Interviews with Two Authors on the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour

 Twenty-two talented authors are participating in the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour, sponsored by the Grace Awards. These writers have a great love for Christmas and would like to share with the public their thoughts about what inspires them and their Christmas memories.

NIKE CHILLEMI (BURNING HEARTS, GOODBYE NOEL, PERILOUS SHADOWS, classic historical murder mystery series with romance and action)

Grace Awards:  Tell us about your fondest Christmas memory?

Nike:  I missed my paternal grandmother terribly when I was a little girl when she moved across the country. Coupled with that I wished I could have a fancy party dress, which we could not afford. We spent Christmas at my maternal grandmother’s house. My mother, father, and all my aunts and uncles shooed me off to bed. By the excitement in their eyes, I knew something was up. When I got up on Christmas morning there was a huge box wrapped in plain paper with postage marking on it and it was for me. When I opened the box, there were two velvet dresses with lace collars and cuffs inside in my size. One in Christmas red and one in Christmas green. My grandmother and aunt who lived across the country had sewn them for me. I still tear up thinking about it.

Grace Awards:   Are your Christmas decorations traditional, or do they have a more modern flare? Do you have a particular theme to your decorating? Or does each and every ornament and decoration have a personal meaning to you?

Nike:  I subscribe to the belief that more is more in Christmas decorations. Every inch of my Christmas tree is covered and I have decorations in every room of the house including bathrooms. The overall theme is traditional and my colors are strictly red, green, white, and gold. I have two ornaments from my maternal grandmother’s tree that date to the 1940s. I have ornaments from my parents’ tree from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. My mother collected bird ornaments and I have several of those. Over the 26 years I’ve been married a new tradition has emerged. Anytime we go away or on a vacation we try to find a Christmas ornament to bring home in the hues that go with our traditional Christmas color scheme. We’re animal lovers and have been pet rescuers. We also pick up ornaments that resemble our pets. As you can tell, our house is stuffed to the rafters with decorations.

Like so many other 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 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. She is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and its Chairman, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes 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, published by Desert Breeze. 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, the third in the series released in July, 2012. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers (Ning).

Link to Nike’s showcase on the Grace Filled Blog Tour. Check out classic whodunits for Christmas.

SHAUNNA GONZOLES (DARK DAYS OF PROMISE, romance, women’s fiction, self-discovery, loss, healing, redemption)

Grace Awards:  What is your favorite Christmas carol and why? Do you have a favorite performing artist who sings that song?

Shaunna: I have two that are a tie, Handel’s Halleluiah Chorus and Oh Holy Night. Performing artist? Well, I don’t think most have heard of the high school I attended but I still remember, with chills running up and down my spine the Christmas that we (a choir of 200+) performed the Halleluiah Chorus, from memory–even our pianist! Yeah we got a standing ovation for that. And Oh Holy Night? That was a solo performance for me as a special request at a church function. I was dressed in my best, white slacks and glittery holiday blouse. I didn’t realize the impact on the gathering until later when someone told me how much the video recording they had made that night meant to them as a family. Special reminiscing for me, especially since I haven’t done much singing through the holidays for years now.

Grace Awards:  Have you ever had to handle a significant loss during the holidays? How did you cope?

Shaunna:  I was nine years-old when my father died early in December. I didn’t cry then, I like to think it was because of my childlike faith rather than shock or any of the stages of mourning. Now I experience the twinge of tears burn behind my eyes as well as that tight thirst at the back of my throat (I reach for my constant bottle of water to wash it away.) We had little time to grieve as a family. My sister was getting married a week later. Wow, photographs don’t lie, the smiles were strained, even the bride’s. How to cope…probably not as well as one should. Even just one day at a time. I think for some years I was numb. But Christmas took on a very different meaning for me. I don’t enjoy the hustle and bustle of shopping or the crowds. Christmas for me, is a time of reflection. Reflection on the year coming to its close, reflection on the distant past, reflection on my connection with Jesus Christ, His birth, His example, His life, and His sacrifice for me personally.

Shaunna Gonzales has toyed with writing since her teenage years but has only written in earnest since 2005. In an effort to give Dark Days of Promise an authentic feel she endeavored to include some experiences of veterans she knows and could often be found discussing the realities of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in their lives and how it could honestly be shared in this project. On the evening of this books first promotion, she realized that the scope of PTSD reaches deep into the core of our society and includes infants, children, housewives, the working and unemployed as well as veterans; in short, all of us. In an effort to treat this subject fairly, Ms. Gonzales has altered her writing course from “romance with a twist” to helping our society, sufferers and innocents alike to becoming aware. It is more than those who experience the violence, more than the victims who experience this debilitating disease that are affected. It is their families, the bystander of violent crime and all of us who dare to care for and love them. Shaunna currently resides in the Seattle, Washington area, with her husband, and their younger children.

Link to Shaunna’s showcase on the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour.

There will be more author interviews to follow. The authors on the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour want to share their Christmas hopes, dreams, memories, decorating trips, perhaps even a recipe or two. Stay turned as these terrific and very interesting authors share about what Christmas means to them.

Link to access the Calendar of the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour:

8 thoughts on “Interviews with Two Authors on the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour

  1. Well, Nike and Shaunna, I had to go blow my nose after reading your sweet and poignant reminiscences about Christmas! Thank you for sharing from the heart. Your tender spirits are reflected in your writing. Thank you!

  2. You sure sound like you get into the holiday spirit, Nike! I hope Sandy doesn’t hold you back too dreadfully this year. Shaunna, how poignant! I hope your family has been able to treasure other memories over the years. God bless, ladies. Joyeux Noelle!

  3. I loved both interviews! Nike, DH and I started a tradition when we got married (actually, I think on engagement). We get a new ornament each year, something special. I got the Yankee Candle 25th Anniv. Ornament the year of OUR 25th anniversary!

    Shaunna, I can only imagine the strain your father’s loss put on you and your family. But I agree with you about not liking the hustle and bustle of the holiday. The losses I’ve suffered were mostly not at Christmas time but this is the one holiday that makes me reflect and miss each one of those special people. We also have ornaments “dedicated” to them (like a fire truck for my brother, an ornament given to us from Uncle Billy, etc)

    1. It was very cool to hear your early memories of Christmas. (Although sad for Shaunna) Christmas is such an important marker for most of us. these are the kinds of things that never leave us and shape us. I love Christmas myself and used to do go overboard decorating. I’ve simplified a bit in the past few years, but I still love the holiday

  4. The more I think about it, the more I realize the story of my early life w/my parents and extended family…as well as the story of my marriage and our life in our home is told in Christmas ornaments and decorations. So many of our ornaments have our history in them. Wow!

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