Oahu is filled with veterans returning for the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941. Likewise, a battalion of soldiers returned and another departed - thus is the life in the military. Today I welcome back an author who is intimately familiar with military life ... and romance books. Please join me in welcoming LK Hunsaker.
Aloha Kim and SOS Aloha Readers!
I was here several months ago with my 2010 novel, Protect The Heart, and I much appreciate the opportunity to come back to talk about my 2011 novel, Moondrops & Thistles!
First, a little about me for some background to the story:
In December of 1990, I was living in a 4th floor apartment in Osterholz-Scharmbeck, West Germany (it was still West Germany at that point) with my one year old daughter and my Army Corporal husband. We hadn’t been married long and my first airplane ride other than a little four-seater was from Texas to Germany in March of 1987. I was 21. We’d been married 4 months. My daughter, who came about 3 years before we planned, was born in a military hospital in Germany. She traveled with us to fests and kegel bahns and down the Rhine River to explore castles, as well as around Europe by train and stroller.
In December, though, my husband got the call. Desert Shield had started. Desert Storm was on the horizon. We learned in the middle of the holidays that he would be part of it. When the shock wore off a bit, and we didn’t have much time to let it wear off since he was to leave in January, we decided my daughter and I would go back to stay with my family, since we had no idea what would happen from there. First, we waited, and stayed with him as long as we could. He didn’t want the goodbye on base, so we did that at home and I held my baby at the 4th floor window and watched as a friend gave him a ride in, on the way to war.
It was something we never imagined. He joined with the thought of being one of those who would go to weather-ravaged places to help them clean up and be safe and pull their lives together, to possibly be part of riot protection in a neighboring state, to extend his survival skills knowledge he’d already learned much of from being an Eagle scout. He was as prepared as he could be. Well-trained. Capable. Strong.
I wasn’t prepared for it. I spent too much time in front of the television watching the news and holding my baby, hoping she’d grow up knowing her father. On the other hand, I went on with things. I returned to school (since I’d left to go to Germany with him). My sister babysat. Mom helped look after the rambunctious little girl with blonde curls who was attached to her daddy’s hip from the beginning while I did homework at night. I was interviewed by my college paper that made my comment of being used to separations sound different than it was. It made me sound cold, like it didn’t matter. In reality, all I wanted to do was sit and watch for news and hold my baby close. But I was an Army wife. We don’t do that. We go on with things. And wait.
During my following writing career, and through many more years of following my soldier and during plenty of going on with things and waiting, I often thought that story needed to be written. From inside. By an Army spouse who has sat home and waited out a war and all the other accompanying daily things of a military career. I had trouble making myself do it. It was too personal, still too raw.
Last November, it happened. In 2009, my 4th novel, Off The Moon, came out. It was my most intense read but what got the most comments was Daws, my secondary character. He was Ryan’s bodyguard and friend, a no-nonsense type with a well-built capable frame, intelligent mind, and big heart he doesn’t tend to show. He’s not always easy on Ryan, my young pop star with much to learn, but he has reason. So many of my readers raved about Daws it was as though he was the main character. They wanted more of his story. Who am I to argue with readers?
I have done Nanowrimo for the past 8 years now. In November 2010 when I needed a “quick” write that I could do in between the book I’d been working on, I figured why not? Give Daws his story. Make it a novella-length fun read and put it out there for those who wanted it.
By the end of November, I had the first whole draft of Fred Dawson’s story. Turns out it wasn’t meant to be a quick, short write. I had 97,000 words and it still needed filling in. So I did. I knew while writing Off The Moon that Daws was ex-military. I didn’t know I would turn him into a Desert Storm vet and finally let that story I’d considered writing for years come out.
Except I changed it. Deanna is not an Army spouse. She’s an independent transplanted New York City gal trying to make her way in the world of advertising. She’s headstrong, talented, capable, and a little too erring when it comes to her choices in men. By the time she meets this big guy with nearly shaved hair sitting on a NYC bus stop after midnight in the pouring rain, she’s had it with men, with relationships, with lies. And yet, she can’t resist talking to him, checking on him.
That’s the story behind the story. There is much of my Army spouse life in the pages. There is much of my husband in Daws. (He loves the book, by the way, and helped it along with military details and proof reading, although many of my books are “too girly” for him!)
This book is different for another reason, as well. Although I write romance, it’s very mild romance, sweet as far as love scenes and yet more intense with the mix of literary fiction and some adult language and situations. After I finished the full 160,000 word version of Moondrops & Thistles, I couldn’t resist my first thought of making it shorter, spicier straight romance. My characters lend themselves well to it. So, I went back. I cut out some of the literary part of the story, societal stuff, some of the military insight, and some family background stuff, and I made the love scenes spicier. Not terribly spicy still, but more what a lot of readers hope to find in romance. While the full version is both ebook and print, the spicier version is ebook only. You can find both at Smashwords.com at this link.
|Cover of full version|
The following scene is the same in both versions. It’s that midnight meeting in the rain scene that was actually the first part of the book I wrote.
