Growing up, Dawn Brotherton devoured Matt Christopher's popular sports books for children.
Even in her enjoyment of the series, though, she noticed something.
"They were all boys sports," Brotherton said. "I never saw any girls."
A self-published author and Williamsburg resident, Brotherton recently released "Trish's Team," the first in a series of books for young girls centered on the adventures of a fastpitch softball team, the Lady Tigers.
Through the Lady Tigers and through softball, Brotherton hopes to offer young girls, and boys too, some valuable life lessons.
As much as the book focuses on sports, softball forms a springboard for other conversations, about choices and consequences, about family and friends.
"The girls in these books are learning how to be strong, how to be independent, how to assert themselves and how to really grow into themselves and be themselves," said Joni Spangler, a local writer.
Spangler and Brotherton met at the Williamsburg Book Festival, and soon after, formed a small writing group with two other women. This group, Brotherton said, offered much insight into "Trish's Team."
Though a growing author, Brotherton's no stranger to the field. She published her first book in 2010, "The Obsession," first in the Jackie Austin mystery trilogy. She also started her own publishing company, Blue Dragon Publishing, with a mission to help authors new to the publishing world.
Brotherton currently serves as a colonel in the United States Air Force, but following retirement in October, she hopes to devote more time to her passion for writing.
Much of what she's written so far stems from what Brotherton knows.
The Jackie Austin trilogy centers on a female Air Force officer – "There's not a lot of books written from a female Air Force officer point of view," Brotherton said.
The same is true of "Trish's Team."
Brotherton started playing fastpitch softball at age 9, continuing through high school. She's served as umpire, coach and scorekeeper – Brotherton has even designed a softball scoresheet.
"I think sports are very important," Brotherton said. "It teaches you teamwork."
Now, her teenage daughters, Paige and Rachel, play the sport. In fact, Rachel inspired the Lady Tigers' series.
Rachel, 16, plays varsity softball at Bruton High School, in addition to playing travel softball for nearly 10 years. While in middle school, Rachel penned a short story about a deaf girl who played travel softball.
"It was so well done," Brotherton said. "I think my daughters write better than I do."
The story grew and changed, with "Trish's Team" as the eventual result. Brotherton said she bounced ideas off her daughters, and Paige, 14, edited the first draft.
"It's been a team effort, and it's so much fun to do it with my girls," Brotherton said. "It's something we can share."
In "Trish's Team," Trish Murphy gets the chance to try out for the Lady Tigers, an elite travel softball team. Team practice coincides with Trish's orchestra practice, which her parents don't want her to miss. Trish's love of softball and her teammates takes precedence, though, so she lies to her parents.
"The real issue isn't softball," Paige said. "It's about lies and the importance of being honest, especially with your parents, or else you could lose opportunities that you care about."
"(Trish) learns that there are consequences to her decisions," Brotherton said, "and they don't just effect her, they effect her whole team."
Teamwork, on and off the field, threads throughout the Lady Tigers' series, which Brotherton hopes will grow to 10 books.
"It is for entertainment, but not only for that," Spangler said of the series. "Each one teaches a lesson."
"It's about girls growing up," she continued.
Paige and Rachel hope to continue contributing to the series, too.
"You can play sports, and still be a girl," Rachel said. "I think that's an important message."
Bridges can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342.
Dawn Brotherton Book Signing
When: 10 a.m.-12 p.m., May 21
Where: Joni's Consign and Design, Colonial Square Shopping Center (off Jamestown Road)
For more information, or to purchase the book, visit blue-dragon-publishing.com.