Friday, April 18, 2014

100 Things About Evan Scott

Evan-Rehearsal by LK Hunsaker

Back in 2007, I did one of those surveys going around, but not for myself – for my Rehearsal characters. While organizing my blog a couple of days ago, I found that I posted one and left the other two hanging. Fair is fair. Time to remedy that!


Evan Scott
from the novel series Rehearsal by LK Hunsaker
as of March 1974:


1. WHERE IS ONE OF YOUR SCARS AND HOW DID YOU GET IT?

I have a few minor scars from cuts and so on, barely visible.

2. WHAT IS ON THE WALLS IN YOUR ROOM?

A couple of paintings done by a local artist and a print of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.

3. IF YOU COULD BE AN ANIMAL, WHICH WOULD IT BE?

A horse, not a race horse or a show horse, but something more poised and practical.

4. WHAT TYPE OF MUSIC DO YOU LISTEN TO?

Rock, classical, some jazz and the pop artists Susie enjoys. Elvis is a favorite, and Skynyrd and Pilot, and too many others too list.

5. DO YOU KNOW WHAT TIME YOU WERE BORN?

Yes; mom calls at that time every birthday … just before noon.

6. WHAT DO YOU WANT MORE THAN ANYTHING RIGHT NOW?

I can’t say.

7. WHO DO YOU MISS?

My brother. We lost him several years ago. I suppose I miss having a father who wanted to be a father more than he wanted other things. I’d love for Duncan to come visit, or move here. And I miss Susie when we both get too busy to see each other often, but it doesn’t happen a lot.

8. WHAT IS (ARE) YOUR MOST PRIZED POSSESSION(S)?

My guitar and bass. Not much other than that.

9. HOW TALL ARE YOU?

5’10”

10. DO YOU GET CLAUSTROPHOBIC?

I haven’t yet, although I don’t like being crowded for too long. I enjoy space and quiet as I can get it.

11. DO YOU GET SCARED IN THE DARK?

No.

12. THE LAST PERSON TO MAKE YOU CRY?

My father, I would guess, but it’s been many years when I was still a child.

14. WHAT KIND OF HAIR/EYE COLOR DO YOU LIKE ON THE OPPOSITE SEX?

Dark hair and blue eyes; it’s an incredible combination.

15. HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE PROPOSED TO?

I don’t imagine I will be, but I do hope I can propose in a way that makes the occasion as right as it should be when the time comes.

16. COFFEE OR TEA?

Either, depending on the time and situation.

17. FAVORITE PIZZA TOPPING?

Pepperoni and black olives, with extra cheese. Most anything else is fine, also.

18. IF YOU COULD EAT ANYTHING RIGHT NOW, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Cheeseburger and fries. I haven’t had lunch yet.

20. DO YOU HAVE A CRUSH RIGHT NOW?

I wouldn’t call it a crush. I’m deeply interested in someone right now, and for several years.

21. WHAT WAS THE FIRST MEANINGFUL GIFT YOU EVER RECEIVED?

Susie and Jeremy bought guitar strings and picks for me after I complained to them about not having either. It was their fault I didn’t have either, since they played with one or the other when I ignored them too long, so I guess they felt guilty. I didn’t have the heart to complain the next time I needed to replace a string and didn’t have one.

22. WHAT WAS THE LAST ALBUM YOU BOUGHT?

Carly Simon, for Susie’s birthday. Before that, I think it was Wings.

23. NAME SOMETHING YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH.

I’m hoping to be able to balance a family with my music career and not neglect either too much. In the shorter term, I’m trying to get a good friend to come join the band in order to finally play together on stage, even little clubs like we’re playing now. I see us doing well together, since he pushes me to be better than I am without being egotistical about the talent he has.

24. FAVORITE CLOTHING?

Comfortable and presentable, whether it’s casual or more dressy. I’m fine with either.

26. DO YOU HAVE A PET?

No, I can’t have one in the apartment, but maybe eventually.

27. NAME SOMETHING YOU REGRET.

Not being able to say too many things I need to say.

28. WOULD YOU FALL IN LOVE KNOWING THE PERSON IS ALREADY TAKEN?

Not intentionally, and I wouldn’t act on it. How can you make yourself not fall in love with someone?

29. WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO TELL SOMEONE HOW MUCH THEY MEAN TO YOU?

I think showing them is more important; being there for them and supporting them and treating them with respect and kindness. Words are too easy to say without meaning. Actions, you mean, always.

30. SAY A NUMBER FROM ONE TO A HUNDRED:

Two

31. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THAT NUMBER?

Two is a nicely balanced number, as well as flexible enough to double or divide and still be a good number.

32 WHAT IS THE NUMBER YOU CALL MOST OFTEN?

Mom’s, I suppose. She worries if she doesn’t hear from me often enough.

34. HAVE YOU BEEN OUT OF THE USA?

Only to Canada just inside Niagara Falls so far, but I hope to travel a fair amount eventually.

35. YOUR WEAKNESSES?

Holding things in. And not holding things in.

36. MET ANYONE FAMOUS?

I don’t think I have.

37. FIRST JOB?

I worked at a local grocery store as a stock boy during high school. Before that, I mowed grass and raked leaves for elderly neighbors now and then.

38. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO RELAX?

Other than music, I like to rifle through various magazines or read biographies. I used to play sports in school.

41. WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE YOU FILLED THIS OUT?

Training for a new employee that I’m sure was a waste of time. I can’t see him staying long.

40. HAVE YOU EVER HAD SURGERY?

Not surgery, but stitches in my knee after hitting a cleat while sliding into home base.

42. WHAT DO YOU GET COMPLIMENTED ABOUT MOST?

Susie. Everyone I introduce her to is charmed by her and wonders why she bothers hanging around with me. I can never give them an answer as to why she does.

44. WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY?

Just hanging out with friends is enough.

45. HOW MANY KIDS DO YOU WANT?

I’ve always thought either two or four would be nice, depending on what my future wife has in mind.

46. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE?

My middle name was my grandfather’s first name. I barely remember him, but Mom adored him.

49. WHAT KIND OF SHAMPOO DO YOU USE?

Anything that doesn’t smell fruity.

50. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING?

I’ve never thought about it.

51. WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT?

Salami and ham.

52. ANY BAD HABITS?

Apparently, I’m overly critical. Is that a habit? I also can’t stand having drawers or doors open for no reason and will shut them in between someone going in and out of them if they take too long.

53. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON, WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU?

Probably not. I don’t tend to choose to hang around others who are like me.

56. DO LOOKS MATTER?

Of course. How you present yourself affects the way you look and if you don’t seem to respect yourself, I have trouble finding respect for you, either.

57. HOW DO YOU RELEASE ANGER?

I work out with weights if I can, or pace, and I try to avoid whomever or whatever made me angry until I cool down.

60. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE TOY AS A CHILD?

Building blocks, I suppose. Jeremy and I would create buildings and towns with them and talk about where we would live when we could choose.

61. HOW MANY BIRTHDAYS DO YOU KNOW OFF-HAND?
About nine or ten, I guess.

62. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE HALLOWEEN COSTUME OF ALL TIME?

It had to have been Susie and Jeremy as the Bobbsey Twins. They were adorable together.

63. BATHS OR SHOWERS?

Showers.

64. MASHED POTATOES OR MACARONI AND CHEESE?
Mashed potatoes

65. WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A PARTNER?

Trust, respect, loyalty, laughter, an appreciation for music, and an openness to new experiences.

66. WHAT ARE YOUR NICKNAMES?
Duncan calls me Ev, but otherwise I don’t have any.

68. WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE TV SHOW?

M*A*S*H, All in the Family.

70. WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR?

Chocolate topped with pecans and caramel

71. HAVE YOU BEEN ARRESTED?

No, but I nearly was once. I wouldn’t have regretted it if I had been considering the guy had it coming.

73. PLANS FOR TONIGHT?

After work: a quick dinner, practice, and hopefully inviting Susie over to watch TV

74. WHAT KIND OF CAR DO YOU HAVE?

A brown Mercury Cougar

75. WHAT KIND WOULD YOU HAVE IF MONEY WAS NO OBJECT?

I’m happy enough with the one I have for now.

76. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RECENTLY?

The radio, most often, since we have it on at work.

77. LAST THING YOU DRANK?

Coffee

78. LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE?

Gerry last night, arranging another show at his club

79. THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE IN THE OPPOSITE SEX?

Her eyes and the way she’s dressed. I don’t like girls who are too obvious or showy.

81. FAVORITE SMELL?

Sunflower lotion

82. FAVORITE MONTH OF THE YEAR?

April when it’s warm enough to go without jackets and nature comes back to life. It feels full of promise.

85. WHAT IS YOUR HAIR COLOR?

brown

86. EYE COLOR?

brown

87. FAVORITE BOOK?

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Europe is good. Otherwise, I mainly read non-fiction.

88. FAVORITE COLOR?

Blue or Green, depending on my mood.

89. FAVORITE RESTAURANT?

There’s a little German place in Boston I love to get to when I can, but it’s been a while.

90. DO YOU LIKE SUSHI?

Not any I’ve tried, which luckily hasn’t been much.

91. LAST THING YOU WATCHED?

Mike had a game on last night and I watched it off and on in between doing paperwork for the gym.

92. WHEN YOU HAVE GOOD NEWS, WHO IS THE FIRST PERSON YOU WANT TO TELL?

Susie

93. PLAY ANY MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS?

Guitar and bass. I started messing with the piano for a while but didn’t get the hang of it well, unlike Stu who can play anything he touches. Any musician has to be jealous of that.

94. REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT?

Republican, but I think both have their good and bad points. I guess I’m pretty well in between, but I’m registered as Republican.

95. KISSES OR HUGS?

Both, if they’re from the right person.

96. RELATIONSHIPS OR ONE NIGHT STANDS?

A relationship has so much more value and fulfillment. I don’t understand jumping from one girl to the next without much thought.

97. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU BOUGHT?

Lunch yesterday.

100. DESCRIBE YOUR LOVE LIFE.

Frustrating most of the time. But hopeful.

~~
Find 100 Things About Duncan O’Neil HERE

For Permalinks to my character interviews, see Stories Behind the Books under the MY BOOKS header.


Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Fiction Fusion

booksandwine-detail1

Fusion is the “in” thing in music these days. While I’ve never been big on following or caring about what’s in or out, I do like the fusion trend – the mix of different music genres to create something new. We Americans are an easily bored bunch, aren’t we? Status quo just can’t last long. And I can’t say anything about it, since I’m easily bored, as well. I’m actually a strange mix of “need things the same” and “way too easily bored.” Yes, I drive myself crazy at times. Feel sorry for those who have to deal with me regularly?

Anyway, I like the music mixes. I like that they’ve termed it fusion. Fusion is kind of a cool word itself, isn’t it? Music does tend to find the coolest ways to describe things.

Such as “indie music” which is sometimes termed as a genre instead of the original intent of musicians going independent and producing their own work (kind of the definition of independent, aka indie, is it not?) So, back when authors really started to jump in and publish themselves and everyone was bickering over what to call these renegades, I started calling myself an indie author just like the indie musicians. Made sense to me. Guess it made sense to a lot of folks, since that’s the most accepted term these days for those of us going it on our own.

So now, authors are writing mixes of so many different genres they sometimes need six terms to describe one book [paranormal new adult romantic historical suspense]. Wow. Well, okay. And publishers are always coming up with new terms to describe what authors are writing. The newest I’ve found is upmarket, meaning genre fiction of some kind with a more literary feel, more complex plots, deeper characters. Basically what I’ve called literary romance for several years is now upmarket romance. Well, okay then. Maybe that will work better?

I call all of this genre mixing fiction fusion. Same concept as in music. And I like the concept in fiction as well as I like it in music. It keeps things fresh and interesting.

Although, in all honesty, I’ve been writing fusion … well, since I started writing seriously in 1996 (go ahead, date me by age). I was never sure what to call it. I’m still unsure what to call it. But just as I’m an indie author, I’m also a fusion author. I write what comes out.

Maybe instead of my long-term tag line that tends to raise eyebrows (or pushes them across to the other side of the street), Literary Romance with an Artsy Twist, I should use Indie Fusion with an Artsy Twist. What do you think? At least they might stop to ask what I mean.


Monday, March 10, 2014

My Writing Process–an author chain

JoyfullyYours-AmyLamontRomance Author Amy Lamont invited me to join the Writing Process chain to talk a bit about how I work.

Amy and I met recently in a writer’s group and I’m enjoying getting to know her. If you click on the book cover, you can find her writing process post. I look forward to checking out her next-to-come book, Mandy’s Marine.

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What are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently going through final edits for the re-release of the first two books of the Rehearsal series, this time under my own imprint, which gives me more flexibility. Book 4 is also in final edits stage and Books 5 & 6 are in the works.

Along with that, I’ve just started putting together ideas for an anthology of local writers (you’ll find some of them linked below) and have a short story forming in my thoughts to be included. It’ll be the first story I’ve set in my adopted hometown and I look forward to adding luscious details to make the reader feel as though she’s actually been here.

How does your work differ from others in the genre?

I’ve had a hard time calling my work any one genre. It’s romantic, but doesn’t stay in the bounds of the romance genre since it tends to be far longer and includes family backgrounds and is often heavy with societal issues. It’s part literary fiction given my writing style and the mentioned societal issues, but it’s faster-paced than much lit fic and usually lighter. I think it’s what they are now calling Upmarket Romance and some of it could be called New Adult, but I call it Literary Romance and to be honest, I haven’t read any other books that are very similar. I write very deep inside my characters and let them tell the story, which is always art-centered.

Why do you write what you do?

Because that’s what comes out. I don’t remember which author was first credited with saying, “Write the book you want to read,” but I truly believe that and that’s what I do. I’m not terribly big on convention and don’t worry much about what’s “in” at the moment. I write what I need to write. Writing, and the characters’ stories, always comes first. I worry about how to market it later.
[*caveat: My pen name line is more conforming to recent trends than my LK books. I’m often up to trying new things.]

How does your writing process work?

Characters come to mind as they’re involved in some situation. I think about their story and about who they are and what they truly want most and what tries to keep them from it for quite some time before I start writing. That’s my usual MO. I have, however, grabbed a couple of characters from the air, so to speak, stuck them in a situation I hardly know, and let them go where they go. But most often, the story is well-formed in my head first. It may wander and change while writing the first draft and I let it do that.

I don’t outline first. I outline as I go. After I write a scene, I make a note of it so I can refer to it later if needed. When I do the big rewrite (aka the second draft), I may move things around and add or delete and make sure to tie up loose ends and fix things so the beginning, middle, and end all agree. My last book started in October and midway through changed to spring, so then I went back and made it all agree.

After my big rewrite, I send it to my first reader to get her thoughts while I start editing. When I’ve edited a few times, at least twice after the BR, I send it on to my proofreaders to help catch things I missed, then go over it once more. As John Irving says, at least 2/3rds of my writing time is editing.

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Hopping on the Blog Chain next week (Monday, March 17):

Liz Lally: Liz Lally lives with her husband in Sharpsville, Pennsylvania. She has written two humorous books "Help! I Married a Cartoon Character" and "Nooo! I'm Not a Cartoon Character.”  http://lizlally.blogspot.com

TC Conner: TC Conner, The Write Gardener, writes about life in and out of the garden.  www.thewritegardener.wordpress.com

Valerie Rutherford: Valerie Rutherford is a YA Fantasy novelist, planning on self-publishing. She's currently working on a universe of inter-connected novels mixing magic with relationships and real life issues. http://fireflys-locket.livejournal.com/
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Friday, February 21, 2014

Splitting the Author Personality

inkblot3I used to scratch my head over why an author would need to use different names. You often see So N. So writing as Such N. Such written on book covers. If you’re going to put your name on it, anyway, why not just put your name on it? After all, the cover art should show varying genres, shouldn’t it?

I’ve changed my mind because I found reason to change my mind. No, that doesn’t mean I’m wishy-washy or untrue to myself; it means I’m willing to stop and think and reconsider what I thought I thought. It means I can admit when I’m wrong, or in the very least that I recognize what I think is “right” might not be “right” to someone else. It means I’m secure in the fact that I can be wrong and still be right enough. Right?

Anyway, when I was bringing out Pier Lights last year, I gave this matter a lot of thought. And I mean a LOT of thought. I do not want to look disingenuous. I don’t want to look like I’m “ashamed of” or “embarrassed by” this new spicier line. I admit it was hard for me to release spicy fiction (as completely non-vulgar as it is – with none of those shock value phrases many authors use) because in general, I’m a rather non-spicy and very private sort of gal. It’s about the relationship, the characters, the story.

But you know, sex is a normal part of life and it IS part of theinkblot2 characters. It’s part of all of us whether we grasp onto it or hide it or ignore it. It’s still there.

I’ve developed a good following of readers who are glad I don’t write spicy, or at least I never did until Pier Lights. So, for those people, since I would never criticize anyone for wanting or NOT wanting spice in their fiction – it’s fully their right to choose – I wanted to be sure they realized the new book was different so they could skip it if they’d rather.

Funny thing: as uncomfortable as the whole thing was – writing and releasing romances with actual sex scenes – I found I enjoyed writing slightly steamier shorter contemporary romances. All of my LK books are set in the past, near past or distant past. Writing present and not having to research “did we have that back then?” is a nice switch. And, letting the characters go farther than my LK books allow them to go offers more in-depth exploration, so to speak.

The one thing I still insist on: each scene must move the story and/or develop the character. That includes any spicy scenes. I won’t do spice just for spice. It has to bring character detail in to play.

My author friend Celia Yeary posted today about stepping out of your comfort zone, or not. My comfort zone, as I commented, is quite small, and I’m just not willing to tie myself into that little space. So out I step. I love challenges. I love learning new things. I love what I learn about myself when I learn new things.

And I’m fully enjoying these contemps set on beaches in places I haven’t been (research is just learning new things) inkblot4They are short enough I don’t spend a year or more on them. It leaves me time to work on my longer, more complex LK books. And, they take me to new places. I mean that in more way than one.

My plan was to do one a year during Nanowrimo since I can write the whole first draft in a month and then spend the next few months rewriting and polishing. Winter is a nice time to spend working on summer beach books! Recently, as the second book was nearing the end (of revisions and publishing), I felt a bit unwilling to let go of this new line, under the name Ella M. Kaye, until the end of the year. Maybe some novellas as fill-ins, for the fun of it and to help spread the new name? Good possibility. I haven’t done a novella yet. Might as well.

Now the crux: The wonderful, loyal followers I mentioned? They want these books, too, but not so much the spice. So… I’ll put out non-spicy versions, as well, not widely, but available. Yes, I’ve heard the comments that it just says the author is being wishy-washy or not standing up for her own work. I disagree. I think it’s having respect for your readers and their own personal and valid viewpoints. Not that a writer should do a cleaner version if they’d rather not, but why shouldn’t they if they so choose? Live and let live. There’s plenty of room for both.

As far as renaming/revamping/splitting yourself… Why not go with the flow and let the tide take you where you might really need to be? You can always row back into that safe harbor if you’d rather. My guess is you will have learned lots of nice new things by then, about others and about yourself. 
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Today is RELEASE DAY for Shadowed Lights, the second Ella M. Kaye book. Find more about this line at EllaMKaye.com.

SLcover-72p-9x6

When her sister loses her house to Hurricane Sandy, Delaney Griffin welcomes the family into her home. Months later, with five noisy kids and an overbearing brother-in-law threatening her sanity, Delaney spends much of her free time at the wildlife refuge, which also works as her refuge. Still, the lack of privacy, along with space to dance, her only passionate release, causes her debilitating social anxiety to escalate.

Eli Forrester has come from small town Indiana to Barnegat, New Jersey with his company to help restore the coast. A high rise worker who loves new people and new places, he fears nothing, except water. When he accidentally kicks one of the sea critters Delaney is trying to help rescue, he is drawn to the quiet New Jersey girl. Unwilling to take her cues to leave her alone, Eli is alternately put off and turned on by her odd behavior.

Under shadow of devastation, fear, and forced separation, Delaney and Eli search for their own rescue light.

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Want to win an ebook of this title? Check the comments!
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Friday, February 14, 2014

Intricacies of Intimacy

ValentineCookies-CakeCentraldotcomWe’ve all seen these gorgeously decorated cookies in stores. How can you help but be impressed and drawn to picking them up and taking them home?

My cookies, on the other hand, when I bother to bake, come out ragged around the edges and usually a touch scorched here and there, and if I decorate, which is unlikely, the frosting is rough and uneven.

But, and this is a big but to me (no jokes, please), those gorgeous, perfectly decorated cookies rarely taste good once you bite into them. Mine, on the other hand, (not taking credit since it’s Mom’s recipe) taste incredible, so incredible that even this mostly-sworn-off-sugar gal can’t resist them. I’ve learned to easily bypass those “perfect looking” cookies and if I want cookies, I make them (or have a daughter make them, which is far better) and then I can enjoy what truly matters: how they taste. It is food, after all, not art. The taste is the thing.

Wait. How is this about intimacy? Well, it’s really the same thing. I learned long ago to bypass relationships (or at least keep relative distance) with people who look so perfectly “gorgeous” on the outside, and I don’t mean actual looks; I mean appearance-wise. I prefer a man in sweaty, dirty, work clothes to a man in a suit. He looks far more real to me. That’s perhaps my blue collar upbringing -- my grandpa coming home from his service station with black oil and grease stained fingers, even after carefully washing, with the same smudges on his clothes, but with a big smile for his family because he’s so glad to be home with them after a productive day. To me, that’s beautiful. I can’t fully trust anyone who always looks perfect. And you can’t have an intimate relationship with anyone you don’t fully trust.

[Disclaimer: I am not at all saying men (or women) in suits are less trust-worthy! It’s only a personal thing.]

In-To-Me-SeeSee, the thing is: I’m so far away from being one of those beautifully decorated cookies myself that being around those who are so beautifully decorated is intimidating. You also can’t have an intimate relationship (of any kind, not only romantic) with anyone who intimidates you. I need the rough edges, the dirty fingernails, the clothes I don’t want to touch but enjoy seeing, and the forgiving nature of that imperfect soul willing to accept how fully imperfect I am. I cannot be intimate with anyone too self-confidant because I can’t understand it and it’s hard to trust something you don’t understand. I understand defensiveness. I understand rough edges. I understand doing things you wish you hadn’t. I understand having a hard time admitting that you did something you wish you hadn’t. I understand having a hard time with apologies (it’s defensive). I understand messy, slightly overweight, occasional laziness that makes you drop something wherever you are instead of putting it where it belongs, and wearing old stained sweats at home and hoping no one drops in. I understand awkwardness. I understand bad hair months. I understand being so far out of the current fashion trend you can’t even see the edge of it, and not caring at all. I understand blue jeans and T-shirts that look like they’ve seen better days. In all honesty, I suppose I have, too. But like those jeans and tees, I’m far more comfortable than I was in my “better days” whenever those were supposed to be.

I won’t lie. (I can’t do that well; ask my family.) My husband and I have had some rough years. Those brand new stiff and shiny blue jean days were often hard to get through. He will say the same. We both had our defenses. We both had our scorched spots. Through it all, though, we saw the bright glow from within each others’ imperfect souls and uneven edges, and we stuck it out to keep digging underneath. Some days the digging went smooth and gave us the rush of a job well done at the end of the day. Other days we looked at the nicked and scarred shovels and nearly tossed them aside. It’s never been easy other than the rare day of perfect riding weather when too many other things weren’t pressing on us to take care of or to handle or to stew over. Those are the vacation days of marriage that are to be relished and remembered through the scarring and healing days of growth. Trust me, if you haven’t tried marriage yet: there are far more work days than vacation days.

gingerbreadcoupleAfter 26 years, we finally have more and more of those vacation days and the shovels can often just sit and wait while we sail along on that well-earned rest. Even now things can come out that never have in the past 26 years. And you know, that’s a beautiful thing. That’s intimacy. Others may only see the uneven slightly scorched cookie couple that we are. That’s okay. Because at the heart of that cookie is true flavor that’s impossible to resist. There are things we have been through together that no one else in the world can ever truly understand. We’ve earned that scorch along with the … a-hem, gray hair. 

So today, my DH calls from work where I’m sure he’s covered in sawdust and stain and whatever else, as I sit here in my sweats and old slippers and messy hair working on a career that pays so far under minimum wage I can’t even see that edge of the pay scale, and tells me to go look in the closet. He used to buy me roses. By this time, he knows spending that kind of money on cut flowers that will just die in a couple of days is not on my wish list. Instead, he now buys one beautiful, shining gold-plated rose covering a real rose so it’s both real and still always beautiful, no matter how wilted and browned it may get inside. I see those gold roses as a symbol that the faint, scorched glow inside is finally making its way out where it can be seen. The effort may not show to anyone else. It doesn’t matter. It’s a part of intimacy not meant for others. 

True intimacy is real and beautiful and unending. It may flicker at times, but it never burns out. 

Of course the card he got to go with it was not only not in the envelope, but also unsigned. I had to laugh. That’s intimacy.

DH and me at our daughter's wedding
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This blog post is part of ProjectUnderblog.com
UnderblogCollective



Monday, January 20, 2014

Classic Literature and Education issues

Hemingway-LiveLikePosterI’ve had or seen a few discussions lately about what should and shouldn’t be taught in high schools. Now, I’m not a teacher, but I have done quite a fair bit of research into educational issues and I’ve had a fair bit of education beyond high school, strongly in the literature, art, and psychology fields. Education is of major importance. We all know this as a fact. What we can’t seem to agree on is what it should consist of and how it should come about.

One conversation was with a young friend who felt that art and music should be taught in schools but should not be graded. One of her points was that it brought her grade point down because she’s not good at it. I understand that reasoning. It’s not something she plans to do in her life, anyway, so why grade such things? Heck, I felt that way about science. Math, I understood why it was necessary. We all use at least the basics and theories. Biology? Chemistry? Botany? No, I still see no use in my life for having to have been graded on any of that. Yes, it’s everywhere. Yes, it affects us all. But learning what little I learned of it has not helped my work.

Or did it? The thing is: the seemingly simple event of learning something new makes more difference than most of us understand. Our brains are like any other muscle; the more we use them, the stronger they get, and the more varied things we learn, the more supple they become.

So, this brings me back to the article I read on a book site that really got me fuming, not only because of the vulgarity and condescending tone in it, but because her whole thesis was that since she hated and didn’t understand Hemingway, or other classics, all classic lit should be thrown out of high school lit classes. Most high school sophomores, she said, have “no frame of reference to tap into the heady though subtle emotions that course through Hemingway’s novels.”

Wait. No frame of reference? But isn’t that what fiction is supposed to give us? A wider frame of reference? As far as I know, teens don’t have a frame of reference to tap into the emotions of vampires who live forever if they suck blood or magicians with powers that make them the most important person in the wizard world, either. Does that mean since, as a young teen I lived in the middle of cornfields in an average working class family far away from war, had never had an illicit affair, and had never experienced impotency or traveled to Spain, I couldn’t begin to understand Hemingway’s characters’ emotions? I did, though. I understood them fine through my limited frame of reference.

Since the article’s author loves In Cold Blood and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas better than Hemingway, yes, we should throw out all of the classics and have sophomores read about druggies destroying their lives but being oh, so cute about it or the intricate details of a savage murder. Nightmares, anyone? I would have.

Yes, high school students should be made to read certain books for the same reason they should have to learn science basics. It’s a learning experience. It opens horizons.

That said, I don’t think any student should be forced to read novels about rape, incest, murder, or war if they feel strongly against it. Do parents realize what their kids are being made to read? You should if you don’t. Read reviews about the books you see coming home from school, or try reading it yourself. I was appalled at one of the books my son brought home and said he tried to read but just couldn’t. It was “in” at the moment. I guess the teacher thought she was being trendy. No, I wouldn’t read that graphic intensely violent thing, either, and I told him not to bother (probably the first and only time I ever told him NOT to do his homework).

Wouldn’t it be easier to have a selection of different genres so they can choose which classics to read and which modern fiction to read? Give them choices to an extent, but don’t throw out classic fiction that gives them frames of reference they will not achieve in any other way. If it’s a struggle for them to read, that’s a good thing. It is. Making things too easy on kids is doing them no favors.

And yes, if they have to be graded on science and math, they should also be graded on art and music. For some of us, those art and music grades pulled up our GPAs after struggling through those other classes. Would it really be fair to take that from us? (By the way, learning art and music basics help you learn everything else better. Scientific fact.) Good teachers will recognize a true attempt to learn and be somewhat lenient on the grading scale for artsy people struggling with math and for math people struggling with arts. I had a science teacher who did it for me and I’m forever grateful, because really, I did try, and that was the important thing for this non-scientist.

I loved “having” to read classics in school and it was as important for this writer-in-training to do so as it is for budding scientists to learn chemistry. We all have different things we struggle with and through. The struggle is as important as the things that come easy.

So, how about I trade you my Tolstoy for your… well, I’ll read most any genre that won’t give me nightmares, at least on occasion. And I won’t try to get Twilight pulled out of kids’ hands if you don’t try to get Hemingway away from them. Capote and Thompson I might take issue with. They can wait on that till they’re choosing completely on their own. Or at least give them different options within the same genre.

Half the point of teaching literature is learning the literature itself, to include the techniques, the metaphors and similes, flow, plot, conflict and conflict resolution, and how the author slants words and phrases to express her personal opinion, all of which will overflow into their lives if it’s taught well. The other half, and maybe the much bigger “half,” is to teach them to love to read, to realize how much they can learn from books, and how much bigger their horizons can be. We can’t do that by making them read only books they don’t enjoy.

Include the classics, but give them other genres, and choices, as well. They should be learning how to teach themselves what they want to know, not how to get by the easy way, and not that we should throw out and dismiss what doesn’t interest us. Make them quest for more knowledge and you’ve done the biggest part of giving them the tools for success.






Thursday, January 16, 2014

My Word for the Year

UnderblogCollectiveI found Project Underblog by chance yesterday and I’m a fan of a group of writers or bloggers all posting about the same theme at the same time and linking together. I also agree with Ms. Yother about resolutions for the new year. So, along with always wanting a good topic for my blog, I found this inspirational and had to jump in.

I haven’t done resolutions for some time. I’ve been doing goals, more or less, but have wavered on setting new goals specifically for the year because the schedule for my goals doesn’t go by the calendar. Not exactly. At least not January to December. The idea of choosing one word as your theme for the year instead of a resolution was very appealing. As I thought about it, a few possible words came to mind, but the one that stuck the hardest:

FOCUS

Focus is a much bigger word to me than it appears. It’s not one of my strong points. I have a plethora of interests and even within each field of interest, I have a plethora of things I want to do. I start new things often. I mean OFTEN. I start far too much to possibly keep up with it all.

That doesn’t work well when you have a mountainous goal/task that needs a LOT of attention and time.

So this year, my theme is FOCUS. Specifically, I have to cut out some miscellaneous time wasters, those things I’ve come up with that might be a good idea… Yeah, yeah. Good ideas are a dime a dozen (just like cute guys, so the song says). Implementation, and I mean full implementation, is more rare. And far more important.

My focus this year has to be on those things most important this year. I’m talking about writing specifically. I’ve produced well. I believe each book surpasses the last in quality. What I’ve truly lacked is focus on the things I truly Want to do with my work, other than the work itself.

My marketing stinks. I know it does. Maybe because I’m too scattered and have too many ideas. I’ve considered which supposed marketing tools (you know, those sites authors just HAVE to join) are not productive enough for the time they take, and mainly, they’re ones I don’t enjoy a lot. Those need to drop in status to hit or miss as I can get to them. I don’t have to be everywhere; really I don’t.

My important and most enjoyable tools are

1) My blogs. I like to blog. I have lots of thoughts that can’t be well confined to 160 characters. I have several blogs. All of them have been sorely neglected. Much of my focus this year will be improving and increasing blog activity.

2) Elucidations. I believe in my indie arts project and need to spend more time on that.

3) A project I barely started to develop last year called Write The Light In. With my psychology degree and my natural instinct to want to help others and to bring out the good side of things, this thought of combining that with my love of words is dear to my heart. It deserves full attention.

So this year I focus on the above, along with my actual writing, of course. Some social network places will close. Others will be “as I can get to it.”

FOCUS: My theme word for 2014.

Anyone else in? Click HERE to join in, but link submissions close in 3 days, so jump fast!

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Recipe stuff and my own creations. Seriously.

Okay, if my family reads this, they will laugh. Why? I’ve spent a lot of wasted breath talking about how I hate to cook and I get sick of cooking… and on and on. Really, I don’t. In general.

However, I have been on a health kick over the past few years and since too many recipes call for stuff I’m trying to avoid, such as the very evil refined white sugar, I’ve been adapting recipes to fit my own needs. To me, they taste better than the original, but then I have adjusted my sugar intake way down from where it was. I’m a recovering sugar addict, by the way. Don’t you just hate how recovering addicts KNOW so much about what they’re recovering from? Ah well.

So of course that means writing them on … gasp … recipe cards. For this new grandma who recently had to get stronger reading glasses (like how I threw the grandma thing in there?), little bitty, read “regular sized” recipe cards are just annoying to no end, especially when you have to squeeze in the ingredients so it’s hardly legible.

Being the creative soul I am, I got creative in finding a better way to store and read my cards. Easy enough. First and foremost, I bought 5 x 8 recipe cards. See how much more space they provide?

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Have to love that space! Of course they don’t fit in my regular (mostly unused) card box. I’ve been storing them on the fridge with a little suction clip where I can put them over my counter as I use them so they don’t get dirty. Yes well, then they’re hard to read. So I grabbed a 6 x 9 binder with clear pockets, pulled up Publisher to create a snazzy printout to slip in the front and side and voila!

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Of course you can also just grab colored pencils or crayons or markers or whatever you have on hand. The only tricky part was changing my paper punch to 6 x 9 size to punch the holes to fit.

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Easy! I still need to get alphabetized dividers for it, but now I just set it on the counter beside me, flipped to the recipe I want, and cook away (willingly or not). It even fits nicely with hubby’s cook books. (Only one of these is mine, other than my binder.)

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I’ll start sharing some of my own remade healthier recipes soon. Yeah, don’t laugh. Cooking is less horrible when you’re being creative. Winking smile

Friday, January 03, 2014

From sea to shining sea…or something like that

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My husband and I spent most of December out in sunny Arizona. It was my first trip to the much-warmer-than-PA state and we reveled in being able to sit out on the patio in short sleeves and sunglasses and get some vitamin D back into our sun-starved systems.

Okay, a bit of an exaggeration. PA does have sunshine in the winter. Most of the winter, it’s too cold to be out in it very long, but we do have it and it streams through my windows where I’m running my space heater to simulate summer and keep my toes from fussing. Right now we have a good 8 inches of snow or there about.

We didn’t go southwest for the weather. We went to welcome our first grandbaby into the world.

There’s something about being a grandparent that nothing else can touch. I can’t say it’s better than being a mom. It isn’t. I don’t have the 2 am feedings and such, so there is that, and I do like my uninterrupted sleep. But we had to leave baby back in AZ with his parents. That was hard. I did it to my mom, too. There’s something about those soldiers that will make you leave your beloved family and move across the country, or out of the country. Back when I did it, we didn’t have texting and cell phone pictures and social media and internet live video. Back when I had my first baby overseas, phone calls were horribly expensive and therefore very limited.

We live in easier times. At least in some ways.

Anyway, it’s been a very long time since I stopped writing for nearly a whole month. To be honest, it’s been at least ten years. Did I need the break? Maybe. Not sure about that. I did need the family time, though, the new baby time. And I stole plenty of it. Baby grandson slept in my arm or on my shoulder fairly often. Nothing better than that, or even equal to that, other than your own doing the same. Yes, we believe in holding babies a lot. A LOT. It makes them feel secure. At that age, if they can’t see or hear you, they don’t know you still exist. What a very scary concept to be so little and so helpless and to think you might be all on your own!

And when that baby comes to visit Grandma and Grandpa several months down the road, he will remember us and the complete and total infatuated love we gave him from his first days.

So on the writing note: I’m working on Rehearsal 5 while #4 waits for comments from my beta readers and editors. I still plan to put the second Ella M. Kaye book out in February, although I gave up a month of work on it and will have to hustle. I have paintings done for a hardcover version of Stanley, and thoughts for a second children’s book. I’m fully back to work. And maybe I didn’t need the break, but it didn’t hurt anything, either.

If you’re interested in my Arizona photos (scenery – won’t publicly post my grandbaby although he’s just as cute as heck!), I have the best of them on Pinterest HERE.

And if you want to see what the next Ella M. Kaye book will be about, you can visit its story board HERE.

2953I will be getting a newsletter out and updating my site. Soon, I think. Right now, I’m intensely checking back in with my characters. Guess I did miss them.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Military in the Arts, oh how it leans…

FortDrumSoldiers-OpEndFreedom-8Oct2003

It’s Veteran’s Day in the U.S., a day to honor those who sacrifice for us. Many will ‘honor’ them by jumping on big retail sales. Restaurants are offering discounts and free ‘value’ meals. We’re all on the ‘support the military’ bandwagon again in recent years. Okay, not all. There is still plenty of hostility toward service members, most of which is never broadcast, but it is there. I guess that’s their right – free speech and all.

Except I’m not so sure our speech is still all that free.

Soldiers are restricted as to how much they can say. Military families have learned to be cautious. So who is telling us most of what most of us ‘know’ about the military? Well, artists, actually. Journalists. Hollywood. Authors. Songwriters.

Anyone else see the big problem with that?

Most of them haven’t been there. A big (and big mouth) actor said just the other day that his work was as hard as a soldier’s work. I actually laughed. It is funny when people make assumptions about something with which they don’t know. That’s still nothing compared to the big (and big mouth) author who loves to claim people join the service only if they aren’t smart enough or educated enough to do anything better.

Sad. Truly. They don’t get it. USArmy-inAfghanistanMar2012

So far the only books I’ve read that center around the military and are realistic are Hemingway and Vonnegut. They were there. They know. All of these war movies? Come on. It’s Hollywood, and Hollywood loves to make 4-star generals look like morons and ‘brainless’ troops look like sheep who just follow orders without thinking. Of course they show them this way. They’re about 95% anti-military leftists. Just a fact. It shows. It showed glaringly when they all jumped on that non-American rapper who sang about killing American  soldiers and their families and had him appear on big TV shows and even a nut commercial. Yeah, so he apologized. Big deal. What’s done is done. Too many of us didn’t even know what he’d done, but they did. And yet we supported him with our money in the form of watching the shows and buying the advertisers’ products.

It’s also a fact that the arts in general lean heavily liberal. That’s their right, but we should know and acknowledge that fact because the bias is overwhelming, especially when we don’t realize it’s there.

It is there. On both sides. Including in journalism that is supposed to try to avoid it. Most of them used to. No more. It glares through every headline and every sentence.

Yes, by all means, thank Veterans today, but if you truly care about our military, active and retired, consider them on a daily basis, pay attention to bias, research political candidates, and support those who support us. Veterans support us far more than any politician and we need to remember that.

And yes, I’m an artist and author, but I’m also an Army(Ret) spouse who knows the truth from the inside.

Moondrops&Thistles-cover2inLove. Honor.
Trust.


Sacrifice.

Moondrops & Thistles
LK Hunsaker

Read the interview about the novel.