Interview with Author Mary L. Schmidt

My guest today is author Mary L. Schmit. Hello! Welcome to Writing in the Modern Age! It’s such a pleasure to have you here. 
Hello!  Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog today!
It's my pleasure! 

Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book? When did it come out? Where can we get it?, Marie. Sammy: Hero At Age Five by M. Schmidt and Gene D. Donley, tells of my son’s story of his fight with cancer but this time from Sammy's point of view – a five-year-old’s point of view. This is a book that breathes. It is a gallant saga of Sammy and his mother in battling cancer with incogitable courage and resolute determination. The story is a compelling, first-person narrative of the journey that Sammy and his mother undertook when cancer plagues Sammy. The story has Sammy, a child barely out of the toddler-stage, as the protagonist who gets affected with cancer but does not let it shred his substance, his spirit, his ebullience. The story is a slice of real life and it shines in its own glory of candor and courage. The story, with its impeccable sincerity, sets in the cascade of emotional pathways and the empathy is momentous and super-instant. Sammy suffers and the agony hits you hard in the face; you find Sammy vulnerable amidst a sea of medical professionals and paroxysms of protective instinct jolt you and overpower you; you find a febrile bout tormenting Sammy’s well-being, lassitude automatically grips you hard. 

The child-like glee thickly layers the narrations of the mischief that Sammy and Gene (the brothers) indulged in. Their bond is profound and all scattered in the subtext, ‘two peas in a pod’ as the author sums up. The craze of putting their favorite red backpacks in the morning even before getting dressed, the chutzpah of pulling radishes out of the ground and eating them in the field, the legend of cookie-monster and the monster residing in the sand-pit, the joy of riding lawn mowers and fishing and riding big Red Wheels, the picnics on sunny days with an unending supply of chicken nuggets and honey, the charm of creating a ruckus behind mother’s back, the thrill of fast-climbing steps of the slide with no one around, the guilt of adventures that took a wrong turn. The substance of the book is knitted with life-sized narration of events that induces a high-definition visual imagery, running on loop, giving a highway ride to the sensory nervous system. This book just came out and it is found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and everywhere so if you walk into, say, Walmart, and they don’t have it on their shelf; ask if they can order it for you.
The Amazon link is here:


Is there anything which prompted this book? Something that inspired you?

Definitely! This book is like my first book, When Angels Fly by S. Jackson and A. Raymond, but it has a different feel to it as it details the same story, albeit from a different viewpoint. The story feels completely different, though. Where When Angels Fly is full of determination, hurt, anguish, love of family and an unerring belief, Sammy: Hero At Age Five is positive, full of hope of a better life (afterlife), a strong belief in heaven and of things getting better for little Sammy. It is awe-inspiring to read how his faith and braveness grew as he met Jesus and his older brother, Shane, a brother he never met in life. For Sammy: Hero at Age Five, it was time to tell the world how a little boy thinks and feels when in this real-life situation.  

Wow. I always find it interesting to see where the muse takes us as writers.

Let me ask a different question.

When did you know you wanted to write? Or has it always been a pastime of yours?

As a child, I wrote little stories to go with my paper dolls and Barbie dolls, and I read all the time. Due to my health, I hung up my registered nurse hat in January of 2013, and I found myself with time on my hands. Now, I’ve written two memoirs, and numerous illustrated children’s books, one art book and one cookbook. I’ve published 18 books and I’ve been included in three anthologies. 

