Guest Author

#FiveOnFriday with Helen Lynch

Please welcome Helen Lynch here today! You’re going to love her debut book! But first, let’s find out about her inspiration!

When did you first think about writing a book? Did you write it then, or put it off for a few years?

I like to joke that I wrote my first book when I was nine years old. It was a mystery and came in at a hefty three pages, giving new meaning to the term short contemporary. I’ve written for years, but didn’t start to write seriously until about five years ago.

Why did you decide to become an author?

Stephen King once said he writes because he can’t not write. I can relate to that. I’m happiest and most upbeat when I’m working on a story.

What inspired you to write this book?

I am a firm believer in the healing power of love, and in second chances. I’ve seen people face overwhelming loss and pain, and still be brave enough to live life to the fullest, and to risk their heart. Loving Matt is such a story.

Where do your ideas for stories come from?

Oh, everywhere! For a while, I tried to write romantic suspense and all I needed to do was read the headlines for inspiration. Now that I’ve settled on small town contemporary romance, inspiration is all around me. I focus on the things that are most important to me, love, family, friendship, all tied up in a happy ending.

What’s usually the first thing that sparks a story idea? (For example, you come up with a title, a character, an idea, a setting, etc. and the story grows from there.)

I always start with the characters: who they are, what they do, what they want, what their goals are, and then, what’s keeping them apart. Loving Matt, the first book in my Sunset Bay series, was sparked by a boxed ad I saw in a local Pennysaver. “Single dad with a six year old son looking for house to rent. Must have big back yard.” That just sent the wheels turning!

Blurb

Widower Matt Copeland packs up his life and moves with his six-year-old son to a small New England town in an attempt to build a new life away from the sadness that haunts them. Refusing to risk his heart, or his son’s, ever again, the former police officer holds everyone at arms length.
Until he meets realtor Chelsea Abbott. Chelsea has suffered loss as well, but refuses to let it define her. She rents Matt a very special house, and helps him settle into life in Sunset Bay. Little by little, he begins to let his guard down and cautiously explores the possibility of letting Chelsea into his life.
Then Chelsea is hurt, and the nightmare of losing his wife resurfaces. He realizes he has put his heart, and more importantly his son’s, at risk again, and breaks off the budding relationship. Can Chelsea convince him that love is more powerful than fear and that some things are worth the risk?

Buy Links

Amazon – Amazon http://amzn.to/2xaiaoC
Barnes & Noble http://bit.ly/2vVOOLW
iBooks http://apple.co/2xamS5A
Kobo http://bit.ly/2g2N3Hl

Excerpt from Loving Matt, A Sunset Bay Romance

CHAPTER ONE

“Okay, I know you’re in here somewhere.” Matt tried to hide the exasperation in his voice as he quickly scanned the living room. How could a kid just disappear? One minute, Zak was standing next to him as he packed up the last of the books from the bookcase, the next he was gone.

“Come on Zak. This isn’t cool.” He couldn’t really blame him. He’d already been through so much upheaval, and now they were leaving the only home Zak had ever known. This, on top of losing his mom. Matt’s jaw clenched. There’s no way he was going there. Not if he wanted to survive.

Matt was no stranger to hardship. He’d been through a lot in his thirty plus years. First, his deployment to Iraq, and the horrors he’d witnessed there, followed by his years on a big city police force. Tough times, yes, but nothing had ever hit him as hard as the death of his wife. Hit him? It just about flattened him. If he hadn’t built the walls he did almost immediately after her diagnosis, he wouldn’t have made it past the first week.

“Come on, buddy. Help me finish packing this box and we’ll grab some pizza. I’ll even let you do the tape.” He smiled, remembering Zak all tangled up in duct tape the last time he’d ‘helped.’

Matt spotted the scuffed toe of Zak’s sneaker peeking out from under the drapes at the same moment his phone rang. Irritated, he reached across the couch and snatched it up, never taking his eyes off the lump behind the curtain. “Hello.”

Silence. His curt tone evidently had taken the caller aback. He repeated the greeting, struggling to keep his tone light even as he walked toward his son. “Hello?”

The caller hesitated for a moment. “I’m looking for Mr. Copeland?”

Her voice was firm, businesslike. Pleasant though. Probably a telemarketer. “You’ve got him.” He kept his eyes locked on the wiggling form, now just inches away from him.

“I’m calling about your ad…”

“Ha! Got you!” Matt dropped the phone and grabbed his son as he dashed from his hiding spot. He placed the blond haired six-year-old in a playful headlock and scrambled to pick up the phone. “Sorry. Hello?”

“Yes. I’m still here.” The tone had an element of frost in it by now. Or wariness. Either way, the slight warmth that he’d felt curling through the phone line was gone.

“Sorry. I was on a recon mission.”

“Pardon me?”

Matt held back a laugh. “It’s sort of like hide and seek. What can I do for you?”

The caller recovered quickly. “I’m calling about the ad you placed in the Sunset Bay Courier.” At his continued silence, she went on. “For a house. To rent.” Now she sounded just a little flustered.

“I’m listening.” He could feel Zak wriggling against him in yet another attempt to escape. “Can you hold on a minute? I think a glass of lemonade and a cookie just might free me up enough to answer your questions.”

He placed the phone on the end table, carefully avoiding the silver framed photo sitting there. That was another place he wasn’t willing to go.

He tousled his son’s hair, then gently pushed him ahead as they entered the kitchen. “Okay. Here’s the deal. You get the cookie and the lemonade and I get five minutes without you trying to disappear on me. What do you say?”

Zak looked up at him. Blue-green eyes, so like his mother’s, clouded with a sadness that never really went away. “Okay, daddy.”

His heart hitched at the small voice and the emptiness it held. Crouching down in front of Zak, Matt looked him straight in the eye. “It’ll be okay, buddy. I promise.”

Even as he said the words, he knew what a lie they were. Things were never going to be okay again. Not for him. Not for Zak. Even a six-year-old knew that much. With one lingering glance, he returned to the living room.

Matt sighed and picked up the phone. The woman was probably long gone by now. “Hello?”

The silence that greeted him confirmed his prediction. He was just about to click the phone off when she responded.

“How was your cookie?”

“My…?” Matt couldn’t help but smile, even if it was fleeting. So, the woman with the smooth-as-syrup voice had a sense of humor. Or, she was totally clueless. “It was delicious.”

“I’m happy for you. But, if you have a moment, I’d like to discuss the ad you placed. For the rental house in Sunset Bay.”

Matt stared at the ceiling and wondered for the millionth time if he was doing the right thing. He glanced around the living room, almost completely bare now of anything but basic furniture. No pictures on the wall, and just a few books and toys strewn around. They’d all been packed up in anticipation of this move. In spite of what his parents and friends thought, it was not all part of some plan to eliminate Emily from his life. Fate, or God, or whatever, had already taken care of that. No matter what they said, he managed to steel himself from the doubts that crept up when he wasn’t looking.  Most of the time. “I’m listening.”

“Great. I have just the house for you and I’d love to show it.”

Pushy. But not too. And nice, if her voice was any indication. But that could all be for show, for business purposes. The whole honey-catching-fly’s kind of thing. “And you are?”

She laughed, a light happy sound. “Sorry. My name is Chelsea Abbott. I’m an agent with Sunset Bay Realty. Would you be interested in a showing? I actually have a couple of houses that I think would work for you, and would be happy to set that up. What would be good for you?”

Matt sighed. What would be good would be for his life to go back to what it was before fate blew it apart. Before he lost the love of his life and his little boy lost his mom. He already had a house, make that a home, one that used to be filled with laughter, noise and happy confusion. It was quiet now. All the time. Like the sadness in his son’s eyes. He felt the all too familiar anger begin to build.

“Mr. Copeland?” she prodded.

“I’m here. Just going over my schedule.”

Schedule. Right. The one with all the empty days, stretching as far as he could see. He’d resigned from the police department right after the funeral, even though everyone tried to talk him out of it. Take a leave, he’d been urged. Take time to heal. Your job will be waiting for you. But how could he ever think of going off to work every day, knowing that as a cop, there was always the possibility he wouldn’t be coming home? Ever. He couldn’t do that to his son. The job was too dangerous, and Zak had already lost too much. No, he’d turned in his badge and his gun, and walked away. “Saturday would be a good day.”

“Great. Any particular time?”

“How about one?” That would give him time to drive to Sunset Bay, check out the houses, and be back home in time for dinner. He’d made an effort since Emily died, to keep some sort of routine for Zak. Not that it did any good. The child was still as listless and hollow-eyed as he had been when he’d first come home to a life without his mom. Matt straightened up. This was the right decision, the only decision. A new town, new friends. Maybe there, the memories wouldn’t haunt them at every turn. Maybe there he would get a real laugh out of his son again.

