Sunday, August 19, 2012

I've moved to Wordpress

If you're looking for Pamela Foster, please go to:

I'll see you there.

Monday, July 9, 2012

But, I Didn't Pinkie Swear

How much of what we experience do we have a right to share?  Or to put it another way
 I’ll keep your secret.  Unless it’s funny.  Or profound.  Or quirky.  Or sad.  If the personal revelation you share calls forth any of those aforementioned emotions?  Well, then, sooner or later, you’ll probably see a twisted version of the tale in something I write.

For me, this creates the biggest challenge when it concerns one particular person in my life.  See this person is funny and profound and quirky and, sometimes, sad.  And he has been very clear that he does not want me to ever use anything he’s said in anything I write.  Which, because I love and respect him, I agree to do.  But, I’m here to tell you, it just about kills me.  Just yesterday he made the funniest observation I’ve heard in years.

Which I’m not going to share with you.

Do you think God will give me extra credit for keeping this confidence?  You writers out there, how do you handle it when a person with whom you share an experience is adamant about not wanting those insights or feelings shared on the written page? 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fourth of July

I got thinking about just what we’re supposed to be celebrating on the Fourth of July.  The signing of the Declaration of Independence.  An illegal protest against taxation without representation. 

History’s a bitch, ain’t she?

I wondered how many of the grand thinkers and philosophers who came up with the bright idea of taking a stand for that particular cause actually fought for its implementation.  Turns out about half.  Fifty-six men signed the Declaration.  Seventeen fought in the American Revolution.  Five were captured.  Eleven more had their homes confiscated.

The reason this all came to mind is that, as we submerge deeper and deeper into the increasingly muddy waters of another presidential election year, I am more and more irritated by those who wave flags.  On both sides of the aisle.

  There are all kinds of ways to be patriotic.  And shoring up a fallacious argument by jumping over the cerebral cortex and coming directly from the amygdala is a time honored way to appeal to voters.  I get that.

So, I don’t mind someone wrapping themselves in the bloody flag to make a political point.  Except it maddens me when the blood on that flag is not their own. It pisses me off when the blood of warriors is called upon to justify what is simply a point of view and, not content to end the farce there, anyone with an opposing opinion is demonized as an ingrate not worthy of sacrifices of real patriots.

Our country is split down the middle with little common ground upon which to build compromise. 
Here’s what I think. 
If we want to honor those who fight in wars our government sends them to fight, let us stop behaving like selfish children.  Let’s reach out to one another, work to hear each other’s words, and find a way to allow the country we profess to love to grow and to find, again, a righteous path to greatness.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Southern Women

I've moved my writer's blog to  It'd be great if you followed me there.

This blog is going to become my rift and rave spot.  The blog is named Secrets and Vices, afterall.  What's posted here has virtually nothing to do with any of my books.  It's just a place to post observations and opinions and see what y'all think, hopefully get some feedback.

One of the differences between Southern woman and the rest of us heathens is that Southern women, as a rule, do not cuss and swear.  I mean, unless they’re fighting with a computer.  Or quilting.  During those two activities, all bets are off, but otherwise, nary a crude utterance will pass their lips.  Yes, there are exceptions.  A dear southern friend and I once had to pinkie swear not to say the ‘f’ word in front of another friend’s eighty-year-old mother.  But, by and large, woman from below the Mason/Dixon do not use profanity.  They especially do not take the Lord’s name in vain.

This is a challenge for me, a Pacific Northwest Redneck transplanted to Northwest Arkansas.  I’m telling you, it’s a hard and trying cultural adjustment. 

The worst thing I ever heard my dad say about a woman was, “She wouldn’t say shit if she had a mouthful.”  Now, I ask you, is that not a clear demand for a girl to call it like she sees it?

I phoned my sister the other day and asked her what she was doing.  “I’m standin’ in my Goddamn garden,” she said sweetly, “looking at my first water-fuckin’-mellon.”

