Discovering the World as I Write by Paty Jager

Happy Holidays, Everyone! If you are American, I hope you enjoyed a happy Thanksgiving. Whether it was with, family, friends, or time to yourself.  And now we are approaching another holiday. I’m not sure how many cultures have a holiday in December, but for my family it is Christmas.

I enjoy learning about other cultures. If you are celebrating something besides Christmas, I’d love to know a bit about it. Please comment below.

If I had the money and the time, I would love to be a world traveler. In High School I loved World Geography. Our teacher had been to a lot of places so he could give us information that you don’t get from text books. He made learning about other people and cultures exciting. I think that, and my infatuation with the Nez Perce band that lived in the county where I grew up, is why I like to have Native American characters in my mystery books. I can show people a past they may not know about and a culture they have only seen stereotyped.

I’m excited about the book I’m writing now and the one that I will be writing after this one. They are both set in the places I visited this year. I’ll get to add in the cultures I experienced and have my characters see similarities with their lives.

Right now, I’m pleased to say that the 4th Gabriel Hawke book has released. It is available in ebook and print.

Chattering Blue Jay

Killer on the loose.

Tracking Rivalry.

Revenge could get them killed.

Fish and Wildlife Oregon State Trooper Gabriel Hawke is set to teach a class at a Search and Rescue conference in Idaho when a dangerous inmate breaks out of prison. It is believed the man is headed to Hells Canyon.

Hawke is enlisted to find the escapee. He’s paired with a boastful tracker who doesn’t follow directions, making them both targets.

Before the dust settles, the other tracker is dead and Hawke is twisting in the wind for letting the possible killer get away.

The first book in this series, Murder of Ravens, is also available in audiobook.

Book 1 of Gabriel Hawke series

The ancient Indian art of tracking is his greatest strength…

And his biggest weakness.

Fish and Wildlife State Trooper Gabriel Hawke believes he’s chasing poachers.

However, he comes upon a wildlife biologist standing over a body that is wearing a wolf tracking collar.

He uses master tracker skills taught to him by his Nez Perce grandfather to follow clues on the mountain. Paper trails and the whisper of rumors in the rural community where he works, draws Hawke to a conclusion that he finds bitter.

Arresting his brother-in-law ended his marriage, could solving this murder ruin a friendship?

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Enjoy what is left of 2019!


Guest Blogger~Kristine Raymond

THE CHOSEN ONE ~ by Kristine Raymond

I’m a romance author.  Historical western, contemporary, even a little erotic; romance is my genre.  So, imagine my surprise – and frankly, horror – when I awoke one morning with the idea for a mystery rolling around in my brain.  At first, I wasn’t sure of the intricacies of the story.  Would it be a thriller?  A police procedural?  Crime fiction?  I sat down, opened a new Word doc, began typing, and that’s when it became clear – cozy mystery.  The genre had chosen me.

Writing a cozy mystery is worlds apart from penning a romance, but I dove in, repeatedly reminding myself that the focus of the story was not the romantic interaction between my main character and her love interest, but rather the clues and intrigue leading the pair to solve the mystery.  And that’s where the fun began.  As a new-to-me genre, I harbored no preconceived notions about how to write the story; instead, I allowed the words to tumble onto the page at will, each one building on the next to thicken the plot and guide the characters to discover not only the who, but the why, how, and where.

On the subject of characters, their development in my cozy mystery – it’s titled Finn-agled, by the way – came about differently than how I usually create them.  I’d explain it if I could, but even as an author, I don’t know exactly how to put into words the process.  They simply originated in my brain in their own unique way and demanded that I bring them alive on the page.  They’re pesky, that way. 

If interrogated, and under threat of never again being allowed access to my Netflix password, I’d admit that certain aspects of Finn Bartusiak’s personality (she’s the main character and star of the show) mirror my own.  She lives in a seaside town (I grew up three miles from the ocean), she’s quirky, fiercely loyal to those she loves, her hair frizzes in humid weather, and she has more than her share of ‘squirrel’ moments.

What was I saying?

