ACFW New Releases–April 2017

Don’t miss out on this month’s new releases from fellow ACFW authors! Pick up a new book to read over spring break!

April 2017 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:
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Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon — When a police chief and an ex-con join forces to keep a young man from falling into a life of crime, sparks fly. Given their backgrounds, it’s not a promising match—but in Hope Harbor, anything is possible. (Contemporary Romance from Revell [Baker])

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Oh Baby by Delia Latham — Dawni Manors seeks peace in Angel Falls, Texas. What she finds is a cowboy, an abandoned infant, and emotional chaos. If the Heart’s Haven angels really are there, what in the world are they thinking? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

General: Continue reading

Flash Fiction Friday: The Neighbor

Anya slid her fingers through Fabio’s thick curls, marveled at his broad chest. How had it only been twenty-four hours? The love of her life had swept in, whisked her away to paradise—

Jessica snorted and tossed the paperback on the sofa before she headed to the kitchen for coffee. Ridiculous. Romance novels were all the same—perfectly plain heroine meets perfectly chiseled hero and they fall in love immediately. Not reality.

She leaned against the counter, sipped her beverage and sighed. Then again, who was she to judge, right? She hadn’t had a date in over a year. Apparently perfectly plain Jessica wasn’t perfect.

Charlie, her cat, rubbed along her leg. She picked him up and nuzzled him. “You would be the perfect man if you were human, wouldn’t you?”

If only finding a man was as easy as picking a cat. Heck, she didn’t even need a six-foot-four model named Fabio with jet black curls that fell to his shoulders, thick biceps and straight alabaster teeth. She’d take Mr. Average with a dad-bod, who was balding.

Jessica showered, got ready, unloaded the dishwasher, and folded a load of towels. Maybe someday Mr. Wonderful would appear.

“Have a good day,” she whispered to Charlie before she headed out the door of her apartment.

As she locked her door, she heard bangs from the new tenant as they moved in across the hall. She turned to leave and—

“Hello, beautiful. I’m new here.” A man with dark curly hair, the broadest shoulders she’d ever seen, and a smile that would put Jake Gyllenhaal to shame, towered before her.

Her jaw dropped.

The man smiled. “My name’s Fabio. I’d love to get to know you.”

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

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Photo credit Pixabay by Olichel

Caffeinated Speculation: Have you seen the trailer for “It”?

All right, where are my Stephen King fans? Are you obsessed with his books? Love his movies? If so, this post is for you!

So, this week the brand new trailer for Stephen King’s “It” came out. (You can watch it here, if you’re brave enough!) I have a confession—I probably wouldn’t have even known this movie was coming out if it weren’t for my teenaged girls. See, we happen to be pretty big “Stranger Things” fans. (Like we have a countdown for season 2 in flashing neon lights dead center of our living room. Just kidding! The colors are in glitter, not neon. *winky face*) Anywho…just as any teen likes to do, my girls particularly enjoy following their favorite actors on every form of social media possible. (“Watch this clip of Gaten Matarazzo falling, mom! It’s hilarious!”) Naturally, they know every single detail of every star of the show and regularly tweet to them. (*Mom hides face in palm*) My middle daughter even bought the same ring Millie Bobby Brown wears because, duh! That makes her just like Millie!

I digress. Back to confession: Okay, so the only reason “IT” was on my radar in the first place is because Mike from ST (Finn Wolfhard—And yes, my “middle” also owns the “Finn Wolfhard” T-shirt!) happens to be in “It”! Are you following me? (Phew. I think I need to sit down.) So, my girls have been waiting eagerly for this trailer to come out and this week their heads exploded into a million pieces because it did.

The end.

Okay, maybe not. But they did get super excited and have watched the thing a billion-and-one times already, if that’s a thing. But here’s the sad part—their writer-mama has never even read this book. (*Writer-mama runs and hides in corner*) Yes, yes. I hear you guffawing but really, I like horror just as much as any other girl, but I haven’t read this book. Because, CLOWNS!

Ack! Are you kidding me? I’ve never wanted to read the book—or certainly never see the original movie—because I don’t have a death wish of clowns. But here’s the thing: I think I’m going to read it now. For real! I’m geared up and ready to hit the library today so I can grab me a copy of the SK-man and read up on some scary scary clownage. And the weird part is, I’m sort of excited about it.

This begs the question: Will I be in the theater in September when this baby hits the big screen? Answer: If I can get through the stupid book, then yes. I’d like to see how the movie compares. One thing is for certain, though. I’ll be sitting alone in that overly crowded theater watching Pennywise scare little children because neither of my girls will be with me. They’ve watched the trailer a hundred times but have already said they’re too afraid to see the movie. Because, ya know…

CLOWNS.

What about you? Have you read the book? Seen the original? Plan to the see new installment? What are you thoughts on this classic horror novel and where is your excitement level in this whole thing? Feel free to share below! I’d love to find someone who’s just as scared of clowns as I am!

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Freaking scary poster for the freaking scary movie.

Flash Fiction Friday: The Gas Station

The GPS was dead.

There was no cell service, either. Fifteen miles had passed without any connection with the world.

“Think we’ll find a gas station soon?” Ben said.

Maryann cringed. “How low are we?”

“Let’s put it this way…once we’re out of fumes, we’ll be walking.”

“And you’re sure this isn’t the right road?”

“Positive.” He ran a hand through his hair, gave a futile glance in the rearview mirror. Not a single car had passed by in the last hour. “Maybe this road-trip through the desert wasn’t such a good idea.”

“Well, at least it’s cloudy so it’s not so hot.” She stifled a smile.

“For now,” he grumbled. “With my luck—”

“Hey!” She sat up. “Is that a gas station ahead?”

He squinted. “Huh. Maybe my luck is changing.”

The car rolled into the vacant station and stopped in front of the pump, chugged, then died.

“Whoa.” Her eyes were wide.

He began pumping. “Hey honey, check this out. This thing looks like it could be from the 1950’s or something. It’s one of those old style pumps.”

She bit her lip and looked around. Where were all the other patrons?

Once done, they went inside to pay. A bell rang over the door and the two stopped cold.

“Wow,” she said. “This place takes the vintage thing to another level.”

She ran her fingers over the varnished wood counter, eyed the jars of penny candy. Norman Rockwell paintings covered the walls. Signage for Texaco and an advertisement for Lucky Strike cigarettes that said, “So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed” sat on the counter.

“Check this out,” he said.

He stood next to an ice-filled red chest labeled Coca-Cola. An hourglass shaped glass bottle of purple liquid fizzed in his hand.

“Grapette?”

“Ooo, grab me one,” she said.

“You folks ‘bout done?” A man with white hair stood at the register.

“Just need to pay for our fill up. How much is it?”

“Cheapest price in town. Twenty-five cents per gallon,” the man said.

Their jaws dropped.

“Excuse me?” she said.

“That’s impossible,” Ben added.

The man held one hand up. “Sorry. Can’t go a penny lower.”

“He takes this old fashioned thing seriously,” Maryann muttered.

Ben smiled. “No problem. Also, we’ll take these sodas.”

“They’re a nickel a piece,” the man said.

She guffawed but Ben threw a five on the counter and turned to leave.

“Wait!” she said. “We need a map.”

“That’ll run you a dime.”

“How in the—”

“Great!” Ben said. “We’ll take it.”

Once in the car, they pulled onto a side road and stared straight ahead.

“Did that just happen?” she said.

“Yep.”

“How does he stay in business?”

Ben shrugged.

She frowned. “Maybe I should’ve used the bathroom. Mind if we run back?”

“Sure, we—” His mouth fell open and he froze, his gaze behind them.

“Ben?”

“Where’s the station?”

She turned to see nothing but desert landscape.

“Maybe this was our lucky day, after all.”

 

© Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

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Original artwork by Anthony L. Croman

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Original artwork by Anthony L. Croman

Flash Fiction Friday: Honey

“Heather, did you take the honey?”

The little girl withered.

“It was a full jar,” Momma said.

“Well….” Heather fidgeted with her dress.

Momma crossed her arms. “Did you give it to your imaginary friends again?”

Heather looked down.

“How many times have I told you?” her Momma huffed. “It’s a waste of food! We’ll get rats if you keep shoving food under the floorboards!”

She threw her hands up and stomped away.

Heather knelt and lifted the floorboard. “You okay, Scrimrim?” she said to her Brownie friend.

The fairy nodded and smiled, then took another lick of his honey.

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

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Photo Credit Unsplash by Amelia Bartlett

Cover Reveal: SPARK by J.M. Hackman

Hey guys! I’m super excited to be part of author J.M. Hackman’s cover reveal for her new book, Spark! I’ve read a portion of this and can already say I can’t wait to read the whole thing! This is one YA fantasy novel you won’t want to miss!

And check out this amazing cover! Isn’t it gorgeous? May can’t come soon enough! Be sure to mark your calendar to grab this fantastic new YA series.

Spark: The Firebrand Chronicles, Book One

by J.M. Hackman

Release Date: May 16, 2017
L2L2 Publishing, LLC

Spark_cover_med_resSynopsis:

Brenna James wants three things for her sixteenth birthday: to find her history notes before the test, to have her mother return from her business trip, and to stop creating fire with her bare hands. Yeah, that’s so not happening. Unfortunately.

When Brenna learns her mother is missing in an alternate reality called Linneah, she travels through a portal to find her. Against her will. Who knew portals even existed? But Brenna’s arrival in Linneah begins the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy, including a royal murder and the theft of Linneah’s most powerful relic: the Sacred Veil. Hold up. Can everything just slow down for a sec?

Continue reading

Guest Post: 8 Ways to Find Brilliant Story Ideas by Kellie M. Parker

Hello, readers of Caffeinated Fiction! I’m delighted to join you here today. One of the things people often ask me when they find out I’m a writer is, “How do you come up with your story ideas?”

Great question! I’ve put together a list of 8 different techniques I’ve used to find inspiration for my stories. Hopefully they’ll help you too!

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Photo credit PEXELS

  1. Asking “What if?” questions

The world is full of interesting possibilities when you start asking questions, and you can use this tactic to look for ideas wherever and whenever you have time to think.

What if the magnetic poles suddenly reversed? What if everyone born in 1999 had superpowers? What if a future version of you shows up in a time machine in your living room?

There are so many things in life we take for granted, like gravity and running water and the weather. Turn some of those things upside-down and see what happens. Once you start asking questions, you never know where your imagination will take you! Continue reading

Flash Fiction Friday: The Comic Book

Harold was second in line.

He’d fought hard to be the first one out of school, in a race to the comic book store to be there for the three o’clock release of the latest issue of Aardvark Boy. This was the big one. The one where he would learn the fate of Aardvark Boy’s sidekick, Sloth Girl! Had the sinister Roach Man succeeded in killing her? Blood pounded through Harold’s veins as he bounced on his toes. He’d waited a full month for this day!

The person ahead in line was Rob Lambert. A seventh-grader, he was one year behind Harold in school. The kid was weird. Like, really weird. Harold hadn’t seen him with many friends, but that didn’t come as a surprise. Mostly Rob could be seen sitting with his nose in a book–usually a comic–and he often talked to himself. Far too much to be considered normal.

The bell over the door rang and a loud holler drew the attention of everyone in line, which already wrapped around the store. A group of five boys entered, each with a cocky grin in place as they sauntered over to Rob.

Harold cringed. These guys were bad news. They were from his class and pretty much ruled the school. The teachers thought the boys were so great, and all the girls fell at their feet. Why? Harold had no clue. They were just a bunch of jerks.

“Hey, Rob-eee,” one of them said. “Mind if we jump in line?”

“Um…erm.” Rob visibly shook and sweat appeared along his hairline. “S-sure.”

Harold eyes went wide. No! That’s totally not fair! 

“Thanks, little guy.” The jerk patted Rob on the shoulder like he was a child. The group laughed.

Fire burned inside Harold’s chest. He wanted to say something, to tell those kids where they could go and just how to do it. But starting a fight and getting kicked out of his favorite comic store wasn’t a good idea. He shoved his pride back down and simmered.

The sales clerk appeared from behind a red curtain that led to the back, and stepped up to the cash register. Harold’s heart skipped a beat. This was it!

“Folks,” the clerk said. “I have some disappointing news. We only got a few copies of Aardvark Boy. The distributor promised a full shipment on Wednesday. They’ve sent along free copies of another comic in reparation.”

Harold’s heart sank. No big deal. He was seventh in line. Surely the company had sent at least ten copies, right?

The five jerks got their copies and gave a hoot as they left the store. Rob stepped up and grabbed his issue of Aardvark Boy. Then it was Harold’s turn.

“Sorry son. That’s all I’ve got. Here’s a brand new comic, Bubblegum Girl.

Harold grumbled. Figures. 

Outside he flipped open the front cover. Something was stuck tight between the crease. What…? He pulled. An envelope with writing on it.

“Your reward for patience and kindness. Pass it on.” 

Inside was a crisp fifty dollar bill. His jaw dropped. He glanced around. Everyone else read their comic but no one had gotten an envelope. He didn’t deserve this at all!

An idea formed in his mind. “Hey! Rob!” He jogged to catch up to the boy. “Mind if I take you out for ice cream?”

Rob’s face lit up. “Sure! We can read Aardvark Boy together, then!”

Harold smiled. He wouldn’t have to wait until Wednesday, after all.

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017

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Photo credit Unsplash by Mitch Rosen

ACFW New Releases–March 2017

Here it is! This month’s list of new releases from the ACFW community. Lots of fun books from Romance to Fantasy! Check them out!

 

March 2017 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:reunion-at-crane-lake
Reunion at Crane Lake
by Robin Bayne — Colt’s memory is returning after the accident that ended his career. Now he wants to take over his family’s inn, but he’ll have to partner with his former fiancée to be able to afford it. He’ll need forgiveness to make that happen. Tia’s goal is clear: to return the inn to its former grandeur. And she’ll even work with Colt to do so. But like the inn, their relationship needs a lot of work. He broke her heart…can she ever trust him again? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

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Hope
by Fay Lamb — She’s a starving artist facing a serious illness; he’s the doctor who’s her only hope of survival. If only she hadn’t caused his sister to die. (Contemporary Romance from Write Integrity Press)

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Muffins & Moonbeams
by Elizabeth Maddrey — Malachi Baxter is happy to hide in the background and manage the business-end of the family bakery. Continue reading

Flash Fiction Friday: The Date

Chris rolled his eyes at the selection of flowers in the grocery store. When had the price gone up? He sighed and grabbed a bundle of discounted carnations. Whatever. It was only a blind date.

One self-checkout register was open and a woman headed for it. He sped up and cut her off just in time to make it look like he’d arrived first. Her sour look said she knew his game. He shrugged to himself. He couldn’t be late.

The coffee shop was around the corner. There were plenty of parking spaces open but he wanted one near the door. He hit the gas to snag a spot from another car with it’s blinker on. Was that the woman from the store? Small world.

He raced inside and looked around. No single ladies here yet. What did she look like?

“Chris?”

The woman from the store walked in. Chris’ throat closed and his palms went sweaty.

“I’m Lisa.”

He gulped.

She crossed her arms. “I’m your date.”

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman

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Photo credit Unsplash by Clem Onojeghuo