The time has come where I must ask, beg, plead, threaten…whatever…for something absolutely crucial to the release of my upcoming series: Adventures of a Misfit. That is, I need kind volunteers to join my launch team for the first book, titled My Blasted Town.

The series will follow 11-year-old Joey Storthoaks and his large family (and larger brood of cats) as they live out hilarious adventures in the quirky small town of Saskariver, Saskatchewan. In My Blasted Town, a chunk of the main street blows up in a horrible construction accident. Thanks to the devious mayor, the town soon starts dying out. Enter Joey Storthoaks. He will save the day! Or he will die trying! Or he will hide away for fear of attention. For ages 9 and up, you will love this entertaining new series.

Now, back to business. Amazon, with their 4000 or so new books released each day, will not take my work seriously unless reviews come in early and often. As sure as Jeff Bezos is bald, it’s a fact of selling through them. And this is why I request your assistance.

If you agree to join my launch team, I will email you an electronic copy of My Blasted Town. The book is roughly 37,000 words, and so it won’t take long to read (or even just browse). Or, if you are tight for time, feel free to have a child in your home read and review it! The release day will be later in November.

If you wish to sign up, I need you to email me to say you’re in. I plan on emailing copies of the book soon.

Please consider helping me with this exciting series! I will forever be, to quote the dwarves in The Hobbit, “at your service” (bowing low, pretend beard sweeping the floor).


Daniel J. Millette


P.S. Here is a snippet from My Blasted Town. It takes place at the ball diamond. In it we learn that Saskariver’s explosion will now be shutting down more iconic businesses. Things are not looking good! Enjoy…

* * *


There was one final event needed to truly kick off the start of what promised to be a bizarre summer. The senior boys’ baseball championship still required playing. Saskariver was desperate for some good news. Let the boys of summer provide it. As it turns out, boy is the best word to describe at least one ballplayer.


“Are you ready? Get off the computer, and let’s go,” said Josh. Josh is super competitive.


“Just another two minutes,” said Johnny. Johnny makes a better programmer than pitcher.


“Everyone in the vehicle,” announced Dad. “Ellie, make sure there are no cats along. Joey, make sure there is a Sam along.”


To town we went. It was the first Saturday morning in July. My oldest brothers were about to play in the championship game for senior baseball. Their team name was the Saskariver Chickens. Other towns make fun of us for that, but what can you do when your team sponsor is the Lumber Coop? And besides, it beats what the team used to be when the Esso gas station sponsored them. The Bruins, with a large B on their uniform. Or, more specifically, the Esso Bs. Saskariver Chickens is a fine name.


The competition was from Saskariver’s rival town, Bigfort. No, it’s not true that everyone in Saskariver spits when they hear the name Bigfort. That’s a terrible accusation. We aren’t that low class. On the other hand, yes, it’s true that everyone in Saskariver calls their town Bigfart. We aren’t that classy, either—the Bigfort Millionaires. Millionaires is a suitable name. That mega international business sponsors them, the Ramona Lumber Store. This means they have the best equipment and uniforms that money can buy. But we have heart, determination, and a secret weapon to win.


Yes, I said we. I’m only eleven. The guys playing are much older and bigger. They’d crush a little person like me. I’d be annihilated. Destroyed. A few specks of debris. We?


“Hey Marc,” said Saskariver’s coach, Mr. Macklin, to my dad minutes before the game began. “We got a big problem.”


I was busy playing catch with my little brother Sam while listening to Coach Macklin talk to Dad. Sam and I always brought our ball gloves to these games. We liked to catch foul balls and then return the ball to earn a quarter—one game, I made $10.25. Tax-free, I might add.


“What’s that?” asked Dad, determined to help. No sacrifice was too big when the town of Bigfort needed to be destroyed.


“We’re short a player!” said Coach Macklin. “I just found out. The Lashburns and Zenons are the latest families to move from town. This explosion’s killing us. Well, we’re officially down to eight players. We’ll have to forfeit! Just like that!”


“Short a player? How about a short player? Take Joey,” said my dad, determined to help, no sacrifice being too big. Not even the life of his son.


“Joey?” said Coach Macklin.


“Me?” said, well, me.


“Put him in,” said Dad. “He can throw and hit better than at least two of your players anyway.”


“I guess we have no choice,” said Coach Macklin. “Joey, my wife can get you a spare uniform from the van. We’re starting right away. You go play center field.”


Within two minutes, I found myself standing at center field. I had a uniform that went down to my knees. I pounded my right fist into my glove. My hat was pulled low. Mainly to hide from the Bigfort parents and players who were jeering me, saying I had a lovely dress, and so forth. There is no mercy in a championship baseball game.


You’re probably wondering why Coach Macklin put such a little boy in center field. That’s where the action is! Why not right field? What my dad said is a fact. I wasn’t even the worst player on the team. I was probably slightly better than the left fielder Jared, and miles better than the right fielder Windermere. With a name like that, how could he not be bad at baseball? I heard Windermere once brought his Transformers toy set to right field while the game was going on. When a ball was hit his way, he transformed one of his characters into a rocket ship before chasing after the ball, making engine noises as he flew to retrieve it.




Wouldn’t you know it? First inning, and a hit was coming my way! More like it went twenty feet over my way and slammed hard against the fence.


“Get the ball, Joey!” screamed a few hundred frantic Saskariver residents.


I ran! As fast as my five-foot-minus-one-inch frame could take me, almost tripping over my uniform-dress. I ran so quickly that my hat went flying. I went to the fence, picked up the ball, and stepped into the most enormous throw I ever made. As the ball left my hands, I imagined it sailing over the second baseman’s head and one-hopping to the awaiting catcher. Instead, the ball two-hopped in front of the second baseman. Still, it was good enough to keep the hitter from getting more than two bases from his swing.


“Whoa! Willie Mays!” shouted a few of the old people at the ballpark. I think that was a compliment. My knowledge of baseball history doesn’t go much older than the Toronto Blue Jays.


Suddenly, I felt like I could do this. There was nothing to be afraid of! I could do anything with anyone of any age!


“Joey, you’re up next to bat!” said Coach Macklin at the bottom of the inning.


I felt like a dog wanting to hide from a thunderstorm. I couldn’t show fear. Not with everyone watching. Definitely not with my dad watching. My tongue felt my top front teeth as I gripped the bat and walked up to the plate. I could feel the spot where a baseball had once chipped both front teeth. That was in my own baseball league once. With a pitcher my age hitting me in the chops. When I crumpled to the ground, my coach said I could sit out if I was hurt. I told him I was hurt. Then my dad told me I wasn’t hurt, so I told my coach I wasn’t hurt. I stayed in the game. It toughened me up.


But this? I was about to face a seventeen-year-old pitcher from Bigfort! He was over six feet tall. He had a long mullet and a thick brown beard. I think his mouth was full of chewing tobacco. He was practically a man. He burped loudly as I approached the plate. I was about to die.


That poor pitcher didn’t know what was coming his way. It was time to unleash Saskariver’s secret weapon: my height. Or lack thereof. Being over a foot shorter than most players gave one distinct advantage—a minuscule, impossible-to-hit strike zone!


“Whatever you do, don’t swing!” said Coach Macklin from the sidelines. I knew what he was saying. I was to earn a four-pitch walk to first base. So, on the first pitch, I did what any eleven-year-old in my situation would do. I swung as hard as I could.


“Strike one!”


“Hey, no swinging!” said my dad. It being the championship game, he added, “Or you’ll be walking home.”


“Ball one!”


Three more pitches, and I was on base. An easy walk! I could get used to this.


Our next batter was Windermere. He struck out with just two pitches. Yes, two pitches. He swung even before the third pitch was delivered.


The game continued, the heat rose, and the tension escalated to a frenzy. I had two more balls hit my way. I fielded them flawlessly. And another time, a ball was hit out towards Windermere. I beat him to the ball and made the throw to the first baseman. Windermere just pulled up his glasses and sneezed. Like it was no big deal to lose out to someone half his size. He was making me look good.


However, Bigfort was not to be taken lightly. They could hit and pitch with the best of them. By the bottom of the final inning, it was Bigfort - 7, Saskariver - 6.


My brother Josh hit a single with the first at-bat. Jared and our pitcher Kyle both struck out. We were down to our final out. The season was about to be over. I was to bat next!


A wise man once said that baseball is ninety percent mental, and the other half is physical. Everyone knew the strategy involved here. The mental approach was simple. Bigfort could walk me easily. I wasn’t the problem. The problem was that Windermere was batting behind me. He’d be the easy out they needed. All they had to do was walk me, strike out Windermere, and they’d win the championship.


That same wise man who spoke on the mental approach of baseball also once said that when you come to a fork in the road, you take it. Well, I was at that fork, and it was time for me to take it, come what may.


My dad pulled me aside and laid it out for me. “You need to hit the ball. Put the ball in play. It’s our only hope!”


Dad looked over at Windermere. Windermere sneezed. The sneeze made the wooden bat in his hand tremble, which gave the pathetic boy a splinter. The splinter made him drop the bat on his toes. He started dancing around on one foot. With that, he tumbled over and hit our giant water cooler. It knocked over and splashed all over our Lumber Coop baseball gear.


“Make something happen!” repeated Dad, and he meant it.


With the crowd standing on their feet, I walked up to the plate. It was easy taking eighty-mile-an-hour pitches to earn a walk. I would stand far back in the batter’s box and let the pitches come. But now I had to crouch close to the plate. I had to stare the pitcher down. I had to be a man. Or I had to die trying.


The pitcher knew this. He smirked an evil smirk as only someone from Bigfort could. The first pitch came hard and fast. Still, it was a good one to hit. Only slightly high in the strike zone. My courage failed.


“Ball one!”


“Achoo!” cried Windermere.


“Come on!” shouted my dad.


“Come on!” shouted a girl’s voice from the crowd.


I tensed up. My grip on the bat was hard. I took a few practice swings to settle down. As I swung, I looked over at Coach Macklin. He looked at me, touched his hat twice, pulled his nose once, and did a chicken flap with his arms four times. It was part of the team’s secret code. Seeing as I was a new recruit, I had no idea what it meant. Maybe he was inviting us out for wings after the game?


“Swing and miss!” shouted my dad.


Not understanding, I stepped to the plate and took my low stance. The ball came in like lightning. I swung with all my might.




A clean miss! But as I swung, the catcher got distracted and dropped the ball. My brother Josh was already running to second base for the steal and made it easily.


“Good job!” said Dad.


“Good job!” shouted the same girl.


“I just stepped on my glasses!” cried Windermere.


Before I knew it, we were down to our last pitch. It was a full count. Three balls, two strikes. I looked over at my coach for another secret signal. His head was raised to heaven; his hands were folded in prayer.


I looked over at Windermere. He was crawling on all fours by the dugout, looking for a toy he’d dropped during his latest mishap.


By now, I was beginning to understand the pitcher’s ways. A higher leg kick usually meant a faster pitch, often a little higher in the strike zone. I needed to observe and be ready to swing quickly, a little high, all the while making sure I didn’t get killed.


The high leg kick, the pitch, the swing, the…




I did it! I made contact! The ball hit my bat!


“Run, darn it!” shouted Dad and everyone in the crowd not from Bigfort.


The ball sailed right through the pitcher’s legs, through second base, and rolled out towards center field. My brother Josh was already approaching third base when I started running. I knew my brother was going to try to run home and score. I could easily get to first base, possibly second, by the time they noticed me.


Josh rounded third and put on the jets for home. In came the throw. The catcher caught the ball ahead of Josh—a sure sign it was about to be game over! With what little hope remained, Josh put his head down and crashed into the catcher.


“Oof!” gasped the Bigfort catcher as the ball squirted loose. Josh touched home plate with his behind as he fell over. The game was tied!


By the time anyone noticed me, I was on my way to second base. I should’ve stayed at first base. I knew I was supposed to stay. But desperate times call for desperate measures. Windermere was going to get out next at bat anyway. There was nothing to lose. I raced hard. The catcher recovered, scooped up the loose ball, and threw it in my direction.


Still dazed from the impact with Josh, the catcher missed his throw. The ball scooted out into center field while I, in turn, scooted to third. I was expecting a throw to come my way, to take me out at third base. It never came. I slid face-first into third base, taking in a mouthful of dirt. Standing up, I realized that the centerfielder had misplayed the ball and was running back to get it.


There’s no time like the present to become a hero. Imitating my brother Josh, I put on the jets for home plate. As I picked up speed, running like a hurricane, I saw the ball arrive in the catcher’s mitt. A mere four steps away from the plate, I lowered my head and prepared for impact. Like brother, like brother.


“Oof!” gasped the runner. Yes, I bounced off the catcher and flew back three feet. I was out. The catcher raised his mitt in victory. As he did, the ball squirted from the glove in front of us. He was supposed to control the ball upon impact. I wasn’t out just yet!


The catcher dove for the ball. In doing so, he blocked my path to the plate. Standing in my way, he lunged forward to tag me. I danced to the right. He slid to my right side, and I waltzed back and to the left. I was a chicken, bouncing around, avoiding being taken for the slaughter.


Again, the catcher lunged to my left. I slid right. In desperation, he jumped forward. All six feet two inches of him. And my five foot minus one inch frame took the low route. That is, I slid forward right under the legs of the catcher. Heaving my body forward, I stretched for all I was worth. My left foot felt contact from the catcher’s mitt with the ball, hitting it. This occurred at the exact moment my right hand touched home plate.


“Safe!” yelled the umpire. As you know, tie goes to the runner.


The rest was a blur. Teammates raced from the dugout, at least those who didn’t first trip over a sleeping Windermere. I was hoisted onto the shoulders of Jared and Coach Macklin. The team paraded me around all four bases while the crowd of Saskariver fans cheered like there was no greater feat in the history of baseball. I looked up at the adoring mob of fans.


“Good job, Joey!” came the distinct voice of that girl. She had both arms in the air and jumped up and down like a kangaroo. Her smile was the size of Australia. It was Evelyn Carnduff.


I remember blushing when my brother Josh shouted, “Who’s she, Joey? Huh?”


I distinctly remember having my heart ripped from my chest a few minutes later. It came during the trophy ceremony. To present the coveted Lumber Coop Cup was Ron Spitballer. He had a microphone and was standing at home plate to make the announcement.


“Congratulations to the Saskariver Chickens who beat the Bigf…f…” Ron paused a second to ensure he didn’t say the wrong word… “the Bigfort Millionaires. I guess you could say that the Lumber Coop beat the Ramona Lumber Store. Hey?”


Ron paused again, expecting some enormous ovation. A few awkward claps ensued. He continued.


“You crowd of punks aren’t smart enough for my wit. Anyway, the player of the game award goes to the sawed-off little runt we’ve all been blown away by: Joey Storthoaks!”


People did clap at this. I came out and received a card for a free slushie at the gas station. Not the worst prize ever.


“And now I present the Lumber Coop Cup to Coach Macklin and his team of little chickens!”


The roar. The buzz. The feelings of victory. Moments to live for. What could possibly go wrong? I need to stop thinking this.


“Uh…” said Ron, growing reflective as the crowd’s roar faded. “I guess you players have another treat in store.” He cleared his throat. His dark, scary eyes looked sad. “You’ll be happy to know that you can keep your Chicken uniforms and pants. That’s right, they’re yours! Uh…” A pin dropping a mile away could be heard. Everyone was listening. “Uh… I regret to say that the Lumber Coop will not be able to sponsor the team next year if there is a team. The Lumber Coop…” he swallowed.


What was he going to say? Why was he so emotional?


“The Lumber Coop won’t be around much longer.”



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