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Meet 2017 Golden Heart Finalist Pamela Ferguson!

Today we’re welcoming another Rebelle, 2017 Golden Heart Finalist Pamela Ferguson, whose manuscript WINGS OF LOVE is nominated for Best Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements.

Pamela Ferguson is the author of sweet romances set in small towns. Specializing in gossips, meddlers, matchmakers and happily-ever-afters, Pam loves dreaming up complications that wreak havoc in the lives of her characters. Her determined heroes and resourceful heroines are forever doing battle with narrow-minded mischief makers. Who knew there were so many bumps on the road to love?  

When she isn’t writing, Pam can be found teaching English, travelling, and playing with her high-energy German shepherd puppy.

Here’s a blurb for WINGS OF LOVE:

No. One little word. When would Reo Greene learn to say it? She’s just finished organizing Lilac’s first 5K race and is swamped with online college exams. Now the mayor wants her to collaborate with Jack Warfield to evaluate Main Street decoration proposals for the town’s upcoming two-hundred-fiftieth anniversary. The mayor is determined to make an example of Reo and Jack: if the two former high school enemies can collaborate for the good of the town, maybe everyone else will try to get along.

Back in Lilac to oversee the sale of his mother’s rental property, Jack hasn’t told anyone he’s also on a leave of absence from his new job as a Peacetalkers mediator. He got injured as a result of a meeting with a gang leader, and the Peacetalkers must investigate. Collaborating with Reo means working with the woman who destroyed his college football scholarship chances five years before.

Will past betrayals prevent Reo and Jack from acknowledging their true feelings?

Awesome! Gotta love small town romances (meddlers and matchmakers!), and high school enemies finding love! Lilac is a great small-town name, too. Pamela, I hope we’ll see your story out in the world soon!

Pamela’s with us today to talk about the role of an unexpected online connection in helping her identify her path as a romance writer.

Take it away, Pamela!

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Interconnectedness

My kids are always telling me, “Mom, stop shouting in the Bluetooth. You’re hurting my ears.” I can only imagine what my voice did to Romance Writers of America Board Member Courtney Milan’s eardrums when she told me I was an RWA Golden Heart® finalist. I don’t remember much of that conversation, except that I had pulled into a gas station and there was gushing and shrieking on my end. For her part, Courtney, one of my favorite authors, graciously endured my hysterics. I hope her hearing is okay.

If I had to pick a date, I’d say my journey to becoming a Golden Heart finalist began in April 2015. I was trying to figure out what kind of novel I was writing. I did what most people do when they need information. I turned to Google. I typed the phrase “social justice romance fiction.” Dorky, right? Romance fiction is about escape, adventure, and, most of all, happily ever after. Throwing social justice into the mix kind of, you know, defeats the purpose.

But that’s what I was thinking, and that’s what I typed.

Not surprisingly, there weren’t a lot of results. I wasn’t exactly sure what I even meant by the phrase, except that I was writing about love that surprises people, fills them with hope, and bonds them together despite society’s injustices. Love that inspires them to be better for each other and for the world around them.

Pretty much what most romance novels are about, now that I think of it.

As you might expect, none of the search results I looked at contained the exact phrase “social justice romance fiction.” Just those four words sprinkled individually somewhere in the website text.

One of the search results was for RWA member and romance writer Emma Barry. While I had never met Emma or read any of her novels (I’ve since remedied that!), I did notice that she had a cool website. In fact, I liked the design so much that when I was creating my own website a little while later, I returned to authoremmabarry.com to see what WordPress template she’d used.

Lo and behold, when I got to her site I stumbled upon a blog post she’d written that began, “Someone found my blog through the search phrase ‘social justice romance fiction.’” Her post went on to discuss what that phrase meant to her. She also wrote that she’d gone to Goodreads, created a list called Social Justice Romance Fiction, and added her novels to the list. Her blog post was dated April 14, 2015, shortly after my original Google search.

To say I was surprised would be an understatement. My critique partners, Letty James and Alyssa Roberts, got a kick out of the story and encouraged me to contact Emma. I tried to imagine the conversation:

Pam: Hi there. I’m the person who googled the phrase “social justice romance fiction” and landed on your website.

Emma: Uh-huh.

Ultimately, I dismissed the event as insignificant, one of those all too common digital convergences made possible by the Internet.

Fast forward to March 2017 when I learned I was a Golden Heart finalist. Amid all the celebrating and planning for the RWA Conference in Orlando, someone mentioned that winners have to give a short acceptance speech. Once my blood pressure returned to normal, I wrestled my fear of public speaking to the ground and started thinking about what the heck I could possibly say. I suddenly remembered my “social justice romance fiction” Google search and visited the Goodreads Social Justice Romance Fiction list. Guess which author now had books listed there?

You guessed it. Courtney Milan, the RWA Board Member who called to tell me the news.

Coincidence? Fate? Some folks might say this is all dumb luck, others that it’s the angels whispering. Rather than dismiss these occurrences as digital convergences, I now try to stop and take notice. They remind me that we are all interconnected, that organizations like RWA help us all to help each other, no matter where we are in our writing careers.

I recently sent an email to Emma Barry, confessing that I was the person who googled the phrase that inspired her to blog and create the Goodreads list. Our exchange was nothing like my imagined conversation. Like Courtney Milan, Emma was gracious and encouraging. She admitted that she has “continued to think about it in the years since, what social justice romance might be and how the genre does or doesn’t advocate for justice.”

Now Emma Barry has inspired me.

Here’s my question for readers today: When “coincidences” happen in your life, do you think it is luck or fate?

26 responses to “Meet 2017 Golden Heart Finalist Pamela Ferguson!”

