The guys remind everyone that the Big Gay Fiction Book Club premieres this week. They also note the passing of playwright Terrence McNally.

Jeff reviews Someday, Someday by Emma Scott.

RJ Scott, V.L. Locey, Susan Scott Shelley and Chantal Mer join Jeff for a conversation about the Hockey Allies Bachelor Bid Romances they created. Each author talks about their book in the shared universe as well as the experience of creating the Hockey Allies world, sharing characters between the stories and why they think hockey romances continue to be so popular.

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Show Notes

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Interview Transcript – RJ Scott, V.L. Locey, Susan Scott Shelley and Chantal Mer

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Jeff: I am so excited to welcome the co-authors who worked with me on the “Hockey Allies Bachelor Bid” series. We’ve got RJ, Vicki, Susan, and Chantal here. Hello, everybody.

Together: Hi.

Jeff: So, I want to have everybody introduce themselves. Vicki and RJ are return guests here, but we’re going to have them do that too. But we’re going to start with our newbies, Susan and Chantal. So, Susan, we’ll start with you.

Susan: Okay. Well, hi, everybody. I’m Susan Scott Shelley. I live in Philly. I’m a big hockey fan and I’ve been writing for, I guess, about the past 10 years and I do a lot of sports.

Jeff: Sports are good. So, Philly, are you a Flyers person or a…?

Susan: I definitely grew up as a Flyers fan, but I also followed what eventually ended up being the Colorado Avalanche when a bunch of the flyers left in the Lindros trade. So, I follow mainly the Avalanche and the Flyers right now, although every so often I pick up another team because I have NHL package, so I watch, like, a lot. But yeah, definitely, probably first and foremost Flyers and then everybody else.

Jeff: All right. Good to hear. Chantal.

Chantal: Hi, I’m Chantal Mer and I’m new to…I just released my first book in November, so I’m new to the full writing thing. So, this has been…I’ve had so much fun writing this book and just being involved with you all. It’s been a blast. And I live outside of Philadelphia, so I’m fairly close to Susan.

Susan: We’re critique partners.

Chantal: We are critique partners. Yes.

Jeff: Fantastic. Also, Flyers for you or do you have other allegiances?

Chantal: Well, you know, I really, my allegiance really is with Gritty [the Flyers mascot]. I mean, where he goes, there I shall go also. I mean, really, what else is there?

Jeff: All right. Vicki, who I already know is a Rangers fan.

Vicki: Everybody knows that. Oh, it’s true. People say, “Oh, that broad that likes the Rangers. Yeah, I know her.” I’m Vicki Locey and I write under the super-secret pen name of V.L. Locey. I’ve been writing hockey romances for about eight years now. And then a two or three years ago, I guess RJ and I started writing. Has it been that long?

RJ: I think it’s been about three years, yeah. Three years this summer.

Vicki: Wow, that went fast. So, we co-author…we’re on our third hockey romance series now. And yeah, I’m a Rangers fan. I live in Pennsylvania, but way up at the border where I border along New York. So, that’s why I say I follow the Rangers.

Jeff: Excellent. And RJ.

RJ: Hello, everybody. I’m RJ. I live about 40 miles Northwest of London in England if you can’t tell by the accent. I am a Penguins fan. Even though Chantal and Susan are Flyers fans, they’re okay people. I don’t really have a second team. I follow bits and pieces of the Rangers because with Vicki as a bestie you can’t really not because you get to hear it all. And obviously, I was hugging her very gently when her man left. And obviously, when Fleury went off to Vegas, I was heartbroken. So, yeah, I keep my eye on him as well.

Jeff: I follow the Knights for the same reason because I was devastated when he left.

RJ: Oh, devastated. Yeah. This year, it’s my 10-year anniversary of writing.

Jeff: Congratulations.

RJ: Thank you. Big celebration soon. And I’ve been writing hockey romance for about four years and the last three years with Vicki. The last book we wrote, we wrote in three weeks flat, maybe less. Literally, it just fell out of us and it’s possibly the best thing we’ve written together, I think. As we record this on a Saturday, the release is tomorrow, so it’s quite exciting.

Susan: Oh, wow. Great.

Jeff: What’s the name of it? Tell us the name.

RJ: “Shadow and Light.”

Jeff: Excellent.

Susan: I love that title.

