(Subscribers, if you don’t see video and images in this email, click the blog title to go out to the post on my website)

I bake. And I be bossy. (Damn, my husband is KEWT)

I wrangle donkeys. Unsuccessfully.

I go to cool concerts.

I hug mini-cows.

But I am thinking about Michele and friends and Searching for Dime Box, all the time. Or at least some of the time.

ūüôā

Hey, here are the results of the survey last month. Hundreds of you responded; cool, I didn’t even know there were hundreds of you out there (j.k.). Thank you!

Here’s the percentage of all the books of mine you have read held by each individual book:

Saving Grace: 12.8%

Heaven to Betsy: 12.4%

Leaving Annalise: 9.5%

Finding Harmony: 9.5%

Earth to Emily: 8.7%

Going for Kona: 8.3%

Hell to Pay: 7.4%

Fighting for Anna: 7.0%

Bombshell: 6.2%

Act One: 5.8%

Nonfiction comprise the remainder. New poll coming soon!

Oh, man, I have a lot of good stuff for you guys this week!

  • Here’s a lot of bang for your gift-buying buck:

The Emily Trilogy Box Set‚ÄĒall 3 full-length Emily romantic mystery novels from the¬†What Doesn’t Kill You¬†world‚ÄĒwill be on sale for $0.99 for the entire month of December. Yes, 3 e-books for less than a dollar. Bestselling, awardwinning ebooks. And it’s as easy as buying an e-book for yourself to buy an e-book gift card for someone else, on any of your favorite retailers. So share what you love about the¬†What Doesn’t Kill You¬†world, without breaking your piggy bank. Paperback, hardback, and audio of the individual novels in the set (Heaven to Betsy, Earth to Emily, and Hell to Pay) are available at regular prices. Click HERE to see your retailer options for the Emily Trilogy Box Set.

  • How about a sneak peek at chapter one of the 2nd Ava mystery,¬†Stunner??? Click HERE.

 

  • Want to see the cover of the 3rd Ava mystery,¬†Knockout? Click HERE.

 

  • Pre-order the 3rd Michele mystery,¬†Searching for Dime Box¬†by¬†clicking HERE.

 

Meanwhile, back at the Nowheresville “ranch,” I am hard at work on the first draft of¬†Searching for Dime Box.¬†Wish me luck! My motivation is mushy after writing the first draft of¬†Knockout¬†last month. Brain deflated ūüôā

p.s. It hasn’t been¬†all¬†work . . .

Taking my NM Lobo husband to the Texas A&M stadium for a mismatch. I think he loves me for my piggy snort.

Eric’s Christmas present: Cardinals v Texans, in Houston, where he found several other wacko Cardinals fans.

Tailgating with old friends before the game in his Cardinals serape, priceless!

Our youngest and her best friend making it to the game before the 4th quarter . .

Thanksgiving in North Texas with my super adorable parents (and all of our dogs and ponies).

Eric’s company Christmas party, where we got to hang out with friends we don’t see nearly often enough.

Hey, y’all!

I’m going to be asking you a series of questions over the next few weeks that will help me get to know you better as readers. By knowing you better, I can post what you are most interested in, so I really appreciate your responses. I won’t know who has replied unless you tell me, so be sure to shoot me an email or comment below if you’d like me to know you are participating.

Hint: I have some ideas about cool things to do for those of you that are most enthusiastic about my books and want to be involved in early reads, exclusive discounts, and spreading the word about the¬†What Doesn’t Kill You¬†world.

Your first question is below my signature, and it’s a poll (easy!). If you’re reading this in your email, you may have to pop out to the website to participate by clicking on the title of this post, above. I’m not sure ūüôā because I’ve never included a poll before, but we’ll know after this first time, won’t we?

This week, please consider the Katie & Emily Box Set ebook gift certificates from Apple or Kobo as holiday gifts. Apps to read from either store are free (and people who have Apple products automatically have the apps for Apple iBooks). This mega box set of all six full-length romantic mysteries is also the easiest and most piggy-bank friendly way for you to binge read the novels and catch up.

