Meet Melissa Kotler Schwartz
Melissa Kotler Schwartz is a writer, teacher and human interest aficionado. She volunteers as a children’s literacy tutor and teaches autobiography at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Cincinnati. She is also an English instructor at Chatfield College in St. Martin, Ohio.
Since she wishes there was more justice in the world, she loves reading mysteries and solving them. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime and is at work on a mystery novel.
Her most recent mystery involved an odd animal odor she encountered upon opening a basement window. “Squirrel” she announced to no one. Case solved. She is confident she could become a professional wine sniffer if she decided to switch careers and often thinks about insuring her nose.
She lives with her family in Cincinnati, Ohio, and her favorites pastimes include playing with dogs (especially her own), knitting scarves she’ll never wear and researching ad nauseum anything she doesn’t know about but thinks she ought to.
You can connect with her at strangersihaveknown.com.
A Sample of Melissa’s Writing
Strangers I Have Known
Melissa Kotler Schwartz
The Sunnyside Up Waitress
“Hey,” the waitress said, smiling at me. I had barely walked in the door. She looked around the restaurant, as if she had just noticed that it was pretty empty. “I guess you can sit anywhere.”
It was 2:45 p.m. The thing that’s great about Waffle House is that even when you go at an odd time, it’s not odd. There’s always someone there or someone about to come in. If you want to talk, you can sit at the counter and strike up a conversation.
“So, do you know what you want or do you need a little time? Do you want some juice or coffee?” the waitress asked.
She had a sunny disposition. Her freckles seemed to match her friendly demeanor. She had fine straight brown hair to the top of her shoulders and warm delicate light brown eyes. I guessed her to be about nineteen.
We started talking because she wasn’t busy. “I’m glad it’s slow now,” she said, “because it gives me a chance to think about this paper I have to write for my English class. You know, I’m taking four classes and it’s all good because I work here in the morning five days a week and then I have three hours off in the afternoon before my classes. Two of my classes are online, which is great, and two are on campus. It’s a good balance. It all works out because I get to see my fiancé in the late afternoon before my classes.”
“Sounds like a good plan,” I said. I was thinking that someone else might complain about having to work five days a week and take four classes and try to save some money for a wedding and college, but instead she was grateful.
What is happiness? This is something I’ve been pondering lately. Why is it that some people waste their time complaining and holding grudges while other people just make the best of what’s handed to them?
A man with a cane got up slowly from a booth. “Bye,” he said to the waitress.
“I’ll get the door for you,” she said and ran around the counter to help him.
“I’m fine, I can get it…”
“No, it’s okay,” she said and held it open. “Bye, have a good day, see you soon.”
“Is he a regular?” I asked her.
“Yes, he comes in here a couple times a week. He’s so cute.”
“You know,” she said, turning to the manager, who had just walked in from the back room, “Jack didn’t come in today. I hope he’s okay. Maybe I should call him. Maybe he’s sick.”
“He’ll be fine,” the manager said. “Let’s worry about it if he doesn’t show up tomorrow.”
I was amazed that they kept the phone numbers of their regulars, or at least some of them. How touching that they keep an eye out for them.
I looked at the waitress. She was talking to a truck driver in the corner booth. She poured him a coffee. They said something to each other. She laughed and then he laughed.
She’ll do just fine in life, I thought. It’s such a pleasure for everyone to spend time with someone who has a sunny disposition.
from Strangers I Have Known, available as a Kindle book on Amazon here.
What Melissa says about WordPlay
A couple of years ago I took a writing class with Maureen at Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York. I found out she was a writing coach and showed her my work. “Wow!” she said, “most people write about people they do know; you write about people you don’t know. Why not blog your stories and turn them into a book?”
I wasn’t familiar with the ins and outs of the publishing world, so I said to myself, “A blog, how do I do that?” I asked Maureen if she would coach me, and she agreed.
Maureen’s a joy to work with! She is a true writing coach blessed with the skills and vision to help you take your ideas or words—or both—in the direction you want to go. She’s right there with you on your journey. The whole process made me a better writer and editor. Best of all, it was a confidence booster. My book Strangers I Have Known is now on Amazon and I couldn’t be happier. I find myself checking Kindle more often then I should to see how many pages of my book have been read that day. (Yes, you can do that on Amazon.)
I’m an author now, and you can be one too. Don’t think about writing that book anymore—just begin with small baby steps. (Ask Maureen to coach you if you need support.) And before you know it, there you’ll be, holding your book in your hands.