Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Chandler Baker | Exclusive Excerpt: OH. WHAT. FUN.
Author Guest / December 2, 2021

Everyone is home for the holidays, clamoring for all the Christmas cheer only their mother can whip up. They can already smell the chestnuts roasting—or is that Mom’s hair on fire? From New York Times bestselling author Chandler Baker comes the hilarious short story, Oh. What. Fun.  *** Gift wrapping is a disappearing art, like cursive. At one point, Mom tried to teach us how to cut the paper just so, to make sharp corners and tie ribbons that didn’t resemble dead things, but we can admit that it’s not where our particular talents lie, and when Mom had to give up on us, we accepted her decision with grace and dignity. There’s an ongoing debate between Channing and Doug about whether Santa presents for the twins should be wrapped. Doug contends that Santa doesn’t wrap gifts and instead pulls them from his bag naked and just sticks them by the fireplace like a goddamn heathen. Obviously the Clausters know better. Santa doesn’t need to wrap presents. That’s what the elves are for. Santa gifts come with a unique wrapping paper not sold locally, which is how everyone knows they truly do originate in the North Pole. This year, Mom…

Suzanne Redfearn | Exclusive Excerpt: THE MARRIAGE TEST
Author Guest / December 2, 2021

From Suzanne Redfearn, the bestselling author of In an Instant, comes a heartfelt short story about one couple’s journey to discover if there really is a secret ingredient to happily ever after before their upcoming holiday wedding in The Marriage Test. — I hurry toward him, my hair damp from my shower and the taste of seawater still on my lips. “Sorry,” I say as I throw my arms around his neck and lift up on my toes to kiss him, his lips always surprisingly soft for a man so tall and strong. “Mmmm,” he mumbles. “Salty.” “And spicy and sweet,” I say, dropping down to cradle his face in my hands and look him over, a habit inherited from my grandmother, who likes to check that those she hasn’t seen for a while are well. For Justin and me, it’s been two weeks since I returned from his home in New York City. He is freshly shaved, his bronze eyes bright, his black hair recently cut. I catch the scent of his aftershave and notice his shirt is new and freshly pressed. Thick emotion wells in my throat, as it does every time I see him after we’ve been…

J. Courtney Sullivan | Exclusive Excerpt: MODEL HOME
Author Guest / December 1, 2021

Today and tomorrow we are sharing exclusive excerpts from a wonderful bunch of authors with new short stories available for the holidays season. Up next: J. Courtney Sullivan!  *** Not happy? No problem. Fake it. From New York Times bestselling author J. Courtney Sullivan comes the sharp-witted short story, Model Home, about the reality of reality TV. When I was growing up, my family lived in a little house on a busy street in Joliet, across from a gas station and next door to a strip mall. It was like an entire neighborhood had once been there and was demolished but for that one ugly split-level ranch. Maybe that is what happened, I don’t know. We had one tiny bathroom for five people. A galley kitchen with fluorescent lights. Everything was always a mess. Forget a mudroom, we didn’t even have a coat closet. Everyone just walked in the door and tossed their coats onto the arm of the plastic-wrapped sofa. My parents didn’t care about having, nor could they afford, anything nice. They patched broken windows with black garbage bags. When the roof leaked, they’d just put a pot on the carpet to catch the drips, and the pot…

Rainbow Rowell | Exclusive Excerpt: IF THE FATES ALLOW
Author Guest / December 1, 2021

Jump Into the Holidays with Exclusive Excerpts from Festive Reads by Bestselling Authors Rainbow Rowell, Suzanne Redfearn, J. Courtney Sullivan, and Chandler Baker on FRESH FICTION! What happens when a group of bestselling authors are asked to write holiday tales? Pure magic. Unwrap short reads by your favorite writers by visiting www.amazon.com/holidaystories. Then download Rainbow Rowell’s take on an awkward meetup after the pandemic has made one couple’s social skills rather rusty. Scroll on as Suzanne Redfearn’s heroine gives her husband-to-be a mid-winter quest that will (hopefully) ensure their happy-ever-after. Don’t miss J. Courtney Sullivan’s fame-hungry reality TV star’s attempts to create an early holiday miracle for a struggling couple. And finally, laugh-out-loud at Chandler Baker’s fictional Clauster family as their Christmas celebration goes up in flames. Get a taste of these unique holiday tales with exclusive excerpts from each today and tomorrow on the FF blog! First up, Rainbow Rowell… *** After a long, lonely year, two people stumble toward each other in If the Fates Allow a holiday short story by Rainbow Rowell the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor & Park and Fangirl. Grandpa sat at the head of the table, and Reagan sat next…

Alanna Martin | Author-Reader Match: LOVE AND LET BARK
Author Guest / November 30, 2021

Instead of trying to find your perfect match in a dating app, we bring you the “Author-Reader Match” where we introduce you to authors you may fall in love with. It’s our great pleasure to present Alanna Martin! Writes: I write contemporary romance with lots of family drama, humor, and heart. My heroines are smart and successful, and my heroes prove that nothing is sexier than kindness. It’s always my hope that my stories be reminders that love can win in the end, no matter the obstacles. For the characters in LOVE AND LET BARK, love is also about finding the strength to be the person you want to be. About: As a city girl transplanted to a small town, I’m always up for breaking big city and small town stereotypes. I love being outdoors, having coffee with friends, and dreaming big—all traits that have a tendency to show up in my characters. If I’m not writing, I’m probably lost in the mountains. What I’m looking for in my ideal reader match: -someone who loves a soft-spoken, big-hearted firefighter -who relates to a practical-minded, protective heroine -must love puppies -has a thing for found families -is tired of billionaires getting everything they want -is ready for…

