Monday, November 11, 2013

Military in the Arts, oh how it leans…


It’s Veteran’s Day in the U.S., a day to honor those who sacrifice for us. Many will ‘honor’ them by jumping on big retail sales. Restaurants are offering discounts and free ‘value’ meals. We’re all on the ‘support the military’ bandwagon again in recent years. Okay, not all. There is still plenty of hostility toward service members, most of which is never broadcast, but it is there. I guess that’s their right – free speech and all.

Except I’m not so sure our speech is still all that free.

Soldiers are restricted as to how much they can say. Military families have learned to be cautious. So who is telling us most of what most of us ‘know’ about the military? Well, artists, actually. Journalists. Hollywood. Authors. Songwriters.

Anyone else see the big problem with that?

Most of them haven’t been there. A big (and big mouth) actor said just the other day that his work was as hard as a soldier’s work. I actually laughed. It is funny when people make assumptions about something with which they don’t know. That’s still nothing compared to the big (and big mouth) author who loves to claim people join the service only if they aren’t smart enough or educated enough to do anything better.

Sad. Truly. They don’t get it. USArmy-inAfghanistanMar2012

So far the only books I’ve read that center around the military and are realistic are Hemingway and Vonnegut. They were there. They know. All of these war movies? Come on. It’s Hollywood, and Hollywood loves to make 4-star generals look like morons and ‘brainless’ troops look like sheep who just follow orders without thinking. Of course they show them this way. They’re about 95% anti-military leftists. Just a fact. It shows. It showed glaringly when they all jumped on that non-American rapper who sang about killing American  soldiers and their families and had him appear on big TV shows and even a nut commercial. Yeah, so he apologized. Big deal. What’s done is done. Too many of us didn’t even know what he’d done, but they did. And yet we supported him with our money in the form of watching the shows and buying the advertisers’ products.

It’s also a fact that the arts in general lean heavily liberal. That’s their right, but we should know and acknowledge that fact because the bias is overwhelming, especially when we don’t realize it’s there.

It is there. On both sides. Including in journalism that is supposed to try to avoid it. Most of them used to. No more. It glares through every headline and every sentence.

Yes, by all means, thank Veterans today, but if you truly care about our military, active and retired, consider them on a daily basis, pay attention to bias, research political candidates, and support those who support us. Veterans support us far more than any politician and we need to remember that.

And yes, I’m an artist and author, but I’m also an Army(Ret) spouse who knows the truth from the inside.

Moondrops&Thistles-cover2inLove. Honor.


Moondrops & Thistles
LK Hunsaker

Read the interview about the novel.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Old fiction and Current events

A soldier's kissI read a lot and I read widely, not only in fiction but I also read non-fiction books now and then and I read more online articles and interviews and comments from everyday people than I could possibly count. Writers are supposed to be observers. They’re supposed to capture current events and share the stories behind them, not only to help expand the world in their contemporary time period, but to leave knowledge of the events and its lessons to the future, as well. Those who don’t read back in time are missing huge cues as to how people, times, and politics change, and how they don’t.

I’m a political animal. Those on my personal FB page know that already. I mainly keep it off my FB author page and I’ve kept it out of my blog in general. I’m not sure that’s a good approach. I write about political and social issues. I write about real people, families, parenting, small towns, big cities, mainly America since it’s what I know best but also visits into other countries, which I have done in practice as well as in writing. All of that is swept inside of politics, intentionally or not. We are all touched by it, no matter how disinterested we say we are.

When it was strongly recommended that I read Taylor Caldwell’s A Prologue To Love, I was only part interested. But when part of the recommendation was that my writing reminded the reader of Caldwell’s fiction, I gave in. It sounded like an old fashioned romance, which is fine, but not the first genre I choose. (Sorry, I’m not an Austen fan.) I’m more than halfway through now, and I can say it is not a romance in any form of the current definition. It’s fully mainstream in the vein of John Irving, but mainstream fiction, often called serious fiction, written by women is almost always termed something else, often women’s fiction. Sexism at its finest. A Prologue To Love IS mainstream fiction.

Published in 1961, it follows a woman through her life span in the years when America was in its industrial age and trouble was just starting to brew in Europe, in part due to Karl Marx and company, when in America the middle class was evolving that provided an option other than upper and lower classes. It’s fully a class struggle novel.

Last night while reading, I ran into a section I thought all of us now should read, so I’m sharing it. This should fall under the “fair use” rule, so don’t report me for copyright violation. I research that, also. I’m big on research

~~ ~~ ~~
[William is an English lord related to Timothy, a wealthyPrologueToLove-TaylorCaldwell American trying to move into politics.]

”What?” cried William incredulously. “What class struggle? You have no classes in America. Any man with a little intelligence and industry and inventiveness can make money in America and keep it and add to it and make himself a fortune, for you have no personal income rates as we have. Such a man can rise to any position in America. You haven’t any classes!”

”We’ll make them,” said Timothy, and smiled more pleasantly.

”Why, for heaven’s sake?”

”For political purposes. We’ll also pass an income tax law, which will prevent, eventually, any man from accumulating new wealth and will set to protect those who have inherited wealth and also to protect them from the Vandals.”

”What Vandals?”

”The middle class, which is invading all parts of our national life now as it is invading your British life. With its vulgarity and suety virtues and morality and bad taste. We’ll use the working class to destroy the middle class in America; we’ll give the working class such hatred and such lusts that the middle class will be so taxed to death to support the working class’s greed that they’ll go out of existence. Liberty, equality, fraternity! Every man as alike as every other man, if we have to chop off the heads that stand up above the crowd!” He laughed and thought that William’s face, looking down at his, was utterly uncomprehending and just a little stupid.

”Then,” said Timothy, “we who have the great old inherited fortunes will also have power. And we’ll invent our own aristocracy. America’s a republic, now. But so was Rome, for the first four hundred years. We’ll have an American ‘democratic empire’ eventually, ruled by those born to rule, with only the contented and obedient masses under them and no challenging middle class.”

”You’ll never be able to accomplish that in America,” said William. “You’ll never be able to make the people class-conscious, not when they know that a class society means the end of freedom for them.”

”But they’ll never know,” said Timothy. “Just as your own working class, which can become middle class with enough hard work and intelligence, will never know.”

