Title: The Lucky Charm (Portland Series #1)
Author: Beth Bolden
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Publication Date: April 30, 2014
Event Organized By: Literati Author Services, Inc.
SynopsisIT ’S THE BOTTOM OF T HE NINTH . . . Izzy Dalton’s about to strike out. Her new job as the sideline reporter for the Portland Pioneers major league baseball team is problematic on several levels:
- Baseball is her least-favorite sport. Falling behind golf, tennis, and maybe even curling.
- What Izzy knows about baseball could fill about three minutes of airtime.
- Her last experience in front of a camera was in college. Six years ago.
- The Pioneers’ second baseman has a wicked sense of humor and even wickeder blue eyes.
“Izzy, this is going to be great for you. I know it seems scary…”
She and Charlie had returned to their regular floor and their regular lives—at least for now—and the first thing he’d done was drag her into his office. Unlike her rickety cubicle, it had a door and he closed it, shuffling over to his chair and plopping down into it.
“Scary?” Her voice was so high pitched she was surprised she didn’t hear any glass shattering. “Scary doesn’t even begin to cover it! I’m not a reporter! I don’t do the camera, Charlie. I’m horrible at the camera! And baseball? The Pioneers? In Portland?”
“I think you’ll be great,” he said quietly. But even through his support, she could hear the note of doubt in his voice, and that was even more horrifying. Charlie wasn’t even sure she could do this.
“I don’t know anything about baseball,” Izzy spat out. “Like, literally nothing.”
“You’ve worked here for six years, how could you not know anything about baseball?”
She could only shrug. “It’s so dull. Endlessly long, with a lot of stupid rules and complicated statistics.”
“You’ll be fine. It’s not that complicated, actually. You’ll catch on in no time.”
Crossing her arms over her chest, Izzy could only glare. “I love how everyone thinks I’m some kind of Wonder Freaking Woman. Just because I’m good at my job doesn’t mean I can do every other jobin the entire world.”
Charlie leaned forward, the pressure of his elbows sending the desk into protesting creaks. “I meant it when I said this was going to be good for you. You need experience. You want to stay with this organization. This is your ticket to make your goals a reality.”
“I don’t understand.” On a normal day, she probably could have, but Mitch’s announcement had caused her brain to short circuit.
“You succeed in Portland, I bet you that you could have any job you wanted at the network. And Mitch will be the first one to hand it to you.”
“So, this is a test.”
Charlie shrugged. “It’s an opportunity.”
“But it’s baseball,” she whispered plaintively. “It’s worse than watching paint dry.”
“And if Mitch had asked you to paint the wall and watch it dry, you would do that, too. You have too bright of a future to waste it with all this nonsense,” Charlie said sternly. “You’re made of better stuff than that. Besides, it’s only for a season, then you’ll be back up here, and better for it.”
A shadow crossed Charlie’s face for a split second and then Izzy remembered what other bomb Mitch had dropped today. “I can’t promise, Iz, you know that. I don’t have the power anymore. But I’ll see what strings I can pull. I’m not out entirely. That helps.”
“They shouldn’t be able to force you out like this,” Izzy insisted stubbornly. “It’s not right.”
“I’m more concerned about you actually signing the contract and not throwing your career away.”
“I guess I don’t have much of a choice,” she said bitterly.
Charlie’s expression softened. “Don’t ever let yourself believe that,” he insisted. “You’re your own person, Izzy Dalton. You always have a choice. I want you to remember that.”
“Even when I’m suffering in Portland?”
“Even when you’re suffering in Portland.”
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About the AuthorBeth Bolden lives in Portland, Oregon with one cat and one fiance. She wholly believes in Keeping Portland Weird, but wishes she didn’t have to make the yearly pilgrimage up to Seattle to watch her Boston Red Sox play baseball. If only the Portland Pioneers weren’t only figments of her imagination. After graduating from university with a degree in English, Beth unsurprisingly had no idea what to do with her life, and spent the next few years working for a medical equipment supplier, a technology company, and an accounting firm. Now Beth runs her own business as a Girl Friday for small business owners, assisting them with administration, bookkeeping and their general sanity. Beth has been writing practically since she learned the alphabet. Unfortunately, her first foray into novel writing, titled Big Bear with Sparkly Earrings, wasn’t a bestseller, but hope springs eternal. Her first novel, The Lucky Charm, will be available in the beginning of 2014. In her nonexistent spare time, she enjoys preparing overambitious recipes, baking yummy treats, cuddling with the aforementioned cat and fiance, and of course, writing. She’s currently at work on the The Lucky Charm‘s sequel, featuring Noah Fox. She hopes he’s a lot easier to wrangle than Jack Bennett was.
Inspiration Behind The Lucky Charm
I know that for so many authors, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where a story idea begins—and normally, that’s true for me as well. But in the case of The Lucky Charm, I actually know the exact moment I came up with the idea.
Three years ago, I was sitting in construction and reading articles about the Boston Red Sox on my phone (bad, I know), and saw that Heidi Watney, NESN’s sideline reporter, was leaving the broadcast for a football assignment in California. Pretty standard course of events. Sideline reporters never stick around for long, mostly because the position is usually a stepping stone to bigger, better things. In this particular case, there’d been rumors swirling for about a year that Heidi, who’s a ridiculously attractive blonde, had been romantically involved with several Red Sox players—specifically Jason Varitek, who is maybe the one player so revered by the organization that she could maybe get away with dating him if they were discrete. I can’t tell you why my mind went “huh” at this connection, but then the article talked about Jenny Dell, her replacement, and I was instantly struck by how different she was than Heidi Watney.
Jenny’s definitely attractive, but she’s got a more serious, girl-next-door thing going on. She also happens to be brunette.
As we writers tend to do, my mind wandered as I drove and I kept coming back to the same thought: what if the circumstances Heidi left the job under were more dramatic than was probably the truth? And what if Jenny was coming into a more difficult situation than the job actually appeared?
Plots bloom when you ask yourself those kind of questions. I have to reiterate that I have literally no knowledge of why or how Heidi Watney left NESN, and I’m sure she did it with their blessing. And Jenny Dell ended up with a really plum position that she’d no doubt been working for since she graduated from college.
But the questions still lingered in my brain.
I worked with so many different reasons why Izzy Dalton, the “new” reporter ends up with the Portland Pioneers, but being a smaller market team, and one, in fact, that’s actually struggling, I knew it was legitimate that there’d be much less competition for Tabitha King’s old spot. Maybe some of that also had to do with the fact that Toby, the executive producer, turned out to be a real tool. But I knew Izzy had to be new, she had to be replacing Tabitha, and the circumstances Tabitha left under had to be somewhat mysterious and unpleasant.
I also decided fairly early on that baseball wouldn’t be a favorite of Izzy’s and that as a result, she wouldn’t know much about it. But to make that work, I had to devise a reason why she’d be sent to be a sideline reporter for a sport she was pretty clueless about. And that conundrum proved to be one of the hardest parts of writing The Lucky Charm.
At first, and for a good part of the first and second drafts, Izzy is actually sent to Portland as punishment of sorts. I went through a few different reasons for this, but the one that stuck the longest was that, in a bid for attention and a promotion, she was planning on outing a fairly famous NFL player for being gay.
I liked the part about homosexuality and sports because that’s such a hot topic right now, but the problem was it made Izzy look like a terrible person, plain and simple. And I didn’t have room in the first chapter to set up a desperation that would drive even a good person to do something like that.
For a long time, I struggled with how to revise the first chapter to make it better, and it wasn’t until last November that I realized—I had to just start over and come up with whole new stakes for the first chapter. So I took the entire situation out of Izzy’s hands and assigned the blame to someone else entirely, and suddenly she wasn’t so intensely unlikable. She was a real person, caught in a bad situation, trying to do the best she could. It’s amazing how even a small tweak can make an enormous difference.
On the other hand, Chapter Two—Jack’s introduction—is almost word for word the same from when I first wrote it three years ago. I’ve tweaked a bit of the language here and there, but he bloomed almost fully-realized in my head and hasn’t really shut up for the last three years.
Long after I’d finished writing what would really become the final draft, I read another article.
This time, the article was about Jenny Dell, and the Red Sox’ third baseman, Will Middlebrooks. Apparently they’d been dating secretly for months, but on New Years Eve had come out officially as a couple.
There was quite a bit of speculation in the article about how this would impact Jenny’s job. Even though I sincerely felt for Jenny (and I suspect I probably did more than a lot of people, because I had spent the last two years examining this exact same issue from every angle I could), I couldn’t help but do a fist pump of pure vindication. Because I had worried that the main conflict of The Lucky Charm, which is that Izzy and Jack can’t date because she’s a reporter and he’s a player, was nowhere near as serious as I was presenting it. And if your main conflict doesn’t carry any real life weight, let’s face it, you’re totally screwed.
But it did carry real life weight. Enough weight that for this baseball season, Jenny was actually reassigned to “other projects” for NESN.
That kind of broke my heart. It’s a big deal to give up a major stepping stone of your career, even if it’s for someone you really care about. All I could think was that Jenny Dell deserved better from NESN and that Will Middlebrooks had better put a ring on it.
I tried very hard to give Izzy an ending she deserved, and one that was faithful both to her dedication to her career, but also her affection and love for Jack. I won’t spoil it, but hopefully you feel the same when you read it.