Hurts

The stuff a person does in order to write a book can be pretty varied. Lately, all I do is read up on the NFL. Except when I’m reading up about player injuries in the NFL and then the specifics of how doctors deal with those injuries. When you start reading up on this stuff it becomes clear why these guys are paid so much money. The injuries they can sustain aren’t scraped knees and elbows.

In Scrambling, my quarterback is running with the ball because his receivers are under heavy coverage. He’s tackled from behind which causes his head to jerk forward then back as he’s on this way to the ground. And because of his forward momentum, he hits the ground pretty hard, knocking the breath from him for a few seconds. He has pain in his neck and, of course, they collar him to keep him immobile until they can discover the extent of his injury. He ends up with what is relatively a minor injury on the big scale of vertebrae injuries, a compression fracture of the C6 vertebrae which requires about 7-8 weeks of wearing a cervical collar. However, it leaves him with a decision to make about whether or not to continue playing. Another hit like that and the next fracture could be much worse.  Much worse means damage to the spinal cord which could lead to paralysis and in some cases death.

Cervical fractures aren’t like breaking a leg. Those bones protect the spinal cord so any sort of injury to the vertebrae is a possible injury to the spinal cord. And trust me, you do not want to injure your spinal cord. Injuries to the C1 and C2 vertebrae are a very, very bad thing. They are the two that connect your head to the rest of you. And the other 5 vertebrae in the cervical area (the neck area) are all pretty important too.

There’s a chart I saw that shows the sections of vertebrae in the spine and what they are called and what numbers of vertebrae are in that section (ie the C numbers.) Also on that chart was a very scary thing. It showed at which place on your spine damage to the spinal cord would cause you to be a paraplegic, quadraplegic, where damage would affect your heart and other organs and where damage would cause you to stop breathing and possibly die.

Very scary stuff. Yet football players risk this continually. Makes you wonder if all that money they get is even worth it really.  The top ten most horrendous injuries in football included Joe Theisman breaking his leg from a hit by Lawrence Taylor. I saw this live on TV. To this day, thinking of it makes me want to puke. It was awful to see. Other top injuries included Mike Utley of the Lions who was paralyzed and Stone Johnson of the Kansas City Chiefs who died on the field from a neck injury. There’s a lot of these out there on lists with gruesome video attached. Tough to watch unless you’re into that sort of thing. I’m not.

People can say players get paid the big bucks to risk their bodies and lives, but I don’t think you can put a price on being able to walk or be alive. It is their choice to play but man, this is a rough sport.

Now, how about a Marcus to make Monday better?

Oh, now that’s really nice. Very elegant and excellent for this sunny Monday morning! Have a good one!

 

 

Pride and Fear

I’ve been diligently working on Scrambling, my NFL romance but I took a break late last night to sit in the living room with the old man where it was cooler. He was puttering around, the 40 Year Old Virgin was on some channel with too many commercials and I was reading a book on my phone. In the book, one of the heroes denies himself and the other hero of a happily ever after because he’s got some weird ideas about relationships and love. His pride is mostly what stands in the way of his happiness. And even though he knows he hurts his lover by leaving him all the time, he feels the other man could do better than him so he won’t stay. He’s ravaged his lover’s heart and he knows it, all because of his own stubborn pride.

In Scrambling, my two heroes don’t suffer from pride issues. What they suffer from is fear. Their fears are deeply embedded, something they’ve both lived with since their teens. And mostly, they are childish fears. After all, they first arose when the guys are in their middle teens. Kids that age have a ton of irrational fears. These guys carry the fears into adulthood which puts a whole new layer of fear onto the original fear.

See, in their teens, they are afraid to come out to each other for simple reasons. They don’t want to lose their friendship. Well, kids are weird and even though these guys have been friends since they were six, coming out can be a real unknown. Kids can be cruel. Someone you’ve known your whole life might not understand. So their initial fear at 15/16 is understandable.

However, when they go off to college for their freshman year they come out to each other. Unfortunately, that’s only half the confession. They’ve both been secretly crushing on each other for the last couple of years. Neither can say it though because of fear. One’s just been rejected by his parents for being gay. He doesn’t want to tell his best friend he loves him because he’s overly sensitive about being rejected. He’s afraid. The other one thinks his friend is involved with someone so he’s afraid his confession of love wouldn’t be welcome.

Over the years, these initial layers of fear have other fears dumped onto them so what happens is that they are almost thirty before the truth comes out. And what’s sad for them (but good for the book’s level of angst) is that they have plenty of opportunities to tell the truth. Sometimes other people advise them not to. Sometimes they just err in judgment. Other times, the fear just overwhelms them.

They even sleep together once and one of them says “I love you” but the other one misunderstands. In fact, the difference between “I love you” and “I’m in love with you” is one of the things that comes between them. They’ve spent years saying “I love you” to one another because they are best friends. When one of them says it (after the big sex scene) and means it on a whole other level, the other one doesn’t get it. It’s not until he’s the one blurting it out while under the influence of morphine in the hospital that everything becomes clear to them both.

“I love you,” Evan blurted out, the morphine and the pain making him feel like he was floating in a world where the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth should ever be spoken between him and Reed. He hurt like hell and half the pain was because he needed Reed and Reed wasn’t there. Except he was. On the phone. The lifeline of his voice in Evan’s ear making everything better.

“I know you do.”

Reed’s voice held warmth, caring and relief. Evan figured Reed had panicked when he’d seen the late hit and knew Evan had to have broken his leg. He would have been frantic to reach Evan by phone since he couldn’t just drive to the hospital from clear across the country. He also figured Reed didn’t know what he meant when he said he loved him.

Irritation washed over Evan. How many fucking years had he said the words without Reed knowing the truth? “No, you don’t know. I’m in love with you.”

Silence met Evan’s ears. And then he heard a muffled sound. A sound that could easily have been a sob.

“How long? How long have you been in love with me?” Reed’s voice was hoarse, tinged heavily with tears and emotion.

Evan couldn’t hold anything back now that the morphine, the broken leg and too many years away from Reed had made him confess the truth of his heart. “Forever. Since I knew what romantic love was.”

The sob came again, but this time it wasn’t muffled. And the voice that spoke the words Evan had longed to hear from the moment he’d left California had the distinctive tones of begging.

“Come home, Evan. Please come home.”

So you see, pride and fear are two of the most commonly used emotions when authors want to keep their characters apart. The reason they are used so much is because we humans cloak ourselves in these emotions to protect our hearts, even when our hearts don’t need protecting.  And now you know how and why writers use emotion to fuel their manuscripts. 😉

How about a luscious Marcus to round out this Monday and make it feel just a bit less like a Monday always feels?

I wish he was on Twitter. I mean I follow Dave Navarro, Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, and Ian Somerhalder. I just need Marcus to round out the famous hotties I follow. Heh. Happy Monday ya all!

No Romance in the NFL

No romance in the NFL? No, there isn’t really. I had to make it up. You see, there aren’t any out players in the NFL. Actually, I don’t think there are any out players in the NBA, the NHL or in MLB. I want to say WTF except for the fact that it gives me an opportunity to write something I think is pretty cool…a story about the first two out NFL players.

I kept the idea under wraps for quite awhile. Only my pal ZAM knew what I was plotting. Eventually, I enlisted the aid of a co-worker to help me out with some football info. He and I discussed expansion teams and what one would be called if LA ever got one. Michael has been a huge help even though he thinks it will be a long time before an active player in the NFL does come out. I think it will happen sooner than Michael thinks.

Other than ZAM, I had my other reader all set up. Fellow author William Neale was excited to read this story for me. He knew football and he loved the premise of the story. Unfortunately, Bill died recently and I was bereft at losing a friend. Now, I’ve got other readers in place including Marty Mankins who is a brave het soul for reading a gay romance. It’s a testament to his masculinity that reading this book does not faze him  in the least. GO MARTY!

Anyway, the publisher I wanted for this book has requested the full manuscript and I’ve been working on it diligently to get it finished by the deadline, June 1. I’m just over a third of the way through this and it seems epic to me because it spans these two players’ lives from age sixteen to thirty. Of course, the bits when they were younger are like vignettes. That section of the book has each chapter showing the reader a significant scene in their lives that has to do with football, being gay and their relationship with each other. The middle section of the book takes place a few years before the present day and its focus is on a milestone event in the two mens’ lives. The player who has been in a relationship since college finds out that his partner has been cheating on him and is HIV+. The partner has a family history of illness and dying young so, of course, it takes no time at all, despite modern day medicine, for the man to end up with full blown AIDS. And he dies.

That is the turning point in the book. Both of my players face their mortality, the possibility of having their careers in the NFL cut short and choices about love and friendship. I keep them apart romantically until the last half of the book, but I do get into key issues like the way the media treats them and the things they have to do in order to keep positive press flowing, how other players treat them, how injury affects them, and what you do when you are forced by injury to retire from a game that’s been your whole life since you were six years old.

It’s a deeper book than anything else I’ve written because usually, I focus on a relationship between two people and what they have to overcome to be together. This book isn’t just about the relationship between my two players (who actually do get a Happily Ever After with each other) but about how their relationships with others and with football affects their friendship and their love for each other. I don’t usually get into external forces much in my books but this time I do. It’s an emotional story, funny one moment and heartwrenching the next. I’m really proud of it thus far and I really hope the publisher likes it because I seriously want this house to publish it.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to, putting romance – and gay romance at that – into the NFL. HEH. And now, here’s this Monday’s Marcus!

That’s such a pretty one! Oh, yum! Have a great Monday everyone!

 

Coming Home

Yup, yup. The baby is coming home. Her roomie is graduating and moving away. I am glad to have her back because she is a lot of help for me especially when I’m going through all the health issues I’m going through. (Getting old sucks.) I know Rott’s not exactly jumping for joy, but he seems okay with it. And the babies (cats) will be ecstatic. They adore her! I don’t relish sharing my computer or getting used to having another body in the house, but those annoyances are really small to be honest. The pros outweigh the cons in this instance and I’ll get used to having her underfoot again. She is my baby girl after all. (Who will be 23 on May 16! Where does time go?)

I’ve been doing a lot of ads for authors going to GayRomLit lately so I made Winterheart Design a little “commercial” so to speak. When I uploaded it, it couldn’t be seen. Grrrr. Used to be YouTube would email you if the music wasn’t something they had a license for. No more emails apparently. Grrrrr.  I changed up the music and the commercial for Winterheart Design is now live on my YouTube channel. Still…grrrr.

I’m off to a dr’s appointment now so I’ll post my Monday Marcus and skedaddle.

Shirtless in jeans…oh, yum.

Oh, yeah. In case you didn’t see my Facebook page…Loose Id requested the full manuscript of my NFL story. Woot! Now I need to hurry and finish it! Have a great Monday everyone!

Research

Have you ever had to do research? For an essay or term paper? For a book? For information about something you knew nothing about, but now need to know? I’ve done all of those things, most recently, for a book.

Like a lot of Americans, I’ve been a football fan. I’m from NoCal so I’ll admit to being an Oakland Raider fan. My brother is a referee and he’s been a big football fan since before I was born so when I eventually started watching he taught me a lot about the game. I used to watch religiously, but now I don’t even watch the Super Bowl.

But now that I have a football story I’m working on, I think I’ve learned more about the game than I ever thought I’d know. First, I asked a co-worker some questions to help me solidify my plot outline. Then, once I started writing, I had to do some research. Mostly about the draft, but I’m sure at some point it will be about something else. I’m going to pull out the snippets that involve football and see what my co-worker thinks. If Michael thinks the football related parts sound okay, I’ll just keep moving along. If something’s not right though, I’ll have to go back and fix it.

For now, I still have a long way to go. I have about 10K words on a book that could go as high as 60K.  I have almost half of the first part of the book done. I’ve got a few bits and pieces of the latter half done as well. A couple of scenes. But all that research is stuck in my head now. Mostly, I found this fascinating list of a dozen of the highest paid rookies. Ten of the twelve were NFL players and they told how much these guys signed for and how much the signing bonus was. WOAH. We’re talking some serious numbers although there was at least one on the list whose numbers were lower due to the salary cap instituted some years ago. The guys in my book would have signed before the cap so I gave them numbers like 32 million and 40 million with a few million in signing bonuses. That’s so much money I just can’t even imagine it.

Once this story is done, my next bout of research will be emailing with a co-worker’s son who is a professional ballet dancer. Instead of salary caps and signing bonuses in my head, I’ll have ballet moves. And that information will reside in my head until that book is done and the next bout of research replaces it.

Writing paranormal stories means I can make up whatever I want. No research. Just world building. I do that in my head. I lay down to take a nap and start planning the creatures and how the world works. I do this over and over for a few weeks until the world is pretty fixed in my mind. Then I write.

For now, I’m enjoying my football story. It’s more serious and more dark than any contemporary I’ve ever written. It deals with coming out, risky sex, HIV and AIDS as well as the media. I mess with these two heroes quite a bit before I let them have a Happily Ever After. I’ve sent the partial (the first three chapters) to the publisher and now I have to wait to see if they want the book. I hope they do. I’ve wanted to get in with this publisher for quite awhile but I never had the right vehicle before. Cross your fingers for me!

Before I head in to work, here’s a Marcus for this Monday morning.

Ah, one of my favorite photos of him! Sure brightens up my rainy Monday morning. I hope everyone has a great day!