Friday, December 31, 2010

 copyright 2011 Aaron Paul Lazar

While we celebrate and ring in the new year, I'd like to thank each and every one of you for your support here on Murder by 4 and everywhere we happen to run into each other.

I often tell folks that my favorite part of being an author is connecting with my readers. It's the truth. I love you guys. And I'm humbled that my stories seem to inspire, comfort, thrill, or entertain. Armchair traveling can be a great escape, and let's face it, we all need a break sometimes, right?

I take great pleasure in the fact that you relate to Gus LeGarde, to Siegfried Marggrander, to Camille, and now to Sam and Rachel Moore. And for the first time in a long time, I might actually have one book of each series to give you in 2011, plus a few more books in my NEW series.

Yep. Another one. I know it's nuts, but I couldn't help myself. Having that laid-off year off between "day jobs" gave me the chance to get reacquainted with the Adirondacks, and to fall in love all over again with the majesty and beauty of the region. It was just natural that a new series based on the Sacandaga River, in Hope, NY, would be born. There are already two books under contract and scheduled for release in 2011/2012 in the new series featuring Marcella and Quinn Hollister, antique dealers from Honeoye, NY, whose lives spin out of control when secrets from the past catch up with them.

Up Next

The next book on the docket is FIRESONG, the novel that brings Gus LeGarde back to East Goodland to face some of the most tangled and baffling mysteries of his life.

The cover is done and I'm working on the final polish. Fingers crossed that we'll have it out in print soon.

Honors for Healey's Cave

"To Aaron Paul Lazar for Healey’s Cave. A mystery has never made my Nobel list before but this one deserves the description “literary mystery.” It’s been called “lush,” “lyrical,” and “absorbing.” It is a fine example of how genre fiction can cross the line from entertaining to fine art."                                                                                      - Carolyn Howard Johnson


I don't enter many writing contests. I know, I know. I probably should. But all these extranneous things I do for promotion or awards take away from writing time, and it kills me. I need to write. I need time with the characters in my parallel universe(s). So I avoid the stuff other than pure writing more than I should.

This year, though, at some prodding from my publisher, I sent out HEALEY'S CAVE to a few places. It seems they liked it. ;o) The book made it to the top two finalists for the Allbooks Editor's Choice Awards Mystery category. The winner will be announced in January.

I'm pleased to say award-winning Carolyn Howard Johnson also seemed to like the book, and picked it for one of her top choices for her Back to Literature column 2010 on the site.

Thanks to Allbooks and Carolyn Howard Johnson for these honors.

Coming Soon - the second Moore Mystery

The next Moore Mystery has been titled. It's called TERROR COMES KNOCKING  and was named by a great friend and supporter of my books. Thanks to Don Harman, from Charlotte, North Carolina, for suggesting the title. TERROR COMES KNOCKING puts Sam and Rachel Moore through more heartstopping trials. The green marble is back, Billy hasn't gone off to visit the angels yet, and daughter Beth goes missing. It should be out in 2011, as long as I continue to make good progress on the final polish. You can read an excerpt from it soon. Stay tuned to the website devoted to Sam and Rachel, at

Introducing Tall Pines Mysteries

Two new mysteries are due in print in 2011/2012 - FOR THE BIRDS and ESSENTIALLY YOURS. These mysteries are set in the gorgeous Adirondack Mountains, and have just a touch of the paranormal entwined in the plots. They're full of humor, nature, terror, and I've been told they're a little bit sexy. For the first time in my life, I'm telling a story from a woman's POV! Hey, I figured it would make me a better writer.  And it's good to get inside a woman's mind once in a while. Or so my wife tells me.

Stay tuned for more about this new contemporary series. I think you'll like it!

Call for Beta Readers

Got time? Like to read? Have an eagle eye?

Does it drive you nuts when you spot an error in a finished book?

Me, too. But it's nearly impossible for me to catch all my own errors without the help of my Beta Readers. My brain just integrates the words into what they're supposed to say, and I miss mistakes all the time. Plus there are those little inconsistencies that drive me insane. Like when I left the duct tape on Billy Moore's mouth in one scene, and he started talking in the next. Or like the time I called Sam "Gus" in Healey's Cave. Gheesh.

