Red Flags: How a book was “born” (Includes ordering information)

For every book, there is a story about how it came to be.

The story behind Red Flags starts in 1997. The figure skating boom of the 1990s was in full swing. The Internet was in its infancy. Instead of blogs and social media, there were primitive websites and Usenet newsgroups. The hive of Internet skating fandom at that time was a Usenet group called rec.sport.skating.ice.figure, also known as RSSIF. The RSSIF-ers were a knowledgeable,  passionate bunch. Flame wars between different factions were common, especially during the summer months when there weren’t many skating competitions to dissect. Gossip about skaters’ private lives was discouraged, but it seemed unavoidable in an era where elite figure skaters were A-list celebrities whose latest escapades routinely made tabloid headlines.

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At some point during the summer of 1997, the RSSIF regulars got into a heated discussion over which topics should or shouldn’t be allowed. On a whim, I decided to write a little soap opera that covered all of the forbidden topics– closeted gay skaters, eating disorders, extramarital affairs, abusive coaches, crazy skatemoms, bickering pairs– albeit in a fictional skating world populated with characters who were completely made-up; they were not stand-ins for real-life skaters. I titled this soap opera The Strong and the Sequined.

I figured I’d keep the soap opera going for a few weeks, maybe a few months. But each time I posted a new chapter, I would be swamped with requests for back chapters. (Today, I would have posted them on a blog, but blogs hadn’t been invented yet.) I couldn’t believe people were actually reading my little story– I was literally making it up as I went along! I had only a vague idea of what was going to happen next. At that time, I was definitely a “pantser” not a “plotter.” The Strong and the Sequined took on a life of its own.

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Happy Halloween!!!

Wishing you all a safe and Happy Halloween!!!

The house in this picture is so haunted that not everyone can fit into it at the same time. Some of them have to go outdoors. The zombies in particular are looking for a new place, although not a place to live.

Maybe they will move into YOUR neighborhood?

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#MeToo

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I count myself as one of the many, many women who has been sexually harassed or abused. For those who have read my novel, Red Flags, I should emphasize that the events in that book are fictional. I did not suffer horrific abuse as a child/teenager like my main character. The harassment I experienced was “ordinary”, if there is such a thing. The incidents that stand out most occurred on the streets, on the bus, and in bars. Hell, I can’t think of a time when I wasn’t sexually harassed at a bar. That’s why I stay away from those places, even now.

Even though I did not experience the same level of abuse as Larissa from Red Flags, events of this past week underscore the fact that it has happened to far too many real-life women and girls. Then there’s the everybody-knew-but-nobody-did-anything factor…

Banned Books Week

Yay!!! Banned books!!! I would consider it an honor if someone banned one of mine.

The Happy Traveler

Each year, Jonathon, alerts me when it is Banned Books Week.

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‘Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read.  Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information.  Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community – librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers – in shared support of the freedom to seek and express ideas, even those considered unorthodox or unpopular.’   Banned and Challenged Books

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Here is a Top Ten List of Banned Books:

  1. The Wish Giver by Bill Brittain
  2. An Alphabet for Rotten Kid by Davide S. Elliot
  3. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  4. Jean Has Two Moms (Jean a deux mamans) by Opheilie Texier
  5. Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause
  6. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  7. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
  8. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
  9. Black…

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RAISE Act: I wouldn’t qualify to enter the USA, but the main character from my novel does!

I found this Time magazine link via Facebook:

http://time.com/4887574/trump-raise-act-immigration/

Here, you can take an online quiz to determine if you would be eligible to legally immigrate to the United States under the proposed RAISE act. I was born and raised here, yet if I were a me-from-somewhere-else, I would not qualify. I am too old. I only have a bachelor’s degree. I don’t currently have a job offer, a Nobel prize, an Olympic medal, or money to invest in a commercial enterprise.

After I took the quiz as myself, I took it again pretending to be the 18-year-old main character from my figure skating novel, Red Flags. She got in!

Isn’t that something?

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First Day Of School

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It’s hard to balance figure skating with school, but Shirelle, Becky, and Connor took some time to pose for this First Day Of School pic. The school administrators are already getting after Connor for his hair, which is an even brighter shade of pink than what he had over the summer.

Connor’s reaction? “Meh. It’s no big deal. The judges at every competition I’ve skated in since I was ten have told me to tone it down. But I keep toning it up!”

Back to School in the U.S.S.R.

While researching my novel, Red Flags, I bought several old early-grade Soviet schoolbooks on Ebay. I wanted to see for myself what exactly Larissa would have been taught in school. The books also helped me learn the Russian alphabet!

Since it’s Back To School season in both the USA and in the former Soviet Union, I thought I’d share some of the illustrations from two of the books in my collection. On the surface, they aren’t so different from the Dick and Jane type books that were ubiquitous in American schools from the 1930s through the early 1970s. If you are from the U.K., you might see some similarities to the Ladybird series. But there’s a point where the similarities end.

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The Eclipse: Looking Down

Most eyes (safely shielded, I hope) looked toward the sky during today’s solar eclipse. But you could also see some unusual and fascinating sights if you looked down. Here are some photos I took of the shadows on the sidewalk. The eclipse gave the shadows of the trees a wavy quality. In the middle photo, it almost looks like a sand dune, but it was just ordinary pavement.

Oh, and the crickets were going crazy. Absolutely crazy!

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Don’t Call Them “alt-right.” Call Them What They Really Are– White Nationalists

I wrote and posted the original back in November. I am reblogging it now because of Charlottesville.

Jens Lyon

Don’t call them “alt-right.”

It makes them sound like a group of twentysomething-year-old College Republicans sitting around a Student Center table, trying to think of ways to get the campus hipsters to join their cause. “Let’s face it, fellas. At a liberal school like ours, Republicans have a serious branding problem. We need to change our name to something that sounds cool and trendy. You know, like alternative rock? We’ll be the alternative right. The alt right!”

Alt-right also sounds like the name of some long-abandoned Usenet newsgroup from the 1990s, a place where no one has posted anything since George W. Bush got elected.

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Don’t call them “alt-right.” Call them what they really are– white nationalists, white supremacists, white separatists, or neo-Nazis.

“Alt-right” makes them sound harmless. They aren’t.

“Alt-right” normalizes them. They aren’t normal. They must never be considered anything close to what our society deems normal. Here’s…

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