Wonder Boi Writes

In Development eBook Release!

Great news!  Shout it from the roof tops (or various social media platforms) that In Development is now available as an eBook!

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For those of you saying, “wait, I thought it didn’t come out until next week,” well surprise! Amazon has its way of doing things, and I rarely understand the finer points, but the wonderful folks at Brisk Press (Thanks Carolyn and Susan!) got things all sorted out ahead of schedule, which means In Development is now available as an eBook!

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This is the moment we’ve all been preparing for! You’ve seen the hawt Ann McMan cover and wondered whose sexy legs those were by the piano. You’ve heard about the awesome women who helped inspire my characters’ looks. You’ve read an excerpt from the first chapter of the book. And you’ve read the first review telling you this book is well worth your time and $9.99.  You are ready!  You know what to do now!  So what are you waiting for?  Go get your copy of In Development today!

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From a young age, Cobie Galloway made a career of playing the girl-next-door on the silver screen. Only, she’s not a teenager anymore. Ready to challenge herself artistically and earn the part she’s always dreamed of, she’s forced to face the realization that in order to win the roles afforded to edgier actresses, she might first have to audition by playing someone edgier in her day-to-day life.

Pop star Lila Wilder built a multimedia empire by always having her finger on the pulse of what’s hot. However, as she struggles to produce her next smash hit record, she’s finding it hard to keep her name in the public eye, and a string of tumultuous relationships with Hollywood boy-toys no longer captivates anyone’s attention.

Both women tentatively agree to a headline-grabbing fauxmance, with two simple rules: Always stick to the script, and never forget that on the stage of public perception, nothing is real. Can two women find love in a world of carefully crafted illusions, or will a successful charade mean the potential for something more gets left on the cutting-room floor?

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May 22, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In Development: First Review

Hey Friends,

I am super busy right now.  I just finished writing a book, and I need to start my self-edits this week.  I have also been doing my last round of substantive edits on Love All, which will be released this fall, and best of all, we’ve been working on getting the ebooks of In Development into the Amazon distribution system!

That’s right, even as I type this, my new baby is making its way out into the world. So for those of you who want print books, you can pre-order them right now. And for those of you who want ebooks, hang in there. They are on their way.

For those of you who aren’t sure if you want to order In Development right now, let me offer you the book’s very first review to try to tip the scales in my favor.

This one comes from LezReviewBooks, and if you aren’t familiar with the site, you really should check it out.  You can see the review of In Development here, but spoiler alert: They like it! They said nice things like, “Their chemistry is perfectly crafted: sizzling, undeniableable and irresistible. ” They also gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

In fact, they liked it so much they made In Development their recommended book of the month!   Yay for being the book of the month before it’s even officially released.  I hope that means some of you will make it your book of the month (or at least one of them) as soon as it comes out.

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May 17, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

It’s Excerpt Time

It’s May! May is a happy month. My wife wraps up her school year in May. My son’s little league season starts in May. And In Development comes out in May! Yay for May!

To celebrate, I am sharing the first excerpt from the book. What follows is the opening scene, so there’s no set up needed. Read, and hopefully enjoy, my gift you to.  Then scoot on over and pre-order your copy today!

In Development – Chapter 1

The office of Levy and Levy was a whir of human energy vibrating off glass and steel. Everywhere phones rang or buzzed, and there wasn’t a surface that didn’t glisten or gleam. All the bustle and brightness made Cobie Galloway feel even more out of place than she had outside in Times Square. The lights there were brighter and the noises louder, but at least she’d blended into the crowd. As soon as the elevator doors had opened on the forty-second floor, every eye trained on her. Well, maybe not her so much as her clothes or her hair or perhaps the way she slouched and shuffled up to the desk.

Then again, maybe her demeanor made her stand out more than her low-slung jeans and plain cream waffle-weave shirt. She didn’t act like she owned the place, unlike every other sleek, suit-clad person bustling back and forth, talking on a myriad of devices: phones, tablets, Bluetooth earpieces. One guy even seemed to be chatting with his watch. She glanced down at the thick script in her hands and considered trying to have a conversation with it. Instead, she chose the old-fashioned approach and smiled at the receptionist with a severe up-do.

“Hi.”

“Yes?” the woman asked, drumming her jet-black fingernails on her frosted glass desk.

“I’m Stan’s eleven-thirty appointment.”

The receptionist pursed her lips in a way that suggested she highly doubted the truth of the statement but clicked open a document on her iPad. “Mr. Levy has an eleven-thirty appointment with . . .” Her voice trailed off, and she regarded Cobie with a little more interest. Gray eyes flicked over her attire and settled on her face, clearly searching for something to tip the scales of recognition. Cobie decided to make it easier on them both, so she shook her shoulder-length brunette hair from her face, then fluttered her eyelashes a little.

The receptionist’s entire demeanor changed. She leaned forward in her chair, showing a startling amount of cleavage, her cheeks flushing pink and her lips curving upward. “Oh, honey, you’re much taller than you look in all the movies.”

“It’s the angles they shoot from,” she said frankly. “Jeremy doesn’t like anyone to know how short he is.”

Her eyebrows shot up. “How short is he?”

Cobie smiled. “Five-seven on a good day. When I’m barefoot, I look him in the eye.”

“And is everything else about him . . .” She glanced around like she knew she shouldn’t ask but couldn’t pass up the chance. “Proportional?”

Cobie shrugged. “I wouldn’t know. He uses a body double for love scenes.”

The secretary’s mouth dropped, and Cobie felt the tiniest bit of guilt. She didn’t care a wit about protecting Jeremy’s fragile ego, but she didn’t want to do anything that might serve as tabloid fodder. She worked hard to protect her own life. She wouldn’t want to carelessly subject someone else to that kind of scrutiny, whether she particularly enjoyed their company or not. “That’s just between us though, okay?”

The woman pantomimed zipping her lips, locking them, and then depositing the imaginary key in a wastebasket under her translucent desk. The little display made Cobie realize the young woman likely had acting aspirations, which reminded her why she’d stopped by in the first place. “Is Stan in?”

“Oh, yes, of course.” The woman rose. “Right this way.”

