Seedlings by Aaron Paul Lazar

What They Say

“You do not have to explain every single drop of water contained in a rain barrel. You have to explain one drop—H2O. The reader will get it.”
—George Singleton


Aaron Paul Lazar

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. A bestselling Kindle author of 22 books, including three addictive mystery series, writing books, and a new love story, 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. Visit his website at http://www.lazarbooks.com and watch for his upcoming release, UNDER THE ICE. Aaron has won over 18 book awards for his novels and finds writing to be his form of "cheap therapy." Feel free to connect with him on Facebook or his website; he loves to connect with readers.


SEMI-FINALIST Kindle Book Review Awards 2015
FINALIST Readers Favorites Awards 2013
SEMI-FINALIST Kindle Book Review Awards 2013, Mystery Category
HONORABLE MENTION Eric Hoffer 2013
GRAND PRIZE * FINALIST 2013 EPIC Book Awards  * FINALIST 2012 FOREWORD BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARDS * Finalist DaVinci Eye Cover Award 2013 * WINNER 2011 EPIC Book Awards, BEST Paranormal * FINALIST 2011 FOREWORD BOOK AWARDS * WINNER 2011 Eric Hoffer BEST Book, COMMERCIAL FICTION *Carolyn Howard-Johnson's Top 10 Reads for 2012 * 2X FINALIST Global eBook Awards 2011 * Preditors & Editors Readers Choice Award – 2nd place 2011* Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s Top 10 Books of 2012 * Winner of Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s 9th Annual Noble (Not Nobel!) Prize for Literature 2011 * Finalist Allbooks Editor’s Choice Awards 2011 * Preditors&Editors Top 10 Finalist  * Yolanda Renée's Top Ten Books 2008MYSHELF Top Ten Reads 2008  * Writer’s Digest Top 101 Website Award 2009-2012

Contact Aaron at aaron(dot)lazar(at)yahoo.com.

 

Books by multi-award winning, Kindle bestselling author, Aaron Lazar:

LEGARDE MYSTERIES

LeGarde Mysteries

DOUBLE FORTÉ (print, eBook, audio book)
UPSTAGED (print, eBook, audio book)  
MAZURKA (print, eBook, audio book)
FIRESONG (print, eBook, audio book)
TREMOLO: CRY OF THE LOON (print, eBook, audio book)
DON’T LET THE WIND CATCH YOU (print, eBook, audio book)
THE LIARS’ GALLERY (print, eBook, audio book)
SPIRIT ME AWAY (print, eBook, audio book)
UNDER THE ICE: COUNTERPOINT (coming soon 2015)
LADY BLUES: forget-me-not (print, eBook, audio book)
VOODOO SUMMER ( print, eBook, audio book)

GREEN MARBLE MYSTERIES

Green Marble Mysteries

The Disappearance of Billy Moore (formerly Healey's Cave) (print, eBook, audio book)
TERROR COMES KNOCKING (print, eBook, audio book)
FOR KEEPS (print, eBook, audio book)

TALL PINES MYSTERIES

Tall Pines Mysteries Series

FOR THE BIRDS (print, eBook, audio book)
ESSENTIALLY YOURS (print, eBook, audio book)
SANCTUARY (print, eBook, audio book)
BETRAYAL (print, eBook, audio book)

PAINES CREEK BEACH SERIES

Paines Creek Beach Series

THE SEACREST (print, eBook, and audio book)
THE SEACROFT (print, eBook, audio book)
THE SEADOG (print, eBook, audio book)

 

 

Seedlings
by Aaron Paul Lazar, author of the LeGarde Mystery Series.

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Illustration © 2006 GinELF

January 2020

"Emotions/Dealing with Rejection or Unfair Criticism - How to Give Constructive Criticism; Rejection! (Is your book REALLY that bad?); and Unplugged" Copyright © 2019 Aaron Paul Lazar. All rights reserved.
Complete section Excerpts from Write Like the Wind volume 2 by Aaron Paul Lazar. Re-printed by permission of the author.

Write Like the Wind volume 2 by Aaron Paul Lazar

Emotions/Dealing with Rejection or Unfair Criticism

How to Give Constructive Criticism

Has your literary work ever been publicly shredded? I’m not referring to valid criticism, of course. I’m talking about verbal disemboweling. I’m referring to those vicious, condescending slams that stab you in your writer’s heart.

I’ve been trying to analyze why I’m fuming after reading such comments about an upcoming new suspense novel by a writer friend. The author submitted a chapter and synopsis for an “honest” review by a self-proclaimed paragon of publishing expertise. I know this book well and was enraged when I read the comments. Not just miffed. Not just ticked off. Truly and properly livid. I’ve had to wait a few days to write about it, because I was afraid I’d lash out in an unprofessional way if I let the emotions curdle on the page.

I’m not going to detail any of the completely unfounded criticisms this “expert” had to offer. Suffice it to say that the comments were facetious in the worst sense of the word. They fell into the realm of the “I’m better than all of you schmucks and I’ll prove it at anyone’s expense” kind of comments. I’m sure you’ve read or heard critics like this. It’s as if they live to put down another’s work to shore up their flagging egos, or whatever else might be flagging in their lives.

Sure, everyone has a right to his or her opinion. This is America. We encourage freedom of speech, yada, yada, yada. But, there’s a right way to deliver criticism. And this wasn’t it.

Let’s take a look at a few fictitious examples and discuss the best way to deliver literary criticism.

You’ve just read a fellow author’s book and want to provide advice. The novel was filled with highly descriptive scene painting, but the characters were flat. Do you say: “The characters in this book were so two-dimensional that I lost interest immediately. Joe was made from cardboard and couldn’t be more boring, with a capital B.”

Or, do you offer an alternative: “I enjoyed the vivid imagery. However, I wanted to know more about Joe. What was he feeling when he found his daughter? Relief? Anxiety? Sorrow? Tell me more about everything he sees, hears, tastes, and feels. This will bring more immediacy to your work.”

What if you read a few chapters from a young, excited writer who begged you to critique them, but the spelling, grammar, and formatting are the worst you’ve ever seen? Do you reply with, “Forget about writing. First you have to learn the English language, including tenses, spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Go back to the drawing board.”

I’ve had samples like this submitted to me on several occasions. I had to stretch…hard…to find nice things to say to the wannabe writer. When I looked beyond the obvious failings, I did find some decent creativity and some natural-sounding dialog. So here’s what you might say in such a situation.

“You have some unique characters and their conversations sounded authentic to me. Great dialog. But there are a few fundamental things you need to brush up on, including the highlighted text in the attached marked up document. Mostly you’ll see they involve spelling and grammar. Perhaps a refresher course would be helpful? But don’t give up. You can fix these things with the potential to write a good novel.”

The comments mentioned above by the so-called editor about my friend’s book were closer to the first example, but tinged with spite.

The publishing “expert” predicted that my friend’s book wouldn’t sell because it would be impossible to write fight scenes effectively.

I beg to differ. The fight scenes were flawlessly executed. I felt the jabs, tasted the blood, and brushed away the sweat. I sensed the impact of flesh on flesh, reeled from the kicks to my ribs, and saw my opponent in double vision as perspiration rolled down my brow. I would say, unequivocally, that this author had actually set the standard for writing fight scenes.

Postscript: My friend has already proven this guy wrong. The first five books in the series are doing very well, thank you very much.

 

Rejection! (Is your book REALLY that bad?)

Rejection. Oh, how it stings. Most of us have been through it during our lives seeking jobs, seeking love, or seeking publication for our books.

Rejection hurts. It destroys our self-image (for a while, anyway) And it tears at the thin fabric in which we cocoon our fragile writer's ego, protecting the inner belief that our work is worth something.

A new writer recently emailed me after receiving a flurry of rejections from big agents. With a crushed spirit, she wrote:

"It makes no sense to me. If someone has written a book that is a good read, then why in the world would it not be recognized, published and read? The only answer that makes any sense is that it's not a particularly good read after all."

Alas, if it were only that simple. Let's step back and take a look at the situation.

You wrote a book. Your instincts tell you it's darned good. You envision an agent or publisher recognizing this and sweeping you up in their arms to share with the world. You dream of financial success, recognition, and that sweet validation that makes you feel you're a "real" writer.

That elusive dream haunts just about every new writer I've ever known. Then, after years of toiling, burning the midnight or early morning oil, sweating and suffering and bleeding onto the pages—most realize, in time, that they'd better not quit their day jobs.

If every "good" book was accepted and published, we'd need a great deal more space to store and sell them. I've read that bookstores today stock only 2-3% of the published books in the world (physical books, not eBooks, of course.). Imagine all the "real" books that don't end up on their shelves? Now imagine all the good books that never get published. It's mind-boggling.

An enormous number of books are submitted annually to publishers, and only a relative handful of agents and editors scan through the 0.05% that are accepted for the slush pile. They often receive hundreds of submissions per day. Imagine reading 100 emails every single day from authors who want to be heard? It wouldn't be hard to feel jaded in short order.

Publishers and agents have cut down their staffs, because of the economy, and it's probably even harder for them to get through the slush piles now, with the fear of job loss if their next pick doesn't bring in some cash.

There are plenty of horrible books submitted each year, too. But there are also hundreds, if not thousands, of very good books out there. Yours may be one of them. (If it isn't, keep on working on your skills until it is.)

Are you in this boat? Have you had your books summarily dismissed by the powers that be, over and over again? Have you hired or courted superb writers to help you perfect your story? Have you scoured your book dozens of times for typos or inconsistencies? Have you researched the heck out of every point that needs confirmation? Have you assured yourself that your dialog is crisp and believable? Have you hacked away at unnecessary adverbs and adjectives? Have you just plain told the story in the same voice you use to speak?

And has your book still been rejected?

If not, drop down on your knees and count your lucky stars, for you are among one of the very few who got picked up at the starting gate. If so, let me share something with you.

Rejections may have nothing to do with the quality or value of your book. Most often, they have to do with the market, and what's "hot" this season. It could be the mood of the agent or editor who's reading your stuff, or the fact that your book slides between genres. Maybe it features young adults, but doesn't follow someone's blueprint for what a YA book needs to contain. Maybe it's absolutely perfect for a publisher, but they've already filled the slot for your genre on their list this year. Maybe the first level editor falls in love with your book, but her boss doesn't. Or you get all the way to the top of this year's short list, only to be told you didn't make the cut.

Sound familiar?

If you don't get picked up in the first five years by high profile agents or publishers, I recommend seeking a high quality small press. It's not easy to get into their world, either. But you don't usually need an agent, and they can provide a nurturing home for you, as well as help you get your books out to the public.

Another option is to join the legions of successful authors who are now publishing their own work, managing every single aspect of their career independently. Some say it’s the new “chic,” but you must realize that skills are involved here which must be studied and learned, so don’t assume it’s easy.

Talking about validation, let me tell you, friends, it's that public, those lovely readers, who will provide the substantiation you've sought for so long. When the first person (who isn't family or a friend) comes up to you and gushes over your characters, or when you receive that unsolicited email from a stranger who NEEDS your next book or "they'll just die," or that lady who's been staring at you with stars in her eyes finally approaches you in the grocery store and says she wants to marry your lead character...that's when the validation just washes through your writer's soul. It's even better than the glowing reviews.

So, the publishing game is tough, but it's not hopeless. There is still a place for us in this intensely competitive world. Acceptance by a high profile firm does not necessarily equate to a good book, just as rejection doesn't always equate to a bad book. Just look at the bestsellers out there. Some are quite odious, filled with plot holes, flat characters, and poor editing.

Wait a second. If it’s that hard, why bother?

Even with staggering odds in today's market, every year several "newcomers" are "discovered" and offered lucrative contracts. It does happen. We hear about it all the time. The next "hot" book will be discovered any day now. And it could be yours.

My final bit of advice is this:

If you are a passionate writer, you need to keep writing, regardless of what agent represents you, how many times your work has been rejected, what publisher has thumbed their nose at you, how many readers you have or don't have, how many books you have published or not published.

Okay. Group Hug.

Now, go out there and write like the wind.

Unplugged

Sometimes our lives can make us crazy. Stress works against us on so many levels, and once in a while it’s healthy to get “unplugged.” After this week of taking time to reconnect with people and nature (and especially not through electronic methods), I wrote like the wind. It reinvigorated my writing life, and hopefully such a mini-vacation could do the same for yours.
***
In 2007, I nearly ran out of vacation days too early, due to too many unexpected family emergencies that claimed my vacation time. By September, only three precious days remained from my annual allotment. 

I needed all three days to have Christmas week off. My employer gave us Monday and Tuesday for free, and with vacation to fill Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, I would be able to secure a ten-day pass, counting weekends. Naturally, I guarded those three little days with my life. When appointments came up, I worked early or late to make up the time. When my daughter needed a ride to college for a few meetings, I took her to work with me after the visit, to avoid using my vacation. It was a hard fought battle, but I did it.

The time off was heavenly. I ate my way through pounds of Christmas cookies, made candy bars mysteriously disappear, and generally behaved in a shameful, glutinous fashion. What a blast.

One of the best parts was being a kid again. I played superheroes with my grandsons. Repeatedly. Julian was Spiderman, Gordon was Superman, and I was awarded the role of Batman. I really wanted to fly, but the boys made me feel better by telling me about my Batmobile. In hindsight, it was kinda fun to drive the Batmobile while humming the Batman song. They were generous, however, and awarded me flying powers by knocking their knuckles against mine with appropriate sound effects. In no time at all, we were flying over mountains and oceans together.

We made Play-Doh, rolling and shaping the blobs until our snowmen were six balls deep and our snakes almost fell off the table. When the boys' great grandma dug out her mini-rolling pin and cookie cutters, it added a whole new dimension to the fun. Never mind that I had to crawl around on my hands and knees later and pick up a gazillion gobs of dough. It was worth it.

But my favorite activity was fishing. 

Yes, fishing. In January, in Upstate New York, we sat out in the backyard and cast with their new kiddie poles toward a giant puddle that had formed beneath our willow tree. Instead of the usual snow and ice, the winter season has been strangely mild, and it was warm enough most days to play outdoors.

Julian picked up on casting like a pro, but Gordie couldn't quite figure out how to press the button and release at the proper time. So, we did it together. Watching the plastic fish bob through the water was delightful, even though I ended up having to rescue the fish from the apple tree branches several times. More often than not, I ended up standing on the lawn chair with a rake to pull the branches down, but it worked, and the fish were saved for yet another cast.

We cooked, too. Wonderful comfort food meals with homemade applesauce, fresh picked veggies like kale, collards, and sprouts, and mashed potatoes. My buddies helped, washing potatoes and adding ingredients. So what if the paprika sprinkled on the deviled eggs was a quarter inch thick on some and missing on others? They tasted great and we scarfed them up in no time.

In addition to enjoying my grandkids fully, I was able to reconnect with two of my lovely daughters who came home for visits. We played cards, sat by the fire and talked, and took turns babysitting the two new puppies in the family. I also did lots of writing, caught up on correspondence, and actually completed some industrious cleaning projects that had been preying on my mind for months.

One of the best things about this time at home, however, was the lack of connectivity with the rest of the world. I was unplugged for ten days. No television, no radio, no newspapers. I retreated from all the violent sensational headlines, enjoying being cocooned by my excursions into superhero land and sleep hog heaven. I didn't miss it. Not one bit.

Today I unplugged the Christmas lights. There was a twinge of sadness as I walked around the property, extinguishing the white lights that illuminated the yard for weeks, or the blue lights twinkling on the back porch. The two deer and Christmas tree flickered out with nary a tail swish or head bob, ready for next year's display.

Now, after a few days of back-to-the-grind, I'm trying hard to hold fast to the memories and that lovely sensation of pretending to be retired. 

How many days ‘til Easter?

Aaron Paul Lazar
www.lazarbooks.com


Write Like the Wind cover artwork

WRITING ADVICE: 

WRITE LIKE THE WIND, volumes 1, 2, 3  (audio books)

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning, bestselling Kindle author of three addictive mystery series, thrillers, love stories, and writing guides, 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. Visit his website at http://www.lazarbooks.com and watch for his upcoming releases, UNDER THE ICE (2015) and DEVIL’S CREEK (2015). Aaron has won over 18 book awards for his novels and finds writing to be his form of "cheap therapy." Feel free to connect with him on Facebook or his website; he loves to connect with readers!

 

 

Bittersweet Hollow series by Aaron Paul Lazar

BITTERSWEET HOLLOW Romantic Suspense Series

DEVIL’S LAKE (print, eBook, and audio book)
DEVIL’S CREEK (print, eBook, and audio book)
DEVILS SPRING (print, eBook, and audio book)

"Loved this book! DEVIL'S LAKE is a riveting read, and It could have been ripped from today's headlines." Joan Hall Hovey, Canada's best selling, award-winning Mistress of Suspense.
- 2015 Finalist Readers Favorites Awards
- 2015 Semi-finalist Kindle Book Review Awards