Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I'm honored to introduce Pamela Kaye Tracy. Pamela writes for Barbour, Love Inspired Suspense and Love Inspired. BROKEN LULLABY is on the shelves now and her suspense, PURSUIT OF JUSTICE is a finalist in the 2008 RWA Rita contest. A prolific and accomplished writer, Pamela is also active in local writing groups. She's co-chaired the Desert Dreams conference for Desert Rose Chapter of RWA and is currently president of Christian Writers of the West (the local ACFW chapter). Welcome aboard, Pamela.

Hi, I’m Pamela Tracy and thanks for inviting me to your Blog! I’ve been looking over past posts and what an exciting and welcoming place. Let me tell you a bit about me. One, I’m not shy. Two, I talk (type) too much. And three, I love to write. Settle back and I’ll tell you a bit about my writing journey.

Remember Hogan’s Heroes. One of the catch phrases of that show was “I know nothing. Nooothing?” When I first started writing, that was certainly true of me. I knew nothing. I purchased my first computer compliments of my Montgomery Wards credit card. I set it up in my room, on a card table, and started typing. When it came time to save, I didn’t really know what to title my files, so I named them Pamela 1, Pamela 2, Pamela 3. It didn’t take me long to realize the key word ‘Pamela’ wasn’t going to help me remember WHAT WAS REALLY IN THE FILE.

I lucked onto AOL’s writing community. It was small, intimate, and alive. I met my best friend Cathy McDavid during a Friday night chat. I met wannabe writers like Terry Fowler, Lynn Coleman, and Cathy Marie Hake (all published now). And, I found out I wasn’t alone. I really needed to find this out because I was such a novice that even though I, on my own, figured out I needed more specific names of files, I still didn’t know that I needed to double-space or that I needed to really figure out what I was trying to write. Along the way, I found RWA, joined my local chapter, got involved, and went to every meeting, workshop (both RWA sponsored and community college provided), and event I could find.

It worked.

I sold in 1998, and my first book It Only Takes A Spark came out in 1999. Here’s the funny on that book. I was doing everything right. I was becoming an expert on writing. Happily I’m moving along, entering contests (not winning. I actually tried to enter the Golden Heart. My manuscript came back with three WCs) making charts for my hero and heroine (okay, I’d start the charts but never finish, I’m really a SOTP’s writer), keeping track of who and where I’d sent the manuscript, etc… Well, you get the idea, and one day I went to church and I mentioned to an acquaintance that I was trying to sell a book. She responded, “Oh, I just sold a book.” AND SHE WAS TELLING THE TRUTH.

She’d sold the first book she’d ever written, to a publisher I’d never heard of, and she’d sent off the manuscript without the perforated pages separated! (You remember the early printers. You had to fit the circles onto pegs and then it fed through, and then you had to tear the sheets. You got it. She was afraid to tear the sheets less a page get lost). Laugh if you will, she sold.

I started investigating her publisher. Still, me, who followed all the rules, took another year to sell. She kept selling .

Before I published, I entered two contests: the Golden Heart and the Fabulous Five. The Golden Heart labeled me as being in the wrong category (they were right, my vampire hero wasn’t even in chapters 1 – 3!) the Fab Five contest sent me a list of entries and how everyone fared. It was three pages long. I was on page two. I figured I was average.

Last year, I started entering contests again. It had probably been eight years since I’d tried. But, being a lover of catch phrases, I kept thinking about the lottery commercial (no, I don’t play the lottery.) It goes like this: You can’t win if you don’t play. I entered a 2006 novella. Let’s just say, “I was the weakest link: goodbye.”

If you’re chuckling about my beginning – files labeled by MY name, single-spaced manuscripts actually sent in an outline instead of synopsis, friend who sold first book on still connected perforated paper – also chuckle because I never gave up. It’s more than a decade later and I have two prayer books, nine novellas, and five novels.

And finally, I’m a finalist in a contest! Yup. How does it feel? Like, I'm driving to work and dodging traffic, coming to a standstill (I live in Phoenix , third largest city in the U.S.A) and suddenly I remember... I'm a RITA® finalist.

Like, I'm eating dinner, talking to my husband, trying to get my three-year-old to behave (Yes, I have an active child), and suddenly I remember... I should have ordered a salad. I have to buy a dress - hopefully in a smaller size - because I'm a RITA® finalist.

Like, I'm standing with friends, all of whom know I'm a writer but none of whom really understand the world (think church or work friends, seems all other friends ARE writers) and they ask what's new. I mention the puppet show I’m doing for Children's Bible Time, I mention the end of school, I mention our second go-round trying to get Mikey interested in Pottytraining, and I mention (and have to explain what it is) the RITA®. And, I remember... I am a RITA® finalist.

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®.

I am humbled by the nomination. I've always called Pursuit of Justice my lucky book. I started it about six years ago. And, every time I tried to work on it, I sold something (a novella, a prayer book, etc). Finally, when I got Steve Laube as my agent, he took the first three chapters and sold it, and I finally got to finish the thing!

Now you know all about my writing life! It’s the best life


Sandra Leesmith said...

Good morning Pamela and Seeker friends, I;m sorry about the size of the print on Pamela's post. I'm new at this and didn't realize that would happen. Get your magnifying glasses out because Pamela is a hoot. You'll enjoy her wit and charm.

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Pamela! Thanks for the fun, inspiring post! I enjoyed reading your journey. I write for Love Inspired Historical so that makes us related, right? Congratulations on your Rita final!! Wow! You're living my dream.

I've brought a pot of coffee, nothing fancy, the wake-up without calories brew that I favor this time of the morning. I'm serving it up in dainty china cups. They're all different so you won't forget which is yours.


Julie Lessman said...

Hi Pamela -- loved your post because it's so nice to wake up and chuckle! Welcome to Seekerville -- we are privileged to have you here, especially given the humorous encouragement of your post. I guess we all start out knowing "nothing," some more than others, I suppose, but when that nothing eventually leads to success, what an inspiration!

Your "Rita" moments are hysterical, and I can imagine that that is exactly how it must be!! WOW -- congrats to you on such an amazing accomplishment!


Jessica said...

It's so wonderful to hear about an author's writing experiences. Congrats on the Rita, that is incredible!
And you're so blessed to have Steve Laube. I met him at a conference and thought he was great!

Myra Johnson said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Pamela, and congratulations on being a RITA finalist!

I am old enough to remember "Hogan's Heroes." I also "knew nothing" when I started writing seriously 25 years ago. ICL's children's writing course; memberships in SCBWI, ACFW, RWA; contests; critique groups; plus spending tons on writers magazines and craft books -- all have contributed to what I do know now, and I'm still learning. I don't think it ever ends!

Mary Connealy said...

Pamela, CONTRATULATIONS! So sweet to be nominated.

Your journey is just classic. Knowing nothing...I'd never heard of RWA. It's been writing two years before I heard of such a thing.

Learning step by painful step. Getting enough published to keep your hopes up.

Great, fun post. I can tell you're a good writer because I felt what you wanted me to feel, your absolute delight. Thanks for being part of Seekerville today.

Ann said...

I surely enjoy reading about others' journeys. I'm thankful for the internet allowing that kind of sharing.

As far as the dot-matrix printer -- I remember how thrilled I was to boot up my KayPro, feed it 5 inch floppies one at at time to get it started, stare into that little 6-inch square screen of green letters on black ... and write, write, write ... :-) I think those fastened together manuscripts are in box somewhere in the basement.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

What an amazing story, Pamela! Congratulations on finalling in the Rita! At least here, we all know what that is.

As I was reading your post, your humorous quips reminded me so much of Mary Connealy. Are you two related?

Pam Hillman said...

Oh, Pamela, I can so relate!
When I first started writing seriously, I didn’t have the internet, or any connection with other writers.

I’m pretty sure I formatted my first attempts at writing just like the pages are formatted in real books. Obviously, that was the way publishers wanted them, right?

Tell us what Pursuit of Justice is about, Pamela. I loved hearing your story and how you grew as an author over the years.

And…mega CONGRATS on finalling in the RITA! That is awesome!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Pamela, congratulations! Honey, if you're gonna' pick a race to final in, the RITA would be it! Good job.

Delightful post. And I love that you're managing to put this all into perspective. A great lesson there. But you cling to those moments of remembrance, no matter what happens, because it's not easy to find a seat in that part of the bus, girlfriend! Hold those happy moments tight...

And Janet, the coffee's cold, darling. Not that I'm complaining, but if you're going to serve cold coffee, we might as well have frappes, don't you think?

And where is that Squirl with the food?????

Oy vay, these girls!

Pam, you entertain our guests while we scrounge up something from the beggar's kitchen.


Melanie Dickerson said...

Congratulations on your final, Tracy! It must feel so good!

I totally curious about this friend of yours who sold her very first book on still-attached perforated paper. Say what? Was it a legitimate publisher?

Okay, on second thought, I'm not sure I really do want to know. The stories where people sell without any angst or effort? Don't like to hear about those.

Pam Hillman said...

What do you want me to do, Ruthy? Sing? Dance on the tabletops?

Oh... I know, I'll recite poetry...


Once there was an author,
who lived on a hill.
She typed and she typed,
all to no avail.

( do you spell avail? that doesn't look right...oh well...)

For Pete's sake,
even contests entered
were not sufficient
for a contract rendered!

Then one day
THE CALL came in.
Oh joy, oh joy,
another career began!

Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you.

You may be seated now.

Patricia W. said...

Hi Pamela! Congratulations on being a RITA finalist.

I can't believe you mentioned dot matrix printers and perforated paper. I'm increasingly surprised at the average age of today's authors. Ssssshhhhh! Somethings are better kept to ourselves. LOL!

Missy Tippens said...

Welcome, Pamela! We met at National last year. (At least I think that's where it was.) It's great to see you again! :)

I love your story about the Rita! That's my dream. I held Tammy Alexander's statue in my hand last year and about drooled on it. Would love to hold my own!! I might actually dust the mantle off for something so gorgeous (and heavy!). :)


Missy Tippens said...

Oops! Meant to say congrats on the RITA first thing. Then I got caught up in imaginging being a finalist myself. LOL



Myra Johnson said...

Ann!!! My first computer was a Kaypro, too! Finally, someone who can relate! Did you use WordStar? I had a gigantic daisy-wheel printer. Just looooooved ripping the edges off those tractor-feed pages!

Mary Connealy said...

Eileen, for heaven's sake. Don't ask if she's related to me. Now Pamela is crying and no longer able to reply to comments.

Pull yourself together, Pamela. If you can survive rejections you can survive this.

Oddly enough, my children have this same reaction when someone tells them they look like me. Poor babies.

Mary Connealy said...

those 'I Got My Very First Book' published people make it harder for all of us Melanie.

Just avert your eyes.

I've got a killer headache. I had dental work this morning.

Such a strange situation. A person stabs you in the mouth with needles, then drills away with tools that officially qualify as torture in the movies. Then you stagger out of the building and on your way out they say, "Oh wait, we need a check for $600 first."

Isn't getting to torture me payment enough??? C'mon people.

Mary Connealy said...

My very first computer had...NO MEMORY.

If you turned your machine off, when you turned it back on you had to start all over.

So you had to save everything to floppy disks and load it every time.
I think the floppy held about ten pages worth of writing too. So I needed a floppy for every chapter or two, so a book took up a case of floppies.

The good old days.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Ruthy, I'm coming. I just returned from Bible Study and stopped at Sunflower Market. They have the most delicious and sinful bakery. Well they call the goodies healthy and they are, but still cream filled pastries even if organic are SINFUL. yeah!!!1

The pot of coffee may be gone but its never too late for pastries.

What a hoot about those first submission stories. Before I ran into RWA and other writers I was going by submission guidelines which said "no multiple submissions and send a sample chapter" I thought that meant don't send them more than one book at a time so I sent several publishers the same book and I sent chapter one to one publisher, chapter two to another publisher, chapter three to another, etc.

Myra Johnson said...

Oh, Sandra, you are too funny! Pass me a pastry. Cream cheese if you have one. I'll just go put on another pot of coffee.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Thanks Myra, I could use a cup of fresh coffee. And the pastries are cream cheese filled. Remember they are made with organic ingredients so healthy. Calories don't count don't you know?

Missy Tippens said...

Sandra, you did NOT!!! That's hilarious!!!!!!! :)

Did you change your name before you submitted again. LOL!


Ann said...

Myra ... now that you mention it, WordStar sure sounds famililar. Somewhere I have all those boot disks, just in case I need the KayPro again!

Tina M. Russo said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Pamela.

And wow, congrats on being a finalist in the RITA!!

Actually I remember you from the Desert Dreams conference of I think 2002 or something. :)

Camy Tang said...

Thanks for being here, Pamela! It's funny, I just read your book! Congrats on the RITA final!

PamelaTracy said...

And now I'm embarrassed by how long it's taken me to get to read the posts and answer. I had an all day workshop at work: 8:30 - 5:00. There was an accident on the freeway:Phoenix is the third largest city now. I actually take two freeways to get home! Got home and husband said, Okay, we'll go out to eat. He went in his car; I went in mine. Finished eating and took my son to church,which is why we took two cars. Got home, gave baby a bath, and finally could come to the computer, but no the phone rang, for husband, and by that time Mikey only wanted me: I am so blessed having a three year old who only wants me.

PamelaTracy said...

Now, on to all the other questions.

Mary, it's an honor to be compared to you. I wish I'd thought of Petticoat Ranch first! I look forward to meeting you in person.

PamelaTracy said...

Of course we're sisters. You get to be the pretty and thin one! I love historicals. I remember one time going into a bookstore, back when they were IN the malls - showing my age again - and asking the bookstore owner for an historical with a teacher. She handed me Lavyrl Spencer's Years. I read it, turned around and read it again, and then a third time. Wow. Thanks for the coffee. I'm discreetly handing it to Sandra and pouring Diet Dr. Pepper in instead. You'll never know.

PamelaTracy said...

Random responses:
Steve Laube is wonderful.

Yes, the author who sold via the perforated pages sold to a traditional press and has won many kudoes over the years. We all make those mistakes and it's a good thing editors realize this. LOL

I wrote my first novel with Ami Pro, which I don't believe exists anymore, and I loved it dearly. Still miss it.

PamelaTracy said...

Pursuit of Justice is about a woman whose brother dies of an overdose. She, an emergency nurse, gets the opportunity to help an undercover agent fight the drug wars and winds up witnessing a murder. A murder that neither the criminals nor the police want solved. She goes on the run.
The hero, of course, is a cop who someone missed the memo that this crime needs to be buried. I titled it The Good, The Bad, and the Romantic. Love Inspired changed it to Pursuit of Justice.

PamelaTracy said...

I remember you, and so look forward to seeing you at Nationals again! And everyone else. Please stop me in the hallway, sit with me, make friends. Sandra and I are neighbors. She can attest that I only bite on Thursday and do shower at least once a week. What else do you need or want in a friend?

PamelaTracy said...

Do you live near Phoenix. Hmmm, if it was Desert Dreams 2002, that was my conference. My sister in law and I were the chairs. You definitely had to see me, I had to do a lot of public speaking. Ack.

I just got your book, and I've had your chopsticks forever. I can hardly wait to read it and use them. You're doing a great job with the contest.

Ausjenny said...

great post and congrats on finalling in the Rita's

Missy Tippens said...

Hey, another Diet Dr. Pepper fan!! :)

I just stocked up today. Buy 4 twelve-packs (for $11 no less!), and get one free. :)

My hubby said, "Man, I sure hope you don't pick right now to burn out on Diet. Dr!" :)


Missy Tippens said...

testing, testing. Tina's server something-or-another keeps trying to ask me for a password as I'm posting. Weird.

Ausjenny said...

Missy im glad you said that cos i thought my computer had gone mad yet again.

PamelaTracy said...

Thanks for the congrats!

I always stock up on Diet DP when it's on sale. I'm drinking one right now

Cheryl Wyatt said...

It was a pleasure to meet you at RWA and get to know you a bit...and this post absolutely cracked me up! You are truly fun to know. Thanks for coming to Seekerville!

Cheryl Wyatt