Michael J. Schneider
I was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. At the age of 18, I was eligible to be drafted as the Vietnam War was at its peak. I chose instead to enlist in the U.S. Marines. I spent 14 and 1/2 months in Vietnam with the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division. My period of service was from October 3, 1969 to December 13, 1970.
In 1971 I enrolled at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and received a degree in Civil Engineering in May 1976. I worked for the Federal Government as an engineer from June 1976 until January 2008.
I became interested in writing about 1987 and took a correspondence course in writing for children and teenagers. In 2001 I self-published my first book, The Secret of Sangre de Cristo. I wrote this book for the young adult audience. The setting is modern. I thought this book would be popular because it is male-focused in world of female-focused teenage novels. It was originally published in paperback form by a company specializing in “on demand” publishing. I learned from a review by a middle school librarian that the book contained many errors. In 2013 I revised the text to correct the errors and designed a new cover for the book. It is available as an ebook with Amazon.com.
In 2001 I also completed Brendan of Kilrush: This is a historical fiction book targeted at the middle school to high school audience. I self published it in paperback form in 2001. I sold very few copies. Again, I learned from a review by a middle school librarian that the book contained many errors. I never liked the original cover anyway; but couldn’t afford to have it redone. I proof read the book again and corrected the errors. Then I created my own cover. The result is the ebook version now available.
I didn’t have any success with the first two books so I enrolled in another correspondence course which emphasized writing books for children and teenagers. My teacher suggested I write a non-fiction book. The result was Swift, Silent and Deadly: Recon Marines in Vietnam. This is a non-fiction book targeted at the middle school to high school audience. I completed the manuscript in 2004 and have been trying to get it published through a conventional publisher ever since. When I learned that ebooks were becoming popular, I self published it through Amazon.com. Since it was published in May 2011, over a 1000 copies have been sold with no marketing strategy except it being listed on Amazon.com and with other ebook providers through a contract with Bookbaby.
I have experimented with two other genres. The first was a historical romance, Rebecca and the Renegade. I started this book in 2001. I got about halfway through the story and lost interest. In 2011, I decided to finish it. It is only available as an ebook. I self published it at Amazon.com that year. The other book is The Mystery of Skunk Hollow: This book is targeted at the adult audience. I’m not sure how to classify it. There is a mystery the main characters are trying to solve; but the reader is aware of who the criminals are throughout the story. It also has a strong focus on the hero’s relationships with women, so it could be considered a romance. It is only available as an ebook at Amazon.com.
I recently published an ebook about my experiences during my 2 years of active duty with the Marine Corps. It is entitled From OMAHA to DA NANG: Reflections of a 2-Yr Marine. It is only available through Amazon.com.
What inspires you to write?
I’ve always enjoyed a good story whether it be from a book, television or the movies. I think what distinguishes a good television show or a movie from a mediocre one is the script. Special effects and the quality of acting only enhance the story. The story has to be well written to engage the viewers. I know what makes me want to read a certain book or watch a certain television show or movie and I desire to tell those kinds of stories.
I’ve also heard it is hard to get boys to read books. In my first two books: Brendan of Kilrush and The Secret of Sangre de Cristo, I tried to tell the kind of story I thought young adult males would like. Both books have a teenage male hero.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’ve actually used both methods in my writing; however I’m probably more of a seat of the pants writer. As I go along I usually decide where the plot is headed next. I also have a tendency to add characters as I go along. This is usually because the plot requires the additional characters. I know my main characters at the start; but add the others as the story dictates.
In my books: Rebecca and the Renegade and Swift, Silent and Deadly: Recon marines in Vietnam, I did use an outline which I wrote down on paper.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I think observe or eavesdrop on my characters is a more accurate description. Given only the choice between the two; I would say I listen to the characters. I try to make sure the conversation between two characters is believable.
What advice would you give other writers?
I think the best advise to give is to write about what you are interested in. I think this is better advice than the often given advise of write about what you know. “Write what you know,” is good advice; but that doesn’t necessarily mean you must have had prior experience or knowledge of the setting, scenery or technology that you portray in your story. This is particularly true if you are writing science fiction. As long as what you present to the reader is believable, you should be okay. A writer can gain a lot of knowledge about a specific places or objects by research. The Internet is especially valuable in this regard.
John Grisham was a lawyer and his books involve lawyers; but it is hard for me to believe that Tom Clancy didn’t have to do a lot of research for his books.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
The first book I wrote was The Secret of Sangre de Cristo. I finished this around the year 2000. After numerous rejects from publishers and the failure of a literary agent I hired to get the book published, I decided to self-publish it as paperback with a company that provides publish on demand services in 2011. I did the same with Brendan of Kilrush. Without a method of marketing these books, they didn’t sell. With Swift, Silent, and Deadly, I tried both the direct approach to publishers as well as using a literary agent; but couldn’t get either publishers or agents interested in it. I completed the manuscript in 2004. In 2011, I discovered Amazon Kindle and published it as an ebook there. I also contracted with Bookbaby to get it published to fit other electronic reader formats. I’ve sold over a 1,000 copies of this book.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think the availability of electronic readers will have a big impact. I do feel, however, that people would probably favor printed copies of books that have a lot of pictures or graphics.
What do you use?
Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?
Young Adult Fiction and Nonfiction, Historical Romance, Adult Fiction and Memoir.
What formats are your books in?
Link To Michael J. Schneider Page On Amazon