Browsing Tag

contemporary romance

Books, Other People's Books

Opening 2019 book roundup, with bonus extra 2018

It will probably surprise none of you that I didn’t get too far into 2019 without getting more new books. 😀

Ebooks

This is technically a book I bought at Orycon, but I didn’t actually go download it off the publisher site until this month. So I’m counting this as a 2019 acquisition: Soul Born, by Kevin James Breaux. This is a fantasy novel put out by Azure Spider Publications, who had a table at Orycon right near the one I was sharing with fellow NIWA members Madison Keller and Jeffrey Cook. I liked the look of the cover, and had a pleasant chat with the lady at the table. So I bought a download code for the book!

A Princess in Theory

A Princess in Theory

Meanwhile, acquired from Kobo, because both of them were on sale for $1.99 at the time:

A Princess in Theory, by Alyssa Cole. I don’t normally buy contemporary romance. But Alyssa Cole has been on the Smart Bitches podcast a couple of times, and she’s delightful. Plus, a) I liked the previous thing of hers I read, An Extraordinary Union, and b) the cover on this title is beautiful. I really like how it’s dynamic and romantic without having to rely upon either person being scantily clad.

Plus, the color scheme stands out to my eye as well. Cole even talked about that on the podcast, and about how the heroine’s dress and the hero’s tie were both patterns she came up with herself, inspired by traditional African ones.

And since she’s an author of color I am happy to explore more of her work!

And #2: no lie, I will totally be reading this thing and mentally casting Chadwick Boseman as the hero. 😉

A Study in Honor, by Claire O’Dell. This one is SF, and came across my radar last year as a new Sherlock Holmes pastiche. The thing here is, the Sherlock and Watson analogues here are both black, queer women. Which strikes me as rather awesome. I’ll be intrigued to see how the author handles keeping core recognizable “Sherlock” and “Watson” characteristics while diverging so hugely from the original characters, as well as so blatantly different a setting. I.e., a futuristic SF dystopia.

Print Books

This actually was a book I acquired in 2018, but which I never mentioned: Cracking the Coding Interview. I ordered this from Amazon last month because I need it for job hunting purposes. And I’ve started slowly working my way through it. It came highly recommended to me by one of my former Big Fish teammates, and so far, a few exercises in, I’m already finding it valuable.

And, since my household always does a gift exchange when Paul returns from Virginia, this also counts as a 2018 acquisition: the hardback edition of The Fall of Gondolin! Which I’ve already read in ebook form, but which I also wanted in hardback.

This bumps my 2018 total up to 59. And so far for 2019, we’re at 3!

Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Happily Ever After, by Ruth A. Casie

It’s been a while since the last Boosting the Signal post, but one of the authors I’ve featured before reached out to me about her new release–and so I’m pleased to present to you another piece featuring romance author Ruth A. Casie. Her new book Happily Ever After dropped last week, and she’s sent me a character interview to give you all a taste of it! The character’s goal, I feel, probably dovetails rather well with Casie’s own–finding meaning as a writer. Though in Beth’s case, that meaning comes with a heaping side helping of meeting the love of her life bringing a spark to her work! Check out the interview below.

Special side note: I’m running this today rather than on Friday, as I’d asked Ruth for a revision to the piece which she kindly provided. So I’m going ahead and running this post today, in the interests of time and to still be as close to her release date as possible.

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Happily Ever After

Happily Ever After

Character Interview Questions
Beth Alexander in Ruth A. Casie’s Happily Ever After

Hi, I’m Beth Alexander, a New York Times, USA Today best-selling author. I want to thank you for inviting me to speak to you today.

How did you first meet your writer?

I met Ruth A. Casie at a book signing in a Bergen County New Jersey bookstore. We were both signing our new releases. We had a great time discussing the industry and finding out about each other. I look back on that discussion often. I knew she wrote historical fantasy, but had no idea she had branched out into contemporary romance. She was telling me about some of her concerns about changing genres. That turned out to be exactly what I did by the end of Part One of Happily Ever After.

Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?

Actually, no. I write books. I’m not in them. I will say that this story shows you who I am, warts and all. But I learned a lot along this journey. (A chuckle) I thought it was all about getting back on lists, but it wasn’t that at all. It was finding a writer and, more importantly a better me. It wasn’t until then that I found my true writing voice and the love of my life.

What are your favorite scenes in your book: the action, the dialog or the romance?

Oh, the dialog. The repartee between me and Jarred is priceless, especially in the library scene. We were talking about the different way men and women react to stress and sex. That’s when my goal took a turn. We spoke so openly. I realized what I lacked and how it came across in my stories. I still can’t believe how open and frank I was with Jarred, nor the low timber of his voice and his eyes. Do you mind if I have a drink of water. It’s hot in here.

What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?

I love to brainstorm new stories and think of ways to put my hero and heroine in danger. Sometime I have no idea how I’m going to get them out on the other side. That’s when they take the pen out of my hand and I’m simply their scribe. They never disappoint me.

Do you like the way the book ended?

I’m humbled by learning to love and trust myself and others. That enabled me to find my true love. Resurrecting my career was a nice secondary benefit. I wouldn’t have Ruth change a word.

What is your least favorite characteristic your writer has attributed to you?

I had been snarky on a social media chat that went viral. My fan base abandoned me. Let’s just say my reaction wasn’t pretty, nor something I want to remember.

What do you wear when you go to sleep?

Hmmm, nothing.

What is your most prized possession?

My Jimmy Choos!

What do you like most about where you live?

I live in Havenport, Rhode Island, a small town on the coast. It’s very similar to Newport. I’ve lived here all my life. My parents have retired to Florida and gave the house to me, my two brothers and my sister as a vacation home. Vacations became only Christmas. So I bought my brothers and sister out and now live there year round. They still invade for Christmas which suites me just fine.

What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy fall Sunday?

If Jarred is home and not giving lectures in New York City, he’s glued to the television watching a game and I’m right there next to him. When he’s away is like to catch up on my reading.

Thank you so much for having me today. I had a great time speaking with you. I hope your readers enjoy Ruth A. Casie’s Happily Ever After.

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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Heating It Up, by Elizabeth Harmon

I owe Elizabeth Harmon a big ol’ public apology–because I had her booked on Boosting the Signal LAST WEEK, not THIS WEEK, and I completely flipped her date with Ruth Casie. So I missed the window to tell you all about the giveaway Elizabeth was running for her latest novella release! AUGH! Sorry Elizabeth! Also apologies to Ruth, since I posted her too early as well.

BUT ANYWAY. Elizabeth has been here before, with Turning It On and Getting It Back. Her latest release is in this same series: the novella Heating It Up.

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Heating It Up

Heating It Up

From Elizabeth:

It’s great to be back on Boosting The Signal, to talk about Heating It Up: A Red Hot Russians Novella, the newest release in my Red Hot Russians series.

Heating It Up began with its setting, Amity Bay, a soon to be shuttered research station in Antarctica. I’ve always found the icy continent fascinating, but I’d never read a romance set there. I wanted to contrast the harsh, isolated surroundings, with the cozy warmth of a small town romance, and also add an off-beat vibe, similar to one of my favorite 1990s TV series, Northern Exposure.

Heating It Up’s Red Hot Russian hero is rugged Alexei Zaikov, Amity Bay’s station manager. Heroine Nora Bradford is a sophisticated American fish out of water who wants to spend the long dark Antarctic winter alone and grieve the devastating losses of her fiance, and career.

But Nora has a secret, one that could devastate Alexei and doom their romance. Read on, as Nora tells her story.

Everyone has that little thing that makes them crazy. For my mother, it was swearing. All I had to do to set her off was drop the f-word into a conversation. Not that went looking for ways to antagonize her. I’ve always been a peaceful person. Miss Go Along to Get Along, who rarely make waves.

Except for that once time when I did. But more about that later.

My name is Nora Bradford and I’m 26. Most people would consider that young, but not me. The last two years have felt like ten. That’s what happens when you have a perfect, beautiful life all planned out, and then one day, everything changes.

That one day was a Friday, and I was at work, at the San Francisco offices of Quinn & Associates, one of the worlds’ top firms specializing in sustainable architecture. After finishing my master’s in architecture at Stanford, I was an associate working on a plum project. I was engaged to Blake, the love of my life, who’d gone down to Belize with friends for a weekend diving trip. Life was perfect until that phone call, telling me Blake had drowned.

Just like that, my perfect, beautiful life was gone.

All that was left was my work, designing a sustainable luxury guesthouse to replace an obsolete Antarctic research station. Blake had been especially excited about this project and pouring everything I had into Glacier Ridge Lodge was a way to hold onto him. My boss Herbert Quinn, raved about my work, and told me that when the project was finished, he’d promote me to partner.

Near the end of construction, our firm traveled down to Antarctica. The beautiful building was everything I’d imagined. Antarctica, utterly breathtaking. There was even a hunky, rugged station manager, who asked me out. And though I still couldn’t picture myself with anyone besides Blake, there was something about Alexei Zaikov that drew me.

But I kept my distance. After all, I was the lead designer on the building that was going to put him, and everyone else living at the broken-down Amity Bay station, out of work. Not a good foundation for a relationship.

And within my firm, I had a growing sense something wasn’t right. My colleague Mark Jenkins, whose contributions to the project had been minimal, suddenly became the go-to guy, while I was relegated to making coffee. I’d also become too emotionally attached to the lodge, which had become my memorial for Blake and the beautiful life we would have shared. But no matter how much you want to hang onto the past, it’s gone.

Which brings me back to that thing which sets me off everytime, and any woman working in a male-dominated field knows exactly what I mean: mansplaining.

Three nights before we were to leave Antarctica, Herbert announced that Quinn & Associates’ newest partner was Mark Jenkins, not me. When I confronted Herbert, he told me that because I was young and lacked “professional authority,” it was somehow okay to take what he’d promised me, and give it to someone else who’d done less, but deserved it more, thanks to his all-important “professional authority.”

Profound grief and too much New Zealand Shiraz can really mess with your judgement. Herbert’s mansplain triggered an ugly tirade that would have horrified my poor mother. He survived it, but my career didn’t. Unemployed and alone, there was only one place I wanted to be. It took some devious finagling, but I found a way to stay behind at the now-deserted Glacier Ridge Lodge, the only place where life still makes sense.

Spending the winter alone in Antarctica…what could possibly go wrong?

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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Timeless Tales, by Various Authors

One last post to clear my Boosting the Signal queue, finally! This one comes to me from fellow Here Be Magic author Ruth A. Casie, and even though it’s May, what the hey, I’m still going to run this piece about the holiday anthology she participated in. It’s called Timeless Tales, and Ruth’s piece, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”, features a heroine whose goal is going to be familiar to all my fellow writers: trying to resurrect her stalled-out muse. If you feel the need for a bit of wintry holiday goodness while the weather’s heating up outside, this might be just what you’re looking for.

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Timeless Moments

Timeless Moments

Roberta’s review was on my e-reader and I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was as if she’d plunged a knife in my heart then slowly twisted it throughout her review until the end when she gave the final flourish and dug in even deeper. I must have misread her comments. How could she compare my work with this JD Watson? I crushed the paper and aimed for the basket, but missed. Was her review her revenge for that shit storm on the open chat? It couldn’t be. That was three months ago.

I know. I should’ve kept my mouth shut. But no. Not me. Like so many faceless social media participants I spewed my vitriol. Except… I’m not faceless. I’m Beth Alexander, an international best-selling romance writer. People listen when I speak. My eyes slid close. I knew better.

To distance myself from the desk I gravitated to the window and pulled back the curtain. It would be a white Christmas, but the clean snow outside Havenport Inn didn’t cover anything up. Roberta’s review of SPENT ADRIFT, the latest book in my Jo Dee series was the icing on the cake.

The notebook for my next book was blank. I hadn’t been able to write a word since September. I was back here in my home town where I fell in love with writing for a family Christmas and a book sign for said rotten book at The Final Chapter Bookstore. Final Chapter. How prophetic. I slammed the curtain shut. It would have splintered into a million pieces if it had been a shutter. Tears dripped down my cheeks. Was it over? Was that funny little muse gone… forever?

The steam quickly out of me I looked into the dresser mirror. I forced a smile and blotted the tears from my cheeks. “You write romantic comedy about women, like your Jo Dee, who are strong, smart and empowered and the men, like Jo’s Detective Ryan, who deserve them. Ten books is not a fluke. Now put on those new Jimmy Choo boots and get over the bookstore and get things set up for tomorrow.”

