Spotlight: Keeping Score by Jami Deise (excerpt, guest post)

KeepingScore_JamiDeiseKeeping Score
written by Jami Deise
published by Jami Deise

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About the book: When her son Sam asks to try out for a travel baseball team, divorced mom Shannon Stevens thinks it’ll be a fun and active way to spend the summer. Boy, is she wrong! From the very first practice, Shannon and Sam get sucked into a mad world of rigged try-outs, professional coaches, and personal hitting instructors. But it’s the crazy, competitive parents who really make Shannon’s life miserable. Their sons are all the second coming of Babe Ruth, and Sam isn’t fit to fetch their foul balls. Even worse, Shannon’s best friend Jennifer catches the baseball fever. She schemes behind the scenes to get her son Matthew on the town’s best baseball team, the Saints. As for Sam? Sorry, there’s no room for him! Sam winds up on the worst team in town, and every week they find new and humiliating ways to lose to the Saints.

And the action off the field is just as hot. Shannon finds herself falling for the Saints’ coach, Kevin. But how can she date a man who didn’t think her son was good enough for his team … especially when the whole baseball world is gossiping about them? Even Shannon’s ex-husband David gets pulled into the mess when a randy baseball mom goes after him. As Sam works to make friends, win games and become a better baseball player, Shannon struggles not to become one of those crazy baseball parents herself.  In this world, it’s not about whether you win, lose, or how you play the game… it’s all about KEEPING SCORE.efcexcerpt

In the spirit of the guest post, here’s an excerpt on how Sam handles losing his first travel baseball game… and what Shannon does about it…

“You did fine,” Ron reassured Sam. “You struck out two, picked off a guy at first base, and no one got a hit off of you.”

“Did you see all the stuff that happened in between?” Sam asked.

“Everyone walks people,” Ron argued. “Everyone balks. Everyone hits batters. That doesn’t matter. What kind of pitcher you are when you’re at your best, that’s what matters. And none of the Saints kids could get a hit off you.”

Since Sam had hit two and walked two, four Saints hitters didn’t get a chance to try. But there was no point in bringing that up.

When we got back to the parking lot, Kevin was waiting by my car. He looked at me, then to Ron, then back to me again.

“Just wanted to tell Sam he did okay out there,” Kevin said gruffly. “Not too bad for his first time. Got thrown to the wolves and did okay.”

“Thanks,” Sam mumbled. He looked sideways at Ron, probably worried that Ron would realize Sam was taking lessons from Kevin and get mad.

“Thanks for sticking up for Sam with the umpire,” I said.

“Not a problem. Just don’t want the boy to get a reputation. You see the same umps over and over. You want them to like you.”

“Should I bring him a candy bar next time?” Sam asked. We all laughed.

I shook Kevin’s hand. “I’ll email you.” Kevin walked back to his car.

I turned to Ron and thanked him for coming. “I really couldn’t have gotten through it without you.”

“Any time,” he said gallantly.

“The next game’s tomorrow morning at nine,” I joked.

“You don’t have to come,” Sam assured him, “because I’m quitting baseball.”

I spent the entire ride home trying to convince Sam to change his mind. He loved baseball. We made a commitment to the team. He’d already quit swim team. What else was he going to do with his summer? By the time we got home, he was still saying that the night’s game had been his last. I didn’t know what else to say.

I called Kevin.

“Put him on the phone,” he commanded. I handed the phone over to Sam.

Sam didn’t say much. He mostly nodded. Then he handed the phone back to me and scampered upstairs. Soon I could hear the bath water running.

“It’s fine,” Kevin said. “Have him at the field at eight am tomorrow.”

“What did you tell him?”

“I said he needed to play for the rest of the summer season. And if he still hated it, then he could quit.”

“And he agreed?”

“Yep.”

“But I said the same thing!”

“Yeah, but you’re his mom. I’m a coach.”

“Can I call you when he won’t do his homework?”

# # #

 

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Happy first day of the World Series!

Baseball has the longest season of any professional sport. Factoring in spring training, which starts in February, baseball players are playing for most of the year. It’s no wonder that the two teams who actually make it to the Series are rarely the ones with the best regular season records. It’s just too difficult to sustain a high level of performance over that long a period of time. The two teams slugging it out over the next four to seven games have battled their way through losing streaks, games blown in the last inning, injuries, umpires’ bad calls, and rain delays.

In that respect, baseball players are a lot like writers. Each profession has its shares of highs and lows, but in the end, it’s the ones with the strongest work ethic, who won’t quit no matter what, who end up winners at the end of the day or the end of October.

My book, “Keeping Score,” is about a divorced mom, her 9-year-old son, and his first summer playing travel baseball. It is loosely – very loosely – based on the first summer my son played travel ball, when he was also 9. While he has had a lot of highs and lows over the years, most of the stories in “Keeping Score” were inspired by those episodes, not based on them. But it was a very tough summer, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d wanted to quit baseball all together as a result. Luckily, he didn’t, and 10 years later, he’s still playing. And the highs and lows are still there, too. He’s learned to handle them better, but I’m not sure I have.

Each profession has its share of naysayers, too. Writers often hear that it’s too hard to write a book, too hard to get an agent, too hard to publish, too hard to sell. Of course it’s hard. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. It’s also pretty difficult to throw or hit a 92 mph fastball. When kids in elementary school say they want to be baseball players when they grow up, someone pats them on the head. When they say it in middle school, they get frowns and comments like, “That’s a fun game, but what do you really want to be?” Yes, it’s true that there are only 1000 major league baseball players and only 100 books on Amazon’s best seller list. But every single one of those players and every single one of those writers heard that they weren’t good enough. Are there baseball players and writers who were once better than they are? Of course. But at some point, they sat down. At some point, they stopped writing.

Winners are the ones who don’t quit. Whether the game is baseball, writing, or life.

That little voice inside your head whispering you’re not good enough? I don’t listen to it. My son doesn’t listen to it. And you shouldn’t listen to it, either.

Jami cover shotAbout the author: A lifelong resident of Maryland, Jami Deise recently moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, along with her husband Tom, son Alex, and dog Lady. A baseball mom for over 10 years, Keeping Score is her first novel. Jami is an associate reviewer at www.chicklitcentral.com and a generalist reader for an NYC-based literary agency. Along with women’s fiction, she loves all things horror and watches too much TV.

Find Ms. Deise here: blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

 

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