Thursday, September 17, 2020

Announcing the finalists of the 2020 Arizona Literary Contest


Listed alphabetically by author name



Andrew D. Hirss of Missoula, MT      

Deborah Doolittle of Jacksonville, NC

Leon O’Chruadhlaoich of Dallas, TX

Nancy Brehm of Flagstaff, AZ



Jamie Nielson Flagstaff, AZ

Jan Nichols of Glendale, AZ

Rico Austin of Scottsdale, AZ

Susan G. Smith of Oracle, AZ



Brandy Isadora of Paradise Valley, AZ

Constance Osterlitz of Phoenix, AZ.

Janet Crum of Flagstaff, AZ

William Lyman of Prescott, AZ



Cherrie Smith of Flagstaff, AZ

Ellen Martig of Phoenix, AZ

Richard McMaster of Surprise, AZ

Ron V. Bartlow of Flagstaff, AZ




Janelle Molony of Phoenix, AZ

John Lewis Floyd of Tucson, AZ

Matthew Schwartz of Tucson, AZ

Thomas P. Collins of Prescott, AZ



Ashley E. Sweeney of Tucson, AZ

D. R. Ransdell of Tucson, AZ

Jan Tenery of Oracle, AZ

Marcia Fine of Scottsdale, AZ



Barbara Renner of Phoenix, AZ

Caren Cantrell of Cave Creek, AZ

Debi Novotny of Fountain Hills, AZ

Rodo Sofranac of Phoenix, AZ 

The winners will be officially announced and prizes awarded on November 7, 2020
The Arizona Literary Magazine (2021 edition) featuring the winners will also be available on November 7, 2020.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Writing scary villains - by Vijaya Schartz

 I love colorful characters and I confess that the villains in my stories are just as interesting and fascinating as the hero and heroine. It’s not by accident. First, a hero or heroine can only be as heroic as the villain is dangerous. A weak villain presents no threat to the protagonist. Then, there is the liberating factor. 

When I started writing, I couldn’t imagine telling the story from the mind of a bad person. It seemed sinful, naughty at best. But while writing my first book, I accidently jumped into my villain’s head. As I descended into the dark abyss of my evil character’s psyche, viewing the world from his twisted mind, I had a life-changing revelation... I enjoyed it! 

Some memorable villains in the two Archangel books.

Was I a bad person? I pride myself in being spiritual and this new discovery was disturbing. According to what I learned as a writer, however, no one is totally good or totally bad. We are all nuances of light and dark, some darker than others. After dealing with the guilt, questioning my righteousness and my sanity, I realized that being able to understand sinful intents and the mechanisms and motivations of evil people was a good thing for a writer. 

Ancient Enemy series:
"Captain Kavak certainly ranks as one of the worst villains ever encountered!"

Ever since, I make it a point to develop my villains, and some of them are so evil, they will give you thrills and shivers. That’s the case for the villains of my September release, Malaika’s Secret. Admiral Mort Lowell was born on a dark moon of Tenebra II. Half Human and half Tenebran, he was rejected by both races as a child for his hybrid looks. Drawing support from a mysterious secret society, he quickly rose in the ranks of the Galactic Trade Alliance. 

Because of his white skin, black hair, and the black visor protecting his sensitive retinas, some call him a Vampire. Others call him a shark because of his sharp, pointed teeth. But those who fear him for his scary looks have no idea how dangerous and wicked the man is inside, or from where he draws his power. 

The paperback is available now, and the eBook is in pre-order, to be delivered on September 3rd. Order it today from your favorite online store HERE.

Special Agent Tyler Conrad works security undercover on the Byzantium Space Station and adheres to a strict moral code. When strange beings with wings are murdered, and a dangerous lion wanders the station’s indoor streets, Tyler’s investigation leads him to a mysterious woman, who could make him break all his rules and get them both killed.

Forbidden to love, the beautiful Malaika, guardian of the glowing crystal in the temple of the Formless One, is an illegal mind-reader who hides perilous secrets. She has seen the great evil coming to Byzantium but must hide her extraordinary abilities or perish with her people.

When Admiral Mort Lowell, a hybrid Tenebran nicknamed the Vampire, makes a surprise visit to Byzantium, Tyler knows something wicked is afoot…

The previous books in the Byzantium Space Station series are: BLACK DRAGON (Book 1) and AKIRA'S CHOICE (Book 2). Although each novel stands alone, this is the right order for the series. Find the links below my signature line.

