Friday, December 28, 2012

Story and Plot: What’s the Difference?

Thinkin1986Some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity…”
Gilda Radner

In my last post, I mentioned how literary fiction focuses on the Story but doesn’t have to worry much about plot. Since I was asked what I meant, and since story and plot are often used interchangeably, I thought I’d address the question in long form instead of in a comment. I know, real surprise that I’d write something in long form. ;-)

peartree2Plot is an outline. Whether an author uses an actual outline while writing a novel, the outline is inferred. It’s what happens and in what order it happens. It’s the bones of the book, the base characters start with and the bends and curves they use to develop. If someone asks you what a book you just read is about, you’re likely to give them the plot (hopefully you won’t reveal the ending).

Commercial fiction, or genre fiction, is plot insistent. Readers used to a certain genre expect each book in that genre to do certain things. For instance, in romance, readers expect two characters to meet and see an attraction, to get together, to have an obstacle that tears them apart or threatens to tear them apart, and then to get back together for the happily ever after. That is the base plot of the romance genre. Stretch it too far with too many other aspects, and readers will say the plot was slow or not tight enough. The plot must follow the genre demands. Writers have to know what those demands are and not following them precisely enough can lead to unhappy reviews.

Story, on the other hand, is a far larger concept.

“In striving to make sense of life, persons face the task of arranging their experiences of events in sequences across time in such a way as to arrive at a coherent account of themselves and the world around them.”
Michael White and David Epstein

Story is not only what happens but the ‘why’ it happens and the ‘what’ that happens because it happened. Story has depth. It has feeling. It has history. (In fact, “story” comes from the Latin “historia” meaning an event that has happened.)

Stories tell us who we are and why we react as we do.

Trees at Mom's”Our identity is constituted by what we ‘know’ about ourselves, how we describe ourselves and how others describe us through story.
“We are implicitly grounded in and guided by stories.
“Power and knowledge is inextricably interrelated in story.”
”Self is a Story, a collection of stories.”

Dee Preston Dillon, PhD

Story is far more powerful and encompassing than plot because it has depth of emotion, it has feeling and understanding and questioning. In the same way that when we give someone our biography, we give them where we were born and how many siblings we had and where we went to school and what we studied and when we married, had children, etc., we are giving them the plot of our lives, when we tell them of our dreams and plans and thoughts and wishes and regrets and fears, we give them our Story.

All fiction has Story. Some of it is broad, some narrow, some of it focuses on a couple of main factors of life and ignores the rest, some of it is long and winding and brings in family backgrounds and social issues. It all has story of some extent. The more Story that’s involved, the more understanding and empathy and reach a novel has.

treesinback-withclouds4All fiction has plot of some kind, as well. Some of it is tight and fast, some of it is meandering and picks up streams and ponds at every opportunity, some is a mix of mostly tight but with some meanders. Every kind has its loyal readers.

Just as no one hero would be right for every heroine, no one kind of novel is right for every reader. Some of us like to test all kinds of waters before we settle on one kind. Some find the one they like and stay right there. Others never settle on one. To each his own. ;-)

“The evolution of lives is akin to the process of reauthoring, the process of persons’ entering into stories, taking them over and making them their own.”
Michael White and David Epstein

[quotes taken from a presentation by Dr. Preston-Dillon: Grounding Sandplay Therapy- Narrative and Active Imagination, Sep 2009]

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Books (and other things) to Talk About


The past couple of nights, I’ve had dreams about writing things – very vivid concrete dreams I was taking as memories and trying to figure out where I was when they happened.
Both were about my direction and doubts about whether it’s the right direction.

What triggered the memory of the latest dream was the NOOK Pinterest folder titled “Books to Talk About.” Their page has several folders for different genres and categories. I found it interesting that the Books to Talk About are all literary fiction (Cutting For Stone, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Sarah’s Key, The Art of Racing in the Rain…). I think part of the reason for the dreams is due to a conversation with a fellow author. He asked my genre and I told him it’s a cross between literary fiction and romance. After the strange look I’m used to getting, he said he wasn’t sure why people wrote lit fic since it doesn’t sell.

I can’t argue. Lit fic is a hard sell. It is. They tend to be fairly long. The plots (or stories, since plot isn’t an essential element in lit fic) tends to be complex and wide. The characters tend to have, and reveal, their backgrounds and family history to the extent it affected their personal development, plus or rather, their societal history that does the same. You know, like real life.

The trouble is a lot of people just aren’t that enthralled with real life and would rather escape when they read. I don’t blame them for that at all. Real life is tough. At least for most of us it is. Now, during the Christmas season, it seems to be more tough than normal for a lot of people. I think the biggest reason for that is, just like we think we need things because the almighty TV says we are supposed to want them, during the Christmas season, we think we are supposed to be joyful and all is supposed to be right and we can see it’s not and it bothers us more than usual that it’s not.

Well, right. There are always things that aren’t “right” in the world and in our small areas. We are all struggling with something or the other. Granted. Still, I read literary fiction0420lkh100 for the same reason that during the struggles, I can still feel the joy there is in Christmas and in daily life, also. I choose to see potential for better. I choose to see the good things, such as the beauty of trees in fog even though it’s scary to drive in fog, and the beauty of swirling snow against a black sky even though it makes roads less safe and threatens power outages.

I read literary fiction because it helps me to understand what I don’t go through myself. I see the world in a much larger perspective. Yes, I see people struggling. I also see them get through it, or if they don’t, I can see that they could have if they had chosen to do so. I see choice. I see growth. I see potential. And I see the “why” instead of just the “what” and that enthralls me.

My personal opinion is that all lit fic should hold uplifting potential and should have light through the dark. I tend to do that with humor and with natural beauty and with a helping hand offered at the right time and such. I will rate a book low if it is too dark with not enough light added. I see no point in focusing on the bad without enough good to balance it. It’s my choice.

I also choose to add plenty of romance because, let’s be honest, romance/love/lust/passion are the center of our lives. Everything revolves around that. Romance is always the best-selling genre. People want it. [Unfortunately, “romance” is often equated with sex and lust. There should be a whole different category for sex and lust and they should be firmly separated, since sex is a whole different thing than romance and people should understand that, as well. What I write, along with my lit fic, is actual romance, the development of the relationship.] Plus, a good romance in a story helps dispel the dark just as it does in real life. We all know this.