And in the meantime, won’t you please join the Thunderclap joint social media promotion for the box set? Since 50% of readers choose books based on recommendations, and 30% find their recommendations on social media, you’ll be helping other people find my books. You can join it by clicking below.

Thanks for being awesome and subscribing, you guys!

We’re doing a flash release of a Katie & Emily Box Set. With¬†one download, readers get all six-full-length novels:

Saving Grace

Leaving Annalise

Finding Harmony

Heaven to Betsy

Earth to Emily

Hell to Pay

It’s a great way for binge readers to get their fix all at once, and for you guys to introduce new people to books you enjoy, at the best possible price.

I need your help! Over 80% of people find their books through word-of-mouth, virtual or in real life. Won’t you help me get the word out online by joining my Thunderclap (coordinated social media announcement), here, puh-leeze?

Thank you for considering it, thank you even more if you do it!

If you’re wanting to snag the set for yourself or another book lover, you can get it exclusively on Kobo and Apple iTunes, and the links are HERE.

If you join the Thunderclap, let me know via email or in the comments so I can enter you in the drawing for the signed novel of your choice by moi.

Thank you tons, y’all!

p.s. I’m halfway through November, and halfway through with the first draft of¬†Knockout!

And I mean explosive in the best possible way: Ava and¬†Bombshell¬†are “on the virtual road.”

Check out all the fun stops on the tour at the links below, and enter at each link for a chance to win signed copies of¬†Bombshell.¬†Be sure to leave some comment love for the bloggers, and share on Facebook if you get the chance. Let’s give Ava some visibility. We know the girl loves it ūüėČ

Day one ‚ÄĒ¬†Ava interview!

Day two ‚ÄĒ¬†The Story Behind the Story: What gives me the right to write Ava?

Day three ‚ÄĒ¬†Review: “Completely captivating!

Day four ‚ÄĒ¬†#Metoo?: sexuality and violence, and the Ava novels

Day five ‚ÄĒ¬†Review: “Complex, layered, and damaged, and I loved her.

Day six ‚ÄĒ¬†Review: “Strong and intriguing plot points.

Day seven ‚ÄĒ¬†Bringing sexy back.

Day eight ‚ÄĒ¬†Sneak peak.

Day nine ‚ÄĒ

Review: Pure delight. Ava is a sensation!

Why I was scared to write Ava. 

Day ten ‚ÄĒ

Review: All the feels & Kudos to Hutchins for believability and clarity.

Review: Chapter Break book blog.

Bonus! ‚ÄĒ¬†Video: I like this one except for the glaring verbal error I make at the end.

Comment with the error below to be entered to win a bonus signed copy of your pick of my novels, or the new Katie & Emily Box Set ebook, set to release in ten days (surprise!).

Now, hurry out to these posts and enter for your chance to win a signed copy of Bombshell, while I get back to writing Knockout.

Hello all!

A lot has happened since I checked in with you guys. First and foremost, we moved into our new Snowheresville, WY cabin as I mentioned a few weeks ago. Secondly, my mind was blown at my first Novelists, Inc. conference. Third, we moved¬†back¬†to Nowheresville, TX. And finally, we had a flurry of rental requests, so I put our two unrented houses up on Air BnB, and BAM Snowheresville rented out for October, November, December, and into January! It¬†is¬†that super cool, and we’re getting a ton of early requests for summer dates, which we’ll be very, very selective on, as most of the summer we’ll live there. In that spirit, though, I’m sharing it with you here:

 

 

 

And because Nowheresville rented out for Thanksgiving and all last summer, we decided, WHAT THE HECK, let’s offer it “officially,” too. Again, dates are selective, but it¬†is¬†available for the Round Top fall antique show, and has four bedrooms and an office that converts to a fifth. What a fantastic girls trip. Antiques, Junk Gypsy Prom, Truth BBQ. Our donkeys and goats ūüôā Great for a writers retreat too.

BIG NEWS! Our first Snowheresville, WY facilitated writers retreat will be August 5-11, 2018. It will include “free” writing/inspiration time, structured coaching/critique/instructional time, and lots of support and community with the other attendees. Click HERE to claim your spot and for more information. (Readers or Artists, if you’d like to see us book a retreat for YOU, email me. I could maybe talked into August 19-25.)

On the writing front, I’m sending Stunner (Ava #2) off for copyedit this week, and Eric and I brainstormed Knockout (Ava #3), which I’ll start on Wednesday. I have an ambitious writing schedule, as I plan to digitally record and transcribe the first draft of Knockout in November, and do the same for Searching for Dime Box (Michele #3) in December. Cross your fingers as¬†Saving Grace¬†is being shopped to Hallmark as part of a package of movies by a producer under contract with them. We should know in the next few months. <3

 

I am so excited for adventures in store in 2018, not just with my renewed career plan for my writing after Novelists, Inc., but with two of our five kids getting married, time with the horses and other animals, and just the joy of being married to the world’s greatest guy.

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

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

 

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

Good luck in the contests!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

One love.

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

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

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

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

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

The all-important first new-house selfie!

TRULY a SNOWheresville!

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

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

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

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

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

Like mother, like daughter (flanneling).

Leaves changing!

 

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

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

#TeamPetey helping make the hot dogs.

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

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

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

Pray for me ūüôā and for¬†Stunner.

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

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

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

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

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

Gorgeous couple in the gorgeous Crazy Woman Canyon.

A river (Big Goose Creek) runs though it.

Duncan Lake determination.

Miner’s cabin near Coffeen Park.

Ah, the Wilderness!

Small but a beauty.

Like father like daughter.

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

Both of them had a lesson Feathers.

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

May be my favorite picture of the weekend.

Through the smoky haze you can see our breakfast visitors.

Tiny woman, big horse <3

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


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

I won! Fighting for Anna won! ūüôā

The easiest way to share is to copy and paste.

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

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

 

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

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

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

Back to reality. Soon.

Yay!

Enjoy some photos from the experience, below.

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

 

Happy me in bookstore with Killer Nashville volunteer Kay Tyler.

 

<3 Loser!

 

Branding panel.

 

Feeling punchy in the bookstore.

 

Book signing

 

Wyoming writer Kierstin Marquet won the crime scene investigation competition!

 

Keynote! It went great, I think.

 

In happy silly shock.

 

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

 

Floating on air after they called MY NAME ūüėÄ

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

With awesome volunteer Kay Tyler.

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

 

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

It’s crunch time.

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

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


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

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


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

Have a great week, all’a’y’all,

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Off to the salt mines…

p.s.

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

Congratulations to

Peggy
Sharon
Melody
Penny
Barb Ellen

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

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

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

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

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

I appreciate the heck out of you guys!

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

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

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

p.s.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I should go on vacation more often.

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

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

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

First, though . . .

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

Read a sneak peek of Bombshell HERE.

Pre-order Bombshell HERE.

Enter contest, below, through Rafflecopter.

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

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

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

Giveaway

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

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

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

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

Spirit, Mind, Body

Past, Present, Future

Power, Intellect, Love

Creation, Preservation, Destruction

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

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

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway


She’s Bringing Sexy Back

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

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

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

My gut told me they were right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was relieved to stop. *Sigh*

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

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

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

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

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

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

I closed my eyes and pictured Ava. Within seconds, I am¬†on St. Marcos, at a party on the patio of a gorgeous home, the silky night air caressing my skin, the stars winking at me from above. In this scene Ava’s¬†the date of a wealthy, mysterious man (just her type!) who’s a partner in the business she’s just gone to work with. There’s been a murder, maybe two. Someone is stalking her, or maybe not. Not everything seems kosher with her new employer, or maybe it is. She’s struggling as a single mom and only child of aging parents. And, she’s trying to convince herself that she’s not in love with another¬†man who she’s just dumped (spoiler: think Earth to Emily). So she’s throwing herself into a new relationship, or, relationships‚ÄĒthis 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 ūüėČ

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‚ÄĒa bomb‚ÄĒin 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 Bombshell, Stunner, 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.

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