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The Year of the Pitcher, but …
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  2. Books by Andrew Hessel (Author of Rush to Dawn)
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The whole family ate together. Lynne prepared extraordinary meals, and our Holiday traditions were lovingly nurtured and gave us precious memories. With the kids grown, nothing is simple or straightforward anymore. Now, three of our four kids are married, and while two of those are nearby, our oldest lives in the Bay Area with her family.

Short-term memory loss getting shorter all the time! At least Christmas Eve is a full house, thanks in part to my St. Louis-style pizza, peppermint martinis and chocolate chip cookies I bake for Santa. Tradition and sentiment notwithstanding, the sharing thing does uncomplicate seating. But some years, Thanksgiving may have barely half that number so another moving target is how many to cook for. We buy the largest turkey we can find that will fit on our old charcoal grill and smoke it whether Oregon weather cooperates or not. My Cardinals delirium not withstanding, the state of the game is better than in a long time.

Some of my reasons for making such a bold statement may surprise you. On the field, we were treated to a fantastic season. That the Wild Card races in both leagues came down to the final day made for a dramatic and historic finish. Many called it the greatest last day of the season — ever.

The Post-Season was beyond exciting. Three of the four Division Series went five games and the League Championship Series dramatic and tense. Each went six games, setting up a World Series between two clubs with the best offensives in their leagues. The World Series went seven games for the first time in nearly a decade, and writers from all over include it in the Greatest World Series discussion. In Game 3, Albert Pujols — with apologies to Reggie Jackson — had arguably the greatest single game performance ever witnessed.

Game 6 was an instant classic, as many records were set, many first-ever moments occurred. Baseball writers from all over, nationally and locally, call it not just one of the greatest WS games ever, but possibly the greatest baseball game ever. TV ratings spiked, even without the biggest-market glamour teams. For the first time in memory, people everywhere — even non-fans — were talking baseball the next day.

In totality, the World Series was a fitting end to the greatest season yet, boding well for the future and health of the game. Here is a list, in no particular order, of what I remember as remarkable, and in some cases inject real drama into the Hot Stove Season. Lance Berkman and Jacoby Ellsbury had incredible years. Lance proving he had a lot left in the tank, and Jacoby serving notice he has arrived and is now one of the very best.

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The biggest payrolls and highest profile markets watched from home. Only Fox execs missed the usual suspects in the playoffs in the most entertaining Post Season in years. Something like 20 of 30 teams have made the playoffs in the past decade or so … no other sport can claim anything close. We saw truly impressive performances throughout both leagues by two many emerging stars to list. Pujols and Fielder head the class with plenty of hitting, uninspiring starting pitching but a ton of closers.

For all the changes, economics, technology, rule tweaks, et al, baseball is still the Game of Inches. Winning and losing is part of a precarious and capricious balance. I like Nolan Ryan and his seatmate at the games in Arlington was understandable, given the fact that W once owned the team.

What disturbed me had nothing to do with baseball — or politics — but life in the early 21 st Century. Good for him, but World Series or not, given the state of the nation when he handed over the reins of power, such a carefree What Me Worry? With so much of the world in disarray, baseball, our National Pastime and The Game of Inches, lets us forget all that. Without teams from the biggest media markets, the folks are Fox Sports must be anxiously eyeing the ledge.

The last three games have been legitimate nail-biters. It reminds me of what might have been the most exciting playoff series ever — the Phils and the Astros battling in for the National League Championship. Very soon things are going to get very crazy. Two cribs, two strollers, two high chairs, two car seats, double the diapers and mini-vans are no longer optional.

Old dogs really can — and have to — learn new tricks. It may sound corny, but my objective is for each book to be my best work yet.


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Imperfect Resolution is in final editing and will be available for the Holidays. The website has been well received and traffic, in the form of thousands of unique visitors, et al, has grown steadily every month. Thanks for the many kind words about the simple design and easy-to-use features. Although not nearly enough to maintain a living-indoors lifestyle, the royalties do buy coffee at Starbucks on Sundays. Could there be a more difficult time to be a new graduate entering the workplace?

