Please welcome, Tom Williams, a local Marco Island author that received Florida acclaim for his novel, Lost and Found which takes place in the depths of the sea off southwest Florida. It is my pleasure to have him as my guest author on my blog. His newest novel, Surrounded by Thunder is Williams’ third book.
”Surrounded by Thunder: The Story of Darrell Loan and the Rocketmen is a story of science-truth more exciting than any science-fiction tale. From his exhaustive interviews with one of America’s pioneer rocket scientists, author Tom Williams delivers an enthralling account of how earthlings became spacemen in NASA’s early days. This read is a real-life space thriller.” –Chris Curle, former CNN News anchor and print journalist
Joanne: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?
Tom: I was the kid in school that could not do sports! I always dropped the ball and was always picked last for any type of football, baseball, or whatever kind of sport. I think because I did not have athletic talent I was drawn to reading and movies. After reading everything I could get my hands on . . . all the way into my late 30’s, I began to consider . . . wait a minute . . . I can do this! I can write a story! I sold my first story a few years later.
Joanne: Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?
Tom: My parents were the best story-tellers ever. When I was a little boy a favorite pass time at our house was story telling. My mom and my dad would take turns telling stories for pure entertainment. It was a competition to see who could make up the most captivating tale and lead the listeners through to fruition. We did this at home at the dinner table, in the car on a drive, anywhere. It was wonderful.”
Joanne: How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?
Tom: My first novel “Lost and Found ” was published about a year after attending the Washington DC Book Expo where I bonded with many literary agents and publishers and really found some “face time.”
Joanne: Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?
Tom: Yes, I am published by a traditional publisher—Archebooks. I followed a path to my first work of fiction by attending book expos and writers conferences. I really believe that because writing is so subjective the more publishing professionals you meet the more you can learn. Everyone has a different opinion on what they like and how to succeed—but in writing there is only one simple common denominator: if the writing is good it will work.
Joanne: Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?
Tom: I believe that changing the point of view is very important to keep the reader engaged and to offer a wider spectrum to the story. This is why I enjoy writing in the third person. I find most first person writing with the same POV is almost too preachy. When I read, I enjoy different points of view to make the “picture” more complete.
Joanne: Authors and publishers are always talking about finding your “Voice”. Exactly what does that mean to you and how did you find yours?
Tom: I’m still looking to perfect my Voice, but when I write a specific paragraph or create a special scene that has equal parts of humor, description, and emotion, and when that same paragraph comes along over and over in the editing process and it still makes me stop and smile. . . every time. . . that’s when I realize: that’s my Voice!
Joanne: What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?
Tom: For this one I have a two part answer.
For me the writing is easy. It’s also fun. I don’t do outlines. . . I just create as I go and edit later. I’m like a car that’s ready to go for a drive. The car is fun to drive if it has gas for the journey. A car without gas is like a writer without an idea for a story. If I stumble onto a good idea and it’s a good topic; my car can go and move on down the road.
In my opinion, promotion after publication is the most difficult part about writing and the whole publication process! You don’t feel like you are accomplishing enough—no matter how hard you try. It’s like mining for gold with lots of dead end caverns and very few gold nuggets.
Joanne: It is not enough to write a book and wait for the money to start rolling in. What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?
Tom: I work with a very good publicist. Trish Stevens and the Ascot Media Group. She believes in me and she is like my coach. She helps with everything. Including flying a pregnant cat over from where she lives in Houston Texas after she found out our cats all died after 18 years of wonderful animal fellowship. Trish put her assistant on a plane with a cat carrier and sent Angel with her babies-to-be over to Marco Island. She paid for everything just because she has a big heart and couldn’t bear to think about a house with no cats and long-lost-pets. She handles my writing the same way. She really watches out for me and believes in my ultimate success. I look forward to every correspondence with her.”
Joanne: What advise would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?
Tom: Writers need to write. Working on a writing project once or twice a week will NOT work!! Writing must be done on almost a daily basis. I do take Sundays off and don’t even look at email.
Quote –Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away!
Flight of the Valkrye is the prequel for his second novel Lost and Found, which received over 30 editorial reviews from across the nation. His writing is well represented by the Ascot Media Group in Houston, Texas, and specifically Trish Stevens, publicist extraordinaire. Tom is a well-traveled, veteran scuba diver specializing in shipwreck diving who lives on Marco Island, Florida with his wife Victoria and their three cats Angel, Atticus, and Scout.
Thank you Tom. Surrounded by Thunder is currently available on Amazon as an e-reader and will be out in print edition by mid May. Congratulations Tom.
. Now here is a sneak peek into Surrounded by Thunder
“If I die, keep the program going. This is tricky stuff.” Virgil “Gus” Grissom
When a full moon rises over a snowy Iowa landscape, the passage of time slows down. The lunar body seems bigger and brighter as it breaks free of the snow, and as the celestial mechanics that drive the universe lift the moon higher, the folks from Iowa can see there are mountains on the moon, and even a sandy ocean called the Sea of Tranquility.
Darrell Loan was born in 1929 in Iowa City. Many have said when the going gets tough the tough get going, but when Darrell came into the world the tough was going to get about as hard-hitting and rough as anyone could imagine. The Great Depression was on the way and as every child learned growing up during the 1930’s, life was not what it used to be.
The hints were all around for a youngster to discover and it was easy to listen as the older folks talked about the days before the stock market crash and the good times after the Great War. As Darrell listened to the stories of the 1920’s, there was little doubt that the boisterous tales of prosperity and yesteryear were different from what the world was like now.
The fact that times were tough was always on the doorstep with the Sunday paper, or in whispers down at the drugstore, but when Darrell heard about the bank failures and his own family it was a hard lesson for an eight-year-old to understand.
Darrell’s dad, Charlie Alden Loan, unlike many, did have a job, and there was always food on the table, but the rumors of what might happen if things got worse were a hardship for an eight-year-old, especially since Darrell had what the folks in Iowa called imagination.
Charlie Alden Loan was Irish and Martha Marie Heldt was German. They were both Americans but Charlie could remember his grandparents speaking with an Irish accent and Martha Marie could easily speak German. They fell in love as Americans do, and began to build their lives in Iowa.
The land was good, family values were strong, and it was hard to understand when the bank failed and took all the money. The trouble started in a far and away place called New York City and left a scar that a generation would bear and could never forget.
Charlie Alden had more than enough cash in the bank to cover the mortgage, but when the banks crashed, everyone lost all their savings. The hard part to understand was when the same bank that lost the all the money wanted the mortgage paid. The bankers even sent the sheriff out to get the diamond wedding ring on Martha Marie’s finger, but Charlie Alden explained to that law officer—man-to-man—that that just wasn’t going to happen.