Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Virtual Tour & #Giveaway for First & Goal by Laura Chapman

First & Goal
By Laura Chapman
Queen of the League, Book 1

Publisher:  Marching Ink, LLC.
Release Date: September 9, 2015
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Format:  eBook/Print
Length:  278 Pages (728KB)
ISBN:  978-0996427630

ASIN:  B0151ZBL0G

Buy Links:  Amazon | B&N | Kobo 



About the book:

When Harper Duquaine’s no-nonsense approach to work unintentionally ruffles the wrong feathers at her new job, she joins her co-workers’ fantasy football league to prove she can hang with the guys. Only problem: she doesn’t know a sleeper from a keeper (or any of the other lingo thrown her way).

Embroiled in a world of lineups, stats, and trades, Harper’s quest to make nice topples when her competitive streak emerges. And her promise to herself that she’ll be a strong, independent woman and leave the drama and heartache behind is seriously tested when she catches the attention of her two biggest competitors: J.J., a local celebrity determined to win a fantasy championship, and Brook, the mild-mannered coach who seems too good to be true. Both threaten her resolve to remain single… and, more importantly, her chances at winning the prize pool.

With a slew of conflicting advice in her real and fantasy worlds, Harper must figure out how to play the game and come out a winner. 
How Getting Involved in Fantasy Football Led to the Queen of the League Series by Laura Chapman

Fantasy football first came on my radar back in 2011. That’s when I—like Harper in First & Goal—moved into a house with my two brothers. Like Harper, I enjoy a close relationship with my brothers. As a tribute to them, I even named the Duquaine boys Scott and Christopher—my own brothers’ middle names and dedicated this story to them. And like Harper, I’ve spent a lot of time watching football with my brothers.

During that first year of living with my brothers/roommates (or broomies if you like), I spent a lot of Sundays watching football games I didn’t care about. Aside from the Green Bay Packers—who were having a dominating season following their Super Bowl win—I couldn’t figure out why we cared about the other games. But the broomies did. Their fantasy football players belonged to any number of pro teams, and we watched the games to track their progress.

By the end of the year, my interest was piqued. I had no immediate plans to join a league, but I at least understood the appeal of joining. It was fun (when you were winning) and it gave you more incentive to watch other games.

Fast forward to the following August. I overhead some of my then-co-workers plotting to organize an office league. Mixed in with talk about logistics, they wondered what other guys they should invite to join the league. I’ve always been someone who sees a glass ceiling and wants to break through it—or at least make an attempt. I eavesdropped on their conversation for maybe one minute before I declared that I wanted to join the league even if I wasn’t one of the guys.

Unlike Harper’s co-workers, mine welcomed me without question. Oh sure, I had a couple of teasing comments, with colleagues misguidedly encouraging me to draft a kicker or defense (or unsigned players) with my first picks. But that was it. I had to save my rants about gender equity for another day. Which was fine, because I had enough to worry about—like how to draft a team.

The league commissioner walked me through the steps, including how to pick a team name and change my avatar. You know important stuff. But he also sat with me through a mock draft and showed me resources. He even gave me lots of encouragement, telling me he knew I had what it took to take my future team to the playoffs.

It didn’t take long for me to become a bit obsessed.



About halfway through my draft, I had my first inkling that all of this might lead to a story. It took only one week of play for me to realize my prediction was correct. Fantasy football was so unpredictable and filled with so much natural drama—even in a courteous league—that there were endless possibilities for stories.

And it also offered potential for intrigue outside of the game. My relationship with both of my brothers took on a new meaning in the following months. We talked football at breakfast.


 They left me not-so-hidden messages around the house.


By the end of my first fantasy football season, I knew I’d write about the game told from a female perspective. As a romantic comedy writer, I saw the potential for adding some love to the mix. (I wish I could say my real life influenced the creation of characters like J.J. or Brook, but my life is too boring for that. Oh to face heartthrobs wherever I turn…)

With plenty of personal football experience under my belt, and an overactive imagination at my disposal, the Queen of the League series was born. I hope readers can feel that love for the game—and the people you play it with—when they read First & Goal.

EXCERPT

I focus on the screen. If one of my few preferred players goes, I need to be prepared with a backup. So far, my top choices are on the board. My fingers hover over the mouse, itching for the moment I get to make my first pick.

Ding. I’m up. Two minutes on the clock. I don’t even need two seconds. Click.

“The Pope.” Gio nods in approval. “Well done.”

“Thanks,” I murmur, admiring my first player with pride.

Welcome to Team Harper, John-Paul. May your grip be strong and your legs fast. Play your best on the field and behave off of it, and we won’t have any problems.

Wait. What if we have problems? There has been plenty of buzz the past couple of years about players failing drug tests or landing in jail. My team could suffer if someone violates league rules. I should probably check out their rap sheets—not just their statistics on the field. I pull up a search engine and start typing in the names of my dream players to make sure we won’t have any trouble. I’m so caught up in my new mission, I almost miss the notification.

Brook’s Bros has drafted Chad Baker.

I stare at the screen in horror. No. No, no, no, no, no. This can’t be happening. It’s too soon for anyone to draft him. He’s not projected to go until late in the second round or even the third. He’s my player. Shaking my head, I struggle to contain my befuddlement and dismay. I have to keep my anger in check. I have to move on and find another quarterback to replace Baker. I have to—  

“Are you eff-ing kidding me?” The words are out—loudly—before I can stop them. The stream of chatter around the room ends, and everyone turns to gape at me. Even Blitz pauses his ministrations to stare wide-eyed.

