Go ahead, judge the book by its cover... for now
Lose Yourself releases April 2, 2024
We are four months away from the release of Lose Yourself. As discussed last month, it’s been a long road to get here. And as we get closer and other pieces move into place, I am amazed at the amount of time and effort a project like this takes… and I did it.
With my first novel, Friends in Low Places, my entire goal was to get it done. Take the idea and create reality. After all, I tried to write a novel twice before, and I inevitably stalled a third of the way and abandoned those projects. With FILP, finishing it was the accomplishment.
With Lose Yourself, I had the confidence I could do it. But now, what can I do that’s different and is not the same story as before? I went back to my dream of writing a baseball novel and totally changed things up. Instead of taking place over 20 years, now the story takes place in one day, half of it during the course of a single game. Where everything in FILP revolved around a singular group of friends, Lose Yourself is six separate, but interconnected stories.
And as we move toward release date, I’m proud to announce that you can (for now) judge the book by its cover.
What do you think?
About a year ago, I shared some cover concepts and this was a clear favorite. There are some changes to it and the back cover reveals that it’s more than just about baseball. But when you find an image that visually conveys the message, you exploit it.
One thing the cover doesn’t reveal? The location of the game and the teams playing.
A couple of reasons for that. Trademarks for one. Secondly, one of the teams is moving to another state.
Since I finished the first draft, this spectre of relocation has hung over my book like a dark cloud. You see, Lose Yourself, takes place in a fictional reality where there is a team in Oakland and its All-Star Brett Austen is on the verge of a major accomplishment.
Ever since rumors began to surface about possible moves, I have lamented on whether to change the setting. There are other teams. There are other locales. Heck, there’s a team across the Bay in San Francisco. Would a novel discarding the current reality of the team offend the fans? Just the mere presence of the novel brings more attention to the divorce between the team and the city. Is it the right thing to do for the story?
There’s another reality. Before official news of relocation, I requested access to personnel and facilities to gain better insights into the world of gameday operations. The front office was very gracious and allowed me to talk to the people who serve the fans every day. I found the character of my book during those tours and interviews and I’m thankful to the organization for that opportunity.
But as I watched the team make moves toward Las Vegas, I tried to reconcile my fictional team and the reality that Oakland will soon not have any sports team. I have several memories of going to the Oakland Coliseum. I was there when Jeremy Giambi didn’t slide in the 2001 AL Division Series. I was there for two Raider playoff games. The only time I have ever been on a Jumbotron was when we were dancing in the bleachers at my bachelor party. When my wife and I were first married, going to dollar Wednesdays, meant a date night for under $5. It’s heartbreaking and yet the reality of modern-day sports.
Ultimately, I’m moving forward. The story I’m telling embraces the East Bay and the wide diversity of the region. It is a celebration of the fans and the culture that Oakland baseball brought to the world for more than 50 years. In reality, this book is a tribute and I hope it’s not a reminder that it will end, but how it was.
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Side of Mustard…
I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving. Many folks have written far more meaningful words on the meaning of Thanksgiving, gratitude, and family.
On this post-Thanksgiving post, I want to thank my writing critique group. Rich, Erin and AG’s feedback impacted the story, the writing and characters. They encouraged, questioned, clarified and revealed characteristics that I didn’t even know exisited. Each month, we read a chapter from each other’s book, then get together for coffee and talk writing, publishing, and life. It’s an unexpected joy to have a group of people with similar creative aims go deep into process, barriers and celebrations. Talking with them brings life to the characters that only have previously lived in my head.
Whatever is our creative endeavors, whether it is writing, music, sculpture, woodworking, theater, we should all find a group to dig deep into the process. These discussions are restorative, acknowledgement of the struggles we face, and encouraging to move forward. You need a group that fits you of course. The wrong people can make the group toxic. But finding the right one is magic.