For more about Marianne and her work, read on:
Hi Allie. Thanks so much for sharing some space with me on your blog and letting me speak to your readers. I'm so excited about my latest book project, a YA novel called Swim Season, the story of high school swimmer Aerin Keane, the new girl on the team who challenges a longstanding school record.
I’ve been writing forever and indie-published my first novel, Blue Hydrangeas, last year. Like so many writers, I wear many hats, one of which is called “Swim Mom.” I’ve shuttled my daughter to swim meets and swim practice for years, and now follow her across state lines during her college swimming career. All those hours sitting on cold, metal bleachers waiting to watch her swim for a minute or two gave me more than a sore you-know-what: It inspired me to write this book.
My goal was to write a story about the whole high school swimming experience, to show others who may not be as familiar with the sport how much fun it is and how hard these kids work. I started it four years ago and will soon have a completed manuscript. The plan is to publish in spring 2015.
In Swim Season, Aerin is determined to leave her troubles behind as she starts her senior year in her third high school. Senior year is supposed to be fun, right? Friends. Parties. Dating. She wants to be like every other girl at Two Rivers. Except Aerin has two secrets: Her mom is not a nurse serving in Afghanistan (a twist on the truth) and she is not an average varsity swimmer (an untruth of epic proportions.) Ready to give up her dreams of a college swimming scholarship and a shot at the Olympics, Aerin decides she doesn't want to win anymore, she wants to swim for fun, it's her "therapy." But when her desire to be just "one of the girls on the team" collides with her desire to be the best this school has ever seen, Aerin sacrifices her new friendships to challenge a longstanding school record attached to a $50,000 scholarship.
Here's a sneak peek:
As soon as classes ended for the day, the team gathered on the pool deck dressed in our warm up suits, swimsuits underneath. The chatter was at a feverish pitch as the girls assembled into their tiny groups, the newbies huddling together at the end of the bench, watching as Coach and a few members of the boys’ team set up equipment for the meet. Some of the newbies looked terrified, including Charlie, who gave me a weak smile when I said hello. This was her first meet with the big girls, and she’d been talking about nothing else the last two days. She was petrified she’d make a mistake, be disqualified, or swim the wrong stroke. No matter how much Mel and I tried to convince her she had nothing to worry about she continued to bite her nails to the nubs and fear the worst.
The seniors staked out their own spot on the other end of the bench, joking amongst themselves, much more relaxed than the newbies. All of them had been on the team for several years, some as many as five. I was the only one who had never competed in this pool. I didn’t think it would be any different from any other swim meet. I leaned against the wall with Mel and Erica, waiting for Coach to come over and give us our pre-meet pep talk and plan of action. Our opponent had not yet arrived.
Coach walked over with his clipboard in hand. “Over here, girls,” he said, bringing us in close. “This is our first meet and we’re lucky it’s against the Hawks. We beat them most every time. This year they’re pretty thin. They lost their powerhouse senior, and haven’t replaced her with anyone as dynamic that we know of today. So, you can feel confident we’ll win again, but don’t feel too confident because I heard they’ve got a couple of foreign exchange students they’re keeping under wraps. We don’t know too much about them and they could surprise us. It’s happened before. They swim distance and butterfly, so Tatiana and Erica, you need to pay attention to what’s happening in the next lane, ok?”
He turned toward the newbies. “I want every one of you to take a few breaths.” He demonstrated some relaxation breathing. “And relax,” he said, smiling. “You’re all going to do fine. You’ll each swim one event, and some of you will swim two and a relay.” He looked at Charlie. “Just get in the water and do what you know how to do.”
They looked at him gratefully, an audible sigh of relief passing between them.
“Now, here’s the lineup,” Coach said. “I had to mix it up a little bit to cover all our bases.” He went through the order of events, announcing who would compete in each one. There were a few moans and a couple of groans from swimmers unhappy with their events. No one liked to race out of her comfort zone and many preferred to do what she did best. Only a few girls excelled in more than one stroke. I was not one of them. Coach had me in the 200 and the 500 freestyles, plus on the “B” team for the 200 and 400 free relays. No surprises. I figured I’d pace myself to a third or fourth place finish, maybe fifth, which would still earn points for the team. No way would I come in last. That never happened.
“Now, everybody in the pool for warm up,” Coach ordered.
We jumped into our assigned lanes and started easy laps, warming up our muscles, preparing ourselves for the impending races. I moved through the water languidly, stretching my arms and legs as far as possible, taking easy breaths on the third stroke. I shared my lane with four other swimmers and we stayed out of each other’s way. I executed smooth flip turns, not losing any speed, and glided from wall to wall. After about twenty laps, I stopped in the shallow end to catch my breath. Mel was in the next lane.
“Here they are,” she said, out of breath, her face red. I looked behind me and saw our opponents emerge from the visitors’ locker room in their red and white warm up suits. In minutes, they had stripped to their swimsuits.
“Wow,” I said. “They’re pretty big.”
“Not really,” said Mel. “The biggest ones are seniors and they didn’t do much last year, didn’t even make the finals in championships. That small one with the long, blonde hair is their best swimmer. She almost beat Tati in the 200 and 500 free last year. Other than that, no real threat.”
“If you girls are done with your warm up you can get out and head to the locker room for final instructions,” Coach said from the sidelines. I hadn’t noticed him sneak up on us.
Mel ducked under and headed for the ladder.
“You’re looking good, Aerin,” Coach said. “I hope to see something special from you today.”
I nodded. This was the first time he’d given me any praise or laid any expectations on me. I felt a tiny thrill and then a huge sense of foreboding. Part of me was proud to be recognized, but another part of me longed to remain anonymous. My intention to stay under the radar this season was still top priority. Gaining Coach’s attention threatened that, and made me a little uneasy.
“I’ll do my best,” I said.
Swim Season means so much to me - and to many of the swimmers and swim parents I've talked to - that I decided to do something different to ensure its success. I recently launched a campaign on Pubslush, a marketing platform that offers me a way to test the waters, build an audience, and provide start-up funds necessary to publish, distribute, and promote Swim Season. Please take a moment to check out my page where you can read the first chapter and watch a short video where I explain my project. Then please join my team. There are lots of great incentives, including free books. You don’t even have to get wet!
About the Author
Marianne Sciucco is not a nurse who writes but a writer who happens to be a nurse. A lover of words and books, she dreamed of becoming an author when she grew up, but became a nurse to avoid poverty. She later brought her two passions together and writes about the intricate lives of people struggling with health and family issues. Her debut novel, Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story, is a Kindle bestseller, IndieReader Approved, a BookWorks featured book, and winner of IndieReCon’s Best Indie Novel Award, 2014. A native Bostonian, she lives in New York’s Hudson Valley, and when not writing works as a campus nurse at a community college. She loves books, the beach, and craft beer, and especially enjoys the three of them together. Follow Marianne’s Adventures in Publishing on her blog, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+.
You may purchase Blue Hydrangeas at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and other online booksellers.