An Easter Story

Liz Lazarus with copy of Free of Malice

Making goods things happen

I recently received the following message:

“Hello! I have an unusual request. My daughter, Shelli, was at the event this past weekend and met you! She so enjoyed meeting you and getting the signed copy of your book. After she returned home, she was reading it in bed and laid it down to shower. When she returned, her mini Chihuahua Bessie had chewed part of the cover and the corners of the book off. She is very outdone, to say the least. She was so touched by your story and so very proud that signed book. I am interested in purchasing her another (copy of your book) for Easter and wanted to see if you could sign it as well. Let me know if you can help. Thanks for being an example for empowering women!!!”

So, I offered to send a complimentary replacement copy. I mean, what a great mom to see her daughter upset and to find a way to make it right. I decided to also send the music CD that goes with the book as a bonus to show that when something bad happens, something so much better can be a result. I’ve felt that first hand – writing about my attack in college has led to a published book and a speaking tour that is thankfully touching a lot of women.

Shelli, I hope you enjoy the replacement copy of Free of Malice and the music —  I’m sure you already know it, but what a terrific mom you have!

All my best,



Free of Malice National Book Tour 2017 – Liz Lazarus

Liz Lazarus Free of Malice National Book Tour Spring 2017

We’re taking Free of Malice on the road for a series of book events. I’ve teamed up with local chapters of The Well Armed Woman for events in the following cities. Please contact the chapter for event details.  Join me in a city near you!

Date City
June 27 Orlando, FL
July 7 Kansas City, MO
July 8 Springfield, MO
July 21 Orange County, NY
July 22 Long Island, NY
August 5 Atlanta, GA (GA Carry)
September 9 Sacramento, CA
September 11 Reno, NV
October 16 Central Maryland
October 17 Lancaster, PA
Thank you for hosting me:
March 12 Florence, MS
March 31 Raymond, MS
April 1 Naples, FL
April 4 Saint Peters, MO
April 5 Evansville, IN
April 6 Haubstadt, IN
April 21 South Jordan, UT
May 8 La Porte, IN
May 9 Fort Wayne, IN
May 10 Anderson, IN
May 17 Cleveland, OH
May 18 Columbus, OH
May 19 Cincinnati, OH
May 20 Johns Creek, GA
June 8 Des Moines, IA
June 10 Brooklyn, MI
June 21 Canton, GA

If you are interested in hosting a Free of Malice book event or signing, please contact me at liz [at] lizlazarus [dot] com – more event details coming soon.

See you soon,



Playing Favorites.

My favorite character in “Free of Malice”

I was recently asked who was my favorite character in my book, “Free of Malice.” Some folks thought it would be Laura, the protagonist, but it’s actually the criminal defense attorney, Thomas Bennett.

Do we love him or hate him? Do we trust him or suspect him? And why is he doing pro-bono work for a journalist – what’s in it for him? At one point, Laura says, “he sounded sincere, but there was this little nagging voice inside of me—aren’t most psychopaths also charmers?”

My editor, Jan Risher, may have said it best, “This book is not a traditional whodunit. The author pulled off a tough balance of having me both suspect yet somehow root for the lead male character.”

My best friend from college, Thomas Barnette (not a psychopath, by the way), was my inspiration for the lawyer character. He and I met our first day at Georgia Tech – we were both lost trying to find the civil engineering building – and we’ve been friends ever since. We make an odd pair, I’ll admit – he’s a black, gay, Christian guy and I’m a white, straight, Jewish gal, but we have that kind of connection where I’ll be thinking about him and the phone will ring.

We were so focused on our studies at school that I didn’t really learn about Thomas’ creative side until after we graduated. One day he popped a CD into the player in his car and asked what I thought. The singer reminded me of a cross between Lionel Richie and Seal and I really liked it. When Thomas said it was him, I didn’t believe him at first. He actually had to start singing in the car to convince me.

