It’s Release Day!!

She’s here. She’s finally here. After all these weeks, mt baby, ICE GLADIATORS is now live. I can hardly believe it. Each book is special. Each release is special. But I’m telling you guys, this one is extra sweet. I listened to the readers for the story that you wanted told. Thank each of you so much for the inspiration, support, and faith.

#LIVE – “𝗔 𝗴𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝘆 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗻𝗲𝘄 𝗢𝗿𝗹𝗲𝗮𝗻𝘀 𝘃𝗶𝗯𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗵𝗮𝗽𝗽𝗲𝗻 𝗴𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗻 𝗵𝗮𝗹𝗳 𝗮 𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝗹𝗶𝗳𝗲.” – Goodreads review

ICE GLADIATORS

#LIVE – “𝗔 𝗴𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝘆 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗻𝗲𝘄 𝗢𝗿𝗹𝗲𝗮𝗻𝘀 𝘃𝗶𝗯𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗵𝗮𝗽𝗽𝗲𝗻 𝗴𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗻 𝗵𝗮𝗹𝗳 𝗮 𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝗹𝗶𝗳𝗲.” – Goodreads review

Plus, check out book 1 for just #99c!

Available for order!
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2Lsg90b

All other links: books2read.com/icegladiators
Book 1 OUT OF THE PENALTY BOX: books2read.com/penalty

𝗢𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗲 𝗶𝘀 𝗰𝗿𝗼𝘀𝘀𝗲𝗱, 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆 𝗽𝗲𝗻𝗮𝗹𝘁𝘆 𝗶𝘀 𝗺𝗮𝗷𝗼𝗿.
Dalek “Taz” Tazandlakova is the epitome of a hockey player—tall, broad, and powerful. As a forward for the Lafayette Ice Water Moccasins, he’s also the physical embodiment of domination and intimidation.
He’s everything Liam Jolivet isn’t.

Liam possesses an inner strength and confidence Taz has never mastered. On the surface, Liam appears to be a perfect match for Taz. The problem is, Liam is dating Taz’s roommate. It’s not the only problem, either. Taz is a “playa” and has commitment issues—along with a pain-in-the-ass coach who’s threatening to ruin his career, and a second roommate who wants to dictate his social life for his own personal gain.
Nevertheless, Taz wants Liam, and Liam appears to want to reciprocate. Do they dare cross the line?

GIVEAWAY: #Win this #GiftCard

http://bit.ly/2wd0E6Z

What’s In Your Hockey Bag?

Greetings all! I’m back with another bonus post in celebration of the release of my new sports romance, Ice Gladiators, which will be released on 02/15/20. Today’s post is inspired by my mini-me. No, she isn’t a hockey player. She’s a dancer. So, what do dance and hockey have in common, and why did this inspire me? Let me explain.

I used to spend many hours at the dance studio. When my daughter was approximately seven years old, she began to take dance lessons. She had asked to take lessons years before then, but the only studios I could find at that time did not have classes for her age at a time I could work it into my schedule. All of the classes for younger dancers were taught early during the day, while I was at work. See, in the area that I lived, the homeschool population is about thirty percent, or, at least, it was back then. The numbers may have dropped since there have been many changes in both the private and public school systems. Many of the homeschoolers were members of a Home School Association Co-op. If you’re like me, I had no idea what this was. When I heard homeschool, I assumed that parents did all the teaching. While that is the case for some, many homeschool students have classes taught by various people who are associated or affiliated with the homeschool association. Dance was one of those. Let me explain further.

See, the owner of one of the dance studios I attempted to enroll my daughter had a high percentage of homeschool students. In fact, the majority of the students during that period were homeschooled. Dance served as physical education and provided socialization opportunities. The owner had multiple classes designated and reserved for homeschool girls. They were listed as HS classes, which I thought meant high school. Since homeschoolers have flexible schedules, many of these classes occurred early in the day (starting at 1:00 pm and ending around 4:00 pm) while I was still at my day job. The classes available by the time I got off work was for older girls.

It was a shock to me when my daughter asked to take dance. She asked out of the blue one day. At the time, she was on a pee-wee cheerleading squad and taking gymnastics. I’m a firm believer that parents shouldn’t live vicariously through their children. I had enrolled her in cheerleading because it was something I had enjoyed as a child. I thought it would be fun for her, good exercise, and experience of how to work with others on a team since she was an only child. At her age, she hadn’t expressed interest in anything. I could have enrolled her any extracurricular sport, but cheerleading is what I knew. So, when she approached me with wanting to do dance, that was her desire uninfluenced by me. Therefore, off I went to seek her a class. Honestly, I didn’t think she would stay enrolled. Silly, girl! Boy, did she prove me wrong, but I digress.

Anyway, initially, I could not find a class for her. However, the owner of one of the studios placed my name on a mailing list. And then, one year, there it was—a class for her age at a time I could take. The class was only thirty minutes, and I had to drive like a speed demon to get there, but I made it. Now, why go through all of that? Well, I think this background is important to understand the operation of how this studio operated and later evolved. See, this studio was different on two levels. First, it was a Christian-based studio. I lived in an area known as the Bible Belt. One of the reasons the homeschooling was so popular is the majority of those parents felt that the public school system went against or ignored their Christian beliefs. Now, I’m not saying ALL homeschooling parents hold this philosophy or beliefs. That just how it was in my area. The homeschool parents flocked to this studio because it was aligned with their beliefs. As a result, they had a great deal of influence in the studio policies. They were the ones who basically dictated the times of classes for groups of students, and they had first priority in everything. Not only that, but in the early days, the students began class being taught dance history, how to mend tights, how to sew ballet shoes, and French. They even had a book; although not called a textbook, and the homeschooled dancers received a grade. And this wasn’t just an attendance or participation grade as most physical education classes give. No, this was a grade based upon the mastery of skills.

The second point is what I just mentioned. Due to their financial support, the parents of the homeschoolers were the ones who had a huge voice in what the studio looked like, everything from the physical building to the manner of dress. These parents helped upkeep the studio with both building and lawn maintenance. They pushed that the only music played was classical or Christian—even for the contemporary and “hip hop” classes. (What was called “hip hop” would make any MTV watch cringe.) And their influence was especially seen in the dress code, which is what I really want to discuss, as this is the most important to how I arrived at this topic.

The owner had a vision of how she wanted her studio. The parents of the homeschoolers helped her achieve that and push it beyond. This, in turn, caused this studio to be different than all the other studios. Although it was designed to teach children dance principles, parents of homeschool children wanted their children taught as if they would become professional dancers. Their classes were longer and more intense. Non-homeschooling parents. children were taught less stringently and solely for recreation. They were given less intense classes and shorter class times. At recital, this divide was obvious. The homeschoolers danced circles around all the other students, which is why at recital, the two divisions did not share the stage simultaneously.

As the school grew, there became shifts. More non-homeschool pupils enrolled, and the number of homeschoolers decreased. The classes began to merge. However, by then, the policies of the studio were well-established. The dress code strict, including specific colored leotards for certain age groups/dance levels; mesh-seamed convertible tights, specific brand ballet flats (pointe shoes had a separate category), and hair in a bum held by thirty-two bobby pins. (Don’t ask me why thirty-two, because I don’t know. I’m just told that’s how professional dancers do it.) These were just a few of the rules. At the beginning of the year, there was a twelve-page packet outline the rules to parents. The owner was more lenient to the younger students, but honey, oh, when they got older, there was not much tolerance for rule-breaking.

I had no idea at first what I was enrolling my child into, but she loved it. Therefore, I began taking my cues from other parents. I was instructed that I should invest in a robust, quality ballet bag, and I’m so thankful that I did. That one bag lasted, and it was drug everywhere in all sorts of conditions. It also had many interior storage compartments. Most people think the only thing in a ballet bag is a couple pairs of tights, shoes, and a leotard. They’d be wrong. My daughter easily had over fifty items in her bag at any given time—not junk items, but required items. So, I got to wondering. If she had all of that in her bag, what do hockey players have in their bag? I sought to find out.

It took me a minute, but I got in contact with some minor league hockey players and I asked to peek inside their bags. (Fair warning. I advise no one do this without nose guards and air freshener.) Not surprising, their bags are just as stuffed as my daughters. So, if you ever were curious about what in a hockey players’ bag, here is what I found.

  1. Pads & Protective Gear
  2. Shoulder pads
  3. Pants/shorts/girdle
  4. Shin pads/knee pads/leg pads
  5. Elbow pads
  6. Gloves
  7. Slash guards
  8. Helmet
  9. Mouthguards
  10. Hardware
  11. Blade/steel skate pouch (skate guards)
  12. Extra blades
  13. Replacement visor
  14. Screwdriver
  15. Skate blade sharpeners
  16. Stick tape
  17. Shin guard tape
  18. Stick wax
  19. Stick (obviously doesn’t fit into the bag)
  20. Clothes
  21. Water-resistant base layer shirt
  22. Water-resistant base layer pants
  23. Jockstrap
  24. Guarder belt
  25. Socks
  26. Player socks
  27. Skates
  28. Shoelaces
  29. Jersey
  30. Cleaning
  31. Visor cleaning spray
  32. Microfiber visor cleaning cloth
  33. Towel
  34. Miscellaneous
  35. Water bottle
  36. Deodorant

One final note is the players informed me of the importance of the bags themselves. They stated that in their opinion, the best bags had sturdy straps, divided sections, internal storage, compartments, mesh ventilation sections, be brightly lined for easy location of equipment in dimly/poorly lit arena/locker rooms, and constructed of waterproof material.

A special thanks to the players who allowed me to snoop around in their bags and explain it all to me. They really went into detail about brands, performance, function, and fit. There’s no way I could do any of those topics justice in this post. I will, however, mention that most of the players I talked to preferred the brands Bauer and CCM. These are not the only brands out there, and I personally cannot attest to their durability or quality. Anyone wanting to make an investment in hockey equipment should get advice from someone knowledgeable with the sport and sporting equipment. Additionally, this post is not sponsored or affiliated in any way with persons, brands, or products named herein.

As always, I’m interested in reading your opinions and comments. Did I miss list anything that you feel is important and should be included in the bag? Do you play hockey or any sports? What’s in your sports bag? If you would like to see me write more of these types of posts, please let me know in the comments below.

DISCLAIMER: This post is in no way sponsored or affiliated by any person, brand, or product mentioned herein. I make no money or obtain any sort of financial gain or gifts from the mentioned brands.

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Enjoy sports romance and athletic bad boys? Check out my adult romance, Defending the Net. It is the second in my hockey series and guaranteed to melt the ice. It is sold at Kindle, Apple Store, Nook, Kobo, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori Store. DTN is the second in my gay sports romance novel series and guaranteed to melt the ice. Order a copy now at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Missed the first book in my Locker Room Love sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

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Resources

Writing Learning Lessons

Hello again. Today, I was reflecting on my journey to completing Ice Gladiators, my new sports romance that is being released on 02/15/20. Every time I finish a book, it is never the same. I feel that with each book, I grow. I thought I’d share with you some things I learned along the way. Hopefully, some of these may help you or spark ideas if you are a fellow writer. Some of the items can be applied to life in general.

