Author Archives: Jo Ann Schneider

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Who put Fixer-Upper in as a genre???

“Mommie, is the camera on?” Chloe asked.

“Yes, honey.” Her mother didn’t even turn around. Instead she held her phone on her shoulder sort-of pointed at Chloe. Sometimes adults didn’t listen to directions very well.

“Mommie, you’re supposed to watch.”

Chloe’s mom let out a huff and turned part way around. It was hard to tell if she was doing her best, because daddy said she had to stay in her seat belt just like Chloe. “I’m watching, baby.”

Her dad chuckled.

“We’re recording it so daddy can watch it later, right?” Her mom suddenly smiled.

Chloe hugged Octo tight. “Yup.”

Her dad muttered something, and her mom laughed. “Okay, baby, it’s time.”

Chloe shook her hair, like she saw people do on YouTube, and wiggled her shoulders. She looked right into the camera, just like her dad did. “Hi, everyone, and welcome to today’s episode of Toy Crib Overhaul.” Her dad had helped her with the name. “I’m your host, Cutest Chloe, and this is Octo, the remodeling Octopus.” She held the orange stuffed animal up for the camera.

Her mom smiled. Her dad’s shoulders shook as if he were laughing.

Chloe licked her lips, then pointed to the seat behind her dad. Her mom swiveled the phone. “Today we have the My Little Pony crystal castle.” She made a sweeping motion with her hand. “As you can see, it’s getting a little old, has some damage, and could use something fresh.” She pat the side. “It has good bones, though.”

At this point her mother sniggered, and her dad snorted.

She glared at them both.

Her mom made a circling “go on” gesture with her hand.

“Octo.” Chloe held up the octopus so they were eye to eye. “What do you think?”

Chloe lowered her voice and wigged her head back and forth as she spoke for Octo.

“Well, Chloe, I think you’re right about the bones. But there’s a lot of work to do. It needs new batteries, some of the fashion accessories are missing and the baby’s swing is broken. It won’t be easy.”

“Is it ever easy?” Chloe laughed like her dad’s co-host did. “Where do you think we should start?”

Octo’s voice again. “Remember the old fairy house we found at Good Will and fixed up for Tinkerbell?”

“Yeah.” Chloe tried to sound unconvinced.

“I think we should do the same here. Mix two things to make something new.”

“Something new?”

She held Octo closer to the camera. “I think your Peter Pan toys might need a new place to hang out.”

“Like a night club?” Chloe gasped and put a hand on her chest.

“Like a night club.”

Chloe let out a squeal. “What a good idea!”

“I know.”

She put Octo down and motioned for her mom to zoom in on her. “It’s true this is going to take a lot of work, but the My Little Ponies have deserted their castle to live in the giant dollhouse that we renovated three episodes ago. This will be a perfect fit for Peter Pan and his gang.” Chloe rubbed her hands. “We’re going to need to raid the toy closet again, but man, this is going to be great!”

After smiling for what felt like forever, she gave her mom the signal to stop the recording.

Her mom and dad burst out laughing.

“What?” “Chloe asked.

“That was great, honey,” her dad said over her shoulder. “You even left them with a good hook.”

“Thanks.” Chloe beamed. “When can we upload it?”

“I told you, no uploading until the project is complete,” her dad said. “Start planning your next steps.”

Chloe snatched her notebook off the seat and wrote the words “Next Steps” in blue crayon. She was pretty sure she’d spelled it right.

“This might actually keep her occupied the whole trip,” Chloe’s mom said.

“We may have created a monster,” her dad replied.

Monster? Chloe wrote that down. Maybe she’d do a monster project next!


I had a bit of a brain fart when the setting was a road trip, but I feel like I recovered nicely 🙂 This actually made me chuckle!

What do you think? Would she make it on YouTube?

Genre – Fixer-upper Show

Random Object – Octopus

Setting – Road Trip

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Top Ten Superhero Movies

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I kept almost putting these movies into other categories, but I feel that Superhero movies are unique, so I gave them their own category.

