Saturday, March 18, 2023

Best in the Whole Wide World, by Nattalia Nealls

Today I’d like to introduce Nattalia Nealls, author of the newly released epic Western saga, Best in the Whole Wide World. 


Aaron: Nattalia, can you tell us what historic anniversary inspired you to write Best in the Whole Wide World?


Nattalia: July, 2005 was the 200th anniversary of Lewis and Clark’s triumphant return from the Pacific Ocean to their native American guide Sacajawea’s home village on the Salmon River as they made their way back to the nation's capitol to report about their "Voyage of Discovery" to President Thomas Jefferson. 


Aaron: How did this pique your interest? 


Nattalia: Two hundred years after Lewis and Clark had long since departed, the town of Salmon, Idaho was teeming with “re-en-actors” dressed in clothing perfect in every detail, representing

the events and the ambiance of that historic passage, while I was sitting in an auction barn witnessing the sights and sounds of ranch country interspersed with glimpses of that historic occasion. I knew then what is meant by the expression, “Déjà vu”. Everything that was whirling around me impacted my senses and stirred my imagination. And very soon, I was to be a witness to the auction scene which introduces the two main characters in my novel, Best in the Whole Wide World. I watched as that back-and-forth exchange took place. I bid on that Heiser saddle myself as I watched the two individuals near me partner up to win it. I took my own purchases home – a couple of pottery crocks and a set of dining chairs from the old Scoble ranch – thinking about what I’d witnessed. 


Aaron: How did this inspire you to write Best in the Whole Wide World?


Nattalia: That auction kept going around and around inside my head until I simply sat down and wrote about everything I’d seen that day. I began to think about what I’d witnessed between the two people who had partnered up to win that Heiser saddle. Who were they? What had become of them? These two interesting people soon became fully fleshed out characters with lives of their own. They spoke to me and I took dictation. I continued to write about them, throwing in background materials from my own experience, stories I knew from summers spent in the Idaho wilderness, details observed, conversations overheard, anything and everything that simply fell onto the page about how these two people were living their lives, and about how life in general is lived here in the ranch country of the Central Rocky Mountains of Idaho.


Aaron: Best in the Whole Wide World evolved into three complete novels, called The Rocky Mountain Trilogy. Do you have a website where readers can check out the new releases? 




Aaron: Thank you for joining us today, Nattalia. We hope to have you back when book two, Noble Souls, hits the shelves!




Aaron:  Here’s a synopsis of book 1. 


When Tracy Goodwin takes a leave of absence to run rivers and hike trails in the Rocky Mountains, she doesn't expect to meet saddle maker James C. James. A widower and devoted father, James dotes on his children and steadfastly manages his ranches in Idaho's Lemhi Valley. Now, for the first time in three years, he is drawn to a woman who electrifies his spirit - this copper-haired woman who runs hot and cold.

Tracy doesn't know why she alternately attracts and rebuffs this rugged, honest, handsome man, but when her own plans fail to satisfy, she accepts his offer to accompany him on horseback into the mountains, where the power of her experience and the majesty of the rugged landscape renew her spirit.

Unable to accept the chaos of her emotions, Tracy returns to the predictable life she left behind in California, until she receives a poignant call asking for her help.


About the Author


Nattalia Nealls believes in Love, History and the Mystery that Moves in All Things. She lives and writes in a tiny house on the banks of a large river in the Central Rocky Mountains of Idaho.




Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Bobish: A brilliant and evocative poetic story by Magdalena Ball

Bobish by Magdalena Ball, reviewed by Aaron Paul Lazar


It has been a long time since a book has profoundly impacted me and lingered in my soul for weeks on end. Occasionally--in the past--I’ve been compelled to reread passages or savor sentences because of their intense beauty. Some of these have belonged to novels by Dean Koontz, who has a magical way with words when he allows himself to wax poetic. But I’ve never read a poem or novel that made me repeatedly recite “word-pearls” like those populating Bobish, a poetic story. 


Magdalena Ball has accomplished this with great tenderness and brilliance. I can’t stop thinking about the book.


Based on facts and careful interpretation of Ms. Ball’s Jewish grandmother’s journey from Eastern Europe’s Pale of Settlement in 1907 to America, the snippets about Bobish’s life are poignant and deeply moving. The construction is pure poetry, no pun intended. 


Take a look at this segment which refers to Bobish’s journey and arrival in New York City:


From “Small Woman with a Big Bag” 

She didn’t choose so much
as let the motion of time take her. 

Not for herself, but for her children not yet conceived
who were already pulling her forward by the handles of her valise 

a suitcase full of dirt and longing.

“A suitcase full of dirt and longing” – isn’t that perfectly evocative of a young immigrant hoping for life-as-advertised in America?

This woman is drawn between memories of her sweet homeland (albeit extraordinarily dangerous with an impending invasion) and the free world she now inhabits in New York. The streets are not paved with gold and she must work her fingers to the bone to survive. Yet the sweet recollections of her past haunt and comfort her at the same time. 

Bobish married for love but sadly ended up the victim of domestic abuse. These passages broke my heart.

“Silence and Monkeys” by Magdalena Ball

She was not musical 

kept quiet
to avoid setting off 

the bear inside him 

he hated dirty floors. 

If she kept the house clean if she didn’t blink too hard if she didn’t hum 

beneath her breath 

she would make it
to tomorrow 

though there was always an urge to let go and scream 

break every chipped dish the monkey box chattering and whining 

across the surface of her skull 

let me out let me out 

when she was trying
so hard to be still.

In spite of the hardships she endured, there were sweet moments in this brave woman’s life as well. See this excerpt from “Nickel Empire.” It made me crave summer and hotdogs. 

From “Nickel Empire” 

no, here was pure sound, the children’s pockets jangling with nickels home-made swimmers 

a basket full of food walking across the promenade the boardwalk, the sound of the Atlantic Ocean 

lapping indifferent to the growing crowds, hotdogs
red hots, ice cream dripping down the arm, sprinkles 

Another memory of Coney Island follows:

From “Low Chroma (Coney Island, 1946)” 

Eyelids down, body on damp rock there is no day or night, only rotation this close
ultraviolet might be visible
as to a hummingbird
fired in a harlequin kiln
against hillside moss

I read these last three lines over and over again. The imagery is just magnificent.

And who can’t imagine this beautiful scene? I must admit I’m partial to blue flax, green dragonflies, and orange butterflies.

From “Yennevelt” 

not just to another mythical place where her art could bloom 

tiny blue flax flowers with green dragonflies and bright orange butterflies 

In the heartbreaking end to the story, we learn of Bobish’s fate. She grows closer to her childhood nirvana, and thoughts turn to nature.

From “Subject to Dispersal”

there were bees on the Primulas sweet scent like orange lollies 

the smell continues to linger 

even as it dissolves into a past she can barely access 

Orange lollipops, like orange popsicles, are one of the best and most evocative of childhood memories. How can one not taste that flavor on their tongue?


Magdalena Ball has created a magnificent work which I know I’ll go back to reread soon. Thank you for such a well-crafted book. 


Highly recommended by Aaron Paul Lazar, USA Today Bestselling Author.

Wednesday, February 02, 2022

Introducing Heidi Skarie and Call of the Wind

Hello, book lovers. 

I've always been addicted to writing. It was (and is) my cheap therapy. For years I wrote mysteries—and more—that provided wonderful virtual adventures in my challenging life. Many of you know about these various traumas, from my posts over the past years. Guess what? We survived and/or learned to deal with all of it. In the meantime, I published twenty-nine books in the background. 

When the pandemic started, I lost my "day" job and needed to find another way to keep the family going. I decided to capitalize on my absolute passion for helping other authors with their books. So I added "writing coach" to my resume and now am pleased to announce that I have a number of superb clients I help with polishing, formatting, and getting them ready to publish on Amazon KDP. 

This month, Heidi Skarie has published a book in her Star Rider series, Call of the Wind. I'm so proud of her. You can read a bit about the story as well as learn about her in the following interview. Let us know what you think in the comments, below. 

Stay safe and warm this February. 

All my best,

Aaron Paul Lazar

Meet Heidi Skarie and Call of the Wind

What inspired you to become a writer and eventually write Call of the Wind?


