Wednesday, August 21, 2013

THE SOLDIER'S SISTER, by Debby Giusti

Debby Giusti (R) with Nancy Carlisle (L),
AW2 Advocate, Fort Benning, GA
Some years ago, a friend told me about her new job as the U.S. Army Advocate for injured military personnel in the Atlanta area, and the seed for a story was planted. At that time, I wasn’t writing my Military Investigations series so I didn’t act on the idea, yet every time I saw my friend Ann Yingling, I learned more about the Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2).

The AW2 initiative started in 2004 as a way for the Army to help severely wounded, ill or injured soldiers. Local advocates work with the service members during their hospitalization, rehabilitation and convalescent and provide hands-on support throughout the soldier’s transition back to active duty or return to civilian life. Advocates walk the injured and their families through the maze of paperwork that often accompanies government programs and also provide career counseling and information on educational opportunities and resources available to the soldiers.

As an Army Mom, I know the concerns families have when a loved one on active duty is deployed. I continue to thank God that my son came home safely at the end of each of his four, war-zone assignments, and my heart breaks for all who have had a loved one injured while on active duty. I was encouraged to learn about the AW2 program and thought others would be interested in knowing about it as well.
Cover: Fayette Woman, Jan 7, 2010
Photo by Images by Rainy Photography Inc.
The more I read about the AW2 program, the more I wanted to write a story that involved wounded warriors and their advocates. Last year, when I was ready to create the next story in my Military Investigations series, I called Ann. She put me in contact with Nancy Carlisle, the AW2 Advocate at Fort Benning, Georgia. Nancy invited me to visit her, and a few days later, she graciously welcomed me to her office and answered the many questions I had about her work as an advocate.

Nancy gave me a detailed overview of the AW2 program and talked openly about the support she provides to the soldiers on her caseload. She also discussed the structure of the Warrior Transitional Battalions, special units on each Army post where the injured soldiers live and work during their recuperation.
AW2 Advocate Nancy Carlisle in her
Fort Benning office.
In the weeks ahead, my story took shape. The heroine would be an AW2 advocate, and the hero would be a special agent in the Criminal Investigation Division. A crime would have to occur as the inciting incident and needed to involve the heroine in some way.

I decided to have one of the wounded warriors on her caseload attacked in the opening chapter and upped the heroine’s internal conflict by including an estranged brother who is also an injured serviceman. Making the brother a suspect in the crime would add an interesting twist and increase the tension between the CID hero, investigating the crime, and the advocate, hoping to reconnect with her brother.

Last year as I was putting the story together, I wrote a blog post on Seekerville about the process I used to create the story and included children's building blocks as props.  Click here to read “How I Built My Latest Story,” which appeared June 20, 2012.

During my trip to Fort Benning, I snapped the following pictures of the Wounded Warrior Battalion Headquarters. Later, I submitted the photos to the Art Department. Can you tell what they used for the cover art? 

I'm sure you've heard of the Wounded Warrior Project, a civilian organization created—as their motto states--to honor and empower Wounded Warriors. Many of you probably support the good work they do with your financial contributions, and I know some of the Villagers work on weekend R&R events for warriors and their families. My hat’s off to everyone who helps our military, especially wounded warriors. Thank you for the many ways you reach out to our military heroes. To learn more about the Wounded Warrior Project, visit their website

I’ll have a book signing early in September at Omega Book Center, my local independent book store. The proceeds from the books sold that day will go to the Wounded Warrior Program at Fort Benning. Bookseller Karen Duncan takes phone orders and mails books throughout the U.S. so if you’d like to take part in the event, reserve a signed copy of THE SOLDIER’S SISTER by calling: Omega Books Center, 100 North Peachtree Parkway, Peachtree City, GA 30269, 770-487-3977.

The coffee’s hot. Fill your cup and let’s chat about books and writing and reading and any of the following questions I thought might provide a springboard for today’s discussion. Leave a comment to be included in a drawing for the three Seeker September releases: FALLING FOR THE LAWMAN, by Ruth Logan Herne, A CANYON SPRINGS COURTSHIP, by Glynna Kaye, and THE SOLDIER'S SISTER, by Debby Giusti.

As writers, do we have a responsibility to bring important causes, problems and/or programs to light by including them in our stories?

Do you like fictional stories that educate as well as entertain?
Do you sometimes seek more information about a program or cause after having read about it in a favorite book?

What’s the most interesting fact you’ve uncovered through research that has played into one of your novels?

I brought an all-American breakfast and enlisted the help of the Fort Bragg unit where my son is currently stationed to serve us today. Grab a plate and get some chow! Eggs cooked to order. Bacon, ham, sausage and chipped beef on toast. Hash browns. Waffles, pancakes, breads and biscuits. Fresh fruit. Grits.

Happy writing! Happy reading!

Wishing you abundant blessings,

Debby Giusti 
www.DebbyGiusti.com                                                                                          


THE SOLDIER’S SISTER
By Debby Giusti

WHO WILL PROTECT HER?
Someone wants Stephanie Upton dead. A warning to leave town is just the beginning. Fearing for her life, Stephanie turns to Special Agent Brody Goodman for help and protection. But can she trust him when he’s convinced her own brother is a prime suspect? Torn between her devotion to two men—an estranged brother whose trust she yearns to regain and an agent she may be falling for—Stephanie doesn’t know who or what to believe. As feelings between her and Brody escalate, she’ll have to choose sides to stay alive.

Available now at Amazon.com



118 comments:

Helen Gray said...

I received The Soldier's Sister and A Canyon Springs Courtship from you and Glynna last week. Wonderful! They are at the top of my TBR pile.

Thanks for the insights into your story.

Here's a big pitcher of orange juice to go with the coffee.

Helen

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi DEBBY, Love the concept for your book and the research sounds so fascinating.

The Wounded Warrior Program is very helpful. Samaritan Purse has a Wounded Warrior Getaway in Alaska that has helped many.

I love research. Its my favorite part of writing. I had great help from the VA for the research on Post Traumatic Stress when I wrote Love's Miracles.

Have a great day tomorrow.

Julie Hilton Steele said...

What a wonderful post! Living in NC, we have plenty of coverage of Wounded Warrior and other programs. So I have been waiting impatiently for your book.

It is a tricky balance when shining the light on a real charity in fiction. Sometimes an HEA is a happy relief from reality. Sometimes it might not ring true with the reader. It takes thought and prayer to pull it off.

Put me in the hat!

Peace, Julie

Vince said...

Hi Debby:

As writers, do we have a responsibility to bring important causes, problems and/or programs to light by including them in our stories?

I would say no we don’t have a responsibility but we do have the opportunity. We should use that opportunity well with insight and responsibility.

I believe our first responsibility is to the reader to create the best reading experience we are capable of doing. If people do not buy and read our books, then all the good works found in them will go to naught.

Do you like fictional stories that educate as well as entertain?

I not only like them, I seek them out. This is what I did with “The Price of Victory”. I wanted to know about bicycle racing and this book gave me an inside view. And, yes, I did look into bicycle races after reading the book. BTW: This book has my favorite hero and it’s just 99 cents right now on Amazon!

Do you sometimes seek more information about a program or cause after having read about it in a favorite book?

Yes, I had to read up about Army warrant officers when I started reading your military series. I only saw one warrant officer in all the time I was in the Air Force. I also learned a lot about CID and why they don’t wear uniforms. I was in the Air Police and I still learned much that I did not know about military police work from reading your books.

I also enjoy books that have locations I would like to visit. All of Nevada Barr’s books are like this. They take place in national parks. If I am going to visit a park, I will read her book that takes place in that park if there is one.

I think the more needs a book meets, the more people it will attract and satisfy. I suggest having an interesting location with a hero and heroine who have interesting occupations and who do hobbies that offer excitement (like skydiving) and who visit interesting people in homes and restaurants readers would love to visit. Do all this with a great story, get these features on the cover art, and you’ve got something many people will like, buy, and promote with power word-of-mouth advertising.

I’m looking forward to reading about the AW2 in your latest book.

Vince

Tina Radcliffe said...

Debby, this is so fascinating. Thanks for sharing this information and the history behind your book.

Jenny Blake said...

hi Debby, Yes I do like series and books that have causes and information in them. I remember one of Lyn Cote's on Habitat for Humanity and as I knew of the cause found it interesting. Another LIS was on CASA I think but children's advocates, I have looked up some that were relevant here also. I do like to learn more about these causes and think its a great way to get the word out. Even some books where they feature a medical condition and not always life threatening but things like MS, etc to bring them in the light and educate readers.
My neighbour makes quilts for Aussie hero quilts which is a voluntary group that makes quilts and laundry bags for Australian soldiers from all services mainly serving overseas or with the navy and its just a small way for them to get something special and know they are being thought off. I helped her sew up some of the laundry bags she made.
I was really impressed how service men and women are treated in America. We had a former Vietnam vet on our tour and it was amazing how many people thanked him. Also seeing them get early boarding on planes and just the respect. While we dont have a many here in Australia they dont get the same respect as I saw in America which is a shame (in the areas where they live and train it may be different but in general I dont see it as much not that we see many service people in my town)

Cindy W. said...

Having been raised in the military my heart is always extended not only to our servicemen and women but to the families as well. What an awesome way of introducing readers to the Wounded Warriors program Debby.

I love to read books that I can learn something from. I just finished a book that was set against the backdrop of the Great Chicago Fire. I really learned a lot of things I never knew. Sometimes after reading a book like that I do extended research. Love it!

I would love to be in your giveaway!

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

Jenny Blake said...

ps. please enter me.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Deb, I love how you bring issues to your books without pounding folks over the head with them. You weave them like a Navajo blanket and that's clutch to me when I read suspense...

I love that you're doing a signing to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project! Count me in! I'll call in my order and God bless you for all the sung... and un-sung... things you do.

Jackie said...

Hi Debby,

I'm so glad to learn about this program. And way to go to highlight them and the work they do.

I appreciate our military and people like Ann who help them.

I'm not published, but I keep writing. I've got a seed right now.

Have you ever received a "prescription discount card" in the mail that will save you as much as 75% on your medications. These circulate periodically. Anybody can put one out. And once you activate this card the people who made it get access to your drug information. You don't know these people. It could be a college kid in his basement. It could be somebody...here's my twist...who wants to steal drugs.
I mean how easy would that be.
They learn you take pain medicine. They have your name and address.
This is doable.
So I've just got to get my characters, theme, and plot to go with this. Ha! Maybe for NANO.

I'd love to hear your thoughts! Thanks!


Piper Huguley said...

Debby,

This is a great post. I did not know about the Wounded Warrior project and it is great that you are able to seamlessly weave awareness of this wonderful program into your work. It takes fiction writing to a whole new level. I started my series (and my blog) to bring out awareness of the historical moment of The Great Migration as the 100 year anniversary comes around. Some people say they are learning something, and that's a plus for me. A different way of teaching for me, I suppose!

Keep doing your wonderful work!

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, DEBBY! This is such an interesting behind-the-scenes look at your latest release and about this very special program for our Wounded Warriors. Thank you for sharing!

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Helen,
Glad you received the books!

Thanks for the orange juice! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Sandra,
Would love to hear more about your PTSD research. Did you call the VA? Interview someone in person? Give us details. Please. :)

Currently more than 50% of the wounded warriors in the AW2 program suffer from PTSD, either as their sole medical condition or in conjunction with another injury.

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Julie,
You're in the hat!

I mentioned the Wounded Warrior PROJECT--the charity--in my post because so many folks know about it, but my book revolves around the military's Wounded Warrior PROGRAM, which is the way the Army helps their injured. Although both the program and the project have similar names, they are different initiatives.

Debby Giusti said...

Morning Vince!

Yes, opportunity is the right word. Writers have the opportunity to include information about program/projects, etc. in their stories.

I thought of you, Vince, when I wrote this post. You always encourage us to provide new and interesting information for our readers. Thanks for reminding us of ways to bring more to the reader in our stories.

Also, I always think of your Rewards Per Page when I write. You are a voice for all readers. Hearing what readers like and don't like helps writers so thanks for all you do, Vince!

BTW, I'll be with a local book club on Sunday, discussing my last book. Should be a fun evening and a great way to get feedback from readers.

Interesting about Nevada Barr's books featuring state parks. I used to love reading James Michener's books and learned so much for each of them.

Debby Giusti said...

Tina, I often think of your book, The Rancher's Reunion, that included Huntington's Disease. You provided information about a terrible condition, showed the struggle family members go through wondering if they could have the disease, and then gave us a happily ever after that was real and satisfying.

A great story!

Kav said...

Hey Debby -- guess what I started reading this morning??????? I'm at the flat tire part. :-) And I have Glynna's and Ruthy's too so don't enter me in the draw.

I absolutely love learning facts in my fiction! My head is full of useful information gleaned from between the pages of a good book. And I find stories that incorporate real issues, causes, charities etc. inspiring.

I recently read one of Margaret Daley's new LI books 'Healing Hearts' -- the first in a series (Caring Canines) about service dogs. How cool is that? And Myra's done books centred around equine therapy. And Virginia Carmichael's LI Season of Joy which brought the reader into a downtown shelter...I know there's more but I've read more but those are the ones that spring to mind. I love when a book challenges me to look beyond my own experiences.

Debby Giusti said...

Jenny,

The Aussie Hero Quilts sounds like a wonderful project. I'm sure the soldiers love receiving a handmade bed covering or laundry bag. So nice you could take part in the program.

So many folks in the US reach out to soldiers. My son has had people pick up his check in restaurants, pat him on the back or shake hands and say how much they appreciate his service. Many companies offer military discounts, which help soldiers stretch their paychecks.

Times have changed since Vietnam. Regrettably in those days, the military was not warmly welcomed home.

Kav said...

Oops bungled that second last sentence but you get the drift. :-)

Debby Giusti said...

Cindy, share the name of the book that featured the Chicago Fire. A powerful backdrop to a story, no doubt.

I remember a book about the San Francisco earthquake...can't recall the title but the inforamtion about the fire that followed and the city's struggle to rebuild was fascinating.

You're in the drawing, Cindy! Thanks for supporting our military!

Debby Giusti said...

Waving to Jenny!

You're in the drawing. :)

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks, Ruthy, for supporting our military heroes!

You take up causes in your stories, which I love!

Rock on, sister! :)

Cindy Regnier said...

Sending military support from Kansas! I love when authors take up good causes in their books. I do believe the author must have a deep belief in that particular cause in order to write it well and touch other hearts for that cause. Obviously Debby believes in supporting our military. I truly hope we all do. My nephew Drew is a marine, btw.
Please enter me - great drawing! Thanks for the post Debby.

Jeanne T said...

Hi Debby, I love how God has given you personal knowledge for so many of your stories, and that you write about things that touch your heart.

I'm with Tina, it's great to learn the background behind a book. I haven't thought to include a cause as a part of a story. I love that idea. I'm so glad you shared this today!

Naomi Rawlings said...

Your story sounds really interesting, Debbie! Makes me want to go buy it. :-) And yes, I so love when novels also impart something important to us, like learning about the Wounded Warrior program, or I enjoyed Ruthy's LI novel where the heroine is a breast cancer survivor. I learn so much from things like that, and of course from historical novels that bring to light history in a new and exciting way. :-)

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, gosh, Deb ... not only do I think it takes more brain power to write a mystery like you do, but THEN to add all that incredible research and depth of subject matter ... boggles my mind!!

I cannot imagine the satisfaction you must get from exercising your talents in a manner that not only entertains and uplifts, but educates and broadens your readers as well. I am SO impressed!!

The Wounded Warrior program sounds absolutely WONDERFUL (like your books!!) and what an amazing and fulfilling job the advocates must have, to reach out to wounded soldiers.

You are SUCH a blessing, my friend, as an author, military support, and caring human being.

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

SANDRA SAID:

"I love research. Its my favorite part of writing."

OH ... COLD CHILLS!! I sure wish I felt that way, but unfortunately I don't. :( But I sure do admire those like you and Debby who write unique stories with unique plots/settings and bring them alive with your thorough research. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Hilton Steele said...

Thanks Debby for pointing out the difference. I am familiar with both and actually heard about the programs where soldiers are put back to work while they recover first, before the WW Project.

Someone finally figured out that the best way to help soldiers recover is to make them feel like they are still contributing members of the military.

Peace and thanks again,

Julie

Mia Ross said...

Debby, this is a wonderful program, well deserving of being profiled in your book. We know a couple of families affected by the dad's ongoing struggle with PTSD, and I admire their strength and courage. While I was writing Gift of Family, the hero stepped onto the page, still tortured by the military past he longed to forget. With patience, the heroine helped him accept that those experiences were part of who he was, giving him hope for the future.

I wrote that story as a tribute to the soliders and their families who sacrifice so much to make our world a safer place. I'm so glad you're doing the same.

Sherri Shackelford said...

Fascinating! Thank you so much for sharing.

Mia Ross said...

While I'm here, I don't think I've mentioned the Seekers and Seekervillagers I connected with at the RWA conference in Atlanta. Everywhere I went, from the book signing to workshops to the lobby, I saw familiar faces and got lots of warm, encouraging hugs.

You all took wonderful care of me, and I just wanted to say Thank You!

Elaine Manders said...

Hi Debby

I love suspense and mystery.

The motto of our town is "Everyday in Central Georgia is Armed Forces Appreciation Day." I'm so glad most Americans now appreciate our military.

As to finding teachable moments in research...I had a problem with the first book of my historical series. My hero was rich, arrogant, and in politics. I had to find some way to make him likeable. I made him a cowboy, which helped, but when I read the story of the Poncas Chief, Standing Bear, it fit perfectly. It happened at the right time and place for my hero to join the lobbyists who helped Standing Bear. They went to Washington and petitioned for Indians to be acknowledged as human beings.

In this research I learned that petitioning the government isn't reserved for paid lobbyists. If it hadn't been for advocates made up of ordinary people, slavery would never have become an issue, women would never have gained the vote, prohibition wouldn't have become law or been repealed, civil rights laws wouldn't have passed.

The right to petition our government for redress of grievances is one of our most basic freedoms, but due to complacency, we've turned everything over to professional politicians. Perhaps my book can show readers how this right is exercised and how powerful it can be.

Sorry to be so wordy. I'd like to win any of the books.

Janet Dean said...

Debby, I'm impressed with how you incorporate facts into your fiction. As a military wife and mother, you're exactly the right person to showcase the needs of the military and wounded warriors.

The Soldier's Sister was chock full of strong external and internal conflict between Stephanie and Brody. And lots of suspense! Great job!

The orphan train was the most interesting historical fact I've found in my research. The stories of orphaned/half orphaned immigrant children touched me and triggered two books.

Thanks to the Fort Bragg unit for serving us. No better way to start our day!

Janet

Myra Johnson said...

I loved your Wounded Warrior novel, Debby! Thanks for sharing how you learned about the program and developed your story idea.

I do enjoy novels that educate as well as entertain. I've tried to do that in my upcoming series "Till We Meet Again" for Abingdon Press. Researching WWI as well as my setting, Hot Springs, AR, turned up many interesting details.

Sometimes the tricky part is weaving in the facts naturally, so that they're inherent to the story and characters and don't come across as a class lecture. You do such a great job with this in all your military suspense novels!

Mary Connealy said...

Debby, I can't wait to read this. You bring so much insight to your work because the military is so close to your heart.
I have a niece in the Army and I know the price my brother and his wife pay to have their daughter serve. God bless you and your friend for these books.

Mary Connealy said...

VINCE I like what you said about 'not the responsibility but the opportunity' to write about this.

That's got a nice tone to it because we are blessed to get to talk about things we care about in our fiction.

Debby Giusti said...

Vince and all...

I was away from my computer for about an hour and kept thinking of the earlier discussion of "opportunity" versus "responsibility."

The word responsibility kept circling through my mind. So I'm throwing it out again.

As writers do we have a responsibility to highlight certain programs or problems or situations in our writing?

We've been given a gift. Shouldn't we use that gift for good? If we see a situation that is troublesome or needs to be spotlighted, shouldn't we use our gift to reveal that information or showcase a certain subject that needs attention?

Christian writers talk about the ministry aspect of writing in the inspirational genre. Is that not a responsibility they embrace?

Are there certain things you, as a writer, strive to do in your stories?

What about writing in general? Perhaps we've penned an article for a local paper, a newsletter for our church, a non-fiction work for a regional magazine. Do we have a responsibility to address situations that need attention in our local communities?

In this age of electronic mail, I find handwritten notes so very special. Can we effect change or impact people through our words of encouragement and support? If so, then isn't that a tool we should use?

Am I going off the deep end or does something resonate with you? Let me know. I'd love to have a discussion about the responsibility that comes with the gift of writing.

Courtney Faith said...

Oh yes, I like ones that educate. I do like some Amish stories (I recommend Leslie Gould) because I like learning about that lifestyle. And I love historicals because of the varying time periods.
As a writer who one day would like to be published (*grin*), I think that if God gives me the opportunity to have readers, then I should share Him in the stories.

Your book sounds good! Gotta love military stories!
Please enter me.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi DEBBY, It always amazes me that when I write a book the people I need appear. That tells me it is a God thing. But when I was writing Love's Miracles, I was spending the summer at Lake Tahoe where my folks lived and I visited a writer's group there. One of the writer's was a psychologist at the VA in Reno. So you can just imagine how invaluable she was.

Then before submitting the manuscript, I met a marine who read the male pov sections and alerted me to several things about Vietnam war. For example I had him "behind enemy lines" which I had heard evidently in war movies about WWII and he said there were no enemy lines to be behind. Subtle things like that. He also helped my hero sound like a marine in his dialogue.

Courtney Faith said...

I have a cousin who is a Marine stationed in Japan right now. I think America can always use more stories uplifting the military.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi VINCE, Thank you for your enthusiasm for PRICE OF VICTORY. And the plug. smile

My hubby joined a bicycle club that raced. He raced and it was at the staging grounds that I learned so much about racing. I also met several women pros who read the manuscript before I submitted and helped me with the racing language and events. l

How exciting that you learned about bicycle racing from reading my romance. smile

Debby Giusti said...

Jackie,

Love the plot you've shared for a suspense. I'm hooked so keep working on that story.

Plus, you're focusing on scams, which bilk so many--especially seniors who are often so trusting.

Aren't writers' minds amazing? You received something in the mail that immediately triggered your "what if" instincts and a story was born!

Keep us clued in as the plot takes shape!

Sandra Leesmith said...

DEBBY regarding your question. I heard that the concern for the humane treatment of animals evolved from the books written in England. Black Beauty comes to mind.

Also social awareness of the plight of homeless orphans evolved from Charles Dickens works.

Debby Giusti said...

Piper, look at all the good you're doing! And to tie your stories with an anniversary--especially a 100 year anniversary--is genius! Good for you!

Sending cyber hugs this gray Georgia day. Where's the sun? What happened to August?

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Glynna,

So glad we could team up for a three-book giveaway, along with Ruthy!

Annie Rains said...

Thank you for such a wonderful post! I work on Camp Lejeune and we have a wounded warriors unit here as well. The subject is very near and dear to my heart, and it's wonderful that you highlighted these soldiers in your story.

Debby Giusti said...

Kav wrote:
"I love when a book challenges me to look beyond my own experiences."

Such a lovely statement, Kav. Thanks for sharing the information you've injoyed in recent reads. Equine therapy, service dog programs and city shelters are great backdrops for stories that inform as well as entertain.

Thanks, Kav, for always supporting the Seekers!!! Your encouragement means so much!

Missy Tippens said...

Debby, I think it's amazing that you were able to do the interview for research. And also that you're able to bring to light these wonderful organizations!

I'm writing now, for my current LI story, about a program here in our county where at-risk kids are provided with backpacks full of food each Friday to get them through the weekend. I hope to draw attention to programs like it!

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Cindy,

God bless your marine nephew! Thank him for his service to our country. I pray for the military each day and will include Drew!

Yes, writers often feel strongly about the causes they include in their stories. At other times, they may want to learn more about a certain program or situation.

Jodi Picoult addresses big issues in her books. Has anyone read LONE WOLF based on the true story of a man who lived with wolves? Who knew? I didn't until I read her book.

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Jeanne,

I find having a story dovetail with a certain charity or need enhances the satisfaction I feel as a writer. Of course, not every story will address an issue or spotlight a special program.

I know you're busy planning the women's retreat, which is such a worthwhile endeavor. I'm sure the ladies who attend will be touched deeply because of your hard work.

Vince said...

Hi Debby:

I remember that book by Lyn Cote that Jenny mentioned. I can even see the cover in my mind. The hero and a little boy were on a construction site and there was a sawhorse in the picture. The hero was letting the little boy hammer nails so he would think he was helping build the house. (My father did the same thing for me on one of his construction sites!)

There are not too many romances I could recall this way in such detail. I think having a cause mentioned can make the book more memorable. This book however had a very strong 5-star story. It also featured a Hispanic heroine. I also think both the hero and heroine’s son had some kind of mental problems. I remember that this was a daring book by Lyn Cote at the time.

What surprised me about this book was that they used the real name of the cause: Habitat for Humanity. Often authors make up a similar name for the cause or organization but don’t use the real one. There may be liability problems using the real organization.

I think Mary Jane Virginia Hathaway Carmichael Munoz (the name is in there somewhere) did this for her Denver Homeless Mission in “Season of Joy”. That was a very good look at the inside workings of a downtown shelter mission. But I don’t think that shelter really exists under that name.

So what do you think?

Should authors use the real name of the cause or organization or should they use a fictional name? They can always give the names and addresses of real organizations in the ‘To The Reader’ comments at the back of the book.

Did Ruth and Margaret Daley use the real names of the causes mentioned in their books? I don’t know.

Vince

DISCLOSURE: I’m a big fan of Lyn Cote and my wife has this most beautiful wool shawl that Lyn Cote knitted. I might be biased. : )

P.S. Did anyone notice what book I'm reading in my picture? Is that apropos or not? I just noticed it myself. : )

Debby Giusti said...

Naomi,

Thanks for mentioning Ruthy's book about breast cancer. That story was near and dear to her heart. You may remember Ruthy's blog post about her sweet friend who was the inspiration for the story.

Ruthy's debut was another wonderful story that provided information about hospice nurses.

Debby Giusti said...

Naomi,
I failed to mention your reference to historicals.

YES! YES! YES! Love learning about the past through the historical stories I read.

Debby Giusti said...

Sweet Julie,
You have to research your wonderful stories set in the past. Yesteryear comes alive through your writing, with each detail so spot on! You probably enjoy historical research so much that you don't realize it's work! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Julie HS,

They do work when able, which does help in their recovery. Also, the Army retains the injured on active duty whenever possible.

You've probably heard of soldiers who have lost limbs and remain in the service...some even return to combat.

Tell us about the Wounded Warrior Project in your area. Is your church community associated with the weekend retreat?

I think KC has worked with them in TN. I believe Mary Connealy often sends books that are given to the wives who attend.

Would love more information!

Debby Giusti said...

Mia, thanks for all you've done for our military through your wonderful story: Gift of Family!

For too long, PTSD was a hush-hush topic. Often soldiers were fearful of seeking treatment, thinking it would reflect poorly on them. Fortunately, awareness has increased and soldiers are encouraged to seek help.

Sending cyber hugs and love! God bless our military heroes!

Debby Giusti said...

Waving to Sherri!

Always fun to see you in Seekerville.

Debby Giusti said...

Mia, we're all family in Seekerville! Wasn't it great to have a reunion at RWA?

More Seekerville fun on the horizon at ACFW!

Debby Giusti said...

Elaine,
I see a cause worth writing about! Good for you! Our freedoms seem to be eroding these days, which troubles me greatly. More voices are needed to spread the truth.

Thanks for sharing how research led you to create a strong hero for your story! Sounds like a book I'd like to read.

Love your town's motto! Macon, right? God bless the good citizens for their appreciation of our military. You've got me smiling and thinking sunshine even if the weather is overcast.

Debby Giusti said...

Janet, the orphan train has haunted me--but in a good way--since I read your book. Can't imagine how those little ones edured not knowing who would be waiting for them at the end of the ride. Makes my small daily frustrations seem so petty.

Debby Giusti said...

Myra, I'm eager for your new series to hit the book stores! I know you've done a wonderful job weaving in the right amount of information to make the story and setting come alive. That's a gift, for sure!

Vince said...

Hi Debby:

Hemingway said, “if you want to send a message use Western Union.”

The question about a writer’s responsibility seems to imply that writers are not meeting their responsibilities if they don’t mention causes or highlight social challenges in their books.

I think this idea overlooks how much good Christian writers are already doing.

In Christian writing the stories are wholesome. The values are strong. The reading is inspirational. The positive experiences shown are worth emulating. The message is life affirming. And all this is done without preaching to the reader (hopefully it is) and while giving the reader a ‘feel good’ reading experience.

If the reader strongly identifies with the heroine and she in real life is unappreciated and under loved, then she can enjoy the vicarious feeling of being loved and cherished that the heroine feels as the book is being read. I call these good feelings ‘emotional vitamins’ and I think they are as important for the heath of the spirit as material vitamins are for the wellbeing of the body.

In a way romance writers are mental heath workers. Christian romance writers are spiritual mental health workers as well. This is plenty of responsibility without also becoming social activists.

Vince

P.S. Julie: “Research is writer’s code for procrastination.”

Debby Giusti said...

Your niece is always on my heart, Mary. Her parents too. It is hard having a child deploy. The first time mine deployed he seemed so young, and I was worried, of course. Thank goodness for faith and prayer and the support of friends who remembered him daily in their prayers. We formed a spiritual shield around that boy that got him through the deployment and brought him safely home. Once he married, my dil and I would pray daily by phone for his protection. I continue to thank God for keeping him safe and lift up all those in harm's way.

Darlene Buchholz said...

Great post, Debby! Love that you were able to make contact with Ft. Benning in such a personal way. This shows in the passionate way you wrote The Soldier's Sister. As testimony to this fact, I gave a copy of this book to a friend who wasn't "into" romantic suspense but who found she could not put the book down. She told me she loved the book because of the realism of the characters.

The Wounded Warrior program is one of the best at rehabilitating our military heroes. Anything that brings attention to this cause is A-OK with me!

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Courtney,

Those Amish story have such a draw, don't they? Is it the simple life that attracts us?

Sharing God with readers is one of the blessings of writing in the inspirational genre. He's raising up his writers so keep working and keep visiting Seekerville. So many Villagers have published! We're always thrilled when someone sells!

Debby Giusti said...

Sandra,

Love those coincidences that are really GOD-incidents! You're right. It's as if the Lord is saying, "You're on track. Keep working."

How perfectly He gave you what you needed for your story. A VA psychologist and a marine willing to proof your hero's POV. Go God! Go you!

I'm loving the story even more now that I know how God was involved. :)

Hugs!

Debby Giusti said...

Prayers for your marine cousin, Courtney.

I lived in Japan for three years as a child. Do you know where he's stationed?

Debby Giusti said...

More God-incidents with PRICE OF VICTORY. Thanks for sharing, Sandra!

Debby Giusti said...

I didn't know changes came about because of Black Beauty! Love that story.

Charles Dickens' works are such classics. A TALE OF TWO CITIES remains one of my all-time favorites. The French Revolution, the guillotine...the rats in the sewers...

Debby Giusti said...

Annie, thanks for all you do for our military at Camp Lejeune!

I believe all the services have some type of wounded warrior program, although they may not bear the same name.

Debby Giusti said...

What a great program to write about, Missy!

Our church joined with two other area churches and provided lunches Mon-Fri this summer to 200+ children in an Atlanta trailer park. When school's in session, the kids get free lunch, but in the summer, they're on their own. It was a rewarding program for all those involved.

Can't wait to read your story! Do you have a working title?

Courtney Faith said...

Gotemba-shi, Shizuoka. If that is the right spelling.
He should be coming home in about ninety days. Well, home for him is Pennsylvania, not near me. But yeah, I'd appreciate prayers for him, especially that he'll come to know The Lord, if he doesn't know Him already.
Thank you!

Jan Drexler said...

Hi, Debby!

Your new book sounds wonderful - I can hardly wait to read it!

And I've been reading the whole responsibility/opportunity discussion with interest...but don't have an opinion yet. Food for thought!

I'd love to be included in the drawing :)

Debby Giusti said...

Vince, I took a closer look at your icon photo and had to smile! Then I enlarged the pic to see The Writer's Prayer and Prayer for Our Military on your wall! :)

Lyn Cote is a powerful writer. She knits too? How nice that your wife has a wool shawl Lyn made.

Lyn's Habitat book must have been amazing. Wonder if it's still available as an e-book? Is Shelter of Hope the title? I checked on Amazon and the cover is as you described.

IMHO, it's okay to use the actual name for a program or project if the author doesn't disparage or change the structure of the organization. If, however, the writer plans to shed a negative light on the program--even if subtle--or reformat the organization then a fictional name should be used.

Also if all the inner workings of a particular group aren't public, the author may decide to create her own program so she can make it fit her story.

I'd like to see what others say. Good question, Vince.

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

Hi Debby! Thanks for sharing about the program. I enjoy learning about ways to help our soldiers.

As for your questions, I do think writers have the opportunity to share what they know and bring causes to light. A writer doesn't have to, unless they feel convicted to do so.

I have learned a great many things through reading fiction, especially historical fiction. I often come across small tidbits of history that turn into an entire morning of reading on Wikipedia and other sites. After reading a story about Jewish children transported from the Czech Replublic to London to be fostered during WWII, and also of English children sent into the country from London to protect them from the Nazi air rides, I developed an entire side plot in a novel I'm developing. Those unsung heroes who saved thousands of children will have their stories retold.

Love to win any of the books, but I might be partial to The Soldier's Sister, since she has my name ;)

Sherida Stewart said...

Debby, I would answer "yes" that I enjoy reading novels which include information about important causes.

My father is a World War II wounded hero, so we know that helping those who serve our county is very important. He has been blessed by the kindness of many when they learn of his experience or see his disabled veteran license plate. Your "The Soldier's Sister" will enlighten many about the great organizations that help our wounded heroes and their families. Thank you!

I'm reading "The Colonel's Daughter" right now, with all its "what's going to happen next?" moments--love it! I look forward to reading your next book.

Debby Giusti said...

Vince wrote:
"In a way romance writers are mental heath workers. Christian romance writers are spiritual mental health workers as well."

Nicely said.

It is true that we often don't give enough create to the romance genre for uplifting readers and providing emotional satisfaction along with entertainment. Hopefully, inspirational romance provides a spiritual value, as you mentioned.

But let's go beyond fiction...

Since pen, paper, computers are tools we use, some quite effectively, do we have a responsibility to use those tools and our writing "gifted-ness" for good when we are confronted with injustice or a social wrong that needs to be corrected?

It's a hypothetical question, yet one that deserves some thought, IMO. Scripture tells us: To those to whom much is given, much is required. So if we are given the ability to communicate effectively through the written word, do we then have a responsibility to use that talent--that gift--to effect change?

Since it's a gray day in Georgia, I may have my head in the clouds, but I thought it might be an interesting topic to explore.

What's your take?

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks, Darlene, for your kind words and for giving my book to your friend. So glad she liked the story. :)

Debby Giusti said...

Courtney, we lived close to Yokohoma.

I'll be praying!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Deb, until you explained the difference and specified "Project" and Program, I had no idea it was two different things.

I think I just heard Wounded Warrior and my mind embraced one notion. How cool to see the actual program and then to see it supplemented by civilian appreciation.

Throw in some good old-fashioned MURDER, LOL!!!!

And we've got amazing story telling going on!!!

And thank you for the shout out for my September release!!! You rock, chickie!!!!

Debby Giusti said...

HI Jan,

I'm trying to decide where I stand too. If I see a wrong that needs to be addressed, isn't it my responsibility to do something to right that wrong? And if I can effect change by using the written word, shouldn't I do so?

Debby Giusti said...

Stephanie, love that you'll use the information you found about WWII in your story. So glad publishers are looking for WWI and WWII stories again.

I grew up reading Exodus, The Wall, Anne Frank's Diary, Hiding Place...love the stories that come from that time period.

Do you remember when I was trying to name my heroine last year? Fell in love with Stephanie! :)

So you're in the "opportunity" camp, along with Vince. Interesting!

Julie Hilton Steele said...

For a start:

http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/11/21/2499897/club-plans-outdoor-activities.html

http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/05/19/2904242/wounded-soldiers-vets-suit-up.html

http://nod.org/what_we_do/innovation_pilot_projects/wounded_warrior_careers_demonstration/news/?&page=20

The programs run the spectrum from competitive athletics to fall sports to jobs. Different organizations, different charities. There is also another organization in the area, Coming Home, that also builds homes for veterans, similiar to the WW Project.

Lots of good being done out there.

Peace, julie

Debby Giusti said...

God bless your dad, Sherida!

My father served in WWII as well. The greatest generation, right? What they endured!

Thanks for your kind words about my story!

Debby Giusti said...

Did you bring food, Ruthy?

I'm serving an All-American snack...

Apple pie! Ice cream! Sweet tea! Coke a cola!

Red, white and blue helium balloons for the kids!

Clowns!

Fireworks at dusk. BTW, our July Fourth fireworks were cancelled due to rain so we'll celebrate on August 30th. Won't that be fun!

Debby Giusti said...

YAY, for Raleigh and Durham! Your area of the country is doing great things for our wounded warriors. The Valor Games sound amazing. Plus, looks like you'll have a retreat center for WW Project retreats in a year or so. Wonderful, especially with nearby Fort Bragg. I'm sure lots of injured military are in the surrounding area.

Thanks for sending the links, Julie!

Debby Giusti said...

Julie, love the Coming Home organization that builds homes for the wounded. Sounds like a perfect backdrop for a contemporary romance!

Cara Lynn James said...

Hey, Debby, I'm really looking forward to reading The Soldier's Sister. I learned something new today -- I didn't know about the Wounded Warrior Program. I thought the Wounded Warrior Project was the only thing wounded vets had to help them. Both programs sound wonderful and very beneficial.

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Cara,
You're right. Both programs are so worthwhile and really help our wounded military heroes!

How's the weather in your part of the country? Still rainy?

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

Thanks for using my name, Debby! It actually means "crowned one," which totally went with my maiden name, Queen. My parents basically couldn't say no when they found that out...

Anne Frank had a huge impact on me growing up, and I've loved WWII ever since. The info I learned about the foster children is going to be used as the backstory for an old man in a contemporary story. Did you know some of those English children ended up being fostered in the U.S.? I thought that would be a great springboard for a story.

Have a great day!

Debby Giusti said...

Nice information that will add a wonderful richness to your story, Stephanie.

(Love the Crowned One and Queen connection. Smart parents!)

Ted Dekker wrote a contemporary novel that flashed back to the concentration camps. I loved that book. Wish I could remember the title. I found it totally captivating.

Mary Hicks said...

Debby, this is an interesting post. The wounded Warrior Program is a wonderful thing! Glad they have you as an advocate.
I enjoyed reading about your travels as a child. That must have been exciting.

I live about four miles from where I was born... I did escape to Texas for a while. :-)

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Mary,

I'm smiling at your escape to Texas. Haven't you been spotted around the country taking photographs?

Julie Lessman said...

DEBBY SAID: "You probably enjoy historical research so much that you don't realize it's work! :)"

UH, no. Most assuredly NO!! In fact I just spent (wasted) two hours researching the St. Francis Hotel in San Fran to try and get the stupid ballroom right, which took up all of one paragraph. Sigh.

But thanks for the kind words -- glad I can fool some of the readers some of the time ... ;)

Hugs,
Julie


Julie Lessman said...

VINCE SAID: "P.S. Julie: “Research is writer’s code for procrastination.”

LOL ... boy, you nailed THAT one, my friend!! Except not for me because I get in and get out of research as FAST as humanly possible.

Sigh. I think God may be snickering because heaven knows I'm in the wrong genre ... :|

Hugs,
Julie

Lyndee H said...

Hi Debby,
Congrats on the new book coming out. And you have been called to so many ministries. It's a blessing to know you and learn from your example.

Guess I need to save my pennies so I can buy all those Sept releases! Congrats Ruthy and Glynna,too!

Vince said...

Hi Debby:

I just completed a preliminary philosophical analysis of your moral question about whether we have a moral obligation or responsibility to use our God given talents to directly combat injustice.

I can find no sustaining argument that would support this assertion and in fact such a rule would appear to be immoral itself.

Would you compel a shoemaker to make free shoes for poor people who have no shoes if the shoemaker wanted to sell those same shoes to earn money to give to his church mission which will use that money to save the lives a starving Africans?

Do the Beatitudes say, “Thou must visit the sick? Thou must be meek? Thou must be a peacemaker?” Or do they say you will be blessed if you do these things? God has given us a choice in how we chooset to be blessed.

A famous heart surgeon could save the lives of many poor people if he would operate for free but he could also make enough money by going around the country promoting his book to hire ten surgeons to perform the same operations. Do you think God would require him to do the operations himself? Wouldn’t it be immoral to force the good doctor to indeed perform the operations himself and let the nine-tenths of the other patients die?

Our moral worthiness should be based on our actions as individuals and not on the specific use of our God given talents.

Ask yourself: Would God want the shoemaker to save the lives of the starving Africans or save the soles of shoeless Americans?

Of course, God would be for the greater good.

Therefore, I find no moral obligation or responsibility for a writer to use in-kind writing talents to fight injustice. The moral imperative is to be a good human being and there are many ways to do this.

Sorry if I made your day even grayer. With philosophy there are more than fifty shades of gray. And none are as interesting as romantic fiction.

Vince

CatMom said...

Thank you for sharing this today, sweet Debby. Just yesterday I mailed a gift to the Wounded Warrior Project, and am now even more eager to learn more about this wonderful program. Personally I don't think we can do enough to thank and show support for our military men and women--God bless them all! (I have a nephew deployed to Saudi Arabia right now)

Cannot wait to read your book (if I can't attend the signing in person I'll be ordering some copies *smile*).

I think it's great you went to Ft. Benning to do your research--Wow! Your book will not only entertain readers, but also help raise more awareness for this worthwhile cause.

Since I'm later chiming in today (been on the go!) I'm bringing a warm peach cobbler--just took it out of the oven. ~ For those who prefer a salty snack, I've brought some snack mix with Georgia peanuts and pecans--Enjoy!

Hugs, Patti Jo :)

llmarmalade said...

This discussion is so Intresting. While I agree that is is often important to include some social cause in your writing I also think that it should be shown through basic Christian living. Characters should'nt just be tied to a cause but should be teaching, preaching( not nessasaryly as a pastor) and most of all generous with time and money to individual people. If we spend so much time on one cause then we can lose sight of the everyday aspect of living. You can never bring out one individual cause but have your book be filled with many acts of Christian Charity and still be just a good as one who is always pointing out one work. That's just my two cents.:)
I have featured a charity, Socks for Soldiers Inc, in one story. It was a lot of fun to write.
Elizabeth

Debby Giusti said...

How facinating, Julie! The St. Francis was THE hotel in its day. Were you able to find pictures that date back to the time period of your current WIP?

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Sweet Lyndee!

You made my heart smile! :)

Sending hugs and love.

Debby Giusti said...

Vince, you answered the question that has plagued me today.

I agree with your philosophical analysis and reasoning!

So I don't have to get up on a soapbox! That's reassuring.

Thank you!

Did I mention that I love your screen icon photo? :)

Debby Giusti said...

Vince...

This evening the sun is shining! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Patti Jo,
Thanks for honoring our warriors with your gift!

Thanks for honoring us with your peach cobbler and snack mix.

May I have a little of each, please?

Debby Giusti said...

Elizabeth, thanks for highlighting the Socks for Soldiers program! Good for you.

Plus, I love your mention of the balanced life and showing by example. So well said.

Thanks for being with us!

BTW, my father who was a company commander in WWII made his soldiers turn in their dirty socks before they got their chow. That way he knew they'd changed their socks.

Their feet would sweat, and the socks would get wet. During the brutal winters, if the men didn't change them, they'd suffer from frostbite.

Although the men didn't want to take off their boots in the cold, the chow was more important than their momentary discomfort and probably saved them from serious complications due to the cold.

Jackie said...

Hi Debby,

Thanks for the encouragement on my story idea.

I'd love to have my name tossed in the hat.

Are you going to Indy? I can't believe it's so close.

Take care!

Debby Giusti said...

ACFW? YES!

See you there!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Vince, dagnabbit, that's smart and true and I almost would have jumped on the other side of the bandwagon... but you made me see both sides of the issue and that's a rare talent.

I think I will give you some virtual Allegany Maple Fudge for being so smart.

And DEB!!!! I love the fireworks, that fountain blast looked like it was lighting up that glorious moon!!!!

Wonderful!!!!

Marilyn Baxter said...

Great post, Debby. It's wonderful when you can tell an engaging story AND highlight a good cause. I've been playing around with a story featuring a soldier with PTSD (also a huge problem) and a heroine who is a licensed massage therapist who also works with Reiki. We studied Reiki in our Thursday night book group at church and it's fascinating. I've read where several veterans hospitals are starting to include massage and Reiki in their PTSD treatment programs along with counseling and drug therapies.

Debby Giusti said...

Vince is very smart, Ruthy.

Pass the fudge, please. :)

Debby Giusti said...

Marilyn,
Sounds like a good combination for your story! You're right. PTSD is a huge problem.

I don't know much about Reiki. Will have to read your story! :)

Helen Gray said...

Came home from church and had to catch up on reading comments.

Debby, since you're having fireworks and red, whit, & blue balloons--I thought it only appropriate to dig out my trumpet to do the national anthem.

My youngest son receives a partial disability for back problems developed during war zone deployment. So appreciate your support of our military.

Mary Curry said...

Debby,

I'm so sorry I missed all the conversation today. This is a topic dear to my heart and I'm so looking forward to your book. Thank you for providing a way we can order it and benefit the AW2.

Mary Preston said...

Such a wonderful post thank you. I love & appreciate a story that not only entertains me, but teaches me something new too.

Debby Giusti said...

Helen,
Sorry about your son's injury. God bless him and special thanks for his service to our country!

Thank you, Helen, for playing the National Anthem...the perfect ending to a lovely day in Seekerville!

Debby Giusti said...

Waving to Mary Curry and Mary Preston! Thanks for your support of our military and of Seekerville!

Michelle Fidler said...

Please enter me in the drawing.