Sunday, December 24, 2023

Happy Yuletide, everyone


Happy Holidays, everyone. This winter solstice tradition is found all around the world. Although baby Jesus was born in the spring (announcing the age of the Pisces) the early Church decided to celebrate on the winter solstice, in part to replace the Pagan celebrations of Saturnalia with a Christian holiday.

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas season.

Vijaya Schartz, author 

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Writing the series - How long should it be? - by Vijaya Schartz

Creating an entire universe, with its inhabitants, its rules, its technology, is exciting but a lot of work. And as I create a universe for a story, I usually fall in love with it, which makes it difficult to let go of it to write something completely different. So, I tend to write series.

Although I write each book as a standalone, long series sometimes discourage the readers. Who wants to start with Book 8? And buying all the books that came before in one sweep may seem overwhelming.

Other readers want to wait until the series is finished to read all the books in one sweep. I understand that.

The Curse of the Lost Isle series, based on Celtic legends, has eight books. It can be a challenge or some readers.

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The Chronicles of Kassouk science fiction series has six. Still too long for some readers.

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So, I recently decided to limit each series to three or four books. But then, I start another series, set in another part of the same universe.

Sometimes, I fall in love with a secondary character in my story in progress, and I decide he or she deserves their own book. So, I use the secondary character from the current book as the protagonist for the next one. Or I introduce the next protagonist at the end of a story. It provides a link, and the reader feels grounded in the new series.

That way, I can enjoy writing new stories in the same universe I love so much, like the Azura Universe. Azura is the angel planet featured in the Azura Chronicles. 

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But the Byzantium Space Station series is also set in that universe, where Azuran angels cross path with human, alien, cats, and cybernetic characters.

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And the Blue Phantom series also stems from Azura, as the Angel Ship sails alone about the universe, rescuing the worthy and fighting the forces of evil. I'm currently writing the second book, ANGEL GUARDIAN, set for release in October 2023. 

From series to series, the Azura universe evolves. The forces in power at the beginning may be defeated, evil rises, an authoritarian regime falls and lawlessness follows. Evil never misses an opportunity to insert itself into the mix. We discover new corners of the universe, new planets, and special places, like Byzantium, The Land of Many Waters, or the Pandemonium Space Station, ruled by a powerful crime lord.

The advantage is that the universe is consistent for the reader, who, like me, enjoys spending time there. I noticed that, once hooked on one series, my readers will check out the other series in that same universe. All the books in the Azura universe feature cats. It’s evident on the covers for the Byzantium Space Station series. For the Azura Chronicles, and for the Blue Phantom series, all the titles start with Angel. The style of the covers may vary from one series to the next, but the theme remains. Angels, strong heroines, and cats, protecting the universe from evil forces.

Desperate to save her people from the Marauders swarming her space freighter, Kefira prays for a miracle. Blake Volkov, legendary captain of the Blue Phantom hears her plea and deems her and her refugees worthy of his help. Grateful for the rescue, Kefira finds his price shocking. Despite his glowing wings, handsome looks and impressive abilities, Blake admits he is no angel… although Kefira’s feline bodyguard strongly disagrees.

Meanwhile, an old enemy bent on revenge against Blake unleashed an unspeakable evil on the galaxy. Time to face past mistakes… time for innocent blood to flow. Nothing prepared Kefira for the upheaval ahead.

Can Blake find redemption? Can Kefira save her people? Can either of them ever trust again?

"Unique and memorable characters who travel throughout the galaxy battling the forces of evil in a truly epic novel. There are so many unique aspects to this book and not just the world building. The characters are well rounded, the description on point, and the surroundings are awesome. The plot of "Angel Ship" will grip readers from the first page and keep in a talon-like grip until the very last page... Fans of Science Fiction will love this offering and will be drawn to read more books from this talented and capable author." Ind'Tale Magazine

Happy reading!

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

Monday, April 17, 2023

Sleeping too much or not enough? By Vijaya Schartz

 Every time the subject of sleep emerges in a conversation, I get different opinions. Sources differ about what’s not enough, what’s right, or what’s too much.

Recent studies on children have demonstrated that shortening sleep by 40 minutes adds significant stress to a child’s day. Adults who don’t sleep enough are also stressed… and stress affects the mood and the immune system.

I used to sleep 8 hours or more each night. Then I was told it was too much, so I reduced my sleep to the standard 7 hours. Soon, I realized it wasn’t enough. My body craved more.

Sleep quality is also a factor. Thanks to Yoga, Meditation, and Tai-Chi, as soon as my head hits the pillow, I’m in dreamland. Eliminating noise and light also contributed to better sleep.

Still. 7 hours weren’t enough. I realized I needed 7.5 hours minimum to feel refreshed and ready to face the new day.

I now understand that despite varying medical guidelines, each person is different and has different needs. It also depends on how much coffee you drink. I only have one large mug in the morning, and no caffeine during the day.

Screen time can also affect the quality of your sleep, so turn off the TV, the cell phone, or the kindle ½ hour before bed time. Warm milk also helps.

I used to be a night owl. But over the years, I discovered that I was more productive and inspired to write in the morning. So, I had to discipline myself to go to bed earlier.

Don’t tell me I sleep too much for an adult. I sleep just the right amount to be healthy, happy, and inspired. That’s what works for me.

So, don’t listen to the nay-sayers. Everyone should find their own balance in life. Sleep, work, recreation. That’s the secret of happiness. Cats already figured it out. 

I wish you all the sleep of the just.

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Vijaya Schartz, award-winning author

Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats

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Friday, March 17, 2023

Happy St. Patrick's Day - by Vijaya Schartz

  I always was fascinated by traditions, legends, and their origins. St Patrick is known for having brought Christianity to Ireland and cast the snakes out of the island.

Legend has it that Patrick stood on an Irish hillside and delivered a sermon that drove the island’s serpents into the sea. While it’s true that the Emerald Isle is mercifully snake-free, chances are that’s been the case throughout human history. Water has surrounded Ireland since the end of the last glacial period, preventing snakes from slithering over; before that, it was blanketed in ice and too chilly for the cold-blooded creatures. Scholars believe the snake story is an allegory for St. Patrick’s eradication of pagan ideology.

Although the knights of St. Patrick wore blue, green is the color of the Emerald Isle. It's also the color of the shamrock.

As for the traditional food, I suspect it was different in the days of the saint. And the green beer is definitely a modern tradition.

But today, everyone is celebrating, and everyone is Irish. Enjoy the celebrations!


Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Read a Book a Week event at Smashwords

 Don't miss this opportunity to sample the CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE series and other books, during the special Smashwords event. Click HERE to check it out. Happy Reading.

Many of my titles are free, this week only. This is your chance to discover new worlds of Epic Fantasy and Historical Romance.

Monday, January 2, 2023

Happy New Year traditions from all over the world - by Vijaya Schartz


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.

Happy Reading

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

Friday, December 23, 2022