Jeff: That’s a good title, yeah.

RJ: Yeah, “Shadow and Light.” But the best one we’ve got is book four, which is “Sugar and Ice.” How good is that? But this is our third hockey series that we’ve written together, as Vicki said, and it’s been a lot of fun. I mean, I’ve had to put up with Vicki, but other than that, it’s been great.

Jeff: After three years, you probably know how to do that though.

RJ: Yeah.

Vicki: Yeah, yeah, she just tunes me out completely now.

Jeff: So, all projects have their origin story and the origin of “Hockey Allies Bachelor Bid” lies with Susan. Tell us how this came about and how you went about finding everybody to play in this world with you.

Susan: Sure. So, I found an article on Outsports and they were talking about the New York Gay Football League and how they were holding a bachelor auction to raise money for, I guess, something for the league. And I was thinking to myself that right there, like, that’s totally a romance novel, right” Like, I could just see all these like, you know, sports guys coming together for a bachelor auction. And I’m like, well, obviously, hockey’s my first love. Like, I like football too, but like hockey is, like, my thing. And I love RJ and Vicki and I love the “Railer” series and I was like, I have to immediately talk to RJ and Vicki, and that’s how it kind of started.

Jeff: And RJ and Vicki, what did you guys think of the idea of the bachelor auction as the tie-together?

RJ: Oh, I think it’s a brilliant idea. I think it’s so cool.

Vicki: Yeah, we were like totally in. The first time Susan mentioned it, we’re like, “Oh yeah, we’re there.”

Susan: I just thought it could be everyone’s series all coming together because like I’m a fan anyway of theirs, like, I love them, and just like I want, you know, my Buffalo team to have other people to play with.

RJ: I think when I was growing up, I very much loved, you know, that kind of old Mills and Boon type stories where there was some kind of auction and the rich guy got the girl or the girl got the rich guy or whichever way around it is. And I just loved the thought of these…I mean, we have got some really good looking hockey players out there. Yeah, in real life. So, it was very easy to get inspiration.

Vicki: Yeah. And I also liked how like this idea, it grew and it’s encompassing the whole LGBT community and hockey. And I really liked that idea a lot and that, you know, we bring the LGBTQ community together for this bachelor auction and all of our individual players are involved and it was just a really, really good idea.

RJ: Inspirational. Yeah.

Jeff: Because Hockey Allies, in the series, is an organization that we kind of modeled after You Can Play, which of course, is an organization that seeks to fight for equality and respect and good sportsmanship across the board regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. So, it all fit in really well together.

Susan: Yeah, it did.

Vicki: And also because the hockey world itself, if you’re a fan long enough, you come to understand that most of these guys know each other. I mean,they’ve played in college or they’ve been on this team, that team, that team, this team. So, it fits that they would all at least know each other and they’d be like, “Oh yeah, Hey, you know, hi there. You know, I remember you from when we were playing back in junior, you know.” And so, it just, everything just melded really well.

Jeff: Chantal, how did you come to the group? Because as you noted, you’re the newbie here. What was your entry?

Chantal: Well, Susan and I usually meet monthly, have lunch, and we do plotting and, you know, critiquing. And so, she was telling me about this idea and she said, you know, you should write something. And I was a little leery because, again, I’m a newbie, but as usual, Susan was encouraging and so I was like, “Okay.” And my guys just kind of appeared like, you know, and so we have a story. So, it was Susan’s fault. It was all Susan’s fault.

Susan: I take full responsibility. Chantal an amazing writer and I’ve been in love with one of her minor characters from her book that she released in November. And I kept saying, he needs a story, he needs a story. And eventually, I know she’s going to do the story because I will badger her until it happens.

Chantal: I started his story.

Susan: She was planning on doing LGBT stories and I was thinking like, well this is a great way to get in. Like, this is a great group of people and I just really wanted to be in a project with her and it all just came together and her story’s amazing. I got to read it first and I’m very happy, it’s so good.

RJ: That’s really good. I’m really, really impressed. Yeah.

Vicki: Very, very good. Yes.

Chantal: Thank you.

Jeff: Susan mentioned you were going to write an MM story. Your first book was MF. How was it kind of getting into the MM romance as a writer and had you been reading it before that?

Chantal: Oh, yeah. I mean, I read everything. So, yeah, I’ve always read it. I didn’t find it…I guess my prologue, that was my biggest concern because I had to have them…someone says something really mean and I didn’t want to be too mean, but I needed it to be bad. So, that was my big concern. And then the sex scenes, those are always my concerns, whether it’s MF or MM. So, I think the thing with this story is it was the first time I wrote in first-person and I don’t know, I wrote it in first-person, that’s just how it came out. So, that was different for me.

Jeff: Okay. That’s cool. Yeah. For some reason, I started in third and I’m like, this is so wrong. So, by chapter five of his back in first.

Vicki: Yeah, you know, don’t you, like how…well, I always write in first, but like, yeah, you know when it’s not working, quickly.

RJ: I have never written in first until I met Vicki and we decided to start writing Ten and Jared’s story and “Changing Lines” and it was like first-person, nope, I can’t, I’m not sure I could do that. I think it just wasn’t me. And then, literally, the first chapter I wrote, I was hooked, and quite a few of my books now are in first-person because it just feels like I can get inside their head more.

Chantal: I think because I wrote their trauma scenes, which are only for me, I wrote them in first-person. And so I think I guess that’s why then I felt like I had to write them in first-person. I don’t know. But again, they just came out that way.

Vicki: Cool. It worked really well.

Jeff: And I think I got to the project…I tried to go back in chat histories and we’ve been working on this project for, I think it’s almost been a year, and maybe even nine months, but I think it was either Vicki or RJ who brought me in because we’d worked together on “Changing On the Fly” too. And it was one of you guys who said, “Hey there’s this thing,” and I’m like, “Yes, please.” I didn’t really think about it.

RJ: If it’s a good thing then it was me who suggested it.

Jeff: The nice thing is we all worked so well together because I mean, initially, there was only the thread of the idea of there would be this bachelor auction and everything would connect through there and then everything else, you know, we had a couple of big planning sessions of who the characters were and what the auction would be like because, of course, we can’t all have auctions that sound different. What did you all think of how we planned and organized, and especially if you’ve done shared universes before, how did this kind of compare?

Susan: This was my first shared universe. The very first anthology I was in, all of our guys were on the same team and it was a cup-winning team that was kind of put together like Vegas, but that was the only connection and it was basically the summer after the cup. So, we didn’t have to have our teammates involved at all if we didn’t want to. So, this was the first time that I’ve been in something where we actually had to really…we had to know each other’s players’ names and when the auction was going to be and what the hotel looked like and what the auction looked like and who the MC was and all that stuff. But I think we did pretty good with them. Like, I like to see things in front of me. So, having our docs with all of the information, our files, really helped because I need plans, I need it on paper. So, everybody was so good with getting all of that information together and I think it really helped really shape the world well.

RJ: Yeah. Google Docs, Vicki and I use those a lot when we’re planning for our joint books because they’re free, they’re out there, and it’s one place where you can see absolutely everything that forms part of the series. Yeah, I think it worked really well. I think it was really smooth. And I think Chantal mentioned before we came into the recording part that, “Is this not how a project normally works?” We had to say to her, “Not always, no. Sometimes it isn’t as smooth.” So fair play to us for…

Chantal: I’m blaming all of you for ruining me then because it’s been a lovely experience.

RJ: Well, we’re going to have to do it again then, aren’t we?

Chantal: Oh, wow. Oh, I’d love that.

Jeff: Okay. Let’s dig into talking about these books a little bit. Now, we’ve structured them so they can each totally be read standalone if desired. But I think, you know, between the five of us, we’ve always kind of had an order that we envisioned how they would go. So, I’m going to go in that order as we talk about the books. And that means we kick off with RJ’s “Guarding Garrett.”

RJ: Oh, yeah. Well, the reason I thought that mine probably should go first is because my book actually kind of ends around the auction and the action culminates around the auction. So, you’ve got the buildup of Paul Garrett who is this big, strong Tyler Seguin type, Instagram-lovable, gorgeous guy who doesn’t take any shit from anybody. And on the ice, he’s like a God, invincible. But then he gets a stalker and that’s where Jason comes in and their relationship grows against the threats and the danger and the secrets that unfold. And it kind of comes to a head around the auction. So, my book actually ends just with the auction and what happens at the auction. So, it kind of makes sense that mine built up to that. And then you can go onto the next person, but they can all be read as standalones. They all happen at different times around the auction. It’s not like everybody’s chapter one is, “Here’s your auction. This is how our guys met and then the story happens.” So, it fits in in different places.

