Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Read an excerpt of DARKEST HOUR!

As promised, here is a peek into DARKEST HOUR by Nike Chillemi. I know you'll be hooked! Download the full novel for Kindle or Nook today!!

DARKEST HOUR by Nike Chillemi

(From Chapter one…)

A black coach resembling an ambulance drove into the lot. An older man in overalls pulled a collapsible gurney out of the back and raised its bed to hip level. Its chrome gleamed.

The night orderly and two nurses getting off the night shift stopped to watch.

The brown-haired man pointed to the gurney and his voice carried. "They finally allocated some funds my way. Makes transporting much easier. Oscar and I used to carry them on a stretcher. My back sure is grateful to the board of supervisors."

The detective laughed. "Don't you county guys have all the dough you want?"

"Who're you kidding?"

The gurney's wheels rumbled across the gravel parking lot. The older man pulled on the straps of his overalls."Hank, you ready to move the body?"

The stylish man nodded. "Let's do it." They lifted the body onto the gurney and the man in overalls covered Dr. McCloud with a white sheet. Blood seeped through and began spreading.

Lucinda gasped, took another step back, stumbled, but managed to keep her footing. She straightened her spine. She still had to go into that building and work a full day. She had a son to support.

The detective nodded toward the body. "By the size of the hole in his chest, I'd guess he was shot with a pistol, maybe at close range. I need to have the bullet as soon as you recover it."

"Then by all means, you'll be my guest at the autopsy."

"Gee, thanks." The detective shook his head.

The debonair man chuckled, turned, and approached Lucinda.

A tremor ran down her back. More questioning, and all she wanted to do was run and hide. She sniffled and wiped her nose with the side of her index finger.

He reached into his inside pocket and offered her a folded white handkerchief. "It's rough if you've never seen anything like this. I'm Hank Jansen, the medical examiner, by the way."

Lucinda's gaze followed the gurney to the black coach. "He was my boss."

"You work at the hospital for Dr. McCloud?"

"Yes. I... I'm his secretary... was, I mean. And Dr. Hinsey's too." She couldn't believe the doctor's life had ended this way.

Detective Daltry barked, "Hank, can I speak with you?"

"Excuse me." The medical examiner stepped away.

"Wait." Lucinda quickly refolded the handkerchief and handed it back to him. She didn't know this man. Wouldn't begin to know how to return the white cotton cloth. "Don't forget this."

"Take it with you. The day's not over. Things could still get rough." He smiled.

"No, I can't take your hankie."

"Listen, I'll pick it up the next time I'm at the hospital. You say you work for Dr. Hinsey?"

"Hank," the detective called, impatience sharp in his tone.

"Yes, Dr. Hinsey is the head of the maternity ward. I'll launder it and have it ready for you."

The medical examiner nodded and smiled. "It's a date. I mean, I'll stop by and pick it up." He turned and trotted toward the detective.
Lucinda slipped the handkerchief into her purse. She headed for the main entrance of the hospital, bent and picked up a fountain pen in the gravel lot.

She pivoted and advanced toward the two men.

The detective made a chopping gesture with his hand and raised his voice. "I'm not fooling, Hank. Don't go putting another notch in your belt. She's a witness."

"Can't a fellow do a simple act of kindness?"

"I'm warning you, stay away from her." The detective spun around and nearly collided with Lucinda.

Heat rushed to her face, and she couldn't meet either man's gaze. If the ground would only open and swallow her. She held the pen out to Detective Daltry. "Uh...I…I'm sorry. I think you dropped this."

See - you want more, don't you! Get the rest on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Visit Nike on her blog to find out about future novels, and other fun crime writing stuff: Nike Chillemi~Crime Fictionista

Monday, August 26, 2013

Betrayal everywhere! Can Lucinda trust Hank in her DARKEST HOUR?

This week I'm thrilled to be showcasing DARKEST HOUR the latest novel from my critique partner and partner-in-crime, Nike Chillemi. We met many years ago through ACFW, quickly discovering we share a warped sense of humor. She calls me "Blondie" and I call her "Red" (when I'm not calling her "fearless leader"!).

Nike's first three novels in the award-winning Sanctuary Point series have been well received. Readers look forward to strong female protagonists and truly heroic male protagonists. As she frequently says, Nike likes her villains to be bad. All of her characters come alive in each story, feeling as real as the people you meet out on the street. Below is a short interview with Nike. Come back Wednesday for a sneak-peek excerpt of DARKEST HOUR.

Lucinda Byrne lost her husband and parents at sea. When she discovers the body of her boss, his A-List society finacee, backed up by her powerful family and a corrupt DA, acuses Lucinda of murder. She struggles on, shielding her five-year-old son, her feisty grandfather and arthritic grandmother from the ugliness of her situation. She mistrusts the dapper ME, thinking he's a ladies' man, but soon realizes he may be the only one in her corner. 

Hank Jansen, the county ME who's had his share of pain and loss, doesn't know if this little widow was in on the murder, but he knows by the trajectory of the bullet she's too short to have pulled the trigger. His professional opinion ignored, he begins his own investigation and at least one cop accuses him of an ethics violation. He certainly can't deny he's fallen head over heals for the accused, and also is crazy about her son. A huge problem is there's a leak inside the investigation and the murderer is always one step ahead of them.

Nike has graciously answered a few questions for my blog:

Blondie (that's me!): Is there anything that happened in the writing of this novel that surprised you?

Red (that's Nike!): I thought my heroine Lucinda Byrne had two sweet grandparents who would stay in the background and just...well look sweet. However, Nellie and Daniel Walsh took me by surprise. I hadn't planned on Mrs. Walsh having crippling arthritis and on that illness becoming a sub-theme in the novel. So, I had to research how severe arthritis was treated in the 1940s. As his wife's role in the novel grew and blossomed, Mr. Walsh also made himself known as an elderly gentleman of honor and dignity with quite a backbone. Then I began to depict them engaging each other as a married couple. They weren't content to remain in the background. They insisted on coming to life.

Blondie: How did you develop the plot for DARKEST HOUR and how did you come up with the name?

Red: In my Sanctuary Point series, one novel flows out of another. Main characters in one novel will appear as subordinate characters in the next one. Hank Jansen, the Nassau County Medical Examiner, first appeared in my Christmas/New Year's novel in the series, GOODBYE NOEL. Then he popped up at the murder scene in PERILOUS SHADOWS. I got to like him and thought he'd be a terrific hero. He is the most flawed of my heroes, but like all my others, he seeks to right injustice. So, he needed a heroine, but I wanted a gal who would be put off by him at first. So, I created a widow with a young son who is dignified and protective of her family. At first she thinks Hank is a ladies' man and too cavalier for her taste. Then, of course, he grows on her. It helps that he's practically the only one who thinks she's innocent of murder. The name DARKEST HOUR came to mind because things in this story get so scary for the heroine.

Blondie: When we first meet Hank Williams it would never occur to us he'd take any personal risks to help a young woman he hardly knew. How did you create this character?

Red: That's right. Hank wouldn't be seen as a man to go out on a limb for anyone. It's not that he's cowardly. He's got a backbone. It's just that he's been so hurt in the past he doesn't extend himself for other people. He's as surprised as anyone when he decides to help Lucinda Byrne. Perhaps it's because his professional opinion has been ignored, and the one thing he's got left is his career. Then he begins to see her as someone who's being unjustly hurt. He can certainly identify with that.

Be sure to visit again on Wednesday to read an excerpt from DARKEST HOUR. If you haven't read any of Nike's other novels, you can get them at Amazon or Barnes and Noble when you pop over to order DARKEST HOUR!

Author Bio:
Like so many writers, Nike Chillemi started writing at a very young age. She still has the Crayola, fully illustrated book she penned (penciled might be more accurate) as a little girl about her then off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call her a crime fictionista. Her passion is crime fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad and her good guys smarter and better.
She is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and is its Chairman, a reader's choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category and a judge in the 2011 and 2012 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories. BURNING HEARTS, the first book in the crime wave that is sweeping the south shore of Long Island in The Sanctuary Point series, finaled in the Grace Awards 2011 in the Romance/Historical Romance category. GOODBYE NOEL, the second book in the series released in December, 2011 won the Grace Award 2011 in the Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller category. PERILOUS SHADOWS, third in the series released July, 2012, and DARKEST HOUR, the fourth in the series released in February, 2013. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers (Ning).

Monday, August 12, 2013

Interview with multi-published author Naomi Musch

Naomi Musch writes from the pristine north woods of Wisconsin, where she and husband Jeff live as epically as God allows on a ramshackle farm near their five adult children and three grandchildren. Amidst it, she writes about imperfect people who are finding hope and faith to overcome their struggles, whether the story venue is rich in American history, or along more contemporary lines.

Central to her stories is the belief that God blesses messes, and He delights in turning lives around. For that same reason, besides her fiction writing, Naomi spent five years on the editorial board of the EPA award-winning, Midwestern Christian newspaper, Living Stones News, writing true accounts of changed lives. While pursuing her fiction-writing endeavors, she spent a year as an editor with Port Yonder Press. She continues to enjoy writing for magazines and other non-fiction venues that encourage homeschooling families and young writers.

I met Naomi through the Grace Awards and count her amongst my writing friends. She's one of those people who actually "gets" my quirky sense of humor :D I'm so excited to help Naomi launch her newest novel, Paint Me Althena. Here's the blurb:

When still life artist Ethan Day discovers a fantasy painting by Althena Bell in a consignment shop, he's sure he's found Ava, his wife who abandoned him and their two little girls three years ago. Finding and rescuing her are one thing, but forgiveness and second chances are impeded by outsiders, and conflict between Ava's search for identity and Ethan's new faith might break the safety net he offers.

You've said that the idea for Paint Me Althena came to you in an unusual way. How did that happen?

You know how you sometimes have a dream that seems really exciting, but when you wake up it doesn't make any sense? Well, I had a dream about this story. It was one of those like-watching-a-movie kind of dreams, and it was fraught with tension and romance. A scene of a young woman fleeing a Victorian to get away from someone she cared about but feared -- that especially got my heart beating. When I woke up, I thought, "Wow, that was some dream." I expected it to fragment apart at any moment, but as I thought about it, I realized it made sense. It wasn't the jumbled mess that most dreams seem to wind up being. It had a beginning, a middle, and an end -- a real plot. So I grabbed a notebook and started writing the synopsis. I'd never dreamed a story from beginning to end like that before. Of course I had to flesh out a lot of the details, but it sure gave me an instant overview.

That's some dream! I wonder what you had on your mind that made you dream such a story.

I think I've figured that out, and it actually became the main theme of the book. It seemed I'd been made aware of several women, some young, some older, who were thinking of leaving their families. I think my dream materialized out of my mind trying to process why they'd do such a thing. Ava, the protagonist in Paint Me Althena, ran away from her husband and children and lived for three years under the alias Althena Bell. (She has a reason for the unusual name she chose.) In my story, she had to come back and wants a fresh start, but that would be quite a hurdle to overcome for both her and her estranged husband, not to mention her children's feelings. Plus, Ava/Althena still had to be likeable. I think it works. I think readers will really care about Ava and understand her.

Can I ask why she did abandoned her family?

She had self-image issues mostly, which is another theme that found its way into the story. She didn’t feel she deserved the life she had -- or rather -- she was made to feel that way by one of the antagonists in the story.

What about Ava's husband? He must have felt greatly wronged. Will readers care about him?

Oh, he did feel wronged, and readers might rightly wonder why Ava would ever leave him. He's a great dad in the early stages of a growing career as a fine artist, not to mention he's -- ahem -- quite good looking. At least his young widow friend Jackie recognizes all those traits...

 Ah, I see. The plot thickens.

It does indeed. Thickened twice over, because another man has entered Ava's life too, and he has no idea about her past, that she's married, or that her name isn't really Althena.

Don't you usually write historical fiction?

Usually. Readers might be familiar with Empire in Pine my 3-book romantic historical series. Paint Me Althena is my second contemporary. I like to focus on writing romantic women's fiction in whatever way the story needs to be told. I like to tell stories that deal with the messes we make in our lives and the sorry outcomes that we sometimes have to deal with. But the main point is that God can clean them up if we'll hand Him the mop. Does that mean everything always works out for everyone in my books? No, because characters, like real people, sometimes have to live with certain consequences. But happy endings? Oh, yes. They have to be there, because I believe the very best stories always inspire hope. 

Where can readers find Paint Me Althena or your other books? 
Here are a few links:
Barnes & Noble
Also available at Sony, Deeper Shopping, Christian Book, Koorong (Australia),
Wesley Owens, Kobo, All Romance eBooks, iTunes, Books on Board, Google eBook store.

Enter the contest on NAOMI'S BLOG to 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Mystery, wine and a sip of romance at the Fredrickson Winery!

This week the Grace Awards Summer Book tour spotlights ENTANGLED by Barbara Ellen Brink. For mystery, wine, and a touch of romance visit the Fredrickson Winery. Great summer reading set in the beautiful Napa Valley.

ENTANGLED is the 1st in the Fredrickson Winery series. Here's a little blurb to wet your palate:
One lost summer is time best left forgotten... 

When Minneapolis attorney, Billie Fredrickson, inherits her uncle's small California winery, she has no intention of actually moving to the west coast and starting a new life. Her only thought is to get it off her hands as quickly as possible. But her return to the winery after an absence of twenty years opens up more than the reading of her uncle's will. Childhood memories, long-buried, begin to surface, prompting questions that no one is able or willing to answer.
A late night prowler, a break-in at the winery, and an unearthed box of shocking photographs is someone's way of pulling the welcome mat out from under Billie's feet, but it only makes her dig her heels in deeper.

Secrets lie buried beneath Fredrickson Winery's innocent facade and Billie intends to get to the root. But disturbing the past lays bare the skeletons of others, including her mother's. Can she live with the consequences of full disclosure or will she run home where everyone is Minnesota Nice.

Barbara is offering a GIVE AWAY on her blog. Click here to pop over and find out how you could win a copy of her 3rd Fredrickson Winery novel, SAVOR.

To purchase ENTANGLED visit Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Barbara Ellen Brink is the award-winning author if SPLIT SENSE, The Fredrickson Winery series, ALIAS RAVEN BLACK, and the Amish Bloodsucker Trilogy. Check out Barbara's blog and her Amazon Author page.

And don't forget to visit all the other Grace Awards Summer Book Tour Authors:

Mon, Aug 12 ~ Naomi Musch, PAINT ME ALTHENA

Mon, Aug 19 ~ Marcy Dyer, OUT FOR BLOOD

Mon, Aug 26 ~ Nike Chillemi, DARKEST HOUR

Mon, Sept 2 ~ DeEtteBeckstead, VICTORY

Mon, Sept 9 ~ JanalynVoigt, DAWNSINGER

Mon, Sept 16 ~ Kenneth Winters, THE LOST CROWN OF COLONNADE

Mon, Sept 23 ~ BJ Robinson, LAST RESORT

Mon, Sept 30 ~ Laura J.Marshall , A HEART’S HOME

Mon. Oct 7 - Tammy Doherty, CELTIC KNOT