Welcome to my blog where I will post commentary on issues ranging from fiction to public policy. Tucked away in the Idea Boxes are “how to” tips on a variety of projects that have become part of our family’s culture over the years. I hope you’ll find some useful ideas there. My blog will take you through the fantastic journey of writing and publishing fiction, as well as commentary on politics, cultural trends, book reviews and family.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

On Hurricanes and Books

We've been without power for several days here in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania where I'm visiting children and grandchildren.  Hurricane Sandy hit a day after I arrived and after the storm ripped dozens of tiles off the roof and took down half the trees in the neighborhood, we're still without power and I'm still trying to get back to California.

The timing is not great since my novel is in the final stages of production and I have a million things I need to be doing in terms of distribution, marketing and approvals.

This is the first day we've had connectivity, tv or showers, thanks to power being restored at Bill's parents' house in Allentown.

Still, with all the inconvenience, we're safe and the time we've had together has been unforgettable.  No school. Long days of cards and other games.  Catch-as-catch-can meals with whatever has just thawed in the ever-warming freezer.  Evenings by flashlight in front of the gas fireplace, making up stories, reading poems and play acting the part of local weatherman.

Truth be told, I needed a break from publication of the book.  All that excitement will come soon enough.  I expect you'll be able to get One Summer in Arkansas from me or my website or from amazon before the end of November.  It may take a couple more weeks before your local bookstore can get it.  But it doesn't hurt to ask.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Remembering Baseball

Guest Blog by Jean Hastings Ardell

Jean Hastings Ardell works as a writer, editor, and memoir instructor in Corona del Mar, California. She frequently writes about baseball and is co-chair of the NINE Spring Training Conference, held each March in Arizona. Her book, Breaking into Baseball: Women and the National Pastime, was published in 2005 as part of its Writing Baseball Series by Southern Illinois University Press. The book continues to serve as a text in numerous sport history courses across the country.

A few years back, after the Boston Red Sox had knocked the team we root for, the oxymoronically named Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, out of the post-season playoffs, my husband and I spent a couple of days in deep funk.

            “Aren’t we getting too old for this?” I finally said to him. “Maybe we care too much.”

            “Nah,” came the quick reply. “Besides, look at all the fun we’ve had.”

He was right. Ever since my father brought me to Manhattan’s Polo Grounds to see his beloved New York Giants, I’ve been engaged by this slow-moving, 19th-century game. Baseball permits conversation in ways that more frenetic sports do not. Countless hours have I spent with my father, my husband, who played the game professionally, my sons, and my baseball pals discussing the evils of the New York Yankees, the questionable virtues of the designated hitter rule, the nuances of the infield fly rule…. Conversations that offer respite from the cares of this world.

Baseball nourishes body and soul: (Okay, we know that hot dogs aren’t the healthiest of food choices, but might the dietary gods grant dispensations for ballpark franks? I hope so.) The game actually evolved out of ancient and, in some cases, some fairly earthy, religious rites -- a glimmer of which I see at the beginning of each season in the spring, a time of hope, optimism, rebirth.

Now it’s October, and the Angels didn’t even make it to the playoffs this year. But my dad’s old team, the Giants, now of San Francisco, did and came back in thrilling style after dropping the first two games to the Cincinnati Reds, to make it into the National League Championship Series. Wish he were still around to share the joy. I lamented with my older son that fact that his Atlanta Braves lost in the National League Wild Card one-game playoff. On the other hand, our East Coast friend’s beloved Baltimore Orioles, after fourteen straight losing seasons, have played tough against the Yankees in the American League Division Series. When the Birds won in the twelfth inning last night to tie the series at two-all, I texted our friend, “Mazel tov.”

I can report on all this because this is what I’ve been doing all week: Playing hooky from the cares of work and the political campaigns that so concern me, from all of “real life,” I suppose, to watch baseball’s post-season dramas play out on TV. I’m having a heckuva good time, whether I’m too old for this or not.