Cobie followed her through a series of hallways reminiscent of a shiny anthill. She wondered if she should leave breadcrumbs to find her way back, but she was sure one of the starving actresses or musicians waiting in the wings would eat them before her meeting finished.

Finally, the last hallway dead-ended into a massive set of frosted glass doors accented in polished chrome. The receptionist pressed a button Cobie couldn’t see and whispered, “Cobie Galloway to see you.”

The doors swung open seemingly of their own volition, and the receptionist motioned for her to go inside, even though she didn’t cross the threshold herself.

“Thanks,” Cobie said, hesitating slightly, as though she’d been summoned by the great and powerful Oz. Then she remembered she’d called this meeting with her manager, who worked for her. Taking a deep breath, she lifted her chin and stepped purposefully inside.

“Hey, Stan.”

He smiled at her, holding up one finger and motioning to a cell phone against his ear, and turned to stare out the large windows. “I don’t care how much money he thinks the project is going to make. That’s a problem for the producers. I only care what my client makes, and if there’s not another zero on the next contract I get from you, we’ll go shopping.”

She should probably be glad he said things like that. Hell, maybe he’d said it for her benefit. He’d likely said it on her behalf several times in the last ten years, and judging from the view of Times Square from his office, he got the answer he wanted more often than not. That’s why she stayed with him, she reminded herself. He knew how to get what he wanted, which was what she wanted.

She took a seat in what she assumed was a chair, even though it was made entirely of chrome and angled in a way that kept her feet from touching the ground. Staring down at the script in her lap, she flipped it open and ran her fingers over the title.

Vigilant.

The word stood in bold print. When she closed her eyes, she could still see it. She’d dreamt about it last night. This was the project she’d waited a decade to be a part of, a project that could make, or rather remake, her career into something she could be proud of.

“Cobie.” Stan’s voice boomed from across the room as he tossed his phone onto the desk. “What a treat to see you in person. What brings you to the city?”

“I heard my manager works here.”

“He does. He works very hard here, makes the big deals too, but enough about me.” He flashed her a smile, showing teeth too bright not to have been enhanced somehow. “Tell me about you. Surely you didn’t fly in just to meet with me. You got a hot date?”

She shook her head. “No, I really wanted to talk to you about my next project.”

“Oh, yes. Let me see.” He tapped his temple, drawing attention to the fact that his dark, wavy hair had grayed considerably at the sides. “You just wrapped the last Nick Sparks adaptation, right? Hey, how’s Jeremy?”

“He’s Jeremy,” she said with a sigh. “So very . . . Jeremy.”

“Ah, I remember you two canoodling outside my office when you were just kids.”

She wanted to say she’d never canoodled. Not with Jeremy or anyone else, especially in his office. But she needed to stay focused.

“The time sure does fly, and now you’re practically all grown up, both of you.”

“Actually, that’s what I’m here to talk about,” Cobie cut in. “I have grown up, and I’m ready for the roles I take on to reflect my maturity.”

He stopped abruptly on his stroll down memory lane to look at her seriously for the first time.

“I was looking over the script for Vigilant last night.”

His eyes went wide, signaling she had his full attention now. “Vigilant is a New York Times bestseller. Where did you get the script?”

She shook her head, not wanting to go there. She couldn’t let the conversation become about her contacts versus his. “That doesn’t matter as much as the fact that it’s drafted and in my hands to negotiate with.”

“Negotiate?” He eyed the document like the Pope might look at a crucifix.

“A full treatment, script, screen writer, and female lead,” Cobie said in her most businesslike voice. “It’s a package deal. All or nothing.”

“Nothing is all or nothing,” he mumbled and began to pace. “I heard the author wasn’t willing to negotiate, or I’d have beaten down her door myself.”

“Yes. But would you have pitched me for the lead?”

“Uh, well.” He smoothed his thumb over his eyebrows. “The thing is this will be a very sought-after role.”

“So no, then?”

“It’s not that I don’t think you could handle the acting.” He started patronizing, and she gritted her teeth to stay calm long enough to see if he could turn it around. “But since so many people have read the book, they’re going to have an image in their heads for the character of Vale.”

“And I don’t fit the image?”

“No. But do you know who I spoke to last night?”

“Not a clue.”

“Christopher Columbus, the director, not the explorer.” He chuckled at his own joke.

She rolled her eyes. “I’m sure he’s never heard that one before.”

“He’s doing Night at the Museum Four, and there’s going to be a love interest for the son this time.”

“The son that went to college in the last movie?”

“Yes, that’s the one.”

“So I’d play a college student?”

“Exactly, but there’ll be a few fun action scenes.”

She sighed and wiggled her way out of the awkward art chair. “I’m twenty-six years old, and I’ve never played a character over the age of nineteen.”

“Okay, well, Jeremy is in talks for one where he plays a city kid who gets offered a job on a dude ranch for the summer.”

“Target audience?” she asked drolly, already knowing the answer.

“Girls, twelve to eighteen.”

“I’m too old for teen movies,” she said flatly.

“Oh, honey, don’t talk about yourself that way. You could easily pass for a high school student. Did you know Olivia Newton-John was twenty-nine when she played the role of Sandy in Grease?”

“You’ve mentioned it before, but the thing is, I don’t want to pass for younger than I am.”

He opened his mouth but didn’t seem to know how to respond to the comment. “Say again?”

“I don’t want to be Olivia Newton-John. Don’t get me wrong. She killed that role, but I don’t want to be America’s sweetheart anymore. I don’t want to do teen flicks or musicals either for that matter.”

“But really you do sing, right?”

“Stan,” she said forcefully, “I want to do Vigilant.”

He shook his head slowly.

“I’ve got the skills. I’ve got the build. I’m in great shape.”

“All true, but you don’t have the image. The character is dark, morally ambiguous, a drinker, a fighter, a lesbian shit-kicker.”

“I’m a lesbian shit-kicker.”

“Are you?” he asked, his voice a little higher, like someone talking to a puppy or a child.

“Yes,” she said emphatically.

“Look.” He cut the patronizing tone. “I’m glad you want to branch out, but no one is going to buy you as a lesbian.”

