Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Keeping Score is about a divorced mom, Shannon, her 9-year-old son, Sam, and Sam’s first summer playing competitive tournament baseball. Shannon lives in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., and works downtown for a children’s advocacy group. It should be a perfect place for parents to work, right? Think again…

Excerpt - Keeping Score

My commute to work consisted of a drive to the Shady Grove metro station and a train ride to the Metro Center station near F Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Since Shady Grove is at the end of the Red Line, it takes nearly forty five minutes to an hour to get to downtown D.C. – more if there’s a problem on the track, which occurred more and more frequently these days. I’d drive, but my Toyota’s already got 150,000 miles on it, and my job provided Metro Checks but not parking spaces.

Today was no different. We waited for ten minutes at the Woodley Park/Zoo station. I had a window seat, but my seatmate was a three-hundred-pound man who oozed out everywhere. My face was pressed to the dirty plastic for the entire ride. By the time I got to the office, which is about two blocks away from Metro Center, I was dirty, sweaty and late.

I worked as a PR manager for Children In Need, a lobbying group specializing in poverty and child welfare. Since I was half of a job share, I had pretty set hours: Monday through Friday, eight am till two. CIN is run by a workaholic, Jeanne Applebaum, who never married or had kids so, as she liked to say, she could devote her life to children all over the country. These children did not include the offspring of people who work for CIN. The media liked to make a big deal about the so-called war between working moms and stay-at-home moms, but they completely missed the war between childless bosses and their employees with kids. Missing work due to a sick child? Want to leave early to catch a child’s play? Jeanne would make your life miserable. It was just her little way of punishing you for making different choices than she did.

So when I ran into the eight am staff meeting at ten past eight, I wasn’t surprised that she blamed my lateness on Sam.

“How nice of you to join us, Shannon,” Jeanne sneered. “Sam have trouble getting on the bus this morning?”

“I don’t know,” I snapped. “He doesn’t get picked up for another fifteen minutes.”

A few of my colleagues swallowed smiles. Jeanne conceded the point was mine.

“Alright. Let’s get an update on the awards ceremony. Tania?”

And it was ninety minutes of blabbing. We’ve been working on the same issues in the five years since I’ve been here. Nothing ever really changed. With summer coming up, things would slow down even further. We did have our awards dinner in July, but that was the only big-ticket item on the agenda. My job was like watching the later years of a long-running sitcom: The jokes might be different, and the cast got older, but even the new episodes felt like reruns.

The most interesting battle occurred in my head: Would I eat a donut? Or would I successfully fight temptation for a full hour and a half?

Problem solved. Ron, our House liaison, popped the last donut in his mouth.

That caught Jeanne’s attention. “Ron, I need you to attend Congresswoman Howard’s fund raiser tonight.”

Ron looked annoyed. “Jeanne, I told you, Brian’s senior day game is this afternoon. He’s pitching.”

Jeanne blew out her cheeks in a loud, angry sigh. She hadn’t forgotten about Brian’s game.

“It’s always something, isn’t it,” she scoffed. “What about the kids who don’t have parents? Or health care? Do you think they’re playing baseball after school?”

“Those kids will still be suffering even if Ron breaks his son’s heart and goes to the fund raiser instead,” I said.

Jeanne rolled her eyes. “Shannon, always with the snappy comeback.”

“Yeah. That’s why I’m your spokesperson. Snappy comebacks get quoted.”

“Fine. Tania, are you available?”

Tania looked down at her notepad. “I have to pick up the baby before six thirty. Otherwise it’s two dollars a minute. I can’t afford that on what they pay me.”

“On what they pay you,” Jeanne repeated icily. “Do you know how much they pay me? Do you think I’m out the door every day at five no matter what?” She pounded the table like her fist was a gavel. “What about the families? What about the children?”

“What about our families,” I said. “What about our children? 

Jeanne took a long look around the room. “I am. So. Disappointed. In all of you.” And with that, she got up, grabbed her iPad, and strode out as if she were the Queen of England.

A few people clapped their hands over their mouths to muffle their snickering.

“It’s hard to believe she never had kids,” said Stephanie, our accountant. “Because she is just like my mother.”

Blurb:  When her son Sam asks to try out for a travel baseball team divorced mom Shannon Stevens thinks it'll be a fun and active way to spend the summer. Boy, is she wrong! From the very first practice, Shannon and Sam get sucked into a mad world of rigged try-outs, professional coaches, and personal hitting instructors. But it's the crazy, competitive parents who really makes Shannon's life miserable. Their sons are all the second coming of Babe Ruth, and Sam isn't fit to fetch their foul balls. Even worse, Shannon's best friend Jennifer catches the baseball fever. She schemes behind the scenes to get her son Matthew on the town’s best baseball team, the Saints. As for Sam? Sorry, there’s no room for him! Sam winds up on the worst team in town, and every week they find new and humiliating ways to lose to the Saints.

And the action off the field is just as hot. Shannon finds herself falling for the Saints’ coach, Kevin. But how can she date a man who didn’t think her son was good enough for his team … especially when the whole baseball world is gossiping about them? Even Shannon’s ex-husband David gets pulled into the mess when a randy baseball mom goes after him. As Sam works to make friends, win games and become a better baseball player, Shannon struggles not to become one of those crazy baseball parents herself. In this world, it's not about whether you win, lose, or how you play the game... it's all about KEEPING SCORE.

Author Bio:  A lifelong resident of Maryland, Jami Deise recently moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, along with her husband Tom, son Alex, and dog Lady. A baseball mom for over 10 years, KEEPING SCORE is her first novel. Jami is an associate reviewer at Chick Lit Central and a generalist reader for an NYC-based literary agency. Along with women’s fiction, she loves all things horror and watches too much TV.

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