Monday, November 23, 2015

6th Annual Royal Dragonfly Book Award Winners Announced

CHANDLER, AZ (November, 2015) – Winners of the 2015 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards have been announced by Five Star Publications, Inc.  

 Slow Dancing with a Stranger by Meryl Comer has earned this year’s $300 Grand Prize as well as First Place designations in the Aging and General Nonfiction categories and Honorable Mention in the First-time Author category. An Emmy-award winning broadcast journalist and leading Alzheimer’s advocate, Comer has written a profoundly personal, unflinching account of her husband’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease that serves as a much-needed wake-up call to better understand and address a progressive and deadly affliction. When Comer’s husband Harvey Gralnick was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease in 1996, she watched as the man who headed hematology and oncology research at the National Institutes of Health started to misplace important documents and forget clinical details that had once been cataloged encyclopedically in his mind. With harrowing honesty, she brings readers face to face with this devastating condition and its effects on its victims and those who care for them. Detailing the daily realities and overwhelming responsibilities of caregiving, Comer sheds intensive light on this national health crisis, using her personal experiences—the mistakes and the breakthroughs—to put a face to a misunderstood disease, while revealing the facts everyone needs to know.
Additional first-place winners include The Tiny Portrait by Heidi Carla, illustrated by Karla Cinquanta, which was also the $100 drawing winner; Bee in the Sea by Adam Reed, illustrated by Izzy Bean; American Mojo Lost and Found: Restoring Our Middle Class Before the World Blows by Peter D. Kiernan;   Ballerina Detective and the Missing Jeweled Tiara by Karen Rita Rautenberg; tNumbers!: Take the Dog Out by Lynne Dempsey, illustrated by Mandy Newham-Cobb; Nickerbacher, The Funniest Dragon by Terry John Barto, illustrated by Kim Sponaugle; Posie Pixie and the Pancakes by Sarah Hill, illustrated by Sarah Mauchline; Posie Pixie and the Snowstorm by Sarah Hill, illustrated by Sarah Mauchline; Hi My Name is Hanna and I'm Adopted by Angie Barton; Colors!: Take the Dog Out by Lynne Dempsey, illustrated by Mandy Newham-Cobb; Castle in Danger by Karen Rita Rautenberg; Simmer and Smoke: A Southern Tale of Grit and Spice by Peggy Lampman; Going to the Park by Elizabeth Gorcey, illustrated by Kajiah Jacobs; and Ashes and Asphalt by Trevor Halloway.

"We had a very tight competition this year and our judges definitely had their work cut out for them," says Linda F. Radke, president of Five Star Publications, Inc. “I want to extend my sincerest congratulations to all of our winner.

For complete winners list go to:
and click on "Winners." The next Royal Dragonfly Book Awards contest is already underway. The early bird deadline is August 1, 2016. Final deadline for submissions is October 1, 2016.
In addition to the Royal Dragonfly Book Awards, Five Star Publications, Inc. also has two additional book contests: The Purple Dragonfly Book Awards and the Story Monster Approved! program. The early bird deadline for the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards contest, which recognizes outstanding children's literature, is March 1, 2016. The final deadline is May 1, 2016. For complete rules and submission forms for these contests, visit and click on the contest of choice. Entrants who meet the early bird deadline are eligible for the Early Bird reward: a free e-copy of The Economical Guide to Self-Publishing or Promote Like a Pro: Small Budget, Big Show written by Linda F. Radke.

The Story Monster Approved! program identifies quality children's books that have been kid-tested and judge-certified, making it easier for buyers to choose exceptional fiction and nonfiction books that parents will approve and youths will enthusiastically devour. Authors interested in having their books considered for the Story Monster Approved! designation should visit to download an entry form. There is no deadline to enter and books are judged as they are received.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


Saturday November 7, 2016 was a special date for many authors and writers. The ARIZONA LITERARY AWARDS BANQUET, organized by the Arizona Authors Association and sponsored by the literary community, including Green Pieces Publishing and Barnes & Noble, took place at the Glendale Civic Center on Glenn Drive. Here are a few pictures and memorable moments for that enchanted evening.

The big winner of the evening was ARIZONA BOOK OF THE YEAR (sponsored by Green Pieces Publishing) recipient Tony Taylor for his novel THE DARKEST SIDE OF SATURN Odyssey of a Reluctant Prophet of Doom. Celebratory glass in one hand and award in the other, this is a happy winner. Find the book on Amazon HERE

Many other winners in poetry, short story, essay, unpublished novel, nonfiction, children's books and novels were awarded that night.
Nonfiction category winners, CAVE CREEK CANYON Revealing the Heart of Arizona's Chiricahua Mountains, edited by Wynne Brown and Reed Peters
Here is a group picture of all the winners and finalists present at the banquet.

Also a rare photo of the Arizona Authors Association board of Directors.

From left to right: Vijaya Schartz (Membership Director & Webmistress) - Ron Tobin (Secretary and Program Coordinator) - Cherie Lee (Newsletter Editor) - Toby Heathcotte (Outgoing President) - Nancy Brehm (High Country Liaison) - Lisa Aquilina (VP, Contest Coordinator, and new President as of January 1st) - Russel Azbill (Treasurer) - Missing is our Tucson Liaison, Jan Cleere could not attend this year.

This event is open to the public. A few local press members attended. We hope to see you next year, on the first Saturday of November. If you would like to enter the contest, or become a member, visit our website.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Mark Coker, founder and CEO of Smashwords, is coming to Phoenix August 15, 2015

This year, Valley of the Sun Romance Writers is pleased to present an all-day e-Publishing Workshop, bringing in Mark Coker, founder and CEO of Smashwords, who is sharing inside tips on what it takes to become a best seller. 

Date: Saturday, August 15th, 2015
Place: Crowne Plaza // 2532 W. Peoria Avenue // Phoenix, AZ
Time: All day – 9am – 3pm
***Lunch Included***
Total Cost – $40.00 Lunch Included (if paying by check, please contact for instructions and to reserve your spot) or register with PayPal on the website at:

Open to the Public Deadline to register: August 7th, 2015

The topics covered: 

1. An Introduction to Ebook Self Publishing: How to Publish, Distribute and Sell Your eBook
The ebook revolution has taken the publishing industry by storm, and self-published authors are leading the charge. Self-published authors now grace the New York Times bestseller list on a regular basis. A few years ago, this was almost unheard of. In the future, it'll become even more commonplace. It's easier to self-publish an ebook than you might imagine. No technical experience necessary! In this introductory, jargon-free primer to ebook self publishing, Mark Coker will cover the basics. Mark will present an ebook publishing checklist covering everything you need to know to get started. Mark’s session will begin by providing an overview of the latest ebook market trends, and then will provide detailed guidance on ebook creation, pricing and marketing. Learn about ISBNs, copyright and what you need to know about piracy. Learn how to get your book distributed to libraries and major ebook retailers.

2. 16 Secrets of the Bestselling Ebook Authors: Best Practices for Ebook Publishing
In this segment, Mark Coker will share 16 best practices of the most successful self-published ebook authors. Learn how to self-publish with pride and professionalism. Learn simple, yet important strategies that will make your book more accessible, more discoverable and more desirable to readers. The session draws upon the best practices advice contained in Mark Coker’s free ebook, THE SECRETS TO EBOOK PUBLISHING SUCCESS, and includes new insights not covered in the book.

3. Hit the Ebook Bestseller Lists with Ebook Preorders
Imagine if you could press a magic button that would make your next ebook release land higher in the the bestseller charts. Imagine no more. The magic button is real, and it's called the ebook preorder. In this third section of Mark Coker's ebook publishing intensive, you'll learn how to use preorders to make your next book launch more successful. Learn case study examples of how Smashwords authors have used preorders to hit the top of the charts.

To register for the workshop, go to:

Upcoming Events | Valley of the Sun Romance writers of America

Monday, June 29, 2015

2016 Desert Dreams Keynote Speakers

Desert Dreams Conference dates:
April 7 through 10, 2016 - Scottsdale, AZ


Alexandra Ivy
New York Times and USA Today Best Selling author Alexandra Ivy began her career writing regency historicals under the name of Deborah Raleigh. Current series include, Guardians of Eternity, The Sentinels Series, The Rapture Series, The Rogue Series and her latest, The Bayou Heat Series.  She is currently represented by Evan Marshall Literary Agency.  You can find more information about Ms Ivy on her website,

JA JanceJ.A. Jance is the top 10 New York Times bestselling author of the Joanna Brady series; the J. P. Beaumont series; three interrelated thrillers featuring the Walker family; and Edge of Evil, the first in a series featuring Ali Reynolds. Born in South Dakota and brought up in Bisbee, Arizona, Jance lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington, and Tucson, Arizona. You can find out more about Ms. Jance on her website

More information and registration HERE

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Reserve the dates for the Desert Dreams Writers Conference 2016 in Scottsdale AZ

The Desert Dreams Conference is coming sooner than you think, April 7-10 2016 to Scottsdale, Arizona. Although it's only every other year, you can check out the list of booked agents and editors, and keynote speakers HERE

Registration is now open and I advise you to register soon, especially if you want an agent or editor appointment, since these will be first come first served.

We will be back at the luxurious Chaparral Suites resort in Scottsdale. It promises to be the best Desert Dreams Conference yet

Vijaya Schartz
Desert Dreams Conference blogger 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A geeky author at the Phoenix COMICON by Vijaya Schartz

I enjoyed signing my books at the Phoenix Comicon last year, and realized that's where my audience was. The sales were great, and I made new fans as well. So I shall be back on May 28 to 31st this year. A promise and a threat. Watch out, when I get my geek on.

As a sci-fi author, it's so exciting to see people walking around in costumes. These fans really do take their fiction seriously. They sometimes know more about your characters than you remember writing... and they do not take it kindly if you do not know the answer to their questions about your books. You wrote them, right? You brought these characters to life!

Yet, somehow, after a book is published, I move on to the next and seem to forget everything about their former story... unless I'm writing a series, and it's just like the continuation of a long saga.

Talking of saga, this year I will have print copies of my medieval fantasy series The Curse of the Lost Isle. Like me, these geeky fans understand that sci-fi and fantasy often mix, and if they can wear costumes, it doesn't matter whether they are at Comicon or at the Renaissance Fair.

So, if you happen to browse the main exhibition hall (last year it was in the basement), please stop by and say Hi. It's amazing how many friends I met there last year. It seems everyone loves the Phoenix Comicon.
Find out more about it HERE

Phoenix Comicon Official Website

In the meantime, back to writing My latest release is a box set for my medieval fantasy series, books 1-4, so if you are thinking of catching up before Book 6, Beloved Crusader, comes out this month, here it is. Book 5, Chatelaine of Forez, is out in kindle already.

Buy this box set here

Hope to see many of you at the Comicon FanFest.

Vijaya Schartz
Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Arizon Literary Awards Banquet was a success

Just a few pictures to whet your curiosity. You can see them all on the website at Click on CONTEST on the left, then banquet photos. If you are interested, you can also browse the list of winners.

Starting with the welcome, this event is always a classic among the Arizona writing community. But each year, finalists and winners come from many other states to attend, breathlessly waiting for the announcement of the year's winners.

You can find all the details on the website, but my experience this year was particularly rewarding. The theme was the Great Gatsby and the Roaring Twenties, with music provided by Tom Brehm to create the historical atmosphere. Many of the guests wore costumes, long pearl necklaces, headbands with feathers, or feather boas. I enjoyed dressing up for the party (left).

The buffet was sublime, the food delicious, and the desserts... went straight to our hips.

Then came raffles, announcements, and our President Toby Heathcotte announced the winners, while our Vice President Lisa Aquilina presented their prizes. Lots of smiling faces that night. Nothing boosts a writer's confidence like recognition from a prestigious organization like the Arizona Authors Association. The overall winners will also be entered in the pushcart prize.

Here are the smiling faces of finalists and winners who attended. Congratulation to all.

You may also read the unpublished entries in the 2015 Arizona Literary Magazine, available from Amazon HERE

And if you want to test your skills, the new contest will accept entries from January 1 to July 1 for next year's winners. The categories include nonpublished works, with essays, poetry, articles, novels, short stories, as well as published categories for novels, nonfiction, and children's literature.

Hope to see you there next year.

Vijaya Shartz