“But I am a lesbian!”

“Oh, I know. I wrote that press release, but this character is actually going to sleep with women, plural, on screen, and you’re just not that kind of lesbian.”

“The kind of lesbian who actually sleeps with a lot of women?”

“Exactly,” he said, almost triumphantly.

“Excuse me?” she spluttered. “I have slept with women. I mean not in the last few months, but it has happened.”

“Good for you. I have a lesbian niece, and I am a sponsor of the big parade in the Village, but—  and I mean no offense—  to the rest of the world you’re still sixteen. And they love that about you. You’re a safety gay.”

“A safety gay?”

“Like Ellen Degeneres or Ellen Page. Really, it’s a shame you’re not named Ellen. Hey, that reminds me, how do you feel about a sitcom? We need someone to read for the role of Jane Fonda’s granddaughter on that Netflix thing. She’s a lesbian, right?”

“No. Lily Tomlin is.”

“Really? Since when? Never mind, she’s funny! You could be funnier, you know.

“Thanks. And I don’t want to play Jane Fonda’s granddaughter. Is there an audition for the role of her lover?”

Stanley about choked. “Was that a joke? If so, it was a funny one. If not, then it wasn’t funny.”

“It wasn’t supposed to be funny.” She practically exploded. “I want to be challenged. I want a grown-up career. I want a manager who wants to make me happy.”

“How about a manager who makes you boatloads of money? Then you can buy whatever makes you happy.”

He didn’t get it. At least not the way she wanted him to. She would have really liked for him to jump on board with her. His enthusiastic support would have been a boon to her confidence, but ultimately, she didn’t need him to share her vision of herself. She did, however, need him to go to bat for her, so she twisted a silver, three-string ring on her right ring finger and played the biggest card left in her hand. “Is your wife in the office today?”

Stanley practically jumped out of his Italian loafers at the comment. “What?”

“Mimi. Is she working today? I haven’t seen her in a long time, and I was wondering what she’s up to.”

“She’s very busy. Big meeting on the music side today.”

“Do you think she’d make time for me?”

A muscle in his jaw twitched, suggesting he knew she would. They might love each other dearly, but they also loved the job. They were as competitive with each other as they were with outside agents, maybe more so. She’d long wondered how that kind of competition could work in a marriage, but she understood that’s what made them work as business partners. If it also made Stanley work a little harder for her, great. If not, Mimi certainly would.

“Can I see that script for a second?” Stan came around the front of his desk. “I promise I’ll give it back.”

The change in his tone, from polite to purposeful, told her everything she needed in order to hand the document over.

He scanned the first page, the line of his eyes indicating he’d stopped on the short background sketch of the lead character.

“Dark, tall, brooding, magnetic, sexual, powerful, edgy.” He read the adjectives aloud. Then he looked up to study her. “Your hair’s too long.”

“I can cut it. Dye it, too, if need be.”

“Your eyes could be right, especially if you wore some eyeliner.”

“Okay.”

“You’ve been working with a trainer?”

“Weights and cardio.”

“Double your routine,” he said flatly, “like yesterday.”

She nodded. She’d gladly push harder for a shot at the role.

He handed her the script and walked around the desk, falling into his chair and leaning back so far he stared at the ceiling. “How bad do you want this, Cobie?”

“I’ll do whatever it takes.”

“Even something you can’t undo?”

She paused, wanting to clarify a little bit, but worried he’d see it as a sign of weakness if she did. “Yes.”

“There will be no more teen movies, no more sappy cowgirls or cheerleader roles.”

“Good.”

“You’ll need a complete image overhaul. Six months minimum of your working the press and photo shoots and being seen playing with the big kids.”

Her stomach turned. “I can’t just go up for the part?”

He frowned. “I can’t pitch this with you as you are. Not if you want a major studio and the budget needed to do this right.”

“I do. I want everything about this project done to perfection.”

“Then you need to make a long-term investment.”

She nodded. She wanted long-term. She needed it. “Tell me what to do.”

He pushed his palm down his forehead as if trying to smooth out the wrinkles forming there. “Give me twenty-four hours to see what I can come up with. Show up tomorrow, same time, same place, ready to take big steps.”

“I will, Stan. I promise I won’t let you down.”

His smile was faint, showing none of his shark teeth now. “I’ll see you then.”

Sensing the need to get out while she was ahead, she backed toward the door.

“Tomorrow, eleven-thirty,” she repeated, but he’d already picked up the phone. She kept backing away down the hall as she heard him telling someone to clear his schedule. She couldn’t believe this was happening, even though the details of what this was were kind of shady, very shady actually. Still, it felt big, and she didn’t want to do anything to mess up.

She took another step backward and stepped on something hard.

“Ouch,” someone said, causing her to jump and bump into a wall, then trip and stumble again.

She might have flailed all the way to the floor if not for two strong hands catching her roughly under her arm and hauling her up.

“What’s the matter with you?” a different voice snapped.

She teetered a bit, trying simultaneously to right herself and see the people around her. As she planted her feet firmly back on the ground, she realized she was staring at a massive chest topped off with big shoulders and a sequoia-sized neck. Only when she tilted back farther did she see a strong jaw and deep-set, dark eyes. The African American man was good-looking enough to be an action star, but the set of his features and his crossed arms and his bulging biceps screamed bodyguard.

“Sorry,” Cobie said, flustered. “I wasn’t watching where I was going.”

“Do you know who you just walked into?” someone behind her asked.

She turned to see a much smaller Latino man in maroon skinny jeans and a paisley shirt purse his lips at her.

“You?”

He started to roll his eyes, then stopped abruptly and narrowed them. “Hey, are you the girl from that one movie, with the guy, the one who’s got those pecs?”

“Yeah.” Cobie didn’t need any more description. She was always that girl in that movie.

“Ooh, girl, you look better with the make-up on,” he said dramatically.

“Thanks,” she muttered and tried to edge past him, but the bodyguard shot out his arm.

“It’s fine, Malik,” a female voice said from behind him. “I don’t think she’s a threat to anyone.”

He didn’t argue, either out of actual agreement or knowing better than to disagree. He simply lowered his arm and stepped to the side.

Cobie’s breath caught at the sight of the woman he’d shielded. Honey blonde hair fell to slender shoulders, framing a pale face. Startling blue eyes flashed amusement from under thick lashes, and painted red lips sparked a heated contrast to the otherwise pastel pallet. Cobie actually took a step back at the sight of her. Not that she hadn’t seen the face a million times, including the billboard towering several stories high just outside, but she’d never stopped to really notice the perfection of its symmetry and precision. It was almost too flawless to be real, and only after too many seconds of being stupefied did she manage to look away.

Not that lowering her eyes actually did anything to improve her brain function, because that only left her staring at a low-cut, white blouse and a long, flowing black skirt with a slit so far up the side even a gentle breeze would reveal anything underneath. It wasn’t a wholly unpleasant prospect. Finally, though, when her eyes reached floor level, she noticed a glaring scuff where the heel of her Doc Martens had clearly tread across the toe of patent leather Manolos.

“I’m so sorry,” she said, snapping her head up, “about your toes.”

The woman’s smile was slow. “They’re fine.”

“Well, your shoes are scuffed. And probably expensive, so if, um, you want to bill me, you can send an invoice to Stan’s office. They can get it to me.”

“You’re going to buy me new shoes?” she asked, clearly amused by the offer.

“I would,” Cobie said earnestly.

“That’s adorable,” the woman said with the faintest hint of a Southern drawl. Then with a minimal wave of her hand, she turned and walked away.

Cobie stood, bewildered, watching her go, skirt blowing in the breeze she created, entourage trailing dutifully in her wake. She may have even craned her neck a bit as they turned a corner, but when finally left alone in the hallway, all she could manage to think was, “So, that’s Lila Wilder.”

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May 2, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Look What I Got!

So this is just going to be a short, happy blog with two main points.

1) I am going to Toronto tomorrow!  I freaking love Canada.  And on this trip I have the honor of reading with several other Lambda Literary Award finalists at Glad Day Bookshop (the worlds oldest LGBTQ bookstore!). If you are in the area, I sure hope you will join us at 7:30.

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2) I got a box in the mail yesterday, and I didn’t know what it was because I didn’t think I’d ordered anything, until I saw the return label.  Not going to lie, first I tried to rip it open, then I tried to use my keys, which didn’t work because I drive a Prius.  Finally I found some scissors.

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Thankfully, I got it open without cutting myself, and yup, it’s my books! <new release squee> Check out that sexy cover, and look away from the fact that I look like a big goober with that cheesy smile.

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Really though, that’s book number 12 in my hands, and I know I’ve said this before, but I’m happy to report it still hasn’t gotten old yet.  This is always the moment it feels real,  like up until this point I have just been hanging out with my imaginary friends. It’s not until I hold it in my hands that I really feel like I’ve written a book.

So maybe, if you want to hold one of these babies in your hands, you can pre-order your copy of In Development right now!

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April 26, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In Development Sights and Sounds

Blog Subtitle: When Taylor Swift and Ellen Page Make Out In My Mind.

I am an auditory person.  I suppose this shouldn’t surprise anyone.  Between my affinity for words and my never-ending need to verbalize any complete thought, it’s pretty clear that nothing in my life is really set until it’s been spoken or read or sung aloud.  This aspect of my personality informs my writing in several ways.  One of the big ones is that I always read my novel, out loud, front to back, before I send it off to my beta readers.  Another important factor is that I (almost) always have a soundtrack to every book I write. Some books have full-length, album-style soundtracks.  They have enough music on them to get me through a full 1-2 hour writing session. Spanish Heart was like that and was filled unsurprisingly with Spanish-language or Spanish-influenced pop.  Timeless‘s play list was over 2 hours of songs mostly from my own time in high school.  Does She Love You? was a Reba McEntire greatest hits collection (duh). Poor Edge of Glory, on the other hand, was four of the most random songs. I cannot even tell you how they were connected to each other, much less the story.  I listened to them on repeat for about 4 months.

Thankfully, for my wife’s sanity,  In Development went in a very different direction in that 6 of the 11 songs came from a surprising source: Taylor Swift.

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I had never been a Taylor Swift fan until this book. That isn’t to say I disliked her. I simply didn’t know enough to form an opinion. Of course, I’d heard her songs on the radio and seen her on the TV a bazillion times, but I’m not sure how many of her catchy hits I could’ve pegged as hers, much less been able to sing along to. Until I heard Blank Space.

I am not at all ashamed to admit that Lila Wilder, one of my main characters from In Development, found her voice in that song. However, Lila, like Taylor, would not be content to be confined to one song.  Soon I was a proud owner of 1989 on my iTunes.  And I listened to it A LOT over the next few months. Slowly, Lila got sassier and stronger and savvier, and at times, shadier.

She also got a fashion upgrade.  Lez be honest: I am no fashion icon.  I own suits in black, gray, and navy.  Beyond that, I’m a jeans-and-T-shirt boi.  Most of the time when I’m writing a scene where characters have to dress up, I just look at the Eddie Bauer or Athleta catalogues online.

This is usually enough to rip a few descriptions needed for my girl-next-door characters.

This was not enough for Lila.  The pop star/social media mogul/designer put me through many hours of Pinterest searching for what super-famous, super-fancy women wear to work and on stage and at home, and once again I kept coming back to Taylor.

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It was an easy jump, seeing as how her voice was already inside my head. And boy, does that woman have all the outfits. All. The. Outfits.  Honestly I’m not sure at what point they stop being outfits and start being costumes, but I feel certain that line got blurred in the book and on my Pinterest board.

Before long, all my listening and the pinning got into Google’s metrics. Soon I was bombarded with ads for Taylor Swift fragrances and gift sets and movies and concert tickets and unauthorized biographies and interviews. Taylor infiltrated every inch of my work space, and most of my brain. Then for some reason I started getting ads for Justin Bieber. Clearly the Sales Guardians of All Things Online had pegged me as a 16-year-old girl. And then at the moment I needed it most, a 16-year-old girl appeared on my pages…but you’re not getting that spoiler in this blog. Let’s stick to clothes and the admission that when it came to dressing Lila, I was in over my head and way outside the realm of personal experience. Thankfully, the Internet giveth in abundance.

