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.