Sunday, March 29, 2009

Different Drummer Serialized #9



Rehearsal: A Different Drummer

©LK Hunsaker 2006

ISBN 0-7414-3267-6



14 March 1974


Thursday evening, Susie walked downstairs to catch the rest of practice after Timmy and Taylor went home. Grimacing at the sight of Roy sitting not far from the stage, she walked quietly to the side farthest away from him, staying back where he didn’t see her.

                They sounded fantastic. Duncan was already fitting in well and Evan had no trouble moving from lead guitar to bass. She grinned watching him. He was so wonderful. He had been the band’s lead guitarist ever since joining and now seemed to be stepping back as much as his friend would allow. Occasionally, Stu took over on bass and Evan and Duncan had a battle of guitars – not a battle, really, but Duncan backed away now and then, returning the limelight to his buddy. She could tell how much Evan enjoyed having his friend in the band and the other guys were much more animated than usual.

                Roy stood as the song ended, lumbering toward the new guy. “You think you’re ready for the show tomorrow?”

                “I ’m always ready for a show.”

                Susie chuckled at his eagerness and dedication, but Roy turned and walked away without another word. He noticed Susie as he headed out, barely glancing in her direction. She ignored him and walked down front.

                Duncan looked confused. “Wha’ is with him?”

                “Don’t worry about it.” Evan saw her approach and set his guitar in its stand.

She watched him head toward her while the other guys wondered where he was going. His friend still wanted an explanation for the rudeness, and he deserved one. Susie moved closer. “He thought you were bragging.”

                “Braggin’? That is no’ what I meant.”

                “We know what you meant. And his opinion doesn’t matter.”

                Duncan raised an eyebrow. “I take it you two do no’ ge’ along?”

                Stuart laughed. “That’s an understatement if I ever heard one. She avoids him like the plague.”

                “Why?” The bright blue eyes penetrated her own.

                “Because he’s rude and obnoxious and he cheats on his wife. I can’t stand to be around him.”

                Evan touched her back. “I’m surprised you came tonight. I told you he would be here.”

                “I was hoping he’d be gone by now.” She noticed a trickle of sweat on the side of his face. They really needed air in the basement. “And I wanted to ask what time you were playing tomorrow.”

                He wiped at it with his T-shirt sleeve. “Won’t you have the kids?”

                “I cancelled so I wouldn’t miss the show. Can I have a ride?”

                “You know you don’t have to ask. We’re leaving at six-thirty.” He lowered his hand again to head back to the others. “Oh, and maybe you should call Janet and see if she wants to ride along.”

                “Janet? Why?”

                “She mentioned yesterday that she’d like to come to a show. And it would give you someone to sit with, if Kate doesn’t decide to come.”  


15 March

Susie rifled through her closet, finally selecting her favorite skirt, a soft cotton blend with darts to shape it just so without being snug. It was straight, but flared slightly at the bottom, just below her calves, and black, with a touch of shine. She chose her red silk blouse, a gift from her roommate, to go with it. She hadn’t worn the blouse very often because the top button was lower than she liked, but she wouldn’t be sitting alone tonight, and Evan would be there.

                Starting to pull her hair up, she changed her mind and left most of it to fall down her back, only pulling the sides into a thin braid down the middle and tying the end with a small red ribbon. Slipping into her black ballerina flats, she heard the doorbell and took a deep breath. Why was she nervous? She went out with the guys all the time. Telling herself to quit being so ridiculous, she opened the door.

                Evan noticed the extra trouble she’d taken, as she hoped. “You look great.”

                “Thank you. Come on in.” Unable to say anything to Evan’s buddy, she met his eyes so he wouldn’t think she was ignoring him. They looked like they had coordinated their outfits, with his faded red T-shirt and black leather vest over black jeans. A nice look. “I’ll see if Kate’s ready.” She forced her breathing while feeling stares from behind.

                Kate opened her door just before Susie knocked. “What do you think?” She turned a slow circle, showing off her shiny blue skin-tight dress which barely covered her thighs.

                “I think you’ll need an armed escort.”

                “An escort with arms will be just fine, and I imagine I can find one.” She strolled past Susie to the main room, purposely drawing attention from the two men, then turned back. “You know, Suse, I think I’ll have to take you shopping and show you how to get a man’s attention.”

                Susie saw her start to say something to Evan and interrupted. “That’s not the kind of attention I want.”

                “I don’t know why not. It’s not like you have anything to hide.” She grinned teasingly and focused on the guy she hadn’t met.

Evan came to her rescue, stopping whatever Kate was about to say next by giving a brief introduction.

                “You’re Evan’s friend? You’re sure?” Kate’s eyes wandered up and down Duncan’s body. “I have to say I’m surprised. Pleasantly surprised, that is. I didn’t think he had any friends who weren’t at least kinda stuffy, if ya know what I mean.”

                “And y’ are Susie’s friend? Or only her roommate?” He glanced at Evan, since that was how he introduced Kate, as her roommate.

Kate laughed. “Guess that depends on how mad at me she is at the time you ask. If Evan had his way, I wouldn’t be either one.”

Susie moved in beside her. “It was his idea for you to move here with me. And thank you for calling me stuffy. I appreciate that.”

Motioning toward her outfit, Kate shrugged. “Only kind of. You have potential. Give me time.” Paying no attention to her look, or to Evan’s, which was worse, she pushed up against Duncan. “Susie says I need an armed escort. What do you think?”

                “I think that migh’ be a good idea.”

                A mischievous smile making her intentions known, she slid an arm underneath the black leather, around his waist, resting her other hand on his chest. “Are you armed?”

                Duncan raised an eyebrow. “Probably no’ enough for you.”

                “I find that hard to believe.” Kate let the hand on his chest slide down, until he caught it to stop her.

                Evan interrupted, saying they needed to get going, and held Susie’s jacket while she put her arms through. She set a hand on his arm as he held the door for her, wondering if he warned Duncan about Kate. If not, she was sure he would.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Classic Romance Revival



I've been involved with a group of authors working at trying to clarify some of the misunderstanding of the genre concepts romance and erotica. Readers are often afraid to try "romance" novels because of all of the graphic detail that has moved into much of it. Some of us have been discussing the issue and I'm excited to be able to announce that our deliberation on the subject has turned into a new venue for romance:

Classic Romance Revival

What is classic romance? It's straight-forward heterosexual romance between one couple without erotic love scenes. It's the kind of romance a lot of readers have been scouring thrift stores and yard sales to find from earlier times when they knew they might get some sensuality, and expected that, but never found graphic detail.

With no disrespect to authors or readers of any other kind of romance, we wanted to clarify who we are and what we do and make it easier for readers to find us and give us a chance.

We now have a Yahoo group started:
where writers of this specific genre can join to add their information and participate in chats with readers and where readers who enjoy this type of fiction can safely find romance titles complete with sensuality ratings. Nothing erotic is promoted on this site.

Our official launch date is April 3rd and we'll be throwing a party on the group list complete with prizes and author chats that day.

We also have a blog, complete with our mission statement, our book rating system, and a bit about who each of us are:

If you're a writer who fits this category, please consider joining as an author. If you're a reader interested in this type of fiction, we'd love to have you join us on the group and visit the blog and would be happy to chat and answer questions. If you know readers looking for this kind of romance, by all means, please pass the word along. Although sex definitely sells, we feel there is still room for romance that isn't selling sex.

Classic Romance Revival ... Real Romance with heaRt

[permission to forward granted and encouraged]

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What is Mainstream?

0843-lkhPines in Winter
LK Hunsaker 2009


Back several years ago when I headed toward publishing my first book, I was faced with deciding what "kind" of book it was, according to accepted categories: what genre?


I have to say this was a harder decision than it is for many writers, since I don't write in a certain specific commercial genre. I wasn't trying to do so. It simply came out the way it needed to come out. So then came the research of what exactly certain genres entailed. My themes were pretty romantic but not the standard romance category of "girl meets boy, have a rift of some sort, and then get together for a happily ever after." They do have that except not necessarily so cut and dry and the "happy" ending is more likely to be a "satisfying & upbeat" ending. There is a difference.


Looking further, I found the "mainstream" category, which was defined as not fitting a particular genre, but covered anything outside a particular genre. And then we have "literary" which means much the same except with more emphasis on unique style and voice, plus a deeper look at social and cultural and psychological issues. The problem with that one is readers tend to think of literary fiction as rather high-brow and boring and hard to read.


I have talked before here about my genre being defined as mainstream romance or literary romance and even I was uncertain about which to call it.


I still am. But looking around at publisher sites and listening to what readers say, I'm apparently not the only one confused on that issue.


I just came from a small press site and browsed the "mainstream romance" category. Yes, there is recently an actual category using the term mainstream romance, but it seems not sure how to describe itself, either. When I see a book being plugged as "mainstream romantic suspense," I raise my eyebrows. Literally. Because ... romantic suspense is a specialized genre, which means it's not mainstream, right? If I see vampire fiction under "mainstream" I'm really confused.


John Irving is a mainstream novelist. So is Joyce Carol Oates. They may have bits of suspense or romantic involvement in there, but their books are basically character studies embedded deeply in societal issues such as abortion and immigration and cultural (in)sensitivity. That's the main flux of their work. What I'm seeing in small press sites describing mainstream fiction is far from that. It seems too often only to be fiction of mixed genres they aren't sure how to categorize. If a book is romantic suspense or if it's sci fi or paranormal, then no, I can't see that it's mainstream ... UNLESS it is deeply cultural with an emphasis on character study.


Not being erotic romance doesn't mean it's mainstream romance. I call my books mainstream romance because they are romantic but ALSO cultural, psychological, character studies. Finishing Touches explores the effects of parenting, of pushing children toward what you want them to be against who they are, and how that affects the young heroine of the story. It shows culture class in that where you live affects you as well as how who you are affects where you are comfortable living. It shows the effects of escaping and ponders whether escaping is really that.


