A Week Later

December 22, 2014

I’ve had a novel out for a week now, and I feel ready, finally, to sit down and write about the process and the result a little bit.

The Writing

Sparrow followed a different process than anything else I’d ever written. It wasn’t done when I tried (and, in this case, succeeded in) selling it. Having sold it unfinished, I had to title it before it was finished. I also had to write on a theoretical deadline (though I was always way ahead). But most strangely, it was published in serial (not cereal, though that might have been delicious).

I talked about this some on a podcast with my friend Chad Dotson, so forgive me for repeating myself, but writing in serial was weird. It is pretty much impossible to not have the end of each chapter feel like some kind of ending. As such, much of each chapter had to be dedicated to some kind of immediate conflict as I tried hard to work the larger themes in over the course of the book. Also, once something was published, I couldn’t go back and change it. That was really hard. I change what happens in my books quite a lot, and there were several times when I wanted to change something in Sparrow, but I couldn’t. The only substantive difference between the online text and what was published as a book is that I inadvertently inserted an extra out into one inning and had to take it out for the print version (this was a big pain in the butt, but it would have bothered me forever).

So, writing in serial was interesting. It’s something I might repeat one day, but I do think I prefer a longer arc with more time to ruminate. Still, I understand Dickens much better now.

The Publishing & The Shelf

The big thing, of course, is that I now have an actual novel published. I have a copy at home and more coming and it’s real and people who are not my mom have purchased it. That is pretty cool. I said for a long time that if I could publish a book just once, I’d be really thrilled. And it’s true. I am thrilled. But I find that now I am greedy. I want more books published.

You see, some people I really respect have said very nice things about this book and my writing and so, it is hard not to think that maybe I can continue doing this and hope that other stories, that have nothing to do with baseball might eventually find there way into the hands of others.

The coolest thing for me about all of it, has been this: Joe Posnanski blurbed my book. You may not know who Joe Posnanski is, but let me try to explain…

In my house, I have a fancy, glass-fronted bookshelf that my dad made for me a number of years ago. I keep the books that are the most important to me on it. it is filled almost entirely with fiction. Sherwood Anderson, Margaret Atwood, Michael Chabon, Tolstoy. Those kinds of folks. A lot of the writers on there are dead, but some are still kicking. In the small nonfiction section is a book called The Soul of Baseball. it is about former Negro League player Buck O’Neil, and it is the best sports book I have ever read. Joe Posnanski wrote it. And he blurbed my book. Joe Posnanski liked something I wrote and he is on the shelf I reserve, basically, for the best authors I’ve read. This matters a great deal to me. There’s a crack in the door now, and I can see that maybe I belong in that club just a little. Maybe only barely, but if I stand along the back wall, they might let me stay as long as I keep my mouth shut.

And so, in a few days, I’m going to take my little half-inch thick paperback, a mere 226 pages, and I am going to slide it onto that shelf. This is a shelf of books that have felt as though they had the power to change me, and as Michael Chabon once said, the only books that really changed him were the ones he wrote. My first book doesn’t feel, to me, like it belongs there, but at the same time, I can’t imagine anywhere else to put it. I hope, in time, it comes to feel comfortable there.

What’s Next

I finished Sparrow in August, and for a while, I didn’t write a thing (as you can see if you look back at this blog), but I’ve started to feel like I have something to say again. And, as it happens, I have three projects that are currently “in-progress.” One is a collection of inter-connected stories. Another is a short children’s book involving fairies. And then there’s the novel I was working on before Sparrow, which involves, among other things, reindeer herding. I’m eager to work on and finish all of those and then send them out into the world.

The point, I guess, is that I’m busy and writing again, though it probably won’t be in the public eye much for a while. Whenever I can get a little time away from my job, I’ll be writing on something, until I finish it, and then I’ll probably catch my breath until, as Barry Hannah wrote, the voices start up again and I have to get down to work and do something about it.

When the Sparrow Sings Is Out!

December 15, 2014

If you’re reading this, odds are you know about my book, When the Sparrow Sings, which takes place (mostly) over the course of one baseball game. You know it’s been coming out in bits and pieces all year. But, finally, it’s time for a full release.

You can easily buy the book here or at Amazon. If you use the first link, I get a bigger cut, but I’ll be thrilled with each and every purchase. I really will. It’s a lot of work to write a novel, and it’s great to have it published, but it’s even better to have people buy it and read it and show that they value the work you do. Plus, there are fun extras. The book will include the following features:

1. A bonus story
2. A box score of the game
3. 11 illustrations
4. Words that form a story

Those first two are available only if you purchase a copy,

Perhaps the coolest thing is that Joe Posnanski was kind enough to read the book and give us the following snippet which you can find on the back of the book:

“Baseball fiction is hard. Well, all fiction is hard, but baseball fiction is particularly so because the game is so hard to capture. What makes Jason Linden’s When the Sparrow Sings so compelling is that it is easy to forget that it is fiction. The baseball feels authentic and close and — like the real thing — so fleeting.”

If you’re still wondering what the book is about, here’s the synopsis from the back, which carefully avoids giving away plot stuff:

Zack Hiatt is the best pitcher on maybe the best team in baseball, and he is going to the World Series. Zack’s arrival on the big stage is the culmination of his father’s dream as much as his own, and Zack has the scars to prove it. But before he can even throw a pitch in the Series, his father dies in a tragic car accident.

The first question – whether or not to pitch – isn’t even a question. He has to pitch. The world demands it of him. And so he does. What follows is a story about trying to hold it together when you shouldn’t have to and about the memories our parents leave with us when they’re gone.

Okay, that’s it! Go buy a copy!

PENULTIMATE!

October 20, 2014

The second to last chapter of When the Sparrow Sings is up now. I promise that it is extra good times. You should read it. Soon, it will be available for purchase. Neat, huh? Okay, here you go.

Oh yeah, a chapter

September 22, 2014

So, I have been remiss. A new chapter went up last week and I completely forgot to link it here. It’s been harder keeping track since I actually finished the book and sent it off. I mean, I know I should make sure to pay lots of attention, and I try, but I am imperfect.

Anyway, here it is. After this, there are two chapters left. Then a book that people can buy will come out with bonus content and stuff.

The Top of the Seventh

August 19, 2014

The newest chapter of When the Sparrow Sings is up. I like this chapter. Like, I really like it. It’s my favorite part of the book.

Go forth, and read it.

The Sixth Inning

July 28, 2014

I recently finished writing When the Sparrow Sings (which is why I haven’t been blogging much), but there are still several months of chapter to be posted. Today, it’s the sixth inning, which is the seventh of eleven chapters. Read it here and enjoy.

The Fifth Inning

June 23, 2014

Chapter six of eleven in When the Sparrow Sings is now up and ready for you all to read. This means, if you are good at simple math that more than half the book is now available. I’m in the process of finishing up the last bits now. Soon, it will be available for everyone to buy.

So go read the new chapter. It’s good, I promise!

Fourth Inning

May 31, 2014

I was remiss earlier this week and forgot to link my newest chapter. The fourth inning of When the Sparrow Sings is available here. Go read it.

Does This Matter?

May 16, 2014

Holy Crap Reader,

I have not written a new post in a long time. The last thing to go up here was on the Alfredo Simon rape accusations. That was a pretty weird thing. I posted it here because it went up, then down, then back up at Redleg Nation where I have been writing about Reds baseball for several years. It probably generated as much notoriety as anything I’ve ever written, which surprises me, even though ti shouldn’t. All I did was lay out the facts and demonstrate that if someone says an athlete raped them, they are very, very likely to be telling the truth. This caused an uproar because we live in a a strange world.

Which actually kind of leads into some other thoughts I’ve been having. It has struck me, recently, how crowded the internet is. There are so many people talking so much about every topic you can imagine that nearly anything one does is already being done somewhere else. It makes it even more inexcusable that so much of what is in the mainstream is so terrible. I generally think that what I put up is well-thought and well-written, but I worry about adding to the cacophony. It’s had me thinking about ceasing to blog anywhere at all. That’s probably not going to happen. I’m too much of a producer for that. But it might.

Further life musings…

Things are approaching mellow in my life (sort of). Cate has a new business and it’s getting off the ground pretty well and making us a little more financially relaxed than we ever have been. We’ve been secure for a long time, but it’s been tight a lot. It’s nice to be able to buy a book or an album and not have to feel guilty about it.

Of course, fewer monetary concerns are pretty much the only thing making my life more mellow. I’ve been going like crazy on the book (new chapter coming soon) because I really want it put to bed by the end of June so I can have one solid month of no responsibilities. Writing in serial has been very interesting. I’m still gathering my thoughts about it, but I know I’ll be glad when I’m done.

My daughter is about to turn five, and that seems impossible.

It is almost summer vacation. I love teaching except for the last month of every school year when I want all of education to burn down. I am tired. I want to sleep in some.

That’s all for now. See you sooner or later.

Third Inning

April 22, 2014

When the Sparrow Sings is truckin’ along. The third inning is out now. Go read it here.