What's New, Pussycat

get this stupid hat off me

Happy New Year, everyone! Hopefully your hockey teams are starting 2014 well, unlike mine, which began with losses and injuries. And speaking of bad news, I have bad news and good news, which would you like first?

The bad news is that Valley of Gold, the novella I said would be published for Christmas, is obviously not done. Well, actually it is done, but I’ve decided to add another novella to it before publishing. So, now I have to write the extra novella.

The good news is that I am editing my next long book right now, and it’s even longer than How The Cookie Crumbles. So long in fact, that it’s divided into two books. Don’t worry, the first book will have a proper ending. I hate those cliff-hanger books, they seem like a cash grab to me. Anyway, it’s already done, but I have to do some severe editing before it's ready to publish. Sigh. Editing always takes longer than I think. So I’m not even going to make a promised publication date, because I’m way too optimistic. Examples of my magical thinking: “Why yes, I can have that 50 page report done by tomorrow morning.” “Why yes, the Canucks are going to win the Stanley Cup!” “Why yes, I’m going to have my next book done by the end of January.”

The new books, which have no titles yet, are about Kelly Tanaka, a girl who plays hockey. Yup a girl, because we follow her from high school to university to the working world. It’s a sprawling epic that crosses generations, continents, and world wars. Naw, just kidding, it’s another hockey romance.

I’m excited because the first seven chapters in the first book have already been edited and finalized. So only 70 to go. Really. But in the meantime, here’s an excerpt for you. Let me set this up. Kelly is obsessed with hockey, she plays hockey and trains hard. In fact, she’s so focused on hockey, that she hasn’t had any interest in doing what normal 17 year-old girls do. Important things like shopping for clothes and dating. But a dare from Laura, the captain of her new hockey team, leads Kelly into a whole new world: guys.

In this excerpt, Kelly is going on a “fake date” with Nicklas Ericcson, a good-looking winger from the local rep hockey team. It’s not a real date, because in order to win her bet, Kelly had to beg and bribe Nicklas. One of his conditions was that the tomboyish Kelly get dressed up, since he has a reputation to maintain. So, in the previous chapter, April, Kelly’s best friend, orchestrated the obligatory chick-lit makeover scene, and voilá: a whole new Kelly. Just in time for the fake date.

After fixing me up, April even dropped me off at the movie theatre. She wanted to stay and have a look at Nicklas, but she had a date of her own. While I was waiting in the lobby, I saw two girls from my hockey team there. I figured they were spying on me, so I went over to chat.
“Sorry, Kelly. Laura did not believe you 100%, so she made us come. We were seeing the new Katie Holmes movie anyway. Don’t worry, we won’t follow you into the theatre or anything,” said one of them, a d-man named Hilary.
“You look really nice,” said the other girl, called Sara M. to distinguish her from the two other Saras on the team. “I like your top.”
I don’t think anyone had ever liked my top before, so April certainly knew what she was doing. The second sign that I looked different came when Nicklas walked right by me without noticing. To be exact, he checked me out but never got as high as my face so he didn’t recognize me.
“Hey Nicklas.”
“Kelly? Kelly! You clean up nicely.” He seemed surprised, and smiled.
“Nicklas, this is Sara and Hilary. They’re on my hockey team.”
“Hello,” both girls said at the same time. They had these goofy expressions on their faces. Nicklas seemed to have this weird effect on women.
“Ladies,” Nicklas nodded at them. Then he turned his megawatt smile on me. “Shall we get the tickets?”
I held them up. “Way ahead of you,” I replied. I kept looking at his lips. Seriously, I just wanted to kiss him again. What was wrong with me? This was charity on his part, and I had to be cool.
“Excuse us then,” he said to the girls, who were apparently stunned silent. He put his hand on the small of my back. Electricity again! I took a huge breath in, which caused him to focus on the V of my top.
“You sure look different, Kelly. You look—hot.”
“Um, thanks,” I replied with automatic politeness. Another first, no guy had ever called me hot before, unless I was actively sweating.
We sat down in the theatre. Nicklas started telling me about how his team was doing and who the best teams in his division were. As he was talking, he kept leaning towards me and getting really close. Once, he played with the fringe on my jacket, and his knuckles brushed my breast. I was torn between punching him and jumping him, so I pretended not to notice. Finally he paused and gave me this intense look.
“You know all the time we played hockey, I never knew you had a body like this underneath the equipment.”
“Well, I probably didn’t. I mean I was only 13 or 14 when we last played together.” Wow, could I have sounded any dumber if I tried?
He laughed. The movie was starting, so I was spared making any more stupid comments. As the previews began, he put his arm over the back of the seat. 
“What are you doing?” I asked. Really, I couldn’t stop my inner eleven-year-old from hijacking the date.
“I figure if your teammates are watching, we need to make things look good.”
“I don’t think they’re here. They were going to another movie.”
“You never know, Kelly.” And he pulled me in a little closer to him.
The movie was actually pretty good, in a cartoony way. There was a strong female star, so it wasn’t like a formulaic action flick. The only downer was that it was going to be continued, so the ending wasn’t very good. But honestly, I had been distracted by Nicklas the whole time. He was so close, his arm was touching me, and I could smell his masculine smell that was a combination of cologne, soap, and sweat. He seemed to be able to generate the whole electrical thing without even kissing me. I was feeling a little dazed when we finally got up to leave. It was a good thing that this date was almost over, ’cause I needed time to gather my wits.