A Recent Interview with Tom Winton

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bio:  Tom Winton was born and raised in New York City. During his working career he has done everything from working on a railroad gang in the Colorado Rockies to driving a taxicab in Manhattan. Now retired, he has also been a mailman, a salesman, an entrepreneur and more. He lives in Hobe Sound, Florida, with his wife
Blanche and their ill-tempered but loveable Jack Russell terrier, Ginger. They spend part of their time in Carmel, Maine.
Product Description:  It doesn’t happen often, but every now and then one
small soul rises from the crowded depths of obscurity and causes the earth to
wobble on its axis. This last happened in 2008 when an unemployed doorman, in a
secondhand Goodwill suit, stepped onto the worldwide stage in Stockholm and accepted The Nobel
Prize for Literature.
In this me-me twenty-first century, Thomas Soles may very well be the last American martyr. This self-described “simple man” writes a simple book that resuscitates the all-but-dead international labor
movement. The response to his thoughts and perceptions are astounding. All around the globe, from pole to pole, from America to Zimbabwe, the marching footsteps of workers, young and old, tremor the earth. But not everyone is pleased. There’s a tight-knit, elitist clique that is absolutely livid over the thoughts and ideals that fill the pages of his book. And the moment Tom and his wife, Elaina, return home from Sweden, they realize just how angry this profit-hungry mob really is.
Q—What will readers like about your book?
Firstly, it’s a very timely book!  With struggling people and economies all over the world, most readers will in one way or another easily relate to the subject matter.  Also, The Last American Martyr is a suspenseful novel sandwiched between two heartrending romances.  Already it seems to be garnering a very wide reading audience.
Q—Why did you go indie?
After ten agents asked for all or part of my debut novel, Beyond Nostalgia, last July (yes TEN
agents–four in one day) I allowed myself some hope.  But I did not have one taker.  Several said they were “sure” I’d find the right agent “soon”, but it didn’t happen.  I was then approached by a small indie publisher, and Beyond Nostalgia came out this past February.  By the way, this book that ten agents nixed…it has been on
four Amazon Bestseller lists at one time and three “Top Rated” charts.
Q—Who are your favorite authors in your genre?
Odd as this is going to sound, I don’t read a whole lot of suspense.  Though, like I said, The Last American Martyr is suspense in the middle of two romances, it somehow evolved into that.  I had a rough idea of what the story was going to be, but I let the MC, Thomas Soles, take me wherever he wanted.  My favorite authors are Pat Conroy, Steinbeck, and Jim Harrison, just to name a few.
The Last American Martyr link:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Last-American

The Occupied Wall Street–Reflections of “The Last American Martyr”

The Last American Martyr is an Amazon “Hot New Release” novel that speaks out about the unjust treatment of workers worldwide.

Description of The Last American Martyr:

It doesn’t happen often, but every now and then one small soul rises from the
crowded depths of obscurity and causes the earth to wobble on its axis. This
last happened in 2008 when an unemployed doorman, in a secondhand Goodwill suit,
stepped onto the worldwide stage in Stockholm and accepted The Nobel Prize for
Literature.

In this me-me twenty-first century, Thomas Soles may very
well be the last American martyr. This self-described “simple man” writes a
simple book that resuscitates the all-but-dead international labor movement. The
response to his thoughts and perceptions are astounding. All around the globe,
from pole to pole, from America to Zimbabwe, the marching footsteps of workers,
young and old, tremor the earth. But not everyone is pleased. There’s a
tight-knit, elitist clique that is absolutely livid over the thoughts and ideals
that fill the pages of his book. And the moment Tom and his wife, Elaina, return
home from Sweden, they realize just how angry this profit-hungry mob really is.

Mortified by the horrid scene that awaits them inside their New York
tenement, the Soles’ have no choice but to flee their longtime home. Hoping to
find anonymity, they bounce all over America in an RV. But they don’t find
peace. Instead they become moving targets. Everywhere they go they’re followed
by a succession of life-threatening events.  http://www.amazon.com/The-Last-American-Martyr-ebook/dp/B005GFM764/ref=pd_sim_kinc1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2

 

The Last American Martyr

The Last American Martyr

Newly Released

Just released last month, Tom’s new novel, The Last American Martyr, has already been on two of  Amazon’s “Hot New Releases” lists.   It is also a finalist for the “2012 Book of the Year Award” on Random House’s Youwriteon website.
Full of suspense, mystery, drama, and romance, it is available for $.99 Kindle and $9.99 paperback.

Just One of Beyond Nostalgia’s Twenty-Five 5-star Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars A memorable story that you’ll want to read again and again., May 6, 2011
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: Beyond Nostalgia (Paperback)

“I once believed soft, warm, beautiful things could never flourish in an environment of hard concrete and cold, dark bricks. In a tough paycheck-to-paycheck, hard-luck place with a name like Flushing, life’s finer things appeared only in dreams.”

So begins Tom Winton’s fine novel about a young high school student named Dean Cassidy, whose negative philosophy and grinding, dysfunctional family life appears both intransigent and rapidly headed downhill. I thought: “Can a story this gloomy be anything other than a really depressing read?” Yes it can, especially in Tom Winton’s capable hands. It’s a page-turner that I couldn’t put down. It’s one of the best tales I’ve read.

Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty in Dean Cassidy’s young life that could easily sink his future – a clinically depressed mother, a crappy apartment in an old building, a frustrated father, alcohol, drugs – you name it … except that this kid just refuses to give up.

Then along comes Theresa, the dream of any hormonally charged, young man. She sees and homes in like a laser on his inner strength. How can these two lovers possibly make it with all the odds they face? Will they make it? If they do, what will their life be like? If they don’t, then what?

Do they make it and live happily together forever? You’ll have to read the book to find out. Does Dean achieve his great dream of being a writer? Does he have the stamina and the guts to stay at it, come what may? Again, you’ll have to read the book to find out. But here’s a clue: Everyone reviewing the book on Amazon.com gives it a 5-star thumbs up. That’s 19 people as of a moment ago, not including me. With my vote, that’s 20. Not surprising at all. I can’t wait to read his next novel.

Click on “Beyond Nostalgia Reviews” to see some of the others.

Beyond Nostalgia–two featured posts on Markwilliamsinternational.com

April 2, 2011

More inspiration for aspiring writers: Mark Edwards’ story.

By Mark Williams

It seems like only a week ago (okay, it was exactly a week ago) we carried the story of Tom Winton, wannabe writer and all-round nice guy who, after more than decade of set-back and heart-ache, finally found both a paper publisher and a niche on Kindle for his novel  Beyond Nostalgia.

It is a bizarre element of blogging that, while there’s a comments section below each blog, most comments about what is written will be found elsewhere, in emails to me, on other blogs, on facebook, tweeted or in a myriad other ways.

Tom’s raw emotion and passion in describing his struggle got a huge response (a tiny fraction reflected here in the comments section), and hopefully many went on to buy his book.

If you haven’t yet done so, then you are missing out on something special. A master-class of its genre that shows literary fiction can deal with everyday themes like love and teenage angst, mentally-disturbed parents and lousy fathers, social and political unrest and even war, and make you laugh and cry, care and despair, and want to turn the pages like it’s the number-one commercial best-seller, not a period romance written by (gasp!) a man.

Which is all very unfair on my next guest, Mark Edwards.

How on Earth does he follow that?

March 26, 2011

Fellowship Of Kindle Writers: Tom Winton

By Mark Williams

Time was, only women read romance novels, and only women wrote them.

Of course, that’s not strictly true.

Barbara Cartland has a lot to answer for!

In fact many (most?) of the geat novels of English literature have been romances, and not just the obvious ones like Pride & Prejudice or Jane Eyre.

Easy to forget that so-called “horror” classics like Dracula and Frankenstein are first and foremost romance novels.

Love, of course, is one of the eternal themes of  literature.

Love is what separates man from beast.

That, and the ability to write.

No wonder so many novelists choose it as a central theme.

Enter: Tom Winton and Beyond Nostalgia.

“‘Beyond Nostalgia’ is a monumental romance, a ‘Gone with the Wind’ set not against the backdrop of the burning of Atlanta, but against the rumbling disaffection of America itself. “

So said one reviewer on Amazon.com, and plenty of others share those sentiments. Not least, me!

As male romance writers blossom in the brave new world of e-publishing (two in the UK Kindle top ten!) it is writers like Tom who have a geat future ahead of them as word spreads and promotes their work to a wider and appreciative audience.

But Tom Winton offers not just a great novel for us as readers.

He also has an inspiring story for those writers among us struggling against great odds (ie all of us!).

Here, in Tom’s own words, is the story behind the story.

The Struggle of the Aspiring Author

I can’t speak for all authors, but the road to the recent publication of my novel, Beyond Nostalgia, has been fourteen years long and full of potholes, bumps, and more than a few depressions.   But wait… don’t throw away your pens and give your computer the old heave ho quite yet!

It doesn’t have to be that way.

I read somewhere that Robert James Waller wrote his mega-selling novel, The Bridges of Madison County, in three short weeks.

Much of my delay was self-inflicted.  What I am going to say here has nothing to do with blowing my own horn.  It is meant to convey a message — do not give up.

It took me two and a half years to write Beyond Nostalgia, on a part time basis.  While doing the seven drafts I laughed, I cried, and I even got turned on a few times.

I loved the process and I hated it.

When I finished it twelve years ago, I sent out a fair amount of queries.  Two or three agents showed interest – read a few chapters — but there was no cigar.

Disgustedly, I threw the manuscript into a closet, and there it stayed for eleven years.  Alongside it, on that closet floor, I left a piece of my soul.

I wrote virtually nothing from then on and wasn’t the most pleasant person to be around.  No longer experiencing the high I’d always gotten after a good thousand word session, I was not happy.

Then, in December of ’09, I was at my local library one day and, after choosing a few books, I sat down and started reading a copy of Writer’s Digest like I used to years earlier.  I read an article about online writers’ communities and thought,  “heck… maybe I can give this a shot.”  A day or two later I had the missus upload the entire manuscript onto Harper Collins’ authonomy website.  I was absolutely stunned by what happened next.

I’ll never forget the first of over 400 reviews I received.

Other than those few agents who’d taken a peek, the only people who’d ever read Beyond Nostalgia were my wife and I.  I’d always believed I had a good book but had very limited feedback.

When I read the first review I received, chills ran up my arms and the smile that rose on my face was far wider than it had been in many years.  The reviewer, who was very experienced on authonomy, said, “This is far better than most of the books I’ve read on this site”.

And what happened after that blew me away.

Many, many of the reviews I received were more like raves.  Beyond Nostalgia climbed to number 61—out of a field of 6,000 books– in less than three months.

The first two months, in the monthly ratings, it was ranked #3 or 4 in romance and in literary fiction.  It also got to #9 in all genres.  Harper Collins has since changed some rules which make it possible to rise faster, but back then things didn’t happen so quickly.

One morning, after those three months, I burned out and no longer wanted to do so many reads and reviews.  But I had become a much better writer.

I then did an eighth and ninth draft and started sending out queries.  That was the most difficult writing I’d ever done.

How, I asked myself, can I possibly tell these agents what my 87,000 word story was about in just two or three paragraphs?

I literally spent over one hundred hours trying to make the query right, and still wasn’t satisfied when I sent them out. Someone once said some very true words, “You never finish a novel you abandon it”.  And that’s what I did with the query letter.  Finally, I threw up my hands and said, “That’s it, I can’t do this anymore.  And I sent them out.

While waiting for responses a friend recommended I put the manuscript on Random House’s YouWriteOn site.  He said it was very low maintenance, and since he too was an authonomy veteran who had done lots of time in its trenches I thought I’d give it a shot.

After receiving eight reads (the minimum required for a ranking) Beyond Nostalgia was ranked 13th.  The next day it hit number one, where it stayed most of the month.  Only at the very end of the month, when I accidentally deleted the wrong review, did I finish in fifth.  But the top five are considered Best Sellers, and my novel is now in contention for Random House’s YouWriteOn “2011 Book of the Year”.

I was riding high after being one of YouWriteOn’s Best Sellers last July.  Then responses from those queries I’d mailed out started trickling in.

I suppose I shouldn’t say “trickling in”, because in one month I had ten agents request to see part or all of Beyond Nostalgia–four of them in one day.

Son of a gun, I had Brad Pitt picked out to play my mc in the sure to come movie.  Martin Scorcese was to be my director.  Even the sound track played in my head.  Then, over the next couple of months, everything went poof!  I didn’t have one agent offer to represent my book.  Three said they were sure I’d find an agent “soon”.  But it didn’t pan out.  I was almost ready to throw Beyond Nostalgia back in the closet.

But I didn’t.

At the eleventh hour Tim Roux at Night Publishing took a look at my book when one of his authors recommended it.  A couple of days later he offered to publish it.

We first did a test run for a few weeks on Smashwords, and it did very well.  It did so well  that Online Novels declared it one of February’s two “Most Popular” novels in their General Fiction category–and It hadn’t come out until February tenth.

Tim is a small, new publisher, and we are trying to make a go of it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many other online outlets.  The book can be ordered at any Barnes & Noble brick and mortar store, but I only wish they would stock it.

At any rate, after being on Amazon for just four weeks, Beyond Nostalgia made the Literary Fiction “Best Sellers” list for a short time last week.  It is also on Amazon’s “Highest Rated” and “Hot New Releases” lists in both Literary Fiction and Contemporary Romance.

It will take a lot of work, and luck, to keep the book out of Amazon’s sea of obscurity, but this time I will not give up.

And any aspiring author who believes in their book needs to do the same thing.

Hang tough!

Don’t make the mistake I did.

With the online market growing as you read this and all the helpful online writer’s communities available today, we all have a chance to go up against the big boys.

It won’t be easy, but we have that platinum opportunity.

Click on the links above to visit the sites I mentioned and one more called Agent Query, which is the only one you’ll need when you’re ready to chase down that elusive agent.

Keep writing!

Tom’s book is available in paperback through Amazon.com and as an e-book from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and smashwords.

Unquestionably a great romance novel. Unquestionably not Barbara Cartland!

Mark is co-author of Killing Cupid, a commercial crime-thriller that he hopes (and we hope too, but not quite as much!) will give us a run for our money in the Kindle charts.

Like Tom’s, Mark’s road to publication has been an emotional roller-coaster of a ride, and the road behind him is littered with shattered hopes and dreams.

Tom Winton

Tom Winton was born and raised in New York City.  During his working career, he has done everything from working on a railroad gang in the Colorado Rockies to driving a taxicab in Manhattan.  Now retired, he has been a mailman, a salesman, an entrepreneur and more.  He lives in Hobe Sound, Florida, with his wife Blanche and their ill-tempered but loveable Jack Russell terrier, Ginger.  They spend part of their time in Carmel, Maine.

Although he has written a considerable number of newspaper and magazine articles, Beyond Nostalgia is Tom’s first novel.  He is currently working hard on his second novel, which is nearly completed.