Wednesday, October 15, 2008



By Debby Giusti


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’m thrilled to announce the launch of COUNTDOWN TO DEATH, the first book in my Magnolia Medical series, which is in bookstores today. PROTECTING HER CHILD will follow in May 2009, and I’m currently working on book three.

In each Magnolia Medical story, you’ll meet laboratory professionals on the cutting edge of medical breakthroughs. Battling killer diseases in the lab, they also face human enemies who threaten them and the people they love.

A funny thing happened at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference when I was chatting with an editor from another publishing house. He asked how I came up with the idea for COUNTDOWN TO DEATH so I explained my background as a medical technologist and the years I wrote for professional medical journals.

When I mentioned creating a large medical laboratory complex in Atlanta, his eyes widened, and he stepped closer enthralled with what I was saying. Too enthralled. “Magnolia Medical is a fictional lab complex,” I quickly added. He smiled rather sheepishly and let out a lungful of air. “Yeah, right.” Of course, he thought I was talking about a real lab.

For writers, the lines between reality and fiction overlap. And that's good. But sometimes detours interrupt our writing journey, and we become discouraged. Yet often what we envision as taking us off track may be the fuel that feeds our forward progression toward publication.

Looking back, I now realize the professional articles I wrote over the years laid the groundwork for the Magnolia Medical stories I’m creating today. The research I did and the contacts I made, as well as the attention to detail needed in technical writing, helped me develop medical plots that serve as backdrops for my current heroes and heroines.

When we incorporate facets from our own lives into our work, we create authentic stories that resonate with readers. In drawing from our past, seemingly inconsequential aspects of our lives weave their way into our pages, embellishing our work. In order for our writing to truly soar, we need to live life to the fullest, embracing every opportunity that comes our way.

Now think of the stories you yearn to write. How will elements from your past play into those tales? In what way will the life you’re living today impact the stories you’ll write in the future?

Happy writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings!
Debby Giusti
Visit me online at
Blog with me each Wednesday at


  1. Deb, this is so true. No incident in life leaves us unchanged. Using what we know, do and experience to reach a reader should come as naturally as breathing to an author.

    Except sometimes we lose our breath, LOL!

    Great post and I can't wait to read Countdown to Death. I love medical thrillers. Hospital and lab settings. Yummy heroes.


    Hey, gals, coffee bar's open. Lots of good stuff over there today. I know we've got some of Ann's delicious Kona. I sent some vanilla bisciotti and there's a rack full of those to-die-for peanut butter cookies with chocolate middles.

    NOT Hershey's kisses. They get too hard and tumble out in one bite. No, this is Ruthy's wonderful dark chocolate frosting swirled into the crevices of each thumbprint.



  2. Ruthy, you're the hostess with the mostess. So thankful cyber calories don't count! :D

    Debby, I love medical thrillers. Can't wait to read yours! I've noticed how incidents in my past will creep into my writing. In some ways, it's very therapeutic. Sometimes my family or friends will say, "this better not end up in one of your novels." To which, I simply shrug...never know. :D

  3. Debby, I love that story about the agent! Your pitch must've been fantastic. Can't wait to read this.

  4. Ruthy,
    You're up early! Thanks for baking and making the coffee!!! Smells wonderful!

  5. Lisa,
    As writers, we use everything, don't we? Snippets of conversation, the view from our bedroom window, how we feel seeing the moon's reflection on a neighborhood pond. Of course, we filter reality through our fictional mind's eye and hopefully end up with something fresh and new.

  6. So true that nothing is wasted for a writer. Even the smallest details we can glean from a location, a conversation, a situation, or an experience. Congratulations on another book coming out, Debby! It sounds like a perfect fit for you. I'll be at a bookstore this week, so will soon have it in my hands!

  7. I agree with the others that everything in a writer's life (good or bad) will eventually turn up in a book or story.

    I can't think far enough ahead this morning to begin to name what that may be though LOL!

