Here is a promo poster for the 9th Annual Sterling North Book and Film Festival, to be held next Saturday in Edgerton, Wisconsin. I’m excited and honored to be one of the featured presenters at such a prestigious event.
I’ve been scheduled to do presentations on my book, Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher,” from 10-10:45 a.m. and 2-2:45 p.m. in Room 374 at Edgerton High School that day. See a full schedule of the day’s activities, as well as other information about the event at the Sterling North Book and Film Festival website.
The Festival gives otherwise unavailable access to authors and scholars while encouraging the exchange of ideas and values – it’s like having a back stage pass to all the best concerts!
This is a FREE family event that promotes literacy and the city of Edgerton. So, if you love your local library, you will definitely love this event!
I’m looking forward to meeting you at the festival!
It’s an honor to get a message from someone who enjoyed my book. “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterioud Death of Buddy Schumacher.” It’s extremely professionally gratifying when an author whose work I respect gives the book a glowing review.
New York author Michael John Sullivan recently posted a review of my book on Amazon.com. His trilogy — “Necessary Heartbreak: A Novel of Faith and Forgiveness,” “Everybody’s Daughter” and “The Greatest Gift” — is fantastic. His books have been getting national attention and winning awards. He is also the author of a series of children’s books featuring the “Sockkids.” I was honored to have been asked to provide feedback for “The Greatest Gift” before it was published. When someone of this much talent and experience says he likes my book, I am humbled.
Here is what Mike has to say about “Murder in Wauwatosa:”
“Reporter/author Paul Hoffman goes to great lengths to examine one of Wisconsin’s most baffling murder mysteries. It’s obvious that Hoffman has extensive reporting background as he outlines the case from many angles, including a map that gives you a visual impression on where it happened.
“Hoffman discusses this horrific murder through many eyes and resources too. He discloses how he heard about this murder and why it’s fascinated him enough to write a book about it. The 1925 death of Buddy Schumacher is described skillfully. Hoffman even points out how the local media covered it and why they covered it the way they did.
“Hoffman does his own homework too. He performs extensive research, dusting off records and archives. It’s done with a professional standpoint giving you the impression that Hoffman may have given us the most complete account of a mystery that may never be solved.
“You need a strong heart to take this journey with Hoffman. But it’s well worth re-reading it to make sure you haven’t missed anything in the little details. It’s what makes Hoffman good at his craft.”
Have you ever heard the phrase “This is the best thing since sliced bread?” Well, in 1925, they couldn’t say that. Because there was no store-bought sliced bread in America.
That’s one of the interesting little factoids I came across today while doing research for my screenplay adaptation of my book, “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher,” which is the true story of a little boy’s abduction in 1925.
This was an era of Prohibition, flappers, jazz, gangsters and the like.
However, it was not an era of the following items:
- Talking movies (There wouldn’t be one shown at a U.S. theater until “The Jazz Singer” starring Al Jolson in 1927).
- Bubble gum (Walter Diemer came up with that in 1928 for his employer, Fleer Chewing Gum Company).
- Sliced bread (Not until 1928).
- Pop-up toaster (Showed up in 1927, thus apparently spurring the slicing of the bread the following year).
- Mickey Mouse (Disney created the character in 1928).
- Kool-Aid (1927).
- Aerosol cans (1926).
- Frozen food (thanks to Clarence Birdseye for this in 1929).
There’s a lot of other stuff that wasn’t around in 1925. Like iPads and nitro-burning funny cars.
But, when this movie finally comes out, if you see anybody throwing slices of bread into a pop-up toaster or blowing a big pink bubble with their gum while watching a “talkie,” you can put that down on the Goofs section on IMDb.com.
I’ve set aside my bowl full of cherries and my block of orange rind Muenster cheese to update you a little on the progress of my first screenplay. But don’t worry; the Torpedo Juice brand root beer obtained directly from Manitowoc, Wisconsin, is nearby in case I get parched.
Many of you know that I decided to write a screenplay adaptation of my book, “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher,” the true story of the 1925 disappearance of an 8-year-old boy suburban Milwaukee boy and the subsequent search for his killer.
Going into this process, I knew I’d have to make a number of changes going from book to big screen. My brother, Andy Hoffman, who works for a production company in Chicago and who has a degree in such things cinematic, suggested I look into reading the late Syd Field‘s book “Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting,” which is a step-by-step guide for writing sceenplays, from concept to finished script.
