Ginger Scott rocks our romance worlds, and I’m thrilled to present her latest release, The Hail Mary (The Waiting Series Book 3). Not only is she this week’s newsletter sponsor, but we have a very personal guest post by this author, and an excerpt too!
P.S. These must be read in order so here’s the The Waiting Series Reading Order.
Take a look:
Turns out, this was the book I needed to write.
That headline sorta wrote itself for me. Ironic. Let me explain. To get there, I’m gonna have to take you back to the very beginning. Some of you may have heard this story before, but there’s more to it now, so I beg you…read on.
I got the writing bug when I was about eleven years old. It was a copy of Judy Blume’s Forever, which…is still one of the best coming-of-age stories written. I got it for a quarter at the Goodwill, and I devoured it and decided I would make something just like that someday.
Fast forward to a responsible college graduate who also knew she wanted benefits and to not be homeless, I had found the fiscally responsible connection to my writing passion—a journalism degree. Now…those of you in the know realize how funny that “fiscal” comment is because journalists…they make less than teachers. Even better…I married a teacher. Ha!
I loved my journalism career, however. Mostly, I loved finding the perfect words to tell other people’s incredibly compelling stories. I have some I am epically proud of, and if you hit me up, I’ll share them with you anytime you want. While I loved the research-writing-non-fiction-short-form world, though, there was still this screaming eleven-year-old inside telling me to get off my ass and write the book! “You know…the one like Forever?”
That screaming went on in my head for years. The plot etched itself inch by inch into my dreams and soon daydreams. I’d moved from journalism to digital marketing because…duh…it pays a shitload more!
About 15 years ago, I finally started putting my book down on paper. I wrote the first chapter, which I’d memorized by that point, in a whirlwind at around 2 a.m. one wee morning. The next week…chapter two. I got to about five, and then (insert screeching tire noise here)—I stopped.
Yup. What was I doing? If I finished this thing, I’d have to show it to someone…and then they might say they didn’t like it. If I wanted to be published I would definitely have to show it to someone. So…yeah…might as well just tuck it away and carry it around instead and just call it a pipe dream.
Truth be told, pipe dreams are disappointing as f*ck. They aren’t rooted in reality. They’re impossible. And indulging them just makes a pit feeling scorch the lining of your stomach. I scorched for a decade. It sucked.
Then, on my husband’s faith and prodding…I finally got busy. He made me take days off from work to do nothing but write. I grew obsessed. I gained some major balls and then on Tax Day 2013, I self-published Waiting on the Sidelines—a coming-of-age story about a girl with a boy’s name growing up in a small town and falling for the “it” boy. It was my everything—a book about all the shitty things we go through when we’re teenagers and learning about ourselves, about love, about friends…and enemies. It was painfully real. That was important to me.
Sometimes, the hero in the story is a real asshole, and makes you scream for our girl not to forgive him. But boys can be assholes, and us girls…we sometimes love them anyway. And sometimes…they mature, they grow into better people…and we get to grow together.
This…with the help of book 2—Going Long—was what my high school to college duet was going to be all about. I was satisfied when it ended with Going Long. College sweethearts with the future before them.
And people did ask for more. Hell…some of you begged, bless your hearts! I loved that people loved this couple—Reed and Nolan—as much as I did. But their story was done. They were done. That was it.
Nope. No more. Riding off into the sunset with hopes and dreams and a bright future full of…ah hell who was I kidding.
It took about five years for the nagging in my head to get loud enough. I’d known their future all along. I just thought I was fine with it living in my head and not anyone else’s. Until Reed and Nolan started invading my dreams…and then my daydreams. A storyline that was vital became obnoxiously demanding. And soon, nothing else I wrote felt worthy because it was just getting in the way of this…this…thing! A book 3!
So, you see, you were right all along. They needed a third book. They needed to show us what being grown up together was like—what they could survive…and what they couldn’t. They needed some karma, too! They needed to be parents, and to keep more of you awake at night, not just me! I needed to write this story.
