Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween from all of us at 

Murder By 4! 
Dora Machado 
Aaron Lazar

Have a safe and happy day!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Preparing for your Radio Interview: The Twelve Step Program


Dora Machado

So you've written this wonderful, powerful, marvelous book. Against all odds, it's now published, available on Amazon and ready to garner some well-deserved readers. You are in promo mode. Through your publicist's hard work—or perhaps through your own agency—you're booked to talk about your novel on a radio show.  You now have the opportunity to engage hundreds, perhaps thousands of people in a conversation about your work.

Are you ready?

Talking about our novels is not always easy for most authors. We spend the majority of our time writing our books, not talking about them. Many of us are introverts by nature and not used to the limelight. However, we all understand the need to promote our work. After all, nobody knows more about our novels, characters and storylines than we do. Publishers want and expect authors who are willing and able to promote their work. Readers want to hear from us.

I'm no expert, but after promoting four books, I've learned that preparation is key. Whether you are doing a live interview at your local radio station or a Web radio interview—also known as a podcast— here are a few simple things that any author can do to get ready:

1. Confirm the date and time a few days before the interview.

Sounds simple, right? Wrong!

When you agree to do a radio interview, most hosts will e-mail you instructions on how to go about it. In this e-mail, he or she will specify the date and time for the interview. Make sure that you clarify the interviewer's time zone. Otherwise, your timing might be off. In our global society, your radio host can be anywhere in the world, and most radio interviews, especially those on blog radio, are conducted live. If you are late or absent, your radio host will have to scramble. The worst interviews are those that don't happen.

2. Get clear directions prior to the day of the interview.

If you don't get instructions prior to the show, feel free to ask. Don't wait until the last minute. If you are driving to a radio station, confirm driving directions and think ahead. Allow yourself some extra time, just in case you get lost or hit traffic. If you are on Web radio, make sure you have the right phone number or Skype address to connect to. It's never a good idea to keep your host—and your audience—waiting.

3. Focus on your message.

What do you want to achieve by doing this radio interview? Are you promoting a new release? Are you looking for reviews? Are you promoting a personal appearance, a book launch or a particular aspect of your writing?

I like to make notes, usually a page or two that includes all the information I might need, including Websites, e-mail addresses, blogs, events, giveaways, dates. Notes can come in quite handy when your brain freezes mid-sentence. The website address you've given out millions of times before can suddenly evaporate from your mind when you are on air, along with your firstborn's name and your date of birth. Notes can help us snap back into the conversation, avoid awkward pauses and maintain focus.

Avoid mind freezes with handy notes prepared before the radio show

4. Verify the show's subject.

Most shows' Websites will post a blurb about your upcoming interview. Go to the Website and verify the details, especially if you have written more than one book. Not too long ago, prior to doing a recent interview, I went to the Website and noticed that the headline announced my latest release, but the cover picture and the synopsis belonged to a different book. I was momentarily confused. I contacted the host and the problem was quickly corrected. Verifying the interview subject and checking the promo on the Website helped to avoid on-air confusion.

5. Be prepared to tell your story.

Most radio hosts will ask you about how you became a writer and why. Be prepared to share yourself as part of the story. Be ready to explain what your novel is about. I don't mean for you to read the blurb on the back of the book. I mean conversationally. Become an oral storyteller if you can, brief and to the point, but compelling. Practice if you'd like. It might help you to become more fluid and natural.

6. Know your radio host.

Who is your interviewer? What matters to him? What kind of questions does she like to ask? A little bit of research goes a long way. Many radio interviewers are writers themselves. Visit your host's Website. A radio interview is about the host as much as it is about you. If you can engage the host, if you can find common ground and get her excited about your book, odds are your interview will be more engaging to the listeners and you'll come across better and more interesting to the audience.

7. Listen to the program.

Hosts love it when you are a regular listener of their shows. If you are not a regular listener, become one. If you can't, then try to listen to as many shows as you can prior to going on the show. Most radio shows have easily accessible archives posted on their websites.

8. Identify the show's format and trends.

Listening will give you a sense for the show's style, speed, cadence and format. Most shows have a standard format: a pre-recorded introduction, a live introduction, a greeting, the interview and a conclusion. Listening will give you a clear idea of the show's specific structure and how long each sections tends to run. Most radio hosts will give you a few minutes at the end of your segment to say anything you want. This is an important opportunity for you to address the listeners and convey your message.

9. Pinpoint the host's style.

Listening to the shows will also give you a sense for the host. What's her interview style? Is she formal and deep? Is he light and funny? Does she talk a lot during the interview or does he prefer to let you do most of the talking? Is there a lot of laughter and bantering or is the tone of the interview more subdued? Fitting in with the host's style is important. You want to achieve some sort of chemistry. Remember, the chemistry between you and the interviewer will set the mood for the listeners and engage them—or not—in your discussion.

10. Recognize the questions likely to be asked.

Listening to earlier shows will also help you establish the kind of questions that the host likes to ask. Some hosts will always ask the same questions. If that's the case, you can actually plan your answers. But even if the questions are not always the same, hosts have patterns that you can easily identify when you listen to their shows.

Make sure you have copies of your books handy prior to beginning the radio interview
Be prepared!

11. Consider the “where.”

Where will you be during the interview? Will you be at home, at the office or at a hotel? I'm not kidding. This is important stuff. Recently, I did a radio interview while staying at a seaside resort. My room had an enviable view of the beach, the pool, and the nine-thirty AM water aerobics class, where the instructor shouted directions over a cranked-up microphone that echoed in my room and rattled my bed.

The bathroom ended up providing an alternative, sound-proof solution, but I learned my lesson. Make sure you are in a place where you can have a measure of privacy. You don't want the dog barking and the kids barging in. When stuff like that happens—oh, yes, if you do enough radio interviews, it will happen—you have to laugh about it. But if you can, select the right place for your interview and avoid the grief.

12. Consider the “how.” 

Will you be doing your interview over Skype, on a landline or on your cell phone? These are important decisions and best made in advance. Technological failures are the number-one problem that most authors face when doing radio interviews. Connection failures are common. The Internet can work arbitrarily in places and batteries conk out in the middle of interviews all the time. 

