1. Before we start talking about your book, why don’t you tell everybody a little bit about yourself?
Well I'm a 47 year old that has survived over nearly 21 years with 3 disabilities-MS, an incomplete spinal fracture at C5-C6, and HIV. I've spent most of life interested in and working the political sphere as well as community affairs. I have a double BA in Political Science & History from Centenary College of Louisiana, with 1 year graduate post graduate studies in East Asian political affairs from Australian National Univ. where I attended as a Rotary Int'l Fellow. I also served as an LBJ Congressional intern, was a White House Fellow Nominee, have served on 11 political campaigns and three 501(c)3 boards of directors, and was the youngest artistic board chairman in the U.S. at age 23. I love to read, write, ride horseback, fund raise for worthy causes, enjoy a wide variety of music, my favorite food is shrimp, have 3 dogs and 3 cats. This year will mark the 13th anniversary of my partnership with the love of my life. I've lived thru 5 divorces in my immediate two families-biological and "adopted", saved my mom from suicide at age 10 and lost her nine years later when she was the victim of a mercy killing suicide. Presently I'm about to release a book of quotations am diligently working on my second major book, a sequel entitled Crossroads to Character - The Journey Continues.
2. Besides writing, what other things do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I enjoy helping my community through charity fundraising, spend time with my six pets, try my hand at cooking from time to time, like watching movies, try to keep up with current events, and do some traveling in support of a few charities that I try my best to support. Lately I must confess a significant amount of my spare time has been spent exxpanding my social media outreach and trying to promote the inspirational message of my first book, Adversity Builds Character.
3. What is your daily routine as far as when you have an idea for your story?
Sometimes ideas will hit me during the early morning hours and I can't go back to sleep without jotting down some relevant thoughts. I am forever grabbing a scrap sheet of paper or envelope to put down words or phrases that pop into my head as inspired from a song, TV show, conversation, or image that I've recently had the pleasure of experiencing. Many experienced writers have wisely suggested that I keep a journal, but old habits are hard to break. It's not uncommon for me to rush to the computer while "I'm in the zone" and try to write my thoughts into the plot or theme line of my latest writing project.
4. Where do you get your ideas from?
Many of my ideas so far have come from my own life experience. I suppose that's to be expected for someone writing an inspirational memoir. As I alluded to earlier, however, ideas are always being generated from music I listen to, TV/news programs that I watch, or even everyday conversations. In my opinion that is probably typical for many writers. As for style, format, and design several times my final production results have been influenced by the books of my favorite contemporary authors.
5. Out of all of the stories you’ve written so far, what would be your favorite and why?
Well I've only written one book so that answer is easy. However, since beginning my writing career one year ago the numerous blog entries I've created for Where Is John Doe describing the acts of random kindness and humanitarian endeavors to help fellow human beings have been quite rewarding. They kind of extend on my book's theme of helping others in a keen desire to make the world a better place and strive to become the noble beings Good envisioned when making man in His likeness.
6. Tell us something funny about yourself that not a lot of people know about?
Well I love baseball and have since my youth. When I was in seventh grade playing on my school's team for the first time, I had hit a base single and was on 1st base. My teammate next at bat also scored a single and came running towards first base. Seeing that his hit was an infield grounder that was quickly picked up by 2nd baseman, I decided to stand fast on 1st base! To say the least I was bewildered and completely pissed off that because of some silly rule requiring the runners to advance that I was tagged out! It was obvious that as a mere "rookie" to the game I had never properly learned the rules of the game. It just made no sense to me why I was out when my teammate hit the lousy ball that got picked up...I WAS ALREADY SAFE ON BASE. I never made that stupid error again!
7. Does any of the stories you’ve written based on real life experiences or basically just from imagination?
It's obvious that since my one book is a memoir, it is totally based on my own real life experiences. The creative imagination required for fiction seems to elude me, or so I think. Perhaps over time that may change and I'll give some fictional plot a go...maybe something loosely based on a tangent from my own experiences in politics.
8. Does your ‘muse’ have a name and if so what is his/her name?
The muses for my first book were my mom, Gloria Ufert and my godmother/"adopted" grandmother, Joy Campbell. Each greatly inspired me to write Adversity Builds Character because of the influence they played in my life. Throughout the writing process I would consult with Grandma to get her impressions or clarify persons/events portrayed in the book. Since Mom's death in 1985 and Grandma's passing five years ago, I have frequently prayed to them for guidance and protection because I know in my heart that they are the lead angels that captain my flock of guardian angels.
9. What other genre besides the one you are writing about now would you like to venture into writing?
There are future plans for a sort of tourists' travelogue about my year studying in Australia. My intention is to relate my experiences while studying and traveling Down Under plus intermingling personal descriptions from several of my Aussie mates about their particular locales. In addition I am seriously planning an unusual self-help philosophical guide for today's world utilizing some modern social media "techno" terminology as the guideposts for my advice.
10. Who are your favorite authors that are out now?
I really enjoy all of John Grisham's books since court/legal dramas are a favorite pleasure of mine. Other authors such as James Patterson, David Baldacci, Jeffery Archer and Patricia Cornwell all really catch my interest. Mysteries, action thrillers, and political dramas are my real favorites.
11. Who is your favorite female and male characters from your books and why?
Mom and Grandma are naturally my favorite female characters. They definitely made ABC possible and I tried my best to make sure my readers could reach out and touch them through my book. As for male characters, that's a tough one, because so many of those individuals failed to come even close to the phenomenal individuals that those two women were in my life. Perhaps the character "Brandon" comes closest. He for all sense and purposes is the tragic hero of my story because he gave all his love and dedication only to be rejected coldly in the face of infidelity and lust. Ironically he serves the dual role of hero and causal figure. My transformation, though probably inevitable, from small town naivete to corruptible urban ism was greatly influenced/accelerated by his sincerely loving desire to make me happy. No real blame can be laid upon his broad shoulders, for in every instance I had the free will to choose for myself.
12. What do you think is the hardest thing about being a writer?
Walking the very thin and ever strained tightrope between craft and financial compensation. From the very beginning, writers must decide which is more important, quality or quantity, In the end you may very well achieve both, but there is no guarantee that one will lead to the other. Yet ironically, you can rest assured that financial success is highly unlikely without the quality of craft. In the end any aspiring author needs to face the harsh reality that success will never be instantaneous and will only come from hard work and due diligence.
13. What advice would you give someone who wants to start off being a writer?
First off develop yourself THREE major items: 1. a schedule for balancing your time between promoting and writing; 2. create and extensively design your social media platform for outreach and name recognition; 3. gather a small core group of creative talented friends/fans/supporters that will help you with IT, PR, graphic design, editing, and legal issues to become your essential sounding boards. I would not be as far along as I've come in only 1 year were it not for step number 3. Steps 1 & 2 have been realized only after embarking on my writing adventure/career.
14. If you hadn’t become a writer, what do you think you would be doing right now?
That's a really good question. I'm not really sure because writing a book, learning the business along the way, and realizing the incalculable importance of multimedia marketing have definitely given my life a new direction. Before venturing down this glorious and frustrating road, my day to day life was pretty static. This new found career has most assuredly provided my life with a new outlet to make a difference and redirect my public service interests/talents in a way I never imagined. In my opinion writing allows one the opportunity to dramatically extend and expand all that you hope and possess of becoming. At one time, before my physical challenges, I had strong aspirations of becoming a successful political figure. While my adversities did not totally erase my chances of a successful political or public service career, they certainly challenged that likelihood. In the end as Steinbeck wrote, "...the plans of mice and men often go astray." I believe life is full of twists and turns that help us fulfill our destiny, even if it's not the one we originally envisioned.
15. What would be the perfect Romantic getaway?
That's easy...any setting, location, or scenario where I get to spend quality time with the love of my life.
Well now that we got the question and answer out of the way…..why don’t you tell us about your latest story you have out now?
In the coming weeks I'll be releasing Poor Tom's Quotes "On The Roll" a book of personal and selected favorite quotations thatis meant to lighten the heart, inspire the soul, and challenge the mind. At the end will be a selected excerpt chapter from my first book, Adversity Builds Character. My additionalgoal is to finish and release my next major book, a sequel entitled Crossroads to Character - The Journey Continues. I hope also that you and your followers will dome the great honor of following my first world wide blog tour from July 15-26 at https://www.facebook.com/events/590943074260256/?ref=14
Please refer to the links below for additional information about me, the book, and my endeavors.
Jamallah I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your invitation to be a guest on your blog. It's been a great pleasure.
Chapter 4 – Thief In The Night
**** It must’ve been a weekend, for I was home doing something in my room. The washer and dryer were going and Mom was sitting on the sofa watching TV. Her walker was close at hand. Over the last several months her condition had grown worse. The household chores had fallen pretty much in my lap. She did try to help but it was just so frustrating for her and me. Like so many people, I guess, it was just easier for me to do what I could and not ask or expect her to help. Grandpa would mow the yard and make any repairs we required. He and Nanny would help transport me with the groceries from the store. The vacuuming, dishwashing, dusting, laundry, and cooking had become almost routine chores for me. I tried hard, but at age nine a child doesn’t have the experience or knowledge to do these things first rate.
In addition Mom needed my assistance. There were times when she was unable to reach the bathroom or even make it out of bed in time to perform normal bodily functions. For the person who is ill, urinating and defecating on oneself is bad enough; having to ask someone else to clean you, especially your nine year old son, is perhaps the most humiliating experience for our so fragile egos. There was never a time that I helped Mom with this that she didn’t cry. For the loved one helping, the experience is both humbling and demoralizing. You want to help because you love them; you know they want to do it on their own. Your heart silently screams, for you see the degradation flooding their eyes; and you know that they hate to ask but they have no choice. Years would pass before I myself had to endure this, but I can honestly empathize, not just sympathize.
There is no measuring stick for the amount of humiliation required to make one snap. Even through all of my trials and tribulations, I consider myself blessed for they have never broken me. I have Mom to thank. In a single desperate act (one that I’ve never written or spoken of in any detail before now) I witnessed the source of my life, all that I loved and lived for; want nothing more than to die. She taught me in a single moment the true value of life: Love.
Walking into the din I found my mom slumped over the arm of the sofa. A pill bottle had fallen from her shaking hands onto the linoleum floor, scattering the few remaining capsules everywhere. “Mama! Mama! Wake up! What’s wrong? What have you done?” I grabbed her and tried in vain to shake her awake. She was groggy and incoherent. I screamed and yelled for help. No one heard me. Of course there was no one to hear me. Even in her groggy state she pleaded for me just to go away. Knowing my grandparents’ house was but a few blocks away, I told Mom not to worry and that help would soon be there. She weakly reached for my arm to stop me but I broke away and ran as fast as I could. For some reason, probably the horror of the moment, using the telephone never occurred to me. The night was dark like the nightmare I was living. Frantically running the five blocks to my grandparents I burst into their home some ten minutes later. Breathless and deranged, I tried to explain what I had seen. Nanny held and comforted her sobbing grandchild, while Grandpa hurriedly dressed and drove to my house.
Shortly thereafter Grandpa called. I just knew Mom was dead. Thank God I was wrong. After pumping her stomach the hospital kept my mother a few days for observation. I stayed with my grandparents and went to school on Monday. Everyone assured me that my mom was going to be okay. Over the last several months I had been in contact with Mrs. Campbell, my godmother and my mom’s best friend. She had made every effort to keep in touch with Gloria and check up on me. Joy Campbell had assured me that her door was always open and I could call her at any time. Little did I know how true to her word she would be!
Grandpa picked me up from school as always. That Monday had been morose and left me feeling fearful of the future that lay ahead. My thoughts drifted all day and even the slightest gibe from anyone sent me into a flood of tears. Though I’m sure the faculty were all aware of the previous weekend’s events, my classmates must have surely just brushed off my behavior as more sissy drama. That evening at home, alone with Mom, would make my day at school feel like a circus parade.
Grandpa and I walked into the somber Canal Street house. I wasn’t sure what to expect. My thoughts were jumbled between exaltation that my mom was okay and the fear of the unknown. Fear that somehow everything had now changed. Would she try again? What would happen to me if she succeeded? In the end my love for her and the joy that she was still alive helped me run eagerly to see her. She sat in her usual spot on the sofa in the den. Her color was ghostly white and you could almost feel her physical agony. I reached to hug Mom but was warned that the stomach pump had left her severely sore and weak. Grandpa left after a few minutes to fetch Mom’s new prescriptions, announcing that he would return shortly.
Her once beautiful azure blue eyes now glared at me steely for several minutes as she remained stoically quiet. I stressed how happy I was to see her and that she was okay. She began to cry. I will never forget the next few minutes for the rest of my life. In her sobbing state she said to me, “I hate you! Why couldn’t you just let me die?” Back then I was just too young to understand how she felt or why. Those words seared through me like none before or since. As you will see this event would serve as the foundation for my thoughts many years later when Mom died.
A plastic gold colored crucifix hung over my bed. That night began a ritual that continued for a very long time. In the darkness of my small room I would stand and kiss the head of Christ and beg for his mercy. I knew nowhere else to turn and had little hope of any reprieve from my prison. In my heart there was hope and faith that all of this would turn out okay. My mind couldn’t see how. My story is living proof that God does work in mysterious ways, miracles do happen, and Angels are among us. These are true realities for us all; if we would take the time to see them and keep our hearts open to them.
Watching a loved one lose all hope and doubt the value of their own life is an unbearable experience for anyone, especially a young child. Even more traumatic was the unforgettable searing image of my own mother glaring at me and expressing her seemingly genuine hatred for the act of saving her life. Mom’s irredeemably forsaken demeanor ripped through my heart like a piece of jagged glass! From this experience I learned that the human spirit can not be saved by even the deepest expression of love when it has reached a point of no return in total despair. Only the sheer will to live knowing that you have a purpose and your life has meaning can pull you from the darkest recesses of adversity.
Tom Ufert (2012-08-24T12:03:22+00:00). Adversity Builds Character (Kindle Location 655). Kindle Edition.
YOU CAN FIND MORE ABOUT TOM AND HIS WORK ALONG WITH ARTICLES ON THE FOLLOWING LINKS BELOW:
AUTHOR TOM UFERT
Adversity Builds Character; An Inspirational True Life Story of Disability, Addiction and Acceptance
My PR Agent - http://nickwale.org/novel-ideas-hit-parade/
My Intro Letter - http://nickwale.org/2013/06/19/a-letter-from-tom-ufert/
My websites are http://www.tomufert.com/
My new blog sites are http://www.WHEREISJOHNDOE.INFO and http://authortomufert.hubpages.com/hub/Adversity-Builds-Character#comment-11766522
My FB fan page is https://www.facebook.com/tomufertauthor
My Twitter acct is https://twitter.com/TOM_UF
My Pinterest Acct is http://pinterest.com/tomufert/
My Linkedin Acct is http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=121957814&trk=tab_pro
My AuthorsdB Acct is http://authorsdb.com/index.php/component/content/article/8-authors/133-tom-ufert
My GoodReads Acct is http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6551762.Tom_Ufert
My Google+ Acct is https://plus.google.com/u/0/103306740872066863216/posts
My BookShowMe Link - http://bookShow.me/Character
My book, Adversity Builds Character, can be found at...
- Full Book Store - http://www.fullbookstore.com/all_1000_1475952716_Adversity-Builds-Character-An-Inspirational-True-Life-Story-of-Disability-Addiction-and-Acceptance
My audio book version is at - http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=sr_1_1?asin=B00AWCB2H6&qid=1357567239&sr=1-1
Sample - http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=listener__cco_1?asin=B00AWCB2H6
Video Trailers of my book
Book Signing Event Videos –
- Reader’s Favorite - http://readersfavorite.com/review/6807
- Alex Laybourne’s Review - http://networkedblogs.com/LAj8d
- Matthew Q. Dawson’s Review –
Shreveport Times article… http://t.co/rLgtxINz8H - Shreveport Bossier Tourist and Convention Bureau … http://www.shreveportbossierfunguide.com/event.php?id=7621
- This video trailer won 2nd place in HMC's International video Trailer Competition.