Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Father and fan

Although the Writers-World Series is not about baseball, the summer-tinged name has attracted the interest of some baseball fans including Illinois author Tom Hernandez. I met Tom a million years ago when he was a college student and talented intern at the Joliet Herald-News. He sent me one of his more recent short stories about a baseball game he enjoyed with his daughters one Father's Day a few years back. I figured my readers should get a chance to read this delightful story, "The Margarita Man," because it captures so much about fans and family. Just click on the link. 
          And then come back and read Tom's interview for the Writers-World Series. Happy Father's Day to Tom and all the fathers out there!



Tom Hernandez and daughters Emma and Olivia.


Name: Tom Hernandez
Home team: Plainfield, Illinois, by way of Joliet, Illinois
Position: Director of Community Relations for Plainfield Community Consolidated
School District 202
Batting average: Chocolate Cows and Purple Cheese and other tales from the homefront
(essays); Abundance (poetry); The Edge of Middle – thoughts from the top of the hill (essays, fiction
and poetry)
Website: tomhernandezbooks.com
Blog: tomhernandezbog.wordpress.com

Opening Pitch: 

My writing explores the many complicated facets of life --  marriage, family, parenting, faith and politics. The world is not black and white – we live in a thousand shades of gray. My writing reflects all of it.

Considering the positions on a baseball team -- such as catcher, shortstop, left field, etc. -- which best describes the way you write and why? Pitcher. I throw out thoughts to get the game going.

Tell us about your third game of a series:  My first book illustrated my life as a young dad, husband, etc. My poetry reflected the bonds between us – emotional, spiritual. My third
book is all about the journey to, and through, middle age. The game of life goes on…

No one wins a game alone. Who’s on your team? I have been lucky/blessed to work with, learn and steal from a number of truly talented people, including Sue Merrell, who was my very first professional newspaper editor at the Joliet Herald News. I am a proud and grateful member of the WriteOn Joliet writers group. Every writer needs a gaggle of like-minded people to bounce ideas, seek HONEST (constructive) feedback, learn from, laugh with and grow together in his/her abilities and perspectives. Chief among these is Denise Baran-Unland who has taught me more about the process of non-journalistic writing (most especially fiction, which is not my
greatest strength.)

So what’s your game plan?  Love to do readings/signings as
fundraisers for groups. Just did one for a local library’s foundation. Always great fun.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Liar, liar. Pants on fire!

Lies, deception and "fake news" are the hottest topics of 2018. Which makes Laurie Ayer's first book,  Drive-Thru Deception, very timely. 
        Whether you are trying to figure out if your husband is cheating, or the used car salesman is pushing lemon, or just trying to make sense of the nightly news, Laurie's little book teaches you how to spot red flags in the language that may indicate deception.
Name: Laurie Ayers
Hometeam: West Michigan
Position: Deception Analyst (lie detector)
Batting average: Drive-Thru Deception: Liars Don’t Want You to Know These Bite Size Clues to Deceit
Website: www.LaurieAyers.com
Opening Pitch: 
Drive-Thru Deception is a handbook of how to uncover deception using words instead of body language. It is the ultimate pocket guide that liars don’t want you to have.

Considering the positions on a baseball team -- such as catcher, shortstop, left field, etc. -- which best describes the way you write and why? Definitely shortstop. SS is considered to be among the most demanding defensive positions. This position requires speed and agility, with a strong arm to throw out the batter before hitting first base. Likewise, the ability to tell if someone is lying also requires speed and agility. My book was written to be a quick read, 1-2 hours tops cover to cover. In this busy world, few have time to kick back and enjoy longer books. My style is quick and dirty. Why take up five pages to say what could be learned in two paragraphs?

Tell us about how you earned your spot in the Major Leagues: There are very few people who do what I do, analyze written and verbal statements for deception using a method called forensic statement analysis, which is the most accurate method to determine credibility. Some of my credentials include certification in Statement Analysis® Interviewing Techniques and I am a certified delegate of the Paul Ekman Institute in Evaluating Truth and Credibility, Emotional Skills and Competencies and Train the Trainer. I wrote Drive-Thru Deception to give all readers a sampling of my extensive deception detection training in quick, practical tips that they could implement in their personal and professional lives.

No one wins a game alone. Who’s on your team? My key infielders were Kent R. Jones leading off as Substantive Editor; Elizabeth Wiegner positioned as Proofreader; and Melinda Martin brought it home as Interior Designer. My outfielder was RICHARD Reese, who published this fine playbook.

