Regina Kyle | Aaron Sorkin’s 5 Tips to Writing Dialogue

Hello, Fresh Fiction readers! This is my first time on the Fresh Fiction blog, and I’m super excited to be here. I’m celebrating the release of TRIPLE SCORE, but it’s a bit bittersweet, as it’s the final book in my Art of Seduction series and my final book for Harlequin Blaze.

I’ve loved writing for Blaze. I like the sexual tension. I like the heat when that tension explodes. But most of all, I like the snappy dialogue.

Yep, dialogue’s my jam. I live for lively banter, witty repartee, the perfect parting remark. My idol is Aaron Sorkin, who wrote masterpieces like TV’s West Wing and Newsroom and movies Moneyball and The American President. His dialogue sparkles. It’s musical, reflective, funny, smart. Like this gem from The Social Network:

Lawyer: Mr. Zuckerberg, do I have your full attention?

Mark Zuckerberg: No.

Lawyer: Do you think I deserve it?

Mark Zuckerberg: What?

Lawyer: Do you think I deserve your full attention?

Mark Zuckerberg: I had to swear an oath before we began this deposition, and I don’t want to perjure myself, so I have a legal obligation to say no.

Lawyer: Okay – no. You don’t think I deserve your attention.

Mark Zuckerberg: I think if your clients want to sit on my shoulders and call themselves tall, they have the right to give it a try – but there’s no requirement that I enjoy sitting here listening to people lie. You have part of my attention – you have the minimum amount. The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook, where my colleagues and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients, are intellectually or creatively capable of doing. [pause] Did I adequately answer your condescending question?

Brilliant, right? So I thought I’d share with you five lessons I learned on writing dialogue from the great Mr. Sorkin:

  1. Dialogue isn’t conversation. Conversation is boring. It’s the mundane, inane stuff we talk about every day. Dialogue either moves the plot forward or reveals something important about the characters.
  1. Realistic is different from real. This kind of goes along with the first point. In real life, our speech is filled with “ums” and “ers” and false starts and stops. That doesn’t mean you can’t use some for emphasis, like to show a character is nervous or hesitant. Just use them sparingly, and for good reason. And my personal pet peeve: writers who avoid using contractions in dialogue. That’s how we speak, folks. Use ’em.
  1. Think about who’s talking. Men speak differently from women (usually less, sexist, I know, but true nonetheless). Cowboys speak different from CEOs, 20-somethings differently from 60-somethings. If you’re writing a character type that’s new to you, go hang out where you’d find similar folks. Listen to them. Or if you can’t do that, go on line, watch some YouTube videos. There’s a wealth of information on the world wide web.
  1. Write the spoken words first, then worry about the actions and tags. I find my dialogue flows more realistically when I write it first like a script or a screenplay, just the dialogue. Then I go back and add in actions or tags to help identify who’s talking. And where I can, I like to use actions rather than tags to keep things moving and show how my characters are feeling rather than tell.
  1. Read it aloud. Again, like a script or a screenplay, read the dialogue bits out loud. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can spot the sections that don’t trip over the tongue the right way.

That’s just five quick points. I could wax on forever about the lessons Mr. Sorkin has taught me. Fortunately for you, I won’t. But I’ve got to admit that I get a little thrill whenever a reviewer praises my “witty, intelligent” banter because I know it means I’m that tiniest bit closer to emulating the master.

GIVEAWAY: What author’s dialogue makes you smile? One commenter will get a copy of TRIPLE TIME, the second book in the Art of Seduction series.

About Regina Kyle

Regina Kyle

Regina Kyle knew she was destined to be an author when she won a writing contest at age ten with a touching tale about a squirrel and a nut pie. By day, she writes dry legal briefs, representing the state in criminal appeals. At night, she writes steamy romance with heart and humor.

A lover of all things theatrical, Regina lives on the Connecticut coast with her husband, teenage daughter and two melodramatic cats. When she’s not writing, she’s most likely singing, reading, cooking or watching bad reality television. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America and of her local RWA chapter.

The Art of Seduction

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TRIPLE SCORE by Regina Kyle

Art of Seduction #4

Triple Score

Knowing the score…

Prima ballerina Noelle Nelson needs to recover from her injury and return to the stage. She won’t consider failure…or be distracted by baseball’s resident bad boy, Jace Monroe. His tattoos, wicked smile and deliciously athletic body might drive her crazy, but a media frenzy is the last thing this good girl needs.

