With six months until the Olympic Games, seventeen-year-old Harper’s life is pretty much perfect. She’s fighting for the starting spot on Team USA Women’s Hockey, and for the first time ever, she has a crush on a guy who likes her back. She feels like the luckiest girl in the world, until she runs a risky play at practice and breaks her knee, thereby sentencing herself to six weeks in a cast and possibly ending her Olympic dream before it even starts.
For seventeen-year-old Alex, being anything less than the best is unacceptable. That’s why, after a miserable debut season at the senior level, the former junior national singles champion switches to ice dance. Her skating partner, Ace, is an “all skating all the time” type of guy, which would be fine, if he’d stop keeping secrets about the real reason he and his former partner broke up. Now is not the time for second thoughts, but how can Alex skate her best if she can’t trust her partner…or herself?
As the pressure to make the Olympic team builds, the girls must rely on each other, because if there’s one thing they both know, it’s that the only thing harder than skating to the top is staying there.
Guest Post From Author Beth Pond
Why I Write About Sports
As a writer, you are your own first reader. You have to write a book you’d want to read. Otherwise, let’s be honest, your heart won’t be in it. Write for yourself, first and foremost. This is all wonderful advice that I’ve read countless authors give in some way, shape, or form in various online interviews, and it’s also advice I followed as a young writer without even realizing I was doing it.
My narrators have always had a sporty side, and, as far as I can remember anyway, have also been female. That’s not meant to be any kind of statement on authors writing in the point of view of the opposite gender, but rather an acknowledgment of my own preference. So why do I write about sports? The short answer is I’m 23 years old, and when I was a preteen/teen, there weren’t many books out that that were sports-centric and geared toward girls. Conversely, it seemed like a large portion of the “boy books” had a sports theme or focus. I remember scouring the shelves of my local library and coming across a book about a young male baseball player and thinking “So where’s the softball version?” Now, if I could go back in time, I’d tell myself to read the book anyway, that I’d probably like it, but instead I couldn’t find any sporty “girl books” and left the library empty-handed.
As a child, I played basketball, softball, volleyball, and soccer. I also ice skated, swam, did gymnastics, and rode horses. I was sporty, and while I certainly did find books I enjoyed during my preteen and teen years, there just didn’t seem to be “enough” sporty books for girls. (Though I must say I loved that Quiddich was co-ed, but the Harry Potter series is on its own self of amazing for many reasons.) Sure, there were some “girl books,” as I called them at the time, that involved tomboys, but not as many as I would have liked. And, for the record, not all tomboys are sporty. Title IX was passed in 1972, but the children’s market seemed behind the times. Quite frankly, 13-year-old me was not very happy with this. If girls could play sports, why couldn’t they read about them?
My solution was to write the books I wanted to read. I’ve always loved to write and constantly had a pen in hand or was typing away on the keyboard of our old desktop computer. I was a writer, and I didn’t really care that I was a kid. In fact, I figured that made me a pretty good writer because who better than me to know what kids wanted. So I began to write stories for myself.
When I began to take creative writing classes in college, I knew I wanted to write young adult novels. I wanted to “fill the void” young me had observed in the market. I had ideas, but I needed to study craft. I needed to learn about creating conflicting desires and character arc and all that wonderful stuff. During my breaks, I read, and I found that in the previous few years, that period of time between leaving the library empty-handed as a teen and starting college, there so many newly released books I wished were there when I was a kid. I knew it would be a while before anything I wrote was published, but I was relieved to know I was no longer “filling a void” but rather adding my own voice to the mix.
Podium Finish is a novel I started when I was 16 years old. It was the book I most wanted to read at the time and an idea that I just couldn’t part with. I hope Podium Finish is the first of many successful novels, and I can’t say that I will always have sports play such an integral part of my manuscript, but I will say that one of the reasons I love writing about sports is that so many of the life lessons I learned happened on the field or on the court. Sports taught me discipline, hard work, self-respect, self-confidence, how to win and lose graciously, and how to be a team player. The list goes on. So, while my books do have a very specific target audience, one does not have to been an athlete or even female to understand or enjoy them.
Beth Pond graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Hendrix College in 2012. In 2013, she taught in South Africa for 9 months as part of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Grant. Pond is currently completing her coursework at the University of British Columbia’s Creative Writing MFA program. Her debut novel, Podium Finish, was released from Astraea Press in November 2013. When she’s not writing, Pond enjoys martial arts (she’s a black belt) and serving as a volunteer coach for her brother’s special needs baseball team.
Praise for Podium Finish
Podium Finish is unlike any other book I have read, period. It is amazing that Ms. Pond could take two very different characters who are pursuing two completely different sports and tie them together as roommates at the Olympic Training Center. ~Crystal, Books are Sanity
This is a great, fun book! This story is really 2 stories in one – bonus! ~Shelley Walker, Goodreads
This book was truly enjoyable to read. ~Michele, Amazon Review
Podium Finish is one of the best books I have read in a very long time. I couldn’t put it down once I started reading it. ~Ana, Amazon Reviewer
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