Saturday, October 28, 2017

Bunheads Meets Friday Night Lights

One of my earliest memories is of attending a football game. My dad was a high school science teacher and also the head coach of the football team. I know all the positions, the rules, most of the plays…pretty much everything there is to know about football. For our birthday presents our senior year of high school, my best friend and I asked for season tickets to the Cleveland Browns. No laughing, please. They were actually good back then. I even wrote a series of Haiku for my AP English class about each home game of that season, and I got a perfect score on the assignment.
            Fast forward about fifteen years. When my daughter was two, I took her to a performance of The Nutcracker, which is a long-standing tradition in my family. She started taking dance lessons at the age of three, and was invited to join the dance company when she was five. She’s now fifteen, and I’ve watched hundreds, or possibly even thousands of hours of dancing. However, I never expected these two things I’ve watched and enjoyed for so long to intersect.
            One evening when we were watching Bunheads (if you haven’t seen it, go to the Freeform site immediately and watch all the episodes), I started thinking about writing a romance about a teenage girl who wants to be a prima ballerina but doesn’t have anyone to dance with, and suddenly a football player popped into my head. After a quick search, I discovered  that legendary players Herschel Walker and Lynn Swann, as well as several other professional football players, had taken ballet lessons to improve their game. My excitement built as I sketched out the football player’s story. He’s determined to get a college football scholarship, but he’s recovering from an injury from the previous season and his coach suggests he take ballet lessons to increase his flexibility, strength, and speed. As you might have guessed, that idea turnned into Offsetting Penalties, and I’m so excited to share this story with you.
Excerpt from Offsetting Penalties:
English had been a yawn-inducing bore, and calculus hadn’t been any better. Who gave a pop quiz on the first day of school? The new math teacher, that’s who. All of her hopes for a good first day hung on the results of history class. A quick glance around the room didn’t produce anyone she
knew well enough to sit with.
“Harley Quinn, you’re blocking the door. Some of us are eager to jump into European history.”
“Well, that makes one of you, Headlight.”
He laughed and gently pushed her into the room. “They’re stacking up in the hallway.”
Izzy glanced around a second time but still didn’t see anybody she wanted to sit with.
“Who are you looking for?” he whispered.
“Is that your way of asking me to sit by you?”
He dropped into the nearest desk, then grabbed her wrist and pulled her down next to him.
Things got real fast. Everyone except the teacher stared at them, but Garret ignored them all.
Izzy took a deep breath to slow her racing pulse and tried not to look around. It was better not to know how many people were staring at them.
“I thought we were easing into this,” she whispered. “So we’re not dating yet, just…getting to know each other.”
“Whatever works for you. Were we supposed to have done any reading for this class?”
Izzy rolled her eyes. “You’re such a…football player, thinking you can get away with anything just because you can catch a ball.”
He leaned close and whispered, “You know I have other talents.”
“Garret!” Her face filled with heat. If he wasn’t careful, she was going to out him as a dancer.
He held his hands up in the surrender position. “Hey, I didn’t say anything inappropriate. You’re the one who assumed the worst.”
“Shut up right now or we’re going to have a very public breakup.”
He grinned but wisely stayed quiet.
What had gotten into him?
“All right, settle down.” The new history teacher raised his brows at Garret. Maybe there was finally an adult at this school who wouldn’t favor the athletes.
“This is an updated copy of the syllabus. Two of the required reading books were left off the first list.” He divided up the stapled packets and handed one to everyone in the front row so they could pass them back. After that, he went over every book on the reading list in great detail.
Just when she was about to fall asleep out of sheer boredom, Garret passed her a note. A note folded in the shape of those paper footballs the boys used to play within middle school, of course. The teacher, whose name she still couldn’t remember, was apparently mesmerized by the sound of his own voice, so she went ahead and opened it. In big letters across the middle of the paper, it said, “Lunch?”
Seriously, who went through that much trouble to make a one word note when he could’ve just asked? Although, maybe he needed something to do to keep from falling asleep, too.

Offsetting Penalties

Isabelle Oster has dreamed of being a prima ballerina her entire life, so when the only male dancer backs out of the fall production, she’s devastated. Without a partner, she has no hope of earning a spot with the prestigious Ballet Americana company. Until hot jock Garret practicing stretches in one of the studios gives Izzy an idea, and she whips out her phone. But does she really want this badly enough to resort to blackmail?

All-state tight end Garret Mitchell will do anything to get a college football scholarship. Even taking ballet, which surprisingly isn’t so bad, because it means he gets to be up close and personal with the gorgeous Goth girl Izzy while learning moves to increase his flexibility. But Izzy needs him to perform with her for the Ballet Americana spot, and he draws the line at getting on stage. Especially wearing tights.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains a bit of blackmail, a lot of sarcasm, and an ending guaranteed to melt your heart.

About Ally Mathews:
Ally lives in Texas and is convinced her house is shrinking, possibly because she shares it with three kids, four dogs, two cats, a rabbit, and assorted reptiles. Oh, and her husband. She likes to curse in Russian because very few people know what she's saying, and spends most of what would be her spare time letting dogs in and out of the house and shuttling kids around. She has many stories in her head waiting for the opportunity to escape onto paper. 

When she’s not writing, you can find her reading or binge watching Psych, Scream, Younger, and superhero movies. She loves to cook but hates to clean up afterwards, and strongly believes that Disney World is truly magical. You can find Ally on her
website, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, though she makes no claims of using any of them properly.

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