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes
amazon B&N - Smashwords - Kobo FB 

Monday, September 14, 2020

History of the Arizona Authors Association 2016-2020 - by Kathleen Cook

Misplaced Trust 2016-2018

The Arizona Authors board at the 2015 Literary Banquet. The theme was Western

Through the years, some members passed away, moved away, or left the organization. During the last year of Toby's tenure, the composition of the board had changed. It consisted of Lisa Aquilina as vice president and contest coordinator, Russell Azbill as treasurer, Deborah Hilcove as secretary (followed by Ron Tobin), Cherie Lee as newsletter editor, Vijaya Schartz as webmistress, and myself as proofreader. Our High-Country liaison was Nancy Scheneman-Brehm and our Southern liaison was Jan Cleere. 
Toby Heathcotte, Cherie Lee and Vijaya Schartz, having high tea in Glendale in 2015

When Lisa Aquilina was voted into the position of president at the end of 2015, very few people knew her. She was relatively new, in comparison to long-time members. She was congenial on the surface and people believed that she might make a good president. In other words, the membership acted on trust and elected her. She began her “reign” in January of 2016. 

Cherie Lee and her 2015 Literary Award
Cherie Lee, the newsletter editor, and I first realized that all was not smooth sailing when we were asked to revamp the newsletter, change its schedule (forcing us to work on holidays), use a new program with which neither of us were familiar, and finally, make arbitrary and frivolous changes at the last minute. At one point, Cherie and I received orders at 8:30 pm telling us to move several pages for no reason (thereby breaking all links and forcing a layout change) which prompted me to stay up until 2 am to have the newsletter proofread by the following morning. We both grew to resent Lisa's boot camp, "my way or the highway" mentality. Unknown to me at the time, Toby and Vijaya were going through even greater difficulties with Lisa.

Vijaya Schartz, Scottsdale Library book signing
Vijaya described this time by saying: 

"In the fall of 2016, Toby and I blew the whistle when we realized the money was disappearing, and the new president threw us out of the association. Then I was threatened with legal consequences if I didn't close the blog (opened by me for the association). 

"It took some time for the membership and the other board members to realize what was happening. By that time, Toby and I had moved on and started a small group with no political or financial concerns, just helping other writers. 

"When all the malfeasance of the last president came to light and we were called back, we were happy to return to the association." 

When these difficulties compelled us to act, the four of us, Toby, Vijaya, Cherie and myself, sent a letter to the general membership in September of 2016, to address such concerns. For this, Toby and Vijaya were especially vilified and accusations were made. The four of us were expelled from the association and I was sent an email which stated, "If you attempt to come within 500 feet of an Arizona Authors Association meeting or event, you will be prosecuted, sued, and/or arrested." I'm sure all four of us received such emails, and for Vijaya and Toby it was worse. My time with the Arizona Authors Association officially ended in September of 2016. 

During the years 2016-2018, Lisa installed her husband as both the vice president and the newsletter editor. She appointed a friend to another board position. She amended the Articles of Incorporation with the Arizona Corporation Commission, the first time in our history, according to available records, that it was ever done. She officially removed Vijaya as a board member, according to documents submitted to the Arizona Corporation Commission. Those years saw the loss of our members' website, which had been built up over many years. The newsletter ceased publication for an entire year. The contest was a mess; at one point a member was asked to throw her packet of submissions “over the fence and into the backyard” without any idea of where it landed, or even if it was the right backyard, given the difficulty of navigating behind Lisa’s Paradise Valley home. Most disheartening of all, we lost many of our members during this period. 
Exiled from the association, Connie Osterlitz, Cherie Lee, and Vijaya Schartz, at Toby Heathcotte's house for critique group meeting.
When Toby and Vijaya attempted to create a new organization, they were threatened with legal action for the use of a name that had belonged to the Arizona Authors Association, but never used. They changed names and forged on. I joined them in their Facebook group, along with Jane Ruby, Connie Osterlitz, and others. 

Rebuilding Stronger Than Ever 

Vijaya Schartz & Russel Azbill - 2019 Awards Banquet
Eventually, night passes and the dawn comes. Russell Azbill took over as president in September of 2018. When I was asked by Toby in early 2019 to return to the Arizona Authors Association, I discovered that the four of us were all reinstated with full rights restored, so I gratefully accepted. By then, Toby had returned to serve as vice president. It was like a belated Christmas present, since I had dearly loved this organization for more than a decade. Toby asked me to take over as newsletter editor, which I was glad to do. 

Since then, the organization has once again risen from the ashes. Considering this, perhaps it's appropriate that it's based in the Phoenix metro area. We are working on rebuilding the website as a professional tool for all of our members. We have created a newsletter of which I am proud. We are continuing to reconstruct all of the things that made the Arizona Authors Association such an important part of the Arizona writers' landscape for the past 42 years. As we continue forward, we know that no matter what, we will endure as long as there are people who love this association and realize its immense value. 

The current Board of Directors includes Russell Azbill as president, Toby Heathcotte as vice president, Jane Ruby as secretary and contest coordinator, Debbie Weiland as treasurer, myself as newsletter editor, and rounded out by board member Nicolas Lagrande. Many others, including Dick Waters, Connie Osterlitz and more, volunteer in various capacities. Vijaya Schartz is in charge of the AAA blog. Together with other member volunteers, we strive to be just as vital and thriving as we were in the days of Boye De Mente's presidency. 

Kathleen Cook
In 2008 when I joined Arizona Authors Association, I hadn't written or edited in nearly a year. Now, twelve years later, I can't remember a single week when I haven't done both. That is the benefit that I have received from this wonderful association. By remembering this history, we can look forward to even greater heights in the future. We're on track. With increasing membership and the website and newsletter available to all members, we will soon see what Vijaya and Toby saw in January of 1998, despite few members and a savings balance of a hundred dollars in the association's account. They envisioned a dream of what the Arizona Authors Association could be, with their tireless efforts, love and uncanny knack for leadership. I share that dream. 

Kathleen Cook
Editor of the Arizona Authors Association Newsletter

Monday, September 7, 2020

Arizona Authors Association history 2006-2016 - by Kathleen Cook

Going Forward 2006-2016 

Toby Heathcotte, President 2006-2015
By the end of her presidency, Vijaya Schartz had instituted changes designed to keep the association healthy far into the future. Vice President Toby Heathcotte took over the presidency in 2006 and shared those goals. She worked diligently to maintain and increase the success that she and Vijaya had initiated. The board at the time included Vice President Scott Jones, Secretary Mali Berger, Contest Coordinator Greta Manville, as well as officers Kiki Swanson, Karen Kundin, Vijaya Schartz and Sandra Bowen. Although Vijaya stepped down from the presidency when her writing career took off, she still maintained the website and the membership rolls until 2016. 

Kathleen Cook
When I first met Toby in 2008, I attended an Arizona Authors Association workshop designed to help authors hone their craft. I happened to see a flier at a local grocer and thought, "Well, you're a writer and editor who hasn't written or edited in nearly a year. What are you waiting for?" Toby had spent years before an audience, first as a high school teacher in speech and drama and later as a speaker at various events and workshops, and it showed. She radiated warmth and expertise, and shortly thereafter, I became a member. 

In February of 2009 I attended a workshop given at the Glendale home of Vijaya Schartz. She exuded professionalism and a sincere desire to help her workshop attendees. When I discovered that she was a former president of the Arizona Authors Association, I knew I had found the right people and the right home to revitalize my career. The association helped me to regain confidence and just a few months later, I joined Demand Studios as a copy writer/editor. 

Toby has felt an affinity with her ancestors since childhood, which was only strengthened by psychic experiences. These experiences prompted her to study reincarnation and psychic phenomena. In every endeavor, Toby brings a sensitivity and unique insight. So she did during her tenure as president of the Arizona Authors Association, which lasted from 2006 to 2016, which is the longest tenure of any president. Over the course of those years she organized numerous workshops, some of which she also conducted. She manned the booths at book fairs, signings, and many of the events which attracted authors throughout the state. 

Toby and Vijaya at the 2007 Arizona Literary Banquet

For the first time in 2015, Toby arranged to secure a table at the Arizona State Library Association Conference. Another event she attended during her tenure was the annual Tucson Festival of Books. Members were able to advertise their work in the association's booth at very little cost. Such perks, expanded by Vijaya and expanded again by Toby, helped to retain members and make the Arizona Authors Association such a valuable resource. Under Toby's leadership, she reported that the AAA secured "a grant from the City of Glendale to do a series of workshops with about a dozen writers, culminating in one by Diana Gabaldon." 

It was during Toby's presidency that the newsletter saw its greatest changes. It switched from a paper newsletter snail mailed to all members to an online publication, thereby saving the association thousands of dollars. Regular columns included President's Corner, Member Spotlight and my own column, The Inevitable Author. Ken Weene's column and his Open Mic events attracted more members. Book releases each spanned a whole page in full color. Cherie Lee served as the newsletter editor. She learned to master Microsoft Publisher and put out a professional online product bimonthly, at a time when few others had the expertise to accomplish it. 

