Wednesday, September 30, 2015

New Book Release!

I may or may not have peed my pants today. But I will be changing them, rest assured.

One year, ten months, fourteen days. It doesn't sound like that long, but it's taken a lifetime to reach this milestone. This is what I always wanted. Now I've got it.

On Amazon

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sneak Peek at When Doves Fly

An excerpt from Chapter One of When Doves Fly, a new historical fiction novel set in 1870s Colorado, coming September 30, 2015:

Lily Wright departed the train before the other passengers, gripping her carpet bag tight, eager to disappear. The bell clanged their arrival as the train rumbled to a stop, and voices rose over the hiss of steam engines as travelers greeted family and friends. Lily had no one to greet, yet every face resembled her husband’s and filled her with cold dread. Throwing peeks over her shoulder, she dodged and weaved until she found the station agent.

“Where’s the nearest hotel and stagecoach, sir?”

“Welcome to Denver, miss.” He jerked his thumb to the east, beyond the depot. “Plenty hotels within a few blocks, they can get you to a coach.”

She nodded and proceeded inside. People, suitcases, and trunks littered the station. She ducked her head and wound around them. Hair prickled on her neck. Convinced eyes had followed her, she turned, but no one seemed interested. Her heart pounded faster as she skirted the ticket line and burst through the doors to the street.

Wagons lumbered past in the waning evening light. A river of people flowed around her—men in work clothes or suits and bowlers, women in walking dresses with pert bustles—while she stood in front of the depot and searched building signs.

She wanted a smaller place, inexpensive and inconspicuous. She’d thought she would feel safe once she reached Denver, but her anxiety had grown stronger with every mile as the train chugged across the prairie.

Lily negotiated the wide, muddy road with a stream of pedestrians toward a cross-street lined with tall brick and clapboard buildings. When the group reached the other side and went their separate ways, she started up the narrower street, scanning the buildings and stopping at each corner to survey the side roads. After several blocks, a squat, wooden structure with a large sign on the roof drew her attention: The Broadwell House. Her pace picked up.

The noise and chaos fell behind as the traffic and crowds thinned. The buildings cast long shadows over the road, and the mountain sunset blared bright color on the facing side.

Her apprehension dimmed outside the crush of people, and exhaustion weighed her shoulders down. The hotel beckoned. Her hand ached, and she shifted the small suitcase to her other hand as she passed an alley.

An arm shot from the narrow void between buildings and snatched the bag from her fingers. She gasped, but shock throttled a scream in her throat. She swung toward the breach but caught only a glimpse of a darker shadow darting away. Her feet moved a few yards into the alley, but the gloom stopped her.

Wait, what if I catch up with him? Who knows what he might do.

She spun and darted into the road.

“Thief! Help!”              

The street had emptied. The nearest figure, a block away, kept moving in the opposite direction. She opened her mouth to shout again but closed it with a snap.

Heavens, what am I thinking? I can’t get involved with the law here. But my bag ….

She turned back to the alley, but nothing moved, the shadow gone.


She stomped her foot and flapped her arms. The bag. Everything. The money! This cannot be happening.

Paralyzed by frustration, Lily couldn’t fathom what to do next. The sun dropped below the skyline. Fear overcame shock. When full dark hit, the street would only present more danger.

She scuttled toward the Broadwell House, where she walked to the clerk’s desk and pulled a purse from her skirt pocket.

“One night, please.”

The clerk flicked her eyes up from a newspaper. “$3.00. No visitors.” She returned her attention to her paper.

Lily dug the money from her purse. The remaining paltry bills and coins worsened the roiling in her stomach. She tucked the pouch back in her pocket and laid three gold coins in the woman’s outstretched hand.

“Up the stairs, on the left.” The clerk slid a key across the desk.

Relieved the woman hadn’t indicated a guest log, Lily snagged the key and hurried to the second floor. She let herself in, slammed the door, and turned the lock.

Minimal furniture filled the modest, tidy room. She bypassed a table with an oil lamp and matches and fell onto the bed. Burying her face in the pillow, she sobbed.

I can’t stay here. He’ll find me here, I just know it. I have to make it to a more remote place. But what will I do when I get there? I can’t start a store with no money. She pummeled the mattress. It’s not fair. All I want is freedom to do as I wish, independence with no one deciding where I can go or how I must live, the chance to be my own. Is that so much to ask?

Dark settled, but she didn’t drift off for hours.

© 2015 Lauren Gregory All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

It's Here! Cover & Release Date

First, the good news. The cover for When Doves Fly is ready, and I'm in love.

Next, the great news. The release date is set for September 30, 2015 for the ebook.

The long road leads to some amazing places.

When Doves Fly Book Cover
© 2015 Lauren Gregory All rights reserved.



Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Learning to Write

At eleven, I won a district-wide writing competition. First place out of 1,800 sixth graders. I still have the piece. I don't recall the process or feeling of writing it, but I remember the feeling of winning. I felt smart. I felt significant. I felt listened to.

In those days, I sought approval from adults because I didn't get it from peers, and the adults had listened. That flaw of approval-seeking, and others, led down some unfortunate paths. My fears stole that sense of significance while I sought approval in ways that didn't succeed from people who didn't matter. My teens and early twenties taught me harsh truths and suffocating falsehoods.

I learned drawing attention meant drawing criticism and scorn. I learned there's always someone waiting to drag you down. I learned to fade into the background to avoid disapproval.

I learned smart women weren't nearly as worthy as fun, pretty, friendly women (let alone men)--and that the former is mutually exclusive from the latter. I learned you could only be one thing, and that as a woman, smart would always lose. I learned smart women are challenged and belittled, and outspoken women are bitch and overbearing. I learned to shut up.

I learned to only present the good stuff. If it wasn't perfect, it wasn't good enough. And in that case, well, what was the use in trying? I'd never be perfect. I'd never be smart enough or pretty enough or good enough to matter. I learned to quit trying.

I decided I had no imagination, no creativity, nothing important to say, so anything I wrote would be stupid, vapid crap. I told myself I wasn't "inspired." I wasn't deep or insightful or funny. What if I offended someone? What if "they" didn't approve? I didn't want to be wrong. I didn't want people to pull back the curtain and see an imposter. If I made up a story, if I created something, it would be all my fault if it sucked.

After my son was born, I decided to accept another truth. I'd failed to learn all of the things I wanted to teach him: confidence, using his strengths, always being willing to try, accepting failure, to never stop learning, and above all, to never let anyone else decide who he should be or silence him.


At 39, I woke on a cold November morning, sat at my desk, and started writing. It wasn't perfect—good grief, the suck reigned supreme—but I wrote for sixteen hours. Why? It wasn't some supernatural, angels-singing moment of inspiration or a lightning bolt best-story-ever idea. It wasn't the story.

I no longer wanted to fade into the background. I was sick of letting the fear win. I refused to be quiet about things that excite me, scare me, and anger me any longer, and it didn't matter if anyone approved. I wanted to smash those falsehoods I'd learned.

I have excuses, like everyone. I'm a full-time single mom, and I work two jobs and homeschool my son. I have a house to maintain and family obligations. Health issues abound. Chronic pain cripples me, and painkillers make me stupid but don't alleviate the pain. Just after I finished the first draft, I endured emergency surgery that almost killed me and required months of recuperation. Those things slowed me down, but I kept learning and writing.

I studied art and craft, worked hard, and finished the manuscript. I learned to write well, not just spit out thoughts. I learned grammar and punctuation, those technical rules many disdain. I learned how to write with emotion and clarity. After remembering that I had a voice, I worked on learning how to use it.

Why—how—did I write a novel? I decided. That's all. No magical breakthrough, just a decision to use my voice and speak my mind, imperfections and all. That decision—which I still have to make every time I write—is exciting and terrifying. It took years of fighting fears and searching for confidence to make that first decision, to learn new truths and refuse to accept falsehoods.

Learning to write, both art and craft, is about learning how to connect with strangers. It's learning style and mechanics to create clarity and meaning without losing the story. It's learning to accept criticism along with approval, being willing to have our ideas challenged, and reveling in the fact that the learning is never finished. It's learning to use our voice, and it's never easy.

We all have fears and hopes, and we all need someone we can relate to, who has those same fears and hopes. No matter who you are or where you've been, someone out there can relate. If you tell a story with a message--no matter how simple or trite or crazy that message may seem to you when the demons of doubt rise in the dark hours--and tell it well, it will speak to someone. It won't connect with everyone, and not everyone will approve. But that's okay. It probably won't change the world, but maybe it will change one person, and it will change you. It will give you a voice.

At 39, I learned I have something to say and someone out there needs to hear it. When will you learn it.