Things I have to be Thankful for…

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Chez Rancourt, November 2015

So I grabbed the Thanksgiving week post because there’s a fair amount of activity going on in my writing life, but before I get to all that, I wanted to say – in public – how incredibly thankful I am for what my husband has accomplished. He’s a contractor, and after 17 years of living with a time-capsule 1940s kitchen, we have a new one!! A couple of the cabinets still need doors and there’s a little gingerbread still to be applied, but ready or not, we’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner this week. And I am SO EXCITED!!

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Range, or command post?

Photography has never been a particular skill of mine, but I hope you get the idea…lol…

I’m thankful for my new kitchen, and for the continued health of my husband and kids. I’m thankful that the puppy almost always pees outside, and that we’ve brokered a truce with the elderly cat who cannot abide the puppy. I’m thankful for my circle of friends, who always have my back, and I’m thankful for all the fantastic writers I know who read and critique and promote my work.

And I’m thankful for readers, because without you…well…

As I said earlier, things are going to be hopping for the next week or so. First up, my m/m novella The Secret of Obedience

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Release date 11/27/15

I’m running a refflecopter giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift card. Jump HERE if you want to enter…and jump HERE to preorder.

Blurb

Opposites attract, but secrets divide…

Ronnie Durand is a country boy who transfers to the University of Washington after two years at Central. He’ll have to give up playing football, though finishing his education at a major university in Seattle–and being out and proud without having to look over his shoulder–makes the sacrifice worthwhile.

But finding friends at a huge school is tough, especially when the hottest guy Ronnie meets makes him doubt his own sanity.

Sang’s been on his own a long time. He’s only a couple steps away from living on the street, and he’s got dreams so big they don’t leave space for a steady boyfriend. Then he meets Ronnie, who just might be strong enough to break through his barriers….as long as Sang lets him in on one big secret.

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Release date 11/29/15
My second release this weekend is Home for the Holidays, an m/m anthology with stories by me, Jenna Kendrick, SJ Himes, Heather C Leigh, and Felice Stevens. All the money raised by this project will be donated to the Ali Forney Center, an organization that supports homeless LGBTQ youth in New York City. The preorders have been going well, so jump HERE to get a copy for yourself.
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And THEN, because there’s not enough going on with two releases, King Stud will be on sale for $1.99 ALL NEXT WEEK (11/30 – 12/4). Bookmark this one, because it’s a great deal. Jump HERE for the Amazon page.

Blurb

Danielle’s got three months to make her grandmother’s rundown Craftsman house livable. Her game plan is to get in, get grubby, and get back home to L.A. She needs a carpenter, and her best friend’s younger brother is a good one. It’s hard to ignore the buffed body under Ryan’s paint-splattered sweatshirts, but her friend declares he’s off-limits so Danielle reluctantly agrees.

Ryan doesn’t have the cleanest record, anyway. His recently ex-ed girlfriend wants him back, and he has a reputation for brawling. He’s also had a crush on Danielle since he was a kid. Despite their nine-year age difference, he knows she’s worth pursuing.

Soon the paint under Danielle’s fingernails starts feeling more natural than the L.A. sunshine. She’ll have to navigate plumbing disasters, money problems, and one seriously cranky best friend to find something she hasn’t had before: a real home, and a man who loves her.

 

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And finally, my  holiday short story The Santa Drag will be FREE this weekend, 11/27 – 11/30. Bookmark this one too, because FREE!! Jump HERE for the book’s Amazon page.

Blurb

Things aren’t always what they seem, and this shopping mall Santa has a secret that only true love can reveal.

Mackenzie’s an out-of-work actress who takes a job as a shopping mall Santa to pay the rent. She fools everyone with her Santa drag, until the day Joe McBride walks into the mall. Joseph Timothy McBride – the real-life, got a soap opera gig and you saw him in Scream II actor. The only guy she ever really loved. Can Mack stay in character, or is it time to strip off the red coat and peel off the beard for good?

There’s lots going on, and this post got kinda long. Thanks so much for hanging in with me, and I hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving! Before I go I want to give a quick shout-out to Shauna Granger, who keeps all of us SpellboundScribes on track with the schedule and the occasional timely reminder. Thanks Shauna!!! And now, I’m off to start cooking…

Cheers!

Liv

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On Gratitude, and Giving Back

free-thanksgiving-wallpaper-06I know I’m a week early for a Thanksgiving-themed post, but the past few days have had me thinking a lot about what gratitude means to me, in a world so full of cruelty, violence, and sadness.

