Secondary Storylines: A Plot’s Friend or Foe?

For starters, this post—as is the case with all my others—expresses my opinions and conclusions about the craft of writing. Having written for just ten years, I can only speak for myself and what I’ve learned works for me.

Every story needs characters, and unless the protagonist(s) is stranded in space or on a deserted island, it needs secondary ones, as well. According to NYBookEditors.com, a secondary character “is necessary to the story because this character reveals key details, motivates the protagonist, foils the protagonist, or helps define the story’s setting.” In short, he/she is more than a maid of honor who holds the bride’s bouquet. They add life to the story and bring their own perspective of what the protagonist is facing.

In my writing, I’ve tried to employ secondary and minor characters to accomplish the objectives cited above. With them, I’ve hoped to fill my plots with humor, conflict, and originality. After all, few would want to read a story that relies solely on one character.

This said, I’ve found the need to refrain from putting too much emphasis on secondary characters and their own stories. Sure, it’s nice to pan over to them on occasion, but what they do should have some influence to do with the main storyline. Otherwise, the reader could be distracted or confused.

Even with protagonists, however, it can be easy to throw in too many elements. Just the term “novel” can intimidate a new writer, as it might seem impossible to carry one story through 50,000+ words. Out of desperation, one might decide to bop back and forth between subjects. While some transitions do enhance a plot, too many can, again, lose the reader.

One of my favorite writing techniques is flashbacks. I feel that they give a glimpse into a character’s current traits by uncovering past experiences, so both Husband in Hiding and Forgetting My Way Back to You have them scattered throughout. As much as I love sculpting them, though, I realize too many can detract from the present happenings. Even if my readers enjoy them, I wouldn’t want them so engrossed in them that they lose interest in the rest.

As I stated earlier, my views are based on my tastes and individual style. Some authors are great with balancing several storylines and making readers care about each one. Regardless of style, I think it’s important to stay in touch with who we were before writing—readers! We should be our story’s first and most frequent reader, and if certain elements aren’t as captivating as we thought, we can’t be ashamed to cut them. That way, we put ourselves in our audience’s place in efforts to give them the pleasure our favorite authors have given us.

books-2863724_640

Advertisements

“This is the Year…”

From 2011 to 2017, I’d watch the Times Square ball drop on television and tell myself, “This is the year I’ll have a book published.” In that span of time, that determination only came true once. While I’ll admit it frustrated me to watch another twelve months pass without fulfilling that, I never allowed myself to be crushed. Why, you ask?

Unlike all the goals that are set every January, I realized mine couldn’t be achieved through my own resolve. Since I couldn’t pursue self-publishing, my success depended, in part, on a company or agent looking for the right story at the right time. With the publishing world flooded by aspiring authors, it doesn’t stop and let you hop on. One has to dive in as it spins at full speed, and oftentimes, is thrown out repeatedly regardless of his/her willpower or even talent.

Knowing this helped me stay positive through all the failed attempts to secure a place in that world. At one point, I accepted the prospect of going decades without a book deal. Nonetheless, I stayed motivated to do my part to accomplish the objective. In 2014 alone, I queried 77 agents and publishers, with no prospects by the end of it.

My understanding of the intense industry wasn’t the sole reason I persevered, however. As a disabled person, I’ve had many endeavors that required cooperation from another person or my own stubborn body. I can safely say both have let me down, but the latter has the advantage. For a lot of my childhood, I vowed to walk before the calendar was up, but no matter how much I wanted it, my body wouldn’t let it happen until I was a teenager.

While reaching for that, I discovered the danger of putting a date on such a purpose. Having wished to walk independently before I faced my teen years, I became disheartened at the thought of turning thirteen without the desire satisfied. With some encouragement from loved ones, I overcame my despair, and in an ironic twist, I began walking almost exactly a year later. Nonetheless, the experience made me shy away from placing deadlines on myself.

Thus, I learned the right balance—no pun intended!—of setting goals but resisting a “now or never” approach, especially when it’s dependent on an uncontrollable variable. If you’re looking to have a book published or accomplish another pursuit that requires some outside influence in 2019, then, give it your all but stay optimistically realistic. Some aspirations take longer than twelve months to take form, but like well-percolated coffee, they’re deliciously worth the wait.

coffee-869203_1280

My Book’s Published…Now What?

