Day 20: Pamela Tuck

Pamela Tuck has a big heart to match her big talent. You can feel that in the picture books she writes and see it in her most important role as the matriarch of a large and loving family. Her debut picture book, As Fast as Words Could Fly, celebrated the trailblazing achievement of her father during the Civil Rights Movement. Her second book for kids, Mother of Many, sprang right from her own life as mother to 11 children. Family is a central theme in her acclaimed work.

Join us in celebrating her on Day 20:

About Pam

Pamela Tuck is a content developer of educational books for an EdTech company in New Rochelle, New York. She’s also the mother of 11 children, who are her biggest cheerleaders. Pamela credits her writing to her upbringing surrounded by southern storytellers. Her family inspires many of her stories. Pamela is the author of Mother of ManyAs Fast As Words Could FlyColor StruckSheldon, the Mushroom, and a forth-coming picture book, Johnny Tunes and the Gandy Dancers, scheduled to be published by Lee and Low Books in 2025.
Journey to publication

I come from a family of southern storytellers. My grandpa’s eye-popping, jaw-dropping stories cultivated a love of storytelling in me. But my writing journey began when I won my first poetry contest in elementary school. I was convinced from that point that I was a poet. I learned from that experience that I could win contests for my writing. So, I continued writing poetry, short stories, and even a few plays that received recognition from my teachers, friends, and local newspapers. The encouragement from my family and community inspired me as a young writer.

Once I became a mother, I didn’t write as much, but I enjoyed watching my children’s faces as they sat around my dad’s feet and listened to his eye-popping, jaw-dropping stories. It was a family night of storytelling that sparked my interest in writing for children. After independently publishing my first children’s book, I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). After my first conference in June 2007, I didn’t think I could be a writer because I couldn’t devote hours to my writing like the keynote speaker (I had 8 children at that time). After sharing my thoughts my husband, Joel, he told me, “You are a writer. You don’t have to write on someone else’s time. You can write on your own time.” It was encouraging advice, but I wasn’t convinced. So, Joel didn’t wait for me to believe him. He did some research and found the New Voices Award contest sponsored by Lee and Low Books. After reading some of their books, he encouraged me to write a story about my dad’s experience during the Civil Rights Movement. (Joel had enjoyed listening to my dad’s stories, too.)

I thought writing about my dad’s experiences was too complicated for a children’s picture book. Joel said, “Try!” Even though I still wasn’t convinced, I called my dad to interview him and wrote his story. I submitted his story to Lee & Low in September 2007. In December 2007, an editor from Lee & Low called me and told me I had won the award! I was so excited that I called my husband right away. He said, “I told you!” (That was one time I didn’t mind being reminded that he had told me so.) When I received my first copies of As Fast As Words Could Fly (with the New Voices Award Winner seal on the cover), I was convinced from that point that I was a writer.

Back story of Mother of Many

As a mother of 11 children, I’ve often been asked, “How do you do it?” and was often told, “You should write a book.” The thought was amusing, but I honestly didn’t think a story about my family would be very interesting. At least not until I joined a 30-day picture book idea challenge in November 2013. I sat in the high school parking lot, waiting for one of my sons (just one of my many tasks for that day). I told my husband, Joel, that I felt like the old woman who lived in a shoe. He replied, “Why don’t you write about the young woman who lives in a shoe.” I think he was being sarcastic, but I jotted the idea down for day #12 in my journal. At the end of my challenge, I had 30 story ideas, but not 1 single story written. As another attempt to spark my writing inspiration, I joined a rhyming picture book group on April 1, 2014. What a challenge! Not only did I have to come up with a story, but now it had to rhyme. As I skimmed through the story ideas in my journal, entry #12 was the best choice. I’d simply have to write a spin-off to the nursery rhyme. Easy, right? Wrong! The first draft I submitted to my group was a sweet little rhyme, displaying a perfect little family. It was ripped apart by one of my critique group members. It hurt, but it certainly sparked my writing fire. I read over the comments and said to myself, “You want reality? I’ll give you reality.” My next draft held the raw truths of a day in the life of the Tuck family, and Mother of Many was born. Little did I know that I would lose my dear husband and friend on November 11, 2014, only 1 day from exactly 1 year from the day he suggested I write the story. I’m so glad I listened to the questions of “How do you do it?” and answered the requests for me to write a book about my family…in doing so, this story of our simple daily activities and antics preserves the wonderful memories we shared as a happy family of 13.

Positive impact or benefit of being an Amplify Cohort member

The most memorable experience of being an Amplify Cohort member was the empowering space I shared with creators and industry professionals who have the same passion for inspiring, enlightening, and entertaining young readers through diverse children’s books as I do. Listening to stories of aspirations, failures, and triumphs inspired me to continue my journey. The advice and insight on navigating the children’s book publishing industry and marketing tips equipped me with proactive strategies to move forward.

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One thought on “Day 20: Pamela Tuck

  1. This was truly an inspiring read! I admire Pam and her efforts to raise her children while becoming an award-winning author. Not everyone can share such an inspiring story, especially one with 11 children! May she truly continue to be an example and a shining light for all of those aspiring to either be a good writer, a good mother, or both!

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