Monday, May 13, 2013

Blog Tour: The Rose Red Reaper by Kristi Loucks (giveaway too)

This virtual book tour is presented by Enchanted Book Promotions.
Click HERE for more tour information.
Welcome to The Wormhole and my stop on the tour.
It is my pleasure to feature Kristi Loucks and The Rose Red Reaper.
Kristi has stopped by for an interview:
? When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
         I don’t think I ever had a moment where I had an epiphany about it...I think I’ve been writing since I could form words and it just became a habit.  It wasn’t until maybe two years ago that someone suggested I publish some of my writing, but even now I don’t consider it a career as much as I consider it a part of who I am.

? How many jobs did you have before you became a writer?
         Oh my gosh, I’ve done so many things.  Primarily, I worked around horses most of my life, traveling on the show jumping circuit.  That was a blast, but with that came more injuries than I can count.  I’ve got an assortment of titanium plates, screws and rods to show for it, and yet it’s probably something I would have done forever had it not been for a serious illness.  Thirteen years ago, that ilness changed my life, forcing me to reevaluate the risks I was taking. 
          With that, I went back to school and got a culinary degree with a focus on pastry.  It’s funny that cooking and writing have been a part of the background in my life as far back as I can remember, but it took an illness for me to finally give either of them serious consideration in terms of a career.
          I enjoy cake decorating and breads, but my training is in traditional French pastry so I do a bit of everything.  I love reinventing old favorites and creating sculpted cakes. 
          I currently run a bakery full time with a good friend and write whenever I can, which is pretty much every night to wind down and usually on my days off, too.  Fortunately, my friend and business partner, Annie enjoys the writing and is also a talented pastry chef and cake designer in her own right.  

? How long does it take you to write a book?
         It really depends on the book.  I have written a novella which actually took me twice as long to finish as other books that are considerably longer.  So, anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. 
          Editing is the tougher process, but I know I can’t do that myself.  So fortunately, I have an editor that I really like (Beth at BZHercules).  She was new to me for Rose Red Reaper, and I felt she understood my style.  I’ve worked with others in the past, but Beth and BZHercules is just the right fit for me.  And going forward it will be nice to have someone who knows where my weaknesses lie and what my strengths are, too.

? What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
         Hmmm.  I have a lot of quirks.  I tend to listen to music when I write.  And I listen to it quite loud, though oddly if you turn the television on I completely lose focus.  
          Also, I title the chapters based on music I’m listening to and the music directly ties into the mood for the chapter.  Sadly, I can’t leave the titles once it’s finished, but it helps me to keep that tone if I need to go back to the chapter at any point throughout the writing and editing process.  Sometimes, I wish the readers could see those titles.  I bet they would tell you a lot about me. 

? Where do you get your ideas or inspiration for your characters?
         That’s so hard.  Usually they are a mash up of various people that I know.  I can tell you the sarcasm is my voice coming out, kindness and empathy is definitely attributed to my mom.  The bad guys, well they come from the news, an ex, a fascination with psychology and a good deal of twisted imagination. 
          Beyond that, I would say sometimes it’s as simple as turning on the tv.  For example, Dakota was not blind when I first started writing, but I was watching Master Chef and one of the contestants, Christine Ha was blind (she actually ended up winning).  That was when I had the thought, “What if Dakota were blind!” and I completely re-wrote her character.  I don’t think Rose Red Reaper would have been the same had I not been watching the show. 
          As a chef, I was inspired by her...and as a pastry chef I started thinking about how sight can at times hinder you because you become too reliant on what you see over what you feel.  So it worked well with Dakota’s world, though immersing myself in that world was a bit of a challenge.  I do enjoy a challenge though.

? How do you decide what you want to write about? 
          I usually decide who the killer is and why he does it before I go any further.  I can’t really sell a story if the whole motivation of this killer is simply that he’s crazy.  So for me, I have to get that on solid footing before I even consider going forward.  And, as I mentioned earlier I do have a fascination for psychology, so that plays into it my thoughts.  I know there are tons of stories where the bad guy is simpy crazy, but for me if I can’t sell myself on the idea it won’t go anywhere.  I’ll just keep getting hung up until I get it right.
          I actually have to keep a notebook beside my bed because I will often wake up with an idea and if I don’t write it down, there is no chance I’ll remember it in the morning...or it will keep me up all night.  I am a total insomniac to begin with, so I need little excuse to stay up all night.
? What books have most influenced your life?
                  I don’t think of one certain book, but a couple of authors that I enjoy definitely had some influence. Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Sandra Brown and Lori Foster.   As a teen I loved the straight thrillers, but later I started to venture into Sandra Brown’s Romantic Suspense and Lori Foster’s Romance novels probably because they tend to write strong women and scorching romances.  But most of all because the characters they create are not perfect.  I find romance novels where everyone is perfect a bit nauseating. 

? What are you reading right now?
          Lately, I’ve been all over the map in terms of what I’m reading.  I recently have had a run of starting books and losing patience for various reasons.  I tried to get on board with Fifty Shades and never made past the first book, I think there is a fine line between a character with flaws and a character that is so flawed the reader jumps ship.  For me, Fifty Shades crossed that line with both main characters.  There were a lot of things that didn’t work for me, but I know for sure I am in the minority on that.  I do have to give credit to E.L. James though, because it’s done outstandingly well for her and at the end of the day, anyone who can come out of the gates and be that successful deserves some respect whether you love the series or not.
          I’ve started a few others that I didn’t finish as well, I want to chalk it up to lack of time, but who knows. 
          I started Jaci Burton’s Thrown By A Curve this morning, and I’ve loved the series so far and in general, her style of I am hopeful that I’ll break that streak.  I am a bit of a sports fanatic, so I enjoy the series. I’ve also been holding onto Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and a couple of books by Sylvia Day and Dean Koontz, but I haven’t had a chance to read them yet.
          I hate not finishing things, but I’ve started to figure out that if it takes me more than a day or two to read something then it’s not usually worth forcing it.    

? What do you like to do when you are not writing?
         Obviously, if I’m not writing you will most likely find me in the kitchen.  Otherwise, I am doodling in a sketch book.  If I have some time on my hands, I might be found out at the farm visiting with friends and I still have one horse about an hour from where I live.  I also love to ski and travel, though lately I have little time for either. 

? What is your favorite comfort food?
           Chicken Pot Pie with home made buttermilk biscuit crust

? What do you think makes a good story?
           Characters you want to root for and that are well developed.  Killers with motives, I want to know WHY they do what they do, not just that they do them.

? Who would you consider your favorite author and why?
           This is an impossible question for me.  If you ask me today I may say one author while tomorrow, I’d have a different idea.  I like so many and I enjoy so many different genres.  I love Stephen King because he can take something real and make it horrifying by throwing a little supernatural twist into it, like Carrie or just plain crazy like Misery.  And I love Lori Foster because she can write characters you want to root for no matter how flawed they may be, and she can write pretty much any sub genre of romance.  I don’t think she’s ever written anything I didn’t enjoy.
          There are so many others, but those are the two I’ve probably read with the most consistency over the years.  For sure they fall into the must read without reading a synopsis more than any other :)

Fun random questions:
 dogs or cats?  Cats.  Love dogs too, but I work too much to be fair to a dog.
Coffee or tea? Coffee
Dark or milk chocolate? BOTH!
Rocks or flowers? flowers
Night or day? Hands down, Night. 
Favorite color? Blue
Crayons or markers? Crayons
Pens or pencils? Pens

Title: The Rose Red Reaper
Author: Kristi Loucks
Genre: Romantic Suspense/Thriller
Lt. Commander Mason Cole never intended to follow his brother into law enforcement, but the murder of a loved one gave him the motivation needed to take a position as the head of Chicago’s Serial Crimes Unit. Along with his brother, Detective Devon Cole, former FBI Profiler and Technical Analyst Melinda Kade and Detective Piper Torello, Mason is tasked with finding some of the cities most prolific serial killers.

