Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Writing Wednesday: Author Shawna Romkey and her Favorite #ScaryReads

My guest today is Shawna Romkey, author of best selling Young Adult paranormal novels that deal with angels and demons and the devil himself... scary stuff, with adventure and a dash of romance. Since she likes to write scary scenes, I asked her to share some of the stories that send a chill up her spine. Welcome, Shawna!

Thanks for having me, Katie!

I’m a young adult, paranormal author of two books featuring angels and demons. Speak of the Devil and The Devil Made Me Do It. Book three is due out soon, and I’m just finishing up a new story, called Crow Moon featuring witches that I’m hoping to release before Christmas!

I’ve always been attracted to the odd, dark and the gothic, so I’m hoping some of that comes out in my books. Katie has invited me to talk about some of my favorite spooky stories.

In thinking about this, I realized, I don’t read many horror novels. Other than Stephen King’s On Writing, the only other novel of his I’ve read is Cujo. I’m a dog person. :p I love scary movies and shows though. American Horror Story is my favorite!

I have read some great scary short stories, though.  So of course, Edgar Allan Poe came to mind. I taught American literature at the high school level, so I’ve gone through my fair share of his stories.  Then there’s Shakespeare, and my favorite of his work is MacBeth.  Anyway, I came up with a list and thought I’d share during this spooky month of October and All Hallow’s Eve.

1.      “The Tell Tale Heart” by Poe.  Creepy, murder, guilt, dark and spooky.

2. “The Cask of Amontialldo” by Poe again. Creepy, first person point of view contemplating a premeditated act of vengeance. The Scorpio in my loves that.

3. “The Raven” by Poe. A dark, twisted, descent into grief and madness.

4. "My Last Duchess” by Robert Browning. For a romantic poet, he sure has a few doozies that score high in the creep factor.
5.  “Porphyria’s Lover” by Browning. Again, strangled with her own hair. “And yet God has not said a word.” Yikes.

6. "Young Goodman Brown” by Hawthorne. Witches and dancing in the forest with the devil. Good stuff.
7. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gillman. Crazy first person narrator, but it takes you a while to get the image of what’s happening.

           8. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. It’s been a while since I’ve read this one, but I think it’s much more frightening than the Hunger Games.

        9. "The Ones Who Walk Away from Amelas” by Ursula LeGuin. Again, a frightening short story that makes you think about what you would do for the greater good.

        10. And Shakesepeare’s MacBeth. Witches, murder, madness… what more could you want?

Those are some quick reads to get you in the mood for Halloween, and if you’re up for a dark but quirky and romantic story about saving the world and falling in love, check out the excerpt below of the first book in my series, Speak of the Devil. I’ll give away an eBook of Speak of the Devil to one lucky commenter below!  Good luck!

About the Book:
When falling in love and falling from grace collide...

High school junior Lily Tyler dies along with her two best friends in a car accident, but miraculously she comes back to life several minutes later. Unable to deal with her loss and her survivor's guilt, she moves to her dad's. While there trying to heal from this tragedy and come to terms with the event, she meets some people at her new school who are all too eager to help her. Struggling to fight her feelings for two of these strange new acquaintances, Luc and Mo, she finds out their true identities.

Lily must move on from the past, reconcile her feelings for Luc, and find a way to stop a divine war with the fallen angels, all while trying to pass the eleventh grade.

EXCERPT from Speak of the Devil:
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.

 ...and don't forget to check out the sequel, just out earlier this year!
About The Devil Made Me Do It:
Lily is working with the angels to stifle the last of the demon outbreaks and to figure out how to stop the Silence of God, so life can get back to boring normality. But all hell breaks loose when she's stolen from school and brought face to face with the devil himself. Lily has to find her way back home to Luc, crack the prophecy that breaks the curse silencing God, and figure out how she and Luc can ever really be together; but Lucifer has other plans for her that don't include her ever getting out of Hell intact.

For more information on Shawna and her books, check out



  1. Awesome choices and great post! You can never go wrong with Poe when in need of a chill down your back.

  2. I don't read a lot of horror. I have read Stephen King's Four Season, which is a collection of short stories. Only EOP I've read are poems. I enjoy those. Thanks for sharing the excerpt from Speak of the Devil.

    1. I don't read horror anymore. But I read all of Poe when I was a teen (scared myself silly) as well as everything Stephen King wrote up thru The Stand (well, and On Writing) And the Browning, and Hamlet of course... and I agree that The Lottery was one of the scariest things I read in High School. Or ever. I shoudl go back and reread that...

      Thanks for stopping by, Cherie!


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