Local romance author, baseball fan Alicia Thompson hits home run with new book

By the time author Alicia Thompson came to Florida at eight years old, she had traveled the world, from Texas to Saudia Arabia, with her family. Florida quickly became home. 

“I feel like a native,” she says. 

That feeling extends to America’s pastime. Thompson loves baseball, especially the Tampa Bay Rays and their home ballpark Tropicana Field, where she will hold her latest book signing this Thursday, June 20th in the Lower Ballpark & Rec. 

Thompson describes herself during her early teenage years: "I was a quiet Goth nerd. I wasn’t cool enough to be real Goth.” 

Starting out

By age 16, she was cool enough - and brave enough - to make her first submission to Harlequin, the well-known UK romance and women's fiction publisher. The rejection letter arrived shortly after that. 

Thompson knew she needed an agent. A big fan of Meg Cabot, author of “The Princess Diaries,” the popular young adult series made into hit movies, Thompson decided the best-selling YA author’s agent would be the perfect agent for her. She found the agent’s name in the acknowledgments of Cabot’s books and queried her with a letter and sample chapter. The response came back, “Not for me.” 

Following her gut feeling, Thompson wrote once again asking for another chance. This time, she sent nearly the entire manuscript. Several weeks later, Thompson came home to find a voicemail message from the agent saying she loved the book.

“I wish I still had that voicemail,” she says.

Once Thompson was established with an agent, she quickly sold her first book, “Psych Major Syndrome.” The debut novel was what is known in the trade as a YA book, “young adult” literature aimed at 12- to 18-year-olds. That success led to a book deal for a children’s series, “Go-for-Gold Gymnasts,” with co-author and Olympic gold medalist Dominique Moceanu. 

It appeared Alicia Thompson, writer and published author, was on her way. Thompson says she didn’t realize that “once you get on that path, it doesn’t mean you stay on that path.”

Provided by Alicia ThompsonAlicia Thompson“My first books were light and funny,” she says. ”But I went through a sad phase."

Shifting gears

That sad phase wasn’t for Thompson’s audience. Her agent warned her not to shift gears and genres, telling her to develop her new audience before jumping to another lane. 

It was time to find a new agent for her new phase. Thompson says that each time she’s shifted genres and styles, she’s been able to find the right agent to represent her. 

A wife and mother of two, Thompson has also established herself as a bestselling author while working an outside job.

“I always had another job,” she says. “I taught at USF, which was conducive to my writing, but I ended up taking a lot of the job home. When I worked as a paralegal, I could leave the job at the office. At home, I tried to set aside time from 9 to 11 p.m. for my writing.” 

That schedule is no longer necessary. Thanks to the success Thompson has earned, she's recently become a full-time writer. And the timing couldn’t be better. She is about to launch her most recent title, “The Art of Catching Feelings,” the story of an unlikely romance between a pro baseball player and his heckler, who set out to prove that true love is worth going to bat for. 

Book launch at The Trop

Kelsey Jagneaux, the events coordinator at Tombolo Book in St. Petersburg, says the June 20th book launch party is as much a celebration of Thompson as it is an introduction to “The Art of Catching Feelings,” which Penguin Random House just published. Tombolo Books is hosting the launch event in partnership with the Tampa Bay Rays and Berkley Publishing, an imprint of Penguin Random House. And where else to hold a book launch party about a baseball player than Tropicana Field? 

The evening begins in the Trop’s Lower Ballpark & Rec, where food and non-alcoholic beverages will be provided courtesy of the Rays. Alcoholic drinks will be available for purchase with a credit or debit card. Cash is not accepted. 

Attendees will enjoy a book talk between author Alicia Thompson and her conversation partner, Carmen Alvarez, a book influencer on Instagram and TikTok.  

“Alicia is outspoken and funny,” Alvarez says. “She gets people excited about the book and through our conversation, we shine a light on it…she brings the book to life. Alicia’s success is something others can look up to.” 

The evening ends with a book signing on the center field warning track. Tickets for the book launch party are available for $25. The price includes a copy of the book, food and beverages and an opportunity to have your book signed by Thompson. 

For more information and tickets, go to Tombolo Books The Art of Catching Feelings.
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Read more articles by Pamela Varkony.

Pamela Varkony’s non-fiction topics range from politics to economic development to women's empowerment. A feature writer and former columnist for Tribune Publishing, Pamela's work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, and in PBS and NPR on-air commentaries. Her poetry has been published in the New York Times. Recognized by the Pennsylvania Women's Press Association with an "Excellence in Journalism" award, Pamela often uses her writing to advocate for women's rights and empowerment both at home and abroad. She has twice traveled to Afghanistan on fact-finding missions. Pamela was named the 2017 Pearl S. Buck International Woman of Influence for her humanitarian work. Born and raised in rural Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Pamela often weaves the lessons learned on those backcountry roads throughout her stories.