Friday, December 31, 2010

 copyright 2011 Aaron Paul Lazar

While we celebrate and ring in the new year, I'd like to thank each and every one of you for your support here on Murder by 4 and everywhere we happen to run into each other.

I often tell folks that my favorite part of being an author is connecting with my readers. It's the truth. I love you guys. And I'm humbled that my stories seem to inspire, comfort, thrill, or entertain. Armchair traveling can be a great escape, and let's face it, we all need a break sometimes, right?

I take great pleasure in the fact that you relate to Gus LeGarde, to Siegfried Marggrander, to Camille, and now to Sam and Rachel Moore. And for the first time in a long time, I might actually have one book of each series to give you in 2011, plus a few more books in my NEW series.

Yep. Another one. I know it's nuts, but I couldn't help myself. Having that laid-off year off between "day jobs" gave me the chance to get reacquainted with the Adirondacks, and to fall in love all over again with the majesty and beauty of the region. It was just natural that a new series based on the Sacandaga River, in Hope, NY, would be born. There are already two books under contract and scheduled for release in 2011/2012 in the new series featuring Marcella and Quinn Hollister, antique dealers from Honeoye, NY, whose lives spin out of control when secrets from the past catch up with them.

Up Next

The next book on the docket is FIRESONG, the novel that brings Gus LeGarde back to East Goodland to face some of the most tangled and baffling mysteries of his life.

The cover is done and I'm working on the final polish. Fingers crossed that we'll have it out in print soon.

Honors for Healey's Cave

"To Aaron Paul Lazar for Healey’s Cave. A mystery has never made my Nobel list before but this one deserves the description “literary mystery.” It’s been called “lush,” “lyrical,” and “absorbing.” It is a fine example of how genre fiction can cross the line from entertaining to fine art."                                                                                      - Carolyn Howard Johnson


I don't enter many writing contests. I know, I know. I probably should. But all these extranneous things I do for promotion or awards take away from writing time, and it kills me. I need to write. I need time with the characters in my parallel universe(s). So I avoid the stuff other than pure writing more than I should.

This year, though, at some prodding from my publisher, I sent out HEALEY'S CAVE to a few places. It seems they liked it. ;o) The book made it to the top two finalists for the Allbooks Editor's Choice Awards Mystery category. The winner will be announced in January.

I'm pleased to say award-winning Carolyn Howard Johnson also seemed to like the book, and picked it for one of her top choices for her Back to Literature column 2010 on the site.

Thanks to Allbooks and Carolyn Howard Johnson for these honors.

Coming Soon - the second Moore Mystery

The next Moore Mystery has been titled. It's called TERROR COMES KNOCKING  and was named by a great friend and supporter of my books. Thanks to Don Harman, from Charlotte, North Carolina, for suggesting the title. TERROR COMES KNOCKING puts Sam and Rachel Moore through more heartstopping trials. The green marble is back, Billy hasn't gone off to visit the angels yet, and daughter Beth goes missing. It should be out in 2011, as long as I continue to make good progress on the final polish. You can read an excerpt from it soon. Stay tuned to the website devoted to Sam and Rachel, at

Introducing Tall Pines Mysteries

Two new mysteries are due in print in 2011/2012 - FOR THE BIRDS and ESSENTIALLY YOURS. These mysteries are set in the gorgeous Adirondack Mountains, and have just a touch of the paranormal entwined in the plots. They're full of humor, nature, terror, and I've been told they're a little bit sexy. For the first time in my life, I'm telling a story from a woman's POV! Hey, I figured it would make me a better writer.  And it's good to get inside a woman's mind once in a while. Or so my wife tells me.

Stay tuned for more about this new contemporary series. I think you'll like it!

Call for Beta Readers

Got time? Like to read? Have an eagle eye?

Does it drive you nuts when you spot an error in a finished book?

Me, too. But it's nearly impossible for me to catch all my own errors without the help of my Beta Readers. My brain just integrates the words into what they're supposed to say, and I miss mistakes all the time. Plus there are those little inconsistencies that drive me insane. Like when I left the duct tape on Billy Moore's mouth in one scene, and he started talking in the next. Or like the time I called Sam "Gus" in Healey's Cave. Gheesh.

I could use some help. I'm looking for the average reader who can breeze through my books in efile format, find the occasional typo or inconsistency, and get the manuscript back to me within a month or so. In return, you'll get your name in the acknowledgements and a free copy when it comes out.

Interested? Email me so we can see if you fit the profile!

New Q&A - Ask the Author!

Ever wonder where writers get their ideas? Where I came up with Siegfried? Why he's German? How I seemed to know a bit about Paris or Vienna? How my grandkids model the children for my series? How big my real gardens are?

