Writing for Effect: A Dialogue with Mary L. Schmidt

Mary L. Schmidt writes under her given name and a pen name, S. Jackson with her freshman book a memoir, and she now has 30 books under her belt ranging from three memoirs to comic books, one recipe book, and a lot of children’s picture books. She chose to discuss three topic from three different books for this conversation.

  1. Childhood cancer is scary, horrific, and all consuming.

After surviving the cruel rage of tyranny from her mother and ex-husband, Sarah Jackson traveled a new path, a journey of loss, heartbreak, and ultimately strength. How do we survive the unthinkable, our child suffering from a terminal illness? They say there is no greater loss than that of a child; I say losing a child is the king of loss. Sometimes the thing that helps us survive it, is knowing we are not alone. Bestselling author, Sarah Jackson, will take you on her journey of hope and strength as she provides an intimate raw look at her life.

“I want to go to Heaven, Mom.” as my son lay in his hospital bed in the presurgical area.
“We don’t always get what we want in life, so you might have to come back to me.” I replied as my heart was breaking.

When Angels Fly

One cannot stop an angel from flying and when a child of age five wants to go to heaven, ask your child why, and what he or she knows of heaven. Don’t fear your child’s death but ask them. They will tell you what they know or have seen. My little boy had already spoken with Jesus.


Marian:
In this excerpt, you speak to the role of faith – both a mother’s and a child’s belief – in surviving the unthinkable. No parent should outlive their child, it is often said. But not all parents nor children will have a belief in a divine being. One of your stated goals is for people going through this life-altering experience to know they are not alone. Does your book speak to those who do not believe in a divine being or an afterlife, and if so, can you explain how?

Mary:

Great question! I can answer this one as my ex-husband is a practicing atheist and for his actions. My arm was wrapped around my son the final moments of his life. My ex wanted medicine for when my son’s heart stopped but no compressions. I wanted nothing done. I knew where my little boy wanted to go, and I knew he was moments away from death as he was in transition.  I had to beg my ex three times to let him go as his heart stopped for the third, and last time. He nodded his head yes. I rocked my dead son, after all tubes and such were removed. I talked to him in heaven. My ex simply watched. Then got up from the rocking chair and motioned for my ex to sit, after which I placed my son in his arms. He held him a few minutes then left the ICU. Essentially, as an atheist, my ex had to deal with his grief and such internally without help from the divine God. That led him to get drunk. But I turned to Jesus, and I was not alone.


2. A book on bullying evoking change in children.

In ‘The Big Cheese Festival’, we meet Stubby Mouse and his family and friends. We learn that Stubby Mouse has a secret, that he is being bullied by another mouse, simply because his tail is short. This story illustrates how everyone is different and unique, and it is a delightful read with adorable and eye-catching, cute illustrations for both children and adults. Take a stand against bullying today! 

“See! I did it! I stood up for myself and Cutter Mouse can’t bully me anymore.” replied Stubby Mouse.

The Big Cheese Festival

Thus, Stubby Mouse’s self-esteem increased, and he no longer allowed himself to be bullied by others.

Marian:

I’m curious to know what it is Stubby did to stand up to Cutter!  I like the choice of a simple thing like a short tail, because children can fixate on the smallest difference. How did you portray the bullying? Who helps Stubby stand up for himself?

Mary:

Stubby Mouse was happy and excited when he woke up on the morning of the Big Cheese Festival. All the mice in his neighborhood looked forward to this big event. There would be dancing and lots of cheese, and they would elect a King and Queen of the Festival. This was Stubby’s first Big Cheese Festival, but when Cutter Mouse came to pick up Stubby’s brother, Zippy, he made fun of Stubby’s short tail. Cutter laughed and said that no girls would want to dance with him. Zippy got angry with his friend for picking on his little brother, but the damage was done. After Zippy and Cutter left, Stubby began to cry. Cindy (a girl mouse) heard him crying inside the house, and she wanted to know what was wrong. She told Stubby that she liked him the way he was, and thought Cutter was an awful bully. They went to the festival together, and Cutter made fun of Stubby and knocked him down onto his short tail. Stubby informed Cutter that he would not be bullied anymore, and he pushed Cutter down on his normal size tail. This impressed all the mice attending as they loved Stubby and his bravery. Stubby became King of The Big Cheese Festival for his bravery.


3. A book regarding shyness in children as related by a turtle who was too shy to come out of his shell.

Tommy Turtle is a shy land turtle who likes to hide inside his shell. Tommy Turtle helps parents and teachers reinforce positive behaviors in an imaginative setting of a park and mud puddles as they learn about land turtles and shyness. Learning and sharing are essential for social development in all children.

“I’m scared to come out, I can’t splash the water puddles like the other turtles.” replied Tommy Turtle.

“I will be at your side, and you can jump when I jump. Okay?” said Jerry Turtle.

Tommy took a deep breath and poked his head out of his shell. He watched the other turtles playing, and finally decided to join in. Tommy made the biggest splash in the puddles, and learned that he could have fun, play, and be accepted by other turtles. Tommy also learned that he didn’t have to talk when he was a little more nervous. It was okay to watch, listen, and learn. It was okay to be shy at times. Tommy had the best afternoon, ever!

Tommy Turtle

Marian:

Is Jerry the same age as Tommy?  Or is he an older mentor?  Why does he take Tommy under his wing?  As you indicate, these are important skills for children to learn, but it is something they can do on their own without adult modelling? 

Mary:

Jerry and Tommy are nearly the same age. Tommy is new to the park this story is set in as some kids change schools, move around, and it’s natural to be shy. Tommy was shy and hid inside his shell because he didn’t know the other turtles. In Jerry’s case, he had been new to the same park the year before. Jerry befriended Tommy and drew him out of his shell. Tommy played and overcame his shyness. In the end, Tommy decided that he would help other new turtles when they arrived in the park, just like Jerry helped him. Children can read this book on their own and model their experiences to the experiences Tommy went through.


Find all books published as Sarah Jackson here and as Mary L. Schmidt here, or connect with Mary at her website www.whenangelsfly.net.

Would you like to be part of this series? Authors published or unpublished are welcome – leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

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