March of Modern Authors

by Betty Thomason Owens

You step through the front door of a bookstore or library, and then what? Where do you head first? What name draws you? Are you a browser, looking for something interesting, or do you make a beeline for a certain shelf?

book-112117_1280While raising my family, I made bimonthly trips to the local library. I was a classic reader. I started with the “A” shelf and read my way through. It took me a while to get past the first column with all the Alcott, Austen, Brontes, Dickens. . . well, you get the picture. I read a number of Miss Read books and du Maurier mysteries.

But to pick one author out of the many, especially when you have numerous friends who are excellent authors–not sure I wanna go there.  I might just take the easy way out and name a few neighbors. Kentucky is proud home to many wonderful writers. If I start naming them though, I’d get myself into trouble for sure. It’s like choosing a favorite child–in front of the others. Can’t be done.

Throughout the month of March, our crew (and a guest or two) will talk about the writers who have left a lasting impression on their lives. Gifted storytellers. Books that resonate with their readers.

  • What’s your favorite?
  • Can you name a few?
  • Do you read fiction, or nonfiction?

bird-2047081_1280I shall never forget the magic of those first few lines of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

“When Mary Lennox was sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle everybody said she was the most disagreeable looking child ever seen.”

fog-258244_1280By the time Mary found the secret garden, the little flower-lover in me was totally hooked. I was in third grade, and I think it may have been my first “chapter book”.

It held first place in my heart till I picked up Jane Eyre. That book, with it’s foggy, craggy moors and rough-edged characters still draws me. I reread it every once in a while.

So, while the March winds blow, and Old Man Winter gives way to Spring, join us for a look at our favorite authors.

Right now, I’m going to toss another log on the fire and curl up with a good book. One from a well known Kentucky writer. She’s writing cozy mysteries these days. Wonder if you can guess who that might be? 🙂

(Click to tweet) You step through the front door of a bookstore or library and then what?

Writing Prompt: This photo immediately reminded me of the movie, Ever After. Who would live in such a place? Can you begin or end a story here?castle-1975928_1280

 

3 Questions Wednesday with Nike Chillemi

Nike Chillemi 2017

Nike Chillemi

Welcome to 3 Questions Wednesday, Nike Chillemi.

I met Nike Chillemi several years ago, through an ACFW critique loop. Since that time, I’ve been privileged to work with her on some of her latest releases. So, I’m excited to have Nike here today. She writes mysteries and romantic suspense. Check out her bio (below) for more about her writing life and why she’s called the “crime fictionista.” You can leave a comment for a chance to win Harmful Intent, the first book in her latest suspense-filled series. She recently released Blood Speaks, the third and final book in the trilogy. But I’ve heard a rumor, we haven’t heard the last of Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels and Dawson Hughes!

Nike, I have to ask (because it’s our first question):

What inspires you?

Nike:  Good question, and I have to think about this. I actually got up and walked away from my laptop to make a cup of tea. I guess I felt I was supposed to come up with something pithy and significant. I mean, I fashion myself a fairly deep writer. Buried within my action-packed detective stories are hopefully “meaningful” subthemes. But the truth is little, many times off-hand things inspire both my novel and blog writing. Several years ago I was totally taken by a pair of cardinals who were flying north for the summer and how they related to each other for the two days they came to my backyard. I’ve put a red cardinal and his mate in two of my novels as a symbol of love between spouses.

I love that. I’m a big fan of cardinals, and where I live, you have to be careful where you say that (really big basketball rivalry in Kentucky). We have a couple of the birds living in our backyard. Of course, in our mild climate, they don’t go anywhere for the winter, so we have them throughout the year. They seem very dedicated to each other. Funny how the simple things in life touch us so deeply at times.

Hey…

You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Nike:  Right away I thought “purple” and I don’t know why. I don’t wear purple, there isn’t any purple in the décor of my home, to speak of. I guess it would be the deep amethyst purple. I do have a couple of earrings in that deep amethyst. In fact the first “good” pair of earrings I ever got were from my mom and they were small amethyst studs set in gold.

I’m not surprised by your choice. Lovers of the color purple tend to be unconventional, unique, different…umm…sound familiar? Purple is also dignified and royal.

I love this last question and can’t wait to hear how you’ll answer–

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Nike: I wanted to be Barbara Walters. I thought she had the most fascinating job, and of course she did. Today, interviewing famous people doesn’t interest me. I sometimes think I’d like to be a producer/interviewer for a cable TV station and go around to different towns and small cities in America and ask folks on the street, who is the most interesting, most respected, and/or most loved person in this town? Then I’d walk into that fascinating person’s hair salon, or restaurant, or catch them as they deliver the mail and interview them about their life in that place. My readers tell me that Bertha is the most loved character in my Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels/Dawson Hughes detective series. And of course she’s a very strong secondary character in the final book of the series, BLOOD SPEAKS.

