Captivating: An Evening with Mary Kubica

Author Book Event – Atlanta, GA

I had the pleasure of hearing Mary Kubica speak at the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta, GA, as part of her Don’t You Cry book tour. I connected with her on Twitter, @MaryKubica, along with my friend and fellow author Chelsea Humphrey, @suspensethrill, so we were super excited to meet her in person.

I’ve heard many authors speak, reading excerpts from their book and sharing their story, but I have to say, Mary was one of the best! During her presentation, “captivating” was the word that kept coming to my mind.

Mary shared that she loved to write as a child, but never really considered a career as an author. Like most kids, she didn’t necessarily think about the person behind the book or the possibility of writing as a vocation. She became a high school history teacher until her first child was born. She then opted to stay home and raise her baby and began writing The Good Girl. As Mary described it, something about that book felt special, the characters spoke to her. As she spoke, I found myself nodding in agreement – I’ve often felt like I was watching a movie and taking dictation as I wrote Free of Malice.

It took her nearly five years and she wrote in secrecy – I can relate here as well. It was quite a leap to let my mother and fiancé read my book. Mary had no contacts in the publishing world (ditto!) so she looked up how to query agents and got a few bites. As she noted, it’s sometimes easier to share your work with strangers than friends.

Although there was some initial interest, she didn’t get any takers, so Mary shelved her book and went on with her life. Two years later, she received a letter from an agent who asked if her book was still available. This woman had read her book when it was first submitted and had since been promoted to a position to make a decision to move forward. This was in 2012 and Mary was offered a two-book deal, with the gentle nudge that it couldn’t take another five years for her next book, which was Pretty Baby.

When she embarked on her third novel, Mary described how the characters “fought her.” She felt like an outsider looking in and didn’t seem to find a natural flow. Given the success of her first two books, this one didn’t feel worthy of following in the same footsteps and was giving her a good deal of angst. Much to her relief, Mary’s editor didn’t want to move forward with the draft so she set it aside. With a blank canvas, she quickly started writing again and that became Don’t You Cry. With a deadline looming and limited time, Mary described how she would get up at 4:30 am to write and instead of editing along the way, she just kept moving forward to advance the story. From the rave reviews, it sounds like it was a smart plan. Hearing her story was such an inspiration—to learn that she had a two-year wait to be discovered and just experienced putting an entire book aside to quickly write a new one. Amazing!

There is a great deal of tenacity and heart in that petite body of hers and I’m so thrilled to have had the chance to learn more about her and her journey as an author! Thanks to the Margaret Mitchell House for making this event happen and to Mary for stopping by Atlanta on her book tour!


Free of Malice – The Omitted Chapter

Liz Lazarus Musing on writing fiction Free of Malice

Pondering the Omitted Chapter

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, writing a novel is not for the faint of heart. You pour your heart, soul, and creativity on to the page and hope your readers will fall in love your characters, flow with your storyline, note your realistic dialogue and gift for turning a tale. Sounds so poetic, right?

After finishing the galley for Free of Malice, my first editor suggested that I cut this chapter from the book, as it wasn’t “advancing the story”. While I agreed and nixed the chapter from the final version of the book–it resides on my computer as the omitted chapter. I peek at it periodically and wonder…did I do the right thing? Though it doesn’t necessarily advance the story, it does give more insight into the nature of the husband, Chris. As we approach the official launch of the book, I’m sharing it with you on my blog as a sneak peek. What do you think? Was it right to cut or I should have left it in?

OMITTED CHAPTER – Friday, July 7 before dinner, Houston’s parking lot

We took Chris’ charcoal Infiniti FX35 toward Buckhead and Houston’s restaurant. A crowd had already formed outside on the top deck, so Chris dropped me off at the door to put our name on the waiting list while he went in search of a parking spot in the packed lower lot below.

As I waited in line at the hostess stand, I watched Chris’ Infiniti zipping over to a spot where a yellow Volkswagen bug was about to leave. I could picture Chris tapping the steering wheel as he waited impatiently. Even his car looked restless; the blinker clicking, ready to snatch the coveted space. As the bug backed out toward Chris’ car, a black Miata darted into the space blatantly stealing the spot.

Chris’ horn blared. I could picture the gesture he must be making. A guy about 5’9″ in a black double-breasted suit got out of the driver’s side and a buxom bleached blonde in a tight red mini dress stepped out of the passenger side. The guy shouted something at Chris, flipped him off, and then he and his date walked up the stairs to the deck where I was still standing in line. Chris’ Infiniti squealed off and drove the full length of the parking lot to find another space on the far edge.

Oh, boy, he’s pissed.

From a distance, I watched my husband get out of his car and stomp toward the restaurant like a boy whose precious toys had been taken. Instead of coming straight up the stairs to me, he went out of his way to pass the Miata in the “stolen” parking space, stopped by the front of the car and then mounted the stairs.

I was now first in line at the hostess stand and waved to Chris so he would see me. He waved back and then noticed the black suit and red mini dress four people behind me. A huge grin came over his face.  

As Chris passed the couple, he deliberately bumped into the guy and said “Excuse me.” He flashed a cocky smile and then strutted up to me and kissed me on the cheek. The hostess gave us our pager, told us it would be a ninety minute wait and suggested we grab a drink. As we maneuvered toward the inside bar, Chris deliberately took my hand and led me back toward the black suit and red mini dress who were still waiting in line. He leaned over to the guy and said, “I couldn’t help but notice your front right tire looks a bit flat. You might want to check it.” A look of rage came over the guy’s face as we walked off.

“Oh no, what did you do?” I asked in a hushed voice. “Never mind. I don’t want to know. Just tell me that guy isn’t going to pour his drink on us or anything.”

“I think we’re safe, but he did steal my parking spot.”

“I saw. You didn’t let the air out of his tire, did you?”

“No, besides, carrying that tub of lard in the passenger seat will probably deflate the tire on its own.”

“Chris!” I admonished.

“Let’s forget it. You know, I will say this. There is justice in the world. Look at them, they cut me off, yet they‘re the ones still waiting in line.”

Chris’ comment resonated with me. If there was justice in the world, then I wondered what would happen to him?


What do you think? Was it right to cut the chapter or I should have left it in? 


Yours in thrill-seeking.

P.S.: Don’t you love this image? The New York Public Library has opened their digital collection to the public.

Image Credit: Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle, The New York Public Library. (1854). The Honble Mrs Norton.[frontispiece] Retrieved from

Burgers Adventures in Atlanta: Favorite Burger Places

Burgers in Atlanta

Burger Babes: Sampling Burgers in Atlanta

Tasting a Holeman & Finch burger had been on my “Atlanta to do list” for a while. What’s the problem you may ask? Well, the infamous H&F burger was only made after 10 pm and only two dozen were available to those customers willing to show up early and wait. When I heard that Holeman & Finch chef and owner, Linton Hopkins, was making the burger an official menu item, my to-do list got a little bit easier. Cue my friend Donna who loves burgers and decided to join me. Cue a few other friends who were interested and Burger Babes was born.

Atlanta Burger BabesDon’t you love it when your friends join in your reindeer games?! There are 10 of us gals that meet monthly and try new (or not so new) burger joints in Atlanta — about 8 of us can make any given burger adventure — the more the merrier. So far, we’ve been to H&F, Chops (you can order off the menu), Haven (Tuesday night $18 burger special), Flip Burger, H. Harper Station and our most recent, pictured above, Bocado.

I’m always entertained by the many conversations around the table. As we catch-up on family, work and the trials and tribulations of the awful Atlanta traffic. We also pontificate on what makes a great burger. Juicy and messy vs the ability to taste delicious without condiments (who wants a burger without condiments??!!). And of course, what goes better with a burger than a glass of red wine.   

Personally, the Houston’s hickory burger remains my favorite so I featured it in my book, Free of Malice. This burger is crowned with three slices of Canadian bacon and chopped cheddar and onion, then a dollop of their hickory sauce and shoestring fries on the side. So, delicious!

Our 2016 burger list includes visits to: The Optimist, Miller Union, The Albert, One Eared Stag, The General Muir, Wrecking Bar Brewpub, OK Café, The Earl, Grindhouse Killer Burgers, to name a few.

Any other suggestions?

What’s your favorite burger joint?

Leave a message here or on my Facebook author page.

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.