By: Arlene Hittle
I have what some folks might call a dirty little secret. (Cue the catchy tune featured in “John Tucker Must Die” here. I’ll wait.)
Done humming yet? Good.
My secret? I’m not much of a sports fan.
First of all, I’m not very athletic. In high school, I was the band geek and drama nerd who claimed that marching band required more exertion than golf—an assertion I can’t quite disavow to this day. Just try to march nonstop for the duration of a 10-minute halftime show and tell me it’s not hard work.
My kid brother will be the first to tell you I hate to watch sports on TV. He’s to blame for that quirk. When we were kids, he wanted to watch every telecast on the air. Naturally, I responded by refusing to watch all of them.
And my coworkers at the Arizona Daily Sun can vouch for my avoidance of laying out sports pages whenever possible. It’s not that I dislike sports; I just have an intense hatred for waiting around for all those late games to wrap up. Thanks to the Daylight Savings Time everyone else seems to love, it’s even worse this time of year. Instead of starting at a reasonable 7 p.m. my time, West Coast games now start at 8 or later.
Knowing this about me, you might ask how my debut novel, DIVA IN THE DUGOUT, ended up with a hero who plays baseball?
Beats the heck out of me.
Okay, that’s not entirely true. The blame—er, credit—goes to the Boyfriend, who’s a tennis pro. When we met, I wanted to make him a hero. However, tennis is a sport with which I was even less familiar than the Big Three (basketball, baseball and football).
Basketball might seem like the natural subject matter for an Indiana girl, seeing as how it’s the Hoosier State sport. I, however, prefer the boys of summer. I have fond memories of watching Cubs games on TV with my dad. I was about four, and he let me slurp the foam from his mug of beer. I’ve been to games in St. Louis, Chicago and Phoenix. My brother and I even went to a spring training game in the Valley a few years ago. (It was the Padres and A’s, since the day he was in town was the only day that week the Cubbies weren’t playing.)
Baseball has a special beauty all its own. Spending lazy summer days or evenings at the ballpark ... waiting for the thwack of the bat as it connects with the ball ... listening to the hot dog vendors plying their all-American wares.
The Boyfriend became the inspiration for Matt, the hero of BEAUTY AND THE BALLPLAYER, which Turquoise Morning Press will release in March 2014. (He’s also the inspiration for the heroine’s creepy ex-boyfriend in the story—but don’t tell him that.)
Matt is the catcher for the fictional Arizona Condors, a semiprofessional baseball team based in Phoenix that holds its spring training in my adopted hometown of Flagstaff. It’s a bit of a stretch with the weather up here in the mountains, but I’m hoping most readers will believe what I did before I moved to northern Arizona—the whole state is hot, hot, hot year-round. And that those who know better will suspend disbelief.
When BEAUTY finaled in the RWA Golden Heart contest in 2011, I started writing a companion story, DIVA IN THE DUGOUT. I reasoned that if BEAUTY was going to be my breakout novel, I’d best have related books. Since the idea for DIVA came to me while I wrote BEAUTY, I had a good start.
Voila! My “All Is Fair in Love and Baseball” series was born.
I sold DIVA to Turquoise Morning Press in July, and it was released in October. BEAUTY is set for release in March 2014, and I recently finished the first draft of Book 3 (still untitled), set to come out in April 2014.
I’m kicking around an idea for Book 4 (the pitcher’s story)—and my fingers are crossed that the ideas will keep coming. A baseball team has nine players, after all!
There it is: The true story of how a less-than-athletic gal like me ended up writing books about baseball boys. I’m becoming more of a sports fan every day. I’ve even joined the office softball team. Sometimes, I even manage to hit the ball. I surprise myself more than anyone when that happens.
So my dirty little secret has been revealed. Take it as proof you don’t have to be an expert on a subject to write a compelling story. I hope you enjoy reading about the men of the Arizona Condors as much as I’ve loved writing about them.
The blurb: In DIVA IN THE DUGOUT, Arizona Condors shortstop Dave Reynolds faces the toughest test yet: fatherhood.
After a successful stint in drug rehab, Dave is still trying to outrun his bad boy reputation. When the team's new owners tell him to shape up or be fired at season's end, he vows to change. He doesn't count on fatherhood playing a part in his transformation.
Melinda Cline makes a rash decision: take solace in the arms of a sexy-as-sin ballplayer whose name she insists she doesn't want to know. Big mistake. Now a single mom to a four-year-old, Mel strives to live as quietly and cleanly as possible. But fate intervenes and she comes face to face with the man who insists on being included in their daughter's life. The attraction between them is still strong, but it may not survive Dave's reputation or his attempts to do the right thing.
Can the Condors' bad boy step up to the plate and knock out a home run for fatherhood? And if he does, will his daughter's mamma be ready?
Find DIVA IN THE DUGOUT at Turquoise Morning Press, Smashwords, All Romance Ebooks, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Smashwords will begin distributing to Kobo, iTunes and other e-tailers soon.
Arlene Hittle is a Midwestern transplant who now makes her home in northern Arizona. She suffers from the well-documented Hittle family curse of being a Cubs fan, but will root for the Diamondbacks until they run up against the Cubs. Longtime friends are amazed she writes books with sports in them, since she’s about as coordinated as a newborn giraffe and used to say marching band required more exertion than golf. Find her at http://arlenehittle.com, on Twitter at http://twitter.com/arlenehittle or on Facebook at Arlene Hittle, Author.