Writing in Canada … with Eileen Schuh, author

PART 2:  

I asked Eileen about her books…

I have a journalism background but am now into writing novels.  My multi-book BackTracker Series starts with THE TRAZ in 1986 and follows the characters lives through several decades.  I’m also the author of SCHRÖDINGER’S CAT, an adult SciFi novella.  Although THE TRAZ was my debut novel (it appeared first as an ebook), THE CAT is special because it was my first publishing contract. It’s an ego booster when someone thinks they can make money on your book.

Where do you live? Give us a picture of your home. 

I live in the northern boreal forests of Alberta Canada. There are lots of deciduous trees, some spruce, many ponds, hills and lakes, and a few rivers.  There are also open expanses of cattle and grain farms. There is abundant wildlife—deer, moose, elk, coyotes, and bears to name just a few of the larger inhabitants of the wilderness surrounding me. 

Generally, everything just looks white from November until sometime in March. This past year, however, we didn’t get snow until January. Winter sports such as snowmobiling, skating, curling, hockey, snow-boarding, and ice-fishing are very popular. I have trails through the forest right outside my door on which I cross-country ski. In summer, people go fishing or play on the many lakes with their boats and seadoos. In the fall, hunting is popular.

What about your road to publication? The usual rocky-road?

I first self-published THE TRAZ as an ebook and then as a paperback. My book marketing coach encouraged me to self-publish in conjunction with the release of Schrodinger’s Cat by WolfSinger Publications.  Having more than one book out is a great sales tactic—if people read one of your books and like it, they are likely to buy others you have written. I spent a lot of money editing THE TRAZ, buying the cover, formatting the manuscript for uploading, creating a video promo, etc.  I quit smoking around this time and used the money I saved to do this. I wanted THE TRAZ to showcase my abilities—and perhaps attract an agent or publisher.

As I was readying FATAL ATTRACTION (the sequel to THE TRAZ ) for publication, I was approached by an Edmonton, Alberta publisher.  Imajin Books bought the e-rights to THE TRAZ and released a second edition with a new cover and a few minor changes.  They then released a School Edition of THE TRAZ in both e- and print formats.  They also bought e- and print rights to FATAL ATTRACTION—so, my plan worked!

It’s much easier and cheaper to have a publisher than to self-publish…but then, you don’t have total control over your book and you have to share your profits. To me, though, it’s worth it. I now have more time to write and I have a partner (my publisher) helping me sell and promote my work. 

Was getting published in Canada as challenging as everywhere else? 

Although the Canadian and provincial governments support the literary arts, these funds usually go to non-fiction,  literary-style fiction, and poetry. There is also quite a lively short-story market. Trade novels, though, are a difficult sell—many Canadian novelists end up with American or British publishers.

I’m very lucky that my publisher is on the cutting-edge of cyberspace marketing. Canada has a small population, so accessing the international readership market has huge potential. The future of ebooks is also bright and Imajin Books is well-positioned to tap into that expanding market.

I’m writing a series at the moment – fun, but oh boy, what a challenge! How do you work on your series?

 The BackTracker Series was written during a low and lonely time in my life.  The characters appeared to me and dictated their stories. They were my company…into the wee hours of many mornings. I did not know that their stories would end up being a series…each time I finished a book, I thought their stories had ended. Then, they’d start talking to me again and a sequel would begin. Unfortunately, they did not dictate their stories in proper grammatical form and didn’t follow the rules of story-telling. In their defence, neither they nor I had publication on our minds at that time. When my daughter encouraged me to try to get published, I had a lot of polishing to do. It took me longer to get THE TRAZ publishable than it took me to write the entire 7-book series!

My life is no longer low and lonely. I’m fulfilling my life-long dream. 

What does the future hold for you, Eileen?

The next big event will be the release of FATAL ATTRACTION this fall.  Then…I have all those other books in The BackTracker Series to polish and publish. I have two novels for middle-grade kids drafted. I’m hoping to have one of those ready for submission this fall. It’s one I based on my childhood and wrote for my own kids and grandbabies…so it’s important to me.

I’m also working on another adult SciFi novella. Not sure when that one will be ready! I tell people that writing and publishing is such a slow process that my futuristic novels are historical novels by the time they make it into print!

That’s all, folks! (Now where did I get that from?)

Thank you, Eileen for an interesting and honest account of your writing life. Wishing you all the best for the future with your writing, and I look forward to appearing on your blog too – always wanted to go to Canada! :)

REMEMBER! Check out Eileen’s ebook on Amazon – free for three days! U.S. time.  

And comment on the blogs involved on her blog tour for the chance of winning her competition. 

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How important is setting to a novel?

Welcome, Eileen Schuh to my blog site! Eileen is an author from the northern boreal forests of Alberta, Canada. We’ve befriended via the internet and I’m very pleased to welcome her first ever blog trip Down Under.  *pop in tomorrow too, for more from Eileen about being a Canadian writer.

Eileen's deck. Feel the chill!

To start off Eileen’s blog tour, I asked her how important is the setting in her YA novel, THE TRAZ. (As we who use Australian settings find, we get mixed responses from overseas publishers.) 

EILEEN:  I was quite surprised when an American publisher suggested she’d be interested in THE TRAZ if I change the Canadian setting to one in the United States. I found it odd that she thought American kids would only want to read about American kids.

Some of my fondest childhood literary memories are stories that took place across the seas…Winnie the Pooh and Curious George set in England, Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates in The Netherlands. I loved learning the strange language and cultures–lorries, boots, lifts, and double-decker busses, windmills and dikes.  Exotic settings intrigued me, like India and Yorkshire in The Secret Garden.

Even Canada’s very own Anne of Green Gables series took place way across Canada, on tiny Prince Edward Island…where people had red hair to match the red earth and the ocean was never far away.  The Little House on the Prairie series was fascinating, not only because it was set far away in place, but also in time. 

I don’t remember reading any Australian stories, but I vividly remember learning Waltzing Matilda and being fascinated by jumbucks and tucker bags, kangaroos and boomerangs.

Perhaps that American publisher didn’t consider Canada exotic. Perhaps she found no wonder in Alberta’s vast prairies and rugged Rockies or in our long summer days and dark cold nights.  Perhaps our warm and wild Chinooks don’t enchant her. 

I loved translating my province into words for THE TRAZ—it ignited in me the wonder I felt as a child as the seasons changed. It reminded me of how intriguing my own back yard once was. I saw things with young eyes…

“Katrina looked past the parking lot to the brilliant autumn colours. This used to be her favourite time of the year, with the fire of the foliage under the mellow glow of a sun riding low on the horizon, the honking of geese flying white against the azure sky. Hunting with Grandpa…”

My story is about Katrina, a young girl who falls in with a biker gang called THE TRAZ. She has many adventures—some very exciting and others, traumatic.  Katrina is extremely intelligent, beautiful, wealthy, and is into computers.  Life deals her some tough blows and she doesn’t handle them well. After a few bad decisions, she finds herself in too deep—with no way out.

View from Eileen's front window

 The prologue is set in the Canadian Arctic when Katrina is four years old.  “Had there been any sunlight at all, she’d have been able to see a thousand miles of flat white tundra spreading to the horizon. In December, though, there was no sun.

Katrina’s dad is a police officer and transfers to Calgary in Southern Alberta where she grows up. Calgary is on the flat prairies, east of the Rocky Mountains. “There was little to see besides the brown stubble of a harvested field and the blue sky that met it along the horizon…”

She ends up living in THE TRAZ biker compound—hidden in the foothills. “She gazed around. Gone were the miles of endless prairie. A ridge, glinting with the gold of September poplars, circled the gully enfolding them.”

THE TRAZ Kindle ebook will be FREE on Amazon for THREE days only–April 14,15,16 . I’m not sure which Kindle store Australians purchase from…if it is Amazon.com than the sale will likely be running pretty much on Canadian time. 

Readers will know if the sale is in effect because the purchase price will show up as $0.00 on the Amazon Kindle Store site. What a great deal for our readers! If people don’t have a Kindle eReader they can download for free “KINDLE for PCs” from the Amazon site and read the story on their computers. It’s easy to download this software which is quite nice for reading books. Amazon eBook

And remember, if people leave a comment on your site, I’ll enter them in a draw for a Kindle. 

THE TRAZ (Imajin Books; 2 edition March 12, 2012) is available in paperback and ebook formats and in a special School Edition that includes a Teaching Guide. Click on the following links to purchase or sample THE TRAZ. Amazon Paperback    School Edition Paperback     School Edition eBook

Also available from other fine online bookstores. If THE TRAZ is not on your local bookstore or library shelves, ask for it to be ordered in for you.

Eileen Schuh is also the author of the adult Sci-Fi novella SCHRÖDINGER’S CAT   For more information on Schuh and her books visit her at: http://www.eileenschuh.com

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Coming soon…in conversation with Canadian author, Eileen Schuh

It’s a small world after all … which is why I love connecting up with authors across the globe. An ocean might separate our countries but the road to publication is just as interesting. This Saturday and Sunday, I feature Canadian author, Eileen Schuh on my blog.

Eileen Schuh, Canadian author

Eileen’s self-published YA book The Traz is a novel about a 13 year old girl who falls in with a biker gang. It was picked up by a publishing house, and now she’s completed the Teaching Guide for an edition suitable for use in schools,  THE TRAZ: School Edition (BackTracker series)The second ebook edition of The Traz will be released under the Imajin banner this spring while the sequel will be launched in late summer or fall.

In December, Corrections Canada invited Schuh to use her book to reach out to at-risk youngsters at the North Slave Young Offenders Facility in Yellowknife. She also presented to children at the SideDoor Youth Center in Yellowknife and will visit students at the St. Paul Alternate Education Centre in February.

I asked Eileen heaps of questions about writing and publishing in Canada, about where she lives and the setting for her book (you know how intrigued I am by books’ settings!) This story takes place in Eileen’s home province of Alberta, Canada on the vast expanses of the prairies in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains.

I’d love you to drop in on my blog on Saturday and Sunday! See details below…..

Saturday 14th April:  HOW IMPORTANT IS SETTING TO A NOVEL?

Sunday 15th April:  IN CONVERSATION WITH EILEEN SCHUH … where we discuss the ups and downs of being a writer in Canada, about her story, The Traz and her main character Katrina, and Eileen’s road to publication.

*** EXTRA NEWS! Eileen asked me to tell you that anyone who leaves a comment on my blog will be automatically entered in my draw for a Kindle. She’ll draw out the winner this fall (i.e. our spring) when the sequel to THE TRAZ is released. 

**** EXTRA SPECIAL NEWS! For readers of my blog! Did I mention the work FREE e-book? Will tell you this bit in the blog on Saturday.

Hope you can join us!

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