Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas to All!


Sometimes life gets in the way of...well, everything. I haven't written much since early summer. I know, it's crazy. I'm the guy who proclaimed "I hope to write a hundred books before I die." Really? I'm at sixteen books and I feel...stalled.

I guess it was family health issues that pushed me off track, for the most part. While I've recognized and handled my own issue (high sugar levels) and I'm now fit and healthier than ever before, I've needed to refocus on life and take an extra hour or two every day to exercise. 
I've loved my morning walks (yes, even in the cold & dark) because I listen to audio books and it's been fantastic. But this refocusing on health sure has done a number on my "free time.' 
In other words, my writing time has pretty much evaporated. 
It feels strange to say this in a year when my publisher released seven of my books. Seven! And we have three ready to go in 2013. And yes, I've been poking around rewriting/editing some of my yet-to-be-released LeGarde books (Virtuoso, to be exact). 
But editing and prepping and promoting  just isn't the same as writing something new and fresh. That's the fun part of being an author. I miss it, but I'm sure I'll get back to it soon.
But who am I to complain? In this age where children are shot in their own schools and soldiers are dying for our freedom, I truly have no rights to grumble. 
I'm grateful to have my family. I'm so eternally grateful... And every day I hug and hold them as much as I can without them batting me away and telling me "enough already!" 
So please, in this season of holiday joy, please go hug and kiss your loved ones a little extra today. And have a very Merry Christmas. 
Warmest wishes to you and yours...
Aaron Paul Lazar

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Since this is my last post before the holidays, I just wanted to say Merry Christmas to all our readers, followers, and fans. This has been a difficult year for me and mine and I have still managed to get out some short stories for you. I look forward to 2013 and some books! I know you do, too.

If you are a writer, published or not, you are special. So many people want to do what you are doing, but for one reason or another, never do.

Remember you are special, and spread that magic throughout this season of giving.

Find someone to be kind to, love on, make a fuss over. The world needs your special sauce drizzled everywhere.

God bless you all, and may your holiday be the best you've ever had.

Merry Christmas, Murderers.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Gearing up for the big holiday

Have you ever taken a moment from the shopping, wrapping, stressing, partying, eating, celebrating, and worshipping, to think about YOURSELF?

Me neither.

Why is that?

Well, I think if you are a writer, it is because you are always thinking of someone else. You think of your characters, their villains, mentors, and associates. You make up their stories, their lives, their families to the point where you sort of lose your own identity.

Now, go back to the holiday scenario.

see the connection?

You are ALWAYS thinking of someone else. Either your imaginary world, or your real one whereby others are clamoring for your attention. There just isn't enough room in the world (mental or not) for YOU.

That can be a bad thing. No, really.

Go out today and tell everyone that asks something of you, no. Tell them that just for a day you are going to say yes to only yourself and your needs. You are going to sleep later if you think you want to. You are going to make coffee just for you. A golden maple flavor is excellent in my opinion. You are going to eat bad food, including ice cream. Or better yet, go see the new movie opening tomorrow. The Hobbit, an Unexpected Journey. Guaranteed to make you happy.

For this day of yours, you are going to play on the computer and not blog. NO writing either. Not unless you really want to. This is a day to do for YOU what others cannot. Only YOU can do for YOU what is needed to keep the sanity strong.

Enjoy this day, Murderers. You will find that gearing up for this big holiday coming at us like Gandalf playing bagpipes riding a unicycle isn't so bad when we have a bit of selfish peace- imposed on us by us.

And in the immortal words of Scarlett O'Hara, tomorrow is another day.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Kim Smith: short stories

Just thought I would add my offerings in here for the Christmas shopping season. I have recently added to my repertoire of short stories, and have a new one up at Smashwords. It is sort of an experimental fantasy fiction entitled "Anenome Hanks". I hope you will get it for your stocking, as it is only $1.00.

If you want more of my Shannon and Dwayne mystery/adventures, there will be one up at Red Rose calledThe Christmas Heist. It is a short story as well and I am sure they will price it reasonably.

There at RRP you will find two more of my short stories, The Christmas Kiss, a sweet romance. And under my pen name, Kaycee Conners, there is Christmas Layover. That one is a spicy romance, so just saying if you are not into the love/romance/sensual thing, those are not for you.

I hope you will check out all my books this year, especially if you are a new Murderer here at Mb4. They are on Amazon for Kindle, and that will be a very good place to start shopping with that new Kindle Fire HD you get for a gift.

Didn't think I knew about that, did ya?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Are you a lonely writer? (aren't we all...)

Hi, folks.

If you're a writer and sometimes feel lonely, please don't. We're in this together and we've all suffered horrible disappointments, rejections, and bad reviews as well as our first glowing review or piece of fan mail.

I've written about my own experiences over the years through blogs and articles here on MB4, and my publisher decided it would be a good idea to gather them up to share with writers of all levels.

I've entitled the collection "Write Like the Wind," and there are now three volumes. Maybe someday when I've written more articles I'll add a fourth volume, but for now, this is it!

The eBooks are only 99 cents each, which isn't too bad. Here's a bit about them if you'd be interested in taking a look. ;o)

Kindle eBook, 99 cents each

This writing guide is a collection of articles I’ve written over the past seven years for fiction writers of all levels. Whenever I stumbled across something in the writing process, whether it was new-to-me technical skills or promotional methods, I wanted to share them with my network of writing pals. I was driven to help new writers just as my mentors helped me in the beginning of my career. Sort of like paying it forward, you know?

One of my favorite sayings I use when I sign off from my articles is “remember to take pleasure in the little things, and if you love to write, write like the wind!”

I guess it’s a strange concept, but I have this vision of unleashing swirling gusts of words just like the wind that rattles leaves in trees and blows hats along the sidewalk. Don’t stop to analyze, don’t hesitate, don’t edit yourself to death. There’s plenty of time for that later (and then you can “Edit Like an Architect” like my friend Natalie Neal Whitefield says.) Just let it all out in one big gushing explosion of words, and keep going until you reach the last chapter.

Thanks for ordering this guide. I’d love to hear from you, so if you’d like to say hello, feel free to drop me a line at or stop by my website at
Aaron Paul Lazar

Volume 1:

What Makes a Writer Tick?

1.     Motivation
2.     Balancing Life and Writing
3.     Writing From The Heart
4.     Defining a “Real” Writer

The Nuts and Bolts of Writing

5.     Advice for New Writers
6.     Forbidden Words
7.     The Hook
8.     Writing Like You Talk

Marketing and Building Your Platform

1.     Bringing Back the Dead
2.     Writing Reviews to Build Your Platform
3.     How Radio Shows Can Help Writers
4.     Tweet, tweet! (I feel like a bird)
5.     Read an eBook Week — an experiment

A Little Poetry, Please

6.     Word Painting
7.     Squeeze a Little Poetry Into Your Novel
8.     Savor the Moment

Learn to Write by Reading

9.     Listen to the Master – John D. MacDonald
10.  Speaking in Voices – Tami Hoag

Dreams – Do They Influence Your Writing?

11.  Connecting through Dreams
12.  Downtime and Dreams

Defining Success

The Ultimate Reward

Volume 2:

What Makes a Writer Tick?

1.     Finding Time to Write
2.     A Writer’s Life
3.     Cheap Therapy

The Nuts and Bolts of Writing

4.     The Dreaded Synopsis
5.     Writing Love Scenes
6.     Writing From a Woman’s POV (when you’re a guy)
7.     Tag Team Query Letters
8.     Beta Readers — who they are and why you need them

Marketing and Building Your Platform

9.    Blogging — what’s the big deal?
10.  Live Chats — do they sell books?
11.  Writing Columns and Branding Yourself
12.  Audio Books — how to get your novels into ACX

Dealing with Rejection or Unfair Criticism

13.  The Shredding
14.  Rejection! (Is your book REALLY that bad?)

Character Letters – examples

15.  Sam Moore Speaks
16.  Message from Gus LeGarde

Where Do You Write?

17.  Writing on the River
18.  Writing on the Road
19.  Writing with Kids
20.  Face-to-Face with Writers (in real life!)

Author Interviews – some examples
Interview with Aaron Lazar by Dorothy James

Volume 3:

What Makes a Writer Tick?

1.     Are All Writers Egoists?
2.     Practical Advice for Writers
3.     Chasing the Writing High
4.     Coping Skills for Writers in Hard Times

The Nuts and Bolts of Writing

5.     Dialogue Tags
6.     Your Preface: what it is, when to write it
7.     Writing the Tough Stuff (or killing the one you love)
8.     Setting the Scene in Your Own Backyard
9.     Typing “The End”

Marketing and Building Your Platform

10.  Being a Guest on Radio Shows — how hard is it?
11.  My First Book Signing
12.  Freebies — clever marketing, or foolish folly?
13.  Recording Your Character’s Voice

Plotting and Ideas

14.  What Scares You?
15.  Using Emotions to Drive Your Next Plot (“It’s Over”)
16.  Response to “It’s Over”
17.  Comfort Movies (plot themes)

Character Interviews and Letters – examples

18.  Interview with Oscar Stone
19.  Interview with Sam Moore
20.  Interview with Siegfried Marggrander
Interview with Ruby, from Tall Pines Mysteries

Thank you all and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

Aaron Paul Lazar

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Falling in love again... with Dick Francis

Hello, fellow writers and readers. You may have noticed I've been sort of missing lately. I haven't posted my usual Sunday blogs in a while, and I've neglected to comment on the articles of others. This piece is my first in quite a while, and I hope it will at least in part explain what's been going on in my life.... Thanks for your patience, I love you all!  - Aaron

Falling in Love Again... with Dick Francis
copyright 2012 Aaron Paul Lazar

I've always loved mysteries, and mysteries featuring horses have topped the list since I was a kid. In my youth, I devoured books by Agatha Christie, John D. MacDonald, Rex Stout, and many more, but one of my very favorites was Dick Francis, who I've re-discovered because of a weird and frustrating event in my life.

Since I got a wake up call from my doctor last July (high sugar, type II), I've put almost all of my energy into getting healthy. I get up at 5 AM, do my chores around the house, then take off at 6:30 for a long walk up and down dirt roads with big hills (3-5 miles depending on the day) to get my stupid liver in gear.

Since doing this almost every day since July 11th, 2012, I've lost a lot of weight, gone down four pant sizes, become very anal about tracking and plotting my fasting sugar levels and two-hours-after-eating levels, weigh myself obsessively (without pants naturellement, those jeans weigh over a pound!), and eat pretty much like Ghandi.

All is good now. I'm on a routine. I'm healthy. My cholesterol is fantastically low. My BP is good again. And I'm now my doctor's poster boy for how to handle type II Diabetes without medication.

But I digress. 

One of the finest outcomes of this whole maddening situation has to do with what I do while I walk.

I listen.

I listen to so many books per week now, my intake of books has doubled, and that's on top of my eBook consumption which had already quadrupled my "normal" quota of print books. It's phenomenal!

I listen while walking for 1.5 hours daily. I listen in the car to and from work. And I even listening while grocery shopping.

I'm talking about audiobooks, of course, the latest and greatest super duper thing to come from bluetooth and wireless technology. With the help of, I've gone through all of Michael Prescott's tautly written thrillers. I've been buying and listening to  John D. MacDonald books (Travis McGee series, I intend to listen to the all), and lately I have re-discovered Mr. Dick Francis and his string (not series) of amazing British mysteries often set on racecourses or in the beautiful country-side of England.

I feel as if I'm delving deeper into this talented writer's words than ever before, when I read and coveted his paperbacks long ago. The interpretation by narrator Simon Prebble is so poignant, so intimate, so... gosh darned moving, that I think I'd be entranced listening to this man read the phone book.

Here are a few of the books that I've recently listened to by Mr. Francis, who passed away in 2010. Each time I listen to one of these books, it becomes my newest favorite. Honest, that's how good they are. I heartily recommend each one!

Decider | [Dick Francis]

The stakes are deadly at Stratton Park. Architect and family man Lee Morris never gave much thought to the shares he inherited of the Stratton Park racecourse, the multi-million dollar property owned by the powerful Stratton family. His mother had first received the shares to keep her quiet about the abuse she had suffered at the hands of her first husband, Keith Stratton. Now, much to Lee's chagrin, he is being drawn into the thick of the Stratton family squabbles as they wage a furious debate over the future of the race track. 

So when Lee packs his six sons into his renovated old bus to visit the racetrack, he finds himself embroiled in a supremely dangerous game that extends much deeper than horse racing. And perhaps too late, Lee realizes his involvement in the racetrack may cost him more than he bargained for. It may cost him his life.

My comments: This would be one of my top audiobooks to recommend. Outstanding quality, story, performance. One of my all time favorites from an already favorite author from way back. I wish Mr. Francis were alive to share my reviews with - I am so grateful for his insight, talent, and inspiration to all writers. ;o)

Proof | [Dick Francis]

With this New York Times best seller, Dick Francis creates an intoxicating blend of the good life, fast horses, and nail-biting suspense. 

After a shattering accident plunges a society soiree into chaos, an unassuming wine merchant is left with the bitter aftertaste of suspicion and fear. While catering an outdoor party for a prominent horse trainer, Tony Beach hears rumors of inferior whisky being sold under premium labels. All of that is forgotten, however, when a runaway horse trailer suddenly plows into the guest-filled tent. Later, after the last victim is pulled from the debris, he begins searching for answers to both the fraudulent spirits and the disaster. 

