Updates Regarding Book and Art Give-aways

I’m going to be changing my monthly give-aways on Instagram and Facebook to quarterly give-aways. The reason for doing so is several-fold:

1. To be able to focus more of my time and resources into creating more quality books and connect with more readers.

2. To create better-quality give-aways; I think it’s better to host four bigger give-aways a year that folks really get into, than to do one every month because I feel like I *have* to.

3. To be able to focus more on digital give-aways; I LOVE print give-aways, but digital will allow me to budget better and reach more new readers.

The give-aways will run each March, June, September, and December.

These give-aways will still run @christinee.schulze and @fadbooks on Instagram, as well as on my Facebook page, Christine E. Schulze. I will also start hosting them here on my blog.

Thanks so much, dear readers!!

Doing Diversity With Respect

I’d like to take a moment to clarify that while including diversity in my books has always been important to me since I was a child, it has never been with a selfish or disrespectful intent; rather, quite the opposite. I don’t do what I do to make money or because it’s what’s “in.” My stories are all about inclusion and acceptance and equality, because I believe people from all walks of life should see themselves represented in fantasy and to go on grand adventures.

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That being said, as a white woman, I would never presume to know what it’s like to be African American, Native American, Hispanic, Asian, or any other race or ethnicity. That’s where the beauty of fantasy comes in, to help me fulfill my purpose and inspiration in a respectful manner. I can create my own fantasy races who physically represent real races and ethnicities, but since my races are fictional, I also create my own histories and cultures for them. In this way, I aim not to disrespect any real cultures or undermine the importance of African Americans writing African American protagonists or Asians writing Asian protagonists, etc. I’m still able to include diversity which is important to me on a personal and moral level. African Americans can experience characters who look like them through the Carmennans or Water-skipper Elves, two of my dark-skinned races with similar features. Hispanics can see themselves represented in the Spaniños, who likewise have Hispanic features. But since these races are of my own creation, I’m also not presuming to understand what it’s like to grow up as an African American or Hispanic or be in their shoes. I’m constantly interested in educating myself, but I acknowledge that I can still never “be” them.

This past weekend, I attended a craft fair where I had a table signing and selling my books. A lady came up to me and said, “I teach a twelve-year-old girl who doesn’t have the best self-esteem on her looks. I’d like something that helps show her how pretty she is. She’s Hispanic. Do you have anything?” I was pleased to show this lady The Crystal Rings and explain that in the first story, there is a princess who goes on an adventure, and while all of my races are made up, her race and look is inspired by Hispanics. I wouldn’t have felt comfortable directly calling my character Hispanic, because my character really isn’t Hispanic. But it felt great knowing that perhaps I had created a story and characters that could help someone see the beauty of their own ethnicity. I really hope that girl finds at least some inspiration and encouragement from reading my book.

cover3I’ve since also become more passionate about including characters who have disabilities; I’ve been inspired to do so by my day job at Trinity Services in Mascoutah, IL; there, I help folks with autism and other disabilities live more independent lives. I would never presume to understand what it’s like to be blind or deaf or autistic or in a wheelchair. But I do believe it’s important to include these characters in fantasy to show others how they are just as capable as anyone; if they can go on grand adventures, they can do anything in the real world. But I would still not seek to take away from their power; they should be empowered to do their own writing and creating and tell their own stories.

Page0I hope this helps my readers understand who I am as an author and what my purpose is: to represent people of all backgrounds and include characters that many different people can relate to, without causing any offense or disrespect. I absolutely think that other races and cultures should be the most prominent voices when writing about their own cultures and races. In the meanwhile, I can embrace and support acceptance and equality for all through the creation of my fantasy worlds.

 

 

To the Castle!!

hever4Greetings, readers, friends, fans, and fellow adventurers!

For those who are unaware, I just returned from a two-week trip to England. It was my first trip overseas, first time in a plane, first time seeing the ocean or riding a boat or doing a lot of things! I’ll be thrilled to tell you all about fun highlights like punting, my layover at the Iceland airport, London’s awesome zoo with its close-up animal encounters…but for today, I’d like to start with my favorite: the Hever Castle and Gardens.

One of my main goals for visiting England was that I had to see a castle. Just one castle, and I’d be satisfied. Boy, am I glad that THIS is the castle I chose. Pretty sure when y’all help me become a rich and famous author that Imma buy it and move in. I’ll be like Enya; she’s an artist who lives in a castle too.

Anyhoozles. So, I had taken myself a lot of places on the train up till then, but Hever was a new experience. I get off the train, and there are literally no humans. At first, I’m thinking, “Well, this is sketch lol.” But I quickly realize it’s not sketch at all; it’s so quiet because I’ve stepped into my first experience of English countryside. Soon as I realize this, I’m STOKED. This is about to be a true adventure.

One great thing about England is there are signs everywhere, so getting lost isn’t a super easy option. I followed the little signs for Hever Castle, and they soon lead me to this lovely footpath through the countryside. It was like playing Zelda, my favorite video game; I had to follow the signs and find the next kissing gate to progress.hever3

My favorite part about this footpath? SHEEP! I’d been wanting to see the black-faced sheep for DAYS. They’re so adorable. They led my way to the castle, and they were still there to lead my way back to the train at the end of the day.

hever5The castle and garden themselves? Phenomenally beautiful, magical, and whimsical. I chose the castle itself because I wanted to see an older castle; it’s also one of the places Anne Boelyn grew up, and I’ve always been interested in that period of history, particularly as it relates to Henry VIII.

hever14One thing I’ll say is that the English definitely know how to garden! I could just live in this garden, never mind the castle, with its sprawling rose garden (roses are my fave, besides lilies), relaxing willows by the lake, and massive, massive trees! I met so many lovely trees in England. They really appreciate nature and are much more environmentally conscious and friendly than we are in the States.

