Friday, June 14, 2019

Coming Clean...and Queen.

Hello, friends!

For the past year I've been trying to gloss over what was happening to me when I posted. After all, who wants to hear about a writer who's too sick to write??? Sure, I mentioned a bit about the strange form of esophageal reflux I had (LPRD) but I really didn't share the whole truth. Now that I've had surgery and am feeling pretty darned good again, I thought I'd "come clean."

So, it's a long and complicated story, but I'll try to spare you the gory details. After one year, eight very specialized "specialists," a gazillion tests that were absolutely not fun, and multiple appointments every week, I'm finally getting back to my old self. Since last May I could barely walk to the mailbox and back without getting horribly out of breath and coughing up a storm. I was even breathless when I bent over to tie my shoes! Ack! And I could barely get out to the garden to pick my beautiful tomatoes. My flower beds and veggie garden sported four foot high weeds...a nightmare for the gardener in me. They put me on oxygen at night and tried to figure out why my O2 dropped to 75 every time I did any little thing. On top of that, work cut me to half time due to business pressures, and we have been seriously struggling ever since.     

Well, long story short, they found that although I have existing issues with scarring in the lungs, and I've always had big time asthma, the whole mess was exacerbated by tons of acid coming up from my stomach and going down into my lungs. So, I got fundoplication surgery ("toupet" variety, this is where they fix the esophagus/stomach interface to make the valve stronger) on April 3rd. I was back to work 3 weeks later, and now at 9 weeks later I'm so sore all over I can barely move, because I WEEDED my gardens for hours and hours every day this past weekend! Woo hoo! I know that's a weird thing to be happy about, but I was outside! I was in the sunlight and felt the fresh breeze on my skin! And guess what? In mid-May, I planted my garden full of tomatoes, kale, collards, squash, melons, cukes, beets, beans and more. ;o) Everything's doing great and we even had a few strawberries this week. The flower pix I'm inserting within here are all my morning walks through my flower beds - they have been the most lush I've ever seen this year. ;o)  

I honestly thought my gardening and writing days were over, which I'm sure contributed to the deep depression. Thank goodness, that's over.  

So, I guess you could say, I'm "back." And although last year I didn't have any energy or even care about writing much, now I've got the writing bug back and I'm planning the next Gus LeGarde mystery. I have ideas that are starting to gel, and some of them will be based a little bit on stuff that happened to me.  

No, Gus and his family won't be getting sick. My gosh, I've had enough of that! But I think my Chopin-lovin' guy is going to fall in love with some rock music that might surprise you. I'm tempted to tell you all about it, shall I? I know this article is already too long by conventional standards, but here goes.

When I was in college for engineering (1973-81) I basically tuned out modern day music. I turned back to classical, started playing my Chopin waltzes and mazurkas again, and went nuts for opera, finding and falling in love with the best tenors and sopranos. It goes without saying, Pavarotti was my all time favorite. My wife and I had loved rock and blues and folk in the sixties and early seventies. We went to all the concerts. We saw Led Zep in 1969, as well as tons of other "new" British bands who performed in Boston in tiny little clubs. Oh, we just loved The Doors, Stones, Beatles, Jeff Beck, J.Geils, PP&M, Rod Stewart, Traffic, and so many more cool bands. But we thought it all ended there and that "nothing" in modern day (translate that to 1973 and beyond) rock would ever, ever touch the beauty of the bands we already loved. 

Boy, were we wrong.  

Dale and I saw Bohemian Rhapsody a month ago. We had known absolutely nothing about the band Queen. Nothing! Okay, so a few songs like "We Are the Champions" and "We Will Rock You" were familiar from television, etc. But we both were absolutely seriously and fundamentally moved by that film, and immediately watched the live concert, then bought the greatest hits album. Now I play these tunes EVERY SINGLE day on my way to work, and while I'm weeding outside, and while on the treadmill, etc. My wife is doing the same and blasts them from our apple TVs. We are so hooked And I'm just amazed at how incredible the musicianship is, including the beautiful ballads, complex harmonies, arpeggios that make my spirit soar, and of course, the driving beat. Wow. Now we discovered (yes, we were absolutely like aliens coming down to earth for the first time in this regard!) that there's another "greatest hits II" album and a ton of individual albums as well. Can't wait to explore them all.

Just imagine Gus tooling down the country roads with hard rock blasting out of his car windows. I can just see the looks on his students' faces as he pulls into the school parking lot. Heh heh.  

What else will happen in this new book? What about Sig and Lily, who are pregnant with their first child? Now living in their new log cabin, Sig and Lily will have their baby (boy or girl? What's your guess?), Shelby will get into a lot more trouble than usual, and there will be a new creepy neighbor who buys the old Marggrander farm next to Gus. We have to have a villain, right? So stay tuned for more as I start writing this one soon. ;o)

Speaking of rock music, have you read Spirit Me Away? This LeGarde Mystery takes place in Boston in 1969 (when I lived there) and is full of hippies, music, and mysteries galore. Gus even gets chased by a peacock while trying to rescue Elsbeth. And yes, that also happened to me. LOL. I'll tell you about it some day.
Here's a bit about the story:
Boston, Massachusetts: It’s the summer of ’69—the parks are flooded with flower children and a hot new band called Led Zeppelin is set to appear at the Boston Tea Party. But for one newlywed couple just beginning their lives together, there will be no peace.

In the cradle of sex, drugs, and rock ’n roll, Gus and Elsbeth LeGarde are music students attending the New England Conservatory of Music, after a wedding kept secret from their families. When they discover a bruised and sobbing teenage girl on the Boston Commons who can’t remember who she is, or how she got there, the couple decides to “adopt” her to help uncover her identity.

But Gus and Elsbeth aren’t prepared to be plunged into a violent world of rape, abuse, and a ring of white slave traders who’ll stop at nothing to take back their property—or to acquire new flesh in the form of Gus’s beautiful young bride.

At times nostalgic, heart-stopping, and breathlessly dramatic, Spirit Me Away is a thrilling romantic mystery set against the colorful backdrop of the sixties—with an unforgettable conclusion at the greatest rock festival of all time.

Chapter 1
June 28, 1969

The girl slumped on a park bench clutching a battered old guitar case. Long copper curls tumbled forward in an untidy mass, nearly obscuring her eyes. She covered her face with her hands, and it was at that moment I noticed her shoulders shaking.

The poor thing was crying.

Concerned, I stepped closer to the balcony railing to get a better look, wondering what was wrong.

I’d just wandered out to our terrace after working for two solid hours on my music theory homework. I needed fresh air, because I didn’t think my brain could process any more post tonal theory, 12-tone series, octotonic scales, or especially the impossible analysis of Bartok's String Quartet Number 4, first movement. And although the scenes on the Boston Public Garden were usually quite lively, filled with hippies sitting cross-legged on the grass, mothers pushing strollers, and dogs chasing Frisbees, I hadn’t expected to see this poor creature sobbing on the park bench.

I called to Elsbeth, who’d been playing a salty Brazilian tango on our beat-up baby grand. “Honey? Can you come here for a minute?”

The expression in Elsbeth’s dark eyes swung from musical enchantment to mild curiosity. She pushed back from the piano and joined me on the balcony. “What is it?”

I pointed to the girl. “Over there.”

My wife peered across Beacon Street to the sidewalk bordering the park, where the girl sat on the bench, weeping harder now.
“Oh, the poor thing. Another lost flower child.”

“Yeah.” A pang of empathy banged through me, which was always a bad sign. It meant I’d probably do something I’d regret. 
Regardless, I couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to the girl, who looked to be about our age, maybe eighteen or twenty. She wore typical hippie garb, like most of our Bean Town flower children, with patched bellbottom jeans, sandals, a tie-dyed tee shirt, and a suede vest with beaded fringe.

I slid my arm around Elsbeth’s waist, watching the street below bustling with activity. Groups of vibrant young hippies, flowing with beads, long hair, and whorls of colorful fabric, tripped and laughed, floating across the park to gather and play music.

Fat pigeons gathered and cooed at the girl’s feet, as if in tune with her sorrow. Their green metallic feathers winked in the sunlight. 

Strains of the Doors’ “Break on Through” wafted from someone’s transistor radio. Taxis, cars, and buses engorged with passengers trundled past, honking and billowing black smoke. Throngs of businessmen hurried through the park, dressed in neatly pressed suits and crisp white shirts, ignoring the forlorn figure on the bench.

No one stopped. 

No one gave her a second glance. 

I turned to my wife. “We can’t leave her there.”

“I know.” She grabbed my hand, pulling me toward the door. “Come on.”

Donations to Pets for Vets
Remember the Love Under Fire boxed set, with 21 books? It was only available for a short time, and we told you we'd give half of our profits to Pets for Vets. I promised the pictures when they were available.;o) 
We were honored when Kathryn Knight, one of our authors, presented this wonderful organization with $1,725.00 in their Maine chapter. Two of the other authors in the set just presented our other donation...another check for $1,725.00 to Pets For Vets, Washington, D.C. Chapter! Thank you to everyone who helped raise this money, and if you'd like to learn more about the set and support the authors involved, you can read more here.

Following are a few deals from author friends. Enjoy!

DO NO HARM is an extraordinary, limited collection of medical thrillers written by USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Amazon best-selling authors!

And check out this FREE story by wonderful author and artist, Uvi Poznansky. 
Thanks for reading my rant today. I know many of you are amazingly supportive folks who I consider friends, so thanks again for all you do to pass on the word of this starving artist!  

Send me an email if you have any comments, ideas for Gus's new book, or questions. If you don't know this already, I LOVE hearing from my readers. It's the best part of being an author.

Best always,

Aaron Paul Lazar
aaron dot