A Free Copy of Gaia’s Hands

Folks —

I rarely write two days in a row, but I wanted all of you to know that I am releasing free copies of Gaia’s Hands for my blog readers. Gaia’s Hands is a romantic fantasy about an odd couple dealing with freakish talents and a plot to harm, and possibly kill, them.

Click here (Gaia’s Hands) for your copy

The only thing I ask is that, if you read it, you review it on Amazon.com. And maybe tell me that you’ve read it.

— Lauren

Dear Santa (from a writer)

Dear Santa,

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I’m too old to believe in you, yet I persist because of Pascal’s wager (“But what if Santa really exists? I have nothing to lose”.)

I’ve been good — within reason. I admit overindulging in coffee and sweets, often at the same time, and sometimes I get cranky. But my cats think I’m a good person, and I think my husband does. I hope that counts for something.

I have a list. It will make sense to you if I first explain: I am a writer, and to say I’m unknown is perhaps an understatement of exponential proportions. My Christmas list will reflect this. So there will be no choo-choo trains or dollies on this list.

Enough. Here is my Christmas list:

  • The secret to getting followers on social media (for someone who wants to do it themselves)
  • A readership for my novels, particularly Gaia’s Hands (which is nearer to my heart than the Kringle books, to be honest.)
  • Inspiration to write on the three partially-written books I have on this computer
  • The courage to publish another book (the one that Gaia’s Hands is the prequel for)
  • Lots of good coffee

It might be a lot to ask, but I figure I have to be honest about my situation to someone.

Love, Lauren

Glorious Break

I’ve missed a couple days writing this blog, but that’s because I spent a couple days in Kansas City on a writing retreat. Writing retreats consist of soaking up coffeehouse atmosphere, eating good food, and writing. This writing goal was to clean up some formatting and language on Gaia’s Hands that I missed the first time around. Luckily, uploading corrected versions on Kindle is so easy that I did it in half an hour, and 20 minutes of that was tweaking the cover.

I have editing to do with Avatar of the Maker, especially as I’ve separated it from the Maker’s Seeds plot. That’s something I’ve learned over my years writing, that there is such a thing as too much plot. As I have one-third of the book written, this will probably be painful. Maybe I will rescue it later. I have another book, although a fluffy one, waiting in the wings.

I get intense focus on writing retreats, even though I’m writing in a crowded coffeehouse. Or, as it so happens right now, writing in a quiet hotel room while my husband snores. (Oh yes, Richard, you do snore).

Today, I will write my newsletter and get caught up on my promotion tasks. And feel rested for the week to come.


What to say about a book

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I’ve written this fantasy book that hasn’t been “discovered yet”. Part of the reason it hasn’t is that I haven’t done a good job of selling it. Maybe it’s impostor syndrome; maybe it’s my inability to write good taglines. But here goes:

Gaia’s Hands

  1. Professor Jeanne Beaumont designs oases of edible plants. Josh Young, English instructor, sees visions of danger approaching Jeanne and her talent for making plants grow inches overnight. Josh’s visions prove true as Josh and Jeanne install her dream garden — to face trial by fire.
  2. Professor Jeanne Beaumont’s plants grow impossibly lusher and taller when she talks to them. Josh Young sees visions of Jeanne surrounded by a vast garden with a violent storm on the way. Josh and Jeanne must weather dire events and their eerie adversary — and they will face fire in Jeanne’s most ambitious garden.
  3. Josh Young sees a vision of horticulturist Jeanne Beaumont standing in a lush garden, facing a deadly storm. He must work with her to help her face her talent of making plants grow inches a day. Soon they face an ever-increasing threat which will try them by fire.

So, any of these? None of these? I’ll try longer ones later.

Happy New Year!

Happy 2022!

I have determined not to dread the coming of the new year or assume it will be better than 2020 or 2021 (but how could it be worse?) So I will look at it with cautious optimism and look at what I can control — what I do to make the best of the year.

My annual tradition

I have an annual tradition to make commitments for my year. I don’t do resolutions because they’re black-and-white: You keep them or you don’t. I prefer my method, which is to include the things I want to carry out in my life on the first day of the year. I have published my next novel, Gaia’s Hands. I have edited one of my works, eaten responsibly, organized some work for the beginning of the semester, organized my clothes a little, done a bit of cleaning … What do I have left? A few minutes on the exercise bike and a newsletter. Maybe I’ll do the newsletter first, which is how I generally feel about the exercise.

Here’s an ad for the latest novel.

Here’s my hopes

I hope that beginning my year this way will keep me writing this newsletter. I have been struggling with it for a while. I would like it to be a part of my life, and I would like to reach you with it.

Progress On My Books

Lots of changes in a novel

I got my second beta reader’s comments for Gaia’s Hands, and she was very thorough and insightful. This means I have a lot of work ahead of me.

Gaia’s Hands has gone through so many changes before, having started as a claustrophobic novel with an anticlimactic ending, then developing into the reader-ready, tense but beautiful journey.

Now it’s getting brushed up, and closer to reality.

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The updated schedule of releases

My Kringle story of the year, Kringle in the Night, will be released first, on October 1, which I’ve been told is optimal for Christmas releases. That’s the one about the well-traveled Sunshine Rogers, who has found her dream town in Denver, and professor Brent Oberhauser, who’s convinced he needs to move away for his career. Their mutual stubbornness threatens the ruin of their relationship, and it will take love and Santa Magic for them to see the right decision.

