Guest post: Pam Wells

The Chicks are happy to welcome as-yet unpublished cozy author Pamela Wells, who is currently in the query trenches. Pam is a member of the Colorado Chapter of Sisters in Crime and Rocky Mountain Chapter Mystery Writers of America. Today she shares a bit about her writing journey journey so far. Take it away, Pam!

What does the term Groundhog Day mean to you? Do you think of the movie starring Bill Murray from 1993, or do you think of the groundhog in Pennsylvania whose name you can never remember, let alone pronounce? (It’s Punxsutawney Phil.) 

Every February 2nd, spectators attend Groundhog Day events in Punxsutawney, PA. The movie with Bill Murray was an instant classic. His character relives February 2nd over and over again. When you ask someone about Groundhog Day, you’re just as likely to hear about the movie as you are to hear about the weather prediction going on in Pennsylvania. Do you think a rodent who just woke up from his winter nap can actually predict the weather? Some people swear by him, and others just enjoy the tradition and hoopla. 

Personally, I’m more in tune with Bill Murray’s character Phil Connors who relives the same day over and over again. There are moments in my writing journey when I wake up, and it all seems to be the same thing I did yesterday and the day before, and the day before that.

On a whim three years ago, in the middle of Covid, while trying to manage my sanity and teach my then-six-year-old her remote school lessons, I decided it would be fun to write a novel. I was reading a cozy series at the time and thought, I can do this. And so, the adventure began. 

I finished my first novel in a matter of months, and through research, I learned the next step on the journey would be querying. I was sooo not ready for the reality check that came next. Optimistically, I joined Mystery Writers of America and immediately signed up for the beta reader option. The feedback was startling. Didn’t my friend and beta reader tell me how great my book was? Who was this person, and who did she think she was to tell me how much I needed to fix? Oh, how much I had to learn.

I queried around eighty agents, and every single one laughed in my face. Well, not really, but they may as well have. My naiveté was as evident as my ignorance. I had no clue what I was doing, and to be honest, most days I still don’t—but I’m learning!

My days were spent in an endless cycle just like Phil’s—checking QueryTracker for other agents to submit to—checking email and receiving yet another rejection. Every day was very much like the one before. True, I began the second book in the series and tried to maintain my optimism, but with each rejection, just like Phil, my spirits dimmed when I received the same outcome for the day. 

It was an incredibly humbling experience. However, it didn’t diminish my desire for writing. Instead, I chalked it up as a learning adventure and moved into another project immediately. I was a woman on a mission now—a mission to be the best writer I could be. But we all know life is never that simple. During this time, my family uprooted from our temporary home in the mid-west to another temporary home in Colorado courtesy of Uncle Sam. 

I spent my days unpacking boxes, reading books on writing, and scouring websites—anything to help me in my journey. I further expanded my associations and joined the Sisters in Crime of Colorado. For me, an introvert bordering on a hermit, it was a huge step. I attended the first event via Zoom and met an author who lived close to my house, Karen Whalen. She is amaaaaazing. She invited me to meet with her and fellow author Rhonda Blackhurst at a local coffee shop to talk about writing. Less than a year later, Karen moved away, and we’ve recently begun video calls to stay in touch. She is my cheerleader in every sense of the word, and I am so, so blessed to know her.

Also, since moving to Colorado, I have participated in classes with the SinC Guppies. To be precise, I have taken three courses with a former police officer, Bernard Schaffer. His viewpoint is as invaluable as his feedback. 

I am currently querying my finished novel… again. Yep, I tried it once a year ago with no takers, so I rewrote the entire thing in eight months and am trying again. My novel is currently out to several agents. I know in my heart that if I didn’t try the agent route, I would always wonder. However, the ultimate goal has become holding my book in my hand, no matter what path it takes to get me there.

My current novel has been a WIP for two years. I read in Janet Evanovich’s book on writing that it took her two years to get Stephanie Plum where she was ready to query it, so I humbly feel like I’m in good company. 

I currently have a website, a Twitter account, Facebook page, and TikTok under the same name. Some of my social media have more going on with them than others. My seventeen-year-old daughter tells me I need to put up a TikTok dance to get more views. The BookTok crowd has been generous and supportive of my meager efforts, though. You’re welcome to come along for the ride as I figure out what I’m doing. My journey to holding my book may not be a direct one, but I will get there.  

I am Baltimore (pronounced “Bawlmer”), Maryland, born and raised. Life has taken me from Maryland to Montana to Italy, and points in between, courtesy of the US Air Force. Being a military spouse, I have a front-row seat to the workings of the military, and I use that in my manuscript, CHARM CITY CRAB PUFF. 

Any published or not-yet published authors: How long did your query journey take? Self-published authors: How long until you were ready to upload your novel for sale? Aspiring authors: How long have you been working on your WIP? Share in comments, and give Pam encouragement!

32 thoughts on “Guest post: Pam Wells

  1. Kudos on your stick-to-it-ness, Pam! My best to you as you shop your novel, and if that doesn’t live up to your expectations, self-publishing is so easy today. For example, Draft2Digital has a mystery layout that looks great, and it’s free with wide distribution.

    After I wrote a three-book series for grade schoolers, I appreciated the accolades, but the sales results were less than stellar. So I got busy and started studying how authors attained bestseller status. Research revealed many top-selling writers told remarkable stories with unremarkable writing skills. That turned out to be good news. Genius writing skills were not required, but I needed to know how to tell engaging stories, which led to more research and notes on storytelling structure and techniques. I’ve enjoyed the journey as much as actually writing stories.

    Keep on keeping on!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. So true, Grant–it’s all about the stories!! I’m a firm believer in write-what-you-want-to-read, because I think the writer’s true passion for a story comes through that way–and it’s contagious!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Chicks and Pam, thank you so much for featuring an UNpublished author. I am also yet to be published but have recently procured an agent, so I identify highly with where Pam is on her journey. Blog features like this add a good dose of encouragement to the more common ones featured on your blog and most others that highlight published authors people like Pam and me can aspire to. Pam… what is your manuscript about?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. My book is about Special Agent Laci Duvall with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Her ex-husband shows up dead and she has to work with her ex-boyfriend who is the lead detective on the case, to find out who did it. She tangles with the Italian mob, and her emotions about her ex boyfriend, while she solves the murder. It’s where Jana DeLeon’s Miss Fortune series meets MASH. There’s s lot of sweet tea references and funny moments and moments of romance. An all around good time. Lol

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Pam, this sounds fabulous! What a great story setup. Anything mashed with M*A*S*H would be at the top of my TBR list. (Chick Trivia: I edited M*A*S*H: The Official 4077 Quiz Manual in 1984, ha–one of my fave projects.) Also, you had me at sweet tea.


    2. Pamela, we Chicks are thrilled to have Pam’s perspective today re: the start (actually, she’s well past the start!) of her writer’s journey. We’ve all been there, and the best thing is, we *know* she’s going to be back very soon to share the fabulous results of her hard work, no matter which publishing route she chooses. Go Pam and Pamela!!!!!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you! I need the encouragement because it’s a tough world out there!

        I am one and the same. I write under Pamela Kyel. I apologize profusely for the overkill on names. I forgot to say that in my article.

        I will say I’m humbled to see your connection with MASH. It’s an honor for you to support my efforts.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, Pamela! I’m so sorry for creating the name confusion, I was cheering for both you and our Pam who commented above. I think my comment came out in the wrong place. And re: the M*A*S*H deal, I hope I didn’t sound puffy, lol. I was at the start of my day-job journey and couldn’t believe my luck to be assigned such a fun project. I watched the show with my dad for decades.


  3. Not being a patient person, I am in awe of writers like you who stick it out. It will be worth it in the end, and you definitely have the right attitude.

    Best of luck to you.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Keep going, Pam! You’ll get there! I stopped counting when my first book got 3 dozen rejections. LOL
    Don’t ever forget to keep the joy of storytelling alive. Cheers!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I am doing pitch practice sessions this weekend, and getting a clique on my query letter as we speak, for a writing workshop.
    I plan on having my first round of queries going out by mid February.
    Pam, don’t worry about how long it took to write. I’m going on about 17 years of trying to get my first manuscript just so.
    Kudos for keeping the faith in yourself. We all need to learn somehow!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thanks for visiting the Chicks, Pam! Keep on writing!

    The publishing journey is always up and down; the querying process, in particular, can be draining. That’s why I definitely recommend having fellow writers alongside you for support & cheering. (Good for you on joining several communities!)

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Oh, boy, do I relate to all you say. My first Sally Solari mystery was actually the third novel I’d tried my hand at (the other two remain locked in a drawer–and yes, they were written long enough ago that they actually are in paper form). And it took some two years, well over 100 queries, and many rewrites before I finally landed an agent and publishing deal for Sally.

    So perseverance is definitely the way to go! Good luck, Pam, and thanks so much for visiting the Chicks today! I look forward to reading your finished product!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post, Pam! And a beautiful photo of you–great to “see” you again! Your tenacity and perseverance are admirable. Keep it up–it will get you the results you want and it gives people like me, who have decided to try the querying process, hope. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. We’re so happy you’re here to share your journey with us, Pam!

    I’m always encouraged to hear stories of rejection from famous authors like Stephen King, who said that he started nailing rejection letters to the wall until they became so numerous he had to use a spike. It’s not schadenfreude, I promise. It just goes to show that these things often (usually?) take time and patience, and that perseverance pays off. Can’t wait to hear your success story!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pam, so lovely to meet a fellow Sisters in Crime Colorado member, RMMWA member, and Guppy member. You have met to amazing people in Sisters in Crime. There is no right way and wrong way to publish your book. However, I agree with you 1000 percent because if you don’t try the traditional route, you will never know. And once you publish your manuscript the Indy way (again, nothing wrong with it) Each author is different, you MAY and I say May have a hard time attracting agents and editors’ attention (unless of course you have a huge following, an amazing platform people love, or you’re a celebrity.

    I just finished reading PROMOPHOBIA, edited by Diane Valler, in which I am a participant. There is some great advice about publication, from traditional and indy authors alike. I wish you the very best whatever decision you make. You’re on your way!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pam, thanks for hanging out with the Chicks today! Your book pitch sounds fab!
    I queried scores of agents with two different manuscripts. Third book was a charm for me. I finally got an agent and a pub deal. Keep the faith!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Sorry about the typos. My arm is in a sling…. two not to amazing people and apologies for misspelling Diane Vallere’s name!!!


  13. Pam, I feel your pain. I queried my first novel in 2015. For two years. I lost count of the rejections around 100. I pulled the book, rewrote it, and started querying again in 2017. After a year of rejections, I finally found a small press that accepted unagented queries and they took on the series.

    In the fall of 2022, I decided, “What the heck,” and tried querying again with a completely different novel that had been sitting in the drawer for a while. I signed with an agent in December.

    The lesson, if there is one, is “Just keep swimming.” LOL


  14. Pam, I love this! So many people give up when it gets hard. They will absolutely never see their book in print. You’ve done so much the right way, I have no doubt you’ll see success. (And Rhonda and Karen are two of my favorite people too! I’m glad you found them!)


  15. Hi Pam! Welcome to Colorado–and we are so glad you joined Sisters in Crime. Life changing stuff. And of course, so happy that you’re here at Chicks today. Great post. Best of luck with your submissions…hang in there.


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