A Moment With Tom Ufert!

 

Tom Ufert, a 46-year-old quadriplegic afflicted with three different disabilities is an inspirational voice in our troubled times. He received his bachelor of arts in political science and history as a scholarship recipient from Centenary College of Louisiana. Tom is a former Rotary International graduate Fellow who attended Australian National University in Canberra, ACT, specializing in East Asian political affairs and was a White House Fellow nominee. He is a former Lyndon Baines Johnson Congressional Intern and constituency aid for two former United States members of Congress. His past services for 11 political campaigns on both sides of the aisle were highly valued by former Louisiana Governor Charles “Buddy” Roemer, Henson Moore the former assistant chief of staff to U.S. Vice President George H.W. Bush, and the present U.S. Trade Ambassador, Ron Kirk.

At age 23 he was the youngest artistic Board Chairman in the United States as head of the Shreveport Summer Music Festival. Mr. Ufert has served as a member of two other 501(c) three charity boards including his beloved fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia as well as the community advisory board for his former rehabilitation hospital. Over the years he has acquired extensive customer service experience in the food and beverage, hotel, insurance, home security, and pharmaceutical industries. Mr. Ufert has served as a member of two other 501(c) three charity boards including his beloved fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia as well as the community advisory board for his former rehabilitation hospital. His professional memberships include Phi Alpha Theta, Sigma Tau Delta, and the Worldwide Who’s Who. In recent years he has worked tirelessly as a volunteer fundraiser for numerous AIDS charities in his community and served briefly as the community affairs liaison for Legacy Founders Cottage. Tom Ufert, a native of Louisiana, now resides in Texas.

Character is learned, but also earned, and adversity is the harshest, yet most effective teacher in the school of life.

Tom Ufert is one such individual. He is a man who has stood up to adversity. He has not allowed life to define him, but rather taken it all in and used it to build his own character. He has used life to define himself.

In his novel, Adversity Builds Character, Tom openly talks about his life and the adversity he has faced.

When we are old, we can look back and clearly see the crossroads that marked the major turning points in our lives. For Tom, there will be two that stand out from the crowd. One involving his mother and her long battle with MS; and the other was the period where he himself was diagnosed with MS, paralyzed as the result of a car crash and diagnosed with HIV. Three instances which, when encountered individually, would be enough to send most people reeling; but when delivered all together, as happened to Tom, there would surely be many people who gave up the fight and consigned themselves to their fate.

This is not Tom, and this is not the message he is giving in his book Adversity Builds Character.

Tom stood firm in the face of adversity, one could even say that he smiled wryly at it. Life is a challenge, a game, and while the rules changed, Tom Ufert has demonstrated that we can adapt ourselves to the new rules, we can still play the game, and above all, we can still win.

While it is a personal tale being told, Tom Ufert is writing to show others that no matter what happens in life, whatever adversity you face, there is always a choice. Give up, or fight on. Tom chose to fight, and after reading Adversity Builds Character, I am sure you will, too.

 Thank you for joining us on this stage of the tour, I hope you will join us again tomorrow at the home of Catie Rhodes for an exclusive interview with the author.

You can connect with Tom on Facebook or grab your copy of ‘Adversity Builds Character’ here.

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”

–          Epictetus

Setbacks are a part of life. They are unavoidable and often defining moments— instances that will test our love, our bonds, and our faith. Some people will push on through this adversity, others will fall, lose themselves, and a small few will rise, they will meet these moments head on and not just get through, but flourish.”

 

 

Meet Kelley Harrell!

I have a very special interview to share with you all. Ms Kelley Harrell asked me to interview her for Novel Ideas. How could I refuse such a great request from a writer who has so much to say? I tried to get the real Ms Harrell down on paper, or blog paper anyway, for you to read about. Her book “Gift of the Dreamtime” is a really great read and I think after this interview, you will want to check it out!

Q) Welcome to Novel Ideas, Kelly! Let me start by asking you to tell me what drives you as a writer?

A) The burning cells in my head drive me to write. I can never write enough to soothe them, though the only solution seems to be to keep writing. They quiet every now and then, and it’s a nice reprieve, albeit a little boring. Then they sneak back up, taunting scenes and characters so flawed I have to plot them out of my head.

Q) Do you feel that a good story is more important than a good writing style?

A) No. I confess, I will read a topic I’m not interested in if it’s well-written over a sloppy guilty pleasure, any day. I cringe over a lot of what sells well, just because it’s cornered a market or hits on particular buzz topics. I really have such limited time to read that I can’t shove myself through something that’s not a joy to read. Those rare times that a book both conveys a great story and is well-written–they are Nirvana.

Q) How do you approach your writing? Late nights slaving over a laptop? Long days with the iPad? How do you like to work?

A) I  used to write every spare minute, often to the detriment of other things that needed to be done–little things like eating, laundry, sleep, interpersonal communication. Now that I have small children, I’ve learned that ancient maternal skill of compressing and expanding time. I can squeeze hours of productivity from a few minutes and still wonder where the day went. I set aside time daily to write, and even though it’s hard to stop on time, I honor my boundaries. As a result, I write cleaner and more efficiently, yet with even less rest…

Q) How would you personally describe your book “Gift of the Dreamtime?”

A) My memoir is about a period of my life during which I’d exhausted all the conventional healing approaches for PTSD and depression. I’d felt for well over a decade, at that point, that soul healing was needed, though such a novelty was hard to come by in rural North Carolina. I did everything I could on my own, along that line. When finally I did engage such a healer, my life changed dramatically. Not only did I feel relief for the first time in my life, I felt a responsibility to carry that healing forward to others.

Q) Do you think your book is unique? What makes you think so?

A) “Gift of the Dreamtime” is unique in that it takes place entirely on the other side of the veil–the spirit world destinations shamans travel to in order to bring back healing. No other book has accomplished that, and I’m extremely proud of that fact. That odd travel gives the book a fantasy-like quality, though the reality of what’s happening in it is quite tangible, deeply accessible by readers.

Q) I have learnt that different things excite different writers. What excites you as an author?

A) What doesn’t? I guess it’s exactly that. I am so inspired by the teasing plots in my head that I have to cull out which ones really want to play. Which ones stand the test of time (and synapses), and actually evolve as they work their way into words. Some don’t. They’re just indulgences, like personal TV shows–brief dalliances, pretty, saucy, but ultimately distracting fluff. The plots that bare themselves and refuse to leave until I can formulate them into peace–that excites me. That’s a kind of math I can actually do.

Q) Let me ask you something many interviewers wouldn’t care to ask. So, are sales or fanmail more important to you?

A) I’ll take both any given day, though what I remember most are the letters from readers. “Gift of the Dreamtime” is wide-open intimate, personal exposure, yet it demands the same of the reader. I feel very honored that people trust me enough to take the time to write, tell me their stories, and to share how the book moved them to a new place in their own healing.

Q) How was “Gift of the Dreamtime” received by readers?

A) It’s been wonderfully received, and that thrills me beyond words<—–rare. As a writer with an ego, I’m just over the moon that the book has reached the audience I intended it to, and as a modern shaman, I’m pleased that it is recognized as a contemporary healing story, inspiring others to tell their own.

Get your copy of “Gift of the Dreamtime” today!

How To Make Those Books Sell! Hire My PR!

 

 

Roberts HIT

Nick Wale turned “Reprisal: The Eagle Rises” into a hit overnight.

Interview undertaken by interviewer  Alex Laybourne and reblogged on several sites including http://www.nickwale.org

Ever hear the song “Hungry Like The Wolf”? Well, this guy is hungry for the hits. It becomes a struggle when you have written a book—a good book, no less! What do you do? You can hire some PR guy or girl who takes thousands off you and does nothing. You can pretend you wrote the book for your family. You can say that “there’s no money to be made in writing.” You can be the art writer with a chip on your shoulder.

You should meet the “Hitmaker.” He has just sailed into the top twenty on Amazon, again, with “Reprisal! The Eagle Rises.” The writer is Cliff Roberts, and the PR is Nick Wale. I caught him for an interview! What sells? Let’s get some free advice from a guy near the top of the pile.

Q) Hi, Nick, how are you taking to being the “Hitmaker”?

A) Hola! Who the hell came up with that? I thought that was an album by Burt Bacharach. I like it though. The “Hitmaker” is doing just fine… Just getting by, I guess.

Q) Modest? You are currently in the top twenty again? Is that just getting by?

A) No, Cliff Roberts is in the top twenty. Nick Wale, Hitmaker, or whatever you call him is still the dude who promotes books.

Q) Let me ask you—how do you take to all the stuff you’ve been called? You were “King of the Author Interviews,” then you were “Winner Wale,” and now you get called the “Hitmaker.”

A) I don’t really take it. It just is. I don’t let that stuff get out of proportion. If people believed half the hype in the world, we would all be driving Gremlins.

Q) So, what is a hit book?

A) A hit book sells. It sells because it has something about it. It doesn’t have to be perfectly edited, it doesn’t have to be THAT commercial. It just has to have that IT factor. It catches on. The trick for a PR is to identify WHAT will make it sell, and then exploit that. For Roberts, it’s the fact that he writes excellent stories. For Chris Keys, it was an eye for detail. Terry Irving has a unique way of writing. It’s different for everybody. All books aren’t born equal. A good PR realises that each book will have weaknesses, and people will pick on that. You just have to work hard to make sure the good stuff gets to the majority of people.

Q) What do you do that other PR services don’t do?

A) Nothing. I just do it with class, and I don’t make people take out mortgages to hire me. I don’t tell them that they will sell a million copies, either. I do what I can, and when the magic elves help me—it clicks! Don’t believe the hype when a PR agency tells you that if you spend ten thousand dollars you will have a hit. You probably won’t. A hit shouldn’t cost any more than time, patience, hard work and working with a professional who will charge you professional prices. The problem with the majority of PR services is simple—they don’t get hired that much—so the person who DOES hire them has to pay them a lot of money to make up for it.

Q) How often are you hired?

A) All the time! Results, a good eye for clients, a good list of authors, strong candidates for hit novels keep me in that magic thing called work. A good reputation helps. I think the biggest factor is that I just bring in the results—be it sales, strong interviews, opportunities, chart placings—whatever. I just bring them in.

Q) What should people look for in a PR?

A) Someone new, someone who doesn’t give you a spiel about how rich and successful they are. I was told by a great friend of mine, Jacob Singer, who is a top stock market analyst, “If you are told by someone that they have the tips to make you a million dollars—ask yourself—why aren’t they using them themselves?” That has always stuck with me. If someone is telling you how successful they are, question it. Look for evidence. I always try to tell my clients that anyone promising a number one tomorrow is lying through their teeth. Number ones take time.

Q) You are a conservative guy by nature, aren’t you?

A) Totally. I never rush into anything because that’s a good way to end up broke. I don’t rush, I don’t take people’s word for anything. I look at what they have done. I look at what they have achieved and where they are headed. I try to follow the example of a writer and businessman named Tom Blubaugh. Tom is a genius, but he never rushes into anything. He makes good decisions, and he makes them after giving them a lot of thought. I try to do the same. I ask myself, “Is this good for my business?” “Is this good for me?” and most importantly “Do I need this stress?”

Q) Did you get coached in the art of business?

A) No, not really. I just copied off successful people I know. I tried to see what worked for them. I worked for a writer called Mike Trahan, he was another guy who never rushed into anything. You had to explain things through and through. No funny business. Guess what? I took that to heart, and now I ask more questions than my clients. You can’t leave anything to chance.

Q) So, I guess you made mistakes, too?

A) Sure! I have passed up some great manuscripts. I have lost business through making mistakes. I have screwed up interviews. The important thing is that I got back up and tried again and again. I learnt from my mistakes, and that is what’s important. If something doesn’t work with your promotion—give it another shot! Try something else! Do anything, but don’t sit on your fanny wondering where it all went!

Q) How should people begin their promotional efforts?

A) Look at a budget. Look at what you can afford, and then look at what will sell your book best. Will it be a Facebook ad that will get you a new audience? Will you spend advertising money on your Facebook page? Will you buy an auto-tweeting client? Will you hire a PR? What will your budget allow you to do? Then look at where the market is… Are thrillers selling? Are memoirs? What is number one on Amazon? What does your book has that makes it stand out? Who are you? Do you havepersonality? What are your past experiences? Were you in the Service? You need to look at every angle. I will explain why.

The reason you need to look at every angle is simple. You need to know what groups you can join, military writers groups—for example. If you join one of these groups to promote your book—you will be more likely to be accepted if you have a military-themed book or background. You need to look at who you are and what you have to offer.

Q) What would you do with Joe Bloggs aged twenty-six with no job, a loan to pay for your services and a book about skateboarding?

A) I would get Joe on the youth groups, skateboarding groups. I would have him on webinars talking about skateboarding. He would be promoting his book the old fashioned way—with personality to an audience that wants to hear about his work. Not just spammed links all over the Internet. Joe would also be running a sample book; he would have professional interviews and double interviews with relevant people. Joe would be busy—too busy to remember that he has no job.

Q) Do you really think “spamming” is a bad idea?

A) Yes. It’s a bad idea all around because it ruins your reputation. You only get one reputation—bestselling writer or spammer? Your choice.

Q) How can you account for the success of “Reprisal! The Eagle Rises”?

A) I can’t. The readers can. Cliff Roberts and I have no idea why it took—we just did the right things. We promoted it the old fashioned wayand now it’s roaming around the top echelon of Amazon. Why did it hit? Where to flies go in winter? What happened to perms? Nobody knows, and frankly, nobody cares. You just have to do the right things to make the hits happen. Seriously, analyse yourself, your book and look where it will sell. Get yourself professional interviews, professional representation and exploit your books strengths. That’s how the magic happens. It worked for Lloyd Tackitt. I helped move 2900 of his books in one month. It happened for J.W. Northrup when his short stories went wild with sales. It happened for Cliff Roberts when he broke the top twenty on Amazon. It happened for Carol Bond. It can happen for you.

Q) Last question—where can people contact you?

A) Get to me via email at Nicholas.Wale (@) hotmail.co.uk or you can write to me at Nick (@) nickwale.org. You can also find me at my website www.nickwale.org . It will be a lot of fun meeting you!

Going, Going, Gone… Lloyd Tackitt

Lloyd Tackitt has a way about him. Everytime you talk to him, he has sold more and more books. You have to keep careful track of where his sales are. Multi-bestseller? Multi-MULTI-bestseller? I caught Lloyd for a few moments to reflect on the self-publishing business. It’s a brand new world– a creative hot spot where anything can happen. Guys like myself believe that there are no rules with this brand new landscape we call self-publishing. Lloyd agrees, and look what happened to him! The “Distant Eden” series has made him one of the best known self-published authors around with sales that would make a traditionally published company jealous. Let’s go pump him for information.

