Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Guest Blogger: Debby Giusti

Just Believe!

The first time I blogged – in fact the first time I ever posted a comment on a blog – was in April 2007, when Marilyn invited me to be a guest on the Writing Playground. I had so much fun chatting with everyone online. Huntsville, Alabama, is one of my favorite cities, and the HOD writers are the best.

Now it’s October 1st, 2008 . . . the first day of the month when COUNTDOWN TO DEATH, the first book in my new Magnolia Medical series, will be released. With all those firsts, it seems the perfect time to return to the Playground. Thanks, Marilyn for inviting me back.


How did five people from a small Georgia town contract a rare, deadly disease? Medical researcher Allison Stewart has to work against the clock to find out. Yet before she can ask one question, someone tries to kill her. A handsome recluse who is shrouded in suspicion saves her.

Many believe Luke Garrison is guilty of a decade-old murder—a murder with ties to Allison’s case. Allison dares to work closely with Luke. But is she setting herself up to become victim number six?

I have a plaque in my room that reads: Everything happens for a reason, just believe. Looking back over my life brings home the truth of those words.

Growing up, my mother always said a woman needed a profession so, although I loved both science and English, I pursued a B.S. degree in Medical Technology. After graduation, I worked in the clinical laboratory until the birth of my first child when I turned in my test tubes and became a stay-at-home mom.

When Baby One and Baby Two were little, I published a few magazine articles, but as they grew and when Baby Three appeared, I put my writing on hold. “I’ll get to it when I have more time,” I kept telling myself.

Fast forward to when my eldest was heading for college. I decided to go back to the laboratory and worked part-time at a local hospital. I had started writing again and submitted short articles to area newspapers and medical magazines about what our lab was doing to improve the health and well being of our patients. My co-workers liked seeing their names in print, and I enjoyed having a byline. Before long, an editor from ADVANCE for Administrators of the Laboratory -- a slick publication for management-level laboratorians -- called to ask if I’d be interested in writing for them.

“Write what you know,” the experts say, so my first piece, titled “Flexing the Clock,” spotlighted the folks I worked with, many of whom had schedules tailor-made to fit their personal needs. One of the male techs pulled two 18-hour shifts on weekends so he could be Mr. Mom to his kids during the week. Other folks had schedules that dovetailed with a second job or family commitments.

Shortly after that first article ran, I queried ADVANCE about a story on the summer Olympics. My hometown, Atlanta, Georgia, was hosting the games, and I did a piece on how the medical community was gearing up for the influx of tourists who would need medical care. “Go for the Gold,” was the cover story that August.

While interviewing the city’s leading healthcare professionals, I learned their concerns about the infectious diseases foreign travelers could bring to the U.S. “Emerging Infectious Diseases” ran the month prior to the Olympics and established the direction of future medical articles I wrote, such as “The Rash of Latex Allergies” and “What’s Bugging the United States.”

I served on the magazine’s editorial board for over twelve years and was able to attend numerous scientific conferences. Although I didn’t know it then, the research and the contacts I made were laying the groundwork for the fictional tales I now write.

During that time, I also penned articles for women’s magazines and worked for a number of years for SOUTHERN LADY, a Birmingham publication. Eventually I realized my heart’s desire was to write full-length fiction. Success didn’t come easily, but looking back I can see how so many of what seemed like detours along my road to publication were actually important steps preparing me for my work today.

SCARED TO DEATH, my second Love Inspired Suspense, was a medical story and won the Daphne du Maurier Award for Inspirational Suspense this year. In addition, it’s a Maggie Award of Excellence finalist. Hopefully, that means readers will like COUNTDOWN TO DEATH as well. I just submitted PROTECTING HER CHILD, book two in the series, which will be out in May 2009, and am now working on book three.

My publisher assured me COUNTDOWN TO DEATH would be on the shelves by October 14th. Look for it in your favorite bookstore or order it online through my website: I love to hear from readers so email me and let me know if you enjoy the story.

Can I share some more good news? I recently learned Karen Wiesner referenced my work in her latest how-to book, FROM FIRST DRAFT TO FINISHED NOVEL (Writer's Digest Books, 978-1-58297-551-1). The index published online lists SCARED TO DEATH, by Debby Giusti, between J.K. Rowling, of Harry Potter fame, and Kate Jacobs, author of THE FRIDAY NIGHT KNITTING CLUB. Not bad company! Of course, I’m thrilled.

The Moonlight and Magnolia’s Conference will be this weekend in Atlanta. I’ll be giving a workshop, BE PREPARED, along with Missy Tippens, and signing at the Book Fair on Saturday. If you’re at the conference, be sure to say hello!

Now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite series and why? Do you reach for a book in a series before a stand-alone? What do you look for in a series?

Happy writing!!! Happy reading!!!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

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P.S. Debbie is giving away a copy of COUNTDOWN TO DEATH. Post in the comments tail to qualify to win her latest book. She has some appointments this morning but will be here in the afternoon to play.


Barbara Vey said...

I'm sorry to miss the M&M conference this year, but I hope you all have a great time.

Angel said...

Welcome, Debbie!!! I can tell y'all from experience that Debbie is just the sweetest person!! And you'll love her books. I really do.

For me, it depends on the series as to whether I mind reading them out of order. If I pick up the second one, and it doesn't stand well on its own or gives away too much information about the previous ones, then I'm a little frustrated. I mean, I know the first book will have a HEA, so I don't mind seeing the previous couple together or things like that. But if the plots are intricately linked, I like to read them in order.

That being said, I like to see the previous characters in a series and know they are doing well, or even see a continuance of their stories in the next book.

Thank you for sharing your road to publication! It is always inspiring to me to see the journey author's take to see their books in print. Congratulations on the Maggie nomination and good luck this weekend!


Problem Child said...

Hi Debbie and welcome back!

I'm not surprised to hear you're a Maggie finalist at all. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

I think it's cool that you were able to use your old job to write the new books!

Playground Monitor said...

I used to read continuities in the Desire line. They'd have a major plotline running through all 12 books and you saw how each hero and heroine not only related to that plotline but you saw their relationship develop and go on to a HEA.

I love series books. I try to read them in order since even though most are written to be stand-alone, there's always a little bit of info you're missing if they're read out of order.

Roxanne St. Claire's Bullet Catcher series is a current favorite as well as the Stephanie Plum books (though I'll admit I haven't read the latest one yet). Kay Stockham has a "Tulanes of Tennessee" series for SuperRomance that I've been reading as well as Susan Crosby's "Wives for Hire" series for Special Edition.

If I sound a little disconnected today, chalk it up to having spent yesterday with a two-year-old. LOL! I'm grandbabysitting and have played with Play Dough, read the same book over and over and over and watched a Sesame Street movie.


Playground Monitor said...

Uh... forgot to congratulate you on the Maggie final.

And I didn't realize we initiated you to blogging. Obviously we did a good job since you came back to play!

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Hi, Debby! Congrats on the Maggie final!!! I remember meeting you in Dallas -- you were one of the nicest people and always a friendly face. Made my first conference experience that much better. :)

And it was nice seeing you at the luncheon in May, and in SF. See, now I feel like we're old friends, especially with the military connection. :)

I love hearing about your writing journey!! Wow, it's so neat you used your background in your stories. I don't think I reach for series over unconnected stories necessarily. I might be hesitant to pick up a series in the middle. But I do love to follow characters through several books. It's like they become old friends. :)

Instigator said...

We're glad you stopped by, Debby! Congratulations on the Maggie nomination. I'll keep everything crossed for you on Saturday night :-)

I love reading books in a series. But I also enjoy reading stand alone books. However, there's something nice about being able to revist those characters as the series moves forward so you can get snippets into the happily ever afters the characters are leading.


Smarty Pants said...

Hey Debbie! Thanks for popping back in. You are just the sweetest lady. Its always nice to see you.

I like to read a series, but I have to say I don't always like to write them. Sometimes, by the time I get done with a book, I'm so sick of the characters I don't want them to pop up again in the next one, even as a cameo. At the same time, it can also be nice not to have to reinvent the wheel and pick up where you left off. I have a series I've written, but I can't sell the first one, so the second one is sorta hanging out there by itself. Oh well.

Good luck with the Maggies!

Rebekah E. said...

I love series, but hate when they are clear on there order. I can't stand to read them out of order and have to make I have it right. But I also like reading books that stand alone. Sometimes I get impatient and can't wait for the next book. So it is nice to have both books that stand alone you can read while you waiting for the next book in your series to come out.

Congratulations on the Maggie nomination.

Kathy said...

Hey Debby! What a wonderful surprise!! Okay, do you prefer the swings, the merry-go-ground, or the teeter-totter? :)

Can I tell you that you've made a wonderful impression in my life. What an inspiration you are! Thanks for sharing your journey. I'd like to also thank you and Missy again for praying with me the day before my pitches in San Fran. I got awesome results and your kindness really helped calm my nerves. (Shout out to Lynn and Pam for being great roomies!)

Good luck at M&M this weekend! I wish I could be there but I'll be keeping you and our dear, Angel, in my thoughts as you await the Maggie results.

Your new book sounds awesome. Is there a spooky vibe there too? :)

Do you have any plans for a new series in the works?

I love series books. Some of my favs are Linda Winstead Jones' Witch Trilogy, which actually extends into another series. The Raintree Trilogy, JoAnna Lindsay's Mallory family sagas, John Jake's The North and South series, HP (of course), the Twilight series, and Elizabeth Hoyt's Prince series. I love seeing recuring characters interact with old and new characters in a real or imagined world. As Lynn said, they become like family or very dear friends and you simply hate to see bad things happen to them. Its exciting and easy to become invested in books like that.

Sherry W. said...

Hi Debby! Congratulations again on the Maggie final. And it sounds like you girls had a great time at the conference in Minneapolis. I was hoping to attend the M&M this year but my daughter has a dance/band competition the same weekend. So for now I will just have to get my wealth of info from your blogsites!

I do read both series and stand-alones. Actually I'm now waiting for the next book in a Lisa Kleypas series to come out. And I too like to know the last HEA is still going strong thru the new release. It's kinda like keeping up with old friends. :)

Hope you have a great conference this weekend!

Anonymous said...

Welcome Debby,
Congratulations on your Maggie final. I can go either way in regards to a series or stand alone. That being said I am a sucker for Susan Elizabeth Phillips books, Kate Angells and Heather Rae Scott series, to name a few.

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Barbara,
We'll miss you this year at the M&M! Hope you can come back another time!!! Everyone loved meeting you, and we all enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work, spreading the word about your favorite reads!

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Everyone! Sorry I was away from my computer this AM! I had appointments, errands, etc. Life sometimes gets in the way, doesn't it?

So glad to be back online!

Debby Giusti said...

Angel, thanks for your sweet words about my books.

I like to read series books in order, as you mentioned, when the characters and plots mesh together.

For my Magnolia Medical series, I have two repeating characters who appear briefly in each book. One is Veronica Edwards, the research department's laboratory manager, and the other is the lab secretary. They interact with the main characters at the beginning of the stories when the reader first learns about the research complications.

Eventually, I'd like to tell Veronica's story.

catslady said...

I loved the Earth Series by Jean Auel but had(have) to wait years and years between books. I'm one of those readers that has to read in order so if I don't have to wait too long or if the books are easy to find then I'm happy. If I don't know the author, I shy away from series usually (unless I read the first book before I know it's a series and I love it). Clear as mud.

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Problem Child!

When I was researching a new disease, I had to first learn about the problem and then ensure I was completely accurate in presenting the information. Although I didn't realize it at the time, that attention to detail is important in writing fiction as well.

Debby Giusti said...

Playground Monitor, you're such a great Grandma! I know you're having a ball with the little ones.

I loved Deb Webb's Intrigues with the Colby Agency. Oh, my gosh, how many books has she written in that series? More than 20, at least. Anyone know the exact number?

Debby Giusti said...

You were so sweet to walk me through the blogging process back in 2007! Now I tell all aspiring writers to start blogging. Plus, it's such a great way to make new friends!

The Writing Playground will always have a special spot in my heart!!! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Lynn,
We are old friends for sure!!! And that KOD party was extra fun because I was sitting next to you!

Great pic in the RWR!!! WOW!!! I was thrilled seeing you with the two Lindas!

Alabama girls rock!

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Investigator,
You and Lynn both mentioned characters becoming old friends. That's so true!

Marilyn brought up Stephanie Plum. Don't we all feel we know her?

I love Tess Gerritsen, who writes medical thrillers. She has two lead female characters. Maura Isles is a police pathologist, and Jane Rizzoli is the homicide detective. Tess dribbles new information about her two protagonists into each book, revealing just a little more each time. Of course, I'd want to tell all, but Tess holds enough back so we are always hungry for the next read.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Yes, the KOD party! And weren't we plotting someone's book while we sat there? :) I missed it in SF because I had another event. :(

LOL, the picture -- if EVER anyone was standing in the right place at the right time, that's a prime example. :) No one was more surprised than I was to see my face in those pages. :)

Debby Giusti said...

Smarty Pants,
Good for you having a series waiting for the right editor!

When stories have repeat characters, authors have to work hard to keep each book fresh and new. That seems like it would be a huge challenge.

Has anyone read Stephanie Bond? She's a great GA writer and is doing so well with her Body Movers series, which she calls "Sexy Mystery." Steph's publishing the next three in the series early in 2009. They'll be released close together -- every month or every other month.

Virginia said...

Welcome Debby to the playground. I loved your post and the book sound wonderful. I will put it on my list for books to watch for.

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Rebeka e--
Sounds like when you find an author you like, you want to ready everything he or she writes. That's me! I'm a faithful reader and am always waiting for the next book whether it's a series or a stand-alone!

When I discover an author who's already made it big -- maybe she's a NY Times Bestseller -- I like to find the first book she ever published. Often it'll be a romance. I try to analyze her writing and see how she's developed her style, voice, characterization over time.

Debby Giusti said...

Kathy, I'm partial to swings! True story, my hubby proposed at an elementary school playground. Doesn't sound romantic, but it was! :)

So glad your appts in SF went well. Keep me posted on what's happening in your life, okay?

You asked if COUNTDOWN TO DEATH has a spooky vibe? The second scene has the heroine staying in an isolated B&B, located on a desolate country back road. Trouble finds her that night and hounds her for the rest of the book.

Bet you didn't know, but even though I write inspirational stories, I love to kill people! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Congrats on your Maggie final!!! Will you be at the M&M? I've got my fingers crossed for RETURN TO MILL TOWN! If you can't make the event, you'll probably hear me cheering for you all the way to Alabama!

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Sherry,
Have fun with your daughter and good luck to her!!!

I've got one of Lisa K's books in the to-be-read stack by my bed! There's never enough time to read! :)

Looking forward to seeing you next year at the HOD luncheon!

Debby Giusti said...


Thanks for sharing your favorite authors.

James Patterson always had top priority on my to-read list. Loved Alex Cross, Mama Nana and the kids.

Kathy Reichs was another favorite. I got to hear Kathy speak at last year's Decatur Book Festival (think Atlanta suburb). The two-day event is held over the Labor Day Weekend. Big name authors from across the US speak at various venues that run back-to-back. GRW always has a table, and it's fun to meet the thousands of folks who flock to town.

My taste in books has changed a bit over the last few years. I still love Harlan Coben and new author Andrew Gross. Folks say Ted Bell and Vince Flynn are good, but I haven't read them yet. Sounds like I lean toward male writers. Maybe that's because I like suspense.

Debby Giusti said...

I loved Tami Hoag. She came to a GRW meeting years ago, and I attended all of her workshops, soaking in what she had to say. I bought her backlist and read everything she'd written. Then . . . she didn't published for a number of years. In the meantime, I moved on to other authors.

Okay, maybe I'm not a faithful reader after all! :)

Debby Giusti said...

COUNTDOWN will be out Oct 14th. Thanks for your interest!

I'm working on the third book in the series. In fact, I should have been writing today instead of playing on the Playground. But this is a lot more fun! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Right person, right time, right place!!! And you did look stunning, as always!

Angel said...

Debby, I have an ongoing lament that I'm sure the playfriends are tired of hearing: I can't make it to M&M because my sil is getting married Saturday night. But I have a chaptermate set to call me with the results!!! :)

Good luck to you! I wish I could be there.


Debby Giusti said...

Enjoy the wedding!!! That's where you need to be, but we'll miss you!!! And I will be screaming. You'll hear me! :)

ArkieRN said...

Hi Debbie! Congrats on your series and finaling in the Maggie's. I love series books! At any time I'm reading about 20. I perfer to read them in order but have frequently read them out of order.

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks for stopping by! Who's that cute little one in the photo? What a doll!

Twenty books at one time!!! You're Wonder Woman! :)

So really, do you read more than one book at a time? I can do that only if they're competely different -- say if one's fiction and the other is a how-to book.

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks Playground Friends!
I've had a great time "playing" today!
Much love!