From that point on we talked a lot about him cutting a full CD. He already had quite a few of the songs, many of which he wrote, but there were also some covers. So, one day I pulled out my computer and started tallying up the work ahead of him to finish the CD – the mixing, mastering, photos, production, etc. and came to a number. The next day, I kid you not, I received a check in the mail for some deferred salary for nearly the exact number. I took it as a divine sign and we were off to producing his debut album.

An author’s viewpoint

In my book, the Thomas character takes Laura to hear him sing at Eddie’s Attic in Atlanta. At that point, you can pull out your QR reader or go to my website,, and hear the first song from his album, “Let Me Breathe.” I thought it would be an added treat for the reader to get to hear Thomas’ voice, plus he sang at my launch party and we are doing a few joint events around town to promote the book and the CD.

Who knew when our paths crossed that first day of college that we would have such an enduring friendship and that we’d find a way to blend our creativity and support one another. So, my favorite character – was based on one of my favorite people.

Building Communities with Little Free Library

During a walk in my neighborhood, I noticed that one of my neighbors had installed a Little Free Library in their yard. This delightful mini-library-on-a-post is a welcome addition to our block. I stepped forward and opened the clear Plexiglas door to take a closer peek at the books inside. There was a range of titles from children’s books to contemporary fiction and some thrillers! As I stood here admiring the collection a woman approached me and introduced herself as the steward of this Little Free Library.

She shared how thrilled she was to a part of this sharing movement. The Little Free Library is based on the honor system encouraging anyone to take a book, leave a book. Not only does the Little Free Library encourage people to share their favorite stories, it also aims to build a sense of community and spark conversation.

Background on Little Free Libraries

When I returned home I did a little research on the history of Little Free Libraries. Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin created little Free Libraries in 2009. They are built on a model of a one-room schoolhouse. It was a tribute to his mother; she was a teacher who loved to read. He filled the little library with books and put it on a post in his front yard. His neighbors and friends loved it. He built several more and gave them away. Each one had a sign that said FREE BOOKS. Rick Brooks of UW-Madison saw Bol’s do-it-yourself project while they were discussing potential social enterprises. Together, the two saw opportunities to achieve a variety of goals for the common good.

Their mission is: To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity, and wisdom across generations.

A Little Free Library is a “take a book, return a book” free book exchange. They come in many shapes and sizes, but the most common version is a small wooden box of As of June of 2016, there are 40,000 Libraries worldwide. With Little Free Library book exchanges in all 50 U.S. states and over 70 countries around the world. Approximately 60 percent of Little Free Library book exchanges have been built by stewards and 40 percent built and sold by Little Free Library (see their website for details).

Take a book. Return a book.

After reading the history, I was so taken by the concept of sharing and promoting literacy and reading that I used the online map feature at to find other libraries near my home in Atlanta and other locations around town. During the next several weeks, I drove around dropping off copies of my novel Free of Malice with a note inviting Little Free Library stewards to read my book and share their impressions on social media using the hashtags #FreeofMalice #LittleFreeLibrary. To honor the sharing concept, I’m donating a portion of my online book sales to the Little Free Library organization and local libraries. My story was recently featured in Creative Loafing Atlanta.

Connecting neighbors. Sharing good reads.

To take the concept of sharing to the next level, I’m inviting my social media network to participate as well. I’m giving away 10 copies of Free of Malice over the July 4th holiday to Little Free Library stewards and readers who connect with me over social media and who want to continue the cycle of sharing and caring. Tweet or email me at liz [at] lizlazarus [dot] com to indicate that you are interested in reading #FreeofMalice, and if inclined will share a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Goodreads and most importantly that you will share the book with your local Little Free Library.

You can connect with me on Facebook at AuthorLizLazarus and Twitter and Instagram using @liz_lazarus. I’m also on Goodreads at Liz Lazarus to let me know that you are interested (or that you love Little Free Libraries). Use Hashtag #LFL and #freeofmalice.

Thank you for sharing, building community and sparking conversations.

Not So Vicarious Adventure: Free of Malice Launch Party

This is a special guest post from Rebecca Alora Walker, Book Blogger and Owner of Vicariously! She attended the Free of Malice launch party and is sharing her experience.

Prologue & Road Trip

When I received the request to review Liz’s book, I was invited to Free of Malice’s launch party because Joel and I live about two hours from the location where it was being held. We love road trips, dressing up, and spending time with each other so we were down to attend. After I’d read the book it became a MUST that we attend to support this wonderful book.

We spent the morning getting ready and made it out the door by 3:30 pm. Joel drove (as he usually does on road trips as I have some truly disastrous luck with getting in some crazy accidents) and we listened to Hamilton, singing and talking on our way.

Arrival At The Red Martini Bar & Book Launch

Free of Malice launch partyWe got there a bit late due to Atlanta traffic (and some rather hilarious situations) and quickly entered the Red Martini Bar on the red carpet. Joel and I were in awe. This bar looks like it could have been in True Blood. With opulent red walls, black accents, and dim lighting, it should have been gaudy. However, the owners knew what they were doing and the decor resulted in a classy, laid back atmosphere. It suited the launch party perfectly and everyone seemed quite happy to be there.

In Liz’s book, Free of Malice, she mentions several real life locations in Atlanta. Most of them were at the launch party. Joseph Drouhin wine was flowing free and we had the opportunity to try the bar’s signature drink, a red martini. We had amazing barbecue sandwiches from Fat Matt’s Rib Shack, tuna tartare on homemade cracker’s from Davio’s, and guests were given some truly beautiful cookies made by Allison Trueblood (Joel and I laughed at the irony) of Glorious Events.image2 (15)

Once things got going, Liz got up to give a beautiful speech where she thanked everyone who helped her with Free of Malice. She was careful to name everyone who’d made it happen professionally and personally. Her gratitude was palpable and her speech engaging, telling anecdotes and stories, each one giving a glimpse of the many people in her life.

I suffer from an anxiety disorder and Joel is the extrovert of our duo. I was very nervous to talk to the many people and kind of kept to myself at first. This didn’t last for long, however. Liz’s friends approached us, starting conversations and making us feel comfortable. Every person we talked to told us stories about Liz’s kindness, generosity, and how they knew her. Since Joel and I didn’t know Liz personally, the fact that her friends approached us helped us ease into the swing of things.

image3 (14)In the book itself and on Liz’s website, we were introduced to Thomas Barnett. He sings “Let Me Breathe” — the song mentioned in the book. I had the opportunity to speak to him and he was so kind. After Liz gave her speech, we got to listen to Thomas perform live and he did not disappoint. It was a lovely surprise and meeting the inspiration for the character Thomas Bennett was a bit of a fangirl moment for me because Thomas is one of my favorite parts of Free of Malice.

Meeting the Author

Liz Lazarus with book blogger Rebecca Alora Walker and Joel.Liz herself was absolutely stunning and humble. We had several chances to talk and interact with her. She’s a fantastic lady and her candidness further proved everything they’d said to praise her was undeniably true. A lot of people can be shy at signings or clique off with certain people, making it a bit intimidating to approach them. This was not the case with Liz. She made time for every person there and those that asked it of her. She was constantly engaged in conversation, signing books, and thanking people.

The combination of her friends, the people who helped with her book, the restaurants who catered, and Liz herself, resulted in an intimate and engaging event. I’d be very surprised if anyone left the launch feeling left out or without having a wonderful time.

Joel and I had to go and make the drive back home around 9 pm. Though the event was said to end at 9 on the invitation, when we left, Liz was still making her rounds and signing books. She thanked us for coming and we were on our way.

Three hours later we were both home and exhausted from the night and getting lost in Atlanta for a good bit. It was worth it though. We had an amazing experience.

Joel and I would like to thank Liz and her team for inviting us to the launch, as well as Liz and her friends for ensuring we had a great time and engaging with us. Be sure to check out my review of Free of Malice and get a copy.

I’ll share some of my favorite memories from the Free of Malice launch party later in the week. Until then, I hope you are reading something that captivates your imagination.  Liz

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