Sunday, December 17, 2006

Chi Rispotta

LK Hunsaker 2006

"Chi rispotta sara' rispottato."
(Respect others and you will be respected.)
-- Italian Proverb --

There is a "celebrity blogger" being sued by the paparazzi: a rather ridiculous thing by the sound of it. I find it deplorable for people to stalk and otherwise harass other people in the guise of "freedom of the press" simply because photos and stories (true and otherwise) of those being stalked bring in big money. It's truly disgusting and should be illegal.

On the other hand, this blogger is making money from those doing the stalking by doing something unquestionably illegal: reprinting photos taken by others on his blog with no permission and no credit given. This is outright copyright infringement. He is claiming "fair use" under the copyright act. As a writer/artist, I have studied the copyright laws enough to know that the way he is using the photos, by drawing a couple of scribbles on them and sticking rude captions underneath, is not at all fair use. Fair use was issued for educational reasons. It gives us the right to use quotes as long as they are brief and acknowledged. It also gives us the right to show photos of artwork for an educational purpose, again with credit given.

While checking into the creation of my own website, I read that section thoroughly: the one he is quoting as fair use that says if he changes it, it becomes legal. That's not what it says. It says there must be a considerable change and even then, the law is hazy and it would come down to how and why it's being used. In general, if it is being used for purposes of making income, it's not legal. The biggest issue is whether it interferes with the owner's income as competition. That is a cut and dry illegal act.

I'm mentioning this here because of the widespread copyright infringement happening online. It is not legal to copy photos/graphics/text online and use it for your own purposes without express permission from its owner. That goes for any kind of art, including literature.

One of the comments in that blog mentioned something I've heard ranted about before; that copyright laws should be repealed. This apparently comes from those who have never in their lives created an original work and never intend to do so. My question to those people would be, "Why should everyone except artists expect to make money from what they do?" Or, "Why should certain artists be allowed income from their work while others aren't?"

When a man contructs a beautiful oak rocking chair from his own labor, no one is allowed to walk into his house and take it away. It's stealing and it's illegal. When I sit down and write or create graphics, I am putting my time and learned craft into it in the same manner and my work belongs to me. The photos I take and include in my blog and on my site belong to me. Copying them without my permission is stealing. The same goes for everything anyone creates.

A photo is a creation. It takes skill and knowledge and effort to create a good photograph. I disagree about the ethics of the paparazzi, but it is not illegal. Even if it were, two illegal acts do not cancel each other. Copyright infringement is illegal. Plagiarism gets college students kicked out of school and adults fined. It is all the same issue. Art is meant to be shared with others, by permission of the artist. It is not meant to be stolen.

Most often, if photos are used and linked back to the owner's site with full credit given, there isn't an issue made of it, especially when it is on a non-income-earning site. Some artists would welcome that as additional exposure. However, they could very well make a legal stand if they chose to do so, even with full credit.

The bottom line is that artists deserve respect for their work. They deserve the same protection others have when it comes to earning a living. Grabbing art that is someone's livlihood (or even if it's only a hobby) is the same as walking into someone's house and pulling out one of her belongings.

If we wish to continue having art in our society, we must continue respecting our artists.

-- story link:

Sunday, December 10, 2006

awe-inspiring vs. clearly visible

LK Hunsaker 2006

"A friend who is far away is sometimes much nearer than one who is at hand. Is not the mountain far more awe-inspiring and more clearly visible to one passing through the valley than to those who inhabit the mountain?"

Kahlil Gibran

How close should a writer get to her public?

The same could be asked of any artist, I suppose. I asked this in my other blog, one mostly read by other writers, and received varying answers. Writer's Digest also covers the question in this month's issue. The majority consensus seems to be that readers appreciate being able, with the internet, to connect more closely with their favorite writers and that it is also helpful to writers to be able to receive such personal feedback.

I think there is a fine line and determining when it's crossed can be tricky. Mountains may be more clearly visible from a distance, but there are wonders about them that only those who get closer can know and learn to truly appreciate their inspiration.

Artists are fairly mysterious creatures to others and that mystery can be a good thing; it helps to create an aura around their work. Too much mystery, though, can lead to detachment. Look at characters in novels who are under-developed. They may be going through exciting or horrendous adventures, but unless a reader can delve in far enough to see who they are inside, why should they care how the adventure unravels?

I have many favorite artists of all types. I can admire their works and enjoy reading/listening/viewing. Still, there is a distance that equates to one who sees the bare outline of a mountain and thinks it beautiful, knowing nothing more. Why do so many of us wish to meet our favorite artists? Because it gives us the opportunity to walk up that mountain path and see what kind of trees are growing on it and from where the colors and shadows stem and what else lives inside its depths. It creates a different kind of awe, a more visible relationship that helps us connect further, and to care more.

The advent of online communications with not only authors but artists of all kinds allows for an experience so few have been able to afford in the past; a chance to "meet" the creator and look inside its depths.

Artists should take care, though, not to reveal anything that gives too much away about their work. Their creations need to stay distant to an extent, to stay mostly hidden until completion and then to maintain a bit of mystery. There needs to be an allowance for the audience interpretation. I adore that rare opportunity when I get to hear a reader's interpretation about my work. It so truly shows that a writer is only part of the equation. Each reader brings a uniqueness to the work that helps make it more personal to her. That boundary needs to stay uncrossed.

