Today’s Key West – Is it Too Funky for Ernest Hemingway?

Hemingway House and Museum

Today’s Key West – The Hemingway House and Museum

By Tom Winton

You’ve got to wonder what Ernest Hemingway would think of the island he called home for 10 years if he were to return today. Well, guess what! He did return. I just saw him yesterday. No, I’m not kidding. I saw him down at Sloppy Joe’s Saloon on Duval Street yesterday afternoon. Not only that, but he was with his good buddy and founder of the bar Joe Russell.

Sure, I know that Papa has been dead since 1961 and is buried in Ketchum, Idaho. I also know that Joe Russell checked out twenty years before him, in 1941. And that he’s buried in the Key West Cemetery, just a hop, skip, and a stagger from his old bar. But believe me, none of that matters. I saw them I tell you.

Sloppy Joe’s

It was around 4:30. Sloppy Joe’s was packed as always, and I was sitting at the bar talking to my buddy Fernando. He mixes libations there, so our conversation was in snippets. As he bounced back and forth between me and the customers he was serving, we talked about getting together to do a little tarpon fishing this coming Saturday. We were just about to set a time when he had to skedaddle again to fix drinks for two drop-dead gorgeous school teachers he’d told me were from Massachusetts. The band had just cranked up again after taking a break, and the lead singer was belting out the lyrics to Cheeseburger in Paradise so loud you could have heard them four blocks down Greene Street. I swung around in my stool to check out the high-spirited tourists dancing in front of the band stand, but something in the back corner of the bar caught my eye.

Now, keep in mind that I was only two beers deep at the time. Okay, so maybe it was three or four. I’m not sure, but I was fine I tell you. Anyhoo, standing side by side, in front of the wall with all the old fishing rods and pictures of Hemingway hanging on it, was none other than the literary legend and his longtime sidekick, Joe. I’m 100% sure of it. The only thing is the both of them were kind of transparent. I could see all their features, the drinks in their hands, the sea captain’s hat tilted back on Joe Russell’s head, the rope holding up Hem’s Bermuda shorts, but I could also see the pictures directly behind them.

With my eyes popping out of my head I immediately picked up my bottle of Corona and eased my way over to them.

Deep in a conversation, looking out at the dancers just like I had been, neither of them seemed to notice me. Stealthily, I pulled a chair out from a table just to their left, parked myself, and leaned my head to the side. I could just barely hear them over all the ruckus.

“Son of a gun Hem,” I heard the onetime bootlegger say, “I just can’t get over all this! What the hell has happened to this town…to my place?”

“I don’t know, Josie, looks to me like the island has been invaded by a bunch of Martians.”

“Yeah, check out that guy over there…the chubby middle-aged joker dancing with that sweet young redhead. What the heck’s that thing he’s got wrapped around his waist? Looks like a belt, but that ain’t no buckle on the front of it.”

“I have no idea, compadre,” Hem said, “The thing puts me to mind of the fighting belts we used to wear when fishing for sailfish. The only difference is the thing on the front of his certainly isn’t a cup like we used to stick the butt ends of our fishing rod into. Looks like a small binocular case jiggling out there.”

“Man…things sure have sure changed around here.” Russell then said, rolling his eyes around his old establishment.

“Yes, the only improvement I can see is all these fine looking ladies.”

“Yeah, and it seems half of them are wearing tee shirts or tank tops with the name of the bar and your mug shot on the front of them. What’s with that? How come my picture ain’t on ‘em?”

“Eat your heart out, old buddy.” Hem came back, with a wide grin on his face.

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Right about then a tall, dapper looking guy in a Panama hat and white linen suit strode into the spacious open-air barroom. Acting as if he owned the place, a blonde under one arm (who looked like a high-end model) and his other arm seemingly dragging behind him, he had a smile that would make Clark Gable jealous.

Joe Russell did a double take when he saw them then said, “Well roll out the red carpet! Who the heck does this guy think he is, King Farouk?”

“Forget what he looks like,” the white-haired Ernest said, “what’s that he’s dragging behind him?”

It was one of those luggages with an expandable handle…a very small one.

Crinkling up his forehead real tight beneath the black bill of his hat, Joe said, “You mean he can’t carry that thing? It’s only the size of a knapsack for crying out loud. What’s he need wheels for?“

Looking totally disgusted at this point, Hem said, “That’s it! Let’s get out of here. I’ve seen enough. Big strapping guy like him can’t carry a dinky suit case. I don’t know what’s happened to men since we left.”

“You can say that again. I’m damn glad I rounded my last curve when I did.”

With that the two men double-timed it around the dance floor and out one of the wide doorways onto the street. Not a soul had rolled an eye at either of them. I was sure then I was the only one who could see them, and I wasn’t about to let them out of my sight.

Tailing Hemingway

After following them out into the bright Florida sunshine, I tailed them as they weaved through and around the onslaught of humanity parading along the wide sidewalks of Duval Street. Block after block I remained just steps behind them but, with their backs to me, I couldn’t hear much of what they said. Tee shirt shops, bars and more bars, gaudy gift shops and restaurants, we passed dozens of them before Hem turned his head towards Joe and I heard him say, “My God! What a circus this place has become.”

