Saturday, May 31, 2008

Life Lessons: Just Say Yes

Last night, per our usual routine, my two little buddies came upstairs to play with me.

Grandsons are precious. They’re inspirational. Hysterical. Adorable. And they keep me humble.

All day I’d toiled under major stress, frantic about getting data ready for a big presentation. I was beat. Exhausted, really. But I looked forward to my time with the boys, not just because I’m besotted with them and love being their grandfather, but because there’s something sublime in those playful moments when we laugh so hard we cry. It’s rejuvenating. It’s therapeutic. Like a shot of life that helps you bear up against the tough times.

Julian, four, was ready the minute he burst into our bedroom.

“Look, Papa! I have the dinosaurs!”

He brandished the “sharp tooth” and the “three horn” with pride. Gordie, three, followed him by seconds, reaching for the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

“I want that one!” he shrieked.

Julian gave in quickly, tossing the toy to him. But a look of concern soon crossed his face.

“Papa! I don’t have a dinosaur for you.”

It didn’t stump him for long. He rummaged in the toy box, feet kicking in the air, and emerged with a stuffed red lion.

“Here you go, Papa. You can be the lion tonight.”

Satisfied that the problem was solved, both boys hopped onto my bed and began to zoom and crash their dinosaurs into my lion.

“Whoa! Wait a minute!” I laughed. “Why are you attacking me?”

Playing superheroes is a frequent game of ours, with or without toys in hand. There are always bad guys who threaten the planet and need to be dispatched, and lots of flying and tumbling often ensues. But I like to mix it up a bit, and make sure my darling grandsons learn some tolerance, empathy, and altruistic characteristics during our imaginative play.

“I’m the king of the forest!” I sang. They stopped their attacks and looked at me like I was crazy. I kept on, morphing into the Cowardly Lion.

“Don’t pull my tail. Or I’ll cry.”

I’m not sure what got me going on this vein, but soon images and scenes from the movie flashed across my brain and the stuffed toy became the legendary lion from the Wizard of Oz.

I turned him with tail flailing toward each boy. Of course, Julian pulled it, laughing hysterically. I immediately launched into faux tears, weeping and sobbing like a crazed cartoon character.

“You pulled my tail!” I shouted.

And thus the game began. Each boy would incite the action by grabbing and yanking on the tail. Then, when the lion cried, they would comfort him with hugs and kisses.

Our play soon spiraled into bad guys lurking in the corner and coming to get us. After Gordie and Julian leapt into the air with fists flying and feet kicking to “get” the bad guys about a dozen times, I convinced them to hide with me under the red flannel sheet on my bed. What does that say about my manliness? I shudder to think. Anyway…

“It’s a magic tent!” I said to their giggles in the dark. “Nobody can hurt us in here.”

Julian, with his too mature analytical brain, said, “But Papa. This is just cloth. A real sword could cut it.”

“Not in our world, my boy. It’s magic! And now we’re… invisible!”

We got a lot of mileage out of that flannel sheet. Julian especially liked the peephole that was there, courtesy of our puppy trying to bury a bone in my bed the other day. Gordie decided to make the puppy into the bad guy, and then we had someone really fierce to fear. Balto lay on the floor, chewing on yet another toy that wasn’t his, a pretend circular saw that made cool noises like a real one. Each time the toy whirred, we ducked under the magic tent. I told them stories about Dorothy and the witch and the wizard, and couldn’t seem to get the scenes out of my head.
After about an hour of this, I grew weary. I’d been exhausted lately, dealing with the death of my beloved dog (that’s another story) and trying to beat two viruses in a row that slammed me in February. I hadn’t yet regained my usual boundless energy, and knew it was time to say good night.

At least, that’s what I thought.

When I announced “five more minutes,” Gordie ignored me and continued to beat up a stuffed snake. But Julian’s face crumpled and he burst into real tears. Hiccuping, breathless, buckets of tears.

“Papa! I don’t want to go!” he wept.

I held him tight and tried a few tactics, but his little heart was broken and there wasn’t much I could do to fix it. Except to play a little longer.

Hey. I’m the grandfather. I’m allowed to do these things.

So, we played a little longer. Gordie refused to pick up his toys in the end, and sneaked downstairs to his mommy. Julian picked them up with a long face, and as he was leaving, the tears returned.

He wasn’t manipulating me. These were genuine tears of grief. We hadn’t had much time together over the weekend when he’d visited his father, and we both felt a little cheated. I decided to stop, breathe, and just do what felt right.

Pulling him close to me, I whispered in his ear.

“Wanna see a special movie?”

He nodded and swiped the moisture from his cheeks, helping me look for our old copy of the Wizard of Oz. We hadn’t watched it since his mom was a little girl, but of course I’d seen it a gazillion times with my daughters and as a kid. I remembered seeing it the last time we’d cleaned, and after a few minutes, I brandished it with a flourish.

“Here it is!”

I wasn’t sure if four was old enough to handle the scary witch, but I ached to share it with him and decided to take a chance. So we set up it, ignored the hitching and bucking of the screen that came with the crinkled old videotape, and prepared to be mesmerized.

Julian snuggled into my lap. Enchanted, he peppered me with questions. Dorothy began to sing “Over the Rainbow,” and his flurry of chatter stopped for a minute. Halfway through the song, he whispered.

“Papa. The girl is so beautiful. I really like her face.”

I choked up and hugged him tight.

“Me, too, buddy. And isn’t her voice pretty?”

He nodded.

“I bet the witch sings awful,” he said.

A laugh snorted out my nose.

“Well, she doesn’t sing much, but she has a scary voice.”

When Dorothy began to follow the yellow brick road, he started to yawn. And stretch. And yawn some more. So we ended our night, with no more tears, and with a memory I’ll always cherish. Tonight we’ll see more, and hopefully this time Gordie will join us.

The next time your child or grandchild wants more time with you – say yes.

Give in.

Just breathe.

Savor your time together, for the special moments are fleeting and won’t return. No matter what your grownup brain tells you about schedules and rules, reject it. So what if supper is late? Or if you lose twenty minutes of sleep? Or if you miss that movie you were dying to see? That stuff doesn’t matter.

Kids do.

Just say yes. You won’t regret it. I promise. ;o)

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. See some of his mysteries at and

Sunday, May 25, 2008

There is a moment in every author’s life when he or she experiences a sudden pang of loss, and sweet sorrow descends like soggy tissues on a broken heart.

Man or woman, romance or action writer, sensitive poet or straight shootin’ scene churner, it hits us one and all.

It’s the moment we reach at the end of our long suffering days, those focused, driven, passionate hours, plastered with outpourings of words that evolved into our current work in process. The moment we type, “The End.”

It happens to all of us. Sometimes, there’s a delayed reaction, and suddenly it sneaks up to slay us, the next day. Macho man or lyrical lady, none are immune.

In my case, I don’t actually burst into tears. But my throat tightens, a lump forms, and I fight back moisture that puddles and threatens to overflow.

My God. It’s over. What will I write tomorrow?

Of course, I really know what I’ll write next. I have pages full of books begging to be written, and each vies for attention as the finish line comes into view, weeks before the ending is in sight. Articles crop into my head that have simmered there for weeks. Cover designs lure me like Sirens to the Photoshop Rocks, and I ache to try something new. Perhaps a psychological suspense, or a saucy romance?

What really happens is a tearing apart of a bond that forms between one’s heart and one’s work. It’s an invisible tug, a feeling of companionship about to be severed. This place that has become a refuge from life, this world with new friends, emotive scenes, and free adrenaline rushes – is suddenly balled up into a wad of virtual paper and tossed off the cliff into the next realm. The editing, or polishing phase. Which just doesn’t have the same allure, you know?

