Sneak Peek: Prelude of Fire

Presenting a first sneak peek from Prelude of Fire, which I’m hoping to release later this year! It will be the first in The Gailean Quartet, a young adult fantasy series where most of the magic is music-based.

Prelude of Fire Sneak Peek:

Ashlai Jardis awoke.

The young teen sat up, blinking in the bright sunlight. The Southern Wood had been plagued overnight by a searing heat uncommon for early autumn, and a sticky sweat still clung to her skin, but at least the thick veil of dust and ash no longer tainted the sky. A cool breeze stirred at last, and she inhaled deeply, relishing the clear air and letting it wrap around her faintly burning lungs like a balm.

At first, she could only sit gulping the cool air, dazed and unsure where she was or what had happened. But then she felt something metallic and warm at her side—her new sword. She reached for it, but no sooner did her flesh touch the hilt than a sharp pain burned her palm, and she snatched back her hand with a cry. As she turned her hand over, a shaft of sunlight illuminated the jagged, triangular shape burned into her flesh. Its original brilliant blaze had been reduced now to a pale glow, and the wound had already begun to scar. Pushing through the pain, she clutched the hilt of her sword once more, but this time, along with the sting, a shrill note like a flute shrieking at an impossible decibel tore through her mind, making her wince and curse beneath her breath—

Everything rushed back to her. The Prism and the princess and the golden-cloaked riders carrying the fury of lightning and fire as they soared upon their giant winged panthers, burning and killing all in their path…

The note faded and then ceased its torturous trilling altogether. Along with the memories the awful sound had invoked, Ashlai’s somber spirit returned. But she didn’t cry. Her tears were long spent. She must focus on fulfilling Princess Lilleana’s command: to find the Sprite Woods and the person there who would help her.

Ashlai caught her reflection in the sword’s smooth, golden surface. Her shoulder-length, fiery red hair was disheveled and streaked with ash, her purple tunic torn and charred with smoke. Wiping her hand across her brow, she wished she had a change of clothes. After everything that had just happened, cleanliness was the least of her concerns, but she wished she could at least slip into something cooler. She already sweated again, and the breeze wouldn’t help for long. Behind her, the sun glared hot and high in the sky. Glancing up, she did a double-take. It was already past noon.

How long have I been asleep?” she muttered, rubbing at her throat which still ached dully from all the smoke and dust.

Since you passed out yesterday,” a young man’s voice answered.

Startled, Ashlai staggered to her feet, grabbed her sword, and spun all about. Her carefully searching gaze could see nothing but the thick trees of the surrounding wood. She hoped the heat didn’t make her delirious; surely the voice had sounded too near and real to be a mere trick of the mind.

Where are you?” she demanded. A sting of anger empowered her, returning strength to her weary body. She clutched the sword hard, already feeling its innate fire merging with the flames filling her body.

Show yourself,” she said, a little more forcefully.

I’m right behind you.”

Ashlai whirled, seeking the stranger in vain. “I still can’t see you.”

The invisible whoever-it-was released an agitated sigh. “Of course you can see me—unless you’re blind. Which you obviously aren’t, since you keep staring right at me—Oh…” He chuckled. “Sorry. I was up pretty late guarding you, so I guess I forgot I’m in my other form. Which I’m totally okay with, after seeing that fire blade. I’m rather susceptible to fire, and you seem sort of in a foul mood, and—you are aware that you’re holding a fire blade—?”

Ashlai swung her sword, and a wide arc of golden-red flame blazed from its tip. Euphoria flitted inside her as she released her pent-up anger and pain at this invisible friend or foe. As he shouted in alarm, Ashlai only half paid attention, spinning to release another ring of fire.

Whoa, whoa, whoa!” he cried.

Ashlai paused, still clutching the blade, and lowered the flames, smirking at the sudden fight in his voice. Breathing hard, she stood poised, ready for another go.

Hey, now,” the voice said, “you nearly burned my arms to cinders!”

Maybe if I could see your arms, that wouldn’t be an issue!” Ashlai glared warningly in the voice’s direction and pointed her sword right at the trees. “Now, listen up. I’m in no mood for these silly games. Show yourself, or I’ll burn more than just your arm—!”

Whoa, watch out—!”

