• MLK Announce

    The Martin Luther King Mitzvah

    Mathew Tekulsky’s novel
    is a timeless story of two kids
    who defy the odds, unite a town,
    and make a brave stand against discrimination.

    Learn More

Mathew Tekulsky with MLK book

The Martin Luther King Mitzvah

Mathew Tekulsky’s novel
is a timeless story of two kids
who defy the odds, unite a town,
and make a brave stand against discrimination.


© Copyright 2019 Mathew Tekulsky

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I thought it would be a good idea to share some behind-the-scenes images of what it’s like to be a working writer, especially a writer of fiction. I often bring typewritten pages of what I have written so far with me to a local cafe, and I then continue the story longhand, as I people watch and just clear my mind of the constraints of being at my house all the time. 

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You can see one of these pages here on the table.

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Then, when I return to my office, I input what I have handwritten into my computer. I often write on my computer as well, and use the Internet to do fact-checking, as when I was working on my short story entitled “Heidelberg.” You can see the Old Bridge on my large screen as I reminded myself of my visit to this great city in 1974.

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While I was writing my novel Bernie and the Hermit, I used a number of books for research, and you can see them here along with my handwritten text and the typewritten text on the computer screen.

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Sometimes, when I am writing in a public place, I lose myself in the story and I seem oblivious to my surroundings, but it’s all part of keeping the creativity going. In this photo, I’m writing my short story called “The Postcard,” based on a railway trip up the Jungfrau mountain in Switzerland.

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Later, back at home, I fact-checked a view that I had witnessed of the Grindelwald valley, with the face of the Eiger on the right.

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Sometimes, I use my time at the café to proofread the typewritten text of what I have so far, as in this photograph of me working on Bernie and the Hermit. You can see that I have already produced a lot of material by the thick folder of paper beneath the pages on which I was working.

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On another occasion at the same table, you can see me writing the short story “The Alamo,” which takes place on the Sunset Limited Amtrak train, and beneath my handwritten pages, I have printed out from the Internet the menu from the dining car of that train for accuracy.

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The result of this combination of working at home and in public is (hopefully) a published book, in this case The Martin Luther King Mitzvah, which I am holding up at the same table where I was working on Bernie and the Hermit at the beginning of this essay. Being a working fiction writer means working all of the time, while you have the inspiration, and you only know when you are finished when you feel that you have reached the logical end of the story. As a former editor-in-chief of Scribner’s told me many years ago, “Just keep writing.”

Praise for Mathew Tekulsky's Fiction

  • “The Martin Luther King Mitzvah was a great book to read. I have never read a book like it.”

  • Mathew Tekulsky’s novel Bernie and the Hermit was a finalist in the 2019 William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition.

  • David Hume Kennerly, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer:
    “Great job! Very moving, and you really captured the era along with a keen kid’s point of view. Very impressive!”

  • “The Martin Luther King Mitzvah by Mathew Tekulsky is a very captivating and enlightening book.”

  • Ed O’Neill, actor on “Modern Family” and “Married With Children”:
    “You should be proud of what you have done. It’s a real book and a real well told story.”

  • James B. Harris, director of “The Bedford Incident” and other films:
    “I really enjoyed reading it. It’s beautifully written. I was really impressed. It’s sweet and touching, and you can identify with the story.

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Robert Iger signs his new book THE RIDE OF A LIFETIME for me!

Robert Iger, Chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company, signed his new book THE RIDE OF A LIFETIME for me this morning. In his book, Bob writes about working on a Frank Sinatra concert at Madison Square Garden in the early part of this career; about becoming friends with Steve Jobs and purchasing Pixar; and about learning and leading in the business world and in life. “A little respect goes a long way,” Bob writes, “and the absence of it is often very costly….If you approach and engage people with respect and empathy, the seemingly impossible can become real.”

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Nice encouragement from (confidential) literary magazine

We really enjoyed reading your work — thank you for trusting us with RINGO during our Fiction Magic Spring 2020 call for submissions. It’s never fun to hear that a publication won’t be publishing your work — we’ve been there — but ultimately we can only find space to publish about 2% of submitted fiction. Those are terrible odds but your work definitely has the skill and craft to be in that 2% — this is absolutely not an indictment of your talent and skill as an author, merely the subjective thoughts of a small group of editors who have their own quirks, likes, biases and tastes. So please don’t think of this like a rejection — because rejection hurts — simply think of this as One Step Closer to a Yes. And remember this: Witness has turned away work that has gone on to win MAJOR AWARDS by authors who are SUPER IMPORTANT, including work that went on to be adapted into movies and major TV shows. We’re probably going to kick ourselves for letting your story go, to be honest. We might already be kicking ourselves.

So let’s make a deal: Let’s both continue to do our best work and keep connected. We definitely don’t want to lose you as a Witness future contributor, so if you promise to keep sending great fiction, we’ll keep reading it and trying to find a place for it in a future issue, okay?

Thank you again for trusting us with your fiction. We are so grateful for this opportunity.

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Fun with the Hooded Orioles

The juveniles are still here. Ready to migrate to Mexico.



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