I’m pleased to introduce blogger Charlie Perryess, where here we’ll learn something about Charlie and his blog Wordmonger.
Tell us a bit about yourself, Charlie.
I love words. This love has manifested in my love of writing (mostly for teens), my love of reading (typically 1-2 books a week), my blog about words (Wordmonger), and thirty-four years of teaching (mostly middle school English). I’m now retired from the teaching gig, which means I get to read more, write and revise more, and volunteer. I drive for the local food bank, volunteer at our county arts association, and I’m a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators co-county coordinator here in San Luis Obispo. When it comes to non-word-related passions, I’m a bicycle commuter, I love to bake, and I’m crazy about my wife, Ellen.
Ah, retired. I'm happy for you, Charlie! Where can you be found online?
I can be found at Wordmonger (csperryess.blogspot.com). Every Thursday night I post a short piece about words. I generally cover etymologies, also known as word histories, but every so often I’ll look into other vagaries of English – like spelling. I’ve done a post or two on anagrams, palindromes, and on particular authors or their books. I’m also online through my author profiles at SCBWI.org, ArtsObispo.org, and SLONightWriters.org.
You’ve published in a few anthologies. Please tell us a bit about each one.
The two anthologies I’m most pleased with were published by Heinemann and Darby Creek. The Heinemann publication is used at several colleges in education classes and is called In Short: How to Teach the Young Adult Short Story. It includes “Grungy Breadwads”, my funky retelling of Hansel and Gretel, in which two grunge ukulele players, Hammer and Metal, play so loud their folks boot them out of the house. They end up at a huge mall, where they wander into a music store and discover a shredding player named Twitch. Your imagination can take it from there. I couldn’t be more pleased that “Grungy Breadwads” landed in an anthology with works by Vivian Vande Velde, Gloria Skurzynski, Avi, and Neal Shusterman and others. The Darby Creek anthology, Lay-Ups and Long Shots, features stories about sports. My contribution, “Dirt Girl Rides Again,” features a seventh grade competitive dirt-bike rider who is wrestling with the social pressure to be more of a girly-girl. This story gets to live between the covers with tales by more of my writerly heroes: Joseph Bruchac, David Lubar, Terry Trueman, and others.
Fantastic, Charlie. Tell us a few things about yourself some folks may not know.
When I was in fifth grade my friend Timothy Bratten and I used to skirt around the after-school ballgames happening at school, so we could avoid athletic pursuits to sprawl on the floor at his house, where we drew maps and pictures, and (what a surprise) wrote stories.
In the 60s, when Huntley and Brinkley’s faces and voices were an integral part of suburban American life, my sis and I loved the way they closed every news show, so we started mimicking their lines. At bedtime I’d say across the hall, “Good night David,” and she’d respond, “Good night, Chet.” The family picked up the nicknames, and ever since then she’s been David and I’ve been Chet or Chester.
Sweet sibling story, Chet! I know for a fact, you write humorous books for boys. Tell us about one of your book-length works-in-progress.
Though I’ve been writing novel-length manuscripts since 1992, not a one has become a book. This would be ridiculous if I didn’t enjoy the process, but I’m having a good time writing, so I just keep going. Some of my manuscripts are humorous books, some are contemporary, some are pre-industrial fantasy manuscripts, one is dystopian, and my work-in-progress is a somewhat metaphysical story taking place on an uncharted Micronesian island. I have many friends who have self-published and are loving their lives as self-published authors. At some point self-publishing may appeal to me, but I’m painfully aware I have zero skills when it comes to marketing and promotion, so I continue to hang onto the outdated dream of being published by an established house.
What do you hope readers will take away from your Wordmonger blog?
All my life words have fascinated me, made me laugh, made me wonder. I hope folks logging into Wordmonger might experience a bit of this joy. Since starting the blog in 2011 I’ve written about 240 posts.
A little bird told me you do narration for audiobooks. Tell us just a bit about this and how you got into it.
For years I’ve run the first-pages presentation at our local SCBWI Writers’ Day. This means a friend and I are on stage reading the first pages of participants’ work, then we all listen to the responses of the editors and agents on faculty. I’ve always loved reading aloud (said the English teacher), and people kept saying the nicest things about the cold-reads I was giving their work at Writers’ Day. It occurred to me (an introvert) that sitting in a little room all by myself reading a good story was a dream come true. Just about that time, ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) came online. They offered excellent free tutorials and advice on how to set up a studio and get rolling, so I did. I’ve now got a converted garden shed my wife and I call the Shedio, and I’m narrating and producing my thirteenth audiobook. The ones I’ve done include a trio of middle-grade time-travel books, some adult mysteries and romantic comedies, and a short story and poetry collection about baby-boomers. I’ve even tromped through Scottish fens lopping off zombie heads. In the best-known-author category, I had the privilege of narrating and producing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first published short story. You can check out my audiobook site at Perryess.com, or just search for Perryess on Audible.
Wow! This is fascinating to me. So Charlie, when did you meet the fascinating Jean Ann Williams?(Ummm, you added this Mister Charlie!)
I had the good fortune of meeting Jean Ann Williams when we were both helping out our regional SCBWI. I’m pretty sure the first event we worked together happened at the Portuguese Hall in Arroyo Grande and involved two authors offering advice on first pages. Since then, I’ve found myself recreating that event every year at Writers’ Day and the two writers (Judy Enderle and Stephanie Jacob Gordon) have taken their show on the road and built a career on first page commentary.
You are correct as to where we had our first event! I’ve appreciated working with you in the past, Charlie, and all the hard work you’ve done for the SLO Region of SCBWI.
Until next time . . . read Charlie’s Wordmonger.