Barbara Walters! She did have a fascinating job. I think your idea is a good one, though. Sounds like fun–catching someone unaware, in everyday moments of life, then letting your reader see the real person. Bertha is a fine example of a strong secondary character. She’s real, and lovable. The good neighbor or best friend we all desire.  

Thanks Nike, for taking the time to answer our 3 Questions.


Nike Chillemi 2017 Like so many writers, Nike Chillemi started at a very young age. Her first major work was a Crayola, fully illustrated book she penned as a little girl (colored might be more accurate) 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.

Nike is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and is its Chair, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She has been a judge in the 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 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 HARMRUL 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.

Nike’s website:  http://nikechillemi.wordpress.com/

Readers, Nike is giving away a copy of Harmful Intent, the first book in the Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels/Dawson Hughes series. Just leave a comment in the comments section below to be entered to win the Kindle version of the book.

Here’s more information about the book:

harmful-intentBetrayal 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.

Her latest release is Blood Speaks, Book 3 in the The Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels/Dawson Hughes Trilogy

blood-speaks-coverVeronica “Ronnie” Ingels, Brooklyn gal PI, waited a long time for the solitaire on her finger. When her sometimes boss, a shadowy figure and director of a secret government organization, offers a one-week bridal shopping vacay in Virginia, she jumps at it.

Joined by bridesmaids, Sandra Daube and Bertha Dagney, Ronnie sets off for the village of Heritage Cove on Arrowhead Lake, Virginia. Their joyous stay at the rustic yet luxury Heritage Cove Inn is shattered by a murder with tendrils and a clandestine motive stretching back to the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

It doesn’t take long for Ronnie and her gal-pals to become targets of the killer. It goes without saying, Taylor County Deputy Sheriff, Lieutenant Dawson Hughes leaves Texas to protect his bride-to-be. He’s joined by Sandra’s employer, conservative political activist Ben Cohen. Neither hell-nor-high-water can keep Gabby Hayes look-alike Hoot Dagney from the side of Bertha, his new bride.

 

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A Conversation With a Foster Mom

Just look at these adorable faces.

Oh, how we love our pets. They’re family. As a person who cares about animals, I am so grateful to all of those who give of their time, money, and energy to rescue. I have a beautiful friend who has recently fostered several adorable dogs, including the ones in these pictures. She took them into her home, gave them a safe place and plenty of love, then passed them on to their forever homes–well, except for Ellie and Scooter (bottom photos). Those two are now part of Robin’s family.

How did Robin Amundsen Swartzwelder become involved in pet fostering? She works in a local law office that has dealings with another office in Maryland, which is how she met Peggy. Through frequent phone conversations, she and Peggy developed a close friendship and shared their love of animals. Of course, Robin talked about her former pets and how she missed them.

Peggy was a single mom, and an animal advocate who mainly rescued pit bulls. One day, Peggy asked if Robin planned to get another dog. Robin definitely wanted to, but knew she’d need to discuss it with her husband, Alan. Their decision made, Robin told Peggy “yes”, and was very specific—she wanted a Yorkie. Before long, Peggy called with good news. She’d found a Yorkie, if Robin was still interested.

If so, she could have the dog free of charge, with only one catch—well, really two catches—take a couple more dogs and try to find good homes for them. Robin’s husband wasn’t sure about it. He’d agreed to taking one dog, not three. But they finally decided to give it a try. They brought back Ellie, the Yorkie, a tri-color pup named Sarge, and Daisy–a pit bull.

10322752_10154496811199741_6355158780628109993_n

Sarge, lately…

Daisy went to a policeman, and Sarge (pictured left, and in top photo) went to Robin’s nephew, Nick (who is also my nephew) and his family.

After this promising beginning, Robin felt comfortable enough to try again. When she received a call that a woman was gravely ill, and couldn’t keep her four dogs, she and her husband Alan drove halfway to Maryland to meet Peggy. This led to one of her funniest moments as a foster mom.

