Introducing the Authors of Second Wind Publishing

I thought a fun way to introduce the authors of Second Wind Publishing, LLC (or at least the ones who wanted to be introduced) would be to have them answer three simple questions so you can see how different authors perceive themselves and their writing. The questions:

1. What is writing like for you?
2. What is the most thrilling thing about getting published?
3. What is the most humbling thing about getting published?

Nancy A. Niles, author of Vendetta:

1. Writing is something that I can’t not do. It’s my best friend, sometimes a pain in the neck, but most times just something that I need to do for my own peace of mind.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is the encouragement it has given me to keep writing and keep allowing myself to express more freely and deeper.  I think all those rejection slips had an effect on me and now being published is having a strengthening and very positive effect on my writing.

3. The most humbling thing about getting published is knowing that for a few hours the people who read my novel will be taken away from their problems and be in my world. It humbles me to know that for just a short time I can give them a little escape from their troubles. It is quite a blessing.

Nichole R. Bennett, author of Ghost Mountain:

1. Writing is in my blood.  I don’t mean that I come from a long line of authors, because I don’t.  But I have to write.  I have to get those words out of my body and onto paper.  Some days those words flow and there is no stopping them.  Other days I struggle over each and every letter.  Either way, writing is something I have to do.  Just like eating or breathing.

2.  The most thrilling thing is knowing that I am living my dream.  Yes, it can be hard, but this is what I want to do and I’m doing it.  How many people can truly say they get to live their dream?
3.  I’m not sure there’s a humbling moment for me.  I knew going in that writing would take some thick skin and hard work.  I knew not everyone would like my work or appreciate the time and energy that it took to get where I am.  That’s okay.  I’m just grateful for the opportunities I have had and that there are people who do like it!

J. Conrad Guest, author of Backstop: A Baseball Love Story in Nine Innings and One Hot January:

1. I haven’t found anything that provides the level of satisfaction writing provides me—the highs of crafting a perfect sentence, of self-discovery and exploring the universal themes of love and loss, dying and death, salvation, redemption, and keeping my parents alive and making them proud.

2. As writers, I think we all believe our work is the greatest since Hemingway, and seeing our work in print is affirmation, a thrill, that our work has merit—even if it isn’t really as good as Hemingway.

3. I find nothing humbling about getting published (I write with publication in mind), save for the process. By the time I receive my first proof copy, I’ve gone over my manuscript a dozen times or more and have probably a half-dozen drafts. An editor has gone over it, found several typos I’ve missed, and made suggestions for changes—some with which I agree, but most I discard. So I find it maddening and, yes, humbling, when I start reading my proof copy and find ways to improve the narrative, to rewrite a passage and, worst of all, I find a typo! I’m a perfectionist, so, yes, it’s humbling to learn I still can improve upon the process.

Eric Beetner, co-author of One Too Many Blows to the Head and Borrowed Trouble

1. Writing is lonely and tiring. Even writing as a part of a team like I do with Jennifer is still lonesome. We live on opposite coasts and only communicate through email. I never show anything to anyone for critique. Never let early drafts out to the public. So having her around is also an act of real trust. We show each other our naked first drafts and still expect that we’ll respect each other in the morning.

2. I find that it is too easy to only hear from a friendly audience of family and friends so the biggest thrill for me is when a total stranger says or writes something good about my writing. I know it is genuine. Being published lets that person have exposure to my work and find something in it that resonates or entertains. That’s why we’re here, right?

3. Oh, brother, what hasn’t been? I’ve had signings at book stores I respect (and where I shop) I’ve been in panel discussions alongside authors I admire. I’ve met writers as an equal – a fellow published author, not just a fan. All that has made me feel grateful beyond words.

DCP_0851-136x150Lazarus Barnhill, author of The Medicine People and Lacey Took a Holiday:

1. A few years ago I came back to writing fiction after a self-imposed twelve-year period during which I did not write, and found about twenty ideas of books rattling around in my head. My first official act was to get a notebook and list the novels, outlining them to the degree they had “marinated” in my imagination. For me, writing is getting out of the way and allowing those stories that germinated so long ago to take root, flower and bear fruit.

2. The thrill comes from somebody you don’t personally know buying a book, or seeking you out intentionally at a book signing. It’s also thrilling when someone asks you a question about your story in such a way that you know they have read it with comprehension.

