Monday, February 14, 2011

Interview With Harlequin American Author, Pamela Stone

Before we hear all about my guest today, I want to announce that my interview with Deborah Nemeth, acquiring mystery/suspense/thriller editor for Carina Press will be posted on Friday. And she's going to take the first fifty online pitches, so get those polished.

Now, please give a rousing Valentine's Day welcome to my good friend and fellow chaptermate, Pamela Stone. Pamela is talking about her newest release from Harlequin American, Second Chance Dad. She's giving away a copy of this fabulous book to one lucky commenter, and she's even throwing in a copy of her first release, Last Resort: Marriage, to another. You can read all about her before I put her in the hot seat.

Pamela Stone has spent twenty five years in the technology field before becoming a romance writer. She is an only child whose classy mom put her energy into wardrobe, dance, and piano lessons. Add an amazing father who added go kart racing, slot cars, water skiing, and a pony to the mix. Toss in a wild imagination and summers in the country: lazy walks on her grandparent’s farm and another grandmother with a shed full of Harlequin romance novels to while away hot afternoons and voila you have Pamela.

Writing is pure escapism. Childhood imaginary friends developed into teenage fantasies. Later as a mother of two young sons, she began writing to keep in touch with the adult world; at least it was worth a shot. She continued writing as a method to wind down in the evenings from long, exhausting days spent in Corporate America. Anybody notice a pattern here? Not enough adult socialization – write. People overload – write. Either way, she claims that writing keeps her sane. Cheaper than a therapist and tons more fun.

She still resides in Texas with her childhood sweetheart and husband of; well we won’t mention how many years. In her spare time she enjoys traveling. From Hawaii, to California, to Florida, to the Caribbean, if there’s a beach, she’s there. She also loves spending time with friends and family, especially four adorable grandkids.

LIZ: First off, let’s talk about you as a writer, when did you start believing you really could write?

PAM: As far back as I can remember I’ve made up stories in my mind. Doesn’t everybody have people talking in their heads? Maybe that goes along with being an only child. But I never thought about putting them on paper until my boys were babies. I was reading voraciously, but my own imagination kept getting in the way and taking off on tangents from what I was reading. Even then it took years before I got the courage to actually join RWA and go to my first meeting. I believe that was in 1998 when both my boys decided to join the Army six weeks apart and I was trying desperately to find any way to keep my mind off worrying about them.

LIZ: Can you tell us about “The Call” for your first book?

PAM: Believe it or not I got the call on Friday the 13th, June 2008. Friday the 13th is now my lucky day. I work from home and I was sitting at my desk engrossed in my job when the phone rang. The woman told me her name and still in work mode, my mind started flipping through my virtual index. One of my customers at the bank? One of the engineers I’d been trying to reach? The name was familiar. But it wasn’t until she said the words, “I’d like to buy Last Resort: Marriage.” that my brain kicked in. I didn’t scream or yell, in fact I couldn’t speak at all for a few seconds. To this day, I’m not sure what I said, but I remember her asking if I’d like her to call me back later. She said it takes some people a few days for the reality to kick in and to think about what questions they might have. I told her no that patience was not one of my virtues. Then we laughed and I was able to carry on a conversation.

LIZ: What about your writing schedule? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

PAM: Oh, I’m a pantser who my critique partner is trying diligently to reform. I am learning to plot more these days, but I am character driven. We joke that she knows exactly what her characters are going to do, she just doesn’t know why. Me – I know exactly why my characters do what they do, they just don’t do much.

Since I still work a demanding day job, I don’t have as much time to write as I’d like. When working on a deadline, I typically wake up at 6:30 when my husband’s alarm goes off and write for an hour before showering and signing into the day job. I also spend a couple hours each evening writing. Usually 9PM – 11PM after dinner and chores when the house settles down.

LIZ: Now on to your book. Today is Valentine’s Day and what a wonderful time to be talking about this tender love story. Second Chance Dad is the heart-warming story of two single parents, both struggling with the trials of raising pre-teen children and carrying emotional baggage of their own. My question - how did you come up with this story line?

PAM: Typically my stories are a compilation of some special place I’ve visited and characters I can picture living there. The Texas Hill Country is such a tranquil, beautiful part of Texas, I always wanted to set a book there. I enjoy writing children, although these are the youngest kids I’ve written. Having my own kids and now the grandkids, they fascinate me. I wanted to tackle a blended family story as that is something I’d never written. And given that it was a small town, I also tossed in the small town grapevine that always amused me when I was at my grandmother’s house. So with the exception of the blended family, Second Chance Dad is a compilation of elements from my own life with a little humor thrown in.

LIZ: I couldn’t help falling in love with your characters. Both Hanna and Vince made me care about them immediately, especially Vince who is trying to raise a daughter just on the cusp of becoming a woman. Be honest. Is he the favorite male character you’ve ever written?

PAM: Giggle. Whatever book I’m writing, I tend to think that the hero is my favorite. I think if I’m not in love with them, a reader won’t be either. But yes, Vince is definitely a favorite. I was very close to my own dad growing up and there is a lot of Daddy’s dry wit and common sense approach to parenting in Vince. I love the way he raised his daughter, but also the way he stepped in with the heroine’s son, even when she wasn’t too thrilled with him doing so. Which added some interesting conflict.

LIZ: Ah...tubing down the Guadalupe...I love that Vince, Hanna and the kids did this. It brings back memories of my San Antonio days. Is this something you like to do in your leisure time?

PAM: I love anything that involves water. I’ve spent some time floating in an inner tube, but I’ve never had the opportunity to actually tube down the Guadalupe River. It is on my To Do list though. I grew up water skiing and swimming. I’m a beach person who likes to body surf. Just take me to a beach and I’m in Heaven. Even if it’s too cold to swim, I can just sit and listen to the surf for hours.

LIZ: And the wonderfully romantic Riverwalk in San Antonio with the fajitas, margaritas and Mariachi bands was the perfect place for their love affair to blossom. Is this also something you and Mr. Stone like to do on a romantic getaway?

PAM: We love San Antonio. Love the food and the riverboats. I have no idea how many times he’s insisted we tour the Alamo. It was fun the first time, or maybe two. But Robert is into Texas History. The last time we went, he’d found a ‘Good For’ token from an old San Antonio saloon when he was metal detecting. So we had to go there and eat and have a beer. Many of our weekend excursions are based on some token he finds or story he reads.

LIZ: What are you working on now and when can we expect the next book?

PAM: I haven’t officially sold any other books, but my editor does have a proposal for a trilogy set on the Florida coast. It’s three stories that all take place in a rented beach house on Barefoot Beach. In addition to the three love stories, I hope to unfold the story of the couple who built the house after WWII, little by little through each of the three books, using a guest registry and pictures kept at the beach house. The house now belongs to their grandson, the hero of the third book.

LIZ: We’d love to see an excerpt from Second Chance Dad.

Slowly, Vince approached Hanna as she straightened a shelf of knick-knacks, putting them back in the exact same place they were before she started.

The corners of her bow shaped mouth turned down. “Thanks for the lovely compliment, Vince. But...that kiss Saturday night was...a mistake.”

“I don’t see it that way.” He moved in closer and wrapped one of her silky brunette curls around his finger. “As hard as I’ve tried to stay away this week, to not rush things, I couldn’t stop thinking about you. We have something here and you know it.”

She leaned her face into his caress. “Yeah, but we’re at different places.”

Leaning in, he brought his lips within a hair’s breadth of hers. “I think we’re at the exact same place. I’ve just been here a little longer.”

Her gorgeous brown eyes searched his for a long moment, then fluttered closed. “Convince me.”

He followed her as she leaned against the wall, then cupped her face and took her mouth for a slow, sensuous kiss. “We’re both single parents.” His lips traveled down her jaw to nuzzle her neck, just where it curved into her shoulder.

She sighed. “Um hmm.” Her tongue touched her lips and her eyes remained closed, long lashes dark against her creamy complexion.

“Both our lives center around our kids and they get along.” He slipped a hand behind her neck and nibbled her ear, breathing in her faint perfume. His other hand glided lower to her bottom.

“True.” Her husky voice sounded breathless as she arched her back and pressed against him.

“But as much as we love our kids, we both need adult companionship.” He adjusted his position so they were touching full length and covered her mouth again, deepening the kiss.

She tilted her head back and threaded her fingers through the hair at the nape of his neck. “You’re a romantic sort. Direct and to the point.”

He slid one hand beneath her shirt and up her torso to cup her breast. “Gotta be specific about what you want or you end up with a green tie with a dopey looking Santa on it for Christmas.”

A smile curved her lips and her eyes slowly opened. “Or a new Hoover vacuum with all those snazzy attachments that nobody uses. Figuratively speaking, of course.”

Vince winced. “Hope he slept on the figurative sofa that night.”


Kari Lee Townsend said...

Great interview Liz and Pam. Your book sounds so sweet and romantic, I can't wait to read it.

Pamela Stone said...

Thanks, Kari. It's great to be here. It was a fun little book to write.

Cassy Pickard said...

Pam: Thanks for joining us on M&M! Your book sounds fun and sexy--great combination. I'm impressed with your schedule and what you get accomplished. Not easy to do. Please keep us posted. We love to hear about great stories and new projects.

Liz: Perfect post for Valentine's Day!

Pamela Stone said...

Thanks Cassy. It's great to be here on this foggy Texas Valentine's morning. Some days I think that I must be one of those women who wants it all and hasn't yet discovered that even if I can have it all, I can't have it all at the same time. Other days I don't have time to think at all. Ha!

Liz Lipperman said...

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone. Good morning, Pam. I really do love your characters and wish a sequel was in the works.

My question is about your writing process. How long does it usually take from plot idea to finished manuscript for you?

I'm on my way out the door to get the splints off my fingers, hopefully, so I'll check in this afternoon.

Come on folks, pick her brain about anything.

Donna Cummings said...

Lovely interview. :) And it sounds like a wonderful book. I like the description of the beach house trilogy, so I'll keep my fingers crossed that it gets sold soon. :)

Pamela Stone said...

Thanks, Liz. Hope all goes well getting the splint off. Wow, timeline. Typically characters live in my head while I get to know them. There are so many up there, who knows when one particular set meshes. But after I know my characters well enough, I get with my critique partners and plot it out since plotting is not my forte. That takes 2 - 4 hours. Next step is to take our bullets and write the book. I wrote Second Chance Dad in a couple months, but it takes another couple to polish chapter by chapter.

Donna, thanks for the positive feedback. I'm excited about the beach house trilogy too, building my little community of characters. Fingers crossed that it sells.

Juliet Burns said...

As her proud Critique partner I wanted to point out to everyone that Romantic Times gave this book4.5 stars AND named it a TOP PICK!
aND IT'S WELL-DESERVED. Pam has a way of writing men and kids that is so authentic, so crips and clever , she makes you believe these epople are real and standing right in your living room.

Anonymous said...

Happy Valentine's Day, Liz and Pam,

Pam, enjoyed the excerpt from your latest book. I hope the 3 book proposal sells, it sounds fabulous!

Good Luck,

Pam Phillips

Lindsay said...

Pam, according to Juliet you have a way of writing men and children. Is there really much difference between the two.

Vicki Batman said...

Hi, Pam and Liz and Happy Valentine's Day!

The exerpt is wonderful, Pam. Congratulations on this new book.

Pamela Stone said...

Pam and Vicki, thanks for stopping by. I can't believe Second Chance Dad is finally about to hit the shelves. Maybe next I'll get to return to my beach writing with the trilogy.

Juliet, I know you're on an extremely tight deadline. Everyone, meet the plotter of our group. My characters would wander around aimlessly without Juliet. Writing as Jillian Burns, she has a March Blaze coming out, Primal Calling. With all that sizzle, I hope there is still ice and snow left in Alaska this summer when I finally get there.

Lindsay, on writing guys. I love the simplicity of it. They don't go on and on with emotional conversations or even thoughts like women do, yet they do have depth. I was a daddy's girl, have been married for years, and raised two boys. My granddaughter is the one who throws me.

Buddy scenes are my favorite. I love buddy movies too, btw. Just ask my CPs about taking me to see girlfriend type movies. I don't handle it well. I also work in a very male dominated group. My CPs call me the group's token male.

Lindsay said...

I'll agree with that guys are simple to write.

Anita Clenney said...

Great interview. Your childhood sounds like so much fun. I love hearing how authors got started writing. And I so admire anyone who can work another job and write. Congratulations on the release of Second Chance Dad, and good luck on the proposal.

Mary Martinez said...

Pam, Thank you for visiting the M&M's today. What a great interview you two did.

Your book sounds yummy!

Pamela Stone said...

Hi Lindsay, it's always nice to meet others who enjoy writing males. Makes me feel a little less strange.

Anita, thanks for the good words. I'm not sure right now whether trying to write and work the day job is smart or not, but for now I certainly can't afford to quit. Maybe one of these days. I need a few of those carefree days on my grandparents' old farm.

Lindsay said...

Of course I like writing guys. It's you women that are hard. Why do you think I gave up romance for mystery. Womens emotions in mystery I think are so much easier-hurt my man and your dead

Pamela Stone said...

Lindsay, you made me laugh. You are soooo on target.

Liz Lipperman said...

It was great having Pam here with us today. As promised, she will be sending a copy of Second Chance Dad to .....drum roll....Lindsay Downs.

And a copy of her first book will go to ...Vicki Batman.

Congrats to the lucky winners.