Thursday, February 26, 2015


February is a big romance month (what's more romantic than President's Day?) and, this week,'s Newlyweds Expert features a round-up of some of the most romantic things a husband has ever done for his wife.

Mine, as you may well imagine, isn't exactly hearts and flowers:

A Helping Hand

Alina Adams knows a thing or two about romance. She has written four romance novels. But you'd be surprised at what she thinks of as alluring nowadays. It's her husband's willingness to pitch in around the house that she finds most attractive. "The most romantic thing my husband ever did for me was clean up vomit when the kids threw up," she writes in an e-mail.

In a 2012 blog Adams wrote for she explained the difference between romantic heroes pre- and post-marriage. The wife and mother gushed about how her non-Jewish husband participated in her family's rituals, listened to them speak Russian, which he didn't understand, and went above and beyond as a father.

"I have never read about a romantic hero like my husband in any romance novel," she wrote. "To be honest, I think that if I tried to pitch one like him, nobody would believe me. ('But, what’s his motivation to do all this for you?' 'I dunno? He loves me?' 'Sorry. We can’t sell that.')" 

To read what other women had to say, click here.

And to enjoy my unconventional take on romance in fictional form, join me at, where I am writing my next book live online with readers watching - and directing what should happen next!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


On February 11, 2015, actress Victoria Rowell announced that she was suing her former employer, The Young & the Restless, and its parent company, Sony. Rowell contends that the show won’t rehire her to play the role of Drucilla, a part that Rowell vacated in 2007, due to Rowell’s outspoken activism regarding Y&R’s dearth of African-American actors, writers and directors. The suit also alleges that Rowell faced racial discrimination during her 14 years of starring on the soap, and that she was never offered the opportunity to either write or direct the program. Rowell is seeking back pay, and a return to playing Dru.

CBS and Sony have denied all charges, insisted that the lawsuit has no merit, and that Rowell is attempting to “rewrite history.”

Does the actress have a case?

It would seem that the easiest charge to dispute would be Rowell’s claim that racial discrimination kept her from getting the chance to write or direct her show.

True, some actors, like Days of Our Lives Alison Sweeney have directed. Pamela Long went from an actor on Texas to its Headwriter, before assuming the same position at Guiding Light and One Life to Live, among others. And Ellen Wheeler and Christopher Goutman were able to transition from actors to directors to Executive Producers of GL and As the World Turns, respectively. But that’s literally only a handful of people among the tens of thousands of actors who’ve passed through the daytime drama world. It can hardly be considered a common opportunity offered to all, save Rowell.

When I interviewed her for my book, “Soap Opera 451: A TimeCapsule of Daytime Drama’s Greatest Moments,” Rowell asserted, “You don’t stay in a storyline if you’re not selling a story, and if you’re not selling the story, you don’t stay employed.  At the end of the day, this is about keeping a show on the air, and a show that’s selling soap.  You’re selling products.  I understood the business dynamics.”

This is presumably why Rowell’s lawsuit also charges that, by refusing her entreaties to reprise Dru, CBS and Sony are undermining their own financial interests for purely personal reasons. Rowell believes that she is a fan favorite whose return will help raise Y&R’s ratings.

Rowell, however, is not the first actor in daytime history to be fired (or, in her case, not be rehired) despite vocal fan support and to the show’s apparent detriment.

To get the inside story on examples from DOOL, GH, ATWT and more, go to:

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


My Figure Skating Mystery series of five books, Murder on Ice, On Thin Ice, Axel of Evil, Death Drop, and Skate Crime, were released as paperback originals between 2003 and 2007. When it came time to re-release them as ebooks, I decided to knock it up a notch and turn all five into enhanced ebooks.

I secured a deal with the Ice Theatre of NY, who gave me access to their entire video library, meaning that I no longer had to just describe my characters skating. I could actually show it in footage right alongside the text.

Of course, since the books were written first, I had to find skaters whose looks matched what I'd already established. I knew one particular character would be the most challanging to match.

Antonia "Toni" Wright initially appears as a supporting character in On Thin Ice, and becomes a major one in Skate Crime. I based Toni on the legendary Mabel Fairbanks, ice show star, noted coach, and one of the first African-Americans in figure skating. (Read more about Mabel, here.)

Unfortunately, there aren't that many more African-Americans in figure skating today. And, to make "casting" her even more difficult, I'd written that Mabel once performed with a white pairs partner.  Quick, name an elite pairs team featuring a black woman and a white man. Yup. Exactly.

But, I got lucky. As it happened, Ice Theatre had a number, Once Again, starring Tyrell Gene and Alyssa Stith that fit the bill perfectly. Watch it below.

Tragically, Stith committed suicide this past November, at the age of 40.

Ice Theatre will be honoring her memory, as well as Black History Month, this Wednesday, February 25 at 1 pm as part of their 2015 Skate Concert Series at Rockefeller Center in NYC.

The performance is FREE and open to the public. More information at:

To win a FREE copy of Murder on Ice as well as Elizabeth Harmon's skating romance, Pairing Off, click here.

