Saturday, September 17, 2016

99cts CHECKMATE - gorgeous new covers!

Woohoo! 99cts in #kindle for a few days CHECKMATE (Archangel 2 - standalone) new cover and all.  

"Wickedly insightful. Grab this today along with the prequel,  Crusader." #5stars Curled up With a Good Book  

"Sword-and-shield adventure... aliens and angels and dreams truer than life and depraved shapeshifters and evil sorcerers and parallel universes... Funny and sad and very intelligent." The Book Reader 

Vijaya Schartz
  Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick
  Amazon - Barnes & Noble - All Romance eBooks -

Monday, August 29, 2016

What to write next?

The Curse of the Lost Isle, a romantic medieval fantasy series, was twenty years in the making and is coming to a close. Of course, I wrote many other novels for various publishers in multiple genres during that time, since that series did not find a publisher right away, and required a great amount of historical research. As I am writing the last novel, Book eight, Angel of Lusignan, scheduled for release around the holidays, I realize with nostalgia that it has been a long labor of love. I’m going to miss living in that world.

As to what comes next, I’m still debating. I like writing in different genres and I have a habit of mixing them, which creates marketing nightmares for my publishers. But I like my stories to be original, different and unique. I write what I would want to read. In the Curse of the Lost Isle (from BWL), featuring a family of immortal ladies with Fae gifts, I mixed authentic legends with known history and romance. In the Chronicles of Kassouk and in the Borealis series (from Desert Breeze Publishing), I mixed science fiction with romance, and several of my characters have paranormal abilities… sometimes created through technology. 

I also wrote a few contemporary romances, but always with a twist, like reincarnation, a shape shifter, or a thriller element. Whether writing about the past, the present, or the future, my main constants are action, adventure, and romance. I also have a predilection for cats, as they pop up as secondary characters almost everywhere (except in medieval times, but I do have a major dog character in Damsel of the Hawk).

I would also like my next project to be a series. Like a reader, after I fall in love with a created world, I enjoy spending time in it. But I may choose to make these series shorter. Maybe three or four books, not six or eight like in my two latest series. It’s difficult to promote Book seven or eight to new readers who haven’t read any of the other books… even if it’s a standalone. 
Standalone is another requisite of mine. I like my series to be readable out of order, so each book should be a complete story as much as possible. As a reader, I hate cliffhanger endings and would never do that to my readers. I had to cut longer books into two parts before, not by choice, and although I still gave the first book a satisfying ending, I couldn’t tie up all the loose ends or resolve all the conflicts at the end, since that happened in the second book. It deeply bothered me. From the reviews, I know it bothered a few of my readers as well. 

Now, for the time and place: Medieval? Futuristic? Contemporary? Post apocalyptic? On a space station? On an alien planet? In an alternate universe? I have used all of these in the past. Is there any other option?

As for the characters, I have a predilection for strong, kick-butt heroines. I also really enjoyed writing immortals. I once flirted with the idea of writing a series featuring angels, and I am still considering it. They could be fallen angels seeking redemption, or guardians of the human kind. Or, they could be aliens, alien/human hybrids, or AI (artificial intelligence), but I already featured a synthetic being in Black Dragon (Borealis series).

So, my new writing project should definitely be a series with strong heroines, romance, action, adventure, and cats (you can never have too many of those). Each novel should be a complete story, and the series should lend itself to a different hero and heroine for each story. So, the constant would be the world in which the characters evolve.
In other words, writing a series revolves around creating a world in which strong, captivating characters can fight for what is just and good, and in the process, find their happily ever after. Writing this post helped me order my thoughts. Starting next year, look for the start of a new sci-fi romance series involving strong kick-butt heroines and gorgeous aliens with angel power. Now, back to finishing the Curse of the Lost Isle medieval series. 
Vijaya Schartz
  Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick
  Amazon - Barnes & Noble

Monday, August 22, 2016

PAGAN QUEEN is 99cts in kindle for a few days!

Yay! PAGAN QUEEN is 99cts in kindle for a few days only, hurry.
Curse of the Lost Isle Book 2
5-star medieval fantasy romance series

"the author makes that long ago era of history feel alive and vibrant. She's able to weave in the mystical in a manner that appears natural, without overwhelming what else is going on... character flaws are eye-opening... watch for interesting twists and turns... unexpected happenings totally caught me off guard." Romance Junkies

Vijaya Schartz
  Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick
  Amazon - Barnes & Noble - All Romance eBooks -

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Building Medieval castles for the Curse of the Lost Isle Series

Click here to get it in kindle
As I am writing the last book ind the Curse of the Lost Isle medieval series, ANGEL OF LUSIGNAN (Book 8) set in Aquitaine, I am thoroughly enjoying the research, as much as the story and the characters.

Start reading the series with the boxed set of the first four novels. Seven are already published, and the last one will be out for the holidays.

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, build mighty castles, 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. 5 stars on Amazon "Edgy Medieval. Yay!"

* * * * * 
In the Twelfth Century, castles sprouted all over Europe. In England the first castles were mainly built in a hurry, out of wood, by the Norman invader to secure conquered territory. They were motte and bailey castles, with a keep, earth works, wooden fences and sharp stakes. Later, the keep and walls were rebuilt in stone.

Meanwhile, on the continent, like in Aquitaine, castles were already made of stone. The Romans had built stone roads and forts centuries earlier, leaving solid foundations in prime locations. Just out of the dark ages after the barbarian invasions, the central power fractured into smaller estates, the local lords rebuilt and expanded these stone forts for protection. Not only they fortified their castles, but also their entire cities.

Medieval building technique. Notice the crane.

The new cities and castles were generally built on a promontory, a plateau or a hill, surrounded by water, at an estuary, a confluent, or on a cliff overlooking a river. A body of water protected the castle from attacks by land, but rivers could also be highways for enemies invading by boats. Occasional Viking and Norman raids were still common.

Fortified city and castle of Carcassonne - Southern Aquitaine

The lack of a strong central power also encouraged greedy land owners and bands of rogue knights to appropriate territory by force. Stone walls offered the best protection.

Building a castle was expensive and required a great amount of gold to pay the many skilled workers needed for the monumental task. A lord would hire a taskmaster, overseers, a master mason, architects, an army of masons and stone cutters, carpenters, blacksmiths, lead beaters, barrel makers, potters, candle makers, and other craftsmen. He also needed diggers and general workmen, as well as water carriers.

Castle of Lusignan - Aquitaine - Original design

First, the trees around the site would be felled and peeled, then sliced lengthwise to provide lumber for the scaffolding, and the giant beams to support the wooden ceiling of the upper floors. Meanwhile, the stone had to be extracted from the surrounding rock, then cut and chiseled to size. Often the stone was extracted from the excavation for the moat. Secret passages and underground storage rooms and cellars would often be dug from the rock before erecting the walls, with arched ceilings and thick columns to support the edifice above.

Arrow slit in a castle wall

And do not think castles were uncomfortable. Although the external defense walls only had arrow slits, the buildings inside the enclosure had windows to bring in the light. They also had amenities, like giant fireplaces to provide heat during the winter, large kitchens with bread ovens, to cook for hundreds of soldiers, and skilled chefs to prepare meals and special feasts for the nobles. There was wine and cheese aplenty in the cellars.

medieval toilet - or garderobe

The castle even had toilets called garderobe, simple sitting holes at the outer side of the wall, allowing automatic disposal of human waste straight down into the moat or the river below, which conveniently eliminated odors.

Castle of Tiffauge - Aquitaine - France

Also important to the castle was a permanent source of fresh water, so if there was no natural spring on the premises, digging a well would constitute a first priority. In case of a siege, the castle must be self-sufficient.

Mock up - castle of Lusignan - Aquitaine - France

A great castle would include several courtyards, including one for weapon practice. Also inside the walls would be stables for the horses, a barn for the hay, barracks for the guards and soldiers, sheds and work places for the artisans, blacksmiths, etc. The kitchens would have their own buildings and storage rooms.

Castle of Lusignan - Aquitaine - France

Very few of these early stone castles have survived a thousand years of warfare, and those that did survive were updated and modified over the centuries, but we have lithographs and drawings, as well as mock ups to show us what the original construction looked like.

Vijaya Schartz
Swords, blasters, romance with a kick
Amazon - Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

STAR TREK BEYOND movie review by Vijaya Schartz

Three years into the five year voyage of exploration, the Enterprise docks onto one of the federation's space stations and we get a taste of what this space station looks like. These scenes were filmed in Dubai, which lends its architecture to futuristic movies. What I found fascinating was the way the tall buildings all pointed to the center of the artificial open sphere, and how at the top the unreliable gravity played tricks on the unwary. Logical, but fascinating nevertheless.

The inciting incident is weak. The damsel in distress begging the federation to rescue her crew was obviously setting a trap. No responsible captain would have rushed without at least investigating. When Kirk said he guessed it was a trap early on, but not early enough, that was a gross understatement.

I liked that new female characters were given an important role. Love this new ally, who kicks butts and takes names, and I like the fact that at the end she plans to join Star Fleet. I hope we see her again.

The male villain had an interesting history, but not clearly explained. I won't spoil the story for you, but I don't understand what prompted his physical transformation. It lacked clarity and didn't seem to make much sense. Was he an alien from the start posing as a human? Or did something happen to him while he was on the alien planet?

Costumes, makeup and special effects were impeccable and breathtaking, as usual... even though I didn't see the movie in 3D.

I enjoyed the fact that the characters were made more human. Bones had a better presence than in the previous movie, and his character in opposition to Spok was funny and interesting, like in the original series, which is what I liked about him.

I enjoyed the motorcycle scene. Quite a stunt, and so fitting for Kirk. Only he would come up with such a dare-devil idea for a distraction.

I enjoyed seeing all the regular characters.

We also revisited an old federation ship

It was somewhat sad to see Chekov again played by Anton Yelchin, who was killed by his own car in his driveway when the parking brake failed. it happened shortly before the movie release. Rumor has it that his role will not be recast in future movies.

R.I.P. Anton Yelchin - here in the role of Chekov

As for Uhura, her love affair with Spok is still going strong. And on a different note, we learn in this movie that Mr. Sulu is gay. Possibly a wink to the original Mr. Sulu, George Takei.

How many times and in how many ways can we destroy the Enterprise? This seems to be the recurring theme on all Star Trek movies. This time in particular, I can't see how they could have possibly salvaged anything after the destruction, or retrieved any of the pieces. Yet, curiously enough, at the end of the movie, somewhat by magic, the ship is restored to its pristine state... ready for the next adventure.

I enjoyed the movie. Hope you do, too.

Vijaya Schartz
Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick

Monday, July 25, 2016

DAMSEL OF THE HAWK 99cts in kindle!

For the first time and only for a few days, hurry. 
99cts in kindle
5-star Curse of the Lost Isle series, standalone, medieval fantasy romance. Only for a few days... 

" vivid I could picture myself right there... tough, honorable alpha hero... fiercely protective and loyal mountain dog, Kopec... Meliora... hints of the strong, rebellious woman she actually is... not a simple HEA for them... but once they finally get it, it's wonderful!" Amazon  also in paperback


Vijaya Schartz
  Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick
  Amazon - Barnes & Noble - All Romance eBooks -