A Return to Imaginarium

I’m eager to get back to Kentucky this fall to be part of Imaginarium Convention. This will be the second straight year I’ve been chosen to serve as a guest to lend what expertise I have to panels. And this year, my wife will also be serving as a guest.EntertheImaginarium

The convention is a three-day annual event held in Louisville, Oct. 6-8 at Ramada Plaza Hotel and Conference Center this year. It is centered entirely around creative writing, including the worlds of books, movies, gaming, music and comics/graphic novels. It features extensive programming content, with panels and workshops presented by more than 150 professional guests covering everything from the craft of writing to various genres, industry-specific topics, publishing and social media/publicity. The convention features a film festival with a full array of awards, a masquerade/costume contest, live music, gaming, an expo open to the general public, an awards banquet, a series of literary awards called the Imadjinns and more activities, creating a welcoming, inclusive atmosphere that is content-rich and ideal for networking, promotion and personal development.

Last year, I served as a panel expert at the following sessions: Historical Writing; New Author Boot Camp; Faith in Fiction; Breaking into Freelance Writing; Homonyms, Semi-Colons, Serial Commas, Oh My! And I attended a few other sessions to learn a few things.

Who knows what topics will be on tap this year.

My wife, Kimberly S. Hoffman, just published her first book, “Emma’s Dancing Day,” and she’ll be serving as a guest panelist at Imaginarium, too.

For more info on Imaginarium 2017, click here.

‘Wicked Columbus’ Book Launch

I am pleased to announce that we will be conducting a book launch for my next book, “Wicked Columbus, Indiana,” at the Harlequin Theatre in Columbus at 7 p.m. on June 27.

We’ll have some fun with historic photos projected onto a large screen for viewing ease, readings from several of the chapters, some refreshments and who really knows what else at this point … more details will be revealed as we get a little closer to the date.

And of course, books will be available for purchase.

I am grateful that Robert Hay-Smith has opened his venue to me for this event. My wife and I have been to the Harlequin many times for plays, comedy shows and more. This is really a gem in town that more people need to check out.

The book is scheduled to be released June 19. Pre-sale has commenced.

I also have a program scheduled at the Bartholomew County Public Library in Columbus at 6:30 p.m. June 29.

Who knows what other events will be planned. Check here to see updates.

 

Pre-sale time is here!

I noticed that Amazon is already taking pre-orders for “Wicked Columbus, Indiana,” so now that I know how much it’s going to cost, I think I’ll start my pre-order, too.

Pre-ordering helps you get a signed copy directly from me as soon as I get books delivered to me (release date is June 19) and can get everything processed and to the post office. Pre-ordering helps me get a handle on how many books to buy from my publisher.

If I order way too many, I get stuck with a bunch of books in my basement. If I order way too few, then I don’t have enough for everyone who wants a signed copy mailed to them. See, we all win.

Procedure on pre-ordering books from me:

  1. “Wicked Columbus, Indiana” costs $23.50, which includes Indiana sales tax.
  2. Add $3 postage and handling for one book. Add another $1 postage and handling for each additional book. These prices are good in the continental United States only. For other areas, contact me and I’ll check on shipping costs.
  3. Send me your name, address, phone number and/or email address.
  4. Tell me to whom to address my signature.
  5. Send payment via PayPal at phof63@sbcglobal.net OR by mail to Paul Hoffman, P.O. Box 2611, Columbus, IN 47202.
  6. If I see you on a somewhat regular basis, you can ignore the postage and handling if you don’t mind arranging a pickup.

NOTE: I still have copies of my first book, “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher” in my basement. If you’d like one of those, follow the procedure above, except the book costs just $15 (I ordered too many. Lesson learned).

‘Wicked’ release date announced

My second book, “Wicked Columbus, Indiana” is scheduled to be released on June 19. As we get closer to that date, I’ll be announcing book signings, a possible book launch party, media coverage and a pre-sale where you can order signed b8791-wick-front-cvrooks from me before they’re published and I mail them to you as soon as they arrive in my clutches. Price to be determined by The History Press.

The book will also be available at your local bookstore (if it’s not in stock, just ask them to get it for you and all your friends) as well as all major online book vendors (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.) And if you prefer reading on your Nook, Kindle or other e-reader, “Wicked” will also be available in that format.

My first book, “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher,” are still available in print and e-book formats. In fact, I just mailed three to former Wauwatosa East classmates of mine this week! Email me at phof63@sbcglobal.net for details.

Look at this groovy cover

8791-wick-cvr

After a few minor changes, the front and back covers of my next book have been approved. This is quite a colorful display. I can’t wait for it to come out in print (and in e-book).

My first edits have gone back to The History Press. The folks there will go through the manuscript one more time and page it before I get one final look.

My best guess is that our release will be March 2017. Details to come.

We’re looking at March

The History Press, my publisher, is going through the first edits on “Wicked Columbus Indiana,” my second book. We will go through two edits apiece before the book gets published. Seems like this is about a six-week process, so we should be out early March I’d imagine. We will keep everyone up to date and do a pre-sale.

Before I start writing in earnest again (whatever project I decide to tackle next, I’m not sure), I’ve been catching up on a little bit of reading.  The most recent books I’ve read are by people I know:

  • “5 Days in May: The Greatest Spectacle in Science Fiction” by John C. Bodin and RonCollins. I used to be in a writers group with Ron and find his sci-fi sports stuff very enjoyable. He does other sci-fi, so if you’re into that, check his stuff out here.
  • “Monkey in the Middle” by Dobie Maxwell, a comedian and former radio host from Milwaukee with a heck of a life story. Find out more about “Mr. Lucky” here.
  • Oh, and I must mention that my talented wife, Kimberly Hoffman, has just had her first book published. It’s a children’s story about a little spider who goes to dance class called “Emma’s Dancing Day.” It’s available everywhere books are sold. You can find more info at her publisher’s website here.

Prior to those two books, I got my poetry fix on with “Last Words” by Antler, who attended the same high school I did (Wauwatosa East in Wisconsin), but graduated way, way before me. I was also in the middle of “Gathering Place of the Waters: 30 Milwaukee Poets” when I started writing my latest book. So I have to get back to that.

I’ve completely switched gears the past week and am reading a 1951 book by L.L. Castetter called “Fundamentals of Human Engineering” that I picked up at a new shop in Franklin, Indiana, called Studio Stuff. The premise of this book is that man has developed so much knowledge about stuff, but knows so little about man and he needs to learn more about himself and his fellow humans in order for us to form a better existence for each other.

And I need to finish Peter Roller’s “Milwaukee Garage Bands: Generations of Grassroots Rock” that has a bookmark stuck in it.

So, until I get my manuscript back to work on, I’ll be reading and writing.

The Other Side of the Tracks

slum-areas

A map of Columbus, Indiana, shows some of the major slum areas from the late nineteenth century into the middle of the twentieth century.

Following are a few excerpts from my forthcoming book, “Wicked Columbus, Indiana,”  which I anticipate being available late winter 2017. These excerpts are from the chapter titled “The Other Side of the Tracks,” detailing the exploits, excitement and foul living conditions of some of the city’s most blighted neighborhoods from the 1860s to the 1960s. Fortunately, all these areas got cleaned up.

______

As with most cities, Columbus has had its share of downtrodden neighborhoods over the years. For most of its history, these areas that housed the poorest residents and that were plagued by higher crime rates than other parts of the city were situated along the west and south sides of Columbus.

Smokey Row, Jug Row, Happy Hollow and Death Valley all pretty much fell into this pattern of substandard housing and higher crime rates.”

______

The condemnation of the local Smoky Row continued: “The mid-night orgies held in some of the so-called houses and cellars of the Row, include draughts from the flowing bowl of the vilest whiskey, demonic dances by the squeaking of an old fiddle, unhallowed embraces between those loathsome with disease, and other things whose mention should not fall on the cultivated ear.”

______

Public outrage demanded that Happy Hollow be cleaned up.

“Some of these boys and girls claim that they do not know any better,” read The Republican on February 26, 1909. “They have lived in poverty and squalor all their lives. Their homes are the meanest sorts of hovels and they learned to swear and blackguard as they learned to talk. Something ought to be done to clean up that end of town and put an end to the youthful tragedies which have been coming to light so rapidly the past few months.”

______

“The conditions along Jug Row as set forth by some of the witnesses were revolting in the extreme and almost beyond belief that they could exist among civilized people and in a community that made even the slightest pretentions at morality,” The Republican reported, adding that some people of high rank and respectability were involved. “The wild debauches in which the denizens of that locality have indulged puts anything of that kind in previous years to shame.”

______

The rat problem was horrific in Death Valley, and they came out of nearby fields and wooded areas when the floods hit. In April 1939, during another bout of high water, Mel Christopher, in charge of the dog pound, said that his brother-in-law, Alex Baker, had killed 140 rats in the neighborhood and that hundreds of others had gotten away.

Now if this back cover text isn’t jaw-dropping…

Here is the text that is planned for the back cover of my upcoming book, “Wicked in Columbus, Indiana,” due out probably late winter:

Dubbed “The Athens of the Prairie” for its array of stunning modern architecture, Columbus still endured its share of unsavory citizens, crime-ridden neighborhoods and tales of woe. Many residents avoided the infamous slums of Smoky Row and Death Valley, while others gave in to the allure of Lillian “Todie” Tull’s famed house of ill-repute on North Jackson Street. Two different father-son hoodlum partnerships, The McKinneys and Bells, terrorized the area in the 1800s. And a brutal fist fight between a newspaper editor and the mayor sparked a scandal in 1877. Author Paul J. Hoffman guides the reader on a wild ride through the city’s salacious side.

And below are some photos that have a really good shot at being included in the book:

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Moonshining was big business in Columbus, even into the 1960s. Here, Sheriff J. Walter Johns inspects a homemade still found in a local chicken house.

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Lillian “Todie” Tull was one of Columbus’ most famous madames. She, along with a couple of alleged accomplices, was accused with trying to entice a young woman to come to Columbus for employment with the intention of turning her into a prostitute.
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Ralph Drake, a man who battled alcoholism as a young adult, killed his lover, Ida Ward, and tried to kill himself in a Columbus boarding house in 1893.
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The first local speech on the Ku Klux Klan was held at city hall in 1922.

Making ‘wicked’ progress on my next book

I’ve been researching at breakneck speed for my second book, “Wicked in Columbus, Indiana.” The book, which will be published by The History Press, should be out sometime early 2017. It focuses on some of the crummy stuff the city has experienced (although nothing more recent than 1980). I also talk about how some of this crummy stuff has been cleaned up.

I’m about 90 percent done with the research for three of the chapters, which center on a public fight between the oldest editor and the youngest mayor in the state of Indiana in 1877, the Ku Klux Klan’s presence in Columbus and Bartholomew County over the years, and a look at two doctors who were poisoned and the investigation into who did it.

Many more chapter to work on, including two areas of the city that were considered the worst slums the city has ever seen, a bevy of brothels in the early 1900s, as well as a few murders and robberies and a few other topics.

Click on the photos below to see caption information.

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