Thank you all for helping me with a fantastic launch of Knockout and the #1 Amazon ranking for Bombshell last week during our huge promotions! Grab your copies of my novels while EVERYTHING is still on sale!

Which leads us to something important! Our middle daughter was married last weekend in her dream “Disney Princess” wedding in Colorado. Enjoy a few moments <3:

Rehearsal dinner.

Walking down the aisle…practice video!

Mr. & Mrs (so beautiful)!

(Totally worth the clicks!! Also, pictures of the wedding party and bride/groom–we’ll wait for professional pics, which will come soon)

Some of Eric’s family.

Some of my family. Gorgeous venue.

Day-after fun in Idaho Springs CO


Who doesn’t love a cover reveal?  It’s so exciting to see the “face” of a book you’ve been working on, or in this case, the box set you’re contributing to.  That’s right, I am part of a fabulous Romantic Suspense Box Set, 21 tales of thrilling romantic suspense, mystery, and danger—all NEW stories from USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Amazon Bestselling Authors!  The best part?  We’re donating a large portion of our proceeds to Pets for Vets, a charity that pairs rescued animals with military vets in need of companion animals.  I am so, so happy about this.  As a huge fan of rescuing animals, and granddaughter/sister of military veterans, this is so important to me.

 

My husband with some of our rescues (Petey, Layla, Louise, and Georgia).

To get the ball rolling and maximize visibility, we’re offering the entire set for 99 cents—yes, 99 pennies for 21 books—if you Pre-order NOW.  That means you can order the set today, and have it hit your e-reader on release day, November 13, automatically—a fun surprise just in time for holiday travels and a little escapism when the chaos of the season gets too stressful, or a snowstorm gives you some time to unwind.  While it’s true that just a few 99 cent purchases might not make up a considerable donation, we’re going for thousands of downloads, with so many authors participating and a deal too good to pass up.  We hope you’ll help us meet our goal, and enjoy the stories and perhaps find some new authors to love!

Okay, without further ado…in case you missed it last week in the excitement of my KNOCKOUT launch … here it is, the box set cover of LOVE UNDER FIRE!

What do you think?  I love it!  And I also adore my personal cover for the story I’m contributing, Buckle Bunny.  Stay tuned for that cover reveal, and the cover reveals of each of the stories in the next few months!  Here’s a rundown of the authors and titles:

MISSION under FIRE
The mission changed. Her cover is blown. With nowhere to run and nowhere to hide, what can she do to survive?
RUN for your life
Medical thrillers that chill the heart…
Cold Red
Lily’s Homecoming Under Fire
Monsters in my Closet
Can Becky keep her secrets?

The Turning
The Witches of Storm Island, Book I 
Two Hearts Under Fire
Can two wounded hearts under fire survive love?
Running with Horses
Moving horses on their annual journey from her grandfather’s ranch to the high country comes just in time as Mindy Murphy and her coffee date witness a murder at a Mojave Desert cafe.
Diamonds and Lies
When murder upends a diamond heist, can the jewel thief trust the mark who vows to protect her?

Tender Enemies
When Lily sets up a spy trap, she faces great danger––of falling in love.
Baja Get Away
Sometimes Love is Murder.
Virtually Lace
Michael creates a virtual reality simulation of the murder. Can he solve it in time, before the killer turns on the woman he loves?

The Haunting of Hillwood Farm
A dangerous ghost brings them together…but will they survive long enough to find happiness?

Ace Under Fire
Can this bad boy make a comeback to save an old flame?
Reign Of Fire
To expose a faction threatening America’s democracy, Emily joins forces with a detective investigating her sister’s murder, but she never expected to fall in love––or to encounter her twin’s ghost.
Code Enforcer
Can they overcome their painful pasts—and a murder investigation—to find happiness together?

Deception Bay
She’s armed. He’s dangerous. Together, can they stop a killer from tearing a small island community apart?

The Asylum
A Carmen Garcia romantic suspense novel
Carmen has a secret, and his name is Dr. Micah Worthy.
Chasing Secrets
Her husband’s secret is priceless. Her attempts to retrieve it could be deadly.

Summer of ‘78
Susan Evenbright, pledges to make her last summer in Texas a killer one.

Buckle Bunny
The last guy to call Maggie a buckle bunny didn’t make his eight seconds.

Pre-order links are now up for Love Under Fire, everywhere but Amazon, which will go live on August 13.  If you have a Nook, iTunes, or Kobo account, help us—and Pets for Vets–out and get your copy today!  Thanks and please share the news to all your reader friends!

Love Under Fire on iTunes/iBooks

Love Under Fire on Nook/Barnes & Noble

Love Under Fire on Kobo

Love Under Fire additional links

Available to Pre-Order on Kindle beginning August 13th!

Thank you and Happy Reading!

Want to win one of TWO What Doesn’t Kill You book cover charm bracelets like the one pictured below? This one is for Love Under Fire itself, but I’m giving you, my readers, a bracelet of my books, which will be ready soon. (See my Buckle Bunny cover in the one pictured? Woot!)

Totally cute, right?? I’m ordering a WDKY bracelet for myself. We can wear ours and be twins!

Ready to enter? Go ahead, or read on for more instructions…I’ll give you another chance at the end of this post.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Instructions:

All you have to do to be eligible to win is pre-order ON ITUNES/IBOOKS USA STORE (sorry, my Non-USA friends) the Love Under Fire, the 21-novella box set that I’m contributing to that comes out on November 13th. NOTE: This is not a free giveaway, b/c this box set costs 99 cents. But with only 99 cents for 21 novellas by bestselling, award winning mystery, thriller and suspense authors, you’ve already won.

Proof of pre-order in the form of a screen shot of the iTunes or iBooks pages is required the time of entry.

Here’s what it will look like, with your account name visible in the Account menu pull-down, from iTunes:

Here’s how it will look in iBooks, with your apple ID visible under the Store pulldown menu:

 

Don’t worry, I won’t share these screen shots.

Now let’s enter!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Today today today…is the release of KNOCKOUT…the third and final Ava trilogy romantic mystery in the What Doesn’t Kill You world. Squee! I love me some Ava, and I hope you do too.

 

I can’t wait to hear what you think!

Meanwhile, be sure to download Love Under Fire on Nook, Apple, and Kobo–21 novellas by awardwinning, bestselling authors for only $0.99! We need 500 downloads on EACH site, so don’t let me stop you from downloading it everywhere.

Eric and I just got back from a fantastic weekend at Wild Deadwood Reads in Deadwood, South Dakota. The readers were awesome, and I have a girl crush on my new author friends, Elena Hartnell (Eddie Shoes mysteries) and Christina Hoag (Silver Falchion finalist for suspense). It will be great fun to share our video interviews for Wine Women & Writing with you.

We laughed and laughed and laughed…

Eric and I snuck in a hike up to Roughlock Falls. The Black Hills are gorgeous.

While we were in SD, we had a group staying in our house, a la their purchase of a week at Snowheresville at a charity auction. They were awesome, and one of them told me it was the best vacation of her life <3 Another took a flying lesson and shared this video of our place from above. The yellow haze is flowers–balsam root.

This week, I have picked up our team of Amish fence builders and they are hard at work. In only ten more days, Feathers and Katniss will get to move into their new mountain pasture! And I have saved up descriptions and anecdotes from my time with the Amish for . . . Dead Pile aka Maggie #3, to be written this year!

Last week was the bachelorette weekend and shower for our middle daughter.

Yeah, we’re nothing but class in that video 😉

This weekend is the wedding. We can’t wait! Eric is practicing his father of the bride speech, with lots of tears. After the wedding, our youngest son and his girlfriend are coming back to Wyoming for a week with us.

It’s the best month ever!

Hope yours is fantastic, too, and that’s you enjoy the heck out of KNOCKOUT, and Ava.

 


In honor of the upcoming release of the Ava novels, I’m going to take us down memory lane, week by week. This week’s stop? An exploration of how made up Ava really is ;-).

First, though, Bombshell on p. 20in “Uncaged Reviews


How Made Up is Ava?

If you follow me regularly,  you are privy to my time in the Caribbean..but what you didn’t know is this: Once upon a time, I lived in the paradise of the U.S. Virgin Islands. St. Croix. A big yellow house in the rainforest. I had a best friend. Natalie. An actress/singer—with a Canadian father and Bahamian mother—who had recently returned from years performing and working in the states. We sang together, although I’ll admit hers was the high voice and mine the low and twangy. We laughed and cried with each other. We shared our hearts and opened up about issues that seem like such lightning rods a decade later, almost like if you talk about them that makes you some kind of “IST” (rac-IST, for example): what it’s like to be mixed race, how it feels to be a minority (me in the islands, her in the Colorado, New York, and Los Angeles), the inherent privileges of birth. She taught me how to be a Freshwater West Indian, how to RELAX and lime a little. We’ve visited: her in Texas, me back in the islands, but it’s not the same, and I miss her nearly every day.

So if you’re wondering how far fiction strays from truth when it comes to Ava, well, not too much. Sure, some of the stories are embellished. A few are made up. But most of Ava in the Katie books and Earth to Emily is just a memory/love song to my faraway friend. Art imitates life after all. So it’s probably no surprise that I got most of my inspiration for the Emily books from another friend, Stephanie. And when Natalie/Ava and Stephanie/Emily met in Texas, it was magic. Two very different sides of my life coming together and creating a friendship of their own, at the launch party for Saving Grace, of all places. Because of that, because of them, Earth to Emily was born.

And because of all the love for Ava, Bombshell is about to be born, then Stunner and Knockout, both of which are in the works now!


Catch up on your What Doesn’t Kill You reading, HERE!

Read a sneak peek of and pre-order Knockout HERE.

And have a great week!


I’ve got lots of news for you about LOVE UNDER FIRE including an invitation to join us on Facebook for the next 21 days!! Plus new giveaways and book deals.

JOIN US ON FACEBOOK IN OUR LOVE UNDER FIRE READERS’ GROUP

Coming in November, LOVE UNDER FIRE is now available for preorder on KOBO, NOOK, APPLE. We’ll have it for you on Amazon soon, too!

Join us in June for author meet & greets–June 1-21

Come to meet each of us as the 21 authors with books in the box set celebrate the preorder and cover reveal–starting June 1st and ending June 22nd.

It’s my turn on June 16th. Join me to for a teaser or two about my new MAGGIE KILLIAN romantic mystery mysteries debuting in this box set. A new author every day and giveaways, of course, including a nice basket from all of us to be awarded to a lucky winner on JUNE 22nd. Woohoo!

To find our reader group on Facebook, just CLICK HERE.

FYI! Proceeds from this box set to be released on Veterans Day go to a wonderful organization: PETS FOR VETS! A good deal and a good deed for 99c.

Here’s the blurb:

When Love Sparks Danger, Get Ready for an Explosion!

Twenty-one Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and bestselling authors bring you a heart-pounding collection of stories all in one amazing romantic suspense boxed set.

From around the edges of every day existence lurks betrayal, greed, and death.

With every turn of the page, feel the heat of adrenaline as fear lights up the night. Fight alongside the tenacious heroes and heroines as they battle for survival. They’ll put everything on the line to thwart the evil coming after them.

They want to trust in the power of love. But is it enough?

HOW DO YOU GET YOUR COPY? (My friends, we need the pre-orders. It’s 99 cents. 21 novellas. Maybe some of you could order it everywhere it’s available? We’re making a run at the USA Today list, and we know exactly how many sales we need to even have a shot at it…I need ya!)

https://www.books2read.com/u/mleeJP

In honor of the release of the Ava novels, I’m going to take us down memory lane, week by week. This week’s stop? An interview with Ava after her splashy appearance in Earth to Emily.

Before we start…want to make painkillers a la Ava, using the recipe below? We did! You can watch it HERE.

 


At Home With Ava

Continuing our conversation with Ava, this week about what’s up at her house.

Pamela: So where do you call home these days, Ava?

Ava: A duplex belong to my parents.

With my daughter Ginger.

Pamela: How is old is Ginger now?

Ava: She make one year soon. And she already walking.

Pamela: Does she sing?

Ava: She try. No clear words yet.

Pamela: Can we see some pictures?

Ava: I keep Lily private. But I show you some of the house.

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 3.13.09 PM

Pamela: Is it on the beach?

Ava: Looking over the water, from a hillside. Irie.

Pamela: Love it! Is Ginger eating solid foods?

Ava: She is. She love fish and fungi. Especially fungi.

Pamela: Fish and what?

Ava: Fungi. Say it like foon-ji.

Pamela: Foon-ji. What is it?

Ava: Fish, vegetables, cornmeal. If you grow up in the Virgin Islands, it like the national dish.

Pamela: Can we put that recipe below?

Ava: Yah mon.

Pamela: Any other favorite recipes to share? Rashidi says you make a mean rum Painkiller.

Ava: For true. They sneak up on you. Sure, I give you that one, too.

Pamela: Last thing. Every time we have a literary guest, we ask them to pick a book club question from the website for everyone to answer, and then we give your answer (and mine) the following week. Have you picked a question?

Ava: Yah, this one from Earth to Emily, even though I in the Katie books, too. “How did you feel about the re-entrance of Ava into Emily’s life?” And I know what the answer should be. (Harrumphs)

Pamela (laughing): I’ll have fun with this one. Thanks for coming Ava. Tell Rashidi hi for us.

Ava: That Rash a lady killer. No need making it worse. Thanks for having me.

Virgin Islands Fish and Fungi

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 3.29.46 PM


Ava’s Painkillers

Mix 2 parts orange juice, 2 parts pineapple juice, 1 part Coco Lopez, and 1 part rum in a blender. Serve over ice sprinkled with nutmeg. Drink at your own risk. You welcome.


Tune in next week for what’s cooking at Ava’s place. Meanwhile, if you have entertainment tips for Ava or a suggestion on the actor to play her in a movie, comment below.

Catch up on your What Doesn’t Kill You reading, HERE!

Read a sneak peek of and pre-order Knockout HERE.

And have a great week!


I’m taking the Patreon plunge!

For a long time I’ve toyed with the idea of whether to create with Patreon. Patron is a platform that connects creators to patrons. For as little as $1 a month, patrons can sponsor a creator.

Why would I seek support?

Because the costs of production and publication can, literally, stop my presses, if I can’t cover them. Whoopsie.

Why would you do this?

Because you get all kinds of exclusive, valuable goodies in addition to the “feels” kind, as in “I feels good that I’m supporting the production of a radio show by women, for women, and about women,” all for the price of what the books cost anyway. But I said it better, below, in the write-up I did for Patreon:

{Or cut to the chase and go see the super cool Patreon page I did, HERE}


I’m Pamela Fagan Hutchins, winner of a Silver Falchion (which I can’t pronounce), writer of mysteries, and host of a radio show about kick-ass women in writing and literature. I also do this animal thing. Dogs, donkeys, goats, horses—I’m a sucker for fur and four legs.

I am also this odd breed of feminist, the middle-aged, moderate kind. It’s funny, because I don’t think of myself as writing feminist literature. But everything I write and all of my radio work is about strong, authentic female characters coping with the complexities of life. I’ve raised three daughters (one birth, two step, all three warrior goddesses). My dog is a girl, my horse is a girl, and I volunteer in the rescue and recovery of young women from sex trafficking. In my past lives, I’ve been a female executive in the oil refining industry, a woman entrepreneur, a sexual harassment investigator, and co-founder of a company that offered telecommuting back in the stone ages, usually to women.

