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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…

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…

Pulisic and McKennie era for the USMNT is upon us

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The United States Men's National team is once again in the finals of the Gold Cup, in large part due to the play of Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie. The 2019 Gold Cup has seen the USMNT alternately playing to their full potential while at times looking completely lost. Sometimes, this has happened multiple times in the same game.
In any case, one thing is certain: The Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie era has been ushered in.
Their efforts and talents were on full display on July 3 in a 3-1 victory over Jamaica in the semifinals of the Gold Cup. McKennie opened the scoring for the Americans and had some well-played passes that set up other scoring changes throughout the game.
Pulisic continued to live up to his reputation as one of the best young players in the game as he scored two second-half goals to secure USA's spot in the final. Continuing to be a master dazzler, emptying the tank on every play, refueling, and dazzling all over gain, Pulisic has been the star …

Women's World Cup 2019: Beware the VAR

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The quarterfinals of the 2019 are set and while the play has been mostly spectacular, the overuse of VAR looms like a dark cloud over the tournament. In implementing the use of VAR (video assistant referee), the game of soccer was to benefit and aid on-field referees in making correct calls.
This system has had its moments in the 2019 Women's World Cup, but it's also been a hindrance, sometimes to infuriating levels.
Rarely have I seen so many games with stoppage time of seven, eight, nine, and even ten minutes. Games in this World Cup have been delayed due to VAR too many times, ruining the flow of the game and, in some cases, a team's chances of advancing.
France and Nigeria both ended up advanced, but a late use of replay resulted in a goal for France and the Nigerians having to sweat out play of other teams before advancing.
Scotland vs Argentina and Cameroon vs England also had their fair share of VAR moments, with calls in these games affecting the final result.
Goa…