Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Sharon Cullen | How Writing Led to a Healthier Me
Author Guest / March 29, 2019

It seems weird, I know, but being a writer has made me a healthier, fitter me. I started writing 18 years ago (That sounds like a long time even to me!). When I started writing I knew I needed to treat this as a career if I wanted to be successful. To treat it as a career I couldn’t allow excuses. I had to sit down and write every day and it had to become a PRIORITY. The plan worked. To this day I write every day (when I have a book due) and I treat it as a career because, well, by now it is a career. I have given up things like TV and reading for pleasure (while a book is due. When I don’t have a book due then bring on the TBR pile!). I have told my family no to doing so many things. I have put words before many other things. Over 18 years I have learned discipline. I have learned sacrifice. I have experienced the satisfaction and joy of a job well done. It’s all been worth it. About seven years ago I knew that I needed to get healthy. I needed to lose…

The Gods and Goddesses of ANALIESE RISING
Author Guest / January 7, 2019

Many gods and goddesses from the many mythologies around the world populate the pages of my newest release, Analiese Rising. I had a lot of fun researching and learning about them. Some I’ve heard of before, others I didn’t even know existed. The challenge was taking from their stories and creating a modern version of each—giving them unique personalities based on their legends. Today, I thought I’d introduce you to many of them from my book. I’ll start with Sid, aka Sidapa, and Bulan. Sidapa and Bulan are gods from Philippine mythology. Theirs is a love story between two male gods. Sidapa admired the seven moons’ beauty that he tried to romance them until one, Bulan, answered Sidapa’s attempts to romance the moons. He came down to Earth, and they lived together as lovers on Mt. Madjaas. This story intrigued me so much that I had to add the gods to Analiese Rising. In my story, Sid loves to wear makeup and seems like a player, but when the moon calls, he’s off to spend time with Bulan who only comes to earth on a full moon. Lugh, a Celtic sun god of many skills. He’s a trickster god and…

Natasha Moore | Love Can Happen at Any Age
Author Guest / November 21, 2018

Falling in love is not limited to twenty-somethings. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy reading about young love. I was there once. It can be passionate, heart-wrenching, and exhilarating. But emotions don’t dry up when a character reaches the age of thirty or thirty-five. People over that age are still vibrant and passionate—in real life, and on the page. Mature characters in romances might have lost a partner through death or divorce, or they may have never found the right person or the right time for a relationship. Usually, they are comfortable with themselves and the lives they’ve built so they may not be all that eager to throw another person into the mix, no matter how wildly attracted they are to them. I enjoy writing what some call seasoned romance, romances with characters no longer in their twenties. But traditionally, the romance industry has favored young romances, and the word going around was that readers didn’t want to read love stories with characters who weren’t in the bloom of youth. Things are changing slowly, but I’ve discovered that there is a growing readership who are looking for romances with older characters. Older characters have more life experiences to bring…

Julie Particka | Comedic Influences
Author Guest / November 16, 2018

I have to admit, I am always alternately excited and confused when my publisher decides one of my books falls under the romantic comedy heading. Excited because rom-coms are my favorite type of romance. Confused because I don’t really set out to write comedy. Why? Because comedy is hard. It’s not that I don’t think I’m funny. I mean, if I can still make my teenagers laugh, but not laugh at me, I must be doing something right in the live comedy department. But in my experience, written comedy is a whole other ball game. And kind of like a five-year-old who is trying to learn to tell jokes, when I try to write comedy, it comes off stilted and…not funny. So rather than try to write comedy, I aim to write people the way people around me actually talk. Yet, I tend to fall back on two of my comedic influences when writing anyway. The first (love him, hate him, or try to ignore the bad stuff about him) is Joss Whedon. I’m going to take a stab in the dark that, like me, he doesn’t really consider himself a comedy writer. However, most of his work has strong…

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…

Julie Hammerle | 40 is the new 16
Author Guest / November 12, 2018

Before KNOCKED-UP CINDERELLA, I published four YA novels, three of them rom-coms. I’d always seen myself as a young adult writer, because I’d always idealized teen romance, with the heady, all-encompassing first loves and epic mistakes. Teenagers are blessed with time–time to obsess over minutiae, whether that means longing looks from a hot guy in calc class, perceived slights from a best friend, or every lyric from their favorite band’s new album. For most of my twenties and thirties, I continued to romanticize teen love, probably because, for me personally, those decades were not about looking for romance and dating, but marriage and parenthood. And most of my circle of friends were in the same place. But now that I’m approaching forty (in a little over a month *cough*), I’ve started to focus more on mature romances. I have friends who’ve found love after thirty-five–after they’ve settled into careers and their single lifestyles. They’re learning how to let a new person–with their own careers and baggage–into their already established existences. I know people who have divorced and found themselves single for the first time in two decades. They have to figure out the dating game in a whole new millennium….

Jennifer Trethewey | Tall Scots and Big Horses
Author Guest / October 26, 2018

Horses. I love them. The bigger the better. Horses are featured prominently in my Highlanders of Balforss series. They frequently reflect and compliment the character of their owners and they are used symbolically to represent physical strength, power, loyalty, friendship, and love. In TYING THE SCOT, Alex’s horse, Goliath, is described as “the tallest thoroughbred anyone had ever seen. Seventeen hands high and a deep chestnut brown. Just seeing the spirited warmblood made Alex’s heart rate slow.” It is Goliath’s speed and endurance that help Alex save Lucy’s life. In BETTING THE SCOT, Declan’s horse, Gullfaxi is described as a “muscular dark gray gelding with a white main and tail.” Declan is influenced by his Viking heritage and holds great stock in Norse mythology. When Caya asks Declan why he named his horse Gullfaxi, he says, “Gullfaxi is the horse the Norse god, Thor, gave to his son. I ken the name means something like one with the golden mane.” In my latest novel, FORGETTING THE SCOT, horses play an even bigger role. Magnus’s horse Finbar has a personality of his own. Like Magnus, he is giant. Finbar is a Brabant, a Belgian breed of draft horse that would have…

Vanessa Riley | The Desire to Be Perfect
Author Guest / October 24, 2018

I read a tweet this week that went something like this: “Meghan and Harry have met, fallen in love, married, and are now having a baby in under three years, and I haven’t put up the fallen towel rack in my bathroom.” Life is hard and comparing our self to others is a difficult exercise, often ending in futility. In The Butterfly Bride, I was able to explore the quest of trying to be perfect in the most unlikely vessels, Frederica Burghley. Frederica is the illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Simone. In the Regency, this was a scandalous pedigree but depending on how the duke acknowledges his daughter, she would not necessarily be rejected. But Frederica’s situation is worst. She is the love child of the duke and his courtesan, a black woman he setup as his exclusive mistress. Alas, 1820 was not 2018. In that year of our Lord, you can imagine the rejections, Frederica faces as she struggles for acceptance. Classism, racism, sexism, and ignorance are slights she endures. She does so not with grievances but from the perspective of being one of the lucky ones. For now, she’s escaped following in her mother’s footsteps of becoming a…

Naima Simone | How a Pastor’s Daughter Writes Romance
Author Guest / October 17, 2018

Confession. I’m a PK. For those of you unfamiliar with the acronym, I’m a Pastor’s Kid. A pastor’s granddaughter, too. So, in the church world, that’s like a double-dog whammy of either hell raiser or goody-two-shoes. Because in the eyes of most people, PKs fall into two groups: sinner or saint. There’s no in-between. And by “in-between” I mean, normal. Growing up as the granddaughter and daughter of pastors was…interesting. For the most part, my twin sister and I fell into the goody-two-shoes camp. And more so because my mother could shoot a “If You Cut Up Even the Lawd Won’t Be Quick Enough to Save You” look from the choir stand to the back of the church in zero-point-two seconds. I could read my death in her eyes from that distance, and yeah, it kept me in line. But when my sister and I did have moments—and we did—it seemed as if people were just waiting with the, “Aha! I knew they were bad seeds!” Man. If those people could see me now. A good number of romance authors, who are also Christians, wrestle with how their religious beliefs square with what they write. Myself included. Yet, the one…

Christopher Krovatin | Five Questions to Ask Yourself While Writing Paranormal Fiction
Author Guest / October 11, 2018

Writing my latest novel, FREQUENCY, was a blast. The book is a YA retelling of the Pied Piper fairy tale that’s steeped in music—hard rock and EDM, primarily—so it gave me a chance to get weird and imaginative with how different forms of music affect different people in a supernatural way (plus, any chance to reference Motörhead in a novel is a gift from the universe). But one obstacle I kept encountering is that paranormal stuff allows for laziness. How does the hero escape the clutches of the villain? Magic! How does the villain know about the well-laid scheme against them? Werewolf! You get the idea. All these tricks are easy and played out, and as a reader, I hate books where paranormal elements were conveniently placed because the author obviously wanted to knock off early for lunch. So if you’re writing paranormal literature, here are a few questions to ask yourself to keep your writing challenging, entertaining, and grounded in just enough in reality to create real conflict. 1. “What if there was no magic?” The most important question. Back when I was brainstorming worlds for a sci-fi publishing imprint, I had a colleague who asked this all the…