News

See Events page for the latest Author appearances & book signings!

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Two Important News Updates, August 17, 2019

Honorary Guest Author

Bill will be one of the honorary guest authors/creative persons at the 2019 Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner to be held October 10, in Chicago. Sponsored by the Chicago Public Library Foundation. The fundraiser will present its annual Carl Sandburg Literary Award to George R.R. Martin, author of the books that The Game of Thrones series are based upon. Their 21stCentury Award will be presented to Dr. Eve L. Ewing, noted Chicagoauthor and education sociologist. Last year’s awards went to Judy Blume and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Legendary Chicago TV newsman and media producer, Bill Kurtis, will host the event, and NPR Radio host, Scott Simon, will hold a conversation on the stage with the two recipients.

An honorary guest author/creative person with ties to Chicago (along with their guest) is seated at each of the 20 tables of 12, adding to the evening’s uniqueness. Each guest author/creative person provides their books or works as gifts to the people seated at their table. Bill’s publisher, Rogue Phoenix Press, has donated the books for Bill’s table members.

To begin the program, each honorary guest author/creative person are presented individually and as a group on the stage. A video of their book or work, author photo, along with a bio read by the host, will be presented as each guest walks across the stage.

For more information go to:https://cplfoundation.org/events/carl-sandburg-literary-awards-dinner/. Over two million dollars is expected to be raised toward improving literacy in Chicago. Bill was referred by Graham Grady, Chicago lawyer, long time YMCA camp friend, and a board member of the Chicago Public Library Foundation.

Bill’s Third Novel is Under Contract

The Rooming House Gallery – Connecting the Dotswill be published by Rogue Phoenix Press June 8, 2020. It is a stand-alone companion book to TheRooming House Diariesand explores the lives of Josh and Andres, the couple who inherited the house. Their efforts to turn it into a nonprofit community art center, how the diaries affected them, their struggles to deal with their unaccepting fathers, adapting to the many changes their choices bring, all lead to their most important decision—the one to begin their own family. It’s a gentle, touching love story that again speaks to the humanity in family, warts and all.

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Beloit Daily News 7/31/19

BILL MATHIS PENS BOOK, LAUNCH EVENT PLANNED AUG. 17

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Bill Mathis  pens book, launch event planned Aug. 17

Mathis

BELOIT – Beloiter Bill Mathis is inviting everyone to take a stroll through history and all the diversity within in his second book, “The Rooming House Diaries – Life, Love & Secrets.”

The Beloit launch for Mathis’s book will be at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 17 at the Beloit Public Library, 605 Eclipse Blvd. Mathis will be introduced by Kathie Giorgio, who is an author, writing coach and owner of All Writers Workshop. Mathis will read a short excerpt, answer questions, sell and sign copies of his books. Snacks will be provided. The free event is family-friendly.

“The Rooming House Diaries – Life, Love & Secrets” is getting high marks for its real portrayal of characters and life for 125 years in Chicago’s melting pot.

The David W. Berner Review called his book “entertaining and thought-provoking.” The Kirkus Review wrote how Mathis portrayed family dynamics in an “insightful and raw way.”

For Mathis, his latest book is a tale of family, humanity and life’s ups and downs.

It consists of six fictional diaries and correspondence discovered in an old rooming house in Chicago’s Back-of-the-Yards neighborhood. Mathis said the book starts with two Polish immigrants meeting and building a rooming house with a backdrop of the meat-packing plants of Chicago. Over the years the book covers the Polish members of the family as well as a variety of characters who enter and stay in their lives. Mathis’s cast of characters includes those who are Jewish, African-American, Hispanic as well as gay people.

He explained how one character is a young woman struggling because she is pregnant in the 1950s with a baby fathered by a Mexican man.

Later, a Mexican man with a disabled arm who happens to be gay takes over the roominghouse, becoming the first Mexican to move into an all-white, heavily Eastern European community.