I would love to hear thoughts on the issue from writers and readers alike.

A note: With the holidays upon us, my weekend entries may slow or cease until January. I wish you all a Beautiful Christmas/Hanukah/Al Adha and a wonderful 2007!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Test of The Artist

"The test of the artist does not lie in the will with which he goes to work, but in the excellence of the work he produces."
Saint Thomas Aquinas

Many times during Nanowrimo, I nearly threw my hands in the air and said, "I GIVE!"

I ended up pushing through. In fact, the closer I got to the deadline, the more determined I was to finish, to not only hit 50,000 words, but to finish the whole first draft. Averaging 3,000 words a day the last week, I made it there on November 30th, with over 51,000 words. I've never written a novel that short, but then, this is my first youth novel, and it's long enough for 13 - 15 year olds. It will likely end up shorter than that once I take out everything that doesn't have to be there and tune it, turning it into something readable. It doesn't yet have a title; since I wrote it for my son, I'll ask his help in naming it.

I'm letting it rest during this month and will hit the editing in January after it's had time to settle and I can go through with a more vivid and distant eye. I have plans of publishing by May. It's a possible goal since it is a shorter novel.

On the last day, I also spent a bit of time browsing the Writers Beware blog (link on the left) and found an entry about how a high percentage of Nanowrimo authors are being scammed by "publishers" and "agents" because so many Wrimos are new to the writing craft and susceptible to those offering the flashing star of having a book published. Yes, I suppose that happens, but I have a hard time believing it happens to Wrimos more than to others.

Have you spent time at Yahoo Answers? I am often there perusing the books and authors questions and am highly disdained to see how easy so many people believe the whole writing thing to be. One asked if there was someone who could help do the "details and descriptions" and such. She had an idea and decided it should be a novel. *sigh* I imagine I won't get any thank yous from telling her that ideas are a dime a dozen, but that's the truth and she needed to hear it. She likely also didn't appreciate my telling her that learning how to write details and descriptions is part of the writer's job, or that if you don't want to spend hour after hour editing 2,3, or 4 times after the first draft, don't bother with the first draft. Was that harsh?

I run an indie-publishing group. One of the things I stress is that it's not the easy way out. It's harder, in fact, not to get it published, since anyone can do that now, but to get something marketable published and out there and reviewed by someone other than family and friends. I cringe when I see self-published books that come off as though they are first drafts. Likely, some of them are. It hurts all of us when hobby writers do that. And I say hobby writers because studying, editing, learning, and then editing more is part of writing. There is a difference between those who write for fun and serious writers intent on constantly improving and learning the craft and studying the production process and marketing strategies. It's hard work. An idea does not make a book.

Of course, there's a place for actual vanity books. Having your family history in print to give your grandchildren is a nice idea. Putting down a story in your head and getting a few copies in print is nice. Anyone should have the right to do that. It is vanity, and it's fine. Your family won't care if you have spelling errors or extra information or an undeveloped writing style. Anyone who pays money for your book, however, most certainly will.

The scam comes in when someone tells you not only can they publish your book, but that you will make money from it. Many other questions I found about the publishing process and financial outcome of writing a book were answered by those saying immediately, "publish it yourself and you'll make money" or "get an agent so the big companies will accept it." *sigh* Yes, because it's really that easy. (sense the sarcasm here?) I have spent too much time there trying to clarify the process, to steer unknowing victims away from paying an agent to accept you as a client [legit agents do NOT ask you for money -- they get paid from selling your book!], or from thinking because they have a complete draft of the book that they can find a publisher, or that it's only real publishing if one of the big traditionals accept you. The big companies produce only a small percentage of books published each year. Small companies are producing much more, because there are so many more of them. I have echoed myself saying that who publishes a book is less important than how much work the author puts into marketing. Also, being published by a big company does not necessarily equate higher quality. It only means you wrote in a currently hot-selling genre and the book wasn't too awfully hard for editors to help spiffy.

At the moment, I'm reading Diana Gabaldon's Outlander, published by Bantam Dell. It's a good story, has sold well enough to reach New York Times Bestseller status, but is in desperate need of editing. I find it unbelievable how much work should have been done on it before final publication. There are many scenes that are completely unnecessary and do nothing more than make the book longer or to show off the author's knowledge of something or other. There are repeated words, changing tenses that throw the reader, and sentence structures that could use much improvement. The beginning was nearly the end for me, as stiff and pretentious as it sounded. Its saving grace is one character, who is not the main character. I can't find it in me to like the protagonist, or to even sympathize with her. I often know where the story is leading before it gets there. Still, it was her first novel and I can hope the next several improved.

While reading bestselling books and finding so many things that could be improved, I am both irritated and energized; energized because I can see that with consistent work, it is easily possible to write at least as well. Irritated ... because books that are indie-published are quickly negated although the writing is at least equal quality. There are some that are. The difference is we have to work much harder to prove ourselves. We may not do it willingly, but if we are serious, we will do it.

