Sunday, March 30, 2008

What's in a Pen Name

I've been asked lately by a few new writers why I chose to write under a pen name and how I came up with it.

There are lots of reasons to consider a pen name if you're a writer. Privacy was a consideration of mine. After all, I have aspirations of being a NYT bestseller eventually. ;) I also wanted a separation between my writing career and my day job and a certain degree of anonymity because of the steaminess of some of my books.

After making the decision to have a pen name, here's how I picked one. Jami was a no-brainer. My father's name was James. My parents had wanted to name me "Jami," but my sister liked Pam, so my real name is Pam.

For a last name, it was more difficult. I got out a family tree, wrote down some of the last names I liked, and went to a couple bookstores. I checked out where I'd be placed on the shelves. I wanted to be next to some good authors that would attract customers to that area on the shelves. I also wanted to be near the beginning of the alphabet. When I'm browsing, I start at the beginning and usually don't get to the end before I find a book.

Davenport was the last name of a great-great grandfather of mine. Anyway, I chose that last name based on the above criteria.

If you're a writer with a pen name, how did you choose your pen name?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

San Juan Islands--Day 4 & 5

Sorry I didn't post the last day, but we left early on Wed. to catch the ferry.

Both "The Dance" and "Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed" are set on a fictitious farm on Orcas Island that is in danger of being developed into a world-class resort. On Tuesday, Dennis and I drove to Deer Harbor on the other side of the island. I've always pictured Rosehill Farm to be somewhere in this area with a view similar to this:

Wednesday we left the beautiful San Juans behind us and passed another ferry on our way. The Washington State ferry system is one of the largest in the world and operated by the state of Washington, rather than a private company. There are many inhabitants of Washington who live on islands and depend on the ferry service, not just in the San Juans, but throughout Puget Sound.

I hope you've enjoyed a little look at the islands.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Rosario--Day 3

In 1904 at 47 years old, Robert Moran was told by his doctors that he had only a year to live. The stress of running his successful shipbuilding business and being the mayor of Seattle had taken their toll. Moran left his ship-building empire and retired to Cascade Bay on Orcas Island. He called his estate Rosario. He built a damn on Cascade Lake to produce hydroelectric power for his estate. Then he built a large mansion overlooking the water using his shipbuilding expertise, the Moran Mansion is built like a ship with a nautical theme throughout. The rich wood inside is teak and Honduras mahogany.

Over the years he donated several thousand acres comprising Mt. Constitution and Cascade Lake and donated them to Washington State Parks. On the grounds of Rosario, he had extensive gardens including this figure-eight pond in which family and guests could float in small boats.

In my book, “The Dance,” I talk quite a bit about the magic of Orcas Island. Robert Moran lived to be 86 on Orcas Island, 40 more years than his Seattle doctors gave him.

His estate is now Rosario Resort. The mansion contains dining facilities and a museum, in which you can see many of the original rooms decorated with period furniture and historical information.
By the way, I mentioned that we moved to another room. Here is our new view. You can see why we moved.

Monday, March 24, 2008

San Juan Islands--Day 2

Monday Morning

Even though the weather report said rain all day, it barely rained at all. There were even periods of sunshine.

We spent a lazy day, having lunch and dinner in the lounge and walking about the grounds. We also moved to another room. This was a much nicer room with a beautiful view of the San Jauns, but I was unable to get onto the Internet wireless anymore once we moved. So I’m sending this from the Moran Mansion lobby.

This is the Moran Lounge:

As we were returning from dinner, the sun came out and the skies were blue. I knew my window of opportunity had just arrived. I grabbed Dennis, much to his annoyance as he’d settled in for nap, and insisted that we drive to the top of Mt. Constitution. Mt. Constitution is the tallest point in the islands. You can see a 360-degree panorama of the surrounding islands and mainland. I’d never been up there, but I’d heard it was not to be missed. It was well worth the trip, as you can see below. Unfortunately it was a little hazy so none of the pictures came out very well, but you can see enough to know how beautiful it was.

Here are some views from Mt. Constitution of the islands.

I wanted to stay up there for the sunset, but it was blowing like crazy and about 34 degrees. No joke. Brrrrrr...

I hope you’re enjoying my journal of our trip.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Day One--San Juan Trip

Dennis and I caught the 1:15 ferry to the San Juans yesterday. It was a beautiful ride over, pretty warm for this time of year, and sunny. The ferry trip was about an hour as we stopped at Lopez and Shaw Islands before we could depart at Orcas.

Here's my husband on the ferry trip over.

Once we arrived on Orcas, we had a pleasant, scenic drive along a winding two-lane road to Rosario Resort. Rosario was built by Robert Moran in aprox. 1904. He was a former mayor of Seattle and a shipbuilder. The Moran Mansion is spectacular and now a museim. One of the highlights of the museum is the music room with its 1900-pipe organ. The woodwork in this mansion is Honduras mahogany and teak.