    Very interesting post.

  8. Hi Chicki! Always great seeing you in Seekerville!

  9. Hi Debby, Congrats on another great suspense coming into the bookstores. I'll look for it. smile.

    I really laughed at the reaction of the agent. Proves what a great storyteller you are.

    Thanks for encouraging us to use our own experiences. We often tend to think of our own lives as mundane, but they can be exciting to someone else.

    Happy writing back.

  10. Come now, Sandra, don't you think "exciting" is kind of a stretch? :)

  11. Debby, I just found Countdown to Death yesterday at Ingles and bought it!! I'm so excited to see it. Love the cover!

    Now if I can just figure out a way to take my microbiology background and put it in my sweet, small-town stories. :)

    Maybe I should take a pen name and write stories of murder, madness and death by terrible diseases. :)

    Great post! I do draw on hurts from my past to help with drawing up characters. Sometimes we just have to extrapolate and use the basic feelings and put them into different situations.


  12. Congratulations on your new book, Debby!

    Even if we don't think of our own lives as very exciting, if we're really living life, we should have mountains of material to draw on. Which is another important reason NOT to bury our noses in our computers for hours on end, but to get out in the real world now and then. "Real" jobs, volunteer work, taking a class just for fun--you never know what will spark an idea for an intriguing scene, plot point, or even a whole book.

  13. Hey, the CDC is in Atlanta! So the editor wasn't too far off! :)

  14. Great, great post, Debby!! You are so right about writing situations you know something about to make the pages come alive.

    I don't know how many times I've tried writing something set somewhere I've never visited, or using occupations I don't jive with and have the entire writing experience become an exercise in futility.

    You stick with Medical Suspense, I'll stick with cowboys : )

    I love your suspenses and am so thrilled there are many more coming!

    Blessings you, girlfriend!!

  15. Hey Debby! Enjoyed your post today (AND Ruthy's thumbprint cookies - YUM!). It was great meeting you at the ACFW and your friend Darlene were so nice to me. ~ I'm really looking forward to reading your books! Blessings,
    Patti Jo (from

  16. Congratulations on launching Countdown to Death!

    I didn't realize when I became a high school history teacher how my love of history would fuel my love of writing historical fiction.

    It's all grist to the mill, isn't it?

  17. Hey Deb, you have me chomping at the bit to read Countdown to Death (love that title, by the way!). I already know from having read your other books that I will love this one too!


  18. Hi Debby. Congratulations on your new release. I'll be picking up 2 copies when I see you at the Southern Magic Readers Luncheon.

    I keep a notebook with me at all times. I never know when I will see or hear something interesting that could be useful later. It might not fit in with my WIP at the time, but possibly in the next. And in my case if I don't write it down, I won't remember it. :)

  19. Oh, great subject, Debby! And I really enjoyed meeting you at the conference, too. I regretted not getting to talk to you more. Us Bama people have to stick together.

    Similar to your experience, I got a chance at the conference to explain to an editor that I used the real-life medieval town in Germany, Hildesheim, as the basis for the fictional walled town in my book. I spent one summer there when I was still in college and fell in love with the ancient buildings in the authentic medieval marketplace, and the medieval wall, the old churches, the history. I explained to another editor about how romantic I think medieval settings can be, with the castles and the walled cities and the betrothals to people you've never met before, the knights and dukes and lords and ladies, etc. Both editors seemed enthralled with my excited explanations. I guess not everybody has been to a medieval European town, but I can take them there! I hope they want to go! I never thought this out ahead of time, but I did use my experience to write my novel.

  20. Oh, and in case you didn't know, Debby's book, Countdown to Death, was picked as one of the books of the month for November at the ACFW Book Club, so if you're not a member you need to join so you can get in on the discussion next month. Give Debby your support!