Last night I experienced this sensation for the eleventh time. Yup. It was a nostalgic kind of sadness, a choking momentary paralysis reminiscent of stolen memories from my childhood or the loss of a loved one. I finished Lady Blues, the ninth in the LeGarde mystery series.

I admit I am obsessed. I hover over this parallel universe like a frantic father, controlling and finagling events for Gus LeGarde and his family to navigate through until they scream for help. Sometimes, I’m kind. And sometimes, I’m not.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Do you write series books that critics might react to with words like, “How can so many things happen to one guy?” If so, use this trick. Tell the naysayers they must “employ the suspension of disbelief.” It makes them stop for a minute to ponder, it is actually true for any type of fictional venue, and it makes you sound really literary.

If that doesn’t work, tell them, “Hey. It’s fiction. It’s supposed to be entertainment, not a reality show.” Of course, our fictional works are often more authentic than contrived TV shows, anyway. If they’re still being jerks about it, tell them to go buy a manual on brake replacement.

Even though I am a series writer who gets to “keep” his characters from book to book, there is always a feeling of loss, because I feature new characters from the local community in each successive book. The main cast of characters are ever-present. I’ll never lose them, thank God, and they do provide an immeasurable amount of comfort each time through. I feel deeply for each one, I know them inside and out, and I treasure every scene I get to share with them. Okay, that sounds a bit hokey, but it’s true.

But the featured characters usually don’t come back. They flit in and out of Gus’s life, providing wonderful counterpoint or drama, need or redemption, and then… they’re gone. Oh, occasionally I mention them down the road, but it’s not my practice to bring them back. Just as my hero, John D. MacDonald never reintroduced Travis McGee’s lovers (he usually killed them off, much to my disappointment), each new episode thrust a needy client or vicious villain into our view for just…one…book.

And so, last night as I sat alone in the dark room with my sticky-hot laptop humming as it shut down, a sense of loss hit me. Hard.

I would spend no more evenings with Kip Sterling, the octogenarian who lost his memory on the night Glenn Miller mysteriously disappeared, the jazz era “music man,” shoveled from nursing home to nursing home for the past sixty years, with no family or real identity until Gus LeGarde befriended him and began to dig deeply into his past.

Or Bella Dubois, Kip’s Nubian black lover who crooned bluesy tunes in Harlem between secret trysts with Kip, her beloved piano player. I had fallen hard for Bella, just as Kip did, and imagined wonderful blue smoke-filled nightclubs with her purring at the microphone in a slinky green dress that sparkled and shifted like surf on the beach. Never mind that I hate smoke and can’t stomach the stench of it, I suppressed that little bit of truth to imagine the romance of the era.

And what about Debbie, the feisty, stout nurse who used to be a dancer, with the penny red curls and sense of righteous justice, who would not bend beneath threats from Novacom, the evil drug company? I grew quite fond of her fiery courage.

Or my most recent favorite, Lucy Sedgewick, the gay ex-FBI agent-turned-woodworker, who partnered up with Gus to save the lives of Debbie and Kip when the power of the mighty dollar turned against them? Gus and she shared the loss of their beloved partners through cancer, and the bond between them had just begun to cement toward the end of the book.

Maybe I’ll bring Lucy back. Or perhaps she’ll get her own book some day. It’s definitely on the list.

So, what do you do when you type “The End?” Do you put your work aside for a while, go out and live life for a few weeks? I’ve done that a few times. Sometimes it’s plain necessary to recharge the creative juices.

Or, do you immediately turn back to chapter one to polish the manuscript and look for inconsistencies before you send it out to your critique partners or inner circle of pre-readers? Alternatively, do you put your manuscript aside for a year to let it simmer, while you blast few a few more novels?

I’ve done it both ways. Normally, I set it aside for at least six months, and give in to my massive craving for “creating new.” Then, when I’ve forgotten most of what I wrote (don’t laugh, I’m serious!), I return to it and am both delighted and horrified at what I’ve written. That’s when the real roll-up-your-sleeves editing begins.

My advice is to discover what works for you through trial and error. There’s no hard and fast rule about dealing with this hand-off, and no unwritten rule that you must deal with it the same every time.

Most importantly, whether or not you need a hiatus in which you reconnect to family or friends, be sure to return to writing as soon as possible. Whether it be an article, like this, or the start of your next best-seller, keep writing. Don’t ever stop. Give us more, and steam ahead to forge those new bonds that will hopefully return you to the tissues the next time you type, “The End.”
Read excerpts, reviews, readers comments, interviews, and more at Aaron Paul Lazar's websites:

Sunday, May 18, 2008

© Aaron Paul Lazar 2008

I headed for my parents’ house on a rainy June evening, anxious for the tastes and aromas of home. Savory beef stew, bubbling on the stove. Spicy lavender, growing by the porch door. I even anticipated the musky smell of wet dog, having missed owning pets while on assignment in Germany.
I’d settled my wife and daughters back in our house in the country after a grueling flight from Stuttgart to Logan. After getting the place back in shape—the larder stocked, the lawn mowed, and the cobwebs whisked clean—my roots called to me. I needed to see my parents and grandmother. It had been far too long.

I parked in the driveway and soaked in the sight of the old cedar-shingled colonial, nestled between towering blue spruces and flanked by an overgrown Bartlett pear. Flashes of my childhood raced across my mind’s eye: my chestnut gelding grazing on the back field; family feasts on the redwood picnic table under the plum tree; devouring my mother’s cooking, and toiling in my father’s sumptuous gardens. I was finally home, where family had patiently waited as the one-year post overseas had stretched to four.
After long embraces and reunion tears, we gathered around the supper table, just as I’d envisioned so many times in the throes of homesickness. Ginny, my father’s beagle, sat at my feet, begging for morsels. I surreptitiously dropped a piece of cornbread under the table, and heard her satisfied snuffling as she sought and devoured the tidbit.

“When do we see Gram?” I asked between spoonfuls of Chicken Paprikash.

My parents exchanged uncomfortable glances. Mom shifted in her ladderback chair.

“We have something to tell you about Grandma,” she began. Her fingers tapped a tango on the table beside her linen napkin, and she tossed my father a nervous half-smile.

My heartbeat quickened and I imagined the worst. She’s dead. My grandmother’s dead.

“What is it?” I set down my spoon and pushed back my seat. Ginny scooted to the side, then laid her head on my lap, her big brown eyes rolling up to mine. I stroked her soft ears and waited.

My mother nodded to my father, who took over.

“Gram’s in a home now,” he said. “She got sick, son. Alzheimer’s.”

I stared across the table. My jaw dropped. Indignation welled in my chest.

“You put her in a home?” My voice cracked on the last word. “I thought you said you’d never do that? We were going to take care of her. Amy and I would’ve taken her in, if you couldn’t. What happened to the plan?” I conveniently ignored the fact that I hadn’t been around for the past four years.

My mother began to explain. They’d tried to care for her at home. The dining room had been transformed into a bedroom for Gram, so she could avoid climbing stairs. They'd brought in her pictures, her Lincoln rocker, her quilts, and the display case with her miniature Hummel figurines and collector’s plates. Her two bedroom cape cod had sold for a mere sixty-five thousand dollars.

“She thought I was a stranger, John. She kept calling 911.” My mother’s eyes brimmed with tears; she dabbed at them with her napkin. “We found her outdoors, in the middle of winter, wandering around in her nightgown. She nearly froze to death, looking for the ‘hen house’ She thought she was a young woman again, and kept trying to do her chores. She wouldn’t take her pills, kept thinking I was trying to poison her.” My mother stopped to collect herself, pressing the napkin to her eyes. Her chest hitched a few times.

“She turned into a different person,” my father added. “She wasn’t herself, yelling at your mother all the time, really getting hysterical. Of course we didn’t blame her. She was frightened and didn’t recognize anyone.” He paused for a moment.

Ginny’s tail thumped the braided rug. I leaned down to hug her, and she quivered with excitement, lapping my cheek.

“With the new medicine, she’s a little calmer. It was a hard decision, son, but the right one.” My mother tried to smile, but her face crumpled. She breathed deeply and stood. “Dad’s going to take you to see her tomorrow, so you can check out the place for yourself. It’s a homey place, has a nice feeling to it. Not too fancy, mind you, just comfortable. And… she’s safe now.”

Numb, I nodded and leaned down to pat Ginny’s smooth flanks. I didn’t want to lose it in front of them.

“Just one more thing. She probably won’t know you. You should be prepared,” my mother said in a voice that trailed off to a whisper.

Not know me? My grandmother and I had shared an exceptional bond. I'd written dozens of letters from Germany over the past four years, assuming she'd read them, and not expecting an answer. With her arthritis, she had a hard time holding a pen steady, and we'd agreed on the one sided letter writing campaign before I'd left the country.

Impossible. She’ll know me.

The next day, we entered a modest gray clapboard house and climbed a wooden stairway to the second floor. Several elderly patients peeked from their doorways. Dad greeted most of them by name, stopping to chat with a few along the way. When we reached Gram’s room, a stranger sat on the edge of the bed. Dressed in a loose, faded housedress, she looked fifty pounds lighter than the grandmother I remembered. Her short blond hair, so carefully coifed throughout her life, had transformed into wispy gray locks that lay flat and lifeless, framing her thin face. She wore no jewelry, no lipstick, and no shoes. I approached slowly and sat beside her on the narrow bed.

“How are you, Gram?” I took her small hand in mine.

Her eyes widened with indecision and she carefully inched away from me. She smiled as if she were entertaining a guest and gently drew her hand from my grasp.

“I’m fine,” she said. Her wary eyes darted to my father. She looked down at her hands.

"Would you like to see pictures of my girls?” I asked.

“All right.” She spoke with forced politeness.

I pulled out a packet of photos.

“Here’s Meredith in our house in Germany. She just turned ten. You should see her play the piano. She sure loves music. She’s just started on the Chopin Preludes now.”

She seemed to relax a little, and accepted the photo, running her fingers lightly across the glossy surface. A small sigh escaped her lips. “So sweet,” she said. “She’ll be a heartbreaker.”

Encouraged, I continued through the pack.

“Here we are at the Christmas Market in Stuttgart. There’s my wife, Miriam. And that’s Alice, and there’s little Micki. Alice is seven and Micki just turned five.”

She carefully took the photo, gazing at it. “They look a lot alike. Such pretty curls. What’s that building in the background?”

I warmed to her question. “It’s the Stiftkirche spire, right in the middle of the city. There are old castles intermingled with new buildings. This one street, called the Koenigstrasse, bans cars; it’s filled with shops and pedestrians. You’d love the Christmas Market. Glass blown ornaments, outdoor vendors in the old cobblestone square, hot mulled wine served from copper kettles... The present I sent you last year was bought right there—”

“Ben?” she asked, looking at my father. Her eyes danced between us and she played with the buttons on her housedress with one frail hand. “Do I know this handsome young man?”

Dad hesitated, looking at my crestfallen face, then patiently answered. “Yes, Mother. It’s your grandson, John. He’s my son. Your grandson,” he prodded gently. “He’s been gone for a few years on assignment in Germany.”

She looked up at him and nodded vacantly.

I sat up straighter, looking into her confused eyes, pleading. “Gram? It’s Johnny. Remember? Don’t you remember me?” My voice caught and I choked out the last few words.

She smiled and put a trembling hand on my shoulder. “I’m sure I would’ve been very proud of you,” she said.

I sat still, grateful for her empathy, but crushed. A leaden sensation played around my heart.

My father changed the subject. “Are you hungry, Mother?” he asked. “John and I are taking you to lunch today.”

She brightened. “Yes, I am. I’m tired of the old-people-food they force on me here. They tell me I eat like a bird, but it’s because there’s nothing good to eat. And they won’t give me any beer. Can you imagine that? The Prohibition is over! What kind of a hotel is this, anyway?”

I smiled involuntarily as I recognized traits of my familiar, feisty grandmother. She was still in there, somewhere.

Dad pushed her shoes to the side of the bed and helped her put them on. Her forehead crinkled and she stood unsteadily, looking around the room for something.

“Gram? Can I help?” I asked.

“My pocketbook. I can’t go out without my pocketbook.” Dad laid his hand on her arm and flashed me a melancholy look.

“It’s okay, Mother. I’m buying today. No need for your purse.” He helped her into a worn blue cardigan and we shuffled down the hall. When we passed the bedroom of an elderly man, she leaned over and whispered in my father’s ear.

“You have to do something about that Mr. Timothy, son. He keeps hitting on me. My stars, he must be at least eighty.”

“Okay, Mother. Will do. I’ll have a talk with the old coot.” Dad smiled. Gram would be ninety next April.

We drove to the restaurant that specialized in her favorites: golden fried scallops and Narragansett beer. We slid into an empty booth across cracked red vinyl seats, and picked up the sticky menus. Dad and I shared one side, facing Grandma. She held the menu, but didn’t read it. Instead, she looked back and forth between us.

“You know,” she said, “you look like him!” She nodded toward my father.

I smiled. “I should, Gram. I’m his son.”

“Oh…” she said. She still didn’t get it.

I tried another tact. “Do you remember camp? On Great Pond?” I touched on a few of my favorite childhood memories.

Her eyes lit up. “Of course I remember camp. What do you think I am, addlepated?” She began to reminisce about people I hadn’t known, who had been her guests at the fishing resort before I was born. Although she didn’t remember me, we discovered a common ground. The tall pines. The cool, sparkling lake. The lonely tremolo of the loons. I took a long pull on my beer. A bead of sweat rolled down the green glass surface and pooled on the Formica. We sat in contented silence, sifting through sweet memories.

“Gram?” She looked at me expectantly, a pink blush spreading over her soft cheeks. “Yes?” “I remember when you and Po-pa used to bring me a slice of pizza from the café, always late at night. You’d wake me up for it. It was cold, and wrapped in a paper napkin. Best darned pizza I ever had.”

“I’m sorry,” she murmured with downcast eyes. “I don’t remember anything these days.”

“It’s okay. It doesn’t matter.” I patted the back of her cold hand and warmed to the childhood memory. “You also sang to me. Every night, before I fell to sleep.”

I began to sing—softly—so as not to arouse stares from the other patrons.

“Bon Soir Mes Amis, Bon Soir.

Bon Soir Mes Amis, Bon Soir.

We had such a good time together,

But now we must say Bon Soir.”

Before I reached the second stanza, my grandmother’s eyes lit up and she joined me, singing in a wavering soprano. My heart swelled. Her eyes sparkled and her face crinkled with joy. She popped the last scallop in her mouth, and laughed with a tinkling wind-chime sound, reaching across the table to lay her hand on mine.

“Oh, my. I love that song. I used to sing it to you when you were a boy.” Warmth filled her eyes. “Isn’t it nice to be with family?”

** Bon Soir, Mes Amis is dedicated to my grandmother and based on a true story. **

***Watch for Aaron's two new books this summer - MAZURKA (fourth in the LeGarde series), and HEALEY'S CAVE, the debut book in his paranormal green marble mystery series.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

It's funny how we meet our online writing buddies. In the case of Anne Kimberly, she found me. She was interested in my agent's track record, and after discussing the pros and cons, we ended up being represented by the same lady for a while. During that time, we discovered a mutual passion for gardening, and Anne became my best online gardening buddy. Of course we helped edit each other's books, that was a natural progression. And even though young adult fantasy isn't my genre (you all know I'm a mystery buff!), I loved her story and would like to share my book review.

As an aside, Anne is an passionate kid and animal lover. She wrote this book for her granddaughter, Zoe. Anne lives in the Ohio countryside with her husband and huge dog Sophie, and has a gazillion chickens and all kinds of other fowl on her property. She also has redone her old farmhouse so beautifully - it ought to be in a magazine!

Anyway, without further ado, here's the review. Enjoy!

Title: Dark Well of Decision
Author: Anne Kimberly
Publisher: Highland Press
Genre: Young Adult, Christian fantasy
Publisher's Address:
ISBN-13: 978-0980035650
Price: $7.99
Publisher website address:

Thirteen-year-old Zoe lives in the country on a beautiful farm and is kept company by her grandmother and two geese. When her chores are done, she’s given the freedom to roam the woods and fields and learns to love every aspect of nature. But Zoe doesn’t escape the usual trials of becoming a teenager. She questions her value as a young woman, feeling unattractive and comparing herself to the perfect and impossible standards seen on billboards and television. She tries hard to be a good person, helping her grandmother on the farm while her parents work hard at their respective jobs. Yet she can’t help question her grandmother’s unswerving faith.

Does God really exist? Does he know she’s suffering? Does he care?

Questions plaque the young lady at an alarming rate, in concert with the new hormones that race throughout her body, adding emotional highs and lows to her current state of confusion.

When she stops to peer down into an old well on her grandparents’ property, she sees a glimmer of something in the darkness that wasn’t there before. She looks harder, and harder… yet the vision isn’t clear. Finally, with all her concentration, she strains her eyes and focuses deep down in the well, and is immediately drawn through a tiny hole to the cold water at the bottom.

Crying out for God’s help after hours standing in the frigid water, Zoe almost gives up. No one hears her, and she fears all is lost. Yet after a particularly soulful plea to the Almighty, she spies a tiny balcony on the side of the well that she hadn’t seen earlier.

Thus begins Zoe’s magical adventure into the land of the Noachs, where she meets people from a miniature subterranean culture, including the kindly Kristo and Kitia and the lovable and brave guard dog, Areli. With their support, Zoe learns about their purpose in life and is granted an new respect for every tiny morsel nature prepares in the ground above. From a single currant berry to the soft down of a dandelion, her hosts use each gift from God with care and gratitude.

Zoe’s real test comes when faced with a “rescue” that swims before her eyes with great allure. A beautiful woman, a table laden with luscious feasts, the warmth of the sunshine, her grandparents’ farm…

But is it real? With great inner strength, Zoe recognizes the dangers of evil and restores her faith in God.

Anne Kimberly has written a magical tale that held the interest of this adult. Recommended as a book to read to young ones as well as perfectly suited for teenagers.


Aaron Paul Lazar lives on a ridge overlooking the Genesee Valley in upstate New York with his wife, mother-in-law, and cat. Recent "empty-nesters," Aaron and Dale have been fixing up their 1811 antique home after twenty-five years of kid and puppy wear. Daughters Jennifer, Melanie, and Allison live close by, and weekends now feature sleepover parties for grandsons Julian and Gordon.

Aaron works as an electrophotographic engineer at Eastman Kodak Company, in Rochester, New York, but his true passion lies in writing. While currently working on his thirteenth novel, he also enjoys gardening; cooking family feasts; photography, cross-country skiing, classical music, and French Impressionist art. Although he adored raising his delightful daughters, he finds grandfathering his “two little buddies” one of life's finest experiences.

In addition to receiving publishing contracts for Double Forte', Upstaged, Tremolo: cry of the loon, Mazurka, Healey's Cave, and One Potato, Blue Potato, Aaron writes "
Seedlings," a monthly column featured in the Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine (FMAM) and the literary newsletter "Voice in the Dark.". His short articles on writing have appeared in Absolute Write,and his short essay, "Word Paintings" was included in the 2007 Bylines Writers' Desk Calendar. Check out the Great Mystery and Suspense Magazine for the flash fiction piece, "Follow the Leader" and visit his blogs at and Aaron is the Saturday Writing Essential host on