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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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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Resources

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.

Resources:

Book Reviews Are Not for Authors

Let’s talk book reviews and open the Pandora’s Box of horrors. True or false. Authors shouldn’t read their book reviews. Well… I dare say that most people would answer that as being true. And there certainly is enough evidence to support why it should be true. But I’m climbing out on that proverbial limb over a pool of quicksand and will answer false. Yeah, y’all knew I was going to say that, huh?

Okay, so let’s dive into it and dissect this thing like a rotting piece of flesh loaded with microbacteria it can become. I see both sides of this issue. The purpose of a book review is for a reader who actually has read the book (and that’s an important point to make because some don’t) to leave an opinion to help other readers (who haven’t read the book) decide whether or not they want to read it. Ideally, that is how it supposed to work. Unfortunately, it does not always work that way.

I love when people review my books. It doesn’t matter if it’s a good, bad, or meh. I hope and want to get good reviews, but if I don’t, that’s okay. As a writer, I put myself out there, and that leaves my work open for criticism. I understand that my books may not be for everyone. It would be unrealistic for me to expect that all readers will fall in love with the characters I create. A reader may like one of my books but not another. Not everything is going to please everyone all of the time. The negative reviews, if they are constructive, I use to improve my next work. I listen to my readers. Here’s the truth of the matter. It is you, my readers, that allow me to do what I do. If I’m not giving you want, then I need to know that. I also need to know what I’m doing right and what I should do more. It is the constructive criticism from my editors, betas, critique partners, and readers that allow me to grow and improve. Literally, Ice Gladiators would not exist if I hadn’t received so much feedback from readers stating they wanted more sports romance.

That isn’t to say that negative reviews don’t sting. They can and often do. However, a writer shouldn’t lose perspective. I once received a negative review years ago from someone who obviously hadn’t read my book. Being a fairly new author, I didn’t know how to react. What bothered me about the review wasn’t that it was negative. It was because it was wrong. No, I don’t mean the reviewer’s opinion was wrong. Everyone is entitled to have an opinion. What was wrong what the reviewer wrote. She had characters confused and wrote things that sounded like it might happen from the blurb but never happened in the book. The timeline the review described was out of order and the plot summary completely incorrect. Frankly, it left me baffled and scratching my head. Now, had this been my only review or I had multiple reviews saying similar things, I would have thought that the story was not clear. But this review was an isolated incident. Even others who did not jive very well with the story did not list those types of discrepancies. My concern was if other readers read it, they would think my story was a hot ass mess.

So, how did I deal with it? I let it exist. What else was there for me to do? Make a big deal about it? Get into a cyber argument with someone I didn’t know over something I knew to be false? Stalk the person through social media and begin a bullying campaign until I got an apology? Contact the site and have it deleted? (I don’t know if that last was even possible.) No, my response was to treat myself to a double scoop of ice cream because I had other reviews, which meant some readers actually did read my story. Some readers did enjoy it. One reviewer called one of my characters an obscenity, and I got such a kick out of that. Why? Because that was how I had written the character, and I had managed to communicate that effectively through words. I accomplished my goal. That was a positive.

Another thing I see happening with reviews is that instead of a reader offering an opinion, he/she gives a summary … with SPOILERS. Oh, man, that blows when that happens. But it happens. This is one of the reasons that I rarely read reviews for other author’s books that I’m interested in reading. I don’t want to know that Jane is really Sally’s mom if that’s the twist. As an author, I do sometimes worry that this type of review may ruin the reading experience for some. However, I think many people reading the reviews will see a spoiler coming and stop reading. Some reviewers are kind enough to list a spoiler alert tag on the review.

Authors should remember that reading reviews is a choice. There is no law or declaration that mandates authors read their book reviews. And even if an author decides to read their reviews, they are not obligated to read all of their reviews. Some sites offer settings that allow authors to hide negative reviews from themselves while allowing the public to see them. It is important to remember that book reviews are about the book and not the author as a person. Authors who fail to make a separation from themselves and their stories will surely be disappointed. A few reviewers may make it personal, but most do not. Reviewers are people who enjoy reading books. They leave reviews because they have taken the time to read (hopefully) the author’s book and wishes to share his/her thoughts with others. What is written is about what was read and the effectiveness of the person writing the story. That being said, there are some reviewers who are trolls. Their purpose is to maliciously attack authors. Personally, I believe this is a very small percent of reviewers. However, if a reviewer does cross the line, an author does have an option to report that review to the site for violating the terms of service. This only should be done if the reviewer truly has crossed the line and become disparaging or threatening and not simply because the author dislikes what was said.

It is important that an author not allow a negative review to hinder his/her creative process. There are many stories about how famous authors, playwriters, and screenwriters have been rejected and heavily criticized in their early years. Can you imagine how the person who rejected Stephen King or J.K. Rowling feels now? They didn’t prevent a small dose of negativity prevent them from striving forward. There is the old adage: that which does not kill makes one stronger.

Authors should also remember that when they decide to publish a work, they are putting it out there for public consumption. They want people to read and talk about it. Well, reviewers do read and discuss what they read. There was never a guarantee when the work was being published that all that would be said about it was positive things.

So far, I’ve mostly been discussing negative reviews. Yet, something needs to be said for positive reviews. If one is not careful, positive reviews can be destructive. A few years ago, I was in a writing group, and a writer posted an excerpt and asked for feedback. The work was atrocious. Now, as a fellow writer, I do not say that lightly. This work was worse than some of my very first drafts. One of the biggest issues was the writer was writing to market in a language he was not fluent in speaking or writing. Okay, so, let me just let this elephant straight out of the closet. I am not saying that a writer cannot write in a language not native to him/her. What I’m saying is, that the writer has to learn the language. That writer cannot and should not expect readers to overlook poor writing. Writing is a job. It is a discipline. Anyone deciding to make it a career must make the effort to do the work. So, when the negative reviews/critiques started pouring in, some members thought the criticism was too harsh and bullish. I was going to offer an opinion but didn’t because I didn’t want to be accused of being an elitist snob. But the work was incomprehensible. Spelling was like solving a word jumble puzzle, and once you got that solved, the sentence structure was so screwed up it made no sense. There was no formatting and limited punctuation. One couldn’t even tell where thoughts began or ended because there also was no capitalization. Verb tenses were all over the place, which didn’t help since he was head-hopping. My suggestion would have been to write it in his native language and then hire a translator. But as I said, I kept my opinion to myself.

But wasn’t I supposed to be discussing positive reviews? I’m getting there. So, after several hours of back-and-forth, writers who legitimately were attempting to help, went radio silent. What was left was coddling reviews that were neither truthful or helpful. They stroke the writer’s ego and encouraged that his writing problems were not severe. Some went as far as encouraging him to self-publish without further editing because he would get better the more books he wrote. Like hell! Okay, I don’t generally flip out like that, but that really worked my nerves that someone would intentionally publish a subpar product. In my opinion, that reflects poorly on the entire writing community, especially self-published authors. Although I am not self-published, I can respect the journey indie authors have taken. For years, they were branded as “fakes,” “wannabes,” and “second-rate.” They have struggled to prove themselves and carve a place in the writing world. Some invest thousands of dollars to ensure that they create the best book possible. And here, someone basically snubs their nose at industry standards due to unwarranted and inflated feedback from reviewers.

Even if a work is good, positive reviews must be kept in perspective. Egos must remain in check. I read a magazine story about a famous author who felt she had become beyond criticism. When she received negative reviews from readers for one of her novels, she stated that the persons posting were either jealous or incompetent. The book was profitable because it sold on the power of her name. For her next novel, she decided she didn’t need professional critiquing either. She refused in-house editing. This book sold as well. However, if her book sales are analyzed, it’s obvious that her later works are considerably lower than that of her early works. She is losing readers. I can’t speak for her or read her mind, but it appears that she does not care about the loss of readers. She continues to have an enormous fanbase. That’s not the case for most writers.

So, that is my two-cents on book reviews. As previously mentioned, I do enjoy reading all the reviews. If you pick up a copy of Ice Gladiators, please consider leaving me one Amazon or Goodreads or both. Reviews are one of the best ways for readers to help authors get their books into the hands of readers. I thank and appreciate everyone who has ever left me a review.

 

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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

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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Writing resources:

Hockey Superstitions

Welcome again to my continued celebration for the release of my new sports romance, Ice Gladiators, that will go live on 02/15/20. In celebration of this release, I’m doing a series of bonus posts all this month on topics that in any way relates to Ice Gladiators.

Triskaidekaphobia. Never heard of it? Well, how about paraskevidekatriaphobia. Never heard of it, either? Well, neither had I, at least, not by those names. So, let’s dissect these. Phobias are extreme fears. Triskaidekaphobia (TRIS·kye·DEK·ə·FOH·bee·ə) is the fear of the number thirteen. In numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of “completion.” Since thirteen follows twelve, it is considered as being insignificant. Thirteen also is considered evil.

Paraskevidekatriaphobia (PARAS·kye·DeK·ə·tric·ə·FOH·bee·ə) is more than a tongue twister. It is the name for the irrational fear of Friday the 13th. No, not the slasher movies, the date. Many people have a true fear of this date believing it is unlucky or some unfortunate/negative event will occur. It is estimated that approximately 8% of people have this phobia. Fears/phobias and superstitions are not the same thing. While fears, phobias, and superstitions may coexist and be related, fears and phobias do not necessarily lead to superstitions. In short, having a fear or a phobia does not cause one to engage in superstitious behavior. A person holds a superstition because he/she makes an assumption that if a particular behavior is not performed, it will result in a negative (or sometimes positive) consequence.

So, why am I discussing this? From the title of this article, you probably have a good idea as to why. Superstition is nothing new to sports, and it surely is nothing new to hockey. Many players have them.

What is superstition? According to the dictionary definition, a superstition is an unjustified or excessively credulous belief, reverence, or practice resulting from the trust in luck or magic, fear of the unknown, or ignorance. It is a belief in mystical causation leading to specific consequences of an event or action and/or an irrational abject attitude of mind toward the supernatural, perception retained despite indication or evidence to the contrary, and/or a false conception of causation, nature, or God resulting from superstition. Now, isn’t that a mouthful.

Now that the superstition is defined, what are some of the superstitions found in hockey? There are many, that’s for sure. Some are quite bizarre while others are so subtle, they may go unnoticed. Listed below are some of the more common superstitions seen in hockey. They are listed in no particular order or significance.

  1. No matter what sport, all athletes must get from the dressing room to the playing field. In hockey, the playing field is, of course, the ice. Now, one may think this is a no brainer and wonder why it’s mentioned here. It’s because, for many hockey teams, the march to the ice is a big deal. Many teams have a lineup order. Others may not have a line order but have a superstition about who should lead the team to the rink. For some teams, it is the goalie, and for others, it is the captain. Yet, others may be led by the player who scored their last winning goal.
  2. But getting onto the ice isn’t the only journey superstition. Getting off of the ice has its superstitions, too. Some players feel they must be the last player to leave the ice after the conclusion of a game or the end of each period. This can be problematic if two players in the same game hold this superstition. One example of this is Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars and Mark Scheifele of the Winnipeg Jets. These two players have settled who is the last to go off the ice in some interesting ways including flipping coins and playing rock, paper, scissors. Yes, they really did that.
  3. In the 1980s, the New York Rangers had a series of playoff and championship wins. During that time, none of the players shaved. It is said this is where this next superstition originated. It’s commonly referred to as the playoff beards. During playoffs, hockey players do not shave and allow their beards to grow.
  4. Players tapping their sticks on the ice is not an unfamiliar sight to most fans. However, for many players, tapping their sticks is an important ritual they must complete. Some players may need to tap their stick a designated number of times. Others may need to engage in the behavior in a particular spot on the ice. Then, for some players, they may need to do this before or after a specific drill or task.
  5. Another superstition fans may witness players engaging in, especially during pre-game warmup is, flipping the puck or stickhandling. It may seem like harmless horseplay (puck play) or showing off, but many times this is serious business for players. Some players engage in the superstition by flipping the puck in his hands. Others do so by flipping the puck and catching the puck on their stick. Again, they may have a designated number of times that they must flip the puck. They believe engaging in this behavior will affect their performance in some way.
  6. Probably the most common hockey superstition is the ritual of taping the stick. Just about every player has a preferred and unique way of taping his sticks. These may include the type of tape used, the direction in wrapping, the number of times the tape must wound around the stick, and too many others to mention them all here. If the tape isn’t wrapped precisely, the player takes all the tape off and begins again. Some players are noted to not allow anyone else to touch their sticks once they have taped them. If this happens, the player may untape them and begin the ritual again.
  7. And speaking of not touching, the is a superstition that players cannot touch the championship trophy until their team has won it. Touching the trophy that hasn’t been won will bring bad luck to the entire team. So, even for players who aren’t superstitious, their superstitious teammates keep them in check.
  8. One superstition that fans may not see is players getting into the zone by listening to music. This may not seem superstitious since many people use music to unwind, relax, or focus. I use it while writing. What makes this a superstition for many players is that they never alter their playlist. They must listen to the same songs in the same order before each game.
  9. Music isn’t the only thing that has to be in order. Some players must dress in a certain order. For example, a player may put on his left sock first and then the right followed the left skate and then the right, left shin pad followed by the right, etc. This behavior is often referred to as left-right-left or right-left-right, depending on the direction the player begins dressing.
  10. Along the same lines, some players are superstitious regarding changing anything about their routine on game day. They may start by eating the same breakfast, drinking the same number of beverages, wearing the same clothes (sometimes without washing—imagine how that must smell…foul!). Instead of replacing worn clothes, they have them mended or patched. It may also include driving the same route to the arena, parking in the same spot, using the same exercise machines in the same order, using the same soaps or deodorants, or playing the same pre-warmup games.
  11. Now, let’s talk goaltenders. There are two superstitions specifically involving goalies that I want to mention. First, some goalies hit the post or the crossbar before the start of each game or each period while others talk to the goals. Personally, I’ve always wondered about that conversation. I’d image it’s pretty one-sided.
  12. Second, and I’m unsure if this stems from the goalie as personal superstition or from the team as a whole, but players tap the goalie’s pads before face-offs and after blocking goals. To fans, this may seem a congratulatory or well-wishing behavior, but for a lot of players, this is a full-blown superstition that they must do.
  13. Finally, I’ll end with a thirteenth superstition (cause I’m special that way). This last superstition is called the hat trick. After a player scores three goals in the same game, fans toss their hats/caps onto the ice. Originally, the goals scores had to be consecutive with no other player scoring in between. However, now the term-hat trick is used more generally, and natural hat-trick is sometimes used to refer to consecutive goals. There are many legends about how this tradition started. Some hypothesize because hats were given to any player who scored three goals in a game. According to the Hockey Hall of Fame, the term came to be due to Alex Kaleta making a deal with a store owner. Reported, Kaleta entered a store to purchase a hat. He didn’t have enough money, and the store owner agreed to give him a hat if he scored three goals in the game later that night. Kaleta ended up scoring four goals, and the store owner made good on the deal. By definition, this may not be a superstition, but some fans may feel that breaking this tradition will bring a team bad luck. Thus, it’s included in this article.

What are your thoughts on superstitions? Do you have any superstitions of your own? What hockey superstitions did I overlook that should have been listed here? What is the wildest superstition you have ever heard of? Sound off in the comments below. I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions. If you enjoyed this type of post, please click the like button and give me a follow. Also, if you know someone else who would enjoy this post, please share it with 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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DISCLAIMER: This post is not sponsored or affiliated in any way with any of the people, brands, or franchises mentioned herein. Links to their websites are listed for the convenience of readers who desire more information about those people, brands, or franchises.

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Sports Romance Writing Tips: How to Write Sports Romance

All this month, I’m celebrating the release of my sports romance, Ice Gladiators. In the spirit of the release, I’m sharing posts of all my passions and how they are related in some way to Ice Gladiators. Regulars of Creole Bayou, my blog about anything and everything Creole and Cajun related as well as romance and writing, know that I dedicate the first Wednesday of every month to a writing-related post. I do not wish to disappoint today. Today, I thought I’d write about what I found useful in writing a sports romance.

Sports romance is something that I began writing about three years ago. It’s interesting because it was not my intention to write a sports romance initially; although, it did seem like the logical thing to do. What truly prompted me to attempt writing in this subgenre was I met a writer who stated he wrote rock fiction. I like to refer to it as music fiction because according to him, any type of music (e.g., classical, punk, blues, country, etc.) can be used and considered rock fiction. Basically, a story in this subgenre is based on a song or a cluster of songs, and the influence of the lyrics of that music can be seen throughout the story. This fascinated me.

Rock fiction entails more than being inspired by music. Therefore, writing rock fiction is much harder than it sounds. Music is the principle story even if is not apparent in the story’s plot. The characters may have the names of the musicians or the setting is a place sung about on the song. The title may even be the same as the music title. It’s all intricate, and I do not claim to be an expert. I attempted to write a rock fiction story and failed. The story turned out decent, but in the end, it wasn’t rock fiction, which just goes to illiterate again on another level how difficult fiction writing can be.

When I learned that music could be used to write stories this way, this further encouraged me to combine my two loves of romance and sports. I found this to be a niche for me and a genre that I could write organically. I have dabbled in multiple other genres for challenges and not all of them have turned out well. And while I believe a person could learn to write in any genre of choice, it’s my philosophy that writers tend to have natural talents in writing some genres. As the saying goes, they take to it like a duck to water. And I also will say that some writers have this natural ability to write in multiple genres. When I speak of natural ability, this is not to discredit or diminish education or learning. Many writers have discussed how they began writing in one genre but over time discovered they were better suited in another. However, that is slightly off-topic. My point was that learning about rock fiction solidified my ideas about combining the two passions that I love.

But prior to one jumping in to write a sports romance, there are a few guidelines to consider. Again, I would like to note that while some people use the terms guidelines and rules synonymously, there is a difference between the two. Guidelines are suggestions that are optional to follow. Rules are agreed upon standard practices by experts, lawmakers, and/or the general public that when deviated from will result in some type of consequence (e.g., fines, jail, criticism, rejection, etc.). These are more rigid. Grammar has rules. Writing stories, in general, mostly has guidelines. The following are guidelines that I have found to be useful.

  1. There is a difference between writing a story with an athletic main character(s) who falls in love and one where the sport has a role in the story. In other words, if you can change the character’s profession to any other profession and it makes very little difference, it isn’t a sports romance. For example, many 1950s family sitcoms portrayed a working father, stay-at-home mother, and 2-3 school children. The sitcom focused on the family. Although the father worked, many times the father’s job wasn’t specified or shown. That’s because it wasn’t crucial. In a sports romance, sports should have a part to make it noticeable in the story. Sports romances are, first and far most, a romance. Therefore, they follow all the normal rules of the romance genre. However, there are some differences that writers should be aware.
  2. It is important to know the sport you are writing about because your readers will. Funny aside. I began writing Ice Gladiator’s before I finished all of Defending the net final edits. I accidentally mixed up a detail about two of my characters. That minor mix-up caused me to write a line that broke a hockey rule. The rule was one that many readers wouldn’t have paid attention to, and it had snuck past a lot, including two editors. But one did, and I was busted. The silver lining is it was a beta who caught it. The correction involved changing two words.
  3. Knowing the sport really allows the story to sound more authentic. Readers want credible stories.
  4. That being said, if your work is fiction, there is room for creative license. For example, in you wanted to add a fictitious team to a national league, you can. If you want your favorite team who lost the playoffs to win, you can rewrite in your story that they did. Of course, someone may call you out for it. You can add and omit rules. It just has to clear to the reader that the change is intentional.
  5. While sports need to be present in the story, it does not need to dominate it. There must be a balance. If the sports overshadow the romance, then, it’s no longer a sports romance. It’s a sports story with a romantic subplot.
  6. Don’t make it too technical. Readers are coming for the romance. They may not be very knowledgeable about sports. Any noncommon sports jargon needs to be explained in order to avoid ostracizing readers. Use simple language and get through the explanation quickly. Readers want to feel included without feeling inadequate. However, don’t exclude all sports talk.
  7. On the flip side, do not dummy it down to the point of dribble. Readers do not enjoy feeling patronized. Do not assume your audience knows nothing or is a novice. Instead, consider that most are not “experts” but that they have a general knowledge of the sport.
  8. Have fun with it. People watch and participate in sports for entertainment. When writing a sports romance, the writes should have an equal amount of fun.
  9. Be sure that you acquire editors and betas who know the sport. If you make a mistake, then you want that to be resolved prior to publication.
  10. Have diversity in your players. They shouldn’t all sound the same. Avoid making them typical or a cliché. Allow them to be more than one note.

That wraps up this post. I hope that this information is helpful. Now, I’d like to know how many of you are writers of sports romance or are considering writing a sports romance. What is your favorite part of the genre? What are your dos and don’ts in sports romance? What is your favorite sport to see in sports romance? What sport have you not seen in a sports romance but are interested in seeing? Please leave your comments below. As always, I enjoy hearing from readers and will answer any comments or questions. Don’t forget to check out my giveaway that is going on this month. The details for entry are listed 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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Saint Anne, Louisana

Bienvenue en Louisiane! Welcome to Saint Anne!

Where? What? Why? If you’re asking these questions, sit back, grab a cool one, and let me explain.

My new sports romance, Ice Gladiators, mainly takes place in fictional Saint Anne, as did my previous sports romances, Out of the Penalty Box and Defending the Net. But Saint Anne is more than just a made-up name. It has a backstory that some may find interesting. I presented some of the history in a previous blog post prior to the release of DTN. It focused on the origins of the city. You can read that post, entitled “Saint Anne, Louisiana,” at https://bit.ly/315NmUe. Today’s post, however, will focus on the current city and not so much the history. So, take with me, if you will, a brief excursion to this historical Dixieland of my imagination. One may note some similarities to another very popular city in Louisiana, and this is no accident. Inspiration was drawn from that other city.

So, where exactly is Saint Anne? Well, pull out your map, and I’ll show you. Saint Anne is a consolidated parish-city cozied in southeast Louisiana along the scenic Mississippi River in western Jefferson Parish near New Orleans and founded in 1726 by the great step-nephew of Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, Roche d’Iberville. As with many of the locations in Louisiana, names of many cities, streets, rivers/bayous, and establishments bear the name of Catholic saints, monarchs, and persons of the French aristocracy. Saint Anne is no different. Named after Saint Anne of David’s house, mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus, Saint Anne has a population of approximately 97,000 residents. Stacked with cafés specializing in lavish, authentic Creole and Cajun cuisine, scrumptious beignets and pastries, and other extravagant foods, Saint Anne is the hub of a buzzing food scene prepared by world-renown chefs.

Take a stroll along some of Saint Anne’s oldest streets and marvel at the glorious mansions of the old world and era gone past—from the lavishness of plantations to the hipped roofed double-gallery houses to the simplicity of renovated shotgun homes. The city is filled with beautiful cathedrals with steeples that tower in the skyline and intricately detailed statues. See the influences of the Caribbean, Creole, French, and Spanish in the designs. While marveling at the rich opulence of centuries of architecture, indulge in the ambiance of beautiful gardens of colorful blooms and sweet aromas or lounge in one of the private courtyards and watch the golden sunset over the bayous. For nature buffs, the Saint Anne wetlands are rich with wildlife, and there is no shortage of river tours. Just don’t dangle any appendages too close to the water. It would be most unfortunate to have one snapped off suddenly for a reptilian dinner.

If learning about culture is your thing, have an evening constitution is the Historic District lined with museums, but be cautious walking the boulevards that sporadically branch into seventeenth-century alleyways and lead to haunted cemeteries where one might catch sight of a spirt or two. That shiver down your spine, while you creep past one of the above-ground tombs, may not be just the wind tickling your neck. Those regaled stories hold much truth. The best part is that natives won’t give weird or suspicious stares if one tells the story of such an encounter. For a less ethereal “interaction”, visit a parlor and listen to old wives orate tantalizing tales of voodoo and ghost stories. Or maybe just have your fortune read.

New York may be said to be a melting pot, but Saint Anne is not to be ignored. Saint Anne is a gem of culture—a city that has never lost its roots—and it holds its own with the best metropolitan areas. It maintains a working streetcar transit system throughout the downtown districts, which has been in operation since the early 1900s. In fact, the oldest car had been running since 1906 and still ran with a top speed exceeded no more than twenty-five miles per hour. The speed cap is strictly enforced by the Saint Anne Regional Transit Authority (SARTA). For most patrons and visitors of the downtown area, streetcars are the preferred mode of travel due to the narrow streets, lack of parking, crows of people, and traffic congestion. Cars are parked in garages on the outskirts of the Square. This system also is convenient for those who indulge in adult beverages and need a safe transport home. (BTW, Saint Anne has local brewery and wineries in addition to the numerous bars and pubs. And open-container is allowed in the downtown area.)

One can immerse in Zydeco music, swanky blues, or the jazzy nightlife. The bar scene also is popping with aged booze and hot bodies. Not only is it the home to the Saint Anne Civets, but it is also home to the Saint Anne Hounds football team. (Psst. Who’s up for a little touch football in the future? There’s a certain quarterback who has a story to tell.)

Speaking of diversity, Saint Anne’s has one of the most diverse populations in the United States. That is why often my stories contain languages other than English (which are translated) and characters from other countries. I truly believe diversity is the spice of life, and the spicier, the better.

Why do a post on a fictional city? That’s simple to answer. Saint Anne is the backdrop in all of my sports romances and is mentioned in several of my published short stories. Sometimes, I get asked questions as to why something is, especially about the transit system. It may seem odd that characters drive to a building but later get on a streetcar. This is not unusual, though, in Saint Anne or that other city with the famous Square. Or should I say, Quarter?

I also enjoy showing readers my writing process. Saint Anne, in my mind, is very well mapped. I decided to create a fictional city because I wanted the liberty to have the layout as I desired. If I had simply set the characters in another town, I undoubtedly would have been dragged for having locations in the wrong place. I’d hear, “that bar isn’t on that street,” or “that area isn’t zoned for that type of establishment.” I know. It’s called creative license. However, some readers prefer accurate descriptions of locations, and it is jarring to them when an author begins to switch things up. To avoid this situation, I created Saint Anne where everything is where I need and want it to be. Basically, it is how I would reroute that other city if I had the choice—not that I don’t love that place. In fact, I adore it, and that is why I used it as my muse location. Besides, it is fun to create a new city. It’s a type of worldbuilding on a much smaller scale.

That concludes all that I wanted to discuss today. Thank you for reading along and entering my world of Saint Anne and Ice Gladiators. If you would like to read more about the city of Saint Anne, please comment and let me know. I would enjoy sharing it with you. Please tell me about your favorite city or hometown in the comment below. Or just leave a comment on what city you live in. Also, in the future, would you like to read more about the other cities that I have created? If you found this article interesting, please feel free to share it with family and friends. And be sure to keep a lookout for more bonus posts and giveaways that are happening this month. Read to the end to get details.

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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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