Book Releases

Barely Breathing (A Colorado High Country Novel) — Look for the first book in my new Colorado High Country series on May 10! This new contemporary series is set in the small mountain community of Scarlet Springs and focuses on the lives and adventures of members of an alpine search and rescue team. It will be available in print and ebook, with audiobook coming sometime this fall.

Soul Deep out in audiobook! — Jack West, widower, rancher and former Army Ranger, gets his own love story in this special I-Team novella, which was picked by readers at Grave Tells as the Best Contemporary Romance of 2015. It will be out in audiobook any day now.

Seduction Game is out in paperback, (I-Team #7) — Holly and Nick’s story is out in all formats — ebook, audiobook, and paperback. Look for it in Wal-Mart, the Kroger chain of stores, Barnes & Noble, and your local bookseller.

Dead By Midnight: An I-Team Christmas is out! — The grand finale of the I-Team series finds all the couples you love brought together when terrorists attack holiday festivities at a historica hotel in downtown Denver. It’s bad news for the terrorists. They have no clue what they’ve done when they take Marc Hunter and his friends hostage. Featuring cameos by the men of New York Times bestselling author Kaylea Cross’s Hostage Rescue Team series. Available in ebook and paperback.

About Me

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I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.


Seductive Musings

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The road behind me and the road ahead

For weeks, I’ve been wondering what I should write here. Should I try to share my eight-month battle against breast cancer? Should I share how I'm feeling emotionally these days? Should I try to take my observations and experiences as a cancer patient and try to say something profound about life?

The truth is that a part of me just wants to forget everything that happened this year, starting on April 21. I can’t, of course, so here’s a quick summary.

Cancer treatment sucked. Between surgery, chemo, and radiation, I spent almost eight months dealing with different kinds of sickness and pain. The healthcare professionals weren’t always the compassionate people they needed to be. They weren’t always on the ball. And the cost... It was nothing less than obscene, making me doubt the United States’ right to consider itself a first world nation.

I feel emotionally and physically broken, devastated by loss, and afraid this terrible disease will come back. That’s how most cancer patients feel. It’s hard to get psyched about the future when you’re not sure you’re going to have one.

Life makes no sense to me at the moment. I feel distant from everything I used to love. My faith is in tatters, and I can barely relate to the life I had before. How can I go back to it? Perhaps I can’t.

Yes, 2014 has been the worst of times. But before that, for two precious months, it was the BEST of times. After years of working my ass off as a single mother, putting in long hours at the paper then writing fiction in all of my spare time, life seemed at last to be going my way.

On February 10, I got on a plane and lived The Dream. Ever since being an exchange student to Denmark, I have wanted to live in Europe. And although I wasn’t actually able to relocate to Copenhagen, I traveled back and forth between France, Denmark and Spain, doing book signings in Paris and Madrid, spending time with my beloved Danish family and friends, making new friends, taking in historical sites, art, excellent food, and new experiences with Benjamin and then with both Alec and Benjamin. What could be better than bumming around Paris with both of my sons? When we stood together on March 28 in front of the Eiffel Tower after enjoying a sumptuous meal there with our friend Pierre, I felt I had finally reached the part of my own story where I could settle in and enjoy my own happily ever after.

I came home on March 30 and was diagnosed with Stage 1c breast cancer in April. Poof! There went the magic.

What followed were a mastectomy, chemo, and radiation. The only good to come out of the past eight months — other than catching the disease early and hopefully saving my life — is the amazing support my family, friends, fellow authors, and readers demonstrated every single day during this long nightmare.

There were some fun times. My sister spent seven weeks with me, and I always laugh when she’s around. My brother David took me on a surprise trip to Mount Rushmore, which I really enjoyed, even though we got the news that my Danish father had passed on a few minutes after we got out of the car. Benjamin and I went on an Oregon Trail trip, visiting stops along the trail, including Fort Laramie. During chemo, I tried to make the most of it, going on long drives in the mountains and taking a few easy hikes with Benjamin.

That didn’t take the ugliness away, but those trips were my attempt to live as fully as I could despite the ugliness.

I feel that I must say this: I do not believe that God has a plan for me that includes breast cancer. I don’t believe that breast cancer was a “path” I was “meant” to walk or a “journey” I needed to take. I don’t believe it is/was a gift or a blessing. I didn’t “manifest” it. I don’t believe I should be grateful for the experience. I don’t buy into any of that fatalist, pseudo-spiritual crap intended to downplay the horror of these past eight months.

It was terrible misfortune, a major bummer, a shitty bit of luck. It sucked.

So where does that leave me?

My hair is growing back. Apart from starting Tamoxifen later this week, I am done with treatment. I’m facing years of regular check-ups and tests to monitor my health, a situation that will probably involve a fair amount of anxiety even if all goes well. I also still have to undergo reconstruction, hopefully sometime during 2015. But apart from one major surgery and regular check-ups and tests, I can go back to my regular life, knowing I have about a 90 percent chance of making it five years without a recurrence.

Hurray, right?

When I was in the midst of chemo and thought about going back to my life, I imagined myself being like Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas morning, clinging to his bedpost and saying again and again, “I’m alive!” then dancing through the streets in my pajamas. But that’s not how it’s shaping up. Between an overwhelming sense of loss and nagging worry, whatever joy I might have felt is largely muted.

I am working with a counselor to try to make my way beyond this emotional morass by utilizing cognitive behavioral therapy to get control of my thoughts. I’ve also registered for a meditation class, despite a life-long reluctance to do all the stereotypical things Boulder people do. (I grew up surrounded by happy, shining people carrying yoga mats who seemed oblivious to the hardships of the world that I saw as a reporter, and it left a bad taste in my mouth.)

I need to change my diet and exercise, but that is tricky, too. I tore the meniscus in my knee midway through chemo, so walking and exercise are tough for me at the moment. Yes, I could swim, except that I can’t. Swimming requires swimming-appropriate fake breasts and an adapted swimsuit, so that’s expensive and out for the moment. Still, I have permission to ride a stationary bike, so I’m going to be doing that even if I’ve always disliked that as a form of exercise. Quelle joi.

Most of all, I need to get back to writing, or I’ll be living in my parents’ basement by June. I started Holly’s story before my diagnosis, and I hope I can get back into it and finish it quickly so that I can continue to eat in the daily fashion to which I have grown accustomed. Plus, the book has to be really good to make up for the year I’ve been off the market and for the inconvenience to my publisher.

Pressure? You bet!

These are the challenges that frame 2015. I hope I can find the courage to be equal to them. I hope I can find a way to transform the grief, the rage, and the fear. However long my life is, I need to live it to the fullest.

It’s Project Happiness all over again, except that I am both weaker — and stronger — than I was before. Life has gotten pretty fucking real, and so must I. Fortunately, my record for dealing with horrible days and harsh reality stands at a gleaming 100 percent.

In the meantime, please know how much your posts here and on Facebook meant to me. I saved every card and gift you all sent to me. Your donations to my medical fund and the Good Food Fund made such a difference in my life. Forgive, if you can, the fact that I wasn’t able to write thank you notes or contact you all personally in response. The cards are saved in a special box that is now so overflowing with good wishes and concern that I can’t close it. I have read and re-read them all.

Here’s hoping for a happy and HEALTHY New Year for us all!


My prayers continue. Long distance hugs Pamela.

WendyB said...

Thank you. Thank you for your honesty, and for laying yourself bare to people, like me, who really are just fans of your books and have become genuinely (distantly of course) involved in your shit year and care about how it has turned out. Thank you for trusting that other people mean the best by you. It's a bit of a rare thing. So. as you get through this next year please remember there are many people who do care, even if we are kind of lurkers who couldn't and wouldn't presume to be *real* friends. here is hoping that on the 30 Dec 2015 your spirits are higher. Cheers. Wendy

I've been following your story, Pamela, and it's so good to know you're on the upswing of this truly crappy disease. My neighbor just passed the five year mark, my sister-in-law is at about seven years, now, I think. There are survivors, and you are one of them, but I don't blame you for being pissed off. There is nothing positive about cancer beyond beating it. You're definitely on the right course. My best to you.

On top of all the cancer crap, you tore your meniscus? Total suckage. I agree with you that this pain isn't part of God's plan. What kind of God would make you suffer that way? I think this pain is part of life, unfortunately. I've also been highly suspicious of New-Age granola mindfulness and meditation, but I started incorporating it more into my psychology practice and have found that it really helps my anxious brain. I learned some "noble truths" from Buddhism that might apply:

1. Pain is inevitable. Life is difficult and painful by its very nature, not because we're doing it wrong.

2. Suffering is optional. Suffering is what happens when we struggle with whatever our life experience is, rather than opening to our life experience. Suffering occurs because we don't want anything to change. Craving anything is suffering.

I hope your suffering is minimal as you deal with this pain, Pamela. And hugs about the death of your father.

