Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Being a Guest on Radio Shows - How Hard Is It?

Last night I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Magdalena Ball from Australia on her Compulsive Reader Talks 2 radio show.

Maggie is a talented writer, incredible literary figure with exceptional presence in the industry, owner of CompulsiveReader.com, and a super lady with whom to chat. This was my second visit to her program, and probably my 12th show since I started back in 2007.

How hard is it? Should you be nervous? Should you avoid the whole thing?

Face it, everyone's scared at first, unless they've had a ton of experience speaking in front of an audience. But getting live on a show (especially if it has a podcast you can link to later!) is wonderful for book promotion, or any kind of promotion for any product you'd like to share.

I have to admit, last night I didn't do my usual OCD preparation. I was at work all day, got home about an hour before the show, ate dinner, and headed upstairs about twenty minutes beforehand. This casual approach was probably because I know Maggie and realize she's not going to embarrass a guest with off-the-wall questions, and... I've done radio shows quite a bit now. All the prep that came beforehand, stays with you. And there's a point in time when you can truly just accept the call and start chatting.
But in the beginning, here are some tips to help make you comfortable.

1) Practice reading selections from your book in advance. I mean REALLY practice. It might take ten or twenty times until you don't stumble over the words, until you "feel" the emotions of your characters coming through your lips, or until you can paint the scene EXACTLY as you heard it in your head when you first wrote it.
2) Time your readings, and tell your host up front what you have available. ("I'd be happy to read from the book if you want. Chapter 1 is 4 minutes; Chapters 1&2 are seven minutes." etc. Give them the option of including your reading into their program.
3) Ask the interviewer for sample questions. Odds are, they might ask you for a list of questions and your answers in advance to help them get percolating with new ideas or topics.
4) Prepare answers for each of the questions fully. Write them down. Memorize the gist of what you wrote. And PRACTICE saying it out loud, in the car, in your home office, wherever you happen to be. Do this until the words automatically come out of your mouth. Then - work on it so it doesn't sound stilted or unnatural. After all, you still want to be YOU. You just need to be a PREPARED you!
5) Have everything you need handy. Last night I thought I was ready.

  • I had my copy of FireSong ready to go for the reading, opened to chapter six.
  • My reading glasses were handy and cleaned in advance.
  • The light was good. I checked it and practiced reading a few times
  • I turned on the fan and moved it to the far side of the room so I wouldn't cook with all the windows closed (to keep out traffic or dog barking sounds) but not close enough to make a whirring noise in the background.
  • I had my laptop opened with its sound muted to a synopsis of FireSong and all of my other books in case she asked me, "What's that one about?"
  • I had a bottle of water nearby, but not close enough to spill on my laptop. ;o)
  • Tissues. Just in case I sobbed like a baby when I read the sad part. (just kidding!)
  • Cell phone for back up, in case the phone lines didn't work, with the sound muted.
Well, I had a few moments of panic. For some reason, when Maggie called, the phone rang, but I couldn't hear her! I almost panicked, and tried dialing the line with my cell, and got a message that "this line isn't available," or some such nonsense. Of course, it worked fine all day.

I send her an email, telling her I was there. She responded, "Can't get through!" And so on.

So, after a little bit of frustration, we lost our slot on blogtalk radio, but Maggie figured out how to record our conversation using Skype, and loaded it up to a new podcast site later in the evening. Brilliant woman. But anyway, I digress...

I also almost panicked when she asked about all the new books coming out. Of course I should have opened up the schedule with all six books, their dates, and their brief synopses. But in the moment, I couldn't find it, of course. So I just went off memory and tried to describe the books as well as I could off the cuff.

Phew. So you see, even with the most experienced speaker, stuff can go wrong.

The key is not to let it throw you, try to go with the flow, and just be yourself.

What happens afterwards?

When it's all done, when you're sure you were a blathering idiot (I always think that, and Maggie says it's pretty common to feel that way), you can relax and breathe again. Drink some water, take some deep breaths, but before you do anything else, send a thank you email to your host. It's just common courtesy.

Now comes the promotion part!

You want to take advantage of your appearance on the show by spreading the word around about it, so your friends can hear you and maybe pass it on to their family and friends.