Well, that concludes this chapter of my England adventures. I’ll be posting more, so stay tuned for the next chapter!!

Let the 2018 Book-signings Begin!!

Enjoy these moments from my first two book-signings of the year: Lebanon’s May Market on May 6th, and Trinity’s Strawberry Festival on May 19th! Met a lot of great new readers, saw many friends, even saw one of my old preschool students who starred in The Amazing K, and overall had a blast! Also, sales were great, meaning that I also raised over $100 for ALFA, the local charity I support that helps adults with autism and other disabilities live full and abundant lives here in Southern Illinois. Excited to see what else God has in store for this year!

One Starry Knight: A Book of Healing

Front (2)Originally, I was going to publish One Starry Knight: Special Illustrated Edition on December 30, same as the original; I’d chosen that date because it’s the birthday of my friend who inspired Kaos. But instead, I ended up publishing the book far before that, on April 20, my birthday, instead. It all came together so flawlessly, which is saying a lot, considering I included artwork from thirteen brilliant and diverse artists. They were all perfectly on time, and I was able to publish the book without a hitch. God definitely had His hand in guiding that one.

book16So why the switch to publish so much sooner? Well, something inside me had told me to finish the book before December. It was like God whispered to me, “That will be far too late; you’ll need it before then.” And as usual, God’s leading, combined with the uncanny intuition He’s blessed me, with proved correct. I decided to publish the book on my birthday, instead of the birthday of the man and dear friend who is my real-life Kaos. Only a couple weeks after I showed the book off at a book-signing for the first time, my heart was torn by some news that is still too deep and private for me to talk about. Long story short, we won’t be pursuing any kind of relationship beyond friendship, though I still consider him a dear friend and a good-hearted man; the man who tries to next win my heart will have huge shoes to fill, which isn’t really such a bad thing. Kaos helped raise the bar and helped me define exactly what I want in a life partner.

book17Am I upset that I finished the book and poured so much money, heart, and soul into hiring artists to complete it by my early publication date? No, not at all. As with the real Kaos, I have no regrets. I knew that however things turned out, the book would at least be necessary for my healing. Its completion would allow me to move forward.

Same with the photo shoot featured here. After the May Market Book-signing (featured in another post), my bestie Sarah Jolly and I did an impromptu Evren photo shoot. I mean, I figured we may as well, since I had the dress, the red hair (which would be washed out that night), and considering we were in Lebanon, the place where my love for Kaos was first born. We shot a couple of pictures in the “magic gazebo,” but most photos seen here are at the local park, which I call “The Park of Stars and Fireflies.”

book15The story behind the park: One night after we both got off work at midnight, real-life Kaos took me to that park for the first time. Hundreds and hundreds of fireflies sparkled in the trees like diamonds. Then, just like when Evren lays down in the boat in the book, Kaos had me lay back on the merri-go-round. He spun it round and round, and as the stars swirled above me, they felt almost close enough to touch. Twas the most magical night. I’ve returned to that park many a time to watch the stars, but it’s never felt as magical as on that first night when he was with me.

book10As you can see here, Sarah was quite inspired and took some amazing shots of me as Evren, capturing Evren’s—and my—whimsy, longing, love for simplicity and nature, hopefulness, prayerfulness, and love.

I will always love my Kaos. I have the fondest memories of him, and I learned and grew so much because of him. I continue to write about him, such as this, only because I cannot be with him. Expressing myself is necessary to continue my healing process, be that through writing, music, painting, whatever inspiration comes to me. My love for him is immortalized in One Starry Knight, but like Evren, it is time to lay that mission aside and ascend to the stars to complete my own healing. From there, I must wait to see what new adventure God has for me next.

Meanwhile, dear readers, please enjoy reading our story! It’s a young adult fantasy romance novella, but I personally like to call it “an interracial fairy tale.” I believe that suits our story, both the real one and that portrayed in the book, quite perfectly indeed. My book can be found in paperback on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. Ebook version coming soon!book12

Bye-Bye, FADBooks Review

fadbooks.jpgSome of you may be familiar with my quarterly newsletter, The FADBooks Review. Some of you may even be subscribers. I am writing this post to announce that as of right now, The FADBooks Review will be no more. Between work, writing, and life, I’ve never had time to keep up with it properly, and it simply isn’t a priority right now. Rather than continuing to send painfully late and uninspired newsletters, I’m giving it the ax, at least for now. Who knows? Perchance it will make sense for me to revive it later on down the road.

However, I WILL be keeping my quarterly give-aways, this time by posting them here on my blog. Give-aways will be posted on or around Dec 21st, March 21st, June 21st, and Sep 21st and will run for the full quarter. Readers can just leave a comment on the give-away post to enter to win!

More good stuff coming up: I just published the special illustrated edition of my interracial fairy tale novella, One Starry Knight. I’ll be showing it off tomorrow as I sign books at Lebanon, Illinois’ annual May Market–while cosplaying my character Evren, of course. Stay tuned for pics from the event!

On that note, God bless, happy reading, and may you all be inspired!

~ Christine E. Schulze

Fantastical Hiking

Me and Brother Adam (okay he’s not REALLY my brother, but he’s like one, and also we have this running joke that him, me, and his girlfriend Loryn are this Mormon pirate threesome) went hiking at the Rim Rock Recreational Trail here in Illinois. And I gotta say: how breathtaking! We had fun climbing everything possible, exploring every nook and cranny. The place had so many different kinds of scenery, I was got hints of Lothlorien, the Mines of Moria, Pride Rock, Narnia, even the Land Before Time series. We even climbed the steps of Cirith Ungol and lived to tell the tale. Enjoy these highlights from our adventure!!