Oh, right; our similarities.  Like Finn, I adore a great pierogi – though I’m only half-Polish and she’s full-blooded – and we both own Basset Hounds who are follicly-challenged.  And, while the most complex mystery I’ve ever solved was locating my keys, I like to think that should one present itself, I’d be up to the challenge.  How hard can it be?

To my faithful readers who love romance, not to worry.  My romantic streak is firmly intact (I have several ideas for future romance stories floating around in my gray matter), but now that cozies have taken hold, it’s safe to say they’re not going anywhere either. 

After all, the genre did choose me.  😊


A secret message hidden inside of an antique wooden box, an unidentified dead body, and a mother determined to marry her off to the high school crush whom she hasn’t seen since…well…high school.  There’s no doubt about it; Finn Bartusiak’s life in the seaside town of Port New is about to get interesting.

Coming into possession of a 19th-century, bronze and mahogany writing box under somewhat suspicious circumstances, Finn’s accidental discovery of a coded note leads her and Spencer Dane, bestselling novelist and love of her life (though he doesn’t know it yet), on a quest to unravel the mystery behind the jumble of letters.  But they’re not the only ones interested in the cryptic message.  There’s a con man on their trail, and he’ll stop at nothing, including murder, to claim the ‘treasure’ for himself.  

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It wasn’t until later in life that Kristine Raymond figured out what she wanted to be when she grew up, an epiphany that occurred in 2013 when she sat down and began writing her first book.  Sixteen books in multiple genres later, she’s added the title of podcasting host to her resume, thus assuring that she will never be idle.

When a spare moment does present itself, she fills it by navigating the publishing and promotional side of the business.  When not doing that, she spends time with her husband and furbabies (not necessarily in that order), reads, or binge-watches Netflix.

Find out more about Kristine on her website at and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and BookBub

And for links to podcast episodes, guest posts, and other great stuff, check out Word Play with Kristine Raymond at

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Sick Days and Mysteries

I caught the crud over Thanksgiving and stayed home from work today. If I’m home sick, few things make me feel better than binging some mystery books, TV shows or movies.

Today, I’ve been bouncing back and forth between Investigation Discovery and Oxygen, watching lots of true crime shows. How do you like to spend a sick day? I’m enjoying some turkey noodle soup with turkey leftovers and homemade semolina egg noodles. Yummy!

I’ve also spent some time perusing cozy mysteries with various fall and winter holiday themes to add them to my wishlist. I love holiday themed books and shows. Hallmark Christmas romances? Halloween themed paranormal cozy mysteries? Yes please.

So, on this day where I’m foggy headed and being taken care of by my cats, I ask you for your recommendations. What are some holiday-themed books you’ve read or are looking forward to reading?

Here’s a picture of one of my cats *literally* cuddling me this morning. How cute is this ginger nurse?

Ginger cat with arm outstretched over human stomach, cuddled under human's arm


Guest Blogger – Arlene Kay

Mystery novels have always delighted and intrigued me. From the Bobbsey Twins straight through to Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie, I prided myself on following the clues, identifying the miscreant, and serving justice by solving the crime. What a challenge to match wits and triumph over wily authors who salted their prose with red herrings and misdirection! Cozy mysteries, police procedurals, private eyes and thrillers—I devoured them all. When former colleagues at that alphabet government agency asked about future plans, I had but one answer: I will write mystery novels!

Like many readers, I felt bereft when literary characters I had grown to love suddenly vanished. After all, I’d spent a good deal of time with them and established a sense of intimacy. They were friends. Family even. Thus, I became enamored of mystery series where the saga continued with each novel. In these books, Spencer and Susan (not to mention that dishy HAWK) lived on; Lord Peter and Harriet nourished their relationship; Emerson and Amelia Peabody flourished in an exotic land where adventure and danger lurked, and Dr. Alex Cross kept the streets of DC reasonably safe.

My first three published novels were stand alones featuring smart, sassy heroines matched by equally desirable partners. As each saga ended, I felt a tug of sadness. These lovingly crafted children of my mind had slipped forever into the abyss never to reappear. I missed them. Ultimately the urge to write a series was born. The Creature Comfort series sprang from my experience in the dog show world. While trudging across the North East with my Belgian Tervuren, I became painfully aware of how easily thwarted ambition, snubs and extra-curricula hijinks could lead to murder. Tennyson’s famed observation about “…nature red in tooth and claw…” was on open display but not from canines. Show dogs are bound by strict behavioral standards, so my Lord Byron and his comrades repressed their baser instincts. Their human companions sometimes did not. Bared teeth, growls and nips were common fare on that menu and became my inspiration for Death by Dog Show, followed closely by Homicide by Horse Show and Murder at the Falls.

I modeled my protagonist Persephone Morgan on the master leather-smith and dog breeder who produced Lord Byron. Smart, snarky and independent, Perri keeps one eye on the bottom line and the other on the odd assortment of friends and neighbors who surround her. She loves all animals, is a steadfast friend and an implacable foe with a weakness for a certain little girl and her toothsome dad. Perri, the kind of friend we all seek and seldom find, is a sleuth in the proud tradition of Amelia Peabody with a touch of Harriet Vane. Some purists resist the idea of a cozy character with emotional and physical needs. I celebrate a flesh and blood woman who can solve crimes while finding balance in her own life.


Leathersmith Persephone “Perri Morgan makes the kind of beautiful custom leashes and saddles that make wealthy dog and horse show lovers swoon – until murder strides onto the course…

When Perri’s BFF Babette hosts a meeting of Fairfax County’s affluent animal lovers to save a local horse rescue farm, the agenda gets sidetracked by the discovery of a corpse in the master bedroom. Everyone present is a suspect, including Perri’s main squeeze, Wing Pruett-Washington, DC’s sexiest reporter.

While Perri scours local horse and dog shows hoping to unmask the killer, she uncovers band manners, infidelity, and low-level crime in her hunt for the killer- but what she can’t find are grounds for murder. When the killer strikes again and she gets a warning to stop her sleuthing, Perri has to muster all her training-and all her allies, human and animal alike-to make it out of the ring alive.

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Praise for Arlene Kay’s Boston Uncommons Mysteries

‘Reminiscent of the comedy-mystery movies of the thirties…An entertaining first entry into the Boston Uncommons Mystery series

  • New York Journal of Books on Swann Dive

Highly entertaining…I can’t wait for the next book”

  • Jaye Roycraft, author Rainscape

An artful combination of humor, satire and savagery make Arlene Kay’s tales unique. The published author of nine mystery novels, is a former Treasury executive who traded the trappings of bureaucracy for the delights of murder most foul. She wisely confines her crimes to fiction although like all mystery writers she firmly believes that most deaths are suspicious, and everyone is a suspect. Her Creature Comforts series from Kensington (lyrical), includes Death by Dog Show; Homicide by Horseshow; and Therapy by Murder.

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Stillness and Silence by Amber Foxx

Greetings from the ultimate holiday minimalist.

In my work as a writer, I aim to create conflict and tension. In my other occupation, I do the opposite.

I’m teaching my regular Thursday evening yoga class on Thanksgiving, as I’ve been doing for the past few years. Not many people come on the holiday, but a few do. I’m grateful for being alive in my body, capable of movement, awareness, breath, and glimpses of quiet inner space. Grateful for the teachers who’ve passed down this tradition of wisdom and well-being. Grateful to my students who allow me to share it.

I’ve attended a few retreats during which meals were fully silent or silent for the first ten minutes. It made me aware not only of the taste, texture, and aroma of the food, but also of the companionship of others, the deep quality of their presence.

A yoga class always ends with silence and stillness. I guide the relaxation process, and then I stop talking. It’s wonderful when some other fortuitous silence comes with that moment—a lull in traffic outside the studio, or the heating system ceasing its noisy efforts. The mind can follow, dropping its noisy efforts as well.

Thank you for reading. May your day be peaceful.



A Bit of This and That

person picking food on tray
Photo by Craig Adderley on

Thanksgiving is upon us, the time to reflect on all we have to be thankful. I have so much: a wonderfully big family, a loving husband, and a long life full of memories. And a biggie for what is happening on Thursday—I do not have to cook. My grandson who lives in the mountains has invited all of us to his house for dinner. After years and years of being the main Thanksgiving feast cook, I am truly grateful!

Of course I’m thankful for my writing career—though I’ve never become famous or a best seller, I have loyal fans for both my series and have had a great time writing, The creation of two different worlds with interesting characters has keep me busy.

With my Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series, I’ve created a small beach town that seems very real to me, as well as the people who inhabit it—members of the police department, their loved ones, and the members of the community, and of course the villains and the victims.

Of course there’s the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series mainly set in a mountain community much like the one I’m living in now though I’ve made some major changes. I’ve grown to love Tempe and her husband, Hutch. I’m always eager to see what’s going to happen with them next.

However, as I’m writing the latest, which will be #18, I realize that Tempe is reaching retirement age, is it time to end the series? I’m going to have to make a decision about that. Maybe it’s time to move on, perhaps write a stand-alone. I don’t know.

Something else being a writer has done for me is being able to share what I know with other writers. I’ve been able to do that at writers’ conferences and conventions, in smaller groups and one-on-one. I’ve also enjoyed being a speaker at various venues, especially when I can make people laugh.

Over all, I have so much to be thankful for.

Marilyn Meredith who also writes as F.M. Meredith

Latest in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series:

Bones in the Attic

Buy link for Bones in the Attic: 

Latest in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series;

Spirit Wind cover

Buy link for Spirit Wind:







The Ones I Keep

Still on my bookshelf are books that I loved as a child: . . . And Now Miguel by Joseph Krumgold, The Fur Person by May Sarton, and Asian stories. But one day in my teen years I came across a book my mother purchased for herself, by a man everyone in town knew. Some books have an inexplicable pull on us because of what they teach us, and this is one in my life.

John Leggett worked in Boston in the 1950s and 1960s before moving back to New York City and a job in publishing; he had always wanted to write. He and his wife were well known in the small town where I grew up. They and their three sons lived a few houses away from us, and my best friend at the time babysat for the boys. Sometimes, usually in the summer, I kept her company. We walked to the small beach nearby, or passed a quiet afternoon at home. I don’t remember the boys being particularly rambunctious.

His second novel, The Gloucester Branch, published in 1964, was read by all in town largely because of its local setting. I had read his first book some years earlier, much to my mother’s dismay, and expected to like his second. I already knew I wanted to be a writer, and had already published one essay. I was only months away from writing my first short story.

The first news I had of Leggett’s second book was a spirited discussion among my parents’ friends about the title. One insisted it was bad because no one outside of the Boston area would recognize it. The Gloucester branch was the name of the B&M line that ran out to Cape Ann. The debate raged. Next came the characterization of the protagonist’s wife. I can still hear one woman saying, “That’s Mary to a tee. Why didn’t he disguise her better?” All of this whetted my appetite for the novel, and I dove in. I recognized the house the fictional family lived in, the streets they walked, even some of the minor characters (or so I thought). I read avidly from page one to the end.

Most writers I’ve talked to mention a well-known title or author as seminal in their development, usually someone I’ve read or at least heard of. When I think back, of course I can list numerous titles by important writers that swept me away, inspired me, and linger even now. So why do I remember a little-known writer of the last century? Why not remember another, better-known book of the same period: To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963), Herzog (1964), Wide Sargasso Sea (1966), or any of the classics I read during that decade?

John Leggett never achieved great fame, though he ran the Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa and mentored a long list of award-winning writers. From there he moved on to California to become head of another writing program. He never became a household name outside of my hometown.

But in reading his novel The Gloucester Branch, I could see exactly what he had done, how he had taken real life and reshaped it, added twists and enhanced details to layer on meaning where there had been none or only the dull quotidian. I recognized the details, understood the changes he wrought, and appreciated the result. No other work of fiction had given me the same insight perhaps because no other had been so transparent in its reshaping of reality into story. Many books inspired me to write, tell a better story, or invent a richer character. But only one opened the window onto the simple transformations made by a writer’s mind.