Monthly Archives: May 2014

Dialect ~ Lend Me Thine Ear

Harmful Intent, Amazon SmWhen writing my contemporary novel, HARMFUL INTENT, where my Brooklyn born and bred female PI is place in Texas, I had to get the rhythm and tone of the Texas accent right. So I listened to hours Kenneth Copeland tapes. I compared Copeland’s voice to that of his wife Gloria and also a bit to their son John.

Kenneth Copeland likes to throw in little tidbits about Texas life and has quite a few stories to tell. In a few instances, I stole from him. I don’t feel too bad because I understand his long time friend Jerry Savalle has also stolen from his sermons over the years.

Now that I’m writing my next detective novel, set in the north east, I find myself listening to hours of Mel Brooks and Billy Crystal tapes on You Tube to get the cadence and tone of my Jewish political activist character down pat.

A quick look at the story line of HARMFUL INTENT…

Betrayal runs in private investigator Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels’ family. So, why is she surprised when her husband of one year cheats on her? The real shock is his murder, with the local lawman pegging her as the prime suspect.

Ronnie Ingels is a Brooklyn bred private investigator who travels to west Texas, where her cheating husband is murdered. As she hunts the killer to clear her name, she becomes the hunted.

Deputy Sergeant Dawson Hughes, a former Army Ranger, is a man folks want on their side. Only he’s not so sure at first, he’s on the meddling New York PI’s side. As the evidence points away from her, he realizes the more she butts in, the more danger she attracts to herself.

Sweet, askance romance, warm intimacy, sophisticated themes presented tastefully.

Purchase Link/Amazon

 


WORKS OF DARKNESS by VB Tenery ~ a review

Works of DarknessPolice Chief Matt Foley’s beloved, deceased wife Mary was best friends with Sara Bradford, but Matt doesn’t like Sara or trust her. In fact, deep down, he thinks she’s guilty of having murdered her own husband. He just hasn’t been able to prove it…yet.
Sara is very attractive, smart, capable, and loving.

 

She adopts two orphan children who were involved in her church’s bus program bringing under privileged kids to Sunday school. Yet, she’s by no means invincible. She has fears and makes mistakes. She comes off like a real living, breathing person.
Then a small child’s body is found on the grounds of what used to be a Christian camp grounds. This missing persons cold-case is twenty-five years old. The little girl who is now known to have been murdered was Sara’s childhood neighbor and best friend. In fact Sara was the last person to have seen little Penny Pryor alive. Could Sara have a valuable memory locked away the police can use to solve this heinous crime? That’s what Chief Foley wonders. This heart wrenching cold case opens terrible old wounds for the child’s parents and those who knew the family, including Sara’s aunt.

 

There are no shortage of plot twists and turns and they’re done in a seamless and believable way. Sara is buffeted by brutal corporate maneuvering at her job. Then she becomes a target and her physical safety is in jeopardy. She’s on a roll…a downward roll. Matt Foley begins to have sympathy for her plight but can’t let go of his conviction that she’s a murderess.

 

Local town politic and corporate politics is portrayed in a knowing way. The way upwardly mobile characters jockey for position and advantage is convincing. They definitely make a direct hit below the belt when somebody suggests Matt married his somewhat older wife for her money. Matt is hurt and angered when he hears of this ugly rumor, not for himself, but because he thinks these allegations might mar Mary’s memory and legacy.
The author supplies credible red herrings. In fact, she had me believing a certain character I liked a great deal was viable as the child’s murderer and the one behind Sara’s physical danger. Then the author pulls in the other loose end, Sara’s husband’s murder, in a manner I was not expecting.

 

While Chief Foley has nothing but mistrust for Sara, a lop-sided romantic triangle of sorts is unfolding. The cantankerous female medical examiner has her eyes on Matt (or should we say, her hooks out), but Matt is still grieving his wife’s death from cancer. Meanwhile, Matt’s friend, the county sheriff has a hankering for the lady ME.

 

The author brings the novel to a close with a crescendo. But it appears as if the villain might be victorious. Then in a most unexpected way, he is defeated.

 

PURCHASE LINK: Amazon.  http://amzn.to/1t78bpX

 


Armed Forces Day ~ Recognizing Our Armed Forces

Defense Dept SealI’ve long been in awe of our Armed Forces, the finest military force that has ever existed on the planet. And so Armed Forces Day is a perfect day to show appreciation.

