Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Vijaya Schartz, top bestselling author at the BWL Publishing house for 2020


Just learned that my Canadian publisher, BWL Publishing, named me as one of their ten top bestselling authors for 2020.

BWL is a mid-size traditional press in print and ebooks. I have been published by them for ten years. They presently publish about thirty of my novels. They are not looking for new authors at this time. 

Although 2020 wasn't the best year for me, I feel honored and happy to be part of the BWL family.

Vijaya Schartz, author

Monday, January 11, 2021


 Fantastic stories of superheroes with great powers are the product of our imagination. But what if we could extend our natural abilities, by opening and using more areas of our brains? 

The consensus among scientific circles is that we only use 10% of our brains. Our brain can control our cells, tell them how and when to reproduce and regenerate. When we heal from a wound, we grow new skin and tissues to repair the damage. 

By using more of our brains, we might be able to regrow entire limbs, like lizards grow back tails. Or we could change our appearance, like chameleons change color and some sea creatures shapeshift and morph to mimic a specific background. 

Dolphins are very intelligent and friendly to Humans. They use 20% of their brain, and they developed a natural sonar system more sophisticated than what the US military can produce. 

We can program our brains to think positively, creatively. Prayer is known to speed healing. Focused meditation can also accelerate the process. Many cancer patients recovered faster than others when they use prayer or focused meditation. 

In the movie LUCY, an unwilling drug mule is contaminated with a mind enhancing substance that opens her brain. As she uses more and more of her brain capacity, she can manipulate her body, shapeshift, read others’ minds, manipulate matter, link with electronic devices, control time, etc. Farfetched? Not so much. 

Great minds of recent times, like Stephen Hawking, publicly acknowledged taking brain enhancing drugs to achieve greater understanding of the laws of the universe. Shamans claim to access other planes of consciousness and possibly contact with faraway entities, through focused meditation and the use of substances that open unexplored parts of their brain. 

Some abilities, considered as supernatural powers, could be achieved by conditioning our brains through meditation or other methods. By opening and using the regions of our brain we do not presently use, we could learn to manipulate the forces around us. Some people study and practice to master abilities like telekinesis, mind-reading, mind-to-mind communication at a distance, and levitation… abilities Tibetan monks already achieve through meditation. 

Some Tibetan Lamas also practice what they call the Rainbow ritual at the end of their lives. They meditate for a week straight without food, sleep, or water. During that time, their bodies shrink considerably and emit light, until they dissolve into visible rainbow light that ascends, which is the possible origin for the term enlightenment. They leave behind only a desiccated shell the size of a tiny child. 

In stories and movies, like Star Wars, enlightened beings, like the most realized Jedi, also dissolve into light as they die, with no body left behind. This is not as farfetched as you might think. It could be imprinted in our DNA. In nature, nothing is lost, it only transforms and recycles or transforms into pure energy… like fire produces heat and light. 

Science also might speed the process and make cyborgs of us, implanting electronic markers and communication devices directly into our bodies and our brains. Making connections directly from our brains to computers is not impossible. Some people already have imbedded electronics in their body. Amputated patients can control an artificial arm or leg with their mind.

Will all Humans have supernatural abilities in the future? Shall we attain quasi-immortality? It’s a distinct possibility. Science fiction authors already explore this landscape. In my stories, a few characters have natural or cybernetic abilities we cannot yet achieve. 

Here are a few suggestions for entertaining reads set in such a future.

Available from your favorite retailer HERE

Winner Arizona Literary Awards, Fiction, 2019

Something’s rotten on the angel planet. When Avenging Angels turn up dead, Urielle, their Legion Commander, suspects the handsome intruder brought unspeakable evil to Azura.

Maksou never met a woman he couldn’t seduce. He came to the forbidden planet to rescue his friends and get rich in the process, but the jungle crawls with lethal life forms… including a gorgeous warrior angel, who saves his life but keeps him prisoner and challenges his irresistible charm.

Urielle, sworn to protect Azura at all costs, has no use for a maverick who ignores the rules and endangers the planet… no matter how attractive. Especially when the Galactic Trade Alliance (GTA) wages a secret war to get their greedy hands on the priceless crystal at Azura’s core.

Find Akira's Choice HERE

When bounty hunter Akira Karyudo accepted her assignment, something didn't add up. Why would the Galactic Trade Alliance want a young kidnapped orphan dead or alive?

