Reading Highlights from 2018

I wasn’t sure whether I was going to write a 2018 Reading Highlights post… but maybe I will, after all. (I’ve just read over last year’s posts and they’re rather a nice record for me!)

I’ll keep this brief, though. Just one post. Probably.

The top three

Only three books got my top ranking (of 9/10) last year. Not sure if this is because I’m getting fussier, but I don’t think so…

I’m not writing reviews, because it’s too long since I’ve read them; but in order of reading, they are:

A Frost of Cares by Amy Rae Durreson

a-frost-of-caresLast year Spindrift, by the same author, was one of my favourites, so this year I served it up to my reading group for discussion. I think most of them liked it, although possibly not as much as me. Anyway, it prompted me to read A Frost of Cares, which is also a ghost story, although unrelated.

This one is about Luke, a military historian, hired to catalogue the archives of the (fictitious) Royal Military School of Medicine, housed in a seventeenth-century country mansion. But soon after settling into the old house, he hears strange noises and begins to suffer from terrible nightmares. Together with Jay, the ex-military caretaker, he tries to understand the mansion’s history in order to face down the angry spirit.

Oh my goodness, I loved A Frost of Cares even more! It’s written from Luke’s perspective some time later, with Jay peering over his shoulder and inserting comments… I seriously adored that device. It’s a lot more spooky than Spindrift too.

Unfortunately it’s not very long (only 138 pages), but there’s a lot packed into it nonetheless. It’s wonderful.

Band Sinister by K.J. Charles

band-sinisterK.J. Charles just keeps on delivering. Everything she writes is fantastic — well written, well researched, well plotted. Band Sinister is more or less an ode to Regency Romances a la Georgette Heyer — so of course I was always going to adore it.

Band Sinister is is about a genteel brother and sister, poor and keeping their heads down because of a family scandal, who come into contact with a notable rake and his house party of atheists. Of course they turn out to be charming, educated, wildly fascinating — and very attractive. Sir Philip (the rake) sets out to seduce Guy (the innocent country gentleman) with… outcomes.

It’s a delightful romp that’s more than mere froth, but keeps things light, romantic and fun.

Kip’s Monster by Harper Fox

kips-monsterHarper Fox is always an auto-buy for me (as is K.J. Charles above). I love her lyrical writing, the strong emotions on the page, the wonderful way she uses setting — in this case a camp for Loch Ness Monster hunters on the shores of Loch Ness. (Not that the individuals in question refer to Nessie as a “monster”.)

I admit I was a little unsure about this one at first… For starters, the title and cover sound and look like it could be a middle grade book. Not the case! I’m so glad I decided to trust in Ms Fox and click away…

Kip’s Monster is about Oz, who has dropped out of his engineering degree to support his grandmother and sister with an admin job, and Kip, the boyfriend Oz also discarded as part of his life reprioritisation when his father abandoned them. But Oz and Kip belong together, even if Kip is battling his own demons and seeking escape on the remote shores of Loch Ness.

There are a few twists and turns and many layers to Kip’s Monster. It’s a deeply emotional book, dealing with themes of parental abandonment, responsibility, and substance abuse in a beautiful way (but it could be a little triggery for some). Like many of Harper Fox’s works it veers a little into the mystical as well. But only a little.

Worthy mentions

In addition to the three mentioned above, I read plenty of other good stuff.

Josh Lanyon (another auto-buy author, who writes crime and mysteries) had several new releases. I’m also still working through Ms Lanyon’s extensive backlist, because they’re all awesome. I re-read several of her books as well. Titles I read for the first time include: Dark Horse, White Knight (two related novellas), Fair Chance (All’s Fair book 3), The Ghost had an Early Check-out, In Other Words… Murder (Holmes and Morarity book 4), The Magician Murders (The Art of Murder Book 3), M/M Mystery and Suspense Box Set (6 Novellas), Murder Takes the High Road, Point Blank: Five Dangerous Ground Novellas. Okay, that’s a lot! Obviously I can’t get enough of Josh Lanyon.

Megan Derr is an author whose books I encountered for the first time last year… Although that’s not strictly true, because I had one on my kindle for a year before I read it. This was The High King’s Golden Tongue (Tales of the High Court – book 1), which I adored. I then inhaled the next two in the series: The Pirate of Fathoms Deep and The Heart of the Lost Star. It might be evident from their titles that they’re fantasy — Huzzah! — albeit still in the M/M romance genre. But there’s plenty of non-romance plot in all three books, and it’s not too grim. There are also interesting things going on with gender roles.

Finally, I’ll just mention that I went on a bit of a Cornwall bender during September and October, in preparation for (and simultaneous with) my visit there. I had a delightful time re-reading some of Harper Fox’s books set in Cornwall — including Driftwood and the first few in the wonderful Tyack and Frayne series. I also dipped into Jay Northcote’s Rainbow Place series, and books by Garrett Leigh, J.L. Merrow and Alex Beecroft in the multi-author Porthkennack series from Dreamspinner Press. It definitely got me into the mood for Cornwall!

I’m going to leave it there for 2018. Apologies to the great books I haven’t mentioned — there were plenty of them.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking with me until the end of the post. I wish you all another fabulous year of wonderful books!

Reading Highlights from 2017 – Part 3 (Final roundup)

It’s time for the third and final post in my 2017 reading highlights. At this point I will explain that for the past couple of years I’ve been keeping a list of all the books I read, assigning them a rank out of 10. So far my top ranking is 9.

Favourites for the year!

A ranking of 9/10 means I adored the book all round — story, writing, characters etc. It means the book resonated with me and I keep thinking about it and will almost certainly re-read, maybe more than once. A 9/10 generally means it is pretty well written, or at least there’s something I love about the writing, although it may not necessarily be perfect from a craft perspective.

In 2017, I rated the following 12 books and series as 9/10:

  • Spindrift — Amy Rae Durreson
  • Stygian — XX (name removed)
  • Spirit — John Inman
  • Spectred Isle (The Green Men book 1) — KJ Charles
  • Sins of the Cities (series of three) — KJ Charles
  • The Community (series of three) — XX (name removed)
  • Wolfsong — TJ Klune
  • Bear, Otter, and the Kid (series of four) — TJ Klune
  • House of Cards — Garrett Leigh
  • Preacher, Prophet, Beast (Tyack & Frayne book 7) — Harper Fox
  • Locked in Silence (Pelican Bay book 1) — Sloane Kennedy
  • Murder in Pastel — Josh Lanyon

The above list will likely explain why I focused on TJ Klune, XX and KJ Charles in my first highlights post, and then spotlighted three “spooky house” stories in my second highlights post.

Here are a few thoughts on the remaining novels in the above list.

house-of-cardsHouse of Cards by Garrett Leigh is one of the multi-author Porthkennack series, which spans both contemporary and historical m/m romances set in the fictitious village of Porthkennack in Cornwall. For starters, I’m instantly attracted to anything set in a Cornish village, and I love all the Garrett Leigh books I’ve read; she writes about broken characters wonderfully well.

Here, a tattoo artist flees a toxic relationship and finds himself staying with a friend (another tattoo artist) in Porthkennack. In addition to the gorgeous setting, it’s all the small details I love: the beloved old-style tattoo machine, the chicken rescue activities, the smuggling(!), the fascinating secondary characters. I’ll be reading this one again soon, so I can dive into the next one by Ms Leigh (Junkyard Heart).

preacher-prophet-beastPreacher, Prophet, Beast by Harper Fox is the seventh in her Tyack and Frayne series. It’s also the only novel-length installment and takes our heroes and their daughter to some interesting and horrifying places, centred as usual around paranormal happenings in Cornwall, and specifically their new family home on Bodmin Moor.

This is a wonderful series that takes Gideon (a policeman) and Lee (a psychic) from their first meeting (in the brilliant Once Upon a Haunted Moor) through dating, marriage, fatherhood… and in this installment they’ve been married for three years. It’s a series (mostly longish novellas) I will re-read over and over again.

locked-in-silenceLocked in Silence is the first in a new series from the extremely prolific Sloane Kennedy. It’s very different in style from her popular Protectors and Barretti Security series — and a level above, I think. This one is more grounded in reality. More poignant, as both men have been wrongfully accused and vilified for different transgressions.

The premise is not earth shattering: a concert violinist returns to his home town broken and in disgrace, only to discover his childhood nemesis suffered a tragedy that broke him and ensured he’s never left… But the journey is layered and complex, with all the feels. I hope Ms Kennedy returns to Pelican Bay soon.

murder-in-pastelFinally, Murder in Pastel is a republication of one of Josh Lanyon’s early works (originally under another pseudonym, apparently). I’m a big fan of Ms Lanyon, whose novels usually revolve around some form of crime to be solved. This one is a whodunnit set in a seaside art colony in California, and involves the usual cast of eccentric characters.

The viewpoint character is a young mystery writer and son of a renowned painter who disappeared a decade ago, along with his masterpiece painting — so, in addition to the person who inevitably gets murdered, there’s a cold case to solve too. It’s kind of timeless, the way it’s written, and it’s probably now one of my favourite Josh Lanyon novels. (The Adrien English series would come first.)

Also worth mentioning

In my personal ranking system, a rating of 8/10 means it’s above average in terms of my enjoyment, and I logged 45 of these. I’m not gonna list them all, but here are some particularly worth mentioning:

  • Hailey Turner’s Metahuman Files is kind of x-men meets military adventure series (3 books)
  • Undaunted by Devin Harnois is a secondary world quest fantasy with vampires and werewolves(!)
  • Anna Butler’s Taking Shield series is excellent award-winning military science fiction set in the far-distant future (4 books so far, more to come)
  • NR Walker’s two-part Imago series is set in Australia with butterflies, her Thomas Elkin series is a three-part May-December romance featuring architects, and Switched is a fabulous standalone novel about a man who discovers he was switched at birth
  • Leta Blake’s Slow Heat is a sophisticated take on the MPreg non-shifter genre (if you can get past the whole MPreg thing)
  • Aqua Follies by Liv Rancourt brings 1950s rock n roll to life in a gritty romance with jazz and synchronised swimming
  • Amelia Faulkner’s incredible Inheritance series features ancient gods and psychic powers in San Diego
  • Silver Scars by Posey Roberts is about two scarred men who meet through a work secondment
  • Renae Kaye’s The Blinding Light set in Western Australia is about a guy who takes on a housekeeping job for a blind man

And that, my friends, is the end of my annual reading highlights. If you’ve made it this far, you’ve been very patient.

If you read in the m/m genre, I hope you’ve found a few interesting ones to try. There are certainly heaps of speculative fiction titles listed — both urban paranormal series, classic science fiction and some fantasy.

Thanks for reading this post! I wish you all another fabulous year of wonderful books.

This post has been edited to remove references to a particular author, who was revealed to be seven shades of unsavoury.

Reading Highlights from 2017 – Part 2 (Spooky House stories)

Three of my favourite individual books from last year were “spooky house” stories. Two were straight up ghost stories — Spirit by John Inman and Spindrift by Amy Rae Durreson. The third was a different kind of paranormal story, although had a similar spooky feel — Stygian by XX (name removed).

Each of these three novels has lingered with me long past finishing, and I will definitely be re-reading them, probably in the very near future.

Interestingly and coincidentally (I think?), all three are published by Dreamspinner Press, where they’re available in all formats of e-book, paperback and audio — I’ve included buy links.

Spindrift – Amy Rae Durreson

spindriftOfficial Blurb:

When lonely artist Siôn Ruston retreats to the seaside village of Rosewick Bay, Yorkshire, to recover from a suicide attempt, he doesn’t expect to encounter any ghosts, let alone the one who appears in his bedroom every morning at dawn. He also doesn’t expect to meet his ghost’s gorgeous, flirty descendant working at the local museum… and the village pub, and as a lifeboat volunteer. But Mattie’s great-great-grandfather isn’t the only specter in Rosewick Bay, and as Siôn and Mattie investigate an ill-fated love affair from a bygone era, they begin a romance of their own, one that will hopefully escape the tragedy Mattie’s ancestor suffered.

