WARRIOR WOMEN part 3 – 16th Century to today – by Vijaya Schartz

Amina, Warrior Queen of Zaria (1588-1589)
Amina was queen in a part of Nigeria now known as Zaria, where women could inherit the throne on an even keel with men. Many city states dominated trans-Saharan trade after the collapse of the Songhai Empire to the west. At the age of sixteen, Amina became the heir apparent. Although her mother’s reign was known for peace and prosperity, Amina immersed herself in military skills from the women warriors of her tribe.

Three months after her ascent to the throne, Amina started her conquests to expand her domain and open safe trade routes. She remained a warrior queen for 34 years until her death.

India during the Raj (British occupation): Velu Nachiyar (1730–1796 AD)
Queen of Sivaganga from 1780 to 1790, Velu Nachiyar was the first female freedom fighter against the British. Also known as Veeramangai (brave woman), she was trained in martial arts, horse riding and archery. She was also fluent in French, English and Urdu. 

After her husband was killed by the British army, she took refuge with Haider Ali, the Sultan of Mysore, then she launched her attack. When her daughter was martyred in the fight against the British, the queen formed a women’s army and named it after her daughter. Her fearlessness and gallantry on the battlefield are still remembered today.

Nakano Takeko, last female Samurai of Japan
The last Samurai warrior woman, Nakano Takeko, was recorded in the 19th century. During the Battle of Aizu, she led a corps of female Samurai against the Emperor’s forces. She fought with a naginata, the traditional weapon of choice for Japanese women warriors.

Takeko was leading a charge against the imperial troops when she took a bullet to the chest. Knowing she would die, the 21-year-old warrior ordered her sister Yuko to cut off her head and hide it from the enemy. Yuko did as asked, and Nakano Takeko’s head was buried under a tree.

The struggle of 20th Century women to be accepted in the military.
I remember when I was a teenager, learning that the Israeli military accepted women in their ranks. Not wearing skirts and typing reports in an office, but in combat gear on the front lines. I was fascinated.

Since then, after much hesitancy concerning the battlefield, the US military is training women for combat. They are now fighter pilots, foot soldiers, Marines, and much more.

But this is a phenomenon happening around the world. We see battalions of fighting Amazons in Russia, women soldiers in Africa, in India, in the middle east. The women have risen and are taking control of their own lives, to defend their freedom, their rights, their land, or their family.

If you like strong heroines with a warrior slant, check out my books. In my novels, they are bounty hunters, law-enforcement officers, Avenging Angels, soldiers, starship captains, Amazons, and warrior queens. They are often in charge, and playing an important role in their society. Sometimes, they rescue the hero, and they are definitely his equal.
I especially recommend these to lift your warrior spirits. Book 1, Angel Mine is 99cts in kindle, Book 2, Angel Fierce, is an award-winner, and Book 3, Angel Brave, is coming in October.

There is a planet out in the universe, emitting a strange turquoise glow. A long time ago Azura refused to join the Trade Alliance. The Alliance sent their military fleet to destroy the Azurans, but their powerful supernatural abilities spread fear even among the fiercest Devil Dogs. Since then, records have been erased. Rumors and legends all but died. Azura is strictly forbidden, and the daring few who venture beyond the warning space beacons are never seen again…

Happy Reading

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats
http://www.vijayaschartz.com
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Warrior Women of the Dark and Middle Ages – by Vijaya Schartz

Queen Boadicea or Boudicca of Roman Britain

Early on, Boudicca was publicly flogged by the Roman occupants for claiming her father’s crown and lands, and treated like a slave despite her rank. Then she was forced to watch the rape and torture of her two daughters, who were about 12 years old.

An ancient historian tells us that this Celtic queen of the Iceni “possessed greater intelligence than often belongs to women.” She is represented with waist-length, flaming red hair, wearing a gold torque and colorful clothing.
With a piercing gaze and a harsh voice, she rallied the Celtic tribes into an army of 100,000 and killed 80,000 Roman soldiers with superior armament. With her daughters, she led the charge on her light chariot, carrying flaming torches, like raging Furies.

Decimated at first, the Romans eventually received more reinforcements, the Celts lost and were exterminated. Boudicca, who survived the last battle, escaped, only to kill herself with poisonous hemlock. She refused to be paraded in Rome as a vanquished enemy.

Norse mythology – Valkyries and shieldmaidens

Norse legends speak of Valkyries, heavenly shieldmaidens, who flew over the battlefield and collected the souls of brave warriors slain in battle. So, for a long time, history assumed the stories of Viking Warrior Women to be legend as well.

A Viking grave from the tenth Century in Birka revealed weapons, gaming equipment, and two horses. Assumed to be that of a powerful Viking warrior, the skeleton suggested the person was female. Recently, a DNA analysis confirmed the powerful warrior was indeed a woman.

In truth, the Vikings counted many shieldmaidens in their ranks. Many were mentioned throughout history. Now, we know they were real.

One of the most famous Viking warrior women is Lagertha, wife of Ragnar, portrayed prominently in the History Channel series Vikings.

Japan’s Samurai women
Since the 12th century, many women of the Samurai class learned how to handle the sword and the naginata primarily to defend themselves and their homes. In the event that their castle was overrun by enemy warriors, the women were expected to fight to the end and die with honor, weapons in hand.

The Onna Bugeisha were female Samurai trained to protect entire villages and communities, not only the family property. If a Samurai had no son, he reserved the right to train his daughters as full-time onna bugeisha.

Rather than sitting at home waiting for the fight to come to them, some young women with exceptional fighting skills rode out to war with the men. They behaved like Samurai. They had the strength to fight with two swords. They could enlist in the army of a daimyo and fight side by side with male Samurai. They wore the attire and the hairstyles commonly worn by the men of the army.

An example of such an onna-bugeisha is Tomoe Gozen. Of course, like many warrior women of her time, official history labeled her more of a legend than a real person. But nowadays, we know better…

Joan of Arc – Medieval Warrior maiden – 1412-1431

As France was losing at home against the English during the 100-year war, this teenage peasant girl, a maiden, managed to convince the heir to the throne of France to give her control of his flailing armies. Among the chaos of war, she secured and attended his coronation.

As a keen strategist, Joan of Arc won many battles for the king of France. She didn’t hesitate to reprimand prestigious knights for swearing, behaving indecently, skipping Mass, or dismissing her battle plans. Personal attacks by the English, who called her rude names and joked that she should return home to her cows, upset her greatly.

Joan of Arc wore weapons and armor and brandished a standard as she led her men to battle. But it is said she never killed anyone. She was wounded at least twice, taking an arrow to the shoulder during her famed Orléans campaign and a crossbow bolt to the thigh during her failed attempt to liberate Paris.

Betrayed and delivered to the English, she was imprisoned. After she made a solemn promise never to wear men’s clothes again, they stole her woman’s clothes, forcing her to dress like a man. With the complicity of a French Bishop, they condemned her for that crime. They also condemned her for cutting her hair like a man, hearing voices, and being convinced she was following the will of God. She was burned at the stake in Rouen in 1431. She was 19 years old.
In my writings, I like to portray warrior women. Here is my medieval maiden in the Celtic legends Curse of the Lost Isle series. Damsel of the Hawk is a standalone in the series. Find it on Amazon HERE Find it at BWL Publishing HERE

1204 AD – Meliora, the legendary damsel of Hawk Castle, grants gold and wishes on Mount Ararat, but must forever remain chaste. When Spartak, a Kipchak warrior gravely wounded in Constantinople, requests sanctuary, she breaks the rule to save his life. The fierce, warrior prince stirs in her forbidden passions. Captivated, Spartak will not bow to superstition. Despite tribal opposition, he wants her as his queen. Should Meliora renounce true love, or embrace it and trigger the sinister curse… and the wrath of the Goddess? Meanwhile, a thwarted knight and his greedy band of Crusaders have vowed to steal her Pagan gold and burn her at the stake…
Happy Reading

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats
http://www.vijayaschartz.com
amazon – B&N – Smashwords – Kobo – FB 

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Warrior Women of the Ancient World

Ahhotep : Military Leader and Egyptian Pharaoh

Ahhotep’s burial equipment included a dagger and an inscribed ceremonial axe blade made of copper, gold, electrum and wood. The decorations were characteristically Minoan. Also found were three golden flies, badges of bravery awarded to people who served in the army.
Fu Hao: China’s First Female General:

One of the earliest records of female warriors in China comes from oracle bones found in a tomb. The bones told the forgotten story of a ruthless military general of the Shang Dynasty in 1200 BC. The warrior was Fu Hao, queen consort of King Wu Ding, high priestess, and military leader. She defended the Shang dynasty in several battles. 

At the time of her death, she was the first female Chinese soldier to be buried with the highest military honors.

Artemisia I Of Caria: Commander of Ancient Halicarnassus

According to Herodotus, Artemisia of Halicarnassus was a Greek queen in the 5th century BC, long before Alexander the Great. Artemisia wielded power during a time when Greek women couldn’t vote in Athens, the home of original democracy. She is described as a femme fatale, pirate queen, and played a role in the events of the 300 Spartans described in the movies. During the Greco-Persian wars, she fought for the Persians at Salamis and contributed her warships to the Persian Navy.

Zenobia, warrior queen of the Roman colony of Palmyra, in present-day Syria, from 267 or 268 to 272.

She was described as a conqueror. In 269-270, Zenobia and her general, Zabdeas, conquered Egypt, ruled by the Romans. When the Roman prefect of Egypt objected to Zenobia’s takeover, Zenobia had him beheaded. Then she sent a declaration to the citizens of Alexandria, calling it “my ancestral city,” claiming her Egyptian ancestry. Zenobia personally led her army as a “warrior queen.” She conquered more territory, including Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine, creating an empire independent of Rome. After winning and ruling these Roman provinces, she was subjugated by Emperor Aurelian. She died in captivity sometime after 274.
The Amazons:

The Amazons were not the stuff of legends.

Long believed to be purely imaginary, the Amazons were the warrior women described as the archenemies of the ancient Greeks. Recently, the remains of 300 warrior women were found in more than 1,000 excavations of Scythian kurgans (burial mounds), from Ukraine to Central Asia. This spectacular discovery gives credit to the myth of the amazon warriors.

They were reported in the Greek writings of Herodotus as women the Greeks encountered on their expeditions around the Black Sea. They rode horses, hunted, fought, used bows and arrows, just like men. They were fierce, nomadic, and refused to remain sedentary. They lived without men, whom they only frequented for procreation. They kept the baby girls but when the boys reached the age of five, they returned them to their fathers.

Other writings relate similar stories of Amazons by travelers from ancient Persia, Egypt, and as far as China.
Warrior women of Ancient Japan:

For thousands of years, certain upper-class Japanese women have learned martial skills and participated in battles right alongside the male warriors. They were skilled with sword, spear, and bow.

These include the legendary Empress Jingu, (169-269 A.D.) She ruled as a regent following her husband’s death in 200 AD. After seeking revenge on the people who murdered her husband, she invaded the Korean peninsula, the ancestral land of her mother, who was a descendant of a legendary Korean prince.

Empress Jingū became the first woman to be featured on a Japanese banknote however, since no actual images of this legendary figure are known to exist, the representation of Jingū was artistically contrived from the photograph of a 19th Century Japanese woman.
I write about all kinds of warrior women in my novels. But if you like ancient warrior women, you may want to check out these, available in eBook and paperback on my links below.

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats
http://www.vijayaschartz.com
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Who were the Paladin knights of Charlemagne – by Vijaya Schartz

When Charlemagne ascended to the Frankish throne in 968AD, he designated twelve Paladins to help him rule the Frankish Kingdom. They were highly trained noblemen, expert swordsmen and fierce warriors. They, took a solemn oath of fealty and swore to abide by Christian rules. Some say they were the first chivalric Christian Knights. Others argue they were Charlemagne’s henchmen, extortioners and executioners… which, in these violent and troubled times might be closer to the truth.

Ending the Dark Ages, Charlemagne united Europe in the name of Christianity, against invaders from the north (Vikings) and the Saracens in Spain. He beat medieval Europe into submission and imposed strict Christian rule. He established schools, promoted education, the copy of illuminated religious manuscripts, art, architecture, and he also maintained a formidable army.

On the battlefield, after a victory, Charlemagne gathered the surviving enemy soldiers, made them kneel, and gave them a choice. Convert to Christianity and join his army, or be beheaded on the spot. Of course, many converted, giving the new faith lip service only. Better be a live Christian than a dead Pagan, right?

Still, a number of vanquished soldiers chose death over conversion. Pagan roots ran much deeper than Christianity in many places.

The Celts, in particular, gave Charlemagne a difficult time. Especially the small kingdom of Brittany (French Bretagne) a bed of Celtic culture and legends, the birth place of Merlin, the place where legends of Vivian the Fae, Morgan the Fae, Pressine the Fae, Palatina the Fae, Meliora the Fae, and Melusine the Fae, still flourish, among other myths.
To deal with these pesky Celts, Charlemagne nominated his trusted nephew, the Paladin Roland, to administrate the Marshes of Brittany on the western frontier.

Roland is still famous in France and throughout Europe. This is his statue in Metz, France, not on a church or historical building, but at the train station.
The story of Roland:

Roland, and Olivier, his childhood friend, swore fealty together as Paladins of Charlemagne. Roland is poetically associated with his sword Durandal, his horse Veillantif, and his oliphant horn.
The Song of Roland written much later, lists the twelve paladins as Roland, Olivier, Gérin, and Gérier (killed by the Saracen, Grandonie), Bérengier, Otton, Samson, Engelier, Ivon, Ivoire, Anséis, and Archbishop Turpin …

There is also mention of Fierabras (meaning proud with strong arms), a converted Saracen knight who seems to have served as the basis for the legend of Percival, of King Arthur’s legends. Yes, medieval romantic tales often tend to ignore chronology as well as historical facts and dates… unless you consider reincarnation or immortality.

While returning from fighting the Saracens in Spain, Roland, closing the long column through the pass of Roncevaux in the Pyrenees, was ambushed by the Basques. He sounded his oliphant horn, calling for help. But his conniving uncle at the head of the march pretended not to hear the oliphant and refused to turn back to help. Grossly outnumbered, Roland and his company fought bravely. Roland, at the end, broke his faithful sword, Durandal, on a boulder, so it wouldn’t fall into heathen hands. Roland and his company were killed to the last, in Roncevaux in 778AD.

On Christmas day in 800AD, in Rome, Charlemagne was crowned Roman Emperor of Occident by Pope Leo III. The great emperor died in 814AD. 

But his Paladin knights still fascinate modern youth and keep gathering fame in children’s books and videogames.

If you enjoy reading the heroic myths and legends of the time, I recommend The Curse of the Lost Isle series, based on the Celtic legends of Brittany. The first two books are set in Scotland during the Viking invasions. Then the story of this family of immortal ladies spreads to Luxembourg, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and the middle East during the Crusades.

Princess of Bretagne, Curse of the Lost Isle, book 1Currently $1.49 in kindle. Also available in paperbackFind it at your favorite online store HERE

“Well-written and researched, Vijaya Schartz’s “Princess of Bretagne’ is a joy to read. Although it is a fantasy, Ms. Schartz deftly weaves in historical aspects and customs of those times. One overriding theme is the clash between paganism and early Christianity during the Dark Ages…. a worthwhile and entertaining read.” 5 stars review.
Happy Reading.

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats
http://www.vijayaschartz.com
amazon – B&N – Smashwords – Kobo – FB 

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French influence in the English language – by Vijaya Schartz

According to Merriam Webster, there are over 7,000 French words today in the English language. The pronunciation and spelling might differ slightly, but they are plainly recognizable. 

