Thanks to everyone who came out to my program on Feb. 3 at the White River branch of the Johnson County Public Library. Here are a few photos to prove it really happened.
I am fortunate to be a member of Leadership Johnson County (Indiana) this year. The program is a nine-month, intense program designed to enhance leadership skills among residents and employees in leadership positions within their companies.
I’ve worked in Johnson County the past 15 years as special publications editor at the Daily Journal newspaper.
I have learned so much since the opening weekend in September. Not only have I learned leadership skills, but I’ve learned so much more about the people and culture of the area where I work, and so much more about just how and why things that affect communities work. Things like infrastructure, TIF districts, how to give a good interview to a reporter and much more. I’m also in a project group within the LJC Class of 2016 that is in the process of bringing art-healing or art-therapy programs to at-risk children within the county.
Each month, LJC staff produce a newsletter. One of the features in this year’s newsletters are biographies of this year’s members. Below is mine that ran in the January newsletter.
Who doesn’t love saving money at this time of year?
From now through the end of 2015, you can get an autographed copy of “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher” at the ridiculously low price of $15 (shipping and tax included). List retail price is $19.99.
Send a check for $15 per book to: Paul Hoffman, P.O. Box 2611, Columbus, IN 47201
Or send money via PayPal to email@example.com.
This makes an excellent gift for readers; fans of history, true crime, Prohibition and social justice; Wisconsinites or former Wisconsinites; as well as left-wing, right-wing and middle-of-the-road enthusiasts and people who just want to see me be able to afford to continue writing.
Hurry! Order before I run out of copies in my basement.
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!
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for one free issue.
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 email@example.com.
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!
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 can 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.