29 For 29

Sure, it’s a play on one of my favorite reoccurring sports series by ESPN. Hard hitting, unvarnished truth. It’s a reminder of why sports-related novels are few and far between – sports truths are dramatic enough presented as non-fiction.

Shadow Copy thumbnailIn this case, 29 represents the reviews written about my college football-based sports novel, The Long Shadow of Hope, AND, after a little over two years, the match – 29 reviews reflecting opinions about my second novel, The Lost Lantern, a  Myrtle Beach-Murrells Inlet-based tale of racial harmony and good over evil in the form of racial bigotry.

Hard-hitting, faced-paced plots are the goal for my novels. They haven’t been Michael Johnson out of the blocks, but as I put the finishing touches on my third, I feel The Lost Lantern picked up momentum over the summer in sales and perception, with a  4.9 average out of five stars. Here are some of the opinions rendered:

Lantern ThumbMRE4 – I didn’t want the story to end… August 21, 2019

The setting of this story made it the perfect book to read while vacationing in the Myrtle Beach area. The character development was so good that I found myself feeling angry and deeply rooting for the “underdog.” By the time I got to the last third of the book I couldn’t put it down because I was so engrossed in the storyline that I needed to know what was going to happen with the characters I had grown to love. I finished the final 100 pages on the road trip home. Really great read. Do yourself a favor and grab a copy.

A page turner from beginning to end! August 8, 2019

I loved the characters and the settings. From West Virginia to the low country of South Carolina. My favorite character was William and the story of the Lost Lantern.

Bandit – Fantastic surprises await! July 19, 2019

Spradling’s masterfully crafted characters in the accurately depicted Myrtle Beach of the 1980’s are intricately woven into a web I could not put down. I literally shouted expletives out loud at one point, then was amused at how attached I was to the people and the storyline. It really delivers as a great read of many facets: a love story, crime, murder mystery, and more! This is one you’ll suggest to your friends!

W.McCallister – Very addictive story. July 7, 2019

Very interesting and detailed story. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.
I love the way all of the characters are so entwined.
Several unexpected twists were very creative.

A.F. – Great summer read! June 12, 2019

Great summer read. Good story with many sub plots that come together nicely. Really good character building. Enjoyed the twists and turns that kept me engaged in the story. Definitely recommend and looking forward to reading more from this author!

I want to offer a sincere “Thank you” to all who have given me a chance and taken the time to read my novels. I truly appreciate you! Thanks for reading, A.S. 

Beaches, Books, and a Block Party

Drew n Ernest

Ernest Hemingway said, “There is no friend as loyal as a book.”

A great book stays with you. It grips you as you read. Compels you to push on. It re-enters your consciousness and your thoughts over and over as you go about your life. You long to go back to it. You know the characters. You like, love, or loath them.

This is what I am striving for as a writer. My second novel, The Lost Lantern (suspense – available on Amazon.com), a book ultimately about racial harmony, takes place in Murrells Inlet and Myrtle Beach in the late 1980s. The Long Shadow of Hope, my first book, is a tale about what can go wrong when greed, lust, and deception are put on the front burners. The setting? A college football program – Lookout Mountain State University in Tennessee!

I will be visiting MISC: Everything Murrells Inlet, this Saturday, Nov. 10, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., selling and signing some books, maybe singing some songs, and enjoying the Historic Downtown Murrells Inlet Block Party!

All Things picture 2Bernie Delgado’s shop, 4493 Highway 17, Murrells Inlet , is filled with the creations and home furnishings of over seventy local artists. Don’t forget, Christmas is just around the corner! Hope to see you there!


Book Number Two

The preface of a possible first-person sequel to my actual second book, The Lost Lantern, though my third novel will be available much sooner. Thanks for reading, A.S. 

I don’t exactly recall when I decided that making money was unimportant. It wasn’t a conscience decision. If you watched my wedding video, the event nine months into my gig as a low-paid sportswriter, you’d see I actually snickered when I repeated the line “For richer or poorer.” It drew some laughs from the crowd. But believe me, at that time I had no intention of doing what I have done.

I went along with the newspaper game because it was fairly high-profile for my medium-market, Carolina world. My beat was a little-brother university bull-rushing its way into bowl contention with highlight-reel future NFL-ers. My publishers were willing to catch me up to a living wage once I proved I was worthy of their paycheck. But this was in the mid-1990s. Ever since Gutenberg slapped a sentence together newspapers have been consolidating and shutting down at an alarming rate. The movement was crescendoing through the ’80s and into the ’90s and the internet, email, websites, and blogs only made it worse. Gutenberg would probably flip a letter tray or two if he observed the ease in which we now share information and print.

The only intelligent notion I ever had was to marry my wife, Katy. I knew she was going to be a rock star. Beautiful and brilliant, she skipped over ladder rungs like a dog after a squirrel’s tail. About the time my newspaper was purchased and we writing rats were told we’d soon have no jobs – albeit illegally, we later learned – she was holding down management positions in the green pastures of pharmaceutics and medical equipment.

I somehow landed on my feet, wooing a college president and multiple panels of interviewers, successfully jumping the fence into media relations. I became the pitchman, the occasional spokesperson, the principle writer of the alumni magazine, the advertising buyer, the events coordinator, the Speaker Series planner and talent booker, the photographer, and, like Gutenberg, the print shop manager, which alone would have been a full-time job.

For a couple of weeks the president took me around town like his new pet. I met influential members of his Board of Directors, money-men with vision. But soon I was just like all the other poor schleps that worked there. The big man didn’t care who stayed or went. I know, because I also wrote the classifieds and placed the national ads. His lone concern was donors and his pleasantries extended only to a tight circle of cabinet members.

As the economy tanked and colleagues moved on, additional duties were heaped on me like pallets on a bonfire. I wore more hats than that kid on “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.” Katy knew better than me that I was miserable. We had three children now (you may have guessed by the movie reference), the youngest of whom was about to start half-day pre-school. Katy was on the road three weeks out of four, pulling in mega bucks. And, I had an ace in the hole: my first novel was under contract. Like a rube jumping out of an airplane wearing a potentially-defective parachute, I signed my resignation, gave a month’s notice, and walked away. My name is John Gates, and my world is about to get weird.

© 2018


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 Amazon.com. 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 Amazon.com), 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!


Unique Sports Novel, Low Price

In appreciation of the success we’ve had in our first 10 months, The Long Shadow Of Hope, my first novel, is available to read on any electronic device for $1.99 for the next five days. Just download the free Kindle app for other devices. Buy it now and save it for summer! Paperback is available for $13.99. Thank you, sincerely, for all the support. Look for the release of my next novel, The Lost Lantern, in April. Thanks for reading, A.S.

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Read 20 reviews – 18 5-star – of a college football program gone awry – at same page. 


Hope’s 20th Review: Write What You Know

Author’s Note: Lance Carney is an author in his own “write.” A hospital pharmacist whose protagonist in his novel Ripped Tide: A Daniel O’Dwyer Oak Island Adventure is a – can you believe it? – pharmacist who reluctantly goes undercover to attempt to thwart a drug diversion scheme. Carney’s understated humor – you can hear it in his Amazon bio – makes the book sound like a hoot. It is first on my must-read list. As he points out in his review of The Long Shadow Of Hope concerning my background, writing what you know – using it as the backdrop – adds authenticity to the work.
On a personal note, Lance, a Dunbar, WV, native is a friend and former men’s league basketball comrade who I met through our mutual-amigo, Jody Jividen, one of the three departed souls to whom my book is dedicated, along with Mike Cherry, another shared friend, and Kelly Spradling Simmons.
Thanks for reading and thank you, Lance!  –  A.S.
on February 5, 2017

Lookout Mountain State University’s football team is undefeated and the team and community are riding high. Going into a bye week after seven wins, the future of the team and its star quarterback, Ben Wright, couldn’t be brighter. But lurking just below the big plays, the Top 10 ranking, the Heisman hopeful, the ESPN highlights and chatter, is an unethical snake, playing the system for all it is worth. Pay-offs are made, deals are brokered, innocent players are put at risk and big money rules.

The Long Shadow of Hope is an impressive debut novel by author Andy Spradling. It is much more than a sports story; it has intrigue, murder and romance. Being about a university and football, you almost need a program to keep track of the characters. However, once main players of the mystery are set, the plot begins to develop and the story flows nicely. As a former sportswriter and college administrator, Spradling has had a reserved seat to what goes on behind the scenes. He provides details in this book about a fictional university that only an authentic insider would know. Sports equals big money and greed often leads to ignoring the rules.

So break out the tailgate snacks and sit down with The Long Shadow of Hope; it was an excellent, enjoyable read and I highly recommend it.

Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
Read more The Long Shadow of Hope reviews or order your copy at:

First Step In The Empire

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Author’s note: Thanks to Emily and the staff at Empire Books & News for hosting my book signing last Wednesday evening. I had a great time and though we moved just a handful of books, The Long Shadow Of Hope is now STOCKED there, which is a first step in my estimation. I am pictured with a REAL book connoisseur, Mrs. Danford, Lakewood Elementary’s fabulous librarian. West Virginia Wesleyan and University of Kentucky-trained, she made the trek down to Huntington though I would have gladly delivered to her. Thanks Mrs. Danford and to everybody who helped spread the word! Here’s a little whimsy about getting started.

No matter where the journey ends,

From here to Timbuktu,

There is a common stride to take,

Whether three or ninety-two.

The final tally can’t be known,

Nor courage ’long the way,

Unless you burst out of the blocks,

“Get started,” as they say.

No matter what your goal might be,

Or what you hope to solve,

Unless that eager first-step-make,

You’ll waste your new resolve.

Both wins and losses come about,

By taking that great chance,

So dream, then take a solid step,

How else will you advance?

© 2016


The Long Shadow Of Hope is available at Amazon.com and Goodreads.com