Friday, January 23, 2015

Reworking Older Titles (The Lord Keeps Me Humble!)


Hello, friends and fans of MB4!

I hope you've had a successful start to 2015. Did you make any writing resolutions? I'm ashamed to say, I didn't. I'm just plugging away at the jobs I've had on my plate for a while. Now that I've come up for air, I'm shocked that the end of January is in sight. How did that happen?

I’ve just finished putting the finishing touches on Under the Ice, my last Gus LeGarde Mystery. This makes ten in the series, and although I “never say never,” and may well write some more with these characters in the future, I’m breathing a sigh of relief, because some of these books have been waiting to see the light of day since 2006.

Because my head is so full of characters and stories begging to be released, for some reason I write too fast for a traditional publisher to keep pace with me. Especially since they aren’t uniquely devoted to just me. Heck, it wouldn’t be fair for all the other writers in the company to sit around and wait while my publisher focused on me, would it? So, I had a selection of older LeGarde books I’d written years ago, just languishing in the publishing queue.

When I decided to go ahead and put them out myself, I worked hard at it for a year and a half. In addition to a few new titles I managed to write (Devil’s Lake and The Seacrest) and two new books in my Tall Pines series (Sanctuary and Betrayal), I managed to polish up and release Lady Blues, Spirit Me Away, The Liar’s Gallery, and now, coming in a week or so, Under the Ice.

This last book, Under the Ice, was the toughest to edit and make presentable to the world. I’d written it in 2006, and just because of crazy timing issues, I hadn’t touched it since.

I thought it stunk.

Really. When I read it over during the course of three months, chapter by excruciating chapter, I was bored to tears. Maybe it’s because I’ve been writing thrillers and love stories since then. Maybe it’s because I was fitting this “do” job in between writing new, fresh stuff. But I was convinced it might be the worst of my series, and it honestly did need some very tedious editing.

Another issue that happened during this rewrite is that my Microsoft Word program stopped highlighting the misspellings and grammar mistakes. I tried one day to fix it, but couldn’t easily pinpoint the problem. That made for a lot of potential mistakes. Since then I’ve researched it and got it all back in working order. For the record, it was hardly an intuitive fix.

When I sent the book out to my first line of defense, two editors who work for me from the beginning to help me save face when I release the book to its next phase, the Beta Reader Phase, they found quite a few errors. I fixed them, and tried not to make even more mistakes in the “fixing,” (which does happen, as I’m sure you have all seen), and then shipped off the manuscript to about seventeen wonderful volunteers who have various amazing skills they are willing to share with me for the simple reward of “reading the story before it’s released” and also getting their personally inscribed print copy as a thank you. I love these folks, as you might imagine.

I’ve never had so many typos, extra words, missing words, case issues, and inconsistencies as they found in this book. Wow. I’m telling you, the Lord really kept me humble with this one. I think we must’ve had over 200 corrections, and I thank God for my Beta team, because mostly every single reader found a different selection of mistakes than the others! Some readers are best at catching action inconsistencies. Some are wizards with commas. Others have the knack of spotting that extra “to” or missing “a” in my prose. If it weren’t for all of them, however, I’d be flame-faced embarrassed when the book was released.

Because my own brain “reads” what it THOUGHT I “wrote,” I can’t find these errors. My brain thinks it’s so smart, integrating and upgrading the words before I interpret them. But dang it, I hate it. I wish I could spot my own mistakes.

Well, after all is said and done, my readers came back to me with comments like, “This is your best work yet,” “It flowed so well,” “I think it’s my favorite,” etc.

It just goes to show you. A story I hated editing “piecemeal” was actually well received when read as a whole entity.

Once this upcoming release of Under the Ice is done on January 30th, 2015, I am finally going to be free to write fresh, new books in any order I feel like. What a luxury! To tell the truth, I’ve already plotted and started writing a sequel to The Seacrest: a love story, and am halfway done with a sequel to Devil’s Lake, called Devil’s Creek.

After that, who knows? I just know I’ll be having a blast with whatever stories beg to be released next.

Following is a complete list for anyone who’d like to take a look at my stable of books, most of which are in eBook, print, and audio versions. 

Happy writing!

Aaron

DOUBLE FORTÉ (print, eBook, audio book)
UPSTAGED (print, eBook, audio book)  
TREMOLO: CRY OF THE LOON (print, eBook, audio book)
MAZURKA (print, eBook, audio book)
FIRESONG (print, eBook, audio book)
DON’T LET THE WIND CATCH YOU (print, eBook, audio book)
THE LIARS’ GALLERY (print, eBook, audio book)
SPIRIT ME AWAY (print, eBook, audio book)
UNDER THE ICE: COUNTERPOINT (coming soon 2015)

HEALEY'S CAVE (print, eBook, audio book)
TERROR COMES KNOCKING (print, eBook, audio book)
FOR KEEPS (print, eBook, audio book)

FOR THE BIRDS (print, eBook, audio book)
ESSENTIALLY YOURS (print, eBook, audio book)
SANCTUARY (print, eBook, audio book)

STANDALONES
THE SEACREST (print, eBook, and audio book)
DEVIL’S LAKE (print, eBook, and audio book)
DEVIL’S CREEK (coming soon)

WRITING ADVICE: 

WRITE LIKE THE WIND, volumes 1, 2, 3  (audio books)

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning, bestselling Kindle author of three addictive mystery series, thrillers, love stories, and writing guides, Aaron 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 website at http://www.lazarbooks.com and watch for his upcoming releases, UNDER THE ICE (2015) and DEVIL’S CREEK (2015). Aaron has won over 18 book awards for his novels and finds writing to be his form of "cheap therapy." Feel free to connect with him on Facebook or his website; he loves to connect with readers!



Thursday, January 22, 2015

Straying from the normal

I have written in almost every genre. Fantasy, mystery, romance, and a little bit of in-between--leaning toward horror. But there is one thing I always said I would never write.

Sci fi.

I know, right?

I just didn't care for it. I loved sci fi movies, but books just left me dry. I didn't have enough of a science background to know when it rang true or was baloney-sauce. So I mostly left sci fi to those who are aficionados. Give me good old
Southern fiction any day. Throw in a murder or a ghost, well, I'm yours forever.

Then I got a wild hair and wrote what passed for sci fi in a short piece. I submitted it. They liked it and wanted to put it in an anthology. Well, punch me and call me Judy. They LIKED it! William Faulkner is rolling over in his grave about now.

Just hold up there, old Bill. I am hot on the trail of something new. Sci fi. And not just sci fi, the old dry pie. I mean space opera stuff. I know you fellers are all about mystery and suspense and thriller, but that all can be inserted in this type of sci fi. In fact, it is a prerequisite. You have to have drama and high stakes. Somebody might get "insert space gear name here" to death. They might have a spaceship collision. What if a planet exploded?

Yeah, man. I am on the hoof now, outlining and plotting a blockbuster. I am so excited, I can hardly wait to share it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Not-So Friendly Skies

 By
Dora Machado

Has this ever happened to you?
 
I was flying from Colorado to Tampa when the guy sitting in front of me, 11 C to be exact, decided to settle for a nap. Crunch. With a violent shove, the back of his seat smashed down on me, my knees, and my brand new laptop. I could've used the Jaws of Life to extricate my laptop from the jam, or perhaps the assistance of the flight attendant, who ignored my predicament with an indifferent shrug. For the rest of the flight, I stared at the man's balding pate, practically laying in my lap. Score one of the gods of mischief. 11 C unhinged both my laptop and my muse.

I have a love-hate relationship with planes and airports. I love traveling, but I hate the process of getting there. The long security lines that range from the strange to the absurd rankle me. Do they really make us safe or is it all perception-based make believe? The uptight travelers and the grumpy flight attendants drive me crazy. Are we paying customers or human cargo? I hate to admit it, but every once in a while when I'm traveling, I have to suppress an impulse to shout at the top of my lungs something along the lines of "travelers of the world, unite!"

It wasn't always like this. I have distant memories of the friendly skies and every once in a while I score a pleasant flight on a carrier that doesn't charge extra for your suitcase--or your next breath—and still considers smiling an important requirement in their job descriptions. But still, I fly an awful lot and I long for the kinder times where we weren't all looking at one another as potential terrorists across the aisle and my knees were not bruised after every flight.

Don't get me wrong. I understand the economics about selling more seats per airplane. I've also heard about the arguments that Americans are getting bigger vis-à-vis airplane seats. Okay, fine. Let's stick to our diets, America. But sometimes, when I board a plane and look around me, I suspect that somewhere, someone is playing a joke on all of us. Only miniature elves could fit in some of those narrow, jam-packed seats, and even then, their tiny knees might end up as bruised as mine.

 
As a writer, I do an awful lot of work while in the air. Those hours are vital to my schedule. And while I'm willing to sacrifice my knees for the thrill of the journey, my laptop is sacred. It's hard enough to work in the cramped quarters as it is, but when 11 C slams down his seat without warning and smacks down my laptop like a swatter on a fly, this usually chill traveler sees red.

Which is why I've come up with my own rules for flying. Unless the flight is very long, I don't recline my seat. Period. It maintains an illusion of space and it really helps the person behind me if she or he is using a laptop. If I must recline my seat during those longer flights, I look back to make sure I'm not going to smash the other person's laptop, device, or carryon dinner. If the person is awake, I inform them I'm about to recline the seat a couple of inches and do so slowly.

Did you get all of that, 11 C? It's called common courtesy and, I promise, it won't hurt you.

BTW--and since we're talking about writers on planes--maybe we should address one other little tiny issue while we're at it. If someone is using a laptop or a device near me, I typically avert my eyes from the content. Nothing is more unnerving to a working author than a nosy neighbor peering into one's half-formed prose.

Yeah, I'm talking to you 12 D.
 
LOL.
Tampa Airport at Night
 
 
 
 
Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She is one only a few Hispanic women writing fantasy in the United States today. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories.
When she is not writing fiction, Dora also writes features for the award-winning blog Murder By Four and Savvy Authors, where writers help writers. She lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and two very opinionated cats.
 To learn more about Dora Machado and her award winning novels, visit her at www.doramachado.com , email her at Dora@doramachado.com, find her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.
 
 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Coming Home, original flash fiction

Well, I know I know. I have been missing on the blog AGAIN. But I promise it is for a good reason. I am writing, you see. It is imperative that a writer writes, or they lose the right to call themselves a writer. Okay, that was a lot of right/write stuff, but you get my meaning. So, because I made you wait so long for a post from me, I am going to treat you with a flash fiction I wrote as an exercise. It is not complete, but writers sometimes keep adding bits and pieces to their work to make it better. I suspect this one will be that way. Maybe you'd like to help me finish it? What do you see happening next?


by Kim Smith, copyright 2015


Coming Home
by Kim Smith

Coming home is like breathing in a dust storm. You can do it, but you might die, and if you don’t do it, you will certainly die.

My return pulled at me like so many hands plucking my sleeve. Memories engulfed me. Surviving this visit would be hard, but that didn’t stop me from climbing off the train in Memphis. The familiar scenery hit me like a blues song. Coming home, being alone, feeling gone, all done.

The acrid scent of hot pavement, and roses wafted up. Crepe myrtles in fiery array all down Riverside Drive greeted me, and I looked up to see people on the bluffs enjoying the sights and sun. I joined them for a little while, sitting and waiting for that glimmer of hope that happened at the end of every day when you live near water. The hope called sunset, hope of a better tomorrow.

Sunsets over the Mississippi River is all gold and red and orange, and when the shadows fall and darkness swamps the whole area, a sojourner could feel lost. Loss of bearings, loss of self-lost forever in what might have been, not what had been, for what had been had done its worst and moved on. I moved on too, down the cobblestones slanting down to the river and my past.

Beale Street was the same as ever. Music spilled out of each doorway like a private concert being played just for me as I passed. The sounds of broken conversations, the tinkle of beer mugs being passed about, all created a symphony of sound that made me want to go inside.

But I didn’t. I kept moving. My heartbreak like a guitar strung around my neck, hanging useless waiting to be picked up and turned into life again.

When I arrived at Meemaw’s house, I knew coming home was just the period at the end of a sentence with no meaning. I had to come here. The old place brought tears to my eyes and washed away some of the misery inside my heart. The ramshackle building hosted a long well-used porch, complete with porch swing, now aloof and lonely. Maybe being here would fill the emptiness that traveling had not. Maybe my loss would find company here.

Out back, I could hear Pappy scraping food from a plate into the dog’s pan. The old flea-ridden Beagle shook her whole body as she waited happily, anticipating the morsels he’d put there. He straightened and saw me.

I greeted him and was embraced with a toothless smile. A welcome home. A “so sorry it has to be this way”. He didn’t have to tell me. He felt the loss as much as I did. No matter how far away I’d roam, I’d never forget the tears filling his eyes as he spoke of her.

We went into the living room where the worn out flowered sofa sat looking forlorn as if it wanted Meemaw to come and lie on it again. I knew I did. Pappy did. The place was never going to be the same without her.

Coming home was as bittersweet as missing the last piece of Meemaw’s best chocolate pie. But being home was as twice as welcome. I was home. Home was where life began.

______
Kim Smith has more freebies for you on her website, http://www.kimsmithauthor.com

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Three Gems

Hello MB4 Readers!

I'm back from Colorado this week and catching up as we speak. So, in lieu of my post today, I'd like to share three little gems with you guys.

1) From historical fiction writer, Eleanor Khuns:

Salem has a long history as a maritime city. It was an era when smuggling was so accepted even gentlemen engaged pretty openly in smuggling. Don’t believe me? Well, in New York protection money was paid to Governor Fletcher and Thomas Tew, a Rhode Island Pirate, was frequently Fletcher’s dinner guest.

The tunnels of Salem – Smuggling in the Colonies as a way of life. http://wp.me/p1Xrwn-a8

2) From the talented Uvi Poznasky:

When my father passed away, I went back home for the traditional Shiva-a, the seven days period of mourning. Perhaps the grief did something to change the way I viewed things, or else it was sitting in that space--my childhood home--in a spot I rarely sat before.

 http://uviart.blogspot.com/2013/11/seeing-my-home-through-fish-eye.html

3) And from MB4's very own, Aaron Paul Lazar, a free excerpt from TERROR COMES KNOCKING: a Sam Moore Mystery, part of the green marble series, which you can read by visiting Aaron's Facebook page at:
 
 
 
Enjoy!
 
 
D.