Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Joanna Davidson Politano | Exclusive Excerpt: A MIDNIGHT DANCE
Author Guest / September 3, 2021

Keeping his gaze on me, he unhooked a wooden bar hanging on long ropes and tossed it over. “Now, let’s start, shall we?” His look was challenging. I gripped the bar and tugged. “You don’t truly expect me to swing through the air on this contraption, do you? How will that help me dance?” “What you’ve done isn’t working, is it? I aim to give you new experiences, push you off a few of your precious safety ledges. Now hold on.” “But I’m afraid of—” “I said, hold on.” . . . heights. A gentle shove against my back and I was hurtling through open space, high over the straw-covered floors. I clutched that awful bar for dear life, digging my fingernails into the wood. I squeezed my eyes shut as I sailed through the air, then I forced one eyelid open. Another platform rose up to meet me, and I scrambled to get my feet onto it, but as my shoes touched wood, my weight pulled me back down. I trembled on the swing back, until I felt solid hands around my waist. Jack hauled me onto the loft and steadied me. “Now you know what it feels like to fly.” “I…

Amanda Cox | Exclusive Excerpt: THE SECRET KEEPERS OF OLD DEPOT GROCERY
Author Guest / September 1, 2021

March 1967 Glory Ann scooped her daughter from the back seat, relishing the sweet pudge still lingering on the fifteen-month-old’s lengthening legs. The curly-haired tot pushed back from her mother’s embrace and bore her blue-eyed gaze into Glory Ann’s. “Down! Me do it.” Glory Ann swiped a thumb across the child’s sticky cheek. “Okay, but stay close and no running. It’s Gramma Hawthorne’s birthday.” Her chest tightened. “And we must be on our very, very best behavior.” Glory Ann put her daughter down and straightened the crumpled flounces of the tiny pink dress. She then smoothed the front of her own orange shift. “Now, hold my hand.” It had been months since she’d been home to see her parents, and though her mother promised she’d come to Brighton, she had never made the one-hour drive. Not in the many months her little one grew in her middle. Not when she’d labored in the sterile hospital, longing for her mother’s hand to hold. Nor any other time during the fifteen months of her daughter’s life. She took a shaking breath and found an anchor in her child’s tight grip on her thumb. It had seemed a fun idea to surprise Mother…

Valerie Fraser Luesse | Title Challenge: UNDER THE BAYOU MOON
Author Guest / August 6, 2021

Hello, there! (Or maybe I should say “hey, y’all,” as we do here in the Deep South.) I’m Valerie Fraser Luesse, and my latest novel is called UNDER THE BAYOU MOON. It’s set in Southwest Louisiana, which captured my imagination when I explored it as a writer for Southern Living magazine. I’m as excited about sharing the mystery and beauty of this place as I am about introducing you to my main characters: Raphe Broussard, a lonely Cajun fisherman who has endured a family tragedy and is raising his young nephew, Remy, on his own; Ellie Fields, a young schoolteacher from Alabama, seeking her true purpose when she accepts a position in Raphe’s hometown of tiny Bernadette, Louisiana; Heywood Thornberry, their gregarious yet secretive friend who loves capturing the magic of the bayou with his camera; Doc and Florence, two stalwarts in the community who take Ellie underwing . . . and a legendary white alligator. This new story is part romance, part mystery, and part cautionary tale against selfish greed and a disregard for truth.  I drew from a deep well of travel writing experience and several unforgettable trips to Acadian Louisiana to bring the bayou to life. I…

Ann H. Gabhart | Exclusive Excerpt: ALONG A STORIED TRAIL
Author Guest / June 2, 2021

Seemed everybody was talking about Aunt Perdie today. Truth was, plenty of Aunt Perdie stories floated around the mountains. She hadn’t ever married. Said nobody ever came calling to ask her, but if they had, she might just have said no. Leastways once she got past normal marrying age. By then she couldn’t see the purpose in sharing a cabin that wasn’t all that big with some man who’d want her to do things his way. Not when she was happy doing things her way. Would that be how Tansy ended up? An old lady in a lonesome cabin after spurning whatever marriage prospects might have come knocking on her door? Youngsters then might be sharing Aunt Tansy stories. Could be they already were talking about that crazy book woman, even if they were glad to see her coming. The thought made her laugh out loud. At Aunt Perdie’s, Tansy tied Shadrach to a handy tree, then climbed up the steps to bang on the cabin door. Aunt Perdie didn’t have a porch, just a little slab of roof over the top step. She was ready to knock again when the door creaked open. “Well, if it ain’t the book woman….

Rachel Fordham | Title Challenge: A LADY IN ATTENDANCE
Author Guest / June 2, 2021

Hi There! I’m Rachel Fordham, author of A LADY IN ATTENDANCE, a story that has been in my heart a long time and will be in readers’ hands June 1st. It’s rich with historical details and a romance that made me sigh while writing it. I’m excited to give you story teasers using the title! Here goes: A-  A is for Attending. The first dental assistants were referred to as either attending women or ladies in attendance. Hazel accepts a job working for the local dentist. * L- L is for Love After spending five years in a New York State reformatory, Hazel has a blemish on her name. Can someone with a past like hers ever find love? A- A is for Authentic Hazel grew up in high society, spent five years behind iron gates, and is now working as a dental assistant (using a fictitious name). Discovering who she really is, is a journey. D- D is for Daring The past is forever haunting Hazel, keeping her from believing in the future. It takes courage and friendship for her to dare face the things she tried to leave behind. Y-Y is for Youth If Hazel could change anything,…