The Rehearsal series delves into the music world, the background of the way artists are manipulated by their companies. It has a young half Native American girl raised in a small "insiders only" town and the effects of it on her life. It has an illegal immigrant. There is a character pushed by his divorced mother to prove his "worth" to society when he feels no need to have to prove anything. There are, again, family issues showing how the way each character was raised resulted in their future actions and attitudes. There are friendship issues involving trust and loyalty and differing agendas. Since it begins in 1974, cultural issues such as single motherhood, women's rights, abortion, and attitudes toward long hair and leather feature.


Yes, many commercial fiction genres such as fantasy and suspense and romance also include real issues, as well. The difference is how much? Is it background for the story or it an integral part of the story? If you take it out, does the story change? Do the characters change?


I would urge publishers and authors to be careful about defining their genres so readers are better informed as to just what they're getting. As a reader, I would be dismayed to buy a book marked as mainstream and get a contemporary, which I think is sometimes happening. And no matter what anyone says, I don't see vampire fiction as coming close to being "mainstream" fiction. Mainstream fiction is reality fiction. Some may argue with me, but I don't happen to believe vampires are reality.


This blog has been given two awards!  Stay tuned to the next post for more info. Many thanks to A.L. Marquardt for the honor.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Different Drummer: Serialized #8


Want an easier way to keep up? The serialized sections are posted on my message board in order, with comment space that doesn't require sign in, only the password to post: raucous

©LK Hunsaker 2006. Do not copy. All Rights Reserved.

13 March

Evan fidgeted with the pencil he was holding. He checked the time. Only four-fifteen – she wouldn’t be off work for another forty-five minutes. Something was different with her, but he couldn’t quite grasp it. She was tired – too tired. He had gone over to help with the kids the night before, after practice, and tried to talk to her in between, but she was avoiding him. Well, not him, but conversation. There had been plenty of eye contact, and more than once she sat close to him after putting the baby down. She said the show was going well and things were fine at work.

      She hadn’t mentioned Duncan; in fact, she side-stepped the issue the one time Evan tried to get her thoughts. Possibly, she was wary of him, despite an obvious physical attraction that meant nothing other than that, and was only being polite because he was Evan’s friend. The look she was giving him when Evan interrupted the day before was not one of trust. If he was going to stay around, Duncan would have to earn her trust as the other guys did before she had agreed to move to Lakewood.

                Checking the time again, Evan had a thought. He put the pencil down and picked up the phone.

                At four-thirty, he locked his office door and went to find his friend. It wasn’t hard. Duncan, unlike most of the gym employees, could always be found actually working. At the moment, he was organizing equipment from the mess left by kids who had been in earlier. Evan noticed them setting barbells on the floor or in the wrong slots after using them, but sighed and kept walking. The owner prohibited chastising a customer. He helped Duncan straighten the mess and grabbed his shoulder. “Let’s go.”

                “It is no’ five yet.”

                “We’ll make up for it tomorrow. There’s something you should see.” Calling to his assistant manager to take over for the night, Evan waited for Duncan to change out of his required gym employee tank top and into his own T-shirt and leather vest, pulling the band from his hair, then led him across to the dance studio.

                The studio’s manager grinned when they entered and broke away from other teachers. “Evan, it’s been a while. I was starting to think you were avoiding me.”

                “Not at all. We’ve been taking our own cars since our hours haven’t been matching often. How are you, Janet?”

                “I’m well, thank you. Maybe I should change her hours?”

                Evan chuckled. “Not on my account.” He introduced her to Duncan, wishing she could cover her thoughts better. It grated him to have people look at his friend that way, as though he was trouble waiting to happen. “Do you mind if we walk down to her room? She’s with her fours and fives now, isn’t she?”

                “You know her schedule better than I do since she’s one of the few I don’t have to worry about. I know she’s in class, but not sure which. I’ll help you find her.” Janet discreetly moved to the side away from Duncan, but did speak to him. “Susie told me Evan had a friend visiting, but she never said where you were from.”

                Duncan returned the looks of a couple of the teachers walking past checking him out, then gave Janet his attention. “Here and there. My last job was in Chicago.”

                “Really? I’ve never been there, but I’ve heard it’s an exciting place. Didn’t you like it?”

                “It was interesting for a while, too crowded.”

                “I couldn’t live in a big city. In fact, I don’t think I could ever go much further than Lakewood. I’m not much for traveling. Here we are.” She stopped in front of a large window.

                Susie was standing in front of several small girls in leotards and short dance skirts, slowly demonstrating positions. Now and then, she stopped to assist one student or another, correcting arm and feet positions with infinite patience and a constant smile. Finally, she went to the record player and returned to face the mirrors against the back wall. Watching her reflection now, Evan couldn’t pull his eyes away to see how her students were doing. She was so graceful … so beautiful.

         The mothers watching through the glass commented to Janet about the choreography. They loved it, as well as the song Susie chose for the recital. They were also casting curious stares at Duncan.

          He didn’t bother to notice. His eyes were fixed on the teacher.

         “She’s good with them, isn’t she?”

          He only partly turned to Evan, and nodded.

                “She’s our best teacher, but you didn’t hear that.” Janet winked.

Returning the smile, Evan looked back through the window. Susie’s multi-colored gauze skirt floated along with her as she demonstrated a perfect pique turn, then grinned and did a simplified version. The little ones daintily, though a bit clumsily, touched their right toes to their left knees, stepped down again, and turned a circle.

