Do you like your mysteries with humor, suspense, or romance? Well, no matter your preference, today is your lucky day. I’ve teamed up with nearly 100 authors in Booksweeps giveaways, where YOU can enter for a chance to win e-readers, mysteries with humor, and romantic suspense novels.

To enter the mysteries with humor giveaway, click this image (see one you recognize, front and center?):

 

To enter the romantic suspense giveaway, click this image (see one you recognize?):

Good luck in the contests!

Eric, the dogs, the horses, and I are back in Nowheresville. I’m almost done unpacking so I can start writing Knockout.

Gotta admit . . . I miss our new Snowheresville and Wyoming, but I do love our Nowheresville place!

Boy, you can’t open your computer, read the news, or go out in public without being inundated with bad news. Seriously bad news. Hurricanes, mass murder, earthquakes. Personally, I find it all a little hard to process. The stress of taking on the entirety of the world’s bad news is more than we’re made to handle. How about you?

So in that spirit, I’m sharing good news today, while my heart worries about bad news.

  1. My author beta readers finished Stunner and it is off to my content editor! Pre-order available very soon! Release date January 1, 2018!
  2. Cover artist Heidi Dorey completed the Stunner cover, along with a funny #TeamPetey version.

3. We closed on the purchase of our new Snowheresville and rented out our other cabin pending putting it on the market next summer. (Email recipients will have to go out onto the website to view the video tour. Book your next author/artist/family retreat here!)

 

I’m at the Novelists, Inc. annual conference as I publish this, soaking in career/business information like a sponge.

Friends, Mother Nature has flexed her muscles this summer. South east Texas under water, huge earthquake in Mexico City, Florida bombarded by wind and water. But the disaster that has held me tight in its grip is the double whammy of hurricanes on my beloved Virgin Islands. Even as I sit safely in Wyoming writing Stunner, half the locations in the novel have been destroyed by Irma and Maria. What Doesn’t Kill You . . . the series name . . . in real life.

You won’t see much about St. Croix in the media. The population isn’t big enough. It isn’t a well-funded tourist mecca. But the damage is extreme, and the path forward to recovery for our loved ones is long and hard. We don’t even yet know how Estate Annaly (the real-life Annalise) fared.

When you’re counting your blessings and saying your prayers, could you spare one for our Crucian friends and family? For all those affected everywhere, yes, of course, but if you could add in the under-represented citizens of this beautiful island, it would mean the world to me. If you’re looking for more concrete ways to help, St. Croix son Tim Duncan (of San Antonio Spurs basketball fame) has set up a fundraising campaign which he matched with a million dollars, and you can donate to it HERE.

One love.

I’m back to work on Stunner, y’all, and the first big day on it was H-A-R-D, but I am finding my groove. I jammed to the Ava playlist with my headphones while grinding away on the second draft at the GORGEOUS Johnson County Library. If I can get some help on dialogue with characters from the UK, I’ll finish and turn this in on-time. At least the “extended version” of on-time, since I asked for an extra month.

I got a hug from awesome librarian Cynthia Twing while I was there and was pleased to see several of my novels checked out 🙂

I enjoyed two days of talking to the seniors of Buffalo High School about following their dreams this week. They seemed to like my story about the woman at Killer Nashville who said, “Well, you aren’t afraid to take a fashion risk, are you?” especially because I wore the same wildly colorful outfit. They were a great group!

News: we put Snowheresville on the market because we are in the process of buying Snowheresville the Second with my parents! So if you know someone who’d like to own the sweetest little cabin on the eastern slope of the Bighorns in Wyoming, with 360 degree views, great neighbors, and amazing peace and tranquility, send them HERE. In the meantime, the new Snowheresville is a B&B, so watch for date announcements soon for writer, reader/book club, and artist retreats <3 <3 <3 (And we’ll have room for all our family to visit now. Yay!!)

Doesn’t it look like a great place to write mysteries????

The all-important first new-house selfie!

TRULY a SNOWheresville!

We’re also selling our darling and beloved Bookmobile, since it makes no sense to deprive it of new adventures when we have living quarters in our horse trailer and now own a big B&B. Want it? Check it out, HERE.

p.s. We beat the snow to have one last good time at Hunter Corrals in the Bighorn Mountains!

Louise survived getting stepped on by Katniss, but she’s on the IR list.

