It was great fun revisiting Brad and James and being able to improve the story. I'm so pleased readers are enjoying it too!
I was quite nervous about re-releasing this story. I wrote it in 2015 and it was published as a novella. Since receiving my rights back I was able to add in lots more content because there was no word limit restriction, as previously it was for a submission call with a max word count. In the end I added about 50% extra content, although the story, characters and setting remained the same.
It was great fun revisiting Brad and James and being able to improve the story. I'm so pleased readers are enjoying it too!
You can read the GoodReads reviews here.
If you're looking for some steamy opposites attract romantic fun, be sure to grab yourself a copy on Amazon.
I'm so pleased this is back out in the world. It's a steamy, opposites attract, small town gay romance.
It was originally written and released in 2015 as a novella called Heatwave Astoria. It’s now revised and enhanced as a full-length novel, with 50% extra content. The plot, characters and setting are still the same.
I enjoyed revisiting this story and these characters. As it was written for a submission call with a maximum word count, it was lovely to return to the story and layer in lots of the things I couldn't due to word count restrictions. I ended up adding about 20,000 words.
Here's the blurb:
British software engineer James, clings to carefully made plans in his perfectly unadventurous life. He avoids people-ing at all costs and has no need of a boyfriend. Forced to spend the summer at the Oregon office, his ordered world is thrown upside down.
Awkward in his home-made jacket, and melting in the heat, isn’t how James expects to meet one man tour-guide & player Brad, who’s keen to show James the sites of Astoria. Including his bed.
James's old habits are discarded, his carefully guarded heart opens, as a casual one nighter develops into much more. But James isn’t prepared to find a man who’s as kind and caring outside the bedroom as he’s wanton and inventive inside. Or to start falling in something for Brad, because James must leave at the end of summer.
I'll return to 'the story behind the story' in another post.
Meanwhile, be sure to grab yourself a copy on Amazon.
And isn't that cover perfect?
Love and light,
I'd like to put together a group of splendidly fabulous people who can help me share new book news on social media.
The plan is for me to email volunteers once a week in the run up to a new release with ideas about what I'll be posting about my new book during that week. And then you can share this on whatever social media you'd like. It will only be in the few weeks before a new release. Not all the time!
Who'd like to be one of Liam's Lovely #Lovers too?
Lots of love and light,
I have a new release out today and I thought it would be interesting to talk about the story behind the story.
What was the inspiration behind Wild for You?
One day I was waiting to board a plane with Himself and he’d been reading a newspaper. He mentioned a farm in England where they’d let the land return to nature and were now running a very successful eco-farming, free range meat, and holiday rentals business. I asked what that process was and Himself explained it’s called rewilding. I read the article and it seemed like an interesting setting for a ‘fish out of water’ townie character to try and do himself. This is the article https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/15/the-magical-wilderness-farm-raising-cows-among-the-weeds-at-knepp
Meanwhile, I started following someone on Instagram who I found very attractive. Although I have no interest in bodybuilding, I suddenly found myself wanting to watch this man weight lifting, or jumping up and down. I can’t imagine why… https://www.instagram.com/lexlederman/?hl=en If someone climbed into my head to create the perfect body type and build of a man I would find most attractive, you’d end up with a man who looks like Alex.
So there was that.
And alongside this, I had recently discovered retro category romance novels. A friend had kindly given me a box-full of ones she was looking to get rid of. I even made this picture to show the variety of their covers in a heart shape. Because, in case you didn’t know I am all about the romance!
I started to think about how an author who wrote romance, could find himself with the challenge of rewilding a farm, and being completely clueless. And obviously, the neighbouring farmer would look like the guy in the Instagram link. So my brain immediately clicked to some tropes I love writing: opposites attract, friends to lovers, hurt comfort. And then I had the story!
What was the hardest part to write in Wild for You?
I tend to write little description in my early drafts, adding it in layers as I self edit. But because Wild for You is set in a farm on the outskirts of a small town, I needed to include that from the start. It was almost as if the farm and small town are characters in the story. I think the hardest part to write was the slow burn between the characters. It’s a sort of push and pull between them both being attracted to one another, while becoming friends, alongside their internal conflicts keeping them apart.
I wanted to keep the attraction between them natural feeling, as it grew, while also being something they both resisted. Balancing that was difficult.
I usually ensure my main characters have a friend they can discuss their feelings with. This was easy with Luke as he lives with his sister. However, for William, he’s left his London life behind, so knows no one. Although he is in contact with his late husband’s family, as an ongoing connection to him, he doesn’t want to discuss his feelings for Luke with them. So William is more reflective and quiet, which meant I had to ensure his introspection was balanced with him doing things because long periods of reflection alone can sometimes slow down the pacing.
What were the characters like to write?
As soon as I had their jobs clear and what they looked like, I thought about their conflicts; what internal issues / would from the past, would keep them apart.
I wanted there to be a reason for Luke the farmer to help William the author, so I thought being recently widowed with a mission would make William determined, while also needing some help. William’s biggest conflict about why he can’t be with Luke is the memory of his late husband. William worries it’s too soon, that he should grieve his late husband and by being with someone else he’s somehow denigrating the love he felt.
With Luke, he was clearly going to be the big strong gruff type of man who’d run a farm. Plus I wanted him to be completely opposite to William in terms of interests and appearance bc who doesn’t love an opposites attract romance? Luke, although not shy of attention, but having witnessed his parents’ marriage dissolving before his eyes, he’s thrown his energies into the farm with his love live remaining non-existent. He’s managed this long without a relationship, so why would he want one now?
But William is, at heart, a total, head-over-heels romantic, because he writes and reads all the romance...
What helped you make the decision on how to write the sensual scenes in Wild for You?
I enjoy writing a variety of levels of sensuality. It depends on the story and the characters. Because Wild for You is a slow burn, friends to lovers, I didn’t want to let Luke and William have a quick ‘happy ending’ too soon. I wanted to tease and allow their sensual feelings for each other to grow as their friendship blossomed too. I wanted them to work together help each other. William is grieving, so he’s angry, upset and determined to the point of being a bit blinkered. Luke is cynical about love and relationships, plus a total workaholic who gets his attention from social media likes and comments. But as their friendship grows and they can no longer resist, I felt Luke and William had earned their sensuality together towards the end of the book. I went back and ramped up the heat in these scenes because it felt right, since they’d both been edging themselves and each other for the rest of the story… I hope you enjoy it!
It's available in Kindle Unlimited, so you can read it for free if you have a KU subscription. It's also available to buy as ebook and paperback.
I'm so happy this is now out!
As it's my first historical romance I thought I'd answer some questions about why I've started writing in this different genre of gay romance.
What was the inspiration behind Finding Home?
I watched a soapy Australian TV drama set in the 1950s, called A Place To Call Home. I loved the gentle feel of it. This combined with how difficult it would have been to be gay then made for interesting ‘what if’ questions for me.
What was the hardest part to write in Finding Home?
The relationship between the men while they were in public. Although I’m used to not being too demonstrable in public with my boyfriend, I’ve never known a time when it was actually illegal to be gay. So how did men signal to one another they were that way inclined?
Why was this the first historical romance you’ve written?
I’d always shied away from historical romance because I worried about the research needed. I also enjoy popular culture, so writing something without those modern references felt less like myself. However I realised I could include popular culture references from that time too, which was lots of fun. I also worried that it would be harder to give the men a genuine happy ever after if it was set in a period in the past. Because for me a HEA is critical. I won’t write a story without one since I’m such a romantic at heart. I also used to mistakenly believe that historical romances would feel like a history lesson to read, or have lots of historical detail serving not much purpose to the story. But having read some of my friends’ wonderful historical category romances I found this to absolutely not be the case. The historical setting is a background, the place in which the story happens; the romance, the characters are just as important as in a contemporary romance.
Was it harder to write a historical then you’d previously thought?
