Saturday, June 29, 2013

How Literary Book Awards Help When You're Down!

Once in a while it's nice to stop and take stock in your accolades. When I feel down about my books or sales, I remind myself that at some point in time, someone liked them enough to suggest they were worthy of awards, LOL! And you know you can't sell books all the time like Dean Koontz or James Patterson, so it's good to pat yourself on the back once in a while. Just don't let it go to your head!

Here's the current list of bigger awards that my children (er..books) have earned.

DOUBLE FORTÉ - 2012 ForeWord BOTYA, FINALIST, Mystery. 

What's DOUBLE FORTÉ about? - Gus LeGarde’s life essentially ended four years ago, when his beloved wife leapt to her death. Today, Gus lavishes love on his family, trying to bury the pain. But trouble arrives when his arrogant son-in-law’s business partner goes missing, and Gus’s innocent friend
is set up to take the fall.

TREMOLO: CRY OF THE LOON – 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Awards: Grand Prize Short List; Honorable Mention in 2013 Eric Hoffer Legacy Fiction; 2011 Global eBook Award Finalist in Historical Fiction Contemporary; 2011 Preditors & Editors Readers Choice Award – 2nd place, Mystery; 2008 Yolanda Renée's Top Ten Books; MYSHELF Top Ten Reads 2008 

TREMOLO Logline: When eleven-year-old Gus LeGarde sees a girl fleeing an attacker in the dark Maine woods, he and his friends spend the rest of the summer hunting for her on horseback and in their rowboat, only to face the wrath of the nastiest villain ever to haunt the Belgrade Lakes.

FOR THE BIRDS – 2011 ForeWord Book Awards, FINALIST in Mystery; Carolyn Howard-Johnson's Top 10 Reads for 2012

What's FOR THE BIRDS about? Treasure. Secrets. A 50-year-old unsolved bank heist. See Marcella run for her life across the rugged Adirondack Mountains. 

ESSENTIALLY YOURS – 2013 EPIC Book Awards, FINALIST in Suspense; 2013 Eric Hoffer Da Vinci Eye Award Finalist

EY review blurb: "Aaron Paul Lazar’s novel Essentially Yours will keep you feverishly turning pages not only to find out what happens next, but to bathe in the sensuality of his vivid descriptions that draw you into his story and keep you there through all the excitement and fear and romance." Joan Hall Hovey, author of The Abduction of Mary Rose.

FOR KEEPS - 2013 Kindle Book Review Book Award, semi-finalist. Winners announced in October, 2013.

When retired doctor Sam Moore is framed for the murder of a beloved member, he calls on a peculiar talisman—his dead brother Billy’s glowing green marble—to whisk him back in time to chase the killer. Sam’s plan: to change history and bring his loved one back to life.

HEALEY'S CAVE – 2012 EPIC Book Awards WINNER Best Paranormal; 2011 Eric Hoffer Book Award, WINNER Best Book in Commercial Fiction; Finalist for Allbooks Review Editor's Choice 2011; Winner of Carolyn Howard Johnson's 9th Annual Noble (not Noble!) Prize for Literature 2011; Finalists for Global EBook Awards. 

A bit about HEALEY'S CAVE: When Sam Moore discovers a peculiar green marble in his garden, it links him to his vanished little brother and thrusts him back in time, where he battles a faceless serial killer to untangle the maddening mystery and stop the murder of his beloved grandson.

You can see them all at

If you prefer to listen to books, you can hear them all (including free samples) here.

Thanks for letting me do a little self-validation today, and remember, if you love to write, Write Like the Wind!

- Aaron

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ten Tips for Getting that Book Written

Are you looking for some motivation to get in the writing chair? Maybe looking for a way to keep your focus and get that book written? Today I have something for you.

I have just released a new little booklet called, TEN TIPS FOR GETTING THAT BOOK WRITTEN and I think it may be just the ticket for those of you looking for something to light a fire under you.

It has ten tips, AND bonus materials in it.

