Delving into the World of Author Liz Schulte

Once in a while there are stories that enliven your day or, helps you to endure your commute in an enjoyable pursuit.

Once in a great while there comes an epic story that commands your attention and imagination; drawing you into its world so deeply you miss your stop.  Or, you bypass favorite activities — such as sleeping or eating — in order to remain enmeshed.

Some of the great stories that have captivated us now and in the past have been Gone With the Wind, Harry Potter, Tom Sawyer, Catcher in the Rye, I, Robot, The Terrillian series, A Wrinkle in Time, The Time Traveler’s Wife and so many more.

I think we have another book to add to our collective all-time fav list — The Guardian Trilogy.  In October 2012, I wrote a book review about the first book in the series Secrets.  I read all three books in about a week.  I could not put them down!  I needed to know how my new friends were going to fare and if I could dare go to sleep lest they may do something and collapse our, ahem their universe.  As many of you know, in November I did NaNoWriMo and completed 51,107 words in 30 days.  This left me no time to do what I knew had to be done — do an author spotlight of Liz Schulte the writer who brought the Guardian Trilogy into reality.

Sit back and enjoy the entertaining wit of Ms. Schulte and don’t forget to pick up Secrets (Book One) absolutely free for Kindle users.

NB: Liz, tell us about yourself.

I never wanted to be a writer. It isn’t that I disliked the profession; I simply never thought about it. After I realized I didn’t really want to go to law school, there were a couple of Walter Mitty-esque years during which many careers sounded fun in theory, but not many appealed in practice. I finally found my way, with gentle pushes from my mother, to putting pen to paper—er, fingers to keys.

I have five novels, with a sixth on the way, and have been featured in two anthologies. When I’m not glued to my laptop (which isn’t as often as I would like), I enjoy traveling. I have been to Italy (twice), England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Germany, Austria, Canada and Mexico and all over the United States (including both Hawaii and Alaska). I am never home long before I get the itch to go again. I also enjoy spending time with my family, eight nieces and nephews, and two very ornery poodles.
Did writing this new book teach you anything and what was it?

This was the first series I had ever written. It taught me a lot about world building, pacing, and how much planning and work go into creating a series.

What is your greatest strength as a writer?
I think my greatest strength is creating very human characters. I like to make sure they react like a normal person would even though they are in exceptional circumstances.

Tell us about your latest work.  Can you share a little of it with us?
My next book comes out at the end of this month. It is titled Easy Bake Coven and I just so happen to have the blurb.

Being a witch wasn’t a big deal to Selene Warren. She dabbled in magic with her friends and never really thought much about it, but the Abyss was watching, waiting for her return. When her grandmother is attacked, Selene uncovers an ancient grudge that threatens to take her life and the lives of all those she holds dear. 

With no choice but to put her trust in a stranger who knows more about her past than she does, a new world of elves, half-elves, fae and one peculiar sekhmet, named Femi, opens up to Selene. If she’s not careful, this strange new world could swallow her whole, and she could lose everything that makes her who she is.

Does the writing get easier with each new book?

Yes, I actually think it does. You learn things as you go that helps smooth out the process a lot. But some books are still easier to write than other books. I can’t say definitively why that is. Some muses are just more chatty than others, I guess.

Olivia Martin is a normal girl with a fairly happy, peaceful life. She isn’t looking for an adventure, but when she runs into a man in a bar, the life she thought she knew begins to crumble away. Olivia is stronger than she thinks, stubborn, she always believes she is right, she always sees the best in people even when they don’t deserve it, and she isn’t afraid to risk herself for the people she loves.

How did you come up with the title?
For the longest time the title of the first book in the Guardian Trilogy was the first word, simply because that was how it saved on my computer. When it came time to title the work, I knew it was going to be a series and I knew I wanted them to mean something. In the first book everything revolves around the secrets the characters are keeping. In the second book, with most of the secrets revealed, it becomes about the choices they make. 
The last book is the natural culmination of secrets and choices—consequences.
The series title, The Guardian Trilogy, comes from the fact that this series is about Olivia’s journey to her ultimate destiny. The next series centered around her and Holden will be the Jinn Trilogy because it is about his journey.
Can you tell us about your main character?
This series really has three main characters. Each of them grows in their own way by the end.
Holden Smith is bored. He is cold, calculating, and so over everything he thinks life as to offer. He is cynical about people and their motivations, but often sees the situation more clearly than Olivia and her rose colored glasses does.  Holden is obsessively neat, controlled, and withdrawn. When he meets Olivia, he begins to question his world view and gut reactions.
Quintus is the last main character. He is good. His heart is always in the right place, He has lived a long time, but maintains a certain degree of innocence; however, being immortal makes it hard to sympathize with mortals. Quintus is a company man through and through. He believes strongly in rules and following orders.