So many familiar words in the English language are French, like: attache, avant-garde, aviation, bachelor, ballet, bon voyage, brunette, bureau, cabaret, chauffeur, chic, cliché, cul-de-sac, debris, deja-vu, delegate, detour, dossier, elite, expatriate, façade, fiancé, film noir, gallery, gazette, heritage, homage, hotel, identity, illusion, insult, irony, liaison, literature, machine, magnificent, massage, metabolism, neutral, novel, occasion, parasol, recipient, reservoir, ricochet, rich, ridicule, risqué, sabotage, sentiment, silhouette, solicitor, souvenir, technique, uniform, variety, etc. to name a few. 

Since the French and the British were enemies for centuries, why did so many French words make it into English? We all learned in school that the Normans, Vikings who had settled in Normandy, led by William the Conqueror, conquered England in 1066, by winning the battle of Hastings. 

After their victory, these French speaking Normans established a new nobility in England, and used French as the official language of the English court. And for two centuries, all legal and official English court documents were written in French. The Norman nobles took control of the lands by marrying into former English nobility. In time, the two languages and the two cultures melded. 

During the Crusades, Richard Lionheart battled in France, to reclaim French territories previously owned by the Normans. This conflict about territory between the English and the French led to the 100-year war (1337-1453) during which English soldiers lived and battled in France, some of them for most of their lives. 

For these reasons, many medieval English words were derived from the French, and French words and expressions survived a thousand years into the English language. Words like chivalry, majesty, archer, assault, court, dungeon, enemy, felony, honor, injury, judge, justice, liberty, noble, prison, parliament, quarter, royal, robe, sir, survive, tournament, treason, uncle, among many others, are French words brought by the Normans.

As for the modern French words in the English language, many come from cooking terms. Rather than making up an English word, it’s easier to use the original French word and Anglicize it. So, in a “restaurant” on the “Menu” you can have your potatoes “sauteed,” with a “soup” and a “roux,” eat an “omelet” a “salad” or “escargots” which are the most common variety of snails. But snails sound slimy, while “escargots” sound like a culinary delight. 
A “cuisine,” in French, refers to a kitchen. By extension it also means what you cook in it. “Four,” for a French person has nothing to do with numbers. It’s just a baking oven. 

When I first came to America, my husband asked me if I wanted my pie “a la mode.” When I asked him what it meant, he looked flabbergasted that I didn’t understand his French. You see, “a la mode” only means “in fashion,” which is nonspecific and doesn’t relate to pie, or, as I quickly discovered, vanilla ice cream. See, the French do not mix pie with ice cream and would consider this a “faux pas.” I quickly corrected my preconceptions in the matter. Since then, I always eat my pie “a la mode.” 

I also wasn’t familiar with French fries, as there is nothing French about them. Fries were invented in Belgium, where half of the population also speaks French. Maybe that’s what created the confusion. But the French simply call fries “frites” or “pommes frites” as potatoes are “pommes de terre,” which translates as apples of the earth. 

Somehow, because the medieval English nobles spoke French, the French word tends to sound more luxurious. A “mansion” a “manor” or a “chateau” sound like places where upper nobility “resides.” That’s probably why Cadillac calls some of their models “deluxe.” French makes it sound more expensive. 

Another French import is the modest “beret.” It was a traditional civilian cap for centuries, favored by the Basques, long before it was adopted by French Special forces in the 20th century. Shortly after, many other countries adopted the beret as military attire. 

Cadet” in French means “second son.” In the old days, to avoid dividing the lands, only the oldest son inherited the charge and the fortune of his father. So, the second son had to find a job, and for noble families, short of buying a bishopric, only a military position would do. It’s interesting to note that the American word has evolved to mean a student in a military or law enforcement academy… that they are no longer second sons, and some cadets are now women. Yay! 

Once in a while, the French word has come to mean something else in the English language, just enough to confuse a native French speaker. “Madame,” for example, is a mark of respect in France. But when you speak of a Madame in the US, it’s usually the woman in charge of a house of ill repute. Same word, very different meaning. 

When I first saw a jar of “Marmite” on the shelf at AJ’s I wondered what it could be. Given that a marmite is simply a cooking pot in French. It didn’t tell me what was in it. After tasting it, I could only assume that it was made of the burned residue in old cooking pots, to give some taste to bland English food. In truth, it’s a condiment made from yeast residue in beer vats. 

Coin” in French means corner. In English it’s loose change. This may come from the fact that coins used to be cut into halves and quarters to make change, which created corners. 

Queue” in French is an animal’s tail. Then it also refers to a waiting line (where impatient dogs would wag their tail). 

Library” is also a French word, but it means bookstore. For a French person, the familiar place that collects thousands of books you can borrow is called a bibliotheque. 

Talking about books, you can find mine everywhere online. Check out my Celtic Legend series, CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE on the links below my signature line.

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats

http://www.vijayaschartz.com

amazon – B&N – Smashwords – Kobo – FB 

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How many books should there be in a series – by Vijaya Schartz

 I wrote many series, some as short as two books (the Archangel twin books), others as long as eight novels (like the CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE, based on Celtic legends). New authors, and sometimes readers, ask me how long a series should be. There is no universal answer to that question. A series, like a book, should be as long as needed to tell the whole story. 

Curse of the Lost Isle series (Celtic Legends

The number of books also depends upon the characters. 
If they are the same characters throughout the series, is each novel a continuation of the previous book? The author cannot hold the reader without resolution indefinitely. That is how some TV series that started strong lost their momentum when the writers dragged the story too long before offering some kind of explanation or resolution. 
On the other hand, if each novel is a complete story, the series can go on much longer. A few authors have successfully published dozens of novels in the same series that way, some were later adapted for TV series, like Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli & Isles. Harry Potter also comes to mind, but as it features children, and children do grow up, that series was limited from the start. As for characters like James Bond, they can probably go forever with many different incarnations as each generation gives it a different twist. 

Ancient Enemy series – scifi romance

Sometimes, each book come with its own set of fresh characters, in the same setting, with a link to the previous and future books. That’s the case for my CHRONICLES OF KASSOUK series, where each book is an independent story with a different hero and heroine. The six novels are set on the same planet, a few centuries apart. For those reading them in the right order, they get to see the evolution of a group of marooned human settlers into a fully grown society, with its particular culture, facing ups and downs, struggling for their independence and for their rights, amid defeats and victories, until the series comes full circle in its unexpected but logical ending. 
My longest series (eight novels) is The CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE, based on Celtic legends. Since my ladies are immortal (related to Morgan the Fay), they reappear in different times in history. The first two books tell the story of Pressine the Fay. In book two, she has three daughters, subsequently featured in the following books. Melusine the Fay has four books, as she appears in different places at different times in history (books 3-4-5-8). Her sisters, Palatina (book 6) and Meliora (Book 7) each have one story to tell, so they only have one novel. 

Another technique is to write shorter series, related to each other. Three books is considered a happy number for a series. Easier to commit to for the reader. Some readers also like to only read series that are complete, as they do not want to wait until next year for the next book. The reader who enjoys a three-book series, will likely pick up the next series set in the same world they enjoyed the first time, like the Star Wars universe. 

This is the case for my BYZANTIUM series and AZURA CHRONICLES, set in the same universe with a few crossover characters. Byzantium is a space station, and Azura is a planet, existing in the same universe at the same time.

 
Most of my series novels are standalones, and the reader can pick up any book and thoroughly enjoy it without missing anything. Then he/she can go back and enjoy the other books as well, even if not read in the chronological order. But if you are like me, you’ll want to read them in the right order to fully appreciate the arc of the bigger story behind the novels. 
On that note the first book in each of my series is currently discounted to $1.49 in kindle on amazon.
Enjoy the discounted reads! amazon

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes
http://www.vijayaschartz.com
amazon – B&N – Smashwords – Kobo – FB 

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Byzantium book 3 – Malaika’s Secret, is out – by Vijaya Schartz

Find it everywhere online, ebook and paperback at: https://books2read.com/Malaikas-Secret

Special Agent Tyler Conrad works security undercover on the Byzantium Space Station and adheres to a strict moral code. When strange beings with wings are murdered, and a dangerous lion wanders the station’s indoor streets, Tyler’s investigation leads him to a mysterious woman, who could make him break all his rules and get them both killed.

Forbidden to love, the beautiful Malaika, guardian of the glowing crystal in the temple of the Formless One, is an illegal mind-reader who hides perilous secrets. She has seen the great evil coming to Byzantium but must hide her extraordinary abilities or perish with her people.

When Admiral Mort Lowell, a hybrid Tenebran nicknamed the Vampire, makes a surprise visit to Byzantium, Tyler knows something wicked is afoot…

fast-paced and exciting read that left me speechless! I will definitely be checking out more of Vijaya’s work in the future.” Amazon reader

“Black Dragon” was the first book I read from this author and let me tell you that I loved it so I just jumped into the second book of the series and now I read “Malaikas’s secret”… Such a good book with great characters that keeps you obsessed with every page since the first one. I had so much fun reading this book. Totally recommended!” 5 stars on Goodreads

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Coping with confinement – by Vijaya Schartz

Stuck at home? Listening to the news with growing anxiety? Dealing with confinement and social distancing, while worrying about your income or losing your 401K, can push our stress to intolerable levels. Here are a few of my stress relieving secrets to do at home. If it helps me keep my sanity, it might work for you as well.

It’s me, front right, with the white shirt. You can do this at home.

Tai-Chi – an exercise you can do alone, at home. It doesn’t require any space and it doesn’t matter if you do it well or not, as long as you keep moving in a slow and constant flow. There are a number of free videos on U-tube. Just follow along as best you can. Apply yourself and you’ll get better as you go. It’s a practice that can help you deal with stress all year long and has a side effect of improving your general health. I practice Tai-Chi Essentials, which is derived from the 37 form, and developed exclusively for health purposes. (Harvard Medical school guide to Tai-Chi) 

Cat videos – When stressed, I find myself watching more and more cute cat videos on Facebook. Join a group like “I love cats” or a group with puppies if you are a dog person, and indulge in soft furry cuteness to free your mind of stressful thoughts and concerns. A good laugh, a chuckle, a few awwwws and your spirit can soar again. 

On TV – Last weekend, Animal Planet held a “Too Cute” marathon, featuring kittens and puppies and ducklings, and other furbabies. It was a big success, and they will probably do it again soon. Another advantage, it will also keep the kids, or grandkids also stuck at home, occupied and happy. 

Watching romantic movies and Christmas movies – Just like romance novels, romantic movies and Christmas movies are the perfect escape. You know in advance all will be okay at the end, so you feel safe sharing the obstacles the characters have to surmount to find their happily ever after. From your DVR, or Netflix or your favorite movie source. Some channels, like Hallmark and Hallmark Mysteries have also started to replay Christmas movies. I love them. 

Sit coms – my favorites are The Big Bang, Two and a half men, The Golden Girls. I always watch an episode or two late at night, before going to bed. It clears my mind for a good night sleep. 

I also like to cuddle with my cat, solve Crossword puzzles, and cook special meals for myself. I live alone, so I cook a batch then freeze individual portions to eat later. 

But the best relaxation device is a good novel or a favorite series. I prefer popular fiction, action, adventure, romance, mystery, fantasy, science fiction. Any story that can get you out of your worries and into a new, exciting world will buy you many hours of pure escape. 

The Curse of the Lost Isle – Celtic Legends series, is available in ebook and paperback HERE

I hope this helps you cope with these stressing times. If you want to check out my other books, visit my website or my page on amazon, B&N or your favorite online bookstore. Here are my latest releases (all are standalone stories with different sets of characters. The series indicates that they are set in the same universe). 

Happy Reading.

Vijaya Schartz, author

Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes

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ANGEL FIERCE

Azura Chronicles, Book 2

award-winning sci-fi romance

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.

“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. It even brings in AI’s and gives them (at least one) a chance to redeem their programming. Action packed from start to finish, it will keep you on the edge of your seat. What’s next for the people of this planet?LOVED IT!” 5 stars on amazon

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American 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, or 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 

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ANGEL FIERCE is a winner – by Vijaya Schartz

AAAaward

 

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

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

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