As Tony follows up leads, he finds himself pulled deeper and deeper into a treacherous world filled with greed, deception, and unspeakable murder. 

Incomparable storyteller Dick Francis grabs your attention on page one and keeps you riveted throughout to the smashing finish. With narrator Simon Prebble’s dramatic timing and superb accents, you’ll find Proof a vintage mystery to be savored.

My comments:  I just finished this book this morning, and I'm still mourning it's end. How will I go on without my daily fix? (aside from starting the next Dick Francis audio book!) The author brought to life a man who suffered deep and traumatic losses, and in the background, oh so subtly, makes his readers/listeners fall in love with the character. A true masterpiece!

Break In | [Dick Francis] 

Jockey Kit Fielding has been riding the de Brescous horses in a succession of triumphs on the race course. But this winning streak is about to end. Kit’s twin sister, Holly, has come to him in desperation. Threatened by financial scandal, she and her husband may lose their training stables. Kit soon finds, though, that a greater danger lurks behind the threat - one that could be fatal. 

Narrator Simon Prebble has received enthusiastic praise for his superb performances of the Dick Francis novels. His sophisticated British voice is perfect for Kit Fielding, the elegant duchess who employs him, and the other polished residents of the horse racing world.

My comments:  The rendering of the various British accents, handling of youth vs. elderly ages, women vs. men's voices... beautifully done! Kudos to an outstanding narrator, and of course, to the amazing talent of the late Dick Francis. 

Hot Money | [Dick Francis] 

Malcolm Pembroke never expected to make a million pounds without making enemies. Nor did he expect his latest wife to be brutally murdered. All the clues suggest the killer comes from close to home, but after five marriages and nine children, that still leaves the field wide open. When he find his own life in danger, Pembroke entrusts his safety to his estranged son, Ian, an amateur jockey; and through him discovers a compulsive new outlet for his financial expertise. Soon he's playing the international blood stock market for incredible stakes. Not the safest bet for a man on the run from avaricious relatives. Particularly when one of them's got a bomb.  

My comments: This book was the first freebie I got from Audible. The narrator, Tony Britton, was quite talented, but in my humble opinion, he didn't quite match the level of Simon Prebble. Don't know if anyone could! Good story, however, which held my interest throughout.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Where do you start?

Some time ago, I mentioned in a varied group of people that I am a writer. Some met this news with glee and wanted to know all about what I wrote and where they could find it. Others nodded and said they wanted to write a book but didn't know where to start.

Well, start at the beginning, I suggested to them. I am suggesting that to you as well. But if you truly do not know where the beginning of your story is, then you might do well to check out below the list of authors I have compiled and how they jump-start a story.

John Irving: starts his story with the last line then works backwards until he has the whole story.
Ian McEwan: keeps a rigid schedule with morning for writing and evening for reading. He believes in getting at least 500-800 words in the morning and that reading helps him write.
Elmore Leonard begins with a character. You have to delve into who, what, where, when, but beginning with character is a great place to start.
Diana Gabaldon begins with description. She explained how she started out describing an antique goblet then went to the hand that held it and then the hand that pushed the decanter closer, and before long she had a whole scene.
Karen White often begins with place. Her books are so filled with the essence of place that the setting often is like a special character in her book.

Okay, that's it, Murderers. Get busy. There will be a test.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving, America!

I have thought all month long (on FB) of things I am thankful for. We call it the 30 Days of Thanksgiving or #30DOT for those following on Twitter. There are a lot of things to be thankful for! Some days I have found it difficult to post a "thankful for" post.

Now I want to post about what I am MOST thankful for. This is a toughie, and should be something special. But you, dear Murderers, know me. You know I am a simple woman. I write simple books, I am not complicated in any way.

So, what am I most thankful for?


Yes, it is so simple, but so true. I have been blessed with a great group of people to walk this earth with. My parents were not perfect. No parent is. But they did their best to raise four kids. I wasn't denied much.

My siblings have taught me life's greatest lessons. How to love. How to give thanks. Yes, my siblings!

My life has been graced with two husbands. One gave me my children, the other gave me my adult life. They taught me how to really appreciate things.

My kids are the greatest people on earth. They work hard, they love harder, and they are making a definite difference in the world. Without these two people, my life would be far different and much less rich.

I hope you will take time out today to tell those who are in your family how much you love them. Tell them today, Murderers. We are not guaranteed tomorrows.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Banker Spy by William G. Byrnes

Please tell us about your current release.

The Banker Spy weaves history into a contemporary thriller about ex-lovers who become entangled in a web of international intrigue. Investment banker Peter Armstrong believes he’s left his past in the States. He has an exciting new job in London and is managing the largest equity offering in European history. Behind him are an incident at his old employer and a broken engagement. He thinks his only problem is his client—an automobile company desperate for cash. Then he receives a phone call from his ex-fiancée, Dayna Caymus, a beautiful and unpredictable CIA agent.

When Peter discovers that his client is secretly working for the German government the two ex-lovers enter into an uneasy alliance, which their past sometimes helps and sometimes hurts, all the while sorting through their feelings for each other. Dayna puts her mission first, leading Peter into a labyrinth of deception and conspiracy. Peter loses his client, his job, and almost his life as they race to learn Germany’s secrets—secrets that could start a nuclear war.

Set against the backdrop of a national election, action takes place in and around Munich, and in Berlin, Washington and London.

Can you tell us about the journey that led you to write your book?

I always wanted to write and for years would sketch out ideas, but they lacked the critical mass to develop into a book. My wife and I were flying to Germany for a vacation a few years ago. Whenever we’d go to Europe I’d buy a book that had something to do with the country we were visiting. I’d read a lot about the World War II area, an interest of mine, and wanted something different. So I picked up a book on post-War Germany and read it on the flight over. The story of The Banker Spy literally came to me by the time I’d finished reading the book. Over dinner the next night, I outlined the plot to my wife. With some modifications and embellishments, it’s the story you’ll read in The Banker Spy.

Can you tell us about the story behind your book cover?

It’s pretty straightforward. I wanted a cover, and a title, that conveyed a sense of the book to the reader. On the cover is a man in a suit, carrying a briefcase, and a woman holding binoculars, standing next to each other. This suggests (I hope!) the two principal characters are a man and a woman, and they have a relationship. The suit and briefcase conveys the banker and the binoculars, the spy. They’re looking at landmark buildings, which gives the reader the idea where the book takes place.

What approaches have you taken to marketing your book?

I’m just beginning marketing and I’m very excited about my blog tour. I’m also asking friends and professional reviewers to post reviews about The Banker Spy. I believe that creating a buzz through word-of-mouth and posted reviews is the most effective way for an indie author, particularly one who’s published an eBook, to generate interest.

