Maureen Ulrich found success and acclaim more than a decade ago with a trio of fictitious books about a young female hockey player named Jessie Mac.
Now the Lampman author has re-released the three books – Power Plays, Face Off and Breakaway.
It’s a hybrid deal, so Ulrich and her publisher split the proceeds of the books, but her new publisher guided Ulrich through the process, which has changed a lot since her first book came out.
Power Plays was released in 2007, and did very well, with strong sales and awards for Ulrich. Face Off and Breakaway followed. They were staggered in their re-release last year, with Break Away coming out in December, just before Christmas.
“Initially I just planned to update the covers, and I had Wanda Harron Photography to help me out with that, but fortunately she took a few pictures last January, before all of this (pandemic shutdown) started,” said Ulrich.
The photos are of the 2019-20 Estevan U15 Bearcats female hockey team; Power Plays’ cover has a photo from a game against Regina. The photos supplied from Harron are excellent, Ulrich said.
But when she started reading Power Plays, she quickly realized that some elements of the book weren’t relevant anymore, so she did a fair amount of revising to the three books, bringing them up to speed with 2020. Power Plays was trimmed by about 6,000 words, while Face Off and Break Away were shaved by about 10,000 words each, without changing the plot, the characters or the scenes.
“I wanted them to sound current to a kid who is in junior high or high school in 2020,” said Ulrich.
But she also retained some things, including references to the Estevan Junior High School, which closed in 2003, and the Civic Auditorium, which was shut down in 2017.
“Those buildings might not be around any more, but I want young people to know what it was like to be in those buildings,” said Ulrich.
The Bearcats have been co-operative, participating in Zoom launches to promote the books and to answer questions about the game.
“It would be great to do launches at the library, but when I have a Zoom launch, I have people from Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto. Of course, they’re all friends of mine, they’re not random people, but having people able to participate from afar is a great thing.”
People are pleased to have the books in circulation again, and Ulrich has introduced a second generation of readers to Jessie Mac.
“The kids who are reading it now, a lot of them weren’t even born yet when Power Plays came out. It’s fun to get their reactions to the book,” said Ulrich.
The three books had been declared out of print by her original publisher, Coteau Books, which filed for bankruptcy last February. Ulrich only had a few copies of Power Plays remaining. She was thinking about getting a new publisher and getting the rights back, and it was easy to get the paperwork from Coteau.
“I did a reading at a school about a year ago, and there was a young woman there in Grade 8, and wasn’t a reader, but the teacher, who is a former student of mine, had actually given her Power Plays, and she zipped through it, and was reading Face Off and Breakaway, and it seemed to really turn her on to reading.”
Ulrich noted that she has been working on a fourth book in the series named Shoot Out. She is in the drafting stage, and she hopes it can be out in the spring.
“Shoot Out actually follows her little sister playing boys’ hockey, which is something that I never had Jessie do. She was always playing girls’ hockey. Courtney ends up on a boys’ team at 14, and Jessie is playing university hockey in her second year.”
All three books can be purchased at Henders Drugs, and Ulrich said the business has been a great partner.