Molly and Reno survived Katniss’ insistence on space for her awesomeness. #LeadMareDisease

Buffalo Park. Note George the Belgian Malinois on Reno’s right side. Guess she didn’t want to get stepped on by Katniss, too!

Like mother, like daughter (flanneling).

Leaves changing!

 

DOWNHILL. #bighornmountains #huntercorrals #snowheresville #wyoming #draftcross #katniss

A post shared by Pamela Fagan Hutchins (@pamela_fagan_hutchins) on

#TeamPetey helping make the hot dogs.

Big Feath threw a show and his hoof DISINTEGRATED. We walked him down, then made an emergency farrier visit, and he is now fine.

The Ant Hill in the distance. That Reno is a keeper (Dad’s new horse).

Well, I can’t remember the last time I asked for an extension on any project, but I asked for a month on Stunner. I was cruising along pretty good until Killer Nashville (positive reason) and Hurricane Harvey (negative reason). Once I got off track, I was susceptible to the temptation of not picking it up through the visit of our middle child and her fiancee, and now through spending time with my parents. That will leave me two weeks to get it done before I jet off to the Novelists, Inc. conference in Florida.

Pray for me 🙂 and for Stunner.

Meanwhile, I’ve made lots of good notes, and I’ll get back to it full-time around September 15…maybe in fits and starts before then.

So all I really have to report this week is that we’re having fun, that the smoke from the Montana fires is horrible, and that we have the coolest adult children in the world. Pictures below.

Pics and video from our daughter’s visit with her fiance:

Who wouldn’t want a son-in-law who looks at your daughter like this?

Whoops. Someone forgot to tell me this wasn’t the silly pic.

Gorgeous couple in the gorgeous Crazy Woman Canyon.

A river (Big Goose Creek) runs though it.

Duncan Lake determination.

Miner’s cabin near Coffeen Park.

Ah, the Wilderness!

Small but a beauty.

Like father like daughter.

Feathers was a big hit! (video above–notice how much dust Feathers kicks up!)

Both of them had a lesson Feathers.

Molly also took our “dudes” out, and she did great (so did they!). Honestly, though, isn’t Katniss beautiful in this picture?????

May be my favorite picture of the weekend.

Through the smoky haze you can see our breakfast visitors.

Tiny woman, big horse <3

Sending prayers and love to my family, friends, and neighbors affected by Harvey. He’s a big jerk, and I am so proud of my former home, Houston, and its amazing residents for the courage and spirit of selflessness in helping their fellow humans and animals. My family and our Nowheresville home made it through the storm without suffering traumatic impact. Many others were not so fortunate, and my heart goes out to them. Our company donated to Houston Food Bank, but you can find many worthy causes HERE if you’re looking for a way to help.


Remember how I was a finalist for the Silver Falchion Award for Best Mystery?

I won! Fighting for Anna won! 🙂

The easiest way to share is to copy and paste.

I didn’t prepare remarks, so I bumbled like an idiot when I won. I barely remember it. If you get this via email, you might have to go to the original online post to see the video below.

Here were the amazing finalists in Mystery, all of them good reads, so check them out (and if you saw the list of great books who didn’t make the finals, you’d be stunned, like I was):

 

And it wasn’t over. The next morning, I delivered the conference closing keynote, which was an amazing, wonderful experience. I based the keynote on a comment made to me in the elevator on the first day, when I had on my normal garb of colorful headband and wild prints. A dour woman in all black said to me, apropos of nothing, “Well, you sure aren’t afraid to take a fashion risk, are you?”

I was gobsmacked, but inspired. And her words went on to symbolize getting over the fear of taking a risk, and showing all our colors in our writing and in pursuit of our dreams, and it seemed to resonate with the other writers.

This is the biggest recognition for any of my novels, to date, so between this and worrying about everyone in harm’s way with Hurricane Harvey, including Nowheresville, our donkeys and goats, family in Brenham, College Station, and Houston, I’ve been worthless this week.

Back to reality. Soon.

Yay!

Enjoy some photos from the experience, below.

Wyoming writers and their awesome men. Just after the keynote.

 

Happy me in bookstore with Killer Nashville volunteer Kay Tyler.

 

<3 Loser!

 

Branding panel.

 

Feeling punchy in the bookstore.

 

Book signing

 

Wyoming writer Kierstin Marquet won the crime scene investigation competition!

 

Keynote! It went great, I think.

 

In happy silly shock.

 

In red, with white hair, in the background: that’s the delightful J.A. Jance, who won for Thriller.

 

Floating on air after they called MY NAME 😀

 

Finalists did readings on Friday night. There’s my critique partner Gay and her husband Don. Her novel finaled for Suspense.

 

We knew something was up when they ordered way too many books for the bookstore. Could I have won? 😉 And of course later we learned…yes!

 

Author who informed me he keeps a copy of Loser on his bedside table. <3

 

Critique partners Gay Yellen and I at awards dinner for Silver Falchion finalist. <3

 

With awesome volunteer Kay Tyler.

So if you haven’t read Fighting for Anna, the top reviewers in the nation for mysteries are humbly suggesting it’s worth your time. Why not give it a try?

 

Bad hair, good company, at the end of PK Lane where the Soldier Creek Trail up to Walker Prairie in the Bighorns starts. We found it by getting lost. Now that we know where it is, we’ll hike or ride it horseback.

It’s crunch time.

  1. Prepping the cabin for its first paid visitors, who are coming to view the 96.4% eclipse from our deck.
  2. Finishing Stunner.
  3. Getting my keynote ready for Killer Nashville.

And…helping Eric up after a pretty good tumble from his 17-hand Feathers. Luckily, Eric chose the dismount himself, so he landed on his side instead of his tush or head. Unluckily, it was in our rock driveway, so he has some serious road rash and bruising. I think he learned a lot, though, and within five minutes was back on bareback and understanding that Feathers did exactly what Eric asked him to do (accidentally), which was take off at a canter. So we practiced not squeezing with our feet or kicking, and the rest of the ride went smooth as silk, even if the two-mile walk home from the ranch where we board them was less fun with his boo-boos.


US readers, please vote for my WDKY mystery Fighting for Anna in the Silver Falchion Readers Choice Award, HERE. You can also vote for my former critique partner Gay Yellen and her wonderful suspense novel, The Body Next Door. Easy, no registration required, you can vote once every 24 hours.

Both of our novels were selected by the judges as finalists, but only you can select the Readers Choice. 


We found a small ranch we desperately wanted to buy on the face of the mountains, but it sold out from under us. Then we realized we have no business buying a small ranch in Wyoming, when we spend half our year in Texas, no matter how much I want to start a draft horse rescue/rehab, and no matter that we saw three porcupines on the way to go see it (that’s some kind of good omen, I think, like seeing dolphins). Someday. Phew. Dodged that bullet.

Have a great week, all’a’y’all,

US readers, please vote for my WDKY mystery Fighting for Anna in the Silver Falchion Readers Choice Award, HERE. You can also vote for my former critique partner Gay Yellen and her wonderful suspense novel, The Body Next Door. Easy, no registration required, you can vote once every 24 hours.

Both of our novels were selected by the judges as finalists, but only you can select the Readers Choice. 


We interrupt this regularly scheduled life to finish Stunner on time so I don’t screw things up for my wonderful content editor, who I can’t expect to bow to the vagaries of my riding and camping schedule 😉

I’ve got a 25,000-words-per-week pace to get the rewrite to her on time. That’s a lot. So you’ll hear less from me, but to a good end: Ava #2, baby.

I did take time out once I was well enough this week (ah, giardia, diet, menace, waster-of-days) to get “new hair” for Killer Nashville: a golden blond and ash bayalage. Thanks to Mel Algood of Green Apple Salon in Houston (and a fine novelist) for coaching me on the hair renovations, and to Cierra of Ginger Salon in Sheridan, WY for carrying our Mel’s vision.

{Yes, I’m still wearing headbands most of the time, though!}

I had a wonderful visit with Wyoming Poet Laureate and all-around nice guy Gene Gagliano (above) and his family, and I went to C.J. Box‘s (below) signing in Sheridan and fangirl’ed him.

It was hard to get myself moving (introvert recovering from giardia!) to do this, so I borrowed some inspiration and silliness from my friend Tiffany (bad language alert in video: blame Kesha for the lyrics). Don’t forget, for most of you that receive this post by email, you can only see video by going online.

And I previewed an adorable blue roan Percheron-quarterhorse gelding my father is looking at. Any excuse for a trail ride in the mountains on a Jeff and Christina Tift draft cross horse! (video online)

Off to the salt mines…

p.s.

Enjoy some pictures from my signings at ReRide and Johnson County Fairgrounds in Buffalo, WY last weekend.

Congratulations to

Peggy
Sharon
Melody
Penny
Barb Ellen

on winning Ava’s triskelion “goddess” pendants by Anita Schultz Jewelweed Sprouts. I hope you love them like I love mine. I wear mine when I’m writing the Ava books, so I have it on a lot these days as I rewrite Ava’s 2nd star turn, in Stunner. I hope you wear yours while reading Bombshell. For those of you that didn’t win, you can write to Anita and ask for your own triskelion pendant, and I know she’ll make one for you. anita at jewelweed sprouts dot com.

US readers, please vote for my WDKY mystery Fighting for Anna in the Silver Falchion Readers Choice Award, please, HERE? You can also vote for my former critique partner Gay Yellen and her wonderful suspense novel, The Body Next Door. (Easy, no registration required, you can vote once every 24 hours)

Well, it’s taken six months of hell for my assistant, but my novels are now all available in hardback:

The links are all on the book pages, which you can access here: http://pamelafaganhutchins.com/publications/fiction.

I’ve got a busy August—as much or more than I can handle—of personal and professional obligations. Judging a writing contest, rewriting Stunner, preparing for my role at Killer Nashville (panels and keynote), and the myriad other smaller items on my to-do list. Meanwhile I’ve battled a bout of giardia (must have gotten sloppy on water treatments on the camping trip!) My blog posts may be a little less stunning as a result, but hang in there with me.

I appreciate the heck out of you guys!

p.s. A little more Horse-camping trip awesomeness:

Tell your friends: The Katie & Annalise Box Set is on sale in ebook form across all retailers for only 99 cents! That’s 36-hours+ of reading entertainment on three-full-length mysteries with nearly 4000-reviews and 4.5+-stars on Amazon alone. And a great way to immerse yourself in St. Marcos and get ready to read my newest release, Bombshell, and the adventures of Katie’s island bestie, Ava.

And if you haven’t read them all yourself, snatch up your copy of the box set at this steal of a deal, today!

p.s.

US readers, please vote for my WDKY mystery Fighting for Anna in the Silver Falchion Readers Choice Award, please, HERE? (Easy, no registration required, you can vote once every 24 hours)

Thank you all for helping launch Bombshell to category bestseller rankings on Amazon. Don’t have your copy yet? You can get paperback, hardback, and ebook (all links here: http://pamelafaganhutchins.com/publications/fiction), with audio coming this fall.

Meanwhile, in other awesome news, I just got back from three weeks of vacation in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming where we had NO CONNECTIVITY! I prescheduled all my blogs, and I didn’t even come down for the book launch. It was incredible.

When I returned, I had a couple of cool items in my inbox.

  1. Fighting for Anna has been selected by the judges as a finalist for the Silver Falchion Award in Adult Mystery. Winners will be announced in late August. Woot!

2. I was asked to keynote the Killer Nashville Conference for Crime, Thriller, Mystery and Suspense writers. Cool!

I should go on vacation more often.

Next week I’ll announce pendant winners, and they’ll also be mailed then as well. Good luck!!!

Here’s a few of my favorite pictures from our vacation:

Welcome to this four-part installment of the Story Behind the Story of Bombshell, my ninth What Doesn’t Kill You mystery and the first featuring Ava as the protagonist. Bombshell will be released July 26. You aren’t going to want to miss the blog post, below, where I discuss great sex, and my humble viewpoint on when and how to include it in a book.

First, though . . .

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

Read a sneak peek of Bombshell HERE.

Pre-order Bombshell HERE.

Enter contest, below, through Rafflecopter.

Please vote for my WDKY mystery Fighting for Anna in the Silver Falchion Readers Choice Award, please, HERE? (Easy, no registration required, you can vote once every 24 hours)

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

Giveaway

I need to plug you in to the HUGE giveaway I’m doing for Ava. (Insert drumroll here) If you’ve already entered, skip down to the main post, HERE.

Remember that time when I gave away Michele’s Itzpapalotl butterfly charms for the release of Fighting for Anna and Emily’s fox totem charms for the release of Hell to Pay? It was SO much fun.

Well, I have FIVE of Ava’s little beauties pictured below (charm/small pendant size) by Jewelweed Sprouts to giveaway for the release of Bombshell.

Anita (the designer who makes them) calls these “triskele.” In Celtic tradition, this is called a triskelion. It has been said to represent many things, including:

Spirit, Mind, Body

Past, Present, Future

Power, Intellect, Love

Creation, Preservation, Destruction

It is a symbol of energy in motion, and tells a story of change.

It is the symbol of a living, breathing goddess seeking balance in all things, in my book, and that is Ava. I wear a triskelion pendant myself.

Enter through the Rafflecopter below. Winners will be announced the week after Bombshell is released.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


She’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.

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 series: 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.

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.

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.

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 #Bombshell #WhatDoesntKillYou #9


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. Now, let’s see what YOU think about it, because the release date is upon us. Surprise: TODAY! (Yep, we’re early, and we sure as heck made it before the end of 2017. Woot!!)

Welcome to this four-part installment of the Story Behind the Story of Bombshell, my ninth What Doesn’t Kill You mystery and the first featuring Ava as the protagonist. Bombshell will be released July 26. You aren’t going to want to miss the blog post, below, where I discuss goddess power and Ava’s attachment to “pagan” Roman gods in Bombshell.

First, though . . .

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

Read a sneak peek of Bombshell HERE.

Pre-order Bombshell HERE.

Enter contest, below, through Rafflecopter.

Please vote for my WDKY mystery Fighting for Anna in the Silver Falchion Readers Choice Award, please, HERE? (Easy, no registration required, you can vote once every 24 hours)

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

Giveaway

I need to plug you in to the HUGE giveaway I’m doing for Ava. (Insert drumroll here) If you’ve already entered, skip down to the main post, HERE.

Remember that time when I gave away Michele’s Itzpapalotl butterfly charms for the release of Fighting for Anna and Emily’s fox totem charms for the release of Hell to Pay? It was SO much fun.

Well, I have FIVE of Ava’s little beauties pictured below (charm/small pendant size) by Jewelweed Sprouts to giveaway for the release of Bombshell.

Anita (the designer who makes them) calls these “triskele.” In Celtic tradition, this is called a triskelion. It has been said to represent many things, including:

Spirit, Mind, Body

Past, Present, Future

Power, Intellect, Love

Creation, Preservation, Destruction

It is a symbol of energy in motion, and tells a story of change.

It is the symbol of a living, breathing goddess seeking balance in all things, in my book, and that is Ava. I wear a triskelion pendant myself.

Enter through the Rafflecopter below. Winners will be announced the week after Bombshell is released.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


I’m Your Venus

No spoilers, so I’ll have to be a little cagey, but you’ll discover early on in Bombshell 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.

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.

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.

 

Welcome to this four-part installment of the Story Behind the Story of Bombshell, my ninth What Doesn’t Kill You mystery and the first featuring Ava as the protagonist. Bombshell will be released July 26. You aren’t going to want to miss the blog post, below, where I discuss title and theme: Bombshell, stunner, knockout . . . all terms with multiple meanings, one about feminine allure, and one about violence.

First, though . . .

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

Read a sneak peek of Bombshell HERE.

Pre-order Bombshell HERE.

Enter contest, below, through Rafflecopter.

Please vote for my WDKY mystery Fighting for Anna in the Silver Falchion Readers Choice Award, please, HERE? (Easy, no registration required, you can vote once every 24 hours)

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

Giveaway

I need to plug you in to the HUGE giveaway I’m doing for Ava. (Insert drumroll here) If you’ve already entered, skip down to the main post, HERE.

Remember that time when I gave away Michele’s Itzpapalotl butterfly charms for the release of Fighting for Anna and Emily’s fox totem charms for the release of Hell to Pay? It was SO much fun.

Well, I have FIVE of Ava’s little beauties pictured below (charm/small pendant size) by Jewelweed Sprouts to giveaway for the release of Bombshell.

Anita (the designer who makes them) calls these “triskele.” In Celtic tradition, this is called a triskelion. It has been said to represent many things, including:

Spirit, Mind, Body

Past, Present, Future

Power, Intellect, Love

Creation, Preservation, Destruction

It is a symbol of energy in motion, and tells a story of change.

It is the symbol of a living, breathing goddess seeking balance in all things, in my book, and that is Ava. I wear a triskelion pendant myself.

Enter through the Rafflecopter below. Winners will be announced the week after Bombshell is released.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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.

Welcome to this four-part installment of the Story Behind the Story of Bombshell, my ninth What Doesn’t Kill You mystery and the first featuring Ava as the protagonist. Bombshell will be released July 26. You aren’t going to want to miss the blog post, below, where I discuss my fears about writing, as a white woman, from the POV of a black woman.

First, though . . .

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

Read a sneak peek of Bombshell HERE.

Pre-order Bombshell HERE.

Enter contest, below, through Rafflecopter.

Please vote for my WDKY mystery Fighting for Anna in the Silver Falchion Readers Choice Award, please, HERE? (Easy, no registration required, you can vote once every 24 hours)

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. (Read on!)
  2. What’s in a Name: Bombshell, stunner, knockout . . . all terms with multiple meanings, one about feminine allure, and one about violence.
  3. Please, Not Another Drug Dealer: How and why my story partner and I hit upon the fascinating world of virtual currency and offshore banking in plotting Bombshell.
  4. She’s Bringing Sexy Back: Great sex, and my humble viewpoint on when and how to include it in a book.

Giveaway

I need to plug you in to the HUGE giveaway I’m doing for Ava. (Insert drumroll here) If you’ve already entered, skip down to the main “What Gives Me the Right” post, HERE.

Remember that time when I gave away Michele’s Itzpapalotl butterfly charms for the release of Fighting for Anna and Emily’s fox totem charms for the release of Hell to Pay? It was SO much fun.

Well, I have FIVE of Ava’s little beauties pictured below (charm/small pendant size) by Jewelweed Sprouts to giveaway for the release of Bombshell.

Anita (the designer who makes them) calls these “triskele.” In Celtic tradition, this is called a triskelion. It has been said to represent many things, including:

Spirit, Mind, Body

Past, Present, Future

Power, Intellect, Love

Creation, Preservation, Destruction

It is a symbol of energy in motion, and tells a story of change.

It is the symbol of a living, breathing goddess seeking balance in all things, in my book, and that is Ava. I wear a triskelion pendant myself.

Enter through the Rafflecopter below. Winners will be announced the week after Bombshell is released.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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.

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.

GREAT NEWS: Natalie will be the real voice of Bombshell and thus Ava in the audiobook version!

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!”

In honor of the upcoming release of Bombshell, Ava’s first leading role in one of my novels, I’m going to take us down memory lane, week by week. This week’s stop? The Story Behind the Story of Earth to Emily, where Ava re-emerged in the series, with a vengeance!


Before we reminisce, though, let me plug you in to the HUGE giveaway I’m doing for Ava. (Insert drumroll here) If you’ve already entered, skip down to the main post, HERE.

Remember that time when I gave away Michele’s Itzpapalotl butterfly charms for the release of Fighting for Anna and Emily’s fox totem charms for the release of Hell to Pay? It was SO much fun.

Well, I have FIVE of Ava’s little beauties pictured below (charm/small pendant size) by Jewelweed Sprouts to giveaway for the release of Bombshell.

Anita (the designer who makes them) calls these “triskele.” In Celtic tradition, this is called a triskelion. It has been said to represent many things, including:

Spirit, Mind, Body

Past, Present, Future

Power, Intellect, Love

Creation, Preservation, Destruction

It is a symbol of energy in motion, and tells a story of change.

It is the symbol of a living, breathing goddess seeking balance in all things, in my book, and that is Ava. I wear a triskelion pendant myself.

Enter through the Rafflecopter below. Winners will be announced the week after Bombshell is released.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


The Story Behind the Story of Earth to Emily

Where to start? Earth to Emily was an accident. I had thrown out a few clients that Emily and Jack were working on when drafting Heaven to Betsy, the first Emily romantic mystery. I picked up the story of good-guy-in-a-bad situation and imagined it back to its inception, which required it to crossover the other storylines, in this case, Jack, the love interest, and Emily’s family life. As I sit here typing, it defies my own imagination where my husband and story partner Eric and I came up with it. 😀 Just kidding, sort of.

In the second book featuring Emily, I wanted to figure out what happened to her father. From there it wasn’t a stretch that I wanted his path to intersect with Jack’s and create a rift between Jack and Emily. I needed a murder to start the book—it’s a mystery after all—and it had to relate to the father storyline and the good-guy-in-a-bad-situation client plight.Pretty soon we realized that meant we would be crossing state lines with “goods” in commerce, thus we’d need to involve trucking or railroads, and trucking fit best. We needed to incorporate Betsy, Jack’s family, Judith, Emily’s mom, Wallace, Nadine, Mickey, Laura, Jarhead, Melinda, and Clyde. We had baggage to resolve with Collin and Tamara. I wanted to set up future Ava novels with an appearance by her.  I wanted to test Emily’s heart for children, to see how far she’d go to help kids in need, even at risk to her relationships with Jack, Wallace, and Betsy. I had to figure out the magical realism (or what I think of as practical or everyday magic) element. And we needed a big ending with Emily using her brains, brawn, and special skills to save the day.

As usual, I was having trouble putting the elements all together at first. It’s always such a big wish list, and in the beginning feels insurmountable. It’s funny, though. When I think back on writing Earth to Emily, I don’t remember fretting about the plot or Emily’s personal journey. The one thing that resonates with me, that brings a smile to my face, is the Native American “magical realism” element. That was the piece that, when I figured it out, pulled the book together.

But it wasn’t easy. The Mountain Spirit Dancers in Heaven to Betsy were a no brainer. I loved them, and I loved how the Mescalero Apache used them to teach each generation with humor—and not a little fear—about those things that could harm them. By using them in the first Emily book, I felt like I had exhausted the very best of the Mescalero Apache mythology, though, and panicked on where to go from there.

I dug deeper, which is hard when you’re looking into a culture without a written history, except as recorded by people outside the culture. I mean, think about it. The whole point of Mountain Spirit Dancers is to teach in lieu of a written history. The dancers existed to pass on the learnings of history to the young. So my entire research was based on the interpretation of non-Apaches, which gives me the oogies. But it was all I had.

Imagine that, in our world of instant gratification, of knowledge via the Internet at our fingertips. We’ve become so far removed from passing our history down verbally. By song. By dancers. By poems. By stories. They didn’t have the What Doesn’t Kill You romantic mystery seriesfor goodness sakes!!

But I digress.

I dug deeper, and I found the Mescalero Apaches’ incarnation of foreboding and evil. Not the devil, more like a Grim Reaper, if you will. For them, the Owl, sometimes called the Owl Man, embodied these things. The Mountain Spirit Dancers taught the children that the Owl Man would sometime eat children. And when I read  about this, it was like a bomb went off in my head.

From there, the story unfolded neatly with the Owl/Owl Man as the glue that symbolically held it all together.

I am interested: how many of you caught the Owl “drops” throughout the novel, and if you did, what did they mean to you? Do you find the “magical realism” in books like Earth to Emily a plus, a negative, or neutral?

By the way, I’ve always loved owls. We have little ones in the trees behind our Nowheresville house most evenings, and there’s a huge barn owl that lurks overhead all day in the loft window of my friend Lisa’s barn in Snowheresville. Owls rock. But after writing E2E, they spook me a little more than they used to.


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

Read a sneak peek of Bombshell HERE.

Pre-order Bombshell HERE.

Enter contest, above through Rafflecopter.

Before you go, please vote for my WDKY mystery Fighting for Anna in the Silver Falchion Readers Choice Award, please, HERE? (Easy, no registration required, you can vote once every 24 hours)

And have a great week!

phutchins signature

 

In honor of the upcoming release of Bombshell, Ava’s first leading role in one of my 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 ;-).


Before we reminisce, though, let me plug you in to the HUGE giveaway I’m doing for Ava. (Insert drumroll here) If you’ve already entered, skip down to the main post, HERE.

Remember that time when I gave away Michele’s Itzpapalotl butterfly charms for the release of Fighting for Anna and Emily’s fox totem charms for the release of Hell to Pay? It was SO much fun.

Well, I have FIVE of Ava’s little beauties pictured below (charm/small pendant size) by Jewelweed Sprouts to giveaway for the release of Bombshell.

Anita (the designer who makes them) calls these “triskele.” In Celtic tradition, this is called a triskelion. It has been said to represent many things, including:

Spirit, Mind, Body

Past, Present, Future

Power, Intellect, Love

Creation, Preservation, Destruction

It is a symbol of energy in motion, and tells a story of change.

It is the symbol of a living, breathing goddess seeking balance in all things, in my book, and that is Ava. I wear a triskelion pendant myself.

Enter through the Rafflecopter below. Winners will be announced the week after Bombshell is released.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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 before Bombshell drops, HERE!

Read a sneak peek of Bombshell HERE.

Pre-order Bombshell HERE.

Enter contest, above through Rafflecopter.

Before you go, please vote for my WDKY mystery Fighting for Anna in the Silver Falchion Readers Choice Award, please, HERE? (Easy, no registration required, you can vote once every 24 hours)

And have a great week!

In honor of the upcoming release of Bombshell, Ava’s first leading role in one of my 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 reminisce, though, let me plug you in to the HUGE giveaway I’m doing for Ava. (Insert drumroll here) If you’ve already entered, skip down to the main post, HERE.

Remember that time when I gave away Michele’s Itzpapalotl butterfly charms for the release of Fighting for Anna and Emily’s fox totem charms for the release of Hell to Pay? It was SO much fun.

Well, I have FIVE of Ava’s little beauties pictured below (charm/small pendant size) by Jewelweed Sprouts to giveaway for the release of Bombshell.

Anita (the designer who makes them) calls these “triskele.” In Celtic tradition, this is called a triskelion. It has been said to represent many things, including:

Spirit, Mind, Body

Past, Present, Future

Power, Intellect, Love

Creation, Preservation, Destruction

It is a symbol of energy in motion, and tells a story of change.

It is the symbol of a living, breathing goddess seeking balance in all things, in my book, and that is Ava. I wear a triskelion pendant myself.

Enter through the Rafflecopter below. Winners will be announced the week after Bombshell is released.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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 before Bombshell drops, HERE!

Read a sneak peek of Bombshell HERE.

Pre-order Bombshell HERE.

Enter contest, above through Rafflecopter.

Before you go, please vote for my WDKY mystery Fighting for Anna in the Silver Falchion Readers Choice Award, please, HERE? (Easy, no registration required, you can vote once every 24 hours)

And have a great week!

In honor of the upcoming release of Bombshell, Ava’s first leading role in one of my 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 reminisce, though, let me plug you in to the HUGE giveaway I’m doing for Ava. (Insert drumroll here) If you’ve already entered, skip down to the main post, HERE.

Remember that time when I gave away Michele’s Itzpapalotl butterfly charms for the release of Fighting for Anna and Emily’s fox totem charms for the release of Hell to Pay? It was SO much fun.

Well, I have FIVE of Ava’s little beauties pictured below (charm/small pendant size) by Jewelweed Sprouts to giveaway for the release of Bombshell.

Anita (the designer who makes them) calls these “triskele.” In Celtic tradition, this is called a triskelion. It has been said to represent many things, including:

Spirit, Mind, Body

Past, Present, Future

Power, Intellect, Love

Creation, Preservation, Destruction

It is a symbol of energy in motion, and tells a story of change.

It is the symbol of a living, breathing goddess seeking balance in all things, in my book, and that is Ava. I wear a triskelion pendant myself.

Enter through the Rafflecopter below. Winners will be announced the week after Bombshell is released.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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 before Bombshell drops, HERE!

Read a sneak peek of Bombshell HERE.

Pre-order Bombshell HERE.

Enter contest, above through Rafflecopter.

Before you go, please vote for my WDKY mystery Fighting for Anna in the Silver Falchion Readers Choice Award, please, HERE? (Easy, no registration required, you can vote once every 24 hours)

And have a great week!

In honor of the upcoming release of Bombshell, Ava’s first leading role in one of my novels, 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.


Before we reminisce, though, let me plug you in to the HUGE giveaway I’m doing for Ava. (Insert drumroll here) If you’ve already entered, skip down to the main post, HERE.

Remember that time when I gave away Michele’s Itzpapalotl butterfly charms for the release of Fighting for Anna and Emily’s fox totem charms for the release of Hell to Pay? It was SO much fun.

Well, I have FIVE of Ava’s little beauties pictured below (charm/small pendant size) by Jewelweed Sprouts to giveaway for the release of Bombshell.

Anita (the designer who makes them) calls these “triskele.” In Celtic tradition, this is called a triskelion. It has been said to represent many things, including:

Spirit, Mind, Body

Past, Present, Future

Power, Intellect, Love

Creation, Preservation, Destruction

It is a symbol of energy in motion, and tells a story of change.

It is the symbol of a living, breathing goddess seeking balance in all things, in my book, and that is Ava. I wear a triskelion pendant myself.

Enter through the Rafflecopter below. Winners will be announced the week after Bombshell is released.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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 before Bombshell drops, HERE!).

Read a sneak peek of Bombshell HERE.

Pre-order Bombshell HERE.

Enter contest, above through Rafflecopter.

Before you go, please vote for my WDKY mystery Fighting for Anna in the Silver Falchion Readers Choice Award, please, HERE? (Easy, no registration required, you can vote once every 24 hours)

And have a great week!

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