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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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:

Ice Gladiators Blitz Q&A

I honestly had not expected to do a part three of behind the scenes of Ice Gladiators, but I received so many more questions, I felt that I had to answer. I am thrilled to have so many people interested, and everyone knows I aim to please. However, these questions were more general in nature than previous questions, and many of the answers are shorter. Therefore, this is more like a Blitz question and answer, which I found quite fun answering. That being said, let me hop to it and get this party started.

  1. What character was hardest to write and which was the easiest? I find that my lead characters are always the easiest to write. The more complex a character and the more time I spend writing them, the more they develop. The more a character is developed, the easier it is for me to write. I tend to write from a deep-person point of view. Some authors would say this is a very complex and complicated way to write. However, I find it the easiest. When I sit at my computer and begin pounding out the words, the scene may be difficult to make work the way I want it, and that becomes a struggle. But the characters I have down at that point. I’m in their heads. I know what they are going to do and say. What I don’t know is how the plot is going to pan out at that point. Yes, a plotter would, but everyone knows I’m a proud self-proclaimed panster, and that isn’t changing anytime soon. In Ice Gladiators, Taz was the easiest. The hardest was Pernell. The reason he was difficult was that he had a minor but important role. I did not want him to come across as one-dimensional, which is hard for any character that is only being shown for a limited time in a narrow role. In Ice Gladiators, there was no space for Pernell’s backstory or a glimpse into his home life. I dislike when a reader is left wondering why a character behaves a certain way. However, in life, some things are left unexplained or ambiguous. For others, there simply isn’t an answer. It is what it is.
  2. Which character is my favorite? If I consider this question to include all of my works, it is very difficult to answer. I enjoy developing characters. In fact, all of my stories are character-driven. I guess it I had an area of “specialty”, it is diving into the psyches of the characters I write. I enjoy complex characters that are diverse and have unique personalities. Not all are pleasant, but each is well-rounded. Sometimes, their complete backstories aren’t written in the text, but they each have one in my head as I develop and write them. With all of that being said, I believe in Ice Gladiators, my favorite character is Liam Jolivet. He’s such a good-hearted character with a streak of bad boy. His bad-boy persona does not fully emerge, but one gets a glimpse of it and can see he can truly mischievous. If considering all of my sports romances, the answer is far more complicated. I love characters, such as Nicco Bale and Semien Metoyèr, who steal the scene any time they are around. But I also love the characters who are a bit angsty and on the edge, such as Aidan Lefèvre and Brighton Rabalais. Then again, I’m a sucker for the sweethearts, such as Christophe Fortenot. However, by far the favorite character I’ve ever created cannot be named, yet, because he hasn’t been introduced anywhere, yet. However, he’s coming soon, so, just hang on for him a little while longer. I’ll give a hint, though. He’s in the project I not-so-lovingly referred to as “beast”. And no, the name has nothing to do with the subject matter and everything to do with editing.
  3. If I could be any one of my characters, who would I choose? Again, if this is a consideration for all of my stories, this would be difficult. Maybe impossible, decision. I think it would be easier to answer which character I would not want to be. I’ve created some vile ones in my day. They were good for the story but not anyone I would aspire to be. Yuck!
  4. What is the ship-name for Taz and Liam? I have no idea. I was thinking it would be Lata maybe. I couldn’t decide on a good one. I’ll let the readers come up with one.
  5. Are the characters modeled after anyone? Maybe very loosely some characters share some characteristics with persons I’ve encountered or met in the past and that I have shoved into my subconscious. Honestly, though, if this is the case, it is so convoluted I can’t tell you who any of the real people are. On the flip side, I sometimes see a photo of a person who is the physical embodiment of the character in my head. This is a chicken and egg moment for me. Did I see the photo and create the physical characteristics of the character, or had I created the character first? I think more often than not; it is the latter and not the former. But even if it is the former, due to my tendency to change my stories, by the end, the character becomes unrecognizable from the muse.
  6. Which do I prefer to write, the protagonist or the antagonist? I enjoy writing both. But I’ll confess, some of my antagonists after I’m done writing I’m thinking “Eww, that’s a person I’d like to shove in a black hole.” Some of them are not nice at all, but they are fun to read. And since I don’t like having characters with no redeeming qualities, I usually try to sneak in at least one. It doesn’t always work, but I do give it a genuine shot.
