How to Find Happiness Amidst Uncertainty

Today’s post is about getting into a mentally happy place. With the current events, almost every place one turns is doom, gloom, and uncertainty. Reports highlight and focus on the negative without a glimmer of positivity. For many that has led to fear, panic, anxiety, and hopelessness. People feel powerless, helpless and trapped. Psychologically, this can be devastating and crippling. Life as modern society knows it is changing, but then again, life has always evolved. Perhaps the evolution hasn’t been this sudden or drastic, but it has been happening.

Some people are confused as to why this is happening. Others are convinced it’s the beginnings Armageddon. Yet, others are angry this is happening and lashing out at others to blame as to why their lives have been disrupted. No matter what one believes or hypothesizes, it is important to endure to whatever end lies ahead. How one makes the journey will be the difference. Responsible people who seek to educate themselves can’t due to the abundance of conflicting and misinformation.

Here are some ways to get into a happy headspace.

  1. Remain calm. No matter what the situation level heads prevail. Panic leads to chaos. Calmness leads to resolution. Remaining calm allows one to develop plans and to strategize. Of course, with things being uncertain, planning is difficult. However, emitting negative energy to blame others will only bring you down more. Instead, use that energy to concentrate on self. But that’s okay. It never hurts to try, and it makes one feels that he/she is at least doing something.
  2. Focus on what bring you joy. Now is an excellent time for self-scrutiny and re-evaluating what is important in life. Do you have goals you’ve been putting off?
  3. Read a book. There is no better escape than drifting into the land of fiction. The best part is one can choose his/her destination. Do you want a bit of love or romance? Want to take a step back into history? Or maybe jetting off to the future is more your bag? How about an adventure or testing your aptitude for sleuthing? Readers get to decide when, where, and how often they escape.
  4. Listen to music. This is along the same lines as reading a book. Music can be very relaxing and transport you to a very happy place. Just be sure to listen to uplifting music.
  5. Find everyday positives. These could be things such as spending more time with family or saving money by staying in instead of going out. Start the morning by saying something good about yourself. Then, recall something positive in your life. Finally, identify something positive that has happened that day. Do this daily.
  6. Maintain a positive outlook for the future. Societies have gone through rough times before. When Hurricane Katrina roared through, it was terrifying. Howling wind. Pounding rain. Sitting in blackness listening to tornado sirens. Neighborhoods flooded. What lasted for hours felt like days. When the rain stopped and it was semi-safe (live power lines were down everywhere not to mention hazardous debris such as insulation from torn apart houses and backed up sewage) to venture out, the sight was scary. Destruction was massive. Both a loss of life and property. But people came together to help and rebuild. What many people overlook is that the effects of Katrina lasted for months. Not only where there supply shortages of gas and living essentials in groceries, but people also didn’t have running water or telephone service. Now, I know some may be thinking telephone service is superficial, but consider that some people were burning candles or running generators that caught fire. There was no way to call for help. The heat was in the nineties, and there was no electricity. Persons homebound with oxygen tanks were at risk of running out. Down trees and power lines blocked emergency personnel from responding. And bugs. It was like a plague of lovebugs. One could barely dive three hundred feet without having to stop to clean the windshield. And the mosquitos nearly ate people alive. Snakes were everywhere. Those were rough times, but people made it through.
  7. Recognize that the blame game does not change results. Fighting about who is responsible for what at this point in time does not create solutions and only serve as distractions. There will be plenty of time for finger-pointing once the crisis is over. However, pool your resources and positive energy into finding creative ways and solutions to things that you find distressing.
  8. Know you’re not alone. Others are feeling the same emotions as you are. At this time, you may not be able to gather to meet in groups to discuss what you’re feeling, but you may be able to video chat or speak on the phone with a professional or someone who is experiencing the same feelings.
  9. Accept that your emotions are valid. You have a right to feel the way you feel. You should not be ashamed of feeling the way that you do, either. Ignoring negative feelings may add more strength to them and caused them to remain longer.
  10. You may not be able to control everything but focus on and control the things that you can.
  11. Practice meditation or praying. This may not be something that everyone is interested in doing. However, people who are religious or spiritual may find this very calming and beneficial.
  12. Recognize that often there are no quick fixes. Things take time to heal, repair, and return to normal. Finding happiness is a process that one must take a step at a time.
  13. Participate in a hobby that will block negative thoughts. I was listening to a friend exercising along with a video. The instructor on the video said to “feel the burn.” The friend laughed and said if she was “burning” she didn’t have space in her head to think about anything else. “It’s cleansing.”
  14. Social media and the news can be toxic. If those are things that are stressors to you, flip the switch. Either avoid them or view them in short segments. It’s the Debbie Downer rule. Did you ever have that one friend who was a perpetual pessimist? Like a Harry Potter Dementor, he/she would suck ever teaspoon of happiness out of you within a few seconds no matter how good of a mood you’d been in previously? Avoid any person or situation like that at all costs.

Do you have any secrets or tips for finding a happy place? If so, share them here. And feel free to discuss how you’re feeling in the comments. The bayou is a community of supporters.

And also, don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy, sports romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my Locker Room Love series.

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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Missed the two books 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. Defending the Net can be ordered at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.

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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.

Life_s Roux- Wrong Doors

For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays, and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou. 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.

Until next time, happy reading and much romance. Keep safe.

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

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The Gay Side of Mardi Gras: Take Pride

Ever heard of Yuga. If you are like me, for many years, I had not. When I did, I thought people were mispronouncing yoga and was somewhat confused by why yoga would be in a Mardi Gras parade. I was even more confused as to how that looked. Before I get into it, thank you for being here to help me celebrate the upcoming release of my sports romance, Ice Gladiators, on 02/15/20. I will be making random bonus posts until the release date as well as hosting giveaways and other special surprises. Please read to the end to find out more about the giveaway.

If you have been following along, I released two posts earlier today, both about Valentine’s Day. But there is another holiday coming up that I am excited about, and that, of course, is Mardi Gras. I could not have a celebration without talking about my favorite holiday of the year. Since the characters in Ice Gladiators, live in Louisiana, celebrate Mardi Gras, and are gay men, this discussion of Yuga seems fitting. So, away we go with Yuga, and it has nothing to do with Star Wars or Yoda.

This would not be a complete celebration if I did not mention Mardi Gras. Mostly, I will be using the terms Mardi Gras and Carnival interchangeably, although, that is not technically correct. Most people have come to use the term Mardi Gras to refer to all of Carnival or the entire celebratory period. However, Mardi Gras specifically refers to Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday (i.e., the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent). Fat Tuesday is the last day of Carnival. I will refrain from discussing it here because I have discussed it at length in several other posts. I will link those posts at the end in case you are interested in learning the history of Mardi Gras and the significance of events or customs.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a krewe (krōō)is defined as a private organization staging festivities (such as parades) during Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

The Krewe of Yuga was the first “official” gay krewe and/or ball of Mardi Gras. It was formed in the late 1950s; however, underground and/or secretive gay krewes had been in existence long before then. The difference between Yuga and its predecessors is that Yuga was recognized as being an authentic krewe. Today, the krewe is no longer in existence, but it is credited as being the grandfather to modern gay krewes, including the Krewe of Amon-Ra and the Krewe of Petronius and a vital force in the Gay Rights Movement. Originally, Krewe of Yuga acted as a parody of traditional (heterosexual) Mardi Gras krewes and allow people who were gay an opportunity to socialize during Carnival. Its Carnival court consisted of a Captain, King, Queen, maids, and debutantes clad in outrageously handmade costumes. As is the tradition with modern Carnival courts, the Yuga court was presented at a Mardi Gras ball. Many gay Carnival balls exist today. Some of the better knows ones are Krewe of Amon-Ra, Krewe of Armeinius, Lords of Leather, Krewe of Mwindo, Krewe of Stars, and Mystic Krewe of Satyricon.

  1. Amon-Ra, founded in 1965, takes its name from the Egyptian god of the sun. It is a non-profit corporation, gay social Mardi Gras krewe. Attendance to their Mardi Gras ball is by invitation only. Initially, the Amon-Ra ball had to be kept secret in order to prevent being raided and shut down by the police.
  2. Armeinius was established in 1969, and its bylaws state that its ball must be held on the Saturday before Mardi Gras Day. Its ball is prestigious and to receive a table invitation indicates that a person is acknowledged by the New Orleans gay society. According to the Krewe of Armeinius, one of its main purposes is to preserve the history and pass down the tradition of the craft of creating and/or making Mardi Gras costumes. The organization also aims to archive gay memorabilia (e.g., historical documents and photographs). In fact, it is one of the largest gay historical archives in the United States.
  3. The name gives away the key feature of Lords of Leather. This krewe is the only leather-oriented krewe in the nation. Their balls consist of medieval themes and traditions. They host a Mardi Gras Bal Masque. To find them, look no further than The Phoenix, which is their “home bar.”
  4. The Krewe of Petronius has a founding date of 1961 and has nothing to do with J.K Rowling’s patronus charm or the wizarding world; although, the Petronius is quite magical. The krewe’s name derives from Gaius Petronius Arbiter, an ancient Rome gay writer and courtier during Emperor Nero’s reign. Gaius Petronius Arbiter was a member of the senatorial class who lavished in a life of pleasure. This krewe is known for hosting some of the most lavish and creative Carnival balls.
  5. In 1998, the Krewe of Mwindo was formed. It is one of the newest gay krewes. What makes this organization unique is its devotion to including persons who were excluded from traditional celebrations. Let me mention an aside here. All of the gay krewes seek for inclusivity of the gay community into Carnival as well as into society. This always has been a goal. However, the formulation of having specific gay krewes is similar to the inclusion of masks for persons of color and of lower economic status. (I go into greater details about Mardi Gras masks in previous posts. See the link below if you’re interested to learn more.)
  6. Even newer than Mwindo is the Krewe of Stars. It was organized in 2017. This Krewe is committed to underscoring the citizens of local communities. Additionally, they heavily support the theater and the performing arts. At their hosted Mardi Gras Tableau Ball, they recognize members of the community for their contribution and excellence in the arts, media, music, and theater.
  7. One of the largest gay krewes is the Mystic Krewe of Satyricon.

All of the mentioned Krewes have websites, and they appreciate donations. Please visit them to learn more or help them continue their traditions and/or philanthropies or to become a part of their organizations. They would appreciate any love shown.

There is one other feature of Mardi Gras that embraces and places a spotlight on gay culture and that is the Bourbon Street Awards. The Bourbon Street Awards are held annually on the morning of Fat Tuesday. To say that it is the ultimate costume contest of Carnival is an understatement. Categories for awards include Best Drag, Best Group, Best Leather, and Best Overall Costume. Celebrities emcee the contest.

This year, Fat Tuesday is February 25. For Mardi Gras packages and parade schedules in New Orleans, visit Mardi Gras New Orleans.

Please share your Mardi Gras/Carnival Experience in the comments below. What is your favorite parade or ball? Have you ever participated in court? Have you ever danced the night away at a Carnival ball? Have you ever attended one of the gay parades? What has been your favorite Carnival costume?

If you enjoyed this post and are interested in me writing more along these lines, please let me know in the comment section below. Also, if learning more about Mardi Gras strikes you fancy, visits my previous posts Mardi Gras From the Bayou or Mardi Gras Exposed and get some real tea.

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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 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. If you are interested in any person, brand, or product listed, please visit the brand or product website and learn more about their products and services to make an informed decision for yourself.

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Valentine’s Day Cheer

Hi, it’s me again, with another bonus blog post in celebration of my upcoming sports romance, Ice Gladiators, being released tomorrow. Honestly, I was not intending on making a second post today; yet, here I am. I have to give a shoutout to my friends and colleagues Belle and Joshua, who really lit me up and dragged me across my carpet. How dare I write an anti-Valentine’s Day post on Valentine’s Day. How can I not believe in love and romance? How can I be a romance writer and dislike Valentine’s Day? Well, I don’t dislike I-heart-day. And I do believe in love. There are things that have become associated with the day that I find distasteful, but that doesn’t mean I dislike the holiday. This is what I argued, but my friends weren’t buying it. They said if I set my mouth just right and clicked my heels three times, they still would think I was blowing smoke. Aw, what lovely friends I have. So, okay. I’m here to prove it and redeem myself by listing eleven positive things about Valentine’s Day. Yes, eleven because I have to one-up my game from last time. So, here we go.

  1. Zero gluttony guilt. Oh, I know this sounds bad, but it’s not. Valentine’s Day is one of those days where people are expected to eat chocolate and candy and not feel bad about it. Sure, people do that at Halloween and Easter, but Valentine’s Day candy is so much better in my opinion. It’s all smooth, silky, and yummy. On Halloween, people hand out hard candy and little chocolate bites. And on Easter, there are those big hollow bunnies, marshmallow things, or jellybeans. But on Valentine’s Day, it’s strawberries dipped in chocolate, cocoa covered truffles, chocolate molten lava cakes, brownie cheesecake swirls, and sorted Godiva. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it. And the packaging is so pretty.
  2. Valentine’s Day has got to be hands down the best smelling holiday there is. The fragrances and aromas from soaps, lotions, candles, perfumes, and flowers are amazing. I suppose if one has bad allergies this can be negative, but I’m there for it. It’s rare that anytime I go to the mall I don’t duck into Bath & Body Works to check out the scented candles. On Valentine’s Day, nearly every place I go smells like that. I especially love the flowery scents (e.g., Sweet Pea, Rose, Gardenia, or Cherry Blossom), but I’m also into the clean scents (e.g., Linen & Lavender, Sea Island Cotton, and White Birch & Citrus). Even if I don’t personally receive a delivery, someone in the office will and the smell will drift down the hallways.
  3. It’s a reason to get all gussied up. I guess one could say I was a late bloomer. I discovered manicures when I was in graduate school. Something about having my nails done was soothing. I felt like Elle Woods in the 2001movie, Legally Blonde, starring Reese Witherspoon and Luke Wilson. Distraught after an encounter with her ex-boyfriend, Elle rushes into a nail salon to brush away her sorrows with polish. To some, it may sound silly, but I totally get it. If I had a big test or was feeling a bit down, I destressed with a mani. Having pretty nails is cheery. Most Valentine’s Day, date or dateless, one of the items on my to-do list was a French manicure. Having my nails done made me want to wear a cute outfit. A cute outfit isn’t complete without stunning heels. Stunning heels need to be accompanied by eye-catching makeup. And, of course, one can’t have jacked up hair with a beat face. What this means for me, is whether I have a date/engagement or not, I’m paying a visit to the nail salon. If I have an event, I need to look nice. If I don’t, I’m going to want to have a treat-myself moment to lift my spirits. I don’t think I’m alone in this. I believe many women (and men) dress up a little more on this day. It may be to go out for drinks with friends, entertain business clients, or share an evening with that special someone. The bonus is that no explanation is necessary.
  4. This may be a regional thing, but on Valentine’s Day, lots of businesses offer discounts on goods or hold sales. It’s an opportunity to obtain a bargain. There are some products, like perfume, I don’t purchase for myself unless it is marked down. I like smelling good, but I often can’t see spending two hundred bucks on 0.5 ounces of a scent. I have a wish list and attempt to save throughout the year to purchase one either for a self-Christmas gift or birthday present. Frequently, those plans fall through, making Valentine’s Day and ideal time.
  5. Another similar thing is specialty items. Several retailers I like to shop only stock certain items during specific times of the year or events. One such store is a local candle shop that creates original scents for Valentine’s Day. I know many people who live for the day just to be able to purchase some of the specialty items. In the area, this has grown increasingly popular due to the decrease in appeal of the tax-free weekend, which in my opinion, has been decreasing since the mandate of a modified dress code in public schools. For those unfamiliar of the tax-free weekend, it consists of a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (usually in August, although the date isn’t set in stone) that generally occurs the weekend before most public schools start their school year. This state collects sales tax on all purchases, however, doing this weekend, all taxes (on certain items) are waived. The idea was to help parents with the cost of sending their children back to school. However, the failure comes in that while most clothing items are exempt, school supplies are not. With most schools requiring “uniforms,” parents are not flocking to purchase other clothing items on sale. Plus, since it a “uniform,” some parents purchase uniforms in uniform swaps or use clothing from the previous year. Many parents do want to stockpile more than a week’s worth of uniforms, and there’s no point in buying other clothes that their kids can’t wear most of the time. Therefore, Valentine Day purchases are more for pampering and come at a time when parents may have more money.
  6. I know I listed this one on my Valentine’s Day grievances list, but it can swing both ways. Valentine’s Day gives everyone the excuse to hold hands and smooch in public without others caring too much (likely because they too are engaging in the behavior). Suddenly, everyday things seem romantic—the moon, music, the streetlamps popping on at dark. (I never said it had to make sense.)
  7. The bakeries have everything, and I mean everything—that is until the sellout, which happens quickly. (And if curious, the petite fours go first. Get there early.) But if one is fortunate to arrive early enough, he/she is in for a real treat. First, the artistry of the bakers is not to be ignored. The decorating is outstanding. Everything is fresh, and the selection is abundant. The bakeries pull out all the stops. If nothing else, it’s worth going inside just for Instagram content.
  8. Love is good for the heart…literally. According to some physicians, a person who feels loved is less likely to suffer from heart disease. Now, I’m sure there are other factors that go into this (e.g., diet, and genetics), but experts state love boosts the levels of antibodies in the body, reduce plaque buildup in the arteries, and reduce stress.
  9. It’s not all commercial. There is historical evidence that indicates couples exchanged flowers and gifts on their wedding day as a sign of good fortune. Since Valentine’s Day is named after Saint Valentine who married people in secret after Roman Emperor Claudius II outlawed it, this continuation of gift-giving honors his memory.
  10. Valentine Day sales do help boost the economy and help small businesses. Anything that helps communities is always a good thing.
  11. Witnessing genuine happily-ever-afters. I saved the best for last. Seeing those couples who have been together twenty-five, thirty, fifty years is awesome. It warms the heart.

And there are my eleven reasons that Valentine’s Day is awesome. But just to prove to my naysaying friends that I’m really a fan of love, here’s a bonus: pets don’t get left out of this holiday. Pet owners flock to stores to purchase pet treats in the shape of hearts, cupids, and cupcakes for their furry companions. Happy pets make the day better.

What are your favorite things about Valentine’s Day? Are you a fan—yea or nay? If you haven’t checked out my Grievance list, check it out. If you would like to see more of these types of posts, please let me know in the comments below.

Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired. ~Robert Frost~

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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

Valentine’s Day Grievances

Hello, all my romantic friends. Welcome to another bonus post in celebration of the upcoming release of my new sports romance, Ice Gladiators, being released tomorrow on 02/15/20. It is with a heart bursting with overwhelming elation and humble gratitude that I am able to share this experience with you. For all my new visitors here in the bayou, welcome. I’m so glad you came. Have a look around. I’m sure you’ll find something you like. For all my followers who have been with me for the long haul, thank you so much for the support.

Since it’s Valentine’s Day and love is in the air and assaulting people’s nostrils, I thought I’d go in the opposite direction and speak to those who do not have someone special or are not celebrating the day. See, Valentine’s Day is one of those hard days for many people. There’s not much getting away from it because it’s everywhere—restaurants, parks, department stores, worksites, media, internet, etc. While couples celebrate, many singles are saddened and discouraged. Some question if something is wrong with them or if they are worthy of love. The day before her wedding, a friend made a speech over drinks about how the love between her and her future husband had been placed there by a higher power that no one could destroy. I had no problem agreeing with her on this point. But then, she kept talking.

She followed up this sentiment by stating the higher power places and grants loved to those that are blessed because the great power itself loves the person. The implication, of course, if persons who do not have love are not blessed. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but I can roll with that. However, what I cannot accept is the belief that love has not been granted to some because they are “unloved” by this greater power. To take this one step farther, it implies that the greater power deems some people as unworthy of being loved. These people are not only unloved by others on earth but also unloved by the greater power. This is especially cruel when considering the majority of people have an innate desire and/or need to feel and experience love. Nature versus nurture experiments have proven a lack of love during development may have devastating effects. So, instead of becoming all mushy in celebration of the day, I present the anti-Valentine’s Day post—the top ten things to dislike about Valentine’s Day.

