Saturday, 21 May 2011

Shorts with a Military Edge, and then some: LK Hunsaker

Fred Dawson yanked his face from the onslaught of cold water thrown by a passing car, but otherwise, TowardTheSky-covermdhe didn’t bother to acknowledge it. After what he’d been through the past few months, icy dirty water gushing over him was almost laughable. Except he’d yet found a good reason, or even the tiniest excuse, to laugh since he’d been home.

Home. He supposed it was home. It was at least as close as he had. Why he sat on a saturated wooden bench alongside the road past one a.m., in the rain no less, when he had a comfortable warm apartment waiting for him was anyone’s guess. Truth be told, he did know. He would never admit it to anyone, but he did know. Life brimmed to the top out here. It was everywhere he looked. Normalcy. Shops with closed signs in the windows, the edges highlighted by security lights within. An all-night convenience gas station with an occasional customer stopping and dashing through the rain to get whatever he had to have at this time of the morning. Protection from a last-minute romantic encounter, maybe. A case of beer to get through the rest of the dark before daylight.
And the rain. It had a life of its own as well as producing and supporting life. He watched it run along the road in search of a drain to empty into. He focused on how it panged his bare arms and slid off, leaving goose bumps in its wake. He blinked it off his eyelashes, tasted its crispness on his lips.
So starts “Toward The Sky,” a free read short story at Smashwords.

Daws came to life as a secondary character in my 2009 novel, Off The Moon. Someone once asked a group of us authors what we do when a secondary character threatens to take over the story. My answer: I create short stories for them that relate to the book and post them free as an added bonus for readers, or as promotion to draw them into the novel.

Of course all major secondaries have to have backgrounds. As I wrote Off The Moon, I realized Daws, Ryan’s bodyguard, had to be ex military. It fit with OffTheMoon-LK HunsakerRyan’s story. It added more to Ryan’s story. The reader doesn’t ever learn that in Off The Moon, since Ryan doesn’t and he’s the POV character. Still, a lot of readers fell in love with Daws and wanted more of him. So okay, “Toward The Sky” was born to show how Daws met the love of his life, Deanna.

And then it grew. It seems Daws had his own full story to tell. Deanna did, as well.

As my longs can lead to shorts, my shorts can Moondrops & Thistles: cover art by LK Hunsakerapparently lead to longs. Daws and Deanna have their own novel coming this summer, titled Moondrops & Thistles.

Today is Armed Forces Day here in the US. It felt appropriate to highlight the military in my fiction, and especially in my short stories, in honor and support of those who give so much of themselves for us.

In Moondrops, Daws is still active Army, a highly respected Sergeant and squad leader who takes his men into Desert Storm. It takes you deep within the scenes of Army life and flips back and forth between Deanna in NYC. This novel will be a first for me. The print version is part romance, larger part literary. However, there will be two ebook versions: one the same as the print, all 135,000 words of it, with only mild romantic scenes, and the other version shorter, less literary with fewer social issues and subplots, and a bit more steamy. It’ll be my first steamy. We’ll see how it goes. Winking smile

One of Deanna’s first experiences with Army life is captured in another free short: A First Thanksgiving. She and Daws also feature in a seasonal short: Christmas Chains. (The shorts are included in the novel, but have been revamped to fit.)
Not all of my shorts are military related, however. And not all of them are novel related, although most are. At my Smashwords page, you’ll find more mixed literary/romance (Scattered Fake Sunflowers), straight romance (Growing Season, Beagle and Sneakers), and straight literary (Sleigh Bells on Fourth Avenue, Jacob’s Cross, Mount Good Take, Evan’s Story, The Water’s Touch). I have several more in the works and a couple of anthologies to come. Maybe I’ll put up my comedy featuring a little boy who sees things in a different way in time to be there by the time you get there. It’s called “Teacher’s Pet,” and I’ve had comments on it that range from I LOVE IT, I laughed all the way through, to… It’s weird. Ha!

Note: my shorts are super short, roughly 2,000 words each and 5-10 minute reads. And they’re free! Did I say that yet?

As a bonus for stopping by Lindsay’s to read my ramblings, let me know if any of my novel-related shorts pulled you in to want to read the book and I’ll send you a Smashwords coupon for 10% off any you choose. Email loraine at and say you saw the offer here.

Oh, and I’m an Army Wife (Ret.) so my research was quite personal. A huge thank you to those still serving and to those who support them.

LK Hunsaker
~Literary Romance with an Artsy Twist~




Celia Yeary said...

Loraine--I remember reading Toward the Sky, and about Daws.
There's such a special way of writing short stories, I didn't think I'd ever write one. But I'm learning they have a place, now, in my works and my reading.
You write long and short very well.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Immediate and compelling excerpt, LK. Interesting article, too - I really admire the way your shorter and longer fiction 'meshes' together.

I think you idea of writing out a character who threatens to 'take over' a story is brilliant!

I agree with Celia - you write long and short very well indeed.

LK Hunsaker said...

Celia and Lindsay, thank you! I never used to think I could do shorts, either, given how long I usually write. One month, for the heck of it, I entered a flash fiction competition and had a great time writing 500 word stories. It started a new short obsession and I think sharpens my longs, as well.

Savanna Kougar said...

LK, Fascinating how your stories mesh, long and short. I've done flash scenes for my heroines and heroes that were free reads. However, not offered at Smashwords.

Flash Fiction is a great way to learn to write short and more powerfully, imo.

~saluting your success~

Linda Acaster said...

Thanks for sharing, LK. It's interesting to read how other writers tackle short fiction. I once turned a short story into a 40K novella, but I think only the beginning and the end stayed the same. It would have been easier to write a very separate novella. I applaud you being able to do it with such aplomb.

LK Hunsaker said...

Savanna, I'm glad you do free shorts for your characters, also. I think it's a great way to introduce people to your writing. As a reader, I'm wary of new authors, especially with ebooks, and a good excerpt or short can make the difference whether or not I buy.

All of my books will connect in some way. ;-)

LK Hunsaker said...

Linda, I tend to write my novels in scenes (not always, but often), so it's familiar to me already to fit short stories from someone's life into a full book. I did get comments from one of my novel-related stories that it was "a teaser" and I guess it was (partly on purpose!), but it also showed character growth enough to be a full story. I will always object to a "scene" without growth or a point of some kind being called a story. Two different things.

StephB said...

Loraine, I love your military themed stories, being an Army Veteran myself. Do you approach short story writing differently than from your novel writing? How long does it take you to write a short? What do you focus on? Writing a scene? A character? A vignette?


LK Hunsaker said...

Hey Steph, my shorts are usually written in one sitting in a half hour or so and then I go back later to look them over. I like the spontaneity of it and so I never edit them too much.

My focus is always a scene, that particular pivotal moment that changes at least one of the characters. Of course that also means it focuses on character growth. ;-)

Great questions!