She will get to the truth once she finds the boy, and the no-good SOB who snatched him from a psychiatric hospital. With her cheetah, Freckles, a genetically enhanced feline retriever, Akira sets out to flush them out of the bowels of the Byzantium space station. But when she finds her fugitives, the kidnapper is not what she expects.

Kazmo, a decorated Resistance fighter, stole his nephew from the authorities, who performed painful experiments on the boy. Stuck on Byzantium, he protects the child, but how can he shield him from the horribly dangerous conditions in the lawless sublevels of the space station?

Akira faces the worst moral dilemma of her career. Law or justice, duty or love. She can't have it both ways.

"Wow! If readers want to see and feel and believe they are in deep space, then ‘Akira's Choice’ is the perfect choice! With a touch of romance, the vivid descriptions and beautifully developed characters masterfully presented by Schartz create a virtual world that invite the reader not merely to observe, but to walk amongst them and participate... This is a delicate art, and Schartz wields her weapons with precision and skill. Banzai!" 5 stars - exceptional - recommended read - Ind'tale Magazine

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

Thursday, January 7, 2021

The Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference

 Desert Nights, Rising Stars

The Desert Nights, Rising Stars
Writers Conference

Virtual Writing Conference 
February 18-20, 2021

The conference this year takes place online due to Covid19. There will be more than fifty workshops, panels, talks and other activities during the three days of the conference. If you register by December 31st, you’ll receive $50 off the regular price of $225 for all three days. (You may also register for one or two days at $150. per day.) 

A sample of the workshop topics include:
Folklore, Legend and Myth in Horror with Cynthia Pelayo 

Divinatory Poetics with Tanner Menard
Dodging Diversity Tropes in Children's Literature with Hena 

The Secret to Writing a Perfect Story with Evan Winter 

50 Editing Mistakes Authors Make with Chantelle Aimee Osman 

Sunday, January 3, 2021

The Difference Between Writing Fiction and Non-Fiction by J.Q.Rose

About J.Q. Rose 

Whether the story is fiction or non-fiction, J.Q. Rose is “focused on story.” She offers readers chills, giggles and quirky characters woven within the pages of her mystery novels. Her published mysteries are Deadly Undertaking, Terror on Sunshine Boulevard and Dangerous Sanctuary released by Books We Love Publishing. Using her storytelling skills, she provides entertainment and information with articles featured in books, magazines, newspapers, and online magazines. 

J.Q. taught elementary school for several years and never lost the love for teaching passed down from her teacher grandmother and mother. She satisfies that aspect of her character by presenting workshops on Writing Your Life Story.

* * *

I have written mysteries to entertain readers and myself. Making up a story is so much fun. The writer can write about alien worlds, fantasy, zombies, contemporary romance and no one cares if it's true. Readers are willing to dispel their disbelief and step into the world of make-believe. 

A memoir, also known as creative non-fiction, is so different from writing fiction. The story tells the truth about real life. That is difficult for a fiction writer! A memoir only covers a slice of life, not the entire person's life from beginning to present. 

New release from JQ Rose, get it HERE

I wrote my memoir about the year we moved to Michigan in December 1975 to purchase a flower shop and greenhouse operation. I thought this would be for my kids and grandkids to satisfy their curiosity. Not only to let them know about the "good ole days," but I also wanted to encourage our kids to dream big for their lives. To be entrepreneurs in the greenhouse business was our dream. 

We fell in love with a greenhouse operation in West Michigan, but it was attached to a flower shop. We knew nothing about operating a flower shop, and to be honest, my husband, Ted, had only worked in his little hobby greenhouse. Never in a commercial greenhouse business. We had lots to learn. 

The memoir includes elements of fiction such as character, conflict and setting. The main character in the story is me. The situation provided plenty of conflict with the previous owner. Not knowing a thing about business or floral design created anxiety about whether we could run a successful business. I was also a new mom who was insecure about taking care of a baby and filled with guilt choosing to go to work rather than staying at home with her. The setting was a small town, exactly like the ones in my mysteries, Deadly Undertaking and Dangerous Sanctuary. 

I have penned two novels based on my life story. Arranging a Dream: A Memoir is my true story. I interacted with real people in a real town, but I changed some of their names to protect their privacy. 

Deadly Undertaking
is based on my life experience. The setting of this romantic suspense is a funeral home. My dad was a funeral director. Many of the jobs I mentioned in the story are ones I did for my dad, such as dusting caskets, running errands and helping my mom set up flowers for visitations and church services. ( a foreshadowing of my future in the flower business??) But there was no murder or Henry the Shadow Man in my real life! 

I enjoyed writing both books, but the deep dive into looking back at my real life through the perspective of time proved to identify truths that I had never realized until I completed the book. The journey of writing a life story may be a difficult one, but a better understanding of one’s life brings satisfaction and a sense of wrapping up the loose ends in that period of life, similar to the satisfaction when reading the closing pages of a captivating fictional book.

Based on the lessons taught in her workshops, JQ created a book, Your Words, Your Life Story: a Journal for Sharing Memories to help life storytellers write, publish and market their stories. Find it on Amazon HERE

If you would like to write or record your life story/memoir, check out the Facebook Group, Telling Your Life Story and Memoirs Circle for encouragement and ways to spark memories. 

Aso find J.Q. Rose's page at BWL Publishing - Amazon - BLOGFB

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

NEW BOOK RELEASE by David Rich - Antelopes A Modern Gulliver’s Travels

Find this book on amazon HERE

Antelopes is a modern-day Gulliver’s Travels and a wicked comedy. Arizona lottery winners survive a plane crash on a remote tepui in Venezuela, forcing them to confront their own droll religious, sexual, nationalistic, and racial prejudices, which are mirrored by a technologically advanced society of antelopes.

About the author:

David Rich is GoNOMAD's most intrepid writer, braving blizzards, monsoons, desert heat and State Department travel advisories to visit the world's most out-of-the-way places from the Karakoram Mountains in Pakistan to the wilds of Borneo to the Harley-Davidson Rally Week in Sturgis, South Dakota. He lives in Glendale AZ where his latest passion is flying his own plane. Click the link to see all of his books, including RV the World, The Isis Affair and Myths of the Tribe on Amazon.

Find more on his website HERE

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Announcing the winners of the 2020 ARIZONA LITERARY AWARDS in the Published Novels category

A novel - by Ashley E. Sweeney


From the award-winning author of Eliza Waite comes a gripping tale of adventure and survival based on the true story of the ill-fated Donner Party on their 2,200-mile trek on the Oregon–California Trail from 1846 to ’47.

Nineteen-year-old Ada Weeks confronts danger and calamity along the hazard-filled journey to California. After a fateful decision that delays the overlanders more than a month, she―along with eighty-one other members of the Donner Party―finds herself stranded at Truckee Lake on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, stuck there for the entirety of a despairing, blizzard-filled winter. Forced to eat shoe leather and blankets to survive, will Ada be able to battle the elements―and her own demons―as she envisions a new life in California?

Researched with impeccable detail and filled with imagery as wide as the western prairie, Answer Creek blends history and hearsay in an unforgettable story of challenging the limits of human endurance and experiencing the triumphant power of love.


"Ada is every pioneer woman who accomplished more than she ever thought possible." - Booklist

"Ada is an impressive heroine who thinks for herself and exhibits moral courage in dire straits . . . [the novel] succeeds at capturing the endurance of the human spirit." - Publishers Weekly

"The author is a master of vivid descriptions, dragging readers along every wretched mile of the trail, sharing every dashed hope and every dramatic confrontation, with Ada as their guide. Ada is a marvelous creation, twice orphaned and both hopeful and fearful about a new life in California, the promised land... A vivid westward migration tale with an arresting mixture of history and fiction." - Kirkus Reviews

About the author:

Ashley is a seasoned journalist, teacher, and community activist. She served as a VISTA volunteer in the late 1970s and continues community service today as a member of Soroptimist International, one of the largest women’s advocacy organizations in the world.

Early in her career, Ashley found an outlet as a humor columnist and features editor for The Lynden Tribune in Lynden, Washington, where she garnered numerous awards for her writing. She has taught English, Journalism, English as Second Language, and GED prep at both the high school and community college levels.

A native New Yorker, Ashley is a graduate of Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., the Stanford Publishing Course, and City University in Seattle, Wash., where she earned a Masters of Education degree.

Ashley spends her time between La Conner, Washington and Tucson, Arizona with her husband D. Michael Barclay.

