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



FIRST PRIZE - ANSWER CREEK:
A novel - by Ashley E. Sweeney

FIND IT ON AMAZON HERE


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.

Reviews:

"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


SECOND PRIZE IN THE PUBLISHED NOVEL CATEGORY:

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




FIND IT ON AMAZON HERE

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

SPACE IS NOT A UTOPIA, BUT ALREADY PART OF OUR LIVES - by Vijaya Schartz

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
http://www.vijayaschartz.com
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 TrĂ igh 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 TrĂ aigh 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 TrĂ igh 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: Mark@MillionMileWalker.com or through my websites: Million Mile Walker.com Guatemala Story.net 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. 

ABOUT THE REVIEWER:

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 www.MillionMileWalker.com 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
 WHITE TIGER
 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.

"...an 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
http://www.vijayaschartz.com
amazon B&N - Smashwords - Kobo FB

Monday, October 26, 2020

What Are You Reading? Review by Kathleen Cook

Last winter, our library had an overflow sale in which all books, including hardcovers, were sold for ten cents a piece. Needless to say, my boys hated me that day, because they had to lug home 30 boxes of books for which I paid a whopping $42 dollars. The books filled 15 large book shelves. Since then, I’ve been reacquainting myself with books I’d read as a child, such as Mark Twain’s classics and a few from Jules Verne, as well as some historical fiction. It is one of the latter genre that I’d like to review today. 

Find it on amazon HERE

The Haj, by Leon Uris, had been sitting on my shelf begging to be read throughout spring and summer. For some reason, I always chose others, until The Haj was one of the few left that I hadn’t devoured. If I had known it would be that powerful, sad, uplifting and stirring, I would have read it sooner. The Haj takes us through the life of a Palestinian family and their Jewish friend, Gideon, over the course of several decades. It starts off in the early 1900s and carries us through WW2. 

Leon Uris is unapologetically pro-Israel; he freely admitted it during his lifetime. He is the same author who gave us Exodus, of which the Prime Minister of Israel at the time, David Ben-Gurion, said, "as a piece of propaganda, it’s the greatest thing ever written about Israel.” The Haj continues from an Israeli viewpoint and must therefore be understood in that context. Despite this caveat, I found the characters human, believable, and likeable on both sides. While the Haj is sometimes a brute, his youngest son is sensitive, caring and unlike his father. And even the Haj, the leader of his village, loves his Jewish neighbor in his own, strange way. While reserving judgment on Leon’s unabashedly one-sided account, I can wholeheartedly recommend The Haj as worthwhile and absorbing reading. 

Due to covid, my library canceled the coming overflow sale. I’m going to have to be content with borrowed books in the coming months, and pray for all our sakes that this covid nightmare ends before another year passes. Good luck and stay safe, everyone!

Kathleen Cook is a free-lance editor and the author of twenty 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. 

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Women Wronged Wins a New Mexico Arizona Book Award

 Women Wronged was a finalist in the guide category of 2020 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards, I'm proud to say. Buy it on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084Q3QM1V/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=women%20wronged&qid=1581470997&s=digital-text&sr=1-1&fbclid=IwAR28zPZ3p620K1GRlQc28ARMcY7cwQOUokikYnQ5k4I60NbRgqU2UcZL3P0


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Online opportunities to improve your writing - by Kathleen Cook

Yes, we’re all definitely tired of this pandemic by now! If you are going stir crazy and looking for more online opportunities to improve your writing, here are a few courses you might enjoy. Remember, all of them are FREE, although they may offer optional extras. I have tested all of them and I’ve found the courses to be worthwhile and interesting. 

