Tuesday, September 1, 2015

My favorite books

Sixteen of my favorite books (in no particular order):

1) "If I Ever Get Back to Georgia, I'm Going to Nail My Feet to the Ground", Lewis Grizzard

I used to wake up my wife I'd laugh so hard reading this book. If you've never worked in the newspaper business, it might not be quite as funny. If you've ever read a newspaper, it's worth reading. I miss Grizzard.

2) "The Grapes of Wrath", John Steinbeck

I think it was Charlie "Tremendous" Jones who said that you'll be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read. This book was a life changer as far as taking things for granted.

3) Little League Confidential, Bill Geist

I love books that make me laugh. If you've ever coached Little League baseball - or any youth sport, this is a must-read. The language is a little crude but it's one of the funniest books I've ever read.

4) The Firm, John Grisham

This came the closest to the movie being as good as the book as any I've ever watched/seen. The book is better, though.

5) Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger

Yes, the list is a bit sports-heavy. Sorry. I used to read this before every football season. It's just as good the 10th time as it was the first. Do NOT watch the movie and think you've covered it. They're nothing alike and the movie is an embarrassment. And, no, the television show wasn't anything like the book, either. (Loved the show, though)

6) Tales from Q School: Inside Golf's Fifth Major, John Feinstein

Great book about guys fighting for their lives to get to the PGA Tour - and to stay there.

7) Who's Your Caddy?: Looping for the Great, Near Great, and Reprobates of Golf, Rick Reilly

Laughed until I cried. I would actually have to take breaks from reading this book. Almost too funny.

8) The Day Kennedy Was Shot, Jim Bishop

There are probably a thousand books about the day President Kennedy was shot. This is the best I've read. Details all the players on an hour-by-hour basis.

9) A Painted House, John Grisham

This list isn't in order . . . or this book would probably be at the top of the list.

10) The Kid Who Batted 1,000, Bob Allison and Frank Ernest Hill

A little silly but it was one of my favorites as a youngster

11) Matt Gargan's Boy, Alfred Slote

Good luck finding this one. Another childhood favorite.

12) Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt

If you're looking for something a little different.

13) Strike Three, Clair Bee

First book I ever read for pleasure.

14) Holy Cow!, Harry Caray

Interesting stuff.

15) Paper Lion, George Plimpton

Funny and informative.

16) Ball Four, Jim Bouton

Not for children.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

For the next book dedication...

After completing eight books - with two more soon to be published - I've figured out that two of the toughest decisions are choosing a book title and figuring out a dedication.
Choosing the dedication is fun and even rewarding.
Choosing a title . . . not so much.

I can't count the people who have had a positive influence in my life but if I could, it would be a big, big number. Dedicating a book to someone, for me, is as big a compliment - or a thank you - as I'm able to give.

My first book, "Freshman Phenom" is dedicated to my wife, April. She's the one who never stopped encouraging me to stop whining about writing a book and actually do it (not her exact words). She seemed pleased at the dedication.

The second book, "Rebound Rival" is dedicated to oldest daughter, Arielle. Someone following along might quickly figure out the sport the book features does not necessarily correspond to the person the book is dedicated to.
Arielle had a brief, not-so-spectacular basketball career. She could - and still can, I think - shoot it like crazy but refuses - as she did back then - to rebound or guard anyone.

The third book, "Diamond Disaster" is dedicated to youngest daughter, Addison. She cares very little for sports and is still partially embarrassed that I write books her friends might someday actually read.

The fourth book, "Crowded Huddle" was the first dedication where I stepped away from family and chose someone else. Alan Buchanan was, and remains, my closest friend. He's coached football for 20-some-odd years and has had an incredible influence on countless youngsters, so that one was actually fitting.
Not certain if he's actually read the book. I'll have to ask sometime.

The fifth book, "Full Court Conflict" is dedicated to former college roommate Chris Cranford. Though he's more a softball enthusiast, this one fits because Cran and I rarely watch a basketball game without texting each other through most of it. One would be hard pressed to find a more loyal friend than Cran.

The sixth book, "Designated Slugger" is dedicated to two of my favorite people, my sisters Sandi and Donna. The three of us are about as different from one another as any three siblings ever. We've endured the loss of two parents together. These days, I'm blessed to call them both friends as well as sisters.

The seventh book and the first in the "Ally Loves Sports" series is "Ally Loves Soccer." Another of those where the dedication has nothing to do with who it's dedicated to, I chose the Bishop family for this one. This family practically adopted me for a year or so while I was growing up and it's influence on me continues to this day. A huge part of my "parenting philosophy" comes from John and Barbara Bishop. Tim Bishop, my first best friend in this world, shared his parents with me for a big part of his childhood.

The eighth book, "Ally Loves Tennis", is dedicated to four people. Yes, that's a lot to cover in one dedication, but it seemed fitting for this book. When I began writing, people immediately asked if I'd ever write a tennis book. Oldest daughter Arielle began playing at 14, which is pretty late for a tennis player. The last four coaches she had: Miles "Doc" Watson, Tim Kamerman, Mark Rowden and Ryan Roberts, each played a role in her development as a player that's led to her playing collegiately. Each of these guys, along with a handful of others, took a special interest in her and did whatever they could to help her improve. Their efforts are still appreciated.

I keep a mental list of future possible dedications. My hope is that I write enough books that I someday have a tough time picking out a new person or group of people. For now, it's a great problem to have.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

New series for Grades 1-3

I've begun work on a new series of books with another to follow.

The first, the "Ally Loves Sports" series will focus on eight-year-old Ally's budding athletic career.

The first book in the series, "Ally Loves Soccer" should be released sometime in mid to late February. That'll be followed by "Ally Loves Tennis", "Ally Loves Softball" and "Ally Loves Basketball."
Tentative release dates are from mid to late February through mid April, if not sooner.

A second series will be more geared to younger boys and will be called the "Alex Loves Sports" series. These should be released sometime between mid-April and the end of June.

The Ally and Alex books will be great for the young readers. They'll feature short chapters and a lot of action.

Will Stover just finished his sophomore baseball season. Soon, you'll be able to read all about it. I'm finalizing the title for this book, the sixth in the series. Release date is Feb. 20.

All Will Stover books that have been released are now available not only on Amazon.com, but also through several other retailers, including iTunes, Kobo and Barnes and Noble.

If you haven't already, check out the trailer for The Will Stover Sports Series.