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Old 12-13-2011, 07:14 PM   #1
BradC
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On the Road to See the PEBA on $25 a Day

“Write about what you know.” That’s an ages-old piece of wisdom, but in the case of Ron Collins, he sought inspiration in an unlikely place: the Planetary Extreme Baseball Alliance (PEBA), an online league that runs on Out of the Park Baseball (OOTP). (The PEBA and its sister organization, the League of the Rising Sun (LRS), are the subject of a previous article.) The PEBA is a rich universe, and it was the perfect place to set a travelogue called “See the PEBA on $25 a Day,” which is available in various formats at Smashwords as well as for Kindle at Amazon.

Collins is an award-winning published author whose short stories have seen print in Analog, Nature, Quantum SF, Asimov’s and many other magazines, along with a collection called “Picasso’s Cat & Other Stories,” which The Merry Blacksmith Press released in June 2010. (E-versions are available for Kindle and at Smashwords.)

Asked why he decided to write a baseball novel, Collins responds: “It all boils down to the fact that I wanted to play in the PEBA. I want to put 100% of my energy into a league, and I expect most owners in a league to have something close to a similar passion. Community is great, but I was looking for a league that was ultra-competitive (meaning the owners are truly skilled), and a league that breathed, that was filled with players who were characters in a bigger world. I want to play in elite environments. I thought the PEBA hit that mark and more, but there weren't any teams available. So I decided I would write for them until I bludgeoned them into submission.” He smiles at the recollection.

Collins succeeded in his endeavor and earned control of the Kawaguchi Transmitters, an LRS club. As of late 2011, he has been with the PEBAverse, as it’s known, for about a year, or two years of simmed game time. “I think the PEBAverse is insanely competitive,” he says, “and the LRS itself is remarkable for its environment and very realistic set of rules around player acquisition. It's a real challenge because the leagues are full of good general managers, and because John Rodriguez is one of a handful of elite commissioners in existence.”

He explains how his writing process on the novel began: “I started with this little travelogue piece about a college grad going to Duluth’s opening day game with his buddy, and it grew from there. I really had no idea what the story would end up being, and I had great fun creating the plot on a sim-by-sim basis. That's how it was written: once I realized I would hit every PEBA park, I planned out Casey and Don-o's road trip and once a sim was complete I would go through the games and write the next segment in the two days or so before the next sim so I could keep up with the PEBAverse. In the end I was really pleased with the result, and apparently a few others were too, since I've received several very nice notes about it.”

He adds: “I intend to write a companion to ‘See the PEBA on $25 a Day’ based around the LRS when I get a chance. That seems only fair.”

Casey Neal is the story’s main character, and for inspiration Collins drew on days long gone by: “Just before writing it, I had listened to a great little short story called ‘Still on the Road’ by Geoff Landis (which is a beautiful tribute to Jack Kerouac's classic), so I was in the mind of Kerouac and Neal Cassady. Casey is, of course, a name with deep baseball ties. I also knew that I needed a person who had free time on his hands, and I thought that making Casey a college graduate who couldn't get a job would be interesting--I made Casey a Russian history major in honor of my uncle, who also had such a credit and never really found anything to do with it.

“It worked out well because, while I never really knew where the story was going until it got there, I knew I wanted Casey to transform over his road trip, because that's really what baseball is about for the fan--about hope and growing up and growing old and creating relationships and playing and working and finding out who you are and sitting right on that ambiguous edge of childhood and being an adult. In Casey (and Don-o for that matter), I found a guy that let me explore all of that.”

Collins is a lifelong baseball fan, so he understands the deep romantic allure of the sport. “I can't remember not being a baseball fan,” he says. “I mean, some of my earlier memories are of lying on my grandmother's living room floor and watching the Cubs or the White Sox play while the adults played canasta or pinochle or whatever. I'm a National League guy by temperament, though, and I grew up in South Bend, Indiana and Louisville, Kentucky. So this molded me into a Cubs and Reds fan.”

Baseball is also a sport steeped in quirkiness, and that’s one of the reasons Collins enjoys participating in the PEBA so much: “Go to the site on Monday and you're likely to find an article about the fans of Niihama-shi celebrating their move from last place, complete with a picture of their fan base marching the streets with a ‘We Don't Suck!’ banner. By Tuesday you'll read about Gloucester's unsung hero Kurt Thornton. By Wednesday you might see a continuation of a storyline someone's been writing for three weeks on the investigation into the death of the team's owner. Naha Shisa's GM has been writing a long dialog detailing one of his player's ups and downs while fighting substance abuse and a bit of gender ambiguity. Every day there's something interesting to read about on the PEBA site.”

As for his own team, Collins has no shortage of drama either: “I've had a running storyline of six or eight segments outlining the relationship between my aging All-Star shortstop Rikiya Taketo and the team's spokes-model Misuki Yi, wherein the pressure of the paparazzi has caused great problems both on and off the field.”

OOTP provides the foundation for such creativity, and Collins says of the game: “It's more than a baseball game. Really simple as that. I can, and do, argue for changes and improvements in the OOTP model, but the fact is that Markus, Andreas, and the whole crew at OOTP have written a baseball framework with such outstanding realism that entire worlds can be launched from them if you get a strong enough group of human beings together who care about the shared environment they create.”

He continues: “I understand solo-league players, and historical simmers, and modern-day players. I know the people who play those ways get something equally valuable out of it. But for me it's 100% about the shared experience of this alternate world that is created by the collaboration between the development team and 40 or so wildly creative owners each playing the game under their own vision.”
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Old 12-14-2011, 07:46 PM   #2
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I wanted to add encouragement for those of you reading this interview to explore Ron's work through his website Typosphere. Those of you who have been reading posts from and using the development modifiers of "RonCo" (the name Ron goes by here on the OOTP forums) already know what a bright guy he is. He also happens to be a fantastically talented writer of science fiction. When Ron joined the PEBA, it inspired me to pick up his collection of short stories, Picasso's Cat & Other Stories: The Collected Science Fiction of Ron Collins. I found myself fully engrossed in these tales, and I cannot recommend this collection enough.

There are many talented writers working hard in outside of the mainstream spotlight who undoubtedly deserve greater attention. We value the entertainment, the thought- and emotion-provoking stories that great writers provide. Supporting the efforts of emerging authors is so important if we want to continue to enjoy great literature. Here's an opportunity to support not only a talented writer but someone whose contributions have bettered OOTP throughout the years. I can't think of anyone more deserving.

Many of Ron's stories are available for little-to-no cost through Smashwords. Browse through his bibliography and I'm sure you'll find something that catches your eye. Give it a shot, and let us know what you think here in the forums! If you like what you read, pass the word along to friends and family. You can feel good knowing that you've done your part to help an author get noticed.
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Old 12-15-2011, 09:07 PM   #3
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Thanks for your great work, Brad. And you, too, John. I appreciate those very kind words.
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Old 12-16-2011, 03:15 PM   #4
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You're welcome, Ron. I hope the coverage helps bring you new readers.
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Old 10-24-2012, 09:13 PM   #5
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Just in case you need something to do between games ... try a story with an OOTP background. Now on special:

Typosphere » Blog Archive » World Series Special!
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Old 03-30-2014, 05:37 PM   #6
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In case anyone might be interested ... I've marked baseball's opening day by making my story "The Mysterious Case of Shojiro Sano's Bats" available in various e-formats through Skyfox Publishing (my indie venture). This story is written against the backdrop of the PEBAverse's LRS (League of the Rising Sun). It also includes an excerpt of my PEBAverse novel See the PEBA on $25 a Day, which is--of course--discussed in this thread.

Here's the release note
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Old 03-31-2014, 02:09 PM   #7
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Thanks, Ron. I put this out on Twitter yesterday and will put it on Facebook today. I hope it generates some extra sales for you.
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Old 04-01-2014, 11:41 AM   #8
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Thanks, Brad!
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