This quote really touched me. I have been feeling anything but brave, strong or smart. In fact, I was wallowing in my fears. Regardless of all the platitudes and words of encouragement everyone has given me, I was being consumed by fear.
Well, I made it through my first chemotherapy treatment on Tuesday. And yes, I was a blubbering mess through the labs, the consult with the nurse practitioner, the insertion of the needle into the port, and even up until the first med was pumped through. But eventually, things calmed down (most likely in part by the Benadryl), but I realized I was not in pain. Nothing terrible was happening to me. I just sat there and let the meds do their thing for five hours. Bottom line is, I made it.
I went in and out of some pretty weird dreams, but they were not scary, just odd. And when I got home I was super tired. And so glad to have my oldest daughter Candy, here from Ohio to look after me so Tai could work this week.
Today is now Thursday. My symptoms have been extremely mind. A tiny bit of nausea that is quickly remedied with a pill on my tongue. I’ve had some slight stomach cramping and a little tingling feelings in parts of my body, but very mild. Nothing I can’t live with. Much better than I expected. Today we went out shopping, and although I was tired when I got home, it was good to get out. So far, no hair loss (one of the things I am dreading most). Supposedly that could start as soon as next week.
What I really want to convey here is I made it through the first treatment. I AM now braver and stronger and smarter than I was on Monday. Now I know what to expect when I walk through that door to the treatment room. I doubt there will be any more tears, at least not over that.
I am still fearful of the side effects that will happen with more treatments. But I don’t think I am terrified anymore, and that is a huge step forward. In fact, I don’t think I have cried since yesterday. And that was very brief and private. I am making it through.
If you are going through something like this, whether it is cancer or something completely different and not feeling brave, strong, or smart, hold on. It will come. I can’t promise you when, but together, we will make it through to the other side.
Feel free to share your thoughts and what you are going through too. Let’s do this together.
Life’s up and down from the time you get here to the time you leave.
I felt great after the surgery. Went home the next day. No pain, no bleeding. Surely Dr. Sam was wrong to be concerned. The discharge instructions were not to go back to work for 4/6 weeks? But me? Do I listen? Have I ever?
“I am woman, I am strong.”
Life can be such a mean trickster. So I didn’t wait 4/6 weeks to go back to work. Most of my work is at home in front of my computer, but I was also working part-time in an office. I could do this. Why not? Did I say earlier my surgery was in August? (Sorry, senior moment) It was July 20, not August. Whoops.
Senior memory aside, I felt fine. Why not go back to work? So on August 1st, I went into the office. I started feeling “off.” Couldn’t quite put a handle on it, but decided to call it a day at noon. By the time I got to my car, I knew I was in trouble. Dizzy. Weird random thoughts. What was happening to me?
I made it home. Whew!, Did not run anyone over. (At least that was one good thing about “off-season” in Florida. Less pedestrians to run over.
Hanging on the stair rail, I managed to climb up to my 2nd floor condo. But before I could rest, I had to take care of my precious babies.
I leaned over to fill their food dish, and boom, next thing I knew I was on the floor sitting in a pool of urine (mine) cat food (theirs) and water (theirs). I know I lost my balance. I know I hit my head. I am not sure if I passed out. Wonder Woman that I was, I crawled to the bathroom and cleaned myself up and made it to the couch.
I am no rooky, I went through the 70’s. I know all about roofies, and uppers and downers. But for the next 24 hours, my mind was on overdrive. But none of it made any sense. Words and phrases, totally unrelated to each other raced through my mind at 100 miles an hour. This was NOT a good trip.
By the next day, sweet hubby Tai, had enough. “You are going to the ER.”
“No, “I balked. They will just say my vitals are fine and send me home after hours and hours. I didn’t win that argument.
The ER seemed to only hear one thing. I fell and hit my head and MAY have passed out. My God. Maybe I had a stroke, Maybe I had a concussion. Do a head scan. Do an MRI of my brain. They ran me through the gambit. No stroke. No concussion. No brain damage.
But the blood test did reveal something. I had a UTI infection. And that could have caused the dizziness and crazy thoughts. Seriously? I never knew that. And I had no other symptoms.
So if having surgery with “mushy parts” was not bad enough, now I had a UTI as well? Thank you, Universe.
Was that enough to throw at me? Nope. Let’s see what Wonder Woman could take.
While there, they discovered an abscess on the “cuff” that once held up my uterus. Not good. And it was going on day 3 in the hospital. I’d had four different IV’s in my arms and hands, in addition to other blood draws. I looked like an addict with my black and blue arms.
Dr. Sam had me transferred via ambulance from the hospital near my home to “his” hospital an hour away where I had my surgery. I was glad. Dr. Sam would take care of me. Dr. Sam would say everything will be fine. When he arrived with the pathology report, he was not smiling. “So sorry. It is not stage 1, It is stage 2 with 70% clear cell carcinoma.” That “mushy” was the clear cell. Definitely will need chemotherapy and radiation. Not the news I wanted to hear.
So to sum it up:
Now instead of Stage 1 cancer that would all get cut out —
I have —
Stage 2 (with most of it cut out)
Clear cell carcinoma
Come on Universe. Can you hit me with anything else? Well, YES. It can.
By the time I left the hospital (the 2nd one) I’d been in a hospital for five days.
Was I handling it well? Hell no. Am I now? Hell no. By now I am crying every single day.
No matter how illogical thoughts can be, sometimes they still haunt you (or me at least) Here is one example.
Tai and I were getting gas on one of the many trips back and forth to doctor’s appointments. I was sitting in the passenger seat while he pumped the gas. I watched a young man come out of the convenience store and head to his car. He was practically bouncing, at least that is the way I saw it. And I thought: “Why does he get to be happy, bouncing along like that, not a care in the world? Why isn’t it him instead of me?” Now, I know that is selfish and outrageous. I am not that kind of person. I wouldn’t wish this, or any illness, on anyone. But truth be told, these are the kind of random thoughts that run through my head. Maybe they run through yours too. If you have an experience you’d like to share, (about this or not), maybe it could help you, and me and whoever else is reading this.
Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness…… Unknown
Dr. Sam. There are no words. Have you ever met someone that his or her very presence eased your fears? That is Dr. Sam. He is my oncologist. He walked into the exam room and said, “Hi, I’m Sam.” We asked if he wasn’t the doctor and wanted to be addressed as so. His answer, “I’ve been Sam a lot longer that I have been Doctor…. Then he took my hand. He did not shake it. He held it. Firm, but soft, I felt all anxiety begin to drift away. I had no logical reason to feel this way, even though I had read all about his impressive credentials. That wasn’t it. There is a aura about Dr. Sam I cannot explain. He made me believe I could beat this. And as my daughter, said, he wasn’t hard on the eyes either.
We got down to business and he explained the game plan. He told us why he would do the surgery this way instead of that. He spoke to all of us, me, Tai and daughter Terri on a FaceTime call. He answered all our questions and explained things we didn’t know enough to ask. And he made me smile. He wanted to do laproscopic, but not robotic. I asked why. I thought I was so smart for reading up on the latest surgical technology. “Because,” he said, “You’re little. Robotic surgery would make bigger incisions and you don’t need those on your tiny body.” Me, little or tiny? Nobody had called me that in fifty years. Two points for Dr. Sam.
“You’re going to be okay,” said Dr. Sam. And I believed him. He concluded the meeting and stood to leave. Then he reached over and hugged me, warm, sincere, like a life raft. Hubby and I left, hand-in-hand. In the car, Tai looked over at me and asked why I was crying. They were tears of relief. The weight was lifted off my shoulder.
And no more
Surgery was set for August 20. Sam would do the operation. And I was sure I would be fine.
I was going to put the surgery on a separete post, but time is catching up to me. I’d like to have you caught up before my first chemo treatment.
As they say, “The surgery was a success …. but (don’t you hate those buts?)
I thought I was relatively calm going into the surgery. From what my daughter and hubby said, I was far from it. Apparently, the medication to make me drowsy before the actual anethesia loosened my tongue. I am told I cried and cried, hung on to them, and gave them instructions on what to do after I died. I remember none of that. (Just as well)
Dr. Sam made his rounds the next day and explained that things were slightly more complicated that he anticipated. He found some parts that were “mushy” (his words, not mine) and we would have to wait for the pathology report, but now he expected that I would need some chemo and radiation. What? I thought it was going to be easy-peasy – take out the stage 1 cancer and I’d be cured.
As Lee Corso from College Game day would say, “Not so fast.”
If you are enjoying this blog, make sure you are signed up to receive them all, and share with your family and friends. Tell next time…….
If you are old enough to remember the beginning of Pac-Man, you will understand the chomping sound over the music that rattled your brain. It was the 80’s and it was addicting. And it apparently has survived all these years. Not a good sign for me
In mid-May, I began to bleed and had tons of stomach pain. This continued for weeks. First a trip to my gastroenterologist, then the ER, then a referral to a GYN.
I first found out I had “C” in June 16, 2022. Perhaps it was the shock, it didn’t really register. The GYN nurse called and said I needed to come in because of the results of a biopsy.. When Tai (my hubby) and I got there, the doctor nonchalantly handed me a piece of paper with the words, “You have cancer. You need to see an oncologist.” That was that. What???
From that moment on, every time I thought about it, I could see that little Pac-Man guy chomping away at my insides. Relentless.
Chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp .
My dear friend, Pauline told me to visualize a zapper gun zapping them out of existence.
Zap , zap , zap .
The problem was the more I zapped, the more Pac-Man appeared.
She told me to replace the Pac-Man with something positive I love, like flowers . But I’ve never been able to zap them all. So far, Pac-Man wins.
I was referred to an oncologist, who I call Dr. Sam. The unfortunate part was I could not get to see Dr. Sam until June 23rd. Most people will think that is fast, and looking back it probably was. It didn’t feel like it when every 24 hours felt like infinity. By then, I’d been bleeding and in a lot of stomach pain for over four weeks, never letting up. It already felt like it had been going on forever. My anxiety level kept climbing.
I was in pain, and there was the constant Chomp . chomp , chomp . Advice from family and friends started to pour in: “Get a second opinion,” “Go up to Moffit,” “Go to the Sylvester center in Miami.” “Don’t let them give you chemotherapy.” “Take the chemo if it will save your life.” “Try holistic measures instead.” I have no doubt that all these people meant well. They only wanted what was best for me. But it was overwhelming. I didn’t know what to do.
Still, Chomp, chomp, chomp.
In pain and at an anxiety level off the charts, I decided to go the ER at Sylvester Cancer in Miami. Tai put me in the car and we drove the 2 1/2 hours over there from here in Naples. Daughter Terri joined us there, but they would only let one person in with me. The ER did nothing except take my vitals and give me some fluids. After many hours, they told me I was being discharged because all my vitals were good. I lost it – literally. I refused to sign the discharge papers. Two supervisors became three. Arms crossed at the foot of my bed, they said if I did not leave willingly on my own they would have security physically remove me. What could I do? By then I was screaming: “Fix me. Do something.” There answer was, “That’s not the way it is done.” Of course, they may have been correct, but try explaining that to a hysterical, freaked-out woman with cancer.
All the while, Chomp, chomp, chomp.
Eventually we left, and after spending the night with Terri in Miami, we drove straight back to our ER in Naples. The pain was excruciating.
Yes, I have the “C” word. Coming to grips with it is challenging. When my sister-in-law suggested that I write a book about my experiences, I blew it off. Many books have been written about people’s journey’s through cancer. They surely didn’t need another one. So she suggested a journal. “Maybe it would help others,” she said. I believe she meant maybe it would help me. But she is also a cancer survivor. Perhaps she was asking me to be a voice she could not be. I am a writer. This is what I do. So why not a blog?
As I venture on this trip I don’t want to take, I will try to share with you what I am going through. It will be less about what is happening physically and more about what is happening emotionally. This is beyond hard. Harder than anything I ever remember going through before. And I have been through many rough times in my seventy-three years. If you choose to follow along, perhaps you are also facing the big “C,” or you have a friend or family member that is. Perhaps you will follow because it is something different from cancer. Maybe it is another physical ailment, or maybe a mental one. At any rate, if you find it helpful or relatable, I thank you for choosing to take this journey with me, walking with me, but even if you cannot walk it for me.
