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Friday, November 18, 2011

My Inspiration for ON THIN ICE

While thinking about a blog topic, I began daydreaming about ice skating. It's been a few years since I've skated, but the chilly day and working on my final revisions to my upcoming release, ON THIN ICE, brought the sport to mind. I miss it terribly and think about it often. My location in the hills and my schedule have kept me from returning to skating, but it is surely in my blood and will remain a part of me forever.



Hand in hand with thoughts of skating come memories of my mom and how proud she was of my accomplishments. She's been gone for thirty years and I still hear her voice, "Patience and perseverence will get you far in life."

Stick-to-it-iveness, she called it.

I started taking skating lessons when I was ten. I was a bit too late to catch up with the competetive skaters who had started when they were as young as three or four, but I excelled nonetheless, and loved to zip around the ice executing daring maneuvers that only fearless children and serious athletes would attempt. Skating was an escape for me. Life at home was chaotic at best and more often painful than happy. When I skated, I was transported by the music, the intensity, and the focus required to master the art. I trained hard and sometimes skated four to six hours in a day several days a week. Though I only competed for a few years, the lessons I learned have stayed with me through every endeavor I've taken on since. There were times that my mother pushed me. She had too much invested in me not to want me to succeed. I didn't always understand that at the time, and it was often a source of tension for us.

Mom was diagnosed with cancer when I was twelve and she died four years later. I found out a week after her death that I was pregnant. I was sixteen and a junior in high school. Needless to say, these events put an end to my competetive skating, and I took a huge left turn into the struggles of life as a single parent. Again I leaned on the lessons I learned through my years of training in the world of figure skating. Sacrifice, hard work, self-discipline and commitment were the strengths that got me through some very difficult years and led me to persevere and succeed later on.

These same traits are the cornerstones to becoming a published author, no matter what road you choose, traditional or otherwise. I'm grateful today that my mother believed in me and taught me to believe in myself. I'm thankful that she pushed me at times and at others let me decide for myself what was right for me. Sometimes I learned lessons the hard way, falling repeatedly and picking myself up, brushing off the snow and trying again. Maybe because of that, or inspite of it, the lessons stuck.

ON THIN ICE is a labor of love and the book of my heart. Some of Penny's story is mine and other parts are how I would have liked for people to be and things to have turned out. I often say that writing allows us to re-write our history in some ways. When I first shared this story with others I was told it would never "sell" because I didn't follow the "rules" of story structure and plot. I heard terms like, "too many subplots," "too much telling," and "no one would believe that one teenaged girl could go through so much and come out sane." That one was from a contest judge, LOL.

Yet here I am--happy and healthy with two wonderful grown sons whom I truly admire. I may be breaking the rules, and I may fall. But for me, life is about taking chances, learning and growing, and sharing my experiences with others. Hard lessons are part of life, but I hope that by putting myself out there--on thin ice so to speak, there is a teenager somewhere who reads my story and chooses not to learn the hard way.



What lessons have carried you to where you are today? Did you have to learn them the hard way? Have you written them into your stories? Leave a comment and enter to win an advanced reader copy of ON THIN ICE coming December 15th.

18 comments:

  1. What an amazing personal story you have, PJ!
    Also, I just have to say that the cover is absolutely breathtaking! I'd buy the book for that reason alone.

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  2. Thank you, Stephanie! My husband has such a great eye. I totally trust his judgment on cover art. With his engineering mind and an amazing aptitude for detail, symmetry and aesthetics, he is the perfect designer.

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  3. Honey, you know I'm this book's biggest fan. I love this story - your voice shines through loud and clear. I admit, I expressed concern about "everything but the kitchen sink" being thrown at poor Penny, but I'm also a firm believer in the Author Goddess (it's your world, your rules). And, as a reader, I can tell you that we take the story as it unfolds. I enjoyed the ride and I know everyone will love this book. Nice job and great cover (tell Mr. PJ - kudos)!

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  4. Your story is inspiring, PJ. Hardship can definitely shape us, but our own stick-to-it-iveness is a big part of what our lives become.

    I draw lessons from singing a lot. I had an amazing high school choir teacher, and I learned so much from my experience of preparing for competitions and performances. One, for instance, is how when you sing great, the audience should feel that it's effortless even though it's anything but. The same with great writing. Another is how you can spend hours and hours preparing to sing a song which lasts maybe four minutes - like spending months and months writing a novel which a reader can get through in a few days.

    Thanks for the post and best wishes with the book!

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  5. This sounds like a great story, PJ. It's interesting how much of our lives show up in our characters. I'm definitely putting this one on my to-buy list.

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  6. Thanks, Casey. We'll see if the rest of the world agrees. Mr. PJ says thanks and Hi!

    Julie, you're so right about the four minutes verses the many hours of investment in our art. It is definitely what seperates us from the dabblers. Singing has also taught me so much about overcoming fear and expressing myself through music. It's such a gift when this beautiful sound comes from deep inside of me. It reminds me of how it felt to skate and also the satisfaction I get from writing.

    Thank you, Jo. I'm excited and a little nervous about putting my baby out there, but if one person gets something good from it, it will have done its magic.

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  7. PJ, I like that you write about real people. I am fond of telling people that I can't write rah-rah girls because it's such a far cry from who I am. I wish you the best success with On Thin Ice.

    The story you shared here was super compelling. I'm touched and impressed. Keep on rockin'.

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  8. Thank you, Catie. We each definitely bring our own voice to our stories. That's what makes for diversity in the art of storytelling.

    I wish I had the imagination to come up with some kind of new paranormal creature to write about, but for now real people are scary enough for me:-)

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  9. What a LOVELY post. Truly inspiring. I've seen your book around a lot and I really do want to read it. I'll have to go to Amazon or wherever it's available. My blog today was about writing a letter to my younger self. It seems today that I'm seeing all kinds of posts about growing up and what inspired them and what you would like to tell your kids to help them through the hard years.
    Thank you for that.
    Patti

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  10. Thank you, Patti. The book comes out December 15th. Although you might get an advanced copy if you follow my blog or watch for other opportunities. I'll be doing lots of giveaways over the next few weeks!

    I'll pop over and read your blog later today. I love the idea of writing a letter to your teen self.

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  11. I'm a firm believer in books-of-the-heart. I think the passion shows on the page.

    Those endeavors that get us through troubled early years write lovely notes to our future selves on our hearts and our souls.

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  12. Beautifully said Rhonda. Thanks for commenting.

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  13. I'm so happy to see you have managed to overcome many struggles in life and can share your experiences in helping others in a positive way. Reminds me of the movie Soul Surfer, the girl that gets her arm bit off by a shark and feels why it happened to her and learned to overcome her trauma and see even though her problem was overwhelming, it's nothing compared to others misery as she helps victims of a Tsunami.
    Never give up and believe in yourself are thoughts that motivated me in life, also the sun always comes out after a storm.
    Can't wait to read On Thin Ice! Sure to be a success!

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  14. Thank you, Lorelei. The human spirit is astoundingly resilient. I'm always in awe of people who can triumph over tragedy. It puts all of our problems in perspective.

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  15. What a wonderful true life story of determination. What you've stated about life's lessons are so true. You have gone through so much but also learned a great deal. Bless you.

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  16. And Bless you, Donna. Thanks for taking time to read and comment.

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  17. I'll post your book and the Blog Hop on my FB page. Good luck with your sales.
    Patti

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  18. Thank you, Patricia! That's most kind...blessings back!

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