One of "5 more over 50" Writers to Watch, Poets & Writers, Nov/Dec 2017

IPPY Awards Bronze Medal Winner, Literary Fiction, 2018

Lambda Literary Award Finalist, Gay Fiction, 2018

Sarton Women's Book Award Finalist, Contemporary Fiction, 2018

Foreword Indies Book of the Year Award Finalist, Historical Fiction, 2017

Poets & Writers Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award, 2017

In 2009, eighty-five-year-old art professor Ludka Zeilonka gets drawn into a political firestorm when her grandson, Tommy, is among a group of gay Massachusetts teachers fired for allegedly discriminating against Christian kids in high school classrooms. The ensuing battle to reinstate the teachers raises the specter of Ludka's World War II past―a past she's spent a lifetime trying to forget.

The firings are the brainchild of Warren Meck, a deeply religious local radio host and father of three who is hoping to pass a religious freedom bill in Massachusetts. Meck favors achieving his goals through careful planning and legislation, and is disturbed when violence erupts. His concern quickly turns to alarm when he realizes those within his inner circle might be inciting the violence.

As Ludka's esteemed political family defends Tommy under increasingly vicious conditions, a stranger with connections to Ludka's past shows up and threatens to expose her for illegally hoarding a valuable painting presumed stolen by the Nazis. Only one other person knew about the painting―a man she's been trying to find for sixty years.

Compulsively readable, This Is How It Begins is a timely novel about free speech, religious freedom, the importance of empathy and the bitter consequences of long-buried secrets.

Click on the orange button below to enter the giveaway for a signed paperback copy of Joan Dempsey's award-winning novel, This Is How It Begins plus a $20 Amazon gift card (or a personal check for $20 if you're not a fan of Amazon). After you enter, keep your eye on your inbox for confirmation and further details. One winner will be selected at random each month, and both entrants and winners will be notified via email the first week of the following month. You only have to enter once and you'll be eligible for each month's drawing thereafter.


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