A HERO'S SPARK: the final book in the Wicked Women series!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

20 Questions with Author Linda Schmalz!

Good morning my friends!

In my travels through life I've met people I've been proud to call "friend."  Never was that more true than with my guest today, my good friend, my critique partner, the woman who makes sure I don't get too wrapped up in writing a bad plot, Linda Schmalz!

I'm so happy today to be one of the first to share Linda's beautiful new novel with you,  A Lonely Sky.  This is Linda's very first novel, and I'll be sharing my review of it later this week, when you will have a chance to win a FREE         e-copy of the book!  (So stay tuned for that!) 

Meanwhile, I wanted you all to meet Linda, so today I've given her my 20 questions.  So everyone, sit back and enjoy meeting Author Linda Schmalz!

1) Tell us a little about yourself...(feel free to offer up any or no biographical info)

I am currently a "stay at home" mom. I'm married to a great guy, have one awesome soon- to- be- high school freshman, and a terrific terrier named Tally! I taught myself to read at age four, and believe me, back in 1966 that was a BIG deal. Now, I think it's mandatory before kids hit pre-K, right? We live in Madison, Wisconsin where I've resided now for over 20 years. I majored in nursing in college, with a minor in psychology, before electively dropping out, realizing I loved the book study, but not the actual emotional toil nursing takes. I give credit to nurses everywhere. Pay them more! But I digress. After my UW experience, I finished my education in a medical assistant program and then worked for a an HMO for nearly 17 years in various departments. Quit working to stay home with my son full time. That was nearly nine years ago, and in my spare time, I've completed two novels, started a few others and am working on a third.

2) When did you begin writing?

I think the gift has always been brewing underneath the surface. All through grammar school, high school and college my writing efforts were praised and received high marks. Every now and then I would dabble at fiction. I remember the first novel I started...I was in sixth or seventh grade. It involved a teenager who ran track in high school. She develops leukemia and is told not to run anymore. But dang it, wouldn't you know that the most important race of her life was coming up. Despite chemo, despite being so weak she could barely stand, she decides to run that race. And she wins it. End of story. LOL. As you can see, I had a lot to learn about plot, credible characters, medical afflictions, etc.

3) What inspired you to become a writer?

Like I said, I think it's always been in me, but something clicked big time after I read "Little Women" (a couple years after the Dying Runner Story idea.) Something about the characters and their interwoven lives and plots just drew me in. I was fascinated by the book. And Jo wanted to become a writer! And someone died! And the naughty girl who didn't deserve to, got the guy! I still love this book. And every movie made of it, my favorite being the Winona Ryder version. Anyhow, I digress again. After "Little Women" I realized Louisa May Alcott took her characters even further and went on with their lives and children in subsequent books. I thought that was so cool! (Yes, I was young and impressionable.) I started writing a novel again, but got distracted picking out names and looks for the characters (do we really need a plot?), and thus, that novel was never written either.

4) Do you write with a soundtrack for whatever you're working on, or do you write in complete silence?

Depends. Silence is best, but not found in this house. So, I usually put on music that fits the mood of the chapter/novel I'm working on. Right now I'm working on a scene with a woman who just lost a baby. Very hard to write when some computer Pokemon game is blaring from downstairs or Sports Center is blaring from the other room, or both. So I put on my Ipod...for this scene I'm listening to the soundtrack from "The Tudors", probably some of the saddest, most beautiful music composed. Trevor Morris is the composer. For my light paranormal, I listened to the soundtrack from "Bridget Jones's Diary" and old eighties bands like Eddie Money. Whatever gets the words down on paper!

5) As a busy mom, when do you find time to write? What's your schedule like?

I have no set writing schedule. I write when I can. During school, it's usually in the afternoon before the boy comes home or before dinner if said boy does not need help with homework. For a while I was meeting a writing partner at the library (this is where most of "Lonely Sky" was written) once a week in the mornings and that worked so well! I can't go to the library by myself however to write. I don't like leaving my computer unattended if I have to go to the bathroom. And I'm a writer. I drink coffee. And coffee means bathroom. So you see, I need a partner at the library. I love to write at home though. I have my own, little messy office and I love it, but it's situated between the main bedroom where husband watches football and SCREAMS at the television, because, you know the refs can hear him, and downstairs where the boy watches Nickelodeon and plays on the computer with the volume raised on both. I wish I could be more like other writers I know who get up very early and write until the sun or kids rise but that ain't me, babe.

6) Your new book is your first novel, "A Lonely Sky." How about a little synopsis/blurb?

At nineteen, Julia Steele's future seems bright. She has a steady and kind boyfriend, is enrolled in the college of her choice, and currently is on a two week tour of Germany. Enter Sam Lyons, a thirty- year- old, down-on-his-luck, handsome and charming British actor whom Julia falls for. They steal away to London for a brief love affair until Julia must return home. They promise to reunite in London in the fall. But when Sam encounters financial ruin and blackmail at the hands of the spoiled, misunderstood socialite Deirdre Lamont, he finds his only option is to marry her. At home in Chicago, Julia discovers herself pregnant with Sam's child. Devastated by Sam's marriage, and determined to keep her baby, she marries her high school boyfriend, who offers to raise the child as his own. Years later, Sam and Julia accidentally reunite in New York, and when misunderstandings clear, the flame of passion rekindles. But will Julia sacrifice her family for another chance to be with Sam? Will Deirdre tire of her ceaseless attempts to hold onto Sam, or finally give in to the one who truly loves her? When Sam is diagnosed with cancer, decisions become imperative. Spanning twenty-six years in the intertwining lives of Julia, Sam, their friends and enemies, A Lonely Sky explores desperate choices and infinite emotions of the heart.

7) Did anyone in particular inspire your main characters?

Yes. Sam, Julia, Spencer and John were all based on movie/TV stars whose looks fit the part or vice versa. Deirdre came into her own being, she'd have it no other way. But I don't wish to influence the imagination of anyone reading the book, I want them to "see" these characters the way their imaginations want them to, so I'll keep silent on who these characters are based on. (Of course, if the price is right...)

8) I've spent some serious time on this blog talking about the possibilities of e-publishing. You did this book on your own, through Smash words. Care to comment on the experience?

So far so good. It took me two attempts to format it correctly (and some questions to those who have already learned formatting...thank you Lori and Angie!) but after that it has been fairly simple to submit. I'm still waiting to have the download (upload?) it to Amazon, etc. so I draw more readers, and I'll let the world know when that happens.

9) Favorite Book/movie/TV show?

So many to choose from! I love books and movies and t.v. so I'll limit each to my top three: Books "Little Women", "A Catcher in the Rye" and "The Stand". Movies: "Titanic", "The Sound of Music", "Terms of Endearments" but really, the list is really long! T.V? "Grey's Anatomy", "Survivor" and "The Biggest Loser".

10) Favorite Actor and actress?

Actors: Jeremy Irons, Bruce Willis, Paul Bettany. Actresses: Jessica Lange, Vanessa Redgrave, Zoey Daschanel.

11) What are you reading right now?

"The Tenth Circle" by Jodi Picoult and "The Chase" by Susan Wales and Robin Shope.

12) Do you snack when you're writing and if so, what are you eating?

I try not to, but if I'm nervous, (as in sending out a query) I'll eat chocolate. Dark M&M's are a fave but my current passion are Hershey's Nuggets: Toffee and Almond Crunch.

13) Starbucks or Caribou coffee?

Neither, sorry Starbucks and Caribou. No endorsements for you here. Starbucks is too strong for me, and there's not a Caribou close (that I"m aware of). I love coffee at Panera, and when I'm home it's Maxwell House 'cause I find it's good till the last drop.

14) Most hilarious childhood memory? (Example...the one time in my life I was trying to be cool, I got on my cousin's pony and tried to show off my riding talents. Pony walked me under the clotheslines and nearly decapitated me.)

My sister isn't going to like me telling this, but here goes. We are only two years apart. As teenagers we did not get along. Well, we got into it one morning and were yelling and my sister got in my face, waving her hand in front of it and taunting me "Hit me, come on and hit me, I know you want to hit me." So I did. I slapped her in the face. She started to cry and my mom walked in and asked what happened and my sister jumped in that I hit her. My mom looked at the both of us, and immediately punished my sister. LOL!

15) If __Jesus____________showed up on my doorstep and asked me to run away with him, I would.-I mean, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have much of a choice.

I think you win with that answer Linda!  LOL!

16) What would you like readers to take away from "A Lonely Sky"?

An unforgettable story. A good read. The need for a sequel. Wanting to read more of my work. Do I ask for much? The list goes on.

Nope, you're not asking for much.  And readers, believe me when I say, "A Lonely Sky" IS unforgettable.  Don't believe me? My review of the book is coming later this week!

17) What are some of the best/worst movies made from novels and why?

Oh, hard question, 'cause if I've read the book, I probably didn't see the novel and vice versa. I guess the standard for "best" is "Gone with the Wind" and of course all the "Little Women" movies (just cause I love "Little Women" as you know by now.) Worst? "Angela's Ashes"--loved the book, hated the movie (could it have been more boring or depressing? Seriously, the book was not this way!)

18) If your life story was made into a movie, who should play the part of you?
According to some quiz on Facebook, Rachel McAdams. When I was young I was compared to Kristy McNichol ("aka "Buddy" on the old "Family" series). I SO hated that comparison. Still do.

19) Fill in the blank, if I had a million dollars I would a home in Southern California and get a housekeeper and cook. I'd get another dog. I'd buy a summer home in London. Oh wait, I blew my wad on the house in California? Dang. Time to write another book.

20) What's next for you?

Turning 50. Ouch. Also, I'm searching for an agent/publisher for my completed second novel "What Dead Women Want" (a light paranormal with romantic elements) or I'll e-pub it through Smash words and affiliates. I'm currently working on another commercial women's fiction novel about adoption, loss and family. I also have a historical in the works, and a fun time-travel. And then again, you never know. I just might finish "The Dying Runner". LOL! All I can tell my readers is.... stay-tuned!

Well thank you Linda for your fun answers!  Now, my friends, it's your turn!  Want to win a FREE E-COPY of "A Lonely Sky?"  Yes, you do!  (And no, you do NOT need a reading device to receive and read a copy.)  Leave a comment, include your email address and you will be entered into a drawing to win a FREE E-COPY of this first novel from a very talented author.  Drawing will be held Friday morning of this week, and the winner will be announced late Friday.  Everyone who leaves a comment with an email address on today's post and on Thursday's book review will be eligible to win!  :)


  1. Great interview!
    I'm reading A Lonely Sky right now and it's great!

  2. Hmm, I think you posted this so you could check to see if I would read your blog...I am pretty sure that happened when we were kids.