Select your technology in advance. Make sure you have a good connection. An equipment test run is always a good idea. Watch the weather. Violent thunderstorms throw everything off. You can't control nature's fury, but you can make sure that your batteries are fully charged, your chargers and power cords are nearby, and you have a backup plan, just in case.

"Be prepared" is the scout's enduring motto. As we authors contemplate our next radio interview, it should be ours too! 


Do you have some author radio interviews you'd like to share? Post the link in the comment box. Good or bad, it doesn't matter. Let's have fun! D.

Here are some of my latest radio interviews:

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Seacrest Book Release Day!

Once in a while we MB4 hosts let ourselves promote our new titles. Today's my day to share The Seacrest with you.

For my twenty-first book, I've jumped into romantic suspense with this one - here's a bit about it.

What They're Saying: 

“The abiding power of a first love resonates throughout this compelling story of loss and redemption.” Warren Adler, author of War of the Roses.

The Seacrest is a poignant love story that will have you reaching for the tissues. Every woman needs a Finn McGraw!” – Victoria Howard, bestselling romantic suspense author of RING OF LIES.

"At a time when many authors seem to crank out fiction by the numbers, Aaron Paul Lazar invests his whole heart in every book he writes. His stories shine with sensitivity, compassion, and the richness of deeply personal experience." – Michael Prescott, bestselling thriller author of GRAVE OF ANGELS  

"Aaron Paul Lazar takes his reader on a ride that moves between wildly intense and slowly sensuous. It is a gripping love story that transports readers to a land of sea and lovers and life." -Maria B., reviewer

“…Beautifully drawn, The Seacrest explores twin mysteries of past and present tragedies that combine into a fascinating tale in which a young couple overcomes life’s misunderstandings, while reaching for the truth.”  - Sheila Deeth, author of Divide by Zero

“This book is about love – first love, young love, unrequited love, lost love, and rediscovered love. Simply put, it’s a good old-fashioned love story with an ending that will make your heart swell with joy.”  - Cindy Guest Taylor, acclaimed book reviewer
“I just finished reading Seacrest by Aaron Lazar. Let me tell you, ladies... you will LOVE this book! A love story of all love stories, and characters so easy to fall in love with! Aaron has a way of painting a world so descriptive you feel like you're really there. If I had a five star rating system to use, I would give him six!” Heather McLaren, author.


They say it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. 

Finn McGraw disagrees.

He was just seventeen when he had a torrid summer affair with the girl who stole his heart—and then inexplicably turned on him, just before being sent to boarding school. Finn may have moved on with his life, but he’s never forgotten her.

Now, ten years later, he’s got more than his lost love to worry about. A horrific accident turns his life upside down, resurrecting the ghosts of his long-dead family at the same time it takes the lives of the few people he has left.
Finn always believed his estranged brother was responsible for the fire that killed their family—but an unexpected inheritance with a mystery attached throws everything he knows into doubt.

And on top of that, the beguiling daughter of his wealthy employer has secrets of her own. But the closer he gets, the harder she pushes him away.

The Seacrest is a story of intrigue and betrayal, of secrets and second chances—and above all, of a love that never dies.



Love and Loss

Chapter 1

July 2, 2013

Life can change in the blink of an eye. This blink came when a cop car cruised up The Seacrest’s white shell driveway on a hot Saturday in July.

I’ll never forget the moment. You know how folks remember where they were when John Lennon died? Or when President Kennedy was assassinated? It was like that, every detail stamped into my brain, forever.

A fresh breeze laden with the scent of the sea rustled blue flowers in a nearby hydrangea hedge. Hot and sweaty, I stood in the blazing sun feeling like a fool. I’d just finished weed wacking around the paddock fence posts. Unfortunately, said weed wacker had spooked Libby Vanderhorn’s favorite mare, Serendipity, who I secretly called Dippy, because she was such a loose cannon. She’d bucked and twisted like a bronco in a Wild West show, knocking down several fence boards and unseating Libby, the boss’s daughter.

Libby ran The Seacrest’s dressage school and was an experienced rider, but this time she’d been caught by surprise and landed in a sprawling heap on the soft dirt, swearing at me.
At thirty-two years old, she stood tall and willowy, and quite lovely if you didn’t count the personality. When she came at me, she didn’t mince words. We were about the same age, but I worked for her family, and she never let me forget it. The sting of her accusations still sounded in my head. How stupid can you be, Finn? What’s wrong with you?

Libby’s father held great power on Cape Cod. Rudolph Vanderhorn sat on so many boards, I’d lost count. His father’s fish canning company made a fortune back in the eighties, and he and his daughter had enjoyed the spoils ever since.

I stooped to pick up a hammer from my toolbox, planning to reattach the fence boards before any of the horses got hurt on the protruding nails. Curious now, I watched the Brewster Police car circle the long drive, heading toward the mansion. The local authorities stopped by every few days to discuss town matters with my boss. But today the blue light was flashing, which didn’t look like a casual visit.

A shudder went through me, and I turned cold. Something bad had happened. I sensed it.

The front door opened, and Rudy watched them approach, one hand shading the sun from his eyes. Like a majestic lion, he stood broad-shouldered and strong, his longish white hair lifting in the sea breeze.

Libby stopped hosing down her big white mare, who thankfully hadn’t hurt herself in the fit she’d thrown earlier. The horse snorted and rubbed her big head against her owner’s arm as if to scratch an itch. Long, dark hair blew around Libby’s face, and she stared with open curiosity at the cruiser, rhythmically combing her fingers through the mare’s curly mane.

Time froze.

I stood still, gripping the hammer, studying the patrol car as it drove past the front porch with its impressive columns and portico. It didn’t stop for Rudy, but passed the six-car garage, followed the driveway to the barn, and rolled to a stop ten feet from me, lights still flashing.

Police Chief Kramer and Deputy Lowell stepped out and ambled toward me, their eyes somber.

I dropped the hammer; it thudded to the grass near my feet.

“Finn?” Kramer said, approaching slowly. “I’m afraid we have bad news.”

There is nothing worse than hearing that bad news is about to be delivered. My brain went wild, imagining the worst scenarios. But somehow I didn’t quite picture what he was about to tell me.

“There’s been an accident,” Kramer said.

Lowell, a high school football star in his day, kicked the dirt at the edge of the path. “Car went over the cliffs,” he said, avoiding my eyes.

“For God’s sake, guys.” I looked from Kramer to Lowell. “Who was in the car?”

Kramer pulled out a piece of paper. “I regret to inform you that your wife, Cora Mae McGraw, and your brother, Jaxson Robert McGraw, have been killed in a vehicular accident.”

Deputy Lowell touched my sleeve, then awkwardly stepped back. “We’re real sorry, Finn.”

“Car went into the ocean,” Kramer said. “We believe they were dead on impact.”

I stared at them, numbness creeping up my spine. “What the hell?”

“Er, look, if there’s anything we can do...” Lowell seemed remorseful, and he offered a hand when I lost my balance and grabbed for the fence.

Libby and her father appeared at my side in seconds, but in the dreamlike state of denial and shock, I caught only brief snatches of their words, as if the wind had grabbed them, teasing me with the bits and pieces.

“What happened?”

“Bad accident.”

“She died?”

Who was with her?”

And so on.

Libby guided me across the lawn and around back to the mansion’s cavernous kitchen. I leaned woodenly against the refrigerator while the family’s beloved cook, Fritzi, bustled her big, ample self about the kitchen making coffee and pushing fresh corn muffins at the officers.

Someone helped me into a chair. I sat, dazed and unmoving. The voices warbled around me and now my brain began to pick through the new knowledge, still not comprehending.

Cora’s dead?

It wasn’t real. Couldn’t be real.

Jax is dead?

I hadn’t seen my brother in ten years.

Ten years since I’d even talked to him. I sometimes almost drove past the blueberry farm, thinking of my old life. But I never actually stopped there.

Ten years since my parents died in that fire. Since I lost my little sister, Eva. Ten years since my family burned because of that cigarette smoldering in the couch.

Ten freaking years.

I didn’t even know what Jax looked like anymore. Had he lost hair? Gained weight? Turned prematurely gray like our father did in his thirties?

Ten years.

A shudder passed through me. A great gulping sound sputtered from my throat. I think I started to hyperventilate.

I locked eyes with Libby, whose mouth was moving. I couldn’t hear her.

Cora is dead.

Jax is dead.
Laying my head on my arms, I silently convulsed.

One thought wandered around the edges of my brain, refusing to go away, in spite of the enormity of what had happened.

What the hell was Jax doing with Cora?



Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. A multi-award winning author of three addictive mystery series, writing books, and a new love story, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website at and watch for his upcoming Twilight Times Books releases, SANCTUARY (2014), and VIRTUOSO (2014).

            Connect with Aaron Lazar

Facebook  (author page)
Facebook (personal page)
Linked In

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Virtual Book Tour Review by Christine Amsden: Bewitching Book Tours

Hello, folks!

In our continuing series from award-winning author Christine Amsden, today we feature another review of an online book tour company. Thanks again to Christine for providing us with this valuable information! Please be sure to share your support for Christine's candid and open reporting here by checking out her website and commenting below.

Aaron Paul Lazar

Virtual Tour Service Review: Bewitching


I hired Bewitching Book Tours in September as part of my continuing promotion for Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective. Since Cassie Scot came out in May, this book tour was several months on from its release. Sales were good, but certainly not as strong as they had been in the first few weeks. My goal with this tour was to keep the book in the public eye until the release of its sequel, Secrets and Lies.


Bewitching book tours is a low-cost tour host. Its most expensive package, which was the one I went with, is $155. It includes a month of tours and help finding radio interviews. For a month of regular tour stops you can spend $110, which is extremely competitive.


This was a good value. Please keep in mind that I have no idea how to draw a line from any given promotion to sales. Too many factors come into play, and as I said above — one of my big reasons for scheduling this tour was to keep this book current until the release of book two in the series. It did that, and it didn’t cost that much to make it happen.

Look and Feel

Bewitching came up with several cute banners for me (one of them is pictures at the top). The banner links to my book’s tour page on Bewitching, which was professional, well designed, and attractive.


The tour included a rafflecopter giveaway of two Amazon gift cards (provided by me). Most book tours suggest using a giveaway as a strategy to attract participants, but sometimes those giveaways attract so little interest that I have to wonder if it’s really working, or if it just sounds good. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who entered this contest, especially given that it wasn’t for a super big prize (like the Kindle Fire I gave away with PUYB) and it only lasted a month. Bewitching’s giveaway renewed my faith in giveaways in general, although I have just become more exacting about how they get carried out. Bewitching, you have raised the bar.

Professionalism and Communication

On this point, I can’t say enough good things about Bewitching. I am beginning to think that this is the most important part of a good book tour. That’s mostly what they’re doing, right? Hooking up authors with interested bloggers, setting up a schedule, mailing out reminders, and keeping up with it all is almost entirely about organization and communication. Roxanne was on the ball. She replied promptly and politely to every e-mail I sent her. Plus, I have never had a tour go this smoothly — ever. There was only one no-show all month. I usually feel like I have to be on top of every stop to make sure it has even taken place! For once I just found the daily stop, posted my thank you (always thank your tour hosts), and went about my day.


My only nit-pick about this tour provider is that they do not make any promises about your book getting the top spot on a blog. That is to say, a site may post multiple promos on a day, and your book could fall anywhere in the list. For the most part, this was a non-issue. Most days my book was at the top anyway. But twice — exactly twice — my book was so far down that it felt like little more than a footnote. Once in was the fifth post, and the other time I had to click through multiple pages of posts all made on the same day — so many I lost count. Bewitching promotes your post directly on social media, but I still felt like those blogs’ followers were unlikely to see my promo.

Bottom Line

I recommend Bewitching Book Tours. I plan to rehire them, probably as another bridge tour between Secrets and Lies (Cassie Scot #2) and Mind Games (Cassie Scot #2).

Check out Christine's newest book, here.


Christine Amsden has been writing science fiction and fantasy for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories.

Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams. (You can learn more here.)

In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work.

Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children, Drake and Celeste.

Friday, October 25, 2013

A great book review for LOWCOUNTRY BRIBE by C. Hope Clark, reviewed by Sharon Cupp Pennington

Hello, MB4 friends, followers, and fans!

I recently bumped into Sharon Cupp Pennington online, and was impressed by her review-writing skills. Matter of fact, I asked her to review my upcoming release, The Seacrest. She kindly accepted, and after we chatted for a while, I realized that many of my writer friends clamor for good reviewers to take a look at their work. Sharon has graciously allowed us to post an example of her work here on MB4, and also gave me permission to provide her contact info and the genres she likes to read!

I absolutely adored the following review - it's so beautifully written, now I want to go read this mystery series myself! I guess that's the sign of a good reviewer, if they can get readers to go check out the books they loved, we're all happy, right?

Have fun reading, and don't hesitate to contact Sharon, at the email address listed below. ;o)

Aaron Lazar

reviewed by Sharon Cupp Pennington

Rules were absolute; that’s the way she was raised. If she followed the rules, she’d be just fine . . .

Uh-uh, honey. Not this time. Not for Carolina Slade, County Manager, United States Department of Agriculture. Slade's professional life has blitzed from the structured normalcy of bailing out farmers with federal loans to head-spinning chaos faster than a filibustering politician can shout “pork barrel spending.” From the splatter of employee Lucas Sherwood’s O-positive blood on his office wall -- an apparent suicide -- to pig farmer Jesse Rawlings with his unabashed bribe to gain possession of an adjacent farm, author C. Hope Clark will have readers fretting over and cheering for her gutsy protagonist in LOWCOUNTRY BRIBE (BOOK ONE: A Carolina Slade Mystery).

Doesn’t sound like enough conflict for you die-hard mystery devotees yet? Turn another page. With the deftness of an all-star hitter, Ms. Clark brings in the bickering, grudge-holding, soon-to-be-ex husband and a couple of gotta love’ em kids inching their way into puberty.

Oh, and let’s not discount Senior Special Agent Wayne Largo, who arrives in his white Impala toting a big Smith and Wesson .357 and even bigger government credentials. Did I say white Impala? Dark hair, broad shoulders, trim waist? A drawl that has Georgia peaches dropping from the trees?

Yep. That’s him. Sigh.

Murder, kidnapping, edge-of-your-seat mayhem and sizzling romance done Southern style, C. Hope Clark’s debut novel packs it all into 272 pages. And then some. This author drops readers straight into the story’s heart with her wonderfully painted visuals of the South Carolina coast, her smart and snappy dialogue, in-depth characterizations, and infinite plot twists and turns. Protagonist Slade loses ground and gains it back again and again in LOWCOUNTRY BRIBE, but she never stops trying -- and she never loses the stranglehold on integrity that’s helped her succeed in a man’s world. In a word, she's likeable. (I guess that’s two words.)

This is a good one, folks. I’d tout LOWCOUNTRY BRIBE as a page-turner, but readers will recognize this after the first chapter. I’m giving Ms. Clark’s effort five sterling stars, and you can bet I’ll be watching eagerly for the second installment in her Carolina Slade mystery series. Maybe a third installment, a fourth?

About the author:  The granddaughter of a Mississippi cotton farmer, C. Hope Clark holds a B.S. in Agriculture with honors from Clemson University and 25 years experience with the U. S. Department of Agriculture. She currently manages, her weekly newsletter that reaches almost 50,000 writers to include university professors, professional journalists and published mystery authors. Ms. Clark is a long-term member of SC Writers Workshop Association, Sisters in Crime and MENSA. To learn more about this talented author and her future endeavors visit

Reviewed by Sharon Cupp Pennington, author of HOODOO MONEY and MANGROVES AND MONSTERS. Website:

About the reviewer: Sharon Cupp Pennington's short stories have appeared in numerous online and print venues, with anthology contributions to The Rocking Chair Reader in the Coming Home edition (2004) and Family Gatherings (2005), A Cup of Comfort for Weddings: Something Old, Something New (2007), and Good Old Days Magazine (March, 2007). Her debut novel, Hoodoo Money, and the second installment in The Stolen Nickel Series, Mangroves and Monsters, were released in second editions on September 21, 2013. She resides in Texas with her husband, Wayne, where she is working on her next novel

Note from Aaron: Sharon is accepting review requests!! If you are seeking a review and fit into her genres, give her a try! (no guarantees she will accept, of course, but it can't hurt to ask!)
Sharon's Book preferences: I prefer reading contemporary novels - mystery, romantic suspense, suspense, thrillers, adventure. I don't go for mushy romance. I have reviewed one horror novel (not all that horrible) and several historical mysteries but these would not be genres I would seek out. If this helps, my favorite authors are, at the moment, James Rollins and the duo of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, and James Patterson - but only his Alex Cross series.
Here's my website address:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Get yourself a bunch of free books!

It's late October and the leaves are falling!

I am a part of the Fall into Fantasy giveaway and you should be too!
Check out Ash Krafton's blog, or my website for more details!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Greetings From The New Gal

Hi Folks!

I felt right at home the first time I visited Murder By 4. It was like, "Honey, I'm home!" An instant sense of connection enveloped me as I read through this wonderful blog. I loved the way in which Aaron, Kim, Marta and S.W. approached the writing life—with wisdom, dedication and joy. I relished the discussions, the guest bloggers who found a platform here, and the clever readers' comments. It was as if I had found this very special place, a clearing in the huge, crowded forest, a safe haven where travelers shared my interests, questions and concerns. No—wait—it was better than that. I had stumbled into a community of open arms willing to embrace my writer self.

I was smitten.

So when my friend and fellow Twilight Times Books author Aaron Lazar asked me if I would join Murder By 4, I was thrilled. I love to hang out with my writer friends. We all benefit when we share information, promotion tips, support, thoughts, questions, aspirations and inspiration. Thank you Aaron for inviting me to join MB4!

Aaron—one of the wisest, kindest, most generous and helpful authors I've ever met—leads by example. He is always talking about paying it forward. He talks the talk, but let me tell you: he also walks the walk. And since I've learned so much from him, I had to come when he called. I'm grateful and honored for the opportunity to become a part of Murder By 4.

