Tag Archives: baseball

The Perfect Storm by Harry Margulies

“There’s a mother of a storm on the way.”

 
 
 
 
 
“That’s good, honey. Tell me who won the 1948 World Series. Seven letters.”
 
 
 

I glared at my wife, who appeared fully mesmerized by the crossword puzzle in her lap. I was pretty sure that’s what she’d called honey – not me. “Indians. So what’s good about a storm? I’ve got tickets for today’s game, which they’ve just cancelled by the way. Also, the rain always messes with my hair. And I just washed the car.”
 
 
“You don’t have any hair. Why would you worry about it? And you called it a mother of a storm. Mothers are good. Mothers are the best, right?”

 
“Right, dear. But it’s a storm. A mother of a storm is a really nasty storm. I didn’t invent the phrase. I’m just using it. And I still have a couple hairs left. I like them to look nice.”
 
 
 
“Well,” my wife paused, just long enough to draw attention to her insightfulness, “maybe you should start thinking before you speak. You could just as easily have called it a nasty storm, instead of the M word.”

“Aha! You referred to it as an M word. Right there, using just the first letter of a word, that implies it’s something nasty.”

“Stop being such a D. Admit it; a mother of a storm suggests that it’s a nice storm, one that nurtures the earth, makes it happy.”

“Yeah, I’m sure the earth is thrilled, but that’s not the point.” My eyes were trained on my wife, the mother of my children, and, less technically I suppose, the mother of my kitties. Her eyes were still trained on the puzzle. “A mother of a storm is a really bad storm, not a nice storm. I don’t care what you think.”

“Really? So, you’re saying mothers are dreadful and annoying.”

“Absolutely not. Mothers are not dreadful.”

“Just nasty then. And annoying.”

“No, mothers are not nasty, at least not the ones I know. I was only attempting to describe the bad weather that’s rolling in, okay? Mothers are incredible, magic 8MotherswithChildreneven. I am fully aware they should not be lumped together with thunder and lightning. It’s just a phrase, damn it. Why do you have to take everything I say so literally?”

“I’m only trying to point out your mistake. I’ll say it again. You should think before you speak…what is it now?”

“Hang on, I’m thinking.”

“When I’m done with this puzzle I’m going to make some tea. Do you want some, dear?”

“Is it instant?”

“No.”

“So, you’re brewing, is that what you’re saying?”

“You’re so weird. Yes, I’m making it in a pot. Okay, help me finish this: A real doozy. Six letters.”

“I have no idea.”
 

* * *
 
Harry Margulies is the author of The Knowledge Holder and the recently released The Weight of the Moon. When he’s not writing about romance, money, women, and other subjects he thoroughly enjoys but knows nothing about, he’s frittering his precious time as a cartoonist.
 
 
 
Photo Credit: Baseball game courtesy of Jmj1000.

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Filed under Humor, musings

Maybe Tonight (The Pedophile) by Nicole Eva Fraser

maybe tonightIn the fall of 1967, I was in third grade, an eight-year-old towhead with a Dutchboy haircut, a smile jammed with crooked teeth, and family secrets I kept in terror.

Wellesley, Massachusetts was my pastoral playground. Across the road from my house lay the mystical campus of Wellesley College, where Lake Waban was encircled with lonely wooded trails and dotted with wide meadows for running. The campus was also home to the duck pond where my friends and I skated every winter on the bumpy, rutted ice.

My family lived on Cottage Street, which intersected with Washington Street. At the corner of Cottage and Washington lay a thick woods. In those woods, I liked to climb pine trees and play adventure games with my neighborhood friends, or hike by myself listening to the blue jays and the wind in the trees, hoping to spot a deer.

Our house, a dreary three-story Victorian, previously had been inhabited by Miss Pomeroy, an ancient spinster who had died in the very bedroom my parents assigned to me, at the far end of the dark upstairs hall. Although my two older brothers’ assigned bedrooms were on the third floor, up a narrow staircase with a sharp turn at the landing, I knew I wasn’t safe from them, that the distance was just an illusion.

In daylight my room was a haven. Safe behind the closed door, I could read, write letters to my pen pals, and commune with the tall lilac bush just outside the second-floor window by my bed. But in the dark of night, my room was a chamber of panic.

It is no exaggeration that in all my conscious memories of childhood, I never fell asleep without terror. I knew I wasn’t safe from people in my family or from the evil presence lurking in our house that would one night snuff me out. I would lie in bed, my mind and body throbbing with spiraling panic, seemingly for hours—then the next thing I knew, I’d be opening my eyes to another morning.

