Book and Author Spotlight: Earning a Ring by Kristina Mathews
(More Than a Game #4)
by Kristina Mathews
Release Date: January 19, 2016
About Earning a Ring
For Rachel Parker, covering the San Francisco Goliaths is the perfect opportunity to launch her career as a serious reporter. But she didn’t bargain on Bryce Baxter, the team’s star shortstop, tempting her more non-professional aspirations. After tearing up the base paths with him, she finds herself with a little problem, and Bryce might be the only man who can save the game.
Bryce Baxter should be living the dream. His team just won the World Series and he just signed the multi-year contract of his career. But his field of dreams has been overtaken by a fiery redheaded reporter, who’s bearing a news flash that will change both of their lives forever…
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Excerpt from Earning a Ring
Bryce Baxter sat alone in the San Francisco Goliaths’ clubhouse. He didn’t want to go home and watch the replays of tonight’s game. There was enough of that going on in his head. He’d blown the game. How many times had he made that play since he first picked up a baseball at the age of five? A thousand? Ten thousand? Probably more. Not tonight. Tonight it was as if he’d forgotten everything he knew about the game. What should have been an easy double play ended up being the game-winning run.
The loss put his team even farther behind in their division going into the second month of the season and had reporters questioning the Goliaths’ chances of repeating a World Series run. Some were even questioning the team’s decision to re-sign Baxter to the big contract extension. The biggest one he’d ever inked. So naturally, he was having his worst start to the season ever. He couldn’t hit. Couldn’t draw a walk to save his life. And when he struck out, he did it in spectacular fashion.
Last November he’d been king of the world. San Francisco’s biggest hero since Willie Mays. As World Series MVP, he’d been awarded a brand new Corvette. His face had been on the cover of magazines. He’d made the talk show rounds. Met the President. Women had lined up outside his door. And he’d had his choice of endorsement deals, including a line of men’s hair care products. Now, if his game didn’t improve, his agent would be lucky to get him a spot peddling adult diapers.
Reluctantly, he headed toward the parking lot.
“Hey, Bryce, you got a minute?” He recognized the voice of the woman standing beside his car. A month ago, he would have been happy to see her. Professionally, personally, a little bit of both. But not now.
“Look, Rachel, I’m not giving any more interviews tonight.” He was so down, all he wanted to do was go home and crawl into bed. Alone.
“I’m not here for an interview.” She would have waited in the clubhouse if she were. He knew that. Rachel Parker was a professional, the in-game reporter for Bay Area Sports Network. “Can we go somewhere? Somewhere private?”
“I’m not giving that tonight either.” He waited for his body to protest, recalling the dozen or so encounters with the sexy journalist. She’d been hot. Real hot. Hot enough for him to forget his rule of one and done. They’d been hooking up off the record since before spring training of last season.
“Look, I really do need to talk to you.” She seemed a little nervous, not her usual confident, perky, and always upbeat self who was part bubbly cheerleader, part hard-hitting reporter. She was still hot. But instead of smoking, she was…smoldering. His body stirred. Enough for him to think that maybe spending the next several hours in bed might not be such a bad idea.
But it probably wasn’t a good idea either.
The last time they’d hooked up had been intense. Almost too intense. Too real. But maybe he’d just been riding the high of signing his ridiculous contract. Or maybe he’d felt the pressure of the deal and had transferred it to his personal life. Something he could control.
“You know, I think maybe we should take a step back.” He raked a hand through his hair, still damp from his long shower after the game. “I’m not good for anyone right now.”
Rachel gave him a weird look, almost as if her eyes slipped out of focus. Her face drained of color. She turned and stumbled toward his car, bracing herself against the front fender. Then she threw up on the hood of his Corvette.
“Are you okay?” He took a step toward her.
“No, I’m not okay.” She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “I’m pregnant.”
Kristina Mathews doesn't remember a time when she didn't have a book in her hand. Or in her head. But it wasn't until she turned forty that she confessed the reason the laundry never made it out of the dryer was because she was busy writing.
While she resigned from teaching with the arrival of her second son, she's remained an educator in some form. As a volunteer, parent club member or para educator, she finds the most satisfaction working with emergent and developing readers, helping foster confidence and a lifelong love of books.
Kristina lives in Northern California with her husband of more than twenty years, two sons and a black lab. A veteran road tripper, amateur renovator and sports fanatic. She hopes to one day travel all 3,073 miles of Highway 50 from Sacramento, CA to Ocean City, MD, replace her carpet with hardwood floors and serve as a “Ball Dudette” for the San Francisco Giants.
Connect with Kristina
A Q&A with Kristina Mathews
1. What inspired you to write a romance series set in the world of professional baseball?
I’m a huge baseball fan, dating back to when I was one of only two girls in my Little League at age nine, to watching minor league baseball in college, to spending romantic weekends in San Francisco catching a game at Candlestick, and later AT&T Park for our anniversary. I spent eleven years as a Little League parent, so you could say I was immersed in baseball in some way for many years. I can’t remember which sports scandal it was that inspired me to write Johnny “the Monk” Scottsdale as my first sports romance. He was a guy with all the on-field success, but instead of being the typical playboy player, he basically lived a monk-like existence off the field. The rest of the series just fell into place.
2. Were each of the players in four books inspired by actual players? If so, which ones and why?
Johnny Scottsdale was kind of inspired by Christy Mathewson and I combined stats from several modern pitchers. Matt Cain was one of the players I imagined him to play like, and the cool thing is that six weeks after I wrote “The End” on Better Than Perfect, Cain pitched a perfect game.
The idea for Worth The Trade was inspired by Hunter Pence’s arrival in San Francisco after he was traded from the Phillies. But I think Marco Santiago looks a lot like relief pitcher Javier Lopez.
Nathan Cooper in Making A Comeback was inspired by a picture of Barry Zito standing in front of a back stop with his guitar in the background, but the resemblance stops at the musician side of the real player. The storyline was more of a mix of players who were involved in the steroid scandals of recent years. I wanted to explore why a guy would risk it in this day of testing and public scrutiny.
Earning a Ring's Bryce Baxter has Brandon Crawford’s mad skills at shortstop and well, the hair. But while Bryce Baxter is a cocky bad boy, Brandon Crawford is a family man, married to his college sweetheart, and with his third child on the way. He frequently blogs about his wife and kids.
3. If you were given the opportunity to play a position on either the fictional San Francisco Goliaths or real-life San Francisco Giants, which position would you play and why?
Well, the Giants could use a left- fielder. I don’t know that I have much of an arm, though. I could probably handle first base, but the last time I played co-ed softball, I went for an errant throw to first from the pitcher and the batter decided he was going to stretch a come-backer to the mound into a double and he plowed right into me. I bounced, twice, and he stood on second whining that “she was in the base path.” That may have been true, but you still don’t plow into a woman in coed softball leagues where there is beer in the dugouts. It wasn’t the NLDS, for goodness sake.
4. What's your favorite baseball movie, and if Earning a Ring were ever to be made into a movie, who would you cast as Rachel Parker and Bryce Baxter?
I love Field of Dreams and Bull Durham equally. But I suppose Kevin Costner is a little old to play Bryce Baxter. But that voice, though. Bryce is blond, with longish hair, so I would need someone like Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pine, or Chris Pratt. Aren’t there any blond actors not named Chris? Rachel could be played by Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, or Emma Stone.
5. What advice would you give aspiring writers who look up to you as their inspiration?
Find a support group. I’ve found Romance Writers of America to be especially helpful. I belong to a local chapter, Sacramento Valley Rose, that meets once a month and I’ve taken several online workshops through online chapters and other online groups, like Savvy Authors. I even found my first editor through a Savvy Authors’ pitch session.
I would also say to listen to advice, but don’t feel like you have to take all of it. What works for one author might not work for you. If plotting your entire book out on color coded sticky notes makes you feel more organized so that when you sit down to write the first draft, you’re ready to just roll, then go for it. If, on the other hand, you break out in hives at just the thought, then find what does work for you.
And read. A lot.
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