Posted in Baseball

Longing For Little League Madness

You basketball fans think you have a lock on Madness in March? Try being a Little League parent. With two kids and two teams with practice or games on two different fields, life got pretty crazy. Throw in typical Spring weather, and the question of game or no game tonight? For eleven seasons, we spent from late February to mid-June schlepping our boys to baseball. Some weeks we had a practice or game every single day.

stencil.facebook-post.llbaseball

Until it stopped.

The kids grew up. Went on to high school and other sports.

No more mad dash to get the uniform clean. “Where’s my other sock? My hat? My cup?” No more scrambling to get from one game to the other on the other side of the county.

No more snack bar sign ups. Or dinner at the ballpark.

No more sunflower seeds in the laundry.

No more heart in throat when my son pitched. Or soaring above the ballpark when he got that hit. Scored that run. Won the game.

No more warm summer nights at Rotary Park, under the lights. No more freezing cold nights at that same park hoping the weather holds off one more inning.

No more picture day. No more double headers. Or post-game snacks.

I walked into Big 5, the sporting goods store where I bought numerous cleats, gloves, socks and belts. The baseball equipment was displayed up front and my heart did a funny little lurch as I walked right past it to look at shoes for myself.

Yeah. I miss it. Even the craziness of living in the car with the bat bags rolling around in the back. The cups under the seats, and no, not the ones that hold soda or sunflower seed shells. Those cups. The ones they would take out the minute they got into the car.

We spent some of the best springs and early summers as a family at the ballpark. Hopefully my boys will carry on the tradition when they have kids of their own. And you can bet their grandma will be at as many games as she can.

Posted in Baseball, Writing

Baseball Is Back!

I’m listening to baseball on the radio. It doesn’t matter that it’s only a Spring Training game. It doesn’t matter that by the end of the game, I won’t recognize many player names. It doesn’t even matter who wins or loses. Sure, I hope my team wins, so I can feel really good about their chances this year. But if not, it’s only Spring Training. It’s only the second game. There’s still a lot of baseball left.

There’s a lot of baseball left in the season. As in all of it. Excitement, struggle, romance. And there may even be a few tears along the way. No offense to Tom Hanks, but there is crying in baseball. And chills. And thrills. And disappointment. And hope. Always hope.

stencil-blog-post-image

Kind of like in a Romance novel. Each book starts out with the hope of a happily ever after. And for the author, hope for a bestseller. Oh, there will be struggles along the way. Can’t make it too easy for the characters, and it’s never easy for the author, despite what you see in the movies. There is no such thing as an overnight success. Just hard work, perseverance,  practice, coaching, mentoring, and a little bit of luck.

But like baseball, writing is something I can’t imagine living without.

Posted in Baseball, Books, Romance

Free Baseball (Books)

Great News!

Pitchers and catchers have reported to Spring Training. Teams are gearing up for a new season. Baseball is coming. And BETTER THAN PERFECT, the first book in the More Than A Game series is now being offered for FREE! It’s like extra innings for your eReader.

Get ready to fall in love with Johnny Scottsdale and his Goliaths teammates. They’re willing to give it their all on the diamond and in love.

stencil-facebook-postbtp

Johnny “The Monk” Scottsdale has won it all on the baseball diamond. He’s even pitched a perfect game. Known for his legendary control both on and off the field, his pristine public image makes him the ideal person to work with young players in a preseason minicamp. Except the camp is run by the one woman he can’t forget…the woman who made him a “monk.”

Alice Harrison once traded her dreams so that Johnny Scottsdale could make it to the Majors—and then everything fell apart. Now here comes Johnny back into her life, just when she’s ready to finally step up to bat. This time she’s not letting up, even if she has to reveal what she’s kept secret for too long from her son and Johnny. She can’t be sure how things will turn out, but she’s not leaving until she swings for the fences…

Available at the following retailers:

Amazon

Apple

Google

Kobo

Nook

 

Posted in Education, Uncategorized

Making A Difference, Part 2

This morning I wrote a short post about how I need to see the little things I do on a daily basis can make a difference for the kids I work with. It was sort of a pep talk to get me in the right frame of mind to face the day and the challenges ahead.

stencil-blog-post-imagescrabble

By this afternoon, I had tears in my eyes. But they were the good kind. Because a group of fifth graders inspired me and made me so proud to be a part of their education.

I started working with most of these kids in Kindergarten. There were a lot of them, four classes with about five or six more students than when my kids were that age. There were enough volunteers to provide some support, but not enough to give them the best start in school. So the district hired three aides, or paraeducators, to rotate through the classes and give each student that extra attention they needed.

That was the year I went from being a parent volunteer to paid staff. Over the years, I’ve added hours and changed roles based on the needs of the students.

But back to the kids. These are the kids I’ve worked with all six years. I helped many of them go from not being able to write their name or open their milk carton to reading multi-syllabic words and being able to open their Gogurt without getting it in their hair. We went from making ABC books to researching on their Chromebooks. We learned about seasons and the solar system, geology and the Gold Rush, farm animals and fractions.

Today the my fifth graders held a Living Wax Museum. After weeks of research and preparation, they arranged themselves around the classroom, dressed as famous people throughout history as students, school staff, parents, and a pair of police officers from our community came through the exhibit. Each character stood still until someone pushed a button on their poster and they would then give three to five facts about their famous person.

It was amazing. I learned about Edison and Elvis. Jackie Robinson and Jackie Kennedy. Steven Spielberg, Stan Lee, and Sally Ride. Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, and Houdini. Anne Frank and Annie Oakley. Malala Yousafzai and Marie Curie. Walt Disney and Willie Mays. Babe Ruth and Derek Jeter. J.K. Rowling, Roald Dahl, and Dr. Suess. Princess Diana and President Kennedy. Bob Marley and Ben Franklin. Laura Ingalls Wilder and  Leonardo Da Vinci. Deborah Sampson and a few more I can’t recall because by the time I got to all of them, I had a few goosebumps.

These kids stayed in character (for the most part) in position (really hard, especially after being cooped up for rainy days on end) and replayed their message to at least four classes.

And every single one of them did an outstanding job. Even if they forgot their lines, they kept going, improvising with other facts they’d learned about their character. They stood or sat in place while other classes made their way around the room, sometimes skipping over a person they didn’t know about, or coming back and pressing their buttons only seconds after they just finished speaking.

Did I mention how amazing they were? How they inspired all of the adults in the room? How they made us sigh, and cry a little at how lucky we are to work in public education?

Posted in Education

Making A Difference

stencil-blog-post-image-kidonswing

Yesterday was a rough day. You see, I work in public education. In fact I have worked in some aspect of public education for more than twenty years. I have been a student, a teacher, a parent, a volunteer. I have served on Site Council, District Budget Committee, Parent Club. I now work as a Paraeducator. My job entails working with some of the neediest kids. And they’ve been stuck inside with this endless rain. They need their recess.

They need a lot of things. Things that people who don’t work closely with them have no idea.

But I do work closely with them. And I can help them become more confident readers. I can help them learn about irregular vowel patterns, and spelling by syllables. I can help them with their math, learning their ABCs. I can help them understand key details and the main idea. I can help them tie a shoe, get their lunch, open an umbrella. I can applaud their biography report, their part in the Aesop’s Fable performance. I can offer them a smile, a hug, a high five.

I help them live our school norms of Be Kind, Be Safe, Be Your Best. I will remind them to walk. To return their focus on the lesson not the fact that it is raining. Again. I will encourage, support, redirect, and remind myself why I’m there.

For the kids. For the love of learning. Because I can make a difference, even if it’s a small one in the broad scheme of things. I have to remember that for each one of those kids, their school is their world. Not their whole world, but a big part of it. And when they see me at the store, their eyes light up, and they smile and they tug on their parent’s hand and say, “She’s from my school.”

 

 

Posted in Baseball, Books, Romance, Uncategorized

Love and Baseball and Romance

It’s February, and that means a very special day is coming up this month. On February 14, Pitchers and Catchers report to Spring Training.

stencil-blog-post-image

Oh, and I’m told it’s also Valentine’s Day. Which is the perfect time to share a Romance with your sweetie.

Come on, Ladies. How many times have you wished your man has acted more like the heroes of your favorite Romance novels?

And how many times have you Men wished there was some kind of manual to help you understand women?

Guess what. There is hope. Which is at the heart of the Romance novel. And in my More Than A Game series, there is also baseball.

