion in my “Writers Gonna Write” Facebook group for writers of all kinds. Here at the end of this year, I’ve gotten caught up in putting out first White Wolf, and then Shaman, and I’ve let my “Workshop Wednesday” routine fall by the wayside. I want to change that in 2018, and totally revamp the group with tutorials, prompts, and encouragements. The plan is to build a mix of basic, intermediate, and advanced topics, and I’m hoping to include lots of personal examples, videos, and some book discussion and grammar refreshers.

Look for Workshop Wednesday to resume next week! I’m going to put together a lesson plan outline, but of course everyone is encouraged to post questions in the group if you have a specific topic you want to discuss. Everyone have a wonderful holiday, and I’ll post the first new WW entry next Wednesday.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

A (Dark) Christmas Surprise - Shaman

If you haven't yet seen it on my social media feeds, I released a surprise Dartmoor novella this week. Shaman is Christmas-themed...though more of a Die Hard Christmas vibe than a Hallmark one! It's Ian's story, a follow-up to the parking lot incident in American Hellhound that reminded Ian that, despite his wealth, power, and villainous reputation, he and anyone he cares about are still very vulnerable. 

In general, I wanted to check in with the Dartmoor crew one more time before the year was up. But in particular, Ian's story was one that appealed to me as a writer because it accomplished two things. One: it closed the circuit left open at the end of Loverboy, finding some closure and a beginning for healing for the other half of our badly-abused duo. And two: it was the most unique of the potential Dartmoor stories to tell. Anyone else's story would have been the same-old, same-old, but Ian's could be his own, and I've always enjoyed writing him.

I want to say "thank you" to those who've already read it, and been kind enough to review it. If you haven't read it yet, it's just a short, oddly sweet, expectedly villainous jaunt through the Dartmoor landscape. 

You can find it here on Amazon, and I'll post links for the other sites when it's finally live there. As of now, I'm not planning for it to be out in paperback, so let me know if that's something you want/need. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

#NaNoWriMo WrapUp

Well...NaNo went by really fast this year. Or at least seemed to. I knew going into it that I had no hope of hitting 50k because I'm always a little lethargic right after I finish writing a big project, and White Wolf was a doozy. So while I wish I was ahead of the game right now, I'm not really disappointed. All told, I got about 30k words done, plus some important story mapping. 

In general, the holiday season isn't conducive to writing. It's hard to have four- or five-thousand word days amidst the normal activities that command our attention this time of year. I like to write at least a little each day, no matter what, and I think the key is to set reasonable goals in order to lessen disappointment. My mom's been telling me to take a break, that I need one, and I think she's right. I WOULD like to take some days in December to do a whole bunch of nothing and enjoy the Christmas spirit. 

So this year, my December goals are to get ahead with some of my necessary research - I just ordered some books I'm excited to dig into that will help me with the next two or three books in the Sons of Rome series. I also want to dedicate some of this month to journaling as a way to stay connected to my characters and their story arcs, even on days when I can't actually write.

All in all, a successful NaNo this year. I hope you all met your goals, too! 

Monday, November 27, 2017

A Contemplation of Monsters

I think one of the reasons I love writing the Sons of Rome series so much is because it's the most mature and sophisticated of my projects so far. A little more subtle, a little more real-world relevant - odd, considering it's fantasy. But.

Looking back, the Walker Series was a feel-good story about basically good people. The Russell Series was action-adventure centered around gray-area characters. And the Dartmoor Series asks readers to care about and identify with flat-out criminals without any kind of larger look at morality or good vs. bad dynamic. 

But with the Sons of Rome, there's a chance to take a more complex look at the characters - and the world in general. One of the big, overarching themes that will carry through the series is: What is a monster? Is it something that isn't human? Or can humans be monsters? 

The goal, for me as a writer, was to balance a diverse cast who are all basically "good" at heart, at least fairly pure of motive, but who appear monstrous when seen from others' perspectives. The result is, hopefully, a tangled web that will take some time, and lots of books, to slice through. 

White Wolf, specifically, felt like a big scary risk - but a calculated one. I'd been writing bikers for several years, bikers who were drug dealers, murderers, and unquestionably amoral individuals...but amoral individuals who were accepted within the genre. Nikita and his boys, though, were Chekists. And whether they were only playing at Chekists, biding their time until they could pursue their true purpose, or real ones, the point was: there is no way to sugarcoat the Soviet secret police. It was the riskiest thing I'd ever done - now, on the other side of it, I'm glad I chose to take that risk. Why? Because if White Wolf was a horror story, then the most horrifying aspect wasn't the magic, or the wolves, or the vamps, but the true life horror that was daily life for the Russian people living in the Soviet Union. And for all the people - Finns, Poles, and Ukrainians - who lived at the mercy of the Red Army. The real monsters in the novel were Hitler, Stalin, and their toadies - the men who slaughtered millions. 

Asking readers to care about Nik and his boys was scary - but in a good way. I feel like the only way for me to grow as a writer is to push those boundaries.

Going forward, I can't wait to introduce more characters, and explore the existing ones deeper, asking that monster question over and over. What is a monster? Can a monster be redeemed? Is a monster evil? And, maybe most of all, why do different people have different ideas of monsters? 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Devil Incarnate

*This post contains spoilers for White Wolf*

It seemed inevitable, in the early drafting stages, that in a series built on the principle that a select handful of historical figures are actually immortal, supernatural beings, I would use Grigory Rasputin. The unkillable holy man from Siberia who charmed an emperor; the peasant who turned a nation - no, an empire - on its ear. Whose death was perhaps the first note in the death knell for the Romanov family. He's been a part of pop culture since he first stepped onto the scene in St. Petersburg, all those decades ago, making it into animated movies and song lyrics. Historians are still digging up diary entries, letters, and private papers that, when looked at together, tell a disjointed, though scintillating story of sex, alcoholism, and supposed demon worship. The truth? I'm not sure we'll ever know it. For my part, I've rather shamelessly turned the man into an actual monster for a fantasy series. 

Writing about real historical figures in a fictional sense, as opposed to a biographical one, proved more intimidating than I anticipated. To mention him in passing, I could have done some Googling. But to write him as an integral part of the story, and have him speak, I knew I needed to dig deeper. I'm so glad I took the time to properly research him, because I ended up having a whole new, much more in-depth perspective on the Romanovs, his relationship with them, and the Revolution. 

Before my research, I knew what I needed Rasputin to do within the narrative, and who he needed to be. Research didn't change the outcome of the story, but it did give me some great food for thought. 

My personal assessment of Rasputin - "Grisha" to the royal family - boils down, more or less, to "Um, no." With a side of "Ew, gross." The man was questionable at best, a sexual predator at worst. His photos alone chill me to the core; he looks like someone I'd run away from should I encounter him in a dark alley. And his words, taken down from a mix of his diary entries, letters, and poetry, though poorly phrased, provide a certain sinister context to some of the unsavory tales. 

But no two firsthand sources could ever seem to agree on who Rasputin was, what he stood for, and what he'd done. To Nicholas and Alexandra, he was a trusted advisor, a friend, and the one person able to comfort little Alexei when he hemorrhaged. But to many others he was, well, a creep. I believe he was most likely both, but don't believe that he was either controlling the tsar, or doing the sorts of things pedaled by certain voices in the media. 

Because my book was fiction, I had the freedom to do what I wanted. But an appreciation of history demanded that I get the little details right. And, after scouring story after story about Rasputin, I thought there was some merit, with this series in particular, in dedicating my efforts to deep characterization without any kind of moral commentary. It's important for me that I present the characters, that I explain their thought processes, morals, and rationalizations, but not my own. What I think of Rasputin is irrelevant to the story; what counts is what Sasha, and Nikita, and Katya, and the boys think of him. 

Going forward, we're going to meet a number of other true-life historical figures that I plan to obsess over and, hopefully, present in a way that feels as authentic as possible, given that I'm going off third- and fourth-hand intel. 

Some of the most exciting White Wolf feedback thus far has come from readers who aren't sure if they can trust certain characters, and I love that! Alexei, in particular, is a character who is complex, prickly, and still in the process of revealing himself to me. As a reader, I love having the chance to puzzle out characters as a series progresses, and I hope you'll all enjoy that process with the Sons of Rome. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Making NaNo Work for You

Here we are on the fifteenth, right smack in the middle of November. And, if you're a writer, smack in the middle of NaNoWriMo. As of this point, I've written about 14k words, which is better than I thought I'd do, but nowhere near what I need to complete 50k words in just one month. 

Any time you talk about NaNo, you're met with mixed reactions. Some are gung-ho, some flat-out refuse to participate, and some are on the fence. I react to it the same way I do to all things trending and buzzed-about in the book world: do what works for you. There's plenty of posts out there about how to hit the desired word count. This is a post about letting NaNo work for you, as opposed to the other way around. 