And so, The Hail Mary was born. And it flew out of me. And I truly have never felt more satisfied and confident in a book in my life. This trilogy (it’s really done now…pinky swear) is everything my eleven-year-old-self wanted it to be one day. It’s just the right angst and gut twist in the beginning, the right heartbreak and swoon in the middle, and the ahhhhhh yes!!! in the end. This is my Judy Blume Forever stretched out into a glorious lifespan of a couple I will carry with me always.
It’s small-town football, gossip, bullies, drugs and alcohol, teenaged attitude, first times, first mistakes, wannabe adulthood, failures, successes, tragedies, college rites of passage, life, family, setbacks and steps forward—and it’s everything.
It’s my hail Mary.
And I hope you love every word.
I can honestly say I do.
The clock tells us that sixty minutes of football is played. The game takes three hours from first snap to final down. My dad always liked to point out that actual ball in play only happens for a total of eleven minutes, though.
That’s a small number to have a huge impact on the outcome of sixty. I’ve always taken that little fact to heart, and today…today, I was wicked for exactly eleven minutes.
I’m sure I’ll feel it all later. I know Nolan probably left, or at least retreated and didn’t watch every play as it happened. I was careless. Wild abandon, I think is what the ESPN reporter said in the media room. Whatever I was, I know this—I was great.
I felt great. I feel it now.
I’m one of the last to leave the locker room. I’ve been waiting for Jason to do his work, to field the calls and set up the interviews that he knows I’ll do. I finally get a text to meet him outside when I’m done. I pull my bag up on my shoulder and hobble into the hallway. Nolan’s waiting against the far wall, her expression one that I think she’s worked on for the last hour to perfect. I see the cracks in the slight smile, the tinge of worry in her eyes. They start to slope.
“Come here,” I say, dropping my bag to the ground and stepping into her. She folds into my chest and I wrap her up in my arms. It breaks me to feel her shiver with tears.
“Shh,” I hum as I kiss the top of her head. She grips my jacket and sinks into me with all of her weight. I run my hands down her back and hold her steady.
“Baby, I’m fine. It’s okay,” I say. She quivers again, but nods.
“I know,” she sniffles.
I pull back just enough to cup her face in my hands and rest my forehead on hers. Her eyes are closed so tight. I swallow because I’ve never really seen how this affects her. I was so out of it in the hospital when she showed up, and through recovery I was so focused on…well…me.
“I’m sorry,” I whisper, rocking us both side to side, alone in the cold concrete hallway in the underbelly of L.A.’s stadium.
“No…don’t do that. You don’t have to,” she says, grabbing onto both of my wrists. She licks at her lips, eyes still closed but working to open. She blinks a few times with her stare at my chest before her eyes flit up to mine.
“Don’t apologize, Reed. You are so gifted. You were amazing out there…like you always are. I just…I’m so sorry, but I can’t watch.”
It breaks her to say it to me.
“I know,” I nod, repeating again and again. “I know, and it’s okay.”
I hold her, swaying like this, for several minutes until the nervous beating simmers in her chest. She grips my hand, searching for it in a panic when we turn to walk out to the lot where Jason is waiting. Her grip gets tighter with every step we take, and when I have to let go at the car she flexes her stiff fingers as we part.
Jason takes over the conversation for the car ride. He’s got me doing two phone-ins, one for the ESPN radio show and another for the NFL channel. I’ll pre-tape a pregame for next week’s Monday night game, and that should do it. It’s part of the contract, being the face of the OKC brand. Truthfully, I don’t mind that part all the time. But after my injury, the questions got grating—they got personal. I just didn’t like people sizing up what they thought of me and deciding for themselves if I would ever be the same on the field. That shit got in my head. I got rid of it tonight, though.
Jason leaves us at our hotel, and I rush to get upstairs to be with Noles and make everything right for her. I need her to be right, because tonight for me was the most right I’ve felt in a long time. If I’m capable of more nights like this one, I just have to keep chasing them.