  21. Hi Glynna,
    I had a meeting this AM and just got home!!! Hate to be away from Seekerville when I post.

    You're right about using the smallest details that perhaps others would see as inconsequential. In the hands of a writer, those small details can become the next scene of our WIP!

  22. Hi Pam,
    You logged on at 5 AM!!! My mind doesn't work that early!!! :)

    Hope you got a cup of Ruth's coffee!

  23. Sandra,
    Turning the mundane into the profound is the trick, isn't it?

    When we look through our writer's eye, we pick out the lessons we've learned in our day to day living and then create stories that reveal those same truths through our characters.

  24. Hi Missy! You're so sweet! Thanks for buying COUNTDOWN!!!

    When Missy and I did a workshop together at M&M a couple weeks ago, both of our bios included our laboratory backgrounds. Maybe we should do a program called "Goals, Motivation and Conflict within the Clinical Laboratory!" :)

    You mentioned using past hurts in your current work. Great point. Remembering painful situations in our past helps us write with authenticity about our character's struggles.

  25. Myra, you're so right. When I don't get out "into the world," my writing suffers. A vacation, a day shopping, a lunch with friends always helps my creativity.

  26. Audra, I feel the same as you. I need to know a subject firsthand before I write about it.

    Cowboys? I wouldn't know where to start. I'd probably have them riding sidesaddle! :)

  27. Hi Catmom, AKA Patti Jo! Great seeing you at ACFW!!! We GA girls have to stick together, right? :)

  28. Erica! You've nailed it -- the history you studied and know so well makes your stories unique and special.

    We're all gifted in certain ways, and those gifts determine the type of stories we're best suited to write.

  29. Hi Julie,
    Aren't you in the middle of a deadline? Thanks for stopping by! Thanks for your nice words about my writing too! Ditto back to you! :)

  30. Hi Sherry,
    Looking forward to seeing you at the Southern Magic Readers Lunch on Nov 1st! (Shameless plug for the event. It's always fun so if you live near Birmingham, AL, considering joining Sherry and me for the afternoon.)

    Good for you carrying a notebook! And writing down what you hear and see that could be used in your stories. Too many times, I've thought I'd remember something only to end up going, "What was that line of dialogue?"

  31. Thanks, Melanie, for mentioning the ACFW Book Club!

    Okay, where's Hildesheim? I lived in Germany for three years, and the town sounds so familiar. I lived in Aschaffenburg, about an hour south-east of Frankfurt and not too far from Rottenburg -- another beautiful walled medieval city.

    Perfect example, Melanie, of writing what you know!

  32. Hildesheim is near the Harz Mountains, not far from Hannover, north-northeast of Frankfurt. I get a pang of longing just thinking about those old buildings!

  33. My hubby and I have been back twice since we lived there, and we're ready for another trip. Only I want to stay for a month or so. So much history . . . so much beauty!

  34. I hope I can go back some day and call it a working trip! Hey, I need to go--for research!

  35. Let's get a writer's research tour lined up! Now wouldn't that be fun?

  36. Hi, Debbie, I'm so excited about this new series. It's a perfect match for you.

    I've had my family say, after readingmy books that usually they can just forget that mom/sister/wife wrote it, but once in a while I'll write something and they'll think, "Oh, yeah, that sounds like her."
    So I do weave real life into my work, only of course, if real life isn't working for me I just go off on tangent at will.
    That's why they call it FICTION

  37. So, Mare, like you didn't live in a cave with five wild little boys and their widower father? :)
    I'm lovin' CALICO CANYON. It's a hoot and has me laughing each night when I snuggle into bed and get to read a few more pages. Such a fun story!

  38. Oh my. Real life. Nuf said.


    Seriously, Deb, we put a lot more of ourselves in these books than we realize, don't we?

    Great post!

  39. Ruthy, have you ever thought about writing a food column? You'd be awesome at it!

  40. Hi Pam,
    Bet you just got home from work! Thanks for stopping by after a long day on the job.

    Ruthy's coffee bar always makes my mouth water! A food column would be perfect! Or a mystery series with a chef as the amateur sleuth.

