Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Lynn Austin | The Upstairs Downstairs Syndrome
Author Guest / June 3, 2020

Inside the stately manor house on the TV series Downton Abbey, two different worlds exist. Life upstairs is elegant and refined. The gentry is considered superior to the working class and worthy of deference and respect because of the “blue blood” in their veins. They wear fabulous clothing that they can’t seem to put on by themselves, enjoy fine dining every evening, and have plenty of leisure time. Downstairs, servants wearing identical uniforms day after day bump elbows with each other as they work from dawn until long after dark to keep the household running in good order. The family upstairs enjoys the freedom to pursue new pastimes and careers while their downstairs servants seem destined to remain among the servant class. The divide between the classes is much wider than the door that separates them. That’s why, when the chauffeur and the upstairs daughter dare to fall in love, both servants and gentry at Downton Abbey are equally horrified. My latest novel, If I Were You, takes place in a similar setting—in a grand manor house called Wellingford Hall. Audrey Clarkson lives a life of wealth and privilege upstairs. Eve Dawson and her mother work downstairs as household servants….

Cindy K. Sproles | Author-Reader Match: What Momma Left Behind
Author Guest / June 3, 2020

Instead of trying to find your perfect match in a dating app, we bring you the “Author-ReaderMatch” where we introduce you to authors as a reader you may fall in love with. It’s our great pleasure to present Cindy K. Sproles! Writes: Cindy writes Appalachian Historical (1800s era). Her stories are gritty, emotional, and full of action. What Momma Left Behind, tackles the difficult life of the orphaned children in the deep Smoky Mountains when “the fever” seemed to be taking more adults and leaving orphaned children by the droves to forge the mountains to survive. About: Author is a mountain gal who seeks friends who appreciate the sweet smell of fresh mountain air after a spring rain, and the stamina to hike to the summit. Raised in the mountains of East Tennessee, Cindy loves her mountain heritage and her desire is to keep the stories of the Appalachians in the forefront so they are not forgotten.  She wants readers to relate to the hardships but see the determination and faithfulness to others found in people “back in the hollers.” What I’m looking for in my ideal reader match: *Readers must like fast hitting action. *Must be willing to plow through the hardship to see the depth of those who…

Jill Eileen Smith | How Women of the Bible Inspire Me
Author Guest / March 6, 2020

I fell in love with the Bible when I was sixteen years old. I read the Bible before that time, but it was a biblical novel, Two From Galilee by Marjorie Holmes, that caused me to realize that the people in the Scriptures were real. I never looked at God’s Word quite the same way again. Suddenly, the stories in the Old and New Testaments had names and faces and situations that I could understand and relate to. Of course, not everything in ancient times can compare to what we face today, but though the cultures are different, human nature does not change. Since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, which, yes, I believe were real people and the Garden a real place, we have all struggled with a nature that is no longer perfect. We don’t have to teach a child to lie or take something that isn’t theirs or be selfish with their toys. We don’t improve much with age either, I’m sorry to say. The women of the Bible struggled with this same sin nature. Impatience, greed, anger, bitterness, ingratitude, worry, faithlessness, controlling attitudes, manipulation, and so much more afflicted them just…

Laura Frantz | Exclusive Excerpt: AN UNCOMMON WOMAN
Author Guest / January 8, 2020

The cloudless August day dawned with a sky so blue, the air so crisp, it bespoke the change of seasons. Tessa rose before first light, swinging the kettle on its crane over the ashes she’d banked carefully the night before. Breakfast was a blur of bowls and mugs and terse words as her brothers hurried to their tasks at field and ferry. Ma was never so missed as at peep of day. But she’d made peace with Ma’s going just as her brothers would make peace with her going in time. Six days had passed since she’d seen Clay. Would he ride in on the Sabbath like last week? Or would some fort matter keep him rooted? She filled a wash bucket with lye, scrubbed her brothers’ shirts clean, and set out her own Sabbath best. Draping the laundry across a near fence, she pondered what needed doing next. Taking the whetstone she’d gotten from the creek bed, she began sharpening knives, the sound rasping her nerves. Next she gathered the last of the greens from the garden, braiding the onions to hang from the rafters. For supper she’d make fried mush with maple sugar that Zadock had expressed a…

Jane Kirkpatrick | Exclusive Interview: ONE MORE RIVER TO CROSS
Author Guest / September 18, 2019

Welcome back to Fresh Fiction! Can you tell us about your latest release, ONE MORE RIVER TO CROSS? It’s the story of a little-known wagon train trying to find religious freedom in Alta California and their remarkable survival in a terrible winter (in the same place in the Sierra Nevadas that the Donner party encountered two years later – with very different results). It’s incredible to know that ONE MORE RIVER TO CROSS was inspired by a true story. Where did you find out about this piece of history and what brought about writing an entire book about it?  While researching another book I found a footnote that said, “Here’s the cabin wherein 1844-45 8 women, 17 children, and James Miller spent the winter in the Sierra Nevadas.”  Hmm, were they on a vacation? There’s a group of women in this novel who have to survive the unthinkable while taking care of children and keeping them all alive in harsh conditions. Their strength and resilience are inspiring. What sort of research did you do about survival tactics? Did you learn anything about the actual women who went through this journey?  Sheltering each other, collaborating and keeping a focus on what…

Lori Benton | Stalking Story Landscapes
Author Guest / June 7, 2019

Tucked into the interstices of the writing life, I’ve cultivated a creative hobby—landscape photography. This requires me to travel around the Pacific Northwest visiting rugged coastlines, mountain lakes reflecting snowy peaks, cascading waterfalls, and most recently the wildflowers blooming along the Columbia River that divides the states of Oregon and Washington. On this most recent venture I hunted for previously unexplored hillsides splashed with the vivid yellows and purples of Balsam Root and Lupine, as well as searching out new vistas in a few places I’ve visited before. No matter if the setting I’ve driven hours to see and shoot is new to me or a favorite spot, I’ll often prowl around and observe how the light, weather conditions, and my movement through the terrain changes the landscape, thus the potential composition of a photograph. When I find a composition that feels strong and balanced (two years of art college put to use!), I’ll stop and set up my tripod and camera. More than once I’ve found myself wishing that a novel, a chapter, or a scene could be a three-dimensional landscape I could physically move through with the same ease. Whether I’m engaged in photography or writing, the process…