Monday, June 8, 2020


I was always fascinated by the multiplicity of languages, cultures, and different kinds of writing. My research about the origins of the written word only proved that not all the experts agree, but this is what I gathered. 


In every Asian country, there is a legend saying that writing was a science of the gods, and they taught it to man as a means to impart their knowledge. This explains why the most ancient writings are religious in nature and tell of the life and exploits of the ancient gods, as well as ancient teachings, like the knowledge of medicinal plants, acupuncture, etc.
 

In China, Cangjie, who, according to legend, brought writing to the court of the Yellow Emperor, was a very unique individual. He was described as having four eyes. Not your typical human being. 

A Chinese character is an entire word in itself, often a graphic representation, an image that evolved over time. The pictogram for rain, for example, represents a stylized window and the falling rain seen through that window, with a flat cloud above. The writing is read from top to bottom and from right to left, allowing continuous writing on long scrolls. 


Since Chinese is an agglutinant language, it doesn’t use prepositions or other small connecting words. The placement of the word inside the sentence clarifies the meaning (who is doing what to whom, how, why, where, whether it’s a noun, a verb, an adjective, etc.)
 

In the late 6th Century AD, a mass political exile saw large numbers of Chinese emigrating to Japan. They took with them the teachings of Confucius and their system of writing. Since the native islanders of the time (the ancient Ainu tribes) didn’t have writing, they used the Chinese ideograms to write their own language. Then different emigrants came to the islands and mixed with the Ainu and the Chinese to form the Japanese people. They wrote with Chinese characters, same meaning, different pronunciation, using the same brush strokes. 


However, the Japanese used a number of one-syllable connecting words to form sentences, and there were no phonetic syllables in Chinese. So, they added a number of small, simple connecting characters, called Hiragana, representing phonetic syllables, which are also used today to teach children to read and write, before they can memorize the thousands of complicated pictograms or ideograms (Kanji) necessary to read and write the main language.
 

Legends of India say that the Mahabharata, an ancient epic depicting the exploits of the gods during their time on Earth, was recited by the sage Vyasa from the oral tradition, while Lord Ganesha himself (the Elephant God) penned it down… implying that only the gods could write.
 

Other legends of India also portray the gods teaching writing to their people. Sanskrit is one of the oldest forms of sophisticated written language, used to write the Vedas. But it doesn’t use images, only letters linked together to form sounds and words. Sound is very important in India. Some sacred sounds are so powerful (like the mantras) that they are believed to manifest divinity.
 

In 3400 BC a cuneiform type of writing developed in Mesopotamia. Legend says it was given to the Sumerians by their Anunnaki gods, those who from the heavens came. The oldest tablets tell of the interactions of the Anunnaki with their human workers, stories of the flood, etc. The characters represented stylized Sumerian or Akkadian objects. Soon, these symbols were also used to represent specific sounds.
 

Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs seem to have derived from Sumerian cuneiform writing. Sometimes they represent an object, an animal, a river, a sacred symbol. However, a bird doesn’t necessarily mean a bird, but the phonetic sound of the bird’s name, which is used as a syllable in a longer word or name. To indicate that, the full name of a Pharaoh, for example, is enclosed into a cartouche. 


Since I want to keep this post brief, I will continue this history of the written word in parts 2 and 3, in the next two months.

In the meantime, you can read my CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE series, where history and Celtic legends collide. Years of research went into it, and the result is an edgy medieval fantasy saga. Find it at - Amazon - B&N - Smashwords and more.  
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, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes

http://www.vijayaschartz.com
amazon B&N - Smashwords - Kobo FB 

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Science fiction, fantasy, or a reflection of our reality?

The most popular stories are written to entertain, by authors concerned about the issues of their day. No matter what we write, the questions in our minds have a way of popping up into our work, and like good little problem solvers, our brains imagine possible solutions. 

 


The best stories often take inspiration from legends and myths and ancient history, which are part of our cultural background and define the way we think. Many great storytellers throughout history tried to illuminate the problems of their day through such tales, from Homer (Odysseus), to Shakespeare, to Victor Hugo (Les Miserables), to Jules Vernes, Hemingway, Faulkner, and closer to us, Glen A. Larson (Battlestar Galactica), Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek), J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter), George Lucas (Indiana Jones, Star Wars), James Cameron (Avatar)… the list goes on.




But even in a very elaborate and colorful fictional world, created by a talented storyteller, what sticks inside our minds are the people involved in the story… their struggles, their mistakes, their strengths, their resilience, their determination… and their weaknesses. We can relate to them. We wonder what we would do in similar circumstances. We wonder whether we would have the courage to do the right thing… if we could figure out what the right thing is.



Whether it’s good vs evil, or the dangers of totalitarian empires, or whether the machines will one day take over our lives, these hypothetical stories have roots in what happened before or what might happen if we are not vigilant. I like being entertained with a tale that makes me wonder how we can improve as individuals and as a society. Fiction allows the writer to tackle hypothetical situations in a neutral setting, without ruffling too many political or religious feathers. It gives us the perfect stage for freedom of expression, philosophy and satire.

I predict that in the years to come, pandemics may become a sci-fi sub-genre. It will depict heroic health workers, overwhelmed hospital ships, suffering, tragic death tolls in senior care sick bays, disorganization, catastrophic mistakes, selfishness, greed, corruption, as well as self-sacrifice, and unimaginable acts of kindness… and that will become a classic theme for many stories to come, because this generation of authors will have lived through it… and so will their readers. 



Like World War II or 9-11, this pandemic experience will become part of the collective memory, part of the recorded archives of our generation… part of the experience of the modern human race.

But unlike today’s grim reality, popular sci-fi can offer a safe escape, where the sacrifices are not in vain, the heroes are rewarded in the end, and the villains get their comeuppance.

Happy Reading.

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes



Byzantium Space Station series
Standalone story

When bounty hunter Akira Karyudo accepted her assignment, something didn't add up. Why would the Galactic Trade Alliance want a kidnapped orphan dead or alive?

She will get to the truth once she finds the boy, and the no good SOB who snatched him from a psychiatric hospital. With her cheetah, Freckles, a genetically enhanced feline retriever, Akira sets out to flush them out of the bowels of the Byzantium space station. But when she finds her fugitives, the kidnapper is not what she expects.

Kazmo, a decorated Resistance fighter, stole his nephew from the authorities, who performed painful experiments on the boy. Stuck on Byzantium, he protects the child, but how can he shield him from the horribly dangerous conditions in the lawless sublevels of the space station?

Akira faces the worst moral dilemma of her career. Law or justice, duty or love. She can't have it both ways.

"Wow! If readers want to see and feel and believe they are in deep space, then "Akira's Choice" is the perfect choice! With a touch of romance, the vivid descriptions and beautifully developed characters masterfully presented by Schartz create a virtual world that invite the reader not merely to observe, but to walk amongst them and participate... This is a delicate art, and Schartz wields her weapons with precision and skill. Banzai!" 5 stars - exceptional - recommended read - Ind'tale Magazine


"A captivating story with interesting, appealing characters. Being a cat lover, I found the relationship, with its psychic element, between Freckles and Shane absolutely captivating. As always, Ms. Schartz’s solid plot and crisply-written prose incorporates a good blend of action and intrigue... This story can easily stand alone... but I believe you’ll enjoy this exciting Sci-Fi series much more if you start reading it from the beginning... a must read for all fans of Sci-Fi romance. Go pick them up and settle into your favorite armchair for some entertaining reading. 4.5 stars - Manic Readers

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Stuck at home? Listening to the news with growing anxiety? Dealing with confinement and social distancing, while worrying about your income or losing your 401K, can push our stress to intolerable levels. Here are a few of my stress relieving secrets to do at home. If it helps me keep my sanity, it might work for you as well.

It's me, front right, with the white shirt. You can do this at home.
Tai-Chi – an exercise you can do alone, at home. It doesn’t require any space and it doesn’t matter if you do it well or not, as long as you keep moving in a slow and constant flow. There are a number of free videos on U-tube. Just follow along as best you can. Apply yourself and you’ll get better as you go. It’s a practice that can help you deal with stress all year long and has a side effect of improving your general health. I practice Tai-Chi Essentials, which is derived from the 37 form, and developed exclusively for health purposes. (Harvard Medical school guide to Tai-Chi) 



Cat videos – When stressed, I find myself watching more and more cute cat videos on Facebook. Join a group like “I love cats” or a group with puppies if you are a dog person, and indulge in soft furry cuteness to free your mind of stressful thoughts and concerns. A good laugh, a chuckle, a few awwwws and your spirit can soar again. 

