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

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Free Fall Writers Workshops Nov.8 in Scottsdale AZ

Saturday November 08, 2014  - Time: 10 am to 4:30 pm
Scottsdale Civic Center Library - 3839 N Drinkwater Blvd - Scottsdale 85251 -Tel: (480) 312-7323

Southeast corner of Indian School and Drinkwater Blvd - Parking entrance on Drinkwater just south of the bridge. Two levels of parking available.

The workshops are held in the basement rooms and auditorium of the Scottsdale Civic Center Library.



10:30 to 11:15 am
Challenge your characters by Laurie Schnebly
Writing mysteries by Kris Tualla
Knowing your Genre by Virginia Nelson


11:25 am to 12:10 pm
Stereotyping and Native Americans by Melinda Elmore
The Fun Thing About Plotting by Vijaya Schartz
Motivation and Focus for Writing by Tara Taylor Quinn


12:15: Book Signing in the downstairs lobby and Lunch break

1:55 to 2:40 pm
Creating Unforgettable Characters by Jennifer Ashley
I Never Met a Cliche I didn't Like by Connie Flynn
Living the Live of a Writer by Tina Gerow


2:50 to 3:35 pm
Villains, an Author's Best Friend by Shelley Coriell
Setting by Erin Quinn
How I Started Writing by Pamela Tracy and Cheyenne McCray


3:45 to 4:30 pm
With Jennifer Ashley, Virginia Nelson, Erin Quinn, Vijaya Schartz, Pamela Tracy

Monday, September 29, 2014

Free WRITERS CIRCLE event October 11, in Phoenix AZ

Saturday October 11, 2014 Time: 9:30 am to 12:30 pm

Saguaro Library
2808 N 46th St
Phoenix, AZ 85008
Guest speakers: Laura Orsini and Carrie Morgan

Social Media For Authors: Life Beyond Facebook - Presenter: Laura Orsini 
Most authors know they should be incorporating social media into their book marketing efforts. The question is how to do it effectively. Whether you are a new author who is just releasing her first book or a prolific author with dozens of books to your name, the best time to begin your social media campaign is NOW! You will learn how to use social media to enhance your other marketing efforts; how to determine which social media platforms your readers are frequenting most often; how to time and schedule your posts for best reach; and how best to engage your friends, followers, and connections.

Laura Orsini is a self-publishing consultant who works with socially conscious authors to help them publish great books that change the world. With a BA in nonfiction from the University of Arizona, Laura has been working with local, national, and international authors since 2002. She runs the very popular Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup. Laura is an award-winning author, taking first place in the Global eBook Awards with 1001 Real-Life Questions for Women. She is the author of four books for authors: Social Media for Authors, The Author’s Media Tool Kit, Publish Your Book Already, and Blogging Success Tips for Authors. Her first novel is forthcoming this Fall.

Growing Your Platform Using Blogging & Content Marketing - Presenter: Carrie Morgan
Hoping to build an audience fast, establish your expertise and sell books? Blogging and content marketing are critical components that give authors an edge over those without these marketing skills. During this presentation, Top 1% Digital PR Influencer Carrie Morgan will discuss the differences between guest blogging and maintaining your own blog; how to identify, pitch and land guest blog post and article opportunities; and how to write blog posts that resonate with your readers and build loyalty. In the second half of the presentation, she will walk us through some basic professional tactics for building our blog- and content marketing strategy.

Currently writing her first book, Digital Haystack: Essential PR Tactics To Explode Online Visibility & Engagement, Carrie Morgan has 20+ years of agency and corporate experience, and has firmly established herself as influential in the marketing industry. She is a Kred Top 1% Influencer, a Klout Top 5% influencer and a LinkedIn Top 10% influencer who blogs at Morgan is also founder and moderator of #PRprochat, a Twitter chat that reaches millions of timelines each month, and a co-moderator of Phoenix PR Pros, a local Facebook group of 800 public relations professionals and journalists in Arizona. Carrie is a contributing author for industry leading publications including Social Media Today, MarketingProfs, PR Daily, Social Media Today, B2Community and Convince & Convert. She is President of the digital PR consultancy, Rock The Status Quo, with a client list that has included companies like Caremark CVS,, Keller Williams, American Express Financial, Cullum Homes, Fidelity National Title and Better Business Bureau.

For more Information: Questions: Kebba Buckley Button, Program Director,, 480-250-1177

Location Information:

Saguaro Library
2808 N 46th St
Phoenix, AZ 85008 - [View Mapquest Map]

Thursday, April 10, 2014

5 insights from best-selling authors - by Jami Gold

After nearly two years of sticking with only online writing conferences, I broke down and attended my fourth in-person conference this past weekend, where I presented my “Twitter for Introverts” workshop. I’m happy to say my class went well and I survived my pre-conference panic attack.
In fact, I had a great time at the Desert Dreams Writing Conference, which always exceeds my expectations. Desert Dreams is considered a “regional” conference, with bigger names and more workshops and events. Lucky for me, it’s local.
However, not all of us are so lucky to have easy access to quality writing conferences, so I wanted to share my top takeaways from the conference. I hope you find these ideas as insightful or inspiring as I do. *smile*

#1: Rejections Are Not a “Sign”

Christie Craig, New York Times bestselling author, was the Keynote Speaker for the Desert Dreams conference. Her speech was so inspiring I don’t want to spoil the punch line, but let’s just say that it had to do with the avalanche of rejections she’s received over her writing life.
Sometimes we might look at X number of rejections and take it as a sign. Maybe we’re not meant to be a writer. Maybe we can’t cut it. Maybe we should give up.
She persevered through countless (and I do mean countless—she brought a big box-load of proof) rejections. Not giving up is how she reached where she is today.
If rejections come with a message, it’s simply “not now.” With determination, we can later turn that “not now” into a “yes.”

#2: Be a Storyteller First

Christie also shared why she didn’t give up. Partly it was stubbornness, but a bigger part was knowing that she could tell stories. If we can tell stories, we’ll succeed if we keep at it, because writing can be learned.
Even in the worst-case scenario, where we’re receiving rejections because we’re not yet “good enough,” we can study writing craft and change our fate.
As Mary Buckham pointed out in a workshop, that “changing fate through our choices” perspective powers most commercial and genre fiction. We can absorb that mindset for our own future too.
Christie is a dyslexic high-school dropout. She didn’t have writing skills when she started. But she could tell stories, and that’s what really matters. Everything else can be learned.
By studying, we can change our fate. How cool is that?

#3: Make Settings Earn Their Word Count

USA Today bestselling author Mary Buckham was the featured presenter. She gave an intensive workshop on “Active Settings for All Fiction Genres.”
We often try to minimize our setting descriptions because they’re dry and boring. (She entered the living room and passed the couch to sit on the chair. *yawn*) Mary’s workshop shared techniques for making our setting descriptions work harder.
When we use deep point of view, our descriptions can show characterization, emotion, foreshadowing, backstory, etc. (Her mother’s living room beckoned, as it always did. The comfortably worn-in tweed couch whispered its memories of cushion forts and awkward teenage groping. She headed to the chair instead, just in case her mom hadn’t cleaned the sofa’s fabric since that drinking-night debacle with her brother Billy.)
If our setting descriptions are doing double or triple duty (establishing setting and backstory and characterization, or whatever combination works for the scene), we can use as many words as we need. Mary’s going to join us for a guest post soon (Yay!), but until then, we can learn from her Writing Active Setting book, where she shares tons of examples on how to empower our settings.

#4: Every Character Trait Can Be Good and Bad

Mary presented a second workshop as well: Down and Dirty Ways to Create Stronger Characters. She started by having everyone complete an Enneagram type quiz.
Surprisingly, I turned out to have nearly equal strengths in several traits: perfectionist and achiever (which I think means that I accomplish things despite my perfectionism *whew*), analyzer, nurturer, leader, and peacemaker. Apparently I’m an overachiever in Enneagram quizzes too. *smile*
Her point was for us to learn more about ourselves so we can ensure that we’re not just creating clones of ourselves for our characters. She then shared several techniques for developing unique characters.
One technique was to think of how our characters’ positive traits could be negative, like we discussed last year (where I covered Enneagram Types too). Specifically, she recommended thinking of ways every positive trait has a cost.
For example, if a character is a nurturer, what potential “costs” might that character pay for their trait? Maybe they forget to take care of themselves. Or maybe they’re a busybody who tries to force people to take their advice.
Mary suggested that we ask friends and family to help us brainstorm these “at what cost?” opposite traits. Especially if we just give them a list of traits (without knowing the character at all), we might gain new insights into our character by seeing their list of potential opposite traits.

