Sunday, August 31, 2014

Inside the Head of Aaron Lazar - Interview by Susan Voss

I recently enjoyed a really fun interview with Susan Voss. See if you don't agree with me about her unique questions! I had a blast with this one. Thanks Susan!

Who are your non-writer influences?

Hi, Susan. Thanks for having me here today. When I read through your questions in advance, I was thrilled to see they are not your usual collection of “where do you get your ideas?” or “how do you find time to write?” Thank you in advance for making this a unique and interesting interview!

Re. your first question about non-writer influences on my writing…I would say my family is probably the number one influence in everything I do, including the characters I create and the struggles they must get through. In the beginning, when I was a young man poring through all the books in my parents’ collection, they were exclusively mysteries, which definitely nudged me into my primary genre.

Now, later in life, my wife Dale and I have had a wonderful, but challenging life as a couple (33 years!), with frequent bumps in the road due to health issues and more. Getting our three daughters through the teenage years was harrowing, and it’s when my silver hair started to sprout at my temples. But now they’re grown and having families of their own, so the joys and problems have shifted. Many of our life experiences filter into the books, including some of the funny stories created by my beloved grandchildren. There was one hilarious story about my two-and-a-half-year-old Grandson that inadvertently made it into two of my series. He must have been a chef in his past life, because he started to make a twelve-egg omelet and a pot of soup in our kitchen while everyone slept at 5:00 AM! (I’ll tell you about that if you ask, LOL!)

I’m also, I must admit, influenced by the world around me in the form of friends and media. When a friend’s wife contracted a mysterious heart virus and she almost died, I couldn’t help but imagine how he felt, and of course, I’d put twists on the scenario in my constantly whirring imagination. Or when my boss’s daughter died of cancer, I couldn’t help but empathize with his pain. When I hear about horrible events on the news, after suitable sighs of dismay, my mind tucks away the possibilities of turning it this way or that, and what if… So in truth, there is nothing that happens in my world that doesn’t present possible ideas for the next book in the works. ;o)

LazarDevil'sLakeIn writing your bad guys, do you want the reader to enjoy hating him/her, or do you want the reader to be waiting for that magical moment when they redeem themselves?

In general, I haven’t progressed to the lofty ideals of turning my bad guys into good guys at the end of a story. Most of my character arcs occur with the “regulars” in my series who can be seen in each book. There are featured characters that come and go, and the villains usually just have one appearance in one book of the series.

But I do see the evil character redeeming himself more and more in literature and in the movies, and I’m in awe of people who do it well like S.W. Vaughn in her House Phoenix series (the Jenner character) or like the Korean man (I think his name was Jinn-Soo Kwon) in Lost who turns from a mafia type killer to a helpful, loving man.

My bad guys are admittedly evil, nasty creeps and I want my readers to stand up and cheer when I dispatch them, like I always do. In my most recent book release, DEVIL’S LAKE, I created a monstrous guy who kidnaps and hurts young women. I hate him. Oh, do I hate him. And it felt SO good to deliver a nice chunk of “payback” to him. I was cheering myself at that point. LOL.

LazarLadyBluesAs a published author, what non-writing/reading activities would you recommend to aspiring authors?

I often get asked questions by fellow writers about how to deal with writer’s block, and my answer for that is similar to my answer to this question about what non writing/reading activities can help an aspiring author. I tell them to go out and simply live their lives, but with their eyes wide open. Go hiking in the woods. Grow a lush garden and revel in the tastes and fragrances it produces. Wander through a small town festival. Observe details, including all the sounds and sensations in the environs. Try to enjoy (instead of dread) a trip to the grocery store where a multitude of character types and conversations wait patiently for you to take notice. LISTEN to these voices so your own dialog can sound authentic.

Living life is how we absorb the sensual beauty of the world around us as well as collecting new characters and situations for books to come. It’s all about watching and listening to everything with awe and wonder, paying attention to the details, tucking these observations away for later, and letting them come back out in your next book.

How did you celebrate that first time experience of having a piece accepted for publication?

Oh, gosh, Susan. You’d think I would remember. It was in 2004 when I first received a contract for Double Forté. I remember being exhilarated, feeling almost like a “real” writer, and telling my wife, who was quite calm about it. She’s still very blasé about my writing, which does take time away from our life together. But when The Seacrest paid for our vacation this summer, she smiled. So I’m making progress. I especially remember, however, when the first print copies of Double Forté arrived on my doorstep and I opened the box. Now, that was a thrill!

The Desert Island Collection: what books make it into your trunk and why?

I’m going to include audio books in this collection, and I will make sure to bring plenty of batteries or chargers so I can listen, because some of my favorite books in recent years have been in audio format:
All of the Alan Bradley books featuring Flavia DeLuce. (six in the series so far)
All of John D. MacDonald’s books, hardcover or audio by Robert Petkoff.
All of Dick Francis’s novels, particularly those read by Simon Prebble.
A selection of titles by these authors, who I just love: Polly Iyer, Ellis Vidler, Michael Prescott, Laurie R. King, Jenny Milchman, Joan Hall Hovey, and so many more!

LazarSpiritMeAwayWhat is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

Okay, don’t spread this around, but there is one really funny argument my wife and I always have. She’ll wake up and find me already working on a book at the crack of dawn. After our good mornings to each other, sometimes she rolls her eyes and says, “What else did I expect.” She shakes her head and goes for her coffee, mumbling, “Aaron and his computer.” I always rise to the bait. I say, “It’s not me and my computer! This is just a tool. It’s me and my WRITING.” But it never fails. It’s like she thinks I am having an affair or obsessed with a electro-mechanical gizmo every time. I admit. I am obsessed with my parallel universes and there’s no question about that.

Side characters can make or break a story. What side characters have you enjoyed in other works? What side characters in your own work have caught more attention than you expected?

One of my new favorite authors is Polly Iyer. She writes great books and her characters just jump off the page. In a recent book, Hooked, I fell in love with many of the minor characters. Hooked is a slick, sassy, sexy thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. I fell in love with the characters, who in spite of their failings were incredibly memorable and unique. Not for those seeking pure and wholesome stories, this examines the seedy underbelly of the call girl world in New York City, but it isn’t what you might expect. This book was full of humor, intrigue, and romance, but who would expect to take a liking to a whorehouse owner? I did! I loved Polly’s character, Benny, and recommend the story to thriller lovers everywhere.

In my recent work, it seems folks have fallen in love with octogenarian Kip Sterling, the gentlemen featured in Lady Blues: forget-me-not, who has lost his memory, but with the help of a new Alzheimer’s drug, is beginning to remember things about his life. Most important, he’s remembering the long, lost love of his life, Arabella DuBois, a black nightclub singer he had a torrid affair with in 1946. Gus LeGarde tries to help him find out if she’s alive, and if she is, if she still remembers Kip.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I’d love to share my two newest books  – here are the details.
Sanctuary: A Tall Pines Mystery, book #3 - Synopsis

The safest place they know is about to become the most dangerous…

Marcella’s husband, Quinn “Black Eagle” Hollister, severed ties to his family and friends on the Seneca reservation years ago. He rarely mentions his past—until his young cousin Kitty collapses on the couple’s doorstep in the dead of a rainswept night.

After two Seneca men break into their home with intent to kill, the Hollisters flee with the mute and injured girl to Tall Pines, their cabin in the Adirondacks. Marcella, unable to bear a child of her own, unleashes her motherly instincts caring for Kitty. As the girl slowly recovers, they start to piece together who wants them dead, and why.
But their pursuers are canny and relentless. The next attack drives the trio from the sanctuary of Tall Pines, deep into the mountain wilderness.

In spite of their best efforts, the unthinkable happens and Kitty is kidnapped. Marcella and Quinn track her back to Tall Pines--where they find themselves facing an army of murderous Seneca who'll stop at nothing to protect their dark secret.

Available to pre-order now:
Betrayal: A Tall Pines Mystery, book #4 - Synopsis

Marcella Hollister realized a lifetime of hopes and dreams when she was given custody of a child. A cousin of her half-Seneca husband, Quinn, the baby’s mother was murdered in a political plot—and Marcella, who’s never been able to have children of her own, formed an instant bond with little Kimi.
Then a distant relative comes forward to claim Kimi—and Quinn, who Marcella thought understood her pain better than anyone, allows them to take the baby without a fight.

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

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


All of my books can be found at, and I love to hear from readers and writers who want to connect with me.

Thank you, Susan, for having me here today. It was a pleasure being here and I wish you and your fans/friends well – happy reading and writing!

Places to Stalk Aaron Paul Lazar

A little more about Lazar and his books!

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning, bestselling Kindle 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 releases, SANCTUARY(2014) and MURDER ON THE SACANDAGA(2014).

The Seacrest
  • 2014 Best Beach Book Festival WINNER, Romance category
  • 2013 ForeWord Book Awards, Romance, FINALIST
Double Forté
  • 2012 ForeWord BOTYA, Mystery, FINALIST
Tremolo: cry of the loon
  • 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Awards: Grand Prize Short List
  • 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Awards: Honorable Mention, 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
  • 2008 MYSHELF Top Ten Reads
For the Birds
  • 2011 ForeWord Book Awards, FINALIST in Mystery
  • 2012 Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s Top 10 Reads
Essentially Yours
  • 2013 EPIC Book Awards, FINALIST in Suspense
  • 2013 Eric Hoffer Da Vinci Eye Award Finalist
Healey’s Cave
  • 2012 EPIC Book Awards WINNER Best Paranormal
  • 2011 Eric Hoffer Book Award, WINNER Best Book in Commercial Fiction
  • 2011 Finalist for Allbooks Review Editor’s Choice
  • 2011 Winner of Carolyn Howard Johnson’s 9th Annual Noble (not Nobel!) Prize for Literature
  • 2011 Finalists for Global EBook Awards
 Terror Comes Knocking
  • 2013 Global Ebook Awards, Paranormal – Bronze
For Keeps
  • 2013 Semi Finalist in Kindle Book Review Book Awards, Mystery Category

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Podcasting again

Our Dora had a great series about podcasting earlier here on the blog and you should go and read it if you want excellent info about how to prepare for one.

But for now, I am going to post about a new podcast. Mine.

I moved my Writer Groupie show from Blogtalkradio over to my blog, and I think it is going to be a great addition. If you are looking for a new audio show to listen to, go on over and have a listen. Writer Groupie Podcast Link

Why did I do that?

I moved the show because I want to be able to do video and audio for my guests. It is kind of fun for authors to be visible (as in video on Youtube) to the readers. It makes them feel like they know the author on a personal level. Of course, for the guests who simply cannot stand the thought of anyone seeing what they REALLY look like, the podcast is still an audio file after all. Now I can provide both.

And I can also record the interview at times that are more convenient for me and for the guest. Blogtalkradio serves a great need but the times they make the podcaster record if they are not premium members is ridiculous. 10 PM on a Friday night? Really? So there's that too.

Most of all, I would really like to see the listenership for WG grow. I hope it will be a good show. I enjoy doing them a lot. I also record an excerpt from a book by Marcia Hylander Black on Thursdays called One Time: The Adventures of Sarah, so if you want to check out an audio book via me, try that as well. All the episodes of that are on the site under the tab for it.

Podcasting is not a new thing, y'all. I am not trying to make out like it is. But it is new to my website, and I am getting a kick out of doing them. Remember, there are hundreds at iTunes. If you haven't checked them out, go on over and do that. You will be amazed. And yes, WG will be there as well. If you have an iTunes account, won't you consider adding Writer Groupie to it?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Welcome back Kim Smith! (I've been away, didn't you notice????)

Wow, Murderers- I feel like I have been on the moon for the last few weeks. So much has been going on here in Murder by 4 land that I will be a while just catching up! Not to mention that I just returned from a fabulous week-long vacation - so I feel especially out of touch. Nothing like being in the mountains for a week with limited Internet and so on. It's great to get disconnected for a time.

So- here I am! Back with a vengence and ready to ramble. Er. Rumble. No, ramble works better here I think.

What I would like to talk about is how a new writer can get going today in this overly saturated book market. I think that there are more authors out there in the digital world than ever before and sorrowfully fewer readers! I have just read an article that gave some stats that say that 80% of us never bought or read a book last year. What????? That's insane!

If this trend continues, we may have more books than readers. Wow. Think about that for a second while I prepare a little list for you...okay, are you done yet?

The bottom line is this: there are few gatekeepers of the publishing industry anymore, and even less in the SELF-publishing arena. Can you say EBOOK? Anyone with a computer can publish today-either through Smashwords, or Amazon or Kobo or any number of others. It is not new technology any longer and if you don't believe me, go to YouTube and search for how to create an ebook and just look at the dates of the videos.

