Author Archives: Pam



I have been working on a sequel to my book Frozen Hearts. I started… *flips over to Excel tracking to check the date* …in July of this year. Sometimes when I’m writing it feels like I’m flying, like I’m in the zone, like I’m immersed in the world and characters and everything is ok.

This was NOT one of those times. The book has been hard to write.

First, I had a massive editing project to do which took a major chunk out of the beginning of the year. Second, I picked up an additional job, so my writing time has been compromised. My word count schedule is still at an extremely regimented level. I have a minimum daily word count I must reach or make up the next day.

No fun stuff, no internet, no tv before writing time, but my word counts are lower so this story has been a slow go.

I also went into it blind, pantsing it’s called in the writerly world, basically writing by the seat of my pants without a detailed outline. I did scratch out my overall plot points so I would have some direction, but the majority of it had to be snatched out of the air as it flew by.

Writing in short burst on a story that I had to wing has made this a grueling experience. There has been magnificent moments of discovery, of learning the characters motivation, of finding out what the real theme of the story is, but it felt like digging through sun baked sand rather than freshly tilled earth.

At this point, I’ve figured out a good idea of how and where the story will end. As I’m barreling at the speed of a sprinting snail at the conclusion, I often think of quitting. I get these horrible imaginings that this is the worst writing in the world and no one will like it, the story doesn’t make sense, and the characters are flat.

I usually feel this way at the end of EVERY project. Usually, I breeze past the self-flagellation. But because I’m keeping such a slow pace, my doubts are gaining more mass, speed, bulk, like a Hulk bent on smashing my writing dreams.

Again, I’m reminded of running (writing and running are inexorably tied for me).  At the end of a run when my knees are getting twingey, my playlist has run out of good song, my nose is running, and the cold is cutting into my lungs, I think—no one would know if I stopped.  No one would care if I stopped. The world would not shame me for stopping . I could just walk home. Then I hear that click that says, I would know. And I could not give up on my running, my project, or myself.

So here I am, the finish line is close but the doubts nag me, tug at me, slow me down. It really doesn’t matter because I know, even if I do have to walk home, I will cross the finish line.

What about you guys?  Ever tempted to abandon a project?

12/31/15 EDIT—I have finished the book. It still feels like a horrible unreadable mess, but I finished, and now I can edit the mass of glob until it’s a prettier more readable glob.   Happy New Year!



I can blame my first exposure to science fiction and fantasy on my dad. On snowy weekends when I was a kid, my brother and I would dog pile onto the floor (and each other) using my dad as a backrest and watch all sorts of movies and shows. From Westerns to Andy Hardy movies, we loved them all. But one of my favorites, and introduction to science fiction, was Star Trek.

This interest in science fiction was a mild flame and segued into the time of Star Wars. No elementary-aged kid missed the science fiction epic, and my family joined the masses to see it one summer night at a drive-in, and my young life was transformed. The movie had the quick-draw appeal of a Western, the swashbuckling of a pirate movie, and the adventure of any of my Saturday cartoons.

But better, it had a Princess that was a force to be reckoned with. Pistol in hand, she ordered the boys around, led missions, and hardly needed any saving at all. (The crushes on Luke then Han would come later—my first love was Leia) I still have my Leia action figure stowed away in a box under the stairs.

Then there was the Terminator with the unparalleled Sarah Connor morphing from victim to freedom fighter, taking her future in her own hands.  (Plus she could do a hard-core-full-on pull up by T2.) Who wasn’t inspired by her physical and mental toughness?

The list continues with Wonder Woman, the Bionic Woman, Xena, and Buffy. All main characters leading their own shows giving me the idea that a woman could be strong, powerful, and just as interesting as the boys.

Let’s not forget other non-main characters such as Zoe, River, and Kaylee from Firefly and most of the companions on Doctor Who: Rose, Amy, Sarah Jane, Martha, Donna, and Clara.