How did you develop your plot and characters?
I like to write the first draft with no outline or notes. However, when I finish, I make an outline of the story I wanted to tell. That way when I start revising I can see where I got off course or the parts I need to expand. I also make a timeline of event, notes about layers to foreshadow earlier in the book and any other details that need to be changed.
For characters, I like to get to know them. It isn’t always easy. Quintus was an especially difficult character for me to connect with, but by the end of the series I finally found a good rhythm with writing him.
What do you look for in a cover?
I had a very particular idea for the cover of this series. I wanted to show the progression of the storyline with my covers. I chose the ying-yang symbol because it represents conflicting ideas working in harmony and that is how my fictional world of the Abyss is set up. The series has many internal conflicts between good and evil, light and dark, angels and demons, guardians and jinn, love and hate, and it all exists in harmony until the natural order is disrupted by Olivia, who is the color gray in a world of black and white. On the first cover I have the symbol with a light coming from it. The next book is the symbol on fire and the final book is the symbol flaking away. 

Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot?
I have some. The dreams Olivia has in the first books are all dreams I took from my dream journal. Certainly conversations and personality quirks might allude to some people I know, but most of what is there is complete and utter fiction.

How important do you think villains are in a story?

 I think villains are extremely important. It is good to allow the reader to understand why the bad guy is doing what he is doing, maybe even sympathize with him or her. A good villain can make a story.

* * *
Here’s where you can find out more about The Guardian Trilogy and Easy Bake Coven.

  • Twitter – @LizSchulte

Where can readers purchase your book?


An All-Dialogue Short Story: Loch Ness

Several years ago, a colleague challenged me to write a story using only dialogue.  I thought that was the silliest thing ever…until I tried it.  Very very challenging.  No omniscient voice to fill in the blanks.  No colorful descriptions to help paint the scene — just the characters’ own dialects, words and attitudes drive the plot and story to completion.

Well, here’s my all-dialogue story called Loch Ness.  Please leave me a comment and tell me what you think!

The Loch Ness Monster

Loch Ness

By Rochelle Campbell

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“Do you hate me, Kirsten?”
“I wouldn’t say that…exactly.”
“What would you say?”
“I’d say you’d better keep your eye on the Loch.  If we’re really supposed to be looking for Nessie this would be the time.  It’s dusk. “
“I prefer a different view at the moment.  A twin peaks view…”
“See?  That’s why we have issues!”
“Ahoy there, Matey!”
“You guys couldn’t have more perfect timing!”
“Really?  Jeff staring at your boobs again?”
“Well, if she’d cover them up…”
“Why you dirty little…”
“What’s that sound?”
“Maria, Perkins, Jeff and Boob Lady – get into your positions!   This might be it.  I’m going to get the skiff in the water and take out the ROVNav6 equipment to see if I can get a bead on our favorite mythological creature.  Everyone, remember what your roles — go!”
“Aren’t I supposed to go with you?”
“Kirsten, only I’m on the skiff, ‘member?  Too much is at risk if more than one person goes out there.  While we haven’t heard any man-eating stories about Nessie, I’m too much of a pragmatist to take any chances.  You’re working the night vision camera, right?”
“Got all your equipment?  Including your radio?”
“You know I do.”
“Right, I do.  I know everyone does because you’re all my best students.  That’s why you’re here.  Ignore Jeff.  He’s just hot for you.  You’re too good for him anyway.  Now…go.”
“Thanks, Professor Tate.”
“Yeah, yeah.  Aren’t I supposed to be seeing your fanny right about now?”
“Damn, it’s nippy out here.  How long do we have to stay?  It’s been 3 hours already!”
“Stop whining, Jeff.  We have no idea how sensitive that 6G sonar is.”
“You need to pay attention to more than Kirsten’s boobs, Blockhead.  The sonar won’t pick up voices.  Its focus is beneath us — 784 feet beneath us to be precise.  Think he’s captured any contacts?”
“Dunno.  I keep remembering Operation Deepscan in ’87.  They captured 3 contacts that were — what was it, Kirsten?”
“…bigger than a fish but smaller than a whale.  Why don’t you ever remember that, Mare?  Oh, and Perkins, it’s 812 feet — that depth was recorded in 1989.”
“See?  You’re the brainiac, Missy; the blonde hair and hazel eyes are just camouflage.”
“The radio traffic is bothering me, kids.  Can we cut the chatter?”
“But the sonar doesn’t pick it up!”
“No, but I do.”
“You sound like my Dad.”
“That’s because he could be!”
“Knock it off.  I’m not…well, forget it.  I’m only a few years shy.  Leave it to you guys to bring up my existentialist issues when I am attempting to solve the mother of all myths.  Good Grief, kids!”
“What was that?  Sounded like a huge blip, Professor.”
“Yeah…it was.”
“Leave him let him calibrate to lock in on the contact signal.  Are you already set up to record to the chart paper, Professor?”
“Damn.  Thank, Kirsten.  What would I do without you?  Got it on.  Yeah…yeah.  This things moving fast and it’s big.  I have it at 190 meters and it’s going deeper!  Hot damn!  Recording now for a full 2 minutes.  Think this is the longest recording in recent Nessie history…”
“You think it’s Nessie?”
“This thing is huge — bigger than a shark.  Like the size of a calf, say 9 or 10 months old.”
“Professor, really?  How dumb do you think we are?  A baby cow?  That’s not that big…”
“The Idiot Pills are working…”
“Perkins, quit it.”
“You’re defending him?  Wow.  Jeff, you may have a shot after all.”
“Ow!  You hit me!”
“Someone clocked me, too.”
“We’re all trying to protect our ears, Blockhead.  That high-pitched keening sound is worse than nails on a blackboard.”
“Professor?!  Are you all right?  The sound’s coming from your direction — Professor?”
“Anybody have a visual of him?”
“Nothing here by Castle Urquhart.  What about you, Blockhead?”
“I’m in position 1/2 a mile down from the Castle and I got nothing; can’t even see his boat anymore.”
“Kirsten, you’re the one with the best vantage point, up on the hills with the night vision equipment.  What do you see?”
“Just a sec, got so worried, forgot I had it.  All right, scanning all sectors — nothing!  No boat.  No, Professor.  Nothing.  It seems like he just…vanished.”
“What was that damn noise?  Could that have something to do with Tate’s disappearance?”
“For a numb nut, you may have a point there.  What do you think, people?  Do you think we just heard Nessie’s voice?”
“If we did, did it sink the Professor’s boat?”
“Or, did Nessie take him into her cave?”
“Remember the walls of the Loch are similar to all other lochs; no caves.”
“Quit it, Kirsten.  This is not just a school trip anymore.  This is serious.  We just heard a God awful screech and now the Professor’s not responding to his radio and we don’t have visual.  This shouldn’t be happening but it is so we have to think outside of the box.  We’re Americans; we don’t know this place like the Scottish do.  Maybe the information we have is not as current and up-to-date as the Professor likes to believe.  Maybe there is a cave or two down there.”
“Well, we do have some Sonar wetsuits back at the hotel.  Wanna go look?”
“Jeff, you can’t be serious.”
“Way, serious.  The Professor’s gone AWOL and I don’t like it.  I’m getting more creeped out with every passing minute.  We can’t just stand here and wait for him to reappear.  What if he doesn’t?”
“Damn, I hate this.  But ladies, Jeff’s right.  We can’t just stand around hoping he’ll show up.  What if he’s drowning as we speak?”
“Was that a splash?”
“Damn him!  Jeff!!  Get out of the water!”
“Kirsten, keep an eye on him.  Start recording now, too.”
“Good idea, thanks Perkins.”
“Jeff’s nearing the spot where Professor Tate’s boat was last seen.  Okay, he’s splashing around — he dove under!  Yeah, forgot he was on the friggin’ swim team.”
