It is 1965, the era of love, light and revolution. While the romantic narrator imagines a bucolic future in an old country house with children running through the dappled sunlight, her husband plots to organize a revolution and fight a guerrilla war in the Catskills.
Their fantasies are on a collision course.
The clash of visions turns into an inner war of identities when the author embraces radical feminism; she and her husband are comrades in revolution but combatants in marriage; she is a woman warrior who spends her days sewing long silk dresses reminiscent of a Henry James novel. One half of her isn't speaking to the other half.
And then, just when it seems that things cannot possibly get more explosive, her wilderness cabin burns down and Pamela finds herself left with only the clothes on her back.
From her vividly evoked existential childhood ("the only way I would know for sure that I existed was if others lots of others acknowledged it") to writing her first children's book on a sugar high during a glucose tolerance test, Pamela Jane takes the reader along on a highly entertaining personal, political, and psychological adventure.
Paperback: 246 pages
Publisher: Open Books Press (February 1, 2016)
An Incredible Talent For Existing: A Writer’s Story is available in print and as an ebook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound.
Book Giveaway Contest:
To win a copy of An Incredible Talent For Existing: A Writer’s Story, please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes next Monday, March 14th at 12:00 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!
About the Author:
Pamela Jane has published over twenty-five children’s books with Houghton Mifflin, Atheneum, Simon & Schuster, Penguin-Putnam, and Harper. Her books include Noelle of the Nutcracker illustrated by Jan Brett, Little Goblins Ten illustrated by NY Times best-selling illustrator, Jane Manning, and Little Elfie One (Harper 2015). Pride and Prejudice and Kitties: A Cat-Lover’s Romp Through Jane Austen’s Classic (Skyhorse) was featured in The Wall Street Journal, BBC America, The Huffington Post, The New York Times Sunday Book Review and The Daily Dot, and has just come out in paper. Pamela Jane has published short stories and essays with The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Antigonish Review, Literary Mama. Pamela Jane is a writer and editor for womensmemoirs.com.
Below are three clips of her work:
The Ambivalent Agnostic: An Adoption Story
5 Tips for Getting Your Memoir Published in 2016
Memoir Writers Take Note: Help! I Can't Press the "Send" Button
Find Pamela Jane Online:
Memoir Coaching: http://www.memoircoaching.com
Pamela's Website: http://www.pamelajane.com (children’s books)
Pride and Prejudice Kitties: http://www.prideandprejudiceandkitties.com (humorous book)
Twitter: @memoircoaching, @austencats
----- Interview by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto
WOW: Pamela, thank you so much for choosing WOW! for your book blog tour. It has been such a pleasure.
I understand you rewrote your opening several times before choosing the opening for An Incredible Talent for Existing. What helped lead you in this direction and what do you like most about the current opening?
Pamela Jane: I tried out dozens openings over the years. I wrote openings that were funny, wry, suspenseful or poignant. Each one, in its way, was alluring, like a shiny door knob that leads inside a house you long to explore. I finally wrote a flash-forward when I am eighteen and running 3,000 miles away from home with my nest egg – a single dime – tucked securely into my pocket. I felt that this opening oriented the reader to where the story was headed. (The title of my book, by the way, in tongue in cheek because, as a child, I felt that my only talent was existing and I better make the most of it.)
WOW: You apparently have a talent for storytelling as well, but I certainly love the title!
If you could chose just a small excerpt from An Incredible Talent for Existing, what excerpt would be your favorite and why?
Pamela Jane: The Writer published an excerpt from my memoir recently:
"JUST WAIT: A Short Story Rejected in Grade School Becomes a Cause of Action"
WOW: You really are making waves and getting noticed; how incredibly exciting! Tell us more about your first children's book (the one you say was written on a sugar high from a glucose tolerance test).