3. A couple things strike me right away. First is the praise I often get from my colleagues. When another writer whose work I admire compliments my work in a way that reveals I’ve accomplished precisely what I set out to do in the story—that is humble. The second thing is when people I know hunt me down and pester me until I get them a copy of one of my books. And sign it to them personally. I’m not accustomed to adulation.

lucy_balch-113x151Lucy Balch, author of Love Trumps Logic:

1. Writing is like I’m in a time machine. I can work for hours on a story and it always feels like much less time.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is the knowledge that, finally, I’ll have something to show for the five years I’ve put into this obsession. Maybe I haven’t been selfishly squandering huge amounts of time?!

3.The most humbling thing about getting published is the realization that so many good writers have not yet been given the opportunity to publish. Is my book worthy of the privilege? As an unpublished author, I can always tell myself that my book will be well received when given the chance. The reality might be different. I hope not, but it’s a possibility, and once a book bombs there is no going back to the fantasy of it doing well.

jwcomputercatmail2-133x157Juliet Waldron, author of Hand-Me-Down Bride:

1. I write historicals, so writing for me is like entering a time portal—or, sometimes, like stepping out of Dr. Who’s callbox after accidentally pushing the wrong button. I have an idea of what may be there when I first look around, but I often find the world I’ve entered to be surprisingly different from my preconceptions.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting/being published is having someone you don’t know leave a message or write a review that totally “gets” the book. Shows I wasn’t as off-base as I sometimes—in those dark 3 a.m. moments—imagined.

3) The most humbling thing about getting/being published is that we have so much competition, and that there is a great deal of good writing out there. After publication there is the (IMO) far less agreeable marketing to do. The playful creation is now complete.

TracyB_3-134x150Claire Collins, author of Images of Betrayal and Fate and Destiny:

1. For me, writing is a journey. I don’t always know the final destination until I start traveling, but it’s always a rewarding trip.

2. The most thrilling thing about being published is when people read what I’ve written and they like it. I write for myself because writing is almost a compulsion for me. Readers enjoying my writing is a bonus.

3. The most humbling thing? All of the work it takes to get the books out and maintain a normal life while still trying to write. I realized pretty quick that I wasn’t superwoman. I’m still trying, but someone keeps standing on my cape.

mickeypic_1_-124x149Mickey Hoffman, author of School of Lies:

1. For me, writing is like being in that space just after you woke up from a dream but you only remember half of the dream and you spend all your waking moments trying to flesh it out.

2. I had some stories to tell and now I feel like they’ll be heard. And it really is thrilling. I feel like I’m white water rafting and I don’t need a boat!

3. I’ll be awed that anyone would take the time to read what I’ve written when they could be doing something more valuable with their time.

Deborah_J_Ledford-114x160Deborah J Ledford, author of Staccato and Snare:

1. I am an entertainer. I don’t write for a cause or to pose my own thoughts or impressions on issues. My only function is to provide a suspense-filled, exciting ride the reader won’t want to stop until they reach the very last word.

2. The most thrilling thing about being published is seeing the words I’ve worked so diligently to craft actually in print. If what I present happens to be worthy enough for readers to tell others about Staccato, that’s all I could ask for.

3. Everything about being published is humbling to me. That readers would seek out Staccato, then take the time to escape from their lives for a while, makes me more grateful than anyone could possibly know.

Sherrie_-_book_2-120x154Sherrie Hansen Decker, author of Night and Day, Stormy Weather, and Water Lily:

1. For me, writing is like a dream vacation – a chance to escape the realities of my everyday life and travel to some faraway world where I can see the sights and meet new people.

2. For years, I wrote and wrote, wondering if anyone would ever read my words. What a wonderful feeling to be writing for readers who are eagerly awaiting my next release!

3. Every time I think I have a perfect draft, I find more errors glaring out from the pages of my proof. Very humbling . . .

Norm2-140x151Norm Brown, author of The Carpet Ride:

1. As a retired computer programmer, I see a lot of similarities between writing a novel and creating a complex software program. Both processes require an enormous attention to detail. All the little parts have to tie together in a logical way and a good flow is critical. And it’s hard work to get all the “bugs” out of a book, too.

2. The most thrilling thing for me was pulling the first copy of my book out of the box and holding it in my hands. It was exciting to see something that I actually created.

3. The most humbling thing for me about being published was discovering how much I have to learn about promoting my book. I’m still learning.

biopicsmall-136x139Jerrica Knight-Catania, author of A Gentleman Never Tells:

1. Writing for me depends on the day. Some days it’s the most wonderful romp through my dream land and other days it’s like getting a root canal.

2. Knowing that someone else believes in your work enough to put it in print is just about the most thrilling feeling. It’s great to hear friends and family say how much they enjoyed my work, but to have it validated by professionals is a whole ‘nother ball game!

