Author Archives: Jo Ann Schneider

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Laurel’s mom hadn’t specified she had to give her little brother an equal share of turns…

“Come on, Laurel, it’s my turn.” Jimmy’s voice whined as he spoke.

“No it’s not.” Laurel held onto the outside of the tire swing, threw her legs out and leaned back so her long, red hair would trail out behind her.

“Yes it is. Mom said you had to give me a turn.”

Mom had said that, but she hadn’t specified that Laurel had to give her annoying little brother an equal share of turns. She figured she had another five minutes before he’d get mad enough to stomp back to the cabin and tattle on her. Five more minutes hanging out over the lake on the swing.

If only Miles were here. He would climb as high as he could in the tree before jumping into the lake. Laurel blushed as she thought about Miles without his shirt on. A year ago she wouldn’t have cared—she and Miles had spent plenty of time in the lake in their childhood—but things had somehow changed. She noticed new aspects about her friend. And he was getting so tall!

“Laaaaaurelllll…” Jimmy wailed.

She sighed and kept thinking about Miles. The tire swing continued to go back and forth, making it feel as if she were weightless and flying.

Then she heard a krlump and a splash. Cold water hit her back, and she sat up and screamed. “Jimmy! Mom said no splashing!” She turned her mean gaze on her little brother.

Jimmy blinked. “I didn’t do anything.”

Laurel eyed him. He was near the shore, standing close enough that he could have tossed a rock into the lake. But he had his hands in front of him. “Don’t you lie to me.” The words always sounded tougher coming from their mom.

“I’m not,” Jimmy said.

“Then why did I get splashed with water?”

He shrugged. “Fish?”

“You did it.” Laurel pumped her legs to swing higher. “Now I get ten more minutes.”

“You do not!” Jimmy balled his hands into fists and stomped the ground.

“Do too.” She closed her eyes and returned to daydreaming about Miles. He’d never had muscles before this year. She liked his muscles.

Another krlump and a splash.

More cold water hit Laurels’ back. She whipped upright and glared at Jimmy. “I told you to stop it.”

Instead of a guilty expression, she found a look of surprise on his face. “I…it wasn’t me.”

She narrowed her eyes. “Liar.”

“I’m not lying!”

“Then what was it?”

He shook his head. “I don’t know.”

Now he was playing with her. “Twenty more minutes. And you can whine to mom all you want, but when she finds out you’ve been throwing rocks at me you’ll be the one in trouble.”

“I didn’t throw anything!” Jimmy shouted.

“Whatever.” Laurel pretended to lean back and close her eyes, but really she kept them open a slit so she could catch her brother in the act. If He would be grounded for sure.

Krlump. Splash.

Laurel had had her eye on Jimmy. He hadn’t moved. She quickly craned her neck to see the water directly beneath her, but only caught a glimpse of concentric rings on the water moving away from her toward the shore.

Instinct caused Laurel to pull her feet up. Well, instinct and the horror show she’d watched with her friends. Anything could be in the water.

“See, it wasn’t me!” Jimmy yelled.

Laurel forced an aloof calm in to her voice. “Well, it has to be someone, now doesn’t it?”

“Or something,” Jimmy said.

“Don’t be stupid.”

“I’m not stupid.”

She could argue with him on that for days and still not convince him.

Still, it had to be something.

Someone, she corrected herself. “Jimmy, you watch the water while I swing again. Tell me what you see.”

He nodded, his eyes still wide.

It took a steadying breath before Laurel could convince herself to lower her legs. She didn’t close her eyes all the way as she started to swing.

Let it be a fish, she chanted in her mind. Just after my shadow.

It took a long time before the sound came again. Laurel was ready. The moment she heard the krlump, she twisted and looked at the water below. She sneered when she saw the outline of a white stone sinking into the lake.

Jimmy still stood on the bank, innocent. But he wasn’t entirely innocent, now was he?

Laurel pumped her legs and lay back again. “You may as well come out, Miles.” She shook her hair back and forth like women did in the movies. Surely it would entice him to her.

A few thumps sounded before a war cry and a huge splash.

Laurel forced herself to stay laying back as a wave of water hit her. She screamed, pretended to lose her grip, and fell into the water right next to where Miles surfaced, his lips pulled into a smile.

It took more effort to swim badly than it did to do it right. She made a few pathetic sounds. Miles was quick to come to her rescue, cutting a line through the water and getting behind her. His arm wrapped around her neck. Her back settled in his chest.

“Sorry,” Miles whispered in her ear. “Didn’t mean to scare you.”

“Liar,” she said. Barely getting the word out around her beating heart.

“Maybe.” His lips touched her ear. She shivered.

“Is it my turn now?” Jimmy whined from shore.

Laurel sighed and relaxed into Miles’ arms. “I missed you.”


My mystery turned into a romance. Well, it was either that or horror 😉

Genre – Mystery

Random Object – Rope Swing

Setting – Lake in the Mountains

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Top Ten Christmas Shows!

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One last Top Ten for the year!

In no particular order, and without explanation, these are my top ten favorite Christmas shows!

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer


The Year Without a Santa Claus


Frosty the Snowman


A Charlie Brown Christmas


How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Arthur Christmas


The Muppet Christmas Carol


The Holiday


The Man Who Invented Christmas


National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Honorable Mention:

(Because it’s more of a Halloween movie to me than Christmas…just my opinion)

The Nightmare Before Christmas

What are some of your favorites?

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Did I just write a normal story?

“Do you really have to do one of your ridiculous videos here?” Mandy asked with that tone in her voice that meant I would be hearing about this for the rest of our trip.

