Thursday, June 8, 2017

Promo Post: Aqua Follies by Liv Rancourt (Guest Post+Giveaway)

Aqua Follies
by Liv Rancourt


The 1950s. Postwar exuberance. Conformity. Rock and roll.


Russell tells himself he’ll marry Susie because it’s the right thing to do. His summer job coaching her water ballet team will give him plenty of opportunity to give her a ring. But on the team’s trip to the annual Aqua Follies, the joyful glide of a trumpet player’s solo hits Russell like a torpedo, blowing apart his carefully constructed plans.

From the orchestra pit, Skip watches Poseidon’s younger brother stalk along the pool deck. It never hurts to smile at a man. Once the last note has been played, Skip gives it a shot. The tenuous connection forged by a simple smile leads to events that dismantle both their lives. Has the damage been done, or can they pick up the pieces together?

Add Aqua Follies to Goodreads!

Release Date: June 15, 2017

Inspiration for Aqua Follies…

Where does the inspiration for any story come from? Especially a story set in the 1950s? I’m not exactly sure, but I can describe the initial steps that went into Aqua Follies creation, and maybe you can judge for yourself what inspired me.

A while ago I saw a call for submissions for an anthology of stories set in the 1950s. The idea appealed to me, but to begin with I knew more about what I didn’t want than what I wanted the story to be. I didn’t want it to be a Happy Days rehash. Do you remember Happy Days, the ‘70s comedy series starring Ron Howard and Henry Winkler? I figured Happy Days bore as much resemblance to the real ‘50s as That ‘70s Show resembled the real ‘70s.
(So, not a lot, really. I survived the ‘70s. I remember.)

While I was fishing for the story, I happened to mention the call to a friend of mine, Paula Becker. She’s a historian, and at the time she was working on a book about Seattle’s 1962 World’s Fair. She asked me if I knew anything about the Aqua Follies, saying it might be fun to see if I could work a story around the annual event.

Since I was otherwise coming up with crickets, I decided to look into the Follies, and was pretty much immediately hooked. The Aqua Follies were held on Seattle’s Green Lake every summer from 1950 till about 1962, as part of the city’s Seafair celebration. There were synchronized swimmers (think Esther Williams movies from the ‘50s and ‘60s), dancing girls, Olympic divers, and a live band, all on stage at Green Lake’s Aqua Theater (jump HERE to see the theater and some fabulous program art).

I really, really wish I could have seen it for myself.

I started poking around, looking for information on the Follies. One of the first things I learned was that the swimmers and dancers – the Aqua Dears and the Aqua Darlings – were based in Minneapolis and traveled to Seattle for the event. Voila! A trope! The old vacation love story thing. With that in hand, I started to write…

And stalled out almost immediately. My initial idea just didn’t gel. I though one of the swimmers fell in love with Skip, the trumpet player in the band, but the words wouldn’t come. Then one morning, lying in bed in that middle ground between asleep & awake (which is where some of my best ideas happen), I figured things out. Really, it was the swimmer’s coach who falls in love.

Fortunately for the coach, Russell, his infatuation is returned.

Once I had the two leads, Skip & Russell, the rest came together. I can’t say it was easy, because it was a process of writing and rewriting and rewriting again, but I’m really pretty thrilled with the finished story. My vision was definitely influenced by the colorful, stylized art used to promote the Follies back in the day, and I did my best to create characters who rang true to the time – and weren’t just Richie Cunningham clones. 

For more on my visual inspiration, jump HERE for the Pinterest board I made for the story.

From now until the release day on 6/15/17, you can preorder Aqua Follies for only $0.99 at Amazon! The price goes up after the 15th

Now, keep reading for an excerpt, and make sure you enter the giveaway my writing partner Irene Preston and I are running for a $25 gift card.

Thanks so much!!


The days passed in a blur of calisthenics and choreography, trips to the laundromat for clean shirts and stilted newspaper photo shoots. Russell spent the shows trying not to make calf’s eyes at the orchestra pit, and Skip disappeared every night without taking him up on his offer for a drink. By Sunday, Russell concluded that his attempted apology hadn’t worked. The memory of Skip’s mouth pressed warm against his lips, the taste of whiskey, and the scratch of whiskers against his chin made the rejection more painful.

Wednesday was closing night. One more show. Their train would leave the next afternoon. Russell marched along the deck like a robot, barking commands at the girls during their warm-up, barely watching their routines. The muggy heat never broke, and before intermission, sweat plastered his button-down shirt to his skin.

Russell had the girls work through some figures. Through grumbles, they began a series of catalinas, cranes, and flamingos. Straightening his tie so the knot sat evenly between the flaps of his collar, he filled his lungs with the boggy, rotten-egg lake smell in an attempt to wash away the puddle of melancholy sloshing around in his gut.

Susie broke ranks, pulling up to the side of the pool to work out a cramp. Under other circumstances, he’d give her a quick scold and send her back to the water. Tonight he ignored her, telling himself she was the cause of his unhappiness.

Who am I kidding? His relief at being done with Susie was almost pathetic. Heat built in his groin, a slow swelling, a pressure so sweet, it caused pain. He wanted Skip. Now. He didn’t want to go off into some mythical future without touching him. Tonight. The lanky musician didn’t fight his nature, and Russell needed another taste of his life.

He stuffed his hands in his trouser pockets to hide his clenched fists. He could wish and want and hope all night long, but if he wasn’t willing to do anything about it, he’d end up alone.

Before the show started, the director stood at the edge of the stage and gave the performers a pep talk. He assured the dancers the crew would do their best to keep the stage dry if it rained, and complimented the swimmers on a fine performance the night before. Russell’s gaze drifted over to the band, right about the time Skip looked in his direction, and the director might have been a dog barking down the block.

Russell smiled, as broad and inviting as possible. Skip didn’t return his smile, but he didn’t turn away either. His expression might have softened, or maybe the distance and the misting rain blurred his features the way fog turned oak trees into green-gray smudges.

The moment passed.

Skip lifted his horn and laughed in response to something Russell couldn’t hear. Aunt Maude waved from stage left, demanding Russell’s attention, reminding him of what was possible.

And what was not possible.

The girls made it through the Aqua Dixie minstrel number without any problems. Their moves were sharp, elegant, and their smiles brilliant. Russell allowed himself to relax, even laughed at the MC’s tired jokes.

Then the conductor counted off “In the Mood.”

Skip rose above the band to play his solo, and desire crystalized in Russell’s soul, brittle enough to cut deep if it shattered.

But he felt more than desire, more than the simple physical urge a man could handle on his own. He wanted to know Skip, to share in the warmth of his optimism. Russell shut his eyes, indulging in the trumpet’s bell-like tone. A kiss meant something. Both the giver and the receiver had to lower their guard, leave themselves open. They’d done a lot more than just kiss, but still, he couldn’t get on the train to Red Wing without talking to Skip one last time.

They still had things to say to one another.

About the Author

About Liv Rancourt
I write romance: m/f, m/m, and v/h, where the h is for human and the v is for vampire … or sometimes demon … I lean more towards funny than angst. When I’m not writing I take care of tiny premature babies or teenagers, depending on whether I’m at home or at work. My husband is a soul of patience, my dog’s cuteness is legendary, and we share the homestead with three ferrets. Who steal things. Because they’re brats.

Where to find Liv

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