Monday, August 31, 2020

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

Resurgence 1998-2005 - Vijaya Schartz's presidency

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 24, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 22, 2020

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

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

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

• A bar was walked into by the passive voice.

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

• Two quotation marks walk into a “bar.”

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

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

• A question mark walks into a bar?

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

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

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

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

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

• A synonym strolls into a tavern.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• A dyslexic walks into a bra.

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Ted, for the laughs.😂😂😂

Monday, August 17, 2020

How the Ariona Authors Association started - by Kathleen Cook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 stars on Amazon "Edgy Medieval. Yay!"


Happy reading.

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

Monday, August 3, 2020


When it comes to writing, do you have everything you need, or do you know everything you need to know? I still don’t. There are times when I need to research an element of writing. One of the first resources I go to over the years is INDIESUNLIMITED.COM. It is a free site dedicated to independent authors like myself. I highly recommend the site, not only for answers to writing questions, but as a source of interesting information related to writing

From a research standpoint, they have a “Knowledge Base” that provides information on different writing elements. For example, do you have “book trailers” for your books? If you are interested in creating a book trailer, why not visit this site to see how you can create one?

They also have “Tutorials” on many subjects, as well as a “Search” bar, if you need to find information on a particular subject quickly.

If you would like more people to know about you, why not try their weekly free Flash Fiction competition. Each Saturday morning, they post a picture prompt and open the competition. Can you come up with a story (max 250 words) by Tuesday evening? Voting is open to the public until Thursday evening. The winning entry is announced on Saturday morning.

One of the great benefits of the competition is that it gets your name and your story in front of a world-wide audience. Another benefit is that if your story is selected by the editors, it will be published, along with other selected stories in an annual “Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Anthology.” Some of my stories were lucky enough to be published in this manner.

Wouldn’t it be a nice reward to have your story listed in the weekly competition, not to mention if it was the winning entry? In addition, if your work was selected for the Anthology publication, it would be another way of getting your name known to the world. Wouldn’t being published for free be a valuable gift to a potential unknown author?

Indies Unlimited has been in existence for over eight years. During that time, it has been a resource for my writing needs, an outlet for my creativity, and a source of valued friendships. Kat Brooks, who maintains the many aspects of the site, dedicates many hours to the work. The fact that the site was recognized as one of ‘Six Great Blogs for Indie Authors’ by Publishers Weekly, might be another reason to check the site out.

From a personal perspective – if I had discovered this site earlier, it would have saved me thousands of dollars…Yes, I am embarrassed to say, I was the victim of a Publisher, who turned out to be a “Vanity Press.” Don’t know when you are being taken advantage of? Maybe, you should check out the Indies Unlimited site, to prevent yourself from being a victim.

I can proudly say, I have learned better. I took my rights back! Don’t know how to do that? Check out the site for some facts. I am now a self-published author of six novels and two anthologies of my flash fiction and other short stories. As I mentioned, also published in Indies Unlimited Anthologies. All of my novels have book trailers, which I can credit IU for providing the information I needed to create them. 

I also use the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction competition to periodically write an entry, primarily, to put a tear in my eye, or a smile on my face, and hopefully, someone else’s.

While you have many sources for helpful information related to writing aspects, please check out the Indies Unlimited website as a supplemental source, as well as a site to advertise your work and to potentially improve your skills. 

Dick (Rich) Waters lives in the Valley of the Sun near Phoenix, Arizona. A former resident of New England, he enjoys the beauty and sunny days of the Arizona desert. His novels include Branded for Murder, Serial Separation, Scent of Gardenia and others. Dick has agreed to serve as the new Arizona Authors Association Literary Magazine editor. Learn more about him at: Arizona Authors Association and at Amazon