Wendy reviews Diary of a Quarterback 1: King of Imperfections and Diary of a Quarterback 2: Prince of Mistakes by SA Collins. Self Published March 25, 2017, DoaQ1 252,088 words, DoaQ2 232,685 words.
Hi everyone! We would love to welcome SA Collins today, he’s releasing not one, but two books and is here to share them with us.Congratulations on the release of these two books! He also has an amazing giveaway at the end of this post. One winner will receive an autographed e-book copy of Diary of a Quarterback 1 & 2 as well as a $15 Amazon gift card, so be sure to check it out!
SA Collins also has an amazing trailer for the Diaries and you can watch it HERE
That Oppressive Script … How Angels of Mercy Changed My Queer Boy Perspective on Sports
Jocks have it hard.
They’ve got a lot to live up to as they pursue their passion in their chosen sport. This isn’t an easy thing to acknowledge on my part. I was one of those artistic queer kids that jocks loved to bag on. So why the change up in opinion?
Simple: I wrote Angels of Mercy.
When Angels presented itself (fully formed to the bitter end, mind you), I thought “Eh, I’ll bang this one out in a month.” I had the ending in my head already. I just had to write to that ending, right? Yeah, not so much it seems.
Here’s what I learned: you see, my main protagonist, Marco Sforza, is built upon my husband’s experiences playing football both at the high school level at Massillon, Ohio (the heart of high school American Football as we know it) and for Clemson U back in the day (admittedly a very different era than Marco’s present day story). So given the disparity in my husband’s and Marco’s timelines, I had to make some adjustments between my husband’s experiences and those that I was building for Marco. But what amazed me is that, at its core, very little has changed with regards to the institutionalization of homophobia within American football – be it, high school, college or pro.
We like to think “It gets better …” but in reality, has it? There are emerging stories about players in high school and college football that have appeared in OutSports where the players have come out to their teammates. In the cases that have been reported the response has been rather positive. Yet, we only have to bring up what happened to Michael Sam to understand that very little has changed with regard to players who hope to play openly and valued for their sportsmanship and not for who they love.
Angels taught me a lot. Not just about my characters and their road to happiness, but also because as I explored Marco’s having to follow that “jock script” all boys are indoctrinated to follow (bag the girl and draw some blood out on the field) Marco goes through some fairly difficult moments in his teenage life. In his desire to play ball and be one of the guys, he’s opened himself up to a major downfall that he can’t see coming – mostly because of the pressure to perform both on and off the field. That pressure is enormous. Yet, there’s a boy that has captured Marco’s attention in a way that no one, boy or girl, ever has. He finds himself on an emotional pendulum – swinging wildly from the life everyone else thinks he should have (girlfriends or friends with bennies, followed by marriage and rugrats), and the life he wants for himself wrapped up in a boy who requires darkness and shadows to survive another hellish day of high school.
It’s a ride my own husband had to play.
Simply put, hiding hurts everyone involved. No one ultimately benefits from that arrangement, despite how much comfort it may bring teammates in thinking that everything is cool, the dude is solid, a man’s man. Marco’s journey changed long held positions and baggage I carried from jocks that tormented me in my own past. I began to understand the pressures boys like Marco – who hide from themselves just to play the game they love to play – are under. But I didn’t want that discussion in my works to be so one-sided.
My granddaughter is queer and I spend a great deal of time with her and her friends. Queerdom is a very different monster with her crew. Just the fact that they embrace the word “queer” has changed my perspective on a word that used to torment me. So I realized that while things may not have totally changed, I also remembered the stories posted in OutSports of players who have experienced support from within their team. So while there is a clique within the team from Mercy High in my stories, I also balanced it with boys who really wouldn’t care if Marco was with a boy. I needed to show that line that things are changing. Maybe not at lightening speeds, but change is coming.
I am not kidding myself in thinking it will change in college or pro-ball in the next five, ten or fifteen years. That may be a long time in coming, but come it will.
With the release of Angels of Mercy – Diary of a Quarterback Part I: King of Imperfections and Angels of Mercy – Diary of a Quarterback Part II: Prince of Mistakes, I wanted to explore Marco’s journey. To be honest, while I started the main Angels of Mercy series from Marco’s boyfriend Elliot’s point of view, the story was really Marco’s to tell. He gets the lion’s share of the series (three books out of the six total).
I am thankful that Marco exists. He’s made me understand my husband’s past so much more. And I am far more sympathetic to athletes who take that courageous step to emerge and live a life out and proud. Their stories will always hold my interest.
I often wonder what I would say to my younger tortured teenboy self that would give my younger self context to understand what those boys go through. Don’t know if it would’ve made a difference or not, but I am glad I’ve grown enough as a writer and a queer man to give them a bit more of a pass and a modicum of understanding that many of them may not feel free enough to live openly and use oppression to express their frustration.
That’s what Angels ultimately explores. Here’s hoping that the trend toward acceptance keeps moving in a positive direction. I look forward to the day when it simply won’t matter.
Born in America but reared in their father’s home of Torino, Italy, Marco Sforza has led a fairly idyllic life. The Sforzas are an ancient and powerful family with a strong ducal past. They run a vast global empire that allows Marco to enter halls of power that most men only dream of. Yet, Marco is a boy who lives in a bubble of his family’s making.
When Marco returns to America to attend high school he grooms himself to become a rising star quarterback of the Mercy High Avenging Angels. He thinks his focus is his burgeoning football career is everything. He is all too aware he is a boy made of pure light that is meant to be seen and noticed. He is comfortable there. Until he meets a boy who shines brighter than him. Elliot Donahey is that boy. But Elliot is a boy who craves shadow and darkness to keep himself safe through another hellish day of high school.
Before he realizes it, Marco’s world becomes undone by this boy. Trapped in a script all jocks are meant to follow, Marco does his best to fit in and play along so he can play the game he loves, but this boy who hides in the shadows begins to consume his every thought and emotion.
Despite the script he’s been given to date girls, have sex, and hang with his teammates and follow along, Marco finds himself on an emotional pendulum where following that jock script only brings him further away from that world to circle the boy hiding in the shadows. Can Marco find it within himself to push against what others expect of him to find his way into Elliot’s arms? Even with all the fame, money and prestige his family brings to the table, will it be enough to gain the interest of a boy who only wants to hide from everyone?
In Diary of a Quarterback – Part Two: Prince of Mistakes, Marco has decided to put all of the jock laden toys away. He knows what he wants: Elliot Donahey and nothing – not his family, not his friends or the townspeople of Mercy – will get in his way. But others are watching and taking notice and not liking what they see. Darkness begins to circle the boys as they find their way to each other.
Will Marco find happiness in the arms of Elliot? Or will those around them who seek to tear them apart stop Marco from finding true love? Set against the rugged coastline located just outside of Big Sur, these boys and their friends lead surprisingly dramatic lives. Mercy is a town full of secrets. Some of them have the ability to destroy lives. Will Marco and Elliot have the strength to find a way to happiness and true love? Or will a meddlesome cheerleader and Marco’s teammate, Beau, find a way to tear them apart?
I was given the opportunity to not only review the ARC of these books, but to beta read them as well.
NOTE: The Angels of Mercy books should be read in the order written to get the most from this series. The order is as follows: Angels of Mercy Vol 1: Elliot, Angels of Mercy Vol 2: Marco: The fall of the Sforzas and Angels of Mercy Phoenix In The Fire (Angels of Mercy companion series book 1). You can read the reviews for each of these books here: Vol 1, Vol 2, Phoenix
I have combined both Diary of a Quarterback 1 and 2 in this review, since they have both released together. It seems like I’ve lived with the Donahey’s and the Sforzas for so long that I just automatically think that everyone already knows about them. If you are this far into the series then, I guess you do, if you aren’t this far in the series… what are you waiting for??? Go buy and read them all! DO IT NOW!!! Seriously, go ahead, I will wait…Are you back? Great! These books aren’t romance novels, they are character studies. Even if Marco and Elliot are the two most romantic young men that there ever were! So yeah, you do get your romance fix. But what I love the most about the way these stories are written is this… I don’t think that I’ve EVER had the opportunity to delve so deeply into characters lives. From several angles and perspectives. Yes, some of these books mirror each other, but they aren’t copies, they just all happen during the same time frame and they are all relevant to the big picture. In these books, we get to see things from Marco’s POV.
