Kansas City Love Train

Kansas City, MO

Kansas City, MO












Get on the train.

The love train!

After nine months of not submitting or really writing the wips I have for the submission process I have finally been jolted back into why I write.

Because I love it!

Thanks to the Romantic Times Convention in Kansas City, Missouri I have watched my friends who are published have great fun and success at their events.  I’ve also made new friends and attended fantastic panels on craft (how to write) and business (how to sell to agents, publishers and editors).

So, I hit send on my email and sent off my short story last week.  Don’t worry – the nail biting has already begun on that one.  Thanks to the “Write 50 books in a Year” panel I now have an organized spreadsheet up until October of this year of what I’m writing and submitting.  Which will hopefully turn into a column of what gets accepted and what gets rejected on the spreadsheet as I continue writing, editing and submitting.

Kansas City, MO.  What a great city.  Home of jazz and historic downtown buildings.  With fun trips to the shopping centres and busy highways leading out of the city.  My drive from the airport took me past the Majestic Restaurant and Jazz Club http://www.majestickc.com/ and other hole-in-the-wall restaurant and clubs.  I even sped by the Friday Night Farmers Market http://www.badseedkc.com/farm/the-farmers-market/ which caught my attention with the words “Bad Seed.”

And thanks to Author Shawna Romkey’s family I visited and ate at the famous Arthur Bryant’s BBQ restaurant.  http://www.arthurbryantsbbq.com/index.htm

The convention really kept us hopping from morning until late at night.  It was fun but I found parts of it long winded so you really have to choose what you want to see and do.  Also, I know authors who had agents stand them up at appointments.  Meh.  It’s over 2,000 people – what do you do?

Had a great time at publisher spotlights on Entangled Publishing, Sourcebooks and ChocLit.

Oh, and I did visit JC Penny and Macy’s.  What’s a girl to do when you have one shopping day?


Shawna Romkey Book Launch Tonight “Speak of the Devil”

Tonight 5pm-9pm AST at the Lower Deck Taproom Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada Author Shawna Romkey reveals her debut novel “Speak of the Devil” to the public!




About Shawna:

Shawna grew up in around farms in the heart of Missouri but went to the University of Kansas, was raised in the US but now lives on the ocean in Nova Scotia with her husband, two sons, two rescue dogs and one overgrown puppy from hell. She’s a non-conformist who follows her heart.


She has her BA in creative writing from the University of Kansas where one of her plays was chosen by her creative writing professor to be produced locally, and two of her short stories were published in a university creative arts handbook.  She earned her MA in English from Central Missouri State University where she wrote a novel as her thesis.

She’s taught English at the university and secondary levels for close to twenty years and can’t quite fathom how all of her students have grown up, yet she’s managed to stay the same.  She’s a huge geek and fan of Xena, Buffy and all kick ass women, and loves to write stories that have strong female characters.










Here’s her excerpt for you:

Rain fell, not uncommon for late spring in Missouri. “If you don’t like the weather here,” my grandfather would say, “wait five minutes.” Of course, I’d visited distant relatives in Maine once before, and they said the same thing.

Julie fumbled with the wipers while I pulled the sun visor down to check my face in its little rectangular mirror, even though I’d only left my vanity like five minutes ago. The lights on either side lit up the interior of the car. I reached into my tiny party purse to find my lip gloss, which was easy to locate since I’d only packed the essentials in my bag: phone, some cash, and make-up. As I glanced at myself, I saw Mike in the reflection, smiling at me from the back seat. I stuck my tongue out at him, making him laugh, and put on the lip-gloss, fully aware of how flirty I acted.

The windshield wipers couldn’t keep up with the sudden downpour. The pitter-patter turned to thumping. Hail came down in gumball-sized pellets. “Damn.” Julie jerked the steering wheel to keep The Whale off the curb.

“Slow down, Jules.” Mike gripped Julie’s headrest. “We can pull over until it passes.”

“Yeah.” She squinted to see the road before her.

I pressed my lips together to smooth out the gloss. “Damn is right. I didn’t bring a jacket.”

The Whale swerved to the right crunching along the gravel on the side of the road. I braced myself in my seat. Julie leaned up to the steering wheel and peered over it as my grandmother sometimes did when she drove. I squinted because of the stupid light up visor mirror. I slammed it shut, but Julie panicked and over corrected, pulling The Whale to the left and careening over the yellow dotted line in the middle of the street.

“Julie!” Mike shouted.

Time slowed and ticked out in heartbeats.

Ba bum.

Julie cringed, her hands moving up to shield her face. Her head turned away from the highway.

Ba bum.

Mike reached protectively from the back seat.

Ba bum.

The headlights illuminated the rail of the overpass.

Ba bum.

The car hit the rail on the opposite side of the road with a hard thud.

Ba bum.

Crap. We’re going over the bridge.

Ba bum.

The Whale’s nose pointed down toward the water.

Ba bum.

A jolt forward and my forehead slammed into the dashboard.

Ba bum.

The Whale flipped in the air. I’m upside down.

Ba bum.


Ba bum.

Did my mom say good-bye when I left?

Ba bum.

Cold water rushed into the car.

Ba bum.

Is this it?

Ba bum.

I can’t breathe. Oh my God, I can’t breathe. I can’t see or breathe!

My heart quickened. It pounded. The Whale leaned on its side under the surface of the water which rushed in fast, and I couldn’t see a damn thing.

Calm, stay calm. Don’t panic. They say when you’re drowning not to panic because you use up your air faster.
Dammit, am I drowning?

I tried to get myself upright and jerked out of my seatbelt. Luckily, it gave way. I fought the latch to open the door facing up, but the pressure of the water from Black Water River held it closed, trapping me inside.

Jesus. I know this river. It’s more of a creek. It can’t be more than fifteen feet across and ten feet deep.
I pushed at the door. Opening my mouth to scream, I swallowed water.

I couldn’t see or hear Julie or Mike. My watch ticked. Or was it my heart beating?

Ba bum. Ba bum. Ba bum.





Defying gravity.


The dreams came. Like a good sleep you don’t want to wake up from. I felt heavy and floaty. I wore this long white gauzy gown and the wind blew my dress and my hair like in some feminine hygiene commercial. I could breathe slowly and deeply. Completely relaxed and at peace, but I was alone.

I floated along in a white space for a while. Drifting. Breathing. Relaxing. Had I gone to a spa? After an immeasurable amount of time, others appeared. They wore white clothing, too, and they floated like me, reaching out. They opened their arms as if to welcome me to them.

I stopped and frowned. I heard no sound, and I didn’t know who these white floaty people were or why they welcomed me. They smiled, genuinely happy, and held their arms out to me. I panicked.

Where’s my mom? My family? Wait, Mike and Julie were just with me, where are they? Are those wings?
I noticed the others floating with me had white feathery wings.

“Lily,” one of them called out.

Holy hell. I’m dead.

Writing away from an early age…

I had help cleaning out and de-cluttering part of the house last week with Bronwyn, my roommate.

Guess what I found?

Here’s a clue of what it looked like when I was thirteen and a huge Elfquest fan.











This little blue binder was my lunch time escape ticket.  I hated the private school I was at and was frustrated that the people I knew since grade four were still there in grade seven.  Nothing had changed.  We were stuck in our patterns of conversation and social norms.  So, I would write in the library by myself.










It even had a side pocket for notes from my bff and scribbles of revelations while I listened to the teacher talk during class.










I love how it’s labeled “VOLUME 1″ as if I was Victor Hugo creating tombs of writing material in this new world.  Today, we call this fan fiction.  Elfquest was a comic that combined elves with wolves naming them Wolfriders and as the “volumes” continued they discovered more about their world and other elves in it.  I dreamed of elves paired with panthers that eventually met these Wolfriders.

“Things didn’t go so good at Blue Mountain…”  I wrote.  Unaware of writing principles and rules.  I was explaining the backstory instead of letting the reader discover it.  I was also thirteen.   LOL.

So, now, as I head into my revisions of a contemporary romance I keep this on my writing desk.  Just in case I want to explore the entire binder again which is full of elves and panthers uniting against evil in their world.

Thank you, Elfquest.

The Next Big Thing: Blog Hop

The amazing Debbie Robbins tagged me for this Blog Hop so here I am posting away secrets on my WIP.

And, guess what.  It’s a contemporary.

I’m frantically writing away as my New Jersey RWA group heads towards the finish line for Jerowrimo 2013 at the end of Feb.  So far, so good re: results!  However, this writing challenge I am working on book 2 of the fishermen characters.  These three brothers are getting into all kinds of trouble!


1) What is the working title of your next book?

Working title of my next book is Depth.  This is the story of Riley and his past that only Molly can help heal.


2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
Idea for the book came from the Deadliest Catch tv show and from reading a lot of contemporary stories out there.  While the perception of fishermen can be that they are “rough and tough” I thought I’d expose a softer side and a reality check for how dangerous this job really is.  The fishermen in my books live and breathe just like everyone else in their village but as it’s a small community they have wounds now that only these two new characters (the minister and his daughter Molly) can heal.


3) What genre does your book fall under?
Book is contemporary which is a slight deviant from my paranormal writing as Tara MacQueen.


4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Actors… Riley would be Scott Anthony Smith (photo attached) and Molly would be Stevie Cooper (photo attached).  These are two actors I’ve worked with before and really see them in the role.

From Camden, Maine, USA I directed this actor at Maine Media Workshops

From Camden, Maine, USA I directed this actor at Maine Media Workshops
















Actress Stevie Cooper has been in a few of Charlie Mac Productions' works.

Actress Stevie Cooper has been in a few of Charlie Mac Productions’ works.





























5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
One sentence synopsis (hate these)…  Riley’s fisherman future drowned with the death of his parents until Molly Gregan moved into town to shake it up.


6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I will be submitting to small press on this one.


7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
November has 30 days, so 30 days part of Nanowrimo.  30 long days of wondering if I was going to make my deadline.  And now, as I go through some self editing I’m glad I did that challenge.  The book has brought my writing up a level.


8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
This story feels like Nora Roberts’ Chesapeake Bay Series with the brothers and the boatbuilding business.  I don’t claim to be Nora      Roberts but it feels like I was inspired by this even though I read it all in 2002.


9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
See #8.  Definitely the great Nora Roberts.  I like Debbie Macomber, too.  Oh, and Donna Alward.  Check out this website http://www.chocolatebox.com  for other great authors along with https://www.facebook.com/pages/Romance-Writers-of-Atlantic-Canada-RWAC/


10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
This book also involves a community broken by the devastating loss of Riley’s parents and Molly’s father, a United Church Minister helps to bring it together.  Wounds don’t heal in silence.  This book involves pain and redemption not just by a woman helping to heal a broken man but also a village finding love again after loss.



Cover reveal: Author Shawna Romkey’s “Speak of the Devil”

Author Shawna Romkey's cover reveal

Author Shawna Romkey’s cover reveal






What happens when falling in love and falling from grace collide?



After dying in a car accident with her two best friends, Lily miraculously awakens to grief and guilt. She escapes to her dad’s to come to terms with the event and meets some people at her new school who seem all too eager to help her heal. Sliding deeper into sorrow and trying to fight her feelings for two of them, she finds out who…what they really are and that they are falling too.



Can she find the strength to move on from the past, reconcile her feelings for Luc, find a way to stop a divine war with fallen angels, and still pass the eleventh grade?



What do you think of this great cover?  Due out March 15th, 2013 from Crescent Moon Press.  http://www.crescentmoonpress.com/

Jerowrimo prep

In order to prep for any writing challenge it’s necessary to decide what kind of animal you are with writing.

Do you have an outline or are going to put one down on paper/bulletin board?  This could mean you’re a plotter.  You like to know how characters will develop throughout the chapters ahead of time or maybe you have an idea of the order of scenes you want to develop your character arc in…

If you don’t do any of that you may be a panster.  You just write.  Your characters are in your head knocking on your ears to get out.  Great.

Either method works and I sometimes use a combination of the two.  I did so much traveling last year that I would get dream like story ideas as I dozed away on the plane and immediately grab my iphone to write up a sentence or two of what I remembered.  These little gems are filed away in my “to do” file on my laptop and are festering in the back of my head for any writing challenge I undertake.

So.  I already have enough coffee lined up for the month of Feb.  I know when and where I need to visit family and friends.  I’m twitching to use the Twitter hashtag #1K1HR at will multiple times a day.

I also know exactly what I’m doing with Charlie Mac and my Beachbody business so I don’t feel like I can’t write each day.  I have a schedule all planned.

Time to get in the writing kitchen and put words on a blank page that I will call my own.

Monday morning – Revision Goal met for last week



I don’t always need goals but I’m part of RWAC and we have a Yahoo Goals Loop that we post our goals to.  The posting makes us accountable for our actions.


I haven’t posted there in a while due to the personal losses I experienced last year along with the realization that I wanted to make writing and Beachbody my career choices.  So, as I move into that I made goals as part of Chalene’s Challenge Group and follow her 30 Day Challenge every day.


Last week’s goal with our Yahoo Goals Loop was to start revisions on my Nanowrimo project.  And I did that.  Which makes me feel great as I post this week’s goals to that loop today.

Nothing like ticking off a To Do List! Do you have one?


New Year and new ms – getting ready for Jerowrimo13

Last year I completed Jerowrimo12 which was a writing challenge led by the New Jersey Romance Writers of America chapter to write a book in Februray.


I completed it.  And this year I’m doing the same thing.


I know.  I just finished Nanowrimo and I’m already going through rough review this week on what I did.

I find that the challenge in February kept me writing which is what I need to do.  Along with online courses from Mystical Press.

So, no matter the outcome I am determined to make that book happen and I’ve done a rough plot of how I’d like it to go.


Today, I’m revising Chapters 1-3 of the Nanowrimo book along with working on suggestions from the CTRWA mentor I was assigned for my New Adult paranormal.

Oh, did you hear that?

That’s my coffee pot going.  :-)




Dad’s Christmas.

It began with the fresh spruce or pine tree that Dad would cruise through several tree lots beforehand to suss out who had “straight” trees.


Right.  A straight tree.


Then, he’d haul me around to different ones and pull a few out.  He’d get me to back up to see how straight it looked then give it a shake.  If a lot of needles fell out he’d put it back saying it was too dry to bring home.


We’d find a tree.  He’d throw it in the back of his red F150 half ton truck and we’d head home.


He’d pull out the tree stand and put the tree in the breezeway between the garage with a special cocktail of water, bleach and corn syrup he got from the New York Times one year to keep the tree healthy.

Then, we’d prep the living room.


This involved setting town clear plastic tarp in the entryway and the designated spot for the tree.  This spot was close to the door to eliminate as many needle droppings as possible.  It wasn’t about light or positioning or outlets for the Christmas lights… it was about needles.  He hated them!  He hated cleaning them up.  Even if I cleaned it up he hated knowing they were there on the blue/green tile floor.  And both he and I would miss one or two.  So when the tree came down after the Old Christmas date he’d walk by the door to get to the kitchen and he’d eventually pick a few off of his white socked feet muttering about needles.


This tree ritual lives on in my memory every year.  With love.  Because I miss it.  Because it made me smile.  Everyone has traditions they like to do or keep… Dad’s eccentricities were mine to keep.


I took over decorating the tree after Mom left and ended up donating all her ornaments to the Salvation Army so I could start a new tradition with my Dad.  Instead of an angry decorating tree ritual where my Mom would re-decorate after you we created memories to make Christmas a happy, joyful, spiritual place in our lives.


I miss him.  And this Christmas I’m creating my own tradition now that, after five years of grieving, I can start another fresh chapter in my life.


Oh, Christmas tree… Oh, and my tree?  Bought it online – fake, set up by a pole and pre-decorated so it’s definitely straight.

Dad carving the turkey!

Dad carving the turkey!


Pat Woods

My Aunt, before she passed, was quite sick with breast cancer.  She had it, we suspect, for over a year.  She did not have a family doctor.  She did not tell anyone she was sick.

I was in the hospital room when the doctor asked her why she had not gotten help earlier.  Her answer was “carelessness.”

I’m not sure what that meant. I do know that now without her around I miss her a lot.  I re-engaged her when I was out there to visit in Alberta and called when I was back in Nova Scotia.

We weren’t given the chance to rally around her and show her any family support.  Perhaps that’s how she wanted it.

I know that her suffering is over.  This Christmas I will light a candle for her and my deceased father but I will not follow her example.  I have a family doctor who I see even if I get the sniffles.  And I know that if I’m given the opportunity to fight a terminal disease I will take it.

She was my Mom’s best friend and sister to her ten siblings.  As we struggle to come to grips with her passing I simply want to let everyone know that time will heal this.

I completed Nanowrimo and wrote a book in a month.  I will edit it in January and submit it to outside editors for their work.  And, if it ever gets published it will be dedicated to the Aunt Pat I knew as a child – a skier, a bird watcher, a worker, a friend and gardener.