amazon.com/authors/laurengilley

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

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

FAQs

I love to hear from readers, and invite everyone to email me (authorlaurengilley@gmail.com) or message me on Facebook (facebook.com/Lauren 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 authorlaurengilly@gmail.com 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. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Why Sons of Rome Makes My Creative Heart Happy

Fulk vibe 


There's a quote that I love about owning everything that's happened to you. You own the things you've accomplished, too. As a writer, you own all the stories that you've written, and when you start writing something new, it isn't a case of leaving those stories behind, but, rather, of cramming them all into your toolbox (or, in Mercy's case, tackle box) and toting them along with you. 

I was having a conversation with my alpha reader about White Wolf a few weeks ago that consisted largely of hand-waving and incoherent straw-grasping from me as I tried, unsuccessfully, to explain to her why this project was so exciting and important for me. After an embarrassing amount of time, I finally realized what I'd been trying to convey. "This series," I told her, "is the reason I've written all the books I have before this. Everything I've ever written has been practice for this." 

She said, "But I really liked your other books!" 

And I said, "That's not what I mean." What I mean is that if it weren't for the things I've learned while writing my other books, I wouldn't have a prayer of tackling something as massive and creatively-terrifying as the Sons of Rome series. 

Writing and publishing books has been an amazing learning experience for me. Each book teaches me something entirely new about character development, about plot, pacing, tension. They've all taught me something new about myself as a writer. Each one has been a creative experiment in which I challenged myself to dig deeper, stretch farther outside my comfort zone, and write more beautifully than before. 

If the number of messages and emails I've received in the past few weeks are anything to go by, I think there's a certain sense that Dartmoor is something I've set aside in order to pick something else up. Which isn't true. It's the toolbox analogy. All the things I've learned while writing Dartmoor are carrying through to this new book. Characters who are flawed, but lovable, who screw up, and then do better, who love hard, and who are confused about their feelings...those things are all still there, and they're there because of Dartmoor. 

Writing White Wolf has felt like those fevered days of writing Fearless, neck-deep in world-building, continually surprised by the characters, and the envelopes they're willing to push. Asking myself "do I dare?" and cackling with glee when I realize how twisted it all is. That was always my secret delight with Fearless: it was always a little bit of a Gothic horror story masquerading as something more down-to-earth. 

I'm not naïve enough to think that all my regular readers will like it. Some will probably dislike it. But I think some of you will love it. I love it, and it's a book, and a series, that I'm writing for the people who will love it. That's the secret, you know: write books that some people will love, and never listen to the detractors. 

Here's why I love it, and why I hope some of you will love it too:

- History. I've always enjoyed studying history. The past is what shaped our present, and to understand what happened then helps us to be better informed about what happens now. Also, I just love the exploration there. With characters born as far back as 1267 (Fulk), and even farther back (our sons of Rome), the scope of history in this series is vast. When characters live forever, the possibilities are endless. And since I love writing characters with shared histories, the vastness serves as an amazing catalyst for relationship-building. 

- The Aesthetic. I love the dark vampire aesthetic. The red velvets and dripping candles, yes, but mostly the push/pull of dark and light within each character. Craving versus resistance; civilized versus animalistic; aloof versus impassioned; beautiful versus hideous. When done well, vampires have always served as a visceral, erotic metaphor for an individual's duality, the conflicting nature of humankind. For me, the challenge was to fit that aesthetic into a story in which potentially awesome characters are deeply grounded in reality. To create very real problems for a group of characters who, despite supernatural abilities, are still very much struggling with the identity and morality issues of humans. These are not fairytale vampires and wolves, but People With Problems who also happen to be immortal and strong. 

- A Good Fit. Since my writing style leans more toward the literary side of things, I've found that horror/paranormal fiction is a really good fit. 

- The Characters. This series gives me a chance to explore a whole new crop of characters. Characters who are burdened by time and their own pasts. Clever villains you can't help but love. Truly badass women who don't have to play by anyone else's rules. Even some real life figures from history. These are the kinds of characters who I like to fangirl about in my Real Dorky Life. 

In short, this series is an overlong love letter to all the dark fiction I've ever loved. It'll tick off the Morality Police, and poke at some people's comfort zones, and it isn't apologetic about doing so. 

Writing has gone well; it's felt like an adventure I've had the privilege of witnessing and then taking down on paper, and that's usually a very good sign. This first book has unfolded in a completely unexpected way, and that's been its own kind of joy. Opening the door on a new world is always thrilling and a little scary, but it's what makes writing its own reward.

