Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Debby Giusti GuestBlog: Faith with an Edge

Each year our RWA chapter sponsors a Romance Readers' Luncheon and as the title implies, it's all about the reader, a very important part of the whole writing and publishing equation. We have not only our own Heart of Dixie authors, but for the past few years a group of authors from neighboring Georgia Romance Writers have participated and given of their time to interact with loyal and faithful readers. This year one of the authors coming from Georgia is a debut author who writes inspirational romance for Steeple Hill, and her first book hit the shelves this month. Please scoot over and make room on the swings for Debby Giusti.

Thanks for creating such a fun web site and blog and for inviting me to the Playground. You gals are the greatest! I’ll be at the Romance Readers Luncheon in Huntsville, on May 5th, and hope to see you there. Be sure and say hello!

April has been an exciting month with the release of my debut novel, NOWHERE TO HIDE. My first book signing in my local area was held on April 12th, and so many of my dear friends were there to support me. The proceeds benefited Tracy Russo, a young woman who has a brain tumor and lacks medical insurance. Tracy needs to raise money for her surgery, and if you’d like to help, visit her web site at

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been invited to speak to a number of writers’ groups and women’s organizations. Everyone is always so nice and encouraging, and one of the first questions they ask is where I get ideas for my stories. Of course, anyone who writes knows that a newspaper headline, a feature on the nightly news or even a conversation with friends can inspire a story.

The idea for my first book came when my family and I moved into a home that had a security alarm. It wasn’t long before one of us punched in an incorrect code and tripped the silent alarm. The police responded immediately, and as I looked out the window and saw the officers hustling toward my house, guns drawn, I knew I had the opening for my novel.

In NOWHERE TO HIDE, Lydia Sloan’s husband has been murdered, and when the men who killed her husband try to kidnap her son, Lydia and six-year-old Tyler flee Atlanta to a secluded island community off the coast of Georgia and run headlong into the danger they were trying to escape. Seeking refuge, Lydia trips the security alarm on the upscale home owned by her vacationing aunt. Security Chief Matt Lawson answers the call, and when he finds the frightened woman with a little boy in tow, Matt’s not sure which side of the law Lydia’s on.

I just received the cover for my second book, SCARED TO DEATH, which will be out in August. I’m a medical technologist and the idea for SCARED TO DEATH came to me while I was researching liver transplants. Set in the fictional town of Mercy, GA, the plot revolves around a transplant tourist racket. Because of the shortage of donor organs, many US citizens travel to foreign countries for transplants where organs are more plentiful and the wait for surgery is not as long. While most foreign transplants are done by credentialed physicians in reputable medical facilities, there have been cases when less than ethical procedures have occurred.

In SCARED TO DEATH, Nolan Price tries to learn the real reason for his wife’s untimely death, while scientist Kate Murphy investigates a friend’s mysterious allergic reaction. Nolan and
Kate’s lives become entwined as they search for answers to why bad things are happening to good people in Mercy, GA.

I had great news two weeks ago. Steeple Hill wants to publish my third book! MIA: MISSING IN ATLANTA is the story of returning war hero Jude Walker, who tries to find a girlfriend he met on R&R. Enlisting the help of Sarah Montgomery, a shelter worker who rescues homeless teens, Jude’s search leads him into a world of inner-city drugs and exploitation where he learns memories of the past are not always as they seem and authentic love is grounded in truth.

The idea for book three took hold when my son, a Captain in the US Army, was deployed to Iraq for a second tour with the 101st Airborne Division. I wanted to write a story dedicated to the brave men and women who defend our nation, and I also wanted a worthwhile cause to occupy my time while my son was deployed.

I pray everyday for all those who are in the Armed Forces. If your loved one is serving in the military, let me know so I can add you and your family to my prayers.

If you’re interested in the inspirational fiction market, read my article, “Christian Fiction—It’s Inspirational,” posted in
School. Incorporating a faith element into my stories allows me to go more deeply into my characters and makes my stories come alive. While some may think writing inspirational fiction is inhibiting, I find it to be freeing. Write me, if you’d like more information about becoming an inspirational writer.

I’d love to hear what you’re working on and how you get ideas for your stories. Currently, I’m researching my next medical suspense. Be sure to include any bizarre—but true—medical tales you’d like to share that might trigger my creative muse.

Please visit my Web site,, sign my guest book and enter the Cross My Heart Contest. I’ll hold a drawing at the end of May.

Thanks for letting me have so much fun at the Playground. Wishing you all the best and hoping your writing dreams come true!