Our room was a surprise. All their bayview rooms were occupied so we were given a garden view room. It actually did have a water view of the marina and Cascade bay.

We had dinner in the bar, which was Robert Moran's library at one time. I'll post pictures of the bar later this week. In my book, "The Dance," Mariah and Rico fall in love in this bar while dancing. Once you see pictures of this romantic bar, you'll see why.

Then we took a walk around the grounds, and Dennis happened upon some very friendly deer.

Today, we're going to move our room to one of the rooms that are perched on the cliff and hang out over the water. I'll update you about everything tomorrow.

Have a great Easter.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Last-MInute Adventure

Recently, my husband and I talked about a little trip for our anniversary, which is next month. Of course, I wanted to go to my favorite place and the setting for two of my books, Washington's San Juan Islands. Thursday, I started checking reservation information and realized if we went to the San Juans before April 1, we could get great deals on rooms. So at the last minute, we booked a room at Rosario Resort on Orcas Island.

So it's off we go this morning, for a 3-hour drive on I-5 and a pleasant 1-hour ride on the ferry.

If I can get Internet access, I'll post some pictures and some stories of our last-minute getaway.

I'm going to bring back some great "island" items for my promo contests when my first San Juan book comes out, "Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed" followed by "The Dance," both set on Orcas Island.

I hope you'll join me--

because everyone deserves a little island time.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Call and What It Means

Yesterday a very dear friend of mine got the call, actually since it was an email, I guess you could say THE Email. "The Call" is an offer to publish by a publisher, be it big or small press. She is now going to be a published author. I am so thrilled for her, you can't imagine. You can check her out at:

Now we are both feverishly planning our first releases. There is so much promo that a new author has to do if they want to get their name out there. It's not as easy as just sitting back and waiting for the book to be published. Rookie authors even with big publishers don't get the promo opportunities. They need to create them on their own. Well, Allie and I were never ones to sit around and wait for life to pass us by. We are social creatures and like to be in the middle of everything. We're also both in IT, and believe me, that takes a certain personality.

No, we won't make the NYT bestseller list, yet, but someday, I think you'll see us both there. We'll make it happen somehow.

So have a toast for Allie and me and wish us luck as we navigate the murky waters of book promotion and publishing!!!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Why I Don't Enter Contests

I received my first official edits this week. The process was a lot less painful than I thought it would be. I've had this fear that I'd get an editor like many of the contest judges I've had in the past. I visualized this person changing my voice to the point that the story became generic. I got lucky. My editor is wonderful. She caught all sorts of little inconsistencies and issues in my story, but she left the essence of who and what it was alone.

I am not a romance contest junkie. I haven't had a good experience with writer's contests. I'd always get a combination of perfect scores and lousy scores. The judges that didn't like my quirky, sassy way of writing would nail me for my penchant to use incomplete sentences (on purpose) or try to sterilize my voice by editing my voice right out of it. Only once was I lucky enough to enter a contest where all my judges liked my voice.

On the advice of a published writer friend, I quit entering contests. She never did well in contests either, yet, she's now multi-published with several big publishers.

I think contests work for some people and not for others. For me, they were demoralizing and confusing. I often would change my entire story based on one anonymous judge's opinion.

On the other hand, contests can be a good way to get your work (if you final) before an editor or agent that you wouldn't be able to reach otherwise.

While contests aren't for me, that doesn't mean they aren't for you. It's just important to remember that they aren't a end-all or necessarily an accurate indicator of your writing ability.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Computers and News Updates

I've been fighting for the last two weeks with my wireless PC card and Outlook Express. I want my ISP's email to sync with Outlook Express. Well, it works fine if I dial-in to the ISP, and I do mean dial-in. We're talking speeds of somewhere between a slug on the sidewalk watching a tree grow. So now I have this wireless card, and I'm off to the races, except Outlook won't sync. After a couple weeks of fighting with the thing, I have it receiving mail but not sending. I know what's wrong, it's finding the right answer that's sending me off the deep end.

That makes me wonder--how the heck does the average person off the street manage to troubleshoot PCs when those of us in IT often struggle with the things? I've spent countless hours on this one problem, which should be easy to fix, but I find the easiest things are often the hardest.

On another note, I have some news:

I sold The Dance, the first manuscript (and the subject of a previous post, "That Special Manuscript") I ever completed, to Siren Publishing. It'll be out in late 2008. I'm very excited to see this manuscript in print.

Equestrian Ink debuts on Monday. This is a collaborative effort of several authors who write equestrian fiction. We have tons of fun things planned so drop in every couple days to check us out!!!