Self-publishing in this new world, can be a good way into traditional publishing. Today, publishers (indie and traditional) are trolling the net looking for books and authors that fit their bill. A bill that screams of necessary promotional and commercial zest in order to build their company.

IF you are new at this, a few things to remember are:
1. Build a website
2. Start a blog
3. Get on Facebook
4. Learn how to use Twitter
6. Offer stuff for free
7. Join other writers and use the power of multiplied effort

Okay, that's about all I have for now. My post-vacation brain is empty and I have to do some minor tweaking to get it going again.

By the way, don't forget my podcast! I need listeners! It's called Writer Groupie and you can find it on my website, Writer Groupie page

Happy Thursday, Murderers. I have missed you all!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Goodbye, Baby.

Catherine Lea
Vicky Rayner Lea passed away last week. She was the beloved daughter of New Zealand writer Catherine Lea, author of The Candidate's Daughter. A few weeks ago, Catherine shared with us an exquisitely written post entitled The Luckiest Person I know. Today she shares with us her final goodbye. D.


It’s 4 a.m. I had to write this now.

The absolute worst has happened. I knew it would eventually. Why wasn’t I ready?

After rescuing my Girl from the hospital, I took her  to the hospice. I brought in her nightdresses, her toys, her medications. It gave me time to breathe. And even though this time was officially “respite time,” I visited her regularly. At the end of nine days, she came home.

And things got harder.

Her breathing became laboured. I administered drugs I’m not qualified to administer under the hospice’s guidance. I contacted them regularly. When her condition deteriorated further still, I knew somewhere down in my heart that this time was different, that our lives were changing forever.

The outcome: I made the painful decision not to intervene in my beautiful Girl’s illness. Wherever her journey was about to take her, I would not stand in her way. What right did I have to continue extending a life of agony, a life filled with procedures and hospitals and pain?

I continued to care for her. I turned her regularly, kept her on a soft diet, kept her as stable as I could. But after only a few days, her condition deteriorated yet again, and after a distressing night, the hospice doctor and my darling nurse Claire came out, and we admitted her to the hospice.

I once promised my Girl that I’d never leave her, that no matter what, she would always come home. Sending her to the hospice felt as though I was betraying her. But standing there right then, what I had committed to in a moment of love, suddenly seemed worse.

The very first time she went into the hospice for respite, I bought her a TV with a DVD player attached. As we said our goodbyes at the end of the visit, she looked up at me, eyes full of wonder, and said, “Nu TV. Thank you nurses.” It was said with such appreciation, that I never altered that belief for her. If she thought the nurses bought her TV’s and DVD’s and whatever, who cared? It made the hospice a wonderful place to visit. Subsequently, with each stay, I’d buy her presents and wrap them up and leave them with the nurses to give to her. I hope she loved them.

This stay was different. It was always going to be different. There were no presents, few Smurf viewings. I played her music, sat by her bedside, talked to her. At the end of my Tuesday vigil, I told the hospice staff I had to leave because I had the dog at home. They told me to bring him in. I did.

The three of us sat for hours each day, listening to music, telling my girl how much I loved her. I did it because I needed to. I did it because I knew that one day soon, I would no longer have that privilege.

On Saturday, I left at  three o’clock. A little earlier than usual. As usual, I kissed my Girl goodbye, I told her that I love her “to bits.” I impressed on her that I’d be there tomorrow, that I’d never leave her. Then I packed my bag, and I left.

Almost the instant I got in the door, the phone rang. The nurses were handing over just minutes after I left, and my Girl had slipped away.

My heart is broken.

I didn’t know what people meant when they say the heart breaks. It feels as though someone has reached in and torn an enormous hole in my chest. It crushes me from the inside. This pain is physical and all-consuming. It’s a pain I wonder if I can bear.

In the past, I’ve suffered panic attacks—waking at night, desperate for time to roll back and let me have even one more moment with her. But this is something else. Over these past two years, and I guess all our lives, we’ve been hurtling towards this enormous moment, a moment that’s stood like some insurmountable wall. We’ve been headed this way, for so long now, that somewhere in my heart, I began to believe we’d never reach it. I began to think this journey, this life, however hard, was meant to just keep going, that I would walk forever with my Girl’s hand in mine.

Now, I’ve crossed that wall, that moment in time, and my Girl has stayed behind, beyond my reach. Her little hand in no longer in mine. I can’t get back over the wall, but I know she’s there, just on the other side, forever caught in the moment that was our lives together.

As I write this, my beautiful Girl is here at home with me. I can look up now and see her beautiful face, the curve of her cheek, the plump of her lips. I’ve had her here for five days. She’s dressed in her best clothes, her hair done, her favourite toys around her. I come into this room to play her music, to talk to her, kiss her, tell her how much I love her. The pain of knowing that today I have to let go is unbearable. I want to gather her up and keep her with me. After today I’ll never be able to hold her, to touch her, to brush her hair from her eyes, to lay my cheek on hers.

I know I’ll always talk to her. I know that wherever she is now, she has no pain, no procedures, no needle pricks, no worries. Her spirit has been freed from a body that bound her to this earth, that served her, but which ultimately let her down. Whereas I want her back with every fibre of my body, I would never want her to experience that pain again. All I can do now is keep our treasured times in my heart, in my memories, and yes, in this blog.

I’ve been the most privileged person I know. I’ve shared in a life that’s been unique, funny, hard, and enormously satisfying. I’ve been granted the opportunity to bathe in her light, to walk in her world, to share in a personality that’s sweet, that’s funny, that’s more loyal than anyone I know. This Girl has taught me lessons that no school, no religious leader could bring. She’s shared her life, her love, and her philosophies with me. I can’t say how honoured I am.

Eventually, I’ll turn this list of blog posts into a book. If it inspires one person to make the difficult journey we have, if it helps one person through the dark days of terminal illness, then our work here is done.

It really is the smallest things that take up the most room in your heart.

I love you, my Darling Vicky Rayner Lea. I love you to bits.


On behalf of all of us at MB4, we offer our heartfelt condolences to Catherine.


Catherine Lea lives in New Zealand with a fox terrier that thinks he owns the house. She has sold international satellite capacity, worked in IT recruitment, and run her own communications store. She's the author of  The Candidate's Daughter and the upcoming The Contestant

When Catherine isn't writing, she's dog-wrangling, wrestling with technology, blogging, or going crazy trying to maintain control of the yard.



Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. When she is not writing fiction, Dora also writes features for Murder By Four, an award winning blog for readers and writers and Savvy Authors, where writers help writers. She lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and two very opinionated cats.

To learn more about Dora Machado and her novels, visit her website at or contact her at Dora@doramachado.comFacebook:, or




Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Report from Tampa Bay Comic Con

Dora Machado
We had a blast at the Tampa Bay Comic Con this last weekend. Along with my Twilight Times Books colleagues, Scott Eder and Maria DeVivo, we enjoyed an exuberant celebration of fantasy and science fiction in books, television, movies, and videogames. The Con was a triumph of the human imagination. It was fun, chaotic at times, but supremely entertaining. My favorite? The panels.
Maria, Scott and I sat on several panels together with authors Tracy Akers and K.L. Nappier, to discuss the best novel-to-movie adaptations, building believable worlds, and character development. It was the first time that writing panels were included at the Tampa Bay Comic Con, thanks to the efforts of Tracy Akers and Scott Eder, who organized the panels.
The result were great. Not only were the panels extremely well attended, but they were also full of clever readers who knew their fantasy, promising aspiring writers, geniuses disguised as kids, and a host of fascinating characters.
We had awesome discussions with amazing audiences. If you are a writer, consider going to a few of these. I really enjoyed hanging out with my fellow authors, meeting so many smart and interesting readers, and sharing my writing experiences with folks who love writing, reading and fantasy as much as I do.
Fellow Twilight Times Books Authors
Maria DeVivo, Scott Eder and me in the middle.

Friends and family stopped by the TTB booth.

Yours truly at one of the panels.

Book signing.

From left to right, authors Scott Eder, Tracy Akers,
K.L. Nappier, Maria DiVivo and me.
Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories.
When she is not writing fiction, Dora also writes features for the award-winning blog Murder By Four and Savvy Authors, where writers help writers. She lives in Florida with her indulgent husband and two very opinionated cats.
 To learn more about Dora Machado and her award winning novels, visit her at , email her at, find her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.