July 25, 2012

Things That Will Make Your Day

As an author, especially a self-published, debut author just getting started in the world of marketing and promoting your books, sometimes it can feel like a thankless job. Sure there's the intrinsic motivation to write because it's what you love to do, and sure there's the satisfaction you get when you finish a story or see that you sold a book or two, but by and large there's very little feedback from people you don't know personally. Sometimes it can seem like the only people who care are just the people who care about me because they're family and they "have" to. And while (at least for me) that is normally enough to keep me at it anyway, there are also moments where it can feel like the mountain is just too big to keep climbing. It can feel like there's nothing really waiting at the top anyway, even if you could reach it.

And then... then you get a letter like this one:  

"Dear Ms. Schmidt, I read the book King's Warrior and I really enjoyed the book and how many twists and turns there were, it always kept me guessing. ... Thanks again."

or like this one  

"Dear Ms. Schmidt, I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading your book "King's Warrior." I found it to be an exciting adventure with intriguing characters. It left me wanting more!"

Both of these letters are from people I don't personally know. And that absolutely makes my day. Thank YOU, dear readers, for reminding me that it isn't the top that's important, it's the climb.

July 23, 2012

You Are Trapped in a Cave, Facing a Fire-Breathing Dragon...

... you have a plate of steaming spaghetti, a chess board missing all the rooks, two pieces of string, and a metal ruler. What do you do?

That is one of the questions I was asked for an author interview. If you'd like to read my answer, you can do so by clicking here.

Also, don't forget to enter (or tell your friends to enter) the goodreads giveaway I've got going. Five copies of my book are available to win!

July 19, 2012

The Amazing Spiderman and Where I'd Like to See Them Go From Here

My husband and I went to see the new Spiderman movie last weekend. I'm going to try to do this without spoilers... but I can't make any promises.

I really enjoyed it, more than the Toby Maguire versions, and here's why:

While the T.M. versions were often very accurate visually and true to the story, they really got one major thing wrong: Spiderman.

Yep, sorry folks, but whether it was the writers, the directors, or Toby himself, they got Spidey all wrong, and that affected the entire trilogy.

Now, those who know me know I don't read comic books. So my reviews of comic-books-turned-movies are all based on the television cartoons I watched as a kid, and not on the comic books, so please keep that in mind as you read this.

In the cartoons I watched, namely the 1990s Spiderman cartoons, Peter Parker/Spiderman is incredibly quippy. He's sarcastic. He's got a great sense of humor.

In contrast, Toby Maguire's Peter Parker/Spiderman was a little too broody and vague. He sort of stumbled around as if in a fog. Everything was portrayed as being super hard. He couldn't keep a job, he couldn't make it to classes on time, he never showed up when he was supposed to, he was extremely unreliable, and he couldn't pay the rent on his apartment. Because of this, instead of being fast-paced, humorous, and fun, the movies felt tedious and almost depressing at times. The action and the visuals tried to make up for it, and they got a lot of the villains spot-on, but I still walk away from that trilogy thinking, "They ALMOST had it."

Even the "heroic" element of the original trilogy ends up being kind of a downer. Because of his psychological struggle over the difficulty of being Spiderman and still retaining a normal life, the Maguire trilogy turns its thesis: "With great power comes great responsibility" into rather a bummer of a deal. Instead of being uplifting and inspirational, the audience is left feeling like Peter is constantly thinking, "I have great power... DANG IT... now I have to be responsible."

Meanwhile, this new movie captures the humor of the Peter Parker/Spiderman character. If you've seen the previews, you're familiar with the scene where he confronts the car thief, "Oh no, you've found my weakness... it's small knives!" That sort of humor is laced throughout the new movie. And while Andrew's Spiderman isn't as intense and his road to becoming a true hero needs a little work, it's much easier and more enjoyable to watch. Laugh-out-loud humor, mixed in with poignantly sad/touching sequences, this movie was just enough over-the-top that I could suspend my disbelief without wanting to groan.

You can read a very well-thought out comparison of the two Spidermen here (I apologize in advance for the swears... I didn't write it). There's only one real place where I disagree with the author of that post - you'll have to read the post to understand the next couple of paragraphs... if you don't want to, just skip on down to the asterisks:

The Fighter - I wouldn't give this one to Maguire, and here's why. The villains he faced were nowhere near the strength of the Lizard in the new movie. Maybe, MAYBE Venom could compete, but all the rest were closer to "normal." Sandman? All he had to do was get him wet. Green Goblin? Sure, he had enhanced strength, but not more than Spiderman's enhanced strength. Doc Oc? Yes, he has extra metal arms, but he's always been a more cerebral than physical villain. Don't get me wrong, I loved the portrayal of these villains in the original movies, I thought they were spot-on. However, I don't think any of them held a candle strength-wise to the new movie's Lizard. Thus, you can't really compare the battle scenes.
Also, Spiderman has always been more of a Rocky Balboa than an Ivan Drago. While he can certainly dish it out when he needs to, his strengths have always been more in his speed (both physically and mentally). One of his classic moves in the cartoon was to get between two enemies and then jump out of the way at the last minute so that they hit each other instead of him.


I appreciated the new twists they put on the old stand-bys: how Uncle Ben dies, how he becomes Spiderman, they even put their own spin on the famous "with great power comes great responsibility" quote. And while Andrew Garfield is a bit "twitchy" when he's playing Peter... I can forgive that because it sort of makes sense given his new powers and his getting acquainted with them. I also really enjoyed the plot line about Peter's parents - it was new, and yet it fit right into the story easily (again, I don't know if that's addressed in the comic books, I don't remember it being a part of the cartoon)

LOVE that he makes his own webbing. That was a major fail in the T.M. franchise.

Where would I like to see the Spiderman franchise go now? Well, I'm glad you asked!

I'd love to see them grow Peter Parker up a bit. In the cartoons it always felt like he was older, a junior in college at the youngest, and it even seems more like he's a grad student at times. So I'd like to see a Peter Parker that's out of high school, not a freshman in college, and has figured things out a bit. Let's start the second movie in this reboot and make it apparent that four or more years have passed. What would this look like?

1. Peter already has a steady job at the Daily Bugle. He's solidly employed, and while Jameson hates Spiderman, he has no real problem with Parker (other than that he has a slight problem with just about everyone who crosses his path).
2. Peter is a good student, either in college or grad school, working as an intern/student with Doc Conners (who has been released from prison for good behavior)
3. Peter still lives with his Aunt May because hey, it's cheaper, and NYC isn't cheap!
4. Spiderman is an established entity. I'd love to see them continue the thread they began with the police officer and add a sort of grudging-respect relationship between Spidey and the police, sort of similar to the Batman/Commissioner Gordan relationship.

I'd like to be dropped back into the world after a few years have passed and he's grown up a bit. And I think this team of writers/directors/actors could do it, they've set themselves up wonderfully for something like that, and I think they could pull it off. The question is: will they?

July 12, 2012

The Importance of Prologues

I'd like to share a story with you. I'm a fan of prologues. I know that "epilogues" are the much cooler kids on the block, but I've always been partial to prologues. I like to know where the story really began, a little bit of back-story, a little bit of history, maybe a prophecy or two to hint at where the story is going. When I was growing up, my dad often skipped the prologues of stories he read out loud to us.

So, of course, when I went to write my own novel, I had to include a prologue... simply because I knew then he would have to read it.

Today, I got to witness the end of a prologue, and the beginning of a first chapter. Maybe I'm being overly heavy with the metaphors, but it's a neat metaphor, and I like it. I've never claimed to be part of the "in" crowd anyway.

Friends of mine began an incredible journey about six months ago. It was a journey that changed their hearts, changed their lives, took them all the way to the other side of the world and back, and when they came back, they carried in their arms their brand-new, 8-month old baby girl.

And she's a cutie. :)

I had the privilege of being able to be there at the airport with some other friends to welcome them home, give them hugs, and meet their newest family member. I had been worried I wouldn't make it, as I had a dentist appointment earlier that morning, but we got there. I couldn't feel the entire right side of my face and my speech was a little slurred, but who cares? We made it, and this isn't my story anyway, it's theirs (my including it is simply an illustration of reality. Mundane details like dentist appointments don't usually make it into the story books).

And now their story as a family of five (no offense to the furry family members), really begins. Anyone might be tempted to walk away from that meeting at the airport and think, "What a beautiful ending to a beautiful story!" And it is, that's where most story-books would end. You'd close the book and feel quite satisfied.

But this is real life, folks, and that wasn't the end. It was just the beginning. Everything up until this moment has been merely the prologue.


For today's post I'm going to send you over to another blog where I was provided with the opportunity to answer some Author Interview questions.


July 11, 2012


As an author you have to develop a thick skin. One of my recommendations to young/new authors just getting started is: Learn to accept criticism and negative reviews. The sooner you can do this, the better your writing will be for it and the sooner you can move on into becoming a "real" author. Until you can accept the bad with the good, the negative with the positive, and let them roll off your back, you're not ready to enter the world of publishing.

That said, I've done a lot in the past few years to "grow up" a bit as a writer. I've learned to accept criticism and glean through it for what is helpful and disregard anything I totally disagree with. It's not that it doesn't still sting a little now and then, it's that I have learned not to go on the defensive. I brace myself a little, sure, but I don't get defensive. I try to accept negative remarks as constructively as possible and with grace. Oddly enough, it is now the positive reviews that evoke the most emotional knee-jerk response from me (thankfully, when it comes to positive feedback, I don't have to be as guarded in my own response!)

That is why I am just overwhelmed right now. Last night, I couldn't sleep. So I got up and started messing around on goodreads, where I discovered this post:

"Hello, I just created a new blog called The First 7500 words where I will be reading the first 7500 words of a novel and giving the writing a critique based on several different aspects of those first critical words. This idea is based off of the fact that readers only give a novel so long to prove itself. Will your work hold strong?"

Intrigued, because it sounded a lot like the excerpt phase of the ABNA contest (which I haven't made it to in the past two years) I entered the contest. I expected a so-so response (I had no idea what sort of genre this blogger normally reads and enjoys, and her fun, snarky intro to the rules on her blog had me ready for a witty criticism, not necessarily an overly negative one, but I did not expect an overly enthusiastic positive review, and I was okay with that).

This morning, I read her review of my first 7500 words here and, yeah, I'll admit it, teared up a time or two. Her sweet words about my writing truly overwhelmed me.

July 08, 2012


Today is the last day of the 50% off sale of my book "King's Warrior" at the createspace e-store when you enter the discount code at checkout: 4QTPLAU6 Feel free to share this discount code with others. You can find "King's Warrior" at the createspace e-store here: https://www.createspace.com/3633144 (discount does not work at amazon)

July 02, 2012

THIS WEEK: 50% OFF "King's Warrior"

In honor of the 4th of July now through next Sunday you can buy "King's Warrior" for $7.49/copy. That's 50% off the list price at the createspace e-store when you enter the discount code: 4QTPLAU6 Feel free to share this discount code with others. You can find "King's Warrior" at the createspace e-store here: https://www.createspace.com/3633144 (discount does not work at amazon)