My goal is to support MB4's tradition of sharing and building community as we learn and grow together.  In my posts, I plan to share whatever helpful tidbits I've picked up in my writer's journey. But I also know that learning is a continuous process and we learn best from each other. So I plan to ask a lot of questions to other writers, publishers, editors, cover designers, publicists—anyone who works to support writers and promote writing, books and publishing.

Which brings me to my next point: If you have a subject you'd like to discuss or learn about, if you have comments, questions and suggestions, people you want to hear from, issues you want to bring up, by all means, send them my way, at We want to learn from you too!

You might find that I'm a little different from Aaron, Kim, and the others, mostly because I write fantasy instead of mystery. To find out about me and my books visit But here at MB4, we all share a serious passion for writing, a compulsion for words, and a lust for adventure, mystery, suspense and romance as vital components to all great novels. 

In addition, we believe that, regardless of genres, all writers benefit from coming together and having a dynamic forum like Murder By 4. And if along the way I can someday entice you to give the fantasy genre a try, well then, I'll be more than delighted to share in that journey with you.

Have an awesome week. See you next Wednesday!

Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest fantasy romance, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She lives in Florida with her husband and three very opinionated cats.

To learn more about Dora Machado and her novels, visit her website at or contact her in any of the following ways:

Twitter: @DoraMachado or
Amazon Author Central:

For a free excerpt of Dora's latest fantasy romance, The Curse Giver, visit  http://twilighttimesbooks.comthingsTheCurseGiver_ch1.html.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Review for The Peeper, by Jim Christopher and Ellis Vidler (review by Aaron Lazar)

It’s rare that an author, or pair of authors, in this case, can bring to life a character who seems quite hopelessly repugnant in the first scenes of a novel, and yet turn him around through deft revelations to swing wide through a character arc into a downright hero.

Jim Christopher and Ellis Vidler have accomplished such a feat, and in The Peeper, their combined effort psychological thriller, they hooked me from the beginning.

Someone’s watching and then murdering young coeds. This someone happened to cross the path of young, intellectually challenged Elliott Cash, who habitually hangs around the outsides of dorm rooms to peep inside. During one of his usual stints, Elliot hears and is horribly close to the abduction and murder of a young girl he knows. Afraid to intervene, he hides and runs away. But later, curiosity draws him to the scene of the murder, where he tries to say goodbye and offer his apologies to the deceased.

Simple of mind and pure of heart, this young man longs to be important. He speaks to an inner personality—Jeremy—who is quite bolder and frankly, crueler, than Elliot. Jeremy drives him, befriends him, and scolds him. But nothing can stop Elliott’s desire to help the police, and maybe one day even be deputized.

Little does he know, the events that roll out in this gripping thriller indeed do draw him into a dangerous net, where his staunch heart and good spirit enable him to try to save a young girl’s life.

Written in a smooth and engaging style, The Peeper is highly a recommended thriller.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Remaking me

Gosh, it seems like as a writer we are constantly trying to keep our writing lives going from one thing to the next. Lately, I have been to events for writers, and booksignings and so on and it really opens my eyes to the fact that we have a CRUSHING amount of competition out there.

So, what do you think an author has to do to stand out today?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Scott Eder's Presents Chapter One from Knight of Flame

Hello, folks!

Today we are helping author Scott Eder "book bomb" his new book, Knight of Flame. Isn't that one gorgeous cover? And early reviews show folks are loving the story, as well. Why don't you give it a try? And please hit the facebook, twitter, and google plus buttons below to help us spread the word! Thanks!

Aaron Lazar

Here's a look at Chapter 1:

