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Thursday, May 19, 2016

May - Ready For Some Beach Volleyball?

Most writers use all sorts of experiences from their past, inserting details from real life. I certainly could be called a gym rat at one point in time. Both my daughters played club volleyball in high school, and then played in college. I was familiar with the smell, the feel of the gym and the groups of girls who came and went, their entourage in tow. Girls were looking for coaches to scout them to perhaps give a spot to try out for a team, perhaps defraying part of college costs. Indeed, for my girls, playing volleyball did help out with college expenses.

My new Band of Bachelors, Book 2: Alex, releases next month. The heroine of this story, Sydney Robinson, is a beach volleyball player, seeking a new partner after her old one is injured. Of course she will meet Navy SEAL Alex Kowicki on a blind date, one of many he's allowed his bachelor buddies to arrange for him. Their first encounter is as an explosive and unusual affair involving zombies, popcorn with Junior Mints and soda. Not fair for me to give you all the deets.

It's the first time I've written a six foot four inch lady, and one who is taller than the leading man. She has an Amazon body, and isn't afraid to use it. And she's a complicated mess at first when the reader gets first introduced to her. She has her strong side, and her soft little girl side she doesn't let people see very often.

     He watched her sleep, as she hugged his upper arm, burying it into her chest, looking like little girl lost, like she’d never let go. Her face with a soft crease between her brows indicated perhaps she’d had a sudden bad dream. Maybe that’s what wakened him.  Carefully he used his other hand, drawing the strands of brown hair from her forehead to watch her more closely. She clutched his upper arm tighter, rolling her hips against his thigh in her sleep.

I wrote about soccer players in SEAL's Goal in the Kindle World Game For Love. I spent hours and hours on the sidelines at soccer matches, even getting tossed for making a comment about a reffing call. For the most part, I behaved.

Bringing sports into my SEAL stories has been a fun adventure for me. There are so many similar things an elite athlete does, just like a Navy SEAL. The focus, the training, the working with teammates--all these things are similar and make for good content. How they get expressed, or not expressed, adds some tension to the romance. Competition can be a good thing. In a romance it can also be a bad thing.

I wrote this scene describing the fictitious gym called The Beach in my town of Santa Rosa. It's a gym, if I could have about $10M and some change to build, that would be a huge youth center and a boon to the community. It also will figure heavily in the later part of the book in a surprise twist. Here's the scene, as I saw it:

    She arrived at the Beach Inc. complex twenty minutes early. Already the parking lot was filling with Suburbans as scores of high school girls teams poured into the main gym, knee pads floating above their socks at their ankles.
            Sydney walked through the heavy glass doors and heard the roar of voices, whistles and team shouts. The air was cool, electric with excitement, purpose. She could smell the competitiveness hitting her flush in the face and she loved it. Drank from it. Inhaling, she discovered she’d been holding up the entrance, so stepped aside to let several young players and their chapperones enter.
            Carly had reserved a sand court, she’d told her. Sydney began to walk further into the space. The two-story structure had perhaps a dozen traditional indoor courts, on both floors. Large expanses of glass divided the playing areas, with skylights bathing the whole interior in natural light. The state-of-the-art facility was impressive.
            Several games were in progress. Sounds of whistles, the never-ending “sideout” and team cheers echoed throughout the huge structure. Parents and other team players sat on padded seats on risers instead of the standard metal or wooden benches Sydney was used to.
            A Hawaiian-themed snack bar was down at one end of the building, near the four sand courts. Beach Boy and Margaritaville music boomed while two attendants in flowered Aloha shirts helped the customers. A short line of thin giraffe-like girls waited for smoothies and bagels for breakfast. Sydney had been one of them not too long ago. The squeal of an espresso machine pierced the air and surprised her.
            Sydney smiled and shook her head. This was not what her growing up had been like. She’d played in hot smelly gyms all over California, from brand new courts in the Central Valley to dingy inner city courts lined with graffiti and exploded toilets in the Bay Area and L.A. She’d attended summer camps at colleges that didn’t have gyms as nice as this one was.
            “Hey, bitch!” Carly’s voice streamed across the room. “You ready to play, or are you going to go have a smoothie?”

How about you? Do you enjoy reading about sports in romance novels, and if so, which sports? Do you like reading about men or women's sports, or both?

Sharon Hamilton
Life is one fool thing after another.
Love is two fool things after each other.


Cara Marsi said...

I really enjoyed your post, Sharon. I like the idea of an athletic heroine. The the book sounds great, and I loved the excerpts. I'm not the least bit athletic myself. Never played sports, don't watch sports, so I'm not one to read sports stories. I'm probably in the minority here. I think most people, men and women, enjoy sports. I wish you luck with your new series. Knowing how good your books are, I'm sure you have another success on your hands.

Sharon Hamilton said...

Thanks, Cara! I was late to the party in sports, but made sure my kids got exposed to it early, and as often as they wanted. Required a lot on my part, but was worth it. I guess the part I love about sports is the competition to do the very best. And that's sort of in line with the SEAL training.

But this book is my Bachelor #2. I think it's a great idea to weave into it lots of other details. We also have a winery developing and other things I can use in future series.

And of course, I'm blushing at your kind words. Thanks so much for those..

jean hart stewart said...

I never played many sports, just tennis which is mostly a solo effort. So I enjoy reading about team life, as I never knew that. Lots of success with this. I like the idea of the heroine taller than the hero..... many I know are....

Sharon Hamilton said...

Thanks, Jean!

Karen Henderson said...

I played basketball in school but I love any to read about any kind of sports in books for some reason. I never thought I would enjoy sports in my romance books but I really do.
Loved this post and the teaser was awesome. Can't wait to read this book although if I had a guy shorter than me he would be a midget lol
See you soon.

Melissa Keir said...

I don't do sports per se... I wasn't a player but my sister was. I do love some college football and have been known to watch professional basketball to keep awake enough to feed the baby...

Sounds like a wonderful book. I do love the cover!

Sharon Hamilton said...

LOL Karen!! Well, with Sydney at 6'4", she's used to shorter guys. The adjustment will be for Alex. LOL. Yes, see you soon!

Sharon Hamilton said...

Thanks, Melissa. I love that blue cover too. He has that wascally look to him, doesn't he?

If I had it to do over, I'd have been an athlete. Used to ride 40 miles a day on my bike and could keep up with a lot of guys. But that changed as bike riding became more and more competitive, and the workouts intensified. But I got a taste of what my kids would experience later on. That perhaps helped me counsel them. Just a little. Only a little...

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