Pamela Fagan Hutchins interview with David Alan Binder

posted Mar 28, 2017, 4:15 PM by David Alan Binder

Pamela Fagan Hutchins interview with David Alan Binder

 Bio from Amazon:     Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes overly long e-mails, the What Doesn't Kill You romantic mysteries, and (possibly) hilarious nonfiction.  Pamela is passionate about great writing and smart authorpreneurship as well as hiking with her hunky husband and pack of rescue dogs, riding her gigantic horses, experimenting with her Keurig, and traveling in the Bookmobile.

If you like Sandra Brown or Janet Evanovich for fiction or Erma Bombeck for nonfiction, you're going to love Pamela.

2016 WINNER USA Best Books Fiction: Cross Genre (Hell to Pay)
2015 WINNER USA Best Books Fiction: Cross Genre (Heaven to Betsy)
2014 FINALIST USA Best Books Fiction: Cross Genre (Going for Kona)
2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-Finalist (Finding Harmony)
2013 USA Best Books Business: Writing & Publishing (What Kind of Loser Indie Publishes)
2012 Houston Writers Guild Ghost Story (Leaving Annalise)
2012 USA Best Books Parenting/Divorce (How to Screw Up Your Kids)
2011 Houston Writers Guild Novel (Finding Harmony)
2010 Writers League of Texas Romance (Saving Grace)


1.     How do you pronounce your name (only answer if appropriate)? 

 PAM-uh-luh FAY-gun HUCH-ens


2.     Where are you currently living?


My husband and I split our time between Texas and Wyoming. Our Texas Hill Country place is called Nowheresville, and our Big Horn Mountains property in Wyoming we dubbed Snowheresville. Both of them are in the sticks, to accommodate our draft cross horses, donkeys, Spanish goats, and pack of rescue dogs (emotionally fragile Belgian Malinois Georgia, dumpster diving hound-Dobie Louise, and one-eyed Boston terrier Petey).


3.     What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?


Listen to my instincts, and know that it’s not done until my story partner says it is. I brainstorm with my husband, and he is my first reader. We don’t let anyone else see it until it’s the best I can make it with his input. That usually means writing a first draft and doing one comprehensive revision. [Yes, my guy’s awesome, and he’s really cute, too. DAB edit] We disagree a lot on plot issues, but we make each other think.


4.     What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?


I feel like I’m boring as mud, but some people find it interesting that I write outside. I have a writing tent with a fire pit on a hilltop in Nowheresville, as well as a screened porch for when I’m too lazy to walk the quarter-mile to the tent. At Snowheresville I plant myself on our wraparound porch. There’s not a bad view there, whether it’s of the mountains, the badlands, Lake DeSmet, or Little Piney River Valley. I dabble in voice recording drafts as well, because I love multitasking, and it allows me to walk the dogs (or horses, and the occasional goat or donkey tags along) or even just talk-my-book as I’m driving the mostly long and lonely interstates of Wyoming. I wrote the first drafts of my latest novel and my first novella entirely using dictation. I am writing my current novel, Bombshell, by typing again. The horses (Feathers, my husband’s big Shire gelding, and Katniss, my black Percheron mare) got the first advance read on Bombshell, accidentally. That or they just stuck their noses on my laptop screen because there was an apple in my lap. I prefer to think they are enthusiastic and discerning readers.


5.     Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?


a.     Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they located?


I’m an entrepreneur with a 20-year consulting business, so when I had three manuscripts out with three agents, my husband said, “STOP. You’re a control freak. You don’t want anyone calling the shots for your writing career. And if anyone can do this, we can.” So we did. And now our indie house SkipJack Publishing publishes other authors as well. It’s based between Houston and Austin, Texas in the winter, and between Sheridan and Buffalo, Wyoming in the summer. Life is good, baby.


6.     Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?


To me, e-books are a no brainer. They’re easy to produce and have no incremental unit cost. Genre readers buy them like candy, too. But print books are essential because people still love to hold books in their hand. I find the question you didn’t ask here more interesting, though, and that is, “What about other formats?” One word: audio. It’s growing fast, it’s easy to access with digital downloads to phones or laptops, and it’s more affordable with the advent of Audible and their relationships with Amazon and Apple. Often you can find an e-book on sale for $5 or less and an “audio companion” for only $1.99 add-on that allows you to switch back and forth on a Kindle device or app between reading and being read to, with technology keeping your place for you. I find this genius. It allows me to listen when I need hands-free and read when audio isn’t an option. That translates to “audio for chores and exercise, read on my phone when my dang husband falls asleep an hour earlier than I can every night! (Did I mention multitasking is my thang???) When I do e-book discount promotions, my audio sales skyrocket.


Alternative v. conventional publishing: rebel, rebel. I love the control of alternative publishing. My novels, my relationship with my readers, my cover, my choice of editors to work with. My mistakes. You name it; I don’t have to ask permission. But many writers don’t want that, and for them, conventional is the way to go. I respect that, and I am elated I have the choice.


7.     Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?

Go slow to go fast. Don’t get in a hurry to get published. Take the time to become the writer you want people to remember you as, or they’ll remember you, if at all, as the writer they wish they’d never read.

8.     What was one of the most surprising things you learned with your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?

I find that characters take over my personality when I write. If one of them is fighting with their husband, then mine is in for it. If they’re sad, I’m a mess, and if they’re scared, I bite off all my nails. It’s like experimenting with Multiple Personality Disorder for weeks at a time. Then, when I’m done with the novel, I become me again. Or mostly me. I think the characters work their way into me for good.

9.     How many books have you written?

I’m on number 16 right now and about to start number 17.


10.                        Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)?


I believe writing improves with practice and feedback. Do you want to write novels? Then you’ll only improve your novel-writing by writing several NOVELS, not flash fiction, not short stories, not nonfiction, not poetry (with the converse true as well). You may improve your expressive skills over all, don’t get me wrong, but there’s an art to each of these forms. And you’ll remain stagnant without feedback, specifically from writers, professors, writing coaches, or editors far better than you. Do whatever you need to get this feedback: take classes (which are great anyway, because you learn techniques, practice/build skills, and develop discipline as well), join critique groups, pay for manuscript consults, enter contests that offer critique as an element of the submission. And live. Living a rich life with complex relationships, an array of experiences, and a keen observation of the world is critical to good writing.


11.                        Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?

I write mystery/thriller/suspense, so when I think of twists, I am usually applying them to “whodunnit” and not showing my cards to the reader too early. What I do is make a list of my characters and a list of all the reasons each might have to be the bad guy, along with plot permutations to make each possible. I choose a path that casts the most suspicion on the most people in the most suspenseful and unlikely-yet-possible way. I was working on a project with a producer and screenwriter last fall, and the producer loved this process. The screenwriter ended up loving it, after he finished the rewrite the producer asked for as a result of it, LOL.

12.                        What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?


Authenticity, whether that is in dialogue, characterization, or the accuracy with which a writer brings out setting or plot details within the point of view of a character. I hate a “wooden” book or one with inconsistent, inauthentic characters. I forgive a whole lot of other issues if the author nails authenticity.


13.                        What are some ways in which you promote your work?


I am active on social media, write a blog for my website, and send monthly newsletters to my subscribers. I run BookBub online e-book discount promotions whenever I can, and I love Ryan Zee’s Booksweeps giveaways. I’ve done hundreds of live events as well. I’ve tried everything, and I do mean everything. My five-year business plan was to roll all profits back into marketing. A lot of the money I spent didn’t directly increase sales, but, on the other hand, I’ll never know the aggregate impact all the efforts made in my early days. As a result, I developed a whole suite of online classes for authors at that relay everything I know and then some on writing, publishing, and promotion. I also wrote a companion book for it called What Kind of Loser Indie Publishes, and How Can I Be One, Too?



14.                         What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?


No regrets! I’ve made plenty of mistakes, and my writing is evolving and (I hope) improving, but I can’t think of a thing I’d do differently.



15.                        What saying or mantra do you live by?


If not me, who? If not now, when? That and Well-behaved women rarely make history. ;-)