Mymcbook's Blog interview

Mymcbook’s Blog
June 3, 2011

Interview with Author Larry Peterson
by Ella Johnson

Larry Peterson was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. As a freelancer, he has written many newspaper columns for local publications. “Slippery Willie’s Stupid, Ugly Shoes” is his first children’s book. Peterson has lived in Pinellas Park, Florida for the past 28 years.

Interview

I want to thank you for being my guest here on Mymcbooks Blog today.

What is the last book you read?

I’m reading (again) the last volume, #7, in C. S. Lewis” “Chronicles of Narnia”. The title is “The Last Battle”. So I guess the last book I read is volume #6, “The Silver Chair”. Anyway, I love how Lewis let his creativity run with these books. And it is always, from beginning to end, about good vs. evil. Of course, good triumphs. Characters are wonderful, from “Aslan” the great Lion, to Jadis, the “white witch” and Digory Kirke and Polly Plummer and—well, on and on. It is fun.

What were your earliest memories of writing?

I guess in 6th or 7th grade. I use to like to write stories about people and their “imagined weaknesses”.

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?

No, I think I just did it.

Are you working on a new book?

Yes, I just finished a novel called “The Priest and the Peaches”. It is about five kids from the Bronx who find themselves orphaned during Christmas season of 1965. IT is about their initial attempts to stay together as a family and how their parish priest gently guides them on their beginning journey into “grown-up world”. I would classify it as YA or Adult contemporary fiction. I don’t know if it will ever get published but, you never know. I am always insecure in the work I do—never really think it is very good.

What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?

I worked in the building trades in NYC for 15 years (Metal Lathers & Reinforcing Ironworkers—even worked on the Twin Towers). Had to leave the business when I was diagnosed with MS. (It was not in my best interests to be stumbling around 50 or 60 stories above the streets of Manhattan—LOL). Anyway, my wife, three kids and I moved to Florida 30 years ago. I went to college, graduated with a BS Degree in Computer Programming and could never get a job although all my interviews were very “pleasant”. (I was on crutches, could hardly walk, and I guess I did not
present a long term promise to prospective employers. I look back and laugh about it. Plus, I hated computers anyway. I got the degree because they told me
I would be in a wheelchair and yada, yada, yada. Whatever—I got myself walking (no easy task by the way) and started fixing up houses and did that off
and on for about 15 years. Today, I work part-time in a high-school cafeteria, write when I can, and take care of my wife who has cancer and is undergoing
chemo etc.

What inspired you to write Slippery Willie’s Stupid, Ugly Shoes’?

We were foster parents in New Jersey and the state sent us two brothers, aged 3 and 6, who were supposed to stay for about a week. Anyway, the youngest, Brian, had no self controls and would just get up and run right into things; the wall, the door, off the steps—he never got hurt and he and his brother stayed with us for two years. So, it was Brian who put the idea in my head.

How did you come up with your characters?

I guess from people I have known and/or met over the years.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?

Absolutely—to get rid of it I start to write, write anything, even doodle. Sooner or later a coherent thought kicks in.

How do you react to a bad review?

It is the “nature of the beast’ so to speak and I always can learn from any review. No problem.

Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with?

Never thought about something like this. Maybe Hemingway, definitely C. S. Lewis and his buddy. J. R. R. Tolkien just to be able to listen to them.

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?

Find books that deal with “giving” to others and that show that ALL people are special.

What advice you would give to new writers?

“Keep on truckin”—it is a very winding, up and down road with many, many potholes, soft shoulders and detours but you must be tenacious and stay the course. And NEVER take rejection personal.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

That I appreciate the work that you do and thank you for taking the time to do this with me.

Thank you for this interview.


"Don't blame Marriage"

Dr. Keith Ablow, one of America’s leading psychiatrists, an assistant professor at Tufts Medical School and a contributor on the Fox News Medical A-Team has some profound opinions on the subject of marriage. It seems that Dr. Ablow believes that marriage is a source of real suffering for the vast majority of married people and that it is “without a doubt, one of the leading causes of depression in the nation”. Under his banner of ‘healer” he suggests that marriage is a dying institution. In fact, to prove his point, he quotes actress, Cameron Diaz, who says that “marriage is a dying institution”. Ms. Diaz goes on the say that “she doesn’t think that we should live our lives based on old traditions that don’t suit our world any longer”. Dr. Ablow, reinforced by the profound wisdom of Ms. Diaz, insists that the end of marriage is only a matter of time now.”

