Monday, January 14, 2019

Yay! ANGEL FIERCE has a gorgeous cover - by Vijaya Schartz


This is my new cover, ANGEL FIERCE, Book 2 of the Azura Chronicles series, is coming out next month. I am thrilled by the great work Michelle Lee, the artist who designs covers for my publisher did on this. She used the images I suggested and it always amazes me how she can put them together to make a book cover. Great job, Michelle.

In the meantime, here is what the story is about:

All Maksou wanted was to rescue his trapped friends and get rich in the process. But this forbidden blue planet crawls with lethal life forms… including Urielle, a gorgeous angel of frightening power, who saves his life but shuns his irresistible charm.

Urielle, Legion Commander of the Avenging Angels, is sworn to protect Azura at all costs. She has no use for a maverick intruder who ignores the rules and endangers the planet by his very presence… no matter how handsome and charming. Especially when the Galactic Trade Alliance (GTA) wages a secret war to get their greedy hands on the priceless crystal at Azura’s core.

When immortal angels turn up dead, Urielle springs into action… and Maksou is in her line of sight.

If you missed Book 1, here it is:
ANGEL MINE
Azura Chronicles, Book 1
Click HERE to find it everywhere

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

"... fast-paced space adventure/romance with lots of twists, turns, and enough action to satisfy sci-fi enthusiasts... story telling is imaginative and action scenes vivid... pleasing happily ever after that sets up a sequel." Ind'Tale Magazine.

HAPPY READING!

Vijaya Schartz, author
 Romance with a Kick
 http://www.vijayaschartz.com
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Monday, January 7, 2019

Deadlines, deadlines, and a new novel coming soon.

Deadlines can make you do what you thought was impossible. The first time I was given a deadline by a publisher, I panicked. It had taken me eighteen months to write my last book, and I only had six months for this one.  But I didn't want to miss this publishing opportunity, so I signed the contract. Then I realized what a great motivator that deadline provided.

Whether it’s a high stakes countdown in an action novel, or a self-imposed goal, or an imperative work time limit, for some reason, our subconscious treats deadlines like a do or die situation. Unlike new year resolutions, which tend to fade by February, deadlines can motivate us all year long.

If my critique partner didn’t come to my living room every week, I might not have my chapter ready, or the floor might not get cleaned as often. The prospect of taking pictures at holiday parties certainly motivated me to lose the three extra pounds I gained in early fall.



This month, I wrote “the end” on the second book in the Azura Chronicles series, making my January 1st deadline, and it’s a good feeling. Last year, without a specific deadline, it took me much longer to write the first book. I discovered that deadlines not only keep me on schedule, but they sharpen my focus on my story and characters. They force me to stay the course. Next to my wall calendar are reminders of my deadlines for next year. Three book releases. And because I have strict publisher deadlines, these books will be released on schedule.

So, instead of New Year resolutions, I suggest you give yourself deadlines. Keep the goals realistic and take control of your life. Using deadlines as a motivator, you will reach your goals, and get a great sense of accomplishment.

As for me, back to my newly finished novel. It’s polishing time, and this is my favorite part of the work. I wish you all a wonderful year in 2019.

ANGEL FIERCE, Book 2 of the Azura Chronicles is coming out in February. In the meantime, you can read ANGEL MINE, Book 1 in the Azura Chronicles series.

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

"... fast-paced space adventure/romance with lots of twists, turns, and enough action to satisfy sci-fi enthusiasts... storytelling is imaginative and action scenes vivid... pleasing happily ever after that sets up a sequel." Ind'Tale Magazine.

Vijaya Schartz, author
Romance with a Kick
http://www.vijayaschartz.com
amazon  -  B&N  -  Smashwords  -  Kobo  -  FB


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

My two favorite holiday movies of this century

I love this time of year, especially because I can binge-watch Christmas movies on cable. I’m not talking about the black and white classics, like It’s a Wonderful Life, or Miracle on 34th Street, but about the movies of this century that are becoming the new classics. Not all are noteworthy, but here are two of my favorites. Of course, the stellar cast helps, as these feature some of my favorite actors. You may also notice that they are not movies for children, nor are they tear-jerkers, but drama-comedies for grownups to thoroughly enjoy.


LOVE, ACTUALLY (2003 Romantic Comedy) – Now, my favorite holiday movie of all times. You can’t go wrong with Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Laura Linney, Billy Bob Thornton, to name only a few. The story follows eight different couples embroiled in their own problems during the holidays. From the playboy prime minister (Hugh Grant) to the pathetic lowly employee with a disabled brother, and the blocked writer (Colin Firth) who leaves the country to write and falls in love with a Portuguese immigrant. This holiday tapestry puzzle comes together as we gradually discover what links these characters. At the end, as they are all gathered in the same room, we are overjoyed, and our faith in the holiday spirit is renewed.

THE HOLIDAY (2006 Romantic Comedy) – This movie is rapidly climbing to the top of favorite holiday movies lists. Again, great actors, like Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, Jack Black (who shines in a serious and touching kind of role). On impulse, two recently single women of vastly different backgrounds swap houses across the pond for the holidays. The movie trailer genius from L.A. ends up in a snowy English countryside cottage, and the British columnist with a heart of gold experiences a Hollywood mansion for the first time. As a result, both their lives are changed forever. A feel good movie with lots of holiday cheer.

Here you have them, my favorite holiday movies. What are yours?

In the meantime, you can read my books. Which are not holiday related, but full of action, love, good and evil, angels and villains, and other historical or futuristic characters. Happy Reading!


Vijaya Schartz

Romance with a Kick


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Monday, November 5, 2018

How writing can become an art

You take a picture of a building, and it’s just a building. Then you see a photograph of that same building in an art gallery, and it’s art. What makes it art? It’s the same building. But the artist waited for the perfect time at sunset, when the light hit the pillars just so, and the sun glanced off the metal roof, and the color of the sky echoed that of the turning leaves on the surrounding trees. Then the artist chooses a different angle, and the entire tableau takes another dimension. When you look at art, you are moved. You feel something.

 



You take a selfie, and it’s a portrait. But someone talented will play with light and shadow, maybe choose a black and white medium. And will speak to you and make you feel something, so that the portrait will look happy, or haunted, or sad, or intriguing. It’s still your face, but in the hands of an artist, it became art.

  



Similarly, a painting can be flat and inexpressive, while another painting of the same subject will make you feel something. People loved or hated the great painters of their times because they made them feel. And sometimes these feelings were uncomfortable. Hatred and guilt are strong feelings. Picasso had many enemies before being recognized as a genius. True art brings emotion to the person experiencing it.
Degas

Picasso

Gauguin

A movie documentary can be informative without emotion. But an artist will make that documentary poignant and get the audience to stand up and cheer and clap at the end. A fictional movie will use music to set the mood, and sounds and special effects to make the audience feel anticipation, fear, love, victory, etc.

And so it is with a novel. It can be a series of actions from characters in a setting, or it can be a true experience for the reader. We are painting with words, expressing emotions to make the reader feel, and our novels become a work of art.

So the secret for a writer is to feel deeply. Only then can we use words to make the reader feel and care about our characters and our stories. But like with any art, there is also a technique, like there is for painters, photographers and film makers. And it takes practice to master the technique. The secret to get the feelings on the page is in the details. A description will fall flat if it doesn’t include visual as well as other important sensory details. Smells, sounds, touch, taste, and visual effects, as well as the physical sensations experienced by the character in the story will evoke the same reactions and awaken the same feelings in the reader.

After reading ASHES FOR THE ELEPHANT GOD, readers told me they could feel the heat, smell the flowers and the spices, and hear the music, and taste the foods of India. They felt transported to another place, another time, another culture. It’s because I brought my own love of India to the pages of the book, and because I felt it, I was able to bring it to life in the writing and make the reader feel it as well.

Vijaya Schartz, author
Romance with a Kick
http://www.vijayaschartz.com
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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Writers and their cats

As far as I can remember, I loved cats… and writing. I wrote poetry in first grade, around the same time I brought my first stray home. At the time my father didn’t allow us to have pets, but since then I adopted many cats… and I kept writing. I still write, and I still have a cat. 

Some say writers like cats because they are non-intrusive. I beg to differ. Even right now, my cat is begging for me to stop this computer nonsense and pay attention to her. 


Others say cats are the perfect writer’s pet because they sleep a lot and they like daily routines. That part is true. There is a time for me to write. That’s when my cat sleeps. Right now, it’s TV time and I’m still writing, that’s why my cat is so upset. 

Cats are independent, and the epitome of indifference. That part is usually true, unless it’s tuna time, or close to tuna time, or two hours before tuna time, or three in the morning and she decides it’s tuna time. 


My cat's favorite camouflage blanket

So, if cats are just as demanding as other pets, why is it so many famous writers had cats and adored them? My rational opinion could be that cats are quieter than dogs and don’t need to be walked, but I believe it goes much deeper than that. Cats are intriguing, challenging, smart, and obstinate. They tickle our muse. And if I have a question, I can always ask my cat. She will give me the right answer. 

Here are some other reasons why great writers loved their cats: 

"A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not." Ernest Hemmingway 

"I write so much because my cat sits on my lap. She purrs so I don't want to get up. She's so much more calming than my husband." Joyce Carol Oates 

"That's the great secret of creativity. You treat ideas like cats: you make them follow you." Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing 

"I simply can't resist a cat, particularly a purring one. They are the cleanest, cunningest, and most intelligent things I know, outside of the girl you love, of course." Mark Twain 

"I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat." Edgar Alan Poe 

"When a Cat adopts you there is nothing to be done about it except to put up with it and wait until the wind changes." T.S. Elliot 

There is a cat in my latest novel, a telepathic cougar, the companion of my kick-butt bounty hunter heroine. If you haven’t read it yet, pick it up and enjoy.

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

"I don’t know how Vijaya continues to write books that both aggravate you to no end and keep you on the edge of your seat. You can’t put it down until you know what happens next. Before you know what happened, you are at the end of the book and wondering how you got there so fast. It is hard not to get caught up in and lost in the imagery created on the pages of the locations. You can even smell what is in the air. Yet another page turner I couldn’t put down! Thank you Vijaya for keeping me entertained." 5-stars - Beverley J. Malloy on amazon

HAPPY READING!

Vijaya Schartz, author
Romance with a Kick

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Another publisher of mine bites the dust

Yes, publishing companies do close their door, and more often than you think. Here are some of my sci-fi romance titles recently republished with new covers, after their previous publishers closed their doors.



You have slaved for months if not years writing the perfect book. After pitching it at conferences and being rejected by many agents and publishers, you are finally accepted by a small publisher. They love your book. They want to publish it. After doing your happy dance, you sign on the dotted line, and soon you will be a legitimate published author. Congratulations. Now, you are a professional author, with deadlines, edits, and promotion strategies. Finally, friends and family will take you seriously as an author. You are on your way.



Small publishers are wonderful, and I love them. They take chances with mixed genres, like sci-fi romance and medieval fantasy romance. They provide the same services as a large publisher with editors, cover designers, some marketing… and they get your books out in the world, in all formats, on all retail sites, and in print… although the print is sometime on demand.

It means that they are ecologically responsible, but most likely, your local bookstore will refuse to order that book for its shelves… because most print on demand books are non-returnable, and chain bookstores refuse to stock them. They still operate on the newsstand magazine model, where what didn’t sell that week or that month goes straight back to the publisher.

Never mind the naysayers. You are happily published. You love your cover, the book does sell copies in the first month. Your social media friends are buying it. You had a successful book signing in an independent (or second hand) bookstore, and you are writing the sequel. You are living the dream.

I forgot to tell you, the weakness of small publishers is that they are small, usually operated by a handful of people, but owned only by one or two of them, who are in charge and oversee the entire operation. Without them, the company cannot survive.



As you all know, life has a way of throwing off the best laid plans. Even in a large publishing company, if your editor goes on maternity leave and decides to stay home and raise her child, you may not get along with your new editor. He/she may not like your book as much or have a different idea of what your characters should be. He/she might request changes that will make you cringe. Unfortunately, you are locked into a contract, and your only option is to grin and bear it.

But when the main operator of a small publishing company has a life-altering accident (like it happened for Sapphire Blue Publishing after a few years) or is diagnosed with a serious health problem and can no longer handle the stress of running the company, (like it happened last month with Desert Breeze Publishing after a decade of success) the small publisher will have to close their doors.

That will make you an orphaned author, with orphaned books most established publisher will shun, because they are last year’s chutney… Of course, you get your rights back. Which means you could self-publish your orphans, or, if you are lucky, find another small publisher who will love them, like it happened for me with BWL Publishing. It’s all part of an author’s life.

If you lose your publisher, don’t despair. Keep writing. Nothing like a new release to lift your spirits. And this new publisher of yours might like your new book so much, they’ll ask you if you have anything else ready to go. Then you can pitch them your little orphans.

I was lucky that way. White Tiger was published several times by different publishers. The last one was Desert Breeze, where it became a series. But this book is in its twilight, and next time, I’ll republish that series myself, as I did buy the rights to the covers, just to keep it available. Aren't the covers stunning?



Two of my Desert Breeze sci-fi orphans, however, will be republished next year by BWL Publishing, for whom I’m currently writing the new Azura Chronicles sci-fi series. These two, set on a space station, will be a spin off from the Azura Chronicles. Of course, I’ll be rewriting these orphans to fit in the new universe I created for BWL Publishing, then add new titles to both series.

It sounds like a lot of work, but I think authors like challenges. I’m excited about re-writing these. Sci-fi was my first love and creating new universes is my thing. I also like kick-butt heroines, brave heroes, and cats. So, get ready for more sci-fi romance coming from Vijaya Schartz in 2019 and 2020.

In the meantime, you can read ANGEL MINE, Book 1 of the Azura Chronicles.

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

"I don’t know how Vijaya continues to write books that both aggravate you to no end and keep you on the edge of your seat. You can’t put it down until you know what happens next. Before you know what happened, you are at the end of the book and wondering how you got there so fast. It is hard not to get caught up in and lost in the imagery created on the pages of the locations. You can even smell what is in the air. Yet another page turner I couldn’t put down! Thank you Vijaya for keeping me entertained." 5-stars - Beverley J. Malloy on amazon

Happy Reading!

Vijaya Schartz, author
http://www.vijayaschartz.com

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