Thursday, March 5, 2015

"Mazie Baby" by Julie Frayn

ON SALE 5-11 March
Mazie Baby
by Julie Frayn

Mazie Baby is ON SALE for $1.99 (save $1.00) from 5 to 11 March. Author Julie Frayn stops by today for an interview and to share an excerpt from the book. You can also enter our exclusive giveaway for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

When Mazie Reynolds was a young girl, she believed monsters lived under her bed. Now a grown, married woman, she discovers one sleeps in her bed.
Mazie schemes to save herself and her daughter. Her plan will work, if she can out-maneuver the monster who is a master of manipulation and control. She’s got one thing going for her, the one thing she truly owns. Mazie has moxie to the bone. But will it be enough?
Warnings - language, violence, sex.

A key scratched in the front door lock. Her heart leapt into her throat and she held her breath.
Mazie exhaled and gripped her mug of cold coffee with both hands. “In the kitchen, bug.”
That evening, Ariel cleared the dinner dishes while Mazie put leftovers in the fridge. They chatted about school, about Polly, about anything except the hard realities of the past week, the evidence of it written all over Mazie’s bruised and cut face.
Mazie listened to Ariel make light of her day, her forced cheerfulness a poor imitation of a normal young girl. The false breeziness of the evening was cut short by a knock at the back door.
There he was again, ignoring police orders. Showing up unannounced. Uninvited.
“Mom, it’s Daddy.” Ariel stepped behind Mazie. “What do we do?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Should I call the police?”
“Not this time. It would only make him angry.”
She opened the door. “Why are you here?”
“I brought some things for you and Ariel.” He looked over Mazie’s head into the kitchen. “Hi, pumpkin. Daddy brought you something.”
Ariel froze in place, glanced at her mother then averted her eyes and stared at her feet.
A guilty ache jabbed Mazie’s heart. Ariel was mirroring her own actions, had probably seen Mazie in that same stance so many times. It was her coping mechanism. But she had no idea that Ariel was watching. Maybe it was ingrained in all women, that apologetic, guilty response. Even though they’d done nothing to deserve it. Hell, maybe it was genetic.
He arranged his shoes in their proper place, slipped his socked feet up the steps and dropped a grocery bag on the counter. The familiar clink of glass told her it was either beer or bourbon. Or both. Couldn’t he go one night without drinking? She had blamed much of the early abuse on the alcohol. It changed his personality, made him angry. Poisoned his spirit. But as the years wore on, he didn’t need booze to be abusive. Or maybe the alcohol was never cleansed from his system. He never gave it a chance to be.
He reached into the bag. There was a second of absolute stillness, anticipation for what he would pull out. Like a rapt audience waiting for the magician to pull a rabbit out of a hat, but then, ta-da! It’s a dove.
Mazie watched for the neck of the Jack Daniels bottle.
Ta-da! It was a small box. The kind that jewellery comes in.
He turned to Ariel and held it out to her. “Here, pumpkin. For you.”
Ariel shot a fleeting look at her mother, then raised her eyes to her father’s face but didn’t move, didn’t lift her head.
“It’s okay. Take it.” He didn’t take a step forward. It was as far as he ever went with conciliation. Hold out the carrot, have the abused make the first move.
Ariel inched around the table and held out her hand. He dropped it into her open palm. She opened it, and a subtle smile crossed her face.
Cullen plucked a delicate chain from the box, a cursive capital A dangling from it. “It’s gold. Big girl jewellery.” He undid the clasp and placed it around her neck. She pulled her hair out of the way while he did it up.
Ariel held the A in her fingers and ran her thumb over it. She grinned.
He stroked her hair. “Will you take care of it?”
She nodded. “Yes, Daddy.” Ariel stepped forward and went to put her arms around his body, but only got her hands to his waist. She touched her head to his chest. Not the usual Ariel bear-hug. “Thank you,” she mumbled.
He hugged her hard and kissed the top of her head. His eyes glistened. But with what? Love? Relief? Or satisfaction that he’d perpetrated the same ruse with his daughter as he had with Mazie time and time again.
Did I hurt you? Here’s a piece of jewellery. Won’t happen again. Did I do it again? Here’s a bunch of flowers. Won’t happen again. It was your fault. You made me hit you, made me choke you, made me break your ribs. Will it happen again? Can’t make any promises.
It’s a lie! A trick! Don’t believe it Ariel! Mazie’s screams never left her mouth. How could she ruin her daughter’s moment? No matter how brief this respite from their normal lives would be?

Praise for the Book
"I can't remember the last time I began to read a book and could not put it down until I finished it, that is how gripping and powerful I found this book." ~ Raemur2000
"The authentic feeling of Mazie Baby cannot be faulted. Readers closing the novel will have the sense of having read something truly real and important for those of us lucky enough to have not been in this situation to hear. Mazie Baby is an important and brave story and Julie Frayn is an exceptionally talented writer." ~ Rabid Readers Reviews
"The plot was a little too believable, unfortunately … More than 4 million women a year suffer from physical assault, and or rape by their partners, (and that is what is reported, never mind the women who keep quiet like Mazie). Author Julie Frayn captured the fear of domestic violence victims, and turned it into a well-told, poignant story. Mazie Baby is nothing short of amazing, and I am giving it 5 stars." ~ April Wood
"This is a book I will read again. Not just because of its excellent writing and strong plot, but to help remind me that the Mazie's in this world need more attention, greater representation within the judicial system and protection from the Cullens in this world." ~ D & S
"I really appreciated the fullness of the characters – not making the husband into a caricature of complete evil, but a man with flaws, which helped me understand him a little more. Not excuse, but understand. Beautiful, powerful writing. Very well done." ~ Laurie Boris
"Just finished reading this story and I'm still holding my breath. I could have been Mazie and this very well could have been my story. The characters were so real and the action so authentic my head is still reeling from its emotional impact. Excellent, and thank you to the author for pulling back the curtain on spousal abuse." ~ Veralisa Fresh

