Becoming

Are we there yet? My sons used to ask this question often as we traveled to a destination. “It’s taking too long!”

Hello, Thursday Morning readers. It’s finally spring, but I’m not sure we’re there yet. That’s not really why I asked that question, though.

Last weekend, I attended a writers conference and had the opportunity to learn a bit more about the craft of writing. As I looked over the schedule, I realized that many of the courses were repeats for me. I ultimately chose a class on creating lively characters and a class on the art of writing.

I’ve published several books, so I’m not really a beginner, but I can always improve. Like most other vocations, writing doesn’t remain the same. It changes with the times and preferences of the collective “reader.” So, the writer needs to hone their skills and evolve with the industry.

Also, my “word” for 2019? Teachable.

To remain teachable—this can be a daunting task, because I would prefer to think I have arrived. After a long journey, I’m tired and I want to sit down. That’s my preference. I’m done. But I’m not finished. My writing can always improve. My characterization can be better.

Besides all that, the instructors were delightful. I attended the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference. It was kind of a long drive for me, but I’ve made that drive many, many times over the years, so it didn’t really bother me. The Mid-South is a wonderful conference. The people are friendly and welcoming. For a “smallish” but growing conference, they have a lot to offer.

Bob Hostetler’s keynote messages were funny and inspiring. Johnnie Alexander and Patricia Bradley taught the class on creating characters. Vanessa Griggs kept her class laughing and engaged as she shared on the smART of Writing.

coffee, cup, laptop, memeI made new friends and something wonderful happened: I learned a thing or two. That’s always a good and positive thing. When I arrived back home, though, I still didn’t feel like I was there yet. There’s so much more to learn about the craft of writing. I’m not frustrated by it, I’m invigorated. I’m excited about what the future holds.

I’m still “becoming” a writer in many ways. And that’s a wonderful thing too.

If you’re not so very far from Central Kentucky, you might consider the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference coming June 20-22. I’m on the planning committee, so I know this is going to be a good year. Susan May Warren is our keynote speaker, and we have an excellent faculty making plans to help those who want to learn the craft or become better writers. Click the meme below to find out more information:

Painting a Story

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, Thursday Morning! It’s an hour earlier in the day, and a week closer to spring!

When someone asked me to name a few of my all-time favorite books, I realized there was no easy answer. I usually say Jane Eyre, because that is my overall favorite for a variety of reasons.

There are so many wonderful stories that have touched my heart and maybe even changed my life a little, or at least my way of thinking. One of the most beautiful is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Of course, it’s a literary novel—I always seemed to prefer those. This is a work of art that follows a young girl coming of age in the early twentieth century.

It’s not a sweet story, though there are moments of sweetness. Francie Nolan is the daughter of an Irish immigrant living in the inner city, at a time when life wasn’t easy for the Irish in New York. Her father struggles with alcoholism and finds it difficult to provide for his family.

Even though my early life bordered on poverty, the Nolan’s situation made me feel as though we’d been rich. Life-changing. I read it more than once and loved the movie version (1945).

What makes a story unforgettable? Have you ever watched an artist paint a picture? It’s fascinating. Especially when the picture is created from the artist’s imagination. You watch in awe as they add layer upon layer of color, shadow, light. Gradually, a scene emerges, sometimes stunning in quality.

You can say the same about a really good story. The writer translates his or her imagined tale into words and builds a world on the page that can be achingly real. The reader is caught up in the story and forgets that it’s only a story.

That’s how I feel when I read stories like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I feel the angst, the hunger, the humility, the encroaching darkness when all seems lost. I keep turning pages, enthralled and then, there it is—fresh hope—like the light at the end of the tunnel. I love happy endings, but it doesn’t have to be rose gardens or even lottery winners. Hope is the key to a great ending, in my humble opinion.

Which book, novel, screenplay, or story changed your life? Left you breathless and filled with hope for the main character? You may have read or watched it numerous times to discover every nuance, every hopeful thought, like licking the crumbs from the plate after your favorite dessert.

