Monday, February 6, 2023

Celebrating the life of Princess Jasmine, cat extraordinaire


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I’ve always been in love with cats, and I can’t pass an adoption drive without looking at the cats.

I had lost a little part-Siamese I had for seventeen years, a few months before I saw Princess Jasmine for the first time. She was in a cage at Petsmart, and I noticed her right away. As I petted her and talked to her, I felt a connection with her… but the timing was wrong. So, I had to walk away… with regrets.

She was a young cat but no longer a kitten, and she had been through several surgeries after being mauled by her previous family dog while pregnant. After all her trials, her family chose the dog and abandoned her at the vet, who took her to a HALO no-kill shelter.

Two months later, I spotted Jasmine again during a special adoption drive at Petsmart. She still hadn’t been adopted despite her sunny personality. Her adoption fee had gone down, and this time I was in a position to adopt her. I took it as a sign that we must be destined for each other.

I took her to the house I shared with my now ex-husband. She enjoyed running in the backyard, chasing lizards, hunting bugs, and playing chicken with the chickens.

A few months later, afraid she might feel lonely, I adopted a kitten from a friend’s backyard litter, an adorable tuxedo we named Spunky for his fearless exploits.

Jasmine didn’t like him at all. She wanted the house to herself. But mainly Spunky liked my lap, her favorite place, and Jasmine didn’t like to share. So, she gave him the stink eye and kept her distance when he was near me.


One morning, as I was making the bed upstairs, Jasmine came up to me mewing and mewing. I could tell something was very wrong. She seemed to want me to follow her down the stairs, so I did. It was a beautiful day and the doors and windows were wide open. Jasmine took me to the front yard to the corner of the house, where a thick vine grew all the way to the top of the chimney.

And there, the reckless little kitten who had tried to climb the vine, was crying pitifully, out of strength, barely able to move, entangled so tightly in the vine, that I couldn’t free him with my bare hands. I had to get some cutters to cut the strands constricting his little belly.

Although Jasmine resented the kitten, she had come to get me when he was in trouble. Don’t tell me animals don’t have a soul. And there are angels among them. Jasmine was definitely an angel and saved this kitten’s life that day.

From then on, Spunky lost his spunk, and Jasmine became the alpha mama cat. Later on, we brought in a few occasional strays and abandoned kittens who needed a home. Jasmine never played with them but watched them play from the top of the stairs.

Spunky grew into a beautiful cat but didn’t stay with us very long. He had faulty genes and a neurologic condition (like his brother who remained with my friend and also died early). It’s sometimes the case with feral kittens. Bless his little soul.

Shortly after Spunky’s passing, my husband and I separated. Of course, I took my little princess Jasmine with me. She was happy from then on to be the only cat in the home, even if it was a small apartment without a yard. She could lie in my lap every night, and sleep on my bed, and demand tuna and get it from me every time. And she never had to share anything again, not her toys, not my lap, not my bed, not the food, not my affection.

She became a lazy fat cat that my friends called “well fed” so as to spare her feelings. But for the past year or so, Jasmine had been losing weight. At first, it seemed like a good thing, and she could move better, and jump on the bed again, to wake me up every morning before sunrise.

Her passing didn’t really come as a surprise, since she was sixteen and had a hard beginning, but I cry every time I see her in my mind, that cute little angel, sleeping with eyes open, unseeing, her soul already in a better place. My apartment feels empty without her. I miss her sorely. R.I.P. little angel.

When I’m ready to love again, I will adopt another cat, but first this pain has to heal.

In the meantime, Jasmine still lives in my books, as she was the inspiration for many of my cat characters, who, like her, are telepathic, and angelic in nature.

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Vijaya Schartz, award-winning author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Best-selling author badge for 2022 from my publisher, BWL Publishing. Feels pretty good. Thank you, readers! 

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Happy New Year traditions from all over the world


At the very end of December, after all the holiday parties, the family gatherings, the excessive eating, the drinking, and the sugar comas, we tend to reflect on why we gained five pounds… And new-year’s-eve is still ahead. But with the New Year comes new hope.

Also called St Sylvester’s night in Europe, New Year’s Eve, and New Year's day, include many traditions to ease the transition and generate good luck and prosperity.

In the US, whether you are, from the East to the West coast, you will probably have or attend a party, count the seconds to midnight, and watch the ball drop in Time Square. You will have a drink and sing Auld Lang Syne, and some will stand under the mistletoe, for a chance of a kiss at midnight.

In Canada the fireworks are magnificent. And some of the most popular New Year’s Day traditions are the Polar Bear Swim in Vancouver, and to go ice-fishing. Brrrr!

