Blog Archives

The Golden Gladiator – Book Trailer

The Golden Gladiator. . . .

Myth? Urban legend? Hero? Antihero?

Myth or urban legend? Not at all. This is the true story of senior citizen Michael Lynch and his inspirational journey back to the gridiron and glory. In his mid-sixties, he played on one of the best semi-pro football teams in America, and was coached by a former NFL veteran.

After seeing his nephew play in a high school All-Star game on Long Island during the summer of 2012, Michael Lynch had an epiphany. He wanted to play football again. In the late 60s and early 70s, he had been a football star in high school, college, and in the semi-pro leagues on Long Island. Forty years later, he decided to turn back the clock and risk life and limb to play football again in one of the toughest semi-pro leagues in America: the Florida Football Alliance.

This is a story of courage, redemption, tragedy, and love as Lynch played for four years in over fifty football games. He was a game captain, an Honorable Mention on the 2014 Florida Football Alliances All-Star team, and was honored at the leagues’ banquet in his final year in 2018 for his inspiration and dedication to the game he loves. He played on two championship teams, in 2015 and 2018.

Michael Lynch was inducted into the Guinness World Records in 2019 as the oldest American football player ever, and the oldest American football player to catch a touchdown pass—which he did at the age of sixty-eight.

Hero or antihero? You decide, but first read Michael Lynch’s epic tale, his Iliad and Odyssey of football journeys—the true story of . . . the Golden Gladiator.

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It’s Always Been A Dream Of Mine

M. K. Lever Author Interview

Surviving the Second Tier follows a female college athlete and her team who rebel against a greedy coach and a system that cares more about money than the players. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I had a couple sources of inspiration for my story. My first is personal experience as a former Division 1 athlete who navigated the college sports system myself and had some of the best and worst times of my life during my athletic career. College athletes are under so much social, personal, and external pressure and that’s really hard to understand unless you’ve been there yourself. Although I was a successful runner who loved my sport (until injuries derailed me) I struggled immensely with feelings of worthlessness, self-doubt, and anxiety. I was also in an emotionally abusive relationship with one of my coaches and I needed a way to make meaning of that. Surviving the Second Tier was an outlet for that experience as well as a way to educate readers about these dynamics and the problems that college athletes face in the real world.

The second source of motivation is my research. I’m a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas where sports policy is a huge part of what I study. The policy issues I research are important but frankly, policy can be boring to talk about even if it’s fascinating to me. Academic research is also very inaccessible because of paywalls and jargon so I needed an interesting and accessible way to discuss my research because, given the current climate, I believe the stakes of it are high. I started telling people “the NCAA is a dystopia” whenever they asked about my research as a way to create conversation. The metaphor really stuck with people and became a great gateway for discussing the ways bad policy negatively impacts college athletes. I wanted to give the college sports industry the 1984 treatment and give people a thought-provoking book that hit close to home and fiction turned out to be an effective vehicle for my academic work. Plus, it’s always been a dream of mine to write a book!

Did you create an outline for the characters in the story before you started writing or did the character’s personalities grow organically as you were writing?

I’m a terribly disorganized writer so I didn’t outline my characters so much as I outlined the issues I wanted to cover. They’re all stuck in a system that was never designed to benefit them but they’re also dealing with personal struggles like anxiety, injuries, burnout, identity crises, discrimination, poverty, abuse, and masculinity. Once I had a concept of the issues that I wanted to address within the real-world college sports industry, I had a good idea of how I wanted my characters to develop and they sort of had minds of their own once I started the writing process (which I loved!).

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Identity was a huge one for me. College athletes tend to get really wrapped up in who they are as athletes and fixate on their performances, statistics, rankings, and so on as measures of self-worth. It’s a form of self-objectification that is hard to stop, and fans and coaches also dehumanize college athletes by viewing them solely in terms of their productivity. A big goal of Surviving the Second Tier was to humanize college athletes because they’re so often viewed in terms of production instead of personhood.