P.S.: Congratulations, Susan Mills! She won a copy of Annabelle’s Ruth for her comment on my blog post/giveaway last week! I also sent her a bonus book, Rebeccca’s Legacy. Happy reading, Susan!

Chasing Spring

One day it looks and feels like spring, next day, it’s the deep of winter. That’s the weather so far this year. Life can be an adventure!

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, Thursday Morning!

I just celebrated a birthday, and oh! I received all the things girls love. Coffee, chocolate, flowers, jewelry, a new purse, and a comfy pillow. I’m not usually swayed by material gifts. In fact, when my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I told him, “…time with my sons.”

Well, I received that, too. We had a wonderful dinner at a nice restaurant, and even remembered to take pictures. Yep. How often do you get together with loved ones and afterward, remember no one took a photo of the event? It’s so frustrating.

Chasing The End. I’m back at my desk, working hard to finish the final book in the Kinsman Redeemer series. I’m down to the last couple of chapters.

This has been a labor of love. When I wrote the first book, Annabelle’s Ruth, I never expected it to become a series. But that’s how it goes in the book world these days. So, I was able to finish the story and hopefully leave my readers with a smile on their faces.

So, I’d better get back to work on that. One day soon, I’ll happily announce that I’m finished. In the meantime, help me celebrate my birthday month! In just a few days, I’m giving away a book on the Inspired Prompt blog. Rebecca’s Legacy is the featured book on March 15. Here’s a link to the website: Inspired Prompt

Throughout the month of March, the writers of Inspired Prompt are giving away books, so pop on over and check it out.

And, if you’ve never read Annabelle’s Ruth, leave me a comment below (on this blog post) for a chance to win a copy. Here’s more information about the book:

Annabelle’s Ruth, Book 1, Kinsman Redeemer
Published June, 2015

“If you think you can come back here and throw yourself on my mercy, you are quite wrong.”

After their husbands perish in a fishing boat accident, Connie Cross determines to follow her mother-in-law, Annabelle, from Southern California to Tennessee. Her misgivings begin as they cross the bridge over the muddy Mississippi River. In their new town, where living conditions are far below their previous expectations, they must set up a household and hunt for work to survive. Thanks to the kindness of Annabelle’s handsome, young cousin, life begins to settle down. But Connie has a secret that could uproot them once again.

Inspired by the Book of Ruth, Annabelle’s Ruth is a 1950’s era “Ruth” story, set in western Tennessee. How will Connie adapt to her new life amid the cotton farms, racial tension, and culture shock?

And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. –Ruth 1:16-17

 

Tribute to Poetry

It’s the last day of February. The first two months of 2019 are history. I trust they’ve been good months. The March winds have already arrived here. Will they help dry up all the water February left? Our rivers and lakes are overflowing, and I know many of yours are, too. But I’m kind of glad ours came in rain. Up north, they’ve received record snowfall.

Hello, Thursday Morning friends! I hope your day is going well so far. I love that first sip of the first cup of coffee in the morning.

Do you remember the first time you read poetry? The first poem you memorized? We had to memorize, “I think that I shall never see, a poem lovely as a tree.” That’s all I can remember of Joyce Kilmer’s famous poem, “Trees.” But there’s more:

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing brest;

A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

[poem is in public domain]

 The poet, Joyce Kilmer, (a man, by the way) died in 1918, in World War I.

On a happier note, some of my earliest poetry reading consisted of the prolific works of one Theodore Geisel, aka “Dr. Seuss.” His works appealed to the silly part of my nature. My first and all-time favorite book of his: “The Cat in the Hat.”

Not the same cat, but definitely wearing a hat.

I read it to my mother, over and over. When I looked up, she was asleep, and so was my baby brother. I decided right then and there: poetry is an important tool. Years later, my husband and I would read Dr. Seuss’s books to our children, hoping for the same outcome. More often than not, it worked.

There’s something calming about poetry. It’s closely related to music. Say the word, “psalm.” Not only does it rhyme with calm, but the word often has a calming affect on the psyche—the mind. This is my research, it’s not official.

Not all the psalms are calm, but many either are calming, or they end up with a positive message. I suppose this may be why King Saul asked David to sing to him. Their words calmed his spirit.

What’s your favorite poem or psalm? Here’s mine:

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.—Psalm 1:1-3

It reminds me of Kilmer’s poem.

Have a wonderful, blessed week, dear reader! May you be like a tree, planted by the rivers of water.

Ooh-la-la, What a Catch Dimitri Is

by Nike N. Chillemi

Of course, you always hope your hero is super appealing. In COURTING DANGER, I got half way through writing the book and wanted Dimitri to marry my daughter. Oh, oh, then I had a very high bar to meet, or he did for the rest of the novel.

Former US Army Ranger, Dr. Dimitri Garmonin, has been recently hired as a profiler by the Pelican Beach, Florida police department. When a young woman’s body is found on the beach at the same time a Pentagon weapons designer (who had been visiting the beach city) goes missing, the FBI gets involved. The consummate professional, Dimitri believes by working with the FBI on this case that’s getting media attention, he can expand his small Behavioral Analysis Unit. Not only is he not interested in a relationship, he’s not impressed by the manipulative, yet chic female FBI agent.

However, there’s something very appealing about Katerina “Kat” Andruko, the rookie detective who has been assigned to the case. She’s delightful in an authentic way. The only problem is he found the young woman’s body, and Kat has him as her prime suspect in the murder.

sand-768783_1280As Kat gets to know him, she realizes there’s no way this highly ethical man could have committed murder. She’s perplexed and drawn in by his intellect, professionalism, and old-world charm. Her problem with him is he seems to have lost his childhood faith, and faith is central to her life. Still, she has to admit, he’s got gorgeous blue eyes.

They both share a Slavic heritage. They even share more than that. As children both spent years in a Slavic country. Dimitri was born in Russia and lived there at the fall of the Soviet Union. His father was murdered there, and his mother escaped with him to America. As an adult, he still speaks with a faint Russian accent. After her parents were killed by a drunk driver in northeastern Florida, Kat was shipped off to an aunt and uncle she didn’t know in Ukraine. She spent two of her teenage years there. She confesses to Dimitri that she could easily imagine him wearing a smoking jacket, reading Dostoyevsky in the original Russian. In fact, she was shocked to discover he’s a former Army Ranger. She can’t imagine him on a forced march. However, it’s his Army training that saves her when the killer sets his sights on her.

COURTING DANGER has been called a “cozy thriller.” The storyline is driven by Kat’s and Dimitri’s intense desire to find the killer. Intertwined is a love story.

Click to Tweet: When a young woman’s body is found on the beach at the same time a Pentagon weapons designer (who had been visiting the beach city) goes missing…Courting Danger by Nike N. Chillemi #CozyThriller #Suspense


Nike N. Chillemi writes contemporary detective and/or suspense novels with a touch of wry humor, and there’s often a national security twist to them. She likes her bad guys really bad, her good guys smarter and better, and a touch of the comedic. Her newest endeavor is COURTING DANGER.

Nike is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and its Chair, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She has been a judge in the 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories; and an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category. Her four novel Sanctuary Point series (out of print), set in the mid-1940s has finaled, won an award, and garnered critical acclaim. The first novel in the Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels/Dawson Hughes series HARMFUL INTENT won in the Grace Awards 2014 Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller/Historical Suspense category. She has written book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and John 3:16 Marketing Network.

https://nikechillemi.blog/

Click to Purchase Courting Danger on Amazon

Facebook

Twitter

Yes, you are at Hello, Thursday Morning! I hope you’ve enjoyed my guest post from Nike Chillemi. As one of those who worked on the critiques for this book, I highly recommend it, especially if you enjoy clean suspense/thrillers.

Thanks for dropping in! See you next week.