A Writer Girl moves on

Lovely flowers to celebrate my last day as a Circulation Associate at our local library. Starting Tuesday, I’ll take on a new position in the library’s Adult Services department, with new responsibilities, new co-workers, and new pay. Yay! Looking forward to getting more involved with programs, including some during National Novel Writing Month.

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Lessons From The Library- What can kids books teach adults?

Child reading a book

What can kids books teach adults?

Working in a library, I’ve gotten to know Captain Underpants and Fancy Nancy. Barbie and her sisters. Mr. Putter and Tabby. Pinkalicious.

Some of these books, I read to my boys when they were small, like Arthur and the Berenstain Bears. Some, I read when I was a kid, like Nancy Drew and Ramona the Pest. And some, like Bedtime for Francis and Harry the Dirty Dog, my parents read to me.

Though it seems like the world is shifting from pages to screens, my library’s children’s collection proves readers still like something they can hold in their hands.  Though I’m published digitally, and love the convenience of my Kindle, it’s comforting that books and stories have a loyal following.

Not only that, kids books have lessons for adults. Like what?

Loving again can be scary

Mia can’t get over her pet cat Sandy’s death, and can’t ever imagine replacing him. Over the Christmas holidays, she gets to play with her friend’s cat’s kittens. Then Mia’s parents surprise her by saying she can have the last kitten, Whiskers. But although Mia loves him, she feels guilty about Sandy. Can Mia bring herself to keep the new kitten? 

Pretty much the premise of every second-chance romance out there, it’s hard to give our heart to someone new after we’ve been hurt. There’s guilt and the fear of being vulnerable once again. But then, a special someone comes along who’s worth the risk.

No one is “normal”

Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth, and what follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that dental drama, there’s still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly.

Face it, sixth grade sucks for everyone. It’s the age when feeling abnormal, is normal. Finding our happy ending isn’t about waiting for the glorious day when our imperfections go away. Chances are, they won’t. It’s about learning to accept ourselves in spite of them. And yes, things get better.

Reading is supposed to be FUN!

Goofy Grampa takes his grandson Wiley to a monster truck show in the middle of an F5 tornado, where they meet Colonel Dracula, whose primo vampire truck feeds on some pretty sinister “gas.”

Sure, its good to expand our mind and learn new things, but reading doesn’t always have to be good for us. The books we love best can also be the ones that make us laugh out loud. Even if we’re laughing at fart jokes and F5 tornadoes.

What are some of your favorite kids books? Why do you love them, and what have they taught you?

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T Rex in the rear view

Life after Lay-Off

Today marks the one-year anniversary of something I’d rather not remember.  On June 7, 2018, I was laid off from my job as an editor with a regional magazine group.

After spending close to a year climbing out of a pit triggered by writing career setbacks, this plunged me right back in.

Rational thoughts aside, the lay-off felt personal. Wasn’t I good enough?  Hard-working enough? Young enough?  My fiction output slowed to a trickle, then stopped altogether. I was angry at myself for ruining my husband’s long-awaited summer vacation, for jeopardizing my younger son’s college plans and generally bringing a dark cloud of turmoil over our entire household. The tape in my head that droned what a failure I was ran on non-stop repeat.

Like I said, it’s something I’d rather not remember. 

I’m happy to say that one year later, life is light-years better than it looked that day.  In the fall, I found a job in a new field, that’s a great fit. My son went off to college, as planned. My husband cheered me on in my new position, and continues to do so, as I inch back into writing.  Therapy helped me identify what triggers the Failure Tape. Faith and prayer help me shut it off, or at least turn the volume down.

So while I’d rather not remember how bad I felt that day, and for many days afterward, I need to.

Why?  Because life is full of struggle. As fiction writers, we know that a story without struggle isn’t a story at all. Some struggles are huge, some are small, but they’re there just the same. And when the next one comes along, remembering a really, REALLY bad day serves as a reminder that things can, and do, get better.

Maybe not perfect.  Maybe not walk-off Grand Slam victorious, but better. And remembering our worst days helps us appreciate the better ones that much more.

There’s a lyric in an old song by Wynonna Judd about how a dead end street is a place to turn around. It forces us to look at our map, get our bearings, say a prayer and start over again. The journey is a long one, travelled step by step, day by day. But for today at least, I feel like I’m heading in the right direction.

Happy Anniversary.

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The Romance of Figure Skating- Olympic Team, Pairs and Men’s

Team USA figure skaters are off to a great start, earning a bronze medal Sunday in the Team Event.

What’s great about the team event is that it gives skaters who might not be contenders for the podium in individual events an opportunity to win an Olympic medal, for their country and for themselves.