“It’s about DNA and non-DNA family. It’s set against the backdrop of the ever changing demographics of Chicago,” Mathis said.

Although the book is 450 pages, Mathis said people can read the individual diaries one at a time.

The unique cast of characters and setting stem from Mathis’s first book “Face Your Fears.” The earlier book’s main character’s mother and grandmother had stories of growing up in a rooming house. Instead of throwing away his extra outtakes from the first book, Mathis transformed them into his second work.

He plans to use outtakes from his current book to write a third book titled “The Roominghouse Gallery.”

Mathis said the book was challenging to write in a way that lined up with the various historical time periods portrayed. However, it was a labor of love he is sure others will enjoy.

“It’s a good read,” Mathis said.

Mathis said he gets a lot of his writing done at Stateline Night Writers held at the Beloit Public Library. The group meets every at 6 p.m. every Wednesday in the boardroom of the library, and all writers are welcome.

“The Rooming House Diaries – Life, Love & Secrets” is available at Amazon.com or by contacting Mathis. Mathis sells and ships signed copies of his books.

More information is available www.billmathiswriteretc.com. For additional information people email him at: billmathiswriter@gmail.com.

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Bill Mathis Interview with Awesome Gang

Where Awesome Book Readers Meet Awesome Writers

Check out other Awesome Books and Awesome Authors: https://awesomegang.com

Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I was raised as a preacher’s kid, the oldest of 7 kids, in a tiny town in Michigan. I earned degrees in Business, Journalism & Advertising. After college, with no strong interest in business, I fell into a career directing YMCA camps serving Chicago area children and families. I loved working with people from diverse backgrounds and also disabled children. My degrees came in handy with management, promotion & organization. After 23 years with Y camps, I helped open, direct and coordinate a unique foster care agency, SOS Children’s Villages Illinois. I began writing after I retired. My partner told me to find something to do and I took a writing class and was hooked. I won local awards and a statewide one for some of my work. My first novel was published in 2018. Face Your Fears, was inspired by working over the years with disabled persons and deals with a disabled teen, Nate McGuire, coming out, coming of age, and eventually falling in love with an able bodied man. My second novel, The Rooming House Diaries – Life, Love & Secrets, published in July 2019. It uses background material I expanded and further developed based upon the back stories of Nate’s mother & grandmother living in a rooming house. My third novel, The Rooming House Gallery – Connecting the Dots, will publish in mid-2020. It tells the story of the couple who inherit the old rooming house, what they do with it, how the diaries affected their lives and how they go on to establish a community art center in a needy and diverse neighborhood, plus another non-DNA family.

What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
The Rooming House Diaries – Life, Love & Secrets was partly inspired by the backstory of a sub-character in my first novel, Face Your Fears, who lived in a rooming house as an unwed pregnant teen. My writers group, Beloit Public Library Stateline Night Writers, suggested I expand her story and develop others based around the rooming house. I did a good deal of research and wrote other diaries, all based upon the socioeconomic changes in Chicago starting with Polish immigrants, their children and several roomers. Chicago is such a melting pot and it was exciting weaving the stories throughout the demographic changes at a personal level in my character’s lives. From immigration, to a love child fathered during a war, to a white teen pregnant by a Mexican boyfriend, to a disturbed child who is a predator yet dies in Vietnam saving lives, to a young man who worked the streets of Tijuana, to the rooming house becoming an underground hospice for undocumented & unwanted AIDS victims, the book covers 125 years of time in an inspiring manner.

Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Some have said, anything I do is usually unusual. I was diagnosed and have lived with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for over 20 years. I write or edit as my energy level allows. Usually that’s every day, but with no set times or goals for a word count. I prefer it quiet, though I can concentrate in public spaces when traveling. I always take my laptop along and find places and some times to write no matter where I am at. We take an extended cruise each year & I find I can get a lot written on sea days. But (usually) no coffee, no music, a messy desk and piles of books around me in our bedroom are my environment.

What authors, or books have influenced you?
Looking back, I realize Ken Follett gave me a love for historical fiction which showed up in my second book. Some current authors who inspired me are: Raymond Luczak (Flannelwood), Carol Rifka Brunt (Tell The Wolves I’m Home), Sarah Waters (The Paying Guests), Ursula Hegi (Stones from the River), Tom Spanbauer (The Man Who Fell In Love With The Moon), Sanderia Faye (Mourners Bench), Joan Didion (The Year of Magic Thinking), Julie Beekman (Two Trees). There are more, many more!

What are you working on now?
I’m working on something far different, more of a psychological mystery, though the theme is still family. Tentatively titled, Revenge is Necessary, a successful, stoic, calm corn/soybean farmer tells his 17-year old son that he’s not the kids father, orders him to leave while pointing a double-barrel shotgun at him, fires at him, then turns the gun on his wife to kill her. They struggle for the gun, it discharges seriously wounding him in his lower leg. In the aftermath, long buried secrets emerge that not only involve the immediate family, but also the farming community as the double lives of the farmer and his assistant are discovered. The why is gradually answered as the childhoods of the the farmer and his assistance are revealed.

What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I’ve mostly used Facebook. My writing coach, Kathie Giorgio https://www.allwritersworkshop.com) has been instrumental in getting me to speak at a regional book festival. I’m hoping to do more with Twitter and Instagram. I’m holding several author/book events for the release of my latest book. Word of Mouth is helpful. I spent the money and received a wonderful review from Kirkus, which maybe opening some doors.

Do you have any advice for new authors?
Write. Write. Write. Read. Read. Read. Find a writing group to get involved in. Giving and receiving feedback is extremely helpful. A critique group is even better. Get other people to read your work, at least some of them shouldn’t be your proud mother or friends. You need to receive constructive criticism. I had to learn to be less defensive and have learned so much more and been helped so much.

What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Keep on Keeping On… Writing is not a race, it’s a slog through the swamps, the flatlands, the mountains and the valleys. Don’t give up.

What are you reading now?
I always have several books going. Right now it’s: Hearing Voices by Teresa Roberts; Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; Nurses on the Inside by Ellen Matzer & Valery Hughes; Burning Bright by Nick Petrie.

What’s next for you as a writer?
Keeping on with my psychological mystery and then back to a draft I set aside. I need to decide whether to trim it or expand it into two books.

If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
The Sherlock Holmes collection, I just started reading him and am enthralled. I’d take my Kindle – loaded – and a solar charger. 3 or 4 books just ain’t enough!

Author Websites and Profiles
Bill Mathis Website
Bill Mathis Amazon Profile

Bill Mathis’s Social Media Links
Goodreads Profile
Facebook Profile
Twitter Account

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February 2019

Radio Interview with Lolita Ditzler on In Print Radio on WBOM

The Interview is in 2 parts. You may have to download and/or play on Google Drive. It’s easy!

Part 1: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-M2jZA6Aw-WUb68NW2GVP7sGqqXyOzU8/view?usp=sharing

Part 2: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1MMhetLBJL-cVRcalkKWChhvatTgXThFz/view?usp=sharing

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Listen to Bill’s interview on Canadian radio station AMI,

The Pulse Show with Steve Brown

A wonderful, thought provoking interview!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/a-new-book-about-disability-and-coming-out/id1289703145?i=1000418032188&mt=2

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Published in the

Beloit Daily News

Beloit, Wisconsin

July 27, 2018

By Hillary Gavin

LOCAL AUTHOR’S BOOK CHALLENGES PERCEPTIONS OF DISABLED GAY MEN

BELOIT – Bill Mathis’s first novel might be hot off the presses, but what’s found between its covers draws upon a lifetime of experience.

Mathis has associated with disability, LGBTQ issues and family for most of his life. He worked with kids with disabilities and came out as gay in his retirement years. His experiences navigating his experiences have made rich fodder for his new book “Face Your Fears.”