There was more research to do. There were issues such as language to ensure the phrases used were appropriate to the characters at the time. It wasn’t as hard as I’d anticipated, but it was certainly more difficult than writing contemporary. With contemporary I rarely do much research – except for the jobs of the characters, or perhaps the setting – so this felt more involved certainly .
What were the characters like to write?
Once I had the vision of each character’s physical appearance in my head, and their job, I worked out their back story. Their back story clarified their emotional wound and therefore their conflicts and issues with a relationship. Layered on top of this was the wider societal issues of being gay when it was illegal. Which was interesting as an external conflict to add to the characters’ journeys.
What helped you make the decision on how to write the sensual scenes in Finding Home?
I always believe a sensual scene should, just like any other scene in a story, move the plot forward, develop the character, or develop the romance. I’ve written a range of sensuality in my stories from complete fade to black, as in a young adult novel, to detailed and at length explicit scenes. For me, it has to feel right for the characters and the story. As the feeling of the story was like a gently dramatic heart-warming TV drama, and being gay was illegal, it felt appropriate to me for the sensual scenes to be private and between the two main characters. Hence I wrote the unresolved sexual tension, the tightening of trousers, the kissing, the emotions, but ended the scenes at that point.
Finding Home - A Sweet Historical Gay Romance
I'm delighted to take part in a week of super bargains for super romance craft books.
Everything from how to write romance, how to write romantic comedy, how to pitch your idea, how to write short fiction for kindle, how to write a commercial novel. Plus my book on marketing for romance authors.
All of these books will be on sale between 10 to 15 March. So if you're umming and aahing, this is the time to grab yourself a bargain.
My book is reduced from £4.99 to 99p for the ebook and I've also cut the paperback price from £10 to a snip at £6.
Here are the buy links:
Nina Harrington - How to Write Short Romancehttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Write-Short-Romance-Kindle-Books-ebook/dp/B00UDP3XBUB00UDP3XBU
Liz Fielding - Little Book of Writing Romancehttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Fieldings-Little-Book-Writing-Romance-ebook/dp/B006YQCE5I/B006YQCE5I
Kate Harrison - Pitch Powerhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Pitch-Power-discover-makes-irresistible-ebook/dp/B081HDC6F3/B081HDC6F3
Liam Livings - Marketing the Romancehttps://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07DW9R6GJ/B07DW9R6GJ
Jane Holland - 21 ways to write a novelhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/21-Ways-Write-Commercial-Novel-ebook/dp/B00TRPN8I0/B00TRPN8I0
R Baxter and J Lovering - How to write Rom Comhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Write-Romantic-Comedy-Rhoda-Baxter-ebook/dp/B07RL6YR7W/B07RL6YR7
Liam Livings xx
Looking back at the list of books I’ve read that I keep at the back of my diary, I’ve read 40 books in 2019. This broke down as follows:
I have lots of 4 and 4.5 star books in my list, but as with previous years I’m only going to mention those I rated as 5 stars.
My Thoughts Exactly – Lily Allen: honest, unapologetic while admitting to her own many and various mistakes, inspirational, raw. I love all of her music and this was wonderful as it helped with context and background to her life while she wrote her albums (all of which I own. Obvs). Splendid.
Next of Kin – Joanna Trollope: an unflinching portrait of a farming family and the complexities within. Far from sugar coating living in the countryside, this shows all the challenges, warts and all. The funeral scene at the start, and a later scene were particularly emotional. But overall, uplifting.
Joshua and the Cowgirl – Sherryl Woods: Financial wizard city slicker man, fish out of water, opposites attract, cowboys, a ranch, a mischievous independent single mother cowgirl. These sort of tropes, I now realise having read may category romances, are completely my jam. And I am so much here for it.
Lace 2 – Shirley Conran: In some ways this was better than the first one. Strong female friendships. People who have it all, lose it all and then get it all back again. Intertwined storylines. Sumptious locations. I loved all. Of. This.
Romancing the Beat – Gwen Hayes: for anyone who’s interested in story structure and the genre expectations of romance – this is a must. Having read Reading The Romance by Janice Radway, which goes into the ‘science’ of why women (it was women who she spoke to in her extensive 80s research) enjoy reading romance – this was a good way to break it down into story beats / scenes. Think of it more like a recipe list, you can expand, contract, mix up a bit, rather than a pre flight checklist and it’s great to ensure your romance stories have all the right ingredients.