Now don’t get all bent out of shape because I put Megamind as well as The Incredibles in with the animated movies. There’s one animated movie on this list. Live with it.

You’ll notice I have a bit of a swing toward Marvel. For the most part they make good movies. Sorry DC, you’ve got to step it up!

Superhero Movies!

10)  Guardians of the Galaxy

I was pleasantly surprised when I liked this movie so much. Sometimes stupid humor like this is insulting, and I get bored. I blame Chris Pratt for pulling off his rendition of Starlord so well. Plus, the dialogue and writing are actually really good.

9) The Mask

Not sure how many people would even consider this a super hero movie, but I love it. I quote it from time to time, and have the music ready to listen to if I ever need some swinging tunes! It’s silly, but awesome.

8) The Avengers

If you’ve been following my top ten, one of my favorite tropes is a team of characters. I love the dynamics, I love it when they work together and I stress out when they fall apart. This is the first movie where the Avengers really came together.

The writing for Black Widow is amazing! She didn’t have a lot of screen time, but man they packed every second of it with character development. There are a lot of good lines in this one too.

7) Wonder Woman

If not for the weak bad-guy/ending, this would have been rated higher. I really, really enjoyed this movie, but it fell flat in the end.

6) Infinity War

Look, more people on the team! Despite the horrific ending (which I had been expecting) this movie is awesome! All of my favorite characters in one film? For several hours? Yes, please.

Although I’m still very disappointing that Dr. Strange didn’t simply use one of his portal things to chop off Thanos’ hand with the gauntlet on it. He at least should have tried!

5) Thor: Ragnarok

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Thor before this. I mean he’s pretty to look at, and tough as a character, but the writers of this show finally gave him an environment to shine. It’s like he finally grew into the jokes they tried to tell in the first movie.

4) X2: X-Men United

The X-Men were my favorite super heroes growing up. The first movie of this franchise was good, but the second one was great! Good conflict, good use of most characters and no one was overly stupid.

Watch the third movie if you want overly stupid.

3) Batman Begins

Sure, I saw all of the 90s Batman movies. I even liked the first one.  Also, I’m a big fan of Batman: The Animated Series. However, Batman Begins really drew me into the world of Gotham and just how twisted the whole place is. And let’s not lie, Christian Bale does a great job as the caped crusader.

2) Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse

Yes, I know this one is animated, but it was more of a homage to a comic book style than traditional animation. I’m not sure I can say anything bad about this movie. The plot is solid and compelling, the characters both familiar and new, the music was great, and the animation style blew me away! Miles is my new Spiderman! (Sorry, Peter)

1) Captain America: Winter Soldier

Captain America quickly became my favorite Avenger. He’s all about doing the right thing, he never puts himself first and he always finishes a mission. But throw his tortured best friend in there and it only gets better. This movie felt big in scope, but small because of the conflict in Cap.

Let’s not forget the elevator scene. And the callback to it in Endgame!

I’m totally watching the elevator scene right now.

Honorable Mentions:

The Dark Knight

Many argue that this is the best superhero movie of all time. It’s too dark for me to watch more than once or twice, but I have to say, it rocked my world


Not much of an action show, but so intriguing! I guessed the end before it hit, but still enjoyed it.

Iron Man

This is the film that really launched the MCU into mainstream. It’s funny. It’s action-packed. It led the way!

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Finally, I got to write a horror!

Although, maybe I should have gone with my circus idea…

“They say little kids used to play in this park.” Flickering light from the fire pit they’d made in the sand cast ghostly shadows on Luke’s face as he talked. “People used to come here from all around to have fun.” Luke paused. “Until that night.”

Marci let out a squeal and jumped. Her date laughed. Marci slapped him. “Cut it out!”

“Just messing with you.”

Luke gave them a dark stare.

“Sorry.” Marci settled back down, moving closer to her date.

“You need me to put my arm around you?” my date, Jack, asked.

I sent him a withering glare. “You do and I’ll toss you in the fire.” He’d told me we were going to the park to play little kid games. What he’d failed to add was that they boys were bringing us here, to the old Rocket Park.

