Monday, July 27, 2009

Wishing They Existed?

For the next two weeks, one of the blogs I’m a member of is featuring a heroes tribute, meaning fictional heroes in romance. I look forward to reading each post, in seeing the different and similar viewpoints about what defines a hero. Technically, a romance hero simply means the main male character. He can be in all different forms from moody and distant to funny but strong.

There are similarities within heroes of each writing era. In early days of genre romance it was normal for the hero to take what he wanted from his heroine. That was encouraged by publishers. Not so anymore. If you write that kind of hero in your novels now, good luck getting a publisher to accept it. Now readers want strong but good-hearted heroes, those who would never take advantage because of their strength. He does have to be willing to fight for his heroine in some form, though. Most end up in some kind of physical fight for their heroines, and yet in dealings with her, are very kind and soothing.

One of the excerpts posted on the Lindsay’s Romantics blog showed one of these hunks rescuing and then soothing his heroine. A comment asked why couldn’t there be heroes like that in real life.

Well, of course there are heroes like that in real life. I’ve seen plenty. I happen to live with one of my own. I think sometimes we don’t tend to notice what heroes our men are because of how toned down our world is as compared to medieval days of castles and armored knights. Also, in fiction we have the advantage of skipping over daily mundane activities such as grocery shopping and taking care of our certain personal needs no one wants to read about. We don’t have to show clothing dropped beside the bed instead of placed neatly in the bathroom hamper or dishes left on the counter instead of rinsed and dropped into the dishwasher. Those things don’t make good fiction except in comedic fiction where it’s used for effect. They do, however, tend to diminish our heroes in our eyes because we do have to deal with them on a daily basis.

How many of us women think our men wouldn’t actually step in to be our rescuer if needed? I happen to think most would. I know without a doubt mine would. Heck, he even asks people not to smoke in a non-smoking section for me. That may be a mild rescue, but it’s still a rescue and should be acknowledged as such.

Look at our soldiers. We have many heroes fighting for us on a daily basis, even though some of the population they’re fighting for may not approve of what they’re doing (and fictional heroines often don’t, IraqiWoman-HappySigneither, but still have a respect for them) and then coming back home to be loving husbands and fathers. Some of the sweetest images in my  mind are of these sturdy, strong, fearsome men who get off the bus and fall into waiting soft arms with tears in their eyes and kiss their babies on their cheeks.

There are, indeed, still heroes today. We may have to look beneath the chinked and faded armor, but they are around us. Sometimes it’s the heroine’s fault when a hero doesn’t act a hero. Sometimes we’re too busy looking at the annoying little things to bother seeing the hero within. That’s a shame.

~~ visit Lindsay’s Romantics this week and next to get your hero fix!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Indie vs. Traditional publishing debate

Should You Sign With A Legitimate Book Publisher or Self-Publish

I wrote an article for this debate today on Helium. The title of it was rather offensive to me. What do you think?

More on indie publishing coming soon, as I'm in process of going indie again, but differently.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Nickelback Freakin' ROCKS!

2214-600lkh18 July 2009
Post-Gazette Pavilion
Pittsburgh, PA
(actually Burgettstown, PA)

with Saving Abel, Papa Roach, and Hinder

Never mind this is a writer's blog and "freakin" isn't exactly "writer's vocabulary" material, and never mind that Chad Kroeger mentioned if you're going to do a job do it right, which means I should use the more powerful word: I keep this blog PG-13, so freakin' will have to do.

I went to see freakin' NICKELBACK last night at the Post-Gazette Pavilion. After wanting to go for years and watching the chances they got close enough pass by because the timing was not right, finally it was. All four of us went: me and hubby and the kids (only one is still a minor, barely). I won't mention what we paid for 4 tickets in the second tier of seats that were under the pavilion shelter and just behind the roadies taking care of the soundboard, plus the mandatory T-shirts, enough food not to starve, and drinks. Yikes. But we've waited a long time to be able to go and I wanted to actually SEE them in person not only on the monitor from the lawn.

This was also my first time at the Pavilion so I wasn't sure what to expect. I love outdoor concerts. I didn't like that rain was threateningOn the way to the concert -LK Hunsaker all day and did start up while ordering food. Luckily (especially lucky for those on the lawn), it held off and it was, as Chad said, a beautiful night for a Rock & Roll Concert!

The huge gravel parking area, even as early as we arrived, was packed full of tailgaters bbq'ing and chatting and playing bean bag toss games as we rolled by waiting for our chance to park. We ended up close to the south gate and waited in line until the gate opened at 5. Never mind the "illegal" smell while we waited, most fans were fairly reserved and we listened to the cacaphony of music coming from car speakers, much of it of course was Nickelback. At one point, we couldn't Waiting in line to get into the paviliondistinguish what any of it was since there was so much of it from all directions.

Inside the gate looks like a mini town with merchandise vendors as well as food and drink vendors. It's a nice atmosphere and I appreciated the sign saying there is lawn space set aside for families with no alcohol or smoking allowed.

Finding our seats, we were happy with how well we could see the lawn seatsstage, considering we bought the tickets only a week ago! Of course, it  was still daylight, so the first three bands were quite easy to see. I have to say I didn't know much about either Saving Abel or Papa Roach before last night except my kids like them and truly enjoyed  seeing them. I couldn't understand anything they were singing since the bass was pretty overwhelming. No matter. The kids knew the words. And so did much of the audience, apparently, since lots were singing along. I do know a couple of Hinder songs and enjoyed seeing them performed, although again the sound balance gave us more bass than anything.

Saving AbelPapa RoachHinder

I felt a bit like an old stick-in-the-mud sitting there just sitting and taking a few photos but not really getting into the whole thing. Those around me were dancing and singing and having a great time and I was watching the roadies change sets in between and the guys at the soundboard in front of me and the crowd and the security and the Roadies setting up for Nickelback event staff (research! a writer's gotta observe the details!). And standing up or twisting my knees sideways 50 times to let people walk back and forth out to and from the aisle. I know, when you go to a concert you should really just hang out and enjoy and relax ... but a writer who writes about music can't help the work aspect of it, also. *shrug*  If I had the nerve, I would have liked to go talk to the sound guys to ask them about their job. I don't have. Except maybe I will do that online. Stay tuned.

The stick disappeared when the band I went to see made its appearance. Along with the rest of the crowd, I was on my feet in full party mode (with soda instead of the tons of beer being consumed 2263-cp600lkharound me) cheering and yelling and singing along from the moment Nickelback took the stage. And they took the stage with a literal bang!  The light and sound effects were incredible -- major kudos to their techs.

Chad Kroeger Chad Kroeger was very funny, very likeable and flirty, very involved with the fans. They started with "Something in your Mouth" from the Dark Horse CD and kept rolling through songs and chatting in between. I was a bit surprised there were only a few Dark Horse songs in the show, but loved getting the All the Right Reason songs, and bringing the leads from Hinder and Papa Roach out to join them for AC/DC's Highway to Hell was a lot of fun. There was even a touch of country thrown in!

Daniel Adair's drum solo was glorious! But you have to hear it in person to truly understand how glorious it was. And if you're a drummer or ex-drummer, you can't help being transfixed. Nickelback on stage

Never mind too much camera focus on too-showy girls, since you have to expect that with Nickelback and most rock bands these days, I guess. It was an incredible show and by the third song, I was already thinking, "I've GOT to come see them again!"

I would like to make a public statement, here, though. When the staff tells you there is no smoking within the pavilion, would you listen, please? My husband asked several guys to put out their cigarettes because they were just in front of us and chain smoking and my allergies kicked in making me cough up a storm. Seriously, be a tiny bit considerate in public!  That goes for getting bombed or stoned out of your mind, as well. It's not fun for those around you when you do. Kudos to the event staff for kicking out the kids in front of us (yes, some of the smokers, two of whom got aggressive when hubby asked them not to smoke -- silly little boys considering who they were dealing with) who were falling all over the seats and climbing on them and pulling up the braless girl's shirt who was so out of it she won't remember the concert at all (with my 16 yr old right behind her). We paid to be there, for decent seats, and we had the right for those around us to be mannerly just as we were. Behave like humans or stay home. Maybe it was "Rock and Roll" but a lot of us were there for the music, not the debauchery. 

All in all, we left fully happy with a wonderful night of wonderful music and fun, and after sitting in the parking lot for half and hour waiting Light Effects until it even made sense to start the car and creep along out to the road, we went in search of a nearby hotel. We planned (last-minute) to stay the night since it was 70 miles from home and late, and then go in and run around Pittsburgh today while we were there anyway. Didn't happen. There were either 22,000 people at the concert (according to Hinder) or 19,000 (according to Nickelback) and it was sold out. That's a lot of people descending on Pittsburgh. There wasn't a hotel to be found in the area except a smoking room with only one bed 12 miles out. Instead, we grabbed food and a lovely cafe mocha from a very slow Eat & Park and headed back home at 2 am.

Wow, am I getting too old for that! I'm wiped out today. I don't know how the bands and roadies do it.

If Everyone Cared

If anyone is still reading this wordy review, I think you can click on the photos to see them larger. But please, they are copyrighted, so if you want your friends to see them also, send them here!

After the Concert and all is blurryIf you get the chance, GO see Nickelback live! Tell them I sent you. And then watch them look at each other and say, "Who?"  ;-)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Its & It's and Other Contractions

A friend posted a pet peeve on her Facebook the other day: using it's and its incorrectly. 

I agree. It bugs me to no small extent, especially when, unlike many English grammar rules, this one is easy enough to remember and use. So for the sake of other authors (as I've seen it misused by authors too often) as well as for anyone who cares about her grammar being correct and non-irritating, here's the rule:

When it's is a contraction, meaning it is, use the apostrophe: It's raining today.

When its shows possession, on the other hand, leave the apostrophe out: The rain made its leaves shiny.

Simple. Of course, it doesn't work that way with other contractions. For instance, "John's going to work" and "John's boat is orange" both use the apostrophe. So the only thing to remember is that if ITS shows possession, DON'T use an apostrophe. If you can change it to "it is" use it, but not otherwise.

Other apostrophes that mess people up are with plural possessives. A lady's dress is straightforward, but what about when there's more than one lady? If we have 3 ladies with 3 dresses, it would be: The ladies' dresses.  However, if the one lady's name is Jess, it would be Jess's dress, just like it would be Joan's dress. Simple?

If the possessive is plural to begin with, don't add an S after the apostrophe (do add the apostrophe!). If the possessive is singular, as in there's only one Jess, then add the S after the apostrophe.

But please, don't apostrophe a plural!  Trees are plural. NO apostrophe! One rabbit that multiplies becomes two rabbits, NOT two rabbit's. Rabbit's implies one rabbit owns (shows possession of) something, such as the rabbit's hole. Or if a group of rabbits own a hole together, it becomes the rabbits' hole (no S at the end because it's plural AND possessive).

Many new writers think they can rely on their editors (plural, no apostrophe) to catch these things. Unfortunately, I've seen many editors who didn't and the books go out with apostrophe mistakes. For those of you who write professionally, or plan to, don't rely on your editor for grammar knowledge. Learn it the way a mechanic has to learn how to build an engine, with all parts in the right places. That's your job.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Author Interview: David McClain

 Tor's Book Cover

       An Interview with David McClain

Find David's blog at


    Find Keeper of the Word at


Keeper of the Word
is David McClain’s debut book of short stories, independently published in 2008, and one of the best indie books I’ve had the privilege to read. His stories speak of who he is: spirited, spunky, earthy, and truly original. His writing blog is highly popular and his followers become quickly loyal. It’s easy to see why once you dig into the stories he’s collected in his first book.

I’m honored to be counted among David’s friends and am happy to offer this interview that, as far as I know, is his first.

So, Hello David! Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions!

DM: Hi Loraine, and thanks for giving me this opportunity. You are correct, this is the first time getting interviewed for me and I don't mind telling you, I am just a bit nervous. If I stick my foot in my mouth just edit the heck out of me! So go ahead and fire the questions at me lady....I will try my best to make some sense of my answers.

LK: Ah, no need to be nervous. We're all friendly here. ;-)  First off, let me post the cover blurb for Keeper of the Word here. I generally review a book before asking the author for an interview and allow him or her to respond, but this time, I’m using the blurb and asking if you have comments about it:

"Reminiscent of cowboy storytelling around the campfire, Keeper of the Word is an eclectic mix of short stories with a wide range of genres. In his first published collection, David McClain uses a charming conversational style that keeps us pulled in to every word, waiting for what we soon learn will come at the end of each story: the “a ha” moment, humorous or thoughtful or eyebrow-raising. Running the gamut from romance to fantasy, from thriller to mainstream, each story has a constant theme – a pondering of life and love well-blended to touch the reader’s hearts."

