“Hat Trick 2″ Blog Tour Continues

Hat_Trick2_Playing_the_Rebound_sidebarHat Trick 2: Playing the Rebound is officially available now! For the first week, the ebook is only available at JMS Books. Get yours today!

Make sure to stop by the Hat Trick 2 blog tour over the next couple weeks. You’ll find out more about the book, read exclusive excerpts and, at many of the stops, have a chance to win a free ebook copy.

FRIDAY’S TOUR STOP:
I’m hanging out with the awesome Wade Kelly for her Friend Friday series. She asks some great questions and I’m giving away an ebook to one lucky commenter. Please stop by for some fun.

The next tour stop is tomorrow…

FULL TOUR SCHEDULE:

SYTYCD 11 Top 16: Tanisha’s Night!

So You Think You Can DanceI’m not sure how Tanisha ended up in the bottom three women on this week’s So You Think You Can Dance. Tanisha and Ricky were both excellent in the Broadway number last week (sure, they didn’t make my top three, but I did call them out). Yet, there she was stuck in the bottom.

She certainly rebounded from that during the show last night with a killer number with Ricky as well as standout moments in the Sonya Tayeh choreographed mini group number. It was the right time to shine as it made sending her home nearly impossible.

That we lost Brooklyn and Marcquet was not too surprising. Marcquet wasn’t doing great in the past weeks and Brooklyn certainly hit rock bottom last night in an abysmal hip hop routine, which, at least for me, did little to make her worth saving.

Here’s my top three for this week:

#1 - Ricky & Tanisha – Hip Hop – Choreographed by Dave Scott: Probably not surprising based on my comment above, Tanisha shows up here. This number was incredible and Tanisha owned every aspect of it, from her character, to the super sexy outfit to hitting every move with sharp power. Ricky was no slouch either exuding power and attitude of his own. This number rocked in every possible way.

#2 - Emilio & Bridget – Contemporary – Choreographed by Travis Wall: This was gorgeous. Emilio and Bridget sold the story completely and the dancing was incredible. They different ways Bridget kept pulling Emilio back was so powerful. Emilio was so surprising too. He’s a hip hop guy looking so confident in complex contemporary. This number reminded me a bit of Kupono and Kayla’s addiction routine that Mia Michaels choreographed a few seasons ago.

#3 – Zach & Jacque – Jazz – Choreographed by Sonya Tayeh: This was a surprise too. I’m liking Zack better every week. This was a complex number, as Sonya’s often are, and both of these dancers were excellent. It had a little bit of quirky and a whole lot of emotional impact. I loved every second of it, and especially Zack excelling so far outside his style.

Some other notes from the evening:

  • The mini-group numbers from Sonya and Travis were great. I liked seeing Travis pushing his style too as his piece didn’t have the feel of a Travis Wall group number.
  • There were two dances that did not work for me at all: Ricky and Valerie got stuck with Bollywood and I didn’t like despite their best efforts to sell it. I wish SYTYCD would get another choreographer for this style because I haven’t liked Nakul Dev Mahajan’s work for a few seasons now. WIlldaBeast’s hip hop number was a mess. I’m not sure if I didn’t like the choreography or just how it was done. Casey and Brooklyn were, for sure, not approaching hip hop correctly as it was too clean and perfect.
  • Marcquet and Jesscia’s fox trot was very enjoyable. I know the judges didn’t care for it, but I thought it was lovely.
  • Serge and Carly did their best dance yet with what Mandy Moore gave them (Moore, by the way, also delivered my favorite opening number of the season).

Next week is going to be rough because four dancers go home in order to create the top 10. My picks to go: Serge, Casey, Jessica, Carly.

Also…. Saturday is National Dance Day…. so hope you have a happy NDD!

The Feels and Me

Feels: A wave of emotions that sometimes cannot be adequately explained

Apparently using “feels” this way has been around for at least a couple years. It only entered my vocabulary as part of the John Green/Fault in our Stars phenomenon. The book and film brought on an enormous amount of feels to many, myself included.

To me, the feels are good things. The feels means something is extraordinary. I love things that bring on the feels.

Giving people the feels is something I aspired to, but it seemed meant more for the John Greens and David Levithans of the world.