But what about my other main character, my actress, Cobie? Despite being named for one of my few TV crushes, Cobie Smulders, she didn’t have much of a face or an image.  As I mentioned before, I’m an auditory person, so I heard Cobie’s voice very clearly early in the writing process, and generally, that’s enough.  Voice, heart, motivation, these are the important aspects of character development for me, and they’ve been more than enough to turn out some of my most popular characters over the last ten years.  However, when compared to the Lila/Taylor mash-up, it felt like poor Cobie was getting the short end of the stick.  And to be honest with you, Cobie has been under-appreciated and undercut in a lot of areas of her life, but that’s another spoiler, so let’s just say I started to feel like she needed a visual counterpart too.

Re-enter Pinterest.  You see, it’s a bit if-you-give-a-mouse-a-cookie, because if you listen to Taylor Swift for mood, you get voice, but if you give a character that voice, she demands a look, and when you’re on Pinterest looking for, well, looks, you might as well look for all the looks, which led me to search for things like “lesbian girl/boi next door,” or “lesbian boi,” or “boi fashion,” and low and behold, all of those search terms eventually led to one person.

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Yeah, I should have seen that coming.  A better lesbian would have seen that coming.  As someone who has literally answered “Ellen Page” to several interviewers who’ve asked “Who should play you in the movie of your life?” I should have seen Ellen Page coming when writing a novel about a lesbian actress who got her start in teen movies.  I am embarrassed to admit I did not.

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I do not watch a lot of movies, okay? I’m poor. I have a ten year old. I live in a small town without a lot of entertainment opportunities. I missed the obvious connection right up until Pinterest smacked me over the head with it.

Suddenly, my actress didn’t just have a voice and conflict. She had style.  If you go to my Pinterest board for In Development you will find several outfits/costumes/looks on Ellen Page that will be described piece for piece on Cobie throughout the course of In Development.

Right now, I should probably stop and give the disclaimer that In Development is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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No, really, this is true…for everything but the characters’ clothes!

I mean it. I do not know Taylor Swift or Ellen Page in person (duh!).  I have not read a single one of the unauthorized biographies Amazon tried to sell me when Google sold them my search histories. I have read a sum total of two articles about them (this one about Ellen Page’s #MeToo moment because I support the movement, and this one about Taylor Swift’s love of read and writing because I am a whore for books).

Neither Cobie nor Lila’s central conflicts are based on their actress/songstress they look like, and I know nothing about either of their relationship histories, so any similarities truly are coincidental (Okay, if pushed, I would have to admit that I think Taylor Swift dated that one guy, from that movie with the other guy who is super-pretty, but whose name I don’t remember).

I did not/do not hold either of them up as role models, nor am I encouraging my readers to. Nor am I saying other people shouldn’t consider them as role models. Maybe they’d be good ones; maybe they’re terrible. I don’t know!

I’m just saying, all I stole from them were my own descriptions, mostly of their clothes.  I hope there is no copyright infringement on descriptions of beautiful women in tuxedos and flapper dresses, because if there is, a lot of authors are in trouble.

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That being said, I will admit that playing character dress-up with two stunning, heavily photographed, outgoing women in the public eye is not the worst form of “research” I’ve ever had to do. Right?

Also, if visualizing Taylor Swift and Ellen Page making out on a grand piano is a copyright infringement, well then, I didn’t do that either, but fair warning, you might want to lawyer up before you read In Development. 😉

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April 19, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Big Announcements

First of all, thanks to everyone who commented on last week’s catch-up post. I drew a random name from the computer generated hat, and stephanielaz won a free audiobook of Does She Love You?. Congrats stephanielaz,  email with your info and I’ll get you the claim code.

If you didn’t win, do not despair because I have a pretty awesome prize in store for you.  Not one, but TWO new books on the 2018 calendar!

That’s right, I’ll be publishing two, full-length contemporary romances novels in the next 6 months!

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Those of you who follow these things closely have already noticed that the awesome Ann McMan cover and blurb for my October release, Love All, appeared on Amazon and the Bywater Books website.

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Love All is a fun and fast sport novel based in the world of tennis.  Think hot locations, hot bodies, and hot tempers thrown into the pressure cooker of the women’s professional tennis circuit. I have had such awesome fun with my other sports romances I just can’t wait to share this one with you starting at Women’s Week in October. But, as I heard from several of you, October is a long way away!

So, I’ve got a special treat for you. It’s another release, and this one is coming out NEXT MONTH.  This one is called In Development, and it’s another high-stakes romance, one featuring an actress and a pop star who might have bitten off more than they can chew when they agree to a headline-grabbing fauxmance.  As you can imagine, when two powerful, driven, talented women get thrown together in a myriad of situations meant to showcase their sex appeal, fun times ensue.

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I will be sharing A LOT more about this novel in the coming weeks, but there is something I want to address straight away to stop the rumor mill before it starts. Because In Development was written so fast, and because I already had a book in Bywater’s summer/fall catalog, my friends and colleagues Susan and Carolyn over at Brisk Press are doing me a huge favor by letting me piggyback on their catalogue. They have gone above and beyond the call of friendship in holding my hand and answering a billion questions over the last few months. Without them, In Development would be on the back burner for months and months. That being said, Ann McMan of Bywater did the insanely sexy cover design; Kelly Smith, owner/editor at Bywater, did all my typesetting.  The ebooks are formatted by Toni, who does my Bywater books, and Lynda Sandoval did the substantive edits the same way she has for all my Bywater books.  I say all this to announce that I am NOT leaving Bywater Books, which is why my fall release is currently in their very capable hands.  Everything is copacetic, and I am still a proud member of the Bywater team. That said, I am beyond grateful that the Brisk brand found In Development worthy of the their high standards they uphold in the genre of Lesbian romance.  This entire experience has reaffirmed for me what an amazing lesfic community I am part of.

So with that in mind, let the countdown to May 29 begin. That’s less than 7 weeks! Not going to lie: I feel a little bit like Beyonce dropping a secret book on such short notice, but hell yeah, let’s do this!

