Friday, December 30, 2011

A Writer's Resolutions

 I can almost hear the collective groans coming from all of you as you read the question, "Are you making any New Year's resolutions?"  It seems like this annual ritual is more known for the jokes concerning how quickly we break them rather than the genuine intent with which these promises to ourselves are made.  But, we can't help but try again every year.  This time we'll really stick to it!

Whether or not you maintain that resolution to lose fifteen pounds or spend more time doing charity work or pay off your debt, there is something wonderful about taking a time for reflection . . . to think about what has happened over the year that is ending and what you hope for the year to come.

With this post, I would like to look at resolutions through my lens as a writer.  What are some things that those of us who put pen to paper (or more likely fingers to keyboard) for a living hope to do in 2012?

I will be releasing my next book, Pabby's Score, in early 2012.  So, on a personal note, I certainly hope that this work reaches many people and is well received.  Those of you who are putting new work out there for consumption next year I'm sure share my anticipation.

I would love to discover a couple new great authors in 2012.  We all know that writers are also avid readers.  I love finding other writers whose work I admire, not only just to enjoy a good novel but also perhaps to learn from their craft.

Finally, I hope to continue to work on finding balance.  How many of you wake up in the middle of the night with a story idea and rush to your computer or a notepad before the details leave your mind?  How many of you feel pressure to complete five more pages or send out one more marketing piece before you allow yourself a walk in the park or, in my case, a round of golf?  Writing is our passion and it is going to be a part of everything we do, but we need to give ourselves a break sometimes as well.

So, what are your resolutions as a writer?  What are your plans for making 2012 the most successful and fulfilling year yet?

James Ross
Author of Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, Tuey's Course, Opur's Blade, and Pabby's Score
Publisher Websites: and

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Illinois, Corruption, and My Setting

Anyone who has read my stories realizes that the main setting is fictitious Prairie Winds Golf Course, high atop the Mississippi river bluffs east of St. Louis. Even though most of the metro area is located in Missouri the river divides the population and the golf course is located in the neighboring state of Illinois.

Many of the characters of my stories are the unscrupulous businessmen, unethical lawyers, dishonest law enforcement personnel and corrupt politicians.  Those personalities always make for good reading!  So, naturally I took great interest in the recent sentencing of former Governor Rod Blagojevich. He was convicted of attempting to sell the vacant Senate seat of Barack Obama. That’s called “business as usual” in Illinois. You know, line your pockets while you’re in office. The trouble was he wasn’t too smart about it and he didn't cover his tracks. He was convicted on seventeen counts of fraud and lying to the FBI in the “pay to play” scheme.

What really surprised me was that U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel didn’t play politics. Blagojevich received fourteen years in prison. With the guidelines established he has to serve 85% of that sentence. That’s about twelve years of hard time which will make him 67 years old when he gets out. Pow!

Isn’t it about time the courts and our judicial system starts coming down hard on the white-collar slime that violates the public trust? Maybe this will be the beginning of tough sentencing to those politicians who think they are immune to the very laws they create. It should not be acceptable to get elected and a few years later leave office a multi-millionaire.

It’s hard to pinpoint when it all started in Illinois. Bribery, misuse of public funds for private benefit and payoffs for the awarding of contracts seem to run rampant there. Of course the happenings in the southern part of the state are nothing compared to what happens in Chicago.

Does it go back to the bootlegging of Al Capone during Prohibition? Or did it start way before that? What role does former Mayor Daley play? How about the Board of Trade? Is President Barack Obama a benefactor? Maybe it is best for all of us to stay stupid.

Before Blagojevich, former Governor George Ryan was convicted for taking bribes allowing truckers to receive commercial hauling licenses. Ryan served as lieutenant governor when Governor Jim Thompson served the office. Was it a coincidence that Thompson was the manager of the law firm that defended Ryan? How do they explain the deaths of six people that were killed at the hands of an unqualified driver? Do these elected officials have no remorse?

