Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Debbie Wiley | Recent Paranormal and Fantasy Novels I’ve Enjoyed
Author Guest / April 18, 2019

Senior Reviewer Debbie Wiley  I don’t remember the first fantasy novel I ever read but I do remember the first one I fell in love with. JRR Tolkien’s THE HOBBIT captivated me like no other book had, taking me on a long and winding quest where creatures of legend lived and breathed. Since that long-ago time in 8th grade, I’ve soared on the backs of dragons with Anne McCaffrey, attended wizarding school with Harry Potter and JK Rowling, and gone on a quest with a talking cat with Tad Williams. Diving into other worlds is one of the biggest allures of fantasy novels. Marshall Ryan Maresca has done a marvelous job at world building, crafting four series set in the same world. THE THORN OF DENTONHILL, the first book in the Maradaine series, caught my attention initially and features a mage student at the local university who has a secret life as a crime fighter against a major crime boss. The Madalaine Constabulary series now has three books in it, including the most recent one, A PARLIAMENT OF BODIES. Not only is the Madalaine Constabulary series my favorite of the four, but A PARLIAMENT OF BODIES is my favorite book out…

Amber Royer | Developing the Chocoverse
Author Guest / April 18, 2019

When I started developing the Chocoverse, I wanted to tell a story without easy answers, where nobody was exactly in the right, and they are all trying their best despite difficult circumstances.  I mean, come on, my heroine commits treason to her home planet within the first few chapters of the first book – because she believes stealing a cacao pod from one of Earth’s heavily guarded plantations will actually prevent war.  (The basic premise for the series is that the aliens have made first contact, they took samples of Earth’s commodities, and now the best coffee is grown on the other side of the galaxy – only, they missed chocolate, which becomes the only unique thing Earth has, and therefore one of the most sought after substances in the galaxy. And in a messy ‘verse that runs on secrets and conflict, love obviously wouldn’t be simple either.  The books have a strong (sweetly written) romantic subplot between Bo (the aforementioned heroine who steals chocolate to share with the aliens) and Brill (an alien of the species that made the clandestine first contact and stripped Earth of commodities.)  There’s societal prejudice on both sides – the long-lived Krom view Earthlings…

Karen Harper | Cash for Class: American Dollar Brides
Author Guest / April 17, 2019

One of the most unusual upper-class traditions during the American Gilded Age and the English Victorian and Edwardian Eras was that of American heiresses marrying into British nobility for money.  This fascinated me and led to years of research to write American Duchess. Some famous examples of dollar brides include Winston Churchill’s mother Jennie Jerome; Cora, Lady Grantham in Downton Abbey (yes, I know that one is fiction) and my very real heroine Consuelo Vanderbilt whose social-climbing mother forced her to wed the 9th Duke of Marlborough in 1895 when she was in love with someone else.  The Vanderbilts paid a fortune to help renovate the duke’s massive Blenheim Palace in exchange for Consuelo becoming his duchess.  At age 18, how would you like to have a starter home of nearly two hundred rooms and be wed to a man you hardly knew? Consuelo’s New York City marriage was dubbed ‘the wedding of the century.’  Perhaps the 60-piece orchestra, 54-voice choir singing O Perfect Love and 4000 guests did make it undisputedly that.  Yet Consuelo found ways to live her own life and help others, as well as producing ‘an heir and a spare.’  And, fortunately for this author, who likes to write and read great love stories, she later found…

Julia Justiss | History ReFreshed: Lesser-Known Tudors: The Lives of the Not-So-Famous and Powerful
Author Guest / April 17, 2019

One of the first harbingers of spring in my area is the appearance of several tiny flowers that thrive in the grass, a miniature violet with a bloom smaller than a fingernail and one plant with a bitty yellow snapdragon-shaped flower.  Easy to overlook, they are nonetheless beautiful. For this month of emerging spring, we will likewise look at the stories of some fascinating but relatively unknown Tudor ladies.  Most readers are familiar with the great names that dominate historical fiction of that era—King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Bloody Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth I.   Bypassing the famous, we begin with the woman who made one of history’s most shocking mésalliances. While most of the historical fiction interest centers on the later Tudors, ROOT OF THE TUDOR ROSE by Mari Griffith features the couple that began it all: Catherine of Valois and Owen Tudor.  All looked well for this French princess who married Henry V and soon gave him an heir.  But after his early death on campaign in France, Catherine is reduced to queen-dowager, living in the household of her young son, the boy-king Henry VI, and watched over by counselors eager to prevent an ill-advised remarriage–particularly her…

Elizabeth Heiter | Writing an Injured Ex-Marine Hero
Author Guest / April 16, 2019

Meet Colter Hayes. He’s 6’2” tall, 180 pounds of mostly muscle, with close-cropped dark blond hair and intense blue eyes. He’s loyal to a fault, loves dogs (he lives with the Combat Tracker Dog who was his partner in the Marines), and can make a woman feel dangerous things. But all he sees is a man who’s damaged. Someone who came home from war with an injury that left him less than whole. Partly it’s his leg, now held together by a rod and screws. It’s accepting that the things he could do in the military police, alongside his K-9 partner Rebel – like tracking an explosion back to the person who set it – are now out of reach. But mostly it’s the way he and Rebel came home. Both forced out of the military because of injuries that would never have them back to “fighting shape.” And alone. Without the teammates he’d come to see as brothers. Overseas, Rebel saved Colter’s life by jumping on him and knocking him down into a bomb crater during an ambush. The rest of his team died that day and the attackers never realized Colter and Rebel were still alive. There are…

Sheila Roberts | When the Going Gets Tough…
Author Guest / April 16, 2019

The not-so-tough go to the beach, which is exactly where my main character Celeste Jones in The Summer Retreat goes after her latest true love turns out not to be so true. This is another story set in my new fictional town of Moonlight Harbor, which I based loosely on the charming beach town of Ocean Shores, Washington. Ocean Shores offers visitors an impressive system of canals for kayaking and a funky downtown that is a mix of both new and vintage buildings, many leftover from the sixties when the town first came into being. You’ll find any number of shops, including one with a storefront shaped like a giant shark. Shoppers enter through the shark’s mouth. You can enjoy an ice cream cone at the ice cream parlor, then ride bumper cars or go-carts, play miniature golf or enjoy a full-sized golf course. Tennis and pickleball courts abound as well, and locals who join the community club (almost anyone who buys property there can join the club) can choose between two outdoor pools or one indoor pool for swimming. Then, of course, you have the beach and those gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. Beach fires, surfing, storm watching, beach combing,…

Stephen B. King | The Incongruity of Beauty
Author Guest / April 15, 2019

We use the word beauty in many different scenarios and situation, but could we ever use it to describe death? In Glimpse, the Beautiful Deaths, criminal psychologist Patricia Holmes, attached to the Major Crime Squad of the Western Australian Police Department does. That’s a beautiful dress, we might say, or what a beautiful day, those flowers are beautiful, that child has a beautiful personality, she has a beauty spot on her cheek……….You get the idea for how often we can use the adjective. I’ve even heard sports commentators say what a beautiful shot, he’s swimming beautifully and once, in a heavyweight boxing match, what a beautiful knock out punch. It seems to me to be over-used, and in some cases is completely opposite from what the word actually means. Patricia Holmes, asks us to consider beauty in its purest form. She describes a man who has an obsession to own and possesses beautiful things so badly it leads to six cases of murder. During a meeting with homicide detectives where she delivers the profile of the man they are hunting, she nicknames him Gordon. She urges the men to think of him that way; an ordinary man, not a master…

Robin Bielman & Samanthe Beck | Buddy Writing
Author Guest / April 15, 2019

There are buddy cop films where the plot involves two people of different personalities who are forced to work together to defeat the bad guys, sometimes learning from each other in the process. And then there are buddy writers. Two people of comparative personalities who choose to work together to create a story that readers will hopefully love, most definitely learning from each other in the process. Crockett & Tubbs, Murtaugh & Riggs, Turner & Hooch, Tango & Cash, Thelma & Louise. Okay, T&L weren’t cops, but they were best buds until the very end so for the purposes of this post, we’ll compare it to typing, “The End.” See what we did there? You’re so clever, Sam. No, you’re so clever, Robin. What we’re trying to say is, we had a kickass time writing this book together. As with any big undertaking, there were good days and bad days. There were rewrites and respites. Coffee fueled most of our writing/brainstorming sessions—we can totally vouch for the power of mochas. And plotting sessions by the seat of our pants ruled our word counts. We took long walks along the beach to talk through scenes and emotions and characterization and how…

Sarah Morgan | Exclusive Interview: ONE SUMMER IN PARIS
Author Guest / April 12, 2019

Enjoy this chat between bestselling author Sarah Morgan and Fresh Fiction Editorial Manager Danielle Dresser! The unlikely friendship between Grace and Audrey is my favorite part of this novel. How did these two characters come to life for you? I’m pleased you enjoyed that part of the book because it was my favorite part to write! I knew from the start of this book that I wanted to write an inter-generational friendship. I felt it would add a richness to this story that would be missing if Grace had, for example, befriended someone her age. Right from the start, I could see the potential for humor and emotion in the relationship between these two. They are different in personality and life experience, and yet they form a deep and lasting bond. Playing with their dialogue, and watching each character push the other out of her comfort zone, was great fun. Paris is a wonderful setting for this novel. What do you love most about the City of Lights? There’s the food of course, and the wine, but as well as that Paris is a pretty city, light and airy with beautiful buildings, wide open boulevards, and an energy that is…

Irene Hannon | Top Five Reasons I Write Romance
Author Guest / April 11, 2019

First, a word about the romance genre. As those of us who write—and read—romance know, romance is often the underdog of fiction. Literary types in particular often look down on it. How sad for them. For romance has the power to sweep us away on a magical journey where heroes and heroines triumph against daunting odds. It uplifts, encourages and fills us with hope. It’s the stuff of inspiration. I’m proud to write it—for these reasons: 1. I love happy endings. Who doesn’t? That’s what our hearts and souls yearn for, and when it comes to the dating game, the romance genre—by definition—offers a guaranteed happily ever after. Romance novels are comfort food for the heart because we know that no matter how bad things get, the hero and heroine will end up together. Going along with them on their journey as they grapple with all the challenges that come their way makes for a compelling—and sometimes enlightening—ride. I read a cynical article once that denigrated the genre as nothing more than a fairy tale with no basis in reality, and you know what? I felt sorry for the woman who wrote it. Because once we stop believing in the…