Monday, July 15, 2024

New Release: Leaning into curves - by Linda Sandel Pettit


Find it on Amazon   HERE

International Speaker, author, and mentor, Dr. Linda Sandel Pettit has written a compelling tale of an intuitive intelligence that guides us through life— mystical, magical, and practical. LEANING INTO CURVES is a story of hope that our journeys through life can be sure-footed when we listen from and follow the way of the heart, the beingness of love. LEANING INTO CURVES is, first, a love story. It is a poignant tale of forbidden love between a 24-year-old woman and a Catholic missionary priest twice her age; of two souls who crossed the boundaries of religious beliefs and dogma to honor their hearts. It is a tale of crushing loss when a tragic car accident on Christmas Eve ends their earthly relationship. It is tale of one woman’s trust in the spiritual wisdom unfolding from her soul to guide her through suffering and death to a new love. Available at

LEANING INTO CURVES is one woman’s search for the sacred feminine, divine female power. It is a candid, insightful and lyrical story of transformation that explores: judgment and forgiveness, separation and connection, desire and surrender, mystery and miracles, intuition and synchronicity, and faith and love.

With over five decades dedicated to writing, four decades immersed in counseling psychology, and two decades serving as a spiritual mentor, Dr. Linda brings a wealth of experience and expertise to her writing, speaking and client work. She holds a doctorate in counseling psychology, a master’s degree in counselor education and a bachelor’s degree in journalism. More at   

Monday, July 8, 2024

Martial arts in my action-packed science fiction novels - by Vijaya Schartz


Preview of my upcoming novel's cover (October 2024)
Find more of my books on my website HERE

Once a Martial artist, always a Martial artist. My fascination with Martial arts started early. I remember being the smallest in my Judo and Karate Club as an early teen, in France, learning the ropes from big men three times my size and weight. It made for good fun when we did David and Goliath public demonstrations, as the teacher pitted me against the tallest, biggest, baddest, strongest man in the club. The spectators cheered when I threw him across the mat.

I practiced other sports over the years, Gymnastics, surfing, skating, etc. But Martial Arts always remained on my mind.

Later, in Hawaii, I discovered Aikido and immersed myself in that discipline. There, too, we did public demonstrations, to show that technique and agility always overcame brute strength. For a 5-foot, one-hundred-pounds girl like me, it was the perfect equalizer. Then I learned to wield the sword, the long pole, the knife, the night-stick, and other weapons.

After many years of daily practice, I became the teacher. With age, I realized I didn’t have to take hard falls on the mat, day after day to keep my skills sharp. I moved to a more peaceful form of Martial Art, Tai-Chi.

But all these disciplines have become part of me, like a second nature. And, of course, this is reflected in my novels. Whether they are Samurai, bounty hunters, rebels, spaceship captains, Valkyries, Amazons, avenging angels, soldiers, or law enforcers, I write strong heroines and brave heroes, fighting for justice, to save the galaxy, or to defend what they love.

If you like action adventure with a hint of romance, check out my science fiction novels. Here are some recommendations. Find them on:

amazon B&N - Smashwords - Kobo

amazon B&N - Smashwords - Kobo

Happy Reading!

Vijaya Schartz, award-winning author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats

Monday, July 1, 2024

Looking for Comp Titles Catching Up with a Whole Genre by Adrienne Miles


When it comes time to submit a manuscript for representation or publication, agents and publishers need to know where it fits among all the books that are currently being published. One bit of shorthand for this is a list of comparison titles, or “comps.”

Fair enough. That said, filling a box on a query form labeled "List some books that are similar to yours. (500 characters or less)" can be daunting to the uninitiated. Speculative fiction is only part of what I read, and for most of my adult life, my reading hours have been limited by, well, life.

What to do? I thought hard, perused Writer’s Digest’s gargantuan array of information and instruction, thumbed through several books, researched online, and pored over awards lists. I consulted the most recent Locus Recommended Reading List (—which is awesome, by the way, for finding reading material. I found a zillion new favorite authors but no comps—at least nothing matchy-matchy, which is probably a good thing. But what was I supposed to type in that dratted rectangle on the query forms?

I started making headway at answering this question when I found the podcast, The Shit No One Tells You About Writing, whose delightful presenters critique real query letters submitted by listeners and often feature a guest speaker once the critiques are done. They have a Substack, too.

