Monday, August 9, 2021

It's somebody's birthday...

In the summer of 1953, Bruce Bigelow's parents, Hal and Jane, took us on a camping and fishing adventure to a cove a little north of Ft. Ross. It turned out to be an epic weekend. We filled a washtub with fish—black and red snapper, sea trout, cabezon, even a couple of ling cod. But more than the fishing, I fell in love with the place. We called it Timber Cove, though it is a couple of miles south of the resort hotel. I've been back many times since then, bringing friends and family to share my favorite spot on the planet. Here is the poem I wrote, hoping to capture the feeling:

 

Timber Cove

 

Just above Ft. Ross, along the rocky coast

there’s a place that is special to me

where the highway bends to embrace

a lovely ocean cove.

 

The path down to the narrow beach

is deeply cut and worn

for divers, fishermen and lovers

know this place so well.

 

A great rock sits at water’s edge

its base washed by a stream

that flows from a redwood canyon

wound deep into the hills

 

Beside that tumbling stream

hand in hand with those I love

sunlight through the redwoods high above

I’ve walked in God’s cathedral by the sea.

 

We lost Bruce in March. Today would have been his eightieth birthday. Happy Birthday, Brucie. And thanks for the memories.

 CWS

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Friday, June 18, 2021

A dear protagonist...

 

Spitball – The Literary Baseball Magazine, was established in 1981. Currently published twice a year
(spring and fall), it is a compilation of news, reviews, poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. For the Spring 2021 issue, editor Mike Shannon decided to try something different: All the stories and poems are based on actual events. My story, “The Last Laugh,” is one of them. (By the way, that’s White Sox Hall of Famer Nellie Fox on the cover.)


 

My protagonist (love that word!) in “The Last Laugh” is none other than Bruce Bigelow. Bruce passed away in March of this year. I’m not sure of the cause, but I know he’d had a difficult recovery from coronary bypass surgery. In our phone conversations, I could tell he was not doing well.

 

Many reading this post are old Vallejoans who knew Bruce and remember him as a friend, athlete, classmate (VHS Class of ’59), and a thoroughly unforgettable character. “The Last Laugh” is about a baseball game—Vallejo High vs. St. Vincent’s—in Spring 1959. If you were there, you’ll remember it well, and you’ll say, “Now I know the rest of the story.”

 

I met Bruce in 1949 when his parents bought the house across the street on the corner of Buss and Russell. He became a dear friend and I loved him like a brother. We had some wild adventures together, including recent years when he would travel from New Mexico and spend a few days with me over the Fourth of July holiday.

 

Bruce was more than just a wild and crazy guy. Case in point: Spring 2005, I was working a consulting assignment at AT&T on a monster project that generated unbelievable stress. I was overwhelmed, broken, unable to sleep, barely able to function. Bruce happened to call during this time, and he could tell I was in trouble. He proceeded to call me every day for several weeks, just to check in and make sure I was okay. Eventually, my contract ended, I moved on and recovered. But I’ll never forget those daily phone calls and what a blessing it was to have such a friend.

 

Rest in peace, Brucie.

 You won’t see Spitball on Amazon or the other retail sites, but if you are a dyed-in-the-flannel baseball fan, you will find subscription information at www.spitballmag.com. Check it out—it’s a fun website to noodle around. Also, I plan to post “The Last Laugh” right here on this fine blog. As Rachel Maddow likes to say, “Watch this space.”

 

CWS

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Wednesday, June 2, 2021

'Tis the season for anthologies...

Heather Tosteson and Charles Brockett are co-founders and co-editors of Universal Table and Wising Up Press. They have published an impressive list of themed anthologies, including a new release titled FLIP SIDES. The concept can be summed up as follows:

Where do the positive values in our lives come from and how, why, and when do we live up to them? And the flip side: What do we do when those values aren’t met—by us or by others?

I read the questions above in a call for manuscripts and said, “Hmmm…I have a story that speaks to that theme.” And so, I submitted “Shoe Dog,” a fictionalized account of very real experience. In response, I was thrilled to receive the following from Heather & Charles:

We are pleased to tell you that we have accepted ‘Shoe Dog’ for inclusion in our next Wising Up anthology, FLIP SIDES.”

The book was delivered recently, a beautifully packaged two hundred sixty pages of poems, non-fiction, and fiction, including a brilliant introduction by Heather Tosteson. The volume is organized into five sections: Race; Nationality/Culture; Class/Community; Family; and Faith. I’ll let you guess which section “Shoe Dog” falls into.

FLIP SIDES is available for preorder on Amazon. The official release date is July 1, 2021. I know you will find it challenging, thought-provoking, and entertaining.

