Monday, October 06, 2014

Sky Lissoneau, The "Bad Boy" from Tall Pines Mysteries

Hi, folks!

Today I'm participating in another blog hop, an event that jumps from one writer's blog to another. In this particular hop, we're featuring characters from our novels. Polly Iyer, suspense author extraordinaire, invited me to participate. I've read and loved all of her novels, including HOOKED and MIND GAMES.  

Here is a link to her blog, where she discusses her character, Diana Racine, one of my favorites.

Polly has just released the third Diana Racine novel, BACKLASH, which I'm dying to read. Here's a peek at the book:


http://www.amazon.com/Backlash-Diana-Racine-Psychic-Suspense-ebook/dp/B00N23JRTC/ref=sr_1_sc_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412608957&sr=1-2-spell&keywords=bakclashWhen psychic Diana Racine’s old friend is murdered in New Orleans, her love, Lieutenant Ernie Lucier, brings her in to consult on the case. What she sees when she touches the dead man’s body is another man with silver eyes, a gang tattoo, and a bullet in the middle of his forehead. Before long, Diana and Lucier are drawn into a web of murders that stretches far into the past. The deeper they get into the investigation, the more it appears the deaths are the work of a group of vigilantes on a moral crusade. Vigilantes wearing the blue of the NOPD who won’t let anything or anyone stand in their way.


*** Now here is my piece about one of my very favorite characters. ***

Sky Lissoneau: the “Bad Boy” from Tall Pines Mysteries

copyight 2014, Aaron Lazar

When I began to write the Tall Pines Mystery series, I never intended to create a mystery featuring a sensuous three-way relationship between Marcella, her husband Quinn, and her first love, Sky. But that’s exactly what happened, and the tension and desire are still scorching the pages behind the mysteries in books two through four.

In For the Birds, book 1, Marcella is in love with her husband of seven years, a beautiful half-Seneca man named Quinn “Black Eagle” Hollister. I hadn’t created Sky Lissoneau yet, who shows up as a feature character in book two, Essentially Yours.  Sky proposed to Marcella when she was a young woman on the brink of pursing her singing career. She loved him deeply, but wanted to follow her heart to New York City, where she hoped to become part of the cast in The Metropolitan Opera.

When Sky arrives on the scene after being MIA for eighteen years, Marcella is stunned and deeply conflicted. Of course she loves her husband. She adores him. But when she sees the passion that still fills Sky’s sea green eyes, it makes her remember the times they had together as teenagers on Honeoye Lake. As a youth, the young Sky methodically studied methods to please women, and his talent in that arena had driven Marcella to heights she’d never forget. He’d been her first, and she’d ridden those waves of rapture with abandon on his family’s pontoon boat at night in the middle of the lake.

Sky suffered badly in the war, including having to secretly leave his platoon when his best friend’s life was in danger. Captured and held as a prisoner of war for years, all he could think of was Marcella, his darling Marcella. It was the thought of Marcella’s soft kisses that kept him going. Her infectious laugh helped him survive the cruelest torture. And when he returned with a gang of vicious hi-powered crooks chasing him, she’d saved his life. Somehow, he just knew she’d be there, still waiting.

It was when Marcella introduced Quinn that his heart was broken for the second time in his life.

Now he secretly hopes she’ll dump her big, beautiful Indian brave and come back to him. But he never says a word. He just looks at her with adoration, and jumps to help her whenever possible. In Betrayal, book #4, Marcella is on the outs with her husband and flees to their cabin in the Adirondacks for solace.

Sky lives and works at Project Hope, a research site in the mountains. When she calls him for help turning on her water and heat, he’s at her side in a flash, and is very happy to oblige. ;o)

http://www.amazon.com/Betrayal-Tall-Pines-Mystery-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00N2134W0/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=0Y6S4QSBQ14YDT39KE39
BETRAYAL: A Tall Pines Mystery

Marcella Hollister realized a lifetime of hopes and dreams when she was given custody of a child. A cousin of her half-Seneca husband, Quinn, the baby’s mother was murdered in a political plot—and Marcella, who’s never been able to have children of her own, formed an instant bond with little Kimi.


Then a distant relative comes forward to claim Kimi—and Quinn, who Marcella thought understood her pain better than anyone, allows them to take the baby without a fight.

Confused and deeply wounded, Marcella takes off for Tall Pines, their secluded Adirondack cabin. She hopes the peace and natural beauty of the mountains will help clear her head and decide whether to forgive Quinn…or leave him.


But the situation at Tall Pines is anything but peaceful. Her high school lover, Sky, arrives to help out—and Marcella discovers her old feelings may not be as distant as she thought. Worse, a serial killer is stalking young women in the area. And when a teen girl whose mother works with Sky goes missing, Marcella and everyone she cares for wind up dead center in the killer’s sights.

Next, please stop by my fellow authors' websites when you can. Next week they will post their
"About My Character" pieces for you to enjoy!

Mary Bradley McCauley

http://secretsometningwithin.blogspot.com/2009/12/healing-power-of.html
They are at The House of Annon to learn how to change their lives. Annon is their guide, helping them and at the same time searching for the one who will replace him, guiding others to change their lives. He studies each one, wondering who it will be; one of these, or is there another to come? At each session they talk about the amazing changes in their lives, face obstacles, and overcome set-backs in order to learn how to use the infinite power within. In the beginning there are only four. More will come, more always come.

 ***

Books by multi-award winning author, Aaron Lazar:

DOUBLE FORTÉ (print, eBook, audio book)
UPSTAGED (print, eBook, audio book)  
MAZURKA (print, eBook, audio book)
FIRESONG (print, eBook, audio book)
DON’T LET THE WIND CATCH YOU (print, eBook, audio book)
THE LIARS’ GALLERY (eBook)
UNDER THE ICE: COUNTERPOINT (coming soon 2014)

HEALEY'S CAVE (print, eBook, audio book)
FOR KEEPS (print, eBook, audio book)

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

STANDALONES
THE SEACREST (print, eBook, and audio book)

WRITING ADVICE: 

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

About Aaron 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!


Sunday, October 05, 2014

So I Broke the Rules – Go Ahead and Shoot Me! (the story behind the creation of Tall Pines Mysteries)

Aaron Lazar, copyright 2014

I didn’t intend to write a series when I created the rather kooky and slightly paranormal mystery, For the Birds. I knew it would feature a pretty little red bird on the cover (see below), because I’d just had an unforgettable dream about her. Out of the wild blue yonder, Ruby came to me, landed on my shoulder, and insisted I begin a new mystery. I’ve never owned a bird, never even knew anyone with a feathered pet, but this dream was so vibrant I couldn’t get Ruby out of my mind.

Marcella and Quinn “Black Eagle” Hollister popped onto the scene as Ruby’s owners, and Marcella’s mother, Thelma, appeared out of nowhere. Before I knew it, I had envisioned a dynamic and diverse family and their pets. Staying true to my dream, I set the story in the Adirondack Mountains, which incidentally set me craving the mountains, woods, lakes, and rivers that I’d come to love. After this dream, I just had to get up there again.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, as the case may be, I was laid off from my engineering job at Kodak right around the same time. So, with lots of free time on our hands, we headed up to the mountains and discovered the cabin where the story ultimately takes place. Tall Pines is a rustic, wonderful cabin situated on seven acres of pines above the Sacandaga River in Hope, NY. We fell in love with it and visit as often as possible. It has become the center of the series that grew from For the Birds.
 

http://www.amazon.com/Birds-Tall-Pines-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B005W629E2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1412546891&sr=1-1&keywords=for+the+birds%2C+lazar
When Marcella Hollister’s prize parakeet gets zapped by a wayward power line in the same pool as her mother, the ensuing psychic link helps Marcella chase her mother’s kidnappers through the Adirondack Mountains, where she unearths a fifty-year-old secret about her dear father with shocking links to a hidden treasure.

I really didn’t plan to include paranormal or spiritual elements in For The Birds, either. I just went ahead, guns blazing, and let the story pour out of me.

You can’t exactly call me a planner, can you? I never outline my stories and usually plunge into them with just vague ideas about the conflict, mystery, and locale. I actually have a hard time keeping up with myself and all the books that want to come out. I know, that sounds nuts. But it’s how I write.

