Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What’s Up with This Gender Debate in Sports Love?

Okay, who out there likes sports? In particular, who enjoys hockey? I do. Not a shock if you have hung around here for any length of time. I mean, not every post I publish is about hockey but a good majority of them are. In fact I just counted and out of my 412 posts since I started this blog in October 2007 I tagged 57 with something related to hockey or the Bruins. 14%? Not a bad stat. But also clearly not all I ever write about (despite what some of you might think come playoff time).

As most of you know by now my first novel, Ripple the Twine, is about a female Sportswriter from Boston who is obsessed with the Bruins. I used to be that girl too; many years ago I was quite the hockey fan. I went to lots of games with friends and family, professional or even just my high school games in town. The Beanpot was something I grew up watching every winter. But I let hockey slide when I got more into football back in the Nineties and only revived my intense love of the ice when I wrote the book. You all know the story by now.

When I came back to hockey a lot had changed as far as rules and the like and I wasn’t well versed in how to follow along with more than the puck. Then I started thinking about it and realized that back in the day I called myself a big fan of the Bruins but if we’re being honest here I didn’t know anything more than the names/numbers on the back of the guys sweaters and that if the puck went in the net you scored a goal.

But no one was kicking me out of The Garden or laughing at me because I couldn’t talk Goalie GAA and didn’t know what a two-way forward was. I stood up and cheered when those pucks hit the twine along with the other 17,000 some odd people and I’d wager that a good majority of them were just like me.

No, not female. Clueless in general. But not because of gender.

Fast forward to doing the research for Ripple, I got into a whole world of new information. I mean I was writing the character of a Bruins-obsessed Sportswriter. A female one in a man-centric world. I had to know more about the sport so I could make her convincing. I had to know what would make her tick and I really started to pay attention to the game. To the players, how plays form, how a winger knows exactly what his line mate is going to do and why. How it’s so much more than scoring and/or stopping goals.

And let me tell you I was hooked. Pun intended.

The action, the pace, the skill level of these athletes is, in my opinion, unmatched in the world of sports. Because they train and battle just as hard as any other athlete but they do it on a slippery surface in skates at extremely high rates of speed. Hardcore.

And then there was the cuteness. Now as a self-proclaimed Tomboy I’m pretty much always going to have a thing for the rough and tumbled Townie types. Not sure just what that is? Here’s a visual guide:

Andy Ference, Keith Yandle, Carey Price, Zach Parise, Rick Nash, Patrick Kane, Jerome Iginla

It seemed great that I could watch sports and appreciate the game play but that as a female (who is attracted to men) I got the best of both worlds in that I could appreciate the hotness of the players too. I never thought twice that it would be considered a bad thing to think a guy was attractive. All those guys in that graphic up there are current roster players on one team or another (But yeah, I omitted Sydney Crosby just because).

It never occurred to me that females were frowned upon in a sports community because they could enjoy a good looking man in addition to a hard hitting sport. Or that their knowledge of a sport would be called into question because of their gender. Or that just because they like the color pink they’d be labeled idiots in the eyes of the “official” sports police: aka men.

It never occurred to me I’d have to defend my knowledge base to men. I just liked talking about and watching sports.

Kathryn Tappen moved from NESN to NHLSN and she certainly isn’t laughed at. Naoko Funayama is the ice-level commentator for the Bruins. It never occurred to me that females would let themselves be frowned upon. And then I came across this controversial article the other day (this is a re-post of the one from the NY Rangers site that was taken down after the deluge of backlash that ensued).

You should read it, I’ll wait.

You got all that? Yeah I just have one question for the writer of this article:

Um…what the fuck?

Now here’s the thing. Do I begrudge this writer her opinion? No not in the least. If she’s more comfortable going to 70% off sales and asking the man in her life for advice on how to be a fan of sports then that’s her business. What I can’t get behind is her willingness to just put it out there so casually as if the entire female population should nod along in agreement and start saying ‘Oh good, finally I can stop watching sports seeing as though I only did it for my dad/grampa/husband/brother/boyfriend/uncle/friend and get back to Macy’s where I belong.”

The Rangers were smart and took it down but this narrow view going up at all makes me sad. I wonder if the man in her life is writing the ‘Men’s Guide to Asking Women About Shopping’. Because lord knows none of them ever did anything for themselves before we came along, right ladies? Thank goodness we were able to save them from all that confusion!


I’m not saying that women shouldn’t ask those in the know for help if sports is something they don’t understand and want to take a more active role in enjoying. And I’m definitely not saying they shouldn’t ask a man for that help. All I’m saying is why assume it has to be something a man knows and a woman doesn’t? Or that a man cares more than a woman?

In our house my husband taught me the finer points of baseball and I taught him the finer points of football and hockey. Neither of us looked down on the other for not knowing. Matt does most of the cooking. He’s the romantic one most of the time. I know lots of stuff about tools and construction.

Does this make us any less man or woman? Hell no.

So as the controversy continues to swirl about this posting I beg all of you to think more about how this relates to the perceived notions of the sexes and their roles in society and not how women can be just as big fans of sports as men.

Because in the end I don’t think the article had as much to do with sports fandom as a gender’s alleged place in the lineup.

Photos from here, here, and here

Friday, January 25, 2013

The A to Z of Me

I’ve been wanting to blog for a few days but didn’t want another ranty medical post where I go on and on about how doctors have gleefully taken my money without giving me much in the way of symptom alleviation. I’m over it and want to get on with life again so here’s the perfect way to do that – a totally recoculous meme that will add absolutely no value to the ever growing number of posts I’ve shared with the world! Hooray! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to lighten it up Launna.

Of course you know I had to add to this because apparently whoever originally did the A-Z part failed to remember that H, N and O are part of the alphabet. So I improvised and created my own based on the unique voice of the meme. If you steal this for your blog feel free to do the same. Or not, either way it’s all gravy baby.

Age - 39 and mostly proud of it but I do miss my 22 year old body and energy. Though I do not miss the lack of experience in knowing better.

Bed Size - King and it’s glorious. For the first 8+ years of our relationship we were in a full size bed. Many of those years included a cat who slept next to my husband. I stretch at night and anyone who has ever had a cat knows they take up at least half the mattress. Matt is finally able to sleep in a position other than shavasana for the first time in our married life.

Chore You Hate - Shredding and filing. I wish everything could be paperless because I let it pile up for months before doing anything about it. Luckily I’m the only one in my office most of the time so no one else sees it. I’m a clutter free home but this is my one hold out from my past messy life I just can’t break.

Dogs - Are fine for other people but far too much work for me.

Essential Start To My Day - Steel cut oats with a squirt of agave & cinnamon, a big cup of water and a multi-vitamin. I miss coffee every day.

Favorite Color - Purple or red, sometimes black and frequently all the others.

Gold or Silver - Both but I’m a fan of white gold over golden gold. Though I’ve been known to rock the ghetto gold from time to time for fun.

House or Apartment - We moved into our house about eight months ago and they’ve already raised our taxes. But that’s good because the appraised value went up. And that’s never a bad thing.

Instruments Played - Drums. Been so long since I sold my kit before we moved and I miss them a lot. Right now I’m relegated to playing the electronic kit that comes with Rock Band. Since my weirdness started that’s been a rare occurrence but I still get the itch.

Job Title - Author, blogger and Owner of the Independent title self-publishing house Writesy Press.

Kids - Are fine for other people but far too much work for me. Or, see Dogs.

Live - The life you want to live because you only go around once and no one should ever dictate how you spend those days.

Married - A great guy who you all know by now, Matt.

Never Again - Will I ever live somewhere it gets cold and snows. All this winter hearing about the whack-a-doo temperatures back in Massachusetts I’ve been so happy to live here. Our “winter” was less than a week long and sure it was record lows for Arizona and we had to cover plants as well as leave faucets running overnight but like I said, those bottom-out temps lasted four days. People back east will be on the winter roller coaster for four months or more. I like that temps are already in the 70’s and the sun shines almost every day. No more SAD for me! I know the saying goes ‘never say never’ but I haven’t taken any advice from Justin Bieber yet and I don’t plan to start anytime soon.

Other Fun Fact - I’m working on pulling all of my poetry (free verse and otherwise) together to compile into an expanded second edition of Trying for the Moon which I hope to release in the next couple months (probably only in print). So far I have over 30 works to include and I haven’t even started going through my box of writing and journals. This is going to be fun and hopefully nudge me to start writing some free verse again. My last one was a long time ago.

Pet Peeve - People that can’t grasp the English language who are in customer service jobs that involve responding in English. There are many (many, many) others but this one is fresh on my mind after yesterday’s CS online chat experience where the rep actually used the phrase “those informations” and I could do nothing more than sigh.

Quote - Music is my savior much of the time and most of my favorite quotes come from songs. Two have been stuck in my head recently.

“All my life I’ve been searchin’ for somethin’, somethin’ never comes never leads to nothin’, nothin’ satisfies but I’m getting’ close. Closer to the prize at the end of the rope.”
– Foo Fighters

“It’s when you cry just a little, but you laugh in the middle, that you’ve made it.”
- Jason Mraz

Righty or Lefty - Righty but I can paint with both hands if I have to (Not like an artist type painter on canvas, I mean cutting in a room or painting trim. Sometimes you just can’t get that right hand to move into a tight spot, I learned to adapt.)

Siblings - One and the very best sister the world could ever know, I am extremely lucky!

Time You Wake Up - Usually between 7:00-7:30 but on insomnia days I might get out of bed at 6:00. And lately I’ve been waking up at least 2-3 times a night with vertigo or other weirdness. The bags under my eyes are starting to show it too.

University Attended - More than I care to list considering I never finished. Now I study in the school of life. A way more valuable education if you ask me.

Veggies You Dislike - Mushrooms. Man, even writing the word makes me gag a little.

What Makes You Run Late - When the thing I’m doing is more fun than the thing I’m going to do. Funny though, and those people who know me in real life will likely never believe this, but since moving to Arizona I don’t think I’ve been technically “late” more than once or twice and generally that was for happy hour so I’m not sure it even counts. I arrive everywhere fifteen minutes early now.

X-Rays - I’ve had more for my mouth in the last 2 years than I’d know what to do with but other than that I can’t really think of anything else I’ve had scanned.

Yum Food - Lately I’ve been addicted to my afternoon smoothie – blue/black/raspberry, vanilla yogurt, baby spinach & almond milk. But my ultimate comfort food is probably Stouffer’s mac n’ cheese. Can’t (and don’t) eat it very often anymore but even thinking about it is making my mouth water.

Zoo Animal Favorite - Bears! Lions and tigers are pretty cool too and out here we have a few desert animal zoos with all the cats. They’re fascinating to watch because they’re just like house cats – nap all the time and are generally disinterested in showing you they enjoy that you’re paying attention to them.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

How the Return of NHL Hockey has Helped My Book Sales

Back in 2009 during NaNoWriMo, I furiously typed up the first draft of my very first novel. The main character was a lot like me - in her thirties, from Boston, and a rabid sports fan. Growing up in Boston it’s almost impossible to avoid being a fan of at least one sport. As a kid I fell in love with three major league sports - football, baseball and of course hockey.

When I started writing Ripple the Twine I knew Sara Quinn would be a freelance Sportswriter and I needed to give her a sport she could cheer for in a meaningful way. In the late 90's I'd stepped away from my love of hockey for other sports. The Bruins weren't very good (Note: this is not a deal breaker for a Bostonian as we are not fair-weather fans, can someone say rabid fan love and no World Series win in almost 100 years? Exactly.) Something just drew me to other sports.

I was heavy into NFL football at the time and following the Patriots (perfect example of a team New England loved but one that still constantly let us down in the 90’s). But I wanted a challenge, something I could research, so I decided to pen her as a Bruins fan. While writing her character my love for this fast-paced, heart-pumping sport was revived (with vigor!) and I found myself at countless games with my Aunt, watching almost every other one on television and out buying myself team merch.

The team was working hard and lots of trades happened that really solidified the power of the team. I worked on editing my book in late 2009 through early 2010 and started shopping it to Agents in late spring of that year. Sadly many a form rejection graced my mailbox.

If only all of us had the foresight to know what was to come over the course of the next year!

I kept querying the book and I tried to tie into the major hockey vein running through the main character's life not to mention her love of the Bruins. Especially since the team was starting to get good. Starting to get really good.

In December of 2010 I told my Aunt I knew they were going to win the Cup that season. Don’t ask me how I knew, there was just something about the team, something surrounding them that hadn’t been there before and all the pieces seemed to be falling into place. Unfortunately I must not have been a very good query writer because I continued to face rejection after rejection.

A stark contrast to the Bruins who just kept winning, kept pushing forward and advancing further and further.

After years of being shut down in the first or second round of playoffs the Bruins took the Eastern Conference title in May of 2011. My Aunt and I were at game 4 when they shut out the Flyers, a night I will never forget as long as I live. They won the next series as well and for the first time in my lifetime the team advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals.

On June 15, 2011 the Boston Bruins won their first Stanley Cup in 39 years. I was 38. My novel was only 1-1/2. And though we partied at the rolling rally parade I knew I’d missed my window for a major tie-in that could have propelled book sales for a publishing house and for me.

Then we moved from Massachusetts to Phoenix and I put the book in a drawer because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it anymore.

I was frustrated and had moved on to a new manuscript. I’d moved on to other endeavors. I ordered Center Ice and watched as many Bruins games as I could get my eyes on living in the desert. My Aunt even came to visit and timed her trip so we could see the Bruins take on the Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena. My fingers furiously pounded on the keyboard as I blogged constantly or worked on other fiction pieces.