It’s imperative that our young men and women serving abroad far away from their families, often in dangerous circumstances, feel our appreciation. It is my hope that this blog in some small way will help boost the morale of any member of the US military who happens to read it. I also hope to hold out the hand of friendship and support to the families of military personnel.

US Air Force, Thunderbirds

 

On May 17th, Armed Forces Day 2014, across the fruited plain there will be military air shows to enjoy as well as parades and other civic activities. It’s a great day to make it a family time. Take the kids and have some fun, but at the same time teach them to respect our men and women in the US military.

 

This is a time I have to speak in outrage about the unconscionable treatment our veterans are getting in Veterans Hospitals. The worst case is in the Arizona VA Hospital system where veterans have been reported to have been deliberately placed on secret waiting lists, resulting in veterans dying. It’s my opinion that care in VA hospitals across the country must be improved. Our veterans were assured they would have medical care when they got out of the military. This is not something that out of the kindness of our hearts we give to veterans. No! It’s a contract this nation signed with its military personnel. It’s part of the the benefits they are guaranteed when they sign up.

We tend to think our veterans have been treated better in days gone by and that it’s only in this present day that it’s gotten so bad. There have been delays in giving veterans back pay in days gone by, and the treatment of Vietnam veterans was horrid, a national disgrace. It’s time as a nation to get it together and improve our track record with regard to our military veterans.

Burning Hearts, Amazon SmI’m a supporter of the US military. My very first novel, BURNING HEARTS, was an arson/murder mystery with its male main character a World War II hero veteran. During the war, Lieutenant Lorne Kincaid appeared to be a motor cycle courier, but in actuality he was sent on dangerous undercover assignments in France for General George S. Patton. After the war, Lorne decides to settle down in a small village where he helps the story’s heroine, Erica Brogna, try to rescue a woman trapped in a burning house. When the wealthiest family in the village realize their dilettante son might be the major suspect, they leave no stone unturned  attempting to frame Lorne.

Flag, American

 

 

 

 


Long Island Romance Writers Have a Smashing Luncheon

IMG_0900The Long Island Chapter of Romance Writers of American held their annual luncheon on Friday, May 9th, at the one of the loveliest venues in Nassau County, Fox Hollow. This was the place to be for romance authors, editors, and agents.

 

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Reminiscent of an estate of old with picturesque gardens and winding paths.

 

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The grounds, tucked into eight acres of woodland, were especially glorious with spring blooms showing their colors.

 

 

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My dear friend, author Jenna Victoria, is the Chair of the Long Island Chapter of the luncheon. I’m sure that means she’s the chief cook and bottle washer. At any event, she did a terrific job at bottle washing this time.

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The affair opened with a white gloved, champagne welcome.

 

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I understand the event started seventeen years ago as a Victorian tea in a member’s back yard and has grown to a gala event.

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The room is impressive. The meal was delish, with the most incredible chocolate mouse cake for dessert. And then after that…they had a ice-cream sundae bar. I swore to my table I would NOT have a sundae…but you know, of course, I did. Good too.

 

Bette Lee FoxThis year’s keynote speaker was Bette Lee Fox, Managing Director of Library Journal and the recipient of the 2013 RWA Stephens Industry Award. She spoke on the value of libraries to writers. Many times writers think when their book goes into a library and it’s borrowed, they are losing sales. Bette assured the group this is not so. Armed with stats, she pointed out that library goers out paced other readers in the purchase of books and ebooks. In fact they often bought books they’d previously borrowed.

 

IMG_0889At the end of the event, winners from the raffle of baskets upon baskets of wonderful romance novels and other goodies were announced.IMG_0888

Me and Jenna…

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Edgy Christian Fiction Just Ain’t That Edgy Anymore ~ Tracy Krauss and I Simul-Post on Each Other’s Blogs

Tracy KraussWow, Tracy and I have been saying we’re going to have this discussion on this blog for quite a while. Somehow real life kept getting in the way, but I’m glad we’re finally getting to it. This might also be a good place to announce that the two of us are taking over the Edgy Christian Fiction site. We are just beginning to get out sea-legs there, so the site will be undergoing some visual changes in the near future, but its spirit will remain the same. http://edgychristianfictionlovers.ning.com/

 

Now let’s get on to the discussion…

 

NikePixNike: It seems the subject has come up naturally in our emails for quite a while now of how “edgy Christian fiction” doesn’t seem so scary to many Christian readers and writers anymore. Isn’t that right Tracy? We’ve noticed traditional publishers who, five or more years ago, had unbendable rules about certain taboos are now more relaxed in that area. Of course, Christian writers making a beeline to publish as indie authors has pushed the envelope. And to my mind, that’s the true definition of edgy…pushing the edge of the envelope into deeper, more complex and troubling issues.

 
Unless we live in isolation and in a totally Christian bubble, the culture and the times are influencing Christian writers. Many of us have experienced societal problems in our own families – things that as recently as in the 1990s and the early 2000s, most American Christians did not face. If our teenage and pre-teen children and grandchildren are not sexually active, they have classmates in public school who are. If they are not experimenting with drugs, they know kids in the neighborhood who are. They have intimate knowledge about sexuality in their teen years that many of us didn’t have until after our marriage. For these and other reasons, it is no longer possible for some Christian authors to write novels that do not have somewhat edgy themes or sub-themes. I am one of those authors. My historical novels, and my contemporary, HARMFUL INTENT, which just released, are sweet in the romance department with a few warm intimacy moments, but as they’re whodunits, they have gritty police procedural elements. They also encompass adult issues (such as child abuse, abortion, adultery, substance abuse) in a tasteful manner.

 

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Tracy: I totally agree with everything you’ve said, Nike. Society isn’t he same anymore and it is unrealistic to expect to reach the modern demographic – Christian or otherwise – if we are hamstrung by outdated rules and regulations. I am not saying that authors should purposely cross any lines simply for the sake of doing so. It’s not about compromising our faith or even lowering moral standards. The Bible is clear about what is acceptable behavior for Christians. However, because of societal pressure, more and more people – even Christians – find themselves in unsavory situations. These are stories that need to be told. People make mistakes. Growing spiritually is a journey and with today’s pressures people have an even harder time sticking to the straight and narrow.

 
For instance, my husband and I were talking the other day about how things have changed since our parents’ generation. My parents (at least to my knowledge) never had any experience with drug use. Growing up in the sixties and seventies, we both have plenty of experience and would be hard pressed to find anyone we know of that same generation who hasn’t. I remember seeing a scandal on TV during the nineties when a well known politician revealed that he had smoked pot as a university student. There were calls for his resignation. That kind of response would be laughed at today. Who didn’t smoke pot in university? (I know I did.) It’s not something I am particularly proud of, but it’s just a fact.

 
The same goes for sex. Kids are experimenting with sex at a younger and younger age. I teach secondary school, and again, I would be hard pressed to find a virgin past the tenth grade. I even know several girls who have experimented with same sex relationships because this has now become almost cool. It’s mainstream. None of their peers bat an eye. The response is, “How else am I supposed to know if it’s for me?” While this is an unfortunate lie of the devil, it is also the new reality. Even Christian kids and young adults are having trouble standing up to the pressure.

 

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Nike: You so nailed it. Whether it be through public school sex ed classes, or what passes for PG-13 movies, kids today know a great deal about sex. What they’re getting from media and their friends is often presented in an extremely crass manner. There’s nothing lovely about it. I’m hearing from my 16 year-old exactly what you mentioned about same sex experimentation among girls…that it’s thought to be cool. And let’s be honest. The boys are excited by it. And the school tells the girls it’s perfectly appropriate to experiment in that way.

 

 
An increasing number of Christian authors have been called to write novels in such a way so that Christians who are facing these difficult issues with their own children and grandchildren can find comfort, be uplifted, and not feel so alone. Often those in the pews are hiding these problems from their fellow church goers. Even though many of them are going through the same issues, they dare not share the burden because of shame. This is an area where Christian fiction can break new ground and minister to those in the body of Christ who are hurting.