So, I had feels of my own this week when the word cropped up twice in reference to the Hat Trick books.

The first came on Monday via a Twitter DM from a follower who’d finished Hat Trick 2: “Oh man… boom.. right in the feels once more at the end!”

The second was in a five-star review of Hat Trick from Dallas Vinson on Goodreads: “ I thought this was going to be an easy sailing romantic story until everything took a very sudden turn and Jeff managed to rip my feels to shreds. Then managed to do it a couple more times before the book ended.”

Maybe I’m making too much out of these comments, but I’m very happy that I was able to craft a story that had that impact on readers. Now I just need to keep doing it… and doing it even better.

McKinleyville is Home

It’s been a busy ten days since we left New York City. The major things we’ve accomplished have all happened within this week.

On Wednesday we signed a lease for a house in McKinleyville, which is about 10 miles north of Eureka. You can check out the lay of the land on the map.

Thursday, since we had an address, we bought a car. We could wait to get an address because our good friends Chris and Peggy had a spare vehicle to loan us so we weren’t burning money on a rental (thanks, Chris & Peggy… and Matt, whose car it will eventually be). We bought a zippy little Kia Rio. It gets good mileage, has an audio system that makes me happy and should serve us well for years to come.

Friday we did more mundane things like buying a washer and dryer and some other things for the home.

We like our house a lot. It’s in a nice neighborhood. It’s a roomy three bedroom, two bath with a lot of natural light (including skylights in the kitchen and one of the bathrooms), a two car garage, washer/dryer hookups (yay, no more laundromats) and tons of closet space. There’s also a small patio and fenced yard so we’ve got some outside (although not a ton, which is good to keep maintenance low).

home

It’s been great being back here. It truly feels like being home after a long time away. We’ve already seen a show at Redwood Curtain, been to several of our favorite restaurants (including the newly opened–or reopened–Curly’s Full Circle in Ferndale). We’ve also hit the used book stores in Eureka (two), Arcata (two) and McKinleyville (one).

We’ll be settled into the house by the end of the month. Essentially we’ll be on vacation this coming week while we’re waiting on our stuff to get here (the truck is still on the East Coast as I write this on Saturday night). Our stuff should arrive between the 25th and 30th, hopefully on the earlier side of that. The cable/internet gets installed next Friday and our washer/dryer show up on the 30th.

Now eagerly looking forward to getting set up and into a regular routine again.

SYTYCD 11 Top 18: Lyrical Hip Hop & Viennese Waltz Tops!

So You Think You Can DanceIt was a mixed bag on So You Think You Can Dance this week as some dances were simply sublime and others left me flat. Sure, week to week there are always a couple dances that don’t rise to the level of excellence, but this week there were ones that failed because the dancers didn’t make a connection with me, and ones because the choreography wasn’t up to snuff.

This week’s top three, however, were easy to pick although difficult to rank… hence the tie in the top spot.

#1 (tie)  – Zack  & Jacque – (Lyrical) Hip Hop – Choreographed by Keone and Mari Madrid
and
Ricky & Valerie – Viennese Waltz – Choreographed by Lacey Schwimmer: 
These were both sublime and exemplify why I love this show. The artistry in both of these routines is simply extraordinary.

Zack and Jacque opened the couple portion of the show with this beautiful hip hop number. Yes, the show called it hip hop, but it’s much more in the lyrical hip hop category. It reminds me, as it did Mary, of Mark & Chelsea’s “Burning Love” from season 4. Zack and Jacque hit all of the intricate movements, gave us tons of emotions and excelled in every way. Watch the clip and watch how in sync they are when they need to be, but how they also end up interlocking with each other when they come back together from doing separate movements. Amazing!

I love everything about the movement of Viennese Waltz, the rise and fall as the dancers cross the floor, the flourishes that are worked in. It’s romantic and beautiful. Ricky and Valerie nailed it and it made me swoon. In particular the musicality of this dance is incredible as their moves match to the music so well. This couple continues to be my week-to-week favorite, and I expect them to stay there.

#3 - Casey & Brooklyn – Jazz – Choreographed by Bonnie Story: Not only is this a super fun and bouncy number, but Casey does a couple of amazing turns in here. In the clip you’ll see him spin while holding his leg (at 25 seconds) and then spin himself into a drop (at 1:05). Those moves, plus their bubbliness sent this dance right into the top three for me.

