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Month: March 2015

BLOG TOUR – Failed Moments



DISCLAIMER: The following has been provided to INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS  by Virtual Book Tour Cafe. No compensation has been received for this content. This disclaimer provided by requirement of the Federal Trade Commission.




1790, French Caribbean: biracial plantation owner Patrice Beaumont is known as a “kinder” slave master, but his trusted friend reminds him that is no cause for pride. He claims to be committed to ending slavery, but his actions don’t back-up his words. Is being the “best of the worst” all he’s capable of?


1863, New York City: Giant Irish street fighter Patrick Allen is days away from battling it out with a similarly oversized Black fighter, when the Draft Riots ignite dangerous racial conflicts around the city. Never one to take sides outside the ring or join a fight he can’t win, he steers clear of the angry mobs. So when he stumbles on a lynching in progress, who can expect him to do anything more than look away?


Modern day, New York City: Patrick Walsh, a day trader by occupation and a daydreamer by disposition, sits alone on his terrace trading his portfolio, and staring out at the city skyline. Alone feels right…always has, and he’s fairly certain, always will.


Besides having a similar name and a proclivity to make tragic mistakes, what mystery ties these men together?


Excerpt One (300-500 or so Words):


Chapter 1

The Boigen

“NO PICTURE. NO name. No background,” he whispered to himself as he realized none of this missing information mattered. In his experience, first impressions made all the difference. Details offered nothing more than preparation for yet another first date. This time, however, roles would be reversed. She would need to find him. Patrick Walsh chuckled as he settled back into the snug couch inside the lobby of the elegant Boigen Hotel on the West Side of Manhattan.

The Boigen had to be new, Patrick thought, as he flipped through a small corporate brochure. The hotel, which was south of his old Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood and in the vicinity of a few favorite hangouts, boasted ”Classic Swedish Charm in the Heart of the West Side.” What an excellent tagline, he thought.

A beautiful chandelier in the center of the lobby, situated directly above a multi-colored table, demanded Patrick’s attention. The light passing through the table’s colored shelves reflected off the marble floor and mesmerized him. A large bouquet of white tulips occupied the small, purplish tabletop. Perhaps amethyst, Patrick thought. Below that were three shelves: The first level, ruby, the second, emerald, and the third, sapphire. Noticing the colored flecks of light on the floor again, he looked up. Where have I seen this fabulous chandelier? In a magazine? A catering hall? Or somewhere else?

Patrick’s mind turned back to his social life as he contemplated the newness of a first date and the anticipation of a second, both acting as a lovely build-up to the third date–the highlight of most of Patrick’s relationships, when the increasing ease that came from being somewhat acquainted was roughly equal to the remaining sense of the unknown. Third dates provided Patrick with a brief and welcome opportunity to smile. Fourth dates, however, brought on the inevitable question: “Where is this going?” or the new phrasing he’d heard twice this past year, “What is your end game?” Whatever the form of the question, it always marked the beginning of the end for Patrick, although he preferred to think of it as the need for yet another new beginning. She’s late. Where is she?

Patrick continued to survey his surroundings and tried to relax. The one modern aspect of the hotel, a full-length glass wall, featured three oversized doors with pearl handles, which provided access to Tenth Avenue. The Limerick Liar, one of Patrick’s favorite Irish bars, became visible in the distance as a large delivery truck pulled away from the front of The Boigen. How could I have missed this hotel?

Two distinct groups of people assembled in the lobby. The larger group clustered around the ornate table with the white tulips. Tourists, Patrick guessed as he detected a sense of anticipation when a big luxury charter bus pulled up to the Tenth Avenue entrance. The second group in the lobby lacked the excitement of the first and displayed more control, as they sat in a collection of chairs about ten feet away from the doorway that led to 20th Street. Patrick didn’t know what this group was waiting for and realized he had no theories. That was unusual. This game of analyzing the behavior and motivations of strangers relaxed him when he got anxious, which was often. Patrick’s blood pressure eased as he continued to watch.

The tourists left the lobby and headed toward the charter bus on Tenth Avenue and the more sedate group departed onto 20th Street. Patrick found it peculiar–actually rude–that each of the tourists peeled a single petal off a tulip as they passed the bouquet and left for the bus. He was tempted to say something to them, but realized as much as it bothered him, he would not want to be seen in any kind of a confrontation when his date arrived. First impressions dictate the outcome, Patrick reminded himself. A young hotel employee quickly replaced the ravaged bouquet as if it were a standard duty. Patrick smiled. Good service standards, well executed. It was a tightly run ship.

The Boigen lobby was almost empty and all of the energy that had filled the room a few minutes earlier exited with the two groups. His date was late. As Patrick glanced again at his watch, he felt a tap on his shoulder and then a brief, searing pain just below his right ear. The extreme discomfort forced him to hunch over while pressing his hands against either side of his head. After a few moments, he straightened up and tried to regain his composure. He was unsuccessful. So much for first impressions – Patrick turned to meet his date.

“Good evening, Patrick, it’s been a while,” she said.
He didn’t know how to respond.
“Patrick. This must be upsetting to you, but we need to talk.”
His heart was pounding and beads of sweat started to gather on his brow.

Patrick loosened his tie and took several long, deep breaths. Finally, he stam- mered, “I don’t understand. The last time…the last time I saw you…” His words failed him.

She smiled gently. “I understand your confusion, but before I answer your questions, I have one for you.” She paused. “Do you remember the last time we were together?”

“I thought you would. So when was it?”
Patrick cleared his throat and muttered, “April 11, 2008,” as he examined his surprise visitor who hadn’t changed at all in the past five years. How could this be? Patrick asked himself. April 11, 2008, was the day she died.







Excerpt Two (500-800 or so Words):



Chapter 2

The Reflektions Cafe

PATRICK NEEDED A way to process his thoughts as they headed toward the hotel café. Logic didn’t help and imagination made matters worse; he was about to enjoy a cup of coffee with his dead Aunt Grace. Am I dead too, or is this some type of terrible dream? As Patrick realized there were no good answers to this question, his arms started to shake and his lips began to quiver. He knew he needed to relax by thinking about something else, and his mind turned to the café. First, he considered the name–Reflektions. Probably not a misspelling. The Boigen is a Swedish Hotel, and Reflektions must be the Swedish version of Reflections. Not a bad name for a café, he thought.

The small footprint of the Reflektions Café enabled Patrick to survey the entire operation in an instant. He started with the limited menu, which consisted of coffee, tea, and assorted cookies. Not up to the standard of a Manhattan hotel. Patrick quickly developed a short list for additions– muffins, cakes, and a selection of sandwiches. Yes, that would be a good start. Next on Patrick’s “to do” list, the review of the clientele. Couples sat at the few occupied tables. Some were older, some younger, and a variety of ethnicities were represented. The only area of commonality involved the lack of audible conversation. Why aren’t they talking? The more Patrick continued to focus on the café, the less his arms and lips shook and quivered. He searched for something else, anything else, to analyze.

Grace and Patrick had been close through Patrick’s thirties, when he made a series of investments that would change his life. Some people made fortunes on the rise of the dot-coms, and others, like Patrick, profited when they fell. Once he no longer needed to work, Patrick quit his job as a professor of finance and began a solitary daily routine from which he never wavered. The morning began with a workout, and continued with hours of reading about business trends. In the afternoon, he sat at his computer and traded his portfolio. Every day was the same. Every day he was alone and that’s how he liked it. No more impressionable students who viewed him as a role model and hung on his every word. No more freshmen orientations, graduations, and endless birthdays, weddings, baptisms, and the like with high maintenance colleagues. Patrick had his computer and the market, and they provided him with what he needed, asking nothing in return.