Let me first just say: Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. There is food and family and friends. There is pie and wine and binge-eating and carb-loading. There is music and laughter and impromptu games of touch football and chilly walks in the woods. These are all things I love. But sometimes I wonder if all the food and fun doesn’t distract us from what Thanksgiving is about.

I’m not really talking about Pilgrims and Native Americans (although I recently learned that the First Thanksgiving probably featured eel as a main course…Yum?). I’m talking about being grateful for the things we busy, self-absorbed, attention-challenged First-World human beings rarely take the time to think about, let along express our gratitude for. In 1621, a feast was held to celebrate a good harvest and the sharing of knowledge between two disparate people. These days, what does the feast stand for? Does gorging ourselves on stuffing and pie really express our gratitude for all the things we own and the people we love and the lives we experience?

I know that I do not give thanks for my life often enough. It is too easy to look at my life and think about the things I don’t have, or the things I have not yet accomplished. To rue the mistakes I’ve made, without celebrating the good things I have done. To fear an uncertain future instead of looking forward to a future teeming with opportunity. But I have so much to be grateful for. The basics: my health, physical and mental; a pantry full of food; a roof over my head. And then the not-so-basics: family and friends who love me; a passion for my career; a great marriage. My life is so full of wonderful things, and in this huge, complicated, violent world, so many people have barely a fraction of what I have.

Next week, while we Americans are all feasting and celebrating, there will still be Syrian refugees asleep in European train stations, not knowing where their next meals will come from, let alone when they will have a place to call home again. There will still be Beirutis and Parisians and Nigerians mourning the aftermaths of bombings spurred by hatred. There will still be homeless American veterans wracked with mental illness unable to get the support they deserve. Humans without food. Humans without shelter. Humans suffering.

This is our world. It is ugly. It is beautiful beyond words. It is ours.

Ours.

I don’t intend this post to take away anyone’s joy or pleasure in good times with family and friends. Thanksgiving begins the holiday season, a wonderful time bright with twinkling lights and warm with cheer and laughter. But as we feast at our plentiful tables and sip our eggnog and unwrap our presents, perhaps we can also find the time to be truly grateful. Grateful for our families and our wealth, be that material or immaterial. Grateful to be alive, here in our wonderful, terrible, imperfect world.

And maybe we can also find it within ourselves to give back to this world. To foster peace in our communities. To treat our fellow humans with love and respect. To help the needy. To feed the hungry. And to remember, most importantly, that we’re all in this together.

If you have spare time, money, clothes or food, consider donating them to those with less to be grateful for this holiday season. If you’re not sure where to start, visit Charity Navigator or Volunteer Match for ideas about ways you can give back.

Returning Strength to the Character of Guinevere

daughter-of-destiny-ebook-cover-iAs many of you know, I made the decision back in August to self-publish the four books I’ve written to date. I’m glad to report that three months later I’m happier than I’ve ever been and am having a ball with the process.

I just got my cover yesterday, so I wanted to share it with you here and let you know a little about the book. Yes, it’s shameless self promotion, but that’s how new authors get exposure, right?

One thing I do want to note is that in setting out to write this trilogy 16-odd years ago, I had one major focus in mind: to rescue the character of Guinevere from the docile, blonde-haired, blue-eyed victim she’d become in popular culture (especially in the Mists of Avalon, but in other works as well).

I think you can see from the cover (she’s got dark hair, if nothing else) that I’ve given her some serious agency, not to mention mystical Avalonian powers. My Guinevere begins the book as a scared young girl and ends it as a future queen who is following a fate decreed by the gods. In essence, the trilogy unfolds as Guinevere moves through three phases of life: priestess (book 1), queen (book 2) and warrior (book 3). I didn’t intend that, it just happened. But every step of the way, she is fighting for her rights as a Celtic woman – something I think readers, especially women, will be able to relate to even 1,500 years later (and Celtic women were strong, so that part is historically accurate).

Here’s the back cover copy:

Before queenship and Camelot, Guinevere was a priestess of Avalon. She loved another before Arthur, a warrior who would one day betray her.

In the war-torn world of late fifth century Britain, young Guinevere faces a choice: stay with her family to defend her home at Northgallis from the Irish, or go to Avalon to seek help for the horrific visions that haunt her. The Sight calls her to Avalon, where she meets Morgan, a woman of questionable parentage who is destined to become her rival. As Guinevere matures to womanhood, she gains the powers of a priestess, and falls in love with a man who will be both her deepest love and her greatest mistake.