A Summer to Remember – Sue Moorcroft: the inhabitants of Nelson’s Bar on the north Norfolk coast were delightful. It made me want to move there – I know Nelson’s Bar is fictitious – but the sense of community, quirky characters, wonderful contrast to the city, were all very alluring. It was lovely to see how my garbled emails with suggestions for the gay couple were useful, in their own story arc.
Girls Behind the Scandalous Reputation – Michelle Condor: wilful rising star actress, buttoned up lawyer. I was SO HERE FOR THIS that it almost hurt!
An Image of You – Liz Fielding: opposites attract of a chauvinistic photographer for ‘those sort of calendars’ and a heroine forced to work with him. Add in camping in the outback and you’ve got it all there for a splendid category romance. Up to Liz’s usual standard.
Hope you had a wonderful year reading whatever books bring you joy,
Love and light,
Liam Livings xx
It’s been a busy year. I’ve returned to self publishing after one novella and one re-release. It felt right for my two Christmas stories because I wanted the flexibility of being able to write them in September October and have them released for November.
I’ve written many words, not in any small part helped by learning to dictate fiction using Dragon.
And lots of meeting supportive, uplifting, kind author friends too!
Thanks to everyone who’s read, reviewed, interacted with me on the socials, published my books, helped me self publish them, helped me with a writing conundrum, or simply lifted me up when I felt down. You’re all splendid people.
Released 6 books – 4 from publishers and 2 I self published and one novella
The Christmas novella is here http://www.liamlivings.com/blog/my-rainbow-advent-calendar-story-plus-one-elf
Writing and self editing ready for submitting / publishing except otherwise listed
Wrote 7 stories including:
Taught myself to dictate fiction using Denise my Dragon and a microphone. Which meant I could write a novel in a week – Four Funerals and A Wedding the experience of that is here, plus links to my other blogs about dictating fiction http://www.liamlivings.com/blog/how-to-write-a-novel-in-a-week-using-dragon-dictation-and-how-i-won-nanowrimo-in-6-days
Started as one of the RNA’s diversity and inclusion officers to work with the rest of the organisation to promote the variety of its members and the romantic fiction they write
RNA New Writers Scheme – read and appraised 4 manuscripts
Did 10 submissions, resulting in rejections, requests for full manuscript, or acceptance
Self edited 2 other stories that had been languishing on my laptop, now ready for submission or publishing – Revenge! Marrying The Boss are their working titles at the moment, but subject to change
Love and light,
Liam Livings xxx
I arrived at my holiday cottage in Suffolk at 2pm and once settled, I took a walk along the beach. Then, getting to work, I outlined my Christmas short story (published as Plus One Elf as part of the Rainbow Advent calendar) and dictated it in 300 mins. This was 6 x 25minute rounds of dictation, ending up with 6602 words.
This felt slow at first because I was getting used to dictation again – having not done it for about 6 weeks. I always feel quite self conscious when dictating, simply because I have to say the words, rather than writing in silence. I left a placeholder for the sensual scene because I definitely couldn’t dictate it. (As it turned out, I never wrote that sensual scene because it didn't feel like the story needed it, I simply started the scene the morning after with all the feels and flirty breakfast together!)
The holiday cottage was made of bricks and the adjoining one was empty, so I soon got over the awkwardness and was dictating well.
If I can aim for 12-14k words per day this week that’s a good target and I’ll be finished by the middle of next week!
Word total today = 6602.
Outline Four Funerals and a Wedding (FFAAW) from 9.00 – 10.00 then do 3 x 50 minute rounds of dictation in the morning. Swapped to 50min rounds because the 25min ones felt too disruptive. When I was just getting into the flow, the alarm would go off. Time for tea, walking around the beach house and brief bursts of internet between rounds of writing.
Break for lunch at 1.30pm, walk along the beach.
