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!