Prior to that, Governor Dan Walker was involved in the savings and loan scandals of the 70s and was convicted for making fraudulent loans to himself. Before him, Governor Otto Kerner, Jr. was convicted of double digit counts of bribery, conspiracy, perjury and income tax evasion.  The list of criminal offenses from the Illinois governor's office is quite amazing. It looks like the FBI should set up an office across the street from the Capitol building in Springfield.

The state of Illinois certainly has provided an opportunity to create unforgettable characters with questionable reputations. You’ll have to pick up one of my books to see if they land in prison like their real-life counterparts!

James Ross
Author of Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, Tuey's Course, Opur's Blade, and Pabby's Score
Publisher Websites: and

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tim Tebow Would Make a Wonderful Literary Character

I realize that I'm not exactly the first writer to share my take on the Tim Tebow phenomenon that is sweeping the nation, but I think I bring a unique perspective to the conversation -- I wish I had thought of him as a character for my books!

For those not familiar with Tebow, he is the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos who was a mid-season replacement for the struggling Kyle Orton.  Since taking over behind center, Tebow has led his team through mulitple comeback victories that would have seemed unlikely individually, but have become an outright sensation after occurring week after week.  He performs without any amazing skill for the first 50 minutes of the game, and then seems to turn on the magic

Some have wondered if God has His hand in the games, as Tebow is outspoken about his Christian faith, always thanking God after games and kneeling on the sidelines.  Others just think he is the type of quarterback who only has a few good drives in him a game.  And, there are those who simply blame the opposing teams for bad play. 

Whatever the case may be, Tebow is a fascinating person.  And, all of the news stories have me thinking about how Tim Tebow would be a great character for my novels.  I often pull inspiration from sports in general, not just golf, to explain the drive and the passion of the men and women I share on my pages.  How great would a professional athlete whose play may be inspired by God and who causes millions of people to discuss issues of faith and tenacity and dedication be in a novel?  I love the fact that the controversial issues I put front and center in all of my novels probably lead my readers into some heated discussions after they close my book, and I know that a "Tebow-like" character would have such an effect.

Have you been following the Tim Tebow story?  What do you think of his unlikely success and both the adoration and criticism that he has been receiving from both the fans and the media? 

James Ross
Author of Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, Tuey's Course, Opur's Blade, and Pabby's Score
Publisher Websites: and

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Writing Styles--Screenwriting Versus Prose

Here’s a confession. Before my first book, Lifetime Loser, was written I worked on the screenplay. Huh?

That’s right. My approach was opposite from the traditional "writer goes to Hollywood" story. I wrote the screenplay first. I had a wild story with outrageous characters floating around in my head. When I relayed it to a good friend, he said, “That would make a great movie!” The comment forever stuck in my mind.

Two years later, after a golf trip I said, “Today’s the day.”

He said, “For what?”

“Today’s the day I’m going to start that movie.”

That night I went home, joined an online screenwriting club and attempted to learn an art that is so much different than writing prose. It was suggested that I get Final Draft, a screenwriting program, which is a leader in the screenwriting industry. Done. Now what?

I stumbled . . . obviously. Learning the program and commands and format was an eye-opener. But, several months later, what I thought was a masterpiece was completed. The next step was to have it critiqued. That was followed by enough red ink to make two Sharpies proud.

It was time to go back to the drawing board. Two more rewrites followed. My reviewer agreed that I had a compelling story and characters, but my screenwriting left a lot to be desired. I’m sure it did. That style of writing is different than anything a person who sits down to write a novel can imagine.

My next step was to hook up with a professional screenwriter. We discussed everything under the sun and spent a great deal of time on character arcs and themes. We had a major chore before us. The story had approximately ninety characters and lasted fifteen years. It was a nightmare.

We persevered. My rewrites numbered ten. It got better, but was certainly not up to “Hollywood” standards. That adventure took the better part of two more years. What next? I’m stuck in the Midwest and safely tucked away from industry contacts. “How do I generate interest in this screenplay and sell this thing?”

“The book.”

“I don’t want to write a book.”

“You asked.”

After chewing on that for three months I finally admitted to myself that I wasn’t doing anything else at the time and I did have quite a story to tell. There was a big need to fill in the blanks that were cut out of the “movie.” The screenplay provided a wonderful outline for my first novel.

What did I learn? Writing prose, although difficult, is much different and a whole lot easier for me. They both are tedious yet worlds apart in styles. One tells the story with words. The other tells the story through pictures. But they are the same in that both create visuals.

Eight months later the sense of accomplishment was unmatched after finishing Lifetime Loser, the book. My first novel was complete. I was hooked. In succeeding years, four additional novels were born. My writing has improved. My character base has grown to over two hundred. The setting has expanded.

What’s left on this journey? It might be time to take a short break. Marketing for five books is very time consuming and involves a great deal of effort. The online and eBook world has exploded. Coming up with a story, complete with plots and subplots and characters, taxes the mind.

But I’ll reveal a little secret that has been tucked away in my mind. I did revisit my screenplay, which has spent some time buried in a lot of files on my computer. It might be time to go back to work on that unique form of expression.

Can I tackle that challenge? You bet. Can I fix it to the standards that a screenplay requires? That remains to be determined. However my desire to take Lifetime Loser to the big screen was how this endeavor started. That’s a dream that I’d like to bring to fruition.

Will that happen? Who knows? It might. As any writer can tell you with the familiar cliché, “Keep writing.”

James Ross
Author of Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, Tuey's Course, Opur's Blade, and Pabby's Score
Publisher Websites: and

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Literary Agent Versus a Publicist -- Enlighten Me

Someone help me. It doesn’t make sense. Authors write. Their work is reviewed, critiqued, and sometimes even ripped apart by friends, family members, and complete strangers in order to end up with a great manuscript. Once the body of work is ready, many authors compose query letters. Then, despite all of the preparation, the rejection occurs. Are we all that lousy at our craft?

In today’s writing world, are literary agents that important? Do they help you sell books? Not that I can tell. Will they get you a publisher? Supposedly, but with the advent of self-publishing, why is that important?

A publisher eventually will turn to the author to sell books anyway. Why is having a Big Six publisher important? Granted, many of us strive to land a large publisher. Think about it, though. Why is it a necessity to be hooked to a corporate giant? I guess they help promote through their literature, trade shows, advertising and distributing. It used to be that a big-name author would be the leader that would allow a publisher to get a hoard of lesser known authors into a book store.

However, things have changed. Book stores are being boarded up. The Internet has taken over. Hardback and paperback books are being replaced by eBooks. Online booksellers are the wave of the future. The bricks and mortar on the corner book store are falling to the ground.

So that comes back to the original question. Why is having a literary agent that important? What do they do if authors can self-publish and sell eBooks via the Internet?

Maybe having a publicist is more important in today’s writing world than an agent. I’d like to hear your thoughts about that. Doesn’t coming up with a strategy to market make more sense in getting your word out?

Or, if the funds are limited, maybe the best course of action for an author is to do self-promotion. In that case is it possible for an author to utilize the Internet and publicize traditionally enough on this own to make a difference?

Publicists put together PR campaign plans. They act as a liaison between a client and the media. Their connections can be used to land radio gigs or television talk shows. A publicist helps to promote a brand and make it more visible in the marketplace. In a nutshell they create -- buzzzzzzzzz.

So we are back to the beginning. Help me. I’m confused. What is the best way to go? As authors we all want to explore ways to get our word to the public. We seek more readers. We reach out to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, YouTube and a host of other online social networking sites. Who has the answer? If there is no set acceptable standard, then what is one to do?

I’d love to hear what has been successful for some other authors. Give me some feedback!

James Ross
Author of Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, Tuey's Course, Opur's Blade, Pabby's Score
Twitter: golfnovels and JamesRossBooks
Publisher Website: and
Purchase link:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rewrites and Editing and Proofreading . . . Oh, My!

We’re coming up to the all-important stage of my latest novel, which will be released very soon. As any author knows it is tough enough to write a novel that has well over 100,000 words. The writing of a book takes an idea, planning, some sort of an outline and concrete thoughts concerning how to tell the story. That’s not to mention specific character development and how these personalities will be shared and interact. These are all very important ingredients that work together to form a manuscript.

But then the fun begins.

If you are a writer/author and you want to put your work in front of people, then you are very much aware that several sets of eyes need to examine your work before the final product hits the market. Mistakes will remain if you do not have others review the copy. A professional editor is essential. What stays? What goes? What needs to be reworked? What needs to be told in a different way?

But, there is more.

Even after rewrites and major edits have been performed, the actual proofreading of the manuscript needs to take place. I go over my text a minimum of five times and have done it as many as twelve times. That’s just me. I’m a stickler for details. My proofreader goes over the document four times. Thank goodness we double space the rough copy! We’d really be cross-eyed if we didn’t have the extra white area. Spelling and sentence structure is one thing, but looking for periods, commas, apostrophes and quotation marks can be a living nightmare.

And we’re still not done.

My publisher works on the font size, the margins and the spacing. A pdf version of the story is generated. Then my proofreader and I get a final opportunity to correct any errors in the copy that will be going to print. If you haven’t caught a punctuation error by then --- well, this is your last chance. Normally that process has to be done with quick turnaround.

Any published author realizes that a reader will find an error somewhere and that will be one of the first comments about the book. But, this imperfection won’t be due to a lack of effort. 

To my fellow writers out there--how tedious is your editing and proofreading process?  How many sets of eyes review your work?  How many times do you read through a manuscript yourself?

James Ross
Author of Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, Tuey's Course, Opur's Blade, Pabby's Score
Twitter: golfnovels and JamesRossBooks
Publisher Website: and
Purchase link:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Penn State and the Blame Game

Turn on the news you quickly will learn--the world is in a sad state of affairs. The way we treat one another and the resolve we have to stand up and do what is right seems to be shaky.  When money and politics enter the picture, the issues become more confused and twisted. The buck gets passed and it becomes a question of who is going to take the fall.

I haven’t read the grand jury report in the Penn State situation. All I know is what I’ve seen and heard in the news reports. This may involve a sports team, but there are no winners here.  Despite the cries over destroyed coaching legacies and other sad tales, the boys who were victims of this tragedy must not be forgotten.

Let’s backtrack nine years. An assistant football coach at Penn State witnesses disturbing and criminal behavior in the locker room between a former coach who still used the facilities for his outreach program and an under-aged boy. Some information reached the head coach. He reported it to higher-ups at the institution. I can only imagine what happened from there.

There was probably a discussion. The institution did not want the embarrassment of the incident being dragged into the media. A cover-up was most likely discussed. A hush went through the building. An attempt to silence the situation was put in motion.

Now jump ahead nine years. The heat returns. The media gets wind of the incident and the report from the grand jury leaks to the press. The secret is exposed. Uh-oh. What now? It’s time for the blame game. I’ll repeat – there are no winners. The ones with the greatest amount of political clout either have the most to lose or the ability to pass the buck.

Enter the most successful coach in the history of major college football. He’s caught in the middle and wants to maintain his dignity. He suggests a resignation. But the university thinks otherwise. They dismiss him immediately with a phone call! Isn’t that absurd treatment to a faithful employee of nearly fifty years? Tough luck! That’s the way it works in business. Students revolt. A riot commences.

Now the “he-saids and the she-saids” begin. Who saw what? When? How? What were the circumstances? Everyone gets to hire a lawyer and the legal process is set in motion. Even with indictments and oaths, we may never know the whole truth.

The fact remains that at least one little boy was seen being molested, and there are other alleged victims out there. Penn State wants to save face so the powers-to-be made an attempt to quiet the throngs.

When it’s all said and done--maybe a decade from now--how will the university and the head coach and the victim and the child abuser be viewed? Your guess is as good as mine but the situation is really a reflection of our deteriorating society and the attempt to buy reputations. Stop and think. Where is the twisted person that started it all? I bet he’s hiding under a blanket of lawyers. It all disgusts me.

