W.P. Kinsella & My 11th Novel

I emailed my manuscript of my 11th novel off to my editor yesterday. That’s always a momentous day! It’s entitled THE LOST LINEUP and it’s Book 2 of Myths & Tales of the Winasook Iron Horses. Have no idea if there will ever be a book three. No plans at the moment, but then again, I had no plans on writing a sequel to A DIAMOND FOR HER (book 1) until I was finished writing it. The genesis of book 2 is in the person of deceased Canadian author W.P. Kinsella – best known for his novel SHOELESS JOE which was filmed as the classic 1989 film FIELD OF DREAMS.

I had been an admirer of Kinsella’s writing, having read another of his baseball novels THE IOWA BASEBALL CONFEDERACY. It was the mystical and magical realism that I loved. Baseball to me had always risen above the mundane. There was something magical about it. When I used to pitch, and I stood on the mound and stared down the opponent, I felt something deep within me that seemed right. A settledness – even if the big bruiser lined a rocket off my shines. It was still meant to be.

When I started writing novels, I always knew that I wanted to write a baseball novel one day, and I knew that Kinsella would be an influence. What I didn’t know is that W.P. Kinsella himself would end up as one of the characters in my novel.

In the novel, Kinsella is the brash, no-nonsense caretaker of the game who is protecting it from historical evil forces. Can’t give too much away. The protagonist, Charles Henry, who is the literary author of the books – it’s written in the style that the protagonist is writing a memoir of his favorite team the Winasook Iron Horses – and as he is searching for clues to a certain field in Iowa which may possibly be a portal to the gods of baseball – yeah, it’s a crazy ride – his path crosses with Kinsella and they have a series of run-ins as they discover a lineup of forgotten historical players who want one more chance to play again.

I must say, however, that I have fallen in love with this Kinsella character, and it is my hope that he would have enjoyed his character’s role in this novel. If it was a movie, his character would be a hoot to play. What gave me the idea to use Kinsella was Kinsella himself. In SHOELESS JOE, he used J.D. Salinger as a character, so I thought it would be fun to pay a little homage to the idea and bring Kinsella himself into the story. I hope readers will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

It’s a mixture of adventure, thriller, magical realism, fantasy, and sports fiction.

Releasing summer 2022: THE LOST LINEUP.

Here is the exclusive, unedited foreword to the novel written by the protagonist Charles Henry. Enjoy:

I regret it has taken me so long to write a follow-up to the Raymond and Rochelle Blythe’s story. What I expected to have taken mere months, especially after finding a copy of W.P. Kinsella’s The Iowa Baseball Confederacy at the Rochelle Blythe Memorial Library in Winasook, has taken me years. There are reasons, the biggest being the death of my wife merely two weeks after the publication of A Diamond for Her. I had wallowed in her death for far too long (or perhaps not long enough) when I decided I needed a change. That’s when I left for Iowa.
What ensued became this book. It is difficult to articulate everything that has happened to me or even to conjecture the meaning of it all, but I will attempt, chapter by chapter, to explain the bizarre tale.
I don’t ask for your belief. That would be silly of me. But I do ask for your understanding, for in empathy we may all glide a step further towards the truth (hopefully, without over-sliding it).
Again, the shifts in point of view are meant for your reading enjoyment. Plus, I do want to distance myself from the story as much as possible, because it is not about me. Except in the sense that it is about all of us.
With earnest in the mythical properties of ball,

Charles “Shoeshine” Henry
Winasook, Pennsylvania
May 1989

Yes, it’s free – A DIAMOND FOR HER!

I love this novel. A DIAMOND FOR HER: MYTHS & TALES OF THE WINASOOK IRON HORSES. Probably most enjoyable novel I ever wrote. I love it so much that I’m giving it away.

A one time only special – May 27-May 31 – it’s FREE on KINDLE!

I believe in this book, and I want to get it into the hands of as many people as possible. So please get yourself a copy. Please spread the word and tell others – anyone who likes historical fiction, romance, or baseball! And finally, if you enjoy it, please leave a review.

He loved her enough to build her a baseball stadium. With a tip of the cap to the works of W.P. Kinsella, A Diamond for Her is a historical and magical story of love between two people—Raymond & Rochelle—and two grand institutions—America & baseball.

In 1920, railroad man Raymond Blythe had a series of disturbing dreams—giant creatures with Greek names playing baseball. Determined to discover their meaning, he sets off on a bizarre quest to find a connection between Iowa, Theodore Roosevelt, baseball, and his deceased father. While searching for answers at the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, he meets a young librarian named Rochelle Christy. This meeting sets him on another quest—to win her hand in marriage even if it means he has to establish his own baseball league in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains.

A DIAMOND FOR HER: Pre-order Now for a Special Price

My new novel, set to release in 60 days on March 23, 2021, is now available for pre-order for a special price only from the Kindle store.

This is the baseball novel I’ve always wanted to write, and when hunkered down in March and April of 2020 with no baseball to enjoy, I wrote it.

Don’t like baseball? No worries. My editor assures me you won’t need to be a baseball fan to enjoy this unique story. If you like historical fiction, sports fiction, historical romance, magical realism, or the film “Field of Dreams,” this novel is for you!

I had so much fun writing it. Order it now for a special pre-order price of only $2.99. It will go up in price upon release. Available in Kindle & Paperback on March 23, 2021.

Thanks for your support. Here’s the short blurb:


In 1920, railroad man Raymond Blythe had a series of disturbing dreams—giant creatures with Greek names playing baseball. Determined to discover their meaning, he sets off on a bizarre quest to find a connection between Iowa, Theodore Roosevelt, baseball, and his deceased father. While searching for answers at the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, he meets a young librarian named Rochelle Christy. This meeting sets him on another quest—to win her hand in marriage even if it means he has to establish his own baseball league in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains.

March 23: The Gods of Baseball Arise

Field of Dreams, anyone?

Anyone who knows me would be able to guess my favorite movie. Yes, Field of Dreams. I was a starry-eyed twenty-one year old on my honeymoon when I saw it, so you can forgive me for my sentimentality, can’t you?

But beyond that, of the numerous times I’ve watched it over the years, it’s still impossible for me to hold back the tears at the ending. Just perfect. And despite what people might think, it’s not a baseball movie – far from it. It’s a treatise on fatherhood and America. (and baseball!)

When I started writing novels nearly ten years ago, it had always been my dream to write a baseball novel in the vein of WP Kinsella. I won’t pretend that I write with his lyrical flow and smooth insightfulness, but nevertheless, I did it. I wrote my baseball novel.

A DIAMOND FOR HER: Myths and Tales of the Winasook Iron Horses.

Tentative release date: April 1, 2021

I’ve said this a lot about my past novels as well, but this time I really mean it: I can’t wait for this to release. I never had so much fun. I felt like a kid walking out of the cornfield to see the magic and wonder before my eyes. And while my novel doesn’t include corn fields, I couldn’t help having a little fun with WP Kinsella. The protagonist, in a way, is on a quest to find him. WP Kinsella, in his novel Shoeless Joe which inspired the movie Field of Dreams used author JD Salinger as a main character of the plot. I thought it would be fun to return the favor, and while the late WP Kinsella does not make an appearance in my novel, his footprint does, and it was a blast doing it.

Here’s the blurb (still a work in progress) and a few images which will loom large over the novel. Cover reveal coming soon!

He loved her enough to build her a baseball stadium.

In 1920, railroad man Raymond Blythe had a series of disturbing dreams—giant creatures with Greek names playing baseball. He was determined to find out what they meant. The dreams set him on a bizarre quest to find a connection between Iowa, Theodore Roosevelt, baseball, and his deceased father. While searching for answers at the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, he met a young librarian named Rochelle Christy. This meeting sets him on another quest—to win her hand in marriage even if it means he has to establish his own baseball league in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains.

A Diamond for Her chronicles the fictitious history of the Winasook Iron Horses, who were the founding members of the Allegheny Independent League from 1921-1955. Baseball magic was born in these mountains proving time and again that anything can happen inside the diamond.

With a tip of the cap to the works of W.P. Kinsella, A Diamond for Her is a historical and magical story of love between two people—Raymond & Rochelle—and two grand institutions—America & baseball.

Finding the Right Book Title

Some book titles just write themselves; they are so obvious that there could be no other title which would mean as much.

My novella was about a spy named Blue. Super easy title: Spy Blue

My first novel was titled after the translated meaning of one of the main characters, plus served as a symbolic backdrop for the unfolding life of Martin. Title: Beauty Rising

My second novel is about a recluse storyteller. Title: The Recluse Storyteller

My third novel ….. I don’t know what to title it. I have one possible title I’m toying with, but it has certain connotations which I’m not sure would be attractive to all readers. Another title was suggested, but I’ve discovered at least three other novels with the same title. I don’t want to do that.  My third and fourth ideas aren’t very appealing either.

Honestly, the cover and title must sell it to the reader immediately no matter how unfair that might seem. I always thought Hemingway chose the best titles for his books –  To Have and Have Not; For Whom the Bell Tolls (quote from John Donne); The Sun Also Rises (from Ecclesiastes); etc … always memorable, quotable with a literary quality about them.

Traditional publishers typically have the final say of what a title will be based on what they think will connect with the audience. Here’s an interesting anecdote concerning the novel Shoeless Joe which was turned into the film Field of Dreams. (BTW, you can learn more about the naming of the movie by getting the 10th Anniversary DVD which has a wonderful from script to film special about the movie.) When the movie was getting close to being released, the focus groups told the producers that they didn’t like the name. They thought it was confusing and was about a homeless guy or something like that. They had no idea it was about Shoeless Joe Jackson, the famous baseball player who helped throw the 1919 World Series. So the producer approached novelist W.P. Kinsella and told him that he was sorry but they needed to change the name of the movie. The novelist said in surprise that it was OK, because the publisher was actually the one that gave it the name Shoeless Joe. Then the producer asked him what the original name was. He said “Dream Field.” A match made in heaven – Field of Dreams was born.  (This also shows that you shouldn’t mess with writers)

So here’s hoping as I put the finishing touches on the novel and try to distill the themes and plot into a quotable phrase that something perfect will jump out at me.

If You Build It, He Will Come: Revisiting a Modern Classic

It’s a phrase that has made its way into the modern American vernacular.

If you build it, he will come.

The “it” is a baseball field, and the “he” (or so we think) is the great Shoeless Joe Jackson, a sure-fire Hall of Fame baseball player who was disgraced and banned from the game for life for his part in taking a bribe to affect the outcome of the 1919 World Series.

The movie is, of course, Field of Dreams – it’s my favorite of all time.  The reasons are many:

1. I love baseball

2. I watched it with my newlywed on our honeymoon at Walt Disney World.  Yes, it brings back good memories.

3. I’m a fan of W.P. Kinsella – the author of the book Shoeless Joe which inspired the movie.   If you haven’t read The Iowa Baseball Confederacy, check it out.

4. Lastly, it’s not about baseball.

And that, my friends, is the most important message to remember.  Field of Dreams is a tender wish for any son who wants one last shot to make things right with his father.  It’s a modern day pilgrimage of a man (Kevin Costner) whose regrets have long haunted him only to suddenly to be given a second chance at making things right by bringing back his father’s hero- Shoeless Joe Jackson.  How does he bring him back the long dead slugger? By plowing under his corn field and building a magical baseball field – a field of dreams.

It’s a whimsical, feel-good tale, full of an amazing cast (James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta, and the legendary Burt Lancaster) that helped propel it to an Academy Award nomination for best picture. (Even though that means nothing to me.)  Even the real life field in Dyers, Iowa has become a shrine for hundreds of thousands of fans from around the world who have been moved by the film.

It’s a modern day classic in the cinematic tradition of It’s a Wonderful Life.

If you haven’t seen it lately, it’s time to revisit it.

It is spring training after all.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/30/sports/baseball/field-of-dreams-setting-tourist-magnet-in-iowa-is-to-be-sold.html?_r=2&pagewanted=1&ref=todayspaper