Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
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…

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…

Stephanie Kane | Lily Sparks’ Top Five Forgers
Author Guest / September 4, 2019

A PERFECT EYE pits Lily Sparks, a paintings conservator who was trained to believe her eye is perfect, against a forger-turned-murderer who is hiding in plain sight. When Lily zeroes in on the killer as a failed artist, she learns this: Some forgers aren’t in it for the money; they do it to prove a point. And the ones who are caught tend to meet very bad ends. Here are Lily’s top five forgers: 1 Eric Hebborn: A British painter who trained at the Royal Academy of the Arts and forged Old Master drawings. Hebborn sought revenge against the art world because critics called his works “derivative”, “labored” and “self-conscious”. In 1996, shortly before he published The Art Forger’s Handbook with tricks of the trade including modern recipes for period pigments and ink, he was attacked and killed on a street in Rome. Hebborn’s murder is still unsolved. 2 Mark Hofmann: A mild-mannered Utah Mormon (“a scholarly country bumpkin”) who forged historical documents about the Church of the Latter-Day Saints. To lull experts, Hofmann expressed doubts about the authenticity of his finds. “Do you really think it’s genuine?” he’d say. In 1985, to buy time before his forgeries were discovered,…

Elka Ray | Top 5 Things About Moving Away From Your Hometown, Then Moving Back
Author Guest / August 20, 2019

In my next book, the romantic mystery Divorce is Murder, divorce lawyer Toby Wong is forced to move back to the small town she was happy to leave. I set the series in my own hometown – a place I love, yet left – on Canada’s gorgeous Vancouver Island. Writing about Toby got me thinking about why it’s good to leave – and come home.   1) You expand your worldview Every town and neighborhood has its own culture. By the time you hit adulthood, whether you fit in or not, you understand your hometown’s norms. Maybe you grew up somewhere super conservative, the kind of place where church is mandatory and couples marry young. Or maybe your parents’ friends were constantly organizing protest marches and writing letters to Amnesty International. Whatever your reality, to you, it was normal. Now move across the country – or better still around the world. You’ll soon see that your “normal” is someone else’s “certifiably crazy”. It’s mind-blowing how differently different people interpret things. Just yesterday, in Vietnam, where I live, I met a fisherman throwing styrofoam boxes and dirty diapers into the ocean. I told him off. He told me he was cleaning…

Karin Slaughter | Exclusive Interview: THE LAST WIDOW
Author Guest / August 19, 2019

Welcome to Fresh Fiction! Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your latest book, THE LAST WIDOW. THE LAST WIDOW is a Will Trent and Sara Linton book. But I wrote the story so that you don’t have to have read any of the previous books in order to know what’s the what. The stakes for Will and Sara are higher than ever before, as Sara is in imminent danger and has to do something she’s never done before–hurt people instead of trying to help them.  Which was fun!  The plot is really twisty, turny, sexy, and dark, with some moments of levity. It has some cult stuff. Some domestic terrorism. Some family drama. And a chihuahua. Everything you want in a good thriller. THE LAST WIDOW is the 9th book in your long-running and beloved Will Trent mystery series. How do you keep this series feeling fresh after so many books? Are there any advantages or challenges to writing about characters who are already so established?  Standalone and series novels each have their own challenges. It seems like it would be easier to write a Will Trent book because I’ve known him a long time, and I’ve…

Miranda Owen | A Killer POV
Author Guest / July 8, 2019

You can read more about Fresh Fiction Senior Reviewer Miranda Owen and her reviews here! “But sometimes, the things you wanted most were the things that would destroy you.” Cynthia Eden, BOUND IN SIN In general, I’m a cozy mystery kind of a girl. I don’t usually go for movies or books that promise “high suspense.” That’s usually a turn-off for me. If a book has dog tags or a pistol on the cover the odds are that it’s probably not for me. Likewise, a film trailer or poster with some intense music or describing how the hero/heroine has a limited amount of time to defuse a bomb, rescue so-and-so, or recover the lost jewel of blah blah blah does nothing for me. I like scary movies, but usually with the violence that is cheesy and obviously fake rather than what I think of as “torture porn” – gratuitous torture scenes that don’t further the story or have us learn anything new about the baddies and generally just stick in my head like some toxic sludge that resurfaces even years later. There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. I do read some mysteries and some romances with a few…

Cate Holahan | Researching One Little Secret
Author Guest / July 8, 2019

The detective first took me to her Captain’s office.  A long-time veteran of the force, the man was older than my escort, his once dark hair bleached silver by some combination of years and stress. He considered the detective the way a grandfather might look at a particularly studious kid, his eyes betraying admiration with a touch of amusement. She was a hard-working investigator and she was being interviewed by an author. He’d known her as a beat cop. Detective Shonah Maldonado, for her part, regarded her boss with a mix of respect and gratitude. He’d believed in her when few on the force had thought the junior female officers would rise much further than patrol. Her appreciation, however, was about more than his giving her a shot. The man was smart. He’d correctly identified a need for more female detectives to handle the kinds of crimes that were all too frequently crossing his desk: domestic abuse, sexual assaults, and child endangerment. Some female victims—and perpetrators—only opened up to women. And Maldonado, with her empathetic smile and patient demeanor, was just the kind of cop who could get folks talking. That day, though, I was at the station to get…

Michele Pariza Wacek | 5 Reasons Why We Love Ghost Stories + Giveaway!
Author Guest , Giveaways / July 1, 2019

Who doesn’t love an old fashioned ghost story? Whether it’s something scary on Halloween or a frightening tale told late at night sitting around a campfire, ghost stories have been around for as long as humans have been telling stories. In fact, I’m such a fan of ghost stories I created a whole series “Secrets of Redemption” that combines the psychological thriller genre with a haunted house. (Because who doesn’t love a haunted house? Except … is the house even haunted? Hmmm.) And, to celebrate the launch of the 3rd book The Evil That Was Done in my award-winning “Secrets of Redemption” series, I thought I’d dive into the question of why ARE we so obsessed with ghosts. Below are five reasons to help explain our ghostly fascinations: 1. Overall, stories provide a safe container for us to feel our emotions. So many of us spend our lives trying to push our uncomfortable emotions away (such as sadness and worry and shame), or numb them or run away from them or whatever it takes to not feel them. The problem with that is if we aren’t feeling our difficult emotions, we also aren’t feeling our joyful, happy emotions. And, as…