Pairs skaters Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and her husband Chris Knierim, were awesome in the short program, not to mention too cute for words.
The star of the night was Mirai Nagusu, who skated the women’s long program and became the first US woman to land a triple axel at the Olympic Games.

The Knierims were far off the podium in last night’s Pairs competition, which was won by Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot, who received the highest-ever score for a pairs long program for their stunning skate. After 5 Olympic appearances, Aliona has her gold medal! Very exciting and well deserved!

Still craving pairs? Check out Pairing Off, the first book in the Red Hot Russians series, which is on sale all this month. Watch the book trailer here!

Tonight, it’s all about the men, as the short program kicks off. American Nathan Chen, aka The Quad King, is Team USA’s best hope for a figure skating gold medal. Fingers crossed he brings it tonight!
That’s all for now… skating is about to start!

Enjoy!

Can’t get enough figure skating? You’ll love my Red Hot Russians #FigureSkatingRomance series.
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The Romance of Figure Skating- The Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang

happy i love lucy GIF

Oh my gosh, it’s here!

The day winter sports fans have anticipated for four year has arrived. The PyeongChang Winter Games officially open Friday, Feb. 9
But figure skating fans don’t have to wait to watch their favorite sport. The Team Figure Skating Event kicks off Thursday night, with the men’s and pairs short program.
The Team Event debuted in the 2014 Sochi Olympics and features nations who have skaters competing in all four disciplines: men’s and women’s individual, pairs and ice dance. Teams can select which skaters will compete in the Team short program and long program competitions. The top five teams after the short program events will advance to the long program events. Gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded to the teams but as with other team sports, each member will be considered an Olympic medalist.
The teams taking part are South Korea, Germany, France, the United States, Japan, Italy, Canada, Israel and the Olympic Athletes from Russia.
https://youtu.be/NMQjsEYyHXI
Team USA has chosen Nathan Chen to compete in Thursday night’s  Men’s Short Program competition, with Adam Rippon skating the Team Event Men’s Free Skate on Sunday night. Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and her husband Chris Knierim, the only U.S. pairs team competing in PyeongChang, will skate both the pairs short program, and the free skate Saturday  night.
Also scheduled for Saturday, are Team Event ice dance short dance, women’s short program. The men’s and women’s free skate and ice dance free dance will take place Sunday. All events are on NBC, beginning at 8 p.m. EST.
As of Thursday afternoon, line-ups for women’s and ice dance had not yet been announced.
If you’re looking for an awesome, informative and snark-free explanation of how to watch figure skating, check out this article in The Washington Post.
Can’t get enough figure skating? You’ll love my Red Hot Russians #FigureSkatingRomance series.
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Pairing Off
Turning It On cover shy girl and male stripper find love on reality TV show
Getting It Back cover former figure skating champion risks it all for love
Heating It Up cover small town love story set in Antaractica
Shining Through cover champion figure skaters in love
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The Romance of Figure Skating- Four Continents Figure Skating Championships

With the Winter Olympics opening a week from today, it’s easy to forget that the figure skating competition season continues, even for skaters who won’t represent their countries in Pyeongchang, and also for some who will.
https://youtu.be/Sx5kPM7S3VI
 
Though the Four Continents Championship is open to skaters from North and South America, Asia, Australia and several African nations, the competition is dominated by skaters from Japan, China, South Korea, Canada and the United States.
This year, the trend continued with one notable exception, which I’ll get to in a minute.
The highest profile competition at this year’s 4CC was the men’s competition, which included Chinese national champion and World bronze medalist  Boyang Jin, and Japanese skater Shoma Uno, last year’s World silver medalist.  Both will compete in the Olympics and both performed difficult programs loaded with quadruple jumps.  Jin’s technical excellence in his Star Wars free skate, topped Uno, who was in first place after the short program. Uno took silver, while American Jason Brown took bronze.
Japan’s ladies are among the world’s best, and swept the podium at the Four Continents. Karori Sakamoto, 17, won gold, while 19-year-old Japanese national champion Satoko Miyahara took bronze. Both will compete in Pyeongchang. 4CC silver medalist Mai Mihara is Japan’s first alternate for the Winter Olympics.
In ice dance, American ice dancers Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, who will not compete in Pyongchang, took gold. Canadians Carolane Soucisse and Shane Firus won silver, while Kana Muramoto of Japan and her American-born partner Chris Reed won bronze. Muramoto and Reed will represent Japan at the Olympics.
American Olympic alternates Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea finished atop the pairs podium, followed by teammates Ashley Cain and Timothy Leduc who won silver. The U.S.’s top pairs team, who will go to PyeongChang, Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and her husband Chris Knierim did not compete at 4CC.
For me, one of the competition’s most captivating performances came from a pairs team representing a surprising place—North Korea. Tae Ok Ryom and Ju Sik Kim took bronze in the 4CCs and are expected to compete in the Winter Olympics. They train in Canada, have been competitive at international events this season, and show a lot of joy on the ice.
Here’s their 4CC’s short program, to Jeff Beck’s version of A Day In The Life.
https://youtu.be/7F7hXv08ZKs
Can’t get enough figure skating? You’ll love my Red Hot Russians #FigureSkatingRomance series.
Amazon | B&N | iTunes Books | Kobo | Google Play Books | Goodreads

