I'm thrilled to welcome Pamela Fagan Hutchins, a USA Today bestseller, repeat top 100 Kindle author, repeat top 25 Kindle bestseller, and winner of the 2017 Silver Falchion Best Mystery. She knows a thing or two about writing books that readers love, and how to market them (more about that in her bio). Today, she's sharing her writing journey, which includes over half a dozen multi-book series, a children's book, and nonfiction to boot.
My Mother is Always Right
|Pamela and friend.|
When I first started writing romantic mysteries, I was influenced by the reading tastes of my mother and my grandmothers. I'd call those early ones PG-13 rated, with substitutes for cursing, and closed bedroom doors, and my mom circling any offenses I missed in the draft versions.
We continued like this. None of it was surprising. Then I wrote as if my life depended on it. Or as if his did. It became an allegory for life continuation (with love and help of family). The series—Patrick Flint— and book—SWITCHBACK—were intended to be a one-off, never published. A family-friendly action-adventure, suspense-thriller, 1970's Wyoming family drama mystery. Yeah, all of that.
Then I got an itch to be edgier. Like when I was the good girl in high school. Like when I did some modeling and was pigeon-holed as the "girl next door" instead of the rocker chick I wanted to be.
I wrote some R-rated books. I tossed around F-bombs and threw open bedroom doors. I put disclaimers in the descriptions. "Foul-mouthed and earthy." "Sexy and broken." And, they didn't do as well as my earlier books had. In fact, I literally got an email from a reader (who had ignored my disclaimers) that read, "Shame on you, Pamela. That language!"
It turned out I had established a core group of readers from my first book, and that core appreciated the safety of the worlds I created. Fine—I understood that. But where did it leave me?
I throttled back and started writing a less-edgy book. Halfway through, my dad was diagnosed with cancer and given 3 months to live. I was devastated. As a writer, I pour my feelings out on the page every day. So, I put the novel I writing down and started a new one. One for my dad, featuring him and the rest of our family as protagonists during a happy part of his life.
First, though, I explained to him that he was totally protagonist material, and I verified the type of book he would like to read and wouldn't mind starring in.
"Hopeful," he said.
"Got it." I typed notes as he spoke.
"No serial killers or pedophiles glorified on the page."
"I want wilderness and adventure and mystery and suspense, but no protagonists who are unlikable. "Flaws, yes. but a good person."
"Got it." I smiled.
|Mom & Dad in Wyoming|
It was published. With some lucky breaks, it sold, well, a lot of copies.
It didn't hurt that I took over all my own advertising and went for broke on investing in promotion.
And what people loved about the books? The things my dad had requested. The things I'd originally done with books "for my mom."
I just published my 5th Patrick Flint novel.
And my dad just celebrated 24 months since he was given 3 months to live.
Don't you love it when your parents are right?
Pamela Fagan Hutchins resides in the frozen north of Snowheresville, Wyoming, where she runs an off-the-grid lodge with her husband on the face of the Bighorn Mountains. She has a passion for winter sports, long hikes, and trail rides with their giant horses and pack of rescue dogs. She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound (if she gets a good running-start). A big fan of what she calls, smart authorpreneurship, Pamela teaches writers the ins and outs of marketing in her virtual retreats. Next up: Advertising and Promotion Success, April 27-29, 2021.