In my dreams, I understand the opposing viewpoint, the one telling me I won’t get anywhere by bucking the tide. Well, maybe not, but I do hope my books will end up in a “Books To Talk About” list at some point. Conversation is good. It’s necessary. I’ve seen so many comments where people tell others, “This isn’t the time to talk about…” this or that. Well, I have to disagree. If it’s something someone needs to talk about, then it is the time to talk about it. Talk is good. Thinking and pondering are good. Understanding what you don’t live through yourself is very good. We need to do more of that.

So, as in my dreams, I will stick to my guns (so to speak) and keep writing about real life and real people and real events because these things are necessary to talk about. If my only success is that I get a handful of people to think about or talk about something they wouldn’t otherwise, that’s success enough … at least for my lit fic.

A little side project in the meantime doesn’t hurt. More on that later.

I hope all of you find the joy and happiness you wish for this Christmas season and always. 0385lkh

[Balloon photo ©K. Hawkins]

Friday, December 21, 2012


0387-lkh100So we’ve bridged past another doomsday prediction date. Should I not speak so soon since there’s part of a day left?

I don’t quite understand the penchant of so many wanting or choosing to believe in any or every one of these things that come and go. What is it in people that makes them continue to look for the last days of earth? Me, I’d rather focus on how much I can get out of every day I have, however many that happens to be, without worrying too much about ‘that’ day, whatever that day is.

On that note, I have Rehearsal: Of Chaotic Currents released. Congrats to Anna, the Goodreads giveaway winner out of over 200 who entered!  Also, congrats to Lorraine who won the gift basket at my local Book Release party!

How about I throw in another last minute giveaway? I have 2 ebooks of Chaotic Currents I’ll give away either from Smashwords in the format of your choice, or in pdf version via email. Just reply to this with a quick comment to say what you’d do if you thought it was your last day on earth.

Let’s give it a week. I’ll have someone draw a name on the 28th, sometime eastern standard time.


Rehearsal: Of Chaotic Currents
LK Hunsaker

The Raucous crew is on the road moving along toward the end of the Seventies. With several number one hits and a UK tour, the band is set for bigger things and larger adventures. Along the route, false rumors and relationship strains abound, and a dangerous curve threatens to overturn their journey.

When a sudden explosion rocks them to their cores, the band members, management, and fans question their future.

Elucidate Publishing
December 2012
ISBN 978-0-9887120-3-4

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12-12-12 and other numbers

FBprofileDec2012Water and numbers.

Doesn’t it seem as though we live our entire lives around those two things?

Of course we need water to survive physically. I suppose numbers help us survive mentally just the same. After all, we are creatures of needed organization. We can’t function without it. Calendars. Rooms. Neighborhoods. States. Pencil holders. Our brains even group those we meet into where we meet them and are used to seeing them for the sake of organization and recall.

Some of us, even with every kind of organization in the world available to us, don’t seem to grasp it well. I say this as I realize it was October when I last posted here.

Yesterday I met with the very kind lady who is hosting my newest book release party at her coffee shop. The release is for the third book of the Rehearsal series. I happened to mention I was in editing for book 2 of the series. She gave me a strange look and said, “How can you be editing book 2 when you’re selling book 3?” (not exact, but that meaning)

Right. Well. My response: “When you’re an indie author, you can do what you want with your books.”

Book 3 has a much different cover than the first 2. And, I’m several years more experienced than when I put out the first 2. I’m re-editing both 1 & 2 and they will come out again with new covers to match book 3. Confused yet? Wait till you read book 3, which you could read first if you like but you’d miss some good stuff in 1 & 2. But hey, read outside the numbers. Grab #3 first! I threw in enough background you shouldn’t be lost and you can always go back and read #1 later if you want more detailed background. #1 is re-edited and back online as an ebook. As soon as #2 is done (again), it’ll be back as an ebook, and I predict that will be soon (hopefully before the end of the year, but not a promise, and it’ll take that long to read #1 if you do want to start at the beginning).

Yes, it’s a very long series. It starts in 1974 and goes through 1986, with a sequel already in the works, and I have the germ of an idea for a prequel, as well. I happen to think it’s worth the time to read, but what do I know? I’m the author. I adore my characters. And I’ve spent … oh, about … 30 years with them in development by now. There’s a number for you. I think it’s an impressive number.

I started writing it seriously in 1996. Wonder if I can get the last of the series (#6) done and out by 2016. Hey, there’s a goal. We’ll see how it works. I like goals. I need goals the way most need water and numbers.

Book #4 is close to finished, as well. It’ll be out next year. In the meantime, I plan to re-release #1 & #2 in print format and finish my lit fic. Yikes. Maybe too much of a goal.. but then, there’s another nearly ready to release, as well. If you click on that image at the top of this post, you can get a preview of my new sidetrack project. (Sidetrack should be my middle name.)

I sure hope 12-21-12 is not the last day of earth. I have too many things to do yet!

Happy 12-12-12!

If you expect to be around and kicking with the rest of us after 12-21, go sign up for my Goodreads Giveaway for book 3 – Rehearsal: Of Chaotic Currents.

It’s not a quick read. It’s a heck of a lot of story in 612 pages with some incredible character development and very close third person POV. That’s the way I write. Eventually I’ll get the page for it put up on my site. Yikes, this year has flown by like a blue whale in the Atlantic.

Reh-OfChaoticCurrents-100medRehearsal: Of Chaotic Currents
LK Hunsaker
Elucidate Publishing
December 2012
ISBN 978-0-9887120-3-4

[Have a Pinterest site?? Pin this image! Many, many thanks!]

My Pinterest page has it up there already if you’d rather find it and REPIN instead.

By the way, I’m selling my stock of the first 2 Rehearsal books at clearance price to make way for the new editions. Interested? Email me!


Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Next Big Thing

I was tagged by Dawn Colclasure. After you check out my next big thing, go check out her Next Big Thing!

The rules of the blog hop are simple: Answer ten questions about your WIP (Work in Progress) and tag five more writers/bloggers to do the same. A chain of links will lead you, dear reader, to a forest of wonderful writers all busy creating new books just for you… or so I'm told. So here's my contribution to the chain.

What is the working title of your book?

Rehearsal: Of Chaotic Currents

Where did the idea come from for your book?

This is book 3 of a 6 book series (originally meant as a 4 book series but it has grown!). The idea came way back when I was a pre-teen following my favorite band of the moment. I’m a curious sort, and so I always wondered what their lives were like behind the music, behind the fame. As a kid in the middle of the Midwest and all of its glorious cornfields, I had to use my imagination. The basic story and main characters were created them. Over time, I did plenty of research into music background stuff. Of course, I’ve never actually toured with a band, so I’m not claiming every detail is true, but it’s as close as I can possibly make it (unless a touring band out there wants to invite me and hubby along). It is fiction and imagination, but with many true things thrown in.