The Arizona Authors Association website thrived under Toby's leadership and Vijaya's proficiency as webmistress. The easy-to-use website boasted a welcoming and professional front page, a fully usable forum, and expertly designed members' pages, which were easy to load and fully interactive. At the time of Toby's departure, the website, newsletter, and workshops were a few of the biggest accomplishments of the association. Toby left the presidency and the organization in good shape for the succeeding administration in January of 2016.

Next time, we'll explore the dark years of 2016 to 2018 and the resurgence that followed.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

New Release: MALAIKA'S SECRET - Byzantium Book 3 - Sci-fi Romance by Vijaya Schartz


 amazon  -  B&N  -  Smashwords  -  Kobo

Special Agent Tyler Conrad works security undercover on the Byzantium Space Station and adheres to a strict moral code. When strange beings with wings are murdered, and a dangerous lion wanders the station’s indoor streets, Tyler’s investigation leads him to a mysterious woman, who could make him break all his rules and get them both killed.

Forbidden to love, the beautiful Malaika, guardian of the glowing crystal in the temple of the Formless One, is an illegal mind-reader who hides perilous secrets. She has seen the great evil coming to Byzantium but must hide her extraordinary abilities or perish with her people.

When Admiral Mort Lowell, a hybrid Tenebran nicknamed the Vampire, makes a surprise visit to Byzantium, Tyler knows something wicked is afoot…

This book is #3 in the Byzantium Space Station series, but all books in the series are standalones. Here are the previous books:  amazon  -  B&N  -  Smashwords  -  Kobo


Vijaya Schartz, author
 Strong heroines, brave heroes, cats, romance with a kick
 amazon  B&N  -  Smashwords  -  Kobo

Monday, August 31, 2020

History of the Arizona Authors Association 1998-2005 - by Kathleen Cook

Resurgence 1998-2005 - Vijaya Schartz's presidency

Vijaya Schartz, with encouragement and a great deal of help from Toby Heathcotte, took on the leadership role and helped to put the organization firmly on its feet once again. She filed the ACC form more than a year late but was granted a waiver from penalties. Here's how Vijaya describes that period of our history: 

"At that time neither Toby nor I were board members. The lack of leadership had led to a fiasco. No newsletter, no meetings, and loss of all members but 30. The literary contest had been announced in various publications far in advance, so the mailbox was full of unopened entries. Previous entries had been opened, the checks cashed, but nothing done about organizing judges... and the deadline to announce the finalists had come. Toby and I volunteered for the board and convinced the board members to vote out the president. Toby asked me to run for president and she ran for VP. And quickly we realized the other board members didn't want to do anything. So we had to clean up the mess ourselves. First, we had to cancel the contest. Toby went through the contest entries. She had to return them all and refund the entry fees that had been cashed. 

“I went through the finances. There was no money left. From the minimal files we retrieved, I took on membership, created a roster and contacted previous members, inviting them to rejoin. I also created and implemented our first website to feature our members. It made membership more attractive to members who weren't tech savvy and didn't have their own website. We featured a page for each published member with a portrait, a bio, a cover and link to all of their published books. 

"Then I created a newsletter and made sure all our members' successes and publishing credits were acknowledged, which was not easy, since most of our members at the time weren't familiar with email. I also created a blog for the association to feature its members. Then Toby reorganized the contest and we listed it in many publications to insure our next contest would get entries. We reformed the disbanded critique groups. 
Critique group meeting at Vijaya's house in the early 2000s
"We also designed and printed membership and contest flyers and distributed them far and wide in the Arizona writing community. At the time, we also sent press releases to local newspapers, listed our meetings in local calendars and recruited new members, but still no luck with recruiting volunteers for the board. Toby was successful in securing judges; the website and the blog did attract new members, and soon, we were on the way to recovery." 

Toby Heathcotte
During her tenure, Vijaya, with Toby as her vice president, attracted a robust membership and increased revenues and savings. During her second year, the money collected from the contest, membership dues, etc, was $7,166.25. When she left office in 2006, receipts had nearly doubled to a little over $14,000. Together, Toby and Vijaya welcomed the services of Linda Radke to design an even better professional website. 

At the time of Vijaya's inauguration, the Arizona Authors Association still mailed their newsletters out to their members. Costs for mailings, printing and postage stood at approximately $4,000 per year. These costs soared to nearly $5900 by 2006, reflecting the increased membership. Vijaya extended the reach of the Arizona Authors Association by doubling the number/dollar value of prizes for the contest and attracting more members with workshops, seminars, exhibits, book signings, and of course, the annual awards banquet. Due to Vijaya's leadership, the Arizona Authors Association was back on the road to the heyday enjoyed by Boye De Mente during his presidency. 