Literally the only month that would make for a worse selection as "National Novel Writing Month" is December. It's bad enough as it is in November. I'm helping to host Thanksgiving dinner this year, and it's just not possible to run the vacuum, crumble cornbread for dressing, and write brilliant sentences at the same time (believe me, I've tried in years past). So right out of the gate, with the holiday, and the lead-up to Christmas, and the daylight getting cut back by an hour, you're at a huge disadvantage. 

So what's it good for? I think NaNo is a great push for writers who need one. And let's be honest, most of us need a good push now and then. I look at it not as a contest that you sign up for and participate in - because I'm not, nor will I ever be a social writer (more on that later) - but as a way to challenge yourself. Your goal is 50k words on paper, sure, but the point, I think, is to just get in a good habit of writing every day with purpose, and limiting distractions. I think NaNo is a great way for writers to mentally knuckle down and Get Stuff Done. 

Know How You Work Best
In order to do your best work, you have to know how you work best. Are you a morning or evening writer? Do you like to write straight through, or hop around? Are you an extrovert - inspired by social interactions? Or an introvert - drained by social interactions? 

I'm an introvert, at my creative best when sitting alone, music playing quietly, without any outside voices in my head. Alone time - quietly reading or daydreaming - is the time when I recharge and find my writing voice again. Being around others, even if it's fun, mentally and physically drains me. Are you someone who, after a night out with friends, just wants to lie down and be quiet for a while? You're probably an introvert like I am. And for true introverts, social media is a horrible brain- and soul-sucking death trap of badness. 

Because I'm writing professionally at this point, I have to have a constant, daily social media presence. But if this is your first novel, by all means take advantage of the anonymity and keep off social media. I bet you'd be surprised by your productivity. 

Set Reasonable Goals
Last year, I realized that I could make my final word count with a daily word count goal of only 1,600 words. I loved this because it allowed me flexibility. Some days I didn't meet it, and some days I exceeded it. By the end of the month, I'd surpassed my final goal, but it hadn't felt like a struggle. If you know you won't be able to reach 50k, then don't sweat it. Use the month as a motivational tool to simply write more, no matter the word count. 

Don't Compare Yourself to Others
You aren't writing their book, and you don't live their day-to-day life. Sometimes comparison can be motivating, but for the most part I think it leaves you with a sense of inadequacy. I've struggled a little over the past year realizing that a 500+ page book takes a long time to write, and that it's important to listen to my body when health and wellness make writing difficult. Again, because I write professionally, I have to just limp through on the days when I don't feel like it, but if you're starting out, don't rush yourself. Don't look at others' numbers and find yourself lacking. That sort of thing is a creativity killer. 

Have Fun With It
The way you look at something can greatly affect its level of stress, so I think we ought to look at NaNo as something fun to challenge us, and not a requirement that makes us want to pull our hair out. It's better to write 20k great words than 50k mediocre ones that are slapped on the page in the name of making word count. 

At the end of the day, writing is a deeply personal, deeply solitary art, one that taps into all your emotions and motivations. If NaNo helps you be a better writer, then get after it. If it doesn't, well...I'm not in favor of anything that squashes sprit and creativity. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Up Next...

What happened on the Eastern Front seventy-five years ago was just the beginning. 

Now, a warrior and a witch are on the run.

She was his Red.
And he was her Rooster.

They fled New York five years ago, but it's the best place to find some allies...

The immortals are starting to find one another, now that Vlad's awake, and an heir is alive, and a storm is gathering on the horizon. 

The adventure that began in White Wolf continues next year.

Sons of Rome Book Two:

Red Rooster

Coming 2018

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The World of the Sons of Rome Series

*rolls up sleeves*

*rubs hands together gleefully*

White Wolf is officially a week old today! I want to say a great big "thank you" to my readers, to all of you who've bought the book, and to those who've let me know how much you've enjoyed it. It's been incredibly exciting to read your comments and reviews, and know that you get it. Thank you!

I started writing in earnest back in January, and it's been so difficult to keep quiet and not blurt out a bunch of spoilers - that's how excited I was. Now that the book is out in the real world, I feel like I can finally talk about the world of this new series

All fiction requires world-building, no matter how true-to-life the setting. Knoxville is a real city, but when I write Dartmoor, I'm writing a fictionalized version of it, one secretly run by the Lean Dogs, populated with local businesses of my own making. In every fictional book, it's an author's job to build up the setting so that it feels like a real address rather than a collection of props at a stage play. 

As much as I adore high fantasy, I've known for a while now that making a story feel grounded in the real world is one of my strong suits, so it was important to me that the Sons of Rome take place in our world, past and present. My personal approach to writing paranormal involves characters who happen to be supernatural, living in the real world, rather than a supernatural world visited by a few key real-world visitors.

I want to pull the veil back slowly; the paranormal elements are undeniably there, but revealed as plot points and important character traits. As with all my work, I want it be an immersive reading experience, so you sink down into the story, into the magic, getting to know the characters, coming to care for them, without bogging you down with checklists of "monster rules," so to speak. 

One of my favorite things about the series - and the world-building, I suppose - is the way it feels really geek-friendly. This isn't a book series for readers who want a sequence of standalones with neatly wrapped-up HEAs and couple-driven plots. There's romance - and starting with book two there's a lot more of it going forward - and there is a sense of resolution in each book, but mostly it's the kind of ongoing narrative like you'd see in the Outlander or Song of Ice and Fire series. A series specifically designed for readers like me who want to get invested in a set of characters and follow them on a long adventure. I love the free rein that gives me. I have a series outline, but there's plenty of room for side plots and bonus novellas to help round out the world. 

As far as the timeline goes, the series stretches from the founding of Rome to the present day, so be prepared for lots of flashbacks and historical portions.

It's going to be a long trip, and I'm thrilled so many of you have started it with me. Thank you, all. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

#WhiteWolf Debriefing Part II: Character

My mantra is that it’s all about the characters. No matter the subject matter, no matter the setting, no matter the action – as a writer, I have to love and believe in the characters in order to tell their stories. With every book, the goal is to create characters who stand on their own as individuals; who aren’t there for the sake of eye candy, but who are truly interesting, no matter what they’re doing. Characters who are people first, professions and habits second.

With White Wolf, the added challenge was the paranormal element. Personally, I love all things spooky, gothic, darkly atmospheric, and just a touch monstrous. I love vampires, and werewolves, and ghosts, and the things that lurk in the shadows. But I don’t think any of those things should ever overshadow character. In my years of reading fantasy, science-fiction, and paranormal books, I’ve found that when the concept of a story weighs heavier than the characters in a story, the book suffers overall. It might be cool, but it isn’t something that sticks with you. The stories we carry with us, the ones we obsess over, are the ones in which we loved, hated, or in some way identified with the characters.

And so my goal with the Sons of Rome series is to write books about people…some of whom happen to be immortal, or who have powers. Some of whom might drink blood.

Books can struggle, I think, when extraordinary characters are caught up in mundane, ordinary drama. What I want to do is write ordinary characters caught up in extraordinary scenarios…which in turn call upon them to be extraordinarily brave. I think that’s why comic books, and movies based upon them, have always been so wildly successful: the audience can readily identify with the central figures, who are just regular folks trying to get by, and who are then called upon to react to insane situations that test them again and again. As the audience, we aren’t simply told about someone’s exploits, like a bored guest at a dinner party who just wants the braggadocios jerk at the center of the room to shut up already. Instead, we’re right there with the characters, taking the journey with them.

One thing that’s very exciting for me as a writer is getting the chance to write about some real life historical figures, some of whom have become a part of pop culture. The challenge for me, and one I’m looking forward to, is to take someone like Vlad Tepes and move beyond the myth, to write him as a man, someone multi-dimensional and sympathetic. To write him as someone who isn’t fictionally superior to my original characters, who can interact with them all in a meaningful way.

At this point, I have lots of favorites. Val for covering his loneliness and anger with sarcasm and polish. Nikita for his grim determination and aloofness. Sasha for being a sweetheart, when he has very little reason to be. And I’m especially looking forward to spending more time with the titular character of book two, who is one of those special mortals who carries just as much weight as the immortal monsters around him.

I especially love that this series isn’t comprised of tidy romances, because it allows me to explore all the characters as we move forward, letting them grow and mature in a realistic, organic way, rather than forcing a happy ending for each book. As a writer, I want to keep challenging myself, to be a better writer with every day, every chapter, every book. I think even readers who don’t normally read paranormal books will be able to fall in love with these characters, and I hope you’ll all give them a chance.

Happy Saturday. More debriefing to come in the days ahead.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

#WhiteWolf Debriefing Part I: Impressions

*Spoiler-free for anyone who hasn't read/hasn't finished yet*

The scary part about anticipating something for a long time is the possibility that it won't turn out as wonderfully as you'd hoped. Be it a vacation, a reunion, a movie, or, yes, a book - there's always that fear that it won't live up to your expectations, and then you'll be let down. In this particular case, for me, the worry was about writing. Because the Sons of Rome series is something that's lived in buds, and half-formed sprouts, and secret little carefully-nurtured hothouses in my mind for a long time. Because I was the child who was allowed to stay up and watch old monster movies, and I always wanted to tell my own monster stories. The questions were only how? and when? and in what way? After years of squirrelling away characters and scenes, it was finally time to start work on this dream I'd been guarding for so long, and I was nervous.

