Thanks, Mom.

Liz Lazarus Food Chart

Feeling Thankful.

In today’s world, having a shot of wheat grass juice or going to yoga class would be considered fairly mainstream. Now picture 40 years ago in small-town, rural Georgia – wheat grass was something you feed the cows.

Yet somehow my mother was ahead of her times—not only did we kids take our daily vitamins, but we grew our own wheat grass which my mom dutifully cut, juiced and served to us. It was bad enough to drink the stuff, but it got worse when I looked outside one day and saw the cat lounging in the wheatgrass tray!

My mother was a natural hygienist which meant she only ate raw fruits and vegetables – no meat, bread or dairy. Furthermore, she only ate the proper food combinations (see chart). Never would we mix a sweet fruit with an acidic one or a starch with a protein. As a child, it felt like torture. It was certainly no prize to be voted “worst lunches” at grade school; my lentil soup looked like mud, while everyone else was eating prepackaged pepperoni pizza.

It was certainly no prize to be voted “worst lunches” at grade school.

But, as an adult, I look back and realize all the knowledge I take for granted about healthy eating. When my friends have an ailment, I always have advice on the natural cure, not because I did any research but because I grew up with an expert. And though I was sure I’d revolt when I was old enough, I find myself a lot like my hippie mom—well, not natural hygiene, but a healthy eater nonetheless.

So, on this Thanksgiving, when we will be feasting on turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, cranberries and pumpkin pies, I raise a glass of wine (or wheat grass, take your pick) to my wonderful mother who taught me so much.  Here’s to you, mom, and thank you.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Liz

The Trailer

Selfie Mixed Bag Team and Liz during trailer shoot
Selfie with the Mixed Bag Team during the FOM trailer shoot

One of my Free Ladies, Mimi Schroeder, suggested that I film a trailer for FOM.  A trailer? Isn’t that just for movies?  But I liked the idea and she had a referral for me: Mixed Bag Media.  

Let me tell you, from the first scouting meeting to filming the actual trailer, it has been a blast. First, we had to figure out where to shoot—not an easy task to find a quiet place that can be a law firm, a therapist office, a bedroom and outdoors for 10 hours on a limited budget.

I finally opted to use my house, transforming my dining room into a lawyer’s office and the living room into the therapist’s office. Only downside now is that Richard, my fiancé, likes those bookshelves in the dining room so much that they have managed to stay there!

Next – the casting. Well, Thomas Barnette, my dear friend and the inspiration for the Thomas character, was the obvious choice for the lawyer and when he read the lines of the trailer I wrote, he just nailed them. For the Laura character, I needed a pretty brunette with blue eyes. With Thomas’ pageant connections (he coached Miss Georgia who is now Miss America), that wouldn’t be hard. Brittany Sharp, a former Miss Georgia, was almost too pretty for the role, but she is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside, and boy can she act!  

During the shoot, she’d ask me for notes but I couldn’t think of one thing she could do differently. Though the Mixed Bag Media guys warned me that the shoot would take about 10 hours (really!), I couldn’t see how. I mean this was four scenes that would be edited down to one minute. But as we wrapped the last scene at 2 am (sorry to my neighbors!), I had a much better appreciation of the film world. The lighting, the sound, the multiple takes, well, they take time. This team of pros  was so good that they created the appearance of daylight even though it was evening and created a fake moon outside my upstairs bedroom. Now that’s talented! Speaking of moons, I’m over the moon pleased with the output.

Have a look for yourself—Jon Milavec and his team did an awesome job, right?

Liz

Goodreads “Free of Malice” Book Giveaway

Free of Malice by Liz LazarusEnter to Win a Signed Copy of Free of Malice

Did you hear the news? I’m giving away 10 signed Free of Malice Advance Reader copies on Goodreads.

Enter today for a chance to win 1 of the 10 signed copies.

Giveaway dates
Nov 16 – Dec 16, 2015

This Goodreads giveaway has ended. Please check my profile–there might be another #giveaway in the works!

Liz

The Hunting Ground: Sexual Assault on Campus

The Hunting Ground CNNfilms

Fact: One in five women will be sexually assaulted in college

A multitude of national and individual school studies over the past fifteen years have come to the universal conclusion that approximately 20% of female students will be sexually assaulted during their time at college*.

I am one of those 20%.

It happened during my senior at college. I was living in a house just off campus when I was jarred awake by the sound of my bedroom door crashing open. Before I could comprehend what was happening, he was on top of me. I somehow found the strength to fight back and was fortunate that this would-be rapist eventually retreated. Though my voice was hoarse from screaming and my fingers bloody from his bites, I physically survived the attack. Emotionally, however, my sense of security was shaken. As a means to heal, I began writing about that night and the changes to my life.

During the years since college, this event and my writings became the basis and inspiration for my soon to be published book, Free of Malice. At one point, I mentioned to my brother-in-law that if I had owned a gun, I would have shot the guy as he fled. He countered that my actions might not have been deemed self-defense, which got me thinking about the criminal justice system. Though Free of Malice is a hypothetical legal story, the attack on the main character was drawn from my real life experience. Now that the book is in the advance reader stage, I look back and realize what a cathartic journey it has been. Even better, I’ve been told by other survivors that reading about my insecurities in the days after the attack made them feel more normal.

The Hunting Ground FactOn November 19 at 9:00pm EST  On November 22 at 8:00pm  CNN will air The Hunting Ground to a national audience. This groundbreaking documentary about sexual assault on American college campuses discusses the failure of universities to address the problem, and the rise of a new student movement on how to handle campus assaults along with a survivors’ network. The Hunting Ground is written and directed by Academy Award®-nominated, two-time Emmy®-winning film director Kirby Dick, and produced by Academy Award®-nominated, two-time Emmy®-winning filmmaker Amy Ziering. To date, the film has been shown globally at grassroots screenings and has sparked a national conversation. I hope you will join me in watching this broadcast and continuing the conversation to help further the work of survivors demanding awareness, accountability and real change.

After the screening there will be a Sexual Assault on Campus roundtable discussion on CNN featuring legal and counseling experts and filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering.

Lady Gaga by Sarah AckermanAs a side note, the events behind the film inspired Lady Gaga to record Til It Happens to You, an intensely moving song that calls for support and compassion for sexual assault survivors and is fast becoming an anthem for survivors around the world.

Help spread the word. Either share this post or share this link from The Hunting Ground Film.

*Source: Association of American Universities (2015), Washington Post-Kaiser Foundation Poll (2015), England (2015), Krebs (2007), Fisher (2000), Koss (1987), and many, many more.

Photo credits: The Hunting Ground Film, CNN, Lady Gaga | Sarah Ackerman.

Note:  Due to the news cycle, CNN will now air #TheHuntingGround on Sunday, November 22 at 8:00 pm ET.

Theme Song

Thomas Barnette CDOn my first day of college at Georgia Tech, I got lost trying to find the civil engineering building. Thomas Barnette also happened to be lost, so we teamed up and found our way together. We tease that we’ve been lost ever since!

Over those four years, Thomas and I became close friends. I laugh – what do a black, gay, Christian guy and me, a white, straight, Jewish girl have in common? But we are like family. Thomas was nerd at GT. Well, I was too, so I really didn’t see the creative side of him until much later. I remember sitting in his car one day and he played a CD for me. The singer was amazing, I mean knock your socks off amazing. I didn’t believe Thomas when he said that it was him singing. And just as I was driven to write my book, he was equally driven to launch his first album—so being the task master that I am, we did just that.

From the mixing to the mastering to the photo shoot, to even debating the song order, we brought his dream to life. I always had in the back of my mind that I would feature one of his songs in my book and when I heard Let Me Breathe, the first song on his CD, that was it. I love that FOM has a theme song and I love that it was Thomas who made that happen.

Give the song a listen and let me know what you think.
Liz

Sneak Peek

Free of Malice by Liz LazarusAre you interested in a sneak peek of Free of Malice? I’d be delighted to share Chapter One with you.

Simply click on the red sneak peek button on the Free of Malice homepage. Leave your name and email then download the first section of the book.

Take a peek and leave me a message in the comments section. What do you think?

Liz