Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Finding Joy Through Writing

I have said it previously, but I'll say it again. One of the joys of doing a weekly blog on authors is getting to meet so many wonderful writers--even if it is only online. My guest today is author Pamela Spradlin Mahajan.

Her latest book is Skye, Revised, a women’s fiction novel with what she says is a "delicious dash of magical realism and romance." Pamela has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and creative writing from Missouri State University and a Masters from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Her recent short stories have appeared in the online literary journal "They Call Us" and she has also been honored in the WOW! Women on Writing Flash Fiction Contest. A native of Springfield, Mo., Pamela lives with her family in Kansas City, where in addition to writing women's fiction, she also works as a copywriter, journalist, and reseller. Let's find out more about Pamela.

What do you find is the most challenging part of being an author?


One challenge I have experienced as a writer thus far has been the rejection. I have written many short stories and received many rejections in turn, which I believe is part of the process. 


One notable thing is that, as I have developed my storytelling abilities, I have received higher tier rejections where editors compliment my work and ask me to resubmit. It is definitely something only someone who has been in the querying trenches would understand: that a rejection can be exhilarating!


Tell us about your road to publication.


Hmmm, where do I start? I have been writing stories since I was very young, around kindergarten. After graduating from Missouri State University with a bachelor’s in psychology and a minor in creative writing, I worked full time at the local newspaper and then as a copywriter for a national retailer. I also wrote fiction in my free time.


In 2020, I decided to get serious and edit and query a women’s fiction manuscript I had written about a naive twentysomething who is exposed to a world of fame and money when she follows her NBA player boyfriend to Miami. I had written the story on and off for years with very little knowledge of story structure, at least beyond the intuitive. After about a year of querying that story and very little interest, I set it aside. I learned a lot though, both in the editing and querying stages.


Around that same time, I was coached by women’s fiction author Camille Pagan. She encouraged me to write what I wanted to write—what brought me joy—as opposed to what I thought I should write. Pondering that idea and going over a lot of story ideas in my head led me to abandon the current manuscript I was working on and start Skye, Revised.


It took about two years from starting Skye, Revised to being offered a contract by The Wild Rose Press. Mostly that was because I did a lot of stopping and starting, including once to write an entire separate beach romance novella. One of the times I put Skye, Revised aside, I came up with the idea to write the antagonist’s point of view as well, which reinvigorated the story a bit for me.

 

What is your book that you will feature today and how did you come up with the idea to write it?


Skye, Revised is about a public relations assistant, Skye Peters, living in Los Angeles who once had big dreams of becoming a singer. After being humiliated on a reality singing show, she put her dreams aside. She has since become a bit dissatisfied with everything, including her affable boyfriend, Teddy, who is a children’s singer with a show on public television. 


When an unforeseen turn of events causes her to take a bullet, Skye blacks out and finds she is a famous pop star, adored by millions and married to a sexy Scottish producer. It is a seemingly perfect existence. But she soon discovers what is beneath the surface is far from perfect—plus, her boyfriend Teddy no longer recognizes her in this new life. If Skye doesn’t know how or why she is in this alternate reality, can she ever get back?


Pondering what would bring me the most joy to write as well as figuring out the basic plot points led me to the idea for this novel. After going through a variety of ideas in my head and on paper, Skye, Revised is what seemed to me the most fun and interesting to write. 


Let's get a blurb:

After being humiliated on a reality singing show, PR assistant Skye Peters is merely existing. She's beyond bored with her life, including her well-meaning but clueless boyfriend, Teddy. 

While hiding in a closet to avoid Teddy's attempted marriage proposal, Skye is inexplicably shot by a masked intruder. When she awakens, she finds herself in a strange reality where she is a famous pop star with millions of fans and a sexy Scottish husband. Life seems idyllic at first, but the cracks rapidly begin to appear. Skye seeks solace in Teddy, but he doesn't know her in this new world. Will she get a second chance at her old life or is she destined to be stuck in a reality she doesn't want?


Now, how about an excerpt:


        “Really? You’re going to wear that?” I said.

        Teddy gave his outfit a once-over. “Yes…” The corner of his mouth inched up into a smile. “Is there something wrong with it?”

        I wrinkled my nose as if a reeking can of fly-ridden garbage sat rotting nearby. “Khakis, Teddy? Pleated khakis?” I hadn’t even mentioned the cheap tucked-in polo shirt. “It looks like the uniform you wear on the show.”

        Teddy swiped his jacket from the coat rack by the door and slipped into it. When it was sixty-one degrees in Los Angeles, you wore a jacket. “And, again, I ask: what’s wrong with that? Come on, Skye. We’re gonna be late.”

        I exhaled an exasperated gush of air.

        “You look great, by the way. The black really makes your blonde hair stand out.” Teddy lifted my knee-length coat from the rack and slid it over my form-fitting dress. I glanced down at the sheer cutout stretching across my collarbone.

        “Well, it’s a nice place. I want to make a good impression—to look like we belong there.”

        Teddy’s outfit did not demonstrate that we belonged anywhere worth being—especially not somewhere like The Hibiscus. It attracted A-list, red carpet fixtures the way spandex boy-cut underwear attracted wedgies. I was quite certain pleated khakis would be nowhere in sight, unless they were being worn ironically.

        I side-eyed his chain-store-salesman look once more. It never failed—no matter how many slim, trendy trousers or jeans I picked out for him from Banana Republic or Asos, he still reached for the very same familiar item in the bowels of his closet. The very one I was trying to direct him away from. Honestly, what was the point?

        My body ached with the exhaustion of defeat as I slid into the passenger seat of Teddy’s hatchback.

        “Are you excited? You’ve been wanting to go here for years,” he said as he maneuvered out of the parking lot.

        I’d be more excited if your outfit didn’t embarrass me.

        I mumbled a nondescript response and we sat in silence for several minutes. As we pulled onto the 101, Teddy grasped the leather-wrapped steering wheel with one hand and rested the other on my bare knee. I glanced at his hand, watching the tendons move beneath his tan skin.

        Then I gazed out the window as decrepit buildings morphed into sleek, glossy high-rise apartment complexes. Los Angeles was forever an unsettling contrast between seedy and superior, sad and spoiled. The only consistent thing was its palm trees. As I studied a tree outlined against the sky, my stomach knotted into a mixture of excitement and dread. We had never been to The Hibiscus before—we’d never been anywhere close. Teddy considered Red Lobster a classy establishment, for God’s sake. In my opinion, anywhere you have to wear a bib while eating is definite no no.

        I took a measured inhale. The thought of Teddy’s stale outfit being scrutinized by L.A.’s hippest wasn’t the only reason for my frazzled nerves. I was replaying a conversation between us from several days earlier, searching it for hidden meaning. For clues. 


What’s your next project?

 

I wrote a Christmas novella that will be my second book, also being published by  The Wild Rose Press. It is a romance with a magical realism/time travel element. I expect it to be released near the end of 2024. 

 

What advice do you have for beginning writers?


Read Stephen King’s On Writing. It is amazing. I believe his advice to write and read daily is spot on. Even if you can’t reach his four hours each day of reading and writing, striving toward that is helpful. I also recommend making writing goals each week and tracking how long or how many words you write as it is easy to feel you worked more than you actually did. Other than that, keep going!


Here are the buy links for Skye Revisited and Pamela's contact information:


Amazon - Skye Revisited


Apple iBooks - https://books.apple.com/us/book/skye-revised/id6476150175


Barnes & Noble - https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/skye-revised-pamela-spradlin-mahajan/1144560416?ean=9781509254002

Social Contacts:

Author Website: https://pamelamahajan.com

Pamela’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pamelajsm/

Pamela’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/pjsmahajan


Thank you, Pamela, for being my guest on My Writing Corner. Any questions or comments for Pamela?

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