  1. Writing about a passion or love helps the writing process go smoother. I didn’t actually learn this. It’s more like I rediscovered it. But I could really get into my character and story organically. What I mean is, I’ve written for contests that have a designated topic or subject that I wasn’t all too crazy about. Now, why would I enter a contest about a subject I’m gaga over, one might ask. Well, I like pushing myself, and I love a challenge. I’ve actually surprised myself with some of the work I created. But oftentimes than not, I fall flat. It’s a story, and that’s about it. But when it’s a topic that I’m into, I can bring it to life. Ice Gladiators characters will skate right off the page and into readers’ imaginations. Readers will sit on the bench with them and be in the midst of every fight.
  2. Back everything up daily, multiple times a day. So, here’s a not so funny story. When I was working on “mega beast”, My computer crashed twice just as I finished and was about to back up. So much work was lost. It’s one reason why it remains unfinished to this day. But don’t fear, it is on my to-do list. I’ve just had to put other projects ahead of it to meet deadlines and obligations. However, it is coming. From that experience, I learned to backup regularly. Fast forward to Ice Gladiators. I was writing on my hard drive and backing up to flash drives when I heard my computer beeping. Of course, I went to the search engine to investigate the noise and it possibly could be my motherboard going out. Naturally, I freaked. Luckily, I learned it wasn’t the motherboard, but the battery. A co-worker in the IT department replaced it for me for twenty bucks plus the cost of the battery ($3.00). One might call that fortunate, but I got a very dumb idea. I thought, why not write directly to the flash, not thinking that a flash drive would break. Yup. Fortunately, most of the documents were backed up. The final copy of Ice Gladiators before sending to the publisher was not. However, since I had emailed the entire manuscript, I had a copy. But there were other documents that I had worked on, including a new WIP, that were lost. Once again, I headed to my IT coworker for the rescue. So, my lesson to myself is to backup every two hours regardless of where I’m saving initially.
  3. Don’t be afraid to go there. I’m usually not, but this had more to do with style than content. My writing process for Ice Gladiators was different than any other project. For once, I wrote it in order and didn’t move a single chapter. I was mindful of word count as I wrote, which allowed my chapter to be the same length approximately and reduced my need for slashing words to make quota. (But don’t think this means I didn’t have to cut because yes, I did—just not as much.) I did kinda write one scene out of order, though. I began a scene (in its proper place) but couldn’t get it to flow. In my head, I knew the scene that came next, and it was working out. So, I wrote that scene instead and later hopped back to the previous scene. By the time I had finished the second scene, the scene that I struggled with became workable. Now, when it comes to writing, I’m a creature of habit, in that, I write as the scenes come, which mostly is out of order. Changing my chaos to something more organized, well, that was scary. I’m a diehard panster. Outlines, whiteboards, scene cards…none of that works for me. Why? Because it’s the actual writing that moves me to the next place. A few ideas jotted down on index cards leave me with a stack of WTF? I’ll never get it in order or have enough ideas to fill out the cards. But when I construct a sentence and another and that becomes something, it sparks the next sentence and the next. Finally, I have a scene. And that scene may be floating unattached to any other scene. But once I read it, another scene will spark, and soon it begins to melt together. That’s where the shuffle comes into play and I begin moving scenes around. It’s not uncommon for me to move a scene multiple times. I know it belongs, but I don’t always know where. For me, this method works.
  4. There is always something to learn about the writing process. I’m a firm believer that the more one writes, if he/she pays attention, the better writer he/she will become. I noticed in Ice Gladiators that I consciously was paying attention to errors I’d made in writing previous books. Being aware of those made editing a little less tedious. When I say a little, that is because I find ways to make all new kinds of mistakes. So, I started making a list as I wrote about patterns of errors that I made. Then, after completing writing for the day, I’d go back and clear up as many of those errors that I saw. Later, at the end when I began my overall editing passes, I looked for these errors again. And I found them… again.
  5. “Confusion” is something not just in my fortune cookie. This boils down to style: APA, MLA, CMoS, etc. Most fiction writers use CMoS. The CMoS does change its guidelines from time to time. I found this change when looking up a particular issue. What threw me for a monkey wrench is when I looked at some of my other edited manuscripts, the editing didn’t match up with the CMoS. Well, that was because publishers have preferences in format, too. When sending out queries or manuscripts, always be certain to read the publisher’s guidelines and style changes. For many, this may not be an issue. For me, this became an issue only because I forgot a grammatical rule and my grammar check kept pinging it. (BTW, it was giving me an error for CMoS’ way.) I tried looking it up, and wouldn’t you know APA, MLA, and CMoS all had different guidelines. Then, I discovered, CMoS had a vague clause as well as a change in the rule. I asked in writing groups and got an array of answers. That’s what prompted me to look at my final edits and publications.
  6. I’m about to get slammed, I know, for what I’m about to write next, but I don’t care. Writing guidelines are just that—guidelines. They aren’t rules. Grammar does have rules. Rules must be obeyed. Guidelines, well, those are optional. Now, it’s not good to deviate too far from guidelines, but as long as a writer is consistent, then, it’s more acceptable. There are some guidelines that I refuse to follow. Well, one. That’s placing an apostrophe after an S followed by an S (e.g., walrus’s flippers or clowns’s shoes). Nope. Instead, I write without the final S (i.e., walrus’ flippers or clowns’ shoes). I had an editor (not my editor) become really upset when I said this. But as a writer, I do have a stylistic choice. And if push comes to shove where I’m required to use that final S, I’ll change the word completely. I did that in one of my books. I changed a character’s name to avoid that final S. To me, that looks like shenanigans. I don’t like it, and I don’t have to accept it. And that leads to my next point.
  7. Editors all edit differently. Here’s another quick storytime that isn’t so pretty. I used to work in an environment that after I completed an evaluation, it was passed to three editors—a secretary, a person who didn’t have a title, and a licensed supervisor in that order. After each one received it, the document would be returned to me for corrections before moving to the editing chain. Now, to put this into perceptive educationally, the secretary had secretarial training. The person with no title had nearly the same credentials as mine; although, I held more licenses, postgraduate endorsements, and specialized training. The supervisor had both more years of formal education as well as additional licensures. I point this out, not because I’m an education snob, but because the secretary was allowed to edit technical material. The person without a title would change both what the secretary and supervisor changed. Then, the supervisor would scream that the document was incorrect. Well…DUH! The first two had different editing styles one using APA and another using MLA, not to mention the horrors that were being churned out with the technical stuff. Other employees in my same position had the same issue. Paperwork was backlogged, and the evaluators were the ones doing extra work and being verbally chastised and abused. This went on for years, until finally, matters came to a head, but not as one would think. The secretary and the person with no title disliked each other. When the person with no title took an extended sick leave, evaluations began getting processed faster. The supervisor took notice and began to listen to what the evaluators had been saying all along. Finally, the secretary was eliminated from the process as well, and wouldn’t one know it was smooth sailing from there. My point is, in writing, it is very useful to have multiple editors. However, not only do the editors need to be competent, they need to have different areas of expertise. That way, they will not trip over each other.
  8. This next is a bit shallow and superficial, but I noticed that I write more when my nails are manicured. Looking at ugly nails is not inspiring. They serve as a distraction. I find that as I’m typing (or writing longhand) when my nails are unmanicured, I stop several times to file them, clip a jagged edge, or push back an unsightly cuticle. Several weeks ago, I somehow injured my thumbnail. I’m not sure how, but I noticed a yellowish discoloration in the center forming close to the cuticle. Turns out, it was a crack/cut, and the top layer of the nail began to peel off as the nail has grown. The length of the crack has expanded horizontally almost the full width of the nail and is very noticeable (and slightly painful). It’s obvious that in a few weeks, a portion of this nail will be lost completely. However, it was this damaged nail that brought my attention to how much time I waste on nailcare when I should be writing. Perhaps it is due to looking at the keyboard or down frequently when writing when I have a break in thought, have a typo or need to use the function keys. It’s a small thing, but I think many writers may have small distractions that they do not realize. Identify any distractions and find a way to eliminate them.
  9. Getting ahead of the game is easier when you know what to expect. When I first began publishing, I knew that there was a lot of work involved after the manuscript was completed. I didn’t realize how much. When my publisher started requesting different documents and materials, I had to scramble to create them. That six-month lead between acceptance and publication can fly past. The thing I learned is if you’re traditionally publishing, do not wait to begin working on that six-month plan while the manuscript is out to publishers for a decision. Begin forming and creating a marketing plan. Yes, even with traditional publishers one will be needed. Make to-do lists. Get as organized as possible so that once the manuscript is accepted, you can put your plan into motion. Have ready the items your publisher will want when then they ask instead of having to create them. If you’re unsure what those documents may be, read the publisher’s guidelines or ask other writers. I know my publishers had a laundry list.
  10. I know I said I was a panster, but the misconception is that pansters are unorganized. That isn’t true. While my writing technique may seem on the surface unstructured, there is a method to the madness. It’s difficult to explain to non-pansters, but trust me, there is organization. Having all the needed materials at hand before sitting down to write saves a lot of time. That is items such as flash drives, pens, paper, clocks, music, or whatever material are needed to do the project. It also includes having a productive environment. For some this may mean a quiet space. Others may feed off the energy of areas with lots of activity and movement. Whatever gets your juices flowing, make sure that the place is secure. One place I like to write is the library. There are three in my area. One is absolutely horrendous. The other is great, and everyone knows it. It’s large but often crowded, and it’s not uncommon for me to find that my favor writing nook is occupied. The good thing about the library is that spaces can be reserved in four-hour blocks. What most people don’t know is that if no one else reserves the spot, the library attendance will allow you to extend your reservation for as long as you need. So, when I know I will spend a full day writing, I make sure to reserve a space. I also am sure to take with me bottled water and light snacks. As long as one doesn’t make a mess and remains in a certain area, food is allowed. Many college students study there during their lunch or dinner hours, and the library attempts to accommodate them. I also take a jacket because it’s usually chilly inside and tissue because something generally flares up my allergies.
  11. Some online groups are more helpful than others. Okay, real talk. This isn’t to bash but to just put out there a reality. Some writing groups are only about numbers. They are large with a diversity in membership, which is good. However, many times, there’s an inner clique that sway the atmosphere. Newbies become stands in an attempt to become part of the inner circle, but it is pointless. The skill levels of writers vary. Often, when a writer asks a question, the responses are snarky, off-topic, unhelpful, ignored, or just plain wrong. It’s important to know the quality of the writing group as well as getting to know the members. Just because someone says they have published twenty books does not mean that person is knowledgeable. Some people just want to tear others to shreds just to be mean while others are too sensitive to offer any type of opinion. Some members may be quiet because if they give an honest opinion, they are called out as bullies if the opinion isn’t glowing. In writing, we all have moments where what is written is pure garbage. I have gone back to discarded projects and cringed. Constructive criticism is a writer’s best friend. That is how one advances to the next level. And it’s important to know the distinction between what is constructive and what is rudeness. Some groups are loaded down with rude people. Many times, other members will call these people out. Unfortunately, if that person or people happen to belong to the inner circle, the group is just a pit of vipers. When joining online writing groups, read previous posts and hang out for a while to get a feel for the group. Remember, there is a group for everyone, and not all groups are bad.
  12. Ignore what people say about not allowing friends and family to critique your work. As a general rule, I would say this is not a good thing. However, there are exceptions. I’m a member of a writing critique group. We are friends and have been in the group together for years. Each of us has areas of writing “expertise”, for a lack of a better word. For example, one member is the chief editor for a local newspaper and has been doing the job for years. Another member is a professor of creative writing at a university. I would be crazy to ignore their experience and knowledge because they happen to be friends. The fact that we have been together for so long, they do understand my writing aesthetic, and that is a good thing. And here’s why. If they know what I’m going for, they can tell me when I miss the mark. I queried one publisher who sent a rejection stating that my manuscript was “unrealistic”. Now, the section that she specifically referred to in the text actually was created by me with the assistance of a professional who is a member of my critique group and who allowed me to shadow him for several days. He all but dictated to me the procedure. When I sent him her comments, he pulled procedural records of how it is done in this area. Did he steer me wrong because he’s my friend? No. If I had screwed up the procedure, he would have been the first to call me on it. There is nothing wrong with receiving help/advice from friends. I should add that one thing I do to ensure that I’m balanced is I do get advice from others who are unfamiliar with my writing style. I do this for clarity, to check if my writing is clear to someone completely objective. Again, one must be careful. Having a beta who has a different reading preference can be disastrous. For example, I enjoy using foreshadowing in my writing. Often what may seem like a stray bit later has a larger role. Readers who do not enjoy investing in subtlety may not enjoy my work.

