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Former Local News Editor Hits Best-Seller List with First Novel-Video
Posting Date: 05/10/2012
By Barbara Ellestad
Local Mesquite author, Morris Workman, hits the best-seller list with his first novel, Howl of a Thousand Winds. Photo by Delaney Studio.
"This would make a great movie," was Lawrence Knorr's first impression of Mesquite author Morris Workman's newly published book titled, "Howl of a Thousand Winds."
Knorr is the President and CEO of Sunbury Press Inc. who took a chance on Workman's first novel that was four years in the making and recently signed him to a publishing contract.
The book is now available through the Mesquite Citizen Journal online bookstore, Amazon.com, and Sunbury Press.
In a recent interview with the MCJ, Workman explained the ups and downs, the joys and disappointments that come with writing best-selling works of art.
"That's one of the things that surprised me. I was expecting the process to be a lot more extensive," Workman remarked about how quickly his manuscript was picked up for publication.
"I got really lucky with the publisher that I wound up with," he said as he explained that he sent his book to 15 publishers last fall. "I got two rejections. I expected more as a first-time author."
Sunbury Press almost immediately selected Workman's novel for publication after receiving it.
"We receive about 500 proposals a year and publish about 10 percent of them," Knorr explained in an email interview with the MCJ.
"More than half of all submissions are eliminated because not enough information is provided, no manuscript samples are provided, or the subject matter is not of interest to us at that time. Morris followed our guidelines and his manuscript was reviewed by our acquisitions editor. He felt the book had potential with all of the interest in climate change and weird weather. He was also interested in some of the other connections Morris made. I won't spoil the book by mentioning them."
Howl of a Thousand Winds begins with a deadly snowstorm that hits Parley, Nebraska on Jan. 12, 1888. Then it jumps to 2012 with settings in Ridley, Pennsylvania, Fayette, Iowa, and Helena, Montana.
Along the way, seemingly weird weather events claim their victims. Native American Micah Roaz gets a lesson on the wind's vicious spirit from Old Joe while Brad Connerman fights his own set of demons.
"What if it's not the storm," Workman asked as he described the book's plot. "What if it's something that comes with the storm?"
"We really liked the historical connections, Morris's writing style and the subject matter. We were looking to expand our line of horror novels," Knorr explained about why his publishing company was intrigued by Workman's novel.
"I signed a contract with Sunbury in December", Workman said as he described the experiences he had with the book publishing process. "I was assigned an editor [Allyson Gard] by late February. By the middle of March we were done with the editing process. I expected it to be a lot longer process. The editor was terrific."
After choosing artwork and book covers, "we had the book out by the second week in April," he explained.
"It's been a project in the works for a very long time," Workman commented as he looked back over the years of wanting to eventually get to this day.
"I would write for a while and get real enthused about it. But real life kept intruding. It was a project I started a good while back," he added.
"Where it really kicked in is when I finished at Mesquite Local News." Workman was the editor of the local newspaper for six years, leaving in June 2011. "My wife [Coni] and I sat down and made the decision together that we were going to spend the next six months finishing the book, and pushing the book."
"I've always known I wanted to be a writer. I've known it since I was nine years old. My wife has made this very easy for me because she's been so supportive."
Knorr explained some of Workman's early
success saying, "Morris seems to be a very committed, driven individual. His future is bright if he is able to keep writing and promoting himself. It is a tough business though. I have often said, regarding the changes in publishing, "It's never been easier to publish a book and never harder to sell one." Sunbury Press will do whatever it can to help him succeed."
Howl of a Thousand Winds became Sunbury's best-selling book in the fictional category in April, the first month it was published. "As I mentioned earlier, we have often taken chances with first-time novelists. However, it is unusual for them to rise so quickly," Knorr commented. "About one third of our authors are first-timers, though this number has been steadily decreasing as we grow and become better-known. Regarding Morris, it was about the quality of his manuscript."
Workman explained that "from June until September, all I did was write five days a week. Most of the important plot points came during the last six months. That's when I really wrote the novel even though I had been hacking on it for four or five years."
It's not unusual for authors to pay tribute to those around them that helped along the way. Workman is no different, honoring several Mesquite locals like Cindi Delaney, his former business partner, Carm Piquette, former Mesquite Police Department Public Information Officer Bob Everett, and Bill McClure, former editor of the Desert Valley Times. He also credits MCJ columnists Betty Haines, Terry Donnelly, and Michael McGreer, "who convinced me that writers from little old Mesquite can get published."
"Susan Bennett is an inspiration just for me to take air in and out of my lungs," Workman said about the former journalism teacher in the Virgin Valley and longtime pillar of support in the Mesquite Arts Council. "She's one of the most amazing inspirational people that I know. She was one of my proofers. She gave me her critiques of the story. She was a true blessing and a gift."
He also credits Don Muse, local resident, "who continues to encourage me not to waste my talent by sitting on the sidelines."
"There's a truth that I've learned," Workman said about the many people he pays tribute to for helping him succeed in the next phase of his life.
"When you write a book, at the end of it, it has a title and it has your name on the cover. That is such a lie," Workman exclaimed. "One person may have gone through the motions of writing the words. But there are so many people who have contributed to making that writer or making that story. There are a lot of people who helped develop the writer, me. I had to acknowledge those people because without their influence, I'm not the person that I am. I think it's unfair that those people had such an influence and they don't get their name on the book."
Workman described the emotional charge that he got when he realized his first book had actually been published. "My sister called and said, 'do you know your book is on Amazon?' We hadn't even finished the process yet and they had already put it on Amazon. That made it very real."
Workman explained that for the next few months he will be marketing his book with promotional trips back East and book signings in and around Mesquite.
He's already planning his next couple books, perhaps moving into murder mysteries. "I have a long list of things I want to write and never have the time to do them all," he quipped. He's planning on having his second book completed by the end of this year. "I'm please with the direction it's taking."
Click on the Book Store submenu under the Writer's Corner in the left menu bar to order Workman's exciting, chilling novel, "Howl of a Thousand Winds."
Posted Date: 05/10/2012 Great job, Morris. Come on back, we miss you. By: Larry
Posted Date: 05/10/2012 The very suggestion that I may have inspired or motivated Morris Workman makes my day!!!!
Morris, it is the other way around; you are a talented writer and an inspiration to many. Congrats! By: Betty Haines
Posted Date: 05/10/2012 Congrats to a fantastic writer. This novel will keep you on the edge of the couch or wherever you are reading it and you seem to read faster to find out what is happening! Thanks to Coni for all her pushing to get you focused in finishing this novel and I know her foot is there to finish the others you have started...You are terrific. By: Lareine
Posted Date: 05/10/2012 Suggestion . . consult with Matt Drudge on the headgear. By: -
Posted Date: 05/10/2012 Congrats Morris! The euphoria now gives way to sheer terror because the book is out there for all to scrutinize. I'm putting it next on my list. By: Terry Donnelly
Posted Date: 05/10/2012 I love the book, when I find the time to read it, I get so into it that I don't hear my hubsand. Great job, Morris. By: Sheyenne Zugschwert
Posted Date: 05/10/2012 It's a real pleasure to have worked with Morris in the past, and I look forward to reading his book. By: mmcgreer
Posted Date: 05/13/2012 Congratulations, Morris!! No surprise there---
Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy! By: Melanie