Monday, March 13, 2017

Book of the Week & Interview: The Lord of the Infield Flies by Steve Reilly


Title: THE LORD OF THE INFIELD FLIES
Author: Steve Reilly
Publisher: Strong Books
Pages: 126
Genre: Sports Memoir

The Lord of the Infield Flies will thrill readers with Coach Steve Reilly’s harrowing, challenging, and adventuresome baseball team’s trek from Connecticut to play in Maine. As a prequel to his award winning memoir, The Fat Lady Never Sings, Reilly, a high school baseball coach, narrates the true story from the beginning of his coaching career at the age of 20. In summer 1977, Reilly plans to take his high-school-age team on a weekend trip to the baseball mecca on Cape Cod to play a Massachusetts all-star team. When plans go awry, he jumps at an offer to take the players instead to the serene surroundings of southern Maine to play that state’s all-star team. Most of the team’s starters decline; their hearts had been set on “The Cape.” Determined to go through with his commitment, Reilly gathers ten players to make the four-hour trip in a cabin truck and his car on a Friday night. Will the team arrive in time to battle Maine’s best the following morning?

After his legal alcohol-age players convince him to stop at a package store on the way to buy just a “few beers” for the idyllic cabin they will be staying at in the resort area of Old Orchard Beach, they exit the package store with hand trucks filled with cases of beer. Chaos reigns. The cabin truck with its inebriated players gets separated from Reilly’s vehicle, losing half the team traveling in the opposite direction in Massachusetts! Will the team ever get to Maine? Will the team play Maine’s all-stars? And, will the players make it back to Connecticut?  

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon


Book Excerpt:

March 25, 2005

T
HE PEARL WHITE DOOR opened before me. A gaunt man wearing a gray pin-striped suit and goatee held the door open with his left hand and gestured with his right hand for me to enter. As I passed through the door, nervousness came over me. The strong scent of roses reminded me where I was. A pedestal sign directed me to go left. After an elderly couple crossed my path with their heads down, another pedestal sign directed me to the right down a narrow hallway. To my surprise, the hallway was empty. At the end of the hallway stood a wooden pedestal with a gold banker’s lamp lit above an open book. I grasped the pen from the slot carved in the pedestal and signed the book like a schoolboy as I made sure my penmanship was within the lines. I picked up a small card from a slot in back of the pedestal and put it in the pocket of my dress shirt; there would be plenty of time to read the poem later. With no one in front of me, I stood alongside the doorway as if waiting for permission to enter, but none was needed. As I stood in the doorway about to enter the quiet room, I thought about the summer of 1977 and my Senior Babe Ruth baseball team’s trip to Maine the last weekend of July.


About the Author

Since 1976, Steve Reilly, a practicing attorney, has coached high school baseball in Connecticut’s Lower Naugatuck Valley. He has spent the last thirty years assisting other high school coaches and is currently in his seventeenth season at Seymour High. Reilly and his wife, Suzanne, live in Seymour, Connecticut.

His latest book is the sports memoir, The Lord of the Infield Flies.     

Website & Social Links:

Interview:

Q: Welcome to the Writers Life! Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process. Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning? Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

Well, this is the second sports memoir that I have published. I wanted to write my first book before I turned fifty years old and decided to write a memoir about a high school baseball team in Derby, Connecticut I was involved with in 1992. It was a story of redemption for some football players who allowed a long streak of successful football seasons to end. Most of the players on the baseball team also played on the high school’s football team. Despite being much maligned in football, the same players won a state baseball championship in extra innings after erasing a two-run deficit with two outs in the final inning of regulation play. The book, The Fat Lady Never Sings, was published in 2006.