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April 11, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

We’re Baaaaaack!

Hey All,

Sorry I haven’t been writing as much here over the last couple months.  Those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter know I’ve been traveling steadily since early February.  For those of you who don’t follow me on those social media platforms, you can still catch up with the Spangler family adventures by checking out my son’s blog at www.jackietrax.wordpress.com.  Not going to lie here, I’m pretty proud to have another blogger in the family.

But long story short, at the end of a couple of very eventful months, the whole Spangler clan is back in America and working through some re-entry bugs, so I wanted to take just a few minutes to catch up on some miscellany ahead of a HUGE ANNOUNCEMENT coming (hopefully) next week.

The first thing I want to mention is that it’s award season.  It always feels a little awkward to toot my own horn, but I also don’t want to seem ungrateful, either, because I really am truly honored to be a finalist this year for both the Lambda Literary Awards, where Close To Home is a finalist in the Lesbian Romance category,  and the Golden Crown Literary Society, where Edge of Glory is a finalist for the Ann Bannon Popular choice award.  Both awards have wonderful fields full of great nominees, including many of my favorite friends and colleagues, and it’s wonderful to see my work counted among them. I’m also thrilled, though I can take zero credit for this one, that Ann McMan’s wonderful covers for both Close to Home and Edge of Glory are finalists for the Tee Corinne cover design awards. The Lammy winners will be announced in June, and the Goldie winners will be announced in July.  On a related note, I will be attending the Annual GCLS conference in Las Vegas this July 4-8.  I hope to see some of you there.  I also hope that those of you who are members of this amazing organization have voted for your favorite books and book covers here.

Next, I’m proud to share that I was selected as one of this year’s inductees to the Steve and Sandi Adams Legacy Hall of Fame at Illinois State University.  I have always been a proud ISU alum, and I can’t express how much it means to me to be considered part of the Redbird Legacy.  ISU was the first place I ever felt free to be myself.  It’s the place I started to date the woman who would become my wife.  It’s the place where I met my son’s donor and countless other friends I now consider family.  It’s the place I learned to speak up for my community and other vulnerable populations.  It’s the place I cut my teeth on campaign politics, LGBT rights, and women’s rights.  ISU is also the place where I wrote all of my first book, and most of my second. I am looking forward to returning to my alma mater for the Adams Legacy Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and if any of you happen to be in Central Illinois on Friday, April 13, I’d be honored to have you join us for that event.

Third, and finally (because Sandra Moran taught us there’s always three things) Does She Love You? is now available as an audiobook!  For those of you with long commutes or vision impairments or those who just simply love of having stories told to you, you can now get your copy on Amazon, Audible, or iTunes!  This is my 7th audiobook release, and I’m so stoked about it, I’m going to have to give one away for free.  So, just comment below telling me what you’re most looking forward to about this spring, and you’ll be entered to win a free claim code for the audio version of Does She Love You?

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Then be sure to check back next week to see if you won, and also to find out about the super exciting news I’ve been dying to share with you all.

April 4, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Olympic Countdown Guest Blog – Ski Jumping

Hello, wonderful friends and blog readers.  We’re getting close now.  Can you feel the Winter Olympics nearly upon us?  We’re in our final week before the games officially open tomorrow!  Let’s take care of some fun business first and announce that Tsha is this week’s winner of either an ebook of Edge of Glory or audiobook of Trails Merge.  Just shoot me an email at Rachel_Spangler@yahoo.com and let me know which option you’d prefer.  And for this week’s contest, comment below telling me for favorite Olympic moment for another chance to win!

And now without further ado, I’ve got a special treat in store for you!  This week’s blog is an Olympic guest post from my colleague over at BSB, Julianne Rich.  Julianne knows more than anyone I know about the thrilling sport of ski jumping.  She’s also got an amazing book on the subject called Gravity, but that’s enough from me.  I’ll let her tell you more.


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This blog on Women’s Ski Jumping, just like Gravity, is dedicated to every woman who has ever dared to fly free.

jPicture2A dream at Olympic gold in ski jumping. It’s a dream that’s been the exclusive property of male Olympic athletes.

Until now.

For seventeen-year-old Ellie Engebretsen, the 2011 decision to include women’s ski jumping in the Olympics is a game changer. She’d love to bring home the gold for her father, a former Olympic hopeful whose dreams were blown along with his kneeson an ill-timed landing. But can she defy the pull of gravity that draws her to Kate Moreau, her biggest competition and the girl of her dreams?

How can Ellie soar through the air when all she feels like doing is falling hard?

“A spicy novel about two young women daring to fly free in life and love while accurately depicting the thrill of ski jumping!” ~ Sarah Hendrickson, Olympic Ski Jumper and Member of the US Women’s Ski Jumping Team.

As a former competitive free-style skier, I’ve been fascinated with the sport of women’s ski jumping for some time. I’ve watched the videos of these daring athletes launch off a jump and fly the length of a football field at 60 miles per hour. I’ve admired the body control, core strength, and sheer guts it takes to participate in such a sport so when I considered writing a book about empowered women in sports, I naturally turned to ski jumping.

The fight for women ski jumpers to be allowed to compete in the Olympics, as referenced in my book, Gravity, is a very real part of the sport’s history. In 2010, a lawsuit was filed by fifteen female ski jumpers against the IOC on the basis of gender discrimination, and though the suit was defeated, public relations pressure eventually caused the International Olympic Committee to reverse their decision and allow women’s ski jumping as an Olympic sport. For more information about this incredible fight for equality, please read: https://deadspin.com/why-it-took-90-years-for-womens-ski-jumping-to-make-the-1520520342

American ski jumper, Sarah Hendrickson, made history in Sochi in 2014 when she became the first female ski jumper to ever compete in the Olympics. Though the Olympic barrier has been breached, the struggle to find equal footing continues. Currently women ski jumpers are allowed to compete in one event while their male counterparts compete in three. Funding remains a critical issue and athletes rely on endorsement money, crowd-funding, and private donations. This is especially true in the United States, where the sport does not garner the attention it deserves.

Because of the culture rich in equal parts strength and struggle, it was vitally important to me to do my due diligence and capture not only the spirit of the sport, but the spirit of the women who participate in it.

So…I climbed to the top of the ski jump in Hyland, yes – with the intention of attempting a first-person experience; however, the view from atop the K90 jump drove that thought immediately from my mind! Gravity’s book trailer will give you a glimpse into what I saw and why I chose to do the next best thing: write to Sarah Hendrickson!

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9UM73C382k&feature=youtu.be

Truthfully, I had no expectations I would hear back from a busy Olympian in training. However, Sarah is as amazing a person as she is an athlete and wrote me back, fully answered all my questions, beta-read Gravity for fact-checking, wrote advanced praise for the book, and even video-taped a greeting for my guests at the launch party.

Sarah’s greeting: https://youtu.be/irBIod2WvEo

She also taught me all the technical ins and outs of ski jumping, which greatly enhanced Gravity as seen in this excerpt from chapter four:

Time slows. Stops.

Thinking slows. Stops.

My body takes over. I spread my skis into a V in front of me and lean forward. Far, far forward. Beyond the edge of sanity and yeah, I’m not gonna lie, it’s scary as hell. Standard ski jumping equipment should include a pair of wings. Sure would help with the flying part and they might come in handy in the event a jumper lands at the pearly gates.

I reach out with my arms and hold them parallel to my body. They’re not quite wings, but they give me some stabilization as I fly. I’ve taught my upper body to stay loose in case the wind changes.

And the wind always changes.

I shift a little to my right to correct my course. My eyes stare down the knoll of the hill to the K point, the line that marks the average “par” or achieved distance on the particular jump. In ski jumping, all the difficult math is saved for calculating flight formation angles to achieve maximum aerodynamic lift. The actual scoring part is simple. Land on the K point on a normal hill, which is 90 meters, and score 60 points. Land behind the K point and lose two distance points for every meter. Land ahead of it and gain two distance points for every meter. Distance points are straight-forward. Style points, not so much. Each jumper faces five judges who award up to 20 points for style and they examine everything. How smooth the skis are during the jump, how well the skier is balanced, overall form, and whether the jumper nails a telemark-style landing. The top and bottom scores are thrown out, so 60 is the max a jumper can get for style points. It all sounds easy, but it’s hard as fuck.

I fly with the shifting wind and merge into it. Two seconds. Three. Four. I stop counting because the wind has ceased to be wind and has become my breath. I am no longer Eleanor Engebretsen. Or Ellie. Or even El. I am no longer seventeen, or made of flesh and bone, or ruled by my head or heart. I am me. Nameless and uncontainable and free.

JPicture3.pngOf course, it has to end. Nothing this good lasts forever. Bit by bit, I descend toward the ground and pull my body back in preparation for landing. I spread my arms and bend my knees as I move one ski in front of the other. It has come to this. From inrun to take off to flight time to this moment. The things that can go wrong during a landing are incalculable. Over or under correcting body rotation. An unbalanced distribution of weight. Hell, even a clump of the snow. Any number of factors can turn nirvana into nightmare in no time at all and I’ve lost count of the times I’ve wound up looking like road kill in the outrun.

But not this time.

This time the magic happens. One ski and then another, I touch down with a fluidity that tells me I nailed full points for style.

“Fuck yeah!” I drop my arms by my side and ski toward Jack at the bottom of the hill. I cut deep into the snow as I approach her and send up a sheet of slush and ice. It’s a cocky move, but I’ve earned it.

Published by Bold Strokes Books
ORDER GRAVITY: IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bold Strokes Books | WorldCat
NOTE: All rights reserved by Juliann Rich. May not be reproduced without permission.

JPicture4Ski jumping is, quite honestly, the most amazing sport in the world, in my opinion, and it is sadly under-celebrated in the United States. The members of the U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping team rely on private donations and sponsorship funds their road to the Olympics.

To support the sport of women’s ski jumping, please visit wsjusa.com, a non-profit organization, where you can make a 501c3 tax deductible donation.

 

Juliann Rich is the author of four young adult novels: SEARCHING FOR GRACE, TAKING THE STAND, and GRAVITY. She writes character-driven books about young adults who are bound to discover their true selves and the courage to create an authentic life…if the journey doesn’t break them.

She is the recipient of a Golden Crown Literary Award, the Emerging Writer Award (Saints and Sinner’s Literary Festival). She was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in the Children’s and Young Adult category and has also been nominated for the Stonewall Book Awards, Lambda Literary Awards, Minnesota Book Awards, Rainbow Book Awards, and Foreward Indie Awards. She speaks frequently on writing uncompromisingly while standing at the intersection of art and advocacy and teaches aspiring authors of young adult fiction how to craft the contemporary young adult voice in both narrative and dialogue.

Juliann lives with an adorable but naughty dachshund named Bella in a quaint 105-year old house in Saint Paul, Minnesota, she is lovingly restoring to its original beauty.

To learn more about Juliann, visit her website at http://www.juliannrich.com.

 

 

February 8, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Olympic Countdown Alpine Skiing

First thing’s first, let’s give away the FREE BOOKS for this week.  Everyone who commented on my last blog about boardercross got their names thrown into the virtual hat and the winner is solargrrl.  Just email me at Rachel_Spangler@yahoo.com and let me know if you’d rather have the ebook of Edge of Glory or the audio book of Trails Merge.

Now, with that out of the way, let’s move on to this week’s blog and another chance to win more books.

I have to admit, I went back and forth on this week’s topic but ultimately settled on Apline skiing because I gave Corey, one of my characters from Edge of Glory, a lot of love last week and I didn’t want to leave Elise out.

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She might get mad or her feelings hurt, and yeah, I can hear you saying “Rach, those are fictional characters,” and to that I say, “Fictional people are people too, especially the ones that fill my waking hours for weeks on end,” so now it’s time to talk Alpine skiing!

Skiing is one of the quintessential Winter Olympics sports. Skiing has been part of every Winter Olympics since their inception in 1924. It’s one many people have tried at least at a recreational level, myself included.

And while most people get the concept of skiing, boards on each foot, poles in each hand, and a big mountain to slide down, the Winter Olympics showcase a few specific types of races you might not be familiar with.

First up is the Alpine Downhill race.  This race is probably what most of us think of when we thinking of a ski race.  It is the longest race as well as the fastest.  Skiers fly down the course around sweeping turns at speeds surpassing 70 miles an hour. The course is marked by polycarbonate gates or flags, but within them skiers can chose their own lines, and they do their best to find the fastest one, because the fastest person across the line wins.

Next is the Super G, which is very similar to the downhill in that it’s a speed event, where skiers pass through wide-set gates that mark the course.  In fact, Super G races are often set on the same slope as downhill races, but the starting point is lower, and there are more turns.  This makes the course a little slower and a little more technical to run. You’re more likely to see people go out of bounds in Super G than downhill because of this.

The next two races move more fully into the technical area. They are called slaloms.

The Slalom has the shortest course in all of skiing and the quickest turns. Skiers have to weave around color-coded gates, which are more like flexible poles placed very close together, and skiers have to turn incredibly quickly in very little space. While they actually cover a lot less ground and don’t reach nearly the speeds of Downhill, their skis switch direction with vision-blurring transitions. Even after watching this sport quite a bit, I occasionally need to see the slow-mo replay to tell if a skier has actually cleared all the gates.

The Giant Slalom follows the same basic principles but has fewer turns and wider, smoother turns. I find this one to be one of the prettiest events to watch because it combines a lot of the elements of the other races.  In both the Slalom races, each skier makes two runs down two different courses on the same slope. The times are added, and the fastest total time determines the winner.

Lastly is an event called the Super Combined. That’s what it sort of implies, in that it combines the times from one shortened downhill run and a one-run slalom. The fastest total time determines the winner.

So there you have it, the 5 events that both the men and women race in order to make up  Alpine Skiing at the Winter Olympics.

But because I spent so much time researching skiing for Edge of Glory, I don’t want to leave you with just the basics.  I wanted to share with you just a couple things I found fun or impressive along the way.

The first is this article about how Julia Mancuso prepared physically for the winter games.  There are pictures like this.

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You’re welcome.

And lastly I want to leave you with this incredibly fun video from the Canadian ski team, which introduced me to the concept of “skin to win.”  This video right here was the inspiration for one of my favorite scenes in Edge of Glory.  🙂

 

And now it’s your turn. Because skiing is something I actually do for fun, comment below and tell me what you’ve done that is either an Olympic event, or something you think SHOULD be an Olympic event.  I’ll do a drawing for FREE BOOKS and announce the winner with next week’s blog.

January 31, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Olympic Countdown – Boardercross

Last week I introduced you to curling, which is a sport I love to play, and you all offered up some great curling team names.  I drew one from a hat and the winner is Carleen.  Just email me at Rachel_Spangler@yahoo.com, and I’ll send you your choice of either an Ebook copy of Edge of Glory or an audiobook of Trails Merge.

For this week, I’m moving away from a sport I play in real life to one I got to play with in a book because it’s time for Boardercross!

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In the grand scheme of Olympic sports dating back to ancient times, or even modern winter Olympic sports dating back to 1924, Boardercross is a real Johnny-come-lately.  In fact, it’s so new that my character who is only 30 years old was able to compete at the very first Olympic snowboard cross event in 2006, and the entire history of the sport isn’t much longer than that. The earliest informal races began in the ’80s on the backside of mountains and uneven terrain far from the main resorts. The sport was so counterculture that when Olympic organizers first asked competitors to do an exhibition at the Nagano games, many of the big names initially refused, and the rag-tag governing body denied the International Olympic Committee to even use the name “Boardercross,” which is why it’s listed on the Olympic program as Snowboard Cross despite the fact few of the riders use that term themselves.

So, what’s the point of all this excitement and open rebellion?  Well, in Edge of Glory my skier describes the sport of boardercross as a cross between BMX and a mountainside bar fight. I stand by that as a base explanation, but the full story is a little more complicated.

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In Olympic Snowboard Cross there are multiple heats or preliminary races featuring an early round of qualifying or seeding, followed by knockout or elimination heats where 4 or 6 racers are pitted against each other with the top half of the field moving on.  In each race, boarders or riders shoot out of gates atop a mountain course, then the fly over jumps, through turns, and past various obstacles all at the same time.  As they jockey for position, the riders often come into contact with each other, and while things like punching or deliberate tripping are frowned upon, elbows flying and shoulders bumping at high speeds is part of racing.  The first one across the line at the bottom wins.

At the end of each heat a certain number of riders, usually the top 2 or 3, advance to the next heat.

The subsequent races are generally run back to back with the entire event taking place in a single day.  This year the entire Men’s Snowboard Cross program will take place on February 14, and the entire women’s program on February 15.  It makes for a gruelling day for competitors and an exciting one for spectators.

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And one of the things I love best about this sport, aside from the speed and crush of bodies, is that everybody has a shot every time out. No lead is ever commanding enough for feel secure. I’ve seen big names get tripped up and go down right out of the gate.  I’ve seen people lead the entire way with no one else around, only to wipe out completely on the last jump, and I’ve seen people fall at the start of a race and look completely out of it, only to have every other rider crash later on, giving them a clear path to finish.

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Anything can happen at any point, and then the top riders in that race go right back up and run the same course again, so that someone who looked dominant the first time down might end up with a face full of snow fifteen minutes later.

Don’t take my word for it. Check out this race from 2006.

And while these riders do have a reputation for bucking both the tradition and formalities often associated with the Olympics, don’t let their laid-back natures fool you: They are top flight athletes.  If you want to see more of what goes into getting competition-ready, check out this video of legend Nate Holland’s training workouts. You might just catch a glimpse of where I got some reader-favorite scenes from Edge of Glory.

 

I hope I’ve convinced you to mark February 14 and 15 as important days on your Olympic viewing calendars (You all have Olympic viewing calendars, right?) but in the meantime, let’s give away some free books!

For an entry into this week’s drawing, leave me a comment telling me which Olympic sport you’d most like to compete in if you had all the necessary abilities.  I’ll announce the winner next week.

January 25, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

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