Writing the Tough Stuff (Or Killing the One You Love)

Please welcome my friend, fan, and fellow author, Aaron Paul Lazar, who will be discussing killing the one you love — metaphorically and literarily speaking, that is. Aaron writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning, bestselling Kindle author of three mystery series, 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.  Aaron says:

It’s not easy writing a scene where you kill the one you love.

Of course I don’t mean your actual spouse or lover. I mean the wife, husband, or sweetheart of your main character.

I’ve done it in FOR KEEPS. Thinking about it tears my heart out every single time.

That’s what I mean by “writing the tough stuff.” Sam Moore—a retired family doctor who is our resident hero in Moore Mysteries — is very much like me, except he’s twelve years older and retired with enough money to putter around in his gardens all day. Let me repeat that. All day!

I hate him for that.

Okay, so maybe that’s a little extreme, considering he’s fictional. Shall we say, I am exceedingly jealous of his lifestyle? Although Sam was a family doctor and I am an engineer, we’re still a lot alike. We both love to plunge our hands into the soft earth and grow things. We both love our grandkids so much it hurts. And we both have spouses with multiple sclerosis. There are plenty of differences, too. I cook, I write, and I take photos. Sam doesn’t. But of course, it’s not a competition. At least I don’t think so…

In spite of the fact that he’s not real (at least not in the traditional sense, LOL), I relate to this man and feel his pain when he’s hurting. Sure, you say, writers should feel ALL their characters’ pain. We have to, to get into their heads and nail the characterization. Don’t we?

But I’ll bet some characters are closer to your heart than others.

Sam’s wife, Rachel, shares many qualities with my dear wife, Dale. They both endure MS, they both love to read, they are both chair-caning artists. Some of their symptoms are the same, but that’s where they split apart. Rachel loves to cook (that’s my job in our marriage), she’s in a wheelchair, and she stays pretty upbeat, considering her challenges. They both adore their grandchildren and both love to read. Rachel’s a tribute to Dale, in all honesty. But she also has morphed into her “own woman,” too, and I love her deeply. Er . . . through Sam, of course. (Honey, don’t be jealous!)

In the first two books of theMoore Mysteries series, Rachel sticks by Sam’s side, supports him when he’s overcome with grief and is plagued by strange paranormal events, and loves him deeply enough to keep him sane.

That’s why it really hurt when I had to kill her.

In For Keeps, the third book in the series, life takes an awful turn. When Rachel is murdered by a serial killer, it puts Sam back in the psych ward, the same place he was thrown when his little brother disappeared without a trace fifty years earlier. Desperate to fix things, he calls on the power of the green marble, the talisman his little brother Billy controls from afar that whisks him back and forth through his past.

Unlike those of us in real life, Sam gets a “do over.” He flies back in time to desperately try to fix the problems that lead to this gruesome act, and over and over again, he attempts to tweak the past to bring his dear Rachel back to life.

How do you write such a scene without losing it? How do you make it feel authentic to your readers? How much is too much? And how can you be certain that your character’s reaction will ring true?

It’s not easy. Matter of fact, since I loosely base Rachel on my own wife, and since Sam and I are really quite alike, it was close to torture.

I called upon my darkest, most powerful emotions experienced when my father died and also when my own dear wife almost died several times in the past few years. I’ll never forget the time the nurse in the ER called the nun on duty to bring me to a little room where no one would see my reaction to her impending news that Dale might not make it. She carried a box of Kleenex under one arm and a bible in the other. She was so sweet. Yet it was one of the scariest moments of my life. Thankfully, my wife pulled through and is doing okay today.

That hollow-gut, black-sludge-in-your-heart feeling is horrible when you lose someone dear to you, isn’t it? It’s all encompassing. Sometimes you just want to deny that awful truth, and pull away — far away — like Sam does in the following excerpt. (Click here to read the Excerpt From “For Keeps” by Aaron Paul Lazar.) I tried to channel those feelings when getting inside Sam’s head.  Let me know if you think it worked.