For those who enjoy poetry, I have been accepted by Sage of Consciousness and published in their most recent literary ezine:

Sage of Consciousness
(will open a new window)

Go to the poetry section and scroll down to LK Hunsaker. Then please, come back and let me know what you think. I can take it. Writers must develop thick skins.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A Child Miseducated

"A child miseducated is a child lost."
John F. Kennedy

We are losing our children.

We are losing them to the streets, to the celebs they choose as role models, and to the fights over the newest game systems.

Our children are losing the ability to read. It is a growing problem; growing as quickly as the numbers of children diagnosed with ADHD. Without the ability and willingness to read, our children are imprisoned within the small confines of their own worlds, worlds which are much too small. Small worlds breed small minds. Unless they are fortunate enough to do extensive traveling, these children who cannot or will not read a wide variety of stories and non-fiction will never see past the ends of their towns and realize there is a much wider viewpoint than the one they have been taught in their own existence.

The old argument against friends and role models having major influence because it is their parents who teach them values and important lessons is failing. Why? Because parents aren't paying attention. They aren't home, or they aren't available, or they don't realize the danger signs when they see them, or they don't know what's causing the danger. Of course this is not true of all parents. Many are home and available and aware, but there are a growing number who are not.

There are two major causes of concern of which all parents should be aware.

One: When phonics was replaced with whole language in school English classes, it took away a child's ability to learn how to read without memorizing every word in the English language. Phonics is the knowledge of how to sound out words we don't know. Most of our children can no longer do this. Without the ability to sound it out, they also don't have the ability to figure it out. They are not learning prefixes and suffixes and roots that help them know what a word is they have never seen. This is essential to proper language development. We are pushing our kids to read. There are programs developed to urge them to want to read. But we are making it difficult for them to do so, which ends up being highly frustrating and turning them into non-readers. We must bring phonics back to our schools.

Two: Instead of giving our children books and creative imaginative toys, we are giving them video games and fighting strangers in stores in order to get the newest, most expensive video systems. Children need imaginative play. It is imperative to their brain formation if they are to ever learn how to learn and how to think for themselves. How many of us in the over forty crowd spent time outside creating games where we 'acted' and made up stories to play with our friends? I would guess most of us did. We had Barbies and Kens that were for use instead of for collecting, and Legos and Lincoln Logs, and Fisher Price towns and Pickup Sticks. These may have seemed like merely childish games, but in reality, they were training our brains. Our children are not doing this. They are stuck behind game systems mastering each "next level" to brag to their friends about.

While the games themselves are not destroying our children (although since most are quite violent, there is an added issue of how it may numb them to violence), the amount of hours spent on these are actually forming their brain patterns that will affect how they think and act the rest of their lives. They learn to think in a way that makes the games easier for their brains to adjust to the quick-paced, immediate action and gratification necessary to become skilled and advance levels. The more they do this, the harder it is for their brains to adapt to real life; to reading, to learning patience, to sitting and focusing on a teacher, and to obeying orders we give them. We are losing them to their games.

Yes, it is that serious. ADHD is heavily on the rise, correlating with the rising stock of gaming systems and emphasis on having each newest game and the lessening numbers of kids participating in music and art and sports and other types of creative play. It is most serious for those younger than seven and for teens. Most parents don't realize that a teenager's brain is reforming itself at relatively the same rate as a young child's brain. It is at this point that what they are doing and learning is extremely important. At no time in the future will they be able to build new neural pathways that will either help or hinder them during the rest of their lives as easily or as pronounced as during this time. What teens spend time doing will directly affect what they will or can do as adults. It can be the difference between finding a successful career and getting lost in the cracks. It is that serious.

Try it. If your child is a full-time gamer who won't read and has low grades, take the games away for a month: completely. Make sure he is reading a variety of subjects and has time to come up with other ways to entertain himself. Have him learn music in some way. Rent an instrument. Go to an art museum. Buy a baseball bat and send him to invite friends for a game. Give his brain time to readjust to the real world. And pay attention to the difference. Then, write notes to your school board about reinstating phonics.

Our children are getting a double slam. Some of them can rise above the phonics issue if language comes easily for them or if they are not spending hours a week on games. If it doesn't and they do, they can't, and it will hold them back in everything, not only in school, but in the rest of their lives.

We cannot afford to lose our children. We cannot afford to raise a whole generation who knows only how to survive in video games. Try Pickup Sticks and Lincoln Logs this Christmas. Leave the computerized games on the store shelves. They may not understand, but they will benefit, and so will we all.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


© LK Hunsaker

"Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder."
Saint Thomas Aquinas

Writing a novel is eerily like raising kids. You can plan and outline and create the "right" settings and know exactly where it's "supposed" to go, and yet, when the story is being written and kids are being raised, they tend to take over and have their own say, very thoroughly screwing up your well-laid plans.

Stories and children are amazing things, though. Even with the same backgrounds and same main characters, they come out strangely unique. Two writers can never come up with the same story even with the same outline. Two children raised the same will not be the same. That inherent life force we have when we are born supercedes all else. We see the same angle in different ways. We interpret the same myths in contrasting lights. Our characters, regardless of what we want them to be, will become what they are born to be.

This is the third week of Nanowrimo, that week when revelations we didn't expect pop out at us from nowhere and bring an excitement to the work, a mystery of sorts. We don't know where it comes from and it doesn't matter. Week three makes us realize just why we are undertaking this seemingly insane quest. It turns out it is not so insane after all. There is, as they say, a method in madness. Pushing to get so deeply into a story so quickly forces you to write whatever will come out, not what you want to come. You tell yourself over and over that it doesn't matter if you want it there or not; it adds to your word count. You can take it out again after November.

So much of what is going on in my life right now is reverberating through my story. It will all have to be edited, but in the meantime, it's an incredible therapy. I will save the first draft as it is, in a separate file locked away to outside eyes. It is not meant for sharing, but for letting go. I can be free to write anything I want, letting the thoughts swirl around the paper and realizing it's pushing me closer to my goal. I'm still behind. I should be at 31,673 words by tonight and I am barely past 21,000. It's all well and fine, though. At the beginning of today, I needed over 3,000 words a day to hit 50K. By tonight, with my day's push, I need only 2,600 a day. By Friday, I was thinking I might as well throw in the towel. Now, I see that it's still doable, and if I continue using it as a journal, it's also healthy. *laugh*

I don't consider myself a poet or philosopher, but novelists need to be some of both. They also need to retain that feeling of awe. We have to believe it is all possible.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Obsessive Moderate

I'm an obsessive moderate. I require balance.

I need the weather somewhere between hot enough to provide heat stroke and cold enough to be wary of frostbite. Both come rather easily to me. I've been on the edge of both and I don't appreciate edges. I prefer slow inclines and easy descents. Up and down is fine, as long as they are in smooth, relaxed motions. My mood tends to stay fairly stable; I'm not easily rattled, easily excited, or easily angered (more so than before, but military life and parenting and rude drivers in congested traffic will tend to strain patience levels). I need my schedule -- the routine that provides a comfort zone. It may be a lenient schedule, as a strict disciplinarian type, I am definitely not, but it matters to my mental state. During this schedule, I need a slow wake-up time, a productive "play" time, a time slot for some kind of physical movement to get the blood circulating, time to get business-type work done, and then time to do "my" stuff (most often that means writing time). I like to read before bed, pulling me from the "real" world into a transitional phase before I give in to the dream world. Interruptions in this balance I've created for myself will surely set me on edge. Too many of these interruptions will push me over the edge.

And you thought this month would be all about Nanowrimo.

It is. By my counter to the left, that little blue box that shows my progress or lack of, it's quite apparent I have more "lack of" progress than actual progress so far. There have been too many interruptions. I have time at night to write, yes. What I don't have is the balance in my brain that allows me to push other thoughts away enough to write. To be on track, I need to hit 20,000 words by tonight, which means adding over 10,000 words. I somehow don't see that happening. On good days when I do little else, I can write between 5,000 and 6,000 a day. Those days are rare. I average 1,000 words an hour when it's going well.

However, it's still quite achievable to hit the 50K mark by the 30th. I need only to average just over 2,000 words a day. Yes, quite achievable.

Yesterday, I relished in the luxury of a mid-November warm-up. Running around in only a light cotton blouse (and my jeans, of course) with the car windows down and the sun streaming upon my skin, I knew it was likely the last day of the year for such a luxury and therefore, absorbed it into my soul as well as I could. I took the photo shown in this post as well as a few others, appreciating the beauty of "my" trees.

Today, after a full night of streaming rain and the light howl of an occasional gust of wind, I look out and watch the leaves being torn from the branches amongst the gray of a wintery sky. Nature is indeed balancing itself. While I sigh over the lack of color that I will miss until spring, I enjoy the starkness of the tree trunks, their lines strong and graceful, branches dancing with the wind and resting with its calm.

And I know this is a good writing day.

Yesterday I played in the weather like the squirrels chasing each other up and down the trunks and leaping from branch to branch. Today I am settled in and ready to turn my attention to the solitude of the keyboard clicking and the coffee relaxing and invigorating me all at once.

"And the self-same well from which your laughter rises was often-times filled with your tears.
Kahlil Gibran

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Warning for US Parents

The other day, my daughter received a letter from the "National Honor Roll" saying she was accepted for inclusion and would receive another letter asking for her biographical details to be added to the book showcasing those who achieved honor roll status. It stated she would then be eligible for scholarships and the notice would be sent to local papers. Well, she got the "more info" today and I was rather suspicious when it asked for her grandparents' addresses in order to "inform them of her achievement." Hmm ... so, looking further, I found the main part of the letter that dealt with book prices, rather exhorbitant book prices. Jumping online to check them out, I found out it is indeed a scam. Not only are they vanity publishers who only send out the letters in order to sell books, but they operate by sending surveys to our children's teachers, getting them to have the kids fill them out in class without parent knowledge, and returning them to this company.

The "company" isn't even located within Washington DC as the address states. It's a mailbox that redirects to New York, to a marketing firm. Once these kids send in their "biographical information," the company uses it to sell to marketers who sell products of their particular interests. So, they now have not only our children's names, but also their school name, the home address, and their interests/clubs/activities list. Teachers are handing these things out without checking into it, thinking they are helping the kids to get scholarships.

If you're a teacher or work at a school, please pass this info along! If you're a parent of a school kid with a B- or better average, watch for this scam. The National Honor Society is legitimate. The National Honor Roll is not.