Patricia L Brooks
Patricia L. Brooks, a longtime AAA member, recalls that Kiki Swanson oversaw the selection of guest speakers many years ago. Patricia conducted workshops during this period and said that the association met monthly at the time, at various places such as the church on Hayden and Osborn (Scottsdale Presbyterian Church at 3421 N. Hayden in Scottsdale), as well as a location near North Mountain in Phoenix. She writes: 

"I remember early on, 20 years ago, a group of us participating in the Phoenix Book Festival at the Carnegie Library at the Heritage Square, and at the Prescott Book Festival at the Sharlott Museum. The Phoenix one was huge with stages and national speakers and the Prescott one was smaller. The group had a booth and we shared space at both, or we had our own tables and supported each other." 

Concerning the website and banquet, Patricia observes: “I felt the website was a real plus and well maintained and I am sure Vijaya was on top of that most of the time. We did AAA member conducted workshops for many years, as recently as 2019, had the Literary Contest as we do now, but it seems to me it was much larger and utilized nationally. I did win for my first memoir and was pleased about that, but not able to attend the dinner. A friend attended for me and said it was a great night. I still have the Literary Magazine from that night - I found it today – dated Fall 2006 and photos by Heather Kirk whom I know as a designer. It was $10 at the time and in B/W. Greta Manville was the contest coordinator. Marcia Fine was also a winner and is still a friend of mine." 

Jeri Castronova
Jeri Castronova, PhD, author, artist and clinical psychologist, shared her first memories of the Arizona Authors Association under Vijaya's presidency: "I joined after moving to Prescott, just finishing my first book, a self-help book for women titled Paint the Sky and Dance: Women and the New Myths. Based on my work at Napa State Hospital and my love of poetry/storytelling, it offers guidelines for creating new personal myths and stories to overcome trauma and past behavioral and addictive disorders. The book and workbook are used by many therapists. 

"Vijaya was President and I’d drive down to the always interesting workshops. I joined the Prescott writers group and later became president. We’d have Valley authors come and speak at our monthly meetings and all would say they loved coming to Prescott. At one meeting Lisa Schnebly talked about her great grandmother, Sedona Schnebly, a fascinating woman whose spirit even now graces us with her presence in her land. Our group was lively and enjoyed hearing AAA authors speak about their books, marketing, publicity, and self-publishing. I participated in several Book Fairs with the AAA. 

"When I moved to Sedona, I continued my role on the Prescott board. When Toby asked me to be the Arizona Authors Association High Country liaison, I accepted and we would offer various workshops and talks quarterly. Since Sedona didn’t have a writers group, at least an organized one, the authors here jumped at our meetings. Sedona has many writers and a few of us have recently organized into a monthly group called Sedona Pen and Brush. 

"I finished my second book, Code of the King: A Deadly Search for Ancient Wisdom, Book 1 of a mystical thriller trilogy. Marilyn June Janson, AAA member, was kind enough to write a review. The book was an award winner in the AAA contest for published fiction. I attended the banquet with my editor, Kris Neri, renowned mystery author. What an honor to receive an award for doing something I love." 

Vijaya’s presidency ended with the year 2005, but she remained on the board. She had instituted changes designed to keep the Arizona Authors Association healthy far into the future. 

Next time, we’ll explore the years beyond 2005.

Monday, August 24, 2020

History of the Arizona Authors Association 1978-1997 - by Kathleen Cook

Years after De Mente founded the association in 1978, Mali Berger served as its secretary. She had taught American literature in Michigan universities before moving to Fountain Hills, Arizona, where she published both novels and children’s books. While serving as secretary, she interviewed Boye De Mente at his home in Paradise Valley and asked him about this early period of the Arizona Authors Association history. According to that article: 

"De Mente was chosen as the first president of the AAA by unanimous vote. In addition to inaugurating a monthly newsletter, he also took the lead in sponsoring spring and fall seminars whose speakers included famous authors, agents, editors, publishers and book distributors from around the country. By the end of its first year the AAA had over 400 members. The following year De Mente initiated an annual Arizona Literary Contest and the Arizona Literary Magazine." 

David Rich recalls one of those famous early guest speakers, Zig Ziglar, a motivational guru whose meteoric rise earned him a place among the world's best-selling authors. One of Zig's famous quotes was, "You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want." Another quote from Zig has been repeated for decades: "You don't have to be great at something to start, but you have to start to be great at something." 

De Mente served as the president of the Association for the next seven years, through 1985. He also continued as head of his company, Phoenix Books/Publishers, and sold AAA members' books through all of the major American book chains and also abroad to chains in Australia, Europe, South Africa and Japan. Eventually, however, the urge to travel and write became too great, and he stepped down from his position as president of the Arizona Authors Association.

Although some of the records are lost from the earliest days following De Mente's departure, we do know that Bill Bodell served on the Board from 1989 until the mid-90s. Another Board member, Mary Westheimer, served for a time starting in 1994.

Iva Lee Martin took over as president in April of 1995. Iva was the author of several stories in the anthology Chalkboard Dust: Twenty Six True Stories About Students As Remembered By Their Teachers. A long-time teacher in the Phoenix public school system before turning to writing about her students, she lived in Phoenix. Her Vice President at the time was Sandra Harnagel of Scottsdale, who first earned that position in 1992. Her secretary was Jack Benninger, who also took office in 1992. 

Gerry Benninger, Jack's wife, took over as president of the Arizona Authors Association in 1997; Jack remained as secretary. Gerry was born in 1942 in Colorado and worked as a freelance writer, poet, book editor, reviewer and teacher. She had a column in Romantic Times Magazine, a popular romance fiction magazine started in 1981 and ceased publication in 2018. Gerry was a graduate of ASU and the University of San Francisco; the latter is where she earned a degree in Theology at the age of 60. 

Gerry withdrew from her tasks as president of the Arizona Authors Association in 1998 when she moved out of state, but remained on the Board until her death in 2005. She turned the Association presidency over to a friend who had no experience as an author. During that time, membership declined and the organization faced a rough patch. 

The Association did not file a report with the Arizona Corporation Commission, as was due each year in April. The bank balance in December of 1997 was over three thousand dollars; a year later it had plummeted to little more than a hundred dollars. For the first time, the literary contest had to be canceled and refunds given for entry fees. 

In the next post, we'll feature the resurgence of 1998.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

A little grammatical humor gleaned from a Facebook post by Ted Tarkow

     • An Oxford comma walks into a bar where it spends the evening watching the television getting drunk and smoking cigars.

    • A dangling participle walks into a bar. Enjoying a cocktail and chatting with the bartender, the evening passes pleasantly.

• A bar was walked into by the passive voice.

• An oxymoron walked into a bar, and the silence was deafening.

• Two quotation marks walk into a “bar.”

• A malapropism walks into a bar, looking for all intensive purposes like a wolf in cheap clothing, muttering epitaphs and casting dispersions on his magnificent other, who takes him for granite.

• Hyperbole totally rips into this insane bar and absolutely destroys everything.

• A question mark walks into a bar?

• A non sequitur walks into a bar. In a strong wind, even turkeys can fly.

• Papyrus and Comic Sans walk into a bar. The bartender says, "Get out -- we don't serve your type."

• A mixed metaphor walks into a bar, seeing the handwriting on the wall but hoping to nip it in the bud.

• A comma splice walks into a bar, it has a drink and then leaves.

• Three intransitive verbs walk into a bar. They sit. They converse. They depart.

• A synonym strolls into a tavern.

• At the end of the day, a clichΓ© walks into a bar -- fresh as a daisy, cute as a button, and sharp as a tack.

• A run-on sentence walks into a bar it starts flirting. With a cute little sentence fragment.

• Falling slowly, softly falling, the chiasmus collapses to the bar floor.

• A figure of speech literally walks into a bar and ends up getting figuratively hammered.

• An allusion walks into a bar, despite the fact that alcohol is its Achilles heel.

• The subjunctive would have walked into a bar, had it only known.

• A misplaced modifier walks into a bar owned a man with a glass eye named Ralph.

• The past, present, and future walked into a bar. It was tense.

• A dyslexic walks into a bra.

• A verb walks into a bar, sees a beautiful noun, and suggests they conjugate. The noun declines.

• A simile walks into a bar, as parched as a desert.

• A gerund and an infinitive walk into a bar, drinking to forget.

• A hyphenated word and a non-hyphenated word walk into a bar and the bartender nearly chokes on the irony.

Thanks, Ted, for the laughs.πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Monday, August 17, 2020

How the Ariona Authors Association started - by Kathleen Cook

As the current newsletter editor, I felt it only appropriate to celebrate the 42nd anniversary of our first publication, in August of 1978, with a special feature. I'd like to start with a brief history of our founder, Boye De Mente.

Flamboyant and brilliant, De Mente was born in the tiny town of Mayberry, Missouri, in 1928. At age 13 he worked in an ice cream parlor and was given permission to eat all the ice cream he wanted. It was there that he first practiced discipline, limiting himself to one peppermint ice cream per week.

Throughout the years, that discipline served him well. He skipped a grade in elementary school and worked as a bell hop for a local hotel through his high school years. He earned extra credits by taking on more courses than average and graduated high school in less Boye De Mente Founded than three years. Immediately after graduation, the teenager joined the Navy, serving first in 1946 on the USS Fillmore and then at the Cryptographer School in Washington, D.C.

Due to his family name, he was mistaken for Hispanic and sent to the Spanish Language Department of the NCSA, in Naval intelligence. Following his naval discharge, De Mente enlisted in the ASA, or Army Security Agency. With his cryptology background, he earned promotions and again was assigned to Washington D.C., where he operated the big, bulky computers, state of the art in those days, designed to decipher codes.

Because of his Spanish experience, he expected to be shipped to Latin America, but he was instead assigned to Japan. He served on a team of code breakers at the ASA Tokyo headquarters. In 1950 when the Korean War flared, President Truman extended every enlisted man's service by up to eighteen months, which kept De Mente in Tokyo for an extra year and a half. It was during this time that his natural talent for writing came to the forefront. He founded a newspaper called the ASA Star. From that point on, he never stopped writing.

De Mente published the nonfiction book, Japanese Simplified, during his time with the ASA. He created a phonetic system for pronunciation that cut the time needed for Americans to learn the language. He earned two years' credit from Jochi University in Tokyo before he was discharged in 1952 and sent back to the states. He then hitchhiked to Phoenix and enrolled in the American Institute for Foreign Trade (now known as the Thunderbird School of Global Management). After graduating in 1953, he returned to Tokyo, earning degrees from Jochi University in both Japanese and economics.

In 1954, De Mente edited Preview Magazine. Published in Tokyo, it was the second largest English language magazine in the region, superseded only by Reader's Digest. He later served as editor of The Japan Times, then the largest English language newspaper in Japan. While working in that capacity he met Ben Carlin, an Australian with an amphibious jeep who was determined to circle the globe. Ben invited him to share part of the journey in the vehicle, the Half-Safe, named after a popular deodorant. They would travel from Japan to Alaska in the jeep.

Boye later recalled, "I was holding down two jobs and still not making decent money, and I had two very jealous girlfriends who had just met and were on the warpath, so I decided that getting out of town was the smartest thing I could do!"

That treacherous voyage was chronicled in De Mente's book, Once a Fool: From Tokyo to Alaska by Amphibious Jeep. Featured in the Saturday Evening Post and Life Magazine, the voyage even made the Guinness Book of World Records.

De Mente decided to recuperate from the trip in his old haunt, Phoenix, but he was soon asked to take an editor's job in Tokyo again, as chief of a new magazine called Oriental America. He took his new bride, Margaret, with him. Within months, the name of the magazine was changed to The Importer, which became the leading trade journal in Japan. The Importer provided a vital link between businesses in Japan, the US and Europe. One of the companies served by De Mente's publication was Tsushin Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha, which five years later, was shortened to Sony. The company grew in tandem with The Importer magazine.

After many more successes, Boye, Margaret, and their daughter Dawn Ruby, returned to Phoenix in 1962. A second daughter, Demetra, was born in Arizona. De Mente wrote full time and eventually established Phoenix Books/Publishers, to publish both his and other Arizona authors' works. During the ten years between the start of that operation and the founding of the Arizona Authors Association, De Mente received numerous calls from authors all over the state, asking him for advice on writing, publishing and marketing.

He knew that Arizona needed an organization to address these and many other questions from first -time authors. He suggested the idea to his friend, David Rich, an attorney, world traveler and writer. Together, they worked out a charter for the association in March of 1978. Here's how David describes that period:

"Boye De Mente and I formed the AAA in the late 70s. I incorporated AAA as a nonprofit with the Arizona Corporation Commission and wrote its first bylaws. We were an active organization with monthly seminars on many aspects of writing, with me presenting on legal issues. We didn't have the contests that you have now. We were one of the organizations featured in a publication listing the top civic organizations in AZ ... sometime in the 80s."

At the time, Diamond's Department Store in the Park Central Shopping Mall in downtown Phoenix sponsored an Author's Day for Arizona authors with published books. The event, taking place annually each spring, drew many authors from around the state. De Mente contacted the woman in charge of this event and discussed the possibility of forming an organization to help Arizona authors and provide professional support. The woman gave him the store's mailing list, accumulated through years of hosting this event.

De Mente then contacted all of the authors on the mailing list and said, "Hey guys, let's form an authors association." He chose a hotel conference room on the west side of Phoenix to host an event the following month. There were around seventy-five people at the first meeting, and nearly all of them signed up for membership in the Arizona Authors Association.

More to come on the history of our association in future posts.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Brief history of the written word - Part three of three - by Vijaya Schartz

In the two previous parts of this article, we talked about the origins of writing in Asia, India, cuneiform writing in the Middle East, and hieroglyphic writing in Egypt, and the gradual switch from graphic representation of objects to the use of sound symbols, then letters. The first alphabet, created by the Phoenicians in the 8th century BC, was borrowed by the Greek then adapted by the Romans, and imposed through their conquest all over Europe. We now had the power of writing almost anything, any language, with an infinity of possibilities.

During the dark ages and the early Middle Ages in Europe, only the clergy, nobles, and government officials could read and write. Educating the masses was considered dangerous and sometimes evil. Only the clergy was allowed to read the Bible, for fear of misinterpretation. Most religious and political documents were penned in Latin, which, after the downfall of Rome, was still understood, if not fluently spoken, by the nobility and the literate elite throughout the Christian world. Books were handwritten in calligraphy on parchment and heavily decorated, usually by monks. These books were labor intensive, very costly, and not available to the population at large. 

The layman’s knowledge, however, was still imparted through oral tradition from elders to younger members of society. The intricacies of seasonal planting, weaving, sewing, tanning, preserving food, and other everyday activities were often condensed into how-to songs, learned in childhood and later taught to children and grandchildren. The rhyming and the melody made the task description easy to remember.

Storytellers memorized and retold in songs epic battles and important moments in history, like the song of Roland. Many African and Polynesian tribes still use song and dance to impart knowledge of historic events and storytelling. 

But the Latin alphabet also allowed writing in one’s native tongue. With the advent of commerce, trading and shipping companies required written records in everyday language. So did transmission of orders to armies far from home, and communication with conquered territories in the East during the Crusades. Hand writing on parchment spread among the higher middle class. 

In 1440, thanks to Gutenberg in Germany, and his invention of the printing press with removable characters, books could be mass-produced, and the written word became affordable. 

Soon, the Italian Renaissance saw the creation of many new schools and rich patrons financed the arts. Then Europe saw an explosion of knowledge, culture, arts, and considerable advancement of science, engineering, mathematics, and philosophy. 

Writing and designs of Leonardo da Vinci
Nowadays, most everyone can read and write and has access to books on every topic, but we are left with a different problem. We have come a long way from writing only the most important truths of our time. Writing has gone from sacred, to important, to artistic, to sometimes frivolous and trivial. 

With basic education, anyone can express thoughts and opinions about everything in writing. We are dealing with an overload of information from an infinity of individual sources. Fortunately, our sophisticated computers can handle that immense load, and when someone cusses on social media in Canada, someone in Japan can let them know it’s not okay. 😊 

Since the advent of Social Media, we also have derived other forms of written communication in abbreviations for texting, and emojis to express feelings. Universal binary language uses zeros and ones. Computers invent their own languages to communicate with each other. Someone even wrote an entire story in emoji symbols. 

I also heard that some law-makers are thinking about getting rid of cursive and lowercase in schools to keep only block letters. Can’t wait to hear my characters screaming at me in ALL CAPS. What’s next? Getting rid of punctuation? Shakespeare must be turning in his grave. 😊 

As a writer of sci-fi and fantastic legends, I predict that one day, if we do not destroy ourselves first, Earth will have only one language made up of mixed words and abbreviations and writing styles from various old countries, with one unified alphabet of simple characters everyone will understand.

alien writing on an I-beam fragment found at the Roswell crash site.
I only hope that despite this unification, we manage to keep the wonderful variety of cultures, and the colorful traditions of all the people of Earth, along with their best recipes, dances, costumes, and favorite games.

In the meantime, you are welcome to check out my books. Here is my Celtic Legend series, CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE. Find it everywhere in eBook or paperback. 

From history shrouded in myths, emerges a family of immortal Celtic Ladies, who roam the medieval world in search of salvation from a curse. For centuries, imbued with hereditary gifts, they hide their deadly secret, stirring passions in their wake as they fight the Viking hordes, send the first knights to the Holy Land, give birth to kings and emperors... but if the Church ever suspects what they really are, they will be hunted, tortured, and burned at the stake.

5 stars on Amazon "Edgy Medieval. Yay!"


Happy reading.

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes
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