What a relief to finally have this book Extra Innings: The Diamond Thieves finally available. Not only for myself but all those who have been inquiring about it. It’s been quite a journey. The fictional story of identical twin brothers Jimmy and Billy McGee has been some recent revisions – primarily in Chapter 1.
When I first received an actual printed copy and turned to the first page of Chapter 1 – I was not happy with what I read. The first line use to read: Jimmy and Billy stood in each other’s way of the bathroom mirror, upstairs in their parent’s Mississippi home, each desperate to find his own evidence of puberty.
I felt “stood in each other’s way” was too negative of an opening. This was not the image I was going for in this book. Nor did I want the reader to think that puberty was the primary theme. The tricky part of removing this line was that I really liked how it read. So after some careful thought, I found a more impactful and appropriate place for it in Book 2: Race of the Gemini. It actually fits better here considering the overall theme of this particular book compared to the theme in Book 1: The Diamond Thieves.
From there the chapter went on with negative comments about how the boys were too hot, their attic bedroom was too hot, they were bored and just one negative comment after another. I’m not sure why I never had this general impression before. I guess looking at a computer screen or an 8.5 x 11 printed page doesn’t deliver the same impact as when your actually holding your complete book in your hand … who knows?
So I did a major overhaul to the first 3 pages. I also did some work to a baseball card trading dialogue between Fist and Boston in Chapter 2 simply because some of the facts were inaccurate.
Probably one of the biggest changes was one of the twins’ friends Ryan Blair. By some random course of events, I learned through Google that “Ryan” was NEVER a first name of a boy prior to the late 1950’s. This book takes place in 1947 and the character Ryan Blair was 13 – so he would have been born in 1934. At this time, Ryan was only a last name. How me or my editor never caught this before is beyond me. So I used Google to search for popular Southern boys names, 1930’s and found http://www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames/decades/names1930s.html
The name Charles popped out as one that I liked the most. Charles was the 6th most popular boy’s name at that time. PLUS, Charles is my grandfather’s name (on my dad’s side). Charles Gibson. So I thought this would be perfect. Being that this is the South, Charles became Charlie and therefore Ryan become Charlie Blair.
There were a few other minor character’s who’s names needed changed to more accurately reflect the time period.
Additionally, my mom pointed out that the street the McGee twins lived on (which was also the name of the street my mom grew up on in Ohio) was inaccurate. I had the street name as Greenvalley Drive. My mom corrected me and said that Greenvalley should be two words, so to better pay homage to my mom’s childhood I changed it to Green Valley Drive.
Lastly, I beefed up one of the character’s roles during the baseball game. As stated in the book’s summary T.J. was the team’s spark plug, so I enhanced some of his actions throughout the book to more dramatically reflect this claim.
Overall, I am MUCH HAPPIER with this revised product. I hope that all my readers enjoy it and most importantly, I hope that the last chapter (Chapter 12) leaves them craving the release of Book 2 (of 3): Race of the Gemini.