Welcome to the Winner’s Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL students. Today we are celebrating published author Terrence Williams!
What is the name of your book (or books)? Who is the publisher?
I have published three novels: Cooper’s Revenge, Unit 400: The Assassins, and Zero Day: China’s Cyber Wars. They are published by First Coast Publishers.
Tell us a bit about your path to publishing, from idea to submission to published book.
Cooper’s Revenge, my first novel was initially developed when I took the “Shape, Write and Sell your Novel” course at Long Ridge Writers Group [now Institute for Writers]. By the time I had completed the course I had the first three chapters written, and went on to spend the next nine months completing the novel.
I submitted dozens of query letters over the next several months, and at one point even had Tom Clancy’s editor at Penguin Books considering the manuscript, but I ultimately became impatient with the process.
A mini-course in independent publishing at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida convinced me that being able to control the artistic content, production deadline, and virtually all aspects of how the book is marketed and distributed was more appealing to me than leaving all of that in the hands of one of the big publishers.
I have never looked back, and doubt that I would consider traditional publishing because of the freedom I now enjoy to control my own destiny.
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing professionally for decades, but most of that was very specialized writing that I did while employed as an operations officer at the CIA. It was only after I retired and took my writing course that I began to write fiction. So I would say about seven years.
What’s your favorite genre to write and why?
I like spy thrillers, mainly because I spent three decades in the intelligence business, and enjoy writing about those subjects. People tend to have a Hollywood perception of what intelligence officers really do, and so I enjoy educating the public about that world and showing them that it’s more Smiley than Bond.
What ICL courses have your taken?
I took Shape, Write, And Sell Your Novel and Writing For Children And Teenagers.
How has taking our course helped your writing and/or career?
The novel writing course put me on the path to publication. Working with Mary Rosenblum as my advisor was a tremendous boost to my confidence because of her experience as a published author, and her positive feedback.
Have any of your class assignments been published?
Cooper’s Revenge was born in the Shape, Write, And Sell Your Novel, class. It went on to win the Florida Authors and Publishers Association President’s Silver Award in 2014 in the Action/Thriller genre.
Do you have a favorite writing tip you’d like to share?
If you could travel back in time and give yourself one piece of writing advice, how far back would you go, and what would you tell yourself?
I think I would travel back to my college days, when I was writing for our literary magazine, Roots and Wings, and I would encourage that small voice within me that was asking if I could perhaps do this for a living. I would tell myself to believe in myself and keep writing.
Tell us about your favorite place to write and what time of day you are most productive in your writing.
I have a study on the second floor of our home in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. There are windows all around and it looks out over a backyard with enormous live oaks drooping in moss. My desk faces east, and in the early morning hours I can trace the sun’s path across the sky. I vary my routine so that sometimes I write early in the morning or later in the afternoon, but I am most productive when I have the house to myself, and it is quiet.
Please tell us the best or most valuable thing you learned from your experience with ICL.
I think it had to do with the constructive feedback I got from my instructor. I remember once, years before, I had shared something that I had written with a friend whose literary opinion I valued. She trashed the piece and bruised my ego to the extent that I didn’t share anything with anyone for years after that.
I now accept that not everyone is going to love my work, and I respect everyone’s right to their opinion. I often share drafts with my writing group and have Beta readers to give me their comments before I go to publication.
What are you planning to do after you complete your fourth novel in the ‘Logan Alexander’ series?
I’m thinking about writing an illustrated children’s book on sea turtles. My wife and I are involved in sea turtle conservation in northeast Florida, and it’s something I am passionate about.
Terrence (T.L.) Williams is a retired CIA officer who lives with his wife, Carol, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. He has written three novels in the action/thriller fiction genre and is working on a fourth, tentatively scheduled for publication in 2018.