Monday, February 23, 2015


Regular readers of this blog know that I was born in the former USSR, my first language is Russian, and that, in addition to soaps and romance novels, I spent several years working as a researcher, writer and producer for figure skating broadcasts on ABC, TNT, ESPN and NBC (which provided me with plenty of material for my Figure Skating Mystery series). That's why, when I heard about author Elizabeth Harmon's new book series, Red Hot Russians, and it's kick-off novel, Pairing Off, out this month from Carina Press, I knew I had to get her on the blog to talk about it.

Elizabeth graciously agreed and, not only that, she also offered to give away a FREE copy of her book, in either mobi or epub format, to one lucky reader. Not to be outdone (hey, it's my blog, after all!), I decided to sweeten the pot by throwing the first book in my Figure Skating Mystery series, Murder on Ice, into the rin(k), as well. So how can you win this double twist (see what I did there?) of Love, Death & Figure Skating? Couldn't be easier. Just send me an email to with "Win Skating Books" in the header, and you'll be entered into our drawing. Winner will be notified by email on Friday, March 13, 2015 (could be your lucky day!).

In the meantime, please enjoy this guest post from Elizabeth Harmon, below!

Romance on Ice
By Elizabeth Harmon

A book I started to write but never finished, inspired me to write the book that made me a published author.

I love sports movies and romance novels, and a few years back, decided to write a romance with an ex-baseball player hero.  Though that book remains unfinished, I knew if I tried another sports romance, the heroine would be an athlete, competing in one of my favorite sports, figure skating.

I had no idea what would happen to my figure skater heroine until I read about an American basketball player’s decision to compete for Russia in the Summer Olympics.

The controversy surprised me. Athletes competing for other countries isn’t new. This player had established a pro career in Russia, and come on, isn’t the Cold War supposed to be over?  But the negative reaction got me thinking, and served as the seed for my story. Because I write romance, there had to be a gorgeous man involved.  A coach? The guy she left behind...or another skater?  Throw in my love for “The Cutting Edge”... and voila! “Pairing Off” was born.

Though I skated casually as a kid, and take lessons as an adult, I felt unprepared to write convincing figure skater characters, so I did a lot of reading and lurking. My reading list included Christine Brennan’s “Edge of Glory” and “Inside Edge,” as well as Joy Goodwin’s “The Second Mark,” which offered amazing insights into pair skating. The knowledgeable posters on two popular skating fan sites, Figure Skating Universe and Golden Skate, offered a wealth of information as well.

I also turned to some gracious people in the skating community.  Several skaters and coaches from my rink were enthusiastic sources and beta readers.  Carrie’s skating passages were reviewed by 2014 U.S. Adult National Ladies Championship Level 4 gold medalist Cindy Clay Crouse.  Rockne Brubaker, 2012 U.S. Pairs silver medalist, reviewed Anton’s and a number of other passages too.

Even with such great information and expert help, there are still some areas where I took a bit of creative license. In real life, it’s doubtful Carrie’s release to skate for Russia would have come so easily, but to avoid the book becoming a saga of red tape, I resolved it early and quickly. Because IJS can be difficult to understand, I avoided delving into it in great detail, limiting it to reflections on what judges would or would not like in terms of presentation.

Writing "Pairing Off" taught me so much as a writer, skater and fan, and I look forward to adding even more detail and dimension into my next visit to the skating world (men’s singles this time) in “Getting It Back” an upcoming installment in my Red Hot Russians series.

For now, Happy Reading.


“Speaking of Lake Placid…we ought to consider a new costume designer. That yellow thing you wore at Cup of China?” Carrie grimaced.

Anton looked up and grinned. “Is that why you didn’t want anything to do with me that night? Because of my ugly outfit?”

“It’s hard to take a man seriously when he’s dressed like a giant flower.”

He glared in mock offense. “I was not flower. We were birds.”

“Well that makes all the difference, doesn’t it? Anyway, the guy Cody and I used did nice classic looks. No feathers. No sequins. I could see you in something dark and simple, maybe open in the front. Definitely short-sleeved to show off your…” Her eyes feasted on his gorgeous upper arms. What the man did to a faded T-shirt ought to be against the law. He grinned as he caught her looking. Again. Her face burned and she gave a guilty smile. “…hard work.”

Anton shook his head. “For competition, no short sleeve, no low cut. I would have to get waxed. I hate wax.” He pouted like a little kid about to get a booster shot. “It hurts.”

“You’re such a baby! I can’t believe you’re afraid of a little manscaping.”

“Do you like it?”

Well. Obviously she wasn’t the only one who’d been checking out their partner that day in the pool. Then again, he’d been involved with a skater for years. It wasn’t like he’d never seen a Brazilian before. Her cheeks flushed again. “Only in pair skating would I have a conversation like this with a straight guy I hardly know.”

“What do you mean, hardly know? You know about my family, where I grew up, what music I like, what sports I like, what I studied at university. And now you know how I feel about man-wax.”

“Fine, you win. No man-wax.”