Fallacies, ABC 

This course is offered by Iversity, a Berlin-based online education center. In it, you’ll learn how to spot bad arguments and avoid them in your own writing. While not geared specifically to writers, it’s an excellent way to improve your own work. From the website: “In this course we will learn how to recognize and resist the most common 15 fallacies, from Loaded Question and Slippery Slope to Red Herring and Straw Man. Each fallacy is illustrated with examples, funny dialogues, a case study discourse, and there's even a quiz show at the end to test your knowledge. We describe the mechanism for each of these rational traps, and we learn proper ways to refute it. Fallacies are like crime novels: if you know who the killer is, the whole plot seems transparent. In the same manner, this course acts like a vaccine: once we learn to recognize and counteract a fallacy, we cannot be deceived again. Enjoy!” 

How to Make Digital Content 

Another course by Iversity, this one will teach you what you need to know to produce quality content for digital media. The course description says it’s “intended for anyone who needs to use digital communication in some way. In the end, this course is really for everyone.” If you’ve ever wanted to write online and build a following, this is for you. The course is laid out as follows, according to the website: 

1. First, you will receive a short introduction to the topic of content. 
2. Afterwards, we’ll look at analyzing our target audience, using this to create a meaningful audience persona. 
3. In the next section, I’ll explain various strategies and techniques for developing content and thematic contexts that fit both us and our target audience. 
4. In the next lesson, we’ll develop a customer journey for the target audience persona. 
5. In the fifth lesson, you’ll learn how content is planned and organized. 
6. In the penultimate lesson, I’ll present the production process, which will help you to create relevant, valuable digital content with a high conversion rate. 

To sum up, you’ll get another overview of the necessary steps for quickly and successfully creating content. 

How to Read a Novel 

This course is from FutureLearn, a British online educational center affiliated with many of the top universities in Britain. The website’s course description (note the British spelling) says: 

“What makes a great novel? How is a novel woven together? How can we best appreciate works of fiction? Answer these questions and more with this course from The University of Edinburgh and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. On the course you’ll discover four of the main building blocks of modern fiction: plot, characterisation, dialogue, and setting, using examples from a range of texts including the four novels shortlisted for the 2020 James Tait Black fiction prize. You’ll also explore the formal strategies authors use, how they came to be, and how they affect us as readers.”

If you have to be cooped up due to covid, this is a great time to improve your skills and come out the other side of the pandemic ready to shine! If you’re an author or simply a still-unpublished but inevitable author, these courses will take your talents to the next level, so that you’ll look back at this pandemic and say, “Well, at least I put the time to good use.” 

Kathleen Cook is a free-lance editor and the author of twenty 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. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Facts Will Free Up Your Fiction - by Marlene Baird

Find it on amazon HERE

Every author has been asked, “How did you come up with that story?” The favorite of my novels, The Filigree Cross: The Salvation of Larry Broadfellow, came to me while channel surfing. On the TV screen, a televangelist was exhorting listeners to open their wallets so that Heaven would be open to them. Though he said all the right words, he was clearly bored with the message, and distracted by the fit of his coat jacket. Several times he flexed his shoulders and pulled at the collar. It made me wonder at the dressing-down he might get from his PR people when they saw this performance. So I had my next protagonist, Larry Broadfellow, failed televangelist.

Unfortunately, Larry came to me as an orphan. This stumped me. I said to my husband, “I don’t know anything about orphans; I don’t think I’ve ever known one, but my character is an orphan.” My husband, eager to end the dilemma, said, “Well, you’re the writer. Give him parents.” I wandered off knowing that would not work. Larry was completely and utterly alone. I went ahead with the story, still worried about the orphan situation.

At that time I was not a U.S. citizen. I was a green-card-carrying Canadian living in the U.S. These cards were being counterfeited so much that we were all required to get new ones. It only took me four years to accomplish this. At some point in this four-year period, I was sitting in a massive room in downtown Phoenix with several hundred others, waiting for my number to come up, so that, once again, I could have a futile conversation with an immigration agent. I was sitting on an aisle seat, and a gentleman in a wheelchair rolled up and stopped beside me. The gentleman and I began talking. When I said I was a writer he had the usual questions, and the conversation shifted to me. I told him about my orphan problem. He told me he had grown up in an orphanage in Minnesota, a facility that was also a farm. He told me everything I could ever want to know about his younger life.

I used very little of the information in my story since it was a small part of the book, but from that day forward my story almost wrote itself. Larry Broadfellow was now full-blown in my head. I now knew how he became an orphan, all about his childhood, how he was almost adopted, what happened to him when he aged out of the orphanage. None of this was the gentleman’s story; it was all made up. It was knowing I was working with a solid foundation that gave me confidence and freed up my fiction. Larry has stayed with me and become more real to me than any other of my characters. The novel, The Filigree Cross: The Salvation of Larry Broadfellow was a finalist in the Southwest Writers novel competition.

About the author: Marlene Baird is a long-time member of Arizona Authors Association, and a judge for our annual writing contest. She has won the contest for both a novel and an essay. Marlene also enjoys writing short stories, having taken 3rd place in the Lorian Hemingway writing contest in 2008. She lives in Prescott with husband, Bob. Find out more about Marlene at http://marlenebaird.com/ Marlene’s Books: Murder Times Two -The Filigree Cross - Minnie and the Manatees - Claire Walker.


Monday, October 12, 2020

New Release: Courses of the Cursed A Curtis Jefferson Novel by Vince Bailey

Courses of the Cursed
A Curtis Jefferson Novel
by Vince Bailey

Get it from amazon HERE


African American youth Curtis Jefferson is still serving his one-year term at Fort Grant, a penal outpost for boys-a place where a horrific massacre still haunts the inhabitants. In the second book of the Curtis Jefferson series, our hero continues to be challenged by a murderous fellow inmate, Harvey Huish, a torment that leads to a brutal confrontation. Meanwhile, in nearby Oracle Mesa, cafĂ© owner Isabel Cienfuegos struggles with a premonition that her nephew, Ray, will be the victim of a treacherous plot. The parallel stories, related by the same storyteller, share a common theme: the curse of Fort Grant.

Vince Bailey's award-winning Path of the Half Moon-the first book in the series-is a paranormal historical fiction tale set in a remote detention facility for wayward boys in the early sixties. Winner of the Arizona Authors' Association Literary Award and the Chanticleer International Book Awards for Paranormal and Supernatural Fiction, the Curtis Jefferson series presents an edgy and thrilling escape from the ordinary.

About the author: Vince Bailey is a writer and construction manager who grew up in Central Arizona in the late 1950s. His youthful escapades in the copper state climes contribute significantly to the nostalgic flavor of his fiction creations. The author's adolescent haunts of yesteryear, tracing around the east side of Mesa, crop up frequently as facets of his fictitious hometown of Jacobs Well, the anchor location of several of his stories. Path of the Half Moon is his inaugural novel, the first of a paranormal/historical fiction series that make up his Fort Grant Trilogy. Mr. Bailey currently resides in Peoria, Arizona, with his wife, Rita. Find out more about Vince on his Amazon page, his Arizona Authors Association Biography Page, or on his website, vincebaileyauthor.com

Friday, October 9, 2020

New Book Release: Confessions of a Unificationist by Jo Ann Crooks

CONFESSIONS OF A UNIFICATIONIST
By Jo Ann Crooks

 Most of the past publicity about the Unification Church (Unification Movement), and Reverend Moon has been negative. Jo Ann attempts to give an understanding of what this movement is all about, based on her experiences, and as seen through her eyes, and explain what made her and thousands of American young people join this movement.

She also tries to give a basic understanding of the Divine Principle (the teachings of Reverend Moon). She says, "I believe if the world knew even the basics of the Principle, we could see the way to peace on earth, as we could overcome the things that divide us now."

