Frequently Asked Questions
About Tom’s writing
Where do your stories come from?
I’ve been told that I can turn the answer to almost any question into a story. The snippets and vignettes that you read in my fiction often come straight from my imagination. But sometimes they grow out of an idea that I got from a story that my Dad told me. He loved to tell stories, especially funny ones. And almost always, they were about some facet of the kind of simple country life that he loved.
The Morgan Crossroads series is an expansion of two short stories that I published earlier – Gertrude’s White Knuckle Ride and Dinner On The Ground: a not exactly true short story from the Eva Jo Clomper and Friends series. After a short time of being available on Amazon, I removed them and allowed them to grow into something different and better. During that growing process, some of the primary characters changed and the stories took on lives of their own.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I am very much a pantser. That is, I write by the seat of my pants. I’ve tried plotting and outlining, but stories just don’t come to me as freely when I do that. I may know what the big thing is that will happen by the end of the story, but almost everything that happens on the way to that big thing is a mystery to me until I type it out. For me, stories unfold in the telling, not in thinking of plot points ahead of where I am now.
What tools do you use when you write?
I started out using Scrivener for Windows for the entire writing process. I now use a MacBook Pro and an iPad Air 2 128GB that allow me to write almost anywhere. I use Scrivener 3 for Mac OS X on the MacBook Pro and Scrivener on the iPad for the rough draft of most of my books. When I finish the rough draft I use Scrivener to produce a MS Word file. From that point on I use MS Word on both the Mac and iPad to rewrite and edit that file. It is also the file that I send to my beta readers.
Another tool that I use on every manuscript is Pro Writing Aid. It helps me find little nit-picky issues in my manuscripts that I might never have spotted on my own. I use Vellum on the Mac for my final pass and to format the book for publication.
About Living With Fibromyalgia Patients: 79 Ways You Can Make Their Lives Better
Why did you write a book about fibromyalgia?
My wife of 46 years was diagnosed with fibromyalgia more than fifteen years ago. I watched her change from one who lived a vibrant, physically energetic life – climbing trees and riding jet skis – to a much slower pain-filled existence. Prior to fibromyalgia’s onset she would explore parks and outdoor areas with her camera and come back with the beginnings of a work of art. Since then, I’ve found myself changing some of the things I do so that she can be more comfortable.
Over the years, a list has evolved – a list of things that we do to make life for her more comfortable. Some of them are physical, and some are more emotion based. That list became the basis for my non-fiction book, Living With Fibromyalgia Patients: 79 Ways You Can Make Their Lives Better. That book is available in paperback and eBook format at Amazon.
Will there be a follow-up to Living With Fibromyalgia Patients: 79 Ways You Can Make Their Lives Better?
I don’t know. I’ve thought about writing a follow-up, but for now there are no concrete plans for one. I am busy writing my fiction books and other writing projects. But who knows? I may wake up one morning with a driving compulsion to write part two. We’ll just have to wait and see.
About the Morgan Crossroads series of novels
Is Morgan Crossroads a real place?
Not in the sense that you could point to it on a map. Yet, to some readers it will be a real place or at least a composite of many places they have been. I hope it is very real to you.
Where is Whipper County?
Whipper County, Alabama exists only in my mind. But if I had to stick a pin in it on a map, I would stick that pin in North Alabama approximately where Paint Rock Valley is. That area holds a significant place in my memory because it was through that very real valley that I drove several times a week to visit the young lady who in 1974 became my bride. There is one other place where Whipper County exists. That is, in the pages of Long Time Coming and the other books in the Morgan Crossroads series of novels.
I'm pretty sure I've met Marcella and Eva Jo. Or was it Dora Mae?
I’ve thought the same thing at times. In reality, though, each character in my stories is a composite of potentially hundreds of people who I’ve met over the past five or six decades. They may use a favorite word or phrase that I remember from my school days in Texas, New Mexico, or Alabama. They may walk the way that I saw someone on a sidewalk somewhere walking.
The characters that I write about usually come to me from some invisible place. Some call that place inspiration or the muse. Whatever name that place has, characters tend to show up when they’re needed. Sometimes they’ll have the hair of someone I saw or knew as a child, or they’ll dress like someone else from television or my imagination.
How many books will be in the Morgan Crossroads series?
Here’s the honest answer. I don’t know. I can tell you that I foresee at least five books. The series begins with Long Time Coming and continues with book two which is titled Welcome Back Mister Starnes.
Are the Morgan Crossroads books romance novels?
No, they aren’t. There is a romantic element in the first two books and I expect each following book to continue the tradition. But they are not romance novels as one normally thinks of books in that genre. Romance happens in real life everywhere, including Morgan Crossroads, Alabama.
You will find love in every Morgan Crossroads novel. There may be a romantic twist, but there will always be another kind of love – the love that tight-knit members of a small rural community can have for each other.
Will I be embarrassed of I loan my copy of a Morgan Crossroads book to my conservative parent?
No, you won’t. There is no danger of your friends or family complaining of such things as sexual situations or strong language in the Morgan Crossroads Series. They might complain of a lack of such things, but if they do, there are other books on the market that will fit their tastes.
How can I stay up to date with new book releases, etc.?
It’s easy. Just submit your name to my mailing list using the form at the bottom of this page. I’ll let you know how things are coming in Morgan Crossroads and whenever a new book in the series is being released.
Why is there no cursing or sex in the Morgan Crossroads books? After all, those things are part of real life.
You are absolutely right. Cursing and sex are a very real part of life. In fact, one can hardly live through a day without encountering one or both. But there are people for whom “four letter words” and sex related discussions are not part of their everyday lives. For them, such language and discussions are not required in order to live a full life.
I’ve read comments from readers who practically demand that the books they read include cursing, sex, and more. For them, it takes such things to fully develop the “grit” that makes up a large part of some people’s personality.
I agree that some characters in certain genres don’t come across as fully developed if the writer tries to make them too good or pure. In this series, I’m writing stories that are lighter in general. I firmly believe there is a place for stories with hilarious fun, heartache, disappointment, and the full range of emotion that life entails without the use of strong language or graphic sexual situations. That is what I try to do with the Morgan Crossroads series.
Didn’t find your question answered here?
Feel free to contact us using the contact page here. If you wish, you may also use the contact info below.
Snail Mail Address
c/o Quiet Place Media
P.O. Box 2226
Castalian Springs, TN 37031
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