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New fantasy novel release: The Blue Gem

It took nearly four years, but the completion of The Blue Gem, follow-up to 2014's The Dragon Princess, has finally arrived. 
Granted, this is not the over twenty years it took me to complete the first novel. That one took form before I even hit my teens so it can be somewhat excusable the novel took so long to complete.
The Blue Gem, on the other hand, was started a month or so after I self-published The Dragon Princess. The second novel ended up being roughly 40 pages longer, involved more research and I even took some time to draw (possibly unneeded) floor plans. 

Between a busy weekend of NCAA basketball, St. Patrick's Day, and working on other projects, I was able to finally edit (for the 5th time) the final 20 pages of the manuscript. Thus began the process of readying author profiles, updating the manuscript format to fit requirements, and submitting the file to Kindle Direct Publishing. 
We went live late Friday night.
The Blue Gem is now available for download via Kind…

NCAA men's college basketball: Prepping for March Madness

We are only a few weeks away from the start of the madness of men's college basketball and the NCAA tournament. In true fashion, the top of the deck is starting to form. There's been a lot of talk about how Zion Williamson and the Duke Blue Devils should be a clear number one seed heading into the 2019 NCAA tournament.
I don't buy it. And no, it's not because the Blue Devils lost the other night to the North Carolina Tar Heels and nearly lost their star player in the process. Zion Williamson's Nikes explode 😱 — TOM MARTIN (@TomKCTV5) February 21, 2019 It's true the Blue Devils looked a lot less invincible without their star player and presumed number one pick in this summer's NBA draft. As good as they are -- with a team full of talented players -- Duke wasn't as unbeatable as some made them out to be.
Many have given the title to Duke already. They still may very well win it, but there are other top teams to consider. The B…

NBA: Priority of 'load management' vs priority of the fans

Load management has become in chic in the NBA the last few years, with star players getting night's off to simply rest. Imagine, if you will, that in the following video, my viewpoint relates loosely to the words of Joey (Rossie Harris). And the opposing viewpoint relates to the words of the immortal Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. And even if the correlation doesn't ring true, at least enjoy the clip of Airplane!

Today's NBA, while highly entertaining, has a simple flaw that occasionally frustrates fans. Tanking is certainly a big problem (ask current fans of the New York Knicks) and creating super teams is something on the radar of fans as well. But it is stars sitting out games for the simple fact of rest that can be irksome. (Rest, or load management, as the Los Angeles Lakers labeled the reason why LeBron James sat out a game against the Golden State Warriors.)
In this instance of James sitting out -- in a marquee Saturday night matchup against the Golden State Warriors -- I so…

Another week, another challenge for Philip Rivers, Chargers

Two of the first three quarterbacks taken in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft have Super Bowl Rings to their credit. Is 2018 the year Philip Rivers joins Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger as a member of the club? Quarterback Philip Rivers of the San Diego Los Angeles Chargers has battled through a fair amount in his 15-year NFL career.
Traded on his first day for a player who never wanted to play in San Diego (Eli Manning), Rivers then sat behind future Super Bowl winner Drew Brees (with the New Orleans Saints in 2010) for two seasons before finally getting his shot.
In his 13 seasons as a starting quarterback, Rivers has won has many as 14 games in a season and as little as 4. He's played through injuries big and small and watched as superstars left San Diego for (seemingly) greener pastures. Rivers has also watched as his offensive line was a sieve for many seasons, allowing sack after sack, including 49 times in 2012.
Through it all, Rivers keeps smiling, keeps competing…

NFL: The 5 first-round rookie quarterbacks (thru week 17)

The 2018 NFL regular season is complete and along with it closes the first chapter to four of the five quarterbacks selected in the first round of last April's draft. Back in September, one could have easily imagined the Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson making it into the 2018 NFL playoffs.
Raise your hand if you knew Jackson would be the starting quarterback -- and not just some change-of-pace quarterback -- for the red-hot Ravens.
My magical internet glasses that allow me to see all of you would notice there are very little hands raised. But being the starting quarterback for the playoff bound Ravens is exactly where Jackson finds himself heading into 2019.
Jackson was the last of the five rookie quarterbacks selected in the 2018 NFL draft to get a start. The other four taken ahead of him -- Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen -- all started in at least 11 games but all will be watching as they playoffs open.
This is not to say each didn't have varying …

Christmas film favorites tournament: And the winner is...

The message in A Christmas Story is loud and clear: If someone in the room is telling you "you'll shoot your eye out", it's probably best to listen. In the holiday film A Christmas Story, it's all about listening.
Ignoring all rhyme and reason from the women in the film -- a mother and a teacher -- and one Santa who most definitely smells like beef and cheese, Ralphie's father (Darren McGavin) decides to buy young Ralph Parker (Peter Billingsley) a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas.
Lo and behold, Ralphie nearly shoots his eye out. Oh, the irony.
Of course, things go from bad to worse when Ralphie lies about nearly shooting his eye out, leading to a ruined turkey and the Bumpus' dogs getting the last laugh.
Merry Christmas to A Christmas Story, not only a holiday classic but also the winner of the 2018 '12 Days of Christmas holiday film tournament.
The 1983 film held on for a victory over the 1990 film Home Alone. After running neck-and-neck in the earl…

Christmas Letter 2018

In a way, Christmas 2018 started for me way back in the month of August. It was then I officially learned I'd be working on a Christmas show for Alley Repertory Theater, the theater company I've worked with the past seven years.
Now, getting in the Christmas spirit year-round hasn't been much of a problem for me the past ten years or so. Between working on a youth novel set at Christmas and writing a screenplay centered around the holidays -- more on that later -- the holidays have lived in my brain on a continual 12-month basis.
2018 was to be no different as Alley Rep would be mounting a production called Jodi Sings Judy.
This Christmas extravaganza was to be based off an episode of the short-lived variety program The Judy Garland Show. In 1963, in the show's one-and-only Christmas special, Judy invites the TV cameras into her home to share the holiday with her family and her good friends as they all informally drop by.  Young Joe and Lorna adorably sing off-key son…

Christmas Films Favorite Tournament: To Christmas film or not to Christmas film

The "12 Days of Christmas" holiday film continues as we've reached our final 16 holiday movies as voted on by you, the reader. One of the biggest questions floating around the internet these days regarding a holiday movie is this: what exactly constitutes a Christmas film?
The debate has been intensified over the years thanks to the movie Die Hard. Released in 1988 and starring Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman, the film follows John McClane (Willis) as he tries to take out German terrorist Hans Gruber (Rickman).
And it's set around the holidays at an office Christmas party. So, to many, it's very clearly a Christmas action film. Thirty years after its release, 20th Century Fox has entered their say into the debate:

Now, having a film set around the Christmas holiday is a pretty good start as to whether a film is a Christmas film. But how much of the story should actually revolve around the holiday to consider it such?
Take Meet Me in St. Louis for example. Widely r…