Thursday, March 1, 2018

Writers and Chocolate - by Vijaya Schartz

The young heroine in these books loves chocolate. See all of Vijaya's books
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I recently autographed my books at the Glendale Chocolate Affaire just before Valentine's day. It made me think about chocolate and its influence on our society. But more interestingly, is it a health food? or is it responsible for weight gain?
Vijaya Schartz holding her latest BWL release, ANGEL OF LUSIGNAN
Writers are addicted to it... so are most readers. We are all guilty of this indulgence. Chocolate is addictive... but did you know it's also a health food?

The pre-Columbian rulers of Central and South America drank it and called it the food of the gods. It was said to keep them young, healthy, and beautiful. 

When the conquistadores brought it back to Europe it quickly became a sensation.

It was a favorite drink at the court of the French king Louis XIV and a beverage reserved for the ruling class. It's only in the 20th century that it spread to the working classes and became a favorite winter drink for all.

There are many ways to drink or eat chocolate. Not all are healthy. My Tai-Chi teacher drinks it with a little Cayenne pepper. Excellent for the heart.

Is chocolate really a health food? Did you know that eating a small piece of 100% dark chocolate every single day will keep your hair from falling? But there is a catch. To be effective as a health food, chocolate should not be mixed with a lot of sugar or other carbohydrates. Sorry. No chocolate cake or candy will do the trick. Only pure dark chocolate will do. I love it. It's a little bitter... an acquired taste. But hey, it works for me.

Chocolate is also touted to be a mood enhancer and I tend to agree.

Wishing you all a wonderful end of winter, with lots of hot chocolate.