Plus, and this is the best thing of all, it is only $1.50 !!!

Check it out here at the buy link : 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Creation of EL VENGADOR, by Stephanie Osborn

copyright 2013, Stephanie Osborn

Deputy Sheriff Michael Kirtchner gets an "unknown disturbance" dispatch call to a remote house trailer in the swamp. There, he discovers an old woman and a dog, terrorized by a mysterious beast, which he takes to be a bear. But when he contacts Game Warden Jeff Stuart to come trap the animal, Stuart tells him to get out if he values his life - this is no ordinary animal. Is Kirtchner up against a Swamp Ape - a Florida version of Bigfoot - or something more...sinister?

El Vengador ( is my first deliberate foray into the paranormal and horror genres. I’ve had numerous friends try to convince me to do so in the last few years, but never was able to get hold of the right story idea. So I waited and let it “percolate” in the back of my mind.

But when a Facebook friend (who wants to remain anonymous) told me the story of his encounter of a mysterious “Florida Swamp Ape” during his tenure as a deputy sheriff, I was fascinated. And when he gave his permission for me to fictionalize the story, I knew I had found my paranormal horror story.

So I took his basic story from his own words and I transformed it. I cleaned it up, couched it in proper writer’s grammar, changed the point of view. I changed the deputy’s name, added the perspective of other civilians who encountered the creature…and then I twisted the knife.

Because, you see, I have some Cherokee in me. Oh, the family can’t prove it, not after the way the Cherokee were ejected from their properties during the Trail of Tears; any Native American who could pass as white in those days, did, and all records of their heritage were lost. But because I have several distinctive genetic expressions of that heritage, I am accepted by most elders I know as Cherokee. And my curiosity being what it is, along with my sincerity in wanting to know, I’ve been taught numerous things that most people don’t generally know.

Like the fact that the Cherokee (along with the Seminole and the Iroquois Confederacy, among others) are purported to have been offshoots – colonies, if you will – of the Maya peoples. It’s interesting to note that, just as the “Cherokee” are a group of tribes [Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, etc.], the Seminole are a group of tribes [Seminole, Creek, Miccosukee, etc.], the Iroquois Confederacy are a group of tribes [Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Seneca, Cayuga, and later Tuscarora] ― so too are the Maya really a collection of tribes [Yucatec, Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Ch’ol, Kekchi, Mopan, and more]! The Maya comprised, and still comprise (oh yes, they’re still around ― they were laughing their butts off at the white fear of the “end” of their repeating calendar), more than 25 different peoples. The notion of splinter groups of this huge nation (it covered a substantial portion of Central America, butted up against the Aztec/Olmec empire, and expanded out into the Caribbean) moving up into Florida, then up the East Coast of North America, isn’t hard to believe at all.

It’s also true ― as I mentioned in the story ― that the medicine people and elders hold that the Maya, in turn, came from some place across the Great Sea to the East. Depending on who you talk to, this means we/they originated in Ancient Egypt, Phoenicia, Greece, the Biblical traders of Tarshish, or even Atlantis!

So it seemed to me that it would put a fun spin on things if I had this swamp ape, this mysterious unknown creature, be something other than pure animal. As it turned out, my research into the Maya turned up a mysterious “Howler Monkey God,” Hun-Batz, and an entire mythology in which this god was set. Monkey = simian, and ape =  simian, so it wasn’t a huge jump for me to proposing a curse invoking the Son of Hun-Batz. And suddenly the whole thing congealed into this amazing, suspenseful, paranormal horror story.

How amazing and suspenseful? Well, let’s just say I literally creeped myself out. I’m a night owl, prone to insomnia and getting up in the night to putter around until I can fall back asleep. And I immediately discovered that I didn’t enjoy that anymore; I had a constant feeling that there might be something outside, in the yard, in the dark, watching through the windows and doors. When I did go back to bed, it was only to have lucid nightmares about the creature and the events in the book! I took to closing the curtains and blinds, avoiding the windows at night. Finally I gave up writing on the story after sundown, choosing to write only in the light, and hoping to get the imagery out of my head by bedtime.

