The winter Olympics are finally here! I’m not sure how I feel about these games. For months, we’ve heard nothing but horror stories about corruption—Russia spent over $50 billion to put on the winter Olympics, the largest price tag for an Olympics ever—to threats of terrorism, to Russian president Putin’s stance on gays, and this week, the less than luxury living conditions for the media, the athletes and the fans. And don’t get me started on the story about all the stray dogs in Sochi being rounded up and killed. Barbaric.
But tonight, the games will officially open. Of course, events have been taking place for the past two days. Was there a reason the opening ceremonies had to be delayed? Matt Lauer has been there all week. (Savannah, I hope you packed an extra large Purell for him because I’m sure he’s out by now!) Is it just me or do things feel a little mixed up and jumbled? Showcasing only fifteen sports, the winter games are supposed to be smaller, more intimate and laid back than the summer Olympiads, and yet it seems these games have begun on a more chaotic note. Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to settling in each night to watch, I just hope the side show doesn’t detract from the real story: the performance of the athletes.
Yesterday, I blogged on www.romancingthejock about my favorite winter Olympic sport. Stop on over to see what it is. Hint: special shoes and crazy pants are required. I’m also looking forward to two of the twelve new events: women’s ski jumping (it’s about time!)
and the mixed figure-skating team event (although after last night, I’m not so sure.) And, of course, there’s hockey. I love hockey players—I mean hockey.
I was inspired when the USOC announced the flag bearer for the team USA. It’s Todd Lodwick, a 37-year-old Nordic combined skier. Voted on by the entire 230 member delegation, Lodwick definitely represents the Olympic spirit because this is his sixth winter Olympic games, making him the first US Olympic athlete to compete in six different games. (Surely, his first Olympics was when he was in middle school??) The father of two, Lodwick is a world champion in the Nordic combined who won silver in Vancouver in the team event.
And how about Shaun White, the Flying Tomato. Can we still call him that now that his luscious locks have been shorn? At twenty-seven, he looks all grown up and dare I say sexy? He’s also the richest athlete competing in the games. LoLo Jones is making history by competing on the track in London and now in Sochi as a member of the U.S. women’s bobsled team.
Any way you look at it, these games are guaranteed to keep us all watching and talking. I just hope it’s about the sporting contests and not something else.
What sports are you most excited about watching during the winter Olympics? Is there an athlete you think will be a break out star?
Romance novels involving athletes have become extremely popular in the past several years. Thanks to authors like Susan Elizabeth Phillips and her Chicago Stars, Deirdre Martin and her New York Blades and Jill Shalvis and the Santa Barbara Heat, readers have been culling the shelves for more sports romances.
Why? Because sports romances are inherently sexy. For starters, they feature athletes with ripped bodies, nimble fingers, and lots of stamina. These guys are the ultimate Alpha hero because jocks live their lives playing a game. Not only that, but they get paid well to do it. Most of them are extremely self-confident and driven to win at all costs. In a word, they’re egocentric. Oh yeah, successful, athletic men are very sexy.
A good sports romance will give the reader a peek at the more vulnerable side of athletes, too. These men harbor fears of not making the play or being injured or worse, cut from the team. Some even have quirks or superstitious idiosyncrasies that make them endearing. (Although, I’m not so sure a scruffy beard is sexy, Boston!) A glimpse at the more human aspect of life as a professional athlete adds to the sexiness.
But, the best part of a sports romance is watching these alpha heroes have their whole world turned upside down when they meet the one woman they can’t live without. Athletes approach relationships much like they do a game and they don’t like to lose. So when they meet a woman that changes the game on them, it makes the sparks fly off the pages.
In my latest release, Foolish Games, Baltimore Blaze linebacker, Will “William the Conqueror” Connelly is a cerebral, intense, behemoth man who takes care of business on the playing field while keeping to himself off the gridiron. When he’s blindsided with the news he’s a father, Will believes he can orchestrate the lives of both his son and the baby’s mother much the same way he executes defensive plays during a game. Of course, his game plan doesn’t work out exactly how he expected—what would be the fun in that?
What do you find sexy about a sports romance? What are some of your favorites that you’ve read?
I still remember the first book I wasn’t able to read. It was The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. My problem was not for the reasons you’d think. Yes, this was a controversial book at the time—I attempted to read it in 1973 as a young elementary school student. But the issue was that I physically couldn’t read it. You see, I was the girl with the Coke-bottle glasses and the rare vision disorder that’s only cool to ophthalmologists. By the time I’d reached the fifth grade, the books I wanted to read—the one’s everybody was talking about—were printed with a smaller font than the Weekly Reader and my mixed up brain just wouldn’t let my eyes hold focus long enough to see the tiny words.
For an eleven-year-old, not being able to read about Ponyboy, Sodapop, Two-Bit, Johnny and the rest of the Greasers was devastating. My options were slim since audio books were still a blip on some entrepreneur’s radar. Fortunately, I had a group of devoted friends who volunteered to read the book aloud to me every day at recess. I spent the next few years being read to, until technology and ophthalmology made life a little easier for me. Still, I remember being sixteen and having a doctor tell me I would most likely have difficulty earning a college degree much less being able to realize my dream of becoming an author. The synapse connecting my brain to my vision just wouldn’t allow me to accomplish those goals.
Ten years later, that same eye-doctor marveled at my earning not only a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, but a Master’s Degree in Public Policy. Better yet, I was working as a writer. Well, sort of. I was actually a Congressional investigator who got to write reports and testimony for Congress. But one of those blue books turned out to be my first best seller, a feat I’m still proud of today—even if the subject matter could be used as a sleep aid.
Fast forward another two decades and I’ve finally accomplished my dream of becoming a published novelist. Sure, I can’t actually read the printed version of my books. Not without specially ground hard contact lenses, reading glasses, and a magnifying glass. But I don’t have to read it. I wrote it. Those words on the page came from the voices in my head; voices that refused to be silenced by a nagging disability. (Okay, there are those who think the voices in my head are my real nagging disability, but we’ll save that for another post.)
My process of getting those words on to the actual page is pretty convoluted. Fortunately for people like me, the technology that allows speech to text has been perfected and is now widely used. Who knew back in the days of being read to by friends that a talking phone named Siri would become my constant companion? Or that the British voice on my GPS would take the place of struggling to read the fine print on a map?
Unfortunately, my reading vision will never improve. But the stories in my head refuse to be denied. They flitter before my eyes and throughout my brain demanding to be told. One way or another, I’ll get them on paper and if just one person reads my books and enjoys them, all my efforts will be worth it. This holiday season, I’m grateful to all the readers out there who’ve taken the time to read and review my books, it really means a lot to me.
So tell me, what kinds of obstacles have you had to battle to achieve that one thing in life you always wanted?
(This post originally appeared on the Totebags and Book blog site.)
Christmas seems to be coming in a rush. It doesn’t help that Mother Nature is acting like a menopausal wreck with thunderstorms and 70 degree weather making it feel like April in Atlanta instead of December. Not to mention that I had a book releasing this week and cover copy and edits due on two other books, pushing the whole Christmas shopping, holiday decorating, cookie baking scenario right out the window.
I finally grabbed a couple of hours this morning to decorate the tree—because, really, no one else in the house was going to do it. Normally, it’s one of my favorite holiday jobs, but this year I wasn’t into it. It’s that whole artificial tree thing again. Last year at this time, I blogged about our family’s transition from a real live, sweet smelling tree to a plastic, unscented model. (You can check out that blog here.) For the sake of my men folk, we’ve decided to keep the allergy aggravating stuff outside the house from now on—including during the holiday season. As much as I hate an artificial tree, I hate the nebulizer and coughing and wheezing more.
All it took was a look inside the ornament boxes to change my negative mindset, though. As I unwrapped and hung the ornaments on the branches—branches that didn’t prick me or bend under the weight of my precious ornaments—I realized that it doesn’t matter whether my tree is real or not. It’s the actual the ornaments that tell the story of my family’s journey through Christmas’ these past twenty-two years. Like my family, our tree decorations aren’t fussy or pretentious; they aren’t fashionable or organized. They’re just pieces of the story of who we are and where we’ve been.
Take, for example, the porcelain ornament depicting the North Gate in Seoul Korea. I picked it up when I worked for NBC sports during the 1988 Summer Olympics. My husband has had to glue it together at least twice when it tumbled off a tree branch onto the hardwood floor. (Score one for the artificial tree.) It looks a little gnarly after all these years, but I couldn’t imagine it not being a part of my Christmas tree.
The handmade ornaments that have survived since my kids were in preschool get hung first, up near the top. Some are made out of actual gingerbread and others out of Popsicle sticks and googly eyes. Still others are Sunday school creations made of origami. One was made by my niece out of a piece of ribbon and some beads.
Interspersed among the Solheim originals are the fancy Lennox and Wallace ornaments. Ornaments from the White House are mixed in with balls filled with sand from beaches we’ve visited. There are horses and dogs, marionette Santas all the way from Germany, gingerbread men and reindeer. There’s even a set depicting historic Glyndon, Maryland where my husband grew up. The candy canes are wooden ones that my Grandmother used to hang on her tree.
After nearly three hours of hanging ornaments, I wasn’t so glum about our regal artificial tree. Every year from here on out, it will be the vessel for displaying all the memories that our family has stored up through the years. And just like a corny TV holiday show, I’d found my Christmas spirit exactly where I’d left it—in the boxes filled with ornaments.
Happy holidays to all of you!
Do you have a favorite holiday decoration? Tradition? Care to share?
An author’s life is pretty solitary. Much of my day is spent conversing with the voices in my head rather than actual people. Most of the time, the introvert in me doesn’t mind the one-on-one time with my fantasy world, but sometimes I need to get out of my cave—if not for my questionable mental sanity, then at least to find out what the Kardashians are up to.
Now, I don’t do well in large groups—I believe I already mentioned the introvert part. There’s also the sticky widget involving my low vision. If I meet you at a party, church or a school concert, chances are I won’t recognize you when I meet you again at the supermarket. Even if I’ve met you more than once. If you’re appearing out of context, forget about it. My messed up mind just won’t make the connection. It’s just easier for me to avoid meeting new people rather than to have them think I’m a snob. It’s a philosophy that works well for me despite the protests from the rest of my family.
One day, a couple of years ago, I found a note in my mailbox. Attached to it was a library card. The note was an invitation to a book club my lovely friend Allison (aka Allifun) was kicking off. Obviously, the book club would consist of other women. Many of whom I didn’t know because I don’t play tennis in the neighborhood. (Low vision, remember?) I was skeptical and very reluctant. What if these women were all funnier and smarter, had nicer houses or killer shoes, the introverted part of my brain screamed. Worse, what if I blindly knocked something over or tripped over my own feet?
But, there were BOOKS involved. I love books. Also, the possibility existed that wine would be served at these so called meetings. And if I was really lucky, the occasional morsel of chocolate, too. Surely I could get over my phobias for books, wine and chocolate, right? You betcha!
I’m so glad to be a part of Talking Volumes—yes we even have a name. Not only have I made some fabulous friends—even if they do have nicer homes and better shoes—but I’ve read some remarkable books. Books I might have never bothered with if they weren’t that month’s selection. Thanks to Megan, I’m hooked on Will Trent, a character created by Karin Slaughter. Thanks to Maureen, I’m hooked on Pinot Grigio, but that’s a horse of a different color. Donna introduced us to Louis Zamperini and his amazing true story in Unbroken and Kathy selected one of my favorites: The Language of Flowers. Jeanne cooked an Asian buffet the night we discussed Girl in Translation and Dana created a meal of bugs (made of gummy worms) and “Scalped” potatoes when we read Follow the River. Chris always hosts when her mom is in town so that Nana Marilyn can join in the fun.
Here’s the crazy thing, we actually read and discuss the books when we get together. I know, who does that, right? Not every book chosen has been one I’d read on my own, but they’ve all left me with something to think about. I plan my writing schedule around book club. In the past two years, I’ve had to skip reading only one book because of a deadline, but it’s first on my TBR pile. Best of all, I’ve found a group of friends who share a common love: the joy of the written word. Thanks ladies for letting me be a part of your club. And welcome, Kim!
Check out the Talking Volumes booklist
What about you? Are you in a book club? Do you have any book suggestions for Talking Volumes?