Welcome to Amanda Schmidt
I have published thirteen books. I have two stories that are two books (Taken, Solace), one trilogy (The Shadow Dragon), one story that will be two books (Rise of Ansea), and the rest are all stand-alone books (Not Human, Heart of the Emperor, The Huntsman’s Daughter, Project 21, and Adventurer’s Spirit). They are all fictional adventure stories with a love story entwined. Each story has two main characters: a strong – or will become strong – female and a male that eventually is the perfect compliment to her. My published stories so far tend to take place on other worlds because I love using my imagination, although some of my stories talk about Earth, or start on Earth, but only one of them completely takes place only on Earth. I have one story (my trilogy) that is true fantasy – with dragons, swords, magic, lords, wizards… The books I publish contain the elements that I like to read: action, adventure, twists and turns, love, heroes, vicious enemies, fighting (weapons and hand to hand combat).
What prompted you to publish your work? My oldest son was about ten when he caught me writing. He was smiling from ear to ear after I confessed what I was doing and he said, “You’re going to be famous.” I didn’t believe that, I mean, I was hiding that fact that I was writing. However, his excitement dwelled in my mind and I began to consider maybe I could publish. I eventually allowed people to read my manuscript and they encouraged me to publish, which clearly I did. It only took two years for me to gain the courage to do so.
What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Finishing/not having enough time. I am constantly being bombarded with a new idea, and the ideas do not wait until I’ve completed the previous idea. So, I’m constantly changing what I’m working on. Which takes me even longer to finish a story. Plus, I don’t read as fast as I’d like, so revising takes forever and then, again, another idea pops in for something not related to this story. It’s a vicious cycle really (but I love it).
Are you a ‘pantser’ or a plotter? Definitely a pantser. I have never been able to write an outline. When I had to write papers in school, I usually did it after I finished the paper/story – or had to change the outline when I was done. When I sit down to write, the moment I begin typing, the story plays out in front of me, and not always in chronological order. For example, at least three of my books, I wrote the first chapter after I finished writing the rest of it.
What are your views on free books? I’m personally on the fence about that one. I do not think it demeans the author or his/her work. Getting your stories out there is an important part of being a writer, especially as an indie author since all marketing falls on the author. Free books seemed like a great idea when I started. I was told to make book one free and then they’ll come back for more. They didn’t, and I struggled again with the idea that maybe my stories are not “good”. One day someone said to me that they download free books all the time, and they had read very few of them. However, they did read the ones they paid for… because they paid for them. And my numbers seemed to reflect the idea that they probably weren’t that far off the mark. I’ve never had much luck with selling my ebooks for free, and getting sales off my other books, so I stopped. However, I do tend to give out my paperbacks, because I have made a few fans that way.
How do you deal with bad reviews? I always take my reviews to heart, even the bad ones. However, depending on what is said, is how I react to it. I honestly don’t expect everyone to like my stories, because I don’t like all the books I read either. A review is a person’s opinion and they’re allowed to have one. I usually take the bad review as constructive criticism, sometimes I can see their point. Like with the “Huntsman’s Daughter”, I unpublished it and am trying to find the time to tend to the issues that my “editors” and I missed. However, there have been times where the review kind of hurt, like when they attacked something about a character. I wanted to be able to defend that character against whatever it was that they were attacked for, but alas I cannot. Those are the times I make myself warm cookies, grab a glass of milk, and get back to writing. Or I talk to a friend and vent a little. The last time I did this my friend said: “writing with your heart again, I see.” I shrugged, and let that sink in. Then I realized that person didn’t understand my character’s behavior because they hadn’t experienced a similar situation to what my character was dealing with – or if they had, they dealt with it differently – and that allowed me to not be so frustrated.
Order of importance?
Great Characters – If I get attached to the characters in a book I will finish reading that book guaranteed. If the main characters don’t draw me in, I will stop reading the book. So yes, when I write, character development is huge to me.
Good Plot – If the characters and their development are great, I will be more forgiving of the plot. I will finish the story and if there’s a sequel I’ll probably read it as well. As a writer, plot isn’t something I’ve struggled with, I actually don’t think about it too much because the characters tend to write the plot for me.
Technically perfect – I’m not saying it has to be perfect, but if there’s too many technical issues – then I will stop reading it. I’ve put down a book before because there were a ton of short sentences and my brain was so fixated on the all the periods that it was not picking up any of the story. I am pretty lax on typos, and am proud of myself when I catch a homophone error, but I am not a grammatical Nazi by any means. As long as the errors are not overabundant and don’t pull me out of the world the author created, I will continue to read the story.
Awesome world-building – This is not necessary for me as a reader. I’ve come to realize there are two types of people, those with active imaginations and those who need to be told what to see. Which type am I? I’m the type who gets annoyed if there’s too much description. I have a very active and strong imagination so I don’t need pages of details to see something. Give me an idea of what you see and my brain will do the rest unless it is important to the story. Even when I take the time to read all the details an author is giving me, my brain pictures what it wants. I would much rather the words be used for moving the story along or building the character than telling me about a tree that has little if any relevance to the story. As a writer, I do draw the scenery, but I’ve had times where my friends have had to remind me that they are not in my head, so I go back and write to help them see what I see.
How is storytelling influential to our culture? I believe storytelling is very influential to our culture. It helps to inspire and motivate people, it gives people a way to escape this world for a while, it gives something for people to relate to. My older son was not a strong reader, he hated it when he was in early elementary. We introduced him to comic books and by the time he was in sixth grade he was reading above his grade level, but more importantly, it inspired him to make better choices. We had a discussion the other day, and he looks at me and says, “Mom, tragedy helps build character. It sucks, but it’s the truth. Look at Batman. His parents were killed, and that’s horrible I know, but look at who he became, look at all the good he did and people he helped. If his parents hadn’t died he would not have become that incredible man.” And if you think about Star Trek, and all those devices they used that inspired people to figure out how to create things that were similar… like cell phones. Storytelling invigorates the mind and encourages us to think differently than we did before.
What is your writing space like? My writing space is anywhere I can sit with my laptop. In the summer I like to write outside under the trees, but when it’s not nice, I’ll sit on the floor, in my bed, on the couch. I’ve sat in bleachers waiting for wrestling meets to start, in my car waiting for my kids to get done with class, at the library, at a coffee/tea shop. I’m really not too picky about my writing space because as soon as I start typing, this world falls away. Although sometimes if there’s too much talking or the TV is loud, I usually plug in headphones and I’m good.
Tell us about your latest piece.
My most recent story I’ve published is “Adventurer’s Spirit”. It takes place on another world where two different races of people exist. Alyxzandra belongs to a people who are in touch with the world they live on, and Jared’s people do not think twice about the planet. Alyxzandra and Jared meet in the woods when they are young – she was playing a game and he was hunting. They should have seen each other as enemies, but the moment they saw each other they only saw someone who didn’t deserve to die. Jared should have killed her that day, and she should have let Jared die when he is attacked by a Zurgala, but instead they keep each other alive not knowing that these two incidents would change everything. This story follows their journey of friendship as they do their best to protect each other, their sacrifices, and the impacts it has on them and the world they live on.
What’s your next writing adventure? I am always working on more than one thing, but currently I’ve been a bit obsessive over Story 20. I’m almost 150,000 words in, and the ending is almost complete. This is an adventure story taking place far from Earth. It is a story of unexpected love, betrayal, and survival.
Is there a message in your books? I don’t set out for there to be, but they do seem to fall in line with my beliefs that nature is important, that love knows no bounds, that you’re stronger than you know, that men and women are equal and a complement to each other, and survival is possible even in our lowest/darkest moments.
How important is writing to you? The only thing more important to me than writing are my kids. And they will attest to the fact that when I don’t write it affects everything about me. I become forgetful and dumb – we joke around that I can’t think straight because of the voices in my head (the story ideas are taking up too much space). Irritation and sadness tend to take over my mood more easily, and my focus goes out the window. I love writing, stopping isn’t an option. It’s my solace, my happy place, my space to challenge myself to think outside the box and become more than I thought I could be.
I graduated from Eastern Michigan University and live in Rochester, Michigan. I am a single mother of three amazing children who have helped me rediscover my love of writing. I started writing in 2009 and discovered there were many stories within me that I wanted to share. With the help of my family, friends, and fans, I have gained confidence in myself and in what I love, allowing me to live my dream to be an author who finds inspiration everywhere: my past, listening to music, in laughter, and even random moments while out hiking or practicing Tai Chi.
I discovered the hard way how important believing in yourself and your dreams is. With each story I write, I hope to take my readers into a world that will captivate their attention. I hope my stories remind you to believe in your dreams, allowing you to think outside the box and become more than you thought you could be.