Resume writing at 4.00pm and do 3 x 50min rounds. In theory I’ll have won Nanowrimo by Wednesday!
Flag in the last round so have a power nap on the sofa for 20mins.
Word total today = 12,507.
3 x 50min rounds of dictation before lunch, plus some outlining from 9.00am.
Day trip to Lowestoft and manage to track down somewhere selling A5 page per day diaries including weekends! Cup runneth over! Plus treat myself to some coloured ballpoint pens, very easy to write with.
From 4.00 – 7.30pm do 2 more 50min rounds of dictating. It’s getting harder because this is day 3, and I’m tired. Plus, the Sikh funeral scene is hard to write and I’m doubting the whole concept of the story itself. Like who really wants to read a romance with 4 funerals in it? What was I thinking?
Running total on FFAAW = 22,079
Total today = 9,572
Feeling tired when I wake. Obviously doing this much writing is exhausting! What a surprise.
9.00 – 10.45 outline. 2 rounds of 50mins dictation before lunch – reasonably easy and flowing well.
Day trip to Great Yarmouth – deserted, desolate, but nice to get out and exercise.
Back at 5.00pm, a decent 4hour lunch break! Do 2 x 50min rounds of dictation plus 10mins.
Running total on FFAAW = 30,062
Total today = 7,983
Over halfway through the week and I have definitely got myself into a bit of a routine.
Get up at 9.00, tired, so think I deserve a bit of a lie in!
Do 2 x 50min rounds of dictating this morning. Although 12,500 word days are, theoretically possible, with dictation, and there’s no arm and wrist ache, in reality my brain can’t sustain creating that much wordage for more than 1 or 2 days.
4 rounds of dictation = 8,000 words, which feels much more sustainable longer-term.
Day trip to Southwold – free parking on the common is a pleasant surprise. Lovely walk along the promenade by the sea, the beach huts are photogenic. The large Edwardian houses overlooking the sea give me inspiration for Robin’s house in FFAAW. I can imagine him holding a very life-affirming celebration of his late husband's life in one of those houses.
Back at 4ish, 2 more 50min rounds of dictation plus another 15mins. Considering how much else I did today, that’s an impressive total I feel.
Running total on FFAAW = 38,206
Total today = 8,144
Outline 4 extra romance scenes for act 2 – the ‘discovering love’ according to Romancing The Beat. So it’s then not a sudden drop off to the oh sh*t moment. This takes from 9.00 – 10.30am.
2 x 50 min rounds of dictation with a bit of typing for the sensual scene. Tried dictating the sensual scene and it was ok, but faster to type it. This surprised me. Thought it was impossible when I'd tried it before.
Walk along the beach. Bit blustery and light rain, but nicely invigorating. It is November in the UK, so it’s precisely as I’d expected.
Back for 3.00pm ish. 2 x 50min rounds of dictating this afternoon. Easier than previous afternoons for some reason. V pleased with the word total today. Hoping for a 4,000 word ‘discovering love’ phase and a 4,000 word wedding and ending section.
If writing full time, I reckon I could maintain this 8,000 per day pace. Even allowing for promotion and publishing and editing time, that's still a lot of words in a year. 4 days per week and 12 week off for holiday and sickness = 1.3 million words, or about 20 x 65k novels per year!
Even doing this part time it’s still a lot of words.
Dictation is definitely the way to go when I’m writing alone.
Running total on FFAAW = 46,475
Total today = 8,269
Feeling tired this morning. Unsurprisingly, since I’ve been writing hard.
Outline the last 2 scenes from 9.00 – 10.00. Then do 2 x 50min rounds before lunch. It’s flowing well now. These are the in filling romance scenes.
Long walk along the nearby beach – a good hour. Sun and rain means there’s a rainbow, which feel appropriate, since I’m writing a gay romance.
2 more 50min rounds by 4.30pm, then a bit of a rest, doze and internet mimsy on the sofa. Fifth round today is the final scenes, plus another 20mins. Then that’s the wedding. Feel myself getting really emotional writing it.
Really pleased I have genuinely managed to write a novel in a week.
Can move onto self edit of Christmas short tomorrow.
Running total on FFAAW = 57,532 (and won Nanowrimo one day early, having written the book in 6 days)
Total today = 11,057
Last full day of one man writing retreat and it’s very cold in the morning. Perhaps February won’t be a nice month for a UK writing retreat.
1hr 40 self edit of Christmas short, it’s not too bad – hard to get conflict and resolution and happy ending in only 8,000 words, but there you go.
Spend the day with cousin and her family.
Another 1.5hrs self edit of Christmas short before bed.
Although it’s possible to dictate 12-14,000 words in a day, this is hard to sustain for more than 2 days.
Dictating makes 8,000 word days feel effortless, no arm or hand strain and only writing for 200 minutes out of the whole day.
Taking breaks between rounds is important, as is a long lunch away from the writing.
I used the ‘headlights’ outlining method. Rather than outlining the whole story and then writing it, I outlined a beat, wrote that beat, then outlined the next beat, wrote that next part, and repeat. I find this gives variety of writing activities, plus avoids outlining something the characters wouldn’t do when I know them better having written more of them. This is now my preferred method of outlining.
It’s important to outline with a bit more detail than when typing because I need to see the scene clearly before I can dictate it.
The words per hour is lower than the first story I dictated, but I did correct missing words and mistakes as I went along, rather than leaving it until the end. This helped prevent checking weeks later and having no idea what I meant to write when Dragon dictated it incorrectly.
Writing in concentrated rounds helps with focus and provides scheduled guilt free internet, dozing, tea break time, making the rounds stay as focussed writing time.
I wrote FFAAW in 6 days and a total of 29 x 50 min rounds of dictating = 1450 mins which is an average of 2380 words per hour. I’ve seen some Dragon authors saying they’ve reached 5,000 words per hour, and when I first used dictation to write, I had a higher word per hour, however it required lots of editing. So this time, I decided to aim for a more sustainable rate, plus dictate slightly less rough first draft words, hoping it’ll make the first self edit less tedious!
If I add in the Christmas short, (Plus on Elf) that takes my total for the week = 64,134
So in answer to my original challenge, can I write a novel in a week? Yes, it is possible.
My other blogs about getting used to dictating with Dragon (who I called Denise) are here:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 Part 6
I hope this has been useful.
Love and light
Liam Livings xxx
I didn’t use Dragon to edit. I only used Dragon to fix mistakes while I was teaching it, during the dictating of existing fiction phase.
Many people argue that writing using dictation doesn’t gain much because the first draft is so much rougher and therefore takes longer to knock into shape than if it had been typed.
My first drafts are very rough. I don’t tend to fix things as I go through, I prefer to focus on telling the story and worry about the repeated words, the perfect words, typose etc, all later.
I compared the length of time to write and edit to similar length stories, which is laid out below:
Typing 56k words
32 hours of writing + 8hrs of self edit first pass = 40hours
My first self edit focusses on typos, some repeated words, parts that don’t make sense, but no real content edit fixing.
Dictating 56k words
20.5 hours of dictating + 12.7hrs of self edit first past = 33.2hours
Quite a lot of the self edit for the dictation was to add in missing words. Dragon seems to miss quite a few words, particularly if I speak quickly. There were no typos because Dragon doesn’t make spelling mistakes, it’ll only write proper words. There were also lots of homophones to fix such as: their, they’re, there and to / too / two etc. In addition there were some phrases that made no sense at all. So I had to work out what I may have said, or make something up that made sense and write that new. This made the first self edit of dictated words feel much more boring and time consuming. It took almost half as long again as this stage for typing.
Overall, dictating is 17% faster than typing. Another by product is that it’s possible to write much more first draft words in less time, with absolutely no arm and hand strain, unlike when typing. And if you’re writing as a job, five days a week, that’s a big benefit. That led me to my aim to see if I could write a novel in a week, as part of my Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge, but I’ll come onto that in another post.
If you've missed the other parts of this blog series, they're here:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5
Love and light,
Gay romance & gay fiction author