Monday, July 14, 2014

The Writer's View: Catherine DePino


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Catherine will be awarding a $20 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The View Outside My Writing Space


First of all, you’re probably wondering why there’s no picture of the view inside my writing space. I confess! I’m technologically challenged—big time. However, I did somehow manage to send my blog tour director my book cover and photo. I’m still learning, and that’s a good thing. My daughter gave me a digital camera last Christmas, and I’m still figuring out how to use it with my granddaughter’s help. What patience Hope has!

The other thing I’m ashamed to admit is that my space is cluttered—not as catastrophically as the God-awful rooms in that Reality Show, “Horders,” but cluttered enough for people to ask, “Girl, how can you find stuff in here? Want me to help you organize it?”

“Never,” I say. “I work best in a messy workspace, and believe it or not, I can find anything in all those random piles and plastic crates. So I hope you understand why I didn’t take a picture.

My writing space today is my middle daughter Shayna’s old yellow room. It’s warm in winter and cool in summer. I thought of the idea of writing Elliot K Carnucci is a Big, Fat Loser: A Book About Bullying in this room. One sunny afternoon, Elliot appeared to me and tapped me hard on the shoulder when I was sitting on my king sized pillow reading. He smiled and said, “Mama (yes, he was my son in a past life), have I got a story for you!” and, as he began to pour out his soul to me, I listened and began to hammer away at my computer until I finished his story.

Shayna’s grown now with a family of her own, but she inspired me to write Blue Cheese Breath and Stinky Feet: How to Deal with Bullies. She dealt a lot with bullying in her years as a school counselor. I have, too, as a teacher, department head, and disciplinarian in city high schools. I dedicated that book to her and to my granddaughter Hope. It gave me a start in writing about bullying.

I’ve written five books about bullying, most of them in Shayna’s old room. This is my first e-book about it, and it’s also my first self-published book, aside from a girls’ prayer book that a company gave me the rights back to (try not ending that sentence with a preposition!).

I found that traditional and non-traditional publishing have their advantages and disadvantages. I think the traditional route is easier, but I’m finding self-publishing rewarding in the respect that if you believe in a book, you can just put it out there and let readers be the judge. You don’t have to go through an agent or editor. It’s just you and your readers. However, you have to be willing to pound the pavement and get your book out there. Unlike traditional publishing, nobody is going to do it for you.

Speaking of readers, I love hearing from my readers. If you have any questions or are interested in my books, I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me on my website, www.catherinedepino.com.

I also love to write in our condo in Ocean City New Jersey. While other folks are out at the beach or knoshing on funnel cakes and pizza on the boardwalk, I sit at my tiny desk in my cozy apartment and pound away at my lap top.

I’ve found another great writing space in a rented apartment in Naples, Florida, where we go during the brutal northeast winters, more brutal than ever this year with blizzard strength winds and power outages galore. There I go to the deserted pool, which my mother would have called one that’s “just for show.” Why nobody ever goes there, I’ll never know. It’s a rooftop pool with warm, healing water that looks out over Naples bay, the boats, and houses with vibrant shades of roofs.

Sometimes, when I take care of my grandkids, I tote my laptop to their house and get inspired. Of course, I enjoy talking to them more, but like all kids today, they need to take frequent video and TV breaks. But that’s okay. It gives Nonna (Italian for grandmother) time to do her thing. By the way, Nonna, the grandmother in Elliot is probably the closest I’ll ever come to an alter ego. She’s wild like me and keeps busy every moment. She’s opinionated and feels free to offer advice even when it’s unsolicited. But really, I’m not as extreme as Nonna; and if I am, I won’t admit it.

I guess the main point I’m trying to make is that wherever you happen to be is a good place to write. True, some places are more comfy and inspiring than others, but when the muse calls, it doesn’t matter where you are. You have to answer.

The kids at Ralph Bunche Middle School love to pick on Elliot Kravitz-Carnucci. He struggles with his weight, looks like a geek, makes top honors, and lives above the Carnucci Home for Funerals in South Philadelphia with his distant, workaholic father and Nonna, his quirky, overbearing grandmother.

Since his parents divorced, he splits spending his time with his funeral director father and his mother Rayna, who dreams of becoming the queen of commercials on the west coast.

At the hands of his peers, Elliot experiences a series of bullying episodes that escalate from entrapment in a school supply closet to a brutal “swirly” (head dunk in the toilet) that lands him in the hospital emergency room.

Elliot has a small circle of loyal friends and a mentor named Duke, an aging school custodian, who root for him to overcome his bullying issues so that he can enjoy his life as a teenager and a budding singer/performer. Can Elliot win his fight against the nasty bullies, or is he doomed forever? Read this funny, sad, and crazy book to find out.

Enjoy an excerpt:

When Nonna, my grandma, and I got home, Dad was standing in the reposing room (that’s where they lay out the dead bodies) admiring his hair and make-up job on his latest customer.

I moved close to the casket and peered in. “Didn’t Mr. Luisi have white hair?”

Nonna frowned. “White, black–he’s dead now. He doesn’t know the difference.”

Dad looked like he was in a trance. He slid Mr. Luisi’s trifocals down low on his nose, like he wore them when he read the sports page on his front porch, and straightened his plaid bow tie.

“Looks like he’s about to pop up and dance the Tarantella like he did at his daughter’s wedding,” Dad said to himself.

Nonna poked Dad’s shoulder with her bony finger. His head spun around like Linda Blair in that movie, “The Exorcist.”

Dad looked at me all teary eyed. I didn’t know if he’d gotten emotional because of what he'd heard happened at school or if he was thrilled with the job he’d done on Mr. Luisi.

“Are you okay, Son?”

Nonna slammed her head with the palm of her hand.

“If you call being abused by a pack of punks okay, he’s fine.”

“I’ll live,” I said.

She motioned for me to follow her upstairs. Dad peeled off his rubber gloves and trudged up after us.

“Sit down,” Nonna said, offering me a plate of oatmeal raisin cookies. “Pour yourself a glass of milk. You’ll feel better.”

About the Author:
Catherine DePino has sold thirteen books for parents, teachers, and children to mainstream publishers. She self-published her fourteenth book, Elliot K. Carnucci is a Big, Fat Loser: A Book About Bullying because she wanted to give it a wider forum. Her background includes a BS in English and Spanish education, a Master’s in English education, and a doctorate in Curriculum Theory and Development and Educational Administration from Temple University. The author worked for many years as an English teacher, department head of English and world languages, disciplinarian, and curriculum writer in the Philadelphia School District. After this, she worked at Temple as an adjunct assistant professor and student teaching supervisor.

Catherine has also written articles for national magazines, including The Christian Science Monitor and The Writer.

For many years she served on the board of The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference. She holds membership in the Association of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Her new self-help book, 101 Easy Ways for Women to De-Stress, Reinvent, and Fire Up Your Life in Retirement,appeared on the market in March, 2014.

Visit her website at www.catherinedepino.com or on Facebook.

Buy the book at Amazon.

12 comments:

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Catherine DePino said...

Thanks for hosting, Judy! Love your site and the title you dreamed up for it.

Susan VanNort said...

This book sounds interesting. After reading the excerpt, I can easily feel the emotions that must run throughout the story.

Catherine DePino said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Catherine DePino said...

Thanks for you comment, Susan. If you read the story, I'd love to know what you think. You can write to me on my website.

Rita said...

Thank you for the excerpt, I enjoyed reading it.

Catherine DePino said...

Thanks, Rita. If you read the book, I'd love to hear from you.

Elena said...

I like the excerpt. Sounds like an interesting book

elena150980 at yahoo dot com

Hope said...

You give great advice! If a person wants to write, just write where they are and the words will come. You are an inspiration!

Mary Preston said...

I'm technologically challenged at times. That's what children are for.

marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Catherine DePino said...

Thanks, Hope, for your very intelligent comment. Maybe you'll try writing a story someday. If you do, I know it will be wonderful!

Catherine DePino said...

Thanks, Elena. I hope you send me comments at my website when you get a chance to read it. Thanks for reading this post.