Before I get into the “C” chapter of my life, I must start with a big, heartfelt “A.” The A is for APOLOGY. Those of you who follow my blog will know that this blog is supposed to be about writing and promoting other authors. I have a long list of authors that I promised to post their interviews and the latest book they want to let the world know about. I have failed miserably with this ever since “C” has reared his ugly head. So I apologize to my author friends. You are not going to see your interview or your books promoted here for a long time. This is the only thing I can do right now. My mind is all consumed with “C.” Hopefully, at the end of this journey, I will be back to myself and be able to fulfill my promise to you and continue with the author interviews and book promotions. I sincerely wish you all the success in the world with your books. Author to author, I know that journey is another one altogether.
I will start my next post by catching you up on how I first found out about “C” and how I emotionally handled it. It will require a little medical information, but I hope not to bog it down with too much of that. Cancer is the antagonist in this story, and I don’t want to give him too much voice. This is my battle and I pray I come out the victor.
Shannon Clarke raised a family and worked waterfront jobs in America’s oldest seaport. Her childhood dream to become a sea captain is revived when her long-lost seafaring uncle Patrick, visits with a salty tale of their maritime family ancestry of pirates and privateers. He shares recovered family letters and artifacts from the Golden Age of piracy. They take to the sea in Patrick’s brigantine to follow the siren song of their ancestors in quest of destiny, truth and treasure. The voyage is fraught with raw forces of nature, past traumas and present-day sea raiders as their talents and beliefs of family, identity and purpose are shaken to the core.
James Masciarelli is a writer, coach, and serial entrepreneur. His leadership roles span social work, high-tech human resources, executive search, board governance, and angel investing. Known for thought leading articles in professional publications, his first book, PowerSkills is considered the seminal book on relationship and stakeholder management for personal, career and business success.
James and creative wife Judi enjoy endless summer in Naples, Florida and Gloucester, Ma. He now writes short stories and novels.
It is my pleasure to have Jim Masciarelli as my guest author today. Jim and I have been friends for quite a few years and it is wonderful to be able to tell others about his book, Beyond Beauport.
JT: Let’s start with inspiration. What was the trigger for you to write this book?
Jim: It was my love of sea stories, maritime history, piracy, and the intriguing working women of fishing port of Gloucester, Massachusetts.
JT: If this book was sitting on a shelf in a traditional bookstore like Barnes & Noble. Where would we find it?
Jim: The genre is clearly Adventure, so I would guess it would go there. If there was a place for sub-genres under that, maybe thriller, sea stories, or even women’s fiction since the main protagonist is a strong female in a mid-life quest.
JT: Yes, Shannon Clark is an interesting character. You have her so well defined. As a guy, did you find it hard to capture a female protagonist?
Jim: Great question. This began as a hypothesis for an adventure novel. I had consumed maritime history and pirate history books and learned about women navigators and yes, pirates. A female protagonist in an adventure novel out of her comfort zone on the high seas. Not a bodice ripper was my aim. I knew many of the working women of the Gloucester waterfront and how hearty, funny, tough, and family-oriented they were. Many knew hard times. I decided to interview as many as I could—twenty-six. Their stories, likes, dislikes, skills, work and family experiences blended into a female protagonist in mid-life. Empathy is the helpful and magical way to deep character development. I want to feel what my characters feel and to surprise myself.
JT: Let’s talk about the cover for a minute. I love the fiery red hair against the backdrop of the sea with the waves crashing in white foam. Did you design your own book cover or have a cover designer? How much input do you have?
Jim: My wife is a former graphic designer and we developed several mock ups for our Publisher Koehler Books.
JT: Are you traditionally published, an Indie Author or use a small independent press?And why did you choose that route?
Jim:I used a small independent press. At the time, Koehler books offered a hybrid model with excellent support which can lead to their traditional publishing. Now I have the book under Nimbus Press with faster time to market.
JT: Do you have a brand?
Jim: I’d call my brand Eclectic. I write satire, short stories, creative non-fiction and long fiction.
JT: Have you published other books?
Jim: Yes, PowerSkills a recognized seminal book on relationship management for career and personal success with licensed courses for corporations and associations. A precursor to today’s stakeholder relationship management thinking and platforms.
JT: How long have you been writing Commercially/Academically or for Pleasure?
Jim: Since 1978, I wrote thought leading articles on leadership skills for professional publications.
JT: That is quite a leap from non-fiction, professional publications to fiction. Did you find that difficult? What were some of the challenges?
Jim: I have been fortunate in several careers. So going into uncharted territory excites me. I started with a course on screenplays, participated in critique groups. I have read over 36 books on writing fiction. Somewhat helpful and conflicting advice. I joined Grub Steet Boston, Sanibel Island Writers and Marco Island writers. Many workshops. I had to set writing goals because I do get lost in research.
JT: What do you like BEST about writing or being an author?
Jim: The creative and editing process force a writer to scalpel no matter how hard to cut bloat. Learning something new every day and cataloging story ideas. I love researching topics, observe behavior, character, people and places with an eye for entertaining stories. I like to share drafts with readers that will beat it up and provide useful feedback.
JT: I love the research too. What do you like LEAST about writing or being an author?
Jim: The need to have multiple platforms, apps, to produce and get your work out there.
JT: One of the most challenging things for writers is getting your book out there. How do you market your books?
Jim: I have a tip sheet that I can offer to bookstores or organization that explains my book, my marketing and my Meta Data to make it easier for them to get the information they need. I speak to Affinity groups, book clubs, amazon, and at times social media. I enjoy doing speaking engagements. I find that networking and participating in writing conferences is helpful.
JT: If you were to give advice to a new author looking to get published, what would you say?
Jim: Perfect your work before gong to market and have low expectations of agents until you have successfully published in journals, articles, and self-publishing
JT: Thank you so much for spending a few minutes with Writing Under Fire. Readers, below is where you can purchase Jim’s book(s)
Am I handing this well? God no. What happened to “I am Woman, I am strong?”
I am weak, a basket case, crying every single day. Now when someone says to me, “You are strong, you’ll get through this,” I want to throw something at their head.
I do not FEEL strong. I am crumbling inside. I remember once when I said those words to one of my daughters. “You are strong, honey, you’ll get through this.” And her answer was just like mine, “I don’t feel strong.” What she was really saying was, I NEED YOU to be strong for me. Now I get it. Sorry, honey.
Thank God for husbands like mine. He is gold. As calming as Dr. Sam is, Tai is my rock. His arms don’t stop the tears, in fact, they seem to open the floodgates even more. But they are the only place I want to be. Last night I woke him up at 3 a.m. because I was having a panic attack. My mind was all over the place. I didn’t want to do this. (the chemo) . What was I thinking agreeing to put 5 hours worth of poison in my body? It reminded me of old-time doctoring with leaches or bleeding. He held me and comforted me until I was calmer. I can’t promise him I won’t put him through it again.
I am also blessed with a loving, supportive family. My children are amazing. My brothers and sister-in-laws are fabulous. We are a big family. And I love every one of them.
So, now we are almost at the beginning of the end of my journey. The Chemo. First treatment in 3 days. I hope I have the strength to walk through the door. I had this “thing” inserted under my skin called a port. It is supposed to be where all my blood draws and chemo treatment will happen.
I’ll admit. I am afraid. I am afraid of all it. The chemo, the radiation, losing my hair (I know that is frivolous, but I still feel it), of being sick, of not being able to do the things I love. To die. Yes, it could happen. There are no guarantees.
For the first time in my life, I find myself saying “I just can’t” to just about everything. No, I can’t go to the office. No, I can’t meet my friends for lunch. No, I can’t work on your book. No, I can’t write a single legible sentence in my own novel. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I needed to stop that.
I have learned one thing. It is okay to lean on others. It is okay NOT to be strong. It is okay to cry. My yogi-daughter told me I needed a positive mantra, to repeat over and over, especially when I am in my quiet zone first thing in the morning. She helped me to recall I already HAVE a mantra. I just did not know it was called that. It is a Bible verse I have used when things got tough before (and they have) since 1972.
It is Romans 8:28 Everything works together for good for those that love and serve the Lord.” EVERYTHING – even cancer.
So every morning, I repeat that, do a deep inhale, hold it for 5 seconds an do a slow exhale. And I repeat that a minimum of five times. I am calmer.
I think I am ready to face the future. Do you have a mantra? What gets you through the hard times. Share them with us if you can.
A powerful message about knowing, trusting, and believing in yourself.
