Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?
My name is Robert James Schultz. I’ve lived in Sugar City, Idaho for the past 30 years. I’m married with five grown children; two bookend girls and three boys in the middle. No grand-kids… yet. I enjoy water sports, motorcycles, hiking, camping and RV camping with my wife. I love doing Triathlons. I work for BYU-Idaho University in Rexburg, Idaho as the Video Systems Engineer for the AV Productions and Broadcast department. I work part-time at the local airport as an avionics tech, doing installations and certifications on aircraft avionics. I love flying and have a special interest in WWII aircraft.
I got started writing at 14 in 1976 right after Star Wars came out. I so loved that universe that writing myself into it was the best way for me to join in the adventure. I wrote several of my own stories having my own unique plot-lines, characters and worlds. Since then, I’ve written many short stories that helped to channel and focus my attention. Most of those aren’t worth a whole lot other than to illustrate the process of learning. But life takes you away sometimes and I had to set writing aside while I raised a family, but in 2012 I took it up again. I credit my youngest son for me starting again as he pulled one of my short stories out and had it transcribed into digital format, thus began the huge undertaking of writing it into a proper novel.
How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?
While I was writing my first book in 2012, I had also signed up to complete an Ironman Triathlon. The time requirements for each was incredibly demanding and combining that time strain together was a careful balance that inevitably tipped occasionally. Most of my writing was done in the evenings after the workouts were over. There were many times when I would be formulating a scene during my long workouts. Sometimes writing this first book would take me into the early hours of the morning. Sometimes, I was too tired to do anything with it. Now, I’ve made writing my way of unwinding after work; sort of a decompression time. Come home, watch a little TV, help my wife with dinner, clean up and then I’m at my desk going at it until bedtime… or I get tired.
How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or some other method of getting your words down?
We have a smaller room in our house that was never really suited well for the kids to sleep in, so Lola and I made it our office. At first I had this sprawling huge corner desk that rivaled any roll top desk, (I’d kill for one of those, but my wife would probably Shanghai it), but my wife wanted to go back to college and get her BA and I promised her that I’d put her through school when we could afford it, so I gave up the desk for her to accomplish her goal. Problem was, I never got it back! My desk is this tiny little unfinished preteen girl’s amour tucked in the corner of the room surrounded by shelves of my wife’s books on both sides. My one saving grace is I get the window. I don’t like Laptop computers. They are a valuable tool and work well for others, but I much prefer a desktop with a separate keyboard, mouse, monitor and a nice sound system.
What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?
My favorite is the creative piece of writing. Seeing it spill out onto the screen and realizing that, in my mind, I’m actually there experiencing what my characters are going through. The cherry on top is filling in the detail of a scene and then leaving it for other parts of the project and then coming back to it maybe weeks later and rereading it. You get giddy just reading it and experiencing the scene brand new. You know a scene is working really well when you have that feeling.
Making the story line mesh seamlessly with the rest of the story is a pain in the neck, but I have to say editing corrections are the part I hate the most. Some of it is a silent battle with the editor. “What do you mean that doesn’t make any sense? IDIOT! A four year old could understand that! Did you even read the part above?” Sometimes it’s not a silent battle, but a carefully worded and tone controlled “discussion”. I’ve had a few arguments with my editor that were both vocal and heated, but we retreat to our respective corners, cool down and apologize and try to come back at it from a different perspective.
How did you come up with your book idea? How long did it take you to write your book?
I have several projects in the works right now, but TG, “Thulsa’s Gate” was my first brought to print. TG was originally called “Snow Contact”, then “Time Storm”. The idea originally formed from an old black and white movie I saw as a preteen, called: Paradise Lost. I mixed the idea with a couple of movies I saw in my 20s and then compiled it together adding in my love interest at the time. It was rather dismal as a writing feat. Characters had no development and the writing style was dripping with unrealistic sarcasm and basic functional words. As it was written in long hand it was nearly impossible to read. Don’t know how my son managed to get it transcribed. But this piece had a great plot idea and I took that idea and ran with it in 2012. I think it turned out pretty good; I know it would make one heck of a movie. The hand written manuscript took about a month and half to write, then it sat in a box locked away for 30+ years. When I started writing it out correctly, it was early February 2012 and I finished the writing portion on December 31, 2012. Almost a year. It took another year to edit, revise and correct. I submitted without a cover in July of 2014 and finally got the cover in late September 2014.
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What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?
While TG was officially released in early October of 2014 and has great published reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and sold out at the BYU-Idaho university bookstore, it has seen no further success due to an acute lack of marketing funds available. It was hoped that its release would generate enough funds to purchase some marketing and hopefully propel it into self-supporting status online and in bookstores. Even though Indie publishing is easy and available to everyone, you still shoulder the burden of everything and that includes the money it takes to get it out there to everyone. I originally wrote TG to just be a personal accomplishment to have on my shelf. But nearly everyone that has read it have encouraged me to take it further. But alas, without what makes the world go round, sales don’t happen.
What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?
I’m just finishing up another project that started in similar fashion. Earlier we discussed what got me started writing and the stories I wrote, ultimately creating my own universes. I decided to bring those stories forward like I did TG and get them in front of people. “Starbird” is set to be a three book Science Fiction series.
Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.
TG has a companion book called “Baker’s Two Bits”, TB as I refer to it. It provides a lot of back story to some of the characters in TG and actually runs a little parallel to the story line of TG, ending up intertwining the two together at the end and then a final book is planned after that. I have the whole plot-line figured out in my head, I just have to get it written. That’s that fun part, right?
What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?
Hogwash! Poppy cock! Rubbish! Get off your pity wagon and “gitterdun!” It ain’t never going to happen if you don’t try and even if everyone else thinks its junk, you have to know that you are not junk and so anything you create can’t be junk either.
Creation is one of the single most eternal principles we as humans have and enjoy, yet it is dismissed so casually and abused so blatantly. What a wonderful power we have to create anything, especially in our minds.
A question for me:
How serious should any writer take the “Trending writing standards” that appear in so many blogs and forums? Seems like if you don’t write a certain way, using certain words and punctuation construction, you’re frowned on and dismissed as not measuring up. I know a few “would be authors” who don’t write or submit because of this mindset. As an author, you become an artist in writing, you write what you feel. I can’t figure out why Van Gogh was such a success. Looked like something he did in third grade to me.
I love this question because my own books don't fit into the "trending writing standards" library either. I write what comes to me, what I feel good about, what works for me, and that may make some readers wonder what's up, but for the greater number, they appear to like that I have my own style, my own way of getting the 'word' across.
Can a writer do any less?
Perhaps that's why I publish my own books, though I didn't start out that way. Anyone who knows my publishing journey, also knows that my first book was published by a local publisher. When the rights were bought back years later (by my sweet brother who bought them back for me because I couldn't afford to) I was able, for the first time, to really have the freedom to write and to publish to my heart's content. That doesn't mean I don't have editors, beta readers and such, but that the end result is always, always what I have envisioned.
Thank you, Robert!
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This book is printed through Ingram Spark and is available through any of its partner distributors worldwide.