Caitlin McKenna | Books and Movies to Get You in the Holiday Spirit
Author Guest / November 30, 2021

It’s that time of year when a warm inviting fire beckons us to curl up on the couch with a great romance novel and some hot cocoa. Perhaps this is why I couldn’t resist setting my latest romantic comedy at Christmastime. COLORADO CHRISTMAS MAGIC brings two high school sweethearts together to debunk a small mountain town’s famous Scrooge Legend. The more these skeptics attempt to prove that Christmas magic doesn’t exist, the more the magic begins to work between the two of them, and they soon experience love, laughter, and holiday cheer, which is what Christmas is all about. Is it me, or has life become so busy that it’s become more difficult to enjoy the holidays? When you’re answering work emails at midnight two weeks before Christmas, here’s a listicle of my favorite Christmas movies and books that will help to put you in the Christmas spirit. # 5 The Night Before Christmas by. This children’s book, for all ages, sparked my love for writing and Christmas. During the holiday season, my mom used to read this story to my sister and me before we dozed off to sleep. The detailed description of St. Nick and his reindeer is timeless,…

Babette de Jongh | A Professional Animal Communicator Who Writes Romance Novels
Author Guest / November 30, 2021

How does a professional animal communicator end up writing romance novels? It’s a fair question, because the two interests—animal communication and romance writing—don’t seem at all related. In fact, many well-meaning people have advised me to choose one and let the other go. Their point: It’s hard enough to succeed at anything when you’re laser-focused and giving it everything you’ve got. It was entirely possible that such a divided focus would doom both ventures to failure. But I’ve always believed that my passions would provide a roadmap to the next right place. So, as I honed my skills of animal communication, I honed my writing skills too. While I built my business as an animal communicator, I wrote a how-to book about animal communication, and several novels (some that are still under the bed, taunting me like Edgar Allan Poe’s telltale heart under the floorboards). But my romance writing and animal communication skills all came together one day at a romance writer’s conference, when a writer who knew my work said, “You should pitch something to Deb Werksman at Sourcebooks. She’d love your writing.” My truth-meter went off in a big way.  I knew without a doubt that some channel…

Julie Ann Walker | Exclusive Excerpt: SHOT ACROSS THE BOW
Author Guest / November 29, 2021

“I love you.” He wasn’t sure who was more surprised by his outburst, him or her. Her. Definitely her, he decided a second later when her face blanched and the pulse beating in her throat went thready. Fuck. So much for living up to your nickname. Romeo was romantic. That was just…clumsy. “Breathe, Mia,” he instructed quietly and watched her suck in a ragged breath. He opened his mouth to add, he wasn’t sure what, but she beat him to the punch. “I love you too.” He blinked, not quite believing his ears. His heart believed them. And it couldn’t decide whether it wanted to burst with joy or fly out of his mouth on wings of happiness. Maybe both. Fly out of his mouth and then explode like a confetti cannon, leaving little paper hearts raining down around them. He had to make sure the pain meds weren’t making him hallucinate. “You do?” he asked cautiously. “Of course I do. You’re the most amazing man I’ve ever met. The most amazing person I’ve ever met.” She shrugged. “How could I not love you?” With every word out of her mouth, his elation grew. In fact, it was so big…

Kris Ripper | Exclusive Excerpt: THE LIFE REVAMP
Author Guest / November 23, 2021

It didn’t take long to finish the details and open the account. I let [Diego] know how to set up the online portal and gave him the usual rundown on our services. Blah blah blah, don’t hesitate to contact me, you might find X, Y, Z interesting, here’s a big packet of things you won’t read. I set his own folder on top and settled it on the desk in front of him. “That’s it? That was…relatively painless.” I couldn’t help allowing the hint of a smirk into my expression. “Did you think it would be painful?” “Not exactly. But when you put something off for years before doing it, I think it tends to collect an…air of morbid dread around it. When it’s then accomplished in thirty minutes sitting across from, uh, you, I guess it seems a little silly to have worried about it for so long. Of course until recently I wouldn’t have had a you to take the edge off.” “I’m…glad I could help. In all the ways.” Which felt true. All the ways. The account. The alleviation of dread. The…mutual appreciation. He patted down his pockets, pulling out a crumpled receipt, keys tangled with a…

Coreene Callahan | My Writing Routine + Giveaway!
Author Guest / November 23, 2021

I’m often asked about my writing routine. How I write. When I write. Where the ideas come from and how I get each one onto the page. For me, ideas have never been a problem. I have too many most of the time. The trick is deciding which ones I connect with most. My characters help me with that when they show up and start talking. The loudest, most determined one always gets the most airtime inside my head, invading my creative bubble so insistently I can no longer ignore them. Sometimes, it makes for a chaotic start to my day! One thing for sure, though, remains consistent about my writing routine. I’m a morning person, pure and simple. So when I tell people I get up at 5 AM, seven days a week, to write, I am invariably treated to incredulous looks and even a few “Are you crazy?” comments. Maybe I am. Then again, maybe I’m just the right amount. My imagination is alive early in the day. From the moment I open my eyes, the story I’m writing comes to life inside my mind and characters take shape and form. There’s just something about a quiet house…