Here is someone you will be happy to know, whether you are a fellow author or just someone who enjoys a really good book.
I was recently blessed with an opportunity to sit down with author Tom Blubaugh to learn more about his books, his life as a writer, and his penchant for building up present and future writers.
Tom is not only serious about his writing, he is dedicated to getting more family-friendly and Christian literature out into the world. He has fathered an online Christian Authors Community (authorscommunity.net), assisting authors with everything (except book publishing) — including Tom’s personal favorite: Readership Development coaching.
He spent most of his adult life penning non-fiction books, but now Tom’s historical fiction novel, Night of the Cossack, (from Bound by Faith Publishers), is being very well received. A sequel is already in progress.
More about Tom’s great books later. Right now, here is what he had to say at the interview.
IRIS: Talk to us about your writing process, so others can learn from your way of doing things.
TOM BLUBAUGH: I am a seat of the pants writer. When I was writing my novel Night of the Cossack, I took my manuscript to a critique group at the library. The group consisted of several retired English teachers, which scared me, because I did not like English in school. They forgave me for my attitude on behalf of my childhood English teachers.
TOM BLUBAUGH: They then told me I was a good writer, but they wanted to know how the protagonist got to where he was in the beginning of my story. That beginning was the middle of the story when my novel was published. They taught me a lot.
TOM BLUBAUGH: I am still a seat of the pants writer, but now I write the story in my mind and then put in a Word document. As my story develops, I decide where to place the different scenes. It works for me.
IRIS: What is the most important or most frequent advice you give about writing?
TOM BLUBAUGH: Do not overthink what you want to write. Do a brain dump by writing everything that is in your mind. Your story line will come out during or after the process. At least it does for me. By that time, I am primed, and I keep writing until my thought is captured. Do not worry about grammar or anything else during this process. That will come later. Capturing your story idea is most important now.
IRIS: What influenced your decision whether to publish with a publisher or self-publish your book? What would you advise new authors to explore?
TOM BLUBAUGH: I self-published my first book in 1974. It was Indie published because I did not pay a publishing company for anything but the book printing. I did not consider myself to be an author at that time. I was a freelance writer for several years of business articles mainly.
TOM BLUBAUGH: In 2007 I was contracted by Barbour Publishing to co-write a devotional book with fourteen others. When I saw the finished copy of that book, I wept. I realized I was an author. I sold over 1,000 copies of that book myself.
TOM BLUBAUGH: In 2011 I was helping a man develop a website and, in the process, he saw the first chapter of my novel on my site. I did not know he was starting an independent publishing company and I was his second book. I sold over 2,000 copies of that book myself. My next two books I Indie published.
TOM BLUBAUGH: I’ve shared all of this to say, in this present age, whether an author is traditionally or self-published, she will do all the promoting for a small royalty. My question is always, why not Indie publish and get all the profit plus keep your rights to your book?
IRIS: What would you change about the world of writing and publishing if you could?
TOM BLUBAUGH: Wow! What a question! I would keep every writer from thinking a traditional publisher will do everything including all the promotional work so I can simply get a nice advance, sign books and rake in the cash.
IRIS: I know, right! I think every author is shocked at how much hard work is required to market your book — no matter who the publisher is. Nobody will give your book the love it deserves; you will have to do that yourself.
IRIS: On a more serious note, how does your faith affect your writing?
TOM BLUBAUGH: The only writing I did when I was not a Christian was poems at age 14. I was shy and the only way I could express my feelings to a girl was to write her a poem. When Elvis Presley came along, I just knew he would want to turn all my poems into love songs. Did not happen. Had I not become a Christian at age 28, I shudder to think what my writing might be like.
IRIS: Where can readers and writers find you and your work on the Internet or social media?
… and Thoughts for Deep Thinkers and Fellow Space Travelers, a non-fiction about lessons God has taught me. I am more of a Readership Building Coach than an author these days.
IRIS: Before you go, I know you’re working on the sequel to Night of the Cossack. Can you give us an idea what Night of the Cossack is about, say, in 25 words or less?
TOM BLUBAUGH: In one night of terror, Nathan Hertzfield’s life changed forever. The hard-working 16-year-old, taking care of his widowed mother and younger brother in a small village in early 20th century Russia, is abruptly kidnapped and forced to join the Cossack army.
(Sorry—I needed a few more than 25 words.)
IRIS: No apologies necessary! It sounds like a fun read (and a really interesting time in history for an adventure). Thank you, Tom Blubaugh, for spending time with us and answering our questions. We will be looking forward to the Night of the Cossack sequel.