Horseshoe Casino exec pens book about supportive women

Region resident Dawn Reynolds, drawing upon the early loss of her mother and the encouragement of others, has written “The Highmore Circle,” a novel chronicling six women who learn to navigate life together.

Writing as Cricket (her nickname) Reynolds, she tells the story of Gracie Anderson, a single college professor in her 30s with a severely lacking personal life whose best friend signs her up for a support group at a local community center.

“The group consists of women with diverse careers and personalities — one is a librarian, one a college professor, others include a fashion consultant, dominatrix, blue collar worker and housewife — who have very little in common except they are motherless,” Reynolds said.

The book, while dealing with complex life issues, also has a lot of humor and a touch of romance in the story plot, she said.

Reynolds, a Dyer resident and vice president of Human Resources at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, started the book 20 years ago but struggled with numerous obstacles — twice her laptops crashed, erasing the entire manuscript. The third rewrite disappeared when a jump drive became corrupted.

“Also in the meantime I got married, had two sons and got divorced,” said Reynolds, who graduated from Highland High School. “But I’ve always realized the importance of all the women in my life, including my sister, who helped me so much and died of cancer 10 years ago, and my friends. The core theme is the importance of having a circle — whatever the circle means to you whether it’s friends or family — that helps you get through difficult times and who are there for you.”

Reynolds, who earned a master’s degree in organizational communications from Purdue University Northwest, is a recipient of Caesars Entertainment Excellence in Leadership Award and Northwest Indiana’s Most Influential Woman of The Year Award. She also is an active supporter in promoting women’s initiatives and is a Lean In Circle moderator within Caesars Entertainment as well as the Global Gaming Women organization.

Describing herself as an avid reader, Michelle Ryba, director of casino marketing at Horseshoe Casino, said she was very eager to read Reynold’s book.

“I absolutely adore Dawn,” Ryba said. “And I thought this is a book by someone I know, not just a big name author. From the first chapter, I was hooked, I stayed up reading it until 2:30 p.m. because I wanted to find out how it ended.”

Ryba describes “The Highmore Circle” as touching and humorous.

“I laughed when I read the book, but also I related to it emotionally. We’ve all loss someone in our lives, and so I understand the feelings you have. I’m impressed with Dawn’s writing. She’s just as good Janet Evanovich or J.D. Robb, two of my favorite writers.”

Since her book has been published, Reynolds has been a New York Times and Publisher’s Weekly featured author, appeared on “Fox Good Day Chicago” to discuss her book and received starred reviews from BlueInk, Clarion and Kirkus as well as wining iUniverse’s Editor’s Choice and Rising Star awards.

“The Highmore Circle” is available at Barnes & Noble and online book sellers. For more information, visit www.thehighmorecircle.com.

Advertisements

Sportscaster pens book about the winning Cubs ‘plan’

With his team unable to win a World Series in over a century, the new owner and president of the Chicago Cubs came up with a radical way of transforming the most lovable losers into a powerhouse of a team.

His audacious plan was to tear down and rebuild the team. Many in the sports industry as well as avid fans were skeptical, but not Chicago sportscaster David Kaplan, a true believer from the very start.

In his recently released book, “The Plan: Epstein, Maddon, and the Audacious Blueprint for a Cubs Dynasty” (Triumph 2017; $24.95), Kaplan shows how the Cubbies went from perennial losers to the ultimate champs.

“I have been doing pre- and post-games since 1996 and I saw the real problems with the infrastructure of the Cub,” says Kaplan, a three-time Emmy winner, current host of “Kap and Co.” on ESPN Radio 1000 and co-host of “Sports Talk Live” and the Chicago Cubs pre- and post-game shows on Comcast SportsNet.

The plan began when the Ricketts family bought the Cubs and then were willing to spend the megabucks it would take to build the team into what at the time seemed unachievable — winners of the World Series.

The first step was hiring Theo Epstein, credited with turning around the Red Sox when he was their general manager, as the new Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations. Along with Cubs GM Jed Hoyer, the two added new players such as Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, creating a powerhouse team.

But it wasn’t without pain — a whole lot of pain.

“They needed to do it,” Kaplan says. “It would have been like taking a really nasty house and just doing cosmetic changes instead of taking it down to the studs. It was a rare thing to have an owner like Tom Ricketts who bought into what the two wanted to do.”

Kaplan, who played football and baseball in college and then worked for years as a basketball coach and then scout f

or the NBA, says he grew up going to Cubs games with his father.

 

“I grew up a Cubs fan, I am a Cubs fan, and I’ll die a Cubs fan,” says Kaplan, who believes that unlike most teams, Cubs’ love is intergenerational.

When Kaplan got a call from his agent saying a publisher wanted him to write a book on the 2016 Cubs, he turned down the offer.

“My agent said, ‘You’ve got to do this; you have the access,’ ” recalls Kaplan, who didn’t want to write a typical fan book. “So I said, ‘Get the publisher on the phone.’ ”

But the publisher wasn’t sure about Kaplan writing a book about “The Plan.”

“He said no one will want to read about ‘The Plan,’ if the it doesn’t work,” Kaplan says.

But Kaplan saw similarities with other teams who had turned around and won a championship and so convinced the publisher they should go for it.

Did Kaplan, while writing the book and watching the 2016 series unfold, ever have doubts? Not for a moment, he says.

The day after the final game, Kaplan went out to the cemetery to tell his father the Cubs had finally won the World Series — a happening he says was an end to “108 years of insanity.” While standing at his father’s grave he noticed something amazing.

“There had to be 300 graves with “W” flags or Cubs pennants on them,” he says. Driving back to work he spotted other cemeteries as well filled with homages to the team’s victory.

“It was unbelievable,” he says.

But then, in ways, so was the Cubs finally winning the World Series.

If you go

What: Reading and book-signing with David Kaplan

When: 7 p.m. July 12

Where: The Cellar, 4736-38 N Lincoln Ave., Chicago

Cost: Free

FYI: 773-293-2665

Searching for Ghosts Along the Underground Railroad

My latest book, Haunthautntings coverings of the Underground Railroad. Ghosts of the Midwest (Indiana University Press)is due out August 1. Researching the book took me into the small towns of Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan where ghost stories abound about UGRR. Though I never saw a ghost myself, The Courtyards housed in a building dating back to the 1820s were said to be a stop on the Underground Railroad.

For more information:

http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/product_info.php?products_id=808927

 

 

 

 

Before the Fall: A Riveting Mystery by Noah Hawley

A Great Beach Read!

I wasn’t sure that I’d like Noah Hawley’s “Before the Fall”(Grand Central 2016; $26) because I already knew it involved a plane crash and that didn’t sound too appealing. But this mystery about a rich media titan and his family and friends is so absorbing, I kept turning the pages way after it should have been lights out.

Only two people survive plane crash — Scott Burroughs, a once very promising artist and now a recovering alcoholic barely able to make ends meet, and the mogul’s 4-year-old son. Both end up in the dark Atlantic waters, and Burroughs, who has achieved sobriety by intensive swimming, pops the kid on his back and heads for land — an epic swim against currents and gigantic waves. But that’s the least of his problems.

Once ashore, he’s hailed as a hero until the media titan’s star anchor concocts conspiracies about Burroughs’ part in the plane’s crash. It all ends very satisfying and the plot is mesmerizing. Just watch out for sunburn if you pick up this book.