Last year at the GayRomLit book signing, I shared a table with Shae Connor. Like me, Shae is a baseball fan (GO BRAVES!), and we spent part of the time talking baseball. At some point, Shae mentioned that it would be great if some of us baseball-loving gay romance authors put together an anthology. I agreed. Then I forgot all about it.
Flash forward a few months. I get an email from Shae about the aforementioned baseball anthology. Would I still be interested in doing it? And I would be in awesome company; Kate McMurray and Marguerite Labbe would be participating too.
When you get a chance to write with these great authors, you just say yes. Or, like me, you say, "Hell yeah!"
Flash forward again to now. I'm happy to tell you that we just signed contracts with Dreamspinner Press to publish our anthology. Here is some (very preliminary) information. As always, titles may change between now and publication.
“The one constant through all the years... has been baseball.” — Field of Dreams
Baseball, America’s Pastime, carries with it a mythology like no other sport, entwined with the ups and downs of the nation. In Playing Ball, authors Shae Connor, Kerry Freeman, Marguerite Labbe, and Kate McMurray explore the love for baseball and among the men who play it, from the 1920s through modern times. These four stories tell the tales of baseball men who find love off the field, whether with the heir to a baseball empire, a sports reporter, a fan, or even each other after their playing careers come to an end.
Home Field Advantage by Shae Connor
College student Toby MacMillan, grandson of Atlanta Braves owner Ray MacMillan, works with the team’s locker room crew during the baseball season. It’s there that he meets Caleb Browning, who’s getting his first shot at the big leagues, and Toby, who’s been trying to keep his sexuality under wraps, finds himself smitten. An innocent dinner soon turns into a not-so-innocent night together in Caleb’s bed, but Toby quickly calls things off, afraid of the ramifications of their tryst.
Unable to avoid each other because of their jobs, the two men develop a tentative friendship, but it soon becomes more. After Caleb takes a fastball to the head during a game, Toby’s presence at his hospital bedside catches the attention of more than just the medical staff. Their budding romance hits the news, and Toby’s grandfather threatens to cut Toby out of team ownership unless he denies it. Facing a choice between the team he’s loved all his life and the man he could love for the rest of it, Toby has to decide if he’s ready to make a stand.
Wild Pitch by Marguerite Labbe
For as long as Ruben Martell has known him, he's been in love with his best friend Alan Hartner. They played together, traveled together and publicly dueled on opposite teams. Now years later they're both retired from the Major Leagues, are running a business together and coaching rival Little League teams. And in all those years, Ruben hasn't given up hope that Alan might return his feelings one day, but now he's starting to believe that Alan will never chose to move beyond the memory of his late wife.
Alan quit the game at the height of his career to take care of his sons and the one constant he's been able to rely on is Ruben. In all that time he has tried to forget about the night everything changed, only being with Ruben on a day-to-day basis is weakening his resolve. They'd stepped over the line before and it had hurt their friendship and left Alan with a guilt he didn't know how to handle. Alan doesn't want to do anything to jeopardize that friendship now even if it mean denying the feelings he's kept locked away for so long.
One Man to Remember by Kate McMurray
In the summer of 1927, all anyone in New York can talk about is Babe Ruth and the Yankees’ Murderer’s Row, the unstoppable batting lineup that no other team can beat. Skip Littlefield, an infielder for the less flashy New York Giants, is happy to let the Babe take the spotlight, even as he starts hitting as well as Ruth himself. Sports journalist Walter Selby has gained a reputation for being something of a dandy. He’s a force to be reckoned with, too, as one of the most dynamic voices in the daily papers. And now he can’t help but notice the talented first baseman helping the Giants race for the pennant. Then he meets the man and is left breathless—Skip is talented, soft-spoken, and also incredibly handsome. And Walt quickly comes to understand why Skip wants to stay out of the spotlight.
Against the backdrop of the lights of Times Square, the excitement of the era, and some of the most incredible baseball anyone has ever played, Skip starts to fall for Walt. But no one can know. Skip’s only hope is that the more charismatic stars will draw attention away from the quite romance blooming between Skip and Walt, or else Skip’s whole career and everything he loves is at stake.
One Last Road Trip by Kerry Freeman
After the last game of his major league career, Jake Wilson is hitting the road, and he's making a few stops along the way. He has an ex-wife with a new life in New Mexico, a son following in his footsteps in Oklahoma, a daughter with an announcement in Tennessee, and the gamble of a lifetime in Georgia. In 2,500 miles, his life will completely change, and he can only hope that his visit to his first love will cause everything to change for the better.
The anthology is tentatively scheduled for a late September release to give you something to read between MLB playoff games.
Until then, just keep checking the box scores (GO BRAVES!) and listen to a great baseball song.