Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Miranda Owen | Celebrate the Season with Festive Romance Reads!
Author Guest / December 21, 2018

A warm holiday welcome to Fresh Fiction Reviewer, Miranda Owen, who is here to discuss some of her favorite holiday-themed romances! If this post doesn’t get you in the holiday spirit, we don’t know what will. Without further ado… I love a fun holiday-themed romance. Admittedly, my favorite holiday-themed romances involve Halloween, but I enjoy Christmas ones too. Some of my favorite books by Carolyn Brown and Terry Spear are centered on Christmas and family. The Christmas romances I’ve read this year – by old favorites and new-to-me authors – have had dual themes of “family” and “Christmas” with delightful results. The one story featured here that’s not set during Christmas is a paranormal romance by Cynthia Eden that opens with a catastrophic blind date on New Year’s Eve, but that story also has a lot to do with family. In SOMEONE TO TRUST by Mary Balogh and THE CHRISTMAS KEY by Lori Wilde, the heroes are both drawn to women with big hearts and loving families. SOMEONE TO TRUST opens with an idyllic Christmas house party with the Westcott family and their assorted friends and relations. Colin Handrich, Lord Hodges can’t help but be charmed by these people because…

Julie Justiss | History ReFreshed: For Richer or Poorer
Author Guest , History / December 19, 2018

With Christmas nearly upon us, thoughts turn to gifts, gift-giving and what a “gift” truly means.  What could be a greater blessing than realizing the “American Dream,” proving that with hard work and determination, a person can come from anywhere with virtually nothing and achieve whatever success they desire?  The set of stories we’ll look at this month feature both “haves” struggling to fit into their world and “have-nots” determined to create for themselves a future better than their past. Moving chronologically, we begin with THE SATURDAY EVENING GIRLS CLUB: A NOVEL by Jane Healey.  The author follows the lives of four young immigrant women in Boston’s North End, who find friendship and hope for a better life amid pottery-making and conversation at the Saturday Evening Girls Club.  All must fight not just poverty and prejudice, but the traditional expectations of their conservative ethnic families. Enterprising Caprice longs to become an entrepreneur running her own hat shop; bookish Ada, to obtain a college education, stunning Maria to avoid becoming trapped, like her Italian Catholic mother, in marriage to an abusive alcoholic, while timid Theo yearns to escape the rigid requirements of her strict Jewish tradition.  The friendship and support forged…

Noelle Adams | Exclusive Excerpt from Stranded For Christmas
Author Guest / December 18, 2018

The Holiday Acres series is set during a snowstorm just before Christmas, when three of the Holiday sisters get stranded with the men they’ve not yet admitted feelings for. The series is fun and romantic, but it also explores how healing and reconciliation can happen over time, since the two families involved have been in a long-standing feud. The first book in the series, Stranded on the Beach, is set during the summer before Christmas and is about how Rebecca Holiday and Phil Matheson, who broke up years ago because of their families’ fighting, are able to come back to together. The second book, Stranded in the Snow, is about how Olivia Holiday and Scott Matheson act like they hate each other but finally admit they are in love. The third book, Stranded in the Woods, is about Penny Holiday and her old friend, Kent Matheson, who has been a recluse for years but finally comes out of hiding because of his love for Penny. And the final book, Stranded for Christmas, is about how stubborn, jaded Laura Holiday, the oldest of the sisters, finally admits that she’s in love with her business partner, Russ. I hope you enjoy this…

Robert Tate Miller | My Friend Kim
Author Guest / November 13, 2018

My new novel THE CHRISTMAS LAYOVER is about friendship among strangers. While the terms friendship and stranger seem more like antonyms than synonyms, that is (happily) not always the case. In my book, a small town opens its arms to an airliner full of strangers at Christmastime, and, in my own life, I’ve had similar experiences. On more than one occasion, those that didn’t know me from Adam reached out with the hand of friendship and drew me into their lives just when I most needed to feel included. One such occurrence happened long ago in a college town called Athens, Georgia. I’d like to share it with you.  I’d seen her around campus long before I pledged the Kappa Sigma fraternity the winter of my sophomore year. I’d admired her from afar—the epitome of the untouchable college beauty. I’d decided that if I were forced to choose one perfect girl, she would be the one. Even though our paths crossed several times a day, I felt as if she lived in some remote corner of a distant universe. I was sure she had no clue I existed. She was there the night, several weeks into my pledgeship, when I was invited…

Marnie Blue | Five Things You Can Do NOW to Avoid Christmas Craziness Later
Author Guest / November 2, 2018

(This article is dedicated to my sister-in-law, who for the past ten years single-handedly prepared the traditional Seven Fishes of Christmas Eve for her husband and his family, cleaned her house top to bottom, worked full-time and did all the Christmas shopping while being a super mom to her twins. This year, she is going out to eat. Buon Natale, Lisa!) Some people are just so organized. Bless their hearts! I found this out while I was trying to decide what to write about for Fresh Fiction. So many authors write about their books or writing—and that’s fine. But, I’m thinking—it’s close to the holidays! Who’s got time to think about books when there are meals to be prepared and houses to clean and most of all, guests coming to your home? Seriously. Even now, your family may be preparing to descend upon you and yours, like D-Day, only with in-laws and cousins.  The most wonderful time of the year? For who? Apparently, it can be that way for you. Do you know, not everyone is up until 2:00 am the night before Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? (I know! It’s shocking.) There are some things which can be…

Donna Kauffman | Celebrating the Holidays…in 100 Pages or Less
Author Guest / October 30, 2018

I’m a sucker for holiday stories. Movies, books, music…if it tells a story set around the holidays, I want to know more! Being a romance writer who celebrates hope and love with every book she writes, the happier the story the better. So I was thrilled when I was asked to write my first holiday novella back…oh, let’s just say a few years (okay, okay, fifteen years) ago. What could be more fun than getting to tell my very own holiday story? Well, it turns out that while it was a blast getting to dream up a fun little holiday adventure, writing a satisfying story when you only have one hundred pages to tell that holiday tale is a wee bit of a challenge! I’m used to having four times that many pages, and even then, there are always parts that I have to trim down or leave out altogether. How in the world was I going to pull this off?  Suddenly this Christmas present was starting to feel a bit more like a trick from the Grinch. With the help of a few brainstorming author pals and possibly munching my way through far more Christmas cookies than was wise…

Dylann Crush | Happy Holidays from Holiday, Texas!
Author Guest / October 30, 2018

Happy Holidays from Holiday, Texas! The little town of Holiday doesn’t need much of a reason to throw a party. With a name like Holiday, every day is a celebration! But when it comes to Christmas, like most of their fellow Texans, they tend to go all out. Folks living in the state of Texas definitely have their share of holiday traditions. From the lighted boat parade at the Harbor Lights Festival in Corpus Christi to the festive twenty-six-foot weihnachtspyramide in Fredericksburg, some towns go Christmas crazy! And we haven’t even talked about the food yet. If you celebrate Christmas in Texas you’ll be just as likely to eat tamales or brisket as you are to chow down on a deep-fried turkey. Small towns, in particular, are a special place to spend the holidays, especially in the Hill Country of Texas. There’s nothing like strolling down Main Street, cup of wassail in hand, peeking in all of the shop windows as you go. If you’d rather ride, you can head to Bandera and go Christmas caroling on horseback. In Lockhart, you can rub elbows with carolers in period costumes during their annual Dickens’ Christmas. And if you’re in Gruene, Texas,…

Katie Ruggle | Exclusive Excerpt: Rocky Mountain Cowboy Christmas
Author Guest / September 25, 2018

Rocky Mountain Cowboy Christmas; Book 1 in the Rocky Mountain Cowboys series Exclusive Excerpt Why did this keep happening to her? Camille flattened herself against the toilet paper display, resisting the urge to thump her head against the rolls. There was a reason she only came to the Borne Market early on Sunday mornings, and that was because she didn’t want to be forced into awkward conversations with any of her neighbors. It helped that sixteen-year-old Kacey Betts worked the checkout on Sunday, and her focus stayed glued on her cell phone the entire time. Camille could slip in, buy what she needed, and slip right back out without having to make polite chitchat with anyone. Today, however, she and Kacey weren’t alone. Steve-freaking-Springfield was there. The last time she’d seen him, he’d sweetly helped her escape her “rescue.” She still hadn’t forgiven Mrs. Lin for sending everyone and their brother on a search for her. The whole situation had been mortifying, and that was with Steve’s help. If he hadn’t been there, it could’ve been so much worse. Camille’s stomach churned and her cheeks flushed at the thought of all that attention—and the potential additional humiliation. Now, though, she was…

Kari Lynn Dell | Difficult Pasts Lead to a Happy Ever After: Ambitions, Dreams, and Overcoming Adversity
Author Guest / September 25, 2018

For about the first ten years of my writing career, I collected rejection slips like normal people collect photos from their family vacations, souvenirs of an extended stay in an alternate reality. Most of those nopes had a distinct theme: love your writing, love the rodeo action, but your characters are just too nice. Or as one editor told my agent, “She needs to rough them up.” I am embarrassed to say that I resisted for a very long time. I wanted my heroes and heroines to be smart and sensible, someone I’d like for a friend. I didn’t want to let them make dumb mistakes and bad decisions. But finally I realized that even smart people do dumb things. Life inflicts damage on pretty much everyone, and none of us is as together as we’d like the world to think. As Grace McKenna tells Hank Brookman in Mistletoe in Texas when he complains that his brother-in-law is too perfect, “Wyatt is as much of a mess as all the rest of us. He just looks better doing it.” But why are we so drawn to flawed characters? The easy answer is that the harder the battle, the more satisfying…

Deb Stover | Favorite Holiday Memories
Uncategorized / December 8, 2009

The holiday season triggers memories for all of us–some good, some not-so-good. If we’re lucky, the good memories far outnumber the bad. When asked to name my best holiday memory, I have a very quick response–December 24th, 1981 at 11:20 AM. That’s the day and time I gave birth to my birth daughter, Barbi. I had been in the hospital since the day after Thanksgiving, because I had a very “high risk” pregnancy. This was my third pregnancy, and my doctor called it “prime,” since the longest I had carried before was when I delivered twin girls at 26 weeks. Emily and Erin were born alive, but died within minutes. They were beautiful and perfect, but in 1980, too tiny and immature to live outside my womb. My second pregnancy ended in miscarriage at ten weeks. I had already spent two of those weeks in the hospital with clots in my legs and lungs. So this pregnancy in 1981 was, indeed, prime. Stay in the hospital from Thanksgiving until I delivered? Sure, no problem. So it was Christmastime. My husband, Dave, and I only wanted one gift, and she was growing bigger and stronger every day in my womb. Back…