I could use some help. I'm looking for the average reader who can breeze through my books in efile format, find the occasional typo or inconsistency, and get the manuscript back to me within a month or so. In return, you'll get your name in the acknowledgements and a free copy when it comes out.

Interested? Email me so we can see if you fit the profile!

New Q&A - Ask the Author!

Ever wonder where writers get their ideas? Where I came up with Siegfried? Why he's German? How I seemed to know a bit about Paris or Vienna? How my grandkids model the children for my series? How big my real gardens are?

Now you can find out! Just email me at Next issue, I'll pick a few questions to answer in this newsletter. Maybe it will be yours!

Since it's the season of giving...

I meant to make a special offer on books before the holiday season flew by. But I guess I had a pretty good excuse for not getting to it sooner - my eldest daughter just tied the knot with our new son-in-law, Geoffrey Hall on the night before Thanksgiving. That weekend, daughter Melanie accepted a proposal from new fiance' Jay Carbonneau, and shortly thereafter, Allison said yes to her honey, Jason Wolfanger. Life has been hopping!

So, in celebration of my three daughters finding their soulmates and agreeing to a lifetime together, I'd like to offer a book deal I've never done before.

BUY ONE BOOK, get the next FREE.

That goes for DOUBLE FORTE', UPSTAGED, TREMOLO, MAZURKA, AND HEALEY'S CAVE. This is a one time deal that I don't intend to repeat any time soon. So if you have Christmas money that's burning a hole in your pockets, or want to get started collected birthday gifts for family while the price is hot, email me and we'll get this done!

Happy New Year!

email: aaron dot lazar at yahoo dot com

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas on a Shoestring Budget


Here we are, just a few weeks from Christmas. I've just returned home from a five day business trip in freezing cold Kentucky and Virginia. Although I had envisioned balmy temps in the 40s, it wasn't so bad. I'm a cold-hearty Northerner, and my friends call me Nanuk of the North 'cause I walk outside no matter how frigid it is. The southern field mice actually decided it was too cold to live outdoors while I was there, however, and one of them greeted me in a hotel bathtub. Quite a sight! It was actually twenty degrees colder down south than it was in Rochester, New York on Tuesday. While it was a good trip from a business point of view, and I did finish the edits on my second Tall Pines mystery in the "down" time, I lost a whole week getting ready for Christmas.

The day after I arrived home, my wife's two brothers called to say they'd be arriving a day early for their four day visit. I love seeing them, and I'm glad they came early to avoid a storm that's been forecast, but I wasn't ready for them, either! I hadn't cleaned, shopped, or planned the menus. 

My son-in-law saved the day by doing the cleaning. Phew. So, off I went to Aldi's, Walmart, and Wegmans (I shop the cheapest place first, then move to my favorite more expensive store last for the real gourmet goodies. I LOVE Wegmans!) to buy stuff for my cooking adventures. 

One of the dishes I made was Sonia Martinez's Fricase de Pollo Estilo Cubano (Cuban Style Chicken Fricase - actually very easy - a one pot meal) with a side salad inspired by travels last week. I chopped cooked beets mixed with a balsamic glaze, set on a bed of finely chopped fennel. Mmm. A new favorite. And now as I write this, I'm kicking myself for not taking a picture of it. Anyway, here's the main dish, and if you want a copy of the recipe, just let me know. Sonia shared this and others on Gather a few years ago (her mother's recipe!) and my family has enjoyed it often.

So while I've been virtually busy as a bumbling bee, I don't have any presents ready, no Christmas lights up, and haven't done Christmas cards for the zillionth year in a row. I did manage to buy a teensy little tree while shopping at Wegmans the other day - a small Austrian pine that we can plant next spring when it's warmer. It's still not decorated. Sigh.

My family decided that this year, since the economy's so bad and we're all pretty darned broke, we'd do handmade gifts all around. Actually, it was little Gordie's idea - he is such a sweetheart. Only seven, he realizes the importance of putting thought into gifts. We all jumped at the idea. Okay, I'll admit finding the time to do it is tough, but the benefits are huge.
So, in the spirit of Kim Smith's article on great gift ideas for writers, here are some ideas that writers and or other creative types might like to consider making for their loved ones. All you need is a printer, some paper, and plenty of ink!

A Family Recipe Book 
 We're creating custom books for each of our three daughters. Thankfully, I don't think they read my blogs, so hopefully they'll be surprised! 

I think everyone has the blogging blues, like Marta mentioned this week. In her article, she referenced always giving something back when you blog, so I thought I'd share this with you.

Here's what my wife and I are doing - we've collected up all of the family favorites, whether they be written on old frayed recipe cards or scraps of paper. We scanned them, including some from the girls' great grandmothers. My wife has written special notes to each child on some of the printouts, referring to memories she has about the traditions that went with the food. I've thankfully taken lots of pictures of our tables laden with goodies over the years, so I'm mixing and matching these with the recipes. 
The neat thing is you can write little stories or poems for each occasion, if you wish, using your creative side while creating an heirloom that your children will hopefully cherish and add to over the years. 

Here's a sample page. Some are just plain old black and white copies - they're not all this fancy. But it's the recipes that matter, right?
After printing out each recipe, I'm putting them in transparent sleeves and storing them in colorful binders with extra sleeves at the end so they can add to them over the years.

Here are a few more ideas for your creative spirits:

For my grandsons, I'm making special books as well. Julian is getting a "story of my life" picture book, where I'll use the same concept as above. Print out photos from his baby years and up, and write little stories beside them telling about our history together. 

Gordie is enamored with Spanish this year. So he's getting a "Spanish" book. I'll print out pictures of various objects with the English and Spanish words above and below. He's just barely reading English now (he's only 7) but he really loves this stuff, so he should be thrilled. 

Here are some more cool ideas:

Homemade Story Books

When you're sitting around with your kids or grandkids and making up stories (come on, I know you do!), type them up either on the fly or later in the day. Keep them in a file all year long, then at Christmas, print them out with some cool graphics or hand drawn designs. 

Special Letters

Buy some of that cool purplish blue construction paper and a silver flair pen. Write Christmas messages to each of your loved ones, mentioning a special event or memory you share. Tell them how much you love them and why you love them. They'll cherish this forever!


If you are totally broke - this one is a big hit with kids. At least in my house, where we have four kids to five adults. They're always clamoring for special "one-on-one" time with the adults. Hand print "coupons" where you pledge special time to cash in later - for example: "one half hour of playing in the snow," or "a special trip to the library, just you and me." Give each child a dozen or so coupons that they can cash in later. But remember - unless you're in the middle of dinner or driving them to school or something, don't refuse them if it's not convenient for you. You must drop everything and give the gift when they ask!
I think this is the best present of all, and it doesn't have to be just for children. You can set aside some special time for your honey - offer them a back rub or foot rub, a special winter picnic, or something that will warm their hearts. After all, the gift of your time is far more precious than spending a ton of money on STUFF. Who really needs more things, anyway? All of those material gifts go by the wayside in a year or two. Well, unless your giving expensive jewelry or something like that. (not my style, LOL) But a handmade gift that is laced with your love and special thoughts will be saved and treasured forever. 

So stop the frantic shopping, get out of those blasted malls, come home armed with a few crafty things, and sit before the fire with a cup of hot chocolate so you can create something beautiful for your loved ones!

A very merry Christmas and holiday wishes to all!

Aaron Paul Lazar

P.S. If you're not crafty and you just can't think of anything to make, and you want to contribute to my paper and ink fund, then buy your family wholesome, heart thumping mysteries. Books are great gifts! Here's the link to LeGarde Mysteries - just follow the left pane down the page and you'll see them all! If you want copies autographed, email me at aaron dot lazar at yahoo dot com and we'll get it done in time for Christmas!