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Thank you for your interest in my writing.
This is my "sharing" space where you'll find extra scenes, short stories, and sneak peeks of what's coming next.
If you ask 100 writers how they write, you'll get 150 answers. Personally, I like to sketch scenes in different forms. Sometimes I'll write little plays or journal as one of my characters. While vital to my process, most of my scribblings don't make it into a manuscript, or beyond short story form. But occasionally there's a gem or two too juicy to keep buried ~ they're not always polished and perfect, but I'm happy to share them with you here!
Edith Houghton photograph appears courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
(No spoilers here!)
The following is an introduction to Adelaine, the antagonist in
Adelaine was inspired by the trailblazing life of Edith Houghton, the first woman to solo scout for Major League Baseball. An ace player in her own right, Edith approached the new owner of the Philadelphia Phillies in 1946 to ask for a job in scouting. At the time, baseball was divided on integration, making Edith's proposal both timely and gutsy.
The borrowed shoes rub her feet raw and the scrapbook under her arm grows heavy, adding to her uneven gait. But she keeps her pace, past Shibe Park’s award cases and the trophy stands, the silver urns burnished with the Toms, Dicks and Harrys—never a Jane, a Mary or an Adelaine. She catches bits of Philadelphia through the arches in the concourse. The skyline flat and low, dimensionless against the late fall sky. Adelaine—Addie to family and teammates, stops to salute the stars and stripes flying in left field, then rounds the concourse behind the centerfield stands, her heels damp, a mush of skin and stockings. Shibe is bland and unimpressive, a contradiction to the colorful Cornelius “Connie” Mack and his team, the Philadelphia A’s. She’d rather be meeting Connie today, he’s a hoot, but the A’s are already an institution, so she’s taking her pitch to the Phillies, the new team in town, and Connie has been kind enough to offer his office. At the next corridor, Addie hangs a left and pushes through the utility doors; they bounce against each other with a ting. She pauses to gather a breath of the ozone-like smell of cement and metal. With another breath she relaxes her features, it wouldn’t be the first time she sucked up to a man who knew less about the game than she did, she just didn’t need him to see condescension in the first thirty seconds. A quick nod to the secretary and Addie straightens her spine, driving open the door to one of baseball’s inner shrines. Wally Dreyfuss is parked behind Connie’s desk and as he rises, she notes narrow shoulders beneath his big-ticket suit. “Nice to finally meet you,” he says, extending a hand. She takes it, and the colognes favored by fancy men pummel her, the department-store aftershave and tobacco that drag the reality of the boardroom into the game. Left up to her, ballparks would only smell of hot dogs and sweat and that funky, earthy odor that shimmers off the pitcher’s mound. “You too, you too,” Addie says, approaching the desk. A dry cough heaves behind her, and she mutters a “dammit,” but smiles anyway and pumps Wally’s hand. “I believe you know Lyle,” Wally gestures to the cougher behind her. “Know of him, yeah,” Addie answers, forced to face the most polarizing human being in organized sports. Everything Connie had said about Dreyfuss led her to believe he was a decent man. How he had chosen retired pitcher Lyle Anderson as his General Manager mystified her. Lounging at the end of a copper-colored couch, flipping a stainless-steel lighter, Anderson pushes blue smoke through his nose while his eyes flit over her body. Addie adjusts her skirt, also on loan from a sister and a size too large, then curses herself for caring. She rolls her shoulders. Anderson smirks, then points to Addie’s scrapbook. “Get a load, Wally, the girl brought you reading material. Or is it homework?” Overriding the cutoff man, Addie addresses Dreyfuss, “I’m here to apply for a job with your Phillies.” “Ooh, or maybe she wants to play teacher,” Anderson continues. Addie crushes her molars into her tongue and prays Dreyfuss will ignore him. “Well, I didn’t peg you for office work, but you met Jeannie out front, she hires all the girls for—” “Not here for office work, Mr. Dreyfuss. I want you to hire me as a scout.” “Ha. First the negroes, now the women,” Anderson chuckles. “Suppose the Puerto Ricans will want their chance at the plate next.” Addie sways. A typewriter clicks in the outer office. Anderson hollers for Jeannie to bring him coffee. Somehow, Dreyfuss blocks out the peanut gallery. “A scout? Interesting. What, exactly, would you say qualifies you for such a position?” Anderson's lighter drops to the floor. “Jesus! Wally, you can’t be serious,” he roars. Dreyfuss holds up a hand to silence him but to no avail. “Missy, go home! Have yourself a gaggle of sons, send them here after you teach ‘em to play catch and I’ll take a look-see.” Addie imagines shouting: If I were a man with my kind of numbers, you’d have twisted your out-to-lunch ass off that couch and be over here begging me to lend my eye, shape your new team, you prick. Instead, she evens out her voice, hoists her album onto the mahogany desk, and says with all the bravado she can muster, “This qualifies me.” Then she steps back, raising her chin to the cheap seats, while sweat gathers around her wrists, chafing the skin under the wool hem. Dreyfuss stares at the cover, rather juvenile, with an appliqué of a baseball as large as a dinner plate. The binder is stuffed, and every newspaper article and clipping is organized, dated, numbered, and indexed in the top corner. Addie knocks her fist against her lips. Anderson coughs, Addie hears his lighter hit the floor again. She does her best to stand still. Dreyfuss’s eyes shift, processing both the weight