Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Missy Jane | BORN OF THE FORBIDDEN
Author Guest / March 18, 2021

As both a reader and writer of romance, I have one major pet peeve: overbearing heroes. Sure, some “Alpha” males can’t seem to help themselves, but no means no, even if it’s something small like walking a lady home. I try not to write the kinds of heroes who don’t take no for an answer, especially when it’s something major. However, my gargoyles were created not only as full-grown men, but as protectors of an entire kingdom and all of the citizens within. So, it comes as no surprise to me when they have a hard time not protecting the person they’ve set their hearts on. In BORN OF THE FORBIDDEN, Adalstan has the misfortune of falling for a Kevan woman. Keva is a kingdom of female warriors akin to the Amazons. They certainly don’t need protection. In the following excerpt, both Adalstan and Brónach come to realize they have something to learn about each other. Excerpt: Adalstan landed well shy of the first houses marking the large border city of Angor. He set Brónach on her feet but didn’t move from her space. She gave him a wary glance before stepping back two paces away from him. They’d been…

Debbie Herbert | What if you could SEE when someone is lying?
Author Guest / March 1, 2021

Synesthesia is a rare neurological condition where sensory paths are crossed in the brain. You might see musical notes as colors, taste textures like “triangles” or “squares” while eating food, or have a sequence-space form in which dates and numbers occupy a spatial location in your mind. The condition has always intrigued me, and I’ve long wanted to write a novel in which the main character experiences the world through this lens. In my latest book, NOT ONE OF US, Jori Trahan has a rare form of synesthesia commonly known as “colored hearing.” For Jori, every person’s voice has particular colors and textures as they speak. This ability ultimately gives her a unique edge to solve an old murder. Jori, like most synesthetes, enjoys her condition; for her, this is just the way the world is. But sometimes the condition can be overwhelming if she is enclosed in a noisy room. In one scene at a crowded bar, the background noise “formed a steady drumbeat of colors that swirled and morphed into blackish splatters of ugly blobs.” Her friend Dana’s voice is the color of “fizzing green arrows” and another character’s voice is “a bruising purple-black, the color of storm…

Deborah Blake | FURBIDDEN FATALITY
Author Guest / February 26, 2021

You’ve probably heard the writing advice “write what you know.” When I sat down to create my new cozy mystery series, which kicked off with FURBIDDEN FATALITY this week, I tried to do just that. Not that I have ever run a pet rescue (although I have volunteered at one). Or won the lottery, alas. But I do know a little something about rescue animals because I am the proverbial crazy cat lady, and all four of my current feline overlords came from one kind of shelter or another. In fact, most of the cats I’ve had over my lifetime have been rescues. My beloved Magic the Cat, Queen of the universe (who inspired the little black kitten named Queenie in the series), came from a shelter. I went in for one kitten to keep my last remaining elderly cat company and came home with ten-week-old black Magic, her large gray brother Mystic, and their mother Minerva, who was so terrified and sickly, the shelter folks begged me to take her as a “bonus” cat, without paying any fees. It took two years for me to convince Minerva to sit on my lap, but after that, she never wanted to…

Eva Devon | Top Ten Fun Period Films Guaranteed to Give You Costume Envy
Author Guest / February 19, 2021

1: Sink me! I adore a good caper. And The Scarlet Pimpernel is a GORGEOUS movie and full of hilarious banter. Plus, it features an amazing cast that includes a young Ian McKellen! 2: Emma with Romola Garai is my very favorite version. It is such a treat! Romola plays Emma as fun, feisty, and yet limited by the fact she’s never left home. Also, they do a great job of giving context to the childhoods of supporting characters. A really lovely and fun presentation! 3: Girls are boss! In this very gritty, funny, and pretty true series, Harlots gives Georgian England the full female treatment. I’ve read a lot about Covent Garden and the show holds true to form. This one is not for the light of heart or for those who prefer their love scenes off screen. Produced, directed, and largely acted by women, I love it! So gorgeous! 4: War and Peace sounds really heavy and it is serious, but I could look at the main characters in their fabulous costumes in their fabulous settings all day. It’s a gorgeous trip back into the height of war time 1800s. The balls are out of this world. 5:…

Heidi Chiavaroli | Top Five Reasons Readers Love Strong Female Characters
Author Guest / February 10, 2021

As I sat down to write my new novel, THE ORCHARD HOUSE, I couldn’t help but think about the inspiration behind it—Louisa May Alcott and her timeless classic, Little Women. Louisa captivated readers around the world with her seemingly simple domestic tale filled with honesty, complexity, and ultimately, joy in the messiness. But something else has us captivated. Or rather, someone else. Namely Jo March. When I was a girl, I wanted to be Jo. She was feisty, bold, but also incredibly caring and tenderhearted. She stood up for what she believed in and she was determined to be a writer one day (as was I!). In short, she was a tremendous and gigantic female character that readers fell in love with. But why is it that we appreciate strong female protagonists such as Jo March? Here are five reasons I think a gutsy female lead is likely to win us over: 1–We can relate to them in their shortcomings. Strong female characters aren’t perfect. Think of Jo’s struggle to control her temper. Katniss Everdeen’s rashness. Scarlett O’Hara’s lack of empathy. Sometimes, though, these flaws can be avenues to actually help them—either in their physical world or in their internal…

Chris Cannon | STAR-CROSSED DRAGONS
Author Guest / February 4, 2021

Have you ever wanted more from a series? Wanted to know more about the characters and how their world came into being or maybe you wanted to visit the setting and walk around a bit, enjoying the literary places you’d visited before. Those thoughts are what lead me to write STAR-CROSSED DRAGONS. It’s a love story about two Dragons from different social classes and clans that fall in love. These Dragons, Sara and Ian, are the main character’s parents from the Going Down In Flames series. In the Going Down In Flames series, I mentioned that Bryn’s parents ran away from a secret society of shape-shifting Dragons to escape arranged marriages. Honestly, I didn’t give much thought to how that happened. When I sat down to write her parents’ story, I realized I needed to reread the whole series to make sure I kept my facts straight. You’d think as the author I’d remember all the details, and I do remember most of what happened to the main character and her friends but remembering the information about the side characters was a bit more difficult. Once I had my ducks or dragons in a row, I wrote characters I really liked…

Amber Royer | Eight People In My Protagonist’s Life
Author Guest / January 28, 2021

You know one thing I like about writing cozy mysteries?  They’re series, centering around the life of the protagonist.  Which means they need a large cast of friends, family, and business associates, all with the potential to get developed as the series progresses.  Of course, some of these people will be developed into murder suspects – and victims.  But the people closest to your protagonist are generally safe bets for readers to get attached to. Cozies also allow for elements of romance, as new people come into the character’s life as a result of the murder investigation.  Which gives a whole other layer of tension to the plot. I’ve taken advantage of all of that in GRAND OPENINGS CAN BE MURDER, the first book in my Bean to Bar Mysteries.  My protagonist, Felicity Koerber, moved home to Texas after her husband died.  She’s made some new friends, and her old friends – especially her best friend Autumn and her Aunt Naomi – have rallied around her, to help her through this time of grief.  And Naomi is a bit of a matchmaker, determined to get Felicity dating again, so there’s bound to be some cute guys dropping into her world,…

Sasha Summers | My Top Five Favorite Country Music Artists
Author Guest / January 26, 2021

While I was writing SONG FOR A COWBOY (the whole Kings of Country series actually), I listened to a lot of country music. It helped get me in the mindset and set the ‘tone’ for each book. Of course, picking out certain songs turned into liking certain artists who then, sort of, ended up becoming character inspiration for the Kings family. How about we just dive right in, shall we? 1-Tim McGraw – “Don’t Take the Girl” and “Highway Don’t Care. I think he has a super sexy voice. Smooth and confident. He knows what he’s doing and he’s in his element. I sort of imagine Hank King, the patriarch of the family, as a mash-up between he and George Strait. Plus – the way he looks at his wife, Faith Hill, gives me the tingles. 2-Blake Shelton – “God Gave Me You” and “Mine Would Be You” Who doesn’t like Blake Shelton? He’s funny and handsome and down to earth and, of yeah, he can sing. I admit, I’m a fan of his ballads and I’ve listed to quite a few of them while writing Song for a Cowboy and the rest of the Kings of Country series. 3-Keith…

Traci Hall | Ten Famous Kisses
Author Guest / January 15, 2021

Ten Famous Kisses, from fictional to real–how would you put these in order? The Obamas on Kiss Cam–simply adorable when they kissed on-screen at a basketball game in Washington DC. Ghost–very sexy, despite the super-fake spectral mist between Demi and Patrick. Lady and the Tramp–iconic noodle-slurping kiss. So cute. Madonna and Britney Spears–this kiss between pop goddesses was shocking at the time! Princess Diana and Prince Charles–their wedding day was very romantic and sparked an interest in all things royal. Sleeping Beauty–the prince brings Aurora to life! Gotta love the guy for that. Romeo and Juliet–young love. So young. Too young? Titanic–doomed love. Rose should have made room for Jack on the door. V-J Day in Times Square World War II–a kiss of peace and hope and joy. Terrific shot by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt! Scarlett and Rhett from Gone with the Wind–a primal kiss. I really feel for Rhett. Scarlet needed a little more time to grow up 🙂 Possible number eleven? Grace and Sawyer in JUST ONE KISS–check out the kiss in the Ferris wheel! <3 In JUST ONE KISS, Grace Sheldon is a freelance photographer with a laid-back lifestyle put to the test in order to pay the…

Kat Martin | Setting the Stage
Author Guest / January 11, 2021

I love to read novels set in interesting places.  Currently, I’m reading a historical romance that takes place in Nazi-occupied Paris during WWII.  I’ve always loved Paris, which makes the book even more fun to read.  Being able to recognize the settings where the action takes place, as well as the names of restaurants and streets I have visited. As a writer, going to the place your book is set, or choosing a place you have actually been, is the best way to make your book seem real. In THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL, the novel takes place in Colorado, a state I love to visit.  After I’d concluded my second Maximum Security novel, THE DECEPTION, which was set in Texas, I was looking for someplace different for book number three.  Colorado, with its wide variety of landscapes and extreme climate conditions, seemed perfect. Having been to Denver a number of times, street names were familiar, parks and airports, locations of smaller towns, and rural mountain communities. Since this was a Maximum Security novel, a romantic thriller, I began by researching crime in the state.  I had digging and digging and finally stumbled onto an article about the U.S. Army chemical weapons…