Just when Guinevere is able to envision a future in Avalon, tragedy forces her back home, into a world she barely recognizes, one in which her pagan faith, outspokenness, and proficiency in the magical and military arts are liabilities. When a chance reunion with her lover leads to disaster, she is cast out of Northgallis and into an uncertain future. As a new High King comes to power, Guinevere must navigate a world of political intrigue where unmarried women are valuable commodities and seemingly innocent actions can have life-altering consequences.

You may think you know the story of Guinevere, but you’ve never heard it like this: in her own words. Listen and you will hear the true story of Camelot and its queen.

Fans of Arthurian legend and the Mists of Avalon will love Daughter of Destiny, the first book in a historical fantasy trilogy that gives Guinevere back her voice and traces her life from an uncertain eleven year old girl to a wise queen in her fifth decade of life.

And the prologue:

I am Guinevere.

I was once a queen, a lover, a wife, a mother, a priestess, and a friend. But all those roles are lost to me now; to history, I am simply a seductress, a misbegotten woman set astray by the evils of lust.

This is the image painted of me by subsequent generations, a story retold thousands of times. Yet, not one of those stories is correct. They were not there; they did not see through my eyes or feel my pain. My laughter was lost to them in the pages of history.

I made the mistake of allowing the bards to write my song. Events become muddled as ink touches paper, and truth becomes malleable as wax under a flame. Good men are relegated to the pages of inequity, without even an honest epitaph to mark their graves.

Arthur and I were human, no more, no less, though people choose to see it differently. We loved, we argued, we struggled, all in the name of a dream, a dream never to be fulfilled. Camelot is what fed the fires that stirred us to do as we did. History calls it sin, but we simply called it life.

The complexity of living has a way of shielding one’s eyes from the implications of one’s role. That is left for others to flesh out, and they so often manipulate it to suit their own needs. To those god-awful religious, I have become a whore; Arthur the victim of a fallen Eve; Morgan, a satanic faerie sent to lead us all astray. To the royalty, we have become symbols of the dreams they failed to create and Arthur is the hero of a nation, whereas to me, he was simply a man. To the poor, we are but a legend, never flesh and blood, a haunting story to be retold in times of tribulation, if only to inspire the will to survive.

We were so much more than mute skeletons doomed to an eternity in dust and confusion. We were people with a desire for life, a life of peace that would be our downfall. Why no one can look back through the years and recognize the human frailty beneath our actions, I will never understand. Some say grace formed my path; others call it a curse. Whatever it was, I deserve to be able to bear witness before being condemned by men who never saw my face.

It ends now. I will take back my voice and speak the truth of what happened. So shall the lies be revealed and Camelot’s former glory restored. Grieve with me, grieve for me, but do not believe the lies which time would sell. All I ask is that mankind listen to my words, and then judge me on their merit.

Ready to read more? All you have to do is sign up for my quarterly newsletter and you’ll get the prologue and first chapter for free.

Want to pre-order on Kindle? You can do that here.

Waiting for another ebook format, paperback or audio book (voiced by Hollywood actress Serena Scott Thomas)? Those will be available January 1, 2016. But you can still mark Daughter of Destiny as “want to read”on Goodreads.

So what do you think? What do you want to know? I’m open to any and all questions (but I won’t give away the ending!)

#NaNoWriMo~~ I’ve joined the masses again!

It’s that time again. NOVEMBER!! The madness that is and NaNoWriMo. For some it’s scary for others it’s a thrill. Then there are those of use who fall somewhere in between. I’ve done Nano a few times. I’ve one once and the other times come pretty close.

This is my first year back after taking a break. Honestly, I’ve taken a bit of a break from writing in general. Now it’s time to get back in the swing of things and Nano is the perfect way for me to do this.

For now we’re going to not mention (okay I’m saying it now) that I’m behind already. BUT….I’m excited to sit down and do some mega wordage days. That’s why Nano was the choice for me.

To add to my excitement this year’s Nano novel is a shifter book. After taking a brief hiatus of sorts, I’m ready to refresh and start anew. A lot of changes have happened this year, and I feel like I need to try something different.

If you’re doing Nano this year, tell us why you joined the masses. Do you have any tips to win?

I’ll be around Twitter doing #1k1hr so I can get this done and rock out the month!!