PAMELA TRACY started writing at age twelve (A very bad teen romance featuring David Cassidy from the Partridge Family). Later, she honed her writing skills while earning a BA in Journalism at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas (And wrote a very bad science fiction novel that didn’t feature David Cassidy.) Pamela sold her first romance It Only Takes A Spark to Barbour in 1999. Her next book Daddy for Keeps is out from Harlequin’s Steeple Hill Romance line in January of 2009. Since then she’s written a variety (sixteen made it to book shelves; Four are covered with cat hair and still hiding under the bed) of novels, novellas, and prayer books.
1. Describe your RITA phone call.
Of all my friends who entered, I think I expected it the least. Lisa Mondello mentioned to me that Tuesday morning that "Calls are going out." I promptly forgot. When my cell phone rang at 10:25, I was in my office five minutes away from teaching a comp class. When Jill St. John said, "I’m calling from RWA…" My first thought was, "Oh, the Desert Rose chapter is having a contest next weekend. They must have a question." Then, she said, "Your book, Pursuit of Justice, is a RITA® finalist." I about fell over. I did make a lot of noise (apparently, according to my coworkers, a lot of noise). And, promptly I made three quick phone calls: best friend, editor, and agent. Then I went off to teach a class to 24 students who’d never heard of the RITA®.
2. Tell us about the RITA book and why you think it stood out it the crowd.
Pursuit of Justice felt like a different book right from the beginning. I started writing it, oh, eight years ago. It was before baby, before marriage, I think I started it between anthologies. See, there was like a six book span where I wasn’t writing novels, instead I was writing – making that selling – novellas and prayer books. The 80 pages novellas kept having suspense elements and I kept muttering “Arg, if I could only have 200 more pages, I could ‘really’ make this a suspense.” Well, during that mind thought, Rosa’s (she’s the heroine) story tapped me on the shoulder. Rosa’s a wonderful gal. She tapped me, complete! I knew the beginning, middle, and end. That usually doesn’t happen. Of course, I got to about chapter two of her book, and I think I sold a prayer book. Once I finished the prayer book, I made it to chapter five of Rosa’s book, and then I sold another anthology. Every time I started to work on Rosa, I’d sell something else. Finally, I got an agent and he sold Rosa while she was only about 75% complete. Rosa finally got closure. What makes this book stands out is it was eight years in the making, and the whole time I was learning craft via the other sells. Boy, was Pursuit of Justice developed.
3. How many books have you written?
Four under the bed Sixteen on the shelves One in progress
4. Do you have a favorite?
Of course! Pursuit of Justice! First, it’s a RITA finalist (pinch, pinch) Plus, not only did the book and her characters keep me company for eight years, but Rosa then asked her friends if they’d like books too. Ruth and Mary both said yes. There were two more books published by Love Inspired Suspense: The Price of Redemption and Broken Lullaby.
5. Describe your writing process.
I have an old calendar and a spiral notebook by my computer. I usually roll out of bed about 5:30 a.m. Blurry eyed, I head to my computer. On the calendar, I keep track of the timeline. For example, Rosa was set in winter, so I decided on the month, and then in my calendar, I chose a day and wrote it down for her to get stopped for speeding by the cops. I tend to have my romances start and stop within days. Nope, don’t like that. Keeping the calendar helps me give the romance time to develop. The notebook has three columns and usually about fourteen rows. I keep track of every chapter – writing down what happens to her in column one, what happens to them in column two, and what happens to him in column three. Each row, of course, is a chapter. I’m a SOTPs writer. I’m working on a suspense called Lost Identity right now. I’m on chapter six. So, rows 1 – 5 are pretty filled. I kept track of names, happenings, etc. Rows 6-14 are sparse. I’ve jotted down ideas (in pencil so I can move them). I’ve also figured out that this will not be a 14 chapter book, so I’ve X’d out rows 13 and 14 and moved what few scribbles I have to other rows/ chapters. I have a toddler and a full time job, so I aim for three pages a day. In a current calendar, starting with Monday, I’ll write 103 – 106. On Tuesday, I’ll write 106 – 109. On Wednesday, I’ll write 109 – 112. You get the idea. Now, I ‘really’ aim to get those pages done. If I get more, I adjust my numbers. If I get less, then the next day I REALLY have to work. I don’t put number goals for the weekend. Anything I write on Saturday and Sunday is a gift.
6. When did you decide to become a writer and why Christian fiction?
I decided to become a writer as a toddler. I’d scribble and then take the scribbles to my dad and demand he tell me the story I just wrote. He’d make up a story. Um, he was an old army man, currently a lumberyard manager. I’m pretty sure his stories were scary (LOL! Which is probably why I write suspense and have dead bodies in my books). I think what happened next is I fell in love with David Cassidy (although it was Bobby Sherman who answered my fan letter) and wrote stories about him. Fast forward a few years and you have my girlfriends and I making up stories about the boys we’d met at Skateland (I still remember those boys’ names). Finally, I started writing stories in my notebook. I wrote a secret baby – about the time a fifteen year old friend had a baby. I wrote an historical – about the time I read my first romances (Hmmm, shall I admit I cut my teeth on Rosemary Rogers, Patricia Mathews, and Jennifer Wilde?) I REALLY decided to become a writer in the weeks after my mother died. I’d told her I was going to be a writer. I purchased a computer from Montgomery Wards and set it up on a card table in my bedroom. I wrote a 300 page, single spaced, (not yet completed) Star Trek TNG. Then, I took a creative writing class at a local college and changed to romance and wrote four books (the before mentioned four that are under the bed). As to why Christian fiction… Well, I am a Christian and God pretty much nudged me in the right direction.
7. Tell us about your next or upcoming projects.
My first Love Inspired romance Daddy for Keeps comes out in January of 2009. I have a web master heroine and a bull rider hero. It’s a secret baby (I’ve come a long way since age 15 LOL) Then, I’m working on a three book suspense series called Seeking the Lost about three sisters. It hasn’t sold – yet.
8. Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?
Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Read in the genre you think you’ll write in. Don’t expect it to happen overnight. Never give up. If you write a page a day, you’ll have a novel in a year. Go to workshops, conferences, make writing friends.