Jack chuckled and scooted closer to me. I wanted to move away, but didn’t. In truth, the old park with its rusted play toys that moaned in the wind and the knowledge that a bunch of kids had died here was freaking me out a little bit. So was the fact that we’d get arrested if the police found us.

Luke leaned forward and spoke in a low voice. “The neighborhood was having a party. Everyone came. The adults gathered under the bowery, and the kids played in the rocket.”

I glanced at what was left of the bowery. The roof had collapsed a few years before, and only a table or two had escaped the wrath of the elements. Like the swings, the merry-go-round, the skeletal rocket and the monkey bars, they had all succumbed to rust and ruin.

“No one noticed the sky getting dark. Little by little. No one noticed the shifting in the nearby trees, or the air as it cooled.”

A breeze licked the skin of my arms. A shiver ran up my spine. I couldn’t see much but black past the light of the fire, but it felt like something was watching us.

So help me, if Luke had some of his other buddies out there ready to scare us I would catch them and kick them until I felt better.

“By the time they knew something was wrong, it was too late.”

Jack scooted closer to me, and I could have sworn that despite the fire, the air chilled around us.

Marci let out a little whine. “Don’t tell us any more, Luke.”

Another guy joined her. “Yeah, man, let’s just roast marshmallows and get out of here.”

“Forget marshmallows, let’s just go.”

I took a breath. At least I wasn’t the only one feeling weird about being here.

Luke leaned over the fire until the light flickered on his face and make him look like something out of a horror movie. “You can’t start the story and not finish it. You guys know that. If you leave without getting to the end, the kids will follow you home and haunt you forever.”

Jack snorted—or tried too. It came out more like a surprised cough. “But we don’t believe in ghosts, right?”

That was one of those things our parents told us that we were supposed to simply take their word for it. Like so many other things.

“Do you want to chance it?” Luke asked.

Jack was shaking beside me. “Yeah, I do.”

I sighed and took his hand. We’d only been on a few dates, but I kind of liked the guy. I certainly didn’t want him to bolt and leave me with these idiots. “Come on, let him finish his silly story and then we can go.”

Jack’s eyes went wide, and he stared at me.

Marci giggled.

Jack didn’t look convinced, but he squeezed my hand and mostly stopped shaking.

Luke glanced around again before speaking in his low voice. “Something came up out of the ground that day. Something horrible. It burst out of the sand and grabbed the nearest kids. Each one got sucked into the ground, never to be seen again.”

The wind got stronger, rustling the trees around us. The squeak of rusted metal on metal sounded from the remains of the playground.

Jack’s fingers tightened around mine.

I scooted closer to him.

“The other kids ran, but anyone who didn’t get off of the sand in time, got taken.”

Everyone looked to my right at the remains of the playground. Our fire pit sat twenty feet away from it, but suddenly it didn’t feel like enough space.

“The adults ran to save them, but anyone who set foot on the sand got pulled underneath.” Luke paused. “Some got ripped in half trying to get back out.”

Someone dry heaved.

A leftover chain for the swings clanged against a pole. A strong wind slammed against us, and the fire wavered.

I’m not sure when Jack had put his arm around me, but I didn’t mind.

Luke pointed toward what was left of the rocket. “Anyone who got sand on them died a few days later. None of the kids were ever seen again, and those that survived have all ended up in mental institutions.” He shifted. “It’s said that if you tell the story here, at night, that you will have good fortune. But if you don’t make it to the end, you’re cursed.”

Another blast of wind hit us. Marci yelled. “Is that the end of the story?”

Luke nodded.

“That’s a stupid story,” Jack muttered as he stood.

I stood with him. “Yeah, let’s go.”

Before I could take a step, Jack screamed.

I caught a glimpse of something dark and long as it wrapped itself around Jack’s middle and jerked him away from me. “No!” I reached for him, but missed as he was dragged across the weeds and into the sand pit.

Everyone screamed.

Everyone but Luke, who nodded. “Blood to appease the beast. We are safe.”


I grew up with a rocket park. It’s gone now. Not sure how it ended up in this story, but there you go.

Also, I fudged the setting just a bit.

Genre – Horror

Random Object – Fire Pit

Setting – Merry-Go-Round

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Top Ten Fantasy Movies

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Ah, Fantasy.

I ready fantasy books in my teen years like I eat cookies now. My favorites, even though they aren’t the deepest books ever, are still anything by David Eddings.

As a matter of fact, is see several of his series on my book shelf. Maybe I’ll read one next.

Anyway, fantasy was my jam for a long time.

Fantasy movies are a little harder to come by than fantasy books. Below are my top ten. My #1 pick can never be ousted. I love it too much.

Fantasy Movies!


10) Spirited Away

I saw this near the time I fell in love with Anime. Spirited Away is my favorite of the Mayazaki films, but this represents most of them. My second favorite is Howl’s Moving Castle, but the movie let me down a bit, at least compared to the book.

9) The Dark Crystal

Back in the day this movie scared me. Not enough to not watch it, but enough that it still sends a shiver up my spine when I see a scene from it. Still, it’s a classic. I’m looking forward to the Netflix series.

8) Labryinth

I never would have seen this movie on my own, but a couple (okay most) of my friends loved it and got me hooked. It captures the bizarre nature of the 80’s perfectly.

7) Hook

This show is near and dear to my heart. First, Robin Williams. Second, never growing up. I was terrified of having to turn into an adult, so this movie was a bit of a relief for me. Adulting isn’t so bad. I can watch whatever I want and act like a dumb kid if I want!

6) Ladyhawke

What isn’t there to love about this movie? Beautiful scenery, great characters, humor, action, awesome music and a tragic love story. Mostly it’s the humor that gets me.

5)The Princess Bride

I saw this one first as a teenager, and I instantly loved it. One reason is the clever dialog. The witty banter. And anyone who’s seen the film has said, “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die.”

4) The Wizard of Oz

I remember watching this one on TV. Before VCR tapes. Like, we had to wait a whole year to watch it, because they only played it in the spring. Or fall. I can’t remember. Just once a year. Back in the day when the family gathered around the TV to watch and no one complained about commercials. It was then, and still is now, magical!

3) Harry Potter

This one encompasses all of the Harry Potter Movies. My favorite is The Prisoner of Azkaban, but they’re all good! It was incredibly fun watching the actors grow up before our eyes and see some of my favorite books come alive on the big screen.

2) The Lord of the Rings

Again, this one encompasses all three movies. No, not the Hobbit. Those didn’t make the list. The hubby and I just rewatched all three extended editions, and I was reminded how much I love them. The movies are a labor of love, and you can tell. Kudos to Peter Jackson for bringing the books to life in such an amazing way!

1) Willow

I. Love. This. Movie. So. Much!

It’s funny. It’s action packed. There are great characters. I cared what happened. They defeat the bad witch with a parlor trick (sort of). And let’s not forget a young Val Kilmer.  I probably quote this movie a few times a week. As a matter of fact, I’ve been meaning to watch it again…

Ten Favorite Quotes:

“Wanna Breed?”

“Tempting, but no.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Peck! Peck, peck peck peck peck!”

“Ignore the bird, follow the river!”

“I was expecting something a little more grand. Less…fuzzy.”

“She’s the future empress of Tir Asleen, and the last thing she’s going to want is a hairy chest!”

“I stole the baby!”

“I dwell in darkness without you and it went away?”

“You are drunk.”

“Mumbo, jumbo, I am hungry. Go find me some eggs or something.”

Honorable Mentions:


This one is good. But weird. But good. Who doesn’t want to see Tim Curry basically play the devil?

The Beastmaster

Don’t judge me. I know it’s horrible, but I loved this one as a kid.

The Neverending Story

Except the part with the wolf. That wolf gave me nightmares.

What did I miss?

What are your favorite fantasy movies?

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