I’m looking forward to participating in an author’s fair at the Bartholomew County Public Library in Columbus, Indiana, this Saturday! Authors will give readings from their works, whether prose or poetry, every 15-20 minutes. I’ll be reading from 12:15-12:30 p.m. Stop by if you can!
I need to thank fellow author, Kyrian Lyndon for putting me in her “spotlight” for the month of November 2015. She looks for authors who have overcome something significant in their lives, then profiles them, their work and does an interview about their work and aspirations. She also allows the authors she profiles to explain in their own words what they overcame and how they did it. I wrote about overcoming sexual abuse.
Click here to see Kyrian’s spotlight on me.
The road to this interview started when a mutual author friend, Michael John Sullivan, introduced us. Kyrian said she was doing this project where she profiled authors who had overcome some sort of hurdle.
Other than discussing the abuse with a couple of fellow church members several years ago, and with a very small, select group of close friends, I had never mentioned it. I hadn’t even told my wife, although part of the reason is that by the time I started dating her, I’d finally overcome that hurdle.
To read about how this affected me, and how after many years I was able to finally put it behind me, click here or scroll to the bottom of the Kyrian’s spotlight page on me. There are links at the bottom of the page to my abuse story as well as the various ways people can connect with me.
Hopefully, talking about it publicly will help someone else who has endured something similar. Or, maybe it will help someone who has considered doing this to someone else or who has committed such an act already realize just how harmful it can be to the victim and just how long the suffering goes on. Maybe it will help prevent an occurrence. Either way, I hope my talking about it does some good somehow.
I was thrilled with the opportunity to write a column for a new magazine regarding some of the social issues I’ve been able to speak about since the publication of “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher” three years ago.
View the column on the Tosa Connection website by clicking here.
I knew the publisher of “Tosa Connection” when he was a wee lad living a few blocks from me in Wauwatosa. Peter Haise, one of the founders of the satirical newspaper “The Onion,” asked me if I’d contribute a column of local interest to the magazine, starting with one on my book, which is the true story of the murder of an 8-year-old Wauwatosa boy in 1925.
The initial issue of “Tosa Connection” was direct mailed to virtually every household and business in Wauwatosa in the middle of September.There are a slew of stories of local interest.
Peter, who also owns Bridgetown Framing Gallery in downtown Tosa, tells me he plans on publishing three times annually. I’m planning on contributing a column each issue on a topic of historical interest.
The house that Art and Florence Schumacher moved into in 1927, about two years after their son’s death, is on the market for only the second time since Art moved out in 1969 to spend his final years at a nursing home. The house has had only three owners total.
This is also the house that my father bought from Art Schumacher in the spring of 1969. I grew up there and have many fond memories of the house, the yard and the neighborhood. My parents sold it to the current owner in 2004. The house is at 8118 Hillcrest Drive in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, just west of Milwaukee.
You can view the listing here. There are plenty of photos of the inside of the house, which has been updated quite a bit in the 11 years the current owner has been there. The garage has been expanded, the wooden floors restored in the living room and dining room, and the paint scheme is much brighter and bolder than when I lived there.
Art Schumacher’s son, Arthur “Buddy” Schumacher, is the subject of my book, “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher.” The book is available through bookstores, online and from me. It’s also available in e-book format.
I’m happy to announce that I’ll be doing a presentation on my book, “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher” at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 3, 2016 at the White River branch of the Johnson County Public Library. The library is in the northern part of Johnson County close to the intersection of State Road 135 and Smith Valley Road.
I’ve planned a PowerPoint presentation to go along with my usual entertaining self.
We’ll talk a little bit about the road to getting my first book published and a lot about the twists and turns this true story takes and the unanswered questions that it leaves us with. We’ll also touch on some of what was going on in the country in 1925, when the book is set. Topics will include Prohibition, mental health care, keeping kids safe, media coverage, hobos/tramps and more.
Library contact info: 1664 Library Blvd., Greenwood, IN 46142-1563. WRL_Ref@jcplin.org. 317-885-1330
I had a great time with some great folks at AllWriters Workplace & Workshop in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on July 18. I was honored to be asked by director and founder Kathie Giorgio to teach a class there during one of the Celebrity Saturdays. Apparently, I’m some celebrity or something … a minor one I’m sure.
The topic was “Researching Nonfiction and Turning it into Fiction.”
We discussed the many methods that can be used to uncover clues to the story behind the story. In addition, we talked about some ideas on turning your research into nonfiction without losing the integrity of the original story.
