Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
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…

Pintip Dunn | The Top 10 reasons Why You’ll Love Star-Crossed
Author Guest , Top 5 / October 4, 2018

10. The world. The planet Dion is absolutely breathtaking! Although my characters are confined to a small piece of land protected by energy shields (the result of a terraforming experiment gone wrong), the outside planet is characterized by brilliantly colored streams of water. As Vela says, “If a nebula broke off and fell into the water, this is what it would look like.” In addition, when the rain falls on the energy shields, the water explodes into different colors depending on the weight of the drop. 9. The food. Land is scarce, so there’s not enough food to feed the colony. Enter the Aegis, who have accepted a genetic modification so that they may convert food into energy more efficiently. The nutrition is then extracted from them via a pill and distributed to the rest of the people. However, when eating becomes your duty, and you must imbibe food all day long, it is no longer pleasurable. Thus, the food preppers’ task is to produce the must luscious, mouth-watering spreads possible, in order to entice the Aegis into taking one more bite.  8. The sacrifice. An Aegis may get to experience the taste of real food, and they have the…

Shana Gray | Meet Me in San Francisco
Author Guest / September 28, 2018

Have you been to San Francisco? What about Napa Valley, or Muir Woods? If you haven’t, then I encourage you to pick up a copy of MEET ME IN SAN FRANCISCO. It’s the second book in my Girls Weekend Away. The first book came out in July WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS, THE NASHVILLE BET comes out in December and we have to wait until Valentine’s Day next year for A MATCH MADE IN MONACO. If you haven’t read the first book, don’t worry, because each book was written as a standalone with interconnecting characters. So you can read them in any order, although I would recommend reading the last book last. I went to San Francisco in 1998, with my mom. And I must say I think I left my heart there. I fell in love with San Francisco, or the City as they call it, and never San Fran I was told. Mom and I did some wonderful sightseeing, including Muir Woods. I loved it so much I simply had to put it in the book. I hope I captured the essence of the place. Even if it was only a little bit of what it was like to walk…

Tricia Tyler | Using the Setting as a Character
Author Guest / September 20, 2018

How many of you have thought of setting as a character?   As readers, don’t we all love to be taken away and sucked into the world we are reading about?   A great example of getting sucked into the world you are reading about is Julie Ann Walker’s Black Knights Inc. series. While I have never been to Chicago or been immersed in the biker culture, I could vividly picture it. She deftly draws you into the world until you can not only see it, you can hear and smell it as well. It’s like you’re in Chicago. Of course, I’d heard about settings being their own character, but it never really sank in until I was writing Dark Water. Not only did the lush beauty surrounding the Louisiana bayou firmly claim its place in the story, but New Orleans tagged in and brought its own personality to the page.   My ideas come to me randomly and in a different way every time I begin a new story. It can be plot, character… Etc. Well, you get the idea. With Dark Water it was my heroine, Evangeline’s Cajun grandmother, Maw Maw, who came to me first, and the…