(This is the first in a series of blogs for my new middle grade novel, A Whole New Ballgame, the first book in the Rip and Red series.)

What’s in a name?

I met Lindsay at a school visit about eight or nine years ago. She was the librarian at Cactus Ranch Elementary in Round Rock, Texas. We bonded over bad reality television, her love for the Texas A&M Aggies, and of course, helping kids develop a lifelong love for reading. We became instant friends.

I visited Cactus Ranch again the next year and the next. Prior to that third visit, Lindsay approached me with an idea. She wanted to know if I’d consider leading a writing workshop or “writing camp” with her third graders. I loved the idea, so together, we developed a program that meshed what I did as an author with the curriculum goals of the school and district. Right away, the other Round Rock schools wanted me to lead writing camps. So did schools in other districts in Texas. So did schools throughout the country.

It all started with Lindsay.

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In July 2010, Lindsay discovered a lump under her left arm. A couple months later, two days before her 29th birthday, she was diagnosed with stage three melanoma. On that same day, Lindsay learned that her first child, the one growing inside her for the last twenty weeks, was going to be a girl.

That fall, Lindsay fought the disease. For awhile, she was even able to work, and when I visited Round Rock for my annual set of school visits, she joined us when all the librarians took me out to Chuy’s. But for the health and well-being of her unborn daughter, Lindsay put off the more aggressive treatments.

On December 25th, Lindsay delivered her Christmas miracle, a healthy and beautiful baby girl. At the same time, she received the news that the cancer had metastasized. It had spread to her adrenal glands, ribs, chest, abdomen, and brain.

A little over a week later, Lindsay put on her Fight Like Hell black cancer bracelet and began the aggressive and intense treatments that included numerous surgeries.

In the spring, Lindsay and I, along with several other Round Rock librarians and Texas authors, were supposed to present at TLA, the Texas Library Association annual conference. Our presentation, “Librarians + Authors + Students = A Great Writing Workshop” focused on the value and importance of author visits. Unfortunately, as the date of the conference neared, it became clear based on the daily updates from her friends and colleagues Emily Gardner, Ami Uselman, and Dayna Dees Collings, Lindsay wouldn’t be joining us.

All spring and summer, Lindsay continued to fight like hell, but on October 27, 2011, Lindsay passed away. I learned that Lindsay passed while visiting schools in Round Rock.

Lindsay was an amazing librarian and an even better person. Her energy and zest for life was contagious. She steadfastly believed that every human mattered, that everyone had value. She touched countless lives.

To this day, that continues.

The library at Cactus Ranch Elementary is now called the Lindsay Jones Library.

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Each fall, the Fight Like a Girl 5K is held in Round Rock, Texas. The event, created by Lindsay’s friends and family, raises money for the H.O.P.E. Fund, which provides grants to patients and families experiencing financial hardships as a result of a cancer diagnosis. Last year, the race raised $16,000.00

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What’s in a name?

In my new middle grade novel, A Whole New Ballgame, the students attend Reese Jones Elementary. Reese is the name of Lindsay’s daughter.

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