PURSUED by Lillian Duncan ~ A Review

I love Lillian’s writing style and was thrilled to review her debut novel…
This is a lady any cowboy worth is saddle would like to take over his knee and spank. Reggie Meyers, former foster child, now a big city attorney on her way up the corporate ladder is a handful, to say the least. She’s a self-made success and hasn’t got much time for lesser mortals. Needless to say, when she plows her bright red sports car into Dylan Monroe’s aging pickup, she blames him.

Reggie is a short-tempered powerhouse with a definite vulnerable side. You want to be angry with her, but just can’t. Dylan on the other hand is easy going, solid, and a man who believes in prayer. The wonder of their relationship is he has no trouble handling her. Now protecting her from whoever is trying to kill her, that’s another matter entirely.
After an accident, even one she’s caused, what does such a gentleman do? He offers to drive the lady home. When Dylan and Reggie get to her condo, they find the place has been trashed. Reggie collapses and Dylan discovers she’s a diabetic, which accounts for some of her moodiness, as she hadn’t eaten all day. At first, Reggie assumes her ex did the trashing. Soon it becomes evident she’s got a lot bigger troubles than an inappropriate former boyfriend.
There is no shortage of twists and turns. It isn’t long before someone is shooting at Reggie. With Reggie stashed safely at a friend’s apartment, Dylan cleans up the mess in her apartment and finds a listening device. Since someone has been monitoring Reggie, they now know where she is hiding. Dylan rushes to the condo and saves her from a sneak attack.
After several more attempts on Reggie’s life Dylan takes her to the home of his mysterious, reclusive friend, security expert and ex-Marine Billy Clyde Addams and his charming wife Theresa. Billy Clyde discovers a large corporation is monitoring Reggie and Dylan’s movements. It turns out this company is owned by Reggie’s mysterious biological father.
The police determine a former law office client who thinks she mishandled his case made the attempts on Reggie’s life. He’s taken into custody and she is free to go home. Here the author puts a snag in the true love scenario. Reggie decides Dylan won’t fit into her upwardly mobile lifestyle, after all, he’s just a small town farmer. She wants to be happy but equates happiness with money and power. She doesn’t have the kind of faith Dylan has, though she’s starting to yearn for it. He asks her to marry him and she’s ecstatic. However, this is followed by a bunch of star-crossed misunderstandings.
All is not well on the safety issue front. Billy Clyde learns someone is still monitoring Reggie’s credit card activity. The action picks up again with ferocity. The climax is intense. This is a wonderful read, with fantastic characters for anyone who loves high caliber romantic suspense.
PURSUED can be puchased…
And as of July 1st at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Cross-Interviewing ~ Terric Darken and Nike Chillemi ~ Newbie Authors

Teric, we’re both the new kidz on the block in what is being called Indie/alternative publishing houses friendly to Christian themed novels. You’re with a very small press that takes chances and I’m with an ebook publishing house that has been at the forefront in publishing Christian stories.

I think it’s going to be fun throwing questions back and forth about our experiences. Then this interview is going to be put up on both of our blogs.

NC:  Teric, you, and I are both newbie authors at what is now being termed Indie/Alternative Christian publishing houses. You’re the new kid on the block at TreasureLine and I’m new at Desert Breeze. You must’ve been excited when they offered you a contract for your new novel WICKFLICKER.. I know I was ecstatic when I got my contract. Did you turn cartwheels or go for a ride on your motorcycle to celebrate?

TD:  LOL!  No, I didn’t turn cartwheels or go motorcycle riding. Writing has taken SERIOUS time away from my riding. Writing and riding: the two sound the same but are two totally different beasts! Maybe I should try motorcycle writing… kill two birds with one stone. On the other hand, I would need both hands for both, so that might be a bad idea. I surmise that all would grow dark very quickly for the Darken if I tried it. So much for motorcycle writing. I believe I played air guitar like a madman and told my wife — the illustrious Mrs. Darken — a million times that TreasureLine held interest in my works. Yes, I was very happy and grateful that they took interest in me.

I am not an official spokesman for TreasureLine, but I should probably mention that they are not an “Explicitly Christian “publisher. TreasureLine features many great titles ranging from varying genres: from romance to children’s books to thrillers. However, there are a few genres that the company refuses to publish. The proprietor as a great deal of integrity… in my humble opinion.

So, Nike, how did you feel when you first received the publishing news from Desert Breeze? You’re pretty spunky and feisty (a true redhead!)… You didn’t go out and punch a Hell’s Angel in the face amidst all of your excitement, did you? If I’m not mistaken, you signed on for a three book series:  BURNING HEARTS, GOODBYE NOEL… and I’m not sure if you’ve ever disclosed the title of your third novel to me. Can you share?

Another question that I’ve always meant to ask you:  Did you create the term “Crime Fictionista?” It’s very catchy…very cool… 

NC: I was blown away when I was signed with Desert Breeze. It was really a dream come true. Though I do believe I know where in the bowels of Gotham (NYC) to find a Hell’s Angel, I restrained myself and didn’t punch a Hell’s Angel in the face. I did get a three book deal, which was beyond my wildest dreams. BURNINGHEARTS, my debut novel is out. I’m tweaking GOODBYE NOEL which will be out at Christmas. It’s in the tradition of many fine holiday murder mysteries. There’s a body under the Christmas tree. I can divulge the title of the third book in the series, but I’m not gonna. I’m going to keep everyone in suspense.

As far as the term Crime Fictionista, I’m not sure if I created it or not. I have a bridal industry background. I’m a graduate of NYC’s Fashion Institute of Technology, one of the finest fashion schools in the world. I was very familiar with the term fashionista. So, I thought why not crime fictionista. I googled all over the place and didn’t come up with anyone else using it… so it’s entirely possible that I created the term.

Teric, I’m going to turn to something a bit more serious… the division everyone’s talking about in the Christian writing community. Our fellow board member at the Grace Awards, Tracy Krauss, just wrote a blog article concerning this very subject, “To CBA or Not to CBA.” http://www.tracykraussexpressionexpress.com/2011/06/to-cba-or-not-to-cba-that-is-question.html The Independent/Alternative, edgy/gritty writers seem to be in one camp and the traditional, CBA writers seem to be in the other.

It seems everyone’s writing on this. In her article Tracy mentions Mike Duran’s article, “Why Christians Can’t Agree About Christian Fiction.” http://mikeduran.com/?p=12734 Mike suggests the division in the Christian writing community reflects a more profound division with in the church, different ways of viewing Christianity.

Teric, what do you think, could that those Christians who feel called to live out in the world see the church in different terms than those who feel they should stay removed from the world? I personally don’t see the church as a building. I believe the church is wherever two or more Christians are gathered. So, the church could be on a mean, violent street corner is two or more Christians are there. Does that make sense to you?

TD:  Yes, it makes sense to me, and I believe as you do, Nike: the Church is where two or more are gathered in His name; it is not four walls. The Church is the people: One Body, many parts, with Christ being the Head of the Body.

Here was my response to Tracy Krauss’s post: The answer to your question from my point of view:  Yes, there is definitely room for everyone.

“Honesty vs. Holiness…” My take is honesty AND holiness, and by holiness, I don’t mean that in a puritanical sense. Remember when Jesus took the whip and drove out the “robbers” in the temple (John 2:15)? Was that not a little bit of violence happening there? Wasn’t that a bit of honesty and holiness happening at the same time? A bit of righteous and holy anger?

What about when Elijah had the 450 prophets of Ba’alslain (1 Kings 18:40)? Again, there was violence, righteous anger, and holiness happening at the same time. I could use many more examples from the Bible, but I think the point has been made: there is room for honesty and holiness.

To CBA or not to CBA, that is the question. I’m thinking about the apostles Paul and Peter right now. Peter was more inclined to minister to the Jewish congregation (the church), and Paul began taking itto the streets, by setting out on journeys and focusing on the Gentiles…thus, he left the four walls of the church… a more out-into-the-world approach.

Both were relevant; both approaches were needed and were a part of the Master’s plan in drawing all men to Him. Such is the same with writers holding to a Christian worldview. There is a need to exhort those within the walls of the church, and a need to reach those outside of those walls, whether by witnessing to the lost, or by calling out to wayward souls who may have wandered away from the Shepherd.

Jesus, our chief example in all things, did both: He spoke to those in the temple and they were astonished at His teachings…”Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?” Mat. 13:55. He also went out into the world and spoke with the “less than desirables,” telling it like it is. Example: the Samaritan woman at the well… “The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” John 4:18.

A resounding YES! There is room for both types of writers: Those ministering to those inthe fold, and those who minister to those outside of the fold. Two different types of callings; both serving the will of True and Living God.

I conclude with Romans 10:4- “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”

Whether a writer is called to minister to the congregation through their works, or called to reach the lost, both are hitting the people where they live. Both are needed, and ALL are on the same team.

My works are avant garde; I write to reach the lost and the wayward. I write in honesty: telling it like it is which is sometimes unsavory, and I write in holiness. All of the honesty only serves to expose the darkness and our dire need for the Light of the World: the Way, Truth, and Life. I also include scripture references at the end of my books to show the firm foundation that my stories are built upon.

I am not in competition with any author, be they those who write for the Church, or those who script for the lost and wayward. It should never be brother against brother, sister against sister. That is the only tragedy in all of this.

What matters is that we are obeying God’s will and calling. May we all keep writing the good write!

I know you write from the “honesty AND holiness” point of view, Nike, again, not meaning holiness in a puritanical sense but rather from a Christian worldview. What methods do you incorporate into your writings to share God’s word and “keep-it-real/authentic/plausible” at the same time?

NC: Wow, I’m looking at your answer, noting Jesus going into the temple with a whip and Elijah with the 450 prophets of Ba’alslain…the Bible is a bit gritty. I write gritty action scenes with some violence, so this is indeed comforting.

I love your Peter and Paul analogy. Peter preaching in the temple (to the church) and Paul to the Gentiles (out in the street). As I recall my Bible lessons, there were some strong feelings between Peter and Pau when they realized they had two different concepts of the church. As in, they had words. And you are right, both Peter and Paul were needed. Peter founded the Semitic church in Jerusalem, which parented many of the churches that still exist and are standing in the gap in the Islamic world today. For his part, Paul taught the Gentile church the huge debt it had to the Jewish church in Jerusalem. Just as we Indie/Alternative, edgy/gritty Christian writers owe a huge debt to the CBA/traditional writers who have come before us. We are, in many cases, standing on the shoulders of giants.

I believe the darkness has to be exposed. It has to be uncovered. When someone in the world is adamant that there is no God, all the witnessing in the world may not convince him/her. But if you can show this worldly person that the devil exists, now you’ve got their attention. See, they also don’t believe the devil exists. That is the best trick of the enemy to convince humans he doesn’t exist. If we can show those in the world where this actual evil, palpable evil exists… they will likely be able to admit the devil is real. If there is a devil that powerful to wreak havoc all over the world, then, it stands to reason there is an all-powerful God. That’s why I show evil in my books.

Now, in BURNING HEARTS I don’t go over the top with edgy or gritty. It’s a historical novel set in 1946 and is sweet romance where two young people fall in love. I open with a blazing house fire that becomes an inferno. I try to capture the ferocity of the fire. I have action scenes that get pretty gritty. I never get gratuitous and I always stay true to the characters, but I won’t white wash either.

Teric, tell me about your new book coming out via TreasureLine Publishing.

TD:  WICKFLICKER is an allegory liberally injected with supernatural and thrilling elements. The story is loaded with grit and bite-telling it like it is-by following a wayward soul at an end-of-semester college bash. Temptations flow freely as if spewing from a keg, and the party-goer aims to drink every last drop. At the end of the day, the central character finds himself in a life or death struggle:  Will he choose the way that seems right to a man or the path of wisdom? WICKFLICKER is slated to lurk the streets summer 2011.

Nike, we now know that BURNING HEARTS is book one in a three-part series and that it’s a work of historical fiction set in the 40’s, opening up with both guns blazing via a roaring inferno. In your opinion, what sets BURNING HEARTS apart from other works in its genre? What personal techniques have you injected into it to give it that “something extra”?

NC: BURNING HEARTS is unique in that it’s an equal measure of suspense, action, and romance, with some humor thrown in. It’s a sweet romance because the characters are young and inexperienced in love. It’s got tons of suspense and high action scenes. The opening chapter erupts into a fiery inferno as heroine Erica Brogna’s friends house burns. Lorne Kincade arrives on his Harley Davidson and is able to get Erica’s friend out, but she succumbs to her injuries and dies at the hospital. Erica and Lorne then embark on their own investigation, searching for the arsonist murderer. Needless to say, the murderer has a few tricks up his sleeve as well. Her tries to frame Lorne for the crime.

This has been a cross-communication, cross-interview experiment. Two friends tossing ideas around about our work as writers and the world of Christian publishing. This interview can also be seen on Teric Darken’s Blog, Dark Domain: Realm of Author. http://tericdarken.blogspot.com/

WICFLICKER purchase links…

TreasureLine Books.  http://treasurelinebooks.com/default.aspx

Will be available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble.

BURNING HEARTS purchase links…

Desert Breeze Publishing. http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-167/Nike-Chillemi-Sanctuary-Point/Detail.bok

Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Sanctuary-Point-Book-One-ebook/dp/B0050PJSTY/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1

Barnes & Noble. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Sanctuary-Point-Book-One/Nike-Chillemi/e/2940012411747/?itm=1&USRI=nike+chillemi

Who’s Point of View Is This Anyway???

I’ve been talking to my publisher and other writers about point of view. In fact I lead an American Christain Fiction Writers (ACFW) small critique group that specializes in deep point of view.
So, what’s all this about point of view, or POV? The crux of it is, someone’s got to tell the story. 

The writer’s choice of POV is perhaps the initial most important determination to be made for the story. It is the primary tool the author will use in crafting the story. Whatever vehicle the author decides to use in telling the story will be the author’s persona. There are quite a few POV choices, but I’m only going to talk about the three most prevalently used ones…

First Person: Imagine there is a tiny invisible video camera fastened to the narrating character’s forehead. Via this camera, the reader can see only what the narrating character sees. That’s first person point of view. The author is writing the main character  as “I” or as the narrator. Although the author is using this character’s persona and in some stories there might even be an autobiographical quality, the personality, foibles, quirks, and moral values belong to the character. The danger is if the reader is seeing too many “Is” it gets tedious. However, it’s a wonderful tool for showing the protagonist’s thoughts, feelings, and inner motivations. There could be multiple narrating characters (first-person accounts by two or more characters).

So, do you just write down whatever your main character sees as if the main character is chatting away telling the reader? That could be a huge mistake. First of all the reader doesn’t need to know every single thing the character sees or know everything the character knows. The reader only needs to know what the character sees and knows that will also move the storyline forward. Another danger is rambling or even ranting, depending upon the character’s personality. No matter how charming the main character is, eventually the rambling or ranting is going to get boring.

Perhaps the biggest mistake with first person is that it’s so easy to just go along telling and to forget about showing. Unskilled authors who write in first person will almost totally rely on the characters sense of sight, which leads to one-dimensional writing.

Third Person Omniscient: The all knowing, all seeing eye. The narrator in a god-like position. The narrator says: this happened, then this happened, then this, then that, and this is what the characters thought and felt about it and what they did and how they interacted. This was the form of fiction writing used during most of the 19th century. It is especially useful for broadsweeping or epic stories that span continents and time periods. A major drawback is that the reader may not know which character to form a bond with.

Third Person Limited: This is what we see a lot of in fiction writing these days. It’s the default POV.  With all third person stories, but particularly with third person limited, the reader has not doubt this is a work of fiction. It’s made up. Never actually happened.The story is told through one or more (often the heroine and hero) character’s POV. Since the reader knows it’s a work of fiction, it’s the job of the POV character to create a bond with that reader that allows that reader to suspend his/her disbelief. However, the story should only be told through one character’s POV at a time. No head hopping. The POV breaks usually come between chapters, but they can come between scenes. In that case the author should skip down a few lines before changing POV.