Sunday, April 6, 2014

Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Glimpse at Just Destiny by Theresa Rizzo + Giveaway! (International)

I'm so glad to have the beautiful Theresa Rizzo back at Books à la Mode. I interviewed her last year and now she's back with her second novel, Just Destiny. Here's an exclusive behind-the-scenes glimpse at the book's development process, including the significance behind the title!

Just Destiny
Theresa Rizzo

What would you do if your whole world fell apart?

Jenny Harrison made some poor choices in the past, but marrying Gabe was the best thing she’d ever done. They had the perfect marriage, until a tragic accident leaves Gabe brain dead and her world in ruins.

Devastated by grief, she decides to preserve the best of their love by conceiving his child, but Gabe’s family is adamantly opposed, even willing to chance exposing long-held family secrets to stop her. Caught in a web of twisted motives and contentious legal issues, Jenny turns to best friend and attorney, Steve Grant. Steve wants to help Jenny, but he has reservations and secrets of his own.

When something so private and simple turns public and complicated, will Jenny relent? What is Steve willing to sacrifice to help Jenny?

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at how Just Destiny Came About

Just Destiny is a love story wrapped in suspenseful courtroom drama. It’s about a grieving young woman, willing to risk embarrassment and possibly revealing long-held family secrets in court, for the right to conceive her dead husband’s baby, and her lawyer, best friend’s struggle to help her, despite his reservations.

One year my husband was on a business trip on my birthday, so my sister and brother-in-law took me out to dinner to celebrate. I’d cut out this article in the newspaper about a woman being sued by her deceased husband’s family to keep her from having his baby.

The idea of having your dead husband’s baby seemed bizarre, but still it struck me as a frivolous, ridiculous lawsuit. I figured it wasn’t anybody’s business, after all once you get married, your body’s mine and mine’s yours, right?

My attorney sister got this puzzled look on her face and said, “Actually that’s a really interesting legal issue. I wonder if sperm is considered property...”

And then my brother-in-law looked at her, saying, “I’m not sure I’d want you to have my baby after I’m gone.”

So we discussed some legal and moral implications of the situation and what had initially seemed so incredibly simple and private suddenly became complicated and intriguing, propelling me to do some research into the legalities and morality of the issue.

I was so fascinated with the idea that I had to build a story around it. Once I had an idea for the story, I had to come up with some characters. I named my heroine Jenny, because she was a sweet, rather naïve girl who through the course of the book, had to become brave and discover herself and her innate strength. The name Jenny seemed appropriate.

Jenny’s husband, Gabe, was a doctor and such a great guy, and died saving Jenny, I hoped it wasn’t too obvious, but Gabe was short for Gabriel—the angel.

I picked Steve because... honestly, I don’t really know anybody named Steve and it seemed like a good name for my hero. I wanted a little diversity and a new name.

Gabe’s uncle George, the antagonist in the story got his name because George is not a name I’m fond of—no offense to Duchess Kate and Prince William. George just seemed to fit.

Now once I had the idea for the story, and then had characters... I search the internet and magazines for pictures of what I thought these characters might look like—because I’m a very visual person. I got to know them a little by brainstorming backgrounds and bios for them.

Then it was time to give this book a title—at least a working title better than “The Sperm Book”—which is what I originally called it. Wincing here—I know it’s bad, but true.

So when I thought about the main issue I built the story around—the right to have a dead husband’s baby—at the core of the argument is the rights of a dead person. What is a dead person’s Just Destiny? So it became Just Destiny.

What’s in a name for you? Actually, I’m curious. Do you all like your names? Do you think you were aptly named? Ohhh better yet, do people with sweet names grow up to be sweet and do those with tough names—like my husband wanted to name our son Rock, grow up to be tough? BTW, my husband did NOT prevail and our son’s name is Brian.

About the Author

I was born and raised in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Growing up in an Irish-Italian family was never dull or quiet. I have four siblings, two sisters and two brothers. My mother was a nurse and my father a general surgeon, so my interest in medical issues is hardly surprising.

As a youngster, I struggled with mild dyslexia. I couldn't read until third grade, but after years of remedial work, the wondrous world of books opened up to me and I've been a voracious reader ever since. Though possessing a fertile imagination, my practical side never even considered pursuing a writing career, because I'm too fond of eating. So I became a registered nurse.

After college, I married my high school sweetheart and had four children. Though I adore my kids and am very proud of them, parenting requires a lot of patience—not exactly my strength, so I began writing. Writing gave me a creative, intelligent outlet that I needed, and it was far less expensive than therapy and a defense attorney. Writing allows me to create wonderful characters who, if they disappoint me, I can make their lives miserable—literally—or simply kill them off, without going to jail! How great is that?

We lived in the Chicago, then San Diego, before settling in beautiful Colorado. We absolutely love the mountains! When not skiing, hiking, or writing in the mountains, I love to play tennis, take long walks, work in my gardens, decorate our house, read, work with my tile mosaics, and crochet.

My debut novel, He Belongs to Me, was a finalist in the General Fiction Category of The 2013 USA Best Book Awards and my second book, Just Destiny, was just released last week.


Books à la Mode is giving away either a copy of Just Destiny in either print or electronic format OR a $15 Amazon gift card—winner's choice! Yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is answer Theresa's question:
What's in a name for you? Do you like your name and think you were aptly named?

Don't forget to include your email address or Twitter username in your comment so I know who to contact when I choose a winner. Don't make me track you down!!!! No email = No entry!
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Theresa and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the author—a huge thank you to Theresa!
Giveaway ends April 20th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open internationally! That means anyone in the world can enter—woohoo! However, the print copy option is limited to US residents only; everyone else may only enter for the eBook or the gift card.
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!


  1. I don't think names have much to do with someone's personality, but sometimes you do see people with the same name that are quite similar and can't help but wonder if their names have something to do with it.
    I quite like my name, although there's names that I think are prettier, but it represents me and it's something that my mum and my dad named me because they liked it and I like that :)
    Thanks for the giveaway! :)

  2. I did not like my name as a child but accept it now as mine.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  3. I have a pretty funny story about my initials. When I was growing up it was very popular to have your initials put on your clothes. Mine spelled EAT. Could you imagine me walking down the hall of high school with EAT written on the back pocket of my jeans!!! I DON"T THINK SO!!!! I really didn't like my mom for doing that to me. I know she didn't think of it when she and dad named me but it sure did upset me at the time growing up. Now we laugh about it and sometimes she reminds me that now that I am married the are ETA. Estimated Time Of Arrival!!! Oh well I guess I just can't win.

  4. My mum went back home to her mum and family to give birth to me, and she had 5 sisters and 6 brothers. So there were plenty of names to choose from! My mum and dad called my Sandra (my mums youngest sister) Jean(my mums oldest sister) and it was their bedroom that was commandeered for me to born in so it seemed quite fitting. My nanna (my mum's mum) actually delivered me too! I was the last one that my mum's mum delivered at home as a home birth as after that it was more popular to be delivered in hospital.

  5. My parents decided to be creative when giving me a name. I am Dutch, but my mom got my name from a French movie. I don't know anyone who has the same name, only a couple have a similar-ish name. I do think it's better than a cliche name where you have so many namesakes. Though I guess I would like a name that is a bit more common, so that people won't misspell it every time (added to that my surname they usually misspell too)! And my second name comes from my aunt who passed away when she was 18, so I really like that I was named after her (weird thing, I actually look quite a lot like her).

    rochella DOT duijs AT hotmail DOT com

  6. Sometimes I find my name to be annoying. Mostly for the primary reason people can't pronounce it properly. It annoys me when I have to shorten it to accommodate others. I do wish people would take the time to learn to properly pronounce another person's name or at least ask them to help. Trust me when I say we would appreciate it so much.

  7. My parents named me after both of my grandmothers.. it just so happens that their names are Victoria and Gloria so my name rhymes :). I think my name suits me quite well because it translates to victory and glory, both of which indicate my strength and ability to overcome adversity

  8. For years I did not care for my name ,too many Debbies . My father wanted a boy,so my middle name is male. But I'm O.K with it now.

  9. I was named after my Dad so I never liked it when I was a kid because I was called junior. Now that my Dad's gone I think of it as sort of a tribute to him so I'm better with it these days.

  10. Señor Sensible, I totally get wanting to have your "own" name. Glad it's more comfort to your these days and hopefully people don't still call a grown man, Junior.

  11. Hi Debby, seems like your folks gave you the best of both worlds--a more common name to help you fit in and an unusual middle name to express your uniqueness. Hmm wondering what you chose for your own children's names . . .

  12. Hi Arlinda, Hmm now I'm curious as to how your name is pronounced. I don't think it's too much to expect that people make an effort to get one's name right. Arlinda is such a pretty name.

  13. Nope, they're over it. Funny thing is, now I probably wouldn't care.

  14. Hi Rochella, I'm glad you like your name. Yeah, I totally get the misspelling. People misspell the simplest of names, so you shouldn't let that bother you--it's a reflection on them, not you! I think it's an honor to be named after a loved one--especially if the name is as pretty as yours is.

  15. Jeanz, What a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing.

  16. Grinning here. If you just use your two initials, you're an extraterrestrial, ET. She's not gonna win that one. Do you have kids of your own? Doesn't take much to upset them. Growing up isn't easy. Soo did you do better by your own children????

  17. Good, I'm glad you accept your name now. I guess, as an adult, you could always change it . . .

  18. Hi Carla, sometimes you DO see people with the same names with similar traits, I wonder if that's because some names just seem to remind people in general of those traits--or if everybody reads those naming baby books and HOPE that by naming their child something, it'll cause her to assume those name traits. I guess we'll never know. Thanks for stopping by!

  19. Sounds like you've grown into a more confident person . . .

  20. Oooh... this sounds very intriguing! I do like my name. Growing up there weren't too many Erins so I felt unique :) However, in my family, we joke that m parents liked the name too much b/c my brother's middle name is also Aaron. My mom claims she didn't do it on purpose but that both the boy and the girl name fit us both! Oh well. Thanks for sharing!

  21. I did do better with him. I have one grown son and he seems to like his name ok. I named him after his grandfather whom he loves to no end!!!

  22. Growing up I thought my name was pretty boring. It was just Kate. It wasn't short for Katherine or Kaitlyn. I remember everyone else had much more interesting names and I use to wish my name was like that. Eventually I realised that my name was unique in a way. All the Kate's that I knew were really Kathrine's or Kaitlyn's. I was the only just plain Kate.


  23. It's pronounced R-Lynn-da buy most people automatically say Arlene or some other name and it gets frustrating. I usually shorten to just Linda for other people's convenience.

  24. People aren't very smart then, 'cause Ar-Linda is what what it looked like to me. It's pretty. Just correct them if you like it better than Linda. At times people try to shorten Theresa To Terry or Tessi--only once and they don't persist after I correct them.

  25. Growing up I never liked my name Cheryl. It sounds like an old grandma name (and ironically it is! It was my great grandmother's first name). However by the time I hit my teens I just started shortening it to Cheri and I liked it because it sounded girly but still pretty when you say it aloud. Now no one really calls me Cheryl except for my grandparents. I introduce myself as Cheri so most people think that is my actual name - I'd like to keep it that way!

  26. I think there is a lot to names! Apparently my parents disagreed so strongly about what to name me they had to compromise with a third name that was tolerable to them both! I have to say, I am glad my mom stood her ground because I KNOW that I am not a 'sheila', which is what my dad wanted to name me...just doesn't feel right at all. Mother knows best :)
    Interesting topic to discuss so much about! Thanks for the giveaway :)
    mbrigham7 at yahoo dot com

  27. I have the most ordinary name in the world, but that's ok.


  28. Hi Michelle, glad you like your name. Funny how you think you're not a Sheila--why not? What do you have against Sheila? Somehow I picture Sheila as a blonde Australian pretty little delicate thing.

  29. Funny how you wanted a more exotic name as a child. I'm surprised that the child you didn't make up a name that it was short for and just tell everybody that. Did you give your daughter or son a more distinctive name?

  30. I think that's kind of sweet your brother's middle name is so similar you yours. Hope you like your brother...

  31. I do like my name and how it is spelt too

  32. I used to research names and their origins a lot! It's fascinating :D

    I like my first name, Carla, but I've always liked my second name, Cecilia, a lot more---sadly no one calls me that one.

    Thank you for the giveaway!

    jen7waters at gmail dot com

  33. Hi Laurie, Just wondering why you like your name and is your's the more common spelling or unusual spelling?

  34. Hi Carla, If you've always liked your second name a lot more I'm surprised you haven't started using that --or use them both. Both are pretty names.

  35. Aw, thank you Theresa! I tried, But among the family it was too late, they all call me by my first name since I can remember. The same happened at school; I tried again at college, but it didn't stick. Though sometimes my friends call me Ceci, or CC. :)

  36. I used to be very interested in the meanings of various names, and I still find that a fascinating subject. My own name (Dovilė) means 'to give' or 'giving' + 'hope' in Lithuanian. I know it is an unusual name outside my country, but over here it's actually pretty common among the people of my generation (apparently, all the parents read the same baby name book around the time I was born:). I like my name (definitely way more than the ones my mom told me she was considering for me or which my grandma wanted to name me). It's common enough not to make me spell it out every time, I like how it sounds, it's feminine, and I like that it's original in my extended family, so there are no cousins with the same name or relatives that I'd be named after. Oh, and it's one of those names that are impossible to make nasty rhyming nicknames with, which was very important when I was little:)

    spamscape [at] gmail [dot] com

  37. Names are hard because obviously you don't get to choose them. Mine is OK but not great.

  38. I love my name. The story of how my mom chose it is incredibly cute and I love the fact that it's known but not extremely common. Win win :)

  39. I like my name other than I share it often with people in my life. Not that it is that common but I seem to attract them or something

    fencingromein at hotmail dot com

  40. Email:
    I like names that are unique or with a special meaning of memory. My mom named me after her mesmerizing childhood friend.

  41. I am ok with my name. I am also called Bekki. My mom chose the unique spelling as apposed to the typical Becky. When I was a child some people called me Becca but I didn't care for it and I still do not. I don't mind Bec though. And my mom sometimes calls me Reba, which I answer to, but only to her. I know a ton of Rebecca's but sharing my name with a bunch of people never really bothered me. bekki1820cb at gmail dot com

  42. I love my name - Karin :although people often spell it wrong( Karen) I think it's a nice name- another thing I like is that in Hebrew my name is spelt with another letter that most people that have my name don't have.


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