Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Carmen Falcone | Writing and Reading in Corona Times
Author Guest / September 15, 2020

I have to say, I never thought I’d be writing about a pandemic. Right? For months now, we have been living a lifestyle far from ideal–from lockdown quarantine to regular quarantine, to let’s-expand-our-bubble quarantine. I’m a reality TV/trash TV junkie, so when this all started, I was glad to binge on train wrecks like Tiger King and Too Hot to Handle. Sadly, during quarantine, I didn’t acquire a new skill or hobby. Some habits, though, did change. For instance, I’ve always been an audiobook addict–mainly because I used to drive the kids to school and activities, and on my way home I’d always listen to my romance books. But then, with not having to drive anywhere, I could only listen to audiobooks and podcasts when I walked my dog. As much as I love walking my dog (and I have to otherwise he goes crazy), I’m also not training for a marathon. So, in short: I needed another way of reading. I love my Kindle and am used to buying eBooks versus paperbacks anytime. However, because of distance learning and the amount of my own writing I had to do, I couldn’t add more screen time. I didn’t want my…

Michelle Shocklee | UNDER THE TULIP TREE: Exploring the Power of Forgiveness
Author Guest / September 11, 2020

Forgiveness is one of the themes woven throughout the pages of my historical time-slip novel, Under the Tulip Tree. In it, Frankie, a 101-year-old former slave, tells the story of her life to Rena, a young white woman who works for the Federal Writers’ Project, a government program that employed thousands of out-of-work writers, teachers, librarians, and others during the Great Depression. As an unlikely friendship emerges between the two women, a startling revelation threatens to undo the bond of respect and admiration they’ve nurtured. Can they overcome it? The answer hinges on one word: forgiveness. Forgiveness means different things to different people, but in Under the Tulip Tree and in this article, I’m referring to the biblical definition. The original Greek word that appears in the New Testament is aphiemi, a verb with several meanings: to send away; to expire; to let go; to disregard; to give up a debt; to keep no longer. In Under the Tulip Tree, both Frankie and Rena are faced with situations that require them to forgive someone, yet forgiveness is not easy. In fact, it can be one of the hardest things we’ll ever do, especially if the offense left us traumatized. As…

Kianna Alexander | My Favorite Romance Tropes & Themes
Author Guest / September 1, 2020

My favorite tropes to write have traditionally been Friends-to-Lovers and Second Chance romance. The reason is, out of all those familiar tropes, those are the two I’ve seen played out in reality most. There’s something hopeful about them, and while not every pair of friends can morph their relationship into a healthy romantic one, and not every relationship deserves a second chance, there’s definitely some appeal there. More than tropes, though, I have favorite themes. My main one is redemption because I believe that those who truly want to right the wrongs of the past should have a chance to do so when that redemption doesn’t lead to the ill effects for someone else. Another theme I often write about is self-discovery. That’s been a big theme in my life, especially over the last few years. My characters are just imperfect people, looking to be loved in a healthy, fulfilling way and that something I think we all want, regardless of orientation, gender, race, color, or creed. When reading romance, which I don’t get to do as much as I’d like, I read pretty widely, without regard to trope. I do have a few tropes I won’t read, including racists…

Kate Bateman | First Love
Author Guest / June 24, 2020

All right, let’s talk first loves. No, I don’t mean that sexy bad boy from school. I’m talking about the paper kind. Those first, unforgettable books that were your introduction–your gateway drug, if you will–into the wonderful world of Romance. Was it that illicit stash of Harlequins you discovered at your grandma’s house? The dog-eared bodice-ripper you reluctantly started because it was the only book in the vacation rental that wasn’t by Stephen King? Whatever it was, it changed your life for the better. I was, I admit, a latecomer to romance. I’d studied ‘Serious, Proper Literature’ at University–which generally meant books written by men. I’d read everything from Chaucer to James Joyce, Shakespeare to Kafka. And I’d noticed how few of the women in those ‘classics’ ever achieved success or received any pleasure. If they did, they were usually punished, or ended up dead. I clung, ever hopeful, to the sparsest of romantic threads, but ended up shouting at my paperbacks instead; “Forget the train station, Anna Karenina! Run off with Vronsky and bloody well live happily ever after.” “Step away from the poison, Madame Bovary, he’s not worth it!” Don’t even get me started on Tess of the…

Hazel Prior | A Heroine at Eighty-Six
Author Guest / June 16, 2020

I used to think that dreams were the domain of the young. I assumed that by the time you reached, say, thirty you had everything sorted, you settled down and life got dull. Then I reached thirty and changed my mind… maybe forty was the age? But when I reached forty, that didn’t seem to be the case. Now I’ve found myself on the wrong (or is it the right?) side of fifty… and I’m still looking forward rather than back. This may be because I was a late bloomer. I drifted and I dreamed. Then a nasty, long-term illness jolted me into the realization that life wouldn’t last forever. I was already in my forties by the time I was finally diagnosed and fixed by surgery. The amazing gift of being able to function again gave me the determination I needed to knuckle down. Yet it still took years of harp practice before I could call myself a musician. And my first novel, Ellie And The Harp Maker, was only published last year. Perhaps it is not surprising I chose an older woman for the heroine of my second book, How The Penguins Saved Veronica. So many novels have…

Robin Carroll | DEAD SILENCE
Author Guest / May 18, 2020

Hi, there. . . Robin here. I’m getting so excited for the release of my thirty-fourth novel, DEAD SILENCE. I have to say, I love this book. The heroine is strong, yet flawed in how she perceives some of what is going on around her. She’s kicked into action when her son is threatened. Her love for her son–willing to do anything to protect him is a mother’s instinct I relate to so well, having three daughters and two grandsons. The love of a mother for her child is so ingrained in me that I forewent any romance in the story, allowing the love between mother and child to take the forefront emotion. I’ve been asked why I opted for a heroine who is an ASL translator and who has a deaf son. Many years ago, I became friends with someone who is deaf. She shared with me some of her frustrations, but also how her way of life is in comparison to mine. It got me to thinking that being deaf could be thought of as a disability, but could also be used as an advantage. . . it was all in how you looked at it. My friend…