Thursday, December 31, 2009

Even My Characters Make New Year’s Resolutions

Today marks the last day of 2009 and many of you will be celebrating the start of the New Year with friends and family tonight. I hope that everyone has a safe and fun holiday! In addition to champagne toasts and the singing of Auld Lang Syne, there will be millions of people across the country who will decide with determination that 2010 will be the year that they actually keep their resolutions. And, most of those promises will be broken by Valentine’s Day.

I thought it would be fun to imagine what the New Year’s resolutions might be for a few of the characters I feature in my three novels—Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, and Tuey’s Course. So, over the next couple of weeks, I will share those lists with you.

I’ll start with Justin Ventimiglia, one of the two teenage boys featured in Finish Line. Justin and his friend Keith are sent to work at the Prairie Winds Golf Course after vandalizing a neighbor’s house. During their summer maintaining the greens and golf carts, the two boys learn a lot about the importance of a good work ethic, perseverance, and appreciation for life.

I think Justin would have the following resolutions:

1. Volunteer at the local children’s hospital to spend time with children who have cancer, in honor of his mentor Curt.

2. Get better grades in school so that he is able to get an academic scholarship to college and relieve some financial stress from his mom.

3. Take some golf lessons so that he can join the guys on the course when he’s not working.

4. Find a cute girlfriend! (He is a teenage boy, after all!)

Do these look like good resolutions for Justin? Any others that you would like to add to the list? Also, let me know if there are other characters from my books that that you would like to see featured in the “New Year’s Resolution” series.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Who Should Bring My Characters to the Big Screen?

Most writers do not sit down at the keyboard to write a novel with visions of an Academy-award winning movie already running through their heads. If that was the case, I am sure their focus would be on writing screenplays instead of books. However, most authors may admit to the fact that they have allowed their minds to wander once in a while as they create the perfect Hollywood cast for their latest work.

There is now a website that allows these daydreams to be shared with others, and for fans of a book to offer their suggestions as Through this site, visitors can select a novel and share their own ideas for who would make the perfect actors to bring the words to life on the big screen.

I have registered all three of my novels--Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, and Tuey's Course--with Story Casting and shared my thoughts on who should be cast in the lead roles, as well as my ideas for some of the supporting characters.

What do you think about Matthew McConaughey as JDub?

How about Sandra Bullock as Julie?

If you have read any or all of my books, I would love to know who you envision taking on some of the characters that I've created. It's interesting to discover how the same words in a book can create such different images for readers.

Who knows? You may find that your ideas may lead to a script for one of my books finding its way to the desk of Robert DeNiro, Julia Roberts, or one of those Twilight guys!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Government Gets Involved in Christmas

In my third novel, Tuey's Course, I introduce readers to the character of WeWildapheet Ulisees O'Tweety, a man who is better known as Tuey. When pitted against the power-hungry members of the local government, Tuey finds that his efforts to run his small business are thwarted at every turn. As the book reaches its conclusion, the readers will find that Tuey will go to great lengths to achieve the justice he believes he deserves from the officials at city hall.

How many of you have been frustrated with a local law that did not seem to serve any purpose other than to inconvenience those affected by it? I have written about some examples of such laws on this blog before. I decided to revisit the idea with a focus on our current holiday season. I did some research to find any ordinances that are associated with Christmas. Not surprisingly, elected officials from across our country have put restrictions on how we choose to celebrate.

Who remembers when the small town of Kensington, Maryland made national news for banning Santa from the annual tree-lighting ceremony? When the popular figure was deemed too religious by the city council, dozens of people dressed as St. Nick and showed up to make quite the visual statement.

Earlier this year, a federal Court of Appeals heard a case about a Philadelphia school district's decision to ban Christmas carols, even when the music was played without words.

Two years ago, a task force in Fort Collins, Colorado recommended that red and green lights be banned because the colors have too much of a religious undertone. Instead, only white lights placed on secular objects would be allowed.

Every year around this time, we read about the battles that are occurring in city halls across the country. Should there be a Christmas tree or a holiday tree? What about wreaths hanging off the front of cars? Can a nativity scene be displayed on public property?

Are any of these debates taking place in your town? What do you think about this level of government involvement? I hope you will share your thoughts on this controversial topic.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Is It More Difficult for Famous Athletes to Be Faithful?

One post about the Tiger Woods car accident and resulting admission of infidelity has been written here on this blog. The details that continue to be released surrounding his home life have prompted more thoughts about the connection between being a superstar athlete and a devoted husband and father. Can these roles all co-exist? All too often, we see these men who believe themselves to be superhuman to be consumed by the attention and the praise and decide that the expectations placed on "regular men" do not apply to them. Here are just a few examples:

Alex Rodriguez -- His wife filed for divorce in 2008 after years of rumors about affairs, including one with Madonna. Rodriguez's flirtations and interactions with other women were well-documented.

Michael Jordan -- He admitted to a series of extramarital affairs, before divorcing his wife of seventeen years in 2007. At the time, it was determined to be the most expensive divorce in entertainment history. (Mel Gibson has since topped that figure.)

Steve McNair -- In this tragic story, the former quarterback for the Tennessee Titans was shot by his mistress before she turned the gun on herself. McNair's wife insisted she knew nothing of the affair until after her husband's death.

In my three published books--Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, and Tuey's Course--I feature men who play golf at a variety of skill levels. While one man falls a single swing short of making the
PGA Tour, another sees golf as a hobby to accompany his drinking. Regardless of their athletic prowess, they have serious struggles in their personal relationships. Let's face it. Whether you are famous or a world-class athlete, maintaining a strong relationship with a partner is hard work.

What do you think? Are athletes and other personalities who are admired for their strength and power more likely to be unfaithful spouses? Is it the money? The fame? The opportunities? The media? Share your thoughts!

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Series Continues: The Four "Cs" of Golf and Writing

Continuing with my exercise that is exploring the connections between golf and writing a novel, I would like to offer “Four Cs” that may be shared by both activities. After you read the list please come up with some ideas of your own and share them!

Consistency – If I take a month off from the golf course, I will notice a difference in the quality of my game. The same holds true for writing. If a vacation or some other time obligation takes me away from my keyboard, I can feel a bit rusty when I sit down to write. That’s not to say that breaks aren’t important … sometimes you need to remove yourself from a story and come back with a fresh eye. But, the regular practice of writing is still important.

Creativity – If you aren’t getting the score you want from your round of golf try changing your swing, grip or stance. Don’t box yourself into what one instructor told you a decade ago. When it comes to writing works of fiction I believe the need to be creative speaks for itself.

Criticism – You must be open to suggestions on how to improve. No one has a game like Tiger Woods when tee it up. Therefore there should be no reason to get defensive when someone offers a tip that could improve our game? In writing, it’s important to find a community of other authors, as well as brutally honest readers, who will review the written work, critique and offer feedback on how it could be better.

Cash – It’s a harsh reality that the game of golf and the pursuit of a writing career don’t come free. Golf is an expensive sport to play. A player has to buy clubs, shoes and a bag. That’s not to mention pay greens fees every time it is time to set foot on a course. If you want to be able to devote some time to writing, you need to be financially stable so that you can focus without spending countless hours at another job. And then there are the costs associated with the book. Every book needs a proofreader, editor and graphics person. That’s not to mention marketing and distribution once the book is published. Be ready to do a lot of that on your own!

All of these elements applied when I wrote and then began to market my three published books—Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, and Tuey’s Course. If you are a writer or a golfer, do they sound familiar to you as well?