At The Inn in Rhode Island, afternoons are reserved for soothing cups of tea while relaxing on one of the porch rockers. You’re welcome to take an easy stroll among the many aesthetic gardens. If reading is your pleasure and the owner sure hopes it is, the library offers an array of books, a comfortable sofa and two wingback chairs on each side of the fireplace. From garden tours in the spring to author events in the fall, you’ll be glad you stayed at the inn, especially for dinner. Chef Michael is passionate about food.
During the golden hour, Julie and Dan Holliday will renew their vows. The wedding will take place at The Inn in Rhode Island on what promises to be a magical evening surrounded by close friends, colleagues, gorgeous flowers, delicious food and a wedding cake baked by the bride’s best friend.
Judy Prescott Marshall is a multi-award-winning writer. Sher earned her certificate Write Your First Novel from Michigan State University. She writes women’s contemporary fiction.
Give a big welcome to Judy Prescott Marshall. Tell us, Judy, what was your inspiration for this book?
Real women facing life’s many challenges.
That is great. Most women could identify with that. If your book was sitting on a shelf in a brick and mortar bookstore like Barnes & Noble, where would we find it?
Women’s contemporary fiction
Is this your first book or do you have other books? Are they in the same genre?
Both books are in the same genre. STILL CRAZY released March 2022.
Do you have a brand. For example, my brand is Mother-Daughter Women’s Fiction.
Mine are also Women’s Fiction, but I’d call my brand “Later-in-Life Fiction”
Interesting. I like that everyone is not writing about the 20/30 something crowd. How long have you been writing?
In 2019 I wrote a little book on inspiration. 2020 I released my debut novel.
I find it so interesting how we all ended up writing from such different starts. Your cover is lovely. Did you design it yourself or have a cover designer?
I design my own book covers and have a professional put it all together for me.
What avenue did you go to get published? Traditional, hybrid, Indie or a small independent press?
I am Self published and a proud Indie Author!!
What do you like BEST about writing or being an author?
* All of it! Seriously, I enjoy the creating, writing, advertising, marketing and getting to know other writers.
I wish I could say the same. I hate the marketing. Is there anything then you would say would fall in the “least” category?
Not having enough time in the day to do all that needs to be done.
We all need more than 24 hour days, don’t we. How do you market your books?
Advertising on Facebook. Sharing the book on all of my social media, in my newsletter, blog, with my book clubs and my street team.
If you were to give advice to a new author looking to get published; what would you say ?
Create your platform FIRST!
Well, that could be another whole blog post. Platforms are very confusing to new authors.
Below is a list of where you can purchase Judy’s books.
June 16, 2022..Did you know that June 16th is World Sea Turtle Day? Take this day to remember you little (and big) shelled friends. Might be a good day to read March of the Sea Turtles to your little ones too.
Just FYI: the Spanish version, La Marcha de las Tortugas Marinas, will be out in the next few month. Watch on Amazon for it. English version available on Hard Cover or Paperback now. http://www.joannetailele.com
The United States faces a catastrophe far worse than the Wuhan pandemic of 2020. Like before, the threat originates in China, but this time it’s not just another virus. It is a powerful device that is already embedded in cities throughout the civilized world. When activated, billions could die.
Jacob Savich is the only man capable of stopping whatever is planned. Though plagued by his own personal demons, he is commissioned by the President to assemble a clandestine team of warriors with the necessary backbone and moral flexibility to protect the country. Until now, they have been successful, but this new mission poses the most dangerous challenge Savich has ever faced. He must identify the nature of the attack, when it will occur, and who is responsible. His relentless pursuit of each clue takes him a step closer to stopping the elusive mastermind behind the plot, but it also leads him toward his own death. Despite the danger, Savich must hurry. Time is running out. The day of YAOGUAI is near. Modern civilization is about to end.
T. Milton Mayer is a former Major in the United States Air Force and a retired Head & Neck Surgeon. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. He and his wife divide their time between the Greater Cincinnati area and Naples, Florida. His previous books: Scorpion Intrusion and The Immigrant are available through Amazon.
Tom Mayer, writing as T. Milton Mayer is one of my favorite authors of suspense and thriller. Welcome Tom. Let’s talk a little bit about how you started writing and why.