Find out more on her author website HERE


Orange Crush: A novel with zest

by Jan Tenery

Back east they called her Win, because she always did. Now, a twist of fate has brought stylish urbanite Martha Winfield to Arizona’s low desert, where she takes the unlikely job of managing Paul Harriman’s citrus orchard. Harriman is under scrutiny by a pair of private investigators who suspect he is involved with the Mexican drug cartel. When the new orchard manager arrives wearing high heels, senior PI agent Sonny Butterfield questions Harriman’s reasons for hiring her. Martha becomes a person of interest in the investigation, especially to Sonny’s young associate, Colton Frye, whose eye has been caught by the classy, curvaceous blonde. Suddenly, everyone’s motives and loyalties come into question. Whether victim or accomplice in Harriman’s scheme, Martha is certainly a complication in this humorous, fast-paced story about love, money, and other intoxicants.

About the author:

Jan Tenery began writing stories as a child while on the road with her military family. This wanderlust continued into adulthood, inspiring trips to such places as Africa and Australia. Some of her writing appeared in the college literary magazine at the University of Maine, where she studied mathematics. After a career in healthcare, she retired to Arizona to live on a seven-acre citrus farm, and there she wrote the first drafts of what would become her first two published novels, "Brass Roots" and "Orange Crush." Jan now lives in Oracle, Arizona. Primarily a novelist, she writes contemporary stories with a humorous lilt. Her current project is "Reading the Water," a novel about canoeing and fatherhood in the north Maine woods.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

NEW BOOK RELEASE by Mike Rothmiller - True Crime Chronicles Volume Two


What do Wyatt Earp, Belle Gunness, Big Foot the Renegade, Billy the Kid, and Dr. H.H. Holmes, and The Black Hand have in common?

They were all subjects of true crime newspaper reporting in the 1800s, and now these stories and that of many others are brought together in their original form in a two-volume set: TRUE CRIME CHRONICLES: Serial Killers, Outlaws, and Justice … Real Crime Stories From The 1800s.

Compiled and commented on by New York Times bestselling author Mike Rothmiller, these classic works of journalism resurrect astonishing stories that will take the reader back to when these horrific tales mesmerized a nation. Some may find these articles and their descriptions of people and crimes shocking by today’s standards, but they are representative of the most colorful true crime stories of the day.

TRUE CRIME CHRONICLES, Volume One, includes stories about Belle Gunness, who had a penchant for killing men and feeding them to her hogs, Dr. Holmes and his “murder castle,” The Bloody Benders, and Amelia Dyer, the “baby farmer,” the darker side of Wyatt Earp, and the forerunners of the American Mafia, “The Black Hand.” Imagine yourself accompanying these reporters visiting the crime scenes, interviewing witnesses, and penning the stories of murder, lynchings, evil, and swift frontier justice.

About the author:

Mike Rothmiller
is a New York Times Bestselling Author, nominee for the Pulitzer Prize, historian, former cop and Army medic. He’s also served as a TV reporter, an award winning documentary producer and television host for ESPN, PBS and other international television markets. He’s written and produced over 25 television documentaries, numerous TV and radio ads and has authored movie scripts. His nonfiction book, “My Hero. Military Kids Write About Their Moms and Dads” (St. Martin’s Press) received international acclaim and holds the honor of being the only book in history to have forwards written by three living Presidents and General Norman Schwarzkopf. He has served on numerous non-profit boards. Additionally, he’s been a corporate President/CEO and directed three divisions of Sony Electronics EMCS-America.

He’s authored 23 books and his most recent; Secrets, Lies and Deception….And Other Amazing Pieces of History was featured on Fox News and over 40 Television News Stations across America.

Readers of his books include; three Presidents, former First Lady Laura Bush, the late Charlton Heston and Queen Elizabeth II.

Find out more about Mike and his books  HERE

Friday, December 4, 2020


Since the origins of humanity, Humans have always been attracted by the stars, but why? 

Is it a deep-rooted desire to find our origins? Is it for the pure joy of exploration? Is it to colonize new territory throughout our solar system? Do we need to find a new home? Nowadays, some will say it’s a race for riches, to mine rare metals and other resources. 

In truth, it’s all of the above… and much, much more. 