Amanda Cabot | Exclusive Excerpt: DREAMS REKINDLED
Author Guest / February 26, 2021

She was being as silly as Laura. Dorothy frowned as she placed the hat on her head for what felt like the hundredth time, tilting it ever so slightly to the left. It wasn’t as if she were about to meet the president. All she was doing was going for a walk. There was no reason to fuss so much over her appearance. Today was the fourth day since Brandon Holloway had come to Mesquite Springs, and it seemed that both he and Laura had fallen into a routine. Each day Brandon came to Polly’s Place for his midday meal. Each day Laura kept peeking out the kitchen door, almost as if she didn’t trust Dorothy to tell her when he arrived. And when he did, she insisted on taking Brandon’s meal to him, returning to the kitchen with the same report: there was no question about it; he was the man she was meant to marry. Finally satisfied with the angle of the hat, Dorothy secured it with two of her prettiest hatpins, then descended the stairs. Once a quick look confirmed that nothing in the kitchen needed her attention, she opened the back door and stepped out into…

Suzanne Woods Fisher | Title Challenge: THE MIDNIGHT SCHOOL
Author Guest / February 3, 2021

I’m Suzanne Woods Fisher, the author of The Moonlight School. This historical fiction will release on February 2, 2021, and is based on a true story featuring Cora Wilson Stewart, a Kentucky woman way ahead of her times. In 1911, Cora had a crazy idea—to open rural one-room schoolhouses in her county on moonlit nights to teach illiterate adults how to read and write. So what happened next? Well, it’s so astonishing that you wouldn’t believe me if I told you. Instead, I hope you’ll read the book and find out for yourself. T – T is for Time. Cora Wilson Stewart knew the time had come to address the alarming adult illiteracy rate (25%) in her county. H – H is for Hero. And Handsome. Both describe Brother Wyatt, a Singing School Master who brings music to the mountain people. E – E is for Everything. Cora, as Kentucky’s first female Superintendent of Education for Rowan County, put everything on the line to create the first grassroot movement of Moonlight Schools. * M – M is for Moon. Cora chose a night with a full moon to open the rural schoolhouses to adults. O – O is for Overprotective. Cora convinced her overprotective cousin to allow his nineteen-year-old daughter, Lucy Wilson, to come work for…

Laura Frantz | 20 Questions: TIDEWATER BRIDE
Author Guest / January 6, 2021

1–What is the title of your latest release? Tidewater Bride 2–What is it about? A young woman who is the head matchmaker for a 1634 Virginia colony yet lacks her own match. Selah Hopewell is tasked with bringing ‘Tobacco Brides’ to the male-dominated New World but she never realizes by doing so she is arranging her own nuptials.  3–What do you love about the setting of your book?  Early Virginia is an explosion of all the things that make pages turn – a brave New World, handsome tobacco planters, treacherous politics, precious few women, ships, Indians, and the accompanying tumult that settling a new nation brings.  4–How did your main character(s) surprise you?  Sometimes they did things I wasn’t expecting, taking a scene in a direction I hadn’t thought of or anticipated. The mystery of creating! There’s even a bit of humor within.  5–Why will readers relate to your characters?  Their faults and foibles became very apparent to me. We all have them and characters should have them, too. Pride and false assumptions play a large part in this story, as troubling then as now.  6–What was one of your biggest challenges while writing this book (spoiler-free, of course!)?  Keeping…

Joanna Davidson Politano | Title Challenge: THE LOVE NOTE
Author Guest / October 23, 2020

T is for truth, the heroine’s strength and downfall as well. In romance, in her medical career, even in prickly family matters, she cannot help but spout out the truth the moment it comes into her head. H is for happy endings, something that nearly everyone at Crestwicke lacks, and only a few will find by the end. E is for epic love story, the sort that has blossomed out of the dry stones of Crestwicke, between two unknown people connected by an old love letter. * L is for lost chances, which happened when a letter admitting to a secret love was dropped—or hidden—in the crack of a desk without ever being opened. When the heroine finds it, she is determined to reunite the secret lovers—if the chance is not already lost completely. O is for obsessed, which the lonely maid at Crestwicke becomes when she stumbles on the letter, believing she now has a secret admirer. V is for Vanish, which is what the letter does over and over, landing in different people’s hands and causing chaos below the surface that will eventually explode out into the open. E is for enduring, which is exactly what our hero…

Andy Andrews | Exclusive Excerpt: JUST JONES
Author Guest / September 9, 2020

He wore blue jeans and a white T-shirt with leather flip-flops. His longish, snow-white hair framed a deeply tanned face and the most startling eyes Keely had ever seen. In fact, they were the first thing she’d noticed after being placed in the cell. The old man’s eyes were blue, but it was a lighter–no, a brighter–shade of blue than she had ever seen. It was as if his eyes had been encased in crystal. There was a clarity to them Keely was unable to define. She had heard of eyes that sparkled, but always considered that specific description a way of referring to excitement reflected in a person’s face. But this old man? His eyes really did sparkle. He had already been in the cell when Keely was locked in during the early morning hours. When the door had shut behind her, the officer quickly departed. Keely simply stood by the door with tears streaming down her face. She had been angry, afraid, and drunk. Now, her head pounded ferociously, but she was beginning to recall those first moments in the cell. The old man had stood when she walked in, Keely remembered. And he had said something. What…