Jace is sick with fear that his own injury will never heal, but he’s not about to let anyone notice, especially the gorgeous blonde dancer he loves to infuriate. He’s pushing himself past his physical capacity, putting his future at risk. Still, when it comes to making a play for Noelle, Jace is in scoring position—and he’s not going to back down!

Romance Erotica Sensual | Romance Contemporary [Harlequin Blaze, On Sale: July 19, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780373799107 / eISBN: 9781488000317]

The Art of Seduction

TRIPLE THREAT
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TRIPLE TIME
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Jaime Jo Wright | When An Animal Becomes a Critical Character

I’ve always loved animals, but never to the degree of extreme devotion and dedication as say . . . my administrative assistant. Her beloved dogs have their own television, and she cooks them homemade macaroni and cheese. I’ve teased her that I’d love to be one of her dogs, and she invited me to do so anytime. (This is why I love her!). But I do love animals. I have two cats, Maddie and Ivy, and they are spoiled in their own right. I did crack some eggs for them this morning to dine upon as they overlooked the woods outside our house. And frogs. We have four frogs. This is what my children gift me with. Amphibians.

But think about it. When animals make their way into stories, it always seems to add depth and a richness that we can all relate to. Some of the great classics are centered around animals. Or at least they’re classics in my mind. Old Yeller, Rascal, Where the Red Fern Grows . . . animals become critical characters in books. They bring an element of endearment, sentiment, and snuggle into a story that human characters often cannot achieve.

In my most recent story, Gold Haven Heiress, part of The California Gold Rush Romance Collection, the animal that made its way into my heroine’s heart is a mouse. Hiding in a gold mining ghost town, Thalia has no human connection, and finding comfort in an independent little mouse wasn’t exactly what she expected. But Ounce the Mouse becomes an integral part to understanding who Thalia is. Ounce brings out some of her deepest fears. With his bright little black eyes and fuzzy little body, he overcomes the stereotype of fear the mouse and instead, brings companionship to a lonely, washed up prostitute who doesn’t believe she’s worthy of companionship. Least of which, from a mouse.

Whether it’s a mouse, a dog, a cat, or a … frog … something about the life that beats in the bodies of these creatures inspires life in a story. Even Finding Nemo inspires us. The courage, overcoming fear, and the necessity to reunite with a loved one. We place human emotion into an animal, and honestly, sometimes I swear, we’re not that far off. As a child, when I was especially sad, my black lab was fast to fix herself by my side. As a teen, my cat Pepper would bring me little “gifts” of – um – food, as though I were her kitten and she must care for me. Strangely, I felt cared for. Loved even. Maybe that is the crux of why I believe an animal deepens a story. Animals love without condition.

This is something we all long for. Unconditional love. And while a good story will often bring that out in its hero and heroine with a story of redemption, saving, protection, and camaraderie, an animal fills those empty places that sometimes . . . just sometimes . . . another human can never quite reach.

GIVEAWAY

What novels have you read that included an animal that touched your heart? How have animals touched your life? One reader will win a copy of California Gold Rush Romance Collection.

About Jaime Jo Wright

Jaime Jo Wright

Professional coffee drinker Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited, turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Coffee fuels her snarky personality. She lives in Neverland with her Cap’n Hook who stole her heart and will not give it back, their little fairy Tinkerbell, and a very mischievous Peter Pan. The foursome embarks on scores of adventure that only make her fall more wildly in love with romance and intrigue.

Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimejowright.com.

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THE CALIFORNIA GOLD RUSH ROMANCE COLLECTION by Jaime Jo Wright

The California Gold Rush Romance Collection

9 Stories of Finding Treasures Worth More than Gold

Rush to California after the 1848 gold discovery alongside thousands of hopeful men and women. Meet news reporters, English gentry, miners, morticians, marriage brokers, bankers, fugitives, preachers, imposters, trail guides, map makers, cooks, missionaries, town builders, soiled doves, and more people who take advantage of the opportunities to make their fortunes in places where the population swelled overnight. But can faith and romance transform lives where gold is king?

Inspirational Historical | Inspirational Romance | Romance Historical [Barbour Books, On Sale: August 1, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781634098212 / eISBN: 9781634099110]

N.J. Walters | Farmers are Heroes Too

When we think of a romance hero we usually think of a military or ex-military man, firefighter, policeman, spy, cowboy, rancher, or billionaire businessman. How often do we think of a farmer? A reader recently commented that she was both surprised and pleased that the hero of my latest book was an organic farmer. As she put it, “Farmers can be hot too.” He’s also a half-breed werewolf, but that’s another story.

