Four times was a charm for Pamela Fryer. That’s the number of finals she earned in the Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® contest. Her fourth final led to a win. In addition, she landed a contract for her GH winning story, The Midnight Effect, from Samhain Publishing. Her debut novel was available in digital download August 25th and will be released in print in 2010.
Pamela lives in Northern California with her supportive real-life hero husband and three felines who know how to pester (and bicker) just like children. By day, she designs stunning Web sites and serves as owner and head designer of her company, Author Designs. By night, she creates awarding-winning romance. When not working or writing, Pamela enjoys hiking, kayaking and cleaning up cat barf. And her favorite indulgence? The first sip of tea on a chilly morning. Pamela has been known to utter, “God bless the first person who ever steeped a tea leaf.”
Join me as we learn about more about Pamela and her journey to publication.
(Look at the bottom of the post for multiple drawing prizes offered.)
Pamela’s Journey Begins
.•Your first Golden Heart final took place in 1999, so you’ve been writing for over a decade. When did you hear the call to begin the story that started it all? How long did it take you to write that book? And has anyone ever read it, or is it destined to keep the dust bunnies in some remote corner company?
I’ve got several books under the bed that are destined never to see sunlight. I’ve actually been writing for more than a decade—ever since I was a child in fact. I never believed I could be published, I thought that was a privilege for a select few. I’d always been a closet writer.
Then one summer I accidentally got a stack of Harlequin romances from a book club membership. One of the authors (and this was when I learned all Harlequins weren’t written by Danielle Steele) had written a thank you to Romance Writers of America in her forward. I looked them up on the internet, and that night I told my husband I wanted to join. He said, “Okay, just make sure they’re not some fly-by-night organization that’s going to run off with your money.” I still laugh about that today.
Stories come to me from weird places and hit like a meteorite strike. I’m the kind of writer who sometimes leaps into page one without plotting or character sketching. (Bad Pam, BAD!) And what’s funny is I did it again only yesterday. My new manuscript has a psychic heroine who sees flashes of crimes, but right now that’s all I know about her. Once I feel I’ve wrapped my hands around the opening, I’ll do the character sketch and plotting chart, but that has to wait. When the urge hits, I write.
The Midnight Effect hit me in the car one evening as I drove down the highway toward a magnificent sunset coloring turbulent clouds. It was still light out, but the lights on buildings and street lamps were coming on, creating an eerie atmosphere. All of a sudden I was thinking about a woman-on-the-run scenario, and The Midnight Effect was born. I told you—weird.
.•You’ve completed several manuscripts. In 2004, when you became one of that year’s GH finalists, the Ghophers, the number was at ten. What’s the count now? And where in that line up does The Midnight Effect come?
That number is probably closer to 15 by now, and add in a bunch of short stories 20-40k. I do write a lot. I’m not saying it’s all any good : ) I’m just saying.
.•Your 1999 GH final was for Long Historical. In 2004 and 2005, you finaled in Short Historical. But in 2008 you won for Best Series Contemporary: Action/Suspense. What drew you to the Historicals, and when and why did you make the switch to contemporary suspense?
I love historicals because of their romanticism. I’ve always written both, and I love to read both. But what draws me to contemporary-set stories is identifying with the strong, confident woman of today. I prefer writing suspense because I love the subgenre so much, so even when I’m writing a historical there is going to be some amount of danger or suspense in them.
.•You hadn’t been writing long when you received your first Golden Heart finalist phone call. How did you react?
Gosh, I was so naïve back then! First of all, I had no idea of the significance of the contest, and second of all, I had no idea what I was in for. I had only been a member of RWA® for a few months when I got the call that I’d finaled. So I hopped on a plane and flew to Chicago for national conference, and there I learned just what a big deal it was. In fact, it still remains one of my most treasured experiences.
Four of us from the Sacramento chapter finaled that year, including best selling author Susan Grant, who was our chapter president at the time. She did a lot to make it a really special.