Vijaya Schartz
  Action, Romance, Mayhem
  Amazon - Barnes & NobleSmashwords -

Monday, January 22, 2018

Free writers workshops Feb. 10 at the Glendale Chocolate Affaire

Free Workshops

Downtown Glendale around the Velma Teague Library in Murphy Park is the place to be when chocolate, romance, and fun come together February 9th, 10th, and 11th 2018!
Come meet some of your favorite local Romance Authors, and on Saturday February 10th, attend these amazing (and free) writing workshops (Come to the book signing booth on 58th Ave by the beer and wine stand for exact location and directions to the workshop room - No registration necessary):
10 a.m.
Social Media Made Simply / Leslie Keller
This session will cover four social media outlets; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Goodreads to maximize the author’s marketing resources.
L.A. Keller used her experience in the restaurant business, and love of the Arizona desert, to create the characters for her cozy mysteries. Menu for Murder, the first book in the series, has received five star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.  Cocktails at Sunset continues the story of Jayne Stanford the less-than-stellar server.  The third book in the series, No Reservations is underway and expected to be completed in early 2018.  Leslie has published articles in Writer’s Digest, Desert Sleuths and Sisters in Crime publications. Her limited free time is spent hiking in the Arizona desert, savoring wine, and as a volunteer for animal rescues. As a breast cancer survivor, she volunteers for EBeauty, a non-profit organization created to support women undergoing treatment for cancer. She lives in Phoenix, with her partner and their two rescue cats.
11 a.m.
The Art of the Short Story / Tina Radcliffe
Get the inside scoop on the short story market. Learn:
  • Types of short stories and length.
  • The short story plot.
  • Short story techniques
  • Submission Tips & Tricks & Term Definitions
  • Markets
Originally from Western, N.Y., author Tina Radcliffe left home for a tour of duty with the Army Security Agency stationed in Augsburg, Germany and ended up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. While living in Tulsa she spent ten years as a Certified Oncology R.N. A freelance writer for over twenty years, is a founding member of Seekerville, a 13 author blog currently in its TENTH year. Seekerville is a Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers award winner for five years and counting.
An RWA Honor Roll member, Tina is also a two-time RWA Golden Heart finalist, a 2012 ACFW Carol Award finalist for Oklahoma Reunion, a 2014 ACFW Mentor of the Year finalist, a 2014 Golden Quill finalist and a 2014 ACFW Carol Award winner for Mending the Doctor’s Heart.
In 2016 Safe in the Fireman’s Arms was a HOLT Medallion Award of Merit Finalist, a Bookseller’s Best finalist, and a NERFA finalist.  In 2017 Rocky Mountain Reunion was a HOLT Medallion Award of Merit Finalist. She has won first place in over twenty RWA chapter affiliated contests in her career.
Her 8th release from Harlequin/Harper Collins under the Love Inspired Imprint releases in January 2018. As a short story writer, she has sold over two dozen short stories to Woman’s World Magazine.
Tina is a member of Romance Writers of America, including the Kiss of Death Chapter, Saguaro Romance Writers and the Valley of the Sun Romance Writers. She is also a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, to include her local chapter of ACFW, Christian Writers of the West.  A popular workshop speaker, she currently resides in Arizona where she writes fun, heartwarming romance.
Tina is represented by Jessica Alvarez of BookEnds Literary, LLC.
12 pm.
Organized Pantsing / Patricia Batta
Are you a pantser or a plotter? If you are a pantser, what kind of problems do you encounter trying to bring your plot together? This session will give some examples of those problems and introduce a method that may help avoid those pitfalls.
A Michigan native, Pat attended Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City, received her BA from the University of Puerto Rico, and went on to Oberlin College for a Master’s in Teaching (MAT).  Pat has worked as an elementary teacher, an editorial assistant on a magazine, a litigation document control librarian, a business records manager, and various temporary jobs in between. She lived and worked in Ohio and Pennsylvania before she and her husband moved to Seattle, Washington, where they lived for twenty-one years, and where the Marge Christensen Mystery Series was born.  After a few years back in Pennsylvania caring for her terminally ill husband, she spent ten years in Michigan to look after her aging mother and complete five books in the series. Pat has now settled in Prescott, where she completed the sixth book in the Marge Christensen series and the first in the Katie in Cactus series and expects to spend the rest of her life writing.  Pat is active in church and community, reads, walks, travels, and enjoys almost anything a friend would like to do.
1 p.m.
MARKETING IS NOT FOR SISSIES – How I’ve Failed to Grow My Readership with Costly and Even Free Promotions / Cathy McDavid
There are many things authors can do in an attempt to increase sales. Some of them aren’t cheap. Most require an investment of time. Cathy McDavid will share the various strategies she’s tried and her lackluster results (all with the hope of learning and improving).
In the third grade, NY Times, USA Today and Amazon bestselling author Cathy McDavid made it her goal to read every Black Stallion book ever written. Who knew such an illustrious ambition would eventually lead to a lifelong love of all things western and a career writing contemporary romances for Harlequin? With over 1.3 million books sold, Cathy is also a member of the prestigious Romance Writers of America’s Honor Roll. This “almost” Arizona native and mother of grown twins is newly married to her own real-life sweetheart. After leaving the corporate world two years ago, she now spends her days penning stories about good looking cowboys riding the range, busting broncs, and sweeping gals off their feet. It a tough job, but she’s willing to make the sacrifice
2 p.m.
Rich Characters Require Research by Merle McCann and Susan Budavari
While research is essential in writing well-founded characters, there are limitations and pitfalls in the process. We will discuss common mistakes writers make and how to avoid them
Susan Budavari has always loved reading mysteries. After years as a scientific writer and encyclopedist in the pharmaceutical industry, she began writing mysteries herself.  Many of her short stories have appeared in award-winning anthologies, several of which she co-edited. She writes the Merano & Bell Novel series featuring a Corvalle, Arizona, private investigator (and ex-NJ cop) and his physician wife. “Deadly Listing” and “Bargain For Life” are the first two books in the series. The third, “Chain of Lies”, is due out in 2018. She serves on the board of Desert Sleuths Sisters in Crime.
Although award-winning author, Merle McCann, is an eclectic writer, she finds she can’t keep mystery out of her writing. Before writing fiction, she worked as a paralegal, banker, scenic photographer, and partnered with her husband in their professional Arabian horse business and financial consulting firm. Besides her many published short stories, she has written a mystery series for middle readers, “The Longjohners Mysteries.” In the past several years, she has written three adult novels, “The Permanent Solution,” a thriller; “Fist Full of Grit,” an historical mystery set in the Palouse Country of the NW; and “Vagabonds & Kings,” an historical saga set between the turn of the century and WWI. After fifteen years of service, she recently retired from the Board of Directors of Desert Sleuths, Sisters in Crime.
3 p.m.
How many Publishers do you Need, if Any? / Vijaya Schartz
It’s difficult enough to find a publisher… now you need more than one? What about self-publishing? In this fluid publishing landscape, it’s important to know all your options and keep them open. Learn the pitfalls, the benefits, the challenges, the rewards… and the pros and cons of having a publisher, or two, or three. When to self-publish and when not to.
Small publishers have been known to close without warning. Large houses can fire your editor, shut down your line, stop your series half way through, or spit you out if your sales fizzle. Worse… they may hold all your rights for decades, and you are stuck in a loveless relationship. Today’s smart authors often choose to write for more than one publisher, sometimes even in different genres, or under different names. Learn how to keep your sanity while making all your publishers happy. What’s best for you? Come and find out.
Born in France, award-winning author Vijaya Schartz never conformed to anything and could never refuse a challenge. She likes action and exotic settings, in life and on the page. She traveled the world and claims she must be a time traveler, since she writes with the same ease about the far past and the far future. With over twenty-five titles published, Vijaya Schartz writes action adventure laced with sensuality and suspense, in exotic, medieval, or futuristic settings. Her books collected many five star reviews and literary awards. She makes you believe you actually lived these extraordinary adventures among her characters. Her stories have been compared to Indiana Jones with sizzling romance, and she takes that as a compliment anytime. She writes to entertain.
4 p.m.
From Dreams to Reality / Ross Caligiuri
A writing workshop designed to establish and understand the connection between creative thinking and the subconscious mind, formulating the skills and behaviors needed to introduce attendees to the practice of comprehending their internal thoughts while generating ideas. The class will prepare participants with the ability to work from initial conception to story outlining at the highest level while introducing basic creative skills including: free writing, acquiring inspiration, developing character orientation, efficient story summaries, sincere relationship building, world positioning, and direct subconscious citations. The course will place equal or greater emphasis on composition skills such as: outline structure, coherence, unity, sentence flow and rhythm, grammar, vocabulary, spelling and mechanics.
Creator of the captivating ‘Dreaming in the Shadows’ series, Ross Caligiuri has spent most of his life writing and performing within the music industry. Life often is the university that provides us with the tools we need to create.
5 p.m.
Putting it All Together / Butterscotch Martini Girls
Ready to stick your head in the oven because you think there isn’t another story left inside? Would you rather face Freddie Kreuger and the running car than your keyboard? Join the Butterscotch Martini Girls for an hour of the shenanigans these girls are known for, while learning how a story comes together—BMG style. Whether you’re an author or a reader, this event is for you!!!
What do logos, blabs, and boxed sets all have in common?” It is…The Butterscotch Martini Girls!!! BMGs is a group of writers to came together for support, fun, promotion and, of course, Butterscotch Martinis.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Backlight: A Fesler Family Chronicle Release