I realized it’s not the first time I’ve had a hero who makes his living as a farmer. That got me to thinking about why I chose that profession for my hero. Of course the easy and true answer is, “He chose it, not me.” That’s how it works for me when I write. The characters tell me who they are and what they do for a living. I’m just taking dictation.

I think there is something intrinsically down-to-earth about a man who works the soil for a living. A natural confidence that arises from working for himself and depending on his own abilities. He must be willing to trust his instincts and adapt to changing situations. So many variables are out of his control and not everything is going to go his way so it breeds resilience and patience, as well as a healthy respect for nature and the elements. He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. Hard physical labor builds not only character but muscles too. But there is a softer side to him. A man who can coax vegetables and flowers to bloom can also cultivate an emotional bond with a woman.

What woman wouldn’t want a man with strong, callused hands, a man who is confident in who he is, a man who knows he can provide a living to those he loves through hard work, perseverance, and skill. And when that man reaches for her in the dark of the night with love in his heart, I don’t know of any woman who would be able to resist.

WOLF IN HIS HEART by N.J. Walters

Salvation Pack #7

Wolf in his Heart

He’s a wolf where it counts—in his heart and in her bed.

Exiled from her wolf pack for rejecting her parents’ choice for a mate, Rina Matheson has been on her own for over a year. Now she’s running for her life from a man who knows what she is and is obsessed with hunting her down.

Sage Gallagher—organic farmer, half-breed werewolf, and member of the Salvation Pack—finds more than a lost hiker while camping in the Great Smoky Mountains. So much more. Instant attraction slams through him with knee-buckling power the minute he sees Rina. His first instinct is to get her home where he and his pack can protect her.

Rina doesn’t trust easily. Especially not half-breeds, who she was raised to consider abominations. But Sage’s quiet strength calls to her lonely soul, and amazingly enough, her wolf responds. As he slowly works his way past her guard, she is soon in danger of losing her heart—even as danger draws closer to taking her life.

Warning: Your heart is in danger of being lost to one very special half-breed werewolf.

Romance Paranormal [Samhain, On Sale: July 5, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 9781619233690 / eISBN: 9781619233690]

About N.J. Walters

N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.

Salvation Pack

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Jennifer L. Armentrout | 5 Paranormal/Fantasy Reads for Summer

  1. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

    This is the highly anticipated sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses. The fantasy hooks you in with realistic portrayals of PSTD, something you don’t often see in paranormal and fantasy books, enough action and adventure to keep you on the edge of your seat, and a super sexy, steaming hot love story.

  2. Wildest Dreams by Kristen Ashley

    I’m a huge, obsessive fan of Kristen Ashley, having read almost all her books, with the exception of her fantasy/paranormal. I read Fantasyland book one: Wildest Dreams, and immediately fell for Frey. Never thought I’d be so attracted to the nickname ‘wee one.’ Featuring a parallel universe, a spunky heroine, and a sexy alpha male, this is a paranormal/fantasy romance that’s a must read.

  3. The Beast by JR Ward

    Those who know me, know I’m the number one Rhage fan in the world. THE WORLD, so nothing made me more excited to know that we were getting another book featuring him and Mary. It’s a great additional to their romance, sexy and sweet. I could spend all summer with Hollywood.

  4. Eternal Rider by Larissa Ione

    No one can world build quite like Larissa Ione, and her Demonica spin off series is just as amazing as its predecessors. I mean, hello, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? Sign me up! The first book follows Ares, more commonly known War, and is unique spin on the Four Horseman. It also has one of the best shower scenes ever. Ever.

  5. Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian

    Lara Adrian’s sexy vampire series kicks off with the Kiss of Midnight, one of my favorite paranormal romances. It’s a large series, so you’ll have an entire summer’s worth of reading if you start this series soon. Her vampires and their partners, both mortal and not so much mortal, have amazing storylines and the novels are full of action.

GIVEAWAY

What are YOUR top reads for the summer? Jennifer is giving away a set of her Wicked books: WICKED and TORN.

TORN by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Wicked Trilogy #2

Torn

Torn between duty and survival, nothing can be the same.

Everything Ivy Morgan thought she knew has been turned on its head. After being betrayed and then nearly killed by the Prince of the Fae, she’s left bruised and devastated—and with an earth-shattering secret that she must keep at all costs. And if the Order finds out her secret, they’ll kill her.

Then there’s Ren Owens, the sexy, tattooed Elite member of the Order who has been sharing Ivy’s bed and claiming her heart. Their chemistry is smoking hot, but Ivy knows that Ren has always valued his duty to the Order above all else—he could never touch her if he knew the truth. That is, if he let her live at all. Yet how can she live with herself if she lies to him?