Two months have passed since the release of my new romance novel, Forgetting My Way Back to You. Those outside the publishing world think a book’s launch is the end of the author’s work. The writing’s done, copies are printed, and you’ve informed the media. Time to just wait for the royalty checks and the call from Good Morning America, right?

money-1302828_640

Wrong!

While I grit my teeth when people don’t understand why I’m still so busy, I can’t blame them. Before my first book came out, I, too, thought, writers write and publishers do the rest. Maybe that’s the case when you hit the ‘big time’ and can afford a publicist and marketing team, but until then, being an author encompasses so much more than signing autographs.

In truth, the term ‘marketing’ used to petrify me. Prior to working with a publisher, I listened to a webinar about self-publishing, and one of the major topics was marketing. An author who spoke during the program brought out that even big name companies do little of the promotional aspect. She implied the depictions of publishers who line up book tours and jet-set the country with his author were mere fantasies.

I wouldn’t hear that, so I came to reason that she just made those claims to endorse self-publishing. I closed out of the presentation, a little discouraged, but I continued with my plan to seek a traditional publisher. As I did so, however, I came across several who asked for a marketing plan. Still in denial, I exited every one of them, concluding they were inept.

Well, six months after the webinar, I signed my first book contract with a company who never mentioned a marketing plan. In fact, the contract stated that they were developing a marketing team, who’d place our books in stores and do a lot of the promoting for us. What a relief…until a few weeks later, when I was asked to be part of it.

That opportunity—though not proving to live up to its hype—taught me there was no getting around the dreaded ‘m’ word. Thus, I had to embrace it, which started with understanding it. To do that, I began to do research and found myself overwhelmed by all the internet had to offer. I figured out what topics about which I wanted to zero in, before I purchased a couple how-to books, much like I’d done to learn about getting published.

The one I consider most helpful is The Frugal Book Promoter by Carolyn Howard-Johnson. Its tagline reads, “How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partneringfrugal with your publisher,” so it appealed to both the deal-hunter and the scaredy cat in me. As I’d hoped, it offered a plethora of options and strategies to spread the word about one’s book, enabling authors to choose which techniques work best for them. I consulted it numerous times during that first year and still pick it up often now.

The Frugal Book Promoter helped me to appreciate that an important part of marketing involves what authors do best: write. From media releases to newsletters to sell sheets and beyond, we can use our talent to promote ourselves and our books. No need to overthink that.

Once I accepted and dove into the marketing world, I realized I’d been marketing myself all along. Instead of publishers and agents being my audience, I had to appeal to press outlets, stores, libraries…and most importantly, readers. In fact, I just had to do minor tweaks on my original query letter to suit each purpose. In addition, my current publisher has guided me to new avenues, as well, like doing author interviews and expanding my social media efforts, which makes up my to-do list these days.

If you’re a new author who’s skittish of that ‘m’ word, don’t despair. With the right guidance, you can be your own press agent, publicist, web designer, and more—in short, an author-preneur.

The Therapeutic Benefits of Writing

Journaling is a known psychiatric treatment. It gives ample time for introspection, makes one organize his/her thoughts, and helps the writer track his/her progress.

Even as a preschooler, I couldn’t get the hang of journaling. To whom was I really addressing it? Myself, or a tiny bug who read it after I put it away? It confounded me, so the entries I wrote throughout elementary school typically began with “Dear Journal,” followed by two to five sentences about my day, and concluded with, “That’s all. Bye.” A literary phenomenon in the making, am I right?

pencil-918449_640

Once I started writing fiction, I began to understand the hype. True, making up stories doesn’t allow you to analyze how a real-life situation unraveled, but it gives you the chance to perhaps create a similar one. This can make it easier to relive an experience in a way that doesn’t seem so revealing and raw.