As a former Navy SEAL, Mason has seen some of the worst the world has to offer, but nothing could have prepared him for his initiation into the world of a serial killer.

Their first case came with a gruesome introduction from a man who has given himself his own press ready moniker. Known for his macabre signature and the white rose he leaves at the scene with a calling card signed in blood,


Mason and his team will pursue the killer through the vast streets of Chicago, across the affluent suburbs of the North Shore following cryptic clues left at each crime scene and pointing them to a web of violence dating back to The Reaper’s own childhood.

Complications begin to arise when The Reaper makes a connection to the woman that Mason loves. Dakota Rose Shelton. The stunning, raven-haired beauty that has carefully salvaged Mason’s broken heart may also be the key to ending The Reaper’s bloody reign. Left blind by a childhood illness, she must help them to assemble the pieces of the Reaper’s past with no visual memories to aid her.

Can Dakota help the team put the pieces together before The Reaper targets one of there own? And will she be able to fight off a killer that she cannot see?

More about the author:

Kristi Loucks is a Pastry Chef and Cake Designer with a degree from Le Cordon Bleu Chicago.  Her writing and storytelling has always been a way to manage the day to day stresses of working in the world of restaurants and food service.  Kristi started writing in High School and has continued to share her work with friends over the years. 
                While she never planned to pursue writing as a profession, but a supportive friend armed with a copy of her debut novel, A Life Interrupted happened to share it with the right person who urged Ms. Loucks to consider publishing her work.
                On March 4, 2013, Kristi released the first book in her new Chicago Serial Crimes Series, The Rose Red Reaper.  It’s follow up, The Blue Line Bone Collector is expected to arrive this summer.  Currently, she is planning for a four book series.
                Kristi splits her time between two creative worlds these days.  Working at her Suburban Bakery during the day and writing at night, or on her somewhat infrequent days off.

Excerpt: The Rose Red Reaper
Mason turned and headed for the stairs, taking them two at a time with Devon right behind him. The hallway was alive with dozens of officers questioning the other residents about what they may have seen or heard. And Mason was almost certain they’d seen and heard nothing. Melinda and Piper had arrived as they made their way down the hallway to the victim’s apartment.

They entered the apartment and instantly smelled the acrid tang of copper. Blood dripped in fat droplets from the ceiling, indicating that his latest victim’s heart had been pumping at the time the wounds were inflicted.

Mason closed his eyes as he prepared himself to enter the room fully. When he opened them, he moved to the left where he saw Dr. Hovey crouched over the body of the young victim. His eyes had been taped open; his hands were extended out to the side and duct taped to the metal slats of his headboard.

The carotid artery was gaping open with a solid stream of dried blood coating his skin and leaving the unmistakable spray pattern on the ceiling and walls. His mouth was duct taped to silence his screams and he had a tourniquet on his left arm that prevented him from bleeding out as the killer warmed up with his brachial and radial arteries. Dried blood had dripped from his nose, covering the tape that kept him silent, and the sheets beneath him were saturated with blood and urine. Undoubtedly, this poor young man had spent the last hours of his life in an unimaginable state of terror.

“Looks like the handiwork of your guy,” Dr. Hovey stated. “No hesitation marks. Each incision is methodical and precise.”

“Yeah. He’s enjoying this, too. He wants them to watch, to see the life drain from their bodies. He wants to be the last thing they see,” Mason said as he glanced around the room.

My thoughts:
This is a fantastic story.  The characters are great, wonderfully created and realistic - easy to invest in.  I fell in love with Mason and Dakota.  The plot is creative, intriguing, chilling and original.  I was drawn in from the first page and couldn't put it down.  

The prize is an ecopy of Kristi's book The Rose Red Reaper.
Must be 18+ and a follower of The Wormhole.
The winner will be randomly chosen from the comments.
Please leave a valid email address and the type of ebook (mobi, pdf, epub) you want.
Thanks for following - Thanks for entering - Read this book, you'll enjoy it.
Contest ends: May 20, 2013
Winner will be notified at email address provided.