He leaned back, his arms crossed, regarding her with narrowed eyes. “Seems I’m the one who hardly knows you. Every time I ask something, you turn around and ask me instead. Why do you do that? Why do you want to be so much a mystery?”

She rested her chin on her hand and smiled across the table. “What difference does it make?”

He started to answer, then stopped. Shaking his head, he laughed. “God, you are aggravating!”

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Thursday, February 19, 2015


Exactly a year ago, when I was interviewed about figure skating and the Sochi Olympics, the subsequent articles had so many factual mistakes in them that I made a game out of it and offered readers a free Figure Skating Mystery for every error they found.

Then, last month, a NY Post about my husband's and my NYC meet-cute got our ages and other details wrong. (Read it here.)

Now, on, I'm quoted in a post called Real Brides Talk: The Moment I Knew He Was the One:

Other men were lame in comparison.
Alina Adams knew she liked her boyfriend but wasn't sure if the relationship had legs until the pair double dated. The New York writer recalls, "That night I found myself watching my friend's boyfriend and thinking how annoying and lame he was, and how everyone I'd dated in the past was exactly like him." Then she looked at Dan and thought, "He is so, so much better." Sixteen years and three children later that is still how she feels!

What's true in the above paragraph? Well, the fact that, according to my husband, I am probably the most unromantic person ever - especially for a romance writer. And that I do still feel that way about my husband to this day.

What is not true in the above paragraph?

Who is Dan? I am not married to someone named Dan. There is no one named Dan in the above story. (Not even my friend's now ex-boyfriend.) And this was not a phone or in-person interview where the writer could have misheard. This interview was conducted via email. Where the heck did this "Dan" come from?

Now do you see why I never, ever, ever believe anything that is written about me - or anyone else - in the press? And why I stick to writing fiction, myself?

So now that you know how unromantic I am in real life, check out my romance novels. I promise, they are nothing at all like me. (Though, to be fair, in the book I am currently writing live online at, I did just author a marriage proposal that's a bit on the... unusual side. Let me know what you think at the link!)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Days of Our Lives’ Hope isn’t the first character in history to come face to face (to axe to knife) with the pitfalls of falling in love with a mysterious, grieving widower.

Back in 1847, Jane Eyre taught aspiring young governesses to always check the attic, in case your beloved’s insane “dead” first wife just might be living there. And in 1938, Rebecca added to the cannon the reminder that when your aloof, aristocratic new husband looks like he is desperately missing his first wife, it could very well be that his, rather, feeling guilty over killing her. (This revelation brings great joy to the narrator, who clearly hasn’t taken a moment to ponder what might happen to her should she displease the man in similar fashion.)

But lets assume Hope never read either novel. In the early 1980s, she went from 10 year old to high-schooler in the space of a few months, so obviously key English literature classes were skipped.

That’s probably how she found herself in her current predicament. Is dreamy Aiden:

·    A sad, single dad whose wife tragically died?
·    A sad, single dad being framed for his wife’s murder?
·    An evil, single dad who killed his wife?
·    An evil, single dad who killed his wife and now wants to do the same to Hope?

Days of Our Lives is promising answers this week, but it’s a soap so, you know, don’t write anything down in stone.

But even if Hope hadn’t read Jane Eyre and Rebecca, what about Gone Girl? And if books aren’t her thing, couldn’t she have at least bought a clue from the following soap-opera stories?

What other shows went down the moody widower with the mysteriously dead wife road - and how did it end for our intrepid heroine? Find out at Entertainment Weekly with examples from All My Children, Guiding Light and more:

Thursday, February 12, 2015


ABC’s new comedy “Fresh Off the Boat” premiered last week, with two new episodes airing tonight. My family and I have been looking forward to its debut since the fall, when the trailer made my 15-year-old laugh so hard, he literally fell to the floor, clutching his stomach. (In comparison, “Black-ish” made him muse, “Maybe the actual show will be funnier.”)

Neither my oldest son nor I are Asian. In fact, the closest thing either of us gets to Asian is that we both attend(ed) selective public high schools for the “gifted”; me in San Francisco, him inNew York City, where the majority of the student bodies are Asian.

But race wasn’t the commonality either he or I found with “Fresh Off the Boat.” It was, rather, the American immigrant experience, which I know of first-hand, having moved from the Soviet Union with my parents when I was 7, and which my son gets to enjoy second-hand, due to his good fortune in having been born my child.

Eddie, the lead character and narrator of “Fresh of the Boat” (the series is based on chef Eddie Huang’s bestselling memoir), is the American-born son of Taiwanese parents, living in Florida in the 1990s, who just wants to fit in at his new school. And, oh yeah, he also worships black rappers, and African American culture, in general.

To Eddie, fitting in means brings Lunchables to school, not the Chinese food his mother packs him. “I want white people food,” he insists.

I may not have expressed myself in exactly the same terms, but I do remember informing my mother that it seems American children do not eat beef tongue sandwiches, red caviar with thick butter spread on black bread, or kholodets, meat frozen in its own aspic jelly. So, could we, uhm… change up that menu a bit?

Read more at: