Jan 2, 2010

Query: The Rough on the Diamond

Dear Agent,

The Rough on the Diamond takes game of baseball where it's never been before: the barren plains of West Africa.

Blake Portis is an ex-backup catcher who has failed as a ballplayer, a broadcaster, a coach and a human being. All he has to show for his years in the major leagues is enough money to buy anything he could ever want and not a single thing he truly needs. Fed up with the game that turned its back on him and on the verge of a personal breakdown, Portis gets one last chance through a job as a scout in the baseball wasteland of Africa.

Portis soon realizes prospects are nowhere to be found and plans to give up, but a chance encounter takes Blake to the small nation of Senegal, where a peculiar doctor has started a baseball program out of the dust. What he finds in Senegal – young boys with a passion for the game and true, unadulterated talent – makes Blake remember why he loved baseball in the first place. In partnership with the doctor, Portis helps guide the baseball program toward its ultimate goal: an African-born player in the major leagues. Along the way, Blake Portis finds love, hope and, ultimately, his own salvation in the land of the griot storytellers.

For over 10 years I worked as an editor, reporter and sportswriter at newspapers and magazines of all sizes across the Midwest, winning numerous writing awards from the press associations of Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas.

The Rough on the Diamond is complete at 80,000 words. Thank you in advance for considering it. May I send you a synopsis, sample chapters or the full manuscript?


Matt Kelsey


Seven years ago,a frightened five year old escaped from his kidnapper, hid in the woods for days, and finally surrended to the Hawthorns who found him scavaging from their cafe trash cans. He's known as MICK HAWTHORN today and the most frightening thing that's happened to him lately is kissing JULIE RAINWATER at a summer Band picnic.Then the nightmares begin.
A new preacher has come to Jasper, Arkansas, population 500. As his generic prayer for a safe sports season rolls over the students at the first school pep rally, Mick is shocked to recognize the voice he feared as a child. But PASTOR RICHTER is charismatic and the community flocks to join his congregation.
Mick confronts Richter, who laughs and tells him that no one will ever believe his story. When Julie and some of the other girls begin attending extra study sessions at the church and plan a trip with Richter to present a play at other churches in St Louis, Mick knows that the man has chosen his new victims.
Mick joins the drama group, persuading Richter that he holds no grudges for his mistreatment. During a storm, the students are abandoned at a cabin on the way to Missouri. Waking from a drugged sleep, Mick forces Richter into releasing two of the girls, but nearly loses Julie as the preacher attempts to drive away.
The final solution to stopping Richter is up to Mick. Even though he is smaller, he attacks the man, drives him into the woods, and contacts the authorities. Sometimes even a boy has to summon the force within himself to be the hero.

Second Sight is a 40,000 word novel for middle grades.