The first team I coached was a high school age Summer baseball team in Derby when I was twenty years old.  In my second year of coaching the team, most of my players had played in the Spring on Derby High’s 1977 state championship baseball team. After The Fat Lady Never Sings was published, some of the players on my summer of 1977 team wondered why I had not written about them. Last year, one of my players on the 1977 summer team met with an untimely death. He was the second of my players on that 1977 team to pass away at a relatively young age. I wrote The Lord of the Infield Flies in large part to keep the memory of those unique players alive as well as to assist a scholarship fund created in memory of one of the deceased players with a local community foundation called the Valley Community Foundation. All sales proceeds, not just profits, received from sales of the book are going to the fund.

Q. How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you can pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

It was at times difficult because of the fact I was writing about two of my prior players who had passed at relatively young ages. But it also allowed me to recall some very fond memories about a unique group of players.   

Since this is now my second memoir, I think have reached the stage where I can provide some hints to individuals thinking about writing a memoir to make their journey easier. Here are seven:
Firstly, if you are new to this, before choosing which way to go read everything you can about the publishing process including mainstream publishing, what is sometimes called assisted self publishing or vanity publishing, and self publishing. The internet is filled with articles and videos of what it’s all about. But, before engaging anyone to assist you with any of this, check out websites such as “Writers Beware” and “Preditors and Editors” to find out who isn’t reputable. Read current and back issues of magazines such as “The Writer” and “Writers Digest” for all kinds of hints and advice. Your local public library usually carries one or the other. 

Secondly, the best advice I think I got from an editor of my first book was to keep in mind when you are writing the first line of any paragraph or page, “Why should anybody care?” That mindset keeps your focus on the reader and your story and not on yourself. With that mindset you will be thinking about whether or not there is any tension created by your writing or your story or your descriptions of your characters.

Thirdly, a memoir is not an autobiography, so narrow your focus.

Fourth, get an editor. If you desire to make your writing of publishable quality, there is no substitute. Get one you can work with and make contact with. Assisted self-publishing companies can provide you with editing services for a charge, but they will likely not let you make direct contact with who they choose to hire. Many editors will provide you with an edit of your first chapter or a few pages. Once you see what they do, you will agree you need one. 
     
Fifth, create interesting dialogue and lots of it. Readers like dialogue. My first editor hounded me to add more dialogue after reading each of my drafts. It reminded me of Christopher Walken’s “more cowbell” skit on Saturday Night Live! However, if you are writing a memoir be careful of what you are writing. Don’t just make things up that never happened or you could run into trouble as James Fray did.  

Sixth, if you are self-publishing, engage the assistance of a professional cover designer. One that will make your cover stand out. I recommend Damonza.com as they do excellent work and are very responsive to your needs and desires.  

Seven, whether you are self publishing or not, unless you are a celebrity you will be doing the marketing yourself. No matter how good you think your book is, it won’t sell itself. Get your hands on the book “1001 Ways to Market Your Books” by John Kremer or Brian Jud’s book “How to Get Real Money Selling Books.” It will open your eyes up as to what others are doing to sell books.
       
 Q. Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self publish?

The Publisher is Strong Books, a small publishing company based in Avon, Connecticut. I found them from my association with the Connecticut Authors and Publisher’s Association(CAPA). The founder of CAPA, Brian Jud, a nationally known book marketer is associated with Strong Books.
  
Q. Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Yes. That it took longer to edit the book than it took to write the first draft and how hard it was to market the book. I learned quickly that someone may very well have a desire to read your book but getting them to buy it is another matter. 

Q. What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published? 

I am thinking about writing a third memoir but this time it may not be about my coaching experiences. I am also thinking about jumping into the fiction arena, maybe legal mysteries. Everybody loves a mystery don’t they?    

Q. What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

I think the fact that I am donating all the proceeds of the book to a scholarship fund named after a character in the book.

Q. Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

Like one of the themes of the Lord of the Flies, where children left to their own devices might end up killing themselves, the same may be said about teenage boys. Also, sometimes you have the fondest memories of the players who are the most difficult to coach, but live their lives without fear. Their example can motivate you to do something more with your life.  

Q. Thank you again for this interview! Do you have any final words?

While writing a book can be a very daunting and frustrating task at times, it’s still worth the effort!