The Moments that Shaped My Journey

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY

As a former vice president of marketing and broadcasting for the Cleveland Indians, I have walked a provocative 20-year journey of my own as a woman in the male-dominated professional sports world.

In 2003, I left behind that career in pro sports to marry my husband and move over six hours away from my home in Cleveland, Ohio. People thought I was crazy to leave such a position, but it was a necessary detour in my life’s journey. I was taking a leap of faith.

At that point, though, the confidence to write just wasn’t there. So, I decided instead to teach sports marketing at area colleges. In 2013, courtesy of several subconscious nudges, I decided the book idea I’d been playing in my head for nearly ten years was long overdue. Thus, I’ve opted for job number three, hoping it will be a perfect fit.

“I’ve always wanted to write a story about the mysterious events that took place in Fatima, Portugal in 1917, to honor my grandmothers. They were from the greatest of generations – suffering through poverty, two world wars, and lifestyles that would be beyond belief to most young people.The thing that amazes me is that, after all they endured, they never lost their faith.”

A major moment of inspiration occurred while visiting family in Calabria, Italy in 2012; A young refugee from Africa was peddling jewelry along the beach. He was powerfully built, yet moved in the lithe sort of way many pro athletes do.

I had a flashback to my Minor League Baseball days as the General Manager of a team where half of the roster could not speak English – just one of many challenges facing foreigners in a new land.

I couldn’t help wondering about the hopes and dreams of this boy on the beach. If he’d been born in the States would he be a baseball star? My thoughts wandered to Larry Doby, who broke the color-barrier in baseball’s American League in 1947 with Cleveland. Knowing about such struggles, I whispered a prayer for this boy and the rest nearby like him. It was the seed that would later sprout into my novel.

As a former vice president of marketing and broadcasting for the Cleveland Indians, I have walked a provocative 20-year journey of my own as a woman in the male-dominated professional sports world.

In 2003, I left behind that career in pro sports to marry my husband and move over six hours away from my home in Cleveland, Ohio. People thought I was crazy to leave such a position, but it was a necessary detour in my life’s journey. I was taking a leap of faith.

At that point, though, the confidence to write just wasn’t there. So, I decided instead to teach sports marketing at area colleges. In 2013, courtesy of several subconscious nudges, I decided the book idea I’d been playing in my head for nearly ten years was long overdue. Thus, I’ve opted for job number three, hoping it will be a perfect fit.

“I’ve always wanted to write a story about the mysterious events that took place in Fatima, Portugal in 1917, to honor my grandmothers. They were from the greatest of generations – suffering through poverty, two world wars, and lifestyles that would be beyond belief to most young people.The thing that amazes me is that, after all they endured, they never lost their faith.”

A major moment of inspiration occurred while visiting family in Calabria, Italy in 2012; A young refugee from Africa was peddling jewelry along the beach. He was powerfully built, yet moved in the lithe sort of way many pro athletes do.

I had a flashback to my Minor League Baseball days as the General Manager of a team where half of the roster could not speak English – just one of many challenges facing foreigners in a new land.

I couldn’t help wondering about the hopes and dreams of this boy on the beach. If he’d been born in the States would he be a baseball star? My thoughts wandered to Larry Doby, who broke the color-barrier in baseball’s American League in 1947 with Cleveland. Knowing about such struggles, I whispered a prayer for this boy and the rest nearby like him. It was the seed that would later sprout into my novel.

A Deeper Understanding

Author Q&A

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  • What research did you do for Fatima and the Sons of Abraham?

    I read a book on Fatima that consisted of a series of letters translated from Portuguese and written by the surviving visionary, Lucia to her bishop at the time. They were a lovely remembrance of her cousins Jacinta and Francisco, and the struggles they shared during the time period of the apparitions in 1917 (as well as what the pair went through a couple years later when they died).

    Next, I did a ton of reading from various news sources and blogs regarding the refugee crisis in Africa and the Middle East. I met with a professor at the University of Scranton who is also the imam of the mosque for Muslim students on campus – I found that interesting in and of itself, since the college is run by a group of Catholic Jesuits. He wisely suggested that I read an amazing book by Karen Armstrong called “A History of God.”

    I also met with a Syrian doctor in the nearby town of Wilkes-Barre. I learned a number of things from him that I will never forget and intend to blog about.

  • What are some of the most interesting facts you stumbled upon while researching?

    The first thing that astounded me is that Muslims believe in the virgin birth of Jesus. I knew that, like Jews, Muslims believe that Jesus is a great prophet, but I had no idea that Mary is one of the four most revered women in Islam and is mentioned in the Koran.

    Another surprising fact that I was unaware of is that Syria, as a country, took in refugees from other conflicts, including from Palestine when people fled in the late 1940’s and 1960’s. These people lived in camps that eventually became towns, but never became Syrian citizens. Rather, they remained refugees under the protection of the United Nations.

