Tag Archives: baseball

Inspired to Give A Book Away

Baseball season is once again in full swing. On Monday, Middle Son played against the team whose coach inspired my short story in The Fall: Tales from the Apocalypse.

The coach was just as obnoxious and demeaning as he was a year ago. He barked at the kids and undercut their self-esteem. Nobody could run fast enough, catch well enough or play good enough for him. The only thing he taught his players was poor sportsmanship.

I guess you can’t teach an old curmudgeon new manners. Nor can you change the emotional frenzy that surrounds little league games.

But, what happens when the outcome actually matters?  What happens when the fate of the world rests on the score of a single game?

You can find out by reading Little League in The Fall. While perusing this anthology, you’ll be surprised by the multitude of ways in which humanity lies on the brink of extinction. And with luck, you’ll discover some cool new authors with full-length novels coming to a bookstore near you.

To win your free copy of The Fall: Tales from the Apocalypse,

  1. leave a comment on this post so I know you’re interested,
  2. email me a request (pretty simple for the socially shy),
  3. or share the give-away on any social media you like to engage in. Just send me an email with the information on where you posted it. Use #FreeFall on twitter so I can find your mention.

Better yet, if you have already read either Spring Fevers or The Fall, you can enter to win a free copy of BOTH summer anthologies from Elephant’s Bookshelf Press. Summer’s Edge and Summer’s Double Edge are slated for release in June.

All you have to do is write an honest review of either anthology–or any of the short stories within them–and send me an email link to your review. Every review is a potential winner regardless of commentary. I want to know what moves you as a reader.

*the deadline for all comments/shares/emails is May 30th*

  • Contestants must possess a US address for ease of delivery.
  • Winners will be picked via a random drawing.
  • Winners will be contacted via email–thus making it uber important to leave your email address where I can find it  (such as in an email to catwoods.writer@gmail.com). I promise your email will not be used for anything other than congratulatory purposes. Pinky swear.

Looking for other great giveaways?

I have yet to find a reliable Sci-Fi/Fantasy blog/site that has a good collection of giveaways. If anyone knows of one, please let me know and I will add it.

In fact, let me know all your go-to spots for your favorite giveaways.  

Curious minds want to know!

A to Z: Baseball

This morning Middle Son pulled a crumpled note from his backpack and nonchalantly handed it over. “Here, mom, I got this a couple of days ago.”

This, of course, being the all-important sign up sheet for the summer baseball meeting. Which is, of course, tonight–when both Dear Hubby and I are out of town.

My little boys LOVE baseball. They live it. We live it every weekend between mid-May and mid-August and every week day for practice or games. It literally consumes our family.

Writing, of course, is exactly like baseball.

It’s all-consuming and takes a whole team.

I’ve been working with a few publishing houses over the course of the last few months and it is very clear to me that without every single player having their head and heart in the game, my novels will not make it to the playoffs. They will not become League Champions. Instead, they will sit in the dug out, spitting seeds into the dirt and wondering what they heck happened to their potential.

So, who makes up Team Novel?

  • Coaches- Our critique partners and sounding boards play an integral part in keeping us motivated and on the right track. They can give us the right cues on when to round a base and when to slide.
  • Umps- The editorial department makes the calls. They watch for strikes and balls and make the call on home plate. Without umps, our novels would be riddled with errors–some simple like typos and others glaring like MC’s eating three dinners in a row and never going to sleep.
  • Outfielders- These guys and gals see the big picture. Other than the batter, they are the only ones who have their eyes on the whole field. Graphic designers work hand in hand with marketing to create eye-catching covers that will pull together the most important aspects of a novel for our readers to drool over.
  • The Basemen- These dudes are the brains behind the game. They are like mini chess players calculating the opponents’ next moves and planning out their strategies three plays into the future. Our marketing departments are some of the most important players on the field. As are our street teams. Don’t ignore their power.
  • The Pitcher and the Catcher- This team of two needs to be rock-solid and is the core for which all other activity hinges on. The writer and the agent/editor. Without great writing (pitcher), the editor has nothing to catch and nothing to throw. And yet, the editor reads the batter and gives directives to the pitcher. It’s all give and take between them. Sometimes the pitcher and catcher are one in the same, such as when an author self-pubs. But never fear, the dichotomy is still there, as each of these positions require very different skills from the other. The self-pubber just has to work harder to accomplish what others do with two or more.
  • The Manager- The all-important spouse, significant other, parent, child, co-worker, friend or nanna who has your back. We all have that one person who believes in us more than we believe in ourselves. Without them, we couldn’t manage to write.

Yet baseball is more than one team. It’s the audience we sit next to. It’s the concession stand workers providing us with ball park hot dogs and water to slake our thirst. It’s the opposing team and the grueling game played with them in the heat of summer.

Baseball is an experience, not a single event.

Writing is no different.

So today, reach out to your Team Novel–no matter what stage you are in your writing journey–and thank them for their support. Let them know you appreciate their efforts. And don’t be afraid to show your good sportsmanship. Congratulate someone on another team for their hard-earned win.

B is for baseball!

 

What base is your novel on?

As many of you know, Middle Son loves baseball.  The first half of the season was a series of whiffs and misses at the plate.  Sometimes he’d simply watch the ball go by and not swing at all.  Enter the glasses a few weeks ago, and he’s been getting better. 

I think it took him a little time to get acclimated to his new specks and relearn his depth perception.  After all, his eyes had lied to him before and he had to adjust to the land of the seeing.  Over the course of the second half, he’s gotten increasingly more skilled at timing the pitches.

Last night he was up three times in the batting order.  He had two beautiful hits and struck out once.  His second hit sailed through the gap between shortstop and third base and had to be chased down in left field.  By the time he slid into second base, three of his teammates had made it home, tying the game. 

Oh, how a grand slam would have been awesome.  Ultimately, it would have won the game if he could have smashed one to the fence.  Yet, Middle Son is teeny for his age and he’s been relearning to use his eyes.  His hit was a victory in and of itself.

Writing is like that. 

Not every novel has to be a grand slam.  Sometimes we write simply to learn.  We practice our mechanics and experiment with our voice and style.  We learn the nuances of the business and apply this knowledge to our writing.  Along the way, we see the results and position ourselves for a run. 

CAT’S GUIDE TO LOADING THE BASES

  • Strike Out: those first 2,000 words that don’t go anywhere.  They are mere character sketches or inciting incidences written on the spur of the moment in response to events in our own lives.  While this feels like a miss, writing these snippets are essential to learning the craft.  They are practice for future projects.  And without practice, we would never learn to hit.  With luck, these characters or events work their way into other novels. 
  • First Base: finishing a novel.  It’s easy to start a story.  It’s not easy to reach the end of one.  And while finally getting a hit feels like a victory, it’s just the beginning.  Not all books that make it to first base cross home plate.  In fact, many do not.  Instead, they end up back in the dugout, cheering the next batter on.  Hitting a single in writing will always advance a runner (our writing skills) and is well worth our time.
  • Second Base: editing said finished novel.  This is a process often over-looked by beginning writers.  Edits may be rudimentary.  Nothing more than typo checks.  Yet getting a novel polished is much more than that.  It takes time and skill and a whole lot of patience.  Practice.  Practice.  Practice.  Sometimes we stand on second base forever before getting the guts to steal third.  Other times, our beloved manuscripts fall victim to a third out and we find ourselves back in the dugout awaiting our next time at bat. 
  • Third Base: querying/subbing.  I’m not talking about writing the query letter here.  I’m talking about sending it off.  Third base puts us in position to score a run.  It’s the one place in our journey that hurts the most.  We hover on third–debating whether our manuscript is ready–with home plate taunting us from mere yards away.  We can taste victory, but it’s not quite within our reach.  We’ve declared ourselves writers and put ourselves out there for others to accept or reject.  Once we get this far, we are largely at the mercy of agents, editors and the industry trends as a whole.  It is at this stage in the game that we often learn the maturity and grace of being a professional writer. 
  • Home Plate: securing a publishing contract.  We’ve put in the time and run the bases.  Whether we got there with one pitch or a painful series of them, we finally slide into home and earn our place in the writing world.  Someone, somewhere loved our writing enough to take a chance on it.  We have tangible evidence of our hard work.  Yet our work is not done.  We still have to practice.  We still have to edit and write and write and edit.  We market and socialize and learn, all while waiting to win the game.
  • Grand Slam: published novel in hand.  There is no need to expound on this.  However, I feel compelled to remind myself that hitting a grand slam does not mean the game is over. At some point, authors will once again face the pitching mound with a new novel. 

I’m not afraid to step up to the plate.  Strike outs don’t scare me.  Standing forever on third base does.  And the only way I can control that is to just keep swinging.

How about you?  Where are you standing at this moment in time?  Are you just starting  out and hoping for a single, or do you have your eye on home plate?  How many manuscripts has it taken for you to get this far?

 

Three Strikes: writing outs

I’ve been watching a lot of baseball lately (7 games, 6 practices, 6 days) and have seen a lot of calls.  Some good, some bad.  Some umps are decisive, while others make wishy-washy calls.

Inevitably some parents/coaches feels slighted, going as far as screaming at the umps.

We teach our kids by example.  When our batters strikes out on a questionable call, we have the ability to shape their attitudes–for the game and for life.

“Bad call.”

“Shouldn’t have lost that game.”

“It’s the ump’s fault.”

“Come on, Ump.  Do you need new glasses?!?!?”

“Shake it off, you’ll get it next time.”

“A call is a call.”

“The next one’s yours, try again!”

As parents, our behavior sets our batters on a path of acceptance and hard work or on a journey of blame and frustration. 

Writers, we are no different.  Publishing is a very subjective business, one where many factors come into play well beyond a writer’s talent.  Agent/editor likes and dislikes, marketing, similar books repped/pubbed, competition, etc…

When receiving a rejection after a “perfect fit” query, we often wonder why the agent/editor made such a bad call.  We may have the tendency to shout, “Come on, do you need new glasses?”  We might shoot off a you’ll-be-sorry email.

But is all that really necessary?  Sometimes umps and agents make bad calls.  Sometimes they make the right call, but we’re too close to our work and feelings to realize we struck out for a reason.  For good reason.

I personally think the writing journey is tough.  It takes practice.  It takes more than a handful of swings and misses before we hit a home run.  But in the end, our perseverance is what counts, even in the case of a bad call.  Or especially because of one. 

And that, my friends, is all about attitude.

Wasting energy being angry at the umpire does nothing but waste valuable time.  Blaming someone else for a bad call makes us less than desirable clients and inhibits our creativity. 

Shake it off.  Practice–six times in six days–and go down swinging. 

What works for you in shaking off a bad call?  Chocolate, a walk in the park or a never-to-be-sent letter of frustration?  Share your experiences and positive attitude with your fellow scribes.

Happy Fourth of July.  I have a beach chair with my name on it, family to hang with and good food to consume.  See you on the 6th!

Bad Innings vs Great Beginnings

Middle Son had baseball tourneys all weekend.  At ten, it’s his first year on the traveling league.  His team held its own, winning two of four games.

However, one game…yeah, that one…

After the first inning, the score was 12 – 0.  And we weren’t ahead.  We had some bad pitching and more than a handful of errors. 

Parents were crabby.  The kids were dejected and the coaches not thrilled.  Sports are as much a head game as they are a physical competition.  Psychologically we had already lost.

You won’t be surprised to learn that writing is exactly the same way.

A bad beginning leaves a bad taste in the mouth of our readers.  It can send them packing up their lawn chairs and sunflower seeds, already convinced there is nothing left to hold their interest. 

All too often, I’ve heard writers ask if they could send a random chapter for a submission.  Uhm, no.  Not unless you’re writing a nonfic.

Readers–of which agents and editors are–want to start with the scoreboard at 0-0.   If chapter one is not your strongest chapter, it shouldn’t set the tone of your entire novel.  You need a new beginning.  One that hits a homerun and keeps the crowd excited. 

Our little guys made quite the comeback in this game.  They didn’t win, but they made some great plays, hit some sticks and cut down on their error rate.  The next four innings were a blast to watch and not at all expected after the first bad inning.

But unlike spectators at a Little League game, agents and editors don’t have to stick around to see if you find our groove.  If we don’t throw a strike in the first inning, they’ll call us out and move on to the next promising team.

How important is your first page?  Your first paragraph?  First sentence?  Have you ever put a book back on the shelf when the first inning promised to be a wash? 

Curious minds want to know.