I was more or less successful in that. I find that I still do better not to think about the book at night, and I still have the blinds and curtains closed at night. But our neighborhood is well lit with street lights, and the birds cluster in the trees around the house and sing cheerfully. So I know there’s nothing out there that they think is unusual. And that is comforting.

I don’t know that I’ll regularly write horror. I’m inclined to think, from my experiences with El Vengador, that I might not be cut out for that! Still and all, much of the science fiction mystery I do write tends to have strong elements of both paranormal and thriller, with the occasional seasoning of horror concepts thrown in for good measure. So I think I can take what I have learned from the experience and fold it back into my other works. And I think they’ll be the better for it.

And you never know. After all, my friend really did encounter…something…in the swamps of Florida…

You can find Stephanie and all her books here:

Novelist Stephanie Osborn is a former payload flight controller, a veteran of over twenty years of working in the civilian space program, as well as various military space defense programs.

Stephanie holds graduate and undergraduate degrees in four sciences: Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics, and she is "fluent" in several more, including Geology and Anatomy. She obtained her various degrees from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.

Stephanie Osborn has worked on numerous Space Shuttle flights and the International Space Station, and counts the training of astronauts on her resume. Of those astronauts she trained, one was Kalpana Chawla, or "K.C.," a member of the crew lost in the Columbia disaster.

Stephanie is currently retired from space work. She now happily "passes it forward, " teaching math and science via numerous media including radio, podcasting, and public speaking, as well as working with SIGMA, the science fiction think tank, while writing science fiction mysteries based on her knowledge, experience, and travels.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Name Dropping and Reading for our Times

(Recently on a surfing trip around the Blogosphere, I found Billie A. Williams' site)

Welcome to Billie A. Williams, our guest poster. You guys say hi and play nice or I will turn mean and act like the murderer you know that I really am. xoxo Kim


Best-Selling, Award winning Mystery/Suspense author Billie A Williams is a fiction, non-fiction and poetry author and has won numerous awards for her short/flash fiction stories, essays, and poetry with over two dozen works published.
More than thirty some mystery suspense titles in print at this time and several how to books on the craft of writing mystery suspense for the wannabee writer. I enjoy talking with other writers in various genres because they always have something to share that I can learn from them.
She is published in various magazines such as the literary magazine Thema; Guide, a Magazine for Children, Novel, Writing Etc. , and Women In The Arts newsletter as well as Sister’s in Crime, to list but a few.
Her articles, columns and features have appeared regularly in newspapers. Short stories, Flash fiction, poetry and book reviews have appeared.  Mystery Time, True Love Magazine and various anthologies and on line e-zines and web sites have show cased her work.
She writes a bi-monthly column titled “Whodunit?” for Mystery Fiction’s Voices in the Dark. She also hosts her own writer’s group, Word Mage Writers and Readers on line as well as The Amberg Writers Group that meets at her home monthly.  She is Owner of The Mystery Readers Connection Newsletter.


Nancy Drew, Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett, Alfred Hitchcock, yup, I'm name dropping – on purpose. 

Rubbing shoulders with the greats is always a good idea. No matter where you cut your teeth for mystery, reading or writing—the times have changed. I'm sure you noticed.

Most of these classic sleuth's stories will seem too tame for today's readers. You've heard of evolution, the phasing out and in of a species, well, the mystery genre is no different. It used to be a separate class, now more often than not it is partnered with suspense or thriller.  But, we learn from the foundation, the what was, and how it grew. So, the classics will never die. They will keep inspiring writers and readers to interpret, re-interpret and re-write with an eye toward taking the best from the best in the past and twisting it to their unique style and slant. 

You've heard the old saw, "Just because there's snow on the roof doesn't mean the fire's out in the furnace." That goes for the classics too. Will yours be one of those somewhere down the line when new writers and readers look for inspiration in a good classic mystery?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Freebies: Clever Marketing or Foolish Folly?