And that is it. Well, not really, but this post is getting long. I hope that you find some of these tips helpful, and it gives you one more inside look to Ice Gladiators.

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Enjoy sports romance and athletic bad boys? Check out my adult romance, Defending the Net. It is the second in my hockey series and guaranteed to melt the ice. It is sold at Kindle, Apple Store, Nook, Kobo, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori Store. DTN is the second in my gay sports romance novel series and guaranteed to melt the ice. Order a copy now at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Missed the first book in my Locker Room Love sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

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Writing Guides

Ice Gladiators Music Playlist

I often receive questions regarding my writing process (e.g., how do I plan my stories, how long does the process take, where do I get my inspiration, etc.). My general answer is that my process depends on the story. Since I always strive for growth, my process changes from story to story. However, there are a few givens with me.

First, I’m a panster. I do not plan. I do not outline. And yes, that can create chaos at times, but my trying to outline is not pretty. Some of the worst experience I had was trying to pre-map out a story. I believe part of the cause for this is that I do not write my stories in chronological order. Even if I try, I frequently end up moving scenes. Most times, I begin with a scene close to the beginning but not the opening scene. Jumping around does not bother me.

Second, I edit as I go. For many writers, this is a point of controversy. Some argue this should never be done because one would never finish the project. Well, if I didn’t, I’d never finish, especially if I become stuck with writer’s block. Editing what I’ve written as I go gives me an idea of the direction of the story. It allows me to see the plot clearly. The added bonus is that I get a cleaner first draft—not perfect, but far better than if I edited after draft completion.

Third, I’m motivated by so many things from people to music to literature to things that I see walking down the street. There is no rhyme or reason for what will or when I’ll be inspired. It’s very organic. Sometimes, I work on multiple projects simultaneously, but I try to avoid this. Usually, if I say this is what I’m doing, what has happened is that I’ve set a project aside to marinate and revisit later. It may be months (or eek, years) before I return to the project. The reasons for setting aside a project varies, too. Sometimes, it has to do with deadlines for other projects or previous commitments. Other times, it is because I have lost motivation (boo!) or I’m stumped as to how to continue. I don’t like setting aside projects because I do feel a need to complete them before starting something new. I feel hindered and restricted if I have an idea that I want to explore but need to finish something shelved. This is what happened last year, and I put all new projects on hold until I emptied all my “in progress” folders. Yeah, that didn’t happen, but I did make a huge dent in them.

Fourth, and this is the subject for today, I always have a music playlist that I listen to while I write or before sitting for a writing session. Two things noticeable about my playlists are that they are diverse. I listen to all types of music. The other thing is that some songs almost always show up on my lists. I listen to them a lot. While writing some sections, I may listen to the same song repeatedly until I’m done with that scene. Other songs I may listen to the song once just to get me into the writing mood. Listed below is my playlist (song and artist) for my sports romance, Ice Gladiators. The list is in alphabetical order and not the order in which I listened to them. After reading the story, one may figure out which songs inspired what scenes or chapters. Is should also disclose that this is not the entire playlist. Ice Gladiators took months to write and additional months to edit. Therefore, some of the songs listed, I only listened to them during the editing phase. Some songs I didn’t add to this list because they were not inspiring. Some I may have omitted as an oversight or deleted accidentally.

I also should add that some songs I removed from my playlist because they were uninspiring or bringing the opposite energy for what I needed. Mostly, I listened to these songs through earbuds or a headset in order to drown out all other noise. But sometimes, I would brainstorm or rework a scene in my head while driving, and I would listen through the car speakers. Rarely did I leave it up to chance and listen to the radio.

That’s something else that differs among writers. Some writers already know the songs they want to listen to before they begin writing. I tend to click through my music list and save the songs that get me into the mood into a file. If I hear something inspiring while I’m not writing, I’ll move that into my playlist file. I guess I’m a hybrid when it comes to forming my playlist in that I pick some songs randomly while others are already in my music files waiting to be selected.

Finally, there are some songs I tend to shy away from. I attempt to avoid music that is included in the soundtracks of movies I have watched. The keyword here is “watched.” There may be songs on my list that have been used in movies but I have not seen the movie. Or it could be that I watched the movie so long ago that I forgot the song was played in the movie. Or if another artist performed the song in a movie, I may not remember that, either. Songs in movies that I’ve watched (and remembered) become too distracting for me. Instead of focusing on my story, my mind wanders back to the movie and the movie characters.

DISCLAIMER: This post is not sponsored. No monies or monetary gives have been paid or promised by any of the artists mentioned in this post. There are no affiliate links or codes listed. This is a personal list of music that I found inspiring. If interested in any of the songs listed, please visit the individual artists’ websites.

Playlist

  • All of Me – John Legend
  • All the Above – Maino ft. T-Pain
  • All the Small Things – Blink 182
  • Anthem Part 1 – Blink 182
  • Anthem Part 2 – Blink 182
  • Bags – Clairo
  • Believer – Imagine Dragons
  • Bleeding Love – Leona Lewis
  • Born for Greatness – Papa Roach
  • Born for This (Esther) – Mandisa
  • Bury a Friend – Billie Eilish
  • Calling America – ELO
  • Can’t Be Touched – Roy Jones, Jr.
  • Cheater Cheater – Joey & Rory
  • Circus – Britney Spears
  • Come Out and Play – The Offspring
  • Days Like This – Goldlink featuring Khalid
  • Delicate – Taylor Swift
  • Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap – AC/DC
  • Don’t Stop Believing – Journey
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls – Metallica
  • Hall of Fame – The Script
  • Handmade Heaven – Marina
  • Hells Bells – AC/DC
  • Home – Michael Bublé
  • Hotel California – Eagles
  • I Got Friends in Low Places – Garth Brooks
  • I’m Still Standing – Elton John
  • I’m Not the Only One – Sam Smith
  • If I Can’t Have You – Shawn Mendes
  • In the Air Tonight – Phil Collins
  • In the Middle – Zedd, Maren, Morris, & Grey
  • Ironic – Alanis Morissette
  • Issues – Julia Michaels
  • Life Is Beautiful – Sixx: A.M.
  • Live Wire – Motel Crue
  • Lord of the Flies – Iron Maiden
  • Lose My Breath – Destiny’s Child
  • Lose Yourself – Eminem
  • Love on the Brain – Rihanna
  • Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’ – Journey
  • Major Tom (Coming Home) – Peter Schilling
  • Nothing Else Matters – Metallica
  • Perfect – Ed Sheeran
  • Riot – Summer Walker
  • Shoot to Thrill – AC/DC
  • Sirius – Alan Parsons Project
  • Slip Sliding Away – Paul Simon
  • Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting – Elton John
  • Someone Like You – Adele
  • Stay – Rihanna
  • Still Loving You – Scorpions
  • Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) – Eurythmics
  • The Climb – Miley Cyrus
  • Try – P!nk
  • Welcome to the Jungle – Guns N Roses
  • What About Us – P!nk
  • Under Pressure – Queen & David Bowie
  • Uptown Funk – Bruno Mars
  • You Got Another Thing Coming – Judas Priest
  • You’re in Love – Ratt
  • Your Love – The Outfield

And that’s my list. What are some of your favorite artists and songs? Which songs on this list are your favorites? How do you go about selecting your playlist? What other activities do you use a music playlist? For my fellow writers, do you write using music or with a playlist?