~~ ~~ ~~
”The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Albert Camus

More suggested reading about fiction and class struggle: The American Dream and the Crab Bucket on

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Confession: I’m a Super Hero Junkie

SupermanWe watched Thor last night, and I mean the first one since I’m generally late on watching movies. Now I’m ready to see the next.

Yes, I’m a Super Hero movie junkie. I admit it.

I’ve read theories that women like super heroes because they denote personal protection and we women like to be protected, and that they can make men feel inadequate because they can’t live up to Superman’s abilities. I think that’s all hogwash. I’m a realist enough to know super heroes are fantasies, and I darn well understand the difference between fantasy and reality. I never actually expect Spiderman to throw his web around someone who is being a jerk and save the day, or for Aquaman to send a rescue dolphin if I’m silly enough to get in over my head in the ocean.

I could be wrong that some women like them for that reason. And I could be wrong that it makes men feel inadequate, although really, the men I know are also able to separate reality from fantasy and aren’t so silly they’d let a movie hero make them think they aren’t good enough because they can’t stop a speeding bullet or jump over a skyscraper. Now, honestly… why would anyone assume men would be threatened by cartoon characters?

One of the earliest lines in Thor was: “A good king never looks for war, but … he is always prepared for it.” (Pardon my memory if the quote isn’t exactly exact.)

I enjoy the themes in most super hero movies. They portray how a common man can step up and do very mighty things when his heart is in the right place and he is willing to put himself aside to think of others first. (Of course it applies to women, as well. It’s easier to use one or the other.)  Yes, Thor was another cliché “boy learns to be less arrogant and more human to achieve a common good for all” theme, but you know what? That theme doesn’t get old to me. Because it’s true. Because we need to hear it over and over. We need to know that we can all be a super hero if we will do the same, if we will cast our selfish, petty wants aside and put others first and help them achieve. If we stop our quest for power and control (which are both fleeting and overvalued) and give them up for a greater cause.

We do have real life super heroes. Maybe they can’t pick up a heavy magic hammer and make everything right with one stroke, but they can put themselves in harm’s way to protect others. And they do. Every day people do so. They might not do it with strength. Sometimes they do it with gentleness, or with intelligence, or with no more than determination. But they do it. And I thank them for it.

Maybe the fantasy side of it appeals to me, as well. I can’t say I’d mind if someone with more strength, power, and intelligence would come FIX things for us when we can’t seem to do it. But then, that would take away the need for us to become super heroes ourselves. And maybe that’s the point.


Friday, June 28, 2013

7 Reasons writing an Indie book makes you even more a badass

8827cp-lkhThis is a friendly nod to Brian Klems of Writer’s Digest for his 7 Reasons Writing a Book Makes You a Badass article. No offense or competition between traditional writers and indie writers intended. It’s a joke, son!
~~ ~~ ~~

I’ve been a professional indie for ten years now (if you accept the commonly accepted definition of ‘professional’ as someone who has sold her work) and I’ve just released my 10th book, my 10th self-pubbed book, that is. I was indie long before indie was cool. I was calling myself an indie author before anyone knew what the heck that was or heard anyone else use the term. As far as I know, I created the darn term.

When I read Klems’ article title, I had to laugh. As someone who spends much of most days sitting behind my computer clicking away or reading back over previous work and making change after change after change, I’m well aware I come off as rather boring. Heck, I don’t talk much. I really don’t. Not vocally. Never mind the ridiculous amount of conversation going on in my head and the constant self correction when I don’t think something to myself quite right. Since others don’t see that, I come off as pretty boring and have been told as much. Shrug. I’m not bored with myself, so it’s all okay.

I have to agree with Klems. As a writer, I’m fairly badass. (Excuse the language, but he started it!) Go read
his article first, then come back here, because it is a bit different for an indie.

1. Writing a book is hard

Amen. I’ve helped quite a few new writers along when they wanted to write a book but had no idea how to start. In the end, if they really want to write a book, and not just have a book with their name on it, they’ll figure it out as I did. Encouragement is nice, though, and I’m always willing to help with tips. When you’re writing your first book, there should be no difference between trad and indie; it should be for you, not for a market, for sales, for money, or for glory. For you. The rest comes later. Those of us who stick it out not only to The End but to beyond the end to a marketable product have guts. And tired fingers and hazy brains.

2. Editing is painful

Yes. It’s especially hard when you don’t have a trad pub editor helping you out, telling you where to cut and where to add, or a pro copywriter picking out your typos and grammar/ spelling errors. You better be able to do it yourself or get some good help. Beware self-made editors who ask for money in return for their help. Just like authors, editors are good, bad, and in-between. A lot of indies get stuck in this quagmire. Ask around. The best bet is to learn it yourself and then ask for extra help. They make grammar and writing books for that.

3. Knowing you can go back and re-publish is a blessing and a curse.

Yes, you can pull your own books and re-edit and re-publish, but be careful. It’s an easier process with ebooks, although if they sell, those copies are out there until deleted. Once you’re in print, that book is there. Once a retailer has it, they intend to hold it until their copies sell or they send them to a clearance distributor. (It’s only fair if they do.) It’s too easy to jump the gun and get your book out because you’re excited, and then cringe later down the road when you’re more experienced and see the errors of your ways. Any takers to ask how I know this?

4. Convincing readers your work is good when a bigwig somewhere hasn’t said so and isn’t backing you is scary.

Convincing yourself of that is even scarier. Unless you’re too arrogant for your own good, an indie never stops second-guessing her own work until she becomes the next Amanda Hocking. (Anyway I suppose she isn’t still second-guessing herself. Maybe she converted to a trad publisher so she could rest those doubts more easily.) It can be it tough to convince others your books are good enough to be worth their time and money when you only have yourself and your beloved family and friends saying it is.

5. Rejection. Yikes!

All writers get bad reviews. They happen. When you’re an indie and readers know it, you likely will also get “I found typos” comments in even good reviews. I read avidly. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a big pub book that did not have a couplebeginnings of errors or more. Still, I’ve never seen that mentioned in reviews. I see it plenty in indie published reviews. Granted, far too many indies have far too many typos, [and *sigh* far too much bad writing, but then I’ve seen plenty of that in big pub books, as well] (see above about putting your books out too fast), but many have no more errors than the big pubs. Be aware you will more likely be slammed for it as an indie or even as a small press author. Being rejected by readers when you don’t have that “contract” saying you’re a good writer can be pretty darn hard to take. I’m sure it is when you’re under contract, also, but I wouldn’t know since I haven’t bothered to try to get one of those. (Except for my children’s book and that was more an experiment than anything. I do that. I like to experiment.)