What genre does your book fall under?

No neat “market” genre. It’s what I call Literary Romance, a mix of the two genres, as is most of my work.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

That’s a tough one. Susie is very slight and 5’2”. She’s half Irish descendent and half Native American, with blue eyes, pale skin, and very dark straight hair. Evan is powerfully built, a football type, of Irish-English descent, short brown hair, brilliant brown eyes, 5’10”. Duncan is smaller at 5’9” but muscular, Scottish (accent and all), dark brown hair slightly wavy when it’s wet, blue eyes, with model looks.

Then we have Stu the keyboardist who has a slight build, medium brown hair and a humorous laid-back slightly raunchy attitude; Mike the lead singer with an average build and dark blonde longish hair and a bit of a chip on his shoulder; Doug the drummer with light brown hair and better than average build, along with a gentle grounded nature; Kate who is fiery and independent, a small-time model by trade, with wavy brunette locks; and Alison, the all-American girl who fights a few extra pounds and works in her family’s restaurant while studying to be a teacher.

I’m not horribly familiar with actors, not enough to find ones who match, but I’d love to hear reader suggestions for matches!

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Raucous surges its way up the musical ladder and abroad, until a detour reroutes their path and threatens the band’s livelihood.  (Just created it: how does it sound?)

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

All of my books are self-published. I studied the market well before I started and their way of publishing doesn’t work for me. No offense to the industry or industry authors, only a personal thing. I have no plans to try for a contract or an agent, although I suppose if I were offered a big advance, I could consider that direction. Depending on terms.

How long did it take to write the first draft of your book?

That’s hard to say exactly. Way back in 1996, I started writing this story on paper with pencil in scenes here and there as they came to me. I will say the 2nd of the series came out in 2008 and I’ve worked on it off and on since then but I’ve also published three other books since then. Also, what will be book 4 was originally part of this one. It got too long, so I recently separated it.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Also hard to say, since I don’t know of other books called Literary Romance, but I do know of other authors who write about music/bands, sometimes with romance thrown in: Jessica Bell (also a musician), Susan Gottfried, Michael Scott Miller..
Who or what inspired you to write this book?

That was answered above. It was basically my love of music and curiosity about the inner workings of people and relationships.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Basically, this is a series that revolves around a rock band in the 70s (and a bit beyond) that is also an in-depth relationship study, to include not only love relationships but also friendship and family, with cultural/societal backgrounds plus plenty of mentions of the major bands and singers of the era.

My characters are very in-depth. You will feel like you truly know them and what drives them to the extent you could guess what they would do in any given circumstance. Chances are very good you might fall in love with at least one of them.

Note: The first two books of the series will be re-published to match the covers of the rest of the series. Cover reveal to come soon! Stay tuned (pun intended).

Blogs I’m tagging:

Firefly’s Locket
Malla Duncan
Amanda Borenstadt
E.A. Irwin
Thomas Wilson

Technorati Tags: ,,,,

Monday, September 24, 2012

Quietly Creeping Back

Sunflower: acrylic on canvas

I hear echoes throughout my blog as I type, whispers of “Is it her or did someone hijack it?”

What a long and short summer it was: long due to constant activity and short due to constant activity. I’ve been wearing a sweatshirt and slippers around the house for a couple of weeks now, since it leapt into fall, far before I was ready. I want 80+ degrees again already, not frost warnings. Something tells me it might be a long winter, as well.

The good part of that is that I hibernate as much as humanly possibly when it’s cold. That means it’s a good time to get indoor work done.

Yesterday, I hit the end of the next-to-final draft of Rehearsal 3 (it was draft 6), and I started sending out review copies to my willing editors. It’s a long one, the longest thing I’ve written to date. I won’t order many copies to keep here, since it’s over 800 pages and these days, short books are in vogue. I’ve never been an “in vogue” type. I don’t care much about fashion and what color is in this year. I like comfort. Jeans and tees are good. I’m earthy and casual and would rather spend my time working than studying current styles or, ugh!, clothes shopping. I’m just as I am and that’s okay.

I used to care more about that; teenagers generally do so that’s no surprise. It took me far too long to not care, though.

I was just talking to a young writer friend who borrowed my copy of Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain. She’s a fellow introvert, and we both have social anxiety issues. I’m also a high self monitor. She’s a low self monitor who doesn’t understand not just being who you are. She’s right, of course. We all should just be who we are.

So I had to stop and think why, if I feel that way, I’m a high self monitor. It comes off as being fake to others. I understand that position. I disagree, though. It’s a part of who I am just as much as anything else.

I thought back to my high school days, when much of our personalities become so intensely developed. Yes, I do still remember them, regardless of how long I haven’t been there. Back then, as I told her, there was no such things as ADHD. Those kids were only lazy daydreamers and often written off as not likely to achieve much. There was no big push to stop bullying. We were expected to learn to deal with it as part of life and just keep truckin’ along. Teens did not go to therapy back in the Eighties (or very rarely). Parents darn well expected them to fit in to their school environment and excel regardless of how it didn’t fit all of us. So what? That’s life. Deal with it. If we didn’t excel, we had only ourselves to blame.

Sound harsh? Maybe. On the other hand, many of us did learn coping skills kids today don’t, because they don’t have to. Someone else helps find ways for them to cope, be it medication or therapy. Not that there’s anything implicitly wrong with either (heck, I have a psych degree – obviously I believe in therapy), but like so many things, it has swung so far the other direction that coping skills is a term too many don’t even understand.

Would I have felt better back then if I knew I was so easily distracted and constantly thought about 50 things at the same time and wrote stories in my head during class when the particular topic wasn’t interesting enough because my brain is different than “normal” people? That there was a physical reason I felt different and had so much trouble making myself do homework even though it wasn’t hard. (It was rarely hard; it was boring, which is far worse to some of us.) Yes. Probably I would have. I feel better now knowing it.

On the other hand, I learned to teach myself coping skills. And it worked. I can be proud that I did that on my own, with no one even realizing what I was doing.

Either way, I’m still a high self monitor. Although I have a hard time being out and around people (and some days are worse than others), I have taught myself to do book signings with a genuine smile and to actually enjoy talking to folks I don’t know. That’s not me naturally. It’s me as I need to be in order to market my books. Is that fake? No. I come home exhausted. I still spend as much time away from people as I can. But I’m coping, and this year, I don’t even have a stress migraine all the next day as I did every day last summer after signings.

