Monday, March 29, 2010

My Interview with the Golf Club Radio Show

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Danielle Tucker, the host and producer of The Golf Club Radio Show, over the weekend. This show is broadcast from Hawaii and is heard worldwide. It was a wonderful opportunity to discuss my passion for golf and how my love for the sport comes through in my novels.

The Golf Club Radio Show is celebrating its 12th anniversary, and its popularity is no surprise to me following my conversation with Danielle. I hope you will check out the show website and see all of the great things Danielle Tucker and others associated with the show are doing in the name of golf!

You can listen to my entire interview here.

Please let me know what you think. And, if you are the host of a program dedicated to golf or writing, I would appreciate the chance to have an on-air conversation with you as well!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Who's Your Favorite Underdog?

In my upcoming release, Opur's Blade, I will be offering my story that offers the same underdog inspiration that Sylvester Stallone provided through his Rocky character. And, of course, readers also will have the chance to catch up with all of the regulars at Prairie Winds Golf Course as well. I am really excited for its release, and I hope that you will enjoy this novel as much as my first three books. I look forward to your honest reviews!

Opur's Blade has plenty of company in telling the underdog story, beyond just the Rocky comparison I already provided. In a way I even feel like an underdog. The release of Opur's Blade will be through Nightingale Press, my first through a large publisher.

As we watch the Sweet Sixteen teams now beginning their round of play as part of March Madness, how many of us are secretly or loudly cheering for the teams from Cornell or Northern Iowa to continue their magical runs?

We are all familar with a quiet middle-aged woman from Scotland who took to a stage last year to snickers and perhaps some looks of pity, but who convinced an entire world she could sing within 24 hours of a circulated YouTube video. I'm referring to Susan Boyle, of course.

What about Forrest Gump? Here was a boy who required leg braces and struggled with some mental challenges and who inadvertently played a part in many of our country's major events of the last part of the 20th century. He even got the girl. Weren't we all cheering for him to succeed and teach all of us his practical life lessons? (Yes, I know he's fictional, but no one has thought about a box of chocolates in the same way since that movie's release.)

I would like to know who some of your favorite underdogs are. Whose story have you found inspirational? Has this person impacted some of the decisions or behaviors in your own life?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Using Art to Spark Difficult Conversations

Artistic expression has long been an important way to promote discussion about controversial issues. Painters, writers, actors, and musicians have confronted topics that sometimes make us cringe, but that demand our attention nonetheless. As a society, we are still uncomfortable talking about racism, sexism, issues of socioeconomic standing, and other realities that divide us. However, when we have a painting or a song or a television show through which we can guide our conversations, perhaps the dialogue comes a little easier. We are given a starting point.

Since their inception, the movies have served to challenge our stereotypes and prejudices concerning race. Just a few of the many films that have resulted in a national discussion about racism include:

Birth of a Nation (1915) -- Although understandably reviled for its content, this movie is considered one of the most important pieces in the history of cinema. Its depiction of KKK members as heroes and its slanted take on post-Civil War history continue to spark discussion almost a century later.

Crash (2005) -- This Academy award-winning movie, which takes place in Los Angeles, looks at several instances of racial stereotyping. There were no simple characters here; each one brought an honest and complex personality to the plot. Conversations on Crash's content spread from Oprah to the nightly news.

A Time to Kill (1996) -- Based on the book by John Grisham, this film depicts the trial of a black man in Mississippi who kills the two white men who raped and nearly killed his young daughter. As the character played by Matthew McCoughaney asks, "Can a black man get a fair trial in Mississippi?"

I choose to use the written word to spark discussion on the controversial issues facing our society. All three of my published novels--Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, and Tuey's Course--tackle some tough realities concerning race, sex, and class in our country.

I've offered some examples of movies that focus on issues of race. Now it's your turn. Share your examples of films that have powerfully handled the topic of race in America.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Tiger Woods to Face the South Park Treatment

Is there any other figure who is a more obvious choice for a comedic attack when the 14th season of South Park premieres later this week than Tiger Woods? Creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone certainly don't think so. The same animated program that has taken on Tom Cruise, President George W. Bush, Sally Struthers, David Hasselhoff, and even Jesus Christ, is now aiming its focus on the disgraced golfer.

In a released statement that may contain just a hint of sarcasm, Stone said, "It's such an important issue right now--the sex addiction outbreak. We're all really concerned about him and hopes he gets better." Somehow I doubt that the episode featuring Woods, which will air on March 17, will offer much sympathy and encouragement for healing! Not much has been revealed about what will take place when Tiger Woods visits South Park, but I have the feeling that the infamously loud-mouthed Cartman will not be sensitive to his plight.

Although my chosen outlet is not crudely-drawn animation, I also take an irreverent approach towards my offerings of social commentary. I don't think anyone will ever accuse my books of being politically correct. Instead, I like the opportunities that honest and sometimes ugly portrayals of human nature create for discussion and personal reflection. When we tiptoe around some of the stereotypes and difficult subjects that exist in our society, I believe we are doing ourselves a disservice.

What do you think of the type of humor offered by South Park? Is it a smart commentary on our society, or just simply offensive? How do you think the show will handle the Tiger Woods scandal?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Former Rep. Eric Massa and Rahm Emanuel Would Find a Home at Prairie Winds

In all three of my published novels--Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, and Tuey's Course--I use my characters to offer commentary on many social and political issues that find their way onto the headlines of our newspapers. Corrupt politicians and backroom dealings are two themes that you will find running throughout my books, and you don't have to search long to find real-life occurrences that mirror the episodes I create. This week's shocking interview with Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) regarding his thoughts on why he is being forced out of Congress provide a perfect example.

Rep. Massa was facing an ethics investigation in light of some sexually charged remarks he made while at the wedding of a staffer. He believes the leadership in the House is coming after him because he was not planning to vote for the health care reform bill. On his weekly radio show, Rep. Massa went on to accuse Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel of storming up to him in the Congressional gym completely naked and threatening him to support the President's bill. These allegations, as well as Massa's other heated remarks aimed at Emanuel, have been the hot topic of conversation on talk shows across the country over the past couple of days.

As I read this story of supposed threats and intimidation, as well as admitted sexual indiscretions, on the part of our elected officials, I immediately could imagine this story being retold in the clubhouse at Prairie Winds Golf Course. The personalities in my novels would have a field day if Rep. Massa was a regular who sat down to share that story before heading out to play his Saturday morning round of golf!

What impact do stories such as this one have on your opinion of our leaders in Washington? Are you surprised when revelations such as the ones shared by Rep. Massa are made public, or do you just shrug it off as typical behavior for politicians?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Impact of a Positive Outlook on the Fight against Cancer

In addition to honoring my passion for golf by integrating the sport into so much of what I write, I have chosen to use my novels to address some difficult and emotional issues that many of us must face at some point in our lives. Divorce, death, job loss, addiction ... no topic is off-limits when it comes to the development of the characters who spend their time at the Prairie Winds Golf Course.

In my second book, Finish Line, I share the story of Curt Schroeder. Early in the progression of the novel, Curt learns that he has cancer. In the face of this frightening disease, the popular golf course manager shows amazing courage and a will to survive.

Does a positive attitude really make a difference in a person's ability to survive something like cancer?

Researchers at Yale University discovered that people who have an optimistic outlook lived an average of 7.5 years longer than those with a gloomy outlook. But, this statistic is a general one and not conducted specifically for those who are facing a terminal illness.

Instead, a study performed in 2007 shows that while emotional support and a positive outlook may help people with cancer live a better life, it might not necessarily help them live a longer life.

Of course, these are just two examples of hundreds of hours of research that has been completed on the mind-body connection when it comes to our long-term health. I'm sure that many of you can provide examples from your own lives, and I would like to hear your stories.

How has the mindset of you or someone you love affected the fight against a disease that was trying to take control over both the quality and quantity of life?

Monday, March 1, 2010

How Do You Get Through a Moment of Crisis?

My first published novel, Lifetime Loser, was published two years ago. In this book, I share the story of J.W. "J Dub" Schroeder, a man who comes within one swing of realizing his dream to participate in the PGA Tour. Instead of fulfilling this lifelong promise to himself, J Dub falls short in the qualifying tournament and must determine a new path for his life.

Eventually, J Dub settles into his role as the manager of Prairie Winds Golf Course and develop a cast of co-workers and friends who come to rely on him for advice and common sense. By his side every step of the way is his wife Marcia. She offers much-needed support and perhaps a swift motivating kick when needed. When Marcia gives birth to their daughter, J Dub's reasons to readjust his plans and strive for success become even more important.

J Dub faced a real crisis in his life and, even though he went through a period of disappointment, he managed to persevere and come out the other side with a strong family and career. Why?

Here are a few things working in J Dub's favor:

1. He has a supportive family, including his wife and his brother Curt, who we get to know better in my second book, Finish Line.

2. He looks for the best in people. A positive attitude goes a long way in reaching your goals and building the relationship that will help you achieve them.

3. He doesn't get drawn into the quick fix. Throughout the pages of Lifetime Loser, J Dub is introduced to some shady people who propose get-rich-quick schemes. J Dub is able to see through their slick marketing (sometimes not as quickly as he should) and steers clear of a decision that could land him in a lot of trouble.

Have you been able to get through a crisis point in your life and come out better on the other side? What reasons do you give for this successful outcome?

Have you ever changed the greatest negative in your life into a life-changing positive event? Please share your experience.