6. Getting paid for your work… insert laugh machine here

Advance? To an indie, that’s what you pay to get your books out to the public. Of course ebooks can be done with no money expended. Print books are a horse of a different color. I have to sell, on average, 60 print books by hand (at signings or otherwise) to make up what I spend to get my prints out there and to have enough on hand at a price readers expect. When local retailers sell them for me, that number of books goes up since their commission comes out. It also goes up when you’re selling at arts fests that demand booth fees. Sixty books doesn’t sound like a lot, I suppose, but when you’re unknown, or virtually unknown, and when you write literary or mixed genres instead of commercial fiction, and when you tend to write long in a world of quick and easy, sixty is a lot of books. It is. Especially when it can take several months to a few years to write and edit that book until it’s ready to be out. Few of us fiction writers make even close to minimum wage.

Rehearsal outline and notesOnly the truly brave put out that kind of money in hopes that not only will they make it back, but actually make a profit. And then, of course, you have to be brave enough to DO signings and to ask retailers to carry them. Most of us authors are introverted and many of us are rather shy. Try fighting social anxiety that’s at disorder level and sitting out under a tent at an art show or in a bookstore and convince people your work is worth their time and money. Oh, and realize while you’re doing so that you may not make enough profit that day to even cover your space fee. Super ninjas, we are. Never mind the next few days are recovery time from the stress of it.

7. Accomplishing a dream is awesome.

YES! The lack of profit, stress, and doubt aside, when you, as an indie author, who wrote it yourself, paid for it yourself, edited twenty times and then sent it to reliable people to help and then edited again yourself, after you did your cover art or found the right person to do it with your input, formatted your files yourself, uploaded your materials yourself, and did all of your own promo with bits of help from whatever family and friends are willing to spread around your promo posts…

Yes. It is awesome when those reviews come in praising your work, your story, your characters … and begging for the next.

I’m not sure there’s anything quite like it in the world.

We indie authors who spend years learning and writing and learning more and listening and researching and writing and editing and writing and doubting and rewriting and pouting and praying and typing until our fingers are near to falling off and our eyes have trouble focusing and our brains are hazy … we are badass, indeed.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

FT Scenery: Lakeview Museum Peoria IL

Lakeview Museum of Arts and Science plays a strong role in The gallery, both in Finishing Touches and Final Strokes. Of course. It’s a story about artists set partly in Peoria IL in the Eighties, so Lakeview had to be included.

I see that the original Lakeview is no longer in use. Now it’s moved down to the river front and is the Peoria Riverfront Museum. That’s nice, I suppose. It looks like a great facility from what I see online. But it makes me a bit homesick for “those days” when things were as they were when I was still living in the area.

My sister took the above photo for me a few years ago to use in the book trailer for Finishing Touches.

Things do change, but the art scene is still thriving in Peoria. Know the old saying: “If it doesn’t play in Peoria…”? I love finding all of the art related pages on Facebook based in the area, such as The Studios on Sheridan. In fact, I have a recent interview from one of the resident artists that’s well worth the read (and a glimpse of her work).

Connie Andrews talks with

The good thing about old memories for a writer is that they make for great story fodder. Much of that feel is forever encapsulated in The gallery and folded around a growing and struggling relationship and children and careers and unresolved issues.

Life is a gallery. You never know what you might find on any
MichelangeloAnselmi-Christ_and_Woman_of_Samaria-LakeviewMuseum given aisle on any given day or how it might change your vision.

If you’re on
Goodreads, be sure to click the link to your right to enter my Giveaway for one of 2 ARCs of The gallery (yes, the g is small, on purpose). These are not for sale copies my editors used to help find typos and other errors. They will be signed.

Do you have a favorite local art museum? Give it a shout out in the comments!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Cover Reveal: The gallery

The gallery - LK Hunsaker 
Finishing Touches

Jenna Rhodes escaped her mother’s idea of a successful, elite life with an early marriage to an unknown artist, but her husband’s eventual success has catapulted her into the midst of another world in which she feels she doesn’t belong. Now, in her early twenties, she finds herself alone with a young baby and fighting against overwhelming artistic desires. With memories of the past and the rekindling of an old friendship, Jenna struggles to find her own world. Rejecting her impulses becomes impossible, though, when a handsome magnetic force begins to pull at her spirit.

Final Strokes

The Jenna Rhodes, as she is known in Chicago art circles due to her former husband’s fame, has set up her life the way she wants it, with a burgeoning career and her artist boyfriend at her side. Somewhere during the constant commotion of raising children and juggling job responsibilities, the two painters with different styles find they also have far different visions of the future. Their separate choices and Jenna’s lingering resentments from the past, mixed with an intense draw toward her hometown area of Peoria, push them to the far corners of their combined canvas.

All art is personal. All life is art.
The gallery.

Coming June 2013
LK Hunsaker
and Elucidate Publishing

Monday, April 22, 2013

Landscaping: FT Scenery

ILRiverthruWindow-HawkinsHappy Earth Day!

I’m a huge nature lover, if you haven’t guessed yet from my posts and my books. Nature figures strongly in everything I write.  It also affects my mood. I need sun and warmth to be at my best, so spring truly feels like a complete rejuvenation every year.

I guess it’s appropriate that my first novel features a girl obsessed with trees and a landscape architect.

Stepping back into the sunlight, she squinted. The sun was directly above, spilling warmth through a light breeze. She wished she had worn a tank top so she could feel the direct heat on her shoulders. She didn’t want it on Aaron’s face, however, and pulled his receiving blanket into a curve around his head. Her son had Daniel’s paleness and would burn easily.

Finding her way to the back of the house, Jenna felt like she was sneaking around again. But that was crazy. There was nothing wrong with her being there with Alan. So, then, why did she feel guilty?

