Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Real Skaters Talk About Jamie and Matt

Jamie and Matt are real to me––and to my readers, I hope––but they are fictional characters in Pairs on Ice.  One of the perks of writing about the skating world is that I get to meet real kids who skate.  I’ve been especially lucky to meet two skaters who also happen to skate pairs––Timmy Chapman and Taylor Nordquist, of the RDV Sportsplex Ice Den in Orlando

I was delighted when they agreed to be first, or beta, readers for Pairs at Nationals, my second book about Jamie and Matt.  I was even more delighted that they liked it.

“I could really feel Jamie’s emotions,” said Taylor, “and her frustration when things didn’t go right.”

“And I totally got Matt,” said Timmy. “Also, the elements that Jamie and Matt were working on are totally realistic.  Trying to get the split double twist fully rotated, and her back arched in the press, are exactly what skaters at my level are working on . . . I feel like she [the author] really understands some of the struggles skaters go through.”

Timmy and Taylor skated together for five years.  Although they’re no longer a team, I had a chance to talk to them earlier when they still were.  At that time, I asked them if they had anything in common with Pairs on Ice’s Jamie and Matt.  For example, did they ever fight? They both laughed and said “sure.”

“I could identify with the icy glares Matt sent,” Taylor said, a big grin on her face. But unlike Jamie and Matt, who continue bickering off the ice, Timmy and Taylor said they managed to keep their disagreements on the rink. 

“We could have a terrible practice, bomb everything, but off the ice, we were fine,” explained Timmy.

Thinking about Jamie and Matt’s first competition, where they fell on the platter lift, I wondered if Timmy and Taylor ever had a disastrous program.

They looked at each other, then burst out laughing.  “Mama Mia!” they said at the same time.  “We forgot the program!” added Taylor.  “Timmy would whisper what we should do, like ‘do a spin.’”

“The audience thought it was the program,” Timmy said as they laughed again.  “But our coach was not amused.”

I had a great time talking to Timmy and Taylor.  I look forward to following both of them as they advance in their skating careers.  And . . . I look forward to Pairs on Nationals being available to all my readers.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Two Timely Books About Women’s Rights

I recently read two books that are very timely after Tuesday night, when Hillary Clinton became the first woman about to be nominated for President as a major party candidate.
Both of these books explore the road women have taken over the past fifty years to change the culture and make it possible for Clinton reach this point.  The first is Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World by Linda Hirshman.  The book begins with biographies of these first and second women on the Supreme Court.

Did you know, for example, that after Sandra Day O’Connor graduated from Stanford Law School in 1951 and looked for a job, she was flatly told that law firms didn’t hire women lawyers?  One firm “kindly” offered to see if they could find her a job as a legal secretary.  And when Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a student at Harvard Law School in 1956, she attended a dinner party at which the women students were asked to justify their taking places that men could have had.

All that was legal until the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  But it took women challenging discrimination and filing lawsuits to achieve real change.  And it helped to have two women on the Supreme Court.  Sisters in Law shows how these two women, with different backgrounds, different styles, and different philosophies about the law, pulled together and helped advance women’s rights.  The many court cases can be overwhelming, but if you don’t worry about the details, it’s easier––and fascinating!

The other book is Gloria Steinem’s My Life on the Road.  For anyone over fifty, it’s the history of our time, as society slowly changed.  Steinen writes about her travels, her activism, and what she learned along the way by talking to ordinary people from taxi drivers to waitresses, to activists.  She’s had quite a life and her book is relaxed and conversational.

It’s interesting to note that before her speech on Tuesday, Clinton played a video montage of women who had worked for equal rights and paved the way to her historic win. She also paid tribute to the women who organized the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s right convention in the United States.

No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helped you.
––Althea Gibson

Do you have any favorite books about the road to equal rights for women––or about what still needs to be done?