A Book Published: Year One

Today, March 29, 2013 is the one-year anniversary of my debut novel.  It’s on sale at Amazon for a mere $2.99.  Click here!

Yeah, it’s been a year.  In that time, it’s been quite the ride.  Here are some things that struck me as I looked back.  Exhausting.  Overwhelming.   And in bullet points, for your viewing pleasure.


Bullet points of having a book published. Year one.

  • The joy of a book I can no longer revise.zNPFrontLrgCover
  • The horror of a book I can no longer revise.
  • The bliss of handselling.
  • The horror of handselling.
  • How online hours marketing eats away at my soul, a little bit at a time.
  • How wonderful it is to have strangers read my book and give their honest opinion on Goodreads.
  • The horror of strangers reading my book and their damn opinions.
  • I’m not sure I’ll ever get tired of people saying they cried while reading my words. I must’ve done something right.
  • Most people celebrated my book and my accomplishment. Most people, but not all.
  • Everyone likes a celebrity, even minor ones.
  • Having a book out in the world is better than having a book alone in a basement.
  • The terror of sitting at signing tables with authors who are much more talented, much more accomplished, much more popular than I’ll ever be.
  • Seeing the flash in someone’s eyes. “You’ve written a book. Really?”
  • Hearing about people praising you behind your back. Thank you, Colorado Springs.
  • Getting calls out of the blue, “Would you like to come talk at our book club?” Would I? Do you even know who you’re talking to?
  • The sad fact that I can’t write all the books I wanna write. Not enough time. Too much to do.
  • Seeing my name, with an ISBN, on a novel that actual people are going to actually read.
  • Reading my words at a book event, and loving them because I’d spent years and buckets of sweat to bring them out and shape them just so.
  • Two words: Tax deductible. I thought I had five years for my fiction writing business to be profitable. Turns out, I can pour money into this venture for decades. I keep telling my friends, “I’m going to write until the money is gone.”
  • If nothing else, when I die, I will leave a book behind. Not only a book, a book that is uniquely me. A love story with angels, demons, drug addicts, and atheists. That’s my book. That’s me.
  • The game has changed. I can’t go back. More than that, I don’t wanna go back. I will write books and publish books until I die. And if all goes well, even after I take that short walk home.

zSAM_2815 Happy Birthday, Never Prayer!  Want to give this little baby the perfect gift?  The ebook on Amazon.  Hurray!


I Fall in Love, Fall to Pieces, Fall from Grace with YA Paranormal Romance author Shawna Romkey

Shawna Romkey Lucky in Love Blog Hop Stops Here!

Shawna has hidden some Easter eggs in her blog tour. If you find them and decipher the pass code, you can win a signed copy of Speak of the Devil, a swag pack and a $25 Amazon gift card!

To enter, read through her post today. In it, you will find an Easter egg (a letter that stands out.) Find her other blog entries for the tour. (HINT: the list is posted on her website at www.shawnaromkey.com.) You will find Easter eggs in the starred blog posts, too. Once you’ve found the eggs in each post, put them together to find the secret code and tweet the code including @sromkey #speakofthedevil (ANOTHER HINT: the letters are in order.) (AND ANOTHER HINT! The secret code will look like this: — — – —- — — —–)

One winner will be chosen from the entries on Easter, March 31! Good luck!


SR (83)You know the wicked cool title of the interview? Well, it came directly from Shawna’s wicked cool website. Click here.

Shawna Romkey and I, well, are two peas in a pod. We both wrote wicked cool angel books. We’re both wicked cool Crescent Moon Press authors. We both have studied wicked cool literature.

So yeah, we have stuff in common, but come on, our differences are legion. In her book, God is silent. In my book, heaven is empty. While in college, she wrote a play and someone produced it. I went to see Shakespeare in London, at the Globe. She lives in Nova Scotia. I live in Colorado, though she did spent a great deal of time in Kansas.

She is a really good marketer! Me? Well, I don’t suck, but I’m not like Shawna. She’s a marketing machine!

A little about Shawna:
xenaShawna grew up in and 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 kickass women, and loves to write stories that have strong female characters.

And a little about her book, Speak of the Devil.

SpeakOfTheDevilWhat 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?

For this interview, Shawna and I talked, the heavens wept, and the lands trembled to their very foundations! Keep reading. I end with a bible quote. No, really, but let’s not get sidetracked, and this is not hardcore religious, I promise you.

AARON: Okay, Shawna, I know this is going to be a very controversial question, but hey, we can handle it. We’re writers. We can do anything. Xena or Buffy? You can only choose one. Defend your answer against the critics.
SHAWNA: Okay, I love Joss Whedon, Buffy, Firefly, the Avengers, but I’m a hardcore Xena nutball at heart. I love the fantasy aspect of Xena, the sword, the armor, the horse (Argo), the gods and the Greek mythology. In sixth grade the librarian at my school called me the little Greek mythologist. I asked for new mythology books on a weekly basis. Xena travels the world and even ventures to Heaven and Hell.

AARON: A huge chunk of time fell in your lap. Why did you choose novel-writing instead of producing your own claymation version of the play you wrote in college?
SHAWNA: Ha! I’ve been writing since I was 5. I started with a poem, then in elementary wrote a book about a squirrel and a red ball. In third grade I wrote a story about a dove and a message of peace that my teacher gave me a zero on because she said it was so good clearly my mother wrote it. In sixth grade I started writing fantasies about unicorns. In college I got a creative writing emphasis to an English degree. I’ve just been writing forever and trying to get published with no luck for many years. So when I found myself unemployed for a year, I told myself it was now or never. I had no excuse not to write because I wasn’t working and all the kids had started school. I needed to write a book and sell it or take up a new hobby. It finally worked out.

AARON: You said your dogs would interrupt your writing. Is it because they were possessed by demons? Be honest.
SHAWNA: Yes, one of them, Strider, is definitely possessed by demons. He’s a rescue dog that doesn’t appreciate that he was rescued. He’s very happy, so it’s hard to get mad at him but he bites me constantly with a big smile on his doggy face and his huge tail wagging ferociously. I was able to train him not to bite my youngest son. He is smart enough not to bite my husband, but apparently I’m fair game. So yes, he’s definitely evil and happy about it, but he’s so cute, he can stay.

AARON: I’m fascinated you had a play produced in college. Talk a little about the play and tell us how writing a play is different from writing a novel.
equuswiSHAWNA: I started out writing novels, but then in university took some playwriting and theater classes to get a theater minor. It changed how I wrote because novels are more introspective and you can write for pages about how something looks or feels. Plays shifted me to writing more dialogue and action. For a while I couldn’t get back to the descriptive type writing. I think to be a good writer you need to have that balance though.
My play was inspired by Equus by Peter Shaffer sans the horses. It was a teenaged girl who had some issues to work through, and the play was her and her therapist in sessions talking about all of the stuff she’d been through and where to go with that. It is called Brick by Brick. So also inspired by Pink Floyd, too, apparently.

AARON: You and I both love to read a variety of stuff, literature, genre fiction, the backs of cereal boxes. What literary elements appear in Speak of the Devil? Feel free to strut about and quote people.
SHAWNA: Haha, I already did that. I can’t think of anything really in Speak of the Devil. I know in the second book in the series, The Devil Made Me Do It, there is a lot of Milton, Paradise Lost stuff. Let’s just say that Lucifer is a big fan.

AARON: During the interview, you mentioned Dungeons and Dragons, third edition. Are you a gamer? You can tell us. We’ll accept you. If you had to turn the hero and heroine in Speak of the Devil into DnD characters, what would they be? Give us the dorky details. Luc would be a 10th level Elven Archer-Ranger with a personality disorder.
SHAWNA: Yes, Aaron, I’m a gamer. Thanks for forcing me out of the gaming closet. Let’s see, Luc is an angelic warrior, so in d&d he’d be a celestial fighter, probably not very high level because he’s inexperienced at the start of the book. We’ll say 4th level. Lily might be most like an oracle or a cleric. She starts off as a regular teenager but ends up with a strange ability to talk to Heaven. She’s super low level because she doesn’t really understand her abilities or how to use them. First level for her.

