Sunday, May 28, 2017

Eden Rising by Andrew Cunningham; review by Aaron Lazar

Hi, folks.

On this very special Memorial Day weekend, I'd like to give thanks to every service man and woman who ever lost their lives fighting for our freedom. Let's also thank their families for consistently supporting their beloved men and women. And for those who are still serving -- God Bless!

In the following review, there are two heroes who end up fighting for their own lives much like soldiers do. Although it isn't a military story per se, it reminded me of the courage it takes to survive and protect those we love.

Please check out Mr. Cunningham's other titles as well, they are all wonderful reads!

Aaron Paul Lazar


I have to admit, I have never read a post-apocalyptic science fiction thriller before. But I have read other books by Andrew Cunningham and absolutely loved them, so I had to try book one in his Eden Rising trilogy.

I opened the book in an airport on a day of full travel, and I finished it two days later when flying home from my business trip. I couldn’t get this story out of my mind, and kept thinking about it constantly. I was almost angry when my flight was on time, because I needed to finish the story before I got home and life took over the way it does.

I was hooked on page one when Ben and Lila were sent into an ice cream freezer to do inventory by a jerky boss. When the “event” hit, they were the only ones who survived in their town and soon realized that they’d lost everyone they loved – parents, siblings, friends, teachers…they were all gone.

The amazing odyssey these kids went on made me constantly think, “How would I react in this situation?” “Could I survive like they did?” “Could I kill if I had to, to survive or protect an innocent life?” And it didn’t bother me that they grew up so fast. When life changes around you, I suspect that you would change, too. And these kids went through hell.

The author never lets you relax. There are frequent scenes where our heroes’ lives are threatened and when they are separated. I practically held my breath until they were reunited.

Well written, easy-to-read, and a great adventure, I highly recommend Eden Rising to anyone who loves great suspense, deeply developed characters, and to those who love to imagine the impossible, as the author has done so splendidly in this story. 


Monday, May 15, 2017

Win over 30 Mysteries with Humor and a Kindle Fire!

Hi, folks!
There's something about sunlight filtering through the petals of tulips that drives me wild. Of all the garden images that come to mind, this is one of the most glorious, don't you think? This year's crop of tulips is blazing across my flower beds - purple, white, red, yellow, pink, and more. I'll sprinkle in a few pix as we go today, just for grins. ;o)

I planted peas on Easter day, when we had soaring temperatures. I swear, I was in shorts and barefoot all day. The peas are now 4" high and thriving, in spite of the recent spate of COLD and RAIN we've had. But I know the warmth will come back soon...won't it? 

I'd best stop blathering about gardens, though, or I'll never get to the point of this post. Today I'm here to share some neat stuff: 

Freebies. Chances to win. A new book review. And some news.

I know that we have all kinds of readers who visit MB4 these days. Some of you like romance, some are suspense lovers, and plenty of you are mystery buffs. For those of you who like mysteries with a bit of humor, check out this new contest.

Today through May 22nd I'm involved in another Booksweeps contest where you could win over 30 mysteries with Humor (including For the Birds, the first book in the four-book Tall Pines series featuring Marcella and Quinn Hollister) and a new Kindle Fire. Of course, most of you know you can check out all my books as always at, where you can read excerpts, synopses, see all the series laid out in order, and more.

Here's a link for the contest if you wish to enter. It's good through May 22nd, the day by which I hope to have planted my tomatoes. ;o)

(scroll down for more news)

My peas - thriving in our cool spring
What I'm Reading:

I'm going to start sharing reviews of books I'm reading with you each time we talk. Let me know if you like that idea, okay? Today, it's Wisdom Spring by Andrew Cunningham. I loved this book!


Wisdom Spring is one of those books that lingers in your mind and heart long after you've finished the story. I listened to the audiobook version, and was pulled into the lives of Jon Harper and Jessica Norton from page one. I finished listening to it over a week ago, and I'm still missing the characters. Yes, it was that good.

What I loved most about this unpredictable and unique story was not only the great chase scenes, love scenes, deep characterization, and beautifully rendered images of the countryside covering a wild cross-country drive across the States, through Canada, and all the way to Alaska, but it was the author's absolutely pure and beautiful writing style. Easy to read without being overly simplified, yet deep enough to say a lot within a few words, Mr. Cunningham is a supremely talented writer.

I also appreciated the author's ability to avoid being mired in traditional thriller genre rules, and to allow a mystical connection between the female protagonist and a loved one. I appreciated that aspect of this story and how it helped lead the troubled couple to their salvation.

One of my favorite characters was the intellectually challenged man, Clyde, in Alaska who held one of the key clues to solving the mystery of the corrupt politician and the evil empire that backed him. He was just a gem!

Another truly special aspect of Wisdom Spring was the ability of the author to show the pain of loss. Jon, the main character, has lost his daughter and subsequently split up with his wife. He has nothing to live for, is driving forward in a black shroud, and had he not stopped to pick up Jess in the pouring rain, he may not have made it through the day.

I've read several of his other books (Deadly Shore, All Lies, and Fatal Lies) which were also absolutely delightful. I hope to read more. I highly recommend this book to all who love a good suspenseful thriller!

Tremolo is getting a new cover!

Thanks to Kellie Dennis for this beautiful new cover for Tremolo. This is one of the "young Gus" series within LeGarde Mysteries, set in 1964 in Maine. Stay tuned for the new release of this old-time classic. 

You can read all of the synopses and excerpts from LeGarde Mysteries and more here.

I hope you get a chance to step outside and enjoy the incredible beauty of spring this weekend. And if you get rain like we're expecting, cuddle up with a good book. 

Happy reading,

Aaron Paul Lazar

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Enter to Win over 55 Cozy Mysteries and a Kindle Fire!

Hi, folks!
I hope you are all doing well and enjoying the signs of spring that seem to be popping up all over. After months of not walking outside on my beautiful hills, I finally managed to carve out some time this past weekend for two good walks. Yes, it was still FREEZING (34 and foggy on Saturday, 38 and sunny on Sunday) but the fresh air felt so good, and reconnecting with the beautiful hills overlooking the Genesee Valley has regenerated my spirit. I heard red-winged blackbirds, mourning doves, cardinals, and woodpeckers, sure signs that spring must be coming. Although we actually have a little snow predicted tomorrow, I'm still holding out hope for next week when the temperatures are supposed to dance into the seventies! ;o)

By the way, I want to offer a welcome to my new readers and a warm embrace for my steadfast supporters, some who have been reading my books since 2004! Thank you.

Today I'm involved in another Booksweeps contest where you could win many cozy mysteries (including Double Forte', the first book in the eleven-book series featuring Gus LeGarde!) You can check out all my books as always at, where you can read excerpts, synopses, see all the series laid out in order, and more.

Here's a link for the contest if you wish to check it out. It's good through April 10th, my sixth grandson's first year birthday. ;o) I hope you win!

(scroll down for more news)

I also wanted you to know I'm thrilled to announce two new audiobooks that were recently released. The third book in the Bittersweet Hollow series, Devil's Spring, is narrated by the talented Gwendolyn Druyer, the same lady who brought you all the unique voices of Portia, Boone, Grace, Anderson, Dirk, and Daisy in Devil's Lake and Devil's Creek! Here is a link to an audio sample of Devil's Spring:

Last, but certainly not least, it's been a long time coming, but I was finally able to convince Erik Synnestvedt to come back from his insanely busy production schedule to narrate the third "young Gus" book in the LeGarde Mystery series, Voodoo Summer! 

In Tremolo: cry of the loon and Don't Let the Wind Catch You, Erik created a memorable world with perfect voices for young Gus, Siegfried, and Elsbeth. He also mastered the Maine accents for Gus's grandparents, and brought to life Gus's parents as well as Oscar and Millie Stone, and many other featured characters in these books. Now, he's done it again in Voodoo Summer,bringing to life "Willy DuPont," the young black girl who works in the nearby Seven Whistles fishing camp on Great Pond, in Maine, and who becomes an important part of Gus's life. You can listen to Erik's sample here: 
Listen to Voodoo Summer Sample
If you possibly can, head outside and breathe in some of that fresh, spring air. It will do you worlds of good. ;o)

Next time, as promised earlier, I will share some of my reviews for new books I've discovered. Some of them may even be free, so stay tuned!

Happy reading!

Aaron Paul Lazar

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day -- Writing Love Scenes

Writing Love Scenes

Aaron Paul Lazar

When I first started writing the LeGarde Mystery series in 2001, my daughters were teenagers. I was very careful to imply desire, to hint at bedroom scenes, and to be sure all references to intimate sexual relations were confined to a healthy marriage.
After all, I couldn’t let them think that Dad “thought” like that, or that I blithely wrote about all the things about which I constantly warned them.
Raising girls in the late ’nineties and early in the millennium was not easy. Social pressures abounded. From what I heard, most of my daughters’ classmates lost their virginity in middle school, and if you were one of the few who didn’t have a boyfriend, you were an outcast, a reject who wasn’t worthy of friendship.
As you can well imagine, it drove me nuts.
So I was very careful not to write about things I preached against, and thus my first and even second mystery series were quite wholesome. Not that Gus and Camille had more than a Victorian relationship until they were married. Sure, Gus longed for Camille in a very real and normal fashion. But he respected her past—a sad life with her abusive ex-husband—and he also had trouble ridding himself of his longtime allegiance to his wife Elsbeth, who’d died before the first book was written.
By the time I was working on my third LeGarde book, my star-crossed couple was finally united in marriage, and I wanted to write their honeymoon consummation scene. It was important for me to show Gus’s tenderness and his gentle treatment of his bride. And after all, my fans had been waiting a while for this moment. I had more than a few letters from readers (mostly men), asking when Gus was gonna get the girl, so to speak.
Something funny happened around the time I wrote Mazurka. I realized that my girls were not reading my work, (not much, anyway) nor were they in the least excited about Dad’s writing career, awards, or publishing credits.
No, their lives consisted only of real relationships, school plays, and boys, boys, boys.
How do you think I got this sprinkling of silver on my temples?
As difficult as it was in this phase of their development, it did free me up to write a bit more spontaneously. So I penned the scenes with tasteful romance, including only a few references (again implied) about the actual acts involved.
With a feeling of relief, over time I relaxed and, where it seemed appropriate, included some new scenes for my readers, including a love scene in the shower after Gus and Camille were almost killed in the underground Parisian Catacombs. It was an affirmation-of-life type of scene, and gave me the freedom to begin to experiment writing about sex and lovemaking. This is rather tame in nature, mind you, and since then I’ve graduated to sizzling love scenes that I’ve included in my romantic suspense series (Bittersweet Hollow series, Devil’s Lake , Devil’s Creek, and Devil's Spring and my Paines Creek Beach series, The Seacrest, The Seacroft, and The Seadog.)
Here’s a short scene I inserted into Mazurka just before it went to press. It was a first step in crossing over the “purely wholesome” boundary which I’d put up for myself in earlier years. I hoped to imitate the impressions I’d gained over the years from John D. MacDonald’s writing. I adored his love scenes, and often wanted to see if I could do it, too. I'm sure I’m not even close here, but see what you think.
“The soap and water streamed down her skin, intimate in its contact, curving along her hips and down her thighs to her feet. As we lathered each other, a mad desire to celebrate life consumed me. My lips touched hers. She hesitated for a moment, looked up at me through long, wet lashes, and then kissed me back.
It was different from the first time, almost frantic now. There was no shame in her eyes, no glimmering ghosts of our past. Although some of my injuries ached when we pressed together against the shower wall, the warm, moist coupling washed away the blood and pain.
When it was over, we embraced beneath the spray. Without warning, I choked up. She began to shake and looked at me. I recognized the hot burst of emotion that seared and welled in her eyes.
I fluttered sweet kisses over her mouth so she wouldn’t cry. She circled my waist with her arms, and kissed me back urgently. Dark hair streamed down her back as the water flowed through her sodden curls. She lay her wet face against my shoulder and held me tight.”
In hindsight, this passage is pretty tame, isn’t it? But it felt like a huge leap for me when I “allowed” myself to write more freely.
By the time I’d written many LeGarde Mysteries and three Green Marble Mysteries (featuring Sam and Rachel Moore), I realized no matter how many free copies I’d give my daughters, they just weren’t interested in reading at this time in their lives.
Now they’re all adults with husbands and kids. I knew it was time for me to let loose with whatever I wanted to write. And if they somehow, someday discovered that Dad had thoughts like a real man, well, so be it. (grin)
Here’s a scene from Essentially Yours, book 2 in the Tall Pines Mystery series, where I’m not only writing a romantic scene, but doing it from a woman’s POV. Let me know what you think. It’s definitely spicier than my two previous forays into this realm.
“Unbidden, scenes from our youth tapped at the edge of my mind’s vision. I felt the warm breeze blowing across my bare back while we lay in Sky’s family’s pontoon boat in the middle of Honeoye Lake at midnight. His feathered touch traced my spine; his fingers trailed around my hips and lower. I pictured the blond curly hair on his strong, young chest; the hard body that lay beneath the soft fuzz.
Damn. He’d been amazing. And he’d really cared about how I felt, if I’d been satisfied. I figured I’d been lucky. Most teenage boys rushed to conquer their hill, uncaring of the pain or condition of their lovers’ bodies. And most girls just took it, thinking it was part of the “first time,” anticipated hell.
Yet, Sky had read extensively before he approached me, looking up oriental techniques I’d never heard of. He’d known about special places that make a woman moan in pleasure. Made me moan in pleasure. Focused and careful, he’d done embarrassing things that made me crazy, disappearing beneath the blanket for long spells of time. He’d worked on me until moisture coated all of my tender parts. And he’d waited until I was so ready I didn’t think I could wait another second.”
Since these books were written, I’ve released several love stories and romantic suspense books. These types of novels—while certainly not erotica—allow for much more specific love scenes than a cozy mystery or an adventure story. If you read them, however, be forewarned, they contain explicit content. The “heat level” is about the same sizzle you might find in bestselling contemporary romance stories on the market today.
         In my humble opinion, there’s room for a little romance in almost every genre. Mysteries, thrillers, suspense, fantasy, and even science fiction can all be spiced up a bit without dropping suspense or departing from the main story. So don’t feel hamstrung when you write your next book. If it fits into your story, give yourself the freedom to explore your characters’ life in the bedroom, too. 


Today, in honor of Valentine's Day, I'm featuring a romantic mystery set in the wintry Adirondacks Mountains for 99 cents. Betrayal: a Tall Pines Mystery is book 4 in the series, but they can be enjoyed in any order. ;o)

Marcella Hollister realized a lifetime of hopes and dreams when she was given custody of a child. A cousin of her half-Seneca husband, Quinn, the baby’s mother was murdered in a political plot—and Marcella, who’s never been able to have children of her own, formed an instant bond with little Kimi.

Then a distant relative comes forward to claim Kimi—and Quinn, who Marcella thought understood her pain better than anyone, allows them to take the baby without a fight.

Confused and deeply wounded, Marcella takes off for Tall Pines, their secluded Adirondack cabin. She hopes the peace and natural beauty of the mountains will help clear her head and decide whether to forgive Quinn…or leave him.

But the situation at Tall Pines is anything but peaceful. Her high school lover, Sky, arrives to help out—and Marcella discovers her old feelings may not be as distant as she thought. Worse, a serial killer is stalking young women in the area. And when a teen girl whose mother works with Sky goes missing, Marcella and everyone she cares for wind up dead center in the killer’s sights. 


Check out Aaron's books and get a free copy of Devil's Lake at

Happy Valentine's Day to all!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Writing Skinny and Puppy Love

How to Slenderize Your Manuscript by Kim Smith

This is a post from 2011 - I am recycling for you today. Since next week is Valentines Day, I want to wish you much love. Go get my latest love story. It has a dog in it. You will be in LOVE!

It's called PUPPY LOVE _ click the link below to magically be transported

On with the post...

One of the things that gives me a happy frame of mind when writing is to have a clean, unfettered manuscript. When I wake up in the morning and open a WIP that has been edited, that has a streamline feel, and there isn’t garbage cluttering it up, I feel great.

When, on the other hand, I open my book and find extra plot-lines/unnecessary characters or just bad writing all over the place, it stresses me out.

These are a few tips for getting the junk out:

Do it in small chunks. Set aside 5 pages to work on at a time, and when that 5 is satisfactory, stop. Then tackle another 5 the next day. Conquering the entire work can be overwhelming, and you might decide it is hopeless and find yourself uncomfortably blocked.

Set aside a couple hours to do it. This may seem elementary… and it is. It’s simply a different strategy, and I say do whatever works for you. Sometimes, for me, it’s good to set aside part of a manuscript, or an entire scene to do in a set amount of time. The weekends are perfect! Just whatever works best for me in the time I have.

Sort through your manuscript and cut scenes and rearrange them. Have a folder to put the cut scenes in handy. When you pull everything out of a scene, send it to the new folder (I call this OUTTAKES but I am an old videographer, too). Put in new material, and make a decision: trash the old, add old to new, or keep new and leave old for a while until you are certain it won't hurt anything else in the book. Don’t put it back in the pile for a good while. You may find you never need it again, but that scene could fit in another work, or give you a muse-tweak that sends the book in a new direction.

Study your habits and see if you are making these unnecessary plots or characters out of a bad habit. Sometimes there’s a reason you have pages of crap all over the place, and an OUTTAKES folder that is stuffed full. Craft books with emphasis on writing tight might help.

Celebrate when you’re done! Give yourself a big old pat on the back. This sort of cleaning out the old junk and rearranging or reordering or plain old remaking your book is very therapeutic.