Tuesday, May 30, 2023

📚 Up Close & Personal with 'Larimar: Gem of the Sea' Christine E. Schulze #upcloseandpersonal



Up Close & Personal is one of The Writer’s Life newest features. Here we feature authors who don't mind spilling the beans and telling what it's really like to write, get published and sell that book.  Today's guest is Christine E. Schulze, author of the YA/fantasy, Larimar: Gem of the Sea.

Christine E. Schulze has been living in castles, exploring magical worlds, and creating fantastical adventures and romances since she was too young to even write of such stories. Her collection of young adult and children’s fantasy books, The Amielian Legacy, is comprised of series and stand-alone books that can all be read separately, but also weave together to create a single, amazing fantasy.

One of her main aspirations for The Amielian Legacy is to create fantasy stories with characters that connect with readers from many different backgrounds. Her current focus is to include racially diverse characters and those with disabilities. The latter is inspired by Schulze working with adults with autism and other developmental disabilities at Trinity Services in Southern Illinois.

Schulze draws much of her inspiration from favorite authors like Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Diana Wynne Jones, favorite games like The Legend of Zelda, and especially from the people in her life. Some of her exciting ventures include the publication of her award-winning Bloodmaiden, as well as The Gailean Quartet with Words Matter Publishing. Her books for younger readers include In the Land of Giants and The Amazing Captain K.

Christine currently lives in a cozy Hobbit hole, but you can visit her on her website: http://christineschulze.com.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tiktok

On Writing…

I like to tell folks that I’ve always been a writer, that it’s just in my blood and spirit, a special gift God has given me to share with others. Before I was old enough to write, I would create books with just illustrations, or I would cut out animals and other shapes from wrapping paper and create stories that way. My first written work was called Johnny to the Rescue, which I wrote when I was five as a wedding gift for a family friend. That book would later expand into a series which I rewrote in middle school, and that series would ultimately form the basis for the fantasy world my books take place in today. 

I published my first book, Bloodmaiden, when I was about eighteen (I’ll talk more about that experience below). Since Bloodmaiden, I’ve moved onto publish a couple more series, as well as a few kids’ books, and I definitely feel like I grow each time. I’ve worked with amazing editors who have taught me so much, and I feel like with each story, I get a little better at my craft.

On Being Published…

Introducing my first published book, Bloodmaiden, a young adult fantasy novella involving dragons, sweet romance, and daring escapes from dark rituals. It was published with a small press that has since gone under, but I re-published it myself. The book’s initial publishing was a fun experience. I did a photo shoot with a friend, and the original book cover has me posing as the main character, wearing a blood-red cape. Bloodmaiden has since become part of my stand-alone series, The Amielian Legends, which are all set in the same fantasy universe, but are each about different characters and kingdoms and can be read in any order.

Another of my earlier publishing experiences involved writing a couple of books for a company that publishes personalized books. Meaning, when you order your book, you can insert the names of yourself and a few friends (or significant other) as the main characters. It was a fun experience, but the best part of it was meeting Kira Lerner, who would become my editor and has been now for the past 12+ years. It’s thanks to Kira that I’ve improved my writing so much and can now independently spot even the smallest plot holes and make my writing as tight as possible.

Being mostly self-published, I’ve also worked with a few other great editors as well, to make my books as best they can be. I take the quality of my work quite seriously. Another fun thing has been getting to interview illustrators to find the right cover artists. My most recent venture has been to hire a narrator for the audiobook version of Larimar: Gem of the Sea, one of The Amielian Legends. This is my first audiobook, and what a fun process! Auditioning different narrators, enjoying the auditions with my boyfriend, and ultimately choosing the lovely Jocelyn Duford. Not only does she bring each character to life, but she also has a fantastic singing voice. And, considering that the book contains a couple of little songs that I wrote, hearing her sing in one of the chapters is a real hidden gem (pun intended).

On Publishing Industry…

As mentioned above, I’m largely self-published, though I do currently have one series, The Gailean Quartet, with a small press. I think overall that self-publishing has been a good route for me to take. It’s allowed me to create covers that reflect the spirit of my stories and set as fair of prices for my readers as possible. I still have a lot to learn about marketing and finding my readers, but once I unlock that, I think the sky is the limit. If I can learn to find my readers, I think I have the potential to eventually write full time for a living and continue creating wonderful stories of magic, adventure, and romance for those readers.