.•Your back-to-back GH finals took place in 2004 and 2005. What were the highlights of those experiences?
Four finals in the Golden Heart may seem like a lot, but perseverance has a lot to do with that. I have actually entered the contest twenty times (multiple entries over the years). So by 2004 I had entered again nine times since my first final. Having the same manuscript final two years in a row was great affirmation I was still a good writer, because we all need that from time to time. Writing is a lonely occupation and it’s easy to loose your confidence.
.•And then came 2008—your year to shine. What was it like to sit in the posh ballroom at the Awards Ceremony in San Francisco, hear your name called and make your way to the stage to accept your Golden Heart award? How long did you float on a cloud of disbelief?
Winning in 2008 was incredible for so many reasons. San Francisco has been my home city for almost a decade, and my local chapter was excited to host the conference. And because it was in my hometown, my husband got to come to the awards ceremony with me. It was so wonderful to have him there. It finally felt real when my copy of RWR arrived with my picture on the back.
.•It’s sometimes said that a Golden Heart final isn’t a golden key to the publishing world, but a win has been known to open doors. You’re one of the seven from the ten 2008 winners who has gone on to sell so far. Please share with us what led to that long-awaited event when you received The Call. And how long and loudly did you squeal when you heard the BIG news?
The Golden Heart most certainly isn’t a golden key. It is merely a stepping stone within a path. All writers have a different journey. Some sell quickly, some take years. My books always have “outside the box” elements, so they’re tough to place. When I tried writing to the market, my heart just wasn’t in the books.
I first learned about Samhain when I attended a workshop panel with Angela James. I knew before I got up from my chair that I was going to submit to Samhain. They are the forerunner in a new age of publishing. I love that they embrace the unique and let writers flex their writing muscle outside the box.
My whole experience has been fantastic. Being released in digital format and trade paperback is the best of both worlds. I’m not really the squealing type, but I sure was grinning for a long time. I’m still known to break into a smile for apparently no reason, and I’m sure people think I’m weird for it.
.•How did you remain motivated during the many years you wrote story after story? Who or what helped you remain focused on your goal of being a published author when discouragement and doubts dealt you a blow?
I’m going to answer the second part of that question first, because I owe so much to my local chapter, the San Francisco Area RWA. There is nothing better than a good writers’ group. I had a lot of help with The Midnight Effect from my good friend Jasmine Haynes, but the support and camaraderie alone is priceless.
Since writing is such a passion for me, (and sometimes I act on my crazy impulses) motivation has never been a problem. Confidence, though, is another issue altogether. I’m as fragile as any writer.
.•You joined Romance Writers of America in the early days of your writing journey. Two chapters have played an important role in your life, the Sacramento Valley Rose RWA and the San Francisco Area RWA. What are some of the greatest blessings you’ve received from being a member of your local chapter?
I’ll say it again, my chapter mates are priceless to me. The greatest blessings I’ve received from them have nothing to do with writing: they are their friendships.
.•Who have been your biggest supporters behind the scenes? How did they help you celebrate your successes?
Most definitely my husband. That man has the patience of a saint, and he never doubted me. We celebrated my sale by going out for sushi at my favorite restaurant.
.Pamela’s Debut Novel
.•You’ve received some great reviews already, including four-and-a-half books from The Long and Short Reviews. What comments from reviewers and readers have meant the most to you?
I’m a Google alert user, and a few days ago I got an alert to a blog where a reviewer in the process of reading my book for Cataromances said “WOW! This is just flying by!” This was great to hear because the biggest problem I had with The Midnight Effect was pacing.
.•Please tell us about The Midnight Effect
In a single phone call, Lily Brent’s entire life—past and future—becomes foggy with confusion and danger. Her estranged sister is dead, and the body is lacking one definitive mark: a surgery scar from the kidney Lily thought she’d donated to her sister long ago.
