Today I’m doing a little something different on the blog…I have a guest. Please welcome Liz Crowe, best selling author, soccer fan and beer expert. She’s got some words of wisdom about brews, and writing. She’s brought a few excerpts to entertain you and is having a SALE on her books! Meanwhile, for today you can find me over at her place. Check out my post out at Liz’s blog HERE.
BOOK BREWING 101 by Liz Crowe
There is a “regulation” in Germany—the Reinheitsgebot—that states:
“Beer is made up 4 ingredients, and 4 ingredients ONLY:
The Germans invented the lager style of beer, using yeasts they discovered, the create a different sort of beer than had been brewed before. Ale beer was truly an ancient form of sustenance, had been around since Egyptian times and was consumed in leiu of water on many continents.
Since the advent of the “American craft beer movement” in the late ‘90s, that regulation has been tossed right out the window in the quest for unique flavors and a sort of one-up-manship among the (now) thousands of brewers seeking an audience of drinkers. Everything from corriandor and orange peel, hot peppers, coffee, and chocolate to cherries, grapes, pumpkin and ginger are now added to a host of “regulation beers” (water/malt/hops/yeast) by breweries large and small. My favorite example of going off the rez with this is the Peanut Butter and Jelly Beer brewed right here in Michigan at Short’s Brewing near Traverse City.
It’s not a bad thing to add these “adjuncts” (beer jargon for “anything not water/barley/hops/yeast). Some of them create unique, well-rounded and interesting beer drinking experiences. Others are, well, just gross but fun to contemplate.
As part owner of a craft brewery, I interact with other owners and beer drinkers every day. I’ve come to value the process of taking “pure beer” and rounding it out in a cool way with well-balanced and considered ingredients seeking alternatives for the many folks who are learning that “beer” has actual “flavor.”
I’ve also written a few books (24 at last count). And, since I have a degree in English Lit, I’ve read a fair few as well. There is a school of thought in this business that there are only seven or so basic plots: overcoming the monster; rags to riches; the quest; voyage and return; comedy; tragedy; rebirth. If you have some time to ponder such things, you will realize that from the Bible, through Greek plays, Shakespeare and today you can apply one or more of these to most works of literature, including popular fiction.
The fact that there are so many great books to choose from is a testament to the fact that authors take these “basic ingredients” and add their own spices, pumpkins, grapes and hot peppers to them to create a huge range of options for readers to consider.
One of the Black Jack Gentlemen novels, now on sale in honor of the soccer World Cup, MAN ON, is set in the world of professional soccer (my first “adjunct” and a unique one as there are not a ton of these around). In it, you meet two of the players for the original Black Jack Gentlemen fictional Detroit-based expansion soccer team. The Black Jacks are not part of a league of “starter-outers.” It’s not a farm team for the more established Major League Soccer teams. It’s part of a “fictionalized Major League Soccer (MLS)” that was awarded to Detroit once it was determined that Las Vegas had bribed officials to get the team. Hence, the “left over” name that Detroit decides to keep.
These are men of all ranges of experience from all over the world who’ve been convinced, cajoled and paid well (i.e. more or less bribed) to come and form a legit new team that can take on teams of equal or better caliber.
My second “adjunct” to this story: these men are bi-sexual. One of them, Parker Rollings, is a young man just out of college who is struggling with his sexual identity. The other, Nicco Garza is an older player from Spain who lost his super-star status when his ex-wife “outed” him.
So you have the set up for “overcoming the monster” (acceptance of yourself as a homosexual and a pro athlete—not an easy task), “the quest” (trying to create a viable new soccer team, getting a bunch of men who’ve never played together and who in many cases despise each other, to form a cohesive group) and even “rebirth” (when Parker accepts himself as a bi-sexual man in love with another man who happens to be a teammate).
There could be tragedy of course. These men have both worked so very hard to achieve success as athletes. It is well known that the general public does not accept homosexual men on their “favorite teams” easily. So it could be that they find each other, then make a decision to reject their potential private happiness in order to further the public success of their team.
Taking basic plots and adding the adjuncts of setting, characters, conflicts and resolution truly does resemble the crafting of a great beer. We all hope for more drinkers and readers thanks to our efforts. And, as with craft beer, there is nothing wrong with taking the basics of a plot and adding as many unique additions as possible to craft something interesting—or something fun (or even gross). Just remember, get it edited! The best breweries never serve a beer without a lot of sampling and tasting through the process. Yeah, that’s the fun bit.
WORLD CUP 2014 SALE
The Black Jack Gentlemen
A city and a sport with something to prove—Meet the men who take that challenge… The Black Jack Gentlemen—Detroit’s expansion soccer team. They play hard. And live harder.
Book 1: Man On
Book 2: Red Card
Book 3: Shut Out
And coming soon…
Book 4: Set Piece
Book 5: Hat Trick
MAN ON by Liz Crowe
99 cents during the 2014 World Cup!
Bad boy of European football, Nicolas Garza is about to hit American shores with a vengeance. Signed by the Detroit Black Jack Gentlemen as lynch pin for their expansion club, Nicco only half believes he’s making the right move. But with a past full of ghosts and rotten behavior chasing him from his homeland, he has no real choice.
Parker Rollings is a college soccer superstar, but his parents’ plans for their only son do not include professional athletics. When the Black Jacks approach him to finalize their roster, Parker leaps at the chance to keep playing, leaving behind medical school, stability and his first and only college sweetheart.
Nicco and Parker face off as bitter rivals for a coveted starting spot at midfield and are forced to channel their negative energy into something positive for the sake of the group—and themselves.
All eyes are on the fledgling team in its debut season. It’s crucial that the Black Jacks prove all the doubters wrong. They must make a good showing in the league and with new fans. But player drama, club dynamics, and misplaced priorities may tear it apart before it even begins.
EXCERPT FROM MAN ON
A handful of fresh-faced young Americans interspersed in the group, which made Nicco feel old. Which totally pissed him off. What was Inez thinking anyway? There were two players per position in the room, two strong contenders for each spot—except his. He sipped his water bottle and glared at the Germans. Nervous tension gnawed at his gut but he kept his face calm. Finally when their temporary coach showed up and flipped the blinds closed, he relaxed.
So everyone in the room has to fight for their spot except me? That works.
He dropped his feet to the floor at Rafe’s pointed glance and propped his elbows on the table prepared to ignore the forthcoming pep talk.
He’d already made plans for the night and wanted to rest up beforehand. This
goofy welcome pep talk would be as good a time as any. Letting his thoughts wander to
the nightclub promising full discretion, he made himself stop obsessing over the recent failed therapy session.
The door clicked open and all eyes landed on the tall, blond man who walked in,
backpack on his shoulder, dressed to play. Nicco’s scalp tingled at the sight of him—
strong torso, long legs, firm jaw covered with several days’ worth of fuzz.
Good Christ but he was a perfect specimen.
Nicco kept his casual stance but startled when the guy’s bright blue eyes and huge white smile landed on him. He resisted the urge to smile back. Something about the man made Nicco distinctly uncomfortable but horny at the same time. He suddenly wished he’d held onto the shrink’s business card.
“And Parker will be working with you, Nicco.”
He sat up, knocking his water to the floor as Rafe’s words got his immediate attention. He stared at the polite hand the kid stuck in his face then over at Rafe. His throat closed up between the proximity of the impossibly handsome man and realization of the fact that the vision of masculine perfection he’d lusted after for the last few seconds wanted to take his spot on the field.
Oh hell no.
He leaned back again and ignored his inner polite self. Instead, he smirked, ignored the punk, and turned to face their coach as if suddenly fascinated by what the guy had to say. Parker stood a minute, and Nicco watched his face turn red before he sat in the one empty chair nearest the door.
Rafe passed out new phones, reminded them of their obligation to “tweet” and “post profile updates” on Facebook at least three times a day. All shit Nicco already knew. Rafe’s hot young lady assistant issued key cards to the ones who’d just arrived,
including the kid Nicco studiously ignored but whose very presence was making the front
of his jeans uncomfortable.