“I’ve got you down for one pm Saturday. Any questions?”

None the cheerful realtor could answer. A philosopher couldn’t answer the questions that had been burning inside him since it all fell apart. Why Emily? Why them? “No. Sounds pretty straightforward.”

“How about directions? I can e-mail you some.”

“Thank you, but I’m good.”

“Are you sure? It’s no trouble.”

“I appreciate your help, but no thanks. I’ve traveled all over the world. I think I can find my way to Sunset Bay.”

“Fine.”

The sarcasm had evidently not been lost on the woman, judging by the sudden chill in her voice. He sighed. It was like he couldn’t help himself. He really didn’t mean to be a jerk. He was just so damn tired. “Sorry. See you there.”

This was it. No turning back now. In spite of his earlier resistance, he found himself looking down at their wedding photo on the end table, staring at the two smiling people pictured there as if they were total strangers. He picked it up gingerly, running his fingers over the cold, flat surface. It was all ahead of them then, the joy, the heartache. The loss. Hardening his resolve, he walked over and dropped the picture in an open box. It was time to move on.

Author Bio

After working as a reporter at her hometown newspaper for almost twenty years, Helen followed her heart and began a career as a romance writer. A life-long reader and lover of books, especially ones that promise happily-ever-after, she now spends her days writing sweet contemporary romance in a small town in Western New York.

Author Links

http://helenlynch.net

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorHelenLynch/

#FiveOnFriday with MJ Schiller

Please welcome MJ Schiller back! We’re trading posts today, and I’m so happy to have her here with us!

Good morning, all!

For my Five For Friday I chose to answer five of Mary’s questions so you can learn a little bit more about me. So, let’s go!

When did you first think about writing a book? Did you write it then, or put it off for a few years?

I believe I’ve written all my life, but I didn’t start to pursue it seriously until I turned forty. That big milestone had me thinking. You know that book people always say I should write? Maybe it’s time to do that!

Why did you decide to become an author?

I don’t think it was a conscious decision. I was just one of those really imaginative kids at school. A dreamer. Someone who looked at the world a little differently. And I loved what words could do—make you laugh, inspire you, touch you, make you think—the possibilities are really endless!

What inspired you to write this book?

This book is semi-autobiographical. It cracks me up when readers say they believe something isn’t realistic when it is something that came directly from my life. For instance, I’ve had complaints that someone on a lunch lady’s salary couldn’t afford a Coach bag. I was a lunch lady, and while I didn’t have a Coach bag, my girlfriend/coworker probably had at least a half dozen of them, along with other designers’ work. One of our lunch ladies was a doctor’s wife. People don’t always work for money. And if you aren’t working for money, a lunch lady is the perfect job for you. You work the same days your kids are in school, and you can see them during the day. Best of all, you can go home and take a nap before they get finished. (I hear a stampede of ladies heading out to fill out job applications at their nearest school ;)!

Where do your ideas for stories come from?

Mostly from music. When I listen to the song, I let the music move me, but I also imagine the story behind the song. Did the rock star really have a girlfriend that awful? Was their father mean like that? My thoughts start there, and characters begin to come alive!

What’s usually the first thing that sparks a story idea? (For example, you come up with a title, a character, an idea, a setting, etc. and the story grows from there.)

Besides music, there are a few other things that get my imagination going. Sometimes a title will come to mind. Several in the DEVILISH DIVAS SERIES were ones that we discovered at work. Someone would say something, then someone else would say, “that would make a great title. M.J., you need to write a book with that title.” I’m happy to oblige. The imagery of being TRAPPED UNDER ICE, frozen by your past, inspired a novel. In that book, the heroine is a romance novelist/lunch lady (hmm…) and one of her titles was ABANDON ALL HOPE, which ended up being the second book in that ROCKING ROMANCE SERIES. DAMAGE DONE started with a line running through my head. “Even through bloodshot eyes he could tell she was different.” I thought that would make a great first line. Funny thing is, after I wrote the story, that line ended up in the middle, but I had another fun first line, so that was okay. ☺ So, you can see, just about anything and everything inspires me!

Thanks for letting me babble on about myself. How about you tell me a little bit about yourself. What do you look for most in a book? What draws you in? The title? The cover? A great first line? The premise?