DM: Well every time I read that blurb, the first thing that goes through my mind is: “They can't be talking about me can they?” Maybe it is because the blurb appears on the first book I ever published, but it always just seems unreal when I see my name in print....on a book....that strangers will buy and read. I always think there must be another David McClain out there doing this stuff.

LK:  I know what you mean!  David, you consider yourself a Storyteller, as it states in your introduction. What do you think is the biggest difference between a “writer” and a “storyteller”?

DM: This is just my opinion, but to me a writer is someone who is in love with their words. They want to create a word masterpiece that will be admired like the Mona Lisa hanging in the Louvre. Now don't get me wrong, that's not a bad just isn't me. As a storyteller, I am not so much in love with the words as I am concerned with connecting with the reader. When I write a short story or a novel I tell the tale as if I were telling it to a friend sitting on my front porch, sharing a cold drink on a hot day.

I know you have seen writers out there, some very famous, who use three paragraphs to describe a tree to the readers. Wordy. They use a ton of words to describe the tree. Sometimes this detracts from the story they are trying to tell. As a storyteller, I want you to SEE the tree but not get too caught up in admiring the tree and forget the world of the story I am trying to draw you into. A storyteller wants you, the reader, to be able to slip comfortably into their make believe world and become immersed in the story.

LK:  Excellent point. There is a line between showing and showing too much. And as I've read your stories, I know they have a very comfortable feel, as though you're reading it to me. Now, what shall we drink?  ;-)

From reading your blog, I know you use bits and pieces of your own life to create stories, such as your growing up years, your current job, and your military background. Do you ever pause and wonder if you’re revealing too much? Do you find it hard at times to write so personally?

DM: Someone once said that writing a book was easy, all you had to do was sit at a typewriter and open a vein. I believe that, and part of “opening a vein” is to pour a large portion of yourself into some of your characters. I have never wondered if I was revealing too much but only that I was being honest with the feelings. For that reason, in some of my stories I have drawn from my own feelings and experiences to flesh out a bad guy in the story. I have always believed that every person has both good and evil within them and both can be used to create characters.

LK:  I'm sure that's true, although some of us would have a hard time admitting our villains come from within! If we're honest, where else would they truly come from? I love the "open a vein" line.

Your stories and style remind me quite a bit of Frank Delaney’s Ireland where a storyteller is traveling around the country sharing passed-along stories of Ireland. Both books include touches of humor along with some kind of explanation or moral or come-uppance at the end of each story. It’s a rare style among today’s books. Why do you think that is?

DM:  Well first of all I have not read Mr. Delaney's work but it sounds good. I was affected at an early age by the works of a man who in my opinion was the greatest storyteller of all time: O'Henry. I have the complete works of O'Henry on my shelves today and from time to time I will pick up one of the books and read some of his great short stories again. From "The Ransom of Red Chief" to "The Gift of the Magi," all his stories had some sort of moral or twist at the end which would mete out cosmic justice to those who needed it.

Why do we not see more of it in this day and age? Maybe it is because in today's society nobody is to blame for anything. People are no longer interested in taking responsibility for anything they do so they really aren't interested in seeing a character pay for whatever they did wrong in a story.

LK:  Good point. So do you have a favorite story in “Keepers of the Word”?

DM:  Oh Loraine, that's a tough one. Do you have a favorite you love more than the others? That is the way I feel about my short stories. But, if you insist on making me make a's a tie. There are two stories that are my favorites of that collection.

1. Mulligan--- As you know, Mulligan is a golf term meaning a “Do-over.” If a golfer hits a bad shot and lands in the rough, he can take a “Mulligan” and take the shot over. In this story all the stars align just right and one dark, snowy night, a man actually gets the opportunity to use a “Mulligan” to make things right in his life.

2. The Last Battle of Arwin Hawken--- This story showcases the fact that a man is never too old to stand up for Justice and take a stand for Honor and the woman he loves.

LK:  What genre(s) of books do you normally read and why did you choose to include a variety of genres within this collection?

DM:  This one is simple. I chose a variety of genres because I READ a variety of genres. I guess it also helps that I never know what genre one of my stories will fit into until I finish it. The story always has a life of its own and I am sometimes surprised at how one turns out.

LK:  Just for fun, if you could choose three songs to take with you to a year-long writing retreat and be limited to only those songs, what would they be and why?

DM:  Dang girl, that is another tough one...just three? Well okay, I will give it a try.

1. Music of the Night---From the musical Phantom of the Opera. You sure I can't take this whole CD? This music always helps to sooth my mind and allows the words to flow.

