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My new site and blog are live! Come visit at www.aimiekrunyan.com to follow all my writerly antics from now on! Thank you all for following this space for the past year!

~Aimie

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

The Virtues of a Staycation

As it happens very frequently this time of year, I had a lump of paid time off to use before August 1 and my husband didn’t. Nor did we have the funds for another trek to the Caribbean or other exotic locale. The solution? The Staycation!

Minimal planning? Minimal cost? No screaming toddlers in a hotel? Sounds awesome to me!

The best part was that a good friend came into town so she and I could paint the town red together. We also had our fabulous babysitter on autodial so we could have a balance of kid time and adult time. 

Shopping? Check. Visits to local attractions? Yup. Gossip and catching up over calorie-laden lunches and mid-day martinis (sans kids!). HECK YES! Not to mention hot springs, historic railways, and getting to pet a Tesla at the dealership in the mall in Denver. 

What did it not include? Cooking. Packing. Making travel arrangements. All the parts of a vacation that add to the stress of the trip and detract from the enjoyment. Plus? I got to sleep in my own bed. Even those among you with the most severe cases of Wanderlust have to chalk that up as a “pro” for the Staycation.

The “cons” are obvious. The temptation to stay home and do laundry is great. There isn’t the change of environment that can be so invigorating if you travel further afield. But in most areas, there are plenty of touristy things the locals overlook, new restaurants to try, myriad festivals and events to participate in, and new people to meet. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE traveling. Love it. But at this stage in my life with demanding jobs and small children, the chance to stay home and enjoy the beauty and charms of my own city and the surrounding regions is a wonderful change of pace. Now many of you may not live in an area with quite as much awesome as Colorado has to offer, but I have to encourage anyone to look into the close-to-home affordable vacations rather than skipping out altogether.

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The fact is, Americans let thousands of hours of paid time off go to waste each year, or use it for errand running and appointments. Sometimes it can’t be helped, but it’s in your benefit–and your employer’s–to use the time. Taking time away from the office will help you to be better rested, healthier, and ultimately more productive. It’s a short sighted boss who doesn’t see the importance of *extended* leisure.

The sad thing is that our over-active work ethic in the US has guilted us into thinking that vacations are luxuries, and that the need for rest is only for the weak and lazy. Some consider travel to be a lavish waste of money. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The value of memories, relaxation, and time to bond with your partner, your family, and your friends is of far more importance than having the latest model car or newest tech gadget.

SO GO! Especially you creative types! Get out there! Explore your world and find the treasure trove of inspiration that awaits you!

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2014 in Travel, Writing Life

 

Feminists in New France

To say that the New French were misogynist is like saying Kermit is kinda green or that Elsa the Snow Queen prefers cooler climes*. Major understatement. The Catholic Church and secular authorities demanded submission of women to their fathers, husbands, priests–pretty much any male in the room that wasn’t a son small enough to take over her knee. The colony of New France was populated with some of the most devout Catholics they could round up. Unlike the British who expelled those who didn’t conform to the country’s religious standards, France wouldn’t let them leave. The result was a colony where the laws of the land unswervingly followed the Church’s teachings, which unambiguously painted woman as the helpmeet of her spouse.

The problem? Creating female protagonists from this era who are both historically accurate and appealing to a modern reader.

I find that I need to depict women who are either on the fringes of New French society or who are high enough in the social echelon that they can bend some of the rules. There are consequences for being more independent than the New French society would have liked, and to ignore those consequences–and the fear of those consequences–would do an injustice to the historical integrity of the work. 

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The trade off is that I am not writing about the typical women in New France, but rather the unique. Then again, isn’t that why we write? We strive to highlight the unusual or the exemplary, and not the common people in our world unless it is, in fact, an exercise in showing how the ordinary is extraordinary.  

So I have to keep the dichotomy between my characters’ thoughts and feelings and their public façade more than I would for a modern character who would be celebrated in most sectors of the western world for not accepting male authority without question. 

A challenge? Yes! But I think it adds a depth to the storytelling that allured me to Historical Fiction in the first place. 

*Yes, I’m the parent of toddlers. I watch far too many cartoons. 

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2014 in History, Writing Craft

 

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Incentivizing Your Best Employee

No, I’m not dead. I’ve been stuck in editing land and finally back with my head above water–for now. The good news is that the blog is all shiny looking and exciting, right??? So, there’s that.

So today’s topic is about incentivizing your best employee.

“What?” you may ask “How can a writer do that? You work for yourself?”

Now you’re getting it. As your own boss, you’re also your own employee. Simple philosophy of mine: ALL employees like to be appreciated from time to time. Especially when your boss is a jerk. Let’s face it writers, most of us would get away with a lot less work if we were working for someone else. We are a zillion percent accountable for the work we do. Pat yourself on the back sometimes. Just because the recognition isn’t coming from an external source, doesn’t make it less significant.

I’m not the only writer to feels this way. Many of the lady writers I know have nifty charm bracelets and treat themselves to a new bead or charm with each big accomplishment. Not precisely my thing, but I liked the idea. So what do *I* like? Fountain pens. But they’re expensive and not easy to find in person. Not something I buy every day. A perfect choice for major milestones like getting my agent, or–when the time comes–making my first book deal. Of course I can’t buy a new one for smaller accomplishments, like finishing a draft, but a bottle of OK champagne, dinner out, or even fancy ink cartridges are good substitutes. Here’s the first member of my collection:

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(Waterman Expert Steel with Gold Trim, photo from Waterman–and man does she write smooth.)

So find your bliss, writers. But here are some suggestions I offer when deciding what to gift yourself:

  • Make it special. Not something you do all the time. A $.99 Kindle book isn’t a good gift if you buy them all the time. A leather bound collectable book? Better. Especially if you only allow yourself to buy one for big milestones.
  • Make it work with your budget. Don’t buy yourself a $1500 designer handbag for every $1000 book deal. It doesn’t make sense.
  • Make it work with your lifestyle: Don’t burden yourself with clutter if you live in a small space, and don’t overspend on calories if you battle with the scale.

Do something nice for yourself, writers. You couldn’t ask for a more challenging employer!

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2014 in Writing Life

 

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Review: THOUGHT I KNEW YOU

Debut author, Kate Moretti, creates a fast-paced suspense right in the heart of suburbia with THOUGHT I KNEW YOU. Claire Barnes is hardly in an ideal marriage. She and her husband Greg, like so many of us, are busy with work and raising two small children. The relationship has become routine, and Greg’s business trips are almost a welcome reprieve from the monotony…except when he doesn’t come back.

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Claire is faced with keeping her family together while the days turn into weeks and months. Greg’s disappearance becomes more and more baffling as no one can trace his whereabouts. Is this a simple question of a bored husband, or is there something more sinister afoot?

 

Moretti creates memorable, if not entirely likeable characters (and thank goodness for that. Not every character can be Elizabeth Bennett!) and weaves suspense masterfully. This novel really packs an emotional punch and will strike a chord with anyone who has been in a long-standing relationship… how far can trust bend before it is broken?

 

I find this work to be a genre-twisting take on Women’s Fiction and Crime Fiction that may have very well broken some ground. I am very anxious to see what Moretti produces for us in the coming years!

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Book Reviews

 

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Review: BLADE OF THE SAMURAI

Susan Spann’s crime-solving shinobi, Hattori Hiro, and his Dr. Watson-esque companion, Father Mateo return to the pages in BLADE OF THE SAMURAI, sequel to CLAWS OF THE CAT. As before, Spann deftly transports the reader to 16th century Japan with a solid balance of world-building and storytelling that never lets the details of the former bog down the latter.

 

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This time, we revisit some of our favorite secondary characters–Ana the devoted housemaid, shifty merchant, Luis, and the enigmatic Kazu– as well as a host of other new and compelling characters. Notably, young Ichiro, son of the shogun’s murdered cousin, Ashikaga Saburo. Hiro is once again called upon to solve a murder. The complication is that his dear friend Kazu’s dagger is the one found at the murder scene. Can Hiro protect Kazu from the shogun’s wrath when there is such damning evidence against him? Does Kazu even merit the reprieve?

 

From page one, Spann hurls us through the action, but without resorting to the choppy writing we find so often when mysteries attempt to build tension. One of the things I admired most about CLAWS OF THE CAT was the well-crafted, almost lyrical language that Spann uses to weave her tale. BLADE does not fall short of its predecessor, and in fact surpasses CLAWS in both level of suspense and general quality of writing, just as every author would strive for.

 

Unreservedly, I recommend this book as wonderful company for a quiet evening at home during a summer thunderstorm, a lazy afternoon at the beach, or prime gate-to-gate airplane fodder for your summer travels when it’s released this July. You won’t be disappointed!

 

*Disclaimer: I received a free electronic advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2014 in Book Reviews

 

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Review: THE ASSASSIN’S HEART

So a fun week-long blog series about vacay…then nada? Blame the round of illness and the fact that my son had a snow day *during the last week of school*. I feel like we’ve moved from Colorado to Winterfell somehow. I’m making a public declaration that we in Colorful Colorado have *earned* a free pass on fire season this year. But I digress. What’s the best way to banish the “winter-gave-spring-and-summer-a-miss-and-went-striaght-into-autumn” blues? Beach reads! Summer reads! Fun books!

So I hereby dedicate my next several blog posts to reviewing books you can and should read this summer.

First up: THE ASSASSIN’S HEART by J.A. Kazimer:

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While action books are not my wheelhouse, every once in a while, I do love a great suspense novel to get my blood pumping. JA Kazimer’s THE ASSASSIN’S HEART did not fail to deliver! One reason I don’t read the genre more frequently is that a) Too often I can guess the mystery element far too early, and b) The characters are often more like caricatures.

Ms. Kazimer never comes close to falling into either of those traps. I was kept guessing until the final climax, which is a heck of a thing to do. Her characters, especially the protagonist lovingly dubbed “Six”, are larger than life. I love that Six is both tough as nails, but still believable as a woman. I’ve read more than one book where the attempt to make a “tough” female character produces little more than Robo-cop with boobs and less stubble. That wasn’t really an option for this novel because, as a romantic suspense, we have to relate to Six as a woman or the romantic elements will falter. It strikes the balance of being well-written and fast-paced which is hugely appealing for me when seeking out a great summer read.

So my advice?  Click the “buy now” button, grab a beach chair and a daiquiri, and curl up with THE ASSASSIN’S HEART. You won’t be disappointed!

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2014 in Book Reviews

 

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