Thanks to the Coffee Cups and Camisoles Gals for hosting me today! It is an honor to be in a collection with these gals. Working on this project was so much fun, and I am so glad to have been included. Thanks for inviting me, Gabrielle, and group hug to all of the authors!
My story, The Right Pitch, is about a wealthy debutante who organizes a charity ladies’ baseball game that takes place on Independence Day during the Centennial Celebration in Philadelphia, July 4, 1876. I had a blast learning about the one hundredth anniversary of American independence, and it was fun to set a story where the Declaration of Independence was signed.
I also enjoyed researching vintage baseball, which plays a role in the story.
If you know me or ever had PE with me, you know I am the kid who got excited for Silent Reading time in school, and you’re probably shocked that I wrote a story where the heroine plays a sport. I am not now, nor ever was, athletic. That’s not to say I didn’t try.
As a kid, I “played” “baseball” in the street in front of my house with my brother and the neighbor kids. We lived on a hill, and my house faced an upward slope, so we would bat in that direction. Still, it’s a wonder we never broke a car window.
I should note that while I’m not the fastest runner or the bravest player when it comes to spiking a volleyball that’s flying a million miles an hour at my nose, I do enjoy watching sports. I can be quite an enthusiastic fan. Still, I never would have thought of writing a sports-inspired romance unless someone challenged me to do so.
Pick a sport, one of my friends said. Write a novella where it plays a role.
Baseball fit well into the theme of a Gilded Age-set story, because this was when the first “official” ladies’ teams came about: they were groups of mostly leisure-class young women with the spare time to play and the funds to purchase equipment (balls and bats, but no gloves or uniforms!). Their teams were also short-lived and tended to be either recreational or promotional. Vassar formed two teams at the request of its students in 1866, and within ten years, teams of Blondes played Brunettes all over America.
There are umpteen baseball idioms and analogies between baseball and life/love. Step up to the plate. Strike out. Hit a home run. Bases loaded. How could I resist trying my hand at a romance with some baseball in it?
Baseball takes courage, teamwork, thought, patience, skill, and risk. Hero Beck, an injured Civil War veteran with a battered heart, and heroine Winnie, a debutante who’s brave about everything but speaking up to her father, come together for a bigger cause, and find that the principles that make a baseball team stronger just might help them in life and love, too.
Winnie and her friends on the team were all fictional, but the real women who inspired Winnie’s team, the Liberty Belles, opened the way for girls of all ages and classes to play America’s pastime in the coming years. Even girls like me, who never hit the ball out of the park, are free to enjoy the fun, thanks to the women who came before me.
The Right Pitch:
It’s a fair pitch: the guarded owner of a rail works will sponsor the local ladies’ baseball team if they let his capricious sister play ball. But the team’s pretty pitcher throws him a curveball when she insists he take an active role in team management, and it’s clear she has a game plan of her own—one that threatens his well-protected heart. He may have two strikes against him in the game of love, but she’s used to batting a thousand, and this may be a game he won’t be able to win.
Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she's the award-winning author of over a dozen historical romances who's seen her work on the ECPA and Publisher's Weekly Bestseller Lists for Inspirational Fiction. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne lives in California and enjoys fancy-schmancy tea parties, genealogy, the beach, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos. Her most recent novel is My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho.
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Your Turn: Do you enjoy playing sports? Or would you rather watch? What's your favorite sport to play? Which one(s) do you enjoy watching?