On TV – Last weekend, Animal Planet held a “Too Cute” marathon, featuring kittens and puppies and ducklings, and other furbabies. It was a big success, and they will probably do it again soon. Another advantage, it will also keep the kids, or grandkids also stuck at home, occupied and happy. 


Watching romantic movies and Christmas movies – Just like romance novels, romantic movies and Christmas movies are the perfect escape. You know in advance all will be okay at the end, so you feel safe sharing the obstacles the characters have to surmount to find their happily ever after. From your DVR, or Netflix or your favorite movie source. Some channels, like Hallmark and Hallmark Mysteries have also started to replay Christmas movies. I love them. 

Sit coms – my favorites are The Big Bang, Two and a half men, The Golden Girls. I always watch an episode or two late at night, before going to bed. It clears my mind for a good night sleep. 

I also like to cuddle with my cat, solve Crossword puzzles, and cook special meals for myself. I live alone, so I cook a batch then freeze individual portions to eat later. 

But the best relaxation device is a good novel or a favorite series. I prefer popular fiction, action, adventure, romance, mystery, fantasy, science fiction. Any story that can get you out of your worries and into a new, exciting world will buy you many hours of pure escape. 

The Curse of the Lost Isle - Celtic Legends series, is available in ebook and paperback HERE

I hope this helps you cope with these stressing times. If you want to check out my other books, visit my website or my page on amazon, B&N or your favorite online bookstore. Here are my latest releases (all are standalone stories with different sets of characters. The series indicates that they are set in the same universe). 


Happy Reading.

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes

ANGEL FIERCE
Azura Chronicles, Book 2
award-winning sci-fi romance


Something’s rotten on the angel planet. When Avenging Angels turn up dead, Urielle, their Legion Commander, suspects the handsome intruder brought unspeakable evil to Azura.

Maksou never met a woman he couldn’t seduce. He came to the forbidden planet to rescue his friends and get rich in the process, but the jungle crawls with lethal life forms… including a gorgeous warrior angel, who saves his life but keeps him prisoner and challenges his irresistible charm.

Urielle, sworn to protect Azura at all costs, has no use for a maverick who ignores the rules and endangers the planet… no matter how attractive. Especially when the Galactic Trade Alliance (GTA) wages a secret war to get their greedy hands on the priceless crystal at Azura’s core.


"This is a TERRIFIC story with angels, people doing questionable things for the right or good reasons and women who are more than strong. They are leaders and can kick butt as well as the men. It even brings in AI's and gives them (at least one) a chance to redeem their programming. Action packed from start to finish, it will keep you on the edge of your seat. What's next for the people of this planet?LOVED IT!" 5 stars on amazon

Monday, March 2, 2020

Can't wait until we make contact with aliens

The mainstream scientists finally agree that it would be impossible for us to be the only intelligent race in the universe. And it seems that many ancient texts all over the world speak of visitations of powerful gods wielding thunderbolts, and other strange beings, some blue of skin, some with many arms, some with wings, others who emerged from the sea… who possessed incredible technology and waged war in the skies on their chariots of fire. 

Gods warring in the sky in ancient sanskrit texts 


Since Chariots of the gods, by Erich Von Daniken was published in the seventies, science is now answering many of his questions. Ancient mythologies might have described aliens descending from the sky, and their advanced technology was interpreted as divine powers. Some ancient ruins show signs of being destroyed by nuclear weapons millennia ago, and are still radioactive. 



In the light of our quick progress and our push for establishing colonies on the Moon and on Mars, it stands to reason that, if they are watching us, these other galactic races with incredible technology will want to make official contact with us… before we develop into a full-blown interplanetary race and interfere with their domain. 



It may be that we will colonize the closest planets long before they make contact with us. What will we do when they make contact? How shall we communicate? Do we have a plan? 


In the movie ARRIVAL, a linguist is tasked to decipher the language of aliens attempting to communicate with us. Since language is intrinsically linked to a culture (believe me, as a French person living in the US, and writing in English, I find it to be the truth) understanding an alien race would mean learning about, and understanding their culture… to determine their intents. 



Why did they come? What do they want? Are they friendly and want to study us, like the adorable alien in E.T. or have they come to eat us and plunder our resources, like in INDEPENDENCE DAY? 



How will the Military react? What if they have a different notion of time? What if they want us to get to their level and offer new knowledge and advanced technology? What if they are our creators through DNA manipulation, and are checking on our progress? Will we pass the test or will they destroy us with a great flood or a plague? Are we evolved enough to understand their motives?


In a speech to the U.N. in 1987, President Ronald Reagan said, “I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world.“ Carl Sagan, Winston Churchill, Stephen Hawking, all considered the likelihood of our first contact. 

But how can negotiations happen between galactic cultures, without a world government able to represent the entire planet? It’s impossible when so many factions are at odds, when they wage political and religious wars against each other, and the world leaders have a selfish appetite for power. 

Some leaked reports say the governments of several countries are already working with different groups of aliens and replicating their technologies. Others say there are many alien factions as well, and they are at odds with each other. 

UFOs buzzed the White House in 1952

There is even a documented instance when Aliens attempted to make peaceful contact with the White House over half a century ago, but the powers of the time were not ready to make peace with the rest of the world or publicly acknowledge the presence of aliens. 

If World Peace is a condition for our admission in the Galactic Confederation of Planets, I will visualize World Peace, and hope I’m still around to witness this momentous event that will forever unite the Human Race and give us a new direction. 

In the meantime, I write Sci-fi where Humans have already sprung into space and rub shoulders with alien races and cultures. Don’t miss my AZURA series (a planet inhabited by winged beings with astonishing powers) and my BYZANTIUM series (set on a space station at the fringe of conquered space). Of course, you can expect strong heroines, brave heroes, and a few smart felines.

Happy Reading!


AKIRA'S CHOICE
Sci-fi action romance
Byzantium series

From your favorite retailer HERE

When bounty hunter Akira Karyudo accepted her assignment, something didn't add up. Why would the Galactic Trade Alliance want a young kidnapped orphan dead or alive?

She will get to the truth once she finds the boy, and the no-good SOB who snatched him from a psychiatric hospital. With her cheetah, Freckles, a genetically enhanced feline retriever, Akira sets out to flush them out of the bowels of the Byzantium space station. But when she finds her fugitives, the kidnapper is not what she expects.

Kazmo, a decorated Resistance fighter, stole his nephew from the authorities, who performed painful experiments on the boy. Stuck on Byzantium, he protects the child, but how can he shield him from the horribly dangerous conditions in the lawless sublevels of the space station?

Akira faces the worst moral dilemma of her career. Law or justice, duty or love. She can't have it both ways.



ANGEL FIERCE
Sci-fi action romance
Azura Chronicles series

Get it from your favorite retailer HERE

Something’s rotten on the angel planet. When Avenging Angels turn up dead, Urielle, their Legion Commander, suspects the handsome intruder brought unspeakable evil to Azura.

Maksou never met a woman he couldn’t seduce. He came to the forbidden planet to rescue his friends and get rich in the process, but the jungle crawls with lethal life forms… including a gorgeous warrior angel, who saves his life but keeps him prisoner and challenges his irresistible charm.

Urielle, sworn to protect Azura at all costs, has no use for a maverick who ignores the rules and endangers the planet… no matter how attractive. Especially when the Galactic Trade Alliance (GTA) wages a secret war to get their greedy hands on the priceless crystal at Azura’s core.


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

Monday, February 3, 2020

We are in a space race!

As a sci-fi author, I am fascinated by what’s happening right now concerning space.

On December 20, 2019, the US government announced the creation of a new branch of the military to operate in space, called the US SPACE FORCE. The new logo, however, is eliciting frowns. Star Trek fans say it was ripped from their beloved Starfleet badge. Judge for yourself.



But why to go space? And why now? 

The official answer is to protect our communication satellites and the International Space Station… but could there be other reasons? 



Does the government fear an attack from space? 

Is there an asteroid threatening our planet?


Scientists say it’s not a matter of if but when it will happen… and we are overdue. Remember the end of the dinosaurs?



Or is it a race for dominance in Space? The Chinese declared a space race for the moon and have already landed equipment on the dark side. They also have satellites in moon orbit. It didn’t make the headline news, but it was confirmed by NASA. And India just announced plans for its first human space mission.



This month, SpaceX celebrated the successful test of Crew Dragon Capsule that will carry NASA astronauts. Which means, no more using the Russian rocket.



Or was this decision for a new US SPACE FORCE made in order to protect the private companies who are preparing to harvest a wealth of minerals in space? These private companies are already launching their own rockets. First the moon, then the asteroid belt. Like in the old West, there are fortunes to be made. Space has become the new frontier, the new opportunity for those daring enough. 

Space is also a new place to expand for the ever-growing population of Earth that is quickly destroying our planet. Earth cannot sustain the growth rate of our population. Pollution is a direct byproduct of overpopulation. More people means more exhaust gas, more manufacturing, more garbage, more fishing, more plundering of our natural resources.



Some say the race is for alien first contact, in order to benefit from their technology. Or has it happened already? Former astronauts have been warning us for decades that we are not alone in the universe. Now, the scientific community agrees, and recent government leaks informed the world that contact and exchange of technologies already happened with ET races at the highest levels.

Some even say the US already has a military force in space that needs to be legitimized. Others talk about shadows around the Mars Rover on NASA pictures, suggesting a human presence on Mars. Do we already have people there? Or did some alien humanoid help unstick the Mars rover?



Most of us think we would know if that were the case, but sci-fi authors and fans will tell you we would be the very last to know. Remember Stargate? Military secrets are extremely well guarded. And as for the topic of aliens, governments have become masters at systematic debunking, and misdirection. 

One might wonder if there suddenly is a reason to legitimize what is already going on in space, or maybe to provide more funding for new space projects.

In any case, I will be keeping an eye on what’s developing in space. That’s where we are headed, that’s our future, and I feel lucky to be alive now, at the beginning of what can only be a great adventure.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep writing, and researching. This new phase of our evolution is bound to inspire many stories. Maybe you would like my Byzantium space station series. Here is the latest:

AKIRA'S CHOICE
Byzantium Book 2

by Vijaya Schartz




When bounty hunter Akira Karyudo accepted her assignment, something didn't add up. Why would the Galactic Trade Alliance want a young kidnapped orphan dead or alive?

She will get to the truth once she finds the boy, and the no-good SOB who snatched him from a psychiatric hospital. With her cheetah, Freckles, a genetically enhanced feline retriever, Akira sets out to flush them out of the bowels of the Byzantium space station. But when she finds her fugitives, the kidnapper is not what she expects.

Kazmo, a decorated Resistance fighter, stole his nephew from the authorities, who performed painful experiments on the boy. Stuck on Byzantium, he protects the child, but how can he shield him from the horribly dangerous conditions in the lawless sublevels of the space station?

Akira faces the worst moral dilemma of her career. Law or justice, duty or love. She can't have it both ways.


"Wow! If readers want to see and feel and believe they are in deep space, then ‘Akira's Choice’ is the perfect choice! With a touch of romance, the vivid descriptions and beautifully developed characters masterfully presented by Schartz create a virtual world that invite the reader not merely to observe, but to walk amongst them and participate... This is a delicate art, and Schartz wields her weapons with precision and skill. Banzai!" 5 stars - exceptional - recommended read - Ind'tale Magazine

"A captivating story with interesting, appealing characters. Being a cat lover, I found the relationship, with its psychic element, between Freckles and Shane absolutely captivating. As always, Ms. Schartz’s solid plot and crisply-written prose incorporates a good blend of action and intrigue... This story can easily stand alone... but I believe you’ll enjoy this exciting Sci-Fi series much more if you start reading it from the beginning... a must read for all fans of Sci-Fi romance. Go pick them up and settle into your favorite armchair for some entertaining reading." 4.5 stars - Manic Readers



Keep reading!

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes