Posts Tagged ‘books’

Author Intro: LK Hunsaker

Friday, September 4th, 2009

Hello!

Those of you who have been reading the CRR blog have already been ‘introduced’ to me in a way, but this is my official Intro. I’m LK Hunsaker. Those who know me call me Loraine, or sometimes now they’ve gone to calling me LK. I’ve answered to a lot of things through the years.   At online bookstores you may see my name listed as L.K. Hunsaker or as L K Hunsaker because I guess the LK doesn’t make sense to them. I’m an EE Cummings fan. His name is often seen as ee cummings, but that wasn’t his doing. It was a slap in the face from “more serious” poets and critics who saw his work as … well, they didn’t much respect what he was doing. How can you not love someone who writes, “The world is mudlicious and puddle-wonderful”? Anyway, I tend to like oddball creative types who stretch the boundaries.

 

That said, I write romance. Well, of course I write romance or I wouldn’t be here. But I don’t exactly write genre romance. I write oddball romance: a curious blend of genre romance and literary fiction. (WAIT, don’t run off!)  I actually call it Literary Romance with an Artsy Twist. Every novel I write and most of my short stories revolve around the arts. My official bio says I have a psychology degree and an arts degree. Yes, so I mix them.

 

My characters are deeply full and rich and multi-layered. I know their birthdays and astrological signs and sometimes I let readers in on those details. The stories are filled with social and cultural issues, psychological nuances, family relationships and backgrounds, friendships, and of course love in all varieties (not quite all, everything I write is within CRR boundaries). But … and this is a big BUT, although it’s part literary, it’s not any harder to read than this intro. I’m a casual type. I don’t see the point in using big words just to prove you can. I like dialogue. I like letting the characters react to each other “in person” so to speak. And I like humor. You’re bound to find some of it interspersed in most of my work. Anyone who knows my Stu character will be thinking of him about now.

 

So, what else do you want to know? I do tend to be verbose in my work. A writer friend suggested recently that I must be a very chatty person. Well, only online. In person, good luck getting me to say much at all. I’m terrified of public speaking but I did do a couple of author day chats at my son’s middle school a few years ago. They loved my mood pencils so how I did at speaking probably didn’t matter. I’m also terrified of heights but I went bungee-swinging with my husband a while back, just to prove to myself I could. I did. I won’t do it again, but I walked away knowing I did.

 

Let’s see, I’m a chocoholic but I’ve mainly switched to dark chocolate since it’s healthier. I have two kids who are both taller than I am making me (finally) the shortest in the house. I have two dogs: lab and lab mix. One of them was partial inspiration for a short story. The other fetches rocks. Honestly. I’m an amateur photographer and all of the photos you’ll find on my blog as well as featured in my guest blogs are my own (except the one here that my daughter took). I’m an amateur gardener who gets excited when grass actually grows as it’s supposed to. And I’m fairly friendly, so if you email or leave comments on my social networks, I’ll pretty likely answer. If I don’t, I missed seeing it because I’m obsessively busy. (I don’t tend to answer email forwards, jokes and such, even the ones I laugh about.) 

 

Oh, and it’s September 4th, which makes it my birthday. For anyone joining the party today by commenting here, I’m holding a drawing for:

 

One gift package including:
~ A personally signed copy of either Finishing Touches or Off The Moon — your choice. If you go with Off The Moon, I can’t mail it until the end of November because I won’t have it before then!

~ A special promo CD featuring the song used as a music epilogue for Finishing Touches along with the first chapter of the book, signed by me and by Duncan Faure, the singer/songwriter (you can hear it on my novel’s site)

~ A set of music note soaps specially made to match my Rehearsal series theme, from SchoolCornerCrafts.com

~ And I’ll throw in some bookmarks and mood pencils

 

I’ll be here in and out today in between birthday celebrating and football gaming, and I’ll check in over the next couple of days. Say hello back and I’ll throw your name in a hat (or a bowl or something) and have one of my kids pick a winner. Raffle is open through mid Sunday US Eastern time to allow time for our overseas readers to join in.

 

Anything you wanted to know I didn’t say? Ask!

 

Find info about my books at http://www.lkhunsaker.com

Download a pdf file of the beginnings of each of my novels on the main page.

Staring At The Blank Screen

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

It’s terrifying, isn’t it? You know you want to write. You NEED to write. If you don’t, something inside your brain will either explode like an uncracked egg in the microwave or sit and sizzle like a slab of bacon on an almost hot enough driveway. It’s staring at you. The WHITEness of it. The BLANK screen or notebook paper.

I don’t know. I must be odd because I love blank paper and an unused document just as I loved the brand new box of crayons at the beginning of each school year. One side of my brain says if I use it, I’ll mess it up. The crayons aren’t new anymore once you first draw with them. The blank paper isn’t clean and fresh anymore once you put words on it. What if what you draw isn’t worth the value of the crayon? What if what you write isn’t worth the value of the paper (or the time it takes to put it on the computer screen)?

Of course it is. The other side of my brain tells me it’s jam-packed full of possibility. The possibility itself is worth it. What if you mess up? So you mess up. And then you keep going.

Both sides are always there. You will always have that nagging sound in your head saying you’re not good enough. If you keep going, though, you also will always have the other side saying so maybe this isn’t good enough, but eventually it WILL be. Or the next one will be, the one that built on what you learned with THIS one.

Creativity begets creativity. The more you use those new crayons, the more value they have. They are most valuable when they have been worn down to stumps. Why? Because they are the Velveteen Rabbit. They have been loved. While being loved, they have helped you learn and grow as an artist.

This week, I received the suggestion for a book by a “pro” that helps you edit your novel. The recommendation came from someone reading the nearly final draft (nearly, it’s still in editing mode) of my newest book. Of course I realize that means the reader thinks I need more work. Of course I do. What writer doesn’t? A writer who gets to the point she thinks she doesn’t need more work is no longer worth reading. Still, such a simple and honest remark has the ability to knock you off your trying-to-rise ego platform. When you ask for criticism, you will get it. Trust me on this. Criticism is good.

Criticism is good … criticism is good…. Repeat twenty times a day and go to bed early.

On the other hand, this was a reader who doesn’t read the genre I write. Still, he read the whole thing, all 160-some-thousand words in two days because he didn’t want to put it down. He said it affected him in a way a book hasn’t done in a very long time, and it was intended as a huge compliment. Okay, what do I do with this?

Simple. I let that one half of my brain jump up and down doing a happy dance. He couldn’t put it down … he couldn’t put it down…. Repeat twenty times and indulge in a sip of blackberry wine.

I let the other half of my brain consider buying the suggested book and cramming real fast before I finish my edits.

When I started this story, it was full of excitement and newness and the idea it could be “the one” that helps me break out. That blank page was loaded with possibility. As it went on, it become like a relationship I sometimes loved and sometimes wanted to ditch at the closest singles club. It was wholly familiar, warts and all, not the same as that bright shiny story idea. Real. Loved well and worn to a stump.

The blank page vs. the well-used and crumpled page. Which is better? Both. One has the bouncy possibility that anything can happen (and will, trust me on this) and the other has comfort and familiarity and will need lots of editing and tons of patience.

It’s like a new romance vs. an old married couple. Think of all the possibilities of where that romance may lead. It’s exciting and unknown, a new venture. It could be wonderful. It could be a disaster. But if you don’t get started, it will be nothing, not even a learning tool for the next time that could be worlds better. If you don’t try, how do you ever get to that old comfortable marriage where you read each others’ thoughts and allow the pages to begin writing themselves?

It all starts with that blank page.
~~~~~

LK Hunsaker
Mainstream Romance with an Artsy Twist
http://www.lkhunsaker.com
http://lkhunsaker.blogspot.com

Romance & Independence: Hand in Hand

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

 
What’s more romantic than a woman who finds a man who becomes everything she’s always needed? A man who takes her away from a life she longed to escape or from fears within and helps her live happily ever after? Pretty romantic, isn’t it?

What about a woman who finds a man she doesn’t particularly need, but one she wants anyway?

 

There is a large difference between being with someone you need and being with someone you want. Needs can change. Once they’re fulfilled, then what? How many relationships begin from need and then when those two people grow and change and become more independent, they find there’s not enough left to keep feeding the fire? If need is the basis, that couple is standing on shaky ground.

 

Want may not seem as incredibly powerful as need, but it does tend to be longer lasting. Of course wants can change as needs do, and a woman can develop true want from need that will last after the need is fulfilled or outgrown, but would you rather have your mate say “I need you” or “I want you”?

 

Need is greedy. It’s self-serving. It’s human, also, and we do need others for particular reasons. There’s no shame in that. It can be an effective tool both in reality and in fiction. It’s the equivalent of lust, however. Sometimes it “grows up” into love and sometimes it doesn’t.

 

There is an element of need inside want. Need is the sunflower seed and want is the full-blooming sunflower. Yes, you can consume the seed itself and enjoy it, or you can plant that seed and allow it to turn into more … with petals included.

 

It’s the trend in romantic fiction these days to have strong, independent heroines — those who don’t particularly need a hero but sure appreciate one when he’s found.  Those of us living in democratic countries understand the need for independence. We celebrate it here in the States this weekend, how we stood up and said we don’t need you to be in charge. We’re okay by ourselves. Of course looking at us now, you can see we still want that relationship we broke away from. It’s a good, healthy relationship that is now based more on want than need. It’s a prime example of something that began needy and grew up and flowered. Sometimes it works well.

 

Changing from need to want can sometimes cause relationship breakdowns, also. Using something I’ve seen often, military marriages have to grow from need into want in order to survive. The military spouse is often deployed, either to training exercises or to combat situations. The spouse remaining must learn to survive as an independent partner, often a single parent, and generally away from family and friends. She (or he, but bear with me) grows stronger and learns to make decisions alone and how to do things she’s never done before. That growth is a beautiful thing. Independence is a beautiful thing. The danger comes when the soldier (or airman, etc) returns home and expects all to be the same. It isn’t and it can’t be. How does our hero react to that? He grows also. Or they part. From what I’ve seen, it’s the relationships that have plenty of want behind the need that do survive.

 

I tend to have needy heroines. I admit it. Strong independent types from the beginning of a book are nice, yes. But I tend to admire those who aren’t so independent at the beginning, who have a lot of learning and a lot of growing to do, and do it with grace. Needy heroines who become independent heroines who still want their heroes around have to be the most romantic of all. They are rare. And they’re beautiful. Like true independence itself.

 

Let’s face it, we can live a long time being ruled and overpowered, but once we get a taste of freedom, nothing else will do.

 

Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans and my wishes of success to all those still trying to find it. That’s a romance worth reading.

