Sunday, August 26, 2012

Review for The Tangled Web by JP Lane

Title:  The Tangled Web: an international web of intrigue, murder, and romance
Author:  J.P. Lane
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
eBook $3.97
Author’s website:

The Tangled Web is a fast paced and well told international thriller. I know I’m dating myself, but Ms. Lane’s book reminds me of Helen McInnes’s wonderful espionage thrillers that I used to read back in the seventies when I was in college. (Ms McInnes’s books were in fact written in the second half of the last century, and I stumbled upon them in my parents’ piles of books along with Agatha Christie, Rex Stout and John D. MacDonald.)

I was hooked from the start by the exotic setting(s), international verbage/dialects, and the spy-novel type thrills that run rampant in The Tangled Web.

Ms. Lane’s thriller is set primarily on a Caribbean island, replete with tropical lush scene painting and intriguing local color. The characters who hail from the island range in character and style from rich white landowners to the delightful housekeeper, Ivy, who was one of my favorite (albeit minor) characters.

The dialog felt genuine, as did the frustration experienced by main characters Logan Armstrong (international tycoon) and Lauren Anderson (journalist) as they plummeted through this adventure without being able to fully communicate their feelings or intentions until the very end.

I won’t rehash the plot here—since so many others have done so very thoroughly—but suffice it to say there is great treachery ongoing in the Caribbean political scenes behind the bright and touristy island of blue oceans and heady-scented flowers. The Prime Minister has become corrupt, putting his island’s future in peril due to his links with the drug cartels and his own selfish purposes. Two plots interweave to assassinate this monster–one driven by a truly frightening cartel head, Maria Echevarria, and the other by well-meaning government officials who know that the Prime Minister must go.

I enjoyed this romp across the globe: from New York to London, from Prague to the Caribbean, it held my interest throughout. Well done, Ms. Lane!

Recommended by Aaron Paul Lazar,

Monday, August 20, 2012

Special Post - Introduction to Mr. Lance Johnson

Hi, folks.

Mr. Lance Johnson has written a book that will help so many people that I have decided to give him a bit of help in exposure by featuring his book here today on this blog. It's not a mystery. It's not a suspense. No, it's actually non-fiction, which I hardly ever read, I'm ashamed to say. 

But Lance's book is geared toward aiding new arrivals to our country by spelling out all that is America. I think it's great. I hope you will too, and perhaps you can keep this in mind the next time you meet a new immigrant to The United States of America. 

- Aaron

Genesis of a Book to Help Foreigners Better Understand Crazy America

by Lance Johnson

copyright 2012, Lance Johnson


Having taught overseas and traveled in 81 countries, I was always amazed at the nonstop questions people had about all things America. Crazy America, as some called it. Our language, government, people, literature, films, food, dress. Our behavior. Even our negative image on the world stage. At home, I watched my foreign heritage friends struggle to start a new life—get jobs, open businesses, enter schools, make friends.

After years of these exchanges I searched for a book I could recommend to them that condensed and simplified what America is all about. Aside from the multitude of stuffy textbooks it would take to cover this cosmic sized subject, there wasn’t one. So I began thinking about writing one, not sure I wanted to be slayed by this Herculean monster. It stewed on my back burner for several years.

Then, on a flight to Beijing in 2001, I sat next to an American executive in charge of overseas operations for a major U.S. corporation. He lamented the struggle he had teaching American business concepts to his foreign managers. I mentioned my abeyant book idea. His face lit up. He said such a book would make a valuable training aid for his foreign managers and executives. “Good hard facts,” he said, “culture, the big picture, the details. Because of cultural differences they just don’t get the full picture and tend to revert back to local customs. As a business we need to hit on all cylinders. In this competitive world we can’t afford to backslide.”

That was the final jostle I needed. I returned home and the next day began to write What Asians Need To Know About America From A to Z. It would take two years to complete. Halfway through the research and writing process, I signed a contract with a major Chinese publisher for the rights in China thanks to the efforts of an agent there, the only one who had the same vision I had. I finally had the confirmation I wanted: What I was doing was indeed important.

Next step: Endorsements. My attitude is if you don’t try you’ll never know. I sent a two-page overview of my upcoming book along with the first pages of the 26 chapters to the American ambassador in China and the China ambassador in the U.S. I was shocked…it was easier than I thought it would be. They wrote endorsements! So did journalists, editors, educators and scholars around the world.

After its publication I learned that marketing books in China is just as difficult as in the U.S., but with a few cultural differences that make it even harder. Book signings, mailings, and other marketing attempts to spur sales are alien, even for a major publishing house like mine.

Fast forward to 2009 when I set sail to expand my book to include all foreigners, not just Asians. I tweaked the title to What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to understand crazy American culture, people, government, business, language and more. 
Three years later it was published at 614 pages. Would its inch-and-a-half thick size scare readers away? I had three choices: 1) drop the two hundred-plus pictures to slim it down, 2) use a glasses-needed smaller font size, or 3) come up with four smaller books that correspond to the four major sections in the big guy: America’s Heritage, America’s Culture, America’s Business, and America’s Language. I chose the latter to allow the readers to target their own needs or interests.

To make the book relevant to foreign readers, I knew I had to use lots of comparisons— how we do things in the U.S. and how they vary from country to country. So in the introduction I wrote about Budapest, Hungary, where I was shocked I had to pay for a packet of McDonald’s ketchup—something that’s free in the U.S. And how flashing the soles of your feet in Thailand is a big no-no versus the bare foot mentality in the U.S. And the confusing times in Bulgaria when they nodded up and down to signify “no” and left to right for “yes,” the exact opposite of what we do. And in India where drivers ignored stop signs and traffic lights, but you’d better not do that in the U.S. In other words, do not expect things to be done here as they are back home, and be alert to making needed cultural changes that I discuss in my A to Z book.

I also wrote, “With all of our cultural differences though, you’ll be surprised to learn how much our countries—and we as human beings—have in common on this third rock from the sun called Earth. After all, the song played at our Disneyland parks around the world is “It’s A Small World After All.” Thanks for coming along on this journey with me. Thank you for allowing me to share my America with you. And thanks to all of you who shared your country with me.”

What did I learn from my twelve-year odyssey? 

·      First and foremost, don’t give up on something you truly believe in, as I almost did when scores of agents and publishers said they had never seen a book like this, so it probably wasn’t worth pursuing. There will always be naysayers for everything we want to attempt in life…and that includes agents and publishers. 

·      Get a good editor who is forthright, honest and not afraid to slash and burn here and there. However, keep your eye on your North Star. My guiding light proved to be the right direction on several issues. 

·      Keep rewriting until you have the tone and flow you know is right for your book. Know who your reader will be. In my case it was foreigners who likely read English as a second language, thus my language had to be simple. I also scattered light-hearted humor and personal notes to avoid a textbook tone. 

·      Don’t be in a hurry to see it printed because you only have one chance to make a good first impression. And, yes, once printed you’ll hit your forehead with your open palm when you still find typos and dumb errors.

·      And finally, the big shocker is the marketing effort that must follow the publication. As most authors say, this is the hard part, not the writing of the book. I found the books I needed in the Frugal Book Series ( most helpful in this department.

Good luck with your writing and keep the faith!


Lance Johnson is a former CEO and management consultant who has traveled in 49 of the 50 states and continues exploring the difficulties foreigners face understanding American ways and language, and how that affects their success in dealing with Americans. He consults, teaches, and conducts seminars about the subjects in this book. He has an Ivy League graduate business degree and has studied at Oxford University in England. He is also an actor on the stage and in film, commercials and on TV, including a lead American role in a 28-part TV series in China.

The book and the author’s website is The book is sold worldwide on (simply do a search there on “what foreigners need to know” or “lance johnson”). It can also be found or ordered in bookstores, including famous Vroman’s in Pasadena, California, that is celebrating its 118th year in business and where he will have an upcoming book signing.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Back from the Brink by Michael Prescott

Hi, folks.

Please join me in extending a warm welcome to Michael Prescott, author of numerous bestselling thrillers and one of the hottest authors on the Kindle scene. This man has sold over a million eBooks, and I am honored to have him here today. Not only is Mr. Prescott a phenomenal success and a true gentleman, but in my humble opinion, he is one of the finest suspense/thriller/mystery writers of the century. 

Writers, if you're looking for an example of how to "get it right," how to capture audiences with unrelenting action and tension, with psychological premises that both shock and awe, with twists and turns that'll spin your head around...just pick up one of his books. 

I'm just starting Grave of Angels, but I highly recommend such books as Stealing Faces, Blind Pursuit, Mortal Pursuit, Deadly Pursuit, and Dangerous Games. Writers, these books are primers for how it's done!

Please help us welcome Mr. Prescott and leave a comment in the section below.
Aaron Paul Lazar

Back from the Brink

copyright 2012, Michael Prescott

In 2009 my career was over.

I'd been writing suspense novels for twenty-three years and had published twenty of them. Some were modest bestsellers, though I remained securely ensconced in the dreaded "midlist" - halfway between stardom and oblivion. Beginning in 2007 it all fell apart. My longtime publisher, Penguin, dropped me, along with many of its other veteran authors; the company announced it would now focus on "vampire erotica" for its mass-market paperback titles. Being neither a vampire nor erotic, I was shown the door. 

At first I didn't worry too much. There were other publishers. Well, four or five of them, anyway. But my efforts to find a home in one of the other big New York houses went nowhere. What I was selling, they weren't buying. My sales record was too uneven, my books weren't enough like The Da Vinci Code, and the whole industry was suffering a crisis of confidence as paperback sales circled the drain. 

By the summer of 2009, I had to face facts. I was no longer a publishable writer. So I started writing something else - option calls. I would buy some stock and write (sell) options on it; the option premiums provided an income stream. With stocks on the rise, writing calls was a pretty easy way to make money. No, I wasn't being creative and I couldn't honestly say I was contributing anything to society, but I was paying my bills. 

In 2010 I had an idea for a sideline. I would take an unsold novel, Riptide, heavily revise it, and publish it myself using print-on-demand technology. My expectations were minimal. I thought I might sell a couple of hundred copies. Mainly I wanted a copy of the book for my shelf. At the last minute, I decided I might as well make Riptide available as a Kindle ebook also. It cost nothing, and who knows, the book might sell a few more copies. 

Nothing much happened with Riptide for a while, but I'd enjoyed the process of putting out the book, so I decided to start digitizing my out-of-print backlist titles. The rights to these books had reverted to me, and I wanted to keep them around. 

Then in the spring of 2011, my friend and fellow author J. Carson Black (The Shop, Icon) suggested that I drop the price of my ebooks to only $0.99 and promote them on Amazon's discussion forums. This strategy was working well for her, and similar strategies had worked for Jay Konrath and others. I was dubious, but I gave it a try. 

Thus began the most unexpected run of luck I've had in my life. In retrospect, I really should have visited Atlantic City and put down some bets on the roulette wheel. Sales of my ebooks went up … and up … and up. I was hitting #1 in Amazon's Suspense category. Some of my titles began appearing on the bestseller lists of the New York Times and USA Today - self-published ebooks sharing the list with the latest releases from the New York houses. Yes, the same outfits whose editors had turned off the lights and hidden behind the sofa when I came knocking on their door. 

By the end of 2011, I was closing in on a million ebooks sold. USA Today ran a feature story about me and other indie ebook writers. Amazon Publishing contacted me to ask if I wanted to do a deal. 

And in fact, I did want to do a deal. For all my success at self-publishing, I was interested to see what Amazon could do for me. As it turns out, they can do a lot. My first book with them, Grave of Angels, benefited immensely from the contributions of developmental editor David Downing, while acquisitions editor Maria Gomez gave me significant input into the cover design and promotional copy. Now the marketing team is doing a bang-up job of promoting the book through targeted emails and onsite ads. 

Grave of Angels, probably the last book I'll write with a southern California setting, focuses on Kate Malick, a former Carmelite nun turned security consultant to the stars. Her most troublesome client is teenage Chelsea Brewer, a hard-partying, self-destructive train wreck. When Chelsea is kidnapped, Kate swings into action, hunting the city's darkest corners over a long and dangerous night.  

I hope it's a gripping thrill ride, but I have to admit it can't hold a candle (or even a Kindle) to the roller coaster I've been riding since 2009!

Michael Prescott

Author bio:

Born in 1960, Michael Prescott grew up in New Jersey and attended Wesleyan University, majoring in Film Studies. In 1981 he moved to Los Angeles, where he wrote scripts for independent producers and worked as a magazine freelancer, archival researcher, and editor. In 1986 he sold the first of five horror novels, then moved on to suspense novels, some of which appeared under the pen name Brian Harper. Praised for "brilliant elements of psychological horror" (Publishers Weekly), Prescott 's novels have sold more than one million copies in print editions, and have found a new audience among ebook readers. At last count he had sold more than one million ebooks, making him one of today's  bestselling ebook writers. 

Friday, August 03, 2012

Book Review for Deadly Pursuit by Michael Prescott

 review by Aaron Paul Lazar, 2012

Title: Deadly Pursuit
Author: Michael Prescott
Publisher: Audible, Inc. and Amazon Digital Services
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Audio Book: $21.95
eBook: $2.99
Author’s website:

Jack Dance is the cleverest, nastiest, and most accomplished sociopath ever to grace the pages of a thriller. With no conscience and a devil-may-care attitude, this smiling, tune-humming, horribly handsome serial killer will make you shudder. His cavalier attitude when engaged in murder, his complete and utter lack of humanity, and the pairing of these attributes with the most cunning criminal mind of the century will linger in your mind long after you’ve finished the book.

Jack had a bad experience when he was eleven. It had something to do with a blue-eyed blond named Meredith. And after stewing in hot rage for many years, he finally takes action. Her murder—his first—whets his appetite for what is to becomes a ritualistic re-killing of Meredith, over and over again.

Aside from being a superb writer—I say this with complete honesty and zero exaggeration—Mr. Prescott is a talented plot twister who maintains tension and never, ever lets it slacken. Once you’ve read (or listened) to his books such at Stealing Faces, Blind Pursuit, or Mortal Pursuit, you’ll learn that you’d best store up some extra adrenaline for the guaranteed ride to come. Deadly Pursuit is relentless in its suspense, and your favorite protagonist will be sure to partake of many successions of satisfying chase scenes with the villain. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: when it comes to writing thrillers, Mr. Prescott leads the pack.

Steve and Kirstie Gardner head for a vacation on Pelican Key, the place of Steve’s childhood summer vacations, where he and his pal Jack Dance explored and clambered over the ruins of the old lime plantation. Now the house has been restored, and it beckons to Stephen with an inexplicable urgency. He needs to be there. He craves the connection to his youth. And he worries that maybe—just maybe—secrets from his past might follow.

The problem arises when Jack Dance happens to seek refuge on the same island when the feds begin to link him to the murders of the now infamous “Mister Twister.” When Jack bumps into Kirstie on the beach, his thirst for blood surges, because as luck would have it, she looks a lot like Meredith.

I won’t spoil the plot by telling you more. Just rest assured that the ride is torturous and deliciously scary.

This book is much more than a thriller—it’s also a story that transports you from your armchair to a tropical island. I love novels with a sumptuous “sense of place.” Deadly Pursuit propels the reader smack dab in the sultry humidity of the Florida Keys. I’ve never been there, but felt thoroughly connected thanks to Mr. Prescott’s descriptions of the lush flowers, trees, wildlife and ecosystem. I am certain he must have frequented the location in person, so beautifully drawn were the scenes.

I happened to experience this book in audio book format. The narrator, Christopher Burns, has an uncanny knack for voices, especially for the carefree, jaunty inner voice of a serial killer. It “creeped me out” as my kids would say, to listen to this sociopath in such an intimate fashion. Well done, Mr. Prescott and Mr. Burns!

Highly recommended for adults by Aaron Paul Lazar,

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Need Virtual Book Tour Hosts!

Hello, friends.

I'm setting up a virtual book tour (VBT) for my newest release, FOR KEEPS, book 3 in Moore Mysteries, also known as the "green marble" series. You won't believe what Dr. Sam Moore has to endure in this story, and how Billy helps him out of the jam. (see synopsis below)

To become a host for the tour, you can do one or more of the following things, and post it on Facebook, your blog, or your website during the Sept.14-16th OR October 12-13, which coincides with the two free Kindle giveaways of the FOR KEEPS eBook.

There are lots of options - you don't have to be an official review house or book blogger to do this, although those folks are very welcome! I'm happy to have just regular folks be my sponsors in this event - all readers are invited!

1) You may read/review the book and post your thoughts here on (and/or Facebook or a blog/website, of course!). Please remember to "like" the book on Amazon if you do post a review. That is IF you like it!!

2) You may simply post an excerpt provided by me from FOR KEEPS on Gather, etc. during the dates given above.

3) You may ask me or my characters interview questions that we'll answer with wit and wisdom (I hope!).

4) Or you may post my article about how I wrote FOR KEEPS and how hard it was to kill the one you love (fictionally, of course!).

OR choose any combination of the above! We want to have all of this happening either on Sept. 14-16th, or October 12-13th. So there's plenty of time to do whatever suits you.

Contact me at aaron dot lazar at yahoo dot com if you want to review the book. EBook format (Kindle or pdf) is available at the moment for free for reviewers. The print book is coming along in a few weeks.

Thanks in advance!

Aaron Paul Lazar

PS Here are some early review blurbs and the synopsis, in case you're interested in checking out the story.

"Aaron Paul Lazar's deft paranormal mystery starts off quietly and builds to a powerful finish. More than a thriller, FOR KEEPS is a heartfelt story of love and devotion, family ties and emotional crisis, loss and redemption. A winner!"

- Michael Prescott, USA Today bestselling author of Final Sins (also bestselling Kindle Author!)

"Lazar does it again with Sam Moore's explosive return in FOR KEEPS, a story of sordid pasts, buried secrets, and ultimately, true love. This tale will break your heart—and then tenderly stitch it back together—all while you're biting your nails to the quick. Every book in the Moore Mysteries series just keeps getting better!

- Sonya Bateman, author of Master of None & Master and Apprentice

“The author’s gentle prose brings the scents of a summer garden to life, together with rippling shade of forest and cool clear waters of lake. Characters are vividly real and welcoming too, with pitch-perfect dialog around the dinner table, a wonderful grandfather dealing with a two-year-old’s tantrum, and the awkward embarrassment of past secrets becoming public knowledge.”

- Sheila Deeth, author of FLOWER CHILD

"I was truly mesmerized by this book, and I can honestly say that I have never been so blown away by the ending of a novel. I actually felt a painful wrench when I turned the last page of the book as if I was being physically torn away from the Moore family."

-Cindy Taylor, Allbooks Reviews


FOR KEEPS, book three in the award-winning* Moore Mystery series, is another of Lazar's beautifully written mysteries with a paranormal twist. The series is also known as the "green marble" series, courtesy of the unique talisman that links retired family doctor Sam Moore with his long dead little brother, Billy. All three books in the series can be read in any order.


When retired family doctor Sam Moore’s old girlfriend is murdered in a local hotel, the police suspect his involvement. The coroner, a former med school colleague whose husband is about to desert her, reveals that she had a crush on Sam in med school. When she is strangled the next day in her own morgue, Sam is once again in the hot seat.

Sam’s world falls apart when he returns home to find a family member killed in the laundry room, stabbed with his own garden shears. Rocketed into a world of denial and temporary insanity, Sam faces his worst fear, and is locked up in the very same psych ward he was in when his brother Bill died fifty years ago. Sam is determined to ask his long dead brother to help him. Billy, who communicates through a little green marble, has the ability to propel Sam through time and has helped Sam unwrap baffling mysteries in the past.

Sam’s plan: to change time, and bring his loved one back to life.