When you do that, it opens the door to all kinds of fun, stress-relieving tricks. Most amusing, in my opinion, is the ability to make a character react as you wish you could have. The real world imposes so many limits on us, making us either unable to respond the way we feel or too afraid to. In a fictitious plot, however, an author can make the rules. Early in my writing, I often made a character storm away after a heated argument, because I, being disabled, never can. Granted, consequences of actions should be realistic for the most part, but it’s the character who has to live with them, not you.

On the contrary, writing your actual reaction to a scenario has its benefits, too. It helps you step back as a narrator, giving you an outsider’s perspective. A few times throughout the years, I’ve added something I’ve done or felt, and initially, I’m proud, typing with a rather smug smirk. By the time I finish it, though, I realize I was wrong…and sometimes erase it, wishing I could do so in reality.

Another advantage writing gives your psyche is the opportunity to figure out someone else’s point of view—or try to, at least. All good stories showcase people’s different opinions and personalities, even if only through dialogue. Hence, an author has to contemplate why both protagonists and antagonists act as they do or make the decisions they make. When the character is inspired by someone in the author’s life, then, it can give him/her better insight into that muse.

I’ve heard several say they always wanted to write, but life thwarted that. I can understand, as it does take a lot of time and dedication. But if disappointments or anxieties are holding you back, break free. You may well find that writing’s just what you need to persevere.

A Review on Reviews

When I started playing around with the idea of writing a novel, I learned quickly that asking for one’s opinion was risky.  Candidate A of that short-lived experiment turned out to be my well-meaning mom.  After completing a page or two of the story that would become Forgetting My Way Back to You, I proudly begged her to read it, and it didn’t take long for her to point out the unrealistic elements in it.  I later realized the truth in her gentle remarks, but as a hormonal sixteen-year-old, I succumbed to the discouragement of being human and gave up on the draft.

Once I became serious about being an author, I knew I’d have to toughen up if I wanted to survive.  I had to allow someone to proofread my work, and if all went well, I’d work with an editor one day. (See  Editors: A One-Person Jury or a Friendly Doorman to the World of Readers?)  Then, of course, I’d have the fearsome yet delightful prospect of friends, family, and total strangers alike able to critique my every sentence if they wished.

Why hadn’t I gone into accounting?

Nine years after my experience with Candidate A, that prospect came to fruition with the release of Husband in Hiding.  There was no turning back; my book was in people’s hands and on their lips.  To my relief, everything I heard initially was great.  No one could put the book down, they told me.  They were invested in my characters and plot twists, and even the professional reviewer I sent it to gave it more praise than I ever expected.  Was it really this easy?

No.  Within a month, I received a pretty critical opinion from an unexpected source.  Thankfully, it was said in private, and I could laugh it off.  In truth, though, it crushed me, and the pain stuck with me for weeks.  I may not have quit like I did as a teenager, but doubts plagued me for some time.

I recovered, however, and thankfully, that was the harshest review I received.  Still, a writer—especially a worrisome one like me—often wonders how their future stories will go over with readers.  When I finally had my second novel published, I kept worrying if it would disappoint those who enjoyed my debut and were anxious for more.

One month after its release, I can say the reception’s been good…but I’m not yet releasing the breath I’ve been holding.  Like I discussed in a previous post, books are like their authors’ babies.  We’re protective of how others view our works.  Comparisons, I’m learning, can be tricky to hear —even if they’re favorable.  After all, no parent wants someone to say, “Your baby’s so much cuter than his big brother!”

As scary as it is, though, I encourage my readers to review my books on Amazon, Goodreads, and/or elsewhere.  Good or bad, they inform other readers about what they can expect and help me grow in my craft.  Just, please, don’t dump a whole truckload of fertilizer on me!

cow-dung-272827_1280

And to my fellow authors, I can’t pass along a foolproof way of handling criticism.  I haven’t mastered it myself.  However, what I keep in mind when I hear a less-than-glowing remark is that my favorite authors disappoint me from time to time, but do I give up on them?  Nope.  So, why give up on myself?

GUEST POST-Behind the Pages of Teal Paisley Tights

Today’s a huge day for my friend and fellow author, Barbara Brutt. Her new contemporary romance novel, Teal Paisley Tights, leaps into the writing world, making Barbara a first-time published author! Like Forgetting My Way Back to You, it takes place in Pennsylvania, and though it’s just been released, it’s been in the making for the better part of a decade.

The 8-Year Journey of Teal Paisley Tights

Books have always been a love of mine. And though I read a lot as a child and teenager, becoming a writer was never on my radar. In fact, I planned to be a teacher. But then, halfway through college, I had a bit of a crisis: I loved kids but I LOVED English. So I switched my major—easiest and best decision of my life.

And with that switch, I started a writing concentration. My writing professor, Kim Peterson, asked me if I wanted to work on a novel.

*cue brakes squealing*

Me? Write a novel? I read those. I didn’t write them.

But even as those practicalities ping-ponged through my head, my heart leapt forth, “Yes! Yes!”

The Creation of a Character

Jadyn, originally named Janette, slid into my life in a flurry of teal paisley, random shoes, and messiness. And I liked her immediately. Sure, Jadyn was annoying with her people-pleasing tendencies and her over-packed schedule. But I loved her anyway.

And so I let her story come forth in a bunch of really bad writing. Because let’s be super honest, first drafts are pretty crappy.

IMG_4564

Rewriting and Rewriting and Rewriting

By the time I graduated college, I had a novel-length work, and I knew I wanted to see it published. I also knew that I still needed instruction and guidance. One day I was creeping on a favorite author of mine (Hello, Sandra Byrd), and I discovered that she did novel writing coaching.

I signed up so fast (and got a job at Dunkin Donuts to fuel the dream).

And this novel writing coaching with Sandra Byrd was like a 6-month boot camp for Jadyn and her teal paisley tights. I wanted someone to show me my weaknesses (and strengths) as a writer, and Sandra Byrd definitely did. My favorite weakness is having no idea how to create tension (I don’t like tension in my life so I don’t know how to write it).

My final question to Sandra Byrd when we closed out our last coaching session was, “Do you think I have what it takes?”

I’ll never forget her words. She told me, “I don’t know if you have what it takes, but I know your story does.”

And you know what? I love that. I love that it was about the story and not me.

A Trail of Rejection

That first rejection was a hard one. Why? Well, because I actually never heard back. And that’s normal (apparently for the industry). But nothing is worse than that silence, right??

When I received an actual email rejection letter, I did a happy dance. I know, weird, right?03F9432C-1975-4C1C-9CFD-BAAD205496F2

But here’s the thing. I loved KNOWING. And I saw that tangible rejection as a badge of I’m-actually-a-writer-trying-to-do-this-book-thing. I’ve kept them all. Each rejection felt like another confirmation that I am a writer. Sometimes I was sad, though, like when one of my favorite agents turned me down (does anyone else dance out sad emotions?).

The Publishing Dream Comes Alive

In November 2017, almost seven years after I met the main character of Teal Paisley Tights, I received word that Vinspire Publishing wanted to publish my novel. And now, today, on November 15th, Teal Paisley Tights will be released to the world.

If you’d like to keep up with my book news updates, you can follow me on Instagram at @CordiallyBarbara. I can be cute sometimes.

About Teal Paisley Tights

After graduation, Jadyn Simon expected to launch her art career. Instead, this PittsburghIMG_8923 native finds herself locked into a low-paying marketing position with an impossible boss.

Evicted from her apartment because of a small spending problem, she is forced to move in with her know-it-all sister. While everyone else plans a neat, buttoned-up life for her, Jadyn longs to paint professionally. Stretched like canvas between responsibility and dreams, she must choose.

Will practicality always win?

Buy it today on Amazon or another retailer listed on VinspirePublishing.com

About Barbara Brutt

headshotBarbara Brutt, a born and raised Pittsburgher, spent her growing-up years with her nose in a book. After claiming her bachelor’s degree in English, she plunked down hard into a smattering of jobs from shop girl to communications director with a healthy dose of nanny and house-cleaner. Flying to new adventures is her favorite, especially on an airplane or aerial silk. Barbara adores ice cream and only buys purses that provide room for a book or two.

Barbara talks books, aerial silks, faith, and travel on her blog.

Find Barbara on her website: www.BarbaraBrutt.com

Behind the Book Launch

Back in 2015 when I was a first-time author, I had dreams of having my publisher throw me a big book launch, preferably in New York City, with a celebrity-packed guest list. I’d seen them depicted on shows like Castle and heard Kelly Ripa talk about going to such on multiple occasions. Thus, I waited to be clued in about my glamorous night of cocktails and compliments…but my invite never came.

Once I realized the reality of it, part of me was relieved. I don’t like to be the center of attention and force people to buy my book. Meanwhile, a very good friend wanted to celebrate my accomplishment by throwing me a party. I wanted no part of it. Besides my reasons mentioned above, I didn’t want to come up with a guest list or—most importantly—let people spend money on me.

A few months later, though, my research on marketing stressed how productive a launch is. With that in mind, I began to reconsider my stubborn position. Still, I wanted it to be cost efficient to me, my family, and friends, and I didn’t want the hassle of inviting guests.

Hence, we compromised, using my alma mater as the venue to a public launch. I advertised it in the local paper and post office, and we spread the word. To give it a party-like feel, some chipped in and provided finger foods and desserts. Plus, my friend who started it all decorated, transforming the room where I once had lunch.

Concerning the release of Forgetting My Way Back to You, there was no debating; the first launch went so well that we had to have another one. We planned all year, with forget-me-nots as the theme. Our first get was the centerpiece, which featured a forget-me-not scented candle in a lantern and packets of forget-me-not seeds. We also implemented several of the story’s elements in the other decorations and giveaways.

While I’m still waiting on my fancy gala, I’m so thankful for the two great evenings I’ve had so far. We may not have had starlets, best-selling authors, or escargot, but we had beloved relatives, friends, and former teachers set aside their time to come share in my excitement. To me, there’s no better way to cap off a thrilling achievement and start a new chapter.

“Forgetting My Way Back to You” Release: Twelve Years in the Making

Today, I officially become a two-time published author with the release of my new love story, Forgetting My Way Back to You.  Over the course of several months, I’ve posted multiple blogs about it, but I haven’t given you the true Behind the Pages details that make this book so special to me.

Like any book, Forgetting My Way Back to You started as a tiny seed.  In this case, the seed was in a sixteen-year-old girl’s mind, where it could’ve easily died of hormone overload!social-1206614_1280  Jokes aside, I was going through the throws of teenage life with the drama and yes, tears, and I wished I could forget my troubles.  If only I could get amnesia and forget them…

I attempted to write my first draft in the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school, but I soon figured out how unequipped I was at that age.  After I graduated, though, I went back to it, and despite some setbacks, I finished it in about two years.  To my thrill, it attracted immediate attention from a well-known publisher, but—still in the days of snail mail—they lost my manuscript.  It worked out for the best, however, since they closed their doors within months.

While proud of it, I began to see, again, my immaturity shine through in the plot.  It chronicled the travails of an engaged couple being pulled apart by the groom’s ex-girlfriend, who schemed to sabotage their relationship.  During an argument on a Florida beach, the bride was hit by a rogue wave, and the head trauma she suffered caused her selective amnesia.  Melodramatic, you say?  Yeah, I realized that, too, so I set it aside for a while.

Meanwhile, I had similar doubts about a high school romance I wrote, and I pretty much marked them both down as writing experience, never to see the light of day.  In time, however, I saw hope for the two and realized what they lacked: each other. Thus, I decided to insert parts of the high school romance as flashbacks into the one about amnesia.  As a result, the couple’s history enriched the story, giving Charlee, the protagonist, more to lose when she forgets her boyfriend, Hunter.

I resumed shopping it to publishers in 2017, and my persistence paid off; three publishers showed interest in it within the first three months.  Of course, I ended up with Vinspire Publishing, who released it almost one year—to the day—later.

The experience was a long, mostly uphill battle, but all in all, I’m grateful for it.  It gave me experience and taught me a lot about myself both professionally and personally.  I’m proud of it more than I am any of my works to date, because of how far it’s come and how much I’ve gained in the process.  I hope the time and care I’ve given it will translate to readers, and give them an ‘unforgettable’ few hours of enjoying it!

About Forgetting My Way Back to You

At one point or another, everybody finds themselves wanting a second chance, whether it be missing the ForgettingMyWay 500x750mark on an investment, failing to live up to a certain goal, or letting a true love slip away. It’s very seldom, however, that one receives the proverbial do-over.

Charlee Stoll and Hunter Jett become the modern-day exception. After a decade-long estrangement, the high school sweethearts reconnect when Hunter, fresh off a career in arena football, returns to his hometown. Their reunion catches both of them by surprise, and they quickly recapture the love they once shared. When Hunter begins to rethink his choices, though, tragedy strikes. During a heated confrontation, Charlee’s thrown off a horse and sent into a week-long coma.

When she awakens with no clue who he is, he seizes the chance to right his wrongs, but it proves more challenging than he expects. On top of romancing her, he must overcome her father’s displeasure, another ex-boyfriend vying for her love, and her own mission to regain her memory. Through charm and deception, can he win back her love…before she discovers the truth?

Buy on Amazon for $12.99 for paperbacks or $2.99 on Kindle.  Go to VinspirePublishing.com for more retailers.

Character Spotlight: Mabel Stentz

Over the past few weeks, I’ve introduced readers to a few of the main characters from Forgetting My Way Back to You, my upcoming novel, through character spotlights.  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 final edition sheds light on Mabel Stentz, the protagonist’s dear older friend whose frisky wit all but steals the story.  I based her on a close family friend I looked on as a grandma, who I often told I’d write a book about her one day.  Almost fourteen years after she passed, I’m so thrilled it’ll soon be out for readers to enjoy getting to know her and her undying spunk.

August 26, 2013

Community Spotlight: Resident Reflects on Fifty Years in Coatesville

By Terry Cinders

The Times frequently features articles on Coatesville’s longtime residents, and these are some of my favorite to put together.  Today’s is no exception.  Having moved here in the summer of 1964, Mabel Stentz may not have lived in our town the longest, but she probably has one of the liveliest stories on what brought her.

“I was a telephone operator in Louisville, Kentucky, and I spoke with a gentleman who needed to make a business call.  He had a deep voice, which made me wonder what he looked like, but I tried not to let that on since I’d been reprimanded before mabelfor flirting with callers. Nonetheless, my distraction made me connect him to the wrong line…twice, in fact!  When he called back the third time, he surprised me by how calm he was, and before I transferred him again, he asked if he could take me to dinner to see if I was a better date than an operator.”

The man proved to be Roy Stentz, who worked from 1934 to 1969 at Lukens Steel.  He’d gone to Louisville to look at other plants’ new equipment and determine if Lukens should invest in such.

“We ended up going out all three nights he stayed in town.  Before he left, he wanted my phone number, saying he’d lost trust in the help at the telephone company.”  She laughed.  “We kept in touch, and he proposed a couple times, but I refused.  I liked big city life and wasn’t going to let some man—even a very good-looking one—settle me in a quaint town.  He, of course, wouldn’t leave the factory, so that was that.”

A misfortune, though, made her reconsider.

“Not long after we broke up, I went with some friends to New York City.  The car only had one bench seat, and there were six of us, so two other girls and I sat on newspapers in the back.  I was over forty, so my hips and I were never so glad to see the Brooklyn Bridge!  My glee was short-lived, however.  Our first night, we were mugged at gun point.

“I’d never been so scared, and it made me realize how the world was changing.  We barely had enough money to get home, let alone spend a week in Manhattan like we’d planned.  So, we replenished our newspapers and headed back.  Within an hour, I’d decided I was going to Coatesville, and that became my home.”

Stentz hasn’t ever regretted the decision, having grown to love the small town.  Her husband died in 1991, but she didn’t consider returning to Kentucky.

“My sister had moved to the area, too, by then, but I stayed, anyhow!”

At age ninety, she’s lived for the past five years in Harrison Home and enjoys playing Bingo, as well as visiting with her friend, Charlee Stoll, the center’s physical therapist.

“That girl is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met…and it isn’t just because she brings me extra desserts.”

When asked her secret to longevity, Stentz replied, “Good food and good men!”

 

Also see

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!”

Also see