Monday, February 22, 2010

The Apology Heard Around the World

You would have thought that President Obama was preparing to announce a major policy initiative or that a natural disaster was about to make landfall along our coast. Every network broke into regular programming last Friday with a special report bulletin, all for the purpose of covering "The Tiger Woods Apology."

The speech was of interest to me both as a golfer and a writer. Tiger Woods means more to the game of golf than any other single player, so I am curious to know when we might see him participating in a major tournament again. I'm sure the broadcasters and advertisers are wondering the same thing!

To satisfy the writer in me, I decided to study the transcript of the speech after Tiger delivered it. He used the word "I" a lot, showing that he accepts the need to take personal responsibility for his poor choices. Just scanning through the speech, you can see that small but important word several times in each paragraph.

Tiger also acknowledged the many individuals and groups who have been affected by his behavior, from his wife to his business partners to the young kids who once saw him as a role model. People like to be recognized and have their feelings understood, and I believe this was one of the greatest strengths of the speech.

Did you watch Tiger deliver the remarks that he prepared for the assembled (and carefully selected) members of the media and the audience at home? Do you feel that his words and emotions were sincere, or was he just checking off a required step in the recovery process?

Whether you are coming at it from the perspective of a golf fan, a speech writer, or just someone who pays attention to current events, I want to read your thoughts.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Confronting Stereotypes: A Family Tradition

Maybe I am biased due to my lifelong love of the sport, but I believe that a golf course provides a wonderful backdrop for highlighting many of the issues that we face in today's society. Name a controversial topic and I am pretty sure that it has been discussed between swings on a Saturday morning. While spending time at the fictional Prairie Winds Golf Course that is featured in all three of my novels, my characters have confronted issues like marital infidelity, religious doctrine, a life-threatening illness, and alcoholism.

One of the important, and likely the most controversial, concepts that I incorporate into my writing is the prominence of racial stereotyping. Like my distant relative Mark Twain, I use distinct dialects and conversations that are unapologetic in their honesty in the hopes that my readers will reflect on their own prejudices or misconceptions. From the Asian nurse who struggles to overcome a language barrier with her patients to the African American small business owner who is constantly harassed by local government to the white suburban boys who have an air of entitlement, I use my characters to challenge our thoughts and our conversations.

What are some examples of stereotypes that you see being played out in the media today? Are there certain groups of people who are more "safe" to ridicule or pigeonhole than others? Do you agree that examining these stereotypes can serve a productive purpose, or are movies, television shows, and books just helping to perpetuate unfair ideas of people?

I want your thoughts on this hot topic! And, if you haven't already, I hope you will read Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, and Tuey's Course and let me know what you think of how I presented some common stereotypes.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Winter Olympics -- Will You Be Watching?

The latest news reports show that, while all 50 states have at least a dusting of snow on the ground today, some of the Olympic sites are not covered in enough of the white stuff to allow for optimal competition. Truckloads of snow are being brought to Vancouver to make sure the skiers and the bobsledders don't get stuck on a patch of grass as they try to break a world record! I am sure that the officials in charge will do everything necessary to make sure that this global event occurs without a glitch.

As regular readers of my blog know, I am a passionate follower of golf. I play as often as possible and also enjoy watching the major tournaments. The sport means so much to me that all three of my published novels have a golf course at the primary setting.

My love of sports extends beyond golf, however. I am impressed by the dedication that it takes for any athlete to compete at the highest level. So, I will be tuning into the Winter Olympics starting tonight. The running joke is that Americans don't really understand some of the events that are featured at the winter games, so I look forward to learning about some skills that we do not see very often on our televisions in this country. Is there another time that you can watch curling, the luge, and ski jumping?

As a quick side note, I heard on the radio today that many of the athletes will be posting regular updates on Twitter as they prepare for their events. This will be a first for the Olympics, as Twitter has developed its huge following since the last Olympics were held in Beijing a year and a half ago. Is this too much, or do you like the idea of being able to get constant streams of information from our athletes?

Prior to posting this article a tragic accident occurred during a training session on the luge course. An Olympic competitor from the former USSR republic of Georgia was killed after flying over the wall at a speed estimated at over ninety-three miles per hour. Is the Olympic Federation pushing the envelope too far? Your thoughts?

Will you be watching the Winter Olympics? Which events are of the greatest interest to you?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Golf is Like Writing: The Letter J

As those of you who read my blog regularly know, I have found many common elements between two of my great passions--playing golf and writing novels. It was decided that I would create a series of posts utilizing the letters of the alphabet, adding to them periodically.

Today I decided to present myself with a challenge and select a difficult letter on which to brainstorm. I offer you the "J" connections that exist between golf and writing.

1. Juggling -- When it's a beautiful Saturday morning outside my personality demands that I play a round of golf with my golfing buddies, all I want to do is play a few rounds on the golf course. When writing I concoct adventures that I want one of my characters to experience. I don't want to move from my computer until the entire scene, complete with dialogue, is written to perfection. However, we all have other personal and professional responsibilities that require our time. Giving the attention I desire to both golf and writing requires an ongoing juggling of my schedule.

2. Joking -- I never want to get to a point in my life where I take myself too seriously. If I hit a horrible shot into the water, I should be laughing just as hard as the guys around me and not throwing my clubs in frustration. When a fellow writer offers a good-natured teasing about something I wrote for one of my characters, I tend to laugh along, too, knowing what went into the scene. Work play tend to be a lot better if we have fun while doing it.

3. Jumping -- OK, maybe sometimes this act is only figurative, but I want to be excited about the ways in which I am choosing to spend my life. A good round of golf is worthy of some jumping, or at least a fist pump! When I get a great review for one of my books or a reader shares what one of my novels meant to him, I think a little jumping is in order!

Do you have some "J" words that come to mind regarding your profession, or in terms of how two of your passions come together? I would love to read your ideas!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sharing Who I Am through Social Media

There are so many ways for authors to publicize their work. Social networking sites and techniques that are available in 2010 are light years ahead of what was available ten years ago or even five years ago. Just to make a list of all of the possible online networking options would make for a long blog post -- Facebook, Twitter, Squidoo, LinkedIn, YouTube, MySpace ... the options seem endless. It is wonderful to have so many ways to reach people and share information about my novels, but I also know it is possible to overextend and lose focus. So, I would like to share my experiences and also hear from some of you about how you use social media to market your work.

I have found a great home for expressing myself on Twitter. In addition to letting my followers know when I have some information to share about my books, I also "tweet" one-liners from some of my favorite quotes from of my favorite comedians, quotes from celebrities in the worlds of sports, entertainment, and politics as well as bits of trivia. I like to post quick pieces of ridiculous laws that are actually on the the books somewhere. If you want to start following me on Twitter, look me up at @golfnovels or @JamesRossBooks.

One of my favorite ways to connect with the public is at As DJ "golfnovels" I have the opportunity to play some of my favorite songs and mood music that I listen to as I write. Music is an important part of my life and I think people can get to know me better by hearing the songs that mean something to me.

My hope is that by sharing some things that I find entertaining or important, my followers will get connected to me as a person and therefore take more interest in reading what I have published. I like to think that my books--Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, and Tuey's Course--are just another extension of my personality.

Let me know how you use social media, and maybe how you believe it can be misused as well. Please clue me in on what works for you.