3. I’m not sure I’ve been humbled at all! Haha! But I’ve never really had unrealistic expectations of myself or my work. . . . I’m prepared to correct mistakes and make cuts/edits as needed. I’m just grateful every day for the opportunities I’ve been given.

Lindlae_Parish_photo-129x151Dellani Oakes, Author of Indian Summer and Lone Wolf:

1. Writing is like a discovery process. I start with a beginning line, an idea or even just a character’s name and watch as the characters lead me where they want me to go.

2. I loved the fact that I finally was validated. Someone did think I was worth publishing and I wasn’t just “Wasting time with all that writing.”

3. Humbling? Wow, I think the most humbling – perhaps humiliating – step in the publishing process is all the rejection you get until someone finally says “Yes, we want you!”

Margay_touch_up-129x150Margay Leah Justice, author of Nora’s Soul:

1. For me, writing is like creating a baby. There is the conception (what a wonderful idea!), the writing/rewriting period (gestation, anyone?) and the birth (I can’t believe it’s finally here!). And then you nurture it for the next couple of years as you slowly introduce it to the public – and hope they don’t think it’s an ugly baby.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is the sense of accomplishment when you see it in print for the first time and you discover that people actually like it!

3. The most humbling thing about getting published is seeing the book in print for the first time and realizing that all of those years of struggling, writing, rewriting, submitting – all boil down to this one little book that you can hold in the palm of your hand.

Chris2-132x150Christine Husom, author of Murder in Winnebago County, Buried in Wolf Lake, and An Altar by the River:

1. Writing is multi-faceted for me. It is a joy, but also pretty hard work at times. I do much of my writing in my mind and when I finally sit down to get it on paper, it often comes out differently. I spend more time mentally forming plots and picturing scenes than I do writing them. I love having a whole day here and there to sit at my computer and concentrate on writing. If I have problems with a scene, I skip ahead to the next one so I don’t get frustrated.

2. The most thrilling thing about being published is getting my books out of my house and into readers’ hands–hoping people get some enjoyment reading them.

3. The most humbling thing about getting published is seeing mistakes and typos in what I thought was an error-free manuscript!

Amy_12_1-113x151Amy De Trempe, author of Loving Lydia and Pure is the Heart:

1. Writing for me is like unmapped journey, I never know what turns, obstacles or excitement is about to unfold.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is seeing my name on a book cover.

3. The most humbling thing about getting published is finding out how supportive and happy my friends and family really are for me.

maggiemed-138x150Mairead Walpole, author of A Love Out of Time:

1. In some ways, writing is a form of therapy. Not from a “work out my issues” standpoint, but rather it allows me to escape from the day to day stresses of the world. I can let the creative, sometimes a little off-beat, imaginative part of my soul off the leash and let it run. Some of my very early writing did dip into the realm of “working out my issues” and those stories will never see the light of day!

2. Can I channel my inner Sallie Fields and run around saying, “They liked it, they really liked it…”? No? Darn. Seriously, I think it is the whole – I did this – aspect. Someone read the book and thought it was worth publishing. That is pretty cool no matter how you cut it.

3. Opening yourself up to criticism, being vulnerable. Sure, you know that not everyone is going to love your book, and intellectually you know that some people will hate it and think you are a hack, but when someone actually expresses that to you it is a whole new experience. It can be very humbling.

IMG_4132-use-115x154Suzette Vaughn, author of Badeaux KnightsMortals, Gods, and a Muse, and Finding Madelyn:

1. I’m like a humming bird on too much caffine. I write in waves. When the wave hits I can put out several thousand words in an unbelievably small amount of time. Then when I’m not in humming bird mode I edit.

2. The most thrilling is probably the fact that there are people out there that I don’t know that have read my book and liked it. I had the pleasure a few times of meeting them and there is some twinkle in their eye that is amazing.

3. My son is always humbling. I recieved my proofs in the mail and my then seven year old son didn’t fully understand what it meant that I’d written a book. He flips through the pages looking for hand-writting. “I get in trouble when I write in books.”

jjdare-139x150JJ Dare, author of False Positive and False World:

1. Writing is like being in a triathlon for me. I power write for days or weeks at a time, then crash for awhile with the help of Tylenol and chocolate. Writing is a scary, exciting roller-coaster. It is exhilarating and draining, and Iwouldn’t do it any other way.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is the very act of being published! Something I wrote is out there, available for anyone to read. Holding the hard copy of my book in my hands gives me the good shivers. The other thrill is the pride in my family’s voices when they introduce me as “The Writer.”