Pairing Off cover Russian and American pair skaters find love
Turning It On cover shy girl and male stripper find love on reality TV
Getting It Back Cover former figure skating champion risks it all
Heating It Up cover- small town love story set in Antarctica
Shining Through Cover champion figure skaters in love
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The Romance of Figure Skating- 2018 European Championships

ice dancers

In Olympic years, competitions such as the European Figure Skating Championships, held last weekend in Moscow, and the Four Continents Competition, coming up this weekend in Taipei City, Chinese Taipei, are a great opportunity for emerging skaters, as many of the sport’s stars stay home to prepare for the Olympics (and not risk injury).
But with the Russian skaters who will go to Pyeongchang still to be determined, the 2018 European Figure Skating Championships, had plenty of star power.
With Russia officially banned from the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, individual athletes once cleared by the International Olympic Committee, will be invited to compete under a neutral banner as an Olympic Athlete from Russia.  Official invitations to the OAR team is expected later this month.
In ladies’, Russian teens Alina Zagitova, and Evgenia Medvedeva took gold and silver, with Italian skater Carolina Kostner winning bronze.
For Zagitova and Medvedeva, along with fourth-place finisher and teammate Maria Sotskova, their strong skates earned them a nomination to compete in Pyeongchang.
Russia swept the pairs podium, with Evegnia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov winning gold, Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, silver, and Natalia Zabiyako and Alexander Enbert third. Each pair earned a nomination for the OAR team.
Two disciplines not won by Russian skaters were the mens’ and ice dance, with Javier Fernandez of Spain, and Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France both taking gold. But Russian skaters rounded out the podium in both, earning OAR nominations.
Russian skaters dominated the competition, and with so many great performances, I hope all them are cleared to compete in the Winter Olympics.
But the video I’ll post showing one of my favorite performances, is from British ice dancers Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland. The couple (a real-life couple off the ice) will compete in Pyeongchang, and though they’re not expected to medal, their free dance was beautiful. Check out the amazing lift at 3:39.
https://youtu.be/OikigpnkMY4
Enjoy!
Can’t get enough figure skating? You’ll love my Red Hot Russians #FigureSkatingRomance series.

 
Amazon | B&N | iTunes Books | Kobo | Google Play Books | Goodreads
 

Pairing Off cover Russian and American pair skaters find love
Turning It On cover shy girl and male stripper find love on reality TV
Getting It Back Cover former figure skating champion risks it all
Heating It Up cover- small town love story set in Antarctica
Shining Through Cover champion figure skaters in love
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The Romance of Figure Skating- U.S. Nationals

Vintage white female skates for figure skating, on a light wooden background.

The figure skaters who will represent the US in Pyeongchang have been selected!
The U.S. National Figure Skating Championships, held the first week of January in San Jose, had all the feels.
In the ladies’ competition, there were impressive skates from rising stars, including Bradie Tennell, who took ladies’ gold. Silver medalist Mirai Nagasu, who was left off the 2014 Olympic team, has battled back to the top of her sport thanks in part to the triple axel.
In ice dance, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue became first time national champions, out-skating superstar teams Chock and Bates and the Shibutanis.
In the men’s division reigning U.S. Champion Nathan Chen showed why he’ll be in the running for a medal in South Korea. And pairs skaters Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and her husband Chris Knierim, reclaimed their national title to become Team USA’s only pairs team.
With so many great programs it was hard to decide what to post, so I chose two skaters whom you won’t see in the Winter Olympics.
Ashley Wagner was expected to compete in Pyeongchang, but after finishing fourth at U.S. Nationals, was not chosen for the Olympic team.
https://youtu.be/jQJvLOnRaKs
Veteran men’s competitor Ross Miner’s free skate wasn’t loaded with quads but it was a joy to watch, and won him the silver medal.
https://youtu.be/_roGSuAbbJo
It’s a sad reminder that U.S. Figure Skating Nationals are not Olympic team trails, and that not every deserving skater achieves his or her dream.
I hope you enjoy watching their performances, and I also hope we haven’t seen the last of Ross or Ashley.
Can’t get enough figure skating? You’ll love my Red Hot Russians #FigureSkatingRomance series.