Hi, folks - I'm reposting this article, because I just tried to click on the live link and found we've been hijacked somehow. The original link ends up on an Asian website full of Kanji characters - not readable to this guy. I'm reposting to establish a new link to MB4. Trying to figure it out - but I wonder if the whole site of hundreds of writing articles may have been stolen. We shall see! I'll let you know what I find out.  

- Aaron

Freebies: Clever Marketing or Foolish Folly?
copyright 2013 Aaron Paul Lazar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay, so we can all dream. Right?

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

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

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

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

                                                                                            - Aaron

Friday, June 14, 2013

Teasing Apart the Acknowledgements in a Book, by best-selling author, Beth Groundwater

Murderby4 is proud to welcome back best-selling author Beth Groundwater, who has recently released FATAL DESCENT, book 3 in her Rocky Mountain Outdoor Adventures series, starring whitewater river ranger Mandy Tanner.

Here's a bit about the new book:

A fast-paced locked-room mystery in Utah’s awe-inspiring canyon lands provides thrills and spills in book 3 of the bestselling RM Outdoor Adventures series.

River guide Mandy Tanner and her fiancé Rob Juarez, owners of RM Outdoor Adventures, are leading an off-season rafting and climbing trip on the Colorado River. The unfamiliar topography and a lecherous local climbing guide have Mandy on edge — but that’s nothing compared to the trouble the clients bring. When a young man is found dead, everyone on the trip is a suspect. Since there’s no way out of the Colorado River’s steep canyons, it’s up to Mandy and Rob to solve the mystery before the murderer strikes again.

I, for one, am going to check out her newest book in this award-winning series! Enjoy.

Aaron P. Lazar

Teasing Apart the Acknowledgements in a Book
copyright 2013, Beth Groundwater

I'm one of those strange people who always read the Acknowledgements page in a novel. I started doing it when I was still unpublished to find out who my favorite authors' agents were, whether they were in critique groups or had beta readers, and how many people they thanked at their publisher—or if they had an independent editor or cover artist. All fascinating background information about the industry.

Then, as I read more and more Acknowledgement pages, I saw how much research went into writing a novel, especially historical fiction novels or ones set in an actual setting, like my RM Outdoor Adventures series. As I got more and more involved in performing research for my two mystery series, I became more fascinated by the research being done by my fellows.

Anyway, I'm going to tease apart the Acknowledgements page for my most recent release, Fatal Descent, and give you the inside scoop on why I'm thanking these people. I start off the first paragraph with, "I had a lot of help researching the Colorado River in Utah and its Meander and Cataract Canyons for this book, particularly from the staff of Tag-A-Long Expeditions (, the outfitter that organized the scouting trip my husband and I took down the Colorado River from Moab to Lake Powell." The boatman, Dave Pitzer, and rafting guide, Justin King, were my models for all the work that Mandy Tanner, my whitewater rafting guide and co-outfitting company owner, and her crew had to do on their five-day tour of the 100 miles of the Colorado River from Moab, Utah to Lake Powell. I copied down the meal menus and observed Dave and Justin cooking and cleaning. I also watched how they loaded the raft each morning and unloaded it each evening and cajoled us into helping. I wrote down as many of their river tales as I could and peppered them with questions about the local flora and fauna, past experiences with river guests, and more. Not only did they take good care of me and my husband on our research trip, they were under the microscope the whole time, giving me plot and character ideas!

At the start of the second paragraph, I say, "Thank you to my husband Neil for the wonderful photos and videos you took of that trip, so I could reconstruct locations and experiences months later." This was so vitally important. I had my copious notes from our Colorado River trip, and the detailed guidebook that I mentioned, but having the visual cues to refer to months later to remember what a particular rapid, campsite, trail or cliffside looked like was so valuable. I could immerse myself back into the experience with the memories invoked by those photos and videos and describe what I was seeing, smelling, feeling, etc.

The first sentence of the third paragraph states, "Thanks to my critique group, Jeff Campbell, Vic Cruikshank, Maria Faulconer, Barbara Nickless, MB Partlow, and Robert Spiller, for making it abundantly clear when my writing wasn't up to snuff and I had more work to do." This tells you that even with all this research material, a killer outline, and thorough knowledge of my characters, my first attempts at writing Fatal Descent were not up to snuff, to my standards or to my fellow critiquers' standards. Sometimes hearing that a scene needed to be pulled apart and put back together was heartbreaking, especially when deep down I agreed. But that still meant a lot of work was ahead. Ugh! A really good critique group, where the members can be totally honest with each other about the issues that need to be resolved in a manuscript is priceless. I can't thank mine enough!

So there you have it—the inside scoop on an Acknowledgements page. How about you? Do you read them? What are you looking for in them? What have you found?


"Groundwater’s third entry (after the Left Coast Crime Rocky Award finalist Wicked Eddies) is marked by an outdoorsy intensity and authentic sports chatter sure to resonate with Nevada Barr readers. Her methodical, gentle buildup mirrors the river’s course so that when the characters hit the rapids, life jackets are a must."
    -- Library Journal, June 1, 2013

"The tension runs high in Groundwater’s absorbing third RM Outdoor Adventures mystery … Scenic descriptions and folklore add atmosphere to a suspenseful tale."
   -- Publishers Weekly, April 8, 2013


Bestselling mystery author Beth Groundwater writes the Claire Hanover gift basket designer series (A Real Basket Case, a Best First Novel Agatha Award finalist, To Hell in a Handbasket, and in November, 2013, A Basket of Trouble) and the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Adventures series starring whitewater river ranger Mandy Tanner (Deadly Currents, an Amazon #3 overall bestseller, Wicked Eddies, finalist for the Rocky Award, and just released, Fatal Descent). Beth enjoys Colorado's many outdoor activities, including skiing and whitewater rafting, and loves talking to book clubs.  

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

What makes a suspense?

DO you want to write the next suspense thriller but you are not sure you have what it takes? Check out this article in WD that gives some good pointers.

Sorry for the short post but I am running like a rat on a wheel this week. There is no END to the amount of trouble I am finding myself in at the moment. Talk about living la vida loca!!!!

1. The air conditioner went out in my house.
     a. We had it recharged with freon. It went out again a week later.
     b. We had to replace the coil.
     c. It now keeps freezing up.

2. The air conditioner in my car has gone out.
    a. we tried to recharge the freon.
    b. it wasn't that.
    c. no money to fix it.

3. Never ask what else can go wrong. It is now in the 90s here with heat indexes over 100 degrees.

Please have a murderous good day, friends. And if you kill off a character or two, please send me an email and tell me about it. I could so kill something right now.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Gearing up for summer

The weather (they say) is not how to open a book. But as of yet I haven't heard of it as a bad opener for a blog post :) and as it is awfully nice out today, I am saying, I am ready for summer.

I will be taking an online workshop all summer which is supposed to culminate in a 30,000 word novella by autumn, ie. September.

I hope I survive it! I may be missing here on Mb4 a little more often as my time will be at a premium. (I KNOWWWW, right???)

Last night, I spent hours listening to preliminary stuff and creating a rough outline and several character sketches. It was grueling I tell you. I am such a pantser--that to HAVE to outline, well, it was tough.

I did turn out a reasonable story idea from it though, so we will see how it goes. I must say I am more excited about the prospect than I have been in a long while.

So, here's to summer, all of you Murderers out there. Have you begun a work for this season? Maybe a beach story? A May to December romance?

Would you like for me to poke you into it? OK, here goes the sharp stick:

Use these items for your story:

A recent graduate from high school
An old abandoned station wagon
the color blue, like aqua, like ocean water
and .... a murder.

What? You thought I wouldn't include it???

Happy June, Murderers.