Tom is an author I've recently become acquainted with, and I'm happy to have him on the blog today to share a bit about himself, and his book Night Of The Cossack!
Welcome, Tom! Tell us about yourself.
I’m a very transparent person. I have no secrets about myself. I’ve lived a tough life having been sexually abused when I was twelve years old. I was out of control and a felon by time I was fifteen—I had been stripped of any trust or respect for authority, including God, although I was afraid of Him. Fortunately, I joined the Navy for four years and they had boundaries I knew better than to cross. The Lord revealed Himself to me when I was twenty-eight and I became a Christian. My life has been on an upward path from that day—Dec. 13, 1970. All of these are reasons why I direct my writing toward the YA genre. I didn’t plan to write to this genre in the beginning, it seems to be a subconscious thing.
That's great to see how God used that terrible time in your life for good!
You’ve been a speaker for more than twenty-five years. What sparked your writing journey?
Although I was a speaker, I was writing along the way. I had some articles published in company and denomination magazines. I self-published a book back in the mid 70’s. Nonfiction writing has always been a part of my adult life.
Tell us when did you first know that you would be an author?
This is an interesting question. I didn’t know I would be one—really. I’ve been a writer for over 50 years (can it really be half of a century?), but it wasn’t until my unintentional novel was published that I knew I was an author. I say unintentional because it wasn’t my intent to write a novel. I was creating a heritage for my children and grandchildren since both my grandfathers died before I was born. I was simply taking a handful of facts about my maternal grandfather and was creating his character.
What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
What makes it unique actually works against me in determining the genre. Years ago I heard that if a speaker talks to a ten year old, she’ll reach the whole audience. I never forgot this. When I was in business I used to use concepts to show people what I was saying rather than try to educate them with technical language. I was also told in an English Comp. class to write like I talk. Night of the Cossack is classified by most—a YA novel. I consider it historical fiction. I had readers from 12 to 86 read and enjoy it—more adults than YA’s by far. It frustrated me that it is considered YA because I was afraid adults wouldn’t read it. I still have that fear.
What is the best writing (or life) advice you have ever heard or wished you had followed? Why?
Join a critique group. This scared me. I never took criticism well. I found out that the group I joined were caring and sensitive. Most of them were published in one form or another and their goal was to see me published. I love having my writing critiqued now. It’s healthy and I’ve learned so much.
What have you published and what is your current project?
I self-published a book in 1974 for my ministry, Behind the Scenes in the Bus Ministry. I also wrote some articles for denomination magazines and a business magazine. In 2009 I co-wrote a devotional journal for Barbour Publishing under contract. On April 6th, my first attempt at fiction, Night of the Cossack, was published by Bound by Faith Publishers. At this time, I’m working hard at marketing my name and book and trying to enjoy some of the summer since I missed summer last year due to writing. In the fall I’ll continue with a sequel to my novel. I also have some children’s books in my mix.
Let’s talk about your debut novel, Night of the Cossack (Bound by Faith Publishers, April 2011). Please tell us a little about it.
This is my first work of fiction, which took me five years to write. I have found writing fiction is much more difficult than writing nonfiction. It’s a story about a 16 year old who is kidnapped by a Cossack soldier in 1898 and is forced to be a Cossack himself.
What is a Cossack?
Cossacks were members of several peasant groups of Russian and Polish descent. They lived in autonomous communal settlements, especially in the Ukraine, until the early 20th century. In return for special privileges, they served in the cavalry under the czars. They were well known for their horsemanship. They raided villages for supplies, women and young men to increase or replenish their ranks. Eventually they became a part of the Russian army.
Where do your story and character ideas come from?
From my life, for the most part. One day I was out working in the yard and Barbara, my wife, called me to the phone. It was one of our granddaughters with a question. I answered her and I went back to work in the yard. Within forty-five minutes, in my mind, I wrote a children’s story based on her question and my answer. I distributed the story to all of our grandchildren for Christmas. I has become a part of my legacy never to be forgotten. Another time, our newly acquired black cat got into the duct work in our house and provided me with another children’s story—in fact, probably a series. Our minds are awesome creations.
In my newly released historical novel, the protagonist is based on my maternal grandfather. The rest of the characters are figments of my imagination.
Have you received a particularly memorable reader response or peer honor? Please share.
Two, in fact. I received a letter from a twelve year old boy who told me he read Night of the Cossack in one sitting and that it was the best book he ever read. Later, his mother put a review on amazon.com stating that her son raved so much about the book that she decided she better read it and gave me an outstanding five star review. I also received a letter from an eighty-six year old woman who is Jewish. She said she thoroughly enjoyed the book, but wept through a lot of it thinking about her own ancestors. Both touched my heart.
What do you enjoy most about being a published author?
Everything, but I know that’s too broad of an answer. Most of all I like the open door I have into middle and high schools to talk to young people who are interested in writing. I’m very transparent about my teen years in hopes I’m speaking to someone like I was so they know making a mistake doesn’t have to ruin their life. Next, the challenge of marketing and the fellowship with other authors and writers.
Tell us about your future projects?
I’m thinking about that now. Everyone who has read my novel asks about a sequel. I’ve taken the summer off because I missed last summer due to my writing. However, I’m still missing the summer because of heat—107 degrees today. I will continue building my author platform. I enjoy public speaking so I’m working with elementary, middle and high school creative writing groups and classes. When it turns cold, I’ll stay in my office and probably work on the sequel.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
There are several things I could say about writing, but if you want your book read by readers other than your friends and family, work diligently a build a platform. Not after you’ve written your manuscript, but from the very beginning. People need to know who you are before they will want to read what you have written.
How can readers find the book and where can they find you on the Internet?
At the present time, if you do a Google search for Tom Blubaugh, nearly 90,000 results show up. This is hard for me to believe with my last name seemingly not that common. Not all of are me. One in particular was recently convicted of fraud—definitely not me.
I can be found at http://tomblubaugh.com . http://nightofthecossack.com also feeds into my site. I’m on Facebook here and here . I can also be found on Twitter @tomblubaugh and I have a blog. My book is available on my site, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
A critique group made a major difference in me as a writer. They were kind and very helpful and encouraged me to write seriously.
Tom Blubaugh is a freelance writer living in Southwest Missouri with Barbara, his wife. They have six children and fourteen grandchildren. Tom has written non-fiction most of his adult life, but has recently written a historical fiction titled Night of the Cossack, published by Bound by Faith Publishers. This is Tom’s first novel. He co-wrote a devotional journal in 2009 for Barbour Publishing titled The Great Adventure. His other writings include articles for a denominational magazine and an insurance publication. He also self-published a book, Behind the Scenes of the Bus Ministry in 1974.
Tom started writing poetry at the age of fourteen. His vision of turning them into lyrics for rock and roll songs for popular artists didn’t develop. He considers writing to be a God-given talent and feels led to develop it. His first novel was published at his age of 69. Tom says it’s never too late. He is now writing a sequel.
Tom spent twelve years as an insurance agent and eleven years as a financial planner. He is the past president of Jericho Commission, Inc., and still serves on the board of directors.