Interview With the Author
Hi, Julie Frayn, thanks for joining me today to discuss your book, Mazie Baby.
Thanks so much for having me!
For what age group do you recommend your book?
Mazie Baby is about surviving domestic violence. It is chock-full of adult themes and adult language, so adult for sure. Perhaps older teens.
What sparked the idea for this book?
The book stemmed from a picture that flashed through me head of one pivotal scene (it involves a bed and scissors). The story was born from that.
So which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel?
Neither really. Each book is different. Some start with a character, some with a title. This one, the flash of a scene.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
When the husband turns his abusive eye toward their daughter. I struggled with that, and with other scenes of the abuse. But I wanted realism. So sometimes I had to walk away from my screen and take a breath.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
I hadn’t intended to write what is turning into an abused woman’s manifesto of sorts, but it is being well-received by people who’ve experienced abuse in the real-world. This is the anti-Fifty Shades. No romanticized rape, no violence pawned off as love. I hope readers have an emotional reaction that sticks with them long after they’ve turned the final page.
How long did it take you to write this book?
Mazie Baby came to life during Camp NaNoWriMo in 2013 and was published a year later in May 2014. That process included two rounds of professional edits with my wonderful editor, Scott Morgan of Write-hook.
What is your writing routine?
I don’t have much of routine, just write when I can find the time. It used to be from 5-7 every morning plus some time on weekends, but with each subsequent book, my mornings are spent on social media, doing promotions (and interviews!). I have a full time job so I try to use my lunch hour when I can, and then sneak some writing in when the kids are otherwise occupied. Since they are adults now, that’s getting easier.
How did you get your book published?
I self-publish all of my work. I’ve tried to get the attention of an agent, but really, that’s near impossible with so many writers vying for so few available spots.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Make sure your work is the best it can be. Get it professionally edited, have a good cover made. Be serious about the end-product, and be ready to spend a lot of time promoting. For most of us, writing isn’t a hobby or something we do for fun, it’s a compulsion. An obsession. A requirement. It’s breathing. So make it worthwhile.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I am the CFO at a local charity/attraction (hello, Heritage Park!). On my off hours, I love spending time with my baby girl and baby boy (I should now call them baby woman and baby man) and my family. I read, and I love TV. Mostly crime shows, real or fiction.
What does your family think of your writing?
Every one of them is proud of what I’ve accomplished and support me fully. Baby boy won’t actually read any of it (ew, Mom wrote a sex scene). But that’s okay.
Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I was the ultimate nerd – hated sports (still do), good grades (won academic achievement awards), scrawny and flat-chested. Let’s just say I was a great target… But I had a wonderful family and a lovely neighbourhood to play in. Loved it so much I moved back here after my divorce and live a block from my sister and two doors down from my mother. Which is handy, since she has Alzheimer’s and needs our support.
Did you like reading when you were a child?
Uh, yeah! I was voracious. At 13 I discovered Agatha Christie. I read everything she wrote (some 85 or 90 books) before I turned 18. My idea of a fun weekend was locking myself in my room with a bag of chips and three books. If my mother is to be believed (and these days, that’s a stretch), I was reading to her when I was three. I’m thinking, probably not.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
It was in junior high school. But I didn’t do anything with it until after my children were born. I chose accounting because it seemed a safe bet and that career has been very good to me. In retrospect, I should have taken a chance on writing. But no sense in looking back. I’m doing it now!
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
Definitely. I wasn’t in any cliques and spent a lot of time watching people (not in a creepy stalker way; okay, maybe sometimes). That is part due to the bullies who can’t see past the nerd glasses and the boobless chest, and part due to suffering from anxiety and crippling shyness. But I did earn a keen sense of observation, my imagination filled with all kinds of dastardly ways for bullies to get their comeuppance.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
Though I am not a fan of Stephen King, I love how prolific he is, and how he can describe gruesome details. Barbara Kingsolver, John Irving, Miriam Toews, Douglas Coupland. Oh, it’s a long list.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Many readers who have been victims of domestic violence have sent personal notes about Mazie Baby to thank me for writing the story. For not glossing over or romanticizing abuse. Some of their stories have made me cry and deserve to be told. It’s in my idea file – an anthology of real Mazies and how they coped and got free.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I am working on two novels, and plan (fingers crossed) to publish both this year. The first is titled Goody One Shoe about an editor who takes a red pen to newspaper stories, and then her edits start to come true. It’s kind of superhero fantasy, but without the fantasy. The second is titled The Orphan and the Rose. It is the story of my parents’ love affair told as fiction (to protect the innocent). Well no, because I didn’t want it to be a memoir since my mother’s "facts" can no longer be relied upon (damn Alzheimer’s), and my father has been gone for 20 years so I can’t get his side. This will be my first book without any sex in it. Because, ew, even if fiction, they are still my parents!
Thank you for taking the time to stop by today, Julie. Best of luck with your future projects.
Thank you so much, Lynda!

About the Author
Julie Frayn is an award-winning author, bean counter by trade, and mother of two perfect children (well, two perfect adults). Julie pens short stories and writes for her blog as mental floss between novels.

Enter our exclusive giveaway for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card, courtesy of Julie Frayn.