Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Halloween! A Halloween Excerpt from THE SEESAW EFFECT

In honor of everyone’s favorite dress up and get candy holiday, here’s an excerpt from my latest women’s fiction novel, THE SEESAW EFFECT. With an election coming up, how does professional Democrat Erin balance work, home and politics?

Jessica popped her head in. “God, what’s the spoiled little brat screaming about this time?”

My jaw dropped. Jessica was wearing her Halloween costume. She’d borrowed a friend’s old Catholic school uniform that was three years’ too tight. With an exposed midriff and more make-up on her face than an entire Sephora store, she looked like a brunette, pre-baby Britney Spears.

Michael didn’t blink. “Mom’s not coming to my soccer game.”

“Oh, your poor little baby, is that all? I thought maybe she said you couldn’t go trick-or-treating or something.”

“That’s what I’m about to tell you,” I said.

“Mom.” Jessica rolled her eyes and gave the word ten syllables. “You know I’m not going out begging for candy. This is for Emily Andrews’ Halloween party.”

“Emily Andrews’ mother isn’t going to let you in the house wearing that.”

Jessica snorted. “You want to see what Emily’s wearing?” She handed me her cell phone. The screen was filled with a picture of blonde, busty Emily in the smallest bikini I’d ever seen. She had a halo pinned to her hair and a sun drawn around her belly button.

“I hate to ask, but what’s she supposed to be?”

“A sun goddess. Duh.”

Michael grabbed the phone out of my hand. He stared at the picture for a few seconds. “Can I go to the party instead of trick-or-treating?”

“No!” Jessica and I said together.

“And stop giving Mom a hard time,” Jessica continued. “She’s going to your stupid Halloween parade. She can’t do both. She has an important job. She’s not like some of your friends’ moms that go to the gym all day and drive their kids around all afternoon. She actually counts.”

My daughter was proud of me. I felt a glow all over my body, like I had just drunk a brandy on a cold day.

“Thank you, sweetie. That really means a lot to me.”

“No problem.” She grinned. “So I can wear this costume, right?”

She had me. She had won. “I guess I should be glad it’s not a bikini.”

“Maybe next year. When I have boobs.”

When she was gone, I glanced down at my own chest. Had Jessica done better in biology, she might have realized there was a good chance she’d never get them.


On Friday, naturally, all hell broke loose. Maybe because it was Halloween, or maybe because the universe likes to laugh at you when you decide you’re leaving early. My plan was to get out at noon so I could stop by my house, change clothes, grab something to eat and be at the school early. Instead, right at 11:45, Twitter exploded with the news that New Jersey House Republican Todd Porter had been accused of hoarding child pornography. A staff member found it on a laptop. Porter was screaming that the aide was a Democrat plant who had downloaded the pictures herself.

It was one of our races, and it took a while to craft a release that had just the right tone. Innocent before being proven guilty, of course. Want to make sure the citizens of New Jersey have the best possible representation, not someone who’ll be distracted with personal and possibly criminal issues. And of course, Democrat Paula Devane would be an outstanding representative for the people of New Jersey, and the planet as a whole.

By the time I got the release okayed and transmitted, it was already 1:30. I ran – as much as I could run in high heels – to the parking garage, then peeled out.

Wisconsin Avenue was a mess, of course. Everyone was getting home to help their kids get ready. I was stuck at light after light after light. Finally, I hit River Road and traffic eased up a bit. It’s a 45 mph limit, but I was going sixty.

It was only 2:10 when I got to Michael’s school, Keynes Elementary, but there was no parking nearby. I ended up in front of someone’s house about half a mile away. I took off my heels and ran, in my pantyhosed feet, to the school.

I was just in time to see the last of the fifth graders march back inside.

I knew I hadn’t missed much – about 600 kids in costume marching in a circle around the school – but I was disappointed just the same. And I couldn’t get the image out of my mind of Michael anxiously scanning the crowd, wondering where I was.

Since the kids marched in chronological order, the third graders were all back in their classrooms by now, and the parties should have gotten started. Their classrooms were all the way at the back of the building, near the stairs. The last time I had been there was Back-to-School night in early September. I put my shoes back on and hoped that Michael wouldn’t notice me casually slipping in through the door.

But instead of Mrs. Beckenstein’s third graders, the room was filled with construction workers and big, noisy power tools. I stood gaping for several seconds until one of them noticed me.

“Big leak in the ceiling last month,” he said. “Had to move the kids into a portable.”

Why doesn’t anyone tell me these things?

Of course, there was always the possibility that I had been told; I just hadn’t been paying attention.

I hurried out the back door and surveyed the dozen portables that dotted the grass between the school and the blacktop. Portables are what happens when test scores get published and every upper middle class parent moves to the best district they can afford. Keynes was built in 1965 and it showed. It’s supposed to get completely renovated the year Michael graduates from high school.

Stephen Kaplan emerged from one of the portables. He was dressed as a zombie, covered in fake blood and carrying a decapitated head. It was an elaborate costume that Christine must have spent weeks making.
“You look great, Stephen,” I told him.

He grinned. Half his teeth had been painted black. The front ones, anyway.

“My mom wanted me to be Spiderman, but I said if I got an A in math she had to make me this zombie costume, and I did.”

“Don’t you always get As in math?”

“Yeah, but now I’m in sixth grade math, and it’s a little harder.”

Sixth grade math. I couldn’t even do third grade math.

“Do you watch the Walking Dead?” he asked. “It’s my favorite show.”

“I’m surprised your mom lets you watch that.”

“She said if I got an A in English…”

I didn’t need to hear the rest. I waved Stephen off to the bathroom and went inside.

The party was in full swing. There were about ten parents there – six moms, four dads – and they’d divided the kids up into small groups. Some of them were bobbing for apples. A few wore blindfolds and had their hands in bowls of peeled grapes and cooked spaghetti. Other kids were eating candy and cupcakes, while the remaining kids were working on arts projects. The arts project kids did not look happy. Christine Kaplan was leading that group. I wondered if she had them drawing zombies.

Michael was in the blindfolded group. I watched as he slimed his way through the disgusting food, tossing a few grapes in his mouth for good measure. “That wasn’t scary at all,” he scoffed.

He tossed off the blindfold, saw me in the doorway, and rushed over. “Did you see me?” he demanded. “Did you see what I did?”

“You… ate an eyeball?” I guessed.

“During the parade. Did you see what I did during the parade?”

What the hell could he have done? All they do is march in a circle!

“You marched really well,” I said. “Really nice… high knees.”

He scowled. “You didn’t see. You weren’t there.”

“Michael, I was standing in one spot. I couldn’t very well follow you all the way around the building.”

“So where were you?”

“In the back. Near… near the basketball net.”

“Okay.” He seemed satisfied. “Can we get a cupcake now?”
“Absolutely.”

Michael led me to his desk, and I sat next to him in one of those impossibly tiny chairs. We drank orange flavored punch and munched on black and orange cupcakes.

“These are really good,” I said. “I didn’t know Giant went so gourmet.”

“They aren’t Giant,” Michael told me. “Stephen’s mom went to Georgetown Cupcake.”

Of course she did.

“So what did you do?” I asked. “What did I miss, standing underneath the basketball net?”

“I used my cape to lasso Julia Greenburg. It was so funny!”

“Did Julia think it was funny?”

“She fell down and started crying, but after that, she laughed.”

It was a good thing I hadn’t seen that.

Libby Snyder, dressed in the same Snow White costume she’d worn for the past three years, slid into the seat next to us. Since she’s female, she and Michael don’t have play dates anymore, but she lives two streets away from us, and her mother was a good friend.

“Did you see my mom?” Libby asked me wistfully. “My mom was supposed to come.”

“I’m sure she’ll be here soon,” I said, patting her on the hand. “The traffic coming from downtown was awful.”

Libby’s mother, Shelby Williamson, was a lawyer for a big firm that did a lot more lobbying than legal work. She was “part time,” which, in lawyer-speak, meant she only worked 45 hours a week. She must have worked late every night this week to get the time off to come to the party. All for nothing. Why did schools have to do this to us? Why did they make it so important for parents to attend every party, every Thanksgiving play, every holiday concert? Didn’t they know how hard it was just to get through a regular day? Why give us a ticking time bomb almost every week?

Shelby showed up just as clean-up started. She burst into the room and threw her arms around Libby.

“I am so sorry,” she said. “My boss scheduled a meeting and I just couldn’t get out of it.”

“Who schedules meetings on Halloween?” I asked.

“The bitter divorced woman with no kids,” Shelby answered.

But Libby was in full blown punishment mode. “It’s okay. I didn’t really think you’d show up anyway.” She walked over to Christine and picked up some of the art supplies.

Shelby’s face fell. I patted her on the arm.

“She’s right,” Shelby said. “I never show up to these things.”

“Neither does Mark,” I argued. Mark was her husband.

“No one expects him to.”

“Hey,” I assured her. “I was late, too. I missed the parade, and then I lied to Michael about it.”

That got a small smile. “Alright. You’re worse than me.”

“Well, I wouldn’t say that…”

Christine, arms filled with art supplies, came over, trailed by Michael and Stephen.

“Erin, you didn’t need to leave work early. I could have taken Michael back to your place to pick up his stuff.”

“What stuff?”

“His pajamas and soccer uniform.”

“Why?”

“He didn’t tell you? The boys decided last night they want to trick-or-treat in my neighborhood. Then Michael’s spending the night at our place. Since you’re working, I’ll just take him to the soccer game. You don’t have to thank me. Really, it’s no problem.”

I forced a smile. “I’ll take him home with me now, and I’ll drop him off at your house after dinner.”

“But the boys –“

“I would like to have some time with my son, thank you. Oh, and Christine … no zombies tonight, please. We do have rules about what Michael is allowed to watch.”

That shut her up. Christine shrugged and walked out, dragging Stephen behind her.

“Christine is so helpful,” Shelby remarked sarcastically. “What would you do without her?”

“Don’t remind me,” I said. Then I realized, “I don’t have any kids tonight. It’s Halloween and both my children are going to be at other people’s houses.”

“You can come over to mine and hand out candy with me,” Shelby suggested.

“What are you giving out?”

“Twix bars.”

“I’ll be there after dinner.”



After dinner turned out to be way after dinner. Jack “offered” to hand out candy while I dropped off Stephen and Jessica at their respective homes. Jessica had also been invited to spend the night after the party, but I’d still have to pick her up early to take her to her horseback riding lesson before I went to Virginia. Not to mention take care of the baby bird who was recovering in her room until we could take him to Second Chance on Monday.

When I was a kid, weekends were a two-day relaxing respite. I’d sleep late, do some chores around the house, and then go to the mall or the movies with a friend. But that was two or three generations ago. Kids today were expected to have at least two sporting events a day, along with birthday parties, tutoring and music lessons. All this and we were still falling behind the kids in China. What’s worse was that every kid in Montgomery County was competing with each other for spots in expensive, selective colleges. We’d all moved here for the great public schools and now those public schools were killing us. I’d heard rumors that some families were moving into the city in order to send their kids to crappy D.C. public schools. That way their child, who was solidly in the middle of his class in Walt Whitman High, would be valedictorian at Woodrow Wilson.

This Saturday was no different. Jessica had horseback riding at 9; then volunteering at the wildlife rescue at 10:30. Michael just had the 10:00am soccer game, but that was only because baseball had just ended and his basketball season didn’t start for another two weeks. Jack would have to do everything but the riding lesson drop-off because I had to canvass, but he never complained. He’d put me in the same boat several times. Our schedule was light compared to some of our friends. Their children also took music lessons, or competed in “select” sports, which had twice as many games and practices, plus travel to out-of-state tournaments.