So, now that is me, also. It’s me training me, out of my own self-interests. It’s what I had to learn to do back in high school and it’s serving me well now. Honestly, from what my family says, that IS me as I was when I was young: friendly, outgoing, sociable. Maybe my “fake front” is not fake. Maybe that’s the real me and this social anxiety is the fake part that needs to be pushed aside.

Will I ever change to low self monitor instead of high? Probably not. Control is a big part of who I am. I’m okay with that. It’s what I can deal with.

Fall/winter is wonderful for half of me. It’s hibernation time. However, I do so look forward to spring/summer when I crawl back out of that shell and into society in order to indulge the other half of me. Nature is a beautiful thing.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Lessons from Baseball

7635lkhI love baseball.

Every summer I can remember as a pre-teen and maybe earlier, I was out there on the field, ignoring the heat and humidity and my pollen allergies, doing warm-up calisthenics (hated those at the time) and rotating positions (usually right field but now and then left field or third base – loved third base) and hoping like heck I’d actually connect with that softball when it was pitched. When I connected, I hit well. Very well. The problem was connecting. It flustered me to no end that I didn’t connect every time I went up to bat. My average … well, I have no idea what it was, but it wasn’t great. My energy level, physically, has always been on the low side. My stress/nerve level made up for it and was always on the high side.

7611-lkhAs I got older, the stress of the game interfered. I wasn’t hitting well enough. I got to play less often although my field play was pretty decent as I remember. When it came time to switch to high school league instead of summer league, I switched modes and became team ‘manager’ instead. Basically, I was scorekeeper. Hey, I was still involved, I told myself.

My older sister and I used to sit in our shared bedroom and watch the Cardinals and the Dodgers (back when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn) on our tiny black and white TV that we were thrilled to have. A TV in a bedroom! That was really cool to us. (Those of you who grew up with a color TV, a computer, and a game system in your bedrooms just can’t understand, sadly.)

7697lkhThese days, hubby and I watch the Pirates on our flat screen color TV that’s not horribly big (or as big as hubby would like) but big enough I have to keep a certain distance away so it doesn’t hurt my eyes. I don’t know if it’s because the game is easier to see that way or if my focus has simply changed, but I notice things these days I didn’t before.

1) No matter how well a player does in the field, if he isn’t batting well, he gets benched. This even applies to those with .250 averages (which is a good batting average). If they run into a string of bad luck, they receive mandated thinking time or regrouping time in the form of watching his fellow players succeeding better. Lesson: We all have bad days/times. Watching others doing well can be terribly helpful.

2) If this bad luck string runs too long, they’re sent back to 7723lkhthe minors to relearn how to bat, presumably, or maybe to regain their focus on a smaller stage. They’re always welcomed, and encouraged, to work their way back up to deserving field space, or even coveted bench space. Lesson: well, this one is too obvious to need explanation.

3) If they mess up a game with a simple error, they better expect fans to jump all over them and even suggest they shouldn’t be playing. I guess some people do expect perfection, after all. Of course, fans can ramble online all they want. It won’t change the manager’s course. At the end of the day, it’s his decision. Lesson: never mind the naysayers; they don’t make your choices if you don’t let them. Your boss does, but in the end none of us are perfect and good bosses see the good in us even when we mess up.

7675cp-lkh4) A .250 batting average means the player gets one hit in every four times he’s up to bat. And as I said, that’s a good average and that player will get plenty of play time. Take it up to .300 or above and that’s a darn rockin’ average! I wish I’d realized that back when I was playing. Heck, even the pros don’t expect a hit every time they’re at bat. They don’t even expect it half the time. I’ve yet to see a .500 batting average. Lesson: Maybe I should have gone easier on myself and let myself keep playing instead of voluntarily jumping to the side.

5) A .500 season average is a good team average. My Pittsburgh Pirates have been struggling to reach and maintain a .500 season average for … oh, about 19 years now. They are close at the moment. This gives fans great hope they’ll actually hit that and end with that. We all know it’s possible to jump from a 19 year losing streak to a sudden winning streak. We believe they can do it. We want to see it. Lesson: We should believe we can do it, as well. And others will root for us to do so!  (Hats off to the Orioles who seem to have learned that well this year!)

6) A 19 year losing streak isn’t truly a losing battle. They keep moving things around, trying new strategies, rotating the lineup, and keep in mind that yes, they can break it and this could be the year. Lesson: If something isn’t working, change things around. Keep trying.

7) Some of us will support the home team regardless of their record. I’ve only been in the area less than five years. Once I moved here, I jumped onto supporting the home team. Their record isn’t what matters. Even the fact that Garrett Jones,7655cp-lkh my personal fave player, is on the team, isn’t what matters. They’re the home team. That’s the way I’m geared. I do get annoyed when they have a game that looks more like a junior high school team than a pro team, but the next day I’m still back hoping for a better game. (When the Yankees tried to grab Jones over the winter, I did watch that and was terribly relieved when Hurdle said it wouldn’t happen. Guess if it did, I’d have to watch parts of Yankees games at times, but I’d still be rooting for the Pirates.) Lesson: Supporting the home team matters! Not only to them, but also to you, whether or not you realize it.

7652cp-lkh8) At the beginning of every game, all players on both teams stand and salute the flag during the National Anthem. Lesson: always acknowledge there is something bigger than yourself and your own activity.

9) The players I enjoy and support the most are not the ones with the best average or the most skill. They are the ones with the best attitudes. If I had a choice, I would put those guys in over anyone else any day. Even when they’re having bad streaks, I root for them. When those with bad attitudes, however, have bad streaks, I’ll gladly wish for them to be sent back to the minors to regroup. Of course the game doesn’t work that way. If they want to stay in, they better work hard and keep themselves on the top. Lesson: Attitude Matters! (not that we don’t all know that already) but so does hard work.

10) The players who succeed long term are the ones that keep themselves in the game. They don’t let the stress of competition overwhelm them. They don’t let the fact that someone else is doing better throw them into despair. And when they do reach the top or close to the top, they don’t give into the fame and derail themselves. They keep their heads in the game. Lesson: also too obvious to expand upon.

These days, when I get a chance to play again (which is quite rare), I do it. A few years back when I played with my son’s little league team in a sons vs. parents game, I managed to shock the heck out of my son with a very nice hit and a nice catch. I shocked myself a bit, as well. Yes, it made me nervous to jump in at my age and given it has been so darn long since I tried, but you can’t connect if you don’t swing the bat.

