Monday, September 28, 2020

20 things you didn't know had names

Just a little tidbit stolen from Facebook. Even seasoned writers may not know some of these.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Announcing the finalists of the 2020 Arizona Literary Contest


Listed alphabetically by author name



Andrew D. Hirss of Missoula, MT      

Deborah Doolittle of Jacksonville, NC

Leon O’Chruadhlaoich of Dallas, TX

Nancy Brehm of Flagstaff, AZ



Jamie Nielson Flagstaff, AZ

Jan Nichols of Glendale, AZ

Rico Austin of Scottsdale, AZ

Susan G. Smith of Oracle, AZ



Brandy Isadora of Paradise Valley, AZ

Constance Osterlitz of Phoenix, AZ.

Janet Crum of Flagstaff, AZ

William Lyman of Prescott, AZ



Cherrie Smith of Flagstaff, AZ

Ellen Martig of Phoenix, AZ

Richard McMaster of Surprise, AZ

Ron V. Bartlow of Flagstaff, AZ




Janelle Molony of Phoenix, AZ

John Lewis Floyd of Tucson, AZ

Matthew Schwartz of Tucson, AZ

Thomas P. Collins of Prescott, AZ



Ashley E. Sweeney of Tucson, AZ

D. R. Ransdell of Tucson, AZ

Jan Tenery of Oracle, AZ

Marcia Fine of Scottsdale, AZ



Barbara Renner of Phoenix, AZ

Caren Cantrell of Cave Creek, AZ

Debi Novotny of Fountain Hills, AZ

Rodo Sofranac of Phoenix, AZ 

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

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Writing scary villains - by Vijaya Schartz

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

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

Some memorable villains in the two Archangel books.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 14, 2020

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

Misplaced Trust 2016-2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rebuilding Stronger Than Ever 

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

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

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

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

Kathleen Cook
Editor of the Arizona Authors Association Newsletter

Monday, September 7, 2020

Arizona Authors Association history 2006-2016 - by Kathleen Cook

Going Forward 2006-2016 

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

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

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

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

Toby and Vijaya at the 2007 Arizona Literary Banquet

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 3, 2020

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


 amazon  -  B&N  -  Smashwords  -  Kobo

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

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

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

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


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