Last Friday I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Opening Day game for the Baltimore Orioles. I’m a huge baseball fan and had been counting down the days until Opening Day just so I could watch the game on television. I could hardly believe it when I got the email that my Girl Scout (well, Brownie) daughter had been invited to walk the Orange Carpet ON THE FIELD on Opening Day and, as her doting mother, I got to attend the game!!
I am an avid baseball fan. So much so that I made one of my main characters in one of my screenplays – turned novel – a Baltimore Oriole. That adds an extra layer of excitement for me when I go to the ballpark, an experience that is already magical for me. I don’t know what it is but when I go to a baseball stadium, or really any sports arena, I get the same sort of feeling that I get when I go to a library or a movie theater. Now when I go to Oriole Park at Camden Yards, it’s like stepping into a page from my novel. I can almost see Henry Vaughn, Jr. dancing with the Oriole Bird on top of the O’s dugout. That’s one of the really cool things about being a writer – you find adventure absolutely everywhere. I find myself making up stories everywhere I go, particularly if it’s somewhere new or someplace that is full of excitement like a sports stadium. I’ve always done that for as long as I can remember, way before I realized that I wanted to be a writer. Now it’s even more fun because once in a while those daydreams become a reality – at least on the page.
The baseball novel is called QUEEN HENRY (this would be the novel for which I am posting my rejection numbers on Facebook and Twitter. 45 as of this writing…) and it’s about a homophobic, macho, MLB player who takes part in a clinical drug trial to treat his asthma. The experimental drug has an unusual side effect: it makes him gay.
Flyer from The Hippo, a gay bar in the heart of Baltimore
This is my favorite story that I’ve written. It was first a screenplay (which was a Finalist in a national contest) and then I turned it into a novel. It’s a very tough sell to try to get published, but that’s what I expected. Gay-themed stories are hard to market because half of America is still so hostile toward gays, though it is slowly getting better. Not only that, the story doesn’t easily fit into any real category. It’s kind of light and humorous, but you can’t really call it chick lit because it’s mostly about men. Baseball books often sell well to die-hard fans, but very few straight men would be willing to go near a book involving a romance involving two guys. Too bad, because that’s kind of the point of the novel. It’s about a macho guy who thinks the idea of two men together is totally gross, until he becomes gay and falls in love with a great guy and learns a lesson. I didn’t write the novel to change anybody’s mind, though. I always knew that the people who could benefit from reading the novel wouldn’t go near it, but that’s okay. They always say that when you write for everybody you please nobody. So true. This novel isn’t for everybody. I think it’s mostly for me. That’s why I wrote it. That’s why I love it. It combined a lot of my interests in one place: gay rights, baseball, drag queens, romance, and humor.
Hell yeah, that’s a tough sell.
But I think the story is a lot of fun and I hope I’m not the only one. I’ve pretty much decided that I will publish QUEEN HENRY one way or another. I really don’t want to give up traditional publishing, but I am willing to self-publish this one as a last resort. This is the one story that I really do want to share with the world (which is why I browbeat my family and friends into reading it, while with my other stories I just let them read them if they’re interested). I hope I can someday find an agent and/or publisher willing to take a shot at it. There are a handful of publishers who focus on LGBT, so that could work. Time will tell. For now, I’m going to keep plugging away and collecting my rejection letters (and working on the next novel, of course). For my other novels (one written, one in progress, probably lots more to come) I plan to pretty much pursue traditional publishing only. Publisher or bust. But QUEEN HENRY is different. Someday, one way or another, Henry and I are going to tell our story.
Go Orioles. LET’S PLAY BALL, HON!!