She stopped, coming into view of the landscapers moving small trees around the backyard. Alan watched them, checking the entire scene, then walked over to a leafy maple. He easily picked it up, though it was nearly twice his height, and moved it close to an elm. That really was better. He had a natural artistic eye, and Jenna did enjoy watching him work.

Deciding to stay out of the way, she lowered onto the grass, under shade of a small tree planted the day before. The sod was still damp around the trunk, so she was careful to stay on the outer edge. Aaron had fallen asleep before they had turned the first corner and she was able to sit quietly and study the landscape, and the men working it. She loved trees. She loved the smell of grass and freshly turned dirt. She loved the light breeze playing with her hair and the warm sun penetrating her skin. She loved ... Alan called to one of his employees. His voice filled the air. She loved being there with Alan. She loved ... Alan. No. She didn’t. She couldn’t. She had been in love. It wasn’t the same. With Daniel, she hated every minute she was away from him. She had needed to be closer. She hadn’t had a second thought about giving herself to him. Well, maybe a second thought, but it didn’t last long, and it was only because of her age. He was everything. She didn’t feel that way about Alan. She enjoyed being with him and loved that he enjoyed being with her.

He turned and spotted her. Obviously in the middle of giving instructions, he turned back, pointing at the horizon, and walked away from his work. He headed toward her.

She also loved how he always stopped what he was doing to pay attention to her, even if only for a minute or two.
from Finishing Touches 2003

Today, the daffodils and tulips are blDaffodilsooming, most of my tulips are yellow, and the forsythia surrounding the yard are boasting their yellow blooms. I may go out and do more planting today. I plant something every spring. Every place I’ve lived (except the one I wasn’t allowed), I planted things that would keep blooming long after we left.

Make the world prettier in some way!

~~ ~~ ~~
Another shout out to my hometown area of Peoria, IL with wishes for a fast recovery from the flooding.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Peoria Civic Center: FT Scenery


Jenna calmed as they drove into the heart of the city and she looked out over familiar buildings. Her eyes caught the Civic Center and as always, she studied the modern building. She couldn’t say she much liked the style, but Trevor did, and she had nice memories of it. Back in Eighty-two it opened with a Kenny Rogers concert, a big deal for her small city, or at least she thought it was. She was still married to Daniel then and she’d begged him to go with her. He had no interest, but Alan gave in. He also took Cheryl and Carrie so it wouldn’t only be the two of them. Three years later when Kenny returned, he was accompanied by Don Williams and Sawyer Brown. Jenna was in Chicago by then, living with Trevor, barely. Trevor agreed to go although she knew he didn’t enjoy it a lot, but he didn’t laugh at how excited she’d been not only to see her Star Search band live, but to see them in her hometown. He reminded her Peoria wasn’t her hometown. She grew up fifteen miles away in a little no-stoplight town, but she claimed the city, anyway, since that had been her home with Daniel, her choice to live with him there.

Jenna wasn’t sure why the town your parents put you in should be more your hometown than the one you first chose on your own. To her, it wasn’t. Well, she supposed it was. After all, it was where she’d met Alan, where she grew up with him, where she’d spent so much time walking around town, grabbing an ice cream cone, ambling around the park, or playing very bad tennis games with friends who were equally as bad, usually her cousin Karla. And they didn’t care how bad they were. It was for fun.  (from Final Strokes, unedited excerpt – do not copy)

~~ ~~ Gideon-LK Hunsaker
I well remember when the Civic Center went up, and yes, I was at that Kenny Rogers concert, although I didn’t remember that it was the first! I was also at the Kenny, Don Williams and Sawyer Brown show she mentions. (I think that’s the one where my thumbnail caught on fire!) Those concerts are strong memories and yes, I still listen to all three artists. We didn’t go to a lot of concerts, so when we did, it was a big deal. That still applies, also. It has to be someone special enough to be worth the expense and hassle. I live too far from the Civic Center to drop in as Jenna did, but each concert arena I’ve attended still has that special place in my heart, the one that holds the music!

(The charcoal drawing above is one I did during that same era, mid-Eighties.) 

Jenna mentions not caring much for the style of the Peoria Civic Center because her personal style is more traditional, softer, earthy, and she loves upbeat country-rock. Trevor, however, is modern, spunky, and abstract. He loves punk music and hard rock. She grew up in a little town no one has heard of. He grew up in Chicago. Like opposite colors on a color wheel, though, they work together in the same way the Peoria Civic Center one day has a rock concert, the next a sporting event, and then a ballet or opera.

If you’d like to check out Jenna’s story in Finishing Touches and delve further into her home area, jump over to my website where you can get it in Epub, Mobi, or PDF for only $1.10 through mid June.

[My thoughts are with those in Illinois and Missouri battling major flooding right now. Jenna’s beloved Illinois River has well overflowed its banks.]

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Yellow Balloons for Boston


Two yellow balloons

Smoke, Panic, Destruction
Bystanders, cheering
are now the runners, escaping
Victims and the terrified flee the sidewalks
and road and buildings, away
Helpers by the Dozens
flee to those injured, frightened
offering arms, feet, shelter,
Come, we will carry you
away, as the wind carries the smoke
the screams, the terror

The world watches
and two yellow balloons
float up into the sky

~~ ~~ ~~

My heart, as with much of the rest of the world, is with Boston and all those affected by the horrific attack on15 Apr 2013. As I watched footage, the searing sight of two yellow balloons released from a child’s hand gripped my soul.

I have spent many hours in Boston. It’s one of my favorite cities. I’ve written it into stories. I carry the memories, just as a good friend carried my daughter on his shoulders while we traveled Independence Trail years ago. That daughter is grown now. We live a couple of states away now.

I have lived in a terrorized zone and I understand how shaken everyone in the area will be for a long time to come. I pray for all those injured physically and mentally to find peace again. 

For those who were murdered… let there be justice.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Julia Belle Swain: FT scenery

SpiritofPeoria-HawkinsAccording to traced family history, I have some ancestry in common with Mark Twain. Maybe that’s where my love of boats, and especially old steamboats, comes from.

What a thrill it was when my Girl Scout troop arranged a short journey up and down the Illinois River on the Julia Belle Swain. Isn’t that a gorgeous name for a steamship? I vividly remember watching that big red paddle wheel rotate slowly into and out of the river, sloshing water up along with it, as I stood on the deck and the city crept by on both sides.

