The Puck Does not Stop Here!

Nikki Bonanni has worked in the fitness industry for almost 20 years. In the 90’s she began as a Fitness Director at a small health club in Ithaca, NY, eventually becoming the general manager. While at that small club Nikki joined forces with a friend to open a personal training and consulting business which thrived for 6 years with over a dozen trainers working in both the gym and traveling to private homes. She is now an Exercise Physiologist in a new health club that is co-owned with a medical center, and is a part-time faculty member teaching at Ithaca College. In her spare time, she is working on her first mystery novel.

I am a true believer in doing things that make you happy. Trusting that if you want it bad enough there is always a way to make it happen. Realistically everyone needs to make a living and pay the bills. I am lucky enough to have a career that is also fun—I am an Exercise Physiologist in a health club that sits on an inlet to Cayuga Lake. Granted there are long hours and sometimes weekends, but the benefits far outweigh that. I get to see the water and wildlife, work with interesting people helping them become healthier, be active throughout my workday….and wear sneakers to work!

Work isn’t the only thing that defines you, and I have many other interests. One that has been a part of my life since I was a kid is mysteries. From Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys to Agatha Christie I have always been an avid reader. For many years I also professed that I wanted to be a mystery writer. Thanks to Carolyn Hart and The Christie Caper I became aware of this real life conference called Malice Domestic.

One day years later I was training a client who was also a mystery reader and mentioned Malice. Sure enough she said she’d love to go with me. There it was, my first opportunity to become part of a different world. That led to investigating other conferences, and although it took awhile to get there I was starting to realize one of my dreams. For the past two years I’ve gone to a number of these GREAT events. I have also started to write, and have been overwhelmed with the generosity, help and friendship of other authors. If I had not taken that first step this thing that is now a big part of my life would never have happened.

As I said, I have a lot of interests, so there was still something that I loved that was missing. Sports. Throughout high school and college I played several varsity team sports. When you join the adult world, lack of time and opportunity often lead to athletes ‘retiring’.

One of my clients happened to be a goalie on a women’s recreational hockey team. Since field hockey was one of my sports I expressed an interest in maybe one day trying ice hockey. She invited me to an open hockey, and even though I told her I could only skate forward she insisted I go play. Needless to say it was a bit of a disaster! However, after a friend nicely told me I could not play hockey until I learned to skate, I decided that I did indeed want to do it.

It was a harsh reality for me to not be able to have the ability to do a particular sport; I am generally at least adept at most athletic endeavors. Skating was not so. It was beginner lessons for me, and even the little kid version of ‘wiggle your butt’ could not propel me skating backwards—I just ground holes in the ice.

If you want it badly enough, you can do it! At age 40 I really wanted to be good enough to play on a team, and after lessons, beginner women’s hockey and then spring league, I have done it now playing on two teams and having a blast!

So, since I have not actually published a book (yet), I do have a giveaway. Anyone that posts something they have done to follow their dream will be entered into a drawing for a signed copy of Hank Phillippi Ryan’s Prime Time along with a cool tote bag! Thanks Hank!!

Nikki Bonnani

13 replies
  1. Hank Phillippi Ryan
    Hank Phillippi Ryan says:

    Hey Nikki! What a treat to see you here today…and after reading your ms., I have no doubt that we'll soon be seeing YOUR books on the store shelves!

    I'm also a poster child for following your dreams–though I've been a TV reporter for 30 years, I didn't start writing mysteries til I was in my mid-fifties. It's been a long time since I was the new kid! But so far, so good.

    (I met the fabulous Nikki at Malice–and she was truly a force of nature at the convention!Let's get her to tell us about the book club she's organized…it's already making waves.)

    But wow. Playing hockey. That–I can't imagine. Amazing!

  2. Dea, Kia, Jake
    Dea, Kia, Jake says:

    Great post, Nikki! Good luck with the writing (and the hockey!). I didn't start writing until I was 40 so there is definitely still time to finish that book and get it published. I can't wait to read it and like Hank, see it in the bookstore!

    Hank, thanks for the giveaway; we at Stiletto really appreciate it. Best–Maggie

  3. Rachel Brady
    Rachel Brady says:

    Wait a sec. Hank's over fifty?

    Nikki, I started writing late too, and I'm also a hockey player! 🙂 I just started the third book in my series (Thin Ice) and it's a mystery set in the hockey world! I also teach fitness and my day job is researching human performance. We have so much in common! Can't wait to hear more about your book club, and I'm looking forward to meeting you in person at Malice next year.

    Great post!

  4. Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith
    Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith says:

    Hockey? Nope, the most strenuous sport I ever enjoyed was swimming–I say was because it's been a long while since I've done any. Back in the day I swam in the Pacific Ocean as often as possible from April on into September or October. (At the time we lived a mile away and I took the kids.)

    As for living your dream, I always wrote but didn't get published until my late forties and had lots of rejections after that. I'm quite happy to be with two small presses who publish my distinctly different mystery series.


  5. Nikki B
    Nikki B says:

    Hank-As always, you are awesome!

    Maggie, Rachel & Marilyn – It's so wonderful to here about others being published a bit later in life!

    Rachel-Yes, we do have a lot in common! Where do you play hockey? Does your team go to the big Ottawa tourney during Winterlude? It will be fun to chat with you!

    **Sorry if this ends up posting twice, I just noticed the first try didn't seem to show up??

  6. Laura
    Laura says:

    For those readers who have not met, Nikki, she's awesome! Her enthusiasm for this genre is amazing.

    I guess, for me, I've simply refused to give up. Writing has been my dream since I was 10. And I'll keep going until the day I die.

  7. Susan McBride
    Susan McBride says:

    Wow, Nikki, you play ice hockey! My hat's off to you! My husband plays and has season tickets for the Blues games so I am a late-in-life hockey fan (which is how so much hockey crept into THE COUGAR CLUB). I started writing pretty young but it took me almost eleven long years (and a manuscript a year) post-college to get a traditional publishing contract. I am nothing if not stubborn, which helps a lot if you're going to survive in this business. Best of luck with the hockey and the writing (is it a hockey mystery?)!

    Thanks for joining us at the Stiletto Gang today. It's great having you here!


  8. Rachel Brady
    Rachel Brady says:


    I play down here in Houston, of all places! E-mail me offline at rachel (at) rachelbrady (dot) net and we can chat!


  9. Helen Kiker
    Helen Kiker says:

    My dream was weaving – the clack, clack of the beater as each row was added to the cloth.

    It was only after I retired & the children were grown that I realized my dream. This opening a whole new world of friends in addition to the joy of the actual weaving.

    Everyone should follow their dream.

    Helen Kiker

  10. Unknown
    Unknown says:

    Great blog. Keep following your dreams and we'll soon be reading your first book! Meanwhile would love to win Prime Time.

  11. Nikki B
    Nikki B says:

    Thanks Laura–Never giving up is often harder then taking the first step!
    Susan, I'm Italian so I'm totally on board with stubborn LOL. I have season tickets to Cornell hockey this year, which is huge in my neck of the woods!! (and it's not a hockey mystery although I do have a few thoughts of how to incorporate it for down the road. This one involves the interesting dynamics surrounding the gym atmosphere)
    Helen – Way to go!!
    Shirley, Thanks for the encouragement!

  12. Jen Forbus
    Jen Forbus says:


    This is very cool. And no matter what, I can say, "she was my partner before she made it big!" 🙂

    I've changed careers many times already…I, like you, started out in exercise science. I have a degree in sports medicine and a degree in English. I taught high school English, worked for the YMCA, did software programming, and now I work for an association. But I guess my dream is more in the form of my blog these days. And I'm living it! 🙂

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