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!

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 the prequel to the What Doesn’t Kill You series, and the first age at which we meet the delectable Ms. Ava.


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 Act One

If you’ve followed me very long, you’ve probably realized I’m pretty Type A. I’ve been accused of being intense, over-structured, and the Energizer Bunny, notwithstanding these last six months of getting less done, which you can read about HERE if you must 😉

I am a huge believer in outlining, character studies, writing-from-once-upon-a-time-until-the-end, and one-pass revision. So one day when I was out walking the dogs and had my digital recorder in hand, I pressed record and starting talking. But not just any talk. I talked my way through a twenty thousand-word novella, a prequel to the What Doesn’t Kill You series. Without any outlines. Without any character studies. Without any planning at all. I had no idea what I was going to say or what I would be saying it about.

And it felt freeing. It felt right, for right then.

It was my second foray into digitally recording my drafts, so I was better at that part at least. Still, as I talked my way through it, I ran into obstacles. I hadn’t written Ava, Laura, or Maggie points of view yet. I waffled back and forth between first and third person, past and present tense, simplicity and complexity, accent and diction, as I experimented on the fly with my women. I struggled as I wrote a mystery without knowing who the bad guy would be, and what red herrings and clues to drop.

When I got the first draft back in written form, it was a hot mess. I could totally see why outlining first was my usual methodology!! And guess what I ended up having to do? Write character studies on the new women, who I thought I knew well from their supporting roles in earlier novels, but of course, it turned out, that wasn’t nearly enough to put them in the drivers’ seats. Possibly because it was only 20% as long as my novels, I found revising the plot line easier than I’d expected. I had fun re-immersing myself in characters whose minds I hadn’t dived into for awhile.

And I discovered a big surprise: my beta readers loved Laura and Maggie! They already knew they enjoyed the other protagonists (Katie, Emily, Michele, and Ava), because they’d gotten to know them very well. Their notes and comments about the new women were immensely gratifying.

The story behind the story of Act One, thus, is that this old dog is learning a couple of new tricks, turning over new leaves. And to keep it with cliches, I put the cart before the horse, and what didn’t kill me made me stronger 😉 Also, I found out I could write something shorter than a novel and pull off a complete mystery.

It was liberating . . . and I can’t wait to get back to OUTLINING Bombshell, right after I finish my CHARACTER STUDIES!!!!


And now Bombshell is complete 😉

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.

And have a great week!

 

Today, I have a fun surprise that I’d like to share with you.

I’ve teamed up with more than 30 fantastic mysteries with humor authors to give away a huge collection of novels to 2 lucky winners, PLUS a Kindle Fire to the Grand Prize winner!

You can win my novel Saving Grace, plus books from authors like Angie Fox, Patricia McLinn, Deborah Coonts, Nina Cordoba, Kim Hunt Harris, Ken Oder, and Marcy McKay.

Enter the giveaway by clicking here: bit.ly/mys-humor-may17

Good luck, and enjoy!

 


Pre-order your e-book copy of Bombshell (What Doesn’t Kill You, #9): An Ava Romantic Mystery, now! It will arrive in your inbox by July 26th.


Sassy, sexy new heroine for the What Doesn’t Kill You series, USA Best Book Award-Winner, Cross Genre Fiction.

If you like your mysteries exotic and fast-paced, then Ava’s your girl, and Bombshell’s the novel for you!

Temp worker by day, lounge singer by night, single mom Ava is having a hard time breaking up with her long-distance boyfriend and making it without the support of her parents on the island of St. Marcos. Things improve dramatically when she lands a too-good-to-be-true job at a virtual currency exchange, where she meets a seriously sexy man, and goes to work for a boss so incredible he sponsors her on a trip to New York to record a demo. But when Ava stumbles across the raped and murdered body of a young woman, she recognizes her from a shared trauma back in their school days. Ava is devastated and throws herself into avenging the girl’s death. From that moment on, it’s one bombshell after another, going off closer and closer to Ava and the people she cares about most.

>>> See why Pamela’s novels have won contest after contest.

  • 2016 WINNER USA Best Book Award, Cross Genre Fiction
  • 2015 WINNER USA Best Book Award, Cross Genre Fiction
  • 2014 USA Best Book Award Finalist, Cross Genre Fiction
  • 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-finalist, Romance
  • 2013 USA Best Book Award Finalist, Business: Publishing
  • 2012 WINNER of the Houston Writers Guild Ghost Story Contest
  • 2012 WINNER USA Best Book Award, Parenting: Divorce
  • 2011 WINNER of the Houston Writers Guild Novel Contest, Mainstream
  • 2010 WINNER of the Writers League of Texas Manuscript Contest, Romance

>>> Once Upon A Romance calls Hutchins an “”up-and-coming powerhouse writer.””

>>> The series reviews are in, and they’re good. Very, very good.

“Immediately hooked.”” — Terry Sykes-Bradshaw, Author of Sibling Revelry

“”Spellbinding.”” — Jo Bryan, Dry Creek Book Club

“”Fast-paced mystery.”” — Deb Krenzer, Book Reviewer

“”Can’t put it down.”” — Cathy Bader, Reader

“”LOVED IT!”” — Marcy McKay, Author of Pennies From Burger Heaven

>>> Check out the entire What Doesn’t Kill You romantic mystery series.

Read about the process of writing Ava’s Bombshell, HERE. To read character interviews with Ava, click HERE, HERE, and HERE. Watch for a Bombshell Story Behind the Story Series coming this summer, as well as a giveaway of “Ava’s Pendant,” the triskele from Jewelweed Sprouts.

Squee 🙂

p.s. Going ons of late:

Late April snow in Snowheresville.

Awesome gift from a reader who is, well, AWESOME.

The 20th birthday of my lookalike youngest.

My neighbor’s horse Chelsea, who I am training.

AUTHOR RL NOLEN shows up for a Nowheresville play day.

BOX SET EMILY

Setting/towns/geographies move me. I fall in love with the slope of a hill, the rustle of leaves, the way sunlight changes colors on the face of a rock cliff. I am fascinated with the how and why a place takes on a certain personality, how culture develops. Less populated areas intrigue me, where people are forced to be more self reliant, and where everyone knows everybody else’s business.

The Katie & Annalise books came about because of my nearly ten years in the Caribbean. The Emily books exist because of my coming of age in the Texas Panhandle (Amarillo) and lifelong affection for New Mexico.

But not many people read a book with the setting as the main character; sure, a supporting role is good, but that’s all. So when I started planning a three-novel addition to the What Doesn’t Kill You romantic mystery seriesover a romantic dinner at Cafe Amelie in New Orleans on a moist September night in 2013, with my partner-in-love/crime/storyboarding, my husband Eric—it wasn’t just the Texas Panhandle and New Mexico that came to mind. It was Katie’s former paralegal and BFF, Emily Phelps Bernal, too. I had in my mind a three-novel arc with titles Heaven to Betsy, Earth to Emily, and Hell to Pay. I wanted each title to work thematically with a female character.

Actually, that conversation was a follow-up to a longer one on the road a month before with one of my BFFs, Amarillo native Stephanie. She joined me for a few days on the 60-cities-in-60-days book tour. I was fascinated with her job helping kids and their families in the Child Protective Services system. I grilled her mercilessly about the possibilities for abuse in the system. We talked about mutual friends Betsy and Walt, a hilarious Amarillo couple who were an endless source of comic relief, and what I could pull from them. Stephanie poured her heart out, and I hung on her every word.

On a day of hiking in Pedernales Falls in February 2014, Eric and I batted around more ideas, some of them good, some not so much. We focused in on plots involving New Mexico, with motives and criminals that would be as different as we could dream up from the Katie books and, at that time, the soon-to-be-released first Michele novel, Going for Kona (which I’ll post about after I blog about the Emily books’ stories). Over the next six months, Eric and I continued to discuss Emily and the Panhandle/NM, and it rattled around in my brain. Every time I talked to Betsy or Walt, I incorporated humorous elements into scenes. Stephanie continued to inspire me with her heart for children.

Nearly a year after my first conversations with Stephanie, Eric and I were on our America the beautiful Redneck-Writer-Roadtrip, and the subject of the Emily books came up again. I took notes while Eric drove. We finished the trip with ideas for each novel. I burned up the internet looking for silver, turquoise, uranium, and other natural resources in NM. When I found areas with a history of minerals, metals, or gems, I researched the industry around it. I studied the topography on Google Earth and considered the towns: the people, the business/restaurants, the schools, the crime. I wanted to explore Native American religion and beliefs in the Emily novels, so I considered their history in each area. I traced routes on Google Maps. I measured distances. How long to fly in a small plane from X to Y? How long to drive from Y to Mexico?

I kept scribbling notes. A humiliating and painful end to Emily’s previous marriage sending her back to her hometown. An absent father. A troubled relationship with a conservative mother who had a checkered past. An Apache attorney/rancher with a wry sense of humor and dark secrets, as her employer and love interest. I’d settled on a small New Mexico town near the Mescalero Apache reservation as the New Mexico setting, triple decker sandwiched between glorious mountain ranges, with a number of horse ranches in the area. It was close to Los Alamos and the border to Mexico. The list grew. The re-entrance of Collin into Emily’s life. Horses. Beautiful, wonderful, heroic horses. I dreamed of bringing in my other protagonists for supporting roles. Of including anecdotes from my life growing up in Amarillo. (Another writer asked how I could come up with details such as a boat-like Toronado that could only turn left, which ended up driven through the front window of a Toot ‘n Totum convenience store. I don’t come up with them. I just observe them and include them. Thanks to my friend Robin for living that one. Great fodder, Robin.) A colorful cast of characters around Emily. I ran across pictures of houses and rugs and furniture and ranches and scenery to include. I bought books on Mescalero Apaches and the Panhandle Hopis and studied them, expanding my knowledge through internet resources until I’d identified elements I could use in the novels.

And I had come to know Emily. Big-haired, rodeoing, crown-wearing Emily. Wounded Emily, reckless and lacking in self esteem. A product of her own reckless, self-reliant rodeo cowboy father, the man who disappeared and left her doubting whether she could be loved. Her wonderful backstory (I always wish I could include more when I draft a novel, but it slows it down too much. I would love to write about her college days.) and the way her heart for children took her by surprise, almost too late.

Coming down to the wire, I got scared. I didn’t want to offend people I care about with my portrayal of the town that shaped me. I have a love/hate relationship with the past and the people and the place. I didn’t know if I could go home again, figuratively or literally. In fact, it had taken me twenty-five years to do just that. You can read me vomiting up my heart on that issue here, LOL.

Now, I’m not going to give away any of the stories here. I’ll just say the main characters were inspired by real people (sometimes more than one person went into the making of one character), and the plots ultimately were a mix of current and historical events and pure “piglets of my imagination,” as we say in our family. Over the next three weeks, I’ll share the story behind each of these Emily novels that are so near and dear to my heart.

Emily went home again, to Amarillo. And so did I.

And it was incredible.

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p.s. I’m behind on sharing Snoweresville snaps. Enjoy.

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With our youngest Susanne and her beau.

eric walking on water park reservoir

I don’t just think he walks on water.

sami and me per usual little goose creek

Some things never change.

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My crew at Park Reservoir.

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Photographer and fisher.

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Bull moose at Twin Lakes. This was a 6-moose trip over 36 hours.

Twin Lakes Overflow Pamela and Eric

Twin Lakes Overflow

Perfect Selfie Take 753

The 1 hour quest for the perfect selfie. Take #372.

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Yakking and hiking and eating wild raspberries. I love these two.

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Picked up this beauty on a quick trip to Nowheresville, from Candilynn Fite, a local artist of extraordinary talent.

Rhonda and Bill

Friend and double-co-worker Rhonda surprised Eric and me with these. Ohemgee!!

 

Recently I received this e-mail:

I enjoyed the books I read in this series (5,6,7) but was somewhat perplexed by some of the characters in the book, Emily’s character in particular.  I was struggling with the concept of church going, prayers to God for direction, protection, etc. while still having a sexual relationship out of wedlock.  I am a Christian…believe God sent his Son Jesus to die on the cross for my sin as well as the sin of others, that Jesus was without sin and died in my place, was raised from the grave, and sits on the right hand of the Father so even though it wasn’t stated for fact in the books I read that Emily was a believer, the book suggested a relationship with God.  Believers do sin and have to ask for forgiveness but certainly should not be ‘living in sin.”  So as I said I was perplexed with the story line that had no problem with sex outside of marriage.
Thought I should at least share my concern.
Sincerely,
Your Reader

I responded, after much thought and  chatting with my assistant, Bobbye, who keeps herself busy (more than)  as mom-to-four, romantic mystery author, and pastor’s wife, amongst about a bazillion other things. Here was my reply:

Dear Reader:

Great to hear from you, and I think you’ve nailed one of the themes of the book. Can an imperfect person believe and still sin? I think the answer is yes, that is a normal condition with a multitude of sins, not just “living in sin”. 😉 I didn’t try to write Emily perfectly, just authentically, which means having flaws consistent with her upbringing and experiences. If I wrote Christian fiction, I would have left Emily in a different place in her personal development, but I don’t, so I left it to the imagination of each reader to figure out where her growth will take her next.

Thanks for writing!
Pamela

After our talk, Bobbye asked if she could guest post on this topic, and I loved the idea, so, I want to share her interpretation on this question, from a bigger perspective than just my novels, to include all the novels from SkipJack Publishing, my publisher. She rocked it, so here you go!


By Bobbye Marrs, romantic mystery author and publishing assistant at SkipJack Publishing

SkipJack Publishing is a small, indie-focused publishing company.  We may be small, but we have huge expectations. Our authors are professionals with award-winning masterpieces. The types of books we publish are “novels for adults that are not inconsistent with a life of faith—whatever that faith may be, and however questioning.”  Wow—that’s a mouthful. Recently a reader showed concern for one of our main characters who appears to be a Christian, but displays behavior not traditionally Christian. This incongruity of choosing a lifestyle that some would consider sinful, but also praying and appearing to have a relationship with God, was cause for confusion.

So where does this “faith—whatever that faith may be” come in to the writing process for our SkipJack authors? If you were hoping that because I’m a pastor’s wife that I’m the in-house expert theologian, you are in for disappointment. But I hope I can give some insight as a reader into the characters of the What Doesn’t Kill You series, and those from Whippoorwill Hollow as well as  the characters from Pennies from Burger Heaven that sleep beneath the Warrior Angel statue.

It really boils down to one thing: Authenticity.  When you read the pages of these books you’ll find people struggling with addiction, dealing with broken relationships, behaving in ways that might not be considered polite. And that’s authentic. To take those things out would be to write a sci-fi novel about a utopian society (which sounds interesting, but not what we publish). Or to include them and resolve them consistent with the highest aspirations of the Christian faith would be Christian fiction (and that’s not what we publish either).

If I were to meet some of these characters in real life—Katie with her “sloppy drinking habits,” or Emily who lives with “smoldering and mysterious” Jack, or Michele who has a hard time controlling her language, or Copper who’s seen more than any kid should, or Wallace and Ethan, the homosexual couple from the Emily and Michele books—what would my reaction be?  How would I treat them?  I hope I’d be a nice person. I sincerely pray I wouldn’t be a jerk. I’d like to think I’d be my authentic self, too—BTW, that’s someone with “a past,” someone with flaws, and someone always in need of an extra measure of grace.

I’ve thought about Emily’s specific situation, which Pamela’s reader referred to as “living in sin.” Let’s be super clear here and identify the actual issue here is sex outside of marriage. Wow, that’s can of worms if I ever saw one, but it is an issue at the foundation of the Christian faith. In the course of my adult life I’ve had many friends and loved ones in Emily’s situation; specifically, people who were Christians but lived a life not necessarily consistent with the values they professed. What have I done? I’ve smiled. I’ve hugged. I’ve welcomed people into my home. I’ve hoped that I’ve been a blessing to those around me. Maybe that’s just part of getting the plank out of my own eye before I worry about the splinter in someone else’s. I try to be totally authentic in real life, and I want that in the characters I read about, too.  As a reader I love to get to “peek behind the curtain” and see the emotional turmoil in a character’s life.  It’s rewarding to travel with them along their character arc.

We write fiction here at SkipJack, but that doesn’t necessarily mean fake. SkipJack books are not faith-based books, but our writers understand that within the human heart is a place made for faith. And just like in real life, that faith takes on a lot of different forms. For many of our characters their religious upbringing or their experience in church or their search for life’s meaning is what makes them deeper than just the page they’re written on.

So if you see characters whose actions don’t always match up to what they may profess to believe, take a look around the real world, or even in your own mirror. I’ll bet you’ll see some real people just like that.

Bobbye

Bobbye Marrs is a supermom extraordinaire with currently 5 jobs, 4 teenagers, 2 dogs, and a husband crazy enough to be a pastor.  When she’s not working or Bobbyelearning some new hobby like the HAM radio, she is trying to be a romantic mystery writer. Look for her book, I Am My Beloved’s to debut this spring.  In the meantime, she started a t-shirt business to support her writing habit at www.greetingsfrommarrs.com.

Small towns rock.

One week ago today my peace was briefly rattled when I learned a creeper’s been stalking me. I’d felt “vulnerable” and “watched” for a few months and ignored evidence, my gut, and our animals.

(Subscribers, I’ve embedded several videos, and I don’t think you’ll be able to view them unless you go out to the web for this post. One is a tour of the stalker issue, another is an exploration of emotional impact, and one is of donkey noses {donkey noses!!!}).

Now I have neighbors texting to check on me when they see the deputy cruising our dirt road checking on me who is in turn texting our handyman to check on me, then stopping to check in with me personally and remarking to us how good for me it is that he hears all the shots firing as those same neighbors target practice with the loudest guns they own. I have a husband who spent his week investigating, installing cameras, setting up security, giving me back my peace and *sleep*, and who I know would do anything to protect me, physically and emotionally. He even emptied my gun and did dry run practice where I had to unholster, whirl/draw, and shoot repeatedly as he rushed me from close range. Neither of us enjoyed it, but it helped.

With my trusty Judge on my hip and my big horse to let me know if something’s out there.

Lots of checking, lots of encouragement, prayers, and advice, lots of good folks ready to discourage people traipsing over their properties to come see me. I’ve had ups and downs, but knowledge is power and leads to action and resolve, and strangely I feel safer today than I did before this creeper made the mistake of opening our door and coming in our house.

Thanks, Nowheresville, peeps.

Meanwhile this week, I turned Bombshell into my content editor, I am back on track, and Nowheresville life is good. But I still prefer drama in novels over in my real life.

Love y’all.

p.s. recent funnies:

Rat snake running from dogs. Yuck!

Thanks to Linda and David Z of the Burton Bulletin for this hometown Nowheresville interview:


Now, on to the story behind the story . . .

Despite over a year of conversations about the plot and characters in the Emily books, it was on the eve of drafting Heaven to Betsy that game-changing inspiration struck. I discovered a terrorist group operating in West Texas, my childhood stomping grounds. As a potential plot river, it was timely (in light of terrorism in the name of religious beliefs occurring around the U.S.: Boston, Chattanooga, and others). But it is different from those. This is a domestic terrorist group of U.S. citizens which bases its judgments and actions on Christian beliefs, not Muslim ones. Think Westboro Baptist Church. I’m not going to name the group, because its name doesn’t matter. All terrorism is terrorism. All these groups are, to me, using religious interpretations to make judgments upon which they base actions.

Now, I’m no religious scholar, but I am quite familiar with Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged, and I was taught that Judgment was the job of a higher power. I admire evangelists who seek to convert through education and legal, nonviolent, nondestructive persuasion to make the world a better place and save souls, even in situations where I may not share their beliefs.

I despise terrorist acts.

I despise them even more when they’re happening in the community where I grew up, in the name of the religion practiced by myself and so many wonderful people there who are living positive lives of positive acts and positive intentions. I do not appreciate a terrorist group using my faith as the justification for their bad acts.

(I know Muslims who feel this way, and I feel sure most people would feel this way about any affiliation of theirs where a splinter group misuses their name and beliefs.)

So, as a result of me discovering this group, the Mighty is His Word of Emily’s world was born, an Army for God, willing to do things that the God I know doesn’t sanction.

Honestly, it felt goooooood to write about them.  To let the story find its way to me, to feel the tentacles of all the story lines weaving themselves around this cult, to untangle them carefully at the climax and slip Emily, Jack, and Betsy from their grasp. To give them an ending I felt was just for the fictional version. I loved writing about the compound, the Hodges, and Emily’s indoctrination. [My real favorite in this book, though, was Phil’s mother. Writing that scene was a highlight for me.]

As usual, I won’t spoil the plot for you, but I will add that since I centered this novel more in West Texas and less in New Mexico, I honed in on the Hopi Native Americans for the story’s “magical realism” and sought Emily’s maturation through her reliance on her spirit animal.

I also began to explore something deeply fascinating to me, that I see as a future for the Laura books: equine therapy (equitherapy or hippotherapy) for children.

It occurs to me that in writing about this cult I am, in a way, judging their judging. I’ll have to ponder on how I feel about that for awhile 😉

Before I go, I want to offer each of you a chance at free codes for the just released audiobook box set of The Katie & Annalise Romantic Mysteries from my What Doesn’t Kill You Series (Books 1-3).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Email subscribers may have to visit the post on my website to participate)

My best,

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p.s. We had a great time in Alaska at the Alaska Writers Guild annual conference. I taught a workshop, a breakout session, and participated on the Q&A Panel, and Eric led a critique circle. We met awesome writers, and we were enchanted with Anchorage.

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Paneling with an agent, an Alaskan indie author, and a NYT bestseller-turned-Thomas & Mercer (Amazon) author. Fun!

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Dinner at the lovely home of author Jim Misko and his wife Patty with a view of the Chugach mountains.

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My sweet husband, who had flowers sent ahead to our hotel room.

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Celebrating a fun, successful trip (and a win by the Texas Aggies over Arkansas) with fried halibut at F Street Station.

First, check out this interview with David Alan Binder that posted this week. He had me when he wrote to me and said he’d interviewed Craig Johnson (author of the Longmire books, who lives near our Snowheresville abode). I think it turned out pretty well, what do you think? https://sites.google.com/site/dalanbinder/blog/pamelafaganhutchinsinterviewwithdavidalanbinder


Now, the “content” for today:

I love getting email from readers. Here’s one I got last week.

Yes, I have most of your books. What fun… now about that casserole…happen to have that recipe? Could you please share?


The thing is, I get that one a lot. I mention that stupid casserole in Going for Kona and in Hot Flashes and Half Ironmans. So here’s my answer to her:
Dear awesome reader:
Ah, the decadent tater tot casserole. Every time I give out this recipe I “make it up.” Someday I’ll be smart and put it in a cute file and send it. Or on my website. Hey, I should copy and paste this into a file. Wow, it’s Monday 😉
I use a deep pyrex dish with a liberal dousing of non-stick spray and pre-heat to 350. You could use a shallow dish. It matters not.
Brown 1/2 pound hamburger meat, and add spices of choice. When I’m doing this for grownups, that means I first brown onions and garlic, then decide if I’m feeling New Mexico green chile-ish (small can, pre-chopped) or Mexcian-cumin-ish (2 T) or just Southern-salt-and-pepper to taste-ish (see why there’s no recipe????). Drain.
Put a generous layer of frozen tater tots in your dish. Layer meat. Pour a can of cream of chicken soup over the meat. Cut back to 1/2 if you’re not into the Southern rich-and-creamy thing. Use cream of mushroom if you’re feeling savory. The goal is that the soup and juices from meat seep down into the tater tots as they cook, don’t worry, you don’t end up with a nasty canned soup layer. However, if this wigs you out, stir it up in the meat before you add it. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for half an hour. Remove foil, add grated cheese. I use 2 cups. I like a blend of cheddar and colby jack. You do what rocks your socks. Put back in oven until the cheese melts and is bubbly or browned, your choice. I put it in for 10 minutes personally, or whenever the smoke alarm reminds me that I forgot to set the timer.
Keep reading, it’s good for the soul.

There now, I’ve done it. Next time I get this e-mail, I’m just sending a link!
Great news: I finished the Bombshell revisions and they’re off with beta readers and then to content editing. We’re on target for early August release!
Have a great weekend,
p.s.

Here’s a few glimpses into our wonderful life, from Nowheresville:

Nearing the end of Bombshell!

Eric captioned this: Pamela Fagan Hutchins doing FaceBook with the horses when she is supposed to be writing 🙂. Feathers is cooping a picture of Katniss, who thinks the picture makes her butt look big. I prefer to think of it as giving the horses an advance read of Bombshell.

Texas Draft Horse and Mule Association trail ride in Somerville, TX. We’re on the far right since Coco the Percheron didn’t want Feathers and Katniss anywhere near her 😉 Note the beautiful wildflowers!

 

I wrote about the overall inspiration for writing the Emily novels in my last post. I want to focus in a little more closely now on each one, because I had a lot of fun with these books. And Heaven to Betsy is special to me because it was my first national contest win for fiction.

So here’s the truth: I wanted to throw Emily back into her conservative hometown, after she’d moved away and become more moderate. Almost every element of the plot was written to show this hot seat she found herself in, where she questioned everything she was taught growing up, at the same time as she slowly came to appreciate some of it again. Her mother and Melinda Stafford most exemplified what she railed against. With her mother, at least, Emily eventually comes around.

Delicious (to me) irony: the original copyeditor for this book (a woman in her 20s) scolded me like I was a child for being politically incorrect and insensitive to every single non-white, non-Christian, non-American I wrote into the book. She did NOT shame me for stereotyping conservatives. Yet the one group that I stereotyped most blatantly was conservatives; largely white, straight, American, and Christian. LOL. I guess it’s okay to stereotype if goes against a group she doesn’t like??

But that brings up a few things that are important to me, so rather than tell you more about why I wrote the plot I did (which is that—in addition to the things I wrote about in the last post—I was fascinated by the issues around immigration, especially in border states, at the time this book is set):

1. Why did I let myself generalize more with conservatives, and paint them at times more negatively?

Because we are in Emily’s point of view, and she is questioning her past as she observes the bad behavior of certain people in her present.

2. Why did I occasionally lean toward political incorrectness with Emily’s observations of the world around her?

BECAUSE I BELIEVE IN AUTHENTICITY. PERIOD. Did I mention we are in Emily’s point of view? She has to think like a woman brought up in the time and place she was raised in (Amarillo with a rodeo cowboy father, and educated at Texas Tech), something I have great familiarity with.

Personal side note: I have spent most of my career working within organizations on creating and maintaining respectful workplaces. I have facilitated diversity training for twenty years. I have conducted thousands of interviews in harassment and discrimination investigations. My brother called me a femi-Nazi decades ago, before that copyeditor was even born. I believe in equality and respect. I believe some of my choices, actions, and stands helped pave the way for her and other women. And I believe she was wrong about Heaven to Betsy, as did her boss, who did the manuscript consult on this book and stood by it when I let s/him know about the copyeditor’s input.

I also believe I can impact ever so slightly how people view the world if I create the right characters and story (Please understand I don’t believe I can save the world with a romantic mystery, only impact it ever so slightly, one reader at a time). But only if I as a writer create authenticity. I can’t create a perfect world by rewriting it inauthentically. If, because of who they are, one of my characters will think about gender, national origin, religious, and race representation in, for example, their book or movie recommendations, then I make sure that I portray them doing just that. If my characters won’t give a crap about whether any female or GLBTQ or non-white writers or directors are represented in their  list, then I portray them in that way. I don’t balance out the recommendations that character gives because of MY need to right societal injustices or inequities. I don’t use my characters to set an example for humankind. Instead, I want them to reflect accurately humankind in their place, experiences, and time.

Does this make sense??? I hope so.

So I may have characters behaving or thinking “insensitively” at times. I think if you take a step back from the words on the individual pages of a novel like Heaven to Betsy, though, you’ll see a broader theme emerge that is one about creating a kinder world where we care more about each other. At least that is what I see and what I intended. IMHO it is in the jagged, ugly beauty of authenticity that we achieve this every now and then as authors.

3. Why does Emily behave so recklessly with regard to her pregnancy and future reproductive abilities?

BECAUSE SHE IS EMILY. SHE IS DEFINED BY HER RECKLESSNESS, by her lack of self-love, by feeling she is of no real value to anyone. She is at a point in her life where she takes chances, ignores risks, and—because she has not faced reproductive challenges—doesn’t yet realize both how much she wants a child and how fragile a woman’s ability to conceive and bear one can be.

She isn’t you, even if she ALMOST could be.

And that’s critical for readers to understand about fiction. The characters are meant to be someone other than you.

To me, good fiction is about a character who doesn’t do what we would do, yet, for reasons of his or her own, their choices are possible and just within the realm of belief, within a set of circumstances that are possible but not probable. It’s life re-imagined, not life just like we’d do it. So Emily (and my other characters) sometimes make choices I wouldn’t or that you wouldn’t. I’ve come to accept that, even when I’m disappointed in them, LOL. I didn’t like Katie’s behavior in Saving Grace, for instance. But she is her, not me. I just wrote her anyway. Same thing with some of Emily’s choices. And don’t get me started about Michele 🙂

[So to anyone out there who might have found it painful to read about Emily in Heaven to Betsy: I get it. Just like life, fiction can be hard. There are books I’ve closed, because they hit so painfully close to home (my home) that I didn’t want to experience it again in the pages. I’ve kept reading those authors, most of the time, just not those books. I encourage you to do the same. You are in control of what you let in, and what you push out. I don’t avoid topics to create safe zones because you aren’t forced to be inside the pages of my novel; you have to create your own perfect space, and there’s no easier place to do it than within a book. Shut it. Delete it from your ereader. Throw it in the crapper, for goodness sakes. And move on. I promise, there are no hard feelings.]

These, my friends, are the issues I struggled with as I wrote Heaven to Betsy. They are the story behind the creation of this story, if you will. And ultimately they led to it winning the USA Best Book Award for Cross Genre Fiction for 2015. <3 <3 <3

And it brought me to an awesome new copyeditor who swooped in to finish it with me, as well as the next three novels I’ve written. Rhonda Erb, you are the bomb, and I appreciate the heck out of you.

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Well, y’all liked it so much last month that I’m doing it again, and doubling down.

I’ve teamed up with more than 45 fantastic romantic women’s fiction authors AND more than 45 fantastic female sleuth authors for two separate giveaways, to give away a huge collection of novels to 2 lucky winners in each contest, PLUS a Kindle Fire to the Grand Prize winner in each as well!

Hold up! Really?

Yes, really. Two contests. Ninety novels and two Kindle Fires.

You can win my novel Going for Kona in the women’s fiction contest and my novel Heaven to Betsy in the female sleuth contest, plus books from authors like Liz AdairAngie Fox and Dianne Harman, .

Enter the women’s fiction giveaway by clicking here: bit.ly/rom-women-fic

Enter the giveaway by clicking here: bit.ly/women-sleuth-myst

And why not enter both?

Good luck, and enjoy!

p.s. Don’t forget:

  • You can get cool stuff like #TeamPetey  and #NotFiringOnAllSyllables merchandise, HERE.

  • Subscribe to my newsletter to get your free WDKY prequel mystery novella Act One ebook, HERE.
  • I am halfway through the rewrite of Bombshell, my 10th WDKY romantic mystery, and so far my story partner loves it. I can feel Ava and her unique view of her world coming more alive every day. It goes off for manuscript critiques within the next two weeks. Biting my nails! Can’t wait to get it out there to you guys.
  • When I’m writing, I write. Brain on, game on. Some days I wake up with poems or lyrics in my head. Do you do this?
    • Here’s one that sounds like Ava:

Day slipping
Mind flipping
Take a breath girl
Stop your tripping

Getcha outside
Lose your wifi
Grab your mojo
And let your soul fly

  • To view videos, you may have to visit this post on my website.

Taking a break with Ms Kitty Kat turns into something unexpected and wonderful.

Is this a sign from Michele when I’m writing Ava? Believe it or not, it came on the day Michele got a shout out in Bombshell. I believe.

Eric sings onstage with me for the first time ever (karaoke fun) and he’s GREAT!!

Want to read all the ebooks you can consume in one month, for free? Kind of like a Netflix binge, but for ebooks? Well, here you go:

One of the subscription sites that carries my novels, BookMate, is offering a month free if you create a login, choose Saving Grace (even if you’ve already read it) at https://bookmate.com/books/TSggk6SX, then enter the PFHUTCHINS coupon code (all caps) at your user icon before you check out. Simple, generous, and Squeetastic!

Thank you, (Book)Mate!

p.s. Snowheresville was lovely, and a peaceful place to finish the first draft of Bombshell, as I channeled the islands and my inner Ava, mon.

44 degrees but sunny and warm on the “lee” side of our cabin. We came for snow and cold, which we would have gotten all winter until this week. Massive thaw a few days ago. And, yes, a boatload of snow expected the week after we leave. Well, at least I get to work outside!

Working with Katniss the day before we left (it was colder in TX than here in WY!!!). I miss my girl! This exercise is about connecting with the horse that shows up before you hop on, even if one or both of you has the I won’ts or I can’ts. Good advice for a WRITER as well. Warm up, test where you’re at, and then do the work that best matches you that day.

Our neighbor plowed one side of our driveway. Eric decided to experiment with the other. The snow won. Eric had a tough day: left his black leather jacket in TX, his laptop in the long term parking shuttle, his glasses at the checkin counter, his Valentine’s Day card for me in his office, and his flannel PJs in the closet at home. But all is well that ends well!

Our gas company delivers based on a usage projection model. Somehow, our usage wasn’t modeling. No gas was delivered. Luckily, they accepted all blame and delivered free after hours, b/c it was dang cold inside!! I’m wearing two coats with my scarf, gloves, and hat. 

Meanwhile, #TeamPetey chilled out in College Station as a temporary Aggie with our youngest and her cat Loki. I think he loses his dog card for this picture!

Pamela's Latest Blog

  • She’s Bringing Sexy Back: The Story Behind the Story of Bombshell (Part 4)
    by Pamela on July 21, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    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 [... […]

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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.