Safkhet Publishing ~ Summer Reads

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Guest Post: Jami Deise - all about KEEPING SCORE

I’m thrilled to have with me today, Jami Deise, author of Keeping Score. Jami is sharing her gorgeous cover (I think you will agree it’s fab and perfect for the story), along with a little bit about the inspiration behind the book.  

Thanks, Sheryl, for hosting me on your blog! I’ve been talking to a lot of people as part of promoting my new women’s fiction book, “Keeping Score.” “Keeping Score” is about a divorced mom, her 9-year-old son, and his first summer playing travel ball on the worst baseball team in the area. “Keeping Score” is somewhat autobiographical in that my son started playing travel ball when he was 9 and his team lost almost every game that summer. The atmosphere is real, but the book’s details are fiction. That awful summer almost broke me, but it spurred on something in him. He’s 19 now and playing baseball for his college team. And I’m still cheering on the sidelines.

My son’s first word was “ball.” I’m not sure what mine was, but it was probably “book.” It’s a shame reading isn’t a competitive sport, because I would have excelled. I always read very fast, and several years above my grade level. In sports terms, that’s called “playing up.” What I couldn’t do very fast was run, or throw a ball, or catch a ball, or jump, or kick, or any of the other skills necessary to play a sport. Not surprisingly, I hated to play. I might have been one of the only kids alive who hated recess. When I was in elementary school, the gym teacher was obsessed with those presidential fitness tests. Sometimes I still have nightmares about having to do a blasted chin-up. I thought I had figured it out until she told me I had to hold the bar palms facing in. That was probably the last straw. As an adult, I did some walking and went to the gym occasionally, but basically did the bare minimum, and begrudgingly.

When Alex was born, I tried to instill a love of reading within him, and I had a lot of help from J.K. Rowling, Roald Dahl, Frank L. Baum, and the creators of the Animorphs series. Unfortunately  the public school system was more interested in getting him to read boring books about obedient girls, and his love for the written word disappeared faster than you could say “play ball!”

So instead of afternoons at the public library and evenings spent reading together, our afternoons were at sports practices and our evenings at private lessons.  There was tae kwon do, soccer and baseball. Later he added swimming and tennis.  (But golf never really interested him. Sorry, Mom and Dad.) And it wasn’t just enough to go to practice and play on a team. No, he needed private instruction to learn the best way to swing the bat or the racket or throw the ball.

I got a lot of driving in.

At the lessons, though, I started to pay a little attention. It’s funny how playing a sport – going through the motions required of the game – can seem simpler when there’s someone breaking down each step for you. Beyond that, though, I admired the way Alex seemed to enjoy his body more when it was active and accomplishing something. He was so much more at home in his body than I was in mine.

So I called his tennis instructor and booked a few lessons for myself. He taught me how to move my arm down and around to return the ball, how to move it around, up and down to serve it, how to constantly keep my feet moving while waiting for the ball to come to me. Or at least he tried to teach me these things.

There’s a gift that natural athletes have, being able to see the action and imitate it. I watched in wonder as Alex’s new pitching instructor told him to bring the glove up and around, and ten minutes later it was as if he’d been doing it that way his entire life.  For me, the words, “But that’s what I am doing,” started to come out of my mouth in alarming frequency.

My son was born an athlete. I was born a reader. Still, that’s no excuse for either of us not to try. At 19, now he’s reading books he’s genuinely interested in – non-fiction explorations of history, politics, sports and law. And I’m working out with a personal trainer who understands that being able to jump down six inches and land on both feet is a huge accomplishment for me.

Having a child who was - and is - so different from me is a challenge every day. But parenting him has taught me that you’re never too old to learn.

And you’re supposed to move your entire body when you go to catch the ball. Not just your hands. Who knew?

Keeping Score back cover blurb:
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

Jami’s bio:  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 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.

Jami's Links:

Keeping Score on Amazon (Kindle/paperback):

Keeping Score for Nook/iPad:

Twitter: @JamiDeise

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