They had the five dogs in the car, including Ellie the Yorkie. It was pouring down rain, but the dogs needed a pit stop. Alan gallantly volunteered to get out in the soaking rain to walk the dogs. Five dogs on five leashes. He quickly became entangled in all the leads, while Robin sat in the car . . . laughing. She soon realized she’d need to get out and untangle her soaking wet husband if she hoped to leave anytime soon. Actually, I think I’ve watched a similar very funny scene in a dog-walking movie. 🙂

One poignant fact Robin pointed out: rescues know they’re being rescued. They don’t usually sleep well in kennels, or wherever they’re kept temporarily, so when you bring them home, they get the first good sleep in a while, sometimes in their entire life. It’s very touching.14708281_1273912019315029_4344428347496789636_n

Have you ever considered fostering a pet (or pets)? It’s a wonderful calling. But what about practicality? Is there a cost? Don’t you need training? What else is involved?

Robin’s friend Peggy is a rescuer (not an agency), so Robin and her husband were responsible for the animals’ needs. What are we talking about? Many of the rescued animals need the most basic veterinary care, such as shots, worming, and of course, neutering. Some of the basic necessities can be acquired at a lower cost through veterinary clinics. If they know you’re fostering, sometimes your vet will help by lowering costs, or you can start a GoFundMe page (include pictures!) for assistance in caring for a needy pet.

Besides the basic necessities of feeding and housing, your pets will need exercise. A fenced backyard is a plus, but if you don’t have that, you’ll need to walk the dogs.

14258167_1240576632648568_5976695037727689518_o

Robin: Lecturing my foster child on why she should stop pulling tissues out of the trash (looks like it snowed in the house) and this is the look I get — KIDS!!!

Be aware that you may become attached. This could be considered the “downside” of fostering. Giving them up may be difficult for you. If you’re working with an individual rescuer, you will need to seek forever homes for the animals. This requires discernment and care. Some of the pets may “bounce back” if a new owner doesn’t bond with the pet, or isn’t satisfied.

There was basically no training required, but Robin had been talking to her friend for years, and knew the ins and outs. And of course, she could always call Peggy, if she had any questions or concerns. A friend or mentor who also fosters is a blessing.

Do your research before you commit to pet-fostering.  For instance, if you apply through an animal shelter, a local or state agency, you may be able to recoup some of your costs by listing them as contributions. When you foster for an agency or organization, they typically place the animals. And what if you fall in love with the pet? If you can’t bear to part with a pet you’ve fostered, you can apply for ownership.

fosteringRobin’s most touching moment as a foster parent came when she placed a dog named Rocky with a terminally-ill woman. Robin says she wouldn’t usually do this, but the woman’s prognosis was good. Robin thought it might help her feel better, give her a purpose. Dog and patient fell in love immediately. Sadly, the woman only lived a few more months, but the last photos of her always included Rocky, curled up next to her in bed. He was very devoted.

From Robin’s Facebook post: Well, Rocky is all settled in his new home with new mom, Joetta, and Joetta’s two daughters. He stole their hearts from the moment they met. Joetta’s daughters felt she would greatly benefit from a loving companion by her side as she successfully battles her cancer. Joetta wanted a dog with all her heart, and when her daughter saw my post, she knew it was meant to be. Rocky has a big yard to run as he pleases, but he is just as happy by her side. They took him on a shopping spree to Feeders Supply today and he loved it! God speed, Joetta. Something tells me you’re going to be just fine!

Chloe the poodle (above pics) has officially become a southern belle! She now lives in Georgia with her new mom, Vicky. She has a beautiful fenced yard and a garden house, and a doggy door to the big house so she can come and go as she pleases. I hope they have many happy years together. Cheers!

And Scooter? Well, Robin couldn’t part with the little sweetie in these before and after pics:


A Special Note from Robin:

Please get your pets neutered!

From the ASPCA‘s website: By spaying or neutering your pet, you’ll help control the pet homelessness crisis, which results in millions of healthy dogs and cats being euthanized in the United States each year simply because there aren’t enough homes to go around.

For more information about pet fostering, check out these two sites:

Kentucky Humane Society

Pet Fostering


Writing Prompt: [Finish this sentence in the comment section below]

New dog-owner, Dave, woke to a peculiar sound. . .

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3 Questions Wednesday with Jerusha Agen

Jerusha AgenWelcome back to 3 Questions Wednesday, Jerusha Agen.

I had the privilege of meeting Jerusha this past August, at the ACFW Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. I was happy to find her a beautiful and intelligent young woman, well-grounded in her faith. I have to say, I’m a big fan of The Sisters Redeemed Series. Yes, I’ve read all three of them. I just wish they’d had more sisters…

So let’s get to the first question:

What inspires you?

Jerusha:  Tough question! So many things inspire me: giant, fluffy snowflakes falling onto a pillow of sparkling beauty; a terrific movie; tight dialogue or silent action loaded with subtext; brilliant prose; clever wit; demonstrations of love, sacrifice, or mercy; friends who remind me of scriptural truths; the Words of the Bible…I could go on forever!

I can almost hear the snowflakes falling. Nothing beats tight dialogue in a story, or a rich undercurrent of action. Your words inspire me!

Next question is a bit of fun–

You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Jerusha:  Black! Because it’s my favorite color. 🙂

I love that. The color black denotes dignity. Now, last question–

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Jerusha:  As a very young child, I announced to everyone who asked that I wanted to be a doctor. Specifically, a family practitioner. I was pretty young for such big words, which explains the laughter I received from many adults when explaining my career aspirations. By the time I was thirteen, though, I’d found my true dream—to be a writer.

Ha ha! It would’ve been easier if you’d known to say “writer” at that young age, but not as funny, of course. Jerusha, thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer our 3 Questions.

Readers, Jerusha is offering a copy of her book, This Redeemer, to one blessed reader. Just leave a comment in the comments section below to be entered to win a print or Kindle version (reader’s choice).

Here’s more information about the book:


THIS REDEEMER

Not all prisons have bars.

This_Redeemer_FRONT_COVER resized (655x1024)Charlotte Davis should know—she’s lived in one for years. She can handle getting slapped around by her boyfriend, Tommy, and even being forced to do things she would never choose, but when Tommy turns on her 10-year-old daughter, Charlotte must try to escape. With nowhere else to turn, Charlotte runs to the stranger her dying mother believed would help her.

Looking only for shelter or cash, Charlotte finds a family she longs to call her own and a gentle man she could learn to love. But if Tommy catches up with Charlotte, these strangers could discover the truth about her. Will they send her back to Tommy? Or can a Father’s love set her free?

BUY LINKS:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Christianbook.com


Jerusha Agen

Jerusha Agen

Jerusha Agen imagines danger around every corner, but knows God is there, too. So naturally, she writes romantic suspense infused with the hope of salvation in Jesus Christ. With a B.A. in English and a background in screenwriting, Jerusha is the author of The Sisters Redeemed Series and The Heart Seekers Series novella collection. Jerusha writes about fighting against fear in our everyday lives at The Fear Warrior Blog. Visit Jerusha at www.JerushaAgen.com and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

New Year’s Resolutions: Yes or No?

by Betty Owens

pen-994464_1280Welcome to January, 2017. I hope you enjoyed a wonderful holiday season.

Our hot topic this month is resolutions. Do you make them? Many people do, but most don’t keep them. No surprise there, right?

I see that shiny new year as a chance to begin again, but wake up a couple of days later, and realize it’s just another day. Just reading-834944_1280another year, among many. Besides, it’s the middle of winter–a great time to veg out on movies…or read.

Are you a procrastinator? Do you suddenly jump in at the very last moment to accomplish a goal you set in January 2016? Don’t beat yourself up over it, just be happy you accomplished it.

I’m not here to judge, I’m just here to introduce January’s topic. I’ll let the other crew members tell you their stories, challenge you, and encourage you.

mountain-road-1556177_1280If you’re a writer, a simple blog post on a subject of interest can provide fodder for a story. Spur your imagination—get those writerly fingers itching for the computer keys.

Readers may find helpful hints, interesting tidbits, and be inspired to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Those could be our goals this year, as blog writers. To provide interesting, inspiring, entertaining copy for you, our readers to digest. Don’t forget to share! If you love our content, or find something inspirational and encouraging, please use the share buttons below to help us get the word out. We have lots of giveaways here at the Writing Prompts blog. And many of our 3 Questions Wednesday authors give away books.

I hope you’ll take advantage of everything we have to offer.

Like millions of other humans, my personal goal for 2017 is to eat healthy, and get more exercise. My business goal is to write two books, and continue to study the craft of writing. Learning never ends. Those are lofty goals for me. But, with a little energy and determination, I can do it.

Will I succeed? I have no idea. I’m not infallible. I haven’t been hugely successful in life. But I’ve always been able to pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again. Nothing is impossible…

I’m stubborn and determined, if nothing else.

I pray that the turn of the year opens doors for you. May your days be blessed, and may God give you strength throughout each season, to stand the tests life brings you. He doesn’t promise all sweetness and roses, but He gives peace in the midst of life’s journey.

Writing Prompt: Margot stood in the longest line ever to return the puce crew neck sweater her sister-in-law gave her for Christmas. Besides the unfortunate color, it was two sizes too small. When she finally reached the cashier…

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