Paranormal and/or Romance author Liv Rancourt is my guest today and I like her post so much I think I’ll follow up next week with one of my own on the same topic. She’s addressing a question I ask myself frequently… Why do I write?
She’s also included an excerpt at the bottom from her recently published short story, The Santa Drag. I hope you enjoy and consider checking out her story.
Take it away, Liv!
First I want to say thanks, Ellen, for the chance to do a guest post for your blog, and for your patience with my somewhat flexible deadline…
Why I write
In a recent blog post, Veronica Sicoe articulates the five things she wants to do with her writing. (Jump HERE for her post.) It’s a very thoughtful piece, and as I read it I thought, “Wow, I’m not sure I could come up with a similar five things if I wanted to.”
So of course, I decided to try.
With just a hint of a drum-roll, here are the five things I want my writing to accomplish. Assuming I can come up with five, that is…
1. I want to write smart…
…because I believe if you write smart, you’ll make people think. While I know not everyone wants to grapple with IDEAS when they read – some people watch reality TV, too – I’m talking about little thoughts, more of the, “Wow, that’s sort of interesting,” scope. IDEAS belong to angst-ridden twenty-somethings, anyway. If I can gently prod someone into looking at things in a slightly different way, then I’ve done my job.
2. I want to write funny…
…because a spoon full of sugar helps…well, you know. Laughter is the lubricant that keeps the grinding gears of life turning. Wow. Deep. Did I just say that? I laugh at myself and, affectionately, at my characters. Life is strange. Enjoy it.
3. I want a place for all my previous obsessions to hang out.
I’m a neonatal nurse and for awhile I compulsively searched eBay looking for the perfect mid-century china and I can design and execute some pretty esoteric needlework patterns and I love singing Gregorian chant. And some, if not all, of that has turned up in my fiction, and will likely continue to do so. It saves on research time if you’ve already lived it.
4. I want to tell the truth, as I see it.
And I’ve had fifty years to experience it, so in theory at least I should have a handle on it. I don’t care how crazy your plot line is, if there’s not a substrate of truth in how the characters respond, then your readers won’t have as much fun reading it, and you can write clever dialogue till the cows come home, but if your reader can’t imagine anyone actually SAYING it, then you’ve lost them. It’s like peeling an apple. I throw down a bunch of ideas, then try to peel the B.S. away until only the good stuff is left.
5. I want to entertain readers…
…to surprise them, and most importantly, to make them set the book down with a warmer heart, no matter how gritty the subject matter is. In my books, the good guys win. Just wish real life was more like that…
And that, my friends, is what I want to do with my writing. I can’t say I’m 100% successful, but these are worthy goals. What about you? What do you want to accomplish with your writing?
Thanks again, Ellen! Happy Holidays!!
So the only paying gig Mackenzie can find is playing Santa in the Mall…
On a particularly busy Saturday, I was tired and thinking more about a double shot of espresso than I was about the pile of kids who wanted to sit in my lap. The weak winter sun was making its circle over the atrium where the Christmas Village was set up, and my roommate Shauna was buzzing by every so often to giggle at me from the sidelines. She was trying to get all of her Christmas shopping done in one day, which was a good trick for someone with as many fertile brothers and sisters as she had.
“Come sit on Santa’s lap.” Maya, the photographer and kid-wrangler, invited the next kid in line approach my golden throne. Well, it was fake gold, but the kids didn’t know that.
“No,” said a little girl with a stubborn crease between her brows. She was dressed in Seattle’s version of Christmas formal, a stiff, red velvet dress, likely made from organic fabric dyed with beets and rose hips. On her feet were two-toned leather MaryJanes that probably cost sixty-five dollars. At least the green corkscrew ribbons tied around her blond pigtails looked like they belonged on a child. I made myself as approachable as possible, getting down to her level and producing a big smile.
“Come on, Thula,” her mother said, tapping one French manicured nail on her cell phone. “Go sit up there with Santa so we can take your picture.” She sounded as if this was just one more thing to knock off the list.
“It’s okay, sweetie.” Maya put on her encouraging smile. Maya was a tiny thing, barely bigger than most of the kids we saw, with long dark hair, a tiny gold hoop pierced through one nostril, and bugged-out eyes that looked like they’d been molded out of chocolate. She was non-threatening as an adult could possibly be. The kid stared at her and bit down on her bottom lip. At least she wasn’t crying. Yet.
“You want to come tell Santa what to bring you for Christmas?” I kept my voice pitched down somewhere under my sternum. It helped that I had one of those raspy lady voices that earned me a permanent spot in the tenor section whenever I sang in choir.
Sometimes less is more when you’re dealing with preschoolers. We went back and forth for several minutes until the kid went from biting her bottom lip to letting it pooch out and tremble. Never a good sign. Finally, after a ton of coaxing, she was more-or-less close to me, squatting down on the other side of one of the big pretend presents that ringed my throne. That was good enough for her mom, and Maya snapped a picture.
When she was done, the little girl glared at me from behind the big, glossy red ribbon that topped the present. “Bring me a baby brother,” she bellowed and took off running.
Mom’s glare was meaner than the kid’s had been. Hey, it’s not like I made any promises.
The kid ran full tilt past the pseudo-Tyrolean houses that made the Village, and out through the crowds of shoppers. She stopped in the middle of an open space and cut loose, her sobs echoing around the smoky glass dome that covered us. We could hear her carrying on until she and her mom got swallowed up by the Ross store at the end of the north hallway. The whole place fell into a bit of a hush when she was gone, as everyone exhaled in relief. This close to Christmas, none of us needed a crying child to ratchet up the stress level.
A young mother was next in line. She came into the Christmas Village and positioned a slightly damp baby on my lap, moving as if something hurt. The baby was so young that Mom still looked a little pregnant under her loose denim-blue shirt. Or maybe she was already pregnant with number two. I’m not so good with the principles of baby production. Well, I understand the basic concepts, but haven’t had that many opportunities to put them into practice.
The brief quiet was interrupted by a yodeling squeal that I recognized. I stared into the crowd until I caught Maya looking at me funny. I stuck on a smile as close to my normal, jolly-Santa shtick as I could get, and she settled back down behind her camera. The reason for my roommate Shauna’s squeal had me completely rattled. In the two or three beats I’d looked out from behind my wire-rimmed glasses as Mack-the-girl, I’d seen Shauna giving someone a big hug. A really handsome someone. Joe McBride. Joseph Timothy McBride. The actor. The real-life, got a soap opera gig and several commercials and you saw him in Scream 2 actor. The only guy I ever really loved.
Ooh, now she’s got a problem! Will Mack turn all Creepy-Kringle? Will Joe recognize her? What’s a Santa to do?
About Liv Rancourt
Liv Rancourt writes paranormal and romance, often at the same time. She lives with her husband, two teenagers, two cats and one wayward puppy. She likes to create stories that have happy endings, and finds it is a good way to balance her other job in the neonatal intensive care unit. Liv can be found on-line at her website & blog (www.livrancourt.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/liv.rancourt), or on Twitter (www.twitter.com/LivRancourt).
Thanks for hanging out here, Liv, and sharing with us your deepest thoughts and an excerpt from The Santa Drag.
To reiterate Liv’s questions (to writers) at the end of her post: What about you? What do you want to accomplish with your writing? Please do leave us a comment!
As mentioned, I intend to follow up with a similar post on ‘Why I write’ next week, and I hope other writers reading this will feel inspired to do likewise!