  41. Just got back from Wal-Mart a bit ago, and I now have my own personal copy of Countdown to Death. Can't wait to read it!

  42. Actually, I'm still at work. Just ordered pizza (it ain't virtual either) and am going to research bride dowrys in Biblical times, then go home.

    Internet's faster here. lol

    Oh, Ruthy, a French chef murder mystery??? You could do that, mon ami!

  43. Deb,

    You are filled with such wisdom. I'm always amazed and enlightened by things you say.

    I hadn't thought about it until your post but my medical background also laid the groundwork for the PJ series I'm writing. They are military rescuers but they are also paramedics. That aspect of my research is easy at least. LOL!

    You Magnolia Medical series sounds SO interesting. I can't wait to dive in to Countdown plus the others! I hope this will be a long running series. I love medical dramas.

    Great always.


  44. ...By the way...where's the Half-n-Half for the coffee?

    Cheryl-the creamer fanatic

  45. I spent time today researching Amnesty or pardons for army deserters



    I think it's fair to say that neither of this comes from my real life...much.

    Did you know that one man popularized the lobotomy? He did so many of this it's horrifying. Such sick reading. And pictures. God have MERCY there are pictures.

    He was finally stopped from doing them when ... while performing his THIRD lobotomy on some poor woman, she died. He killed many, many poeple.

    Including one who died when he inserted his lobotomy tool into her brain...the lobotomy tool was an ICE PICK that he hammered through the bones just above the eyeballs, wiggled around, and pulled back out...and stepped away from the patient so he could TAKE A PICTURE of what the patient looked like with the ice pick inserted.

    Ewwwwwwwwww. This guy was a serious monster. He had cameras and spectators in with him. Didn't sterilize anything. He'd have his asistance TIME HIM to see if he could beat his best time doing a lobotomy.
    And they did them on people in mental institutions, but they also did them on unruly children sometimes.

    Anyway, sick. I prefer bride dowreys I think.

  46. Oops, didn't finish the horror story.

    The Dr. stepped away from the patient so he could TAKE A PICTURE of what the patient looked like with the ice pick inserted. And while he stepped away the ice pick sank deep into the patients brain and stabbed into something vital, killing the patient.

  47. Pizza, Pam? Sounds better than the leftovers I served tonight. Got any extra slices to pass around?

  48. Nurse Cheryl! Aren't members of your family former-military folks? That's another connection!

  49. Yikes, Mary! What year are you talking about? 1985? No really, how far back are you researching? Can you imagine how ghastly medicine had to have been in the past? Oh my aching head!!!

  50. Mary, your descriptions leave LITTLE to the imagination. Ewwwww!

  51. Hey Seekers,

    I've given your blog an award on my blog!

    Check it out!


  52. Audra,
    Let's make sure no one gives Mary an ice pick! She might try to do a little research!

  53. The cows got out at 2 a.m. Saturday. On the road. At that time, 20 black Angus looked like 200 with glowing space-alien eyes.

    As we drove them through the neighbor's "wildlife patch" (also known as briers, poison ivy and ground hog holes)I kept thinking about the sounds, the stars, the yellow moon, the mosquitoes, the poison ivy ... and thinking only a writer would think there was anything to gain from this.

    Until I read about ice-pick lobotomies adn I'm thinking I'll stick wiht livestock. *shivers*

  54. Thanks, Pamela! But I couldn't find it. Which of your blogs?


  55. LOL, Ann! Well, you'll have to use it in a story, especially if you turn up with poison ivy! :)


  56. Debby, so sorry I missed your wonderful post yesterday. How true that everything we write comes from what we've experienced and who we are. By living life to the fullest as you recommend, we'll not only have new experiences to bring to our writing, but we'll be re-energized.

    Countdown to Death sounds fabulous! I can't wait to read it!