Thursday, June 30, 2011

A young man and his Shadow . . .

Last weekend--or was it weekend before last?--I took my son to the SPCA to look for a dog.  I had long been of the opinion that a dog would help our son feel less lonely, as he lives alone.  We looked at rambunctious puppies, assorted mixed breeds, and some middle-aged dogs, and then the nice volunteer told us about a ten-year-old dog named Shadow.  "He's very sweet," she said, "and he just prances around and is adorable. But he's been at an adoption fair all day and is probably very tired."

She took us to Shadow's cage, and the poor dog was lying down--he looked like a furry black bathroom rug.  Plus, I wasn't sure ten years old was a good age for an adoptive dog, so I walked off to look for something younger.   But when I checked on my son again, he was still at the door to Shadow's kennel.  "I think I like this dog," he said, pointing to the immobile mass inside.

Who was I to argue?  So the lady brought Shadow out, and we took him outside.  The dog is a hoot, very sweet, and he was very shaggy.  A little thin, but he seemed in good health otherwise.  So we brought him home.  While I was out of town, my son took the dog to the vet for a checkup and got the fuzzy dog a nice summer haircut.

So--meet my new granddog!  He's hilarious, and we're happy to welcome him to the family.  He lives with our son, not with us, but I'm happy to have him visit every once in a while.

P.S.  If you're looking for a pet, please consider your local animal shelter or Humane Society first.  Those ten-year-old dogs need homes, too, and often their laid back dispositions are just what a family needs.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dog Sings on Key . . . Better than some People Do!

I love this!  If the video and audio are to be trusted, this Husky sings--and perfectly on key!  Then again, why wouldn't she?


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Inception as a Wedding?

Okay, lately I've seen some videos of over the top weddings. Or maybe I should say I've seen over-the-top videos of weddings.  Certainly, the latter description fits this one.  Settle back with a cup of coffee because it'll take five minutes to watch this vid:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cat and Dolphin and home again

I'm home, after nearly two full weeks of traveling!  Had a wonderful week in Colorado Springs with the crew at Glen Eyrie (you ought to come next year!), plus had a great time with my Texas friends down in Canyon/Amarillo at the West Texas A&M University's "Writer's Academy" AND the great folks at the Panhandle Professional Writers organization. Whew!

PLUS, while I was away I received life-changing news AND kept working on the WIP (I don't usually work when I travel. I may never do it again. Keeps me too busy to enjoy the sights and the people! )  :-)

So for today, as I clear off my desk and jump back into the Real World, enjoy this video that proves that animals are fascinated with one another!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Man and Dog

I'm in Texas, where it's windy and warm and we're in the middle of a drought. Time to pray for rain for these folks!

But Leslie sent me toward this article which you won't want to miss.  The bond between a man and his dog . . . amazing story.

I took my son to the humane society this past weekend and helped him choose a dog. He and a ten-year-old border collie mix seemed to bond, so I'm hoping they have many years together.

If you are looking for a dog, visit the humane society and animal control first.  You'll be glad you did.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Off to Texas!

Today (Sunday), I'm heading off to Texas for a full week--first to teach at West Texas A&M for a writing workshop, then to speak to the Panhandle Professional Writer's group.  (I actually wrote a new speech for them!)

I was only home for three days between jaunts, so it felt like a whirlwind of a week--but while at home, I helped my son get a Dog of his Own from the humane society, plus I baked a New York Cheesecake to die for.  Ate some for breakfast, then left the rest behind.  :-)

And while I'm gone, I have to do one more complete pass of FIVE MILES SOUTH OF PECULIAR.  It's not perfectly in shape yet, but it's getting there, and I promised to send a copy to my agent by the end of the month.  So I've gotta work!

Probably won't be blogging much, especially if I can't find a wireless signal anywhere . But I'll check in when I can!


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Okay . . . this made me cry.

As many of you know, I adopted my two children from Korea . . . so this meant something special to me.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Do you have a miracle story?

My friend Bill Myers is working on a new project about true miracles--IOW, miracles that happened to YOU.  If you've experienced a genuine miracle, would you send a note with your name and email address to Bill (at)  (Use the @ sign after "Bill.)  

Thank you so much!  I'm home from our wonderful workshop at Glen Eyrie, and now that my desk is cleared off, I have to jump back into my work in progress.

Thanks for dropping in today!  Next week I'll be in Texas for the week-long writer's workshop at West Texas A&M University--if you're ever looking for an intensive workshop, that's one to check out!  I love Texas!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Best Friends Animal Society

Last week I discovered a National Geographic series on Netflix:  DOGTOWN, a town for dogs in Utah, operated by Best Friends Animal Society.  I watched all four seasons of these amazing and heart-warming stories, and I really want to support the work they are doing.