Gaia’s Hands will not be released until March 2022. It is not as much fantasy romance but romantic fantasy. Or maybe it’s still fantasy romance. It’s an intense book, the opposite of the Kringle Series In it, Jeanne Beaumont keeps secrets about her “green thumb” which threatens to sabotage her botany experiments. Josh Young wants to share his belief in spirits, which he fears will destroy his budding relationship with Jeanne. When Jeanne faces a worsening set of events geared to drive her from her research, the two join forces with their gifts to face an inferno.

So remember this: Kringle in the Night in October; Gaia’s Hands in March. Both on Amazon Kindle. Just search for my name.

Talking About My Books

The cover blurb (if I get that far) for Gaia’s Hands:

Dr. Jeanne Beaumont’s life has escaped her logical, scientific notions – a seedling in her lab has grown into a monstrous vine, and a man half her age courts her.

Josh Young’s world of spirits and visions informs his writing but isolates him. Then in a vision of his current crush naked in a lush orchard of trees and vines, he realizes he wants more.

As Jeanne and Josh discover each other, pieces fall together: the vine’s lush growth, Josh’s visions, the attacks on Jeanne’s life’s work. What brought them together threatens to push them apart, unless they realize that things don’t have to be logical to be true.


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I’m bad at writing book cover blurbs, and not that great at writing cover letter blurbs. It’s hard for me to find the essential pieces, keep the suspense in place, and communicate the gist of the book in as few words as possible. I’m lucky that this blurb only took two tries (but I thought the first, too long draft was perfect. Go figure.).

I might have learned something from this, however. Don’t repeat, don’t tell the whole story. I need to go over all my cover letters now and see if I can capture what I learned there. Wish me luck.

I see the light at the end of the edit!

I am done with the revision of Gaia’s Hands! I think I finally have it in a place where I like it, although it definitely needs some revision on the revision as any good novel would.

This is momentous, because Gaia’s Hands is the first novel I ever wrote.

To give you some background — I had a dream. And it was a pretty raunchy dream, raunchier than the book finally ended up, but it was also romantic. So I kept interrogating the dream, and particularly its characters, and it kept developing further.

I kept writing excerpts of the dream and its spun gossamer threads, and I kept making my husband read them. (My husband is very patient.) After maybe a half-dozen of these, Richard said, “If you’re going to write all these stories on the same topic, you might as well write a novel.”

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“I can’t write a novel!” I squeaked. “It’s too long! I don’t know how to write plots!”

“Try,” he said.

So I wrote the first draft, and didn’t like it. I then wrote several other drafts, adding voiceovers and deleting them, adding a couple new characters, deleting them, turning it into a novella, giving up on that. and leaving the story in the metaphorical drawer for a while only to start again. Toward the end of the process, I handed it off to a writing coach, who pointed out that there were so many editing errors from having gone through it so many times my eyes bled, She also informed me that Gaia’s Hands was, in fact, a romance novel and I should emphasize that.

This was a revelation. I knew there was a romance involved, but there was also this fantasy element of Jeanne’s talent and Josh’s visions and the build toward a miracle at the end. Primary to the book, however, was Josh and Jeanne’s unorthodox relationship with its age difference.

So I emphasized that romance, not forgetting the fantasy elements, but using the romance as the backbone of the story. Jeanne and Josh, it turns out, make a great couple. They fight and break up in a totally believable style, and come back to each other within a week just as believably. And they make sense as the unprepared wielders of talents that come from — Japanese spirits? Gaia?

I think I’m happy with Gaia’s Hands. I think.

Refining writing

 I can’t motivate to write today. Maybe it’s because I had a long (compressed) work week with my first full days of class and I’m bushed. Maybe it’s because I got up later and am just drinking my coffee. Maybe it’s because there are no cookies in the house. At any rate I’m going to motivate myself to write starting with this blog.

Part of my struggle is wondering whether I’ll ever get published. Self-publishing has taken the edge off my desire to get traditionally published. At the same time, I do want to accomplish getting traditionally published. I just need the drive.

I have writing to do. I need to rewrite/write Gaia’s Hands (the book I most complain about) and edit another older book, Reclaiming the Balance. I would like to write a new one from scratch but I just wrote Kringle in the Night so it’s not time for a new book. It’s time to move out writing, complete writing, refine writing. 

Oh, and just for you, I’m posting Bernie Sanders’ visit to my university:

Layers of story

Sunday. Coffee and classical time. We’re listening to Max Richter, because I have the control of the music. Otherwise the Sunday classical would be Mozart or Beethoven. I am the more exploratory of the two of us, but I’ve actually gotten Richard to tolerate Philip Glass. 

I want to write today. I need some earth-shaking ideas to motivate me. Right now, I’m plowing through potential plot difficulties that require some research and thought. I want to be thinking more fancifully; I feel that’s what I’m missing lately in the book. I’m frustrated with this book, because it’s like the inspiration and development is coming in layers, and I keep having to go back and review and add. 

I thought the romance rewrite of this book was going to be so easy! Gaia’s Hands proves again to be the most difficult thing I’ve ever written and there’s no reason for it to be so.