Posts Tagged ‘writing’

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

~~~

WRITING SEX SCENES

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

  

 “Writing Sex Scenes” continues to be as topical as creating characters, getting the dialogue right and plotting a believable story.  Okay, you’ve got that down, your hero and heroine have met, now it’s time to get them on the path to love and the big scenes.  Today’s romances range from sweet to sizzling.  Erotica sells big.   A writer told me, “Write the hot stuff, it sells.”  I don’t write the hot stuff, because I don’t read the hot stuff.  The first rule: be at ease with your scenes.  

 

Ever scanned through a love scene in an otherwise good romance? Or passed it altogether because it was amateurish or embarrassingly bad?  We all have.  So how can we writers create the kind of scenes we’d like to read, that we can be proud of? 

 

Remember how it felt to be attracted to someone, and then finding yourself falling in love? Recall how you flirted, the shared coy laughter, the tightness in your body.  You held hands, smiled into each others eyes and, yes, fussed at each other.  You parted from the object of your affection, and you couldn’t wait to see him/her to straighten out the misunderstanding.  You missed him/her terribly.  The tension heightened until it was the right time to make love.  Practice writing pages and pages of scenarios, sans body parts and flat physical responses.  Go for heartfelt emotion, exaggerate.  Like dialogue, written sex scenes, even movie sex scenes, are not like real-life.  Think of yourself as a choreographer.         

 

Sounds easy, right?  Put readers in the scene; it’s what writers do.  So, why do many writers find it hard to write sex scenes?  

 

One, because writers frankly admit they wouldn’t want their mother/brother/pastor reading their scenes.  People will think they’re writing about themselves.  Maybe some writers are, maybe some aren’t.  As someone said, you don’t have to be a serial killer to write about serial killers.  Nonetheless, most (I’ll go out on a limb here) romance writers use a pseudonym, especially if their love scenes happen behind closed doors.     

 

Two, it’s difficult to achieve authenticity in sex scenes.  There’s only a thread between reality and hoke, between sensual and silly. You don’t want to come off silly, unless you’re writing comic romance.    

 

No doubt, in real life, right after meeting, a couple will jump in bed and go to it.  That’s not why most romance readers buy romance novels.  They want the build-up.  They want to experience what the characters go through emotionally.  Sometimes a writer will get impatient in building tension and jump right into explicit sex, leaving the reader feeling cheated.  No matter how long the characters have known each other, the foreplay for the writer - if you will - is to get the reader sensitive to the hero and heroine’s feelings.  It isn’t a mystery that the two will have sex, it’s a question of the writer giving the reader the maximum in anticipation.  The reader must experience the seduction or the scene falls flat and will be passed over, or the book closed.

 

Once you’ve written an exquisite sex scene, it’s tempting to cut and paste it into the next story.  Never, never.  If you have a following, or intend to build one – and what writer doesn’t – your readers will get tired of your repetition.  Keep it fresh.  Your characters are not stereotypes, their love is their own.  Let them use their senses – savor the scent of their surroundings, feel the silk sheets, taste each other’s flesh, hear the rain on the window panes, move to the rhythm of the sea.  Let them speak innuendos, joke a little in the act of shedding clothing.  Use internal dialogue.  Create conflict with the couple’s first mating.  She’s shy; he’s a little too eager.  This can roll over into the next scene and the next, until he doesn’t know what to do to bring her out of her shyness.  The reader anticipates that he will. And, of course, he does - seductively.   

 

My advice: read love scenes from authors who are masters, but don’t copy.  Get a sense of their pacing and style. How else do you learn any kind of writing, except by reading?  Remember, make it emotional, seductive, tender, and, use all the senses. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t use medical or cutesy terms for body parts.   

 

 

Visit my website: 

 

 

 

 

Gerrie Ferris

Do you multi-task?

Friday, May 8th, 2009

My name should be “Sybil.”

I just spent the last two days grading my psychology students’ practice Advanced Placement exams.  I started right after school yesterday, stayed up until after midnight working on them, and finally finished the last one about fifteen minutes ago.  I’m exhausted.  But I won’t rest, let alone relax.  (Relax?  Is that in the dictionary somewhere?  Is it some French term or something?)  

I have a list a mile long of things I need to do to promote my books, especially since the third in the “Damaged Heroes” series — All the Right Reasons — just premiered in ebook last week.  I need to send our ARCs to review sites.  I need to answer some (can you believe it?) fan email.  I need to update my website.  And don’t even get me going on how desperately I want to sit down and start writing on my three WIPs.  Plus, tomorrow is my RWA local chapter meeting, and I’m the chapter secretary.  Oh… and my critique group will meet after our chapter meeting, so I have some reading and critiquing still left to do.  And… 

Well, you get my drift.

I admire those of you who juggle all of the things in your life.  So few of us have the luxury of being full-time authors, so we have to learn to multi-task like pros.  I’ve been writing for almost four years, and I still find myself frazzled quite often.  There just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day.

So how do you manage the many “personalities” you have to assume in your life?  What aspect of your life seems to be the first that receives your attention?  Which is the last?

My answers are simple.  Family is always first, but with that being a “given,” I always put my students and my writing as major priorities.  Yeah, I know.  It’s cheating to pick two, but I just can’t name one as more important than the other.  Maybe it’s because I’m so Type A and take so much pride in my work.  But I always want to be the best writer I can be, and I always strive to be the best teacher I can be.  As far as what I put last, that’s easy.  I used to be obsessed with keeping my house neat and clean.  Now… I’m not.  It’s amazing how liberating it is when you get older that things that bothered you so much no longer seem to be so important. 

At least my exams are all graded.  (Yay!)  And now I can morph from my teacher personality to my writer personality. 

I’ll say this — my life is never boring. 

Where do you like to write?

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

Nice, bright, sunny days.

Sounds like the perfect weather for writing a book. Head on outside, bring your laptop or paper and a pen, and enjoy nature as your muse whispers on the wind into your ear story ideas that you have to write down.

When I was younger, I used to love going outside. I had a lot of siblings and we often played baseball or rode our bikes and had fun together. Sometimes, I brought out paper and a pen to write. Even then I wanted to be a writer. But the wind would try to steal the pages and a bird would call and I would quickly become distracted from my writing and put it aside for another day.

Where is your favorite place to work on your WIPs? Is it on your home computer? In your bedroom on your laptop? Outside, enjoying the fresh sunshine?

The outdoors can be a wonderful source of inspiration. It can even help you to see more of your dreams down the road. Here is an excerpt of one such scene from Woman of Honor, a fantasy romance about a girl who wishes to become a knight available now from Desert Breeze Publishing:

When Duke Harold approached her several minutes later, he inquired, “Why are you still firing that bow? Archery class is over.”

“I know,” Aislinn admitted, wiping a dewy strand of blond hair from her forehead. “But the earl told me to keep firing until he said otherwise.”

The duke stared at her for a moment, then broke into a smile and chuckled. “You may stop now. Besides, you aren’t even hitting the target anymore.”

Aislinn sighed. “I know I’m not. But I was trying to.”

He nodded and the moment of pleasantries passed. Now he was the stern instructor again, the one who controlled her fate. He gestured toward a large container. “Take one.”

Aislinn pulled out a blunt wooden sword. Not yet accustom to weapons, she was glad the sword was blunt. Then again, holding a wooden one made her feel inferior until she realized that the other boys were using them as well. It must be for practice. I may not be able to use a real sword until I’m a squire. The thought thrilled her. She had yet to give in to the fantasy that she would become a squire and then a knight, even though that was her goal. To dream too vividly might lead to disappointment.

A movement to the right caught Aislinn’s eyes. A boy stood on top of a log and two others rolled it. A fourth boy gave the log stander a lance and the latter faced a dummy. A quintain, she recalled from her studies. A large swinging board with a target on one end and a sand bag on the other. Aislinn wasn’t sure how the quintain operated and watched the older boys practice.

The duke followed her gaze. “You shan’t have to worry about that for a long time. ‘Tis lance practice and it starts when a page turns thirteen. ‘Tis the last task a page must pass before becoming a squire.”

Nicole Zoltack
Woman of Honor, Desert Breeze Publishing
One Touch, One Glance, Freya’s Bower
http://www.twitter.com/NicoleZoltack
http://www.facebook.com/people/Nicole-Zoltack/52400598
http://www.myspace.com/scarlett9284

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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