  7. What inspired me to begin writing? I have talked about this briefly in other posts, but I get asked this a lot, so I’ll give a quick synopsis here. I’ve always found writing as a therapeutic outlet for creativity. I was raised mostly around adults, and all I had for play was my imagination. Writing was both a time-consuming and solitary activity. My elementary school didn’t offer much in the way of the arts. Well, they did, but by the time I had come of age to participate, they had begun to fade away those programs. Plus, my parents were too busy to take me, and I wouldn’t have been able to participate anyway. I think that may be one reason as a parent, I have moved heaven and earth to be the parent that is always there and finding a way to make time for extracurricular activities.
  8. How long have I been writing? I can’t remember exactly, but I know I was young. In grade school, I would write short notes on holidays. These actually were poorly received by my family and led me to writing in secret and not sharing any stories. I was about fifth grade I believe when I wrote my first novel. It started out as a short story and turned into a trilogy. I still have it—all handwritten. I haven’t looked at it since I tucked it away all those years ago. Sometimes, I think I should revisit it as an adult and just see what I could do with it now. It’s a thought.
  9. What is my guilty pleasure? People closest to me probably would say milkshakes or ice cream. Some may even say chocolate. A close third would be makeup. I agree those are vices for me. However, I think perhaps my biggest guilty pleasure is Dooney & Burke purses. Okay, I’m going to need this company to block their website from my viewing. I love that brand. People used to say to me that I only like them because of the name, but no, that isn’t true. No joke, I can walk into a department store with no monikers above the brands and no insignias on the products, and my eyes immediately zone in on the D&Bs. It’s like I’m magnetically drawn to them. I’ll be across the aisle and see a purse on display. I’ll comment on how much I like the design, and when I inspect it closer, it’s a D&B. I went through a period when I refused to buy any just so I would have diversity in my purses. What ended up happening is that I didn’t purchase any purses for two years because I didn’t find any others that appealed to me. Finally, I admitted defeat and gave up. What really did me in was the D&B collegiate line. It was just pointless fighting it at that point.
  10. How long was I writing before I was published? I would guess about ten years or so if I count back to my grade school years. I was first published in college when I was a sophomore. I had a short story published in the college literary magazine. A few years after that I had works published in a professional organization in the poetry and short story section. My first novel came several years after my post-graduate studies, but I took a break from writing for personal reasons. When I returned, the industry had changed a lot in that time. Talk about snoozing and losing. But the break wasn’t a bad thing. When I returned, I felt I had better direction as a writer and was willing to explore more. Not only did I feel my work had matured in technique but also in content and style. So, it all worked out for the better.
  11. What’s my next project? How do I answer this? Honestly, I don’t know, and here’s why. I discussed this some time ago when I used to publish my quarterly goals. It was a fairly in-depth discussion, and nothing much has changed since then in regards to my plan. Several years ago, I had to shelf projects to meet other obligations and deadlines. I also had computer crashes that prevented me from completing some projects. In late 2017/early 2018, I made the decision that I would not take on any new projects (haha for wishful thinking) and would complete everything on my to-do list once I had fulfilled current obligations. My “beast” and “megabeast” were two projects on that to-do list. I decided to tackle “beast” first. I don’t know how wise that was, but I did. It took far more time than I had anticipated getting through it. But it is done. So, I guess that should be my next project. However, I have another project that is completed and ready to go. Only I don’t know how I want to approach it. It’s a shorter work, but I really enjoyed it. It is different than anything I’ve ever written before or since and completely transported me out of my element. The reason it was written specifically for a special collaboration event publication. The publisher decided to postpone the release and later canceled. Since it was promised to a publisher, I held onto it, because there was discussion to reconsider the project. In short, that may be the next project. But wait, there’s more. There is a third completed work that I was set back for such a stupid reason that I won’t even get into it. As with anything I allow to sit for any length of time, I will update. I would say I’m done with the possibilities, but nope. There’s a fourth WIP that was set aside. And if you think I’m finished, you’d be wrong. I know I said I wouldn’t take on any new projects, but another opportunity opened its door. So, there you have it. I have no shortage of what to do next. It may come down to a flip of a coin (or a couple of coins).
  12. What would I do if I couldn’t write? Besides, drive those closest to me insane? I’d probably adopt several dogs and play with them all day. Or maybe I would try my hand at flipping a house … or not. If I did a remodel, I probably wouldn’t sell once completed.

That’s it for this Q&A. If you have any more questions fire away. Either comment below or shoot me an email and I will be happy to respond.

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

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

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Resources

Writing Learning Lessons

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

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

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

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