Debby Giusti

A late P.S. here: Debby is going to give away a copy of her book NOWHERE TO HIDE to the commenter with the best bizarre-but-true medical tale. So put on your thinking caps!


Rhonda said...

Congratulations on all of your success, Debby. (I hope I spelled your name right!) Looking forward to meeting you at the Luncheon!


Debby Giusti said...

Hi Rhonda,
Thanks for saying hello! Yes, I'll see you on the 5th. I'm looking forward to the Luncheon and meeting all the great folks in Huntsville!

Speaking of names . . . my last name always throws people so I made up a little jingle. Think of juice and tea to remember me. Giusti is pronounced JUICE-TEA. Easy, right?

Have a great day, Rhonda!

Jen said...

Hi, Debby!! Nice to "see" you here. Your books sound great and I'm so thrilled to see you on the shelf. ;-)

Problem Child said...

Hi Debby! So glad you're here! With your novel fresh on the shelves, I have a couple of questions (I always do)

How long have you been writing? How long ago was "The Call"? What's been the coolest thing that's happened to you since you sold?

Angel said...

Hi, Debbie!!! So good to finally "meet" you. I got to take a sneak peek at your book for the Playground (readers, you can find the review on the Bookshelf) and I really enjoyed it! Faith just plays a natural part of your characters lives, with no preaching involved. :)

Question from me: What has been the most surprising part about publishing? Can you tell me a little bit about the Writer's Prayer from your site? (I printed it and have it near my computer.)

Smarty Pants said...

Welcome, Debby. I love it when we get authors from different genres of romance to stop in. You can always learn something new. What do you find to be the hardest thing about writing inspirationals vs. your standard contemporary romance?

I'm not eligible to win, but weird medical stories...not terribly weird but I had some funny experiences when I was in the hospital once (on lots of morophine). I had delusions that the a/c unit in my room was sending me secret coded messages. I sat up all night trying to solve the riddles. Boy I felt dumb when the drugs wore off, but it made perfect sense at the time. :)

Then my roommate decided she wanted to watch Fear Factor on TV. Nevermind I just had major intestinal surgery and the morophine made me super nauseus. Nevermind that she'd been dry heaving for hours (which didn't help me at all). Nope, she fired up that tv and watched people eat pickled sheep eyeballs no problem. I thought I was going to die. :)

Playground Monitor said...

Welcome Debby! And I have the same questions as Problem Child. :-)

I also have a true medical story that has some bizarre moments. My husband and I have a friend who has been an insulin-dependent diabetic since he was a teenager. By age 45 he'd had two strokes, his eyesight was affected and his kidneys had shut down. His only hope for survival was a transplant. After his second stroke the doctor told him, "Frank, I don't think you'll ever walk again." Frank's reply was "Think again." And he walked. So here's a man who needs a transplant and every clinic in the country is turning him down because of his age. Finally he appealed to the doctors at UAB and convinced him he was as good a candidate as a younger man and they agreed because he had such a positive attitude and great family support system.

So he gets on the transplant list and waits. Six weeks later he gets the call and rushes to Birmingham where he receives not only a kidney but a pancreas as well. Instead of the usual months of recovery, he's out of the hospital in less than six weeks. And he spent most of his hospital time going up and down the halls encouraging the other patients.

He knew his organs had come from a teenage boy who'd been killed in a tragic auto accident. No alcohol or speeding was involved -- just an accident. He wrote a letter to the donor family and thanked them, but as is the policy, he was only identified by his first name.

Fast forward a few years and the local TV station does a piece on organ donation and features Frank. He talks about his donor and again thanks the family for their unselfishness. Well, it turns out the donor family was watching the news and put two and two together and realized they were watching the recipient of their son's kidney and pancreas. They called the TV station and by the 10 o'clock news they had introduced the families to each other and had another interview to air. The families have become great friends and are both involved in the local organ donation group.

Isn't that a HEA to beat all?


Instigator said...

Welcome Debby! We're really glad you stopped by today.

I don't have any unusual medical stories to tell. Unless you count the fact that I've been dealing with various and sundry illnesses for what seems like months. My youngest currently has a skin rash that went into an infection (She's had excema most of her life and this didn't look much different to me). However the infection was around her eye and the puss from the infection began coming out her eyes. I thought she had an eye infection. Um, not so much.

And then there's that time when my youngest and I had strep throat for 2 solid months.

We don't have unusual stuff we just can't seem to get rid of the normal crud when we get it.


Debby Giusti said...

Hi Jen,
Thanks for your nice words about my books. I waited such a long time to see my debut on the shelf that I started telling some folks in Alabama (I live in GA!) they'd hear me scream when it finally appeared. Seemed forever until April 10th rolled around. Now I keep walking by the bookshelves in Kroger, KMart, and WalMart -- every store I happen to shop at, plus my favorite bookstores -- just to see if it's still there. I bet the "thrill" will never go away no matter how many books I'm blessed to be able to publish.
Wishing you the best!

robynl said...

Hi and welcome Debby!
This tale is bizarre because of the RN's reply.
Mom in hospital after a complete hysterectomy; I come to visit and she says I've been calling(pushing the button) and calling for the nurse b/c I'm in pain and I was supposed to have a needle an hour ago. Can you go and see? I go to the nurse's desk and stand and wait and wait. They are busy with writing in charts. Finally I say 'excuse me' and they ask if I want anything, lol. I tell them and go back to Mom. Finally a nurse arrives and asks what's the problem. We relay the problem and she says they are busy and can't be everywhere. I get huffed up and start talking in a louder voice and say that their choice should be the patient's comfort. The nurse says 'I have paper work coming from the East and the West(meaning she is very busy with paper work)and I have to get it done. Mom stops me from going to Admin b/c Mom works at the hospital and doesn't want to cause problems. Finally she gets a needle for pain almost 2 hrs. late.
*I had had a hysterectomy some years earlier and know that they insisted I take the needle even if I wasn't in pain so that the pain didn't get out of hand. I was amazed at the nurse's attitude to say the least

Debby Giusti said...

Problem Child,
I've been writing since the 1990s and started out working for magazines. Because of my medical background, I wrote for ADVANCE for Administrators of the Laboratory and was on their editor advisory board. I also wrote for ladies' magazines, and for a number of years, I did feature stories for Southern Lady, a beautiful magazine published in Birmingham.

"The Call" came on August 3, 2005! And I did scream for joy after I got off the phone with the editor. Because Steeple Hill was expanding their Love Inspired Suspense line from two books a month to four books a month, there were a number of stories already in the lineup. So I had almost a two-year wait from "The Call" to publication.

The best thing that's happened is connecting with readers. A woman came up to me this morning and said she loved the story and had bought four of my books to send to friends around the country. Another lady told me she had a fear of water and when Lydia was submerged in Nowhere to Hide, the woman could feel Lydia's fear as if it were her own. Reader letters also touch my heart, and I deeply appreciate when people take the time to comment about the book. I always try to reply and let them know how much their emails and letters mean to me.


Kathy said...

Welcome to the playground, Debby! It's a little windy today. Hope you just didn't get your hair done!

Congratulations on the publication of your first book and the many others soon to follow. I need to check out your website and print off the writer's prayer, Angel talked about.

I just heard a terrible story yesterday. A woman someone knows has kept up with her health. She goes for yearly checkups but this time a sonogram showed she had a growth on her ovary. A decision was made to remove the cancerous growth through laproscopic surgery. When doctor's go in, they find the growth is the size of a softball and can't get it out. Doctors realize this only after they've punctured the tumor on their first try. For 15 minutes during emergency surgery, cancer cells are spreading throughout the woman's body. Doctor's try to clean everything up and are finally able to remove the growth. In an ironic twist, here's a woman who makes sure she lives clean, gets checkups, goes in to have, what a sonogram revealed was a small tumor removed and now finds herself undergoing heavy chemo and radiation. And then you have people who never get checkups who are told they have cancer, have surgery and get a quick clean bill of health. While no one wants anyone to suffer for whatever reason. It's very odd this hospital didn't take better precautions during this woman's treatment. This reminds me of the people who go in to have a body part removed and end up with the wrong one removed. This makes one afraid to trust professionals. One definitely needs to have heavenly inspiration when doing so.

Swing as high as you can get today!


Debby Giusti said...

Angel -- love your "name!"
Glad you like my Writer's Prayer. I wrote it shortly after "The Call" and keep a copy next to my computer. I say it before I begin writing each day, asking the Lord to inspire my work. He knows I need all the help I can get! :)

You asked about the most surprising part of publishing. Hmmm? Probably that I had to change from wearing my "author's hat" to my "marketing hat." Once I started promoting my book, I had a whole new area to learn. Stephanie Bond is a wonderful author and a member of Georgia Romance Writers, my home chapter. She always says we need to think of our writing as a business and the book as our product. I began to understand what she meant after the book sold. Too bad I hadn't grasped the concept when all those rejection letters arrived in my mailbox before publication. Then I would have understood the editors weren't rejecting Debby Giusti, they were rejecting my product that needed more work. Does that make sense, Angel?

Mary Connealy said...

Hey, Debby, I loved Nowhere to Hide you did such a great job on it. I can't wait until the next book. I'm so thrilled for you.

As for weird medical stories, well, I'll think about that one and maybe come up with something later.

Debby Giusti said...

Smarty Pants,
Oh, honey, I'm feelin' your pain with a morphine drip and Fear Factor on TV. But you gave me a great idea . . . a character is recovering from surgery and is fading in and out of reality because of the pain medication. Someone's after her--perhaps she was attacked by a serial killer who's murdering women in Atlanta. She escaped, but knows he'll return to kill her. For some reason she doesn't want anyone to know about the attack. (Maybe because that would reveal she was in a place she shouldn't have been.) Her hospital roomie turns on the Nightly News, and there's the killer being interviewed on TV. Because of the meds, she can't make anyone understand that the "good guy" everyone loves is really bad. Okay, so who's the killer? A rich philanthropist? The lead detective working the case? A favorite sports star? And where has this woman been? Walking the streets of Atlanta late at night? In a flea-bag motel that "nice" girls would never visit?

Anyone want to pick up the story thread and move it along?

You asked about the hardest part of writing in the inspirational genre compared to writing standard contemporary romance. Some people think writing inspirational stories might be limiting, but I found just the opposite. By adding a faith element I was able to go more deeply into my characters and explore their struggle to accept God into their lives, to accept forgiveness, and even to accept themselves as loveable beings. Once they could love themselves, they were then able to accept the love of the other person. For that reason, writing "standard" romance without a faith element would probably seem limiting to me at this point.

Debby Giusti said...

Playground Monitor,
Your true story about the man who received the kidney transplant is amazing. I had chills when I read it. No doubt, the boy's parents were grateful to meet the organ recipient who had benefited so immensely from their son's ultimate generosity. Thanks for sharing such a heart warming story. Isn't it great to hear good news!

Debby Giusti said...

Your poor daughter! I hope the infection cleared up quickly without any damage to her eyes. The medical literature is full of cases of organisms that are becoming resistant to antibiotics, and I'm afraid the situation is going to get a lot worse in the years to come unless pharmaceutical companies can develop new lines of anti-microbials. That's why doctors are so cautious about prescribing antibiotics.

Sounds like your two-month strep was caused by a hearty strain that was resistant to whatever antibiotic you were initially given. Bet you didn't get much writing done during that time! :) So sorry you and your little one had to be sick so long!

Debby Giusti said...

Yikes! What an insensitive nurse! She was probably overworked, but she should have responded more appropriately to her patient! Unfortunatley, hospitals are becoming so short staffed due to budget cuts that nurses, lab personnel, x-ray technicians, etc have to work longer hours with fewer people on each shift. That's bad for the patient and medical personnel but could be good for a writer to use in a story! :) Thanks for sharing!

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Kathy,
Another story that doesn't bode well for hospitals. Of course, we know that most people get excellent care from hard-working, competent and empathetic medical personnel. Thanks to all of you in the medical profession who do so much to help others. Don't know where we'd be without you!

Missy T said...

Hi, Debby! Great interview.

Also, I loved your book! Had me by the throat on page one.


Debby Giusti said...

Hi Mary,
Thanks for stopping by the Playground! For those of you who don't know Mary, she's a wonderful inspirational writer, and I had the pleasure of reading her debut. Petticoat Ranch is a delightful humorous romance with a touch of mystery set on the Texas frontier.

Debby Giusti said...

Missy T
Glad you liked the story. I was with Missy at a writer's meeting last night, and she was showing off the cover of her first sale to Steeple Hill. HER UNLIKELY FAMILY will be out in Feb 2008. Congrats on your success, Missy!

Kathy said...

Oh Debby, I hope you didn't misunderstand. I didn't mean to say I didn't trust professionals in the medical industry. And I didn't mean to insult anyone. I just meant to say that stories like this make you think about freakish things that can happen to people. IMHO, these aren't the norm. I've gone in for repairs many times and have been lucky to have caring staff take care of me every time.

I only brought this story up as an example. Writing inspirationals involving stories like this, giving people hope as in the case mentioned by PM, is such a gift. Making sense of the nonsensical, learning to cope with sudden changes possibly thrust upon you even though you've done all the right things is hard. I applaud you for writing inspirationals. The world needs inspiration and guidance. And as writers, we can make a difference.

Was there anything particular in your life that led you to writing inspirationals?


Debby Giusti said...

I didn't think anything negative about your earlier post . . . just wanted to make sure anyone stopping by who happened to work in a hospital knew that we appreciate what they do! I've worked in hospital laboratories and know that things can go wrong in surgery or on the floor. Unfortunately.

How did I switch to writing insprirationals? Krista Stroever, the senior editor at Steeple Hill, came to speak to my Georgia Romance Writers group. I was able to go out to dinner with her the night before and then was at the meeting the next day when she talked about the great books Steeple Hill was publishing. The Love Inspired Suspense line was expanding, and she was looking for manuscripts. I had targeted my story for Harlequin Intrigue, but when I pitched the idea to Krista, she wanted to take a look at the partial if I added a faith element. I had read a few sweet inspirationals, and when my daughters were young, they had read many of the prairie romances, but I hadn't read any that were suspense, which was what I wanted to write. When I started to incorporate a faith element into my manuscript, I realized I'd found my niche.

Writers sometimes get in what I call the "Plateau" time, like dieting when you lose weight at first, then you hit a brick wall and have to decrease calories or increase exercise to start losing again. The writing plateau comes when you're writing good stories, getting good feed back from contest judges, but not selling. Sometimes a slight change of direction can make the difference between rejection and sale. That's what happened to me. When I added a faith element to my writing, I sold.

catslady said...

A month after having my first child (which was a story in itself with a 29 hr. c-section and labor pains starting every 3 to 4 min.), I was nursing my daughter and got extreme sharp pains in my chest. Thought I was having a heart attack. It went away and I figured maybe it was back pain or something. Well I got another one and instead of lasting minutes, they started lasting hours and eventually days. I went and saw a doctor and was basically told - oh you just had a child it's nothing. They put me on antacids. It would ease some if I took ibuprofen but I wasn't suppose to because I was nursing. Then I started getting nauseous too. Back to another doc who said it was probably an ulcer. Eventually after 2 months they took a sonagram and then the test with the tube down the throat. Apparently I had gall stones and it was so bad they took it out that very day and said it could have killed me. I was told later that they didn't think it could have been that because I wasn't fat, fair or forty. But I had mentioned it to them because I heard being on the pill could cause that. So it messed up my nursing and I have this horrible scar and was told it was larger than most because the surgeon had big hands - I really thought the nurse was kidding but she wasn't lol.

Your book sounds really interesting.

Debby Giusti said...

What a medical tale -- and it's true. Oh, my gosh! Gallstones are hard to diagnose and can be so painful. Glad you finally found a doctor who thought to order a sonogram. You wrote that birth control pills could increase the risk of gallstones--very interesting. Thanks for sharing your story, and I'm so glad you're doing well now.

Playground Monitor said...

Hormone replacement therapy can increase the chance of gallstones too. It's the estrogen factor. Hot flashes or gallstones? Hmmm.

About your woman waking up in the Atlanta hospital...maybe she WASN'T somewhere good girls don't go. Maybe she was on a date with a nice baseball player who's been the league MVP and has a reputation as an all-round nice guy. But he has this deep dark secret that only she knows and... Mwahahahaha.


Debby Giusti said...

I like your ideas for this story. So she went out with a nice guy, thought she was safe with the MVP and then . . . ? How does it play out?

Did he try to put the moves on her, she rejected his advances, he got angry and violent. But wouldn't MVP realize people knew she was going out with him? So if he did anything to her on their date, he'd be the prime suspect. Did someone come after her when the MVP took her home, someone who wanted to throw the suspicion on the star athlete?

Smarty Pants said...

Maybe they got in an argument on the date and she walked out, only to get attacked from behind in an alley. She doesn't know who did it, but she thinks its the MVP. Maybe the MVP interrupts the guy and he tears off and she drifts out of consciousness to see the ball player hovering over her and thinks hes the one that did it. Since he was interrupted, perhaps the killer thinks she'll know who he was, so he keeps after her to finish off the job. All the while, she's accusing and running from the MVP and perhaps running into the arms of the killer? Dum dum dum....!

Debby Giusti said...

Love it, Smarty Pants. The plot thickens. So she thinks the MVP is her attacker and sees him on TV while she's in the hospital. Then the real villain comes to visit her at the hospital. He's . . . who is he? The guy's who's dating her widowed mom? (Where did that come from?) The physician who's treating her? A guy who shares the next cubicle in her office?
The guy her baby sister is engaged to marry? Remember she's high on meds when he enters her room.

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks, everyone! It's been a wonderful day, and I've had so much fun at the Playground!

Wishing you all great success with your writing!