WAPAKONETA — Fueled by a desire to write a Christmas story at the same time she read about soldiers lost at the Kabul, Afghanistan, airport, Pam Egbert began writing the sequel to her book, “The Silver Heart.”
Unlike many writers who begin with a formal plan for their stories, Egbert said, “I just start writing the first word, and I let the story lead me.” Her fourth book, “Zoey’s Christmas Wish,” was recently released by Archway Publishing, in partnership with Simon and Schuster.
When lead character Zoey gets a chance to visit Santa Claus, she makes a specific request for her mother to be happy again. Zoey’s mother, Victoria, lost her joy when Zoey’s father was killed. When Victoria’s grandfather suffers a stroke, she and Zoey relocate to Texas to assist the family. Neither of the characters could have known the part that location would play in helping Zoey’s wish come true.
“My characters have the same types of problems that we do,” Egbert said. “Things happen, and you find your strength in those obstacles on the road.” Facing a monumental loss at the Christmas season became a major theme in “Zoey’s Christmas Wish.”
Although Egbert was a communications major at Wright State University (Lake Campus), she credits her job at the Wapakoneta Daily News with launching her writing career. In the 1980s while working at the newspaper, she began writing special interest stories. From that beginning, she found a love for writing.
The author credits her dad with being her inspiration. “If you want something, go for it,” she recalls him telling her.
She also noted that he rode horses in Colorado and passed on his love for horses to her. Egbert’s dad also loved their pond, so she wrote her first book as a tribute to him. That book, a children’s book called, “Galon the Northern Pintail Duck,” was written under the Pam Egbert name. Her three subsequent books have been written under her pen name, Samantha Sheridan.
Unique to Egbert’s projects is her method of book promotion. She uses music videos to promote her books, selecting a specific song for each book promotion. For “Zoey’s Christmas Wish,” Egbert obtained permission from Mark Preston to use his rendition of the song, “White Christmas,” to promote her book. Preston has ties to the region. He performed on the Bob Braun Show, was the opening act for Phyllis Diller and later became one of The Lettermen.
The prelude to “Zoey’s Christmas Wish,” is a book titled, “The Silver Heart.” Egbert admits it is her favorite of the four books she has written. The book was released in 2021, although it was first written in the 1990s “on an old dot matrix computer with a green screen and floppy disks.”
She said the book “has a little bit of me in it, with the main character’s name being Sue, which is my middle name. It starts out with a small-town Ohio girl wanting to be more involved with horses. In the book, real (local) people are featured, including Pete Oen, a horse trainer from Wapakoneta. Pete is now one of the Million Dollar Horse Trainers at his barrel horse ranch in Oklahoma. My daughter, Jaime Quellhorst, is on the front cover of the book with one of our horses, Trooper.”
Cece Nagel, daughter of Mike and Shelly Nagel from Wapakoneta, asked Egbert’s daughter, Jaime, if she could be written into one of Egbert’s books. Jaime shared the young girl’s request with the author, and Egbert added Cece to the story as the girl who became Zoey’s best friend after Zoey and her mother moved to Texas. Cece Nagel is also featured on the back cover of “Zoey’s Christmas Wish” with her horse, Tuff.
When “The Silver Heart” launched, Egbert chose to do a fundraiser in Nashville called “All We Can Do From Our Heart.” Funds raised from the event, held at The Troubadour Nashville, were donated to “The Store.” Brad and Kimberly Paisley opened “The Store” to help those needing food and basic necessities. Money from the fundraiser helped feed more than 300 families. During the same fundraiser, LaDonna Brewer-Capps simultaneously released her song, “All I Can Do.”
Another of Egbert’s books, “Smoky Mountain Romance,” was written after the author attended a banquet for first responders at Lima Memorial Health System. The guest speaker for the event, Randolph Mantooth, discussed the television show, “Emergency,” starring Kevin Tighe.
After watching a few episodes of the program, Egbert wrote the story about what her character Johnny Gage would do if he found the girl of his dreams. The setting for the book is Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and the story line involves a forest fire. The song used to promote the book was, “Don’t Take the Girl,” by Craig J. Martin, a songwriter who gave her permission for Egbert to use the song and later died from an aneurysm.
To write the love scenes in her books, Egbert admits that she read some Harlequin romance stories but soon realized, “I can’t write like that. If my grandmother can’t read it without me blushing, I don’t want it in one of my books.”
Egbert identified a few of her own favorite authors. “Palomino by Danielle Steel had a big impression on me,” she said. She also enjoys reading books by Nora Roberts and Debbie Macomber as well as books written by celebrities such as Kathy Lee Gifford.
Some of the challenges of being a writer, according to Egbert, are, “promoting my book, getting the word out to people and finding a way to reach the readers.” She responds personally to those who communicate with her through her website, SamanthaSheridanauthor.com. She also plans a book signing at the Riverside Art Center in Wapakoneta in the spring.
While copies of Egbert’s books are not yet available in local libraries, they can be obtained online through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Goodreads. “Zoey’s Christmas Wish” is also available through Archway Publishing with free shipping offered.
Reviews from readers indicate that many enjoy a good love story and appreciate the characters in Egbert’s books. One reader, identified as “Paula,” wrote, “It [The Silver Heart] was a book about people loving people, people loving horses, and it pulls at my heart from many angles.”