But the ghosts aren’t the only ones with secrets, and the things Siôn and Mattie are keeping from each other threaten to tear them apart. And all the while, the dead are biding their time, because the curse of Rosewick Bay has never been broken. If the ghosts are seen on the streets, local tradition foretells a man will drown before the summer’s end.

Seriously, that blurb alone gives me chills of the very best kind. I adore stories set in English villages. I adore everyday people trying to solve mysteries from the past. The characters are distinctive and complex and endearing. The setting is gorgeous. The atmosphere is dark and brooding.

In short, I adore everything about this book. Get it here from Dreamspinner Press.

Spirit – John Inman

spiritThe cover caught my attention with this book — I am a complete sucker for two guys and a kid. And a spooky basement.

Right, so this one is about a guy, Jason, who agrees to babysit his four-year-old nephew, Timmy, for four weeks while his single mum has a holiday with her boyfriend. Turns out that there’s a ghost in his house and Timmy’s presence seems to activate it. Then Timmy’s uncle on his estranged father’s side comes to visit…

There’s a lot more light and humour in this book (compared to the dark and brooding Spindrift), but the mystery is no less intense and the romance between Timmy’s uncles is sweet.

It all blends into another fabulous ghost story / murder mystery that I can’t wait to experience again! Get it here from Dreamspinner Press

Stygian – XX

Content removed.

This post has been edited to remove references to a particular author, who was revealed to be seven shades of unsavoury.

The first post in the Annual Reading Highlights 2017 series looked at three authors I read (and loved) a lot last year:

And there will be more posts to come. Stay tuned!

What I read in November

Here’s my wrap up of books read in November…

One for the money – Janet Evanovich

oneformoneyThis is the mega best-selling first novel in Janet Evanovich’s widely acclaimed Stephanie Plum crime series, which is now up to book #21 or something… I’ve been intrigued to read it for a while, and was thrilled when one of my reading group friends selected it for us to read this year.

Pestered by her close New Jersey family, Stephanie Plum offers to catch high-school crush Joe Morelli, cop turned bail jumper, for her cousin Vinnie’s company. She questions “working girls” to find the missing girlfriend of vicious prizefighter Benito Ramirez while Joe secretly watches her back. Ranger mentors her and supplies vehicles when hers explode. – Goodreads

I enjoyed it some. It’s a fast-paced and snappy read about a young woman who loses her job and becomes a bounty hunter. She’s woefully under qualified, inept, headstrong, impulsive, dogged and (in my opinion) stupid. And since I’m not a huge fan of stupid protagonists, this did slightly mar my enjoyment.

Counterpoint and Crescendo – Rachel Haimowitz (Song of the Fallen)

counterpoint_origI came across this high-fantasy duet by accident, initially attracted by the covers and then curiosity and positive reviews. The series is set in a secondary world in which humans and elves have been mortal enemies for 300 years.

In Counterpoint, Ayden (a ranger elf) becomes the prisoner of Prince Freyrik (human), who is struggling to protect his people from assault by rabid and magically altered animals (ferals or darkers). The book is a love story at heart, with the two men having to overcome a bunch of stuff… I confess I wasn’t too comfortable with the whole ‘Stockholm syndrome’ thing happening here — although by protecting and favouring Ayden, Freyrik jeopardises his own position with his king and does have to make difficult decisions. But while Freyrik’s choices are moral, poor Ayden undergoes a great deal more, both physical and psychological. Having said that, the author does do a fairly good job of establishing an almost equal relationship by the end of the book, and I felt it worked.

The two main characters are well drawn and the fantasy world feels solid — although it’s all fairly familiar and doesn’t span far beyond forest, castle and villages. It’s a character piece primarily, featuring an overall story arc about fighting off the ferals, in which Ayden plays a key role. It’s a good read, but rather long… although it probably needs to be long for the gradual growth of the relationship. Anyhow, it ends with a cliffhanger, so one does need to move on to book #2.

Crescendo is a very different book and, while still character driven, has a lot more plot. Freyrik is hauled to the capital city for an unofficial disciplining for his lenient treatment of Ayden, and Ayden has his magic silenced. The two spend a lot of time apart (despite the fact they share quarters) — neither has much control over his respective situation. Freyrik finds himself embroiled in political machinations and more moral dilemmas and bad choices. Ayden has to deal with his own plight and that of all the other enslaved elves. Their love and trust in each other is what keeps them going… Again, Ayden in captivity suffers a great deal at the hands of merciless humans, which makes the book somewhat harrowing (yeah, I’m pathetic like that). But by the end, they’ve figured out what is causing the ferals to keep attacking humanity and all ends well.

As a pair of fantasy novels they work rather well.

SPECTR series – Jordan L. Hawk

hunterThis is a series of six urban paranormal fantasy novellas about Caleb (barista, artist, vegetarian and TK) who manages to get himself possessed by a Drakul (who takes the name of Gray), an entity who devours the etheric energy of demons. And John, an agent and exorcist with a paranormal-FBI-like group called SPECTR.

The first novella (Hunter of Demons) sets everything up. Caleb needs John to exorcise Gray, but the Drakul is too strong; moreover, they only have so many days (I forget how many) to figure out how to do it before the possession becomes permanent. Meanwhile though, Gray doesn’t seem to be a threat to humans, so he and Caleb reach an accord, with Gray manifesting when required to slay ghouls and other demons. He also imparts greater strength and psychic abilities to Caleb as the two cohabit the one body. They can converse with each other, although Gray isn’t much of a conversationalist. It’s pretty cool.

EaterOfLives_200x300And then there’s John, who falls in love with Caleb and ultimately Gray as well. And vice versa. It’s an interesting love triangle, and I expected Caleb to feel jealous of Gray, but he says at one point that he could never be jealous of someone who loves him so unconditionally.

The novellas progress through several episodes of demon infestations in need of solving, and then arc into conspiracy, espionage and revolution. The ultimate climax is grand in scale indeed, and the outcome doesn’t feel like a foregone conclusion — which in this type of series, heavily founded on the love story, is something of a feat.

I’m growing rather fond of the novella length, which I can read in a single evening, especially when I can line them up one after the other. Having said that, numbers 4-6 in this series do not really resolve individually and are more like parts of the same story; so I’m glad I wasn’t waiting for them to be published. You can purchase them in e-book omnibus (SPECTR 2), which I would recommend doing.

I do rather like the paranormal urban fantasy world Hawk has set up. Basically the demon spirits possess humans and make them do bad stuff — but if the SPECTR exorcists catch them in time, the humans can be saved. It’s a pretty simple concept, but works really well.

Fair Play – Josh Lanyon

This is the sequel to Fair Game (All’s Fair), which I read in September. Set in the Seattle area, Fair Play is about Elliot (former FBI agent, now college history professor) trying to solve the mystery of his father’s activist past (and voluntary disappearance) after someone burns down his father’s house. There’s a Cold Case involved. There is also a lover in the form of current FBI agent, Tucker, who alternately tries to persuade Elliot to stop investigating OR assists by providing resources, intel and backup. It’s a pretty good little family and political mystery, really.

And that’s it for another month. Finished listening to Persuasion (Jane Austen) in the car, a lovely driving experience. I’m now listening to The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton.

I’m not going to continue these monthly reading posts next year. They’re getting a bit long. I honestly did not expect to read so much. Instead I will try to write short, regular posts as I finish each book… One more month to go!

Why I write – 5 reasons from Liv Rancourt

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!!


Excerpt from The Santa Drag
by Liv Rancourt
The Santa Drag2

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? 😉

The Santa Drag is available from Still Moments Publishing, Smashwords, and Amazon.

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 (, on Facebook (, or on Twitter (


Thanks for hanging out here, Liv, and sharing with us your deepest thoughts and an excerpt from The Santa Drag.

foreverandeveramen_LRIs it also OK to mention your forthcoming publication under the Crimson Romance label — Forever and Ever, Amen — ?? Can we get excited for you??

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!