In Japan, December 31st is a national cleaning day. The houses are scrubbed from floor to ceiling and decluttered, to start the new year in a favorable setting. On New Year’s Eve, it is also the tradition to eat buckwheat noodles called Toshikoshi soba. Just before midnight, Buddhist temple bells ring out 108 times, representing the 108 earthly temptations a person must overcome to achieve nirvana and get rid of last year’s bad luck.

The enormous bell is rung with a strong pole, pulled by several people with ropes.

In Brazil, everyone wears white on New Year’s eve for good luck and peace. They also run to the beach and throw white flowers into the ocean. Of course, it’s summer and beach weather in Brazil that time of year.

In Mexico, at midnight, people drop a gold ring into their glass to bring good fortune in love and money. Then on January 1st, they go door to door, offering home-made tamales to friends and neighbors. I’ve also seen it done in Arizona as traditions migrate.

In Greece, onions are a symbol of good luck and fertility, so, on New Year's Eve, they hang bundles of onions above their doors to invite prosperity into the home. Then, on New Year's Day, parents wake up their children by gently knocking them on the head with the onions that were outside.

In Singapore, revelers let wishing spheres containing their hopes and dreams float down the river. Thousands of them on the Singapore River make for a magical sight.

In Puerto Rico, they dump a bucket of water from a window to ward off evil spirits. I hope it’s not on the pedestrians below. They also sprinkle sugar outside their houses for good luck.

In Russia, New Year's Eve revelers write a wish down on a piece of paper, burn it and add the ashes to their champagne or vodka glass. Then they drink the entire glass quickly at midnight, in less than a minute, to make their wish realize.

In France, Champagne is the drink de rigueur to ring the New Year, along with raw oysters on the shell, turkey, goose, and seafood, in an elaborate and abundant meal they call a reveillon. And in Paris, the Eiffel Tower lights up in a splendid show of lights for the occasion.

In Spain, to get good luck in the New Year, you must eat 12 grapes on the 12 rings of midnight, and keep the pace… no sweat, just don’t choke!

In Switzerland, they summon wealth, and abundance by dropping ice cream on the floor at midnight. Personally, I think it’s a waste of delicious ice-cream.

In Denmark, to celebrate the New Year, they smash old plates on the doors of family, friends, and neighbors, to ward off evil spirits. The more broken plates at your door in the morning, the more good luck in the New Year.

In India, they build an effigy of an old man and burn it at midnight, to symbolize the death of the old year with its struggles, to make room for the new and hopefully better year.

In China, they celebrate the New Year on a lunar cycle, in January or February, and the festivities last two weeks. Lots of dragons parading on the streets, food, fireworks, and the color red, for good luck.

I wish you all a fantastic New Year, with success and happiness all year long.

Vijaya Schartz, award-winning author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats

Friday, December 23, 2022

Wishing everyone a warm and wonderful holiday season

 Whatever you are celebrating this holiday season, I wish you the most wonderful experiences, with lots of joy, love, good food, and happiness.

Monday, December 5, 2022

Books as holiday gifts


Vijaya's latest release.
 Find it HERE

Whether it’s a stocking stuffer novel, a kindle gift sent to a friend faraway, or the wrapped gift of a complete paperback series, if you know the favorite genre of the avid readers among your family and friends, books make wonderful gifts.

Maybe it’s the story they talked about but never got to buy for themselves. Maybe it’s the new release in a series they started and loved. Or you can surprise them with a book you enjoyed and want to share with them. In any case, it’s becoming simpler and easier than ever to gift books.

You can do it from your laptop or phone, order online from your favorite retailer, and have it shipped or emailed. It takes little time and effort. It will be appreciated on cold, snowy, or rainy days.

Going with a reliable publisher, like BWL Publishing, will ensure it’s a quality book. Other ways to select a good book is considering the author’s track record. Award-winning authors usually deliver consistent quality reads. You can also read the ratings and reviews shared by other readers on the retail sites.

The most difficult part of this process is selecting the right genre and the right titles. Find out if you friend likes cozy mysteries, romance, action/adventure, Historical novels, fantasy, science fiction, or a mix of genres.

I write in many genres and also like to mix them. From contemporary romance to realistic Celtic legends, to space opera and science fiction, including even felines in some of my stories. But each author brings his or her personal touch to the writing, and if you like an author in one genre, chances are you will like that author’s other writings as well.

Here are some suggestions from my popular writings:

Curse of the Lost Isle series (Celtic legends – Edgy medieval)
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Chronicles of Kassouk series (Sci-fi romance)
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Azura Chronicles series (Set on another planet – includes cats - androids - romantic elements)
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Byzantium series (Set on a space station - cats – action - sweet romance for all ages)
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Archangel twin books (Aliens and angels in a contemporary setting)
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Romance (rated R)
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Happy Holidays with books!

Vijaya Schartz, award-winning author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats
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Thursday, November 24, 2022