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 Tournament 2018: Yes Virginia, there is an UMBC

Pure madness.
The 2018 NCAA tournament was turned upside down on Friday night when UMBC -- that's the University of Maryland, Baltimore County for the less educated -- took down the number one seed Virginia Cavaliers 74-54.
That's right. History was made when a 16-seed took down a 1-seed.
135 of these matchups had been played without this happening before March 16, 2018. UMBC had never beaten a ranked team. Never, never, never.
Forget a Cinderella story. The Retrievers are now officially your favorite child, your best friend, your celebrity and for many of us, wreckers of brackets. That March feeling 🙌 — NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 17, 2018 There's nowhere officially to go but down for the rest of this tournament.
Not because of the thousands of tourney pools that were ruined. How do you top the 16-seed taking down the 1-seed?
The Retrievers did it in fine fashion, shooting 68% from the field in the second half…

NCAA tournament 2018: A Bull market on day one

Twelve hours of basketball -- plus change -- and the close of day one of the 2018 NCAA tournament is upon us.

Jumping from venue to venue on television, walking in on a Kentucky Wildcats pep rally, and meeting fans rooting for Arizona, Gonzaga, and beyond, the day has certainly been filled with joy.
The madness has been fairly limited, but Cinderella finally struck near the end of the day when the Buffalo Bulls defeated the Arizona Wildcats.
And it wasn't even close.
The Bulls held a slim two-point lead at halftime but what fans saw in the second half was an absolute throttling. Buffalo fired on all cylinders, knocking down threes and playing swarming defense and often limited Arizona to only one shot per possession, resulting in a 89-68 Bulls victory.

Wes Clark had 25 points and Jeremy Harris had 23 had the Bulls shot 15-30 from behind the arc.
It's not too often you see a 13-seed take down a 4-seed in such a fashion. In the process, many brackets were busted and the Wildcat…

4 teams to keep an eye on during the NCAA tournament

The weather is warming up (in most places). Birds are singing again. (Loudly, in some cases). And looming in the distance is the annual talk of rock, chalk, upsets, Cinderella stories, and brackets galore.
It's time for March Madness.
As I write this, we are a mere 30 minutes away from the brackets being announced. Already in the past few weeks there has been heartbreaks, colossal fails, and number one teams winning with ease.
For 68 teams, it's time to get back to business. 
Will this be the year a 16-seed finally beats a number one seed? Will we see a George Mason like run to the Final 4? We're about to find out.
The traditional powerhouses like Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, and Villanova are all present. So are teams like Virginia, Xavier, Kentucky, and Michigan.
We're not here to look at those teams.
We're here to look at four teams -- a couple of who might win it all, a couple who might snag that upset win -- that I think will make an impact on the tournament…

The Academy Awards: No predictions here (okay, maybe a few)

Sitting here, waiting for the Academy Awards to start, I wonder to myself, "Did I ever enjoy watching the red carpet arrivals? And if so, why?"
The event itself I have enjoyed, at least for the past 20 years. It was around that time I really zeroed in on wanting to be a writer -- specifically a screenwriter or playwright -- so extra attention was paid to that year's ceremony. 
Going forward, and to this day, I don't believe I've missed any showing of the Academy Awards. 
The event itself is a self-congratulatory affair but also one recognizing some of the best work of the previous year. The industry will always be a subjective one -- as it is with writing, music, and art in general -- and so often debates can rage for years about winners (and non-winners) alike. 
Some best picture winners are easily forgotten or looked at differently over time. Others stand the test of time and can be enjoyed by present and future audiences alike.
Do we watch to celebrate these …

2018 Winter Olympics: Bobsledding our way through the week

The 2018 Winter Olympics are nearly over and with it, the story of Jamaica and Nigeria having women's bobsled teams.
When's the movie coming out?
The qualifying of these teams reminds many of the inexperienced team with gigantic hearts from Jamaica immortalized in the Disney film Cool Runnings. They, too, came out of nowhere in the 1988 games to capture hearts.
Their story -- as we've learned over time -- isn't quite what we remember it to be from the film. 

Interesting tidbits aside, it is still inspiring to see new teams from countries you'd think might not have a team.
The Nigerian team became the first bobsled team from an African nation to compete in the women's event. And though they finished in 20th-place, nearly four seconds behind 19th-place Jamaica, the smiles on their faces said it all.
This is what competing in the Olympics is all about.
Whether it's a bobsled team or Elizabeth Swaney competing for Hungary in the halfpipe, competing at the high…

NBA: No need for a new playoff format

In effort to keep the attention of fans in an ever-changing viewing landscape, sports leagues are in constant search of ways to keep eyes on their respective sport.
The NBA might be throwing their hat in the ring for a change in playoff seeding to do exactly that, if what Adam Silver says is correct.
Talk of seeding the teams 1-16 appears to be heating up. What's up in the air is whether the top-eight teams from each conference will go -- honoring division champions -- and seeded from there or if the playoffs will simply be the top-16 teams.
How about neither and we just stick with the status quo?
The NBA is one of the major sports leagues not losing fans or viewership. In fact, in an age when baseball is losing fans and the NFL is losing viewership, the NBA is holding strong and even gaining momentum in certain areas. Why mess with what's working?
I'm pretty traditional when it comes to sports. I still enjoy them and tend to watch less and less if rules changes and over …