Tuesday, September 7, 2021

New Release: Angel Brave, Azura Chronicles Book 3 - by Vijaya Schartz


Order ANGEL BRAVE now, to be delivered September 1, 2021 HERE 
Visit my page at BWL Publishing HERE
Keoke Mahoe, Zephyrian spy for the Resistance, slips through Azura’s impenetrable defenses to deliver a perilous message to their leader. But Lady Valoria fiercely protects her planet. Any intruder, especially one who kills animals for food, is promptly terminated.

Besides, what Keoke suggests is unthinkable... and punishable by death. Yet, Valoria enjoys his audacity, his noble heart, his ability to cheat death, and his smile… to the chagrin of Eris the Amazon, her best friend, bodyguard, and would-be lover.

But in the farthest confines of the galaxy, an old enemy is rising again. And this time, even Azura's Avenging Angels may not be able to stop the onslaught of darkness upon all civilized life.

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Angel Brave is the last book in the Azura Chronicles series, but don’t worry, my winged Avenging Angels will continue their fight against evil. As for Azura, it will probably make cameo appearances in my future novels. Yes, the Azura universe will go on…

In the meantime, you can read the Byzantium Space Station series set in the same universe, with a few angel characters from Azura.

amazon B&N - Smashwords - Kobo

Next year, get ready for a spinoff sci-fi romance series named “Blue Phantom.” But this will be the topic of next month’s post…

Until then, keep reading.

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats

Monday, August 30, 2021

New Release: In the Shadows of Adventure - by Ashleen O'Gaea

Find the book on Amazon HERE

Written by the Tradition's founders to introduce a synthesis of the modern Pagan religion of Wicca with humanity's innate urge to explore, In the Shadows of Adventure is a complete Book of Shadows and more: an illustrated, in-depth examination of Adventure Wicca's fundamentals and its singular interpretation of Wiccan theology, enhanced with songs, stories, poems, and unique rituals.

About the author:

I was born in the Pacific Northwest, but can't imagine calling anywhere but Tucson home. I've written quite a few novels, ranging from contemporary to fantasy, and including a set of stories for children and a couple of books for middle-schoolers. My nonfiction work ranges from a variety of books about Wicca - because I'm a fully ordained Wiccan priestess - to one about West Highland White Terriers! And of course I've always got more stories and books in the pipeline. When such things are safe, Husband-man and I love to entertain. We like to camp and travel, too, especially to Celtic Festivals, where we often hold a booth for our Scottish clan (MacCallum-Malcolm), and sometimes get to show off our West Highland White Terriers, Wee Dram (CH Headsup Highland Adventure) and Isla, whose formal name is Islay Single Malt. Speaking of single malt, I take mine neat. 

Monday, August 23, 2021

What is your legacy? - by Kathleen Cook

As I age, I think more and more about the legacy I'll leave behind, one day. That legacy is not only in material goods, or in the children that I know I've raised well and who make me proud daily. The legacy I leave will be in my books, articles, journals and blogs. What writing can I still do that will have an impact on the future, and help to shape it for the better?

There are many subjects worthy of our attention at this critical time in history. Climate change is one of them. We see it in the devastating fires, droughts, floods, and temperature records. Have you thought about documenting it in your own locale? We can see changes in our own backyards. I can now grow plants I didn't grow before, as my area transitions agriculturally from zone four to zone five. In the Valley of the Sun, you may have the opposite reaction … things you could grow before, such as peaches, are now struggling to fruit in that backyard tree. But with some irrigation (if you can manage it during a drought) you may be able to grow some exotic fruits native to African oases. 

Are the animals adapting? Do you see as many lizards now as you did in years past, or are they dwindling in number? Write about it. Write about those things that have resisted climate change and those species that are succumbing to it. Every locale should have a record keeper, a chronicler, to help future scientists understand how we got to where we'll be then. You don't need a science degree. You just need a pen, paper and your own eyes. Such eyewitness accounts will be critical to future understanding and mitigation.

 Other subjects abound for the writer who wants to leave a legacy for the future. Do you see changes in your city government, in monuments, in the political landscape, in advances and setbacks in social justice? Write about them. Are the local sentiments different from the state as a whole? Document those sentiments. Sometimes, data is lumped together in a big picture without ever taking apart the small pieces that made up that big picture. Historians of the future will wonder about the nuances … you may be their only source for those nuances. 

