The Backwards K

J.J. Hebert

Book Cover

GENRE

ROMANTIC DRAMA

    Core Theme

    LOSS

    TIME PERIOD

    20th Century (multiple decades)

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    MONEYBALL, TED LASSO, COBRA KAI, HUSTLE

    CHARACTER LIST

    • JET BRINE: 40S-50S. LEAD. FORMER MLB STAR WITH A GAMBLING ADDICTION AND AN
    ESTRANGED SON.

    • JAY BRINE: 20S-30S. JET’S ESTRANGED SON. AMATEUR BASEBALL PLAYER, HOPING TO TURN PRO.

    • LINDA: 40S-50S. VP OF OPERATIONS AT JET’S DATA-ENTRY JOB. LOVE INTEREST.

    • BOONE: 50+. JET’S GAMBLER’S ANONYMOUS SPONSOR AND CONFIDANTE.

    • PAUL FRANKEY: 40S-50S. JET’S FORMER TEAMMATE TURNED PRO BASEBALL SCOUT.

    • HOLLY: 40+: JET’S BOSS.

    Logline

    A washed-up professional baseball player works to overcome loss and addiction, find love and repair his relationship with his estranged son in this #1 Amazon best-seller that beat out Moneyball on Amazon in its first week of availability.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 35-54,55+

    Target Gender: Male Leaning

    Setting

    New England, Boston

    Based on a True Story

    No

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: self-published

    Publisher: MindStir Media LLC

    Year Published: 2017

    Starting Description

    Jet Brine strikes out without swinging in the bottom of the ninth, game seven of the World Series... Now, years later, he’s stuck in a cubicle, haunted by the ghosts of a marriage cut short, and dragging around the remains of his baseball career in a beat-up duffle bag.

    Ending Description

    He discovers that even though he's been trying to move on from baseball, his true calling at this point is being a professional scout through which he can help his son (also a baseball player).

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available

    Yes

    ISBN

    978-0999387245

    Mature Audience Themes

    Information not completed

    Plot - Other Elements

    Meaningful Message

    Plot - Premise

    Tragedy,Internal Journey/Rebirth

    Main Character Details

    Name: Jet Brine

    Age: 50s

    Gender: Male

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Complex,Masculine,Faithful,Uneducated

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Linda

    Age: 50s

    Gender: Female

    Role: Emotional

    Key Traits: Leader,Faithful,Engaging,Empathetic,Charming,Modest,Sexy

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Jay Brine

    Age: 20s

    Gender: Male

    Role: emotional

    Key Traits: Aspiring,Underdog

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Boone

    Age: 60s

    Gender: Male

    Role: mentor

    Key Traits: Leader,Gracious,Faithful,Engaging,Empathetic,Blunt,Funny

    Genre

    ROMANCE, DRAMA

    Brief

    After a career-ending strikeout during the World Series, an ex-MLB star struggles with a gambling addiction and the loss of his family. After taking a low-level data entry job and meeting the woman of his dreams, he tries to put his life back together only to discover that he must face his demons head-on to survive.

    Overall Rating

    FAIR

    Point of View

    FIRST PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: FAIR

    Characterization: FAIR

    Commerciality: FAIR

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: FAIR

    Premise: FAIR

    Structure: FAIR

    Theme: FAIR

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    The book profile feels mostly solid. There are just a few small things to consider. The first is to ensure that Jet Brine’s gambling addiction is mentioned somewhere in the summary. It feels like such a big part of his journey, especially in the second half of the manuscript, that including it feels warranted. Additionally, filling out the development pitch would help give interested parties an overview of why THE BACKWARDS K would work well as a television show and/or film project. Aside from that, great job!

    Draw of Story

    The story starts on a tense note, with a heart-pumping moment from Jet, just before he’s about to end his professional baseball career. We know that he’s feeling a bit of guilt from a fight with his wife, and that his team and its fans are counting on him. And we feel the pressure he’s under, which makes us want to stick around to see what happens. From there, we’re catapulted into the future, and see the consequences of Jet’s failure. It’s appropriately cringe-worthy and we sympathize with Jet’s plight. Overall, it’s a great entry point into the story and a good setup for what’s to come for the story’s protagonist.

    Possible Drawbacks

    At certain points, the story moves a bit quickly. For instance, there isn’t much time for us to settle into Jet’s present day before we see him getting his data entry job. It also doesn’t feel like there’s enough emotional build-up for Jet’s relationship with Linda. It’d be great if there was more sexual tension between them before Linda asks him out. It’d likely make it feel less jarring. Additionally, some obstacles between Jet and Linda when it comes to work might be interesting to play with. Do they have to declare their relationship? Is there any fall-out when Linda all but forces Holly to giveJet a second chance? How do Jet’s colleagues react to him dating a VP? It’s possible that we don’t see enough of a relationship arc between Jet and Jay either. Certainly, the conflict between them is clear, and it comes to a head when Jet gets ill on their visit. But it might be helpful to consider a stronger resolution between them. It’s great that Jet helps his son out with his career at the end, but it doesn’t feel quite as satisfying as it perhaps should because we don’t have much evidence of father and son mending their relationship, or at least the potential of mending the relationship.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY DOES NOT RELY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    The story of Jet Brine reads a bit like a cautionary tale. At the height of his success, he made a ton of mistakes that cost him his family, his career, and his money. But at the core of the story is Jet’s comeback. Perhaps not in baseball, but Jet’s journey is one of rebirth in terms of recovering the most important parts of his life. The grittiness of the story is appealing because it shines a light on the negative aspects of success. It also delivers a strong message: if you don’t nurture your relationships, you will lose them. It’s a widely relatable theme that remains approachable from start to finish.

    Fanbase Potential

    A story like this would certainly appeal to sports fans, but it’d also likely appeal to anybody who likes an underdog story. Jet’s journey has enough hiccups to be engaging, but it doesn’t ever get dark enough to risk alienating its audience. Fans of family dramas and/or romantic dramas might take an interest in this, and perhaps it could find an international audience as well thanks to its approachable themes.

    Awards Potential

    Depending on how its adapted, THE BACKWARDS K could have Awards potential. The lead roles, if handled correctly, could glean some attention above the line because of the extensive emotional range likely required from the actors. Below the line, things like Best Screenplay could come into play, too. And of course, things like score, costuming, makeup, etc. could all be contenders.

    Envisioned Budget

    LOW BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    MONEYBALL, TED LASSO, COBRA KAI, HUSTLE

    What’s New About the Story

    THE BACKWARDS K is unique in that it captures more than just Jet’s desire to get back into baseball. There isn’t a strong call for him to return to the sport in any capacity, which is a different take than some of the other IPs of this kind. Instead, it focuses on him coming back into himself and the life he lost. The lessons he learns are about the importance of family and relationships and taking control of one’s demons. That said, to make it more unique might mean focusing more on the development of Jet’s relationships, both his new one with Linda and his revived one with Jay. Some additional tension would be great, and stronger arcs would really drive home the story’s theme.

    Lead Characters

    Jet doesn’t want baseball back; he wants his life back. That alone makes him stand out more than other characters who play off some of the same tropes. He’s also self-aware, which is refreshing. And he’s unafraid to be vulnerable with a little encouragement from those around him. Essentially, he’s likable on the page and that makes us root for him, even when he isn’t making the best decisions.

    Uniqueness of Story

    Although THE BACKWARDS K has a lot of potential, it doesn’t feel like a rare gem quite yet. In terms of adaptation potential, the characters feel like they need a bit more development, especially when it comes to their relationships. Adding in some chemistry and sexual tension between Jet and Linda could elevate things a bit. And firming up the arc between Jet and Jay could make the ending more satisfying. Additionally, certain parts of the story feel like they’re glossed over. For instance, we don’t get much time to settle into Jet’s data entry job. We get a brief introduction to his colleagues, but none of them feel like they help drive the story. It might be interesting to play with these relationships more, and thus build out Jet’s new world. Juxtaposed against his career as a pro baseball player, the difference has got to be stark. Why not capitalize on it?

    Possible Formats

    Film: Indie, Streaming TV Series: Limited Run / Mini-Series

    Analyst Recommendation

    WORK IN PROGRESS

    Justification

    All the story essentials feel like they’re in place, and the concept itself is intriguing. But overall, it feels like the character development is lacking a bit. There isn’t much tension between Linda and Jet before they start seeing each other, and we don’t see much of Jay until almost halfway through the manuscript. Additionally, certain aspects of the plot feel like they’re glossed over. For instance, Jet’s job is only ever casually dealt with. We don’t get much of a chance to see him interact with his colleagues or even get a good sense of what he does, which feels like a missed opportunity.

    Tips for Improvement

    Elevated character development is likely what will take this story to the next level. Riddling Jet with tension with Linda would set up the audience nicely for what eventually happens between them. Introducing the idea of Jay earlier could help capitalize on Jet’s guilt. And slowing the pace when it comes to things like Jet’s job would help engage us in his ‘new’ life a bit more. That said, there’s a lot to like here. So please keep at it, and best of luck!

    Brief

    After a career-ending strikeout during the World Series, an ex-MLB star struggles with a gambling addiction and the loss of his family. After taking a low-level data entry job and meeting the woman of his dreams, he tries to put his life back together only to discover that he must face his demons head-on to survive.

    What We Liked

    THE BACKWARDS K is unique in that it captures more than just the protagonist’s desire to get back into baseball. There isn’t a strong call for him to return to the sport in any capacity, which is a different take than some of the other IPs of this kind.
    Instead, it focuses on the protagonist coming back into himself and the life he lost.
    The lessons he learns are about the importance of family and relationships and taking control of one’s demons, making it more approachable than relatable than similar stories.

    Key points:
    - Relatable themes.
    - Approachable concept.
    - International appeal.
    - Complex characters.
    - Underdog story.

    Synopsis

    JET BRINE is up to bat for the Red Sox in the World Series. He strikes out, and the fans jeer. Flash-forward to the future and Jet Brine is struggling to survive. He pawns Jet Brine collectibles at a convention center.
    Jet Brine gets himself a data entry job. On his first day, he meets his manager, HOLLY, and LINDA, the VP of Operations. Linda produces one of his baseball cards and asks for an autograph. She invites him to dinner, and he worries about what the dearly departed wife, JANICE, would think.
    Jet receives a letter from his old teammate, PAUL FRANKEY, inviting him to scout for new talent. Jet ignores it. Linda assures Jet that he’s worth more than his strikeout, and Jet begins to feel guilty about being a bad father to his son, JAY. That night, he dreams of Janice, and she tells him that she wants him to be happy. When Linda asks Jet to spend Christmas with her, he remembers the dream and agrees.
    At Linda’s, Jet watches as NEPHEW ERICK opens presents with glee. Memories come rushing back, and he makes an excuse to leave. On the way home, he stops at a casino. He stays all night. Linda begs him for the truth, and he tells her about Jay.
    Linda urges him to make contact. Jet boards a flight to Arizona, where Jay is playing in the Winter League. He begs his son to have lunch with him, and Jay relents.
    Jet remembers the night Janice died. They argued after Jet blew off a romantic evening to meet with his coach. After the meeting, and stopping at the casino, he returned home to find the house in disarray. Assuming Janice was already asleep, he settled in front of the TV. Sometime later, he went upstairs to discover that she stabbed herself with a kitchen knife. Janice, barely alive, is rushed into surgery at the hospital. She is only stable for long enough to apologize before she succumbs to her injuries. In present day, Jet apologizes to Jay.
    Jay invites Jet to his baseball game, but Jet wakes up with a terrible stomach illness.
    He tries to tell Jay the truth, but Jay assumes that he’s sleeping off another gambling binge. Jet, dismayed, flies back home. He decides to go back to the casino, and stays all night.
    Jet is written up by Holly, but not terminated thanks to a strong word from Linda. She urges him to get help for his gambling addiction. At Gambler’s Anonymous, Jet finds a sponsor in BOONE. After several months of success, Jet visits Janice’s grave and apologizes. When he tries to call Jay to do the same, he finds the number out of
    service.
    Linda tells Jet that he needs to work on himself without her. Jet calls Boone, and meets him at a diner to stave off his craving for the casino. Holly announces a family picnic, and Jet decides to bring Boone. The next day, Holly fires him for a poor performance. Unable to cope, Jet enters a casino. When he emerges, he tells Boone that he lost thousands of dollars. Boone urges him to pick himself up by the bootstraps and continue his life.
    Jet attends another baseball conference and sets out a table of his memorabilia to sell. Linda appears and apologizes for breaking things off with him. They drive to a state park and Linda asks Jet to stay in her life, even while he navigates recovery. Jet agrees, and they embrace.
    At Gambler’s Anonymous, Boone suffers a heart attack. Jet accompanies him in the ambulance, and the rest of group meets them at the hospital. Boone’s ex-wife, GRETCHEN, arrives and Jet leaves them alone to talk. But soon, Gretchen emerges with the news that Boone has passed.
    Jet struggles with his urges, but manages to stay clean. Linda invites Jet over to tell him that she accepted a job in Texas. Jet is dismayed at the idea of losing her, and drives himself to a casino. Only Boone’s voice allows him to walk right back out without gambling. Jet decides to accept Paul Frankey’s scouting offer, under the condition that the scouts go out to see Jay. Jet moves to Florida and learns that Jay has been signed to a Red Sox affiliate team. He watches the game in front of him as he ponders how wonderful life can be, if only you swing the bat.

    About The Author

    J.J. Hebert is a USA Today, Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author. His 5 books have won 9 literary awards. He was named “Entrepreneur to Watch in 2021” by International Business Times. Influencive selected him as one of the top entrepreneurs to follow in 2021 and LA Weekly crowned him one of the top Instagram influencers you should be following. He has appeared in major publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc, Business Insider and Yahoo Finance. He’s also a writer for Entrepreneur Magazine and a member of the Forbes Business Council.