As the title implies, I also wanted to focus on themes of surviving a corrupt system. When we think “survival,” we tend to think of things like food, clothing, shelter, and basic necessities. For some athletes (like Sis and Striker), their sport is a ticket out of poverty so it truly is life or death, but sometimes athletes are surviving other things like abusive coaching relationships, mental health issues, crippling media pressure, and life-altering injuries. There’s a lot of pressure on athletes to be tough and gut through these things without showing weakness so I wanted to explore all of that through my characters, their work, and their relationships with each other.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’ve very tentatively started my sequel but I’m also finishing up my Ph. D so it’s hard to juggle creative writing with my academic obligations. If I had to guess, I’d say I could be done with that in a few years (fingers crossed!). I’m also currently working on my dissertation which addresses many themes from my book so I’d love to publish a non-fiction book about college sports as well. The problems college athletes face are a great civil rights issue and writing about them matters a great deal to me.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Website

“Sicily “Sis” Jones is the only undefeated college athlete in the Amateur Fighting Association (AFA), but her spotless record is running her life. She’s living on pennies and nursing a debilitating injury. Her teammates have their share of struggles, too. Striker fights to support his struggling family. Rip has a secret. Cal harbors a grudge.

Topping it off is their cut-throat coach who pushes them beyond their limits for the sake of his own career.

It’s a new order in the world of college athletics. After a financial crisis, the AFA had to salvage its profits. Fighting became the only sport, a brilliant and violent solution to the economic collapse. But at what cost to the athletes?

Sis and her teammates have made it through nearly four years together at their little second-tier university. But all bets are off when the AFA puts Sis against one of her own. Will the Association survive the aftermath?”

Marco Pablo & Olivia Story One Fútbol Tryouts

It’s not easy moving to a new neighborhood, especially at a young age. It can cause a lot of stress and worry. Although, it’s a lot easier when you have your siblings by your side. Marco Pablo & Olivia Fútbol Tryouts, by Ana Cortes follows an Ecuadorian family, moving into a new city. When the three siblings, Marco Olivia and Pablo, see the inside of their new house, they begin to grow excited at the idea of decorating their own rooms. As they look around, their mom brings them the news that there is a fútbol field nearby! Marco immediately wants to take his siblings to go see it, and when they go they discover that there are soccer tryouts coming up. But, when they talk to the team, they find that one member doesn’t want Marco on the team. He insults him and tries to convince him not to come to tryouts, but Marco is determined. Now, the siblings are left with the task of helping Marco complete the tryouts and making it onto the team!

Not only does this story show readers Ecuadorian culture, but it also covers multiple other important lessons for children to learn. The author writes about moving into a new city, which everyone knows can be difficult and worrying. The author brings to light that moving can also bring positivity and new opportunities.

The story also covers the topic of bullying very well as it shows how to stop a bully, and how to continue to follow your dreams, despite what they may say. It’s important to stay true to yourself and continue to do what makes you happy.

The comic book style of this story really brings it to life as it is full of color and all the characters are emotive. The scenery is drawn with a lot of detail, helping the reader to immerse themselves in the scenes. Overall, the story delivers an incredible message while still entertaining the audience with wonderful writing and drawings.

Marco Pablo & Olivia Fútbol Tryouts, by Ana Cortes is entertaining while also being educational. It teaches children how to balance a new life, and get through any barriers they may run into. The illustrations are drawn with an amazing amount of skill and detail, making the book captivating. This charming children’s book is useful for any child to have, so they can understand that these challenges are only temporary, and there’s always a way to get through.

ASIN: B09QQ2QC9M

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A Topic I Know Well; Swimming

Carla Albano Author Interview

Soul of a Swimmer is the true story about a high school athlete that dies in a school shooting and the legacy he left behind. Why was this an important book for you to write?

Many believe that America has come to normalize mass shootings; often the seriousness of the crime is measured by a body count, and that’s it. No matter the breadth or depth of one’s life, every person who passes on in a mass shooting is worthy of their story being told- they were in the process of dreaming, and living for the future when they died. Few stop and ponder “Who were these people who died? What talent is our society never going to realize?”

This was my first book, and I chose to write about a topic I know well; swimming.

I am a lifelong competitive swimmer, and I implicitly understand Nick. We are of the same breed (so to speak), his passing deeply affected me and indelibly rocked swimmers worldwide. Even though swimming is an individual sport, swimmers share a kinship like no other, and myself and countless other swimmers deeply mourn Nick; a lost member of our school of fish.

Shortly after the tragedy I became acquainted with Nick’s story through several memorials and fundraisers for his charity http://www.swim4nick.com. Nick was and still is a phenomenon. I hadn’t planned on writing a book, but Nick found me and I had to tell his story. It was a pleasure and honor to forever memorialize Nick in this way.