“Don’t forget he’s a surfer dude as well…”
“You sound jealous, Perkins…”
“…what’s Blockhead doing now?  Did he come up for air yet?”
“He’s only been under for 15 seconds.”
“I can’t stand all this waiting.  I think I was holding my breath!  How long has it been now Kirsten?”
“Almost two minutes.”
“Have you seen Jeff come back up?”
“How long can he hold his breath?”
“Dunno.  But David Blaine held his for over 17 minutes in 2008…”
“That’s not real helpful information right now, Perkins.  The average person can do about 2 minutes before coming up for air.  But Jeff?  Maybe he can do longer.”
“Okay, Kirsten.  Let’s hope so.  You’re the leader now so what do we do?”
“Well, we can track Professor Tate through the USBL Scout system and the GPS I suggested he equip it with.  We’ll have to contact the local authorities and let them know about this.”
“Are you crying, Kirsten?”
“Let’s pack it in and get help for them both NOW.”
“How many minutes have they been under?”
“Tate’s been missing for about six minutes and four for Jeff”
“I’m heading to the hotel.  Meet you guy’s there.”
“Should we turn off the radios now?”
“No, leave them on.  I don’t want to take any chances and please — no more heroes tonight, okay?  There’s only three of us left.”
“Should we change?”
“No time; got to get to the authorities.  It’s been 16 minutes now for the Professor.  Let’s get going.  It’s 17 miles to the Northern Constabulary.  You’re driving, Perkins.”
“Why me?
“‘Cause you’re left-handed.  With me being nervous, I don’t want my instincts steering me towards the wrong side of the road.”
“Good point.  But, my being left-handed doesn’t matter.  I drive on the right side just like you do.”
“You’re driving.”
“I’ll drive!”
“Geez, both of you didn’t have to yell.  And why can’t you forgive a little fender-bender?”
“Because it was with a Mercedes-Benz, that’s why.”
“It’s just a car.  Hey, my legs are shorter than both of yours.  Wait up!”
“So, let us get this straight.  You three are from Columbia University and you had two others with you, your Professor and this feller named numb nuts?”
“No, his name’s Jeff Dawkins.”
“I prefer numb nut..”
“Shut it, Iain.  Sorry there lassie.  Jeff.  And then while your were looking for, hehe, Nessie, the good ole Professor disappeared after you heard a loud noise.  And two minutes later, Jeff jumps in to save the drowning Professor.  Is that about right?”
“Yes, Constable it is.”
“Ach awa’ an’ bile yer hied!”
“Iain!  None of that.  Come back here!”
“Er.  A roundabout translation would be, ‘go away and boil your head’ but he really didn’t mean it.  We get so many crazy stories from tourist that after a while…let’s just say, Iain’s a beat cop.  He’s heard and seen it all.”
“So what do can you do to help us find our friends?”
“File a missing person’s report and in the morning, we’ll send out rescue boats.”
“That’s hours away!”
“Maria, is your name?  Well, we’re a 24-hour operation, but the rescue boats can’t see out there in the dark and it would make no sense to send more people out into risk, now would it?  Go back to your hotel and we’ll meet you at Castle Urquhart at 9:30.  The fog will have burned off…mostly and we should be able to see clearly.  Get some rest.”
“Can’t sleep, Kirsten.”
“Neither can I.”
“That makes the three of us.”
“So, what’re we gonna do?”
“Go down and have one more look around.”
“I’m with you!”
“Me, too.”
“Take all of your equipment.  Never know what we might need.”
“Okay, over here is where Jeff jumped in and out about 80 yards is where the Professor was last seen.   
Right, Kirsten?”
“Yeah.  Okay, I’ve set up the GPS tracker and its calibrating.  Do you have the GPS tracker code of the RovNav6 unit?”
“Got it.  I’m entering it in.  There, done.”
“Good.  It’s tracking it.  Damn!  It’s 685 feet down!  If it’s there, that’s not good for the Professor…”
“He could have swum downstream and is exhausted and looking for us.  Look at this, it moved!  How is it moving??”
“How the hell should I know?  Let’s recalibrate and see if it’s maybe an anomaly –“
“GUYS!!!  Look and don’t you hear the sound starting up?”
“The RovNav6 is almost to the surface!  What does that mean?”
“Stop dragging me, Perkins — Aww you made me drop the –“
“Keep running, Kirsten.  Don’t look back.  Mare’s gone.”
“But –“
“Let’s go faster.  I’ll explain later.”
“Okay, you’ve had 4 cups of tea and about a million crumpets.  What the hell did you see, Perkins?”
“I saw something long and smooth come out of the water and faster than I thought possible it snaked up close and grabbed, Maria.  That damn noise was so piercing I had shut my eyes and was already running inland and grabbing you so I didn’t get a good look.”
“Was it Nessie?”
“Who knows?  All I know is all three of them are gone.  The RovNav6 is inside of whatever that thing is.  They’re all gone Kirsten.  It’s just the two of us left and I, for one, am not going anywhere near the Loch again.  I like being a landlubber.”
“How can you say that?  What’s wrong with you?  I’m going back out there!”
“I suggest you wait for the rescue crew to come in the morning, Kirsten.”
“Why??  So I can be sure my friends are dead?”
“You’re already sure they are right now.”
“Let go of me!”
“I’m not going to let you kill yourself.  I know you were in love with Tate and having an affair with him but…he’s gone.”
“Oh God…no!!”
“It’s okay. Let it all out…it’s all over now…”
The End. 

To read more of my short stories, pick up a copy of Leaping Out on Faith today!

NaNoWriMo – Done!

It’s official — I am a National Novel Writing Month winner!!!! Yipeee!!

Okay, so now what?  Finish the book, of course.  Fifty thousand words does not a novel make.

Thanks everyone for your support, encouragement and friendship.

Ta-ta for now,
Notebook Blogairy