Eyes clenched, he tilted his face up to the rain as it grew harder, more insistent. Listening to the rain hit the metal and cement, and tires throwing water that didn’t quite reach his feet, he thought of the boy. What was he supposed to do about him?
“The bus isn’t running any longer tonight.”
Daws swiveled toward the voice. A woman with an expensive-looking dark trench coat and a pastel-swirl umbrella gave him a curious stare.
“If that’s what you’re waiting for...” She took a step forward. “Are you all right?”
“Fine. I’m not waiting for the bus.” He stood automatically. Then he wondered if he shouldn’t have, if it would look threatening.
“No?” Another step forward allowed the street light to highlight dark hair, dark with a touch of red, and touches of makeup that looked uncared-for, half worn off through the day. “What are you waiting for?”
"Nothing? You’re sitting in the rain getting soaked to the skin at a bus stop not waiting for anything?”
He saw amusement spread over her face. “I’m not crazy, if that’s what you’re thinking. But thank you for checking.”
She grinned. “No, you don’t look crazy, although you do look in need of company. Mind if I sit with you?”
Maybe she was crazy. “Why?” He studied her eyes as she took a couple more steps closer. She didn’t look crazy. She looked ... beautiful, shining, very much alive.
“Maybe I’m in need of company.”
Daws took a step backward. “Thank you, but as I said, I’m not looking for ... anything.”
She laughed. “Don’t worry. I’m not hitting on you. And I’m not a hooker. Do I look like one?”
“Hard to tell these days. Didn’t mean to offend you.”
“I’m Deanna. And I’m not. A hooker or offended. I am amused, and I’m maybe a little more naive than I should be, and I’m greatly intrigued as to why you’re out here in the rain after midnight. So what do you say? Can I sit down? My feet are killing me. I wore the wrong shoes. I tend to do that.”
Daws glanced down at her feet. The heels were at least two inches. “At least they match each other.”
She laughed again. “Well, I am just a little more together than that. Maybe not much, but a little.” She took another step closer. “Are you going to ask a lady to sit?”
“Depends. Why are you out here alone in the rain after midnight?”
A deep sigh raised her shoulders and lowered them again. “Didn’t want to be inside alone again. You’re safe, right? You look safe enough.”
“Do I? You’re one of the first to think so.”
She moved in close enough he could see a hint of green in her eyes. Her gaze held his, then fell along the rest of him, and back up again. “I can see why. But they apparently don’t know what to look for. I feel safe enough. And honestly, I feel safer standing here talking to you than I have with any of the jerks I’ve ever dated. Maybe I’m the one who’s crazy. Am I?”
“I haven’t met the jerks you’ve dated.”
Another grin. “That’s not what I meant.”
“I won’t bother you.”
She nodded. “Yes. I thought you wouldn’t. You don’t look at me like I’m prey.”
Prey. Daws could see why men would. She was so full of life, so open. Vivacious. Charming. He dropped his gaze and motioned toward the bench, then did what he could to wipe the rain off.
“Oh, don’t bother. Nothing will go through this coat.” She stopped him and lowered, crossing one leg over another and motioning for him to join her.
When he did, she scooted closer and put half her umbrella over his head.
“You don’t need to do that.”
“You’re getting wet.”
"I’m aware of that fact.”
“You want to get wet?”
He shrugged. “I’ve been worse than wet.” Actually, he’d been much worse than wet. He’d been covered in thick mud, sprayed with CS gas yearly in training to be sure he could handle it if it was ever real, marched through sleet and snow drifts, was nearly frozen more than once, and he’d been shot at. Someone worrying about him getting wet was almost laughable.
“Well.” She turned enough to see him better. “I’ll feel better if I share this with you, so you can just put up with it.”
Ebook buy link.
Print buy link and from most major retailers. Print also available from the author, personally signed (great for Christmas gifts!) at this link.
Be sure to follow my blog for the rest of my 10 day, 7 blog tour, and a grand prize at this link.
Thanks again, Kim! It’s always great to be here!
Mahalo, LK, for joining us! LK is giving away two ecopies of MOONDROPS & THISTLES - one full length and one spicy version. To enter the giveaway,
1. Leave a comment about making lemonade from lemons - have you turned something unplanned into something good?
When we lived in Baltimore, I expected hubby to be reassigned to the Pentagon. Instead, he received orders for Hawaii. You are probably thinking, "How can that be a lemon?" At the time, my father was in the final stages of Alzheimers' and I didn't want to live so far away. But we moved and I found an outlet that my father - an avid reader - would appreciate: a book blog!
2. This giveaway is open to all readers.
3. Comments are open through Saturday, December 10, 10 pm in Hawaii. I'll post the winners on Sunday, December 11.
Kim in Hawaii
|Thistles on Kauai|
Check out my guest blog at the Reading Reviewer with a photo essay of The Enduring Legacy of Pearl Harbor at this link.