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 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.
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.
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’ …
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.
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.
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 postage and handling.
Here’s all you have to do:
- Send me $15 per book (yes, you are allowed to buy more than one!)
- Send me your name and address.
- Tell me to whom to address my signature.
- Send payment via PayPal at email@example.com OR send a check made payable to Paul Hoffman to me at P.O. Box 2611, Columbus, IN 47201.
- 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.
I finished reading Syd Field’s book, “Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting,” yesterday.
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.
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.