Jeff: I really like how we did that too. And we didn’t even really talk about that. It just kind of happened that way.

Vicki: Yeah, very organic, wasn’t it?

RJ: It’s just brilliant. I just really enjoyed writing it and I love bodyguard stories anyway because I mean I’ve got…several of my series are based around bodyguards and forced proximity and love and the angry kiss. It’s all my favorite tropes all rolled into one book. So, it’s…

Vicki: She does like her angry kisses. I can tell you that much.

RJ: I do like my angry kisses. And there is one in this book.

Jeff: Yeah. Another thing I like, too, is that we all went in, kind of, different tropes and, you know, sub-genres too.

Vicki: Yeah.

Chantal: And that was organic also.

RJ: Yeah. We had a blank canvas, didn’t we? It was like, great, take two guys and write their story. And it can be any story. It could have been anything at all. If it had been around Christmas, I’m sure we’d have all come up with different stories that, you know, involved Christmas. But it just so happens that we wanted to set this story around the now-not-happening Stanley Cup.

Jeff: That’s the thing, right? We organized our release. So, you know, the books all go on pre-order wide release on March 31st. We do a wide release on April 7th, which should have been the beginning of the Stanley Cup playoffs. And then we go into KU on April 9th. But yeah, now we’re giving everybody hockey when there’s no hockey to watch.

Vicki: Exactly.

RJ: So, really, we’ve been very…it’s a very altruistic project.

Jeff: Vicki, tell us all about “Loving Layne.”

Vicki: “Loving Layne.” Well, when I first started to wrangle up an idea for this story…I’m not a plotter at all, so everything is very organic with me, but I generally will settle on the trope and if I can do an age gap as the trope, I’m going with it, that’s my jimjam is an age gap. So yeah, “Loving Layne” is that, it’s an age gap and it’s also a best friend’s father, which is an interesting…I’ve never written one of those before and it was a very interesting dance to get it so that everything worked well in the story and that things weren’t too…Even my editor at one point was like, “Are you sure about this?” I’m like, “Yes. It’s fine. It’s fine. They’ll be fine.” But it’s about basically a journalism major who is pulled to Chicago where the bachelor bid takes place by his best friend and his best friend is sitting on this huge secret and the secret is revealed during the bachelor bid in a very public way. So I don’t want to give away a whole lot, but I probably did saying the best friend’s father, but oh, well.

Jeff: Yeah. Yours was the first book I read because you finished this book I think before most of us had even started.

RJ: She insanely productive.

Jeff: I like the little, kind of, the secret mystery kind of thing was really interesting to me and how it all worked into the story.

Vicki: Yeah, like I said, it was quite a little bit of a tap dance because that trope can be kind of like…it can make them go, “Oh,” you know, like, not the age gap. Well, the age gap can too, but it’s a pretty substantial age gap as well, which also is my jimjam. So, there was a lot of fine-tuning, like, in editing to make sure, like, my editor was happy with it because when I wrote it, of course, I’m happy with everything I write because everything I write is just golden. Ask RJ and she will tell you.

RJ: Yeah. Absolutely, Vicki, everything you write is wonderful.

Vicki: Yeah, everything, all my words are gold. But, you know, so I wanted to make sure that getting this from an outside source that everything worked and my editor was very happy with it. And then, so I’m assuming it’s all good. We’ll find out.

Susan: It’s really good.

Chantal: It worked really well.

Susan: Yeah. I loved it.

Vicki: Good, good, good.

Jeff: So, third in the sequence is my book, “Keeping Kyle.” I kind of swung to kind of a sweet almost category romance. So, I’ve got like a tech entrepreneur, Austin, who has had a wild crush on Kyle since they were in the same high school together. They didn’t know each other at all, but they were in the same high school and Austin followed Kyle’s career as Kyle went through college in Ann Arbor and then ended up on the Detroit Arsenal. And when he got the opportunity to go to Chicago for the all-star game and then bid on Kyle, he was not going to lose.

