March 31, 2011

The Beginning Reader’s Bible Illustrated by Marijke ten Cate

Everything I hoped it would be, and more.

This Bible is a little too advanced for my 2 year old, but she likes the pictures. It’s just that the ratio of words to pages is a little too high for her attention span yet. However, I have been super pleased with it so far and really can’t wait for her to be old enough to really appreciate it. This is going to be a great transition Bible for her, somewhere between her current Bible (A Child’s First Bible by Kenneth Nathaniel Taylor) and a complete Bible. (There may be some more steps in there, too, but those are the three steps we currently have.

What I like about this Bible:

It’s Big - which means that the pictures are big too :) and it feels heavy-duty.
It opens nicely, the binding is really quite nice.
It covers 26 different Bible stories (13 from each Testament) - most of which are the “familiar” ones, but a few that aren’t, like they cover Nehemiah and the birth of Samuel (titled “Hannah’s Special Baby”)
The illustrations are beautiful.
The text is straight out of the Bible. The verses are even numbered accordingly.

The only thing I “don’t” like about this Bible:
1. While the verses have numbers and chapters, which is a great teaching tool for getting used to how verses have “addresses” and how to find them in the Bible... and the verses are accurately numbered... the fact that the authors took certain verses out (to keep the stories short, to keep the stories understandable, to keep everything from being too wordy for a shorter attention span) this necessarily means that the verses may be numbered 8, 9, 15, 16, 17... which MIGHT be confusing to a child (Why did they skip from 9 to 15? Aren’t the numbers 10-14 important?)

That's a pretty minor issue though, and may be all in my head and will never pose a problem for my child(ren).

The FTC demands that I disclose that I received this book through the Booksneeze blogging for books program. The thoughts and opinions are my own. The publisher and booksneeze did not ask for anything except an honest review. Therefore, I like the publisher and booksneeze better than the FTC, but I also like not getting fined by the FTC... so I include the disclaimer.

Thanks, Shannon ;)

March 28, 2011

Poetry Corner

I was perusing some older poetry I'd written (back in high school!) And I thought I'd share with you some of them. I'll try to post Poetry once a week... if someone can think up a nice alliterative title for me that'd be awesome... the only thing I'm coming up with is "Metrical Composition Monday," which I'll go with if need be, but it's a little bit awkward...

Anyway, first poem installment:

Welcome to my Hideaway 3-24-97

High upon a mountain peak,
Beside a rushing stream,
Chinked with mud, a roof that leaks,
The house of my own dreams.

Where only eagles fly,
On a mountain’s lonely peak,
Able to touch the sky,
And with animals alone, to speak.

This beautiful little cabin,
Nestled in a nook,
And only I and the mountain,
Know just where to look.

From all else as if not there
Life goes on below, all well,
While only a few might dare,
To find my secret "Rivendell."

~Jenelle Schmidt

March 26, 2011

Second Picture Story Saturdays

Alright, it's about time someone posted on Saturday - even if nobody will read them because nobody reads blogs on Saturday - !

I've been working on a book that is a compilation of short stories for... oh... about 10 years now. Which is sad. Of course, in that time, I've also graduated college, gotten married, had a baby, moved a few times, and completed four 100,000+ word novels, so maybe not so sad... anyway, thought I'd share some snippets with you all... and start a regular posting habit (because I've neglected this poor writing blog for FAR too long).

So... here's the story of the inspiration behind my book of short stories:

Second Pictures Stories

     I got the idea for this book at a birthday party for an eight-year-old boy. His name is unimportant, for most of the names in this book have been changed to protect the innocent. And anyway, this is not a story about this particular young boy’s birthday party, so much as it is about a singular occurrence within the birthday party that gave me the idea for the title of this book. Something struck me when the father of the birthday boy told all the kids to get together for a picture: he said something that sounded so familiar it made me smile and almost laugh.
    “We will take two pictures, okay? The first one has to be good. You all have to stand still and smile, no bunny ears or silly faces. Then we can take a second picture and you can do whatever you want.”
    How many times had I heard those words? How many times had I stood impatiently through the “good” picture so that we could get to the “wild” picture? And oh! How incredibly long it had always seemed. The “good” picture always seemed to last for an unbearably long time. I stood back and watched as the father took the two pictures. The pictures were snapped and the two moments were captured for all time in the film of the camera. I smiled, there was no doubt in my mind as to which picture would be sent to family and friends.
     The picture that would surely go into the family albums and be brought out to show to friends was the one where all the children were standing politely in two rows and smiling beautifully like little angels. However, it was the second picture that most accurately portrayed the reality of the children at the party. In the second picture each child twisted his or her face into the most grotesque image possible, then he grabbed his neighbor’s throat and jumped up into the air. The light flashed as the second picture was taken, capturing for all time the wild antics of these young children.
     That picture would be taken out as well as the first one, and everyone would laugh over it in a few years. The children would be grown up and laugh at it too, wondering if they had truly ever been so silly. Yes, they would laugh, but deep in their hearts, they would remember the glorious beauty of childhood, and they would each secretly long for such a time again.
     And so, this book is a compilation of “second picture stories,” stories that reveal the true nature of childhood. These stories are exclusively about children, some of them young, some of them not so young. Some of these stories really happened, some of them are from friends, and some of them are even drawn from my own childhood, but it does not matter whether the stories are true or not, or which ones belong to who, what matters is the smiles that they bring. What you do with these stories is entirely up to you, but I would hope that they would help to inspire memories of laughter and fun, and remind us all of a time when we were just a little bit younger, a little bit less mature, a little bit more innocent, and a whole lot wiser.

March 25, 2011

Freebie Friday

Here's an excerpt from the revised version of King's Warrior - coming soon to a bookstore near you (hopefully) ;)

Kamarie, Oraeyn, and Darby meet Yole for the first time in the Mountains of Dusk:

     “What is your name?” she asked gently as she walked towards him with an outstretched hand.
     The boy shrank from her hand as if it were deadly poison. He glanced up at her and their eyes locked. A shock went through Kamarie as she felt a recognition of something long forgotten shoot into her. The youth seemed to experience the same thing, for he went rigid, and he looked at her sharply. His face suddenly looked too old, too wise for his apparent youthful age.
     “My name is Yole,” the boy said hesitantly, “who are you? I didn’t know there was anyone else in these mountains.”
     “I am Kamarie, and my two companions are Oraeyn and Darby,” Kamarie said, still puzzling over what she had seen in the youth’s eyes. It had seemed as though she was looking through a window and seeing a very different world than the one she had expected. There was something strangely familiar about this youth, like a part of a dream that has faded with time but was never completely forgotten.
    Oraeyn stepped forward, “What are you doing out here alone?” his voice was concerned, and a little bit suspicious.
     Yole glanced at his feet, “I was working for a man in the village of Peak’s Shadow.”
     Kamarie’s eyes met Oraeyn’s in startled recognition; he nodded and touched the hilt of his sword as if expecting an attack. Yole continued without noticing their reaction to the name that he had uttered, “I fell asleep while I was watching the herd, I know I shouldn’t have, but I was listening to the other shepherds’ playing their pipes and the music just made me feel drowsy and tired and I couldn’t help but fall asleep.
     “The next thing I knew, Brant was waking me up and telling me that I had to leave, that I should be more careful around people. I think he was accusing me of stealing sheep or something, but I didn’t. I don’t have any use for sheep of my own. I wouldn’t know what to do with them. I certainly don’t have any place to put them,” Yole’s tone was open and slightly confused, “I’ve been wandering through these mountains trying to find my way out for a long time now. I don’t have any food left, and I think I’m lost.” He sniffed, and wiped his nose with his grimy hand.
    Kamarie winced and said, “We have some food.”
    At the same time, Oraeyn asked, “Did you say Brant?”
    The boy looked at Kamarie gratefully, then turned to Oraeyn, “Yes sir. The man I worked for was named Brant.”
    “Well, now, that’s just the man that we need to find, isn’t it?” Darby said, causing them all to jump. It was sometimes fairly easy to forget that Darby was even there she spoke so little.
    “Yes, Darby, it is,” Kamarie said, surprised that she had not been as quick as either Darby or Oraeyn to make that connection.
    “He’s a good man,” Yole said quickly, darting a look at them as if he thought they would start accusing him of being ungrateful, “looks out for his people, he’s not really the leader of the village or anything, but everyone looks up to him. Whenever there’s trouble, it’s brought to Brant, and he deals with it, never saw anyone more fair in his treatment of others. And his family is nice too: kind, generous people. I don’t hold a thing against them. I don’t know what I did, but I know I probably deserved to be kicked out, because Brant wouldn’t ever issue a punishment if it weren’t deserved.”
    “Does he still bend knee to his King?” Kamarie asked thoughtfully.
    Yole stared at her, “Of course he does!” He exclaimed. “I told you, he’s a good man, follows the rules. Fair. Of course he bends knee to King Arnaud, he thinks very highly of him, he always speaks of the king with respect and admiration. He’s a man of character, Brant is, loyal to the end.”
    “Alright, alright!” Kamarie held up her hands, “I was not questioning his character. We just have to be careful in these difficult days.”
    The defensiveness went out of Yole’s eyes, “I’m sorry too, but Brant, he was good to me. Paid me more than I deserved, sent me out with plenty of food, well, it would have been enough food if I hadn’t gotten lost. Most of the other people I worked for used whips when they sent me away. I was chased out of one town by the villagers, they threw rocks and threatened to kill me if I ever came back.”
    Oraeyn stared at him, “What did you do?”
    “I don’t know, really,” he said, “but it must have been something awful.”
    “Did you ever consider, young man,” Darby suddenly spoke up, “that perhaps they were in the wrong?”
    Yole’s eyes got big, and he looked scared, “No! Never! I wouldn’t even let the thought enter my head. I just broke some rule and had to be punished for it, that’s all.”