But as the Fae Prince begins to close in on Ivy, intent on permanently opening the gates to the Otherworld, Ivy is running out of options. If she doesn’t figure out who she can trust—and fast—it’s not only her heart that will be torn apart, but civilization itself.

New Adult | Fantasy | Romance Paranormal [Author Self-Published, On Sale: July 19, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780986447990 / eISBN: 9780986447983]

About Jennifer L. Armentrout

Jennifer L. Armentrout

#1 New York Times and #1 International Bestselling author Jennifer Armentrout lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing, she spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV. Her young adult romantic suspense novel DON’T LOOK BACK was a 2014 nominated Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA.

She also writes Adult and New Adult contemporary and paranormal romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

LuxCovenant | Wait for You | Dark Elements | Armentrout Wicked Trilogy

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Claire Davon’s Top Five

Hello to all Fresh Fiction readers out there! This is Claire Davon, writer of Fire Danger, Elementals’ Challenge #1.

In researching the Elementals series I found many mythical creatures outside of werewolves and vampires that I thought it might be fun to show five obscure beings that are kicking around in my head as romance possibilities!

I have already written about gargoyles, lamassu, norns, huldufólk, sirens and of course Phoenix, Griffin, Ondine and Sphynx, characters from the Elementals series but there are so many more. You’ll see souls from many myths in those books which I hope enhances the fun.

Without further ado, on to the countdown!

  1. Thunderbird. For anyone who hasn’t heard of the thunderbird, this legendary North American creature flaps its wings and creates thunder, and also controls the upper world. I picture a humanoid who morphs into this amazing being. He could be the protector of a family or families, watching from a distance, until distance becomes impossible.
  2. Banshee. The Banshee’s mythological heritage dates back to pre-Christian times. Imagine your voice powerful weapon that can kill, and is feared by all who hear it. I see a banshee as a kick-ass heroine, her legacy garbled into one of evil. She would be a complex and amazing person and would need a hero as potent.
  3. Gorgon. Medusa was a hideous creature with snakes for hair, but she was one of several Gorgons. Her sisters were immortal, cursed by the gods for excessive vanity to transform into their dreadful shapes. Curses can be broken and immortal beings have a long time to learn their lessons…
  4. Kelpies. There are many horses in legend like Pegasus, centaurs, unicorns, but what about the kelpies? A horse as a main character is something I’ve tackled before in my “Water Woman” story with Kimoni, the two-horned African abada shifter. Kelpies are supposed to kill their riders but what if they were misunderstood, the myth distorted? What if they were just looking for the right…rider?
  5. Wyvern. Dragons are popular and I love them. I grew up on Anne McCaffrey’s wonderful Pern books. Wyverns are smaller than the fearsome dragons we are more familiar with. They have two legs instead of four and are the creatures often featured on heraldry shields. What would happen to a human/Wyvern hybrid? How would they get along in the world?

There you have it! There are so many great beings that this is a mere scratching of the surface. I hope to write about some of these in upcoming books or short stories. Do you have a preference? What tickles your fancy to see in print?

I am also featuring a giveaway where one lucky reader will receive $20 Amazon gift card via email.

Finally, here is a summary of Fire Danger.

All her life, a faint memory of her parents and fire has glowed at the back of Rachel Quinn’s mind. With her parents long dead, there is no one to clarify what it means.

When a gorgeous winged man rescues her from a pack of werewolves, something flares to life inside Rachel. Suddenly she can see the paranormal world around her, a world unseen by mortals. And far more complicated.

When Phoenix’s massive orange-and-red wings erupt from his back, he knows his Challenge-an age-old battle against his Demonos counterpart-is upon him. Heeding Rachel’s cry for help adds a layer of complexity never seen in any previous Challenge.

Rachel, they discover, isn’t entirely human. Like Phoenix, she commands fire. Fire calls to fire, and soon they are succumbing to a fierce attraction. As the Challenge bears down on them, though, Phoenix must discover what the Demonos has in store for mankind. If he doesn’t succeed, the entire world will be swallowed up in darkness-and Rachel along with it.

Thank you for your interest in my blog. Happy reading!

Claire Davon

About Claire Davon

Claire Davon

Claire now lives in Los Angeles, so many of her stories are set there, too. But she is originally from Brookline, Massachusetts, so that location frequently pops up in her work, too. Claire spends her free time writing, doing animal rescue, and enjoying the sunshine. She specializes in writing romances of all kinds and never shies away from the “between the sheets” elements!

The first in her Elementals’ Challenge series, called “Fire Danger” was released by Samhain Publishing on June 21, 2016. It is the first but definitely won’t be the last in this exciting paranormal world!

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FIRE DANGER by Claire Davon

Fire Danger

All her life, a faint memory of her parents and fire has glowed at the back of Rachel Quinn’s mind. With her parents long dead, there is no one to clarify what it means.

When a gorgeous winged man rescues her from a pack of werewolves, something flares to life inside Rachel. Suddenly she can see the paranormal world around her, a world unseen by mortals. And far more complicated.

When Phoenix’s massive orange-and-red wings erupt from his back, he knows his Challenge-an age-old battle against his Demonos counterpart-is upon him. Heeding Rachel’s cry for help adds a layer of complexity never seen in any previous Challenge.

Rachel, they discover, isn’t entirely human. Like Phoenix, she commands fire. Fire calls to fire, and soon they are succumbing to a fierce attraction. As the Challenge bears down on them, though, Phoenix must discover what the Demonos has in store for mankind. If he doesn’t succeed, the entire world will be swallowed up in darkness-and Rachel along with it.

Warning: When the mortal and the Elemental worlds collide, the resulting smoke could cause heart palpitations, teary eyes, and a sudden need to fan yourself. Keep a cooler of cold drinks handy.

Romance Paranormal [Samhain, On Sale: June 21, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 9781619235113 / eISBN: 9781619235113]

Richard Laymon | Exclusive Excerpt ALLHALLOW’S EVE

The ten o’clock news came on, so Clara knew it was time for Alfred to come in. She used her remote to turn off the television, then picked up her cane and hobbled out to the kitchen. She opened the back door.

A chilly wind blew against her. She took a deep breath of the fresh October air, and peered across her yard.

“Al-l-l-fred!” she called.

Generally, she would hear the clink of his collar tags before ever seeing him. She listened, but heard only the dry shuffling of leaves on the graveyard trees.

“Al-l-l-fred?”

Careful not to fall—her broken hip last year had laid her up good and proper for five months—she stepped down the three wooden stairs to the yard. She made her way across the moonlit lawn, and stopped at the edge of her flowerbed. From there, she peered through the bars of the cemetery fence. So dark over there, the trees shading the moon.

“Al-l-l-l-fred!” she called. Much too loudly. She imagined heads rising in their coffins, turning—corpses listening to her voice. Softly, she called, “Here, kitty-kitty-kitty.”

Her eyes searched the darkness.

Saw a solitary figure near the cemetery fence.

Gasping, she took a quick step backwards. Her foot slipped on the dewy grass. She jabbed down her cane, and caught her balance.

“Dear me,” she muttered.

She looked again at the dark figure—the stone angel of a monument she’d seen thousands of times before, in daylight. The graveyard looked so different at night. She didn’t like it, not one bit. She should’ve stayed in the doorway to call Alfred, the way she always did after dark.

“You just stay out,” she muttered, “if that’s your drother.”

She turned away from the cemetery, and started her journey back to the open kitchen door. She hurried. The back of her neck tingled with gooseflesh, and she knew it wasn’t the wind’s doing.

I’m just being silly, she thought. That graveyard’s safe as apple pie. I’m just letting my jitters get the best of me.

Never yet been a corpse crawl out of its hole and go chasing after live folks. It’s not hardly about to start happening tonight.

Fur brushed her leg, and she yelped.

Alfred scampered up the porch steps, stopped abruptly in the doorway, and looked over his shoulder at Clara.

“You rascal,” she said,

She took a deep, shaky breath, and pressed a hand to her chest.

“Scared my wits out,” she told him.

She started to climb the steps.

That was when she heard a quiet, muffled clank rather like a crowbar dropping onto a wooden floor. Staring at Alfred, she hardly breathed.

The cat turned away, as if bored. He disappeared into the kitchen. Clara hurried in after him. She swung the kitchen door shut, and locked it.

Alfred sat down in front of the refrigerator. He looked back at Clara.

“Not just now,” Clara whispered.

Turning off the kitchen light, she limped into the dining room. She made her way past her highboy. The room was dark, but she saw no use in planting herself smack in front of the window where she just might be seen—so she approached the window from its side.

If she just had one of those cardboard periscopes like Willy used to play with… Well, you couldn’t ever see much with that contraption, anyhow.

Bracing herself on the cane, she leaned toward the window. She eased aside the soft, priscilla curtains and peered out.

The Sherwood house, next door, looked no different from usual. The old colonial was just as dreary and forlorn as could be: its driveway and lawn overgrown, its siding sadly in need of paint, its windows boarded over.

