Character Spotlight: Mike Stoll

Like I mentioned in previous posts, I wanted to introduce readers to a few of the main characters from Forgetting My Way Back to You, my upcoming novel, ahead of its release next month.  In keeping with one of the story’s elements, these posts are portrayed as news articles in the Coatesville Times, the setting’s actual local paper.  This edition gives a sneak peek at Mike Stoll, the protagonist’s father whose no-nonsense personality leaves quite a mark on the plot.

August 23, 2013

Iconic Coach Sidelined but Far from Forgotten

By Terry Cinders

As the Red Raiders prepare to kick off their season tonight against the Easton Rovers, Coatesville’s former head coach, Mike Stoll, continues to follow the team’s progress despite his limited circumstances.  While he hasn’t stood on the sidelines since suffering a stroke four years ago, his successors still appreciate his wisdom, drawn off his twenty-five years of experience.  As my article reported earlier this week, even Hunter Jett still turns to him for pointers, though having played on a professional level.

“These guys know what they’re doing, of course. The athletic department has high standards, so none of them truly need help.  I appreciate their respect for an old man, though, and I’m happy to share whatever I can to add to their success.”

Stoll’s connection to his former squad waned for a time, due to his health and theandreas-kaufmann-876134_1280 passing years.  With his sudden stroke in the spring of 2009, he couldn’t hand over his duties the way he’d planned to in preparation for his retirement.  Jay Wilson, his friend and colleague, included him in the transition, but Stoll’s limitations impeded the guidance he could offer.

Now that his daughter, Charlee, is the team’s physical trainer, however, Stoll takes advantage of the inside scoop she can offer.

“She keeps me informed of the goings-on but does withhold some things that she thinks will upset me. I typically find out through the grapevine, anyhow.” He grimaces but won’t elaborate on details.  “Regardless, I love having her out there.”

He made it to the first game she worked in 2011, having not attended one since the last he coached.  Following that, he’s gone to just three but listens to every one that’s broadcasted on the radio from his room at Harrison Home, the senior center where he lives.  He hopes his family takes him to a couple this season.

“I’m expecting a much better year than last.  We have a good core of upperclassmen who showed maturity during the final few games, so I’m optimistic.”

When asked if Hunter Jett’s arrival as offensive coordinator boosted his confidence, he gave a cryptic response.

“He has a lot to give when it comes to football, but don’t go to him for advice on women!”

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Character Spotlight: Hunter Jett

As I mentioned last week, I wanted to introduce readers to a few of the main characters from Forgetting My Way Back to You, my upcoming novel.  In keeping with one of the story’s elements, these posts are portrayed as news articles in the Coatesville Times, the setting’s actual local paper.  Next up is Hunter Jett.

August 21, 2013

Local Celebrity Returns Home and to his Alma Mater

By Terry Cinders

Over the years, the Times has chronicled Hunter Jett’s success in football, from the time he moved to Coatesville as an All-State quarterback in high school to his rise in the Arena Football League. At age 31, however, Jett’s playing days came to a close this past season when he suffered a torn meniscus for the third time.

“I didn’t know for sure if I could try to make a comeback until my physical last month. Our doctors said my prior injuries would make playing a real risk and that I wasn’t healing as fast as I did after my past surgeries.”

The development disappointed Jett, for sure, ending his eleven-year tenure with the Spokane Shock. However, he didn’t have to scour the job market for long upon his return home. Raiders’ Head Football Coach, Jay Wilson, retired in the spring, which left an opening in both the coaching and phpeople-2604836_1280ysical education departments. Interested in the positions, Jett pursued the needed credits to acquire his teaching credentials and landed the jobs. With Harvey Langdon’s promotion to head coach, Jett will be taking the duties of offensive coordinator.

“I’m excited to come back here and switch sides, from student to mentor. I’ve benefited from so many coaches, and I can only hope to impact these guys in a similar way.”

One of those coaches was Mike Stoll. Even though he won’t be able to work with him, he still looks to him for guidance in the new chapter.

“I just visited him today, and he gave me some tips. Earlier this afternoon, Charlee [Stoll’s daughter and the team’s current trainer] gave us his playbook. I have some serious reading ahead of me!”

While Jett enjoys being back in his old stomping grounds, he admits his career didn’t end like he would’ve hoped. He always hoped to receive another call from the NFL, after the Eagles drafted him in 2002 but never offered him a contract.

“That’s the ultimate dream, but it only happens for a few. I consider myself fortunate to have played the sport I loved for longer than most do and on a bigger platform.”

Looking ahead, Jett hopes for a playoff-bound season, but he realizes he needs to focus on more than football.

“There’s nothing like the game, but it’s fickle. Once you’re gone, you see how easily it moves on as it did before you. With that behind me, it’s time I give attention to the matters I’ve put aside for so long. The ones that don’t measure me by stats and physicals, but by who I really am.”

 

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Character Spotlight: Charlee Stoll

As we near the release of Forgetting My Way Back to You, I wanted to introduce readers to a few of the novel’s main characters.  In keeping with one of the story’s elements, these posts will be portrayed as news articles in the Coatesville Times, the setting’s actual local paper.  First up is protagonist Charlee Stoll.

August 14, 2013

The Stoll Legacy Lives On in Raiders’ Football

By Terry Cinders

Family businesses are common in Coatesville, but no one expected one carried on in the Stoll family.  Sure, they’re well-known in the Raiders’ athletic department, with Eli Stoll the current and winningest varsity basketball coach and his dad, Mike, having headed the football coaching staff for twenty-five years.  With the latter forced to retire after he suffered a stroke in 2009, however, we all thought we’d never see a Stoll again on the gridiron.  For the past two seasons, his daughter, Charlee, proved us wrong.

“I never intended to fill a role on the team,” the youngest Stoll admits, “but after I was certified as a therapist, I ran into Coach Wilson.  He needed a new trainer and asked if I would consider it.”

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Stoll didn’t immediately accept the position, held back by her nostalgia.  She confesses that for a couple years after her father’s departure, she lost touch with the team. It pained her to watch someone else standing in his beloved spot at the sidelines.

“In the end, my childhood memories actually persuaded me to take the job.  I grew up at that field, and I liked having a chance to relive those moments in a small way. It pleased Dad, too.  He enjoys the thought that I can carry on his legacy.  He’s still upset with Eli for switching sports!”

By day, Stoll works as a physical therapist at Harrison Home, the senior center where her dad lives. This allows the two to visit frequently, and the former coach uses such access to pass on strategy tips to the squad through his daughter.

“He sends me with his playbook on my first day of practices every year.” She smiles. “It’s become a tradition, and the coaches always grin when they see me lugging it out of my car.”

On the subject of the coaching staff, Jay Wilson’s retirement left a vacancy, as did several other departures. Charlee hasn’t met any of the replacements yet, but she looks forward to doing so when she returns next week.

“I haven’t had time to keep up with all the changes. I don’t mind being surprised when I show up to work on Monday.”

And indeed, she will be.  

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I have an idea…oh, so did they!

In 2010, Google estimated that nearly 130 million books had been published in history.  On top of that, another study predicts there’ll be a whopping total of 2,702,243 films made by the year 2020.  Behind each of these, there’s a writer with a story—fictional or nonfictional—, making the very notion of originality seem incomprehensible.  Sure, we’re all different, but can there possibly be that many separate plots?

In short, no.  There are countless resemblances in storylines on paper and on film. This summer alone has brought two television series about actors turned detectives—both of which I enjoy.

In the case of several of my books, I’ve encountered other works that share characteristics with my stories.  I started the first draft of what became Forgetting My Way Back to You in 2008, thinking the idea of a woman forgetting the man she loved was pretty unique.  Imagine my sickened feeling, then, when I saw the trailer for 2012’s The Vow, which follows a wife losing memory of her husband after a car accident!  Before my book could even be published, it already had a rival.

Also in 2012, I started Husband in Hiding, a mystery about a man named Wes, who, after meddling in his detective wife’s case, has to flee into Witness Protection to be taken off the mob’s hit list.  Mere weeks, I believe, before I began writing the book, I saw a preview for a thriller about—you guessed it—witness protection.  To boot, the protagonist’s name was Weston, my original choice for my main character.  After overcoming the shock, I shortened the name and carried on with my tale.

Such instances disheartened me, as I saw I didn’t have the individuality I thought I did, and I feared readers would think I copied the blockbusters.  I came to realize, however, that art spawns art.  As I mentioned earlier, there can be several different shows, books, or songs that have similar themes, but they all bring their own spin.  For the right audience, they can draw off and add to each other’s success.

Even so, we must protect our own work from inspiring another one that’s too similar to ours.  In fact, the question I’m asked most frequently is how do I protect myself from plagiarism.  Like most authors, I turn to the Library of Congress to take care of that.  They’ll copyright an original piece of literature, music, or art for $35.  Go to Copyright.gov for details.

Sean Lennon gave a frank summation, “There are only a few stories to tell in the end…”  That’s the truth.  However, we all have one to tell and our own way of telling it.  Hence, don’t despair when someone else has a similar one-of-kind idea to yours; you can still be one-of-a-kind.