Friday, November 11, 2011

And the 2011 World Series Winner is . . .

Let me say this about that headline. Both teams won. There were no losers in the 2011 World Series between the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals.

What? No Losers?

That’s right. One of them – the St. Louis Cardinals – holds the trophy, but #MLB (Major League Baseball) and baseball fans worldwide won.

The games were played outside the media hubs but the TV ratings soared nationwide. The Rangers were looking for their first ever world championship. They were pitted against the Cardinals who were looking for their 11th world title. Each game was competitive, exciting and gave viewers a taste of everything that the game of baseball provides.

What more could a fan ask for?

At times there was great pitching as well as timely home runs. There were errors at inopportune times and shoddy base running. Those gaffes were followed by defensive gems, clutch hitting and heroic moments. We saw pitching duels, managerial maneuvers, come-from-behind wins, World Series records and an extra inning thriller.

At any rate, congratulations go out to the Cardinals for a never-say-die spirit.

One thing that I did was post some guest blogs on the Blogger News Network. That is a different blogging strategy, using comments from the characters in my books. Take a look at these World Series articles from the 2011 World Series between St. Louis and Texas. A first-ever unique match up; an Albert Pujols night to remember; and the pivotal game six.

The guys at Prairie Winds Golf Course wanted to share their thoughts!

Friday, November 4, 2011

What's in a Name?

A good friend of mine called yesterday to let me know that he had just left the doctor's office with his wife and they learned that they are having a little girl.  They already have a son, and are thrilled to be adding a daughter to their family.  And now, the discussion about names will begin.  Some couples read every baby book and website possible, sifting through hundreds of names in search of the perfect one.  Others choose to honor family members by passing down a name from a previous generation.  Or, there are times when both mom and dad just know right away that a certain name is meant to be for their baby.

If you are a writer like me, you know that creating your characters is much like giving birth.  While there certainly is no physical comparison to the effort, we certainly spend time thinking about the people we are developing, wondering how they will turn out, and introducing them to the general public with a sense of pride and protectiveness.  And, at some point, we also must provide our characters with names.

In my work, the names I select all mean something and were chosen with purpose.  Whether it's the all-American girl who works in the clubhouse or the fallen athlete who ended up on the wrong side of the socioeconomic divide or the businessman from the other side of the world, I play into cultural stereotpyes when selecting names and, I hope, promote some challeging conversations among my readers.

So, I would like to know from you -- what is your process for naming your characters?  Does the name come first with the full personality and other details to follow?  Or, do you need to step back and look at a developed character sketch and then pick a name that is fitting?  I want to know how you give birth to your characters.  I imagine it's probably a personal and emotional process for you as much as me.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Use the Calendar to Sell Your Books!

All of us who are involved in the world of writing and publishing have explored ways to expand our marketing efforts. Many times, as a little guy, it has seemed like getting the word out about my books to the large audience that I desire is an insurmountable task. However, with my fourth release, Opur’s Blade, we tried something different and I wanted to share the exciting results.

Do you know how those bestseller lists that you see with online distributors such as Amazon are determined?  If you want to succeed at the game, you need to know the process.  We set out to do just that.

With several sites, one of the requirements is a large number of sales in a very short, concentrated time frame. We found that is the case with Amazon. With this knowledge, the gears were set in motion.

Opur’s Blade was categorized as a sports/fiction book on that global online bookseller. We told the world, through social media and traditional outlets, that we hoped people would purchase this new release on 10/10/10 and asked those who were considering buying the book to hold off until this date.

Bingo! Our efforts succeeded. With those sales, Opur’s Blade rose to at least #17 on the best-seller list at Amazon in the sports/fiction grouping and stood next to authors with names like Patterson, Grisham, and other notable literary figures. For a short while it was gratifying but alas, it didn’t last forever. At the end of the day, though, I can say that Opur’s Blade rose to lofty heights on the bestseller list at Amazon.  And, I know that this campaign exposed my work to many people who may not have discovered it otherwise.

We’ll certainly use this strategy with Pabby’s Score when it is released. You should try it, too!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Short Jockeys and Big Winnings!

Readers of my stories are aware that I try to take the principles of golf like honesty, integrity and dedication to improvement and apply them to situations in life outside of the putting green.  But I try not to limit those lessons strictly to golf; I believe that the lessons learned from sports in general are valuable as we all go forward in life.  There are lessons in leadership and teamwork to be learned from football and soccer . . . and even horse racing.

One of the settings I’ve developed in my already published novels is Hoof and Bridle Park, which is the local thoroughbred race track. This venue will take on a role of great prominence in my upcoming 2011 release, Pabby’s Score. The regular golfers at Prairie Winds have an opportunity to take their friendships beyond the familiar clubhouse and become well-known figures at this racing establishment and their good fortune plays an integral part in the plot that unfolds.

The reader will have an opportunity to live in the bowels of the track, in the pit and under the grandstand. The bleachers will provide an open air view of the home stretch and finish line. The paddock area comes alive with the smells of the stables. I hope that readers will feel like they have been transplanted to the upscale environment in the Turf Club, where pampering is the standard.

“And down the stretch they come….”

Any horse racing fans out there?  What do you enjoy most about an afternoon at the track?  The atmosphere, the beauty of the animals, the thrill of gambling?  Let us know if you have your own connection to this sport that would help us better understand the passion and emotional investment of those involved.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Music and Writing

One of the most important factors in my writing has been the influence of music in my creative mood. When I surround my environment with great artistic expression coming through my speakers, it encourages my work as well.

When the first story came to me, the people in my inner circle suggested that I continue with writing but to stay in the same setting and have reoccurring characters. They said that it would help the reader get more involved.  Since, my idea focused on people who hang out at a golf course, my devotion to this idea would not be too difficult.  And, I have found that staying with the same concept has allowed me to quickly get into the minds of my characters. I'm returning to old friends every time.  After penning five novels it’s almost like throwing a light switch now. But it probably wouldn’t be as easy without the influence of music.

As any writer knows, whether consciously or subconsciously, when you’re working on a story the plot and characters occupy your mind constantly. The actions and conversations and ideas come to an author at every conceivable time. At least for me, those are noted right when they happen. However when it comes time to put it down on paper the mind needs to be freed up.

Thank goodness I discovered Not only do I get an opportunity to tweet links to songs to my friends on Twitter but I get to listen to what I’d like to hear. After accumulating an extensive playlist I can now find hours of tunes that fit my mood and fuel my creativeness.

If you’re a writer and feel the same then join me there as golfnovels or AuthorJamesRoss. Hopefully some of the songs I like will find their way to your inner self.

What are some songs or pieces of music that get your creative juices going?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Continuing Vaccination-Autism Debate

Another school year is now underway in classrooms all around our country, as our kids resume their studies of math, science, English, history, and hopefully much more.  If you have children in a public school, you know that one of the many pieces of paper you had to submit in order to get them registered was an immunization form.  School administrators want to know that the kids walking their hallways are not going to be harboring measles, rubella, chicken pox, or other diseases that medicine has largely eradicated.  But, there are an increasing number of children who reach school age and whose parents have opted out of having them vaccinated.  They are placed right in the middle of a debate that extends way beyond simply whether or not they should be allowed in a classroom.

Many parents worry about the publicized link between vaccines and autism, even though the scientific community has repeatedly come out against there being any evidence of a connection.  Others don't like the idea of their infants being inoculated at such a young age and choose to develop their own vaccination schedule.  The topic even has earned some attention among the current contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, as Rep. Michele Bachmann spoke out about her concerns that the HPV vaccine may cause mental retardation

In my upcoming book, Pabby's Score, I look at the serious issue of autism and the stigma it receives in our country.  I am hoping that my writing on this topic will inspire some conversations among readers about the causes behind this affliction and how best to help families who are dealing with this special need in their homes.

If you have some thoughts about the great debate over the vaccination-autism connection, or if you have experience with autism in your own circle of family and friends, I would love to hear your story.  I know that I can learn a great deal from what you have to share.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Who Makes You Laugh?

Have you ever been tempted to take the stage during one of those "open mike" nights at the local comedy club?  If just one friend has mentioned during an evening out that you should take your show on the road after keeping everyone in the table laughing throughout dinner, I imagine the idea has crossed your mind.  In some ways, it's a great life!  You get to travel the country and vent about people and things that irritate you in front of (hopefully) hundreds of people. 

There is a diverse set of styles when it comes to stand-up comedians.  There are some who make their living talking about relationships, because there is certainly no shortage of material there.  Others choose to focus on current events and politicians . . . again, plenty of opportunity to make fun there.  And, there is the group that relies on props (think Carrot Top or Gallagher) to get the laughs.

Quite a few comedians who started on the tour circuit translated their talents into popular television shows in which they were the featured character, such as Ray Romano in Everybody Loves Raymond, Roseanne in (appropriately enough) Roseanne, and Bill Cosby in The Cosby Show.  And, I know there are quite a few others I could mention.

In my upcoming release, Pabby's Score, the career of a comedian is a topic that receives some focus.  So, I thought I would take a moment and ask you who your favorite comedian of all time is.  What makes that person stand out for you?  Maybe you'll introduce me to someone new, and I'm always looking for reasons to laugh!  Look forward to reading your thoughts!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Texting and Tweeting: For Better and For Worse

 When was the last time that you sat down at a desk, wrote a letter by hand, placed the completed note in an envelope, and dropped the sealed correspondence in a mailbox?  The art of letter writing seems to be a thing of the past, replaced first by e-mails and now the even more instantaneous and abbreviated text message.  While there are many great advantages to having these communication tools at our fingertips, something has been lost along the way.

As a writer, I love the expression that develops out of putting words and phrases together to create a character or a visual image.  One of the features of my novels of which I am most proud is the emphasis that I put on descriptive language.  I want my readers to become engulfed in the scene through the words that I choose.  If people, especially our young students who have never known life without spell check and the other conveniences of computers, claim text messages written in short hand as the extent of their writing experience, they are being shortchanged.

In my new novel, Pabby's Score, I look at how culture and communication has changed with text messages, instant messaging, and Tweets.  As a novelist who always incorporates social commentary into my work, I enjoyed bringing such a hot topic into my writing this time.  I bet you will find some similarity to situations in your own life.

Are you one of those who constantly has a Blackberry or iPhone by your side, ready to send and receive text messages or read emails?  Has this technology changed your relationships with family and friends?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Draw of Secret Societies

No matter our stage in life, we all want to feel like we belong somewhere.  And, let's admit it, sometimes the more exclusive the membership to our particular group, the prouder we are.  Whether it's the varsity football team in high school, the most popular fraternity in college, or the inner circle that has the CEO's ear at your company, being on the inside is desirable.

You cannot get more "inside" than a secret society, when your membership secrets are restricted to a chosen few.  Most of us will never know what that is like, but conspiracy theorists like to claim that several of our presidents have been members of the international Illuminati that control world events.  Count me as one who isn't convinced that our world's governing bodies are being manipulated by the puppet strings of a few men whose purposes remain in the shadows.

The Freemasons also get pegged as a secret society that consists of the powerful and influential, with some historians creating the connection between President George Washington and the Masons and claiming that the stature of that organization boosted our first president's leadership.

Of course, many secret societies go no deeper than employing a secret handshake and meeting in discreet locations for the purposes of male bonding.  So, let's not give them too much credit.

In my upcoming release, Pabby's Score, I explore secret societies and the draw we have to their assumed sense of influence and importance.  And, of course, this will be set among the characters you have come to know in my previous works as they spend countless hours talking at the Prairie Winds Golf Course clubhouse.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Online Dating Has a Presence in My New Book

My upcoming release, Pabby's Score, will feature many of the characters you have come to know from my other published works but also offers some new story lines that I hope will start some interesting discussions among readers.  One popular relationship trend that becomes a point of interest in Pabby's Score is that of online dating.  As one of the popular matchmaking websites notes in its television commercials, twenty percent of all relationships now start as a result of some kind of internet service.

I imagine there are some people reading this blog post who are currently dating someone they discovered after placing a profile on one of the many dating sites available today.  I am not at all surprised now when a friend tells me he was at a wedding the previous weekend and the happy couple met through their computers.  I've heard that story more than a few times now.

There are several reasons to turn to online dating in an attempt to find anything from a casual encounter to a spouse.  Maybe you devote many hours to your profession and the spare time just isn't there for hanging out at the places that eligible singles tend to go.  It could be that you are shy and sharing a bit about yourself through a website is less intimidating than walking up to a stranger and starting a conversation.  Or, it could be that you've tried the traditional dating practices for years and you are ready to do something different.

For the people you know who primarily date through these sites, or maybe even concerning yourself, what was the reason for joining? 

There are genuine safety concerns when meeting a date in person for the first time.  What's a great first date location that is public and doesn't keep someone stuck in a painful situation for hours?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My New Novel Confronts a Broken Legal and Political System

My upcoming novel, Pabby’s Score, which is scheduled to be released later this year, makes a strong statement about the controversial advocacy and lack of ethical standards that exists among some in the legal community.

If you’ve read any of my previous books, you know that the characters that I’ve created are opinionated and have a lot to say about controversial social issues as they play a round or two at Prairie Winds Golf Course. Add a candid look at the high level of hypocrisy that we encounter in American society emanating from those in professional circles that are supposedly designed to vet these issues in a fair and judicious manner, and I hopefully have created another work that will spark heated and thoughtful discussions among my readers.

In Pabby’s Score, the collective opinion about politicians, judges, and lawyers among the regulars who bring their five irons to club house on a regular basis is not flattering.  With the mismanagement of government that is occurring on both sides of the aisle and playing out on the news every night, controversial court rulings that seem to fly in the face of our foundations as a nation, and a litigious society that makes a mockery of the serious nature with which legal challenges should be presented, I thought that it would be a suitable time for the regular players at the golf course to voice their displeasure with our leaders.

With this newest release, you’ll find civil justice (or injustice) as criminal acts come to the forefront and the web of involvement by respected members of the community bring into question the value of our leadership. I will be curious to learn if, after reading Pabby’s Score, your thoughts on the current state of our judicial and political process are the same as the guys in the clubhouse.  If that turns out to be the case, we are a people ready for some sweeping changes in how our legal and leadership systems operate.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Blogging Hiatus is Over!

OK, it's been a while.  I have been absent from my blog for nearly a year, but my silence was with good reason.  I took some time off from this component of my outreach efforts to focus on writing and editing a new novel, Pabby's Score, and to refine the methods through which I am marketing my published works--Lifetime Loser, Finish Line, Tuey's Course, and Opur's Blade.  It's been a great time of growth for me as an author, and I look forward to sharing what I have learned and some insights into my new work as I now move forward with this blog.

I am excited about the upcoming release of Pabby's Score.  If you have read any of my previous books, you know that I give great importance to strong and honest character development and try to create situations that weave these fictional individuals into story lines that are raw with emotion.  Of course, along the way my love of golf offers an essential backdrop to all that unfolds!

Pabby's Score will feature unscrupulous politicians (research wasn't difficult to find there!), corrupt police officers, Internet dating, horse track betting, and dementia.  Each element is an essential piece in crafting a novel that would not be complete without it.  I will share more details as the October release date draws closer!

For those who have been following my work since the release of Lifetime Loser several years ago . . . thank you.  For those who may just be discovering my books and blog now, I look forward to getting to know you and I would love to hear your feedback at any time.  Please check back here often for fresh material and posting of important announcements.  I'm glad to be back!