Herald JournalWinsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Nov. 25, 2002

Local author writes about golf and life

By Ryan Gueningsman

You do not have to be a golf fan to take something away from local author Rob Nelson's book "Trees, My Way, Golf Stories for Mortals."

While Nelson, who lives by Lester Prairie, may be writing about golf, his messages cover something much more than just sport ­ they tackle life's issues, but still incorporate a sense of humor.

One of his 18 tales includes a story about a gentleman who received a cell phone call on the golf course. Much to the aggravation of his fellow golfers, he took the call.

"Hello . . . yeah, the reception is better. I was in the car before. I'm on the course now," Nelson writes of a conversation in his book.

While the golfer's partners look at each other, dazed that the gentleman would take a call on the golf course, the man proceeds to talk.

"Yeah, OK," the man continued with his call. "We're teeing off now, I'll call you after the second hole."

This story, like the 17 others, can happen not only on the golf course, but out to dinner in a restaurant, in the car, anywhere "normal" people are going about their daily lives, and that is what Nelson strives to portray.

"I don't think the book is about golf so much, but more human nature," Nelson said. "Golf is the perfect backdrop, and so many people can relate to it. People in the book are people you have met ­ on the golf course or off, there are bits of all those people in the book."

The book itself was written before Nelson moved to the area, and is the sixth book on Nelson's resume.

He began by writing short stories about golf and showing them to a co-worker, who would doodle some drawings to go along with the stories.

"He (Bill George) ended up doing the cover, as well as the drawings on the inside," Nelson said. "A friend of mine, Alaina Fedie, who is also an artist, did the company logo for me."

Nelson cites golf as a favorite pastime, making that his first choice to write short stories about.

"I wanted to write some short stories, and golf was my number one hobby. Once I sat down and started writing, they just came like water over the Niagara," he said. "I would write on the train to work, lunch hour, and on the train during the ride home. When I got home at night, I would type them into the computer. The stories came to me so quickly that it only took a couple months total to write all of them ­ they were such fun to write."

After the stories had been written, Nelson approached several major publishers ­ all whom liked the book, but said that "because I wasn't myself a famous golfer or writing about famous golfers they couldn't publish it."

Not to be taken down by this roadblock, Nelson realized that there are many people out there who are sick of the standard jokes and anecdotes.

"There is a great deal more to golf than that, and one of the unique things about golf as a sport is that all of us ordinary people can play it.

"We're not as good as the pros, obviously, but we get out there and play our own brand of golf that they don't play. There is a huge market for this ­ and I decided to do this on my own and self-publish," he said.

Self-publishing included page layout and cover design. He spent an entire year editing it, getting the pictures together, and putting the book together for printing.

"It's fairly costly," he said about self-publishing, "and there is no guarantee of success with it. I believed in it and had enough encouragement from people who read it that wanted to see this book in print."

After that year of work, Nelson's dream of having that book came true with "Trees, My Way, Golf Stories for Mortals."

"This is the book for ordinary people who are tired of reading the same old thing," Nelson said.

A final piece of inspiration for Nelson to get his book self-published was meeting author Susan Green at the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) Tour last summer at Hazeltine, who also self publishes.

"She has some golf books for children, is self-published also, and has been very successful with it," he said. "After speaking with her, I thought to myself, I can really do this."

Nelson was born in Madison, Wis., and when he was four years old, his family moved to Chicago, Ill.

He wrote his first story when he was seven years old, and took a lot of writing classes in high school and college ­ but he had intentions to become a college professor in physical sciences.

"When I got into college and was working for a professor who was doing what I thought I could do," Nelson said, "I just realized I couldn't do it.

"I fumbled around quite a bit and ended up working as a retail broker in the commodities industry for seven years ­ when I moved up to Minnesota, I saw the chance to start over and to become a professional writer.

"I moved to Minnesota a little over five years ago," Nelson said. "I have family nearby and wanted to be closer to them ­ plus the weather is a lot nicer."

Nelson applied for, and received, a job as a reporter at the Lakeshore Weekly News in Minnetonka. The editor recommended Nelson to a trade magazine publisher, where he has been writing ever since.

"Since I started doing that," he said, "I have realized that this is what I was meant to do."

"I love living in Lester Prairie," Nelson said. "I have gotten to know a lot of people through Bethal Lutheran, and love meeting new people."

Nelson will be at the Hutchinson Mall signing copies of his book outside of the Hallmark store Friday and Saturday, Nov. 29 and 30.

Nelson will be also be doing a book signing at the Winsted Library Friday, Dec. 6 from 2 to 5 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 7 from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m., in conjunction with the library's silent auction.

He also has a book signing in the works with the Old Town Gallery in Howard Lake.

Watch Nelsons's web site, www.lagapublishing.com, for updates to his schedule and to order his book, "Trees, My Way, Golf Stories for Morals."

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