Monday, January 14, 2013

BIG Change for Pam Crooks!

Have you read the bestselling motivational book, ‘WHO MOVED MY CHEESE?’?  This little blockbuster gives the reader courage to face change by way of a story so simple a child could understand it.

I could certainly relate.  As an author who cut her eyeteeth on western romance back in the 90’s, I wrote nothing but that time period, and finally in 2000, I sold my first one.  I continued writing western romance until 2010 when my gut--and the market--told me it was time to make a change.

I made a conscious decision to leave the line I was writing for.  People thought I was crazy.  I had a good career going, I had name recognition and a reputation for writing some decent westerns.  Hundreds of writers, maybe thousands, would give their right arm for what I had.  Countless writers had tried to get their foot in the door to my powerhouse-publisher and failed.  Why would I give it up?  

Life got in the way, and I went a couple of years without a new book out.  I felt adrift, for sure.  I had friends happily announcing new sales.  I was stuck at a day job with no book deadlines, no covers to anticipate, nothing to update on my website. 

During that time, the ebook revolution was in full swing.  I got the rights back to my first four western romances, and I self-published them.  Big change there.  I never thought I’d read on an e-reader, and here I was, selling books for them.  I found myself loving my Kindle more than I ever thought I would.  

Fast forward to November, 2012.  I had this romantic suspense I’d written, just sitting on a disc on my desk.  Contemporary.   Nothing like the other books I’d written before.  Was I good enough to pull off a story like that?  Would readers get hooked by the suspense, the action, the romance?

Evidently, they did.  The first two months have brought me more sales than my first four books combined.  HER MOTHER’S KILLER was a big change for me, but thankfully, it’s been a good one.  I’ve pushed through a new wall, enabling me to continue on to write more romantic suspense if I wanted.

But wait.  There was more change in store for me.  I wasn’t idle in the time since my last western romance was released.  I’d been working on a new series so different, so hugely sweeping that I was compelled to take a pseudonym before I introduced it to the world.

THE SPYGLASS PROJECT, by Frankie Astuto (that’s me!) is Book 1 of the Secret Six series and mostly written from the male point-of-view.  It’s not western, and it’s not contemporary, but it’s an historical suspense set in the 1920s.  Mafia, Prohibition, Nazis.  I threw in an ex-military hero brimming with American patriotism.  He’s hurting, and he’s angry, and he wants revenge.  Mostly, he just wants the truth.  And with a little help from a beautiful Italian woman and the mysterious double-agent who betrayed him . . . well, his story needed to be told.

There you have it.  HUGE change for Pam Crooks.  Who is now Frankie Astuto.  But I’m exhilarated by the change in my career.  I’m thrilled someone moved my cheese to a new place far more exciting.  It’s going to be a good thing.

By the way, I’m giving away 5 copies of THE SPYGLASS PROJECT at Goodreads.  Here’s the handy entry form!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Spyglass Project by Frankie Astuto

The Spyglass Project

by Frankie Astuto

Giveaway ends January 20, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Or get your Kindle version of The Spyglass Project on Amazon.  Print coming soon.


  1. That's so very exciting, Pam! Stepping out of a comfort zone can be hard and scary, but can certainly bring great rewards.

    I love both covers.

    Congrats to you--and Frankie!

  2. Thank you, *lizzie - great to see you this weekend. Are you as motivated as I am?

  3. Pam, I think your changes are incredibly exciting! I've finished writing western romance for the same reasons you've mentioned and am planning to self-publish my first contemporary this year, too. We old dogs really can learn new tricks. Best of luck with your new releases!

  4. Same to you, my friend. We gotta do what we gotta do. Let me know when your book is out!