Wade is the first to speak up. “Everything okay, buddy?”

Settle down, Harper. Don’t freak out. Come up with an excuse. Lie. You do it all the time. Make it legit.

“Uh, yeah,” I mumble sheepishly. “I spilled some of my beer. Sorry. It’s a little early for a party foul.”

Everyone is still staring, so I have to act fast. “Wade, you only have ten seconds left to pick.”

The distraction works. Wade swears under his breath, and everyone’s attention returns to the draft. I release a sigh and roll my shoulders to work out the tension. I only have a few minutes, maybe even seconds, to decide who I’ll take in Baker’s place.

The Vikings’ new quarterback is the next highest rated QB available, but . . . I’d rather not give myself a reason to cheer against the Packers. I could grab last year’s Super Bowl champ, but half of his starters are under investigation by the league.

I pause on the fifth-ranked quarterback. Todd Northwood. He’s back after sitting out last year to recover from surgery. He’s working with a new offense, and he’s one of the oldest players in the league. But . . . he’s a legend. The records he set during his rookie season haven’t been touched by anyone else. And he’s a good guy. He might not be Chad Baker, but I still wouldn’t mind rooting for him once a week.

The fantasy experts are split on whether or not he’ll make a good QB.

To be safe, I grab wide receiver Isaiah Dewey-Davis with my second pick. It’s too early in the draft to take North. Not with his rank.

“Double D,” Gio says after my selection goes through. “Nice pick.”

“Thanks. Again.” Does Gio plan to comment on every player I add? I don’t need a play-by-play. We’re in our co-worker’s living room drafting fantasy teams, not sitting in a network studio analyzing a real game. I’m sure he’s trying to be supportive, but I kind of want to punch him.

Despite my reservations, I add North to my wish list. Depending on what everyone else does, I’ll take him in the third or fourth round. In the meantime, I peruse the rest of the available players, checking for any red flags. Those who pass my list of demands get added to the list of potential draft picks. Another top quarterback goes away. My top choices for running backs, tight ends, and wide receivers disappear.

Ding. My turn again. Lips pursed, I hover over a top-rated tight end. He’s the smartest pick based on rankings. No question, I should take him. Instead of going with what I know to be best, I open up Todd Northwood’s profile for the dozenth time.

The positive comments from fantasy experts are impressive.

He’s one of the best players to ever take the field. Years from now, people will remember North the way baseball fans have immortalized Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson, or the Babe.

The negatives are hard to ignore:

North hasn’t thrown the pigskin in competition in more than eighteen months. Even if he’s physically recovered from his injury and surgery, you can’t ignore the mental hit he’s taken from the bad press, failed team negotiations, and a general loss of faith. North will never come close to recapturing the glory of his former days. Put him out to pasture before he takes others down with him.

The good contradicts the bad and vice versa, but I’m fixated on one comment from a pundit whose name I don’t recognize.

There’s no guarantee managers can expect North to produce at the same level he did back in his glory days. Still, I wouldn’t put it past one of the hardest working men to ever play the game to prove himself to the naysayers. He’s a risky choice, no doubt, but he might be worth it.

He’s a “risky choice,” but if I don’t take him now, someone else probably will before the draft comes back to me. What happens if I take him and he fails me? What if I let him slip and he makes the greatest comeback in sports history? Which outcome can I live with?

“Ten more seconds,” J.J. reminds me, interrupting my contemplation. “Make your selection.”

The computer timer rings a chime in warning, and with a shaky hand, I go with my heart.

“Hmm,” Gio says while the next team manager quickly snaps up the tight end I’d been contemplating. “Todd Northwood. That’s a . . . bold choice.”

“It’s the right one,” I say more confidently than I feel. “North is back.”

“If you say so.”


My fingers tingle, and I clench my fist shut. There’s no point in being overly sensitive. Why bother? There’s no going back now. I have to have faith in North. I have to not worry so much because none of this really matters.




About the Author

Laura Chapman is the author of First & Goal, The Marrying Type, and Hard Hats and Doormats. Her work also appears in Merry & Bright, A Kind of Mad Courage, and All I Want For Christmas. A native Nebraskan, she loves Huskers and Packers football, Netflix marathons, and her cats, Jane and Bingley. Laura is currently in pursuit of a fantasy football championship while penning her next novel.

Connect with Laura



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Tour Schedule

November 2- A Southern Girls Bookshelf – Guest Post & Excerpt

November 2 – Evocative Book Reviews –  Excerpt

November 3 – Chick Lit Club Connect – Guest Post

November 4 – Caroline Fardig – Guest Post

November 5 – Chick Lit Goddess – Q&A

November 6 – I Love My Authors – Excerpt

November 10 – My Homemade Library – Review & Excerpt

November 12 – Chick Lit Plus – Excerpt

November 16 – The Book Sirens – Guest Post & Excerpt

November 17 – Cat Lavoie – Q&A

November 18 – Queen of All She Reads – Guest Post & Excerpt

November 18 – Chick Lit Goddess – Guest Post & Excerpt

November 19 – The Book Bag – Review & Excerpt

November 19 – CDyess Writes – Excerpt 

4 comments:

  1. This looks like a really cute book. Gotta love football from the female perspective.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! Writing this story was a lot of fun. :)

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  2. Thanks so much for featuring FIRST & GOAL and me on the blog today!

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