Tuesday, November 4, 2014

RELEASE DAY: Clay Cormany "Fast-Pitch Love"

For most people, softball is a way to have fun, get exercise, make friends, and develop teamwork. But for 17-year-old Jace Waldron, softball is something more – a pathway to maturity. It is through that game that Jace learns what is important in romance and why physical beauty alone is not enough to make it work. Join Jace and his team, the Valkyries, as they come to the plate to take on all challengers, while gaining valuable lessons about life along the way.

Before writing Fast-Pitch Love, Clay Cormany spent over 20 years as a writer and editor for the Ohio Department of Education. His creative work has appeared in the Columbus Dispatch and Spring Street, Columbus State Community College's literary magazine. He has also edited numerous books, including a three-volume biography of Christopher Columbus and A Death Prolonged by Dr. Jeff Gordon, which received coverage in the New York Times and on PBS.
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Chapter One
The skinny student recoiled from the push, his back thumping into the wall behind him. His books fell to the floor as he raised his hands to block the punch that seemed imminent.
"Don't hit me, Carson," the student pleaded. "I didn't mean anything by it."
Carson Ealy, all two hundred thirty pounds of him, loomed over the frightened student like a hungry bear. "How can you say you 'didn't mean anything by it'?" he snarled. "You asked her out, didn't you?"
"Not … not really. I just thought Stephanie might like to stop by my house to … to see my tropical fish. She … she … she lives just around the corner from me, and now that school's out –"
"Shut up!" Carson yelled. He grabbed the quivering boy under the armpits and lifted him until his shoes dangled at least a foot off the floor. "Stephanie doesn't want to see your stupid fish or your teddy bear or your doll collection. She doesn't even want to give you the time of day. And you know something else?"
The student, his face white with fear, shook his head.
"I don't want to either, and if you bug her again, I'm going to twist your head off. Capisce?”
The student nodded frantically. "Yeah, yeah, sure, I cap –"
Carson dropped the kid like an unwanted toy and watched him slink away. The handful of students who witnessed the encounter also began to walk on. Some might not have known what it was all about, but Jace Waldron did. He knew the skinny student made the near-fatal mistake of putting a move on Stephanie Thornapple. Jace had never made that mistake — but he sure thought about it.
A new student at Ridgeview High, Stephanie joined Jace's American history class right after Christmas break. She sat a little ahead of him, one row to the right, giving him a near-perfect position to admire her near-perfect beauty. Only minutes before watching Carson bully the skinny student, Jace had gazed at Stephanie while working on his history final. In the midst of answering questions about the Great Depression and the Cold War, he imagined himself making out with her.
Jace went to his locker and began cleaning it out. There wasn't much there. Just a few loose papers, a copy of Little Women, and the latest issue of the Ram Courier, Ridgeview High's student newspaper. As he put these things into his backpack, students around him checked pagers or made plans for parties and sleepovers. Some exchanged hugs with friends they might not see again until the end of August.
With his locker emptied, Jace headed toward the metal doors on the north side of the school, his gateway to summer vacation, and thought again about the confrontation he just witnessed. The skinny student apparently missed the news that Carson Ealy, starting nose tackle on the Ridgeview Rams football team, was Stephanie's boyfriend. The big guy corralled her almost from the moment she arrived, hanging out by her locker, eating lunch with her, and walking with her between classes. Carson wasn't smart or handsome. Jace thought that with a little extra hair, he could pass for Bigfoot. Still, he found the right words to discourage other guys who were interested in Stephanie: "Leave Steph alone, or I'll break your neck." Potential rivals knew he meant business and backed off.
Jace pushed through the school doors and out into the pleasing warmth of the June afternoon. While he headed to the parking lot, he took in the scent of lilacs and watched the gentle swaying of the crab apple trees that stood in a line between the lot and the tennis courts beyond. After a moment of searching, Jace spotted the blue and silver sedan that belonged to Stick Macklin, his long-time friend and cross-country teammate. Most days, he would be driving his own car, but that set of wheels wasn’t going anywhere without a new battery. He rode to school with his neighbor Mrs. Havener, who supervised the school cafeteria, and with any luck he could ride home with Stick.


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