Our son, Cory, saved me. “But Mommmm, it’s soooo cooool”

It amazed me that he could draw out a majority of the words in every sentence that came from his lips.

Mandy let out a little humph and returned her attention to her e-reader.

I shot Cory a smile of thanks, which he returned with a double thumbs up as well as his tongue out of his mouth in devil horns fashion, except his seven-year-old self didn’t know what devil’s horns were.

Ah, to be young again.

The door leading from the hotel into the pool area opened, and several kids piled through with a ragged-looking mother trailing behind.

Mandy gave the family a hostile inspection, then her eyes drifted back to her book.

“Hurry, dad,” Cory said, “before they get loud.”

“Good point, kid,” I said. “You have your goggles?”

Cory dangled the blue goggles from his fingers and grinned.

“Nice.” I cleared my throat, angled my selfie stick and hit the record button. I opened my mouth to speak, but Mandy beat me too it.

“You should record over there. The sun is going to wash you out.”

I scowled. She hadn’t even look up from her book. Which meant she’d been thinking it for the past five minutes and had decided to wait until that very moment to share.

Cory looked back and forth between us. The poor kid had seen enough of us fighting, so I plastered on a smile. “Good call, babe. Thanks.”

“Uh-hu,” she said, still not looking at us.

I jerked my head toward the other end of the pool. “Come on, kid, let’s do this.”

“Yeah!” Cory did a fist pump and jumped into the air.

If only I could bottle a fraction of that energy…

I stopped the recording, grabbed the bottle at my feet, and followed Cory to the other side of the pool.

The other family was still settling in. The kids looked to be straining against invisible harnesses—eyeing the water with longing fit for a lover.

Mandy would freak out of we didn’t get the video today, so I caught up with Cory and stopped. “Ready?”

“Ready.” He held up his goggles again.

I started the video, waited for a few seconds, and smiled at the camera. “Hey everyone, I’ve got a simple life-hack for you today. I’m sure most of you have heard of this new inside windshield cleaner.” I retrieved the bottle and held it in line with the camera. “It comes with the little wiper thing for the windshield of your car, but today I have a different application for it.”

Cory took his cue and moved in beside me, twirling the goggles around his finger.

“Do your kids complain about their goggles getting foggy while they’re swimming?”

“So foggy,” Cory said.

I fought down a laugh. He sounded just like his mother.

“Well, this product, and those like it, will keep that from happening.” Cody held out the goggles and I sprayed into them. I then used my finger to make sure all of the surfaces got covered. “It’s as easy as that.”

Cory nodded. “We did this to my last pair of goggles, and it was awesome. I can see all the time under the water!”

I laughed. “Alright, get going.”

Cory somehow managed to flourish his goggles as he put them on, then I filmed him as he ran to the side of the pool and jumped in.

The other kids joined him a second later.

I stopped filming. Perfect timing.

The ragged mom gave me a wan smile.

I returned it.

Then Mandy’s voice carried over the yelling of the kids. “Dan, will you get me a towel?”

I sighed. “Coming.”


This is the first and only thing that came to mind.

I didn’t even kill anyone today. 😉

Genre – Cooking /  Crafting Show (I did DIY)

Random Object – Inside Windshield Cleaner

Setting – Hotel Swimming Pool

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Klaus Movie Review

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A simple act of kindness always sparks another, even in a frozen, faraway place. When Smeerensburg’s new postman, Jesper, befriends toymaker Klaus, their gifts melt an age-old feud and deliver a sleigh full of holiday traditions.


Why did I watch this movie again?

Okay, so it’s a movie on Netflix, not in the theater. So sue me. I actually watched it because a couple of friends recommended it. I was expecting a cute holiday movie. Which is what I got. Mostly.

4 of 5



This might be the weak point in the film. While both Jesper and Klaus had character arcs, they were all but hidden away behind the beautiful animation and the clever inclusion of the origins of so many of our modern Santa Claus traditions.

Each of their arcs were by the numbers, but almost painfully so. I would have loved a little more here.

4 of 5


Did I care what happened?

Once I figured out this was more like The Nightmare Before Christmas rather than The Santa Clause, then I couldn’t keep my eyes off the screen.

4 of 5


Plot Holes

There were a few, but since it’s a kids movie, and they don’t generally care about ticky-tacky things, I didn’t bother to remember any specifically.

4 of 5


How many times did I yawn?

Not once.

5 of 5


Cool Factor

Old school, hand animation is kind of dying off, but this film brought it back in all its beauty! The main traits of each character were exaggerated through the animation, which was awesome. The style was mesmerizing. I had to pull a blanket on while watching it, because the town was so cold.

Also, the writers obviously had a great time tying in the origins of a bunch of our Santa Claus mythos. I laughed out loud when Jasper, on the fly, told the kids that they had to be nice in order to get presents. It was hilarious.

The humor was great too. Maybe a little dark for younger or more sensitive kids, but if they can handle The Nightmare Before Christmas, then they’ll be fine with this.

5 of 5


The End

Well, I cried, so there’s that.

The twist during the last sequence seemed obvious to me, and I was disappointed that Jesper didn’t catch on. This is where I thought they failed with the character arc. Let the guy get a little smarter as well as compassionate.

Overall it worked, and the kids will love it, but I thought it was a bit see-through.

4 of 5


Overall Enjoyment

The second it finished I wanted to start it again. I’m trying to figure out how to get the hubby to watch it with me, because I think he’ll actually like it. So I guess you could say I enjoyed it. Then again, I’m a sucker for animation. Toss in humor and some clever writing, and I’m gone.

5 of 5


That’s a Brown Belt!



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