The Writers' Loop

For Readers and Writers


The 1980 U.S. “Miracle on Ice” Hockey Team Reunites in Lake Placid

By Peggy Morehouse

Author Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” That may be why thousands of people poured into The Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid on February 21 for the 35th Anniversary Celebration of the U.S.A. Hockey Team’s victory over the Soviet Union during the 1980 Olympics. I have a hunch that the attendees not only wanted to thank the players for a historic game that continues to inspire, but hoped to re-ignite the triumphant feeling they experienced so many years ago. All nineteen living members of the team returned for the event and were greeted like rock stars. Take a look:


As they were introduced, I recalled my first encounter with these men. I was as a senior at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh majoring in Communications/Journalism and was excited about the Olympic games that were being held thirty miles away. The college closed to give its students an opportunity to work at the event. I applied for a job and received my assignment, a volunteer at the Olympic press office. My first official position as a writer. I was thrilled, convinced that I’d be networking with reporters from the New York Times and ABC. That my career would be launched. Yes, I do tend to dream large. Pop! The dream busted. I spent my first few days on the job sitting on the sidelines in a huge room with typewriters (no computers back then) waiting for a reporter in the near empty room to request something like a ham sandwich or a cup of coffee. I didn’t even get a request for a pencil. Disappointed and bored, I signed out and didn’t return. I wouldn’t be missed. There were several other unoccupied gophers mulling around and I had a pass allowing me access to outside events that needed to be used.

All was not lost. After all, the Olympics were in town. I went to outdoor competitions and strolled around the village with friends until the last bus of the night drove us back to campus. On February 22 I was in a pub with an apathetic crowd preparing to watch the U.S. Hockey Team get creamed by the Soviet Union. Not a single sports column or commentator predicted a win against the powerhouse from Russia. At best, they’d have a respectful loss. However, the young skaters from various colleges around America had a different plan. It didn’t take long for spectators in the packed bar to forget about their beer and cheer for the little team that could. They were on fire. No spoilers here. We all know what happened. The U.S. Team shocked the world and won, 4-to-3. With that victory, they created a treasured story. That the combination of preparation, conviction, camaraderie, courage, and faith is a winning formula. That if you believe in yourself it might just result in a miracle. They showed a young writer that she shouldn’t give up because her first assignment was a dud; to keep dreaming big.

Team USA celebrates "the Miracle on Ice"

The U.S. Hockey Team celebrate after their Olympic victory over The Soviet Union in 1980.

That’s the main reason I returned in 2015. I wanted to hear the story again from the authors themselves, and I did. They were interviewed on stage by Todd Walsh of FOX Sports Arizona. They joked around and laughed. They reminisced and reflected. They revealed how they felt in the midst of that momentous game.


The Miracle on Ice Hockey Team in 2015

Mark Pavelich was asked what he was thinking when he shot the puck to Team Captain, Mike Eruzione who made the winning goal. Pavelich stood and in jest indicated that the shot could’ve been his, but he decided to give the glory to his teammate. Eruzione was ready with a comeback and the audience was clearly amused by their banter. Goaltender, Jim Craig, was asked what it was like to keep the puck out of his net for the last ten minutes of the game. He graciously said that his account had been recorded on several occasions and passed the microphone down the line to some of the less celebrated team members.


Mark Pavelich gives his perspective about the winning goal.


Mike Eruzione tells his version of how the puck landed in the net.

The obviously close-knit group watched the big win, re-cast on large screens, along with those in attendance. When the final buzzard sounded, the crowd rose and applauded while chanting those infamous three letters, “U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A.” The team looked at the full house with awe and gratitude. Mike Eruzione expressed how amazed he was that so many people came out to re-live the Miracle on Ice and was overwhelmed by the response.

Two members of the team were missing. Bob Suter who passed away in 2014 and Coach Herb Brooks who was killed in a car accident in 2003. They were both recognized with heartfelt words throughout the evening. Suter’s jersey was raised while the Star Spangled Banner was played.