                Evan returned his thoughts to business, motioning Janet away from the others. She followed willingly. “Do you have plans Saturday?”

                Her confused expression turned into a smile. “No. Why?”

                “Do you like baseball?”

                “Sure. Who doesn’t?”

                “I have four tickets to see the Red Sox this Saturday and thought I’d ask Susie and Duncan. Would you be interested in going with us?”

                “I would love to, Evan. Thank you.”

                Her look confused him. It was a baseball game, not the Metropolitan Ballet. She was over-appreciative for something so simple. His whole purpose was to create a casual environment for his friends to be able to chat. They were both baseball fans, which would give them some common ground other than music, and Susie having a girlfriend with her would make things easier. Janet was as close as Evan could come to that, other than Kate, and he had no interest in taking Kate to a baseball game just to draw attention to herself. Besides, he wouldn’t set Duncan up that way. Janet wouldn’t make a play for his friend. She was safer.

“You think she knows him?”

                “Janet does, doesn’t she?”

                Evan barely caught the women’s whispers. They were peering at Duncan, and he heard them. They turned their heads away at his glance. He met Evan’s eyes briefly, then went back to watching Susie.

                Class was over, as Evan could see from the little girls running to line up at the door. The girls waited for their teacher to catch up. She came out first, making sure each one found her parent.

Susie grinned at Evan. Then, she saw how the women were keeping an eye on his friend. “You’re early. Have you been here long?”

                “Long enough to catch you at work.”

She turned her attention to Duncan, walking purposely closer to him. “So he’s been forcing you to stand here and watch my class?”

                Duncan, to his credit given what she was wearing, stay focused on her eyes. “No force was needed. Y’ are incredible to watch.”

                “Oh … well … thank you.” One of her students interrupted to give her a hug. “Bye honey. Great job today.” The girl’s mother nearly yanked the child away, keeping as much distance as possible from the man she was talking to. Susie moved even closer to him. “So have you seen the rest of the studio?”

                “Only the hallway t’ get here.”

                She nodded, turning her head. “Evan, do you mind if I steal him for a while? We’ll meet you out front.”

                He shrugged, not bothering to answer, since she was only asking for the sake of the mothers still trying to put street clothes on their daughters. Duncan was right. She was incredible.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

New is in the Air


How do you like my updated blog look?

I think I've been looking for changes everywhere because I finally looked at my blog and couldn't stand the way it seemed dreary and messy. So, I jumped in and redecorated. If only we could do that with other parts of our life as easily.

I have painting I want to do in the house.

I have organization/clearing out projects calling to me.

And mainly, I'm thinking about which online projects I can cut.

It must be spring's sliding in that's making me want to clean house, so to speak.

I've really had a very nice writing week. I've averaged about 5,000 words a day since Sunday. I've planted flower bulbs. I've enjoyed the chickadees and gold finches and cardinals and blue jays fluttering around my office window giving me quick nature breaks between scenes. And a friend and writing instructor helped me realize the problem with a YA novel I started 2-3 years ago that has been sitting waiting on me to decide what I don't like about it.

I was invited to be part of a new group blog specifically for mainstream romance writers and have posted my first entry over there:

I'm also in the midst of a new group project that has me excited. Details will come later on this. And there's the possibility of a new writing position that could become a good thing.

With my new blog design, I'm ready to again tackle a new website design.

I have a new blog, as well -- a photo blog of my area and its neighbors:

New is in the air, indeed. Maybe I'll go add new short stories to since my other two shorts are getting an incredible amount of views. I wonder if they still will if I charge a small amount for them.

Speaking of short stories, it's funny: another writer recommended a publisher looking for romantic shorts and I thought I'd jump all over that since it's a paying market. My problem? None of my short stories are romances. I have a short story series started that is romantic but not technically a romance, and I don't think a story series is what they want.

I suppose I find it odd that all of my novels and novel ideas are romances of some kind (except the YA) and yet none of the shorts are. Maybe I'll attempt one.

** The above photo is Shenango Lake in Western Pennsylvania
©LK Hunsaker March 2009

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Different Drummer: Serialized #7



Any thoughts so far? Leave them in the comments!


Rehearsal: A Different Drummer
LK Hunsaker
Infinity Publishing 2006

 12 March 1974

Her stomach tightened.

How was she going to handle the extra expense? She couldn’t let Mariah be pulled out so close to the recital just because her father had been laid off, but the owner would never allow her mom to keep charging lessons. They were already behind. Somehow, Susie would find a way to pay for them herself until they could return it. And if the owner found out … well, she would deal with that when the time came.

Forcing a calming breath, she pulled street clothes over her leotard. Nearly five. Close enough. She could walk over to the gym instead of making Evan and Duncan come for her again.

Waving goodbye to Janet, she peered out the glass doors. Rain was threatening. It didn’t look like a storm, though. Of course, she hadn’t brought an umbrella, as usual, preferring not to be too weighed down. After another quick glance, she started across the parking lot.

Not quite reaching the door before the clouds opened, she pushed damp hair back from her face. The gym was cool and she shivered even in her jacket.

“Susie! Hi! I haven’t seen you recently. What have you been up to?”

She paused at the front desk, glancing in further to try to see Evan. “Hi Shelly, just working. What about you?”

“Same here, but it got more interesting today. You’ve got to see the new guy Evan hired – talk about hot.”

“Long, dark hair?” Susie wiped at moisture on her cheek.

“Did he tell you already?”

“I’ve met him.” She wasn’t going to reveal he was Evan’s friend.

“So maybe the four of us should hang out. Get Evan to invite him.”

She answered one of the regular patrons who said hello and patiently turned back to Shelly. “What about Gary?”

The receptionist rolled her eyes. “We broke up last week.”

“And you’re not dating again yet?”

“I’d go after Evan if he wasn’t already taken.”

“Evan’s not dating anyone.”

The redhead looked puzzled. “I thought you two were an item.”

An item? “Why would you think that?”

“Everyone here talks about how inseparable you are. There are even rumors of a wedding.”

A wedding? Where on earth would that have come from? “Shelly, we’re just friends.”


Susie nodded, backing away from the counter.

“Then you wouldn’t mind if I asked him out?”

Asked him out? Why not? He wouldn’t go out with her. She shrugged as if she didn’t care either way. “It’s none of my business who he dates. But I think he may be a little too tame for you.”

Shelly leaned closer, propped her forearms against the counter, and lowered her voice. “Sometimes the ones who are tamest on the outside are the wildest inside, once you get close enough. And I’ve always had a feeling about him. He’s been turning me on since he hired me.”

Not a conversation Susie wanted to have. Actually, she didn’t care to think about anyone being with Evan and was polite to his dates if she met them but preferred to keep her distance. “Isn’t there a dating policy here between management and employees?”

“You are interested in him.” A grin slid across her face.

“I didn’t say that.”

“You didn’t have to. Don’t worry, I’ll stay away. Maybe I’ll go for the new guy instead. He looks plenty wild enough.”

“Do you know where Evan is?”

“I think he’s back by the benches.”

“Thanks. I’ll talk to you later.” She ignored a whistle from some guy she’d never seen in there before and continued on to find her friend, trying to push Shelly’s words out of her head. Plenty wild enough. She was probably right, but it bothered her, anyway.

The back corner was mostly empty and she watched Evan stand by while Duncan lay on his back pushing a loaded bar into the air, lowering it to his chest, and raising it again. It was a lot of weight – more than she would have expected from the guy who didn’t appear that muscular.

Evan looked over at her movement. “You’re early.”

“Decided to leave. Working hard?”

“Training.” His grin reflected the joke.

“Looks like it.” She smiled at him until Duncan stood. His muscles were well-primed and she couldn’t keep from glancing at his arms and chest beneath the perfectly-fitted T-shirt. Raising her eyes to his face, she hoped he hadn’t noticed where they had been. “You didn’t have to stop on my account.”

He had noticed. She could tell from his expression. “I always stand for a lady.”

A lady? The term was surprising. “Thank you, but Stu’s right, kind of. I’m used to being one of the guys. You don’t need to be so formal around me.”

“Are you done for the day?” Evan moved closer and touched her arm. He must have been working out, as well. His shirt was damp in the middle of the chest muscles that were even more pronounced than usual.

“Not really, but I’m leaving anyway. I have the kids tonight, so I’ll have to come in early tomorrow and get some things done.”

“I thought you were cutting back on your babysitting hours until after the show.”

“Well, I was going to, but … not right now.” She wasn’t about to tell him she couldn’t afford the pay cut.

His look said he wanted to know why she changed her mind, but he turned to Duncan instead. “If you want to walk her out, I’ll stop at the office and be right behind you.”

A nod answered. His hair was pulled back with a rubber band that looked like one he had grabbed from the office. She had heard comments about “hippies” wearing their hair that way, and often she agreed, but it was such a different look on him. It wasn’t messy, as she often thought. Instead, it was a subtle blend of “wild” and … Victorian. It reminded her of Victorian paintings featuring wealthy aristocrats.

Duncan stayed close as they made their way past the benches and treadmills, his arm nearly touching hers but slightly behind. “Do you and Ev always spend a lo’ of time together?”

“Whenever it fits our schedules. Why?”

“Just wondered wha’ exactly your relationship was.”

Their relationship? Why was he asking? She had to be careful, since he would likely repeat anything she said. “We’ve been friends forever, and I spend a lot of time with all of the guys.”

“Have y’ ever dated any of them?”

She stopped walking before they got closer to Shelly, hoping her inability to meet his eyes wouldn’t reveal her nervousness.

“Sorry, it is no’ my business.”

“Why did you ask?” Susie greeted another of the regular guys by name as he walked by and said hello, glancing curiously at Duncan’s ponytail.

Duncan waited until he was out of hearing range. “I wanted to know if it would bother anyone if I were t’ ask you out.”

She found his stare. “You don’t even know me.”

“I would like t’ get t’ know you.” The blue eyes peered into hers, holding her in silence until Evan joined them.


Susie pulled her eyes away and nodded, not sure what to make of Evan’s friend. She was used to getting looks, but most guys didn’t even approach her until they were used to having her around, and then it was only in a casual greeting. They all thought she was a snob. Especially the gym regulars who knew she was Evan’s friend and greeted her out of courtesy to him. But this one … was so direct … and so unnerving.

During the ride home, again sitting between them, Susie thought about how Evan had been keeping so much physical contact the last two days. Why? Was he trying to show Duncan they were close, or maybe reassuring her? Or were the occasional looks passed between her and his friend bothering him? Had Duncan told him he wanted to ask her out? If so, why would it matter? Evan only wanted her friendship. At least, she was pretty sure that was all he wanted. His expression, though, when he saw them standing so close together, alone in the gym…

“What are you thinking so hard about?”

She looked over at his voice. For a rare moment, she couldn’t speak to him.

“Suse? What?”

Swallowing hard to break herself out of her trance, she shook her head. “Nothing. Just … dance moves.” Which was the truth, figuratively. Their whole relationship recently seemed to be a dance; she was never sure which of them was leading, though.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Chat with Yvonne Walus

openbook2 Yesterday, I reviewed "Witch Hunts on the Internet" by Yvonne Walus. Today, the author graciously agreed to talk with us about the review and the book, as well as other bits of her work and life. Here's a little get-to-know-you from the woman behind the story:

LK:  Hi Yvonne, and welcome! I truly enjoyed your book and am glad to have this opportunity to dig deeper.

First things first: what made you decide to write Witch Hunts on the Internet?

YW:  The story was inspired by several news-breaking stories about the dangers of online dating. In one of them, a family man was arrested when he went to a motel to meet an underage girl he chatted up online (only, the girl didn’t really exist, her alias was used by a covert police operation).

That was the starting point, and I decided to find out more about men who chat to underage girls and about people who hunt them, sometimes using unorthodox methods to secure an arrest. I did it as a mother, as well as a writer. I needed to find out how to protect my children from predators: both online and in real life.

I wrote Witch Hunts on the Internet to tell parents and teenagers about what took me months of research to discover: it's all too easy to trust somebody you've met online. The level of intimacy is high when you chat one-on-one with a stranger: because they don't know you, you tend to speak your mind and reveal secrets you wouldn't share with a school friend. Your online "friend" always seems to listen and always seems to understand. They save your previous chats and emails and can easily refer to something you said a week ago, making you think that they really care about you. Before you know it, you mistake the online relationship for "real friendship" or "real love".

LK:  A very good point to remember for all of us!  Do you have any comments about the review? Please feel free to elaborate on or contradict anything I said.

YW:  The review is spot-on, thank you so much for taking the time to read the book and to think about it!

LK:  From your website, I see that you write in a variety of genres. Do you find it hard to switch between them?

YW:  In a nutshell, yes. You use a different language for different genres (I do anyway), so switching from a romance to a murder mystery to writing for young adults always takes a few days. I love all my genres, though, and I need the change to avoid writing to a formula. 

LK:  I'm always interested in multi-genre authors answering that question. My young adult novel has been stuck on a back burner until I can switch gears well enough, so I'm impressed with those who can jump back and forth. ;-)  

Speaking of jumping, how bumpy was your publication road? Or did you breeze right in the door?

YW:  It was bumpy all right: I have a thick folder full of rejection letters! I was lucky to find Echelon Press when they were starting out and wanted submissions from new authors.

LK:  A good "keep trying" hint for beginning writers!  Yvonne, your books are on the intense/dramatic side. Are you an intense person in reality or is this your balance or release?

YW:  Objectively speaking, I have to say I'm intense: When I love, it's fiercely. When I fight, it's with gusto. And when I'm furious with my boss, I kill him on paper ("Murder @ Work", Echelon Press 2004).

LK:  Ah! You have me laughing with that one!  Being so intense, what do you most like to do to relax?


  • Sleep
  • Read
  • Eat chocolate
  • Play with my children


LK:  Chocolate ... the elixir of many writers I know. ;-)  If you could describe your life in one word, what would it be?

YW:  Full

LK:  Tell us what you're working on now.

YW:  A novel for young adults, about a New Zealand tweenager and cell phone bullies. Internet chat rooms feature as well, LOL, and the working title is "Stranger Danger".

LK:  Sounds interesting! Thanks so much for being here, Yvonne!

YW:  Thank you for having me.

I think I'll have to check out Yvonne's Danger, Word Games! next, a bestseller at Red Rose Publishing.  Find more about Yvonne's work on her website:

How far would you go to protect your child?

To find out, read the thriller "Witch Hunts on the Internet" (Echelon Press) -

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Book Review: Witch Hunts on the Internet



Witch Hunts on the Internet
Yvonne Eve Walus

Echelon Press

Author Website:


I found this book when Yvonne asked me for a blog interview a couple of months ago. Last night, I finally read it.

Witch Hunts is an eerily realistic novella that made me think I was reading an actual journal entry of a scary moment in a mother's life. When she discovers her 13 year old daughter engaged in online chats with a man claiming to be 16, she does research. With her police background, she does very thorough research, to find her suspicions were right and the 16 year old is actually 40.

The novel follows her path to find the truth, complete with the emotional tensions of the mother. This is a fast read, at only 30 pages, but it stays with you, showing the reality of internet dangers for young people. It's very well written, gripping, and beginning and ending in a perfect manner for what the author was trying to accomplish. If I had a star rating, I would give this 9 out of 10.

The only thing I would critique is the title, since Witch Hunts were unreasonable and untrue scare tactics and the dangers of online predators are very real.

Read it, and then have your teenagers read it.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Different Drummer: Serialized #6


Rehearsal: A Different Drummer
LK Hunsaker

Infinity Publishing
©2006 All Rights Reserved

Are you following the story here? Do you want it faster? This week only, Rehearsal: A Different Drummer is on sale at Smashwords as part of Read An Ebook Week []. Buy it in whole to read on your computer or online at your own pace:

Different Drummer is only $4.50
Finishing Touches is only $2.62

And only this week -- ends March 14th

Of course, you can also get it in print personally signed from my website:

Also... I've been interviewed!

A.L. Marquardt and I chatted interview-style about creativity, art, and publishing.

On to the story...


Evan watched as she pushed a strand of hair from her face. He loved sitting outside with her during lunch, on the old weathered-gray picnic table beside the gym. She was in her element with the breeze brushing her skin and playing with her silky hair, and the branches above partly sheltering her from the sun. Susie had always loved the spring, when leaves and grass boasted their new green and the air was freshly cleansed by winter’s cold.

He was glad she asked to come in with them so they could have this time together, even if they weren’t alone. Duncan wasn’t saying much, though he often gazed at Susie from across the table, so they had time to catch up on what they missed during the busyness of the prior week.

Having exhausted conversation, she watched children on the nearby playground. Evan glanced over to find her focus and grinned about the small boy pushing a smaller girl on a swing. “Remind you of anything?”

She looked back and smiled. “You know, I always knew how to do it myself. I just wondered how long you would believe I couldn’t.”

He set a hand on her back. “I know. And I knew then.”

“You did not.”

He didn’t argue. His silence would answer as well.

“Then why did you keep pushing me?”

“Jeremy thought it was funny.”

“He knew that you knew? Why didn’t he tell me?”

“Because it was nice to see you smile for a change.”

She let her eyes wander back to the children. Her expression turned to thoughtfulness.

“Jeremy … your brother?”

Evan pulled his attention from her to answer his friend. “Yes. They were cohorts. Now and then I regretted teaching her sign language.”

“Sign language?” Duncan crossed his arms on the table in front of him and waited for an explanation.

Evan noted Susie’s glance, but he had to answer. “Jeremy was born deaf. She learned to talk to him much faster than we expected.” And she was wondering why he hadn’t told Duncan his brother was deaf, but she didn’t ask.

“Was tha’ the cause of the accident? Because he did no’ hear the car coming?”

“We’re not sure it was. The guy was driving so fast, it likely wouldn’t have made a difference.”

She looked at him again, then looked away. After all these years, Susie still couldn’t discuss it. She’d been the one outside with his brother at the time. Even with all their assurances, she wouldn’t stop blaming herself. She was twelve, Jeremy two years older. He knew better than to be on his bike after dusk, even if he did like splashing through rain puddles. It was his own mistake. She at least had the sense not to join him in his mission. Evan could have lost them both.

“You were friends with his brother also?” Duncan was studying her.

She hesitated. “Yes.” Her mood changed meeting his eyes. “And it was really unfair to Evan how we ganged up on him.”

He couldn’t help chuckling. “Yeah, and how many guitar strings did I lose that way?”

“Oh, you didn’t lose very many. We gave most of them back.”

“And some were still usable.” Evan took a swallow of his Coke and explained. “They used to untie them while I was away and refuse to give them back until I took them to the park. Occasionally, they got used for other things first.” He threw a look at Susie.

She tried unsuccessfully to hold back her laughter, reminding him of the fragile little girl he first knew. No matter how old they both got, he couldn’t imagine ever losing that image.

“You know….” She raised her own Styrofoam cup and sipped ginger ale through the straw. “I never told you this, but he proposed to me when I was eleven.”

Evan studied the profile of her face as she sipped more of the drink. Was she serious? Did his little brother beat him to it? “He what?”

She shrugged. “He said I was the only girl he could talk to, other than his mom, so if I didn’t marry him he wouldn’t be able to get married. I guess that was logical to a thirteen-year-old.” Susie looked down at her hands, playing with her napkin. “I told him to ask me again when I was his age because I wasn’t old enough yet.” She took a deep breath. “That was the first thing I thought of the day I turned thirteen. He’d said he would ask me again on that day.”

Less than a year after they had lost him. Evan wondered whether his brother would have actually asked her again. Knowing Jeremy, probably so. They had been very close.

“And wha’ would you have said?” Duncan waited until she looked up. “If he was around t’ ask you again? Would y’ have married him?”

“Well, thirteen isn’t as old as it seemed when I was eleven.” She was avoiding the question.

“No, bu’ would you still be together now? Engaged maybe?”

She was silent a moment. “Together as friends, I would hope, but not engaged. He was my buddy, like Stu. It wouldn’t have been more.”

Evan wished he could thank Duncan for asking what he wanted to know. He never would have. If she’d answered differently…

“Well, I need to get back to work.” She stood, gathering the discarded papers from her take-out sandwich and her still-half-full ginger ale.

He and Duncan did the same and followed her to the picnic area trash can, then to the well-worn path leading to the gym and studio.

“What time are you off?” Evan set a hand on her back before letting her walk away.

“Six.” She stopped. “Oh, you’ll have to wait an hour. I’m sorry, I didn’t think about that last night. I can try to get a ride from someone…”

“Angel, it’s fine.”

“You have practice at seven. That won’t give you much time…”

“I have things to do, anyway.” He looked at Duncan. “You mind staying until six?”

“No’ at all. I do no’ have plans.” He was watching her.

Other than practicing with them, Evan hoped. He hadn’t said for sure.

Susie pulled her eyes away from Duncan to answer. “Okay. I’ll come over as soon as I’m done.”

“We’ll meet you at the studio.”

Find a free read short story revolving around the loss of Jeremy at Smashwords

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Different Drummer: Serialized #5



Rehearsal: A Different Drummer
LK Hunsaker 

© 2006  All Rights Reserved


11 March 1974

Keeping her mind on the notes about what her students needed to practice proved impossible. She kept seeing the echo of Duncan’s eyes when he and Evan came to her door to escort her to work. The bright blue snares pulled her in, casting a gaze beyond simple flirting. Evan’s questioning look told her she had stared too long. He had shaved, the intensity showing even more with the bare skin accenting his rigid jaw line and eyes that were less tired. The handshake when they met was still as vivid as while he was still holding her.

He was the kind of guy she would avoid except that he was Evan’s friend, and Evan was more particular than most about whom he called a friend. He had a lot of acquaintances, and people naturally gravitated toward him, but he kept a wall between himself and others. Occasionally, he found someone he would let inside. Susie could count them on one hand: herself, his mom, her dad, Mike … and Duncan. Even Stu and Doug were still somewhere between acquaintances and friends, though she did count them as her friends. But she wasn’t quite as discerning. She needed people more than Evan did.

Deciding that trying to concentrate was a waste of time, Susie got up from the small work table in the teachers’ lounge and reclaimed the bag holding her cassettes and dance shoes. There had to be a free room at this time of the day, since most classes were in the afternoon and evening.

Walking down the quiet hallway, she paused for a moment to watch Janet teach an adult class. Her friend was great with adults and a good studio manager. Of course, she was nearly eight years older than Susie, three years older than Evan, but then, most of the teachers were closer to Janet’s age. Susie was the youngest, but just as qualified as anyone else working there. She had to remind herself of that now and then.

“Hi, Susie. You’re in early today.”

She smiled at Monica’s greeting. “I rode in with Evan.”

“How is he? I haven’t seen him here recently.”

“He’s fine, working longer hours since he’s been short-handed at the gym, and busy with the band, as usual.”

“Oh? Are they playing this weekend?”

“Friday night, at Maggie’s. You might want to come if you can. I think he’s talked his friend into playing and the new sound is great.”

“Maybe I will. Ronnie has cousins visiting and I don’t want them in my house all weekend.”

Susie chuckled as the bookkeeper left, and continued down the hall. They were the strangest couple. Monica was a straight-laced and highly intelligent business woman, the studio’s accountant, and Ronnie … well, Waylon Jenning’s Good-hearted Woman came to mind whenever Susie saw them together, thanks to Evan’s mom’s fervor for country music. Susie personally didn’t care for Ernest Tubb, or much of country music, though she did like that song. From what she’d heard of Waylon’s voice so far, she believed he should sing it himself and do a better job.

Finding an empty room, she slipped out of her flats and into her ballet shoes, beginning with a warm-up stretch, then falling in with the music. Thoughts of Evan and his friend dissolved into energetic strains of Mozart’s Symphony Number 40 and the luxurious feel of her muscles following years of training. She rarely wore toe shoes while working out, preferring the naturalness of the soft, well-worn slippers. Ballet was her first love, other than her parents. Evan was her second. She wasn’t sure which would come first if she ever had to choose.

She danced through the symphony and a serenade, then pulled her toe shoes on to practice her routine for the show. The theme was musicals and each teacher had chosen one musical to use for themselves and their students. She decided on “West Side Story,” with her four- and five-year-old ballet class dancing to I Feel Pretty, and the same age jazz class performing Cool. Her older students were covering the best songs on the rest of the soundtrack, with her soloist performing Tonight on pointe. It was her first show having a student in toe shoes, and she was more nervous about that routine than her own.

Susie was starting her section with Something’s Coming, dancing lead in jazz with her jazz students joining her, and they would end with her ballet students accompanying her solo on Somewhere. The teachers and assistants who actually spoke to her had given her compliments on the choreography. The others had been avoiding her even more.

The song ended and she glanced at the clock. Another hour until she went to meet Evan. Maybe she would be able to study her notes now that she had used some energy.