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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Getting It Back, by Elizabeth Harmon

I meant to have this post ready to go earlier today–but if you follow me on the social networks, you’ll probably have seen that we had a windstorm in Seattle earlier this week, and I was without power for a couple of days. THAT SAID: neither wind nor rain will stand in the way of boosting a signal for long! Particularly if a fellow Carina author is involved. I had Elizabeth Harmon on the blog earlier this year, and she’s back now for an early look at her next Carina release, the contemporary romance Getting It Back. This is book three in her Red Hot Russians series, and she’d like you all to meet her hero Misha, who has very firm ideas about what he wants to do in the world of figure skating! Pre-order links for the book are below!

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Getting It Back

Getting It Back

Imagine sacrificing everything to achieve your dream…and falling short.

Since leaving competitive figure skating, Mikhail “Misha” Zaikov, the hero of Getting It Back, my upcoming contemporary romance, and the third book in the Carina Press Red Hot Russians series, has been haunted by what might have been.

Once Russia’s top male figure skater, Misha was the favorite to win gold at the Lake Placid Winter Games. But an unlucky fall cost him victory. Though he hoped for another chance…a devastating injury brought a too-early end to his skating career.

He’s tried to turn his back on figure skating, but Misha is unmoored and drifting—until he decides to return to competitive ice.

Misha is sure a successful comeback will help him get back everything he’s lost—fame, fortune, and the love he’d thought was gone forever. But if the stakes are high, the risks are higher. Another injury could prove catastrophic, and he needs the help of Amy Shepherd, a young American athletic trainer, who is the only woman he’s ever loved. Amy wants to help Misha reach his dream…but is just as determined not to risk her heart.

Read on, as Misha shares a little of his story.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a figure skater.

That might sound like exaggeration, I know. How can a little kid be a skater? But in Western Siberia where I grew up, skating was as natural as running or jumping. I started, wearing my cousin’s old hockey skates. But when I was five, I got brand new black figure skates for New Year. From then on, there was never doubt of what I would be.

A skater, just like my papa.

You see, my father was Ilya Zaikov, one of the best men’s singles figure skaters in Russia, if not the world, in early 1980s. He competed in many championships and would have skated at Sarajevo in 1984, but was injured and forced to retire. His life after skating didn’t go as planned. Ilya hoped to coach in Moscow or St. Petersburg, working with our country’s best skaters. Instead, he was sent to work as skating instructor in the poor, coal-mining town where I was born.

His life was filled with hardship and disappointment, but there was nothing I loved more than watching him skate. When he gave me his old medal from Soviet National Championship, and said that one day I would win one too, I swore to make him proud.

But the years after Soviet Union fell were hard for many in Russia, and my family was no exception. Both my parents lost their jobs, and when Ilya could no longer afford medicine to relieve pain in his knees, he turned to vodka. Out of work, he put everything he had into coaching me.

When I was twelve, I competed for first time in Russian National Championships. It was exciting to come to Moscow and when I placed fifth, I was very happy. Unfortuantely, my father wasn’t. Drunk, he confronted some of the judges in the hotel bar. It was humiliating, and the best day of my life became the worst. One fortunate thing did come of it, though. My performance attracted interest from great coach, Yuri Bogdanov. When Bogdanov invited me to train with him in St. Petersburg, I left everything else behind, including my father.

For the next ten years, skating was what I lived, ate, and breathed. At seventeen, I skated in Winter Games in Oslo and four years later, was favored to take gold in Lake Placid Games. I took bronze instead. Most people see that as an accomplishment to feel proud of. But considering everything I sacrificed, it’s never felt like enough.

Even so, skating was my sport, my identity, my life. And then one day, it was gone.

I tried other jobs…I was coach for a time in Chicago, but it didn’t last. I was short order cook for an even shorter time. That didn’t last either, thanks to beautiful and fearless woman I like to call Tiger. Amy Shepherd was my athletic trainer, and she is the one person who makes me question whether going back to the ice is really what will make me happy.

But just as Amy uses ice to soothe aches and pains after training, for me, the ice is the only thing that seems to soothe the ache deep inside. I know that I’m becoming my father in a way I never wanted to be—a broken man, tormented by what he lost. I don’t want that to be the end of my story. That’s why I’ve decided to return to competition.

Amy fears I’ll be injured again. With two fused discs in my spine, another injury would be very bad. Catastrophic, some doctors say. Others in the skating world say at twenty-seven, I’m too old, and can no longer master the quadruple jumps I’ll need to compete against up and coming teenagers. Do you know what I say?

Watch me.

You see, I am skater. It’s what defines me. It’s what I’ve sacrificed everything for. Would winning gold make those sacrifices seem worth it? Between you and me, I don’t know. All I know is that I have to try.

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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: One More Second Chance, by Jana Richards

Jana Richards is a fellow Carina author, but for this post for Boosting the Signal, she approached me about a new non-Carina release of hers! She also asked me to mention that the ebook edition of One More Second Chance is on sale for 99 cents, from August 21st through September 4th! This book’s a contemporary romance, and from the sound of it, Jana’s heroine Julia has a very challenging goal indeed: raising her daughter as a single mother, in the face of multiple other demands. So if small town contemporary romance is your catnip, give this a look, won’t you? Particularly since it’s conveniently on sale!

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One More Second Chance

One More Second Chance

My name is Julia Stewart. I’m a high school principal in a small town, a place called Lobster Cove. With a name like you’ve probably guessed we’re not in Kansas, Toto. Lobster Cove is located on Mount Desert Island, off the coast of Maine. We’re just down the road from Bar Harbor.

I love this place. Sometimes when I look out at Frenchman Bay and see the islands in the distance, with the sun glinting off the waves, it makes me want to cry. Silly, I know, but the natural beauty of my little island has that effect on me.

The town is cute as a button, too. There are all these quaint little shops painted in bright colors. We have a town square with a bandstand that’s about as American as apple pie. You can walk down to the pier and watch the lobster boats come in.

Mostly I love this town because it’s home. My parents are here, and so are the friends I’ve known since childhood. This is where I want to raise my six year old daughter, Ava.

I’m never leaving Lobster Cove again.

My ex-husband Russ convinced me to go to Thailand to teach English. I thought it would be a big, fun adventure. And it was, sometimes. But mostly I was homesick. I couldn’t believe how much I missed mom and dad, my friends, my hometown. When I got pregnant with Ava, I insisted we move home. I wanted to give birth in Lobster Cove, with my parents and friends close by for support. But Russ wasn’t happy about coming home. When Ava was three he left me to back to Thailand.

I was devastated. Especially when he told me that he was in love with a Thai woman he’d met when we were there together. I didn’t have a clue he’d been having an affair right under my nose. I thought I knew everything about Russ. We’d been together since the tenth grade and I didn’t think we had any secrets. You never really know a person, do you?

So there I was, suddenly a single working mom. I was able to secure the position of principal at the Lobster Cove High School, and I love it, but the job has come with a whole lot of complications. My math teacher, who thinks he should gotten the job as principal, is doing everything he can to undermine my authority. My former father-in-law, who happen to be school board chairman, opposes everything I stand for as a principal. And, oh yeah, he blames me for the divorce. Russ hasn’t sent so much as a birthday card to Ava since he left, and he hasn’t spoken to his parents either. Wyatt blames me for that, too.

But right now those problems seem almost trivial compared to what’s looming on the horizon. There’s something very, very wrong with my mother. She may be responsible for Ava’s broken arm. Dear God, she may have abused her.

I can scarcely believe it. My mom has always been my rock. I wouldn’t have made it through Russ’s desertion and our subsequent divorce without her. I don’t know what to do.

There’s a further complication. Mom and Dad’s new neighbor, Alex Campbell. He’s the new doctor in town. The new temporary doctor. In a few months when completes his contract with the Island Health Board, he’ll head back to San Diego. He’ll soon be gone so I shouldn’t lean on him for help with my parents. My heartbeat shouldn’t accelerate whenever he looks at me. I shouldn’t let Ava fall in love with him.

I shouldn’t fall in love with him either. I’ve been down this road before. I put everything I had into my marriage and it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t enough. The betrayal still aches. And it’s left me very cautious.

Maybe, down the road, I might be ready to find love with a man who loves this place and wants live here as much as I do. A local. Not someone like Alex who’s from away and will be leaving soon. It doesn’t matter how compassionate he is, how supportive he’s been of my parents, or how wildly attracted I am to him. It doesn’t even matter that the thought of losing him makes me physically ill. I can’t love him.

And don’t tell me I should ask him to stay. If he stays he’ll soon grow tired of the smallness of this place. He’ll soon resent me for trapping him here. I know how this will play out.

I let a man drag me away from this island once, and I won’t let it happen again. I can’t.

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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Turning It On, by Elizabeth Harmon

As I’ve posted earlier today, it’s a VERY good day thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision about same-sex marriage. However, let it not be said that opposite-sex relationships don’t get celebrated in these parts either! Because today I bring you another contemporary romance from fellow Carina author Elizabeth Harmon, who wants you to know about her new release in her Red Hot Russians series. And her hero–Vlad the Bad! Who has a goal that may surprise you, given that he’s a stripper, and it’s certainly surprising people in the story! I gotta say, though: way to go Vlad!

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Turning It On

Turning It On

Looks can be deceiving, especially when you’re a contestant on TV’s sexiest reality show.

In Turning It On, (Red Hot Russians #2), my new Carina Press release, due out June 29, shy book editor Hannah Levinson tries to keep her fame-hungry fiancé from the clutches of a scheming dental hygienist, with the help of an unlikely ally, sexy Russian male stripper, Vlad the Bad.

When it’s impossible to tell what’s real and what’s an illusion, can Hannah trust that there’s more to Vlad than meets the eye?

Read on, as Vlad reveals himself to Boosting The Signal….

***

Ei, pretty lady. That’s right…you. Don’t be shy. I see how you look at me. That’s okay, I’m used to it. If I minded, wouldn’t be standing here without a shirt, wearing skin-tight jeans made to tear right off my body. I wouldn’t spend hours in gym, or on beach, so I could look this way. I’m not boasting, it’s just fact. When you make your living as I do, looking good is part of the job.

My name is Vladimir Shustov, but here in Miami, most people know me as Vlad the Bad. Maybe you’ve seen me dance at The Male Room. Nyet? Well, The Male Room is a strip club for women, if you haven’t guessed. I’m one of the top acts. Stella, my boss, says that’s because I know how to make every lady think I dance only for her.

Some women who come in may not have a man pay attention to them in real life, so when they are here, I like to make them feel good. They pay me very well, and for a guy who grew up with nothing, and came to this country with nothing, that is important. But is not the only reason I do it. It’s something I can give to another person, even for just a little while. May not mean much, but right now, is all I have.

Back in Russia, I was once an ice dancer. My partner and I even won some medals and we might have had a chance to compete at Winter Games, until we took a bad fall. She broke her hip and decided she didn’t want to skate any more. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, only that I needed to make a lot of money. Stripping was a way to do that.

But when you’re a stripper, people decide who you are without ever bothering to know you. People think I’m stupid, and that all I care about is getting laid. Or getting paid. And yes, most people assume I do one to get the other. I don’t. I won’t lie and say I have no regrets, but it is not who I am, nor is it all I want to be.

What I really want…is to be a writer.

I can tell you’re surprised. Most people are. And it’s true…because I trained as figure skater, my education was miss or hit, as Americans often say. Science I liked, but at math, I was no good. History? What about it? Living in Russia in 1990s and 2000s was like living in history as one nation died and a new one took over. Everyone for themselves…that was what my mother always said. With so many questions about future, who cared about past?

But reading I always loved, and did whenever I had a chance. My favorite stories were those set in worlds even darker and scarier than mine. Compared to robots, demons and flesh-eating aliens, what does it matter if your mother and her boyfriend are in deep with Russkaya Mafiya? Whenever I wasn’t skating, I was often at library, escaping from home, escaping from everything. Before long, I wasn’t content only to read, I began to write.

So far I’ve written one novel and started a second one, called The Flesh Zone. It’s coming of age story about hard working immigrant who comes to United States and is paid fortune to take off his clothes. Then monsters attack his city. I try to do what they say…write what you know. Except for the monsters.

Most people would say two books is good, especially since I’m only twenty-five. Why rush, they say.

Because I know I can only dance for so long, and after, my future doesn’t look so bright. You see, the longer you stay in this life…the life that is lived mostly in the dark…the harder it is to get out. Just ask my mother. She never got out at all.

More than anything, I don’t want to end up that way. Maybe what I really want isn’t simply to be a writer…it is to be someone good and honorable. I haven’t known many people like that, but there have been a few. Not in this life, but before, when I skated. My Uncle Ivan, for one.

What would mean the most is to live a life of which I’m not ashamed…and to be loved by a woman who isn’t ashamed of me. I know, sounds crazy, to think that way. But to me, dreams are like stories. They cost nothing and anybody can have one.

Even a guy called Vlad the Bad.

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