And by the way, team players are more likely to be supported, respected, and given play time than those who are all about themselves.

11) I nearly forgot.. the starting pitcher is always tagged for the game’s win or loss, regardless of how well or badly the rest of the team performs. This always struck me as unfair until I stopped to realize that pitchers know this going in. They get the limelight of being the pitcher, but they also risk the fall due to others’ errors. A good, loyal team will help a pitcher have a winning season, which works out well for all of them. Lesson: This is exactly the same in the business world. Think about it. 


All above photos are my own from a September 2011 game where the Pirates took on the Cardinals. Okay, the Cardinals won, but I still root for them, also, so it was a no-lose situation. ;-)  Feel free to pin any of my blog photos if you’re on Pinterest. And look me up there!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Finding the Light through our Tunnel Vision

May2012-onthebike1“Who’s Paul McCartney?”

Yes, this was a real question that was passed around Twitter during and after one of the recent award shows. I literally gaped. Who’s Paul McCartney? Are they kidding?

Even more recently I saw a conversation where a dance teacher wanted to do an American Bandstand theme for their next show, in honor of Dick Clark, I would guess. Very cool idea, I thought. Eh-hem. Most of the students had no idea what American Bandstand is/was. *sigh*

Okay, so it ended in 1989. Still, some things never truly end. They are part of our ingrained cultural heritage, like Elvis. There are things kids should just know … just because they should know them.

In talking with (complaining to) my family about this, they made valid points as to how long ago it was and that even if they didn’t recognize Paul McCartney, they would know who the Beatles are. Let’s hope that’s true. Granted. I get it. Time passes. New musicians come out at a rate of about an idol and a bunch of wannabe idols a year. TV is all fake reality now instead of the more simple music and entertainment shows of the past. I get it.

Still, I look back at when I was a teen and remember how hard I tried to find information on my favorite bands. It wasn’t easy when you were in the middle of a flyover state in the middle of cornfields. We were terribly grateful for Teen Magazine and Tiger Beat that would give us glimpsesRollersVisitHospital and info (as “factual” as they may have been) of our teen idols. Now and then The Weekender that came in the Sunday paper had a nice black and white photo of Donny Osmond or Erik Estrada or The Bay City Rollers visiting a children’s hospital (yep, I still have that tiny little b/w article). But it was no easy task for some of us to learn about music. One of the best resources was American Bandstand, originated and hosted by Dick Clark. Everyday American kids could go dance to the most current music on the show and in between, we’d get the top ten lists of the week, plus, and this was the big pull, each show featured a live performance by one of the top bands!

I know, I can hear young people today say, “So what? We get that through Youtube and VH1 and artist websites and iPods and… wherever else any time we want it.”  Yeah, yeah, I get it. But back then, we had American Bandstand and Midnight Special (if our parents let us stay up that late, which was a long shot in most cases) and a couple of other variety shows, once a week at best. Before the late 70s we didn’t even have VCRs in case we weren’t home to see it. We managed, though. We found out info and shared it with each other. We had pen pals to compare notes. We developed deep friendships simply based on sharing info about a favorite band. (And in doing so, we learned valuable communication skills!)

Why is it, then, that in this day and age of the internet and the very simple way of finding oh, so much more than you really want (or need) to know about your fave celebs (and then some), that kids seem to know less about older celebs than we did about older celebs?

In the late 70s, we all knew the names Marty Robbins, Frank Sinatra, Dale Evans, Roy Rogers, and so on, even though they were “far” before our time. We knew Peter, Paul, and Mary. We knew Jimi Hendrix. Even if it wasn’t our style or interest, we knew their names.

So yes, it still stymies me as to how on earth any teen these days wouldn’t know the name Paul McCartney or what American Bandstand is! Youtube it, for Pete’s Sake!

My guess is (and I come up with this with the help of the family discussion) that just like we now have a whole long shelf full of cereal from which to choose instead of a few varieties where the best toys got the buy, kids are under a huge onslaught of info. It’s so much and so easy to get to and so everywhere on every device under the sun that they have to tune it out and beeline for what they want specifically. They develop tunnel vision to prevent overload.

But at the same time, they miss so much that we leeched right onto because we could actually find it, at times, if we tried. We stayed thirsty for knowledge because we had to make an effort to find it. No effort involved these days. Stick it in Google and within seconds, there it is. What’s the joy in that? What’s the challenge? Without challenge, how valued is the info?

So, a challenge: Dig a hole up from the tunnel’s easy to find light at the end and shovel into the dark. Put the toys (electronics) away for a day and find info about something that pulls your interest.

A hint… listen to your elders. We learned an incredible amount because we didn’t have much else to do but to listen when our elders conversed about things we didn’t know yet.

When they mention such gems as … well, Paul McCartney (he was the bassist for the Beatles, by the way), don’t go to Twitter and ask who it is. Look it up! If you’re really up for a challenge, try doing that in a library instead of on the internet. It’s good for your brain. Honestly.

Or… just YouTube it:

The Jacksons on American Bandstand

So… this whole conversation made me acutely aware that I’d yet mentioned American Bandstand in my Rehearsal series. That will be promptly corrected!

Rest in Peace, Dick Clark.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Shakespeare and Cervantes and World Book Night

Cover ImageApril 23 is the birthday of Shakespeare (who also died on this day) and of Cervantes. Some time ago, it was marked as International Day of the Book, but other than in Kensington MD, I don’t see much reference to it. 

Taking its place is World Book Night, a new international event where the book industry donates a ton of free books, assisted by a myriad of volunteers across the country, to “light or non readers” in hopes of encouraging literacy. 

Are they simply tilting at windmills? After all, every community in America has library access. The books are there for free reading if people are so inclined, including, I’m sure, Cervantes and Shakespeare. Is the question now to help them decide to be or not to be readers? To push them to give it a try?

I’m all for encouraging reading! Obviously, as a writer I would encourage reading, but not only as a writer. I also encourage it as a perpetual learner and as someone who knows just how much I know simply because of books.

Only recently I’ve been in Ireland during the famine and during the formation of the Irish Republican Army and I now understand that formation and what they were trying to accomplish (Irish rule and Irish land belonging to the Irish). I’ve also recently been in Madrid during their Civil War, in contemporary small town rural Georgia (I lived ‘there’ several years ago and the return visit was a little blast of the past), in Paris during the big artist move to Paris to study art and the “upper class” American surge to Paris to help broaden their children’s horizons (did you know an American Ambassador was formative at the start of the war in getting many civilians out of Paris and into safety? and the big tourist dollars helped to build and rebuild the city after the war), and now I’m in both England and South Africa as I journey along with a South African nanny relocated in England.

I admit I’m one of those oddballs who loves to read Shakespeare. You know the key to understanding it? Keep going. Just like any language (and Shakespeare certainly had his own), the more you immerse yourself in it, the easier it is to understand. That applies to any fiction, including literary fiction.

In these days of YA fiction being the bestseller even among adults, I’m here pleading for adults to also read such things as Shakespeare and Cervantes, not because one is better or worse than the other, but because they are different. Different is mind-expanding. Mind-expanding is good for all of us. I’ll admit I’ve yet to read Cervantes but Don Quixote has just jumped to the top of my to-read list (with apologies to those books sitting on my shelf already waiting patiently).

Or don’t read Shakespeare and Cervantes. Pick up anything that looks interesting on a library or bookstore shelf and jump in. If that one doesn’t float your boat, move on to something else and keep trying. I don’t believe anyone actually “hates” to read; I believe they have yet to find the right book for them.

In my own little celebration of World Book Night, I’d like to offer up 3 copies of Stanley, my children’s book that is touching many adults in grief groups and personal struggles, and 3 copies of Protect The Heart, my sweet home front story safe for all ages. The catch: they have to go to your local library. Post the name and location of your library in the comments and I’ll randomly select 6 to send one copy of one of the two books, signed to your library. Either leave your email so I can contact you, or for privacy, come back here to check and see if you’ve been chosen and you can email me with mailing info. This will run for one week, or until I get 6 libraries.
ShakespeareAndCoMy valued copy of the complete works of William Shakespeare, along with Don Quixote and a few others still waiting for my attention.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Stop and Enjoy the Quiet

Woods in a ParkDuring my last year of school-room college, I took a required class called Senior Seminar. Meant as preparation for the outside world, the class focused on local, world, and environmental issues. I dreaded going into this class, not because of the topic - the topic was terribly interesting – but because I knew going in it was half graded on class participation.

I still shudder to think of it. I was a good student. I’m still a good student although these days I self-teach. I’m a perpetual student. I love to learn. I love discussion that stretches my mind and my world. I love to take that new knowledge and reformulate what I already knew and didn’t know. Other than some math and science classes (we all have our weak points), my grades were high.

The professor of this course was a psychology teacher. My major was psychology. I figured he would understand my reticence to talking in class. I figured he would be able to see how hard it was to force myself to do so, and I did, red face sweaty palms racing heart and all, I did. My grade depended on it.

Midway through we also had to go talk with him privately in his office. That was nearly worse. Yet I did it. I had to in order to get through the class. So far, I’d received all As in my written work, including my essays which he praised highly. His focus, though, was that my class discussion was lacking. Okay, I know that. I did manage to tell him how hard it was, or at least to try to make him understand how hard it was. (There is truly no way for a social phobic – these days called social anxiety disorder – to fully explain.) I told him I was trying and that I was forcing myself into conversation. He said it wasn’t enough. I needed to work harder at it. He also leaned forward, invading my space, held too-direct eye contact, and generally made me terribly uncomfortable. I was flustered about that meeting for weeks, on top of being flustered to the point of wanting to drop out of school after every class period because I forced myself to talk and knew everyone saw my red face and heard my shaking voice.

I didn’t drop out. The teacher, the psychology teacher no less, who should have understood, not only made everything worse, he also gave me a C despite my glowing written work and my huge attempt at class participation.

I have a myriad of events such as this that took my social phobia to nearly unbearable heights, to the extent that when we lived in a certain location when the Army sent us there, a place where I was fully as uncomfortable as I was in that classroom, I became all but a full-time hermit.

I’m determined, though. I’m a writer. When I put my books out, I wanted them read. So I pushed myself here and there into public situations in order to let people know I was a writer.

Let’s pause a minute…

Quiet-SusanCainI wish everyone would read this book.

Yes, everyone. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking is an amazingly powerful book. Even if you check it out from your library and read only the introduction and first chapter, you’ll learn something everyone needs to know. Not everyone should be an extrovert. Introverts should not be pushed to become extroverts. They have incredible power of their own, but that power is very often diminished because extroverts take charge and won’t listen to those who don’t speak loudly enough. This alone is harming our society by leaps and bounds. Introverts are not ‘better’ or more important than extroverts, but they are just as good and just as important. We all need to realize this. We need to learn how to deal with each other even when we’re such polar opposites as self-confident extrovert and anxious introvert.

Of course there are many levels of both. Some introverts are comfortable with public speaking. Some extroverts are not. Quiet  by Susan Cain explains the middle ground and other things that affect how we act and react.

Simply, this is an amazing book. Read it.

I wish that Senior Seminar teacher had read it, or even understood the concept (which he should have, by all rights, but there are many people in professions who shouldn’t be there). I especially wish all teachers would read this and learn how to deal with their introverted students, how to help them thrive instead of stifling them.

Our culture is set up to stifle the quiet and the timid. We horribly undervalue them. In doing so, we are selling out our whole society (to include things such as the market collapse in 2008 that introverts tried to warn their non-listening extrovert co-workers about). We are also making a heck of a lot of very intelligent, very sensitive people feel miserable and unworthy because they “don’t fit” the right mold.

That’s a shame. It’s an injustice.

We the Quiet of the Western world want to be heard, but we want to be heard on our terms. We want the freedom to be who we are and to prosper in that. In return, we will help the rest of you prosper.

I found this online recently and it’s excellent. Luckily for us introverts, the internet does allow some wonderful interaction for those of us who can’t do so face to face. We are in the minority. But we have plenty to say and plenty to add. Hush a bit now and then, and listen.

Back to the story, I did finish college, although I moved away from that particular college to follow my new Army husband to his duty station. I finished online. What a wonderful thing, online classes! I don’t think I got anything less than an A there.

And, I’ve continued my quest to let people know I’m a writer. I do book signings at local events. I always have a migraine the next day due to the stress of it, but I do them. I sometimes lose sales simply because I sound timid and unsure about my own work. It’s not that. I am sure my work is worthy of reading. Sometimes the talking to one person who stops to look at my books, though, makes me want to go back to my hermit cave.

Still, I will do more this summer. If you happen to stop by and see me, don’t be insulted if I barely speak. Don’t take it as more than what it is: anxiety.

By the way, many of us writers are introverts to some extent. Introversion and creativity are highly correlational. If you want our thoughts, read our books. You will learn far more about us that way than in trying to talk with us, unless you are a very skilled and quiet listener.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Read An Ebook Week: Rehearsal

ad-square-sm“Hey sweetie, wanna dance?”

Duncan raised his arm to wipe the sweat rolling under his chin onto his sleeve and threw her a glance. Shagged brown hair topped her average-height frame; she was not much shorter than he was, he supposed. A modern girl, judging by the way she spoke to him and her forthright gaze. “Thank you, bu’ I am workin’.” He looked back to check on his ordered beer. Smoke from the guy next to him mixed in with the general haze in the bar and choked his mouth and throat.

She moved closer. “Not at the moment, you’re not.”

Returning his eyes, he noted a tenacity in her expression and body language. A quality he liked, to a certain extent. “Well, y’ are right. At the moment, I am tryin’ t’ cool off a bit. Then I am goin’ back t’ work.” A trickle of sweat rolled down the side of his face from underneath the damp hair falling over his forehead. Duncan dipped his head to pull the bottom of his T-shirt up, rubbed it across his face, and let it fall again.

Accepting the mug that finally came across the bar, he took a large swallow. The coolness against his hand echoed the stream of liquid in his throat.

The girl cuddled into his shoulder. “Are you ever here when you’re not working?” Fingers with painted nails touched his arm.

Ignoring a snigger from the new bartender, he again raised the mug to his lips, allowing time to consider an answer. “Now and then.” The chill of the glass distracted him from the girl’s flesh pushing against his and the flirtatious scent of her cologne.

She broke through, sliding both hands around his fingers and the heavy mug, and pulled it from him. “So maybe you’ll dance with me another night?” As she sipped his beer, she kept her eyes on his. Narrow eyes. Lashes painted longer than natural matching thick black lines extended from the corners, the brushed-on green of her lids attempting to extend the brownish-green of her pupils. It didn’t work well.

She rubbed a finger around the edge of the mug, hinting.

Duncan considered the offer. She looked fake, but not snobbish. And who was he to be too particular? “Maybe.”

She grinned and pushed the drink back at him.

“Keep it.”

He watched her move away, flaunting the beer to her table of friends, repeating the conversation, he figured, making it more than it was. He never understood the infatuation girls had with guys in local bands. Hell, this wasn’t even a good local band. His mates were okay guys, as far as it went, but barely third-rate musicians. It didn’t seem to matter. They were only background noise for pick-up lines and attempts at relaxation by intoxication in the dark out-of-the-way bar.

Dark was helpful. It disguised the niched plank floor and scratches in the old wooden tables with only patches of varnish left as pointless protection. Duncan imagined his mum would cringe about him playing at the little dive, though it was better than many he’d played. For the most part, it was kept clean, not close enough to clean for her, but enough. He was just as glad she didn’t know how he was living: day to day, city to city, jumping from one third-rate band to another while doing whatever other cash jobs he could find.

This one wasn’t bad. Joe and Mel gave him a room in their house next door and all the food and beer he wanted in exchange for restocking the bar, carting kegs, and helping Joe build the breezeway to run between the two buildings. His part of what the band made, he kept. It was enough.

Duncan ordered another beer and watched the small crowd, studying the ones he recognized as regulars and the few he didn’t. Mostly, he played to the same group every weekend. It was only a paycheck. There wasn’t one, he imagined, who would even know if he played a wrong chord now and then. They weren’t listening, not more than enough to go through the motions of dancing. Their drummer was at least decent. They kept a good beat.

A movement from the table of Thiel College students caught his attention. They were always easy to spot, dressed too well for the bar full of locals and holding their chins higher than necessary. One of them rose to retrieve his drink from the bar instead of barking an order at the girls serving. He was the only male at the table without a cigarette hanging from his mouth or fingers. Worst part of playing in bars, the damned cloud of nicotine.

The guy was heading in his direction. Duncan turned back to catch the bartender. “Is tha’ beer comin’ tonight?”

“Make that two.” The college guy moved up behind him. “And a wine spritzer. After his, of course.”

Wine spritzer. For the girl at the table sitting sideways in the chair with her legs crossed and her shoulders straight, Duncan guessed.

“How long have you been playing?”

Glancing up to make sure the guy was talking to him, he answered, barely. “A while.”

“Obviously. I meant, how many years?”

“Why?” Duncan raised his hands in a questioning gesture at the new bartender. He would have to go back and play before he ever got it, at this pace.

The intruder took advantage when the stool next to him was vacated and planted himself as if he actually belonged in the bar. “You’re wasting your talent here. You’re a hell of a guitarist.”

Thiel College, photo by Kelli Eyers

Rehearsal is a series of 5. Two are out. But they are not at Smashwords currently because I unpubbed them. Temporarily. They are being overhauled.

To my Rehearsal fans who keep asking when the next one comes out, I’m hard at work at it. It should be out this year. First, the first two will be re-released, with new edits and new covers. In print as well as in ebook.

This series was my first long piece of fiction. It began way back when as ideas and occasional scene sketches. And when I decided to return to my writing in 1996, the dock scene of the first book was the first thing I wrote. It’s a very long series. Five might not sound long, but they average around 650 pages each. And there will be a sequel. It’s already in progress. It’s a good thing some people still love thick books!

I’m excited about the new versions, since I’m using a cover idea from my daughter and hoping I can pull it off well enough. No hints. In the meantime, while I’m working on the re-releases and the new one, there are two free read short stories at Smashwords that relate to the novel. They’re called Evan’s Story and The Water’s Touch (okay I don’t spend a lot of time on titles of 2,000 word free reads).

I couldn’t highlight all the rest of my books without mentioning Rehearsal, so there’s the scoop.

Edinburgh airport sign

Did I mention the guitarist you met above is from Scotland? Not because it’s in right now. Because way back in … uh, well in high school (should I admit that was the mid 80s?), I decided he needed to be Scottish based on real music of the time. I also decided way back before I ever moved here that his best friend would be from Pennsylvania and a Thiel College grad. Funny how things work since I now live a stone’s throw from there and Scotland is one of my all-time favorite travel destinations.

Oh, the girl in the book. She’s a dance teacher who babysits part-time. She and Evan live across the hall from each other in fictional Lakewood, Massachusetts. She loves to visit Boston. So did I when we lived close.

Susie picked up the last toy from the floor and dropped it into the plastic bin she kept for Timmy and Taylor. Now that her charges had gone home, she thought about catching up on paperwork she hadn’t bothered to do yet. But she was tired tonight. So instead, she lit the three lavendar-scented candles that accented her oak coffee table, flopped onto her favorite corner of the light brown sectional couch, and pulled her legs up in front, entwining them into a knot.

The silence was deafening after having the little ones there most of the day, and she wondered if Evan would come back over. She doubted it, since his friend just arrived. What would he be like in person? Of course, she had heard a lot about Duncan and knew how excited Evan was about him coming. She also knew Evan wasn’t sure he would stay. At least she would finally get to meet him, and no matter what he was like, she would welcome him for Evan’s sake.

Even if the guy had pulled her best friend away when they were finally getting to spend time together. The show had kept her so busy recently, with extra practices and planning meetings and ordering costumes, that she had hardly been able to say two words to him in the last two weeks. And she’d missed him.

BostonSkyline-lkhI do still have print copies of the original edition of Rehearsal: A Different Drummer & Rehearsal: The Highest Aim. If interested, email for price info.





Friday, March 09, 2012

Read An Ebook Week: Finishing Touches


Jenna inhaled deeply, allowing crisp fall air to invade her body. Feeling a nip of winter creep through the open window, she pulled the plush blanket higher around her baby’s shoulders. Jenna loved the precious time spent rocking her child to sleep while he snuggled into her breast. At these moments, she felt the most connected to her only love. She also missed him the most vividly.

Running her fingertips over Aaron’s tiny head, Jenna studied the perfect little features, so like his father’s. Daniel had never tried to conceal the pride he felt whenever someone mentioned how much his son resembled him. He considered the child his greatest work of art, and his most important. Jenna’s husband had been many things, but humble was never one of them. She couldn’t help a grin at recalling his admission that he was a very good-looking guy. And he really was, or had been. Even after he got sick and lost too much weight, his features had still been perfect and his eyes absolutely beautiful.

She snuggled her baby closer and returned her gaze to beyond the window. The view from their loft was breathtaking at this time of the year, with hundreds of maple trees along the banks of the Illinois River boasting their shades of red and yellow and greenSpiritofPeoria-Hawkins-8in and brown. The Spirit of Peoria, a reproduction of the beloved old riverboats, often sailed by with passengers walking the decks or standing at the rails. Six years earlier, Jenna and Daniel watched the Julia Belle Swain together whenever they caught it floating along the river. Once, covered only with a sheet pulled from their bed, they had stood before the large window and talked of taking the short cruise on the old paddle-wheel. Some day.

“Some day” had never come. Neither had so many other days they planned. Their time together centered around his painting, but then, he told her to expect that. She hadn’t argued when he refused to go out because he was working or when she had to go to bed alone. She had been warned and willingly accepted his terms. The naivete of youth, Jenna mused. Now, there was no later for them. The Julia Belle and Daniel were both gone.

His baby stirred in her arms and Jenna coerced herself to rise slowly, moving across the loft to settle Aaron in his crib. Convinced he was still slumbering, she wandered into the kitchen to pour a cup of mint tea, a habit she had developed while carrying her first child. Daniel’s mother suggested it might help settle her stomach and it seemed to work. Even well after the morning sickness was gone, Jenna continued the routine and joked with her husband that maybe he should try it as well, to calm his nerves. He didn’t like mint tea. He didn’t like boats either, except at a distance. Alan once said Daniel’s work was the only interest they shared. Jenna quickly pointed out her advanced pregnancy proved him wrong. Her friend hadn’t been amused.


Finishing Touches was my first published novel from 2003. This one is set in my home area of Peoria Illinois, with jaunts into Chicago. It features the Illinois River and her riverboats, the trees Jenna loves, the Glen Oak Zoo, Illinois Central College, the architecture tour in Chicago, the Loop area, and the Lakeshore Drive, plus a few other places along the way.

Jenna is a very young widow with a new baby who has never figured out her own path as her mother tries to plan it for her and then her husband’s art career takes over. Left on her own, she begins to again dabble in her own artwork, letting it be both therapy and a guide to a new start. 

“Jenna, I never disliked Daniel.”

“Then why did you stop coming over?”

“Because he didn’t want me here.”

“I wanted you here.”

“You could have come over any time. Cheryl loves visiting with you. You didn’t have to isolate yourself because Daniel wanted to be isolated.”

“He didn’t want to be isolated, he just…”

“Wanted to be left alone to work. I know, but he did isolate you. You always had a bunch of friends in school you never see anymore. Have you even talked with Karla recently?”

She shook her head. He was right. She missed running around with her cousin and chatting about anything and everything.

“I didn’t dislike him; I just didn’t like what he was doing to you.”

“It was my choice and I loved being with him.”

“But you lost yourself….”

“No. Alan, I found myself with Daniel. I was lost before him and I’m even more lost without him now.”

He began to argue but decided against it. “Jen, come spend the day with us.”

With the happy couple and their three kids? “No, thank you. I don’t really feel like going out.”

“Maybe not, but you need to. There’s a new art exhibition at Lakeview. Why don’t we go see it?”

Art? “No.”


“No. Alan, I can’t…”

“Okay, what about the zoo? The kids have been bugging us to take them again…”

“Then you should do that. We’re fine right here.”

Finishing Touches is free as an ebook download currently. Find it at Smashwords, Kobo, Sony,, Diesel, and iTunes.

It’s also the inspiration for a coming young adult novel filled with art and sketches, plus, a sequel to the original novel, expected in 2013.

The baby gasped as the light breeze hit his mouth and Jenna turned his head into her shoulder, running a hand over his shiny dark hair. She stepped closer to the sign, touching her fingers to the coolnessGlenOakZoo-Hawkins-8in of the stone. The sensation triggered memories of her bare legs resting on top of the granite while Daniel carefully but quickly captured the scene with his charcoal stick. He always sketched in charcoal. He said he could get more life in a charcoal sketch than in a pencil sketch.

The leg lying against the stone had taken a while to get warm again, the other propped up so only the bottom of her foot was cold. Daniel asked her to remove her sandals because it was more natural and fitting for a zoo sign. He was the one to convince her that true art was more felt than learned. It had to come from deep within the soul.

Finishing Touches
LK Hunsaker

Novel Site
at Smashwords

[Special thanks to my sister and niece for the photos of Glen Oak Zoo, The Spirit of Peoria, and Illinois Central College]