Sunday, November 24, 2013

Q & A with author Jaymee Jacobs

Can you be close friends with someone you’ve never met? I think so! Jaymee Jacobs is my good friend and writing buddy. Even though we’ve never met in person, we’ve shared our problems, our triumphs, and most of all, our love of hockey and hockey stories. My novella, Fresh Air, resulted from a bet I had with Jaymee – as well as the inability of the Canucks to defeat the Penguins.

I initially met Jay on Blogger, where she was the reigning queen of a serialized fiction group. Her stories were exciting, realistic, steamy and most of all, literate. I started reading her stories, and one day I emailed her about some issue on her blog and as Humphrey Bogart said, it was “the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” Because we believe our hockey books would appeal to the same readers, we decided to do a little cross-promotion, and interview each other. Besides, it’s fun to turn the tables and talk about someone else's writing.

Jaymee’s first book, Play The Man, is the story of Jenna, who is torn between two men. Both are extremely hot NHL superstars, so it’s not the worst dilemma a girl ever had to face. The book explores the emotional dynamics of a love triangle in a very believable way. If you havent read it yet, do check it out.

And now, Jaymee has a new book out: Shots on Net. Although I got to read the first version during the editing process, I’m currently reading the book again and I have to say, it’s really different. It’s a romance, yet the characters are completely believable. They are normal people with dreams and aspirations, who have to struggle to achieve their goals. Kevin is an attractive and intelligent hockey player, striving to make his dream of reaching the NHL even when the odds are stacked against him. Shannon is a character many of us could identify with, she’s a romantic idealist who is happiest when she’s reading a good book. Shots on Net explores both the romance and realities of being in your twenties and trying to create a fully-realized life. So without further ado, here's our Q & A session:

Q: Your new book, Shots on Net, is about the AHL. Have you been to a lot of AHL games, and how do they differ from NHL games? And how are AHL players different?

A: Believe it or not, but I've never had the pleasure of going to an AHL game. I can't seem to find anyone to take the road trip with me to see the farm teams. But I've always been curious about the AHL and the development of hockey players. There's something special about a player who grinds it out and works their way up to the NHL. It takes a lot of dedication, ambition, and practice to make the leap from juniors/college/the minors, whereas players with pure talent seem to transition straight into the NHL.

Q: I agree 100% with you on that, players who had a tough road to the NHL seem to appreciate everything more and work hard every single shift. Shots on Net is also about unfulfilled dreams. Which would you say is more important: a fulfilling career or a relationship with Mr. Right?

A: Definitely a more fulfilling career. You see, I don't think it's possible to feel "fulfilled" by a person. A significant other can make you feel loved, special, and important, but he/she can't make you feel purposeful. That only comes from pursing your own interests and dreams. I've learned from personal experience that, while the emotions another person can give you or make you feel are wonderful, those emotions don't last. The feeling of accomplishment, however, sticks with you.

Q: Another important part of the book is the fact that Shannon is a keen reader, and loves to read romances. Who are your favourite writers? What genres of books do you like to read?

A: Oh man. To answer this question succinctly is impossible. Basically, I enjoy most genres. My favorite stories involve ones with memorable characters who grow and learn to adapt, and whether that's classic literature, young adult, or chick lit, then I'll read it. Pride and Prejudice. The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Good in Bed. Oh, I love Jennifer Weiner. And Jane Austen. And Dennis Lehane, who does mysteries/psychological thrillers. I'm just a sucker for a great story. 

Q: There seem to be a lot of books about hockey players lately. Why do you think that readers like hockey players as heroes?

A: Hockey players make perfect heroes. Compared to other high-paid athletes, they are humble and down-to-earth. I think it all starts with the early morning skates. They learn from a young age to work hard, and when that's a lesson learned young, it stays with them as they become adults. That attitude's so attractive!
Plus, they're professional athletes. They're hot. Masculine. Strong. What's not to like?!

Q: Jay, I know you’re a Penguins fan, but so far your books have been set in Chicago and Connecticut. Do you think you’ll write a book set in Pittsburgh?

A: I don't know! I'd love to, for obvious reasons. I'm familiar with the city, so I can give lots of details and specifics. The stories that I had written were already set in other cities. The next one that I start from scratch, though, I think will be set here in Pittsburgh. 

Q: What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a book right now?

A: I am! Readers of my blog will know that I'm working on my third title, Game On, which features Audrey Hunt and Nathan Fox. Audrey's a tenacious, smart woman who's ready to take on the world when she accepts her first post-graduation job as a reporter covering the Columbus Blue Jackets. That's all I'll say about that for now!

If youre not already familiar with Jay's writing, you have a real treat in store. Check her books out here:
Play the Man
And heres her blog, where these days she's discussing how a book comes together.  

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Quiz: Finding Your Favourite NHL Team

It has come to the attention of this blog that some lovely readers like hockey and hockey players, but have not yet committed their affections to a single hockey team. In the interests of turning them into crazed fanatics like the rest of us, this simple Cosmo-type quiz will help you to find the right team to support.

