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Monday, July 30, 2012

The Importance of Secondary Characters

While writing the first book in my Legends and Lovers series, one of the opening scenes for The Treasure Hunter's Lady was the hero, Abel, being confronted by a fortuneteller. She correctly predicts that his life is in danger and that a beautiful woman will change his life. This particular fortuneteller is spot on with her predictions. I didn't know it at the time, but she'd have an even bigger roll to play when I did a second draft of the manuscript. She revealed herself to be a Native American woman named Hummingbird.

Being a pantser, I didn't expect Hummingbird to show up again at one of the black moments or reveal herself to be more than a simple woman. Legends and Lovers is steeped in mystical creatures. In The Treasure Hunter's Lady there's a giant serpent, in The Sky Pirate's Wife our hero and heroine are under attack from shape-shifting eagles. Guess who shows up again in The Sky Pirate's Wife? I wanted to tie The Treasure Hunter's Lady and The Sky Pirate's Wife together in another way besides both plots being based on legend. So I thought introducing Hummingbird and her quiet, peace promoting ways would do the trick.

In the first book, Hummingbird appears in the guise as an ancient fortuneteller, other times as an old native woman. In the second book, she shows up as a young woman not much older than Sophie. When Sophie does a favor for Hummingbird, she bestows a blessing on Van Buren.
In Roman mythology, there's a story about a goddess with three faces (Hecate) who ruled over the earth, sea, and sky. I've modified Hecate a little for my own purposes. She's Mother Sun and watches over the warriors destined to help defeat evil in my books. In the morning she's young, in the afternoon she's middle-aged and at night she's old before being reborn when the sun rises. I recently finished the first draft of the third book in the series. Yup, Hummingbird shows up again as a middle-aged woman who has the ability to foretell the future. In some way, she's always a comfort to my characters. She's changed her name along with her appearance, but there are very obvious clues about her true identity.

Secondary characters also inspire me because I didn't actually intend to write a series. I finished The Treasure Hunter's Lady as a novella, not really knowing what to do with it. A couple of my critique partners suggested write another steampunk romance novel. Van Buren whispered in my ear that he'd like to star in the next one. From there the series was born. A character from The Sky Pirate's Wife is the hero of the rough draft The Turncoat's Temptress.

And I have every intention of taking one of the female secondary characters from that one and writing another. I just have to work in how Hummingbird takes her place there. Who knows, maybe I'll round it all off with a story all Hummingbird's own.

I love my secondary characters because they're there to help out my main cast. How are yours helping your stories?

When I'm not blogging at Starbound Lovers, you can find me at Have Novel, Will Edit, on Facebook, Twitter, and occasionally on G+.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My Mom - Miss Wisconsin 1944

A few weeks ago I was talking to my 88 year old mother about writing my next blog, trying to come up with a subject. That was an interesting conversation. Though for awhile she did use the computer to do email, these last few years she's lost interest in the virtual world. She'd rather read a book (print, no ebooks for her,) watch a movie or TV, chat on the phone and spend real face-to-face time with friends.

Though I doubt she'll ever read it, in honor of her upcoming birthday I decided to blog about my mom this time. While I didn't get my Swiss mom's beautiful blonde hair and blue eyes, she passed her love of the written word on to me. I look more like my dark haired Italian father (his once black hair is now snow white.) I pretty sure I got my stubbornness and temper from him.

I remember when I was growing up though money was tight Mom would always find just enough extra so I could buy books from the Scholastic Book Sale at school. My favorites were books about horses. She read to me, and once I learned to read on my own only occasionally chided me to stop reading and go outside and play. Then she looked the other way when I took along a book. I credit her for fostering my love of words and allowing me to explore my imagination. I think I also inherited the "writing gene" from her.

For a time she wrote a news column in the local paper. I was too young to care about reading them then and now they're gone, lost in a flood back in 1972. I asked her about them once, but while she's still sharp those memories have faded and she couldn't recall the name of the publication, so I doubt I'll be able to locate them.

Here's a picture of her when she was Miss Milwaukee. Sexy, right. Poor mom, her parents were mortified that their daughter was walking around in a skimpy two-piece bathing suit, something that was considered shocking then. They refused to attend the pageants. It wasn't until years later that they finally acknowledged her accomplishment.

One of the prizes she won for being Miss Milwaukee was an extra part in the Esther Williams, Jimmy Durante movie THIS TIME FOR KEEPS filmed at the Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, Michigan. A few years ago the movie was released on DVD. I purchased a copy to see my mom. She's in two scenes for a total of about ten seconds. If I blinked I missed her, but it was fun looking.

She went on to win the Miss Wisconsin title and competed in the 1944 Miss America pageant. Unfortunately, due to the war and gas rationing she wasn't able to attend the pageant in Atlantic City, NJ. She was barely able to make the Miss Milwaukee and Miss Wisconsin pageants. She recalls taking the  trolley car to compete in the Miss Milwaukee pageant and carpooling with seven people to get up to the Miss Wisconsin pageant. Because she didn't have gas coupons her Miss America entry was submitted and judged by mail. She didn't win. The winner was Venus Ramsey, but I think my mom was a lot prettier.

Unlike her parents my mom is supportive and proud of my writing.

Here she is with my dad, her husband of 60 years.
 She's still beautiful - both on the outside and inside.

Monday, July 23, 2012

How I get Story Ideas

Story ideas…. There are times I wonder if I’m going to run out of them and other times where ideas come flying at me to the point I can’t write them all down. When I start doubting they won’t come, I’ve gotten myself in a panic and into a writer’s block. When I catch myself worrying when that next idea is going to come, I intentionally let go and turn my direction on movies and books that inspire me. From there, I get a jumpstart.

I do have one great secret weapon and that is my little black tape recorder. If I find myself having problems generating ideas. I let my mind wonder right before I fall asleep. If nothing comes that night or the next, I don’t worry about it. They do come eventually just right before I fall asleep. I record them right then and there; otherwise, I know I’ll forget most of everything in the light of day. If I can’t find my tape recorder, I’ll resort to a notepad by my pillow.

A great way I get story ideas is by using the ‘what if’ question. I’ve used it for years and have come up with some great ideas that have ended up on published pages. I’ve always been one who will read a book or watch a movie and then go “Oh, what a great idea, but ‘what if’ the hero did this or that, or ‘what if’ so-and-so shows up on scene or reacted this way. From those ‘what if’ questions or scenarios, I add even more to them until I have a completely different story. I found myself doing that with H. G. Wells and Alexandre Duma and was amazed at what I came up with.

I did many a ‘what if’ with one of my contemporary romances, The Long Road Home, and had such fun doing it. I have the hero and heroine on a road

trip from New York to California and thought of some hilarious scenarios they could be hit with. Some of them didn’t get put into the book because they were just too outlandish BUT I did give them a couple of huge obstacles along the way, including a dress, a dog and a bear.

The Long Road Home: Travel across the country with her old lover, John McDonnell--and his girlfriend? Impossible. But Clarisse Madison is desperate. Terrified of flying and unable to drive long stretches because of a knee surgery, she sees no other way to get from New York to San Diego and her sister’s wedding.

Three years ago, a plane crash disfigured her leg and destroyed her career as a model. Self-esteem crushed and fearful of rejection, Clarisse severed her relationship with John. Now, forced to travel across the country with him and his girlfriend, Vivian, she is determined to hide her disfigurement. Driving through state after state and mile after mile, though, she begins to fall in love all over again.
But can anything come of it? Can she overcome her pride for the sake of love?

Available on Barnes &Noble, Amazon and Kobo

Friday, July 20, 2012

Summertime is Movie Time

It's summertime and  you know what that means: Movies! I love summer simply because of the new releases--big names, big effects, and stories best told when the sound of the movie can blast you from the speakers of the theatre.

But this year has been a little disappointing.

Okay, really disappointing.

I've only seen 3 movies since Memorial Day. 3. That's pathetic. Summer is prime movie time and not just for their air conditioning.