In the evenings, Patrick went out because even he required some variety. The agenda either involved a date or hours of wandering the streets of the city until a random bar or restaurant in some way distinguished itself from the scenery. He could be quite social with strangers and some of his best evenings came about as a result of one of these urban walkabouts. The variety of the city suited Patrick because he never wanted to be a “regular” anywhere.

Finally, they settled in their chairs.

“So, how’ve you been enjoying your apartment? Sorry, I’m not being specific enough. You’ve probably lived in at least two or three places since I passed away. Tell me about your latest place.”

“Tell you about my latest place?” It hardly seemed relevant.

“Patrick, you’re an anxious mess. If I can’t calm you down, I won’t be able explain what you need to understand. So tell me about the place, and start with a deep breath…” Grace wasn’t usually sharp, but sometimes with Patrick it was necessary.

Patrick recognized he needed to calm down and he did enjoy talking about his apartments. Despite his wealth, Patrick always rented and insisted on one-year leases. He didn’t believe in being locked in and sought out upscale apartments in luxury buildings with either a balcony or a terrace. As much as Patrick needed the outdoor space, even in the cold New York winter, he didn’t need much of it–only Patrick and his laptop computer needed to be accommodated.

“Okay.” He took a breath then stopped, unsure why he was hesitating. “I… I moved to the other side.”

She laughed. “Let me guess, for you the ‘other side’ is the East Side. Were you growing tired of the West Side, Patrick? Or was there another reason? Perhaps it was something about a terrace?”

“Well, yes.” He looked at her for a long moment. How did she know? “I’m on the 35th floor facing midtown and my apartment has two terraces. The first has a beautiful, unobstructed view of the Manhattan skyline, but the second is the special one.”

“What makes it so unique?”

Patrick smiled as he started to describe his favorite terrace, the best he ever had. “Well, first of all, it looks like a castle. Of course, the top is open to the elements, but then the sides have four walls with cut out windows reminiscent of those you would see in a medieval castle. The windows are large, so my view is still unobstructed, but the walls block strong winds and prevent me from getting sunburned. The castle is my favorite part of the apartment.”

“So while you can look across the city from the vantage point of your chair in the castle, it would be very hard for anyone else to look in. Is that right?”

“Well, yes, but I burn so easily. The walls give me protection from the sun.” She hid a smile. “Yes, protection from the sun. I’m sure that must be the reason. Irish skin is so sensitive.”

Patrick had always been a headstrong child who grew to be a stubborn man. In recent years, he had intentionally distanced himself from the rest of the family. His Aunt Grace was the only family member with whom he’d stayed in touch. Main-taining contact with Patrick was not easy, however, so Grace often broke little things around her house or caused minor glitches on her computer, which could be easily repaired, and then asked Patrick to come to her assistance. They would talk while he worked; she calmed him down and tried to help him manage his highly introverted, but occasionally explosive, personality. While she recognized that her nephew was a brilliant man, she knew better than anyone he was also a personal train wreck. His inability to commit was not limited to his dates, and Grace had realized that his constant moves from apartment to apartment enabled him to remain the new neighbor while never becoming a trusted old friend.

Aunt Grace sat with her back erect, her posture almost as classy as her diction. “Let’s first order some coffee and then we can talk.”

An elderly, well-dressed man interrupted. “No need,” he offered as he placed two paper cups with lids on the table. “A Chamomile tea for the lady and a black coffee for the gentleman.” Patrick had noticed this same employee earlier at the front desk and admired his neatly sculpted white beard, perfectly tailored three-piece suit, and monogrammed “P.S.” on his shirtsleeve. The gentleman continued with an air of authority, “I think it might be best if the two of you finished your chat in your room. Here is your key card.” The man turned to Patrick, paused for a moment, and then said, “And Patrick, I wish you the best of luck.” As the man walked away, the big ring of keys dangling from his belt jingled, and Patrick became even more confused. Who was that man? How did he know my name? Why do we need a room? Why did he wish me luck? Aunt Grace seemed to understand the urgent need for answers and responded, “Patrick, you’ll get all of your answers upstairs. Let’s take our drinks and go up to the room.”




Robert Allen is a longtime New York City college administrator with a lifelong passion for writing. When he traced his family tree back hundreds of years and uncovered roots that were white, black, Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish, the seed of a story began to grow. Failed Moments is a fictional account of the exploits of his ancestors during racially charged periods in the past.

Find out more about the author and his works at his website:

Website &Blog:

Facebook: anthonyroballen





BLOG TOUR – Nashville Mercy



DISCLAIMER: The following has been provided to INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS  by JKS Communications. No compensation has been received for this content. This disclaimer provided by requirement of the Federal Trade Commission.


Nashville Mercy


In Nashville Mercy, a rising country music star mysteriously dies after undergoing a routine medical procedure. This catches the attention of the series’ namesake Kate Katelinson, an investigative reporter for the Nashville Herald, who becomes personally tied to the case and finds herself thrust into a twisted labyrinth of betrayal, corruption and murder after sources connected to her investigation start to die. Armed with only her investigative instincts and an unlikely alliance of friends, Kate enters a terrifying game of cat-and-mouse with a mastermind more powerful than she ever could have anticipated.


The novel will also appeal to fans of romance as Kate finds herself torn between her brilliant ex fiancé, and a charismatic hospital executive who both may be after more than her heart.


Dr. DeLand’s debut novel combines her love of writing and of southern culture in cities like Nashville. And while she creates a rollercoaster ride of suspense in her new mystery book, she also covers key healthcare topics she has experienced throughout her career as a radiation oncologist treating women and children.


Dr. DeLand is known in the literary world for having written The Great Katie Kate series that answers questions for young readers about cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, and asthma; Baby Santa, a series of children’s Christmas books fun for the holiday season; the educational Busy Bees books; and the standalone title Fishing for Flowers. She is currently working on the second installment of her Kate Katelinson series, titled Nashville Rap.



Q&A with M. Maitland DeLand


After writing so many successful children’s stories, what drew you to writing an adult novel, and a mystery in particular?

This was something different. It was edgy and I could play around with some more adult themes. It was also fun to think of how I could take my intense, technical medical knowledge and use it to create a story that every reader could enjoy. Not everyone wants to read medical texts, but everyone does want to read and find out how a murder can happen.


How different was it writing an adult novel from a children’s book?

Well, it was very different. I could really have a little more freedom with my writing. I could make ideas a little more complex, a little more technical, but with the children’s books – as fun as they are to write, you have to keep in mind that you are writing to a much younger audience.


You uniquely tie your professional experiences as an oncologist into your writing. Why is that important to you?

If I went to school for it…might as well use it!! Seriously – we spend so much time building up our knowledge on marketing, sales, business development, biology, whatever it is, and we spend so much money to get these degrees. Why not find ways to utilize all your interests and everything you learn over the years? This is a fun release for me. It’s applying all my experiences and knowledge, but with a creative outlet.


Why did you choose to set this series in Nashville?

It’s the hub of the music industry. I wanted to center my books around things happening in the music industry. And personally, I just love the city. It’s such a diverse culture, everybody there is so friendly, and I love being there!


Are you like your main character at all?

Not at all! But I think that’s what makes creating her so fun! I wish I could solve a mystery as fast as Kate!


Can you explain your writing process and how you shaped Nashville Mercy?

Writing Nashville Mercy was an intuitive process. I knew I wanted to create a strong, intelligent female protagonist with great instincts. I put myself in Kate Katelinson’s shoes when writing, and always asked myself how she would react to the events unfolding in the plot. It was actually very fun.          When shaping the idea for the plot, I chose to focus on a corrupt aspect of the United State’s medical system that many don’t know exists. I ultimately wanted to make the plot informative and engaging, while opening the opportunity to have a dialogue and create change around the issues addressed in the book.


Without any spoilers, can you give us a sneak peak into the second installment of the Kate Katelinson series, Nashville Rap?

Kate Katelinson comes up against the greatest challenge of her career and personal life in this murder mystery, which is set in the heart of Nashville’s music scene. When a famous music producer suddenly dies in what appears to be an accident, Kate’s instincts tell her there’s more to the story. She embarks on a personal investigation and quickly finds herself surrounded by colorful suspects and odd clues that must be pieced together before the killer discovers her true agenda. Kate must also trust her instincts when a handsome record executive pursues her. This book is a bold investigation into race, power, jealousy, and betrayal. Readers will learn some more interesting medical facts as well!

Maitland DeLand



Maitland DeLand, M.D. makes her novel debut with Nashville Mercy, the first book in her Kate Katelinson murder mystery series. She is also the author of several children’s books collections, including The Great Katie Kate books focused on educating children about medical conditions.


Dr. DeLand is a radiation oncologist and founder of OncoLogics, a group of cancer treatment centers in the southern United States. A leader in her field, Dr. DeLand is chairman of the Health Education Authority of Louisiana Board and also serves as a member of the Professional Advisory Board. She’s an active philanthropist, who is passionate about supporting diabetes and cancer prevention programs, as well as the special needs of children. Her experience in the medical field is prevalent in the stories she writes.


She also finds ample inspiration for her writing from her deep love of southern culture and colorful southern personalities. Dr. DeLand divides her time between Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana and Nashville, Tennessee.


She spends her free time growing her fine antiques and art collection. A classic movie buff as well, Dr. DeLand is a regular at the Turner Classic Film Festival. She also never misses Amy Grant and Vince Gill’s Christmas Concert held in Nashville every year.

BLOG TOUR – Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending Women

Dumped book cover


Getting dumped sucks—and no, we don’t mean by a significant other. We’re talking about the atom bomb of abandonment: Getting dumped by a best friend. Millions of women who know the universally-experienced-but-rarely-discussed trauma of being dumped by a close female friend can relate to the candid stories in Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending Women (She Writes Press,
$16.95 hardcover, March 3, 2015).
Twenty-five celebrated writers—including Jacquelyn Mitchard,
Ann Hood, Carrie Kabak, Jessica Handler, Elizabeth Searle, Alexis
Paige, and editor Nina Gaby—explore the fragile, sometimes
humorous, and often unfathomable nature of lost friendship.
The essays in Dumped aren’t stories of friendship dying a mutually
agreed-upon death, like falling out of touch. These are stories of
suddenly finding yourself erased, without context or warning.
There should be an Adele song for this—and now, the millions of
women who have cried over the inexplicable loss
of a friendship can bond over the raw, charming, funny, and soulbaring
stories of women who know how they feel.
From teenagers to soccer moms, teachers to friends, Dumped is for
women who enjoy Bridesmaids as much as Little Women, or HBO’s
Girls as much Anne Lamott and Alice Munro. It will make women
ages 16-70 smile, cry, laugh, and best of all, say “Me too!” as they
learn that being Dumped by a close friend doesn’t mean going it alone.


What initially got you interested in writing?


I have always been an avid reader, since before kindergarten. My father was a writer so the house was filled with books (Jack Kerouac and Jules Pfeiffer were my early coffee table favorites) and the clacking of his typewriter. I wrote my first short story when I was 7, and my aunt published my whole second grade class’s poems. I bet I still have that somewhere.


How did you decide to make the move into becoming a published author?


Maybe some of your readers will understand, at least those who come from complicated families. My father was the writer in the family. I was the visual artist. We were supposed to stick to our roles. I loved to write, did so daily, and the flow from writing was as powerful as from the other artwork I did. But it wasn’t until he died when I was almost 40 that I gave myself permission to take this whole writing thing more seriously. And it was years after that that I even submitted anything. I had some early luck with publishing some fiction and some articles, and that also gave me permission to see how far I could take it.


How did you come to edit this particular collection?


Kind of a classic lemons to lemonade story on some levels. I wanted to find a way to take some of the bleakest moments of my life and turn them into something meaningful. There is a universality to loss, the loss of connection with important women in our lives in particular, but those breakups don’t get the airtime or validation that romantic or marital breakups get. When I came up with the title and started talking about it, it seemed everyone had a story and everyone thought it was a great idea. I had contributed to themed anthologies in the past and felt confident that I could put this together.


What do you find most rewarding about writing?


In the case of Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending Women, the rewards were twofold. I was able to work not only with my own words, but with the words of the other 24 talented writers in the collection as well. And I have this beautiful book in my hands, so that of course is extremely rewarding. I hope we’ve added something to the understanding of friendship and the importance of women’s experience.



What do you find most challenging about writing?


Art of any kind comes with all those worries, you know: am I good enough, is this ridiculous, why do I have to work my day job, yadda yadda. But writing in particular is so very challenging as the world of publishing has changed so dramatically with the merging of the big houses and the explosion of the Internet. If your goal is to get a book out there, as mine was, you really have to work very differently at it. If you are writing for the love of the process, then you are worrying about another set of things.



What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?


Writer Mary Pipher says: “Writers can inspire a kinder, fairer, more beautiful world, or incite selfishness, stereotyping, and violence.”

The essayist Brian Doyle cautions: “Bad personal essays are about the writer. Good personal essays are about all of us.” If I prayed, that would be it. For universality. And if that isn’t happening, someone tell me now and I’ll go back to fiction. Or college. Or something.


What advice would you give to people wanting to enter the field?


As my early icon, Kerouac, said in his 30 Beliefs: “Write in recollection and amazement for yourself.” But as I noted above, make sure it resonates for everyone else, or just keep it in your journal. And remember, I’m just a beginner myself, so I would say, stay curious and be ready for anything. And always carry something to write with. You may think you will remember that fabulous idea, but you won’t.


Is there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting

about you?


Would anyone be surprised to hear I love talking about myself? I’m also a psychiatric nurse practitioner and therapist, so I really do spend a lot of time politely listening to other’s stories, too. And I am currently working on a series of three-dimensional mixed media memoir pieces, contained in translucent porcelain vessels.


What are the best ways to connect with you, or find out more about your work?


I am a very infrequent blogger at, but trying to do better. And I just got my very first Twitter account two days ago. I’m such a Luddite that I had to go pay some geeks to se it up for me. @Nina_H_Gaby. I’m still not sure how to use it, but I hope to post a line a day from the collection from now until its pub date in March. And I’m on Facebook all the time.



NINA GABY is a writer, widely shown visual artist, and psychiatric nurse practitioner whose essaysand fiction have been published by Lilith Magazine, Creative Non Fiction’s In Fact imprint, Seal Press, Paper Journey Press, Wising-Up Press, The Prose-Poem Project, and on

BLOG TOUR – Fast-Pitch Love

DISCLAIMER: The following has been provided to INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS  by Virtual Book Tour Cafe. No compensation has been received for this content. This disclaimer provided by the requirements of the Federal Trade Commission.

DISCLAIMER: This information is provided to INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS by Virtual Book Tour Cafe without any compensation. This is furnished per the requirements of the Federal Trade Commission.


Book Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Astraea Press
Release Date: 11-3-14
Buy Link(s):

Book Description: Fast-Pitch Love is a coming-of-age story about a high school boy who volunteers to help his mother coach a girls softball team because he believes the “girl of his dreams” will also be an assistant coach for the team. He gets more than a few surprises and eventually discovers that romance depends on more than physical attraction.


I’m not sure a description of my writing process will help other writers. To me, each writer is someone unique, someone whose approach to writing might be quite different from mine. That said, if a discussion of my writing process opens a new channel of creativity to fellow writers – or alerts them to potential pitfalls – my effort here will not be wasted.

I begin by outlining a story’s content from beginning to end. I’m typically clearer about what I want in the first two or three chapters than I am about the later ones. Accordingly, the outline’s main headings usually follow this pattern: Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three, Chapter Four (maybe), Middle Chapters, Final Chapters. Invariably, some chapters are ready for immediate development. Dialogue, descriptions, and actions are all set to be moved onto the computer screen. Other chapters are vague. Perhaps they require a more-thorough understanding of who my characters are. Perhaps I must research an unfamiliar topic. Whatever the case, I forge ahead with the chapters that are solid in my mind.

When I finish the solid chapters, the resulting draft often resembles Swiss cheese. It presents a more-or-less complete story with several holes. For the early draft of Fast-Pitch Love, a doughnut would be a more-fitting metaphor. It had a beginning, an ending, but no middle. Fortunately, as I write the solid chapters, I become better equipped to write the vague ones. Details emerge and characters gain more depth. Facts, unknown at the beginning, come into play.

As I move past the first draft, firming up once-vague chapters, I face two challenges. The first is correcting inconsistencies. This was a big problem in Fast-Pitch Love. For example, in the book’s first draft, I had the protagonist’s family living in a ranch-style house, but later made them run to the house’s second floor. Less-noticeable inconsistencies cropped up in descriptions of softball games. More than once, I had one girl playing multiple positions in the same inning.

The second challenge is resisting the urge to make everything “perfect” by the end of the second draft. The desire to find all the right word combinations and eliminate every misplaced comma probably stems from my days as a state government editor. Back then, I usually had to make all revisions to a publication in a short time frame. Now, though I seldom face tight deadlines, I have spent up to an hour searching for the “right” word.

Throughout the process, I share my drafts with my critique group. These good people are adept at identifying sudden POV shifts, implausible plot twists, confusing dialogue, and inconsistencies that I missed. The finished story may not be ideal, but it usually reflects the full application of whatever literary talent I am fortunate enough to possess.


Excerpt One

Stick pulled out of the parking lot and headed toward the center of town where most of the restaurants and fast food places were.
“I saw you scoping out Stephanie during the history final,” he said while they waited on a traffic light. “Man, you’re way out of bounds with her.”
“I know,” Jace answered. “But who says I can’t dream?”
“I wouldn’t even risk doing that, Slo-Mo. If that gorilla boyfriend of hers ever gets wind of what’s on your mind, your dream could become a nightmare real quick.”
“Who’s going to tell him — you?”
“Are you kidding? He’s no friend of mine, although he might make a good pet if you could find a big enough cage.”
The light turned green, and Stick shot through the intersection.
Jace shook his head and frowned. “I just want a chance with her. Just one chance. Maybe something could happen between us. If she’s not interested, okay. That wouldn’t kill me. What’s killing me is that I don’t know and never will as long as –”
“Carson’s in the way?”
Stick took a hand off the steering wheel and rubbed his chin as if he were a wise old man with a long beard. “King Kong is a problem,” he admitted. “No doubt about that.” Then a mischievous grin took shape. “But maybe not as much as you think.”
“What do you mean?” Jace’s voice betrayed both hope and anxiety.
At that moment, Stick pulled into Burger World and stopped in front of the menu board. A large globe with a painted-on face and a chef’s hat asked for their order.
Stick glanced at Jace. “Want anything?”
“No thanks. I’m not that hungry. Now what did you mean –”
“Well, I am. Give me a Global Burger with everything, medium fries, and large vanilla shake.”
“That will be four twenty-five,” the talking globe said in its buzz saw-like voice. “Please pull up to the window.” While they waited for Stick’s food, Jace again asked, “What did you mean when you said Carson may not be that much of a problem?”
Stick leaned back and put his hands behind his head. “I found out Carson might not be spending much time around Ridgeview this summer,” he said.
“Why not?”
“He’s got himself a job at a lumber yard up in Michigan. Plus, he’s going to be visiting some colleges that want him to play football for them.”
“How long will he be gone?”
“I don’t know. But Michigan is pretty far from central Ohio, so if he’s going way up there, he’ll probably stay awhile. A few weeks anyway, wouldn’t you think?”
“Yeah, makes sense.”
“Long enough for a clever rival to make his move.”

Excerpt Two

The next practice was tougher. Martha put the girls through running drills, having them sprint around the bases three times at the beginning and twice at the end. In between, she pushed them to sharpen their defensive skills. She taught them how to run-down an opposing player caught between two bases; she urged them to call for balls hit high, so they didn’t collide with a teammate; she organized a “round-the-clock” fielding exercise whereby one girl at a time ran the bases in reverse, stopping at each infield position to handle a batted ball.
Jace and Sylvia hit pop-ups, liners, bouncers, and grounders over and over again to the Valkyries while Martha watched and evaluated each player. Most of the girls showed improvement. The one exception was Lauren, who lacked the speed and agility to catch anything not hit straight to her. At one point she slammed her glove on the ground.
“It’s hopeless!” she yelled, almost in tears. “I’m a worthless klutz! I’m quitting the team.” She began to stomp toward the bench.
“Come on, Lauren!” Martha shouted. “Don’t quit! We need you!”
“Why — for a mascot?” Lauren shot back.
“No, we need you to play,” Martha continued. “You could be a great hitter. We all saw that last week. You just need more practice in the field.”
“Jace, why don’t you grab your glove and go out there with Lauren?” Sylvia suggested.
Jace, who had just finished a round of hitting balls, gave her a puzzled look. “What good will that do?”
“Just stand next to her and encourage her.”
He looked toward his mother, pacing along the first-base foul line. She nodded.
Jace ran behind the backstop where his mitt rested on the ground. After putting it on, he had the strange feeling that something soft and gooey was on his fingers. What could it be and how did it get there? No time to think about it.
He trotted out next to Lauren as Sylvia prepared to hit the next ball. It went toward Angela in right field, but Jace didn’t see her catch it, because his eyes were riveted on his glove. Something was happening inside of it, something bad. The gooey feeling was still there, but now there was also a feeling of heat that grew more intense by the second. The next ball off Sylvia’s bat went toward center field, but Jace didn’t see that one caught either. He was too busy tearing at his glove, flinging it away, and clawing at his hand, which felt as if it were on fire. He stumbled to his knees.
“Arrrrrgh,” he bellowed, as he rubbed his hand back and forth on the grass, trying to remove the slimy substance.
“What’s the matter, Jace?” Martha cried out. “Why are you –?”
“Success!” shouted Heather.
“Sweet revenge!” added Dana.
“What do you mean?” said Sylvia, as the two girls jumped up and down with glee. “What did you do to him?”
“Nothing much,” said Heather with a grin. “Just put some capsaicin cream in his glove when he wasn’t looking.”
“Why?” asked Martha, who seemed more curious than upset.
“For nearly killing us with that ball he hit last week. That’s what for,” answered Dana.
“Yeah, we figured we’d teach him a lesson,” said Heather.
“But that was an accident, girls,” said Martha. “What you did was deliberate.”
“He won’t die,” said Heather, pointing at Jace, who continued to rub his hand on the grass. A small circle of girls assembled around him, faces glowing with smirks and hands restraining laughter. Even Lauren seemed to enjoy the spectacle.




Before writing Fast-Pitch Love, Clay Cormany spent over 20 years as a writer and editor for Ohio’s State Board of Education. His creative work has appeared in numerous central Ohio publications, including the Columbus Dispatch and Spring Street, Columbus State Community College’s literary magazine. He has also edited numerous books, including a three-volume biography of Christopher Columbus, written by a member of Italy’s Senate, and A Death Prolonged by Dr. Jeff Gordon, which received coverage in the New York Times and on PBS. Fast-Pitch Love reflects the two years Cormany spent interacting with softball players and coaches both in practice and competition.

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