Some other random thoughts for the week:

  • The show opened with a great group number this week from Chris “Pharside” Jennings. It had an LXD feel to it and I liked that a lot.
  • Warren Carlyle choreographed a great Broadway routine for Rudy and Tanisha that showed how to do Broadway without being too derivative. Rudy and Tanisha also performed it fantastically.
  • In terms of what was disappointing this week: Marcquet and Jourdan fell short on chemistry. Stanley and Jessica got saddled with a bad jazz routine that they went on to not perform well. Serge and Carly had the same problem with their hip hop number. With Stanley and Jourdan out, Marcquet and Jessica get to form a new partnership next week. Hopefully they’ll rebound and have a stellar performance. This is the second week I’ve not liked Serge and Carly, I wouldn’t mind seeing them eliminated next week.
  • I did like Bridget & Emilio’s jive and Teddy & Emily’s contemporary. Hopefully both couples will continue on next week.

“Hat Trick” is FREE Today. “Hat Trick 2″ Debuts Sunday Along with Blog Tour

Hat_Trick_sidebarIt’s an exciting week in the world of Hat Trick!

NEW REVIEW: First up, back on Monday, Jason at Joyfully Jay posted a 4.75 star review of Hat Trick and Hat Trick Overtime: A Classic Winter’s Night. I’m truly honored that Hat Trick has been so well received by readers (more reviews are available here).

FREE E-BOOK TODAY: If you haven’t read Hat Trick yet, today (July 17 only) you can get the FREE E-BOOK over at JMS Books as part of JMS’ 4th Anniversary celebration. Just click here and download it from the book’s page. You can also pick up the always free short story Hat Trick Overtime: A Classic Winter’s Night there as well.

Hat_Trick2_Playing_the_Rebound_sidebarHAT TRICK 2 DEBUTS SUNDAY: Coming up on Sunday, July 20, Hat Trick 2: Playing the Rebound publishes from JMS Books. Even before it publishes, you can check out the blurb as well as an excerpt over on the JMS site.

I’ve got a blog tour lined up to coincide with the Hat Trick 2 launch. I’ll be on several blogs talking about the book and, on many tour stops, giving you the chance to win a free e-book copy.

Here’s the tour schedule so far (subject to change, so check back for any updates):

I hope you’ll stop by some or all of the tour stops and say hello. Most of all I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Hat Trick 2 (as well as the original Hat Trick if you’re new to the series) and that you’ll enjoy it!

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the ApesThe reboot of the Planet of the Apes franchise keeps making excellent films. Rise of the Planet of the Apes from 2011 set the bar high for future Apes movies and this weekend’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes proved itself to be a worthy sequel.

The film picks up roughly 10 years after Rise. The pandemic that’s hinted at in Rise has happened and virtually no humans are left. In fact the intro to the film quickly, and interestingly, chronicles the end of the humans. The film quickly catches up with Caesar and his band of apes. Those apes soon find humans among them and it doesn’t take long for conflict to arise as the two sides don’t understand or trust each other.

NOTE: There’s some spoilery material in the following paragraph…

The film is extraordinary on many levels, starting with the story. Good science fiction points out where human problems are and this shows exactly how quick a misunderstanding creates war that cannot be stopped. To make it all the more wrenching, each time it looks like peace might be achieved, it’s shattered again. Andy Serkis as Caesar and Jason Clarke are the emotional core of this film and their performances are great. I think this is Serkis’ most emotional motion-capture performance to date.

The movie presents a simple story, but its one you can easily imagine playing out among human around the world (and in some places it already is), which I think is what makes it very difficult and tense to watch at times. The technical aspects of the film are amazing. You truly forget you’re watching a lot of CG because it all comes across as so very real. The filmmakers should be proud of their accomplishments and hopefully they will be honored for their work during awards season at the end of the year.

DawnApes1

This is my second movie of the summer (the first was The Fault in Our Stars). I’m very happy I’m 2 for 2 in excellent movies this summer season. I also hope Fox considers a third in this new set of Apes movies. If they can find a story as compelling as what they’ve done with the first two, I’d go see it for sure.