AARON: What kind of teenager were you? Hardcore rebel or completely geek, getting geekier? If as a teenager you were put into the conflict of your novel, how would you have reacted?
SHAWNA: I am and always have been a rule follower. Didn’t drink. Made good grades. Lily at the start is a lot like me and I based the story on an event from my life. Three of my high school friends were killed in a car accident. This story is a way to try to make sense of that and come up with some paranormal type explanation or reason for something so senseless. I did go through a rebellious phase but it didn’t last long. My big problem was that I was always in love, and I was pretty fickle, so I was always in love with someone new.

AARON: The plot of your book will totally appeal to Supernatural fans. Totally. A key plot point is that God falls silent. How does that work?
SHAWNA: That’s the question they keep asking. If God is all-powerful, how can someone have done something to Him or how could He be lost? Why would He leave? Where would He go? They don’t find out the answer in the first book. They get some clues in the second, and I’ll have to tell you how it goes in the third one. I wasn’t sure myself as I wrote it, but my writers group has a writing retreat in the fall, and I brought up the question to my brainstorming partners. They helped me come up with such a good resolution to that three-book story arc that it gave me goosebumps! But when you interview me on the last book we’ll have to talk about that.

shawnarp-21_600AARON: Thanks so much for agreeing to talk with me, Shawna! Here is where you spread your links like angel feathers.
Amazon Print

I love the idea of God being quiet, silent if you will. Neither Shawna’s novel nor mine is super-Christian, but I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes from Judeo-Christian scripture:
1 Kings 19:11-13
1Ki19WhatRuDoingHereElijahAnd he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?
And Elijah spaked: I’m reading Shawna’s book, yo.

From Shawna: LOL!!!! I hope Elijah writes a good review.

My Sales Numbers

I found something more cutting and disheartening than getting rejection from literary agents. My book sales numbers. I just got my Q2 numbers back and yeah, um, not the fly-off-the-shelf numbers I would have liked to see. At first, I was laid low. But then, I got some perspective. Very few authors are ever going to get the Harry-Potter-Twilight experience. Very few even get the midlist, big-publishing house experience. Most writers write a book, several hundred people read it, and ten minutes later it’s at the Goodwill for 10 cents.

However, instead of getting a dozen donuts and watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer, I went mountain biking. And I haven’t mountain biked in months. So there I was, huffing and sweating and puffing and cursing the mile I rode up the mountain, climbing, climbing, climbing, when a walker came by and I stopped, er collapsed, to let him walk by. And we had a typical exchange.

Walker: Hard work, huh?
Me: Yeah. Brutal, but fun.
Walker: Good for you though.

He went on by, I clipped into my pedals and continued the climb and it struck me; the writing game is good for me. All life is a struggle. That’s one of the themes in my novel, The Never Prayer. Maybe you are one of the lucky hundred to have read it.

All life is struggle, and me struggling in the writing game is valuable to me, to those around me, to other writers. It’s brutal fun. And it’s good for me.

The story doesn’t end there. So I’ve been watching a lot of House M.D. I’m struggling through season 8 to get to the finale and God only knows why they didn’t keep House in prison for half the season. House in prison was delicious.

So while I’m biking, I’m conceding that the writing game is good for my psyche, however painful and however much of a struggle it is, and I think about House M.D. and happiness. House believes that only people who lie to themselves can be happy. That life is inherently too difficult to be enjoyed.

That may or may not be the case. However, having a dream, having a goal, believing the lie that maybe, maybe I’ll be one of the lucky writers to break through and make it, well, it keeps me going. It doesn’t keep me happy, but in the better moments, it keeps me satisfied.

And maybe satisfaction is enough no matter what my numbers are.