Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lisa Medley's Debut in New Harlequin Line

Today I’m happy to welcome fellow Ozarks Romance Author member Lisa Medley whose debut urban fantasy novel REAP & REPENT just released on March 3. Congratulations Lisa! Your story to publication is unique and exciting. Would you share a little of that with us?

My story began with a contest. Which I lost. In September of 2012, I entered the Harlequin "So You Think You Can Write contest. Out of more than 700 global entries, my first 5,000 words made it into the Top 28 when I was asked to submit the full manuscript for final judging. After more than a month of grueling waiting and nail biting via social media, I learned I had not moved on to the Top 3.

At that point, I pretty much considered the adventure over. I was proud of how well my book had fared and was ready to begin the long road to submitting it for publication. As I made my plan of attack but before I had actually sent it anywhere, I got a THE CALL from Harlequin for its newly launching imprint, Harlequin E.

They bought the first book (the contest entry) and the next two in the series. All three will publish this year.

What a fantastic story. And it's a perfect one. Love how your publishing came from a contest you lost! Please tell us a little about your debut title.  
For an overview, here's the blurb:
Deacon Walker is a burned out loner, whose two hundred years as a reaper have left him empty inside. But when he meets Ruth Scott, a gorgeous shut-in with unusual gifts, he’s forced to set his career complacency aside to train her for a destiny she never knew existed. Soon the two will face the ultimate test: a battle against demons determined to destroy humanity, one soul at a time.

Great blurb, Lisa.How did the concept for the reapers come to you?

I needed something that hadn’t been reincarnated for the umteenth bazillionth time. Something that might stand out in a crowded field of paranormal monsters in love.

I chose reapers because there just weren’t that many authors writing about them. The reapers I knew of aren’t sexy. Reapers are death. And skeletal. And…grim. So I set out to make them better. Still human-looking but human DELUXE! Lots of dark potential there. I sat down and got to work making a world for them to live in, threw in some demons, an evil fallen angel and the Reaper Series was born. 

Sounds fantastic.Would you share an excerpt?

Absolutely. This is from the Prologue.

What does a guy have to do around here to get some service? Deacon Walker marveled as he glared at the undulating queue of grotesque reapers in front of him. 

For all that’s holy, move the hell along already.

It had been a long week, and it wasn’t over yet. He needed to make at least one more pass through the hospital circuit before he could call it a day. He could already feel the tug of a freshly departed soul. Again. People were dropping like flies lately.

He massaged his brow, trying to soothe his exhausted patience as the line inched forward at a snail’s pace.

He was worn thin. Over the past few weeks, three demon soul poachers had popped up in his fair city of Meridian like poisonous mushrooms after a hard rain. While it wasn’t unheard of for one to slip out from Hell every now and then, three was a nightmare.

When it got topside, a demon’s M.O. was to steal a human body, poach a few souls from the dead and dying, and then make its merry way back to Hell, taking its host’s soul along for the ride. The only way to save the souls a poacher was carrying was to behead the host with a scythe. Not a pretty thing to do, but the poor suckers were too far gone by then to survive anyway. No human could withstand the pressures of being ridden by a demon. And it was worth it to save a handful of souls, not to mention inconveniencing the demon.

Deacon refused to lose any souls from his territory. At all.

So far the score was Deacon, 3. Demons, 0.

As a reaper, carrying souls to Purgatory for judgment was his job and he wasn’t about to cede his territory to poachers who used up their hosts like they were disposable Tupperware. So now, in addition to his normal day job, he also had to keep an eye out for more demon invaders.

While demons burned through most human hosts in a matter of days, some in a matter of hours, they had discovered long ago that under the right circumstances they could ride a reaper. Of course, they couldn’t just worm their way in like they did with humans—they had to be invited. But once a deal was struck? They were in.

And reapers? Yeah, they could hang on for decades inside a reaper. Deacon knew that fact firsthand.

His stomach twisted at the thought, but he shook it off, looking ahead with a heavy sigh.

Seriously, this line? Still. Not. Moving?
God, he needed a freakin’ vacation. Extended. He dragged a hand through his hair in frustration as his mind flipped through postcard-esque locations of reapings past. He snarled at the thought of New Orleans in summer. He would definitely want to go someplace cool—cool as in frigid, not hip. He was sick of the heat, and it was only the beginning of summer in the semitropical Midwest.

Come to think of it, he was sick of a lot of things.

This place was high on the list. It was as hot as…well, Hell actually. Or at least what he imagined Hell to be, although he’d never actually been there. Thank God.

Steam rose from random cracks in the stone floor of the underground station, veiling the place in a humid sulfur stench.

He pushed forward, finally making his way to the front to deposit his cargo of souls. He didn’t bother chatting. In. Out. Move on. It was a motto that served him well.

Mission completed, he hustled through the crowd, forgoing the bar-side frivolity of some of the more socially inclined reapers and their small talk about their glory days in the field or—even better—the missteps of the newest reapers. Newbies often tested their limits to humorous if not disastrous effect at least once in their early careers. That was exactly why new reapers had mentors or at least worked in teams. From all the laughter, he could tell that the stories were good ones. It didn’t tempt him.

He slapped his palm against the black granite monolith and flashed out of Purgatory to what he prayed was his last stop of the day.

I love this story! What’s your next project?

My current WIP is a ghost romance called Haunt My Heart about a hexed Civil War soldier who gets a second chance at life. I’m halfway through the writing of the first draft. After that, it’s back to the reapers for book four. The characters are already talking to me … late at night.

That premise sounds great. Now, what one tip would you offer writers?

Keep writing. Don’t get stuck on your first work. Write it, polish it, start submitting it and move on to your next project. You’ll have to keep juggling but you might have to plant a lot of seeds before something starts to grow. It only takes one seed grown to fruition to reap a harvest.

Excellent advice. What if we want to know more about reapers?

I’ll be posting on my website Lisa Medley, Author Blog all month about my reaper world. Come visit and leave a comment so I’ll know you stopped by!

Here's a little more about Lisa. Lisa Medley writes reapers. The grim kind. Her urban fantasy romance, REAP & REPENT is available now in a Harlequin E Box Set with three other Harlequin debut authors. A lover of beasties of all sorts, she has a farm full of them in her SW MO home including:  one child, one husband, two dogs, two cats, a dozen hens, thousands of Italian bees and a guinea pig. Not so in love with the guinea pig. She can do ten pushups IN A ROW and may or may not have a complete zombie apocalypse bug-out bag in her trunk at all times. Just. In. Case.

 REAP & REPENT is available in a Harlequin E Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance Box Set with the works of three other amazing new Harlequin authors! REPEAT & REPENT will be available for single-title release June 2, 2014.

Follow Lisa on Social Media here:

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Death in the Wind With Chrys Fey's "Hurricane Crimes"

Welcome to fellow Rose, Chrys Fey, whose short story “Hurricane Crimes,” was released Nov. 25, 2013 by The Wild Rose Press. In mid 2014, she will be coming out with her second romantic-suspense eBook, 30 SECONDS.

She created the blog Write with Fey to offer aspiring writers advice and inspiration. She lives in Florida where she is ready to battle the next hurricane that comes her way. 

You are definitely a warrior to face those battles, Chrys! Please tell us a little about the story.

After her car breaks down, Beth Kennedy is forced to stay in Florida, the target of Hurricane Sabrina. She stocks up supplies, boards up windows, and hunkers down to wait out the storm, but her plan unravels when she witnesses a car accident. Risking her life, she braves the winds to save the driver. Just when she believes they are safe, she finds out the man she saved could possibly be more dangerous than the severe weather.

Donovan Goldwyn only wanted to hide from the police, but the hurricane shoved his car into a tree. Now he's trapped with a beautiful woman while the evidence that can prove his innocence to a brutal crime is out there for anyone to find.

As Hurricane Sabrina wreaks havoc, Beth has no other choice but to trust Donovan to stay alive. But will she survive, or will she become another hurricane crime?

What drew you to this story? 

The hurricane! I had just finished reading a book set during a blizzard and was disappointed because I don’t get to experience blizzards in Florida. I have, however, experienced hurricanes. I knew I had to create a story about a hurricane for other Floridians and other people who have been impacted by hurricanes.

Oh, my. After this winter, I’ll be happy to share snow and ice with you, although I admit, I haven’t faced a blizzard in years. Would you share an excerpt of “Hurricane Storms”?

Love to. Here it is.

On the television set, which was fighting to stay alive, was breaking news. She caught bits and pieces of it as she emptied the bowl of blood-tainted water and threw out the cloth. It was about a high-speed chase that had occurred about a half-hour ago. Beth shook her head. Apparently, Donovan wasn’t the only idiot driving around during a hurricane.

She went back into the living room and began replacing all the medical supplies into the first-aid kit. Behind her, a reporter was explaining that the driver of the car was believed to be a murder suspect.

“The name of the—”

The lights flashed, prompting Beth to snatch up her flashlight.

“Donovan Goldwyn.”

Her fingers went cold around the plastic tube as ice frosted her veins. She straightened her spine and turned stiffly to the television, her heart wasn’t beating in her chest. On the screen was the picture of the man who was right now changing in her bedroom. Above it was a caption in bold letters that read—SUSPECT.

She gripped the flashlight in her frozen fingers. Her heart thudded fearfully. She stared into the immobilized violet eyes through the glass.
“Oh my god,” she gasped.

She had brought a murderer into her home!

How terrifying! And I can tell everyone, it’s a great opening to a gripping story. I enjoyed it so much. Next is your book 30 SECONDS, coming this summer, right?

Yes, my second romantic-suspense, 30 SECONDS, will be coming out sometime this summer by The Wild Rose Press. 30 Seconds is about a woman who finds herself in the middle of a war between a police force and a deadly mob.

What one tip would you offer writers?

I am full of writing tips. I share many of them on my blog and try to share one a week on Facebook page, but the one writing tip I’ll offer now is this: Be open to criticism. Criticism can be hard to hear, but if an editor, agent, or beta readers scribbles a note on your query letter or in the margins of your story, pay attention to what it says because the fact that they took the time to actually jot it down for you is a big deal. I’ve greatly improved my writing by being open to criticism I’ve received.

Excellent advice. Do you have a special place you like to write?

My desk. The desk itself and where it is isn’t special, but the items on it are very special to me, such as a green power ranger my oldest nephew gave me to put on my desk, and an empty wine bottle with a letter inside it. This letter is a tradition I do every year. On New Year’s Eve, I create a list of goals and things I hope will happen for the New Year.  It’s always fun to take it out during the last minutes of the year and see what I’ve accomplished.

Thanks so much for being here today, Chrys, and best of luck with this and your upcoming release. I hope you’ll come back again.

Thank you, Barbara! And you can count on me returning. :)

You can find Chrys at:
Book Links: