Why certainly! That’s why we’re here, isn’t it?
I’ve been making books since I was about four, when I couldn’t yet write but would draw or else cut and glue pictures from magazines and wrapping paper. Mom had this unicorn wrapping paper that was the best for making stories from the My Little Pony universe.
My first acceptance for publication was Golden Healer, Dark Enchantress with Writers-Exchange E-Publishing, but Bloodmaiden was actually released first with Old Line Publishing. But more on that to come below.
Besides writing, my other main passion is children! I have a teaching degree and enjoyed working in the daycare field for a while. I am still considering teaching or even becoming a nanny.
Oh, and another passion is The Legend of Zelda gaming series. I could talk about that All. Day. Long.
Hmm, what else.?
I love to sing. I’m in the process of recording a collection of cover songs as well as a few originals. My lovely boyfriend is king at mastering them for me and making me sound amazing.
I also love food! Even though I am allergic to most of it. I can’t eat milk or processed sugar. I know—sounds terrible, doesn’t it? Nah, in truth, my health has soared since no longer eating those things. Just fruits, veggies, meats, and grains for me. Oh, and coconut milk—I love me some coconut milk.
Well, I suppose that’s more than enough rambling about my mundane life. That’s not why you’re here, is it? No; no, it isn’t. Without further ado, allow the author interviewing to commence!
2. Who or what inspires you?
People inspire me more than anything. I don’t think there is a single book or story I’ve written that wasn’t inspired by me making a new friend or having a new teacher or other role model in my life that I said to myself, “Wow, this person means a lot to me. I want to immortalize them by creating a character based upon them.”
When I was younger, this used to mean me creating far-too-perfect idolized versions of people in my books! Now I know better; thanks to Kira Lerner, my awesome editor, I’ve learned a lot about creating real people, people with human flaws and desires and who can learn and grow during their story.
3. Who’s your favorite author?
Favorites include: God (the Bible, people), Michael Ende, Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis, Diana Wynne Jones, Neil Gaiman, Nancy Springer, Stephanie Meyers, CLAMP, Tsugumi Ohba, Alice M. LeGrow, Cornelia Funke, Gaston Leroux, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Lewis Carroll, Madeleine L’Engle, Charles Dickens, Jane Austin, Nicolas Sparks
4. Do you have a favorite time or place to write?
Yes and no. The time can “hit” me at any time. However, if I am working seriously on a book that I am developing an outline for or have developed an outline for, the very best times to write are either first thing in the morning or in the evening. I’ll usually only write for a couple of hours at a time; doing too much can burn me out quickly, and then the writing starts to really suck. I’ve always been one to want to rush through and complete stuff, but I’m really learning to slow down to a more comfortable speed. I’m still fast, but I’ve learned a lot more about the importance of balance and pacing myself as well.
5. Do you have a favorite food or drink while you write?
Nope! I am very particular when it comes to writing and being able to concentrate. I can’t be eating or doing anything else, and certainly cannot listen to music. The only noise allowed in the vicinity is the monotone whirring of my fan. Now, exceptions to food are the fact that sometimes, I cannot write until I’ve eaten; other times, I write best on an empty stomach. It all depends on the day, the mood. Another exception is that I will often chew gum to write; helps to keep me focused, for whatever reason.
Also, gotta have them smoothies full of fruit, coconut, and spinach—brain power!!
6. What do you do to relax?
Well, lemme begin by saying that I don’t usually like to “relax” in the normal sense of the word: I like to be doing something, staying busy from the time I wake till the time I go to bed. Naps especially do not exist in my universe!
If I’m not writing, I like to promote my books, make new online connections, sing, record my latest covers I’ve decided to do, play The Legend of Zelda… I also enjoy hanging out with friends, doing everything with them from sitting and listening to music, doing art, hiking, shopping, or visiting some place new and exciting! Other times, if I really am “relaxing,” I’m likely watching a movie with my sweetheart. We enjoy a variety of genres, especially fantasy, adventure, drama, horror, and lots of Indie films! Two of my latest faves are Byzantium and How I Live Now. Of course, both star Saoirse Ronan, who is both super lovely and an amazing actress!
7. As writers, we all have to deal with writer’s block, what do you do when that happens?
Well, back in the day, when I used to just write whatever and not use an outline (more on that to come), I didn’t really get “writer’s block.” I’d just write what I was inspired to write about and bounce back and forth between stories. If I didn’t feel like one thing, I’d write another.
Now that I do use outlines and have a partner in my amazing editor, Kira Lerner, I can bounce ideas off of her! She is great at getting the creative juices flowing again. Mutual brainstorming is a must for even the worst cases of writers’ block!
Now that we’ve got the easy stuff out of the way, let’s talk about your books.