I’ll admit, that I’m especially romantic about baseball. One of the first movies my husband took me to way back when we were dating was Field of Dreams. And for my bachelorette party, I watched Bull Durham with my bridesmaids. Our Anniversaries often involve baseball games. Oh, and a few years ago, my ultra romantic husband bought me Javier Lopez’s batting helmet at the game used store at San Francisco Giants Fan Fest.

And I have a bit of a romantic side myself. I did name the hero of my first book, Johnny Scottsdale, after my husband. Well, the name his cousin used to call him when they were kids to tease him. Cousin Mike told my sweet honey that he wasn’t really a Mathews, his real name was Johnny Scottsdale, and he was left on the doorstep. But I got the last laugh.

So, if you’re looking for a Romance that you can share with your sweetie, I have had several men tell me they enjoyed Better Than Perfect. And it happens to be on sale this month for only 99 cents. Plus, the eBook means they don’t have to worry about their friends seeing the cover.

Portrait of baseball player with bare chest holding bat

The other books in my More Than A Game series are good too. And they just might inspire a game of catch, or whatever.

Cover Worth The Trade Making A Comeback cover Portrait of baseball player with bare chest holding bat

Hope you enjoy celebrating Pitchers and Catchers report to Spring Training day. It’s the most romantic day of the year. (Unless you’re married to a pitcher or catcher. Then the rest of us thank you for your sacrifice).

Posted in Writing

Fiction Based on True Events

Every story comes from somewhere. No writer wakes up on a Tuesday and thinks “It’s time to write my next book. I’ll just roll my character dice and spin the plot wheel, then sit down at my laptop and boom! Bestseller.

stencil-blog-post-image

Nope, not gonna happen that way. Something sparks an idea. The idea turns into a story kernel. Then the hard work begins. The development of goals, motivation, and conflict. Coming up with the big black moment, and the smaller setbacks along the way. Figuring out how this happily ever after is right for these characters.

It’s always a little awkward when friends have read my books. Recently someone started reading Swept Away, which was sparked by a real-life event. My husband and his brother went fishing a few years ago and they pulled someone out of the river who had been swept into the rushing water. The rest of the story is completely made up, but people still ask if my husband is “Carson or Cody?”

In all honestly, there’s a lot of my husband in all my heroes. But also a lot of me. And who I wish we could be.

When Hunter Pence was traded to the San Francisco Giants, I got the idea for Worth The Trade. And while I adore his enthusiasm and charisma, the character of Marco Santiago is a figment of my imagination. Besides, Hunter found his own romance heroine and I wish him and Lexi a lifetime of love.

A photo of pitcher Barry Zito caught my eye. He was standing against a backstop with his guitar leaning against the chain-link fence. I knew I had to write a guitar-playing pitcher for Making A Comeback. But Nathan Cooper made a mistake. A big one that could have cost him his career. I needed my character to have taken steroids, despite the fact that the player who inspired him didn’t.

And while I might have had shortstop Brandon Crawford in mind when I first introduced Bryce Baxter, his character didn’t marry his college sweetheart and have three of the cutest kids in the National League like the real player. And by the time I wrote Earning A Ring, Bryce had become his own person.

I’m working on a book featuring a female ballpark announcer. I’ll research Renel Brooks-Moon, but her story is her own, and I’ll only use pieces of her experiences to create my character. And I’ll toss in some backstory inspired by a firefighter I saw sleeping in the laundry room of a La Quinta Inn where I stayed on vacation with my family. None of what happens in the book happened in real life.

I also want to write a small town series, set in a town similar to McCloud, California. But I will make up the town, the people, and the conflicts. The mountain is real, as well as the beauty, but I may need businesses that don’t exist. I’ll need to stretch the truth to tell the story. But I let you know up front that it’s fiction. I may create a hotel or restaurant that looks like one I’ve been to in real life, but what I really want is for the reader to picture one they’ve been to. Maybe it’s been a while, or maybe it’s their own weekly hangout.

The same thing goes for names. I work at a school and it’s impossible for me to use names that aren’t shared by students, staff, or families.

Of course, as a romance writer, I will occasionally get the wink, wink, nudge, nudge “So the love scenes?” Yes they are based on real life experiences, and other books I’ve read, and movies, and fantasies, and pure imagination. If the reader is trying to figure out which part is which, then I didn’t do a very good job with those scenes.