Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Debbie Wiley | Blackbird Singing in the Dead of Night…
Author Guest / May 21, 2020

by senior reviewer Debbie Wiley Four and twenty blackbirds, baked in a pie. When the pie was opened, the birds began to sing- wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the king?  I have a love/hate relationship with birds that started with Mother Goose and the Song of Sixpence nursery rhyme. Sure, there are birds I dearly love, like the graceful Sandhill cranes and the majestic owls, but it is the mystery of those blackbirds that has left me with a healthy dose of fear for birds. I know I’m not alone as look at Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, or Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (shudders). Several authors recently have challenged me to rethink how I feel about some of these maligned birds and I’d like to share their wonderful books with you. Heather Webber tackles the Song of Sixpence directly with a bit of magical realism in MIDNIGHT AT THE BLACKBIRD CAFE. Anna Kate Callow has arrived in Wicklow, Alabama, to bury her beloved Granny Zee. Unbeknownst to her, she inherits her grandmother’s entire estate, including the Midnight Cafe under one condition- she has to remain in Wicklow and run the cafe for a specific amount of time. Anna Kate has preconceptions about Wicklow….

Kari Arthur | Exclusive Interview: BLACKBIRD RISING
Author Guest / May 21, 2020

by Fresh Fiction Reviewers Debbie Wiley and Annetta Sweetko Hi Keri! Annetta and I (Debbie) are thrilled you’re joining us today at Fresh Fiction as we’re long-time fans of your work. Thanks for inviting me here! Can you tell us a little about your newest book, BLACKBIRD RISING, and what inspired it? I’d been thinking about writing an Arthurian inspired novel for a while, but in all honesty, it was just bubbling away in the background with no real substance. Then one of my favorite cover designers–J Caleb Design–put the Blackbird pre-made up for sale and boom, the whole story was right there. Needless to say, I grabbed that cover as soon as I could (his pre-made go really fast, so it was definitely meant to be). And so, The Witch King’s Crown series was born. You’ve written a variety of paranormal books, including other shifters. What made you decide on a blackbird shifter? The cover! I honestly had no intention of adding shifters into an Arthurian-based story, although I was always going to have witches and demons. In all of your various book series’ you have come up with very strong women ( for example – Tiger in the…

Debbie Wiley | Urban Fantasy and Fantasy Escapist Reads
Author Guest / April 9, 2020

Times are stressful right now. Parents and teachers are learning how to implement distance learning, going to the grocery store feels like a live version of Pac-Man, and we’re all desperately hunting for toilet paper. Nerves are frayed as everyone fears that even the slightest cough could mean a dangerous virus has entered their home. Quarantines are the norm. Who would have thought this is what 2020 had in store for us? Now, more than ever, is time to stop, take deep breaths, and read some good books that take us all away to other places right now. Urban fantasy and fantasy are two of my favorite genres and fortunately, there are some phenomenal new books out there right now to dive into. Here are a few of my recent favorites: The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs is one of my go-to series when things seem depressing as Mercy Thompson Hauptman is one of the best kick-butt, loyal, and compassionate characters out there. SMOKE BITTEN is the latest in the series and things are definitely in a chaotic state in the Tri-Counties. Mercy’s mate and Alpha wolf, Adam Hauptman, has been emotionally distant, a rarity for a werewolf. There’s…

Nghi Vo | Exclusive Interview: THE EMPRESS OF SALT AND FORTUNE
Author Guest / March 26, 2020

Welcome to Fresh Fiction, Nghi! Please tell us about yourself and your debut novella, THE EMPRESS OF SALT AND FORTUNE. So I spent a good many years thinking I couldn’t write novels, and that I would always love writing short stories best. Then the Tor call came for novellas, and it suddenly struck me, hey, 20,000 to 40,000 words, I know what that looks like! I can do that!  With respectable parameters and a deadline, I wrote The Empress of Salt and Fortune in about a month. I feel like this says something about me, and I’m still not sure if it’s good or bad. The Empress of Salt and Fortune is a story about memory and love. There’s a lot of fear and fury in it, a lot of terrible things that happen to the people who least deserve them, and there is a victory at the end, but yeah, mostly it’s about the people we remember, how we love them while they’re here, and how we love them after they’re gone. It’s also got talking birds, fried morel mushrooms, war mammoths, and a ton of fortunetelling, as well! The Empress In-yo has gone through great lengths to keep…

Kathleen O’Neal Gear | 20 Questions: CRIES FROM THE LOST ISLAND
Author Guest / March 12, 2020

1–What’s the name of your latest release?    CRIES FROM THE LOST ISLAND  2–What is it about?   It’s about a brokenhearted teenage boy who has just lost the love of his life, a young woman who believed she was the reincarnation of Cleopatra. The story is set against the magnificent ruins of ancient Egypt and brings to life the greatest love story of all time.   The leading character is Hal Stevens. He’s sixteen and a budding historical scholar from a small town in Colorado. Hal has only two friends, Roberto the Biker Witch and Cleopatra Mallawi. Cleo believes she’s being stalked by an ancient Egyptian demon, Ammut, the Devourer of the Dead. When Hal gets a desperate call from Cleo saying the demon has found her, he and Roberto rush to her house, but find her dying. Cleo’s last request sends Hal and Roberto on the journey of a lifetime with famed archaeologist Dr. James Moriarity. To save Cleo’s soul, they must find the lost grave of Cleopatra. . . and then discover a way to open the path to the legendary Island of the Two Flames.   But they are not alone in their search. They are being watched by others–and…

Debbie Wiley | New Urban Fantasy & Fantasy Novel Recs!
Author Guest / February 13, 2020

By Fresh Fiction Senior Reviewer Debbie Wiley Winter is in full swing in most of the country, while here in Central Florida we’re still trying to decide whether to even participate. So far temperatures are wildly swinging from the 40s to the mid-80s with a nice gusting of wind (all day for two days, I might add) thrown in just to keep us on our toes. So why does that matter? Because it’s the perfect weather to stay inside where I can adjust the heat or the AC (sometimes both during the same day!) and curl up with a book! Even better, January and February have given us some phenomenal urban fantasy/fantasy novels to choose from. Here are a couple of my favorites: Jennifer Estep concludes her Mythos Academy Spin-Off series with SPARTAN DESTINY. Rory Forseti, a Spartan and Mythos Academy student, and the rest of Team Midgard are determined to keep powerful artifacts out of the hands of the Reapers. Unbeknownst to the rest of Team Midgard, Rory has been secretly replacing real artifacts with copies. . . but will she be able to save her friends when their latest attempt to obtain an artifact goes sour?  I love…

Tessa Gratton | Valentine’s Day Recipe Roundup: LADY HOTSPUR + Giveaway!
Author Guest / February 13, 2020

Ready for yet another delicious dessert, perfect to share with your valentine? Fantasy author Tessa Gratton is here to tell us more about Lady Hotspur and a delectable dumpling dessert. *** Prince Hal has loved Hotspur since the moment she saw her–on a battlefield, rebelling together against an unjust king. Hal is a terrible prince, afraid of ruling, and hides herself in alcohol and wild parties, while Hotspur is consumed with duty to the land, her family, and her queen. But both women long to make their country better, and that mutual passion for Aremoria and each other ties them together with fire. Though their courtship is fraught with true Shakespearean romance, tragedy, war, redemption, and star-crossed destiny, Hal and Hotspur keep managing to come back to each other. Lady Hotspur doesn’t cook. She eats what’s put in front of her, whether it be charred meat from an army fire, or fine cream and candied apples at the queen’s table. Hal, on the other hand, loves distraction, and if she had the chance, would concoct a delightful plan to whisk Hotspur away for a date. She’d have to make something simple, that didn’t require many ingredients or delicate timing, and…

Joanna Hathaway | Valentine’s Day Recipe Roundup: STORM FROM THE EAST + Giveaway!
Author Guest / February 13, 2020

Another day, another fabulous author and book to feature on our Valentine’s Day Recipe Roundup. . . Let’s see what Joanna Hathaway has to offer us!  Romantic dinners are tough when you’re in a forbidden romance with the son of your family’s greatest enemy. For princess Aurelia Isendare, it would take a Romeo-and-Juliet worthy effort to arrange a simple date night with her beau fighter pilot Athan Dakar–especially since war has broken out and he’s invading the kingdom she has sworn to protect. But if the stars align, they might just manage to sneak away and savor a moment of peace, forgetting the rest of the world behind (and how much their parents would hate this traitorous kissing!). Since wartime is rough and leads to rationing, something simple and quick is in order. . . How about War Cake? This aptly named treat is a recipe from WWII, when many ingredients were scarce, and it’s made without dairy or eggs. But don’t let the simplicity scare you! It still tastes good, and it’s easy to throw together. It also allows for some creativity, which both Aurelia and Athan appreciate as artists who enjoy experimentation. This cake (with an almost muffin-like…

Courtney Moulton | Five Ways My Life Has Changed Since Becoming an Author
Author Guest / January 23, 2020

When I was a teen, I wanted nothing like I wanted to be a published author, and my dream came true in 2009 when I was 23 and sold my first book to a major publisher. Over ten years later, I feel like I’ve grown up in the publishing industry. My fifth release, WARDENS OF ETERNITY, is a historical fantasy about a young woman who must use her wit and magic to outmaneuver Nazis and Ancient Egyptian gods to prevent global destruction. My dream has come with amazing experiences and daunting responsibilities, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything! My art has become my job. That’s amazing! Not many people get to do their art every day and get paid for it. That’s because it’s very hard to make a living doing art. My life depends on my writing and that’s a huge weight on my ability to focus and create. In addition, authors get paid different amounts on different schedules. There’s very little we and our agents can do about that. Sometimes an author is living on a fixed income for a long time. I’ve been able to travel and see amazing cities and meet wonderful people. Some of…

Jon Sprunk | Top 5 Influences on My Writing
Author Guest / December 17, 2019

As a fantasy writer, people often ask me where I find my inspiration. So, here is a list of my Top 5 influences. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I am hardly the first author to be inspired by these amazing novels by J.R.R. Tolkien. I first read The Hobbit when I was a child, and I can still remember getting lost in the adventures of Bilbo Baggins and company. I quickly moved onto The Lord of the Rings trilogy and was completely hooked. To this day, I am amazed by the artistry and breadth of this series. And, of course, I feel challenged by it, to write something that might measure up to its greatness. Star Wars. I was seven years old when the first movie (A New Hope) first arrived in theaters. I saw it seventeen times with my father that year. It was truly a magical experience; unlike anything I had seen before. The adventure, the heroism, the battles, and the dynamic conflict between good and evil for the fate of the galaxy. Years later, when I began to experiment with writing my own stories, Star Wars was never far from my mind. Not the…