Summer Writing Series: How to Get to the Baseball Hall of Fame…Bookstore

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Since I began to write, I made many author friends. I didn’t expect that to happen. Writers are a solitary bunch, but when it comes to supporting each other that’s a different matter. I also have a support system through my publishing family. So when I asked for some posts about writing, I got a great response.

For the next few months, I am going to run a Summer Writing Series. I asked for tips, writing process, getting published or anything about writing that could be passed along to my readers from my author friends.

Since I write for Fire And Ice, the young adult imprint of Melange books, I am going to introduce you to some its authors first.

Paul Ferrante has written a young adult series of T.J. Jackson mysteries. The latest being Roberto’s Return. Read on to find out how he got his book into Cooperstown Hall of Fame bookstore.

How T.J. Jackson made the Hall of Fame

               I decided to use Cooperstown, New York and the National Baseball Hall Of Fame as the setting for the third installment of the T.J. Jackson Mysteries series, simply because I am very familiar with the town and its environs from visiting it at least once a year to do research for the historical baseball articles I write forSports Collectors Digest. This time I would be featuring the ghost of a person who actually did exist (Roberto Clemente) instead of a fictional ghost. Clemente is a compelling subject, given the greatness of his baseball career and his role as a trailblazing Latino ballplayer in the 1960s. Of course, his mysterious death in a plane crash on December 31, 1972 while on a humanitarian mission of mercy to earthquake-ravaged Nicaragua also played a role.

When the book was nearly finished, I took a trip up to Cooperstown in the fall of 2013 to do some final fact checking on Clemente in the A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center at the Hall. I figured that as long as I was there I would try to meet with the head of purchasing for the Hall of Fame’s gift shop and bookstore, Mr. Drew Taylor. At that time I shared with him promotional items from the first two T.J. Jackson books, as well as critical reviews such as the one done by Sue Gesing. Mr. Taylor was intrigued, and when I pitched the plot of Roberto’s Return to him, he agreed to review the PDF to determine whether it was suitable for sale in the Hall’s bookstore. Meanwhile, I contacted the mayor of Cooperstown, Jeff Katz, to obtain permission to use the likeness of Doubleday Field, which is a municipal building, for the cover of the book. Luckily, Mayor Katz is a baseball aficionado, and readily agreed.

Well, at the beginning of April 2014 I received word that Roberto’s Return was accepted for sale in the bookstore, a great honor for a baseball writer like myself. It was then my publicity team, namely my wife and agent, Maria Simoes, decided we should maximize this opportunity. First, we contacted Mr. Taylor and told him I would personally deliver the first shipment of books to the Hall on Friday, May 2. Then Maria contacted Mayor Katz to tell him that I would be bringing an autographed copy of the book to him as a thank you for his assistance on the cover. She inquired as to whether the local media would want to cover the event. The mayor gave us the name of a reporter for the Cooperstown Crier, whom we alerted as to my visit. He agreed to meet me and Mayor Katz at the Hall Friday morning for a photo op (which resulted in a fine article in the Crier). From there, Mayor Katz escorted me across the street to the Cooperstown public library where I donated another copy of the book and had my photo taken with the head librarian.

But we weren’t done yet. Maria had also contacted the president of the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce, Pat Szarpa, whom we met in the hopes that I would be making another visit to town during this summer’s 75th Anniversary of the opening of the Hall of Fame. Finally we had a meeting with Stephanie Hazzard, who arranges author appearances as part of the Hall of Fame’s Summer Author Series. I was happy to tell her about the historical aspect of all the T.J. Jackson books and that Roberto’s Return would give young adult readers a wonderful history lesson on the Hall of Fame, Cooperstown and its local legends, and of course, the great Roberto Clemente. Two weeks later I received word from the Hall of Fame that I had been chosen to speak in the Bullpen Theater at the Hall of Fame on August 7 to discuss Roberto’s Return. This is  the ultimate thrill  for me, but it also illustrates that in the competitive literary market, especially when one is writing for a small publisher, any and all possible marketing opportunities should be seized. Many phone calls and emails were made in this process, but the results have been more than worth the effort.

RobertosReturn

 

Find Paul here:

 Fire and Ice Books

 

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Red Hair

baseball guyI just read an article in the sports page that has me fuming. It stated that scouts for baseball teams don’t usually like players with red hair. Really? I hoped it was a joke because the Cleveland Indians first draft choice is a player still in high school that has…wait for it, red hair. The punch line never came and I started to think this could be true. I decided to Google the topic and several stories came up on espn.go.com.

1b.Kindergarten 92-93

 

I should not really be surprised because when my son was little he had reddish-brown hair and people commented on it. It was never bright red or orange, judge for yourself.

When he was in high school he told me in younger years, kids called him “Red” to tease him. I was surprised because my husband and I never knew it happened and he never confided in us.   Now, as an adult, it looks brown. Red highlights are still there.

 

It made me start to think how many other children were bullied or teased because they had red hair. It’s also associated with a fairer skin and freckles, so stereotypes abound. Not much I could do about it but was determined to have at least one character in every book I wrote have a shade of red hair.

There are many tones of red—auburn, dark red, copper, strawberry blonde, light ginger. Some even dye their hair to get that color. Why the fascination? Anything rare or different is unique. Many are striving for that in their daily lives. A quick hair color change may do the trick and let’s face it, it’s a striking color.

According to multiple sources, about 2% of the population has natural red hair, the rarest color in the world. Some areas tend to have more redheads, mainly Northern and Western Europe. People with red hair are thought to be British or Irish descent.

To get scientific, it takes two recessive genes to make a red-headed child. Each parent must carry the gene and then there’s still just a one-in-four chance of that happening. Hair can be lighter at birth, and darken with age.

Fiery tempers, carrot top and the red-headed stepchild, even calling someone a Ginger have been unflattering comments about this hair color. When we see someone with that color hair, we take a second look and that’s okay. But to judge or think someone is different, that is not.

Back to the baseball story…the writer commented that scouts, for some reason, are not crazy about red hair. That is unless the player is really good at baseball. This prospect is really good at baseball. He has the possibility of turning into a phenom one day. When he does, I hope it finally puts to rest the conversation that started during this baseball draft. Does red hair have anything to do with his talent? I don’t see why the two go hand in hand but have to shake my head over this strange development.

I, for one, will be cheering harder for the kid, no matter his decision. He has until July to sign with the team. He may not. He may choose college over the major leagues. Until then, I’m sure he’s going to be asked about his hair multiple times because after all, isn’t that what baseball is all about?