Thursday, March 24, 2016

Five things you should be doing online

Seems like these days of Facebook, Twitter, and the other big social media giants, small blogs and websites are going the way of the dinosaur.

But I am still holding fast. I like having a blog, and I like having a website. In fact, I may even start another one!

These days it seems like those of us who still DO want to blog etc. needs a little reminder on what we should be doing on our sites to keep people interested and coming back.

So, here are 5 Things You Should Be Doing

1. Make sure your site is personal. It needs to be as uniquely YOU as possible. Fans and followers are not coming to your site to see what you have to eat. They want to know YOUR story. Remember the days of gossip columns? Well, we are all still just as nosy.

2. Make sure it isn't overly pushy with ads. It's pretty much a given that today a blogger is going to have some ads on the sidebar, or in the footer. It's a given. But if you have ads SMACK dab in the middle of a post? That's pretty annoying. Try to keep them contained, people.

3. Make sure it is user-friendly. Most people are looking at your site through a really tiny screen. Make sure you have a good menu and make sure it is easy to find. K I S S - remember? Keep It Simple, Stupid.

4. Make sure you are capturing email addresses, but oh good lawdy Ms. Clawdy - do limit that stuff! Nobody wants to have to click out of a sign up box the second they come on site, then a few scrolls later, and even when they go to get off your site. Believe me, if they have to endure that kind of attack for an email sign up they WON'T sign up and they likely won't be back.

5. Make sure you are giving a visitor the VERY best impression of you that you can. They are coming to check YOU out, not just your site. Make sure you have makeup on and make sure you have your hair done. Meaning, make sure your site is easy to navigate and mobile friendly.

Well, that is about it, folks. I hope this helped!

Kim Smith is the author of Disk of Death, the first book in the Shannon Wallace Mysteries. You can get your copy at Amazon.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

From Mystery to Romance and Back

How Aaron Paul Lazar Shifts Between Genres


Dora Machado

Hello Aaron. Welcome! Why and how did you make the transition from mystery to romance?

Hi, Dora! Thanks for asking. I had actually written over a dozen mysteries when I decided to depart from my favorite genre and write a love story. The reason? Blame it on wife! She loves Nicholas Sparks, and actually said to me, “You need to write a story like he does. A good love story.”

We’d been staying on Cape Cod each summer for a week for the past few years, and I’d fallen in love with Paines Creek Beach in Brewster, Mass. I felt like I needed to set a story there, and what better than a romance? I will admit that I’d rarely read any romance, but naturally, I knew what love was, and had been exposed to those types of stories my whole love by watching movies with my wife in that genre. I’m actually glad I didn’t read the current most popular authors in romance, because I wanted my own stamp on this book. Thus, The Seacrest was born. It actually has won some awards, so I guess my approach worked! 

·         2015 Semi-finalist in Kindle Book Review Awards
·         2014 Best Beach Book Festival WINNER, Romance category
·         2013 ForeWord Book Awards, Romance, FINALIST

How are The Seacrest, The Seacroft, and The Seadog related?

When I wrote The Seacrest, I didn’t intend it to become a series, but I had so much pressure from my readers to give them more of those characters and that setting, I had to give in. The Seacroft is book two in the series, and The Seadog is book 3, but I wrote them all to easily standalone so one can read them in any order. There are common characters in each book – for example, Finn and Libby from The Seacrest are in both books 2 and 3, but they aren’t the featured characters anymore. 

In The Seacroft, I move forward five years in the future from The Seacrest and bring Finn’s young nephew (15 in the first book) to manhood. Cody is now twenty-one and becomes embroiled in a difficult situation when his lascivious boss wants to own him in everyway imaginable (!), yet he finds himself falling for the demure young woman who also works on the estate. The Seacroft is a twin mansion to The Seacrest, by the way, built two hundred years ago by twin brothers. Both are located off Paines Creek Beach. 

In The Seadog, book 3, two new characters emerge, and so far they have become my favorite of all. Scout Vanderhorn is a spunky redhead whose life has been hell. Abandoned by her father, abused by her stepfather, and poor as a church mouse, she sets out to meet her biological father at The Seacrest mansion. Jack Remington doesn’t remember his name or last month. He’s living in a cave on the beach, barely surviving. And all he wants to do is paddle his kayak out onto the ocean to search for something he can’t remember.

How are they different?

They are different stories about love and loss and survival, of course. But mostly they feature new characters against a familiar backdrop. ;o)

Will you be writing more romance in the future? 