Then all three of us spotted a lanky bald guy scurrying across the street through all the slow moving traffic.

“Would ya look at this one?” Joe said. “Not a hair on his head and he’s got a lawnmower tattooed on the side of it.”

“I see it. Can you imagine that?”

They both cracked up laughing but as soon as they calmed down again Hem said, “We’ve got to get the hell out of here, Josie. We’re coming up on Ohio Street, let’s turn there and go to my place.”

That’s exactly what they did. And when we arrived at the Hemingway House/Museum the iron gate in the middle of the tall brick wall out front was locked. The place had already closed for the day.

Ernest Hemingway just stood there for a moment. As he gazed affectionately at his old home through the bars, I couldn’t help thinking how he looked like a man who’d just been reunited with a long lost lover.

A silent moment passed before Joe, standing wordlessly alongside his friend, seeing the sadness in his eyes, tried to console him by saying, “Damn, why’d the have to go and turn the place into a museum?”

Ernest turned to look at him then, and the melancholic look on his face suddenly vanished. Instantly replacing it with the wide devilish grin of a very satisfied prankster he said, “Oh hell Josie, I don’t mind that at all. Did you know that some of the visitors who’ve come here claimed they’ve heard my footsteps upstairs when there was nobody up there?”

“No, I‘ve never heard anything about that up in the big bar in the sky.”

“Yes sir, that’s what some folks say down here. And there have been others who have taken it a step further. Some of them swear they’ve heard the keys of my old Royal typewriter being tapped when no one was upstairs in the studio.”

“You’re kiddin’?” Joe came back. “Ain’t it downright ridiculous the way some people let their minds run away with them? How could anybody believe such hokey….”

“Guess what, buddy,” Ernest interrupted, putting his arm over Joe’s shoulder, “It ain’t hokey!”

For a short second Joe just looked at Hem with a questioning look on his face. Then it sunk in.

“You son of a gun!” he blurted out. “You are one evil amigo!”

He then slung his arm over Hemingway’s shoulder and the two old friends burst out laughing.

I couldn’t help but to feel left out when, with their hearty laughter continuing to echo up and down Whitehead Street, the two ghostly figures drifted right through the bars of that iron gate and made their way toward the front door.

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Author Tom Winton

Said to be a man who writes with his pen dipped in his soul, bestselling author Tom Winton has been listed as one of Amazon’s Top 100 “Most Popular Authors” in both Literary Fiction and in Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense.

Born in New York City, he has done everything from working on a railroad gang in the Colorado Rockies to driving a taxicab in Manhattan. He’s been a mailman, a salesman, an entrepreneur and more. Now living in Florida with his wife Blanche and their ill-tempered but lovable Jack Russell terrier Ginger, Tom is working on his sixth book.

Tom’s bestselling novels have been likened to such classics as Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbirdand more. His titles are Beyond Nostalgia, The Last American Martyr, Four Days with Hemingway’s Ghost, Within a Man’s HeartA Second Chance in Paradise, and a short story collection, The Voice of Willie Morgan. Three Romances From a Man’s Heart is the title of his newly released box set.

 

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ALL OF TOM’S BESTSELLING NOVELS ARE AVAILABLE AT THE FOLLOWING RETAILERS AND MOST OTHERS:

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Tom Winton is the new Ernest Hemingway–From the Examiner.com 1/8/2014

A Second Chance in Paradise is similar to Earnest Hemmingway's "Old Man and the Sea".

A Second Chance in Paradise by Tom Winton

Tom Winton must be channeling the spirit of Ernest Hemingway. If you liked “The Old Man and the Sea”, you’ll love “A Second Chance in Paradise”. Like Winton’s previous book, “Four Days With Hemingway’s Ghost” this novel has a lot in common with old Papa’s titles. It’s about a “wounded warrior”. It takes place in the Florida Keys. There’s a lot of fishing, ocean storms, and battles of several kinds that pit man against nature. When the hero, Sonny, lands a 165 pound fish, the description is so vivid that you’ll swear you’ve suffered line cuts on your own hands, and you’ll wonder why your back hurts.

Sonny Raines is a furniture salesman in New York. After telling his boss off, and quitting his job, he comes home to find out his wife, Wendy, is having an affair. He packs his bags into his old van and heads for Florida to start a new life. He settles into a small town just outside Key West where he meets good common people who also have battle scars like his own. He finds a new job, makes a new life, and falls in love again. But while he is at it, he gets pulled into a dispute about a real estate developer, protected mango trees, and a threat to the new life he’s learned to love.

If you’re a fan of Hemingway’s scarred heroes, and you want to read a six-star future best seller, here you go. If you are a budding author who wants to study the work of a master, well, this is how it’s done, son.

Agents and editors will blog and write articles about the “rules” of writing, and point to techniques that no author should even think of sending in. It is a rare and talented writer who can get away with breaking those rules. One of those rules is that a writer should never say “little did he know”. Another rule is that background information should be delivered in small doses. Too much background at one time is known as an “information dump.” As a rule, background should not exceed more than a page at a time.