The Julia Belle docked in Peoria back on those days. By the time I graduated high school, she had moved on. I had no idea where she went and chose to believe she was elsewhere instead of other dreaded possibilities.
A boat is like living thing. It seems to have life of its own. And it deserves the respect that comes with that. At least in my mind that’s true.

In the late Eighties, the Julia Belle had been replaced with the Spirit of Peoria (pictured above), which looks much the same. To me, it wasn’t the same. It’s not the steamship I stood on and merged with as we rolled along the murky green river. It doesn’t have that “first time” and “new adventure” feel when I think of it. Still, I’m glad there’s still an old steamship representative in my home town area.

ILRiverinWinter-HawkinsI’ve just found that the Julia Belle is indeed docked somewhere. She’s sitting in Wisconsin and there is a new group trying to raise awareness and work at preserving her. They have plenty of photos on their Facebook Page, so go give it a look! (and maybe a like)

My memory of the Julia Belle and that day excursion were strong enough that I put her into my first novel, Finishing Touches, which is set in my home town area.

NEWS: Finishing Touches will be ten years old in June and I Finishing Touches-ebookplan to have its sequel out by then. If you’d like to read my first novel, which could aptly be defined as Mid-length New Adult with Romantic Elements, I will have it on the front page of my WEBSITE as an instant download upon payment for only $1.10 ($1 for the first book and .10 for 10 years). Choose Epub, Mobi, or PDF to best fit your reading device. This is a secure download through

I have very few prints left of this first edition, but a new edition will include both Finishing Touches and Final Strokes together. I have an incredible idea for the cover, or at least I think it will be incredible. ;-)  The ebook version will remain separate.

You can find the beginning of Finishing Touches on its site, as well as reviews, the book trailer, and the song used at the end.

Stay tuned for more looks into the setting of my debut novel and its soon-to-come sequel.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Tartan Day and following the band


The Declaration of Arbroath, which declared Scotland’s independence from England, was signed on April 6th, 1320.

Firstly it set the will and the wishes of the people above the King. Though they were bound to him 'both by law and by his merits' it was so that their freedom might be maintained. If he betrayed them he would be removed and replaced…

Secondly, the manifesto affirmed the nation's independence in a way no battle could, and justified it with a truth that is beyond nation and race. Man has a right to freedom and a duty to defend it with his life.   from

In 1997, Tartan Day became official across the United States in recognition of the Scots influence in America and that our own Declaration of Independence was modeled after the Declaration of Arbroath.


Edinburgh011-lkh500During the Creative Mojo radio interview, I mentioned that my Rehearsal series was inspired by my favorite band back in the 70s. It was “coming out day” as Nessa said, since I hadn’t said publicly which band that was. As it turns out, yes, the band was from Scotland and that gave a lot of us teenagers and pre-teens a huge interest in Scotland and in tartan. Hey, the BCR lads wore it to honor their BCR computer painting by LK Hunsakerheritage (or … to catch attention) so of course it was super cool, although in those days it was only super cool for Roller fans. It’s everywhere now, and it is “sick,” or whatever they say these days to mean cool, to wear plaid. Think it’s only circumstantial that it’s in vogue now that all those teens are now grown up and running things? Hm. Maybe.

Anyway, yes, Raucous, my band in Rehearsal, was inspired directly. And no, they are not meant to be an imitation. Raucous is an American band with a Scottish interloper, and they’re rock in the vein of Chicago and Journey meet KISS. As Kilts along the Royal MileI told Nessa, I was still a young teen when I created this story and these characters. (Don’t worry; the writing has been completely redone since then!) The idea of a new guy coming in affected my thoughts and of course the tartan thing is there (but not worn by my band), and I borrowed a couple of names as a tribute of sorts.

Mainly, Rehearsal comes from my music obsession and my obsession with wanting to know and understand people’s backgrounds, the whys and hows of what they do and their choices, even when they are people I don’t know. I’ve also made a habit of studying the ripple effect in interpersonal relationships. Everything we do affects those around us, even if we don’t see it. Rehearsal has a huge ripple effect to it.

-- What happens when you give up something you want to help someone else? How does it affect that someone long term?
-- What happens when you choose to stay quiet and let things take their course instead of guiding them?
-- What happens when you don’t tell someone how you feel?
-- What happens when you make judgments about things you don’t fully understand?

There are many, many other ripples in the story, but all of these things spread wider than any of the characters expect.

Dinner GuardianAnyway, it’s Tartan Day, so back to Scotland. The photos in this post are my own, taken in 2008 when we went on a whirlwind Scotland, Ireland, England trip. The guy to the left is not a Rehearsal character (so far). He stood guard over dinner in a Medieval Castle dungeon.

The guy at the top is a bagpiper we found upon our entrance into the Highlands. We stopped and talked with him (yes, you have to love that accent!) and got our photos taken and picked up a Highland Sounds CD.

Along the way, everyone we met was incredibly friendly and The Wee Whisky Shopit’s hard to go anywhere else and see as many smiles as we did across Scotland. Maybe that’s because we were so happy to be there they were laughing at us. Or because their Whisky is THAT good. (In Scotland, it is whisky, not whiskey.)

LKinScotlandAlthough I began writing this series looooong before I ever visited Scotland, our trip provided some luscious detail that has been and will be included more here and there as it fits. (To the left is me along Loch Ness.)

Now what I need for the series is to tour with a rock band so I can to add to my internet research with more luscious details. Okay, that’s not likely, but then I never expected to meetwith Duncan Faure the BCR, either, and in recent years, I have met two of them. with Alan LongmuirNo, they are not like the characters I created to work with the story. Hm, well, maybe bits and pieces are similar. ;-)

Happy Tartan Day to all Scottish Americans! And to all who love Scotland and all things tartan for whatever reason.

Here’s an excerpt from Rehearsal: A Different Drummer when Susie meets the Scottish interloper for the first time:

~~ ~~ ~~

As Susie walked beside him, she did her best not to let her nervousness show. What was wrong with her? She hadn’t been nervous when she met the other guys; well, not very. And she was nineteen now, not sixteen as she’d been on her first visit.

The guitarist’s eyes remained on her face. They were gorgeous: bright blue, with long lashes, and so shockingly direct. She generally didn’t like stubble on a man’s chin, but his accentuated his ruggedness. Maybe that wasn’t the right word. It was more ... a sensual aura. As she had felt at a greater distance, the man truly emitted pure sensuality.

“Suse, this is Duncan O’Neil. Susie Brooks.”

She barely heard Evan, but she already knew his friend’s name.

He extended a hand without releasing her eyes. “It is a pleasure.”

She felt the calluses on his fingers as he gripped her hand firmly, but carefully, as though trying not to hurt her. “Thank you. It’s nice to meet you finally, since I’ve heard so much.” Good. She had managed to keep her voice from shaking.

He glanced at Evan with a slightly raised eyebrow, just one. It was adorable.

“I know you remember me talking about Susie.” Evan touched her back again, her lower back: a possessive touch that didn’t make much sense, considering.

Duncan noticed and released her hand. He studied her as though trying to remember. Evan obviously hadn’t talked about her much.

“My friend from Pennsylvania. I wrote that she moved out here.”

Now, a sign of recognition. “The one your mum took care of?” He tilted his head with a touch of a frown. “He did no’ describe you well. I was picturing a young girl, which you are no’.”

A young girl? Was that how Evan saw her?

“I can no’ imagine why anyone would no’ want you around.”

Susie pulled her eyes away in hopes he wouldn’t see the warmth she could feel crawling into her cheeks. Why was he getting to her? It wasn’t as though she had never received a compliment from a guy. She’d received plenty, but most had only been lines, not real.

“I am sorry. I did no’ mean t’ embarrass you.”

She forced an imitation calm and grinned at him. “No, it’s ... I was thinking the same thing ... about you... I mean...” Cursing herself silently, she shook her head and took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. It’s been a long week. What I mean is ... Mike was just giving you a hard time. You fit with the band well. I hope you’ll stay and give it a try.”

“Hey, that is a compliment, coming from Susie.” Stu jumped in and nudged Duncan’s shoulder. “She’s the one who always has an objection for everyone we audition.”

Duncan barely glanced at Stu and his eyes were back on her. “D’ you hang with the band much?”

Band talk. She could handle that. “Pretty often. Whenever I’m not working.”

“In that case, I migh’ just hang around a while.”

ChaoticCurrents-thRehearsal: The Series
- A Different Drummer
- The Highest Aim
- Of Chaotic Currents
- books 4-6 still to come

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Scattered and un-Constrained


I’m all over the net. Authors are expected to be all over the net these days, even if you aren’t self-published. I’ve seen so many authors who said they were approached by a publisher but the publisher first wanted to know how they planned to market. The publishing world has come to this. Authors must market, also.

I’m bad at it. I admit that straight out. I like to chat with people. I don’t like to sell myself. Family, friends, and supportive readers sell my books far better than I do (and I’m eternally grateful for that!). Still, I am all over the net. I own or am part of eight different blogs by now. I’m at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+,, Nanowrimo,  Goodreads, LibraryThing, Myspace (though I haven’t touched that in some time), among others, and on some of those, I now have two or more accounts, one for LK Hunsaker and one for Ella M. Kaye, and pages for Elucidate Publishing and Elucidations. Along with this, I help network for Sandplay Voices, as the network coordinator.

During the Creative Mojo interview (20 March 2013), one thing Nessa asked was how constrained I felt as a romance writer. Constrained? I’m far too scattered to feel constrained. Of course that’s not what she meant.

What she meant was that the romance genre today has very strict guidelines as to what publishers will accept, to include a very limited word count. I understand the concept of that. As I said in the interview, a lot of readers expect certain things from the genre they choose and they will pull away from an author or publisher who does not give them what they expect. Certainty is comforting. There’s a lot to be said for getting what you expect from fiction, since, let’s face it, we can’t get that from daily life. I think that’s a big part of why romance is constantly the best selling fiction genre. We can be assured of a happy ending, and a limited word count assures that we won’t have to wait too long to get that happy ending.

I fully understand. I can sit and read a romance while hubby is watching golf and let my brain unwind while I enjoy someone else’s fun characters and make-believe worlds that take me somewhere else for a while. I don’t have to try to figure out what will happen. I can just enjoy the ride, and often, that’s enough. When we’re out on the bike, I’m often asked why I don’t get my own instead of always sitting on the back of hubby’s. Nope. Not interested. I just want to enjoy the ride without having to watch for signs and pot holes.

To a lot of readers, that sounds terribly boring. I understand that, too. I think golf is incredibly boring while others, those who really understand the game and its nuances, find it highly interesting. I love baseball. Many find that boring. To each her own.

But Nessa is right. The romance market is constrained. All commercial genres are constrained. It’s not only publishers constraining it. Readers who want what they want constrain it. Why publish what won’t sell? Makes sense.

I can say I’m not constrained. I can say I write what I want to write and the way I want to write it because I’m self-published. Of course, getting readers to give something different a try is another story, especially when you’re self-published and a lot of stories people throw out there because it’s easy now is … well, I’ll say it … a waste of a reader’s time. Yes, a lot of it is. (Honestly, I feel that way about FB games and hitting a little ball just to find it and hit it again, too, but it’s just my opinion.)

Anyway, yes, I’m scattered. In between all of that marketing and chatting with people, there is the actual writing thing. It’s easy to lose track of that main goal in between the musts of publishing and convincing people you’re worth reading. So if you email and I take forever to answer, or if I forget to reply elsewhere, or if I start to do something and it sits echoing for some time… well, I’m probably actually writing and I’ll have to ask you to bear with me.

Or I’m watching my birds out the den window or playing in my garden (Oh… I can hear the “talk about boring” comments now!) or taking photos from the back of the Harley. Oh, and now and then bills need to be paid and laundry needs to be folded…

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Radio Show Rewind

286px-Yeti-USB-Microphone-publicdomainI was honored to be invited to a talk radio show just the other day. Now, I’ve never done talk radio; in general, I’d much rather be interviewed in print. I write better than I talk. But how could I resist? I like doing new things – okay, sometimes I do. And this is an artsy show where they celebrate creativity. Right up my alley.

So, if you go to Creative Mojo with Mark Lipinski and click on the March 20 show, I’m Nessa Reifsnyder’s first guest. We talk about writing and creativity and inspiration and publishing, in particular self-publishing.

With the radio show format naturally creating a short and concise interview, and with Nessa touching on so many pertinent issues, I thought I’d use that discussion and expand on it here over a series of blogs.

Go listen to the show and then come back for discussion. If there are things you think should be addressed further, please comment below!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ever wonder what I sound like?

Okay, probably not. But if you are odd enough to wonder (and I do like odd people, by the way), I'll be on live internet radio today.

When invited, my urge was to bolt, but then my constant interest in doing new things kicked in and I'm very honored to have been asked.

Mark Lipinski's Creative Mojo broadcasts every Wednesday from 3 to 5 Eastern. I'm scheduled for about 3:20 today. If you can't catch it live, they will have it archived.

Here's the info link: A Pocketful of Creative Mojo!

I'll be chatting with guest host Nessa Reifsnyder about creativity and self-publishing. If you do listen, be lenient. This is my very first radio appearance!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

3-13-13 or Shades of Art & Porn

MaksbeingpaintedI love Pinterest. I really do. As a visual and artsy person, it’s a wonderful place to spend some downtime. Of course, I also use it for promo and have boards to depict each of my books in images. A lighthouse photo I found there last year inspired a new story.

They might, however, need humans to watch for inappropriate images instead of bots, which I’m guessing is what they use.

I also love Michelangelo. He is my all-time favorite artist. The guy was pure passionate genius mixed with a lot of hard work and creative talent. Of course I re-pinned someone’s photo of the David in all its glory. It’s a truly gorgeous sculpture that I’ve been lucky enough to see in real life. The muscles and sinews are life-like, other than being marble, and it does show the beauty of the male body. Michelangelo did believe the male body is far more artistically beautiful than the female body. I very much agree with him, although maybe I’m biased. David is more than just a statue of a legendary Biblical figure. And it’s more than the small man defeats the giant theme. It’s an artistic statement of the beauty of the human body.

It got deleted by the site for nudity.

Now anyone who has been on the site knows darn well what kind of pictures you can find that show pretty much everything and likely barely covered in lazy black undergarments and in provocative photos. So I was rather aghast that Michelangelo’s David was removed.

Being the smart aleck I can be at times, I put it back up, covered by a big fig leaf with bright red border. Maybe I should have used black lace undergarments.

Either way, I mentioned it on Facebook and it led to a conversation about the difference between art and pornography. Many artists, as they call themselves, have done shows of nude photos in the name of art and they are open to the public. Is this art? I think that’s borderline. Maybe, depending on composition and such. But then what’s to keep artists from posting any kind of nude pose online and claiming artistic license? And why would a nude marble statue be less okay for public viewing than a photo of a woman in black lace lingerie?

It all comes down to common sense. We all know David is an artistic masterpiece, as are Renoir’s nude women and other classics. They are, however, paint or marble. Does it follow, then, that anyone could sit and draw an obscene pose and call it art that should be publicly available? Of course not. (Yes, obscene is a judgment call, but I bet you all know what I mean.)

As I see it, sex in fiction is the same. Is it there just for the titillation factor (or for the sales)? Or is it artistry and character development? There is a difference. Each viewer/reader has his/her own taste, of course, but common sense is common sense. There is gray area. But there is also black and white and the difference between the two is clear.

By the way, the photo above is not mine and I have no rights to it. Maksim Chmerkovskiy posted it on Facebook, and art lover that I am, I couldn’t help appreciate its beauty. He’s a dancer, you know.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Labels of Gray

Snowy Trees in Gray-Feb2013

I was explaining Chick Lit to someone the other day, or trying to explain it since that genre isn’ t my forté and I haven’t read much of it. To be honest, I started one or two of them and set them aside. But I wanted something light recently to read in between two fairly heavy reads (yes, I have made a habit in the past few years of reading 2-3 books at once – why not, since I write 2-3 books at once?) so I grabbed one from my to-read shelf I’d picked up at a library sale some time ago. The whole thing screamed Chick Lit and light easy read, from cover to description.

The first third of the book definitely screamed Chick Lit. And then it changed. But back to that later…

While explaining Chick Lit, I compared it to Women’s Fiction, which is a term I don’t appreciate a lot since it’s mainstream fiction that would just be called Fiction if centered on a male character and was written by a male (why not Men’s Fiction, then?). Anyway, I said Chick Lit is a lighter version of Women’s Fiction, usually centered on 30-40 somethings, working moms and career women, usually light and humorous but with serious issues such as marital problems or trying to date with children involved and so on.

When Chick Lit was first labeled as such, it was meant as a derisive term, meaning throw-away type books only suitable for women who didn’t want to read “serious” literature. Hm. Like many derisive labels, authors and readers of Chick Lit grabbed the term and gladly used it to define what they were writing or reading and fully enjoying. There are wonderful Chick Lit books out there by a myriad of authors - female authors talking with their readers about specifically female issues in a nice camaraderie style, with humor, because let’s face it, the strongest women do have a good sense of humor that helps us deal with everything under the sun.

Back in 2009, I wrote a post about my genre and how to define it since it doesn’t fit neatly into any one category already accepted in the industry. Author Sydney Logan stopped by that old post yesterday to comment. Apparently, she writes the way I do: with deep social issues and commentary highlighted by a budding/growing romance that becomes central to the story. How wonderful! I see on her blog that she’s been compared to Nicholas Sparks, as I have as well, but I haven’t seen Sparks called anything but a romance writer. Maybe it’s time for a new label to take hold, a different offshoot of women’s fiction (that men can use, as well, if it fits).  But the question is still: What do we call it?

Author Celia Yeary wrote a post recently about the difference between romances and love stories. One publisher defined a love story as of a married couple, but I think that limits the definition far too much. All of my books can be called love stories but the characters aren’t married and may not get married. Love doesn’t always equal marriage; sometimes love equals letting go because it’s better for one or both of you. It’s still a love story.

And then, of course, there’s the new genre New Adult, which I love, because I write plenty of that. It’s somewhere between teen romance/young adult and adult romance. It focuses on legal aged teens and twenties but it’s romance more than coming-of-age and a bit past coming-of-age from what I gather so far. Some of my work fits the New Adult category, but much of it doesn’t.

I still call what I do Literary Romance. So far, it’s not a very trusted genre term when I use it because people haven’t heard it, or because literary fiction and romance as a genre seem to be at complete opposite ends of the novel scale. Maybe they are, but as one reviewer said, it “shouldn’t work, but it does.”

Most, or all, labels are pretty well shady when it comes to a strict definition, therefore all the recent genre blending. I’m always amused when I see a book described as something like “contemporary fantasy romantic suspense … with a Moon at DuskTwist!” And I’m still waiting to see “literary erotica” which could happen.

I have to wonder: do readers actually care how a novel is labeled? (And authors, please please do not call your book a fictional novel. Novels are fiction. It’s redundant. Please know what redundant means.)

Maybe we should stop labeling and just make sure our blurb explains what the reader should expect. Yes, I hear publishers and bookstores yelling about that idea since they would be hard to organize without labels.

So… how about Literary Romance? Why not? Any bookstore out there ready to add a new section?

Oh, about that book I’m reading that screamed Chic Lit? After the first third, it turned heavily literary instead. Elizabeth Buchan’s Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman will get a nice review on Goodreads soon.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Prerogative and Creative

Pier Lights original art 2012 LK HunsakerIt’s a writer’s prerogative to change her mind.

Okay, it’s supposed to say a woman’s prerogative, but I think writer fits in there, and since I’m both woman and writer, it entitles me to change my mind as much as I want, right?

Well, since I’m an indie writer it does. That’s a large part of why I’m indie.

Every time I do a book signing I tell potential readers that it’s romantic but not spicy: sensual at times here and there, yes, but not spicy. I don’t do spicy.

Well, you know … growth means change. It also means expanding out of your comfort zone at times (not that I haven’t done that many, many times already in different areas of my life). I’m also indie because I don’t want to do things the same as everyone else just to fit in enough to be accepted. There’s nothing wrong with it. Commonalities are good. It’s just not me.

A large percentage of romance readers like spice in their stories. Sure. Don’t we all like some spice in our lives in some form? It’s normal and natural. And you know what? I don’t have little kids anymore. My daughter, who insists on getting every story I write first and can’t wait for the next one, is nearly 24 and married. She reads another LKH who I’ve heard is basically a vampire porn writer (that could be exaggerated – I don’t do vampires so I wouldn’t know) so I doubt anything I might write would shock her (*insert laugh here, as very few kids are easily shocked by much of anything anymore).

And honestly, I’ve read steamier, more vulgar scenes in many literary novels than I have in many romance novels. Seriously. I learned much about sex, at least the act of it, from literary fiction when I was young (yes, I was a geek who read literary way back then). In general, the romance spice tends to be less vulgar and with more feeling behind it, at least what I’ve read (there are exceptions). To be honest, some of those literary authors made it sound fully disgusting.

Well anyway, what I’m slowly getting around to is that … yes, I do spicy.

In November I started a short book for Nanowrimo based around an injured ballerina. I didn’t know where I was going with it. I had my character, Caroline, and a basic situation of her injury and her “what now” moment, and I let it go from there. I also decided, since Nanowrimo is supposed to be a challenge, and since I’d done it eight times already and knew I could get to 50K in a month, that I would make it more of a challenge and make this one a spicy romance, a romance that fits the commercial romance genre category, not too long, without subplots leading everywhere, without a bunch of social issues (okay, I fudged slightly on that one, but most romances do have some kind of social issue involved). In one month, I had her complete story.

It wasn’t at all that hard to break my not spicy rule. The hard part came when it was finished and Now What Do I DO With It set in. “Well,” my little voice said, “you’re an author. You publish your books.” “Yes,” my other voice said, “but I don’t do spicy and many of my readers don’t want it.”  “Yes, but some of them will, and a lot of readers you don’t have yet will.”  “But… but…“

So, a pen name came about as a compromise. Easy enough. Readers of LK Hunsaker’s fiction will still find only lightly sensual scenes and the pen name can take the fall for the spice.

Except it’s not that easy. Next came Do I let people KNOW it’s me writing in that pen name? If I don’t, I start from the bottom in my marketing, from a completely unknown name. Yes, that’s a daunting thought. But, I did it once; I can do it again.

Back and forth and round and round with the two voices arguing…

The winning argument was one I told myself long ago when I first started to publish: If you don’t want someone to know you wrote it, then why write it? If you’re ashamed of it, why put it out?

It’s an honesty thing. Now, I fully understand the many wonderful reasons for a pen name writers keep hidden. I do. And I nearly let every one of those reasons talk me out of equating my real name with the pen name. But there’s a little hitch in my brain somewhere that makes honesty a top priority. Not everyone appreciates it all the time, I know, particularly in today’s world of politically correct sweetness to hide true thoughts (ugh!), but don’t ask for my opinion if you don’t really want my opinion.

And if you don’t like spice, stick with my LK Hunsaker books.

For those who do like some spice, look up my brand new Ella M. Kaye line. So far I only have a Facebook page and a Google+ page, but I’ll work on a better landing spot, possibly on a page here on my blog. PierLights2012-dark72med
That artwork up top is for the cover of Pier Lights, the first Ella M. Kaye novel, which will be the first of a lighthouse and dancers series. This one is set in Folly Beach, South Carolina. Others in the series will feature different cities around the States. With advice from helpful fellow authors, I put it in an image program, darkened it and highlighted the couple, then gave the lighthouse a light. Of course, it still doesn’t look like a typical romance genre cover since most of them now use photos of real people. I’m an artist. And I may bend to certain things, but only to an extent. Remember the old romances?

ArabellaLa Novia de PendorriPrince and the Pilgrim

Art. :-)  I like art. I also love some of the gorgeous modern romance covers, but I love the art/fiction combination, so that’s what I’m going with.

So… Ella M. Kaye is Sexy, Smart, & Slightly Dark Romance.
Spicy, but not vulgar. Artsy, but on the darker side of the arts. Short, fairly quick reads, but with emotional depth.

They will be ebook only, with possibly a very small print run I’ll keep on hand for those who really want them in print instead.

Pier Lights will be free on Smashwords only the day of its release: February 14th, 2013.  If you grab it and enjoy it, please tell your friends! It will soon be out at most major ebook retailers, as well. Watch the Facebook page for updates.