Tripping on Coconuts: An Author’s Adventures and Misadventures in the Florida Keys
Click a copy here – AMAZON
Author Tom Winton was just a young boy when he first visited the Florida Keys. Since then decades have passed, and the longtime Florida resident has returned to the sun-soaked string of islands time and time again.
Winton knows all about the dreamlike state of wonderment people fall into every time they arrive in the Keys. He’s felt the pull of romance that forever wafts in the balmy, subtropical breezes down there. He’s also had his share of thrills, mishaps and wild nights.
TRIPPING ON COCONUTS is a compilation of the funky, emotional, hysterical and downright dangerous experiences Tom and his wife Blanche have had in the Keys. Some parts will make you laugh. Others will have you clutching the armrests of your easy chair. But no matter what your reaction might be at any point in the book, you’ll feel like you’re right there in that magical place where memories are made.
Alex Martin – In The Plotting Shed
Author of novels including The Twisted Vine and the Katherine Wheel Trilogy (Daffodils, Peace Lily and Speedwell)
Alex Martin’s books
In The Plotting Shed
Tuesday, 8 March 2016
Hi Tom, and welcome to the Plotting Shed. Thanks for coming all the way from Georgia, in America. How do my Welsh hills compare for scenery?
“I live in the mountains so I love your outlook from The Plotting Shed.”
It’s a nice day, fancy a beer on the decking? I hope you are comfortable. Let’s begin.
“I’d love one, thanks.”
1. Would you say you are a country mouse or a town mouse, Tom?
“I’d tell either one of them to stop mousing around and loading up on cheese. Then I’d tell those “meeces” to read my books. LOL”
2. Haha, nice one. What’s your working routine like for an average writing day. Or do you just write when you can?
“When I’m finished doing what needs to be done around the homestead, and jerking around online with networking and marketing, I usually start tapping keys at about 3 PM. Some authors can write for 14 hours straight, but I’m not one of them. If I get two hours in every day, and 500 to 1,000 words, I’m satisfied with myself. If I miss one day, though, it affects me. I can really come down on myself. ”
3. How many books have you written so far, Tom?
“In the past five years I’ve had seven novels published, one collection of short stories, and four individual shorts. I also have all my full-length books out in audio now, and some have been translated in various languages.”
4. Wow, good going. Would you describe your genre? I know you write romance, so would you say that was different for a guy?
“Yes, Alex, romance has a way of finding itself into all my books. Is that different than what most guys write? Maybe so, but I think romance is an essential element of the human condition, just like the many lessons the characters in my books learn while trying to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles.
As far as my genre is concerned, I’m a self-admitted first-degree “genre jumper and mixer.” Just as readers will find romance in my stories, they’ll also find plenty of suspense and quite often a considerable amount of travel.”
5. Have you got your own special writing station at home? What do you consider to be essential equipment?
“For the first time in my life, I now have my own “office” to write in. We moved from Florida to the North Georgia Mountains 18 months ago, and we’ve turned the third bedroom of our new place into my writing station.
As for tools, I still have in a bookcase behind me here the well-worn red dictionary and blue thesaurus I used for years. But I rarely pick them up anymore. Now all I do is click my cursor on a word I want to research and it takes me right to either the dictionary or thesaurus. My other tools are my computer, a used desk, a $5.00 second-hand office chair, a copier, calendar, pens and a pad or two. Those things along with the pen and pad on my nightstand, and a little inspiration, are all I need. When my muse shows up for duty I’m always good to go. ”
6. Do you enjoy research?
“I don’t mind a little research here and there, like an occasional Google search. But when more than that is required I absolutely hate it. If I need to break away from my writing for too long, it sometimes screws up my continuity. Let’s face it, when you have to tear yourself away from a single paragraph to look up four different things, it makes it harder to get back into the rhythm of the prose.
But nowadays there is an upside to researching. I’ve got more information available at my fingertips (accessible with my computer) than there is in any library in the entire world. And I can almost always find out what I need to know in just seconds.”