 
Amazon | B&N | iTunes Books | Kobo | Google Play Books | Goodreads

Pairing Off cover Russian and American pair skaters find love
Turning It On cover shy girl and male stripper find love on reality TV
Getting It Back Cover former figure skating champion risks it all
Heating It Up cover- small town love story set in Antarctica
Shining Through Cover champion figure skaters in love
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The Romance of Figure Skating- The Grand Prix of Figure Skating Finals

Shining Through with champion figure skaters in love

This past weekend, the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final took place in Nagoya, Japan. The skaters who competed were those who had amassed the most points during the six week Grand Prix of Figure Skating series.
While the Grand Prix doesn’t directly decide which skaters will compete in the Winter Olympics, the finals offered an exciting preview of the athletes we’ll likely see in Pyongchang.

Without offering up any Shining Through spoilers, we’ll just say that the International Series Finals are a difficult time for both Tabitha and Daniil.
The US had the strongest showing in men’s and ice dance. American Nathan Chen won gold, edging out Japan’s Shoma Uno and Mikhail Kolyada of Russia. Two other US men, Adam Rippon and Jason Brown, also skated in Nagoya. American ice dancers Alex and Maia Shibutani took bronze in their discipline, which also included Madison Chock and Evan Bates, and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue.

My favorite ice dance performance was  by Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizerone of France, who won gold. Their short dance, a rhumba and samba, to Ed Sheeran’s The Shape of You and Thinking Out Loud, was a lot of fun to watch and they looked as if they were having a great time performing it. But as loose and relaxed as they seemed, their moves were flawless. At it’s best, figure skating looks effortless. See what I mean, here:

https://youtu.be/uqHAGhGbeTw

Up next in the world of figure skating are the national competitions that will decide who competes in the Winter Olympics. Russia’s Nationals will take place Dec. 19-24, and should be interesting in light of the IOC’s decision to ban Russia from the Winter Olympics. However, Russian athletes who can prove they are clean to compete as part of a neutral delegation.  US Nationals will take place Dec. 29 through January 7.

Want to win a digital copy of Shining Through, PLUS a $25 Amazon Gift Card? Enter to win my giveaway at Night Owl Romance going on this month!

Prefer to read it in print? Purchase your copy here: Amazon | B&N | iTunes Books | Kobo | Google Play Books | Goodreads

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The Romance of Figure Skating- Skate America

Shining Through Cover champion figure skaters in love

Most years, Skate America is the first Grand Prix of Figure Skating competition rather than the last. But the order is different this year because Russia, which will host its own national competition in mid-December and the European Championships a few weeks later, apparently didn’t want to host a third international skating competition in November.
But first, last or wherever, Skate America is special to me, because I’ve attended it twice with my skating friends and it’s such an amazing experience to watch top skaters, live.  The power, beauty and speed of this sport is awe-inspiring. If you’re not a skating fan before you go, you’ll be one afterward.

In Shining Through, 23-year-old Tabitha is feeling the pressure of being the aging veteran with determined teenage rivals nipping at her blades.  While the sport is dominated by young skaters, this year’s Skate America offered a lights-out performance by a skater who proves that age is just a number.
German pair skater Aliona Savchencko, age 33, and her partner Bruno Massot age 28, turned in a spectacular free skate that earned them the pairs gold medal.
Aliona’s competitive career began in the late 1990s. She is a five time pairs world champion and has skated in four Winter Olympics, winning bronze in 2010 and 2014. With her current partner Massot, now officially a German citizen and eligible to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics, chances are Aliona will make her fifth trip to the Games come February.
Enjoy this beautiful long program from Savchenko and Massot.
https://youtu.be/QIICNDkNWa4
Other Skate America winners included American Nathan Chen (men’s), Satoko Miyahara (ladies) representing Japan, and US ice dance team Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani.
Next up are the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Championships, in Nagoya, Japan Dec. 7- 10. Catch it on the Olympic Channel Dec. 8 and 9, and on NBC Dec. 10. Check local listing for broadcast times.
Want to win a digital copy of Shining Through, PLUS a $25 Amazon Gift Card? Enter to win my giveaway at Night Owl Romance going on this month!
Prefer to read it in print? Purchase your copy here: Amazon | B&N | iTunes Books | Kobo | Google Play Books | Goodreads
And come back next week for more Romance of Figure Skating!

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