Wed., March 8, 2017: E.I. McCulley, St. Catharines

EI McCulley school St. CatharinesI’m looking forward to my visit to E. I. McCulley P.S. in St. Catharines!
We’ll be talking about:

  • Letters and words
  • Writing
  • The news
  • Critical thinking
  • Literacy

I look forward to meeting the students, teachers — and the parents! — on March 8.

Goooooooo Jaguars!

The missing pigeon section

Photo by Paul Hum

Photo by Paul Hum

Here’s the part with the pigeon, which was cut for length.

I was using the pigeon to break up the tension of the big fight between Gnash and Jock–sort of like cutting to Gabby Hayes, standing in the doorway of the saloon during a gunfight in the Old West.

CHAPTER 5: SHORT BENCH
The voices died down and became silent. The crunch of shoes on the dry in-field dirt and far-off curses and laughter from the soccer players were the only sounds in the Pits, as the baseball crowd looked towards Jock and Gnash at centre field.

A grey speckled pigeon, stabbing with his beak at a cigarette butt in the dirt behind home plate, turned its nervous, darting, pin-prick eyes on the scene.

Coop took off his baseball cap and ran his fingers through his sweaty faux hawk, and then tamped the cap back down onto his head.

And then, in a sudden outburst, Gnash angrily threw his glove onto the ground, wound up with his foot and gave the glove a kick that sent it flying towards third base.

“Seriously?” asked Jock, rhetorically. And then he added in a squeaky sing-song taunt, “and is that how we treat our equipment?”

“Shut up!” yelled Gnash, his face beet red. “Shut up! Shut up!”

Gnash launched himself toward the much taller boy, charging at him with his head down like an angry goat. Jock was caught off-guard by the attack, and soon he was on his back on the ground with his glove over his face, covered by Gnash who was landing blows anywhere he could find a soft spot.

The dugout cleared as the entire team ran to pull the boys apart. They converged on the dust-up, each boy grabbing a limb or a piece of jersey and yelling at the two to stop fighting.

With a furious flutter of its wings, the old pigeon scrambled up the hill behind the home-plate fence, cigarette butt clenched in its tiny beak, desperate to flee the angry scene.

You do remember Gabby Hayes, right?

Gabby_hayes

 

The “Tagged Out” pigeon returns!

In an early draft of Tagged Out, there was a curmudgeonly pigeon. He got cut for length, but editor Kat Mototsune and I still miss him.

In fact, when we got together a couple of days ago, we talked about him. How much we liked him but, alas, how he had to go (it was the right editorial decision).

Toronto Playgrounds is the league that plays in Christie Pits. This is truly life imitating art.

Photo: Paul Hum.

Photo: Paul Hum.

Thanks, to the students at Unionville Montessori!

Unionville Montessori TO presentation Jan 2017When I heard about this, it made my day. Thank you to all the kids at Unionville Montessori — it’s always a great pleasure to visit and to present there.

We had an all-school assembly on Friday, January 30th, to announce and kick-off the start of our annual Literacy Week. All the students were gathered in the gym, numbering almost 600, from grades 1 to 8.

Our coordinator, Gary Kohl, announced that authors would be visiting the students beginning that coming Monday. As he read through the names, in order, from authors visiting the grade 1s and up, the students listened intently. A few names were familiar, as they have visited before.

But when Mr. Kohl announced the return of Joyce Grant, a spontaneous and sudden cheer went up into the air. I was surprised to hear it, not because Joyce isn’t a dynamic and engaging speaker — she truly is — but because this cheer was so sudden and spontaneous. It’s been a pleasure having her.

– Adrianna McQuaid, Vice-Principal
Unionville Montessori Private School

Tagged Out on Glad Day’s Top 20 list

I’m extagged-out-15-on-glad-day-best-seller-list-2016cited and thrilled that Tagged Out is the #15 book at Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto.

Glad Day is an incredible bookstore–the world’s oldest LGBTQ bookstore, in fact–and the staff are smart and knowledgeable. I’m super-proud and pleased that Tagged Out is on their best-sellers list, in very good company.

Co-owner Scott was a beta-reader for Tagged Out, so how’s that for a bookstore that cares about and supports authors? Amazing.

 

When characters do their own thing…

playground-children-pixabayI’m writing a scene for my baseball novel, Home Team.

In the scene, Miguel is babysitting a boy in the playground. He stops to talk to someone else, and when he’s distracted, the child runs away.

But here’s the thing. The kid did that on his own–nowhere in my synopsis or chapter outline does it say, “the boy runs away.” He just took off!

So now I need to write a scene where my main character looks for him.

Kids, these days! Sheesh!

Packing great baseball info into “Home Team”

Sketch by coach Ryan McBride, Out of the Park Sports.

Sketch by coach Ryan McBride, Out of the Park Sports.

I’m currently writing the sequel to Tagged Out; its working title is Home Team. Once again, it’s set in Toronto’s Christie Pits, and features the fictional Toronto Blues baseball team.

Just as with Tagged Out, it’s important that it’s packed with as much expert baseball information as possible.

When fictional Coach Coop talks to the Blues in Home Team, he’ll be giving his team advice that comes right out of the mouth of some real-life baseball coaches. So, readers will be getting that advice as well.

This week, it’s thanks to Ryan McBride, who runs Out of the Park Sports in Toronto. Here’s the scene he sketched out for Chapter 4, which explains how a second baseman–in this case, “Miguel”–should get into position to tag someone trying to steal second.

McBride explained the necessary positioning and footwork to make that play happen. There’s more to it than you might think! Most baseball players will know that, as McBride explained, “the batter who’s up needs to be a right-handed batter, otherwise it would be the shortstop covering second.” But they might not know that before the play, Miguel needs to have moved closer to second base, and that he will have to run over and plant his back foot on the left side of the base, to properly make the tag.

So in Chapter 4 in Home Team, when Coach Coop tells Miguel where to stand, he’ll actually be speaking the words of Ryan McBride.

It’s advice a lot of young baseball players would love to have, but might not be able to access. Thanks to Coach Coop and the Blues–and coaches like Ryan McBride–they soon will.