Archive for June 19, 2012

My 804th Post!

Just noticed that my last post was #803.

Which means almost nothing, and I suppose that’s something.

Still: 803 posts, 49 months, 199,462 visits, 379,788 pageviews.

I have no idea if those numbers are good or bad or whatever.

I’ve enjoyed posting, and that’s why I still do it.

Thank you, sincerely, for stopping by.

My best, JP

Quote of the Day: Martin Luther King, Again

That is all.

From Fiction to Fact: We’re Playing in the Championship Game

This coming Saturday, I’ll be coaching a Little League team of 11- and 12-year-old boys in a championship game. For the 12’s, this game will be the culmination of their Little League experience. Some boys will move up to play at the Babe Ruth level, on the big fields, jumping from 60-foot basepaths to 90; for others, this game will be it. The end of a boyhood passage, giving way to skateboards and girlfriends, basketball and boredom and who knows what comes next.


For me, this last Little League game is a happy way to conclude a long relationship at Tri-Village Little League in Delmar, NY. I coached my oldest son, Nicholas, for his last four seasons. Then I coached Gavin’s teams for all seven of his seasons, which overlapped with two years of coaching Maggie, too. That’s 11 years of coaching at the Little League level, mostly as manager. Then you can add 7 years of managing in a men’s hardball league, plus Fall Ball, Travel, All-Stars, etc.

A lot of games. A lot of faces. A lot of hanging around the ball field, staring up at the clouds, hoping the rain holds off.

I played, too. This is my age-12 season. Top row, center. Wantagh Little League.

I threw left, batted right, like Cleon Jones and Rickey Henderson.

But this game on Saturday will be my first championship game at the Majors level. I was fortunate enough to coach a team that won at the Intermediate level, some years back with Nick. Took it to ’em, 6-zip, behind the strong arm of Nick Hodem. Unfortunately, my Nick was sick at that time, fighting cancer, and he missed the final game.

In 2008, I published my first hardcover novel, Six Innings, inspired and informed by my lifelong love of the game. The book, subtitled “A Game in the Life” (and yes, that’s a Beatles reference), is about a single championship game and the boys who play in it. I’m proud to say that it was named an ALA Notable and, by Booklist, one of the TOP 10 BEST SPORTS BOOKS OF THE YEAR.

Here’s a couple of paragraphs that come very late in that book:

Coach Reid watches the boys as they celebrate, resists the urge to join them, to leap arms outstretched on top of the pile. No, this is their moment. It isn’t about Coach Reid, or any other adults. It is enough, more than enough, to stand back and watch.

Branden runs up, ecstatic. “We did it, Dad!” he exclaims. “We did it!”

The son throws his arms around his father, and the father squeezes back, hard, hoping to capture the memory like a summer firefly in his hands, wanting the moment to last forever, burning brightly, and knowing that somehow, amazingly, as sure as they stood, it would.

Wish us luck!

A Pile of Papers & Me

I know that some authors count revisions. They will claim, as Mem Fox once told me in an interview, “I did 49 drafts for KOALA LOU before the book was ready to be published.”

My first thought was, “Wow, she counted.”

Second thought, “Man, that’s one of my favorite picture books of all time.”

Nowadays with computers and instantaneous edits, combined with the way I work, it’s impossible for me to put a number on it. I can rarely read anything I’ve written without wanting to make changes. So I revise as I go, constantly; I backtrack as I move forward, even if though some advise against it. I usually avoid printing out the ever-changing manuscript. Because I’d only have to do it again, and again, a pointless exercise and a waste of trees.

Nonetheless, over time, various versions do get printed, sent out, revised, and so on, to the point where I eventually accumulate a stack of old pages.

A while back I made my final corrections on BEFORE YOU GO (July, 2012). It’s due out in a month and I’ve got to live with whatever mistakes remain. In this photo, I sit with a pile of old versions, notebooks, scribbled ideas, rough drafts, grocery lists, typed revisions . . . along with an uncorrected Advance Reader’s Copy in my left hand.

A photo that I figured it might an impress a student somewhere. It’s the same old lesson though: You want anything in life, you’ve got to work for it. I guess in today’s lottery culture you’ve got to say that out loud every once in a while.

“BYSTANDER” Made VOYA’s Suggested Summer Reading List

My editor said, “Here’s to many more lists recommending Bystander.”

My agent said, “Huzzah!”

And I chanted, “Show me the money, show me the money, show me . . .”

I mean, er, “Well, goodness, this is certainly an honor.”

Click here for the full, annotated list, featuring categories that range from “Core Curriculum” (Little Women, The Time Machine, The Phantom Tollbooth) to “Anti-Bullying/Tolerance” (Bystander) to Social Studies (Amelia Lost, Chains) to Sci-Fi (The Maze Runner) to ALL SORTS OF OTHER STUFF.

Seriously, why make me work so hard? Get off my back and jump, instead, on the above link.

One title that captured my interest . . . Scrawl, by Mark Shulman.

It came with this annotation: “Enter the mind of a bully by reading his journal.”

Cool cover, don’t you think? Color me curious. I’m going to buy it right now.