Okay, I’m sure that there are many among the culturally elite who have taken their intelligibility to new metaphysical levels and applaud such lofty reviews. As for me, a blue-collar guy without the lofty credentials of a Dr. Ablow or a Cameron Diaz, I say–“Dr. Ablow, you are riding a horse called “Nonsense” and your sidekick, Cameron, a donkey named “Hogwash”.
Look folks, I understand that today we have a 50% divorce rate and that there are many single parent house-holds and that couples actually sign pre-nups (Pre-nuptial agreements) which, in my mind, tells me that do not trust each other to begin with. But–this has nothing to do with marriage.
Don’t blame marriage. Blame self-centerdness and me-ism. ME–ME–ME. Marriage, the ultimate commitment to giving of oneself to another, does not fare well when so many folks entering into this union continue to think of themselves first. The media glorifies self-gratification, relegates sexual activity to irresponsible impulse, encourages numerous partners and one night stands and mocks the bizarre concept of saying NO. Our kids are exposed to this twisted mindset from their formative years and onward. What has been attacked is a sense of self-denial, the beauty of self-sacrifice, and the mockery of a commitment which has allowed millions of couples to to enter into a long lasting, meaningful, fulfilling relationship that has lasted a beautiful lifetime. Marriage is the birth of a new family and the family is the cornerstone of our very society. To have such an institution demeaned by those who exist in a world which is the nectar of the tabloids, is a disgrace.
To all of you married couples who believed in commitment and loyalty and have fought the good fight, be proud. To all those who tried and know that in their hearts they gave it their best shot–be proud also. It takes “two to tango”and maybe one refused . Learn and try not to make the same mistake again.


"Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive"

Saturday, May 14, 2011, is the annual “Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive” sponsored by the National Association of Letter Carriers. The idea is simple (you may have already received a post-card from your local post office announcing it). People are asked to place non-perishable food items by their mail box and the mail carrier picks them up as he/she does their route. The food items are brought back to the post office and volunteers from local food banks sort and collect the food. The food items are then brought to the local food pantries for distribution to those in need. This is the largest, single day food drive in the country and food pantries nationwide are able to stock up for the long summer months ahead because of it.

As a member of the St. Vincent De Paul Society for almost 20 years I have been blessed with having the opportunity to participate in this annual event for many years. We have our own food pantry and over the course of each year our pantry alone gives food and sundry items to literally thousands of men, women and children. All of the items we distribute are donated coming from regular folks in the neighborhood. Every year the Post Office drive carries us through the entire summer.
Okay–here is the point and I am zeroing in on parents of grade school kids. Volunteers are always needed to assist in receiving and sorting the collected food items. Nothing is so fulfilling as giving of oneself to help the less fortunate. In today’s society, self-gratification seems to be often times pedestalized. This is an opportunity to spend a few hours on a Saturday afternoon helping other folks who are your neighbors participate in working together to help the less fortunate. You might consider calling your local post office and asking how you can participate or call one of your local food banks. Your church might have its own food pantry that gets food from the drive. Exposing your kids to this type of environment teaches how great it can be to GIVE of themselves. They would not only be helping to feed others they would also be feeding their hearts.

The "Age of Safeness"

Ah yes, from the “Ice Age(s)” (it is said there were five of those) to the “Stone Age” to the “Age of Enlightenment” and the “Age of Reason” we have moved steadily onward and we, the people of today, are blessed because we are experiencing a whole bunch of “ages” in our own lifetime; the “Jet Age”, the Space Age”, the “Nuclear Age”, the “Information Age”, and let’s not forget the Atomic Age”. Well, it looks like we have been privileged to add another “age” to our resumes—the “Age of Safeness”.

The “Age of Safeness” is the age where “safeness” rules and is held in place by its lynchpin, some strange beast called “zero tolerance”. Of course, we all want to be safe and to feel safe but in our enthusiasm to grab the brass ring of complete safeness are we trading away some personal freedoms? We must be very, very careful—especially when it comes to our children. I mean, do we want them to grow up to be so paranoid about safety that they will be wrapping their kids in some not yet invented bubble wrap that is virtually impenetrable against all forms of danger?
Amazingly, under the “safeness umbrella for children”, the New York State Legislature passed a law in 2009 to close a loophole that allowed too many indoor camp programs to operate without “oversight” (translated that means they were getting away without paying fees). So, in response to this law, the NY State Health Department made a list of “risky recreational activities” to keep kids safe. Such games as Wiffle Ball and freeze tag and kickball and Red Rover are now considered “dangerous and pose a significant risk of injury”. WHATEVER!!!
Look folks, I grew up in New York City. The streets were our playground. When we played stick-ball, sewer caps and fenders or tires were our bases and we paused for a moment as cars went by.The black asphalt of the gutters was the roller rink where we skated and when we played tag we ran across streets, in between cars, climbed fire escapes and did all sorts of things that today might put our parents in jail for “child endangerment”. As long as we were home in time for dinner, all was “good”. Compared to today, I guess that would be considered extreme. If so, it seems we have reached the opposite end of the spectrum.
The point is, you have to let kids just play without your constant supervision, just a watchful eye. If their wiffle ball is taken away they will find a stick, crumple up some paper, and use that as a ball. Kids being allowed to just play allows them to grow emotionally, develops their social skills, and helps their inbred creativity begin to blossom. Kids will make up their own games and their own rules and then what they have been taught at home about fairness will begin to evidence itself. But if someone is always looking over their shoulder they are stifled.
So teach them right and wrong and fairness and good sportsmanship and then let them play. Let them learn the joy of winning and the disappointment of losing among their peers. It is good for them. They need to grow and develop and not have every breath they take monitored for safeness. A bruised knee or a bloodied nose unceremoniously received in a game of kickball will be a badge of honor. They will like it. So will their friends. And call or write your legislators and tell them to mind their own d— business. You know what is best for your kids.
BTW—there was such an uproar over the NY health Department trying to implement their new regulations they have been put on hold–the people have spoken.

virtual tour

Slippery Willie Wiggles and I left home to go on a virtual book tour on March 1st. Well, we have returned and for me it has been a wondrous journey and for Willie, well, he loves his “stupid, ugly shoes” more than ever.

Slippery Willie touched the hearts of many on our journey visiting more than 40 reviewers who, for the most part, loved the little guy and the message he delivered—“Yes, it is okay to be different”. Some of the words and phrases used to describe this book are; “adorable”, “delightful”, highly recommended”, “speaks to all ages”, “powerful message”, etc. I am overwhelmed.
So, if I may, I would like to thank all of you who participated in the tour and gave Willie your time, attention, and unbiased expertise. A special thanks to Nicole Langan of Tribute Books, my publisher, who set this tour up. Without her, Slippery Willie Wiggles would still be sitting on my desk and in my PC having nowhere to go.
Thank you again and may God bless all of you
Larry Peterson

Bullying

Bullying—what to do? I do not have a Phd. in child psych or anything like that. I am a parent, grandparent, former little league coach and a writer who used to be a construction worker in NYC. My credentials on the topic of bullying were earned in the “school of hard knocks” having learned from the old time teachers whose names were, experience & common sense, although it seems common sense has been forcibly retired and replaced by a nosense guy called zero tolerance. I digress.

First of all, we are all unique. But my experience has taught me that the kids who wind up being bullied invariably feel they are “more different” than their peers and do not feel good about themselves. They hate their nose, their eyeglasses, their hair, maybe their parent’s car is “old” and they are embarrassed being seen in it. It starts there and the bully will sense it. Why are some kids easier targets for a bully than others? The first line of defense against the bullies of the world is a suit of armor called self worth and self respect. This comes from the parent(s). This is CRUCIAL. A child can and must be taught that being different is OK. When they begin their journey outside the home (which often times starts in a day care center) they may be ready to defend who they are. If they are not prepared they are easy prey to the bullies of the world who will sense it and attack. So parents, teach by word and deed. Help the needy, say HI to a homeless guy, visit a rehab center where kids who are “different” are being treated. The preparation for the battle all starts at home. If you suspect your child is having a problem with a bully, ask him/her straight out. Then voice your concerns with the school. Go on-line and access the plethora of info available. And—do not be afraid of using some good, old fashioned, common sense.


"Little Petie"

Every year at this time, “Little Petie”, the “kid” inside me, becomes absolutely impossible to deal with. He is obnoxious, and overbearing, is determined to get his way and will not take NO for an answer. He is banging on the walls, jumping up and down, rolling around on the floor and even hollering, “Open up! Let me outta here! Open up already!” So, whatever is his problem? Well, it is baseball. He knows that opening day of the major league baseball season is less than a week away. He also thinks that he still lives only six blocks from Yankee Stadium.

He does not understand that things have changed. He still has this crazy notion that he and his friends can run over to the Stadium, hang out by the players entrance on 158th Street and see the “Mick” and “Yogi” and the “Scooter” and the “Moose” and the other guys. He thinks that if I let him out he and his buddy, Stixie” will be able to somehow have, by the 2nd inning, wangled their way into the ball park and will be sitting in the Mezzanine watching the Yanks slaughter the Red Sox. After the last out he and Stixie will jump the fence near the dugout and, with hundreds of other kids and grownups, run onto the field, tearing around the base paths and running around the outfield. He will make believe he is Mickey Mantle running and catching A “Ballantine Blast” off the bat of Ted Williams then throwing a strike to the plate from the the very same spot that the “Mick” had thrown from only moments before. He also knows that if he gets out he will be able to do this all summer long, right up until school starts in September.
Well, as a parent to the little guy, I have to be hard hearted and tell him, unequivocally, “NO!! You cannot leave. Discussion over.” Simple as that. Being a parent is tough work. Sometimes you have to disappoint even if it breaks your heart.
It will be okay. “Little Petie” will get over it and by May he’ll be tucked safely back in his little world, quiet and content until next March. In the meantime, he’ll join me in rooting for his new team, the “Tampa Bay Rays” (Who ???–in case you never heard of them they beat the mighty Yankees for the division title two of the last three years) and for some of the new guys like Longoria and Upton and Price. Maybe we’ll catch a few games at Tropicana Field. Will we get to run onto the field? Yeah, right? ” PLAY BALL!!

Interview with the Dabbling Mum

The Dabbling Mum
March 25, 2011

Interview with Larry Peterson

Larry Peterson, author of the children’s book, “Slippery Willie’s Stupid, Ugly Shoes”, is a part-time writer who spends a good deal of his time caring for his wife and working in the high school cafeteria. Though his schedule is full as a part-time employee and caregiver, he’s found a way to keep his passion alive…reminding us all that there is no excuse too big that we cannot follow our dreams as writers.

How did you get started writing professionally?
I wrote a few unsolicited columns for a local newspaper (about 20 years ago) and dropped them off at the paper. The owner/publisher, a man by the name of Judson Bailey, gave me a call and asked me to stop by.

He was an old-timer from the old-school of journalism (pre-computer, pound the pavement guy). He had a great mane of silver hair that flowed backward to his shoulders and the bushiest silver eyebrows. He also smoked a huge pipe and—well, he was quite the guy.

Had worked in NYC for years as a reporter and editor. Anyway, he says to me, “Petie, you have this unique way of saying things. So, give me a column a week about whatever you want to write about. I’ll give you $25.00 a pop.”

Imagine that…I never did anything professionally and he tells me to write what I want. Never edited anything either. Amazing! That’s how I started. That went on for about five years and then Mr. Bailey passed away from cancer. I did continue to write for the paper and a few others, but they all went belly-up. So, from maybe 95’ until about three years ago I was traveling in writer’s limbo.

What was your path towards publication like?
A winding, curvy road with hills and valleys and pot holes and ditches that finally hit a straightaway. However, I am sure more curves and bumps are up ahead.

What was the first market you queried and why did you choose that market?
“Okay—“Reader’s Digest”. Why? It was there and asked for submissions. I was far from being a serious writer and, naturally, the piece was rejected.

What is your biggest obstacle when it comes to pitching yourself as a writer and what steps have you taken to overcome that obstacle?
I am very uncomfortable talking about myself. Doing this is actually a bit of therapy in helping me get by that. I know that being a writer requires exposure so I am really appreciating this opportunity.

Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book?
Sure…“Slippery Willie’s Stupid, Ugly Shoes” is about a boy who has slippery feet and slips, slides and spins all over the place. His shoes and socks even slip off all by themselves. Willie hates his slippery feet. Special shoes are made for him to help him overcome his handicap and he hates them because he thinks they are the “stupidest, ugliest shoes anywhere and he is sure everyone will laugh at him. Anyway, you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens. LOL

Ultimately, the book addresses differences kids may have and shows them that it is OK to be different. The book received the Catholic Writer’s Guild Seal of Approval ( it is not a religious book).

If you could choose just one thing for your book to accomplish, what would it be?
If there is one child somewhere on this planet who gets the message from this story that it is okay to be different well, for me, that would be a HOME RUN.

How do you balance your life as a writer with your duties as a parent or spouse?
At this point in my life I actually have the luxury of being able to write every day.

My first wife, Loretta, was ill for a long time even when are kids were young. She died 8 years ago from melanoma. I had come down with MS and had to get “walking” which I did (yeah, I can see and stand and everything—docs, God bless ’em—they don’t know everything. Hey, I even had prostate cancer—4 years out and doing good.

I remarried four years ago to a great lady, named Marty, who was a widow and a member of SVDP, too. Right after we married I had the prostate surgery. She was great. Now, she has come down with cancer and it is a high-grade lymphoma and has spread rapidly. Tomorrow she goes for chemo treatment #2 in a 4 cycle regimen.

She is now my priority. However, unlike years back, I still have time to write. As a man—my duties are to my family first. When I have time for me I just say .”Thank you Lord”. Simple as that.

The point is, for me, you play the cards you are dealt—no matter how lousy. Give it to God and keep on smiling. I MEAN that.

What is your best advice for getting past writer’s block?
For me it is to WRITE, WRITE, WRITE. Even gibberish. I have even just doodled letters before I actually made gibberish. It works for me. Sooner or later some of the gibberish triggers a coherent thought and then BOOM !!! You suddenly have a sentence.

What was the best writing-related advice you ever received?
Mr. Bailey told me, over 20 years ago, that when writing, I should be careful not to try to be someone I am not. To develop my own style and voice. We are all unique, even writers.

So, I do remember that. I am careful not to copy a style but rather, use the advice I learn in Writer’s Digest and apply it in what I do.

It is the same as a baseball player. They all have their own unique batting stance but, when they go to swing the bat, the hips have to turn, and the bat must go level through the strike zone, head tucked into shoulder. Same thing—a writer’s swing will either strike out or get a hit. But he/she does not want to change their stance to look like someone else.

What do you feel is the single most detrimental thing a writer could do to destroy his/her career as a writer?
I believe if you start thinking that you are the reincarnation of Hemingway or that you are really a “GREAT” writer you are doomed. Better hold on to some humility. No one can succeed in this or any business without others helping, from publishers, editors, etc. Even rejections should be looked upon as positives.

What’s
ahead for your writing?

I have a novel completed “The Priest & The Peaches”. It has to do with five kids who, over a period of several years, lose their parents and wind up on their own. I hope it appeals to the YA level but I think it can appeal to adults also. It is sad and funny; not bleak.

This might be the first in a series following these kids as they grow but I’m not going there yet. This one is still an unproven commodity. I also have another children’s book that needs a re-write and some other stuff. The fact is, I am a novice at social-networking and having an online presence. Nicole Langan, from Tribute, has been a wonderful help in getting me started in this area and I’m trying to learn as much as I can. So I must spend time doing that too.


Friday is "Fun Day"

Yesterday, after work, (I’m old so, besides writing stuff, I have a part time job in the cafeteria of a local high school. Yeah, I collect lunch money and maintain the condiment table and drink cooler. Actually, it is a lot of fun and a diversion from the mundane. Dealing with extremely “smart and wisdom laden” teenagers is very educational—trust me). Anyway, after work I headed to the dentist because the day before I had four teeth extracted and they wanted to make sure I had stopped crying and could still speak. I had and I could. Onward and forward to “Kid’s Planet” (good name because it is OUT there), my grandson, Tyler’s, day care center to pick him up and bring him home so the wife and I might experience the joys of grandparenting.

When I arrive at Kid’s Planet the first thing I must do is follow procedure and turn off my cell phone. Then you open the gate with the latch six feet off the ground (like a little kid couldn’t climb a chain link fence and open it) and enter into the “other planet”. Now, I have picked up Tyler numerous times and when he sees me he immediately runs to me yelling, “Grandpa! Grandpa!” All of the “teachers” know me too. So, the first thing they do is ask me for my ID and ask who I am. I don’t get it? I’m the grandpa so I should be the senile one, right? Plus, they are wearing out my license. The sides are peeling back. But, we are in the SAFE 21st century, and everything is done for our benefit. So, I cooperate and sign in. Identification confirmed, I sign out.

I bring Tyler home and he is wired. He is reminding me of “Slippery Willie” because, in the car, he slipped out of his seat belt nine times and slid onto the floor three times. I, too, am now wired. My poor wife, feeling the side effects of chemotherapy, (she wanted to see the little guy–don’t blame me. I did promise I would take care of him) is in the lounge chair with this expression on her face like she had come from another “planet”. I assume that Tyler is not cheering her up as she thought he would. So, I decide to feed the kid to quiet him down. “Want something to eat, Tyler”

“Bread and jelly.”

“Butter, too?”

“Bread and jelly.”

So, I fix it for him and he takes one bite and disappears under the dining room table. “C’mon out from there. Eat your bread and jelly.”‘

Silence—he’s playing with the electric outlet. “Don’t do that. You’ll get a shock.”

Woosh—he is out from under the table and down the hall into the back bedroom. Kaplunk—kaplunk—kaplunk—he is jumping on the bed. I search for my tranquilizer gun but I cannot find it. Dang–“Stop jumping, you’re going to fall.”

He promptly obeys and, with his last jump, flies off the bed and smashes into the wall. He is unhurt but screaming like someone is killing him or something.

And so it went. Just another fun Friday with one of the grandkids. Daughter came by a few hours later and shared how frazzled she was and what a horrendous day it had been. I gave her a hug and said, “Awwww—poor baby. Want some bread and jelly?”


Birthday Trifecta

My little buddy, “Slippery Willie”, has had a fine week meeting new friends as he travels around on his book tour. He has received some awesome reviews and all is “good” with him. So, being he is so busy, I will have to attend the “Brithday Trifecta” without him. Yup, the stars have aligned and for some reason tomorrow, in one house, there will be three different birthday parties at the same time. My grandson ,Tyler, will be four, my grandaughter,Theresa, will be nine, and my oldest son, “Little Ricky”, will be over the hill. (What does he need a party for anyway?)

Actually, he is in freak out mode. Why? He has moved on to the BIG FOUR OH—OH NO. So he has been feverishly working out, jogging three miles a day, lifting weights and doing whatever else he can do to make himself escape reality. He even buys that powdered protein stuff and eats egg whites. (And he wonders why he is suddenly finds himself living alone) I say—THANK YOU SON—because there is no problem for me in picking out a gift for him. Simple—two dozen eggs and a couple of cans of room deodorizer. He’ ll be good to go.

Tyler, well, he is four. I learned a long time ago that kids that age are more thrilled with the boxes that the useless toys come in than the toys themselves. So, I have visited the local public storage facility and bought two cardboard boxes that cost me six bucks. He’ll be happy as a little clam especially when I give him the three dollar LED flashlight I bought in the dollar store. He’ll be able to sit inside those boxes until the batteries burn out.

Now comes Theresa, age nine, almost a woman. I can tell because she has some kind of funky coloring on her lips and her nails are decorated in contemporary, multi-colored, swirls which I believe she did herself because she “knows best”. She is the most expensive to buy for. I’ll probably get her a $20.00 gift card to “Farmville” or something like that.

Interesting part of this is that this event has been planned by my youngest, my daughter, Mary, who in her quest to be efficient and be expert in time management techniques, has ordered one sheet cake with the three names on it. Well, we’ll see. I wonder if we all get three pieces of cake and three scoops of ice cream each. I hope so.