  1. As mentioned previously, Valentine’s Day has the potential to make individuals ashamed of being alone. It hints that being single is pathetic, unfortunate, and curse. However, the truth is there are plenty of people not in relationships that are more than happy with their lives. They have other priorities and do not define themselves by their relationship status. They do what they want to do when they want to do it and answer to no one.
  2. This is true of many holidays and not just Valentine’s Day. Commercialism removes and sucks out some of the joy the day is meant to have. Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a celebration of love, not what a lover can afford to buy. Money is tight for some, especially in this economy. Store-bought gifts can be expensive, while handmade/DIY gifts frequently are considered cheap. The effort and consideration behind these handmade/DIY gifts often are overlooked.
  3. Real and fake public displays of affection (PDA). It seems Valentine’s Day is the day that people come out of the woodwork to publicly express their love (or lust) for each other. They slobber all over and maul each other in settings that should be a comfortable setting for all. Does a person who only is trying to enjoy a grilled cheese sandwich on his/her lunch break really need to be forced to watch two people tongue strangle each other? Can’t they just get a pay-by-the-hour hotel room and call it a day? Some people genuine are touchy-feely and are showing their true emotions because they are incapable of keeping them bottled inside. Others are grandstanding and doing it for the show, as to say, see I have someone and you don’t; I’m blessed and you’re not.
  4. It limits love. What I mean by this is frequently Valentine’s Day is associated solely with romantic love. It ignores love shared between relatives or friends, while sometimes those are the most important and the longest-lasting relationships some people have.
  5. Along the same lines, Valentine’s Day attempts to threaten that love be expressed and celebrated only one day of the year. People in loving relationships should be pampering and conveying their love daily through small, caring actions and words. In fact, I believe the reason so many relationships fail is due to the couple taking each other for granted. They do not tell or show their partners how they feel. It’s as though speaking of love at any other time of the year is a blasphemous no-no.
  6. Another Valentine’s Day pet peeve of mine is that it causes some people to jump the gun and rush into saying words and sentiments that they do not mean. They feel pressured by the significance placed on the day instead of focusing on what’s in the heart. How many couples engaged on Valentine’s Day get divorced? Now, some may argue that this number is no higher than people who become engaged on any other day of the year. I can’t prove and have no statistics to support this claim. However, I will argue since more people get engaged and/or married on Valentine’s Day than any other day of the year, the percentage of the divorce rate is higher, too. Again, I have absolutely no evidence to substantiate the hypothesis, and it is solely my opinion.
  7. It encourages showboating. This is related to other items previously listed (e.g., commercialism and PDAs). Showboating takes it one step further. This is not only a public display of commercialism; it is a person desiring or having a need to show up another as if there were a competition. The best way I can explain this is through an example. Two thoughts come to mind. First is the scene in the first Harry Potter, movie/book where Dudley complains of getting fewer birthday presents than the previous year. On Valentine’s Day, couples sometimes feel that that they must have larger celebrations than the year before, and if they don’t, it’s an indication that the relationship is beginning to go south. This is especially sad when it’s a couple that decided to have a momentous Valentine’s Day celebration their first year together, and most other celebrations will pale in comparison. The second illustration can be expressed as keeping up with the Joneses. Couples compare their celebration to what other couples are doing. But if the entire idea of Valentine’s Day is to celebrate the love between the couple, then the celebration should not be dependent on what anyone else is or is not doing. It becomes reduced to a competition.
  8. Kids are being taught to take it too seriously. When I was younger, I remember purchasing a pack of Valentine’s Day cards (with envelopes included) for my classmates. The week of Valentine’s Day (or maybe the week before that), we would decorate a brown paper lunch sack with our name during art class. We’d then hang our sack along the wall, and during the week, students filled the bag with cards. The rule was that despite whether or not you liked a person, the student had to give each of his classmates a card. These cards were approximately the size of an index card and on good quality card stock—not this thumbnail fold in half and seal with a sticker junk that is peddled nowadays. On Valentine’s Day, there was a small party that we had cookies and juice and allowed to open our cards (basically admiring the pictures). Imagine my shock when my daughter’s first year at daycare, I saw parent sending huge balloon bouquets and elaborate flower arrangements… TO A DAYCARE! Some of these kids weren’t even potty-trained. Students who couldn’t afford to do this felt left out and disappointed. Bad enough they had to endure bare Christmases, but then, to have a second holiday anguish hurled in one’s face. It became so out-of-control, that the school board put a band on any gifts being delivered or brought to any of the area schools. And if this Valentine’s Day contraband somehow was smuggled onto the school’s premises, it was not allowed to be transported on buses.
  9. The cheese on television attempting to convince me what I’m watching is love. It’s no secret that there are a couple of romance tropes that I’m not all that fond. It may not be that they are bad troupes but, rather, poorly executed in my opinion. Usually, these are stories where the hero and heroine have no choice but to fall for each other. They are the only single, attractive, decent same-age people in town. Usually, it’s a small-town environment where one of the leads returns to take over an inherit property or develop some obnoxious cooperate structure/business that will ruin and destroy a community park that has two birds. The other main character is either a native that already has dated everyone in town or returning from being gone for years and never has moved beyond his/her high school sweetheart. Now, I know readers will argue these troupes demonstrate that it’s destiny for the two main characters to become a couple and experience a HEA. To me, it usually feels contrived. The reason they are forced together in their first place is contrived, and the element of choice is erased. Or worse is the troupe where the main character is engaged or soon-to-be engaged to someone, he/she doesn’t love to fulfill an obligation of some sort but decides to marry his/her love interest instead. You mean to tell me if the love interest hadn’t entered the picture, the character would have been content being a spouse to someone he/she didn’t love? Or would they will themselves to love the other. Yuck! I’m not a fan. But this gets pushed down my throat on Valentine’s Day. Again, these troupes in and of themselves probably aren’t bad if handled cleverly.
  10. Only men are expected to give gifts. What’s wrong with a woman sending a man flowers? Why can’t the woman plan a romantic evening that does not revolve around sex? Because that is what is often portrayed. If a woman is preparing a Valentine’s Day treat for her man, it usually involves lingerie, as if sex is the only way a woman knows how to express love to a man. Men are expected to create ambiance and romance, to arrive armed with chocolates and a bottle of expensive wine. But what rule says a woman can’t do that for a man? Or a woman does it for another woman? Or a man for another man? The stereotypic gender roles when it pertains to Valentine’s Day just need to go.

And speaking of going, that concludes my list. I hope you enjoyed reading it, and if you would like to see more posts like this one, let me know in the comment section below. Do you agree or disagree with the items on this list? What are some of your not so favorite things about Valentine’s Day? What is the worst Valentine’s Day experience you’ve had? Sound off 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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Hockey Players Exposed

Greetings everyone. As you know, my sports romance novel, Ice Gladiators, is being released on 02/15/20, and that I am blogging at least one post each day until its release in celebration. For today’s topic, I will introduce you to the cast of Ice Gladiators.

This is a spoiler-free post. I will not reveal anything about the characters that will be a spoiler to the plot. However, if you do not wish to know anything about any of the characters and prefer to read the story with no knowledge of anything that happens, please skip to the bottom of the page. Since I like to save the best for last, I’ll begin by introducing some of the minor characters first. Please note that the characters mentioned in this post are not the only characters in the story. Since hockey is a team sport, the cast is large. Some of the cast have very small parts. For that reason, some readers may be happy to learn that at the beginning of Ice Gladiators, there is a team roster to keep track of who is on what team easily. However, you’ll find that once you begin reading, it is not difficult to determine which characters are the most important and what team they are a member. However, the roster is listed for reader convenience.

The first character I will discuss is Donavan Sawyer. He is a defenseman for the Lafayette Ice Water Moccasins, the same team as the leading man, Taz. Donavan is big, broad, and mean. He is an enforcer. For those unfamiliar with hockey slang, an enforcer is a player who hits hard and responds aggressively in an effort to deter or respond to violent plays committed by the opponents. In other words, enforcers are the fighters on the team. Although Donavan and Taz are on the same team, they do not always see eye-to-eye.

Opposite Donavan is Eric Chapel. Eric, too, is a defenseman for the Moccasins. He is one of Taz’s three closest friends (along with Ian and Kaden) on the team. Eric is strong on the ice, but very levelheaded and not quick-tempered. Eric can be the moral conscience of the team.

If anyone things all hockey players are dense or not smart, think again. Ian Whittaker is the intellect on the Moccasin’s team. Perhaps this is why he is the team’s pest. A pest is a player whose main role is to agitate and distract the opponents to draw penalties on them while giving his own team a power play. He incites the other team not by with his fists but with his clever wit and silver tongue.