I started the Blakewell/Kenleigh series and love it! You're such a talented writer.

This comment has been removed by the author.

First of all, Pamela, you are one of the bravest people I know. I agree that you went through a horrible, traumatic period in your life. And because of it you will probably never be the same person you were before. But there is nothing wrong with becoming a different person. I dearly wish you hadn't gone through this torture and misery, but it is over, and I understand that you do not ever want to relive this moment - even in your thoughts.

As far as your novels go, don't think people have forgotten you. People still ask about you (I am a bookseller). I remember that a few years ago Greg Iles had a horrible automobile accident. He didn't write for a year, but his fans waited patiently for his return. And when he did - he came back with another hit!

I think therapy and meditation are wonderful for any traumatic experience, so it can certainly be a positive way to help you cope with this terrible eight-month experience.

As far as you emotions, mood and outlook on life - all I can say is that I didn't actually live your experience, yet I, too have changed because of it. I realize that life is not forever and, therefore, should be enjoyed and lived to the fullest. I have learned that we should always let those we love know how we feel about them, and never take them for granted.

And finally, I believe your novels will still be wonderful! However now they will encompass the "new you" and will therefore be different. Still wonderful, but different.

I wish you great health, peace, happiness and freedom from pain for 2015. I wish you a brand-new novel (okay, that is for me because I miss you). And finally, I wish that your life will return to "normal." Maybe it will be a new "normal, but it will be normal.


I wish you well in 2015. I was not as involved as your other readers. I became a new mom in May and my son took up much of my time. However, I kept reading your posts and praying for you. I have thought of you often and am so happy you have passed this major hurdle. I know the coming years will be hard but as you know, you have so many devoted readers cheering you on daily.

Good luck with Holly ' story. Can't wait to read it.

You are so loved. Hugs.

librarypat said...

It is "refreshing" not have honest comments from someone who has faced what you have the past year. So often you get the Suzie Sunshine recap of how it has wonderfully changed their view of life. I am glad for this who feel that way, but the majority have a difficult time dealing with the changes and challenges. My husband was lucky enough to have his rare form of cancer found at stage one. It is normally not found until stage 3 or 4 and survival rates to 5 years are dismal. That was in 1991. He is still healthy and hearty and suffering from the normal aches and pains of growing older. That doesn't mean that even now an odd pain doesn't have him worrying it has come back. It is that insecurity that the unseen enemy can sneak up and strike any time that will most likely hang over him forever. He has decided to live life to the fullest and try no to let it interfere.
Keep fighting to reclaim your life. You have shown your strength in so many ways in the past, I know you can do it. It will be discouraging at times, but don't let the villain cancer win. You know your fans and friends are behind you. We won't forget you or your work, and will wait, more or less patiently, for you next book, sure it will be worth it.
Try to relax, meditate (it is helpful), and let your heart and soul heal. You have already made the effort with your body. You have our support and best wishes.

You're such an amazing author, and your writing has honestly inspired me to take a greater role in volunteering for women focused organizations (be they a shelter or a group on campus that brought attention to trafficking in america) You're an inspiration- you have presented amazing stories both fictional and scary real. I know whatever you publish next will only be even better because of the experiences you've had the past year. It's been a crazy year for both of us. You with a cancer diagnosis and going through chemo and everything that comes with surviving, me with the diagnosis of an autoimmune disease and having to find a way to pay for everything, and knowing i'll have to live with it the rest of my life. Honestly, because I found out about you're diagnosis just after mine, I've been looking to your progress as inspiration. Even when you were talking about how angry you were or frustrated, I felt inspired because it meant I wasn't being selfish or stupid for being angry and frustrated. That it was a common feeling to experience.
I really can't wait to see what 2015 will bring, your writing is one of the things I've missed, so I'm very excited to see what comes next!

Also- I forgot to sign that.
Much love!
Christine Bruce

Thank you for continuing to share. Wishing and hoping 2015 treats you. Heckuva lot better.
Those are some snappy gentlemen posing in the pic with you :)

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Favorite Writing Quotes

"I am an artist. I am here to live out loud."
—Emile Zola

"I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day."
—James Joyce

"Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery."
—Jane Austen

"Writers are those for whom writing is more difficult that it is for others."
—Ernest Hemingway

"When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth."
—Kurt Vonnegut

"The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar is the test of their power."
—Toni Morrison

"No tears in the author, no tears in the reader."
—Robert Frost.

"I'm a writer. I give the truth scope."
—the character of Chaucer in
A Knight's Tale