by Kelli McCracken
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“You’ve suffered a terrible tragedy, Jo.” That’s what my doctor keeps telling me. All I know is that I’ve lost everything—my ability to play piano, six years of my life, my will to live…
The only thing keeping Jocelyn 'Jo' Hayes from falling apart is her brother, Brighton, whose past is sketchier than her mind. Brighton’s hiding secrets. He refuses to give Jo the answers she needs, but after she meets the mysterious Adam, she decides to keep secrets of her own.
As Jo’s recovery fluctuates, Adam’s purpose in her life grows more confusing. Then Paxton Carr shows up at her door. His resemblance to Adam sends Jo’s on a quest to discover the truth and regain her memories.
But the truth doesn’t always set someone free. Will Jo find the missing pieces of her memory and solve the riddle she calls life, or will the ugly truth destroy what’s left of her mind?
What people are saying about Heartstrings:
All I can say is Kelli McCracken blew my mind but in a good way. WOW! So AMAZING! ~ Sweet N Sassy Book A Holics
I am not new to Kelli McCracken's ability to create art with words...as having read the Soulmate series books, but I must say she blew me away with this book! Her characters are so real and simply become a part of your life from page one until the end...and linger after that. ~ Lara Lynn
This book has the most precious love story written. I would love to see it on the big screen. Without a doubt, Kelli is the Queen of Romance within a mystery package. She is especially my number one author for love stories. ~ Dee Archer
I cannot begin to describe how much I enjoyed this book. It's so full of emotion and keeps you guessing all the way through! I couldn't bare to stop reading, and devoured it in just one day! ~ Kim
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I'm just a crazy lady who listens to the voices in her head and writes stories about these pesky people. lol. I've been writing since I was 13 years old (11 if you count poetry). I'm a chocolate connoisseur, professional percolator, and master in the art of procrastination. Some people say I have a sense of humor. Who'da thunk it? :-D
I write paranormal romance, though it's on the lighter side. The first book in my Soulmate Series was mistaken for a contemporary romance by a lot of readers. There's more of a paranormal element in the subsequent books. I do plan to write a few contemporary novels soon, but paranormal is my chosen genre.
Which writers inspire you?
Edgar Allan Poe is part of the reason I began writing. His work is dark but passionate. He knew how to hit a nerve with his readers. Stephen King inspires me as well. To me, he is one of those people who defines perseverance. The man received so many rejection letters early in his career but he kept writing and submitting his work until it made it into the right hands. Whenever I feel like giving up on writing, I think about what he went through.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Marlon Teixeira is a male model, so I'm not sure about his acting skill ;-) but visually, he makes a great Dylan McBride
Heaven Lewis is a tough one. I've always imagined Natalie Portman or Crystal Reed (ex Alison from Teen Wolf)
Cam Gigandet would make a great Layne Perry
When did you decide to become a writer?
I've always loved writing and reading. I've had an overactive imagination since I was a kid, but writing came into play through poetry when I was 11. I started writing stories at the age of 13. I decided to do this full time back in 2010 and published my debut novel in November of 2011.
Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
Believe it or not, I write quite a bit on my iPhone when I can't get to my laptop, which is where I do most of my writing.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I used to get an idea and just run with it, but with my last two books, I used on an outline. I did the same for my current work in progress. Not that characters like sticking to what I plan for them. Layne Perry is a prime example of this. He wasn't originally supposed to have such a huge part in this series, but when Dylan grew quiet, Layne didn't. His story came to the forefront.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors.
I've had a love affair with books even before I could read. I would sit with my picture books in my lap for hours, creating my own stories to match the illustrations. I love reading, though I don't get to do it as much as I used to. Some of my favorites are J R R Tolkien, Johanna Lindsey, PC & Kristin Cast, Amber Scott, Elena Gray, and Stephen King.
Do you think that giving books away free works and why?
