I’m happy to introduce a writing friend, Pam Crooks. We met while contributing stories to a couple of multi-author series–one is the newly launched “Bachelors & Babies” series.
Tell us a bit about you and your background.
I grew up in the ranch country of western Nebraska. Cowboys and pickup trucks were everywhere, and though I was a city girl through and through, those cowboys were thrilling. My husband and I had four daughters before we moved to Omaha, and it was here where I discovered a writer’s group, Romance Authors of the Heartland. Without RWA, I wonder if I’d be published today.
I’ve been a writer forever. I (like many other readers) read Kathleen Woodiwiss’ The Flame and the Flower, and I was hooked. Back then, we didn’t have computers, and I typed out my story on a Smith-Corona electric typewriter, which was a birthday gift from my husband. I was in heaven! Imagine my delight a few years later when my brother gave me his cast-off Apple computer. Oh, my goodness. No more correction tape or White-Out. Now THAT was heaven!
It took me nine years to make my first sale to Leisure Books, but when I did, the sales kept coming. After four books with them, I got picked up by Harlequin Historicals and wrote ten more. By then, they were having some distribution troubles, and the self-publishing phenomena hit. I jumped on the band wagon with a few more titles, and well, the rest is history.
In 2019, I released three titles, two self-pubbed historicals and one contemporary with Tule Publishing. I have come to love multi-author groups like Bachelors and Babies! TRACE is my 23rd book, and it’s been quite a joyride.
Is your writing style planned or freestyle?
It’s a little bit of both. I have to have a framework (doesn’t everyone?) with hero and heroine, their conflict and goals. I love making them as opposite as I can since it makes the story writing easier (yeah, right). But other than that, I am very much a pantster. No matter how much I try to pre-plot, my brain goes in a different direction while I’m writing, and admittedly, a better one.
If you use music while writing, name your favorite types.
I do use music. It has to be instrumental, otherwise I’d sing along with the artist and that’d be a huge distraction. Ha! Piano, flute, guitar, or harp are my favorites. Top of the list, though, are Gregorian Chants. So soothing.
Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?
My tip has to be my critique group and brainstorming verbally with them around my dining room table. It’s that give and take, a lively and spirited discussion, that really gets my juices going. After all these years, brainstorming is still my favorite part of writing.
Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).
I’m retired. My brain can’t focus on writing until I get my daily slate cleared. That means breakfast eaten, bed made, bathroom tidied, dog walked. I have to finish email and some computer work, too. By then, it’s usually late morning, and I finally get myself in front of the computer. I stop for lunch with my husband and then take a brisk walk. Inhaling deeply while I walk is miraculous and amazing. I can then sit at my computer again and really focus.
I use a calendar to plot out my weekly page goals. I do a minimum of three pages a day, and if I don’t make the three pages one day, then the shortage gets tacked onto the next day. Good incentive!
What’s your dream vacation destination?
Europe. Specifically, Italy. My grandparents immigrated from there, so the country’s influence has been a strong part of my childhood. I hope to get there soon. Fingers crossed!
Do you use visual aids (storyboards, Pinterest, collages) when plotting or writing?
I am VERY visual. Pinterest is my salvation. Very inspiring and just plain helpful. And like I mentioned above, I need to see how many pages I’m accomplishing, too. Writing them down on paper makes me feel like I’m actually accomplishing something.
Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?
I wouldn’t call myself a pet person, but when my husband and I retired (a few months apart), I wanted a puppy to give a layer of purpose to our days. We got a purebred Golden Retriever named Louie. He lights up our days, keeps us walking, gives us something to talk about and take care of, and he is just a joy. (Notice I didn’t say I enjoy the dog hair, cleaning up the backyard or his barking, but oh, well.) I wouldn’t say the puppy stage is easy, but he’s almost three years old now and mellowing. Very smart and very sweet. I can’t imagine my life without him!
Trace McQuade has lost everything–his ranch, his brother, and the woman he wanted to marry. When his quest for justice fails, he leaves Texas to head north, but he never expects to gain an outlaw’s baby along the way.
Morgana Goldwater needs to be needed. After she endured a terrible tragedy, she lives in a narrow, protected world. When Trace needs help caring for the baby girl, she is quick to take them both into her heart and into her life.
But their troubles return, and Trace and Morgana must face their past to keep loving the little girl–and each other–in their future.
SNIPPET FROM REVIEW
5 stars–“Awesome book. I couldn’t put it down till I finished it. Now I have to wait another month for the next one to come out… great job, Pam.”
Amazon (free in Kindle Unlimited)
If the basket held a tangle of rattlesnakes, Trace couldn’t have been more apprehensive looking inside.
Sure enough, there was a baby lying there, sleeping, with one miniature fist curled next to her cheek. She wasn’t much more than four or five months old. She had more hair than most, at least from other babies Trace had seen. Dark, with ends that curled over her ears and temple.
Slick-Shot had curly hair, too.
The knowledge churned inside Trace. Cruel twist of fate the man’s bastard daughter had been forced upon him. Wasn’t it enough the outlaw had stolen the woman Trace once loved, and worse, shot and killed Robbie? Who wouldn’t be angry over it? Who wouldn’t try to refuse?
Trace wallowed in a thick pool of righteous indignation, for sure, but the longer he stood there, the harder it got to pull his stare off the infant. He couldn’t see much of Emma in her, but that part might come out later. Too early to tell what kind of woman she’d be, too. If she’d have her father’s inclination for crime or if she’d take on a more lawful frame of mind.
Regardless, the baby was innocent of her father’s murdering ways and Emma’s poor decision-making. A miniature human being that, through no choice of her own, now depended wholly and completely on a stranger—on Trace—for survival.
He blew out a breath from the immensity of it.
But he’d not be beholden to this child just because Emma wanted him to be. Trace had plans, Nebraska plans, and none of them included taking care of an outlaw’s baby.
He just had to get through tonight, that’s all.
Tomorrow, he’d make arrangements. Whatever he needed to do for the baby’s best interests—and his own.
His mood lifted. Careful not to jar the child into waking, he cradled the basket and knapsack in his arm and entered the cabin, easing the door into a quiet latch behind him. He managed to set the basket onto his bed with little more than a faint stirring from the baby, then went for the knapsack, hoping its contents would make caring for a child easy and quick.
Not surprisingly, the bag yielded several sleeping gowns, diapers, a can of condensed milk, a contraption for a feeding bottle and a letter.
Taking it, he ripped open the envelope, unfolded the paper and read the feminine handwriting:
You took care of me once, now I’m asking you to take care of my daughter. Her name is Harriett, and she was born on January 28, 1881.
There’s no one I trust more than you.
Trace’s lip curled. She might as well be standing right beside him, speaking the words in her Texas drawl. It was just like her to expect such a thing from him, too, taking on the care of her daughter as if the girl was a geranium in a pot, needing only watering now and then. Trace could imagine her lashes fluttering, her smile coy, cajoling his promise to do what she wanted. As if he had nothing else to do with his life.
Until he remembered how she’d suffered because of him. A physical pain that would’ve paled compared to the knowledge she wouldn’t live to see her baby daughter grow up. The prospect of leaving her behind, of forcing her into the care of a stranger, well, hell. Trace couldn’t think of anything worse.
Emotion welled up in his chest. He owed Emma, for sure. He’d take care of Harriett as long as he could. Until he found someone better capable and more deserving.
Emma trusted him to do at least that.
A whimper intruded into his thoughts. He tossed the letter aside and strode back to the wicker basket. Seeing him, Harriett suddenly quieted. Her dark eyes fastened onto him and rounded.
Then, her little face scrunched, turned red, and she filled her lungs with a howl that reached to the rafters. The girl must’ve known Trace wasn’t familiar. Might be she was even afraid, and Trace scooped her up and put her to his shoulder to offer some comfort.
A wet diaper soaked into Trace’s shirt. Grimacing, he rummaged one-handed through the pillowcase stuffed at the foot of the basket for something dry to put between them, only to discover it held more diapers, just as wet and soiled with who knew what else, carrying a godawful smell that nearly felled him to his knees.
Trace stuffed it closed again and bolted toward fresher air. The howling grew to a fevered, shrieking pitch, and no matter how he patted and soothed and bounced, no matter how hard he tried to think of the best thing to do, he had no choice but to accept the cold, hard truth.
It was going to be a very long night.
While expecting her first child (more years back than she cares to count), Pam Crooks read her very first romance novel, and she’s been in love with them ever since. She grew up in the ranch country of western Nebraska, and it was inevitable she’d eventually write lots of books about cowboys. Pam still lives in Nebraska with her husband (who is not a cowboy), four married daughters and a whole slew of perfect grandchildren.
She’s a long-time member of RWA and RAH, her local chapter. Pam is also one of the founders of Petticoats & Pistols, a popular blogsite for western romance. She loves to cook, hang out at her lake cabin, and decorate birthday cakes for anyone who will let her.
To see more books Pam has written, visit www.pamcrooks.com
Or visit her author page on Amazon
Or check out her page on Bookbub
Instagram – @pamcrooks