When I finished this book, I was in love with the characters. My readers wanted more of Marcella and her gorgeous half-Seneca husband, and they seemed to enjoy our jaunts to the Adirondacks. At the same time, I’d recently become infatuated and obsessed with essential oils. There was no question that my characters would also discover them, and it came as no surprise that I used the healing power of essential oils as one of the main themes in the second Tall Pines book, Essentially Yours.

Strangely enough, however, this book was a bit different. Although it’s dubbed a mystery, it had more suspense and action than the first book. If I had to give it a genre on its own, I would have called it romantic suspense, although in general terms it could fall in the broader mystery category.

Where’s the consistency?

Perhaps there is none, and this is where I started to break the rules about keeping ones series in the same exact genre.

If push came to shove, I’d say the consistency and appeal of the series is in the characters and the telling of a rollicking story set in the same locale.

http://www.amazon.com/Essentially-Yours-Aaron-Paul-Lazar-ebook/dp/B007KPBBP6/ref=pd_sim_kstore_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=0QG6XCM0A12P5SC03TE0
Marcella’s first love has been MIA for eighteen years. Callie, her best friend and Sky’s sister, flips out when a mysterious package from Sky arrives on her doorstep. Inside his old backpack are bottles of precious essential oils, a memory stick, and a bag of emeralds. Are these his final effects? Or is Sky alive?

Drug company goons want the data on the memory stick, because it links a newly discovered essential oil with a leukemia cure. They kidnap Callie, hoping to lure Sky into the open. Marcella and Quinn track her to the wilderness of the Adirondack Mountains, where against all odds they fight to save Callie and preserve the proof that could change the world.

The characters screamed at me to write more, especially Marcella’s newly introduced old flame, Sky Lissoneau, and his damaged, but adorable, sister, Callie. I thrived on the tension between Marcella’s husband and her first love, who showed up after eighteen years with a whole gang of villains chasing him through the Adirondack woods. Quinn—usually a quiet and passive soul—is insanely jealous of Sky. After all these years, Sky still adores Marcella, and can’t get that look of desperate heartache out of his eyes.

I let all hell break loose in Marcella’s family and in the mountains where the scientific medical studies were being held to prove that a common lake week held the key to curing leukemia. Mix together some nasty drug company thugs and a bit of mysticism with crystals, oils, and the love of a big old Bernese Mountain Dog, and you have Essentially Yours.

When I wrote Sanctuary, book three, I was obsessed with what I call “my Indian soul.” In my very distant past, on my father’s side, there was a lady of native heritage up in Canada. I’d been feeling a close connection with her and my heritage for my entire life, even though the cold light of dilution of many generations, her blood flowed in less than 3% of mine. Here is an essay I wrote about this, just for grins.

With the help of a Cherokee historian friend (Thank you, Pineleaf!), I wove substantial elements of Native American traditions into this story. Using mystical elements of crystals, smooth river stones, essential oils, and a haunted mountaintop, I pushed the psychic barrier a bit here and allowed a bit of mind-melding.

This doesn’t belong in a mystery, does it? You’d really expect it more in Star Trek. But hell, like I said, I didn’t care. I just forged ahead.


http://www.amazon.com/Sanctuary-Tall-Pines-Mystery-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00MU76KCS/ref=pd_sim_kstore_3?ie=UTF8&refRID=1DS73WDGWPTJXQQHVPCN
Marcella’s husband, Quinn “Black Eagle” Hollister, severed ties to his family and friends on the Seneca reservation years ago. He rarely mentions his past—until his young cousin Kitty collapses on the couple’s doorstep in the dead of a rainswept night.

After two Seneca men break into their home with intent to kill, the Hollisters flee with the mute and injured girl to Tall Pines, their cabin in the Adirondacks. Marcella, unable to bear a child of her own, unleashes her motherly instincts caring for Kitty. As the girl slowly recovers, they start to piece together who wants them dead, and why.

When it came time to write Betrayal, book four, it flowed seamlessly after Sanctuary, I wanted to create a winter mystery full of threats, sexual upheaval, and plenty of chase scenes. I didn’t expect to introduce a pair of serial killers who left bodies on the icy shores of the Sacandaga, but that’s what happened.

I also introduced some pretty dark relationship issues into Marcella’s marriage. She feels Quinn betrays her, and flees to Tall Pines to escape for a while. Trouble is, Sky is waiting there for her, and it’s all she can do not to let herself fall into his arms. The old passion is still there, and it tortures her to look into his sea green eyes. She fights the urge to give in, but wants him so much it kills her.

http://www.amazon.com/Betrayal-Tall-Pines-Mystery-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00N2134W0/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=0Y6S4QSBQ14YDT39KE39
Marcella Hollister realized a lifetime of hopes and dreams when she was given custody of a child. A cousin of her half-Seneca husband, Quinn, the baby’s mother was murdered in a political plot—and Marcella, who’s never been able to have children of her own, formed an instant bond with little Kimi. Then a distant relative comes forward to claim Kimi—and Quinn, who Marcella thought understood her pain better than anyone, allows them to take the baby without a fight.

Confused and deeply wounded, Marcella takes off for Tall Pines, their secluded Adirondack cabin. She hopes the peace and natural beauty of the mountains will help clear her head and decide whether to forgive Quinn…or leave him. But the situation at Tall Pines is anything but peaceful. Her high school lover, Sky, arrives to help out—and Marcella discovers her old feelings may not be as distant as she thought. Worse, a serial killer is stalking young women in the area. And when a teen girl whose mother works with Sky goes missing, Marcella and everyone she cares for wind up dead center in the killer’s sights. 

If I were to read Betrayal on its own, I might classify it as a romantic thriller.

Uh huh. Not a kooky, paranormal mystery like For the Birds. Not a romantic suspense, like Essentially Yours. Not a Native American spiritual mystery, like Sanctuary.

I know! Where’s my platform planning?

That said - I must tell you my Tall Pines fans and readers don’t give a darn into which official genre my books fall. You could certainly still broadly classify them as mysteries. But they don’t care, and frankly, neither do I. It’s the characters we care about, and they are going to experience life at Tall Pines no matter what genre the story falls into.

So, yeah. I broke the rules. Please don’t shoot me. Just go buy my books and see what you think? ;o)

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!



Thursday, October 02, 2014

Using Exclamation Points in Your Novel!!!!



Aaron Paul Lazar, copyright 2014


One of the first errors I learned about as a novice writer had to do with the use of exclamation points. After penning my first novel, and fortunately, before publication, I was taught by a writing guru that exclamation points don’t belong in one’s narratives. Period.

Here’s an example of very amateurish writing where exclamation points abound. This is not okay! (I just had to put an exclamation point here to make you smile.) It’s actually very similar to several newbie manuscripts I was asked to critique.

She walked into the crystal cave and cried out. In front of her stood a giant elf! He was huge! And his eyes burned with fire!
She turned and ran as fast as her legs would carry her, and almost fell!

All right, now that you are cringing (I hope), I will stop. A few years ago, I actually edited a manuscript where there were multiple examples like this on every, single page, all throughout the book. Yup. But my young authors learned, just like we all did, and they dutifully removed those offensive punctuation marks.

Of course, there’s a difference when you use exclamation points in narrative versus dialogue. Although this example has far too many exclamation points, it’s not quite as awful as adding them in your narrative as I showed above.

Shelby held a silver chain to the light. A heart-shaped crystal dangled below, winking in the winter sunlight. “Look what Uncle Sig bought me!” she said.
Camille jumped up to examine the necklace and Johnny roared into the room, “flying” his rubbery metallic green dragon toward me.
“My dragon flies!” he yelled, zooming it up and down in the air and finally landing it on my shoulder.
“Wow. What’s his name?” I peered down at the realistic reptile who perched on me.
“I dunno,” he said. “How ‘bout…Claws?”
I picked up the squishy critter and looked at him. He did have very distinctive claws and a rubbery mouth that opened when you pressed on the skull. “Claws is a good name, buddy. I like it.”
“Can he come to dinner with us? He’s really hungry!”
Camille fastened the necklace around Shelby’s neck.
I handed Claws back to Johnny. “Sure he can. Do you have to use the bathroom before we go?”
“Yes!” he squealed, holding two hands in front of himself and dancing in place. “I do!”

Okay, so the little boy and his sister in the above segment are really, really excited. And it’s probably okay to sparingly use exclamation points in their dialog. In the highlighted areas above, such as those with the dialog tags “yelled” and “squealed,” they are sufficiently clear to let the reader know the boy is being very loud. I would remove the exclamation marks from those segments, at minimum. Frankly, I think one or two per chapter is more than enough. You can show excitement in many other ways, especially by using action beats.

For example, you might say, “He shrieked and ran in circles, arms flapping like an airborne chicken.” Or something equally as silly. ;o)

Remember, as a general rule, avoid exclamation points in narrative, and use them very sparingly in dialog. You don’t want to get the same highbrow lecture I did when I was a newbie, do you?

Now, how do you handle someone shouting in your novel? How about when it’s an inner thought?

What if your character has just stumbled upon the dead body of the one he loves?

(As you know, all inner thoughts are generally shown in italics, except where you use, “he thought,” etc.)

I have seen at least three methods to show this:

1)    No! No! No!
2)    NO. NO. NO.
3)   “No, no, no!” he thought.

Some folks use upper case to stand in for exclamation points. I’ve used that approach a few times in my own work. What do you think? List your comments below, and if you have any examples you’d like to discuss, feel free to post them in the comments section.

Remember to take pleasure in the little things. And if you love to write, write like the wind!

Aaron Paul Lazar







Friday, September 26, 2014

How To Help Budding Authors (without killing their spirits) by Aaron Lazar



copyright Aaron Paul Lazar, 2014

If you’re a published author, chances are you’ve been asked a hundred times to critique or review a newbie’s book. They might ask to send you a first draft, or sometimes they’ll ask you to endorse them by writing a blurb for their book cover. Frequently, they may be angling for an introduction to your publisher or agent.

How do you respond? You were in that position once upon a time. You remember how hard and confusing the whole industry was to understand. How scared you were of rejection and failure.

So, if you have a little extra time, you might be willing to take a look. But be careful what you promise, because no matter how great or awful you expect this book to be, you could inadvertently fall into a time-consuming nightmare.

I love to help new writers. I really do. And I try like heck to make time to read and comment on a few pages of their manuscripts. I usually ask to see a page or two before I make any promises to review or endorse. But sometimes I’m just in a nice mood and agree without thinking. This can be a mistake if the writing ends up being abysmal.

When I’ve read the first few sentences, I’ll know if I’m dealing with a well-trained writer or a rank beginner. When it’s the former, I read on with glee, making small suggestions where necessary. When it’s the latter, I usually put in an hour or so with deep edits, adding careful comments about grammar, sentence structure, skills needed, etc. It’s a lot of work, but I do believe in giving back after so many writers helped me in the beginning of my career, so it’s all good.

I have done this more times than I can remember, and I believe (hope) these efforts have helped.

It’s really hard when both the story and the writing skills are lacking. But I always try to find something nice to say, followed by a gentle but honest list of suggestions.

Here is an example of a recent letter I wrote, trying to accomplish what I referred to above. (all names are fictitious)

***

Dear Stanley,

Thank you for letting me take a look at the first chapter of your book, The Biggest Boy on the Block. I know it takes a great deal of courage to "open up" to the world after working so hard on your book, and I am honored that you trusted me to do so.

I've gone through a few pages and marked them up with writing advice. I've suggested grammar, sentence structure, and alternate word choices, etc. Please don't be discouraged by all the markups, because in the beginning all writers need to learn these skills, and it just takes time. It took Dean Koontz time, it took me time, and it'll take you time, too.

You have a wonderful imagination, and I can see your mind is very fertile! You've created fun characters and an interesting setting. Although I don't normally enjoy urban street crime novels, it was interesting to see how you set it up. I liked the way you moved your readers into the story through the old man’s memories.

Now for the hard part. Please take this in the generous spirit it's intended, okay?

Your book (including formatting) needs quite a bit of work before you think about submitting it to agents or publishers.

You might consider a few things to help you move to the next level where you'll be able to compete with the thousands of authors also trying to "break through." Following are some possibilities.

1) Join some writing forums and ask for critiques from fellow writers. But be careful of this, however, because sometimes there are very nasty people who like to tear down other writers. Check it out and see what kind of comments they make. Be sure they are decent people involved who use constructive criticism.

2) Befriend a few writers in your genre and swap chapters or books with them on a regular basis. You can learn from each other and this is a win-win situation if you choose the right partner.

3) Hire a writing coach (if you can afford it), or better yet, take some community courses on creative writing.

4) Read constantly. Find and read at least 50-100 books in your genre. With Kindle deals these days, you can probably find most of them for free or 99 cents. I have newsletters I subscribe to where you can sign up to get daily notifications of free or discounted eBooks, targeted to your genre. Let me know if you want the list. I get these “deal alerts” in my email inbox and search for the most interesting books I can get for free or cheap, even though as a writer it sometimes bothers me that it's come to this. But as a reader, I love it. LOL. I would recommend you spend the next year or two devouring books as fast as you can. Listen to the voices of these authors and learn from them. (Another way to accomplish this is #5.)

5) Audiobooks. You can download the files to your Kindle (Fire), iPad, iPod, PC, laptop, smart phone, etc. just like music files. No more messing with CDs or going to the library to pick up and drop off. You just join Audible.com and you're in. That way you can listen while you drive, work, do dishes, exercise, etc. I even listen while I do laundry. I now get many more books in my head every week, thanks to audiobooks.

6) Last of all, I would buy some basic grammar and writing books. Better yet, visit The Grammar Girl's website to use her free articles on grammar whenever you have a question. She is great! My favorite writing book of all time is Stephen King's ON WRITING. It's fantastic. You could also consider listening to my writing guide, Write Like the Wind (3 short volumes). You might pick up some new tips there as well. No pressure, naturally. (btw, I am revamping the eBooks for this series and they'll be out in a few months.)

7) When you are ready and feel your book is as good as it possibly can be, I highly recommend hiring an editor for your final manuscript before you submit.

I'm happy to keep offering advice - I love helping new writers. So please, let me know what you think and if you have any questions. Hard work will get you there and your wonderful imagination should fuel that process.

Best wishes,

Aaron

***

How’s that? How would you feel if you received a letter like this when you were starting out?

In the beginning, I think I would have crumpled, in spite of the “nice” comments that precede the truth. It would have killed me. Matter of fact, I did get a few aggressive critiques in my early days, and it really took me ages to grow a skin thick enough to handle such criticism. But I needed to hear the advice back then, and I’ve become a better writer because of it.

I encourage you all to help out newbie writers whenever possible. Be kind, be helpful, and give them sound advice.

Best Always,

Aaron Lazar





Sunday, September 21, 2014

How to Catch Those Pesky Typos


How to Catch Those Pesky Typso Typos

copyright aplazar 2014

It’s one of the hardest parts of being a writer, don’t you think? Editing your own work, running over the same pages over and over again…and still, if you’re human, it’s inevitable that you’ll miss a quotation mark here, an extra space there, or worse, a typo.

You know that reading your own words is the most difficult scenario for proofing, don’t you? Your big, beautiful brain is so good at translating what you physically “see” on the page into what your mind “knows” you “meant” to type, that it usually will glide right over an extra “the” or a missing “a.”

Yes, it purposefully corrects the errors, without even notifying you!

You can read the same sentence a hundred times, and it’ll look great to you. Your mind interprets it as you intended it. And when the first person to take a look at your book finds a glaring omission, or an extra word in that lovely prose, you may feel like an incompetent idiot.

You thought you were careful. Right? You worked so hard to catch those typos.

When it first happens, it embarrassing. But over time, you’ll learn you cannot catch all of the errors by yourself.

I’ve written twenty-two books, so I’ve been through this process a few times. (you can see them at www.lazarbooks.com, including my newest release, Betrayal.) Over the years, I’ve had publishing house editors go over my manuscripts. They found errors, I fixed them. And I tried not to make more errors when I made the corrections, which is all too common.

We had the first and second edits, then copy edits in the end to make sure we didn’t miss anything. Once in a while, in spite of our best efforts, an error would creep through. Humiliated, I’d beat myself up for this one stupid error and swear it would never happen again. 

Because, you see, I, like you, get upset when I see typos in a best selling book. I used to think, "How can they have missed them?" "How hard can it be to find them?" "Didn't they even READ this thing?"

It was very humbling and illuminating to discover that sometimes, in spite of heroic efforts, these pesky mistakes can make it through to the final version. It happens to the best of us. 

As time went on, I learned that beta readers were an amazing asset. Not only were they excellent at finding and spotting typos, but if you found talented readers or writers with a knack for literary insight (like my beta readers!), they would point out inconsistencies in a scene or even mention when they thought a character went beyond their natural boundaries. My beta readers have helped my books become the best they can be, and I love them. ;o)

Over the years I’ve developed friendships with writers and readers, and I’d offer them the job of beta reading my manuscripts before I submitted the book to my publisher. It worked out very well, and I always felt better when they’d read through my books. On average, I have 10-12 people read the manuscript before I consider it “close to done.”

Of those twenty-two books, I’ve published fifteen through a traditional small press since 2007, and have recently moved on to self publish (through Kindle Select) seven more that were waiting in the publishing queue in the past year. Polishing and proofing all of these manuscripts was a real challenge, and my beta readers did me proud. But believe it or not – they didn’t catch all the typos.

I have discovered there is one more essential step to proofing one’s manuscript: reading it aloud.

Yes, it’s something you can do yourself. It might take you a whole weekend to get through it. But it’s worth the effort. Better yet, if you have a narrator who is recording the audio book version, this is where the final catches will be found. Aside: I recommend that authors release all books in this order: eBook, audio book, print.

I have found that my best narrators (actors, really, with great attention to detail) have consistently isolated a couple of leftover “extra or missing letters/words” which are the hardest to find. Sure, with a real typo, like a misspelled word, MS Word underlines it for you in red. Those aren’t too hard to find. It’s harder when you have an extra preposition in a sentence, or a misused word like “here” instead of “hear.” MS Word doesn’t often catch those mistakes.

I find these errors creep in at the end of a work in progress, when I’ve gone through to beef up a sentence or make changes in general. Then I don’t always “cut” fully or “paste” fully and that’s my downfall! Creating typos because you’re fixing another typo is annoying, but pretty common.

Does that happen to you?

Here’s my advice on how to produce a typo-free book.


1) When creating your book, try to find a writer or reader friend who will swap chapters with you as you write it. You read their stuff, they read yours. You help them, they help you. It’s all good. They can help you cull out that first crop of errors, right off the bat.


2) When you’re done writing the book, go through it until you feel you are satisfied. This may take multiple read-throughs. It all depends on how careful you were the first time around when creating the story.


3) Ask another good friend to check it over, so you can be sure you didn’t make any really embarrassing faux pas.


4) Draft beta readers to help you. This may take years of cultivating friends and readers, but it is worth its weight in gold.


5) Review it a few more times yourself after you’ve incorporated beta edits (remember, just use what makes sense to you, you don’t want to lose your focus!)


6) Release the book as an eBook.


7) Find reviewers. Watch the comments come in from readers. Notice if anyone mentions typos! If so, go after them immediately. In this day and age, it’s easy to fix a file and reload it up to your seller’s page. Repost the eBook with the changes. (easy peasy if you are on Amazon)


8) Post the file on ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) to find the perfect narrator. Choose him/her carefully.


9) Send the manuscript to your audio book narrator to read before they begin production. 


10) When they find a few mistakes – fix them. Reload the eBook to correct these things.


11) Let the narrator finish the audiobook recording. If they find anything else (at this point it might just be a missing quotation mark, or an extra space), then upload the corrected eBook again. Now it should be close to perfect.


12) At this point, it’s safe to start thinking about creating your print version. I use Create Space and have been very happy with their quality and support. 


13) Order a proof (or two, or three, depending on what you find and fix!) before you finalize the manuscript. NEVER just review it online – you need to hold it in your hands, go through it page by page. Formatting can be tricky at first, so make sure you focus on page numbers and margin spacing before you let it go live. And read this printed version one more time – you might find another error! 


14) Send an autographed copy of your print book to all your beta readers – they worked hard for this, and they deserve a special treat!

Even with this painstaking approach, once in a while something slips through. It’s disappointing if it happens, but it’s probably God’s way of keeping us humble. ;o)

Let me know what you think in the comments below. And remember, if you love to write, write like the wind!

Aaron Paul Lazar