I was raised in southeast KS. Began writing poetry at 14. Have written nonfiction most of my adult life. Bound by Faith Publishers published Night of the Cossack in April 2011. Married to Barbara and we have six children and fourteen grandchildren. I have been a public speaker for 40 years. I was a self-employed entrepreneur from 1973 to 1995. I retired in 2004 and have devoted most of my time to writing and volunteer work.
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Tom, welcome to Favorite PASTimes! What can you tell us about yourself and your road to publication in a couple of paragraphs?
My first experience with publishing was a lost manuscript before copy machines and computers were around. I didn’t have a copy. About the time I gave up, it showed up in the mail with a note saying they weren’t interested. I self-published my first book, Behind the Scenes of the Bus Ministry, in 1974. After that experience, I wrote articles for business and denominational magazines. I didn’t write another book until 2009 when I was contracted by Barbour Publishing to co-write The Great Adventure. In 2012 I was a guest writer in Unshackled and Free: True Stories of Forgiveness by Shelley Hitz, CJ Hitz and Heather Hart.
Night of the Cossack is my first novel, published by Bound by Faith Publishers in 2011. I started writing this book after my mother passed away in 2005. I created my grandfather who died a year before I was born. I started out writing the story for me to fill a hole in my life. As the writing progressed, I was writing it for my children and grandchildren. I began toying with the idea of publication when God took over and sent Dennis and Polly Vance, owners of Bound by Faith Publishers, to me. They wanted help with developing a website. In the process, they saw my own site with the first chapter and asked to read the manuscript. Next thing I knew, they wanted to publish my story.
An entrepreneur is a person who either owns or manages a business according to Dictionary.com. That definition is pretty simple. Wikipedia takes it much further, “An entrepreneur is an enterprising individual who builds capital through risk and/or initiative. The term was originally a loanword from French and was first defined by the Irish-French economist Richard Cantillon. Entrepreneur in English is a term applied to a person who is willing to help launch a new venture or enterprise and accept full responsibility for the outcome.”
Can you tell us something about Night of the Cossack that we won't find out about from your web site or other interviews?
Hmm. That’s a tough question because I’m all over the Internet with interviews, articles, etc. Nathan’s real name was not Hertzfield. I think it may have been Gertzenfeld, but it was changed somehow when he immigrated.
Other than the fact that he was a Jew, from Georgia and a Cossack soldier born in 1888, all the rest is “fill.” There was other information, but my mother and her siblings had conflicting stories. Nathan and his wife, Esther, spoke nine languages between them and spoke very little about their past lives in English. I think parts leaked out here and there, which made putting together their story like putting a puzzle together. My characters, along with history, wrote a lot of the story.
Research and attention to detail make or break the historical novel. Share with us your best strategies for research and fact-checking. Have you caught yourself up on any unusual details or fantastic sources material that you’d like to share?