#5: The “Duh” Insight: Writers Are Awesome

Finally, every author I met was fantastic. Several multi-published, bestselling authors let me pick their brains and shared great advice (including Christie, Mary, Calista Fox, Erin Quinn, Morgan Kearns, and Jennifer Ashley).
The lesson I took away was that no matter our situation, we can connect with other writers and grow our knowledge and our circle of friends. These bestsellers didn’t hoard their expertise. Instead they shared their insights with someone who has a blue streak in her hair. *grin*
I experienced embarrassment (Ack! Spotlight on the introvert!) and thankfulness when many authors stopped me to say how much my blog, beat sheets, and workshops have helped them. (Aww, warm fuzzies.) And I met a great group of women among the attendees (Lisa, Mary, Andrea, Carol, Christine, and a bonus dinner with Ann) and reconnected with a friend from the last Desert Dreams (Rose!).
In short, although the workshops and keynote were wonderful, what really makes conferences special are the people. The interactions with those willing to connect with us often stay in our memory far longer than any one workshop tip or speech insight, especially when we see authors take the time to help each other.
It’s those same connections that make online interactions with writers so special too. Thank you to all of you who read my blog, share your insights and advice, or reach out to me on social media. You. Are. Awesome. *smile*
Which of these was your favorite insight (or the one you want to hear more about)? Have you ever wondered if you should see rejections as a “sign”? Do you agree that storytelling comes first because writing craft can be learned? Do you struggle to make setting descriptions interesting or to create unique characters? If you’ve been to a writing conference, what’s been your favorite part?
Join Jami in her Upcoming Workshops: Build a Website on 4/22, Learn Beat Sheets on 5/8, & Become an Expert in Story Planning with “Lost Your Pants?” on 5/13. Click here to learn more and save money!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Festival of Literary Oddities - Phoenix AZ

Independent community literary magazine Four Chambers Press will be presenting The Festival of Literary Oddities:
Saturday March 22, 2014
from 7:00 to 9:00 pm
Frontal Lobe Community Space and Gallery
1301 Grand Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85007
The event will feature simultaneous sets from local authors Shawnte Orion, Bill Campana, Jack Evans, Deborah Berman, Heather Smith-Gearns, and MC Tristan Marshell; environmental entertainment from local performance artists Ernesto Moncada, Ashley Naftule, and Joy Young; music from Amy Ouzoonian; and a mutant-pinata themed open mic.

While most literary performances present authors in succession, Four Chambers Press will place three authors around the gallery to read at the same time. This, the magazine hopes, will create a more personalized and interactive experience. As Programs Manager Jared Duran explains, "By presenting the writer as a living, breathing art exhibit, Literary Oddities engages the visual arts world in a way that only human statues and mimes have sought to do in the past--but less creepy and with more sound."

Featured literary performances will begin at 7:30. The open mic begins at 8:30. Admission is free. More information can be found at:

About Four Chambers Press

Four Chambers Press is an independent community literary magazine based in Phoenix, AZ that seeks to give greater visibility to the literary arts and encourage their larger participation in the cultural scene. While literary magazines publish literary work and community literary magazines may get that work from the community, we are publishing work to build community. For more information please visit:

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Resources for writers - by Toby Heathcotte

Oxford American Dictionary and Thesaurus - Modern Language Association style sheet
The Elements of Style by William Strunk
Rules for Writer by Diana Hacker – Cambridge Language of Style
Self-Editing For Fiction Writers: How to edit yourself into print by Renni Browne and Dave King.
Stein on Writing by Sol Stein
The First Five Pages: A writer’s guide to staying out of the rejection pile by Noah Lukeman.
Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript, Edition 2 by Cynthia Laufenberg and the editors of Writer’s Digest Books
The Writer’s Digest Writing Clinic by Joe Feiertag and Mary Cupito

Publishing – nonfiction publishing – Arizona Book Publishers Association – a guide for Print on Demand - information on self-publishing

Libraries – free books Internet public library

Legal - articles on copyright and other writing-related law to Literary Works and follow the directions.


How to Write Attention-Grabbing Query & Cover Letters by John Wood
How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen
The Marshall Plan for Getting Your Novel Published by Evan Marshall
   - books and articles on writing – good technique books - Writer’s Digest books on writing

Marketing - one week subscriptions online – also in libraries – local website host for independent authors accepts self-published books on consignment. – places to sell your writing –  (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America)
– warnings about literary fraud and other schemes, scams, and pitfalls that target writers  – links to other writers’ groups, associations, magazines, media, publishers, services for writers, bookstores, events

Toby Heathcotte, President
Arizona Authors Association