March 24, 2011

Making progress

But not on the book from which I posted an excerpt a few days ago. (Though I do plan to work on that this afternoon, if I can use little L's nap to my advantage).

Nope, I'm working on something else. It's a writing project. It's a surprise. :) And that's all I'm going to say on the subject.

March 23, 2011

Form Rejection

"Please accept my apology for this form response, but the volume of mail received in my office makes a personal reply impossible.

I have reviewed your material and it is not anything I wish to work with at this time. Thank you for the submission and I wish you the best of luck with other agents."

Well... shucks.

March 22, 2011

A different perspective

I went over to peruse the ABNA boards today, because it's March 22, and that means that the next round of finalists went up this morning. (They are getting much better at doing that early in the day, even for us East Coasters)!

Amazingly enough, it was kind of nice to not be all stressed out about what I'd find. I didn't even feel compelled to check the lists - because, since I got cut in the first round, obviously my name wasn't going to be on it. (Ok, I'll admit, I did check the YA list... just on the off chance that there was some kind of mistake on the first one). But I wasn't worried about it.

Would I have loved to get the feedback that comes from making it to the second round? Of course. Can I get that feedback anyway? Well, I do have a friend who made it to "Vine Reviewer" status on amazon... she didn't get asked to be an ABNA judge... but she's as qualified as they are. And she'll give me a nice review, because she thinks my book is awesome. :)

Moving on... I'm sure I'll enter next year, because it's fun. But if I never make it past round two... it doesn't really matter. It's not a REAL fantastic method for measuring whether or not your book will succeed. I know enough people who have read and enjoyed my books, and there are people I DON'T know who have read and enjoyed my books, and most importantly I enjoy my books... so I'll stick with them. However, I'm beginning to see the up-side to sticking with self-publishing... mostly because my family is setting up a marketing/media company, and I'm thinking that using that company to promote/sell my books while retaining all rights to them might be what I would most enjoy doing. Besides, form rejection letters are depressing. ;) I'm thinking about submitting my ms to DAW though, they still accept unsolicited/unagented submissions... shot in the dark, but it might be fun... just to see.