So what have I seen? I started with the Avengers. I'm sorry Spiderman is a wimp and Batman is too into himself for me to like, but the Avengers? Yeah, baby, I'm there. There was lots of eye candy (Hawkeye was my favorite), tons of explosions and a decent story line. Add in Samuel L Jackson with a splash of sarcastic humor and it was darn near perfect.

Movie number 2 was the much anticipated Prometheus. Sadly, this seems to be the only SciFi movie of substance this summer. What's up with that? It was a decent storyline but could have used a bit more explanation. My daughter's boyfriend tried to fill in the gaps, but they came from outside knowledge not the movie itself. That's cheating. Still, it was good.

Movie number 3 was a birthday treat: Brave. I love animated movies (not to be confused with anime). And I pretty much have to see them all. My kids find it embarrassing. I find I don't have to share the popcorn. Hubby and I went together. The movie was lots of fun and I'm glad my children don't know any witches as I think I'd be turned into something a lot worse than a bear. And if that happened, I might eat my kids for being so rotten and changing me.

Now, I'm waiting for the new Resident Evil movie to come out. I love, love the series.

So what movie did you see this summer?
Wednesday, July 18, 2012

 How did you get started writing?  I wrote my first story when I was about ten.  It was a romance about me and a little boy I liked.  I don’t remember the story, but I remember his name, David Williams.  I also wrote some very depressing poetry.  I decided that poetry was not for me and stuck to romance.

What genre(s) do you write in and why?  I have a historical western romance and a sci-fi romance out now.  The sci-fi is the first in a series.  I write in these genre’s because they are the ones whose stories reached out to me.  The western was the first book I wrote and was inspired by my parents love story.  It’s set on the same ranch that they met on in 1941.  My book is set in 1885, so it’s not their love story.  My dad was a cowboy and trapper but to the best of my knowledge was never a bounty hunter. 

The sci-fi series was done because of dreams I had when I was a teenager.  I knew I was a princess from Alpha Centauri.  There was no way I could belong to the crazy family I had.  Of course, I adore that crazy family now.

What is your favorite part of writing?  My favorite part is what I call the ‘puking’ phase.  Just getting it all down on paper for the first time.  You just let if flow out of you, not caring, for the moment, if it is good or bad.

What is your least favorite part of writing?  Editing is my least favorite.  I’m constantly questioning myself and my work.  Changing it, correcting it, putting it back to what it was and starting it all again.  It’s never good enough for me.

What is your next project and when will it be released?  My current is called THE SWORDS OF GREGARA - RIZA and is the second book in the Gregara Series.  It is available now.

What is your typical day like?  I don’t know that I have a typical day.  I’m lucky enough to be able to write full time.  I was laid off in June and am taking advantage of it to write while I look for another job. 

How has your experience with self-publishing been?  My experience has been wonderful.  I highly recommend it for everyone out there who doesn’t want to be constrained by the “big” traditional publisher.  For everyone who wants to write from their heart and not according to the industry rules and constraints, self publishing is the only way to go.

What advice do you have for other authors wanting to self-publish?  Go for it.  It’s a wild ride but totally worth it.

Cynthia Woolf was born in Denver, Colorado and raised in the mountains west of Golden.  She spent her early years running wild around the mountain side with her friends.

Their closest neighbor was one quarter of a mile away, so her little brother was her playmate and her best friend.  That fierce friendship lasted until his death in 2006.

Cynthia was and is an avid reader.  Her mother was a librarian and brought new books home each week.  This is where young Cynthia first got the storytelling bug.  She wrote her first story at the age of ten.  A romance about a little boy she liked at the time.

She worked her way through college and went to work full time straight after graduation and there was little time to write.  Then in 1990 she and two friends started a round robin writing a story about pirates.  She found that she missed the writing and kept on with other stories.  In 1992 she joined Colorado Romance Writers and Romance Writers of America.  Unfortunately, the loss of her job demanded the she not renew her memberships and her writing stagnated for many years.

In 2000, she saw an ad in the paper for a writers conference being put on by CRW and decided she'd attend.  One of her favorite authors, Catherine Coulter, was the keynote speaker.  Cynthia was lucky enough to have a seat at Ms. Coulter's table at the luncheon and after talking with her, decided she needed to get back to her writing.  She rejoined both CRW and RWA that day and hasn't looked back.

Cynthia credits her wonderfully supportive husband Jim and the great friends she's made at CRW for saving her sanity and allowing her to explore her creativity.
TAME A WILD WIND from Amazon


“Ow!  Are you trying to kill me, Doc?” 

The man was understandably nervous, but he had to allow her to set his leg.  She knew he was in a lot of pain.  The bone stuck out through the skin and he had lost a lot of blood, but he needed to relax so she could set the leg.
“I haven’t even started yet.  Stop being a baby.  Here we go.  You’ll feel a little pinch in your neck, then count backwards from one hundred.”
“Ouch!  Little pinch!”
“Count, now!”
“One hundred, ninety-nine, ninety-eight, ninety-seven, ninety….”
“Finally.”  Riza worked quickly, not sure just how long he would stay out.  She opened his leg, surgically implanted two kalcion rods and several screws to secure them to the bones.  It would have been so much easier with a med-tech unit.  But there were none on Gregara.  They weren’t allowed.  There were many things on the other civilized planets that weren’t allowed here, like blasters, but for some reason blasters always seemed to make it through the customs process.  In Ruciem it seemed that as many people carried blasters as carried the traditional kalcion sword.
Most of the planet preferred to keep their customs, barbaric as they were.  They used swords, not blasters and preferred the body to heal itself without help from technology.  It made her work much more difficult.  A broken leg like this one could have been healed in a few hours in a med-tech unit.
She stitched everything closed.  Doing surgeries like this one allowed her to keep her skills sharp.  It may not be necessary, but this man would have the smallest stitches ever put on a leg repair.  Her skills as a plastic surgeon might not be usable here, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t keep her stitching up to par.
With her patient now awake and groggy, Riza went to talk to the next of kin.  There was only one man in the waiting room.  An extremely attractive man, if you liked handsome in a rugged sort of way.  He hadn’t shaved recently and his inky black hair was on the long side, tied back with a leather strap.  It suited him.
He stood as she approached.  Well over six feet tall, he towered over her own five feet, ten inch height.
“Mr. Remaul?” she said holding out her hand. 
“Yes.”   His hand engulfed hers.
“I’m Riza Lamrona.”
“Doctor.  How is Tarin?”
“He’ll be fine, but he’s going to have to stay in bed for a week or so before he’s ready to travel.  I want to make sure the bones start to mend properly.  Can you arrange that?”
“Of course.  We have rooms at Wardson’s Bedstay.”
She nodded.  “I wish there was a hospital here.  A med-tech unit would be even better but….”
“I guess they don’t think they need one.”
“Well, he will heal fine, but it could be so much faster and better.  You’re not from around here, are you?”
“No.  I came from Alerkan a couple of years ago.  And you, where are you from?”
“I’m from many places.  Alerkan is one of them.”  Riza retreated to her work.  She didn’t want to make small talk.  Her secrets were too dangerous.  “Here are some pills to help with the pain.  Have Tarin take them.  Don’t let him try to ‘tough’ it out.  Sarina Wardson is used to my sending her patients to care for.  I’ll check on him in the morning.”
“What time do you want him here?”
“Oh, I’m staying with Sarina myself until I find a place of my own.  I’ll come by before I head to work.”
“Yes.  Um. Well.  It was nice to meet you.”  Riza wasn’t usually tongue-tied but she seemed to be with this man.
“You, too.  Perhaps, since you are staying at Wardson’s, I’ll see you at dinner tonight.”
“Unless I get an emergency call, you can count on it.”
Darick was struck with the seemingly plain woman with the amazing blue eyes.  The little doctor thought she could hide behind her tight braid and glasses.  She was wrong.  There was no hiding her soft brown hair or clear blue eyes.  Eyes so pale a blue you could see the black rim around the iris.  Hair with natural blond and red highlights, so it looked like a flash of fire running through it.
Or her sexy body.  He shouldn’t be interested.  Should let her keep her secrets.  He had secrets of his own, but his past kicked in and suddenly he was the Star Patrol lead detective again, digging into the past of a suspect. 
There was something about the doctor that was familiar, but he couldn’t put his finger on it.  Dr. Riza Lamrona was in hiding.  And not doing a very good job at it.  Perhaps at dinner, the picture would become clearer. 

Monday, July 16, 2012



I'm delighted. Linnea Sinclair's sci-fi romance, THE DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES, is coming to the big screen this summer, under a slightly different title: THE DOWN HOME ALIEN BLUES.

I discovered Linnea Sinclair as an author at the RT Convention of 2007. I won a free copy of the mass market paperback version and loved it. Since then I went on to buy and devour all her sci-fi romance novels in all formats. Nowadays, I favor kindle. I still re-read one of her books every now and then, when I feel the need for a shot of good sci-fi romance, and I can't wait for her to publish more books.

Linnea writes strong female and sexy male characters, in action-packed stories full of internal conflicts... very much like mine. When I read her books I know we both came from the same possible future. We even favor the same short blond pixie haircut. It all makes sense to me.

So when I learned last year at the Romantic Times Convention that this very novel was coming to the big screen, I was thrilled. Thrilled for the genre, hoping that many more sci-fi romances will flourish in Hollywood. After all, sci-fi romance has the best of everything: enough action for a blockbuster, a kick-butt heroine, and a sexy hero with a heart, to thrill the ladies.

As for this particular story, unlike most others from Linnea, it doesn't take place in a spaceship (except for a scene or two) but in Florida. Which probably appealed to the film makers, as it allowed them to use contemporary and natural outdoor settings. The heroine is an alien soldier, and according to the trailer I watched, she has a very particular accent. The hero is a down on his luck Miami detective. I hope they kept for the movie the little things that made the book endearing to me. For instance, the heroine is trying human food and goes nuts for "delicious peanut butter."

I can't wait to see this movie. I think every sci-fi romance reader and author should go see it. Who knows? If this film is a success, our books could be next to catch the eye of Hollywood filmmakers.

In the meantime, you can enjoy Linnea's novels like I do. Find her on AMAZON HERE, visit the film website HERE.

And when you are finished with her books, read mine.... No, really. You can find me, Vijaya Schartz, on Amazon HERE, and on my website HERE. Although I write in many genres, I have a wide selection of sci-fi romance novels full of action, kick-butt heroines and sexy heroes.


Vijaya Schartz
Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick
Friday, July 13, 2012

Comic Con 2012 Begins!

What started as a geek-out by some comic book enthusiasts has turned into a mega confab of popular culture. From TV shows and movies, to fangirls and toys. And costumes. Lots of costumes. 

What is the universal appeal of science-fiction and fantasy? I think it's being able to escape the mundane to be something extraordinary--even if your battery packs chafe and the tight vinyl makes your thighs sweat during cosplay.

For awhile it's fun to remember the dreams and fantasies of one's childhood. To remember when anything was possible. 

And maybe it's a time to think of what might be possible when it comes to romance.

 All of the year's biggest films and shows are represented at Comic Con, and along with that come the Twi-Moms

Attending a gathering crawling with colorful characters is a better dating opportunity than singles night at the local grocery store. 

My book The Z Word (free right now!) will be represented at Comic Con compliments of Grub Street Reads. You can say I'm entertaining a few dreams of my own.

So even if you can't attend in person, let your imagination in the spirit of Comic Con 2012!

Monday, July 9, 2012

An Interview with Author Tara Chevrestt

What's your book/current WIP about?

It's crazy, actually. It's about women in the future, taking over the world and stealing power from the men. After centuries of fighting for their rights, they say, "The time is now." The women are doctors/nurses, so I've titled it FemDocs.

Care to share your favorite line(s)?

"It’s time to put away the cooking pots, my dears. It’s time to do what you were trained for. No longer will we cater to the male species, allowing them to treat as sex objects or baby incubators.”

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

My books in general? People don't like different. They don't like to think outside their little Happy Ever After boxes. But…I'm going to write what I want regardless.

What sparked your interest in futuristic writing?

My father. I have great memories of sitting there with him watching The Outer Limits, black-and-white horror movies with strange creatures and dumb humans screaming, Twilight Zone. I love that I've inserted some of that strange darkness into a book.

Describe your writing in a sentence.

I'm not always going to end a story with hero and heroine getting married and having a baby. Literature today is so predictable, I don't see the point in reading it. With me, you're going outside the box every now and then. If it's a Sonia Hightower book, you never know what you'll find.

What's your next project?

Goodness, I just came back from vacation and have a swamped inbox. LOL. How I'll find time to write is beyond me, but if I do find the time, my father gave me another great idea for a paranormal aviation romance. We'll see.


Tara Chevrestt is a deaf woman, former aviation mechanic, writer, and an editor. She is most passionate about planes, motorcycles, dogs, and above all, reading. That led to her love of writing. Between her writing and her editing, which allows her to be home with her little canine kids, she believes she has the greatest job in the world. She is very happily married.

Tara also writes as Sonia Hightower. Sonia writes the racy stuff and argues that she was here first. She just wasn't allowed to be unleashed until the last year. While Tara and Sonia continue to fight over the laptop and debate who writes the next book, you can find buy links, blurbs, and other fun bits on their website: or their Facebook page: Tara-Chevrestt-Sonia-Hightower/218383211513877.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Read, Write & Blog

I'm afraid that the title of this blog is probably going to be the best part. With it being the Fourth of July, I figure there aren't going to be many people spending their day sitting inside at their computers reading blogs. Most of us will be outside enjoying the summer weather, visiting with friends and family and watching the fireworks.

So I'll keep this short and sweet.

The Fourth of July is the anniversary of the birth of our nation. We celebrate it by having cook outs, picnics, gathering family and friends together, and viewing bright sparkly lights in the night sky. But as writers we celebrate by having the freedom to put our thoughts, ideas and feelings into words for other people to read.

Though there are those who denigrate the romance genre as being less than other forms of literature, by doing so those critics reinforce the power the written word holds. Books about people falling in love, forming committed relationships and strong family groups have a subtle influence on readers. Writers explore and study the past, comment and reflect the present, and attempt to predict the future.

I feel blessed to live in a country where I'm allowed to express myself through my writing, where I'm able to share my opinions through my fiction while entertaining people.

In my sexy sci-fi romance STAR CRASH when my heroine crash lands on an alien planet she loses her freedom. Trapped as an exhibit in an alien zoo she's forced to fight to regain that freedom as well as the man she thought she'd lost.


When Planet of the Apes meets Star Trek what's a girl to do?

After recon pilot Cora Daniels crash lands on an alien planet she finds herself a prisoner of the Flock: a race of birdlike humanoids. Trapped in their zoo she discovers they intend her to mate. To breed. To be part of their human herd.

She's placed in a cage with a man - a powerful, virile man, but not just any man - Alexander. Was he her lost love, who'd disappeared so long ago? Here he was: naked, glistening, a warrior trained by the Flock to fight for their amusement. How could the brilliant man, the tender lover she remembered have become this animal born to dominate and destroy? Was he a pawn of the Flock or would their flight to freedom be a long-sought reunion?

Available from Amazon for $3.99

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Importance of Fathers

I lost my father when I was seventeen. I wish I could say I was close but I wasn't. I thank God though, that I had an exceptional mother who was both a father and mother to me.

I've always known how important fathers are when I look at my two daughters. I thought I'd pull some interesting statistics about the importance of fathers. It's hard to argue with numbers....
63% of teen suicides come from fatherless homes. That’s 5 times the national average.

A child with a nonresident father is 54 percent more likely to be poorer than his or her father.

90% of all runaways and homeless children are from fatherless homes. That’s 32 times the national average.

A study of 3,400 middle schoolers indicated that not living with both biological parents quadruples the risk of having an affective disorder.

85% of children with behavioral problems come from fatherless homes. 20 times the national average.

71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. 9 times the national average.

85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes. 20 times the national average.
Children with Fathers who are involved are 40% less likely to repeat a grade in school

Even in high crime neighborhoods, 90% of children from stable 2 parent homes where the Father is involved do not become delinquents.

So if you had/have an involved father, tell him how much that mattered/matters.

Who We Are

This tells about us.