Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Gayle Leeson | For the Love of Boxes
Author Guest / December 11, 2017

Do you love subscription boxes? I do. I think it stems in part from the joy and excitement of receiving mail when I was growing up. You know how it is—when you’re a child, all mail is addressed to your parents. And then the day comes when you—yes, you—get a card addressed to you. Or maybe it’s a magazine or a letter. Whatever it was, it was good. You weren’t old enough to get scary mail—bills, IRS letters, family reunion invitations—yet. [Although I did get unhappy mail from the Humane Society once. My friend Buffy and I lamented the fact that we had no money to send and no way—other than prayer—to help that poor monkey with the hand over her eye. I’ve never forgotten that monkey. Where were you, Sarah McLachlan, when that monkey needed you? Sorry for the digression…] Fast forward to adulthood when mail becomes mundane. Now when you get something “good” in the mail, it’s usually something you’ve ordered. It’s seldom a surprise…unless, like me, an item sometimes takes so long to arrive, you forget you ordered it. That’s where subscription boxes come in. I get the quarterly box Fab Fit Fun, the monthly Sephora Play,…

Erica Cameron | The Top 5 Reasons MOGAI Characters Are Needed in YA
Author Guest / December 8, 2017

More and more, stories centering on MOGAI characters have been appearing in young adult fiction, something I am exceedingly happy about. Solid, respectful, and accurate MOGAI—which stands for Marginalized Orientations, Gender Alignments, and Intersex—representation is incredibly important, and here are five reasons why. Fiction should be a reflection of the world both as it is and as it could be. It’s not yet a universal facet of literature, though. Readers have been subconsciously trained by books and society to apply a “default” description to characters, so much so that unless an author takes special care to describe and define each person’s characteristics—whether that’s race, orientation, religion, ethnicity, or other—we assume they’re a white, heterosexual, Christian, able-bodied individual. Contemporary and historical novels can so easily incorporate the truth about the existence of people of color or those on the MOGAI spectrum. Fantasy and science-fiction worlds are capable of showing us what humanity could look like if it released its prejudices fell away. If books began to reflect the truly beautiful diversity of the world we live in, this “default” would begin to break down. Or we can hope it would help this happen over time, at least. Many teenagers are searching…

Gina Conkle | Five Historical Facts I Learned While Writing the Midnight Meetings Series
Author Guest / December 6, 2017

Georgian England was a place and time of excitement and wonder. Lots of changes going. Lots of money flowing around England. Lots of crime and inventions. But, you know what interests me? The little things about daily life during the period of the four King Georges—not *gasp* the fashions. I know. That’s sacrilege for a historical romance reader since most people want the gorgeous gowns. I like clothes, but the day to day goings on excite me more. So, let’s try something. I’ll list 5 Facts About Georgian England (the time period of the Midnight Meetings series), and you tell me which fact(s) are new to you and which are old news: The Royal Academy of Arts was founded in 1768 by 34 artists in Piccadilly. Of those 34 artists, 2 were women: Mary Moser and Angelica Kauffman. To celebrate, a group portrait was commissioned to be painted in the Academy’s great hall. But, the women weren’t allowed to stand (or sit) for the group portrait. Only the men. The women were allowed to hang their self-portraits on the wall behind the men. The artist painted their portrait into the group painting. Hmmmm…adds credence to, “Behind every great man, there…

The Plot Thickens and so Does the Soup
Author Guest / December 6, 2017

Thank you Fresh Fiction fans for inviting me to join you and helping celebrate the release of book #2 in my Rakes of St. James trilogy, TO THE DUKE, WITH LOVE. Usually, I’m thinking about how to thicken my plot with twists and turns, drama, and romance the way I did in TO THE DUKE, WITH LOVE. My main ingredient is a rake of the highest order, add a spoonful of a heroine who took a vow to never marry, and a dash of street kid who sneaks into her life, steals her heart as well as some valuable things and you have a thick plot. But it’s December. It’s damp, and chilly. And time to think about making a pot of my favorite homemade soup. Beef and veggie. Unlike my mother, who was a wizard in the kitchen and could have made Styrofoam taste good, I don’t always, okay seldom, cook from scratch and use a recipe or fresh ingredients. It takes too long to wash all the veggies, peel them, and then cut or dice them. No, I’d rather be writing. So even though it takes a lot of thought and time for my plot to thicken when…

Five Lessons I’ve Learned from Writing THE OTHER EINSTEIN and CARNEGIE’S MAID
Author Guest / December 6, 2017

Over the past two years, I have spent considerable time in the company of the inspiring historical women at the heart of my two novels THE THE OTHER EINSTEIN and CARNEGIE’S MAID, and although the women hail from different times and different places, they have taught me countless shared lessons. Sometimes their instruction focuses upon the writing process — the particular conundrums inherent in writing historical fiction — and sometimes their tutelage concerns life itself. Whittling that voluminous list of lessons down to five is a daunting task, but I hope their teachings resonate. Lesson 1 One of the delights and challenges in writing historical fiction is the research material, which can be simultaneously overwhelming and sparse. This might seem contradictory, but if you’ve ever gone down a historical rabbit role in search of a specific answer, only to emerge with an abundance of information about a seemingly fruitful, but ultimately tangential topic and nothing that answers your original question, then you know what I mean. One of my favorite authors — Kate Atkinson — has some excellent advice on this problem, which I’ve adopted with modifications in my own writing process. I begin by immersing myself deeply in the…

Michelle Hazen | Top 5 Actions that Make a Man Sexy
Author Guest / December 6, 2017

When he fixes something When he’s not afraid to model…nude. When he cleans. Or cooks. Or even better…cooks and THEN cleans. When he loves the things you love, and supports your art.   When he makes you laugh Spoiler alert: In A Cruel Kind of Beautiful, Jacob does ALL of these things… A CRUEL KIND OF BEAUTIFUL by Michelle Hazen Sex, Love, and Rock and Roll #1 If you can’t get to the Big O, can you get to the happily ever after? Jera McKnight loves music, swoons for hot guys, but sucks at sex. Jacob Tate is her perfect storm: a pun-loving nude model with a heart as big as his record collection. When a newspaper-delivery accident lands him in her living room, he’s almost tempting enough to make her forget she’s never been able to please a man–in bed or out of it. Sure, he laughs at her obscure jokes, and he’ll even accept a PG-rating if it means he gets time with her, but he’s also hiding something. And it has everything to do with the off-limits room in his apartment. Jera pours all her confusion and longing into her drum kit, which pays off when her…

FAVORITE SCENE and HOW IT CAME TO BE…
Author Guest / December 5, 2017

My favorite scene is SWIMMING IN THE PACIFIC. EXCERPT: Lights from the buoy and boat filtered down, and Kerry could see the surface of waves above them. The eerie light permeated the kelp bed, catching the creatures inside unawares. A unique forest full of sea life skittered around, tickling her and making her giddy as they passed by. There was such a humbling feeling of grandeur in the ocean. You could know everything and nothing, but witness it all the same. Her fingers touched the tall stalks of giant kelp—Macrocystis pyrifera—as they wavered in the ocean current like corn stalks in a strong breeze. She slid her fingers along part of their length. This stuff was harvested throughout the coast and used in a variety of products. It was so big here, she wondered if anyone knew about this particular prize cache. She certainly wasn’t going to tell them. Diving down, she felt along the rocky bottom and recognized bull kelp. A soupfin shark swam by, its tail touching her briefly. She wondered what else lived beyond the light. EXPERIENCE: Water is my favorite compound. I developed a love of swimming at a very early age and feel a very…

Heidi R. Kling | Why travel romances are the best
Author Guest / December 5, 2017

The summer after I graduated from high school was one of the most romantic I’ve known. Something about the air. The heat. The freedom. The caught-between-childhood-and-adulthood space. That summer, I cut a clipping out of a magazine article titled, “Why summer romances are the best romances,” and it encapsulated the same feelings I had and have about travel romances. The briefness of the period of time. The heightened sense of awareness when all your senses are on hyperdrive. And on that note, the heightened sense of urgency because you know you_only_have_so_much_time. Soyouhavetohurryandfallinlovefast!!! With the added bonus of not having to worry about fallout the way we do in regular high school or college. Have a fight and break up with your BF/GF? You have to see them every day. But after a whirlwind love affair on a tropical island, you leave, tucking an Ed Sheeran song-worthy photo in your pocket, and soft, sexy memories in your heart and voila! It’s done. The exciting urgency in WHERE I FOUND YOU, and the tough question the novel begs is, “What if your temporary love is your real forever.” And he lives on the other side of the world. THUNK. Those romances have…

Gayle Leeson | Eccentricities
Author Guest / December 5, 2017

Eccentricities. We all have them. And as long as we aren’t too eccentric, we and the people around us think we’re “normal” or “okay.” If you’ve read my books, then you know that I love writing eccentric characters. The Down South Café series has an abundance of them. Aunt Bess is an octogenarian who has discovered the Internet. She has Pinterest boards such as People I’ve Outlived and Lord, Have Mercy. Aunt Bess has also been known to use dating sites during their free trial periods. Still mentally sharp as a whip, Aunt Bess has an opinion on everything. Dilly Boyd, an older woman who comes to the Down South Café for breakfast every morning, feeds a raccoon a biscuit every evening. I have to admit that I didn’t come up with that scenario on my own. A few years ago, my family stopped at a house near my mother-in-law’s home to see some puppies. As we talked with the dogs’ owner, she mentioned that a raccoon came out of the woods and down to her back porch every evening at dusk. She said, “I give him a biscuit, and he goes on his way.” “You have to give him…

Amanda Ashby | Top 5 Ways to Cure a Heartbreak
Author Guest / December 5, 2017

In my new book, THE HEARTBREAK CURE, sixteen year old Cat Turner finds herself dumped and humiliated a week before starting her junior year at high school. She also finds herself the recipient of some heartbreak brownies. For years, Birdie, the old woman who once lived next door has been handing out these chocolate sugary delights to anyone who needs them.In the past Cat’s always scoffed at the idea, but when her own brownies get delivered by Birdie’s gorgeous ,but bad boy grandson, Alex Locke, Cat starts to discover that brownies can work in mysterious ways! And while the true healing takes a bit more than biting into a brownie, I loved the idea that in a strange way it was the gift that helped Cat find a way back to a new normal. So, I thought it would be fun to look at some other ways to get over heartbreak. The healing power of comfort food. Okay, so this might not be scientifically backed up, but there’s something so delicious about indulging in something we really love, and I like to think of it as an act of self-care. It’s allowing ourselves to feel the trauma and hurt of…