Now you can find out! Just email me at Next issue, I'll pick a few questions to answer in this newsletter. Maybe it will be yours!

Since it's the season of giving...

I meant to make a special offer on books before the holiday season flew by. But I guess I had a pretty good excuse for not getting to it sooner - my eldest daughter just tied the knot with our new son-in-law, Geoffrey Hall on the night before Thanksgiving. That weekend, daughter Melanie accepted a proposal from new fiance' Jay Carbonneau, and shortly thereafter, Allison said yes to her honey, Jason Wolfanger. Life has been hopping!

So, in celebration of my three daughters finding their soulmates and agreeing to a lifetime together, I'd like to offer a book deal I've never done before.

BUY ONE BOOK, get the next FREE.

That goes for DOUBLE FORTE', UPSTAGED, TREMOLO, MAZURKA, AND HEALEY'S CAVE. This is a one time deal that I don't intend to repeat any time soon. So if you have Christmas money that's burning a hole in your pockets, or want to get started collected birthday gifts for family while the price is hot, email me and we'll get this done!

Happy New Year!

email: aaron dot lazar at yahoo dot com

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas on a Shoestring Budget


Here we are, just a few weeks from Christmas. I've just returned home from a five day business trip in freezing cold Kentucky and Virginia. Although I had envisioned balmy temps in the 40s, it wasn't so bad. I'm a cold-hearty Northerner, and my friends call me Nanuk of the North 'cause I walk outside no matter how frigid it is. The southern field mice actually decided it was too cold to live outdoors while I was there, however, and one of them greeted me in a hotel bathtub. Quite a sight! It was actually twenty degrees colder down south than it was in Rochester, New York on Tuesday. While it was a good trip from a business point of view, and I did finish the edits on my second Tall Pines mystery in the "down" time, I lost a whole week getting ready for Christmas.

The day after I arrived home, my wife's two brothers called to say they'd be arriving a day early for their four day visit. I love seeing them, and I'm glad they came early to avoid a storm that's been forecast, but I wasn't ready for them, either! I hadn't cleaned, shopped, or planned the menus. 

My son-in-law saved the day by doing the cleaning. Phew. So, off I went to Aldi's, Walmart, and Wegmans (I shop the cheapest place first, then move to my favorite more expensive store last for the real gourmet goodies. I LOVE Wegmans!) to buy stuff for my cooking adventures. 

One of the dishes I made was Sonia Martinez's Fricase de Pollo Estilo Cubano (Cuban Style Chicken Fricase - actually very easy - a one pot meal) with a side salad inspired by travels last week. I chopped cooked beets mixed with a balsamic glaze, set on a bed of finely chopped fennel. Mmm. A new favorite. And now as I write this, I'm kicking myself for not taking a picture of it. Anyway, here's the main dish, and if you want a copy of the recipe, just let me know. Sonia shared this and others on Gather a few years ago (her mother's recipe!) and my family has enjoyed it often.

So while I've been virtually busy as a bumbling bee, I don't have any presents ready, no Christmas lights up, and haven't done Christmas cards for the zillionth year in a row. I did manage to buy a teensy little tree while shopping at Wegmans the other day - a small Austrian pine that we can plant next spring when it's warmer. It's still not decorated. Sigh.

My family decided that this year, since the economy's so bad and we're all pretty darned broke, we'd do handmade gifts all around. Actually, it was little Gordie's idea - he is such a sweetheart. Only seven, he realizes the importance of putting thought into gifts. We all jumped at the idea. Okay, I'll admit finding the time to do it is tough, but the benefits are huge.
So, in the spirit of Kim Smith's article on great gift ideas for writers, here are some ideas that writers and or other creative types might like to consider making for their loved ones. All you need is a printer, some paper, and plenty of ink!

A Family Recipe Book 
 We're creating custom books for each of our three daughters. Thankfully, I don't think they read my blogs, so hopefully they'll be surprised! 

I think everyone has the blogging blues, like Marta mentioned this week. In her article, she referenced always giving something back when you blog, so I thought I'd share this with you.

Here's what my wife and I are doing - we've collected up all of the family favorites, whether they be written on old frayed recipe cards or scraps of paper. We scanned them, including some from the girls' great grandmothers. My wife has written special notes to each child on some of the printouts, referring to memories she has about the traditions that went with the food. I've thankfully taken lots of pictures of our tables laden with goodies over the years, so I'm mixing and matching these with the recipes. 
The neat thing is you can write little stories or poems for each occasion, if you wish, using your creative side while creating an heirloom that your children will hopefully cherish and add to over the years. 

Here's a sample page. Some are just plain old black and white copies - they're not all this fancy. But it's the recipes that matter, right?
After printing out each recipe, I'm putting them in transparent sleeves and storing them in colorful binders with extra sleeves at the end so they can add to them over the years.

Here are a few more ideas for your creative spirits:

For my grandsons, I'm making special books as well. Julian is getting a "story of my life" picture book, where I'll use the same concept as above. Print out photos from his baby years and up, and write little stories beside them telling about our history together. 

Gordie is enamored with Spanish this year. So he's getting a "Spanish" book. I'll print out pictures of various objects with the English and Spanish words above and below. He's just barely reading English now (he's only 7) but he really loves this stuff, so he should be thrilled. 

Here are some more cool ideas:

Homemade Story Books

When you're sitting around with your kids or grandkids and making up stories (come on, I know you do!), type them up either on the fly or later in the day. Keep them in a file all year long, then at Christmas, print them out with some cool graphics or hand drawn designs. 

Special Letters

Buy some of that cool purplish blue construction paper and a silver flair pen. Write Christmas messages to each of your loved ones, mentioning a special event or memory you share. Tell them how much you love them and why you love them. They'll cherish this forever!


If you are totally broke - this one is a big hit with kids. At least in my house, where we have four kids to five adults. They're always clamoring for special "one-on-one" time with the adults. Hand print "coupons" where you pledge special time to cash in later - for example: "one half hour of playing in the snow," or "a special trip to the library, just you and me." Give each child a dozen or so coupons that they can cash in later. But remember - unless you're in the middle of dinner or driving them to school or something, don't refuse them if it's not convenient for you. You must drop everything and give the gift when they ask!
I think this is the best present of all, and it doesn't have to be just for children. You can set aside some special time for your honey - offer them a back rub or foot rub, a special winter picnic, or something that will warm their hearts. After all, the gift of your time is far more precious than spending a ton of money on STUFF. Who really needs more things, anyway? All of those material gifts go by the wayside in a year or two. Well, unless your giving expensive jewelry or something like that. (not my style, LOL) But a handmade gift that is laced with your love and special thoughts will be saved and treasured forever. 

So stop the frantic shopping, get out of those blasted malls, come home armed with a few crafty things, and sit before the fire with a cup of hot chocolate so you can create something beautiful for your loved ones!

A very merry Christmas and holiday wishes to all!

Aaron Paul Lazar

P.S. If you're not crafty and you just can't think of anything to make, and you want to contribute to my paper and ink fund, then buy your family wholesome, heart thumping mysteries. Books are great gifts! Here's the link to LeGarde Mysteries - just follow the left pane down the page and you'll see them all! If you want copies autographed, email me at aaron dot lazar at yahoo dot com and we'll get it done in time for Christmas!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I'm Thankful for.... Nature and its Bounty.

Savor the Moment: inspiration for writers
copyright, Aaron Paul Lazar 2010

It’s the last week of November. Winter has already stretched tentative tendrils toward us, chilling the evenings to icy temps and drenching the mornings with heavy dew. Today, as I rounded the top of a hill overlooking the valley, my breath caught in my throat. Before me lay the snaking path of the Genesee River, previously hidden from casual view behind fields and woods. Nebulous clouds of fog hovered above, revealing the river route that quietly meanders out of sight most of the year.

My soul exploded with a sensation of splendor best described by the Japanese philosophy, wabi sabi*. This was indeed a wabi sabi moment, a fraction of time linking nature and man, steeped in intense sensual beauty…so full of wonder it transports you to a moment of spiritual enlightenment.

In addition to the vapor-bound river, the countryside lay punctuated with farmers’ ponds, exposed via banks of fog steaming overhead. Normally hidden by tall fields of grass or corn, the wisps of moisture called attention to the quiet shallows, home to frogs and watering holes for livestock.

Stunned by the beauty, invigorated beyond belief, I continued on the drive that I’d taken thousands of times before. Heading north on River Road, whispers of “Thank you, God,” floated in my brain. Still and amorphous, the words vibrated in syncopation with stirring grasses.

Once again, nature presented a feast so lovely I choked with emotion. There, to the east, clusters of tall grass waved in the sunlight with heavy heads bowed under the weight of soaking dew, their curvatures swan-like as they moved in glistening silence.

The ephemeral nature of this phenomenon is part of the allure. That precise moment of intense immersion, that amazing connection with nature, will never repeat. The sun's rays may not hit the grass with exactly the same angle or intensity. The grass will change tomorrow, perhaps drier, taller, or shorn. This transient moment of staggering beauty must be absorbed and cherished.

What path do writers take to experience this? How do they open the channels in the brain that might have been content to listen to Haydn’s 19th Symphony in C Major, but blind to nature’s offerings? (this was playing on the radio when I delighted in these visions today.)

First of all, one must be a “visualist.” That isn’t a real word, but it describes what I mean. A person who is stunned by physical natural beauty (certainly not at the exclusion of aural, tactile, or emotional stimuli) possesses visual aqueducts to the world through his or her eyes. Infinitesimal flashes of stunning images move him beyond belief. These impressions are captured in his mind’s eye, never to be lost, forever to be savored. And often, when this type of writer is creating, they see the “movie in their mind,” pressing from within, allowing readers to feel intimate and involved in a scene.

What type of a reader are you? Do you soak up scenes written by others? Imagine them for days on end? Find choice gems of passages that affect you for life? Do you want your readers to feel this way about your own prose?

It is this deeply felt appreciation for nature, for life, for wonder, that promotes a good writer to potential majesty. Perhaps not to best-seller status – that illusory fate is in the hands of a publishing industry often not tuned into art, but focused solely on profit. Try to ignore that aspect when you are creating your next masterpiece. In time, if the stars are aligned and you achieve this pinnacle of greatness, it may happen.

Open your eyes. Reel it in. Absorb the beauty around you, whether it is the flash of love in an old woman’s eye, or the fragile petal of a tiny orange cinquefoil. Allow yourself to be in that moment, record it in your soul, and play it back for your readers for the ultimate connection.

And be ever so grateful... for this life of ours is a gift. Don't waste it!

* Wabi Sabi for Writers, by Richard Powell, Adams Media.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Book Title - Voting Results!

Last week we talked about how hard it is to come up with an original book title that hasn't already been used by a hundred authors. I spent a day perusing American phrases, and made a list I thought was original and pretty exciting.

It was only when I did Amazon searches on them to be sure they hadn't been used before that I was knocked down a few pegs - almost all of them had been used, countless times, and by some very famous authors like Agatha Christie and Fyodor Doestoevsky.

What instigated this new title search was a request from my publisher, Lida Quillen. She thinks my original title doesn't quite match the excitement level in my second Moore Mystery (sequel to HEALEY'S CAVE), and so she asked me to come up with some options.

One tip she provided was not to worry about a previously used title. Of course, titles aren't copyrighted, so anyone can use any existing title. And what would differentiate this book, is the subtitle "A Sam Moore Mystery."

I asked my readers, friends, and anyone who was interested to vote on my short list. Here are the results:

  • Cat Among the Pigeons   46
  • Dying to Meet You            32
  • Snake in the Grass           28
  • Dark Horse                       28
  • Paper Tigress                   25
  • The Bluff                           23
  • Terror on the Hill               19

There were a few votes here and there for the other titles, but they didn't make the grade, so I left them off.

Now, there were also some "write-ins" on this poll! Quite a few folks had suggestions, and I wanted to thank them by showing them here:

  • Terror Comes Knocking                Don H.
  • With Cat's Eyes                            Karen F.
  • A Time of Terror                            Mary E.
  • Regards                                        Ginny S.
  • Inquest at the Pyramid's Eye        Jeni E. 
  • Inside the Cat's Eye                     Anita S.
  • All That and Something Moore    Wesley W.
  • Dark Terror                                   Angela A.
  • Dark Talisman                              Angela A.
  • Pigeon Among the Cats               Greg S.
  • I Almost Cried                              anonymous
  • Stranger Within                            Larry H.

Aren't they great? We have some creative people who took this poll!

So, Cat Among the Pigeons was by far the favorite (I love it, too!), with actually tons of votes for most of the other choices.

But as I mentioned last week, my publisher has the last word. She's pondered both lists - yes, I sent your suggestions to her! And guess what?

It's a tie!

As I write this, she's still deciding between Cat Among the Pigeons and Terror Comes Knocking, submitted by Don Harman from Charlotte, North Carolina. She wants to take her time to reflect on it, and will let me know when she's ready to announce the next title.

You never know, do you? When I started this list, I really loved Snake in the Grass and Dark Horse, but now I'm open to whatever she chooses. After all, she's been in the business a lot longer than me.

Thanks everyone, for participating, and have a great Sunday!

- Aaron Paul Lazar

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lida Quillen, of Twilight Times Books, informed me last week that she wants to put out three of my books next year. There's no problem having enough material, I still have about seven books waiting in the wings. I was planning on two possible releases, but whoa...three! I have lots of work ahead of me!

One of the books is scheduled for second quarter 2011. One Potato, Blue Potato (long story goes with this title, but it does match the storyline) is the sequel to Healey's Cave (2010). Only problem is, Ms. Quillen believes the story is much more exciting than the title warrants. So, time to come up with a new one.

Wanna help?

Here's the synopsis, then I'll tell you what I went through yesterday to come up with a lovely independent list of great selections that went bad when I did some Amazon searches...

Sam’s daughter Beth has been unreachable for several days. Something is seriously wrong, and the Moores don't know where to turn for help. No ransom note comes, no kidnapper calls. When Zafina Azziz, Beth’s roommate and NYU Medical student, arrives on Sam’s doorstep worried about Beth, they realize it’s time to call the FBI.

In the midst of the investigation, Zafina’s larger than life personality wows Sam’s wife, Rachel, and when Hashim Azziz arrives on the scene, she welcomes both siblings to her home. But Sam thinks there’s something wrong about the woman who slinks around like an Egyptian princess with her cat eyes and strange ways.

The Moores unravel with worry as the green marble, a talisman connected to Sam’s dead brother Billy, thrusts Sam between past and present. When Sam's friend, Senator Bruce MacDonald, is tapped for the Presidential nomination, the town goes berserk preparing to welcome the sitting President to the opening of a new arts center.

But all is not well in the small village. A bomb explodes in the back of Yasir Khoury's Dry Cleaners, escalating fears of terrorism and anti-Iraqi bigotry. As Sam fights the tide that threatens to sweep his missing daughter away, he discovers a shocking link between Beth and the terrorists, then dives head first into the melee to avert a calamity that could rival the 911 disaster.

Okay, so this should give you some of the theme ideas. A threatened President, a missing daughter, anti-Iraqi sentiments, shocking surprises... and more, all set in the beautiful countryside of the Genesee Valley in the Finger Lakes region of NY.

I went through a phrase list yesterday, with common sayings and their origin, and came up with this list. I was quite pleased with myself, thinking how original and exciting some of these titles were. Much to my chagrin, I discovered - as we all well know - that there are hardly any "new" ideas, including titles, and that almost every one of them had been used many times in fiction (and non-fiction, which I didn't count!).

Bold as Brass
Bombs Awa
Clean Sweep
Cat Among the Pigeons
Crack of Doom
Cry Havoc
Dark Horse
Eleventh Hour
Eye for an Eye
Fair Game
Finding Beth
Feeding Frenzy
Flushing Fletcher Biddle
Fletcher Biddle’s Bluff
Forbidden Fruit
Friendly Fire
Hell for Leather
Hell or High Water
Home to Roost
Insult to Injury
Loose Cannon
Midnight Oil
Multitude of Sins
Paper Tiger
Paper Tigress
Passing Muster
Pound of Flesh
Prima Donna
Save the President
Score to Settle
Second Nature
Snake in the Grass
Terror on the Hill
Terrorist in the Family
The Gauntlet
The Horse’s Mouth
To the Quick
Tooth and Nail
Touch and Go
Wages of Sin
Zafina’s Revenge

Since I created this list, I sent it to my publisher to get her first reaction. I wanted to know if any titles stood out to her, or if she hated any of them, too. She gave me a list to eliminate.

A friend suggested, "Dying to Meet You." (Thanks, Sonya!) And I came up with a few more since the original effort. I culled the list, eliminated the really famous ones (Agatha Christie and Doestoevsky!), and now have a short list I'd like you to vote on. UPDATE - my publisher says it's okay to go with these, too! I've added "Cat Among the Pigeons" to the short list.

By the way, my publisher also said it didn't matter if the titles were used before, and not to discredit any just because of that. Since we'll follow it with "A Sam Moore Mystery' as a subtitle, it will be unique, in the end. ;o)

Here's my short list.
Dark Horse
Dying to Meet You
Paper Tigress
Prima Donna
She's Missing
Snake in the Grass
Terror on the Hill
The Bluff
Cat Among The Pigeons

Vote for your top three names. Include them in the comments below, or email me at if you'd rather not vote in public.

Thanks in advance for your vote!

- Aaron Paul Lazar

Thursday, September 30, 2010

copyright Aaron Paul Lazar 2010

What motivates you to write?

Is it a yearning to connect with humankind? To share your cherished visions with readers? To breach that lonely cold gap stretching between souls? To reach into someone’s heart, and really, truly make a difference?

Or do you simply write for yourself? Do you need to control a parallel universe that performs at your command, whose heroes are vivid and alive in your brain, and whose villains bow to your will? Is your own life so out of control that this writing thing, this whirling, compelling, demanding art form does wonders as a coping strategy?

Maybe you don’t care if your books ever get published; you just need to satisfy that inner drive to write. It itches until you scratch it, lures you like a lover, and enslaves you like a drug. And it’s very unforgiving. If you don’t get your daily fix, you get grumpy. Supremely grumpy.

Some write to purge demons from a childhood trauma, or to escape painful reality. Others create romantic relationships that fill emptiness in their own life, or invent critters to help heal the ache after losing a beloved pet. Some imagine bizarre aliens in a world so unlike ours that tantalizing characters and stories are born into new galaxies. And there are those who create scenes with characters strangely like their dear departed grandparents.

Writing can be comforting, thrilling, romantic, and scary.

But under no circumstances should you write simply to sell a book. That kind of motivation will only disappoint you, and writing for money is often a surefire way to guarantee disappointment. Instead, write from your heart. Write to soothe your spirit. Write to instill order in a chaotic world. Write to entertain, to create twisted plots that electrify or shock. But don’t write just to sell. Because in the end, you may be selling your writer’s soul.

Let’s say you’ve written your heart out. You’ve pumped out a few great books. Suddenly you go dry. What motivates you now?

Look around you. The world is crammed with topics. Watch your favorite movies. Dissect them, list the ideas that stir your imagination, and make an inventory of your favorite themes. Is it unrequited love? Time travel? Gentle giants falsely accused? Delicious twists that shock and surprise? Spunky lady cops who save the day? Heroic animals? Fantastical fairies? Gritty city secrets?

Keep your ears open. Listen to news stories. The often unfathomable, sometimes horrific accounts will stir your creative juices. Imagine a twist on them. Then twist it again and change its literary color or scent. Don’t worry if it’s been done before. Just put your mark on it and write it with passion.

Tune in to real life dramas at work, church, or school. Think about your friend whose wife died from a rare complication of a cardiac virus, your cousin who suffers from depression, your daughter whose college boyfriend from Albania is suddenly deported. Real life is fertile and rich. It’s full of angst, splendor, terror, and adventure. It offers a mosaic of ideas, and waits for you to pluck your new favorites to mix and match into a dynamic storyline.

Last of all: read, particularly from your genre. Read incessantly. Read in the grocery store line. Read at the doctors. Read at the Laundromat. Read while you wait for the kids after soccer practice. Read before you go to sleep at night. It’s not only the best way to charge up your imagination. Sitting at the virtual feet of the masters of the craft is the best way to learn to write.

Life is full of material. Sometimes the hardest part is choosing your themes. Pick a few, and toss them around to coat them with new variations. Make your time traveler a dog, instead of a boy. Put an alien in your tear jerker romance. Create cute little cockroaches instead of bunnies in your children’s book. Or stick to cliché themes, but shake your own writer’s salt on it. Mix up your hat full of ideas and see what falls out.

It’s all up to you. Now go get ‘em.


Aaron Paul Lazar




MAZURKA (2009)





FOR KEEPS (2012)

Preditors&Editors Top 10 Finalist * Yolanda Renee's Top Ten Books 2008 * MYSHELF Top Ten Reads 2008 * Writers' Digest Top 101 Website Award 2009 & 2010

Poll: 2010-09 Most Intriguing Trailer

Would you consider checking out this book trailer contest for Healey's Cave? If you think it's the best, please consider casting your vote for it.

Thanks in advance. ;o)

Poll: 2010-09 Most Intriguing Trailer

Friday, September 24, 2010

Title:  A Stranger Like You
Author:  Elizabeth Brundage
Publisher: Viking Adult (August 5, 2010)
Genre: Literary Mystery/Thriller, 272 pages
Publisher's Address: Penguin Group USA, 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN number:  9780670022007
Price: $25.95 (hardcover)
Publisher website address:
Author’s personal website:


Hugh Waters: Bad marriage. Boring life. Bottled dreams, now smashed. Big problem.

Denny Rios: Unloved child. Unraveling psyche. Unsung hero.

Hedda Chase: Privileged. Powerful. Professional. Pitiful.

When Hugh Waters, insurance agent, takes a screenwriting class and miraculously sells his salacious thriller to Hollywood, his drab and unhappy life takes on sudden meaning. But when a Hollywood executive dies, the successor, Ivy Leaguer Hedda Chase, denounces the script as chauvinistic and unbelievable, resulting in a cancelled contract for Hugh.

Hugh snaps, flies to LA, and stalks Hedda with a vague plan to convince her she’s wrong about his story. Instead, with no qualms and with the calculating, level-headed insanity of a true sociopath, he submits her to the same quandary the character in his film endures, to prove that his plot is plausible. Hedda is locked in the trunk of her vintage BMW and abandoned at the airport, keys dangling in the ignition.

On another path, Iraq war veteran Denny Rios, pushed and berated by a group of decadent soldiers, was forced to half-heartedly join in the horrific rape of a young Iraqi girl when on duty overseas. Haunted by the experience, sickened by guilt, never free of the girl’s face in his nightmares, Denny flees when the cops approach his aunt and uncle’s home and steals the car with Hedda still bound and gagged in the trunk.

I know, it’s an intriguing plot. But it’s not the storyline that captivated me in this novel. It’s more the Dostoevsky-like telling of the tale.

Although A Stranger Like You is billed as a mystery/thriller, I’d prefer to see it classified as literary psychological fiction. The “literary” tag comes from the pure poetry that infiltrates Brundage’s well-written prose.

As a boy, he’d gone to the Jersey shore in summertime, but this was the Pacific. There was something about this ocean. In the distance, the air looked brown, like an old-fashioned sepia print, the water copper in the sunlight. The sea was calm, the air smelled of fish. Savage birds dove and fought.

Here’s another passage:

They would smoke pot and make love, her skin the impenitent green of old bay leaves, her nipples like the smudged rubber thimbles of a bookkeeper, and then she’d make him tea with mint that she grew on her windowsill. Compared to his wife, Jolene was easily satisfied, uninhibited about her nakedness, her smells, her moody breath. She moved with the unhindered heft of a wrestler…

Brundage showcases very long and winding passages that contain little dialog or action, aside from the running stream-of-consciousness thoughts of each character. Layered over and between each other, these passages of inner thoughts, often told in present tense, second person, lend kaleidoscopic views to the story, hopping back and forth through time and focusing on the unique angle seen by each character. It’s the use of second person (“you” POV) that brings the intimacy to these segments.

Death is something you fear, and you can never gauge its proximity. Sometimes you sense it encroaching upon you like some thief in the night, looking into your windows. Sometimes you lay in bed, brittle, waiting for evil to find you. Images sprawl through your mind, arbitrary scraps of terror that have become all too ordinary. To some degree, you have been nurtured on fear.

Here’s another:

Maybe you are just tired after the long flight, but you feel conspicuous, profoundly aware of your middle class American roots, drawing attention to yourself as only an American can, in your schlumpy sweat suit, your clunky bag of indispensables (vitamins, pills, and medications for any possible problem, dental floss, makeup, Tampax, Nikes, your favorite Patagonia cap), and the way you move, with carbonated overflow, in comparison to the serene aerodynamics of the locals. As a female, you are sensitive to the feverish curiosity of strangers. Their eyes coat your body like paint.

Of course, there’s suspense that draws the reader to the finale. We need to know what happens to Hedda Chase, locked in the trunk of that blue BMW. But it’s the intense character profiles and the disturbing intimate lives we glimpse through Brundage’s unique approach that were most riveting.

Following are some favorite lines from A Stranger Like You:

He didn’t tell them the stars were like the teeth of the dead.

He carried the stories around in his pockets, in his fists, like stones.

Doubt is your compass.


…Sunrise like the smeared rouge on a whore.


A bruise floats over his eye like a jellyfish.

Brundage digs deep inside her characters’ heads. In addition to the primary characters above, we peek inside the lives of a disillusioned screenwriter (Tom Foster), an escaped and ill-fated Iraqi student (Fatima), and a young homeless waif of a girl (Daisy). All of Brundage’s well-rounded characters play to an unusual backdrop of a seedy vision of Hollywood interwoven with images of the war in Iraq, told through Denny’s thoughts.

This is not a fast read. It’s not a Patterson, or Hoag, or a quick thrill ride that you’ll devour in one sitting. It’s a study in human nature, and you’ll have to work your way through it. But I guarantee, you’ll enjoy the ride. The characters–all who move masterfully through their arcs of development–will haunt you long after you finish A Stranger Like You.


Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. The author of LeGarde Mysteries and Moore Mysteries enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Watch for his upcoming release, FIRESONG, coming in 2011.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

FREEBIES: Clever Marketing or Foolish Folly?

I’ll never forget the article I read on giveaways, written by a successful author who’d climbed his way to the top with sheer sweat and brains. Well, to be honest, I can’t remember his name, but I’ll never forget his advice. He recommended that every author give away tons of books to spread the word. Of course, this is if you haven’t already landed a publisher with deep pockets who’s promoting the hell out of your work.

Some folks recoil with horror when they hear this. “After all I’ve gone through to GET here? After all that agony of rejection after rejection? After finally getting into a good publishing house? After the years I’ve spent perfecting this book? And the years beyond I waited for it to come to print? And ESPECIALLY since I only make a ridiculously tiny profit on each book? You want me to give them away? Doesn’t that invalidate the whole thing?”

No. It doesn’t. It helps grow your readership.

I’ve given away quite a few books in the past five years. To friends who helped with the books, to the gals in the dentists office, to friends’ grandmothers who had no money but loved mysteries, to the English teacher I met in Monroe Muffler who taught grammar for twenty years… I give many away on impulse and quite a few more with careful planning.

But the author who wrote said article would encourage you to buy at least 350 copies and strategically give them all away.

He suggested donating a book to every single person in your life who likes to read. And to those who don’t, or who have spouses who do. To doctor’s offices, to the local fire department, to hospitals, friends of friends… you name it.

Of course, we’re talking big bucks here. Three hundred copies of a typical $17.00 trade paperback could cost an author almost three grand, if he gets a good discount from his publisher. Three thousand dollars! That’s more than many small press authors make on one release.

Sadly, I never got to the point where I followed this fellow’s advice, but I still impulsively give my books away all the time. The way he explained it, and the way I figure it, nobody ever bought a book by an author they don’t know, or that wasn’t written up with glowing of accolades in major publications. So let them read your stuff, fall for it, and maybe they’ll buy your other books, too.

I ran across another blog this week that touted the same principles, but using eBooks instead of print books. Much less outlay was required by the author and publisher, and a great deal of savvy marketing was involved in the whole process. You can read this brilliant article by J.A. Konrath, here.

As luck would have it, I’ve recently seen a few examples of how this works.

When I was hired into my new firm in June, I wanted my coworkers to know me. To really know me. And you can’t do that unless you read my books. I’m not just the friendly guy who loves his family, smiles a lot, is willing to help at the drop of a hat, who sometimes might even seem a little too nice. There’s the real me, the guy who writes all the time, who loves nature to the extreme, who harbors fears, who’s been through hell and back, more than once.

In order to do this, I signed over a copy of Double Forté to my colleague and to my boss and his wife, who both work there. Then, I brought one copy of each of the rest of my books into the office and set them on a shelf, plus sent a duplicate set to Germany to our R&D team, for the members who read English fiction. “Help yourself,” I said. “These are for you and your friends.”

I was thrilled when Bill brought home the books for his elderly mother, who reads 3-4 books a week. She loved the first one. Said she devoured the second. And so on. Within a week and a half, she’d read them all. The other day, she told her son she wanted her own copies of each of them – she’s buying all five books. Neat, huh?

I never expect anything back when I give away books. To be honest, I love sharing what’s inside me with these people. Maybe it’s a latent case of needing to feel loved and validated. But a tiny part of me hopes that maybe someday, the mother of the brother of the gal who works in the dentist might know the son of the Hollywood producer who hears about and then reads my stuff; then realizes the potential he holds in his hands for a blockbuster movie series. ;o)

Okay, so we can all dream. Right?

I can’t be too specific about this next instance, because I promised not to tell that I received something phenomenal for free. But after donating several years of my time to an online writers group (managing submissions, mentoring, teaching and donating about 3-4 hours a week before I pooped out), I was given the equivalent of many hundreds of dollars of free promo for my newest book, Healey’s Cave, without even asking.

Wow. What goes around comes around, and all that. ;o) Nice to know it can still be true!

Next time you grow pale and shudder at the idea of giving away your books, think again. Or rather, if you have some on hand, don’t think. Just do it. You never know what will come of it. And if nothing tangible comes your way, at least you had the joy of sharing with another human being. Right?

Don’t forget to take pleasure in the little things… and write like the wind!

                                                                                            - Aaron

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. The author of LeGarde Mysteries and Moore Mysteries enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his websites at and and watch for his upcoming release, FIRESONG, coming Winter, 2010.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sam Moore Speaks

Would you like to get to know a character, even before you read his book?

I've recorded some of Sam Moore's most intimate and tortured thoughts in this video. It's not really a normal video, but the only way to get audio on YouTube or other sites is to put a jpeg image behind it and save it as a movie file. ;o) Took me all day to figure that out - shows you how bright I am. And I didn't want to make it into a book trailer, for Heaven's sake. I already have one of those!
Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Sam Moore is a retired country doctor in the new paranormal mystery series, Moore Mysteries. The first book comes out soon, (August 28th), and you can pre-order it here if you're so inclined to save a good chunk of change!

Here's a look at the synopsis, in case you'd like to see it:

Sam Moore's little brother vanished fifty years ago. No body. No answers. What Sam has is a boatload of guilt, since he failed to accompany Billy on his final, fateful bike ride.

While digging in his garden, Sam discovers a green marble with a startling secret—it whisks him back to his childhood, connecting him to Billy. Thrust back and forth through time, Sam struggles to unlock the secret of his brother’s fate.

When the FBI investigates remains found nearby, Sam learns of a serial killer with a grisly fifty-year record. Sam’s certain it’s Billy’s killer. But what’s worse, his grandson fits the profile of the murdered boys. Will the killer return to Sam’s town to claim his final kill? Can Sam untangle the truth in time to save him?

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. The author of LeGarde Mysteries and Moore Mysteries enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. For free excerpts, articles, beautiful photos, and recordings of the author reading aloud, visit his websites at and and join him on his collaborative blog: