Posted tagged ‘basketball fiction books’

Saying Goodbye…Kinda!

September 9, 2021

Yesterday was my last day teaching/leading/corraling my seventh-grade language arts students. Divided amongst four classes, about 90 students at various levels of maturity and immaturity would descend upon me each day to engage in the “E’s”: Entertainment, Experience, Expression (creative writing), and Education. Some days, perhaps, there was more entertainment than education!

I had been asked to fill in until a new teacher could be hired. Since I’m a “pretend teacher” (pseudo instructor), I wasn’t being considered for the teaching position. I was simply acting as the rubber band around the personalities until someone with the right credentials could be located. It’s the same position that I ended up filling for the whole year in 2020-2021. I could have stayed a while longer this year, but needed to be step to the side before the ninety bundles of joy became to attached to me.

As it is, a number of them were looking at me with pleading eyes yesterday. Without putting myself on a very shaky pedestal, most of the munchkins enjoyed my classes. We learned about the importance of commas (The difference a comma can make between the meaning of “Let’s eat, Grandpa!” and “Let’s eat Grandpa!”), creative and imaginative writing, kindness in words and actions, and learning how to support opinions with reasons for those opinions.

But more than learning, my classes included rolls of Smarties, a back wall of Far Side cartoons that were arranged to spell the word “Smile”, conversation, bad puns, a daily Wolfe Wisdom saying and Trivia Question, and Beanie Babies used to indicate the student was going to the restroom.

I enjoyed it…and am glad I’m done! This morning I occupied my Starbucks stool again, last one of the right facing out toward Pikes Peak, and savored my Pike Place medium brew. Tomorrow I’ll probably get a call asking me to fill a vacancy for a day.

My teaching team threw me a “Kinda Going Not Far Away Party”, complete with balloons, chocolate cake, and card. One of the students gave me Chips Ahoy cookies, and several asked me why I’m leaving with a tone in their voice that conveyed my physical demise was about to begin.

So today, once again, I’m attacking the writing of the final book (Book 4) in my RED HOT novel series, creating the further adventures of middle-schooler Ethan Thomas and his flaming redheaded friend, Randy “Red Hot” Bowman. The previous three and a half weeks have provided me with new fodder for the fiction.

To that Ethan Thomas would probably say, “Jiminy Cricket!”

The Ethans of Life

September 5, 2021

One of the main characters in my RED HOT novel series is a middle school boy named Ethan Thomas. As Book 1 begins, the reader discovers that Ethan has thick-lensed eyeglasses, a buzz haircut, freckles, is short, and has no friends. He’s the kid that is there but nobody sees.

I developed his character out of some of my memories of middle school more than a half-century ago. I was the shortest kid in my class, had a buzz haircut, and wore glasses, although they didn’t have thick lenses. I did have friends, but always had that feeling of inadequacy as a result of my 4 foot 8 inch height in seventh-grade.

Now that I’m teaching a seventh-grade class (although I’m done this coming week), I see the Ethan’s that still side-step people walking down the hallway, the kids who long to belong but don’t quite jump over that wall with its constantly changing boundaries.

I can see it as they enter the classroom. Which students are chattering away with one another as they enter the room and which students come in with eyes lowered, unsure if someone will say something that causes them to feel smaller than they already are?

I see it as certain students stand in front of their lockers. They are the ones whose faces are almost buried inside the place that holds there possessions, hiding as best as they can from the mass of peers who crowd their space. The Ethan’s want to be noticed, and yet they have a fear that if they are noticed it will be in a demeaning sort of way.

I see them in the cafeteria sitting alone, or sitting as if they are a fenceposts between two groups of students, not a part of either groups’ conversations, just a student to indicate where one group ends and the other group begins. The Ethan’s sit there with their heads down and trying to eat their lunches in front of them that have lost their taste.

I see them in the classes where the assignment has students teaming up in groups of three or four. The Ethan’s become the filler that the teacher ends up assigning to a group. Sometimes the response from the group is positive, but sometimes a deep sigh can be heard in their acceptance of the one who has been put upon them. The Ethan’s are often afraid of contributing anything to the group out of a fear of being laughed at, even though great ideas percolate within him/her.

The thing is the Ethan’s of middle schools have the seeds of greatness, the potential to be heroes, the hearts to empathize, the imaginations to create, and the minds to figure out what needs to be done and can be done. In their loneliness amongst the masses they can make the difference between a school being just a school and a school being a great place of learning and developing life-long friendships.

Back to my growing-up days even though “growing” seemed to be the thing that eluded me. There were a few boys who made the difference for me. Mike Bowman and Terry Kopchak pulled me along with him during my 8th and 9th grade years when we lived in Zanesville, Ohio. Dave Hughes and Mike Fairchild picked me up through my last three years of high school after my family had moved to Ironton, Ohio. Those four guys made the difference. They got my face out of its locker hiding spots, made lunch a time of conversation instead of me feeling like a fencepost, and made me laugh just as much as I made them chuckle.

I pray that the Ethan’s I see everyday in our school hallways will find friends like that. Or, perhaps I should say, I hope they will be found by friends like that.

Storyline Life Lessons

August 2, 2021

The third book in my RED HOT novel series was the most challenging and interesting book to write so far. Those who had already read the first two books in the series were anxiously anticipating the next part of the story. That created a bit of anxiety in my creative spirit. It needed to be good. Not that the first two books weren’t good, but this needed to be even a bit better.

When you write a sequel your readers already have pictures of the characters and their quirks, qualities, and shortcomings. New readers new to be introduced to them and bring them up to speed and who’s who without having to tell the whole story again. Continuing readers want to know what happens next to the protagonist, the antagonist, and the character that has tugged on their heartstrings.

A lot of questions go through a writer’s mind: What new characters can still be introduced? What new plot twists can be written that aren’t too much a reach for the reader? With a number of characters already introduced in the series, how can the storyline be written that is able to involve all of them, or do a couple need to disappear into the margins? Since the third book is further along in time, are there changes that need to be may in some of the adolescent’s lives, like getting a driver’s license or having a growth spurt?

A lot of thinking went into the plot formation before the writing began. And then there’s the life lessons. RED HOT is about friendship, seeing that everyone has value, rising above the low expectations of others, respecting one another, forgiveness, and grace. It’s about one boy who no one seems to see and another boy who can’t be missed. It’s about that kid in every school grade that seems to be invisible to his classmates as if he doesn’t matter, and another kid with bright red hair and extraordinary talent who everyone notices. It’s about an unlikely friendship that becomes an unbreakable bond. It’s a story about faith and prayer and rescue.

I received a note from the mom of a 6th Grade boy last week. He had read the latest book Red Hot: New Peace in Fleming in three days and loved it. A 75-year-old former high school basketball coach that my sister knows had received the first book in the series, read it in five days, and called my sister to find out where he could get Book 2. His two grown daughters response: “Dad, you read a book?”

Life lessons. I love writing stories that resonate with teachable moments and important values.

Last night, four from my oldest daughter’s family joined me in a Facebook Live reading of the first two chapters. What fun it was as we took on the voices of different characters!

And yes, I’ve started writing the fourth and final book in the series, Red Hot: New Hope in Fleming. And yes-yes, it is looking to be even more of a challenge than Book 3!

The Second Book

July 13, 2020

Getting a book published, using one of Jesus’s sayings, has been as easy as getting a camel through the eye of a needle. Rejection letters…er, email…have dotted my inbox. Mind you, I’m not whining- okay, maybe I am a little bit- it’s just being at that crossroads of doubt and belief. I’ve had friends who have told me, as they’ve firmed up their jaws, that my first book NEEDED to be published. It was that good. Since they’re connected to one of the Christian publishing companies (that, unfortunately, only publishes non-fiction) I’ve believed what they’re saying. On the other hand, there’s the rejection letters. IO know, I know, everyone who is looking to be published receives rejection letters, but that doesn’t make it easy to shrug them off and dance through a field of sunflowers.

So I went the Kindle Direct Publishing route. In other words, I decided on self-publishing through Amazon/Kindle. So far out of 11 reviews of my first novel, Red Hot: New Life in Fleming, the book has received 10 five-star ratings and 1 four-star. It’s been read by kids as young as 9 and adults as old as 70+. RED Hot Edit.jpg

The second book (Red Hot: New Grace in Fleming) came out last week. Once again, it’s through Amazon. Both books are “coming of age” stories centered on two main characters who become unlikely best friends. One, Randy “Red Hot” Bowman, is the new kid who has moved to Fleming, West Virginia. His hair is so red it looks like it’s on fire. But Red Hot also becomes his nickname on the basketball court because of his unbelievable talent for shooting a basketball. Ethan Thomas, two years younger than Randy, lives across the street and has to wear eyeglasses that have lens as thick as the bottom of RC Cola pop bottles. Before Randy moves to town Ethan was able to count the number of friends he had on less than one finger. He’s the favorite target of the two school bullies, and most of his teachers don’t believe he’s capable of doing anything more than mediocre.

In a fiction world of fantasy, science fiction, zombies, and dragons, the Red Hot Series tells of life in a 1990’s small town that is entertaining, realistic, but also carried important lessons about friendships, forgiveness, faith, and grace.

You can read the Amazon reviews of Red Hot: New Life in Fleming and order it in paperback ($11.99) or Kindle ($2.99). It’s also available for those who have Kindle Unlimited.

Coming Up With A Title

September 12, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          September 12, 2017

                                     

I enjoy writing. It’s where I drink most of my coffee, while sitting on a stool at Starbucks at 7:30 in the morning…or at one of the lower level tables at our local library. I don’t know if it’s the caffeine that gets the words percolating or the comfortableness of the writing spot. My life is now a mixture of writing, coaching, substitute teaching, Sunday preaching, and grandpa-ing!

I recently completed the manuscript of a book I’ve been compiling for a while. Over the summer I was able to put more time into it and, finally, came to the words “THE END” about three weeks ago. A teaching friend, Marise DeKlerk, and a long-time friend, Diana Stucky, are doing editing of the manuscript for me and offering suggestions. Diana, especially, has given me some great feedback that has helped me to strengthen the characters and storyline.

The only thing is…I can’t figure out what to title the book! Titles make people take notice! I spend a lot of time at my public library looking for a new book to read. I survey the shelves that hold countless titles in numerous categories. The title draws me in…or not! I can only read one book at a time, and here I have a multitude of choices.

The book is about a boy named Randy who has moved to a new town, Fleming, West Virginia, with his family as he is about to enter his freshman year of high school. His father is a Baptist pastor coming Fleming to pastor the First Baptist Church. Randy has bright red hair that makes him stand out. He is a young man of great character and humbleness…who also happens to be a very, very good basketball player. He befriends Ethan, the seventh grader who lives across the street from him, and who is seen as being the weird kid in his class because of his thick eyeglasses and awkwardness. Randy’s basketball talent draws attention to him from around the state, but it never changes who he is…a person of character who understands that basketball is just a game, and there are more important things in life.

I could title the book simply “Randy”, or “Shots from Red”, or “New Kid”, or “New Freshman”, or “Bowman” (his last name!). I could go with location and title it “Fleming”, or “The Flame of Fleming”, do basketball specific titles like “Swish!” or “Roundball!”

None of those, however, really catch my eye! I’m stuck! I’m at a loss! How can I write a great story but be clueless about what to call it?