Then I discovered more agents who are actively demystifying the publishing process. I almost tripped over the Short Fuse Guides from Fuse Literary when researching agents to query. I sprang for the paid version of Kate McKean’s Substack, Agents and Books, when I read her post, “Don’t Be Dr. Frankenstein,” about comp titles because not only did that post answer my questions about comps, I learn something new every time she posts.

I learned some more at the Las Vegas Writers Conference in April 2023. They had an entire track on what to do with a finished manuscript.

One common thread running through almost all the advice I read or listened to was the recommendation to ask for help from a librarian to build a list of potential comparison titles. Then start reading. You want to make sure that the titles that look like comps actually are.

Duh. I’m a retired librarian; I have done reader advisory interviews by the bucketful. The tools for finding “readalikes” have not changed much since I retired, so I dug in.

First I did the lazy thing. I went to Goodreads, selected books that came close, and went to the “Readers Also Enjoyed” display at the foot of the screen. This can be tricky because that list appears to be a list of other books that people who clicked on your target book also clicked on. I’m not the only person in the universe with eclectic taste in literature. But once you’re in the ballpark, eliminating the obvious duds is pretty simple. Amazon and Overdrive have similar services; the same caveats apply. I also had a great time on, looking for books my favorite authors recommend.

As I plowed through the lists, it occurred to me that looking for comp titles is a little like networking. The best networking is rarely focused; it happens when you live your life and pay attention to the people around you. With that in mind, I added titles to my to-be-read list that may or may not be comps but I think I’ll enjoy reading.

Then I went into librarian mode and dived into some databases my local public library makes available: Books and Authors, Literature Resource Center, Novelist, and WorldCat. Most aren’t free, but many public libraries offer free access for library card holders.

The gold standard for reader advisory, though, is finding somebody who knows the genre inside and out. Somebody like the sweet, motherly children’s librarian where I used to work. She was our resident authority on true crime books.

But wait! My local library lists a resource called Your Next Great Read in alphabetical order on its web page, right after WorldCat. It’s their own form. Fill it out with the names of books and authors close to what you seek, give them your email address and library card number, press submit, and it’ll be in the librarians’ inbox.

You bet I filled that form out. Sure enough, a living, breathing librarian sent me a list of authors to try. While some on the list are familiar, many are new to me and I can’t wait to read their work. 

If you are looking for me, I’ll have my nose in a book. I am re-learning the genre inside and out.

Adrienne Bengtson, who writes science fantasy as Adrienne Miles, picked back up her lifelong interest in writing after retiring from the U.S. Air Force and a 25- year career as a librarian. She is getting ready to publish her debut novel, Spider’s Wyrd, with Brick Cave Media later this year. In addition to reading and writing, she enjoys travel, hiking, fiber arts, and doting on her daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren. She plays Celtic traditional music on the penny whistle and keyless flute, and sometimes plays the great Highland bagpipes in public. She lives in Mesa with her husband and their cats. For more:

Monday, June 24, 2024

New Release: Ariel's Song - Published poems by Dawn Pisturino


Find it on Amazon  HERE

Ariel's Song is a collection of intensely personal poems written between 1987 and 2023 that features various styles and themes, from twisted limericks that make you laugh to traditional sonnets that make you think and feel the world around you. There is something for everyone to enjoy: dark poems, love poems, nature poems, funny poems, poems about death and grief, poems about abuse and heartache, children's poems, and experimental poems.

Dawn Pisturino is a retired nurse in Arizona whose international publishing credits include poems, short stories, and articles. Her poetry has appeared in several anthologies, most recently in Hidden in Childhood: A Poetry Anthology, Wounds I Healed: The Poetry of Strong Women, and the 2023 Arizona Literary Magazine. She is a Mystery Writers of America and Arizona Authors Association member.

Monday, June 17, 2024

Character and Conflict and Plot by Dan Baldwin


find this popular book on Amazon HERE

When asked, “Where do I start my novel? How do I get things moving?” I respond with, “Start with character and you’ll find the conflict.” 

Character and conflict are the key elements in beginning a work and in keeping the reader’s interest piqued all the way through to “The End.” Everything flows from character. Conflict keeps that motion moving forward. 

