Thanks for having me on your blog today, Shelly!
November isn’t usually a month that most people associate with baseball. November is Thanksgiving (and Hanukkah this year), shopping, decorating, and getting ready for that big December holiday. And for many people who have family out of state, November also means travel. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the biggest travel day of the year.
So that’s one place where baseball and November overlap. They don’t call it “travel baseball” for nothing.
Below is an excerpt from my novel KEEPING SCORE, which illustrates the particular joys of having a tournament at the beach during a very busy summer weekend. My heroine, Shannon, finds herself saddled with one of her son Sam’s teammates when her ex-husband hooks up with another baseball mom…
The boys followed me to the elevator, where we had to wait another ten minutes for a car. They chatted about baseball and their teammates, while I mulled over what we might or might not find when we got back to our room. I hoped it was just our luggage and not David and Vanessa naked and sweaty. That was the type of trauma it took decades to get over. And the boys might be upset, too.
Luckily, when I got to room 816, there was no sex going on. There was also no David and no luggage. Plus, instead of the two queen-sized beds David had promised, there was only one king-sized bed and a pullout couch.
"Where's Dad?" Sam assumed, as he often did, that I had some kind of ESP that gave me access to information that wasn't readily apparent.
"Hopefully, getting our luggage and bringing it back here."
"Can't you call him?"
I dug out my cell phone. Then I remembered that the genius had lost his.
"Perhaps he's still with my mum," Clive said.
I picked up the hotel room phone, dialed the operator and asked for --
"Clive, what's your last name?"
"Shields," he answered.
"Vanessa Shield's room."
A pause, and then the operator reported, "There's no one by that name registered here."
I was stumped for a second. Then I turned back to Clive and asked, "What's your mother's last name?"
"I'm sorry. It's Vanessa Bennington."
A moment later I heard the phone ring. And ring. And ring. I guess hotels don't bother offering voice mail anymore, because it never picked up.
I hung up.
"Clive, what's your mother's cell phone number?"
"I don't have a cell phone."
"That's not what I asked."
"Why would I know her number if I don't have a phone?"
I wanted to bite off my own arm. Instead, I said, "You guys stay here. I'm going to look for our luggage. Clive, keep trying to call your mom."
"But I don't have a phone!" He whined like he hadn't just seen me try to call his mother on the hotel line.
"It's okay, Mom," Sam said. "I'll handle it."
I went back downstairs and into the bar, scouring the place for any sign of David, Vanessa or our luggage. I even asked the bartender if he'd seen where the obnoxious couple had gone.
"Lady," he sneered, "where do you think they went?" And no, he didn't have any idea where our luggage could be.
Finally, I found a porter who told me that they'd found an abandoned luggage cart near the elevator and stored it in baggage check. In the only bright note of the day, it held our suitcases.
"You shouldn't just leave this stuff lying around," the teenager lectured me. "It could get stolen or someone could plant drugs in it, or anything."
I gave him ten bucks to shut him up, then started wheeling the thing back toward the elevator. But there was something stuck on one of the front wheels. Rather than moving smoothly forward, it kept lurching to the right. The suitcases threatened to hit the floor with every rotation.
"You look like you could use some help there, little lady."
I turned around. It was Kevin. He had just walked in the hotel, and even though it was close to midnight, he looked as refreshed as if he'd just slept for ten hours.
"Wow," I said, "how long did it take you to get here?"
"Two and a half hours," he answered. "I left late to beat the traffic."
Got to love people who knew how to plan ahead. Or murder them.
"Can I give you some help with that?" he repeated.
"What about your own stuff?"
He turned to show me the backpack on his shoulder. "Five years in the minors, you learn how to travel light."
I pushed the luggage cart at him. It veered right, but he caught it before it hit the wall.
"It's all yours.”
When we got to my room, there was still no sign of David, and both boys were fast asleep. Kevin plucked the suitcases off the cart, and sent it into the hallway.
"His mother ran off with my ex," I explained. "I guess I'll be sleeping on the sofa tonight."
"I'm on the fifth floor. You're welcome to hang out with me until his mother shows up."
I searched his face for any sign that he was propositioning me or even offering a gentle come on. Complete deadpan. I guessed it was just a friendly invitation.
I was about to say yes, but then I had a quick image of walking into Kevin’s room with him, while half of the Saints parents clustered in the hall. They’d never stop talking about it.
I couldn’t let that happen.
"Thanks anyway," I said. "We have an early game tomorrow, and I'm just going to go to sleep."
He nodded and disappeared quickly. I’d probably hurt his feelings. I felt bad, too, but I wasn’t about to risk my reputation. I hadn’t worked in PR for all those years not to learn that reputation was all a person had.
I pulled the cushions off the sofa bed, and found three quarters and a Milky Way wrapper. Now I really didn’t want to sleep there, but what choice did I have? I grabbed the loop attached to the mattress frame and pulled. And pulled. And pulled.
Nothing. And my shoulder was really starting to hurt.
I piled the cushions back on, grabbed the extra bedding from the closet, and lay down. After a minute, I remembered to kick off my shoes. Then I stopped thinking about anything.
When her son wanted to play travel baseball, Shannon Stevens had no idea the worst 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.
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.
Keeping Score is on sale for 99 cents this week on Amazon! (Kindle/paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E6GHQYM
on Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/keeping-score-jami-deise/1116264551?ean=9781491201817&isbn=2940045164511
on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/340759