*

That fall I was in third grade with Miss Mower, whom I liked but who scared me a little. I didn’t know anyone else like her. No one in my family, certainly, resembled Miss Mower, with her loud laugh, bright pink lipstick, frosted and teased hair, and her white Karmann Ghia.

1967 was “The Impossible Dream” season for the Boston Red Sox, and as the aspiring first girl baseball player, I had grown to love and live and breathe for our players—Jim Lonborg and Sparky “Fire Engine” Lyle, Joe Foy and George Scott, Reggie Smith and Rico Petrocelli, Carl “Yaz” Yastrzemski, who won the Triple Crown that year, and “Tony C”—Tony Conigliaro, who got hit in the face with a fastball by Jack Hamilton on August 18th and lost the vision in his left eye, a sickening tragedy I could not bear to talk about.

That September, Miss Mower would wheel one of the Hunnewell School televisions into our classroom, her white stiletto heels click-clacking across the linoleum, so we could watch the Red Sox play afternoon games. Twenty-six of us pushed our desks as close as possible to the TV set, sharing the joys and sorrows of every inning, standing up to stretch at the middle of the seventh. We won the American League pennant but lost the World Series to the Cardinals. And we didn’t know if Tony C was ever coming back.

*

In October, we had Columbus Day off from school. One of my brothers told me to rake leaves with him. As always, I complied with what he wanted from me.

In this case, we filled the rusted wheelbarrow with autumn leaves and rolled the wheelbarrow down Cottage to the woods at the corner of Washington Street. A split-rail fence bordered the woods to keep cars and people away from the edge, where there was a drop to the forest floor. My brother and I dumped the leaves over the fence, then walked back to rake another load. Cottage Street was narrow and lacked a sidewalk, but it was a quiet national holiday, so we weren’t in danger from the few passing cars.

At some point I felt tired, and asked my brother if I could sit on the fence and wait for him while he went home and filled the next wheelbarrow. I watched him wheel away up the road and disappear up our gravel driveway.

After a long time had passed, it occurred to me that my brother wasn’t coming back—maybe he had gone in the house for a snack and started watching television, or maybe one of his friends had come over. Just at the point when I decided to stop waiting on the fence and walk home, I heard a loud car engine and heard tires squealing and I looked toward Washington Street where a big car was turning the corner and coming toward me at high speed.

The car pulled up in front of me fast and close, boxing me in where I sat on the fence with the woods behind me. My mind went blank. I had no idea what was happening, or what to do.

Then the driver, a man, said something. His passenger window was rolled all the way down. He leaned across the seat and smiled at me, but I couldn’t hear what he was saying. He kept talking.

I slid off the fence and stood in the small available patch of dirt and said, “What?” There were no other cars around, no other people. No blue jays cawing from the woods.

“How do I get to Grove Street?” he smiled. “Come here. I can’t hear you.”

He wore a tan hat, not like my father’s hats for the office or church, but like the hats on men I’d seen fishing at Lake Waban. I felt relieved because all he wanted was directions, and getting to Grove Street would be easy.

“Just keep following this road. It will take you to Grove Street. You’ll go over a little bridge over Fuller Brook.”

“How far is it?” he said, still smiling. “Come closer. I can’t hear you.”

I leaned in the passenger window. I thought he had one of his hairy hands in his lap and was making a fist with his thumb sticking up. Then I realized it was his penis, and I saw he wasn’t wearing any pants.

I froze. He said, “Have you ever seen one of these before?”

In fact, I had seen several against my will. “Yes,” I said.

“Whose?” he smiled, leaning closer to me. He had yellow teeth and his eyes bulged. He looked scary with the tan hat pulled down on his head.

“Um,” I said, “Grove Street is that way,” and he grabbed one of my arms and jerked it hard and pulled and kept pulling and it hurt my arm and I could feel his fingers twisting my arm through my jacket and he was trying to pull me into his car through the passenger window and I was thrashing and kicking and trying to get away. Somehow I thought of my brother and the wheelbarrow and I twisted my head around, looking for him—and up the road, too far away to save me, I could see my mother standing at the end of the driveway, just standing there, looking in my direction.

I cried, “My mother doesn’t like me talking to strangers!” and the man pushed me away so hard that I fell backwards into the fence, and a cloud of dirt and pebbles hit me as his car raced away from me and past my mother in the direction of Grove Street.

My mother did not run to me, and I did not run to her. She stood in place waiting as I trudged up Cottage Street toward our driveway. I got closer and saw she looked very angry.

“What did that man want?” she shouted. “What were you doing with him?”

“I don’t know.”

“What do you mean, you don’t know?”

“He wanted directions to Grove Street.”

“Is that all he wanted? Directions to Grove Street?”

“Yes,” I said, toeing the gravel. I went inside and upstairs to my room, the room I shared with dead Miss Pomeroy. I didn’t want to tell my mother what had happened, because I believed it was all my fault, like so many other things were my fault.

I had accepted that people in my own family liked to hurt me, but the child molester was a stranger. I couldn’t understand why he would do what he did. But I did understand that he would have killed me. And I worried he might find me again.

I didn’t expect comfort from my mother, and she didn’t provide any, nor did she mention the incident that night or the next day. I figured she had forgotten about it. And I told no one else what had happened to me; it was too terrifying, and somehow my fault, and I was afraid my friends wouldn’t want to be my friends if they knew.

 *

Walking to school—formerly among my happiest activities—became hellish when I was alone. The deserted back way was quiet but loomed with deadly horrors, and I was sure murderers were hiding everywhere. The town way was busy but not at all safe—streaming as it was with moving cars, any one of which could contain the child molester or someone else like him. If I couldn’t find a friend to walk with, I ran the whole mile to school or home, my sides cramping and blood pounding in my ears.

One afternoon soon after Columbus Day, I ran panting up our gravel driveway after school and was surprised to see my mother standing outside wearing her navy blue church coat and carrying her purse.

“Come with me,” she said. I followed her into our station wagon, still catching my breath.

My mother turned the car onto Washington Street in the direction of town. “We’re going to the police station,” she announced. “They caught the man who tried to get you. I wrote down his license number that day and called the police. You’re going to identify him.”

I felt like the world was going dark, like I was going to vomit, like I was sinking into the darkness and never coming back. “No,” I said, “I don’t want to,” but I didn’t cry because I knew that wouldn’t change her mind.

My mother drove on, past the Wellesley Supermarket and the Wellesley Inn and the jeweler’s and other shops, heading for the police station.

Inside, the Wellesley police station wasn’t bright and friendly like the Mayberry sheriff’s office on Andy Griffith; it was dim and cold. My mother and I were greeted by an officer so enormous he appeared to me to be a giant. He wore a dark blue hat twice as big as his head. A gun in a black holster and a wooden club hung from his belt. He took my mother and me to a window and brought me a stepstool.

“It’s a one-way mirror,” the policeman said. “You can see him, but he can’t see you. Is that the man?”

It was the man, this time without his hat. He had a crew cut like the sergeant on Gomer Pyle. It was him but I was eight and could not believe he couldn’t see me through that window. He was looking right at me with his bulging eyes. Even worse, he was sitting at a big table with a few other policemen and they were all smoking cigarettes and laughing together. The man kept looking up at me through the window.

“I’m not sure,” I said.

“You need to tell us if it’s him,” said the giant policeman. “If it’s him and you don’t tell us, we’ll have to let him go, and he’ll do the same thing to another little girl—maybe worse. Maybe she won’t be able to get away.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the window, the man and the other policemen laughed and smoked and leaned back in their chairs, and the man looked up at me again.

“I’m not sure,” I repeated. “I’m not sure.”

The policeman and my mother got very upset with me for not being sure. My mother cried, which I had never seen her do in public; I was embarrassed for her and felt sick to my stomach; I wished the darkness in my head would swallow me.

The officer kept asking me if I wanted the man to do this to another little girl. He looked furious when we left, his face very red and very high above mine. I turned back and saw him standing on the steps outside the police station, his gigantic hat in his hands. My mother’s crying switched to anger when we got in the car. “After everything I did to catch him!” she yelled.

That night I lay in bed, in my room with dead Miss Pomeroy, cold and nervous under the covers, my thoughts spinning in a terrifying loop:

If I had told the police that yes, it was the man, he would have gone to jail right away, but when he got out of jail, he would have found me and killed me.

But since I told them I wasn’t sure, they had already let the man go, and he was going to find me and kill me as soon as he could.

He knows where I live because he saw my mother. He will climb in my window and hurt me and kill me. Maybe tonight.

As usual, I didn’t call out for my parents to help me; I knew my mother wouldn’t come at all, my father would come too willingly, and my brothers would know I was scared, wait till the house was silent again, and make their moves. Instead I did the smart thing, the self-preserving thing: I lay in the dark like a corpse and panicked till I fell asleep.

 

Click here for a Google Map view of where this happened.
Click here for my YouTube video on the ways Peace Through Fiction helped me write about the trauma.

 Nicole Eva Fraser is the author of The Hardest Thing in This World, released by Second Wind Publishing in October 2013.

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Sandlot — J. Conrad Guest

With the start of the baseball season a couple of weeks away, I thought I’d share this short story I wrote more than five years ago. It appeared in an online e-zine, and from it was born my fourth novel, Backstop: A Baseball Love Story in Nine Innings. It’s interesting, these many years later, to note how the protagonist evolved.

J. Conrad Guest (photo courtesy of Sommerville Photographie)

J. Conrad Guest
(photo courtesy of Sommerville Photographie)

***

 “Hey, Buzz, what happened out there today?”

Eighteen years in the majors and I still don’t like tape recorders pushed into my face after a game, especially not after a loss, and not when I’m heading for the shower with a bar of soap wearing nothing but a towel, and that draped over my shoulder. I’ve gotten used to it I suppose; it goes with the game, but I don’t have to like it.

“I fouled out to end the game,” I said into the recorder. “I stranded the winning runs on base and we lost the game.”

“A few years ago that wouldn’t have happened, right? You’d have brought those two runners home, wouldn’t you?”

He was baiting me I knew, this kid reporter trying to make a name for himself in the local paper, looking for a quote from the colorful veteran. I’ve never considered myself colorful. I’ve always just wanted to play ball. I don’t think of myself as outspoken, but I say what’s on my mind; sometimes, when I’m quoted in the morning paper, they somehow manage to make me sound erudite. Most of the time I find it amusing.

I looked at his press badge, pressed it, and asked him what was supposed to happen. He didn’t get it. I decided against explaining. You could say I was in a foul mood.

“Yeah,” I said, “and last night I hit a three-run shot to extend our lead. So what the game wasn’t on the line in the third inning.”

All the reporter did was stare at me. Somehow he knew I wasn’t yet done. Maybe it was because I’d sat down on the bench. I let out a long audible sigh.

“Look, what do you want from me, a scoop? You want me to tell you I’m washed up, finished? That this is my last year?”

The kid sat down on the bench across from me and I thought back to a similar discussion I’d had with my dad twenty-five years ago, when I was playing ball in high school…

“Look, what do you want from me?” I asked. 

“I want you to come to your senses,” Dad said. “Major league baseball, that’s a pipe dream.” 

Both Dad and Mom wanted what was best for me, and they both thought they knew what best was: they wanted me to play it safe — learn a trade or get a degree and spend the next forty years working nine to five for someone else. I saw that as a sentence, one that would end up with me, at age sixty-five, regretting that I’d never even tried, disgusted with myself that I’d given up my dream, sans the pipe, for what my parents had wanted for me. 

“I’m going to college, and I’ll get a degree” I said, “but I want to play baseball.” 

“But major league baseball —” 

“Is for a lucky few,” I finished for him. We’d had this discussion before. “Well who’s to say I won’t be among those lucky few? Guys get paid millions for hitting a meager .250. A few seeing-eye ground balls and bloop singles here and there over the course of a season spell the difference between mediocrity and superstardom. I’ve got some talent, Dad, and I’m hard-working. I can hit a curve ball, and if I can learn to lay off the high inside fastball I’ll be able to work a count. I’ve a pretty good glove, too. After my playing days are over, maybe I’ll end up managing, or maybe in a booth doing color. If I don’t make it, well, then I’ll have my degree to fall back on.”

I recalled Ty Cobb. His father hadn’t approved of his son’s dream either; but when he realized Ty had his heart set on playing baseball, he told him not to come home a failure. A couple weeks before the Detroit Tigers called Ty to the show, William Cobb was shot dead by his wife, who claimed she thought he was a burglar. Maybe that’s what drove Ty Cobb to become the demon he was on the diamond: that his father never got to see him play.

Dad said nothing to me after I’d made it to the show; he died the year before I was drafted. Maybe that was as much the reason I continued to play well into the twilight of my career.

Baseball is a humbling game. Trust me, I know. I was drafted… well let’s just say I wasn’t taken early. I spent a year in the minors; played solid defense at first base and hit well enough, for average and with above average power, to earn a good look the following year at spring training. I was fortunate that I had a good pre-season, so the team took me north. I worked my ass off to stay in the majors. I might not have Hall of Fame numbers, but I’ve rarely been cheated at the plate; sure I’ve had my share of oh-fers, but I’ve accumulated some three- and four-for-fours along the way, too, and a Gold Glove to boot. I haven’t won a World Series — this might be the year although it’s still only June — and have been voted an All Star only twice, but I’m proud of my career. I’ve played the game the way it was meant to be played, with adolescent joy. I’ve put up numbers good enough to have played my entire career for the same team, a rarity in the modern era, and I’m thankful each and every day I take the field, which isn’t as often as it once was.

Maybe I should’ve gotten out of the game a couple of years ago, but thanks to the designated hitter rule — a rule I despised when I broke into the game and still loathe for the sake of the game (call me a purist) — I’m still playing, at age forty, this kid’s game that I love so much.

I learned long ago not to pay too much attention to what the press writes or says about me, for good or bad, or to listen when the fans boo me. They’re the same ones who’ll cheer me tomorrow. This game, as much mental as it is physical, is filled with ups and downs, and I’m hard enough on myself without trying to please the press or the gate, and I think that has helped my longevity as much as my work ethic.

I didn’t say any of this to the kid reporter who sat looking at me, wide-eyed. I sighed, stood up and took a few steps toward the showers. When I turned back, the kid was still looking at me, still hoping for a story.

Sportswriters, I thought wryly.

I tossed him, underhand, the bar of soap. He reached for it — it glanced off the heel of his hand and landed on the floor, bouncing once. He sat and I stood, each of us looking at the other. After a long uncomfortable moment, for him at least, he picked up the bar of soap and lobbed it back at me. I snatched it out of midair, rolled my eyes, and headed for the showers.

J. Conrad Guest, author of 500 Miles To GoA Retrospect In Death, Backstop: A Baseball Love Story In Nine InningsJanuary’s Thaw, and One Hot January 

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Click to purchase

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Baseball, little league politics, and bad manners by Mairead Walpole

I was going to write about writing, but this week’s experiences at the ball-field watching my children’s games changed that.  This is going to be something of a vent and one that I’m sure any parent of a child in sports can identify with.

One of my sons plays T-ball, the other plays in the kid-pitch division.  Both of them love playing and while not the “star players” for their teams or in the league, they are pretty solid players and steadily working hard to improve.  From September to the first of November and from March to the end of June, my mini-van is full of baseball gear: bats, gloves, balls, catcher’s gear, batting helmets, batting gloves, extra jackets, blankets, water bottles, and camp chairs.  I may not a soccer mom, but I am a proud baseball mom.

I lose all traces of introversion when my kids’ teams make a good play or the kids are at bat, cheering, clapping, and jumping up and down hugging or high fiving other parents.  For the record, I am equally as enthusiastic for my children’s teammates and have even been known to applaud a brilliant play for the other team or, at the T-ball division, if a very young player on the other team actually hits the ball and gets on base.  What I don’t do and will not do is scream at or abuse the umpires, coaches, other players, or other team’s parents.  This past week I have witnessed some horrible behavior on the part of so-called adults – and sadly, it was all in the T-ball division.

A few years back, the league decided not to display the score for the T-ball division in an effort to curb the poor sportsmanship on the part of parents.  My oldest started T-ball when they still displayed the scores and went up to the next division after they changed the policy.  I can attest that it did help curb the outbursts and shifted the focus of the games on creating a love of the sport in the T-ball players.  This is not to say that it’s a “there are no losers and everyone wins” scenario; after the game the kids are told who won or lost and we do have playoffs with one team winning the playoffs for the division and the size of the trophy awarded is determined by where that team finished.  I think it is important for kids to understand that they can’t always win and that there is honor in losing especially if you have given it your best and played the game according to the rules.

On Thursday night, we had an umpire who was making bad calls for the first couple of innings.  Now, the other team’s parents were perfectly content when the bad calls were directed at our team.  Our coaches were screamed at for talking with the ump about the calls and they taunted our parents if we seemed upset or confused by one of the bad calls.  The players on this team ignored rules, used excessive force in tagging players out – hitting a runner with the ball in the chest hard enough to knock him down, tripping or shoving runners, and my personal favorite – three of their kids standing on the bag so that our runner couldn’t get on the bag and pushing him away if he tried while they waited for their team mates to get the ball and tag our player out.  If anyone, especially our coaches tried to dispute this behavior we had profanity screamed at us.  If the ump did as he was supposed to and made the proper call – then they screamed at him.  This team’s parents even cheered when our “pitcher” was taken out of the game because their batter hit the ball straight at the kids face.  They were also upset because the ump called time and sent their player back to first – he had been heading for third even though time had been called.  Luckily, it was T-ball so the kid just suffered a split lip.  Yes, he and our first baseman are a good team and effective at getting outs, but cheering because a child was injured?  Really?

After the game, as we were walking to the car, we passed a parent from the other team berating their child for bad plays and strongly implying that the kid was why the team lost.  The look on that child’s face just tugged at my heart.  The kid was around 6 at the oldest and yes, he had missed a few catches that would have made the difference between a run and an out, but it is only one ball game out of hundreds this kid may play in the course of his life.

I know from my kids that they are all too aware if they make a bad play or even if they think they made a bad play.  No one has to say a word to them about it.  I’ve listened to play by plays all the way home of how “if only…” and I’ve comforted both of them after a game as they have relived dropping a ball or missing a catch or striking out when the bases were loaded and they were the last out.  I won’t lie to them and say they are wrong to feel that way or that they are mistaken that the play or the out may have been what turned the game, but I don’t give them a hard time about it or let them wallow in it.  I’m very matter of fact about it and we talk about what they can do to change the outcome the next time.  It may sound trite, but my kids are being taught that win or lose, it’s how you play the game that is the most important part, and while you go into something intending to win, the reality is that you are going to win some and lose some, so they must learn to lose and win with graciousness and honor.

In talking with other parents in some of the other leagues around town, I find that this is not uncommon and crosses socio-economic lines.  Just because our league pulls from a mix of low income to upper middle class families, doesn’t seem to have any bearing on the parental behavior.  I have friends whose children play in a league that is predominantly upper middle class to wealthy and they report similar occurrences, although the politics seem to be a bit more extreme.

What are we saying to our children when they witness their parents behaving without any honor or respect towards one another?  When children see parents cheering because another child is hurt on the field, what does it tell them in a society that is trying to fight an epidemic of bullying in our schools?  When parents condone poor sportsmanship and winning at any cost – what message do the children take away in terms of self-esteem or recognizing the rules and authority that a civilized society must operate under in order to succeed?

Mairead Walpole is the pen name for a somewhat introverted project and contract manager who has 20+ years of business and technical writing under her belt. In her spare time, Mairead writes paranormal romance among other genres. Her first novel, “A Love Out of Time” is available through Second Wind Publishing (www.secondwindpublishing.com) or Amazon.com.

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Help Us Celebrate Three New Releases!

Three new romances have recently been released by Second Wind Publishing, and we are celebrating!

Is baseball your game? Then be sure to check out J. Conrad Guest’s contest. To win a signed copy of Backstop, submit a personal account, between 200 and 400 words, of your most memorable baseball date. It could be disastrous; it might have led to marriage. It can be fictional or factual (fact is sometimes stranger than fiction!). The outcome of the game is unimportant; what is important is what happens between the couple. For further information, click here: Backstop Contest

To read the first chapter of this novel by J. Conrad Guest, click here: Backstop

Is Regency your era? Then be sure to check out Jerrica Knight-Catania’s regency quiz. Just how much do you know about the era? One person, chosen from all those who answered correctly, will win a signed copy of A Gentleman Never Tells. Click here to find the questions: Regency quiz

To read the first chapter of this novel by Jerrica Knight-Catania, click here: A Gentleman Never Tells

Is stormy romance your pleasure? Then check out Sherrie Hansen’s quiz, and you might win a book about Stormy Weather. Click here to find the questions: Stormy Weather

 To read the first chapter of this novel by Sherri Hansen, click here: Stormy Weather

And there’s more! Click on the cover of any book and you will win an instant surprise.

And there’s still more! Be sure to come back tomorrow and perhaps you will win a free ebook of whichever romance you choose.

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Texting your love life away

You don’t think so? Come with me to the ballpark.

The pitcher finishes warming up and the crowd settles down to watch the game. I’ve got a good sight line to home plate because the couple  seated just in front of me aren’t too tall. I feel happy because I won’t have to crane my neck or contort my body for nine innings, but my mood sinks when I get a whiff of the perfume the woman’s wearing.  I hope I brought enough kleenex. The woman is sporting a silky, low cut, sleeveless top which is inappropriate for the 58 degree weather. She’s young and has smooth skin to flaunt; at her age she doesn’t have those flappy tricep wings to worry over. She cradles a cell phone in one hand and uses the other to stroke back her shoulder length hair, flashing rings on four fingers–the kind of ring you see in the bargain section of a jewelry store. I have no idea where she bought her perfume, but someone should shut that place down.

One thing is a constant these days at baseball games. A good percentage of fans only watch the game part-time because they’re enraptured with their  BlackBerry/camera/DVD/gameboy/GPS/iPod devices. Why go to a game if you’re not going to watch it? Of course, these types don’t jump up and spill beer on me after an exciting play, so that’s a plus.

The couple in front of me sure won’t be jumping up or cheering at anything. The man has done nothing but stare with unbridled lust at his female companion, but alas, she’s wholly fixated on her phone, and doesn’t seem to notice. Now he makes his first move, edging one shoulder as close to her as he can. Doesn’t the perfume choke him? Guess not. A slight breeze informs me that he smells like ten packs of cigarettes so maybe he’s immune.

Inning over. Now he’s got his arm resting on the back of her seat, fingers creeping toward her bare neck. I can’t ignore this because his elbow is now jutting back into my legroom. The poor guy’s efforts are futile. If his date feels his exploring fingers, she gives no sign. She divides her attention between five-second glances at home plate and a longer interval where she checks the screen of her phone. Waiting for a return message, I bet! From another admirer?

Several innings pass. The guy’s bought his date a slice of pizza, three beers, ice cream, and a bobblehead of the team’s most famous player. In spite of the fact I’ve been watching the game, I know all this because the man has to stand up to take out his wallet to pay the roving vendors, which blocks my view of the playing field. On his latest trip to the bathroom, he came back with a sweatshirt for the woman because she was shivering. Now he’s back on his real quest with one arm wrapped around the woman and his nose almost in her ear. I’m glad I haven’t eaten or I might lose it. As it is, I’m trying to keep my husband from going into hysterics over this latest development.

8th inning now, the score is tied and two players are in scoring position! The woman stands up. Oh no, not now, I can’t see! She flips her phone closed and looks at the aisle. Even in profile I can tell she’s got a smug look on her face. Her new sweatshirt slides off her shoulders and falls to the seat, unheeded. Her date looks up in surprise as she picks up her purse and motions to the people sitting next to them that she wants to leave. The guy can do nothing but follow her. As he passes her seat, he grabs up the sweatshirt, deliberately drops it on to the concrete and treads right over it. The whole aisle stands up to let them pass. Somehow, I think that this date is their last.

Mickey Hoffman is the author of School of Lies, a mystery novel published by Second Wind Publishing.

These two aren’t in my novel but stay tuned and soon you’ll find out more about the chosen…

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When Is It Real?

             I have been writing several years now.  I remember finishing my first novel during the 1998 Homerun race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire, pausing only long enough in my story when either of them came up to bat.  It is crazy how certain memories stick in your brain, like finally typing “the end” before the record was broken.

             It has been ten years since I finished that first book, which is collecting dust somewhere on a shelf and stored in the dark recesses of my hard drive.  But, just because that season ended and my story was complete, I did not stop writing, nor did baseball come to an end.  I used to wonder if the Cubs would make it to the World Series before I was published.  I now have my answer. It was close, but I will not dwell on the disappointing end to this baseball season.

 But I digress.  Since finishing the first novel I have been driven by a need, no a passion, to create stories, with only a few nibbles along the way from agents and editors.

             All authors dream of the day of publication, but when does it become real?

             1-            When an agent says yes?

            2-            When a publisher says yes?

            3-            When you sign that contract?

            4-            When they ask for your bio and picture?

            5-            When you see your book cover for this first time?

            6-            When you hold a copy of your book in your own two hands?

            7-            When you search Amazon and your book pops up?

            8-            When someone asks you to sign their copy?

            9-            When you read your first review?

             I don’t know the answer.  I am still getting used to Second Wind Publishing saying they want to publish Loving Lydia.  Yes, it is real, but also surreal given after ten years of waiting, it is hard to believe that yes, it has finally happened.  Unfortunately, I am still waiting on the Cubs.

Amy De Trempe is the author of Loving Lydia, coming soon from Second Wind

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