God created us to have dominion over the animals, but it is to be a benevolent dominion . . . because isn't that what we want from the One who has dominion over us?

You can watch this ten-minute video to see a little of what Best Friends has recently done.  For more information, or to see if they might have your future pet, visit them here. 


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bad Playground Planning

This year I'm on the board of my neighborhood's homeowner's association, and at our last meeting we voted to purchase some new playground equipment.  I'm happy to say we did NOT purchase this spinning tot tosser.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Kitten Dreams

You probably saw this a couple of weeks ago (I think it made every talk show on TV), but here's the long version of the kitten who's having a bad dream. Is that adorable or what?


Monday, June 13, 2011

How you dream on drugs . . .

This must be how science fiction writers dream . . . . or people using too many drugs.  Yes, this was real video but yes, it's been edited.  Many times.

Here's to visionaries!


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Maybe the LONGEST video ever made . . .

Wow.  Downtown Grand Rapids shut down in order to film this "lubdub" video in one take.  I have friends in Grand Rapids (you know who you are).  Are any of you in this video?

If this is Sunday, I'm in beautiful Glen Eyrie, preparing for our annual writer's workshop. Can't wait!


Saturday, June 11, 2011

LOL! The new iPad 5!?

Wouldn't it be lovely?


Friday, June 10, 2011

Adoptive mothers

I ran across the above video while I was doing research for the work-in-progress . . . and though I have a feeling the piece was produced for mother's day, I think it's appropriate at any time of the year.  Enjoy!


Thursday, June 09, 2011

War Horse Cupcakes

Cinnamon Cupcake recipe
Glue 2 cookies together

Cut corner off cookie and candy peanut
Click on any photo to enlarge.
Add curved pretzel "tails"

Horses eat potato stick straw!
A complete cavalry of war horses!
My book club met on Monday night, and our book for last month was WAR HORSE, a slender children's novel published about ten years ago.  The book has been turned into a spectacular play that debuted in London's West End and is playing now at Lincoln Center.  I saw it last month, and can't say enough good about it.  The only thing bad I can say about it is that the theater should provide a box of tissues with every seat.  :-/

Anyway, I wanted to commemorate our book with my usual cupcakes, so I stumbled across a picture of horse cupcakes and decided to try to emulate them . . . in my own way.

Since the horse in WAR HORSE is a red horse, I could have gone with red velvet cake, but there's also a black horse in the story, and that's the easier choice:  chocolate.  So I made a chocolate cinnamon cupcake--the cinnamon is my tribute to the red horse--and frosted the batch.

Then I took those rectangular sugar wafers and "glued" two of them together with icing.  They come in many colors, so I tried to stick with my chocolate theme.   Finally, a candy peanut made the horse's head.  I wanted to find chocolate or vanilla candy peanuts, but my grocery only had orange.  So, let's just call that another tribute to Joey, the red horse, and move on.  :-)

After letting those "set" in the fridge for a few minutes, I sliced off the corners of the cookies and the peanuts so the two pieces would fit together.  I "glued" them together with melted chocolate and put them in the fridge to set. Then I cut an opening in each frosted cupcake and pushed the cookie into the opening, then proceeded to messily pipe "hair" for the fretlock and mane.  The cupcake icing wasn't stiff enough to stand up properly, so I got some decorator's frosting, which worked much better.  Went a little color crazy, but so did God when he made horses.  ;-)

A broken piece of pretzel covered with icing and dipped in jimmies made the tail, and I piped on a few white spots and put some jimmies on them, too.  Finally, the little horses gathered around a pile of potato sticks "hay" for their supper.

I don't know that they're very professional looking, but I had fun.


P.S.  I wish I could take credit for the idea, but credit belongs to HELLO, CUPCAKE!, a book in which I saw the cupcakes pictured.  I used those basic directions, and improvised a bit.  But someone else is the cupcake design genius.  :-)


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

BOM: Questions and Answers

Questions and Answers regarding The Justice:

Deborah wrote: when i read The Justice, it wasn't Daryn I had problems with, but Clive and his twisted way of Christian thinking. it made me cringe every time i read his justification for his actions (especially when he used the computers in the school). it's scary to think about how there are people that really think like that. what was it like to write a character who has such a warped view of the Christian faith?

Angie Answers: Actually, Deborah, it wasn't hard. This is sad--and a little scary--but all I did was find web pages of religious hate groups, and there was the verbiage, the rationale, even the Scriptures they take out of context. Clive came straight out of reality, so I didn't have to invent much about him at all.

Pam asked why I chose the surprising ending I did:

I actually wrote most of the book three times before I found the ending.  I clearly remember being on the treadmill one morning and telling the Lord, "Okay . . . now I need an ending, so can you help?"  I thought of all kinds of things--striking the President with cancer (poetic justice), but that seemed too coincidental and tidy.  And then I simply let the law follow its course.

As to Maria's surprising action in the final scene . . . how else would/should a grace-filled Christian react?  Some folks might find that reaction incredible, but that's what grace is.  So that's where I left it.

Thanks for coming along on this journey!  Tomorrow:  cupcakes!


Tuesday, June 07, 2011

BOM: Reader Reaction

The Justice is one of those books that people either love . . . or don't. I'm at the point in life, you see, where I write the story that God has placed on my heart. If it rocks somebody's boat, that's not my intention, but sometimes it happens. I know I can't please everyone, so I try to be as wily as a serpent and as harmless as a dove.
I have an ideal reader, God bless her (and a few hims), and my ideal reader isn't threatened by questions or offended when sinners act like sinners . . . or even when believers occasionally do the same.
So . . . here's a sampling of my reader mail about The Justice.

Dear Mrs. Hunt:
I took one book with me on vacation this past week...The Justice...and was bitterly disappointed in the worldly lustful slant in the first of my readings from it. Had I had the ususal several books with me, I would have put it down immediately but kept hoping it would get better. I got as far as Paul's time in Washington and finally decided that my mind didn't need to dwell on such immorality.

I am sorry you felt the pressure of the world in creating a woman with the quest for power and the morals to match. I am sorry I cannot have the same trust in Word Publishing as I had prior to selecting this book from our library. I will report my observations to the library in the form of a copy of this letter along with the encouragement that they avoid further selections of books authored by you.

Name withheld

Dear Angie:
When I was reading THE JUSTICE, I had a feeling that there was going to be some backlash because of Daryn's sexual activity and history, also the abortion. I started praying when I read it, and I don't believe that the story could have gone any other way. That was the character, and that was the life she'd lived, and it contributed to the choices she made along her journey.

Daryn struck me as a very modern woman with some very modern challenges to overcome. I was glad to see in your email that your purpose isn't to provide "wholesome entertainment." There's a place for that, and for people who need and enjoy it, and there is also a place for those who, like you, confront the real life issues that many people can relate to. This is hard, this is gritty, this is real life. It's war, and we're in the trenches. It can be ugly, it can be rough, it can be painful. That's why it's so blessedly beautiful when we invite Jesus in to fix the whole wretched mess. Don't change a thing.

What struck me most about Daryn's journey was the difference in the way she approached life before and after learning the truth. That's universal. We can only work on what we know. I have been highly recommending THE JUSTICE and your other books, and will continue to do so.

Dear Angie:
I am not sure if you personally read your e-mail, or due to volume, your staff does. Nevertheless, I wanted to comment on '"The Justice" which I just finished devouring! Excellent!
I am wondering about the ending; you seem to have left it "open" to further develop the story. Will Daryn ever come to know the love of God and be reconciled with what she has done? Also, even though she was quite a dastardly character I couldn't help but feel sorry for her having to resign the presidency, especially since she was the first female president. I wished that Jehu had thrown his flame and she had been burned just enough to hinder the dispatch of her duties, thus giving her a graceful way to resign and time to reflect on spiritual things as she recuperates from her wounds. I am a softie: I like her because she was strong and determined (though deceived) and felt sorry for her at the end.
I love your books and appreciate your writing style about God without delivering a sermon! Keep it coming.

Angie here again: On, right below a review that said "This was not a good book," I found this review:

As a lawyer and government/history buff, I found this book intriguing. As a writer and a Christian, I was delighted by how well written it is. Not all Christian fiction is of this high quality. I especially applaud Ms. Hunt's great job of handling the lead characters' sin realistically/honestly without dragging us through the mud. An entertaining, uplifting, and thought-provoking read.

So there you have it--the gamut of reaction.

Tomorrow: your questions and answers. If you have any questions, just leave them in the comments. Thanks!


Monday, June 06, 2011

BOM: The Editing

The Justice was edited by Karen Ball, who made a marvelous suggestion. She said that perhaps Daryn wasn't motivated strongly enough, that I needed to make this woman--who does some really nasty things--be more sympathetic.

Good advice. So I delved into Daryn's backstory, and gave her a driving need for her father's approval, a common and universal need. I had to deepen some scenes and strengthen Daryn's interactions with her father, and that helped immensely.

And that's what I remember most about the editing process--it was pretty standard.

Tomorrow: results and reader reaction. Boy, did I get some reactions!


Sunday, June 05, 2011

BOM: The Writing

I really don't remember much about writing The Justice. I do remember identifying with Daryn Austin way too much (she's a bad gal). Her weaknesses are my weaknesses, though I try not to act on them. I also realized that I'd make a terrible president. You have to compromise in the game of politics, and some issues are clearly black and white to me.
I am grateful that all these alternate lives I adopt are only temporary. :-)

Tomorrow: the editing


Saturday, June 04, 2011

BOM: The Research

The Justice, like most of my books, required quite a bit of research.

First, I had to understand the workings, the layout, and daily procedures of the White House and the Supreme Court. To make sure I had it right, I went to Washington and visited the Supreme Court. I also read tons and tons of books.

In a bizarre twist, at the time I was writing this novel, our nation was embroiled in Clinton versus Monica Lewinsky. Therefore, Newsweek, Time, and other news magazines had detailed maps of the Oval Office splashed across their pages--to illustrate where the "trysts" took place. Those maps were invaluable to me.

I also had to do research on hate groups, abortion's link to breast cancer (I'd dealt with it before, but had to keep up to date), and lots of other details.

I had a bit of a conundrum when it came to setting the story--a past setting wouldn't work, because everyone knows that Daryn Austin wasn't president. So I went with a current-into-future setting, which allowed me to refer to Clinton and other past presidents . . . but which, as the PW review pointed out, left me a bit out of sync with the world after 9/11. Our world did change drastically on that day, as did the role of the president.  Now that the book is being published again, it reads best simply as a story that happened around 1995.  

Tomorrow: The writing


Friday, June 03, 2011

BOM: How the Idea Germinated

I remember the moment clearly when the idea for
The Justice hit me. I was sitting at my bathroom vanity, getting ready for church and watching the CBS morning news from the corner of my eye. (Multi-tasking, as always). We were coming up to a national election, and the commentator said that whoever won would have an incredible opportunity to influence the direction of the Supreme Court by making judicial appointments.

That's all it took. I started to think what might happen if a man appointed someone to the court and that someone later became a Christian. And then what if that person, because of his Christian stance, refused to go along with the President?

Then I laughed, because in that moment I realized I'd inadvertently put together the true story of Henry II and Sir Thomas Beckett.

So then I thought maybe I could switch the genders around . . . which would make the tie to Beckett seem a little less obvious. In fact, I could make it male/female--wait! Why not make it the first female president? Unique angle. And they were former lovers. Unique conflict.

And that was it. The story pretty much unfolded logically from that point. I was sure that someone was going to get the Beckett connection, but to this date, no one has mentioned it.

(An oversimplified reminder: Henry II was having trouble with the Catholic Church--he needed money, and he wanted them to pay taxes on their holdings. So Henry appointed his pal, Thomas Beckett, to be Archbishop of Canterbury, thinking he'd have Thomas in his back pocket. But in becoming an archbishop, Thomas had a real encounter with God. Later, when Henry asked Thomas to pay up, Thomas refused. Thomas had to flee the country, and, after many years and much wrangling, Henry complained to a group of his knights, "Oh, who will rid me of this troublesome priest?"

His knights, reading between the lines, went to Canterbury and killed Thomas as he knelt in prayer.)

I also added a couple of other threads to the story, just to keep things interesting: a crazy madman who sees the first woman president, Daryn Austin, as the Whore of Babylon, and an issue being debated before the Supreme Court: the link between abortion and breast cancer.

Stir them all together, and you have a book! One that may not be everyone's taste, but I liked it. :-)


Thursday, June 02, 2011

Book of the Month: The Justice

Can you believe it's June? Time for another book of the month!

One of my older titles has just been re-released by Greenbriar Press:  The Justice.  Sharp new cover, isn't it?   Here's the blurb:

From Publishers Weekly:
When you've written more than 70 books, either you keep improving or the wear-and-tear of cranking out copy begins to show. Hunt's fans will be delighted that this newest inspirational novel of adulterous love and political intrigue only enhances her reputation. The president is dead, felled by an aortic aneurysm. Vice-president Daryn Austin, formerly only a figurehead, takes over, becoming the first woman president in U.S. history.

As the tough-as-nails Southern belle ruthlessly plots her strategy to assure her political future, she determines it will include her former lover and soul mate Paul Santana. Ironically, she appoints him as her ethics officer before placing him on the Supreme Court. They resume their affair, but when a tabloid television show breaks the story of an abortion in Austin's past, Santana realizes the extent of her lust for power. Unwilling to act as her puppet judge, he cuts his strings to Austin, turns to faith and rethinks his position on a Supreme Court case linking abortion and breast cancer. Bitter and lonely, Austin hits the bottle and ponders how to eliminate Santana. Meanwhile, radical racist and woman-hater Clive Wilton plots the demise of the president, whom he sees as the biblical "Great Whore of Babylon." The conclusion is full of surprises, although Santana's wife strains credibility with her forgiveness and concluding invitation to Austin. Hunt's award-winning writing, the book's pro-life themes and an edge of suspense will score points with many CBA readers.

