Monday, July 25, 2016

VBT + #Giveaway: Free of Malice by Liz Lazarus @liz_lazarus @GoddessFish

Free of Malice
by Liz Lazarus
GENRE: Suspense / Thriller


Laura Holland awakes in the middle of the night to see a stranger standing in her bedroom doorway. She manages to defend herself from the would-be rapist, though he threatens to return as he retreats. Traumatized with recurring nightmares, Laura seeks therapy and is exposed to a unique treatment called EMDR. She also seeks self-protection— buying a gun against the wishes of her husband. When Laura learns she could have gone to prison had she shot her fleeing assailant, she decides to write a hypothetical legal case using the details of that night. She enlists the help of criminal defense lawyer, Thomas Bennett, who proves to be well versed in the justice system but has an uncanny resemblance to her attacker. As the two work together to develop the story, Laura's discomfort escalates particularly when Thomas seems to know more about that night than he should. Reality and fiction soon merge as her real life drama begins to mirror the fiction she's trying to create.


“I told you I don’t want to see a psychiatrist,” I pushed back. “I just need more time. I’ll bounce back. You know I almost came in the house on my own today. Besides, if I see a psychiatrist, on every job application I complete in the future, I’ll have to check the ‘Yes’ box when they ask if I’ve had mental health treatment.”

“Jesus. No you don’t. You’re too innocent sometimes.”

He gently tapped me on the nose.

“You can check the box ‘No.’ Besides, if that’s the only thing stopping you, I think you should give it a try. Her name is Barbara Cole. I’ll take you to Houston’s afterward,” he added.

I ignored the bribe. “But what can she do that you can’t? All she’ll do is listen and you do that for me already. Psychiatrists are for people who don’t have friends or husbands to talk to.”

Chris shook his head.

“Please? Do it for me.”

The tone in his voice was different—more helpless than normal. Chris had been so understanding, so comforting this past month, especially considering I had been waking him every night. How could I refuse his request?

I sighed. “Okay,” I relented. “I’ll go.”

“One visit. That’s all I’m asking. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to go back. She’s a psychologist, by the way, not a psychiatrist. She does therapy, not drugs.”

He glanced at the clock. It was 3:30 a.m.

Chris grabbed Konk, my stuffed animal gorilla that I won at the state fair by outshooting him at the basketball game. He had sworn the scum running the game couldn’t take his eyes off my butt and let me win.

“Here’s Konk,” he said. “I’m going to finish my presentation since I’m up. I’ll just be in the office. Want the door open?”

“Yes,” I said as I wrapped my arms tightly around Konk.

“Hey, we’ll celebrate your first therapy visit and my signed contract, I hope, this evening.”

“You mean you hope my first visit?” I said with a playful smile.

He gave me a look—he was in no mood for jokes.

“Fine. Fine. I’ll go,” I assured.

“If you’re asleep when I leave, just come by my office after the appointment and we’ll head to dinner. Try to get some sleep. I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

Author Interview:

What inspired you to write Free of Malice?

Like the main character, I was attacked by a stranger in my home in the middle of the night. In order to heal, I started to write about how I was feeling and what had changed in my life. At the time, I didn't know about EMDR therapy to heal from trauma, so used writing as a catharsis. Also like the main character, all I had for self-defense was a can of Mace. After the attack, I said to my brother-in-law, if I had owned a gun, I would have shot the guy as he left. My brother-in-law informed me that I was fortunate that I didn't - as the shooting might not have been a clear case of self-defense. That idea sparked my interest in learning about the criminal justice system and inspired me to write the hypothetical case portrayed in the book. The ending, which I won't spoil, was prompted by a question from my mother. Once you've finished the book, you can write to me at and I'll tell you more about that.

When or at what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?

My SAT scores for verbal and math were identical, and I debated majoring in journalism or engineering. I was the editor of my high school newspaper and attended the GA Governor’s Honors program in Communications, so I’ve always had a passion for writing. In the end, elected to pursue the more technical career, getting my bachelors in Industrial Engineering and later an MBA. I spent most of my career at General Electric and developed so many skills, several of which have helped me market “Free of Malice.” When I was recently asked when I began to feel like an author, I’d have to say the day I received my paperback Advance Reader Copy in the mail. That was a satisfying moment!

What is the earliest age you remember reading your first book?

When I was 4, my sister was having her birthday party and one of the mother’s brought me a gift, a book called “Amy’s Long Night.” Looking back, that was such a kind gesture to give the “other kid” a present. It’s the first book I remember reading over and over and just adored it. The story is about a little girl who explores the wonderment of staying up all night. Maybe that explains why I’m a night owl!


What genre of books do you enjoy reading?

I alternate between reading suspense/thrillers in my genre and autobiographies. Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson, Don't You Cry by Mary Kubica, I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh, Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon are some recent reads.  For autobiographies - The Rainbow Comes And Goes by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt, Where the Light Gets In by Kim Williams Paisley, What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey. I appreciate the raw honesty of the autobiographies and always seem to take away a few lessons. For the thrillers, I consider them an education on the elements of a good novel for the advancement of my own writing. 

What is your favorite book?

I’m biased but my grandfather, James B. Garfield, wrote “Follow My Leader” about a little boy who is blinded by a fire cracker. The boy, named Jimmy Carter (long before President Carter), learns Braille and is given a seeing-eye-dog, Leader. I first read the book in third grade with my class and was so proud to have an author in my family! We still receive fan mail to this day.

If you could travel back in time here on earth to any place or time. Where would you go and why?

I would go back to my freshman year of college – the why would take a while to explain.  

When writing a book do you find that writing comes easy for you or is it a difficult task?

Free of Malice takes place over 6 months, from June to December. As strange as it may sound, I didn’t write the book in order. Like most authors, I outlined the story so I had the sequence of events laid out. Then, because I’m a fairly visual person, I used a huge wall calendar to outline the six months in which the book took place, listing all the events that occurred which helped me arrange the story and also allowed me to circle back to clues I had dropped in earlier chapters. And though I don’t have a law degree and am not a trained therapist, I had the great fortune to consult with a criminal defense lawyer (Alison Frutoz) and a certified EMDR therapist (Karen McCarty) to be sure those portions of the book were accurate.  Spoiler alert – don’t read the calendar too closely—might give away some clues!

Do you have any little fuzzy friends? Like a dog or a cat? Or any pets?

My cat, Buckwheat, is my one of my favorite things in life. We adopted him from the animal shelter when he was 2. My fiancĂ© wanted a kitten but I wanted an older cat, one not likely to be chosen. When they took him from the cage and handed him to me, he immediately stopped whining and rested his head on my arm. “This is my cat,” was all I could think. Angelina Jolie says that your children find you. Well, my pet found me and he is the sweetest, most entertaining animal I’ve ever met. Even dog-lovers take a shining to him. His full name is Prince Buckwheat Toro Lazarus Brakewood. Prince because he rules the house and Toro because he rams his head into doors to open them.

What is your "to die for", favorite food/foods to eat?


Do you have any advice for anyone that would like to be an author?

I adored Jay Leno’s monologue (still miss him, though I marvel at Jimmy Fallon’s talent), but David Letterman had the trademark on the Top 10. So as a tribute to both late night icons, here are my Top 10 tips for writing a book.

·        Pay for and create your own ISBN # - it lets you control distribution.
·        Have a few, honest friends give you early feedback—it’s hard to judge your own work. You know the old saying, “it’s hard to tell if your baby’s ugly.”
·        Print on demand – it allows you make early tweaks and there are always more typos that you think are humanly possible! CreateSpace is a great option.
·        Don’t go to layout until you are sure (I mean absolutely, positively, 100%, no more changes sure).
·        Find the right PR firm – best way to test them is to see who can write a good media kit and how many current media contacts they have.
·        Learn the world of social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest.
·        Do spend the money on a proper Website – it’s your home base and your identity.
·        Have other projects or work that balance your focus on your book and allow for a fresh perspective.
·        Learn to breathe. Take deep breaths and welcome feedback in every form.
·        And most importantly, remember that some of the most famous authors have a pile of early rejection letters – don’t let it discourage you!

Thanks for hosing me and I hope to hear from you!



Liz Lazarus is the author of Free of Malice, a psychological, legal thriller loosely based on her personal experience and a series of ‘what if’ questions that trace the after effects of a foiled attack; a woman healing, and grappling with the legal system to acknowledge her right to self-defense.

She was born in Valdosta, Georgia, graduated from Georgia Tech with an engineering degree and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern with an MBA in their executive master’s program. She spent most of her career at General Electric’s Healthcare division and is currently a Managing Director at a strategic planning consulting firm in addition to being an author.

Free of Malice is her debut novel, set in Atlanta, and supplemented by extensive research with both therapists and criminal defense attorneys. She currently lives in Brookhaven, GA, with her fiancé, Richard, and their very spoiled orange tabby, Buckwheat.

Buy Links:


$25 Amazon or B/N GC

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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

CJ said...

Awesome excerpt! I am enjoying this book tour immensely! I wish you continued good luck with it! :D

Mary Preston said...

A great interview.

Nikolina said...

Happy to be a part of this tour, thank you for sharing!

Unknown said...

I had totally forgotten about that book, "Amy's Long Night" until I was asked about the first book I remembered reading. I still have it! Thanks to everyone who has been following the tour! Liz