Crew-1 mission astronauts, now on the ISS

On November 15, 2020, SpaceX captivated the world. Their Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon spacecraft launched NASA's Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station. Onboard were NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi. Earlier this year, on May 30, 2020, astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley participated in a preliminary test run of the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.

Dragon capsule cockpit

This historic success was achieved through the efforts of many scientists, engineers, and highly qualified personnel, too many to name here. It took the vision of Elon Musk and the creation of SpaceX to start an unprecedented mobilization of the private sector, and once again launch astronauts from US soil.
For the past twelve years, the only way to the ISS was via a Soyuz rocket, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Russian Kazakhstan desert. No longer will US astronauts have to rely on antiquated technology and foreign industries.  

Astronaut and cosmonauts before launch in Russia.

You might wonder about the practical repercussion of having a private company launching rockets into space. Amazing that the private sector can do what the government couldn’t. More cost-conscious than the military and other government funded projects, SpaceX developed a way to retrieve and reuse their rockets. They also get paid by private companies as well as NASA and foreign government agencies to launch their satellites and their astronauts. Among them, Argentina, Europe, Great Britain, Japan. Soon, space will become a tourist destination for the wealthy, contributing more funds to the program.

But, how does that impact our daily lives? Maybe it’s more relevant than you think. 

The ISS (International Space Station) soon to host visitors

The ISS scientific crew conduct various studies, like the behavior of germs and viruses in cold space, lack of oxygen, and no-gravity. Weather satellites are monitoring ocean levels, climate change, and many other indications of potential cataclysms (hurricanes, tsunami, earthquakes), for early detection and warning. 

Where do you think your new 5G phone service originates? It requires thousands of powerful satellites circling our planet. And that superfast internet of the future? It’s also thanks to SpaceX. They have launched 900 satellites to date, including mapping and communication satellites, as well as the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, the latest in a series of satellites to provide critical data about sea level rise and climate change. 

As for the future of space exploration, the possibilities are endless. I can’t wait to witness the next steps. 

First target is the closest, establishing a base on the moon… but the US is not ahead of the race. China already has a plan, some technology on the moon, and satellites circling it. Japan is developing a space program for the moon as well. 

NASA - Future base on Mars

Second target will be establishing a colony on Mars, then mining the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, then exploring the rest of our solar system. Later, when we develop faster than light technologies, we’ll venture farther into our galaxy to visit other star systems, and colonize other Earth-like planets. 

Mining the asteroid belt is coming sooner than you think

Will we run into aliens? Or other humanoids from elsewhere? I hope so. And if we do, will the public be told? With so many eyes in space, it will become more difficult for the governments to lie about extraterrestrial presence, or hide secret military projects. 

One day Humans will live on exoplanets

All this gives me ideas for more books. When large interplanetary companies own the rights to mine and exploit the many resources of other planets, each inhabited planet will become its own entity. As soon as they become self-sufficient, they’ll claim their independence, develop their own rules, laws, political systems, industries, customs. In all that chaotic progress, conflicts are bound to happen… even wars… especially in this solar system where humans are imperfect and planets are relatively close. Humans will no longer be from Earth, but from the system of planets orbiting our very own star, Sol. What shall we call ourselves, Solarians? 

I may not live long enough to see it all 😊. So, if or when I come back to this Earth in another body, I hope I’ll be able to live on other planets, like I lived in many countries of the world in this lifetime. I can’t wait to see Mars as a verdant paradise, enjoy the sights of Saturn rising over Titan’s dunes, or vacationing with an ice-fishing cruise on Ganymede.
The steps of terraforming Mars

In the meantime, I’ll keep writing books set on other earth-like planets and space stations. Here is my latest, MALAIKA’S SECRET, set on the Byzantium Space Station, at the fringe of conquered space.

Find this book at your favorite retailer 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…

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

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

New release: On Traigh Lar Beach: Stories - by Dianne Ebertt Beeaff


Erica Winchat, a young writer overwhelmed by the stress of her first book contract, discovers thirteen curious items tangled in the flotsam on the Scottish beach of Tràigh Lar. Erica tells the intriguing story of the owner of each of these items, uncovering a series of dramatic events—from a Chicago widow’s inspiring visit to Quebec City to a shrimper’s daughter facing Tropical Storm Ruby in North Carolina.

The thirteenth item, a concert laminate badge, inspires Erica’s novella Fan Girls, in which the separate stories of four fans of the Scottish rock band Datha unfold in first person, culminating in their reunion at a concert in Chicago—a show where a shooting takes place.

“Dianne Beeaff has a keen eye for specific settings and an uncanny ability to express the unique concerns of people from a broad spectrum of humanity. On Tràaigh Lar Beach deeply satisfies because its vivid descriptions pulled me into the characters’ experiences and kept me wondering until I reached each of her stories’ unexpected, but not illogical, conclusion.” Carol Sletten, author of Three Strong Western Women and Story of the American West: –Legends of Arizona

“On Tràigh Lar Beach is rich in lyrical prose and stunning detail and takes a poignant look at human connectedness, how unremarkable items are mirrors of lives an ocean apart, yet link us in the most human way.” Susan Haught, award-winning author of A Promise of Fireflies

About the Author:
Dianne Ebertt Beeaff is the award-winning author of five previous books. Her poetry, watercolors, graphite drawings, and magazine articles have been featured throughout the United States and Canada. Dianne and her husband, Dan, reside in Tucson and are the parents of two children.

Monday, November 30, 2020

2021 Arizona Literary Magazine: Winning Contest Entries

Get it from Amazon HERE

This annual literary magazine contains the winning entries of the 2020 Arizona Literary Contest in unpublished poetry, unpublished essay, unpublished short story, unpublished novel, published nonfiction, published fiction, and children's literature. Contributing authors are from Arizona and other states in this worldwide contest.

Monday, November 9, 2020

WHITE FRAGILITY - a book review by Mark D. Walker

Find this book on amazon HERE

So, this New York Times bestselling book, White Fragility, attracted me because the author is a recognized trainer and educator on racial and social justice issues. She deals head-on with white people who ignore race and are dealing with emotions like anger, fear and guilt, which often lead to argumentation and silence. More importantly, the author not only explains the phenomenon, but also explains how it protects racial inequality and what we, as a society, can do to engage more constructively.

DiAngelo starts with, “White people in North America live in a society that is deeply separate and unequal by race, and white people are the beneficiaries of that separation and inequality.” What she calls “white fragility” is born of a feeling of superiority and entitlement. “Discrimination is action based on prejudice. These actions include ignoring, exclusion, threats, ridicule, slander and violence…” “When a racial group’s collective prejudice is backed by the power of legal authority and institutional control, it is transformed into racism…” 

The author points out that, “Life in the United States is deeply shaped by racial segregation. Of all racial groups, whites are the most likely to choose segregation and are the group most likely to be in the social and economic position to do so. Growing up in segregation (our schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, shopping districts, places of worship, entertainment, social gatherings, and elsewhere) reinforces the message that our experiences and perspectives are the only ones that matter.” 

The author provides some “color blind statements,” which indicate that people do not see race: 

I was taught to treat everyone the same way
I don’t see color
Everyone struggles, but if they work hard…
I’m not racist; I’m from Canada 

Most importantly, the author provides some clear instructions on how to personally become an antiracist. “We can follow the leadership on antiracism from people of color, and work to build authentic cross-racial relationships. We can get involved in organizations working for racial justice. And most importantly, we must break the silence about race and racism with other white people.” Well, I have my marching orders! 

The book has been a New York Times best seller, and here is a thoughtful critique from The New Yorker: “The value in White Fragility lies in its methodical, irrefutable exposure of racism in thought and action, and its call for humility and vigilance.”

You can find the entire book reviews on my website under the “Library” tab. Please let me know what you think— about this newsletter, my reviews and most importantly, what you’re reading so I can ponder all of it and share some of your comments in my next column. You can email me at: or through my websites: Million Mile Guatemala Facebook

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Praise for Women Wronged edited by Toby Heathcotte

 Finalist in Guides, 2020 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards

Runner-up in Compilations, 2020 New York Book Festival

“This is a strong collection of essays. Each story weaves a tale of a woman overcoming some sort of oppression, such as sexism or discrimination, in their lives. The editor does a fantastic job of curating these essays. They certainly all have similar themes, but they each tell a unique story that adds to the overall collection.”

Judge, 27th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.

“Despite their trials, however, the authors provide hope and understanding to women today who are going through their own ordeals. Their messages spoke volumes - being a woman is not just about being beautiful, conforming to how others think you should be, or being less than others. I think these messages can reach more than just women and I am sure it can inspire many individuals.”