 

Wind Over MarshdaleTracy: I love what you just said about Christian fiction being a vehicle to minister to the body of Christ. This is exactly what I feel called to do in my writing. I am a firm believer that fiction can be a powerful tool. I have been ministered to by various books I’ve read, as I’m sure you have, too. (Frank Peretti always comes to mind. I’m still his number one fan! Francine Rivers is another writer whose books have had a profound impact.) Most of the time I try not to compare myself to what others are doing, but once in awhile I feel inadequate – like my work is shallow or too romantic or not theological enough… or whatever. Then I get feedback from readers saying that they identified with a certain character or have gone through a similar circumstance and I know that God is using my words. Even if the impact is felt by only a few, it is still ministry. Not every church has thousands of members.

 
Whether I am the right person to minister to the teens we talked about earlier is still up for debate. In all honesty, I doubt it. So far my audience has been more along the lines of thirty – somethings to fifty-somethings and that’s okay with me. The point isn’t so much the target audience as the fact that society has changed – for everyone. There are people who need to know they are not alone in facing some of the issues that plague our current culture. These could be recent converts, backslidden Christians, or people disillusioned with playing ‘church’. I seem to come across more and more of the latter these days and that tells me something. People are searching but they are tired of the status quo.

 
One of the things I’ve tried to do over the years in my writing is avoid giving pat answers. (Other than the fact that Jesus is the answer. Period.) Working through the rest of life’s problems will be messy. Even ‘good Christian’ families have struggles that might surprise if shared openly. My husband and I used to pastor a church and believe me, our family is not perfect by any stretch. In essence this is what the whole ‘edgy’ debate is about. Accepting people where they are at, allowing them to see that they are not alone, and finally, pointing them toward the one who can support them along the journey.

Harmful Intent, Amazon Lg

 

Nike: I have a background in public relations. I worked mostly in the bridal industry, but also for a private college. The rule of thumb is that for every one letter or email received, there were ten other individuals who were impacted but did not write. I’ve gotten feedback that the characters in my novels, warts and all, feel like real people with real struggles. I also have a readership of mostly women from 30-something to 50-plus. But these are the very women who are often struggling with children and grandchildren facing these issues…in a day and age when parental authority is being pushed aside. And these women are struggling with marital issues, adultery, divorce.

 
Yes, most definitely, Jesus is the answer to all problems, but a lot of people can’t seem to wrap their minds around that. This is where a good story as a vehicle can help. I’ve been told by Christian nay sayers that the crime scenes in my whodunits are a tad too gritty. I can assure everyone that what I describe isn’t even close to the reality police detectives, CSI, and EMS personnel see at a real murder scene. I’ve also been told murder mysteries can’t minister. They’re simply entertainment, and often dark entertainment. It’s my firm belief that at the heart of all crime fiction (Christian suspense and the most worldly general fiction thrillers) is the struggle between good and evil. My novels are a bit of a warning, wrapped up in a good story with lots of humor. I also try to depict ordinary, decent people struggling against evil. Many non-Christians as well as backsliders were finally able to submit to the Lord after a total awakening to gross evil. They saw raw, gross evil, admitted Satan was real, and then were forced to admit a Holy God was real.

 

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Tracy: As a ‘fan’ of your work, I don’t think your crime scenes are too graphic by any means, Nike. I wonder if these critics have read Ted Dekker? He is rarely blatant about the gospel message, but the ‘good vs. evil’ theme definitely resonates and this does speak to people.

 

 
I think my own writing is edgy in terms of the moral failings that the characters have to work through. (Pornography, promiscuity, drugs and alcohol abuse…) I’ve also tackled potentially controversial topics like the occult, native spirituality, and intelligent design. I don’t try to wrap these issues up neatly since I don’t presume to have all the answers. Instead, my goal is to make people think; make them ask questions and potentially investigate the topic further. For instance, my first novel AND THE BEAT GOES ON is about a scientist who comes across evidence for creation and then has to grapple with his believes about the origins of the universe. I’ve had a lot of feedback from readers saying they like the way the book asks more questions than it answers. One lady wrote me a hand written letter because she didn’t have a computer, but expressed her appreciation for the way I addressed the issue of intelligent design without trying to ‘explain’ everything. Another woman of native ancestry commended the frankness with which I addressed smudging in WIND OVER MARHSDALE, while another said she identified so strongly with the character of Joleen in MY MOTHER THE MAN-EATER because of her own checkered past that she bought a copy for her sister-in-law, a non-Christian who also had a similar past.

 

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Nike: Life is not easy by any means. The technological age has brought many vices into our homes. With a click of the TV wand, or a click of the mouse we can be face-to-face with full frontal nudity…and if we don’t have parental guidelines locked into place, so can our children. Teens plan and engage in gang-bullying via the internet. Church goers may find their child or grandchild is the victim of this bullying, or is part of the gang out of fear if he/she isn’t she/he will be the next victim.

 
Christians who are facing these issues no longer want to feel like pariahs within their churches. They don’t want to have to pretend any longer they’ve got the perfect Christian family. Many backsliders left because they did feel like outcasts. I hope my novels can reach them. I hope my stories can reach seekers who have more questions than they have answers about God, the meaning of life, and what it’s all about.

 

 

Purchase Links:
WIND OVER MARSHDALE: Amazon http://amzn.to/1j1ceE8
HARMFUL INTENT: Amazon http://amzn.to/SsPthK


HARMFUL INTENT ~ I’m Now Officially an Indie Author

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It’s been quite a ride. Exhilarating as well as frustrating. Who would ever have thought I’d turn into such a fuss-budget and a ninny. I worried over every little thing, at least three times. Drove a few friends stark raving mad with incessant “newbie”questions. Then I finally did it. I clicked on the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing program’s button that sent my manuscript and cover to be published. And voila!

HARMFUL INTENT is a departure for me and a risk. Up until now I’ve been writing classic historical murder mysteries set in the 1940s. So, writing a contemporary whodunit is new ground for me. This one doesn’t skimp on suspense but is hilarious in parts. I’ve really upped the laugh factor. Heroine Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels has a quirky and often sardonic sense of humor. Things strike her funny bone at the oddest times. She also had a difficult childhood and self-depreciating and/or sarcastic humor has become a coping mechanism for her. As in my historical series, there’s no shortage of quirky secondary characters.

This is the first of the Veronica “Ronnie” Ingles/Dawson Hughes novels. Ronnie is the brash female Brooklyn private eye and Dawson is the gentlemanly Texas lawman. This is also the first novel in my “couples series.” Stories featuring three other couples as sleuths are in the works.

hand gunHere’s the story of HARMFUL INTENT in a nut shell…

Betrayal runs in private investigator Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels’ family. So, why is she surprised when her husband of one year cheats on her? The real shock is his murder, with the local lawman pegging her as the prime suspect.

Ronnie Ingels is a Brooklyn bred private investigator who travels to west Texas, where her cheating husband is murdered. As she hunts the killer to clear her name, she becomes the hunted.

Deputy Sergeant Dawson Hughes, a former Army Ranger, is a man folks want on their side. Only he’s not so sure at first, he’s on the meddling New York PI’s side. As the evidence points away from her, he realizes the more she butts in, the more danger she attracts to herself.

Sweet, askance romance, warm intimacy, sophisticated themes presented tastefully.

 

Praises for HARMFUL INTENT

hand gunWho’d a thunk it? Nike Chillemi’s New York gusto in Texas. HARMFUL INTENT is a mystery/suspense delight, mixing Nike’s New York flavor, the quirkiness of the South, a mystery to die for, and laugh aloud humor. I couldn’t put it down. ~ Fay Lamb, author of STALKING WILLOW and BETTER THAN REVENGE.

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Nike Chillemi delivers another gritty ‘who dun it’ in her signature no nonsense style, with just the right amount of humor to lighten it up on occasion while keeping it real. ~ Tracy Krauss, award winning and bestselling author of numerous novels including WIND OVER MARSHDALE

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Echoing the best pulp fiction of generations past, Chillemi’s new contemporary series will please readers of romantic suspense. HARMFUL INTENT introduces a modern day big-city female PI armed to the teeth and ready to draw when faced with danger in Texas. The best of both worlds happens when east coast meets southern charm in the hunt for cold-blooded killers. ~ Lisa Lickel, author of The Buried Treasure series

hand gunMoves seamlessly from grins and chuckles to taut suspense.

Fast paced suspense, funny, sometimes sassy.

Action and romance shades of “Bones” and “NCIS”.

 

Purchase HARMFUL INTENT at Amazon/Kindle: http://amzn.to/SsPthK

 


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