Here's what you do:

1) After the show is loaded and available as a podcast (where you can simply give someone a link and they press a play button to hear you), listen to it yourself. Make sure you WEREN'T a blathering idiot! IF you feel okay about your answers, then bookmark the page and save the web address.

2) Decide where you want to share it. Here's what I'm doing.
  • Writing a Gather.com article and then hitting the facebook and twitter buttons.
  • Posting it on my personal blog (www.aaronlazar.blogspot.com) and my collaborative blog (www.murderby4.blogspot.com)
  • Sending the link to my publisher. (she already included it in a newsletter to all our authors at Twilight Times Books)
  • Inserting a link to it in my Lazar Newsletter that will come out in a few days (if you want to subscribe, just let me know.)
  • Adding links to the show to my website(s), right up top where they'll be noticed.
  • Sending emails to friends and family with the link, and asking them if they'll pass it around.
  • Scheduling a tweet per day for the next week using Twuffer.com.
  • Whatever else comes into my head in the meantime.
So, there you have it.

Have you considered doing an interview on the radio? Do you have that book finished, published, and are ready to promote it? Give it a shot! And if you have any questions, feel free to ask them below.

Good luck!

Remember, if you love to write, write like the wind!

Aaron Paul Lazar


Twilight Times Books by Kindle bestselling author Aaron Lazar:

DOUBLE FORTE' (new release 2012)
MAZURKA (2009)



WINNER 2011 Eric Hoffer BEST Book, COMMERCIAL FICTION * GRAND PRIZE FINALIST Eric Hoffer Book Award 2011 * Preditors & Editors Readers Choice Award – 2nd place 2011* Winner of Carolyn Howard Johnsons’ 9th Annual Noble (Not Nobel!) Prize for Literature 2011 *  Finalist Allbooks Editors Choice Awards 2011 * Preditors&Editors Top 10 Finalist  *   Yolanda Renee's Top Ten Books 2008   *  MYSHELF Top Ten Reads 2008  * Writers' Digest Top 101 Website Award 2009 & 2010


"Gus LeGarde Monday" - Win free books!
Thanks so much to Elana Kahn, who runs a wonderful "giveaway" blog called The Twinners. Elana loves to read. She's a young mom with a cute little baby girl, and is a very nice person to boot! She's reading the whole LeGardeMystery series right now, and has posted a very nice review of my first book, Double Forté.
You can win a copy of this and every other LeGarde book (plus my first Moore Mysteries book, Healey's Cave) by following her simple instructions here.
It's so gratifying when someone "discovers" your books. She's even featuring a new Gus LeGarde book every Monday, and calling it "Gus LeGarde Day!" Neat, huh?
Thanks, Elana.
If you have time, please stop over and say hi. ;o)
Warmest regards to all,
Aaron Lazar

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Book Review for A PLACE TO DIE by Dorothy James

Hello, all.
I "met" Dorothy James not long ago through Kindle. This was a random, yet fortunate encounter. Because I adore Vienna, I couldn't help buying her book set in that gorgeous locale. Here's a review for her literary mystery, A PLACE TO DIE: an Inspector Georg Buechner Mystery.

Warmest regards and remember to write like the wind!

Aaron Paul Lazar
Title:  A Place to Die
Author: Dorothy James
Publisher: Xlibris Corporation (April 21, 2010)
Genre: Mystery, 436 pages
ISBN-10: 1450082696
ISBN-13: 978-1450082709
Price: Kindle eBook: $7.69; Paperback: $18.71; Hardcover: $34.95
Publisher website address: http://www.viennamysteries.com/
Author’s personal website: http://myplaceformystery.com

A PLACE TO DIE is an intriguing story set in Austria, reminiscent of a good English mystery. I just finished reading it last night, and am already missing the characters. At first I was attracted to the book because it was set in Wien (Vienna) - I adore Wien. But then as I "visited" with these folks night after night (reading a little in bed each night), I grew terribly fond of them.

I was particularly rooting for American Eleanor Fabian, a woman of great depth who deserved much more in life than her annoying husband provided. I'm passionate about marriage and devotion in real life, I believe that once married one is duty-bound to stay married and devoted to each other, unless there's something truly awful going on. But Dorothy James convinced me otherwise with Eleanor.

I enjoyed getting to know the other characters in the Haus Im Wald, too. Each was colorful, deliciously unique, and memorable. Inspector Georg Buchner is a fun lead, likeable as well as clever.

Ms. James' vivid scene painting placed me smack dab in the middle of winter in Austria, and I felt as if I knew the Haus intimately by the end of the book. (I also craved Kaffee und Kuchen many times during the characters' dining events!)

As people start dropping dead in the Haus im Wald, the tension builds. But never did Ms. James relinquish her literary approach to the situation, providing a steady source of introspection balanced with action and character development.

The ending is most satisfying - a delightful and unexpected villain is revealed - and some of the sexual twists and innuendos were most surprising and added a bit of spice to the story as well.

Ms. James writes smoothly, with no annoying typos or needs for extra editing which seems to be more and more prevalent these days when books are converted to Kindle format. This book was beautifully formatted and of very high caliber.

I recommend this complex, highbrow-yet-addicting story, and look forward to future works by Dorothy James.


Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. The author of LeGarde Mysteries, Moore Mysteries, and Tall Pines Mysteries enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website at www.legardemysteries.com and watch for his upcoming Twilight Times Books releases, TERROR COMES KNOCKING (2011), FOR KEEPS (2012), FOR THE BIRDS(2011), ESSENTIALLY YOURS (2012), DON’T LET THE WIND CATCH YOU (2012), and the author’s preferred edition of DOUBLE FORTÉ (2012).

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Author:  Joan Hall Hovey
Publisher: BWLPP
Genre: Suspense, 258 pages
Price: Kindle eBook: $2.99  Print Book: $10.79
Publisher website address: http://bwlpp.com/mysteries.php
Author’s personal website: http://www.joanhallhovey.com

Caroline Hill, a fragile woman who’s seen more than her share of heartbreak, has just been released into the “real” world by the Bayshore Mental Institution, an aging facility recently doomed to closure. Trembling with fear after nine years of incarceration, at the age of twenty-six Caroline is armed only with a handful of memorized phrases from her psychiatrist and a small bag of hand-me-down clothing. She shows up as pre-arranged to a rooming house with a nosy landlady and her marginally challenged nephew, Harold. Once settled, Caroline makes her entrance at Frank’s, a local diner in the small town of St. Simeon, Canada where a dishwashing job awaits her.

Although the Bayshore institution offered safety and familiarity, Caroline is determined not to fail. The last thing she wants is to return to the place where she shared a room with a woman who clicked imaginary knitting needles 24/7.

Caroline’s timing is unfortunate, because the day she arrives in town, a serial killer has left yet another victim for police. And it so happens, the first victim—an aspiring actress on the verge of a breakthrough—lived across the hall from Caroline’s new room. Police and neighbors wonder – could the killer be someone in the rooming house? How did he gain access to the facility? How did he know the first woman? And the second? Both victims were pretty young ladies with brunette hair and blue eyes, Caroline’s exact appearance.

The mystery and suspense in this novel is outstanding, truly top notch, in the vein of Mary Higgins Clark, but—dare I say—even better? What really struck me as brilliant was Ms. Hovey’s ability to paint the picture of an innocent, a woman who’d been raised by an institutional staff since the age of seventeen, when a horrendous event tore her heart out and separated her from reality. Caroline’s inner thoughts, her hesitant and sometimes awkward speech, the turmoil she feels with each simple step toward freedom, her frail courage…each of these felt real and authentic. I grew incredibly fond of this protagonist, and with each brave step she took, I found myself cheering her on.

When Caroline notices a man following her, she wants to tell someone, but what ex-mental patient wouldn’t be afraid to share this news, knowing they’d probably classify her as paranoid and maybe send her back to Bayshore? She squares her shoulders and fights through the fear, soldiering on.

Against the backdrop of Caroline’s painful yet courageous re-entry into society, the low growling drumbeat of violence escalates. More women die, and the pattern heats up. We are given glimpses inside the mind of a seriously sick killer, and realize his delusions stretch far into his past. When Caroline becomes embroiled in the middle of the killer’s elaborate and insane plot to return to a chapter in his history where he was once happy, the action escalates and takes us on a heart-pounding rollercoaster ride to a satisfying finish.

Joan Hall Hovey has written yet another winner. I highly recommend it to any lover of suspense, mystery, romance, or thriller. You’ll not only race through this book, but clamor for more works by this talented and polished author.