Another of Field’s advocates is director/writer/producer Bill Dever, a Franklin, Indiana, resident who graciously allowed me to bang my head against a wall for his movie “Resurrection,” to be released in October. Bill studied under Syd.
Armed with the advice in Syd’s book, along with the knowledge of the basic story already, I have begun piecing together the basics of my screenplay. I haven’t really written too much of the screenplay itself, although I did paste the text of my book into a Celtx file. That software helps format your sceenplay to Hollywood specs.
As I read the book, I take Syd’s advice and apply it to my situation. Here is some of the advice Syd gives, as well as how I’ve tentatively applied it to my screenplay, which I’m tentatively calling “Blackridge,” which was the name of the swimming hole little Buddy and his pals were headed for when he disappeared:
What is your movie about?
It’s about a person (Art Schumacher, Buddy’s father) in a place (Wauwatosa, Wisconsin) at a time (mostly 1925).
What is your main character doing?
He’s trying to keep his own sanity as well as keeping his family from falling apart after the disappearance of his son and later the revelation of the boy’s murder.
What kind of story is it?
It’s a story about the relationships between a father and his family and his community and how those relationships can change when tragedy strikes.
The screenplay will consist of three acts, the first of which will be about 20-30 pages/minutes long followed by Plot Point 1, which is an event that changes the direction of the film. The second act will last about 60 pages/minutes, terminating with Plot Point 2. The final act will be 20-30 pages/minutes.
Act I (Set-up): We’ll be establishing Art’s character … who he is; what he’s like at church, home, work and in the community; how he reacts to certain situations; his relationship to some of the other characters, etc. We’ll also be introducing some of the other main characters.
Plot Point 1: Buddy disappears. The story is set in motion at this point.
Act II (Confrontation): Art begins his quest to find his boy. His desire to stay calm for himself and his family is challenged by nightmares, some of the newspaper reporters who hound his family, rumors flying around town, eye witnesses changing their stories, etc.
Plot Point 2: Someone confesses to the murder.
Act III (Resolution): Here is what happens to everybody, whether Art is successful or not in his quest. I won’t spill the beans on this, but I know what happens (in general, specifics yet to be determined).
I know I have a lot more work to be done. I’ll be doing even more research on the 1920s, Milwaukee and Wauwatosa than I did for the book. I’ve already looked heavily at some of the events and issues that shaped society back then, especially in that area, things like mental health care, media coverage, homelessness, Prohibition, etc. But there is so much more to know when trying to show a story in pictures than in words.
I’ve also spelled out on paper a lot of things that have just been rolling around in the back of my mind. These include jotting down the dramatic need of each major character… what do they want … and the conflicts that crop up that could prevent them from getting it.
Syd’s book is fascinating, with several examples from Hollywood movies that many of us have seen to help illustrate his points. I have started watching for certain things in movies I watch.
I’ve got quite a long way to go. But I should be able to stay on track and get through the outline phase before too long and get going on putting an actual screenplay together.
OK, back to the Muenster.
For more information on the festival, which will be conducted in Edgerton, Wisconsin, click here.
Just confirmed: I’m going to be one of the presenting authors at the Sterling North Book and Film Festival at Edgerton (Wis.) High School on Sat., Sept. 27. Time of my presentation to be announced. I’ll be giving a PowerPoint presentation, complete with sound, on “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher.”
This is a pretty cool event. Patch Adams (yes, THAT Patch Adams) spoke there last year. This is a FREE family event that promotes literacy and the city of Edgerton, in south central Wisconsin. It consists of a number of interactive literary events. These include featured speakers and authors who share their insight on their writing and the inspiration for their books. The authors include those who have written best-sellers as well as Wisconsin authors.
Sterling North was the professional name of an author born in Lake Koshkonong, Wisconsin, probably best known for the children’s novel Rascal, a bestseller in 1963. In the 1990s, North’s childhood home at 409 W. Rollin St., Edgerton, was restored to its 1917 appearance by the Sterling North Society and transformed into a museum.
I was one of the first authors contacted about presenting this year. All the authors will be listed in the area visitor guide that will go to print on Memorial Day.
Feel free to pass this information along to anyone and everyone.
Autographed copies of “Murder in Wauwatosa” will be available for purchase at the Tomah (Wis.) Rotary Brat and Beer Festival on Saturday, Sept. 13. I won’t be able to attend, but I’m sure you’ll all have a swell time in Tomah! And thanks to Martin Murphy for getting the books to the festival!
The event had previously been scheduled for May 3, but was moved due to a scheduling conflict.