Monday, March 25, 2013

To Win a Heart by R.R. Smythe + Giveaway!

R.R. Smythe is one of my favorite author friends, who's here with us today to share some romance tips from her newest novel. R.R. is the YA fantasy alter ego of Brynn Chapman, who joined us in November last year. Readers, please help me welcome the delightful R.R.!

How to Win a Heart

When Karielle asked me to write a guest post, she said a popular theme of the blog was how the heroine ‘gets’ the guy.

I thought on this, related to my new book, Heart Murmurs. But in order to get to there, we need to meet our heroine. Here’s a bit about the book:

Mia Templeton is dying. Or was dying. After receiving a heart transplant, her world is forever altered. Before her eyes open, she overhears her donor was a murdered girl of the same age. Whispers invade Mia’s head before she’s even left the recovery room. She develops tastes for foods she once hated, and dreams so vivid, she feels they’re someone else’s memories. Her personality is altered—once a quiet doormat, she’s now inexplicably flippant, and confident. And her unexplained longing for the new boy at school is borderline obsessive.

Morgan Kelley is new. Adopted by his aunt, a descendent of Louisa May Alcott of the Little Women fame, he’s thrown into life at a new high school, and as a historical guide for his aunt’s store—a homage to all things Alcott. Conspiracy theories abound about his mangled lower leg—but no one has been brave enough to ask. Until Mia.

Something is awry with the Underground Railroad tunnels beneath his aunt's home. Mia and Morgan enter the world of a secret Literary Society—and are drafted to help bring a rogue Literary giant to justice, solve the mystery of her heart donor, the the real fate of Beth from Little Women.

For some, the key to happiness is letting go of the past, for others, it’s embracing it.
Heart Murmurs is based on the concept of cellular memory; that the bodies RNA may carry a part of our consciousness into an organ donor. I researched memoirs of people who experienced this phenomenon. The historical portion is based on the life of Louisa May Alcott, ardent feminist, visionary, civil war nurse and abolitionist.

At the beginning of our story, pre-transplant, Mia is nice. Very nice. Too nice. She allows people to walk on her and rarely asserts her true feelings. 

There is a phenomenon that sometimes occurs (rarely) in heart transplants where the recipient begins to manifest personality traits from the donor.

Rumors abound about Mia’s donor. One says her donor was a murdered homeless girl. Others... say she was someone else.

Back to love. Post–transplant, Mia becomes less fearful, and begins to speak her mind. She feels it is her second chance at life, and she is going to live it.

Morgan, our hero, never met [re-transplant Mia. And although he loves her personality, two integral pieces of her are what make him fall for her: 
Her goodness. 

Both pre- and post-transplant, Mia is inherently good. Morgan sees that and is drawn to it.

Mia is true to herself, and doesn’t try to be somebody she isn’t, and she’s happy with who she is. Morgan is drawn to her proud yet humble personality.

So being you, and being happy about being you—is the best beginning for any relationship. Morgan and Mia included.

If you enjoy love, enjoy being a little scared, and enjoy history, this is the book for you. 
Click "read more" for an exclusive excerpt from Chapter 1 to get you started!

I don’t remember dying.

“Stand back. Clear!”

Nothing. A feeling of floating, weightlessness.

“Oh, please, please, baby.” My mother’s voice, sounding uncharacteristically hysterical.

“Clear!” A spreading, burning under my ribcage. Followed by a surging river of heat to my heart. It stutters, rumbling like a kettledrum inside my ribs, and up into my skull.

“Come on, Mia.” My father, unglued.

The steady beep-beep-beep of a monitor and the whooshing of a respirator. My chest rises up and down without my permission, a puppet to the machine. A rushing sound, like water filling a vacuum, clogs my ears. My new heart, my new heart, accelerates, beating so fast, it feels as if it will take flight from my newly stapled sternum.

A dull, muted pain aches through my chest; which will, no doubt, intensify when the drugs wear off.

“Too fast.” The monitor is screaming, wailing like a kid’s tantrum.

Two choked sobs. Mom... and Beth.

Beth is here, how wonderful. I try to move my fingers, to tell her I’m okay. Don’t cry.

My brain says lift, but all I got was—“Her fingers twitched. I saw them.” Beth’s voice, relieved and oh-so scared.

My heart thrums, finally steady and even. It feels strange, too far back in my chest. Like an ill-fitting shirt. I raise my hands to try to scratch it, adjust it.

“Mia? Mia, can you hear me? We’re all here, darling. Dad and Beth, and Claire is outside.”

I feel the tube down my throat, choking me. I suck in for air, but my chest rises on its own, interfering with my breathing. I feel like I’m suffocating, despite the oxygen shoved up my nostrils.

“She’s trying to breathe on her own. We need to adjust the respirator. Easy, Mia.” Dr. Starzel, my own personal medical savior.

Two unfamiliar, whispering, conspiratorial voices, “I can’t believe they found a donor, just in time.”

“The report said it was a homeless girl. She was murdered.”

“For heaven’s sake! She may be able to hear you. One more word and I’ll have both of your babbling traps fired.” My father chastises the women, whom I guess to be nurses, by the soft squeaks of their retreating Crocs.

I have a murder victim’s heart? Worry tickles the back of my brain. How did they find a donor? How—I’m struck with pain so blinding, I feel my brain shrivel inward. Like a cowering child. And hear nothing.

The weightless feeling is back.

I feel the burning rush of something shoot into my IV. It’s liquid fire.

I trace its path up my arm, into my brain, addling it. But relief is the trade-off. The pain backs off.

Thump-thump. Thump-
thump. It is the only sound I hear, for what seems a very long time...

About the Author

Born and raised in western Pennsylvania, R.R. Smythe is the daughter of two teachers. Her writing reflects her passions: science, history and love—not necessarily in that order. In real life, the geek gene runs strong in her family, as does the Asperger’s syndrome. Her writing reflects her experience as a pediatric therapist and her interactions with society’s downtrodden. In fiction, she’s a strong believer in underdogs and happily-ever-afters. She also writes non-fiction and lectures on the subjects of autism and sensory integration and is a medical contributor to online journal, The Age of Autism.

She also writes under the pseudonym Brynn Chapman.


Mia sounds like an amazing character—can't wait to read the book to find out more about her and her budding relationship with Morgan.

One lucky Books à la Mode commenter will win:

A $10 Amazon gift card

And another lucky commenter will win an eBook of Heart Murmurs and some R.R. Smythe swag (bookmarks, post cards, etc.). All prizes courtesy of our lovely author!

To enter, all you have to do is tell us what YOU would do to 'get' the guy/girl if you were a romance novel character in the comments below :) I wanna hear what you've got! We want thoughtful, relevant responses, here... comments like "I would be nice, thanks for the giveaway" and "I don't know, but great excerpt" will not be eligible for the contest. Make your words count!

A strategy I use in real life is finding a common interest (in sports, music, books, etc.), or finding a common disinterest. The only thing that can connect two people better than a mutual like is a mutual hate, LOL! For example, if I know a guy hates the Steelers, I'll chime in with him and we'll graciously sit and fume and hate the Steelers together. It's quite a relationship-builder.

What about you?

Extra entries to those who follow R.R. or me! Keep track of all your entries with the Rafflecopter form below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway Rules and Disclosure:
Giveaway ends April 9th at 11.59 (your time).
Open internationally! Woohooo!
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their prize will be forfeited and a new winner will be chosen.
Although I do select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤ Plus you get extra entries ;) Please show your gratitude and follow R.R. in some way, as she has been generous enough to provide these fabulous prizes.
Good luck!