of her book and her request. With deliberate slowness, he closes the cover. “Adelaine, no one doubts you can play the game. But scouting is a business. One that women don’t—” “Hold on,” she rocks back on heels that certainly need bandages, then hunches forward, inhales the lemon furniture polished ingrained in the desk—god bless her sisters, content with cleaning house and caring for kids. “If I were to evaluate Anderson back there, I’d report that he’s got a weak right ankle. He’s got it propped over his left and he hasn’t stopped kneading it with his palm.” She cocks her head over her shoulder and winks at the crimson-faced ex-player. He scrambles and the couch springs squawk. Raising her voice, she finishes with Dreyfuss, “He’s also let his lighter slip three times. Hands have gone soft; dexterity won’t be what it once was.” Anderson manages to stand, lets out a string of expletives. “Sit yourself down,” Dreyfuss says, rising himself. Addie exhales. Dreyfuss levels her, squints, no doubt gauging her demeanor under pressure. She doesn’t balk. “This isn’t a joke. You want me to hire you as a scout?” Addie digs in and jabs the scrapbook toward him. With the confidence of a .400 hitter she says, “I will find them. I will find them on the high school ball fields and playing pickup games in the sandlots. My boys will have a sense of timing, and a fluidity of movement that comes naturally. Don’t doubt that I know what can be taught and what can’t.” Dreyfuss removes his hands from his tweed pockets and lifts the green book, bounces it a few times across his fingers to assess its weight. He opens it again, flips through the pages, the letters and numbers in the corners dance in animation. “Before I consider this,” he begins, shooting Anderson a warning glare, “don’t you want a husband? Some children?” And there it is: the unfair question. “Your male scouts have spouses? Families?” “Yes, but this is unprecedented… you’ll need to travel, there’s a time investment in future prospects. Baseball will become your life.” Addie snaps, leans forward. Her hose catches on a snag of wood, and she hears the rip of a tear. Time to wrap it up and get out of this asinine outfit. “Doesn’t take an all-star to see it already is,” she says, sliding the album back across the desk and into her arms.
When I finished Chasing Aces, one question remained: what happened at Cowboy's Bar after that pivotal game? Did Bradley cheat on Marian? Only Zander knows...
Zander moved the next toast to lighter ground. “And to the Tucson days, my gullible first roommate.” He moved to clink glasses, but Bradley pulled his away. “I wasn’t that gullible.” “I convinced you I was a vegetarian.” Zander leaned over and tapped the glasses. “While I was eating a cheeseburger.”
(Chasing Aces spoiler alert!)
(Chasing Aces spoiler alert!)
No two characters in Chasing Aces create more of a stir than Zander and Darcy. Which got me thinking: what will happen if I throw them together?
“I don’t even know you,” Darcy said, tucking a strand of red hair behind her ear. Zander snagged two flutes of champagne from a passing waiter. “You’ve been flirting with me all day.” “It’s a wedding.” Darcy raised her glass in a scan of the picture-perfect panorama, the glass-like lake, the guests scattered in small conversations. Something about Zander kept her interested enough to remain on the veranda. “Okay, it’s a wedding. Let’s get to know each other.” She let out a “tsk.” He wasn’t going to like her very much. “Try me,” he said, reading her thoughts. “Fine,” Darcy laid down her champagne glass and crossed her arms. “I’m a thirty-eight-year-old bitch. I chew men up and spit them into the Hudson. I’m flirting with you today because I’m bored. Weddings are an outdated prelude to an institution that invariably fails.” She picked her glass back up. Zander took a second to sift through her sentences. Then he leaned into the crook of her neck, and whispered, “That’s too bad.” She smelled better than expected. Without a thought, he brought his lips to her ear, opened, and snagged her earring between his teeth. It popped into his mouth, the clasp skimming down the front of her dress. Darcy’s eyes went wide, the yellow flecks jumping from their jade background like bumblebees hopping in the grass. Zander had her—he’d heard the gasp catch in her throat. Doing his best not to smile, he fished out his room key, laid it on the bar by Darcy’s champagne. She shook her head. No? What the hell was he supposed to do now, with an earring in his mouth? Darcy used her height to her advantage. There weren’t many men she couldn’t look in the eye, especially in heels. “Let’s make this more interesting,” she cooed, an inch from his mouth. Zander had never heard a woman purr before, but that’s just the sound she made. Talk about mixed signals. She covered his eyes with her cool hands, there was that scent again… “Zander,” she said, “I don’t play fair. You won’t come out of this without scars.” He nodded, completely intoxicated—the rest of the party on the veranda as far away as LA. Darcy pressed closer. There was heat between them, she wouldn’t deny her senses firing. But he had struck first and that wasn’t how she played. “Put your arms around me?” she asked, huskily. With a decisively masculine grunt, Zander slid his hands to her waist, the black silk bunching seductively. His concern over the earring in his mouth growing. “Whatever’s behind your eyelids,” she said, softly, “let it go, thread by thread until all you see is black. Then add me in, Zander, start with my hair… red, on your pillowcase. Red, weaving through your imagination.” Darcy guided him into her fantasy, felt his body respond, his grip on her waist shift, his breathing change. This part she wanted him to watch. One hand under his chin she pulled back, slapping him as hard as she could with the other. The diamond stud fell into her palm. “Don’t you ever take without asking,” she said, evenly, then swiped his room card from the bar.