The country road was so narrow, two cars couldn’t pass

Fragrant honeysuckle strong in my nose, irritating pollen in my eyes

Along with sweat, provided by the climb it took to get there

on my bicycle… on this quiet, early Saturday a.m.

My family away, I’m feeling as lonely as the empty fields

That butt-up against the newly-green hillsides

Slow songs come out staggered through heavy breathing

Songs about whiskey and wine and the aftermath

I am passed by an SUV which, once by, slams on its breaks

The passenger-side door flies open – the worry of a rider

In these days of heroin, meth, and the need for a fix

As I slow and prepare to pass to the left

a girl in her late teens, smiling, pops out and runs in front of the vehicle

“Daddy it’s alive. I’m not touching it”

“Just pick it up by the tail and throw it in the weeds”

He says, as I pass his opened window. And I see it

A skinny, four-foot black snake, innocently crossing the road

I laugh from his comment, and he laughs too,

As his daughter bends down and I ride on

I hear her squeal, actually a full-fledged scream

And I again laugh

She saved a friend of the farm and the farmer

I think of my long-departed grandmother, who called one by name

The SUV passes once more

I turn left and begin to climb

On a route that will take me home.


© 2018

© 2018


A New Day Rising

April Sunrise

A new day rising

Brings us hope

The week gone by

had firsts and lasts

Lifelong memories

sad goodbyes

Godly welcomes


Help to heal

races, tests

body blows

chapters, charity

coffee cake

humble pie

growing grass

spinning spokes

familiar faces


soulful songs

learned and


But a new day rising

Brings us hope.

















Near fifteen-thousand yesterdays ago I lower myself into a set of blocks,

kick each leg out behind me once, adjust my thumbs and fingers just so –

against the line I must start behind

Last one in, first one out. That’s my trick

My heart pounding in my chest, but I am not afraid or nervous

I am confident in what is about to happen

There is no pace to be had – only speed

I look down the track at row after row of hurdlers daunting as life itself

I wait for the gun

Each step is planned and I will find that familiar rhythm between each barrier I don’t even want to graze

click, click, click – extend- clup, click, click, click – extend – clup, click, click, click – extend – without slowing

head even with the profiled-horizon like viewing it from the top of a wooden fence – as the late Coach Joe Hartney always said

Strong through the finish – lean in and break that little string

For many, in youth, there is speed, without thought, the ability to accelerate, seemingly without effort

So easy, it is taken for granted, whether chasing down a fly ball, returning a punt, leading a fast break, or sprinting down a track

Unspoken, maybe unrecognized, yet beautiful, gliding, smooth,

I betrayed my high school teammates like my knee betrayed me

Turning my back on the unknown, hoping to preserve what remained

Now I watch my son run the track, just learning but full of potential, with the ability to accelerate, the ability to be…


© – 2018


Lantern Rides a Wave into Murrells Inlet

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Spring breakers and friends in and around the Grand Stand, if you’re looking for a good read to take to the beach this month or this summer, Misc: Everything Murrells Inlet is now carrying my novels The Long Shadow of Hope and The Lost Lantern. Just nine months released, The Lost Lantern is a tale that takes place at Myrtle Beach and Murrells Inlet.

Thanks to Berny Delgado, proprietor of Misc: Everything Murrells Inlet, for the opportunity. Her store is located at 4493 Highway 17 Business, Murrells Inlet. If you need reassurance, check out nearly 50 reviews on the books at:

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Check out the Facebook page for Berny’s cool store at:

Thanks Doak Turner, the Nashville connector, for your help in making this happen! And thank you for supporting both the Arts and the Independents!

Have a great Spring Break, and remember what Easter is truly about.

Thanks for reading, A.S.

Eternal Gap

Two more years under the bridge, this just doesn’t get any easier. Miss you, Sis. Happy Birthday. Thanks for reading, A.S.

Andrew Spradling

K n A cp Sept 82 

WHAT would this day bring,

From me to you.

More than a card, a gift,

and a long phone call.

Laughter, while comparing kid notes, our families,

our friends, and our lives.

You had but a couple of days with my oldest,

I promise you’d get a kick out of all three…

And they even more from you.

Big news from the west coast for you,

And from your Razorback.

We would have hooked up last weekend,

Or maybe next.

Drinks, dinner, friends, and neighbors.

Four short hours is sorely missed.

That’s nothing compared to this eternal gap,

Bridged with faith, love, and my undying adoration.

What would have developed differently?

What would have stayed the same?

Stability, just stable, could be your middle name.

You would exercise your sisterly right to call me out,

Each and every time it was necessary.

And that was more often than not.

View original post 69 more words

Saucy Characters, Indeed

These two men have seen as many football games as Belichick and Brady. One is a retired college football coach, the other, a sportswriter-turned-P.R.-exec. The coach now writes. The scribe now refs. Both are Italian. One is the father of four girls, the other, the father of four boys. Both had a profound impact on my life. And both just reviewed The Long Shadow of Hope, my first novel, the setting for which is a college football program at Lookout Mountain, Tennessee.

Shadow Copy thumbnailWhat else does Coach Tony DeMeo and Tom Aluise have in common besides a love of laughter, a taste for great pasta, and a boatload of athletic stories? Insight. Here’s what the coach, who once worked cubicle-to-cubicle with “Jimmy V” Valvano at Iona, and the sportswriter, who knew NFL Hall-of-Famer Randy Moss before he scored his first high school touchdown, had to say about The Long Shadow of Hope.

Tony DeMeo: The Long Shadow of Hope is a great mystery for any football fan. I really enjoyed the way Spradling developed the characters in the book. By the end, I felt like I knew them. The plot was intriguing & suspenseful. I think this book would make a great TV movie mystery.

Tom Aluise: Andy has created a work of fiction that is stocked full of interesting characters, jaw-dropping plot twists and page-turning drama. Not usually a big fan of fiction, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading Andy’s second book!

Powerful words from icons in their respective fields: DeMeo, who, after head coaching stints at his alma mater Iona, Mercyhurst, and Washburn, returned The University of Charleston (WV, formerly Morris Harvey) to football glory before his retirement; and Aluise, a Marshall University grad and beloved 30-plus-year Charleston Daily Mail veteran. And, reviews 27 and 28 for “Hope” on I am quite thankful to both of these fine gentlemen for their time and efforts.

CommonsenseIncidentally, I’m currently reading Coach Tony D’s Commonsense Rules for Everyday Leaders (also available on, a book filled with inspirational stories and simple, everyday rules and insights for achieving goals and succeeding at being a leader in any field, told by T.D. in a way only he can tell it. I highly recommend it!


The Art of Victory

Author’s Note: Book business to the side, the former sportswriter needs a moment… Thanks for reading, A.S.

I’ve watched a good bit of high school basketball in the past months, both my youthful alma mater, and other local teams as well. From what I’ve seen versus what I remember, a glaring fact emerged. There is an ART to closing out a win on the basketball court.

If you’re a high school player, the biggest lesson to take from this is (I’ll put it on top rather than make you work for it): Every Possession Matters!

If you lose a game by a basket, 3 points or less, afterwards, think back or watch film about all the wasted possessions. I’m not just talking about turnovers, because some T.O.s are inevitable. BUT, SOME ARE NOT! Some come from forcing a pass that wasn’t there, rather than making two quick passes to get the ball to the same place, or from dribbling too much RATHER than passing. Or from NOT PLAYING WITHIN YOURSELF, or in other words, trying to do more than you are capable of. Know your limitations.

How many times have you seen a great defensive steal followed by a mindless turnover, trying to force a fast break basket that isn’t there – trying to make that night’s highlight reel? You won the battle, back it out and relax, run your offense. When you gain an advantage, keep it.

Next, forcing a ridiculous, needless, ill-advised or just plain bad shot does not show up in the statistics as a turnover, BUT IT SHOULD!! There is not a shot clock in high school basketball. Take good shots! No defender can run as fast as you can pass it. If you are winning a game in the waning minutes and you force a (include above adjectives) 3-point shot – any shot – your opposition should shake your hand or kiss your cheek as they go the other way to win the game. YOU GAVE THEM THE GREATEST GIFT THEY COULD ASK FOR!

Conversely, NEVER reward the opposition’s offense by fouling a shooter putting up a desperation, low-percentage shot, or any 3-point shot. They are trying to turn the ball over to you – let them. Don’t give them a chance to correct their mistake at the charity stripe.

On both offensive and defensive fast breaks keep sprinting to the basket until there is a result. As I’ve told the biddy teams I’ve coached, if we have a fast break there’s a good chance we’ll miss the layup, just like the opposition. Keep going to the basket. When a second or third shot is made on a fast break by a second or third player, it’s because the defensive team got OUT-HUSTLED, hanging back and watching. You see it all the time after the first shot gets blocked. THIS MIGHT BE THE ONE POSSESSION THAT CAUSES YOU TO LOSE THE GAME!

Lastly, if you want to win basketball games, PRACTICE YOUR FOUL SHOOTING. If you can’t hit your foul shots down the stretch of a tight game, chances are you’re going to lose. This is partially your coach’s fault. If you’re not shooting 50 to 100 foul shots every day in practice – some of them while your winded – you’re being set up to lose. Shooting them in street clothes at lunch doesn’t count. YOU’VE GOT TO CARE ABOUT IT. Find your shot, work out your routine, do it exactly the same way every time, learn to concentrate, making them amid distraction. Until you AND your teammates do, you’re going to drop the close ones. If you’re one who hoists 3’s with reckless abandon, you shouldn’t be shooting less than 75 % from the line. AGAIN, CONCENTRATION IS THE KEY! The teams I played on shot just under 70 % from the line and won over 80 % of their games (combined).

When I played in the early 1980s our style was pretty boring I suppose. We passed it until we had an open shot. In fact, we passed up good shots for great shots. We could also nurture a win down the stretch. I watched two different teams recently lose late leads, and then, the contest. I asked myself is Coach Tex Williams’ “Victory” offense obsolete? If the man-to-man “D” gets too aggressive, you go to the line. If they overplay, you cut backdoor or back it out or take it to the other side. And, you can score out of it if need be.

If winning is everything, “Victory” is relevant.

© 2018