Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Vist to Murray Centennial

Yesterday I had a great visit to Ms. Armstrong's Grade 6 class at Murray Centennial P.S. in Trenton. What a nice, quiet, well-behaved and well-informed class that was! They had excellent questions about Leaving Fletchville; questions it challenged me to answer... I thought some more about them when I got home and, as usual, found I could answer the question better now that I thought about it some more. The best question was; "How do you decide what to write about?" At the core of every book is a basic story which means a lot to the writer. This is what the writer really wants to say. It is a framework, like the skeleton in a body. All the rest of the book,the characters, events, places and descriptions, are the muscles, organs, systems and connective tissue that complete the body and make it seem real. In Leaving Fletchville the 'skeleton' is the story of Leon and his family. That is why I wrote the book; to tell a story of brave and responsible kids like them, who accept responsibility for others. The rest of the story, like Brandon, the school, the fights, Fletchville assignments and all the other stuff are the body parts which make the body seem real. I was honoured to be asked back to Murray Centennial. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Another Novel I'm Working on...

Years ago I worked in a nickel mine and I thought the dark, damp, cold, (sometimes very warm) drafty and creepy atmosphere would be excellent for a murder-mystery story. I've been trying to write that story ever since. I started working on it (again) in October and I'm hoping I get it right this time... Adrian (Boots) Boutet is a hockey star. One day Adrian's father goes to work in the mine, by himself, and doesn't come back to surface at the end of the shift. There is a search but no sign is found of the miner. Adrian decides, based on a recurring dream, that he must search for his father in the mine. His on-again off-again girlfriend, Kayla, insists on going with him. Together they enter the mine during the 'graveyard shift' and they get separated when... (Oh, I'd better not give too much away!) Anyway, if I get it written in another few months, and if it gets accepted by a publisher, it may be published in a year or two... so there are a lot of 'ifs' involved.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hello Stockdale!


It was great to be back with old friends at Stockdale P.S. Thanks to all the kids who were such a great audience. I will continue to work on those two stories I read to you, plus I may work on Chris Time Boy (if I have the time!)

Booking School Visits

I am available for school or library visits. As a nominee for the Red Maple awards I am listed on the forest of Reading website. (They have a nice bio there as well)

I can be booked through the Author's Booking Service Website (click on presenters and then on 2010 Tree Nominees) or paste this link;

Or you can email 'Mister S' at

Monday, November 16, 2009

Older Books; Disaster! (1999, 2000)

The second book in the Canadian Disaster series was Disaster! which came out first in 1999, with a reprint in 2000. We wanted to write about the many tragic events that had happened since 1985, including the Air India crash, by terrorist bomb, which killed hundreds of Canadian citizens. Also added was the Swissair crash of Flight 111, the Ice Storm of the Century, two serious floods, a tragic bus crash and the Westray Mine Explosion, a shameful and preventable tragedy which caused the deaths of 26 men. (The most recent Canadian Disaster book has these stories as well) This book is still listed on book stores' electronic catalogues but is no longer available, sorry.

Canadian Disasters, First edition, 1985

My first published book was Canadian Disasters, which came out in 1985. It outsold all of Scholstic Canada's non-fiction titles in 1986 (76 000 copies) and was re-printed several times in years after.
For me it was cool to see it in libraries and schools all over Canada. Kids learned about Canada's own forgotten disasters like the Lake Huron Storm of 1913, which destroyed more than 30 large freight ships and sunk eight 'with all hands'. We've never had another storm nearly that bad. We've had a city blow up because of an explosion as big as a nuclear bomb. We've had a huge bridge collapse during construction, twice over, in Quebec City; a bridge which was so poorly designed it should never have been built. Engineers wear a steel ring to remind them of the trouble they can cause if they mess up their math. This is a photo after the first collapse of the bridge.

This photo is of a mountain that slid down onto a small Alberta town and buried half the townsfolk.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Going to Stockdale P.S.

Hello to Mrs. Corbett and all my former students (and those I haven't taught) at Stockdale P.S. I'm looking forward to my visit on Wednesday, November 17th in the afternoon. Stockdale is where many of my former students gave good feedback and editing ideas while Leaving Fletchville and Canadian Disasters (2006) was being written. Also my first-ever school 'book launch' (for Leaving Fletchville) was done in the library, thanks to Mrs. Corbett (I'll post some pictures of that). I am going to do a reading of a story I am working on. I've been trying to get this story right for over five years and I'm getting closer to the end. At first it was boring and too descriptive and only really keen readers would bother with it. I'm hoping that it will have a broader appeal now.

After reading a few pages via the smartboard I will ask a few questions... just like a teacher to give a test!

See you soon. Rene Schmidt.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Leaving Fletchville a Red Maple Nominee

I've just seen that my novel, Leaving Fletchville, has been made a Red Maple Nominee by the Forest of Reading program offered by the O.L.A. (Ontario Librarians Association). Wow!
My friend and librarian Kathryn Corbett at Stockdale P.S. (near Trenton) is a huge fan of the Forest of Reading and she made sure all the kids and staff at Stockdale knew about it. This means more students will hear about it and maybe read it and find out why Brandon and Leon act the way they do... (So why do they act that way?)
And why Leon is trying so hard to keep people from noticing him - to the point of letting Ricky bully him...

Is this Kingsville School like your school?
Join this blog and Post a Reply

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A research Project

I had a great time interviewing Rev Kevin Fast of Cobourg. Rev. Fast was the guy who pulled a C-17 Globemaster jet for 8.8 metres at Trenton Airbase last month. The article is for a newspaper probably nobody in this part of Ontario would ever read, so I'll post it here...

Lutheran Pastor Sets World Record

On September 17th 2009, strongman Rev. Dr. Kevin Fast of Cobourg achieved his ninth Guinness World Record. Outside a hangar at CFB Trenton he pulled a C-17 Globemaster, one of the largest aircraft on the planet, a distance of 8.8 metres.

On hand to witness the pull of 188 694 Kg was an official of Guinness World Records. It took almost 40 seconds of agonizing effort just to begin to move the giant jet and about 30 more brutal seconds to pull it 8.8 metres. “I had to be checked out by a doctor before I did it. They wouldn’t let me attempt it otherwise,” he says.

Since age twelve Kevin Fast has attempted tests of strength, beginning with weightlifting and eventually competitions in the ‘Heavy Events’ at Highland Games. His father and grandfather were also known for feats of strength. Fast loves every new challenge. In 1998 his first Guinness record was for pulling a 16 tonne truck 100 feet. By 2007 his record increased to pulling 63 tonnes of truck.

Rev. Fast, who is 46, admits, “I may soon be too old to do this type of thing.” However, when asked what he would like to try next, he muses, “It would be great to tow a train. I asked the VIA rail people but they refused permission. I’d really like to pull a large freight ship…” The glint in his eye suggests that a few more world records can be expected.

At Highland Games in North America and Europe Fast wears the traditional blue and grey kilt of the clergy and serves as “Pastor to the Masters.” He delivers benedictions, blessings, and an impressive caber toss. “There never has been a Highland Games where I wasn’t asked some question of theology, or asked to pray for a situation or talk to a troubled person,” he says.

“I don’t mention my world records at church. That would be falling into pride. I will answer when people ask me about it, but that’s about it.” However, when he does a presentation with troubled youth, he says, “I usually begin with showing a video of one of my pulls. All of a sudden the room is totally quiet. When I begin my message they’re all listening.”

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A book I'm working on...

I am working on a new book for high-school aged readers. It is about a young guy named Sid who is constantly bullied and insulted at school. It gets so bad he becomes suicidal. As time goes on he finds his ability in music helps him overcome many problems and he becomes famous, but at the same time suffers really bad abuse which he can't admit to anyone.
After becoming one of the Top Ten singers in an IDOL contest, he is involved in an apparent murder. I can't give away any more than that. It is a 'work in progress' and not finished yet.
Hopefully someone will publish it...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Canadian Disasters, third edition, 2006

Canadian Disasters by Scholastic has been in print, in three different versions, for 24 years and I would like to thank all those who helped with writing and editing over the years. This is what the latest edition looks like now --->

This version was published in 2006 and can be ordered from most book-stores.

As usual, I asked students to help me read and edit the stories to find the boring parts. (Their names are listed in the acknowlegements section.)
I'm grateful for their great input.

Now that I have retired from teaching I have more time to write... but I miss the students!

Leaving Fletchville is my first published fiction novel. It came out in 2008. It was nominated for the Red Maple awards by the Ontario Library Association and though it wasn't first, it was one of the top three.
Years ago my mother read me a news story of a girl who secretly moved her brothers and sister away from alcoholic parents and how she worked and provided for them, sent them to school and kept them clean and healthy while she worked. She was only fifteen. The story fascinated me and I thought often about kids who are as responsible as adults every day of their young lives. It happens all around us. I also decided this family needed a male in the care-giver role model because most men are responsible and make excellent parents, despite all the stupid and inept men we see in the media these days...

I had fun writing it. The setting of the town is Brighton, with a few parts of Toronto thrown in, and various schools I taught in. The characters are mostly mixes of people I have taught or worked with over the years.