Backlight: A Fesler Family Chronicle Paperback – September 3, 2017
Backlight, A Fesler Family Chronicle In the theatre, a backlight illuminates the shapes of the actors and the set but masks the details to create illusory truth. Backlight tells the shadow tale of a family’s trek across continents and generations. One family journeyed from Switzerland in the 1600s through Germany to Pennsylvania Colony in the 1700s, into Indiana in the 1800s, and then to Arizona in the 1900s, always searching for a better life. The Fesler saga mirrors the experiences of millions of Americans, no matter their heritage or land of origin. This work is part history, part fiction but a whole attempt to understand the people and forces that help shape us. The more we understand, the better we can consciously choose directions for our future as a family, a nation, and a world.

Amazon  Ms. Toby Fesler Heathcotte

Nonfiction Checklist Editing Workshop

  1. Does your opening involve a person experiencing an event? If not, do you have such a scene elsewhere that would be a better opening?
  2. Is there something visual on each page, something for the reader to imagine?
  3. In an article, does the action build to a climax or make point after point on a plateau?
  4. In a book, does the end of each chapter point toward the next?
  5. Have you summarized material that could make interesting scenes?
  6. Have you raised questions and then delayed answering them to create suspense?
  7. Does the piece reverberate with other times, other places, or other people?
  8. Have you consciously tried to create stress in your reader?
  9. Could the weakest segment of the piece be cut or condensed?
  10. Have you eliminated most adjectives, adverbs, and repetitive phrases?
  11. Have you cut all clichés? “Say it new or say it straight.”
  12. Have you replaced similes and metaphors that are tired or strained?
  13. Have you padded the piece with description?
  14. Have you used fiction techniques to characterize the people you mention?
  15. Can you convert any sentence to a question to arouse curiosity?
  16. Have you used short sentences and small paragraphs to create a fast pace?

Adapted from Stein on Writing by Sol Stein.

Posted by Toby Fesler Heathcotte
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Fiction Checklist Editing Workshop

  1. Do you show more than tell? Do you create a balance between scenes and narrative that is enjoyable to read?
  2. Do you display characters’ emotions through action and dialogue rather than  describe them in words such as angry or sullen?
  3. Do you introduce characters with a few imaginative details rather than a character summary?
  4. Do you establish characters thru action, interior monologue, and dialogue rather than describe them?
  5. Do you use back story sparingly, introducing it only when needed?
  6. Do you introduce setting with imaginative details, a bit at a time?
  7. Which point of view are you using and why? Is it consistent?
  8. Do you use interior monologue to show your characters’ thoughts and feelings? Do you avoid the words “he thought” and use italics sparingly in the I point of view?
  9. Is your narrative proportional, spending time on the most important elements?
  10. Does your dialogue sound natural when you read it aloud? Have you used word choice, cadence, and grammar to reflect dialect?
  11. Have you eliminated all “ly” words and paragraphs opening with a speaker attribution?
  12. Do you use “said” to clarify who is speaking or a beat of action to attribute dialogue to characters rather than unnecessary attributions, such as he snapped or she chuckled?
  13. Have you used ellipses for gaps and dashes for interruptions?
  14. Do you use beats between dialogue to illuminate character and make it unique?
  15. Do you vary the length of your paragraphs, your scenes, your chapters for variety and flow?
  16. Is your manuscript free of repetitions of phrases, ideas, and actions?
  17. Have you minimized “as” and “ing” constructions, clichés, explicit sex scenes, profanity?
  18. Have you used good grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation?

Adapted from Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Rennie Browne and Dave King     

Posted by Toby Fesler Heathcotte
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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Is technology messing up our lives? by Vijaya Schartz

 We rely on technology so much these days, that the simplest hick-ups can ruin a perfectly good day... or week... and even a life. As a science fiction writer (among other genres) I love futuristic technology, but it sometimes gives me nightmares.

I remember  a long time ago someone saying "If cars were as unreliable as computers, no one would drive." Well, now computers drive our cars as well. Last summer, a Tesla on autopilot ran full speed into a semi, killing the non-driver. As much as we would like to think technology is perfect, it isn't. And Uber is implementing driverless cars!

We have learned to accept these glitches as growing pains. And like everyone else, I did, gracefully... until a few days ago, when Firefox updated their browser.... and my personal nightmare started.

"Faster and more powerful" said the update. All of a sudden, my passwords were not recognized... most of them anyway. I am still locked out of my main email account with Cox.... and cut out from my business mail. I can't access my account at Amazon. Facebook still works, and so does my online banking, but I am scared to even try to access many of my regular writers and readers sites, for fear of the nightmare.

I tried to contact Cox, of course, but their automatic phone butler keeps you listening to music for hours and never lets you speak to an operator.

"Just reset your password," says one site... but in order to do so, they must accept my old password, which they don't. Then they say they'll send you an email to confirm and you will have to acknowledge the change by clicking the link they emailed you, before you can log in again.... but I can't access my email! Grrrrr.

Although usually comfortable navigating cyberspace, I suddenly feel inadequate. Am I getting old? Am I wrong to expect updates not to mess up my carefully organized life? Or is there something more sinister going on?

Maybe there is a story in here... every life experience can be fodder for popular fiction, right? Imagine a world where glitchy computers make life and death decisions... Or is it already happening, and we are not aware of it?

There is a big difference between technology and progress. Although we are making great leaps in technology, progress lags behind, since progress is the evolution of the human mind and the human condition. I think mutual respect, quality of work and life, and caring customer service are part of progress, but these seem to be sorely lacking in today's society.

Sorry for venting here, but I was wondering if you had similar experiences with glitchy technology.

  Vijaya Schartz
  Action, Romance, Mayhem
  Amazon - Barnes & NobleSmashwords -

Monday, October 30, 2017

WRITING ANGELS AS ALIENS - Fantasy or Science Fiction? by Vijaya Schartz

It's not always easy for a writer to figure out where what they write fits in the cookie cutter categories imposed by booksellers and promoters. Unfortunately, if the book doesn't fit perfectly anywhere, it might be featured on the wrong sites and blogs, displayed on the wrong shelf where it will not sell, or be ignored completely.

White Tiger is an award-winning Science Fiction/Fantasy romance
featuring a medieval type of society on another planet
along with technologically advanced aliens
 FREE in eBook everywhere
 This is especially true for writers like me, who like to mix genres. Since I'm rarely satisfied with one straight genre as a reader, the same is true when I write. My next book blends Science Fiction (set in space, other planets, and a space station) with Fantasy (immortal angels with amazing powers, telepathic felines) and Romance (the love story at the crux of the book). I also like to write strong heroines, evil villains, a lot of action, and I enjoy portraying the fight between good and evil... where the margins are often blurred.

The Ancient Enemy series features the "Worst villain in Science Fiction... Captain Kavak" The heroines carry guns, like many of my heroines. They are the key to saving the human race. And romance is their reward.
So, where does my story fit? It's not literary since I write to entertain. It's not mainstream since Science Fiction and Fantasy are small niche markets. So, what is it?

