Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hi, folks!

I thought I'd share a review I just wrote for Maggie Ball's debut novel, Sleep Before Evening, an important read with deep insight into the human condition.

Talk to you soon,


Title: Sleep Before Evening
Author: Magdalena Ball
Publisher: BeWrite Books
Publisher's Address: 32 Bryn Road South, Wigan, Lancashire, WNA 8QR
ISBN number: 978-1-905202-97-4
Price: $17.99
Publisher phone number and/or website address: http://www.bewrite.net/

Sleep Before Evening
by Magdalena Ball
Review by Aaron Paul Lazar
Author of the
LeGarde Mystery Series

Life isn’t perfect, but seventeen-year-old Marianne Cotton is blessed with a loving and devoted grandfather who carefully schools her in piano, the arts, and literature. An “A” student, Marianne basks in his attention while eclipsing memories of her deadbeat dad. Lily Cotton, Marianne’s self-involved, bipolar mother, loves her daughter within her own limitations. The needy artist frequently requires tending when moods swing, forcing Marianne to table her own needs and emotions to care for her. A series of men has invaded their lives, providing a less than perfect environment for Marianne.

The brilliant young woman manages to survive until her senior year in high school, when just before finals, Eric Cotton collapses into a vegetative state. Although Marianne is convinced her grandfather is still alive inside, the decision to pull the plug is made by Lily and her current husband, Russell. Marianne interprets this act as a deep betrayal, and reels in shock when she’s notified that her grandfather has been removed from life support.

Faced with spiritual solitude, Marianne starts to unravel. She falls for a handsome and charismatic street musician named Miles, who lures her into a world of sex, drugs, and smoky club blues. Marianne’s pain is diminished with each fix she accepts from her new group of exotic and seemingly attractive friends. Armed with a fake ID, school recedes and her scholarship for NYU seems unimportant. Marianne lands a job at a sleazy bar, serving drinks to overweight groping men and pushing through the motions with more mental lethargy as her craving for absolution and oblivion careens forward, driving her to a nearly lethal intravenous heroin addiction.

Magdalena Ball’s writing, insightful and deep, engages the reader from page one. Her characters linger long after the story resolves to its perfect conclusion. Highly recommended for a glimpse into the motivations behind heroin abuse, as well as thoroughly alluring family drama, Sleep Before Evening is powerfully addictive in its own right.


Aaron Paul Lazar resides in Upstate New York with his wife, three daughters, two grandsons, mother-in-law, dog, and four cats. After writing in the early morning hours, he works as an electrophotographic engineer at Kodak, in Rochester, New York. Additional passions include vegetable, fruit, and flower gardening; preparing large family feasts; photographing his family, gardens, and the breathtakingly beautiful Genesee Valley; cross-country skiing across the rolling hills; playing a distinctly amateur level of piano, and spending “time” with the French Impressionists whenever possible. Although he adored raising his three delightful daughters, Mr. Lazar finds grandfathering his “two little buddies” to be one of the finest experiences of his life.

Double Forté is the founding book of the LeGarde Mystery series and was released in January, 2005. Upstaged was released in October, 2005. His third, Tremolo: cry of the loon, is scheduled for release via Twilight Times Books under the Paladin Timeless Imprint November 15, 2007. Mr. Lazar is currently working on his twelfth book, For Keeps. The first book of his paranormal mystery series, Moore Mysteries, will be released in early 2008, followed closely by Mazurka, the next book in the LeGarde mystery series. He is a regular columnist for FMAM (Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine), Mysteryfiction.net and has been published in Great Mystery and Suspense magazine and the Absolute Write Newsletter. Contact him at: aaron.lazar@yahoo.com, visit his blog at aaronlazar.blogspot.com, or stop by his websites at
http://www.legardemysteries.com/ and http://www.mooremysteries.com/.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Hello, Readers and Writers!

For those of you who spend time writing, I hope this finds you producing work with astounding depth and sublime allusions.

Or at least writing. Something. A few lines that make your mother chuckle? Or a conversation that smacks of reality?
Wherever you are in the writing process - be is poetry, essays, historical pieces, or novels - keep going and write every day.

That piece of advice has been touted often, and I must say, for the most part, it is sound. The more you write, the more your skills evolve. Of course there are days when you will want to take break and just live. Breathe. Laugh. Swim. Gorge yourself on life. And those days usually fill the writing well with plenty of material, don't they?

And those of you who read 'til your heart is full and your soul satisfied - I know you appreciate the effort that goes into the process.

Frankly, I'm amazed at how much my own prose has changed - and changed again - even over the past few years.

Remember I mentioned a while back that Tremolo: cry of the loon, is coming out soon? Well, we now have an official print release date from Paladin Timeless Books (an imprint of Twilight Times Books): November 15th, 2007. Tremolo is the third Gus LeGarde book, a prequel to Double Forte', that whisks Gus, Siegfried, and Elsbeth back to the summer of 1964. It's a "coming-of-age mystery." Genre slotting is so hard to do these days, but since my publisher is a literary independent who doesn't get all bent out of shape by precise genre tagging, I think it will represent the book well and should suffice.

Anyway, I finished revising the manuscript for the umpteenth time. I spent ten days on it, refining and tweaking to smooth the prose, removed ungainly adverbs (like ungainly, LOL), hacked away at the excessive prepositional phrases, removed the "ups and downs" sullying the prose, and much, much more. It's a tighter read now, and I'm glad I did it.

If you'd like to read an updated excerpt - click here.

On top of all that, I prepared many cover designs for my publisher to consider, and she's chosen the one I've posted here.
A back cover blurb is almost as important as the cover art. Once you attract the potential reader with a dazzling cover, they normally flip the book over to glance at the blurb. If the first sentence or two doesn't capture them, enticing them to open to chapter one to sample the first few sentences - all is lost.

So, back cover blurbs are often honed (at least by me) like a fine work of art, with much solicitation from critique partners. If you have only 150 words to describe your entire novel, you must choose words judiciously to pique your reader's interest.

Things have been hopping in other areas, too. Kodak has contacted me to do a video shoot for their website http://www.printambassador.com/. They want me to share my passion about print and how it's affected my life as an author. Of course, it's all about connecting with readers! I'm very passionate about that. ;o) They'll be filming me on October 9th in and around the Genesee Valley and Geneseo, NY, the historic and beautiful locale where the LeGarde Mystery series takes place.

Did you ever think your lowly and humble LeGarde Mysteries author would be a movie star? LOL!

Okay, so it's not The View or the Oprah show. But it should be fun. And they're going to giveaway ten copies of Tremolo each week for ten weeks as a promotion. A very nice gesture, don't you think?

In keeping with this whole crazy Tremolo week, I'm going to share the current blurb I've written for the back cover. I'd appreciate comments from those of you who have been through this grueling process before. As always, I welcome your suggestions.

Here's a statement I've developed to help define the target audience. Like Stephen King's movie, "Stand By Me," or my all time favorite "To Kill A Mockingbird," Tremolo features young characters, but is not targeted exclusively at young readers. I actually wrote it for folks in my generation who may have grown up in the fifties/sixties or those who wish they had. ;o)

"A book with universal appeal, Tremolo will satisfy adults who yearn for simpler times as well as young readers seeking adventure and mystery."

How does that sound?

And since my mysteries often combine elements of poetic family scenes interlaced with chilling terror, I've come up with this little blurb to help explain it.

"Tremolo is the perfect blend of the sublime and sinister."

Do you think that will attract interest?

Boy, this marketing stuff and all the things that go with getting a book out are really a lot harder than writing the actual book! But they're important. After all, as someone once told me, "nobody ever bought a book they haven't heard about."

Tremolo, Rough Draft of Back Cover Blurb:

"Summer, 1964: Beatlemania hits the States, and the world mourns the loss of JFK. For eleven-year-old Gus LeGarde, the powerful events that rocked the nation serve as a backdrop for the most challenging summer of his life.

After Gus and his friends capsize their boat at his grandparents’ lakeside camp, they witness a drunk chasing a girl through the foggy Maine woods. She’s scared. She’s hurt. And she disappears.

The camp is thrown into turmoil as the frantic search for Sharon begins. Reports of stolen relics arise, including a church bell cast by Paul Revere. When Gus stumbles on a scepter that may be part of the spoils, he becomes a target for the evil lurking around the lake. Will they find Sharon before the villain does? And how can Gus--armed only with a big heart, a motorboat, and a nosy beagle--survive the menacing attacks on his life?"

Well, thanks so much for stopping by. I'm actually simultaneously babysitting for my grandsons this morning, so it's been a bit of a challenge getting this prepared and tending little boys' needs at the same time. Daughter Jenn has nursing clinicals in the city today, and she had to leave really early, seven AM. Phew. I hope this all makes sense!

Warmest wishes for a wonderful week,

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Hello, folks.

This week I received news that my publisher, Lida Quillen of Twilight Times Books and the Paladin Timeless Imprint, is hoping to schedule Tremolo: cry of the loon, the prequel to Double Forte', for printing in late November. This will be the third Gus LeGarde book in print, from a current total of nine. Lida's been juggling numerous successful books and events all summer, working hard to grow her top notch independent press. It has earned a wonderful reputation in the community. Here's a link to her current newsletter, if you'd like to take a look.

The search for a "paint and brush" artist for the cover hasn't materialized, for various reasons. So, Lida allowed me to take another crack at the cover. Nothing is final yet, but this is one version. It may end up getting scrapped or changed, but I thought I'd share it anyway. I'm always interested in the feedback you folks provide, so feel free to weigh in with your own opinions!

Originally I had some loon and/or rowboat images in the cover, but so far they haven't seemed right. Too cluttered. The image I'm striving for is mysterious and eerie - fog on the lake at night. But I'm not sure if it's enough.

What do you think?

In the process of doing this I happened to revisit the manuscript. Guess what happened? What ALWAYS happens.

I choked and panicked.

Too many adverbs. Examples of passive writing. Extra prepositional phrases explaining where my characters are standing or sitting that just plain slow down the story. Too many uses of "up" and "down" that are not necessary. And so on.


I wrote this years ago - in three months, as I usually do. And of course I polished it many times afterwards, coming back to it years after the original penning. But the last time I worked on it was with my editor over a year ago.

Since then, I've learned a great deal. Skills accumulate the more you write and study the craft, the tips and tricks for smoother, more powerful prose add up over time. And now the stuff I write (like Lady Blues, which I just finished, or For Keeps, which I'm halfway through), is so much stronger than the earlier works.

So - with a bit of trepidation - I asked my publisher if I could have one more "go" at it. She graciously agreed, although it's against her policy at this point in production. I'm being careful to maintain the integrity of the manuscript, but feel much better as I scour it one more time, cutting the excess and fortifying the weak.

It's not like a fresh rewrite, although that would be ideal. But I have to stop somewhere and realize that each book will be better than the last (in writing quality) and that it's a quandry I'll have to live with for the rest of my career. There are just too many darned stories to get out of my brain to stall and completely rewrite everything all over again. If I gave in to that desire, I'd not only drive myself crazy, but I'd never be done and my readers would be a bit...shall we say... bored?

On top of all this, my poor wife is having some serious health problems, complications with her MS, so I cancelled my booksigning today to be with her. She needs me, and that's more important than anything. Fortunately the event was part of a larger gathering of authors, so my absence won't be cataclysmic.

Next weekend I'm off to Heron Hills Winery for another solo event, and after that, to the Woods Library in Canandaigua. If you'd like to see the events calender, feel free to hop onto my site at http://www.legardemysteries.com/ and click on the events page. I'd love to see you if you're in the area!

Have a wonderful weekend.



Aaron Paul Lazar works as an engineer by day but can be found on weekends in his gardens with his two toddler sidekicks, grandsons Julian and Gordon. His passion lies in writing, where he has created eleven books with characters of depth, color and substance. Lazar entices readers with intricate plots, lush imagery, breathless action, gourmet meals, classical music, bountiful gardens and surprising romantic moments.
Mr. Lazar also writes monthly columns for the Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine, Voice in the Dark newsletter, and The Back Room ezine and has been published often in Absolute Write. He lives in Upstate NY with his extended family. Visit his websites at:
http://www.legardemysteries.com/; http://www.mooremysteries.com/, and his blog at http://www.aaronlazar.blogspot.com/.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Good morning, friends!