Not in my lifetime. Wherever you turn, the economy is trumping dreams and derailing hopes. In a word, the job market is bleak. But, wait a minute.

Back in the nineties, our oldest graduated with a degree in biochemistry and was hired, as a chemist, by Intel. I remember how thrilled she was — we all were — to actually get a job and in her field. The HR folks at Intel borrowed a chapter from the playbook of major law and accounting firms.

Tempered by the times, the newest candidates are more eager and vulnerable than ever. This is easily explained by competition for any job among the unemployed, the underemployed and the now overqualified. Tough times are tougher than ever with an ever-larger pool of applicants for ever-lower-paying entry jobs. What would be there for him? How could I put a positive spin on the ugliest job market in memory? In a few days, my sister and her husband will mark 25 years since the passing of their eight-year old son to leukemia.

No pain or loss in life compares to the loss of a child, so how can they consider themselves … lucky? By celebrating his life and creativity and then doing something good for others.

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As a writer, inventing and imagining possibilities is part of the job description. Living two thousand miles away, not only did these visits give me an opportunity get to know an extraordinary little boy in unique ways, but also gave me a chance to know him as a writer.

He began by banging out short stories on an old Apple 2c. Little did we know his best work was still to come. It was long before the Internet, but Matt knew about Libya and Gaddafi because of events in that included the United States and Libya clashing both rhetorically and occasionally militarily. Also, X-Man, known as Jack, played poker with Khadafy and won big bucks.

Books by Andrew Hessel (Author of Rush to Dawn)

Every cent goes to the La Crosse Public Education Foundation to encourage reading and writing in children. My sister wrote about this in her terrific blog shessel. In late July, my oldest son met seven of his oldest friends in the gold rush town of Fairplay, Colorado, an extraordinary spot in the Rockies. Perched in the forested hills above Fairplay at about 11, feet and surrounded by still snow-capped mountains , feet above sea level. Seven of my best friends from high school, many of whom are scattered around the west Alaska, Colorado, California, etc. Ten years ago we were all kids; five years ago most of us were still kids.

We were living in Eugene at the time. My soon-to-be-wife , Lynne, asked me to help with a surprise 30 th party my soon-to-be brother-in-law, Paul was giving for my soon-to-be sister-in-law, Leslie. My job was to pick Leslie up and bring her to the party. Simple enough and I handled it flawlessly. When we knocked on the front door, Leslie would be totally surprised. Julie is pure Irish; the guy we call Coach Steve not at all. No one is simultaneously more Irish and less Irish.

What began small has morphed into a major neighborhood Portland event. Fire trucks and police are on hand to help, and the media sometimes gives it a little play. He even names a Grand Marshall for the parade each year — right after we all sing — and dance — the Hokey Pokey played on an old phonograph in his living room. For weeks before the much anticipated event, an impressive banner — Portland loves the Irish — is hung between stately old trees in his front yard.

When I stopped laughing I commended him on its genius and noted the solid construction. A little cover in case it rains and a shelf where phone books used hung before they were ripped-off. Paw Prints in My Heart , will be available in a couple of months. My newest novel, The Do-Over , is a hoot. Different by design from my thrillers, I hope you enjoy it. To get the books click: To learn about the books click: In the end, every team except one goes home wondering what might have been, thinking of next year and what the future holds.

Win and go to the Super Bowl. Lose and go home. Here we go again. Yeah, I have been a very lucky sports fan, but still have every right to complain, or at least whine and wallow a bit. Thanks to the one constant in sports: The yin and yang of victory and defeat; pain and pleasure; the agony and the ecstasy. Cardinal baseball has been amazing, reaching the post season 10 of the last 14 years with four trips to the World Series and two championships since Oregon Duck football has been elevated to elite national status, with a near miss in the BCS Championship an injured QB from another one this past year, and BCS bowl games four of the past five years.

