Saturday, June 19, 2021

New Release: Summer! Time to Search for Food, A Story about Trumpeter Swans - Barbara Renner (Author) & Rita Goldner (Illustrator)


Find this book on Amazon HERE

It's time for Pen and Cob Swan to teach their young cygnets how to feed underwater, but little Cygie doesn't like to get his face wet because the water stings his nose. He decides to explore on his own, but instead of finding food, he finds danger. Will Cygie ever find something to eat in time to calm his growling stomach?

Children ages 3-8 and readers of all ages will discover interesting facts about the beautiful Trumpeter Swans and even listen to an actual Trumpeter Swan call by scanning a QR Code.

Review Quote: "What a wonderful swan family! Cygie's adventure reminds us that families help each other learn so many important lessons in life and also take care of each other." Nancy Fischer, Friends of Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge 

Find this book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target and other outlets. 

About the author:

Known as Jane-of-All-Trades, Barbara has worn many hats in her lifetime, from bookkeeping to banking to teaching. She loves to travel too, and “Oh, the places she has been” range from Tahiti to New Zealand to Iceland to Ireland to Greece. And she’s not done yet. So many places to go! Isn’t every English teacher’s dream to write the next great American novel when they retire? Barbara had the same dream, except she decided to write children’s picture books. Her Informational Fiction books contain interesting facts, sounds, and themes of kindness and friendship. Barbara developed an innovative way to have children listen to actual animal sounds in her books. QR Codes are not just for advertising! Find out more about Barbara on her website,

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Warrior Women Part 3 - 16th Century to today - by Vijaya Schartz


Find Vijaya's novels at BWL Publishing HERE and on her website HERE

Amina, Warrior Queen of Zaria (1588-1589)

Amina was queen in a part of Nigeria now known as Zaria, where women could inherit the throne on an even keel with men. Many city states dominated trans-Saharan trade after the collapse of the Songhai Empire to the west. At the age of sixteen, Amina became the heir apparent. Although her mother’s reign was known for peace and prosperity, Amina immersed herself in military skills from the women warriors of her tribe.

Three months after her ascent to the throne, Amina started her conquests to expand her domain and open safe trade routes. She remained a warrior queen for 34 years until her death.

India during the Raj (British occupation): Velu Nachiyar (1730–1796 AD)

Queen of Sivaganga from 1780 to 1790, Velu Nachiyar was the first female freedom fighter against the British. Also known as Veeramangai (brave woman), she was trained in martial arts, horse riding and archery. She was also fluent in French, English and Urdu. 

After her husband was killed by the British army, she took refuge with Haider Ali, the Sultan of Mysore, then she launched her attack. When her daughter was martyred in the fight against the British, the queen formed a women’s army and named it after her daughter. Her fearlessness and gallantry on the battlefield are still remembered today.

Nakano Takeko, last female Samurai of Japan

The last Samurai warrior woman, Nakano Takeko, was recorded in the 19th century. During the Battle of Aizu, she led a corps of female Samurai against the Emperor's forces. She fought with a naginata, the traditional weapon of choice for Japanese women warriors.

Takeko was leading a charge against the imperial troops when she took a bullet to the chest. Knowing she would die, the 21-year-old warrior ordered her sister Yuko to cut off her head and hide it from the enemy. Yuko did as asked, and Nakano Takeko's head was buried under a tree.

The struggle of 20th Century women to be accepted in the military.

I remember when I was a teenager, learning that the Israeli military accepted women in their ranks. Not wearing skirts and typing reports in an office, but in combat gear on the front lines. I was fascinated.

First Israeli women in the military

Since then, after much hesitancy concerning the battlefield, the US military is training women for combat. They are now fighter pilots, foot soldiers, Marines, and much more.

US Fighter pilots

US Navy Seals

But this is a phenomenon happening around the world. We see battalions of fighting Amazons in Russia, women soldiers in Africa, in India, in the middle east. The women have risen and are taking control of their own lives, to defend their freedom, their rights, their land, or their family.
Warrior Women of Kenya

Women in India's Military Police

Russia's battalion of Amazons

Kurdish women fighting ISIS

If you like strong heroines with a warrior slant, check out my books. In my novels, they are bounty hunters, law-enforcement officers, Avenging Angels, soldiers, starship captains, Amazons, and warrior queens. They are often in charge, and playing an important role in their society. Sometimes, they rescue the hero, and they are definitely his equal.

I especially recommend these to lift your warrior spirits. Book 1, Angel Mine is 99cts in kindle, Book 2, Angel Fierce, is an award-winner, and Book 3, Angel Brave, is coming in October.

There is a planet out in the universe, emitting a strange turquoise glow. A long time ago Azura refused to join the Trade Alliance. The Alliance sent their military fleet to destroy the Azurans, but their powerful supernatural abilities spread fear even among the fiercest Devil Dogs. Since then, records have been erased. Rumors and legends all but died. Azura is strictly forbidden, and the daring few who venture beyond the warning space beacons are never seen again...

Happy Reading

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

Monday, June 7, 2021

Unique Publishing Program Inspires Student Creativity

 Educators know that students take pride in seeing their literary works on the classroom bulletin board. Imagine then the quantum leap in students’ self-confidence when their writing projects are published in book form. School Express Press, a division of Story Monsters LLC, is helping schools make that a reality by taking students’ works and publishing them. 

Former educator and Story Monsters president, Linda F. Radke, has more than three decades of experience in the book publishing industry. “Over the years,” she says, “we’ve had the honor of producing several books by first-time authors, many of them students, and some as young as 7 years old. I’ve seen looks on their faces when they hold books that they authored in their hands for the first time. The whole experience is priceless.” 

School Express Press builds on this idea by offering teachers and librarians the opportunity to have their students’ writing projects, individually or entire classrooms, professionally published. “I know firsthand how this can bolster students’ self-esteem,” says Radke, “and how it can strengthen their interest in writing throughout the rest of their academic careers and beyond.” Teachers across the country concur. 

“I cannot begin to express how thankful my students and I are for your support and guidance … as we embarked on our school’s first student-directed publication of academic work,” says Keith Brayman, a social studies teacher at River Bluff High School in Lexington, S.C. “We cannot wait to work with you all again.” 

Lisa Moore, a teacher at Pinnacle High School in Phoenix, echoes Brayman’s comments. “We received our published book … and are beyond thrilled. We wanted you to know how appreciative we are for all your many tireless hours of help, encouragement and professionalism that made this publication possible.” 

The process is simple. With step-by-step guidance from School Express Press, schools prepare print-ready files that include cover design, layout, editing and typesetting. Then, for a one-time set-up fee and the cost of printing and shipping, School Express Press will deliver a minimum 25 books to the school. “Most jobs are completed within just three to four weeks of receiving the print-ready files,” says Radke. 

To learn more about how your school can benefit from School Express Press, call (480) 940-8182
Or visit

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

The Inevitable Author - Nurturing the Garden - by Kathleen Cook


Kathleen Cook is a free-lance editor and the author of twenty-one books. A former copy writer/editor for Demand Studios, she also served as the Fictional Religion Editor for the ODP (Open Directory Project). She is currently the Arizona Authors Association newsletter editor. Contact Katy at:

Ah summer! After planting thirty tomato seedlings this morning, I came inside and started on this column. The fresh air still in my lungs, I marveled at how fortunate I am to be able to do the things I do, both in my garden and in this organization.

I think of the Arizona Authors Association as a garden, in a way. Two years ago, we were restarting from nearly the ground up, once again. It wasn't easy, trying to convince long-term members to keep sending in their membership fees when our legs were still shaky. We had to convince them that we were on the right track again, and working our way towards our former glory. Luckily, many of them stuck with us during the bad times and now enjoy the revitalized association that we have always loved. It reminds me of the year there was a bad storm and destroyed nearly my entire garden of precious seedlings. I had to salvage what I could from what was left. Miraculously, a few plants survived and wound up being the best ones I'd ever had, beautiful, healthy and bountiful. The AAA has bounded back in the same way

We have so many things planned for the future! The association purchased an upgraded membership in Zoom because of the pandemic, but we discovered that more people attend the Zoom workshops than we had in our library-based workshops before the pandemic. Fantastic! We can now bring top-notch workshop presenters to you in your own home. The next presenter is Donis Casey, a brilliant writer and a wonderful teacher. I'm going to attend her workshop on June 5th, coming up in just a few days! Will you?

In July, Toby (Heathcotte) and I will be hosting another Zoom book fair, and Jane Ruby will be joining us! The last one was so much fun that we just had to do it again. It's open to the public to attend, but only members may showcase their books. I'd love to meet you there, and best of all, it's FREE! Come on; I’m sure you have a book gathering dust that you’d love to tell us about. I’d love to hear about it!

I’m also hurrying to dust off a book or two for the 2021 Arizona Authors Literary Contest. The DEADLINE IS LOOMING! We’ve got THIS MONTH to get in our books, folks, so let’s make sure that Jane Ruby, our Contest Coordinator, has as many books as my garden has seedlings! With our new Oldie But Goldie category and a renewed interest in the contest in general, this may be our best year ever. 