Even as the invisible person shouted this warning, Ashlai spotted something from the corner of her eye, something bright and whizzing straight toward her. She flung herself to the ground just as it zoomed past her head, so close that it ruffled her hair. As it whacked into one of the nearby trees, Ashlai glanced up in alarm—an arrow emitting smoke, a sign of the extinguished flame burning on its tip only moments ago. How easily it could have speared her head, had she moved the wrong way.

Something roughly grabbed Ashlai’s arm, and she yelped—then stared in alarm to see a tree branch closing its small, thin limbs around her arm. The next moment, the branch morphed into a green-skinned hand and arm, and suddenly, a tall, lanky boy stood before her instead of a tree.

Subscribe to Schulze’s FADBooks Review!

After some debate, I’ve decided to try the whole author newsletter thing again, but this time, I’m starting off slow with a quarterly release to see how things go. With my busy work schedule and such, quarterly option might work best for me. The newsletter will include info on my upcoming publications, writing advice, info on my quarterly give-aways, and more! I’d also like to create a section where folks can ask me questions and I can get to know my readers more.

To sign up, just click my Subscribe tab above, or just click this here link: http://eepurl.com/b-hGDb

The first issue will be released this December!

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.

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

FADBooks Bookstore Officially Open!!

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My FADBooks store on Etsy is finally, officially open!

I will be selling both regular and autographed copies of my books. Autographed copies have the option to be personalized, so if you’re wanting to give a book to a child, friend, family member, lover, whoever, just let me know when making the purchase and I will add a personalized autograph for that person! Shipping is FREE in the U.S.

Also, 25% of all profits will go to ALFA, a charity helping adults with autism and other developmental disabilities living in Southern Illinois live more full and abundant lives!

The store can be found here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/fadbooks

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

~ Christine E. Schulze

Author Meets Illustrator

Wow, so long time no see, my dear readers!!

During this several-month interlude, much has been in the works. I am cranking out a new Zelda fanfic for my eager fandom, finally completing my first series for re-publication, The Gailean Quartet, came out with a new kids’ book, The Puzzle of the Two-Headed Dragon, and have been looking into new marketing ideas–including the awesome book-signing I had yesterday, which I am fixin’ to tell y’all about.

straw5This was my second year doing a signing at the Trinity Farmstead and Garden’s Strawberry Festival. I actually work at Trinity, located in Mascoutah, IL, which means I have basically the coolest day job ever. I mean, if you’re forced to be a starving artist, may as well have an awesome day job in the meanwhile, right? I work with folks with autism and developmental disabilities. They are some of the coolest, most loving and fun people you will ever meet. I get to help them with art projects, music, cooking, gardening, and learning life skills that will help them become more independent.

straw1.jpgThe Festival itself was a huge hit. The weather was perfectly beautiful, and it was overall a great time with great people, great food, great bluegrass music, and lots of selling of strawberries and the clients’ amazing artwork. straw2.jpg

 

And of course, there was the book-signing itself. Twenty-five percent of my sales always goes to ALFA (Abundant Living for All), which is the local charity that provides funds and volunteers for the many programs our folks are involved in. I was able to sell a lot of books, making a nice profit for not just myself but for ALFA as well, which always makes me happy. Every little bit helps our folks, and one of my goals as an author is to help raise awareness for all the wonderful work going on at Trinity.

My favorite thing about signings is always the people. I had two other local authors come up to my table, one of whom expressed interest in the possibility of starting a local authors’ group. I love meeting new people and talking to them. I love it when the kids come up to my table and touch the books and look through them and know exactly which one they want.  I love the power God has given me to connect with and inspire so many wonderful folks simply through the written word.

straw9One of the biggest highlights of the day came when my illustrator for The Puzzle of the Two-Headed Dragon, the very talented and lovely Karen Swartz, showed up along with her boyfriend and family, including some of his family visiting from New York. It was the coolest thing getting to meet all of them, they were the most gracious and sweet family! Karen has been such a pleasure to work with, and we look forward to doing another project together. Who knows? Perhaps together we will just keep making cool things and ultimately take the publishing world by storm. Watch out, readers! ‘Cause here we come.

Overall, God blessed me and everyone at the Farm with a truly beautiful and successful day. I even got to hold a baby bird. And go bowling afterward. Can’t go wrong with bowling.

Well, I’m off to the grind. Next stop is finishing this darned Zelda book before my fans have a conniption.  Then, it’s time to start planning some real marketing tactics. And after that, who knows? I might just be off to tour the world before you know it.