What book on the market does yours compare to? How is your book different?

I really like Daniel Silva’s work. I’m not comparing myself to him or his books. Silva’s obviously an extremely successful author. I like that his books are set in Europe and he conveys a feel for the locale, particularly Italy. His principal characters are in a relationship and both are spies, although neither want to be. In The Banker Spy, the banker is dragged into espionage, just like Silva’s characters get called back into service. My principal characters have a more complicated, at times adversarial, relationship than Silva’s and it’s not resolved at the end of The Banker Spy.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I’m not sure if this is a quirk but I like delving into history as part of the story, perhaps in greater detail then most thriller writers. The Banker Spy draws on historical events and places. The past is carried forward and guides the plot. Even my characters are deeply influenced by their pasts. Oftentimes, I got lost in my research because I found the information so interesting. This isn’t a historical novel, it takes place today and is very contemporary, but it has a strong historical basis and my characters experience the influences of history.

Open your book to a random page and tell us what’s happening.

Since you can’t flip open an eBook, I swept my stylus quickly along the bottom of my iPad’s screen and wound up at the last page in chapter 21. Dayna, Peter’s ex-fiancée and CIA agent, is talking to the CIA station chief in Berlin about the chancellor of Germany. Germany is in the midst of a national election and the chancellor is running for his second, and final, term. The race is close. Unknown to the German voters, the chancellor has a secret program to make Germany a nuclear power and reclaim the territory it lost after World War II. Dayna is tasked with stopping the chancellor. If she can come up with something bad from his past, he will lose the election and the German threat will end.

Do you plan any subsequent books?

I put a lot of thought into developing my principal characters, Peter and Dayna. I think there’s good tension and a complicated chemistry between them (of course, I’m biased!) and I’d like to see how their relationship plays out. I planted the seeds for their next adventure in The Banker Spy when Peter, an investment banker, gets the assignment to sell the German automobile company that figures prominently in the story. I’m thinking about sending them to Mexico or South America, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Tell us what you’re reading at the moment and what you think of it.

I like reading a mixture of non-fiction (principally history and business) and fiction. I just finished Killing Lincoln, by O’Reilly and Dugard. The book conveyed a real sense of time and place. The authors communicated a great deal of information about Lincoln, the civil war and Washington, D.C. As O’Reilly said, it reads like a thriller. In fiction, my latest read was Daniel Silva’s Fallen Angel. Just like his principal character, Silva paints wonderful pictures of his characters and locations. Just before that I read David Baldacci’s (another favorite author of mine) The Innocent. Like Silva, Baldacci creates unique characters. Baldacci’s books are fast moving and I like that much of the action takes place around Washington, DC, where I’ve lived most of my life.

From the pen of William G. Byrnes...

The real-life inspiration for my Dayna character once said to me that a good book both entertains and imparts knowledge. I had no desire to write a literary novel. I wanted to write a page turner! And, I took to heart the adage “write what you know.” I know something about investment banking, having been one for seventeen years. The obvious skill is transaction management, such as the equity offering in the book. The more subtle skill is client management, which my banker character puts to the test with an egotistical CEO and deceptive CFO. I wrote about my passions—European travel, history, wines, and automobiles. I hope I brought these alive and The Banker Spy provides escape and entertainment for you.

I wanted The Banker Spy to be both vivid and factually accurate. In the course of writing the book my wife and I made two trips to Germany. We visited every locale described in the book, except one. (For that, I enlisted the aid of Google Earth.) So when I say, for example, the characters turn left, head down the Ebertstrasse past the American embassy and the Holocaust Memorial, the reader could retrace the characters steps in Berlin. I took some liberties with the World War II manufacturing sites. In one case I was blocked from getting close by a chain link fence topped with concertina wire, so I had to use my imagination. In another, I combined two sites into one. I saw pictures of the L-shaped protrusions along route 2 outside of Augsburg described in my book, but I don’t know if they still exist or what purpose they serve. It’s on my bucket list to go back and find out.

The more ambitious part of writing The Banker Spy was following the real Dayna’s dictum to impart knowledge. When I began I was under the, perhaps naïve, assumption that the physical reminders, such as buildings, of Nazi Germany has been obliterated. That is not the case. Trappings such as Nazi eagles and swastikas have been removed but the buildings remain. In Munich, Hitler’s apartment, the beer garden where he narrowly escaped assassination, and the plaza where he gave many speeches are essentially unchanged. Goering’s Luftwaffe headquarters in Berlin is now the Ministry of Finance. Many of the underground manufacturing facilities, where slave labor produced V1 and V2 rockets, remain. Some are open for tours.

Although I had some knowledge of post-war Europe, I had no idea about the shifting of German, Polish and Russians borders, the mass deportations that followed or the_______ brutal winters that added to the suffering and death. At times, The Banker Spy seemed to write itself. Russia occupying Silesia, giving it to Poland, and deporting all ethnic Germans became the basis for politically powerful expellee groups in Germany and Germany’s desire to reclaim its lost territory. All figure prominently in my story. A writer learns from writing.


More info about this author, his PR company, Tribute Books, and the book:

Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:

The Banker Spy blog tour site:

William G. Byrnes's Bio:

Bill Byrnes was an investment banker with Alex. Brown & Sons for 17 years. After that he was a Distinguished Teaching Professor of Finance and, subsequently, member of the Board of Regents at Georgetown University. He's founded three companies and has served on the boards of six public companies. He holds degrees from Georgetown University and the University of Michigan. His interests include European and Mesoamerican history, wine collecting, and automobiles. He's happiest around the water and on the tennis court. Bill, his wife, and their two poodles divide their time between Washington, DC and West Palm Beach, FL.

Format/Price: $2.99 ebook
Publisher: Publish Green
ISBN: 9781938296345
Release: August 27, 2012

Kindle buy link ($2.99):

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Narrow Path by Brandt Dodson

copyright 2012, Brandt Dodson

I was only six years old, but I can still remember the scene. I was in art class, sitting behind my desk, painting feverishly and enjoying every minute of it. That is, until my teacher walked past.

She snatched my paper and told the other kids to set their brushes down. Holding my work high overhead she asked "Is this any good?"

A unified "no" emanated from my colleagues, and she set the painting on my desk before walking away. I can remember tossing my brush onto the paper, resigned that my artistic career was finished.

Fast forward to the fifth grade: We were given a story to write, based on a black and white photograph of two teenagers playing handball in an inner city alley. Inspired, I wrote a tale about a ball that contained a bomb that would detonate and level the city if the players ceased playing. I'm not sure how I got those kids out of their predicament, but I do remember the teacher reading my story to the class as an example of the type of writing she was seeking. My desire to write was set.

