Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Guest Post by Aaron Paul Lazar: For Writers: The Ultimate Reward

For Writers: The Ultimate Reward
by Aaron Paul Lazar

What do you picture when you dream about your book’s success? Do you envision readers stopping you in the grocery store with stars in their eyes? Getting on Oprah? Seeing your book in the front window of your local book store?

Or maybe you dream of your book riding at the top of the NY Times bestseller’s list for months at a time? How about dining in New York City with Mr. Warren Adler, of War of the Roses fame? Talk about a dream made in Heaven, this writer is one of the century’s best. Of course, this repast would be followed by a glowing, personal endorsement of your works by the master. 

Am I close? 

Are you being honest?

Over the years I’ve pictured several of these dazzling dreams happening to me. Including a multi-million dollar movie deal in which Yannick Bisson (Of Murdoch Mysteries fame) plays Gus LeGarde. And of course, the world would fall in love with the LeGarde family and beg for more each year. I imagined quitting my engineering job, staying home to write, making enough money to pay down the debt and take care of long needed repairs, like the twenty-six windows that shake and rattle every time the wind blows.

I envisioned copies of my books in everyone’s home library. Worldwide, mind you. Not just in the States. 

Lots of dreams. Big dreams. And all revolved around the traditional definition of success.

Recognition. Adulation. Confirmation that my work is valued. And enough money to take care of a small country.

A few weeks ago something happened that changed all that.

Judy, one of my lunchtime walking partners, had been canceling walks and working through lunch to make extra time to care for her elderly mother. We all admired her, watching as she shopped for her mom, took her to numerous doctors’ appointments, and tended to her increasing needs with fortitude and devotion. She was one of five siblings, but took the bulk of the responsibility on her shoulders. 

The cancellations increased in frequency, and it seemed we’d never see our friend on the walking trails again. We worried when her mother was admitted to the hospital. Up and down, her progress seemed to change like the December wind that skittered across the parking lots at work.

Judy was absent a few days, then a few more. Something felt wrong. 

Then came the dreaded email. The subject line always seems to say the same thing. “Sad News.”

Judy’s mom had passed away, released from her earthly bonds and finally free to float among the angels. 

When Judy returned to work a week later, she shared stories about her mother’s final days. One of them surprised me greatly, and fundamentally changed my definition of success.

Judy read to her mother during her final stay in the hospital. For hours on end. She happened to have my second book, Upstaged, handy and began to read to her during her responsive times. Sometimes her mother would just lie there with her eyes closed, and Judy didn’t know if she was listening. Frequently, she’d ask, “Do you want me to continue reading, Mom?” Her mother would respond. A nod or a short word. 


A nurse perched behind Judy and became involved in the story, too. So Judy would continue reading aloud, giving comfort to her mother and providing a little armchair escapism to her nurse. Solace came from the tentative loving voice of her daughter, close and warm. And she was reading my words. 

It floored me.

In a flash, I realized if one woman could be comforted on her deathbed by my books – I’d already reached the definitive pinnacle of success. 

You’ll never know how your stories will affect the world. Not until it happens. So keep writing and imagine the best. Not the money, not the fame, not the ability to quit that day job. Imagine affecting one solitary soul in their final moments on this earth, and you’ll have pictured… the ultimate reward.

I think this big dream is something all writers dream of, and few achieve. But still we hope! And in the end, Aaron is right:  if we have fans, no matter how few, who truly enjoy our writing, we have been successful.

-Stephanie Osborn

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

An Indian Soul, Guest Post by Aaron Paul Lazar

Hey guys! Aaron's excerpt got such a great response last week, I thought I'd let him talk about himself and his writing a bit more! So here he is, discussing ancestry and culture! Enjoy!

-Stephanie Osborn


An Indian Soul 
by Aaron Paul Lazar

I’ve always been fascinated by Indian* culture. Not from a touristy point of view, mind you, but more from a strong, unyielding pull that comes from deep inside me and seems to grow stronger with every year. 

I’m not sure why this is happening, but I do know I have some native blood flowing in my veins. My grandmother told me that one of her French Canadian ancestors married a native woman. I’ve been proud of that fact all my life, but went along blindly accepting the fact without asking more questions until it was too late. My grandmother and father both died in the same year—1997—and there’s no one else to query about which tribe my great, great, great grandmother may have belonged to, or where she lived in Canada. I do know that my grandmother was born in a little town named Beau Rivage, near Quebec, and that it no longer exists because of an intentional flooding done to create a lake, or some such thing. Some folks have suggested our tribe was the Metis, but I have no proof. I never asked my grandmother more than that. Sigh. I really wish I had.

But there’s something inside that draws me to the woods and outdoors with such a visceral pull, I can’t resist. I’m deeply happy when I’m hiking in the woods, tending my gardens, or sitting beside the Sacandaga River. I frequently imagine what life would have been like as an Indian brave—hunting, tending orchards, managing crops, running through the woods all day. It’s more than an occasional speculative thought. I seem to think about it a lot.  

I believe God intended us to live as one with nature, managing our woods and fields carefully, without chemicals. This concept starkly contrasts with the lives many of us have now, sitting in an office behind a computer screen. Our bodies aren’t meant to do that, they’re meant to move and bend, with the strength and agility that comes from activity. If only we could somehow recapture the beautiful, natural ways of our ancestors who lived and nurtured the land, I know we’d eliminate high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, and more.

When I started to write my Don’t Let the Wind Catch You, the sequel to Tremolo: cry of the loon, I decided to make the ethereal spirit who shows up in chapter 1 an Oneida Indian.

The Iroquois Nation, whose people call themselves the Hau de no sau nee, consists of six individual tribes located in the northeastern region of North America. The Six Nations includes the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora. I chose the Iroquois tribes because I know people of this tribe once lived and walked on the same trails I frequent, and it seemed fitting, you know?

Penaki, or Penni, as she’s affectionately known, pesters young Gus and his friends to find evidence in an old abandoned house that is rumored to still harbor the virus for the Genesee Valley Fever, which killed hundreds in the late 1700s. She needs to be avenged by having the truth come out, so she can be released from her earthly bonds. 

When I write about Native Americans, whether it’s Don’t Let the Wind Catch You or my new Tall Pines series, I feel most inspired while sitting by the Sacandaga River, in Hope, New York, or hiking the deep woods nearby. I picture the land before roads bisected its wild beauty, before electric poles marred its view, in a time when man had to rely on his skill and wit to survive. 

Like I said, I’ve always been fascinated by this culture. In lieu of going back in time to live life among the trees and rivers, I guess I’m creating a new world, where treachery may lurk around each corner, but where natural beauty abounds, as well.

I’m definitely enjoying the ride.

You can read the first chapters in Don’t Let the Wind Catch You by clicking on the title. Let me know what you think by contacting me at aaron dot lazar at yahoo dot com.

Aaron Paul Lazar

*I’ve read a lot of books on Indians lately, and have been educated to discover that most tribes don’t like being called Native American, they prefer either their tribe name (like Seneca or Cherokee), or native people, or Indian. So I’m trying to dump the PA term from most of my discussions to honor them. 


I can definitely relate to what Aaron is saying. I have most of the genetic traits of Native Americans, and my grandmother quite a few generations back is said by one side of the family to have been a full-blood Cherokee escapee from the Trail of Tears. Another side of the family says she was full white. But those genetic markers say that SOMEONE in my family had Native blood. I'm just not sure where. I do know that I am one of the few people in the State of Alabama that has been recognized in court by the Western Band of Cherokee as BEING Cherokee. I am honored in that.

-Stephanie Osborn

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Book Bombing Aaron Paul Lazar!

Hey guys, fellow Twilight Times author Aaron Paul Lazar has a book being released tomorrow, and we're having a book bomb! That's where we ask everyone to buy his book on the same day - that way, there's a huge surge on Amazon and his ranking gets driven up! (Good way to get on a best-seller list!) His book is called Don't Let The Wind Catch You, and it's great! I'm going to excerpt it today; please purchase it on Amazon tomorrow!

(P.S. Formatting issues are my own. Sometimes BlogSpot isn't the most cooperative word processor.)

-Stephanie Osborn


Excerpts from Don’t Let the Wind Catch You

By Aaron Paul Lazar


I folded my napkin and looked first at my father, then my mother. "Mum? Dad? I have a question."
They both stopped in the middle of their pudding and looked at me with expectant smiles.
"Do you know who lives in the woods in that cabin behind the Ambuscade? He's an old hermit, lives by himself, I think."
My father took a zealous interest in his pudding.
My mother went white. She collected herself, exchanged a worried glance with my father, and lied to me for the first time in my life. "No, darling. We don't know who lives there. But that's private property. You shouldn't trespass in those woods."


I saw her in the distance. She lay huddled on her side near an abandoned old house with broken windows and scores of missing shingles. We hurried to her and jumped to the ground. I reached her first, but Siegfried pushed past me to inspect the damage.
He cradled her head and whispered to her with an urgency born of fear. "What happened?"
On her forehead, a bloody gash congealed in a nasty looking puddle. Her left ankle was swollen, all puffy and purple. She tried to sit up, but couldn't.
"I was scouting around this old house, when we flushed a turkey out of the brush over there." She pointed with a shaky finger toward the woods. "Golden Boy shied–really bad–and I fell. My leg got twisted."
I scooted beside her and laid a hand on her shoulder. "Can you get up? We could boost you onto Golden Boy and get you home. You'll probably need crutches, you know."
She shook her head. "I don't know if I can get up. I feel dizzy."
Something inside me took a step toward manhood. "You'll ride with me, then." I stooped over her, put one hand under her knees and the other around her back. With one swift lunge I picked her up and carried her toward Pancho. Siegfried ran ahead and held him while I managed to slide her onto his back.
I turned to Siegfried. "Give me a boost, will you?"
"Ja. Naturlich." He laced both hands together and offered me a step up. "Up you go."
With a swift upward thrust, he propelled me high in the air. I landed lightly on Pancho's back, snugging behind Elsbeth, and clucked to Pancho. "Okay, boy. Let's go. Walk on, now. Nice and easy."
The sensations I felt while pressed behind Elsbeth confused me. Although I'd always been protective of her, this was different. Sweeter, it coursed through my blood and made me want to lay my head on the soft curls on her shoulder. I didn't, of course. I didn't want them to think I was a nerd.

"Tully! He's coming this way." I pulled Siegfried to the window.
Elsbeth wasn't flustered. "So? He's nice"
Sig brought her back to reality. "Ja. But we're trespassing and he might tell. We could be in big trouble."
Her eyes darkened. Trouble at her house meant beatings. "Mein Gott. We should go, fast."
Tully cut across the field and was heading straight for us. He'd be there in ten minutes, easy. Just as I turned to head for the stairs, I noticed a movement in the mirror over the little girl's vanity. I froze and pointed.
"What's that?"
The twins joined me and watched as something drew in the dusty surface. The letters were cumbersome and crude. A "P" appeared first, followed by an "E." With dropped jaws we watched the last two letters form: "N" and "I." The aroma of fresh crushed peppermint leaves filled the air.
Elsbeth looked from Sig to me and back again, excitement unleashed in her eyes. "Penni!"
I didn't wait to investigate, but led them out of the house and back to our horses, fortunately tethered behind the house and out of view of Tully. We scrambled onto their backs and leaned low, squeezing their sides hard. In seconds, we'd streaked into the shelter of the woods.

It started with a soft moan. I sat straight up and threw back the covers. "Who's there?"
With trembling fingers, I turned on my bedside lamp. My mouth and nose filled with the scent of peppermint.
The sound came again, but this time it almost seemed to resonate from inside my skull.
Tully. Help Tully.
Help Tully. Help Tully. Help Tully.
I stood up and looked in the closet, then poked my head out the window. No one stood on the roof or below my window. The words came again, but this time accompanied by a quick flashing vision of the abandoned house. It was as if someone had aimed a super-eight-movie projector on the inside of my eyes, but only for a second.
Blood roared in my ears, and I felt all tingly. "Penni?"
The curtains rose up and took the shape of a young woman, revealing the outline of her lips, nose, and forehead. The fabric moved in and out, as if she were breathing. Right there in my bedroom.
I rubbed my eyes to be sure I wasn't still dreaming, and approached the curtain. "Penni?"
A hand reached out from behind the gauze material, and almost touched mine. Help Tully. Now.

At the water's edge, I walked in four inches of water, avoiding children's colorful metal pails and shovels, sun-bleached curly heads with lobster red shoulders, and an array of mothers and fathers who chased after babies or swung them in the water. When we reached the wharf, we hurried up the sand onto the asphalt and once again I hopped around like a clown with a hotfoot.
Siegfried pushed me toward a shady section where drifts of sand covered the tar. "Stand here. We'll order, and you wait in the shade."
I nodded and handed over my wallet. "I want two hamburgers with the works, onion rings, a root beer float, and a pound of saltwater taffy, assorted flavors." I'd memorized the order all week, dying for the promised day when my mother said we could buy lunch out.
I handed him the wallet, then leaned against the side of the building and watched them stand in line, all tan and sandy and tousled. Siegfried's blond hair looked more like Paul McCartney's mop top every day, except in color, of course. Lanky, yet surprisingly poised, he towered over his sister. She stood petite and pretty, as if she were about to leap on stage in a tutu, flying into the air with unbridled energy. A surge of affection rushed through me for both of them. Siegfried had seen his sister reach for my hand several times, but instead of flipping out, he'd averted his eyes and smiled. I loved him for that.
Don't forget to buy Don't Let The Wind Catch You tomorrow on Amazon!
-Stephanie Osborn

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A little...delay

I don't have anything lined up for this week, I'm afraid, guys. I've been busy getting a novel manuscript ready to go out the door, writing up a synopsis of one in my agent's hands -- and I've been dealing with a stalker.

Yeah, you heard me. A stalker.

He's local, here in Huntsville, and he doesn't seem to get the word "no." He tagged my Facebook page, asking for money (I don't have a job, I need money to go to the con, send money to me through Paypal, get your friends to do it too -- just about in those words), until I blocked him. Then he sent me an email asking for money. I replied with a bit of a rant, explaining that what he was doing was rude and I wasn't going to reward it. (If someone is truly hurting and approaches me in the right way, and if I can afford to do so, I can and have help(ed). This was NOT the right way, this was brazen and bold and self-indulgent.) I told him I'd already blocked him on Facebook and now I was blocking his email. I sent the email and then blocked him.

THEN he posted -- to my Facebook fan page. A very awkward "apology" that really wasn't one. You know the type I mean. And he did it in such a way that Facebook won't let me block him from the page or report him.

Then, THEN, he applied to join my private Facebook fan group, Lady Osborn's Pub. I saw it and killed the request...the first time.

Yeah, "first" implies "second." He did it again, and this time it was my admin who saw it and either didn't know, or didn't recognize the name. And he got in, for a couple of days, until I saw it yesterday and threw him out and put a permanent ban on him.

And I won't bother you with the way he shows up at events and conventions and invades one's personal space and... I think I'll go to a room party. Oh darn, there's X. I better move on to the next party. Oh look who just came in behind me. Moving to the next did he...the next one...maybe I'll just go back to my room...

I hear he does this to lots of authors, some a lot better known than I am. But it isn't a compliment no matter how you look at it. And it isn't fun for the people being stalked. Guys like this? They don't get the concept of boundaries, of limits. Those things can't possibly apply to them, can it?

D@#^ straight, skippy, it can and does. Tomorrow I plan on calling the Huntsville PD and discussing it with them to find out what can be done.  Cease and desist, restraining order, something of the like.

Meantime I'll just keep writing. It's what I do.

-Stephanie Osborn