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Through Hard Work and Tenacity

Will Hallewell
Will Hallewell Author Interview

Driven follows a young man who fights to achieve his dreams while trying to pull his dad out of his depression. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I was asked to participate in the Legacy Series of teen sports novels by my publisher and gladly accepted. At that same time, my wife and I were on the phone with my stepson who had played high school sports, and I asked him to help me develop a theme. He had gone through what Gabe had to go through with the rich kids in school getting playing time over those who had played hard for their four years and felt thrust aside because of wealthy parents. The theme was established.

The depression arc with Gabe’s father was based on my depression and the struggle I encountered to even get up off of the couch some days. Even though I didn’t drink my way through it, the struggle is very hard. Whenever I get the opportunity to talk about it or help others through it, I do. The white fleece jacket that Gabe’s father wore was the same one I wore each and every day of my depression. It was my security blanket, keeping me mentally safe.

Gabe is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Every story has to have conflict and a hero to fight through it. Realizing what was going on in his town and that he was the only one who could help himself achieve his dreams, I wanted to use Gabe to bring focus to teenagers the concept that life isn’t handed to them, they have to go out and get it on their own through hard work and tenacity. In today’s world where so many young kids fall into that “me” mentality, I also wanted to stress the importance of family. No one is more important than family. And although I realize that not everyone has the same core family of mother and father, they still have parental role models. And, good or bad, we all need to be there for our families and friends.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The fact that money can’t buy you everything, the importance of family and helping those in need, and the possibility that life can be lived and conflict can be resolved with “No Hate in the Heart”. Those were the main themes.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I have written a series of mid-grade books called The Gazore Series, which is an older kid’s tribute to Dr. Seuss, and am currently working on turning that into a podcast with 9 episodes completed so far. My current sports book is a hockey book entitled Blindsided. The Gazore Series and Podcast are available now and Blindsided I hope to get finished soon. I am approximately two-thirds of the way through that.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Good or bad, money can be a major factor in everyone’s lives. In the lives of Charlie Shaw and his family, however, it’s what makes them happy and what makes them popular.
When they move into the small town of Falls Creek, divisions of people who have known each other for years begin to occur, and the town becomes split by the creek that bears its name. On the north side resides the Shaws and those who have latched on to their money to try and better themselves, their social status, and their baseball team’s bottom line.
On the south side, there is no influence, only layoffs at the factory. Layoffs and sadness and depression.
Gabe “Honus” Wagner is a senior at Falls Creek High school, and his family is feeling the crunch of the layoffs, his father slipping deeper and deeper into depression. All Gabe wants is a chance to get to the regional game where he and his senior friends will get to display their talents for the scouts of the nation’s biggest schools, but Nate Shaw – Charlie Shaw’s freshman son – has other ideas.
Can Gabe overcome the misguided lure of money as well as help his father out of his depression, or will he lose his chance at a scholarship and his dreams? Driven to succeed, he has to do whatever it takes with no hate in his heart.

The Conman: A Baseball Odyssey

The Conman by Mike Murphey is based on a true story of the life of professional baseball player, Keith Comstock. The story follows Conor Nash a professional baseball player. His sole mission in life is to pitch in the major leagues. He has been released from his baseball contracts ten times within his 16 year career. After being forced to retire due to an injury he is not able to recognize the person he has become. He goes on a journey to discover who he is now that he can no longer pitch.

Mike Murphey has done a fantastic job portraying the life of a professional baseball player and the struggles they deal with. You begin to understand Conor and his tenacious attitude towards baseball. Conor has gone through so many challenges from being fired, dismissed, kicked off the team, traded multiple times but he still persevered. The portrayal of Conor’s wife Kate is admirable, she is a strong and loving woman and supported Conor throughout his baseball career. The author seamlessly switched between third person narration to first person. Murphey displays his sophisticated writing skills by smoothly transitioning between a memory and what was going on in the present.

You don’t have to be a fan of baseball to truly appreciate this story. The dialogue is funny and witty and keeps you entertained from beginning to end. Not only does the author discuss the obstacles that Conor went through he also brings forth Conor’s accomplishments. You are taken on an emotional roller coaster right alongside Conor. At times I did get frustrated with some of the decisions Conor made but I was still rooting for him.

The Conman is a witty, complicated and inspiring read that gives the reader hope that no matter what you are going through in life, if you never give up, you will reach your dream.

Pages: 379 | ASIN: B07ZJNDSHD

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My Kill Play

My Kill Play: When a Virus Hijacked the Roller Derby by [Patten, Tim]

My Kill Play is the true story of the author’s life, struggles, and triumphs as told through his journey in the world of roller derby.  The term “kill play” refers to a group of players on a team organizing themselves to violently take out a specific player on the other team.  In this book, Tim Patten, is referring to the HIV/AIDS virus that was “ganging up” on gay men in his roller derby world and across the nation. It is absolutely heart-wrenching as the author describes how this virus came into his world and turned it upside down. I enjoyed getting an inside look into the uprising of the roller derby world as it becomes the well-known sport it is today. Unfortunately, this story also involves the discovery and uprising of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Tim describes his path through roller derby as well as his experience with extreme illness. This book taught me a lot about this time in history as experienced by someone really living in the heart of the crisis. The author gives emotional recollections that truly put the reader in the middle of it all. At times I felt so uncomfortable and helpless, knowing full well how much this illness continues to impact peoples’ lives all over the world. The writing was emotive and sincere. Although I felt that it would have been more impactful if it was written in the first person versus the third person. I knew that this was his story, so I found it somewhat disconnecting to read in the third person. I absolutely loved learning about the inner workings of the roller derby, as I know several people who currently participate in this intriguing sport. I also loved the relationships he describes amongst the characters in his life.

Despite the upsetting pieces to this story, I found it to be a heartwarming and inspiring book overall. Tim took what was given to him and turned it into a platform for thriving. As he says, he truly embodies the expression, “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”.

Pages: 321 | ASIN: B06XRZSRPS

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Game Changer: The Elite Athletes Guide to Peak Performance

Every athlete has the same goal: Victory. Game Changer: The Elite Athletes Guide to Peak Performancebrings together the best of the best for taking any athlete from any sport and catapulting their performance to the top, FAST.

Combining the most cutting-edge scientific wisdom with real life case studies, Game Changer provides a clear blueprint to victory, and will put you at the top of your game faster than anything you’ve ever experienced. Ready to reach your peak performance? Apply the scientifically proven, easy and straightforward practices in this book and get ready to WIN!

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Coin Toss Book Trailer

Jeremy Savage, an 8th grade quarterback phenom, has just been given the offer of a lifetime from Coach Robert Fletcher, a local icon, to come and play football for him at St. Michael’s Preparatory, the best football program in the state. As Jeremy struggles with this choice, the decision becomes increasingly difficult for him as situations arise in which the deep bonds he has with his friends become stronger and stronger. While Jeremy continues to work through his thoughts and feelings, it becomes apparent that there are other forces at play which have a vested interest in his decision. Will he ultimately elect to attend St. Michael’s? Or, will he stay with his friends at Centerville High and attempt to become a local legend?

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SAM: A Girl Undercover

Deception was never part of her plan. Neither was falling in love. Changing her tomboy appearance & makeup is just another disguise to conceal the birthmark on her face, and her view of stranger’s stares. SAM. Now sixteen and still hiding under baseball caps and sunglasses. Dressing like a tomboy started years ago. She was perfectly happy with her looks until one day she meets a young man named Jock at a baseball field. She excepts a fill-in spot on the team letting him presume she was a boy. Unsure of her attraction toward him; her hormones take part in her desire to conceal her birthmark and dress like a girl with the aspiration of revealing her true identity. However, this turns out to be harder than she had imagined. Her deceitful-pretension, causing her chaos and sends her on a roller coaster ride of lies and confessions. Unaware that this would be the origin of a triangle of gentleman callers that she will have to sort out the difference between love-friendship or just infatuation. Will Samantha retreat to her disguises afraid of falling in love, or will she marry the man of her dreams?

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The Midnight Bite

The Midnight Bite

The Midnight Bite (A Fishy Story) by David J Shepard takes the reader into a world of an avid fisherman, Johnny, who develops a love of fishing in his youth. However, it is one specific breed that catches his eye and this is where the story begins.

Once the character in the story realizes that his children are grown up, his working life is finished and his fishing buddy no longer wants to fish with him, he is aware that he has still not caught his ideal fish.

I liked this book as it threw me headfirst into the world of fishing. However, just because it’s a book about fishing doesn’t mean that it’s filled with fishing jargon. I found it very easy to read and the author has an immersive style of writing that makes you feel like you’re catching the fish alongside him.

It’s also an interesting read as you learn that the character is coming to terms with his own mortality through fishing and that’s what eventually drives him to seek out this breed of fish. It paints a very clear and refreshing picture of a man who is bitter, resentful and scared of his own life coming to a close.

It’s not until the 16th page of the book that you learn more about Johnny’s love of fishing from a young age. I enjoyed these flashbacks as it was interesting to read where his love came from, which was the days spent with his dad and family.

The author’s knowledge of fishing is clear throughout the book, as there are so many little details about the bait and fish that you feel like you’re learning while also exploring. It was eyeopening to realize that fishing can be more than a past time and become an art, in a sense. If you jerk the line too quickly, the fish will know something is up and therefore not choose to eat your bait. It was also interesting to realize that this man is a flawed individual who is open about his feelings of jealousy and resentment towards people who do better than he does. I really enjoyed reading his thoughts and perspectives on life.

The Midnight Bite (A Fishy Story) is an enjoyable and quick read for anyone who wants to learn a bit more about the complexities of life with a bit of fishing involved. Can’t get out to fish? Don’t have a fishing buddy? Well sit back and enjoy this book instead. 

Pages: 72 | ASIN: B073Q6KD2Q

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Sacrificing Yourself

Sara Butler Zalesky Author Interview

Sara Butler Zalesky Author Interview

Wheeler is a suspenseful romance novel that follows a strong female cyclist battling both physical and emotional challenges. What was your inspiration for this thrilling novel?

I have been been a fan of cycling for some years now but over the last five years I’ve been hugely influenced by the women’s peloton. Their grace under pressure, heart and incredible talent is an inspiration. My ultimate goal for the hard copy of Wheeler is for the proceeds of each book sold to be donated to the Homestretch Foundation, founded by Kathryn Bertine, a former pro cyclist. She saw a need for women cyclists who wanted to compete but financially, had no way to train and earn a living. Homestretch provides the housing, equipment, training and nutrition for elite riders to have a chance to compete at the pro level.

Loren and Graham connection develops into a complex relationship through the novel. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?

Relationships among creative types can begin intensely, with all the Shakespeare quotes and French terms of endearment, only to burn out in a few short months. Loren and Graham are both isolated and lonely, even though they are surrounded by friends and family. They each have personal issues to overcome and are willing support each other through their trials in order to make the relationship work, just like real people.

Wheeler starts in the middle of Loren’s cycling competition. What is your experience with the sport and why was this a good setup for your novel?

Being a cyclist myself, understand most of what they go through: the training, the discipline, sacrificing yourself for your teammates. I know the intense physical discomfort (i.e. pain) of taking your body to the limit and beyond.

There’s a parallel between being a pro athlete and an actor – long hours of training, constant travel, the media spotlight, but also the close relationships that can develop between teammates (co-stars). It takes the right mix of personalities to make it work or the film (or team) won’t succeed. I thought this would be an interesting, and realistic, pairing. They would need to understand how important their careers are, but also know that it could all end with one bad review, or the squeal of a car tire.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am currently wrapping up the first draft of the as unnamed follow up and I hope to have it to my editor by Autumn, 2017.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

WheelerTo become an elite cyclist in Europe, Loren Mackenzie has overcome much in her life, but no one would know it. Her tragic past is hidden inside tarnished armor and her fear of it being uncovered has kept her out of the spotlight. 

Known as the Ice Queen of the peloton, Loren rarely shows emotion in the heat of competition; she leads her team with quiet strength and determination. But when a chance meeting quickly develops into a whirlwind romance, the ice surrounding her heart begins to melt. 

All is not rainbows and unicorns, though. The relationship with an A-list celebrity brings with it the microscope of tabloid-media attention but also exposes the jealousy and obsession of another, threatening to unravel Loren’s tightly wound life. 

Can Loren open her heart to the love she has held at a distance, or will her fear and shame ultimately defeat her?

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