Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Maria McKenzie | What Inspired The Unchained Trilogy
Author Guest / October 22, 2012

It’s fascinating how an idea can be transformed into a story.  I always enjoy learning what inspires an author’s work. For instance, Stephenie Meyer had a dream that inspired her to write TWILIGHT, and Margaret Mitchell modeled Pansie O’Hara (who later became Scarlett O’Hara) in GONE WITH THE WIND after herself, and her experience of falling in love with the wrong man. One of my favorite movies is Finding Neverland. In it, we see how Scottish dramatist J.M. Barrie, through imagination and his real experience of befriending three boys (and their evil Captain Hook like grandmother) came up with the idea for the stage play Peter Pan. “With a wee bit of imagination,” Barrie says, “anything is possible.” For a writer, truer words were never spoken! I am very excited about the release of my new novel, ESCAPE: Book One of the Unchained Trilogy. I came up with the idea for this story when I thought how sad it would have been if my husband and I had met 150 years earlier. We were living in North Carolina at the time, and being an interracial couple, we wouldn’t have been allowed to marry a century and a half earlier. The…

Diane Kelly | Is All Truly Fair in Love and War?
Author Guest / October 16, 2012

Bad breakups. Ugh. We’ve all suffered through them. Whether you’re the breaker-upper or the breaker-uppee, the end of a relationship can be painful, humiliating, and heartbreaking. Bad breakups can take many forms. Maybe we’ve lost interest in the person we’ve been seeing. We try to gently break it our boyfriend or girlfriend that we want to move on and the person responds with anger, spreading vicious rumors about us or disclosing embarrassing secrets once shared in confidence. Or maybe the person we’ve been seeing, the one who seemed so nice and sweet and committed, has been unfaithful, ripping out our heart and stomping on it. Or perhaps the breakup has been building for some time like the pressure in a volcano and ends in a screaming and swearing match, each person doing their best to rip the other to emotional shreds. Dating isn’t for wimps, huh? Back in high school, a guy I was dating showed up at my house with a hickey on his neck . . . a hickey some other girl had put there. Did he really think I wouldn’t notice a purple bruise the size of a silver dollar on his neck? Sheesh! I vowed then…

Fresh Pick | LEARNING TO SWIM by Sara J. Henry
Fresh Pick / October 11, 2012

December 2011 On Sale: December 20, 2011 Featuring: Troy Chance 297 pages ISBN: 0307718395 EAN: 9780307718396 Kindle: B004J4WM2M Paperback (reprint) $15.00  Add to Wish List Suspense, Mystery Buy at Anthony winner for Best First Book — a great ending twist Learning To Swim by Sara J. Henry “If I’d blinked, I would have missed it. But I didn’t, and I saw something fall from the rear deck of the opposite ferry: a small, wide-eyed human face, in one tiny frozen moment, as it plummeted toward the water.” When she witnesses a small child tumbling from a ferry into Lake Champlain, Troy Chance dives in without thinking. Harrowing moments later, she bobs to the surface, pulling a terrified little boy with her. As the ferry disappears into the distance, she begins a bone-chilling swim nearly a mile to shore with a tiny passenger on her back. Surprisingly, he speaks only French. He’ll acknowledge that his name is Paul; otherwise, he’s resolutely mute. Troy assumes that Paul’s frantic parents will be in touch with the police or the press. But what follows is a shocking and deafening silence. And Troy, a freelance writer, finds herself as fiercely determined to protect Paul…

Lori Foster Has a New Series: Lover Undercover
Author Guest / October 11, 2012

Lori Foster dropped by to talk about her new series Love Undercover and the first book: RUN THE RISK. The new series will feature heroes who are “undercover” to solve a mystery and on the way find true love. Tell us some background and how you came up with the idea for your new series Love Undercover. It’s pretty weird how the process works for me. I almost always see a scene first, and in this case, the scene was a hunky male neighbor putting the moves on a female neighbor because she had a secret that he needed to know. When I started writing, I was unsure what the secret might be, why the heroine was keeping the secret, and why the hero needed it. See, very weird! I’ve always been drawn to those stories where the male protagonist gets himself into deep trouble – under the best of intentions – and then has to find a way to regain the heroine’s trust. Good examples are LOVING EVANGELINE, by Linda Howard, or SCANDAL, by Amanda Quick. Most of the wonderful books by Kresley Cole, too. I love it when the characters are honorable, but are forced to do dishonorable…

Zoë Archer | Deep, Dark Secrets ~ Comment to Win LADY X’S COWBOY
Author Guest / October 8, 2012

We’ve all done it.  Tried to keep it a secret, hoping no one finds out.  Our furtive habit that so many people tell us we shouldn’t do, but we just can’t help ourselves.  Some of us start when we’re older, and others, like me, get started when we’re teenagers, getting hooked because of one of our friends. What am I talking about?  Reading romance novels, of course! How many of us have heard comments like “Why don’t you read something with real literary value?” or “That’s just escapist, fantasy fluff!” Hearing these comments over and over again can get pretty frustrating, and it’s tough not to get snippy when people outside the romance community (even booksellers!) make judgments about us for what we choose to read. But, friends, we’re not the first to criticized for our reading habits. Back in the 19th century, with printing and shipping costs lowering, as well as a more literate populace, inexpensive books known as penny dreadfuls or dime novels became wildly popular in the United States and England.  The books were full of adventure and excitement, their subjects running the gamut from detective stories, Gothic ghost tales, historical sagas to—yes—tales of the Wild West….

Story Garden | What Happens When You Love (Or Despise) Your Characters For Not Being Like You?
Author Guest / October 8, 2012

From Trish Jensen: My book that came out in September, AGAINST HIS WILL, featured a man who had no use for dogs. Or any animals, for that matter. I couldn’t stand my own hero for a long, long time because I’m an animal freak, and he wasn’t. The only thing that kept me going (and not bonking him over the head with a baseball bat) was that I absolutely knew the heroine would change his mind, and he’d end up loving that dang Bulldog he’d inherited against his will. I also knew he’d never abuse the dog even if he hated being the new unwilling human, because he’d be dead. (The hero, not the dog.) Well, he actually obeyed me, which most of my characters end up not doing. He fell in love with his dog. So I love him even more today than I did when I finished this story. But that was just a prelim to what I’m talking about here. In my next release, FOR A GOOD TIME, CALL… I’ve recognized that neither of those characters are me, either. Sherry doesn’t let anything get her down. Well, she can get very, very ticked on occasion, and loves…

Laura Bickle | Balancing Chaos and Order
Author Guest / October 7, 2012

In THE HALLOWED ONES, I wanted to explore the ideas of chaos and order. Most of the time, we tend to frown upon chaos and elevate order as a virtue. Chaos feels dangerous, opening up unknown possibilities. Order seems predicable, a way to keep us warm and safe. And it certainly feels that way to Katie, my Amish heroine. Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time when she can experiment a bit with the outside world. She wants to explore controlled chaos, the kind of exhilaration that we all want with pushing limits. She wants to venture to the nearby city, to meet people beyond her own small world, to wear jeans and read comic books. She’s read every book in the public library she can get her hands on. She yearns to know what’s beyond the confines of her fence. It’s the bright side of chaos that makes us feel alive, and Katie is no exception to those feelings. Before Katie can experiment with Rumspringa, the outside world is overtaken by chaos. Katie’s community is a safe haven, seemingly spared by the darkness. But she knows that evil and silence are waiting beyond her fence. There…

Nikki Logan | What Would You Do To Survive? What Wouldn’t You do?
Author Guest / October 7, 2012

Imagine for just a moment that you’ve been snatched off an African highway by armed men and thrown into a hastily cleared out storeroom while they do God knows what to the rare wild dogs that you were transporting to the north of the country. The dogs that are your job, and your responsibility, and the thing that gives you purpose and represent two years of work now facing the bad end of a poacher’s weapon. And you’re locked in a room, sore and sweaty and gummy-mouthed with thirst, with your wrists bound with cable-tie, totally and utterly powerless. Imagine vacillating between blood-boiling rage and skin-chilling fear, and knowing that you need to escape to save your own life and also your dogs’. How long do you think it would take you to find your feet, clear your head and start thinking? Planning. I like to imagine, much like my heroine Clare, that I’d be useless for about an hour or so but that, as the post-adrenaline crash started to wear off, my mind would kick into gear and my brain would start focussing—really focussing with a kind of acuity we don’t get to use much in day-to-day life—and ideas…

Fresh Pick | THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ME by Karen Rivers
Fresh Pick / October 2, 2012

September 2012 On Sale: September 1, 2012 Featuring: Tink Aaron-Martin; Freddie Blue 256 pages ISBN: 0545310288 EAN: 9780545310284 Kindle: B0091LYPQE Hardcover $16.99  Add to Wish List Young Adult Contemporary Buy at A fun YA The Encyclopedia Of Me by Karen Rivers A is for “Tink Aaron-Martin,” “Aardvark,” and “Amazing” in this wonderful alphabetical novel! Tink Aaron-Martin has been grounded AGAIN after an adventure with her best friend Freddie Blue Anderson. To make the time pass, she decides to write an encyclopedia of her life from “Aa” (a kind of lava–okay, she cribbed that from the real encyclopedia) to “Zoo” (she’s never been to one, but her brothers belong there). As the alphabet unfolds, so does the story of Tink’s summer: more adventures with Freddie Blue (and more experiences in being grounded); how her family was featured in a magazine about “Living with Autism,” thanks to her older brother Seb–and what happened after Seb fell apart; her growing friendship, and maybe more, with Kai, a skateboarder who made her swoon (sort of). And her own sense that maybe she belongs not under “H” for “Hideous,” or “I” for “Invisible,” but “O” for “Okay.” Written entirely in Tink’s hilarious encyclopedia entries,…

Jill Archer | Waning and Waxing Magic: Fire versus Flowers
Author Guest / October 2, 2012

Magical systems in a fantasy novel take as much thought as the settings and characters do. A magical structure will affect the characters just like the world’s history, religion, or government will. It will likely have an even greater effect on the plot of a novel. And the myriad ways a character’s talents can manifest is fascinating. A character might be able to shape shift (Patricia Briggs‘ Mercy Thompson), speak to or raise the dead (Laurell K. Hamilton‘s Anita Blake), cast spells (J.K. Rowling‘s Hermione Granger), create elaborate illusions (Erin Morgenstern‘s Celia Bowen), manipulate matter (Lois McMaster Bujold‘s Dag Redwing Hickory), or read people’s minds (Charlaine Harris‘ Sookie Stackhouse). They might have telekinetic (J.R.R. Tolkien‘s Gandalf) or pyrokinetic abilities (the original firestarter, Stephen King‘s Charlie McGee). Or they may be able to travel through time (Diana Gabaldon‘s Claire Randall) or control space travel (Ann Aguirre‘s Sirantha Jax). I realize some of my examples aren’t magic, but rather a special ability, and some of the novels are science fiction, not fantasy, but the concept is the same: SF/F authors spend a lot of time carefully considering their main characters’ special powers and how those powers work within the fictional world they’ve…