Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How Do You Define "Family"?

This blog has featured several posts that focus on the concept of family and what happens when children grow up in a home that does not provide the structure and love they need. Why do children whose parents who are divorced have an increased likelihood of struggling in school or dealing with teen pregnancy? Are kids who grow up with an alcoholic mother or father more likely to become addicted to the bottle themselves? How does our family of origin shape us and, if necessary, how do we break free from the problems that have been handed to us from the previous generation?

Family is an important topic on this blog because it also plays a prominent role in all of my novels. Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, and Tuey's Course, as well as my upcoming work Opur's Blade, feature characters who were raised in unenviable circumstances. Some manage to overcome these emotional hurdles, while others do not.

So, let's take a step back and examine an even more fundamental question than how your family influences you. What is your answer to the following:

How do you define a family?

Is family our traditional idea of a mother and a father with 2.5 kids? Or, can a family be more widely defined as any community of people who offer love and support? Something in between these two ideas?

Defining family is certainly a touchy and controversial subject, but my work never has shied away from issues that may spark some intense debates. So, let's start this discussion and see where it takes us. Pretend you are Webster and give us your definition of "family."

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Cover to My New Book Revealed!

As has been shared on this blog regularly for the past several months, my fourth novel is scheduled to be released soon. Opur's Blade follows in the tradition of many great underdog stories. My hope is that you will be inspired and maybe reconsider some of the goals in your life that you once believed to be beyond your reach.

While the actual book is still not available for purchase, readers now can see a sneak peek of they soon will be holding in their hands. Here is the newly completed cover for Opur's Blade:

The first reviews on the artwork have been wonderful. The cover was designed by Shannon Grissom. Please let me know your thoughts!

Through personal marketing efforts and the readership base already established through the publication of my first three novels--Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, and Tuey's Course, there is quite a bit of buzz growing on the internet for Opur's Blade. Just a quick search for the book's title on Google will result in several pages of material, which means we are doing something right! Thank you to everyone who has "tweeted" about Opur's Blade or featured my work on your blog.

There are some exciting promotional ideas planned for the release of Opur's Blade, so please check back on this site often to read the latest news. Here's hoping that this book is the most successful one yet for all of the characters at Prairie Winds Golf Course!

Friday, June 18, 2010

There's a Soccer Tournament Going On?

What is arguably the biggest sporting event in the entire world is taking place right now in South Africa. Have you even noticed? The World Cup, the global soccer (or, more appropriately, "football") tournament is underway, allowing nations bragging rights that come only once every four years and it seems as if most of our country is yawning. After all, the Lakers just won the NBA Championship in an exciting Game Seven and it is likely that your favorite college football team is holding summer practice as you read this post.

Don't get me wrong. There are a good number of Americans who are cheering on our country's team with passion. And, the United States is performing well on the world stage, having finished their first two matches in ties. But, for some reason, the World Cup does not bring us to a standstill for several weeks as it does in almost every other country across the world.

As mentioned on this blog before, my respect for outstanding athletes in any sport is unquestionable. And, there is no denying that soccer players are among the most physically fit people in the world. So, count me among those rooting with pride for our team as we move forward in the tournament!

The novels that I have written and published revolve around my passion for golf. The characters my readers meet spend their time at the Prairie Winds Golf Course and we learn their life stories while they relax on the green or in the clubhouse. But, the successes, challenges, and heartbreaks that those in Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, and Tuey's Course experience could just as easily be told with the backdrop of a soccer field. There are commonalities among all of us that extend beyond our hobbies, our jobs, and even which team we choose to root for in the World Cup.

So, back to an earlier point in this post. Why do so many of us not follow the World Cup? Soccer is one of the top recreational sports for our kids, but the passion gets lost somewhere along the way. Any thoughts on what separates us in this regard from the rest of the world?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Book Promotion -- What Works for You?

The reception received by my three published novels--Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, and Tuey's Course--has been thrilling. Now, the anticipation is building as my fourth book, Opur's Blade, is in the final stages of proofreading and formatting before publication. Readers can expect to be available for purchase later this year.

With each new offering presented to the public, my skills have increased concerning how to market my work. The wonderful relationships established with other writers and those who are involved in some other way with the book industry have been one invaluable part of my growth. The release and promotion of Opur's Blade should not be any different--there certainly will be opportunities to learn ways to share my craft. Hopefully, all of the experience gained from my first three books will make this fourth venture the best one yet.

Social networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook have been important components of my marketing plan. Also, this blog provides fresh content on a regular basis related to the subjects discussed in my books. And, the opportunity to share my work with radio audiences, whether through traditional programming or podcasts, is always appreciated. These are just a few of the many ways the word about Prairie Winds Golf Course and the characters who live there has gotten out to readers.

Here's my question at this point -- what are some other venues worth exploring when it comes to book marketing? There are other writers out there who read my blog, and your feedback on this topic would be welcome. When it comes to promoting your books, what has worked for you and why? What will you never waste your time doing again?

Let's make this a forum to help out one another as we all work to succeed in doing something that we love.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What Happens to Adults When Their Parents Divorce?

While there are more than two million couples in the United States who decide to tie and knot and pledge undying love to one another every year, there are also around one million couples who take the legal steps necessary to end their marriages and join the large population of people in our country who are divorced. While the divorce rate has dipped slightly over the past several years, the number of failed marriages and fractured families is still sadly high.

When we think about the stereotypical couples who usually get divorced, they seem to fall into three categories. There are those who get divorced soon after the wedding ceremony, quickly realizing they have made a mistake. Many couples also fall victim to the infamous "seven year itch," when busy lives and young children have diminished the spark that once existed. And, we also see marriages falling apart when the home becomes an "empty nest." Sometimes a couple cannot adjust to operating in a role other than parent.

There are also divorces that defy all predictions and take place between two people who no one would have expected to split. One such separation has just taken place between Al and Tipper Gore. Married for forty years and forever caught on film in that passionate kiss back in 2000, their recent announcement that they would be ending their marriage shocked everyone.

We often hear about the effects of divorce on children--depression, issues in school, guilt, just to name a few. But, what about when you are already an adult and your parents divorce? What challenges and emotions are the Gore children facing right now? If any of you has experience as an adult child of divorce, I would appreciate you sharing your story with us.

All of my novels feature story lines that examine the complicated relationships that exist within a family, including the fallout that occurs with a divorce. I hope you will check out my books and let me know what you think!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Nashville Floods Showed a Community's Character

It has been just over a month since the flooding in Nashville, Tennessee and the surrounding areas. In addition to the famous landmarks that were destroyed, such as the Grand Old Opry and the Opryland Hotel, thousands of residents were either temporarily displaced from their homes or lost them forever.

This natural disaster did not receive a great deal of national attention, in part because it occurred at the same time that the tragedy of the BP oil spill was just beginning to unfold in the Gulf and the Times Square bomber was being arrested. But, I also believe many of the stories from the flood stayed under the radar of the media because the people of Nashville came together and did the work that was needed to help others in the community. I have friends in Nashville who were affected by the storms, and I've heard from them about the countless neighbors and strangers who asked how they could help.

In my second novel, Finish Line, readers are introduced to a character who was forced to flee his successful musical career in New Orleans following another devastating weather event in our country--Hurricane Katrina. He finds employment and a new group of friends at the Prairie Winds Golf Course and, much like the people of Nashville have done, shows resilience in the face of great adversity.

Mother Nature is just one of the difficulties that characters face in my three novels, and how they react to the storms in their lives is an important component of my storytelling. If you haven't yet, I hope you will check out Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, and Tuey's Course and think about how you would react to the situations I create.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

When the Mighty Fall

While the sport of golf is my true passion, I have a great appreciation for all athletes who reach the top of their game through hard work and dedication. One current example of a man who is considered unparalleled in his performance and influence on the game is Roger Federer. Therefore, it was stunning yesterday when he lost in the quarterfinals of the French Open to Robin Soderling. This defeat marks the first time since 2004 that Federer will not be playing in the semifinals of a Grand Slam tournament. It really was a shocking moment in the sport of tennis!

We've seen other instances of unexpected victories in sports, such as the New York Giants preventing the New England Patriots from completing a perfect season with a Super Bowl win, Applachian State coming into the Big House and beating the University of Michigan in front of 100,000 stunned fans, or the Miracle on Ice during the Winter Olympics that still brings chills to U.S. hockey fans two decades later.

What about outside the athletic world? What are some examples of people who seemed indestructible but who experienced a startling collapse? Maybe it was an illness to a beloved family member that made you realize even the strongest among us can get sick. Perhaps you admired a leader on a political stage that lost an election in an upset vote or, even worse, met with violence.

In my series of novels that take place at the Prairie Winds Golf Course, I examine the characters that we build up in our lives and how we react when they let us down or simply cannot be the strong personality that we have come to expect. I hope you will check out my books and then let me know if you can relate to the relationships I create.