Next up is Kaden Blanc is the teammate who could talk Taz down the easiest. He always seems to know the right thing to say at the right moment. Kaden is a forward and on the same line as Taz. In hockey, a “line” consists of three forwards (left wing, right wing, and center) and two defensemen (referred to as partners) that play in a group. In general, Kaden is jovial and considerate. However, these characteristics do not make him weak. He is an outstanding player who scores goals.

Coach Pernell holds nothing back when coaching his team. His only goal is winning. Well, maybe, that isn’t his only goal. It boils down to what one considers winning. Pernell wants to be on top, and being on top does not necessarily equate to winning. To say he and Taz do not have the best relationship doesn’t tip the animosity between these two. They have a working relationship, and even that is tense.

Spencer is next. He’s not a member of the team, but he works for the hockey franchise. He’s also Taz’s blind date, which is arranged by Jackson, one of Taz’s two roommates. Spencer works in accounting, but he’s seen Taz on the ice and has developed a huge crush on him. He’s also used to getting what he wants.

Jackson is Taz’s ambitious roommate and a bit of a jokester. He wants to move up in the Whittle, Darbonne, & Shaw corporation and actively looks for ways to do so. He also encourages his roommates to advance their careers as well.

Victor is Taz’s second roommate. He is a videographer who wants to make an award-winning documentary. The problem is, he has not shot one millimeter of film for it. Instead, he works in editing game footage of the Moccasins. This does not make him happy, but it pays the rent. He also has a boyfriend.

And speaking of boyfriends, cue Liam Jolivet. This eccentric hottie looks as if he rolled off the pages of a 1930’s GQ magazine. He’s has a classic style that speaks the moment he enters the room and a warm nature that draws people to him, including Taz. It’s too bad that he’s Victor’s boyfriend. Well, he’s Victor’s boyfriend if you ask Victor. Liam considers himself a free agent, which means he can go after Taz.

Liam is attempting to rebuild his life after a bad business decision nearly financially ruined him. All he has left is his determination to succeed. He cannot afford to be distracted or another bad investment, including poor emotional investments. He notices in Taz that their outlooks are significantly different, and he questions if that gap between them is too large to close.

Rounding out this cast is the leading man, Dalek Tazandlakova, referred to as Taz by his friends and as Blue Devil by his fans on account of his electric blue hair and his devilish antics on the ice. There’s a story behind the hair color, and he’ll tell it if one cares to listen. Taz is what is known as a defensive forward (also called a two-way forward) is a player who handles both the offensive and defensive aspects of the game. These players are versatile and can be vital in winning the game. Taz is not the team captain, but he certainly commands this story.

Taz is from Stockholm, Sweden; so, sometimes, what he says and hears is lost in translation. Taz makes it no secret that his life is complicated. One would think he’d seek to simplify it. Instead, he decides to flirt with his roommate’s boyfriend. He’s self-assured enough that nothing will come of it. But when Liam flirts back, the fireworks spark off the ice. Game on! Taz is placed in the position of having to choose between his best friend and the man who flips every one of his sexual switches. Not to mention he has a dragon coach huffing down his neck every game.

Who’s ready for some hockey?

These are the main characters of Ice Gladiators, but don’t be surprised by the appearance in the locker room (and other places) of some of the favs from Out of the Penalty Box and Defending the Net. Ice Gladiators can be read as a standalone novel, and readers will not be lost if they have not read the first two books of my sports romance series.

That’s all I have for today. I hope you have enjoyed reading about the Ice Gladiator characters. Which character are you the most excited to read about? If you are interested in reading more about their backstories or outtakes, please comment below. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for more bonus content this month. I have plenty of additional good stuff planned as the days continue to count down until release, and it includes a little something for everyone’s entertainment and enjoyment. If during that time you have anything you’d like to know or questions answered, ask me on any of my social media accounts. I will be extremely active on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook and I love to chitchat.

If you have not entered my giveaway, what are you waiting for? Enter for a chance to win great prizes.

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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 with any person, brand, or franchise. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

For information about the rules of hockey or teams, visit the National Hockey League (NHL) website.

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Writer Meeting Their Characters

Writing is fun, but it also has its odd moments. I recently asked some of my writer friends if they meet their characters. After being side-eyed, one finally fessed up that she did. I smiled at the rest because I knew they were holding out on me—cause that’s just how my friends are. They like giving me a hard time and have me thinking I’m off my rocker. And I suppose for the non-writing world, this does seem odd. So, I’ll explain what I mean.

As I’m creating a character, that is what he/she is—a creation in my head, a piece of fiction or an image that does not exist. Sometimes, it isn’t even an image, but rather, an idea in a shapeless, faceless, voiceless form. My characters usually transpire from a concept. I wouldn’t call it a plot because it is too vague and abstract. For example, it may be something as simple as a person laughing on a porch. I’ll start thinking about the porch, the kind of furniture there. Is it in the country or city? What season is it? Is it day or night? As the scene begins to flush itself out, that’s when the character develops. What kind of person would sit on this porch? Is it a man or a woman? What is he/she wearing? What does this character physically look like? Eventually, the character is given a name, but I don’t put much stock in that. I usually change a character’s name five, six, fifteen times before I settle on one that I believe is fitting to his/her personality. Because at this stage in writing, names aren’t important, and they will come in time.

What’s interesting, though, is sometimes I will write an entire story, and I’ll have a vivid picture of this character in my mind. Then, while I’m out gallivanting around town, I will see a living, breathing, walking person who I’ve never laid eyes on previously, and that person will be the spitting image of one the characters in my mind.

That recently happened after I completed Ice Gladiators and had sent it for editing. I kid you not, I was sitting in bed, channel surfing late one night. I ran across a movie I’d never seen advertised (which isn’t all that shocking for me). The scene was of two business partners disagreeing, with one on the verge of a temper tantrum. I paused to watch the meltdown play out and determine if it would be something I’d be interested in occupying my time watching—and also to determine if I would be able to pick up on the plot since I’d missed no telling how much of the beginning. It did not take me long before I was hooked. A few scenes later, I literally stopped breathing for a second and had to blink. On the screen was my Liam Jolivet, in appearance and mannerisms. He even sounded like I thought my character would sound. It gave me a sense of deja vu. There wasn’t much off about the character on the screen and the one that imagined, other than their motivation and personalities. Well, personality is a big deal; so, allow me to clarify. Much of their personalities were the same—their easygoingness and playful nature. However, the screen character was far darker than the one I envisioned for my character of Liam. And my character was slightly more modern with a different motivation and outlook on life. So, the two characters were not replicas, but it just goes to show how real characters can become to the writers who create them.

There were no other similarities between the movie and Ice Gladiators. And honestly, this is not the first time I’ve experienced this. I’ve walked into coffee shops or looked over while waiting at a red light and have seen my characters’ doppelgängers. Rarely have I ever spoken to them. That’s really very weird, and if I have, I never deluge it. I mean, how would one work that into a conversation? Besides, it may freak the other person all the way out. Heck, it freaks me out. Plus, I wouldn’t want someone to get it twisted and believe that a character is based on him/her. As I said, in the case of my Liam character, Ice Gladiators had been submitted to the publisher for weeks prior to me seeing the movie. Not only that, I had never heard or seen the movie advertised until that night. I guess it’s no different from a screenwriter who creates a character and then the casting director finds an actor who embodies or is reminiscent of the character. It just sounds really bonkers when spoken aloud.

Now, I know some people are going to ask me what was the movie. Well, I’m not going to say because I do not want people to make comparisons between the two. I think that would only serve as a distractor to both stories. And as I said, the characters’ personalities are very different. They’re also one key physical characteristic that is different between the two as well. I would like to think of the screen character as my muse, but being that I didn’t see him first, that can’t be the case. I am slightly surprised that Liam was the character that I found, though. I would have guessed it would have been another character. But then again, I spent a great deal of time developing Liam. Although it is not seen in the story (because it didn’t have a place), he has a lengthy back history. His character is complex, and there exists a certain consistency to his behavior that makes him unpredictable. I know that sounds contradictory, but once Liam is seen in the story, it makes sense.

One of the things I frequently advise other writers when we’re having a conversation about writing is that before allowing anyone to edit, proofread, critique, or beta read is to know one’s character. I firmly believe and follow this. When a writer intricately knows his/her characters, that writer is better equipped to accept and apply critiques and criticism. That is because the writer knows what he/she wants to say and the only question is the application of how its expressed. When I saw the screen character, it made me confident that I truly heard my character’s voice and envisioned his style. I knew for certain how he should come across the pages to readers.

This brings me to another point. Some writers argue that authors should reframe from providing too much detail and allow readers to fill in details for themselves. That works for some writers, but not this chic. No, I don’t want a blank canvas or even a paint by numbers. I want the reader to see what I see. As the writer, I want to create a world that readers enter and simply enjoy. I’m not going to say there’s food on the table. I’m going to details the sights, aromas, feel, and tastes of the buffet. This does not mean I’m going to bog down a story with purple prose of useless fluff. But I’m not going to leave the reader wanting for anything, either. Since I tend to write deep point of view, the reader experiences what my main character experiences, and most people don’t exist in fill-in-the-blank environments.

If you’re a writer, have you ever seen one of your characters in real life this way? If yes, how did it feel? Where were you? What was the experience like? Have you ever discussed this experience with anyone? Were you surprised? Do you generally write characters about people you know or people you know of (e.g., actors, musicians, etc.)? Have you ever introduced yourself to a stranger who reminded you of one of your characters? Let me know your experience below by leaving a comment. I look forward to reading them.

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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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Hockey Snacks

I’m back for another bonus post. Once again, I’m about to combine two of my loves. Here, on Creole Bayou, I enjoy posting recipes that give me that homey feeling. I also enjoy tailgating. I’m one of the tailgating royalty. Honestly, not being biased (but I probably am), I think tailgating is in the DNA of all southerners. (Scream at me later, okay?) And what is at the heart of all good tailgates? Food, of course. Since I’m releasing a sports romance novel, Ice Gladiators, on 02/15/20 it only seems fitting that I bring the yummy snacks to my virtual release tailgate party.  That led me to think about which foods I enjoy eating while watching a game at home or if I’m tailgating in the stadium. It didn’t take me long to come up with a few of my Creole/Cajun recipes that I whip up. These spicy treats will heat up any game day. They are also perfect for having while reading Ice Gladiators (just saying).

When starting any gameday, almost always poppers are on the menu. This treat has it all—heat, taste, and quick. The thing I love the most about poppers is that they can be dipped in a variety of sauces and can vary in heat from mild to scorching. There likely hundreds of recipes for this, and most are easy to make. Personally, I find not only that homemade poppers are tastier than the store-bought frozen ones, but they are also cheaper. I’ve had a few frozen brands that had a blah taste and all the coating crumbled off. The one below may look like it takes a lot of work, but really it doesn’t.

Hockey Jalapeno Poppers

  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cilantro
  • 2 tbs mint (fresh, chopped)
  • 3 tbs butter (melted)
  • 2 oz cream cheese (softened)
  • 2 oz cheddar cheese (shredded)
  • 2 oz pepper jack cheese (shredded)
  • ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 4 bacon slices
  • 12 jalapeno peppers

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray non-stick baking spray on a medium-size baking sheet and set aside.
  3. In a medium pan, fry bacon until crispy and dice. Set aside.
  4. Vertically, slice peppers in half and remove the seeds.
  5. Rinse the peppers and pat dry with a paper towel. Place the peppers on the baking sheet.
  6. In a medium box, mix the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cilantro, and mint. Mix well. Set aside.
  7. In a medium pan, melt butter over medium heat.
  8. Remove from heat and stir in panko bread crumbs and diced bacon.
  9. Fill the cream cheese mixture into the peppers.
  10. Bake in the oven for approximately 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and turns gold.

 

My brother hates guacamole. I don’t know what’s wrong with him because who dislike guacamole? I think he’s thrown off by the color or only has had that in the grocery store tub kind. Now, I’m not knocking grocery story guacamole, but I’ve found most of the premades to be lacking flavor and the texture to be too lumpy for my liking. Additionally, I like my guacamole at room temperature while most of the premade guacamole has been sitting in the refrigerator for days. Once cold, I find it takes a long time for it to reach room temperature again. My brother has never tasted my guacamole, and no one complains because they all divvy up his share.

Holy Hockey Guacamole

Ingredients

  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp garlic
  • 3 tsp lime juice
  • ¼ cup cilantro
  • ¼ cup red onion (diced)
  • ¼ cup jalapeno peppers
  • ½ cup roma tomatoes (diced and seeded)
  • 4 avocados (peeled, pitted, and mashed)

 

Instructions

  1. Slice the roma tomatoes in half and remove the seeds. After removing the seeds, dice and set aside.
  2. Peel and put avocado.
  3. Using a fork or a potato masher, mash the avocados in a medium bowl to the consistency of your desired choice.
  4. Add the cayenne pepper, salt, garlic, lime juice, cilantro, red onion, and jalapeno pepper. Mix until all ingredients are blended.
  5. Add tomatoes. Mix

 

What sports tailgate is complete without a big ol’ kettle of beans? This is a staple; do you hear me? This comes in especially handy if you are hosting a large group because it goes such a long way. Just whip it together, put it in a pot, and forget about it. This dish can be prepared days ahead of time and stored in the freezer for later use. Plus, this one saves a lot of coins. Now, if you want to take the time and have the patience, dried beans can be substituted, which makes this dish even less expensive. Actually, I have a friend who makes this recipe using dried beans. She soaks all the beans overnight and tosses everything in a slow cooker.

 

Hockey Kettle Beans

Ingredients

  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp Tabasco sauce
  • ¼ tsp garlic (minced)
  • 2 tbs bacon drippings
  • 3 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 2 cans pork n beans (15 oz)
  • 2 cans kidney beans (15 oz)
  • 2 cans Cannellini beans (15 oz)
  • 2 cans pinto beans
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 large onions (diced)
  • 1 lb bacon (‘cause everything is better with bacon, right?)
  • 1 lb ground beef

 

Instructions

  1. Cut the bacon into small cubes and cook in a large skillet, cook bacon until slightly crispy. Remove the bacon and set aside.
  2. Drain the bacon fat into a measuring cup and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, cook the ground beef until nearly done. Add the garlic and onion and cook until the beef is cooked thoroughly. Drain.
  4. Pour all ingredients in a slow cooker and mix well.
  5. Cook on low heat for two hours.

It’s fair to say that I love dips. Crockpot dips hold a special place in my heart because they can be prepared and remain warm for the duration of the game. It’s not uncommon for me to have several crockpot dips at a tailgate. Nearly always there is a chicken dip and a queso blanco dip. The key to this dip is stirring it until it is smooth. To help do this, I like to add my milk in parts and stir it in slowly. Skim milk also can be used, but to me, it does not make an as creamy dip. Oh, and a note about the cheese. If I’m serving a small crowd, I buy cheese from the deli, especially the pepper jack. The packaged cheese can be drying. I will caution against using imitation cheese. Imitation cheese tends to make the dip too salty and it seems to thicken faster once it begins to cook.

 

Queso Blanco Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 tbs butter (salted)
  • 4 tbs milk (whole)
  • 6 oz white American cheese
  • 6 oz pepper jack cheese
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 8 oz green chilies (undrained)

Instructions

  1. Cut cream cheese into ½ inch cubes.
  2. Add to the slow cooker
  3. Add American cheese, pepper jack cheese, butter, and green chilies.
  4. Cook on high for 30 minutes
  5. Stir well combined until blended.
  6. Add milk and stir until creamy
  7. Allow to cook until all the cheese is smooth and melted. (approximately 20 minutes)

These are some of my favorites. What are yours? What is your must-have game day snack? Tell all in the comments below. If you enjoyed this post and are interested in some of the other food-related blogs that I have posted, scroll below. Also, do not overlook participating in my giveaway.

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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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Lafayette Ice Water Moccasins

Agkistrodon piscivorus, (ag·’ki·strə·dän pə·‘si·və·rəs) better known as water moccasin, is a species of pit viper and endemic to the southeastern United States. Agkistrodon piscivorus (Isn’t that just a mouthful?) loosely translated means hooked-tooth fish eater. Another common name for this snake is cottonmouth, deriving from the white lining of its mouth which it opens wide when attacking. They grow between 2½ to 6 feet in length, weigh up to as much as ten pounds, and a have triangular head. These aren’t tiny snakes. Their habitat is in or near bodies of waters (e.g., streams, bayous, swamps, marshes, ponds, lakes, and drainage ditches), as they are semiaquatic. In fact, water moccasins are the only semiaquatic vipers in the world. These snakes are venomous, and a bite from one of them can be fatal. The venom prevents the body’s blood from clotting. Even if a bite is not fatal, it is serious and may cause internal bleeding, temporary and/or permanent muscle or tissue damage, or loss of an extremity/limb. Now, there is some debate about the degree of aggressiveness from these snakes. Many experts will say these snakes only attack when cornered, threatened, or provoked and make every attempt to avoid confrontations—or whatever the reptilian form of that is. Fine, if that’s the story they want to tell.

From personal experience growing up in the wooded bayous and encountering these belly-crawling creatures, I’ve seen these snakes stop and wait for humans to approach and even chase. They don’t retreat in fear. I’ve only seen these snakes in aggressive mode and never all lovey-dovie and cuddly. Even by trained snake handlers, at best, I’ve witnessed cottonmouths to be semi-docile—in a burlap sack! I’ve never had an experience with one that hasn’t been heart-stopping or made me want to adopt one as a pet. And I don’t care about their role or importance in the ecosystem. And as aside, when these things give birth, they don’t hatch from eggs. No, these are live births, and about ten to twenty of these snake babies make up a litter, which is probably why the bayous have so many of them. So, that’s my personal BIASED and UNPROFESSIONAL OPINION. Feel free to blast me in the comments. But for the sake of this post, I’ll pretend that I agree with the experts. According to the experts, water moccasins get a bad rep and rarely bite people. They just coil up and open their large mouths to scare away people or animals. They do not pursue fleeing people and if left alone will slink away. Uh-huh. (Okay, my pretending skills need some working on. Report me to PETA.)

My new sports romance, Ice Gladiators, being released on 02/15/20, is set in Louisiana. Anyone familiar with the area knows it rarely sleets or snows there. However, there is an abundance of snakes, especially water moccasins. And what would you expect from a state with cities below sea level and trenched with bayous? So, when I was considering names for the hockey team in the story, water moccasin was the first name that popped into my head. Not only that, some characters do seem a bit snaky, at least, at times. Besides, what would I look like naming them the Lafayette Bunnies or Louisiana Shrimps?

I chose Lafayette as the Water Moccasins’ home for no other reason than it is a beautiful city, rich in culture. It also happens to be the fourth largest city in the state, making it more than large enough to home a professional sporting team. Lafayette’s population is approximately 130,000. If you haven’t visited there, I encourage you to put it on your bucket list.

The Lafayette Ice Water Moccasins are an affiliate and/or development hockey for the Saint Anne Civets. As with any other professional hockey team, the Water Moccasins have a roster of twenty-three players, comprised of twenty-one skaters and two goaltenders. Their colors are black, vermilion, and purple. Black represents the color of adult water moccasins. Not all adults are black, but they are dark. Vermilion was chosen as the color for several reasons. One common association made with Louisiana is the Creole and Cajun food, which use lots of spices. Traditional Creole and Cajun spice are a reddish-brown/russet color. The function of spice is to add relish or zest to food. Each character brings a different enthusiasm and/or attitude to both the team and story. Purple is one of the trio colors of Mardi Gras, a celebration in Louisiana that rivals the commercialism and celebration of Christmas. It is not an understatement to say Mardi Gras is a big deal. Most businesses and schools close the week of Carnival. In the past, I’ve written several posts about Mardi Gras/Carnival (which, btw, is fast approaching) and the significance of the colors. I’ll list the links below. While some may associate the color purple with royalty, with regards to Mardi Gras, it typically is associated with justice. Without giving away spoilers, this color choice was the most logical.

The Water Moccasin team is owned by the Whittle, Darbonne, & Shaw Corporation, and the head coach is Randell Pernell. The team was founded in 1971 and became an affiliate of the Civets in 1977. Overall, the team has many talented players. However, this is not reflected in the statistics. The team struggles financially because very little investment has been put into it by the owners and also due to hockey not being as popular in the south as other sports. As a result, the team works with dated equipment and in a substandard arena. Players join and remain on the team because they love the sport.

Just as an aside, I know some may be wondering why in the world would an ice hockey team be based in a state known to be hotter than Hades—Hades is the Greek god of the dead and the underworld. Believe it or not, it does occasionally (as in every couple of years or so) sleet and/or snow in Louisiana. The annual snowfall is approximately 0.2 inches, which is enough to shut down entire cities. Don’t be snickering about our frozen precipitation challenges. One can’t learn to maneuver in what doesn’t occur. However, there is a market; although nowhere close to the market for football, baseball, and basketball, for ice hockey here. In fact, there have been several professional and semi-professional hockey teams in Louisiana including Alexandria Warthogs, Baton Rouge Kingfish, Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs, Cajun Catahoulas, Lake Chares Ice Pirates, Louisiana Ice Gators, Monroe, Moccasins, and New Orleans Brass.

What is your opinion on water moccasins or snakes in general? Are you a lover, hater, or indifferent? Have you ever encountered or had an experience with a cottonmouth? Have you or someone you know ever been bitten by one? I would apologize for my prejudice towards water moccasins, only, I’m not sorry. I’m not a snake person, and my animosity towards water moccasins is personal and stems from almost being bitten as a kid. It was in a tree on a branch above my head where I was playing. I have friends and associates that are fond of reptiles, but I’m just not that girl. And while I dislike snakes, I do not advocate for their gratuitous or unnecessary slaughter. Again, I stress that I not a zoologist, veterinarian, or any other type of animal expert and cannot attest a professional opinion on water moccasin behavior. All I have is an individual, subjective opinion.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more like this, please like, comment, and follow. Also, spread the word so your friends can enjoy it, too. As the expression goes, sharing is caring.

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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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How to Deal with Rejection

Hello once again to a celebratory bonus post as I count down the days to the release of my upcoming sports romance, Ice Gladiators, on 02/15/20. The content of the bonus posts stems from anything related to any aspect of Ice Gladiators. As you may recall, a few weeks ago, I wrote a post about how to cope with loss. I’ll list the link below at the end. Today’s post is of a similar topic—how to deal with rejection. Rejection is a lot like loss and can be a loss, but it’s is not always the same.  Loss is the feeling or state of grief when deprived of something of value or someone. The definition of rejection is the refusing or dismissing of an idea or proposal or the spurning of one’s affections. The word rejection derives from the Latin word rēicere that means “thrown back.” There is an underlying assumption that to lose something, one must first have possessed it. Rejection may occur before one obtains the desired object or affection from another.

Rejection is a continuum. There are both minor and major rejections with a boatload sandwiched in between. Usually, but again, not always, rejection hurts, ruins the mood, and sours one’s outlook. There always are exceptions.

According to one study, the area of the brain that is responsible for a person to feel physical pain is the same area that is activated when a person experiences rejection. Thus, the reaction is biological. However, instead of eliciting physical pain, it manifests itself in emotional pain. The theory behind why the same area of the brain is activated to me is fascinating and can be traced back to Charles Darwin, in his 1872 book, The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals.

Now, let me stop here and make a disclaimer. This article is not a debate about Evolution versus Creationism. I am not attempting to sway any personal or religious beliefs. Evolution is being presented here to offer and illustrate one theory of why a person feels pain when experiencing rejection.

Basically, the way rejection fits into Darwin’s theory or is explained biologically is that early man lived in tribes that obtained most food from gathering wild plants and hunting/fishing. Food collected by one member of the tribe was shared amongst all members. It also was easier to hunt large game and transport the kill back to the village with larger sums of people. Tribe members heavily depended on each other and worked together as a unit. Therefore, being isolated from one’s tribe limited one’s chances of survival. That feeling became recognized, and the fear of isolation or being ostracized (e.g., being rejected by one’s tribe) developed. To avoid being isolated or ostracized, members would alter or change their behavior to be more acceptable with the tribe. Acceptance, of course, is the opposite of rejection. Therefore, the body physically responses to the possibility of rejection as a warning for a person to change his/her behavior and maintain acceptance in society to increase survival.

The positive here is that since rejection was a learned conditioned that evolved, people are able to learn coping skills and how to effectively cope with rejection. The following are some common methods to overcome rejection.

  1. Perhaps the first step to dealing with rejection is getting over the fear to act. If a person does not make the attempt, then rejection will not come because the person does not allow for the opportunity. However, by not allowing for rejection, the person also may be disallowing for rejection. For example, if a person desires a promotion at work but does not apply for the position, the person will not be rejected for the position because he/she has failed to be considered. One must overcome his/her fear of rejection and face it because fear is an element that will keep a person stagnant. In other words, to be rejected one first must put self out there. Go for it.
  2. Don’t panic. Panic is a type of fear, and as stated, fear can cause a person to be immobile when one should be active. Do not allow imagination to dominate not automatically think you will not be accepted. The key is to be comfortable with facing that risk. Believe that you are emotionally strong enough to handle any outcome.
  3. As with loss, acknowledge that rejection happens to everyone at some point in time. It is not personal. Rejection fails to discriminate and will veer its ugly head at any given time in any situation that acceptance is not guaranteed. Most rejections are temporary and will pass in time and may occur for numerous reasons. It could be ill-timing or political behind the scenes stuff. It may be personal conflicts or disagreements. Or maybe the rejection occurs due to unavoidable limitations or cutoffs.
  4. Take everything with a spoonful of salt. This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. Do not internalize the rejection as being a personal issue. There may be numerous reasons why rejection occurs. To cope with rejection, it helps to identify the source or the reason for the rejection. However, the analysis of why this has occurred should be objective and realistic.
  5. After one has determined a list of possible reasons or pinpointed why the rejection happened, develop alternatives to prevent similar outcomes in the future. Better yet, this step may be done before approaching a situation in an effort to strategize. Being prepared helps to stave off rejection and having a backup plan reduces the pain and anxiety of rejection. Consider a student applying for college. Applying to one college may really hurt if not accepted. However, if the student has applied to multiple colleges and gets his/her second choice, the blow of not getting his/her first choice may not sting as much.
  6. Do not wrap self-esteem into rejection. Rejection does not define a person. For times there are rejections, there also has been acceptances and successes. Situations need to be qualified so that a person does not tear himself/herself down needlessly.
  7. Rejection can be a source of learning and growth. There is no other way to put it. It may be a difficult lesson, but if a person analysis the situation correctly, he/she can benefit from the lesson.
  8. Realize there will be other opportunities and try again. A co-worker was fired from her job over a petty matter. The person who pushed the issue for her termination had a vendetta against her and was waiting in the shadows for a reason. Once she found one, she pounced. At first, my co-worker was devastated. However, she went on to get a better job and an advanced degree. She’s now able to travel with the extra cash since her new job pays more, and she has more time off. As an added bonus, the job carries with it less stress and matches better with her personality. Being fired (which is more of a loss than a rejection) ended up being in her best interest. That was the first scenario that came to mind. I also know of people who applied and were denied admission to social organizations and have prospered by not being a part of it. One person I know stated that had she been accepted in an organization years ago, her membership would have prohibited her from being part of some of the activities she currently participates. Which leads to the next point.
  9. Not all rejection is bad.
  10. Imagine the worst-case scenario and negative outcome first and prepare how to deal with it. This goes back to earlier facing fear and developing an alternative plan. However, suppose there is no other alternative. Inthe applying to college example, suppose the student was rejected from all colleges applied. The student then may want to consider taking a class to improve a test score or auditing a class. Or the student may find a job in a similar field and later use that experience to reapply. Another alternative may be that the student enrolls in vocational classes or becomes an apprentice. The idea is to become comfortable with not achieving the desired outcome before the rejection happens. This does not mean negative thinking and psyching oneself out of doing something. This is more along the line of hope for the best but prepare for the worse. Imagining the worse will cushion the blow should the worse happen.
  11. Optimize chances for success. This is a biggie that most people ignore. One should always do one’s homework and attempt to tilt the playing field in one’s favor. Going back to the student example, if the student wishes to enroll in university X, then the student should be familiar with the admission criteria and try to meet it. Follow the directions of the task. I saw a person arrive at an interview in shorts, a t-shirt, and no resume. He did not have any prepared answers for the interview and seemed annoyed when asked relevant questions by the employer. Despite all of this, he was offered a probationary position to prove himself. Instead of being grateful, be balked at it. He likely would have been offered the position he wanted had he made an attempt to present himself as professional.

What are some times that you felt rejected? How did you cope with it? If you like this article, please click the like button below to let me know you enjoy this type of content and would like to see more. Also, if you have any questions about anything herein, please leave those comments below. I post weekly on Wednesdays. Be sure to follow me on my other social media platforms. I publish a monthly newsletter that includes exclusive insiders and giveaways for subscribers.

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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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