~~~

LK Hunsaker

http://www.lkhunsaker.com

http://lkhunsaker.blogspot.com

Literary Romance with an Artsy Twist

~~~

I Am Your Child

Sunday, May 10th, 2009


 ”Whatever will come, will come from me,
Tomorrow is won by winning me.
Whatever I am, you taught me to be,
I am your hope,  I am your chance,
I am your child.”

 

It’s Mother’s Day here in the US and these few lyrics from Barry Manilow’s “I Am Your Child” reflect a small bit of the importance of mothers in our lives. Indeed, maybe more than anything else, our relationships with our mothers, or lack thereof, deeply influences us in so many aspects.

 

I write a rather strange mix of literary fiction and genre romance and something that strikes me as a huge contrast is that while there is often mention of a mother’s place in the development of a main character in literary fiction, we almost never see mothers even mentioned in romance. Of course, since much of romance now is on the more descriptive side of things, it might be awkward to bring mothers into it. After all, how many romance readers actually hid what they were reading from their moms? Maybe they hid them because the stories left moms out. 

 

Seriously, though,  all of our characters were shaped by their moms, either with a good or bad relationship or with no relationship. Yes, you can as easily be shaped by what you don’t have as by what you have. At least, authors should know how they were shaped by their parents even if it doesn’t come out in the books. Many of us have full outlines on our characters that never show, including little details such as birthdays and astrological signs. Moms are a big part of that, or they should be.

 

My first heroine, Jenna from Finishing Touches, had a rocky relationship with her mother, not close and very demanding, with the mother’s needs coming before Jenna’s.  As a result, she grabs onto the first man she is attracted to who offers her that close bond she’s been seeking. It turns out to be a more controlling relationship than she expected, although she refuses to see it as that. And she has a lot of trouble trying to figure out how to live without a controlling figure in her life after losing him. Part of a parent’s job is to teach children how to control their own lives, how to make decisions on their own. Without that childhood development, becoming an adult leads to extra struggle while they’re doing so for the first time.

 

In Rehearsal, on the other hand, Susie has a very close loving bond with her mother who lets her explore and make mistakes and messes. This helps her accept mistakes and messes others make and she is a very giving, loving person. However, she loses her mother early in childhood and can’t fully accept her friend’s mother as her own when they take her in, so she turns that needed bond over to her best friend. Her friend, Evan, has a close relationship with his mother who is more supervisory than controlling, who takes part in what he does but allows him space. He is an adult in control of his life and has patience and determination to work for and wait for what he needs and wants. The newcomer, Duncan, also has a very close relationship with his mother, which helps him get through a tumultuous childhood with his ill-tempered father to be able to still turn out stable and loving, although wary and highly protective of the women in his life.

 

In my next-to-come-out book, Off The Moon, Ryan’s mom is ex-military and therefore believes in structure and discipline but is gentle with her sons and involved with their lives. She’s also very protective of her youngest. Any guesses as to how this reflects on Ryan’s adult life? And then there’s Kaitlyn, the girl he throws a rope to when she needs one. Her relationship with her mother … well, that remains to be seen within the book.

 

Whatever happens with these main characters reflects largely on how they were reared. How they treat those around them depends on how they were treated. Function and dysfunction abound, but also the lesson I learned from my own mother: if you stand tall and fight your way through your problems, things do work out okay in the end. That’s, of course, why so many of us like genre romance — the happily ever after despite how many odds are against it.

 

Those who have read the dedication in Finishing Touches saw this at the end:

 

And for Mom — I am your child.

 

Much of my work turns out as a tribute to the strength and determination I saw from my mom through the turmoil and fun and love and loss. My heroines aren’t perfect, outgoing, popular, independent types with their acts so together it makes us all wish ours were as much. They are real, imperfect, struggling, and much of their strength shows in simply deciding to try for a better tomorrow. That’s what I grew up seeing, in my mother and in my grandmother. That’s what I hope to pass along to my daughter and if I have them sometime in the future, to my granddaughters.

 

Happy Mother’s Day

 

~ ~ ~

LK Hunsaker
Literary Romance with an Artsy
Twist

http://www.LKHunsaker.com

http://lkhunsaker.blogspot.com

-

Not Quite True Confessions

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

They're only playing ... really!

 **stepping up to the podium**

 “Ahem.”**knocks on the speaker and hears the squeal**

 

“I’m LK Hunsaker and I have an inappropriate humor problem.”


**steps down and blushes**

 

Yesterday on the CRR chatters list (aka Yahoo group) several of us were talking about the difference between books and movies, and while we agreed that in most cases we preferred the books, there were exceptions. I walked away from the conversation thinking, yes, but we novel writers have an unfair advantage: we have 200 pages or more to get our stories across while movies have 2-3 hours and 3 hour movies can be a hard sell. Some of us novelists go well beyond 200 pages  [**blushing and looking down at the floor**], which can also be a hard sell but I think not quite as hard. After all, you can stop reading a book, walk around, go shopping, and come back to it later.

Sure, we often prefer the book. There’s more time to get fully “inside” the story and characters. We can actually tell you what our characters are thinking with narrative, while actors have to do their best with expressions and clever scriptwriting that fits it into dialogue without sounding cheesy. Well, most of the time it doesn’t sound cheesy. We can also tell you what you’re smelling as you walk the sidewalk with our character without having to show the bread baking in a nearby café. Yes, we have an advantage.

 

On the other hand, as I found again recently, we have a disadvantage. A picture (or in this case, an expression) truly can be worth a thousand words.

 

You know those dry humor lines they often use on television, the ones where you wouldn’t have any idea it’s meant to be funny without seeing the actor’s expression?  Those can be quite hard to pull off in writing. I know. I do it in blog posts and comments often. I’ve become aware that the fact it’s meant to be funny doesn’t always come through.

 

For instance, the other day one of the writers in a blogging community I’ve been in for several years asked us why we blog. Many of the answers sounded like Miss America: “to share my unique experiences in the hopes of spreading understanding and promoting world peace.” A valuable goal, to be sure (quoting Captain Jack). I was in a *mood* that day and wrote, “because my opinions are worth hearing.” Yes, it was meant to be funny. I figured as long as I’d been around, they would know I was. Ahem. Well, my own blog comments dropped to almost zero after that. Oops. But wait! You didn’t see the expression on my face???

 

Sometimes the movie is simply better. I should have done a podcast of my answer instead of typing it, I suppose.

 

All joking aside, I’m happy to be part of this estimable group of classic romance writers and I’m thankful to Judah for all the work and time of setting it up. **big round of applause**

I write mainstream romance, or mainstream fiction with strong romantic elements, all revolving around the arts and most often around music. I’m a music junkie and it keeps filtering into my stories. So does humor, not always dry. Let’s see how many confessions I can wrap into one blog entry. If I haven’t scared you off, you can find more about me at my newly redesigned and still in tweaking mode website: http://www.lkhunsaker.com  or visit me on my blog: http://lkhunsaker.blogspot.com. 

 

Welcome to all of our readers! I look forward to getting to know you since I have enough writer friends and acquaintances already (that was a joke, son — to quote Foghorn Leghorn). No, I’m not a television addict. Truly.

LK Hunsaker
Mainstream Romance with an Artsy Twist
http://www.lkhunsaker.com
http://lkhunsaker.blogspot.com

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