The Bad Guy. In the first of my Ashley Hayes thrillers, the villain is Clovis Bassett, a white guy who thinks he is a Caddo Indian god. One of the joys of writing that novel was entering into an insane mind. (I have been told that I have a good grasp of the criminal mind. I think that was a compliment.) Bassett is more than nuts; he’s a serial killer. 

His Conflict is his inability to remember “The Place of Crying.” This is a real place in Arkansas where Caddo lore says the tribe emerged from the Earth’s interior. It’s a hill overlooking the Red River. Bassett believes he has to enter the earth at this place, become reborn, and return to rule as an angry god. He can’t “remember” this location, which sends him on a bloody quest to find it. 

The Good Guy. Detective Herbert Eugene “Bummer” LaSalle is a cop looking for the serial killer. Bummer is an overweight, aging, nearly-burnt-out cop. His Conflict is, obviously, finding the bad guy. A secondary conflict is with himself, primarily focused on his aging. 

The Heroine. Ashley Maud “Ash” Hayes is an archaeology professor and an expert on the Caddo Indians. Additionally, she is an expert in wilderness survival. She studies survivalist techniques as a teaching aid. “Learn about ancient man by learning how he lived,” she says. 

 Her Conflict. Ash studies and espouses European contact throughout the Americas prior to Columbus. This is the initial conflict the reader encounters. When LaSalle brings her in to help find Bassett because he believes she can “think Indian,” the detective’s conflict becomes her conflict, too. 

That’s how I begin a novel. The characters grab my attention. They tell me about their lives and their conflicts. Trust me, their lives and conflicts are far more interesting than anything I could make up on my own. When they start talking, I start writing. That’s it. 

“Er, Dan?” 


“What about plot?” 

“If you have characters and conflict, you don’t need a plot. Just listen to those characters and follow their lead.” 

For inspiration and more tips, go to and 

I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it. — Thomas Jefferson 

About the author: Dan Baldwin is the author of westerns, mysteries, thrillers, short story collections and books on the paranormal. He is the winner of numerous local, regional, and national awards for writing and directing film and video projects. He earned an Honorable Mention from the Society of Southwestern Authors writing competition for his short story Flat Busted and a Finalist designation from the National Indie Excellence Awards for Trapp Canyon and Caldera III – A Man of Blood.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Researching Norse Mythology for my upcoming novel - by Vijaya Schartz

 Research is always a fun part of writing a story, even in science fiction. That’s where I usually find interesting details to feed the plot and define my characters.

In Angel Revenge, Book Three of the Blue Phantom series, coming out in October, my futuristic heroine is a Valkyrie. I had to brush up on my Asgardian knowledge through research. I learned much about the culture and symbolism of the ancient Viking gods.

We all know about Thor, Loki, and Odin through the Marvel universe, but Valkyries are not as well known. And I happen to like strong warrior women for my heroines.

Here are a few facts about Valkyries. They were women warriors ordained by Odin, given a magic armor where their powers resided. They could shapeshift into birds. They had many other abilities such as visions of the future. They flew into battle riding flying horses (Pegasus) or geese, or dragons. They wielded spear, bow and arrow, and dragon-fang swords.

Their function was to select the worthy fallen in battle and take them away to enjoy the Halls of Valhalla, a warrior’s paradise full of good food, beer, women, and fighting. The Valkyries were long-lived, like all Asgardians, but their armor also made them impervious to most weapons.

However, they had one weakness. I won’t tell you what it is, so as not to spoil the story.

In Angel Revenge, my heroine is Valka. She survived Ragnarök and finds herself on her own. She still fulfills her destiny and rescues worthy warriors fallen in battle… but for a different purpose. She rides a genetically engineered flying tiger and carries many blades and blasters. I'm considering either of these tigers for the cover:


Here is the tag line: An unruly Valkyrie on a possessive flying tiger, a strict angel in love with the rules, and evil pounding at the gate… What could go wrong?

The book comes out in October and will be the last of the Blue Phantom series. In the meantime, you can read the first two books:

amazon B&N - Smashwords - Kobo

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

Monday, June 3, 2024

New Release: Chloe's Secret by Maria Retana


Find it on Amazon   HERE

An Amazon Best Seller and a bilingual historical non-fiction picture book written in English and Spanish, released March, 2024, this book is the first of a new series, Isabella & Chloe. Author María Retana's inspiration was her collection of dolls. She and illustrator Salva Ferrando recount the tale of slavery in the South during the 1800s from a seven-year-old’s perspective. The second book of the series, Pele's Domains/Los dominios de Pele, is scheduled for a Fall 2024 release. Recommended for ages 9-12. 