And the thing is for both of these guys, they’ve both had different but similar childhoods. Kyle lost his father when he was 8 and he was very much told he was the man of the family, had to take care of the family even though he was 8. And it kind of stuck with him. And he’s also the subject of trade rumors because Detroit needs some defensemen. And so, he’s worried about not having to leave his hometown where he’s supposed to be in his mind. Whereas Austin grew up poor, his parents worked multiple jobs. Once he was of age to start contributing to the family, he was expected to really be doing homework or making money to help keep the family afloat, but also expected to go to college and do great things. So, he’s built this tech company that he’s unfortunately on the verge of losing. And so, he’s a workaholic trying to save that. And so, you’ve got two people who really don’t see time for a boyfriend and have all this other stuff going on, but then there’s a little something-something that kind of pivots their perception of things and what their lives maybe should be.

Vicki: We gotta have a little something-something.

Jeff: Yeah, it was so fun to write and I have to say that RJ and I had a little fun on the side too because Garrett is Kyle’s best friend.

RJ: In a way, audience, in a way.

Jeff: RJ offered up Garrett to be Kyle’s best friend. I had a lot of fun kind of brainstorming some stuff with RJ because we made it where Garrett is Kyle’s bestie from their junior days, which was ridiculously fun for me.

Vicki: That’s a really nice tie-in too. It was just like another neat little way of tying all these guys together, aside from the obvious things.

Jeff: Absolutely. I like how, you know, there’s these little points of crisscross. So, Susan, let’s hear all about “Scoring Slater.”

Susan: So, Slater has been playing for Buffalo for the past three seasons. He got there as a rookie. He is very much attached to his phone and social media and he posts all the time and he’s really gathered a following of fans. So, he gets voted in as the last man in for his division for the all-star game. The love interest is his best friend, Noah. Noah was traded to the team over the summer. So they’re best friends, they’re also roommates, and obviously teammates. And Slater is kind of in love with him and doesn’t really know what to say or he should say anything because Noah got out of a relationship before he got traded and kind of wasn’t looking for anything. They’re very much an odd couple. Slater’s kind of messy. Noah is very, very neat, everything’s in order, color-coordinated, like ridiculously over the top. Definitely the Felix and Oscar.

So, Noah is very, very, very, very private, the complete opposite of Slater posting every meal and selfie he can. Noah was outed at the draft and that had a huge media firestorm around it. So, he’s been very, very closed off and shut down since then. So, everything with them is kind of opposite. But he would love to have a relationship with Slater but he doesn’t really know if he’s the right person. And then, of course, the auction happens and it might make them test that. I don’t know, maybe. But I had such a good time with writing these guys. Like, I love, like, the best friends dynamic and I really wanted to do something with teammates and the whole roommate situation. So, this was hard for me to write for, like, reasons outside of writing, but at the same time, I’m really happy with the way they came together.

Chantal: And I told Susan that…I actually told her this last night. Like, because I’m fortunate enough that I’ve been able to read it and I think it’s like…I mean, it has all the feels, all the feels. I mean, oh, it’s so good. I love it.

Susan: Chantal is very, very good for me. Chantal’s character, Isaiah, I got to borrow him for a little bit in my book when we were plotting it out. I’m like, “I need him.” It was fun to have Isaiah pop up for me.

Jeff: I have to say that friends to lovers is one of my favorite things ever. And then you add that teammate dynamic too, which turns, of course, into workplace dynamics. I suspect yours is going to be like crack for me because you hit some of my favorite tropes.

Chantal: Oh, and then the roommates too. So, just saying.

Jeff: It just piles on.

Chantal: Just saying.

Vicki: These folks have just about a little something for anybody, don’t they? Whatever your jimjam is, we have it for you and these books.

Jeff: For sure. So, Chantal, tell us all about “Absolving Ash.”

Chantal: So, Ash needed to be last because Ash actually retired 10 years prior. He retired from the NHL at the age of 24 after he injured Isaiah so badly that Isaiah had to leave hockey at the age of 20. And so my guys are…I mean, Ash is just so…he’s so tormented. I love a tormented…I love torment. I love…you know, like I said, I wrote trauma scenes. I’m always writing a trauma scene. Ash went to Chicago and he became a chef and he’s laid low, he’s changed his name. He is just out of the spotlight because he feels that he can never make up for what he did to Isaiah. And then Isaiah happens to be working the bachelor auction for the hockey network. He’s doing kind of the fun little segments. So, he’s interviewing the bachelors and getting footage and stuff. And so, he’s there and Ash is catering the event. And it’s when Lane, in Vicki’s book, kind of pulls out of the event that they need an extra person and Ash gets pulled in. He doesn’t want to, but he does it to help his friend who is one of the people who runs the Hockey Allies auction. This is rivals to lovers. It’s about forgiveness, it’s about how we can forgive ourselves, how we can forgive each other. And, you know, how these two guys find love.

Susan: It’s a fabulous redemption story.

Vicki: It’s very good.

Chantal: And they have dogs. They have cute dogs.

Susan: Dogs are your favorite.

Jeff: Everything’s better with a puppy. As each of you were writing the stories, anything, in particular, that kind of threw you a curveball as you were working through your stories?

RJ: I don’t actually plot any of it. So, I think every single word I write is a curveball. Vicki will tell you, I mean, you know, we go in with a chapter that I’m, you know, supposed to be writing or she’s supposed to be writing and then it kinda changes halfway through because…I always hate using this explanation, but it’s like when you learn your characters and they start to talk to you and it takes you in a completely different direction because you want them to do XYZ and their character’s telling you that actually they want to do ABC. So I think my books are constantly throwing me for curveballs if that’s an answer.

Vicki: Well, like just the process of being an organic writer, every time you sit down to write, you have the possibility of being thrown a curveball because you don’t know where the character’s going to take you as opposed to like people who plot out. Like, I mean, some people are very serious plotters where they plot out every scene in a book. Like with RJ and I, we just pretty much sit down and be like, “So what do you want to cover in this one?” We’ll be like, “Well, we’re going to cover this.” Okay. And then the next day, you know, you get to chapter back and you’re like, “Okay, I did not see that coming.” That’s how it is even with my solo books, even like with this one, I mean, there were a few things in there, like I said, that required some real dancing because I wasn’t sure how to handle this situation that cropped up. So yeah, there definitely is.

Susan: I was in literally the middle of the book for me, the auction happens in the middle of my book, so this is the second scene after they’re back. Now they’re back in Buffalo, and I’m writing and I’m sitting there and I’m thinking like, the scene’s not working but I don’t know why. And I get up and I’m walking around and then it just comes to me, something that probably should’ve been obvious from the beginning, looking at it now, and it didn’t, something that would really, really dig in at Noah’s wound. And it would be the worst possible thing in the world for him regarding Slater. And I’m like, “Oh, well why did you know?” So, I guess it popped up late, but I’m glad it did.

RJ: Did you have to go back and like like seed the information.

Susan: I think it was kind of, that was already there. Like, I went back and I added a couple of lines in because his…like Chantal’s…I’m talking for Chantal but she comes from her social worker background and she’s very much, you know, well, what’s wrong, what’s the wound? And for me, I’m always like, I’m a middle child and I like to fix everything. So I like to make everything happy for everyone all the time, which is not good when you’re writing a book if people are just happy all the time. I was like, I have to be mean to him, and what would make him really uncomfortable? But so the thread was already there. I just had to push it a little bit more, so, but I’m happy that popped into my head because I think it definitely made the conflict stronger. So, yeah.

Chantal: Yeah, it definitely works. I think for me, one of the things I found surprising is that I actually plotted…I’ve not really plotted as much as I plotted this book with Susan and I found that it was really a lot easier to write. So, that was actually surprising to me. Susan and I sat down one day and I knew, you know, what beats I was going to hit, but I didn’t necessarily know how it’s going to get there, but I knew I needed to get there. And so that was really…that actually surprised me is how much easier it was for me to write that way.

Jeff: Kind of surprises in Kyle…These days I plot, like the last couple of years of books, I’ve plotted pretty heavily. But in plotting Kyle, the fourth act was kind of a black hole for me. Obviously, I knew I was heading towards a happily ever after, but I kind of didn’t know what the dark everything falls apart moment was or how they fixed it. At the time of writing, I was in an online class that Rachel Heron teaches called 90 Days to Done. And the class actually helped me figure out that fourth act because in the class, everybody has a moment where they present something, whether it’s just, “Here’s what my story is,” or, “Here’s where I need help,” or whatever. And so, that class plus working with Will, my husband, figured out that fourth act and I was like, thank God because there has to be something that happens here. But I was surprised at how much trouble I had coming up with the fourth act. I think I didn’t want to break these guys to the point of what had to happen in the fourth act because while you can’t have them happy all the time, I like these guys so much, I didn’t want to break them either.