Though she couldn’t see its front door from here, she knew it was padlocked shut. So was the brick door. Glendon Morley, the real estate man, had the only keys.

Maybe he’d gone in, for some reason. Didn’t seem likely, though. He hadn’t come by with house-hunters since July, and Clara suspected he’d given up on trying to foist off the place. Who’d want to live there, after what happened?

If it wasn’t Glendon in the house, though, who could it be?

ALLHALLOW’S EVE by Richard Laymon

Allhallow's Eve

This sleepy town may never recover from this nightmare. Every town has as a past but the grizzly murder of the Sherwood family is one the small town of Ashburg barely recovered from. The Sherwood house has remained vacant for years so who is sending out invitations for a party there? The townspeople are intrigued and who can resist a party at the murder house on Allhallow’s Eve?

This title was previously published in 1985.

Horror [Samhain Publishing, On Sale: June 7, 2016, e-Book (reprint), ISBN: 9781619233355 / eISBN: 9781619233355]

About Richard Laymon

Richard Laymon

Richard Laymon was born in Chicago and grew up in California. He earned a BA in English Literature from Willamette University, Oregon and an MA from Loyola University, Los Angeles. He worked as a schoolteacher, a librarian, and a report writer for a law firm, and was the author of more than thirty acclaimed novels.

He also published more than sixty short stories in magazines such as Ellery Queen, Alfred Hitchcock, and Cavalier, and in anthologies including Modern Masters of Horror.

He died from a massive heart attack on February 14, 2001 (Valentine’s Day).

Also published under the name Richard Kelly.

Exclusive Excerpt: DEMON OF VENGEANCE by Brenda Huber

Exclusive Excerpt for Fresh Fiction:

“Please, please, do not tell me I just missed her!”

The balding little man behind the counter jumped at Sebastian’s tone. Sweat beaded the clerk’s brow as he fidgeted with a stack of travel brochures. “Well, I’m sorry, but you have.” He hitched a thumb over his shoulder toward the window behind him. “In fact, there she goes now.”

The edge of the countertop cracked beneath Sebastian’s fingertips as he watched the twin engine Cessna taxi down the runway. He’d chased that double damned woman all over this Godforsaken town. Port August, Michigan had become his own personal version of limbo from which it seemed he could not escape. A never ending loop of always being one step behind the cursed woman and never lucky enough to quite catch up. The storm brewing inside him boiled closer to the surface as the front wheels of the plane left the tarmac.

Breathe, Sebastian reminded himself.

And there she went, slipping through his fingers.Again. A red haze winked over his vision for a moment. The little gnome took a cautious step back, sweat streaming down the sides of his smooth forehead now, his eyes wide as saucers behind thick rimmed spectacles.

Just breathe.

Sebastian let out a really, really long breath. His palms sizzled. The little man behind the counter took another step back. The colorful pamphlets in his shaking hands spilled across the counter and fluttered to the floor.

Going demonic and decimating the small airport wouldn’t bring the wayward professor back. Nor would it make him feel any better…at least it wouldn’t once he’d retaken his human form and his conscience caught up to him.

In demonic form, he’d definitely enjoy himself.

Probably a little too much.

Seething, Sebastian turned, stalked from the building, and climbed inside the car he’d “borrowed”. Keeping his temper in check took far more control than he was comfortable admitting. Halfway across the parking lot, his phone began ringing. His temper clicked up another notch. He was in no mood to deal with anyone else’s problems today. And that would be the only reason any of the others would call him. Either the proverbial shit had hit the fan, or it was about to. He jerked the device from his pocket and checked the display.

DEMON OF VENGEANCE by Brenda Huber

Chronicles of the Fallen #4

Demon of Vengeance

“A legendary sword isn’t the only thing this merciless demon desires…”

Possessed of immeasurable patience and an unrelenting drive for justice, Sebastian, the Demon of Vengeance, has finally met his match.

His mission is to keep the new Guardian safe until the Sword of Kathnesh is retrieved, but the aggravating woman insists on throwing herself into harm’s way at every opportunity.

Finding the sacred relic is Phoebe Mackenzie’s task, and protecting it is her family’s legacy. But when Sebastian resorts to magic to save her life, he unwittingly exposes a secret sealed deep within her-and paints a target on her back no demon can resist.

As Phoebe fights to hold on to her identity, Sebastian’s oldest nemesis vows to use any and all means to force Sebastian into a fight to the death-including targeting his mate. Sebastian will do whatever it takes to preserve the barriers between Earth and Hell. But in unleashing the raging storm inside him, he risks losing the woman he loves.

