Book Review: Puzzle of the Two-Headed Dragon

dragon_frontHullo, readers!

I am happy and honored to share the latest review for one of my children’s books, The Puzzle of the Two-Headed Dragon. Below is my favorite snippet from reviewer Aimee Ann:

“The Puzzle of the Two-Headed Dragon is one of the most well-developed children’s stories I have ever come across, and so I am so happy I have discovered this book because books with such a high quality such as this one are rare to come by!”

What high and humbling praise!

Feel free to read the full review here:

https://redheadedbooklover.com/the-puzzle-of-the-two-headed-dragon-christine-e-schulze/

Thanks very much to Ms. Aimee for taking the time to read, so thoroughly enjoy, and review my work.

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

 

Diverse Characters by Diverse Authors

While taking one of my Trinity clients on a trip to ye ol’ library, quite a few of the young adult books in the “New” section caught my eye. Not only was I super excited to see so many books featuring main characters of color, but I was especially excited to see many were actually written by authors of color.

Below are some of the titles that you might wanna check out; I’m personally intrigued to give Shanna Miles’ Willow Born a go.

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.

 

 

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

“Giants” and “The Amazing K” Official Release Dates

giants_book_coverSo, as stated in the previous post, today’s book signing was a major success–especially in regards to “In the Land of Giants” and “The Amazing K,” my two children’s books to feature characters with disabilities.

I am not quite ready to release these books to the masses. But I have set the official publication date!! July 11, 2015. Just a couple short months away!! Less than that, really.

In the meantime, if you would like to order an autographed copy through me, please feel free to shoot me an email: christineeschulze@gmail.com

Thanks so much, and stay tuned for more updates!! I featured a lot of other new and updated books at the signing and will be readying those for official online release as well.

“Giants” Gets Its First Home

Here I am with Holly Midget, proud owner of the first copy of In the Land of Giants. I chose to give her the first copy because she has been such a huge supporter of the project and also is such a wonderful person to work with!! I once worked alongside her as an independent living counselor at Trinity Services; she now works as a job coach to help find jobs for our folks with disabilities.

Holly says this is my greatest work to date as an author, I think it just might be. I have also decided to donate twenty-five percent of all my royalties to ALFA, an charity that helps create programs for folks with disabilities while also providing supplies and volunteers to work with them. I have worked alongside ALFA for some time now; they are a wonderful team with a true passion for helping folks with disabilities live full and abundant lives. I feel strongly in giving to ALFA through my books. I believe fervently in them, their purpose, and the wonderful people they serve.

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Thanks so much again for your support and encouragement, Holly!! I promise more great things to come, especially with the book-signing fast approaching!!