Genre : YA
Publisher: Astraea Press
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 descendant of Louisa May Alcott (Little Women), 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. Till 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 real fate of Beth from Little Women.
Excerpt Opening Heart Murmurs:
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 .
Heart Murmurs Love in a Book
Q: Tell us about yourself.
A: 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.
Q: How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?
A: I have written 7 books that are currently published, you can see them all at my website http://www.brynnchapmanauthor.com In the works are two sequels, and two works in progress. Yes, my brain refuses to shut up lol. As to a favorite, that is like asking which child is your favorite; you love them all for different reasons.
Q: Has your muse always known what genre you would write and be published in?
A: Absolutely not. I had no idea ‘who I wanted to be when I grew up’ in the literary sense. It took years of feedback from editors, other writers, agents to say, this is what you do best, and for me to find what I loved. My books now are almost all in the same genre, but my earlier work genre-skips. As a matter of fact, one of my publishers plans on releasing older titles in a sale collection, and we’re playing on the genre-skipping in the title.
Q; How far do you plan ahead?
A: I finally understand my own process, so I will usually be working on edits for a soon-to-be-published, and either researching or writing the next book. I never go more than a month after a book is completed without starting another.
Q; Do you or have you belonged to a writing organization? Which one? Have the helped you with your writing? How?
A: I belong to RWA, have been on the board at YARWA and belong to IRI and Giam. Each provide different supports and all have been instrumental to my growth. I plan to eventually join the Science Fiction and Fantasy Professional Organization as well.
Q: Do you have critique partners?
A: Yes. Especially early in your career, they are really important—be sure that you are a good match however. Ideally you should pair with people who are strong in something you lack. Ie Your strength is plot, theirs is grammar, whatever. I am very proud of all my cp’s: MV Freeman, DT Krippene, and Marlo Berliner.
Q: Did you have several manuscripts finished before you sold? If so, did you send them out yourself?
A: Hmm. I have an odd story. I sold my first book myself, to a small press. However, I knew nothing. Underline nothing. I did not belong to a professional writing organization, knew nothing of contracts, rights etc. It took years of learning about the business side of writing. If you’re new, join a professional organization. It is well worth the dues. 😉
Q: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
A: Ug. I’m a puzzler—a far more heinous sort that pantster or plotter. So I loosely outline, pantster between, but then due to plot twists, have to go back through and puzzle out and layer and foreshadow. Sigh.
Q: Do you have a view in your writing space? What does your space look like?
A: That answer is seasonal. During the summer and fall, I spend as much time on my deck as possible. In the winter, just picture any Panera, and that’s my official office space lol.
Q: Where can readers find you?
Thanks for hosting me and happy happy reading!!!!
R R Smythe