Sunday, March 12, 2017

Kicking butts without fear - by Vijaya Schartz


 At one time in my writing career, I looked at the covers of my books and realized on each of them was a young woman with a gun. So I decided I was writing girls with guns, then girls with swords and blasters. Now, as I write in different genres, including medieval fantasy, it's Romance with a Kick.

When we say fearless, we are not talking about the absence of fear. Everyone has fears, it's ingrained in our DNA. Fear protects us from doing dangerous things. Those who have no fear at all die young. When fear threatens to overcome you, the trick consists in finding peace and clarity of mind, despite overwhelming or dangerous circumstances, and overcome fear in order to do what needs to be done.

I remember being about twelve, doing handstands in our small apartment, late at night. On the way down, my bare foot hit a heavy ceramic bowl, which broke, and a large shard gouged a hole in the top of my foot. Blood everywhere... for the first time in my life I saw my mother paralyzed by fear, babbling, unable to function. She could hardly breathe, she was so upset she couldn't think clearly. We had no phone, there was no 911 then. We had no car, it was a small town in France.

So, I remembered my martial arts teacher saying "Stay calm. Think. What needs to be done? Do it." So I did. I told my mother to get out of the room. I took a few deep breaths, then calmly asked my sister to get the first aid kit. I cleansed the wound with alcohol and bandaged the foot tightly to stop the flow of blood. Then I cleaned the blood in the living room. The next morning, I walked to the doctor's office and the doctor stitched me up. I carried a big scar on my foot for decades.

Of course, some of us are thrill seekers. Conquering fear has become a hobby of mine: jumping free fall out of perfectly good planes, braving the river wild, fighting opponents three times my size just to see if I can do it. I have to mention I stand barely 5 feet and a hundred and five pounds (on a good day) and was always picked by my various martial arts teachers for the time honored David and Goliath demonstration.



Skill, speed, balance, training, coordination, foreknowledge of the enemy, endurance, will power, clarity of mind, these are the elements of victory over fear. These are what drives a champion to the Olympic gold, what makes a fictional character worthy, what makes a soldier lethal. Although, in a soldier's case, there is something to be said for a good exoskeleton... especially on alien planets where gravity can play tricks on your balance.


MY TECHNIQUE TO BECOME FEARLESS IN EMERGENCY SITUATIONS:

1 - Take a few slow breaths, calm your mind, slow your heart, stop and focus
2 - What needs to be done?
3 - What's the most effective way to do it?
4 - Got it? Now, Just do it.

You may be tempted to think of the worst that can happen. Forget the consequences. Get over it. Do what needs to be done. Whether or not you become a hero, you'll have the satisfaction of having done the right thing. True heroes are ordinary people who, in extraordinary circumstances find the courage to do what needs to be done.

It's that simple. I said simple, I never said it would be easy. Good luck.


  Vijaya Schartz
  Romance with a Kick
  http://www.vijayaschartz.com
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Friday, February 24, 2017

My Grand Canyon Hike—January 26-29, 2017 - by Jane Ruby

Last year I wrote about my maiden descend to the historic Phantom Ranch in the Grand Canyon “basement.”  I enjoyed everything about this wintertime, eight-woman, historical and cultural tour. It motivated me to enroll in this year’s trip,not realizing that winter conditions can affect the enjoyment factor.
 

In 2016, our descent to the Colorado River occurred before a snowstorm and subsequent cold front. We had no difficulty descending the South Kaibab Trail, its first mile covered by a few inches of hard pack snow and ice. The same went for ascending the Bright Angel Trail a few days later, its last mile covered by less than a foot of fresh powder. Mule service to and from Phantom Ranch was never interrupted.
This year was drastically different. Our descent was scheduled after three heavy snowstorms. Several feet of snow blanketed the first three miles from the rim. Park Service closed the South Kaibab Trail and suspended mule service. Idle mule drivers and wranglers weren’t making money, so they helped the cause by shoveling out “The Chimney,” the first half-mile and steepest section of the South Kaibab Trail.

A day before our descent,one of our guides checked conditions of The Chimney and a mile further to Cedar Ridge.  She rated both sections passable. The weather forecast called for sunny weather, so we got the green light for our Friday morning descent.

At first light, we started our descent, equipped with poles, crampons and boot gators. Though dug out, the trail was still covered with hard pack and ice.We took twice as long as last year, fighting the chunky unstable conditions.

The descent got even tougher below Cedar Ridge (barely two miles down),which hadn’t been shoveled at all. Only a narrow strip of surface was packed (probably by a few day hikers and our tour guide). Deviating from this strip meant a sudden dropping to two to three feet of snow—very unnerving! It felt like walking on dinosaur eggs!

The area between Cedar Ridge and Skeleton Point was most treacherous. Our lead guide, a thirty-year veteran of this trail slowed our pace because she couldn’t see the trail’s edge. One wrong step and we could have plunged through the snowdrift and down a few thousand feet! I wondered why we weren’t fastened to safety lines. It didn’t help when an ascending group of hikers approached us. We had to lean against the cliff wall to let them pass.