7. What keeps you motivated and how long have you been writing?
“What motivates me more than anything else are the fine folks who read my books. I certainly don’t enjoy the fame of a Stephen King or James Patterson, but I do have a following now. And believe me, despite my considerable number of modest writing successes, there have been many times I felt like running a garage sale and selling those writing tools I mentioned earlier. But I haven’t done that yet. And it’s because I know there are loyal readers out there who are waiting for my next book. Then again, my gold-gilded dreams of someday signing with a big publisher have a bit to do with why I keep tapping keys, too.”
8. What jobs did you do before you became a writer, or do you still work as well as write?
“I’m, retired now (ha, I put in more hours than I ever did). But during my working years I did everything from driving a taxi cab in some of New York’s most dangerous neighborhoods to driving railroad spikes in the Colorado Rockies. I’ve also dug ditches, been a sales executive in N.Y.C., and done most everything in between. The problem is I’ve always had a short attention span—once I “mastered” something it bored me to tears. I guess I should have realized much earlier in life that I was destined to become an author.”
9. What’s your current project (s)?
“Right now I’m putting the finishing touches on a short book about the adventures and misadventures my wife and I have had in the Florida Keys. You see, we’ve been going down there for more than 40 years now. Although I’d been to that magical string of islands once before Blanche ever had, we first went together in 1974. That time we had driven her canary yellow Chevy Vega through New York City in the cold predawn darkness, trying to beat an oncoming blizzard that was bearing down on the Big Apple. We were on our way to Key West to get married down there. Heck, that 1400 mile trip was a story in itself.”
10. What are the high’s and low’s of a writing life for you?
“Believe it or not, the high point of my writing career ended up being the low point as well. It happened in the summer of 2011, after I had sent out a batch query letters to literary agents for my first novel—Beyond Nostalgia. Within a period of just 30 days, I actually had ten agents ask to see the manuscript. That’s right ten of them! Ask any writer you know and they’ll tell you that’s almost unheard of. At any rate, I struggled to keep myself from getting my hopes too high. And it’s a good thing I did, although the outcome still hurt like hell. Every one of those goofy agents decided not to represent me. Sure, half of them said that the book just wasn’t quite right for them, and that they were “sure” I’d find a willing agent. But in the end there was no cigar.
Nevertheless, a short time later a small publisher offered to publish the book, I signed with them, and Beyond Nostalgia went on to become a bestseller. For about four months Amazon featured the book on their Kindle home page. It sold thousands of copies and it was continually ranked near the very top of the Contemporary Romance category. It also hit the Barnes & Noble “Top 100”. But I’m still not over the disappointment I suffered, because I truly believe that had I lassoed a good agent and bigger publisher Beyond Nostalgia could have been a huge seller. On the bright side, though, I have since self-published six more novels and every one of them has become a bestseller as well.
Alex, I really enjoyed answering the questions and appreciate you asking me to be on your site.”
Great talking to you Tom. What an interesting life you’ve lead while you went around the houses before caving into your destiny.
Tom’s brand new book – A New Dawn in Deer Isle. Released just over a month ago, it too has already been an Amazon bestseller and “Hot New Release”.
Here’s the link for A NEW DAWN IN DEER ISLE http://amzn.com/B01B8MZMQA
Tom’s Author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Tom-Winton/e/B005H2T7AA/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Tom’s Website – http://tomwintonauthor.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Tom-Winton-206609429356346/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/TomWinton
Tom Winton’s Book Links:
A New Dawn in Deer Isle – http://amzn.com/B01B8MZMQA
Forever Three – http://amzn.com/B00S8JKS5M
A Second Chance in Paradise – http://amzn.com/B00GM2IR64
Four Days with Hemingway’s Ghost – http://amzn.com/B008FBXENQ
The Last American Martyr – http://amzn.com/B005GFM764
Beyond Nostalgia – http://amzn.com/B00650O686
Within A Man’s Heart – http://amzn.com/B00B29JHR0
A Second Chance in Paradise by Tom Winton
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.