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Enjoy sports romance and athletic bad boys? Check out my adult romance, Defending the Net. It is the second in my hockey series and guaranteed to melt the ice. It is sold at Kindle, Apple Store, Nook, Kobo, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori Store. DTN is the second in my gay sports romance novel series and guaranteed to melt the ice. Order a copy now at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Missed the first book in my Locker Room Love sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

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Romance Tropes

I see a lot of writers and book reviewers posting romantic tropes that are their favorite or least favorite. I haven’t made one of those posts, and I’m not sure why I haven’t. But the other day, I was in a discussion about tropes. It was very interesting hearing the reasons for likes and dislikes. As I started identifying mine, I noticed a theme emerging. I don’t have to explain it here because as you read the list, it becomes obvious. However, instead of doing a just a favorite list, I will list my favorites, least favorites, and one the leave me “meh” (i.e., I can take or leave).

DISCLAIMER: These lists are just my personal opinion and are not facts. Not everyone will agree, and there are no right or wrong answers. Feel free to disagree and voice your opinion in the comment section.

My Top 10 Favorite Romantic Tropes

  1. Forbidden romance – These can be fun because people always want what they can’t have.
  2. Enemies to lovers – For the most part, I enjoy these romances. However, they can easily go sour. I enjoy watching two people at polar ends come together. But many times, I see this trope written with the balance of power between characters being uneven. For example, the hero wants to build a mall on the park ground the heroine wants to save for some obscure tree that has her parents’ initials carved in it because she’s such an environmentalist and sentimentalist. First, her parents damaged the tree. I don’t care if it supposedly happened twenty years ago. So, she can hop right off that soapbox. The hero is made out to be a money-grubbing bad guy. But the town is dying because all the industries have left, and he’s there to create jobs. I guess it’s more important to starve in a beautiful park than eating daily. What I’m getting at is, many times I think this trope is done poorly is the reason the main characters are enemies is weak. There’s no compromise that will allow them both to be successful because either the park remains in that location or it doesn’t. But suppose in this scenario they both wanted to save the park, one by peace protest/civil disobedience and the other by violence/force. Their goal is common. A realistic avenue for compromise is available, and both can be successful.
  3. Damaged hero – Perfect people are boring. This is another trope I mostly enjoy. When I don’t, it is because in my opinion the hero or heroine is too damaged. Or the damage is imaginary or superficial. I especially enjoy this when the damage is something completely unexpected.
  4. Sports romance/athlete – Do I need to even explain why I like this trope?
  5. Blackmail – This is when the getting gets good. This trope sets up the elements for all kinds of twists and turns. And it can make the good guys act a little crazy.
  6. Rescue workers (excluding military). These are exciting plots. I excluded military,
  7. Gay – What is enjoyable about gay romance is that from the onset, there is a certain balance in characters that already exist.
  8. Office Romance – These are just spicy. They may have elements of all of the tropes that are on my favorite list.
  9. Opposites Attract – I like to laugh, and I find that this trope is highly popular in romcoms. I get to get my giggle on.
  10. Scars – To me, this can be a subcategory of Damaged. I find a lot of these to be underdog romance, and I love seeing the underdog rise to the head of the pack.

 

My Top 10 Least Favorite Romantic Tropes

  1. Fake dating – I can’t get into these stories because I don’t buy the relationship and do not see how other characters would buy it, either. There’s usually some awkward setting where the fake couple is around people they know well and can’t answer basic questions about each other or have weird pauses. The other people just accept this as normal. If that situation happened in the real world, they would be pegged within seconds.
  2. Amnesia – What fun is starting a romance with someone who does not remember who they are? Then, when they regain their memory, they could be a completely different person. Perhaps that’s the point, especially if the story arc of the amnesiac is to morph into a model citizen when his/her entire life he/she has been one step above the bottom of the barrel thuggish.
  3. Arranged marriage – Here’s my deal. I want a HEA. Usually, in arranged marriage tropes, the arrangement has been made by parents or guardians without the consent of the bride, groom, or both. The couple is stripped of choice. If they fall in love, great! They got lucky. But if don’t, they are stuck together. If they split, their families will not be happy. Those aren’t HEA. If they fall in love, did they really or did they just get tired and become complacent? I just think furniture should be arranged. Not marriages. The idea throws me off; and therefore, I’m off for the entire story.
  4. Cowboy – I’m not a western/cowboy type of girl. I would be miserable on a farm or ranch. And city cowboys, I’m not even sure what that means.
  5. Disguise – How do you start a relationship based on a lie? They may come clean, but this is someone faking to be another person. It’s an elaborate test.
  6. Kidnapped – Because kidnapping is a crime, and Stockholm syndrome isn’t cute.
  7. Mistaken identity – Every time I read this trope I ask, “really?” If the mistake is short-lived, then I can roll with that. But to allow someone to continually mistake you for someone else… Nah, bro. For me, this ranks right up there with disguise.
  8. Return to hometown – This wouldn’t be so bad for me if the person returning had a bad else place and met a new person in the hometown. But mostly, this is the geek moving off and becoming successful but returning to take care of a sick parent or to handle a will. Or it’s the bad seed that everyone remembers and can’t quit talking about after years of absence. The return is they are treated the way they were prior to leaving which is why they left. But now, suddenly, after being forced to return, the hometown does not make them want to hurl. Many times, there’s a lot of backstory infodumping. Gag!
  9. Unrequited love – I like equality. The idea that one person spends so much time and effort trying to get the attention and gain the love of another boggles my mind. Usually, someone has to make a change (often the female getting glammed up) before the love interest notice. I think the best romance is one that both parties accept each as is and notice each other. Unrequired love often has inequality in the status of the couple.
  10. Consanguinity – I just can’t.
  11. Bodice Rippers – I had to add one more in this area because I don’t enjoy stories were female characters are too delicate to wipe their own nose and the male characters act like cavemen.

 

Top 10 Romantic Tropes That I’m Ambivalent About; I only enjoy if written creatively

  1. Instaromance – I do believe that couples can fall in true love quickly. Maybe not from the first second before speaking to each other. I call that lust. But I do not think all couple need months and months or years to figure out their feelings.
  2. Alpha hero – If the alpha is a brute, then, no. If he is a self-confident person who just has his act together, okay.
  3. Billionaire – If the character’s only redeeming attribute is his/her money and he/she treats everyone like crap, barking out orders and demands, this is not a character I want to invest time in getting to know. This pulls me right out of the story. But if this is a well-rounded character who happens also to be a billionaire, then I have no problem with that.
  4. Cougar – This is sticky. If this involves a minor or someone who has just become an adult (e.g., an 18-year-old and a 35-year-old), this isn’t something I want to read. Age isn’t always just a number. Some age gaps I can’t wrap my head around. A 70-year-old hooking up with a 40-year-old doesn’t do it for me either. I mean, to each his own. I know these relationships can work, and it isn’t my place to judge. I just can’t imagine how wide age gaps have anything in common. The first thought that comes to my mind is that the cub is a gold digger. And my thought only grows worse from there.
  5. Military – For me, this is overdone. That’s no shade to authors. I’m certain there are great military romances out there, but I can’t read one more navy seal with the power of Superman story. There was a period of about two years that nearly every romance I read was this trope. I just couldn’t get away from it.
  6. Love Triangle – If this involves having to make a decision, either or, then make up one’s mind already. No one has time to be waiting to get picked like a schoolyard game of Red Rover.
  7. Marriage of convenience – I can see this working.
  8. Reunion – If this is a Tom Hanks Cast Away type book, I’m all in. Yes, reclaim your love. Reclaim your life. However, if this end up being another return to hometown because the main character graduated high school, moved away, and someone died which forced the character to return to settle a will, get out and shut both the front and back doors and all the shutters. Not interested.
  9. Royalty – I more “nay” than “yay” on this trope these days, and that usually because the love interest is some commoner who is a duffus trying fit into court, loved by the servants, but hated by the royal family. The royal character is one that needs to be “brought down a peg” to understand the common plight of man. And that person prefers to be “normal”. When I was younger, I enjoyed this more. Maybe it’s because many girls grow wanting to be princesses, and that clung in the back of my mind. But I don’t completely disregard this trope. I’ve read books where this is executed with new spins.
  10. Tiny town – I’m not sure this is so much of a trope as it is just a setting. I tend to dislike these stories because it does not feel that the characters have much of a choice. There are only four single men under the age of thirty—one’s a drunk, one’s gay, and one’s in jail. So, the heroine has gone through all the eligible bachelors and selects one by default. I like options and choices. But if the story has a good cast of characters where the town may be small but not everyone knows everyone, then this can work for me.

And those are my lists. Do you agree or disagree? I look forward to hearing what your favorites and least favorites are. Leave a comment in the section below?

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Enjoy sports romance and athletic bad boys? Check out my adult romance, Defending the Net. It is the second in my hockey series and guaranteed to melt the ice. It is sold at Kindle, Apple Store, Nook, Kobo, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori Store. DTN is the second in my gay sports romance novel series and guaranteed to melt the ice. Order a copy now at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Missed the first book in my Locker Room Love sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

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Ice Gladiators Interview: Part 1

Hello again, and welcome back to the celebration of my upcoming book release. I hope you have been enjoying all of the bonus content thus far, and there is more to come. A lot of love and effort has gone into this book and I want to share it with each of you. So, be sure to read to the end and get the details on my GIVEAWAY.

Today’s post will be answering questions readers and betas have posed. First, many people asked me to discuss why I decided to write Ice Gladiators. It’s a simple question to answer, but there are multiple reasons that led to my decision. In this post, I’ll break down each of those reasons and provide insight into my thinking and/or decision-making process.

First and far most, I enjoy writing. Ever since I was in grade school, writing gave me a great release. I had older parents and grew up in an area with very few children in the neighborhood. The children who moved there either did not stay long or they were not close to my age. If by chance a family with children in my age range moved close, I lived in the era of go-inside-when-the-streetlamps-lit. Many summer days I didn’t make it that long because the vampire mosquitos used me as a feast. With skin on fire, I headed inside the minute I heard the “stink truck” coming. To this day, I do not believe that air pollution pesticides killed anything other than human brain cells. Seriously, after the truck sprayed that mushroom death cloud, the mosquitos swarmed. And don’t be chewing gum and blowing bubbles. You’d regret it real quick. You couldn’t conjure enough spit to get the taste out. Of course, during the winter months, it was dark by five, around the time my parents arrived home from work and I was brought home from my great grandmother’s or grandmother’s home. That’s where I stayed much of my pre-school days.

In short, I spent the majority of my time playing alone in either a dollhouse or making up stories to occupy my time. Don’t get me wrong. It was not an unhappy childhood. I had two loving parents and caring older brothers. I had toys and television. I was not isolated from people, just limited access to children.

When began attending school, I saw my peers only during the week. However, the school was very strict. Students were only allowed to talk and interact with other students at recess. All other times, we were expected and required to remain silent in our designated desks. Sometimes, we had group projects, but those were few and far between. This is why I laugh today when I hear that classrooms are unruly and students can’t be managed. Oh, yes, they can with the proper discipline in place. My school had less than zero tolerance. If students even thought about stepping a toe out of line, they were snatched practically out of their jockeys. But I digress. I did not see my classmates regularly outside of school.

On Sundays, there were kids at church, but my family was one to worship and leave. We didn’t stick around more than five minutes for fellowship. (I don’t know if we even called it “fellowship.”) We shook hands or hugged parishioners on the church steps, and then we left. And honestly, I was uninterested in mingling with most of those church folks anyway. They all came across as being snooty. As a child, I wasn’t allowed to say that aloud. Even if I could, I do not know that I had the language to communicate the sentiment effectively. Again, I’ve strayed slightly off topic. My point is, where I lived, my school and church carved an environment that for the majority of the time required me to entertain myself. I did so by writing.

Second, which is really part of the first, I love sports especially hockey and football. In the south, football is a second religion. I grew up breathing it. However, I attended a school where the team perpetually sucked in all sports. I’ve heard that has changed since I graduated a thousand years ago, and they have been invited to state championships. But I remember having 1-11 seasons. The college and professional teams in the area struggled as well. I discovered hockey, not because there was a team around—let’s face it, it’s the south and there’s no ice outside of a freezer—but due to wanting a team to be able to celebrate a victory. Baseball, which is popular here, moved too slowly from my taste. I never quite got into basketball. Golf, I fell asleep at the commentator’s voice. Tennis, I didn’t understand. Bowling was too repetitive. And eventually, that brought me around to hockey. Now, I may have complaints about the other aforementioned sports, but I do enjoy watching them occasionally. However, I clicked with hockey. The speed of play takes my breath away. I decided I wanted to experience winning at least a few times a year, and there are a lot of hockey games. While I was unable to attend in person, my parents had satellite, which included multiple channels dedicated to hockey.

Third, I’m a sucker for a good romance. In a world where there is so many things to drain a person’s mood, it’s a relief to have something positive and uplifting. There is nothing like a wonderful happily-ever-after to put a smile on my face. It’s all those doggone princess fairytales, Masterpiece Theatre, and Hallmark Channel movies. I grew up thinking, that is how the world was supposed to be. See, being around older adults, all I witnessed were couples who had been married for over thirty years unless their spouse had passed away. Divorce was taboo to speak of in mixed company—mixed being with children present. Most couples I knew looked happy and were always smoochy-smoochy.

By junior high, my peers began pairing off. Sock hops, holding hands, drawing hearts with names inside, and getting hickeys in the hallways were the thing. Sappy love songs topped the top 100 weekly, with the occasional nonsense teeny-bopper pop tune. Another aside. Can I mention how much those pushed mall-debuted tunes caused my innards to cringe? I really had no appreciation for girls in denim jackets basically doing karaoke in the center of the mall. Just saying.

So anyway, put two and two and two together, and it was only logical that I write a sports romance. It was a case of peanut butter and preserves. (Yes, jam because in the woods the old folks jar preserves not jelly and that’s what gets served with peanut butter. City folk might not know about that, but that’s how it is.) They just belonged together. Ice Gladiators was part of that natural course, too. I already had created characters that I considered fun to write, and I wanted to write more. I also felt there was another story to be told and wanted to push myself to be more creative. This leads to another question that I’ve been asked multiple times. How is Ice Gladiators different from my other sports romances?

Again, the answer to this is simple. I listened to my readers. Feedback indicated readers wanted more sports scenes, and Ice Gladiators have that. They asked for an intense romance. Check. Bring more drama, they said. Done. Give the giggles. I got that covered, too. Several readers stated they wanted a longer story, and Ice Gladiators is a slightly longer read that DTN. There are quite a few surprises, but, of course, I can’t say what they are.

If you liked this post and would like to see more of these types of posts, please like, comment, and follow me by clicking in the boxes and buttons at the end of this post. Also, please share the link to this post on any social media for any of your family or friends who may like this type of content as well. If I’ve omitted any questions or didn’t answer something fully, please comment below, and I will address it.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.

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Enjoy sports romance and athletic bad boys? Check out my adult romance, Defending the Net. It is the second in my hockey series and guaranteed to melt the ice. It is sold at Kindle, Apple Store, Nook, Kobo, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori Store. DTN is the second in my gay sports romance novel series and guaranteed to melt the ice. Order a copy now at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Missed the first book in my Locker Room Love sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

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DISCLAIMER: This post is not sponsored or affiliated in any way with any of the people, brands, or franchise mentioned herein.

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How To Plan the Perfect Tailgate

How to Plan the Perfect Tailgate

Hello again everyone. I’m here today in continued celebration of the release of my sports romance, Ice Gladiators. I’m talking everything romance, love, hockey, and anything else related. I’m also answering questions and giving inside sneak peeks. Today, I want to discuss the art of tailgating. Here are twenty-five tips that will help you host a successful tailgate.

  1. Go with and invite family and friends who are into tailgating, sports, and aren’t sore losers (because, you know, your team may not win them all). There is nothing worse than being stuck at a tailgate with a bunch of Debbie Downers or lethargic people. Tailgates are loud and full of energy. Some are downright obnoxious.
  2. Be sure to assign or establish a designated driver prior to going. This will prevent arguments and promote safety. Be sure to have appropriate vehicle registrations, licenses/identification, and insurance papers for road checks and stops.
  3. Ensure that the vehicle being driven recently has been serviced and has enough space for everyone going to ride comfortably.
  4. Wear comfortable shoes and clothing. I do not know who wouldn’t do this, but some people do not. Also, dress for the weather. Layering clothing always is a good idea.
  5. Time management is key to having a great tailgate party. In fact, it may be the single most important factor. Bad time management can lead to stressing about the event and spoil the entire day.
  6. Know the rules of the tailgating area. Some places do not allow alcohol or adult beverages on the premises. Some have restrictions about hookups and cords while others may have limitations on the height of flags or the size of RVs or trailers. Be aware of when one can arrive for setup and the time one must leave the premises. Most tailgates allow animals, but some places do not. If they do allow animals, be aware of any leash or pet ordinances or rules.
  7. Plan to arrive at the tailgate area early. This allows time to check-in, find a spot (if not assigned a designated area), and get situated. Sometimes, there are bumps in the road (e.g., someone else in your location, not enough hookups, ground polluted or muddy, etc.). Early arrival will allow time to find solutions to unexpected problems. It also provides time for traffic issues (e.g., wrecks or construction) which may delay your planned arrival.
  8. Be prepared for anything and everything. Organize a toolbox with all tools that you will need for any car trouble, tent issues, equipment (e.g., folding chairs or table problems). Include a flashlight, batteries, matches/lighter, first aid kit, jumper cables, flat tire repair, and fire extinguisher. It is my belief that one cannot have too many screwdrivers or wrenches. Tools with magnetic tips are godsends. One tip I find handy is to have a rolling toolbox. When packed with the essentials, toolboxes can become heavy. Also, keep it in a place that it is readily available when you need it. Do not pack it at the bottom of all the other supplies.
  9. Organize a second box with cooking essentials (e.g., apron, basting brush, blankets (if cold weather), battery-operated fan (if warm weather), Bluetooth or wireless speaker system to play music, bottle openers, bug repellent, can openers, condiments, charcoal, grilling utensils, hand sanitizer, ice, napkins, paper plates, paper towels, permanent marker, medications (e.g., for burns/sunburns, headaches, etc.), plastic cups, plastic utensils, plastic wrap (to keep insects off food), plastic zip bags, poncho, seasonings and spices, spatulas, skewers, sunscreen, sunglasses, tongs, toothpicks, trash bags, trays (for carrying food), wet wipes, and umbrellas. Label drawers or compartments to prevent having to search for desired items.
  10. Have extra of everything. Let me stress that again. EXTRA. It is a pain to have to lug everything back inside once you return home, but the saying is true. It is better to have and not need than to need and not have. Sure enough, when you do not take extra is when you will need it. We have seen this many times.
  11. Keep your cellphone charged and pack a portable cellphone charger. I now take an extra set of cords to charge. (Quick side note. I once had my cord wonk out, and the replacement cord I picked up at a gas station nearly burned up my battery. I had serious issues with my phone for months, completely unaware that the cheap cord was the culprit. I was on the verge of purchasing a new phone when I realize the problem.)
  12. Pre-plan the menu several weeks ahead of the tailgate. This will allow you to get everything you need in a timely manner and discover any item that you inadvertently omitted. Also, if you have a picky eater at your tailgate, this will ensure they have a selection of food.
  13. Do as much food preparation as possible the night prior. Pre-slice any hamburger or sandwich toppings (e.g., onions, tomatoes, lettuce, etc.). This just makes life so much easier.
  14. Label and boxes or coolers to be able to find items quickly.
  15. Make a list of everything that you are taking with you that you need to return with. This will help you to avoid leaving behind items you may need for your next tailgate or want to keep.
  16. Fire up the grill early. Be ready to cook when people arrive.
  17. Use a bungee cord to attach a paper towel roll from your tent’s struts.
  18. Text friends your location once you arrive so they can easily find you. Possibly photograph the area and text them the image if they are unfamiliar with the area. Some people suggest having a tall flag or helium balloon for the station for friends to use to find you. However, many people use this technique, and there will be tons of high flags and balloons. Doing this can’t hurt and may be helpful. Just be aware, texting may be more efficient.
  19. Decorate, decorate, decorate. One of the coolest things about a tailgate is seeing the creativity and team pride. Decorate anything not nailed down and even the stuff that is.
  20. Make multiple use of everything. For example, a drink holder from a fast food restaurant can be used to hold cups filled with garnishes, toppings, or condiments.
  21. If the tailgating will last into the evening, one may want to have LED battery-powered lanterns.
  22. Tailgating isn’t just about eating and drinking. Be sure to have games and activities planned for the guests you invite or other fans and tailgaters. Don’t forget to be social. Okay, I have to side note here for a minute. Tailgate usually is expensive, and there are people who go to tailgates to mooch off others. Some tents sell food, while others don’t. But just because someone approaches your tailgate and is curious about something, do not assume they are there to smooch or wanting something for free. It may be that they only want to look. Tailgating is about socializing. Yet, there are some tailgaters who do not want anyone other than their invited guests to come to their tents. To me, this is a bit ridiculous. For some, it is their first tailgating experience and they have no idea what to expect. They may not know all the tailgating etiquette. Be hospitable. In general, one can usually sniff out the moochers.
  23. Music – enough said, other than have a good playlist.
  24. Familiarize yourself with the location of emergency stations.
  25. On hot days, don’t be stingy with cold water. Heat exhaustion is real. If a tailgater looks to be experiencing a heat-related issue, offer them a bottle of water and a seat in the shade to cool off until help comes or they feel better to make it back to their friends and/or family.

Those are my tailgating tips. What are yours? Where do you tailgate? What is the best tailgate that you have attended? I’d love to hear about your tailgating experience in the comments below. And don’t forget to read to the end to see details about my giveaway.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.

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Enjoy sports romance and athletic bad boys? Check out my adult romance, Defending the Net. It is the second in my hockey series and guaranteed to melt the ice. It is sold at Kindle, Apple Store, Nook, Kobo, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori Store. DTN is the second in my gay sports romance novel series and guaranteed to melt the ice. Order a copy now at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Missed the first book in my Locker Room Love sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

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Not Dreaming of a White Christmas

What are friends for if not to inspire the most random of blogs? Or maybe we just need a to cut back on the tequila in our Mistletoe Margaritas. Whatever the case, there I was on a chilly December evening, sitting in front of my laptop, and pondering what to write for this week’s blog when my cell dinged with a text. My first thought is to wonder who has lost what, as I had recently returned home from being with my gaggle of reprobate comrades. Clearly, none of them could want anything important since they’d just seen me not ten minutes earlier. I glance at the screen, and the message reads, “It’s snowing.” And my response is, “Snowing where?”

Earlier in the day, it had been what some would call warm (mid-sixties) for December. Here in the south, we call it borderline cold. The last two days had been dreary and overcast. Finally (while I was with my friends having drinks), a misting rain had moved in, enough to make the streets hazardous but not enough to warrant the trouble of opening an umbrella. By the time we prepared to return home, the temperature had dropped significantly. Those mid-sixties were now in the upper forties. Oh, I know what some of you “Yankees” are thinking, but again, this is the deep south. Forty-degree weather doesn’t cut it here. That’s stay-inside weather. So, when we hear “snow,” that’s a game-changer. A few flurries are enough to make businesses consider closing for the day. And oh, do not mention the word “ice.” If there’s ice, forget civilization exists. You will not find milk and bread in a supermarket for weeks.

Just as an aside, I understand the run on bread, as it can be used for when the power goes out. But milk? I suppose it’s cold enough that it won’t spoil without modern refrigeration—just allow mother nature to handle it. However, if people are warming their homes with generators or fireplaces or if the power doesn’t go out, I don’t know how the milk thing works. But look, I’m not meant to understand. All I know is that it is proper southern etiquette that if there’s an ice storm, you are required by law to purchase twelve loaves of bread and five gallons of milk. Maybe there’s some biblical significance. By the way, it’s quite the opposite during hurricanes. For that, the menu is peanut butter, potato chips, and beer. Go figure. Okay, so I’m being a tad bit cheeky, but all my southern cohorts know where I’m going with this. Storms get predicted and people freak the hell out—and not without merit. Respect Mother Nature. But I digress.

After hearing the news, I rush to my window and peer outside (like an idiot). It’s dark and I can’t see anything but black. And of course, I’m not walking outside in the cold. By then, I’d already kicked off my shoes and had on my fuzzy couch socks. Therefore, I do the next best thing and go to the internet to look up the news since I didn’t see a scroll across the bottom of my television screen. Sure enough, there is light snow… about two hundred miles away from where I live! The accumulation was a whopping 0.22 inches. Don’t judge.

So, here’s the skinny. All those songs about white Christmases and lovey-dovey Hallmark holiday movies that show towns rejoicing in being snowed in—not happening here. Nope. It’s pure panic and chaos. Now, this might seem silly, but actually, there is a good reason for it. Most southerners are not equipped to handle snow. A snowstorm at Christmas, while it may aesthetically be pretty, probably would cause many families to have a horrible Christmas. Note, I said many and not all. And here’s why.

First, in some large northern cities, the powerlines are below the ground in tunneling systems. In the south, they mostly remain in the air. When inclement weather strikes, not only is the power interrupted to homes, those live lines fall into the streets, making travel dangerous.

Second, many places are rural. Access to them is a bit hectic on any given day. Add snow, ice, and down trees and there’s a couple of situations happening. Restoring power can take days, weeks, or even months. Although Katrina was a hurricane, it took two months before power was restored to my home, and even longer for landline telephone service—which is one of the reasons I discontinued my landline. Dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane, while not by any means easy, but more straightforward. What I mean is that people in the area are more used to and prepared for dealing with hurricanes and tornados. Snow and ice leave us baffled.

The third is driving. This is why many businesses and schools close. Many southerners do not know how to drive in snow and ice. And in all fairness, why should we? When snow happens so rarely, how are we supposed to gain experience to learn? It’s like being told to look out for wrackspurts without spectrespecs. (If you’re unfamiliar with this reference, refer to J.K. Rowling’s’ Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.) In my entire life, I’ve only driven in snow three times. Even then, it was less than two inches, and that was a struggle. I slipped and slid all over the danggone place. I prayed every second in the car and asked each Catholic saint I could think of to say a prayer of intercession on my behalf. It was scary. I’m fortunate that I made it home safe in all three of those occasions. However, I can not estimate the numerous cars I passed that had skidded off the road and crashed into the trees. It simply isn’t safe.

Fourth, and here’s the biggie, clothing. I learned a long time ago that what we consider winter clothing is not the same as other parts of the country. Many, many years ago, I was gifted a beautiful tan trench coat by my parents. In fact, I still have it hanging in the rear of my closet and it looks new. It has a button-in plaid lining. The issue with the coat is that it never really got cold enough to wear more than a few days out of a year if that. However, when I went to really cold areas, it was not thick enough. The button-in lining didn’t repel moisture. Thus, rain, sleet, and snow seeped through. It just took it a little longer. On the other hand, my boots kept my feet dry, but the insulation wasn’t sufficient to keep them warm. The same held true for my gloves and mittens. But buying items more “substantial” would be a waste as they would be too hot. So, it’s a catch twenty-two. If a clothing company wants to make a killing, design southern winter wear.

Also, let’snot forget babysitting issues. When there’s s blizzard, schools close. Daycares close. Young children can’t be left alone, especially not in homes with no water, power, or heat. Yet, some businesses remsin open, and make it clear they will terminate employees if the employees fail to come to work due to weather. These employees may not have other sources of childcare. It’s like having a flat tire but the spare is also flat. These parents may could find alternative childcare if not all daycares in the town closed. And even if a daycare remained opened, the parents may not be able to travel there on the roads.

While having a white Christmas sounds ideal and amazingly beautiful, it’s not something that has me bursting at the seams to experience. Although, I should say that I did kind of experience one once. Several days before Christmas, an ice storm struck where my parents lived. The majority of main roads had been cleared by the time I drove in, but there was much ice left. Power was out, and the town was strangely quiet. Streets were empty, and there was no twinkling of Christmas lights. My family’s home was cold and dark. It didn’t matter because no one was at the house. That was the year my father was in the hospital, and my family had gathered there. Because the hospital had power, my mother stayed there. My brothers all had their own homes. So, after visiting my father for a few hours, I made the long drive back home where there was power and no ice. I remember as I drove thinking I had been robbed of having a family Christmas. As it turned out, it was the last Christmas my father was on earth. Maybe my heart knew that would be the case. However, when I think back, I remember the splendor of the ices sparkling in the sun. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky that Christmas. So, I definitely appreciate the beauty. Yet, it is an experience I don’t care to experience. No white Christmas for me. I’m quite happy being Ms. Heat Miser, Ms. Green Christmas.

So, that is all that I got. Tell me your opinions. Do you prefer a white Christmas or a green Christmas? Let me know in the comments.

Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.

Coming February 2020… Be prepared. It will melt the ice.  Ice Gladiators

 

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Enjoy sports romance and athletic bad boys? Check out my adult romance, Defending the Net. It is the second in my hockey series and guaranteed to melt the ice. It is sold at Kindle, Apple Store, Nook, Kobo, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori Store. DTN is the second in my gay sports romance novel series and guaranteed to melt the ice. Order a copy now at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

Missed the first book in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty.

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Life’s Roux: Wrong Doors, my steamy romantic comedy about what could go wrong on vacation, is available at Red Sage Publishing. To order, follow the link to http://bit.ly/2CtE7Ez or to Amazon at http://amzn.to/2lCQXpt.

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Copies of my romance short stories, anthologies, books, and novels are available in paper, eBook, and audio on Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. The links are listed on my Writing Projects page (http://bit.ly/2iDYRxU) along with descriptions of each of my stories or novels.

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Don’t forget to visit Creole Bayou. New posts are made on Wednesdays, where no Creole, Cajun, or Louisiana topic is left unscathed. Plus, get how-to self-help tips, how to writing tips, and keeping the romance alive and fresh suggestions. If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.

Finally, take the fear out of rush/pledging. If you or anyone you know are interested in joining a college Greek life organization, check out my special series posted each Monday for everything you wanted (and didn’t want) to know about college fraternities and sororities. In these posts, you will find information about both formal and informal recruitment for both NPC and NPHC organizations. Don’t know what NPC and NPHC are? No problem. It’s all explained in this series. This series also provides loads of information for parents who are unfamiliar with the processes, what is expected of parents, and how to be supportive. Visit Sorority Bible Table of Contents to view any or all of these posts.

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