Hint: It involves hot guys, both the girlhood-crush kind, and the one-you-marry kind.
Today I welcome Mindy Klasky to planetpooks.
Mindy is a friend, a fellow member of Book View Café, and an inspiration as a writer and a promotions goddess. I’m thrilled to be part of her blog tour to launch the first book in her Diamond Brides series, a series of nine romance novels involving the players on her fictitious team, the Raleigh Rockets.
Take it away, Mindy!
IF I CLOSE MY EYES, I can still see the scene: Me, in a hideous green and white uniform, standing at the plate. We’re in ninth grade gym class and it’s baseball season. My team is behind by three runs, the bases are loaded, there are two outs, and I’m at the plate. (For people who don’t play baseball, that all adds up to: The entire game depended on me. Which was seriously unfortunate, because I hadn’t managed to get my bat on the ball for the entire semester.)
We had a new gym teacher. Mr. Harrison was drop-dead gorgeous – tall, blond, with a killer smile and a glint in his eye. Every girl in ninth grade was in love with him, myself included.
Mr. Harrison stood behind the plate. He told me to choke up on the bat. He instructed me to keep my eye on the ball. He told me to balance on my back leg. He gave me a hundred and one different instructions, and I did my best to follow them.
Strike one. Strike two. Strike three. I was out, and my team lost the game.
What? You were expecting some miracle ending? Mr. Harrison was a miracle to look at, but that gym class was very much rooted in the real world.
But as I walked back to the locker room, Mr. Harrison said, “Good try. Next time.” And he smiled at me. And to a fourteen-year-old girl with a monster crush, that smile was enough to get me to suit up the next day, to pick up the bat the next time, to try again.
Okay, I never hit a game-winning home run. But I did eventually get the bat on the ball. And Mr. Harrison said, “I knew you could do it!” And I floated for days after that vote of confidence.
At the end of the year, I moved away from that town. At my new school, we spent more time cross-country skiing than playing baseball. (I wasn’t any better on skis than I was at the plate.) Mr. Harrison was replaced by Coach Anastos (and that was definitely not an improvement.)
Decades went by. I dated a bunch of guys who were wrong for me. I found one guy who was right for me, even though he was a baseball fan. I married that guy. I learned a lot about baseball (originally as a matter of self-defense, so that I could talk with my husband about the pastime he loves so much, then as a matter of honest independent enjoyment.)
I watched a lot of baseball. We’re talking dozens of games a season, all nine innings of every game (because who would ever stop watching a game before the end?)
And I started to put together an idea for a romance series, building it around the (imaginary) Raleigh Rockets baseball team. I knew I wanted to write nine novels – nine innings in the game, nine position players on a team.
I came up with nine heroines. I figured out conflicts for each of them, plots to wrap around them.
And then I began to focus on my heroes – who they were, how they played the game. And I was as surprised as anyone that Mr. Harrison resurfaced in my mind.
Sure, he was transformed a bit when he became DJ Thomas, the hero of PERFECT PITCH. DJ was nowhere near as supportive of his son as Mr. Harrison had been of me. But the drive to succeed? The belief that we can each live up to our full potential? The killer smile that made a naïve schoolgirl melt? That was Mr. Harrison, through and through.
Inspiration surfaces in the strangest places. If you’re a writer, what’s the oddest inspiration you ever used in your work? If you’re a reader, what’s the oddest link you ever made with a book, the strangest connection that just twanged and let you know that was the right book for you at that precise moment in time?
That’s fine, until D.J. Thomas—God’s gift to baseball—throws her a wild pitch. He slams her in an interview, and the video goes viral. Sam’s no shrinking violet. She parlays D.J.’s apology into a national T.V. appearance—and a very unexpected, very public kiss.
Soon, paparazzi catch the couple in a steamy make-out session, and Sam’s music program is on the block. The blazing hot relationship is threatened even more when D.J.’s son begs to trade in Little League for music class.
Can Sam and D.J. sizzle past the sour notes and find their perfect pitch?