powerpam V.2.0

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I’ve always been a big believer in moving forward. I’m presently working on the fourth version of an outline for my new novel, a book that is a significant departure from my Kate Lange legal thriller series. This is a book that spans three continents against the background of war – and it is set in the late 18th century.

It has challenged me on many levels. Firstly, I needed to become an “expert” in the period about which I am writing. I have spent the past twelve months researching various facets of my book, utilizing the excellent university library system we have in Halifax. I finally feel that I have reached a point where I can understand my characters, the events that shaped their lives, and the places in which they live.

However, it has not been an easy process to develop the characters, create a suspense plot framed around historic events, and define the scope of the book. In fact, it feels very much like I am mired at times, trying to dig deeper, move faster, and get to the final destination before the story is ready to yield.

What is interesting is the personal journey that has been evolving behind the story building process. I think this professional and creative challenge I created for myself has spurred a desire to take on other challenges.

Last April, I returned to running, after giving it up years ago when I tore each of my knees in skiing accidents, and then developed a chronic shoulder injury due to a car accident. With three runs under my belt, I committed myself to downloading the Nike running app. At my daughter’s suggestion, I created the username, “powerpam.” Within an hour of logging in, I had been taken out at the knees by a large dog, crashed on the back of my head, and suffered a concussion that took several months of recovery, and a sprained knee that took even more. I really didn’t think I’d be able to return to running. My knees had taken enough abuse.

But in October, powerpam powered up again (and so did powerpeaches, my pug), and this week I’ll hit the 50 km level on my Nike running app. Despite the myriad of aches in my body, it feels great to accomplish this.

Then, my eldest daughter asked me if she could take French lessons to improve her oral fluency for her International Baccalaureate French exam in February. It was just the impetus I needed. My main character in my work in progress is half French. I have been reading many translated memoirs and digitized archival letters written in that period. My goal is to visit the settings in my book after the first draft is written, and hopefully view original documents in museums and libraries in those settings. I had been privately lamenting the loss of my fluency in French.

Thus, when my daughter requested French tutoring, I asked her if she wanted a practice partner. Et voilà, we are now enrolled in bi-weekly semi-private lessons. We had our first oral assessment today. It was, shall we say, a bit rough. I have not been in a French class in 25 years. But I could not resist the opportunity to take French lessons with my daughter, who is the same age I was when I spent the summer in Montreal, studying French. It is fun to rediscover this journey with her. The bonus is the French school is next door to a French bakery. Croissants, mes amis?

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I was recently interviewed for the Dalhousie Magazine in their Alumni Spotlight. The editor asked me if there was anything I wanted their readers to know about me. My answer: I am a lifelong learner. That is one reason why I love being an author. I can explore so many subject matters, meet so many interesting people, and have a dialogue with my readers.

And hopefully, run those croissants off along the way.


14 thoughts on “powerpam V.2.0

  • Pamela Callow Post author

    Thank you, Deb! I really love this story. That is why I keep working at it, although the Kate Lange series keeps beckoning me to write the three proposals I have on my shelf. One pushes the other, though, so it’s all good. I hope the French lessons will add another layer to the research/context, and it feels like the timing was right.

  • Jennie Marsland

    Powerpam, I salute you! When a writer becomes stagnant, so does the writing. Your new project sounds wonderful, and I’m sure you and your daughter will love the French lessons – and the croissants! En avant!

    • Pamela Callow Post author

      Thank you, Jennie. I am enjoying these new challenges, and hope that my French will be reasonable by the time I go to France this summer. If nothing else, there will be a few croissants enjoyed in the process!

  • Magi Nams

    Pam, I think challenge feeds creativity and enhances discipline, both of which are essential for successful writing. Being a lifelong learner is a fabulous way of embracing that necessary challenge. Kudos to you! I started taking piano lessons at age 47 and am now working on my grade 8. It’s been an amazing journey in terms of mental challenge and discipline, both of which sharpen my writing saw. Thanks for the inspiring post!

    • Pamela Callow Post author

      Magi, I am so impressed that you are working toward your Grade 8 in piano. About ten years ago, I started piano lessons — which I loved — but that shoulder injury wouldn’t let me continue. I played clarinet and guitar as a student, so I could read treble clef but not bass. I can see how it keeps your mind very sharp! I was struck by how challenging it was to read two clefs simultaneously, while playing different rhythms and dynamic ranges with each hand, and one foot. We talked about playing musical instruments during the panel for “Is There A Soundtrack to Your Book”, for which I was Panel Master at Thrillerfest. Einstein played violin and often thought in musical terms. It made me think about playing piano, with all those various elements, and how it is rather like pulling together the various elements of a book: plot threads, character arcs, themes, voice, tone, setting, etc.

  • Bev Pettersen

    Powerpam. Love it! You’re very inspiring. And it’s not surprising that your books are so realistic considering all the research. Looking forward to your new one.

    • Pamela Callow Post author

      Thanks, Bev! I think writers have a different ebbs and flows in the creative cycle. Maybe because I have spent so much time researching, I have felt the need to “do” more things.

  • Norb Vonnegut

    Pam, I think you should write under the name, Power Pam. The running, the French classes–you earned it!

    Can’t wait to read your book.

    • Pamela Callow Post author

      Thanks, Norb. I have to say, I like “powerpam”. It makes me feel infused with purpose! Perhaps I shall create a pseudonym…

  • Pamela Callow Post author

    Wow, those all sound like great things to do, Donna. I, too, would love to join a choir, but I think I’ve hit my max. Always a balance between filling the well, and using the well (ie. writing). And yes, I’m glad I have my daughter’s enthusiasm to keep me going in the French lessons!

  • Donna Galanti

    Pam, you inspire me to pull out my French textbooks and bilingual dictionary from school (over 25 years ago myself!). I love the idea of being a life long learner and have been exploring new things to learn recently. One is to take a Plein Air Impressionist painting course (terrified of being awful!) and the other is joining a concert choir (haven’t done in over 25 years either). As writers we get a special bonus by learning new things – they add to our writer toolbox inventory to use for our future books! Sounds like you’re enjoying your tutoring with your daughter – what a wonderful thing to share (and the croissants of course).

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