Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Sara Richardson | 20 Questions: HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Author Guest / September 18, 2020

1–What’s the name of your latest release?  Home for the Holidays 2–What is it about?  Three sisters who have grown apart travel back to Juniper Springs, Colorado to spend Christmas with their beloved Aunt Sassy–who has been estranged from the family for years. Spending time together at the Juniper Springs Inn brings the memories of their childhood back to life, and the sisters reclaim the bond that once held them together. As they navigate the different life transitions they’re facing, including romances, heartbreaks, and dreams for their futures, the sisters end up discovering what it is they really want this Christmas.   3–What word best describes your main character(s)?  Each sister definitely needs her own word! Dahlia: Organized Magnolia: Independent Rose: Creative 4–What makes your story relatable?  It’s definitely the characters who make the story relatable. Dally, Mags, and Rose are all facing different heartaches in their lives and for a long time they’ve carried those burdens alone, trying to be seen as strong, independent women. But, in coming together, they realize how much they need each other and how much stronger they are together.   5–Who are the people your main characters turn to when they need help?  A…

Danielle Dresser | Books and Reading as Self-Care
Author Guest / September 18, 2020

As we reach the six-month mark of the worldwide pandemic, a lot has been written on the necessity of practicing self-care, being kind to one’s self and each other, and finding new ways to make this situation somewhat tolerable. In my house, we’ve been tackling remote work, remote learning (dear readers, a teacher I am NOT), deciding when and with whom to expand our bubble, and trying to figure out what the heck to have for dinner every night. . . So when I think of how I practice self-care, I do think about my skincare routine and dream of the day when it will be truly safe for me to go get a pedicure, but I also think about BOOKS and READING. Books have always been my ever constant companion–I won’t go anywhere without something to read. Taking some time out of the day to read and enjoy what I’m reading has been integral to making it through this stressful time. COMFORT READS I’ve definitely gravitated toward old favorites–I’m looking at you, Reluctant Royals series by Alyssa Cole, Born In series by Nora Roberts, and volumes 1-9 of Saga by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples–but I also have a…

Glen Zipper & Elaine Mongeon | Exclusive Excerpt: DEVASTATION CLASS
Author Guest / September 17, 2020

Tell us a little about your latest project, the upcoming YA science fiction novel, DEVASTATION CLASS.  EM: The book is set in the distant future, with seven military cadets and seventy civilian students aboard a starship on a mission of science and learning. When most of the adults are off-ship, the ship is attacked by the Kastazi, a vicious enemy alien race thought vanquished. Our protagonists–best friends and cadets JD and Viv–are forced to make an impossible choice that will change their lives forever: obey their superiors and die, or mutiny to save the ship and the lives of everyone aboard. But that’s just the beginning. What at first looks like an obvious re-invasion by a former enemy turns out to be something much darker and shocking, and a mystery eons in the making will have to be unraveled for them to have any hope of surviving. GZ: Devastation Class is a multi-POV story, so we get to spend time in the heads of more than one character. Viv and JD are trying to succeed under the weight and long shadows of their war hero parents. There’s Nicholas, a cypher whose intentions and motivations are shrouded in mystery, and who…

Cecilia Dominic | How to write and deal with feelings about the pandemic without writing or reading about the pandemic…
Author Guest / September 17, 2020

Starting in about April or May, one of the big questions in writers groups was, “How do we write about the pandemic?” or, “Should we write about the pandemic?” This was mostly posed in the romance writers’ groups, where people were wondering how sexy it would be to portray mask play, and is it too soon? You know somebody has decided it’s not, and hilarious complications will ensue due to ear strap tighteners. From the start of all this, I like many other authors felt the compulsion to address my own feelings about quarantine, social distancing, and the limitations we embrace to protect ourselves and others. For me, these emotions are magnified because as a mental health professional, I’m attempting to help others through them and the grief of losing jobs, regularity, and, most tragically, family members while dealing with my own struggles. I can’t imagine how tough it must be for our frontline medical workers, some of whom I’m lucky to count as friends. In fact, the first Fae Files book is dedicated to them. When I wrote that inscription back in March, I, like many of us, thought that this pandemic situation would be over by now. Surely…

Stacy Reid | Exclusive Excerpt: WHEN THE EARL MET HIS MATCH
Author Guest / September 16, 2020

He suspected it was this that his father worried about, that one day he might want this love that had the power to ruin him. Rubbish. What sort of fool would he be to allow an intangible idea to inflict havoc with his life? “Love has a way of creeping upon you when it is least expected,” the old earl said with a probing stare. “You must be on your guard at all times.” “Truly? Based on your ramblings, I believe it can strike with the ferocity of lightning and thunder, and I’ve wondered why you’ve bothered to caution me against something that will come at me without warning,” he rejoined. His father scowled. It was difficult to explain to the man before him that he did not hunger for any particular connection. He wasn’t seeking love. Nor was he running from it. He was just not. . . interested. “I’ve far more important things to occupy my mind than an attachment with a lady…even the one I intend to marry.” Such as your impending death and the dark hole it will leave. And situating my family for a life of happiness and prosperity. His father appeared contemplative for a…

Julia Justiss | History ReFreshed: Amazing Women for Unusual Times
Author Guest / September 16, 2020

History is replete with examples of women who, despite the restricted roles their society intended them to occupy, manage to break out and become extraordinary.  With all of us now living in such unprecedented times, it seems fitting to immerse ourselves in the stories of women who managed to excel despite their societies and circumstances. We begin in England and earliest chronologically with MARGARET THE FIRST by Danielle Dutton, based on the life of seventeenth-century duchess Margaret Cavendish.  Daughter of a Royalist family and one of the queen’s attendants, Margaret was exiled with the royal household after the overthrow of Charles I.  She meets the worldly and much older William Cavendish, who becomes fascinated by this shy but unconventional woman who writes poetry and philosophy.  William becomes her husband and life-long advocate who champions her writing and encourages her unusual pursuits.  With the return of the monarchy under Charles II, she and her husband are established at the heart of the Restoration court, where she earns fame as “Mad Madge,” a newspaper celebrity both feted and mocked for her feminist writings, utopian plays, and the scientific work that made her the first woman invited to be part of the Royal…

Carmen Falcone | Writing and Reading in Corona Times
Author Guest / September 15, 2020

I have to say, I never thought I’d be writing about a pandemic. Right? For months now, we have been living a lifestyle far from ideal–from lockdown quarantine to regular quarantine, to let’s-expand-our-bubble quarantine. I’m a reality TV/trash TV junkie, so when this all started, I was glad to binge on train wrecks like Tiger King and Too Hot to Handle. Sadly, during quarantine, I didn’t acquire a new skill or hobby. Some habits, though, did change. For instance, I’ve always been an audiobook addict–mainly because I used to drive the kids to school and activities, and on my way home I’d always listen to my romance books. But then, with not having to drive anywhere, I could only listen to audiobooks and podcasts when I walked my dog. As much as I love walking my dog (and I have to otherwise he goes crazy), I’m also not training for a marathon. So, in short: I needed another way of reading. I love my Kindle and am used to buying eBooks versus paperbacks anytime. However, because of distance learning and the amount of my own writing I had to do, I couldn’t add more screen time. I didn’t want my…

Daisy Bateman | Top 5 Destination Mysteries For Your Armchair Travel Needs
Author Guest / September 14, 2020

Looking for an escape? Cozy Mystery author Daisy Bateman shares her Top 5 Destination mysteries so you can travel from the comfort from your own home… which we all need right now!  *** Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers Harriet Vane, Sayers’s mystery-writer love interest for her hero Lord Peter Whimsey, returns to visit her old college at Oxford, only to find that the place is being plagued by a prankster whose attacks are growing in seriousness. Called on to help, she reaches out to Lord Peter, and together they unravel who is out to bring down the tight-knit community of female scholars. Less a mystery than a thinly-veiled contemplation of the author’s own artistic life and choices, there is plenty of time for exploration of the “city of dreaming spires,” with its famous architecture, to say nothing of a classic scene of punting on the River Thames. Scot Free by Catriona McPherson Most people wouldn’t consider California’s Central Valley a vacation destination, especially in the height of summer, when temperatures can easily reach triple digits (but it’s a dry heat!). One of them is Lexy Campbell, recently transplanted from Scotland to the fictional Valley town of Cuento and even more…

Debbie Wiley | Mysteries & Mental Health
Author Guest / September 14, 2020

For more of Debbie Wiley’s articles and Fresh Fiction reviews, you can visit here. *** Everyone knows I love cozy mysteries, but I also love mysteries and thrillers with a mental health component. After all, my life’s work is devoted to working with children and families grappling with social and emotional needs and mental health is a major aspect of that. COVID-19 brought to the forefront the desperate need for both more mental health services as well as improved accessibility and availability to services in the United States. Hopefully, this need won’t be ignored once “normal” resumes as COVID-19 merely exacerbated a need that already existed. One trend I’ve been thrilled to see in the book publishing industry is increased attention to mental health issues and I’d like to highlight just a few books recently that have included mental health as part of the storyline in some capacity. The Helping Hands series by Annelise Ryan is quickly becoming one of my favorites as it features a social worker as the heroine. In NIGHT SHIFT, it’s only Hildy Schneider’s second official night on her new grant-funded side job riding alongside the local police officers with her canine therapy dog, Roscoe when trouble strikes….

Jennifer Vido | Jen’s Jewels: DON’T LOOK FOR ME by Wendy Walker
Author Guest / September 11, 2020

Jennifer Vido: What inspired you to write Don’t Look for Me? Wendy Walker: The book began with a personal experience, which has never happened before! I was driving back from my son’s soccer game four hours from home. The game had been hard to watch – rough play, bad ref calls, jeering from the other team’s classmates that was cruel. I felt terrible for my son and realized, perhaps for the first time, that I could not protect my children from many of the uglier things in life. I was also in a difficult stage of my own life so this was coming on top of an already heavy emotional load. I was halfway home and had to stop for gas. Standing at the pump, unable to stop my spinning thoughts, I saw this long road flanked by cornfields. Out of nowhere, I had this flash of a thought to just leave everything and walk down that road. Of course, I didn’t do that and the thought left immediately. But the rest of the way home, I wondered where it had come from and if, perhaps, there was a bigger story there which other people might relate to. It turns…