These people need to be put out of business. Not only are they scamming adults for money and marketing to minors without parent knowledge, but think about how these kids feel when they realize it's a hoax. Many will never realize it. Maybe that's better, if they haven't been taken for money they can't afford.

Spread the word. Here's more info, with substantiation:

The Better Business Bureau has complaints numbered about them and has them listed as a vanity publisher.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Know That You Can

Novels are not written by novelists. Novels are written by everyday people who give themselves permission to write novels. Whatever your writing experience, you have a book in you that only you can write."
Chris Baty, Nanowrimo Founder

Bring it on! Bring on the fatigue, the frustration, the mind blocks, the doubts, and the carpal tunnel (well, okay, maybe let's leave that out).

Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) is a huge mind game.

This is my third year "playing" and I learned a few things between the first and second attempts. In 2004, I was determined but not convinced that I could write 50,000 words of a new story in 31 days. My brain kept telling me it was too much, that it was a waste of time because anything you write that fast is garbage. I only got to 32,000 words by November 31st.

Yes, Nano novels are garbage, at least as long as they stay in first draft form. That's the key: you have to be okay with the fact that it will be garbage and rejoice in the freedom to allow yourself to write garbage. After all, no first draft is every ready for publishing (unless you happen to be an amazing writing talent and ... I'm not sure there is even an example of well-known writers who ever published a first draft). That's one of the important lessons of Nano. The first draft is about open, free creativity. That's all it should be. It should get your story down in print, with its huge warts and misspellings and horrid sentence structures, so when you've finished that draft, you can let it sit a while and have the freedom to go back and edit. It's truly impossible to edit well when most of the story is still nagging your brain to be let loose. The first draft has to capture the fire of the theme and the inner beauty of the characters. They will be stifled by concerns of spelling and grammar and construction if done simultaneously with the original creative process.

Another thing I learned between the two years is that you can only do something if you believe you can. It's sounds cliche, I know, but it's truth. I wasn't truly convinced I could do it the first year, and I didn't. Last year, I heard other writers say they weren't sure they could make it, and they didn't. The ones who made it were the ones who believed they could. In 2005, I began blogging. For several months, I blogged every day whether or not I wanted to, and this helped to form a habit. By the time Nano came around, I was ready to expand my writing habit (the same time of the day works best for me) into longer time spans, working two hours every night. At times, I worked longer than two hours because it was moving well and I didn't want to stop. The big difference, however, was knowing I was going to make the 50K, not wondering if I could. I ended up with over 60,000 words by the end of November. Then I kept going. Once my habit was established, it was quite easy to maintain.

Nano also provides a wonderful sense of community. Along with the official forums, it's easy to find other types of support groups or to create your own. Find the challenge form on the site and send it to anyone you know who might be interested in writing a story of any kind. Last year, I challenged my niece since she's a budding writer. She's there again this year. A new challenge brought Mom into the folds of Nanowrimo for 2006. We all have at least one story in us begging to be let out. Nano is the perfect time to do so. And tell people you're taking the challenge. Let them watch your word count and see your success and determination. Let them fuss at you for not meeting weekly goals.

Most of all, know that you can, but remember it's the effort you put in and the lessons you learn that count more than anything.

You'll find me at by searching for lkhunsaker ... I'm an open book. ;-)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

pulling it together

It has been far too long since I've posted here. Much has been happening; scattered swirls of things seeming unconnected. Now, it is time to create the bonds.

Rehearsal reviews are filtering in slowly and I'm pleased with what I've heard and read. Three book signings have been encouraging. I need to set up more. Postcards are being sent to independent bookstores to announce the novel. The website is in place with new additions as time runs along. And, the second book of the series is at approximately the halfway point of its first major rewrite/edit.

In between, I have done a fair amount of traveling and entertaining. We spent a week at gorgeous Table Lake in Branson, Missouri with our cabin overlooking the lake. I loved opening the curtain of the sliding glass doors in the morning and looking out at the Canadian Geese blanketing the grassy area between us and the shore. The two shows we saw and several other attractions were a lot of fun. The day on the pontoon boat where we took turns on the jet ski was priceless. I adore water and boats.

One of my favorite times, however, was when I had the chance to sit out alone on the wooden bench swing facing the lake with nothing around me but nature. A perfect temperature highlighted the music of wind flowing through surrounding trees, accented by various bird calls. With notebook in hand, I had every intention of using that time to write. A poem was started, but left unfinished. Too thoroughly distracted by the view, I let go of the need to fill the time with work and allowed my soul to absorb the moment. It was a better plan, in the long run, since that moment is still with me, clear in my mind. I see it becoming part of a story eventually.

I have also been reorganizing. The rush of the summer is over for the year, as well as the push of the new school year beginning, and now it's time to settle in and clear out the miscellaneous.

Wednesday begins Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month). It is the quest to write 50,000 words of a new novel during the 31 days of November. This equals 1,667 words a day on the average, and is quite doable with enough discipline, although it's not an easy task, by any means. I've decided to make it even more of a challenge this year, since last year I hit 60,000 words during the month. I'm a literary novelist, mainly I write literary romance. For Nano, however, I've decided to try my hand at young adult fiction that would have interest for teen boys especially. There seems to be a limited genre selection for this age and that needs to expand. I'm guessing the story will become a blend of young adult/literary/action. It will be centered on music.

As you can see from the photo above, music has taken a larger role in my life recently, also. I am learning to play classical guitar, as I have wanted to do since I was a young adult. My characters have apparently inspired me in turn.

For anyone interested in the writing challenge, go to and sign up. It's free and includes forums. It's also a wonderful learning experience even if this is the only creative writing you do during your lifetime. Give it a try. Winning isn't the important thing in this challenge. Trying, and what you learn while trying, is what matters. You can find me there by doing an author search for lkhunsaker.

I will now be attempting to update this blog every Saturday for those who want to follow along. During the next month, it will likely revolve around Nano, possibly with excerpts. During the week, I keep up with my blog. If you have interest in reading me more often than once a week, find me there:
Most entries are open to everyone, although a few are restricted to registered authors or higher. I tend to ramble about everything under the sun in that one. This one will continue to focus on writing and the other arts.

Have a Safe and Happy Halloween!

Sunday, July 30, 2006



It is more, you and I, than any could know
The glow, of your heart, and your mind
Burns my soul
Reaching, waning, never restraining
I cry, out for you, in for me, my love
Intrinsic and real

It is less, the desire, what we see all around
Cannot know, cannot tell, the falseness
Look inside, never mind, it is true, shows through
I believe, you endure, not for them, my love
Intrinsic and pure

Your heart beats, mine responds
What you are is what I am
Our lives belong wrapped around
The touch of our hands
And our hearts
And our hearts

It is all, what we are, it is all that we know
Within you, inside me, we can be
Breathing slow
Raptured, enthralled, moving in, and around
Never lost, remain whole, alive, my love
Intrinsic and true

Your heart beats, mine responds
What you are is what I am
Our lives belong wrapped around
The touch of our hands
And our hearts
And our hearts

And our hearts will belong in our world, not in theirs
We dance a sly romance for only us
Amidst stares
We belong, without time, sublime rhythm of stars
Creates life, encompasses passion, for us, my love
Intrinsic and aware

LK Hunsaker
6 February 06

Saturday, July 15, 2006

An Anchored Boat (part 2)

We all need to believe in something. What it is may be besides-the-point, as long as there is that something that helps us stretch our figurative wings and soar into a path of a passion of some sort.

As a continuation of the "How long have you been a writer" question from two entries ago, I reiterate that I always have been. I believe there are certain things we are meant to do, that we all have some type of gift within that should be used to reach out to and help others. Now, I feel that even a gift has to be nourished and practiced in order to grow. Mozart had a gift. If he had sat around eating chips and salsa all day instead of using that gift and working at it, however, he wouldn't be in the history books and we wouldn't have all of that gorgeous music he left behind.

During my school years, I heard others complain about essays and other types of writing. I quietly enjoyed them. Senior year, I had an English teacher who made us keep daily journals. It didn't matter what they were about. We could show her that we wrote something and ask that she didn't actually read it, if we wanted to keep it private. There was much fussing about this assignment. I thought it was wonderful and couldn't believe I could get an A simply for writing my thoughts and brief poems into a little spiral notebook. I never asked her not to read what I wrote. To the contrary, I wrote for my little audience of one and glowed in her comments. Quite the ham, I suppose, but at that time, it was the only way I was. Otherwise, I kept my thoughts to myself and stayed at the sidelines. My writing let me continue growing in the midst of a figurative drought.

Trying to decide what path to take in my college years, writing was foremost on my mind, but my practical side told me majoring in English would be pointless, as I didn't plan to teach. What else do you do with an English degree? So, I made the more practical choice of commercial design, except it was a bit too practical and bored me so I couldn't even get through the first class. I continued poetry and journaling in my private time and hit upon a love for psychology accidently: it was a required class for my Liberal Arts (do you want fries with that?) degree. I joke about having a degree in Liberal Arts, but in reality, it was a wonderful stepping stone.

With another love to add to my list, I went into my four-year school heading for an Art major/psychology minor. Again, my practical side won out and I changed it to be opposite. What was I going to DO with an Art degree? (If I had found computer graphics by then, I wouldn't have changed gears, I think, but I hadn't even touched a computer at that point.)

Then I got married. I moved. I moved again. I had a beautiful baby girl. I travelled. I moved again. I had a beautiful baby boy. I travelled more. I moved again, and again. During this time, I worked as I could, other than the normal work of kids and house and packing and unpacking. What I didn't do was write. At all. Other than letters home. My ship started to sink.

And then I returned in my head to a story I had been working on since I was a young teen, a story of music and inspirations and changes and relationships and loves and loss and dance. It helped keep me sane through the years by developing this story, throwing in things I was learning along the way, things I wanted to talk about. As it turns out, I was writing, although it wasn't on paper. When the ship started going down within all of the constant floundering, I put the first few paragraphs of the story, one of the key scenes, onto a sheet of loose-leaf paper with a sharpened pencil (they have to be quite sharp or they annoy me). Then I kept going.

Before long, I had sheet after sheet, front and back of different scenes taken from my head and described as well as I could into print. And I kept going. My husband thought I had lost it, I think, as I didn't talk about my love of writing. Suddenly, it was the only thing I wanted to do.

I dealt with the beginnings of carpal tunnel when it hurt just to pick up the pencil, and I kept writing. The pain spread up to my elbow and into my shoulder and I finally had to give in and wear a brace on my right hand full-time until it calmed down. I didn't stop. I went to writing with my left hand, as I had to do during high school when my right finger was broken and in a cast. Turns out that I'm fairly ambidextrous.

Then I learned how to write with the brace on my hand and wrist and to stop and do other types of movement with it as it bothered me.

My husband said I should use the little computer we had instead. I balked at that, and then gave in. Turns out I could be much more productive that way, except that the big spiral notebook full of handwritten pages had to be typed into the word processor. It was my first edit, as I changed things as I typed. I loved this process almost as much as I loved writing the original.

For a while, he began to regret turning me on to the computer, as he had to share time with me and the debate began over game time versus writing time. Long story short: we now have our own computers. I still wear a wrist brace to type, as well as a keyboard that forms to my natural position better, and the first novel that began all of this 'madness' -- although I wrote and published one in between trying to perfect this one -- is sitting here beside my desk telling me it was all worth it.

So this is the story of Rehearsal, my obsession and my anchor. It is an amazing feeling to have it out there and my nerves are on edge waiting for the first reviews. Here it is:

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Write What You Know?

The old advice for writers to write "what you know" has been oft debated in writing circles. It is taken to mean we should write about situations and places and facts of which we are familiar.

I think that can be good advice, except ... we need to take the phrase figuratively instead of literally. Yes, we writers tend to be a literal bunch. We have words and we know how to use them! I think fiction would be boring indeed, however, if we stick to only writing about what we have experienced. There is a large world of imagination out there that is so much more interesting than what we "know" in our small realities.

I define "write what you know" as meaning that we should take small experiences and infuse them into our stories to add a certain reality to the fiction. For instance, the other day I was standing outside close to my dark pink hollyhocks when a fat bumblebee buzzed around me to get to the pollen inside one of the blooms. As I watched, he happily mingled with the stamen and then left, trailing bits of pollen behind, some of which settled onto the petals. More was dropped behind him in his flight; a wondrous sight to behold, really. I had my camera in my hand but wasn't quick enough to catch the pollen falling from his tiny body. However, my eyes caught it, and so did my writer's instincts. I will be using that in a story somewhere, turning the sight of it over to a character.

I write what I know. I know my love of nature is prevalent throughout my stories. I know, also, that my love of the arts is the basis for my works. Do I know what it is like to be married at 17 and to lose a child? No. Jenna does, though, in Finishing Touches. I have enough empathy for others that I can imagine how it would feel to be in that situation. I do know, however, what it is like to have an artistic talent you don't feel is worthy of mention considering how much more artistic talent those around you have. I gave that to Jenna; that was something I know. In return, she gave me understanding of how easy it is to get into situations you would never plan.

I also write what I want to know. Do I know what it's like to travel with a rock band who happens to be close friends and watch them perform to different audiences in different cities? No. I would love to have the chance to do so, however. Do I expect it to happen? Only through following Susie in Rehearsal. She shares that with me. In return, I give her my love of trees and flowers and Mozart and Elton John. And I research.

Writing what you know can also mean that we need to research facts, including savory little details that add to reality, when we are writing what we don't know. If we write about what interests us, this will come through our work. If we aren't interested in our subject matter, our readers won't be, either. If we are, the research should be as much fun as the writing, or close to it. Think about how much more we will know simply from delving deeply into our subject matters. Knowledge is a wonderful thing! It is also wonderful to be able to share this knowledge with our readers. For instance, did you know that singers may have trouble singing lead while playing bass because they don't blend well, unlike singing while playing guitar? I didn't either, until I researched. Now Susie knows that, as well, and so will my readers.

I don't play guitar. I did start many years ago, but there are many intricacies involved with it that my main characters would know that I don't. So ... I'm taking a course in playing the guitar. I may still not be able to play, but at least I'll find more details to use in my writing.

Write what you know within what you don't know but would like to know. And research. That makes more sense to me.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

An Anchored Boat (part 1)

"How long have you been a writer?"

This is another question I was asked by an inquisitive eighth grader. Writers are often asked this question. My answer was that I have been a writer as long as I can remember.

My first memories of writing are from my childhood. My grandparents had this beautiful sunroom where the younger generation would spend time during big family gatherings. Surrounded by glass and "paved" with brick tile, it was three steps below the main part of the house, separated by sliding glass doors. To me, it looked like a stage. If you have seen "Shakespeare in Love" where the seating area rises up around the stage, you can picture what I saw as a child in the sunroom.

Grandma also had a small dark library. During these gatherings, I would spend time sifting through her music books (the one most vivid in my memory is a small wire-bound book of patriotic songs) and then writing "plays" to go along with the songs. I have three siblings and many cousins who span the generation well, and they were most lenient in letting me convince them to act out these little plays for the adults of the family. Eventually, I also brought in three friends to join us. This was after my older sis and oldest cousin got too old for such unabashed silliness, so it was good to find reinforcements.

The memory of this time is beautiful and pure and filled with fun and laughter. All of my family is artistic in some way and they were quite encouraging with this endeavor.

