Friday, February 22, 2008

THE BEGINNING

This poem is my first published work. I was in Junior High, age 14. It appeared in Young America Sings, an Anthology of Texas High School Poetry. Published by the National High School Poetry Association. Many years passed before I was published again.



STARS
I often lie awake at night,
Watching stars that are so bright.
They sparkle and twinkle in the cool night air,
And look like ladies with lovely golden hair.
You see the little dipper and the big dipper too,
Away up in the deep dark blue.
But then come the morning rays of light
And all the stars are gone until tonight.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

TREMOLO, CRY OF THE LOON


Aaron Paul Lazar is on his virtual book tour this month (info. about him follows) to talk about his latest book, TREMOLO, CRY OF THE LOON, a fascinating read. Here is my review:


Set in 1964, in the Belgrade Lakes of Maine, Aaron Paul Lazar’s novel “Tremolo, Cry of the Loon” presented one mystery after another begging to be solved and kept me turning pages to the very end to see who the guilty person or persons were.

At the tender age of eleven, Gus LeGarde has a lot to deal with. First, when Gus and his friends, Elsbeth and Siegfried, wreck their small boat, they manage to swim to shore, but as they make their way through the trees to Gus’s grandparents’ fishing camp where Gus and his family are spending the summer, they almost collide with a young girl. She’s bleeding and frightened and running from a drunken man. Who is the girl the man calls Sharon? Why is he after her? Gus worries about Sharon and wants to help her, so he tells the authorities, but they give little credit to the young boy.

Second, who is the mysterious woman staying in Cabin Fifteen? Everyone is hush, hush about her, and all Gus knows is that she is old, has a cat, and recently lost a family member. She also has “guardians” who live in the cabin next to her, which means she’s probably someone important.

Third, while authorities search for Sharon, valuable religious artifacts are stolen: a bell cast by Paul Revere and a rare marble statue of the Virgin Mary, along with other priceless objects. Is there a connection between Sharon’s disappearance and the theft of the artifacts?

When Gus and his friends get too close to the truth, their lives become endangered. Will they rescue the missing girl, or will their fate be the same as hers, whatever that might be? If you’re a child of the ’60s, you’ll remember the thirty-three rpm records, the movie “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the Beatles, and five-cent sodas. If you’re not a child of the ’60s, you’ll enjoy the twists and turns and surprises in this breathtaking mystery.

Beautiful imagery and touches of nostalgia make this a must read for all ages. You’ll be glad you read it.

Aaron Paul Lazar's Virtual Book Tour


I am delighted to interview Aaron Paul Lazar, author of the LeGarde Mystery series and other novels, on his virtual book tour. So let’s get started. Welcome, Aaron. Thanks for stopping by.

Thanks, Beverly. I’m thrilled to be here!

Who or what inspired you to write your series and especially your latest, Tremolo: cry of the loon?

I wrote Tremolo for myself, first of all, and intended it to be the “quintessential joyful shout of childhood,” so-to-speak. I know that sounds strange and possibly selfish, but I was compelled to write it. My summers in Maine were so magical, so precious, that I needed to capture each and every memory. The drive was strong–impossible to ignore.

It just so happened that I’d already referred to these magical summers in my first two books in the adult Gus LeGarde series, so Gus fit right into the camp. I loved picturing him as a young boy with Elsbeth (his future wife) and Siegfried (before his debilitating accident). What fun it was to introduce Gus’s parents and grandparents, who are distant memories in Double Forté and Upstaged. And being able to present Elsbeth as a living, breathing girl, rather than a mournful memory, was most satisfying.


What were the challenges you faced in writing this story?

The last time I was actually at my grandparents’ camp in Maine was in the year 1962, when I was nine. Gus is eleven in Tremolo, so I had to try to be true to his age. Also, I wanted to include all the wonderful 1964 events that affected me so deeply as a boy. JFK, Martin Luther King, the Beatles–these actually occurred after the camp was sold.

From a writing point of view, it was quite different speaking from Gus’s eleven-year-old brain. The writing style ended up being much simpler than the books I’d already written from Gus’s adult point of view. It wasn’t intentional, just a natural extension of writing from my own inner child POV. Whenever anyone asks how old I am (my license says I’m 54), I say eleven. ‘Cause that’s how I feel inside!

Tell us about finding a publisher for your book. Were there any bumps along the way?
There were plenty! I went through a few agents and “almost there” moments that were rather trying. I learned a great deal with my first publisher, a POD company. From there, I realized I wanted to progress to an independent press, and was fortunate to find a kindred spirit in Lida Quillen, who owns Twilight Times Books. This company has an excellent reputation and is growing fast, and I’m honored to be a part of it.

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I always loved to write, and knew I wanted to write a mystery series some day–but I pictured it happening when my daughters were grown and I was retired. But when my father died in 1997, I became overwhelmed with grief. Writing was the only therapy that worked to restore my soul, and I started the LeGarde Mystery series as a tribute to my father. He was a wonderful, passionate man who spent his life imparting musical knowledge to young minds. So, although I always loved to write, it didn’t become an obsessive need until that point in my life. I was 44.

What are you working on now?

I’ve just started a crazy new book that is a standalone. I’ll go back to my LeGarde mysteries and Moore Mysteries after this. Chapter one is drafted, and I’m not exactly sure where I’m going with it, except that it will feature rare birds, a pet store owner and his wife, and a wild ride with lots of twists and turns. It came about after a very colorful and stirring dream I had last week. I’ll let you know where it ends up!

Do you have a daily routine for your writing? Mornings? Evenings? Whenever?

I have to write whenever I get peace and quiet, which varies! Lately I’ve been writing from 8-10 at night, when my grandsons are tucked away in bed. But I often go to bed at 8:00 and get up and write from 4-6, too. Whatever works, you know??? ;o)

For fun: If you could live in any time period, when would you choose?

I’d live when Claude Monet lived, near him, in Giverny, France. I’d like to be one of his gardeners, or maybe one of his offspring. I’m enamored with all the French Impressionist artists and wish I could live as one of them.

More fun stuff: What is your favorite food? Color? Book? Movie?

Ooo, that’s a hard one. I LOVE to eat. Favorites include fresh sweet corn (Silver King), Honey Crisp apples, fresh sweet peas, raspberries, beets, all Thai food, all Chinese food, anything fresh that has lots of veggies or fruit, and everything seafood… lobster, shrimp, fish, scallops, all of it!!!

My favorite color is cobalt blue.

Can’t choose a favorite book, but my favorites would come under the following authors: John D. McDonald, James Patterson, Dick Francis, Clive Cussler, Laurie King, Lillian Jackson Braun, Rex Stout, Peter Mayle, Tony Hillerman, Dean Koontz, SW Vaughn, Lesia Valentine, Patry Francis, Beryl Singleton Bissell, Marta Stephens, Bob Burdick, and Lad Moore.

My favorite movie of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird, but I also adore: Shining Through, Regarding Henry, Sense and Sensibility, Forever Young, The Game, Big, The English Patient, Frequency, Corrina, Corrina, Dragonfly, While You Were Sleeping, The Green Mile, Witness, Peggy Sue Got Married, The Majestic, Nell, As Good As It Gets, The Birdcage, Don Juan de Marco, The Station Agent, The Human Stain, Remains of the Day, Pride & Prejudice, Under the Tuscan Sun.

Do you have anything you’d like to add about yourself or your writing?

I love hearing from readers! It’s the best part of being a writer. If your audience has read any of the LeGarde Mysteries, please tell them to feel free to write about their reactions, including favorite characters, scenes, how the stories relate to their lives, etc. I love hearing it all. ;o)

Where might your readers contact you? Website? E-mail? Blogs?

My primary websites are:

http://www.legardemysteries.com/

(for the nine LeGarde mysteries that are in various stages of production.)

Also, please check out:

http://www.mooremysteries.com/

where you’ll find an introduction to the first three in the green marble series.

I do have a blog at:

http://www.aaronlazar.blogspot.com/

and can be frequently found at:

http://www.aplazar.gather.com/

where I host the Saturday Writing Essential.

My Seedlings column is also published monthly at Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine and in Voice in the Dark Ezine at mysteryfiction.net.

Thank you so much for sharing your world with us, Aaron. I look forward to reading more of your books.

Thank you, Beverly! It was my pleasure.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Are You a Tortoise or a Hare?

Remember the fable of the tortoise and the hare? The hare thought he could beat the tortoise easily because he moved so fast and the tortoise moved so sloooowwly. So they ran a race, the hare took a nap, and the tortoise crossed the finish line first. (A quick synopsis.)

You're probably thinking "She's lost her marbles. What on earth does this have to do with books and writing?" Let me tell you what my little brain sees in this fable.

First draft:

Many "how-to" books tell writers to hurry through the first draft, get your thoughts down, and then go back, flesh them out, work on details and style. This is the hare. He sees the finish line and runs for it, confident he'll win. But somewhere along the way life distracts him, and he tales a nap. I'm not saying writers get distracted. In fact, they zip along and complete their books, a lot quicker than I do mine. Like the hare finishes the race, the author finishes the book.This method works for them. I wish it did for me.

Alas, I am the tortoise. Something inside me hollers "Hold it. You can't go on to the next scene until this scene is fairly satisfactory." I don't mean it's perfect. Far from it. I still need to know more about my characters, about their wants, their problems. My plot and subplots need developing more fully. And I've spent a year or more on the first draft, while the hares are already on the third, fourth, or more edits of their stories.

I believe this is an individual thing. What do you think?

Which are you? A hare? Or a tortoise?

Whether you're a tortoise or a hare, happy writing.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Listen to the Ghost



My first novel for teens is set in Charleston, South Carolina, where, according to legend, many of the old houses have a resident ghost.

All Jade Dalton wants to do is show her paintings at Charleston, South Carolina's, annual Piccolo Spoleto Festival, swim in the ocean, and forget her ex-boyfriend with the lying lips. So how does she end up with a ghost who doesn't want to be a ghost, a one-hundred-year-old neighbor who talks in riddles, and a handsome sax player who changes everything?

The trade paperback is available at Amazon and also at Twilight Times Books