For Keeps is book #3 in Moore Mysteries, and is now available through Twilight Times Books and Amazon.com. The series can be read in any order.  Free dates of “For Keeps”: Sept 14, 15, 16th and October 12, 13th.

copyright 2012, Aaron Paul Lazar

Aaron Lazar’s Review of A SPARK OF HEAVENLY FIRE

A Spark of Heavenly Fire
by Pat Bertram
Publisher: Second Wind Publishing
ISBN number: 978-1-935171-23-2
Review by Aaron Paul Lazar
Lazarbooks.com

Who says you can’t squeeze romance into a thriller? And while you’re at it, how about weaving in a deeply moving story about human redemption?

Author Pat Bertram says you can. And she’ll convince you before you can say chimera — the lethal combination of virus, bacterium, fungus, and human genes that causes the rapid spread of the “red death,” a bio-engineered weapon threatening the entire state of Colorado.

Kate Cummings is trying to deal with the loss of her husband, who drove his car off a mountain after a long battle with Multiple Sclerosis. She passes by his bedroom without daring to enter, and slogs through life in a solemn daze, feeling guilty for every time she waited a few extra minutes to answer his summons, or for each time she became angry. His loss haunts her, and although her work at the Bowers Medical Clinic is fulfilling, it can’t heal the hole in her heart.

When a jogger stumbles into Kate with red eyes blazing, he vomits blood on her and dies instantly. A rash of similar deaths follows, decimating the state. Orange paint markers on front doors –– signifying a “red death” in the marked homes — begin to appear with frightening regularity. Panicked parents discard their red-eyed children, fearful of contagion.

Enter Greg Pullman, reporter for the Denver News, who’s engaged to the ditzy beauty, Pippi O’Brien, local TV weather girl. But when he bumps into Kate after Pippi heads for the border in search of safety, things change. Together, Kate and Greg investigate and unearth the shocking source of the horror that has shut down their state and caused a rogue wing of the military to terrorize Colorado’s remaining citizens. Basic human amenities – so often taken for granted –– become grounds for murder. And the streets are no longer safe to walk unescorted.

In addition to a killer story line, smooth writing, and phenomenal characterization, this page turning thriller features fine examples of charity through glimpses into Kate’s huge heart. The remarkable heroine opens her home to survivors who are homeless and hungry. Soon, partnered with a destitute woman named Dee, Kate’s home becomes a refuge for survivors. And in the midst of the massive deaths, terror, and horror, Kate finds salvation.

The tension in A Spark of Heavenly Fire is electric. Taut suspense pulls you along at a rapid pace. This reader was up way past his bedtime three nights in a row. And yes, it was that good.

***

Thank you, Aaron!

Be sure to check out Aaron Paul Lazar’s books at http://www.lazarbooks.com/

Recording Your Character’s Voice by Aaron Paul Lazar

Please welcome my guest, Aaron Paul Lazar, author of the LeGarde mysteries and  Healey’s Cave, the first book in the Moore paranormal mysteries. Lazar says:

I’m wondering if every author needs to take voice-over training. Especially if they want to record their works in audio formats. 

Readers like hearing the author read. Right? They know that only the author really understands the nuances of each sentence, the way it was supposed to be said aloud. I do believe this, and wish I could download books read by Dean Koontz himself, or that John D. MacDonald could come down from Heaven for a while to record his Travis MacGee series for us. Wouldn’t that be cool? 

When you’re reading from your own character’s point of view, you really have to get inside his head. You have to feel his pain, suffer his humiliations, and share in his joy. 

Could you do that? If so, it’s a good sign that you really know your characters.

And what do you do if your character is of the opposite sex? I guess unless you’re a woman with a very deep voice, or a man who does a reasonable falsetto, you’ve got to find someone who fits that mold, a friend who can sound like your character and really get inside his or her brain. 

Would you like to get to know a character, even before you read his book?

Well, I never took acting lessons, but I sat in the back of the auditorium while my daughter performed in fifteen musicals and plays. Maybe a little of the training rubbed off on me. I don’t know. 

Regardless, I figured it was a good idea to help create a little buzz for my debut book in my new green marble series by writing a letter from Sam Moore to his future readers. Would you like to hear it? See what you think and please let me know, below. 

Sam Moore’s most intimate and tortured thoughts are in this video. It’s not really a normal video, but the only way to get audio on YouTube or other sites is to put a jpeg image behind it and save it as a movie file. ;o) Took me all day to figure that out – shows you how bright I am. And I didn’t want to make it into a book trailer, for Heaven’s sake. I already have one of those!

Sam Moore is a retired country doctor in the new paranormal mystery series, Moore Mysteries. The first book just came out via Twilight Times Books, and you can read the first few chapters here: Healey’s Cave .

***

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. The author of LeGarde Mysteries and Moore Mysteries 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 websites at www.legardemysteries.com and www.mooremysteries.com and watch for his upcoming release, FIRESONG, coming Winter, 2010.

 

Savor the Moment: Inspiration for Writers

Aaron Paul Lazar has graciously consented to be a guest host on my blog today. The author of LeGarde Mysteries and Moore Mysteries, Lazar 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 websites at www.legardemysteries.com and www.mooremysteries.com and watch for his upcoming release, MAZURKA, coming in 2008. Lazar says:

It’s the last week of August. Autumn has already stretched tentative tendrils toward us, cooling the evenings and drenching the morning with heavy dew. Today, as I rounded the top of a hill overlooking the valley, my breath caught in my throat. Before me lay the snaking path of the Genesee River, previously hidden from casual view behind fields and woods. Nebulous clouds of fog hovered above, revealing the river route that quietly meanders out of sight most of the year.

My soul exploded with a sensation of splendor best described by the Japanese philosophy, wabi sabi*. This was indeed a wabi sabi moment, a fraction of time linking nature and man, steeped in intense sensual beauty…so full of wonder it transports you to a moment of spiritual enlightenment.

In addition to the vapor-bound river, the countryside lay punctuated with farmers’ ponds, exposed via banks of fog steaming overhead. Normally hidden by tall fields of grass or corn, the wisps of moisture called attention to the quiet shallows, home to frogs and watering holes for livestock.

Stunned by the beauty, invigorated beyond belief, I continued on the drive that I’d taken thousands of times before. Heading north on River Road, whispers of “Thank you, God,” floated in my brain. Still and amorphous, the words vibrated in syncopation with stirring grasses.

Once again, nature presented a feast so lovely I choked with emotion. There, to the east, clusters of wheat waved in the sunlight with heavy heads bowed under the weight of soaking dew, their curvatures swan-like as they moved in glistening silence.

The ephemeral nature of this phenomenon is part of the allure. That precise moment of intense immersion, that amazing connection with nature, will never repeat. The sun’s rays may not hit the grass with exactly the same angle or intensity. The grass will change tomorrow, perhaps drier, taller, or shorn. This transient moment of staggering beauty must be absorbed and cherished.

What path do writers take to experience this? How do they open the channels in the brain that might have been content to listen to Haydn’s 19th Symphony in C Major, but blind to nature’s offerings? (this was playing on the radio when I delighted in these visions today.)

First of all, one must be a “visualist.” That isn’t a real word, but it describes what I mean. A person who is stunned by physical natural beauty (certainly not at the exclusion of aural, tactile, or emotional stimuli) possesses visual aqueducts to the world through his or her eyes. Infinitesimal flashes of stunning images move him beyond belief. These impressions are captured in his mind’s eye, never to be lost, forever to be savored. And often, when this type of writer is creating, they see the “movie in their mind,” pressing from within, allowing readers to feel intimate and involved in a scene.

What type of a reader are you? Do you soak up scenes written by others? Imagine them for days on end? Find choice gems of passages that affect you for life? Do you want your readers to feel this way about your own prose?

It is this deeply felt appreciation for nature, for life, for wonder, that promotes a good writer to potential majesty. Perhaps not to best-seller status – that illusory fate is in the hands of a publishing industry often not tuned into art, but focused solely on profit. Try to ignore that aspect when you are creating your next masterpiece. In time, if the stars are aligned and you achieve this pinnacle of greatness, it may happen.

Open your eyes. Reel it in. Absorb the beauty around you, whether it is the flash of love in an old woman’s eye, or the fragile petal of a tiny orange cinquefoil. Allow yourself to be in that moment, record it in your soul, and play it back for your readers for the ultimate connection.

* Wabi Sabi for Writers, by Richard Powell, Adams Media.

You can find Aaron Paul Lazar at: www.legardemysteries.com www.mooremysteries.com www.aplazar.gather.com www.aaronlazar.blogspot.com www.murderby4.blogspot.com

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