Q) I am told by many writers that you have to be talented to write worth a damn. Do you believe you have to have “talent” to be a writer? 

A)  Some talent I think might be required.  But there is a lot of craft to writing that can be learned.  The talent part is probably mostly in believing that you can create a good story, one that will keep the pages turning.  If you believe that, then I think you may have enough talent.  The craft part is like learning any skill–study and practice, study more and practice more.  Read a lot, a whole lot.  You learn from every book you read.  I believe a lot more people can write than are writing.  Hopefully they’ll give it a try. We all need more books to read.

Q) If you could have either high sales or be highly respected—which would you pick? 

A) That’s a hard question, hits me right in the ego.  Sales are a sign of respect, maybe?  The biggest thrill is when I get emails from readers that tell me they have recommended my book to someone else.  That’s as good as it can get right there.  If they liked it enough to encourage someone else to read it, all I can say is Wow!  That’s ultra cool, and it increases sales, too.  I love getting emails from readers and respond to all of them as soon as I can.

Q) You are a keen fisherman, you have an active life. Why writing? Is that just another addiction you have to feed? 

A) It must be, I keep doing itand it feels great when I’m on a roll.  Funny thing about writing…you know how when you’re reading you are transported into the story?  The same thing happens when I write; I get transported right into the story in the same way.  All of a sudden I’m not sitting in front of a computer tapping on a keyboard– I’m walking through the forest, hearing the sounds of birds and squirrels and smelling the pine scent. I hear the crunching of leaves with every step I take, feel a twig snap under my foot.  I’m there in a way that is as real as it can be.  I’m not aware that I’m typing. I’m setting a trap or stalking a deer, or sitting at a scarred old kitchen table deep in conversation with a cup of steaming coffee in front of me.  I can smell that coffee, raise the cup and take a sip, feel the heat and savor the taste.  I see my companion’s face, a face I’ve known for years.  His eyes are real and alert, there isamusement in those eyes.  I know his expressions, can tell exactly what he’s thinking as I’m talking to him.   Writing is great fun because it is a transcendental experience.  Later, when I’m rewriting and editing, it’s different. Fun in its own way though.

Q) I am told everyday that the writing world is overcrowded. Do you believe that?

A) Crowded?  Not a chance, there’s more than enough room for everyone willing to take a chance on failing in a very public way.  We need more writers, far more writers – who knows how many great books are bottled up in people’s minds right now – books I want to read.  There are literally billions of readers around the world so even if one in every ten people wrote a book there’s not just room but a welcome for them.

Q) You have built a successful career from self-publishing. What are your true feelings about the self pubbing trend? Do you believe, as I do, that is it is a new era,new idea and a whole new landscape for people to be creative with?

A) I do. There are so many people that have been liberated by self-publishing it’s incredible.  This is an awesome era to be in where you can write and get published without having to kow-tow at the gates of the traditional publishing houses.  My books would probably never have been published by the traditional method–they cross genres and the bookstores would have a hard time pigeon-holing them into one category–so the traditionals likely wouldn’t have been interested.  They are driven by a very tight and immutable marketing plan, and they don’t take chances.

 Q) Do those, big, hard-to-publish-with, giant publishing houses really know what will hit?

A) In some ways, yes.  They have a time-tested method of selecting and marketing books.  But they are limited by that system, they miss great books every day because the books don’t fit their formula.  Imagine if other artists were constrained that way, how many masterpieces would have been lost to us? Imagine if every painting had to be approved by a committee before the public could see it?  How many great works of art were out of sync with the  current culturally accepted modes?  If those works had been quashed would Dali’s works have ever seen the light of day?  The traditional publishers are going the way the slide rule manufacturers went when the first pocket calculators came out.  They are dying, struggling to survive, but dying.  And good riddance – they have already quashed millions of great books, books we’ll never get to read, and it’s our loss.

Q) It’s a trend right now to ignore the editor. Do you believe in a good editor for a good book? 

A) Absolutely, yes.  I work my manuscripts over and over and over before I send them to an editor.  And they still come back with so much red ink they look like someone was murdered on top of them.  Most of the edit suggestions I get back are very good, very sound.  Even then, with professional editing, mistakes still slip through.  Even the traditionally published books have errors in them.  I recommend to every writer to definitely get a good editor and pay them to do a professional edit.  They don’t have the blinders on that I get when I’ve written something. They see it objectively and call it like it is.

Q) How do you feel about your upcoming worldwide live interview?

A) Nervous! Seriously, I can’t wait to see what the world makes of Lloyd Tackitt.

You can find out more about Lloyd here and here!

Find Lloyd’s author page here!

Don’t forget a copy of Lloyd’s latest bestselling novel “Eden’s Warriors” today!

I’m Serious About Helping You: Tom Ufert Profiled

I wanted to interview Tom Ufert by himself as fan mail told me that his first interview with Cliff Roberts was probably the most successful interview I have ever been a part of. The hits were numerous, and many people thought Tom couldn’t beat that. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to take part in a webinar that took Tom to a brand new audience. Huge audience figures show that Tom is here to stay. A hit book, a hit personality, a bona-fide star of the book world.

 

Tom Ufert has struggled and beaten several disabilities that people believe should have confined him to a mood of misery. He has suffered with addictions, blown away his problems and is now proudly promoting his self-help guide “Adversity Builds Character”.

 

Q) Tom, I wanted to ask you, how do your disabilities define your daily routine? How do you manage to get so much done?

 

A) So much done? (Laughs) That’s a laugh! I don’t feel I get enough done. When I was at the height of my college/political/arts career, I was the editor in chief of my college newspaper, chapter president/state province rep for my fraternity, attended fifteen hours of classes, worked about thirty-five hours a week, was chairman of my College Republican chapter, on the alumni boards for my HS and college, was speakers chairman for college student government, was the youngest member of my state GOP central committee, consulted for political campaigns, raised money for the local summer music festival, and had an active social life. This seems dull in comparison to that!

 

Q) Your disabilities have caused you to slow down? You seem to get more done now than most people who are fully-bodied.

 

A) My disabilities definitely have forced me to slow downand many times inflict fatigue on my body. I guess having a pretty set routine has made getting anything done a practical reality. 6-8 hours of sleep is a must, and I have to remind myself to eat. Having a supportive partner, relatively strong upper body strength allowing for independent transfers, a determined will to do as much for myself as possible, and a state-funded home health aide to assist with daily household chores are all God sends.

 

Q) I’m sure they are! Okay, let me jump in with something I wanted to ask you. You were heavily involved in the ’80s “mad men” era of politics, Reagan and super economics. What is the difference between being involved in the politics game and just watching the politics game?

 

A) It’s the difference between being inside politics and watching from the side-lines. That’s a huge difference. I have actually run state-wide political youth campaigns for major Senatorial and Gubernatorial candidates where being able to juggle whole legions of volunteers in several locals, going door-to-door soliciting voter support, organizing rallies and candidate appearances, attending major conventions, maintaining huge letter writing efforts and dealing personally with media coverage was a daily routine and had no set time schedule. You could be called on at any time of the day or night!

 

Q) Do you keep yourself involved in current events through TV? Personal contacts? 

 

A) I have to settle with keeping myself abreast of current events via the media. I can no longer pick up the phone or leap into a car to deal with the immediate crisis of the day. Many times, I no longer feel the “informed expert” of local, national, or international political events. Sure, my gift of reasonable intelligence and past insider experience provide me with a credible understanding of the political process and its veiled realities. However, like any profession, inactivity results in a loss of connections and relevant facts that are often privy only to a select few.

 

Q) So, for a million dollars, how have your experiences in the political world helped your writing career?

 

A) My education provided me with a rather extensive knowledge of reading and writing.

 

My political experience definitely has made me very much at ease with public speaking, interviews, and the all-important skill of the personal touch that is so valuable in building rapport. This was also the case in approaching my self-publisher, IUniverse, and Barnes and Noble. I’m not intimidated by executive corporate titles or low level functionaries/bureaucrats whose primary responsibility is to protect the corporate structure from relatively unknown entities such as myself. I have no problems looking up the phone number for a corporate HQ, calling in, and working my way thru the bureaucracy until I find the individual empowered to solve my problem. Then, I introduce myself, make my pitch, gain their trust/respect, and ingratiate myself with them to the point where they feel the unquenchable urge to join my cause as a dedicated supporter.

 

Q) You are quite the troubleshooter…

 

A) Well, I coined the phrase, “Who you know gets you in the door. What you know keeps you there!” My past experiences in dealing with notable personalities, corporate CEOs, the press, managing large reams of information, and being able to multitask or compartmentalize my activities has greatly aided me in understanding how to market and promote my book.

 

Q) Your genie pops out of the bottle and asks what you desire as a writer. What do you choose, Tom Ufert?

 

A) I want to inspire others coping with adversity to the point where they no longer feel helpless. Like me, they too can overcome, rise like a phoenix from the ashes, and become true icons of the human spirit. I want people to scream with all their might that they are never surrendering! In turn, their achievements can be focused outward to help others; and perhaps, over time, an unstoppable movement of noble humanity can reverse the present trends of caustic selfishness and global destruction. I know it sounds naive, but I can’t help striving to march ever onward in my short lifetime down the “road less taken” towards a better world!

 

Q) You quoted Robert Frost there… What isinspiration to you, Tom?

 

A) That’s a tough one. I think for everyone inspiration is comes in different forms and appearances. However, regardless of the form it takes or the mode of delivery (music, literature, spoken word, visual art, shared life experiences, etc…), I think inspiration is anything that drives us to be better than what we are and give more than we ever thought we could. Inspiration is that which lifts us to a higher plane of accomplishment. It doesn’t have to be stupendous or even spectacular. It just has to bring us in touch with who we dare to become!

 

Q) You have a quote book coming out soon. You obviously want to inspire people to do what they can to live their lives. Who inspired you?

 

A) There are many people who inspire me. Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Popes John Paul II & Francis I, and Jesus Christ are just a few historical figures that inspire me. But the boy who gets up after being bullied and walks away with his head held high and smiling inspires me most of all.

 

Q) Thank you for your time, Tom.

 

A) Anytime, Nick. You can count on me—just remember—I don’t stand for handicap jokes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Join Tom on a journey through his life right here!

Creepy Writer? Not Alex Laybourne!

What is Horror? Let’s forget about the dictionary definition here. I will ask you again. What is Horror? What makes us scared? What scares you the most? What is your personal horror? Let me ask you this– what would you be most terrified of? It’s a dark nightand you are walking home from work. The wind is shaking the trees, and birds are calling. It is darkening further every second. You feel someone walking behind you; you can hear them breathing in the darkness. You break into a run and turn the street corner. You see your house straight ahead. You see the lights burning out into the darkness. Your chest pounds from the pain of prolonged exercise. You throw yourself through the gate, through the door. You are safe.

Horror could be a fear of the unknown? You will never know what was behind you, what was breathing?

Enter Alex Laybourne, writer. The man who brings horror to your neighbourhood.

Mr Laybourne, or Alex to his friends, at home with the family. Alex likes to relax with his wife and kids as much as he can.

Q) So, Alex, you have written several books most notably “Highway to Hell.” You have also written interviews and promotional materials. What do you think you are achieving as a writer?

A) That is a tough one to start with! I would like to think that I am starting to achieve a base level of understanding with regards to how the industry works. More than that is just wishful thinking. I’m selling a few books, but not enough. I am learning the basics of promotion, but do not do enough for myself. I have ten bodies of work available and would like to bring another few out before the year end, but, titles a writer does not make. I have yet to begin to define myself as a writer or as an artist.

Q) But you are growing as a promoter–you are learning the tricks. Would you saypromotion is important to you?

A) Promotion to me is an extension of being a writer. I think too many people, especially when starting out, think that the two are mutually exclusive, when in reality they are one and the same. Promotion is generating interest in you as an artist and in your work. To increase interest, you need more work. So you see, in my mind, writing is promotion, and promotion is writing. Running a website and blogging comes down to writing.

Q) So, which is more important to you? Writing or promotion? Businessman or artist?

A) Promotion is interest, it is about working for each and every sale. Not a mass spree of purchases or a big campaign that draws a lot of attention, it is about every single sale as a single event. I am of the firm belief that every sale is a triumph, for it only takes one sale to create a groundswell. One person to read or see your book and mention it to a friend and momentum is suddenly gained. I have ten items available for sale–nine of them are short stories, chapter books if you will, that when put together form one novel. I guess I have promoted them the heaviest, but more due to their numbers than anything else. When my novel Highway to Hell came out, I promoted it like crazy. I went a bit tweet-happy for a while. I spammed a little you could say. I learned my lesson and reeled myself in.

Q) Highway to Hell is an important book to you, correct? What’s the deal with that one?

A) Highway to Hell was my debut novel, and the first in a trilogy of novels. It is a good, old-fashioned horror novel. Inspired by Dante’s Inferno and the writing talents of Stephen King and Clive Barker, it chronicles the journey of six strangers who die at the start of the novel and find themselves unjustly sent to Hell.

The first half of the novel is not for the faint hearted. The novel sets up the story for the second instalment, which actually comes out in the next few weeks; however, when viewed on its own, it is a novel about sin and forgiveness.

Q) Do you think that there’s still a market for the kind of horror you write? Traditional horror?

A) I think there always has been, it’s just rebranded as thriller. Thrillers are easier to sell, and over time, horror,real horror, got edged out by what I call torture porn. It started in movies, thanks to films like Saw, and the reputation of horror soon spread. Horror is the greatest genre, because it gives complete freedom. There are no constraints in horror, or at least, there shouldn’t be. As a writer, I see an image in my head and describe it in words. There are taboos, there are rules and lines drawn in the sand, which I will cross and leave for dust if they help me tell my story. That is the difference between what you call ‘old-fashioned horror’ and the current crop. Torture porn breaks taboos for the sake of it, not because the story or the vision requires it.

Q) You mentioned “Torture Porn” back there in your last answer. Would you ever write that kind of horror fiction?

A) No, I would not. I would write body horror, and I have done so in the Highway to Hell series, but it is all for a point–for a vision other than for the simple need to show naked women and blood.

Clive Barker is my idol when it comes to horror. His visions and the epic scope of his imagination are frightening. He is not afraid. He writes and makes his art. That is what I hope to emulate, but it is a far cry from torture porn.

Q) Many people say that horror is only a small part of the fiction market. What do you think of that statement?

A) Horror is everywhere and can be incorporated into everything. In what other type of fiction can you allow your imagination to run wild. You can create a decadent word filled with romance and lust, and with a few tweaks, turn it into a nightmare, a place of terror. You can utilize everything at any time. Withhorror, the only limit is you, the writer. So, to answer your question, there are limitless forms of horror writing, and at the same time, only one: horror.

Q) Do you think that readers sometimes go for what they can understand, rather than what writers may call “great writing”?

A) Yes, I think that there are some great stories out there that are overlooked because they are too intense. I view writing as art, and art is something that does not need to be explained. It is there to inspire, to captivate and to invoke all manner of feelings and reactions. The artist him or herself are the only ones who ever need to know the true meaning behind their work.

Q) I have one final question. A biggie. What is horror? Can you define it for me?

A) Horror is unique. It is something, some part of us that we all have. It is a memory, a notion, a concept; it is a fear.

The real question is what does horror do?

Whathorror does is capitalize on that specific entity within each person and magnifies it. It twists it and turns it into something bigger and badder. To quantify horror is impossible. The closest I could come would actually be IT by Stephen King. The monster not the book – as great as it is. If you look into it, there is an entire mythos behind IT, and that is what horror is in my book.

It has no form, yet is everything; it is everywherebut we never see it, not truly. Horror is what happens in the corner of our eyes, in that instant when we blink. Horror doesn’t lurk in the shadows as many people think. It is broad daylight, it is all around us, waiting.

Horror is the best thing in the world because deep down, everybody likes to be scared.

Check out “Highway to Hell” by Alex Laybourne today for a creeplicious tale!

 

Cliff Roberts Meet Tom Ufert!

Cliff Roberts is a man accustomed to the public eye. He was a politician, a CEO, a businessman and a police commissioner. Now, retired, disabled and contented, he writes. He is a novelist.

 Tom Ufert, politician, world traveler, charity fundraiser and writer has met his own struggles with addiction, sexuality, illness and has turned them into strengths.

You don’t need to pity these guys, you can LEARN from them…

Chris Keys1

Cliff Roberts, a man at home with his family.

 

Nick: Thank you for attending this interview, guys. Cliff Roberts, meet Tom Ufert.

 

Tom: Thank you, Nick. It’s great to meet you, Cliff.

 

Cliff: Likewise, thank you for inviting me to be apart of this wonderful summit.

 

Nick: Now, you are both ex- politicians, correct?

 

Cliff: I claimed to be reformed.

 

Tom: Yes, EX. I recovered my brain and conscience.

 

Nick: Okay- no politics. Let me start with you, Cliff. You were a successful businessman, a wealthy politician, and you have run major companies in your time. Now, you are disabled, living in Tennessee, and you write. How do you feel about that?

 

Cliff: Being disabled sucks after having been a very active sportsman most my life, but I can’t just sit around whining, so I took up my first lover–writing.

 

Tom: Amen

 

Cliff: I know people who have just turned off and now just sit waiting to die, but I ‘ve never been that type.

 

Nick: Tom, you have a similar outlook. You struggle with several disabilities, and you have never given up. Do you think the time was right for you to write a book?

 

Tom: Well, I think that with the world in its present state of affairs, people need to be reminded that things can get a lot worse…we all need to be aware that adversity is part of life, and only your will to NEVER SURRENDER will keep one afloat.

 

Nick: You are a true inspiration, Tom. Cliff, do you think you are defying the way disabled people are usually perceived by many people out there? You seem to be throwing off the pity and striving for greatness, as you always

Tom Ufert, a man in thought.

have.

 

Cliff: I would like to say that I, like Tom, believe the same. I read the blurb on Tom‘s site about adversity making you stronger and it’s true. Every challenge changes you. It can be for the better or the worse, it’s up to you. That is exactly how I felt when I became disabled. It was just another challenge for me to overcome. I think too many people believe that disabled means unskilled, incompetent and unable to think and do anything. I may need an editor, but I’ll tell you a story you won’t be able to put down or forget easily.

 

Tom: RIGHT ON, CLIFF!

 

Nick: That was powerful, you really hit home there, Cliff. Tom, as a guy who suffers with HIV and MS, have you been faced with similar prejudices to Cliff?

 

Tom: Oh, yes! I prefer the PC term ‘physically challenged,’ Nick. I can tell you though one thing is for sure, being in a wheelchair means I don’t have to replace my shoes as often!

 

Nick: Do you two realise how inspirational you both are? You must realise that people can learn so much from your experiences.

 

Cliff: I don’t know about myself; he’s in a chair, I’ve hopefully got a few years before I’ll need one most of the time. I just try to do all I can and avoid getting down about it. You just have to keep plodding on and making the best of situations.

 

Tom: People need to remember we may not have all our physical attributes, but we’ve still got our minds. Take me–I have only use of three fingers on hand, two on the other, but can keep up with most typing fifty words a minute; plus, with modern technology like Dragon voice activated programs I can write damn well. What I do isn’t amazing; it’s just adjusting to what life has thrown at me, and I keep moving on forward. I try to inspire others to live life rather than just survive it! That’s my aim.

 

“I TRY TO INSPIRE OTHERS TO LIVE LIFE RATHER THAN JUST SURVIVE IT!” ~ Author Tom Ufert

 

Cliff: I never felt that I was anyone special having overcome my challenges until a local newspaper writer interviewed me and he claimed I was the most inspiring person he’d met in twenty years of writing his column. I should have been in a home several times I guess, but I refuse to quit. It’s just as Tom said, people think because your body is broken, your mind doesn’t work. As long as I can think I’ll keep doing all I can to reinvent myself as I need to. But writing is totally freeing. I can do the things that I’ve always wantedbut never was able to even if it’s just in my mind.

 

“Just remember, I don’t stand for handicap jokes…” Tom explains with a smile.

Nick: I think you are right, Cliff. Okay, Tom, your book “Adversity Builds Character” tells of your life and struggles. What do you think was the hardest obstacle you faced?

 

Tom: The will to live and make the world a better place is what keeps me going. For me, the greatest obstacle was having all three disabilities—MS, an incomplete spinal fracture, and HIV. Divine inspiration and a whole group of support covering my back kept me going. My ability to inspire others to help the less fortunate is the drive that spurs me on every day.

 

Nick: So inspiring. Cliff, let me ask, did you ever believe that you would be writing a book, at what could be described as the lowest ebb of  your life?

 

Cliff: No, I never considered it when I was able to function. I  was always looking for the next business opportunity and trying to build my world financially. I fought the changing of my body as long as I could without even thinking about whether it might be something other than getting old. Then one day, the doctors said I should stop and focus on living because what years I had left were going to be a struggle. To me, writing was just that thing I had tried when I was a kid in college. Now that I’ve got several books done, I can’t imagine not having written all along. I should have, but life got in the way.

 

Nick: Tom, if you were still fit and healthy, do you think you would have written the book?

 

Tom: I’m not sure, but writing about the other adversities–struggling with my sexual identity, drug/alcohol/sex addictions, my mother’s tragic death, being sexually abused as a child, being “adopted”,etc…certainly was a cathartic experience, and I can only hope my insights help others. I am enjoying writing, and with three additional books planned, I think it’s become a new niche to mark my place in the tapestry of humanity.

 

Cliff: Tom, will all the books be in the same vein, the same inspirational memoir genre?

 

Tom: Actually, no, Cliff. My second will– it’s a sequel to my first book “Adversity Builds Character.” The third book will be a kind of unique travelogue about my year studying in Australia, while the fourth is this a kind of philosophical text utilizing texting acronyms to guide people in our modern age.

 

Cliff: I’ll look out for them. I am really enjoying this interview, guys.

 

Tom: I am, too. My memoir was inspired by my godmother/grandmother who suggested my story could really help others. If I could survive all this in just thirty-four years of life, then others can survive their life struggles, too.

 

Cliff: Your website showed that you’re quite the world traveller with book signings and such all over the Far East. Have you considered motivational speaking?

 

Tom: Actually, my book is going to the Far East. I’m not. I’ve only travelled to Canada and Australia. I am, however, still young, and I am ready to travel anywhere to get this book to those who need help. I am working with my team to get a speaking career rolling. Do you know, Cliff? When I visited Australia, I gave twenty-six speeches, and I kept on speaking right through my political career. I have always enjoyed speaking in public.

 

Cliff: I know the feeling. I gave more speeches as a politician than I can even remember. I think it becomes second nature at some point. Your writing is inspiring, and you write very well. Nick, I am sure, is just sitting back relaxing as we do all the conversation.

 

Tom: Politics, the gift of the gab, not knowing when to keep quiet. Do you think your first book “Reprisal!” is your best?

 

Cliff:  No, I don’t think it is my best. My style of writing has improved from the blunt force approach that is “Reprisal! The Eagle Rises” into the books that I’ll be releasing as we go forward that are more subtle with better flow in the intrigue; but having said that, I firmly believe that “Reprisal!” is just as good as any action thriller you’ll read by anyone.

 

Tom: I have added “Reprisal!” to my reading list! They strike me as similar to other action thrillers I like in James Patterson’s style.

 

Nick: Cliff, do you think people will take to ‘Reprisal!’ in the same way they took to you as a politician?

 

Cliff: I hope they do. I won my election with a landslide victory!

 

Nick: Tom, what do you think makes your life fulfilling?

 

Tom: Community involvement. My adopted family and Jesuit educators stressed that. I have to say that family and friends are vital, but for me, sitting around and being complacent is a sin. I love contributing to my community, my nation, my world, and my species. In my opinion, it’s kind of what God had in mind when he made man in His image. Otherwise we’re just another animal struggling to survive which doesn’t live up to the higher power of human capabilities like Einstein, Motzart, DaVinci, and Christ Himself.

 

Cliff: NEVER QUIT!

 

When things go wrong as they sometimes will
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When life is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit!

Life is queer with it twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.

Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,
It’s when things seem worse,
That you must not quit!

~Unknown

 

 

Tom: Beautiful prose, Cliff.

 

 

Cliff: Thank you, Tom.

 

 

 

Cliff Roberts first published work is called “Reprisal! The Eagle Rises.” You can get this great book here!

 Tom Ufert‘s first book is called “Adversity Builds Character” and tells an important story. How did Tom overcome the traumas, trials and troubles he faced in life? How did he survive? You can get his book right now, right here!