Author Archives: Jo Ann Schneider

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Babes in Spyland is Coming!

I’ve been kicking around the idea of rebooting my Babes in Spyland series for a long time. I had the idea to read it and put it up on YouTube at least five years ago, and I’m finally getting around to doing it!

Original Cover

One setback has been that the writing is so old (I wrote the first season of this something like twelve years ago, before I’d actually finished a viable novel) that it needs some serious updating.

Normally, I wouldn’t go back. Authors tell each other to let the old books and bad prose go and simply move forward. While I agree-for the most part-I couldn’t do it with this story.

Why?

Because, there’s a whole lot more to the characters and the world than the original 60 episodes.

Like, a LOT more.

I love the story starting where it does, with Agent “Smith” entering the world of the Super Secret Agency (SSA) so the audience can experience it through a fresh set of eyes. I also adore the silly and ridiculous plot. So I didn’t want to drop it, and I couldn’t republish it as it was.

So I’ve spent many hours revising the writing, giving the story a little more depth than it had, and diving deeper into the characters. I had it edited, had new graphics made, and have started to tinker with recording it.

Here’s the thing, I’ll be reading it. Likely in our basement storage room (it’s strange where you find the best acoustics, and this space is even better than the recording room at the library). I don’t have any professional training, and I don’t have any super professional equipment, but I do love the story, and I know the characters.

I read the original as well, but those files are long gone.

I had to invest in a new cover, because the old one always makes people think it’s a graphic novel, which it’s not.

New Cover!

The process has been a bit slower than I would have liked, but it’s coming along.

Check back here for updates! I’m hoping to have everything ready to go by the end of next month, barring life explosions. (We all know that those things happen.)

Until then, happy reading!

If you want a sample of the old version and the new version, the first few pages of the first episode are in this post!


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Unsung Hero Movie Review

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Based on a remarkable true story, a mum’s faith stands against all odds and inspires her husband and children to hold on to theirs.

Why did I come to this movie again?

I hadn’t even heard of this movie when a couple of my friends suggested that we go to it. I literally bought tickets and then watched the trailer. It looked like it could end up being kind of cheesy, as stories of faith often are, but I went in with an open mind and was pleasantly surprised.

4 of 5

Characters

I loved the characters.

The dad, David, felt very real. The mom, Helen, almost felt too good to be true, but that didn’t go against her character, so it worked.

Seven kids is a lot to juggle. The oldest daughter got the most screentime, and she did a good job.

As I said with David, all of the characters felt real. They had hopes and dreams, went through heartache and despair, and in the end were better because of it.

There were a few moments of overacting, but all in all, excellent characters.

4 of 5

Did I care what happened?

Yes. This wasn’t an action film (my usual choice), but the writer and director kept the tension high, and because I liked this wild and crazy family of nine, I cared what happened.

5 of 5

Plot Holes

My writer brain didn’t point out any plot holes that I remember. Were there jumps in logic? A few, but they were minor, and probably had to do with fitting everything that actually happened into one coherent film.

4 of 5

How many times did I yawn?

None! No one fell asleep. I was riveted. I even cried.

5 of 5

Cool Factor

For me the cool factor in this film isn’t the huge budget that provided killer stunts and cinematography, it’s that the story has so much heart.

This movie is a story about a wealthy Christian family who loses everything, moves to a new country, and starts over. They rely on each other and their faith. Members of their new religious congregation pitch in to help. They have to push back their pride in order to survive.

I’m religious, and often movies like this feel fake and cheesy. This one didn’t. At least not to me. It’s an inspirational story that, if you don’t mind some spirituality in your movies, will leave you feeling uplifted.

5 of 5

The End

Well, considering it’s based on a true story, and you can google the entire family and find out that they’re still living their dreams, the end wasn’t exactly a surprise. However, the writer did a good job showing how much the father had to swallow his pride in order to help his family thrive.

Let’s not forget the glue that held everything together, and that was the mom. She’s the unsung hero.

5 of 5

Overall Enjoyment

I loved this movie, and recommend it to anyone who enjoys—maybe even craves—inspirational films!

5 of 5

Total: 37

That’s a Black Belt!

White Belt: 1-10
Yellow Belt: 11-19
Purple Belt: 20-25
Green Belt: 26-30
Brown Belt: 31-35
Black Belt: 36-40


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The Fall Guy Movie Review

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A down-and-out stuntman must find the missing star of his ex-girlfriend’s blockbuster film.

Why did I come to this movie again?

I hadn’t heard much about this film, just the fact that a few friends said it was fun. All I knew about it was that the main character was a stunt man. I thought he had to go be a spy, but that’s not the case. It’s actually much better than that. The only expectations I had going in is that it would be funny, which it was.

5 of 5

Characters

To be honest, I didn’t expect much in the way of character development. Ryan Gosling’s character makes it through one scene of getting back in the saddle, and Emily Blunt’s character decides not to be horrible after beating the Fall Guy up a bit by making him do a scene where he gets lit on fire over and over. They start out in love, there’s trouble, and in the end they get together. (It’s not that big of a spoiler, I promise.)

But…I seriously enjoyed all of the over-the-top characters and acting. This film embraced the cheese, and the actors did a great job.

4 of 5

Did I care what happened?

Yup. Part of it was the plot and part of it was the spectacle that this film is. I kept wondering what crazy thing they’d come up with next, and I was pleasantly surprised through most of the film.

Granted, they barely gave you time to breathe, which can be exhausting.

4 of 5

Plot Holes

It’s a film about making a film with a smorgasbord of action scenes thrown in literally for fun. Of course there are plot holes! But, frankly, I was so entertained I didn’t care. My writer brain stayed quiet because my fun brain was so distracted.

4 of 5

How many times did I yawn?

None! The hubby stayed away the whole time, which is high praise for a movie, and I didn’t ever get bored.

4 of 5

Cool Factor

Obviously, the stunts in this film were awesome. It’s always fun to see what happens behind the scenes of a movie, and this show provided that. I found myself glued to the screen both for the plot and watching how they did things.

Part of the cool factor of this story is simply that it’s fun. Yes, it’s totally by the beats (with my writing brain actually catching them saying that the bad guys were closing in, which is actually a section of a script) but it didn’t matter, because I was there for the ride and that’s what I got.

I also love that they brought attention to the stunt people (artists?) of the film and television industries. It’s an amazing career filled by people who rarely get to be in the limelight. So kudos to all of the stunt people out there, you’re awesome!

5 of 5

The End

Was it predictable? Yes. Did I love it anyway? Yes. The biggest character arc is the Fall Guy admitting to the love of his life that he was sorry that he’d been weak and pushed her away. It was kind of sweet, and timed hilariously.

The stunts at the end were gold. Way over the top, but what else were they supposed to do? I came away from this one grinning and I’ll likely see it again.

I need to give a shout out to the credits where they showed a bunch of the actual stunt people doing the action scenes in the film. I loved that.

5 of 5

Overall Enjoyment

I seriously haven’t watched a film that was simply fun in a while. The silly vibe and great action reminded me of The Lost City, but maybe a little bit better.

Basically, I was pleasantly surprised by this movie, and I’m super happy about it. A great way to spend a Monday night after a busy weekend.

Is this a life-changing film? No. Does it address issues of our day in ways that made me think about the world in a different way? No. Did I love it anyway? Yes!

Sometimes just being entertained is exactly what you need.

5 of 5

Total: 36

That’s a Black Belt!

White Belt: 1-10
Yellow Belt: 11-19
Purple Belt: 20-25
Green Belt: 26-30
Brown Belt: 31-35
Black Belt: 36-40


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Books I Read in April

We did some traveling this month, which means I got to listen to or read books on the plane!
When I wasn’t watching movies, that is. What can I say, I’m a sucker for The Fifth Element.

I read five books this month!

My goal is to read fifty books this year. I believe this puts me at seventeen. Only thirty-three to go!

Sci-Fi
This one had very interesting world-building, a mystery, and some fun characters. The title is both misleading and spot on.
YA Sci-Fi
The hubby and I enjoyed the first three books in this series and listened to this one on our road trip. Fun read. Really liked the additional depth to the side characters. Now I REALLY want a doom slug.
Midlife Urban Fantasy
I’ve been considering writing in this genre, so I thought I’d try this book out. I enjoyed it enough to listen on the plane and even laughed out loud a few times. A 40 year old divorcee basically inherits a magical house that she has to take control of. Great cast of characters. If you’re a woman over 40 this will probably crack you up!

Military Sci-Fi
Short and punchy, this one deals with the fleet rejects and how they play a part in saving the empire. Easy, quick ready.
Midlife Urban Fantasy
More about the main character adjusting to the world of magic, her inner gargoyle, assembling a team, and trying to date. I liked the first one better, but this had some fun moments.
There is some steam in this one, in case that’s a deciding factor for you.

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