RJ: Yeah, I’m quite happy to hurt all of my characters. Some of them, I think if I hurt some of my characters, I think some of my readers might hunt me down and kill me. Look what we did…well, it was all Vicki’s fault, but we hurt one of our hockey players in our first series of books, but we’ve rebuilt that hockey player through our other books, but it had to happen, that dark moment had to happen and it affected all the people around them. And I think the dark moment actually shows people what kind of character they’ve got and how it can change them. So, I think yours worked really well.

Jeff: What do you think it is that makes hockey romance consistently seems to do so well?

Susan: For me, like the one thing that I’ve always liked with hockey players more so than any other sport, they always seem to be more affectionate with each other, you know, because they’ve played together for years, you know, most of the time, like either like growing up, you know, juniors, like whatever, and like, you see them, they’ll hug, they’ll like…there’s a picture of Tyler Seguin at an airport, like, laying on one of the other guys sleeping. Like, you’ll see just like…I feel like as much as there is still some homophobia, like, I feel like there’s just more affection. I like seeing that and that they’re not afraid to, like, show that. So, I think one of the reasons I really enjoyed reading hockey romances, it makes sense to me that, I don’t know, it’s just kind of like…

Vicki: Yeah, I think you’re making perfect sense. I mean, like if you look at a normal hockey season is 80 games before playoffs and if you’re on that team, you are spending seven, eight months with the other people. I mean, it’s not like football where you get together…I mean, they have scrimmages, of course, but you know, it’s once a week as opposed to hockey is three, four games a week. So, you’re with these people, this is your family, essentially, for eight months. So, I mean, of course, you know, they’re going to be as close as brothers. And there’s also just something about hockey players, and I’m not saying this to offend any other athletes, but hockey players seem to have a greater sense of team. If you listen to the interviews, there is never I, it’s always we, “We need to play tighter corners. We need to score.” There’s never I, there’s just something about that, how humble hockey players are, that really appeals to me.

Chantal: And I think that starts from a young age because if you look at…I mean, where I live, hockey is so big, you know, with kids and, I mean, even at like age 4 like kids are out there, I mean it’s insane. But there is this community, this camaraderie that begins at such a young age and I think that you see that throughout their careers.

Jeff: All right. As we wrap up, it’ll be good to hear from everybody what’s coming up next and what your website is so that people can follow along to make sure that they keep up with your books. So, Chantal, tell us what you’ve got coming up after this “Hockey Allies” book.

Chantal: So, I have the second book in my “Friendship” series, which is male-female coming up and that is “Running From Friendship.” So, hopefully, that will get out sometime in April, May, something like that. And then I hope to write a story about Leon, who is the character that Susan touched base on, who’s in my first book, “Returning from Friendship,” and that will be a male-male. I hope to get his story out because I love him. He’s such a fun character. My books and newsletter and everything can be found on my website,

Jeff: Fantastic. And Susan, what’s headed up next from you?

Susan: So, the next thing I have coming up is book two in my “Bliss Bakery” series. It’s currently titled “Falling Sweetly,” but that title may change, and that is male-male, just like book one, which was “Sugar Crush.” So that should be out, I’m hoping for June/July and then after that’ll be the third book in my football series, which is male-female, although that series is next m/f and m/m just like my hockey Buffalo series is. So, I’ve been needing to get back to football, so hopefully, that book will come out in time for football season. And all of my books and everything else about me are on my website,

Jeff: All right, Vicki, what’s coming up next for you?

Vicki: Oh, my goodness. Well, as my effervescent co-author mentioned earlier, we have “Shadow and Light,” that will be available when this comes out. And then, of course, “Loving Layne.” And I guess looking in May, I have “Final Shot” coming out, which is the second book in my “Overtime” trilogy and this is Dan Arou Kalinski story, which I was very excited about because I’ve written about umpteen hundred books about Victor Kalinski who is very pushy and I’m surprised he even let me write about them, to be honest. He has, so that one’s going to be coming out in May, and we’ll just stop at May. I have stuff coming out, but we’ll just go with that. My website, you can find my books, my publishing calendar, blog, I have a serial that’s running, all that can be found on

Jeff: Excellent. And RJ?

RJ: Okay, well, “Guarding Garrett” is coming out in early April. We’ve got “Shadow and Light,” which will be out by the time this is played, so that was with Vicki, and the next one we’ll be writing in that is “Sugar and Ice,” which is coming out in July. I’m wrapping up my “Lancaster Falls” romantic suspense series with book three, “All That Remains,” which will be out in June. And then I’m switching back to my “Single Dads” for book four, “Always,” which will be out kind of late July, early August. And if I get any time to sleep, I will try and catch up on some sleep. My website is There’s lots of freebies on there, and news, and my blog, and interviews, and visiting guests, and all kinds of shenanigans happen on that website.

Jeff: All right. Fantastic. We will link to everything we talked about in the show notes so that people can find that stuff quite easily. It’s been so good talking to all of you and getting us back together to talk about the “Hockey Allies” series as it comes out to the world.

Susan: Yes, thank you. This has been so much fun.

RJ: Thank you for having us.

Vicki: Thank you.

Book Reviews

Here’s the text of this week’s reviews:

Someday, Someday by Emma Scott. Reviewed by Jeff.
Emma Scott is a new to me author and I’m so glad I made the discovery because Someday, Someday is a beautifully complicated book about overcoming your past, keeping important people close and embracing who you’re supposed to be.

Max and Silas, who are the heart and soul of the story, come from very different backgrounds but they are equally broken. Max Kaufman was thrown out of his house at an early age and lived on the streets doing what he could to survive. He battles addiction but has pulled himself up, went through nursing school but wants out of his heartbreaking job at a local hospital. He finds the right opportunity to become a private nurse to a millionaire client who has multiple sclerosis.

Despite being the son of a millionaire, Silas March’s life hasn’t been easy. His father longs for the perfect son. Silas’s brother Eddie wasn’t that because of Asperger’s syndrome, Silas became his focus. But when Silas disappointed his father because he was gay, dad sent him away to be “fixed” in the Alaska wilderness. With the M.S. diagnosis, it’s time for Silas to take over the family pharmaceutical company, but first dad wants him engaged to prove that he’s fit to take over.

Silas is set to go through with the rouse–he even has a woman willing to go along for the ride in his best friend, Faith. He doesn’t expect the handsome man he met at a recovery meeting to end up working as one of his father’s nurses. Initially, he wants Max fired, but Max settles in and these two go from enemies to a loose truce before finally moving to friends and ultimately lovers.

Max and Silas really captured my heart. They’ve been through so much and neither believes they’re much suited for a relationship because of all the baggage. They only thing that either has much confidence in is doing their jobs. Watching these two soften towards each other brought on so many feels. While they’ve both got it hard, I felt for Silas slight more because he needs his father’s approval to take over the company which he absolutely believes should stay in the family. As he prepares to assume the lead role, he discovers that someone in the company has been pushing opioids in a very illegal way and he’s determined to put a stop to that and right the company’s wrong at all costs.

Max has his own set of issues. He’s trying to repair his relationship at home. While he and his sister have a strong relationship, he’s working on patching up things with his Mom and hoping that he can do the same with his father. He’s not sure where a boyfriend fits into that–not to mention that he’s in recovery for his addictions and he probably shouldn’t be dating the boss’s son–especially when that boss is homophobic.

It’s Silas’s older brother Eddie who helps brings the couple together. Eddie misses nothing and isn’t afraid to call people out either, even as he presents himself as if he were from Victorian England. Silas is more himself around his brother than anyone else as he plays piano for him and makes sure that he’s being taken care of properly. Eddie and Max also get on very well and that starts to make a bridge between Max and Silas.

As they spend more time together though, it becomes obvious to them–and outsiders what’s happening and that freak Silas out. Everything comes to a head at the March Halloween party–and it is some spectacular fireworks that left me with all the feels.

I love how Emma Scott blended together two men with some deep wounds–both caused by family–and added the great characters of Eddie and Faith to give even more dimension to the story. These guys fight for themselves and ultimately fight the good fight for each other and I absolutely loved it. I recommend Someday, Someday by Emma Scott and I’m looking forward to talking to Emma about this book when she comes on the show later this spring.