Mistakes Along the Way…

I think one of the main mistakes I made when I was younger was simply publishing too hastily and without making sure my books were as professional as possible. I did a lot of self-made covers starting out and didn’t work with an editor. Thankfully, I didn’t have that my books published for too long before I realized the best thing was to unpublish them and take my time really learning my craft and working with Kira to make them the absolute best quality they could be for my future readers. Once such series, The Hero Chronicles, remains unpublished to this day. Kira fell in love with it and has since become a co-author for the new version of the series, which will be renamed A Shadow Beyond Time. I would urge any aspiring authors to take their time and focus on learning as much as they can and work with an editor to produce a quality book. There is also merit in knowing when something is DONE. We don’t learn by rehashing the same material. We learn best by moving on to write the next book. 

A second mistake I would caution against is scams! Scams are abundant for writers these days. Before I published my first book, I received a letter from a publisher wanting to publish a different book of mine, for the low fee of $10,000! I didn’t fall for that (mostly because I was young and didn’t have the money, not because I knew better back then). I’ve since fallen for scams on a lesser scale. The lesson here is to do thorough research before you invest in an editor, cover artist, marketing, anything, and don’t spend money you can’t afford to lose. And if a publisher comes to you wanting to publish your book for a fee, know they are not a traditional publisher. There are legitimate services out there that charge fees for editing, cover design, etc., but many are vanity presses just out to lure in gullible authors and make a quick buck. So, again, do your research.

On Marketing…

Even though I’ve had quite a number of books published over the past few years, I must admit I’m new to the marketing realm. However, this year, I decided I needed to just take a break from writing altogether and do my best to learn marketing. No sense in writing all these books if I don’t know how to find people to read them! With working full time (as a case manager for adults who have autism and other disabilities), I don’t have time to devote to writing my next book and learning how to market at the same time. So, marketing is my focus this year.

Things I have tried so far and seen success with include doing in-person shows. I like to get a vendor table at festivals and conventions. I participate every year at a local May Market. I always find new readers there and even have current fans return to see if I have anything new. Other than that, I’ve been looking into blog tours, speaking on podcasts, and taking some ad classes to try and learn that angle. I also have an author newsletter on my website that includes free stories, excerpts, behind-the-scenes on my various books and characters, and news on upcoming releases. If you’d like to learn more about my books and me as an author, signing up for my newsletter is a great place to start. Feel free to check that out here: https://www.authorchristineschulze.com/newsletter 

On Goals and Dreams…

My personal goal is to be able to write for a living. I’d love to reach a point where I could go down to a couple days at my current job (I love the folks I serve, so I don’t think I’d quit entirely) and really focus on my writing full-time. I have a couple books that I know I still want to write. But if I was able to go full-time, I feel confident I’d be able to develop many more. That said, while it would be lovely to support myself with my writing, the bigger goal is to inspire as many people as I can. To provide hope, a magical escape, or whatever my readers need, to as many of them as possible. For now, that means continuing to study marketing and get myself out there in as many ways as I can. 

To aspiring authors, I would say this: Keep going. If you have a story in you bursting to come out, someone wants or needs to read it, whether it’s meant for one person or millions. Learn all you can before publishing your book on how to reach your readers. If I had known it when I was younger, one of the best things I could have probably done was to build a fanbase before releasing my first book. Instead, here I am doing things backwards. 

Also, break things down into small, obtainable steps, instead of focusing on one giant goal. For example, writing a new book can feel daunting. But if you break it down into daily goals that you know you can achieve, you’ll feel very accomplished and motivated each day when you achieve those goals. 

Finally, I’d say don’t get hung up on needing to be “perfect.” Write your story, work with an editor, make it the best it can be, then release it to the world and move onto your next great masterpiece. 




Title: Larimar: Gem of the Sea
Author: Christine E. Schulze
Publisher: KDP Publishing
Pages: 140
Genre: YA | Fantasy

A Fearless captain and a mysterious girl who walks on water. An underwater city and a destined deadly curse. What could possibly go wrong?

Captain Jorah is renowned for being one of the youngest explorers to ever sail Zephyrian waters. He’s also notorious for landing his crew in situations they hadn’t counted on, involving man-eating mermaids and other dangerous misadventures.

When Jorah decides to search for the legendary underwater City of Larimar, he doesn’t account for the quest that follows. After being rescued from shipwreck by a mysterious young woman who walks on water and carries a singing seashell around her neck, he soon finds himself reunited with an old friend once thought lost to him. Before he knows it, he’s caught up in a race against time to save her yet again, this time from a looming prophecy about a deadly serpent destined to consume her entire race.

Can Jorah help her save her people before the dark prophecy completes itself?

The Amielian Legends is a collection of stand-alone young adult books, all set in the same fantastic universe, that can be read in any order. Read Larimar: Gem of the Sea today to discover new worlds filled with adventure, diverse characters, and whimsical magic.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/44u4tQY 

Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/Larimar-Gem-of-the-Sea-Audiobook/B0BZDYVKWY

The Writer’s Life

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