Sunday, August 31, 2008

Romance Is NOT A Bad Word!







Couple at Sunset
©LK Hunsaker 2007


Maybe it is nowadays.

I posted last night on a romance list about people turning suddenly away at my book signing yesterday when they heard the word "romance," as though I was a leper. I wanted to know if others had the same experience. Turns out they have. And fortunately, their potential readers sometimes explained why they were turning away. It seems a majority of current novels entitled "romance" are much too graphic for many readers. They have found it so often, they refuse to buy romance from new authors, instead scouring garage sales for older romances that are safer.

Is anyone really surprised? We can't go anywhere without sex slammed in our faces. We promote contraceptive use for teenagers and balk at any mention of maybe ... uh, NOT having sex. Heaven forbid teenagers/young people actually abstain until they find a deeply involved committed relationship. We can't have that. And we apparently can't have romance that doesn't include graphic sexual acts.

I had a friend fuss about the first book of Rehearsal because ... (no spoilers here) well, sometimes sex doesn't need to happen and sometimes it didn't when it could have. Enough said at the moment. Several others, however, sent reviews applauding the moral character of the story, how refreshing it was. (Don't get the wrong idea.. it's not preachy, it's emotionally explorative.)

What is wrong with us if we can't have a relationship without sex? If we can't have romance without sex? If we can't teach our young people it's quite okay not to have sex before they're emotionally ready?

Why should I feel like an outcast if I want to read romance novels without graphic scenes? You know how hard it is to find recently? Apparently, readers do. Apparently, there is a large population of readers out there who do want romance without verbal graphics. Who want story and characterization and care about how something is written. Why should the ultra-liberal idea of sex any time anywhere with anyone force us all to read about it or have it shoved in our faces? Like anything, the smallest, most vocal group expressing their own freedoms is infecting all of us.

Yes, there can be romance without explicit scenes. If you want the full details, fine and dandy. It doesn't mean we should all have to have it. And, if you want that, don't bother with my work. You won't ever find it there.

Sometimes, romance is actual romance. It does not equal sex. Maybe those writing graphic romance should have to call it erotica instead of romance and help the rest of us not be shunned by those who don't want that.


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Friday, August 29, 2008

Join the Celebration and Win the Newest Book!



From the cover of
Rehearsal: The Highest Aim

©LK Hunsaker 2008
Use only intact with text, & credit to
Email to let me know where you're using it:
info @ (no spaces)


On September 4th, I'm having a double celebration. First, for the release of Rehearsal: The Highest Aim and also ... uh, for my birthday. Why not? This is a party for which you don't bring gifts. I'm supplying gifts.

I've been teaming up with other artists and plan to have some cool things to give away. The list so far includes:

-- a copy of Rehearsal: The Highest Aim signed not only by me, but also by the members of Adam's Attic, the band that graciously allowed me use of their lyrics as the music epilogue. [ ]

-- custom made candles and soaps (soy based, non-allergenic) matching the themes of both Finishing Touches and the Rehearsal series by

-- printed and signed copies of the short story "The Water's Touch" that features Duncan O'Neil from Rehearsal.

-- [still in the works, but hopefully a CD or 2 or 3 signed by the artist(s) -- watch my Myspace for updates: -- blog open to public, no account necessary]

To be eligible for the raffle, you have to be signed up for my newsletter by 9 pm US Eastern time on September 4th. I'll use virtual dice to pick a number and count in order of sign-ups. If you're not already subscribed, go to Emails are never shared or used for other purposes. The newsletter comes out every month or two as needed. Make sure to set your spam filter to allow it! 

Also on the 4th, I'll be in and out of Myspace for a Q/A session, as well as on my Message Board if anyone wants to chat: [ ] password to post is raucous (I'll likely disable the password that day). There will be scheduled live chat times posted on the board, as well.

Anyone attending can request free signed bookmarks.

To find info on the Rehearsal series, check the new opening page:

Feel free to pass this announcement along to other readers. For those unfamiliar with my work, I write mainstream romance, written for adults but safe for 14/15+ unless otherwise marked on my site. The rating will never go beyond 18+ (for language and adult situations, nothing explicit).

Hope to see you on the 4th! Post here or send a message with questions.

For anyone in the western PA/eastern OH area, I'll also be at Creative Gifts & More in the Shenango Valley Mall, Hermitage PA tomorrow (Saturday, Aug 30) for a book signing from 1:00 to 4:00. As I just received my order of  The Highest Aim, I'll be signing all three novels.

LK Hunsaker


Sunday, August 24, 2008

hitting ground



"To leap is not only to leap, it is to hit the ground somewhere."
Elizabeth Bowen

Bird In Flight
©LK Hunsaker 2008


Have you ever forgotten something you did, something major, that bugs you endlessly when reminded that you did it?

I joined Facebook recently and found two of my favorite college friends. One of them asked if I had gone to a Michael W. Smith concert with them. At the question, my mind said, "Oh. Wait. I remember talking about going. Did I go?" I had to admit to him that I don't remember if I went or if I only talked about going. I have no idea. He likely thinks I'm a nut case.

Should I admit it gets worse? A while back my little sis was talking about how I took her to see REO Speedwagon when we were teens for her birthday. I looked at her and said, "I did what?" She gave me that "are you losing it?" look and reminded me it was a surprise and I wouldn't tell her where we were going until she figured it out on the way there. Oh. Wait. I do kind of remember that part of it. I remember chatting with her in the car on the way there. I don't, for anything, remember being AT the concert. She said it was a great concert. I'm sure it was. Why is it completely lost from my memory?

I remember vividly seeing Kenny Rogers three times, and Sawyer Brown when they first came out and I insisted they were going to be big. I remember John Cougar and the Go Gos. Don Williams who was with Kenny and Sawyer Brown. I saw Petra with a church group. I remember the Swan Lake ballet Mom took my older sis and I to see. I remember seeing Dracula on stage for a college class. I don't remember seeing REO. I sure wish I did. I've always liked them.

I went through a very long dry spell when I was unable to attend concerts, due to kids and such, but I can't imagine ever forgetting that I saw Meatloaf or Paul McCartney, or Elton John, or the 3 Duncan Faure shows. I imagine I won't even forget Avril Lavigne although is was pretty unmemorable and only for my daughter.

Where did that memory go? Why did it vanish? (no, I will guarantee no illegal substances were involved)  Did I go to the Michael W. Smith concert? *shrug* Maybe.

It makes you wonder what else you've done you don't know you've done. Where's the Ginsana?


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Book Review: Asking For Murder


Asking For Murder

Roberta Isleib
Berkley Prime Crime
ISBN: 978-0-425-22331-4

Taughannock Falls, NY   --LK Hunsaker 2005


“People who aren’t in our profession don’t like to hear that their shrinks might have these thoughts – especially about them.”

In “Asking For Murder,” Roberta Isleib crosses a line or two: she makes therapists sound human, and she reveals that “shrinks” don’t always have all the answers. I’m all for crossing lines, especially when doing so open doors into formerly private worlds and aids in understanding.

Dr. Rebecca Butterman, a clinical psychologist, finds her best friend who happens to be a social worker specializing in sand therapy beaten and close to death in her own home. Rebecca, as a sideline to her therapy, has already come to the local police agency’s attention as an amateur private detective without credentials. To their consternation, and while raising eyebrows from the rest of the local therapy world, she refuses to let the police handle the case alone. Oh, it should be mentioned that Rebecca is also secretly an advice columnist.

In a story full of twists, including the therapist dealing with her own family-related issues and failing relationships, Rebecca is not what “people who aren’t in our profession” would expect from a clinical psychologist. She is human – fallibly and laughingly human while jumping to conclusions, searching everywhere she looks for possible suspects, admitting she doesn’t have a clue about what a sand scene could mean or even what sand therapy is all about, and ignoring advice she would give clients when it comes to her own affairs of the heart. She is a delightful character, full of energy and ambition with a charming mix of arrogance and insecurity, and leads the search for a killer through routes we can’t guess, up until the time of revelation.

In the midst of the story, we get to peak into the world of a therapist, inclusive of professional conundrums and defined disorders. We also get a look at a therapy technique the public has often never heard of: sand tray. While I would have liked to see the definitions of sandplay versus sand tray more differentiated, I enjoyed Isleib’s inclusion of sand tray and her way of handling this branch of the art therapies.

An admission: I don’t read mysteries. However, if more were like this one, I would be searching them out. “Asking For Murder” does open a door – to a large audience, including those in the psychology field, those not in the field who may want a closer look, to romance readers interested in something different, to readers looking for a light weekend or beach read, and to anyone who enjoys spunky fallible female lead characters. If you don’t read mystery, try it anyway. I finished the novel thinking I would have to go back and catch up on more of Dr. Butterman’s adventures in Isleib’s Advice Column Mysteries.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

The Writer's Voice


"Writers aren't exactly people ... they're a whole bunch of people trying to be one person."

F. Scott Fitzgerald



I'm pulling a comment from the 'fact in fiction' entry for this one. TC mentioned a writer's voice and that an editor said his writing sounds like him as he speaks.

I've seen a lot of writers saying they need to "find" their voice for their work. Do we? I guess I never worried about it. I always expected my characters to simply speak as who they are, since I write in close third person POV, and I try to give them their own voices. I never thought about what part of it was my voice. And then someone who knows me well said when she reads my work, it's like I'm sitting there telling a story because she hears me in it.

I would guess that's my voice. *shrug* It's just there and it comes out unintentionally. I've also been told I say things in funny ways when I talk and sometimes others don't quite get it or have to stop and figure it out. I was quite taken aback by that one. I know how to use English, after all! I actually use it properly most  of the time. My husband said that was the issue ... I talk like a writer, not like a regular person.

If I write the way I talk and vice versa, I suppose that's my voice and my writer's voice and they're both the same. I wonder now if other writers think there are two different voices -- the natural voice we use without thinking about and a separate voice we use purposely for writing. Are there more voices down there trying to get out? Or is there only one?


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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Book Review: The Wolf's Torment by S.G. Cardin


ISBN: 978-0595417339
370 pages


Let me start by saying I’m not generally a paranormal reader. In fact, this was the first paranormal I can remember reading. I do like historicals and romantic stories, however, so I stretched my wings an extent and gave “The Wolf’s Torment” a try. The combination of historical paranormal romance was intriguing.

Cardin has put extensive research into the development of the story and interweaves it easily into the narrative. We get brief bits of history here and there when appropriate, enough to flavor the book and add to our knowledge of Romania. It’s enough to lead us to our own research if we decide, but not enough to distract from the storytelling.

Other than minor things such as some extra repetition and a certain word used more often than necessary, at least for my own taste, Cardin has done a nice job with weaving meticulous detail into a romantic story in which we feel we have a personal stake. I would like to have seen more of Viktor before the event that causes his change of paths, as he is the most interesting character in the novel and I think he had much more to tell us. I didn’t make much of a connection with Mihai or Theresa as they were both playing parts – but then, maybe that was the point.

What I did really enjoy was considering the struggle between Mihai holding his personal values and trying to bend to adjust to loved ones. The story lets us make our own decision about which he should do even while it is unfolding. Also, we are led to consider what is meant by strength and weakness, and what is love and what is only the disguise of love. There is much to ponder and I found myself thinking of the story even when not reading it. The end is not an end, but a pause, letting us know there is more to this tale in the making. I’m interested in knowing where it will go.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Stories Behind the Books -1- fact in fiction



"The first problem of the media is posed by what does not get translated, or even published in the dominant political languages."
Jacques Derrida


One of the themes in Rehearsal: The Highest Aim is how facts behind stories we hear are often untrue, especially in public roles such as politicians and entertainers. The series and sequel expand on this point because it is something I believe strongly that we should consider.