3. The most humbling thing is feeling responsible for the places I take my readers. During the time they’re walking with and living the lives of the characters in my book, my readers are taking the same roller-coaster ride I took to write the
book.

pat-135x150Pat Bertram, author of More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I:

1. For me, writing is like the world’s longest crossword puzzle, one that takes a year to complete. I like playing with words, finding their rhythm, and getting them to behave the way I want. I like being able to take those words and create ideas, characters, and emotions.

2. Someday perhaps, I will find the thrill of being published, but to be honest it was anti-climatic. I am more thrilled at the thought of what the future might bring now that my books have been published.

3. I had no intention of answering these questions. After all, I was the one who collated all these mini interviews, but a fellow author said, “This is your party, too. People will tune in because of you. They want to know more about YOU. Don’t cheat your fans and followers.” Now that’s humbling.

Click here to read the first chapters of all Second Wind novels: The Exciting Worlds of  Second Wind Books

Backstop: A Baseball Love Story in Nine Innings by J. Conrad Guest

Michigan writer J. Conrad Guest scores with his second novel. Backstop: A Baseball Love Story in Nine Innings, from Second Wind Publishing, is told from the perspective of the protagonist known only as Backstop, the nickname he earned during his first year playing catcher for his ability to block pitches in the dirt. You know Backstop. He plays for any team in any city in America with a major league ball club. You cheer him when he delivers, and boo him when he doesn’t. In what could be his last game after 14 years in the major leagues—the seventh game of the World Series—Backstop chronicles his rookie season, takes the reader to Chicago where he finds romance, and reveals the heartbreak he endured in the aftermath of an adulterous affair. 

Guest builds the story around a fictional ballplayer who makes his dream to play in the major leagues come true. Backstop is driven to succeed, to prove himself to his father, who passed away the year before the Tigers drafted him. In his first season in the big leagues, he meets and falls in love with Darlene, a former lawyer turned business owner in Chicago. After a season-long courtship, they wed, and 12 years of happy marriage ensue. However, when the Tigers make the playoffs for the first time in Backstop’s career, he goes out on the town to celebrate with team mates and falls prey to the seductive overtures of a predatory younger woman. Thereafter, his world comes crashing down when Darlene asks for time apart to consider their future together. The following season, Backstop leads the Tigers to the World Series, while trying to win back both Darlene’s trust as well as her heart. 

Reviews: 

Fellow Michigan writer and author of Landscape with Fragmented Figures Jeff Vande Zande writes of Backstop: “J. Conrad Guest offers an entertaining and instructive journey into both major league baseball and major league matters of the heart.” 

While Rachael Perry, also a Michigan writer, says, “Baseball, like love, is a game of errors and regrets. Pop-outs, ground-outs, strike-outs. A bad swing, a bad throw, a bad hop. But what captivates us most is the possibility of the next at-bat, of the chance for a rally, of an unlikely clutch play that suddenly changes the stakes. This is where J. Conrad Guest meets us in Backstop: in this beautiful, hopeful place closest to our hearts, where we play for the love of the game, and we love with everything we have.” 

For this, his second published novel, Guest combines his love and knowledge of baseball with romance and the heartbreak of betrayal. Not your typical romance novel, Backstop can perhaps best be described as a literary Bull Durham, sure to appeal to purists of the game as well as those who enjoy a good love story. 

Bio

A resident of Northville, Guest is the author of January’s Paradigm, first published in 1998 by Minerva Press. He is working on a new novel, Cobb’s Conscience, a murder mystery written around baseball legend Ty Cobb and the shooting death of his father by his mother. His short fiction, non-fiction and sports writing can be found at a number of Web sites and in print publications. Available for author readings and writer workshops, Guest also provides editorial services. 

 

 

Excerpt (Prologue) 

“Baseball is a game where a curve is an optical illusion, a screwball can be a pitch or a person, stealing is legal and you can spit anywhere you like except in the umpire’s eye or on the ball.” — Jim Murray (1919-1998), sportswriter and 1990 Pulitzer Prize winner  

“Life is a ballgame, but you’ve got to play it fair.” — Sister Wynona Carr (The Ballgame) 

“Got a beat-up glove, a homemade bat and a brand-new pair of shoes. You know I think it’s time to give this game a ride. Just to hit the ball and touch ’em all—a moment in the sun. It’s gone and you can tell that one goodbye.” — John Fogarty (Centerfield) 