As I waited at the bottom of the stairs for my kids, I was grateful that neither of them had ever shown any real talent in anything.

“You look weird,” Michael told Jessica, who had rolled her shirt up even higher than she originally had it. “No one goes to school looking like that.”

“That’s the point, bug,” she snapped.

“Enough,” I said. “Everyone has pajamas? Soccer uniforms? Riding clothes? Basketball?”

“Let’s just go,” Jessica whined. “We’re already late.”

“Haven’t you ever heard of being fashionably late?”

There was already a small band of children making their way around our cul-de-sac. I backed up carefully, fearful of hitting them.

Michael jumped out of the car and dashed into the Kaplans’ house as soon as we pulled into the driveway. But when we pulled up to the Andrews’ house, Jessica just sat there.

“You’re not going to believe this…. Emily just texted me that her mom wants every parent to walk her kid up to the door and search their bag.”

“Wow.”

“I know, right?”

“No, I mean, good for Emily’s mother. She sounds like a DEA agent. Though I can’t believe a DEA agent would let her daughter wear a bikini for Halloween.”

I turned off the car, and we trudged up the driveway to the front door. Emily and her mother were waiting for us. And she wasn’t wearing that bikini. Instead, she was dressed like Princess Leia from Star Wars – not the gold bikini version, but all long white flowing gown and bun heads.

“Wow,” I said. “That hairstyle must have taken forever.”

Emily shrugged. “Hey, Jessica. Glad you could come.”

“Let’s open up,” Emily’s mother said in a clipped tone.

Jessica looked at me.

“Hey, it’s okay,” I told her. “I have to do this every time I have a meeting on the Hill.”

“You work on the Hill?” Emily’s mom asked while she pulled out all my daughter’s personal things.

“Yes. Do you work for TSA?”

She didn’t answer, although I thought it was pretty clever. She took out Jessica’s helmet and breeches, then pulled out her riding crop. “What the hell is this? What is this for?”

That thing was genuine leather and cost nearly a hundred bucks. I snatched it out of the woman’s hands.

“Jessica has a riding lesson tomorrow.”

“Then why don’t you take it home and bring it back then. I shudder to think what the kids would do with that.”

“They wouldn’t know she had it if you hadn’t pulled it out of her bag.”

By now, there was a small line of kids and parents behind us. I heard someone ask if they should take off their shoes and belts.

Finally, Mrs. Andrews was satisfied. And poor Emily looked absolutely mortified.

“I apologize for the inconvenience,” Mrs. Andrews said stiffly. “But we were not be held legally liable if a child smuggles in drugs or alcohol and there were an accident.”

“Actually, you’d only be held legally liable if you’d supplied the drugs or alcohol yourself. But, thanks for hosting the party, and happy Halloween. I’ll be by at 8:30 to pick up Jessica.”

Jessica grabbed her bag, but Mrs. Andrews stopped her at the door. “I’ll need you to unroll your shirt first, of course. And I believe that skirt could be brought down a few inches.”

Jessica turned bright red, but she did what she was told.

“Try to have a good time,” I whispered.

She made a face. “Take care of my bird,” she whispered back before she slipped inside.

When I regaled this story to Shelby later over wine and chocolate, Shelby thought there had to be something behind it. “Does she have a kid who died of an overdose or something?”

I shrugged. “When Jessica first started hanging out with Emily, I asked her about her new friend, not the mother.”

“Well, look at it this way. You’re looking better by comparison.”

“Yeah, I’m the one who let my daughter dress like a slut and carry a riding crop. I’ll probably be banned from the next PTA meeting.”

“You don’t go to PTA meetings,” Shelby pointed out.

I unraveled a Twix bar. “I would if I had the time.”

“Only the stay-at-home moms go,” she said. “It makes them feel like there’s something more important in their lives than just driving carpools.”

I nodded, even though I was thinking about the crushed look on Libby’s face when her mother wasn’t at the party.

The front door opened. Mark, Shelby’s husband, pushed Libby inside.

“But I’m not done yet,” Libby protested. “We didn’t go down Ashley’s street, or Colby’s, or Vanessa’s…”

“There’s an emergency at work,” Mark said. “I’m sorry, but you know how important my job is. If you still want more candy, your mom can take you out.”

“I was going to go trick-or-treating with Colby, but you said no. You said you wanted to take me yourself. And now you’re going back to work. That’s not fair!”

“Life isn’t fair. And if I don’t do my job, I’ll get fired, and we won’t have any money.”

“Mommy makes money,” Libby pointed out.

Mark didn’t answer. He walked upstairs; we heard the door shut.

“I’ll take you, sweetie,” Shelby said.

“But then who’ll pass out the candy?”

“I’ll leave it on the front stoop.”

“People will steal it!” Libby protested.

“Do you want to go, or not?” Shelby asked.

“I have to go to the bathroom first.”

Libby dashed off. Shelby sighed.

“I should have known it was too good to be true. Mark taking her out tonight.”

“I don’t remember his job being this bad,” I said.

“It wasn’t. But he got passed over for partner. So now he’s working twice as hard, and I got the short end of the seesaw effect.”

“Seesaw effect?”

“When you’re in a balanced marriage, it’s like being on a seesaw,” Shelby explained. “You each take turns going up and down. The seesaw effect is when one partner stops taking turns. He just gets off the seesaw all together, and bam. You go flying to the ground, and boy does it hurt when you hit.”

From upstairs, Mark’s angry voice echoed through the house. I squeezed Shelby’s hand goodbye and thanked God for Jack.



Monday, October 27, 2014

Confessions of a Kindle Addict

Hello, my name is Jami and I am … an e-book addict.

It started slowly, as these addictions often do. Marketing my own book, KEEPING SCORE, I was referred to BookBub. Ah, Bookbub. Home of the free, the 99 cent, the dollar 99 download. I bought one book. Maybe two. They all sounded so good! For instance, zombies on the Titanic. I love zombies and I love Titanic so it’s like it was pretty much written for me!

Of course the problem is Bookbub issues a newsletter every day. They don’t even take off weekends. And then there’s the Fussy Librarian, Kindle Books and Tips, and many, many others.

The result? According to my Kindle, I have 257 books. Of these, I’ve read maybe 50.

That leaves over 200 books I’m dying to read. TWO HUNDRED.

And every time I turn on my Kindle, it helpfully tells me on the bottom row about other wonderful books I’ve missed.

It takes about 3 hours to read your average 85K word book. I don’t have a spare 600 hours. And that’s not even counting the manuscripts I read for the literary agency I work for, or the private editing and consulting I do, or the 37 books on my "TBDR" list (that's "to be downloaded and read ... I don't even have them yet!).

I really want to read these books. I may not finish them what’s I’ve started – I really need to get pulled in if I’ve only spent pennies on it – but I want to give each of them a try.

But when? Should I give myself 90 minutes a day no matter what to get through these novels? Should I forbid myself from buying anything new? Should I quit watching the Walking Dead and Shondaland shows, and devote that time to reading?

How many unread books are in your Kindle? Do you have a strategy to get through them? Do you delete them when you’re done reading them?

Monday, October 20, 2014

10 Truths for Baseball Travel Ball Parents

Authors are often asked about their interactions with the protagonists of their books. Would they be friends in real life? How autobiographical are the details of the protagonist’s life? What advice would they give to them?

My book, KEEPING SCORE, is a bit autobiographical – my protagonist, Shannon Stevens, is the mother of a 9-year-old boy playing travel baseball for the first summer, and she gets completely caught up in it. That was me 10 years ago. With years of hindsight, I would like to offer Shannon and all other travel ball parents of kids in the 8-10 year old range the things I’ve learned since then:

Winning isn’t anything. It’s been said that winning isn’t everything, and while that’s undoubtedly true, at this age it means very little. Travel ball is a step or two above Little League and other “rec” baseball programs because it offers more practices and more games. The more practices and games a kid plays in, the better he/she’ll get. Of course it’s a lot more fun to win games than to lose them, but there’s always another game tomorrow, and you can use what you learned from the loss to win next time.

Being on the best travel team doesn’t mean that much. So your son’s travel team won ten tournaments when he was 9. Do you think that will mean anything when he’s trying to play college ball? No. It won’t even matter when he’s trying out for his high school team. The only thing that matters is skills. Yes, there’s a chance that winning all those tournaments developed your son immeasurably, but there’s also a chance his team played weak competition, or he was sitting on the bench for most games. Enjoy those trophies but know they’re not worth the plastic they’re made out of.

Since winning isn’t anything, and being on the best travel team doesn’t mean much, pick the team where you and your son are the happiest. He gets a lot of playing time. He’s learning and improving. The coach knows his stuff. The other kids act like teammates. The other parents are fun to be around. They win enough to keep it fun but not so much than winning becomes the most important thing.

It is better to get a lot of playing time on a mediocre team than to sit on the bench of a championship team. Bragging rights do not trump time on the field.

How good a player your son is at 10 has no bearing on how good a player he’ll be at 15. Or 20. Many kids who dominate at age 10 are just closer to puberty than their peers. Or they’re short and fast and comfortable in their bodies, which will betray them when the hormones kick in. Or for some reason they never make the transition to the “big field” – the 90 foot diamond, which comes into play in the 7th or 8th grade. The best kid on your son’s 9U team could be completely out of the game by the time high school rolls around, and the bench warmer could end up a varsity star.

It’s okay to join another team. He’s 10. Travel ball is supposed to be a happy, fun experience. If it’s not, and his objections are valid, find him another team. There are plenty out there.

Arm health is sacrosanct. Conventional wisdom says a boy shouldn’t throw a curve ball until he needs to shave, although some pitching experts claim there are “safe” curve balls for the younger set. What isn’t up for argument is the importance of pitch counts. While some organizations count innings, a pitcher could presumably throw only 3 pitches in an inning, or dozens. Parents need to keep track of the number of pitches their kid throws, especially if the coach likes to use him a lot, or if he’s on more than one baseball team. It’s wonderful to pitch in the winning game in a championship tournament when you’re 10, but if it means not playing high school ball because you needed labrum surgery at 15, was it really worth it?

It’s okay to miss a few games. Tell the coach first, of course. But it’s more important to take a family vacation, go to your cousin’s wedding, or just take a weekend off and stay home than to make every single tournament! He’s nine! Travel ball tournaments can be important, fun family time, but they can easily take over your life. Many teams play every single weekend in May, June and July, take two weeks off in August, and then begin practicing for the fall. Make travel baseball part of your life at this age … not your whole life.

Use the travel ball experience to teach your child about responsibility. He needs to show to practices and games early (and you need to get him there). He needs to pack and carry his own bag. He needs to communicate with his coach directly when he knows he’ll have to miss a game. He needs to speak up when he needs more work with a specific skill.

Have fun, and take lots of pictures. Whether or not your son continues to play baseball, these years will be some of the most memorable in his and your life.

I hope Sam continues to play baseball and Shannon gets a chance to learn these lessons. My son Alex played on three different travel teams before high school – his father was the coach for the last one. But that’s a whole different story…

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Featuring Darlene Fredette's new book Law of Attraction!

Were you devastated when they killed off Will on “The Good Wife?” Are you hoping for a love connection on “How to Get Away with Murder?” If lawyers in love get your heart racing, please check out the new release from my friend Darlene Fredette: Law of Attraction.

Determined to win back Christina, Steven will take the law into his own hands...even if he has to play dirty.

Lawyer Christina Crawford has a successful career and stable financial future, but is it enough? Her world is disrupted when a routine divorce case means working with a man she never expected—or wanted—to see again. During their first meeting, she can't deny a connection still exists. Her head warns her to run, but her heart yearns to stay.

Steven Mitchell is ruthless in the court room, but outside those doors, his easy charm, good looks and unlimited stream of female companions gives him an unscrupulous reputation. Six years ago Christina saw beyond his fa├žade, but the emotions she evoked scared him and he pushed her away. Now he wants a second chance and he is determined to get her back...even if he has to play dirty.

Here’s an excerpt:
Heart pounding in her chest, she closed the door behind him. Wearing her best business face, she returned to this disastrous meeting and sat. Christina drew in a deep breath, and a measure of control was restored. She picked up her pen and flipped open the case file. “So, according to these documents, your client is contesting the divorce?”

Steven reached across the table and snatched the pen from her hand. “What’s the rush, Christina? We haven’t seen each other in years. There’s a lot of catching up to do.”
She clenched her teeth together, barely parting her lips as she spoke. “We have nothing but this case to discuss.”

“Come on, don’t be like that.” He leaned back in his chair, frowning. “You’re not still holding a grudge, are you? What happened was so long ago. I hoped we could start fresh, as friends.”

“Are you freaking serious?” She glared an icy stare. Forget a slow death by high heel. She’d get more pleasure strangling him with her bare hands. “You accused me of misconduct, had me fired, and now you want to be friends?” Her heart thumped a rapid beat in her ears. “You’re out of your mind.”

About Darlene
An avid reader since childhood, Darlene loved to put a pencil to paper and plot out stories of her own. She writes heartwarming contemporary romances with a focus on plot-driven page-turners. When Darlene isn’t writing, editing, or reading, she enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter, and Yellow Lab.

Contact links:
Web Blog:
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Goodreads:
The Wild Rose Press Purchase Link:

Be sure to drop by Darlene’s web site during the month of October to enter an awesome giveaway to celebrate the release of Law of Attraction!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Let's Go, O's!

It’s such an exciting time to be a fan of the Baltimore Orioles. Having spent seasons in the basement of the American League East, unable to compete with perennial powerhouses the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, most Septembers had found the O’s playing the role of spoiler. The last time the Orioles were in the American League Championship Series, Bill Clinton was in the White House and had not yet uttered that famous phrase: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

With its blue-collar work ethic and a history that goes past 50 years, Orioles fandom is something that is passed down generation to generation among born-and-bred Marylanders. While fans do not have the “Woe is I” feeling of negative destiny that haunts supporters of ball clubs such as the Cubs, they also don’t enjoy the “this year is our year” that many others open with each April. We love the Bird, Camden Yards, Boog’s ribs, and big hot salty pretzels, and we love the O’s whether they win or lose. We don’t love the many Yankees and Red Sox fans that come down and cheer lustily for our baseball enemies (though please spend your money here with us). We fully expect to turn our attention completely to the Ravens once October hits.

So this year feels miraculous. The Yankees and the Red Sox out of it. Winning the AL East by a stunning 12 games. Sweeping the Detroit Tigers, who were picked by many experts to win the World Series. They have three Cy Young award winners on their pitching staff. And their season is over.

Shannon Stevens and her son Sam are most definitely fans of the Baltimore Orioles. They are Marylanders who prefer the American League to the National League, fans of crabs and “hun” and goin’ down ne Oshun. And right now they are out of their minds with joy. Sam is sleeping in his Orioles jersey every night.

To celebrate, I’m putting Shannon and Sam’s story, KEEPING SCORE, on sale for 99 cents as long as the Orioles remain the hunt. I’m hoping it’s for another whole month. Here’s the synopsis:

When her 9-year-old son wanted to play summer travel baseball, Shannon had no idea the toughest competition was off the field…

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.

For simplicity’s sake, the sale is only on Amazon. Here’s the link to buy the book:

Thanks, and let’s go, O’s!