There’s more than a mystery on her hands. There’s a niece she never knew she had, and a madman on her trail who’s hell-bent on getting the child back.
When a beautiful woman crashes her car into his remote mountain gas station, followed closely by a man with a silencer-equipped pistol, three years of inactive duty fall away as Miles Goodwin springs into action. He saves Lily and her golden child, but nothing can save him from the painful reminder of the family he lost. Retreating to his emotional coma, however, isn’t an option; they’re far from safe.
There’s something strange about a six-year-old girl who’s never eaten a hamburger or heard of Tinkerbell—and who seems to be the source of psychic phenomena so powerful, someone’s willing to kill to get her back.
.Pamela’s Journey Continues
.•The Midnight Effect has been available for digital download since August 25 and will be available in print next year. What can your readers look forward to next?
More danger, thrills and adventure, and definitely more paranormal elements.
.Five Fun Facts About Pamela, the Writer
.~ Once, while stopped in traffic at a bridge toll, I saw a police car with a flat tire tearing down the rutted shoulder of the freeway, lights off, with a guy in a bright orange jumpsuit behind the wheel. Is it any wonder I write suspense?
~ I type 80 words a minute freestyle. (But ask me to type from a copy and it’s more like 45.)
~ I used to think all Harlequin romances were written by one author.
~ I’m too embarrassed to use a tape recorder because I hate the sound of my own voice.
~ I think the cartoon Venture Brothers has great character development.
.Five Fun Facts About Pamela, the Person
.~ I find no pleasure in cooking. I hate chopping vegetables and handling raw meat.
~ I accidentally knocked out my husband’s front tooth with a salad dressing bottle. (He forgave me.)
~ I think snails are cute.
~ I’m afraid of the dark. Blame it on my vivid imagination.
~ I love submarine sandwiches. I’m the ultimate Dagwood Bumstead. I’ve been searching my whole life for the world’s greatest sub.
.Pamela’s Question for You
.•I’ve enjoyed having you as my guest, Pamela. It’s always fun to have a fellow 2008 GH Pixie Chick here. Thanks for your great answers to my questions. Now it’s your turn to ask a question of your visitors, so go for it.
What paranormal elements do you believe in most, or least? Legendary beasts like Bigfoot or Nessie? Psychic abilities like telekinesis or telepathy? What do you like to read because you believe it just might be possible, or can’t read because you find it too implausible?
.Learn More About Pamela
Visit her Web site ~ http://www.pamelafryer.com
Leave a Comment for Three Chances to Win
To leave a comment, click on “Comments” below the date in the title at the top of the post.
Pamela has generously offered to give away a digital download of The Midnight Effect to one visitor who leaves a comment for her.
To enter the drawing, just leave a comment for Pamela by October 15th and enter your email address when prompted. (I don’t share your information or add it to any mailing lists.) On October 16th, she will choose a winner, and I’ll post the name here.
Congratulations to Fedora, winner of Pamela’s debut novel.
.My Regular Drawing
My next drawing will take place October 20th. I’m giving away an etched steel magnet with the word Dream scroll cut from the center of the oval disc.
To enter the drawing, just leave a comment on any blog post by October 20th and enter your email address when prompted. (I don’t share your information or add it to any mailing lists.) On October 21st, I’ll post the winner’s name in the Welcome post at the top of the blog..
You could also win a First Sale Scrapbook
If you’d like to have a chance at winning a First Sale Scrapbook created by me, your blog hostess Keli Gwyn, leave a comment on any post between now and October 31st. Be sure to include your name and email address when prompted if you want to be entered in the drawing. (Your information will not be shared.) Click red link above to see samples of covers and pages.
On November 1st, I will choose one person who will have her/his choice of covers on an 8×8 inch, twenty-page scrapbook in which s/he can document that long-awaited first sale. The pages will cover various milestones including The Call, signing the contract, receiving the first advance payment and holding your debut novel in your hands.
(No scrapbooking skills required. You just add your photos and journaling.)