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Skating Into Fiction

Crystal Lake writer publishes first e-book

McHenry County Magazine

When writing fiction, a key piece of advice often offered to hopeful authors is to “write what you know.”
Contemporary romance author Elizabeth Harmon has done just that with the publication of her first book, “Pairing Off,” set in the world of competitive figure skating.

“I ice-skated as a child, never competitively, but it was something that I enjoyed,” Harmon said. “You take your experiences and memories and they translate into your characters.”

“Pairing Off” is an e-book published by Carina Press, the digital branch of Harlequin. The novel, published February 2015, is the first in Harmon’s “Red Hot Russians” series. It pairs the characters of American figure skater Carrie Parker and Russian skating champion Anton Belikov as they heat up the ice rink to go for gold.

Her second book, “Turning it On,” will be published at the end of June, while the third book is set for publication in March 2016.

The Crystal Lake resident and writer said that she has had an interest in writing all her life.

“Whenever we had a creative writing assignment in English class, I got into it,” Harmon said. “It was my favorite thing to do. I read a lot as a kid and it gave me good instincts for telling stories.”

Harmon said that her writing didn’t take a serious turn until she worked in advertising and sales in the
Chicago area and would commute by train to the city every day in the early 1990s.

“I needed something to do on the train,” she said.

Harmon became a stay-at-home mom in 1997 and started freelance writing, but her desire to write novels never subsided. She wrote a historical romance in 2009 and joined Romance Writers of America, an association that supports romance authors, in 2010.

She began working with an agent in 2013 when she finished “Pairing it Off.” The timing could not have been better for Harmon when the book was pitched to publishers — the 2014 Winter Olympics were taking place in Sochi, Russia.

Harmon was in touch with a Russian blogger living in Moscow who was a vital source of information and added authenticity to her book, she said.

“I was trying to write a Russian-esque story that was more Nora Ephron than Tom Clancy,” Harmon said.

Her method paid off.

“It was thrilling and a little surreal,” Harmon said on hearing the news her book was picked up by Carina Press. “I couldn’t tell anyone until it was final, so that was pretty exciting.”

While e-book authors don’t go on whirlwind book signings, Harmon converses with her fans though blog tours and chats with people on Facebook, she said. She also speaks at workshops in local libraries to share information about writing and editing.

Harmon’s advice to aspiring writers?

“Write, and keep on writing,” Harmon said. “Learn to trust your instincts as a storyteller.”

Harmon reads a variety of genres, including women’s fiction, horror, historical and contemporary romance. But romance is the heart of her writing.

“With romance, your happily-ever-after is guaranteed,” Harmon said. “I also enjoy that it focuses on the very best human emotion.”

To read more about Elizabeth Harmon, visit her blog at elizabethharmonauthor.com.
Editor’s note: Elizabeth Harmon is a longtime freelance feature writer for McHenry County Magazine and its sister publications around the Chicago suburbs. We wish her continued success in her fiction writing.

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