Remember, too, that there are critiques available for all unpublished contest entries, for an additional fee. I spent many years as an editor, and I know that the price of the critiques is very low in comparison to professional reviews. If you aren’t sure whether your unpublished entry is good, why not try it anyway and ask for a review? You may receive valuable advice that will help you to win next year’s contest. 

While I am sad that we have lost a few good members, I’m so grateful to all the ones that we’ve retained, as well as the new ones that keep joining. That’s how it is in a garden, even a flourishing one like ours. I want you to know that you fit perfectly in this lovely garden we call the Arizona Authors Association, and that each of you are valued and beautiful.

So many more things will happen in the future. With our professional Zoom membership, be on the lookout for more workshops, more book fairs, more of everything! What would you like to see the Arizona Authors Association do in the future? Write to me or Toby and tell us! We’d love to hear from you and we’d certainly take your ideas and suggestions under consideration.

Well, I’m off again to plant some huckleberries. What will you plant today, either in a garden, in a notebook, or in that new book you’re writing? Keep it up; stick with it, and never let adversity cause you to despair. Eventually, we all grow and thrive and learn! Let’s keep doing all three together, and thank you so much for being a part of this wonderful association!  

Thursday, May 27, 2021

New Release from Rico Austin - BOY TO SUCCESSFUL MAN

Find BOY TO SUCCESSFUL MAN, the 10th book release for Rico Austin, on Amazon HERE 

If you have ever sat at the knees of a family member or neighbor who regaled you with their wild stories and hard-earned lessons, you have probably learned a thing or two about how others' stories can help prepare you for life. Through Boy to Successful Man, you will gain invaluable information from two authors who have seen it all.

For anyone who feels misunderstood, for anyone who feels angry, for anyone who feels lost-this book is for you. There is no shame in feeling trapped or confused by the expectations for you to grow from a boy into a man. This book is a tool to give young men great lives, no matter their circumstances.

About the author:

Rico Austin, PhD, was born and raised in Southwestern Idaho as the oldest of five boys. He grew up in an area ripe for adventures, and he learned a lot along the way. His bittersweet stories will have you howling with laughter, grieving from tragedy, and leaving you on the edge of your seat. Rico's love of reading, exploring, and traveling allured him to many parts of the globe, including Lithuania, Cuba, the United Kingdom where he played American Football, and Mexico to get his PhD. Rico has undergraduate degrees from Boise State University, Grand Canyon University, Staffordshire University, and an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management. He and his wife live in Scottsdale, Arizona. This is Rico's tenth published book.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Warrior Women Part 2 - The Dark Ages and the Middle Ages - by Vijaya Schartz

 Queen Boadicea or Boudicca of Roman Britain

Early on, Boudicca was publicly flogged by the Roman occupants for claiming her father’s crown and lands, and treated like a slave despite her rank. Then she was forced to watch the rape and torture of her two daughters, who were about 12 years old.

An ancient historian tells us that this Celtic queen of the Iceni “possessed greater intelligence than often belongs to women.” She is represented with waist-length, flaming red hair, wearing a gold torque and colorful clothing.

With a piercing gaze and a harsh voice, she rallied the Celtic tribes into an army of 100,000 and killed 80,000 Roman soldiers with superior armament. With her daughters, she led the charge on her light chariot, carrying flaming torches, like raging Furies.

Decimated at first, the Romans eventually received more reinforcements, the Celts lost and were exterminated. Boudicca, who survived the last battle, escaped, only to kill herself with poisonous hemlock. She refused to be paraded in Rome as a vanquished enemy.

Norse mythology - Valkyries and shieldmaidens

Norse legends speak of Valkyries, heavenly shieldmaidens, who flew over the battlefield and collected the souls of brave warriors slain in battle. So, for a long time, history assumed the stories of Viking Warrior Women to be legend as well.

A Viking grave from the tenth Century in Birka revealed weapons, gaming equipment, and two horses. Assumed to be that of a powerful Viking warrior, the skeleton suggested the person was female. Recently, a DNA analysis confirmed the powerful warrior was indeed a woman.

In truth, the Vikings counted many shieldmaidens in their ranks. Many were mentioned throughout history. Now, we know they were real.

One of the most famous Viking warrior women is Lagertha, wife of Ragnar, portrayed prominently in the History Channel series Vikings.

Japan’s Samurai women

Since the 12th century, many women of the Samurai class learned how to handle the sword and the naginata primarily to defend themselves and their homes. In the event that their castle was overrun by enemy warriors, the women were expected to fight to the end and die with honor, weapons in hand.

The Onna Bugeisha were female Samurai trained to protect entire villages and communities, not only the family property. If a Samurai had no son, he reserved the right to train his daughters as full-time onna bugeisha.

Rather than sitting at home waiting for the fight to come to them, some young women with exceptional fighting skills rode out to war with the men. They behaved like Samurai. They had the strength to fight with two swords. They could enlist in the army of a daimyo and fight side by side with male Samurai. They wore the attire and the hairstyles commonly worn by the men of the army.

An example of such an onna-bugeisha is Tomoe Gozen. Of course, like many warrior women of her time, official history labeled her more of a legend than a real person. But nowadays, we know better…

Joan of Arc - Medieval Warrior maiden – 1412-1431

As France was losing at home against the English during the 100-year war, this teenage peasant girl, a maiden, managed to convince the heir to the throne of France to give her control of his flailing armies. Among the chaos of war, she secured and attended his coronation.

As a keen strategist, Joan of Arc won many battles for the king of France. She didn’t hesitate to reprimand prestigious knights for swearing, behaving indecently, skipping Mass, or dismissing her battle plans. Personal attacks by the English, who called her rude names and joked that she should return home to her cows, upset her greatly.

Joan of Arc wore weapons and armor and brandished a standard as she led her men to battle. But it is said she never killed anyone. She was wounded at least twice, taking an arrow to the shoulder during her famed Orléans campaign and a crossbow bolt to the thigh during her failed attempt to liberate Paris.

Betrayed and delivered to the English, she was imprisoned. After she made a solemn promise never to wear men’s clothes again, they stole her woman’s clothes, forcing her to dress like a man. With the complicity of a French Bishop, they condemned her for that crime. They also condemned her for cutting her hair like a man, hearing voices, and being convinced she was following the will of God. She was burned at the stake in Rouen in 1431. She was 19 years old.

In my writings, I like to portray warrior women. Here is my medieval maiden in the Celtic legends Curse of the Lost Isle series. Damsel of the Hawk is a standalone in the series. Find it on Amazon HERE Find it at BWL Publishing HERE

1204 AD - Meliora, the legendary damsel of Hawk Castle, grants gold and wishes on Mount Ararat, but must forever remain chaste. When Spartak, a Kipchak warrior gravely wounded in Constantinople, requests sanctuary, she breaks the rule to save his life. The fierce, warrior prince stirs in her forbidden passions. Captivated, Spartak will not bow to superstition. Despite tribal opposition, he wants her as his queen. Should Meliora renounce true love, or embrace it and trigger the sinister curse... and the wrath of the Goddess? Meanwhile, a thwarted knight and his greedy band of Crusaders have vowed to steal her Pagan gold and burn her at the stake...

Happy Reading

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

Monday, April 26, 2021

Southern Arizona Book Heroes Golf Tournament by Rico Austin, PhD

Arizona Authors Association member Rico Austin PhD was one of the Arizona authors of children’s books who earned recognition for his educational children’s book, ARIZONA Is Where I Live. This book was showcased by the charitable “Book Heroes,” at the Inaugural Birdies 4 Books Golf Tournament in Tucson, AZ. The golf tourney took place on Sunday, March 21st at the semi-private Rolling Hills Golf Course and Country Club. Rico played in a foursome with three friends who live in Tucson and who also support the 401C Charity of Southern Arizona Book Heroes. 

In 2013, Rico wrote his first children’s book, ARIZONA Is Where I Live, and it is wonderfully, colorfully illustrated in pastel crayons by the talented Ms. Cindy Work. It is an educational and fun book for children ages four through twelve, teaching and giving descriptions of the various wildlife and plants that make Arizona unique and a great place to not only live, but also visit. 

A young woman named Jennifer Dillon founded a program in 2016 in Tucson, Arizona, under the name “Books to Rescue-Pima County.” In 2019, it officially became a non-profit and changed its name to “Southern Arizona Book Heroes.” This organization is very dear to Rico and other Arizona authors because it helps take young children’s minds off of tragedies with books and their illustrations. From violent acts to car crashes to a growing opioid epidemic, “Southern Arizona Book Heroes” (SABH) has joined the front lines with first responders giving comfort to the youngest and most vulnerable citizens. SABH provides resources that help treat children’s unseen injuries—their emotional wounds. Jennifer and her volunteers equip first responders, victim advocates, social workers, and child-centric agencies with new books and new plush toys to distract, comfort, and soothe traumatized children.