Coach Herb Brooks declared to the team in the locker room before the historic game, “You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here. This is your time. Now get out there and take it.” He will be permanently remembered now that the Lake Placid ice arena is named in his honor.


The evening ended with picture-taking opportunities and autographs.


As I left the arena I thought about a word that was mentioned several times during the presentation. Like most great statements it was simple, to the point, and powerful. It was the word Herb Brooks shouted at his team during an evening drill when he wasn’t pleased with their game performance, “Again.” He shouted it long past the players moment of fatigue, long past their breaking point. He shouted it until they got it right. I took that word home with me and will use it when I’m on the 25th draft of a novel, when I have to revise yet another query letter to a literary agent, when I want to walk away from opportunity just because it hasn’t shown up yet. Herb Brooks proved it. Dreams aren’t realized with the word, “Almost.” Dreams are realized with the word, “Again.”

The “Again” scene from the movie, Miracle on Ice with Kurt Russell as Herb Brooks. What do you think?


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Catch a Falling Star?


essier 107 ~  NASA

Messier 107 ~ NASA

It was February 7th, the day stars tumbled from the sky and graced those who would take notice. A low pressure system was sweeping from the Ohio Valley to southern New England, washing the sky in dusky gray hues. Hesitant  flurries were ushering in bands of snow, heralding yet another blizzard.  But before Winter Storm Marcus could dump its heavy swath of snow across Connecticut, an extraordinary discovery took place. Sheer crystalline gems alighted on coats, hats, gloves, hair, —  whatever concluded their airy descent; ephemeral favors bestowed on the  mindful and fortunate few.

That was the day my son boarded a plane at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.  We were all thanking our lucky stars that his flight took off before the next in the long chain of snowstorms hit the Northeast.  My son might have missed his flight if he had paused any longer for the magical moments of star-shaped snowflakes sprinkling all about him. He had just time enough to witness the “starflakes” and snap a photo before they disappeared.

star snow flake

Star snowflakes caught on my son’s suitcase.

“What about the notion that no two snowflakes are identical?  Falling stars?”  My son and I considered the curious phenomenon while viewing his star-studded photo; each of us on opposite ends of the North-South compass.

As it turned out, there were many “starflake” sightings in the Northeast during the recent winter storms.  The Weather Channel reported: “As Winter Storm Juno bears down on the East Coast, reports are surfacing of star-shaped snowflakes. At around 2 p.m. ET, spotted the unique snowflakes in midtown Manhattan. While it looks like magic, there is a scientific explanation behind the phenomenon. ‘If snowflakes stay separated from each other…and if you look closely enough, you can sometimes see the structure of snowflakes with your naked eye,’ meteorologist Chris Dolce says. ‘There are many different types of crystal patterns and these star-shaped snowflakes are just one example. The dendrite, a star-shape with varying patterns, is the most common shape of a snowflake.’”

By atsperaInstagram

By atsperaInstagram

Kathrine Brooks of The Huffington Post (at: ) reported:

 “The complex ice crystals are part of a natural art-making process that you might have learned about in your grade school science class. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a snowflake begins to form when exceedingly cold water droplets freeze onto certain particles in the sky, like pollen or dust. The meeting of water and particle creates an ice crystal, and as that crystal falls to the ground, water vapor freezes onto it to produce new crystals –essentially, the six points of the snowflake that make that stunning star shape…Winter Storm Juno descended upon the East Coast this week, bringing with it a mélange of wind gusts, icy temperatures and admirably geometric snowflake masterpieces…Residents of cities like Manhattan reported seeing a mix of star-shaped flakes falling upon them, posting impressive shots of the unique configurations across the Internet…”

Brooks invited readers to get a close-up view of snowflakes by macrophotographer Alexey Kljatov  at


By Alexey Kljatob

So, why all this snowflake talk on The Writers’ Loop?  What does it have to do with reading and writing?  But then, what isn’t reading or writing?

For reading: Throughout and at the end of this post you’ll find several links for more information about star snowflakes, as well as some fun and interesting weather-related information links for adults and children.

For writing:  I don’t think we need to be world travelers, great history buffs, or geniuses in order to write creatively.  Of course that would help.  We take the mundane, ordinary, everyday happenings and look at them from all sides.  Consider the ideas that can come from people watching, overhearing bits of conversations, news articles, obituaries, art, music, friends, nature, children, history, travel, sporting events, or even politics (oh dear). Find some facet that appeals, begs for commentary, or deserves elaboration, and jot down those thoughts.  As a case in (six-) point, star-shaped snowflakes inspire me.  I envision magical, miniature glistening stars streaming from the clouds or trailing a meteorite as it races across the universe…

By STARtorialist  twitter

By STARtorialist on twitter

Author Neil Gaiman says, “You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.”  You can check out his response to “Where do you get your ideas?” at:

I’d like to add advice to Gaiman’s comment.  When you notice that you’re getting ideas, jot them down on the nearest piece of paper before you forget them.

Thoreau on snowflakes

For more information: 

  • Terms used by meteorologists, forecasters, weather observers, and in weather forecasts:

For children (Not just for kids, I’ve learned a lot from these sites.):

Tycho's Supernova, left, and Nebula S175, right, in the Constellation Cassiopeia Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

Tycho’s Supernova, left, and Nebula S175, right, in the Constellation Cassiopeia
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

  • To read about Tycho’s Supernova, visit:

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Author Robin Antalek Discusses Her Second Novel, The Grown Ups, and Her Writing Journey

By Peggy Morehouse

I’ve become a different kind of reader since I began writing fiction several years ago. It’s not only that I pay more attention to the traits of a fascinating character or the elements of a riveting plot. When I find myself lost in a book, I hold it with admiration. I understand what the author went through to take an idea to a published novel that has the power to sweep me away. Many readers attribute that ability to special talent. A gift that propels a writer to pick up a pen and a notebook and scribe a story that will keep the pages turning into the wee hours of the morning. But it’s so much more than that. It involves hard work and persistence. John Irving, author of The World According to Garp, Cider House Rules, and so many other greats says,

“More than a half, maybe as much as two-thirds of my life as a writer is rewriting. I wouldn’t say I have a talent that’s special. It strikes me that I have an unusual kind of stamina.”

That’s why, when a book is born it’s cause for celebration. In fact, the next time you’re in a bookstore, take a look around. Each creation had a unique, often strenuous, journey to its spot on the shelf. A new book was added to the literary world on January 27, 2015. Author Robin Antalek released her second novel, The Grown Ups, through William Morrow and introduced it at Northshire Bookstore, Saratoga Springs, NY. Susanne of The Writers Loop was at this special event while I was stuck in traffic on the Adirondack Northway. :o(


The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek

It was welcomed with wonderful reviews including this excerpt from Library Journal, “…an engaging ensemble piece with revealing insights about friendships.” Spanning over a decade, told in alternating voices, The Grown Ups explores the indelible bonds between friends and family and the challenges that threaten to divide them.


Robin talks with fans at her book launch, Northshire Bookstore, Saratoga Springs, NY.

Robin was kind enough to answer a few questions about The Grown-Ups as well as her writing journey. Her engaging and informative interview follows:

  1. Where did you get your idea for The Grown Ups?

Robin: Before I started writing what would become The Grown Ups, I had just shelved a project I had been working on for two years. My agent told me to take some time and think about what I really wanted to write – but I was still in that feeling sorry for myself stage even though it was my choice not to continue on with the manuscript. One day, I found myself at my local library’s used bookshop, sitting on the floor surrounded by a pile of potential purchases. I was also half-listening to the conversation between the two elderly volunteers, (in my defense it’s a really small space) when one of the women said to the other ‘It was the summer all the children in the neighborhood caught a virus.’ That single sentence captivated me so much I wrote it down inside the cover of one of the books I was going to buy. I thought about it forever until I had a neighborhood, a group of children, a family going through a very public meltdown, a box of provocative photographs and a first kiss between friends. That sentence became the first sentence of The Grown Ups.

2. How long did it take you to write The Grown Ups? What inspired you to begin this novel and take it to completion?

Robin: The first draft was very fast – three months. The editing took about a year. Once I started creating this world there was really no stopping. Originally, I wrote in first person POV from Sam, but then my editor at William Morrow asked me to try writing a few chapters from Suzie and Bella’s points of view. Once I did that the story opened up with the multiple view points, bringing more questions that needed to be answered, and some that couldn’t. But that’s the joy of editing.

3. Tell us about when you first decided that writing was a vocation you wanted to pursue.

Robin: I’ve always been a reader. Writing was the natural evolution. I’ve been doing this in one form or another for as long as I can remember. Some jobs are more lucrative than others. But I took anything I could when I was starting. I wrote ad copy, press releases, and once worked for a business news network writing 30-second business briefs. I wrote for pennies per word or free for experience and a byline. Writing is all I’ve ever wanted to do.

4. What frustrations did you encounter on your novel writing journey? How did you move past them?

Robin: I think that the most frustrating part of writing is that sometimes, despite a massive effort, you have to admit that a novel is not working. That’s where I was right before The Grown Ups. The thing to remember is that any writing, whether it becomes a novel or not, is writing. You are honing your craft, you are working the muscle, and that experience allows you to learn what works and what doesn’t by showing up to do your job. That’s half the battle of writing.

5. The road to finding a traditional publisher isn’t easy. What method did you use to make that happen?

Robin: For years I wrote short stories. I also read the literary journals, making lists of my favorites, the maybe not so attainable, and the second tier, the maybe more attainable. I submitted to both. Eventually I moved from generic rejections to more personalized rejections. I took the names on the rejection slips and began submitting directly to them. At the same time I read everything I could get my hands on – and when a book was similar to the kinds of things I wrote, I would read the acknowledgements carefully, for a mention of an agent, (writers always thank their agents) and from that I began to make a list of agents I would query. When I finished my first novel I began querying those agents. This takes a long time. Yes. But chances are if you have only written one short story and think you’re ready for an agent, you’re not. Again, you really have to do the work. There aren’t any short cuts. As a writer you should arm yourself with as much information as possible. Know the market, know the trends, attend readings, buy the book if you can, and be a good member of the literary community. Write what interests you. I have written four novels and published two. The first novel ended up getting me an agent, but the book deal fell apart. The second novel was my first published, The Summer We Fell Apart. During the third novel I parted ways with my agent, acquired a new agent and realized that I didn’t want to continue with that novel. My fourth novel is my second published, The Grown Ups. It’s a journey. You have to be able to be in it in for the long haul. That means you love the writing, you live for the writing, you do the work.

6. Can you tell us about a little about what’s involved with a book launch?

Robin: A book launch is all about the lead-up to publication and then a reading/party that usually happens soon after your on-sale date. My on-sale date is January 27th and the launch is January 29th at Northshire Bookstore. It’s that first debut into the world – and a ton of pre-publication stuff is involved. Mostly interviews, (radio, newspaper, TV) Q & A’s and whatever press opportunities come my way set up by my PR and Marketing team at Harper Collins. It’s a really exciting time this lead up to publication – and you get to talk about the book a lot. This isn’t really a writing time for me – my only writing now is really answering interview questions, writing blog posts etc., and doing all I can to get The Grown Ups out in to the world.


Robin signs copies of her new novel, The Grown Ups, at Northshire Bookstore on January 29.

7. Do you have any word of wisdom for people considering writing a novel or a memoir?

Robin: You have to write. You have to sit in the chair and do the work. And when you start writing you cannot edit yourself. You have to write until you are uncomfortable. That’s where the honesty comes in. Don’t worry about your parents, your friends, or an anonymous reader. If you want to be a writer then write. It’s that simple.


Robin Antalek, author of two novels, The Summer We Fell Apart and The Grown-Ups


ROBIN ANTALEK is the author of The Summer We Fell Apart (HarperCollins 2010) chosen as a Target Breakout Book and The Grown Ups (William Morrow 2015). Her non-fiction work has been published at The Weeklings, The Nervous Breakdown and collected in the following anthologies, The Beautiful Anthology; Writing off Script: Writers on the Influence of Cinema; and The Weeklings: Revolution #1 Selected Essays 2012-1013. Her short fiction has appeared in Salon, 52 Stories, Five Chapters, Sun Dog, The Southeast Review and Literary Mama among others. She has twice been a finalist in Glimmertrain Magazine, as well as a finalist for The Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction. She lives in Saratoga Springs, New York.
You can visit her site @,

Thank you Robin and congratulations on your success!



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Lose Your Muse?


Did you ever lose your muse?  Get caught without a thought?august 30 039

Some folks contend that writer’s block is just a myth. They believe that it’s just an excuse for doing something else, like watching the Super Bowl.  Others consider writer’s block a form of laziness, and offer a reproachful “Get over it.”

I don’t think it’s a myth because two weeks ago I looked it in the eye when it raised its ugly head.  Believe me, I mean ugly.  I was completing the latest revision of my manuscript, working nonstop to meet a self-imposed deadline.  I was so close. It was going along beautifully and then the Earth caved in under my feet.  The laptop beckoned, my characters cried for help, and the deadline loomed. But the spirit was not willing and the flesh was indeed weak.  Maybe I had pushed too hard and didn’t take enough breaks, but approaching the manuscript incited all the dread of a root canal.  There really should be a 911 extension for writing emergencies.

Whatever my problem was–writer’s block, prose woes, wits on the fritz, motivation vacation–it passed in a couple of days.  The cure?  Probably taking my nose off the grindstone and giving it a rest.  During that time, my characters continued their chatter in my head, giving me new ideas and insights. I scribbled on the backs of receipts, napkins, unopened mail, anything paper-ish, whenever caught without my trusty notebook.  My unscheduled break proved to be restorative and productive, although I usually don’t suggest disrupting writing routines.

Myth or not, there’s a plethora of writer’s block websites, books, suggestions, cures, software, and yes, there’s an app for that.  There are online plot and story line idea generators to help “break the block,” complete with help for settings, characters, dramatic entrances, dialogue, endings, and even for killing characters.  A Googgle search will lead you to interactive writing games to get your creative juices flowing, and various interactive text generators to provide poems, character names, titles, and even Shakespearean sonnets.


The Center for Writing Studies at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign offers a treasure trove of writing resources, including some valuable writer’s block strategies such as:

Taking notes: Jot down ideas and phrases as they occur to you. Free yourself from paragraphs and sentences for the moment… before you forget them.


Piecework: Sometimes, starting at the beginning induces Perfect Draft Syndrome. It may be easier to get started if you approach the task sideways. If you’ve got a plan for the article or manual, choose a section from the middle or a point you know well and start there. Then do another section.

What I Really Mean Is (WIRMI): When you’re stuck in a quagmire trying to find the perfect phrase, switch to What I Really Mean Is and just say it the way you think it. Once you know what you mean, it is easier to refine the phrasing.

Satisficing (satisfy + suffice): You “satisfice” when you take the first reasonable solution instead of searching endlessly for just the right word or sentence. If you’re unhappy with the choice, you can bracket it and promise yourself you’ll fix it later.

Find the complete strategies for overcoming writer’s block and other writing tips at:

writers block

Carrie Visintainer of the Huffington Post offers “10 Simple Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block.”

“…try a writing exercise…take the pressure off…set realistic expectations…change location…stop when the going’s good…commit to Internet-free time…switch to another project… take a break…”

 You can read her article based on these and more suggestions at:



If you’re looking for solutions to specific writer’s block symptoms,  check out the Perdue University Writing Lab’s  at:

snoop wr blk