Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Sonali Dev | Exclusive Excerpt: THE WEDDING SETUP
Author Guest / January 11, 2022

The corridor that led to the cellar came alive with memories as she crossed it. The door was propped open. Emmitt must’ve forgotten to shut it when he left. Careful to leave it open, she stepped into the chill of the limestone floored room. The scent of cork and wine hung in the air. Stocked wooden racks and steel and glass coolers lined the walls. At the center of the room, under an abalone chandelier, stood a tasting table. Her eyes landed on the lacquered mahogany surface, knots and nicks marking the single piece of wood. The height had been just right for— “Ayesha?” She stumbled back, hand pushing against the door as she caught her balance. The click of the lock filled the silence that followed the sound of her name in his voice. No, no, no! She spun around and rattled the handle. It didn’t budge. He came up behind her, their hands meeting on the cool metal, the impact making her so lightheaded she pressed her head into the door. His hand trembled over hers, his body looming beside her, his presence wrapping around her. They were locked inside. She pulled away. From the door, from him,…

Melinda Leigh | Exclusive Excerpt: HER SECOND DEATH
Author Guest / December 6, 2021

Bree’s gaze snapped around the room and fell on some framed snapshots on a side table. Most of the photos focused on a little blonde girl. Bree’s heart kicked against her ribs. She’d known homicide would be challenging. Instead of the occasional dead body, death would be her focus on a daily basis. She’d come to terms with her new reality, but kids . . . For most cops, it was the child victims who broke them. “Lena is your daughter?” Romano asked. “Yeah.” Kelly jumped to her feet, her eyes wild. “You gotta find her.” Bree studied the photos.“How old is she?” “Five.” Kelly covered her mouth with one hand. She wrapped the other around her own waist. “Is there anyone James could have left Lena with?” Romano’s voice remained calm, but the tone had shifted. There was a layer of urgency under the quiet words. “Maybe his father. That’s who he lives with.” Kelly shoved a hand through her limp hair. She pulled out a phone and jabbed the screen. She turned on the speakerphone and held the cell in front of her mouth. A man answered in an angry voice. “Why are you calling me?” Kelly ignored…

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 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…

Charlie N. Holmberg | Exclusive Excerpt: STAR MOTHER
Author Guest / October 27, 2021

Night swallowed the wood whole and completely. As I chewed my bread, I lay back on the blanket, looking for my star. I watched the sky for nearly an hour before she popped up over the tops of the trees. I smiled. The blanket shifted as the dog-sized horse stepped onto it. I glanced over, shocked to see a very solid animal beside me. His coat glimmered like the sky above, shimmering violet where the firelight touched fur. “You’re solid,” I murmured. I had an impulse to touch him, to test my words, but decided better of it. Ristriel seemed a mellow-minded being, but I didn’t want to test his temper. He smiled ever so faintly—at least, as much as a horse could. “Not for long. Not if we stay in this glade.” I sat up. “Why? Is it . . . enchanted?” The horse gave me a wry look. “No. Only open to the sky.” He tilted his muzzle upward. I tried to see what he saw, but there was nothing special in the heavens tonight except for my star, who twinkled merrily among her siblings. I wondered if she’d seen my tapestry. The first-quarter moon peeked over the tops of…

Lindsay Marcott | Author-Reader Match: MRS. ROCHESTER’S GHOST
Author Guest / August 6, 2021

Instead of trying to find your perfect match in a dating app, we bring you the “Reader Match” where we introduce you to authors as a reader you may fall in love with. It’s our great pleasure to present Lindsay Marcott! Writes:  Modern Gothic suspense books. My latest novel, Mrs. Rochester’s Ghost, has just hit the stands. About: My first success as a writer was my sixth grade Thanksgiving play about a plucky Pilgrim girl and her wise-cracking pet turkey. After graduating from Smith and stints as a cat sitter, rock star assistant, and waitress in a TriBeCa grunge club, I began writing for magazines, then took a detour to Hollywood to write a few screenplays. I finally found my passion in writing novels: with Mrs. Rochester’s Ghost, eleven so far, and a new one in the works. What I’m looking for in my ideal reader match: •  You love getting goosebumps when things get spooky. •  Your mouth waters at the promise of a juicy story with twists that leave you gasping. •  You can imagine having your head turned by a brilliant but mysterious man. •  You see beauty in a misted redwood forest and excitement in the crashing of surf….

Jennifer Vido | Jen’s Jewels Interview: THE SEVEN DAY SWITCH BY KELLY HARMS
Author Guest / May 28, 2021

Jen: What inspired you to write THE SEVEN DAY SWITCH? Kelly: My contemporaneous parenting friends and I all have different varieties of lifestyles, with some of us working full time out of the home, many working from home, and a few working as stay-at-home mothers. I noticed that though we all had a lot in common, the grass always seemed a bit greener in someone else’s backyard. I had to explore this and the body swap genre was the exact right way for me to find my way into the story. How does Celeste Mason view motherhood? Celeste takes it as something natural she was born to do, and as something no one else could possibly do as well as she does. So, she brings a lot of confidence to the party that I personally have never felt, but with her daughter poised on the brink of teendom, we can be sure some of that confidence is about to be challenged. What is Wendy Charles’ take on being a working mom? Wendy is that frantic side of us who is going to do it all and be the best no matter what, even if she never sleeps again. She’s been…

Jennifer Vido | Jen’s Jewels Interview: THE TRUTH AND OTHER HIDDEN THINGS by LEA GELLER
Author Guest / March 26, 2021

Jen: What inspired you to write The Truth and Other Hidden Things? Lea: Often my writing process happens by a combination of two story ideas or characters – and in this case, I had envisioned a woman in her 40’s with an accidental pregnancy (which I will admit is something of a fever dream for me) and also the idea of someone who is desperate to be noticed but who writes under the cover of anonymity. Once I had established who Bells Walker was, the plot grew from there. As it turns out, in the past year so many people have been moving from New York City to the Hudson Valley, and it’s been great fun to read real-life accounts of some of the thing Bells noticed about her new home – the tattooed, kombucha drinking hipsters and their love for reclaimed wood and mason jars!   Bells’s life takes a sudden turn when her husband moves the family from Manhattan to the Hudson Valley. How does she handle the big change? Not well! Bells, already socially anxious, uses her move and her pregnancy as an excuse to hole up and stay home. She’s convinced that any person she meets…