Published by Rogue Phoenix Press, the book went on sale on July 8. It’s available on Amazon.com, can be ordered at the Turtle Creek Bookstore and is at www.barnesandnoble.com as an ebook or to be printed upon demand.

Kathie Giorgio, an award winning author and noted writing coach, will introduce Mathis at the book launch for his new novel, “Face Your Fears,” at 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 4 at the Beloit Public Library, 605 Eclipse Blvd.

“Face Your Fears” challenges traditional perceptions of what is normal for a disabled man – a disabled gay man. Nate McGuire has cerebral palsy and is a quadriplegic with use of one hand and his head, which includes, at times, his loud mouth.

“The book really questions normalcy and treats disability as normal and from a different perspective,” Mathis said.

The other main character is Jude Totsian, a farm kid from a large family in Iowa who has to stay deep in the closet to survive homophobia in the high school and the Air Force. Growing up, he also wonders why he’s the only short, blue-eyed, blond kid in the family.

Mathis drew upon the ever winding path of his life for the story’s inspiration.

During his career, Mathis worked for 23 years directing YMCA camps, which sometimes included camps for people with vision and hearing impairment, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis and other conditions.

Mathis recalled taking 70 kids with cerebral palsy to the old White Sox baseball field back in the days of no ADA accessibility. Huffing and puffing, he helped push the wheelchairs around and always remembers some of the lively kids he worked with, particularly a young man he met in 1970 who was a spastic quadriplegic. The feisty youngster would become some of the inspiration behind character Nate.

“He was a pistol,” he said.

After Mathis left the YMCA camps he helped open a foster care complex, SOS Children’s Villages Illinois. He retired five-and-a-half years ago, met a new man and moved in with him in Beloit.

Perhaps because of his conservative and religious upbringing, Mathis didn’t come out as being gay until post-retirement. Mathis had been married and divorced from women twice and raised a family.

“There was this piece of me missing and it had to do with men,” Mathis said. “It was a gradual process of me figuring out who I was and it took a little bit of time. When I divorced and realized I was gay, it really was a life changing event.”

Today, Mathis said he gets along fine with his second ex-wife and is doing well. He moved to Beloit to be with his partner Rick Dexter and has fallen in love with the city.

He began taking writing classes through Society for Learning Unlimited (SLU), where he became hooked with the creative process.

Mathis said he was also inspired by author Raymond Luczak, a gay deaf man who has written about his own experiences and put together a queer disability anthology all written by gay men with disabilities.

It took Mathis a year-and-a-half to write his first novel and worked with his writing coach Giorgio.

He said his main characters Nate and Jude don’t meet up until two-thirds of the way through the book. The earlier chapters chronicle their different upbringing. Jude is a farm kid deep in the closet, while Nate is more feisty in his affluent neighborhood.

“Nate gets kicked out of school at age 10 for fighting. He head butts a kid and gives him two black eyes and is mouthy,” Mathis said.

Nate’s coming out is pretty easy.

“He’s wild. He put rainbow flags on his wheelchair and wheeled around town,” Mathis said.

Mathis said disabled people can sometimes be ignored, and he wanted a character who would make his presence known.

Nate eventually becomes an art therapist and Jude is a physical therapist. Their paths cross and they fall in love.

One of the challenges they encounter is how much Jude “helps” Nate as they try to navigate a unique relationship.

“This book is not about pity, such as, ‘Oh, look what the disabled guy can do. How amazing, isn’t that sweet? I feel so sorry for him living in a wheelchair,'” Mathis said. “Instead, it’s an often humorous, sometimes tragic, story filled with believable and loveable characters that prove normal is only a setting on a clothes dryer.”

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Bill awaits acceptance or rejection from several journal contests and submissions of fiction and personal essay. He has a trove of fiction and nonfiction short pieces to edit and submit for publication or, someday, combine into a collection.


Check Out….

….Bill’s publications and awards!


Publications & Awards