“Warning: Contains a cunning demon notorious for his methodical patience and unquenchable thirst for revenge, and the one woman capable of pushing him past the breaking point. And so continues the journey of six fallen demons and the women who have captured their hearts.”

Romance Paranormal [Samhain, On Sale: June 28, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 9781619235434 / eISBN: 9781619235434]

About Brenda Huber

Brenda Huber

For as long as she can remember, Brenda Huber has been a voracious reader…and with that love of reading came a great desire to write. Crafting worlds where passion and danger lurk around every corner became a calling for Brenda. After all, what better place to set your imagination free than inside the pages of a good book? Brenda lives in Iowa with her husband, two children, and one very spoiled dog.

Chronicles of the Fallen

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Miranda Liasson | When the Bad Boy’s the Right Boy

Have you ever dated the wrong guy for the right reasons? That’s my heroine Samantha Rushford’s problem in my newest lighthearted, sexy small town romance THIS LOVING FEELING. She craves stability, and all she wants is the white-picket-fence dream of a normal home and family life. She’s dating a man who seems to be “Mr. Right”: he’s ivy-league educated, from an old New England family, has ambitious political aspirations…

The thing I had the most fun with when I wrote This Loving Feeling was toying with that notion—that the perfect-on-paper guy isn’t at all, and the across-the-tracks, biker, tatted-up auto mechanic who got shuffled from one foster home to another for years is actually the Hero with the Heart of Gold.

Here’s why I think Lukas Spikonos (rhymes with the island Mykonos), the “wrong” guy, is really the rightest guy of all for Sam (and I hope you’ll think so too):

  • He’s bold and audacious, which is just what Sam needs, because she’s taken the tame, quiet path in life to make up for her previously unwise choices. At the beginning of the book, Lukas shows up to sing at her high school class’s prom…but then he calls Sam up on stage…to sing! And then kisses her. She’s outraged! She’s shocked! But part of her also liked that kiss…a lot.
  • He charms her school kids by showing up at their car wash fundraiser and singing. He even lets them wash his tour bus J
  • He has no clue how to be a father to his nephew Stavros (Stevie). But he treats that child with love and tenderness—and it’s eventually Stevie who shows him that you don’t have to have a great childhood to be a great parent.
  • He’s hot! He’s got a snake tattoo curled around one arm, a sleeve tattoo on his other arm, and he’s six-feet-plus of pure Greek hotness. Who can resist?
  • He dresses up as a clown for a kids’ birthday party when the regular clown is too drunk to perform so he can prove to Sam he’ll stop at nothing to get near her. He also clowns around with her, but she dishes it right back. That scene is one of my favorites!
  • He’s not above fighting for Sam with all he’s got.
  • Ultimately, Lukas must face the ultimate test. Because he’s a man for whom success means everything. He’s made it on his own by being a tireless workaholic, and he feels that he was a nothing before he made it. But I’m not going to spoil what happens with that…you’ll have to read the book to find out :-)

THIS LOVING FEELING by Miranda Liasson

Mirror Lake #3

This Loving Feeling

Samantha Rushford’s future looks bright: the high school art teacher is getting ready to leave Mirror Lake and move to Boston with her ambitious boyfriend, and she hopes a diamond ring is just around the corner. But her past still has a hold on her—especially the bittersweet memory of her rebellious ex, who kissed her passionately before he left town without a word.

Since then, Lukas Spikonos has parlayed his rebel ways into life as an up-and-coming recording artist. When he shows up for a surprise gig at the high school prom, Sam is more dumbstruck than starstruck—he used the words of a poem she wrote about their breakup to create a number one hit. But Lukas hasn’t returned just to impress students; he’s facing some real-life responsibilities and needs Sam’s help. But she has her own unresolved issues about the life she wants to lead. Will the music—and the pull of true love and family—put their hearts back in harmony?

Romance Contemporary [Montlake, On Sale: July 19, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781503937307 / ]

About Miranda Liasson

Miranda Liasson

Miranda Liasson loves to write stories about courageous but flawed characters who find love despite themselves, because there’s nothing like a great love story. And if there are a few laughs along the way, even better! She’s a former Golden Heart winner who writes lighthearted contemporary romance for Montlake Publishing and also writes series romance for Entangled Publishing.

She lives in the Midwest with her husband, three kids, and Posey, a rescue cat with attitude.

Mirror Lake

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Melissa West | The shift in New Adult

The New Adult category began with pretty simple specs: 18-25, college, exploring the theme of girls and boys becoming men and women and the trials that can pop up through that discovery. But where the category might have begun in college—and some are still set there—there has been a gradual shift to post-college storylines or stories less about college and more about people working their way through life…and often finding love along the way.

This move has made it easier for contemporary romance readers to take chances on NA romance, because the storylines are not so dissimilar now. A twenty-four-year old finding her way through her first real job could be a NA title or it could be a contemporary romance. But regardless of where it’s slotted, a fan of contemporary romance may grab this book without as much hesitation. There are lighter story options now, with less angst and more humor, something rarely seen five years ago in the NA world.

So we have the new professional athlete stories, the first jobs, the first time getting fired, the first time Mom and Dad aren’t there to save them. And perhaps these firsts are as defining to the category as anything else. After all, it’s called “new adult” for a reason, and these characters are discovering, as so many of us have discovered, that being an adult isn’t always as free or amazing as one might believe!

NO FALLING ALLOWED by Melissa West

No Falling Allowed

My life just went South…

Twenty-four hours. That’s how long it took my life to flip upside down.

Wake up in bed alone after the best night of my life? Check.

Get fired instead of the promised promotion? Check.

Wealthy parents cut me off when I refuse to follow their path for my life? Check.

Now I’m in Cricket Creek, SC—a place where no New Yorker belongs—disowned and broke, with a new job that I can’t mess up. Oh yeah, and staring at my one-night stand, who happens to be the complete opposite of my type.

Southern.

Cocky.

Bartender.

Noah Hunter never should have made it back to my apartment in NYC, and I definitely shouldn’t be in his small town. But fate had another plan. Or a horrible sense of humor.

Who knew Mr. Wrong could feel so right…

Romance Contemporary | New Adult [Entangled Select, On Sale: July 18, 2016, e-Book, ISBN: 9781682812426 / eISBN: 9781633756786]

About Melissa West

Melissa West

Melissa West writes heartfelt Southern romance and teen sci-fi romance, all with lots of kissing. Because who doesn’t like kissing? She lives outside of Atlanta, GA with her husband and two daughters and spends most of her time writing, reading, or fueling her coffee addiction.

Hamilton Stables

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DiAnn Mills | Viewing Movies to Plot Your Novel

Well-written movies stir my creative juices.

I envision sitting around a table with a team of creative writers to pen the best characters (and who’d play the roles), thrilling plot, distinct dialogue, amazing setting, powerful emotive conflict, intriguing symbolism, and everything else that makes a great movie.

Then reality hovers over me, and I realize I probably won’t be writing any award-winning movie scripts, but I can write the best romantic suspense novel possible. I use the following questions to measure the quality of movies and learn how to develop my craft in the process. If you’re a fan of Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, you’ll recognize his superior hand in some of these questions. Let me know what you think.

  1. Describe the protagonist (s).
  2. Describe the antagonist (s).
  3. What is the story problem?
  4. What makes the story problem or goal an impossibility?
  5. How does it grow worse?
  6. What happens in the first doorway?
  7. What happens in the middle?
  8. Where are your sympathies?
  9. Is there a betrayal? How is it depicted?
  10. Does the plot have unusual twists? Describe.
  11. Is there vulnerability? Describe
  12. Is there selfishness or greed? Describe
  13. Does anyone make a sacrifice? How and who?
  14. What character (s) have captured your heart?
  15. What happens at the climax?
  16. Were you pleased with the ending? Why or why not?
  17. How would you turn this movie into your novel?

Are you ready to watch your favorite movie with pen and paper?

About DiAnn Mills

DiAnn Mills

Expect an Adventure

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association; International Thriller Writers, and the Faith, Hope, and Love chapter of Romance Writers of America. She is co-director of The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

Call of Duty | FBI: Houston | FBI Task Force

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About DEADLY ENCOUNTER

Deadly Encounter

Airport Ranger volunteer Stacy Broussard expected a peaceful Saturday morning ride around the perimeter of Houston’s airport. What she encounters instead is a brutal homicide and a baffling mystery. Next to the body is an injured dog, the dead man’s motorcycle, and a drone armed with a laser capable of taking down a 747.

Though FBI Special Agent Alex LeBlanc sees a clear-cut case of terrorism, his past has taught him to be suspicious of everyone, even witnesses. Even bleeding-heart veterinarians like Stacy. But when her gruesome discovery is only the first in a string of incidences that throw her life into a tailspin, Alex begins to wonder if Stacy was targeted. As a health emergency endangers Stacy’s community, and the task force pulls in leads from all directions, Alex and Stacy must work together to prevent another deadly encounter.

Buy DEADLY ENCOUNTER: Amazon.com | Kindle | BN.com | iTunes/iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Powell’s Books | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR