Interview with Patrick Witz

Describe your desk
A two to three foot horseshoe shaped pile of paper around my computer screen. A clean desk is confirmation of a sick mind. A messy desk is confirmation of commitment to a task/goal regardless of distraction from ants eating crumbs, spiders eating ants, fuzzy gray coffee mugs, blinking message lights on the answering machine from collection companies regarding buried unopened bills, or the fact that I can't find my car keys... oh wait, found them... now wondering how they ended up on a picture hook, hmmm... what happen to that picture? Whatever, back to writing my story...
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
To answer that question, YES, vividly; I will never forget it. Over 20 years ago, I started writing a humorous annual Witz Family Holiday Newsletter and received some unsolicited but very helpful advice. One of wife’s grand old aunts mailed my holiday letter back to me… each sentence had every kind of English 101 corrections...spelling, punctuation, grammar… ALL WRITTEN IN RED INK! I was not only embarrassed and upset for months, my whimsical artsy heart had been ripped out, I was demoralized, devastated. However, when I pulled that corrected letter out eleven months later, I relived that moment of envelop opening... until I re-read the letter. She was 110% correct, it was first-draft unedited awful! My anger morphed into embarrassment and my ego was muted. THAT’S when I took my writing seriously. From that date forward, I never again sent out any of my writing anywhere to anyone without exhaustive editing and polishing.
What's the story behind your latest book?
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 exchanges nationally and internationally on the internet. 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 skillfully integrate into their short story – 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... "Through Button Eyes: A Collection of Short Fiction".
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
My passion is art... writing, photography, painting and whatever catches my fancy. I created "Through Button Eyes: A Collection of Short Fiction" cover art and have over 400 eclectic works of art and photograph for sale at http://patrick-witz.artistswebsites.com
What is your writing process?
Write a story outline. Create a rough first draft. Self-edit and cut and chop unnecessary fluff from the first draft. Then I refine the script, paying attention to the plot, characters, dialogue and settings. I read the manuscript out loud, pencil in any spoken corrections and toss the manuscript in a drawer for two or three weeks (allows one’s head to reboot and gives a new refreshed perspective). I pull the document out and re-edit again, refining the plot, developing the finer points of my characters, sharping the dialogue, and detailing the settings. Polishing comes next, first using several editing programs that highlight questionable words, sentences, slow paced paragraphs. Correct or ignore the programs suggestions and send the polished manuscript to two or three double-blind Beta-Readers (double-blind= I don’t know who the reader is and the reader doesn’t know who the author is). Receive their input and self-re-edit again. Re-polish the manuscript through editing programs. Have someone read the story to me and edit anything that sounds off. Finish the manuscript and send a polished story to editor for final review and possible re-editing again.
How do you approach cover design?
Step One: Do a word use search of the entire book. Determine the most used nouns and action words. I rearrange them into a title.
Step Two: Using the title and the word usages, determine the mood of the book, the primary character(s), plot points, and settings. From those markers I attempt to put them metaphorically or literally into art or a photograph.
Step Three: Modify the art or photograph to reflect the mood and simplify the cover's visual message.
Step Four: Incorporate the title onto the image using a contrasting color, appropriate font, shadow, determine the size and thickness of the font and 3-D imaging.
Step Five: Use Beta-Readers to rate the cover, explain the cover meaning, and like-ability.
Step Six: Shrink the image to a 1x1.5 inch size to determine if the image effect is still visible, legible, and contrasting enough against a white background (Amazon Icon size on a white background)
Step Seven: Scrap or Redo everything if anything in Step 1 through Step Six doesn't work.
Tell us a little bit about your main characters?
I wrote seven of the fifteen short stories in “Through Button Eyes: A Collection of Short Fiction”… so there isn’t just one main character, there are many. My characters in the book are diverse: romantic lovers; drunks hanging out with a rotting zombie; a humorous dysfunctional family on vacation; a devastated family in crises; a down and out business man who finds luck; an Alzheimer’s patient with a mysterious past; and a couple of NASA J.P.L. employees that accidentally open Pandora's box.
Who are your favorite authors?
Not in any particular order: Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe, Isaac Asimov, Arthur Conan Doyle, J.R.R. Tolkien, O. Henry, John Updike
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The freedom to imagine and create whenever, wherever, whatever world you please and direct the interactions of that world's participants, personalities, and dialogues, plus determine who lives and who dies with a swipe of my pen! The greatest feeling is knowing your written words come alive in the minds of readers.
What are you working on next?
Currently working on several new short stories for the next anthology due out in 2018.
Published 2017-09-07.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Through Button Eyes: A Collection of Short Fiction
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 69,670. Language: English. Published: December 5, 2016 by Placer Gold Writers Ink. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - multi-author, Fiction » Themes & motifs » Family sagas
(5.00 from 1 review)
5-Star rated Through Button Eyes is a unique multi-genre collection of short stories that will thrill, intrigue & entertain. The 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards (NGIBA) awarded it as an Anthology Division medalist. These diverse stories range from... tender coming-of-age to Sci-Fi adventure; romantic moments to brutal murder; magical fantasy to family tragedy...and a humorous odd zombie.