If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Check out our February author interviews: 2/7-debut author Keenan Powell (Alaskan lawyer), 2/14-Leslie Wheeler (Rattlesnake Hill), 2/21-bestselling author Krista Davis, who unveils a new series, 2/28-Diane Vallere answers my questions about Pajama Frame. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our February Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 2/3-Saralyn Richard, 2/10-Kathryn Lane. WWK's Margaret H. Hamilton will blog on 2/17, and Kait Carson on 2/24.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Homers and Singles

Growing up, one of my baseball heroes was Mickey Mantle. In 1960 he and Hank Aaron were the stars of television’s Home Run Derby. I was an impressionable nine at the time and wanted to model my swing after the home run hitters and “swing for the fences.”

A few years later a baseball coach reminded me that before I could score, I needed to get to first base. Swinging for the fences and striking out didn’t help the team as much as consistently getting on base. Had the coach known I idolized the Mick, he could have reminded me that Mantle averaged .298 over his eighteen seasons and had a career on base percentage of .421. While his 536 home runs were impressive, more impressive are his total 2,415 hits and 1,733 bases on balls (which exceeded his strike-outs by a few). Mantle got on base—a lot.

How, you may be wondering, is this recitation of Mickey Mantle’s baseball statistics related to writing? Trust me a bit longer, for I do believe there is a link.

I had idolized Mickey and tried to swing for the fences, but I wasn’t built for home runs. I needed to emulate Mantle’s other skills. I shortened my swing and became a singles and doubles hitter. I learned to steal bases to advance my chances to score. I learned to bunt well. With my speed, the fear of my bunting caused infields to draw in, making it easier to hit singles. And I learned the proper way to use my speed to steal bases once I got on base.

I became a more skilled player. Still, there were others much better at the game than I was. One day the track coach watched one of our practices and noticed I was a natural sprinter. The track team had great middle and long distance runners, and it had some kids who were very good at the field events. It needed a top-notch sprinter to round out the team and give it a chance to get to the states.

My senior year I dropped baseball and ran track, becoming the team’s top sprinter and winning my events frequently. Sadly we didn’t take the states.

Like any great, Mickey Mantle had lots to teach me. I started by learning the wrong lessons. Only after I learned to shorten my swing in order to get on base more often could my speed catch the track coach’s eye. It doesn’t take much speed to walk back to the bench after striking out.

With writing, once again, I want to be a long ball hitter. I want to write novels that people will read, and I am working hard to learn to do that well. At the same time, I try other forms of creative expression including nonfiction, short stories and flash. Each effort improves my overall writing skills, and that’s one reason I choose to write short pieces. [See my 2010-06-15 post for other reasons.]

Yesterday I picked up the September issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and when I got to the story that won the March Mysterious photo contest discovered the third honorable mention went to James Montgomery Jackson of Amasa, MI. “Hey!” I said. “That’s me!” (I said it with both exclamation marks, using up a month’s supply.) Earlier this year I had a flash piece published in Flashshot and with another short piece I scored an honorable mention in a contest.

Maybe it will turn out I’m a sprinter in writing as well as in track, and these three recognitions are similar to the track coach suggesting I had a better future running track than playing baseball. I’m not yet convinced and so I continue to pour 90% of my energy into my novels. However, I’m thinking maybe I should hedge my bets a bit more and write a few more short pieces.

What do you think?

~ Jim

PS if you are interested in reading my entry to the AHMM contest, send me an email and I'll send you a copy.


Ramona said...

Jim, your two linked pieces were touching and certainly worthy of publication. I don't know about changing your focus, but you have a lovely short voice.

E. B. Davis said...

You've already written a lot of great shorts. Try a change of venue and send some of them out to different mags and ezines.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

Thanks for the comments. Time (and perhaps luck)will tell what kind of writing I will do best in.

~ Jim