Author Interview: Patrick Witz

33292406The Placer Gold Writers have written a collection of fifteen previously unpublished short fiction stories that will most assuredly take readers on a thrilling emotional roller coaster ride. This exciting anthology embraces a spectrum of genres: literary fiction, romantic suspense, fantasy, swashbuckling, action/adventure, memoir, dystopia, coming of age, science fiction, thriller, tragedy, LGBT, and even horror comedy. Each story includes – in whatever quirky way – a specific plot point: a diminutive, seemingly innocuous… button!

Authors included:
Patrick Witz
Annemarie Olsen
David Loofbourrow
Davin L. Kent
Jane Haworth
Evelina Dunn
Kathleen Coleman

Judging by its description, Through Button Eyes promises to satisfy just about everyone’s literary tastes. (How terrific!) Today’s visiting architect is one of the anthology’s authors, Patrick Witz. Wait until you see his shirt. It’s nothing short of great. 😉

capture1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Patrick Witz. I have been characterized as lot of things… child, brother, husband, father, grandfather, writer, photographer, artist, childcare owner, oddball teacher, a nice guy, and at times by his in-laws a few unprintable Italian expletives. Twenty-five years ago, my wife and I packed up our young daughters, belongings and escaped the crowded megalopolis of Southern California and risked everything to settle in the wilderness of the Sierra Gold Country. We bravely embraced our new lifestyle amongst the night’s bazillion stars, stunning forests, snow melt filled lakes and gorgeous scenery. Our exodus from the concrete jungle introduced us to new consternations… five-hundred foot wells, septic systems, forbidden dank mineshafts, ink black moonless nights teaming with wild critters, large carnivores and hordes of blood sucking insects. It was adventurous… but we could not be happier.

2. When did you start writing?
Since our move to Northern California, family and friends have come to expect my annual creative and entertaining family holiday newsletters… the theme changes every year. My nonfiction writing has spanned many years with close to two-hundred articles and photos published in several local newspapers and digital/print magazines. This nonfiction focus was predominately on travel, food, childcare, medical, fire prevention, child safety, water issues, and theatric reviews. I also wrote for and then became editor and publisher of an online family oriented Gold Country event and travel E-magazine.

3. Why did you start writing?
My whimsical family newsletters were well received by family and friends to a point that they commented on its arrival as being a highlight to their holiday reading. That fueled the flames for many years and eventually I joined a writing group that as well supported and encouraged my writing skills. I learned early with my first family letter the need to hone my writing skills. One of wife’s aunts mailed the letter back… every line had corrections, arrows and marks… ALL IN RED! I was embarrassed and upset for months. When I pulled it out and re-read it before sending out my second holiday letter, I came to my senses. She was correct, it was first draft unedited awful! THAT’S when I took writing seriously. Never again have I sent anything out without excessive editing and refinement.

4. Do you recall the moment that you and the other authors of Through Button Eyes first conceived the idea for your novel?
At one warm summer writing meeting in 2015, our group was exploring options of what to write about in one of our writing challenge workshops. One member early on in the meeting shared a personal development in his life, whereas he inherited a collection of over ten thousand buttons. He shared his surprise that many of the buttons had large monetary values and that there were many collectors negotiating and exchanging buttons at “Button Shows” and on the internet both nationally and internationally. Who knew? None of us were aware that there was a worldwide all-encompassing Button Market! The wine was flowing and the group laughingly decided on an odd writing challenge. Each member was to write a short story that would include – in whatever quirky way – a specific plot point: use a diminutive, seemingly innocuous… button. As the humorous discussion of the new writing challenge heightened, the group tossed about taking the writing assignment one-step further. We decided to combine all our short button stories and publish them as an e-Book or print-on-demand publication. Straightaway the simple writing assignment exploded into a group-publishing project… and the short story fictional anthology involving buttons was born.

5. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
First off, I have make note that I have not found comfort in one particular genre. My eclectic nature leads me into a labyrinth of fictional paths, varied narrative points-of-view, and blending of genres. I strive to create characters that visually come to life in a reader’s mind. In “Through Button Eyes” story collection, my character’s range from caring family members, cautious adventurers, and relatable quirky aliens to rotting zombies and psychopath killers. I enjoy composing unique settings, emotional plots, and introducing sudden story-line surprises. My diverse style is the spice of my writing – sometimes sweet, sometimes bitter, often includes a sprinkle of humor, a pinch of peculiar flavor, and on occasion I’ll end by tossing in an unsuspected twist or emotional punch.

6. Tell us a little bit about your book’s title and cover.
The book’s title is “Through Button Eyes: A Collection of Short Fiction”.  This title went through numerous modifications. We went round and round until the co-editors (myself and another author) did some research and found that the title needed to compliment the reading material and not be just symbolic. It wasn’t until all the stories had been written that we decided on a title. I lumped all the stories together into one MS Word document and ran the 70,000 word manuscript through an analysis program to find the five most used nouns (ignoring: the, and, are, is, with, then, pronouns, etc). The top three were “Button”, “Buttons” and “Eyes”. “Through” was in the top thirty words used. After extensive discussions, we all agreed on the existing title.

The cover took considerably longer to come up with. I created about fifteen different ideas/photos and my co-editor came up with another five to eight ideas. The diversity was staggering and many were eliminated quickly for various reasons. Finally, I took a series of still-life images involving a square button using a pen light to cast a shadow. I incorporated a needle with a red thread and after a few different variations, the final image of the square metal button with a needle and red thread pinned through one of the button eyes, pen lit in an almost black background, thrilled everyone. The font and positioning took a week or two and we finally had our cover.

7. Any project in the works?
Our writing group is currently exploring ideas on what genre and locality our next short story anthology will centered around. The thoughts are Speculative Fiction using the Sierra Nevada mountain range and towns as settings. I’m also continuing to collect information and details for a novel about my father-in-laws WWII military experiences with the 38th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanized).

8. How long does it usually take you to write a story?
It usually takes me a few hours to write the first draft… then it takes me somewhere between twenty and thirty hours to edit and perfect the manuscript.

9. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
The “Three E’s of Authorship”… a good story must Entice, Engage, and Entertain it’s readers. Personally, I hope that everyone will appreciate and enjoy my cocktail of good short fiction: Mix well a flavorful blend of humanity, nature, space and time; Add generous amounts of imagination and creativity; Then serve it at times with a surprisingly tangy twist.

10. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Stay positive; learn to use criticism as a tool to hone your craft and understand that not everyone is going to like what you write. The best thing about being a writer is the freedom to imagine and create whatever, whenever and wherever world you please and direct the interactions of that world’s participants, personalities, and dialogues.

11. What is your favorite book?
That’s easy… “Through Button Eyes: A Collection of Short Fiction”!  This anthology is a multi-genre collection of short stories which will thrill, intrigue & entertain readers. Seven authors present fifteen previously unpublished short fictional stories… from tender coming of age to a humorous zombie, moments of romance to murder and magic – “Through Button Eyes” has something for everyone. The anthology embraces a broad spectrum of genres: literary fiction, romantic suspense, fantasy, swashbuckling, action/adventure, memoir, dystopia, coming of age, science fiction, thriller, tragedy, LGBT, and even horror comedy. This collection of short fiction will assuredly give book-lovers a thrilling emotional roller coaster experience of – excitement, fear, laughter, tears – as they revel in reading one marvelous short story after another.

Believe me when I say the authors, editors, and publishers of Placer Gold Writers group set a high goal for themselves… to create the best anthology of short fiction possible. All of us feel confident in stating that we have fulfilled the “Three E’s of Authorship”… creating a great book that will Entice, Engage, and Entertain it’s readers.  I wrote seven of the fifteen stories, created the cover image, developed our successful Kickstarter Publishing Campaign, created the Kickstarter video, and co-edited, co-published the book… I know intimately that this is a diverse wonderfully entertaining read.

And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Cake or ice-cream?
Cake

2. eBook or physical book?
Physical book

3. Living in the city or living in the country?
Living in the country

4. Being able to travel to the past or being able to travel to the future?
Being able to travel to the future

5. Making a phone call or sending a text?
Making a phone call

6. Staying in a hotel or going camping?
Staying in a hotel

7. Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind or being able to speak and understand every language known to animals?
Being able to speak and understand every language known to humankind

8. Going without internet access for a week or going without watching any movies/television shows for a week?
Going without watching any movies/television shows for a week

9. Losing your ability to speak or losing your ability to hear?
Losing my ability to speak

10. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
To never again eat a piece of chocolate

11. Have every day be Saturday or have every day be [insert your favorite holiday here]?
Have every day be Saturday

Thank you for joining us, Patrick!
Readers: want to learn more about Patrick’s anthology? He invites you to visit Goodreads, BookBubFacebook, or YouTube. Digital copies (eBooks) of Through Button Eyes are available on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.  Paperbacks can be found on Amazon and Barnes & Noble . To learn more about Patrick, click here.

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