Somehow we survived the trek to Skeleton Point, where the snow ended and only a few ice patches remained. We kept our crampons on until reaching “The Tip Off,” approximately five miles down.My stress level decreased, but muscle burn had already set in. We made more stops to rehydrate and snack than we did last year—odd for a descent. I ran out of gas the last mile and trudged the flat river trail to Phantom Ranch. The descent took seven hours.Upon arriving at our cabin,I stretched for an hour, napped for another and lingered in a warm shower until dinner.

Phantom Ranch was in dire straits because of suspended mule service. We watched helicopters with fixed lines haul away a week’s worth of trash (two trips) as well as drop down food and beverage for Phantom Ranch guests.

Our hike was supposed to be mule-assisted, so my pack weighed a few extra pounds despite eliminating batteries, rain gear, and extra change of clothes. I was determined, however, to haul down my first novel, “The Azurite Encounter,” depositing it on the cantina’s bookshelf. It weighed less than a pound and was worth leaving behind most of my toiletries in the car.

I have mixed feelings about this year’s trip to Phantom Ranch. Yes, the canyon views were breathtaking. Yes, I enjoyed meeting other hikers at the Phantom Ranch. But I didn’t enjoy the mental and physical stress of the descent.  The only saving grace was my group.They kept a positive attitude the entire time, which helped me. We spent much of our “recupe” playing the card game, “Uno.” I mentioned to my group how the characters in my novel also passed the time playing Uno on their Grand Canyon trip. My group requested I do a reading over dinner. How flattering!Other dinner attendees heard my reading, and after dinner, one hiker took my book off the shelf to read!

Our ascent to the rim did not seem as grueling.  My spirits were lifted by the humor of my lady compadres. Like young spring deer they passed me, yelling something about rainbow colored Skittles. I was at least a half hour behind them but could still hear their encouraging words bellowing down to me.


Don’t think I’ll ever do a winter hike to Phantom Ranch again, but I have enough memories and photos to enjoy and share. My advice to anyone considering this trip: Know your limits, check the weather, and make sure the tour has a refundable cancellation policy. There’s no shame in “chickening out” in the name of safety. It’s less stressful to postpone your trip than trying to “tough it out” and risk sudden death.

 
Jane Frances Ruby 
Award-Winning Author 
The Azurite Encounter 
www.TheAzuriteEncounter.com 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Romance authors at the Glendale Chocolate Affaire

The Glendale Chocolate Affaire started just over two decades ago under the sponsorship of Joe Ceretta, the owner of the Ceretta Candy Company, located in Glendale Arizona. 
Joe Ceretta, initiator of the Glendale Chocolate Affaire.
This event usually runs on the Superbowl weekend, the first weekend of February, shortly before Valentine's Day. It takes place in Murphy Park, around the Velma Teague Library and goes on Friday night, Saturday all day and night, and Sunday afternoon. The theme is Chocolate and Romance, and since the inception, the local Romance Writers have been part of this event.
Getting Ready Friday night - an impressive lineup of authors
View from above. The Glendale Glitters are still decorating the trees since the holidays.
This year (unlike some previous years when it was cold or rainy) the weather was balmy, the sun shone on the event, and the crowds came to attend the free event. This year it gathered a whooping 85,000 visitors. There were vendors of chocolate, of course, and all kinds of sweets and yummy crepes and sausages and fried bread, wine, beer, chocolate-covered fruit, and many mouth-watering delights, like pulled pork and delicious curly fries drowned in melting cheese. You will also find there popcorn, hats, jewelry, art, and a trove of other treasures for Valentine's Day gifts.

On Saturday, many of the participating authors also gave free writing workshops in the Civic Center Annex, for aspiring writers of all popular genres, on how to write, edit, polish a novel, and get it published, as well on how to market it.

Sunglasses and summer wear de rigueur on this warm February day in Arizona
The most exciting thing for writers about this event, is the opportunity to meet their readers, year after year, as they return to tell them how much they liked last year's books, and to check what new titles they have published since the last Affaire.

So, if you live in Arizona, or happen to visit at that time of year, and if you like romance or chocolates, mark your calendars for next year and come say hi to our local Romance authors, at the Glendale Chocolate Affaire.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Lusignan, a real place and a real family, with its legend of Melusine the Fae

Since the Curse of the Lost Isle medieval fantasy series is based upon authentic legends, I get to see the places where my characters may have roamed a millennium ago. 
ANGEL OF LUSIGNAN Was released January 20, 2017, I feel very excited about this last novel in the series.

One might believe because Melusine is an immortal Fae, that she did not exist. When you visit Lusignan, however, she seems very real. The entire region of northern Aquitaine is called "Melusine country" and traces of the ondine with a scaly tail is still alive there.
I can see my hero and heroine in this terrain, under the walls of the castle. In Lusignan and all around, in Vouvant and Mervent, you find her name on the many shops.


She is on the facade of official buildings, sometimes discreet, and sometimes flaunting her scales or her dragon wings to whomever is passing by.


 
 
 
 
 
Moreover, Melusine founded the very real family of Lusignan, a royal house of French origin, which ruled much of Europe and the Levant, including the kingdoms of Jerusalem, Cyprus, and Armenia, from the 12th through the 15th centuries during the Middle Ages.

Out of this family came not only the royal family of Lusignan, but later, through Eleanor of Aquitaine, the royal families of England, and the Valois and the Bourbon royal families of France.


Does this mean the angel blood running in Melusine's veins a thousand years ago still runs in her descendants? I want to believe it. After all, there is always a kernel of truth at the heart of every legend.

Learn more about the legend of Melusine, her mother and her sisters, in the Curse of the Lost Isle medieval fantasy series HERE

Catch up with the series for the best price, with the boxed set of books 1-2-3-4 HERE 
From history shrouded in myths, emerges a family of immortal Celtic Ladies, who roam the medieval world in search of salvation from a curse. For centuries, imbued with hereditary gifts, they hide their deadly secret, stirring passions in their wake as they fight the Viking hordes, send the first knights to the Holy Land, give birth to kings and emperors... but if the Church ever suspects what they really are, they will be hunted, tortured, and burned at the stake.

HAPPY READING!

Vijaya Schartz
  Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick
  http://www.vijayaschartz.com
  Amazon - Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

New Release: ANGEL OF LUSIGNAN is out - by Vijaya Schartz

ANGEL OF LUSIGNAN
Curse of the Lost Isle - Book 8
medieval fantasy romance

Find it on Amazon HERE

Out today in kindle and in paperback. Don't miss it. This lauded series, based upon authentic legends, is now complete.

Set in Aquitaine, ANGEL OF LUSIGNAN tells the most popular legend of Melusine the Fae, as she founds, with knight Raymond of Forez, the famous and infamous family of LUSIGNAN. Their descendants, later became royalty and reigned in England, France, and in the Middle East. Among them, Eleanor of Aquitaine and her descendants, and the king of Jerusalem and king of Cyprus. Lusignan and their other estates of Vouvant and Mervent became the cradle of the Valois and Bourbon royal dynasties of France.

Although the book is a complete story in itself, if you are like me, you'll want to read the complete series, especially as this character grows from novel to novel, from Scotland to Luxembourg, to Forez, and to Aquitaine.

This was a labor of love. My mother still lives in the land of Melusine, and suggested long ago that I bring Melusine's story to the world at large. Here it is. Thank you, Mom for suggesting it. I enjoyed writing the series. I hope you enjoy reading it

Blurb:
Young knight Raymond of Forez, blaming himself for his uncle's death in a hunting accident, falls off his horse at the very sight of the lovely Melusine. He has no knowledge of their turbulent past. Even less that she is an immortal Fae with angel blood... afflicted by a curse. He doesn’t believe in the local legends... yet how can he resist such beauty and loving wisdom?

Melusine, who waited for him in Aquitaine, is full of remembered love. But can she trust this young knight with her mission, or her deadly secrets? In this explosive religious climate, the Church is suspicious of everyone, and the slightest rumor of witchery or Pagan magic could send them both burning at the stake. Can their love overcome the curse this time?

Here is the entire series: Find it on Amazon HERE
  
 Also check out the boxed set of the first four novels in the series HERE



HAPPY  READING!

Vijaya Schartz
  Romance with a Kick
  http://www.vijayaschartz.com
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Sunday, January 15, 2017

I couldn't wait to write science fiction again - by Vijaya Schartz

Although I'm itching to write science fiction again, after a long series of medieval fantasy romance, I find it difficult to leave the wonderful world of immortals with strange powers. So, I decided to write a science fiction romance series involving a planet where the inhabitants have angelic abilities.

I call the series: AZURA-5 ANGEL PLANET. Book One will be ANGEL MINE, and it involves a kick-butt female bounty hunter and an angelic alien. I only wrote the first chapter, and I love them already and can't wait to develop their story. I even have these characters in mind. Yes, the big cat is also a character. What do you think? I hope the cover designer for my publisher chooses to use the pictures I selected, or something very similar.





Here is the blurb (so far).

What in the frozen hells of Laxxar prompted Fianna to pursue her quarry to this forbidden blue planet? Well, she needs the credits... badly. But as if crashing in the jungle wasn't bad enough, none of her high-tech weapons work. She'll have to go native, after the most wanted felon in five galaxies. It's not just her job. It's personal.

Acielon has never seen an outworlder like this fascinating female, strangely beautiful, and fierce, like the feline predator loping at her side. He always dreamed of exploring the universe, despite the legends... and the interdiction. Is it truly a hellish place of violence, lies and suffering? If it spawned this intriguing creature, it must also be a place of wonders, adventure and excitement...

Fianna's hunter instincts tell her someone is watching. Sheba, her telepathic feline partner, doesn't seem worried... yet, something on Azura isn't quite right.


The book will probably come out in the summer of 2017. In the meantime, you can read my other science fiction romances in ebook or print from these distributors.

HAPPY READING!

Vijaya Schartz
Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick

  http://www.vijayaschartz.com
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