2. The Breaking of the Fellowship---Instrumental done by a Celtic group and from the movie Lord of the Rings.

3. And finally, Like Two Sparrows in a Hurricane by Tanya Tucker. I love bthis song because it reminds me of my wife and how much I love her.

LK:  Oh! Music of the Night is one of my all-time faves, also! Very inspirational!  I love all your choices, actually.  :-)

I have to ask this one: What is your favorite part of writing?

DM: I call it “The Birthing,” that magic moment when the first seed of the story starts to take root in my head. It grows and grows until I am literally forced to sit down at the computer and transfer the words from my head to the screen. I never know, when I start writing a story, how that story will end. Heck, many times a character will die in the story and I am shocked. I had not intended them to die....the story had its own path....I am just there to put it down in words.

LK:  Great description of it!  That is an incredible feeling. Of course we want to know what you’re working on now. How’s it coming?

DM:  I am currently putting the finishing touches on a novel: The Time of the Troubles, that I first wrote back in 1992. After it was finished, I promptly put it in a box under my bed and forgot the thing. I have about four more chapters to edit and then I have to add two or three chapters at the end because I just didn't like the way the original ended. When I wrote this novel I set it in the early 21st century and it deals with an Islamic terrorist attack upon America which ends up causing a breakdown in law and order in the country. Looking back now, this premise seems almost prophetic. I plan on publishing that work within the next four or five months.

As soon as I have that project ready to go, I am going to start a sequel to it. I had not planned on doing a sequel, but after I let my oldest son read the novel, he insisted it was needed.

I am also working on a second book of short stories. I plan on using a number of new stories and a group of stories that I didn't have room for in the first book.

LK: Prophetic indeed. Strange when that happens, isn't it? I look forward to its publication and hope it has a good ending. ;-) 

One more quick question: if you could choose one book title to describe your life (title, not contents) what would it be?

DM: Dreams Come True, If You Live Long Enough!

LK:  David, thanks again for taking the time to talk with us. Is there anything you would like to add?

DM:  I would just like to say “Thank You” again for this opportunity to talk about what I love...writing. I would also like to say to all of your readers: If you are a writer, I don't care what kind of writer you are, or what you like to write, please never lose sight of the prize. No matter how hard it is, no matter what kind of roadblocks you have to overcome, all the effort, all the work is worth it in the end. The first time you hold a book in your hands with YOUR name on it you will know a rush, and a high that nothing else in the world can give you. Whatever money you make is just icing on the cake.

Stay true to that little voice in your head that whispers the story to you and keep pounding those is well worth it in the end.

Thank you.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Public Enemies

When a new Johnny movie premieres, I tend to be there opening day. So, we went to see Public Enemies this afternoon, although our local theater wasn't bothering to play it. Yes, I drove the 30 miles on opening day to check out Mr. Depp's newest work.

It was well worth it.

I won't go on about what a great job he did because anyone who has followed him knows he does, and he did. Incredible as usual. But there are many other reasons to see this film.

It's history. John Dillinger was considered a hero by much of the public in the 1930s. It was in the midst of the depression when everyone was angry about how the banks handled things so badly and people lost so much (sound familiar?). Dillinger grabbed lots of it, but never took it from individuals inside the bank, telling them he didn't want their money, only the bank's. Of course there's a bit of logic missing there since people fund the bank money, but only to an extent. They're making bunches off our money and they did then, and when they mismanage it's of course not only their money they lose. So in a time of no sympathy with or high opinion of bankers, Dillinger struck gold with public opinion.

It's societal. I don't want to say too much and spoil anything but there are points made that we need to consider as a society. Dillinger was considered Public Enemy Number One. But what of the Chicago cops taking bribes from gangsters to leave them alone? What of the police brutality? What about being overly punished for minor offenses? Those things build the criminal element, as they helped to build Dillinger's power and public sympathy for him. And they still happen.

It does not glamorize criminal life. It shows straight out the costs, very high costs, of taking that route, with no actual gain. A good lesson there.

It's artistic. This film was very well made. It's not overly gory for being a gangster film. It has beautiful effects that add to the imagery without being over the top. It truly is art, which I don't find a lot of on the big screen anymore.

It's well worth watching. It's even worth supporting, something I also don't find much in Hollywood these days.

The next one I look forward to is The Ugly Truth. That should be a riot!