I pray this finds you well, ready to enjoy your Saturday. For those of you in the States, I hope you're poised and ready to experience a lovely Labor Day Weekend, and that you'll be able to fill a bit of it with some writing time.

My week? It's been overwhelming, actually. Horribly hectic. Filled with a gazillion family appointments, all scheduled to be done before college starts up again for the twins. On Tuesday, I sat by my daughter Allison's side and patted her foot while she was zoomed head first into an MRI unit (fortunately it turned out okay), and the rest of the week was full of allergy, eye, dental, primary care appointments and more. Allison's twin, Melanie, was off on a trip to Boston and Connecticut, searching for the perfect master's program for music therapy. There were lots of phone calls for advice and consultation.

Of course, this was all fit in over a full work week of engineering. On top of that, school started last Monday for eldest daughter, Jenn. She's returned for her final year of nursing, and our babysitting duties have skyrocketed. Now, you all know how much I adore my two little grandsons, Julian and Gordon. They are the light of my life. I crave time with them. I am blessed and rejuvenated by their proximity. But some nights, Jenn doesn't get home til 9 o'clock. It makes for a very long day.

And guess what suffers?

Right. My writing time.

So - for the first time in a long time - my characters have woken me almost every night at 2AM. It's totally unplanned, but has occured four times this week. My protagonist, Sam Moore, has been thrust into a psych ward after three people in his life were brutally murdered within a week, and he's not happy. Not only is he a suspect, but he's losing it just like he did when his little brother disappeared fifty years ago. Poor Sam. And he wants the green marble to take him back in time - so he can bring them all back to life. So, with this bizarre solution of middle of the night writing (2-4AM), Sam has robbed me of my sleep, yet soothed my writer's need to create.

Has this ever happened to you?

I awoke at 7 this morning, two hours after my usual routine to prepare for my Saturday Writing Essential piece. Although we are not paid a salary for this job, I consider it an honor and take it very seriously. So, I panicked a little when my grandson peeked in the room and I realized I'd lost two hours. Again.

Balto, our puppy, squeezed past Gordie into the bedroom and did the "I have to go out" dance, so I took him down and clipped him onto his run. I leaned on the porch, drinking in the cool morning air, tempted to wander out to the gardens to pick vegatables or take photos.

As I stood there waiting and just breathing, a lime-colored hummingbird flitted into view, attracted by the tall spires of lavender flowers in the coleus. He flitted around the spike, dipping repeatedly for the nectar. He didn't have much of a choice left in this garden, since the monarda dried up in the last three weeks of oppressive heat.

Anyway, this full-of-energy little bird suddenly stopped mid-air and simply hovered. He actually seemed to be staring right at me. He just hung there, wings beating, holding his position. As if he were trying to tell me something. Relax. Enjoy. Breathe.

And so, dear friends, I plan to follow his advice. Whether I'm losing it, like Sam Moore, or whether it was an important symbolic message meant to mysteriously pop into my brain, it's a good idea. After the chairs are delivered and errands are done, I'm going to relax. I might just weed those beets a little, or do some mowing, or maybe make a chocolate zucchini cake, or... Well, I promise that whatever I do, it will be because I want to do it, I enjoy it, and I've made a conscious decision to do so. ;o)

I hope you all have a spectacular weekend, whether you're down under welcoming spring, or celebrating the passage of summer to fall up North. No matter where you are, be sure to remember to breathe.



Aaron Paul Lazar works as an engineer by day but can be found on weekends in his gardens with his two toddler sidekicks, grandsons Julian and Gordon. His passion lies in writing, where he has created eleven books with characters of depth, color and substance. Lazar entices readers with intricate plots, lush imagery, breathless action, gourmet meals, classical music, bountiful gardens and surprising romantic moments.

Mr. Lazar also writes monthly columns for the Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine, Voice in the Dark newsletter, and The Back Room ezine and has been published often in Absolute Write. He lives in Upstate NY with his extended family.

Visit his websites at:

http://www.legardemysteries.com/; http://www.mooremysteries.com/, and his blog at http://www.aaronlazar.blogspot.com/.