1. Looking down at yourself, which of these options best describes what you’re wearing.
a)    Nike dri-fit everything
b)   Woolly sweater, Indian cotton skirt, and tights.
c)    Top and skirt in a very on-trend plum shade with a hammered silver necklace
d)   Jeans, a t-shirt that the baby spit up on, and the birthday earrings your hubby gave you
e)    A stylish dress that you hunted down in a consignment store
f)     A black thong, ripped lace stockings, and handcuffs

2. Your favourite evening pastime would be:
a)    A pick-up game of soccer
b)   Hearing a speaker on saving whales
c)    Shopping at Nordstrom’s
d)   Volunteering at the homeless shelter
e)    Craft night with the girls
f)     Sex & drugs & rock ’n roll

3. Your favourite meal is:
a)    Power bars and Gatorade as you rush to the gym
b)   Organically sourced and locally grown
c)    A ten course omakase of tiny Japanese delicacies, beautifully plated
d)   Roast beef dinner at your Mom’s place, and you bring the pie
e)    At a nice bistro with your 50% off Groupon discount
f)     Eaten off a naked man

4. When it comes to men, you like:
a)    Guys who can bench 250
b)   Sensitive, new-age men
c)    Men who know a Windsor from a four-in-hand
d)   A good sense of humour and a career goals
e)    Personality, since you can fix his clothes and hair
f)     Variety

Now count up your answers, and find the letter you checked most.

If you had mainly A answers, you are a Jock
Nobody needs to sit beside you and explain the game. You play for keeps and you need a team that competes as hard as you do. While no team can win the Stanley Cup each season, these ones will be in the playoffs year after year. 

Detroit Red Wings
Apparently Detroit is a native word meaning stable hockey management. With a great GM, possibly the best coach in the league, and a legendary scouting staff, the Red Wings are consistently great.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Their hunky captain is the best player in the entire league, and Crosby can deliver the goals. On 24/7, they were the good guys, and they’re perennial Cup favourites.

Chicago Blackhawks
This team is hot. And with two Stanley Cups in four years, the hockey playing is pretty good as well. No one will question your fandom of this team, especially when Sharpie takes off his helmet for the rousing anthem.

San Jose Sharks
Although a perennial bridesmaid who has never made it to the finals, the Sharks are another stable team who consistently make the playoffs and compete hard. Every season, some hockey pundit decrees that it’s the Shark’s year to win it all, and this year is no exception. And what’s not to love about a team who skates out through a shark’s jaws?

If you had mainly B answers, you are an Earth Mother
At the organic, gluten-free, vegan pet shelter, you chose the one-eyed, three-legged rabbit for your new pet. The panhandling guys cheer when they see you coming down the sidewalk. You radiate kindness and generosity. Why not support these teams? They’re not expected to do well, but their fans love them anyway. When they do win, victory will be all that much sweeter.

Florida Panthers
They had a preseason game with fewer fans attending than players. Their dressing rooms are famous for rats! They are one of the lowest spending teams in the league. They need your love.

Calgary Flames
Last season, they had a legendary captain and legendary goalie, both of whom are now gone. Their arena was flooded in the summer, and they lost files, memorabilia, and the head of their doggy mascot. Their trades and drafts have been meh, but now they’ve got a two-headed General Manager to help. They need your love!

Buffalo Sabres
Hopes were high after a new big-spending owner arrived. Lots of recent changes, including big trades and the firing of the longstanding coach. But so far, no results except for one of the ugliest new jerseys on the planet. They need your love!

New Jersey Devils
Their best player took his puck and went home to Russia, but the Devils are still paying the bill for him in the form of a first round draft pick. The Devils didn’t even complain, since with their debt load they were going to have trouble paying his salary anyway. They need your love.

Phoenix Coyotes
Like the unwelcome dinner guest who keeps having one more for the road, the Coyotes have been threatening to leave Arizona for years, but now they’re staying put (for now.) Is it any wonder that they have to give away tickets with beer purchases at Fry’s? And yet, this team is perennially over-performs. Still, they need your love!

If you had mainly C answers, you are an Aesthete
You follow the trends, and enjoy looking good with your good-looking friends in hip surroundings. Perhaps hockey is not your first choice as an aesthetically-pleasing sports, but it has a certain alternative charm. When it comes to hockey, you want your team to play well, but look good as they do it.

Montréal Canadians
With a classic uniform that hasn’t changed in close to 100 years, the Habs are a team with tradition and style. The crowds at their games are the most stylish and well-dressed in the league, as well as the most attractive. And for a final touch that will please any designer, they are the first team to add accents to their name bars. Go Umlaut, Go!

New York Rangers
Another original six team with an old-style jersey, the Rangers also have tradition on their side. But more importantly, they have the best-looking player in the entire league, the suave Henrik Lundqvist. Thank heavens he’s a goalie, so that face won’t be hit by errant sticks and pucks.

New York Islanders
Those uniforms, all clashing orange and blue, are not the prettiest. But next year they’re moving to Brooklyn, and there are rumours of black jerseys. And Brooklyn, the planetary headquarters of all that’s trendy and hipster. We predict the cool kids will soon be following the exploits of Tavares and company.

