Tag: book

An evening with Aaron

I was thrilled to get to speak with the Southeast Region Library’s Mystery Discussion group about The Land of Look Behind. I attempted to stream the event on Facebook Live with a few hiccups but here is the video from our discussion. Thank you again to all who came and watch online.

Mystery Book Discussion Group

I am thrilled to be meeting with the Maricopa County Southeast Regional Library Mystery Book Discussion Group, Thursday August 11, 2016 at 7PM. Please come and join me for a fun time and an exciting and illuminating discussion about The Land of Look Behind. Register below (it’s FREE!). Please and thank you.

A how to guide to book signings

Chances are if you’re reading this you are A) my mother or B) an author interested in having a successful book signing.  To the former I say, “Mom, you can stop reading.   Also, your chocolate chip muffins were on point as usual.”  To the latter, I hope you find this an informative and valuable use of your precious “non-writing” time.


LandofBookSigningBefore I get into the details I’ve got to cover one critically important thing.  You have to forget that you are an author and this is your book baby that you spent months and years birthing into the wide world of publishing.  You are and it is, but nobody cares.  At a book signing, especially for first time or little known authors, you are a salesman and your book is your product.  I’ll give you a moment to let the bile settle back into your stomach.  Ready?  Is it okay to continue?  Good.  In a bookstore at a book signing you have an amazing chance to reach real live readers and let them know about your book; the more you embrace that the more successful you will be.  Think of yourself as a glorified sign spinner pointing the way to an amazing story you want to share.  Are you going to be okay?  Suppress the gag.  Suppress it.  It’ll be fine.  You’ll be all right.  There you go.  Shall I proceed?  Okay then.


Here are ten things I learned on my very first book tour (because everybody loves a top ten).


  1. Look presentable. The shut-in reclusive author vibe may have helped you complete your novel but the bookstore and its patrons probably won’t respond to the bedhead hair bun or the hobo beard and uncombed quaff.  You don’t have to rock a pant suit or find a tweed coat with patches on the sleeves but you do want to dress for success as they say.  And this advice is coming from the guy who tried to convince his wife that wearing his pajamas to a book signing could become his hook, you know, “Hey, that’s the author who wears his pajamas in public.”  In hindsight I’m glad I listened to her.  Book signings are like dating, it’s probably best to keep your eccentricities to a minimum.  Although if anybody has pulled it off let me know in the comments below so I can revisit the fedora conversation with my wife/fashion critic.
  2. Smile. From the moment you arrive you should be the happiest person in the world to be there.  Like I said, this is your chance to talk with readers, real live people who enjoy books.  You know, books, like the one you’ve written.  A book signing is not a chore or a hassle, it’s an opportunity.  Everyone you meet should receive a warm greeting; from the staff (who are your best friends, by the way) to every living breathing soul you meet.  Remember they are all potential readers.
  3. Stand. There are several benefits to this, the first of which is it makes No. 5 a lot easier (but we’ll get to that).  At most book signings you’ll be provided a table and a chair.  The temptation is to sit in the chair behind the table.  Resist, don’t do it.  Stand up and remember to smile.  I use the chair as a reward.  I only sit down when I’m signing a copy.  No signing, no sitting.  I know signings can last for hours and that can be daunting but I promise nothing feels better than when you settle into that chair and write your name in the copy of your book that they’re gonna take home.
  4. Have something to look at. You know, besides a standing, smiling author.  I have a 20×30 foam board of my book cover.  Everyone knows that most people actually do judge a book by its cover so that’s something you’ll want to display prominently.  I’ve seen banners, table hangers and even balloons.  Have something that will draw the eye and set you apart from the rest of the store.  You’ll have a stack of books but there are books everywhere, you need to stand out.  Once they pause or look your way employ numbers 2 and 5.
  5. Engage. Now that you are standing and smiling you need to engage.  Chances are the majority of people did not know you were going to be there and, even if they did, you might not be the exclusive reason they came to the store that day.  You need to engage them.  And unless they are impressed with your standing ability or you have an otherworldly talent for smiling that means you are going to have to say something that will get them to talk with you.  “Hello” is a good start but you are going to have to bring a bit more unless you just want to exchange greeting with strangers for two hours.  I like to ask them a question or comment on something they are carrying or looking at.  It can be anything really.  Although, I caution that you might want to be careful about walking up to a woman you don’t know leaning on the bookshelf and asking if she likes mystery.  You can get some funny looks that way, uh, I mean, that’s what I’ve heard.
  6. authorecardHave something to say. This is crucial.  You can knock 1-5 out of the park but it’s all for naught if you can’t briefly and succinctly describe your story/characters to them.  Thankfully I learned this lesson beforehand.  I was having lunch with a fellow author, Randy Lindsay, and he asked me to tell him about my book.  I fumbled and stammered and started rambling about backstories and setup and I watched as his eyes glazed over.  He then told me I needed to come up with a pitch.  Not a synopsis or a book report but a short pitch that would give readers a taste of what to expect and a reason to care.  It’s important that this isn’t overly complicated.  You know your story is good and hopefully they’ll find out but when they stop and ask “What’s your book about?” they are really asking “Why should I care?”
  7. Have something to give. A bookmark, a business card, a poem, an excerpt from the book, something you can hand out in a hurry.  Something they can take with them.  Ideally this will have information about yourself, your book, your website or how to find you on social media.  Remember this is an opportunity to meet the readers and for them to meet you.  The reality though is they might already have an armful of books or a shelf full at home.  They might not be the kind of person who decides on the spot and needs time to think it over.  Give them something to leave with so they’ll remember that presentable, standing, smiling, engaging author who had something to look at and something to say once they’ve returned home.
  8. Freebies. You might argue that this could be looped in with ‘Have something to give.’ well it could but I’m trying to get to ten, so sue me.  Freebies can be completely unrelated to you or your book.  Have candy or popcorn or maybe a raffle for a copy of a previous work.  Freebies are another good way to entice people to talk with you and a great way to engage with readers.  Don’t have any expectations that your freebies will lead to book sales, because often they will be gobbled up by children or a window shopper with a sweet tooth.  It’s just a nice gesture to passersby.
  9. Bring your own writing utensil. Along with a table and chair, most booksellers will offer you a pen to sign with.  While I appreciate the thought I always bring my own pen, one that I am comfortable writing with and trust to have plenty of ink, glide smoothly and not leak.  Do yourself a favor, spring for a couple of nice pens and always bring them with you.
  10. Be grateful. When someone stops and talks with you, thank them and wish them well even if they aren’t interested in your book.  Remember your best friends (the staff)?  Thank them for hosting you and taking care of you while you were there.  Send a note to the manager or owner after you leave and let them know how grateful you are for the opportunity to meet with them their readers.  You will never be sorry for being grateful and you’ll never know what it might mean to the person receiving gratitude.  Think about the last time anybody thanked you for anything.


So that’s it.  You do those ten things and you just had a successful book signing regardless of how many books you signed.  You’re welcome.

That was fun

After a truly beautiful evening with friends and family at The Land of Look Behind launch party I struck out into the cold world, armed with my poster and some business cards on a local book tour to promote my book to the masses.

I had no idea if any among the throngs of strangers would be interested in my book and feared they might even be annoyed by my presence.  To my great joy and surprise I started off with a bang and a sell out at Costco in Gilbert.

Costco table

Then I got really nervous at the thought of following that up.  I had to wait nearly a week for my next signing and in the days between I reset my own personal bar back to “Just not zero”.  If I could sign just one copy then I’d be happy.  Well the day came and I walked into my local B&N to find a table with my book and a picture of myself.  Kirsten, the wonderful CRM, set me up with a drink and wished me luck.


I stood at the front of the store and smiled at everyone who entered until at last someone thought my book sounded interesting and I avoided the shut out.  A few friends even dropped by for me to sign their pre-purchased copies.  Before the evening was through I had hit double digits and only five copies were left.


I signed the remaining copies, breathed a sigh of relief, and returned home to wait another long week till the next signing.

Back at Costco, this time in Mesa, I found a very busy and crowded super store filled with a hurried and bustling Friday afternoon crowd and began to doubt again if anyone’s interest would be piqued by my presence.  I was setup with a table near the books and left alone again.


“Just not zero” was quickly dispelled as several customers slowed in front of my sign and asked about my story.  Copy after copy vanished and before I knew it two hours had passed and I had to run to a Live Q&A with Jorie Loves a Story.

After a good night’s sleep I awoke to a new day and another signing at Barnes & Noble.  This time it was a marathon five hour schedule.


I arrived at the store and rode the escalator to the top where I was greeted by a table full of books and my own face smiling back at me.  With several signings under my belt I thought I knew what to expect and was confident I could exceed my low bar of “Just not zero” but tucked between cookbooks and health & fitness I wasn’t sure how many people would stop and talk to a novice novelist.


I was thrilled as person after person ascended the moving staircase and smiled warmly at the nervous author behind his mystery laden table.  Some good friends stopped by too which made the day all the more memorable.  Just a few hours in and I was down to my last copy.


Before Masha, another wonderful CRM, could even get downstairs to make the announcement that I had just one copy left I had sold out.

As I was tweeting the wonderful news I even had a good friend of mine appear at the top of the escalator who had come to get an autographed copy.


We slunk downstairs for a clandestine signing, where I kept a couple of extra copies in the trunk for just such an occasion.  So pretty much I’m calling it a sell out +1.  All and all it was a successful first leg of my book tour and believe it or not I’m looking forward to doing it again.  #JustNotZero

Oh what a night!

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect at my launch party this past Friday but I was blown away by your response and love.  I cannot thank my wife and my children enough for all their hard work in prepping for this amazing event.  My house smelled like popcorn and cookies for days.  Lola you are amazing, I truly could not have done any of this without you.

The party started promptly at 6pm as the guests began to arrive there was a steady stream of people all with copies of my book and then an unexpected guest arrived straight from the streets of Gotham.  BATMAN!


That’s right, Batman was at my launch party.  I’m not sure but I think the list of authors who can say that is pretty small.

And the hits just kept coming from there.  I was delighted to see dear friends and family, coworkers and literary colleagues as well as new friends interested in my work and a few who just wanted to use the bathroom.

It was such an incredible evening and I’m so thankful for all those who came and especially all those who helped with food, prep, cleanup and support.  Also thank you to Suzanne and company at the OneOhOne gallery for your help and hospitality.

I woke up Saturday morning exhausted but so happy.  Then I thought of my book signing later that day at Costco and immediately my nerves began to tingle like they hadn’t in years.  It felt like the pre-game jitters I used to get in high school before a big game.  I was sure I had exhausted all goodwill and interest from my friends and family and did not expect to see any of them come out to my signing and wasn’t sure anyone else would even care that I was there at all.  Thankfully I was wrong.  I arrived at Costco about a half hour early and the staff set up a table for me near the books, got me a bottle of water and wished me luck.

Costco table

I really had no idea what to do so I just stood by my sign and began greeting people.  Before too long a wonderful family (the Moore’s) stopped by the table and introduced themselves.  They knew my parents and their son is a school friend with my oldest boy.  They bought the first copy of the day and I was so relieved that I wouldn’t leave with a goose egg.


From that point on it was miraculous.  With a steady flow of shoppers passing by my table I was able to attract their attention with a beautiful book cover, popcorn and my charming personality (yes, in that order).  One by one the books were signed and sold.  I had to make two trips back to the book section to get another stack.  After just two and a half hours of conversing with people about a story I had work on for so long to bring to life, BOOM, I sold out.  It was an incredible feeling.


I feel so blessed for the reception my story has received thus far and cannot wait for my next signing.  When is that you say?  I’m glad you asked.   It’s this Friday February 19th at Barnes & Noble in Dana Park Village Square.  Spread the word.  Hope to see you there.

Book Tour

To err is human

In high school I was on the varsity football team. I don’t say I was a football player because that would imply something other than my unremarkably average athletic prowess. Matter of fact, my most memorable contribution to my teammate’s memories was from a hotly contested game about midway through my junior year. We were down by a touchdown and had the ball on our own twenty-seven yard line. It was third and three and we gave the ball to our tailback on a dive up the middle. He plowed ahead for a five yard gain as we converted the third down. The only problem was the yellow handkerchief that lay back on the white chalk just beyond left hash mark. The call was holding. Coach went ballistic and demanded to know who the perpetrator was. He yelled and waved his arms at the referees until at long last he got the attention he desired. In an effort to calm my coach and maintain some control of the game the ref stated with all certainty that the infraction had been committed by number 53. My coach’s adamant and passionate reply was, “53?! We don’t even have a 53!” I stood two feet behind my coach wearing a white and pristine jersey with the large green numbers five and three on it. Although I had yet to appear in the game, and most certainly did not hold anything other than a Gatorade bottle, I was not about to correct him at that moment and remind him that we did indeed have a 53. Instead I quietly faded back among my teammates and embraced the obscurity.


Now that I’ve written a book I hesitate to call myself an author for similar reasons. I am comfortable saying I’m on the team but an author implies a skill set that I have yet to fully realize. ‘Work in progress’ comes to mind when assessing my own writing prowess. Case in point, my wife is the first line editor on everything that I write. She has spent the better part of the past two years trying to teach me the difference between past and passed (did I get that right?). I’ll take a first pass on a chapter, post or short story and read over it two and even three times, cleaning it up and fixing mistakes and still she will find errors that I’ve missed. It’s maddening. I mean I have spell check, I have a college degree and have written professionally for nearly a decade and still I not only make grammatical and spelling errors but fail to spot them upon closer inspection. I recognize that editing is a different talent and skill set than writing and accept that it’s not something I can put on my resume but that doesn’t stop me from trying to improve my typographical horror shows.


As a blogger I took great comfort in leaning on my wife’s talent as an editor but also found it nearly unbearable each and every time she found a mistake. Working with the wonderful and talented editors employed by my publisher was the same. I was grateful they were there and happy for several other sets of eyes but each time they found an error I wanted to scream. After months and months of edits, sub-edits and rewrites the day arrived when The Land of Look Behind needed to go to the printers. I made one last frantic pass through the manuscript where I made forty one changes/additions/corrections and handed it off with a stamp of approval. Weeks passed (was that the correct passed? I still don’t know) and the advanced copies went out for review. In concert with that I posted the first chapter online to give readers a sample and the feedback was all good. Then I received an email from a concerned reviewer asking if she’d received a final copy because she had found multiple errors in the first chapter. I poured over my copy while I waited for her response on what errors she found. I finished the first ten pages and could not find anything amiss. She replied with what she found and sure enough there it was. I had used “waste” when I should have used “waist” and “of” when I meant to say “a”. I was mortified. I even went back and looked at my first (wife approved) draft and neither mistake was there. The err came in one of my attempts at cleaning up my story and none of us caught it. I couldn’t even find it on my own when given the targeted area. I felt like I was wearing that gleaming white jersey all over again and wished I could simply fade back into a throng of teammates and wait for time to expire. However, there is no hiding your shame in the world of publishing. So I had to come to terms with the fact that, despite my best efforts and the best efforts of several talented eyes, a less than perfect version of my story now exists. In the sleepless nights that followed I have researched this topic and tried to find ways to ease my mind. I’ve been told repeatedly by many friends and avid readers that these things happen and even found that I am in the company of many all-time great writers who were terrible spellers with atrocious grammar (Austen, Fitzgerald, Christie, and Hemingway to name a few). None of that dulled the pain or the reality of the tarnish that was now upon a story that I am immensely proud of. I considered just owning it and making it a game for the readers. “Hey kids, find all the errors in my book and you win a prize!” But that would take the focus off what I believe to be a truly entertaining and worthwhile story and I don’t want that. Instead I wrote this post.


To those of you who’ll read my book, I ask for your forgiveness for the flaws of a first time writer and echo the words of the great philosopher Joss Whedon, “Humans are odd. They think order and chaos are somehow opposites and try to control what won’t be. But there is grace in their failings. I think [we] miss that.”



The following is an excerpt from the journal of Lieutenant Benjamin Jarvis, a British soldier in the mid-seventeenth century. These events, and those that will follow, lead directly to The Land of Look Behind; available everywhere February 9, 2016.

I am met with deep disappointment as my desire to leave has, for the meantime, been extinguished. The ship carrying the prisoners left this morning. I have instead been assigned under the command of Colonel West. Our objection is to round up the remaining outliers, farmers mostly, and see that they leave the island at once.

As soon as we have completed this mission and when this tour is over I intend to put in for a transfer to the colonies in the north and be done with the sea and this treacherous island combat for good. We have lost many of our numbers to fever, disease and consumption. Places like these are not fit for civilized man. In my humble opinion they ought to be left to wild ferocious animals who infest the hills and valleys. To those with the desire to inhabit this unwelcoming wilderness I say more power to them.

Entry I – Enter the Caribbean
Entry II – Caguay Bay Landing
Entry III – Spanish Town Prison
Entry IV – Night Raiders

Sneak Peak – The Land of Look Behind

Sneak Peak: The Land of Look Behind

Three hundred years ago, a soldier named Jarvis journeyed deep into Jamaica and discovered a land of myth, treasure, and danger. Now Gideon, who served in Jamaica as a missionary, returns armed with Jarvis’s journal to follow the enigmatic clues with his best friend. But they quickly discover there are forces who would kill to keep the treasure secret. Travel into Jamaica’s treacherous cockpit country in this spine-tingling thriller.

Land of Look Behind back cover

Enjoy a sneak peak at The Land of Look Behind available for pre-order today at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and in stores February 9, 2016.

Writer’s Block

Anyone who has ever tried to create something new has at some time ran into a brick wall. You begin with the best of intentions and the highest hopes. You select the necessary tool in your preferred medium dedicate an indefinite amount of time to your project. Then it happens (or rather doesn’t happen). Nothing. No ideas. No inspiration. Just the taunting silence of a stalled mind. At that point you have a choice, you can retreat (Twitter, Netflix, YouTube, Facebook. Pick your distraction.) or start desperately chucking stuff against the wall until something sticks. This is my salute to all those who seek to create. Stay with it…or go get a snack.