Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hello, friends.

In our family, we’ve always managed to get through the traumas and tears by holding on to each other and praying. A lot. My own philosophy, as you’ve heard many times, is to “take pleasure in the little things,” and most of the time it works pretty well. Since I’ve been laid off, (and trying to stem the tide of worries about finding a job), I inhaled the fragrance of baby Isabella’s curly blond hair, took extra hugs from my grandsons Julian and Gordie, reveled in my gardens, fixed a ton of stuff around the house, and allowed myself the pure pleasure of writing like a madman for eight months. With two more books under my belt, I thought I'd managed to handle the stress fairly well. (hint: whenever you start to get too pleased with yourself, hold on. Life is about to change!)

And so my life took a plunge. Daughter Jenn arrived at our home last Saturday with a fever of 104, dizzy, and delirious. We put her to bed, gave her some Advil , and watched her. She’d had some vomiting and diarrhea in the morning. (I know, too much information, but it's important that you recognize the symptoms!) We got the fever down to 103.5, and put her to bed for a good night’s sleep. We all thought it was the flu, and that we’d have to ride it out.
The next morning, her fever was 105.3. Alarm bells triggered in my head – loudly. I got her to the ER at 9:30 that morning, much against her fervent desire to stay home in bed and nurse whatever it was in peace and quiet.

To make a long story short, Jenn had toxic shock syndrome (which men and menopausal women can get, too, by the way). Her BP was extremely low when we got to the ER (77 over 39) and we later found out she was septic, which means her blood was infected. This all happened in less than 24 hours. After a week of touch and go, they finally isolated the bacteria (Orsa) that invaded her body, and saved her. Additional symptoms were a bright red itchy rash on day 2, swollen fingers, toes, and face, disorientation, and severe head pain. I found out yesterday (when we brought her home), that if we’d arrived one HOUR later, she likely wouldn’t have made it.

My dear daughter came home today. She’s thin and pale and exhausted, but she’s alive.
So this holiday season I beg of you all – if you have any symptoms at all like those mentioned above, get to the ER immediately. If you’re wrong and it’s “just the flu,” so be it. But at least you’ll have a fighting chance.

Toxic shock syndrome is rare – most of the docs hadn’t seen it but once or twice in their lives. But it’s usually deadly, because people think it will run its course.
On the job front... ahem. Yes. The illusive job quest. While I searched all spring, summer, and fall for work in the engineering field, I found... nothing.

The loss of self-image was salvaged only by my life as a writer, by my amazing readers and their loving comments, and by my family and friends. But the old ego did take a tremendous blow, particularly when months and months passed with no return calls for jobs I’d applied for and no prospects knocking on the proverbial door.

Writing provides a nice subsidy, but it isn’t enough to survive on – yet. Until then, I need a “day” job that will cushion us until LeGarde Mysteries (or one of its spinoffs!) hits the best seller list! So, I’ve taken life by its horns and will go back to earn a masters degree in either social work or mental health counseling. I know, this is a far cry from engineering, but helping people through therapy is something I’ve always been drawn to, and the idea of dealing with people all day instead of machines is intensely appealing. It will mean taking more than half of our life savings to accomplish, but it’s an investment in our future where nothing else appears to be on the horizon. Some day I hope to hang out a shingle for my private practice.

Have no fear, I will continue to write like the wind and provide you with many more years of entertainment, God willing.

Book News:

Mazurka was officially released in Sept. 2009, and was just submitted by my publisher to the esteemed “Edgar Awards.” I’m thrilled that Lida Quillen believes in my work. Meanwhile, I’ve had scores of very generous and validating reviews, and am ever grateful for you, my readers, and your continued support.

Firesong: an unholy grave, was accepted for publication and is slated for late summer next year.

Healey’s Cave (formerly “The Green Marble”), will be released in late spring 2010, and will kick off the “Moore Mystery” series. Its two sequels, One Potato, Blue Potato, and For Keeps, will be offered one per year after that.

I have lots of books to go back to and refurbish before subbing to my publisher, including the follow-ons to Firesong – Virtuoso, Portamento, Counterpoint, Lady Blues, and Don’t Let the Wind Catch You. That work is more like drudgery, but I know it’s important to polish these manuscripts and get them in the queue.

I’ve just started submitting For the Birds, the standalone paranormal mystery set in the Adirondack Mountains, to big NYC agents. No bites yet, but one must be extremely patient and persevere in this soft publishing market. Wish me luck!

I know it’s a little late (the last two weeks have been hell), but if you’d like to order any of the four LeGarde Mysteries for Christmas, I’ll give you a break on the price and am offering free shipping. Double Forte’ and Upstaged trade paperbacks are twenty bucks each, and Tremolo and Mazurka are fifteen each. Just email me at with the book title(s), to whom you want them inscribed, and your address. Send a check made out to Aaron Lazar at 5647 Groveland Hill Road, Geneseo, NY 14454 for payment. I’ll ship them out immediately so you can have them for Christmas. ;o)

Here's another very classy Christmas idea. Give someone a set of Young Living Essential Oils for the holidays.

I’ve become besotted with therapeutic grade essential oils, so much so that I’ve signed up to become a distributor.These oils (light and not sticky) are produced from plants, trees, shrubs, etc. and are distilled in an ancient, time-honored process. They're grown organically on Dr. Gary Young's four farms in Ecuador, Provence, Utah, and Idaho under stringent quality control processes.

Basic oils such as peppermint, lemon, frankincense, lavender, eucalyptus, spruce, etc. etc have changed our lives. My family and friends are finding health and emotional benefits galore, and I’m so stuck on them that I can’t imagine life without my “oils.” Tons of hospitals now use them in conjunction with traditional meds to treat patients and to sanitize their facilities.

If you’d like to read about my “oil” stories (true testaments to the benefits I’ve seen in person), check out my “Esentially Yours” oil blog at : You can also read about and order the oils for Christmas at my official website: (If you sign up as a distributor, you can buy wholesale for 24% off.)
The bottom line is we’re finding relief for headaches, muscle aches, sore body parts, skin problems, cold sores, mood lifters, stress relief, and so much more, including bumping up our immunity to disease using pure and natural products the Lord put on this earth. I don’t want to spend too much time in this newsletter raving about them, but needless to say I also now have an “oils” newsletter which I’d love to send you if you’re interested. Just email me and I’ll add you to the list. ;o)

And yes, I'm planning a whole book revolving around essential oils - a sequel to For the Birds that will involve ancient Egyptian rites and biblical oils - it promises to be a blast.


Dr. Ni Radio Show:Poetry, Prose and Everything Goes December 14, 4PM EST

Pioneer Librarian Annual Meeting, Canandaigua, NY
December 15, 10:30 AM

Kim Smith Radio Show    Introducing Writers
December 17th 8:30 PM EST
Thank you all for your support throughout the year. Here’s wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season!

Aaron Paul Lazar

Preditors&Editors Top10 Finalist
Murderby4: Writers' Digest Top 101 Website Award 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Response to “It’s Over.” (this piece was published a few weeks ago - read it first if you have't yet.

Copyright 2009, aaron paul lazar

When I found you that morning in the barn – your neck encircled in that rope, all purple and swollen – you were barely breathing. If it hadn’t been for that rotten beam, you would have died, my friend. It makes me shudder just to think of the horrible possibility.

If you had been successful… I hate to think of it. Never again would we sit in your glider, admiring your beautiful flower gardens, and exploring deep thoughts that pass the time so pleasantly. My heart breaks to think of that ending.

Why didn’t you call me? Why didn’t you tell me you were sad? And why didn’t I notice when we sat and talked in front of your woodstove drinking your superb Riesling and chatting about art? I hadn’t the slightest hint of your inner demons, and you know I pride myself on being observant of human nature.

You have so much to offer the world. Your kinds eyes and gentle manner have soothed many a child. I brag about your sumptuous gardens to all my friends. You have a superb eye for photography and I know someday you’ll be world-renowned, with a coffee table book filled with amazing photographs of the wild.

But most of all, you are a writer who enthralls, thrills, comforts, and teaches. I fell in love with your characters in your first book, and it’s still my favorite. I know some day your books will line the shelves of bookstores world wide, and that they’ll fill people’s homes and hearts. That’s why I keep your books locked in ziplock bags and put them away for safety. I know they’ll be treasures in the future. It frustrates me to no end that you haven’t been “discovered” yet, at least in the best-seller realm.

I know you’ve been worried about the job hunt. I’ve been so worried that you’ll jump in a new direction that won’t support your primary role as an author. That would not be good for you, or the world. It would be a disaster! Sure, you’d be good at all those things you keep thinking up, but what you are is a writer! Now’s the time to prove that to the agents, to push like hell and get them to recognize your value! Please don’t let the job hunt interfere with your true calling.

As I sit here by your hospital bed and watch you struggle to breathe, I feel like the world’s worst failure. What could I have done to have prevented this?


P.S. Did I ever tell you that you're my best friend in the world?


Note: This is the response to the piece I posted a few weeks ago from the man who was literally at his rope's end. I wrote it to illustrate how communication is so often lost between two people, and how misinterpretations can lead to horrific endings. Let me know you think, below.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hi, Folks!

Here's hoping those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving has a wonderful holiday. We sure did - I cooked for the whole family and it was a fantastic day with my wife, mother-in-law, three daughters, the grandkids, Balto, and Toby. And yes, the food I made was exactly the same as Gus prepares in Upstaged, the second LeGarde mystery!

If you're not off shopping at the malls (LOL), please join me today (Saturday, 11-28-09) on Barry Eva's radio show "A Book and a Chat" from 11:00-11:30 EST. We'll have a lovely talk about my latest books, writing, and whatever else comes up in this friendly half hour. We'd love to have you in the audience! Just click on the link from your computer, and turn up the sound. Hope to see you there. ;o)


P.S. Sunday, Nov. 29th: You can listen to the recorded show here:  Podcast

Friday, November 13, 2009

It’s over.

No longer will I hold my arms open and welcome you to my home as “friend,” waiting for your eyes to bore into me and squash me to the ground.

No longer will I seat you in my room of treasures, wondering if you’ll ever notice the soft patina of the cherry wood, or comment on the colors so carefully blended, or the subtle beauty of the cherished Oriental handed down by ancestors long lost while you gloat about your friend’s lovely homes.

No longer will I pour you a glass of my best wine–hoping it bears up under your scrutiny–and gently place it beside you while you vomit your latest accomplishment as I smile and listen and… grovel.

I hate that about myself, but I was raised to be polite. But damn it, you never stop talking.

Nor will I listen to your long list of accomplishments or acquisitions, feeling belittled and betrayed by your absence of empathy. Do you ever detect that flicker of annoyance in my eyes? That glazed-over “help me” expression?

Of course not. You don’t look at me. You hold your wine in those long brown fingers and talk about yourself while your own dark eyes glow in appreciation of your own words.

Do you ever notice how much you talk? How I sit and nod and say the appropriate things to each of your new revelations? How I try to squeeze in a sentence or two and am immediately ground under your wheels in your constant games of one-up-manship?

No longer will I be forced to bear your words responding to my latest decision to try something–anything–instead of wallowing in this land of no-one-wants-me. Never is my new-found passion the "right thing for me," the appropriate interest, the proper fit.

Yet, when I try to force you to listen by gently prodding you, kidding you, making you take notice of my latest interest–you chide me and say you’re surprised I hadn’t learned about this when I lived in Boston 30 years ago, where everyone was doing it. Your knowledge in the field is deep and well renowned. So you say. Once again, I am belittled. Once again, I plunge into an abyss of worthlessness.

When I discover an interest in working with the disabled, you frown and say I haven’t the skills. “Who would hire you? You have no experience.” You toss out your own dalliances in the field as cavalierly as you can, bragging about famous connections. No, you find fault with it all, and tell me with tongue in cheek that maybe I should try… being an author.

Damn, that stings.

I mention my newest book, a saucy expression crosses your face and you say with near distain I liked your first book better, when everyone else disagrees.

Your words seem to matter, cut deeper, than all the praise in the world. Why?

Still, I hand you signed copies of all my novels. You never offer to pay for them, even when you stop by to pick one up to give to a friend. And when I mention the price, your eyebrows shoot to the moon, as if shocked I actually would charge you, my privileged friend. So I back down and donate it, once again.

You frown at me for not being a best-selling author yet, and tell me about your friends who are. You say, “You need national coverage,” as if I haven’t been trying for years to get there, to sell a hundred thousand books in a year. You show me hardcover books with jackets and gold printing and say, “that’s how your books should appear,” as if I WANT my books forever released in trade paperback.

You show up unannounced, and expect me to stop dinner, or playtime with grandkids, or my outdoor projects, to stand and nod my head and say, “Wow,” with every new announcement, for grueling hours at a time.

Yet I call you friend. Yet I know you believe you’re doing me a favor by granting me the privilege of your experience and advice. And yet tonight, I don’t care.

Of course that’s a lie. I hate myself for being your doormat. I hate it worse than the rejection I got yesterday from Home Depot. And I hate it more than being a scientist with years of brilliant discoveries, elegant solutions, with scores of patents lining my walls. Overqualified, undervalued.

That’s me.

I care so much it woke me up tonight and made me walk outside to the barn.

When you stand at my grave, will you bow your head in a knowing fashion and say, “I knew he was fragile?”

Will you have regrets?

Or will you find another patsy to call your friend?

I’ll never send this, because it’s over. And like I said, I was raised better than that.

Sweet relief now rests in my grasp, ready to free me from the failures, but especially from you.

I snap the bristled rope in my hands, testing it to see if it will hold, and glance at the beam overhead.

The swallows make unsettled noises in their nests. They probably wouldn’t hold up to your inspection either.


Okay, now let me explain. ;o)

At a recent “career conference” I took a seminar in communication entitled “The Three Deadly Sins: what not to do in a job interview.” It actually didn’t have all that much to do with job hunting, but it was a fascinating session where I bumped into dozens of past colleagues who like me, are still searching for work. It got me thinking about misinterpretations and misunderstandings, and somehow brought me to the idea of letting emotions enlarge to outlandish proportions, and using them to drive a plot.

I worried and wondered about some of the folks I met, especially those who seemed rather fragile. If I–a normally confident guy who had always seen the glass as half full–could be occasionally be reduced to someone who feels worthless during this difficult job hunting time–then what would happen to them? Armed with new intentions to stay in touch and help them along the way, my writer’s mind wandered in not-so-pleasant directions.

I pictured some without family or friends, and how hard it would be to stay upbeat if you were alone. I blended ideas of snippets heard at the conference. One fellow–a scientist–had mentioned being rejected for a job at Home Depot. My heart went out to him, because I’d just applied to Wegmans earlier that week.

Then I read S.W. Vaughn’s letter from her character, Gabriel. While it was tongue-in-cheek and totally delicious, it prompted me to want to write something in that format, especially after getting really ticked off at a guy who calls himself my friend.

I’ve also become enamored in recent times of the use of repetition in writing and played around with it a bit here.

This is what came out. Sometimes it’s fun to let your imagination run a bit rampant.

Will it turn into my next novel? I’m not sure.

(And don’t worry. I’m not holding a rope in my hands.)


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Goodbye to Headaches

I've suffered from headaches all of my adult life. They're ranged from daily morning headaches that seemed to come from the sinus area, to sharp, knee-buckling migraines that could only be assuaged by sleep. I remember lying on my pillow in a darkened room while Dale tried to keep the little ones quiet downstairs... the noise of my head rubbing against the pillow fabric was torture.

Driving often precipitated a headache, and of course loud television sound tracks were guaranteed to get me going. But most of all, I woke every morning (or in the middle of the night) with throbbing headaches that wouldn't go away.

After suffering for years, and after dealing with my family's more severe health issues that always took the forefront (MS, childhood development issues, teen rebellion issues, etc.) I finally saw a headache specialist.

He prescribed a very strong medicine that had pretty scary side effects. (heart related risks) But I was desperate, so I tried it. I remember him saying it would "get worse before it got better" each time you took it. Driving to work one sunny morning, I took a dose when a headache hit. The head pain grew almost intolerable, then backed off a little. The headache didn't go away completely, and I got very sick to my stomach.

I tried it a few more times, then got so fed up I went to the market and bought and over the counter solution. Advil, blue liquid capsules. I figured if it was over the counter, it couldn't be too bad for you, right? After all, it was just a liquid, too, which should pass through my stomach easily and not cause ulcers or anything. Right? Hmm. Read on.

The Advil helped immediately! Pain was gone and I was thrilled. I started taking it automatically every morning (2 pills) and sometimes two at noon and two at night. I'd take it in the middle of the night to resolve the headaches that woke me up, and it worked. By golly, it worked! It was cheap, and it worked!

Then I saw my doctor for something totally unrelated - a badly strained back. I'd never mentioned the Advil to him, since it was "over the counter" and it was already helping the headaches. Why bother? But this time he recommended an ibuprofen type drug to help the swelling. I told him I'd already increased my Advil to help the pain, but it hadn't helped much. I was taking six Advil a day.

He looked at me with those gentle eyes of his that suddenly grew wary. "How long have you been taking it?"

"Ten years. But not this much. Usually I just take two in the morning and sometimes during the day."

"Every single day?"

"Pretty much."

It was then that reality hit, square between the eyes. He said I was at high risk for developing bleeding ulcers, and that he'd sent many people to the ER who almost died from such because of taking too much aspirin or Advil. He told me I was probably having "rebound" headaches from the Advil, and that my body reacted with headaches when I didn't take it.

Frankly, I didn't believe the rebound bit, but he scared the heck out of me with the stomach ulcer warning. So I stopped. Cold turkey. And I had two weeks of solid head pain.

Eventually, the daily headaches lessened. Some days I didn't have any. But they still showed up and I had to simply tough it out. He was right about the rebound, but the Tylenol he suggested as a solution didn't cut the pain in the least.

So I suffered. Until last spring, when I was waiting to get my hair cut at Lisa Marie's Hair Salon in Livonia, NY. In the middle of reading a newspaper article, I sat straight up in my seat. A scent had wafted over to me from Lisa's station - something so powerful and pleasant and uplifting that I couldn't stay put. I wandered over to her (how bold was that?!?) and asked her what it was. On her table she had a collection of little brown bottles with colorful labels on them. She lifted one to me and let me sniff. Then she put a little on my hand and rubbed it in. I think it was the Thieves blend of essential oils (cloves, cinammon, lemon, rosemary, eucalyptus radiata), or maybe the Christmas Spirit blend (cloves, orange, spruce). I can't remember now. All I remember is that I was attracted to this stuff like a character in a cartoon. It was as if I lifted off the ground and floated toward it, then inhaled it like an aphrodisiac or a drug! While she cut my hair she told me about her personal experiences with the oils, how the Peace and Calming blend had helped her little son focus better in the classroom (verified by his teacher, who didn't know what Lisa had tried), and about her brother who'd been in a horrible accident, and how the oils had helped relieve his pain where no other meds could. And so much more.

I was both intrigued and skeptical. I wanted to learn more, to be sure it wasn't some kind of scam product. I soon learned that these little bottles of oil were supremely legit - used by the Beth Israel hospital to treat patients and by many other fine physicians around the world. They are purely organic and from the earth. Nature's bounty, carefully processed with the highest quality standards and organically produced. I fell in love with the oils, bought a starter kit with nine bottles (Peppermint, Lavender, Lemon, Frankincense, Purification, Thieves, Valor, Panaway, and Peace and Calming) and started to experiment to see what they'd do for me and my family.

That's when Peppermint Oil became a major part of my life. I learned that in addition to its many other properties (see list below), it was known to relieve headache pain. I applied a couple of drops to the nape of my neck, to my temples, and across my forehead - but not too close to my eyes, as this stuff is VERY concentrated and can make your eyes water. One drop of peppermint oil is a s strong as TWENTY cups of peppermint tea.

In less than ten minutes, my headache simply vanished. The relief lasted a few hours. I reapplied, and the same thing happened. I started to get all nervous because I was afraid to get too excited about something that affected such a huge problem. How could this work? Why would it work? I researched like mad, and found the whole essential oils story to be steeped in history - from ancient Egyptian practices to those mentioned in the Bible. Eastern cultures have used them for years, taking the goodness from plants, trees, and shrubs and using them to treat all sorts of conditions. I wore my peppermint into a Thai restaurant, and one of the servers, of Chinese heritage, said it smelled just like the "Chinese medicine" (oil) her family uses to rub on the forehead for headaches!

So it wasn't new. It just wasn't widely embraced *yet* but our Western world.

I don't go anywhere without my peppermint anymore. I just ordered two more 15ml bottles to be sure I don't run out. I keep it by my bedside, in the kitchen, in my car, and in my pocket. One bottle does last a long time, but now that I've found such a super solution I want it available all the time.

I've tried it on my cousin - her headache went away. My mom wanted to try it on her sciatica. I was skeptical that it would help, but now she sleeps every night pain free. She figured that one out on her own and just bought another bottle of it! She also says a dab of it on her forehead keeps the gnats away when she's gardening. She lives near a swamp and has TONS of those pesky things. I've met other oil lovers now (at expos and conventions) who have similar stories, accounts of peppermint (and the other oils) working wonders in their lives. My life has changed dramatically now, and everywhere I go, I suggest a different oil or combination to my friends. I guess you could say I'm newly obsessed, but in a good way.

And yes. I'm going to write a book about it!


I'm not a doctor. I don't claim that peppermint will work for everyone's headaches. But it's worth a try. If you're interested in getting a kit or a single bottle, here's my website:

(note: there's no "www" in the address!)

P.S. If you're interested, I recommend you sign up as a "distributor." I did. There's no pressure or obligation, you just get your future oil purchases at 24% off retail if you do. And then, if you fall for them like I did, you can share them with your friends at the same discount. (you also make a little money yourself for selling them, it's a legitimate business that many people actually make a very good living on!) Sort of like Avon products, but for your health and home. :o)


Here's a list of ways folks have used peppermint in the past:

o PEPPERMINT - (Mentha piperita) is one of the oldest and most highly regarded herbs for soothing digestion. Jean Valnet, M.D., studied peppermint's effect on the liver and respiratory systems. Dr. William N. Dember of the University of Cincinnati studied peppermint's ability to improve concentration and mental accuracy. Alan Hirsch, M.D., studied peppermint's ability to directly affect the brain's satiety center, which triggers a sense of fullness after meals. Peppermint is grown and distilled at the Young Living Farms.

· Put a drop of Peppermint on your tongue and/or one under your nose to increase alertness and concentration-very helpful if you're starting to feel tired when driving!

· Rub 4-6 drops over your stomach and around your navel to relieve indigestion.

· Add a drop of Peppermint oil to water or herbal tea to relieve heartburn or nausea.

· Massage several drops of Peppermint oil on an area of joint or muscle injury to reduce inflammation (around, but not directly on, an open wound).

· Rub several drops of Peppermint oil on the bottoms of your feet to reduce fever.

· Apply a drop of Peppermint oil topically on unbroken skin to stop itching.

· Inhale Peppermint oil before and during a workout to boost your mood and reduce fatigue.

· To relieve a headache rub a drop of Peppermint oil on your temples, forehead, over the sinuses (stay away from the eyes) and/or on the back of your neck.

· Diffuse Peppermint oil in the room while studying to improve concentration and accuracy; then inhale Peppermint oil while taking a test to improve recall.

· Place a drop of Peppermint oil on your tongue, or put a drop in your palm or on a tissue and simply inhale the aroma to relieve congestion from a cold or sinus problem.

· Add Peppermint oil to food as a flavoring and a preservative.

· To deter rats, mice, ants or cockroaches, smear a few drops of Peppermint oil along their path or point of entry to deter them.

· To kill aphids add 4-5 drops of Peppermint oil to 4 ounces of water and spray the plants.

· Drink a drop of Peppermint oil mixed in a glass of cold water to cool off on a hot day.

· Place a drop of Peppermint oil on the tongue to stop bad breath.

· Inhale the fragrance of Peppermint oil to curb the appetite and lessen the impulse to overeat.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Review for Struck, by Keith Pyeatt, reviewed by Aaron Paul Lazar

Title: Struck

Author: Keith Pyeatt

Publisher: Quest Books

Publisher Addresses:

ISBN number: 978-1935053-17-0

Price: $19.95

Publisher website: http://

The books I count among my favorites are those whose well-drawn characters linger with me for days, or even weeks. They are the stories that rise above the norm, whose scenes are painted with such skill that I feel a deep sense of place, and suffer a bit of separation anxiety when I approach the last page and realize it’s almost over. Struck, Keith Pyeatt’s debut paranormal thriller, was such a book.

It’s been two weeks since I finished the book, and Barry Andrews, Pyeatt’s protagonist, still haunts me. Barry’s life was preordained the minute his mother was struck by lightning when he lay curled in her womb. And when lightning finds him again at Albuquerque’s Petroglyph National Monument, a series of predestined events are put into motion. The energy now stored within this likeable young man stir powers unimagined.

Against a backdrop of ancient pueblo ruins, slumbering volcanoes that unpredictably awaken, and bizarre disturbances in Chaco Canyon, Pyeatt introduces characters with great depth and a subtle touch of humor. After being struck, Barry begins to notice bizarre effects. His palm, now marked by a symbol that pulses electric blue on occasion, helps him connect to other souls and carries messages to him about their sadness or fate. He knows when someone is about to die, and can help them peel the layers of pain away so they’re free to move on to the next world. Sleep eludes him, and while he stumbles through his job in a daze, strange sensations continue to build within him.

Inexplicably drawn to Native American tribal elder Walter, Barry is invited into his mystical world, from the village of Amitolita where Walter and his wife live, to kivas in the Amitole Pueblo, to ceremonies in a sweat lodge where sage is strewn across the floor and piñon-infused water is boiled to scatter on hot stones to create cleansing steam. Pyeatt’s writing style is easy to swallow, yet innovative with strong poetic influences.

“It only took a moment until he got the sensation of being folded into a deep mixture of past and present that carried him far away from the kiva, far away from his body. He was cocooned somewhere, safe and warm and dark, yet all around him dozens of individual battles raged. Barry only sensed them, but it was enough to recognize their struggles. Life fought death, winter resisted spring, and chaos tugged at order.”

The story plunges ahead, and we discover tribal elder Walter spent time training and working with Thomas Maguire, a browbeaten young man raised by a forceful, cruel grandfather. The tribal elder was driven to “prepare” this young man for a yet unnamed climatic event seen only in his spirit-visions, yet doubts have been mounting about the validity of Thomas as the earth’s savior. The future holds something monstrous and potent, and Walter realizes he plays an integral role in its outcome.

When a bizarre power transfer ceremony based on Anasazi’s ancient history drives supernatural powers into Thomas’s being, he gradually turns from a man with a tumultuous and fragile psyche who simply needs to be loved, into a monster. Walter reluctantly recognizes this, and transfers his focus to Barry, the true warrior he’s been waiting for all his life. Jealousy pushes Thomas further from his true nature, building inside him with an uncontrollable black force. Destiny calls for a showdown between Barry and Thomas, and the book rockets toward a surprising culmination.

Several of Pyeatt’s characters are gay, and the author paints them with professional, loving brush strokes. Barry’s sidekick Martin, an overweight waiter at Los Cuates Mexican restaurant, is diagnosed with a life threatening heart condition that leads to a torturous diet. Loveable and real, Martin becomes a clear favorite from the start and plays an important supporting role.

The story and characters are mesmerizing, but it was actually the writing that made me sit up and take notice:

“Pain pierced his lungs, as if the air he breathed had alchemized into something powdery and rough, toxic and thirsty. The agony spread. He couldn’t stop it. Every cell in his body pulled at the poison, needing it, expecting it to provide oxygen as before.”

See what I mean? Keith Pyeatt’s books are available through all bookstores, including, or purchase autographed copies via his website.


Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. The author of LeGarde Mysteries and Moore Mysteries savors the countryside in the Genesee Valley in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his websites at and and watch for Healey’s Cave, the debut book in the new paranormal Moore Mysteries series, coming in April 2010 from Twilight Times Books.

Double Forté is the founding book of the LeGarde Mystery series and was released in November, 2004. Upstaged followed in October, 2005. Lazar’s third, Tremolo: cry of the loon, was released via Twilight Times Books in November 2007. Mr. Lazar is currently working on his fourteenth book, Don’t Let the Wind Catch You. The fifth book in the LeGarde Mystery series, Firesong: an unholy grave, is scheduled for 2010 release. He is a regular columnist for FMAM (Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine), and has been published in Great Mystery and Suspense magazine and the Absolute Write Newsletter. Contact him at:, visit his Writer’s Digest Best 101 websites blog at,,, or stop by his websites at and

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wyoming Writes - Face to Face with Writers
copyright 2009 aaron paul lazar

You recognize this picture, right? Or at least the guy in it? That's because I'm all over the web, and co-owner of this blog. So I probably look a bit familiar.
But how many of us have met in person? Face to face? Breathing the same air?
My writerly life is full of people I adore, but most of them are a voice on the computer (or phone) and an image on my screen. I feel as if I know them intimately - at least my closest friends - and would be able to pick up a conversation in a snap if and when we meet in real life. I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting S.W. Vaughn at a book signing in Syracuse. We clicked immediately and I knew we would.
Of course these online friends are "real". And the fact that I don't get to physically meet with them is okay. But last night, for the first time in my writing life, I joined a Writers Group and went face to face with other writers.
I was very hesitant. I had no knowledge of their writing skills. Would they all be amateurs and ask me to critique their books? Not that there's ANYTHING wrong with amateurs. Heck, we all were amateurs at one point in our lives. And I do help fledgling writers all the time. But I knew in advance that I wouldn't be able to take on that kind of a work load. Hell, I have to turn down my online writer friends all the time. Would they ask me to read and review their books? As many of you know, I fit in just a few mysteries per year and struggle to get those reviews written up within 3-6 months. I wish I could do them all, but then I wouldn't be a writer, I'd be a reviewer. ;o)
On the other hand, this stupid brain of mine worried I that maybe they'd be all highbrow super academics who would look down on my mystery series. I'd read them a chapter from my WIP and they'd exchange looks of amused tolerance. Or worse. Tell me all the things they thought are horribly wrong with it. I'm open to critiques, but I was afraid of being ripped to shreds. Yeah, even after publishing four books, writing fourteen, and getting lots of great praise and reviews. I was still nervous. I don't think I'll ever outgrow the fear of being "exposed" as a horrible writer in front of academics. LOL.
Wayne, one of my old friends from Kodak showed up the other day. I hadn't seen him in ten years, and there he was on my doorstep. I was thrilled, as I'd been missing my old pals at Kodak more and more. Wayne's now a journalist for a local paper, and he urged me to attend the Wyoming Writes group as well as do an interview for his paper. He'd been wanting to check out the group himself, and thought he'd write an article about it for his paper.
So, with trepidation rolling around in my brain, I dressed up nice casual clothes and took off for Perry, New York. The bookstore where the group meets is called Burlingham Books. It's a beautiful little shop on what I call Main Street USA - a lovely historic village not far from Letchworth State Park. Wayne and I got there early, did the interview, and waited as folks started to arrive.
All my fears were completely ungrounded. The people - Tanya, Deb M, Deb S, Cindy, the Scribbler, Mr. Newton, and Wayne, were welcoming and supportive. They were mature writers who had stories and work to share. We listened to a chapter about a small country church, quirky poems, poems that painted luscious imagery, and a frank and hilarious opening to a book of memoirs. All were well done and simply delightful. I read the first chapter to Don't Let the Wind Catch You, and to my joy, the folks enjoyed it and wanted to know what happens next. :o) Always a nice sign!
After an hour of reading and sharing, we took a "field trip" to a local art gallery where a delightful assortment of paintings and watercolors were on display. We each chose a piece that "spoke" to us, and had fifteen minutes to write. On other writers' sites I've joined we called this flash fiction. You might call it postcard fiction. But whatever, it was a ball. When we were done, each writer shared his creation as we stood in front of the painting and listened. I've gotta tell you, these works were amazing.

My choice was a gorgeous watercolor. A blue vase with red/pink poppies and iris, by Sandra Tyler. This camera shot doesn't do it justice by any means, but it is truly vibrant and lustrous.

Here's what I wrote in my fifteen minutes. Now don't laugh, it's not polished or anything. And in spite of the beauty of the painting, my mind turned to mystery.

What else?

Blue with Flowers by Sandra Tyler

Celeste placed the vase on the table and dropped into the chair beside it. She’d picked her mother’s poppies before, but today was different. Today her mother lay – not in the cot beside her – but beneath the ground.

The salmon poppies were the color of her mother’s favorite sweater, a fuzzy number that
Celeste now wore, wrapped tight around her thin chest. She touched the fragile petals, and couldn’t help compare it with the feel of her mother’s soft cheeks. Cheeks that had sunk deeper and deeper against her bones in the past months. Cheeks that became concave, but which still cradled a smile when her mother’s thin lips curved into a ribbon of delight. Cheeks that Celeste now saw in the mirror, reflected back at her.

She’d inherited more than just her looks from her mother. Her stubborn nature, her love of cupcakes, and her passion for all things pink had clearly sprung from the genetic well that was Mom. Dad had given her the bright red hair. But not much else.

She wished he’d come to the funeral today. At least to make things look normal. Where was he? Off with on a dalliance with a rich bimbo? At the casino? Searching for more unwitting victims?
Celeste knew what had happened. She watched her mother eat the oatmeal every morning. The oatmeal her father had prepared. And she knew. She just knew there had been something in it. Something not right.

Being ten was hard. Especially when your father murdered your mother.

LOL. Okay, so there it is. But the point is, if you haven't joined an in person writers group, give it a try. I'm hooked and will be attending every month.

And always remember, if you love to write, write like the wind!


Mazurka, the fourth book in the LeGarde Mystery series is now available through the author, in special pre-release copies. Email him at for details.

Visit Twilight Times Books for special deals Oct 1 - Nov 15th.

This year is the 10th anniversary of the founding of Twilight Times Books (1999) and the 5th year since we went to print (2004). Those are significant milestones. In celebration, Twilight Times Books will have a print book sale from Oct. 1st to Nov. 15th. Most titles will be offered to the general public at a 10 - 30% discount. For a limited time, and while quantities last, we are offering a 30% - 50% discount on selected titles.

(one of the deals is: Buy Mazurka for $15.15 and get Tremolo for $10.15 (a 40% discount))

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Paradise, Part 3

copyright aaron paul lazar, 2009

As I’ve mentioned in the first two pieces on “Paradise,” my goal is to catalog the extraordinary experiences I’ve had since losing my job of twenty-eight years. Exploring that lustrous silver lining that comes with life traumas helps me stop feeling sorry for myself, so I’m doing my best to document things that never would have happened if I’d still been working at Kodak.

My engineering career was long and satisfying. Sadly, this week Kodak’s laying off another 20% of the few folks who are left in my old group. When my boss told me I was laid off last January, he said, “It’s the beginning of the end, Aaron.” I guess he was right. There are now less than 7,000 Kodak employees in Rochester, compared to the 60,000 that were there when I was hired in 1981. I’m struggling not to relive the unsettling feelings I experienced when it was my turn to be rejected. Er. I mean laid off. Of course, the actual term is “involuntary separation,” or “forced early retirement.” Except the powers to be messed with our retirement money when they sold us and bought us back from Heidelberg, so there’s no hope of actually retiring yet. God, I wish there were, with every fiber of my being. But such is life.

I hope to help my former colleagues as best I can in the weeks to come. Although I expected to have a great job by now, and to be able to bring in some of my former coworkers into the fold of a wonderful new company when they got the axe… Um… that hasn’t happened yet. But it will. So everyone tells me.

Frankly, I’m starting to wonder if anyone who’s 56 years old gets a good job. Sure doesn’t seem like it. And get this - I have more energy than both of my 24-year-old daughters put together, and dozens of productive years ahead of me. (Ahem. Any prospective employers listening?)

Okay, enough of this raving. The feelings are real, but it’s not very helpful to wallow.

If you remember, I introduced you to “Frank,” in Paradise Part 1, and “Bella” in Part 2. Today, in Part 3, I’m discussing a group of people who stole my heart. I plan to return to this magical place, frequently, when I retire for real.

(This photo was taken from an online collection. The expression on this man’s face is priceless!)

When I worked at Kodak I never had enough vacation. Much of it was spent taking family to doctors and trying to keep up with my gardens and chair caning business. Even five weeks a year didn’t cut it, so I never had time to take out to volunteer, though I’d always wanted to do it.

About a month ago my daughter invited me to volunteer at her summer job, a fine “day care” facility in Rochester, NY. I’m going to change the names of everyone – from the institution to the individuals – because I respect their privacy. I was honored to help out at this fine establishment that cares for and nurtures the artistic talents of disabled individuals.

Each year, this wonderful facility celebrates its clients by orchestrating a special “summer fest.” The theme this year was “Hollywood,” and each of the individuals was encouraged to dress up in costumes from Batman Costumes suits to Cinderella gowns. My job was to play “paparazzi” and take photos of them as they arrived via limo and walked down the red carpet we lovingly laid for them.

My heart leapt every time a new carload of people was delivered at the entrance. Whether they suffered from Down Syndrome, blindness, autism, muscular dystrophy, or a multitude of other conditions, they arrived dressed to the nines. Boas were flipped over saucy shoulders, bowties were straightened with pride, and hats were tilted in jaunty angles. The gals showed off prom gowns with sparkling tiaras, twirling around for the photos with such excitement that I couldn’t help cheer them on. The pride in their beautiful faces shone brighter than the sun that didn’t show up that morning.

Melanie introduced me to dozens of her “favorites,” and I fell for all of them. They displayed such innocence, pride, camaraderie, love of music/dance/art… they inspired the hell out of me and I honestly felt as if I’d made 50 new friends that day.

After a morning of helping out in the art, dance, and music rooms, we served lunch and helped carry trays for those who couldn’t manage. When everyone had feasted, we gathered for an assembly where awards were given out for most improved skills, and then various groups (blues band, musical theater, dance troupe, etc.) performed for their parents and the rest of us. Although I’ve witnessed many a performance in my day (thanks to Melanie’s love of theater and music), I must say I’ve never seen performers glow with such unparalleled pride.

I’ll tell you, after feeling a little sorry for myself because I haven’t found a job yet, the whole experience was humbling. Here were folks with what the rest of the world called “disabilities,” yet in their worlds, they hardly noticed. They had circles of friends, special sweethearts, and favorite teachers – just like in a “normal” school. And who the hell knows what normal is, anyway? Right?

I was privileged to meet Mona, a blind wheelchair-bound woman with speech difficulties. Yet this big hearted woman loves to sing, and asked Melanie every single day if she’d brought her guitar so they could go through their special playlist together. She held my hand when she sang her heart out, and her love of my dear daughter just about brought me to tears.

Then there was joyful Jordan, a young man crippled physically, but with a smile that warmed the room every time he entered, couldn’t wait to tell me how he played the drums. He was so proud of his skills that he practically burst.

Five or six teenaged girls with Down Syndrome all danced with their princess gowns, twirling around the dance hall with such abandon that I was reminded of prom night. There was no less joy, and certainly a lot less angst.

Tami wrote beautiful, sensitive poetry that broke my heart. We talked about writing, and I gave her some of my bookmarks. Thrilled to death, she asked about my books. I brought her a copy of one of my LeGarde Mysteries last week, and received one of the most enthusiastic hugs that I’ve had in a very long time.

Nahum wove lovely needlepoint on his quilting patches. I stared in amazement and complimented him on his skills. He received a special award for his hard work, and although he had to wheel up to the podium, he received thunderous applause from his peers.

Tony drew pictures so beautiful they sold for good money in local art venues. He loves to draw vertical strokes of mixed colors. I stood and stared at his work for a very long time. The subtle blends of hues were mesmerizing.

And Reggie, who never spoke before Melanie worked with him, insisted on saying “Hi,” and “Bye” when we left, tugging at her sleeve for attention. The enormity of the work she does with these people stunned and humbled me. Music therapy works, in ways I had never imagined.

This whole experience made me wish I could start all over, get a degree in therapy or social work, and devote my life to a cause much more meaningful than designing and testing high speed digital printers. If it weren’t for annoying things like paying for prescriptions and mortgages, I would do it in a heartbeat.

Maybe in my next life?


Preorder Aaron’s latest book, Mazurka, at Barnes and Noble for a significant discount!

Aaron Paul Lazar wasn’t always a mystery writer. It wasn’t until eight members of his family and friends died within five years that the urge to write became overwhelming. “When my father died, I lost it. I needed an outlet, and writing provided the kind of solace I couldn’t find elsewhere.”

Lazar created the Gus LeGarde mystery series, with the founding novel, DOUBLE FORTÉ (2004), a chilling winter mystery set in the Genesee Valley of upstate New York. Like Lazar’s father, protagonist Gus LeGarde is a classical music professor. Gus, a grandfather, gardener, chef, and nature lover, plays Chopin etudes to feed his soul and thinks of himself as a “Renaissance man caught in the 21st century.”

The creation of the series lent Lazar the comfort he sought, yet in the process, a new passion was unleashed. Obsessed with his parallel universe, he now lives, breathes, and dreams about his characters, and has written nine LeGarde mysteries in seven years. (UPSTAGED – 2005; TREMOLO:CRY OF THE LOON – 2007 Twilight Times Books; MAZURKA – 2009 Twilight Times Books, with more to come.)

One day while rototilling his gardens, Lazar unearthed a green cat’s eye marble, which prompted the new paranormal mystery series featuring Sam Moore, retired country doctor and zealous gardener. The green marble, a powerful talisman, connects all three of the books in the series, whisking Sam back in time to uncover his brother’s dreadful fate fifty years earlier. (HEALEY’S CAVE: A GREEN MARBLE MYSTERY, 2009; ONE POTATO, BLUE POTATO, 2010; FOR KEEPS, 2011) Lazar intends to continue both series.

Lazar’s books feature breathless chase scenes, nasty villains, and taut suspense, but are also intensely human stories, replete with kids, dogs, horses, food, romance, and humor. The author calls them, “country mysteries,” although reviewers have dubbed them “literary mysteries.”

“It seems as though every image ever impressed upon my brain finds its way into my work. Whether it’s the light dancing through stained-glass windows in a Parisian chapel, curly slate-green lichen covering a boulder at the edge of a pond in Maine, or hoarfrost dangling from a cherry tree branch in mid-winter, these images burrow into my memory cells. In time they bubble back, persistently itching, until they are poured out on the page.”

The author lives on a ridge overlooking the Genesee Valley in upstate New York with his wife, mother-in-law, and Cavipoo, Balto. Recent empty nesters, he and his wife are fixing up their 1811 antique home after twenty-five years of kid and puppy wear. He worked as an electrophotographic engineer at the Eastman Kodak Company, in Rochester, New York for 28 years, and plans to eventually retire to write full time.

Lazar maintains several websites and blogs, is the Gather Saturday Writing Essential host, writes his monthly “Seedlings” columns for the Voice in the Dark literary journal and the Future Mystery Anthology Magazine. He has been published in Absolute Write as well as The Great Mystery and Suspense Magazine. See excerpts and reviews here:

Contact him at