Yesterday, I told you in a post about Tom Winton’s Beyond Nostalgia being free through the end of the day today. You can pick it up if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/ct7n88 into your web browser.
I asked Tom if he would be willing to write a guest post to tell us a little bit more about him, his writing, and anything else he felt comfortable enough to share…
Some writers have been stringing words together since childhood; others, like me, get their calling much later in life. It wasn’t until 1997, when I was forty-nine years old, that I started putting my ideas on paper.
I was in sales at the time, and after looking at the same blank page of a Spiral notebook for two full years, I finally wrote a sentence that seemed worthwhile. Then it started. After that I found myself writing my debut novel, Beyond Nostalgia, whenever I could find the time. Between appointments at work, I would park my van in distant corners of strip-mall parking lots and scrawl words into that notebook. Being a husband and father, time was tight at home, but whenever I could, I’d be sitting in my recliner or at the computer feverishly writing sentences that I hoped people would feel rather than just read. After two-and-a-half years of writing on a part time basis, I finally finished the seventh draft and sent out some query letters to literary agents.
Other than myself, the only other person who’d ever read a word of Beyond Nostalgia was my wife. She loved it, but I well knew how overly generous people can be when giving praise to something a loved one has poured their heart and soul into.
Three agents ended up asking to see the manuscript, but none of them opted to represent it. Disgustedly, I put the banded pile of paper into a closet and closed the door. Along with a piece of my soul, it sat there for eleven years. For all that time I wrote nary a thing and was no longer the same person I had been when I was writing regularly. I sorely missed the sense of achievement I used to feel after a successful writing session—a rewarding feeling that I call a “writer’s high.”
Though I hadn’t done what I loved for so long, I did still read, and one afternoon in December of 2009, while at my local library, I spotted a copy of Writer’s Digest on a shelf. As if the magazine had eyes, I could have sworn it was staring at me; trying to tell me something. Having a half-hour to kill, I figured what the heck; I’ll take a peek at the magazine that years earlier I had read so religiously. I sat in an upholstered chair, leafed through a few pages then came upon an article about online writing communities. Never even knowing that such groups had come into existence, I quickly jotted down the names of two, hustled right home then got my wife to help me upload my Beyond Nostalgia manuscript onto the Harper Collins’s Authonomy website.
When I got my first review, I was stunned. The person who’d read my opening chapters loved them. So did the next reader/writer and the one after that. Almost everybody who read my work said encouraging things about it. In no time at all, Beyond Nostalgia was way at the top of the monthly rankings in several categories and in the top ten on Authonomy’s all-genre list—out of 6,000 entries. A month or two later, I put my manuscript on Random House’s YouWriteOn site for writers, and six weeks after that, it was declared a Bestseller and in contention for their “2011 Book of the Year.”
Riding high by now—knowing that I’d been right all along in thinking my book had been worthwhile, I again sent out query letters to agents. Then I got another shock. In a month’s time, ten agents asked to see all or part of Beyond Nostalgia — four in one day.
That was it! In my mind I had chosen Martin Scorsese to direct the film version of my story. I had the cast of actors all picked out—with Brad Pitt playing the part of my main character, Dean Cassidy. I even had the soundtrack playing in my head. But then POOF, all my hopes and dreams ended as quickly as they had appeared. Not a single agent picked up Beyond Nostalgia.
You can easily imagine how devastated I was—no, check that, you probably can’t. One would have to live that disappointment to truly understand it.
Down as I was, it wasn’t long before a small publisher made me an offer and I took it. In no time at all, the Kindle version of Beyond Nostalgia hit Amazon’s “Hot New Releases” list. After that it rose high on the “Top Rated 100” list and for months became a Contemporary Romance and Literary Fiction Bestseller.
Six months later I parted ways with my publisher, and along with Beyond Nostalgia I self- published my second novel, The Last American Martyr. Soon it became every bit as successful as my first book. In June of 2012 I put out my third attempt—Four Day’s with Hemingway’s Ghost, and all those good things happened all over again. Then, just recently, I was listed as one of Amazon’s “Most Popular Authors” in Literary Fiction.
Now it’s 2013, and just days ago I released my fourth book. Entitled Within a Man’s Heart, it’s a novella, and once again, my hopes are high. I feel like I’ve come a long way as a writer over the past two years. My goals are much higher now than they were in December of 2009—and so are my spirits. But I have to keep myself in check. I can’t let my overactive writer’s imagination run away with itself. I’m no longer picking out directors or casts or soundtracks for films. Not yet, anyhow.
It has been said that, “Beyond Nostalgia captures the power of first love and stretches it painfully over a lifetime of regrets.” Likened to such classics as Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird, it has been called, “A Gone with the Wind for the latter half of the 20th Century.” One publisher has said that, “It is a book that will someday be required reading in schools.”
My second book, The Last American Martyr, is the story of a fifty-nine-year-old unemployed man who, by writing a book, singlehandedly revitalized the all-but-dead international labor movement. One reader summarized it very well when she said, “This is the frightening story of a quiet, unassuming doorman from New York that is suddenly catapulted into fame and fortune. As a result of writing a book that may well start a revolution against the corporate elite, Thomas Soles and his wife Elaina find that they cannot return to their normal lives and must begin a life “on the run.” They encounter plenty of bad, but also enough good to keep faith in humanity.”
Four Days with Hemingway’s Ghost, my third novel, is not a story of spooks and goblins. It’s a powerful story about two men from two very different times. One man is mortal, the other is immortal. One is painfully ordinary; the other world famous.
Jack Phelan, a forty-two-year-old underachiever, gets into an unlikely accident and goes into a coma for four days. But somehow, minutes after he blacks out, he finds himself in Key West, Florida—rubbing shoulders with an aged Ernest Hemingway. Over the next four days, Jack and Ernest travel to the legendary author’s old haunts and meet up with many of his long gone friends. Some of these reunions are rollicking good times; others are highly emotional tests of strength for both men. Once their journey comes to a shocking end, the story is still not over. That’s when things really get interesting.
Lastly, my new novella, Within a Man’s Heart, is a poignant story about a man who four years after the death of his young wife, still can’t move forward with his life. Christian Crews wants to leave Manhattan—walk away from his job and the apartment that harbors so many memories of his beloved Elyse, but he thinks breaking away would be the same as abandoning her—an unforgivable act of betrayal he could never live with. But all that changes on the fourth anniversary of Elyse’s death. Chris makes two shocking discoveries, and a part of him begins to believe that Elyse would actually want him to go on with his life.
Two weeks later Chris moves to New Hampshire; and minutes after arriving in the small rural village of Mountain Step, he meets a beautiful local woman with mesmerizing gray eyes and a heart as big as the surrounding mountains. Beginning another emotional relationship may be the last thing on Chris’s mind, but he soon finds himself falling for Gina Elkin, every bit as hard as she has fallen for him.
Could there be a future for them? Will Elyse allow it? After all, she’s still deep within Chris’s heart—a place no one else has ever been.