In this story, Winton successfully uses the “I didn’t know this at the time, but…” ploy, and follows it with pages of background that cover Julie’s engagement to her former fiancée, a car accident, and a resulting handicap. It’s done so smoothly that the reader doesn’t even notice the rules are being broken. After reading that chapter, I had to stop and consider the feat this author pulled off. I read the chapter again, just to admire the beauty and skill of the way it was written.

The love scene is also excellently portrayed. While written from a man’s point of view, using tasteful language and descriptions, the scene comes off the way a woman wants it. It’s not just climactic, but tender and loving at the same time, giving, not taking, passionate, yet tender. Wendy was a complete fool to ever let Sonny go.

The action scenes are also tastefully described, yet make you gouge the edges of your Kindle and squirm in your seat. These scenes prove that, with skill, a writer doesn’t need to resort to guts to make a book gut wrenching.

The only thing that could possibly improve the story would be if Sonny realized that being sterile is a sort of handicap, too. That would have motivated the ending better, but even without that insight, the ending will make you say “aaaaaaaah” and you’ll be tempted to read it again and again.

 

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A SECOND CHANCE IN PARADISE

When darkness falls the Florida Keys come alive with romance and high-powered suspense.  Best Seller, A SECOND CHANCE IN PARADISE, will take you to that land of swaying palms and warm, gentle breezes.

Long Island salesman Sonny Raines has had it. He’s sick and tired of living in a world where wrong always wins over right. Then, on his thirty-ninth birthday, when he loses his job and comes home to the most devastating shock of his life, that’s it. He’s dropping out.

With nothing left to lose, and little in his pocket, Sonny chucks it all and drives his aging van fifteen-hundred miles to the lower reaches of the Florida Keys. All he wants is to get over his recent losses and simplify his hectic life, and that’s exactly what he thinks he’s doing when he settles on a paradisiacal speck of an island known as Wrecker’s Key. While surrounded by the warm aquamarine waters of two tropical oceans, he not only falls in love with the key but also establishes a close bond with the free-spirited locals who call it home.

But all isn’t blue skies, swaying palms, and coconut oil on Wrecker’s Key. There’s trouble wafting in the warm breezes that caress the island. Although Sonny certainly isn’t looking for romance, he finds himself falling for his next door neighbor. Ex-model Julie Albright just may be the kindest, most beautiful woman to ever grace his eyes, but there’s a snag. She has a small physical flaw that, no matter how hard he tries, Sonny can’t overlook. And his feelings are no secret to Julie. She can read them, and they weigh as heavy on her heart as they do on his. Then things get even worse. One night, under the cover of darkness, danger drifts up the deep, silent currents from the lower keys—serious danger—life and death danger. And Sonny Raines finds himself right in the middle of it.

(Click on above book picture to purchase.)

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An Interview with Lucy Pireel

Official Release Day – A Second Chance in Paradise by Tom Winton

I’m honoured to be the blog that Tom Winton’s has chosen to showcase his new release. So I won’t waste any time but get right to the point and present

Second Chance Ebook
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A Second Chance in Paradise

Long Island salesman Sonny Raines has had it. He’s sick and tired of living in a world where wrong always wins over right. Then, on his thirty-ninth birthday, when he loses his job and comes home to the most devastating shock of his life, that’s it. He’s dropping out.

With nothing left to lose, and little in his pocket, Sonny chucks it all and drives his aging van fifteen-hundred miles to the lower reaches of the Florida Keys. All he wants is to get over his recent losses and simplify his hectic life, and that’s exactly what he thinks he’s doing when he settles on a paradisiacal speck of an island known as Wrecker’s Key. While surrounded by the warm aquamarine waters of two tropical oceans, he not only falls in love with the key but also establishes a close bond with the free-spirited locals who call it home.

But all isn’t blue skies, swaying palms, and coconut oil on Wrecker’s Key. There’s trouble wafting in the warm breezes that caress the island. Although Sonny certainly isn’t looking for romance, he finds himself falling for his next door neighbor. Ex-model Julie Albright just may be the kindest, most beautiful woman to ever grace his eyes, but there’s a snag. She has a small physical flaw that, no matter how hard he tries, Sonny can’t overlook. And his feelings are no secret to Julie. She can read them, and they weigh as heavy on her heart as they do on his. Then things get even worse. One night, under the cover of darkness, danger drifts up the deep, silent currents from the lower keys—serious danger—life and death danger. And Sonny Raines finds himself right in the middle of it.