So, yeah, I write women, I interview women, I empower women. And I think my readers and listeners can relate to this. They hunger for a point of view that challenges them, entertains them, delights them, and excites them, and never, ever dismisses them. Not because of their age, their gender, their religion, race, sexuality, or ethnicity. Whether they did or didn’t have kids. Whatever their body size or type. No matter their political beliefs. Or any other damn thing.

I don’t shy away from the hard issues. Immigration (legal and illegal, and the impacts on children), alcoholism, sexual abuse, sexuality and sexual identification, procreation and the choice not to procreate in all its forms, divorce, step-families, foster care, adoption, drug abuse, you name it. Women’s issues are everyone’s issues, and no authentic life is complete without facing them.

I’m working hard to deliver this. Not just because it’s fun being a writer and a radio host. Which it is. But also because in everything I do, I convince myself I can change the world, one person, one viewpoint, and one decision at a time.

(Insert snort and eye roll here: yes, in my little romantic mysteries and chatty radio. Delusional? Maybe I am. But I’m very, very passionate about this, so haters and nonbelievers move along, move along.)

That’s why I do what I do for far less than minimum wage (and sometimes no wage at all). Yes, I gave up my fancy schmancy old life for one where I toil in semi-obscurity for peanuts. Yes, I hustle to rent our farm and cabin on Air BnB to help cover my costs. Yes, I work harder than I ever have before. I write three full novels per year, plus the odd novella and short story. I host at least two radio shows a month. It’s a seven-day a week job, and it’s my privilege. I know I’m blessed, truly I am, to have readers, reviews, awards, and sales that pay the bills of running my publishing business. Most of them, anyway.

I have you to thank for it.

THANK YOU. Thank you for reading, listening, and supporting. Thank you for considering being my patron on Patreon. Take a look at the tiers and rewards on my Patreon page, and see if one of them fits you. Your ongoing support makes it possible for me to delude myself that I’m getting my messages out there to the universe. 😉 The continuity inherent in the patron model helps a
creator get over the bumps, dips, and financial road blocks life throws in the way of creating. If you are already buying my books or listening to my radio show, I thank you, and feel free to continue that if it works better for you. This model simply helps me, and I want to make sure that it’s value-added for you, too, with much more that what’s listed under the rewards tiers on my site, with audio, video, and written surprises that won’t be available anywhere else. Plus you’ll get the “feels,” as in, “I feels good about supporting the creation of Pamela’s message in this way.” Yeah, that. So won’t you join me as I evolve and my Patreon site grows and richens with me?

Thank you for helping me change the world, one reader and listener at a time . . .


Want to read the different reward levels? Or just go out and visit my really cool Patreon site?

Do it HERE. I’d be so grateful if you did.

JOIN THE GROUP ONLINE NOW!

Cover Reveal & Meet Authors Event Starts June 1st!
When finding love sparks danger…Support Pets for Vets!Twenty-one Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and bestselling authors bring you a heart-pounding collection of stories all in one amazing romantic suspense boxed set.On the road to love lurks mystery, betrayal, greed, and death.

With every turn of the page, romance smolders and fiery suspense lights up the night. Feel love and pain as you fight alongside the tenacious heroes and heroines as they battle for their love and survival. They’ll put everything on the line to thwart the danger coming after them.

They want to trust in the power of love. But is it enough?
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

JUNE 1 -COVER REVEAL
Come join us to see the official cover for Love Under Fire, enter to win our first giveaway: Love Under Fire Survival Kit Tote filled with the tools you need to survive … (contents revealed on June 1st)

THEN STICK AROUND TO MEET THE AUTHORS!
Starting June 1st and running until June 21st you will meet the authors from this set! The authors will introduce themselves and interact with you every day! All authors will be having their own giveaways! So that means you have a chance  to win everyday!

Below is the author line up.
K. M. Hodge will kick off this event on June 1st
Uvi Poznansky June 2nd
Suzanne Jenkins June 3rd
Anna Celeste Burke June 4th
Fiona Quinn June 5th
Chris Patchell June 6th
Jinx Schwartz June 7th
Kathryn Knight June 8th
Tamara Ferguson June 9th
Aaron Paul Lazar June 10th
Judith Lucci June 11th
Margaret A. Daly June 12th
Pamela Fagan Hutchins June 13th
Casi McLean June 14th
S.R. Mallery (Sarah Mallery) June 15th
Stephanie Queen June 16th
Alyssa Richards June 17th
Linda Watkins June 18th
Inge-Lise Goss June 19th
Author Stephany Tullis June 20th
Valerie J. Clarizio – Romance Author June 21st

JOIN THE GROUP!
This is the only way to participate!!! <3 <3 <3 Pamela
SHARE THE EVENT POST ON FACEBOOK
SHARE THIS EVENT ON TWITTER

In honor of the release of the Ava novels, I’m going to take us down memory lane, week by week. This week’s stop? An interview with Ava after her splashy appearance in Earth to Emily.

But first, enjoy two new interviews!

Authors on the Air with Pam Stack, here. Or here:

And . . . Voyage Houston, here.


It’s All About Ava

HiRes

 

This month is all about Ava, sidekick of Katie in the Katie & Annalise books, and now  featured in Earth to Emily as well. 

Pamela: Ava, Ava, Ava. So good to see you, although a bit of a surprise in West Texas.

Ava: I more surprised than you, for true.

Pamela: What did you think of Amarillo?

Ava: I freeze my bana.

Pamela (laughing): She means “tush,” for those of you who haven’t traveled to the islands. Maybe if you wore more clothing, Ava?

Ava (snorts): Next question.

Pamela: You weren’t in Amarillo long, though, were you?

Ava: Nah. My gig in Amarillo snow out, so I ride with Jack and Emily to New Mexico.

Pamela: Oh, I’ve heard about you in New Mexico.

Ava (winks): Yah mon.

Pamela: So, you’re pretty hip. Give us some entertainment recommendations.

Ava: A book about a talented sexy Virgin Islands singer be entertaining.

Pamela: Oh, it’s coming, for sure, it’s coming.

Ava: When?

Pamela: I wouldn’t be surprised if your story starts coming out before the end of 2017.

Ava: Well, until then, I reading a great book I heard about in Amarillo. Pennies from Burger Heaven. It by a local girl, I t’ink. Marcy McKay.

Pamela: I’m especially interested in your music recommendations, since you’re a professional.

Ava: Keeping it old school, I go with I Try by Macy Gray and Can I Walk With You by India Arie. A little Sade and Rihanna nice, too, bringing in some Caribbean flavor.

Pamela: I love Umbrella.

Ava: Love the Way You Lie with Eminem light me up.

Pamela: And when you’re not reading or involved with music?

Ava: Uh, well, I not usually into movies, but I watch The Mechanic last night. Jason Statham not a man I’d kick out of bed.

Pamela: Speaking of which, who got you to watch an action flick?

Ava (inspects her nails): That classified.


Tune in next week for what’s cooking at Ava’s place. Meanwhile, if you have entertainment tips for Ava or a suggestion on the actor to play her in a movie, comment below.

Catch up on your What Doesn’t Kill You reading, HERE!

Read a sneak peek of and pre-order Knockout HERE.

And have a great week!


In honor of the release of the Stunner earlier this week, I’m going to take us down memory lane, week by week. This week’s stop? A throwback from way back in 2013 after the release of Leaving Annalise. This ran on Lori’s Reading Corner originally, and it was the first time I wrote Ava in the first person.

But first, want to see me reading the first chapter of Stunner, live on video, HERE?

Or the SNEAK PEEK first chapter of Knockout, HERE?

How about the video trailer for Stunner? Yep, you can see that HERE, as well.


Character interview: Ava Butler in Leaving Annalise by Pamela Fagan Hutchins

We’re here today talking to Ava Butler. Ava is a NYU-trained actress and singer, living on her home island of St. Marcos in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She appears most recently in Leaving Annalise, the second book in the Katie & Annalise romantic mystery series kicked off by Saving Grace.

Hi Ava, and welcome. You’re a musician, so, tell us: what songs are most played on your Ipod?

Good afternoon. Thank you for having me. My singing partner Katie from Texas, so I studying country music lately. We gonna add some of her songs to our set list. I feel like a traitor to my own people saying this, but it probably old Dixie Chicks and new Pistol Annies for harmonies.

Your accent is beautiful, and I’d love to go to the Caribbean someday. Where do you dream of traveling to and why, when you already live in one of the prettiest places in the world?

Nowhere cold! If I made of money, I fly to Italy. I love the food, the wine, and the Italian sensuality. I think if I ever go I probably meet a count and spend the rest of my life in a castle, only come back home once a year for Carnival.

Who should play you in a film? 

Me. Next question.

Morning Person? Or Night Person? How do you know?

Night person, definitely. It hard to be a morning person when you don’t wake up before noon. I always in a show last till the wee hours, so I sleep in the day. Me and vampires.

What would we find under your bed?

My last boyfriend’s sandals, maybe? My orange bikini top? A suitcase? I just kick stuff under there, I not really all that sure what you find.

What is the next big thing for you?

There this New York producer–big name guy, he the producer for Slither and some other really successful acts–that want to hear Katie and me sing. We been rehearsing. I got a real good feeling about this one. Katie and I like salt and pepper, like sweet and sour. One better with the other than by itself. Best keep an eye out for us, we going places.

Wow, Ava, that sounds great. Thanks for talking to us, and good luck to you and Katie with the producer!

***

Well, we all know how that went (or, if you don’t, catch up on your What Doesn’t Kill You reading, HERE!).

Read a sneak peek of and pre-order Knockout HERE.

 

 


 

Want to enter the contest for Bombshell paperbacks? If you can’t see it in your email, visit the post on my website.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Ava’s Bringing Sexy Back!

Getting water to feed the horses with this adorable ranch hand one minute, trudging to my tent and getting sexy with Ava the next. Ah, the life.

A few years ago, I wrote three novels about a late-blooming woman named Katie Connell. Some time later, they were published, and the reaction to these books and their characters surprised the heck out of me. The question I was asked most frequently was, “When will you write another Katie novel?”

I’d left Katie in a good place at the end of her third star-turn in Finding Harmony. I was excited about the interest in her, and I suggested to my then-editor and then-and-still-husband-and-story-partner Eric that I write more Katies. Both of them voted NO, with no equivocation. I was terrified that if I left Katie and moved on to another protagonist, readers wouldn’t come along with me. Meghan and Eric both argued for the integrity of Katie’s journey/story/character development.

My gut told me they were right.

By then, I’d already written Going for Kona, which was anchored by Katie’s law school friend Michele. I brought Katie and Nick into the story as well.


 Catch last week’s episode: Wine Women & Writing Radio with Pamela Fagan Hutchins & NYT-bestseller C.C. Hunter!


The question, then, was what was next. I didn’t want to start with a new character. I wanted to stay in the world I had created. If I wasn’t going to focus on Katie anymore, I had to choose between Michele and my other characters, Emily and Ava. I wanted to wait to write more about Michele. She’s my most personal character. The one most like me and my life. She needed space in the timeline of my books to heal. That left Emily and Ava.

And I’m going to be totally honest: I wrote about Emily first because Ava terrifies me!!! (For more on that, read Part One of the Story Behind the Story, on Cultural Appropriation)

Emily has become popular now in her own right. I’ve introduced new female characters, two of whom are slated for what is now known as the What Doesn’t Kill You world: Laura (introduced in the Emily novels) and Maggie (introduced in Fighting for Anna). As with any author of multiple protagonists, I find people who are #TeamKatie, #TeamMichele, or #TeamEmily, and that’s totally cool. But meanwhile people have been asking for more AVA.

Ugh, Ava. Oversexed Ava. Non-monogamous Ava. To write her without dealing with these truths of her personality and life would be inauthentic, yet these are the two of the qualities I am least comfortable exploring. I’m just not a Fifty Shades of Grey type of author or reader, even though I don’t think I’m a Pollyanna. I just have personal preferences as to what I enjoy exploring in fiction.


My retreat is happening during Craig Johnson’s LONGMIRE DAYS in nearby Buffalo, WY I’ve had a cancellation, so I have a room left!! More information, HERE.

 

 

 


So I’ve wrestled with how to write Ava’s point of view for the last few years. She should have been easier, since she’s based on my best friend from St. Croix, Natalie. The translation from person to page, though, is not a straight line. I played with Ava in Earth to Emily. I experimented with her in my novella, Act One. It was harder than I’d expected. Then I launched into her first story (already discussed and outlined over the previous year with Eric) last fall, only to find myself struggling with my own health issues and putting the manuscript down for a few months.

I was relieved to stop. *Sigh*

I picked it up against a few months later, and wrote this piece:

 I’m eighty pages into Bombshell. In the first seventy pages, I managed to channel Ava without having to confront her sexuality with direct behavior. Heck, the only times I’ve written sex scenes, they were love scenes, and I could turn to experiences I am familiar with. Not with Ava, not in her life at the time I am writing about. Love has nothing to do with the scenes I need to write.

It’s not that I don’t know how to write sex or think it doesn’t belong in books. When it’s important to the development of the character or the plot/storyline, sex belongs in a book, at a level of disclosure appropriate to the POV character. Which means, for Ava, a lot more disclosure for me than before. And if I am going to write sex, I not only have to have a compelling reason for it, I have to write it well. I have to write good sex, from Ava’s perspective. Good sex is, well, good, and I am lucky in that regard personally, but that just isn’t the same as what it is for Ava. So I have to come up with unique good sex outside my experience and my comfort zone.


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Finally, that moment came when to continue to keep Ava out of this sexual situation was no longer possible, if I was going to be true to her point of view.

So I trudged up to my writing tent in my knee high snake boots and some really attractive gray yoga pants that ended at the top of my boots. I’d jammed a straw cowboy hat on over my wet hair and thrown on a t-shirt promoting tiny Burton, Texas. Our two draft cross horses were munching sweet alfalfa from a round bale, eying me and lazily swishing their tails. Three dogs dug their sleeping spots and settled at my feet in a cloud of dust.

I didn’t look like a woman about to get her sexy on, that was for sure, and I didn’t feel like one either.

I closed my eyes and pictured Ava. Within seconds, I am on St. Marcos, at a party on the patio of a gorgeous home, the silky night air caressing my skin, the stars winking at me from above. In this scene Ava’s the date of a wealthy, mysterious man (just her type!) who’s a partner in the business she’s just gone to work with. There’s been a murder, maybe two. Someone is stalking her, or maybe not. Not everything seems kosher with her new employer, or maybe it is. She’s struggling as a single mom and only child of aging parents. And, she’s trying to convince herself that she’s not in love with another man who she’s just dumped (spoiler: think Earth to Emily). So she’s throwing herself into a new relationship, or, relationships—this is Ava, after all. The evening unfolds, ripe with sinister elements, suspense, and night blooming jasmine, and suddenly I can see it, hear it, smell it, taste it, and touch it, as if I’m Ava instead of Pamela. She makes choices, says things, does things, that I have no experience with, yet they flow from my fingertips as if it’s all happening around me and to me, because of me. And I don’t even have the grace to blush.

When I’d finished the scene, I looked up. The horses have come to the fence nearest me. They’re watching me, curious. I wonder if they’d sensed my departure from my body, the temporary takeover staged by Ava. They’re empathic like that, and after a few moments, they resumed eating, and I realized, yes, they probably knew better than I what just happened.


May 18th 10 am CT on Wine Women & Writing Radio with Pamela Fagan Hutchins: NYT-Bestseller Mary Alice Monroe.


Time and many, many more words will tell whether or not this scene will stay in the book as is or whether it will get a substantial toning down or be cut altogether. Maybe we’ll close the door and not be a voyeur to Ava’s private life. Sometimes as a writer, though, it’s not about what makes the final cut, but about writing it true, understanding your character, and letting the chips fall where they may later.

Yesterday, I wrote Ava true. And I think I need a cold shower 😉

Ava is pretty lovable, and she’s got me cheering for her. #TeamAva

Newsflash, a year later: The scene stayed in the book. My content editor loved it. My betas said it got them hot under the collar. And it is true to Ava, whose personal experiences make her uniquely her, which is what mattered most to me.

See you next week for the release of StunnerTune in as I read Chapter One, live on video, on May 15 at 8 am CT HERE, or if you want to join in all the giveaways and fun, you can join the release party group HERE.


Wait! Before you read, want to enter the contest? If you can’t see it in your email, be sure to visit the post on my website.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


I’m Your Venus!

Welcome to this four-part installment of the Story Behind the Story of my Ava novels: Bombshell, Stunner, and Knockout. Not long to wait now until the release of Stunner on May 15 and Knockout on June 12.

Catch up on your What Doesn’t Kill You reading before Stunner HERE and Knockout drop HERE!

Plus you can read all the Story Behind the Story installments right where you’re at, my blog.

  1. What Gives Me the Right? Yep, I’m going there. We’re going to talk about cultural appropriation, and whether little ole white American me has the right to create and deliver a black, native West Indian protagonist.
  2. What’s in a Name: Bombshell, Stunner, Knockout . . . all terms with multiple meanings, one about feminine allure, and one about violence.
  3. I’m Your Venus: Goddess power and Ava’s attachment to “pagan” Roman gods.

Next week: She’s Bringing Sexy Back: Great sex, and my humble viewpoint on when and how to include it in a book.


I’m Your Venus!

No spoilers, so I’ll have to be a little cagey, but you’ll discover early on in these novels that Ava’s mother is a devout Catholic who dreamed of her daughter taking the orders and becoming a nun one day. Ava was raised in the Catholic Church and attending Catholic schools. Something(s) happened that pushed her away from the religion, but not from the faith. At the same time, something(s) hyper-sexualized her, but made it hard for her to achieve the ultimate in enjoyment from the act of sexual intercourse.

Ava became a paradox.


Catch my brand new show, Wine Women & Writing Radio, debuting Friday May 4 at 10 am CT with guest C.C. Hunter aka Chrstie Craig, HERE!


She sought to fill the religion/faith gap by learning about other religions, and ultimately became fascinated with the classics: Roman mythology especially. She enjoys their tie to paganism and its (arguable) crossover into elements of Roman Catholicism. {The Mother Superior accuses Ava and her fellow natives of St. Marcos of paganism in one of the scenes I love best from Bombshell.}

Thus Ava iss particularly susceptible to being called Venus, after the Roman Goddess of love, beauty, and procreation. And as an actress, Ava prides herself on being able to play any role, and when cast as Venus, Ava hits her marks.

Personally, I was terrified to write Ava largely because to do so authentically meant I had to open the door on her sexuality. For me, the Venus concept was electrifying and opened Ava up to me. Talk about your original “bombshell,” in all meanings of the word, as discussed in last week’s The Story Behind the Story post. Born of sea foam, Venus’s flower is the myrtle, which is thought to be a potent aphrodisiac, the bringer of orgasm. Venus is the goddess of prostitutes, but can turn the hearts of men and woman from sexual vice to virtue.

Venus even works for Ava’s feelings and fears about Collin. Venus fell in love with Adonis, the sexiest man alive, and a hunter of wild creatures. She feared that which he hunted would kill him, and hated them for it, begging him not to put her happiness at risk. Alas, he does, and is killed, breaking her heart. Ava fears the same will happen to Collin, as a police officer, and she pushes him away.


My retreat is happening during Craig Johnson’s LONGMIRE days in nearby Buffalo, WY, so we’re going to meet him and hear him speak! I’ve had a cancellation, so I have a room left!! More information, HERE.


But Ava isn’t fussy, and while others associate her with Venus, she picks and chooses among deities of every religion to fit her needs of the day, to harness her goddess power. She has emptiness inside, and is constantly striving to fill it. Whether that be with identification/supplication to a deity, with sex, with admiration, or even with alcohol and the occasional drug, making her the ultimate goddess of the morning after.

Ava’s journey, if you will, from Bombshell to Stunner to Knockout will be about figuring out how to fill the emptiness for good, or discover that what looked like a black hole was just a dark cloud after all. From her Venus to her . . . . ??? Her inner goddess is there, eager to reveal itself. We’ll just have to wait and see what that looks like for the unique, strong, lovely soul that is Ava.


Up for grabs!!! 2 tickets to Wild Deadwood Reads on June 9th in gorgeous, historic Deadwood, SD (info about the event HERE). Enter by leaving a comment telling me why you want to go to Wild Deadwood Reads. Drawing May 3rd.


Wait! Before you read, want to enter the contest? If you can’t see it in your email, be sure to visit the post on my website.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Catch my brand new show, Wine Women & Writing Radio, debuting Friday May 4 at 10 am CT with guest C.C. Hunter aka Chrstie Craig, HERE!


My retreat is happening during Craig Johnson’s LONGMIRE days in nearby Buffalo, WY, so we’re going to meet him and hear him speak! I’ve had a cancellation, so I have a room left!! More information, HERE.


Up for grabs!!! 2 tickets to Wild Deadwood Reads on June 9th in gorgeous, historic Deadwood, SD (info about the event HERE). Enter by leaving a comment telling me why you want to go to Wild Deadwood Reads. Drawing May 3rd.

 


What’s In a Name?

Welcome to this four-part installment of the Story Behind the Story of my Ava novels: Bombshell, Stunner, and Knockout. Not long to wait now until the release of Stunner on May 15 and Knockout on June 12.

First, though . . .

Catch up on your What Doesn’t Kill You reading before Stunner HERE and Knockout drop HERE!

Read a sneak peek of Stunner HERE and Knockout HERE.

Pre-order Stunner HERE and Knockout HERE.

Plus you can read all four Story Behind the Story installments right where you’re at, my blog.

  1. What Gives Me the Right? Yep, I’m going there. We’re going to talk about cultural appropriation, and whether little ole white American me has the right to create and deliver a black, native West Indian protagonist.
  2. What’s in a Name: Bombshell, Stunner, Knockout . . . all terms with multiple meanings, one about feminine allure, and one about violence.

Next up:

I’m Your Venus: Goddess power and Ava’s attachment to “pagan” Roman gods.

She’s Bringing Sexy Back: Great sex, and my humble viewpoint on when and how to include it in a book.


What’s in a Name?

We’ve heard the names people use for sexy, gorgeous women all our lives, probably mostly without thinking about it. We’ve maybe used the words ourselves, meaning them as nothing but complimentary (or maybe not). Having worked in diversity, respect, and inclusion most of my adult life, I’m used to analyzing words: meaning, intention, history, and context. Mostly my focus has been on analysis regarding demeaning or derogatory terminology. To my chagrin, I occasionally even discover words that I’ve used have different meanings to others or within new contexts.

Take the terms bombshell, stunner, and knockout, for instance.

Interestingly, I did not find the actual meaning—a bomb—in the first several definitions I looked up of bombshell. Yet that is its origin: a violently explosive round of artillery. Similarly for stunner, the definitions did not include the violent imagery of, say, a stun gun, or a blow that stuns the recipient. Only with knockout did the origin of violence appear in the common definition of today, but then again, it was the word also most blatantly linked not only to a woman’s sexuality, but to words placing a high value on her physical looks. I get a kick out of the PC example of knockout in the definition I copied and pasted above. I very rarely hear the word knockout used to describe a man, and the synonyms themselves lean toward the feminine, even though on their face they are gender neutral. Common usage just tells a different story.

Here we have three words, all meaning attractive, yet all with origins in violence, and all with ties to valuing a person, most usually a woman, for her looks, like the phrase “arm candy,” which is borderline demeaning (and is demeaning in certain contexts).

So this got me thinking. why is it that we equate attractive people, especially women, to violence? Is it the women who categorize others this way? Maybe, but I doubt they coined the terms, simply because the statistics of sexuality lean toward men finding the women attractive in this way. Woman are not, generally (and, yes, there is a danger in generalizations, but it is also a way we seek to understand the world around us, so permit me here), the more violent gender.

So let me make an intuitive leap: why do men associate women with violence? With these words, it’s in an arguably complimentary way, if we conclude that the terms explain the impact of an attractive woman on men. But violence against women is perpetuated a great majority of the time by men. And I’m fascinated and repelled at the same time thinking about this push-pull: a man suggesting that a woman’s looks do violence unto him, and a man committing violence against a woman. What’s that old saw? “She asked for it?” And another: “She had it coming?” Where certain men (none like my father, brother, husband, or sons, and hopefully none like you or yours) blame women for a male’s propensity to commit violence on the female.

That’s crazy, to me. It also may not be “right,” per se, my analysis into these terms, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s the exploration of controversial ideas that excites me as a writer.

PLEASE don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against men in general at the same time as I rely on facts to tell me that males have a greater propensity for violence than females. I also have nothing against the accident of birth that is physical beauty in the eyes of some beholders. I don’t get offended if someone gives me an appropriate nonsexual compliment, especially if it’s clear they don’t see me solely as my outside package. I’m not taking exception with the use of the terms bombshell, stunner, and knockout. I’m simply exploring a relationship between words, meaning, origin, and context that I find interesting and rife with the conflict and tension I think make for great fiction.

My fascination/repulsion with the topic and terminology is at the heart of BombshellStunner, and Knockout. Hence the titles, the thematic elements, and even the covers, which feature the violence, and not the sexy female the name suggests.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Writing novels can turn into a rather one-way flow of ideas without you guys to set me straight.

Wait! Before you read, want to enter the contest? If you can’t see it in your email, be sure to visit the post on my website.

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And how about a free book this week? It’s only free through Monday, so grab it while it’s hot:

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Welcome to this four-part installment of the Story Behind the Story of my Ava novels: Bombshell, Stunner, and Knockout. Not long to wait now until the release of Stunner on May 15 and Knockout on June 12.

First, though . . .

Catch up on your What Doesn’t Kill You reading before Stunner HERE and Knockout drop HERE!

Read a sneak peek of Stunner HERE and Knockout HERE.

Pre-order Stunner HERE and Knockout HERE.

Plus you can read all four Story Behind the Story installments right where you’re at, my blog.

  1. What Gives Me the Right? Yep, I’m going there. We’re going to talk about cultural appropriation, and whether little ole white American me has the right to create and deliver a black, native West Indian protagonist.

Up next:

  1. What’s in a Name: Bombshell, Stunner, Knockout . . . all terms with multiple meanings, one about feminine allure, and one about violence.
  2. I’m Your Venus: Goddess power and Ava’s attachment to “pagan” Roman gods.
  3. She’s Bringing Sexy Back: Great sex, and my humble viewpoint on when and how to include it in a book.

The Cultural Appropriation Debate in Literature

Lately there’s been a lot of great dialogue in the writing community about the concept of cultural appropriation. Wikipedia, while not the world’s greatest source, defines it fairly well:

Cultural appropriation is the adoption or use of the elements of one culture by members of another culture. Often, the original meaning of these cultural elements is lost or distorted, and such displays are often viewed as disrespectful by members of the originating culture, or even as a form of desecration.

I would add “often viewed as exploitation” to this definition.

This begs some questions: In a world of diverse individuals whose cultural differences (or similarities) are not often apparent at first glance, who has a right to enjoy what? And more to the point in fiction, who has the right to write what? And does anyone have the right to censor ideas?

The best, most-balanced post I’ve seen on these issues is THIS ONE on WriterUnboxed. It appears to me that some believe that it is impossible to authentically write in the shoes of someone immutably different from oneself while others acknowledge that with proper respect, research, and skill development it is possible. Some argue that to do so inherently steals opportunity from those within the culture, while others argue that unique voices with unique characters writing unique stories will be more likely to find their readers, and I’d add especially in these days of indie publishing, where there is no gatekeeper preventing anyone from publishing a story. Opinions vary, but even those arguing against writing outside one’s immutable characteristics recognize that not every character in a story will be identical to the author’s background. Certainly almost every book ever written has both male and female characters, for example. And many are written in multiple, diverse points of view.

A writer, in fact, must be able to do this well to create an authentic novel filled with conflict and tension. The ultimate judge and jury will be the readers. If they find a novel to be disrespectful, inauthentic, and/or exploitative, they don’t have to read it and can review it online as such (and do).

I’ve written before about authenticity in characterization, which you can catch up on HERE if you’d like, before we dive in. Or not.

I’ve also disclosed that I have worked in the field of diversity, respect, and inclusion for most of my professional life, which you can read about HERE. We’ll grab a coffee while we wait on you. It’s not a problem. Really.

And that brings us to Ava and Bombshell, Stunner, and Knockout.

Ava is immutably diverse from me. She arose as a supporting character so beloved to readers and to me that I decided to write from her POV. Ultimately, the readers of Bombshell will be the only ones in a position to judge whether I had the right to write her, and whether in doing so I desecrated, disrespected, or exploited West Indian culture.

Let me tell you her—and my—story.

I first began writing about the Caribbean culture during the nearly ten years I spent living on the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I wrote about it from the POV first of myself (a “freshwater West Indian,” aka non-local or continental) in narrative nonfiction, which quickly morphed into the POV of Katie, a Texas-transplant to the Virgin Islands. The Virgin Islands characters I created were based on people (or amalgamations of people) I knew well in real life. Did I mention I am married to a native West Indian (West Indian = a native or inhabitant of any of the islands of the West Indies)? He’s my in-house expert. But it was from loving the islands and the people I met there that the desire to write a novel (novels, as it turned out) in the Caribbean arose. I often call the Katie novels my “love letter to the Virgin Islands.” It’s unflinchingly honest from Katie’s perspective, but it is full of love and the utmost of respect, and I could not be prouder of anything than the praise these novels have received from native West Indians and freshwater West Indians alike about their authenticity and the respect, honesty, and love they see in them, for the place, the culture, and the people.

Phew. I worried about that. A lot.

Now I’m worrying again. And it is this worry that has kept me from writing Ava as a protagonist until now. Ava is a black, native West Indian. She is immutably different from me. That, and she’s sexier than I normally write, but I’ll talk about that in a later part of this Story Behind the Story series. Yet it wasn’t fear that I’d be accused of cultural appropriation that held me back, mind you, at least not years ago when I finished writing the Katie books.

I was afraid (and still am) of not writing Ava authentically. Which is somewhat humorous since she a) doesn’t exist except in my imagination and b) is based lock, stock, and smoking hot barrel on my best friend Natalie. {Assume all her best traits are Natalie’s and her worst are fictitious!} I long for you, the reader, to revel in Ava and find her authentic. But the one person in the world I care most about viewing her as authentic is Natalie. If I have Natalie on my side, well, then I’ll know I got it right.

In today’s climate, I do worry, though, that people who don’t read my novels will libel me as misappropriating culture, without looking past the color of my skin and that of the protagonist. And, honestly, I think that’s doing diversity wrong, as I believe we should always seek first to understand, and anyone who can’t get past a white woman writing from the POV of a black woman should seek to understand before condemning (then they might be appalled to know I’ve already written from the POV of a Latina woman): does this woman deliver this character authentically and with respect? I pray that I do, and I believe with my whole heart that it would be racist of me to omit the most interesting and provocative character I’ve ever written from this series because SHE IS BLACK AND I AM WHITE.

I hope I will be judged not on whether or not I had the right to write my own longstanding character, but on whether I wrote her well.

So tell us what you really think, Pamela.

Let’s be honest. Writers write what they know, and if they don’t already know it, they have to go out and learn it so they’ll know it and can write about it. [Good writers anyway. And you can tell immediately the ones that don’t “know” a subject, character, setting, or culture.] It can get hard in the current discourse to figure out when it’s right to write diversity for story authenticity, and when we are going to be called on the carpet for it. It gets even more confusing when you consider how many books are written in multiple points of view, several of which are immutably different from the author, and how few of the POV match exactly that author’s background. I mean, that’s okay, right? And it can’t be that writers aren’t allowed to write about things which they have not personally experienced (this is fiction, after all), because, if not, HELLO, Star Wars, anyone?

Here’s where I come out on this debate: a writer must write the story of his heart, the best he possibly can. And by he I mean he or she. Or whatever pronoun a character would authentically use 😉 “Best” better include research and hardcore, unflinchingly constructive feedback. Hopefully the result is respectful, non-exploitative authenticity. The writer shouldn’t let anyone censor him without his consent, and he should trust that the readers are pretty dang smart and see through our bullshit. If the book sucks, or it is hateful, or it is damaging, it’s going to die on the vine. Unless it’s Fifty Shades of Grey, and then it’s going to make the author very, very rich, but I digress, and besides, that’s not an issue of potential cultural appropriation (or is it? hmmmm…).

Keep it real, people. Keep it real.

Or, as Ava would say, “One Love!”

Ordinary, extraordinary women: could we solve the mysteries in my series? I like to think so 🙂

 

Wait! Before you read, want to enter the contest? If you can’t see it in your email, be sure to visit the post on my website.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


While I was living on the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Croix—an island that at the time housed the 2nd largest oil refinery in the Western Hemisphere—a local oral surgeon disappeared when he flew his private plane to Puerto Rico. Speculation about his disappearance was rampant. In the same year, a man died from a gunshot wound while in a vehicle on the road that led to my future driveway (I moved into Annaly a year later). Again, speculation was rampant. Both stuck in my mind until I was later able to weave them into a plot on my fictional St. Marcos. (p.s. the oral surgeon’s crashed plane was later found off Vieques; the death of the man in the car was ruled a suicide)

Meanwhile, I was accidentally writing mysteries with an amateur sleuth, because when I started them I hadn’t realized they were mysteries **this is not uncommon for writers in their first few books, even though I know it makes it sound like we’re idiots**, thus obviating the need for a cop/coroner/soldier/investigator/or-somesuch protagonist. I just wrote what I felt was authentic: a woman bombarded by life’s issues, forced to be self sufficient and solve her own problems. I mean, isn’t that how it is for you? That’s what it’s like for me. We live a crazy modern life of conflicting responsibilities and desires, with technology never allowing us to escape them. In retrospect, I positioned my amateur sleuth to have special knowledge of the law, I wrote her as a karate champion, and I gave her a love interest who could teach her about private investigations. Go, me. 😉

I think of fiction as “life re-imagined.” When you day dream, do you re-imagine your life completely, or just try to spice up what you’ve got? Probably some of both. But for me, it’s just little “what ifs,” little twists of fate that speed things up and turn up the tension. Did the guy in the plane run away with a girlfriend? Was the man in the car shot by drug dealers who staged it as a suicide? Things like that. So my protagonists, for better or for worse, are ordinary, extraordinary women forced out of their daily c0mfort zones into roles they are capable of (solving “problems” aka murder mysteries) even thought they never planned for them. But the rest of the story beyond the mysteries is just as important, so problems with their love lives, offspring, parents, day jobs, etc. are just outside center stage, ramping up the pressure and giving depth to the characters. Which makes the mysteries character-driven, just short of women’s fiction.

This topic reminds me of a story about my husband Eric. When he was 40, he took his youngest daughter Liz to audition for some commercials and print ads. She wasn’t cast. He didn’t audition, but they had his contact information from her, and he got a call—much to Liz’s chagrin—and a few weeks later, he was the husband in an ad for a medication for female incontinence. The ad featured a woman with her husband and two children, running on the beach. She was a little older, a little heavier, and a little less attractive than my gorgeous husband, but not much. Just enough that if she was re-imagining her life, her husband would have looked like him, and they would have been on a beach in St. John, with smiles on both of their perfect kids’ faces. Possible, but not probable 😉

And so it is with Bombshell, Stunner, and Knockout. We could live on a tropical island, be sexy, single, and talented, and date incredible men. We don’t want or need to go back to school and become a forensic pathologist (ew, yuck, smelly, gross, long hours, blech), but we can imagine using our wits to a higher purpose JUST AS WE ARE, and starring in the What Doesn’t Kill You mystery series.

And so I write about you, dear readers, ordinary, extraordinary women, capable of great things in a life just slightly reimagined. Close your eyes for a moment. Can’t you just picture yourself there?

Welcome to this four-part installment of the Story Behind the Story of my Ava novels: Bombshell, Stunner, and Knockout. Not long to wait now until the release of Stunner on May 15 and Knockout on June 12.

Catch up on your What Doesn’t Kill You reading before Stunner HERE and Knockout drop HERE!

Read a sneak peek of Stunner HERE and Knockout HERE.

Pre-order Stunner HERE and Knockout HERE.

Read the four Story Behind the Story installments right where you’re at, my blog, over the next few weeks.

  1. What Gives Me the Right? Yep, I’m going there. We’re going to talk about cultural appropriation, and whether little ole white American me has the right to create and deliver a black, native West Indian protagonist.
  2. What’s in a Name: Bombshell, Stunner, Knockout . . . all terms with multiple meanings, one about feminine allure, and one about violence.
  3. I’m Your Venus: Goddess power and Ava’s attachment to “pagan” Roman gods.
  4. She’s Bringing Sexy Back: Great sex, and my humble viewpoint on when and how to include it in a book.

phutchins signature

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Living the Virgin Islands life

Before we dive into this “story behind the story,” I thought you might enjoy a peek into this very recent collaborative piece by my longtime business partner and me. http://www.epspros.com/news-resources/whitepapers/2018/twenty-year-sexual-harassment-retrospective.html

(Pay special attention to Footnote #10 if you want to get a look into what was on my mind seventeen years ago…)


When I sat down to write novels in my thirties, I had no idea what kind of writer I wanted to be or what sort of stories I would tell. I was just the woman who sent overly long emails filled with slice of life stories to my friends and family. I’d gone through fits and starts, flirting with every conceivable genre and incarnation of the written word. No matter how I tried to write “fresh”—unrelated to me—my stories came from what I knew. Being a wife. A mother. A daughter. A lawyer. A stepmom. A fresh water West Indian. A lover of animals. An investigator. A singer of songs. A Texan.

Now I realize this is what all writers do (mine their own life for material). Back then I thought creativity meant I had to write outside my world.

But it wasn’t until I unleashed my fascination with the impact of place and religion on culture, past and present, that my stories gelled, which brought me to the novel that became my first What Doesn’t Kill You romantic mystery, Saving Grace, and led to all that follow, including the Ava novels.

My original drafts of Saving Grace were a fictionalized account of my experiences with my house in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Period. I introduced readers to a jumbie (ghost or spirit, in voodoo and Santeria) named Annalise, but she was just in the protagonist’s (Katie’s) head. We never saw the jumbie. I downplayed her, scared of revealing what she really was to me: real.

I had lived in the U.S. Virgin Islands for nearly ten years. I married a Virgin Islander. My best friend besides him is a Virgin islander. I was immersed in this odd space between Christianity and “legacy” voodoo and Santeria. Between slavery and freed people. Between my life of privilege and minority. Between beauty and violence. Between the four senses and what lays beyond them. The people native to the island—including my husband and best friend—take for granted that jumbies co-exist amongst us. Some are good, some are bad. Most are a little of both. Their jumbie stories are current and frequent, and occurring, according to them, even in my own home.

At the eleventh hour on Saving Grace, I realized that the heart of my writing is that odd space. It’s whatever makes the setting my protagonist lives within unique: religiously, mythologically, culturally, historically, and contemporarily. Annalise the jumbie sprang to life beside Katie, and her story paralleled Katie’s. We saw Annalise, we got to know a little about her, and we wanted more.

And the simple act of making her visible—of accepting that there are things beyond my upbringing and five senses, of validating what is real to the people I’d grown to love in the islands—burst through in my writing from that moment and forever more. Katie’s differences from her world and her new friends in the islands became more important and yet more nebulous. The colors became brighter, the stories bigger. The book became a love letter/poison pen to the Caribbean. The path forward from Saving Grace to the next two Katie What Doesn’t Kill You mysteries (Leaving Annalise #2, Finding Harmony #3) became clear.

And to the odd space for the What Doesn’t Kill You mysteries beyond Katie, too. So if you think you see in my fast-paced romantic mysteries a fascination for cultural and religious history and exploring their extremes without sacrificing pace or tension, you are correct. I don’t do cozy. I don’t do police procedural. I don’t do pure romance or pure women’s or literary fiction. I do “cross genre,” uncontainable, not coloring within the lines of what agents or publishers expect will sell. (My readers around the world proved them wrong).

This is the thing that makes my What Doesn’t Kill You mysteries mine, and I love sharing it with readers.

Welcome to this four-part installment of the Story Behind the Story of my Ava novels: Bombshell, Stunner, and Knockout. Not long to wait now until the release of Stunner on May 15 and Knockout on June 12.

First, though . . .

Catch up on your What Doesn’t Kill You reading before Stunner HERE and Knockout drop HERE!

Read a sneak peek of Stunner HERE and Knockout HERE.

Pre-order Stunner HERE and Knockout HERE.

Read all four Ava Story Behind the Story installments right where you’re at, my blog, coming soon.

  1. What Gives Me the Right? Yep, I’m going there. We’re going to talk about cultural appropriation, and whether little
    ole white American me has the right to create and deliver a black, native West Indian protagonist.
  2. What’s in a Name: Bombshell, Stunner, Knockout . . . all terms with multiple meanings, one about feminine allure, and one about violence.
  3. I’m Your Venus: Goddess power and Ava’s attachment to “pagan” Roman gods.
  4. She’s Bringing Sexy Back: Great sex, and my humble viewpoint on when and how to include it in a book.

phutchins signature

 

Hey, y’all!

So excited to announce I was invited to be part of a November release: 20 mystery/thriller/suspense authors teaming up for a box set of romantic stories with a cause. It’s called Love Under Fire.
50% of the proceeds are going to Pets for Vets, too! Be still my heart.

In the meantime, you can enter for a chance to win books by each of these wonderful novelists, through April 8, here: http://gvwy.io/psr1s9x

Get to know them all! I am–I entered 🙂

I’ve decided to write my first Maggie story for the box set, and I’ve been sourcing ideas with my Facebook support group, Knights of Pamelot, and you can join in the fun, HERE.

— All ideas posted get free audio codes to whichever of my books Bobbye Marrs has in her stash (email her Bobbye at SkipJackPublishing dot com with a permalink to your comment and copy and paste in this sentence so she’ll know what you’re talking about).

— If I use your idea, you’ll be brilliantly written up in the acknowledgements, and I will co-dedicate the book to you—and to Eric. I will never write a novel *not* dedicated to Eric .

So, enter the giveaways, y’all, and get ready for some Fi-YUH this fall!

 

Ok, friends. I have a free Nowheresville weekend, April 13-15. It’s a gorgeous time of year here, very peaceful, wildflowers, baby goats, not too hot. I’m doing a personal writing retreat to jump start a novella called Old Flames—for a romantic mystery/thriller/suspense box set from 20 authors! my first time to write…Maggie!—writing six to eight hours a day, then doing my usual things to recharge (play with animals, ride horses, look for bluebonnets and paintbrushes, walk, get in hot and cool tubs in the swim spa, cook dinner).

Eric and I are opening up space to other writers for the weekend, to retreat with me. We have 4 rooms available. Depending on room type and whether you choose single or double occupancy, it will be between $350 and $500 to attend, Friday noon through Sunday afternoon. 

This will be a no frills, no workshops, no facilitation retreat. Eric will serve us simple meals, and we will have valuable, meaningful writing/publishing conversations during meal and down times. You enjoy our gorgeous place and activities, in a writing environment, with indoor and outdoor writing spaces, and enforced SILENT hours (nobody better mess with me on that ) in the house: four hours on Friday, eight hours on Saturday, and four hours on Sunday.

This is very different from my facilitated retreats where I critique, coach, workshop, and teach. The only one like that I currently have scheduled this year is August 5-11 in Wyoming. (You can learn more about it here: http://pamelafaganhutchins.com/writing-retreats/)

This one in April in Nowheresville is “spontaneous.” and it ain’t on the website. Write to me — pamela at pamelafaganhutchins dot com — if you’re interested.

Pamela

Hey, authors out there!

I’m looking for people who want to do “newsletter swaps.” I have 14,000 subscribers to my newsletter and about 1,000 to my blog. I write romantic mystery. I have a few new releases coming out this summer. Two of my upcoming releases are R rated, one is PG 13.

What I’m looking for:
* books with at least 25 reviews and a 3.8-star rating or higher on Amazon
* that appeal to a core audience of female readers 45-75 suspense, thriller, mystery, women’s fiction; nothing erotic, no horror,

What I’m offering:
A write up under a “recommended reads” section of my monthly newsletter and/or weekly blog with the image of your choice (cover, marketing graphics, whatever), sales link, and any special deal, i.e. subscribe to this author’s newsletter for exclusive content at (link). I may profile more than one book for newsletter.

What I’m asking for:
Something similar in return, and I’m offering up one of the new releases or other novels in the two different trilogies with the upcoming releases.

I can give more info to anyone who is interested. If this sounds good to you let me know, click HERE to submit. I’m hoping for swaps between now through October.

… Because my readers are looking for good book recommendations <3!

Pamela's Latest Blog

  • #RomanticSuspense #LoveUnderFire #99c Pre-Order #books
    by Pamela on June 22, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    Thank you all for helping me with a fantastic launch of Knockout and the #1 Amazon ranking for Bombshell last week during our huge promotions! Grab your copies of my novels while EVERYTHING is still on sale! Which leads us to something important! Our middle daughter was married last weekend in her dream “Disney Princess” wedding [... […]

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EVERYTHING (posts, pictures, etc.) on this website are copyrighted to Pamela Fagan Hutchins, all rights reserved, and may not be copied, used, printed or distributed without my express written permission. You may link to the website and my posts. Questions? Ask me.