Liam Livings xx
As promised, here's chapter 1 of The Trouble With Rent Boys over on its very own blog. I'd love to hear what people think in the comments.
Liam Livings xx
Yes, I'm aware it's almost spring, but anyway, here's another lovely 4* review for my uplifting, happily ever after, Christmas novella (that can be read at any time of the year, justsaying...)
Thanks to Sue for the wonderful review, I'm glad you enjoyed it!
When two men decide that their lives can't get any worse and swap houses for Christmas, the lives of four are changed for the better.
Oliver and Kyle both want more out of life and this seemed like a good start.
When Oliver's best friend stumbles in to his house drunk and finds the highly delectable Kyle he decides that a short term fling is better than being lonely.
Over in Miami, Oliver finds himself serenaded by the man coming to audition for Kyle's club.
What started out as a getaway for both men might end up with them finding a totally different way of life.
A book packed with Christmas cheer, lots of fun and just the right amount of angst thrown in.
4 out of 5 stars.
I know it's February. I know this is a Christmas novella, but I've been meaning to blog this lovely review for ages and in fact actually thought I'd already done it. But apparently not!
Although it's set at Christmas, it's basically a life swap gay romance about taking two people away from familiar surroundings to find a whole new life they didn't realise they wanted.
It's inspired by the wonderful film, The Holiday because I love everything about it and I'd always wondered if I could write a life swap gay romance. And then I did, and here it is. My favourite part of the whole review is the last two sentences. They make me smile.
Anyway, here's the lovely review from Ulysses:
One of the best things about being tapped into the LGBTQ writing community is that we get to enjoy holiday specials, just like on TV! I always set aside my Kindle backlog to read Christmas (and Solstice) stories and novellas. The holidays are fraught with all sorts of emotional complications, and it’s lovely to have reading material (other than Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol”) to remind us that we’re all in a similar boat at this time of year.
Liam Livings is a young author whose books I watch for. He has a distinctive voice, and I like that. He writes about the world he knows, and that gives his readers insight into something vividly real. “A New Life for Christmas” takes two young men, one in Miami Beach, one in Lyndhurst, England, and through the miracle of the internet, allows them to trade homes for a Christmas holiday.
Kyle is co-owner of a successful South Beach gay bar and nightclub. He is suffering the aftereffects of an ugly break-up and pondering his inability to form relationships. Oliver, nestled into his prosperous antiques shop on the high street of his small country town, has just been hugely embarrassed by the sudden heterosexual marriage of his friend and neighbor, about whom he had harbored romantic fantasies for years. Both men are looking for something completely different.
The complications begin when Oliver meets Mark, a pianist who has played in Kyle’s club; and Kyle meets Oliver’s best friend Edward. Kyle and Oliver are very different people, but both of them are stuck, hiding behind the familiar in order to avoid emotional pain. What Livings lays out for us (and for the gay readers, it will all feel very familiar, since we’ve all been through it) is no less than the immemorial conflict between life and love; the need for romance battling the practical realities of getting on and keeping one’s routine in order.
What I rather loved about this novella is that the solution is ultimately unveils isn’t remotely tidy or pat. It is romantic, but it is messy and fraught with risk and hinges on Kyle and Oliver’s willingness to trust someone else when their trust has been badly shaken before.
I confess I got rather weepy several times in the story – which is totally appropriate because weeping is a topic that comes up in significant ways in Livings’ narrative. The point is, even after 41 years (as of this New Year’s Eve) and two children, I still remember the emotional traumas of my 20s. I remember the risk of commitment, and the uncertainty of attaching my star to another man’s life. From my current perspective, it all seems fated; but from Kyle, Oliver, Mark and Edward’s viewpoints, not so much.
I love reading about gay vampires and werewolves; I love fantasies with LGBTQ characters and action-packed adventures in which queer people become heroes. But I also love to read about the kind of reality that most fiction in the world today ignores. Liam Livings has a gift for this kind of reality, and I hope he continues writing it for those among us who cherish it.
As promised, I'm blogging a novel in *basically* weekly installments. I have set up a separate blog just for this purpose, so if you want to find out what the book is about and to follow the new blog, check it out here.
It's over at Blogger as The Trouble With Rent Boys by Liam Livings.
Liam Livings xx
4 * review Heat Wave Astoria
I'm delighted to share this lovely 4 star review from Alpha Book Club of my sizzling novella, Heat Wave Astoria.
Was this story only 125 pages? I don’t mean that in a bad way. I was so engrossed with the story, the descriptions and thinking about the movies mentioned in this book that I sat back to enjoy this book. This story takes place in the town of Astoria, Oregon. A place where they celebrate the movies and TV shows that were filmed there. Another place to put on that ever growing bucket list. The plot of this story is about James and Brad. How they met and against both of their natural tendencies form a relationship. Brad is the one night stand, checking off places on a map making his way through the country and the world hooking up with men from far off places. James is here from the UK developing a new operating system for a company based in Portland, Oregon. While spending his weekends in the town that some of his favorite movies were made, he meets Brad. Now both men break into new territory seeing something in the other man making them want to take a chance at love. There is a slow build of chemistry between Brad and James, but you can tell that things are going to start to sizzle. This is a laid back story where you get to enjoy the main characters as well at the town of Astoria and the people that live there. I am always happy when there is a Happy Ever After ending, and this story has a really good one. The back story for Brad is more in-depth than James. I think I would have preferred to learn more about James in this story.
It received the following ratings for various aspects of the story:
Character Development 4*
Why I Wrote A Story Set In Ibiza
I went to Ibiza for the first time in October 2016. I also wrote a story set in Ibiza last year. In fact I wrote about half of the story while I was actually in Ibiza. This was deliberate.
We went to the closing night of Pascha or Amnesia or Spaced, I can't remember which club it was. Anyway it was amazing and below is a sample of some of the more chilled out music they played. Of course it doesn't do the atmosphere justice, but I hope it gives you a little glimpse of what it wast like. Just click on the link to download or play using mediaplayer.
Hope you've enjoyed my little trip back to Ibiza. I can totally understand why BF's best friend went there for a month and is still there, with a boyfriend, apartment and job of his own, three years later.
Love and light,
Liam Livings xx
Writing WIPs update
I thought I'd give a quick summary of where I am in various writing projects.
The book I am ghostwriting for a client is with an editor. It will be published by Easter. I'm so lucky to have been able to do this project and I'm grateful to my RNA friends for passing this client to me. I will be signing up for a ghostwriting online course to top up what I've learned from this project. I loved it. I learned so much. I want to do more of it.
I received my certificate for my MA in creative writing. I'm so pleased that after so long talking about studying creative writing, I finally knuckled down and did it. I received a *commendation* which is great. I can't work out how that fits in terms of grading, but it sounds nice! If anyone can shed any light onto it, do let me know.
Real People Write Books has our second workshop in London on 1 April about characters and conflict. The last workshop on 21 January received an average rating of 9.4/10 and some wonderful comments. I'll write a separate post about that day. There's a early bird discount available at the moment and you can pay in two installments. We take cheque, paypal button and bank transfer for payments. Any questions comment here or email me.
I blogged the feedback from UK Meet 2016, which overall was very positive. Looking forward to working with the team on the 2018 event, but also enjoying having a sabbatical from it this year.
I will be blogging a story in weekly installments, having picked up this idea from @FictionFox author, Catherine Fox at the RNA conference in 2016. It will be on a separate blog from this one - specifically for blogging the story. I'll link it back to here of course. The story is called, The Trouble With Rent Boys and it's a sort of gay Jackie Collins bonk buster about how a rent boy affects the lives of a cast of others living in Chelsea and Essex. It has romantic elements in it but it's not really a pure romance. Readers will either enjoy it or they'll hate it. Whichever way it'll have shared it because it's hiding on my hard drive at the moment and I think it's a fun story so I want to share it. To paraphrase a French and Saunders rip off of Jackie Collins: it has sex, it has lipstick, it has more sex, it has more lipstick, it has rent boys...
I've organised a second budget writing retreat for me and 4 authors. This time we're off to Kent and I'm sure there will be wine, writing and laughter just like last time. It's always so lovely to talk writing with others who really understand what it's like to write a book. I'm pleased that a deluxe caravan between the 4 of us for 3 nights works out at just over £40 per person in total. Of course there's food and transport on top, but for 3 nights of away from the internet writing time with other authors, I think that's very reasonable. My idea for the original budget writing retreat came from a desire to spend time with other authors but not wanting to spend the costs usually associated with a whole week, plus the fact that a whole week would use up some of my annual leave from my day job.
I ran a session at West Essex Writers - the local writing group I now run with Virginia Heath - about dialogue and all the other elements you need around it to make an emotional, engaging story. I used a Penny Jordan book from the eighties. I know some people are very snobby about Mills and Boon books, but when you've only got 50,000 words to play with, you can't have great long descriptions of people musing and staring at the moors, or where the moors would be if you had moors. (That's a Father Ted joke btw.) Like everything to do with writing, I think it's best learned through doing, and examples of real fiction is a good way to learn concepts, rather than making it too academic. (Says he with his MA certificate *rolls eyes*)
I'm working on Ibiza Story at the moment after I received feedback for how it could be made better to suit the publisher I submitted it to. There's a wide range of responses when you submit a book, as I've learned.
My male/female romance novel is with beta readers, ready to have another edit in March for submission shortly afterwards. I've had one set of comments back and it's encouraging. Still work to do, but I don't think I've got the female main character *completely* wrong. More later, as the other beta readers come back to me.
Love and light,
Liam Livings xx
Things that make me happy - hugge
Hugge. I'm sure you've heard of it this Danish concept. It's more than just 'cosy' it's about enjoying the simpler things in life. A Danish woman on a Woman's Hour podcast explained that her family couldn't afford to go away for a holiday so they stayed at home and had a hugge time there instead.
Enjoying home. Enjoying friends and family. Enjoying food. Having a walk. Enjoying being in the moment and not always staring at a screen. I think that's why I prefer a paper book than reading on an e-reader. I don't want to start an argument about which is better. I know it's much more convenient when flying to bring your whole library on one small device. But for me, I prefer the physicality of a paper book.
I heard someone saying that 2017 is going to be the year of low tech. People are going to realise that their lives aren't always made easier by technology because sometimes the tech is ruling you, not the other way around. I'm not talking everyone's going to leave society to live in a wooden hut in the woods. I mean paring back on tech. If I could manage writing with only my Neo, I would, but I need a laptop for blogging, editing etc. I don't have a tablet because my smart phone is *enough* everywhere internet for me.
I went on a writing retreat in Essex and there was no internet for the whole weekend. The wifi was only available in the club house - miles from our caravan. And the 4g signal was non existent on the whole caravan site. I loved it. Others did too, once they'd got used to it.
We're trying to have one or two evenings a week when we switch off the TV an hour early and just sit in the living room with the fire crackling away and we read. It's a wonderful thing to do before sleep. It's very restful and makes you appreciate the hugge simple pleasures of life.
Give it a go! Let me know how you get on!
Linked to my previous post I've quite recently discovered the world of podcasts. I love listening to BBC Woman's Hour during my walks. Discussions about childbirth, female football teams, FGM, Mary Berry interviews, Jo Brand interviews, books, Call The Midwife talk. Love it all. Plus, what the presenters don't know about open questions and interview skills isn't worth knowing. I try to structure any blog interviews imagining I'm discussing it with Jenny or Jane from Woman's Hour.
I also enjoy A Good Read - where people talk about books they've enjoyed. I get a lot of new reading material from there. I love Desert Island Discs too because you get to hear about celebrities in ways you never thought possible.
I love to listen to writing podcasts too - tips about writing, blogging, people's writing journeys, creativity etc. Get a podcast app for your phone and search writing and enjoy!
I sometimes listen to them while baking in the kitchen. It's like having a whole host of interesting people in your home telling you great things.
What do you feel about podcasts?
Love and light,
Liam Livings xx
I thought I'd list a few things that are making me smile at the moment. And so onto walking. Now, as someone who doesn't enjoy sport - I got out of games lessons for the majority of secondary school by having an orthodontist appointment. I needed a lot of work on my teeth, honest! I don't like sport - except diving and rugby to watch, but strictly speaking that's not for the sport itself. I enjoy skiing, but you can't do much of that in London / Essex.
I could swim because there's a swimming pool a short walk from my home. But, as soon as I need to bring equipment and faff with taking out my contact lenses, I know I'm unlikely to bother with the activity.
I love walking. The only equipment it needs is shoes and a coat.
Even when it's freezing cold and I'd much prefer to stay in with my oil-filled radiator in my study, I force myself to leave and walk.
It always improves my mood.
I aim for about 35000 steps a week or about 5000 steps a day, aiming to walk for at least 5 days a week.
Even if you think you hate walking it's surprising how much better it makes you feel by just getting outside and seeing nature around yourself.
Last weekend I didn't walk on Sunday, after a full six days of walking. I thought it was for the best because it was cold, but by the evening I felt really low.
What do you feel about walking?
How does it affect your mood?
Love and light,
Liam Livings xx
Gay romance & gay fiction author