Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Loreth Anne White | Plotting Who-Dun-It
Author Guest / May 20, 2019

My newest book, THE DARK BONES, is about a cop who learns that her father—a retired police officer—has killed himself. My heroine, Detective Rebecca North, cannot believe it. But in order to prove it Rebecca must return to her small and rural home town where she will be forced to face a lot of dark things she’s been running from, including Ash Haugen, the man she left behind long ago, and a cold case everyone thought long buried. At the heart, THE DARK BONES is about second chances, about being forced to revisit mistakes from the past, and then digging deep in an effort to set things right, and heal. It’s about the cold case wounds I suspect we all have buried in our subconscious somewhere, in one way or another, those unhappy events that have helped shape everything we do, and everything we have become. In Rebecca and Ash’s case, it’s also about being able to love again once they’ve addressed the reasons underpinning their old mistakes and lies. I’m a plotter for the most part. I go into a new story knowing who my protagonists are. I know what their big ‘wounds’ are, and I know what they…

Miranda Owen | Some Like it HOT: Erotic Moments in Romance
Author Guest / May 17, 2019

“To bask in passion’s glow. To bathe in love’s fountain. To swim in the rivers of Eros.” “It sounds quite vile. No thank you.” It was very difficult not to laugh. She managed it, just. MUCH ADO ABOUT DUTTON by Claudia Dain The other day one of the authors in one of the many online reading groups I’m in posted a question asking readers how many love scenes they demanded in a romance. I get why authors ask this, but I feel like it’s a difficult thing for readers to answer. I know there has been a lot of debate and general discussion about how many love scenes/sex scenes put in romances, and over how the quantity and quality of love scenes in a book should be advertised to readers. I remember reading a few years ago that a favorite romance author of mine felt pressured by her publisher to include a specific number of sex scenes in her book. I felt that was unfair; not just because I think that she should be allowed complete freedom in her creative process, but also because those scenes weren’t what I found most enjoyable about her books. In the end, I took…

Julia London | Exclusive Interview: THE CHARMER IN CHAPS
Author Guest / May 17, 2019

We’re chatting about high school, house renovations, and of course, new books with bestselling author Julia London and Editorial Manager Danielle Dresser! Welcome to Fresh Fiction, Julia! Please tell us about your brand-new series, the Princes of Texas, and book 1, The Charmer in Chaps. It’s about the Prince family, which is a happy cross between the Ewings of Dallas and maybe the Clampetts of Beverly Hillbillies (I think we need a reboot of that one). Anyway, the Prince family is legendary in Texas with an enormous ranch along the lines of the King Ranch. But they fall on hard times, no thanks to Dad’s horrible big-stakes gambling problem, and suddenly find themselves having to figure out life without all the trappings of wealth. In The Charmer in Chaps, Luca is the one they call a bunny hugger. He wants to preserve some of the land before they strip it of all the character it had. But he’s going to have to figure it out on his own, and without any help from his family. And he’s got some personal issues that are going to make figuring it out on his own especially difficult. It’s the sort of issue that…

Joan Johnston | Lions and Tigers and Bears… Oh, My!
Author Guest / May 17, 2019

I live in Colorado, so I’ve done a lot of hiking in the woods.  The only dangers I have to deal with are black bears and panthers, neither of which will bother you if you’re making plenty of noise and minding your own business.  Folks in Montana, where Sullivan’s Promise is set, are facing something far more frightening—grizzly bears. My heroine, Victoria Grayhawk, is committed to protecting endangered species, like the grizzly, while my hero, Ryan Sullivan, is a rancher who would just as soon not have the enormous bears making a meal of his newborn calves. You can imagine the conflict between them when Ryan’s brother is attacked and mauled by a grizzly, which has to been hunted down and killed. I learned a lot about grizzly attacks on humans while doing my research for this book, and I have to admit, I may have scared myself out of the woods, the way Jaws scared me out of the water.  Grizzly attacks are few and far between, but they’re pretty horrific when they happen, which is a lot more often as humans encroach on areas previously left to the bears in Montana.  So hike with bear spray, stay on…

Debbie Wiley | May is Mental Health Awareness Month
Author Guest / May 16, 2019

CW/TW: In this article, senior reviewer Debbie Wiley discusses mental health awareness, recommending young adult titles that have depression, suicide, and other mental health topics. If you are anyone you know is dealing with suicidal thoughts or behaviors, please call 1-800-273-8255 or text RISE to 741741 to speak/text with a counselor.  As a teenager, I remember being fascinated by mental health issues, not knowing at that age that I was shaping my life’s work as a social worker. I devoured books like THE BELL JAR and GO ASK ALICE, but it was I NEVER PROMISED YOU A ROSE GARDEN that really touched a chord in me. Not only was the main character named Deborah, but she had a fantasy world not completely unlike many of the fantasy novels I read. Even better, she had a psychiatrist who listened and helped her journey back to sanity. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and the importance of this has perhaps never been greater. Whether it’s the seemingly daily reports of bullying, suicides, school shootings, or other horrors, society is starting to recognize that mental health awareness is imperative. Slowly but surely the stigma against getting help is being erased. The young adult book market…

Author Reader Match: Beth K. Vogt
MatchMaker / May 15, 2019

What I write: After spending time as a nonfiction editor and author, I crossed over to the “dark side” of the writing road, moving from contemporary romance to women’s fiction. Yes, I like happily-ever-afters, but women’s fiction lets me explore how relationships between sisters, moms and daughters, best friends—anyone we love—can be messy. The novels in the Thatcher Sisters series could best be described as my “Little Women gone wrong” books. More about me: I’m an award-winning novelist who once said she’d never write fiction and now enjoys hanging out with imaginary people. I’m a creative, but I’m also craft-challenged, so don’t invite me to join you at Hobby Lobby unless you want me to push your cart while you shop. When I’m not writing, you’ll find me taking photos of my daughter’s volleyball matches—lots and lots of photos. I learned the game through a camera lens. What I’m looking for in my ideal reader: You want a story that delves into real-life issues like complicated family relationships, grief, estrangement, breast cancer, and unexpected pregnancy. You want stories with a spiritual thread—and characters who might believe in God, might not, or who are struggling in their faith journey. You want…

Susan Spann | Celebrating the Flowers of Japan
Author Guest / May 15, 2019

Japan is famous for the ornamental cherry trees whose blossoms—known as sakura—transform the country’s mountains, parks, and rivers with spectacular pink and white blossoms every spring. The delicate sakura are an iconic symbol of Japan, and with good reason. For thousands of years, Japanese people from all walks of life have enjoyed and celebrated these lovely blooms Cherry blossoms typically bloom and die within just a few days, making them an enduring symbol of the transience and fragility of life. During the few short weeks of the sakura season, people flock to parks for hanami (flower viewing) parties beneath the trees. The sakura may be the most famous Japanese blossom, but it’s far from the only flower celebrated in Japan. In fact, flower festivals occur across Japan in every season of the year. December and January mark the blooming season for camellias (tsubaki, in Japanese), and many people visit the island of Oshima, which rises from the sea about 120-km south of Tokyo, in the Izu archipelago, to experience the hundreds of varieties of vibrant camellias growing there. In addition to their beauty, the camellia seeds produce an oil that’s used as a skin care aid as well as for…

Julia Justiss | History ReFreshed: Strength and Glory
Author Guest / May 15, 2019

As May brings the perfume of spring flowers, hinting of the warmth of summer to come, thoughts turn to vacation, rest and renewal.  What better way than to be an armchair traveler than to delve into historical fiction that explores the exotic worlds of the Far East? We begin in India with John Shor’s BENEATH A MARBLE SKY.  A cultural icon, the Taj Mahal is instantly recognizable.  Shorr’s novel gives us the story behind the building of this remarkable memorial by the emperor of Hindustan, Shah Jahan, in honor of his beloved wife Mumatz Mahal. Told through the eyes of the couple’s eldest daughter, Princess Jahanara, we are transported to a vast empire constantly rent by rebellion and religious strife, a place of fabulous wealth and dire poverty.  Trained in the techniques of strategy and influenced by her mother, the emperor’s favorite wife and confident, Jahanara takes over from that lady, advising her father, trying to protect her brother Dara, the rightful heir, from the machinations of his ambitious brother Aurangzeb, supervising the construction of her mother’s memorial—and falling in love with its architect, a man she can never marry.  Shorr’s novel reveals the richness of the princess’s world, full…

May McGoldrick | Five Badass Women in History
Author Guest / May 15, 2019

By May McGoldrick (aka Nikoo and Jim McGoldrick) When we set out to write the Royal Highlander series (Highland Crown, Highland Jewel, Highland Sword), our goal was to weave the lives of three extraordinary women into the fabric of a revolutionary, but largely forgotten series of historical events called the Radical War of 1820. From that mindset, the characters of Isabella, a university-trained physician; Maisie, an early activist for suffrage; and Morrigan, a militant revolutionary, formed in our imagination. Our research directed us to real historical figures of the Georgian and Regency Era who served as models for our heroines. Women like Dorothea Erxleben, physician; Mary Fildes, political activist and an early suffragette; ‘William’ Brown (birth name unknown), an African woman serving in the Royal Navy); and María Antonia Santos Plata, a rebel guerrilla leader in South America. Since Highland Crown deals with a neglected chapter in Scotland’s struggle against the English Crown, we thought we’d cast a little light on five real-life kick-ass heroines from the past. These are rebellious and radical women who would never be talked about, if some people had their way.   Abigail Adams (1744-1818). Her husband might have been the second president of the United States,…

Danielle Dresser | Cinematic in Scope: Why the Rom-Com is Making a Comeback
Author Guest / May 13, 2019

At the KissCon Weekend Affaire last month, there was an entire panel devoted to romantic comedies, or rom-coms, delightfully called “To All the Books I’ve Loved Before,” a nod to the very successful Netflix movie based on the YA novel To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Tessa Bailey, Alyssa Cole, Tracey Livesay, Mia Sosa, and Sally Thorne all sat and chatted about their favorite romantic comedies – both books and movies – and what made them so special. From When Harry Met Sally to Boomerang to Bridget Jones’ Diary, these contemporary romance authors told us what makes rom-coms so enjoyable, as well as what they are looking for in new rom-coms. Rom-coms have the perfect balance of comedy, drama, and of course, a loveable love story. If the lead characters start out hating each other or know from the time they’re in preschool it’s meant to be, rom-coms have a way of making us all smile. Some of my all-time favorite books are romantic comedies, and this spring and summer we are lucky to have a bounty of rom-coms hitting bookshelves, all that I think feel like the blueprints for movies or TV adaptations! Rebekah Weatherspoon – Rafe (October…