If you mean by doing giveaways and contests, I'm not really sure. I think authors have a 50/50 shot in gaining a new reader this way. When it comes to free books on Amazon, the answer is no. When Amazon's Prime program began in late 2011, it created a buzz that drew in customers. But as more and more authors began using it, the site became saturated with free books. Most people who shop for free books never read them. I'm not saying everyone does this. I have a good friend who shops for free books to find new authors. It's a great way to discover a new author without having to pay for a book you may not like. But most people who get free books don't read them. It also opens up more piracy opportunities.
How do you relax?
Relax? What is this relax thing you speak of? lol. When I can find the time, I like taking walks or soaking in a long hot bath with a glass of wine. Whenever I release a book, I like to veg out with a movie marathon.
What is your favorite book and why?
I can't pick a favorite. I love PC & Kristin Cast's House of Night series and Johanna Lindsey's The Devil Who Tamed Her. Stephen King's Carrie is one of my all time favorites.
What is your favorite quote?
“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… The ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” —Steve Jobs
What is your favorite movie and why?
Again, this is another hard decision. There a couple movies I could watch over and over.
1) Pretty Woman
2) He's Just Not That Into You
3) Dazed and Confused
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
J. R. R. Tolkien. I love his work. His imagination was so vast. I'm envious.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don't go into this industry expecting to be a best seller. Go in with the idea of creating something that makes you happy then share it with the world. As long as you're happy with what you've created, no one else's opinions matter, and you will be faced with many opinions.
Where can you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
I don't see much changing, other than having more published books. I'm in this for the long haul.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Funny you should ask that considering my characters have some superpowers of their own. ;-) I would have to say I'd want teleportation abilities. Imagine how much money you'd save in gas and car expenses.
What secret talents do you have?
I'm ambidextrous. Oh, I read tarot cards too.
Where is one place you want to visit that you haven't been before?
Greece and Ireland. Greece, because of the amount of history. Ireland, because of family heritage.
What is something you want to accomplish before you die?
Learn to play guitar
What does your writing process look like?
A hot mess. :) As scenes come to me, I take notes on my phone and usually transfer them to my computer when I have time. I use Scrivener to organize my notes and create my outlines. Once my outline is complete, or pretty close, I start writing. Sometimes I write before I do an outline. Either way, it gets me where I'm going. After I start writing, I'm a slave to the story from 7am to 4pm each day. I used to write around the clock, but having a family makes that impossible. I want time with my kids and husband too.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
Aside from my kids? :) To me, it was taking control of my career. Being an indie author isn't easy by any means, but I like the fact that I have control of every aspect of my career.
Is there a certain type of scene that's harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?
I don't think so. When I first started, I had a little trouble with action scenes, but I think I've gotten better. I just write the story the way the characters tell it.
Did you learn anything from writing your books and what was it?
Yes. I learned that love is about more than being with someone. It's about the sacrifices you're willing to make for that person, not because you have to or it's expected, but because you want to.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I'm fortunate that I have a lot of supportive people. Naming one seems a bit unfair because I consider them a part of my team and without them, none of this would be possible. My two editors, my PA, and a few good friends are to me, on entity. My team.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sure. I'd love to share it. Thank you for asking. This if from my newest release, Heartstrings:
It was gloomy, and cold, and the rain misting upon me was so light, it was as if I’d stumbled into a spider web, dragging it along with every step. The fog, like my confusion, thickened the further I walked. The constant whirling in the distance ignited my curiosity. I wasn’t sure what lie ahead, just out of view, but I knew it was something important, something that resulted from dire consequences.
The surrounding trees with their aggressive limbs slowed my progression. If not for them or the snow-covered ground, I would have sworn I was walking through sand. The snow wasn’t much better, and the trees… Each low hanging branch grabbed at my clothing like skeleton fingers, just as slim, and harsh, and terrifying.
I picked up my pace as best I could. My heart raced to the point I thought it would break free of the cage in which it was captured—my ribs. I wasn’t sure how I’d gotten here, or where here was, but I knew if I didn’t find my way out, I’d be lost in darkness forever.
Lights flickered in the distance. I hurried toward them though my head spun fiercely. The faster I moved, the more they grew out of reach. It was like being in a bad dream and seeing a door at the end of a tunnel. Despite how many steps I took, I never reached the end.
Screeching pieced my ears. The sky above was dark and dreary, but showed no signs of the owl I swore had made the noise. Yet the noise reoccurred, only louder—closer. Its sharp, crisp vibrations didn’t resemble an animal, but something mechanical. Perhaps it was a piece of heavy machinery. My father operated them all his life. I’d been to his job sites and knew the sound well. Still, something in me said I was wrong about the sound again.
The air grew tainted with smoke. It coupled with the putrid scent of something resembling burnt rubber. There was another scent I didn’t recognize, and it was worse than the former. I stumbled through the fog, desperate to find the source of the commotion, as well as the stench. Dread pumped through my veins. I had no clue what lie ahead. The fog wouldn’t dissipate, which left me fumbling my way through the snow.
What appeared to be the edge of my woodland purgatory loomed ahead. I would soon have answers. Just a little further to edge and—
The sound of metal twisting split the air. I fell to the ground, taking cover just as crunching echoed through the woods. Each heartbeat vibrated my chest. The amount of fear was insurmountable.
Though part of me wanted to stand up and drive forward into the unknown, I couldn’t. My joints froze, keeping my body still. The feeling that something terrible was happening wouldn’t fade. No matter how afraid I was of what was occurring just out of view, I needed answers.
Pushing myself back to a stand, I clung to a tree, gawking at the edge of the woods. More lights flickered. Each flash beckoned me forward until I couldn’t resist the urge to move. I crept closer, hoping my heart wouldn’t explode before I received the answers to my questions. And just as I stepped from the slumbering, snow filled woodlands, blackness entrapped me. And I fell.
My body twirled through a bottomless pit that pulled me further into its desperate nothingness. I grabbed and kicked about frantically. My last hope of finding something to stop me slipped away.
Then my body crashed into something hard. I lurched forward as my eyes flew open and the spinning stopped. My hands fisted the soft fabric beneath them. Once they came into view, a breath of relief filled my lungs.
I was home, safe and sound and tucked into my bed. The fabric was nothing more than my sheets, and the nothingness from which I’d came, a bad dream. Knowing as much provided me with a small sense of peace. But it didn’t last long. Despite the fact that I’d escaped the darkness of my subconscious, I was faced with one reality I didn’t want.
The answers I sought were still questions waiting to be unraveled. And the memories I longed to regain were still locked away in the part of my brain that refused to cooperate.
Tears warmed my cheeks before I buried my face into my pillow. And I wept. Uncontrollably. Profusely. Hopelessly…
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Time. There isn't enough hours in a day and I'm always struggling to find time to write some days because there is so much going on, both professionally and personally. This is why I take a lot of notes on my phone. ;-)
What book are you reading now?
I haven’t started a new book yet. I’m hoping to dig into the last two books of the House of Night Series by PC and Kristin Casts. I love those books.
What is your favorite theme/genre to write about?
Paranormal romance is my favorite, but I do have a few contemporary romances planned. I write, for the most part, on the lighter side of paranormal. No vampires or shifters (though I do enjoy reading these types of books). My first book was mistaken for contemporary romance by a lot of readers. They got a big shock with book two.
While you were writing, did you ever feel as if you were one of the characters?
Always. They're so vivid to me anyway, especially Layne Perry.
Kelli McCracken spends most of her days in front of her computer, crafting her next novel. She loves to read and occasionally curls up with a good book. When she's not chauffeuring kids, cleaning house, or hog-tying unruly characters, she enjoys taking hikes, drinking coffee, or listening to music.
"I've learned that in life, you can never take anything too serious. Murphy's Law never fails, and if you spend your life trying to be perfect, you miss out on mishaps that can turn into miracles. Take time to appreciate life. It's gone before you know it."
Kelli lives with her husband and children in Eastern Kentucky. To learn more about the author, you can find her on Facebook or visit her website.
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