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New fantasy novel release: The Blue Gem

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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…

NFL 1st-round quarterbacks from 2018: Halfway through 2nd season

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Five quarterbacks were taken in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft. This is the latest in the series charting their progress, now through week 9 of their second season. Two quarterbacks who were selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft are on track to make the playoffs in their second season.
It just may not be the two who many pundits had tabbed to lead their respective team to the playoffs in 2019.
Halfway through the 2019 season, the playoff race is already taking shape, in a muddled kind of way. Teams like the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, and New Orleans Saints are all where they are supposed to be, sitting atop their divisions.
And there are surprises as well, with the San Francisco 49ers, behind a suffocating defense and efficient offense, the only undefeated team at 8-0. It seems we were all too busy anointing the Cleveland Browns the next NFL darlings to see what was really developing.
The Browns and Baker Mayfield are one of the le…

NFL: 1st-round quarterbacks from 2018 draft on cusp of next level

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Five quarterbacks were taken in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft. This is the continued series charting their progress, now through week 4 of year two. In 2004, four quarterbacks were selected in the NFL draft. There was Eli Manning, selected by the San Diego Chargers but traded to the New York Giants for Philip Rivers, who was taken with the fourth pick. Ben Roethlisberger went at no. 11 to the Pittsburgh Steelers, while the Buffalo Bills selected J.P. Losman with the 22nd-pick.
A trio of these quarterbacks have gone on to what are likely Hall of Fame careers (apologies to Losman, who still ended up playing in parts of eight seasons in the NFL). Manning, Rivers, and Roethlisberger all have stats and accolades worthy to be considered among the best of all-time.
Will the quarterbacks taken in the first round of 2018 end up on the same path?
Now in their second season, a trio from this class is starting to separate themselves from the pack. Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, and Josh …

Five quarterbacks taken in first-round of 2018: Season 2

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The 2019 NFL season is upon us, meaning we continue this journey of following the progress of the five quarterbacks taken in the first round of the 2018 draft. It used to be rookie quarterbacks starting right away was a rarity in the NFL. The youngsters needed to learn the playbook first and do so while also adjusting to the speed of the pros. The idea of throwing these rookies, especially those taken in the first round and their accompanying salaries, to the proverbial wolves was out of the question.
In 2018, that idea was tossed aside, for the most part, as the five quarterbacks taken in the first round of April's draft were all starting by season's end.
All had varying degrees of success in their rookie year and most all proved worthy of their first-round selection.
In 2019, taking the next step is expected from all of these quarterbacks. Four of them are still starting for the team that selected them in the draft. The fifth, Josh Rosen, was sent packing from Arizona when …

Summer afternoons of forgotten youth

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Now and again, I take to writing about a memory or, as the mood strikes, a general feeling that enters into my heart. Today is one of those days. Enjoy!

There is something about the hum of a fan whirling, especially in the afternoon of a hot, summer day, that takes me back to my youth.
An empty silence, devoid of sounds from the television and the bass line of music, fills the ears. The only sound is that of the fan. 
In the back room of the ancient house, there are two beds, of which I'm laying on the smaller. It's a twin bed, mattresses stacked high while a queen-sized bed nearby is empty, sheets still untucked from the night prior. The room, along with the entire house, smells of stale nicotine but I don't mind. The odor is rooted in the walls, floors, and skeleton of this house, thanks to grandparents who smoked inside for 25 years. It's a smell that acts as a bridge connecting the past to the present, if there is such a thing; one that is intoxicating, a reminder …

The star-crossed paths of Christopher Meloni and Elias Koteas

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Two actors, both who inhabited the world of Dick Wolf produced shows, have been in the business for 30 plus years. It's time to get them in a show together. It's sad to think the paths of detectives Olinsky and Stabler never crossed paths. If they had, it might have been the best hour of television in the history of the medium developed by Philo Farnsworth.
In case you're not familiar with either -- or one -- of these characters, let's cover the basics. Alvin Olinsky, humbly played by Elias Koteas, appeared on the first five seasons of Chicago P.D. Soft-spoken, full of wisdom, stoic, and intense when needed, Olinsky was a throwback cop, sometimes with an unorthodox way of contributing to a case.
Elliot Stabler, portrayed by Christopher Meloni, might be the more recognizable of the two. For 12 seasons, he was part of the Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Stabler team that helped put away the scumbags in the Law and Order: SVU universe.
The Dick Wolf produced dramas of Chic…

The trouble with expanding television shows that had an end point

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In an ever-growing entertainment landscape, finding the right balance as when to end a show is becoming an increasingly difficult task to master. There is something to be said about ending a series on a good note. Whether it's after one season or ten, the creator(s) of said series desire to tell as many stories of the world they created. I imagine if I were lucky enough to be put in that position, the choice would be a difficult -- but good -- one to have to make.
It's currently not something I have to worry about but as someone who has spent their life watching television, while also wanting to write in that medium, there is plenty of good entertainment to choose from. Content developed for streaming services, cable, and broadcast television is at an all-time high. It's often difficult to keep up with everything -- something I've given up on trying to do -- and it leaves viewers having to pick and choose what to watch and give dedication to more than ever before.
Arg…

Women's World Cup: Prep for final between USA and Netherlands

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courtesy of flickr.com The finale of the 2019 World Cup happens on July 7, with the United States taking on Netherlands. A preview of this, plus a little bit about Alex Morgan's celebration. One of the most iconic celebrations in the history of United States soccer -- both men and women alike -- is when Brandi Chastain ripped off her shirt  after a penalty kick to help deliver the World Cup to the USA in 1999.
The moment was captured and lived on in magazines and newspapers, a moment of pure bliss and elation from converting on the biggest stage of them all.
Scoring a goal in soccer, especially in the World Cup, is always worth celebrating. Chastain's was certainly a response to the heightened moment, letting the energy flow. Creative juices are part of the goal-scoring experience, whether it's a planned team effort or simply showing off in the moment.
No matter the case, I would have never believed so much attention would be given to a simple gesture of drinking tea, as h…