Pregame 

October 27, 1996, Detroit, Michigan

I’ve played 14 years in the big leagues, 12 behind the plate and, when my knees started to wear, the last two alternating at first base. You know me. I play for any team in any city in America with a major league ball club. You cheer me when I deliver—and I boast my share of late inning theatrics—and boo me when I don’t. The sportswriters in this town have called for me to be traded nearly as often as they come to me for a colorful quote in the aftermath of a tough loss or in the afterglow of a hard-fought win. I don’t think of myself as outspoken, but I say what’s on my mind; sometimes, when something I say makes it into the morning edition, they somehow manage to make me sound erudite. Most of the time I find it amusing. I learned long ago not to pay attention to what the press writes or says about me, for good or bad. This game is filled with ups and downs—no other career or avocation, save for maybe your local television weatherman, forgives failure three out of four times in exchange for that one in four accomplishment in starting or extending a rally, or driving in the winning run—and I’m hard enough on myself without trying to please a prejudiced press or fickle fans.

War is hell. I don’t speak from personal experience, but I imagine when the bullets start to fly and the bombs drop, no kid in a trench fights for his country. Thoughts of honor, glory and duty are replaced by the survival instinct. Baseball is like that, not in the sense that we lay our lives on the line, but we’re a close-knit fraternity, a pretty exclusive membership. We’re driven to excel the result of competition—not only against the opposition, but also with our teammates. I can strike out with a runner in scoring position, but when the next hitter goes out and brings the runner home I’m all grins. That’s part of the beauty of baseball—that a teammate lifts you up when you fall short. Next time it’ll be my turn.

Yogi Berra said that baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical. As a catcher, I love getting inside the heads of unsuspecting batters, especially the young ones. I think nothing of telling a batter a fastball is on the way and then calling for it. Always amazes me the number of batters who can’t catch up to it even when I tell them it’s coming. One rookie was so frustrated he turned around to question my ancestry and then asked me why I’d told him I was calling for a fastball. I only laughed and said, “Did it do you any good?” His next trip to the plate I told him to look for the change and he was so far out in front looking for the heat I nearly fell over laughing. I got so far inside that kid’s head he went oh-fer the weekend. And the Splendid Splinter called pitchers the dumbest sons of bitches he ever saw.

That baseball is a humbling game is an understatement. The mental part of the game comes in letting go of my last at-bat, whether I struck out or hit a homerun. Step into the box thinking mechanics—keep my head down and my hands back—or about my previous at-bat and chances are I’ll head back to the dugout in short order. I work on mechanics during batting practice, and I do my thinking in the dugout, watching what the pitcher throws under certain circumstances; I think about the situation, how many outs, runners on, while I’m on-deck. But once I step in to face the pitcher and I note the defensive alignment, which can tip me off on how they plan to pitch to me, I look for the pitch I want to hit and trust that my mechanics are sound. Of course that can change should I fall behind in the count and I have to shorten my swing to protect the plate as the pitcher expands the strike zone, but the onus is on the pitcher to make me swing at the pitch he wants to throw. Focus on anything other than the pitch I want to hit and more than likely I’ll record an out.

I spent a year in the minors; I hit well enough, for average and with above average power, and caught well and threw out enough runners to earn a good look the following year at spring training. I was fortunate that I had a good preseason, so the team took me north. I worked my ass off to stay in the majors. I might not have Hall of Fame numbers, but I’ve rarely been cheated at the plate. Sure I’ve had my share of oh-fers, but I’ve also accumulated some three-for-fours and four-for-fours along the way, too, and five Gold Gloves to boot. I was voted to the All Star team six times during my prime. I haven’t won a World Series, but this could be the year as I get ready to take the field at home in game seven of the Fall Classic. I’m proud of my career. I’ve played the game the way it was meant to be played, with adolescent joy, and have been paid well for playing this kid’s game I love so much. I’ve put up numbers good enough to have played my entire career for the same team, a rarity in this modern era, and I’m thankful each and every day I take the field, which isn’t as often as it once was, even with the Designated Hitter rule.

But hey, it’s time. I’ve got on my catcher’s gear and I can hear the crowd outside the clubhouse, through the tunnel that leads to the dugout … 

Book launch promo 

Second Wind is having a launch party on January 29 and 30, which will include Backstop. J. Conrad invites readers to submit a personal account, between 200 and 400 words, of their most memorable baseball date. It could be disastrous; it might’ve led to marriage. It can be fictional or factual (fact is sometimes stranger than fiction!). The outcome of the game is really unimportant; what is important is what happens between the couple. In addition to a signed copy of Backstop: A Baseball Love Story in Nine Innings, the winning submission will receive a signed baseball from Backstop himself! 

Please submit your entry to secondwindpublishing@gmail.com. J. Conrad will select a winning entry, which will be announced the following Saturday, February 6.