8. Would you like to share something from you latest project with us?
If it’s all right, I’d like to mention a few projects here. The first is Bloodmaiden: Second Edition. I won’t say too much here as I’m also going to talk about other projects, but I would like to promote it for a moment because it is the second edition, and I want people to understand its importance.
Bloodmaiden was my very first published book, with Old Line Publishing back in 2010. I was inspired to write it while taking a fiction writing course in college. I experimented with using a style different from anything I’d ever used before: first person, present tense. This style is used for the first few chapters and is meant to make the readers feel like they are immersed in the world and are viewing everything from Crislin’s (main character) perspective: the beauty, the horror, everything.
Crislin is not your typical main character; not to say she doesn’t have any personality, because she does, but she’s also meant to be more like Link from the Legend of Zelda games: you experience the story through her, but the secondary characters actually play a bigger part than her in some aspects. Some people love the book because of its uniqueness; others hate it. And what can you do? At the end of the day, not everyone will love each of your books, and sometimes an experiment here and there is a good thing.
Now, all that’s to say that the style of writing found in Bloodmaiden is not my typical style. I usually write in a more “normal” straight-forward style, and thanks to Kira, I’m definitely learning how to create deep, meaningful characters—main characters as well as secondary.
Which brings me to the second book—or series, rather—that I’d like to mention: A Shadow Beyond Time.
Originally The Hero Chronicles, this is one of several self-published series that I’ve pulled from the market until I’ve remastered them with Kira, who has actually become my co-author for the new versions. The old ones were very unprofessional, clearly written when I was in my teens. They lacked depth in character development and plot, and while I did have readers enjoy them, I want to give my readers so much more. I want to give them an adventure on par with something from Tolkien or Rowling. Actually, because of the adventure, political, magic, and “who-done-it?” aspects of the new series, we’re considering A Shadow Beyond Time as this sort of cross-breed between Harry Potter and a teen version of Games of Thrones. Displayed is artwork for the covers of the first two books in the series.
The last project I’d like to mention is my very first illustrated children’s book, The Adventures of William the Brownie. I’ve included a few sketches for the book. I was inspired to write this book because of a student of mine; I used to teach pre-school, and I developed a special bond with a very special little boy. I’m creating the book for his birthday, but there will be a version published for the public as well.
Philip, the illustrator for the book, will also be working with me in the near future to create a manga version of Bloodmaiden. I’m hoping to reach a whole new group of readers by having a manga made after one of my books.
9. What genre is it?
All of my books are fantasy, Christian fantasy—some kind of fantasy! Most are for young adult or middle grade, but I also am in the process of creating two children’s books as well.
10. Of all your characters, who is your favorite?
Wow, what a difficult question—especially as I have so many! Hmm, well, going off books I’ve already mentioned:
For Bloodmaiden, I love Pan and Brydon and the dynamics of their relationship, how fragile it is, but how it also grows and develops over the course of the story.
In A Shadow Beyond Time…wow, what a toughie! There are so many characters, and Kira and I have transformed the series into something really deep and complex. It’s hard to say who my favorite would be, because so many of the relationships go through many changes, twists, and turns. Even the villains are interesting, which is a nice plus!
I also really love Gailea from The Gailean Trio, which is another series I am redoing with Kira and which was originally inspired by a choir teacher I had in college. Gailea goes through a lot in her life; the series deals with heavy topics like death and making the right choices in the face of hardship and life-or-death situations. Gailea is a really strong female character whom I think readers will appreciate and connect with a lot.
11. What authors have had the strongest influence on you as a writer?
Authors like Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, for their classic fantasy writing, as well as quirky, unique fantasy authors like Diana Wynne Jones and Neil Gaiman.
12. Do you use an outline or do you let the story emerge as it goes along?
Ha! This question is hilarious to me, and do allow me to explain. I grew up by using the latter method, just allowing myself to write whatever whenever I was inspired. Now that I’ve “grown up” and had the opportunity to work with Kira, I’ve learned that this is not the best method! It’s okay to jot down a scene or some dialogue when inspired, but you have to be okay with the idea that what you jotted down may or may not fit into the final product, and writing a whole book like this—or series for that matter—is not ideal.
Now, on the one hand, if you’re just writing for enjoyment or for your friends, that might be okay. But if you’re going to be a professional, you have to be willing to constantly learn about and develop your craft. What I’ve learned about not using an outline is that you end up with all sorts of inconsistencies and other problems: lack of proper character development, plot holes, loose ends, etc. While I will admit that I don’t exactly favor outlining, in the long run, it does save time! Because as soon as I have a cohesive outline, I can zoom through doing what I love best: the writing itself.
13. Are you traditionally or self-published?
Mostly self-published, and I have a few works with Indie presses Old Line Publishing and Writers-Exchange.
14. What made you pick that route?
A large part of it has to do with the fact that I always like to be in control of everything! This can be a negative thing, but I’m learning to compromise and listen to ideas from my editors and others. I’m a lot better with that than I used to be!
But what I mean by being in control is that, being self-published and even working with small presses, I have a lot more say in things like designing book covers, editing the book, etc. For example, working with Kira, I almost always take her advice and use her ideas, because she is that awesome. But I’m also not obligated to do everything she suggests; the final choice is always mine.
I also really like being able to for sure publish both print versions and ebook versions, as well as being able to set the lowest prices possible for my readers. My readers deserve as many choices as I can give them.
Another great thing about self-publishing ebooks through a source like Smashwords in particular is that they distribute to major sites like Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Sony. Most of my ebook sales come through Barnes and Noble, and that’s thanks to Smashwords’ distribution.
A final reason for self-publishing is simply the amount of writing I produce. A lot of my books and series are a part of a larger, over-arching collection entitled The Amielian Legacy, which will consist of a total of thirty-three books. I’d like to not only write them but have them all published before I’m, like, fifty, and at the rate I have things currently planned, that is very possible!
All this said, I would like to ultimately have something published by a major publisher, to say I’ve done it and for the publicity and marketing they can offer. That’s the only downfall I see to self-publishing: having the means to market everything yourself. However, getting in with a big press doesn’t necessarily guarantee success either; look at all the books on the shelves in a brick-and-mortar Barnes and Noble store. You know all of those aren’t best sellers like Harry Potter and Twilight. Some will never get picked up and be left in the dust, same as with self-published titles. You simply have to choose the best option for you.
If you do self-publish, be prepared to work hard; the first and most important step is producing a book that is just as professional and marketable as all the books from big publishers, and to do that, having a good editor and lots of support is key!
15. What has been your biggest challenge?
I think one of the biggest challenges for any author right now, especially those like me who’ve chosen the self-published route, is getting your name out there. There are thousands of people self-publishing every day. A lot of those books are awesome and professional, and a lot of others are unedited and quite frankly a mess. It’s hard for readers to sift through and know what’s what.
To market myself, I love hosting give-aways and offering free e-copies of my books in exchange for a review. This doesn’t always increase sales, but it does at least allow me to connect with new readers and start spreading the word. Of course there are also avenues like Facebook and blogging, but to be really successful in those areas, you often have to have the funds to market, take out ads, etc.
One thing that I have found that is helpful is to create some sort of a niche for yourself, or to tap into a niche that is being little explored. As an example, my short story, Dream Catcher, Heart Listener, receives more downloads than any other of my original short stories. I honestly believe this is because of its unique nature: it is fantasy, but it’s about a blind girl and a deaf guy. This isn’t something you see all the time, and when people really started downloading it, that told me there is a need for that market.
Sorry to go off on a tangent, but to continue in this vein, I actually intend to produce a few more books that involve main characters with disabilities, including an illustrated children’s book. In my new day job, I work with adults with disabilities. It’s such a rewarding job, and these people deserve to be heroes in a fantasy adventure novel the same as anyone else!
Getting back to the main point: Sometimes simply writing for a niche is the best way of marketing yourself. If a blind person is looking for an adventure story about a blind person, they will you’re your story, especially if there aren’t loads of books out there like that.
16. What has been your greatest reward?
I love nothing more than when a reader writes a review about how one of my books made them feel, or simply tells how much they enjoyed it! I appreciate each and every reader that has given me a chance thus far!
Going back to Dream Catcher, Heart Listener, one of my first readers was a girl who was blind. She said she really enjoyed the story, that she would share it with others and hoped I would write more. That is what writing is all about for me: sharing and connecting with others through the story and offering whatever small bit of inspiration I can.
17. If you had one professional wish, what would it be?
To be able to share my books with everyone in the entire world who can find some kind of inspiration from them! If I could afford to, I’d order thousands of copies of my own books and just donate them to libraries, schools, churches, charities, etc. If I could, I’d also donate a large part of my sales to charities, especially those revolving around children, whom I have such a passion for! Hey, it’s something to work toward—you never know what the future may hold if you don’t try!
That wasn’t so bad was it? But before we go, do you have any last words of wisdom to offer those reading this?
Do not give up on your dream and/or purpose in life, whatever that is! As a Christian, I do believe that God has a purpose for my books, but you don’t have to belong to a particular faith to find purpose in your art or other type of work and go for the gold. And that’s really what you have to do in this world to be successful and get your name out there—go for the gold! You must have drive, ambition, patience, and a willingness to constantly learn, develop your craft, and continue taking it to the next level.
Never give up! If it’s meant to be and you work hard at it, it will come to pass.
You can find Christine E. Schulze’s books at the following:
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Old Line Publishing:
You can find Christine E. Schulze at the following:
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