Author’s Fair this Saturday!

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!AUTHOR'S FAIR

Schumacher/Hoffman house on the market

8118Hillcrest Sept2015

8118 Hillcrest Drive, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. September 2015

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.

Screenplay update – The beginning and ending start to unfold

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
    Art Schumacher, Buddy's father, in 1910.

    Art Schumacher, Buddy’s father, in 1910.

    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.

Featured author in Pen It! Magazine

Pen It Magazine Volume 6 Issue 2 Mar Apr 2015 Email copy_Page_05 Pen It Magazine Volume 6 Issue 2 Mar Apr 2015 Email copy_Page_12

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 for one free issue.

Can cozies, bottle openers and stress balls … oh, my!

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: MerchandiseThe Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher,” on one face.

Also got some bottle openers emblazoned with my website,

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

Variety of topics on tap at writers conference; and I’ll be presenting one of them

I’m thrilled to have been asked to give a presentation at the Spring Writers in Columbus, Indiana, on April 25. The conference will be held at the YES Cinema, 328 Jackson St., and will feature four speakers. Besides my talk, entitled “Researching Non-Fiction:  From personal interviews to document discovery,” the other topics presented will be “Breathing Life into Characters,” “Query Letters and the Novel Pitch,” and “Getting Published at Little or No Cost.”

The conference will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. I’ll be presenting from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Click here for all the details, including agenda, presenting author biographies and more: Writers Conf 2015 Yes Cinema Flyer

Hope to see you there!

Read a lot of ‘Murder in Wauwatosa’ free!

Did you know that Google Books posts lots of books online? Well, not entire books, but a good portion of many books. You can check the books out, read a little more than just a synopsis. And if it sounds interesting, you ca705BuddyPostcardn go find it somewhere to purchase.

My book, “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher” is on Google Books. If you want to take a nice, long gander at it, just click here.

Hopefully, you’ll like what you see and/or let your friends know.


If you can’t do, then teach … or so they say

I’m thrilled to have been invited to do some teaching gigs this year. I’ll be drawing upon my 30 years of journalism experience, plus my efforts in writing my book, “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher,” to teach various aspects of nonfiction writing soon.

Here’s what’s on tap for now (I never know what may be added, so stay tuned):

April 6, 5:30-6:30 p.m.: I’ll be speaking at the Scribblers Writing Club on conducting personal interviews. We meet at Sogna Della Terra bakery and coffee shop, 901 Washington St, Columbus, Indiana. I’ve hung out with this group a couple of times and have enjoyed getting to know the variety of writers involved. One of them is about to do an oral history and since I have vast experience doing personal interviews, I was asked to chat a bit about that at the next meeting.

April 25: I’ll be giving a presentation titled “RESEARCHING NONFICTION: From personal interviews to document discovery” at the Spring Writers Conference, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at thew Yes Cinema, 328 Jackson St., Columbus, Indiana. My segment will run from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Cost is $25. Info: Debi Stanton, 812-371-4128 or Debi heads up the Bartholomew County Writers Group, another group I’ve had the pleasure of sitting in with a couple of times. She asked me if I would present at the conference and gave me the freedom to choose my topic. Thanks, Debi!

July 18, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.: I’ll be teaching a class on AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop, 234 Brook St. Unit 2, Waukesha, Wisconsin 53188. Phone: 262.446.0284. This one will take some of the elements of my previous two talks and add some spice for a more lengthy workshop. I was invited by owner Kathy Giorgio, whom I met at the Edgerton (Wis.) Sterling North Book and Film Festival last fall. Here is what we’ve got on Kathy’s website regarding my visit:


Have you come across an event that piqued your interest so much that you had to find out more? Special guest lecturer Paul Hoffman discusses the many methods that can be used to uncover clues to the story behind the story during his workshop. In addition, he will give you some ideas on turning your research into nonfiction without losing the integrity of the original story. He’ll discuss not only text, but also about the different visual possibilities to illustrate your work. Writers of all abilities will benefit.

The AllWriters’ 2015 Celebrity Saturday Schedule can be found here.

Tosa paper prints story on my screenplay efforts

My efforts to turn “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher” into a screenplay has been acknowledge by Wauwatosa Now and reporter Rory Linnane.

I met with Rory over Christmas break at Brookfield Square mall in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Her story has just been posted on the Wauwatosa Now website. Click here to see the story.

Thanks, Rory!

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’ …