My youngest son, Sam, had a cancer battle and passed at age five in 1990. Since I had journal notes that detailed this part of my life, and my boy’s lives, I decided to put my journals into electronic form for my living son, Gene. A multi award-winning memoir came from that, When Angels Fly, written using pen names of S. Jackson & A. Raymond, and changing of all names and places. That was a huge project and is an epic length book, on sale right now for $0.99. Then I thought ‘now what to do next and illustrated children’s books came to mind.  From that another multi award-winning book, The Big Cheese Festival, a book about bullies was written and a book dealing with good touch/bad touch, Suzy Has A Secret, was written. From that point, we went to books involving squirrels and a small dog. We have wild squirrels come into our backyard, and my husband started to leave them walnuts and bell seeds. One squirrel, Stubby – aptly named as he had just a stub of a tail and he became brave when the nuts were all taken. Stubby took to standing up on his hind legs on a ledge outside a picture window. He let us know he wanted more nuts! The squirrels are still wild, as we would never dream of taming one, but they did become fodder for an illustrated children’s book series, Shadow and Friends, and each book is fine as a standalone. Shadow was chosen as our daughter has a small dog, so we decided that dog and the squirrels would have many adventures.

Do you have any favorite authors yourself, Mary?

Oh yes! I grew up on Laura Ingalls Wilder and Carolyn Keene books. I truly loved and still love those books! I have all of them in digital format now. Do we ever grow up or out of the books we loved as children?


So, do you write in a specific place? Time of day? 

Usually, I am busy with promotions and author everything in the morning, after which I start my writing. I write, read and edit during this time and when my husband wakes up, we go through and think about what we want to include in our next children’s books. We are in Denver a lot of the time, so road trips include loose outlines for each of those books. We brainstorm together, yet I do the actual writing and illustrating. I write at home 99 percent of the time.


Are there any words you'd like to impart to fellow writers? Any advice?

Yes, I do have advice. Hire the best editor you can afford. Family and friends are nice, but they don’t fix/help your book. English teacher friends are nice, but they can’t do right by your book. It is good to have those people give you insights on your book, but you still need to hire the best editor you can afford. Ask for recommendations and get a sample from those you wish to choose from.

Such a helpful tip!

Thank you so much for stopping by to visit us here today at Writing in the Modern Age. It was wonderful having you!  :)

Readers, here is the blurb for Sammy: Hero at Age Five.

“Kids can get hungry sometimes while on chemo,” says five-year-old Sammy, having a good day despite the malignant tumor invading his brain. Based on true events from the 1980s, Sammy’s story is imagined by his mother and brother as if the young boy might tell it himself. The result is gripping. Told in two parts, Sammy’s account first invites us into the everyday middle-American lives of a mom and her two boys. Sammy is a sweet, good-hearted kid, even as he faces the most difficult challenges in Part 2: “Cancer Arrived.” Here Sammy talks us through hospital trips and procedures, the hardest parts as well as moments of simple joy. It is not always possible to survive such a grim diagnosis, so Sammy and his family must embrace the smaller victories from one day to the next. Finally, our young hero is given one last opportunity to find his own unique path toward triumph. Listen closely as Sammy tells us all what matters most.

Purchase Links:


Universal Reader Link:


Here is an excerpt from the book.

Mom told me that I was born the day before Easter in 1985. I don’t remember myself as a baby or toddler, but in pictures I have seen, I smiled a lot. Mom also told me that I had an older brother named Shane, and that he died while still inside her tummy. I never understood how this could happen, and if I asked Mom, she would
start crying. As I grew up, and got a few months to my age, I
realized that I had a big brother - Gene!

One Christmas Mom bought both of us red Big Wheels, and she put them together by herself, one at a time after we had gone to bed. Then she hid them in the laundry room until Christmas day.

I always looked up to my big brother. He was a year older, and he knew a lot more than I did. We would play chase or ride our red Big Wheels, and we could fight just as easy as we could play. Mom said we were “two peas in a pod,” but I never understood what that meant. Mom took us to the park in town often, and she would pull us in a red wagon all the way there and back.

We had crawdads. They had pincers and it was fun for Brother and me to figure out how to pick them up. Back then, we fished a lot in the Smoky Hill River, trying to catch catfish and white bass each spring.
Summers were hot and humid in Kansas, and some days it was hard to breathe. Mom told me I had exercise-induced asthma, and I never really understood what that meant as, I was just a little boy.

