Monday, October 21, 2019

Feudal Japan can be relevant even in science fiction - by Vijaya Schartz

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

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Living in the past, the present, or the future - by Vijaya Schartz

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:

amazon  -  B&N  -  Smashwords  -  Kobo  



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

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Free in kindle unlimited for a short time, CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE Box set

The first four novels in the Curse of the Lost Isle medieval fantasy romance series are now available in a boxed set, free in kindle unlimited for a short time. Don't miss this opportunity.

Here is the amazon link: click HERE
Also find all the individual novels in the series (8 total) everywhere in ebook and paperback. Here is the entire series. Find it on: amazon  -  B&N  -  Smashwords  -  Kobo


"I enjoyed the way the author incorporated her extensive research into the stories,making these much more than historical romance. The stories include detailed battle scenes, weaponry, sea-faring action, historical food and cookery knowledge, re-imagined mythology, as well as how the new religion-politic came into being... Thank you for the wonderful escape!" Amazon Reader previous edition 5 stars

"Schartz is an accomplished writer, whose pacing, conflicts, and goals are always complex and whose good characters are always likeable, and whose villains are evil incarnate... Schartz spins a great story.It's a bit bloody and bloodthirsty in places... But that's part of the drama, and Schartz certainly knows drama." Manic Readers 5 stars

"Ms. Schartz's writing is spot on - it's tight and flows well, there are no superfluous passages. It's a pleasure to read excellent writing. Her descriptions are perfect to the mood and moment, with exact word choices. Plotting and characterization were excellent as well and kept me reading. Thank you for the wonderful escape!" 5 stars on Amazon

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

Monday, November 26, 2018

Can writing be 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
amazon  -  B&N  -  Smashwords  -  Kobo  -  FB

Monday, October 8, 2018

Why writers like 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

amazon - B&N - Smashwords - Kobo - FB

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Princess of Bretagne 99cts on Smashwords

99cts on smashwords HERE

For a limited time only, PRINCESS OF BRETAGNE, Book One of the Curse of the Lost Isle medieval fantasy series, is only 99cts in all ebook formats.

This book is also available in paperback from B&N and amazon. 
"If you like your medieval romances spiced with a little sword and sorcery, like the Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, you'll love Vijaya Schartz's Princess of Bretagne." 

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, 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.

Princess of Bretagne - Book One

806 AD - Alba (Ancient Scotland) - As the Vikings raid the coast of Alba, Pressine of Bretagne sets out to seduce King Elinas of Dumfries, chosen by the Goddess to unite the tribes against the foreign invader. Elinas, still mourning his departed queen, has no intention to remarry. Head-strong and independent, Pressine does not expect to fall for the very attractive, wise and noble ruler... Furthermore, her Pagan nature clashes with the religious fanaticism of the king’s Christian heir, who suspects her unholy ancestry and will stop at nothing to get rid of her.

"Schartz paints a realistic picture of life in a medieval castle, with all its smells, tastes, visuals, and feelings, and as always, all the primary, as well as the secondary characters are well-developed and interesting. I’m looking forward to the others in this series." - Manic Readers 4.5 stars

"The exciting battles and period details also drew me in as did the intrigue surrounding Elinas' son trying to prevent him from marrying Pressine. Overall, Princess of Bretagne was a solid story that I enjoyed reading. I'm very much looking forward to finding out what's next for Elinas and Pressine when the series continues with the release of Pagan Queen." - 4 stars - The Hope Chest Review

"The story is filled with action and danger and there are many interesting secondary characters that help drive the plot forward. I particularly like Gwenvael, Pressine's brother... Look for the just released PAGAN QUEEN, to continue the saga of these two lovers." - Four ribbons - Romance Junkies. 

Find these books on my page at:
amazon  -  B&N  -  KOBO  SmashWords
5 stars on Amazon "Edgy Medieval. Yay!"

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Magical Ladies of the Lost Isle still inspire today's women

Available online in all ebook formats and paperback.

Myths and legends are often cautionary tales, but each of them relates to specific events and periods of the faraway past, and contains a kernel of truth. Even these immortal ladies were modeled on existing heroines of old, who influenced society in times of turmoil.
Beside the persecution of Pagans during the dark ages, many important historical events punctuate the lives of these immortal ladies. The Viking invasions in Scotland are front and center in books one and two. Then the foundation of Luxembourg in books three and four. Feudal life and religious struggles in France come to life in book five. The greatest adventure of all times, the Crusades with their different facets are depicted in books six and seven, and the best known legend of Melusine the Fae in Aquitaine, the cradle of many royal lines, comes to light in book eight.

But who were these strong women who fought to survive against all odds, in a world ruled by men, in a violent society where life had little value?

They were Celtic and Pagan. They did not abide by the rules of the new religion Charlemagne had imposed by the sword. They believed in equality and refused to bow to the will of the men who would tame and control them. They practiced kindness toward all and worked for the common good. Early on, they symbolized hope and freedom for many, especially the oppressed.
The ruins of the castles they built still stand. Here, Melusine's tower in Vouvant, Aquitaine.
These ladies were smart and astute politicians and influenced the rulers and the historical events of their day. They had the welfare of their community at heart. They fought for what was right in a world where the powerful held sway with ruthless violence, and often with impunity.

These ladies were not perfect. Far from it. Each of them made grave mistakes in their youth, using their powers for purposes other than the common good. For these mistakes, they were cursed, and spent their entire lives dealing with horrible woes... all the time struggling to hide their Pagan origins and avoid discovery by the Church... which would lead to burning at the stake. They also sought redemption in the eyes of their Pagan Goddess.
Melusine in her cursed shape still graces the walls of the castle of Lusignan
 Even in today's society, these ladies of old stand as a shining example. I loved writing about them. Their names are rarely mentioned in the history books, although they appear in many legends. But their famous and infamous descendants blazed new trails throughout history.

I hope when you learn more about them, you will like them as much as I do.

Vijaya Schartz
Action, Romance and Mayhem
http://www.vijayaschartz.com
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