As time passed and I also grew too old for stage theatrics (and the friends moved away), I paused in my writing career. Young teens so often pause the important things in their life rather than persuing it to help themselves along. Not too much time passed, however, before I was inspired again. This time it was by a television show. The thought is rather amusing to me, since I can rarely be bothered to watch the inane shows now coming over the airways. When I saw the first episode of "Emergency," I was hooked. I loved the comedy of it and the relationships between the characters. I liked that they were real people doing an important job by helping others. I also thought Johnny Gage was rather adorable.

Unfortunately, it didn't stay on the air very long. I missed the characters and didn't want to let them go. So, my next writing venture was a script for "Emergency." I had to have been around fifteen at the time, at best guess. It was a truly horrid little script, though not so little, all hand-written in pencil in a bright red spiral notebook. The plot involved Johnny being the hero and rescuing a little girl and becoming a mentor for her, all the while getting settled down by one of the women he was always chasing. I still have this first writing project of any length and I cherish it, not for the quality of writing (which was truly not there), but because I took the inspiration, put it on paper, and followed it through to completion. That is a large part of writing. Taking it to completion.

After this play, I turned to poetry. Poetry is a wonderful thing for teens because it helps to vent emotions they can't discuss out loud. No one ever has to see it. The value is in the writing of it. Most of the poetry I did was also not good. The first one I like; it's about marching band. I was a drummer, carrying the trip-toms (three huge drums hooked together), and during the times the rest of the band stayed silent and just marched along, the drum beat kept them in step. The trip-toms provided the only musical tones during this beat. I loved it. After a parade in which we won first place, I was so excited about the whole thing, I had to put it on paper. This set off an excursion into poetry. A few are still worth reading.

... as this post is quite long enough, I'll save the rest for another day ...

Sunday, May 07, 2006


Part of the inspiration for starting this blog was a recent visit to a local middle school during Author Day. Several of us local authors gave short presentations about what it was like to be a writer to eight grade classes, and it worked well, as we filled several different genres, including fiction and non-fiction.

I'm a literary novelist. I do other genres of writing, also (short stories, poetry, memoirs, and a children's book), but novels are my true love and obsession. Unfortunately, this is rarely a money-earning field. That is not why I'm a writer, though. I'm a writer ... because I am. I didn't dream of being a writer while growing as some will tell you they did. I was a writer. I have done it ever since I can remember. My only question was how it would manifest into my adult world.

I'm horrible at teaching in person. I can explain nearly anything in words, in print (anything I know how to do, that is), but don't ask me to sit with someone and explain how to do anything vocally. So, although I enjoyed going into the school and talking with the students, I feel there were so many things left out of my answers. I want to try to answer them here.

There will be other things thrown in, as well: things I have learned about the writing process, advice I give newer writers, and particularly anything that deals with publishing in a non-traditional format, which I call "indie publishing." I am indie-published, meaning that I did not try to send my novels into a traditional company. I'm doing it on my own, after much research into what both methods entail. Why? The simple answer is that I wanted to maintain control. More detailed answers will follow in further entries.

I want to start, though, with the one question asked of me that I truly wished I had answered much better (blame the nerves of public speaking).

What is your normal day like as a writer?

Here's my normal day in a nutshell (writing tip: be careful about cliches, but don't throw them out altogether):

6:20 am: make sure my oldest child is awake and ready to catch the bus
6:30 am: wake my youngest child so he can start getting ready
7:15 am: make sure he is leaving on time to catch the bus
8:30 am: listen to my favorite DJs and/or music on my alarm clock while trying to convince myself to get up and start my own day
9:00'ish to around noon (this varies depending on the day and what needs to be done that particular day): make coffee!, feed goldfish, check email, spend time in reading/reviewing/entering writing contests/networking with other writers, check work email (for network coordinator job), play with photos (for photography hobby), work on graphics (for my site or others)
noon'ish to around 1:30: find something quick for lunch so my brain doesn't shut down, do stuff around the house that needs to be done, or other things that get my blood circulating (I try to use this time for some time of exercise when I can force myself to do so)
1:30 to 3:00'ish: varies -- including doing research for my current in-progress novel, checking for markets and ways to find exposure for my writing/art, work on my website, checking email, working on NC job as needed, and I may do some writing during this time, or graphic work, and now and then I let myself take a break and chat with a friend or family
3:00 to around 8:00: This is the 'interrupted' part of the day when the kids get home and homework and chores have to be pushed and we have baseball practice or errands to run and dinner to deal with. When there is time, I'm likely doing more correspondence, or looking for markets, or checking on other hobby-related activities and household chores, etc.
after 8:00 until around midnight: I call this "my" time, the time I try to save for writing, either actually sitting down and working on a novel or story, or doing detailed research for one. It's also when I generally write my daily blog entry at (though that also varies). I may have other work to do, though, that pushes my writing time later.

We writers lead such exciting, glamorous lives! (note the sarcasm) I like, though, that I can vary my schedule as I need around my family. Let me say that during much of the time I've been writing, I've also had an outside paying job. Currently, I am very fortunate to be able to spend more time on my writing/art than I have before and I'm trying to use it to the best advantage while I have the opportunity. I don't expect it will be something that can help support the family financially. There are many other jobs out there I can do for that.

I write because it's who I am and I hope it will make a difference.

"Better to write for yourself and have no public than to write for the public and have no self."
Cyril Connolly