Worth it.

Two years of writing & rewriting before dawn. Two years of a minuscule social life. Two years of conflict: write, or get a second job? I stayed with the writing. Today, I hold the galley copy of The Twin. Break out the espresso!

Valthea’s imagination

Valthea, 16 years old, stands in front of the bay window of her and her guardian’s home in Bucharest.  When I was little, I’d wished that the fallen autumn leaves would stay bright lemon-yellow, pumpkin-orange, and apple-red. I imagined them in a cartoon, dancing a jig with the wind over snow mounds and frozen ponds, mimicking their lily pad sisters which glided across lakes in the summertime. But nature follows its destiny. Every year, the fall colors dropped and decayed. What was my natural destiny? 

“Girl Power” (3/3 in series)

ANNALIESE NOCK: Circus Girl on TV!

Born in Sarasota, Florida on March 15, 1996, Annaliese is an 8th generation circus performer. Her father is the infamous, daredevil comic, Bello Nock. Annaliese epitomizes “girl power” in her venturing out as a female daredevil! Over 11 million TV viewers watched this American beauty perform her exploding coffin act on America’s Got Talent. (Stay tuned for the date of this finalist’s next act on AGT.) Annaliese holds the Guinness World Record for the most somersaults on a Wheel of Death in one minute.

C.K.: What circus acts do you perform?

Annaliese: I perform Wheel of Death, Swaypoles, Highwire, Aerial Lyra and Net, Magic & Illusions, and Daredevil stunts of all kinds.

C.K.: When afraid, or seriously challenged, what gets you through it? What do you tell yourself?

Annaliese: When overcoming fears or challenges, I think one’s mindset is everything! My father always taught me the importance of respecting danger and challenges, but to not let it rule over you. As a firm believer in a God, who deeply cares for me, I set my mind on that and rest. I often quote scriptures to myself or in my head like, 2 Timothy 1:7, Phillippians 4:13, and Psalms 91:11.

C.K.: Behind the glamour, sparkle, and your fabulous red lipstick—LOL—what have you had to push past to be where you are today? 

Annaliese: Although I come from a long line of performing daredevil/acrobats, I have never fit the mold. Whether it was because of my figure, or the fact that I’m a girl, and “girls just don’t do those types of acts”, I’ve to push through bias. Everyday. I’ve had to prove to myself and others—greatness come in all shapes, sizes, and genders.

C.K.: How does life differ for a circus performer regarding social life, romance and family and children?

Annaliese: “Circus life” is like no other. It is the most intimate, yet distant life style. To me, it’s a mystery. How can this circus world be so tight knit, yet always unfamiliar and on-the-go? That is the magic of circus. For me, there’s nothing that this circus life takes away, that it doesn’t, in some way, give back ten-fold! Circus life? It’s a blessing.

Annaliese is the 2018 Daredevil Angel of circus!

Grateful for Pavel & Anya


Pavel Khabarov and his wife, Anya Terekhova used to skate professionally around the world. ~~Pavel grew up in a circus family, whereas Anya studied at a skating school.~~ Over the years, they granted me many interviews and shared many a juicy story of life behind professional skating and growing up in Russia. (Sorry . . . my lips are sealed!) In 2013, Pavel  gave me this photo of him performing back in the day. This shot inspired the character, Sorin Dobra. (Sorin’s Valthea’s love interest.)

“Girl Power” (2/3 in series)


Born in Sarasota, Florida on November 28, 1988, Nicole grew up in the world of circus. She recently co-starred in the short film, Katia. It debuted at the 2018 Sarasota Film Festival. Nicole won the award for Best Hair and Makeup at the Oniros Film Awards in Italy. She was one of the finalists for Best Acting Debut. (The film, Katia wrote and directed by Naida Joanides, is set in the circus. At the Oniros Film AwardsKatia was a finalist in ten categories, and it won seven!)

C.K.: What circus arts do you perform?

Nicole: I performed everything from a pony act the age of 8, to assisting in magic productions. Behind the scenes, I practiced trapeze, web, hand balancing and juggling. But what I enjoyed the most, and what I was most passionate about, was always the elephant act. I rode and performed tricks with these lovely creatures. I even had the opportunity to present the elephant act.

C.K.: When afraid, or seriously challenged, what do you do or tell yourself?

Nicole: I think of my cousins, who left us too young and didn’t have the chance to have this challenge. I think about my mom who’d tell me to calm down. Think things through. Preforming live, and growing up the way I did, forced me to learn and think fast. Analyze. Focus. I was never scared in the ring with my family, friends and my elephants. Leaving the circus, coming into the real world, that was the challenge.

C.K.: Behind the glamour, smiles and sparkle of circus and entertaining, what have you had to push past to be where you are today?

Nicole: In the circus, there was really nothing I had to push past. It was like being in Neverland. I was sheltered. Protected. Yes, it was difficult traveling away from friends and family. But the circus was amazing! Traveling all over was incredible. The people I worked with taught me so much. The hardest part to push past was leaving the circus. Beginning a normal life in Sarasota. Leaving my elephants. Leaving them broke my heart. It’s still very hard to talk about. Life without them is not the same. [Those elephants] were truly a part of me. I think of them every day. Every day. I remember all the beautiful moments I shared with them. How loving they were. I still dream about being around them.

C.K.: How does life differ for a circus performer regarding social life, romance and family and children?

Nicole: I love this question! My circus friends and family always talk about this. Being raised in the circus you’re definitely different from normal people in so many ways. From the way we work, to the way to the way we act and treat each other. My non-circus friends always laugh at me. They can never tell who’s my family and who’s not. Because, somehow, we’re all “related”! (That doesn’t mean we always all get along!) Being around people in small groups for extended periods of time, you really learn to be open minded. You learn how to listen to others. How to work with each other. Working with a circus person it is the best! We work fast and smart. Being in the circus, we had so many different types of jobs. And there’s always a time limit. Circus is always live. You must make sure it’s done fast. But correctly.

Socially, we’re very different. A lot of people make fun of circus people because we’re so old school. I agree. For example, if we’re at a group gathering and somebody walks up, we all stand to greet the person with a hug and a kiss. Also, there’s such an understanding of the expression ‘respect your elders’. One of the biggest things is, even though we may not see each other for a long time, the moment we are reunited it feels like home again. So many of us have grandparents and great-grandparents who worked together and were friends before we were born. We always keep that in mind. We think about that when we socialize. We always respect our history.

As for romance, it’s drastically different being with someone who’s not from the circus, or who’s never been to one! My husband’s not from the circus. He never saw me perform or the world I grew up in. Because it’s such a different lifestyle, sometimes I feel like he doesn’t really know me. He’ll never got to see how hard I worked setting up and tearing down [the shows]. He’ll never see or experience what it’s like walking out your front door and seeing the elephants out there, waiting for you. So many things. Explaining [circus life] is one thing. Being there and being part of it is a completely different thing.

Today, I love my life and where I’ve ended up so far! Because of circus, I’m always striving to do something I love and to appreciate the people around me. I’m so thankful for the way grew up.

Nicole is the 2018, enchanting Isis-archetype of circus!