And if that wasn’t enough, I have an excerpt for you to make you want even more! Believe me after reading the following bit, you will click one of the links below and get your copy of the book. :-)

“As soon as I stepped outside I broke into a trot. Passing all the rest of the trailers first then heading up the same narrow road I followed Julie home on the night before, all I could do was think about how she must be reacting right then. I envisioned her staying in her bed alone, thinking. I could see quiet tears making their way down her cheeks. We may have only known each other for twenty-four hours but the mutual attraction we felt – both mental and physical, was undeniable. And it was deep. I knew for sure she really liked me, but there was a lot I didn’t know about Julie Alright.
I had no idea she hadn’t had a semblance of interest in any man since her modeling days ended sixteen years earlier in New York City. Nor did I know that back then she was engaged to Mark Richardson, a very promising young attorney. Mark was about to become the youngest partner ever at Dalrymple, Stockton and Stockton, one of New York’s most prestigious law firms. Julie and Mark had been dating for two years, and they had a big wedding planned for that fall. The ceremony was to be held in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, followed by a reception at the Waldorf Astoria. Money was no problem for Mark’s parents and they insisted on buying the grandest wedding available. His father, J. Walter Richardson of Scarsdale and Palm Beach, just happened to be the sole heir of the “American Grains” breakfast cereal fortune.
At that time Julie was one of the big up-and-comers in the modeling world. As a matter of fact, she was just about to cross the threshold to cover-girl fame. But it never happened. One June morning, when she was on her way to the biggest shoot of her career, her sunny future eclipsed totally, and in an instant.
Sitting in the back seat of a Checker cab, she was headed uptown to the world-renowned Clairidge Studios where she was to pose for an upcoming cover of Vogue Magazine. The sun was beginning to shine, but Madison Avenue was still slick from a late morning rain. Julie, who was sitting behind the driver, cranked down the window and held her left hand out in the breeze, drying her freshly applied nail polish. Then, just as the cab was crossing the intersection at 44th street, another cab, heading east, didn’t bother to stop for the red light. The driver of the at fault cab, one Eloi Hernandez, was so toasted on coke he didn’t even notice the light had turned red. Thoughts of stopping never entered his hopped-up mind until after he’d sped into the intersection – and slammed broadside into Julie’s cab. The impact to the driver’s door was so forceful that her driver’s neck snapped so far sideways it literally cracked. The two vehicles then skidded, smacking sideways into each other, crushing four of Julie’s fingers in the process.The driver of Julie’s cab, a Greek immigrant from Astoria Queens, whose name she never learned, was dead by the time the ambulances reached the scene. Julie was rushed to Mt. Sinai Hospital where a team of three plastic surgeons performed micro-surgery in an attempt to re-attach her fingers. Her middle and index fingers were salvaged and the nerves regenerated in due time, but her pinky and ring finger were so badly mashed there was no possible way of saving them. Eloi Hernandez did a short stint on Riker’s Island; the Greek was buried out in Queens by his family; and Julie’s potential international fame never materialized. On top of all that, when Mark Richardson found out Julie had lost two fingers, he decided that just maybe he wasn’t ready for marriage after all. After knotting the loose ends of her life together the best Julie could, she returned to Ft. Lauderdale with lost dreams and a broken heart.”
Buy your copy from AMAZON
Read more from this author on Wattpad
006Hello Tom, and thank you for choosing me to host this release day. To give the few who don’t know you a peek of the man behind the author I have a few questions for you.
Sweet or savoury? Hmmm…that would depend on what kind of mood my stomach was in.
Coffee or tea? Coffee for sure! Usually I do decaf, but on occasion I take a walk on the wild side and go for the high-octane stuff.
Chocolate or cookies? That’s a no-brainer. I’d rather eat dark chocolate than breath.
Favourite dish? I’ve got quite a few, but a seafood platter with piping hot shrimp, scallops, fish, and all that kind of good stuff is right near the top of both my favourite and favorite list. Sorry, Lucy, couldn’t pass up the opportunity to throw a bit of humor in there.
No worries, it made me chuckle too, but that dish … Oh, boy, I could do with one of those too.
seafood
Mountains or sea? I’ve spent many thousands of hours fishing in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico—days and nights, but now I’ll take the mountains in a heartbeat. Recently I lived in Maine’s North Woods for five years, and I yearn to move back up there. I absolutely loved living in the woods alone with just my wife, dog, and all the critters.
Staying or moving? I think my answer to the preceding question also answers this one perfectly.
Organised or go with the flow? Unfortunately, I’d have to say organized, for the time being. I hate routine and regimentation, but in this busy, busy writing life there are a lot of things that we must get done. If you can’t organize your time you’re going to leave a lot of strings untied, and that can really hurt an author’s progress.
Just don’t forget to let loose every now and then.

 

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Interview on The eReader Cafe

7.21.2013

 

Author Interview with Tom Winton


Author Interview with Tom Winton

Good Sunday to you! Today we have the fortune of sitting down with Multi-genre author, Tom Winton. Let’s kick-off this exciting interview with The eReader Cafe’s signature first question: 

Coffee or Tea?

I’ll take coffee, please, just a bit of cream. I’ve got to have it when I write or do anything else in the mornings. Usually I go with decaf but every now and then I take a walk on the wild side and go with the high-test.

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from and when did you start writing?

I was born in Manhattan and for the most part grew up in Queens, New York. I didn’t start writing until I was forty-five. I tried to begin earlier, but for two full years all I could do was stare at the first blank page of a Spiral notebook. When I finally got going (on a part-time basis), it took me two-and-a half years to complete my first novel, Beyond Nostalgia.

You’ve written several highly rated novels in multiple genres, and most recently a contemporary novelette: Within a Man’s Heart. Tell us about your books and what inspires you to write.