Tom: At age sixty, my career as a surgeon ended abruptly after I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. The early retirement was unexpected and difficult. Much to my wife’s chagrin, I spent every day at home. After rearranging her kitchen for the third time in six months, she told me I needed a hobby. I had always been an avid reader so I decided to try my hand at writing fiction.
It was far more difficult than I had imagined. My first effort was a rambling one hundred fifty thousand story about a family in the impoverished coal country in southeast Kentucky. After reading the manuscript, I put it on a shelf where it remains till this day. It was horrible. Realizing I needed to learn more. I purchased a number of books on writing. I discovered there were multiple rules that must be followed when writing any story: maintaining a consistent point of view, no head hopping, maintaining proper tense, minimizing ly words, avoiding passive verbs, etc, etc.
Five years ago, I finished Scorpion Intrusion, a 93,000 word thriller. I published it through Create Space. The book had its flaws but was well received. Subsequently, an acquaintance asked me to write his life story. After that, I wrote Quantum, a sequel to my first novel. Realizing I needed help, I sought the advice of a book coach and selected Joanne Tailele. Her advice and guidance have been invaluable. Quantum was published by Simon Publications and has had excellent reception. Joanne is helping me put the finishing touches on my third novel, The Thirteen which I expect to be ready by July.
JT: Where do you get the inspiration for your stories?
Tom: Most of my stories are inspired by current events in the news. Others stem from people I have known or things I have witnessed personally. My next novel resulted from a walk I took in a park near my Florida home. It was a swampy area with elevated asphalt paths for walkers and cyclists. One morning I noticed an abandoned bicycle half submerged in the water and wondered how it got there. That led to an entire story that evolved into a one hundred-thousand word thriller. If I had a brand, it would be fiction thrillers. They all also have a touch of political influence.
JT: Let’s talk about publishing. Today there are so many choices; self-publishing, small independent presses, hybrid and traditional publishers. Why did you choose Simon Publishing LLC?
Tom: I tried traditional publishing but found the process to be tedious and the chances of rejection high. If I were younger, I might continue to try that avenue, but the submission of multiple query letters was too painful and time consuming. I discovered that using Simon Publications, I eliminated most of the painful drudgery associated with traditional publishers. A small independent press offered me excellent service and provided a finished product I could be proud of.
JT: Marketing is probably the biggest problem for most authors. Whether you go the traditional route, self-publish, or somewhere in between, it is primarily the author’s responsibility to market their own books. What do you do?
Tom: Getting the word out is of course one of the most difficult aspects of writing. I have utilized the social media. I also enroll in as many book fairs as possible. I met with several books stores to convince them to give me shelf space. I considered radio commercials and billboards but decided they wouldn’t be very cost effective. Didn’t think I could sell enough books to offset the expense.
JT: What do you like best about being a writer?
Tom: I get to lose myself in my characters and live somewhat vicariously through them. I can guide the story in any direction I want. It also gives me the chance to express my personal thoughts about various issues. I enjoy the entire creative process and often don’t know what will happen until I type it. The story takes on a life of its own.
JT: On the flip side, what is your least favorite part?
Tom: Rewrites. I tend to do a half dozen of these, even when the project is supposedly finished—much to the chagrin of the publisher.
JT: In response to the above question, one thing you do that I think is very helpful is to print out the entire manuscript after you THINK it is done. You always find things you want to change, whether it is in a particular scene or just the structure of a sentence. Being detailed oriented is both your asset and your curse.
Tom: Decide what your goals are. Keep writing and experimenting with different styles and points of view. Once you have perfected your skills, you can try the traditional publishing route, but it’s a long and tedious process. Be prepared for rejections. It’s happened to some of the best. Just remember, even if your manuscript is accepted by a publisher or agent, it will probably take at least several years before it makes its way into print. Personally, I prefer the small independent press option.
JT: Thank you Tom. Always a pleasure. Where can readers buy your books?
Meet Carly and Ranger Todd. They will take you on amazing adventures in southwest Florida. You’ll learn about the wildlife and how humans can coexist with the species that have been here long before us.
If you would like to read this book to your child’s preschool, I know they would love it. Here is just a few of the classes that love March of the Sea Turtles.
A third grade class in Canfield, Ohio wrote me back with what they liked about March of the Sea Turtles. This is just a few. Thank you class.