Chapter 1

Knights don't dance. Develor Quinteele wrung the leather-wrapped steering wheel and swallowed hard. The muted roar of the rented Jag's high-performance engine and smooth-as-silk ride did nothing to dispel his apprehension. Wren could have picked anything, but she chose dancing. He jammed a finger under the rigid collar of his first modern suit and yanked it away from his skin.
Great. Just great.  
Dev stretched to adjust the rear-view mirror and ripped the seam of his jacket. Armani stretch wool, my ass. A growl rumbled in his chest and he glared at Wren, but she seemed oblivious to his distress.
"How much farther?" Wren's excitement tumbled out with each word. The sun's last rays reflected off the silver sequins of her micro-dress and sparkled across the car's dark chocolate interior. She shifted position, adjusted her dress, and crossed her legs. Despite her fidgeting, her head remained still, focused on the distant horizon, straining to get her first look at Club Mastodon.
Dev smiled through his growing unease. Though somewhere in her early twenties, Wren reminded him of a small child driving up to the gates of Disney World for the first time. Her usually tense and critical Japanese features were soft, eager and innocent. Seeing her excitement helped steady his nerves…a little.
"Just a few more minutes. You know I'm missing a Three Stooges marathon for this, don't you?"
"Whatevs." Wren brushed him off.
Dev checked his mirrors, vision in constant motion, and raked the hair out of his eyes. The thin, wavy strands felt foreign to his calloused fingers. He couldn't remember the last time he had more than a dark prickly shadow on top of his head, let alone mussed brown locks. 
With a careless wave of his hand, he grazed the new bruise over his left eye. Damn, forgot about that. He prodded the tender skin, trying to gauge the size of the purpling evidence. So far, he'd managed to keep his fights at work from Wren. If she found out, he'd never hear the end of it. The last time, she went on and on about him being reckless, and jeopardizing the mission. Thankfully, she hadn't reported the incident to Stillman, his commander. It had been close, though. Cost Dev a night on the town. But it wasn't that big of a sacrifice. He loved her like a little sister, and enjoyed seeing her smile.
Brushing his hair forward, Dev tried to cover the injured area, and hoped for the best.     
"This place won't be crowded, will it?" he asked. "You know crowds and I don't mix."   
"Mmhm." Wren's arm shot out, pointed ahead and to the right. "There it is." The rest of her words blurred together, "I can't believe you got us on the list. I mean, like, I've never been to a place like this." She turned her sparkling green eyes on Dev. "Do you think a lot of movie stars will be here?"
"Breathe, Wren." Dev took the exit off I-275 south, just in sight of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, and stopped at the traffic light across from the club. When Club Mastodon first opened he'd read about the local business leaders raising an uproar over how quickly the permits, zoning and associated building minutia were pushed through. But, when the club was bank-rolled by Alexander Gray, one of the head honchos at Daegon Gray, the normal red tape-covered bullshit disappeared.   
Dev tilted his head as he caught his first glimpse of their destination through a ring of palm trees lining the property.
"Really? That's it?"
Wren didn't respond. Instead, she leaned forward, hands pressed tight against the dash, mouth open wide. 
"It's just a big ass tent," Dev said. "I paid 10-K in advance to go to a circus?" His stomach rolled. "Wonderful."
The light changed and he pulled onto the gravel drive. Tires crunched on loose stones as they passed through the trees and drove the half-mile to the front of the club.
 "I hate clowns," he murmured, "And elephants. I hate when they make those big bastards do stupid tricks."
Dev queued for the valet behind a sleek Mercedes SLR and waited his turn. The wait gave him a chance to assess the place without being obvious.
People. Damn. So many people, so many potential ways to piss me off.
A large number of the area celebrities milled about in front of the club's huge entrance.  Beyond a set of giant wooden doors rose the three tall peaks of the monstrous Club Mastodon tent. Spotlights spaced evenly around the perimeter beamed on the white walls, causing them to glow. A smaller tent hung off the rear of the main, connected via covered walkway. 
He couldn't see any exits other than the big main door, not even a window. They really weren't kidding about the whole privacy thing. The club was touted as the place to relax, a soothing oasis where the local aristocracy and visiting celebs could let their guard down and be themselves. In essence, society's elite could make fools of themselves without it showing up on the internet the next day. Absolutely no cameras were allowed, not even cell phones.
"It's not too late." Dev shook his head. "We could always go somewhere else." Please…anywhere else.   
"Nope, we're good." Wren sounded distracted. Her gaze darted from one car window to the next. "Hey, isn't that Marcus Albright from the Bucs?"
"You know, the cornerback for the Buccaneers. Ooh, and that's the guy from that new show on AB—."  
"Dennis Carlisle." The name rolled off Dev's tongue before she finished the station's call letters.    
Wren oohed and ahed over a few other names he'd never heard of. Probably famous athletes or politicians or something, but he played along for her sake.
Movement. Out the window to his left. Dev tracked it out of the corner of his eye. A pair of security guards in black blazers and slacks marched down a row of exotic cars parked in tight lanes. Their heads swiveled every few feet so as not to miss anything.
More movement. Further out this time and a couple rows over. Another pair on patrol. Rent-a-cops didn't move like that. They had to be ex-military.  
I bet the bulges in their jackets are compact automatic weapons.  
"Geez, they take their security seriously around here." Dev spied more guards near the back tent. "Can you say overkill?"  
"What are you babbling about?" Wren asked, flipping him an annoyed glance.
"Nothing…nothing." Dev moved up in line. Rhythmic burps of deep bass rattled the windows and thrummed through the steering wheel. Within seconds, the vein at his temple throbbed in time.
A valet approached the driver's side while another opened the door for Wren. Dev got out and shrugged at the tear in his jacket then met her on the curb.
"I feel naked in this." He whispered, running his hand over his chest and the expensive suit. "Out of my element." 
"I feel like a princess." Wren, five-foot three, a smidgen under five-eight in her knee-high boots, twirled. Even with the added height, she only came up to Dev's chin. "Like the boots?" She modeled the right one—slick black leather that laced to the top—turning it enough to flash a red sole. "Louboutin. Got them yesterday."
Dev shrugged. "Nice, I guess. Not very practical."
She slapped his arm. "Dork. Not everything in this world is meant to be practical. I think they're gorgeous. Now, hold still." She straightened his tie and fussed with his hair, exposing his little secret.  
Her eyes narrowed. "You've been fighting again." She spun on her spiked-heels, her expression blocked by the swish of her shoulder-length, ebony bob, and wound her way through the throng of socialites and celebrities.
Dev tried to keep pace, but she melted through the crowd toward the entrance. Impressed, he admired her agile dips and whirls as she put years of his hard-core physical training to unconscious use.
On her trail, he moved left and jostled the guy on his right, "Sorry," then bumped the woman on his left. "Excuse me." Anger flared, but he forced a tight smile. The shoulder-to-shoulder press of humanity reminded him of the battlefield.  He slid between a pair of athletic-looking young men, but clipped one's shoulder. "Sorry, sorry."
High on alpha-male bravado, the kid tried to shove back, but Dev caught his hand before it made contact. With a deft twist, he bent the young man's wrist back and lifted him onto his toes. Dev leaned in close and bared his teeth. Anger boiled into rage, heating his body and fueling his need to fight. 
"I said, pardon me." He spoke so only the impromptu ballerina could hear. Muscles tense, he wanted to yank this punk's arm off and beat him and the rest of the crowd with it, lay waste to everything around him until nothing stood between him and the entrance except Wren.
He straightened, took a loud breath through his nose, and found her off to the side near the entrance. Safe. Arms crossed. Hip cocked. Frown in place.
Crap. He'd lost control in front of her again.
"Today's your lucky day, skippy." After a last, painful wrench on his captive's arm, Dev released him and slogged his way through the crowd to Wren's side. People reacted to his rough passage, cast annoyed glances at his broad back then quickly went back to their own lives.
Every nerve, cell and fiber of Dev's being surged inside him. It didn't take much to get him going anymore. And sitting idle in Tampa for the last two years, due to a nebulous prediction of the Gray Lord's return, was not how an elemental warrior should live.  
Daily skirmishes in the shipyard got him by, but he craved more. Primed for combat, he wanted a release. He wanted, no, needed, to fight. But this wasn't the time or the place. He needed to be strong, for Wren. This was her night.       
"You promised the fighting would stop." Wren said between clenched teeth. "You stationed yourself at the shipyard to watch for signs of the Gray Lord, not play around. You don't see me getting in fights at the airport, do you?"
"It was just a minor disagreement," he said. "There were eight of them, jumped me behind the scrap metal piles."
A nearby couple turned to stare at Wren. Dev took her arm and pulled her further away from the crowd. 
"Look, I screwed up. They usually attack in threes. I didn't see Little Mike hiding in the garbage can. He whacked me with a crowbar." Dev looked away from her accusing stare. "It's no big deal. Won't happen again." That you'll know of.
"But you —"
"Let it go. Please."
Wren opened her mouth as if to say more when her eyes opened wide. "You're hot," she whispered, "Smoking."
Dev wiggled his eyebrows. "Why, thank you, thank you very much. You're looking pretty good yourself."  
"That's not what I mean." 
Dev caught a whiff of burned hair. His hand shot to the top of his head and found it still covered. As his body cooled, he found the singed stalks of the little hairs on the back of his hands. The shirt cuffs were scorched as well. That was close.
"Maybe this was a mistake." Wren's tentative, quiet voice touched him. "We should go."
"No." Dev stared at his shoes. Black. Leather. Uncomfortable. "No. I'm okay. You deserve this."  
Wren's face scrunched as she assessed his attitude. She nodded. "Yeah, I do. Don't screw it up."
Dev blinked….
She laughed, wrapped her arm around his, "Come on, come on," and pulled him to the entrance.   
Up close, the imposing entry reminded Dev of a smaller version of the village gates on Skull Island built to keep out King Kong. A dense collection of palm fronds and exotic, big-leaf plants, surrounded a pair of giant double doors unevenly framed by thick, rough-hewn timbers. The presence of security cameras positioned within the plants did little to deter from the primordial setting.
Dev smiled and waved at the camera tracking his movements.  
Another pair of guards, much bigger than those patrolling the parking lot, flanked the entrance. Clad in nothing but loincloths, with long, black hair draped over heavily muscled shoulders and square pecks, they looked like stand-ins from Conan the Barbarian. Both stared straight ahead, boulder-crushing arms rigid at their sides. If it weren't for the slight motion of their immense chests, they could be statues. A low mist crawled around their feet and billowed in front of and under the big doors. Capping off the primitive atmosphere, flames swirled and popped above their heads in a long trench dug out of the lintel.
Blessed fire. Dev focused on the flames. He felt their lure, their potential, and the fire's raw power. A taste. That's all he needed. A quick fix to steady his nerves and help him through the night. With a thought he called to his element, drew it into him. His body tingled. Invisible tendrils of heat trickled into his chest and coalesced into a fireball behind his ribcage. It churned and roiled and intensified.
"Dev." Wren's harsh whisper seemed to come from far away.
That's nice. With another thought, he capped the flow and dispersed the warmth throughout his body. It calmed his spirit, dispelled his rage.      
"Dev." An elbow to the ribs punctuated her call.      
Awareness rushed in as his wind rushed out. Damn, that girl knows right where to hit a guy. He wheezed, tried to refill his lungs, and ignored the curious stares of the other patrons.


Alexander Gray stood in front of the floor-to-ceiling penthouse windows and scowled at the world far below. Streetlights bathed the Tampa Bay Times Forum and Channelside shops in a sickly yellow glow. People, ants from this height, scurried through the darkness from one light post to another while a few late drivers braved the downtown Tampa streets.
His dark power surged, burrowing beneath his skin like angry wasps. With a thought he could make the shadows rise up and lay waste to those insignificant specs of life beneath him, but he reluctantly held back.
Not yet.  
Out of the flat screen mounted in the corner, a local news anchor droned on about the rash of unexplained disappearances that baffled police.
Alexander smiled. 
A small brown bird thumped into the window and fell dazed to the ledge. Stupid birds. Alexander crouched and tapped on the window. He knew neither the sound nor the vibration would penetrate the hurricane-proof glass, but he did it anyway.
"Hey there," he cooed, "Are you okay, little one?"
The bird got to its feet, shook his feathery head and leaned against the glass out of the wind.
"I have something for you." Alexander pressed his index finger against the thick pane and exerted a sliver of his will. A dark ribbon of inky-black energy oozed through the window and wriggled on the outside.
Startled, the bird hopped down the ledge.
"Take it." Alexander's face twitched. "Take it."
It hopped closer, its curious little head bobbing from side to side.  
A little peck to taste the darkness.   
The bird struck, tore off a hunk of black flesh, and bounced backward.
Alexander stopped the flow, folded his hands between his knees and studied his prey.  
Its beak opened once, an unheard chirp of distress lost in the wind, and its chest expanded until hollow bone and skin could no longer contain the pressure. It exploded in a puff of gray-feathered clumps that floated away on the breeze.
Alexander stood, smoothing the imagined wrinkles from his pants, and stared at the human infestation below. If only the rest of you were so easy. A picture came to mind, one in which thousands of people writhed on the ground while their life force drained into the soil, and their skin turned the color of ash. A pleasant notion indeed.  
A lightly spoken, "Sir?" accompanied a soft knock at the door. Alexander Gray, Master of Shadow, son of the last Gray Lord Bestok Molan, transformed into Alexander Gray, Regional President of Daegon Gray, philanthropist. Tight features relaxed and he coerced a false smile from his lips.
The intern from the mayor's office minced through the room reeking of Chanel and french fries.
"Yes, Miss White?" Smooth, confident, and charismatic, that's what all the local papers wrote about him. His warm, deep voice put people at ease. "How can I help you, my dear?"
"M-m-m…Mr. Gray, the reporters are st-still waiting, sir." Straight blond hair framed an attractive face. She regarded him with bright-eyed innocence tinged with a delicious helping of fear. "Are you r-r-ready to start the press conference?"
Alexander savored the uncomfortable silence when he did not answer immediately. Fresh. Young. Barely out of college. Dressed in a grown-up's business suit and conservative heels. Even in the dim lighting, he noted the slight tremble in her limbs and her delightful habit of nibbling her lower lip. Mmmm. Her life would taste sweet.  
A slight buzz tickled the back of his neck, but he ignored it. Not now. 
"Yes, yes. We can start." Alexander walked over, placed his hand on her lower back and escorted her to the door.
The buzz increased to a sustained tingle, urgent, insistent. I do not have time for this. 
At the doorway Alexander grabbed the back of his neck as it started to burn. "I am sorry, sweetheart, but I need to make a call first. I will only be a few minutes." He pushed her out and shut the door.   
Snarling, he strode to his antique mahogany desk, threw himself into the high-backed leather chair and spun to the portraits on the wall. The largest, an older gentleman in a high-collared black waistcoat and black cravat, hung in the center. Dark brown eyes, small and deep-set, stared out from narrow, emaciated features under a thin fringe of white stringy hair. Brown spots littered his pallid face like dead leaves over old snow.
Alexander took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and tried to calm his murderous thoughts, but the intensity of the pain made it more difficult than usual. He had been told his impatience would get the better of him and he didn't want to let on just how frayed he was. Frustration, anger, anticipation—feelings of any kind were considered flaws, and it would not do to show weakness in front of Bestok Molan.
Emotions masked. Breathing and heartbeat normal. Body still and relaxed. He opened his eyes and met the stare in the portrait.
"Yes, Father?"
A gnarled head pushed out from the painting, stretching the canvas into three dimensions while the background colors drained away. Bestok Molan's likeness blinked its black eyes rapidly then jerked from side to side, searching. "You are alone?" A breathy voice, like a harsh and well-articulated hiss, issued from the gaunt visage. "I hear someone."
With the contact established, Alexander's pain dissipated and he stifled a relieved moan. "That is only the television, Father." Calm, flat and deferential. No hint of emotion.
"Television." The Gray Lord spat the word out as if it were a rat hair in his porridge. "The harvest is progressing, no?"
"Yes, Father."
"Good. Good." Thin, dry lips over-enunciated every word. "Tell me."
"The club has been operational for four months and produces two hundred shadow orbs per week."
Bestok Molan's dead eyes flickered, and his upper lip twitched. "That few?"
"If we drain any more of the people's energy, they will feel it. It would not take them long, even as simple-minded as they are, to trace it back to us. With the current harvest setting, they go home feeling weak and tired, which they attribute to a hard night of revelry." He gripped the arms of his chair. "As it is, the stupid sheep have no idea we are sucking out their very life essence."
The head behind the canvas tilted. "So be it."
"Father? I wish to test the orbs on something small."
"But are we sure the death magic works? That the orbs can kill?" It galled Alexander, this asking for permission to do what should be a natural act for any Shadow Lord.
Bestok Molan pushed his bulbous head further into the room, testing the strength of the canvas, and the temperature dropped thirty degrees in less than a heartbeat.
"Do not question me again, boy." An evil grin split the Gray Lord's face. "Or have you forgotten the last time?"
"No, Father." Alexander's words puffed out in a white mist as he flexed the fingers on both hands. The painful memories of that first and only time haunted the dark recesses of his mind. Changing the subject and, hopefully, the homicidal atmosphere, he steered back to the plan. "The orbs will be ready when you need them."
"They had better be." Bestok Molan melded into the painting.
"And when is that?" Alexander knew he was pushing his luck, but could not help himself. The lack of inactivity made him reckless.
"When I am ready." Bestok Molan's head flattened out and the background colors reappeared, but the distant hiss carried one more message before fading, "Wait."
I hate that word.
The portrait was solid again, ugly.
Alexander also hated that picture, and those of his three brothers to either side.
"I am tired of waiting." Alexander got to his feet, strolled back to the window, and clasped his hands behind his back.
Another light knock sounded. His hand rose out of reflex, enwrapped in rippling gray shadow, but he stopped before he blasted the door with a bolt of dark energy. It was a close call. He needed an outlet for his frustration, or he would explode and take out Tampa in a shadowy swirl of death and destruction.
That's what he should be doing, bending the world around him to his will and that of Bestok Molan's.
But the old Gray Lord says, 'Wait.' I have waited centuries for his grand plan to take shape, bounced from one menial post to another. I had hoped this time would be different, but it does not look promising. He preaches that the world must not know of our existence until we are ready to strike. That there is no need to alert the sheep that greater powers exist, for it would give them time to prepare. It is tough enough evading the Knights' constant vigil, let alone the billions of mortals on this world.
Billions. Their numbers are too vast. Time to cull the flock. 
The knock sounded again and he turned toward the door with a broad, friendly smile plastered across his face.
"Come in, Miss White."
As the door opened, he swooped to her side and took her hand. "After the press conference, how about we get a drink? I know a little pla—"
Alexander's cell phone rang.
"Excuse me, my dear. I have to take this

Author Bio:
Since he was a kid, Scott wanted to be an author. Through the years, fantastic tales of nobility and strife, honor and chaos dominated his thoughts. After twenty years mired in the corporate machine, he broke free to bring those stories to life.

Scott lives with his wife and two children on the west coast of Florida.

Log Line:
Tainted by the very element he's supposed to control, an elemental Knight must overcome a centuries-old tragedy and find the balance to his fire-stoked rage to prevent his clandestine Order's ancient enemy from destroying all life in modern-day Tampa.

Fire. The most chaotic of the primal elements. When wielded properly by the Knight of Flame, it burns like the sun. Otherwise, it slowly consumes the Knight, burning away his control, driving him towards dark deeds.

Stationed in Tampa, FL, Develor Quinteele, sixth Knight of Flame, waits impatiently for the predicted emergence of the last Gray Lord, his Order's ancient enemy. Hampered by a centuries-old tragedy, Dev knows of only one way to control his elemental power—rage. It broils just below his surface, waiting for the slightest provocation to set it alight. 
Anticipating Dev's transition from asset to liability, his commander assigns a young guardian, Wren, to report on Dev's actions. Torn between duty and love, Wren struggles to save her Knight; but, after a brutal attack by the Gray Lord's minions for which Dev is wrongly blamed, he's stripped of his freedom until he regains control.    

With the help of his fellow Knights, can Dev regain his balance and unlock his full elemental potential in time to prevent the destruction of all life in Tampa?

Superstar Quote:
"In Knight of Flame Scott re-imagines traditional fantasy and forges something new from old metal--a fast-paced thriller that delivers a healthy dose of wonder. As enjoyable as it is engrossing." - David Farland, International Best-Selling Author of The Runelords

Link to First Five Chapters:

Buy Links:

Contact Links:
Twitter: @Scotteder