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Old 12-14-2009, 09:51 AM
Location: Omaha Nebraska and dreamland when I am sleeping
3,096 posts, read 6,458,814 times
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Omaha.com - The Omaha World-Herald: Metro/Region - Teacher self-publishes novel

Teacher self-publishes novel

After spending several years writing short stories and plots for comic books, Matt Caldwell decided to try his hand at writing a novel.

The high school social studies teacher at Douglas County West in Valley did just that.

Caldwell's book, “The Zamler's Last Stand,” has been for sale since August and is available at amazon.com and createspace.com.

Caldwell decided last November to take part in a contest called National Novel Writing Month, where he had to complete 50,000 words of a book within that month.

Caldwell, who lives in Omaha, did that, then kept adding to his novel. When he finished in May, “The Zamler's Last Stand” had around 71,000 words.

It's a far cry from Caldwell's early forays into writing.

While growing up in Missouri, Caldwell wrote a number of comic books but did not illustrate them. When he attended Truman State University in Missouri, he tried his hand at writing several short stories.

But writing “The Zamler's Last Stand” required Caldwell to go in-depth with his writing.

“You kind of just sort of have to trust yourself that you can get the scene or instant in a book and allow yourself to take in the whole environment and let the characters play around in that environment, but at the end bring it back and finish the plot,” Caldwell said.

“The Zamler's Last Stand” centers on a boy named Harry Pike growing up in New York in the 1920s.

Harry has the special ability to absorb the bad luck of those around him and is a member of a group within the Jewish community in Brooklyn called zamlers — or collectors of information — who try to protect the people in their neighborhoods.

Caldwell said that as the book progresses Harry must use his knowledge of his religion and the people he knows to guide him to do the right thing, especially when his friend Abner tries to make the major leagues in baseball.

“Harry is allowed to sort of play around with his power, but the only time someone turns out to give him any guidance is if he does something wrong,” Caldwell said. “That's the way life is a lot of times. You have to make your own mistakes.”

Caldwell chose to set the book in New York although he has never been to the city.

He also chose to focus on the Jewish community to take him out of his comfort zone.

“I knew it would force me to be a little more innovative with my style,” Caldwell said. “I couldn't just sit there and off the top of my head just put stuff down.”

Caldwell said feedback has been positive for his self-published book, and he has started working on a second novel.

Caldwell said his next book focuses on an elderly man who doesn't stick in people's minds. “It's impossible for him to be memorable,” Caldwell said.
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