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…