If you had mainly D answers, you are a Nice Girl
You obey the rules and cross only on the green lights. As a nice girl, you like to avoid conflict, so we recommend cheering for your local team. If there’s no local team, cheer for the closest team. Not only will this make it easier to follow the team since any hockey coverage will focus on them, but you’ll meet other fans this way. Of course, since we don’t know where you live, we can only recommend these teams with great regional support.

Winnipeg Jets
When the NHL threatened to relocate the Jets back in the 90’s, sad-eyed kids lined up to offer their allowance to ensure they’d stay. The league cold-heartedly ripped the team away anyway and sent them to Phoenix. (How’s that working out for you, Gary?) But when the city got a new team in 2011, a celebration began that resulted in huge sellouts and one of the best atmospheres in the league. What’s not to love about a team that chooses the best player on the opposing team and boos him whenever he touches the puck?

Minnesota Wild
Why the NHL would rip hockey out of the State of Hockey and put it into Texas is beyond reason, but that’s what happened here in the 90’s. Luckily hockey is back now, and with an owner who’s ready to spend big $$$ on players like Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, hopes are high here. And Snoopy wears a Wild jersey, so feel free to go (pea) nuts for this team.

Nashville Predators
With a fun arena atmosphere, stable management, and a great city, it seems like the Preds have everything going for them. Sadly, their defence-first system is not always the most fun to watch, but their handsome captain is one of the top defenders in the league. And Carrie Underwood is married to centre, Mike Fisher, making them the top celeb couple in the NHL.

If you had mainly E answers, you are a Thriftster
You amaze everyone with your bargain finds and creativity. That aged sideboard was picked up from the dump, then a little elbow grease, wood glue, and milk paint made it good as new! A few alterations and that dress from Value Village looks like it’s haute couture. Since you’re so good at seeing potential, choose one of these up and coming teams. By the time they make it big you can say you were there first. 

Edmonton Oilers
Three first overall picks in the draft in three consecutive years? Wow, but too bad none of them were goalies. The Oil are young and full of potential. Unfortunately their fans have been hearing that for years, but it’s got to come true someday.

St. Louis Blues
Their coach is an expert in military history, and he gets his young team ready to battle every night. EA Sports NHL 14 simulation picked the Blues to defeat the Penguins in the Stanley Cup final. Of course, last year the gamers picked the Rangers to defeat the Blackhawks, so they were only half-right.

Tampa Bay Lightning
They have a superstar sniper, an ageless captain, and a decent goalie, but since they’re in Florida they fly under the media radar. Still the Lightning have a ton of potential.

Colorado Avalanche
Another young team with tons of potential, including some first class forwards. Still there are some question marks around this team, including a coach/GM with a competitive drive that’s literally insane and possibly actionable.

If you had mainly F answers, you are a Bad Girl.
You don’t give a damn what other people say, and you haven’t ever since that “incident” in the boys washroom back in Grade 8. Black leather moto, tight jeans, and shit-kicking boots, and that’s your work wardrobe! You believe a hard man is good to find, so here are some hard teams for you:

Boston Bruins
Other teams and their fans hate the Bruins, and they probably have a good case. Everyone, from the towering captain, Chara, to power forward, Lucic, to super-rat, Marchand, has been involved in some pretty questionable hits, plays, and injuries. But their wily coach has pushed this team to a Cup win, Game Seven heroics, and excellent playoff runs. Get ready to embrace the hate when you don a B’s jersey.

Philadelphia Flyers
While their heyday as the Broadstreet Bullies is long gone, they still manage to stir up controversy, either on the ice or in the backroom. Right now, they’re dysfunctional as all get out, yet they still command fear in opponent’s rinks. As I’m writing this, they’re having a line brawl. Some things never change.

Toronto Maple Leafs
A recent history of futility, and yet there’s always a battle to get game tickets. This irrational fandom means that those in Toronto adore the team and those outside the self-proclaimed centre of the universe despise them. Wear the blue and white in Canada and get ready for some love… or hate.

Los Angeles Kings
How many teams have a captain who is known for fighting… and diving? The Kings battled their way to a Stanley Cup championship, leaving opponents bruised, beaten, and concussed. And they can’t get no respect, L.A. sports reporters are constantly messing up the player’s names and even the team logo when forced to cover hockey stories.

Vancouver Canucks
They have a reputation as divers and whiners – and that’s just the fans, so the Canucks decided to improve their image by hiring the most despised coach in the league. It’s a match made in H-E-double hockey sticks. Still, the Canucks have the longest sell-out streak in the NHL, so misery clearly loves company.

Well, have you got a team to cheer for now? Does your personality match the team you already cheer for? If I missed your favourite team, where do they belong? Or do you just think I'm crazy? Let me know in the comments!

Talking About Me, Me, Me!

Today, I'm the featured author on Diane's Book Blog! I've never been interviewed before and it was a big thrill for me. In fact, it was alarmingly enjoyable for someone who thinks of herself as on the quiet side. I guess there's a diva in all of us.

Diane Subsits Lynch reviews many different kinds of books, but has a special place in her heart for hockey romances. Like many of you, she's a Chicago Blackhawks fan. Check out her blog here and see find some new books you may enjoy!