James Lee Schmidt has worked as an I.T. professional for over twenty years, but has been writing stories since he was in grade school. What started out as a childhood hobby has now became an adulthood passion. After a few of his stories managed to garner some recognition from several writing competitions, James made the decision to pursue writing more seriously. James is a writer of speculative fiction, science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, micro and short fiction. Also he has a series of how-to books called “The Writing Rookie” aimed at helping new writers follow their writing dreams. His upcoming novella series “Strange Tales of the Oskaloosa Oddities Society” is based on various Kansas legends and folklore due out in 2016. Also, James is currently working on a young adult sci-fi series he began during National Novel Writing Month 2014-2015 with the first book entitled Uncle.
Born and raised in the sunflower state, James lives on a small market-garden farm called WiseAcre in Northeast Kansas. When not writing he enjoys tinkering, gardening, beer brewing, wine making, art, and playing music. And while he has never been to the Land of Oz – like Dorothy, he too has ridden a house in a tornado (but that’s a story for another time).
The 7 foundations of my Philosophy:
1.) You don’t have to live a life that others expect of you. ALWAYS hold to the belief that it is your life to live.
2.) You can do great things, not only for yourself, but for others as well, just by being unique and by being bold
3.) To be Weird is a GOOD thing.
4.) Decide for yourself what type of life you want to lead – otherwise someone else will do that for you.
5.) There is more than one way to achieve success. Seek out the knowledge and wisdom of others.
6.) Practice the Art of Listening – and it does take practice.
7.) Carpe Diem
Why I write: I write because I love telling lies – and I’m good at it. Seriously, nothing stokes me more than making up some wild-ass story and having people believe it. There’s a magic to it – an art.
All my life I’ve had stories running around in my head; stories about this happening, or of me doing that thing, and sharing those yarns is what brings me joy. I can be anywhere or anyone in these stories. I’m more content to be who I am because writing leaves me free to be so many different people – the hero, the villain, the martyr, or the maverick. When I sit down at my computer I can be anyone or anything, anywhere in history. Why do I write? I write because it’s freedom.
Writing routine: My routine is constantly evolving. Truthfully, I have always been a night owl and I love working while everyone sleeps. Recently, I started to block out around 5 hours a day to write; two and a half hours when I get up and two and a half hours before bed. I try to do this on average five days a week, and lately I have set myself a goal of trying to get between 15k to 20k words written per week.
It ain’t easy – I’ll tell you. I am slowly learning that good preparation is the key to success. I generally spend two days a week to review character sketches, go over research notes, and do some proofreading of what I have written on the days prior. Then I sit down and prepare to do battle.
Process: I’ll be honest – it can sometimes take years for my ideas to find their way onto the page. I have Word docs, sticky notes, notebooks, and napkins covered with ideas around my office and many of them – MANY OF THEM – probably won’t see the light of day. That’s what happens. But, in time, certain ideas and certain elements just seem to keep coming back around. Those are where I start.
After the first kernel of inspiration takes root, I play with it and play with it, discovering characters and scenes and plot twists. Finally, when I think it’s ready, I dig out a notebook and start sketching ideas and outlines. Depending on the subject matter, I spend the necessary time researching, then jump in and start swimming.
Not always does a story actually go where I initially thought it would. I am finding out that the more comfortable I get with editing my stories – the more comfortable I am with whacking out huge chunks and starting again. It can be difficult and even heartbreaking at times, but trust me – you will know in your heart when you have got it right. You’ll feel it. Again, it’s a kind of magic.
Advice: Writing is not some mystical science. Anyone – and I mean ANYONE can do it. Certainly there is an art to it, but that talent can be developed. Approach writing with eagerness and humility: the writer is only the vessel through which inspiration flows. Writing must be approached with passion and discipline. Oh, and one final piece of advice – one that has taken me years to understand. The key to success in writing is this – START and then FINISH. Master that and you will be a writer.
Wic Coldon feels abandoned. After the passing of his mother and the loss of their farm to the great dust clouds covering Western Kansas, Wic’s father has no choice but to leave he and his little sister Pip at his grandparent’s home in the quiet town of Oskaloosa. Grandparent’s that Wic hardly knows, and on top of that it just so happens to be only a couple of weeks until his 13th birthday.
No sooner does he arrive in Oskaloosa that Wic begins to make plans to run away and hop a train West. But before he can Wic uncovers something that he shouldn’t have. Something that is going to change his life forever
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Status: Editing and Revision stage