Gene and I were out in the east garage one summer day, and we found a huge bull snake! We went there to ride our Big Wheels around inside and in and out of the garage like we had done in the past. I was three and a half years old at the time. Mom was cooking dinner, and Gene went and told on me! He told her that I had cornered a snake in the garage. Mom ran out and found me riding closer and closer to a coiled, and ready to strike, king-sized bull snake. Our neighbor Slim heard the
ruckus going on and he came over. Once he saw the snake, he took a shovel and killed it. Slim knew that the snake could hurt us, and he knew that Brother or I might have an allergy to it. Slim was a smart man and all of us loved him.

I have lots of memories of Slim. For one, Mom always gave Brother and me a bath together as we were only ages three and four. She never trusted us in the bath by ourselves, and she gave us our baths right before bedtime. She washed our hair and rinsed it with fresh water. When it came time to get out of the bathtub, we were adamant that we would not get out and, as usual, Mom would grab one of us boys and help us dry off. Mom took turns each evening as who she would pluck out of the bathtub! Once dried off, both my brother and I would take
off, and run stark naked through the kitchen and dining rooms, and into the living room. We would run naked around the sofa our father was always sitting on and the stuffed chair that Slim would be sitting in. It was only a matter of time until Mom caught us and made us put on our pajamas.

Slim was in our home three or four evenings a week, sometimes he ate dinner with us, and other times he only had dessert, usually homemade cherry, peach, or apple pie. He was like a grandpa to us boys, and we loved him. He didn’t date, drink alcohol, or go out, as he preferred to be at our house or his families’ homes in town.

Slim grew a huge garden and gave us a lot of corn, onions, watermelons, cantaloupes, and else he grew. He always gave us a lot of fresh produce, and he also gave away fresh produce to other family and friends in our town of about 700 people. He loved to grow his garden each year. Mom planted a garden too, but it was tiny. We always had a lot of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. Sometimes Gene would sneak into the little garden and find a radish. After yanking it out of the ground, he wiped it off and ate it! He did this with those small skinny onions, too. I never told Mom, but I think she knew anyway, as she always seemed to have eyes in the back of her head.

So, what are people saying about this book?


I am a cancer survivor and it always breaks my heart when I read of any person suffering from cancer.
Sammy was just five years old and to go through that sort of suffering in his life must have been painful.
His mom wrote the story from her perspective as she was there with him throughout his illness.
It was well written and should be read by all parents of young children whether they are ill or not.
- Brenchris, Amazon

"The reader accompanies the child through his frequent tests and medical interventions and then faces the ultimate heartache when death arrives. Any mother of a terminally ill child will relate to this story. And, any child with a serious illness will find comfort in Sammy's struggle. This is a heartbreaking book but its message is hope-filled." - Gwendolyn Plano, Amazon


The story is a heart breaker, but one that needs to be told. This is a must-read for any child suffering from cancer. - Fred Fanning, Amazon

"Intense! I haven't been so emotionally moved by a book in a very long time! Also, the writing style is concise and to the point, with very nice descriptions that add to the sense of authenticity of the story." - Jane, Amazon

Inspiring...add this title to your Goodreads bookshelf, readers! 
It sounds like a great read! We'll be sure to check out this Christian family life/juvenile non-fiction book!

Get it now!

Author Bio


Mary L. Schmidt aka S. Jackson is a retired registered nurse; a member of the Catholic Church, and has taught kindergarten Catechism; she has worked in various capacities for The American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, Cub and Boy Scouts, (son, Gene, is an Eagle Scout), and sponsored trips for high school music children. She loves all forms of art but mostly focuses on the visual arts; amateur photography, traditional, and graphic art as her health allows. She loves to spend time with her husband, Michael, and they like reading, playing poker, Jeeping, and travel adventures. They both love spending time with their grandson, Austin, and soon to be born granddaughter, Emma.

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