I was first inspired to write after I’d been reading seriously for about ten years. At the time I always had about a half-dozen books at the ready, alongside my recliner. But there was a problem. I couldn’t finish reading many of them. While some folks feel they have to finish every book they start, I’m not that way. I’ve got a short attention span, and if a book doesn’t hold me from the get go, I’ll quickly move on to another.

That’s what inspired me to put my pen to paper. I believed I could write fluff-less stories. My goal was to write entire books without a single paragraph that would allow readers to yawn. And that’s what I still try to do. For example, descriptions of people and places are often very humdrum and can slow down a story’s flow. So, to me, descriptions are the real challenges. Those are the parts of a story I really grapple with. Honestly, there have been times when I’ve spent three or four hours working on a single paragraph.

As for my books, I’ve been very fortunate with them. All, except my brand new novella, have been multi-list Amazon Bestsellers—several times each. And seventy percent of their combined reviews are five stars

Beyond Nostalgia is the poignant story of a man who has the misfortune of finding love too early in life, squandering it, and then mourning its loss for twenty-four years.

The Last American Martyr is about an unemployed doorman who writes a book about the unfair spread of wealth in America. Two years later, after the book becomes an international bestseller, the unlikely candidate is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. But all is not roses. Once he returns home from Stockholm with the prize, he soon learns that a powerful, elitist clique has it in for him. With no other choice, he and his wife flee their longtime home and drive all over America in an RV, hoping to find peace and anonymity.

In my third novel, Four days with Hemingway’s Ghost, Hemingway aficionado Jack Phelan slips into a four-day coma after an accident and finds himself in Key West—spending time with Ernest Hemingway himself—learning more about his hero than he ever could have imagined

And lastly, my new novella Within a Man’s Heart is the story of a New York Sales executive who, four years after the death of his young wife, moves to a small rural New Hampshire town with hopes of finding peace and solace. But it doesn’t happen so quickly. He’s not there fifteen minutes before he finds out he’s in for a lot more than he’d bargained for.

Describe your writing process. When and where do you write?

I work at a small desk in a corner of my living room and like to write in the early mornings, before any clutter has chance to accumulate in my mind.

What do you do in your spare time when you are not your writing?

I’m up every morning before the sun and almost always go for a drive at dawn. After that I spend most of my time writing, marketing my books, participating in my social network, and posting on my Facebook group “Tom Winton Authors Helping Authors.” To clear my mind I hit a local gym three days a week and often take long walks.

Do you have any favorite books or authors?

That’s a tough call but right off the top of my head I have to say The Prince of TidesTravels with Charley, and Stephen King’s On Writing. I’ve read each of them more than once.

What are you reading now?

Nothing at the moment, but I am getting ready to give King’s On Writing another whirl. I think it’s a must read for all authors. Every other book I’ve ever read about the writing process has been about as enjoyable as reading a big-city phone directory. Not this memoir/how to. King’s book is a keeper.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Ernest Hemingway used to tell aspiring writers “Write just one sentence; the truest sentence you know.” Great advice! You get that one sentence right, and you’ll have no problem going on from there. Now, if a new writer is at the point where she or he has finished their first book, I strongly recommend joining an online writer’s community. Random House’s YouWriteOn is a very good one, as is the Harper Collins Authonomy site.

Are you planning on writing another book in the near future?

Yes, of course. I’ve already started one. I’m about five thousand words into a memoir about the hair-raising experiences I’ve had while dealing with my mentally ill mother for decades.

Pay a visit to Tom’s Amazon Author Page: Tom Winton

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Check out Tom Winton’s books on Amazon USA

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Tom’s Guest Blog On “Free Kindle Books and Tips”

Guest Blog Post: Meet Author Tom Winton

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…
twinton
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.
Thank you, Tom!  You can check out Tom’s Amazon Author Page if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/tomwinton into your web browser.
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Interview on Digital Book Today

Author Interview #156: Beyond Nostalgia by Tom Winton

February 4, 2013

By

Beyond NostalgiaOur interview today is with Tom Winton author of several books including Beyond Nostalgia (4.3 stars, 76 reviews). Before we get to the interview a brief book description: Dean Cassidy looks back on a life filled with hardship and remembers Theresa Wayman, the bright spark that lit up his world when he was eighteen. As an adult, many years later, Cassidy continues his struggle to be successful in life, but can’t move past his betrayal and loss of Theresa. Beyond Nostalgia is a poignant story about growing up, making choices, betrayal, forgiveness and moving on. Cassidy and Theresa find inspiration, joy and acceptance together in their world of dysfunctional families and economic hardships. But one night Cassidy, in a drunken stupor, makes a terrible choice that costs him his relationship with Theresa. Twenty-five years later, with the encouragement of his devoted wife, Cassidy focuses his sadness and angst into writing a book – a book that will eventually lead him to another crossroad in his life and redemption from his suffering.

Interview with Tom Winton

You wrote Beyond Nostalgia with a pen dipped in your soul, Tom. How much of you and who you are is invested in the book?

Although Beyond Nostalgia is a work of fiction, many of Dean’s experiences and beliefs are my own. Some of the scenes are embellished; some are exactly as they happened; a few I plucked from the rampant thoughts and ideas that sometimes whiz in and out of my mind.

How long ago did you write it?

I finished it almost twelve years ago. It took two-and-a-half years to write, and I did nine edits—that’s right—nine edits. But those days are over. Beyond Nostalgia was my debut novel, and being a new writer at the time, I was very uncertain about my work. When I reworked my next two manuscripts, I only did two or three drafts for each one.

Why did you give up on it initially?

I didn’t have a MFA or any literary training. I didn’t even know what a past participle was, but in my gut, I really thought I had something very special. The only other person who read it was my wife, Blanche, and she loved it. But we all know how overly generous our loved ones can be when it comes to critiquing our work. Nevertheless, Beyond Nostalgia did garner the interest of a few agents. Each requested a few chapters, said nice things about them, but ultimately told me to hit the bricks. At that point I figured I was wrong—BN wasn’t as good as I’d thought it was.

What made you haul it back out of the closet?

For the benefit of anybody who hasn’t read about it—when I gave up on BN, I disgustedly threw the manuscript into a closet, and there it stayed for eleven years. Alongside it, on that closet floor, I also left a piece of my soul. I wrote virtually nothing from then on. And I wasn’t the most pleasant person to be around. I sorely missed the elation one feels after a productive writing session—what I call “a writer’s high.”

Anyway, one morning in December of 2009 I was at my local library. I had already chosen the books I wanted to check out but still had some time to kill. I sat down and looked through a copy of Writer’s Digest.  As I leafed through the pages of the magazine, I stumbled across an interesting article about online sites for aspiring writers. Two days later I uploaded my old manuscript onto one of them.

I am also a child of the 60s. The Vietnam conflict . . . the music, the angst and the awakening revolution . . . this is a powerful combination, did you choose the time frame because it fitted your personal comfort/discomfort zone?

The beginning of Beyond Nostalgia takes place in the late 60’s because many of the story’s “unimagined events” took place back then. It was a natural starting point— done deal from the outset. Plus, a certain richness has been added to the story (I hope) by its many references to the styles, mindsets, music, and world-events of those wondrous years.

How much of you is written into Dean?

Quite a bit. After all, most fiction writers ladle their stories from an entire stew of events—happenings they lived, heard about, or conjured up in their minds. What other ingredients do we have to work with? Granted, if one chooses to write sci-fi, they will obviously go heavier on the conjuring ingredient, but they’ll still add dashes of their experiences, thoughts, and stories they’ve heard.

The descriptions of life are so painfully accurate, did you shed tears over this book?

Yes, while writing each draft there were times when a real tear or two splashed on my keyboard. There were also times when I laughed, put on a nostalgic smile, even got turned on a little. One time I actually had a panic attack and had to dash out the front door—I’m still trying to figure out what brought that on.

Theresa is so very real, is she based on an actual person?

Yes and no. Theresa is based on a few young ladies I knew back in the day. A couple of them show up in her character far more often than others.

What happened when you first posted Beyond Nostalgia on Authonomy?

That was when all my dusty hopes came back to life . . . excuse me . . . a surge of emotion just shot through my body like an adrenaline rush as I typed the beginning of this sentence. My eyes watered a little and a rash of goose bumps rose on my arms. Some people look at me and think I can be imposing, but deep inside I’m highly emotional. Maybe that’s why I write.

Anyway, back to your question. I posted Beyond Nostalgia on Authonomy on December 8th of 2009. Actually, my wife did it for me. I was very close to computer illiterate at the time but have gotten considerably better with this contraption.

A day or two after we posted it, I received my first review. I distinctly remember the man saying, ‘This is far better than most of what I’ve read on this site . . . .” Immediately, I checked out his bio-page and found out he’d been active on the site for several years. I couldn’t believe it. The manuscript had lain in that closet for eleven years, and here was a complete stranger reaffirming my lost beliefs. I was euphoric.

In its first full month on Authonomy, BN was rated (in the monthly rankings) third in Romance, 4th in Literary Fiction, and I think 9th overall—out of 6,000 books. You can just imagine how I felt. A short time later I uploaded the opening chapters onto Random House’s YouWriteOn website for writers. Six weeks after that it finished in the top five and was in contention for the site’s “2011 Book of the Year.”

Were you surprised by the reaction?

I had thought that the book was good, despite its grammatical and punctuation errors. But, once again, nobody but my wife had really read it. Yes, I was surprised that it was so well received. The book was reviewed on Authonomy more than four-hundred times, and most of them were very, very encouraging. More than a few reviewers compared my book to those of some very famous authors (living and dead), but I wouldn’t name them here for fear of embarrassing myself.

I’ve read the book. It hits at gut-level . . . no punches pulled in the pain stakes, yet it is tender and at times almost unbearably moving, how did you feel as you wrote it?

Once again, I went through the whole gamut of emotions I mentioned earlier. I hoped the writing would have the same impact on readers as it did on me. I didn’t know if that was possible until some of the ladies told me that I’d made their mascara run, and a few men admitted they had tears in their eyes. What finer compliment could any writer (published or unpublished) ask for?

Did shelving the book all that time affect you and the way you felt about writing?

Definitely—in a very negative way. Like I said, I wasn’t fun to be around. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a total Frankenstein. My biggest issue was living with myself. I’ve always been an extremely merciless self-critic. Around people I was still OK. It was my own mind that suffered the brunt of the unhappiness; my mind and my wife, Blanche. She lived with me day after day—she put up with all my persistent depressed behavior. She and she alone, is who I modeled Dean’s wife, Maddy Frances after in Beyond Nostalgia. She, like Maddy Frances, deserves to be canonized a living saint.

As far as the writing went during those years, it was all but nonexistent. I think I managed three or four short stories. That was it. During all that unproductive time, I deeply missed that wonderful high you get after a good, thousand-word morning.

What now . . . where do you intend taking “Beyond Nostalgia”?

You know, sometimes I think my skin isn’t thick enough for this writing racket. Talk about emotional peaks and valleys, I’ve had them. A few months back, when I was winding down on Authonomy, I fired out a ton of queries. In one month I had ten agents ask to see all or part of BN—FOUR IN ONE DAY! Can you imagine that? My God, I was riding high. That afternoon while sitting out on the porch with Blanche, I picked out an age-enhanced Matt Damon to play the part of Dean in my sure-to-come blockbuster movie. I wanted Scorcese or Stone to be my director and had half the soundtrack figured out. But an hour after dinner the same old doubts started circulating my gray matter, again. Deep inside there, seven agents or no seven agents, I still saw the same half-empty glass. As it turned out, I was correct. None of them took BN. Two did say they were sure I’d find the right agent—“soon,” but that wasn’t good enough. Though I still felt that with just a bit of good editing by an agent or publisher the book could fly, I’d pretty much given up.

Did the positive feedback you received for “Beyond Nostalgia” encourage you to pick up your writers pen and start something new?

Yes, without a doubt. I’ve since written two more novels. Entitled, The Last American Martyr and Four Days with Hemingway’s Ghost, they, too, have been multi-category, Amazon Bestsellers—several times each.

What next for Tom Winton?

I’m now finished with the final draft of a new romance novella. The title is Within a Man’s Heart, and I hope to have it “out there” by the time you post this interview.  After that, the plan is to go to work on a family memoir. I’ve got some stories that folks will not believe. All I’ll have to do is get them down just right; then tie them all together.

Thank you very much, Anthony, for interviewing me here on Digital Book Today. I truly appreciate the opportunity to connect with you and your readers.

Social media and buy links:

Connect with Tom Winton: Tom’s WebsiteFacebook / Twitter

Beyond Nostalgia: Amazon /   Amazon UK

The Last American Martyr: Amazon /   Amazon UK

Four Days with Hemingway’s Ghost: Amazon /   Amazon UK

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Guest Post on Facebook for Kathleen Valentine

Friday, February 01, 2013

Guest Post from Tom Winton: I Didn’t Always Want To Be a Writer

Tom Winton is the author of three novels including Four Days with Hemingway’s Ghost which I very much enjoyed. This is his post on his path as a writer. Enjoy!

I Didn’t Always Want To Be a Writer

In my day to day contacts with writers all over the world, I can’t tell you how many times I heard folks say things like, “I’ve been writing stories since I was six years old.” or “I wrote my first novel when I was just seventeen.” or “I wanted to be an author ever since I read Flaubert’s Madame Bovaryin high school.” While I wish that Ihad started stringing words together when I was six, sixteen, twenty-six or even thirty-six, I can’t honestly say that I did. I was a late bloomer.

By the time I was in my mid forties I had been reading for quite some time, and there were fleeting moments when I entertainedthoughts of writing something. But I always nixed the idea, thinking I was too busy livinglifeto bother to sit down and write about it.
Nevertheless, I thought it would be something else to be able to live like Ernest Hemingway—write in the mornings, fish my afternoons away, and party every night with a bunch of famous and infamous friends. Yes, Iwantedto be a writer but I didn’t want to pay the piper. I wasn’t ready to stand for hours and hand write stories on lined yellow pads like ole Hem did. I wasn’t ready to sit on my tail and do it either. But I sure dreamed about getting the fame and respect that accomplished authors so often do. Then one day I woke up.
After ten or so years of never having less than six books lying in wait, alongside my recliner, I finally thought, Oh hell, I can do this writing thing! I can do it better than most of these guys and girls I’ve read. Shoot, three quarters of the books I start I never finish. I know I can do better. How hard can it be to describe a green hill in Africa, or a southern plantation gone kaput in Georgia? Ha…lemme go get a pad. I’ll whip something up right now.
Oh boy…was I wrong!
I went and got a spiral notebook, plopped right back in my easy chair, and thought I was about to begin my great American novel. What did I accomplish that first sitting?–nada–as in not a damn thing. I had no idea whereto begin. My second try was just as fruitless. So were the next, and the next, and every other attempt I made for two solid years. If I wasn’t out fishing, working, running around somewhere, or reading, I’d be in that soft mauve chair agonizing over what a flunky I was with a pen.
I was living on Florida’s Gulf Coast at that time but one day, after moving across the state to the east coast, I found myself on a quiet beach with that empty notebook again. I thought that maybe, if I took a folding chair with me and sat on the beach, I might finally get something down on paper. And I did. I don’t remember how much I wrote that day, but I did begin my first novel. Why was I finallyable to come up with something halfway decent? Did my muse float in on a wave along with all the brown seaweed on that beach? Had my inspiration surfaced ten miles out in the Gulfstream and blown in on the easterly wind? I don’t think so.
I think what happened is that I finally had a worthwhile story worked out in my mind. I had a beginning—a middle—and an end. That’s all I’d needed all along. Well, almost all I needed. The rough plot I had in my head certainly gave me confidence but so did something else. I did exactly what Ernest Hemingway, time and time again, told aspiring writers. He used to say, “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.” And I did.
While beginning a new novel still isn’t easy for me (none of the writing process is), there aren’t many things in this mad, maddening world I’d rather do. I can’t think of anything that’s as rewarding as a productive morning at the keyboard. And I’m awfully glad that I learned what writing one true sentence can lead to.
In the last two years I’ve had three novels published. I’ve had two different publishers but parted ways with both of them. Now all my books are self-pubbed and will continue to be–until the “big six”publishers have a bidding war over them. Ha! Talk about a classic example of a writer’s imagination running wild!
All kidding aside, I must say that my novels have had some small successes.
My first two books, Beyond Nostalgiaand The Last American Martyr (before publication) where both finalists for Random House’s YouWriteOn“Book of the Year.” Since publication, both books have been Amazon (multi-category) Bestsellers–four times each. My third book,Four Days with Hemingway’s Ghost, came out last summer. It too has been a bestseller, twice. Two weeks ago my most recent work came out on Amazon—a novella entitled Within a Man’s Heart, I have high hopes for it as well.
But despite all that, the biggest rewards I’ve gotten for my efforts have been the reviews and emails I’ve received from readers. Many of them have been nothing short of stunning. And they, more than anything, are what keep my literary hopes alive.
Links to Tom’s Books

1 comment:

Gerry McCulloughsaid…

Tom is one of the great American writers, in my view. If you haven’t read his books yet, start now!
Thanks for sharing, Tom.

10:48 AM, February 01, 2013

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Amazon Select—I Love You, I Love You Not

During my many days communicating with fellow writers around the world, I’ve heard all kinds of opinions about the pros and cons of signing up with Amazon Select. I don’t want to go into how, over the past year, Amazon has made it tougher and tougher for us indie stars to shine. That’s fodder for another post. I just want to talk about the Select that’s in place today and whether or not it can help us sell ebooks.

Far and away the biggest advantage of joining is that every ninety days Select writers get five free promotional days. Amazon suggests we use two at a time; and for the most part, I agree with them. I, personally, have had a few really good one-day promos that landed my books on the free top 100 list in the U.S. One time I had two on there.

Nevertheless, I’ve run far more two-day promos and that’s what I recommend. I’ve found that late in the second day my rankings almost always begin to fall. There might be
exceptions, but just as there are to every rule, they’re few and far between.

I’ve heard it before and I can hear a few of your thoughts now—“I’m not giving my babies away! I worked far too hard on my books, and they’re too darn good to give away.” Well, the few people I’ve heard say that weren’t selling a whole lot of books.

This writing racket is an extremely difficult one to break into. If you haven’t roped one of the big-six publishers or another that has deep pockets, the odds against you are immense. And while we’re talking about immense, keep in mind that Amazon’s reading audience is huge as well. An author can have dozens of free promos for a single book—give away five, ten, twenty-thousand or more free Kindles each time, and he or she still won’t scratch Ammy’s reading surface.

It’s a well know fact that a very, very small percentage of free downloaders will ever actually read your book. I’ve heard it guesstimated at one to two percent.  Just as an example, let’s say you ran a freebie promo, did well, and had 20,000 books snatched up. Even if as many as five percent eventually read your book, that’s only one thousand ebooks. Amazon has millions of customers!

And keep in mind, even if only a hundred people read and liked your book, there’s a good chance they will be checking your Author page or searching your name on Amazon to see what else you’ve written. I think this a benefit that many writers overlook–most readers put their new downloads on a que. They don’t actually get around to reading them for quite some time. You’re sowing seeds for sales with your free promos. You’re cultivating a crop of potential buyers that will keep popping up–for quite some time.

Now…think about what could happen if you ran ten reasonably successful promos over the course of a year. Each time you’re planting more seeds! And that’s not to mention the
immediate satisfaction you can reap when two, three or more days of very good sales follow a successful free promo.

Yes, like I said here earlier, Amazon isn’t treating us nearly as good as they did last winter. But they are still the biggest bookseller in the world, and that world, rough as it is, is there for us to conquer.

If there is a better way of promoting our books (without spending a small fortune) rather than “giving them away” on Amazon Select, I’d sure like to know what it is.

Write tight!

Tom Winton

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