Sarah Hilary | Five Tips for Suspense
Author Guest / June 30, 2014

Alfred Hitchcock drew a useful distinction between shock and suspense. Shock, he said, would be a bomb going off without warning at the family breakfast table. But if you show your audience the bomb in advance, and if you intercut that with images of the oblivious family breakfasting, if you juxtapose the normality with the horror in store – then you have suspense. I try to keep this rule in mind when I’m writing. Here are five tips for how I created suspense in SOMEONE ELSE’S SKIN.   #1 Be visceral This is about engaging the reader senses – taste, touch, sound, smell – but it’s also about pulling the reader headlong into the story, getting under their skin, making their pulse race. In SOMEONE ELSE’S SKIN, I put Marnie Rome’s sidekick into a deadly situation towards the end of the book. Noah Jake is in danger, in pain, afraid for his life. I kept the chapters short. I ditched conventional sentence structure. Got right inside his head. We’re as scared as he is that he might die, and not a nice death. #2 Keep it real Having horrors in store for your characters is all well and good, but…

Victoria Hamilton | Quirky Characters in the Cozy Mystery
Author Guest / June 30, 2014

One of my favorite mystery series of all time is Joan Hess’s Maggody series. She is the master of creating weird, wild, and yet lovable characters. Anyone who has taken the trip to Maggody, Arkansas and lived a while among the Buchanons knows exactly what I mean. I’ve read all the titles, and some more than once. So when I set out to create the folks of Autumn Vale, New York, for the Merry Muffin Mystery series, it was with an eye to creating a unique world of people who had lived in an insulated environment for so long they had kind of a short hand in dealing with each other. Merry Wynter, I figured, would arrive like a visitor to a foreign country; she doesn’t speak the language and she isn’t sure how to deal with the natives. I carefully say it was with an eye to creating it, because I found in writing the books that my own style, so thoroughly grounded in reality, didn’t lend itself to the wonderfully weird characterizations that Hess manages. It could easily have become a case of an author shooting for the stars and managing only to launch a few bottle rockets….

Heather McCollum | Giving Birth to Characters
Author Guest / June 28, 2014

I’m thrilled to be here today on Fresh Fiction in honor of my newly released historical, paranormal romance, CRIMSON HEART! CRIMSON HEART is my ninth completed full-length novel and the third in the Highland Hearts series (which also contains two novellas). The circle of family and friends in the magical world of the Macbains and Munros continues to grow. Every time I turn around a hero and heroine from an earlier book have created another baby (those virile Highland warriors tend to do that) and wa la – I have new characters to raise. It’s extremely important that all of these characters (both people and animals) are fully colored in with untold (or eventually told) past baggage, oddities, and personal preferences. Otherwise they fall flat as cardboard cut-outs or stereotypes (yawn – close book). So just as our infinitely diverse gene pool stirs up new human beings, we writers must shape our unique characters. Where do all these little persona details come from? My characters are mosaics, built from personality shards of every creature I have encountered mixed with a generous portion of my own vivid imagination and past experiences. Characters are everywhere. I used to have weekly coffee with a…

Cindy Thomson | The Art of Storytelling
Author Guest / June 27, 2014

In my upcoming novel ANNIE’S STORIES, Annie is mourning the loss of her father, Marty Gallagher, who was a well-respected seanchaí. A seanchaí is an Irish storyteller. My favorite historical resource on Ireland is A Smaller Social History of Ancient Ireland by P.W. Joyce, a second edition published in 1908. Here is what Joyce had to say about storytellers: “There were professional shanachies and poets whose duty it was to know by heart numerous old tales, poems, and historical pieces, and to recite them, at festive gatherings, for the entertainment of the chiefs and their guests…for though few could read, the knowledge and recitation of poetry and stories reached the whole body of the people. This ancient institution of story-telling held its ground both in Ireland and Scotland down to a period within living memory.” All cultures have storytellers for the same reason: literacy was not always common. What better way to convey information than with a story? You may have read about this tradition in books such as Frank Delaney’s Ireland. The tradition of Irish storytelling was still very strong into the late nineteenth century, so I decided to make that a part of my novel ANNIE’S STORIES. Annie’s…

Jennifer Beckstrand | Trials in Motherhood
Author Guest / June 27, 2014

I love being a mom, but I have to admit that motherhood involves many unpleasantries (which according to my spell check, is not a word). My two least favorite things about being a mom are potty training and driver’s training. Potty training was the single biggest test of my patience as a mother. First of all, it’s hard to know when your toddler, who can’t cross the street by herself, is ready to use the toilet. Some of us just hope we can manage it by the time our kids enter kindergarten. Potty training my boys, I often carried the faint scent of urine with me when I went out in public. But don’t get me started on boys and their bathroom habits. What girl would stand on the bathroom counter and try to hit the toilet from three feet up? I always thought I would rather have a root canal than potty train one of my children. Well, I’ve potty-trained six children and have yet to experience a root canal. Even though driver’s training is not usually messy or stinky, it carries the added hazard that YOU COULD DIE. I do not do well under these working conditions. I…

Fresh Pick | THE SEDUCTION OF SARAH MARKS by Kathleen Bittner Roth
Fresh Pick / June 26, 2014

Fresh Pick for Thursday, June 26th, 2014 is THE SEDUCTION OF SARAH MARKS by Kathleen Bittner Rothwidth:200px; Entangled Scandalous June 2014 On Sale: June 9, 2014 ISBN: 1622666992 EAN: 9781622666997 Kindle: B00KF2XWQ2 e-Book Add to Wish List Romance Historical Buy A Copy Amazon.com Kindle BN.com Powell’s Books Indiebound The Seduction of Sarah Marks by Kathleen Bittner Roth England 1857 After a blow to her head, Sarah Marks awakens in a strange bed with a strange man and no memory of how she got there. Her handsome bedmate, Lord Eastleigh, tells her she’s suffering from amnesia and the best course of action is to travel home with him until she recovers her memory. Lord Eastleigh has his own reasons for helping Sarah and keeping her close. Reasons he cannot tell her. As they struggle to restore her memory, their undeniable, inadvisable attraction grows – until Sarah finally remembers the one thing that could keep them apart forever. Previous Picks

Susan Mallery Discusses UNTIL WE TOUCH
Author Guest / June 26, 2014

1. In what ways do you think every woman can relate to Larissa Owens? Larissa is a sweetie. She’s not rich; she’s working as a personal assistant and personal masseuse for Jack. She gets to go to work in yoga pants and touch sexy guys all over. (Dream job!) UNTIL WE TOUCH is my nod to the boss/secretary story, one of my favorite kinds of romance. Larissa has a pure heart, and when she sees someone hurting, she doesn’t just think about helping. She does help, with whatever resources are available to her. Fortunately for her, since she’s been working for Jack, he has allowed her to use his wealth and connections in service to her causes. In fact, he likes it. With Larissa using his money to try to save the world, he can feel like a part of something without actually putting himself out there. It’s a very comfortable arrangement for them both… until Larissa’s mom tells Jack that Larissa is in love with him, and everything changes. 2. What about Jack McGarry makes him like no leading man we’ve ever seen before in Fool’s Gold? I think what makes people relatable—both in fiction and in life—are our…

Katee Robert | When Horror Movies Inspire Sci-Fi Romance
Author Guest / June 26, 2014

Like so many other authors, most of the time I have some sort of playlist ready to go while I’m writing. Pandora is totally my BFF during those times. But, every once and awhile, a book decides it’s going to be different. Sometimes it demands total silence (or what passes for it in my house) and sometimes, like QUEEN OF WANDS, it’s something else altogether. How was this book different? It wanted horror movies as a background. Seriously—horror. It took me ages to figure it out. I flipped through more songs than words, and finally just ended up putting on Scream 4 as a distraction. And, suddenly, the book was magically cooperating. I cannot begin to express how weird it is to write a sci-fi romance to the chorus of screams in the background. Or the fact that I’m not even particularly a horror fan. I like slashers and thrillers and scary stuff that makes you think, but overall I’d rather hit up an blockbuster action movie or a romantic comedy. But horror it was. Luckily, Netflix had a variety all ready and waiting for me. I wrote my heroine and hero into all sorts of trouble while characters on…

Jaime Lee Moyer | Haunted
Author Guest / June 26, 2014

Most of us love spooky stories. Everything from tales of haunted houses told around the campfire on summer nights, to tragic stories of ghosts endlessly searching for a lost love hold us rapt and invoke that delicious shiver of momentary belief.  We all know these are only stories, make-believe, but just for an instant– we wonder if they could be true. But what if you knew, really knew, that ghosts were real? What if they appeared to you every single day of your life, woke you in the middle of the night, and threatened those you love? How would you live with being haunted? That’s the question facing my main character Delia Martin and her husband, Captain Gabe Ryan, in A BARRICADE IN HELL, the second Delia Martin book. It was also the question I had to ask myself when I started writing this series of books. Ghosts seek Delia out, both the lost and confused haunts who haven’t yet realized they’re dead, and the stronger, more malevolent spirits who seek revenge, or are determined to cling to the world of the living. All of them want something from Delia. Most of what they want she can’t give. Phantoms often…

Sherri Browning | Edwardian Women
Author Guest / June 25, 2014

Like the first season of the popular TV show Downton Abbey, my new release THORNBROOK PARK is set in the Edwardian era, a time of great change in England, most especially for women. The ladies in my novel all respond differently to the progressive climate of the time. Sophia, Countess of Averford, is slow to embrace change. She’s content to read the fashion and gossip pages in the London Times and rely on her husband for political news. She isn’t exactly sure how she feels about women voting. The 1908 Summer Olympic Games in London brought an interest in outdoor sports like tennis, archery, and yachting to Edwardian women, but Sophia prefers garden parties and leisurely afternoons. Sophia maintains Victorian sensibilities in her Edwardian world. The novel’s central heroine, Eve Kendal, a recently widowed visitor at Thornbrook Park, is temporarily dependent on the charity of her friend Sophia. Eager to manage her own affairs, Eve turns down the Earl of Averford’s offer to let his solicitor look into her investments. She is not afraid to stand up for herself, and to take matters into her own hands regarding the romantic advances of Captain Marcus Thorne. Eve plays tennis, and she…