When I say the old rote "I can't wait to share," know that I really, really mean it. Shooting for a late October release, so stay tuned. 



Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Workshop Wednesday: Reading For Writers Part I


Reading For Writers Part I:
I talk often about the importance of reading for writers. It is important; it’s the most-common advice big-name published writers gives when asked for pointers, and I agree with them.

But maybe you’re wondering why it’s so important.

The short answer is that a well-read writer is going to be more articulate, better-seasoned, and more distinctive. Well-read writers have got the mechanics of the written word down pat, and are able to delve deeper into their characters. Their author voices are more well-developed and they’ve established a certain style all their own. A well-read author writes stories that feel and sound like them, rather than rough-sketch parodies of whatever’s popular on the marketplace.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Characterization Part III


Characterization Part III
Characters in a Romance

This is not a how-to post. It's not even a suggestion post. It's a disjointed list of the things I find personally important when it comes to writing characters who are in romantic relationships. 

I will readily admit that the romantic elements of any story are not my strong suit. Chemistry, sex, relationships...I write better friendships and action sequences. So please take this week's WW post with a grain of salt, or skip it altogether if that's more your speed. 

Alright, on to the list:

- I want every character in my books to have value as individuals, which means I don't ever write anyone solely for the purposes of providing someone with a love interest. I want them all to stand on their own, to have their own hopes and dreams, and problems. I can't force it - that's why, sometimes, when readers request that I write a book for so-and-so character, I can't give them a firm answer because I haven't found "the one" for him or her yet. 

- In that same vein: no cipher characters. No females who are empty shells into which the readers can pour themselves so that they can feel they are personally experiencing the romance that unfolds. Reading is the ultimate vicarious experience, yes, but I prefer love stories in which both parties are fully-fleshed, believable, and in which their love feels real and important. I'm happy for them - not wishing I was one of them, if that makes sense. 

- If I could pick a theme song, it would be "That Don't Impress Me Much" by Shania Twain. "Okay, so what, do you think you're Elvis or something? Whatever." Okay, so the leading man is a biker, a firefighter, a cowboy, an MMA fighter, a Navy SEAL. Why? There's that old "why" question again from Part I. His profession, his name, his tattoos - none of those things by themselves are what make him lovable.  And I want him to be lovable - to the audience, sure, but mostly to the person who's falling in love with him. 

- It's not enough to simply describe both parties as attractive. They have to be attractive to each other, and that's a total package kind of deal. Physical traits play a part in it, sure, but it has to go deeper than that. There has to be compatibility, mutual interests, real caring and emotion. In a really great love story, it doesn't matter what the characters do for a living or how much money they have - we, as the audience, are starry-eyed because their love is so perfect and meant-to-be. 

- Making a "Why" list can be a great way to figure out the characters' romantic journey. Why are they drawn to one another? Why each other specifically and not someone else? Why are they resistant? Or, why are they falling so quickly? The more time you spend asking yourself about the reasons why they work, the stronger the relationship is going to be on paper. 

- Remember that you want the audience to fall in love with the couple as a unit, but, as previously stated, if the romantic elements were removed, the individuals in the couple should still have compelling emotional journeys throughout the novel.

- Names don't make characters sexy; characters elevate names to sexy status. 

- Not every reader wants the same kind of romance. Got an idea that doesn't fit the mold? A hero who isn't alpha? There's someone out there who wants to read that (probably me!).

When I'm writing, it's always characters first, romance second. A little spice and sex won't magically make boring, flat characters more interesting, nor fix a weak plot. In my approach, if the book is a cake, the romance is the sprinkles and candles on top. I like to think of it as people we love falling in love with each other. 


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Workshop Wednesday: Characterization Part II



Workshop Wednesday: Characterization Part II

Secondary Characters:
Anyone who's read any of my books will tell you that I like to write secondary characters. Usually a lot of them. Part of this is because I prefer to write book series versus standalones, and secondary characters are necessary in that instance; but also because the growth of a primary character is expedited or hampered by his relationships with others - those "others" are your secondary characters.

I generally find secondary characters fascinating, and I think it's because they're on the fringes of a story, and therefore still mysterious. There's the potential for discovery there, and learning more about them. Because I think mystery is a large part of their appeal, when I start a book or series, I leave the secondary characters' backgrounds fairly open-ended. I decide a few things about them, and then allow the rest to reveal itself to me as they interact with the main character(s). 

But that's the thing - there IS a reveal. They DO have histories, fears, wants and dreams of their own, and aren't simply there to prop up the hero or heroine. For me, it's important, as a writer, to see them as individuals and not just supporting players; to think of them as having their own stories down the line, even if I never wind up getting to them (because some secondary characters end up being more interesting than others). It's important for the main character to care about them, truly engage them in conversation, and for the secondary characters to have unique opinions on the issues at hand. 

In real life we walk in our own familiar shoes, but as a writer, we, like actors in a stage play, are changing costumes behind the curtains and throwing ourselves into a dozen different roles. It requires a great deal of empathy -  elsewise you'll write the kind of book in which the characters are all clones, distinguishable only by name and a few superficial details. 

Juggling:
The problem with a big cast of POV characters is that you then have a lot of competing voices in your head. It can get stressful. It's why, unless it comes naturally and easily, I wouldn't recommend a writer tackle a large cast of characters on their first attempt. Fiction writing is an exercise in detaching yourself from the imaginary folks in your head, and learning how to let characters speak through you; the more characters, the more overwhelming the process can seem. 

If you're juggling a cast with multiple narrators, here are some things to keep in mind:

- Make sure each new POV introduced has something unique and valuable to add to the narrative. A different perspective, a view of an event that no one else can see or hear, some insight for the audience that will help put everything else into context. If you shift POV, make sure it's for a reason, and that it's enhancing the plot, rather than rehashing what someone else has already said. 

- Make sure each character has his or her own voice. This doesn't mean the style of your writing needs to change, in fact, it shouldn't; but the thoughts themselves need to fit logically with that character. For example: seven different characters wouldn't use the exact same terms to describe the same instance. 

- In the interest of reality, keep the dialogue simple and person-appropriate. A biker isn't going to wax poetic for long paragraphs, and a titled English gentleman isn't going to say "ain't." 

Next week, I'll talk about my personal approach to writing characters in a romantic relationship, and how to avoid the pitfalls of character clichés. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Workshop Wednesday - Characterization Part One


Workshop Wednesday - Characterization Part One

For me, characterization is the most important part of the whole writing process, so apologies in advance if this post gets vast and out of control. 

All my writers out there, you can join the conversation here on FB in my new self-pub-friendly writers' group. 

Every one of my books or short stories begins with a character, or a group of characters. I would like to say that I spend weeks expertly crafting them like a piece of fine furniture, but I can't take credit for that. Generally, characters walk out of the fog in my brain, wave, and introduce themselves. Sometimes they are unexpected, and other times I've already got the table set for dinner, watching the clock, hoping for them to show up. I realize this is not at all helpful as far as writing instruction goes, so in this post I'll (hopefully) break the process of characterization down in a way that helps you find your own special characters amidst the brain fog 😊

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Blackmere Manor Aesthetic

I've always wanted an excuse to write a decadent, creaky, secret-keeping old Gothic house, complete with somber portraits, ornate candelabras, and unsettling canopied beds. 


He cast another glance over his shoulder at the Gothic masterpiece of a home, its narrow, mullioned windows, its dangerous eaves, its rain-streaked stone façade. The stone gargoyles on the roof seemed to move if you squinted, their lips peeled back in constant snarls, wings spread threateningly. Tucked away deep in the woods outside of Richmond, the house couldn’t have looked more out of place in Virginia if it had tried, seemingly snatched off the cover of a novel, plucked from a dark and stormy English countryside.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Middle Distance



67,378 words on White Wolf, and I'm in that dreaded middle distance. Beginnings are thrilling, endings are a relief and a realization of all your hard work. But the middle is drudgery, even when you love what you're doing. After about the 20k word mark, it starts to feel like work

But in a way, this whole book is a beginning. It being the first in a series. Everything is fresh; nothing is old and tired. 

The things I'm enjoying the most:

The words. This one of those rare, joyous projects in which I can scroll to any page, any scene, and find myself so happy with the way the words have laid themselves out. That's when it feels inspired, and meant-to-be, and the right thing to be writing at the right moment. That's the best feeling in the middle of a WIP; I love it.

The way it's not tidy. The words are, for sure, those are precise and careful. But the story is boiling over like a pot on the stove, running in directions that make it hard on the genre labels, and taking it's sweet time, spreading out, turning to caramel in its own way. Long, slow-burning, with that creeping sort of dread that builds and builds. 

Five years ago, two, even just one year ago, I wouldn't have been ready to write this book. All the books I've written up until now have been an amazing kind of practice for a series of this scope, so I'm feeling really grateful for all the words that have come before; from the Walkers to Walking Wounded, all have prepared me to be a writer who, though scared of the enormity, is just reckless enough to try and tackle this mountain. 

This is, I apologize, the boring part for readers, when all I can say is "I'm still writing," and I can't wait for the day, soon, when I say that it's done and ready for your Kindles and bookshelves. Though it sometimes feels like it, I know that middle distance doesn't last all that long. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

WorkShop Wednesday - Outlining and Story Planning

My pre-planning notebooks for Walking Wounded and White Wolf

8/9/17
Outlining and Story Planning

It's been a while since I last wrote a Workshop Wednesday post, and I'm glad to be back at it! This post, like all my writing posts, is based largely on my own writing experiences and education, shared with the hope that you might find something helpful in them. These are merely my opinions and findings. I'm now moderating a small, closed FB group for writers interested in the indie writing and publishing process, and you're welcome to join here

Monday, August 7, 2017

I Do What I Want


This post is for everyone, but it's aimed specifically at writers out there who are seriously considering self-publishing, and who are holding back because they're uncertain. I've been exactly where you are, and these are the things I wish someone had told me then. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Katya


This was war.
It was so easy to think of it in terms of ideals and speeches and flags, but it was this: the breaking-open of living things.



I live to write books that say, "Here's something terrible that happened, and here's how this group of people handled it." As a reader, so long as those characters' reactions are honest, I will gladly tug on someone else's boots and walk a mile or two with them.

Katya is the kind of character I love to write. The kind who takes all the horrible things that have happened to her, balls them up tight, and lets the rage turn cold and analytical. The kind of bottom-of-the-food-chain, caught-in-the-machine's-gears character who does what she has to in order to survive. 

I feel like this is a good place to say that this story is dark, but nothing my regular readers can't handle.

From White Wolf
Copyright © 2017 by Lauren Gilley
All Rights Reserved


When she looked down at his face – and God, the aristocratic cut of his features, the way his gray eyes had a blue cast in this light – a jolt of awareness crackled through her. The weight of his hand, of his gaze, of his breath turning to frost in the air between them. She wanted, absurdly, to shove his black fur hat off his head and spear her fingers through the dark waves of his hair, feel the warmth of his scalp in her hand. Wanted to climb inside his coat, up close where his heat bled through his clothes, smell the sweat and dirt on his throat.
The sudden, visceral urge horrified her. She’d been close, skin-close, to [someone like him] before. When she closed her eyes and turned her face away from Nikita’s concerned gaze, she could see the other face – the crooked, nicotine-stained teeth, the harsh lines around his mouth, the grimace of effort as he tore at her skirt…
She made a frightened, involuntary sound in her throat.
“Katya.”
“I’m fine,” she said, but she wasn’t. Because she’d allowed him into a dark and secret part of her psyche. A damaged place in which rape and intimacy had become so tangled that she wanted to sink her teeth into his skin for reasons that shocked and confused her.
Katya.”
“I’m fine,” she repeated, and this time she forced herself to be, taking a deep breath, fixing her gaze on the clearing ahead of her. She unslung her rifle and snugged the stock into her shoulder.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Nikita

“Perhaps your story is as full of twists and turns as my own. Perhaps not. Either way, I think both of us have many secrets.”



White Wolf is populated with characters of all kinds, but the two central figures are Sasha, who I've already blogged about, and Nikita. Unlikely allies, even unlikelier friends, and both victims of circumstance. One of the themes of the book is identity: the contrast of public versus private identity, the need to pretend to be one thing in order to accomplish something more important than oneself. The novel's setting has proved an immense challenge when it comes to research, but I wanted to use it because it provides the perfect landscape in which to take the monster/man identity concepts of paranormal and horror literature and break them down in a historically-grounded, very human way. In many ways, I think the most horrifying aspects of the story are the real-life atrocities committed by humans. 

If Sasha is the endearing and honest figure of the story, then Nikita is his foil. Full of secrets and repressed emotion. Full of guilt and starting to doubt himself in significant ways. For me, he's endearing in his own way, and his relationship with his lady love is proving, thus far, to be one of the most challenging, balance-beam romances of my writing to date. Very worthwhile, though. 

I absolutely cannot wait to share this one with you guys. It's been challenging, and thrilling, and I'm psyched to get all my little book babies on the page so they can start meeting each other and disagreeing about everything. 

***

“I’m not a nice man. But I always tell the truth.”

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sons of Rome

*rubs hands together gleefully*

So NOW that "The Stalker" is out in the world, we can talk a little bit more about Sons of Rome as a whole. (If you haven't seen it yet, you can grab the prelude short story, "The Stalker," at Amazon for 99c.) 

The characters introduced in the short - Fulk, Anna, Dr. Talbot, and Vlad - are all major players in the series. Fulk and Anna are my favorites, and we'll get to see how and when they met in a later book that's all about them. I mentioned in the author note at the end of the story that Fulk le Strange is my fictionalized version of a real baron born in 1267 - and the same is true of Vlad. A historical figure, now more myth than man at this point, who I'm molding into shape for my own storytelling purposes. 

Because it's a character-driven saga, the emphasis will always be on telling the various individuals' stories. There is an ongoing plot that is further developed with each separate adventure, but for anyone who isn't familiar with, or who doesn't care for paranormal stories all that much, I think you'll be happy to hear that this series is very much a human story, at its heart. The paranormal aspects are very much present - immortal characters with powers, etc. - but the stories are about families: about lovers, spouses, siblings, friends. About moral dilemmas, and nature vs. nurture, about sacrifice and loss. 

While this series is very different from the Dartmoor books readers have come to expect from me, it's similar in that it's a series written for readers like me, who want to get good and invested in a story. This is a rainy day, cup of coffee, blanket on your lap kind of series. It is not designed for the reader looking for instant gratification. It's my great hope that it will be an immersive reading experience. That it will be at times scary, at times funny, and that at the end of all its adventures, true love will indeed save the day. 

If you enjoyed "The Stalker," get ready, because there is so much more of that on the way. This is my favorite genre, and I can't wait to contribute to it, and share it with you all. 


The year is 1942, and a boy from Siberia is caught up in the Great Patriotic War. 

The year is 2017, and a NY homicide detective dreams every night about blood, and snow, and dead wolves...and a man with blues eyes who claims to know her family.

A baron returns to his manor. A legend wakes. A brother-killer walks the earth again. The Sons of Rome have stepped from the world of fable into the world of the living, and everything is about to change.

White Wolf, coming Fall 2017



Friday, July 21, 2017

Surprise Release - The Stalker



Surprise! 

A short story prelude for my new, paranormal Sons of Rome series is now live on Amazon for 99 cents. Get it here

This short introduces two important characters from the series and sets the scene for what's to come. Sons of Rome officially launches later this year with book one, White Wolf, and kicks off an epic saga with historical and contemporary storylines, and a crazy cast of outlaws, misfits, and literal monsters. 

I can't wait to share it with everyone! We're just getting started. 

(inspirational pin board found here)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Dear Heart Chapter 27


Hi! So, this isn't the normal place for updates on Dear Heart, but Wattpad has changed their coding so that it's impossible to write a chapter and then copy/paste or upload it. I'd have to write directly on the site, which would ruin my formatting, and just...no. Ugh. So. Here's chapter 27 - be warned that it is incredibly short. I had a message last week about publishing it, and I told this reader that it was waaaay back on the back burner while I work on all my other projects. And it is. But as it sometimes does, a question like this got me poking around in the manuscript, and I was filled with sadness as I read back through bits of chapters and reminded myself why I started posting this story, and why it's hard to set it aside for the time being. I decided to go ahead and post what I have for 27, though it isn't much. And I'm hoping I can continue to post more regular updates here on the blog.

Real talk time. I started this story because I fell in love with the characters, and because, at heart, I love soft, sweet couple stories about living life and getting past hard times. And once I started writing, I found that this book, like Walking Wounded, was going to be one of THOSE books, the ones where, for whatever reason, my writing could come to the page in its truest and best form. Even today, as I skim through it, I'm very proud of the writing mechanics of it. It's a rare thing when I write something with the sensitivity and attention to detail that I crave while reading, and this book is an example of such. 

Compared to my other Wattpad entries, Snow in Texas and Tastes Like Candy, reader interest has been low. (I know how typecast actors feel now, ha!) But I would love to find a way, possibly through some sort of magic, to finish this one this year and have it available on Amazon. I don't plan to continue updating it chapter-by-chapter...unless you want to see that happen. If you like the updates, please consider showing it some love. Stories like these are my absolute best work, and I'd love to be able to write more of them in the future. 

You can read chapters one through twenty-six here

I'll be sure to let everyone know when the final, complete version is available. 

xoxo

Monday, July 17, 2017

Sasha



From
White Wolf
Copyright © 2017 by Lauren Gilley
All Rights Reserved 

Nikita.

Good. Kind. Dangerous.

Friend. Pack.

There was so much pain. So many sounds. And smells.

Chaos. Too bright, too cold, too much.

He smelled blood, and something dead, and the rank fear-sweat of humans. Humans afraid of him.



If it's true about Dartmoor that I like to write characters who are difficult to like, but easy to love, then it's doubly true of the characters in White Wolf. Maybe. Some of them, at least. I think Sasha is pretty darn loveable and likeable. 

The fun thing about writing, for me anyway, is stepping outside the box of my everyday life and into that of someone who, on the surface, is different in every way. And then excavating down and finding the universal things that make them wonderful, and weird, and familiar. 

Sons of Rome, being paranormal, gives me a chance to explore with a freedom that doesn't exist in a closed environment like a biker club. There are still rules to this paranormal world, yes, but we can go anywhere, peek in on anyone, and see things through an array of lenses. It's freeing, and at moments worrying - do I have the writing chops for this? - but it affords more latitude when it comes to characters. 

Sasha is nineteen, Siberian, naïve, and kind-hearted. By contrast, his friends are jaded, experienced, necessarily violent, and duplicitous - also necessarily. It's delightful to invert the trope, and turn the sweet boy into the monster...and the monsters into the helpless tagalongs. 


Monday, July 10, 2017

Cover Reveal - White Wolf

Detective Trina Baskin keeps having nightmares. Vivid, graphic nightmares about snow, and blood, and wolves. She thinks they're just that - nightmares - until her latest case has her asking all sorts of questions about what's humanly possible. Together with her partner, Lanny, she stumbles onto the truth not only about the case, but about her own family history as well. 

Full synopsis to come...

Saturday, July 1, 2017

First Look - #WhiteWolf


Happy Saturday, all! I've been teasing and talking about my new project, White Wolf, for a few weeks now, and let me tell you, I am SO excited about this project - about this new series, Sons of Rome, which combines so many of my favorite genres and tropes. I can't wait to share it with everyone later this year...which is why I'm going ahead and sharing Chapter One now.

White Wolf is the first in a character-driven paranormal series with historical and contemporary storylines. Warnings (in general) for blood, violence, magic, scary stuff, sex, epic romances, accurate historical details...inaccurate historical details, alternate history, war scenes, actual battles, military stuff, lengthy references to real figures in history, and opinionated characters. Also, wolves...and the people they work for.

White Wolf
Copyright © 2017 by Lauren Gilley
All Rights Reserved



1



There was blood on the snow.

Gallons of it.

Arterial spray, the analytical part of her brain catalogued. She’d seen it before. But never this much. Great crimson arcs across the fresh white drifts, grisly hieroglyphs that attempted to explain what had happened to the bodies that littered the clearing.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

What It Boils Down To



Why don't I call myself a romance author?

It's a question I'm asked often. Sometimes with curiosity, sometimes with open hostility. Sometimes it's a serious point of contention that invokes nearly a year's worth of angry gossip and bad-mouthing on social media (Hi, Stalker-Girl! Might I suggest a healthier means of passing all your free time).

The answer is simple, and it isn't heinous. The answer is this: for me, the romantic elements of a story are never the most important.

I'm not bad-mouthing the romance genre. I'm not making a statement about it. I enjoy a good romance as much as the next reader. But when it comes to writing, the romantic plot of a story is never the most important aspect for me personally, and I think that shows in the final products. Writing romance is not really my strong suit - my strength lies in other areas of the narrative.

Some readers DO find my books romantic, and that's fantastic. Hopefully that means I capture romantic expression and feeling better than I think I do.

Some readers find my books to be lacking in romance, and that's fine too; to each her own. That's why I label most of my work "literary fiction," so that readers know going in to expect a story that focuses more on family relationships and personal struggles than on romantic chemistry.

During the conceptualization phase of writing, when I'm fleshing out my characters in rough, handwritten notes, I'm not thinking about their love lives. Take a character like Fox, for instance; it's taken a very long time to "find" his mate in my mind because, from the beginning, I was never thinking about his character arc in terms of romance. Even now, I can't promise that he'll marry an old lady, settle down and have children, because I have a hard time seeing that happen for him.

Genre labels boil down to marketing. Authors try to classify their books as honestly as possible so that the readers most likely to enjoy them will have an easier time finding them. When I first started on my publishing journey (2008), when I was querying, I called myself a romance writer. Through various interactions with agents, publishers, and editors, I eventually learned that my books didn't focus on the romantic relationships tightly enough to be considered genre romance. I fell into that limbo category of "fiction," where books with identity crises find themselves in bookstores. I had a choice: shift the focus of my books, or change  my label. I changed my label. And I continue to write books that are difficult to market - this is my burden to shoulder, and is in no way commentary on any particular genre. (Anyone who claims to have serious issues with the way I choose to label my books is just looking for things to be unhappy about. Haters, still, sadly, gonna hate).

The reason I blog about this from time to time is because I want readers to be happy. I want them to know where I'm coming from creatively so they know what to expect from my work.

Like White Wolf, for example. This series is such a passion project for me. It's an amalgamation of so many inspiring interests. It contains some touching and intense love stories...but as with my other work, I won't mislead anyone by claiming that romance drives the story. Think more historical and contemporary fiction with romantic subplots.

I think it'll always bother me that in a field that is essentially art, built on a foundation of individual artistic expression, a person can be bullied and belittled for pursuing her art in the way that's best-suited to her, but hey, it's a nasty world out there. Some people build sandcastles, and some kick them over for the fun of it. What I learned last year, while I was having a creative rejuvenation working on Walking Wounded, was that I'm at my best when I focus on the things that interest me the most, and that's something I'm definitely pursuing with my new Sons of Rome series. It's big, and daunting, I can't wait to share it with everyone.

Thank you, readers, as always, for your kindness and understanding.

Monday, June 12, 2017

White Wolf


Alternatively titled "What To Expect When You're Expecting A Book."

I'm 11k words into White Wolf as of today, and it's difficult, as it always is at this stage, to keep quiet about my latest project. It's too early for a blurb, or cover, or in-depth look...so I thought I'd share what I can today.

Here's what to expect from the first book in my new series:

Character is king. For me, even the coolest of concepts can't save a story with flat, uninteresting, unsympathetic characters. As with all my other books, White Wolf begins and ends with characters, with their personal growth and emotional journeys driving the story forward. And though some characters have extravagant backgrounds, the majority of this cast is splendidly ordinary. That's my shtick: ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances, and like with my other books, the true stars of this series are regular, everyday folks who are forced to make big decisions, and face seemingly insurmountable challenges.

It's dark. If Dartmoor asks readers to love characters who do unsavory things...this series doubles down on that. The violence and dark themes aren't anything you guys can't handle, but given the genre, it's darker than my other work. Just throwing that out there.

Family saga. Yep, Sons of Rome is a family saga. It's my other shtick. Family by birth, family by choice - check. Parent/child relationships, sibling relationships, coming to grips with the legacy of your family - check, check, and check.

Alternate History. I love history, I really do. And I love having the chance to explore it with real-time, in-the-moment scenes in which the past transcends dates on a page and becomes someone's reality. This series has an ongoing present day storyline, and for the most part the books will be contemporary. But I love having the chance to go back to important moments in history and put my own paranormal spin on them. It's what makes this series truly epic.

Paranormal. I'm calling this a paranormal series, but it has elements of so many other genres. The characters are driving the bus, and they can steer it in romantic, suspenseful, or horrifying directions.

White Wolf is poised to become my favorite project ever. With both a past and present storyline, a cast of lovable misfits, and high-stakes drama, it should definitely appeal to Dartmoor fans who don't mind going for a walk on the supernatural side. I CAN NOT wait to share it with everyone later this year.



Friday, June 9, 2017

#FicPromptFriday - Mags Meets the Ex




Technically no spoilers for American Hellhound since everyone already knows that Maggie and Ghost got married in the past.

6/2/17 – Mags Meets the Ex



“Uh oh,” Aidan said, and Maggie immediately went from pleasantly drowsy to fully-alert in an instant. Uh oh could mean any number of things in this crazy life of theirs. It could be a spilled milkshake, or a drive-by shooting.