I definitely will. I’m already thinking about the sequel to The Seadog. But first I have to go back to my other series and catch them up. Right now I’m writing book 11 in the Gus LeGarde Mysteries, called Voodoo Summer. It features young Gus (age 13 in 1966) and in addition to a fun, family mystery, it shares many of the issues of the decade, including prejudice and mistreatment of black folks. It also shows great heroism, and some of the defining moments that made the adult Gus who he is. Next on the agenda is Devil’s Spring, book 3 in my Bittersweet Hollow romantic suspense series. That one is loosely planned, but needs to be written first to flesh it out.

Can you give us a peek?

I’m going to share a few chapters here from my recently released book, The Seadog, below. Thank you for having me over today, Dora! It’s been a blast. ;o)

Great! What a treat. Thank you, Aaron.


Chapter 1

Scout slumped in her old Honda Civic, staring at the grand mansion at the end of the white oyster shell driveway. Biting her lip, she peered toward the front window where a shadowy figure passed back and forth behind the sheer curtains. 

Was someone watching her? Would they call the cops on her?

She knew her fifteen-year-old rust bucket didn’t look like it belonged to this place. The house probably expected Mercedes and Jaguars, not the beater she’d bought off her ex-boyfriend for three hundred bucks.

Heart thumping wildly, she rolled down her window to catch the breeze coming off the sea. Instantly, fresh air filled the car with a salty tang. 

Did she have the courage to go right up to the front door and knock on it? Could she? And what would she say? “Hi, there. I’m the daughter you never knew you had.”

She adjusted the sling on her arm, wincing. It still throbbed. Mind racing now, she considered her options.

Go back, and face Monty’s anger? No, his wrath?

Or…she could walk boldly up to The Seacrest mansion and demand that her father recognize her, insist that he help her.

She’d never met the guy, but she’d hated him her whole life. For the past twenty-three years, she’d pictured a leonine bastard, with a stone cold heart and miserly soul. Her mother had painted a pretty dreadful picture of Rudy Vanderhorn. And yet, here she was, about to face him down.

Shaking her mane of fiery hair, she let out a shivery sigh. “I can’t go back. I can’t.” She eased the car forward and made her way along the driveway, coming closer to the home where she’d been conceived. Her mother—her dear, sweet mother—had run from this place years ago. Pregnant. Betrayed. And oh-so-scared.

And that bastard Rudy Vanderhorn hadn’t even come after her. He just let her go. Never chased her. Never tried to find her. What was wrong with such a man?

Well, she’d soon find out.

Now anger replaced fear, and she felt courage swelling in her heart. “I have to do this. For Mum.”
She pulled up in the parking area and turned off the engine. The beast choked, shuddered, and finally sputtered to a stop.

With her purse on her shoulder, she slid out into the heat of the day. Her white sundress was already wrinkled. She smoothed its skirt and headed for the entrance, but before she could press her finger on the ringer, the massive door swung open. 

A heavy-set woman wearing a white apron glanced quizzically at her. “Ja? Can I help you?”
Scout thought she sounded Swedish. Or maybe German? “Is Mr. Vanderhorn home?” Scout asked, nervously twisting her leather purse strap. “I need to see him.”

The housemaid—if that’s what she was—turned as white as her apron. “Nein.”

“I’m sorry. Do I have the right house? This is The Seacrest, isn’t it?”

The woman drew in a quivery sigh, then seemed to collect herself. “Ja. I’m sorry. But the Mister…he…”

“He what?” Scout asked, feeling queasy now.

“He is gone. It was a heart attack. In the hurricane, last summer.” The woman’s voice wobbled and she seemed ready to burst into tears.

“Fritzi?” A voice called from inside. “Who is it?”

The distraught woman turned to answer. “It’s a lady, Miss. She wants to see the Mister.”

“Hi. I’m Libby.” A dark-haired woman ambled forward with a baby on her hip. She shook hands with Scout. “You were asking about my father?” Suspicion grew in her eyes.

But Scout could only stare at the baby girl. About five months old, the baby grinned at her with moss green eyes, peering under an unruly mop of flaming red hair. 

It was like looking at one of her own baby pictures. 

“I—” Scout’s legs turn to rubber. “I mean—”

Now it was Libby’s turn to gawk. “Wait a minute. Do I know you?”

Scout laughed, but she knew at any second it could swing into tears. Her father was dead. She was too late. “I doubt it,” she said, sagging against the door. “I’m sorry. I should go.”

Libby put a hand on her arm. “No. Wait. Come inside. Let’s sort this out.”

If she hadn’t been so hot, so tired, and if her arm hadn’t throbbed so badly, Scout would have run away. Anywhere but here, where she had to face such disappointment. 

“Come inside,” Libby urged. “Fritzi will get you a cold drink. Is lemonade okay?”

Scout mumbled her assent and followed Libby into a room carpeted with a thick Oriental rug, and strewn with polished mahogany antiques. A vacuum stood on the floor by a grand piano. 

That’s what I saw from the road. Fritzi, if I heard the name right, was pushing that vacuum back and forth in this room.
Fritzi made apologies and whisked the machine away, rolling it toward the hall. “I will be right back with refreshments,” she said. 

Definitely a German accent, Scout thought. 

“Please. Sit,” Libby said, openly staring again. 

“I’m sorry to barge in on you like this. I’m sure you’re busy with—”

Libby sank beside Scout on the couch and settled the little girl on the floor. “This is Sidney. She’s my youngest.”

“You have more?”

“Oh, yes. We have triplets, too. They’re four years old. Girls. Ramona, Sylvia, and Olivia.”

“Pretty names.” Scout gave a trembling smile. “But four girls. Oh my.”

Libby laughed. “It’s a bit of a challenge.”

Scout nodded. “I’ll bet.” She folder her hands on her lap and lowered her eyes. This is too weird. I have to get out of here.

Libby waited a beat, then burst out with her question. “I’m sorry. But you must have noticed. You have the same eye and hair color as my little one, here.”

Scout squirmed in her seat. “Yes.”

Libby glanced back and forth between them again. “Your hair is a unique coppery shade. I’ve not seen it very often.”

“Um, there’s a reason for that. I think.”

Libby looked up. “There is?”

“Um. My name’s Scout, and I’m…I’m actually related to you. We have…we had…the same father. Rudy Vanderhorn was my father. My mother said he had my exact hair color when he was a boy.”

Libby stared at the redheaded woman who sat beside her with tears welling in her eyes. She glanced between Sidney and Scout. She was right about the hair color. “Wait a minute. I don’t understand. How—”

The girl leaned forward, covering her face with her hands. Her shoulders shook. “I’m too late.”

“Wait,” Libby repeated. “Rudy was your father? How’s that possible? When were you born?”

The girl hiccupped a few times, then sat up, wiping furiously at her wet cheeks. “I’ll be thirty-three in a few weeks.”

The blood drained from Libby’s face. “That’s not possible. I’ll be thirty-three in August. How—”

Scout stuttered the words. “My mother was Iris. She was married to Rudy.” 

Libby stiffened. “But Iris was my mother. She left us when I was three, and we never saw her again. There’s no way she could be your mother.”

Scout glanced up at Libby. “My mother, Iris, left when your father had an affair with someone else. She was pregnant with me when she ran. Iris isn’t your mother. It’s not possible. Not if we’re both turning thirty-three. And we’re sure as hell not twins.”

Libby felt the blood drain from her face. She was about to ask Scout what in the world she was talking about, but Fritzi entered, bearing a tray of clinking glasses. 

Fritzi laid the tray on the glass-covered coffee table. “Here you go, ladies. You can add your own sugar, if you want to. There is a bottle for Sidney, too.” 

Fritzi’s hands trembled, and Libby wondered if she was still upset about having been asked about Rudy. She’d been with the family for as long as Libby could remember, and had taken his death very hard.

When Fritzi left the room, Libby picked up her daughter and took a deep breath. How could this woman accuse her father of such a terrible thing? “I don’t understand what you’re saying. It’s not possible. Like I said, my mother—Iris—didn’t leave until I was three years old.” She stopped and thought about it. “I mean, that’s what my father always said. I don’t actually remember her.”
Scout didn’t answer.

“You’d better tell me what you know,” Libby said. “Just start from the beginning.”


Aaron Paul Lazar is obsessed with writing. He's completed twenty-five books to date, and has earned nineteen literary book awards. He writes mysteries, suspense, love stories, and more. You'll usually find him writing his heart out in the early hours of the day - preferably in the dark, quiet hours when no one else is awake in his bustling household.    

“Addictive, award-winning fiction.” 


11. VOODOO SUMMER (coming 2016)

1. THE DISAPPEARANCE OF BILLY MOORE (formerly Healey’s Cave)

3. DEVIL’S SPRING (coming in 2016)

WRITE LIKE THE WIND, volumes 1, 2, 3


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Fall in Love with New Characters by Sampling Four Series "Firsts"

Hi, folks. 

