Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Miranda Owen | Fresh Fiction Reviewer Top Reads of 2019
Author Guest / December 20, 2019

Our reviewer retrospective continues with Miranda Owen‘s favorite books of this year!  I love making lists. At the end of a year, friends and fellow readers will post about their top favorite five or ten books of the year. I’m not configured that way. Trying to pick only five or ten favorite books out of the hundred or so I’ve read over the course of a year is unfathomable to me. Instead, I’ve picked about five or so titles in four different categories. Many of these selections fit a few of different categories listed here. I mostly read and review romances, but cozy mysteries are my jam too. Christmas-themed Romance Picks THE MATCHMAKER’S MISTLETOE MISSION by Jaci Burton A COWBOY UNDER THE MISTLETOE by Jessica Clare ONE HOT HOLIDAY by Cynthia Eden MEET ME UNDER THE MISTLETOE by Stacey Kennedy ONE CHRISTMAS EVE by Shannon Stacey There was a ridiculous amount of amazing Christmas-themed romances that came out this year, many of which came out at the end of October. The ones I’m discussing were my absolute favorites, but there were a bunch more that put a smile on my face. THE MATCHMAKER’S MISTLETOE MISSION by Jaci Burton and A…

Nalini Singh | Exclusive Interview: A MADNESS OF SUNSHINE
Author Guest / December 2, 2019

Welcome to Fresh Fiction, Nalini! Can you tell us a little bit about your latest novel, A MADNESS OF SUNSHINE?  A MADNESS OF SUNSHINE is my debut thriller. Set in an isolated town on New Zealand’s rugged and stunningly beautiful West Coast, it’s about all the different faces people wear, all the secrets we keep, and how well we ever know one another. The New Zealand landscape is an integral character in the book, a place that’ll take your breath away…and a place so wild and empty that bodies could disappear without a trace. A MADNESS OF SUNSHINE marks a change of genre for you! What inspired this change to write a thriller? Did you find anything surprisingly different than writing paranormal romance? I’ve always enjoyed mysteries and thrillers, and many of my paranormal romances have a mystery element or subplot. So it wasn’t a huge shift to write a pure mystery – it was more a case of having the right story and the right setting. Anahera Rawiri left her small New Zealand hometown of Golden Cove eight years ago, but returns to find things similar, but with some frustrating differences. What does her return home mean to Anahera?…

Emily Littlejohn | Exclusive Excerpt: SHATTER THE NIGHT
Author Guest / November 25, 2019

From Chapter One Halloween. Since becoming a cop six years prior, I’d grown to dread the thirty-first day of October. I could no longer believe the holiday was simply a night of innocent fun. I’d been witness to desecrated graves and smashed pumpkins; violent bar brawls and deadly DUIs. The night gave liberty to all sorts of spooks and ghouls, not only encouraging them to come out and play but practically daring them not to. I was also a parent, though, and slowly learning that Halloween was a night I needed to tolerate, if not someday even embrace. My daughter, Grace, was nearly a year old and already she was captivated by the glowing pumpkins and toddler-size spider webs that adorned front porches and yards all over town. Luckily, because Grace was so young, my fiancé, Brody Sutherland, and I still had full control over what she wore. He wanted to dress her as a witch, while I was leaning toward a cute bunny. After a heated discussion in the back aisle of a costume shop on Colfax in Denver, where the three of us had gone for a quick weekend getaway in late September, we split the difference and…

Laurence MacNaughton | My Funny (and Totally True) Ghost Story
Author Guest / October 15, 2019

The funniest ghost story I’ve ever heard is actually a true story. I know, because it happened to me. First, a little context. Here in Colorado, we have our fair share of spooky history. First off, there’s the Stanley Hotel, which inspired Stephen King to scare the pants off of generations of readers with The Shining. In real life, the hotel’s creaky halls are supposedly haunted by restless spirits. Four of them, in fact–named Lucy, Paul, Elizabeth, and Eddie, if you believe everything you read. Now, I don’t know how scared I can personally be of a ghost named after Frasier Crane’s dog, but there you go. Right in the heart of Denver, there’s Cheesman Park, a sunny and popular picnicking spot bordered by pricey real estate, and also built on an abandoned cemetery, where unsuspecting landscapers occasionally dig up Wild West-era skeletons. And you thought your Mondays were rough. And we’re not even going to talk about the Museum of Colorado Prisons, certainly the creepiest stone-walled structure for five hundred miles. I’m not sure why anyone visits this place. Maybe because one of the colorful inmates was a convicted cannibal? Because there is that. No, what fascinates me most…

Davis Bunn | Exclusive Interview: UNSCRIPTED
Author Guest / October 14, 2019

Welcome to Fresh Fiction! Please tell us a little about yourself and your latest novel, UNSCRIPTED. These past several years have been a time of transition for me.  After writing with Janette Oke for going on a decade, she retired.  I decided this was my last-best opportunity to do what I had always dreamed of ‘someday’ – writing for the screen as well as novels.  So I obtained a degree in screenwriting and got to work. UNSCRIPTED is the outcome of these first experiences within the film world. Both of the main characters are trying to prove something about themselves – Danny, that he wasn’t at fault for what landed him in jail and restart his career, and Megan, to show she can do things on her terms and still be successful. Talk a little bit about what their struggles tell readers about them as people.  There is a saying you often hear in the film world:  ‘Hollywood likes to bury their dead while they are still breathing.’  I think Clark Gable was the first to say this, but I’m not sure.  Anyway, what they mean by this is, many people are looking for an excuse to write you off.  To be…

James R. Hannibal | Double Feature Mashups
Author Guest / September 30, 2019

Ask any marriage counselor and they’ll tell you the top three reasons couples fight are money, mothers-in-law, and what to watch on movie night. Okay, I totally made that up, but those topics are up there, right? Let me spare you a few arguments with the infographic below. Even better, these are all double features. So, if you and your spouse are not into staying up super late, this list might be good for ten movie nights. Here’s a little context: I love spy movies, and I love heist movies. This came out in spades in my latest thriller, The Gryphon Heist. Review after review has called it a mashup of “Mission Impossible” and “Ocean’s Eleven,” and you don’t see me complaining. In fact, I decided to take the idea a step further. This infographic pairs ten of my personal favorites–five heist movies and five spy movies–into epic double features. As a bonus, each comes with a mashup–the movie we might have seen if the film canister contents got all jumbled up. Take a break from the movie argument, pop some corn, and enjoy. . . *** THE GRYPHON HEIST by James R. Hannibal Talia Inger is a rookie CIA…

Meg Tilly | Exclusive Excerpt: HIDDEN COVEN
Author Guest / September 30, 2019

HIDDEN COVE is the latest Solace Island novel by award-winning actress and novelist, Meg Tilly. Be sure to check out the Fresh Fiction Podcast for an exclusive interview with Meg, available TOMORROW! You can find the Fresh Fiction Podcast on Apple Podcasts or the podcatcher of your choice. Now, on with the excerpt!!  *** Gabe leaned against the boardwalk railing, tipped his head upward, and shut his eyes, enjoying the early-morning sunshine on his face. He could hear the seagulls behind him, wings flapping, and the occasional shrill caw. They were flying into the air with clams in their beaks, dropping them onto the rocks and then swooping down to eat the contents. Sometimes a wily seagull would lurk below and snatch the prize from the broken shell. Made him laugh. Reminded him of his dad. When they’d spoken this morning, his dad had sounded much improved, eager to pick Gabe’s brains about the place. “Take your time, boyo. No need to rush back. Enjoy all that the island has to offer. Beautiful women, hikes, biking, art galleries, artisan cheese makers, bakers, beautiful women . . .” His dad had repeated the last one with a laugh. “It’s all those damned yoga…

Steven Cooper | ?#@*&%! – Why I Cuss in my Writing
Author Guest / September 17, 2019

Four words into my new novel, Valley of Shadows, I drop my first f-bomb. Nine words later I drop my second f-bomb. That’s two f-bombs in a hyper-short paragraph. Don’t say you haven’t been warned. Rip the bandage off, say it upfront, and get it out of the way. I realize that one f-bomb is enough to stop some readers; two f-bombs will prompt some people to return my book to the shelf. My books are not for those people. I respect those people. But I’m not writing for those people. When I create my stories, I try to develop characters who reflect the true human condition, whose lives–their loves, their losses, their joys, their strife, their conflicts, and their celebrations–are uncensored. The human condition is uncensored. Our lives are uncensored. And, thus, so are the words in the worlds I create. I write police procedural murder mysteries. I’m a former news reporter. I’ve done ride-alongs with cops. I’ve spent endless hours with them on crime scenes. I have yet to meet a cop who doesn’t curse. In fact, in researching Valley of Shadows, I did my typical fact-checking exercise by visiting the Homicide bureau at a local law enforcement…

DiAnn Mills | 10 Ways to Deepen the Craft of Writing
Author Guest / September 6, 2019

Writers search for ways to add professionalism to their writing. They explore technique, study the how-to guides, and invest in quality software that helps them create dynamic fiction and nonfiction. The following 10 guidelines are proven methods to deepen the craft of writing. Develop three sentences describing the writing project. As difficult as this may sound, the clarity and conciseness not only help the writer focus on the writing project but also serve as a great pitch to share with others. Incorporate the five senses. Today’s readers yearn for an adventure. If the project is fiction, the reader must experience the story. If the project is nonfiction, the reader needs to be rooted in the material. Instill proper grammar. Nothing is more frustrating or throws a reader out of the experience more than poor grammar and punctuation. With textbooks and websites available to teach and correct our errors, there isn’t an excuse. My go-to editing tool is prowritingaid.com. I also value the word frequency counter at http://www.writewords.org.uk/word_count.asp. Paste a document into the site and it lists the number of times every word is used. Network with other writers. Most creative types see life with a bit of quirkiness. The truth…

Lizzy Barber | Exclusive Interview: A GIRL NAMED ANNA
Author Guest / September 6, 2019

by Teresa Cross I read that your novel, A GIRL NAMED ANNA (My Name is Anna in the UK), won the Daily Mail First Novel Competition in 2017. I can see why because I absolutely loved it! Can you share with us where your inspiration for this amazing novel came from? Thank you so much – that is such a pleasure to hear! The inspiration came from a number of different places. The idea of a child being taken from a theme park was an innate fear my mum had when I was growing up. We used to go to Disney World in Florida every year, and she had a superstition about me being snatched, based on an urban legend about children being taken from theme parks and having their shoes changed and hair cut off. Thankfully I managed to get through many a visit without this happening! I was also very interested in a rash of cases which seemed to come to light about young women who had been abducted when they were children and had been found, alive, kept captive for years. These women were all abducted when they were old enough to remember who they were – I wanted…