One thing I have going for me is my voice. Whether I write medieval romance, fantasy, action adventure, or science fiction, the professional reviewers recognize my unique style... and they usually like my brand of fiction.  "Phenomenal world building, characters the readers care about, and an intriguing mystery... all the elements one expects from a Vijaya Schartz story! Easily recommended!" CK2sKwipsandKritique.
Ashes for the Elephant God is a unique brand of reincarnation romance
set in India. This award-winning book doesn't fit any category.
Originality and quality are good, I guess, but it takes longer for readers to discover your particular brand when it is spread over several genres. And not all are willing to cross genre from medieval to science fiction to contemporary romance.

The solution? Write for the market? I would never do that. I am proud to write the books of my heart, and I will continue writing them. I may not have as many readers as other popular authors, but my readers are fiercely loyal. They love my stories, and I love them, too. Fortunately, my publishers stick with me because they like my books as well.

My latest series, just completed this year, is Fantasy (based on authentic legends) and medieval, as well as romance.
So expect more romance, action, adventure, science fiction, fantasy, or historical stories, with exotic settings, strong heroines and despicable villains, where the fight between good and evil is front and center.

Happy Reading!

Vijaya Schartz
Action, Romance, Mayhem
Amazon - Barnes & Noble Smashwords 


Monday, October 2, 2017

The difference between horror and a little thrill - by Vijaya Schartz

Find all my BWL titles at your favorite online retailer by clicking on each title here

Let's face it, many books and movies nowadays focus on the scary, the morbid, the deadly, the darkness in people's souls. Some are masterfully written (thank you Mr. Stephen King) and that's well and good for those who relish the genre. Personally, it gives me nightmares. When a hopeless group of people is doomed to certain death by an unknown and unstoppable evil, watching them die one at a time in utter paralyzing fear, panic and dismembering bloodshed is not fun to me. Horror focuses on creating fear... a negative emotion that releases toxic chemicals in the human body.

You can find General KAVAK, "the worst villain in sci-fi history" in the Ancient Enemy series

In my novels, I prefer to focus on hope, and the courage of the brave heroes and heroines who overcome their fears to fight the battle of good vs. evil. Although reviewers said I write "The worst (meaning best) villains in sci-fi history," I do not need a large body count to demonstrate they are bad guys. Usually, one death by elephant, one human sacrifice, or one severed head rolling on the sand is enough to make my point... there are bad people out there, and demons, and things that go bump in the night. But in my books, for every demon there is a loving immortal, a determined human, or a half-angel willing to risk their very life to fight it.

The Archangel twin books, a tale of redemption in the battle of Good vs. Evil
In the world of medieval fantasy romance, I've been accused of writing bloody battle scenes, because I do not sugarcoat the middle ages. As a writer, I want to reflect the truth of the historical period according to my extensive research. In the horror genre, however, I would be considered an innocent babe. My goal is to write an uplifting story with flawed but worthy characters who constantly overcome their fears and limitations to save others.
The Curse of the Lost Isle series depicts the Middle Ages in a realistic way

Call me a boy scout if you like. I just like the good guys to win and redeem themselves in the process. I like action, adventure, and romance in my books, those I read and those I write. I've been accused of mixing genres, and I'm proud of it. So sue me. I live for the thrill of a good story, with heroic heroes and villainous villains, plenty of action and adventure, and a dash of romance.

Vijaya Schartz, author
Romance with a Kick

Monday, September 25, 2017

Writing Prompts by Cherie Lee

The Multi-billionaire:

Aging, the billionaire wanted to leave a life memorial for the living, especially since he had no living family members. He walks through his mansion and asks various servants, “Could you envision this place becoming a home for the elderly or orphans?”


What servants would he ask or would he ask every one this same question?

How many servants would work for him and would it be on a daily basis or less often?

What answers would he get?

Would he plan to remain in this home if it became a refugee for the elderly or for orphans?

How did he make his money? Legally or illegally? Would that make a difference in his decisions?

What would this place look like? Is it close to a city or town or be somewhere hard to get too?

Who would inherit his estate if none of the above were done?
What would happen if he started a home for the elderly and they all need specialized care? Would doctors and nurses become residents?

What if the orphans came and some had criminal backgrounds? Would he take a personal interest?
What would happen if he lost all of his money and he had elderly or orphans to care for? What would he do? Could he regain his wealth?

I hope this sparked your inspiration today.
Happy Writing.

Cherie Lee