Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Woeful Spotlight: Maureen Wittbold

Do you have a secret talent? 

I wish I could say I have a secret talent like tying a knot in a cherry stem with my tongue; however,  if you know me and I have a talent, you are sure to have heard about it by now.

If you could go on a road trip with any famous person (dead or alive), who would it be and where would you go? 

I would take a road trip with Mother Teresa. I doubt we’d stop to buy anything but I’m sure we’d give a lot of ourselves away and that in itself, would be a gift.

If a film studio was to do a movie on your life, what would it be titled?

A movie about me would be called “Coloring outside the Lines” and would be the film version of my novel. I grew up in a large Irish Catholic family with five brothers. No matter how hard I tried, I never seemed to do anything perfectly right so I spent my days trying to be the very best I could so that I could save the souls of my brothers who were also lovable but far from perfect themselves.

Promote yourself – where can we find your writing, and what projects are you working on right now?

I am in the process of looking for an agent for my novel. Coloring outside the Lines takes place in, an upper middle class suburb and is home to Harry and Lillian LeBlanc. Harry is the hardworking underdog, victim to Lillian’s alcoholic post bridge game rages, and father to five children. Lillian, the mistress and matriarch of the household, hires and fires the help; however, the help, as often as not, raid the liquor cabinet and leave of their own accord. Deceived and enraged, Lillian feels entitled to use what would have been the maid’s salary, to reward herself with a weekly antique for the domestic services she herself had to render. She fashions herself after Jackie Kennedy and is perpetually chagrined that her husband sells carpet when other husbands golf, enjoy martini lunches, and hobnob with the elite. The children are raised to be guilt ridden ‘you could die in your sleep’ Catholics. Every Sunday, before the Holy Communion wafer has had a chance to dissolve on Lillian’s acerbic tongue, she launches into a commentary about ‘the fruits,’ ‘the wops,’ and the classless members of the church’s congregation. Nightly, the family gathers to pray the rosary.

 Joseph, the oldest son, shares his mother’s sense of entitlement and emotionally batters his siblings. Gerard believes he is a reincarnated Confederate soldier who spends ‘a lot of time on the battlefield in his head.’  Ann, the only daughter, feels a grave responsibility to be a modern day saint until, fueled by hormones, she falls from grace and lusts after swarthy bad boys. Paul, ‘the fanatic,’ irons his Fruit of the Loom underwear. An outfit is never complete without his scapulars. Benjamin, when not being ignored, is ostracized for his simple mind and hearing impairment.

Prejudice is promoted by the adults, battled by the uncomprehending innocents and dominates the themes of sibling rivalry, Catholicism, sexual discovery, success, failure, heartbreak, desire, and loss. Dialogue is succinct, strong, and witty, shaping the characters. Details cement a strong sense of time and place. 

 Fate rears its ugly head when Joseph, falls madly in love with and beds Monica, a young Jamaican maid. The book comes full circle as Lillian, sipping her Jack Daniels Manhattan, pens her yearly Christmas newsletter detailing the illusionary life of her perfect family. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Woeful Spotlight: Paige Kane

Your story is about a case of mistaken identity.  If you were a spy, what would your secret code name be? 
 If I were a spy, my secret code name would be Payne.  First name, Ophelia.  Of course, this is because I am a spy employed by OSHA hired specifically to investigate the folks in the body piercing industry and their relevant background experience.  I find it fascinating that people who can't muster the fortitude to complete a GED are granted license to poke holes in other peoples' bodies. "Here's the form, the fee and the boy scout promise not to pierce anyone under the age of 18."   I think there's more to it than that, but that gets your foot in the door.  Whoa.
What do you miss about being a kid?   
I miss everything about being a kid.  I miss not wearing a watch.  I miss melted popsicle juice slobbering down the front of my terrycloth halter top and yet looking perfectly appropriate for a kid on a hot summer day.  I miss the sense and excitement of an entirely unknownlife ready to unfold before me…that anything is possible.   But what I miss the most is just being with my family.  So many of my extended family members moved away and didn't stay in touch.  It's sad.  And, of course, all of those who have passed.  When you're a kid and you’re stuck for hours on end at a family function, you take for granted that it's always going to be that way.  I never guessed that our family would scatter, but they did and I don't have nearly enough photos of those early memories.
If you could go on a road trip with any famous person (dead or alive), who would it be and where would you go? 
If I could go on a road trip with anyone,it would be JFK, Jr.  We would travel to places that most represent the idea of Americana to me.  Charleston, St. Louis, Austin.  Yes, I know. You wanted to hear me say someone riveting like the Dalai Lama or someone controversial like Richard Nixon.  I'm certainly interested in history and social issues but sorry folks, if I'm going to be confined in a vehicle with someone for more than an hour, they have to look good and smell better.  It's that simple. 
 Promote yourself – where can we find your writing, and what projects are you working on right now?
The things I've written are hard to come by as the majority of my work (screenplays) aren't usually made available to the public.  Although, I did win the Nevada Film Fest's 2009 Short Screenplay top prize and I'm willing to send it to anyone interested in reading/producing it!  I recently wrote a promo/doc for the Newport Film Commission, a children's book for which I am currently researching agents and I've been working on a novel about an American family struggling against the backdrop of the Vietnam War.  Other than that, I haven't been busy at all!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Woeful Spotlight: John J. White

So, your wife is your editor. Are you ever forced to sleep on the couch for silly grammar mistakes, such as using a semicolon wrong?
No. The couch is reserved for spelling mistakes. My wife won her fourth grade spelling bee and has been rubbing it in ever since. I can’t spell. I have never used their, there, or they’re properly in a sentence. I also can’t type, which is why St. Pam, as my writing friends call my wife, types my hand written prose, which looks like it was written by an apoplectic chicken on Oxycontin.

Obviously, stealing toilet paper takes the cake of embarrassing college stories, but do you have any others you'd like to share?
The city shut off the water temporarily to my college apartment complex at 4 PM. That didn’t stop me from trying the faucets and leaving them on. I went to work and came home to my second story apartment about 10 PM to hear water pouring into my neighbor’s apartment downstairs. Fortunately, I had no money so they couldn’t sue.
So, you actually met your future mother-in-law before you met your future wife. How did Myrtle react when her daughter brought the infamous Toilet Paper Caper home for the first time?
She raised her eyebrows when she recognized me but never said a thing. Probably because earlier that day I had gone surfing in big waves and the seawater got stuck in my nasal cavity. Hours later it dripped out when I least expected it, right on my porterhouse during dinner. I believe that made Myrtle forget the toilet paper incident.
What's in the works for you right now in the realm of writing?
I am finishing a novel titled Nisei, about a Japanese – American boy in Hawaii and his experiences at Pearl Harbor, in the internment camps, and during his tour of duty with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in Europe after D-Day. It’s not supposed to be funny, but I do have some other humorous short stories and novel excerpts on my website at 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Woeful Spotlight: Connie Donnelly

Your story is about an embarrassing thing you said during a blind date.  Please share another time you stuck your foot in your mouth.
Fortunately (with the exception of the most recent story) I have become more tactful over the years. So, it's a struggle to think of times during my adulthood where I really put my foot in my mouth. My childhood is another story. At one point, my father was doing a lot of business with Russia. It was not uncommon for us to have some Russian businessman (typically very refined + conservative) over for dinner with his interpreter. One time when one was over and I was giving him a tour of the house (I was a good tour guide), the interpreter picked up one of my antique dolls when we stopped in my playroom.  The Russian said to her, "You look like the Madonna & child."  I was impressed by his knowledge of American pop culture.  After dinner when the adults were having coffee, I bounded into the living room with two Madonna albums, "Like A Prayer" and "Erotica".  "Have you seen these in Russia?" I asked. Evidently, he was talking about a different Madonna.  Who knew?

You have a dog named Versace.  Tell us a Versace story. 

I truly admire those people who rescue abandoned dogs from animal shelters. I'm not one of those people though. I like a particular type of rare breed dog that has superior breeding and extensive paperwork. Finding Versace was not an easy process. I had searched high and low until I found a breeder I approved of. The day had finally arrived for me to get him. The woman had told me that she wouldn't pre-place a specific dog with its owners until I could meet the entire litter. I knew that I wanted Versace though. He was the smallest, the whitest and the calmest. When I walked into her home I was horrified to find that there was a woman and her 10 y/o son there - they were also looking at the dogs.  There was Versace in the boy's lap. The kid was not holding one but THREE puppies. I grimaced, braced myself and politely ask the heavily perfumed woman "Oh, have you just started looking?"  She replied, "Yes, but we can't decide." That was my cue. I immediately swooped in, picked up Versace and said, "Oh really? I have." and handed the breeder my check. I felt guilty for about 20 seconds but then I figured that I saved Versace from getting some stupid name like "Snowball" and possibly dying of asphyxiation on the woman's perfume.

If you had to be stranded on a deserted island with only five items, what would they be? 

A survival book, a mirror, vodka w/ rocks that never melt, Mr. Big from Sex & the City.

What would your autobiography be titled? 

Strength, Grace and Some Profanity.