No, I was terrified. 

Writing a book is - in an appropriate metaphor given certain scenes in White Wolf - a bit like going on a long train trip. The old fashioned kind. Let's say, just for fun...on the Trans-Siberian Railway. You board with a stomach full of butterflies...and proceed to sit. For a very...long...time. You stretch your legs occasionally, but you don't go far. You stare longingly out the windows. You eat and read and nap sitting down. The train stops along the way, but they aren't your stops, and so you never get off. Sometimes the scenery is all breathtaking icy vistas, the sun-kissed snow shining like glass. And sometimes it's night out, and the windows are dark, and you start to wonder if you'll ever really get there. But you finally arrive at your destination, disembark, and you're not at all in the same place you were when you started. 

That's where it gets dangerous. What if you've come all this way...and you don't like where you ended up?

Well, for me this time, I can say with much relief and satisfaction that I'm thrilled with where I ended up. As corny and melodramatic as it probably sounds, I came out the other side of Wolf White feeling like an important transition had taken place. I feel like a better writer. More seasoned, for sure, and definitely more confident. I'm so glad I can say that the first leg of the trip - and it's going to be a long trip - was worthwhile. For me, at least.

As for the book itself:

There's something I really love about a good war story - and I'm thinking here of Tim O'Brien or Kurt Vonnegut - that I think of as defining those kinds of tales. Even as the story moves forward in a linear fashion, we the readers begin to feel a little punch-drunk alongside our heroes. The narrative unfolds in a sequence of raw, visceral patches of violence, undercut but an ordinariness that, by contrast, hits us almost like joy. A good war story is a wound that won't heal; a scab we keep picking at, just to feel the hurt. 

When my mom read White Wolf, she described it as an odyssey, which I thought was lovely. Because it is an odyssey, more so than it is anything else, probably. And I can only hope I managed to capture a little of that raw war story feel as well. 

Writing this one felt unlike any other writing experience. The characters stood out cleanly as individuals, fully-formed, but prickly, hard to get to know - hard to stitch together. They knew I was new at this genre - as a writer, anyway - and so they were patient with me. And so the whole writing process was an odyssey for me as well, and now, after, I feel exuberant and ready to tackle the next leg of the trip. And the next, and the next. 

All this rambling nonsense is just to say: this one felt different. Dynamic, and challenging, and like a new beginning. And while different can be scary at the outset, being nervous probably means you're doing the thing you're supposed to be doing. I've always wanted to write a vampire story, and while I had no idea it would end up being this one, I'm having a marvelous time.

Cheers to the unexpected taking you by surprise.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

White Wolf is Live!

It's live!! 

This series has been a long time coming for me, and I'm so thrilled to finally kick things off with book one. This is one of those action-adventure, get-obsessed, geeking-encouraged series that I hope you'll all enjoy as much as I already do. 

You can get it here:
*paperback coming later in the day

And if you haven't already, come join the Sons of Rome readers' group on FB for deeper discussion.

Happy Halloween, and happy reading! 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

One More Week!

Just one more week to go until one of my favorite holidays...and the release of White Wolf

Here's what you can expect:

- White Wolf is definitely not a standalone. Each book in the series has its own storyline, which will be wrapped up for the most part by the end, but the series as a whole reads like a fantasy saga, with an ongoing plot that unfolds slowly as the series progresses, with characters growing and changing throughout. While the romantic storylines play an important part, the books are not couple-centered, and the love stories continue to evolve over time. This series is for anyone who really wants to sink his or her teeth into a series with plenty of action, intrigue, and complicated relationships of all kinds.

- The Sons of Rome series is definitely intended for adult audiences.

- Comps? Think along the lines of Underworld, Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, and even Supernatural. Unapologetically paranormal, but grounded in the real world, with a major emphasis on interpersonal relationships. Heavy influences include Dracula, real world vampire legends, and the collected works of Poe and Irving. 

- About half of the book, clearly marked, takes place in 1942, but the ongoing storyline that will continue into book two will take place in the present day. 

- The short story prelude, "The Stalker," will be included in the paperback version of the novel, for everyone who likes to read the real thing.

White Wolf releases one week from today! I can't wait to share it with you all. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Two Weeks to Go!

These are the things that we know:

On December 30th 1916, Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin was murdered by a group of nobles led by Felix Yusupov, husband of the Tsar’s niece. His body was found a few days later in the Neva River. He’d been shot in the head at close range, according to autopsy reports.


In the wee hours of the morning on July 17th 1918, in the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg, Russia, ex-Tsar Nicholas II, his wife, ex-Tsarina Alexandra, and their five children were roused from sleep and escorted by guards out of the home, across a courtyard, and into a basement. Nicholas carried his ailing son, Alexei, in his arms. In the basement, Bolsheviks read Nicholas his death sentence, and then murdered the entire family.


In 1924, after the death of Vladimir Lenin, Josef Stalin became the leader of the Communist Party, and the Soviet Union.


June 22 1941, the Nazis launched Operation Barbarossa, invading the Soviet Union. The Red Army was able to hold Moscow, and the operation failed.


July 1942, the Nazis bombed the Soviet steppe city of Stalingrad, kicking off one of the longest, bloodiest battles in human history: The Battle of Stalingrad.


These are the things that we know.

We also know that amid the bloody chaos of war, individual stories of bravery, and sacrifice, and great loss are often buried amidst the stacks and stacks of battle statistics. Sometimes, in the dry recitation of wins and losses, we forget that men and women lived these wars. They fought and bled and scrapped and killed to stay alive. They saw things. Terrible things. Some more terrible than others.

This is a war story. Like all war stories, it is a story about men…and monsters.

Sometimes, the monsters come down on the side of the angels.

Tread carefully, dear reader.


White Wolf releases two weeks from today! 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Vampire Stories are Human Stories

“Once again...welcome to my house. Come freely. Go safely; and leave something of the happiness you bring.”
Bram Stoker, Dracula

I think the reason I've always loved the paranormal genre is because it's one that is rife with possibilities. And of all the paranormal creatures, vampires have always been my favorites. Like all book and movie monsters, they serve as dark looking glasses through which to view the human psyche; a way to examine our own wants, needs, hearts' desires, and even kinks in a way that is shocking, thrilling, and, in the case of vampires, monstrous and monstrously charming. In the vampire, we have a being who is both as refined and cultured as we could hope to be - and as base and violent as we sometimes fear we might be. There's a cleverness to good vampire stories, a perfect blend of suggestion and explicit statement, the erotic and the horrifying. 

In her introduction to Dracula, Brooke Allen writes, "If there is a moral to Dracula, it might be that simple goodness is not adequate to fight evil. One must bring brains and moral strength into the arena as well." This is true, especially given the context that in Dracula, and all resultant fiction inspired by it, as well as earlier works, the vampire is not presented as a mindless, slobbering beast, but something mostly human, with the ability to reason, to lie, to seduce, and confuse. 

Though we'll meet a variety of paranormal beings in my new Sons of Rome series, I was most excited to explore vampires and vampirism, and to create my own mythos about them. So much beautiful work has been done in the genre already, and I wanted to make sure that my spin had its own flavor, while paying homage to the original legends. I wanted to write stories that, at their hearts, are saying something about human nature, and the ways longevity and experience can shape and, sometimes, warp it. 

There are several central characters in the series who are vampires (including Vlad Tepes!) but my favorite would have to be Valerian, who we get to meet for the first time in White Wolf, and who will be the focus of the third book.


"This is about one thing: power. Everyone craves it, and only a few can hold it. It’s the one lasting tenant of this world that survives century after century: the craving and pursuit of power.”
Sasha swallowed the rising lump in his throat. “You’re wrong.”
“Am I?” He arched a single brow, smile mocking.
“Why would you tell me all of that anyway?”
He shrugged and sat back. “I’ve always liked wolves, myself. Couldn’t stand the mages – crafty liars, all of them. But wolves have a certain rough honesty to them. They’re emotion, and instinct, and so rarely have machinations of their own.” He smiled up at the sky, almost wistful. Then glanced back at Sasha. “Consider it my good deed of the day.” He snorted. “Better make that decade.”
“Are you a vampire?” Sasha asked.
“Yes,” the prince answered, just as simply.
“Is [redacted] like you?”
“He’s nothing like me.”
In the silence that followed, Sasha heard his wolves approaching, their breath and heartbeats, felt their curiosity and wariness. They couldn’t smell the prince either, but could sense their alpha’s distress.
Finally, the prince got to his feet and dusted off his pristine breeches. “I better be going, then.”
“Wait!” Sasha said, and it came out a shout.
The prince gave him an amused glance.
“What’s your name?”
That earned him another fang-flashing smile. “I always tell my friends to call me Val,” he said, winked, and then was gone. Vanished into thin air, as if he’d never been there at all.

White Wolf
Copyright © 2017 by Lauren Gilley

Friday, October 6, 2017

Friday Fluff: The Party Part One

Everyone knew Remy L√©cuyer was in love with Lucy McCall…except for Lucy McCall. Or, he thought darkly, maybe she knew, but didn’t return his sentiments, and thought the kind thing to do was pretend she didn’t notice that he stared at her too long sometimes, and always found a way to sit next to her.  Because she was nice. She was the kind of genuinely sweet, soft spoken, thoughtful person who mailed handwritten thank you notes, who remembered shopkeeper’s names and thought to ask after their ailing relatives. Who didn’t mind pitching in even when her eyelids were flagging; who tutored children and volunteered at every single club charity event, smiling at everyone she encountered.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Whole Way Through

An unofficial, belated Workshop Wednesday post, since I've been too deep in trying to finish White Wolf to be a proper blogger. 

Back during my show days, my trainer, who was wonderful, had two last-minute things she would say before every dressage test. "You really gotta get in there." And "Ride the whole test."

One of the more popular, and hilarious misconceptions I've encountered about riding has been that new riders think that once you ask a horse to do something, it keeps doing it until you tell it to stop. Kick once for trot, and the horse keeps trotting until you whoa. They quickly learn that this is not the case at all. Horses don't have buttons to push; they're highly sensitive, and intelligent, and to ride a horse is to be in constant, subtle and kind communication with them. 

A dressage test is a collection of cavalry movements performed in a particular pattern, and to ride the whole test means that you don't just execute one movement, and rush to the next, with sloppy in-between moments. It means you approach each transition with the same care and attention to detail. No slacking off, no sitting like a sack of potatoes. Constant communication and correction. 

I love my riding/writing metaphors, and I've always been struck by the ways "ride the whole test" applies to writing a novel. Some scenes are more exciting than others, more enjoyable for the author to write, but in order to pull off a book that is enjoyable throughout for the reader, the writer must approach each chapter, each page, each scene, each line with the same care and thoughtfulness. You aren't writing a few scenes linked together with filler; you're writing the whole book, moment to moment. Make each sentence count. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

White Wolf - Official Summary

I shared this in the Sons of Rome readers group a few weeks ago, and now, with just a month left to go, here's the official back cover blurb for White Wolf, Sons of Rome Book One. 

NYPD homicide detective Trina Baskin is having nightmares. Vivid ones. Full of blood, and snow, dead wolves…and a young man with pale hair who howls like an animal. She chalks them up to stress and an overactive imagination, too many Old Country stories from her Russian father who, when he’s had too much vodka, starts to rave about dark forces and things that look like men…but aren’t.

But then a case hits her desk that can’t be explained. A young man found outside a club with a nasty bite mark on his neck – and not a drop of blood left in his body. With no leads, no theories that bear exploring, too little sleep, and a partner who seems to be willfully throwing his career down the toilet, the last thing Trina needs is a full-on out of body experience…in which her family’s past is revealed to her, and everything starts making a whole lot of terrifying sense.

In 1942, Trina’s great-grandfather, Nikita, is a captain of the Cheka, the Soviet political police – or so it seems. He and his men are sent to Siberia to retrieve a “volunteer,” the boy who’s going to win the war against the Nazis – and potentially unleash hell on earth.

The world’s immortal population has been living quietly, secretly, hiding from the wars of men, hoping the past can stay buried. But what happens on the Eastern Front in the winter of 1942 will change everything.

In 2017, Trina is about to come face-to-face with her own past in a way she never thought possible. It turns out monsters are real – and they might be the only hope for survival.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Ghost and Ash

Have some surprise Friday fluff! Spoilers for American Hellhound


“You’re not scrawny.” That’s what Ava always said, rolling her eyes as she did so. Exactly like a sister was supposed to. Then she’d say, “Finish your breakfast, sweetie, or you’ll be late.” Or, “Did you finish your homework?” Or some other totally mom thing to say.

Monday, September 18, 2017


I love to hear from readers, and invite everyone to email me ( or message me on Facebook ( Gilley - Author). But I thought it might be helpful to consolidate some of my frequently asked questions so everyone can benefit from the answers. These are the things I get asked most often, and my answers:

When is the next Dartmoor book coming out?
Sometime next year, most likely. I don't keep to hard deadlines - because I don't have to, yay! and also because farm life and my poor immune system sometime throw a wrench in the works. The next Dartmoor book will be Fox's, titled Prodigal Son, and so far I have about 8k words of it written. White Wolf has been the sort of complex, research-intensive book that requires all of my attention, so we won't see Fox until the spring. 

When does White Wolf release?
I'm shooting for a Halloween release. It's not up for preorder, so be sure to follow my pages, or follow me on Amazon, so you can be notified when it goes live. 

Can I have an ARC?
I'm sorry, but I've elected not to give out digital advance review copies. I've had some bad luck in doing so in the past - The Skeleton King was released on all the pirate sites several weeks ahead of its release. Which. Yikes. Fool me once, and all that. Also, I've realized ARCs are counterproductive for me. The moment a book is polished and ready for release, I like to turn it over to my readers. ARCs would slow that process, and also play favorites and risk spoilers. I am always happy to donate copies to a giveaway, and host release week giveaways on my own, so be sure to email me if you'd like to host a giveaway. 

Will your books be available for audio?
This is the answer that has made some readers, to my puzzlement, spitting mad. And the answer is no, not anytime soon. Why? While I appreciate the fact that some readers benefit greatly from audio books, and want to be as inclusive as possible when it comes to making my work available to all audiences, at the moment, as an indie author, the audio process is both extremely time consuming and extremely expensive, and it doesn't make sense for me as a businesswoman. I'm an artist who loves to share her art, yes, but I'm also a single gal doing it on her own who is a small business owner, and I have to do what makes sense for my business so that I can continue to write books for everyone. 

Can I buy signed books?
Yes, you can! Email me at with your order, and I can invoice you via Paypal. Prices are same as on Amazon, plus shipping. I will ship internationally, but be warned that the shipping will be anywhere between $15 to $60, depending on destination. I ship domestically via media mail to keep costs down, so it can take up to a week to reach you. Priority mail available upon request. I usually have Dartmoor books in stock, but may have to order other books, so please allow an extra week for delivery. 

Be sure to follow me on social media to stay up to date:

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Workshop Wenesday: Inspiration and Originality

Workshop Wednesday: Inspiration and Originality 

When writers put pen to paper, it's their hope to pen a story that is vivid, authentic, and - maybe most of all - original. But anyone writing novels today will tell you that pretty much every story has already been told...and been told many, many times. It's a common sticking point: hasn't someone already written a book about this? Aren't I retreading old territory? And, in my personal case, does anyone really want to read another book about outlaw bikers? 

Is there such a thing as a truly new story? Probably not. But you know what hasn't been told? Your story. The trick to writing unique fiction is to find a way to make all the inspiration you love into something that belongs to you and you alone. 

Figure Out What You Love
Looking at what's popular and emulating it, I'm sure, gets some people some buzz in the short run. Realistically speaking, there's something to be said for making a quick buck - I mean, I think there is. I always do things the hard way, so I dunno. In any event, I think those books aren't the kind that have any kind of lasting fanbase; they don't pay off in the long run because you can tell the author wasn't inspired and passionate. To write the best book you can, you have to write about the stories that keep you up at night. Take your obsessions, your fangirl screaming, and write that. Figure out the difference between the kind of books that mildly interest you and the ones that set you on fire. 

Now Figure Out Why You Love It
Inspiration can come from anything. It can find you anywhere - though it usually doesn't germinate into anything useful until you're driving or taking a shower, Murphy's Law. By all means, when inspiration strikes, take it and run with it. But in the interest of originality, it can be helpful to think about why certain things inspire you. Understanding the heart of inspiration can help you carry forward beloved themes and ideas while steering clear of outright copying. 

Here's an example: I love Jane Eyre. Love it. I love Jane and I love Rochester, and they were a major inspiration for Price of Angels. But I didn't want to write a book in which Holly was a governess for Michael's ward, a book in which a wealthy Michael had a first wife locked up in the attic. Instead, I wanted to dig deep into the characters and figure out what I loved about them that I felt I could carry forward. What resulted was a story about an abused woman trying to make it on her own, graced with a spine of steel not immediately visible, and a man who feels deeply, but who comes across as cold and strange. 

When you really love a character, it's probably for reasons deeper than hair color, or height, or profession. Is it because he or she is kind? A deep-thinker? A good parent? Someone resilient doing the best they can with the hand they're dealt? When you break down your love into its basic building blocks, you can pull out those blocks and use them to craft characters, and stories, that are all your own and which really don't resemble the original inspiration at all.