  1. Elisa Beatty says:

    Welcome, Pamela!

    I love your web of coincidences…and I think it’s no mistake that you keep bumping into like-minded people online.

    My husband seems to have things like that happen to him all the time, and I always tell him it’s because he stays open to experience and reaches out to strangers fearlessly.

    The universe is just waiting to help us make connections!!

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    • Pamela Ferguson says:

      Hi Elisa! Thank you!

      I love that phrase–“reaching out to strangers fearlessly.” Your husband sounds like he’s mastered the art of staying open to experience. We never know what we can encounter and learn when we do that. For me, making connections is the beginning of discovery!

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      • Elisa Beatty says:

        He really has. And he signs up for all sorts of community activities and classes, and makes new friends all the time. Keeps him fresh and inspired.

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  2. Pamela – I love stories that come full circle like that! How cool. I love the idea of social justice romance fiction – it feels very fitting to me (another coincidence?) that I am reading this only weeks after my most social justice-esque romance released. I was nervous releasing Dirty Little Secrets because I worried that readers only looking for escapism wouldn’t latch onto my story because of the political climate. It’s comforting to hear I’m not alone in this. Write on, social justice romance writers!

    Congrats on your final and good luck in Orlando! Here’s to making the world a better place, one happily ever after at a time! 🙂

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    • Pamela Ferguson says:

      I just added Dirty Little Secrets to my must read list. I keep telling myself that what matters is “a good story, well told.” If a book has achieved that goal, the readers will find it. I hope you add your book to the Goodreads social justice romance list!

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      I love the idea of Romance writing as a progressive force!! It’s always been about seeing the deep value in other people, so it makes perfect sense.

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  3. Tracy Brody says:

    Actually the word I like to use is Godincidences – when God orchestrates those little miracles of connectiveness. 😉

    Congrats on your Golden Heart final and your sale! They’ll be adding another name to the social justice romance author list soon!

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  4. Alexis Daria says:

    Your question makes me think of the quote, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” But I also think the interconnectedness of serendipity or synchronicity is at play.

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  5. Pamela Ferguson says:

    Don’t laugh! I just had to look up serendipity and synchronicity. Am I the only one who gets them mixed up? Yep, I agree–when opportunity knocks it helps if we’ve done some preparation! Of course, I’m not averse to having a totally unexpected opportunity drop into my lap. It might just take me a little longer to get over the shock!

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  6. Welcome, Pamela, and much Ruby love and light. In my world where a spirit moves strong and true, there’s no such thing as coincidences. It’s all about fate…and faith. Good travels on your GH journey!

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  7. Pamela Ferguson says:

    Hi Shelley! Having faith, practicing gratitude, being open to the unexpected–these are the things that have helped me the most so far. Thanks for the warm welcome!

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  8. Melonie says:

    Hey Pamela – this is a great post and the whole sting of event gave me happy little chills! I love this kind of thing and think it very much exists. Fate, kismet, serendipity – we stick our finger in the water and make waves. Even a gentle poke leads to ripples, taking us places we can’t yet imagine. Of course there is the question do we draw the lines ourselves and make connections that don’t actually exist. Rather than view these moments through the pragmatic lens of hindsight, I think it’s more fun to see the magic when elements line up just so.

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  9. Pamela Ferguson says:

    Hi Melonie. I agree. I’m trying to be more aware of these types of events as they unfold. You never know how one connection will lead to another. Like you say, it’s great when things line up!

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  10. Great post, Pamela! It’s incredible what happens to us when we reach out to the possibilities. I love your story of where your search for social justice in our world of romance landed you.

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  11. C.R. Grissom says:

    Pamela,

    I can’t wait to read your story. I loved reading about the inspiration and how it grew from a seed into a GH nominated manuscript. Thank you for sharing your journey!

    Looking forward to meeting you in Orlando!

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    • Pamela Ferguson says:

      Thanks! I’m looking forward to meeting all our Rebelle sisters in Orlando, too!

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  12. Darynda Jones says:

    I’m late to the party, but welcome, Pamela! Your book sounds awesome! I’m hooked. So, what did Reo do to ruin Jack’s football career? I must know! Le sigh…

    Thanks for joining us, and I am 100% fate. I don’t believe in coincidence.

    Thanks so much for joining us!

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      I know, Darynda…I want to know how she did that, too!!

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    • Hi Darynda, sorry I’m only replying now. I had to teach last night and completely forgot about other time zones and checking later. Wish I could tell you what Reo did but I don’t want to spoil any surprises. Wings of Love will be coming out after the RWA conference, in late summer or early fall. Thanks!

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  13. Words cannot express how much I love your post, Pamela!

    I agree with Darynda. There are no true coincidences. And I agree with Elisa: the universe is waiting for us to make connections, we just have to be open to them.

    At my very first RWA national conference, eons ago, I heard Debbie Macomber speak. One thing she said still sticks with me. She’d made a list of 30 people she wanted to meet – from celebrities to writers to motivational speakers – and she did meet some of them. But she also made a list of 30 blank spaces. These were people she was meant to meet who would make an impact of her life, but she didn’t know them yet.

    I don’t have a list, but since then I’ve noticed people coming into my life at just the right time. And I am grateful!

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      That’s such a cool story, Susannah!!

      And, definitely, Nationals is a place to be as open to the universe as possible!! You never know who you’ll meet who’ll change your life!

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    • Thirty blank spaces. I love that phrase. We really don’t know what’s in store, do we? Being open to what happens brings so many surprises and unexpected gifts! Thanks!

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  14. Elisa Beatty says:

    Thanks so much for being with us today, Susannah!!

    Good luck at Nationals–may you make many connections you couldn’t imagine you’d make!

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