Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Author Spotlight: Judge Glenda Hatchett and Dare to Take Charge

For nearly ten years, Judge Glenda Hatchett has delighted TV audiences with a brand of justice that turns the everyday into something eminently watchable.

Her message can be distilled into the following two words: Dare Yourself. Whatever obstacles or fears one faces, Judge Hatchett’s prescription implores readers to write their own story in this life. With care and conviction, Judge Hatchett uses real life stories from the courtroom and her personal life to counsel readers. Shows them how to find their true purpose and gifts, to be real about their reality and its potential outside of challenging circumstances, and to always be true to themselves.

Interactive as well as inspirational, Dare to Take Charge challenges the reader to ask self-reflective questions that lead to moments of self-discovery and a defined pathway to healing. Daring her audience to study the positive with the same interest and intensity that they study the negative, Judge Hatchett uncovers the potential for grace and success in lives that are now punctuated with despair and unfaithfulness.

Read the Reviews!

"Judge Hatchett's book, DARE TO TAKE CHARGE, is a primer of common sense loaded with inspirational stories and cautionary tales aimed at folks interested in changing patterns in their lives. It is a personal guidebook from a very wise woman on how to take step one and step one hundred. It comes at exactly the right time in our tough economy." (Geraldine Laybourne, co-founder and former CEO/Chairman of Oxygen Media )

"Glenda does a wonderful job of blending her own inspirational journey with the stories of those who have appeared in her courtroom. Clear, practical, and daring suggestions. Exactly what we need right now." (Robin R. Roberts, co-anchor, Good Morning America )

"Glenda Hatchett has done it again! Energizing and potent, DARE TO TAKE CHARGE is a treasury of inspiring stories, insight and wisdom that helps us get unstuck and navigate the journey to emotional growth and joy. The Judge's ready guide is worth a hundred times the price." (Susan L. Taylor, editor-in-chief emeritus, Essence magazine; founder and CEO, National CARES Mentoring movement )

"An amazing book by an amazing woman, with amazing stories and experiences from her amazing life and career. Judge Hatchett shows you how to dare to take charge of your life. I dare you to read this book. It will amaze." (Robert Allen, author of the New York Times bestsellers Creating Wealth, Multiple Streams of Income, and The One Minute Millionaire )

After graduating from Emory University School of Law and completing a coveted clerkship in the U.S. Federal Courts, Glenda Hatchett accepted a position at Delta Air Lines, as the company’s highest-ranking African-American woman. She served in dual roles as a senior attorney for Delta, litigating cases in federal courts throughout the country, and Manager of Public Relations, supervising global crisis management, and media relations for all of Europe, Asia and the United States. In fact, her outstanding contributions were recognized by Ebony Magazine, which named Glenda Hatchett one of the “100 Best and Brightest Women in Corporate America.” She made the difficult decision to leave Delta Air Lines in order to accept an appointment as Chief Presiding Judge of the Fulton County, Georgia Juvenile Court.

Upon accepting the position, Glenda Hatchett became Georgia’s first African-American Chief Presiding Judge of a state court and the department head of one of the largest juvenile court systems in the country. Glenda Hatchett is a graduate of Mt. Holyoke College and has been recognized as a distinguished alumni and awarded an honorary degree by the college. She also attended Emory University School of Law and because of her commitment to excellence and service within the community, Glenda was awarded the Emory Medal, the highest award given to an alum by the university. Currently, Glenda Hatchett presides over the syndicated show, “Judge Hatchett” currently in its 8th season (Sony Pictures Television), and is author of the national best-seller, “Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say” (HarperCollins). She has previously served on the Board of Directors of Gap, Inc. the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), and The Service Master Company.

Presently, Glenda Hatchett is a board member of the Atlanta Falcons Football Organization and serves on the Board of Advisors for Play Pumps International. She also serves on the Boys and Girls Clubs of America National Board of Governors and she resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her two sons.

Her latest book is Dare to Take Charge: How to Live Your Life on Purpose.

You can visit her website at

Author Spotlight: Deborah Duda and Coming Home

Inspired by a personal meeting with Mother Teresa, Deborah Duda provides a step-by-step guide to the physical, legal and spiritual aspects of serving as a caregiver in the fourth edition of acclaimed book, Coming Home: A Practical and Compassionate Guide to Caring for a Dying Loved One.
Coming Home will provide you with information, inspiration, and sensitive yet straightforward answers to questions such as:
  • Can I handle a home death?
  • How do I deal with my grief?
  • Can we afford to stay at home?
  • Can I give an injection?
  • Can pain be controlled at home?
  • How do I prevent bedsores?
  • How can I fi nd meaning in the dying process?
  • What do I need to know about legal issues?

First published in 1981, this groundbreaking step-by-step guide has been used to train hospice staff and volunteers for over two decades. Like a supportive friend sitting with you at the kitchen table, Deborah Duda helps you to create an experience that makes your loved one’s final weeks as comfortable and meaningful as possible.

Deborah Duda has participated in the home deaths of her father, mother, two close friends and many others. She has delivered lectures and held workshops nationwide on caring for dying loved ones. After her experiences with Mother Teresa and earning her master’s in psychology, Duda began working as a family therapist to the terminally ill and their families and as a coordinator for FEMA’s mental health recovery program. She has also volunteered her time serving on the board of directors for the Kauai Hospice and the Kauai AIDS Foundation.

You can visit Deborah online at

Giveaway for Love Turns the Tide by Gail Pallotta at Linda Weaver Clarke's Blog

Well, it's been a while since I've shared one of Linda's giveaways with you. Book promotion for Little Shepherd is keeping me very busy. I hope, however, that you are checking Linda's blog once a week because she's always running a giveaway.

This week she is giving away a copy of Love Turns the Tide by Gail Pallotta.

Cammie O'Shea faces a traumatic split-up with her fiance and has to leave her family and friends to take a job in Destin, Florida. Heartbroken and alone in a place where she knows no one, she needs God more now than she ever has. But, for some reason she can't explain she feels more estranged from him. A feature writer, she dreads meeting her new boss, the editor of The Sun Dial newspaper. However, her real source of angst turns out to be Vic Deleona, the influential real estate developer she must write about to generate interest in the paper. While she refuses to open herself to another painful relationship he attempts to court her. Even though she sees him as pompous she goes out of her way to maintain a good business relationship. Then, break-ins occur at her friend's condo and her unit. However, Vic comes to their rescue. He even launches his own investigation into the crimes, and Cammie sees a different side of him. But, she gets an offer to return home to her old job. Will Vic find the perpetrator and win Cammie's heart, or will she leave Destin?

Doesn't this book sound wonderful? I sure want to read it.

So, how can you win a copy of Love Turns the Tide? Visit Linda's blog by clicking here. Then leave a comment with your email address.

Deadline is October 4th, so stop in now! By the way, Linda's blog has a brand new look, so check it out.

Gail grew up in a small town at the foothills of the North Carolina mountains. The granddaughter of a minister and niece of several English teachers, she inherited their interests in storytelling along with her mother's love of people. Her first writing appeared in a grammar school newspaper she and a friend put out about their classmates. Much later at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C., she enrolled in the college's first professional writing class, placing several poems in the literary magazine and one in The Anthology of American Poetry, published by Royal Publishing Company in Dallas, Texas.

After graduation she worked in Atlanta, Georgia, as an editor and copywriter until she married and started helping her husband, Rick, with his business. In her spare time she wrote freelance articles, most of them about people; others, historical. While some were selected for anthologies two historical pieces she wrote ended up in museums. After being nudged by others to do more with her writing Gail published her first book, Now Is The Time, a Christian novel. In 2004, the year it was released, The American Christian Writers Association named her a regional Writer of the Year. She also has been listed in Who's Who in Writers, Editors and Poets; Who's Who in the South and Southwest; Cambridge Dictionary of International Biography; and The World Who's Who of Women. Married for thirty-eight years, she and Rick live in Georgia. When Gail isn't writing, she enjoys swimming, reading, traveling, and visiting friends and relatives.

Visit Gail online at

Monday, September 27, 2010

Join Me Tonight as a Guest on Red River Radio - A Good Story is A Good Story

Join me tonight when I am a guest on Red River Radio - A Good Story is a Good Story. The show begins at 9 PM Eastern/8 PM Central. I'll be talking about the release of my first children's picture book, Little Shepherd, and about promoting your book online through virtual book tours.

Marsha Cook, President of Marcus Bryan and Associates Michigan Avenue Media and Marcus Maxwell Inc., will be joined by her co-hosts Freda Roberts and Virginia Grenier. Freda is a writer and creator of Literary Lounge on Facebook. Virginia is the Founder and Owner of Stories for Children Publishing LLC. She is also an author and editor and writes a successful blog as well as an online magazine.

Join in the fun either by phone or online. The call in number is  (646) 595-4478. I'll be dialing in around 9:20 PM Eastern. Hope to hear from some of you!

Book Preview: All's Fair in Love and Law by K.M. Daughters

Coming in December 2010, the Sullivans return in the fourth installment of The Sullivan Boys series by writing team K.M. Daughters!