 Shannon Winings for Readers' Favorite

Monday, November 2, 2020

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents - a review by Mark D. Walker

The lockdown caused by COVID-19 has laid bare the growing inequalities and injustices in our social and economic systems today. Yet it offers a good opportunity to understand our foundations, as well as why so many white Americans seem willing to disregard the needs of their fellow citizens in order to maintain a system that benefits them so mightily, while ignoring and explaining away the suffering of others.

The public, excruciating murder of George Floyd sparked an awakening among many white people of our nation’s systemic racism, to acknowledge its power and longevity for over 400 years on this continent. Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling author, Isabel Wilkerson, examines the often unspoken caste system that has shaped America. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, shows how our lives are still impacted by a hierarchy of human divisions, which damages not only the Blacks at the bottom, but also the white population at the top of society today. In understanding this insidious system, I fully agree with Albert Einstein, who said, “If the majority knew of the root of this evil, then the road to its cure would not be long.” 

Wilkerson states, “American slavery, which lasted from 1619 to 1865, was not the slavery of ancient Greece or the illicit sex slavery of today. American slavery, by contrast, was legal and sanctioned by the state and a web of enforcers...” “For the first time in history, one category of humanity was ruled out of the ‘human race,’ and into a separate sub-group that was to remain enslaved for generations in perpetuity.” 

The author goes on to describe caste systems in India as well as in Nazi Germany, in order to broaden our understanding of how the system has developed in the U.S. And according to a spokesman for the German press agency, when the Nazis were solidifying their grip on the country, they used the United States as a model for their own racism. “For us Germans, it is especially important to know and see how one of the biggest states in the world with Nordic stock already has race legislation, which is quite comparable to that of the German Reich.” 

Another passage reveals, “In Germany, displaying the swastika is a crime punishable by up to three years in prison. In the United States, the rebel flag is incorporated into the official state flag of Mississippi. It can be seen on the backs of pickup trucks north and south, fluttering along highways in Georgia and the other former Confederate states…” The author goes on to point out that, “In Germany, restitution has rightly been paid, and continues to be paid, to survivors of the Holocaust. In America, it was the slaveholders who got restitution, not the people whose lives and wages were stolen from them for twelve generations.” 

The Epilogue of the book offers some sobering final thoughts, such as, “Caste is a disease, and none of us is immune. It is as if alcoholism is encoded into the country’s DNA and can never be declared fully cured. It is like a cancer that goes into remission, only to return when the immune system of the body politic is weakened…” 

“Wilkerson’s book is a powerful, illuminating and heartfelt account of how hierarchy reproduces itself, as well as a call to action for the difficult work of undoing it.”—The Washington Post

So, the question becomes, how does the white community deal with systemic racism in this country? Given the numbers and diversity of people participating in the Black Lives Matter protests around the world, this seemed a good time to reflect on my own upbringing and what we can do to take advantage of a pivotal point in our history, especially with elections on the horizon. 

I was brought up in Plainfield, New Jersey, and although many of the students were Black in middle school, I saw only a small number who were part of the “advanced” classes, and these kids seemed very scholastically motivated. My family moved to Littleton, Colorado, when I was 16 and from there to Evergreen in 1963. I went to school on the Western Slope of Colorado in a basically white community and ended up in the equally white community of Scottsdale, Arizona. Shortly after we arrived in Colorado, all hell broke loose in New Jersey with violent race riots, burning property, shooting and looting. I remember thinking, “What was that about? Boy, did we get out of there just in time!” By 1967, Newark, New Jersey, was one of 159 cities where riots took place, including one four-day tirade in which 26 people died. 


Walker was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala and spent over forty years helping disadvantaged people in the developing world. He came to Phoenix as a Senior Director for Food for the Hungry, worked with other groups like Make a Wish International and was the CEO of Hagar USA, a Christian-based organization that supports survivors of human trafficking. 

His book, Different Latitudes: My Life in the Peace Corps and Beyond, was recognized by the Arizona Authors Association for nonfiction and according to the Midwest Review, “. . . is more than just another travel memoir. It is an engaged and engaging story of one man’s physical and spiritual journey of self-discovery . . .” 

Several of his articles have been published in Ragazine and WorldView Magazines while another appeared in Crossing Class: The Invisible Wall, an anthology published by Wising Up Press. His reviews have been published by Revue Magazine as well as Peace Corps Worldwide, including one on Paul Theroux’s latest book, On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey. 

His honors include the "Service Above Self" award from Rotary International. His wife and three children were born in Guatemala. You can learn more at and follow him on his Facebook page.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Don't miss the Full Moon (Blue Moon) this Halloween

Nowadays, few pay attention to the cycles of the Moon, especially if they live in a city. But for others, including farmers and scientists, the Moon has always been a subject of wonder, and for good reason. The Moon affects our everyday lives in ways we do not always suspect.

This year, Halloween falls on a full Moon, the Hunters Moon, which is also a blue Moon. It doesn’t mean the Moon will be blue, only that it's the second full Moon this month, a rare occurrence in itself. And according to the Farmer’s Almanac, we will next see a spectacular Halloween full Moon in the years 2039, 2058, 2077 and 2096. Mark your calendars. 

The first full Moon of October was the Harvest Moon on October 1st, the perfect time for a Harvest Festival. In the old days, for many centuries, and still in traditional farms following the Farmer’s Almanac, the Moon dictates the time of planting and Harvest. Using the natural cycles of dormancy, regeneration, blooming, ripening, etc. to their advantage. 

For many animals, particularly birds, the phases of the Moon are essential to navigate during migrations. Other species will time their reproduction to coincide with the lunar cycles. The corals time their spawning between October and December, right after a full Moon. The visual effect of this coordinated lunar timing is so dramatic that it can be seen from space. In Africa, Dung beetles navigate at night by the light of the Moon in a perfect straight line to their burrow. 

The Moon also regulates the ocean tides and influences women’s reproductive cycles. Women are more fecund (assuming a natural cycle) during the full Moon, and both men and women experience increased libido, which leads to fertility. Ancient Pagan festivals celebrated this fact during the full Moon. 

If you take the time, you’ll notice that important movable events (like some religious holidays) are scheduled on or as close to the full Moon as possible, when people have more energy. It’s not a coincidence. It’s also true of certain conventions and conferences who want to attract more people, and these auspicious dates are often booked far in advance.

My mother, who was a hairdresser, told me always to cut my hair a few days after the full Moon, because hair grows faster when the Moon is full, and if you wait, your haircut will look fresh longer. To this day, I still respect that rule. 

The Moon affects our circadian cycles as well. During the full Moon, people complain of not sleeping well and experience Increased energy. This wide-awake state is also responsible for full Moon madness in emergency rooms, and increased number of births in maternity wards – Even the babies want to come out and play. Ask any emergency doctor, maternity nurse, police officer, or EMT, and they will confirm this fact. 

So, this year, we are expecting an energy-filled Halloween night. As for the repercussions in our backyards, coyotes will howl, dogs will bark, and cats will roam longer than any other night. If you plan to take part in the fun, be safe and enjoy. 


But if you are looking forward to a good read with a cup of cocoa by the fire, here are a few suggestions:

Find it HERE
 Chronicles of Kassouk
 by Vijaya Schartz
 Sci-fi romance
 $1.49 in kindle now HERE

On the frozen plains of Kassouk, where a few aliens rule a medieval Human world, Tora, Human warrior trained by tigers, seeks her father’s murderer. But what she finds at the point of her sword confuses her. How dare Dragomir, the handsome Mutant, question her bloodline and her loyalties? And could a new enemy control the savage hordes of the fringe?

Dragomir offers to help, but Humans and Mutants are forbidden to fraternize under penalty of death... Should Tora trust her mind, her instincts, or her heart?

In the vortex of war, treason and intrigue, among blizzards, avalanches and ambushes, Tora sets out to solve the mystery of her father’s death. When she unveils the secret of her birth, she realizes Dragomir is the key, and together, they must save their planet from the invaders and fulfill their destiny... if they can survive dire persecutions from those they mean to protect.

" exceptional tale that belongs in a place of honor on keeper shelves everywhere." Coffee Time Romance - 5-cups

"...this is one futuristic that you do not want to miss!" Fallen Angels Reviews - 5 angels - Recommended Read

"...kept me enthralled from the first page...a thrilling science fiction romance" Paranormal Romance Reviews

"I'm adding this to my 'keeper' shelf and on the 'to be re-read' list." The Road to Romance

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