A few years later, while in high school, I had a creative writing teacher who despised her students even more than they despised her - if that were possible. Her desire to be somewhere else - anywhere else - was apparent from the start. Yet I enjoyed the class. Writing allowed me the freedom to create,and this teacher, tired as she was, noticed my efforts. She asked me to stay after class one day.

"If you don't write, if you don't do this, you'll regret it for the rest of your life."


When Chicago detectives Frank Campello and Andy Polanski are assigned to investigate the murder of Trina Martinez it seems like an ordinary homicide. An unfortunate young girl in the wrong place at the wrong time has been brutally murdered. But their investigation is halted by a wall of silence, a wall erected by powerful interests that will render their inquiry a lost cause.

Then they enlist the support of reporter Christy Lee – and come under immediate fire. Polanski is arrested. Campello threatened. Christy is attacked.

It’s the case that every cop gets. The one that changes his life. The one where justice is elusive and the hunter becomes the hunted.

Frank Campello and Andy Polanski are The Sons of Jude.


Brandt Dodson was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, which he would later choose as the setting for his Colton Parker Mystery series. Although he discovered in grade school that he wanted to be a writer, it would be another twenty-one years before he would put pen to paper.“I knew in fifth grade that I wanted to be a writer. Our teacher had given each of us a photograph which we were to use as inspiration for a short story. The particular photo I was given was of several young men playing handball in New York City. I don’t remember all of the particulars of the story now, but I do remember the thrill that writing it gave me.”

Later, while in college, one of Brandt’s professors would echo that teacher’s comment.

“But life intervened and I found myself working at a variety of jobs. I worked in the toy department of a local department store and fried chicken for a local fast food outlet. Over the course of the next several years I finished my college degree and worked for the Indianapolis office of the FBI, and served for eight years as a Naval Officer in the United States Naval Reserve. I also obtained my doctorate in Podiatric Medicine, and after completion of my surgical residency, opened my own practice. But I never forgot my first love. I wanted to write.”

During his early years in practice, Brandt began reading the work of Dean Koontz.

“I discovered Dean’s book, The Bad Place, and was completely blown away by his craftsmanship. I read something like 13 or 14 of his back list over the following two weeks. It wasn’t long after that I began to write and submit in earnest.”

Still, it would be another twelve years before Brandt was able to secure the publishing contract he so desperately desired.

“I began by writing the type of fiction that I enjoyed; I wrote edgy crime thrillers that were laced with liberal amounts of suspense. Over the years, I’ve begun to write increasingly more complex work by using broader canvases and themes.

Since securing his first contract, Brandt has continued to pen the type of stories that inspired him to write when he was a boy, and that have entertained his legions of readers.

“I love to write, and as long as others love to read, I plan on being around for a long time to come.”

Brandt Dodson’s latest book is the crime thriller The Sons of Jude.
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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Under the Eye of God by Jerome Charyn

When Tribute Books contacted me to do a review for Jerome Charyn's Under the Eye of God, the title intrigued me so much I jumped on the chance. That, and the fact that I was out of something decent to read at the moment. As has been the trend, TB hasn't steered me wrong with books to read before. They have all been dynamite reads.

No exception here.

I liked this book, Under the Eye of God, I really liked it. Because I have never read an Isaac Sidel book before, and as he is driving this bus, (I should have uncovered him in a prior work-really, where HAVE I BEEN?) I came to appreciate him in ways others who have not been so remiss might not. He is a bigger than life character, and complex, and vivid.

Charyn writes with a knowledge of New York like nobody's business. There is no questioning he knows the city. And his efforts to inject that knowledge into this novel shows so that you are mentally right there. Charyn's mastery of plot structure and characterizations were excellent as well. I liked his references to incidents in historical places and events of the past, some I've even lived through (i.e. Vietnam). The story move to Texas was an easy transition, necessary for the political aspect of the story, (and some other plot lines that I cannot tell you about or spoil it~!!)

An enjoyable story. A readable story.

The story didn't move as fast as most of today's crime thrillers, with their high stakes and high action, but it was a change that interested me. I still cared about Isaac Sidel. I felt like he was truly in danger when the action ramped up. The treatment of the Ansonia was (to this ole Southern gal) done well, so well, I was there! A good thing, too, as the setting in that old building colored everything that happened from that point onward. (it reminded me of the Peabody here in my little burg).

The friendships forged at the Ansonia fizzled, then rekindled, then took a downward turn keeping the reader guessing about their strange alliances. I wanted them to be friends, but frenemies they became and as always, with a cool ending in mind. Isaac Sidel's delight in the woman, Inez/Trudy, was truly a love-gone-wrong. She was used as bait, and reminded me of the old days of movies where Humphrey Bogart peered into the camera with a cigarette dangling from his lips, sadness in his eyes. (Inez/Trudy was the most likable character in the book, in my opinion. A bombshell straight out of pulp fiction-which may be Mr. Charyn's finest writing talent).

As this was my first of Charyn's books, I felt a little out of my element, and for that I apologize. My first travels into the world of the man they called Mr. President came late to the game, but I had no trouble catching up. Although it is a part of a series it is a good stand-alone also.

I would recommend this book to those who love crime fiction/thrillers, Isaac Sidel fans, and people who love books that show that -how shall we say- seedier side of life?

Until next time...xoxo Murderers.


Jerome Charyn's web site:

Jerome Charyn's Facebook:!/jerome.charyn

Jerome Charyn's Twitter:

Isaac Sidel's Facebook:

Isaac Sidel's Twitter:!/IsaacSidel

Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:

Under the Eye of God blog tour site:

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Under the Eye of God Book Summary

After decades of madness in the Bronx, Isaac Sidel visits the craziest state in the country.

Isaac Sidel is too popular to be America’s vice president. Once the New York Police Department commissioner, he became the most beloved mayor in the city’s history—famous for his refusal to surrender his Glock, and for his habit of disappearing for months at a time to fight crime at street level. So when baseball czar J. Michael Storm asks Sidel to join him on the election’s Democratic ticket, the two wild men romp to an unprecedented landslide. But as the president-elect’s mandate goes off the rails—threatened by corruption, sex, and God knows what else—he tires of being overshadowed by Sidel, and dispatches him to a place from which tough politicians seldom return: Texas.

In the Lone Star state, Sidel confronts rogue astrologers, accusations of pedophilia, and a dimwitted assassin who doesn’t know when to take an easy shot. If this Bronx bomber doesn’t watch his step, he risks making vice-presidential history by getting killed on the job.

Jerome Charyn's Bio:
Jerome Charyn (b. 1937) is the critically acclaimed author of nearly fifty books. Born in the Bronx, he attended Columbia College, where he fell in love with the works of William Faulkner and James Joyce. After graduating, he took a job as a playground director and wrote in his spare time, producing his first novel, a Lower East Side fairytale called Once Upon a Droshky, in 1964.

In 1974 Charyn published Blue Eyes, his first Isaac Sidel mystery. Begun as a distraction while trying to finish a different book, this first in a series of Sidel novels introduced the eccentric, near-mythic detective and his bizarre cast of sidekicks. Charyn followed the character through Citizen Sidel (1999), which ends with his antihero making a run at the White House. Charyn, who divides his time between New York and Paris, is also accomplished at table tennis, and once ranked amongst France’s top Amazon10 percent of ping-pong players.

Price: $14.99
Release: October 30, 2012

Amazon buy link

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Thursday, November 1, 2012


About this time in 2009, I wrote about my little dog, Tinkerbell, and how we had to get her fixed. I used that as an analogy for "fixing" our writing.

It cannot be stated enough. You must do some self-editing of your work before submission. I have heard a lot of nonsense from writers who say, well, that is what they (meaning book publishers/others) have editors for.

No. Just--NO.

Here are a few things to ponder about how to do this self-editing job.

1. If you worry that you are not good with editing your own work, try editing someone elses. I know that sounds funny to think that such activity could aid you but believe me, it does. I have edited contest entries, and other works for friends and authors who just needed a pair of eyes, and it really did help me find boo-boos in my own stuff.

2. Write a synopsis before starting edits. If you know the way the story is SUPPOSED to go before you edit it, you will recognize places where you have wandered off the path.

3. We all have tics. Those little things that make us unique. Even in our writing, we do this. Like saying LIKE all the time. And using THAT too much. Go through your work and eliminate those things.

4. Do use spell-check. It is there for a specific reason. If there is a little red underline on the manuscript, look at it closely and try to see if there is a reason.

5. And please, please, please do not overuse EXCLAMATION points.

I will consider other things you may find in the self-editing world and try to post them later. Until then, enjoy your first of November, Murderers. It's going to be a nice winter.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Essentially Yours: Finalist in EPIC 2013 Awards

I'm thrilled to report that ESSENTIALLY YOURS, book two in the Tall Pines Mysteries, is a finalist in the 2013 EPIC suspense/thriller eBook category! Woo Hoo! We will find out in the spring who wins the category. ;o)

Here's a bit about the book if you're interested in meeting Marcella and Quinn, Callie and Copper, Sky, and Beau, the big lovable Bernese Mountain Dog.


Marcella’s first love has been MIA for eighteen years. Callie, her best friend and Sky’s sister, flips out when a mysterious package from Sky arrives on her doorstep. Inside his old backpack are bottles of precious essential oils, a memory stick, and a bag of emeralds. Are these his final effects? Or is Sky alive?

When Marcella’s husband Quinn hears about it, his jealousy spikes. He and Marcella have been married for seven years, and he’s not about to let some punk from the past mess that up.

Drug company goons want the data on the memory stick, which links a newly discovered essential oil with a leukemia cure. They kidnap Callie, hoping to lure Sky into the open.
Marcella’s not so sure how she feels, but she remembers her scalding relationship with Sky and wonders about him.

Marcella and Quinn track her to the wilderness of the Adirondack Mountains, where against all odds they fight to save Callie and preserve the proof that could change the world.


Read an excerpt, here. 

Happy Sunday to all!


Friday, October 26, 2012

Why Do We Read Mayhem and Murder? by Marcia Applegate

copyright 2012, Marcia Applegate

A while ago, after having spent much too much time looking for a particular Ruth Rendell mystery among books scattered on the living room bookshelves, I decided to organize them by category–mysteries, classics, mainstream, humor, instructional, religion and of course miscellaneous. When I finished with those bookcases (I hadn’t yet done those in my study or the ones piled on tables and the floor), I was struck by the number of mysteries.

Intrigued, I went to my Nook e-reader library. There again, and not surprisingly, the mystery category was no small part of the books stored there. Wow, I thought, I spend quite a bit of my reading time with–chuckle, chuckle–blood and gore and murder and mayhem.

Which led to the question I’ve used as the title of this essay: Why do we read mayhem and murder? The obvious answer is: “It’s life. There have been murder and mayhem since earliest times. Look in the Bible. Read a history book or today’s newspaper. Read about wars, rebellions, uprisings.”

True, certainly. World history includes brutality in everyday life in every society, horrific legal punishments,  cruelty to children and animals, all part of every culture’s history. My question, though, is really “Why do we–members of a supposedly advanced and civilized society–enjoy reading and watching TV, video and DVD about blood and gore and horror and evil doings and doers? Aside from the real stuff that goes on in our world that we can read in the daily papers. I’m talking about fiction, although true crime is a big seller, too.

I tried to find the number of mystery books in all genres that were published in a given time span, maybe a year or two. No luck, though. Mysteries are generally lumped into the mainstream category, so I have no statistics to share.  I guess I’m a good example, though. There are 34 individual mystery writers on my shelves and those are only a tiny fraction of the total number of writers writing mysteries. Almost all of the 34 writers have more than one book on my shelves, some have many, and there are also plenty of mystery anthologies.

Certainly the attraction of people to crime and evil is a complex issue. A psychologist would have some answers. Students of the history of crime might have others, different ones. A cop would indeed have theories,  likely with a touch of cynicism. All of these individuals probably have substantial expertise on which to base an opinion.

But I, as a devoted reader of mystery fiction, am taking the liberty to declare myself an expert in my own reading, and therefore have an opinion to share with you. Note that I am not going for depth in my reasoning; what follows is what occurred to me after an afternoon of dusting and rearranging shelves of books. A good time for self-analysis.

My first reaction was to chuckle at the whole idea. I read genre fiction for escape, for relaxation. I’m escaping from the real world, where I live my life, where the news of the day is filled with awful stuff, at home and abroad, wars and rumors of wars–to get biblical.

My thinking goes like this: In past centuries, crime, evil, murder and mayhem were a normal part of everyday life for the average person. They didn’t need to read the paper, assuming they were literate. Today, even though we know perfectly well it’s not true, most of us live orderly lives, where evil and crime seem distant, apart from our own lives. We believe, we know–all evidence to the contrary–that crime won’t touch us or those close to us. How many times have we heard someone say, when their neighbor turns out to be a serial killer, “This is a safe neighborhood. He (or she) was so quiet, who’d ever suspect?”

So we feel safe, relatively. The kinds of excitements our ancestors experienced through the brutality of daily life is not part of ours. It’s safe for us to imagine evil, since we don’t expect it to confront us personally. We can be spies, murderers, robbers, jewel thieves, kidnappers, child abusers, dirty cops, any kind  of miscreant we choose, because it’s not real. Or we can solve crimes, wreak vengeance, dispense justice, be the good cop, lawyer or judge; it’s just in our imaginations.

All these can be enticing intellectual exercises, challenges to our wits and senses. We can get lost in a convoluted and scary plot by an inventive writer because it’s fun to be scared that way, when it’s not real. The scare goes away when we finish reading and we’re left with the enjoyment of a well-written story that took us out of our daily lives for a while. It gave us a peek at another way of life, one we wouldn’t dare try for real. A world we’re glad not to live in.

So. You most likely wouldn’t be reading this blog if you weren’t a mystery reader. Stop for a moment and think why you enjoy a good mystery, among all the other kinds of reading you do. Then use the comment space to share your thoughts.

I’d love to hear from you, find out what you think about the reasons so many millions of us, of different ages and places in life, with different backgrounds and different hopes for the future, why we have in common a love of reading, and in this case, of reading about murder and mayhem. 

Marcia Applegate blogs as  and tweets as!/meladolce

She is a retired communications/media consultant and columnist. For fun, she enjoys reading (and writing) mysteries and studying Italian. She also loves music, her husband and family, her two cats, eBooks, blogging, and her brand-new IPad! Visit her blogs at and

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Happy Halloween!

So...I have been missing. No, the Great Pumpkin didn't get me. My hubby had major surgery and was in ICU for a week. He is doing a lot better, now recovering at home. But these life things have a way of wreaking havoc on our writing lives and blogging/online presence.

I, on the other hand, am doing very well.

So in honor of Halloween coming fast at us, I am posting a little about the writing life for us pertaining to paying fees. Yes, there are still THOSE places. Don't be a jack-o-lantern -- pay attention!

If you are a newer author, and don't know what to look out for, here is a short list.

Fee paying agents -- don't do this. Just don't. There is no reason to ever pay anyone to consider your work. Especially with the rise of places to publish yourself for free.

For pay writing contests -- Pay $5, or $10, or $50 for a chance to win $500 they say. Well, why? Do the math. The writing contest people are making a small fortune! If 100 people entered the contest and paid $10 each, they made $1000 - paid the winner $500 and kept the rest. Imagine if the fee was $50 and the entrants ran into the thousands. No nO NO!

Vanity presses -- this is where you pay them to publish you. Again, why would you do this? There are some very legitimate places now that will publish your work for free and YOU get the income. Definitely no.

In other words, if it seems too good to be true, AND THEY ASK FOR $$ from you, run. Run fast.

Have a scary Halloween, Murderers. And don't eat candy. It will make you a fat cat.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Warren Adler's Contest - I won!

I wrote this little entry to Warren Adler's contest on the plane back from Germany last week.

The challenge was to write 300 words about "what reading fiction (or writing) means to me." Here was my submission:

What Reading Fiction Means to Me, Aaron Paul Lazar

I’ve inhaled books with gusto since childhood. In addition to stimulating my imagination, reading fiction has always lifted me from times of trauma and provided solace. Whether I joined hands with John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee, or Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas, or was whisked to alluring Italy via Warren Adler’s The David Embrace, the act of living and breathing in someone else’s skin provided comfort and separation from the sting of life’s misadventures.

I didn’t have to fully test this process, however, until my family and friends started dropping like proverbial flies. Sanity nearly eluded me. I needed solace, and books provided a lifeline.

It was when my father died, however—the eighth loss in five years—that I learned reading wasn’t enough. Aching with grief, I began to talk long walks in the woods, hearing my father’s voice rustle in the leaves, believing the whistling wind was my father telling me he was okay.

I returned home and wrote lush, God-awful poetry about my walks. It felt good. It felt right. Each time I put pen to paper, the pain lessened a little.

Writing was great therapy. I decided to dedicate a mystery series to my father, something I originally planned to do when I retired and the kids were gone. But it couldn’t wait.

It was all so addictive! The power of words, whether the birthing of a complex character, or churning out a pithy dialog, the pure joy of having absolute and total control over plot, the ability to cure the ill or punish the villains…mesmerized me. I was hooked.

Fifteen years later, I still thank God for the ability to transcend my own wonderful—albeit challenging—life through books. With stories absorbed through books or borne of my own imagination, life is not just tolerable, but utterly fulfilling.


Did anyone else enter the contest? The prize is lunch with Mr. Adler himself at a famous literary cafe. Oh, I can't wait!

Take care my friends and remember to write like the wind!

- Aaron Paul Lazar

Friday, October 12, 2012

FOR KEEPS (a Sam Moore Mystery) is FREE today and tomorrow Oct 12th and 13th.

Here's the link for the free Kindle download.


Writing the Tough Stuff (Or Killing the One You Love)

copyright 2012, Aaron Paul Lazar

It’s not easy writing a scene where you kill the one you love.

Of course I don’t mean your actual spouse or lover. I mean the wife, husband, or sweetheart of your main character.

I’ve done it in FOR KEEPS. Thinking about it tears my heart out every single time.

That’s what I mean by “writing the tough stuff.” Sam Moore—a retired family doctor who is our resident hero in Moore Mysteries—is very much like me, except he’s twelve years older and retired with enough money to putter around in his gardens all day. Let me repeat that. All day!

I hate him for that.

Okay, so maybe that’s a little extreme, considering he’s fictional. Shall we say, I am exceedingly jealous of his lifestyle? Although Sam was a family doctor and I am an engineer, we’re still a lot alike. We both love to plunge our hands into the soft earth and grow things. We both love our grandkids so much it hurts. And we both have spouses with multiple sclerosis. There are plenty of differences, too. I cook, I write, and I take photos. Sam doesn’t. But of course, it’s not a competition. At least I don’t think so…

In spite of the fact that he’s not real (at least not in the traditional sense, LOL), I relate to this man and feel his pain when he’s hurting. Sure, you say, writers should feel ALL their characters’ pain. We have to, to get into their heads and nail the characterization. Don’t we?

But I’ll bet some characters are closer to your heart than others.

Sam’s wife, Rachel, shares many qualities with my dear wife, Dale. They both endure MS, they both love to read, they are both chair-caning artists. Some of their symptoms are the same, but that’s where they split apart. Rachel loves to cook (that’s my job in our marriage), she’s in a wheelchair, and she stays pretty upbeat, considering her challenges. They both adore their grandchildren and both love to read. Rachel’s a tribute to Dale, in all honesty. But she also has morphed into her “own woman,” too, and I love her deeply. Er... through Sam, of course. (Honey, don’t be jealous!)

In the first two books of the Moore Mysteries series, Rachel sticks by Sam’s side, supports him when he’s overcome with grief and is plagued by strange paranormal events, and loves him deeply enough to keep him sane.

That’s why it really hurt when I had to kill her.

In For Keeps, the third book in the series, life takes an awful turn. When Rachel is murdered by a serial killer, it puts Sam back in the psych ward, the same place he was thrown when his little brother disappeared without a trace fifty years earlier. Desperate to fix things, he calls on the power of the green marble, the talisman his little brother Billy controls from afar that whisks him back and forth through his past.

Unlike those of us in real life, Sam gets a “do over.” He flies back in time to desperately try to fix the problems that lead to this gruesome act, and over and over again, he attempts to tweak the past to bring his dear Rachel back to life.

How do you write such a scene without losing it? How do you make it feel authentic to your readers? How much is too much? And how can you be certain that your character’s reaction will ring true?

It’s not easy. Matter of fact, since I loosely base Rachel on my own wife, and since Sam and I are really quite alike, it was close to torture.

I called upon my darkest, most powerful emotions experienced when my father died and also when my own dear wife almost died several times in the past few years. I’ll never forget the time the nurse in the ER called the nun on duty to bring me to a little room where no one would see my reaction to her impending news that Dale might not make it. She carried a box of Kleenex under one arm and a bible in the other. She was so sweet. Yet it was one of the scariest moments of my life. Thankfully, my wife pulled through and is doing okay today.

That hollow-gut, black-sludge-in-your-heart feeling is horrible when you lose someone dear to you, isn’t it? It’s all encompassing. Sometimes you just want to deny that awful truth, and pull away—far away—like Sam does in the following excerpt. I tried to channel those feelings when getting inside Sam’s head. Let me know if you think it worked.

Here’s the setup. Sam just picked up his son, Andy, from the airport and they enter the house after arriving home. Andy’s just arrived from his second tour of duty in Iraq, and this is his long-awaited homecoming. Rachel’s been cooking all morning to welcome her boy home. All day, Sam has ignored the insistence of the green marble, which has been pulsing, glowing, and searing his leg all day from his pocket; little brother Billy—who communicates from beyond through this talisman—was trying to “warn” him that something was terribly wrong.

For Keeps is book #3 in Moore Mysteries, and is now available through Twilight Times Books and The series can be read in any order.


Sam raced toward the laundry room in a panic. Rachel’s wheelchair sat abandoned in the hall, and his son froze in the doorway, hands clenching and unclenching at his side.

Andy’s voice thickened. “Maybe you shouldn’t come in here.” He spun and tried to hold Sam back.

One of Rachel’s shoes lay beside the doorjamb. The brown clogs. Slip on. With lambswool lining. She loved them so much she wore them even in summer.

Sam drifted closer, terror pooling in his stomach. As if in anaphylactic shock, his throat tightened and threatened to close off his air. His heart beat wildly now, in his throat, ears, chest.

Sam barreled past his son and stumbled into the room, his voice hoarse. “What happened?”

Rachel lay on a basket of laundry, her eyes wide open, looking with blank surprise at the ceiling. Sam’s garden shears protruded from her heart. The image danced before him like heat waves on tar, shimmering with unreality. Blood ran from Rachel’s floral print blouse to the sheets stained red in the basket, pooling on the white linoleum floor.

The room tilted. A series of screams of No No No No No resonated in his head. Or maybe he yelled it aloud. He couldn’t tell as he shoved Andy aside and collapsed beside her, checking for the pulse that evaded him like a cruel tormentor. Neck. Wrist. Ankles. No beating met his probing fingers.

“NO!” He drew the shears from her chest, sickened by the soft sucking sound it made, then wadded up a compress of pillowcases and held it over the wound to stem the flow. More blood dribbled from the wound and curled around her pearl buttons. He realized with a start that she was still warm.

He looked wildly about the room, as if a solution lay beneath the neatly folded piles of towels and linen. “Call 911. Hurry!” He cradled Rachel in his arms, smearing the blood between them, and feeling her arms dangle away from him, as if she didn’t have the strength to return his embrace.

Andy cried out, his anguish pinging across the small room. He squeezed between his mother’s body and the washing machine, holding his hand out to his father. “Dad. It’s too late. She has no pulse. I checked, too.”

“NO!” Sam’s mind reeled, his vision clouded, and the scent of blood tasted metallic on his tongue. “Who did this? Is he still here? She’s still warm, Andy. Find the bastard!” He stiffened when his brain repeated a phrase he’d heard during some of Rachel’s favorite shows.

Don’t disturb the evidence.

Panic slewed over him, boiling inside his head, freezing his arms and legs.

My garden shears. The killer took them from the barn. Used them on my Rachel. And my prints are all over them.

A great gulping scream filled his throat, tearing out of him like a primal scream. “RACHEL!”

Her head slumped sideways when he moved away, as if she was rejecting him. He checked her pulse again, muttering under his breath. “No way. No. No.” In a sudden manic thrust, he stood and reached for the marble, searching his pockets, patting madly at his pants and shirt. “My God. Where is it? What did I do with it?” Sam asked aloud. “Billy! Why didn’t you warn me?”

Inside the double-stuffed world that batted him between reality and nightmare, he remembered the marble’s insistent throbbing all morning. Billy had tried to warn him, had tried hard.

“Dad, come on. You can’t help her now.” In spite of Andy’s two tours of duty in the heat of battle in Iraq, the bodies he had seen and possibly created, and his soldier-toughened soul, he wept. Loud and strong, he wept and choked on his words. “Dad. Please. Leave her be. It’s over.”

Andy pulled him to his feet. Sam stared at his son as if he’d never seen him before. His eyes widened, trying to piece together a puzzle. Who is this nice young man? And why does he look so familiar?

Andy took him by the elbow and started to shuffle him toward the living room.

“Come on, Dad. Let’s go sit down.”

“No. Please. My wife needs me. She has multiple sclerosis, you know.”

Andy’s eyes popped open. Tears still streamed from them, and he shook his father’s shoulders as if he could not only snap him out of it, but maybe bring back his mother, too.

“Dad! Come on. Hold it together. Don’t do this.”

Sam stopped and stared at his bloodied hands. His legs weakened to jelly. He stumbled, then braced himself against the wall as sobs wracked him in waves of increasing amplitude. He slid to the floor and buried his face in his hands.


Dear God.

Not Rachel.


Thanks for reading! I hope you were drawn into Sam’s world, and that you might want to see how our favorite retired family doctor gets out of this one.

FREEBIE! The FOR KEEPS Kindle eBook will be free to all readers on October 12th and 13th. Please stop by for your free download here. Also, all of my other books in my three mystery series will be priced at $1.99 during this sale. Check them out at

Aaron Paul Lazar

For Keeps Virtual Book Tour Stops
October 12th and/or 13th, 2012:

Kindle Websites:

Kindle Nation Daily  eBook of the Day

Bargain EBook Hunter,  Showcase Book

Digital Book Today, (October 10th) Great Reads

The Frugal EReader  Frugal Find of the Day

Book Bloggers:

Authors’ Blogs:

Pat Bertram (author interview)