The senseless death of their brother-in-law, Mike Lynch, has left the Sullivan boys reeling. Still coping with the death of their brother, Jimmy, they are pulling together to help their sister Kay deal with the loss of her husband as she slips into depression.

During an outing with Kay's twin girls, Patrick Sullivan, a new captain at the Chicago Police Department, comes face-to-face with a woman who gets his body tingling all over. Little does he know he'll see this woman again all too soon--in the courtroom.

C.J. Demarco, also known as, Charlie, is a shining star of a defense attorney at Schotz, Pearson and Freemont. When she gets a perp off on a technicality, Patrick's department isn't looking too good and he has to answer for it to the media. But he has much bigger issues to deal with. Someone is brutally killing prostitutes and dumping them in the trash in the city's alleys. The Garbage Man Murderer case is going  to take all of Pat's limited resources to nail; not an easy task considering the recent budget cuts.

Despite working on seemingly opposite sides of the law, Charlie and Pat can't deny their attraction to each other. When Charlie is set to defend a high-profile case, Pat can't believe she would be involved in trying to get such a creep off. But Charlie isn't about to reveal why she does the type of work she does or the reason getting too involved with Pat scares the hell out of her. Their budding romance is threatened. And for Charlie, one mistake, could be a fatal one.

In one word, this book is, "Awesome!" I have loved this series from the get-go and each book keeps drawing me in. The Sullivan Boys series blends intriguing plots, complex characters, and loads of conflict to keep you turning page after page.

In All's Fair in Love and Law, a new Sullivan brother takes the spotlight. Patrick is definitely the type of hero every woman has been waiting for. Strong, sexy, and with a deep sense of right and wrong, Pat isn't the kind of guy to abuse the law. He hasn't exactly been looking for the perfect woman, but she finds him, and he's totally captivated by the alluring defense attorney who is part teddy bear, part barracuda.

K.M. Daughters proves over and again that they have mastered the art of storytelling. I can't put one of their books down, despite the late hour, despite the fact that I'm facing an early morning with my kids, despite knowing I'll be sitting at my desk gulping caffeinated soda the next day just to stay awake at my PC.

The cover art on this one isn't my favorite, but I'm willing to forgive that because the story is superb.

The perfect blend of romance and suspense is what you'll find in All's Fair in Love and Law!

Title:  All's Fair in Love and Law
Authors:  K. M. Daughters
Publisher:  The Wild Rose Press
ISBN:  Not yet available

Keep an eye on the K.M. Daughters' website for information on this book's release. The final installment is on its way too. I'll be sad when this series is over, but I would read them again in a heartbeat.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Guest Blogger: Joshua Graham, Author of Beyond Justice

Today's guest blogger is Joshua Graham, author of Beyond Justice.


Sam Hudson, a reputable San Diego attorney, learns this when the authorities wrongfully convict him of the brutal rape and murder of his wife and daughter, and sends him to death row. There he awaits execution by lethal injection.

If he survives that long.

In prison, Sam fights for his life while his attorney works frantically on his appeal. It is then that he embraces the faith of his departed wife and begins to manifest supernatural abilities. Abilities which help him save lives– his own, those of his unlikely allies–and uncover the true killer’s identity, unlocking the door to his exoneration.

Now a free man, Sam’s newfound faith confronts him with the most insurmountable challenge yet. A challenge beyond vengeance, beyond rage, beyond anything Sam believes himself capable of: to forgive the very man who murdered his family, according to his faith. But this endeavor reveals darker secrets than either Sam or the killer could ever have imagined. Secrets that hurtle them into a fateful collision course.

Beyond Justice, a tale of loss, redemption, and the power of faith.

Faith and the Supernatural by Joshua Graham

I’ve been asked to speak about how I combined faith and the supernatural into my novel Beyond Justice. It’s an interesting topic for me because I don’t view the two as mutually exclusive topics. Quite the contrary.

Now, I might get into hot water with some members to the religious community who believe that religion is based solely on rituals, human intellectual understanding, or social action/justice. While I see the value on all those elements, for me, faith is much more than that.

Someone once told me, “Faith is a verb.” That’s a catchy phrase, but it is true. Faith is not what you profess. It’s not what you say you believe. It’s not even what you feel or think you believe. Faith is the hope for things of which you don’t have physical evidence AND are willing to take action towards.

Prayer and faith go hand in hand. Here’s an example my father, a great evangelist and preacher, once taught me: If you pray to God for rain, and don’t walk outside with an umbrella, then you don’t really have faith. Faith goes hand in hand with action. The Bible says, “…faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

The supernatural and faith go hand in hand. I have witnessed many miracles in my life and the lives of others. What most consider “supernatural” really isn’t that esoteric, if seen through the eyes of faith. Some of the supernatural elements in Beyond Justice include visions, words of knowledge, spiritual warfare, and prophecy.

It stands to reason that if one believes in God, and as a Christian believes in Jesus, then they must also believe in God’s omnipotence—He can do anything, and cause anything to happen to and through people. The scriptures clearly talk about spiritual gifts which are given to believers. The only purpose for these gifts is to build people up and help them.

Jenn Hudson, a character in Beyond Justice said, “Miracles are happening every day, if you know how to spot them.” It’s really true. Some of them are great, some are small. There are healings, prophetic messages that warn, that encourage and bring emotional healing in miraculous ways. But the biggest miracle is the changing of the human heart.

I don’t compartmentalize my faith. It’s not like I go to church on Sunday and act one way, and then act completely different on other days. People who know me, know that I strive to honor God and follow the teachings of Jesus. I don’t push my beliefs on others, but I’m not shy about sharing my faith either, if they are interested. So writing a book with a supernatural journey for my protagonist came very naturally to me.

That said, I’m glad that various reviews have said that Beyond Justice, while having strong spiritual themes, does not come across as preaching. That’s my goal in writing as it is in life. I would like to honestly present a sincere perspective of spirituality for my reader to consider, but let them draw their own conclusions. Everyone was created with free will to choose what they believe. I just want to give them a chance to look at something they might not otherwise have cared to examine, without any pressure or sense of obligation.

Here are two spiritual insights that I received over the past seven years that have found their way into Beyond Justice.

When my mother passed away, the pain of losing her was deep. She had been my number one fan in life, always spoke life to me, always loved me unconditionally, and was always kind and loving. Losing her was so difficult. I knew I would see her in Heaven one day, but it felt like it would be such a long time to wait. Then, a quiet voice whispered not in my ear, but in my spirit:

It’ll be like waking up from a dream.

I knew this wasn’t my own inner thoughts. They were definitely from above. As I contemplated it, I understood. When we dream, the actual REM state is very short, measured in minutes. But during the dream, we can be there for what seems like hours, days, even a lifetime. As soon as we wake up, the dream is over. We are awake, and the dream which felt so real instantly becomes a fleeting memory that dissipates like a vapor in the wind.

Now, if we are asleep for about 6-8 hours, and all that you dreamed suddenly vanishes into a distant memory, how much more so will it be when we enter ETERNITY? Compare the difference of 8 hours asleep vs. 16 hours awake with 75 some years vs. Infinity. When we enter heaven and eternity, our entire mortal life will be even more vaporous than our dreams which happen over the course of a few minutes of REM sleep. You think life feels so real now? Imagine how it will be like in Eternity.

This is why the scriptures say, “O Death, where is thy sting?”

I was given this insight and it has given me hope in Christ that I will be reunited with my loved ones who passed away. This mortal life will suddenly become a distant memory, a dream. On that day, I know we’ll smile when we sing “Life was but a dream.”

The second insight came during a time when a couple of friends of mine’s two month old baby daughter Charlotte was dying of a brain tumor. We prayed and prayed for her to be miraculously healed, but in the end, she passed away. I remember that night, when I got the phone call that she had passed, I went up to my room and wept. I prayed asking God why he hadn’t healed Charlotte as He had healed others.

The answer came in the form of a vision. I saw a beautiful verdant meadow, a sparkling stream, and on the other side, Jesus Christ in a glowing white robe. He was holding the hand of a lovely young girl about six years old. I knew right away I was looking at Charlotte, her body completely healed and restored, beautiful and whole. I knew in my spirit that where she was, things were so much more real and better, and I was existing in a place that is temporary by comparison. My tears turned to joy. I thought, “that really is the better place.” And baby Charlotte’s little excursion to Earth was just long enough to encourage us, and point us to where we all can be one day, if we believe.

These two glimpses into eternity have changed my life. They have given me hope beyond all circumstances in life. It was so wonderful I had to incorporate them into my book and share. I realize in sharing this, some readers might think twice about reading Beyond Justice, but I promise you, it’s not a bunch of Bible-thumping preaching. It’s a sincere sharing of my life and faith in the form of a story, or a parable, if you will.

Miracles, healings, prophetic words, visions and dreams do happen all the time. We were created as spiritual beings. Some of us just don’t realize it yet.

Joshua Graham’s debut novel Beyond Justice is taking the world by storm, one reader at a time. Many of his readers blame him for sleepless nights, arriving to work late, and not allowing them to put the book down.

Publishers Weekly described Beyond Justice as:
“…A riveting legal thriller…. breaking new ground with a vengeance… demonically entertaining and surprisingly inspiring.”

Suspense Magazine:
“This book was so much more than a mystery novel; it was an exercise in faith, understanding, joy and mercy in their purest forms.”
“…twists, turns and surprises to be found here.”
“…filled with so much in the way of emotion.”
“…Take the time to read this book. You will not be disappointed.”

Under other pen names, Joshua has been published in three Pocket Book anthologies. Joshua’s short fiction works have been also been published by Dawn Treader Press.

He's a graduate of the Oregon Professional Writers Masterclass run by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

Joshua grew up in Brooklyn, NY where he lived for the better part of 30 years. He holds a Bachelor and Master’s Degree from Juilliard and a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University.

You can visit his website at connect with him on facebook at or twitter at

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Author Spotlight: Harriet Tramer and Rounding the Circle of Love

Rounding the Circle of Love: Growing Up As She Grows Old might be described as a “how to” book that provides family care givers with essential guidelines. It lives up to that “promise” during the very first chapter by presenting a survey instrument which should help care givers determine if they can keep their elder at home. Are their financial and other resources sufficient to handle this challenge? Do they have enough support?

It then discusses means by which care givers can prevent the stresses they encounter from depleting them. Respite, day care (for elders) and support groups are outlined. Also detailed: strategies for handling the medical, financial and legal issues that care givers face.

One chapter even discusses guiding elders toward viewing adaptive devise, such as canes, etc., more “positively.” Their safety might depend upon their coming to perceive these devices as friends which can help them remain independent rather than as impediments.

The book, however, goes beyond simply issuing practical advice. It is also thought provoking, or at least attempts to be. That dynamic comes into play as some of the experts who are quoted “question orthodoxies.” For example, the thought that there might be no firm distinction between normal aging and Alzheimer’s disease is discussed. And this dialogue is followed by a chapter on means, such as art therapy or exercise, by which even persons who have some dementia can be kept mentally vibrant.  

Read the Excerpt!

Alzheimer’s might be termed today’s most dreaded diagnosis. But this quote from Dr. Peter Whitehouse presents a viewpoint that some might find “reassuring” in this regard. It indicates that there might be no firm divide between brain aging which we are all experiencing and Alzheimer’s.

“People with so-called Alzheimer’s can be as much a victim of labeling as they are of their disease,” Dr. Whitehouse said. “We should work from the assumption that everybody is experiencing brain aging and we are all in this together. Because once you start labeling people as having Alzheimer’s you get two groups of people - people who have Alzheimer’s and those who are terrified of getting it.”

Harriet Tramer has worked for more than thirty years as both a journalist and a teacher (college instructor in Urban Studies Departments). And she finds that this duality fits quite well as they both demand communication skills. She is the author of All Bets on Me: Three Stories of Survival, the novel, Sara's Place, and Rounding the Circle of Love.

She has come to believe that teaching Urban Studies represents a good preparation for writing a book on caring for the elderly because people who administer cities must become financial magicians, pulling money out of nowhere to provide services. Family care givers must, likewise, do the same thing.

You can find Harriet online at

Monday, September 20, 2010

3 Ways You Can Make A Virtual Book Tour Coordinator's Day

If you don't want virtual book tour (VBT) coordinators to look like this--

there are a few ways you can help.

  1. Don't wait until the day before, or even worse, the day of your scheduled review to inform her that you didn't receive the book. In addition to being a VBT coordinator, I'm also a blogger (This is quite obvious, isn't it?) and book reviewer. I maintain a paper calendar that lists all scheduled dates at my blogs. I go through my TBR pile on a weekly basis to be sure I have all the books I need to review. If not, I zip off an email to the publicist.
  2. Be sure not to overcommit yourself. I'm guilty of this one, but I'm getting much better. There are so many great books out there available for review; but if you take on too much, you'll start missing deadlines and risk alienating the publicists who supply you with books. See what stressed VBT coordinators look like. It's not pretty, is it?
  3. Return your to-do items on time. It takes several weeks to coordinate a VBT. That time is a careful balancing act of getting requests from bloggers, emailing those requests to authors, getting completed to-do items back from authors, and making sure to send them along to bloggers in a timely fashion. When someone messes with the timeline, bad things happen. It makes me break out in hives.
Virtual book tours are so much fun when they run smoothly. I'm sure I've looked like that woman in the picture above from time to time, but overall, promoting great books has to be one of the best jobs in the world. Working as a team, authors, bloggers, publicists, and VBT coordinators can do amazing things to create an online buzz for books.

Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. A regular contributor for Writer2Writer, her articles focus on increasing productivity through time management and organization. A founding member of Musing Our Children, Ms. Malandrinos is also Editor in Chief of the group’s quarterly newsletter, Pages & Pens.

Cheryl is a Tour Coordinator for Pump Up Your Book, a book reviewer, and blogger. Little Shepherd is her first children’s book. Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two young daughters. She also has a son who is married.

You can visit Cheryl online at or the Little Shepherd blog at

Friday, September 17, 2010

Author Spotlight: Susie Hobson and Loving God with All Your Heart

Are you satisfied with your daily life? Do you run more on empty than full? Do you always feel like there is more out there for you? This book will take you deeper into your heart’s desire for a real relationship with God, a powerful relationship that will transform your whole life! Susie Hobson reminds us that the love we all long for begins and ends with a life that is surrendered to Jesus. From her real experience she offers practical application of communing with God through His Word to inspire and encourage a closer walk, resulting in empowerment for faithful living. Susie gives a clear path to the fulfillment of the greatest desire of man’s heart—God’s unfailing love as the foundation for wisdom and serving God in our homes and community. This book should fill a real need among families who long for a Biblical order in the home. Susie’s testimony is absorbing.

Purchase Loving God with All Your Heart at!

Read an Excerpt!

Are you one of those who want more?  Increasingly, I hear the same statement over and over again: “Susie, I want more!”  There is a desire in all of us for something that people, places, possessions, fame and fortune cannot fill.  What is that elusive need, that heart’s desire we all seem to crave?  I am convinced that it is a real relationship with God – a powerful relationship!

Read the Reviews!

"Loving God with All Your Heart is an easy and encouraging read with practical advice."
--What You Reading Now?

"This book was a very refreshing encouraging book to read."
--4 the Love of Books

Susie Hobson has a B.A. in Special Education, M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Alabama, and carried a deaf / hearing-impaired and blind / vision-impaired caseload for 16 years. She retired for more time with family and to write as God has called her. She and her husband Rich have two daughters, Whitney and Amelia, live in Montgomery, and attend Lakeview Baptist Church.

Find out more about Loving God with All Your Heart at

Thursday, September 16, 2010

New blog! - Authors and Appetizers

Angela Wilson's new blog combines two great things:  books and food. Stop by Authors and Appetizers to see what she's cooking up.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Side Effects: Death -Confessions of a Pharma-Insider Giveaway at Confessions of an Overworked Mom

I know it's been a while since I've posted about giveaways at Confessions of an Overworked Mom, but I hope you haven't stopped checking out Ellen's blog because she always has so much going on there.

I saw her post today for a chance to win 1 of 3 copies of Side Effects: Death -Confessions of a Pharma-Insider by by former executive director of the Swedish Branch of Eli Lilly & Company John Virapen.

This book is a true story about the corruption, bribery and fraud in the big pharmaceutical companies. Dr. John Virapen has 35 years experience in the pharmaceutical industry internationally as the general manager of Eli Lilly and Company in Sweden. It will present many facts and figures to back up what Dr. Virapen says is going on in the industry.

Sounds controversial, but definitely sounds good. Visit Confessions of an Overworked Mom to enter. This giveaway is only open to residents of the United States. Deadline to enter is 9/20/10.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Author Spotlight: Anne Fortier and Juliet

Juliet, an ambitious, utterly engaging historical novel on the scale of The Thirteenth Tale and The Birth of Venus, follows a young woman who discovers that her family’s origins reach all the way back to literature’s greatest star-crossed lovers.

When Julie Jacobs inherits a key to a safety-deposit box in Siena, Italy, she is told it will lead her to an old family treasure. Soon she is launched on a winding and perilous journey into the history of her ancestor Giulietta, whose legendary love for a young man named Romeo rocked the foundations of medieval Siena. As Julie crosses paths with the descendants of the families involved in Shakespeare’s unforgettable blood feud, she begins to realize that the notorious curse—“A plague on both your houses!”—is still at work, and that she is the next target. It seems that the only one who can save Julie from her fate is Romeo—but where is he?

Read an Excerpt!

Alack, alack, what blood is this which stains The stony entrance of this sepulchre?

It has taken me a while to figure out where to start. You could argue that my story began more than six hundred years ago, with a highway robbery in medieval Tuscany. Or, more recently, with a dance and a kiss at Castello Salimbeni, when my parents met for the first time. But I would never have come to know any of this without the event that changed my life overnight and forced me to travel to Italy in search of the past. That event was the death of my great-aunt Rose.

It took Umberto three days to find me and tell me the sad news. Considering my virtuosity in the art of disappearing, I am amazed he succeeded at all. But then, Umberto always had an uncanny ability to read my mind and predict my movements, and besides, there were only so many Shakespeare summer camps in Virginia.

How long he stood there, watching the theater performance from the back of the room, I do not know. I was backstage as always, too absorbed in the kids, their lines and props to notice anything else around me until the curtain fell. After the dress rehearsal that afternoon, someone had misplaced the vial of poison, and for lack of better, Romeo would have to commit suicide by eating Tic Tacs.

"But they give me heartburn!" the boy had complained, with all the accusatory anxiety of a fourteen-year-old.

"Excellent!" I had said, resisting a motherly urge to adjust the velvet hat on his head. "That’ll help you stay in character."

Only when the lights came on afterwards, and the kids dragged me onstage to bombard me with gratitude, did I notice the familiar figure looming near the exit, contemplating me through the applause. Stern and statuesque in his dark suit and tie, Umberto stood out like a lone reed of civilization in a primordial swamp. He always had. For as long as I could remember, he had never worn a single piece of clothing that could be considered casual. Khaki shorts and golf shirts, to Umberto, were the garments of men who have no virtues left, not even shame.

Later, when the onslaught of grateful parents subsided and I could finally walk off the stage, I was stopped briefly by the program director, who took me by the shoulders and shook me heartily—he knew me too well to attempt a hug. "Good job with the youngsters, Julie!" he gushed. "I can count on you again next summer, can’t I?"

"Absolutely," I lied, walking on. "I’ll be around."

Approaching Umberto at last, I looked in vain for that little happiness at the corner of his eyes that was usually there when he saw me again after some time away. But there was no smile, not even a trace, and I now understood why he had come. Stepping silently into his embrace, I wished I had the power to flip reality upside down like an hourglass, and that life was not a finite affair, but rather a perpetually recurring passage through a little hole in time. "Don’t cry, principessa," he said into my hair, "she wouldn’t have liked it. We can’t all live forever. She was eighty-two."

"I know. But—" I stood back and wiped my eyes. "Was Janice there?"

Umberto’s eyes narrowed as they always did when my twin sister was mentioned. "What do you think?" Only then, up close, did I see that he looked bruised and bitter, as if he had spent the last few nights drinking himself to sleep. But perhaps it had been a natural thing to do. Without Aunt Rose what would become of Umberto? For as long as I could remember, the two of them had been yoked together in a necessary partnership of money and muscle—she had played the withering belle, he the patient butler—and despite their differences, clearly neither of them had ever been willing to attempt life without the other.

The Lincoln was parked discreetly over by the fire pit, and no one saw Umberto placing my old pack in the trunk before opening the back door for me with measured ceremony.

"I want to sit in front. Please?"

He shook his head in disapproval and opened the passenger door instead. "I knew it would all come apart."

But it had never been Aunt Rose who insisted on the formality. Although Umberto was her employee, she had always treated him like family. The gesture, however, was never returned. Whenever Aunt Rose would invite Umberto to join us at the dinner table, he would merely look at her with bemused forbearance, as if it was an ongoing wonder to him why she kept asking and just somehow didn’t get it. He ate all his meals in the kitchen, always had, always would, and not even the name of sweet Jesus—spoken in rising exasperation—could persuade him to come and sit down with us, even at Thanksgiving.

Aunt Rose used to dismiss Umberto’s peculiarity as a European thing and smoothly segue into a lecture about tyranny, liberty, and independence that would inevitably culminate in her pointing a fork at us and snorting, "and that is why we are not going to Europe on vacation. Especially Italy. End of story." Personally, I was fairly certain that Umberto preferred to eat alone simply because he considered his own company vastly superior to what we had to offer. There he was, serene in the kitchen, with his opera, his wine, and his perfectly ripened block of Parmesan cheese, while we—Aunt Rose, me, and Janice—bickered and shivered in the drafty dining room. Given the option, I would have lived every minute of every day in the kitchen, too.

As we drove through the dark Shenandoah Valley that night, Umberto told me about Aunt Rose’s last hours. She had died peacefully, in her sleep, after an evening of listening to all her favorite Fred Astaire songs, one crackling record after another. Once the last chord of the last piece had died out, she had stood up and opened the French doors to the garden outside, perhaps wanting to breathe in the honeysuckle one more time. As she stood there, eyes closed, Umberto told me, the long lace curtains had fluttered round her spindly body without a sound, as if she was already a ghost.

"Did I do the right thing?" she had asked, quietly.

"Of course you did," had been his diplomatic answer.

It was midnight by the time we rolled into Aunt Rose’s driveway. Umberto had already warned me that Janice had arrived from Florida that afternoon with a calculator and a bottle of champagne. That did not, however, explain the second jock-mobile parked right in front of the entrance.

"I sincerely hope," I said, taking my pack out of the trunk before Umberto could get to it, "that is not the undertaker." No sooner had I said the words than I winced at my own flippancy. It was completely unlike me to talk like that, and it only ever happened when I came within earshot of my sister.

Casting but a glance at the mystery car, Umberto adjusted his jacket the way one does a bulletproof vest before combat. "I fear there are many kinds of undertaking."
As soon as we stepped through the front door of the house, I saw what he meant. All the large portraits in the hallway had been taken down and were now standing with their backs to the wall like delinquents before a firing squad. And the Venetian vase that had always stood on the round table beneath the chandelier was already gone.

"Hello?" I yelled, feeling a surge of rage that I had not felt since my last visit. "Anyone still alive?"

My voice echoed through the quiet house, but as soon as the noise died down I heard running feet in the corridor upstairs. Yet despite her guilty rush, Janice had to make her usual slow-motion appearance on the broad staircase, her flimsy summer dress emphasizing her sumptuous curves far better than had she worn nothing at all.

Pausing for the world press, she tossed back her long hair with languid self-satisfaction and sent me a supercilious smile before commencing her descent. "Lo and behold," she observed, her voice sweetly chilled, "the virgitarian has landed." Only then did I notice the male flavor-of-the-week trailing right behind her, looking as disheveled and bloodshot as one does after time alone with my sister.

"Sorry to disappoint," I said, dropping my backpack on the floor with a thud. "Can I help you strip the house of valuables, or do you prefer to work alone?"

Janice’s laughter was like a little wind chime on your neighbor’s porch, put there exclusively to annoy you. "This is Archie," she informed me, in her business-casual way, "he is going to give us twenty grand for all this junk."

I looked at them both with disgust as they came towards me. "How generous of him. He obviously has a passion for trash."

Janice shot me an icy glare, but quickly checked herself. She knew very well that I could not care less about her good opinion, and that her anger just amused me.
I was born four minutes before her. No matter what she did, or said, I would always be four minutes older. Even if—in Janice’s own mind—she was the hypersonic hare and I the plodding turtle, we both knew she could run cocky circles around me all she liked, but that she would never actually catch up and close that tiny gap between us.

"Well," said Archie, eyeing the open door, "I’m gonna take off. Nice to meet you, Julie—it’s Julie, isn’t it? Janice told me all about you—" He laughed nervously. "Keep up the good work! Make peace not love, as they say."

Janice waved sweetly as Archie walked out, letting the screen door slam behind him. But as soon as he was out of hearing range, her angelic face turned demonic, like a Halloween hologram. "Don’t you dare look at me like that!" she sneered. "I’m trying to make us some money. It’s not as if you’re making any, is it now?"

"But then I don’t have your kind of . . . expenses." I nodded at her latest upgrades, eminently visible under the clingy dress. "Tell me, Janice, how do they get all that stuff in there? Through the navel?"

"Tell me, Julie," mimicked Janice. "How does it feel to get nothing stuffed in there? Ever!"

"Excuse me, ladies," said Umberto, stepping politely between us the way he had done so many times before, "but may I suggest we move this riveting exchange to the library?"

Once we caught up with Janice, she had already draped herself over Aunt Rose’s favorite armchair, a gin and tonic nestling on the foxhuntmotif cushion I had cross-stitched as a senior in high school while my sister had been out on the prowl for upright prey.

"What?" She looked at us with ill-concealed loathing. "You don’t think she left half the booze for me?"

It was vintage Janice to be angling for a fight over someone’s dead body, and I turned my back to her and walked over to the French doors. On the terrace outside, Aunt Rose’s beloved terra-cotta pots sat like a row of mourners, flower heads hanging beyond consolation. It was an unusual sight. Umberto always kept the garden in perfect order, but perhaps he found no pleasure in his work now that his employer and grateful audience was no more.

"I am surprised," said Janice, swirling her drink, "that you are still here, Birdie. If I were you I would have been in Vegas by now. With the silver."

Umberto did not reply. He had stopped talking directly to Janice years ago. Instead, he looked at me. "The funeral is tomorrow."

"I can’t believe," said Janice, one leg dangling from the armrest, "you planned all that without asking us."

"It was what she wanted."

"Anything else we should know?" Janice freed herself from the embrace of the chair and straightened out her dress. "I assume we’re all getting our share? She didn’t fall in love with some weird pet foundation or something, did she?"