I had a series of six dreams that was like watching an exciting space opera, sci-fi movie such as Star Wars. Each dream continued where the last one had left off. The story had such a great plot and interesting characters that I was inspired to turn it into a novel. After writing the first book, it was as if I’d turned on a faucet to a creative waterfall. The next novels flowed out as I continued to write about the same characters. Writing became my passion. The first three books center around a strong female protagonist who is an undercover operative during an interplanetary war. This book is about her son who continues in his mother’s footsteps and becomes an intergalactic fighter pilot. Call of the Wind can be read and enjoyed as a standalone novel since it focuses on new characters.


What do you think your readers will love about Call of the Wind?


It’s a powerful coming-of-age story of a young man told in the story-within-a-story structure. Baymond is a young fighter pilot sentenced to be executed in five days. While awaiting his death, he shares his life story with a fellow prisoner. The novel has brave heroes and heroines, exciting adventures, a tender love story, and space battles. But as one reviewer said, “It’s also a compelling vision of the enlightened who can transcend the confines of time and space, even death.”


What is your writing process?


I write the first draft without getting any feedback that would interfere with my vision of the novel. Depending on the complexity of the plot I may use storyboards, character sketches and detailed outlines. Then I work with a critique group and go through each chapter until it shines. Next, several beta readers read the entire novel and give feedback. Last, I hire an editor and go through it again.


What other books have you written?


I’ve published four books in the Star Rider series, a science fiction, space opera set in a futuristic world during an interplanetary war. Star Rider on the Razor’s Edge is the first in the series. Call of the Wind is about the next generation.

I’ve also written two historical novels. Red Willow’s Quest about a Native American woman studying to become a medicine woman. Annoure and the Dragon Ships about a young woman kidnapped off the coast of England by the Vikings.


What are you currently working on?


I’m in the final edits of Call of the Eagle, which continues the story of Baymond and Fawn as the interplanetary war escalates.


Your book is so unique in that it is full of spiritual references to "Soul" and "Inner Light" and so many more wonderful themes involving a greater being and His teachings. Are these references fictional? Or were you inspired by another part of your life to include these in the stories? 


The original idea for the Star Rider series came from a dream about a female undercover operative, Toemeka, who works for the Coalition of Free Nations. She’s sent on a mission to help an occupied country regain their freedom during an interplanetary war against world conqueror, Samrat Condor. What makes the story unique is that Toemeka is a spiritually awakened person. She is able to communicate with her friends telepathically, leave her physical body and travel into higher levels of existence, and remember some of her past lives. 


The novels were influenced by my own spiritual beliefs. I’m a member of ECKANKAR, the Path of Spiritual Freedom and believe that we are Soul, a part of God. I believe that when we die we, as Soul, leave this body and go into the higher worlds, what some religions refer to as the heavenly worlds. We don’t stay there according to the teachings of ECKANKAR, but return to earth many times for Soul’s education. Eventually we awaken spiritually and live in the higher worlds of God permanently.


In the series, Toemeka follows the Secret Teachings of Light and Sound. The Light and Sound are essential aspects of the ECKANKAR teachings. It’s the voice of God. In the novels Toemeka sings HU, an ancient love song to God, to attune herself to the presence of God. She follows a living master who is the leader of the Secret Teachings. This is also drawn from ECKANKAR that has a living spiritual leader, Sri Harold Klemp, who keeps the teachings pure. 


Toemeka’s spiritual training is an important element in the story because Samrat Condor,  is a powerful black magician who portrays himself as a god. Toemeka uses her spiritual training to see a higher truth and fight his spread of evil psychic powers. The series is the struggle between good and evil, the light and the dark forces.


The Call of the Wind is about Toemeka’s son, Baymond, who follows in his mother’s footsteps and joins the Coalition as a fighter pilot. He is also a student of the Secret Teachings. Toemeka is a minor character, but still plays an important role in this novel.


Your books are full of luscious natural settings and descriptions. They are most artistic. Do you enjoy creating on any other level? Are you fond of the outdoors? 


Before I became a writer I was a visual artist. My mother encouraged my art abilities because learning to read was hard for me and she wanted me to excel in something. I started college as an art major, but switched to getting a teaching degree, specializing in helping children learn to read. I studied pottery, painting, drawing, etching and engraving, and photography. I continued painting and doing photography after college. 


The visual arts teach us to look at the world differently. When I gaze at the fresh snow outside my window, I don’t see white snow with gray shadows. I see the sun reflecting golden light on the snow and the light blue shadows infused with violet. When I’m writing, I drew on my background as a painter and photographer to create vivid descriptions that can transport the reader so they can see the scene and feel like they are there.


I also love nature and have enjoyed backpacking in the Rocky Mountains and the Bitterroot Mountains. I’ve also gone canoeing in the wilderness Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota. My own experiences of enjoying the beauty of the woods and mountains, cooking over a fire, dealing with bugs and encounters with wild animals—like bears—has also helped me to write more vivid descriptions and write more authentically. 


For example, once I was walking along on a narrow wilderness trail in the Rocky Mountains when I came face to face with a large moose coming straight toward me. There was a moment where we both looked at each other in surprise. Then he slipped into the woods before I could move. I was fortunate as moose can be ornery—my father was once chased by one. I drew on that experience as I wrote Call of the Wind. My characters sing and wear bells on their backpacks so they don’t startled wild animals.


Did you enjoy reading science fiction as a youth? What was your favorite genre?


When I was a child my parents read me fantasy books by George MacDonald such as Back of the North Wind and Princess and the Goblin. They also read me classics like Heidi by Johanna Spyri, which takes place in the mountains of Switzerland. In sixth grade I discovered the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, and Gone with the Wind. I also liked Mary Stewart’s mysteries Nine Coaches Waiting and later her Arthurian Saga. Another favorite was The Once and Future Kingby T. H. White. These novels opened the doors to the enjoyment of a good story with wonderful characters that take place in the interesting worlds.


My interest in science fiction came later. In the fifties and sixties science fiction was just gaining popularity with nuclear energy and space exploration. Ideas of space, dystopia, robots, computers, and alternate futures became of interest after World War II. The genre was just getting going. I didn’t really get into science fiction until Star Wars came out and sci-fi space operas novels became popular.


Thank you so much for your time, Heidi!

Friday, January 21, 2022

Murder by 4: Lost Shots

Murder by 4: Lost Shots:   How long will it take before we can burn images stored in our brain onto a computer? Do you think it will ever come to pass? I hop...

Murder by 4: For Writers: Updating Your Backlist - Add Some Piz...

Murder by 4: For Writers: Updating Your Backlist - Add Some Piz...: by Aaron Paul Lazar, January 2022   So, how do you know when you’ve written enough books? Is it when your muse holds up her hands and says, ...

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

How Covid Affected this Writer

Hello, dear friends and book lovers!

I've been conspicuously absent from... everywhere... this year. If you've missed me, you can read about my life, losses, and books here.


Aaron Paul Lazar

USA Today Bestselling Author
          "If Mark Twain and Mary Higgins Clark got married, their author-child would be Aaron Paul Lazar.” 
- Joan Hall Hovey, best-selling author
I hope you have all emerged from the past year with your health intact and your hearts full of appreciation for what pleasures lie ahead. Please let me know how you're doing by replying to this email - I miss our chats!
After giving up so much over the past fifteen months - some lost loved ones to the dreaded disease, suffered in hospitals themselves, and everyone sacrificed freedom and family, things are somewhat settling down, and every little opportunity seems like a gift, doesn't it?
My "day" job ended last December (thank you, Covid!), and for several months we suffered untold uncertainty about our future - where we'd live, how we'd survive, etc. But after lots of research and finagling finances, we found a way to stay in our beloved home. Dale and I weren't able to see two of our three girls and five of our seven grandchildren since Christmas of 2019. Since this past May, each time we reconnect with one of them we feel incredibly blessed. We're still waiting to see Melanie and Luke (5) from New Hampshire, but are looking forward to a visit this summer. ;o)
Blatant request: I am offering editing services now for fiction, technical, or engineering content. I will help you write your dreamed of novel, get it formatted and published, and put you in touch with cover artists. Or, I can help your engineering firm write reports, specifications, procedures, etc. in straightforward, easy-to-understand formats. If you know anyone who is hiring for part time, remote work, give me a heads up! (Thanks!)
In spite of the tragic losses of 2019/2020, there were a number of good things that happened. Being isolated with someone you've loved since you were a teenager is a very good thing. Aside from not seeing family and friends, we actually didn't mind hanging out at home one bit. (okay, so we missed eating out, but that was a small price to pay for being safe.) We focused on fixing up our home, cooking fun and healthy meals, obsessively organizing closets, and playing tons of board games with Chris (7) and Joey(5) who fortunately still live with us. They provided such comic relief all year and kept us very busy! I also found a passion in re-purposing old stuff, like our 30-year-old outdoor metal table and chairs. Spray paint in multiple colors is so much fun! ;o) (see the spiderwebs I left on our white iron bench before spraying, below.)
Oddly enough, I didn't write a thing.
I know, crazy, right? After 29 books, I lost my urge to write and simply focused on other things (like becoming OCD over organizing, as I said above! You should see my tool closet!! LOL.) I suspect the writing bug will return, but I'm not worried about it.
As you read this, Pete Milan is recording the audiobook for The Return (book 13 in the LeGarde Mystery series) and it promises to be stellar!
Right now, I'm filling the future well of creativity by collecting all the sights, scents, tastes of today. I've been drowning in glorious colors in my gardens, already harvesting veggies galore (squash, peas, beets, greens, basil, etc), and have been manically weeding and mulching. I do love it, and it's good exercise. You'll find an assortment of all kinds of photos inserted in here, from flowers to veggies to book covers. What can I say? It's just who I am. ;o)
I hope you were able to enjoy your July 4th weekend. Our Independence Day holiday was suffused with sadness. On July 3rd we had to put our beloved Balto to sleep. He was the best family dog ever, and is the model for Gus's new puppy  Siegfried gave him in the last chapter in Murder on the Brewster Flats. He had lost almost all of his faculties at the age of fifteen, and it was time. But he had a wonderful life and provided us with untold joy. Little Amber, his lifelong pal, is confused and lonely. We're giving her extra special love and treats. You may have noticed many of my books are dedicated to "Balto and Amber." It's so hard losing your furry friends, isn't it?
I love sharing my books with readers, and as I've said over the years, the best part of being a writer is connecting with people. I've given tens of thousands of my books away, but now the Lazar coffers are low and I need to try to sell some actual copies, lol. I hope you've enjoyed them, and perhaps you'd like to discover or rediscover some more?
Today I'm going to give you links to all five series, and hope you can find something you love for your summer reading fun. ;o)

Please let me know how you're doing! And if you'd like, I'd love to hear which of the series and/or books are your favorites. I might be coming back to ask you for more ideas, because after 29 stories where almost everything possible happens to my characters, I'm looking for inspiration! ;o)
By the way, my email address hasn't worked in forever. I'm just using for now. I've tried half a dozen times to get to fix it, but it never works, ugh!
So if you want to connect, please email me at or ;o)
Take good care! If you haven't been vaccinated, please seriously consider it. And as I always say, take pleasure in the little things!

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning, bestselling Kindle author of many mystery and suspense series, love stories, and writing guides, Aaron 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 and watch for his upcoming releases.


“Addictive, award-winning fiction.”

Friday, August 14, 2020


Hot off the press - a new boxed set with Devil's Lake (#1), Devil's Creek (#2), and Devil's Spring (#3).  
You can save several dollars with this combined set of the first three books in the series. Book 1 is free for now anyway, but books two and three cost $3.99 normally. With this set, you get all three together for $5.99. What a deal! ;o)
Devil's Lake: Two years ago, Portia Lamont disappeared from a small town in Vermont, devastating her parents and sister, who spent every waking hour searching for her. When she suddenly shows up on their horse farm in a stolen truck with a little mutt on her lap, they want to know what happened. Was she taken? Or did she run away?
Devil's Creek: Grace may have problems, but Anderson Rockwell loves his sassy, spicy, and slightly unfaithful wife. A recovered heroin addict who’s now struggling with sex addiction, Grace tries her best to control her inner demons. She’s relapsing less often, and when she does, she always calls. Until this time.
Time is running out for Anderson to rescue Grace from danger that’s beyond imagination, before the past drowns them both for good. Because this time, it’s personal.
Devil's Spring: Grace’s homecoming takes a horrific turn when her daughter and nephew are abducted, sending the family on a frantic search. Several states away, Lollie Belvedere had no idea her adopted children would turn out to be kidnapping victims. But something in her snaps when she’s forced to return the babies—now she’ll do whatever it takes to get them back.
Happy Reading!
Aaron Paul Lazar

Friday, August 07, 2020

August 2020 Newsletter