So what’s your game plan? The Headline reads: Streaker Runs on Field, Exposing Herself to Crowd After Home Run. My game plan is all about continued exposure. In Field of Dreams, Shoeless Joe Jackson repeatedly says, “If you build it, he will come.” However, in authoring, the readers and the buyers will not come simply because I built it. The writing and getting published was the easy part. Marketing and exposure is a continuous effort. My latest efforts are concentrated on exposing myself to more people (I’m talking about my book, of course). I’m focused on getting into more bookstores. Right now Drive-Thru Deception is available through my website, www.LaurieAyers.com for autographed copies, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Schuler Books in Grand Rapids and I’m working with some other bookstores throughout Michigan.

COMING SOON! Illinois author Tom Hernandez joins us Wednesday for the next game in the Writer-World Series. If you'd like to get a taste of Tom's work, you'll find a link to one of his short stories, The Margarita Man, listed on the side column of this blog. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Hen in the Bull Pen

This week the Writers-World Series visits with Amy Henrickson, known simply as Ms. Hen to her fans.
          A mother and grandmother,  Ms. Hen started writing children's books in 2011 after attending the Iowa Writers Summer Festival.  She wanted to write books that featured a smart, spunky, principled, and interesting protagonist.
           "Girls are so much more than glittery princesses; they are self-reliant problem-solvers," Ms. Hen said. "Girls can be anything: scientists, mathematicians, astronauts."
          Add successful author to that list.

Ms. Hen perches on Mark Twain's desk in Hannibal, Mo.

Name: Amy Henrickson aka Ms.Hen
Hometeam: I live in Grandville, MI, between Lake Michigan and beer city Grand Rapids
Position:  Writer, painter, community gad-about
Batting average:

John Ball (biography);


Opening pitch:
When working as a library supervisor in elementary schools, I was discouraged by the many thin stories of goofballs, fairies, and princesses, so I wrote the Lottie Gunderson, Girl Scientist books to inspire young readers to be curious, brave, and resourceful.
John Ball was the Forest Gump of early settlement days of West Michigan – an explorer, adventurer, land speculator, and philanthropist.  He gave the property for Grand Rapids’ zoo and park. 
Let’s Explore Mackinac Island is a guidebook with history, Q&A, walking tour, scavenger hunt, travel tips, and resources.

Considering the positions on a baseball team -- such as catcher, shortstop, left field, etc. -- which best describes the way you write and why? I would say Catcher.  I’m always on the look-out for ideas.  I catch ‘em, chew on ‘em, and then write about ‘em, and sometimes illustrate ‘em, too!

Tell us about scoring a home run:
My most recent book, Let’s Explore Mackinac Island, has been a pretty big hit on the mainland as well as on the Island.

No one wins a game alone. Who’s on your team? Although I do the writing and photography/illustrations of all of the books, my daughter, Abby Elizabeth, a graphic designer, does the lay-out and file uploading for me.  She’s a whiz and a half.
         My writing group of five people (FLAG—Four Ladies And a Gent) has been meeting faithfully for about six years.  We’ve celebrated publishing successes and continue to help and challenge each other with kindness, good humor, expertise… and snacks.
         Librarians have been a source of inspiration and encouragement.
         My friends and family --  I wish everybody had people like mine. They’re so great.

So what’s your game plan?

I’ll be selling books at Rockford,Michigan’s “Reading Rocks” event on Saturday. June 2 from 10 a.m. -1 p.m.

      I am also attending Princeton Seminary’s Frederick Buechner Writing Conference and Peninsula Writers' Writing Retreat at Glen Lake. And singing in the Grandville Community Choir at events in Grandville all summer.

COMING WEDNESDAY: Drive Thru Deception: Liars Don't Want You to Know These Bite-Size Clues to Deceit.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

True Blue Cub Fans

With baseball season in full swing, the Writers-World Series is proud to feature a book about the sport's beloved  2016 champs, The Chicago Cubs.
         Cubsessions: Famous Fans of Chicago’s North Side Baseball Team tells the story of divergent life paths – the roads taken, the failures experienced, and the successes reached – and how those paths all come together for a collective passion.
  Today we talk with Becky Sarwate who co-authored the book along with Randy Richardson.  "We make a great team," Becky says. "I’m the more outspoken and blunt executor. Randy is the thinker, the 'good cop' and strategist. If we were players on the Cubs, we might be known as Becky 'The Bull' and 'Professor' Randy. "

Names: Becky Sarwate and Randy Richardson.
Hometeam: Becky was born and raised in Chicago and lives within walking distance of Wrigley Field with husband Bob and two cats. Randy, who moved to the Chicago area from a Milwaukee suburb, lives in Evanston with his wife, son and two cats.
Position: Becky is Enterprise Marketing and Communications Advisor at TransUnion, an adjunct English instructor at Northeastern Illinois University, a freelance journalist, theater critic, blogger, political columnist and sports writer. Randy is an attorney, journalist and founding member/first president of the Chicago Writers Association.
Batting average: Cubsessions: Famous Fans of Chicago’s North Side Baseball Team is their first joint project. Randy is also the author of two novels, Cheeseland and Lost in the Ivy, both from Eckhartz Press

Opening pitch:
The Cubs are more than just a baseball team to those who root for them. From the heartaches of 1969 and 2003 to the pure joy of 2016, emotional ties bind fans of Chicago’s North Side ball club. Some of the team’s most famous fans, including Bob Newhart, Pat Brickhouse, Dennis Franz, Nick Offerman, Joe Mantegna, Scott Turow, Bill Kurtis, and many others, share just what it means to bleed Cubbie blue.

Considering the positions on a baseball team -- such as catcher, shortstop, left field, etc. -- which best describes the way you write and why? I would call myself an ace reliever. My work is quick, precise and usually effective. My sister has promoted me as the best content and copy editor in town. Randy is the experienced manager. He’s been to the publishing “big game” before and had much to teach me. He's also a terrific, multi-tasking project coordinator. I would want him leading any team of which I am part.

Tell us about your  surprise drafting to the big leagues:  I will never forget the March 2017 late afternoon that Randy and I sat enjoying happy hour drinks at the G-Man in Wrigleyville. I was excited about Randy's new Cubs book project with Eckhartz Press and thought myself bold in offering to serve as a manuscript reader. I was literally speechless when Randy countered with a question, "How about being co-author?" It's an unbelievable dream moment frozen in time. I can never thank him enough for trusting me and inviting me along to share this amazing ride.

No one wins a game alone. Who’s on your team? 
 It truly took a village to bring this project from concept to reality in just 12 months. After all, neither of us is a full-time author. The team at Eckhartz Press pitched the idea for the book to Randy and supported us by offering potential interview subjects and contact information, trusted us enough not to micromanage the project, and then of course published the manuscript.
My trusted and invaluable assistant Brian Walsh did so much leg work to make many of these amazing conversations happen. Randy and I always enjoy unbelievable support from our spouses and families, as well as the twin literary communities of which we’re both members – the Illinois Woman’s Press Association and Chicago Writers Association. And finally without the enthusiasm and participation of our interviewees, who shared their many Cubs hopes, dreams and heartaches, there would literally be no book.

So what’s your game plan?
As this project is a dream come true for Randy and I, we’re thrilled to pay it forward by donating all author proceeds to our three charity partners: Chicago Baseball Cancer Charities (CBCC), Scoreboard Charities (SC), and the Chicago Baseball Museum (CBM). CBCC and SC help fund cancer research and patient care programs at Chicago-area hospitals, and supporting services to empower kids with cancer. CBM’s mission is to collect, preserve, document, research, and interpret artifacts and events which are associated with the legacy, evolution and contemporary life of Chicago baseball. All three are federally-registered 501(c)(3) tax-deductible charitable organizations.
We have a number of upcoming signings and events that will help us sell this unique book and raise all the money we can for these worth causes:

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Remembering Walter

     I guess you could say Walter was my young grandpa. He was only 35 when he was struck by a train 91 years ago this month.
     Walter was headed to Irondale, Missouri, to pick up some cement. A freight train was stopped on a siding near a railroad crossing just south of town. Walter drove his small Ford truck through the crossing, not realizing the freight train masked his view of an oncoming passenger train.
     Walter left six kids and a pregnant wife. My mom, who was born four months later, never even met her father.
       I've imagined the train accident that took Walter's life 100 times, but it wasn't until I was working on my genealogy recently that I realized Walter lost his mother when he was just five years old. His sisters, 10 and 12, were probably left to care for the three younger siblings while their father tended the farm. For the first time I see Walter as a lonely, scared little boy.
        Walter knew what it was like to lose a parent. He would have hated leaving his poor kids behind.  As fate would have it, Walter's widow Bertha got cancer and died when my Mom was 7. My mother grew up at Missouri Baptist Children's home.  She said she turned to her heavenly father because she never knew her earthly one.
           As we celebrate Mother's Day this weekend I am reminded how lucky I am to have had the love and guidance of my mother through my entire life. And I remember my young grandpa who grew up without his mother and never got to know the joy of seeing his own children grow up.

COMING WEDNESDAY: Writers-World Series continues with "Cubsessions: Famous Fans of Chicago's North Side Baseball Team."