Today through this weekend, you can download four books for free - what a great way to sample new series, right? Hope you enjoy them!

Aaron Lazar

At Odds with Destiny: Double Forté book 1 in LeGarde Mysteries

Inspired by St. Patrick's Day, which is just around the corner, I want to give you a taste of Gus LeGarde's heart.

   As I walked back into the bedroom, I stopped at the mantle, kissed my fingertips, and touched them to the silver frame that held Elsbeth’s photograph. She stared at me with her beautiful, dark brooding eyes. For the first time in four years, I felt a twinge of guilt. I’d been undeniably attracted to Maddy’s daughter, in spite of the promise I’d made to myself to remain faithful to Elsbeth’s memory. I’d vowed I’d never love another woman. Ever.

How could I? How could anyone replace a lifetime soul mate? Elsbeth and I had known each other since I was five and she and Sig were four. We'd been close friends in our youth, and had married when she’d turned eighteen. It had seemed out of the question that any other woman could fill my life the way she had. 

And yet…there had been a certain pull when I met Camille today. An undeniable pull. 

Excerpt from Double Forté by Aaron Paul Lazar, included in At Odds with Destiny

Four amazing novels in one boxed set
Open it at your own risk:

It's a FREE gift! Get it now:
At Odds with Destiny
★ Kindle  Nook ★ Apple 
★ Kobo ★ Smashwords ★ 
"The variety here is phenomenal, from intrigue and mystery, to gut wrenching, to fantasy, one thing is consistent, the quality." 

-Dennis Waller, Top 500 Reviewer

Monday, March 7, 2016

Review for The Asset - Anna del Mar, by Aaron Lazar) is the first book I've read from Anna del Mar, and all I can say is it won't be my last.

Packed with powerful characters that will ensnare your heart by the end of the first chapter, this very suspenseful romance is full of heart, soul, and intelligence.

Protagonist Lia is a woman shattered by her past. Little by little, the author reveals the deep, dark secrets that haunt her. How she survived the ordeals she endured was beyond my understanding, but as I learned more about her I grew to respect her more with every revelation.

Ash-the brilliant, brave ex Seal-is the only one capable of helping Lia see herself for who she is, bringing her back to sanity, and healing her fully from the inside out. He's a devoted and brilliant partner to this brave, damaged woman.

Neil, Ash's German Shepherd, was another favorite. The dog had a beautiful soul and distinct personality, and I rooted for him all the way.

On top of the fast-paced suspense, the author paints the most erotic and beautiful love scenes out there. Fully fleshed out (no pun intended), these steamy, very moving scenes are top notch with skillful writing and authentic sensations woven throughout.

Kudos, Ms. Del Mar, for a wonderfully rendered, deeply satisfying tale.

Highly recommended by Aaron Paul Lazar

Stay tuned for exciting news about Anna del Mar coming in April, 2016!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Sculpting out a story

I recently heard a popular author say something about how a writer works at their story, chipping away at it until the essence of the story begins to appear. It sounded so much to me like sculpting that I had to go to the Internet to check and see if I was right.

Sculpture Techniques. A sculptor can achieve his desired results by either subtractive techniques (i.e. chipping or carving material away, as with stone or wood) or additive techniques (i.e. adding material, as with clay or wax). -- Saatchi Art

Yes, indeed. Writing is very much like sculpting.

It was such a good comparison, I decided to blog about it. In fact, as I dug in to research the term SCULPTURE I found that the very art form has undergone a lot of changes in the last century. New tools, new techniques - all the facets of sculpture and sculpting has become a much broader subject.

Just like WRITING and books.

Has anything in the world of art, either visual or otherwise, had more changes than writing? We went from pen/pencil and paper to digital. That alone is a mighty switch. Years gone by, subject matter of books has been opened as well. No longer is the subject of intimate relationship sent to someone's home in a brown paper wrapping. (See the Fifty Shades series of books standing face-out on shelves).

And sculptures can be designed in many mediums. There are stone, wood, and metals just for starters.

Books too, have their formats. We no longer are held at paper. Now there are digital files, and audiobooks, and even now, some writers are playing with video as a format to provide story to consumers.

Even when I sit down to work on my latest story, watching the elements unfold as I develop the characters, setting, and use dialogue to my advantage, I can see how it is like a magnificient altarpiece dug out of lindenwood. I hope you too will see my art in what I do.


Get Kim Smith's latest offering, Disk of Death at Amazon.