Another recent source of inspiration has been Game of Thrones. All Martin’s characters are gray and compelling, but his most moving examples of toughness, intelligence, and power are Arya and Daenerys. They lose everything that matters to them, yet they keep going, they keep striving, they keep surviving.

When I feel overwhelmed, lonely, broken, at the bottom of my will, I still think what would Princess Leia or Xena do?  What about Diana Prince or Sarah Connor or Buffy? Buffy literally died twice and kept going.

They wouldn’t give up or in. They would fight. And from all those years of watching these characters fight, I am pushed to dig a little deeper and  try harder. They may not be real, but the feelings they inspire are.

I think one of the reasons I’m drawn to both fantasy and science fiction is that it consistently provides wonderful examples of strong and intelligent women, and I only see that continuing with Katniss from the Hunger Games and Tris from Divergent. I’m proud to be a sci-fi/fantasy nerd and will continue to be inspired by and (create in my own) kick-butt females.

I am excited about the new Star Wars movie and hope the franchise continues to provide the next generation (and me!) some fascinating, powerful, and take-no-crap heroines.

What about you? Did you have a fave sci-fi/fantasy hero or heroine that gave you inspiration? Or just drop down below and say hello. Thanks for stopping by!


The Gift of Failure


I have read that the older people get the less they try new experiences. They specialize and only do things with which they feel comfortable. If they hate driving highways, they take the backroad. If they hate socializing, they stay in their homes. If they hate reading, they never visit a library.

As kids in school, we were forced to expand our boundaries, to do things we are not good at and in fact hate. Geeks who never played outside had to run the mile and play sports. Boys who hated reading had to recite aloud from Shakespeare. We all survived and were glad when it was over.

I never realized that the fear-of-the-new applied to me until recently. As of the last year, money has gotten tighter, and I had to seek out a new part-time gig. I had waited tables in my youth and thought it would be something I could pick up again easily, like riding a bike—right?

I was wrong.

I didn’t realize how different I had become over the last twenty years. I was still good with people, but the computer systems were different. I was slower. My short-term memory had not been at full capacity in about a decade. Items were forgotten. Customers were upset.

My entire body wound up in a ball of tension. The more made mistakes I made the less confident I felt, which led to more mistakes. My head ached.

I explored this reaction. Why was I so upset over failing?

When I was twenty-four years old and made a mistake, I was embarrassed but moved on. Now it felt somehow magnified. I was so used to being good at everything.  I didn’t remember how to learn, how to take mistakes and use them to improve. My errors froze my ability to think and reason.

I am slowly improving. People have been overall understanding, and I haven’t been fired yet. But if I had a choice I would have left and never returned. I am trying to be more relaxed and enjoy the process of success and failure, learning the tricks of the trade, allowing my mind and body to absorb a completely new process of behavior without judgement. Because with judgement comes stress, and with stress comes mistakes and the domino effect of horribleness.

For the last few years, I’ve been toying with the idea of going indie with my writing. I think one of the things that held me back was fear of doing something new. Fear of not being good. Fear of being judged. But if this stint as a server has taught me anything, it is that I will be wrong. I will fail. But in the end. I will learn. It may be painful, like when someone complains or I get a one star review on Amazon. It will also be fantastic when I get a nice tip, or someone tells me they love my characters.

I need to learn to love to fail, because it is in the fertile ground of failure that you can grow success. What about you?  Fail epically at something?  Still striving to expand your horizons? Let me know in the comments.


Ode to a Library


I was stuck without a way to write this week. No email or books or laptop, just a few hours between two events and not enough time to go home. I found myself searching for a way to be productive even without any resources and for the thousandth time in my life, the local library came to my assistance.

I borrowed one of their terminals, got my daily word count, and had enough time to find a book and check out the third season of Doctor Who on DVD. As I sat at the Brighton Library and looked out the window at their immaculate landscaping, a sense of peace came over me. It was like the library was watching out for me and providing for me like a friend, and it wasn’t the first time.

I remember many things in elementary school did not live up to my expectations. Recess was ok, but you still had to avoid getting beat up and cussed out by the big kids or ostracized by the cool kids. I was excited when they took us on a trip to the laboratory. Thinking it would be like the mad scientist labs in the movies, but was sorely disappointed by the lavatory, which in my vernacular was just a stinky bathroom.

The only thing that truly made my young jaw drop was the library. The shelves were huge, and the room seemed to go on forever with more books then I had ever seen in my life. I was angry that we were limited to two books and could only pick from certain sections, but the visit was thrilling and enflamed a lifelong love affair with libraries.

I found the local library soon after and during the long summer months, before the days of internet and twenty-four hour television with DVRs and DVDs, books provided an escape from the monotonous day to day, a release valve for the imagination, and a fortress from the 100 degree heat.

I got so upset when my mom didn’t have time to drive me that I walked the five miles from my house to the library on a busy highway, not bothering to tell her where I was going. I think I may have been 11 years old. I really didn’t know how I was going to get back with all my books, and I didn’t care. Arriving at the building was like seeing an oasis; I spent the next three hours in Nirvana. (Mom figured out where I was and picked me up btw).

Later when I had kids of my own and no money to entertain them, I took them to the Howell Library to play computer games, pick up books, and borrow VHS tapes. When they were teens, they joined the writing club and participated in carnival style events and movie nights. For a single mom, the library was an invaluable haven.

Later, I discovered my first in-person writer’s group through a library and met most of my best friends in those groups.

As the community moves into a new generation of ebooks, I find again the library is on the cutting edge with apps that allow virtual lending. Some libraries will even lend an e-reader to patrons for in house use.

Libraries serve as meeting places, resources for job searches, information, and research. They have proven time and again to be a lighthouse in a dark and choppy sea of life that I can depend on to light the way into a safe harbor of knowledge.

One of my favorite libraries, the Brighton District Library is currently seeking a millage and I encourage you, if you live in the area, to vote yes to supporting this fine institution, so that more people can have the same joy, comfort, and happiness that I have experienced over the last forty years.

I would not be the educated, informed, entertained, and happy person I am today without the support of libraries.

Have libraries affected your life in any meaningful way? Leave a note in the comments or just stop in and say hi!

Writing Fast

500 wordsI have been experimenting with writing speed and word count goals. Lately, there has been a plethora of blog post, podcasts, and books that extol the values of writing quickly or fast drafting.

Write 5000 words an hour! Draft a book in a weekend! A book in a month! Easy in your spare time.

Now I would love to write quality first draft material at this speed, but I had my doubts. Can I even type that fast let alone move a story along in a logical way? I listened, read, researched and I’ve found several ways that really worked. Maybe not 5000 words an hour, but I can write significantly faster if I observe these factors.

Shout out: Many of the best habits I found came from Rachel Aaron’s From 2-10K.

Best book on writing faster—period.

I’ve been trying to do a daily  count of 500-1000 words. I noted that some days the words just flowed and others it was like trying to coax out an impacted wisdom tooth. Rachel’s book pointed out that  preplanning every scene, using a loose outline to guide your writing, even if it’s just a line or two, helps you have a target to aim for which keeps the prose from meandering.

Another gem I learned is to have a block of time, usually over forty-five minutes, to devote to a writing sprint. Getting back into a story and easing into the skin of the characters takes time and when time is limited the prose becomes stilted.

I’m not saying trying to eke out 250 words in a fifteen minutes sprint is bad. It’s great training for producing on a schedule, but when you give yourself forty-five minutes to two hours, the muse will know he/she has time to come out and play, and the writing flows.

Like a space shuttle taking off uses most of its fuel to get out of the Earth’s atmosphere, writing takes the most energy to get started. Once you find a rhythm and have a target of where you want the scene to go then the words come like a monsoon instead of a spring sprinkle. I highly recommend Rachel’s book (and it’s only 99cents)— a quick read and stuffed full of great tips.

What about you? Do you have a method to get more words faster? I love productivity tips so feel free to share. Or just stop by to say hi.