Then I joined the Scottsdale Society of Women Writers and something inside just clicked. I pulled Ripple the Twine back out of the drawer and ran it through two more rounds of edits. I worked on the book non-stop. I hired my mom to shoot and format my cover art. I opened my own publishing house, Writesy Press, in January of 2012. I formatted the pages, found a print on demand publisher I felt comfortable with and said screw Agents and big houses, I’m doing this on my own!

On April 20, 2012 I self-published Ripple the Twine. My excitement for the book couldn’t be equaled. The day I’d gotten my first proof in the mail – a paperback book that I wrote with my name on the cover – I literally danced around my apartment for at least an hour. I told my husband he was taking the sofa that night – my book deserved his half of the bed.

The book did really well in its first few months selling numerous copies to friends and family and even some people I didn’t know. An old friend had even suggested to her husband to pick up a copy for his library in Newton, MA and he did. I considered querying it again but there was no time. I was on to writing and editing my second book!

In early fall sales for Ripple fell off completely. Surprisingly so did the NHL as the players and mucky-mucks couldn’t come to terms on salary and the sport entered a lockout. So I kept at work on my new novella, Reckless Abandon. I was nuts - editing seven days a week so I could have it released in fall as an eBook and then in print just in time for Christmas.

An unexpected health issue arose in November and though the eBook was released to rave reviews (thank you!), the print version was going to have to wait. I finally got that going at the end of the year and released it in early January, 2013. But then I thought back to how simple it was to publish an eBook on Amazon and decided it was high time to format Ripple for e-Readers everywhere.

I completed the formatting on January 4, 2013. Now I’m not saying that my book is responsible for anything in the world of hockey but after the Stanley Cup win and start of the lockout I think it’s only fair to point out that the lockout came to a conclusion on January 6, 2013.


Now as NHL hockey comes back and the premiere of a new show all about a South Boston family come barreling into the mainstream (Southie Rules, A&E January 29 – Can. Not. Wait!) I can’t help but send my love to the Tomboys and Townies back in my hometown. The Google searches and revived interest in our somewhat rough and tumbled Boston culture have spawned new interest and new life in my self-published first title.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go check the B’s schedule, we only get 48 games this season and I intend to watch as many as I can.

Monday, January 7, 2013

I Should Probably Blog...

Is something I've been saying to myself for weeks. But I've been seemingly inactive in my life since my last post in early December. And I'm not one to blog just to get a post out there if it isn't going to say something.

Okay to be fair that's not always true. But my last three posts of the year were about not knowing what's going on with my health and as of right now I'm kind of in the same place so it really seemed like I had nothing new to say. Head scratching for my head swimminess.

I saw an ENT and he diagnosed me with BPPV just before the holidays. Its benign paroxsymal positional vertigo. Basically the rocks in my ear shook loose and its causing the wonkiness - a word I told him I'm patenting for this particular condition. It isn't life threatning or anything so all I had to do was go in for him to perform the Epley maneuver and I should be 100%. After 2 weeks I'm still exactly the same.

Then I found out Meneire's disease runs in my family and told the doc that history and fact I'm still the same. The ENT is sending me to a Vestibular Therapist this week. Oh joy. Another medical professional. I'm just tired of all this, I want it behind me and done, because frankly I'm so sick of thinking about it, living with it and talking about it I could just give up at this point.

I miss my life, leaving the house without having to plan it around meals, hiking, yoga, playing rock band, sleeping on my stomach (aka sleeping at all), coffee, a glass of wine with friends at happy hour.

This best be the last stop. If they can't figure it out or fix it I'm left with Acupuncture (which I might just do anyway) and a Neurologist. Which I'll do if I have to but it scares me to think what might be wrong if I have to go to that doc. But not thinking about that crap unless I have to so onto other things.

In better and happier news...

I finally got "Reckless Abandon" formatted for print & the book loaded on CreateSpace. Should be available on Amazon any day now. And I'm starting formatting on "Ripple the Twine" today to get it ready for eBook. Now both will be available in both formats which is exciting.

I'm writing this from my phone in the warmest part of the house so I'm sorry to say I don't have the links. I know, what kind of sales person am I, right? I'm sure most of you are Facebook friends by now or if not maybe you folllow my Jenn Flynn-Shon FB Author page. Links are there http://www.facebook.com/JennFlynnShon if you're interested.

Now here's hoping the VT fixes me up right this week sometime so I can get back to working on the sequel to Reckless. And so I can just get back to living my life like a normal person so this blog doesn't end up becoming all about my stupid health issues. Because at this point its even starting to bore me.

And although I'm late - Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!