The chapter on "What We Believe" deals with questions humans have been asking from the beginning of time, including who or what God is, the purpose of life, our spiritual and physical bodies, spiritual growth, life after death, the origin of evil, the truth about the life of Jesus, the purpose behind human history, and the mission Reverend Moon said he was given by Jesus on a North Korean mountainside in 1936 when he was sixteen years old. The purpose of giving this basic understanding is to help make happy individuals and families at a time when so many people feel there is no purpose in life or ability to save this world from destroying itself.

Jo Ann also explains the meaning of the "Blessing," which refers to the well-known group wedding ceremonies, a hallmark of the Unification Movement. She was matched by Reverend Moon to a Japanese groom, and they participated in the Blessing ceremony of 2,075 couples in Madison Square Garden, New York, in 1982.


About the author: Jo Ann is a native Arizonan, born in Phoenix. She started writing poetry and winning awards while in grade school. In high school, she helped publish a poetry anthology, contributing several pieces. She was also a past columnist for the Arizona Authors Association and her feature, Member’s Spotlight, was well received. A graduate of Phoenix College, Confessions of a Unificationist is Jo Ann’s first published book.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Should you write long or short series - by Vijaya Schartz

I wrote many series, some as short as two books (the Archangel twin books), others as long as eight novels (like the CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE, based on Celtic legends). New authors, and sometimes readers, ask me how long a series should be. There is no universal answer to that question. A series, like a book, should be as long as needed to tell the whole story. 

Curse of the Lost Isle - Celtic legends


The number of books also depends upon the characters. 

If they are the same characters throughout the series, is each novel a continuation of the previous book? The author cannot hold the reader without resolution indefinitely. That is how some TV series that started strong lost their momentum when the writers dragged the story too long before offering some kind of explanation or resolution. 

On the other hand, if each novel is a complete story, the series can go on much longer. A few authors have successfully published dozens of novels in the same series that way, some were later adapted for TV series, like Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli & Isles. Harry Potter also comes to mind, but as it features children, and children do grow up, that series was limited from the start. As for characters like James Bond, they can probably go forever with many different incarnations as each generation gives it a different twist. 

Sometimes, each book come with its own set of fresh characters, in the same setting, with a link to the previous and future books. That’s the case for my CHRONICLES OF KASSOUK series, where each book is an independent story with a different hero and heroine. The six novels are set on the same planet, a few centuries apart. For those reading them in the right order, they get to see the evolution of a group of marooned human settlers into a fully grown society, with its particular culture, facing ups and downs, struggling for their independence and for their rights, amid defeats and victories, until the series comes full circle in its unexpected but logical ending. 


My longest series (eight novels) is The CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE, based on Celtic legends. Since my ladies are immortal (related to Morgan the Fay), they reappear in different times in history. The first two books tell the story of Pressine the Fay. In book two, she has three daughters, subsequently featured in the following books. Melusine the Fay has four books, as she appears in different places at different times in history (books 3-4-5-8). Her sisters, Palatina (book 6) and Meliora (Book 7) each have one story to tell, so they only have one novel.
 
Ancient Enemy sci-fi series

Another technique is to write shorter series, related to each other. Three books is considered a happy number for a series. Easier to commit to for the reader. Some readers also like to only read series that are complete, as they do not want to wait until next year for the next book. The reader who enjoys a three-book series, will likely pick up the next series set in the same world they enjoyed the first time, like the Star Wars universe. 



This is the case for my BYZANTIUM series and AZURA CHRONICLES, set in the same universe with a few crossover characters. Byzantium is a space station, and Azura is a planet, existing in the same universe at the same time. 

Most of my series novels are standalones, and the reader can pick up any book and thoroughly enjoy it without missing anything. Then he/she can go back and enjoy the other books as well, even if not read in the chronological order. But if you are like me, you’ll want to read them in the right order to fully appreciate the arc of the bigger story behind the novels. 

On that note the first book in each of my series is currently discounted to $1.49 in kindle on amazon.

Enjoy the discounted reads!

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes
http://www.vijayaschartz.com
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