Thursday, October 28, 2021

New Book Release: PERFECT! - A Story of Love and suspense - by Sharon Sterling

A Story of Love and Suspense
by Sharon Hickey Sterling

Get it on Amazon HERE

 Sage must put romance on hold when she launches an investigation into whether her grandmother’s tragic early death was an accident — or murder. In the process, she may uncover another family mystery — the identity of Sage’s own grandfather, Grandmother’s husband or lover. 

Two men in Sage’s life join her search for truth and long-overdue justice. Seeking the missing branch in her family tree, Sage submits her DNA to a new, untried DNA company. Hackers discover her rare and valuable DNA profile. They threaten her with a grisly fate that was instigated generations ago by an evil regime on another continent. 

This steamy love story is not for the faint of heart. If the hacker and his cohorts catch Sage, they will catapult her and a beautiful friend into a hideous new reality of suicidal despair, kidnappings, rape and other unspeakable crimes perpetrated against innocents. 

In Perfect! A Story of Love and Suspense, players in the lush, sometimes violent drama gather to bask and play on the beautiful white beaches of Florida’s Emerald Coast. Find this book on Amazon and on the author’s website

Sharon Hickey Sterling is a psychotherapist/social worker and author. She received her Bachelor of Social Work degree from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and her Master’s degree from Tulane University in New Orleans. She returned to Arizona and began her social work career as a crisis counselor. Over the years she worked in Cottonwood, Yuma, Tucson, Flagstaff, and Prescott. Her work experiences include community mental health agencies, psychiatric and medical hospital settings and private practice. The intense experiences and fascinating people encountered during those years inspire and inhabit her books while the flavor of Southwestern locales spice her writing. Her books include characters with mental illness as well as people struggling with the challenges of every day living. She hopes to inspire her readers with insight and compassion for themselves and others. To read more about Sharon, visit her website at:

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Coloration for Authors - A Rainbow of Color: A Color Primer - By Jeanne Burrows-Johnson

 How many colors are in the rainbows with which you paint backgrounds for your text? There are many perspectives on the use of color in the art and science of writing. But even if I were an expert, this short space wouldn’t allow a comprehensive discussion of color theory [the traditional theory for mixing three primary colors to derive all other colors] or colorimetry [analysis of human color perception].

Variables in Color Perception. 

Most people can see three distinct ranges of color. Due to genetics, some women [called tetrachromats] are able to see four ranges of color. Sometimes a temporary inability to see some or all color is caused by illness, allergies, medication, or hormone replacement therapy. Even sufferers of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] may notice a decrease in color perception. And did you know that one out of twelve men and one out of two hundred women have color vision deficiencies? 

Choosing Color Palettes For Artwork to Accompany Text. 

Analysis of one’s genre as an author can answer many publishing questions to help your authoring strategies. One author I know brings a minimalist approach to her creative process in selecting art for children’s’ books. She believes faint sketches without full form, shape, or color encourage children listening to, or reading, her prose to bring images from their own minds to their reading experience. This approach may be ideal for children’s books, poetry, and historical fiction. However, it would be unsuited to the hard-nosed writer’s voice employed in a police procedural and would lack clarity for many nonfiction projects. 

While minimalism is a specific art movement, the term may be used generically to describe the expression of modern art in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Beyond an escape from classic realism, modern art focuses on the artist’s desire to interact with the minds and life experiences of his or her audience members.

An Author’s Color Selection is More than Personal Preference. 

If new to wordsmithing, you may not be thinking about branding. But you might want to consider establishing foundations for the brand for which your writing will be known one day. And just as an effective editorial process dictates writers carefully select modifiers to create a scene rich in sensory images, a distinctive color palette can be one element in a design aesthetic that harmonizes with and even intensifies the impact of your text. 

When examining coloration for book art, there are several important issues to consider beyond technical research. Does the style of your writing reflect your taste in art? Do you like the detail of classism or the sharp clean lines of modern art? Are you drawn to bright primary colors or muted subtle tones? Do the peach and aqua tones of a sunset in the Southwest reflect your taste and your work? 

Regional Colors. 

Through the dialect[s] of your characters, as well as the scenes you describe, your text may suggest colors distinctive to the settings of your writing. Growing up in Oregon, I was accustomed to the dark green of Douglas fir trees and the mosses growing on them. In contrast, I’ve found the greens of trees and plants growing along the shorelines of the Hawaiian Islands to be lighter than those of Oregon or the hills of `Ulupalakua, Maui. In Arizona, the array of green is mixed, depending on topography, season, and amount of rainfall. So which greens are appropriate to your projects? What about the clarity and tones of blue in the waters and skies you describe? 

Style of Characters. 

Examining perceptions of your writer’s voice and the style of your characters may help define appropriate book jacket colors. Consider the differences between romance novels and police procedurals. In the first example, you may have established an ambience that is classically “feminine” with soft, gentle, and elegant notes. In the second, you may have a hardnosed undercover police officer [male or female] who wears black, employs harsh street slang, and fiercely responds to violence. While black is an excellent background for both genres, the artist’s treatment may vary considerably. The romance novel often invites the reader to wonder what lurks behind subtle gradations and soft brush strokes of mystical colors and tones. In contrast, the police procedural usually pairs bold primary colors with dark shading set within sharp modern lines. 

Juncture of Style And Color. 

For children’s books, hard-edged cartoon-like solid color images (like those a child might create) may be ideal. But regardless of the style of art you select, the bright saturated colors associated with modern art are popular with and stimulating for young children. Conversely, the often-dark tones of animè lend a sophisticated note to materials for both adults and older children. For most genres, classic realism is appropriate. To present images realistically, considerable detail and subtleties of color are usually required.

Articulating Your Artistic Vision is vital. 

Since it is unlikely that you will be the artist shaping the images that will highlight your writing, you must be able to describe your desires to whoever is in charge of publication. I suggest writing a paragraph outlining the specific elements you are seeking. As with a journalistic endeavor, an inverted pyramid structure is useful. Begin with an overview of the style you desire and then move on to specific issues like color. If possible, use technical terms an artist or printer will understand. For instance, consider specifying the tones and shades of colors you prefer. 

When viewed under varied lighting, a color’s tone [intensity of color] or shade [how bright a color is] will be perceived differently. Personally, I have found it challenging to use what I term a plum color in artwork for Prospect for Murder [the first Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mystery]. While my artist generated a wonderful color for the book jacket, subsequent applications for the audio book and some promotional materials deviated from the desired color and tone. 

Samples Of Your Desired Color Palette and style 

They will greatly aid the person executing your artistic vision. These can be drawn from many sources: websites; books and other printed material; fabric and clothing; pieces of art. Consider offering the images of famous paintings. Simply naming a type of art or an easily referenced artist will communicate your wishes. Personally, I’m drawn to the delicate images of classical Asian paintings, as well as the neo-classism of Maxfield Parish who was known for his use of saturated color. Unfortunately, since his work ended mid-twentieth century, a young artist may be wholly unaware of his work.

Identifying Colors. 

Working individually, or with an artist and publisher/printer, you’ll need to provide numerical descriptions of your desired colors. Paint Stores offer color samples, with numerical coding plus alphabetical names. Printers can provide numbers for the Pantone® Colors of ink used in most hardcopy printing. Remember you don’t have to access a graphic art program to provide the color model numeration of computer font colors. Simply mark a section of text within a word processing program and examine the chart of colors available under the drop-down arrow for font color. 

I should caution you that identifying a color is no guarantee of how a printed product arrives at your doorstep. Two editions of the same book, printed by the same printer following the same instructions, may present different coloration. Variations can occur because of differences in batches of ink or toner, the moisture content of paper, and production executed on innumerable types and conditions of equipment.

A final consideration in our discussion of color printing is publication via downloading from the Internet. If this is how your work will be published, you should consider using colors designated as “web safe.” Again, there will be varied results in how your readers view your materials. If nothing else, variations in monitor settings can prevent uniformity in how myriad viewers will experience color on your website or in your book. 

Stay tuned for Part 2 in a future post! 

Wishing you the best in your creative endeavors, Jeanne Burrows-Johnson, author, narrator, consultant, and motivational speaker Additional discussion of the nature of color is provided at:

For more ideas to maximize the results of your branding, visit my marketing website or blog: Imaginings Wordpower & Design, You are also welcome to send me an email at Jeanne Burrows-Johnson is a published author who now lives in Tucson, Arizona. 

To find out more about Jeanne, go to her website at:

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Not that kind of angel - by Vijaya Schartz

I dream of angels all the time… sometimes I am one. Do not cry blasphemy. I’m not that kind of angel. That’s probably why I have recurring angel themes in my novels. (Archangel twin books – Azura chronicles – Byzantium Space Station – Blue Phantom series scheduled for release in 2022).

Angels or aliens? It is safe to say that angels, being not of this earth, are by definition extraterrestrials, which makes them aliens, not from our world, but from somewhere else. Just clarifying vocabulary here.

“I’m not that kind of angel” is a famous quote from the movie Michael with John Travolta. In the movie, he portrays the Archangel Michael, fallen from grace. The same is true for the hero of my Archangel books, where Michael is a very reluctant archangel with many problems to overcome. Drinker… single father… girlfriend problems… he doesn’t know he’s an angel, and refuses to acknowledge the call when he is needed to fight evil.

Creating a fictional universe with angels was a challenge… but I love challenges. First, what do we know about angels? They do not have free will. They are legion. They are the instrument of the almighty. They are powerful. Some are described with wings, flying through the air. They have beautiful voices, and beautiful names. They can perform miracles…

According to ancient books, a very long time ago, a group of them questioned authority, revolted, and were banished… and have wreaked havoc ever since. The good angels are forever fighting the bad ones in a constant struggle of good vs. evil.

The angels in my book fit the same criteria. But the story of their origin is unique to my universe… the Azura universe.

Some of them carry flaming swords, like the Archangel Michael.

On a deeper level, the good angels represent what we wish to be, vs. what we really are (flawed). So it’s reassuring when angels are not perfect… like the ones in my books. It gives us hope that we’ll someday overcome our flaws to ascend toward the light.

In the meantime, you can enjoy reading my novels. I enjoyed writing them for you. Happy reading.

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats

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Friday, October 8, 2021

Finalists of the Arizona Literary Contest 2021

Published Categories

Children’s Picture Book 

Stephanie Barton – Above The Clouds: What Really Happens In Heaven During A Thunderstorm? 

Judy L. Paris – Who Will Save The Desert? 

Sande Roberts – Blake’s Big Day 

Analynn Sardella – The Little White Lie 

Fiction Books

Dianne Ebertt Beeaff – On Tràigh Lar Beach 

Vali Benson – Blood And Silver 

Bill Coates – Needles Arizona 

Robert Marek – Desert Fountainhead: A Tale About The Borderlands 

Nonfiction Books

Marsha Arzberger – One Hundred Sixty Acres Of Dirt 

Jan Cleere – Military Wives In Arizona Territory 

Maureen Scanlon – My Dog is My Relationship 

Coach Lia Woodall – Remove to Play 

Juvenile/Young Adult 

Rico Austin – Boy To Successful Man 

Vali Benson – Blood And Silver 

Lynn Marie Lusch – Sally The Stray Puppy 

William Lynam – Shorty, The Alien Dog 

Oldie But Goldie 

Jeri Castronova – Symbols Of The Grid 

Marcia Fine – Paris Lamb 

Lynn Marie Lusch – You Want My Dog To Get A Job?

Penny Orloff – Jewish Thighs On Broadway 


Unpublished Categories


Cherrie Anderson-Smith – The Long Now: Aldin 

Janet Crum – Delta Dawn 

John Hansen – The Mystery Of The Unseen Hand 

Todd Herzog– Walking Across Walden 


Lori DiGuardi – Church Of Summer Desire 

Marty Feess – The Adventure Of 1914 


Terri Dunn – Hike 

Terri Dunn – A Summer Gift 

Jan Nichols – Rush 

Mark Walker – Ramon And Moritz: A Partnership On The Black Coast 

Short Story 

Rico Austin – Dog 
Mark Ford – The Dual On Granite Mountain 
T.J. Michael – Christmas At Topock Hobo Jungle 

Barb Renner – Escape 


This year’s contest was full of quality and competitive entries. We had seventy-two entries this year. The most popular category, Oldie But Goldie, had twenty-two entries and scoring was very tight: separation between the top 8 entries didn’t differ by more than a couple points. Congrats to finalists as well as entrants in that category. 

On November 6, 2021 we will announce the award winners at our awards banquet, at the Glendale Civic Center, with a buffet dinner, and a costumed theme "These Were The Days, My Friend" Anyone can attend. $50 ticket to the buffet, payable in advance. 

To register, contact ARIZONA.AUTHORS@YAHOO.COM 

Thanks to our judges and to our contest coordinator, Jane Ruby. Jane Ruby is an award-winning novelist, essayist, and short story writer. She was the Secretary and Literary Contest Director for the past three years and will continue to serve the Arizona Authors Association as the Literary Contest Director and as the new Treasurer. 

Monday, October 4, 2021

Wake up, it's Fall, again - by Kathleen Cook

Fall always gets me going on my writing! After the lazy summer days when you're too hot to do anything but sit and read a book or stare at the tube, the cooler air invigorates the brain and gets the wheels turning. I like to anticipate Halloween and Thanksgiving, even though they're a ways off. Actually, this is a great time to anticipate them because smaller publications, with daily or weekly issues, need those stories now. If you have a special memory, write about it and send it out before it's too late. 

Fall also gets me to think of the loved ones I'll be seeing soon, either in person, through Zoom, or perhaps only in memory. I think of Cousin Ed, who somehow always manages to spill the gravy but tells the best Thanksgiving jokes. I ponder all the quirks and characteristics of my crazy tribe, who add an authentic flavor to my stories. 

Everyone has someone they know who is just a bit different. (Some of us have a LOT of "different," ahem, relatives and friends!) The people you know offer realism, familiarity, and humor to your stories. Many famous authors give the advice, "Write what you know." This is so true. The people and places, customs and eccentricities of your own home town, family, or ethnicity will provide you with a rich tapestry to add color to your work. 

Just because these things are familiar to you doesn't make them boring to others. Indeed, while our shared experiences provide common ground, each of us is unique in that shared heritage and so are our family members, colleagues, and friends. Things that may seem normal and dull to you are fresh and funny to others. Write about them! 

As I contemplate the rest of the year with a smile on my face, now that the sweat of summer has left my skin, I look forward to gathering around the table with all of my weird, crazy, silly, and embarrassing cohorts and loved ones. I look forward to hearing their memories, already indelibly affixed in my soul. Once again, I'll hear about the time my sister pulled an apple off the tree in the churchyard, bit into it, found a worm in her mouth and in a panic, screamed and spit it out just as the parish priest was turning the corner. Splat! 

I may mention again the time while I was growing up, when we had a washing machine on the back porch. Invariably, it always held a large laundry basket full of clothes, either clean or dirty. One night, the dog came running out of the porch, barking as he ran away. Mom ran into the back porch and, in the darkness, thought she saw a drunk man sitting on the floor. She started jumping up and down, flapping her arms and screaming like a maniac, "Get out! Get out!" I flipped on the light switch to find that the drunkard was really a huge pile of clothes, which must have fallen off the washing machine and onto the dog. 

After this story, another cousin may talk about the day we found that dog, with no tags and an injured paw. He'll wax poetic about the good times we shared with Chugalug, who got his name when someone spilled a beer and the dog rushed to lap it up as I, a ten-year-old who didn’t drink, nevertheless hurried to wipe it. Old times, but not forgotten. 

There are so many stories in each person's family. Don't be afraid to embarrass yourself, or them. Write about all the good and bad times, the high and low, funny and painful times, so that your memories, shared around the Thanksgiving table, will become someone else's memories, too. 

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. Find out more about Kathleen HERE.