I don’t know what to tell you.  It’s how we talk if left to our crude Yankee tendencies.     

The other difference between a southern woman and an old Humboldt Honey like myself is that a southern woman will hang herself before leaving the house without a bra.  Hell, most of em couldn’t be paid to walk out the front door without foundation makeup, eyeliner, mascara and painted nails.  Me?  I do shave my legs, though since menopause it’s more habit than anything else and I do wear a bra.  Though that last deal is more about the vanities of old age than a defense against a lynching.

All that said, my best friends in the world are from the south.  Nobody is better at wearing a soul to submission with pure-dee graciousness or knocking the argument plum out of a body with words sweeter’n tea.  I may not be from around here, but I am de-damn-lighted to buckle up that bra and censor my words a tad.  It’s a small price to pay to live peaceably in this neck of the woods.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Bigfoot Blues Lurks in Woods

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Coming soon from High Hill Press: Bigfoot Blues!

The daughter of a longtime Bigfooter enlists the help of her redneck friends to teach a sweet-talking city slicker a backwoods lesson in this rollicking tale by novelist Pamela Foster (Redneck Goddess, 2011).
Samantha is a pretty, spirited bartender who manages VD’s with her on-again-off-again boyfriend and business partner, Hawk. Although the bar is named for their dads (Victor and David), “half the kids in the county phone at least once to giggle some perceived original query.” The Indian, as Sam calls Hawk, is half Yurok and all philanderer, with an appetite for loose women and booze that threatens to ruin any chance of a relationship between the two. Still, Sam isn’t ready to give up on Hawk—yet.
When a finely-dressed, big-city author named Mark Nielson wanders into the bar one evening for a meeting of the believers, the locals expect trouble. But Sam can’t help but be swayed by the sexy stranger with “eyes the color of that variegated moss along a late summer river,” especially after the shabby treatment she’s received from Hawk. Sweet talk and flowers wear down her guard, and soon Sam has a new beau.
When the relationship suddenly takes an awkward turn, Sam’s allegiance to her  beloved father is placed in doubt. Filled with misplaced guilt, Sam begins to question her own beliefs, while fiercely rushing to the defense of her dad. Armed with her .38 and a plan to set things right, Sam leads her city-born suitor into the backwoods wilderness, with Georgia-bred Bubba and childhood friend Lefty trailing behind for support. But none of the four suspects the enormity of the adventure that awaits the group—and the discoveries that will forever change them.
Full of humorous asides and swelling with redneck pride, Bigfoot Blues blends together an eclectic group of believers and nonbelievers for an offbeat but delightfully satisfying tale.
Note: Bigfoot Blues is coming summer 2012 from High Hill Press! In the meantime, hop over to High Hill to find out about a contest to find Bigfoot…and to submit your own story to the Bigfoot Blues Confidential anthology.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Confused Sea

A small boat in a rough sea.  I identify, lately, with that image.

For five years I fell off the side of a panga boat into the Caribbean Sea on a daily basis.  Winds from the east flattened the waves and we skimmed over turquoise glass on our way to the dive site.  West winds ruffled the water and made for a choppy ride.  A storm blowing in from the south or north created ripples or mountains depending on the wind speed.

The local boat captains navigated all of this.  As long as the panga motor could outrun the waves before they swamped the low back of the boat on the way into shore, the captains powered out through the watery mountains and we fell backwards off the boat and sunk below the surface chaos.

Well, yes, there were those occasions on returning home when we leaped over the side the instant the panga cleared the opening of the cove and drug the boat to shore hoping to outrun a threatening wave.  There was even one memorable time when the waves caught us and the boat sunk in plain sight of the dive shop and the sunbathers on the beach.

But, for the most part, as long as the wind was consistent, the little boat bobbed on the rough seas and was waiting to bring us home at the end of our dive.

In a confused sea, the wind can’t make up its mind what direction it wants to blow. Waves kick up from all directions with the occasional rogue to make the boat captain’s life even more interesting.  A confused sea left a boatload of disappointed divers standing on shore cussing the weather while a Mayan boat captain shook his head no and no and hell no.

So, in this time of my life, when nothing seems constant, I remind myself that the weather will change.  But mostly, I remember dropping down through roaring waves into a world of such contrasting peace it always put a smile on my face big enough to leak salt water in around my regulator. 

Peace is here.  I just have to fall backwards into it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

I'm happy for you . . .

In the movie ‘Midnight in Paris’, Hemingway tells Gill, the young novelist, 

“You don’t want the opinion of another writer about your novel.  If is bad, I’ll hate it.  If it’s good, I’ll be envious and hate it even more.”

There’s a large element of truth there.  I pretend happiness in the success of other writers, but I’m seldom truly glad for them.  For the exact reason Hemingway mentions.  

Writers are notorious for possessing that inner child prone to tantrums.  

“Me, me, me.  What about me?  I’m just as good a writer as they are.” 

And, truthfully, if I don’t know you and read about your success as a writer, I’ll be a teeny tiny bit happy for you but mostly I’ll be jealous as a three year old at her sister’s birthday party.

Except, right in the muddled-middle of my tiny, selfish life, a funny thing has happened. I find myself with a group of increasingly successful writer friends for whom I am genuinely, joyously happy. 

And here’s the surprise, my life is richer, my joys are multiplied.  Their success really does feel like my success and I know they share in my joys as well.

Ain’t life grand?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Life Is Chock Full of Characters

This week The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pan answered questions about where writers get their characters.  The answers were insightful and entertaining, but in my experience, when someone other than another writer asks this question, they mean something entirely different.

When Redneck Goddess was published, the first question men friends who bought and read the book asked was some variation of:

“Where’d you get the idea for the stud your ‘main character’ couldn’t keep her hands off?”

By which they meant,

 “I know I’m the stud and the book is your public confession of your long time and barely concealed hots for me.”

Many of these men, bless their hearts, weigh well over three hundred pounds, are bald and have never heard of a nose hair clipper.  Okay, I made that part up, but, seriously, the love interest in Redneck Goddess is a hot young Latino with the personality of a sexy saint.  Come on guys, really?

Women, always more subtle, whispered some variation of:

“I don’t appreciate something I told you in confidence being put out there in black and white for the whole world to read."

Here’s the thing, the protagonist is a hot twenty-eight year old with flaming red hair and legs all the way to her ass.  I’m not sure why you think the book is about you and the waiter at the Mexican cafĂ© who poured an extra shot of Padron in your margarita when you tipped him a Franklin on Cinco de Mayo? 

You get the idea. The need for friends and family to define the book by their influence on you just seems universal.  It’s the same conundrum as that old query, “Is this not the carpenter’s son? Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

It is difficult for friends and family to look past ME to see the book, the message.  I don’t know why that surprises me.  

 For twenty years didn’t I hear the surprised exclamation, “Wow, your boys are really smart?  Is their dad a major brain?”

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pen

Writing is a solitary addiction.

Because of my craving for writing time and solitude, I’ve never been a person to have many friends.  I held people at a distance, my emotional force field protected the real me. Like any addict, my addiction was my life.  

So, imagine my surprise when I found, not one, but four women to share my writing journey.  From agonizing over plot, through the publication process and the challenge of marketing, these four ‘sisters’ have eased my pain, sharpened my skills and just generally made my life more joyful.

A few months back, we officially became The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pen. Our first speaking engagement was yesterday at the NW Arkansas Writers Workshop Conference.  Our hope was to get our message across AND to entertain.  I think we accomplished our goal.  

Ruth Weeks started us off by acting the part of a humble, frightened writer trying to pitch her work to a snooty agent.  Thirty seconds in, she flung off her jacket and revealed more bling than Liberace.  And cowboy boots.  Hot damn, those boots of hers.  Ruth strutted a demonstration of stepping out, believing in yourself, and making the magic happen in your writing career.  I mean, the woman showed us how it was done.

Once Ruth had folks fired up, it was my turn.  

I pointed to my tiara. Yes, you read that right. Touched the giant, gold star hanging around my neck, whirled my feathery pink boa.  I held my book over my head danced and yelled, I’ve been published!  My sisters yelled and stamped their feet and threw confetti. The celebration lasted approximately thirty seconds when Ruth, holding a sign that said Reality Check stepped up and, foot tapping, demanded my lovely glittery crown and my adorable star.  The bitch even took back my lovely pink boa. I spoke on the reality of having a book published and likened the experience to running a small business.

Next, Jan Morrill acted out a skit she’d written about how, while the rest of The Sisters took that fork in the road marked Small Press and skipped happily to publication, she choose the road to New York Publication and spend a year waiting for the phone to ring.  This presentation came complete with the song Let it please be him. It must be him.  It must be him bursting forth into the conference room to demonstrate her reaction each time the phone rang while she waited and waited to hear from her agent.  My favorite part was when she skipped down the path to stardom in her sunglasses, the frames of which were in the shape of glittery gold stars. 

In stained chenille robe, pajama bottoms and soft, fluffy slippers one of her dogs may have chewed, Claire Croxton demonstrated what happens when you sit down to write, but first, just for a minute, you check your email and your favorite blogs.  Social Networking is vital to building a platform after all!  As Ruth moved the hands of a giant clock, Claire tapped on her laptop, commented on blogs and just networked her little heart out until the clock showed eight hours had passed and she hadn’t written a word on her new novel.  Claire spoke on managing your time.

Linda Apple stepped up with a rubber snake around her neck which, like Marlin Perkins with the giant Anaconda, she successfully wrestled into submission.  Her opening line was “Most people would rather wrestle a poisonous snake than speak in public.” She then beautifully demonstrated how to speak in front of an audience with ease and grace.  Linda spoke on the importance of building your platform as a writer.  

Lord, did we have fun.  Who’d have thought that a lifetime of living in my own solitary little world, mainlining words and struggling to reveal the truth through fiction–who would have even suspected that this would bring me into the glorious company of a sisterhood like this?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Times Change

I have three sons.  They’re all grown men now, but in the 1970’s, from the time the oldest was about three up until they discovered girls, the older two boys were obsessed with the question:
Could a person jump from the Empire State building into a pool of Jell-O and live.
Answering this burning question required many trips to the local library where they learned, serendipitously, thousands of interesting answers to questions they hadn’t even thought to ask.  
A professor of physics at Humboldt State University met with them, talked about interesting stuff like variable terminal velocity and demonstrated the practicality of math and physics.
They sent a letter to the Jell-O’s headquarters. The company didn’t have an answer to the boy’s question, but they did send a coupon for free pudding.
Basically, my boys still argue about this burning question (though admittedly now it’s mostly after a beer or two) and the only thing they’ve ever agreed upon is that the first to try the jump should be their youngest brother.
Here’s my point.
Today, a child would find the answer to this interesting puzzle on the internet.  She or he would learn a lot of miscellaneous information while ciphering the answer.  Of that I have no doubt.  But, almost certainly, the child would do this research alone, in his or her room and any interaction with people would be through tapping on a key board.
And that’s a shame, I think.  Not just for the kids.  But for the parents who miss out on these adventures in learning with their children.
Well, times change and every generation bemoans the loss of the past. 
The other day I stopped at a garage sale on the way home from Walmart and an old couple was selling one of those blood-red sets of Encyclopedia Britannica.  One whiff of that book glue and dust and the feel of those old pages under my fingers and I was transported back to a simpler past.  A time when the world was a place I discovered every day, right alongside the most important people in my life