At my book signing on Friday night, I met another writer who mentioned a deconstructionist theory relating how fiction is never fiction. He couldn't remember the theorist's name and my only thought is Jacques Derrida, possibly, but anyway ... I had to agree. There is generally more truth in fiction than there is in non-fiction. Do any of us still trust what we read from "true stories" in the media? I take all of it with a huge grain of salt.

On the other hand, there are myriads of truth behind any mainstream fiction novel. I think he was wondering how much of my work was truth disguised as fiction. Honestly, all of it comes from reality. That's what mainstream/literary fiction is -- the realities of life gathered into story format. Are any of the characters people I know? Nope. I have borrowed names as a form of honoring some people I know and/or respect, but the names are only that -- names, not the people themselves. Many are quite opposite of their namesakes. Some have a few similarities, but only when that works for the story. They are all bits and pieces of people I have known as well as strangers I've studied here and there, and ideas that represent what I want to say.

The first of the Rehearsal series, A Different Drummer, introduces readers to who the characters are in reality -- their dreams, hopes, fears, personalities, likes and dislikes, needs and desires. The Highest Aim moves toward their more public lives, beginning the contrast between reality and fantasy/hearsay. This was the crux of what started the series. I knew there was a difference. Even back as a teenager following favorite bands, I know what we saw wasn't the truth.

The thing about hearsay is that it multiplies and intensifies, often in destructive ways.

Friday, August 01, 2008



"A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it."
William Styron

photo: Nessie at the Caledonian Canal
©LK Hunsaker - All Rights Reserved

I have recently been looking at definitions of genres. I'm switching mine, at least what I call it. The term  "literary" scares readers, many of them. And it sounds a bit pretentious, I suppose. What I do is more mainstream than literary, by definition ... but then, it depends which definition you read. They vary.

One site equaled mainstream novels to "blockbuster" fiction. Hm.

Mainstream, to me, equals "all of the rest of us" -- meaning, all of us not easily categorized and making lots of noise as to "what" we are. Genre fiction is like the term "Republican" or "Democrat" or "Activist" or "Hippie" or "Goth" or "Emo" or "Prep" or "Shy" or "Outgoing" or any other term that defines narrowly. Genre fiction is romance that has a basic plot with a happy ending. It's a mystery that is solved at the end. It's a horror that has more fear than understanding. Society's versions of genre fiction are the activists who yell to have no drilling of oil in our country, the goths who see everything as black and negative, the hippies who think no weapons is the only answer, the republicans who are all white and wealthy business people, the democrats who live in city apartments and fight for underdogs.

The problem with genres is that they are limited. They are important. They pick up the basic issues and expand on it. They choose an aspect and dig deeply into that one aspect. But, they are limited. There is always so much to the story that remains unseen.

They get the most attention. Those following labels and staying within the realm of their chosen aspect are louder, better seen, more vocal. But there is more.

Mainstream: all the rest of us who don't fit neatly.

We're the moderates. We're part shy and part outgoing. We're part prep and part emo. We don't focus enough on one thing that everything else is lost. We wander. We meander into different genres, using parts of several, expanding into other things, other paths, smelling the daisies along the highway, going to small-town parades just to hear the band. We have many interests and if you stick with us long enough, you're bound to enjoy the ride.

We're the backbone of fiction (Irving, Robinson, Hemingway) pointing out true life in all its shades. We're also the backbone of society, blending the genres, making little noise and pulling little attention, but standing stalwart and steady.

We're Mainstream -- in the middle of everything. We're opposite of Blockbuster, although some of us do stand out now and then. We aren't looking for quick and easy and get-rich-quick. We focus on the art of it, the gritty, unglamorous work of it. And we may be fairly silent, but we won't be silenced.

We have things to say. Listen closely and "see the wood through all the trees..."

["see the wood" lyrics quote from Steadman: Come Alive ©2000]