The 49ers have resurrected themselves under Jim Harbaugh and nearly won the Super Bowl last year and just missed an appearance the year before thanks to a fumbled punt. All we have to do Sunday is win in Seattle. The Blazers have me considering actually caring about the NBA again for the first time in over a decade. Oregon Duck basketball is relevant again even if the floor in the new arena is bizarre. That said, if Uncle Phil likes it, who am I …?

Leading 3 games to 1 over the Giants in the National League Championship Series, the Cardinals decide to take an early vacation and blow it. The 49ers fall short, and narrowly lose the Super Bowl to Baltimore. This one was tough to watch, tougher to take, and for me the hardest of all to get over. Thanks for reading, and all the best to all of you and all of yours — but before I go, one more thing —.

Imperfect Resolution (The Cups Drayton Series)

Oregon Summer will go down as a truly unforgettable one for many reasons including an abrupt personal writing turn and a return to my sorely neglected blog. Months of sunny, warm dry days with just enough rain to avoid drought. When it rained it came in concentrated bunches and often overnight. Moderate heat sparing us the rough patches, and humidity was low. This was a textbook tomato year to boot, the antithesis of Green Tomato Year when summer is either short or MIA altogether.

A meteorological gift and I know better than to let go to my head. The weather scales always balance. An amazing season in many ways, none more astounding than the deluge of young stars shining in Major League Baseball, and they are everywhere. On the downside — many of the very best pitchers, consensus studs, had inexplicably awful years, trashing Fantasy Teams with an enigmatic and decisive cruelty. Mac, my wonder lab and the dog of my life, passed away on June 14th, a day after turning I encourage you to read what has come to be called by more than a few, his Tribute Post: That said, have a tissue or three at the ready.

He really was my writing partner and the better half of Old Dog Publishing, and over three months later I still miss him every day. I drive up to house and expect him to be there. At least the tears have mostly stopped. I was early into the next Cups Drayton crime thriller. I was only a half-dozen chapters into the new novel when Mac died.

I soon realized it was more than his absence and needing time to grieve; I had unfinished business. Mac was the dog of my life, and the four-legged love of my life. Too many memories and mostly good ones that make me smile. I also feel so remarkably at home with non-fiction, and my freelance writing business is thriving. They range from big and long established to hungry start-ups, and are located throughout the country and around the world.

Most days are filled with exciting and challenging stuff that truly is a lot of fun. Hot, too with as many 90 degree days before summer starts, as we get in a year. Lawns are being watered for grass to survive and not curb appeal. Matt Zaffino, my personal favorite weatherman, calls it Hotter than Biscuits. The past weekend gave a taste of humidity, too, reminding me why I fled the Midwest. With apologies to the Most Interesting Man in the World: Stay Cool, My Friends. May the pages keep turning and deprive you of sleep! Happy Holidays — May the pages turn!

Paperback and eBooks at Amazon. Which means that ark-building time cometh. I think it may already be here! But Oregon weather does and for good reason. Thinking of the past weather year it may have been the greatest weather year ever. We even had a stretch of sunny, warm and dry days … in January. Weather so perfect you almost felt guilty about it. Both should be commended for grinding it out. And our relationship was seasoned during the darkest days of the economic meltdown.

Posts Tagged ‘Imperfect Resolution’

Timing is everything — or nothing — depending upon your point of view. But self-publishing means there is precious little help and even less support. No promotional department to help get it out there. And no agent urging me on. Like all the writers like me, we depend upon you. Telling others about it. All part of the dream of someday, somehow, catching lightning in a bottle. So check out Paw Prints in My Heart. Paperbacks and Kindle eBooks at amazon.

My hope is that dog lovers will see a bit of their dog in my beloved old Lab, Mac. And that non-dog lovers read it and reconsider. And that everyone has a dog of their life at least once in their life. Greetings from Portland, Oregon — A dear friend is a true original in every way.