Pamela Jane: Noelle of the Nutcracker illustrated by Jan Brett, is the story of an ambitious ballerina doll who longs to dance in the Nutcracker ballet. At the time I wrote it, I was taking a course with a famous writing instructor at The New School. When she read my story, she said, “If you want to get published, don’t write fantasy, don’t write seasonal material, and for heaven’s sake, don’t write about dolls!” She advised me instead to write about my authentic childhood experience. The trouble was my story about an ambitious ballerina doll was my authentic childhood experience. As I little girl, I had been impressed by the apparent dedication and discipline a beautiful ballerina doll my aunt sent me from New York. Because of what my teacher said, however, I was convinced that no publisher would be interested in my book. It was my friend, Debbie, who persuaded me to send the story to Houghton Mifflin, and I only did it to prove she was wrong. As it turned out, I was wrong.
WOW: I'm glad for your teacher and your stubborn will. If not for them, we may not have met. What advice would you give other authors interested in publishing their memoir?
Pamela Jane: It’s well-worn wisdom, but the best advice is not to give up. A manuscript languishing in a drawer has 0% chance of selling. When you submit, you have the hope of acceptance or at least feedback that will either fuel your determination (to prove the agent or editor wrong) or help you tweak your manuscript or proposal to make it more publishable.
WOW: I think it's important for others to hear what you wrote above. Having the support of someone who has made it happen, is important. Who has been your biggest supporter during your writing career and specifically concerning publishing your memoir?
Pamela Jane: My husband has been my biggest supporter by believing in me. As far as publishing the memoir, my biggest supporter was this angry little genie inside who was furious at the people in my life – teachers, my first husband, family members – who said I didn’t have the talent or discipline to become a writer. Of course, there were many supportive people along the way, too.
In spite of that angry little genie, the greatest impetus for writing my memoir was of love of story, of the natural world, and of the past.
WOW: The question is, does your husband know about the angry little genie? (laughs)
How do you deal with rejection and what wisdom can you share with others?
Pamela Jane: I jokingly advise becoming a masochist and imagining that rejection feels great. Truthfully, rejection stings and sometimes exasperates when your ms. is rejected for reasons other than its quality, such as when the editor has recently published something similar. You get accustomed to rejection in time, though, and it becomes part of the writing life and something every writer faces.
WOW: Hoping you won't keep the genie locked in the bottle... What's next? What can we expect from you moving forward?
Pamela Jane: I am having fun publishing essays and I continue to write children’s books. I am also working on a humorous travelogue on my experiences living in Florence for several years with my family. The subtitle is “No One Feels Sorry for You When You’re Living in Tuscany” which is true!
WOW: I won't be feeling sorry for anyone living in Tuscany - but I sure wouldn't mind an invitation to visit!
You've said it took over two decades to write your memoir. What was holding you back or pushing you forward?
Pamela Jane: My book needed time. I had to write thousands of pages (and toss them out) before I found my story and my voice, which tends to be humorous but also serious. It also takes time for a writer to relax into her natural voice, like an actor who does not appear to be “acting.” Here is the writing formula I expressed in my memoir:
Agony + (obsession x conflict) + panic + 10,000 drafts – total crap = finished memoir
A Word of Encouragement:
I have seen many writers work on manuscripts that looked hopeless, and I would encourage other writers not to get discouraged by this or by rejection, but to continue forward, if necessary “without faith and without hope” (as Isak Dinesen said of writing her memoir, Out of Africa). Don’t worry about adjusting your attitude; just sit down and write. The rest will follow!
----------Blog Tour Dates
Monday, March 7th @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview and book giveaway!
Tuesday, March 8th @ Writers Pay it Forward
Don’t miss today’s guest post “Likeability: Getting Your Readers to Hang Out with You” and giveaway of the memoir, An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer’s Story by Pamela Jane.
Wednesday, March 9th @ All Things Audry
Pamela Jane visits All Things Audry today with a guest post “The Light Side: Adding Humor to a Dark Story”. Don’t miss this great post and a giveaway of Pamela’s memoir, An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer’s Story.
Thursday, March 10th @ Choices with Madeline Sharples
Madeline Sharples hosts fellow memoir writer Pamela Jane as Pamela provides today’s guest post: “Trimming the Pie Crust: What to Leave out of Your Memoir”. Don’t miss this insightful post and get in on the giveaway to win your own copy of Pamela Jane’s memoir, An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer’s Story. Good Luck!
Friday, March 11th @ Colloquium
Pamela Jane visits the popular blog Colloquium as she answers the question "Writing About Sex: Fade in or Fade Out?" and offers a giveaway of her memoir, An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story.
Monday, March 14th @ Mari McCarthy’s Create Write Now
Join Pamela Jane with a guest post titled: Organic Organizing for Writers. In addition to this fabulous guest post, readers can also participate in a giveaway for Pamela Jane's memoir, An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story.
Tuesday, March 15th @ Bring On Lemons
Pamela Jane writers today's guest post: Do You Need a Writing Coach? (5 Tips on Finding a Good One). This is fabulous advice you don't want to miss. Once lucky reader will also win a copy in the giveaway for Pamela Jane's memoir An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story.
Tuesday, March 15th @ Lisa Haselton Reviews and Interviews
Don't miss today's interview between Lisa Haselton and Pamela Jane as Pamela gives us some insight into her memoir An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story.
Wednesday, March 16th @ Jerry Waxler
Fellow author and memoir expert Jerry Waxler reviews Pamela Jane's An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story.
Thursday, March 17th @ Selling Books with Cathy Stucker
Cathy Stucker interviews Pamela Jane to find our more about Pamela's memoir An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story.
Friday, March 18th @ Lauren Scharhag
Author Pamela Jane offers a great guest post "A New (and winning) Perspective on Rejection" and has graciously given a copy of her memoir for a giveaway. Don't miss this blog tour stop to find out more about Pamela Jane's memoir, An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story.
Thursday, March 24th @ Lisa M Buske
Find out what Lisa M Buske and her daughter have to say about the touching memoir An Incredible Talent for Existing by Pamela Jane.
Monday, March 28th @ Sherrey Meyer
Sherrey Meyer reviews Pamela Jane's memoir An Incredible Talent for Existing.
Tuesday, March 29th @ Linda Appleman Shapiro
Fellow author and memoir writer Linda Appleman Shapiro shares her thoughts as she reviews Pamela Jane's memoir, An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story.
Thursday, March 31st @ Coming Down the Mountain with Karen Jones Gowen
Karen Jones Gowen shares her thoughts after reading An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story by Pamela Jane. This is one memoir and one memoir review you won't want to miss!
Friday, April 8th @ Kathleen Pooler
Kathleen Pooler puts Pamela Jane in the author spotlight today as readers learn more about Pamela Jane's memoir An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story. There will also be a giveaway for one lucky reader to receive their own copy of this intriguing book.
***** BOOK GIVEAWAY CONTEST *****
Enter to win a copy of An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writer's Story by Pamela Jane! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget next Monday, March 14th!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Crystal--Thanks for this interview. It sounds like a book full of passion and life lessons.ReplyDelete
Pamela--I used the link and read your story about adopting your daughter. What a tale! If your memoir is anything like that story, it's a keeper of a book. Congratulations on your newest book, and good luck with your future writing.
Wow, this sounds like an intriguing story - it's on my must-read list!ReplyDelete
Thank you, Sioux! Life is quite a journey and it's fun when you can turn it into a story; my daughter is almost 22 now.ReplyDelete
Peihome, Thank you for your comment; I hope it's a fun and engaging read for you!ReplyDelete
I read this interview again and I must say - Pamela Jane, you are one amazing woman!ReplyDelete
Thank you for this opportunity!
Thank you, Crystal; the interview was a lot of fun!ReplyDelete