Diary of a Quarterback 1: The King of Imperfections ~
This book tells us Marco’s thoughts from the moment he first sees Elliot at his locker at the beginning of Marco’s sophomore year. How he begins to become obsessed with thoughts of Elliot and how those thoughts only grow as time goes by. I really got a feel of what it must have been like for Marco to have to put on a show of dating girls and trying to be who everyone thinks he should be while at the same time being consumed with his wanting the beautiful boy who was darkness to his light. I really felt for Marco because he had to take some time to do a little bit of self exploration and that led to some painful discovery. He learns that there are several different kinds of love and that loving someone the wrong way just won’t work out for either party in the end, no matter how much you want it to just because it would be easier than the truth. That leads to a breakup that had a completely unexpected ending. One that I didn’t see coming, but once it happened the way it did, I could understand it (these are young adults and we all do things while we’re growing up that we learn from). We get to see how his relationship with Elliot’s father began and how they become each others allies. And we see Marco gently loving Elliot from a distance, much like you would coax a wounded animal into gaining trust.
The way that this book reads, took me right back to high school. SA Collins has an incredible talent for being able to completely channel how young adults in high school think and feel and putting that into words. I remember how charged and full of emotion my thoughts were at that age and how everyone was divided into clicks. How cruel some people were only because they didn’t want all that meanness directed towards them. And the lengths that some of us went to just to stay off of some peoples radar. I also remember some beautiful, incredible moments of self discovery and finding someone special to share that with. This is written so well that I could remember all of those thins so clearly.
Diary of a Quarterback 2: The Prince of Mistakes ~
This diary summarizes Marco’s long trek to Elliot. I had to give Marco’s character credit in this one, he shows that he has some hidden depth and the patience of a saint. He’s so gentle with Elliot and seems to have to deal with him like he’s a wounded animal. Elliot doesn’t trust that Marco is what he seems to be and that hurts Marco in a couple of ways. Marco hates that Elliot is afraid of what might be lurking around the next corner and I think he’s also hurt that Elliot would paint him with the same brush as the people that have hurt him before. But Marco is persistent annnnd… he has a couple of people on his side. He works slowly but surely and finally gets his man! *happy dance* The sexual chemistry between Marco and Elliot is sizzling but more importantly is the deep forever love that Marco has for El. Even if Elliot isn’t fully aware of it, Marco has put so much time and effort into it that I kind of felt a bit sorry for Elliot. He has some catching up to do once he lets himself believe that he and Marco can be together.
This book is just as flawlessly written as all of his others. Plus… you are going to get a plot twist that you won’t see coming! I promise!!! Just won’t see it and it makes what you thought you knew about the other books change completely.The secondary characters are just as important as the MC’s and are written just as brilliantly. I felt the love that Marco has for Nick and Greg. I could see friendships blooming that I knew were going to be life long ones. I did the fist pump during a scene where one of the high school girls gets a moment of well deserved revenge. This world that SA Collins has written around Mercy high is absolutely astounding. So well put together and complex that we NEED these diaries to fully understand just what Marco is thinking and why he does some of the things that he does. I loved these boys hard before, now I love them HARD!!!
Where to buy:
The author is generously offering an autographed e-book copy of both Diary of a Quarterback 1 & 2 as well as a $15 Amazon gift card to one winner. Comment on this post for your chance to win. One winner will be randomly chosen.
You need to be 18 years or older to participate. Void where prohibited. Etc.
This giveaway will end on April 2, 2017 at 11:59 PM CDT.
SA “Baz” Collins hails from the San Francisco Bay Area where he lives with his husband, their daughter and wonder of all wonders, a whirlwind of a granddaughter and two exotic looking cats. A classically trained singer/actor (under a different name), Baz knows a good yarn when he sees it.
Based on years of his work as an actor, Baz specializes in character study pieces. It is more important for him as an author that the reader comes away with a greater understanding of the characters, and the reasons they make the decisions they do, rather than the situations they are in. It is this deep dive into their manners, their experiences and how they process the world around them that make up the body of Mr. Collins’ work.