"Do you mind?" I croaked, and for a second or two, Janice actually looked chastened. Then she shrugged it off as she always did, and reached once more for the gin bottle.

I did not even bother to look at her as she feigned clumsiness, raising her perfectly groomed eyebrows in astonishment to let us know that she certainly had not intended to pour quite so much. As the sun slowly melted into the horizon, so would Janice soon melt into a chaise longue, leaving the great questions of life for others to answer as long as they kept the liquor coming.

She had been like that for as long as I remembered: insatiable. When we were children, Aunt Rose used to laugh delightedly and exclaim, "That girl, she could eat her way out of a gingerbread prison," as if Janice’s greediness was something to be proud of. But then, Aunt Rose was at the top of the food chain and had—unlike me—nothing to fear. For as long as I could remember, Janice had been able to sniff out my secret candy no matter where I hid it, and Easter mornings in our family were nasty, brutish, and short. They would inevitably climax with Umberto chastising her for stealing my share of the Easter eggs, and Janice—teeth dripping with chocolate—hissing from underneath her bed that he wasn’t her daddy and couldn’t tell her what to do.

The frustrating thing was that she didn’t look her part. Her skin stubbornly refused to give away its secrets; it was as smooth as the satin icing on a wedding cake, her features as delicately crafted as the little marzipan fruits and flowers in the hands of a master confectioner. Neither gin nor coffee nor shame nor remorse had been able to crack that glazed façade; it was as if she had a perennial spring of life inside her, as if she rose every morning rejuvenated from the well of eternity, not a day older, not an ounce heavier, and still ravenously hungry for the world.
Unfortunately, we were not identical twins. Once, in the schoolyard, I had overheard someone referring to me as Bambi-on-stilts, and although Umberto laughed and said it was a compliment, it didn’t feel that way. Even when I was past my most clumsy age, I knew I still looked lanky and anemic next to Janice; no matter where we went or what we did, she was as dark and effusive as I was pale and reserved.

Whenever we entered a room together, all spotlights would immediately turn to my sister, and although I was standing there right beside her, I became just another head in the audience. As time went on, however, I grew comfortable with my role. I never had to worry about finishing my sentences, for Janice would inevitably finish them for me. And on the rare occasions when someone asked about my hopes and dreams—usually over a polite cup of tea with one of Aunt Rose’s neighbors—Janice would pull me away to the piano, where she would attempt to play while I turned the sheets for her. Even now, at twenty-five, I would still squirm and grind to a halt in conversations with strangers, hoping desperately to be interrupted before I had to commit my verb to an object.

We buried Aunt Rose in the pouring rain. As I stood there by her grave, heavy drops of water fell from my hair to blend with the tears running down my cheeks; the paper tissues I had brought from home had long since turned to mush in my pockets.
Although I had been crying all night, I was hardly prepared for the sense of sad finality I felt as the coffin was lowered crookedly into the earth. Such a big coffin for Aunt Rose’s spindly frame . . . now I suddenly regretted not having asked to see the body, even if it would have made no difference to her. Or maybe it would? Perhaps she was watching us from somewhere far away, wishing she could let us know that she had arrived safely. It was a consoling idea, a welcome distraction from reality, and I wished I could believe it.

The only one who did not look like a drowned rodent by the end of the funeral was Janice, who wore plastic boots with five-inch heels and a black hat that signaled anything but mourning. In contrast, I was wearing what Umberto had once labeled my Attila-the-Nun outfit; if Janice’s boots and neckline said come hither, my clunky shoes and buttoned-up dress most certainly said get lost.

Half a handful of people showed up at the grave, but only Mr. Gallagher, our family lawyer, stayed to talk. Neither Janice nor I had ever met him, but Aunt Rose had talked about him so often and so fondly that the man himself could only be a disappointment.

"I understand you are a pacifist?" he said to me, as we walked away from the cemetery together.

"Jules loves to fight," observed Janice, walking happily in the middle, oblivious to the fact that the brim of her hat was funneling water on both of us, "and throw stuff at people. Did you hear what she did to the Little Mermaid—?"

"That’s enough," I said, trying to find a dry spot on my sleeve to wipe my eyes one last time.

"Oh, don’t be so modest! You were on the front page!"

"And I hear your business is going very well?" Mr. Gallagher looked at Janice, attempting a smile. "It must be a challenge to make everyone happy?"

"Happy? Eek!" Janice narrowly avoided stepping in a puddle. "Happiness is the worst threat to my business. Dreams are what it’s all about. Frustrations. Fantasies that never come true. Men that don’t exist. Women you can never have. That’s where the money is, date after date after date—"

Janice kept talking, but I stopped listening. It was one of the world’s great ironies that my sister was into professional matchmaking, for she was probably the least romantic person I had ever known. Notwithstanding her urge to flirt with every one of them, she saw men as little more than noisy power tools that you plugged in when you needed them and unplugged as soon as the job was done.

Oddly enough, when we were children, Janice had had an obsession with arranging everything in pairs, two teddy bears, two cushions, two hairbrushes . . . even on days when we had been fighting, she would put both our dolls next to each other on the shelf overnight, sometimes even with their arms around each other. In that respect it was perhaps not strange that she would choose to make a career out of matchmaking, seeing that she was a genuine Noah at putting people in pairs. The only problem was that, unlike the old patriarch, she had long since forgotten why she did it.

It was hard to say when things had changed. At some point in high school she had made it her mission to burst every dream I might ever have had about love. Running through boyfriends like economy pantyhose, Janice had taken a peculiar pleasure in grossing me out by describing everybody and everything in a dismissive slang that made me wonder why women consorted with men at all.

"So," she had said, rolling pink curlers into my hair on the night before our prom, "this is your last chance."

I had looked at her in the mirror, puzzled by her ultimatum but prevented from responding by one of her mint-green mud masks that had dried to a crust on my face.
"You know"—she had grimaced impatiently—"your last chance to pop the cherry. That’s what prom’s all about. Why do you think the guys dress up? Because they like to dance? Puh-leez!" She had glanced at me in the mirror, checking her progress. "If you don’t do it at prom, you know what they say. You’re a prude. Nobody likes a prude."

The next morning, I had complained about a stomachache, and as the prom came closer, my pains grew worse. In the end, Aunt Rose had to call the neighbors and tell them that their son had better find himself another date for the evening; meanwhile, Janice was picked up by an athlete called Troy and disappeared in a smoke of squealing tires.

After listening to my moans all afternoon, Aunt Rose began insisting we go to the emergency room in case it was appendicitis, but Umberto had calmed her down and said that I did not have a fever, and that he was certain it was nothing serious. As he stood there next to my bed later in the evening, looking at me peeking out from underneath my blanket, I could see that he knew exactly what was going on, and that, in some strange way, he was pleased with my scam. We both knew there was nothing wrong with the neighbors’ son as such, it was just that he did not fit the description of the man I had envisioned as my lover. And if I could not get what I wanted, I would rather miss the prom.

"Dick," Janice now said, stroking Mr. Gallagher with a satin smile, "why don’t we just cut to the chase. How much?"

I did not even try to intervene. After all, as soon as Janice got her money, she would be off to the eternal hunting grounds of the bushytailed wannabe, and I would never have to set eyes on her again.

"Well," said Mr. Gallagher, stopping awkwardly in the parking lot, right next to Umberto and the Lincoln, "I’m afraid the fortune is almost entirely tied up in the estate."

"Look," said Janice, "we all know it’s fifty-fifty down to the last nickel, okay, so let’s cut the crap. She wants us to draw a white line down the middle of the house? Fair enough, we can do that. Or"—she shrugged as if it was all the same to her—"we simply sell the place and split the money. How much?"

"The reality is that in the end"—Mr. Gallagher looked at me with some regret—"Mrs. Jacobs changed her mind and decided to leave everything to Miss Janice."

"What?" I looked from Janice to Mr. Gallagher to Umberto, but found no support at all.

"Holy shit!" Janice flared up in a broad smile. "The old lady had a sense of humor after all!"

"Of course," Mr. Gallagher went on, more sternly, "there is a sum put aside for Mister—for Umberto, and there is a mention of certain framed photographs that your great-aunt wanted Miss Julie to have."

"Hey," said Janice, opening her arms, "I’m feeling generous."

"Wait a minute—" I took a step back, struggling to process the news. "This doesn’t make any sense."

For as long as I could remember, Aunt Rose had gone through hell and high water to treat us equally; for heaven’s sake, I had even caught her counting the number of pecans in our morning muesli to make sure one of us didn’t get more than the other. And she had always talked about the house as something that we—at some point in the future—would own together. "You girls," she used to say, "really need to learn how to get along. I won’t live forever, you know. And when I am gone, you are going to share this house."

"I understand your disappointment—" said Mr. Gallagher.

"Disappointment?" I felt like grabbing him by the collar, but stuck my hands in my pockets instead, as deep as they could go. "Don’t think I’m buying this. I want to see the will." Looking him straight in the eye I saw him squirming under my gaze. "There’s something going on here behind my back—"

"You were always a sore loser," Janice broke in, savoring my fury with a catty smile, "that’s what’s going on."

"Here—" Mr. Gallagher clicked open his briefcase with shaky hands and handed me a document. "This is your copy of the will. I’m afraid there’s not much room for dispute."

Umberto found me in the garden, crouched under the arbor he had once built for us when Aunt Rose was in bed with pneumonia. Sitting down next to me on the wet bench, he did not comment on my childish disappearing act, just handed me an immaculately ironed handkerchief and observed me as I blew my nose.

"It’s not the money," I said, defensively. "Did you see her smirk? Did you hear what she said? She doesn’t care about Aunt Rose. She never did. It’s not fair!"

"Who told you life was fair?" Umberto looked at me with raised eyebrows. "Not me."
"I know! I just don’t understand—but it’s my own fault. I always thought she was serious about treating us equally. I borrowed money—" I clutched my face to avoid his stare. "Don’t say it!"

"Are you finished?"

I shook my head. "You have no idea how finished I am."

"Good." He opened his jacket and took out a dry but slightly bent manila envelope. "Because she wanted you to have this. It’s a big secret. Gallagher doesn’t know. Janice doesn’t know. It’s for you only."

I was immediately suspicious. It was very unlike Aunt Rose to give me something behind Janice’s back, but then, it was also very unlike her to write me out of her will. Clearly, I had not known my mother’s aunt as well as I thought I did, nor had I fully known myself until now. To think that I could sit here—today of all days—and cry over money. Although she had been in her late fifties when she adopted us, Aunt Rose had been like a mother to us, and I ought to be ashamed of myself for wanting anything more from her.

When I finally opened it, the envelope turned out to contain three things: a letter, a passport, and a key.

"This is my passport!" I exclaimed. "How did she—?" I looked at the picture page again. It was my photo all right, and my date of birth, but the name was not mine. "Giulietta? Giulietta Tolomei?"

"That is your real name. Your aunt changed it when she brought you here from Italy. She changed Janice’s name, too."

I was stunned. "But why? . . . How long have you known?"

He looked down. "Why don’t you read the letter?"

I unfolded the two sheets of paper. "You wrote this?"

"She dictated it to me." Umberto smiled sadly. "She wanted to make sure you could read it."

The letter read as follows:

My dearest Julie,

I have asked Umberto to give you this letter after my funeral, so I suppose that means I am dead. Anyway, I know you are still angry that I never took you girls to Italy, but believe me when I say that it was for your own good. How could I ever forgive myself if something happened to you? But now you are older. And there is something there, in Siena, that your mother left for you. You alone. I don’t know why, but that is Diane for you, bless her soul. She found something, and supposedly it is still there. By the sound of it, it was much more valuable than anything I have ever owned. And that is why I decided to do it this way, and give the house to Janice. I was hoping we could avoid all this and forget about Italy, but now I am beginning to think that it would be wrong of me if I never told you.

Here is what you must do. Take this key and go to the bank in Palazzo Tolomei. In Siena. I think it is for a safety-deposit box. Your mother had it in her purse when she died. She had a financial advisor there, a man called Francesco Maconi. Find him and tell him that you are Diane Tolomei’s daughter. Oh, and that is another thing. I changed your names. Your real name is Giulietta Tolomei. But this is America. I thought Julie Jacobs made more sense, but no one can spell that either. What is the world coming to? No, I have had a good life. Thanks to you. Oh, and another thing: Umberto is going to get you a passport with your real name. I have no idea how you do these things, but never mind, we will leave that to him.

I am not going to say goodbye. We will see each other again in Heaven, God willing. But I wanted to make sure you get what Juliet 1 7 is rightly yours. Just be careful over there. Look what happened to your mother. Italy can be a very strange place. Your greatgrandmother was born there, of course, but I’ll tell you, you couldn’t have dragged her back there for all the money in the world. Anyway, don’t tell anyone what I have told you. And try to smile more. You have such a beautiful smile, when you use it.

Much love & God bless,


It took me a while to recover from the letter. Reading it, I could almost hear Aunt Rose dictating it, just as wonderfully scatterbrained in death as she had been when she was still alive. By the time I was finished with Umberto’s handkerchief, he did not want it back. Instead, he told me to take it with me to Italy, so that I would remember him when I found my big treasure.

"Come on!" I blew my nose one final time. "We both know there’s no treasure!"

He picked up the key. "Are you not curious? Your aunt was convinced that your mother had found something of tremendous value."

"Then why didn’t she tell me earlier? Why wait until she’s—" I threw up my arms. "It doesn’t make sense."

Umberto squinted. "She wanted to. But you were never around."

I rubbed my face, mostly to avoid his accusatory stare. "Even if she was right, you know I can’t go back to Italy. They’d lock me up so fast. You know they told me—"

Actually, they—the Italian police—had told me significantly more than I had ever passed on to Umberto. But he knew the gist of it. He knew that I had once been arrested in Rome during an antiwar demonstration, and spent a very unrecommendable night in a local prison before being tossed out of the country at daybreak and told never to come back. He also knew that it hadn’t been my fault. I had been eighteen, and all I had wanted was to go to Italy and see the place where I was born.
Pining in front of my college’s bulletin boards with their gaudy ads for study trips and expensive language courses in Florence, I had come across a small poster denouncing the war in Iraq and all the countries that 1 8 Anne Fortier took part in it. One of those countries, I was excited to discover, was Italy. At the bottom of the page was a list of dates and destinations; anyone interested in the cause was welcome to join in. One week in Rome—travel included—would cost me no more than four hundred dollars, which was precisely what I had left in my bank account. Little did I know that the low fare was made possible by the fact that we were almost guaranteed to not stay the whole week, and that the tab for our return flights and last night’s lodgings would—if all went according to plan—be picked up by the Italian authorities, that is, the Italian taxpayers.

And so, understanding very little about the purpose of the trip, I circled back to the poster several times before finally signing up. That night, however, tossing around in my bed, I knew I had done the wrong thing and that I would have to undo it as soon as possible. But when I told Janice the next morning, she just rolled her eyes and said, "Here lies Jules, who didn’t have much of a life, but who almost went to Italy once."

Obviously, I had to go.

When the first rocks started flying in front of the Italian Parliament— thrown by two of my fellow travelers, Sam and Greg—I would have loved nothing more than to be back in my dorm room, pillow over my head. But I was trapped in the crowd like everyone else, and once the Roman police had had enough of our rocks and Molotov cocktails, we were all baptized by tear gas.

It was the first time in my life I found myself thinking, I could die now. Falling down on the asphalt and seeing the world—legs, arms, vomit— through a haze of pain and disbelief, I completely forgot who I was and where I was going with my life.
Perhaps like the martyrs of old, I discovered another place; somewhere that was neither life nor death. But then the pain came back, and the panic, too, and after a moment it stopped feeling like a religious experience.

Months later, I kept wondering if I had ever fully recovered from the events in Rome. When I forced myself to think about it, I got this nagging feeling that I was still forgetting something crucial about who I was— something that had been spilled on the Italian asphalt and never come back.

"True." Umberto opened the passport and scrutinized my photo. "They told Julie Jacobs she can’t return to Italy. But what about Giulietta Tolomei?"

I did a double take. Here was Umberto, who still scolded me for dressing like a flower child, urging me to break the law. "Are you suggesting—?"

"Why do you think I had this made? It was your aunt’s last wish that you go to Italy. Don’t break my heart, principessa."

Seeing the sincerity in his eyes, I struggled once more against the tears. "But what about you?" I said gruffly. "Why don’t you come with me? We could find the treasure together. And if we don’t, to hell with it! We’ll become pirates. We’ll scour the seas—"

Umberto reached out and touched my cheek very gently, as if he knew that, once I was gone, I would never come back. And should we ever meet again, it would not be like this, sitting together in a child’s hideaway, our backs turned to the world outside. "There are some things," he said softly, "that a princess has to do alone. Do you remember what I told you . . . one day you will find your kingdom?"
"That was just a story. Life isn’t like that."

"Everything we say is a story. But nothing we say is just a story."

I threw my arms around him, not yet ready to let go. "What about you? You’re not staying here, are you?"

Umberto squinted up at the dripping woodwork. "I think Janice is right. It’s time for old Birdie to retire. I should steal the silver and go to Vegas. It will last me about a week, I think, with my luck. So make sure to call me when you find your treasure."

I leaned my head against his shoulder. "You’ll be the first to know."

Read the Reviews!

“Juliet is one of those rare novels that has it all: lush prose, tightly intertwined parallel narratives, intrigue, and historical detail all set against a backdrop of looming danger. Anne Fortier casts a new light on one of history’s greatest stories of passion. I was swept away.”
—Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants

“Boldly imagined, brilliantly plotted, beautifully described, Juliet will carry you spellbound until the gripping end. An astonishing achievement.”
– Susan Vreeland, author of Girl in Hyacinth Blue

“This book is a stunner. We will never see Romeo and Juliet in quite the same way again.”
– Alison Weir, author of The Lady Elizabeth

Anne Fortier grew up in Denmark and emigrated to the United States in 2002 to work in film. She co-produced the Emmy-winning documentary Fire and Ice: The Winter War of Finland and Russia and holds a Ph.D. in the History of Ideas from Aarhus University in Denmark. The story of Juliet was inspired by Anne Fortier's mother, who always considered Verona her true home ... until she discovered Siena.You can visit Anne Fortier’s website at

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Check out the New Little Shepherd Blog!

To celebrate the release of my first children's book, Little Shepherd, published by Guardian Angel Publishing, I started a new blog dedicated solely to the book. You can find the Little Shepherd blog by clicking here.

I'll be posting links to my virtual book tour schedule with Pump Up Your Book, which will begin in October and run through mid-December. You'll also find a page of Upcoming Events.

I hope you'll become a follower of my new blog and help me celebrate the release of Little Shepherd!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Guest Blogger: Susie Hobson, Author of Loving God with All Your Heart

Today's special guest is Susie Hobson, author of Loving God with All Your Heart: Keeping the Greatest Commandment in Everyday Life..

Are you satisfied with your daily life? Do you run more on empty than full? Do you always feel like there is more out there for you? This book will take you deeper into your heart’s desire for a real relationship with God, a powerful relationship that will transform your whole life! Susie Hobson reminds us that the love we all long for begins and ends with a life that is surrendered to Jesus. From her real experience she offers practical application of communing with God through His Word to inspire and encourage a closer walk, resulting in empowerment for faithful living. Susie gives a clear path to the fulfillment of the greatest desire of man’s heart—God’s unfailing love as the foundation for wisdom and serving God in our homes and community. This book should fill a real need among families who long for a Biblical order in the home. Susie’s testimony is absorbing.

Three Ways You Can Nurture Your Relationship with God by Susie Hobson

I believe that prayer, Bible reading, and involving God in your everyday life are great ways to nurture your relationship with God. Like any relationship, your relationship with God is only going to be as good as you make it. If you are too busy to read your Bible daily, too busy to pray in a regular and meaningful way on a day-to-day basis, too busy to “think about God” – you will not have a great relationship with God. That’s just common sense. I think the last thing busy people want is to be made to feel guilty about their lack of time with God. And I know that it can make some Christians defensive when someone starts poking around into their personal devotional habits. Yet, when writing an article about how people can nurture their relationship with God, perhaps it could be tolerated—having been fairly warned!

God desires to have a great relationship with us, personally. He desires a relationship that is filled with love, respect, joy, much communication, and time in His Word in a significant and meaningful way. I think we all realize that a relationship like that involves one thing above all others: Time. Good solid relationships take time and effort. We are creatures of habit and we tend to fill our lives with schedules that work for us. They may not be the healthiest schedules, or happiest, but they work for us and our families and we stick with them, very diligently. My husband taught a large young adult Sunday School class for years and asked each Sunday, “Who read their Bibles everyday this week?” Out of twenty people, there may have been one who would raise their hand. The rest said that they were just too busy. Too busy. Too busy . . . Are you too busy to have a healthy daily relationship with God?

Generally, people are seemingly satisfied with a marginal “I’m a Christian!” relationship with God. Much like those nineteen other people in the Sunday School class who were very active church goers, believers, and all around good guys. What pushes some people to get closer to God and others to be happy with a life of God on the fringe? I believe it is perspective. Once you have had a glimpse of –this is not going to be positive, so brace yourself--evil and the pervasiveness of evil, I don’t think you can turn away and think you are without the need of God 24/7. Sometimes it is not just evil but the knowledge that God is holding all the Power and Authority and He has given us His Word and Prayer to connect us to Him and His Power and Love and we know, we just know, how desperately we need Him. And we know that others need Him, too, because if they die without Jesus in their heart, then they will have made an eternal mistake.

Prayer is asking God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth and all that is in it, to come into our lives and give us what He has, yet we don’t have. God says again and again in the Bible (paraphrase) “I have all these gifts, attributes, strengths, weapons, blessings, and health and safety helps to give you, if you will just ask for them.” Here! Here—let me help you. Take this! I have written in my Bible under Psalm 91, “God has what I don’t have and He wants to give it to me.” Why would I not involve God in my all day, everyday life if He is so ready and willing to get involved in ways that make a real difference in me and my family’s health, safety, direction, provisions, wisdom, truth, peace, love, hope, and faith. We have all heard the slogan, “Don’t leave home without it!” Don’t leave home without having yourself and your family covered with prayer. Early in the morning is a good time to get right with God, confess all known sin, ask for His filling and help, pray for all those things in His Word that you and your family need in a real and immediate way, and then all those other concerns that are going around your head too, practical things, problems, etc. Then as the day progresses I may have a stray thought or two (or a dozen) that need to be brought up for confession, because I do get put out, say something, or more likely think something that is not the kindest, and I need to air that and resolve it with God (sin is always a barrier between us and God and why go around with barriers up when we can be on the best of terms?). So many things happen in the course of the day that are praises and blessings and when I go to bed at night I like to try and remember each one and give God the praise and glory and honor and to acknowledge His hand in my life. Prayer can be continuous throughout the day as a conversation and a real relationship with God, the Father, through Jesus, my Lord and Savior.

Bible reading is the best way to fill up your mind and heart with God and His Ways. It’s like truth in—truth out! I grew up in Enterprise, a small town in south Alabama. Mrs. Justice was the wife of the long-time minister of First Baptist Church and a formidable Sunday School teacher. I remember my mother always saying that “Mrs. Justice knows her Bible.” That stuck in my head and when ever I saw Mrs. Justice I would feel a bit intimidated by her—she was smart! More recently though that comment came back to me and I thought “Mrs. Justice knew her Bible because she read her Bible.” She had probably been reading her Bible everyday for years and as a result she had a great deal of what Ephesians would call “a spirit of wisdom and revelation.” The Bible is a powerful living book. Get a grip on that thought (imagine Indiana Jones getting a hold of an old ancient book that can powerfully change peoples lives forever for the better, If . . . they read it themselves!). If you read the Bible daily you will grow in your relationship with God, He will speak with you through His Word. He will show you truth, give you wisdom, explain how to best live life on this earth, lead you to who He made you to be, put His plan for your life on your heart, and fill your life with purpose and love and good common sense. Here’s a powerful practice—take what God promises in the Bible and start applying it (living it) and asking God to pour those very principles, promises, gifts, and blessings out in your own life and you will find that the old ancient book is just as powerful today as ever.

Involve God in your everyday life. From sun-up to bed at night God makes the best company. Make time to pray and read your Bible in a substantial way, where it really means something. This does not just happen (Oh, wow, I’ve got this extra time today—I think I’ll read my Bible!). It somehow has to be something you value and then go further and make a priority—make time (carve out time) for prayer and Bible reading. The world will fill your little bit of free time up with TV, computer, exercise, and other things that are fine, but time-fillers, nonetheless. You have to CHANGE your life and schedule to put God in where He can be a big part of you and your family and your time. God in the center of your life and your home is the healthiest change you could ever make.

Nurture your relationship with God by making time for Him in your everyday life. If you seek God, you will find Him! He is ready, willing, and waiting to have a real and life-changing relationship with you!

Susie Hobson has a B.A. in Special Education, M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Alabama, and carried a deaf / hearing-impaired and blind / vision-impaired caseload for 16 years. She retired for more time with family and to write as God has called her. She and her husband Rich have two daughters, Whitney and Amelia, live in Montgomery, and attend Lakeview Baptist Church.

Find out more about Loving God with All Your Heart at

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Author Spotlight: Daisy Jordan and Love Means Zero

A chance encounter in a Rome hotel, two tremendously damaging photographs, and Hilton Joliet’s life is instantly altered. Previously working a dead-end job as an assistant in a portrait studio, she is now a freelance photographer for Game Set Match magazine, “the Us Weekly of tennis,” as she calls it.

Thrown rapidly into a jet-setting life of world-class tennis, the best seats at the best matches, and trailing the hottest young tennis stars and their model and
actress girlfriends, Hilton, a former tennis player herself, can’t imagine a more fun job or a better way to jump-start her career while her boyfriend Luke finishes
law school.

Read an Excerpt!

“And now, ladies and gentlemen,” Tanner called into the mic, “the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the culmination of the first annual Best Friends with Benefits Gala….We have, for your bidding pleasure, eight men to auction off for dates. And those men all happen to be—well, we hope at least—some of your favorite ATP tennis players!”

The room went wild. All the guests were on their feet applauding and screaming and throwing wide-eyed looks of anticipation at each other.

“But,” Tanner continued, “the hard part is, you won’t know who each one is till he comes out. So, you have to decide, do I want Nate Young, who is pretty damn good-looking? Or should I wait to see if somebody even more strapping and charming, say, Tanner Bruin?, comes along?”

Tanner laughed at himself while all the women in the room giggled wildly like teenagers and shouted their agreement. Hilton laughed. Tanner cracked her up.

“And if you should win one of our fine young men, you get not only dinner for two at one of New York City’s finest restaurants of your choice, you’ll also get to sit in this player’s courtside box for one match at the US Open next August!”

The noise was deafening. Hilton couldn’t even hear herself as she yelled and clapped enthusiastically along with everyone else. This was going to be awesome, even though she knew there was no way she’d have enough money to win one of the players. She wondered who they all were, and how much they would go for.

“All right, so let’s get started!”

Noah, who was now standing in the front row, tossed Tanner a bottle of champagne. Tanner opened it, spraying it into the crowd and the reverberating cheers.

As people started to quiet, Hilton and Luke took their seats.

“You gonna do this one?” Luke asked with a playful grin.

Hilton elbowed him and grinned back. “Shut up. I wish. If I had endless thousands of dollars. But hmmmm.” She frowned. “I wouldn’t know who to pick. They’re all so hot…” She grinned at Luke again and ducked out of the way as he tried to rub his knuckles across the top of her head.

The first three players to be auctioned off were James Blake, Mardy Fish, and Mike Bryan. Hilarious old-school songs like “Dancing Queen” were blasting as each player strutted around the stage and Noah, resuming his role as MC/auctioneer, shouted the player’s bio into the mic. Hilton was having a blast. She loved the crazy atmosphere in here. This was definitely the way to do a charity benefit.

After Mike Bryan came Andy Roddick, then Bob Bryan. He went for a thousand more dollars than Mike, his twin brother, and Noah made a big deal out of it. The whole crowd yelled, “Oooooohhhh!” and Hilton burst out laughing halfway through yelling it.

Then, to Hilton’s complete shock, came Haidin. She quickly looked back to Haidin’s table, checking for Aubrey. Aubrey was probably pissed he was doing this, even though it was for charity. Ohhhh…Aubrey wasn’t there…the empty chair that had been next to Haidin earlier was now occupied by his agent/manager or whatever he was. Hilton cracked a smile and turned back to the front. Haidin, of course, didn’t dance like everyone else, he simply walked to the center of the stage and stood there looking like a totally hot, pissed-off bad boy. She wondered how much he would get. Probably just as much as everybody else, if not more. She rolled her eyes as Noah finished Haidin’s bio, which hadn’t been near as detailed or funny as everyone else’s.

“Bidding starts at one thousand dollars! Do we have one thousand?”

“A hundred thousand!” a woman shouted from the back of the room.

Hilton’s mouth dropped open in shock. She and everyone else in the room turned to stare. Even Noah and Haidin were staring in surprise.

The woman was petite and had her blonde hair piled on top of her head. She was probably about forty, and she was wearing a long white sequined evening gown.

“Okay!” Noah said somewhat dubiously. “A hundred thousand dollars! Going once…going twice…sold! To the woman in the back!”

Haidin turned and left the stage, still looking shocked.

Nate Young was next, and when he went for only fifty-one thousand, Noah and all the other players yelled, “Oooooohhhh!” again.

“And next, the one all you ladies have probably really been waiting for, we have our—to use his own words—strapping and charming host, Tanner Bruin!”

Tanner burst onto stage and started break dancing to “Billie Jean.”

Hilton jumped to her feet, grinning and screaming for him along with all the other women in the room. She couldn’t believe how good of a break dancer he was. And he looked so freaking hot in his suit with that mint green shirt…

“Tanner hails from Vero Beach, Florida, but he was actually born right here in Aspen, Colorado, where he grew up skiing, snowboarding, and, of course, playyying tennis!” Noah rolled his eyes sarcastically at the crowd, and everybody laughed again. “He is currently twenty-five years old and ranked number three in the world! Tanner enjoys gardening, ice ballet, and Jell-O wrestling. He is also president of the Vero Beach chapter of the Richard Simmons Fan Club.”

Hilton burst out laughing. “Ice ballet?!” she gasped to Luke. “What the hell is that?!”

“Bidding starts at one thousand dollars! Do I hear a thousand?”

A few women went back and forth until the bidding was up to fifty thousand, which was about what the other players before Haidin had gone for. Hilton expected Tanner to get a little more since he was the host. A lot of women had probably been waiting, expecting him to be last.

“Seventy-five thousand,” said a cool and confident new voice from behind Hilton. She turned to see Rory, the girl Tanner had won earlier in the women’s auction, standing just three tables behind hers.

Tanner heard her voice too and turned to look at her. When he saw who it was he grinned right at her. Hilton had to look away, because he was looking right in her direction too…but he didn’t even see her. He was grinning over her head at Rory. Hilton took a quick drink of her champagne.

“Seventy-five thousand! Going once…going twice…sold, to Rory from Aspen!” Noah laughed, obviously remembering Rory too.

Hilton turned to look at Rory again. She was smiling at Tanner and holding up her glass of champagne in a silent toast. Hilton turned back to the stage. Tanner gave Rory a chin-up nod and pointed at her for a split second, still grinning.

Even though it was in front of hundreds of people, it was somehow an intimate moment between the two of them, like they already knew each other and there was something going on between them.


“Hey, you should follow them,” Luke said half an hour or so later. He and Hilton were dancing and she was trying not to feel weirdly uneasy about how this weekend was turning out.

“What?” Hilton looked where Luke had nodded. Tanner and Rory had left Andy Roddick, James Blake, and Mike Bryan, to whom they’d been talking for several minutes, and were heading toward the exit.

“It’s where the good pics are gonna be,” Luke said with a grin. “Deidre will love you.”

Hilton hesitated. She knew six months ago she would’ve jumped all over it; she would’ve run after Tanner and any girl, hoping to get some hot pictures. But now…it just kind of sucked. But…it would seem weird to Luke if she didn’t want to, plus she hadn’t really gotten any of the crazy pictures so far this weekend that she knew Deidre wanted. “Thanks!” she said, rushing over to their table to grab her camera. “Come with me!”

Luke hurried to the hallway, and when Hilton joined him a moment later, he pointed in the direction of the Vail Room. “They went around the corner down there,” he said quietly.

The hallway was empty and chilly, and Hilton rubbed her arms as they rushed down it and then stopped to peek around the corner. Luckily the carpet was thick and they didn’t really have to worry about being quiet.

This hall was empty too. Hilton and Luke exchanged a quick glance, then hurried to the glass door at the end. A sign above it read EXIT in bold red letters.

“It’s gonna be noisy,” Hilton whispered. She could just hear the door clicking loudly as they eased it open, and then Tanner and Rory would know they’d been followed. Even though Tanner would know she was just trying to get pictures, she didn’t want him to see her right now for some reason.

“I can’t see them,” Luke whispered back. “They probably won’t hear. Come on.” He pushed on the door handle. The door swung open, making a clicking sound just like Hilton had imagined. They glanced at each other, then stepped out into the three or so inches of snow covering the ground.

Hilton looked around, rubbing her hands rapidly up and down her bare arms. Her feet and strappy stilettos were buried in the snow, and the bottom of her dress was already soaked. They appeared to be in some kind of small courtyard. Suddenly delighted laughter pierced the air.

“Hey, look.” Luke pointed, already heading across the small courtyard area. There was a slightly open gate on the far side. Hilton kicked off her shoes and rushed after him, holding her dress up.

They stopped at the gate and peered through. They were looking right at the lodge’s heated outdoor pool. Two pairs of shoes lay haphazardly on the deck, and Tanner and Rory were both in the pool, laughing giddily. Hilton raised her camera and started taking pictures. She didn’t want to turn the flash on and give herself and Luke away, but there were only two deck lights framing the pool, and the pictures weren’t coming out great.

“This is clutch!” Luke laughed excitedly under his breath, holding up his hand for a high five.

Even though part of Hilton was totally bummed, part of her was caught up in the excitement too. Even with the lack of lighting, these pictures were going to be awesome. Deidre would be thrilled. Hilton just wanted to wait till Tanner and Rory got a little closer to each other in the pool, and then she was going to turn on the flash and get one really good one, then run.

“Hey, get on my shoulders and let me flip you,” Tanner said breathlessly. Even in the dim lighting Hilton could see his irresistible grin.

“Ooohh, you always have the crazy ideas. Just don’t flip me into the wall and make me break a bone!” Rory laughed. Tanner laughed too and splashed at her as she swam closer to him, then he went underwater and Rory positioned herself over him, only her head visible.

A second later they rose out of the water together, Rory on his shoulders, her silvery-blue gown clinging to her in a totally misshapen fashion and Tanner still in his suit jacket. Rory was laughing. Tanner pushed upward, Rory flipped backward, the camera flashed, and Hilton and Luke took off running, both of them laughing hysterically.

“Oh my gosh, that was freakin’ awesome!” Hilton screamed when they were back inside the lodge. She and Luke slapped a high five so hard it left Hilton’s palm stinging. “Woooooo!"

Daisy Jordan grew up in Kendallville, Indiana, graduated from East Noble High School, and then attended Purdue University, where she graduated with degrees in English education and psychology. In May 2008, she finished her master's in school counseling from Purdue.

Now living in Denver, Colorado, Jordan will feature Denver in two of her upcoming books! Love Means Zero is a follow-up to Everything Happens for a Reason.

Visit Daisy online at