Cuban native María Retana has a B.A. in Spanish and Comparative Literature from UC, Riverside. The author of more than 20 published bilingual children's books, she has published picture books, chapter books, and two graphic novels. With her 12-year-old grandson, Miles Last, she wrote and published the graphic novel, Miles & Lee and the Ghosts from the Lighthouse/ Miles & Lee y los fantasmas del faro, in March, 2023. Mrs. Retana lives with her husband, Guillermo, in Tucson. 

Monday, May 27, 2024

Writer Joy on the Pickle Ball Court By Robert Ronning


Purchase on Amazon: HERE

Along about midday I crave escaping from my desk, acutely aware that a static writing life could lead to a shorter life. I’ve tried aerobics and weights, golf, cycling, and just plain walking, all in quiet desperation to complete another novel or two before I drift off to join carefree writers in the great beyond. I’ve tried alternative writing stations: standing desk, treadmill, a laptop actually on my lap in an easy chair … alas, all roads lead back to a standard chair and desk.

Yet the writer body cries out for movement, which drew me to pickleball. If you’re from Planet Wack-ado and you haven’t heard about pickleball, here are a few words about this fastest growing sport, with courts sprouting in converted mall space, abandoned tennis courts, and HOAs. They are popping up everywhere to accommodate a tidal wave of retired boomers, including those nursing old sports injuries and looking for less demanding exercise. (Warning: Pickleball is demanding; urgent care clinics are treating eager older players suffering a variety of court injuries—I’ve got a drawerful of ACE wraps for securing a limb or a hinge during play.)

Once I was a jaded golfer carrying a heavy handicap, begrudging the time spent hitting a little white ball until I found a new passion in pickleball. In only half the time I spent on golf, I could duck away from my desk for a few rounds of hitting a plastic ball with a paddle.

As writers are wont, I imagine pickleball as an action-filled venue with compelling characters, my chosen site being the Y’s basketball court. Action unfolds through a variety of plot lines; dramatic faceoffs easily stray into comedy or slapstick. As for characters, the game has its usual suspects—think of childhood back on the school playground at recess. Now, it’s bickering and clowning adults, player cliques, and much laughter. As the sport has flourished, the only real drawback is the waiting time between games. Still, idleness offers a chance to socialize—the buzz of voices trading gossip and backstories is usually worth the time. 

I’ve cautioned newbies to the game that pickleball is quite addictive. There’s always a core group of intense competitors who get an extra high on the sport. At a game’s end, panting foursomes usually walk off the court with smiley faces, win or lose, as if they’ve just returned from a ticket to paradise. Gathering together to play a few times a week, there’s mostly an aura of joy and camaraderie.

Crucially, I don’t think the game would be half as much fun without the gender mix. An agile or athletic woman will play the game at a high level against a macho man who just hates being scorched by the opposite sex. 

Enough said. Now I’m off to play a few more games and escape the paralyzing stasis of the deskbound. 

Robert Ronning writes about wildlife and conservation, and published his adventure novel, Wild Call to Boulder Field in 2023. He and wife Kathleen live in Tucson and summer in a cabin in Arizona’s White Mountains, a few minutes daily dog walk from National Forest and wildlife. He considers his proudest achievements rescuing and assisting the rescue of lost dogs. A recovering golfer, now an avid Pickleball player, he likes to unwind with a crossword puzzle. See 

Monday, May 20, 2024

Building a Galaxy by Daniel Dickinson


PART 2: Gaiman’s Galaxies

“If you like fantasy and you want to be the next Tolkien, don’t read big Tolkienesque fantasies—Tolkien didn’t read big Tolkienesque fantasies, he read books on Finnish philology. Go and read outside of your comfort zone, go and learn stuff.” – Neil Gaiman

In contrast to Tolkien’s lush but laser-focused realm of Middle Earth stand the vast worlds and dimensions of Neil Gaiman. A “feral child who was raised in libraries,” as he calls himself, the award-winning author of Stardust, American Gods, and Coraline among others, uses broad paint strokes to create a larger-than-life world where mythology and denizens of alternate dimensions play a key part in expanding the borders of reality. Deep, dark, and dreary, Gaiman’s strange domains are equally as vibrant as Tolkien’s. Where the two authors differ substantially is in their approach to world-building.

Where Tolkien’s Middle Earth emerges of necessity as his characters move through their journey, Gaiman’s alternate realities play an integral part in his stories. For example, American Gods uses gods, themselves, as characters— diving deep into their milieu to drive the narrative. Thus, although the story takes place in a recognizable U.S., the Old and New Gods’ otherworldly mythology is very present.

Here is an example from Chapter 6 of American Gods to illustrate: “When the people came to America they brought us with them. They brought me, and Loki and Thor, Anansi and the Lion-God, Leprechauns and Kobolds and Banshees, Kubera and Frau Holle and Ashtaroth, and they brought you. We rode here in their minds, and we took root. We traveled with the settlers to the new lands across the ocean. The land is vast. Soon enough, our people abandoned us, remembered us only as creatures of the old land, as things that had not come with them to the new. Our true believers passed on, or stopped believing, and we were left, lost and scared and dispossessed, only what little smidgens of worship or belief we could find. And to get by as best we could."

Giving these unearthly characters the freedom to roam both current and past timelines of a familiar quasi-reality instantly expands the scope in which he’s writing. Gaiman’s skill is such that he accomplishes this feat without its ever feeling heavy handed or out of place. As he explains, “When you start writing you’re in a profession which involves making stuff up and inventing stuff. You’re making up people, you’re making up places; you’re talking about things that manifestly aren’t true.“

As in American Gods, the title character of Coraline dives into an alternate dimension of her world. Dark and twisted, it has its own set of rules that govern reality as she moves through it. In one world she finds herself ignored and alone; in the other she is the concentrated focus of attention and is given everything she ever wanted. Gaiman economically presents the “through-the-looking-glass” dimension in this excerpt from Chapter 10:

"Stay here with us," said the voice from the figure at the end of the room. "We will listen to you and play with you and laugh with you. Your other mother will build whole worlds for you to explore, and tear them down every night when you are done. Every day will be better and brighter than the one that went before. Remember the toybox? How much better would a world be built just like that, and all for you?"

Gaiman plays a multiverse of realities to great effect in most of his books. Typically, several realities simultaneously exist within his novels. Even if only briefly hinted at, like those in American Gods, these multiple existences expand time and space and give the reader a sense of grand scale. “Everybody has a secret world inside of them,” he says. “I mean everybody. All of the people in the whole world—I mean everybody—no matter how dull and boring they are on the outside. Inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds... Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands, maybe.” 

Like Coraline, some of Gaiman’s stories focus solely on one or two dimensions; however, the presence of a greater cosmos outside the characters purview is there, ever-present in the shadows of the story. His novel, Stardust, unfolds in a multiverse: The star that fell had to come from somewhere. As readers, we have previous knowledge regarding time and space of real-world, earthly England situated in the Milky Way; in another dimension, we also have Stormhold and its galaxy. By using his readers’ prior knowledge and understanding of how the world works, and their preconceived notions of time and space, Gaiman has freed himself from the necessity of writing minutely detailed descriptions—as Tolkien was obliged to write of Middle Earth. 

While the multiverse of his stories is expansive, he tethers an alternate reality to a character’s story arc in a way that makes it relatable to a reader. Gaiman uses the established notion of mythology as a springboard for the metaphors distinguishing many of his stories. Threads of this can be seen around the religious aspects of Gaimen’s world-building: He uses various spiritual beliefs and deities to bring together a greater diversity of thoughts and imaginations.

“Religions are, by definition, metaphors, after all,” he says. “God is a dream, a hope, a woman, an ironist, a father, a city, a house of many rooms, a watchmaker who left his prize chronometer in the desert, someone who loves you—even, perhaps against all evidence, a celestial being whose only interest is to make sure your football team, army, business, or marriage thrives, prospers, and triumphs over all opposition.” 

Gaiman’s approach can seem daunting if you’re just beginning. However, as I previously mentioned, it has one major advantage: You don’t need to build what you already have. Almost everyone knows what a stop sign is, understands a gas station, or can imagine a certain American or British town or city. Thus, by utilizing a story set in a world that you, as an author, already inhabit, you put much of the world-building into the hands of your reader.

You may run into issues when the world you’re building becomes fantastical, or rockets through space at near lightspeed, and you suddenly find yourself responsible for an entire cosmos of information, history, conflict, and environments. But that’s where the real fun begin

Beginning at the age of ten, Arizona native Daniel Dickinson has spent a lifetime inventing realistic realms for his fictional characters. His fantasy world, Xonthian— created during his teen years—is an entire domain that allows his characters’ journeys to unfold in a diverse setting. He enjoys giving educational presentations about world-building and fantasy genres, in general. Daniel’s published works include the short story, Escape from Ogre Island; a two-story horror book, Don’t Close Your Eyes: Two Thrilling Tales of Terror; Aggression Factor; and Gathering Tide. More about Daniel at and

Monday, May 13, 2024

Sound, the vibration that created the universe - by Vijaya Schartz

 Sound is a vibration we can perceive, but all vibrations emit sounds. Some of them too high or too low on the scale for us to hear. Although, some animals hear a wider range than we do. Sound is everywhere and sound is powerful.

Vibrations create everything, and according to modern science, the solid matter around us is made of atoms that vibrate in perpetual motion. Change the vibration rate of the atoms and you create a different matter. Outlandish? Not really. People do it every day in their kitchen. By heating food too much you burn it. Through the process of heating, you changed the vibration of the atoms in the food, and turned it into charcoal.

Ancient writings say the universe was created through the vibration of sound. In the beginning was the WORD (sound). Interestingly, the planets emit audible vibrations different for each one, so does our sun and all the stars.

Our bodies are made of vibrating atoms as well, even if we do not feel it. But there is a way to experience it. Boost the volume on that sound system and you can feel the base pounding throughout your body. Get close to a rumbling waterfall, and you will feel it in your bones.

According to the ancient Greek, music is a gift of the gods and has been called mathematics in action. Music also has the power to transport us, alter our moods, even elevate our spirits. I remember having out of body experiences while listening to Gregorian chant in church as a child. I was floating high under the arches, disembodied, free, I was flying through the air. It was a wonderful feeling.

The Native American tribes use drums and chanting to create a trance-like state in which to get insight, wisdom, prophecy, a connection with the natural forces of the universe, and higher spiritual understanding.

Monks in India and Tibet chant for hours each day, creating a vibration liable to elevate their soul, body, and spirit to a higher level of spiritual understanding. Temple chanting in India uses the power of mantras special words with spiritual power, like Ohm… In these traditions, mantras have sacred and transformative powers. There are even places where the sound of the mantra never ends and is reverberated by the earth and the sky.

Vijayanagara in India is a sacred place with temples dedicated to musical sounds. Each temple column emits a different sound when struck, to create sacred music that could lift the gods’ vimanas (spacecraft). According to their traditions, the gods were aliens who came to earth in spacecraft, and lived and taught the people and waged great battles in the sky and on other planets.

Lifting spacecraft through chanting not scientific enough for you? Think. Magnetism and infra-sound technology can counteract gravity. And in labs in every country, scientists are studying sound to develop antigravity technology for future space exploration.

All in all, we are made of vibrations that can be altered by sound. We should work on sound research to help all the people on Earth have stress-free, happy, peaceful, harmonious lives… and explore the universe.

You can also explore the universe in my books. I recommend the Azura Universe, with the Byzantium Space Station series, the Azura Chronicles, and the Blue Phantom series. 


Vijaya Schartz, award-winning author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats

Monday, May 6, 2024

New Book Release: The Dirty End of the Needle by Elizabeth Ajamie Boyer


Click cover to see on Amazon

Luke slammed the front door. He stormed to his car, getting in. The car was the little Honda Civic Papa bought him when he turned sixteen. He drove toward the highway as heat waves rose off the road in the scorching summer morning. These last days of August were the hottest Phoenix had experienced in a few years. The extreme heat in Arizona summers caused weird wavy mirage lines. Very often the temperatures could be over one hundred degrees by ten a.m. Even the northernmost highways in the State were sizzling hot.

From the front porch, Theo watched the dust blow up off the driveway as Luke went down the road. Shaking his head in disgust, he turned away to his work.

Papa’s once strong frame slowly wilted after Luke drove out of the driveway that day. Like the sensitive plants Mother nursed in front of the porch, he struggled against the heat of Luke’s wrath.

Elizabeth Ajamie-Boyer is a committed Christian who is married to TJ Boyer. They have two children and three grandchildren. She has an Associate’s degree and Licensed Practical Nurse License from South Mountain Community College, and a Bachelor’s Degree from Arizona State University. She loves writing, the arts, and travel. Her camera is her friend. She dedicates all her poetry and books to her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Monday, April 29, 2024

New Book Release: Reckless Sex, Lies and JFK by Mike Rothmiller


Click cover for Amazon link

Drawing on new interviews and previously hidden police and intelligence files, Reckless finally reveals the full corruption of America’s Camelot.

‘Reads like James Ellroy’– 
Daily Telegraph

‘JFK didn’t hesitate to employ deception, espionage and covert action’ – Timothy Naftali, 
Wall Street Journal

Mike Rothmiller is a New York Times Bestselling Author, nominee for the Pulitzer Prize, historian, and former cop and Army medic. He has also served as a TV reporter, an award-winning documentary producer, and television host for ESPN, PBS, and other international television markets. He has written and produced more than 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. Coming this summer, Prime Witness has just been optioned for television. 

In addition to his other, eclectic careers, Mike has been a corporate President/CEO and directed three divisions of Sony Electronics EMCS-America. He's authored 23 books and his 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. 

Monday, April 22, 2024

New Book Release: I Dream I Wake I Write by Jane Ruby

Click cover to find it on Amazon

This book contains stories that began as writing exercises for a creative writing class. Stellar grades from the instructor indicated merit to the writing, so they and additional works were composed and compiled into a book. Most came from real life experiences while others came from dreams. All story characters came from people the author had the pleasure or pain of meeting in real life.

Author Jane Frances Ruby grew up in the baby-booming, blue-collar suburb of Willowick, Ohio. Loathing to write, she did so only for her college degrees and job security. She wrote several technical papers for The Lubrizol Corporation, earning both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees while in that company’s Research Department. Having married and started a family in Phoenix, AZ, she turned to fictional writing. Her first novel, The Azurite Encounter, and its sequel, Voiceless Whispers, were written with help from her daughters, both avid readers of Young Adult fiction

Monday, April 15, 2024

Whatever happened to etiquette? - by Vijaya Shartz

 Raised in Europe, I remember learning to set a table as a child, and I hated all these useless conventions. Who cared about where the water glass or the wine glass went. How close to the plate, on which side, and in what order the knives, spoons, and forks should go. But knowing it served me well when writing historical stories.

The British still keep many rules of etiquette, from what temperature to serve tea, how to curtsy, or what “fascinator” to wear for each occasion… probably due to the Monarchy.

Japan still honors the “Tea ceremony,” a complicated ritual to make the perfect cup of tea to show appreciation for someone special.

Japan also adheres to a stringent etiquette and applies it to their business dealings. Here, again, maybe it’s a lingering remnant of the Samurai and of the Imperium. Like walking to the left of, and one step behind a superior, a teacher (Martial arts) or a husband (for a woman).

The Samurai cast used to not just bow and obey without question, but they would lay down their lives for the honor of their overlord… even committing Seppuku (ritual suicide) taking the blame to preserve their lord’s honor.

My mom used to say that punctuality was the politeness of the kings, their only way to show respect to others. Ever since, I like to be punctual, if not early for every circumstance. Maybe it’s a sign of self-importance on my part? It makes me feel like royalty.

In the US, however, except for a formal dinner at the White House, etiquette seems to have vanished from daily lives. There used to be a dress code to board a plane. Not anymore.

If I believe the dating sites, not showing up or showing up late for a date is common place. No one seems to care anymore. Is this a lack of respect for others? Or just a sign of the times. Our hectic lives give us all kinds of excuses to skip formalities.

I used to send good wishes to friends and family for the new year, a letter, a card. Now, they are lucky to get an email every other year. Still, some of my friends keep making hand-made cards and sending them in the mail for special occasions. She says she enjoys making them, and it’s like a relaxing hobby.

I feel guilty for not reciprocating, but who has the time? Still, I keep these hand-made cards, like precious relics of a tradition which will soon disappear. You can’t stop progress, but maybe we should sometimes look back and consider what we lost in the bargain.

I use many details of cultural etiquette in my books, even in Science Fiction, even with strong heroines and brave heroes. 

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Happy Reading!

Vijaya Schartz, award-winning author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats
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