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.