The e-copy of TO HELL IN A COACH BAG is on sale right now for 99¢, and I think it will be when this posts. (Although, the publisher is in charge of that, so I’m not 100% sure.) Even at its normal price, it’s a fun read. Check it out….

To Hell in a Coach BagBlurb

Four Midwest lunch ladies on a cross-country road trip…

But the road to love can be rocky. What can save Alex’s marriage when her hubby’s driving her crazy? How can Max ever feel close to her man again when he never puts out? And just when Dani and Tucker are getting close, dreams of Darren’s death begin to haunt her. Can she move past them? And what about Sam? Although Kyle’s logged some serious ice time, her cold shoulder may put his heart in perma-freeze.

Is happiness around the next corner? Or are these four women simply headed TO HELL IN A COACH BAG?

Buy Links

Amazon:  http://mybook.to/ToHellInACoachBag

Barnes and Noble, paperback:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/to-hell-in-a-coach-bag-mj-schiller/1126065861

Nook book: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/to-hell-in-a-coach-bag-mj-schiller/1126065861?ean=9781614179542

Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/to-hell-in-a-coach-bag-the-devilish-divas-series-book-1

iTunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/to-hell-in-a-coach-bag-the-devilish-divas-series-book-1/id1220690386

Excerpt (from Maxine’s point of view)

Standing in JC Penney’s lingerie section, I held up the skimpy red puff of lace and satin. The black fur veeing to the crotch really added a touch of class.

“Nah-ah.”

I hung it back on the rack, glancing around again to see if anyone I knew was in the vicinity. An older lady glanced my way, and I quickly bent, pretending to tie my shoe. Then, realizing they were slip-ons, I had to act like I was scratching my calf, which seemed lame. I moved to a table with sensible panties and kept my eye on Grandma.

Come on. Come on. Don’t you have something else to do? Like knit something?

She finally moved across the aisle to a display of blouses with huge, tacky multi-colored flowers sprawled all over them.

That’s right, I silently encouraged. That’s more your style.

I slid back over to the naughty girl rack, picking up a jade green number. I stared at it, then twisted it around. Was this the back? Or the front? I lifted a few straps with snaps on them.

What the hell are these for? I put it back, shaking my head. Too complicated. I lifted off a sheer pink teddy.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted her. Mrs. McCumpfry, my son, John’s, English teacher. I ducked behind the rack, clasping the teddy to my chest, my heart beating wildly. I can’t let Mrs. McCumpfry see me with naughtywear. My Spidey senses began to tingle and I slid my gaze across the aisle in the opposite direction. Grandma was staring at me, her mouth hanging open. She closed it, put a fist on a cocked hip and frowned at me.

Quit judging. You’d be doing everything you could to get a little action, too. If you’d ever had any.

I immediately felt guilty about thinking so poorly of her. A little guilty. Luckily she turned away. I crouched, hopping a little to relieve my cramped feet. How long was I going to have to stay here? After several minutes, I took a chance and rose. Mrs. McCumpfry was directly across from me, manhandling the lapel of a display suit. I gasped and slammed the pink outfit back onto the rack. I ducked around a partition, leaning against the wall and breathing deeply.

Author Bio

M.J. Schiller is a recently retired lunch lady/romance-romantic suspense writer. She enjoys writing novels whose characters include rock stars, desert princes, teachers, futuristic Knights, construction workers, cops, and a wide variety of others. In her mind everybody has a romance. She is the mother of a twenty-three-year-old and three twenty-one-year-olds. That’s right, triplets! So having recently taught four children to drive, she likes to escape from life on occasion by pretending to be a rock star at karaoke. However…you won’t be seeing her name on any record labels soon.

Author Links

Website: http://www.mjschillerauthor.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/MJ-Schiller-Romance-Author/286382241460365?ref=hl

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/mjschiller/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mjschiller

Tumblr: http://mjschilz.tumblr.com/

Instagram: http://instagram.com/mjschiller

Google + : https://plus.google.com/u/0/110797684036386240402/posts

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6479377.M_J_Schiller

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/M.J.-Schiller/e/B009JOQFQQ/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

#FiveOnFriday with MJ Schiller

MJ Schiller is back with us today! If you haven’t picked up To Hell In A Coach Bag yet, I bet this will convince you!