    Also, believe it or not, I never knew the story of the Angel of Peace associated with The Marian apparitions at Fatima until I started researching for this book.

    One of the last things I learned that fascinated me was from the book by Father Andrew Apostoli (who is probably the foremost expert on the supernatural occurrences at Fatima in 1917), called “Fatima for Today.” In the book, he stated that the children were taught by the Angel of Peace to pray on their knees with their foreheads touching the ground. Sound familiar?

  • Have you personally visited the locations mentioned throughout the book?

    All except Jerusalem and Dubai. A priest friend of mine took me on a tour (of sorts) of Jerusalem, thanks to some help with images on the internet.

    The horse track in Dubai was a place I had introduced to my students in a sports facilities management class.

    Calabria, Italy has yet to be discovered. There are some beautiful beaches there, and the town where Darius learns the game from Peppe is the place where my paternal grandparents were born, as well as my husband. The views from there are just as spectacular as I described in the book. It makes you realize how desperately poor people were to leave such a gorgeous place for so-called “greener pastures.”

    The area of Sicily I talk about in the book is a place I could go back to again and again. I first found the baseball field described in the book via the internet, and it was a bitch to find in real life. We arrived as players were packing up to go home after a game that had been canceled, and surprisingly, several players and coaches were actually Cuban by birth. They could not have been nicer.

    I have not been to Zebulon, North Carolina, but I based it in part on my experiences as General Manager in Kinston, North Carolina…a magical time.

  • Do you have a favorite character in Fatima and the Sons of Abraham? Why?

    T.P. and Sister Colleen are minor characters, but they infuse the story with their wit and wisdom, not unlike some members of their generation who I have been privileged to know.

  • What did you find as the most difficult part of the writing process?

    Having to cut the cord with scenes that I had worked so hard to develop. They talk in filmmaking about what’s left on the cutting room floor, and I guess it’s the same thing. In order to build the most cohesive work that will appeal to the broadest audience you have to make sacrifices. Also, my first draft had way too many characters in it, so I had to let some of those folks go. One was really critical, however, so I repurposed him into the character of Paolo.

  • Which writers or books inspire you?

    I have always been a big fan of books and films with a socio-cultural slant, whether it’s historical fiction or a dystopian world. One of the first books I remember having to read in school that blew my mind was George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.” But, I recently read Kristin Hannah’s “The Nightingale” and absolutely loved it.

    Historical fiction about Italy is always fun for me, and right now I’m reading an old book called “The Venetian Mask” by Rosalind Laker (and suddenly our screwed-up government seems not so screwy, compared to that of 18th century Venice).

    I have devoured everything by Adriana Trigiani and always laugh my butt off. I think the book “Haveli” by my award-winning friend Suzanne Fisher Staples should finally become a movie, and there’s a lot of YA fiction like hers that I enjoy. I thought that “The Book Thief” was brilliant, and I loved Harry Potter.

  • What was the hardest thing about writing Fatima and the Sons of Abraham?

    Cutting scenes, as mentioned above.

  • Give us some insight on a main character. What is it about him that makes him so special?

    Paolo is an interesting character for me. He’s a bad boy with the nagging conscience. The machismo in Paolo is a little bit of my brother Tony. He’s only 13 months younger than me and we did battle as teenagers. Some of those fights have become legend among my siblings and cousins.

    Although my character Paolo can be very shallow, which is not my brother at all, some of the tough talk is Tony, although maybe it’s a little bit of me too. I guess we get it from our dad, who did not mince words when highly ticked off.

  • What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing?

    Being a control freak, I would have to say that control is the biggest advantage. Certainly if you can do well with it, there’s a financial advantage. However, that is not the case for most people, because they simply don’t sell enough books.

    For someone like me who is going through this for the first time, it was difficult to determine who to listen to and who not to listen to (maybe people who have a publisher would say that, too; I don’t know). Naturally the cost is all on you and can be a bit scary, but it’s an investment. You have to see yourself as an entrepreneur.

  • What message(s) would you like readers to take away after reading Fatima and the Sons of Abraham?

    First, I want people to realize that whether we like it or not, we are one big, fat, dysfunctional human family. If people who are close blood to one another can’t get along, how can people from different nations do it?

    Second, peace isn’t something that happens from the outside in, but from the inside out. If we can’t see ourselves as spiritual beings as much as we see ourselves as physical and financial-portfolio-carrying beings (and get ourselves into harmony with The Almighty), the world will continue to repeat the same historical mistakes over and over until we’re wiped out.

    Third, this is the era of “Women,” and taking some cues from the holiest woman who ever walked the face of the earth might not be a bad idea.

    And lastly, it’s time to change from a “ME” culture to a “WE” culture – we are simply too interconnected now not to. It’s time to face that fact, quit running from it, and instead use it to the good advantage of all.

Start Your Journey

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