From Booklist*Starred Review*
Hunt's The Justice is about the first woman vice-president, Daryn Austin, who becomes president when the sitting president dies. President Austin concentrates on domestic affairs and on being reelected. She shows herself to be a steady hand in a crisis, and her popularity rises. Then she brings in an old lover to be White House counsel, Cuban American Paul Santana, known for fighting against the return to Cuba of Elian Gonzalez. Rapidly, the two become lovers again. Paul is torn, however, over his disloyalty to his wife and daughter, and the president overplays her hand when she appoints him to the Supreme Court in an attempt to influence their agenda on women's issues. Hunt makes a good many references to the Clinton presidency, and in her chronology, Austin would be president now, rather than George Bush. This takes the novel down some mistaken paths, particularly given the huge shift in world affairs after September 11. Still, Hunt's evocation of a woman in power ("You have to play nice with girls, but if you're sharp and think ahead, you can beat them") is always suspenseful, seldom predictable, and frequently insightful.

John Mort Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved.

Tomorrow: How the idea germinated

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Weight Loss, Diets, and Fads . . . oh, my!

Photos: July 2010, May 2011

While I'm sitting here waiting for my mouth to regain some feeling (just came from the dentist), I thought I'd explain how I recently lost forty pounds and got back into my size eights. Lots of people ask, and maybe it'll be easier to point them to this blog post.

I've lost 40 or more pounds before --pounds that always came back--once through Weight Watchers, once through L.A. Weight Loss, and this time I started out on Jenny Craig. And when I rapidly tired of the Jenny Craig foods (which are among the best-tasting prepackaged foods out there), my JC counselor introduced me to, and that was the key that enabled me to get going . . . and, I believe, to keep these excess pounds off.

(Disclaimer: I am not being paid, bribed, or begged to push this product. I'm just telling you what worked for me.)

What is it? Basically, it's an armband that you wear 24/7, or except when you're bathing or swimming. The little meter attached to the armband is like a pedometer on steroids because it not only counts your steps throughout the day, but it records how you sleep, how much and how vigorously you're exercising, and how many calories you're burning at any given moment of the day. Your part is to input the foods you eat--and no cheating, since you're only cheating yourself. There are even handy smart phone/iPad apps that sync with your account so you can record your meals on the go.

So I record every bite I take, and the bodymedia gizmo (I LOVE gadgets) gives me feedback. Since beginning to wear this thing, I've gone from doing a half hour on the treadmill to doing more than 90 minutes a day--at a moderate pace, mind you, but I'm moving, and that's what matters, especially when you have a sedentary job like mine.  And on Saturdays, when I'm cleaning house and tackling projects, I'm burning lots of calories even without a treadmill!  (You'd be surprised how many calories baking cupcakes can burn up!) 

You can set goals on the website--on your personal dashboard, where you see your readings and input your dietary choices--for weight loss, maintenance, or weight gain, and the program will guide you as to how much you should be eating and moving. It's a simple concept, but it boils down to the only thing that works: to lose weight, your output must be greater than your intake. Pure and simple science.

I'm moving to maintenance now, but I'm going to subscribe to the bodymedia service for another year just to remain on track. I ran my health stats through a "death clock" before I lost the weight, and it said I should live until 86. I ran my stats through the same clock after the weight loss, and it says I should live until 94. Now--isn't that better stewardship of the life God has given me? I think so.

After years of dieting, I've learned that it does no good to deprive myself of what I'm craving, so while I was losing I ate what I wanted--some Jenny Craig foods, some regular foods--but I paid close attention to the calorie count. That's what matters. And burning more than you take in over time will allow anyone to lose weight.

So what did I do when I was DYING to have a cupcake and I'd used up all my calories for the day? Instead of blowing it all and telling myself that tomorrow was another day (done that, tomorrow never comes), or "borrowing" calories from the next day (done that, too, and it doesn't work), I'd console myself with the promise that I could have that cupcake . . . for tomorrow's breakfast.  Which has inspired me with an idea for a children's book, "Cupcakes for Breakfast."  Or maybe it should be a dieter's book. :-)  

So--for what it's worth, that's my weight loss testimony. And wherever you are health-wise, I wish you the best.