RED CARD by Liz Crowe
FREE during the 2014 World Cup!
Free will makes us human.
Choice makes us individuals.
Love makes us unique.
Metin Sevim has it all. At the pinnacle of international soccer playing success, he has managed to craft a perfect world for himself along the way.
When fate strips him of free will and the ability to choose his own path, he retreats from everyone and everything, destroying his hard-won career in the process.
Dragged back from the brink by his desperate family, Metin reluctantly agrees to coach the Black Jack Gentlemen Detroit soccer team but remains debilitated by memories and loss. When a surprising friendship emerges, it renews his passion for life, providing much needed solace… and extreme complications.
A saga of family dynamics and gender politics that cuts across cultures and circumstance, Red Card illustrates the human capacity for forgiveness through the life of one man as he attempts to rebuild his shattered existence.
EXCERPT FROM RED CARD
“It’s your hips that are the problem.”
Alicia started at the sound of his now-familiar, sing-song accent. She’d been kicking a line of balls into the net, one after the other for about fifteen minutes since she’d been early in her haste to get the hell out of her house and away from her sister’s violent disapproval.
Taking a breath, she crossed her arms and studied him. Metin wore a pair of dark blue soccer shorts, plain heather-gray shirt, and cleats as easily as he’d worn the dress pants and crisp cotton shirt the night she’d met him—the night you fucked him, you mean.
He stood, loose-limbed, at ease in his element. His teeth glowed against his dark skin. The eyes she had melted into not forty-eight hours ago shone with something she couldn’t identify—happiness? Sarcasm? Lust? Who knew? Hoping to hide her frustration, she bent down to tie her laces tighter so he couldn’t see her face flush when her gaze hit the front of his shorts.
She rose, determined to resist the take-me-now aura the guy threw her way. He probably didn’t even realize he did it. Not anymore. “Okay, I’ll bite. What’s wrong with my hips?”
“Come at me.”
She blinked, confused. “Um, huh?”
“Attack, make like you want to score. You know? Like you do in games?”
“Oh, right.” Dropping the ball tucked under her arm, she glanced over his shoulder at her target. He let her, trotting backward a few steps, then made for the ball. She feinted, maintaining possession before dribbling a few more feet.
He came out of nowhere as she was about to make her final scoring charge, stripping her of the ball and sending her crashing to the turf.
“Ow. Shit,” she muttered, getting to her feet, a familiar, angry competitiveness stripping all the horniness right out of her head. “I still don’t get what….”
“Do it again.” He kicked the ball toward her, harder than necessary, but she stopped it and placed her cleat on top contemplating a different strategy.
Shifting to the side, she danced past him, using all the speed she could muster, and made straight for the goal. And there he was again, taking the damn ball away from her as if she were a rookie.
She tried to shield it, putting her back to him and sensing every inch of his warm, perfect physique against her skin. Forcing herself to focus, she landed a hard elbow to his midsection and escaped his trap then traveled down the field alone, turning on all her motors, no longer hearing anything, way into her zone.
And then, the damn man appeared in front of her again, batting the ball between her legs and taking off in the other direction, hand to his side where she’d nailed him.
“God damn it, Metin. What is your point? You’re a pro. I’m an unemployed college graduate. You’re a man. I’m not. You make money at this, and I never will. What the hell are you trying to prove?” Her legs hurt from her workout the day before and she could barely catch her breath. She was, in a word, miserable. But the sight of him a few yards away, messing with the soccer ball while he stared at her, brought visions of tackling him, holding him down, and kissing him right to the front of her overheated brain.
“Once more.” The soccer ball smacked the back of her legs so hard she yelped. “That’s your fucking yellow card for the elbow. One more and you’ll sit.”
SHUT OUT by Liz Crowe
Only 99 during the 2014 World Cup!
A submissive once, a submissive forever?
A man on the run from the only life he’s ever known, Brody Vaughn is poised to accept the Black Jack Gentleman’s newly vacant goalkeeper’s position. It’s a desperate move, but one he must take to regain his emotional equilibrium. Reeling from his Mistress’s rejection and on the ragged edge of a total breakdown, he arrives in Detroit. Numb with thinly veiled grief, he walks into the club’s front office completely unaware that an encounter with true destiny awaits him.
Sophie Harrison has seen it all–as Domme, sub, and victim. Now that her complicated circumstances have landed her as legal counsel for the expansion Black Jacks team, she holds herself aloof in body and spirit. Nothing and no one gets past her fiercely guarded walls. Until the day she looks up to greet the new goalie standing in her doorway, his raw combination of vulnerability and strength making her breathless.
Two people, horribly scarred by the excesses of the BDSM lifestyle and hiding from their true selves, meet across a desk over a simple contract. All bets are off.
EXCERPT FROM SHUT OUT
“Vaughn! Goddamn it.”
Brody sat, staring at his feet, ignoring the usual post-match noise and bustle around him. Most especially he hoped to hide from the voice of Rafael Inez, the club’s manager. Reminders of how poorly he’d performed today were not going to help him. He’d been playing soccer in some capacity since he walked, since he had memories of anything. And today had been among his worst, ever.
Since his days on the streets of Nashville and the hills of East Tennessee, he’d been on teams, in clubs, trained by himself, trained by pros, you name it. He’d seen every sort of match condition, coaching, officiating misstep, and parental overreaction. He realized what it meant to suck serious ass—he’d done today. And he understood why, too—hence the dark clouds draping his consciousness
“Fucking… shit.” The team manager drew closer, his deep voice joined by another, as a sort of bonus, really. He leaned against the dark wood lining the walls in the over-the-top, fancy locker room.
Metin Sevim, their Turkish coach, once a Spanish league phenom, had had the world at his feet until a horrific tragedy struck, leaving him drunk and useless for years. He was now recovered. And he had a look on his face Brody Vaughn read loud and clear—the we lost and it is pretty much your fucking fault glare that coaches the world over affected while trying to remain “supportive” of a new player.
Exhausted in mind and spirit, sick of the chewing out before it even started, Brody gazed at both men. Rafe’s snapping eyes reflected the same expression as Metin’s. He opened his mouth first, but the Turk put a hand on his arm. The men regarded each other as the swirl of post-match activity came to a loud peak.
Players in various stages of undress wandered in and out of the main locker room, grabbing towels, pulling on the dress pants, shirts, and ties the club required of them when entering and leaving the facility. One thing Brody would say about the former-hot-headed, player-turned-failure-turned-coach, Metin knew when not to talk. He tilted his head, still pinning Brody with something that faded from this is your fault to what the hell is wrong with you because you are too expensive for me to drop from the roster?
Then he sighed and, to Brody’s surprise, sat down in the chair next to him, leaned forward, elbows on knees, and seemed to examine the expensive, rubberized floor. Brody hadn’t even made it to the shower yet. He felt so weighed down and lethargic, just lifting his arms to put his head in his hands took more energy than existed on the planet. He understood why, along with the fact that there wasn’t a thing to be done about it.
How would he even begin to describe his… issue? Heart pounding, legs aching, shoulder screaming where he’d landed on it, hard, then waved away the trainer at the sixty-fifth minute. By that time all of the players were pretty gassed from the late summer heat, but held on, toe-to-toe, with the Canadian national team in a friendly. The sneaky forward had seen him wincing, favoring his left shoulder, and drove the ball right in on his newly-weakened side. It had been a simple fifty-fifty ball; face to face. He had blown it, him and his overpaid, lame ass, wobbly self.
Thanks to his one quick encounter with the front office legal woman, he’d been left in a quivering, useless, uncertain heap of need. Fuck that. He had to get a grip.
ABOUT LIZ CROWE
Amazon best-selling author, beer blogger and beer marketing expert, mom of three, and soccer fan, Liz Crowe lives Ann Arbor. She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse.
Her early forays into the publishing world led to a groundbreaking fiction subgenre, “Romance for Real Life,” which has gained thousands of fans and followers interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”). More recently she is garnering even more fans across genres with her latest novels, which are more character-driven fiction, while remaining very much “real life.”
With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, in successful real estate offices and at times in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are unique and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, frustrate and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.