CWS

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Monday, May 24, 2021

The Truth is here..

What does a writers' group do when it can no longer meet in person and must rely on Zoom? Will the dynamic of the group change? That was certainly the case for the Lake Forest Writers' Roundtable during the coronavirus pandemic. When our meetings became a Zoom forum, change was in the ether.

As our leader, Casey Dorman, put it: "...we began spending our time sharing our writing with each other, instead of having our usual open-ended discussions on writing. We were all impressed with each others writing ability and the varied styles that characterized our group. At some point someone...raised the idea of putting our talents together into a book of short stories and poems, a group anthology of our writing."

And so, the idea for The Truth That Can't Be Told was born. It is a long, hard slog from concept to reality, but the members of the Roundtable stuck with it. And now you can hold the book in your hands. Or let it light up your Kindle. There are twenty stories and poems, covering a wide range of genres and styles. I'm proud to say two of them are mine.

Enjoy, Dear Reader, enjoy!

CWS

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Sunday, November 15, 2020

For all e-reader fans...

 Dear Faithful Readers,

The e-reader version of One Pitch at a Time has been released. You can now get the book on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo. I had the publisher set the price at $1.99, which solidifies my identity as Two-buck Chuck. (I know what you’re thinking, but Trader Joe raised the price of their wine!)

If you click the image of the cover in the right margin, it will take you to Amazon’s bookstore. Whether paperback or e-reader, here’s hoping you enjoy the read.

 

CWS
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Wednesday, November 4, 2020

A little help from my friends...

Dear Faithful Readers,

It is nice to receive support from your fellow scribblers. Here are three "blurbs" from friends and colleagues regarding One Pitch at a Time. These comments warmed the cockles of my heart. And if you've ever had your cockles warmed, well...

"I loved the story... the basic goodness and breadth of the characters, each with his/her own personality and role to play. Great job!"
- Casey Dorman, author of: The Oedipus Murders; Murder in Nirvana; and (coming soon) Eziekel's Brain

"A nice variety of characters. Ramona, the aspiring nurse, and Crusty Bob, the old newsboy, stood out for me. Loved them and enjoyed the others as well."
- Tom Campbell, author of Badass - the Harley-Davidson Experience, and Travel On - Cycles of the Lifestyle Kind

"You’ve captured the pulse of the pandemic and tucked it into an interesting sports story, love story, and story about alcoholism. I cried when I read Ramona’s testimony to Webb on the boat."
- Brian M. Biggs, author of Prove My Soul - Another Side to the Vietnam War

And then there is this from the "Acknowledgements" page:

 I close with a special thank you to Billie Kelpin, who, without knowing it, became my development editor. We began exchanging chapters of our works in progress, and I learned Billie has an amazing eye for detail and nuance. And she grew up in Milwaukee as a devoted fan of the Braves and a “really cute” Hall of Fame third baseman named Eddie Mathews. Perfect qualifications for a baseball-themed story! Billie, I can’t thank you enough.

Billie is the author of Lucky, the Left-pawed Puppy, The Perfect Husband App, Polly and the Measuring Stick, and (coming soon) the novel Falling Idols

As the song says, "I get by with a little help from my friends..." 

CWS

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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Coming to your bookshelf...

 Dear Loyal Readers,

 A new book is on the way. It is my sixth volume overall and my third short novel. The title is One Pitch at a Time. You guessed it: a story about baseball. It is also about the pandemic and the perilous times we are living through. To tell you more, here is the back cover copy:

In the mythical town of Gold Ridge, California, Brett Corcoran is pursuing his dream of a career in professional baseball. After a disastrous fall training season, he is cut from the local community college team. But when his father, Don, finds his old high school coach Webb Johnson living in a flophouse in town, everything is about to change.

 

Don persuades Webb to work with his son to rebuild his dream. But there is one provision: Webb must abstain from alcohol while ignoring Don’s downward spiral into the same disease. Webb begins to bring himself and Brett back from rock bottom, teaching old school lessons and building confidence. Brett is helped along in his quest by Ramona, a passionate young nursing student and the love of his life. Meanwhile, as a pandemic and social chaos unfold, Don is heading towards the abyss.

 

In this moving novella, a young man battles family conflicts and personal demons to resurrect his dream of professional baseball amid a pandemic and social upheaval. 


And there you have it. If my grandkids ever ask, "Papa, what did you do in 2020, during the 'stay at home' times?", this will be my answer.

The paperback is available from the iUniverse bookstore and Amazon.com, and it will be up on Barnes & Noble soon. For you e-reader fans, the Kindle and Nook versions take a little longer to release (I'll keep you posted). I hope you find it a ripping-good tale.

Thanks for reading,

C.W. Spooner

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