Here are a few photos that my wife shot of the workshop and the studio:
Learning how to write a screenplay, then fitting my story into the format, is fascinating.
I haven’t actually started putting any text into the fancy screenplay-writing software I purchased yet. But, I’ve been going over the parts of the Syd Field book, “Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting” that I marked up in yellow highlighter, and have been figuring out how the story of little Buddy Schumacher fits into Syd’s suggestions.
“Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher” contains the basic, documentary-style nonfiction stuff that I’m molding into another art form.
Here are a few items I’ve been working on and/or thoughts I’ve had about screenplay writing generally, and this project particularly, as I’ve been working:
- Figure out the ending. You have to know where you’re going before you decide how to get there. I won’t tell you that part. It would ruin everything. Besides, I can always change my mind.
- Figure out the beginning. You have to start somewhere. For me … for now … it’s the Hoffman family meeting Buddy’s father, Art Schumacher when Art sells Mr. Hoffman his house. From there, the next door neighbor lady tells a young Paul
Hoffman about “the Schumacher boy who was killed down by the river and the railroad tracks.” That sets the rest of the story in motion.
- Place and time: The movie primarily takes place in Wauwatosa, a suburb of Milwaukee, in 1925.
- Figure out who the movie is about: Art Schumacher, Buddy’s dad is the main character.
- What is the main character trying to do: He’d trying to remain strong for his family in the wake of his 8-year-old son’s disappearance and murder.
- Figure out what happens in the three acts of the movie: Act I sets everything up. We find out who the main characters are, what motivates them, how they interact, etc. At the end of Act I, Buddy disappears, changing everybody’s lives. In Act II, we see the main characters change as they are forced to endure all sorts of issues that crop up when a family member goes missing. Art’s quest to keep his family protected and sane keep meeting with obstacle after obstacle.The end of Act II may be when Edward Vreeland, a local hobo who had been identified as being with Buddy the day he disappeared, was let go after eye witnesses changed their stories about him. Act III resolves everything in a way you’ll just have to watch.
- Working title: Blackridge (the name of the swimming hole Buddy was heading for when he disappeared.
- Figure out everything I can about the main character: I have to know Art Schumacher (at least the screenplay version of him) inside and out so I know how he’s going to react when things happen in the movie. So, I needed to come up with answers to questions like: Who were his parents? What kind of socioeconomic status did they have? What kind of childhood did Art have? What are his attitudes toward love, family, work, politics, religion, etc.? What were his hobbies? Whom did he have conflicts with and why? What is he like at work, at home, in the community, when he’s alone? And then, figure out a lot of that stuff for the other main characters.
- Here are a few of the character traits I’ve decided Art has when the story begins in 1925: He lives simply, with very few extravagances, but allows for “treats” now and then. He drives a 1923 Ford Model T. He likes fresh veggies, hunting, singing, kids and God. He dislikes dishonesty, breaking laws and smoking. He likes meat and potatoes, creamed herring and a little stollen at Christmas.
- Art confides his deepest fears to his brother, Louis. He also confides to a lesser degree in his pastor, his wife and his boss.
- Figure out the dynamics between characters: Between Art and all the people he comes into contact with, between Buddy and his sister, between newspaper reporters and the community, the Wauwatosa chief of police and the suspects, etc.
- How to introduce all the different theories of what happened to Buddy: Nobody really knows what exactly happened to Buddy, but there are a few main theories. I’m thinking we may show some of those theories during nightmares Art has while his boy is missing or shortly after he’s found.
- Some of the themes that may come out: Even the best of men have their limits and do things they might not ordinarily do when subjected to intense stress.
- I studied up on what kinds of food and activities you might see at a Lutheran church picnic in 1925 Milwaukee; what household appliance were and were not invented, and which may have been in common use, at that time; what sorts of music might a 12-year-old girl listen to then, and how that might differ from her 40-year-old parents; and more.
- Noting that all people want to be loved, successful, happy and healthy. But that we have different ideas of just what these things are and how we achieve them. It is these differences that determine each character’s point of view, attitude and transformation (if there is one) during the screenplay.
When I was writing the book, I didn’t have to know a lot of these things; I simply presented as many facts as I could find, then added some questions that readers might want to ponder. So, I’ve been doing a lot more research.
And there’s lots more to do. Although I can see the time when I start putting words into the screenplay format isn’t all that far off now. I still need to read more screenplays of famous movies to see how the stories are written in that format before I really start writing in earnest.
I am honored to have been chosen as the featured author for the March/April 2015 issue of Pen It! Magazine. The magazine is in its sixth year and is produced by Debi Stanton, based in southern Indiana. Debi recently invited me to speak on researching for nonfiction books at her Spring Writers Conference, conducted at the Yes Cinema in Columbus, Indiana. I had a blast doing that. It was the second time Debi asked me to speak at one of her writer’s conferences; the first time, I spoke on newspaper reporting. In addition to publishing my bio in her most recent magazine, Debi also published a recent poem of mine, “One Tree and Me.” I hadn’t written a lot of poetry lately, but got inspired one day to write that one.
If anyone is interested in subscribing to Pen It! contact Debi at email@example.com for one free issue.
Over the course of the past 51-plus years, I’ve done a lot of writing. Much of it has come in the course of my 30 years in journalism. I’ve also authored a book, transcribed whatever I could recall from my dreams for a period of about 3 years or so, and written poetry and song lyrics with varying degrees of competence.
About a year ago, I sat alone in a wooded area and cleared my mind from all of life’s little annoyances. I soaked in a cool breeze on the sunny afternoon and found myself mesmerized by a tree standing before me.
As I looked at the tree, really looked at it, and thought about how what function each part of the tree had, and how each part reacted to its surroundings, I started thinking about the different aspects of my personality and being, and what functions those performed. I also considered how I react to my surroundings, or perhaps I should react.
Those thoughts got pushed to the back of my mind until a recent trip to a local writers club meeting, where one of the writers read a poem she wrote where a tree was a central theme. It reminded me of the spring day nearly a year previous when I had the aforementioned epiphany. I was motivated to try to describe the event in a poem.
Below is the result of that effort. I am pleased to say that a friend of mine has planned on using the poem in her homeschooling curriculum. What an honor!
One Tree and Me
Me, I sit, a cool breeze it spits
Winsome on my face
Wisdom in my soul
My gaze, it stares, intense, in glare
At the rebirth of my earth
A time of joy, a time of mirth
Like a camera on a tripod
My head, it turns, it nods
Eyes, ears, nose and mouth are trained
But other senses not easily explained
One tree, and me, so ordinary
So plain, so same
But for one moment not
Invisible roots dig deep
They creep and they seek
To provide life, liberty
And the pursuit of soul spirit to the perimeter
Green ground ‘round a plucky trunk
Weather worn and hen-pecked
Slightly knotty, not overripe or rotted
It oozes spunk, no stupid junk
It is what it stands for
Fractal branches random radiate
Biceps, triceps, elbows grate
Forearms quiver, shiver, shake
When air affronts, grunts and quakes
Sway and swing with the rhyme of the season
Holding up hands of twigs and leaves
Reaching for light with heavenly heaves
Vulnerable like little children
Smug in their ignorance
A benign breeze, agitated
Provides contrary evidence
And gusts with such lust
That leaves from stems
Stems from twigs
Twigs from branches
Have their bodies plundered
On damp lightning nights
Rumbling with thunder
And the fragile fragments
Of my maturing mind
Unaware the crime of destined time
Like a tot’s tiny vice grip on mama’s hand
Have no choice but to let loose
Either to decompose and die
Or to spread their wings and fly
We are strong
We are sturdy
We are broken and bent
Knobby and gnarled
Bound by our foundations
Yet more free than we can see
It takes much to cut us down
To kill us from the outside
It takes little to slowly ruin us from within
Self-doubt, pout and fear
The tiny termites who live near
By Paul J. Hoffman
I picked up a few marketing items the other day.
Ordered myself a couple of stress balls that are really more of rounded-off stress cubes featuring the cover of my book, “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher,” on one face.
Also got some bottle openers emblazoned with my website, http://www.PaulHoffmanAuthor.com.
And finally, some can/bottle cooler-like cozies with the book cover and my website printed on them.
I haven’t figured out what all I’m going to do with them yet. I might offer them for sale, might do some giveaways. I’ve only ordered a few of each right now. I’ll probably get more later.
Earlier, I got myself a mouse pad and T-shirt with the book cover on them. Those were for my own use, although I could certainly order more. I also gave my mom a coffee mug with the book cover on it.
It’s pretty neat all the cool stuff you can get.
If you were me, what would you do with them? Post a message here, go to my Facebook author page and post a note there or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.