Why The Chicken Crossed The Road


Here at Risky Regencies, we decided that once in a while we’d like to take a little break and have you, our wonderful visitors, take over! This month, we welcome Pamela Bolton-Holifield, aka Doglady, who is a 2008 Golden Heart finalist. Congrats, Pam, and welcome!

Hello, my name is Pam, and I am a Big Fat Chicken. There, I said it. Bwawk! Bwawk! Bwaak! Let me explain.

There are two things I have always done. I have always sung and I have always told stories. My Mom says I could sing every word of the Frosty Morning Bacon commercial when I was 3. Don’t remember that one. I’m sure it was a toe tapper. Apparently about the same time I started telling stories. These weren’t the “I didn’t do it. The dog did it,” kind of stories, but real stories with characters and adventures.

Here comes the chicken part. I was fine as long as my audience was doting grandparents and my adoring Dad, who thought I could do no wrong. I miss you, Dad, every day! Put me in front of an audience that has even one stranger in it and I clammed up like Ebeneezer Scrooge with his last penny. I sealed my lips, shook my head, and that was it. Not a word, not a note. Nothing. See? Chicken!!!

I wrote my first novel when I was 9. It was an 800 page romance novel about a half-breed Indian scout and the general’s daughter. My Mom suggested I let the lady who drove the bookmobile in the English village where we lived read it. Nope. Not doing it. To this day not a soul has read I Hate You General Sir. Chicken syndrome strikes again. Although with a title like that I think my poultry imitation was justified.

When I was 12 there was a school-wide talent contest. The prize was a humongous book–The Complete History of Great Britain. We’re talking a “his lordship was killed when his Complete History fell on him in the library. Killed him instantly and left a terrible port stain on the Persian rug” kind of book. I wanted that book. I did not want to sing in the contest. Bwaak! Enter my two best friends, Elizabeth Burt and Tammy Burton. They insisted I enter the contest. In fact, they signed me up for it without telling me. They picked the song–Wandering Star from Paint Your Wagon. They literally shoved me onto the stage when it came my time to sing. And I did, sing that is, and I won. I still have that book. If I can get to that book anyone who breaks into my house is a dead man.

Of course there were consequences. My teacher called my parents in for a conference. I knew I was in trouble. The song has the word “hell” in it. I was in trouble for singing the wod “hell” in a school assembly. I had my defense all ready. “They made me do it!” I was wrong. He told my parents I had real talent. Before I knew it I was talking music theory and piano lessons at the London College of Music. The rest, as they say, is history. My opera career took me all over the world. I sang in some of the best opera houses, cathedrals, and concert halls in Europe, and I had a ball. And I cannot tell you how many times I paused before I went onstage and thought “How did I get here??”

Fast forward a little over a year ago. My local bookseller sent me an email about the Avon FanLit event. “You should do this,” she said. Nope. Not gonna. Bwaak! She bugged me. Worse, she called my BFF and got her to bug me. I finally signed up for it and entered the first chapter just to get them to shut up. They were relentless. Every round I entered, and every round I told them, “My stuff is crap.” My chapter 3 crap won! So I decided to try writing again. I discovered that writing was like the bad boy you keep taking back. He leaves town, treats you bad, and you still take him back.

I entered Lost in Love in contests, and it made the finals in 3. It won the Royal Ascot, and I was thrilled. Then my BFF teamed up with my critique partner, Erin. They bugged me some more. They harassed me. They refused to let up until I said I would enter the Golden Heart. It became a big conspiracy. I had all kinds of people encouraging, aka badgering, me to enter, including some ladies you all know–Risky Regencies, The Goddess Blogs, the Wet Noodle Posse, History Hoydens, and Romance Bandits. How do you say no to two authors whose work you admire–Diane Gaston and Anna Campbell?

Adding fuel to the fire, everyone in my writing group–Passion’s Slaves (hey, Gillian, Erin, Terry Jo, and Marianne!)–decided to enter, too. Kind of like the group of friends who decide it’s okay to streak across the quad naked if you do it in a large group. Not that I know about that sort of thing…

So here I am, a Golden Heart finalist, and no clue how I got here. The writing part is easy (most days), but letting my baby go out into the wide world–that is hard. Especially for the Queen of the Big Fat Chickens.

There are those who say romance novels are fairy tales written for grown women. I happen to like fairy tales. One of my favorite Broadway musicals is based on a fairy tale. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella has lyrics that describe how I feel about romance novels.

In my own little corner in my own little chair
I can be whatever I want to be.
On the wings of my fancy I can fly anywhere
And the world will open its arms to me.

My friends wouldn’t let me sit in my little corner any more. I have lots of stories to tell and now I just might get the chance to tell them to the world.

Why did the chicken cross the road? She was shoved! And she thanks God for her pushy friends every day.

About Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

Writer (as Amanda McCabe, Laurel McKee, Amanda Carmack), history geek, yoga enthusiast, pet owner!
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