Get a free book from a talented author!

Are you interested in a Christmas book giveaway?

My friend and fellow author, Michael John Sullivan, is conducting one such animal.

All you have to do is leave a comment below the story at his website to be eligible.My book, “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher” is one of the books you could win.

Mike says: “There are books available from these talented writers — Selena Robins, Maddie Ryan, Paul Hoffman, Barbara Robinson, Kathy Boyd Fellure, Kyrian Lyndon, Laurie Kozlowski, Susan Ricci, Jenn Nixon, and Michael John Sullivan. There are books available from many genres, too. Have some fun reading up on these talented writers.”

Even if you don’t win a free book, you may find some good ideas for Christmas presents … I’m just sayin’ …

I just figured out how to autograph an e-book!

And you thought your favorite author couldn’t put a personalized message on the e-book you bought! Don’t feel bad; I didn’t either.

But, I just signed up my book, “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher,” to do just that. Go here to get it done. Read below or click here to find out more about Authorgraph.

Authorgraph makes it possible for authors to sign e-books for their readers. Really!

Getting an Authorgraph is easy:

  • Search or browse for your favorite authors or books
  • Click “Request Authorgraph” (you can include a short message to the author)
  • Receive an email when the author has signed your Authorgraph
  • View your Authorgraph in your favorite reading apps and devices

This is pretty cool.

https://www.authorgraph.com/authors/phof_author

Holiday special! Prices slashed!

Want to get a personally autographed copy of “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher” directly from the author, but you can’t manage the $20? 

Well, you’re in luck!

For a limited time, I’ve cut the price to $15. That’s right, just $15!

And that even includes 705BuddyPostcardpostage and handling.

Here’s all you have to do:

  1. Send me $15 per book (yes, you are allowed to buy more than one!)
  2. Send me your name and address.
  3. Tell me to whom to address my signature.
  4. Send payment via PayPal at phof63@sbcglobal.net OR send a check made payable to Paul Hoffman to  me at P.O. Box 2611, Columbus, IN 47201.
  5. If you see me in person, I probably have a book nearby. Just ask. And as long as I have my cell phone and Square reader with me, I’ll be able to accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express.

It is also possible to get the book in e-book format or through Amazon or Barnes & Noble or at your local bookstore. If they don’t have it in stock, just ask them to order it.

Don’t delay. Order today! Supplies aren’t limited yet, but they could be if I get a nice holiday rush.

Oh, and tell every single one of your friends about this fantastic offer, as well as 3 or 4 other people. It’s good for the planet probably.

One step closer to starting a screenplay

I finished reading Syd Field’s book, “Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting,” yesterday.Syd Screenplay book004

This was the first big step for me in writing a screenplay based on my book, “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher.”

The book explains how to go about writing a Hollywood-type script. All the nuts and bolts. Hopefully, I learned enough to put it into practice.

I plan to do a bit more research, as well as some planning of how the main characters will interact, how they will change throughout the script before I chart out the basics on 4×5 index cards.

There is a long way to go before I actually open up the scriptwriting software and start in earnest. But I’m on my way, and that’s more than I could say a few months ago.

Sterling North Book & Film Festival Photos

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This is my biography as it appeared in the preview section.

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The Edgerton Reporter produced a terrific, 24-page preview section of the 9th annual Sterling North Book and Film Festival on Sept. 27, 2014. I was honored to be chosen as one of the 17 presenting authors. This is the welcome message from Edgerton schools on Page 2. I was surprised and humbled that they chose to include me in this.

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I clean up fairly nice when I want to. This is the night of the authors’ reception, the day before the festival. My wife, Kimberly (background), always looks nice.

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They had T-shirts for sale for just $10, and I forgot to buy one!

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I presented a PowerPoint presentation on my book, “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher,” twice. I was honored to have among the attendees, Sterling North’s daughter, Arielle North Olson, an author in her own right, and Deborah Blum, a columnist for the New York Times, a professor of journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the author of books, including “The Poisoner’s Handbook.” That book was made into a PBS documentary.

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There must have been close to 50 authors (I should have gotten an exact count) selling books in the Edgerton High School gymnasium on Saturday.

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Here I am speaking at the authors’ reception on Friday night. My wife said I did a great job. If you disagree, argue with her.

K Me Sterling home

Here I am in front of Sterling North’s boyhood home in Edgerton. He is most well known for his children’s book, “Rascal,” about the adventures he had with a pet raccoon when he was 11 and living in this house.

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The organizers do a bang-up job raising funds throughout the year so they can afford to pay all these great authors (and filmmakers) to the event. They had a contest to see how many people could figure out where “Rascal” was photographed around Edgerton.

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Check out the fancy Sterling North Festival poster!

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 honoredSterling North 2014 poster to be one of the featured presenters at such a prestigious event.

Last year’s event featured the real Patch Adams, the doctor/clown/author whom late actor Robin Williams portrayed in the movie of that name.

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!

Best-selling author digs ‘Murder in Wauwatosa’

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.”

Thanks, Mike!

They didn’t have this stuff in 1925

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 192Malabar5.

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). Mickey soap
  • Bubble gum (Walter Diemer came up with that in 1928 for his employer, Fleertoaster1 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.

‘Blackridge’ screenplay update

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.Syd Screenplay book004

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.

My motion picture acting debut

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Twenty-four hours after performing in what promises to be first appearance in a real motion picture – unlike the Super 8 movies that Dad made of us during Christmas and birthdays in my youth – the headache has finally subsided, … Continue reading