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This and That

Happy-new-year-2015-wallpaper_lighting_diyasCrazy week.  Versions of the flu have taken my family by storm.  I’m sure I’m jinxing myself here, but Harper and I have avoided it thus far.  Of course, the fact that I had a book come out on Tuesday has given me an added boost of energy. 🙂  Today, I’m starting a self-imposed stay-cation.  I’m going to clean out closets–one blue bin to charity each day and then I can read!  That probably doesn’t sound like too much fun, but one of my resolutions this year is to get organized before the chaos of writing a new book begins.

Speaking of resolutions, did you make one?  Or more?  I’m not big into making promises to myself each year.  Author Lori Wilde posted something that resonated with me.  She said that instead of resolutions, she and her friends each choose a word that they hope to define the upcoming months, a word they plan to live by.  I love that idea!  My word for 2015 is Grace.  Grace for others-whether I know them or not.  And grace for me.  I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself and this business can beat you down if you let it.  My goal is to look for grace in everything I do.  Now that I’ve written it down, you all can hold me accountable!

Liz MorganHere’s some fun news:  Last year when FOOLISH GAMES was released, Sara at Harlequin Junkie asked me to name my dream cast if the book were to be made into a movie.  I hate that question for many reasons, but I did it anyway, because Sara is awesome!  Anyway, I listed a relatively unknown actress to play the quirky teenager, Sophie Osbourne.  Well, she’s known to me because she’s my neighbor. Her name is Liz Morgan and, at the time, she was about to make her motion picture debut in a low budget film about the rapture called The Remaining.  The film was a bit campy, but it lasted a lot longer at the box office than Nicholas Cage’s rapture pic.

Fast forward a year. After getting that movie role, Liz went on over 150 auditions with no success.  Oh, how we writers can relate, right?  She applied to Julliard and was rewarded with an audition.  Not everyone who applies gets one.  Of course, right after she got that great news, she was cast for a three episode guest starring role in Chicago Fire!  Yep, as I write this from my warm kitchen, Liz is currently jumping out of a burning building in snowy, freezing Chicago.  Isn’t that cool?  I’ll keep you posted with the dates when her episodes will air.

That’s all I’ve got today. Happy New Year and stay warm and healthy! And if you need a beach fix, I’ve got a book for you!

cover-for-BTB

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My Favorite Child

A while back, a father blogged that he liked one of his sons better than the other one. He didn’t say he loved one more than the other, just that he enjoyed spending time with the older one more than the younger one because—duh!—he and the older son could do more fun things together. The admission caused quite a stir in the parenting blogosphere and everywhere else it reached. While I applaud the guy’s honesty, I think he’s an idiot for putting it out into cyber space for the entire world to see. But he’ll get his payback years from now in the form of therapy bills for his younger, least favorite child.

If we’re admitting to having favorites, though, I’ve got a little confession to make: I have a favorite child. No, no! Not one I created with my husband, but one I created in my head. (Note to my daughter: Just because you changed your contact to “Favorite Child” in my phone doesn’t mean you own the title.)

RiskyGame_coverReviseNext week, RISKY GAME, my fourth book in the Out of Bounds series will be released. (In case you missed it, the third book in the series, A NUMBERS GAME, was released as a digital novella last month.) The book features Baltimore Blaze tight end, Brody Janik, my favorite child among the Blaze players. I don’t know what it is about Brody, but from the minute he ambled into my head, he became larger than life. Laughing blue eyes, a wicked smile and a laid back demeanor all make him America’s favorite cover boy, but there’s more to Brody than just a handsome face who can catch a football. I think that’s what I love about him so much.

Growing up with four older sisters, Brody understands women. But, as he told Julianne in FOOLISH GAMES, he just wants a woman who “gets” him. Too bad for Brody that he’s still trying to figure out who he is himself. With a guy like that stomping about in my head, of course I had to put a smart woman in his path who could unravel the man-child and point him in the right direction. Shannon works hard and makes her own way in life. She doesn’t need Brody or his money and fame to validate her. There’s a reason this book is dedicated to five young women who are just entering the adult world. I want them to be like Shannon. My wish is that they own it—whatever it is they wish to be. Especially that girl who calls herself my favorite child.

What do you think? Is it possible to have a favorite child? Is it easier for a father to make that type of declaration than a mom?

It’s Game On in Sochi

sochiThe winter Olympics are finally here!  I’m not sure how I feel about these games.  For months, we’ve heard nothing but horror stories about corruption—Russia spent over $50 billion to put on the winter Olympics, the largest price tag for an Olympics ever—to threats of terrorism,  to Russian president Putin’s stance on gays, and this week, the less than luxury living conditions for the media, the athletes and the fans.  And don’t get me started on the story about all the stray dogs in Sochi being rounded up and killed.  Barbaric.

But tonight, the games will officially open.  Of course, events have been taking place for the past two days. Was there a reason the opening ceremonies had to be delayed?  Matt Lauer has been there all week. (Savannah, I hope you packed an extra large Purell for him because I’m sure he’s out by now!) Is it just me or do things feel a little mixed up and jumbled?  Showcasing only fifteen sports, the winter games are supposed to be smaller, more intimate and laid back than the summer Olympiads, and yet it seems these games have begun on a more chaotic note.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to settling in each night to watch, I just hope the side show doesn’t detract from the real story:  the performance of the athletes.  

Yesterday, I blogged on www.romancingthejock about my favorite winter Olympic sport.  Stop on over to see what it is.  Hint:  special shoes and crazy pants are required.  I’m also looking forward to two of the twelve new events: women’s ski jumping (it’s about time!)

Jessica Jerome

Jessica Jerome

and the mixed figure-skating team event (although after last night, I’m not so sure.)  And, of course, there’s hockey.  I love hockey players—I mean hockey.

I was inspired when the USOC announced the flag bearer for the team USA.  It’s Todd Lodwick, a 37-year-old Nordic combined skier.  Voted on by the entire 230 member delegation, Lodwick definitely represents the Olympic spirit because this is his sixth winter Olympic games, making him the first US Olympic athlete to compete in six different games. (Surely, his first Olympics was when he was in middle school??) The father of two, Lodwick is a world champion in the Nordic combined who won silver in Vancouver in the team event. 

shaun whiteAnd how about Shaun White, the Flying Tomato.  Can we still call him that now that his luscious locks have been shorn?  At twenty-seven, he looks all grown up and dare I say sexy?  He’s also the richest athlete competing in the games.  LoLo Jones is making history by competing on the track in London and now in Sochi as a member of the U.S. women’s bobsled team. 

Any way you look at it, these games are guaranteed to keep us all watching and talking.  I just hope it’s about the sporting contests and not something else.

What sports are you most excited about watching during the winter Olympics?  Is there an athlete you think will be a break out star?

Sports Romances: Guaranteed to Score

        

One of my all time favorite books!

One of my all time favorite books!

Romance novels involving athletes have become extremely popular in the past several years.  Thanks to authors like Susan Elizabeth Phillips and her Chicago Stars, Deirdre Martin and her New York Blades and Jill Shalvis and the Santa Barbara Heat, readers have been culling the shelves for more sports romances.

        Why?  Because sports romances are inherently sexy.  For starters, they feature athletes with ripped bodies, nimble fingers, and lots of stamina. These guys are the ultimate Alpha hero because jocks live their lives playing a game.  Not only that, but they get paid well to do it.  Most of them are extremely self-confident and driven to win at all costs.  In a word, they’re egocentric.  Oh yeah, successful, athletic men are very sexy.