March 18, 2011

New Book Teaser

     The sound of the window opening behind him made the old man’s head jerk around. He stood up, a towering figure in the small room and glared at the young man who had just dropped lightly through the window, throwing up a cloud of dust as he landed on the unswept floor. The boy looked around, his brown eyes curious and his sandy brown hair a little unkempt from the long climb and the winds near the top of the tower.
    “What are you doing in my tower?” The old man’s voice filled up the room and Grayden looked up, his eyes widening in shock.
    “Do you... do you live up here?”
    “You have not answered my question,” the old man raised up his cane and pointed it at the boy’s chest threateningly. “Now, tell me truly, how did you get in and why are you here?”
    “I’m s-sorry, sir. I didn’t know anyone lived up here. How... how do you get food?”
    “Oh, right. I... uh... well, I climbed up the tower.”
    The old man strode over to the window and looked down, then he looked at the boy, disbelief in his sharp blue eyes. “You could see the tower?”
    Grayden frowned in confusion, “Uh... yes. The tower has been standing on the border of our village for as long as anyone can remember.”
    “That’s not possible,” the old man muttered. He looked out the window again. “Is that your friend down there?”
    “And he can see the tower too?”
    “Sir, everyone I know can see the tower. Why?”
    The old man stared about frantically, at a loss for words. Grayden gave a small shake of his head and looked around the room. Something in front of him caught his eye and he moved towards it.
    “What is that?” He asked quietly, stretching out his hand towards the glowing blue orb on the table.
    Grayden snatched his hand back and stared at the old man, wide-eyed. The old man strode to the table and stared into the orb. Then he straightened and his voice was suddenly quiet and terrible.
    “What have you done?”
    “I... I’m not sure I know what you mean, sir.” Grayden was beginning to wish he had never climbed the tower wall.
    “Look at it!” The man pointed at the orb.
    Grayden approached cautiously and bent towards the table, peering at the orb. It was mostly blue, but thin lines of red swirled within the glass like tiny, hairline fractures on its surface.
    “Please, sir, I don’t understand.”
    “Those red lines should not be there. What have you done?”
    “I didn’t do anything! I didn’t even touch it, I just climbed your tower, I’m sorry for intruding, I’ll leave now.”
    “Oh no you don’t,” the old man’s voice was stern, but gentler now. “It may not be your fault, but you’re caught up in it now. I must find out what is happening,” he paused and shuddered, “out there.”

Title for this book coming soon!

March 01, 2011

Truly Blessed

I have been musing this past week or so about the blessings in my life. The one that came to mind the most often recently is the encouragement and support that I find myself surrounded by on every side. As I took part in the discussion boards for the writing contest I was struck by how many of the authors over there hadn’t told their families and friends that they had written a novel. They were scared of being made fun of, scared that their families and friends would offer harsh criticism, or worried that those closest to them wouldn’t even care or be at all supportive of their endeavor. I was, honestly, shocked and appalled by some of the stories that they shared about how their novels were received by family and friends: the unkind remarks that were made, the discouraging comments, the criticism they were subjected to by those who were supposed to be their biggest fans. One woman talked about how her husband “tolerated” her writing and referred to it to his friends as “her little hobby.”

It made me stop and thank the Lord for the people He has put in my life. I am truly blessed. I started writing because my Dad encouraged me to do so. He gave me the motivation to sit down and write an entire novel in a summer. He has been one of my biggest fans throughout my entire life, no matter what I set out to do. My Mom doesn’t normally read the genre I write (fantasy), but she reads my books, and she cheers me on by leaving me nice reviews on amazon, comments on my blog, facebook, and sending me emails to encourage me. I never feel alone with her on my side.

My brothers and sister constantly begged me to write more of the series. They refer my books to all their friends. They also leave me reviews, encourage me when I hit writer’s block or get cut from the ABNA, and are generally there for me whenever I need them.

My husband absolutely believes that one day I will be the money-maker in our home due to my books. :) He constantly encourages me to write new stories, and helps me when I need technical advice. He draws maps and helps me think through battle strategies when I have battle scenes in my books. He often gives me time in the evenings if I want to write.

My friends think it’s super-cool that I write. They have offered their services as proof-readers, editors, book cover designers, and self-proclaimed publicists. Some have even bought my books, most have recommended them to friends.

I only hope that someday I can encourage each and every one of the people in my life the way that they have encouraged me. I am awed to silence when I consider how incredibly blessed I am. Compared to the people God has placed in my life, and the love that I am surrounded by, a couple of rejection letters don’t even register.