Saturday, May 28, 2011


These past few weeks as I prayed for a part-time job I never expected to see God’s hand in such a quixotic way. All I knew is I wanted something different, some kind of environment that would feed my writer’s soul.

I never dreamed my new job would be in a Tea Shoppe of the olde curiousity style emporium like you would read about in a Dickens’ novel.

So there I was yesterday, at 53 years old, with a number of careers behind me, donning the black apron of a waitress for the first time. Though it was hard to get to work when my gaze kept snagging on display cases filled with everything British from years gone by.

One of my jobs in the morning is to turn on all the lights in the museum upstairs. I so wanted to explore those rooms devoted to the Titanic, showing replicas from on board the ship, and the number of books on that vessel alone. Then there was the Royal Room where a person can study up on the English monarchy, and another room my fingers itched to explore, containing a number of military uniforms.

Once the lights are on though, I’m downstairs in the tea room. But as the day goes by I dash between the tea room and the bakery, passing the cases that hold items such as helmets the British police would have worn during various time periods. Another case holds toys belonging to children during the war years. And I’ve only begun to explore !!!

But this blessing has 2 sides to it—I was being paid to serve customers in the tea shoppe. And if there’s one thing this British immigrant knows, it’s how to make a good cuppa and serve the pastries and cream buns that have delighted the British for centuries. They’ve asked me back to work next week, so I must have passed the test.

The menu alone thrilled me—fresh baked scones, Cornish pasties, Pickwick pies, and so much more. Each item is entitled by a character from a Dickens’ novel, such as Mrs. Nickleby’s Salad, Fezziwig’s Crumpets, Miss Peggotty’s Bacon Butty, Bob Cratchet’s Savoury Tray, Tiny Tim’s children’s tray . . . and then there are the desserts. But I have to admit my personal favourite are the scones served warm with strawberry preserves and Devon cream on the side.

On the other side of the tea shoppe and museum is the English Sweet Shoppe, and a section at the back that holds teas from all over the world. Those shelves with all those glass jars of teas will entrance me for a long time. So much to learn, not to mention what I glanced at on the way out of work last night--recipe books from every corner of the British Isles.

I should know by now how well our heavenly Father knows me, and how He blesses me with just the perfect thing when I leave the choices up to Him. He truly cares about me like He says, so much more than He does for the tiniest sparrow—yet He cares so much for them too.

Picture above is of my daughter and me in Great Britain a few years ago, standing by an old fashioned English phone box.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Today I thought I'd share one of my favorite romantic scenes from Shadowed in Silk. Hope you like it.

A sigh escaped as Abby’s anger changed to an overwhelming sense of loss. She could love a man like Geoff. A nerve flickered across her eyelids. Oh, help me . . . I do love him.

Geoff moved close to her ear. “Aim at the target.”

He must never know how she felt. She gripped her lower lip between her teeth to stop from whipping around and running from him. She couldn’t bear his nearness any longer.

“Gently,” he said, “squeeze the trigger.”

The gun exploded into sound. It rang in her ears, and she lowered the weapon. Her pulse pounded, and her breath went shallow. But it wasn’t from the shot. She was used to that. With his nearness the soft hairs on his forearm brushed against hers.

She bit down on her lip.

“There now,” Geoff said. “The first shot takes a bit of getting used to, but you did fine. Exceptionally fine . . . for a beginner.” His brows drew together, but he talked in that soothing voice he used with the people he cared for—Eshana, the children at the mission, Cam. And her. Just one of the many.

But she wanted more from Geoff. She wanted him to hold her hand. To hold her. Wanted him to help her at night to tuck Cam into bed, and his gentle smile as they watched her son go to sleep. Her lip bled a little, and she tasted the metallic tang of blood. She wanted Geoff’s kiss.

Tears pricked at the back of her eyes. God would never allow that. And Geoff could not––or more accurately––would not ever give her that. Like Joseph in his treasured Bible he’d run from her with disgust filling his face. She was married. Even if she divorced Nick, Geoff would never marry her.

The beating of her heart seemed to clang inside an empty steel vessel. She lifted the rifle, pressed the butt into her shoulder, laid the stock next to her cheek, and pushed away all thoughts of Nick . . . her father. She and Geoff could never be more than friends, and they must remain friends from afar. But for this moment she would be herself with him. Nick would never be interested, but she wanted Geoff to see the person she was.

Each muscle along her spine uncoiled and became fluid. She steadied her breathing and focused on Geoff’s voice. She checked the breeze, adjusted her aim, and squeezed the trigger. With her focus on the bull’s eye she hardly noticed the bang, but smiled at the clean black hole in the center of the target. She shot back the bolt and emptied the spent cartridge onto the ground at their feet. Sliding the bolt in, a fresh cartridge now in place, she began to rapidly empty the MK III, creating a small wreath of spent bullets on the target.

It felt as though every inch of her skin warmed in Geoff’s silent awe. Someone she—yes she would say it—someone she loved was interested enough to look at her and . . . see.

Burnt cordite filled her senses. The only thing keeping back her tears was the same silly joy she used to experience when as a teenager she’d practiced for hours to please her father. But he’d never seen her. She’d only been a presence in the house, little more than the servants.

Then Nick . . . he’d seen her only as a means to further his career.

As the last shot reverberated in ever decreasing waves, silence shyly entered and filled the glade. She turned her back to Geoff. With her whole being she yearned to love this good man. But because of his impossible standards, she would have to hide her love from him and cast him from her life. Get rid of his big brother forbearance before it shred her heart further.

He followed her out of the clearing.

Could he not see into her soul as she walked at his side, that she’d longed for him and had thrust those longings away, all in the space of half an hour? The lonely years ahead opened before her like a dark chasm.

Before they reached the campsite he put out a hand to stop her. His gaze lowered to her mouth. He reached into his pocket, removed a clean white handkerchief and pressed it to her lower lip. All breath left her at his touch. When he removed the handkerchief, he glanced at the speck of blood, his eyes a somber gray. He folded the linen and replaced it in his pocket.

“Why didn’t you tell me, Abby?”

She brushed the hair from her eyes. “I just did,” she whispered.

He shook his head. “I suppose you did. Are you as proficient with a handgun?”

She nodded.

He placed his hand on her shoulder, indicating they go on. When he withdrew his hand, a piece of her heart felt as though it fell to the ground, spent.


I hope you enjoyed this scene. It's only one of my favorites. The printed version of Shadowed in Silk comes out Septemer 1, 2011, but the Ebook can be purchased right now at the following sites. Just click on either one for and Barnes and Nobel

Friday, May 13, 2011

BURNING HEARTS--An Interview with author Nike Chillemi

Today I'd like to introduce a fellow writer Nike Chillemi, who, like me has her debut novel coming out the same month as myself. Nike tells us how she wound her way through her novel journey to write this story set during World War II. You'll love the research she did on WW2 women's fashions alone. BURNING HEARTS is just the sort of book I love to read. I hope you will too.

Nike, tell us about BURNING HEARTS:

When I set out to write BURNING HEARTS I thought I was writing a suspense novel with tons of romance. But as my characters began to come to life I realized I was writing a novel of self-discovery. My heroine Erica Brogna and my hero Lorne Kincade not only discover their love for each other, together they embark on a journey that brings them into a closer relationship with God. Due to vastly differing reasons, both of them have had their childhood faith shaken.

I write character driven stories. It's funny how they take over. Erica of course is a seamstress, but as the story progressed she let me know she had a desire to design fashion. She became very fashion forward. This was fun for me because as a lover of the 1940s era, I'm a real vintage fashion aficionado. I'm a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology (NYC) and I worked for many years in the Bridal industry before my husband and I adopted and I became a homeschooling mom. I greatly enjoyed researching 1940s women's fashion trends for BURNING HEARTS.

I spent quite a few hours sifting through an immense amount of online information on fashion of the 1940s. Probably more than I actually needed to write the book. It was great fun to discover how women lived in that era. Due to the war effort, even though it was a time of austerity and fabric rationing, it was still a glamorous time. Women followed Hollywood fashion trends and enjoyed dressing up. Men were debonair. Courtesy was highly valued in human discourse in that decade. Oh, sure, there were louts, but they were called thusly. Nobody made excuses for them.

In the post war era, even a young woman of moderate means had quite an array of day dresses, skirts paired with high-necked blouses, and perhaps a suit for work, church, and going around town, and matching hats and gloves. Necklines were more relaxed for parties, receptions, and the like. Most women had a floor length or tea length evening dress, probably in rayon, as that was the new fabric. She'd also have several pair of pumps or heeled oxfords for street wear with matching handbags and a pair or two of evening shoes with their respective matching bags and hats. If she were a lady of modest means, she'd most likely get out her Singer sewing machines and copy the latest fashion trends.

The 1940s is often seen as a Golden Age. America had emerged from World War II as the undisputed world super power. People of the decade loved the movies and looked to the west coast to model a great deal of their own personal style from Hollywood trends. They looked to the east coast and New York City for sophistication, finance, art, music trends such as jazz. It was at that time that New York was dubbed the city that never sleeps. They also read Life and Look magazine which had a great influence on what was hot and what was not in that era. It was a great time to be alive and America shown like a beacon on a hill in that decade.


BURNING HEARTS (arson/murder, action, and romance in equal measure)

Can a sheltered young seamstress, disillusioned by the horrors of WWII, escape an arsonist/murderer who has killed her employer and mentor, while trying to decide if she can trust the dashing war hero who’s ridden into town on his Harley—who some say is the murderer?

Erica Brogna’s parents doted on her and taught her to think for herself. Many boys she grew up with have fallen in the war, shaking her childhood faith. In rides a handsome stranger, at the hour of her most desperate need. A woman who is her best friend and mentor is trapped in a burning house. After making an unsuccessful rescue attempt, Erica stands by as this man rushes into the inferno and carries her friend’s lifeless body out.

Lorne Kincade can’t out run his past on his Harley Davidson WLA, the civilian model of the motorcycle he rode in the war. He’s tried. He’s been a vagabond biker in the year since the war ended. His Uncle Ivar bequeathed him a ramshackle cottage in Sanctuary Point, on the Great South Bay of Long Island, NY and now he’d like to hope for a future again, repair the miniscule place, and settle down. The only problem is, a young woman with hair the color of mink is starting to get under his skin and that’s the last thing he needs.

BURNING HEARTS can be purchased at Desert Breeze Publishing novel is also available on Amazon Barnes and Nobel.

Nike Chillemi's Crime Fictionista blog

Nike Chillemi has been called a crime fictionista due to her passion for crime fiction. She is a member of ACFW and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers on Ning. She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category and a judge in the 2011 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories. She is the founding board member of the Grace Awards, a reader's choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes monthly book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. Burning Hearts is the first book in the crime wave that is sweeping the south shore of Long Island in The Sanctuary Point series.

Christine: Thank you so much, Nike, I hope you have great success with this remarkable book. It sounds wonderful.

Saturday, May 07, 2011


Mothers Day has meant different things for me over the years. As a kid growing up I was thankful I had a good mom---one who sacrificed so her kids would have what they needed.

When I was a young woman of 22 though, Mothers Day became a reminder of great loss. The year prior to that I had relinquished my first child to adoption. As I was ummarried at the time, and though it tore out my heart, it was the best thing for my baby girl. I wanted her to have what I had not had growing up---a mom and a dad.

But God was good, and not long after I'd given up my little one, the Lord sent a really wonderful man into my life who loved me enough to marry me. God filled my empty arms 3 times over in the following years with children of our own.

The years went by, with lots of happy Mothers Days with bouquets of dandelions, and loving cards made of construction paper and stick figures drawn with scented markers. I knew I was loved.

Then 20 years after I'd relinquished my first child to adoption, God enabled my daughter and I to meet again. It was wonderful and terrible all at the same time.

She had grown up into a beautiful, faithful follower of Christ just as I'd prayed. But seeing her again brought back the pain of relinquishing her in the first place. But God encouraged me to put my pain into writing. My loss became my muse.

And 10 years after that, God has allowed my debut novel to be published with the added blessing that my birthdaughter's beautiful face is on the front cover of my book.

Mothers Day is always mixed for me. Great joy to be so loved by my kids, and now my grandkids. And each Mothers Day, instead of silence from my first born, I usually receive a phone call. Oh how I love those phone calls.

God is great.

But if you have not felt the joy of holding your own child in your arms, I'd like to invite you to read my entire story written out here on this blog. It shows that I too felt the pain of an empty womb when I had no child to hold in my arms. And within those chapters are the heart-felt cries of the adoptive mother of my birthdaughter. The real mom to my child. Complex---yes.

Only God can untangle and bring peace to such deep and unfathomable emotions.