Lastly, I came to learn about the other 16 souls we lost in Parkland. They each were remarkable people; I wish I had the bandwidth to write their stories too.

I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

By far the prologue was the hardest 2 pages I’ve ever written and probably ever will write. I’m still emotional and often choke up when I think about the interview with Annika, Nick’s mom, which led to the finalization of this passage.

Each interview as hard in its own way. There was always a balance of grief and joy during the interviews. There were lots of tears; yet openness among all of the interviewees. Resounding respect for Nick resonated throughout the interview process.

What is your favorite memory of Nicholas?

During the writing process, every way I turned, there was a remarkable new” favorite” memory. My favorite is when Mitch, Nick’s dad, described Nick secretly teaching his younger brother to drive. Mitch’s facial expressions during this conversation were priceless. The story of Nick comforting his friend Carlos through a family tragedy was profound and unexpected. This is a story which Nick’s parents never knew before I wrote the book.

I love the memory of Nick visiting Daria’s mom, unannounced. I also love the memory of Nicholas consuming most if not all of the “Fika” snacks.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from Nicholas’s story?

Nicholas Dworet was a remarkable human being. His was a “Life Well Lived.”

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

Soul of a Swimmer is the true story of Nicholas Dworet, a champion swimmer from Florida. Through interviews with his family, friends, coaches, and teammates, the book fondly describes the lifelong process of nurturing a child who has extraordinary talent and ebullient dreams as he develops into an elite athlete. As Nick matures, a young man with a remarkably humble and genuine character emerges amid his athletic successes. When he was a senior in high school, Nick found his Olympic dreams within reach. But tragically, his life was cut short in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting. Nick’s story will resonate with the reader forever.

We Lived Every Kid’s Dream

Mr. Stephen D Reddy Author Interview

A ball with no points tells the true story of your high school basketball team and the remarkable victory they achieved. Why was this an important book for you to write?

As I explained in book’s Prologue, this story was too special to let it just fade away and be forgotten forever. Our recent team reunion after 46 years made it clear how special those memories still were amongst all of us who made it happen. We lived every kid’s dream…and it was time to share the dream with everyone else.

I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

It was describing some of the hardships that many of my teammates endured later in life, and that needed to part of the story. Life is hard, but despite those hardships, our friendships and bonds have remained stronger than ever.

What is one piece of advice someone gave you that changed your life?

“You can’t be afraid of what other people might think of you.” – Jim Valvano

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your story?

Believe in yourself, and then go chase your dreams.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

When a group of unheralded boys came together in 1971, not much was expected. Over the next four months they produced “one of the most remarkable Cinderella Stories ever written,” according to one local paper.

For decades Westfield, NJ has been the idyllic suburban town known for its distinctive homes along tree-lined streets, its classic downtown area, and for having a school system that was the envy of many neighboring towns. During the ’60s and ’70s, the town proudly witnessed the most dominant high school football program in the state under the leadership of head coach Gary Kehler, highlighted by a state record 48 straight games without a loss. Yet in the midst of that streak, the 1971-72 varsity boys basketball team briefly stole the spotlight from their football classmates while accomplishing something that no other WHS hoops team has ever done, either before or since. In a ball with no points, a member of that team recalls a basketball journey, life lessons learned along the way, and one very special season a half century ago.

For anyone who has ever stepped onto a basketball court, played high school sports, or dreamed of being a champion, there is something in this book for you. A ball with no points examines the many facets of basketball familiar to many, as well as a fairy tale season enjoyed by precious few.

Surviving the Second Tier

Surviving the Second Tier by author M.K Lever is a sci-fi novel that is different from anything else out there. It is a combination of dystopian sci-fi, college drama, and an underdog sports story. The setting is nebulous. We know the novel is set in the future, but Lever leaves it up to the reader to decide how distant. Technology has advanced but is not far-fetched. We know that there are drones, automated exercise equipment, and self-driving cars.  The setting is what I would call grounded dystopian. There has been yet another economic crash, and once again, it is the younger generation who are paying the price.

This captivating novel takes a close look at the world of college sport but through the lens of a dystopian future. In this world, college sports as we know it has been replaced with the AFA (American Fighting Association). Male and female athletes now fight in an MMA-style fighting league where only the toughest and best-funded succeed. Like most extraordinary sports stories, we follow Sis Jones, a second-tier fighter who is undefeated and coming towards the end of her college career.  Sis might be successful in the ring, but it isn’t doing her much good. As a poorly-paid second-tier fighter, the fighting takes its toll on her health and grades. We follow Sis and her teammates as they are pushed and manipulated further and further by their greedy coach and college higher-ups. In the end, enough is enough, and the athletes rebel and take on the corruption directly.

Surviving the second tier feels almost like a more grounded Hunger Games. The setting may not be quite as dramatic and the stakes not quite as high, but Sis is still fighting for survival in many ways. Most of us have never had to fight to the death, but struggling to make ends meet will be painfully familiar to most of us.

Lever is a former college athlete herself, and this shows. She has extensive knowledge of the subject and has gone to great pains to highlight the abuse and corruption that goes widely unreported in college sports today. As well as shining a light on the discrepancies between first-tier and second-tier college teams. For every first-tier college athlete that goes on to great success, many are left behind.

Surviving the Second tier is a gripping dystopian novel with a great underdog story full of easy to root for heroes with an important message. This unconventional combination of genres will give readers a unique look into college sports and much to think about.

Pages: 429 | ASIN : B09MDR6FYH

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a ball with no points

Join Stephen D. Reddy on an underdog’s journey in a ball with no points. In the football town of Westfield, NJ, no one thought that the Westfield High School boys basketball team would conquer a state championship between 1971-1972. But they did, unknowingly becoming inspirations to the people of Westfield. Now, 50 years after that magical season, Stephen D. Reddy, the starting guard of the “Westfield High’s Faceless Five,” recounts the story of what has been heralded as “one of the most remarkable Cinderella Stories ever written,” and in so doing, makes their inspirational story available to the whole world.

In line with his underdog roots, Reddy chose to tell this uplifting story in a conversational tone. There are some passages that feel as though you’re in a bar sharing a beer with Reddy as he recounts what happened. As you follow the long winding narrative to its climax, it even feels like you were there as it happened. This gives the book an intimacy that makes you want to stay and hear the whole story.

This inspiring book is centered around basketball, but at the core, it is a story about underdogs. Anyone who has ever needed to rise up to an occasion despite difficult circumstances will know the feeling that Reddy and his team went through, whether or not you have ever stepped foot on a basketball court.

There are passages where Reddy dives deep into the sport, explaining the game to those that may not know the ins and outs of basketball. There are even a couple of paragraphs where he describes, in detail, an exercise or drill that helps him master his dribbling. Die-hard basketball fans will enjoy reading this, and those new to the sport will find it educational.

A ball with no points is a well written sport-themed memoir. Readers who are deep within its world, especially those who witnessed the season, will find great nostalgia in reading this book. Those that enjoy reading about the history of sports and basketball will find this to be an engaging story.

Pages: 388 | ASIN : B09QD5G7CS

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Soul of a Swimmer

Soul of a Swimmer is an incredibly touching and beautiful story written by Carla Albano. The narrative tells the true story of Nicholas Dworet, a promising champion swimmer from Florida who was tragically killed in a school shooting at the age of 17. The author compiled the story following a series of interviews with Nicholas’s friends and family members, and within the book, she explores all aspects of Nicholas’s life. She looks at events ranging from the origins of how his parents met to his conquests as a young athlete with aspirations of competing in the Olympics.

Due to the subject matter, and the obvious conclusion of the story, it was devastating to read about this amazing young man’s life. Reading about how adored he was by his family and countless others, and seeing him develop and grow his skill and strength throughout the novel, was gripping and interesting, yet bittersweet, tinged with tragedy. Considering this, it’s clear that the author took great care to paint Nicholas and his family in the most respective and loving light. The story was written with careful awareness of the tragic nature of the situation and hopeful optimism that makes the narrative incredibly charming and easygoing.

Regarding Albano’s writing style, I found her prose to be fantastically detailed, with great attention to developing both the setting and the characters. She presents everything in such a great way that the story feels more vibrant and dynamic. Overall this story was enjoyable to read, filled with interesting details about Nicholas’s passion for swimming and his life in general.

Soul of a Swimmer is a fascinating book that pays great respect to Nicholas’s memory as an extraordinarily talented athlete, a kind and loving gentleman, and an exceptionally adored son. It was a charming story and a pleasure to read and learn about the life of a young man brimming with potential, so sadly taken from this Earth long before his time.

Pages: 170 | ASIN : B09NCDTFYL

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