Finding Love in America
The/Studio- Introduce yourself. Tell our readers a little bit about who you are!
Scotte Burns- I am a twenty year veteran English teacher and writer. With a B.A in English and an M.F.A. in Creative Nonfiction, my work has been published in OnStage Magazine, Nth Degree SciFi/Fantasy Magazine, The GNU Literary Magazine, The Lahian, the Rocky Mountain News, Westword, and other publications. I have also produced manuscripts for two nonfiction books including Stealing Home, a book on at-home parenting for men, and The Forever Ending Story: A History of the End of Time.
In addition to teaching and writing, I am a well-known Colorado performing and studio musician/vocalist and have also worked as a Renaissance Festival swordsman and entertainer, a floral supply wholesaler, a traffic signal repairman, truck driver and landscape foreman. I love dogs and some other people’s cats.
Toni Burns – Think of myself as a natural born speaker and as such am bewildered by the oft cited belief that Americans are more afraid of public speaking than death. With a B.A. in Organizational Development, and minor in Communications, I revel in the chance to turn my near-obsessive need for research into engaging, entertaining, and informative presentations. I have a creative writing side as well, having co-authored two fantasy novels, Fated, Book 1 of the Lorn Prophecy and Fable, Book 1 from the Djenrye Chronicles. My love of gardening and all things growing translated to the pen (or computer, if you will) with my work published in Rodale’s Organic Gardening Magazine, Rocky Mountain News, and Jefferson Sentinel.
A biker and bicyclist, a mortgage lender and author, a Renaissance Festival full-plate-metal-comedic-fighter and cookie-baking mom, an environmentalist and a carnivore, dog lover, cat appreciator, born in Greece and raised in America, I am a bit paradoxical. A uniqueness that creates a need in me to understand how other people’s heads and hearts work.
The/Studio- Wow! You two make me feel lazy! (Laughing). What does your organization do?
Scotte – We’re really on a mission to remind Americans that we live in an amazing land, where love and freedom still exist and that they walk hand-in-hand. Contrary to what we constantly hear, there’s a lot of good news out there, it just doesn’t make much noise. We want to show that Happily-Ever-After really does happen, and that it happens in uniquely American ways!
Toni – Yup, that the emotional focus. The more concrete response is that we started this venture with questions, all stemming from a question asked of us: How have we stayed together, and happily at that, for over 34 years? From that we generated questions for America: What are the roads to Happily-Ever-After in America? How does love happen along those roads? What turns do they take, and how do we stay on them together until that final sunset on the horizon and beyond?
We could not answer those questions alone, so we are embarking on a four month-long motorcycle exploration of America’s cities, farms, churches, county fairs, highways, reservations, military bases – anywhere the America we love can be truly found – to seek the answers in the land and in its couples. We will share these tales on video, in photos, and written stories. During the trip we will have interactive maps for our fans to join in our quest. All of this will culminate in a book and speaking tour we’ve named: Lovin America, The Roads to Happily-Ever-After.
The/Studio- I love this concept! How exciting! What have you learned since developing Lovin America?
Scotte and Toni- We started out with the idea of simply capturing and sharing great American love stories, and that was inspiring in itself. But as we worked on the plan and started making the actual contacts, we realized that the country itself is just as environmentally diverse as the cultures that thrive within it. From deserts to mountains, plains and coasts to cities and small towns, those different physical environments shape their cultures, which in turn help shape and nurture the loves that spring up within them. In short, our lands are a partner of our loves, and so those stories we are after have to be told in that context. This concept has become the natural tie between our travel writing and the love stories that we were looking for!
The/Studio- What are you most proud of ?
Scotte – Toni. She rocks. And did I mention she’s beautiful, too?
Toni (laughing) – He stole my line. Seriously, I’m proud of the fact that we’re building a career together for the second part of our lives. How many couples can say that?
The/Studio- Aww!!! Too cute! What are some of the greatest challenges you face with Lovin America?
Scotte- Learning to describe the project succinctly has been hard for me (Scotte) because as an English teacher and writer with an MFA in creative writing, I love words. Too much and too many sometimes. Toni has a much better sense of the marketing piece and how to get to the point. Between us, we’ve begun to strike a good balance that we’re learning to carry over into the wider project writing.
The other challenge is keeping our chins up when it doesn’t seem like we’re making progress. The vast majority of sponsorship appeals and article submissions me make never even get a reply, for instance. It’s easy to get discouraged. But then new friends, like The/Studio come along and get what we’re about, which renews our courage! We know that what we are doing is valuable and we’ll never quit, but that affirmation of our efforts is wonderful.
The/Studio- I am so happy that we heard your story! Where do you see your Lovin America in 10 years?
Scotte and Toni-We are working to make Lovin America an ongoing series of books and videos, including personal engagements and public speaking supporting, what else…Love in America!
The/Studio-What type of legacy do you want to leave?
Scotte – In teaching, it’s always been most gratifying to have former students look me up years later and talk about things they learned about life from our time together in school. I think it would be equally awesome to have that kind of effect on relationships and marriage. I’d love to know that we helped people see that all of us have a shot at Happily-Ever-After. Seeing and sharing that through these discoveries will be really powerful.
Toni – Stories. Many years ago in college I took a course called Myths and Symbols. The basic premise was that to gain a true understanding of history you shouldn’t study dates and places, you should delve into the stories told about those historic events. That’s our legacy, telling other people’s stories to give our listeners/readers, current and future, a true sense of what shaped the lives and and loves of the couples we will meet on our journey. Perhaps those stories will help others to discover their own version of Happily-Ever-After.
The/Studio- What is the story behind the custom product that you produced with The/Studio?
Scotte and Toni- The answer to this really ties in with the answers to the next two questions…
The/Studio-How are you going to use this custom product?
We’ve had these patches made to first use as Kickstarter rewards. As a vest patch, they fit perfectly with our motorcycle-focused meme and with our initial primary supporters, made up mostly of bikers.
The/Studio-Describe the custom product and what it means.
Scotte – Our patch is our logo, designed by Toni…
Toni – with a lot of back and forth ideas, tweaking and multiple versions …
Scotte – … showing the American flag waving as a heart with a blue ribbon below it carrying the Lovin America name and forming an infinity sign. Endless love in America; what could be better!?
The/Studio-Do you have any promotions you would like to offer our community?
Scotte and Toni-As much as we would love to say “YES!” we are in the initial stages of this company. The four month motorcycle trip we are taking across the U.S. to gather stories in print and video is the first step. Until we have a product in hand, i.e., our first book, we are woefully low on promotions/giveaways.
The/Studio-Do you have any upcoming events that our community members can attend?
Scotte and Toni- The first event will be our “launch” on June 6, 2015, where in we will have a large family-friendly gathering to enjoy food, live music, and bid us bon voyage as we ride off toward our first stops – The Taos Pueblo, Roswell, NM, and The Republic of Texas Motorcycle Rally in Austin, Texas.
Toni – was that shameless promotion?
The/Studio- (Laughing) That’s great! If you are a charity is there anything our community members can do to help?
Scotte and Toni- At this time, we are not a charity. When this project blossoms into a career, our goal is to start a foundation. Until then, it’s just us.
Thank you so much for your time!
The/Studio- Thank you for both for sharing your love with us! Your love for one another is inspiring. We will be following your journey! Safe Travels!