Five Reasons to like TO HELL IN A COACH BAG

LOVE ~ not only do you have love, you have love four times over! Two married women whose marriages are on the rocks, two single women with baggage. Can they all find their happily-ever-after?

LAUGHTER ~ and lots of it! From purse rescuing to lingerie purchasing, these characters put the AWK in AWKWARD!

LINKS to you (relates) ~ You’ll recognize the issues these women are struggling with, and the bond of friendships that supersede all else.

LIKEABLE CHARACTERS ~ you know these women. You’ve met them before. One of them may be your best friend, your boss, your sister. They are flawed, but fabulous. Real and ridiculous at the same time. They’re the kind of women you’d love to hang out with.

LITTLE OFF-BEAT MUSICAL REFERENCES ~ not only do Sam and Dani have an ongoing challenge to be the first to name the artist of every song they hear, they also like to analyze lyrics. You may find yourself doing it, too, after this read! When you actually sit and think about lyrics, they can be kind of silly.

So get out there and buy yourself a copy. And get one for your best bud while you’re at it! 😉

To Hell in a Coach BagBlurb

Four Midwest lunch ladies on a cross-country road trip…

But the road to love can be rocky. What can save Alex’s marriage when her hubby’s driving her crazy? How can Max ever feel close to her man again when he never puts out? And just when Dani and Tucker are getting close, dreams of Darren’s death begin to haunt her. Can she move past them? And what about Sam? Although Kyle’s logged some serious ice time, her cold shoulder may put his heart in perma-freeze.

Is happiness around the next corner? Or are these four women simply headed TO HELL IN A COACH BAG?

Buy Links

Amazon:  http://mybook.to/ToHellInACoachBag

Barnes and Noble, paperback:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/to-hell-in-a-coach-bag-mj-schiller/1126065861

Nook book: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/to-hell-in-a-coach-bag-mj-schiller/1126065861?ean=9781614179542

Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/to-hell-in-a-coach-bag-the-devilish-divas-series-book-1

iTunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/to-hell-in-a-coach-bag/id1287744809?mt=11

Excerpt

The heads popped up in unison, and Maxine stared at Sam who was pale as a ghost. “I am so sorry.”

“That’s okay,” Sam answered quickly.

“Okay?” Alex screamed. “That’s a four-hundred-dollar Coach purse.”

That got my attention. I stuck out my head. “Excuse me, ladies, but I couldn’t help but overhear. Did you say four-hundred-dollar purse?”

“Oh, Tucker,” Maxine wailed, grabbing ahold of my shirt with both fists. “You have to get that purse.”

“O-o-okay.” Was she the next to crack? I started to leave, but Max called me back.

“Oh, and Tucker, be careful.”

“I will,” I replied, bewildered. It wasn’t like I was going to have to scale the edge of the building to get it. There were stairs.

It was not until I got below that I understood her statement. The billion-dollar purse was stuck on a tree branch hanging over a muddy ravine separating the tennis courts from the outer courtyard. Here and there, quaint little bridges crossed the ravine. There had been some recent mountain storms, and it was plenty full at that point. I looked up to the balcony where the three women watched me.

“How much did you say this purse cost?” I yelled.

“Four-hundred dollars,” they yelled in unison.

As I leaned against the tree trunk and took off my loafers, I glared at them, wondering about the twisty path that brought me to this. I jumped and caught a low branch, then muscled my way to sit on it.

“Oh, my!” Maxine exclaimed.

I analyzed the branch the purse was hooked on and noted no branches were near enough to reach it. One above it appeared questionable, with patches of stripped bark. I climbed higher, hoping to angle my way down, and finally made it to a position where I was directly above it. I laid flat on the branch, holding on with one hand. The other I tried to extend to the purse. I was within inches. Pushing a little farther, I leaned to my right and gave my reach the added inch, and I snagged it.

“Got it!” I called triumphantly. But as I did, my weight carried me around the branch, and I found myself hanging upside down, with my arms and legs wrapped around the branch. Squeals of delight came from the Musketeers, but I ignored them and concentrated on my predicament.

I needed to free my hands to walk myself back in, so I stuck the handle of the purse in my mouth, careful not to leave bite marks on the expensive leather. But when I returned my hand to the branch, an unpleasant noise sounded over the rush of the water below. I prayed the crack came from another branch, and held very still, just in case. To my relief, nothing happened.

Until I began to inch back toward the trunk, at which point a very loud CRACK rent the air. Oh shit. My stomach lurched as I fell through the air, hitting several smaller branches on my way down. I landed with a thud on the soggy bank.

From above came a threefold gasp, followed by a hushed silence.

I assessed my condition, moving to determine if anything was broken. Sore yes, broken no. So, I rose, covered in mud like a horror movie swamp monster. It was smeared on my face, in my hair, and all over my white shirt. I held out my hands as they dripped and looked at my trio of spectators.

“Oh, good. You still have it,” Sam yelled happily.

Author Bio

Bestselling author M.J. Schiller is a retired lunch lady/romance-romantic suspense writer. She enjoys writing novels whose characters include rock stars, desert princes, teachers, futuristic Knights, construction workers, cops, and a wide variety of others. In her mind everybody has a romance. She is the mother of a twenty-two-year-old and three twenty-year-olds. That’s right, triplets! So having recently taught four children to drive, she likes to escape from life on occasion by pretending to be a rock star at karaoke. However…you won’t be seeing her name on any record labels soon.

Author Links

Website: http://www.mjschillerauthor.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/MJ-Schiller-Romance-Author/286382241460365?ref=hl

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/mjschiller/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mjschiller

Tumblr: http://mjschilz.tumblr.com/

Instagram: http://instagram.com/mjschiller

Google + : https://plus.google.com/u/0/110797684036386240402/posts

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6479377.M_J_Schiller

#FiveOnFriday with Elizabeth Harmon

I’m so excited to have Elizabeth Harmon back with us today! I can’t wait to check this one out. I may have had fantasies of being a figure skater once upon a time… if only I had talent!

Hi everyone, and thanks Mary, for having me as a #FiveOnFriday guest!

My new release Shining Through is a sports romance set in a sport that lots of people aren’t familiar with—competitive figure skating.

Figure skating takes a high profile every four years as one of the Winter Olympics’ most popular sports.  But there are a lot of misconceptions about figure skating, one being that it isn’t actually a sport at all!  (It is.)

In addition to being graceful and artistic, it’s demanding physically—not to mention dangerous.  Imagine jumping into the air, spinning four times and landing not just on one foot, but on a sliver of steel less than a quarter-inch wide.  That’s tough enough on solid ground, but on hard, slippery ice?  Yikes!

With the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyongchang coming this February, it promises to be an exciting skating season. So for this #Five On Friday, I thought I’d share Five Things You May Not Know About Figure Skating. (All photos were taken by my friend Roseanne Pontillo at Skate America, 2014)

#1 – It’s more than just the Olympics

While figure skating gets the most attention in Olympic years, the sport has an annual competitive season that runs from August through April.  In addition to national and world championships, there’s a series of six international competitions known as the Grand Prix of Figure Skating, which takes place over six weeks in six different countries!  Though skaters compete in just one or two Grand Prix events, that’s still a lot of miles.

In Shining Through, American skater Tabitha Turner is competing in Star Spangled Skate when she first meets Russia’s Bad Boy of the Ice, Daniil Andreev.  Sparks fly and when Daniil tempts Tabitha to take a secret walk on the wild side, both get more than they bargained for.

#2 – It’s young and done

Like gymnasts, figure skaters, especially in the women’s discipline (“ladies” in skate-speak) keep getting younger.  Tara Lipinski won a World figure skating title at 14 and an Olympic gold medal at 15. Karen Chen,  one of the U.S.’s current top ladies’ skaters, medaled at U.S. Nationals when she was 16. Polina Edmunds competed for the U.S. in the 2014 Olympics before she had her driver’s license. Japan and Russia also have a number of rising teenage stars, like 14-year-old Elena Radionova, shown above.

Twenty-three year old Tabitha knows that the window on her competitive career is closing fast.  The Grenoble Games are her last chance to reward her family’s sacrifices with Olympic gold.  But a determined 16-year-old rival isn’t going to make it easy.

#3 – Skaters perform the same program throughout the season

I once thought skaters created new routines for each competition.  In reality they work for months with their coach and choreographer, as well as specialized coaches to refine their jumps and presentation.  In competitions, the programs must be performed perfectly for skaters to obtain the maximum number of points for each trick (“elements” in skate-speak). Not only do the programs showcase the skaters’ athleticism, they also tell a story.

Daniil’s powerful,  angsty program to Imagine Dragons “Radioactive” captivates Tabitha, who longs to bring more passion to her pretty, but lifeless skate to music from the opera, “Antigone.”  A week working one on one with him in Vancouver helps her unleash her passion on the ice, and off.

#4 – It only looks easy

Elite figure skaters make their sport look effortless, and some people believe that it actually is!  In reality, skaters usually start as children and spend a decade or more before they reach the elite  Senior level.   And just because a skater falls, doesn’t mean that he or she isn’t “good.”  Just as strike-outs and errors are part of baseball, falls are part of skating,  especially when you’re performing crazy-difficult moves like combination jumps and 4-rotation “quad” jumps.  Skaters learn to fall safely, in order to avoid injury.

#5 – The scoring is confusing

Actually if you watch figure skating you probably know this. ☺  While I’m not an expert I’ll try to give a down and dirty explanation.  Skaters receive two sets of scores. Grade of Execution is for how well they perform the moves in their program. Program Component relates to the program content, the skater’s skills and overall performance. The two are added together for a skater’s segment score.  Segment scores (for the short and long programs) are added together to determine who wins the competition.

Sounds simple on the surface but its not uncommon for a skater who fell to receive a higher score than one who didn’t.  The reason usually has to do with the skater who fell having a higher Program Component score than the one who didn’t, either for a better artistic presentation OR more difficult content.  A friend who competes in the Adult  division of figure skating  often jokes about ‘spin to win,’ because certain spins are worth more than jumps.

Are you a figure skating fan or just getting to know the sport?  Leave a comment below and add Shining Through to your Goodreads To Be Read list, and you’ll be entered to win a digital copy!

Thanks for reading! Elizabeth

* * *

Shining ThroughWhen the sweetheart of American figure skating falls for the bad boy of Russian figure skating, it puts her quest for Olympic gold on thin ice. Dirty Dancing meets Olympic figure skating in this sweet and sexy sports romance!

The Biggest Season of Her Career…

America’s sweetheart Tabitha Turner is on track to win figure skating gold in the Winter Games. Her family has sacrificed everything for her career, but the pressure is taking its toll. Burned out and living a lie, can Tabitha let off a little steam without melting the ice?

The Last Chance of His…

Russia’s bad boy of skating Daniil Andreev is determined to prove the toughest thing about him is his competitive fight. When Tabitha tempts him to help her take a secret walk on the wild side, he gives her a taste of the freedom she craves, never expecting that one unforgettable night could turn into something more.

Two Hearts on Thin Ice…

Chicago, Vancouver, Paris… the international figure skating season unfolds. Tabitha and Daniil compete and fall in love, but as the pressure mounts in a make-or-break season, can they set aside their painful pasts and spiral into a shining future together… or will their dreams shatter like thin ice?

At the Winter Games, the torch isn’t the only thing burning…

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Contemporary romance author Elizabeth Harmon loves to read and write romances with a dash of different. She is the author of the Red Hot Russians sports romance series. Her debut novel Pairing Off is a 2016 RITA® Award Finalist.

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Posted in Guest Author | Comments Off on #FiveOnFriday with Elizabeth Harmon

#FiveOnFriday with Iris Blobel

I’m so excited to have Iris Blobel back with us today! I think we all need to take a trip like this one day! Let’s dive in and find out about the trip, and the book it led to!

What inspired you to write this book?

I love this book. We went to the USA a few years back, travelling in a motorhome through five different states, having the time of our lives. After returning home, looking through hundreds of photos, I came up with the idea to turn our itinerary into a story. Fresh Beginnings was born. I hope the readers will enjoy this little journey and hopefully my love for the places we went to is shining through.

For first time readers, what book (of yours) should we start with and why?

Readers can start with any book of mine, but I have two series where the books can be read as a standalone, but to get a “feel” for the characters, I’d recommend to start with the first one. As for Fresh Beginnings, the first book in the series is New Beginnings

What do you hope readers take from reading your work?

I always like to use the cliché “I like to spread love”. My books are about family and friendship, something that is very important to me, and reviews are telling me that is what readers are appreciating.

What is one of your favorite quotes? What about it speaks to you?

“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. But today is a gift.” Having finished cancer treatment only a few months ago, I’m appreciating life, try not to worry about matters I cannot change, but enjoy the little things in life as well as the big ones. I used to stress so much about all sorts of issues and had a need for success that I’d forgotten to love what I have now.

What song could you listen to on repeat and not get sick of?

I LOOOOOVE music, so picking “just” one was a challenge, but I’ve narrowed it down to three songs that have been important to me that last year: Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song”, Savage Garden’s “Affirmation”, and Louis Tomlinson’s “Just hold on”

What is your favorite cocktail or drink?

Hands down – Coke Zero (which they took off the market, quite to my displeasure ☹)

What’s next for you?

“Echoes of the Past” will be re-released later this year or early next year. But there’ll also be a book set partly in New Zealand – another travel inspired story. I’m really looking forward to releasing this book. The main character has a Maori background

Blurb

Jared Fraser, a landscape business owner in Hobart, Australia, sets out for a holiday to the USA to travel along the Route 66 in a motorhome. Looking forward to his first holiday overseas, he’s excited as he prepares himself for the journey. But little could’ve prepared him for crossing paths with a beautiful hitchhiker.

Will he be able to put his past aside and grab onto happiness?

Ivy Bennett thought leaving her boyfriend would be the hard part. It doesn’t take long to figure out how wrong she was. As she struggles with making a new start in her life, the last person she expects to lead her to happiness is a laid-back Australian on vacation.

But she will have to say goodbye again. And not only to Jared.

Buy Links

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/d/B074Y3KMYG/

Barnes and Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fresh-beginnings-iris-blobel/1120056863?ean=2940154527429

iBooks https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/fresh-beginnings/id1275979573?mt=11

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/au/en/ebook/fresh-beginnings-1

Smashwords  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/744769

Check out the whole series!

Excerpt

Ivy enjoyed being with Jared. During their drive towards the Grand Canyon he told her of his home and described as much of Tasmania as possible.

“I always imagined Australia to be hot with white beaches and beautiful water.”

“That’s up in the north in Queensland,” he explained. “We have spectacular beaches as well. Tasmania is a small island in the very south. The last step before the Antarctica, so to speak.”

“That sounds cold!”

He laughed. “It clearly isn’t Queensland.” Settling his gaze on her, he continued, “But it has beautiful beaches as well. And a wonderful marine life. And the mountains. We have some stunning mountains in Tassie.”

“Tassie?”

“Tasmania.”

“It sounds beautiful.”

He agreed. “Yes, it is. One of the best places on earth.”

Once they arrived at the National Park, they found a parking spot and walked towards the edge of the Canyon. She touched his arm to get his attention. Not that she needed to. His attentive nature drew her to him, and she couldn’t get enough of listening to him.

“I feel bad that you pay for everything,” she said in a low voice.

Jared waved his hand. “Nah. It’s only money and luckily the Australian dollar is—”

“Whether you can or can’t afford it, it doesn’t matter. I don’t like it.”

He stopped and turned towards her, causing heat inside her body. Her breath caught but she kept walking, yet, it took him only a few steps to catch up with her and, by way of placing his hand on her shoulder, to stop her.

“Wanna tell me why?”

Avoiding his stare, she lifted her shoulder in a casual shrug.

“A shrug is not really an answer, ya know that, right?”

Yes, she knew that. How could she tell him that she’d left Dylan because he’d spent all the money she’d worked so hard for? She didn’t want to be in the same situation, as in spending someone else’s hard-earned money. But deep inside she didn’t want to hurt Jared, either. She was enjoying her time with him so much, she wasn’t ready for it to end because of some silly pride.

Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a little squirrel in the bushes and despite some guilt inside, it was a perfect distraction.

“Look!” she said louder than she’d intended. “A squirrel.”

With great relief, she noticed how her devious plan had worked. Jared quickly grabbed his camera and kneeled down to get the best shot possible of this little creature.

Kneeling next to him, she asked, “Don’t you have squirrels?”

Still trying to get that perfect photo of the little creature, he whispered, “Nope.”

Author Bio

Iris Blobel was born and raised in Germany and only immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. Having had the travel bug most of her life, Iris spent quite some time living in Scotland, London as well as Canada where she met her husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper has only emerged recently, but now her laptop is a constant companion.

Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her two beautiful daughters.

Next to her job at a private school, she also presents a German Program at the local Community Radio.

Author Links

Website: http://www.irisblobel.com 

Blog: http://www.irisblobel.com/blog

Twitter https://twitter.com/_iris_b

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/IrisBlobel

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4067254.Iris_Blobel

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Iris-Blobel/e/B00FNFP3LI/

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bQ68rL