October 11, 2013

Tournament by Jennifer Goebel and Dagmar Jacisinova – Guest Post


In 2014, a worldwide nuclear war demolishes a wide swath of the planet. Alaska, the only part left of the United States, joins with the other surviving countries to set up a Global Government. Its primary responsibility is to prevent another devastating war. Leadership changes every two years, based on the outcome of the only competitive outlet the survivors can agree on: a worldwide soccer tournament. In 2044, 17-year-old twin soccer stars Jason and Nate are ready to play the game of their lives. But they soon discover that Alaska’s new president has some very special plans and winning the Tournament is the least of their worries.

add to goodreadsTournament by Jennifer Goebel and Dagmar Jacisinova
Publication Date:  June 11, 2013
Publisher:  Menotomy Press

Available for Purchase:


Takes Two to Tango – 
Dagmar and Jen: A Writing Partnership



When Dagmar Jacisinova and Jen Goebel started writing together, they had literally no idea what we were doing. Neither of them had written a book before. They had read a few articles about how some of their favorite authors attacked the writing process, but neither had ever taken a writing class or been part of a writer’s group, or done any of the traditional things writers do. In real life, Dagmar is co-owner of a travel agency in Brookline, Massachusetts, and spends her days arranging airline tickets, hotels, and tourist packages. Jen is a technical writer for the National Marine Fisheries Service, where she works on issues involving endangered species.

They self-published their YA book, Tournament, a dystopian future tale where a soccer tournament determines world leadership and twin 17-year-old soccer stars, Jason and Nate, are faced with more than just winning a game.

I recently sat down with them to talk about the process of co-writing a work of fiction.

Q: How did you decide to write a book together?

Dagmar:  It all started while we were out walking our dogs. We are both huge YA fans and avid readers. Between us, we have four sons – I have twins, Luki and Kubi (16), and she has Ben (17) and Matthew (13). Our kids all like to read, but are also active boys, and spend a lot of time playing soccer and video games. We were always on the lookout for books they would like. Some of our favorites, like Kristin Cashore’s Graceling and Fire, they loved, too. But so many of the books we loved had female main characters and a lot of romance. We had that thought that probably everyone does at some point: We should write a book!

Q: And where did it go from there?

Jen: Nowhere. I was in graduate school at the time, and I didn’t have time. I told Dagmar we could start when I finished, so I graduated in May, and we started in June. That is one of the things that Dagmar brings to our partnership—she’s very pushy, and I mean that in a good way. If she hadn’t pushed us to get started, the book would still probably be this idea we had that we really should do sometime.

Q: How did you come up with the story?

Dagmar: With lots of red wine. We met in my refinished basement, where we could escape from kids and dogs. Our first few meetings we just talked about the story, and what we could put in a story. They say, “write what you know,” and so we figured we knew soccer and kids, and so that would be part of our book. I was always listening to the boys as I schlepped them and their friends around to soccer games. I grew up in Eastern Europe, and went to the government “junior leadership” camps, and so that went into the book, too.

Q: How did you actually do the writing?

Jen: At first, we sat together in front of my laptop in Dagmar’s basement and wrote every word together. It was pretty slow, but it got us going. And then after we had a few chapters, and we knew our storyline, we would just meet and talk about the next chapters and each of us would write a chapter and send it to the other. Then we’d edit each other’s chapters, and talk about what worked and what we wanted to change.

Q: Did you ever have any disagreements or arguments over your work?

Dagmar: We definitely had disagreements. There was one time when Jen went off in a whole different direction in a chapter she was writing, and I just thought it was wrong. I didn’t like it and I told her I didn’t think it worked. We threw out that chapter. But mostly, we agreed on what worked and what didn’t.

Q: What was the hardest part of writing the book?

Jen: Dialogue. Getting teenage dialogue right was hard. In that case, we didn’t always trust ourselves and would call in our “beta” readers—our kids—who weren’t shy about telling us what they liked and what they didn’t like. We’ve had a number of reviewers tell us that we got the dialogue right, which has been a huge relief.

Q: What do you each bring to the partnership?

Dagmar: Jen brings the details of the story, and the technical parts that I don’t have the patience for. She’s really intent on getting the details right and would bring up Google maps of Alaska and measure distances so we could figure out how long it would take people to travel across distances, and researched what the effects of a nuclear war might be, and which countries might survive. That’s not my thing, but it’s important for the story. And English. I grew up in what is now Slovakia, and my English writing is not always correct.

Jen: Dagmar brings a really clear vision of the story, and the push to get it done. I trust her instincts for the story, and her ability to keep us on the right path.

Q: What’s next for you two?

Jen: We’re mostly working on marketing and selling Tournament, trying to get it out there. That’s harder than writing the book!

Dagmar: We’re also working on the sequel to Tournament, and we each have our own books that we’re working on, too. In all our spare time.

Tournament is available on Amazon at as both Kindle and paperback editions.


Tournament book homepage

Jennifer Goebel:

I have always wished that “reader of books” was a paid profession. Born in the Philippines, I moved a lot as a child and books were my constant companions during the never-ending “new kid” transitions. This near-pathological love for being immersed in an imaginary world has continued into adulthood, as the two-foot high stacks of books on my bedside table attest.

My work history is, ahem, non-linear to say the least. I’ve sold books, worked for a publishing company, been a lawyer, been manatee research assistant, worked at an Aquarium, worked as a marketing copywriter, worked as a development and membership writer/editor, and now work as a technical writer with a group of fisheries biologists. I’ve always wanted to write, and now, finally, I am!

I live in Massachusetts with my husband, two teenage sons, and two middle-age dogs.

Dagmar Jacisinova:

Dagmar Jacisinova was born in a country that does not exist anymore and moved to the USA as wide-eyed, barely English-speaking “youth” at age of 25. She “perfected” her English by watching soap operas (yeah, no kidding) and talking to two-year-olds while babysitting. Dagmar never spent a day without reading and she started to read kids’ and YA literature while trying to force the love of books on her twin sons. That twisted path also led her to writing Tournament, as she felt that most of the middle grade books out there were for “chicks.” Dagmar still spends her “free” time watching her teenage kids dishing out and receiving punishments on various soccer fields, carpooling six “sweaty Neanderthals” to and from soccer games ,while listening to them with her ears “wide open.”


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