In honor of all the rain causing havoc at various ballparks today, here is a chapter from my novel The Greatest Show on Dirt about rain and tarp pulls, every minor league employee’s favorite exercise.
By ten o’clock our last lingering co-worker was Shannon, who had hooked up with one of Burt’s business school buddies. Roderick Paterson apparently found the bulimic hipster look a turn-on. Jenna panicked when it was time to go and she couldn’t locate her assistant, but a search of the premises turned up Crack Whore Girl sucking face on the picnic table in the back yard. Her sarcastic tongue was so worn out from wrestling with Roderick’s that she was actually pleasant as we chatted on the front porch. They were the last two guests to leave, shortly after twelve-thirty. Jenny and Burt went up an hour later, leaving me and Rich alone in the gathering dampness. I reached into the cooler and pulled the last two bottles of beer from the lukewarm bath that had once been four bags of ice.
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Tags:baseball·Durham Athletic Park·Durham Bulls·minor league baseball·rain·tarp pulls·The Greatest Show on Dirt
The run of strong reviews continues for The Greatest Show on Dirt with a flattering take by Ben Hill on MiLB.com last week. Ben covers the minor leagues extensively and has spent quite a bit of time visiting ballparks all over the country, so I’m flattered he enjoyed the book so well.
Here’s some of what he had to say:
The Greatest Show on Dirt chronicles the personal and professional confusion of 20-something protagonist Lane Hamilton as he goes through (some might say “endures”) his first season as a member of the Bulls’ front-office staff. In many respects, it’s a predictable coming-of-age tale, but Bailey’s love for and knowledge of the no-frills and oft-absurd Minor League existence makes The Greatest Show on Dirt a must-read for those interested in (or already familiar with) what life is like at the lower rungs of the professional baseball ladder.
And Bailey certainly knows what he’s writing about. He worked for the Bulls for three seasons (1990-92), and, though a work of fiction, The Greatest Show on Dirt draws heavily on these experiences.
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Tags:Durham Bulls·James Bailey·MiLB.com·minor league baseball·Smashwords·The Greatest Show on Dirt
I read every night before bed as a means of relaxing, separating myself from whatever went on to make drifting off to sleep an easier task. Busy day at the office, higher than anticipated Visa bill, sluggish night for my fantasy baseball team, they all melt away after a couple of chapters of a good book.
My stresses don’t really rate in comparison to what our troops deployed overseas face every day. I don’t have anyone shooting at me or trying to blow me up on the way in to work every morning. I can hug my son fifty times a day and kiss my wife good night every evening. I’ve got it good. I’ve got it easy. I can’t imagine the stress soldiers face every day, and what it would be like to try to distance oneself from that just to catch some shuteye.
Like me, many service members like to unwind with a good book, something to take them oh so temporarily away from the war zone. As you might imagine, reading material can be tough to come by in Afghanistan, though thanks to a handful of organizations, books and even ereaders are regularly shipped out to appreciative soldiers.
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Tags:Amazon·books·Books for Troops·Kindle·soldiers·The Greatest Show on Dirt
First came the Kindle version of The Greatest Show on Dirt. Ninety days later, after my exclusive-to-Kindle-Select obligation ran its course, I made the book available for the Nook. This week I’ve taken it all the way, uploading to Smashwords, a company that distributes ebooks in all formats. Now readers using Apple devices or Kobo or who maybe just like to read PDFs can all enjoy the book on their favorite platform.
Will it help?
There’s the million- (okay, maybe thousand-) dollar question. Part of my reasoning in initially going with Kindle only was that most other ereaders have apps that will read Kindle ebooks. Anyone with an iPad who wanted to read the book could easily have done so. But … wider distribution means the book will show up in the iApple store, the Kobo store, the Sony store, your local super market, etc.
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Tags:Amazon·Goodreads·James Bailey·Kindle·Kobo·Nook·Smashwords·The Greatest Show on Dirt
Durham Bulls Athletic Park
So, I’m back from Durham and still trying to process all of the people I met and places I visited in an action-packed three days. Normally even a long weekend feels like mere moments when I walk back into work the next day, but today at work it actually felt like a week since I’d been there. (That’s a good thing, except for the part where I missed my wife and little boy so much that three days felt like forever.)
The very first thing I did after getting my rental car was drive over to Raleigh to meet the nice folks at Quail Ridge Books & Music. They were the first independent book store to stock The Greatest Show on Dirt, and I definitely wanted to thank them personally. I thanked them financially as well, loading up on a few new books. As fortune would have it, right next door to them in the shopping plaza sits the Go Pack store, so I stocked up on Wolfpack gear for me and my son.
Then it was off to Durham, to visit the Regulator Bookshop, where they’ve sold several copies of the book already and asked me to bring a second batch in. Again, I bought a couple of books (see how this all works out well for the book stores), then I was on my way down Ninth Street and around the corner to the Cosmic Cantina, which hasn’t changed a whit since I moved from Durham in 2001. Okay, the chairs and tables out on the roof were newer, but nothing else.
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Tags:Durham·Durham Athletic Park·Durham Bulls·Quail Ridge Books·Regulator Bookshop·WRALSportsFan.com
There’s not much question the Kindle dominates the ebook world. As such, it wasn’t that tough of a decision to try KDP Select when I released The Greatest Show on Dirt in February. The program requires a 90-day exclusive commitment to the Kindle, after which an author can make their book available elsewhere. In exchange for the exclusivity, KDP Select offers up to five free promo days and inclusion in the Kindle lending program for Amazon Prime members (which allows them to borrow one free book each month).
Frankly, the free promo days haven’t done much for me. I’ve given away a lot of free downloads, but the Holy Grail of seeing the free promo spin into a jackpot once the book reverts to paid status hasn’t happened. I’ve heard from enough other authors that have ridden the wave to believe it exists, but in mid-April my two-day free trial saw 5,115 copies of The Greatest Show on Dirt downloaded. Once it went back to full price, the bounce was almost nonexistent.
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Tags:Amazon·ebooks·ereaders·Kindle·Nook·The Greatest Show on Dirt
Ever since the Raleigh News & Observer writeup on me and the book ran a couple weeks back, there has been a growing buzz in the Triangle area in North Carolina. The Greatest Show on Dirt is now available in two local independent book stores: The Regulator Bookshop in Durham and Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh.
I did interviews last week with both the N.C. State Technician (student newspaper) and the N.C. State Alumni Association blog Red & White For Life for upcoming stories. And Sunday, Chris Wise wrote about the book on his blog site Watching Durham Bulls Baseball, offering it up as a substitute for Bulls fans going through withdrawal due to the team’s rainout.
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Tags:independent book stores·Kindle·Quail Ridge Books·Regulator Bookshop·reviews·The Greatest Show on Dirt
The positive reviews in Tampa and Los Angeles were great and much appreciated, but today we have finally made inroads on Tobacco Road, with a piece appearing in this morning’s edition of the Raleigh News & Observer. N&O readers live in Bulls country, so this is big. One of two major papers in the Triangle area to cover the Bulls daily, the N&O reaches folks who well remember old Durham Athletic Park and the era depicted in the book.
I spent 40 minutes talking with Glenn McDonald, a correspondent for the N&O, last week. He spun our conversation into a Q&A covering everything from the inspiration for the book to my days working for the Bulls while in college. What ran was actually more about me and my experiences than the book itself, though here’s his summary of the book:
Bailey’s new novel, “The Greatest Show on Dirt,” is packed with fascinating details about life in the old D.A.P. Those were the heady years after the movie “Bull Durham” made the park a destination for baseball fans, and before the team moved to its new upscale digs. The novel depicts one crazy summer in the life of Lane Hamilton, an N.C. State grad who takes a job with the Bulls after getting fired from his going-nowhere sales job at a downtown bank.
Here’s a link to the story on the N&O’s site: N.C. State alum James Bailey’s novel revolves around Durham Bulls
Tags:Durham Bulls·Glenn McDonald·James Bailey·Raleigh News & Observer·The Greatest Show on Dirt
This is the one I’ve been waiting on. Every April, Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News immerses himself in the world of baseball books, running a month-long feature called “30 baseball books in 30 days.” Not only did he include The Greatest Show on Dirt, he was kind enough not to torture me with a long wait, running his review on just the third day of the month. Here’s a little of what he had to say:
The best baseball novels know how to straddle that line of realism and corny, and made it really about a human situation rather than a “baseball-themed” plot.
As Bailey digs deep into his baseball life here for the landscape, it’s not just believeable, but is easy to imagine as being the starting point for a movie script — even with “Bull Durham” already a classic. Bailey doesn’t use baseball locker-talk for shock value, but keeps the reader moving at the right pace, fully locked and loaded, trying to figure out how this crumbling old minor-league park will somehow expose the secret to life for at least one person who feels disconnected, but it willing to listen to see if if it’s speaking his language.
Be sure to check out the full review, called Rub a little Durham dirt on it, things might feel better. It’s another very positive take, coming a week after Bob D’Angelo of the Tampa Tribune posted his.
Tags:James Bailey·Los Angeles Daily News·reviews·The Greatest Show on Dirt·Tom Hoffarth
The most significant review–in terms of both reach and content–of The Greatest Show on Dirt hit the internet tonight when Bob D’Angelo of the Tampa Tribune introduces Lane Hamilton to readers of his Sports Bookie blog. Bob had a lot of nice things to say about the book. Here are a few excerpts.
Author James Bailey pulls Hamilton and a diverse cast of characters together against the backdrop of historic Durham Athletic Park in his first novel, “The Greatest Show On Dirt,” (Paperback, $12.95, through Amazon.com, $2.99 via Kindle, 244 pages). Even though Bailey worked for the Bulls in Durham from 1990 to 1993, he says this book “is not a thinly disguised memoir.”
“Lane Hamilton is not me,” he writes.
It wouldn’t be a terrible thing if he was.
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Tags:Bob D'Angelo·James Bailey·reviews·Tampa Tribune·The Greatest Show on Dirt