The Plate Spinner
Barbara Valentin

What working parent hasn't considered delivering a performance review to their child prior to granting a salary, er..., allowance increase?

The Plate Spinner Chronicles: A Working Mother's Epic Adventure is a hybrid memoir/how-to guide that is stuffed with multi-tasking advice and relevant, but nostalgic anecdotes, all written in the wry tone of a harried working mother who'd rather laugh than cry over the length of her to-do list.

This book is a compilation of the Plate Spinner columns which originally ran in the Chicago Tribune.


After a long day of slaving over a hot laptop, I had no sooner collapsed on the couch when one of my sons stood in front of me, holding a pair of his Boy Scout uniform pants.

I looked up at him. "No thanks. Olive green isn't a good color for me."

Without missing a beat, he informed me that they were too short for him. "And we have to leave in ten minutes."

When I didn't respond, he shook them at me. "Please?"

I looked over my head to see how I could've missed the large flashing sign that read Seamstress - Needs Work.

"Mom, just adjust the pins so they're longer." With that, he dumped them on my lap and I tried to figure out what he meant by the strange 'pin' reference. On closer inspection, the memory came flooding back. It was a similar night, three years earlier, when a shorter version of this same son pulled on a pair of new, un-hemmed pants and, in the interest of time, I pulled out a box of safety pins and adjusted the length.

That I completely neglected to go back and properly hem them came as no surprise to my husband. He learned early on in our marriage that if he wanted a button sewn on any of his clothing, he would have to do it himself. After years of walking around with bandaged fingertips, he finally gave in and enlisted the services of our dry cleaner.

Author Bio:

Barb is a freelance writer, over-scheduled parent, and connoisseur of fine chocolate. A second-generation journalist, her work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune and its affiliates. The exploits of her five boys provided fodder for her column, The Plate Spinner Chronicles, a long running feature in the Chicago Tribune, which snagged her a runner-up spot in the Erma Bombeck Humor Contest. A member of RWA's Windy City Chapter, she still dreams of the day when her to-do list includes "Send NY Times book critic thank you note" and "Accept Godiva's request to be a taste-tester".


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 Available August 4
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Time for a little 'Throwback Thursday' and take you back to 1988....

First, as a Canadian, we were pretty pumped about the Winter Olympics being held in Calgary. Our own Elizabeth Manning - Canada's Sweetheart - took silver, and who could forget the Iran-Contra affair. I remember watching Ollie North standing tall, giving his testimony and members of the panel not hiding their contempt of him. Who had the last laugh there? And who can forget the crash of the new Airbus doing a demonstration flight in France. Thank goodness they worked the bugs out of that one, because my own little Top Gun flies the Airbus, and I kind of like him in one piece, thank you very much.

But, my best memory is of my cousin's wedding. She got married on Saltspring Island, B.C., a quaint, pretty place. She had the photographer take a portrait of everyone who attended. Below is the Barr family, circa 1988. Those two little boys are all grown, with children of their own - but they'll always be 'my boys'.


How many of us struggle with the show, not tell aspect of writing? I think we're all guilty of that and have to scour the pages to make sure we don't bore our poor readers to tears.

Lately, I read some pages from a friend's WIP (which is quite action-packed) and finally realized why I felt so detached from her writing. It was like I was in a helicopter, hovering over the scene. Great action, but what I really wanted was to be in the scene - not above it.

How many of us watched O.J. and his buddy ride the freeway at a snail's pace? Did any of you wonder what the heck they were talking about as a string of police vehicles plodded along behind them? THAT'S what my friend needs to do. THAT'S what we all need to do.

As a writer, we need to climb into the back seat with a tape recorder and then transcribe all that good stuff onto the page. Get inside your character's heads. Smell the sweat as O.J. realizes he's neck deep in doo doo. Hear the pain in his voice as he talks to Detective Tom Lange. Remember, at that this moment in time he was distraught and didn't know he wouldn't go to prison - for now.

It's our duty to drag the reader into the scene, wring them out and have them blow out a soft puff of air when they're done. If they have to set the book down for a few seconds to catch their breath and compose themselves - we've done our job.

I know a writer has been successful when I laugh out loud, wipe away a tear and heave a sigh when the H/h declare their love. We all have favorite authors who bring out these reactions. Mine is Kristan Higgins. Jill Shalvis runs a close second.

In no way do I mean to infer that O.J. is guilty of murdering Nicole Brown-Simpson or Ron Goldman (although it is my deeply held belief he did). I used this iconic moment in history as a reference to give writers a strong visual.


This week I'm sharing from my current WIP, Man of Her Dreams, book one of my Welcome to Ravenwood Series. The series is about a small town west of Chicago filled with feisty heroines and the men who fall in love with them.

He walked her back against the wall, tangled their fingers together and stretched both their hands over her head, leaning in until the full length of his body pressed against hers. Palm to palm, chest to chest and thigh to thigh, heat seared through her body.
She broke the kiss and gasped for breath. When had her legs become noodles? If it weren’t for Jared holding her upright, she’d have slithered to the floor and laid there until her bones hardened. He shifted slightly, released their hands and brought her wrists together. She shivered and bit her lip when he lightly trailed a finger down her arm.
She moaned with an unfamiliar need, every nerve ending in her body anticipating his touch. His hand continued its lazy exploration until it snaked around her waist. She arched closer and muttered something like ‘yes, please, but wasn’t sure. Against her skin, just below her ear, she felt him smile and whimpered when he gently suckled, pulling the tender flesh into his mouth.

Thanks for reading. Make sure you check out all my fellow Weekend Writing Warriors.

Review ~ 4.5 Stars!


In Shelby’s line of work, elements of danger, secrecy, and deceit are to be expected. Spying on cheating spouses and apprehending bail jumpers is what pay the bills for this small-time private investigator. However, when her own cheating ex comes barreling back into town on the back of a Harley, danger, secrecy, and deceit become part of her personal life instead of just her professional one. It isn’t long before complications between the case she’s currently working on and her confused emotions for Tank converge, leaving Shelby’s heart, mind, and body at war.
From the moment he met her, he knew she was the one, but his profession had him doing something he never thought he would do. But now, Tank is ready to start-over with Shelby and right the wrongs that broke them up in the first place. He vowed to never lose her again, but this time he may not have a choice.
Fast paced with great emotional quality, this story keeps you on the edge of your seat with lots of plot twists and scorching love scenes. Shelby and Tank’s physical chemistry is off the charts sizzling and undeniable from the moment they touch, but they are also each other’s own personal brand of kryptonite.
I really appreciated that both Shelby and Tank’s perspectives are given and nothing too revealing was allowed until it became necessary as part of the plotline.
Reviewed by Dahlia