A good sports romance will give the reader a peek at the more vulnerable side of athletes, too.  These men harbor fears of not making the play or being injured or worse, cut from the team.  Some even have quirks or superstitious idiosyncrasies that make them endearing. (Although, I’m not so sure a scruffy beard is sexy, Boston!)  A glimpse at the more human aspect of life as a professional athlete adds to the sexiness.

But, the best part of a sports romance is watching these alpha heroes have their whole world turned upside down when they meet the one woman they can’t live without.  Athletes approach relationships much like they do a game and they don’t like to lose.  So when they meet a woman that changes the game on them, it makes the sparks fly off the pages. 

foolish games cover high resIn my latest release, Foolish Games, Baltimore Blaze linebacker, Will “William the Conqueror” Connelly is a cerebral, intense, behemoth man who takes care of business on the playing field while keeping to himself off the gridiron.  When he’s blindsided with the news he’s a father, Will believes he can orchestrate the lives of both his son and the baby’s mother much the same way he executes defensive plays during a game.  Of course, his game plan doesn’t work out exactly how he expected—what would be the fun in that?

 

What do you find sexy about a sports romance?  What are some of your favorites that you’ve read? 

Overcoming Obstacles to Get My Game On

Cover OutsidersI still remember the first book I wasn’t able to read.  It was The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.  My problem was not for the reasons you’d think.  Yes, this was a controversial book at the time—I attempted to read it in 1973 as a young elementary school student.  But the issue was that I physically couldn’t read it.  You see, I was the girl with the Coke-bottle glasses and the rare vision disorder that’s only cool to ophthalmologists.  By the time I’d reached the fifth grade, the books I wanted to read—the one’s everybody was talking about—were printed with a smaller font than the Weekly Reader and my mixed up brain just wouldn’t let my eyes hold focus long enough to see the tiny words.

For an eleven-year-old, not being able to read about Ponyboy, Sodapop, Two-Bit, Johnny and the rest of the Greasers was devastating. My options were slim since audio books were still a blip on some entrepreneur’s radar.  Fortunately, I had a group of devoted friends who volunteered to read the book aloud to me every day at recess.  I spent the next few years being read to, until technology and ophthalmology made life a little easier for me.  Still, I remember being sixteen and having a doctor tell me I would most likely have difficulty earning a college degree much less being able to realize my dream of becoming an author.  The synapse connecting my brain to my vision just wouldn’t allow me to accomplish those goals.

baby with glassesTen years later, that same eye-doctor marveled at my earning not only a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, but a Master’s Degree in Public Policy.  Better yet, I was working as a writer.  Well, sort of.  I was actually a Congressional investigator who got to write reports and testimony for Congress.  But one of those blue books turned out to be my first best seller, a feat I’m still proud of today—even if the subject matter could be used as a sleep aid.

Fast forward another two decades and I’ve finally accomplished my dream of becoming a published novelist.  Sure, I can’t actually read the printed version of my books.  Not without specially ground hard contact lenses, reading glasses, and a magnifying glass.  But I don’t have to read it.   I wrote it.  Those words on the page came from the voices in my head; voices that refused to be silenced by a nagging disability.  (Okay, there are those who think the voices in my head are my real nagging disability, but we’ll save that for another post.)

My process of getting those words on to the actual page is pretty convoluted.  Fortunately for people like me, the technology that allows speech to text has been perfected and is now widely used.  Who knew back in the days of being read to by friends that a talking phone named Siri would become my constant companion?  Or that the British voice on my GPS would take the place of struggling to read the fine print on a map?

Unfortunately, my reading vision will never improve.  But the stories in my head refuse to be denied. They flitter before my eyes and throughout my brain demanding to be told.  One way or another, I’ll get them on paper and if just one person reads my books and enjoys them, all my efforts will be worth it.  This holiday season, I’m grateful to all the readers out there who’ve taken the time to read and review my books, it really means a lot to me.

So tell me, what kinds of obstacles have you had to battle to achieve that one thing in life you always wanted?

(This post originally appeared on the Totebags and Book blog site.)

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