Reading a book is just the first step in building a strong relationship with children in our community. We support our first responders and believe this program helps to build partnerships with our most important community members—our kids. Upon inception of this program in 2016, a good friend of Rico’s, Mr. Manuel “Abby” Cady, purchased thirty of Rico’s children’s books to donate, inspiring both Rico and his wife Connie to donate another thirty books. Since that time, both Abby and his wife Kim Cady have donated another fifty of Rico’s children’s books, as have Connie and Rico. 

Jennifer Dillon - Southern Arizona Book Heroes founder

In April 2019, Jennifer was on the local Tucson television show, “Tucson Morning Blend,” where she and Southern Arizona Book Heroes showcased ARIZONA Is Where I Live. You may watch that clip HERE

Rico is so very proud to be a part of this program. If there are any other children’s book authors who belong to the Arizona Authors Association who would be interested in donating their books, here is the web address: 

Rico Austin, PhD is the author of many award-winning essays and books including My Bad Tequila. His first children’s book, ARIZONA Is Where I Live , was featured in this newsletter and on television. Find out more about Rico and his books HERE. 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Warrior Women - Part 1 - the Ancient World - by Vijaya Schartz


Ahhotep : Military Leader and Egyptian Pharaoh


Ahhotep’s burial equipment included a dagger and an inscribed ceremonial axe blade made of copper, gold, electrum and wood. The decorations were characteristically Minoan. Also found were three golden flies, badges of bravery awarded to people who served in the army.

Fu Hao: China’s First Female General:

One of the earliest records of female warriors in China comes from oracle bones found in a tomb. The bones told the forgotten story of a ruthless military general of the Shang Dynasty in 1200 BC. The warrior was Fu Hao, queen consort of King Wu Ding, high priestess, and military leader. She defended the Shang dynasty in several battles. 

At the time of her death, she was the first female Chinese soldier to be buried with the highest military honors.

Artemisia I Of Caria: Commander of Ancient Halicarnassus

According to Herodotus, Artemisia of Halicarnassus was a Greek queen in the 5th century BC, long before Alexander the Great. Artemisia wielded power during a time when Greek women couldn’t vote in Athens, the home of original democracy. She is described as a femme fatale, pirate queen, and played a role in the events of the 300 Spartans described in the movies. During the Greco-Persian wars, she fought for the Persians at Salamis and contributed her warships to the Persian Navy.

Zenobia, warrior queen of the Roman colony of Palmyra, in present-day Syria, from 267 or 268 to 272.

She was described as a conqueror. In 269-270, Zenobia and her general, Zabdeas, conquered Egypt, ruled by the Romans. When the Roman prefect of Egypt objected to Zenobia's takeover, Zenobia had him beheaded. Then she sent a declaration to the citizens of Alexandria, calling it "my ancestral city," claiming her Egyptian ancestry. Zenobia personally led her army as a "warrior queen." She conquered more territory, including Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine, creating an empire independent of Rome. After winning and ruling these Roman provinces, she was subjugated by Emperor Aurelian. She died in captivity sometime after 274.

The Amazons:

The Amazons were not the stuff of legends.

Long believed to be purely imaginary, the Amazons were the warrior women described as the archenemies of the ancient Greeks. Recently, the remains of 300 warrior women were found in more than 1,000 excavations of Scythian kurgans (burial mounds), from Ukraine to Central Asia. This spectacular discovery gives credit to the myth of the amazon warriors.

They were reported in the Greek writings of Herodotus as women the Greeks encountered on their expeditions around the Black Sea. They rode horses, hunted, fought, used bows and arrows, just like men. They were fierce, nomadic, and refused to remain sedentary. They lived without men, whom they only frequented for procreation. They kept the baby girls but when the boys reached the age of five, they returned them to their fathers.

Other writings relate similar stories of Amazons by travelers from ancient Persia, Egypt, and as far as China.

Warrior women of Ancient Japan:

For thousands of years, certain upper-class Japanese women have learned martial skills and participated in battles right alongside the male warriors. They were skilled with sword, spear, and bow.

These include the legendary Empress Jingu, (169-269 A.D.) She ruled as a regent following her husband’s death in 200 AD. After seeking revenge on the people who murdered her husband, she invaded the Korean peninsula, the ancestral land of her mother, who was a descendant of a legendary Korean prince.

Empress Jingū became the first woman to be featured on a Japanese banknote however, since no actual images of this legendary figure are known to exist, the representation of Jingū was artistically contrived from the photograph of a 19th Century Japanese woman.

I write about all kinds of warrior women in my novels. But if you like ancient warrior women, you may want to check out these, available in eBook and paperback on my links below.


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