Even if you don't want to write about the big issues, the little ones will still be useful to someone. How do you live now, on a day to day basis? When we think about people of the 1960s, we "think" we have all the information, but we don't. Even an era that most of us old folks remember is not really chronicled well enough for posterity to understand the details. As a teen who spent a few years in the rural South, for example, I remember my mother renting a home without plumbing. I remember the dry sink in the kitchen, and wondering why the faucet wasn't there. It took me a while to understand that I had to take a bucket, go to the well, fill it, heat the water on the stove, plug up the sink, and throw the water in the sink to do dishes. I had to remember to put the bucket directly under the hole in the sink for the water to drain out. Oh boy, if I didn't remember, I wound up washing the floor that day, whether it needed it or not. How many people know that? Probably very few ever experienced it. As a Chicago born and bred kid it was a shock to move to the rural South, but I adapted. People adapt . . . and then they forget. Write about all the things you do now. How long does it take to power up your computer? What about the finicky toaster that makes you pull up toast with a knife, or the coffee pot that continually spills water over the counter? 

Write about the things that people won't remember. They may not seem important to you, but the little things will make a big difference to people 100 years from now when they're trying to make an authentic movie or documentary. (If there is even such a thing then; I hope so!) 

So big or small, important or minor, just start creating your own legacy for future generations. Write. 

Kathleen Cook is a retired editor and the author of more than twenty books. A former copy writer/editor for Demand Studios, she also served as the Fictional Religion Editor for the ODP (Open Directory Project) in the late 90s. She is currently the Arizona Authors Association Editor as well as the new Secretary.

Monday, August 16, 2021

The evolution of Kick-butt women in TV and movies - by Vijaya Schartz

 In the male-dominated society of our ancestors, few women emerged as rulers or generals, or even warriors, although some did find a place in history. Nowadays, women are welcome into the military, and a recent decree subjects them to the draft. We’ve definitely come a long way in terms of equality.

But the entertainment world still resists the change. Superheroes are overwhelmingly male. In the Hollywood movies of the 1930s, all women wore dresses. Then during WWII, we saw a few women working in factories wearing pants.

The movements of the sixties brought us Barbarella but the first sci-fi or warrior women on the screen were more of an excuse for men to leer over semi-naked female bodies in action… and their fighting prowess seemed improbable at best.

Every beautiful actress wanted to be a Bond Girl.

In the 80s and 90s, came Charlie’s Angels - Xena Warrior Princess, and although still exploiting the female form, they portrayed strong, independent women, sometime in position of power, and they could fight for themselves, for others, and for justice.

Also of note, the ALIEN series with a kick-butt heroine, acted by Sigourney Weaver, and GI Jane (1997) with Demi Moore.

With this century came the rebirth of Battlestar Galactica with a female Starbuck. It was criticized at first, but I thoroughly enjoyed the switch. One of my favorite sci-fi series.

Then came a blue heroine in Avatar. A hunter and a warrior. More than capable, powerful, and also wise.

The most recent Star Wars movies have a strong female fighter in Rey. Star Trek, unfortunately, wasn't as kind to women. 

In Black Panther, the female warriors of Wakanda play an important role.

Also welcome to the big screen from comic books, Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel. They manage to remain sexy as they definitely kick butts.

Not to forget, Mulan from Walt Disney studios.

I hope many more warrior women appear on the big and small screens to inspire the generations to come.

In the meantime, check out the fierce heroines of Science Fiction in my novels.

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Happy Reading!

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats

Monday, August 9, 2021

Oh The Suspense - by Donis Casey

 When I’m really in the writing zone, in the midst of a scene, I’ve been known to leap up from the computer and begin pacing the floor, unaware of my surroundings, muttering dialog to myself. I imagine that to an observer I look like a hands-free cell-phone user (or someone who is off her meds). Except there’s not a person on the other end - there’s another world. 

I sometimes have to figure out how I’m going to pull off the particular scene I have in mind. I know what I would like the reader to see in her head, what emotions or feelings I’d like to convey, but what is the most effective way to paint that picture, to evoke those feelings? If I write the scene in two or three different ways, I’ll often be able to come up with the right combination of images, but occasionally, I’ll realize that I don’t quite have it. What I need is more suspense! 

That’s when I go hunting. If I need more suspense, I pick out several works - literature or movies - that made me tense, and try to pick apart how it was done. 

I’m always looking for effective ways to build tension. In the course of writing several books, I’ve seen and read all the classic suspense-building techniques in action, and keep a list of examples, not only to remind myself, but to use as a teaching tool as well. No matter what genre of book or story you are writing, a sense of suspense – anticipation – is necessary. Will the guy get the girl? Will the thieves pull off the heist? Will the astronaut evade the alien? Will the sheriff outdraw the outlaw? Will the ill child live? We readers want to know how it all turns out! And we authors want you to keep reading. 

A refresher on suspense-building never goes amiss, Dear Reader. Here are a few popular techniques I've garnered over the years. 

The Ticking Clock: Our hero must accomplish something before a horrible thing happens. Diffuse the bomb before it goes off in two minutes! Find out who really did it before the wrong man is hanged! Great example, the movie D.O.A. (the 1950 original with Edmond O’Brien is better than the 1988 Dennis Quaid version). 

Drag Out the Action: Seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? But if you just know the trap is going to spring, and it doesn’t... doesn’t...doesn’t... The anticipation is killing me! The trick here is timing. You have to know when enough is enough. Great example, Lee Child’s Bad Luck and Trouble. 

Add More Peril: Our heroine is running through the jungle and the Columbian drug suppliers are right behind her, brandishing their machetes. She crashes through the brush, and finds herself on the edge of a cliff! There is a river at the bottom of the gorge, so she takes a leap, just feeling the breeze as a blade slashes over her head. She falls 75 feet into the river and realizes it’s infested with piranhas! She swims like the dickens, piranhas nipping at her heels, and as she nears the shore, 40 tribesmen with poisoned dart blowguns step out from the trees... No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be worse. Great examples, any of the Die Hard movies. 

I Know Something You Don’t Know: The author has told us the villain is hiding under the stairs, but the hero has no idea as he walks down into the dark basement. The author gives us a piece of crucial information that the characters don’t have. Great example, Louise Penny’s A Fatal Grace. 

The Cliffhanger: Remember the villain under the stairs? He leaps out! He grabs the hero around the neck! He pulls a knife! Meanwhile, back at the ranch... The reason the reader doesn't throw the book against the wall in frustration is because he wants to know what's been going on back at the ranch, too. Great example, Hour of the Hunter by J.A. Jance. 

My Hands Are Tied: Our hero can see disaster about to happen, but is powerless to stop it. Greatest example of all time, Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Rear Window. 

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Our sleuth spends weeks investigating Laura’s murder. He cannot discover a single clue to her death. Everyone loved her! She was wonderful and squeaky clean. He’s baffled, and sits in her apartment long into the night, pondering. One midnight, the front door opens, and... it’s Laura! She’s alive! Then who is the woman who was found lying on the floor of Laura’s apartment, wearing her clothes, shot in the face with a shotgun? And where has Laura been all this time? Ultimate example, the 1944 movie Laura. 

And one of my favorites:

Foreshadowing: This takes some skill to pull off well. The author gives us a hint that eventually something bad is going to happen, and the reader spends 300 pages in tingling anticipation She has that sense of inevitability. You say your hero is afraid of water - the reader just knows that fear is going to figure in to the climax. We knew it would come to this. If the author has set it up well, there are even a couple of false payoffs, leaving us still waiting with bated breath for it to happen. Excellent example, Robert McCammon’s Queen of Bedlam. What a set up! 

Donis Casey is the author of Valentino Will Die, the second episode (following The Wrong Girl, 2019) of a fresh new series starring Bianca LaBelle, heroine of the silent screen action serial The Adventures of Bianca Dangereuse, as well as ten Alafair Tucker Mysteries, set in Oklahoma during the booming 1910s and featuring the sleuthing mother of ten children. Donis is a former teacher, academic librarian, and entrepreneur. She lives in Tempe, AZ. "A delicious glimpse into Hollywood's Golden Age... Bianca might be a glamorous star, but she is also a likable, smart, and feisty heroine." Rhys Bowen

Saturday, August 7, 2021

New Release: The MacCollum Charisma - by Ashleen O'Gaea

Find this new release on amazon HERE


The MacCollums of Kilwestra are a charming Scottish clan, no doubt - but their charisma is a magical artifact that requires careful handling. Created from one woman's agony over the New Berwick witch trials in the 1590s, at least five other first daughters of her line died have of its curse. Four more centuries of misuse and disdain couldn't drain its energy. It would take two 21st-century witches, one on either side of the charisma's ancestral power, to do that.


Sometimes I have to remind myself that I'm not quite an Arizona native; I was born in the Pacific Northwest, but can't imagine calling anywhere but Tucson home.

I've written quite a few novels, ranging from contemporary to fantasy, and including a set of stories for children and a couple of books for middle-schoolers. My non-fiction work ranges from a variety of books about Wicca - because I'm a fully ordained Wiccan priestess - to one about West Highland White Terriers! And of course I've always got more stories and books in the pipeline.

When such things are safe, Husband-man and I love to entertain. We like to camp and travel, too, especially to Celtic Festivals, where we often hold a booth for our Scottish clan (MacCallum-Malcolm), and sometimes get to show off our West Highland White Terriers, Wee Dram (CH Headsup Highland Adventure) and Isla, whose formal name is Islay Single Malt.

Speaking of single malt, I take mine neat.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Authors get obsessed with book covers - by Vijaya Schartz


This is the cover reveal for my October release
Angel Brave, Azura Book 3

As an author, I see images in my head when I write. Like a 3D movie, with sounds and lights and special effects, and color, and smells, and heat, and cold… and all these elements end up in my story. So, I have a pretty good idea of what my characters look like, sound like… and I want my readers to see the same movie in their heads as they read the book. So I do make suggestions to the artist cover designer, here Michelle Lee, and this latest cover does reflect my vision perfectly.

Chuck Lorre, creator of The Big Bang, Young Sheldon
Two and a half men, The US of Al, and many award-winning sitcoms.

I remember something Chuck Lorre wrote in a vanity card at the end of a show. I paraphrase: “I learned over the years, not to obsess over whether or not the actor looks like the character in my head, but rather to find a talented actor who will make the character his or hers.”

And here resides the secret of success. Learning to let go of the characters we created to let the reader re-imagine them. I’m certain authors whose stories make it to the screen struggle with the same problem. How the movie director, the screenwriter, and the producers see the characters often differs from what the original novelist had in mind.

The Archangel Twin books
Evil has many faces, not all of them human...

Sometimes, the book cover reflects my vision of the characters, and sometimes not. And who is to say which is best? My idea of Michael was very different, but I do love the new covers for the Archangel twin books.

Byzantium (Space Station) series, action, romance, and telepathic cats

Then, there is the cover without people on it, a trend which comes and goes with the seasons. It portrays adjacent scenery or an animal relevant to the story. Like in the Byzantium Space Station series, with telepathic cats as secondary characters.

Chronicles of Kassouk - Sci-fi Romance with big cats

In a series, there is also the concern for continuity. A long time ago, with another publisher, I received a cover that was unacceptable. It was book 3 in a series, and while the first two book covers featured photographs of male cover models (it was sci-fi romance) the cover of Book 3 was a comic book drawing with juvenile UFOs and little green men. It took me a while to figure out a nice way to tell the person in charge that this cover, while lovely, didn’t fit the mood of the story, and most importantly didn’t match that of the two previous books. Ooopsie!

Ancient Enemy series - Sci-fi Romance

All the book covers in a series should reflect the same palette, ambiance, font, design, etc. so the potential reader can recognize a book as belonging in a familiar series. Like The Curse of the Lost Isle, or the Chronicles of Kassouk.

Curse of the Lost Isle, Celtic Legends, Paranormal Romance

This said, I hope you’ll check out all these titles on my pages below.

Happy Reading!

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats

Monday, July 26, 2021

NEW RELEASE by Mike Rothmiller - The Great Apache Warrior Geronimo


Find this book on Amazon HERE

The book contains a biography and photograph of the great Apache warrior Geronimo. Plus, it contains over 100 line pages for your notes, school work, remembrances, travel reminders, etc. It's an ideal book to accompany you when visiting the Southwest United States or planning your travel. You'll be amazed how a small band of brave Apaches under Geronimo held off the United States Army for years. It is a story of bravery, family and the pursuit of freedom.

Mike has created several of these notebooks, each with a famous Native American’s biography, with the majority of the book dedicated to dreamers and writers who will write their own stories on the lined pages. 

From the book: “Geronimo was born on the Gila River in New Mexico, not far from the Gila Cliff Dwellings. His birth name, Goyakla, means ‘one who yawns.’ He would go on to become a brilliant war leader . . .”

About the Author:

From Wild Blue Press: “Mike Rothmiller is a New York Times Bestselling author, historian, a former cop, and an Army medic. He’s a former TV Reporter, an award-winning documentary television producer, and television host for ESPN, PBS, and other international television markets. His nonfiction book, My Hero, Military, Kids Write About Their Moms and Dads (St. Martin’s Press) received international acclaim and is the only book to have forwards written by three living Presidents and General Norman Schwarzkopf. Additionally, he’s been a corporate President/CEO and directed three divisions of Sony Electronics EMCS-America, and he briefed the President of the United States. 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 HERE