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Thursday, February 13, 2020

Science catching up with science fiction - by Vijaya Schartz

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
Monday, January 13, 2020

2019 in review - by Vijaya Schartz

2019 was a busy and rewarding year in many ways and many areas of my life. On a personal level, my divorce was finalized, after twenty-five years of marriage. The last five years we were separated. Not a tremendous change, but a symbolic one. I always valued freedom above all. 

As for my writing career, a few surprise awards came at the very beginning. I was a bestseller for 2018 at BWL, and ANGEL MINE (Azura Chronicles Book 1) was voted Best Positive Future Novel of 2018 by Critters Annual Readers Poll.

 


My publication year started with ANGEL FIERCE in February, followed by BLACK DRAGON in June. Then I had to revise and refresh all the books in the CHRONICLES OF KASSOUK (six of them) over the summer for the second publication of this favorite award-winning series by BWL. Then I had to rewrite a short work into a full novel, AKIRA’S CHOICE, Byzantium Book 2, which was released in November. I also contributed to an anthology of essays about genre discrimination and the condition of women, to be released in January to benefit a women’s charity. 

Ten titles in one year. Phew! 

When the stars align, you better be ready for the turmoil. It was grueling work. And a lot of time and effort spent on writing, on promoting the release of each book, not to mention meeting insane deadlines. I had no other choice but to bury myself in my work. 

But the rewards exceeded all my expectations. 

The crowning came on November 2nd, with the 2019 ARIZONA LITERARY AWARDS, where ANGEL FIERCE won first place in fiction, a very large and competitive category.  Here I am in my Phryne Fisher Murder Mysteries costume, cloche hat and all, receiving the award. My book cover is on the big screen. The smile alone tells the story. 



Then, a few weeks later, on November 26, I was selected for the Best of Glendale award in Media and Entertainment, for my achievements as an author, for the year 2019. 
"Each year, this program identifies companies and individuals that we believe have achieved exceptional success in their local community and business category. These exceptional people help make the Glendale area a great place to live, work and play. Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners. The Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Glendale Award Program and data provided by third parties. Only one winner is selected in each category." 

It took me twenty years of arduous work and perseverance from my first book release to get to this point, and I have no regrets. After thirty original titles, it was all worth it. I realized my dream of becoming a recognized and celebrated author, respected by my peers, and loved by my readers. Too bad Amazon doesn’t consider quality as its principal standard. 

But where do I go from here? Keep writing. I’m now working on MALAIKA’S SECRET, Book 3 of the Byzantium series, to be released in 2020. Next will be ANGEL BRAVE, Book 3 of the Azura Chronicles, set on the angel planet. Angel Fierce, the award-winning book, was Book 2 of this series, and Book 1, Angel Mine, won a Readers Poll. Each book is a standalone.

I sincerely hope 2020 gives me a little time to breathe. I wouldn’t want to get burned out about writing, like some of my author friends who stopped producing altogether. I wish to retain my joie de vivre an enjoy some kind of personal life… which was missing in 2019. Besides, having a life can also give authors some inspiration for new characters and new stories. 


Winner Arizona Literary Awards, Fiction, 2019

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.

"full of fascinating elements and a unique spin on Angels... fast pace and strong, vivid characters that draw readers in and keep them glued to the pages... an entertaining and intriguing read." Ind'tale Magazine





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

I wish you all a wonderful holiday season, safe travels, and a fantastic year in 2020.


Vijaya Schartz, author
 Strong heroines, brave heroes, cats, romance with a kick
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Monday, December 16, 2019

Holiday culture - by Vijaya Schartz

Edouard Herriot famously said that culture is what remains when one has forgotten everything. Culture in the French vocabulary of the period meant learning and knowledge, but the saying is also true in today’s extended meaning of the word. 




We speak of ancient cultures, of the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, their philosophy and their mythology. We speak of the great artists of the Renaissance. They left long lasting testimonies of their history, architecture, writings, and way of life… Some say modern culture will only be evident when we are long gone and forgotten. 


I say culture is not only art, architecture, wisdom, or knowledge, but it is how we treat each other, and how we celebrate life, family, and the traditions that accompany good and bad events in our lives. 


Being raised in France, my first contact with America over the course of a three-month summer vacation was a true culture shock. I didn’t understand fast-food. Who in their right mind would eat ketchup? Why stick a piece of dry meat between two dry buns, when you can simmer your own coq-au-vin and bake potatoes au-gratin? 

I couldn’t understand why Americans worked such long hours and never took extended vacations. The French, even in those days, took five weeks of mandatory paid vacation each year, and often took a few extra, unpaid vacation weeks as well, with their employers’ blessing. Many French companies still close completely for an entire month each summer. 

When I returned to France, that fall, I declared that I would never want to live in America. These people were crazy, frantic, and didn’t know how to live… and they probably thought the same thing about me. 



As things go, life has a way of making you regret such statements made in the ignorance of youth. While studying in an ashram in India, where I felt totally at ease, despite the many cultural differences, I met an American man and fell in love. We were married, and I came to live with him in the United States. 



Imagine my reaction when he took me to eat a T-bone steak at Jack in the Box, on a paper plate, with plastic flatware. The culture shock was back. Never in my life had I cut a steak with a plastic knife. From then on, I cooked at home. It was great for a while, but soon, my husband missed American food… which I didn’t care for, and didn’t know how to cook. 

This was decades ago, and I since learned to appreciate American food and culture. I understand that a busy life requires take out or fast food, in order to spend more time with family. My mother spent all her time in the kitchen. I can now fully enjoy a barbecue party, or a seafood buffet. I absolutely love apple pie a la mode (which surprised me at first, because the French do not eat pie with ice-cream). I smile when I hear my neighbors shouting at the referee during a football game… although I still cook most of my meals at home… you know… trying to eat healthy. 

I even corrected my husband when he said America had no culture, compared to the Europeans, the Greeks or the Egyptians. But America is still young. These ancient cultures had a chance to mature over many centuries. Besides, Lady Liberty could compete with the colossus of Rhodes, and what about the faces carved in the rock of Mount Rushmore? 


Because America is young, it experiences many growing pains and is learning to cope with change, and handle diversity. It’s not an easy task, and progress is painful and takes time. Yet in the midst of all that, America has all kinds of great cultural traditions, because of its diversity. Emigrants from many countries melted their cultures together so much that we do not exactly know where American traditions come from. You can experience Mardi-Gras in New Orleans, or a Greek Festival in California. American pizza (nothing like its Italian ancestor) is now conquering Europe. Who hasn’t enjoyed a bagel smeared with cream cheese, Mexican food, Thai food, sushi, or Chinese take out? America embraced all these different cultures and from them, forged its own. 



But Thanksgiving is definitely a unique holiday of the American continent (although Europe is now trying to copy it), and I enjoyed it to the fullest, with turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and all. And I take my pie a la mode, merci beaucoup.


For a total culture shock, read ASHES FOR THE ELEPHANT GOD, a reincarnation love story set in India.
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To scatter her brother's ashes over the Narmada River, Fabienne leaves France for the mysterious India of her childhood dreams. As she awakens to a newfound spirituality, unexpected visions of a former life during the Raj stir ancient yearnings for a long lost passion. Mukunda, the palace architect Fabienne loved a century and a half ago, lives again as an American engineer and works on the local dam project.

As Fabienne falls in love again with India and the man of her destiny, the tapestry of her previous life unfolds. But, in the karmic land of the blue gods, a ruthless foe lies in wait. The Kali worshiper, who murdered the two lovers in a faraway past, has come back through the centuries to thwart their dream once more.

"... a broad-stroked, magnificent picture of a lavish India of the past and the present... a vivid tale of suspense... a gripping account of a woman coming to terms with heightened awareness... destiny." The Book Reader

"... entertaining, fast-paced yet deeply spiritual... Here is a superior metaphysical novel!" Richard Fuller - Metaphysical Reviews

"... passionate... love, lust, faith and deception... a magnificent offering to the world of fiction..." The Charlotte Austin Review

"...rich, sensual... multilayered... a thriller... magical, mystical book..." Writer's Digest

"...a striking and highly recommended metaphysical novel..." Midwest Book Review




Vijaya Schartz, author
 Strong heroines, brave heroes, cats, romance with a kick
 http://www.vijayaschartz.com
 amazon  -  B&N  -  Smashwords  -  Kobo  -  FB 
Monday, November 18, 2019

ANGEL FIERCE is an award-winning novel - by Vijaya Schartz



I am overjoyed. ANGEL FIERCE just won 1st Place in the ARIZONA LITERARY AWARDS 2019, in the Published Fiction category.
Although my books won several awards over the years, this one is meaningful. It’s not a popularity contest, or the opinion of a reviewer on a website, but an official recognition by the writing community of Arizona. It’s also in a very large category, Published Fiction, not a limited genre, like romance or science fiction.
So you can see why I’m excited. This contest has existed for decades, and is open to all authors everywhere, so I had a lot of competition. Still, ANGEL FIERCE won 1st place, and it’s wonderful.
Find it on: amazon  –  B&N  –  Smashwords  –  Kobo
BLURB:
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.
Here are a few review snippets: 
“This romance is full of fascinating elements and a unique spin on Angels… fast pace and strong, vivid characters that draw readers in and keep them glued to the pages… an entertaining and intriguing read.”Ind’tale Magazine 
“Action-packed twists and blooming romance fill each chapter to the point I didn’t want to stop reading it. I adore her planet, Azura, and the abilities of her Avenging Angels, but even above those, her two main story-stars, Maksou and Urielle, take the lead. Truth beyond all…especially when one can’t lie. Love it! I will be reading more of this author, entertaining and intriguing, along with vivid, intense action…plus the fact, this author knows her sci-fi.” Susan on amazon.
“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.” Beverly on amazon
Book One in the series is ANGEL MINE https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CYWVHWG/
Book Three, ANGEL BRAVE, is scheduled for release in late 2020.
Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong heroines, brave heroes, cats, romance with a kick
http://www.vijayaschartz.com
amazon  –  B&N  –  Smashwords  –  Kobo  –  FB
Monday, October 21, 2019

A Samurai heroine in sci-fi romance - by Vijaya Schartrz

Not so long ago, I practiced Aikido, a Japanese martial art. I lived in Hawaii at the time, a place of mixed cultures, where part of the population is of Japanese descent. I had a Japanese Sensei, who taught his pupils the fascinating traditions of ancient Japan. I even learned the language and visited the country with its feudal castles and many temples.

  



The most mysterious part of Samurai culture, at least for Westerners, is that deep sense of honor that pervades every thought and action. The Samurai were the equivalent of the medieval knights of ancient Europe… on steroid. Their dedication to the clan was complete. Without a second thought, they would sacrifice their life to save their master’s honor or the honor of the clan. 


 

 Myamoto Musashi was the most famous Samurai of ancient Japan. He was a Ronin, a masterless Samurai, and had the reputation of being ruthless. Himeji castle illustrates the architecture of the period. It was built to withstand battles and invasions... and it did survive the test of time. 



The movie THE LAST SAMURAI illustrates that innate sense of honor in a way most westerners can understand. But Martial arts are not reserved for men. Many young women, even in ancient times, took the sword and adopted the way of the Samurai... until they chose to marry and have children.



As I am finishing the story of AKIRA’S CHOICE, a November release from Books We Love, I enjoyed revisiting the heroic times of the Samurai. Although it's a science fiction romance, my heroine is of Japanese descent, a Samurai by tradition, and a bounty hunter by necessity. More precisely, she is a Ronin, a masterless Samurai. The story is set on the Byzantium space station, part of the Byzantium series but a standalone story, although a few characters do appear in several books. Oh, and Akira has a cheetah retriever as a companion.

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.

"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


Vijaya Schartz, author
 Strong heroines, brave heroes, romance with a kick
 http://www.vijayaschartz.com
 amazon  -  B&N  -  Smashwords  -  Kobo  -  FB
Monday, September 23, 2019

Living in the past or in the future?

WHITE TIGER on amazon
Free in Kindle Unlimited
A book can take you wherever and whenever you like. We are bound to the present, and the reality of our existence, but when we read, we can escape and learn about a different time and place. Some of us like to revel in the past, others prefer their entertainment in the future. As a historical and science fiction author and fan, I love both… and to me, they are very similar.

Some readers dream about living in slower times, simpler times… when people worked with their hands, and took the time to plant trees, grow their own food, smell the flowers and bake their own bread. Sounds idyllic, right? As writers, however, we have the responsibility to research the period, discover the truth, and write the reality of those times. The people in those days died much younger. Swords didn’t kill as many as automatic guns, but there was also tyranny, social inequalities, enslavement, exploitation, revolutions, famines, pestilences, the din of battle, the smell of horse sweat and burning homes... vultures swooping over gory battlefields. You get the picture.

CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE MEDIEVAL CELTIC LEGENDS SERIES ON AMAZON

Others readers dream of future times, when we have resolved our petty differences, to explore the confines of space in shiny starships and establish colonies on faraway planets. It also sounds good... until we realize that space is a dangerous, inhospitable place, and we are not alone out there. Our prejudices now apply to other species we call aliens. Our world may have expanded, but the main conflicts remain the same. Competing for essential resources, survival vs. greed… sounds familiar? Except that the stakes are higher, since our weapons can destroy entire planets.

ANGEL FIERCE
AZURA CHRONICLES
ON AMAZON


Whenever and wherever we are, there is good and evil, courage and cowardice, selflessness and greed… and whether it’s a human or an alien world, conflicts will arise. Which is good for us writers, because without conflict there is no story. I’m often told that my imagination knows no bounds, but to me, writing a story is only a matter of logic. I start from what I know from extensive research, then I put myself in my characters’ shoes, sandals, or combat boots. Who are these people? How do they live? What do they want? What do they fear? Who do they love? Then I live their lives in my head, like a 3D movie, and I write their struggles, hopes, defeats, victories, and rewards. 

I have been known to write action, adventure and romance, featuring fierce women, brave heroes, and cats. These are only a few of my latest releases. Find the full list on my website or on my author page at each retailer below:

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Vijaya Schartz, author
 Strong heroines, brave heroes, romance with a kick
 www.vijayaschartz.com 
  

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