Jessika Fleck | All’s Fair in Love and War

First off, I am thrilled to be here at Fresh Fiction— I love this website! I’ve been following for a while, so, add this to the pinch-me-is-this-really-happening list for this new author.

One of my favorite things about writing YA is the relationships. Because, young love. Le sigh. So many ups and downs, butterflies and roller coaster tummy twirls. It can be exhilarating and confusing and… Bloody. Well, when you’re falling in love happens surrounded by war. In my YA debut, THE CASTAWAYS (Entangled TEEN), my main character, Olive, finds herself stranded on a middle-of-nowhere island, trapped in time and space. Now, this would be horrific enough, but there’s a decade’s long war in full-swing between two groups of kids and Olive lands smack dab in the mix of it.

Some might say that a love story doesn’t belong entwined in all of that violence and upheaval. I say, bring it. Because, let’s be honest, don’t the best war stories involve romances? If you’re not so sure, here’s a quick list off the top of my head: The Winner’s Series, Divergent, The Grisha Trilogy, Harry Potter, and Angelfall to name a few. And I’m not only talking modern literature. What about War and Peace and For Whom the Bell Tolls and Les Misérables? Can you imagine those books minus the love stories? (Hint: Don’t try. You might just fall asleep.).

Also, while it’s not a book but still very much a story, lest I forget to mention the whole Hamilton Musical phenomenon! Alexander Hamilton minus Eliza Schulyer? No torrid love affair with Maria Reynolds? Don’t even make me go there! Because when passions are high and the action is hitting the fan, even with bullets flying, the love story brings us back from the throws of war. Love humanizes characters. It strips down the shell, the rough exterior that battle built and gives us flaws and vulnerability. It softens the edges.

Conversely, imagine these particular stories minus the wars. Meh, right?

Love and war works. And it works together in perfect juxtaposition. We could go so far as to say, in these instances, they rely on and complete each other. Individually, war… love… they tell great stories, but when blended and balanced, interwoven as the perfect storm, the outcome can be quite epic. And who doesn’t want epic?

THE CASTAWAYS by Jessika Fleck

The Castaways

You’ll walk into the maze, but you won’t walk out…

Mean Girls meets Lord of the Flies in this YA contemporary fantasy.

The Castaway Carnival: fun, mysterious, dangerous.

Renowned for its infamous corn maze…and the kids who go missing in it.

When Olive runs into the maze, she wakes up on an isolated and undetectable island where a decades-long war between two factions of rival teens is in full swing.

Trapped, Olive must slowly attempt to win each of her new comrades’ hearts as Will—their mysterious, stoically quiet, and handsome leader—steals hers.

Olive is only sure about one thing: her troop consists of the good guys, and she’ll do whatever it takes to help them win the war and get back home.

Also available as a print book on Amazon.

Romance Contemporary | Fantasy [Entangled Teen, On Sale: April 3, 2017, e-Book, ISBN: 9781633759183 / ]

About Jessika Fleck

Jessika Fleck

Jessika Fleck is a writer, unapologetic coffee drinker, and knitter — she sincerely hopes to one day discover a way to do all three at once. Until then, she continues collecting vintage typewriters and hourglasses, dreaming of an Ireland getaway, and convincing her husband they NEED more kittens.

Her work verges on fantastical and dark with a touch of realism. Her YA fantasy, THE CASTAWAYS (Entangled Teen), debuts April 3, 2017. THE OFFERING (Swoon Reads/Macmillan) releases in the fall of 2018.


Gayla K. Hiss | First Meeting!

Enjoy an excerpt from AVALANCHE where the hero and heroine meet! First meetings are the best!


Fireworks exploded across the dark sky, but Jenny Snowfeather hardly noticed. The news about the cabin break-in had cast a shadow over her brother’s Fourth of July barbecue. She’d suspected a bear at first, until she learned two hunting rifles and ammo had been stolen, along with food and blankets.

A bright flash startled her.

“Watch out!” a man cried as the stray spark zoomed toward her like a small meteor.

She spun around to escape, slamming right into the man and his plate of barbecued chicken.

He grabbed her, stumbled, and pulled her with him to the ground.

A second later, the blazing miniature rocket whizzed over their heads and crashed into the lawn only a few feet away.

She squeezed her eyes shut at the near miss. When she opened them, Jenny found herself face-to-face with the handsome stranger.

His large, brown eyes stared back in surprise.

Her gaze traveled to his arm, sheltering her body.

Quickly, he withdrew it and rolled over, raising himself to his elbows. “That was a close one. Are you okay?”

She sat up and lightly brushed the grass from her blue sweater and faded jeans. “Other than a few grass stains, I’m fine.” Glancing back at him, she noticed the food plastered to his chest and smiled. “But you’re not.”

When she leaned over to flick the remnant of baked beans from his white cotton shirt, her eyes zeroed in on the holstered Glock beneath his jacket.

She drew back. “Look, I don’t know who you are or why you’re here, but nobody comes to my brother’s Fourth of July party packing a gun.”

He glanced at the exposed weapon on his belt and pulled his jacket over it. “I can explain.”

She scrambled to her feet. “Save it for Deputy Patterson. I’ll go get him.”

As she turned away, he jumped up. “Wait, Jenny, let me explain.” His voice was low and insistent.

How does he know my name?

“Are you okay, Jenny?” Billy Norton stood nearby with his grunge-style stringy hair, Nirvana T-Shirt and baggy jeans. Concern shrouded his freckled face.

The tall stranger wrapped his arm around her before she could respond. “She’s fine. Aren’t you, Jen?” He smiled at her as if they were sharing a private joke.

His bold move stunned her. And what was up with the familiar way he addressed her? No one called her Jen except her father and brother.

His disarming smile diffused her temper long enough to notice he was not much older than she, probably in his late twenties. Black, wavy hair framed his tanned, chiseled face. Like dark mirrors, his eyes flashed, pleading for her not to give him away.

She paused, then shifted her gaze to her old friend. “It’s okay, Billy.”

The crimson stain on the man’s shirt captured Billy’s attention. “What happened to you?”

The stranger glanced at his chest and returned a wry grin. “A head-on collision with a plate of barbecued chicken.”

Billy looked at Jenny. “Are you sure you’re okay with this guy?”

The man met her scrutinizing stare with an affectionate squeeze and a wink. She flinched, but the boyish gleam in his eye and his playful smile sparked her curiosity and overruled her better judgment. “Yes, I’m fine, Billy. Go on back to the party now. Don’t worry about me.”

As soon as Billy left, she turned and confronted the mystery man. “Okay. The show’s over. Now get your hands off me or you’ll wish you were packing more than that Glock.”

Like that? Then tell us your favorite first meeting in a novel and one reader will win a copy of AVALANCHE

AVALANCHE by Gayla K. Hiss

Peril in the Park


When Park Ranger Jenny Snowfeather runs into Deputy Marshal Chase Matthews at her brother’s Fourth of July barbecue, she suspects there is more going on in Eagle Valley, WA than fireworks. After Chase confides that he believes the fugitive who killed his partner may be hiding out in the area, Jenny is skeptical at first. But when her peaceful town is besieged with a sudden crime spree, she realizes Chase’s theory may be true.

As the manhunt advances to the rugged backcountry of North Cascades National Park, Jenny is confronted with her past mistakes. But she soon discovers the greatest threat of all is losing her heart to Chase, who is obsessed with capturing the fugitive at all costs.

Risking everything to help Chase find the man who could kill them both, Jenny’s faith is put to the test. Like an avalanche waiting to happen, their path is fraught with danger. Will the enemy get away with murder? Will Jenny and Chase reach freedom and safety, or be buried alive? They must tread carefully. One step in the wrong direction could mean the difference between life and death.

Inspirational Mystery | Romance Suspense [Mountain Brook Ink, On Sale: February 1, 2017, e-Book, / ]

About Gayla K. Hiss

Gayla K. Hiss

Gayla’s writing journey began with her hobby painting landscapes. In her imagination, characters and scenes came to life as she painted beautiful natural settings. Her inspiring novels combine her love for the great outdoors with romance, suspense and mystery. Gayla and her husband often tour the country in their RV, visiting many state and national parks. She enjoys hiking, camping, and traveling, and lives in the Pacific Northwest. She’s excited to announce the recent release of her debut novel, Avalanche, book 1 of her Peril in the Park series. Visit to learn more, and connect with her on Facebook, Amazon and Goodreads.


Guilty Pleasures with Angel Payne and Victoria Blue

Hello, everyone! Victoria Blue and Angel Payne here, saying hello once more! We’re the team behind the SECRETS OF STONE romance series, with Book 4, NO MAGIC MOMENT, newly released!

In all of our books, but especially with Michael and Margaux’s journey, we love to explore all the “unique” details of our characters’ lives, including the day-to-day personality traits that make them tick.

A lot of our readers ask where we come up with such interesting quirks for the Stones and their friends–and we often say we draw on a lot of the weirdness from our own lives. Over the years, as friends, we’ve learned a lot of these things about each other, and we thought you’d might have fun taking a peek at our weirder sides, as well.

We like to call this… “Guilty Pleasures with Victoria and Angel”. We hope you enjoy! How many do you agree with? What are your own guilty pleasures?

Pop Star:

Victoria: Taylor Swift

Angel: twenty one pilots

Broadway Musical Song:

Victoria: Seasons of Love from Rent, of course

Angel: Unexpected Song from Song and Dance

“Calories Aren’t a Problem” Dessert:

Victoria: Apple pie a la mode

Angel: A Farrell’s Tin Roof Sundae…or my daughter’s homemade cupcakes!

Stomach ache food:

Victoria: white corn chips

Angel: Saltines and Sprite–and cuddles from my doggo, which are food for my soul.

Author, overall:

Victoria: Christina Lauren

Angel: Sylvia Day

Book series in total:

Victoria: Black Dagger Brotherhood

Angel: Outlander

I’m-a-puddle romance book hero:

Victoria: Bennett Ryan from Beautiful Bastard

Angel: Gideon Cross

“I don’t want to think” TV show:

Victoria: Beat Bobby Flay

Angel: Timeless or American Gladiators

“Nobody’s looking” websites:

Victoria: Tumblr

Angel: YouTube

We hope you’ll check out our high heat romance series, featuring some of our favorite characters sharing tidbits just like this about themselves. It’s called The Secrets of Stone, and you can get started on it right now either at Totally Bound Publishing’s website, or wherever your favorite books are sold!

NO MAGIC MOMENT by Angel Payne, Victoria Blue

Secrets of Stone #4

No Magic Moment


My name is Margaux Asher—and I’m in love.

Crazy, right? Me, the girl who grew up in the lap of luxury and the shadow of cynicism, is now head-over-heels for an apple farmer’s son who rocks my world and steals my breath. He’s seen the woman beneath the princess, and loves me—for me. Trouble is…he wants all of me. But how can I commit that to him if I don’t know who ‘me’ is? There are pieces missing—and not just mine. Until Michael opens up and shares all of himself, we’re a great opening explosion, but not a lasting magic tale.

Don’t look at the man behind the curtain…

My name is Michael Pearson—and I’m in love.

Margaux is the fire of my dreams, the fulfillment of my fantasies and the woman who’s asked the impossible. When your past has been hell, how is it possible to walk through it again? But fighting it isn’t an option—especially when the ghosts rise up and battle back. Especially when fate issues an ultimatum—battle back, or lose her forever. Can I do it? Is love enough to change a person’s soul, or will our magic become a forgotten moment for us both?

Erotica | Romance Erotica Sensual [Totally Bound Publishing, On Sale: March 14, 2017, e-Book, ISBN: 9781786511355 / eISBN: 9781786511355]

We LOVE hearing from readers, too! Reach out to us via social media too!

Victoria Blue

Victoria Blue

Victoria Blue lives in her own portion of the galaxy known as Southern California. There she finds the love and life sustaining power of one amazing sun, two unique and awe inspiring planets and three indifferent, yet comforting moons. Life is fantastic and challenging and everyday brings new adventures to be discovered. She looks forward to seeing what’s next!

Secrets of Stone


Angel Payne

Angel Payne

USA Today bestselling romance author Angel Payne has been reading and writing her entire life, though her love for romances began in junior high, when writing with friends on “swap stories” they’d trade between classes. Needless to say, those stories involved lots of angst, groping, drama, and gooey kissing.

She began getting a paycheck for her writing in her twenties, writing record reviews for a Beverly Hills-based dance music magazine. Some years, various entertainment industry gigs, and a number of years in the hospitality industry later, Angel returned to the thing she loves the most: creating character-based romantic fiction. Along the way, she also graduated with two degrees from Chapman University in Southern California, taking departmental honors for English, before writing five historical romances for Kensington and Bantam/Doubleday/Dell.

Angel found a true home in writing contemporary-based romances that feature high heat and high concepts, focusing on memorable alpha men and the women who tame them. She has numerous book series to her credit, including the Kinky Truth series, the Secrets of Stone series (with Victoria Blue, to be re-released through Totally Bound Publishing starting late 2016!), the W.I.L.D. Boys of Special Forces series, and the acclaimed Cimarron  and Temptation Court series.

Angel still lives in Southern California, where she is married to her soul mate and lives on a street that looks like Brigadoon, with their awesome daughter and Lady Claire, the dog with impeccable manners. When not writing, she enjoys reading, pop culture, alt rock, cute shoes, enjoying the outdoors, and being a gym rat.

Secrets of Stone


A.M. Griffin | Welcome to the Dark Wolf Enterprises!

Hello All!

For those who don’t know me, I’m A.M. Griffin and I write smexy stories of alien abductions, vanilla stories about invasions and teenage love and I’ve just added sexy paranormal wolf shifters to my repertoire. I’m so excited about this new series and I’m happy that the readers can take this adventure with me into my new paranormal world.

LOVER CLAIMED is the second book in the Dark Wolf Enterprises series. The first book in the series is titled SHIFTER CLAIMED. Dark Wolf Enterprises is a multi-million dollar investment company owned and operated by a family of wolf shifters, the Farkas. Unfortunately for the brothers and owners; Andras, Kristof and Lajos Farkas, someone is embezzling millions of dollars from their company.

LOVER CLAIMED picks up where Lajos has separated from Kristof at Trudy’s house. Lajos has a simple task, to take Trudy’s dog to her best friend Meisha’s house and then to go to Trudy’s business to look for any clues left behind by the other shifters who attacked her.

The problem?

Meisha Komano doesn’t take kindly to coming home to find a stranger in her kitchen. The stranger could be one of the drug fiends from her neighborhood, a cop or a member of the Yaruzi, a Japanese gang who is after her and her family. Either way, Meisha’s first impulse is to kick ass and ask questions later.

The other problem?

Lajos needs to shake Meisha so that he can properly conduct an investigation and gather as much information about the other shifters as he can before his security team arrives. But the bigger problem is that he doesn’t really want to shake her—he’d rather keep her at his side for the rest of his life.


Dark Wolf Enterprises #2

<a href=LOVER CLAIMED” width=”200″ rel=”share” >

When Meisha comes home and finds a strange man in her kitchen, she does what any sensible person would do. She beats the crap out of him first, then asks questions after. When he explains her best friend is in mortal danger, Meisha knows the whole mess—including a recent murder and the threats on her friend’s life—may be her fault, and she’s determined to get to the bottom of it. And no sexy stranger is going to stop her.

Lajos Farkas isn’t expecting to meet a spitfire, martial artist when he’s on a mission to figure out who’s stealing from Dark Wolf Enterprises, and he certainly doesn’t expect her to insist on butting in on his investigation. But getting rid of Meisha is seemingly impossible, and when his wolf decides she’s his life-mate, suddenly he realizes he’ll do anything to keep her close and grow old with her.

If they can just stay alive long enough to make that possible.

If they can just stay alive long enough to make that possible.

Romance Paranormal [Totally Bound Publishing, On Sale: March 14, 2017, e-Book, ISBN: 9781786511287 / eISBN: 9781786511287]


Since the man lying on her kitchen floor had been so brazen about his break-in, it meant only one thing. All her threats to the people in her apartment complex were starting to fall on deaf ears. She needed to take this punk out into the courtyard and give the neighbors a reminder as to why they should leave her and her stuff alone.

She squinted at her captive. He was big, too big for her to drag out the door, down the stairs and into the courtyard.

Roll him?

Piper went back up to his face and swung a leg that looked as if it couldn’t support her fat body over the intruder’s neck, straddling him, trying to hump him to death. “Make sure you keep that up. When I get him out in public you can embarrass him all you want.”

Her burglar frowned and groaned. “Pft. Get off me, dog.” He tried to move his arms. Meisha smiled. She had tied them behind his back. His eyes flew open in panic.

Meisha pushed Piper aside just in case she needed to knock him out again. As soon as Piper was out of his way, the intruder landed his eyes on her.

She was right. His eyes were pretty. Light brown with a hint of gold speckles.

He squinted, his glare focused on her. “Untie me,” he ground out.

Meisha glared at him. “No.”

The color of his eyes flashed from brown to green.

She leaned closer to get a better look. “Holy shit, how did you change the color of your eyes? Is that some kind of trick?”

“I don’t want to hurt you,” he warned, ignoring her question.

Meisha raised an eyebrow and chuckled. “Really? You? Hurt me?” There was no way he was getting out of the bindings. When she’d first moved to the US from Japan, her mother had told her that she wanted her only daughter to experience a normal American childhood like she had. That meant enrolling Meisha into the Girl Scouts. Thanks to that organization, she’d learned to tie a wicked knot.

The intruder grunted. His face turned red as he tugged at his bindings.

Meisha nodded at his arms. “If you haven’t noticed, you’re all tied up. I could do whatever my little heart desires to you.”

The side of his mouth quirked up. “And tell me, love. What does your heart desire?” His voice had dropped an octave.

She caught her breath. The dimple in his cheek was…cute. Her heart fluttered. She scooted away from him. That was what she needed—distance.


Dark Wolf Enterprises #1

Shifter Claimed

The big break Trudy Hollander’s small accounting firm needs has finally arrived, but unfortunately it comes with murder, mayhem and Kristof Farkas, a man she just can’t seem to resist. Even worse, Kristof is the CFO of Dark Wolf Enterprises—the one person who can pull the plug on the job that will take her company to the next level.

Then there are the assassins who can jump from three stories up and still be able to run away…

Kristof has no intention of giving in to his inner wolf and claiming Trudy. She’s human. Too fragile to withstand being a shifter’s mate. But the need to protect her is stronger than his resolve, and his desire is more powerful yet. He’ll fight with everything he has to keep her safe, both from those who would hurt her, and from himself.

Romance Paranormal [Totally Bound Publishing, On Sale: January 24, 2017, e-Book, ISBN: 9781786511126 / eISBN: 9781786511126]

The third book Hunter Claimed is available April 25, 2017


Dark Wolf Enterprises #3

Hunter Claimed

Asha has a simple plan for her life—her hopefully soon-to-be immortal life. All she’s ever wanted was to be so powerful that no one could ever hurt her again, and once she becomes a Vampire her dream will come true. Sure, being a Vampire’s protégé isn’t the easiest job a girl could have, but there are far tougher roads she could be walking, like following in her drug-addicted mother’s footsteps.

Hunter Arany hates Vampires, and with good reason. So when Dark Wolf Enterprises is forced to hire a group of the blood-suckers to find out who’s been stealing company money, he’s sure having them around will be a problem. He never figured it would the Vampires’ human servant who causes him the most trouble—trouble of the love and life-mate kind.

He’s hoping to convince Ash a brighter future exists in his arms, but old dreams fade slowly and can become living nightmares—of the dying kind.

Romance Paranormal [Totally Bound Publishing, On Sale: April 25, 2017, e-Book, / ]

About A.M. Griffin

A.M. Griffin

A.M. Griffin is a wife who rarely cooks, mother of three, dog owner (and sometimes dog owned), a daughter, sister, aunt and friend. She’s a hard worker whose two favorite outlets are reading and writing. She enjoys reading everything from mystery novels to historical romances and of course fantasy romance. She is a believer in the unbelievable, open to all possibilities from mermaids in our oceans and seas, angels in the skies and intelligent life forms in distant galaxies.

Dark Wolf Enterprises


Good and BAD of Reality TV

For more than twenty years, America has been obsessed with reality TV. Something about watching “real” people engage in a variety of activities calls to our inner voyeurs. Producers love reality TV because it costs less to produce than a scripted series. Americans love getting a peek at outrageous activities and cutthroat competitions. Let’s take a look at some of the good and bad things reality has to offer.

The Good: Anyone can be on a reality show, claiming their fifteen minutes of fame, even if they aren’t an actor. All you need is a sense of adventure, the willingness to try something that seems a bit wild, and the ability to not go to work for the duration of filming.

When Jen gets laid off at the same time her apartment converts to condos, she doesn’t know what to do with her life. Going on the show gives her a chance to decompress and figure things out while competing to earn enough money to help her pay off her debts. It’s a win-win situation.

The Bad: Reality TV also tends to bring out the worst in people. From Puck on the Real World to Omarosa on The Apprentice to Chad and Corrine on the last couple of seasons of The Bachelor/-ette, there are always people who seek the spotlight by behaving in the worst manner possible.

In real life, you can walk away from those people. On TV, you can change the channel. But Jen found herself stuck in a house for several weeks with people who made it their goal to alienate everyone else. It’s too bad for Jen, but it certainly made for a more interesting reality show.

The Good: Meeting people you never would have come into contact with.

Like many past and present reality shows, The Fishbowl cast contestants from all over the United States, bringing Jen into contact with a lot of people she never would have otherwise met. Strong friendships are forged under intense circumstances, and Jen managed to make friends she’ll keep for the rest of her life.

The Bad: Bad behavior is often rewarded. For example, after Chad was asked to leave The Bachelorette in part for threatening other contestants, he was invited back for Bachelor in Paradise. Villains can lead to increased ratings, which means reality TV can send the message that people who act terribly deserve to have nice things. (Spoiler alert: They don’t.)

Jen encounters this issue throughout the series when people who played the part of the villain on The Fishbowl pop up elsewhere.

The Good: Get an all-expense paid vacation!

After losing her job and her home, going to lounge by the pool in Southern California wouldn’t have been within Jen’s budget. But by going on the show, she got to meet new people, soak up the sun, and sleep in a comfortable bed–with all food and drinks covered by the Network.

The Bad: There’s no privacy. With cameras everywhere, nothing is off-limits.

When Jen wants to talk to Justin alone, she’s got a dual problem: first, getting away from the eyes and ears of the other contestants. But also, how to get away from the eyes and ears of the rest of the country?

The Good: There are basically a million types of shows. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re into cooking, home renovation, races, competitions, trivia, survivalists, antiques, weddings, or just watching different aspects of human nature. Reality shows dominate that dial, so there’s a show for virtually any interest.

Throughout the Reality Star series, I was able to put my main characters on three completely different types of reality show – and I can think of a dozen more types of show that would fit the series if I wanted to expand. The ideas basically write themselves.


Reality Star #1

America's Next Reality Star


Twenty-four-year-old Jen Reid had her life in good shape: an okay job, a tiny-cute Seattle apartment, and a great boyfriend almost ready to get serious. In a flash it all came apart. Single, unemployed, and holding an eviction notice, who has time to remember trying out for a reality show? Then the call comes, and Jen sees her chance to start over—by spending her summer on national TV.

Luckily The Fishbowl is all about puzzles and games, the kind of thing Jen would love even if she wasn’t desperate. The cast checks all the boxes: cheerful, quirky Birdie speaks in hashtags; vicious Ariana knows just how to pout for the cameras; and corn-fed “J-dawg” plays the cartoon villain of the house. Then there’s Justin, the green-eyed law student who always seems a breath away from kissing her. Is their attraction real, or a trick to get him closer to the $250,000 grand prize? Romance or showmance, suddenly Jen has a lot more to lose than a summer . . .

Romance Contemporary [Lyrical Press Shine, On Sale: March 7, 2017, e-Book, ISBN: 9781516101535 / eISBN: 9781516101535]


About Laura Heffernan

Laura Heffernan

Laura Heffernan is living proof that watching too much TV can pay off: AMERICA’S NEXT REALITY STAR, the first book in the REALITY STAR series, is coming from Kensington’s Lyrical Press in March 2017. When not watching total strangers participate in arranged marriages, drag racing queens, or cooking competitions, Laura enjoys travel, baking, board games, helping with writing contests, and seeking new experiences. She lives in the northeast with her amazing husband and two furry little beasts.

Some of Laura’s favorite things include goat cheese, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, the Oxford comma, and ice cream. Not all together. The best place to find her is usually on Twitter, where she spends far too much time tweeting about writing, Canadian chocolate, and reality TV.

Reality Star


Tessa Arlen | Edwardian Children versus Modern

My grandmother was an Edwardian. Whenever I say or think that it makes me realize just how close the first decade of the twentieth century actually was and at the same time what a colossal difference there is between my life in America now and the Edwardian attitudes to class, social conventions and the formality that existed between parents and their children in England when my granny was a girl.

Florence Violet Williams was born in 1895, she was nineteen at the start of World War I. When her fiancé, Raymond, was killed in the Battle of Somme in 1916 Florence never thought she would marry. But she did. She married my fun-loving grandfather – George Dudley who survived the war in Mesopotamia to sweep her off her feet at a dance held in the house of a neighbor.

The grandmother I knew had a cloud of white hair and large, dark eyes. Like many women of her age she never raised her voice, but she was a huge stickler for the rules. I never saw her in pants, and she always wore a hat when she went out and if you wore a hat you had to wear gloves too. She had such quiet authority that if she disapproved of something I simply did not do it! But she was not only genuinely sweet natured, she was also a lively raconteur and I loved her stories about when she was a little girl.

Her family lived in large house on edge of Blackheath in London. Her father, Cecile Williams, was a barrister with a Victorian point of view when it came to children: they might be seen briefly before their bedtime but not heard for the rest of the day. Her mother was very serious-minded and spent her day running charities. Florence and her brothers Henry and John were looked after by a Nanny.

What on earth did that little girl do all day? She was taught to read and write, do sums and play the piano. She had dolls and a doll house and she played quietly in the day nursery or in the garden. She was taken for a walk on the Heath every afternoon with another little girl and her Nanny. They would play hop scotch, hide and seek, and air their dolls. Sometimes she was invited to children’s tea parties. This all sounded overwhelmingly claustrophobic to me. Were you ever naughty? I asked her. Yes, she said she was sometimes, not as naughty as her brothers but on one occasion she was very naughty indeed.

There was an apple tree in the Williams’ garden. Every spring there was blossom but the tree never bore fruit. One year, when Florence was six, a tiny green nub formed on a lower branch and over the weeks the entire family watched it grow into a perfect red apple. They were all instructed that on no account was anyone to touch or, God forbid, pick it.

When the apple reached perfection their father announced that he would pick it on Saturday morning, and divide it equally between the three of them. Down they went to the garden and waited in a group under the tree. But as their father reached out his hand to pick the apple they saw that a shockingly large bite had been taken out of it. Their father turned to his sons –both tall enough to reach the apple.

“Who did this?” He thundered. There was silence. Florence was so alarmed she started to cry. Henry stepped forward. “I did” he said and was promptly taken off for a spanking. Florence was so devastated that she didn’t stop crying all day and all she said was “I’m so sorry,” over and over again.

“But why did you apologize?” I asked.

“Because it was me who took the bite,” she replied. “I found an old bucket, upturned it, and climbed up on it so I could reach the apple. It was delicious.”

“But why did Henry take the blame?”

“Because he had dared me, he told me he would give me sixpence if I could take a bite out of the apple without picking it.”

“Did you own up?” She nodded. “What happened?”

“Henry got another walloping for leading me astray.”

The difference between an Edwardian and a Boomer generation upbringing!

Tessa’s third book in her Lady Montfort series A DEATH BY ANY OTHER NAME released March 14, 2017. Find out more about her series here, and to read her blog Redoubtable Edwardians.


Lady Montfort Mystery Series

A Death by Any Other Name

A Death by Any Other Name is a delightful Edwardian mystery set in the English countryside. Building on the success of her last two mysteries in the same series, Tessa Arlen returns us to the same universe full of secrets, intrigue, and, this time, roses.

The elegant Lady Montfort and her redoubtable housekeeper Mrs. Jackson’s services are called upon after a cook is framed and dismissed for poisoning a guest of the Hyde Rose Society. Promising to help her regain her job and her dignity, the pair trek out to the countryside to investigate a murder of concealed passions and secret desires. There, they are to discover a villain of audacious cunning among a group of mild-mannered, amateur rose-breeders. While they investigate, the rumor mill fills with talk about a conflict over in Prussia where someone quite important was shot. There is talk of war and they must race the clock to solve the mystery as the idyllic English summer days count down to the start of WWI.

Brimming with intrigue, Tessa Arlen’s latest does not disappoint.

Mystery Historical [Minotaur Books, On Sale: March 14, 2017, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9781250101426 / eISBN: 9781250101433]

About Tessa Arlen

Tessa Arlen

TESSA ARLEN, the daughter of a British diplomat, had lived in or visited her parents in Singapore, Cairo, Berlin, the Persian Gulf, Beijing, Delhi and Warsaw by the time she was sixteen. She came to the U.S. in 1980 and worked as an H.R. recruiter for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee for the 1984 Olympic Games, where she interviewed her future husband for a job. She lives in Washington.

Lady Montfort Mystery


You Mean You Don’t Live There?

When I’m strolling Riverwalk in New Orleans, with thick fog rolling in and the mournful toot of a tugboat off in the distance, I have every confidence that I can convincingly capture this ethereal moody image on paper – even though I don’t actually live there.

I’m one of those authors who buzz in and out of cities to snatch a quick whiff of atmosphere and head-spinning locale. And I really love it that way. Because when I visit New Orleans, I’m dashing around that grand old city at breakneck speed, tasting oysters, downing an Ibita Beer while listening to zydeco music, sneaking into above-ground cemeteries, and buying potions and spells at French Quarter voodoo shops. These are all fabulous elements that come together and form a kind of author’s gumbo that I can sprinkle like zesty herbs throughout my Scrapbook Mysteries.

The same goes for Charleston, South Carolina, the setting for my Tea Shop Mysteries. Charleston is another old-world city that’s filled with history and mystery. They’ve got narrow alleys where duels were fought, Revolutionary War-era graveyards, spooky old plantations, the pounding surf of the Atlantic, and historic grande dame homes along with old Huguenot families with plenty of skeletons in the attic.

As much as I’d love to live in Charleston – though I can’t afford the home prices – I think I enjoy visiting just as much. Because with each and every visit I’m able to breathe in a huge amount of atmosphere that adds to the rich settings in my books.

Settings, as you probably know, are one of the elements that add texture and character to a book. Settings also tell you a lot about a character without having to go into a long description of that character. A character’s mood, outlook, and actions are just naturally flavored by the setting in which they live.

Settings can also serve as a kind of character. In my Scrapbook Mysteries, New Orleans is often portrayed as a dark, brooding place where merriment can break out at any moment. This is a city where Mardi Gras is practically a religion and your family pedigree is scrutinized as if you were competing at Westminster.

In my Tea Shop Mysteries, Charleston is often portrayed as genteel, old world, and upper crust. And I particularly enjoy creating a sense of place. I try to let my readers smell the crepe myrtle, feel the industrial strength humidity, taste the French cooking, and experience the resonance of Charleston’s history.

So, no, I don’t live in Charleston or New Orleans or any of the places I describe in my novels. But all my characters have settled in quite nicely, thank you. Which means my characters, settings, and stories will hopefully reside in reader’s hearts as well.

All my very best,

Laura Childs

About Laura Childs

Gerry Schmitt, who writes under the pen name Laura Childs is now adding two more series that are harder-edged Wednesday February 26, 2014 in Plymouth.  (Pioneer Press: Jean Pieri)

Halfway between a cozy
and a thriller – a thrillzy!

Laura Childs is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. PEKOE MOST POISONis her just-released Tea Shop Mystery. In Laura’s previous life she was CEO of her own marketing firm, authored several screenplays, and produced a reality TV show. She is married to Dr. Bob, a professor of Chinese art history, enjoys travel, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.

Tea Shop Mysteries | Cackleberry Club Mysteries | Scrapbook Mysteries



Tea Shop Mystery

Pekoe Most Poison

In the latest Tea Shop Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Laura Childs, Theodosia Browning attends a “Rat Tea,” where the mice will play…at murder.

When Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning is invited by Doreen Briggs, one of Charleston’s most prominent hostesses, to a “Rat Tea,” she is understandably intrigued. As servers dressed in rodent costumes and wearing white gloves offer elegant finger sandwiches and fine teas, Theo learns these parties date back to early twentieth-century Charleston, where the cream of society would sponsor so-called rat teas to promote city rodent control and better public health.

But this party goes from odd to chaotic when a fire starts at one of the tables and Doreen’s entrepreneur husband suddenly goes into convulsions and drops dead. Has his favorite orange pekoe tea been poisoned? Theo smells a rat.

The distraught Doreen soon engages Theo to pursue a discreet inquiry into who might have murdered her husband. As Theo and her tea sommelier review the guest list for suspects, they soon find themselves drawn into a dangerous game of cat and mouse…


Mystery Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: March 7, 2017, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425281680 / eISBN: 9780698197398]

Cold Pressed Murder Features to Die for Olive Oil Recipes!

I loved writing COLD PRESSED MURDER, the second book in Berkely Prime Crime’s OLIVE GROVE MYSTERY series, following ONE FOOT IN THE GROVE. One of the elements I’m most excited about in this second cozy mystery is the recipe section at the end of the book. Each recipe featuring olive oil is taken directly from the pages of the story. And one of my all-time, most favorite recipes was developed just for this story!

Precious Darling’s Famous Cold-Pressed Olive Oil Peach Cake is to die for. It’s dense, super-moist and sweet—but not too sweet. And it’s deliciously satisfying, especially when topped with fresh fruit.
Cold Pressed Murder II. Recipe

Happily, when I developed and tested the recipe, it was during peach season here in Virginia. So once I nailed the recipe down, I baked one final version, sliced myself a fat piece of warm cake, and slathered that puppy with fresh peaches and freshly prepared whipped cream. Not normally a cake person, I was on cloud nine devouring the fruits of my labors! Moreover, the cake tasted absolutely scrumptious the next morning when I had a piece for breakfast, topped with a medley of fresh fruit and yogurt.

Needless to say, my olive oil cake didn’t last long.


Olive Oil Improves My Old Recipes

Much to my surprise, developing olive oil recipes for my books has totally changed the way I cook, as well as the choices I make when choosing foods to eat. Moreover, I’ve enjoyed the challenge of tinkering with old family recipes and using olive oils instead of other fats when preparing meals. Many of my old family recipes are much improved after making my olive oil tweaks. And, yes, I’ve proven that one can make a delicious flaky tart or piecrust using a mild olive oil instead of butter!

And, using olive oils in both sweet and savory dishes has led me to appreciate the subtleties and differences between unique olive oil varieties and blends. Like wine, not all olive oils are the same. Not even remotely so.

For example, the olive oil that I’d use in a savory dish would not be the same oil that I’d add to a mild dish or sweet dessert. A more green, robust olive oil, like the Koroneiki variety that is high in polyphenols—the healthy, natural chemicals that give you that peppery burn in the back of your throat—pairs well with soups, salads and grilled meats. Whereas, a more delicate, mild, fruity or buttery flavored oil with little or no bitterness, like the Arbequina variety, is better suited for chicken, pasta, vegetables and even sweet dishes.

Can’t Get Enough Olive Oil Ice Cream

One use for olive oil that’s really surprised and delighted me has been in frozen desserts. Before the OLIVE GROVE MYSTERY series, I’d never tried olive oil ice cream or gelato. And although I understand it’s a common ice cream flavor in Italy, olive oil ice cream is not readily available in my rural community. And even if I’d discovered it here, I doubt that I’d have tasted it without some compelling reason … like, authoring a culinary cozy series about olive oil! I mean, really , olive oil and ice cream? The combination sounded odd to me, to say the least!

So last year when I purchased an ice cream maker and began experimenting, making dozens of olive oil ice creams and gelatos (poor me, all that experimental ice cream—someone had to eat it!), it was my first time tasting the heavenly stuff. And it just dilled my pickle, as they say!

Now that I’ve come up with several of my favorite frozen olive oil treats—like Ambrosia Curry’s Boozy Peach-Bourbon Ice Cream, featured in COLD PRESSED MURDER—I actually prefer the olive oil ice creams and gelatos to many frozen desserts made straight with dairy ingredients. The olive oil imbues a subtle fruitiness that that’s wonderfully unique and satiating. Before my dive into olive oil, I never knew that I could crave such a delicate, distinctive flavor. And now, I can’t get enough!

I hope you enjoy finding new ways to use olive oil in your recipes as much as I do!


Olive Grove mystery

Cold Pressed Murder

Eva Knox and her quirky Southern family are back in the second in the “intriguing”* culinary mystery series.

It’s the pits for the attendees of the annual Farm Family Fare in Abundance, Georgia, when olive oil farmer Eva Knox finds herself in the middle of a murder case…

Eva and the residents of Knox Plantation are oozing with excitement over the activities planned for the Farm Family Fare. The weekend event consists of two days of tours, exhibitions, music, tastings, and, most important, cooking demonstrations with celebrity chefs from the Chow Network. The enthusiasm, however, begins to dribble away after one of the star chefs goes missing—and is later found dead in the back of a refrigerated truck.

The scandal gets messier after the police discover that Eva’s sister Daphne spent the night with the victim right before he died, making her the prime suspect for his murder. It’s up to Eva, with the help of her other sister, Pep, and her best friend, Precious, to track down the real killer before Daphne finds herself squeezed into handcuffs…


Mystery Culinary [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: March 7, 2017, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425277232 / eISBN: 9780698180048]

About Kelly Lane

Kelly Lane

Kelly Lane lives on a farm near Charlottesville, Virginia. In addition to her work as editor and “slush pile reader” for a prominent literary agent, she has penned as a copywriter, journalist, and worked as a business writer, editor, and public relations consultant for Fortune 500 companies. Set on an olive plantation in Southern Georgia, ONE FOOT IN THE GROVE and COLD PRESSED MURDER are the first two books in Kelly Lane’s OLIVE GROVE MYSTERY series published by Berkley Prime Crime. Each book includes original recipes inspired by dishes in the story.

Olive Grove


Cindi Madsen | Fangirl Fun

In my book, OPERATION PROM DATE, Kate is a huge fangirl and often talks about all the fictional couples she ships (the couples who she really, REALLY wants to be in a relationship, in case you’re new to the term shipping. It baffles my husband when my daughter and I start having conversations about our fandoms). Kate and I have that in common. Whether it’s Olicity on Arrow, Stydia on Teen Wolf, or Captain Swan on Once Upon a Time, Kate gets rather involved with what’s going on with her favorite couples. (I’ve also been known to scream “KISS ALREADY” at my TV shows and books. You know, like a calm, normal person. LOL)

Cooper, the guy who’s made a deal to help Kate land her crush in time for prom (AKA “Operation Prom Date”) doesn’t know what half of her fangirl jargon means, but he loves how passionate she is about it. He loves having her as his temporary rowing partner as part of their deal, too, because it means lots of time with just him and Kate in his rowboat on the lake. What he doesn’t love is how jealous he is when all of his help starts working a little too well. And the deeper they get into the mission, the more Kate’s starting to wonder if she’s set her sights on the wrong target.

After I turn in a book, you’ll find me binge watching the newest seasons of the Originals, Arrow, Teen Wolf, the 100, and my very favorite to re-watch when I need some cheering up, New Girl. (I could go on and on) Then there are the countless book series I read as quickly as possible, hoping and encouraging the right people to finally get together. I’ve only switched teams a few times in my life, once during book two of the Hunger Games Series, CATCHING FIRE (I mean how could you not love Peeta by then? It’s not possible). And to be honest, sometimes I find myself falling a little hard for the heroes myself. For example, I kind of ship myself and Captain Hook from Once Upon a Time, the one show where guyliner + Irish accent + hook = BE MINE NOW! Even my daughters argue that they should be with Hook, because after all, I’m already married. (Love you, honey!) For the record, my awesome husband, who is perfectly fine with all my fictional boyfriends is the guy I crush on the hardest. <3


So who else loves fangirling over TV & book series? Which ones are you obsessed with, and what couples are you dying to get together & STAY TOGETHER?

(Seriously, writers. I know you & I share a career, but don’t mess with my couples. LOL)


Operation Prom Date

Kate ships tons of fictional couples, but IRL her OTP is her and Mick, the hot quarterback she’s crushed on since, like, forever. With only one semester left of senior year, it’s now or never if she wants to land him in time for prom. Since she’s flirtationally challenged, she enlists Cooper Callihan, the guy who turned popular seemingly overnight but who used to be a good friend.

Cooper lives and breathes rowing, but his partner just broke his wrist. When he remembers Kate’s good with a set of oars, he strikes a deal: help him train, and he’ll make sure her crush notices her. Only he didn’t know how addicting spending time with her would be. Or how the more successful the Operation is, the more jealousy he experiences.

The mission has been set. The troops have their marching orders. But what if the target is the wrong guy all along?

Young Adult [Entangled Crush, On Sale: March 6, 2017, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9781682814482 / ]

About Cindi Madsen

Cindi Madsen

Cindi Madsen sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting revising, and falling in love with her characters. Sometimes it makes her a crazy person. Without it, she’d be even crazier. She has way too many shoes, but can always find a reason to buy a new pretty pair, especially if they’re sparkly, colorful, or super tall. She loves music, dancing, and wishes summer lasted all year long. She lives in Colorado (where summer is most definitely NOT all year long) with her husband and three children.

Accidentally in Love | Hope Springs, WY | Taking Shots


Gail Ingis | Me, An Author?

Writing fiction fell upon me through my own devices of dreams and things. After some research online where I found the affair of my 19th century, barely out of her teen years debutante, I thought, I must write this story of love, disappointment and murder.

I know, I said to myself, I’ll write a book. After all, I had written a chapter for a history book and been wooed by a publisher. I wrote up school catalogs, wrote course curriculum, wrote up interior design and architectural history lectures, proposals for jobs, poetry and love letters. Surely writing a book would be a piece . . .

Gail . . .

Read more here

INDIGO SKY by Gail Ingis

Indigo Sky

In a whirlwind romance, a lovely New York socialite marries a fêted, debonair author. But beneath the charm is a cheating husband addicted to hasheesh. Her dream marriage turns sour and the simplicity of her life runs amok when a handsome stranger, her husband’s business partner, threatens her staunch loyalty to her wayward husband.

When she faces the ugly truth about her marriage, her need to finalize her divorce sends her on mad chase across the wilds of nineteenth century America with a handsome stranger where she learns the hard lessons of murder, kidnapping, and more, that almost destroy her.

Romance Historical [Soul Mate Publishing, On Sale: October 21, 2015, e-Book, / ]

About Gail Ingis

Gail Ingis writes historical romance, loves history and romance of course, has taught history, and her weekly blog frequently covers historical content. A native of Brooklyn, New York, Ingis’s early days began and ended with writing, drawing and music. Her inspiration to write came from books gifted to her by an aunt. But life had other ideas.

After graduating from the New York School of Interior Design with a BFA in Interior Architecture and Design and masters’ studies in Architecture and Design Criticism at The New School (Parsons). Her career in interior design and architecture led her to the other arts. Ingis founded the Interior Design Institute, a school of interior design, that she eventually sold, but during her tenure, she was twice asked by publishers to write a textbook, her efforts were thwarted by a heavy schedule.

Ingis resides in Connecticut with her scientist-writer husband. She and her husband travel and enjoy tennis. Currently, she sits on the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum Board of Trustees and serves as Curator of Art for exhibitions at the museum.

She is a member of the CTRWA—Connecticut Chapter of Romance Writer’s of America.

Website | Gail’s Artist Facebook | Twitter | Facebook | Blog