Saturday, September 30, 2006

Hi everyone,

Just a note to let you know how it all went. Dale's surgery started at 4:30 (only one hour late!) and ended at 5:45 - precisely what the doctor predicted. Dr. Jeffrey Jones was excellent all round - we would highly recommend him for hand surgery. He screwed in a t- shaped titanium plate along her wrist and arm and said it went perfectly. They ended up giving her general anaesthesia because they couldn't isolate a good vein for the local block. All her fingers are working and she has good sensation in them as well.

I coudn't see her until 8:30 last night (they don't let you go into the recovery room) - I was stuck waiting in the main lobby until then. But luckily they found a private room for her and let me stay with her in another hospital bed. I was glad I could be there for her - everything takes SO long in a hospital. "We'll bring your meds soon," means "In two hours!" Everything took two hours. No wonder they need more nurses out there!

They were all very nice. Dale slept with the help of the pain killers, but I slept only about three hours. They came in the room to check her every hour or so, which was good. All signs were good, and we finally were released by noon and headed home to crash.

Her arm looks awful - it's black and blue all the way up her arm and her fingers are purple, too. The worst part right now is the pain, but she has pills to take which should help ease it for the next few days.

Funny how I feel like I've been through the ringer and all I did was wait and watch. She was a real trooper, though. An amazing woman. You can see my sweetie pie above. But it's all good now and we're just glad it's over.

Talk to you soon,


Monday, September 25, 2006

It's been an interesting weekend. Aside from another trauma at the ER, everything went according to plan. Sort of.

I guess I've become used to these events. Yesterday, when my daughter screamed into the house shouting, "Mom fell! Help me!" I hardly felt the usual jolt of adrenaline surge into my blood. Calmly, I asked, "Where is she?" and then proceeding to ask my twenty-one year old daughter why she left her outdoors.

"I heard the bone snap!" she sobbed.

I looked into her eyes and realized that this was one of her worst nightmares. Before she'd dragged my wife outside for a walk, prodded and encouraged by me, she'd asked, "What if she falls?"

I'd shrugged it off. "Don't worry about it. She'll be fine. Just go slowly." We'd decided that in spite of the multiple sclerosis that it was time to add a mild exercise routine into her day. With high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, it seemed essential to try. Besides, I want my sweetie around when I retire in fourteen years. I didn't want to think back and regret not urging her to pursue a healthier lifestyle.

Two years ago she fell, dislocated and broke both shoulders, and had surgery on one. That was a tough one. Oh yeah. Some day maybe you'll read about it in One Potato, Blue Potato, the second book in my Sam Moore paranormal mystery series. ;o)

An operation is looming, full of words like "very bad break," and "pins to hold it together," and ... well, you know the routine. We're greatful that this time it's a bit easier. Only one arm to worry about.

I'm stopping the guilt right here, though. There's enough going on. I don't need to blame myself, do I? It was an accident, pure and simple. Right?


I was kind of proud of how I didn't lose it this time. You know, the gut-clenching worry that consumes all else? Instead, I read to her from her James Patterson book while we waited. And waited. And waited. Found about a dozen examples of words that are not in favor in the writing forums these days. Like "suddenly," and tags that stand out like, "he barked," "she choked," etc. Four paragraphs in a row starting with the same name. Just like my friend Val always says when she discovers hot new writers who use all the forbidden words and excel in spite of it, it's all a matter of balance. And James Patterson can do whatever the hell he wants to do. His readers don't give a darn!

When they set her wrist in a cast (temporary measure), I took the laptop into the waiting room and began to feverishly plan the next LeGarde book. I'd just sent off my current project (The Green Marble) to my publisher for consideration (her request) and was at the "inbetween stage." You writers know what I mean. One project is finished, ten others clamor for attention.

"Should I go back and tear into one of the older books? Or should I... dare I... start a new one?" The creative thrill afforded by writing new stuff is too alluring. I find it hard to say no to myself. So, instead of another edit (I just got through doing that for the past two months), I'm on to a new book. Dear Siegfried is finally going to find love - but only after some nerve-wracking and dangerous challenges are thrown his way. (evil chuckle here.)

What do you writers do between projects? Do you need time to recharge, or do you dive right into the next one? Does it last a day? A week? Months? Do you keep notes about books you're dying to write like I do? Tell me about your processes.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

More Bubbles... couldn't resist!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

After spending a delightful weekend on Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate NY, I'm trying to get caught up!

I'm in the final phases of polishing The Green Marble: A Sam Moore paranormal mystery to send to Lida Quillen at Twilight Times Books. I added a few new chapters to the end and am currenlty purging forbidden words. LOL!

Also, I just submitted Mazurka through my agent, Joan West, to Archebooks Publishing. Has anyone experience with them? I've heard good things about them and enjoyed the interview with owner Robert E. Gelinas in the Voice in the Dark ezine last month. They seem like a top notch small press.

I went crazy this weekend with my newly discovered macro mode on my camera, (I know, I should have read the manual when I bought the camera a few years ago, but I'm a GUY!). Thought you might like to see a few of my favorite shots.



Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Oak Ridge Drive Book Club, Sept. 8, 2006

What a lovely evening we had! Great wine, lots of laughs, and connecting with readers. That's what it's all about!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Who’s that Knocking?

by Aaron Paul Lazar

Living in an antique home has its problems, especially when you’re not a handyman. My father taught me all sorts of wonderful things when he was alive, including passion for the arts, gardening, nature, gourmet cooking, and a good mystery. He didn’t know much about mechanical, plumbing, electric, or woodworking skills. Though I’ve tried to learn over the years with self-help books and advice from friends, I remain singularly unhandy, perpetually bowing with an unholy need to the whims of the local plumber and electrician.

Take, for example, the twenty-six windows that are crumbling as we speak. The six by nine inch panes are coming loose from their wooden mullions with alarming frequency. Or the floorboards in the bedroom, a lovely old yellow pine, that poke up like teepees when it’s hot and muggy. Yeah, they need to be treated with poly something-or-other, but for now, the moisture makes them swell. Consider the two wells that sometimes work in concert – except for the hundred times a year I have to run down to the cobwebbed cellar and reset the breakers or tap on the pump to make it work. The disadvantages are many.

But there are also great benefits, such as the three working fireplaces. Or the soil that surrounds the property, rich and black, untouched by bulldozers. It’s not like the hard packed fill they put in the new housing tracts. I don’t need to “amend” this soil. I just need to keep up with the produce and flowers.

Most intriguing of all, however, is the rich history.

Our house was built in 1811 by Dr. David Hunt.

Okay, so compared to the homes in Europe, it’s just an infant. But in terms of our country and its young age, it’s amazing. Think about it. This house was built and lived in more than fifty years before the civil war!

Imagine the births, deaths, dramas, romances, and heartaches that occurred within these rooms. Did the inhabitants suffer from small pox? Starvation? Were they affluent? How many horses or cows did they own? And… how many ghosts linger in these plaster and lathe walls?

Let’s examine the past 100 years. According to an elderly neighbor, over seven people have died on Hunts Corners. Traffic accidents. Drivers not stopping for the all-way stop signs, or sliding on ice, or drunk drivers plowing right into the telephone pole. Sad to think about. Makes you wonder about their spirits. Did they ascend to Heaven? Or do a few guilty souls remain in the area, confused and wandering, seeking the path to redemption?

Recently, I began to ponder another death disclosed to me by a young neighbor friend. We began to correspond after he read a few of my books. He’s a bright and entertaining young fellow who happens to be a voracious reader. We clicked. And we chat back and forth about books and life and sometimes… about the history of our area.

It seems Hunts Corners has a mystery all its own, stemming from the early 1900s. As the story goes, my young neighbor’s great grandmother noticed something odd one day. (I’ll invent names to “protect the innocent!”) While going about her daily duties, Mabel realized she hadn’t seen the young girl who lived next door in a long time. Anna no longer attended school, and rarely made an appearance outside the home. When she did, Mabel noticed a thickening in her middle, well-wrapped by heavy garments. She suspected the girl was with child. In that era, a pregnancy out of wedlock was unthinkable. Shameful. A sin. The family would endure public humiliation if news got out. So Anna was sequestered for nine long months as Mabel watched the child grow in her belly.

When the time came for the baby to be born, there was no activity in the house. No child was seen. No doctor arrived. All was quiet.

Speculation grew. Was the child stillborn? Or worse, was she murdered by a family cloaked in shame? Rumors were that the little baby was buried behind Anna’s house.
Since then, there have been reports of children pointing behind the house, exclaiming about the “little girl in the weeds.” The adults couldn’t see her.

But I think I might have, last winter.

I rose early to photograph our Christmas lights. They were unusually festive last year, better than all past years. We’d added a few lighted deer for fun, and I was bound and determined to capture the beauty in the blackest of night. It was a clear, chill morning. Five A.M. Not a breeze stirred. Most households were fast asleep. Few cars passed by.

I brought my trusty Canon Powershot outdoors and shot dozens of photos. Later, when I viewed them on my PC, I saw the ghost. There she was – looking straight at me with wide open eyes. Filmy, transparent, but with a clear face and body. Only two shots revealed her, although I took dozens that morning.

The photos are untouched, straight from the camera card. And yes, I know there’s probably a scientific explanation. Maybe the light from the flash illuminated ice crystals in the air, causing a momentary illusion. But I’d like to ignore that for now and just consider it a visit from my friendly little ghost.

Last night I woke to a tapping sound. Usually it’s Max, on his chair, scratching an itch and thumping up against the armrest. I rose to check, but he lay still, mouth open, breathing evenly.

Could it be my grandson knocking on the door? I looked. No one was there. All was quiet, no little boys or cats were hoping to gain entrance.

I went back to bed. The tapping resumed. Looking out the window, I noticed headlights flashing by, briefly illuminating the darkness. Was that a flash of white? A face? Or simply the reflection on wet streets?

The tapping resumed. Outside my window. On the second floor.

Could it be?

I buried my head beneath the covers and said my prayers.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Savor the Moment: inspiration for writers

by Aaron Paul Lazar
August 31, 2006

It’s the last day of August. Autumn has already stretched tentative tendrils toward us, cooling the evenings and drenching the morning with heavy dew. Today, as I rounded the top of a hill overlooking the valley, my breath caught in my throat. Before me lay the snaking path of the Genesee River, previously hidden from casual view behind fields and woods. Nebulous clouds of fog hovered above, revealing the river route that quietly meanders out of sight most of the year.

My soul exploded with a sensation of splendor best described by the Japanese philosophy, wabi sabi*. This was a wabi sabi moment – a fraction of time linking nature and man, steeped in intense sensual beauty…so full of wonder it transports you to a moment of spiritual enlightenment.

In addition to the vapor-bound river, the countryside was punctuated with farmers’ ponds, exposed via banks of fog steaming overhead. Normally hidden by tall fields of grass or corn, the wisps of moisture called attention to the quiet shallows, home to frogs and watering holes for livestock.

Stunned by the beauty, invigorated beyond belief, I continued on the drive that I’d taken thousands of times before. Heading north on River Road, whispers of “Thank you, God,” floated in my brain. Still and amorphous, the words vibrated in syncopation with stirring grasses.

Once again, nature presented a feast so lovely I choked with emotion. There, to the east, clusters of wheat waved in the sunlight with heavy heads bowed under the weight of soaking dew, their curvatures swan-like as they moved in glistening silence.

The ephemeral nature of this phenomenon is part of the allure. That precise moment of intense immersion, that amazing connection with nature, will never repeat. The suns rays may not hit the grass with exactly the same angle or intensity. The grass will change tomorrow, perhaps drier, taller, or shorn. This transient moment of staggering beauty must be absorbed and cherished.

What path do writers take to experience this? How do they open the channels in the brain that might have been content to listen to Haydn’s 19th Symphony in C Major, but blind to nature’s offerings? (this was playing on the radio when I delighted in these visions today.)

First of all, one must be a “visualist.” That isn’t a real word, but it describes what I mean. A person who is stunned by physical natural beauty (certainly not at the exclusion of aural, tactile, or emotional stimulate) possesses visual aqueducts to the world through his or her eyes. Infinitesimal flashes of stunning images move him beyond belief. These impressions are captured in his mind’s eye, never to be lost, forever to be savored. And often, when this type of writer is creating, they see the “movie in their mind,” pressing from within, allowing readers to feel intimate and involved in a scene.

What type of a reader are you? Do you soak up scenes written by others? Imagine them for days on end? Find choice gems of passages that affect you for life? Do you want your readers to feel this way about your own prose?

It is this deeply felt appreciation for nature, for life, for wonder, that promotes a good writer to potential majesty. Perhaps not to best-seller status – that illusory fate is in the hands of a publishing industry often not tuned into art, but focused solely on profit. Try to ignore that aspect when you are creating your next masterpiece. In time, if the stars are aligned and you achieve this pinnacle of greatness, it may happen.

Open your eyes. Reel it in. Absorb the beauty around you, whether it is the flash of love in an old woman’s eye, or the fragile petal of a tiny orange cinquefoil. Allow yourself to be in that moment, record it in your soul, and play it back for your readers for the ultimate connection.

You can do it. Just try. And send me what you’ve written. I’d love to see it!

* Wabi Sabi for Writers, by Richard Powell, Adams Media.