WOW! We have a very interesting and inspiring author on the showcase today. Please welcome Tom Ufert to the blog and check out his book Adversity Builds Character.
1) Tell us about yourself.
I am a 47 year old aspiring author living with three different disabilities-MS, HIV, and an incomplete spinal fracture. Since the age of 17 I have been keenly interested and heavily involved in politics and public service. Having worked on 11 political campaigns, interned/worked for 2 US congressmen, and highly regarded by two former presidential assistants, a state governor, and a US Trade Ambassador my original goal was to become a dedicated elected official. However, SEPT. 28,1992 CHANGED ALL THAT…sorry you’ll have to read my book, Adversity Builds Character, to find out why!
2) What do you do when you are not writing? Day job?
Well, I spend a great deal of my time promoting my book, planning book signing and fund raising events. I try to make sure every book signing raises money for various charities such as food banks, AIDs outreach centers and Literacy volunteers. Being totally disabled where fatigue can rack a heavy toll on my work performance, I am no longer permitted to work a normal 9-5 job by my doctor. I work from home, striving to take care of my home, 5 pets, and life partner of last 13 years.
3) How did you choose the genre you write in?
That was sort of decided for me by the type of book I wrote. It’s basically a memoir and because of the nature of my story I deemed it inspirational. My primary goal is to inspire others and use my life experience as a means of helping others cope with their adversity.
4) When did you start writing?
I was editor in chief of my college newspaper The Conglomerate at Centenary College of Louisiana back in the late 1980s. That combined with my accumulated political campaign and arts fundraising experiences helped establish a competent level of experience with writing extensively. In 1988-89 my graduate studies at Australian National University as a Rotary International Graduate Fellow demanded thesis level writing skills. With my English minor degree I have always been a descent writer, however, writing a book is a far cry from writing a school paper. The book writing project started approximately 12 years ago and due to several errors and poor decisions on my part did not come to fruition until last summer.
5) Biggest influences as a reader/writer?
I would have to say my adopted parents insistence that I not waste my summer breaks from school just sitting around watching TV. In addition to the summer reading list required from my private school classes, they added a home reading list which included works from James Fenimore Cooper, C.S. Lewis, Robert Frost and others. My adopted parents taught me to love reading by noting, “that as long as there were books to read I had no excuse for being bored or having nothing to do!”
6) Is anything in your writing based on real life experiences or purely all imagination? Where do your ideas come from?
So far all of my writing is from real life experiences or history. As a newspaper editor all of my writing dealt with issues of the day. My writing in school was derived from subjects in History or political science and my book is solely derived from my life.
7) Planner or Panster?
That’s a tough call. I must admit that I had to do a Google search to ascertain what you were searching for with that question. Perhaps that adequately demonstrates how much of a novice I am at professional writing! Now that I know, there is no doubt I am a planner. My writing requires a general outline of the plot or theme to begin. From there I am a stickler for finding the right words or phrases to convey my thoughts. This is a definite result of my journalistic/political speech writing background which is detrimental, as I have discovered, to descriptive writing. Though my style is constantly changing and improving, re-writes/editing/revisions are a must before my work is completed to insure that the written word isn’t boring or laborious for my readers. I guarantee you run ons are still a fault and you’ll never find me writing without my thesaurus close at hand.
8) What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
Well so far the greatest criticism came from a fellow writer who reviewed my book. He critiqued that my book fell short in delivering any real consequential help to the reader based on my life story. In many ways I think he might be right…that has certainly been my driving incentive to write my second book, a sequel to the first, that brings my whole story full circle tying up the loose ends. Who knows, after writing the second book, I may just release the two combined as a revised whole book.
9) Tell us about your book (s). Favorite thing? Hardest issue to overcome?
My book is very personal. I try to be honest and blunt to a fault about the adversities I’ve faced and take full responsibility for the decisions I’ve made. There is no doubt the chapter about my mom’s tragic death as a victim from a mercy killing/suicide was the most difficult to write. The narrator who recoded my audiobook version said this chapter was so descriptively moving he had to re-record it several times without crying. However, the entire process of putting my story on paper was cathartic and gave me great insight into the healing power of self reflection.
10) Advice for aspiring writers?
I’ve been asked this one many times and I always say the same thing: WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW! Furthermore, the biggest lesson I’ve learned since beginning this awesome adventure as a writer is that the writing is THE EASY PART! Publishing and promoting is the real challenge. When you pop open that bottle of champagne or light up your favorite cigar to celebrate the completion of your work…just wait—NOW THE REAL WORK BEGINS!!!
11) Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Yes, THANK YOU! So far 99% of the reviews and reader’s responses have been right on target with my intended purpose—TO INSPIRE AND TOUCH THEM TO THEIR CORE. Their undying support and generous responses are what keep me “rolling on!” Finally they need to know that with every purchase of one of my books, a portion of their money is going to support numerous charities and help those among us who are less fortunate. THANK YOU.
Links to the novel (s) that you would like to showcase: