Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 30+ novels, novellas, and short stories of murder mystery, western romance, and action adventure. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.
I don’t know about all writers, but for me, the best part of writing a book is the “stewing and brewing” process. It’s the time between, “Bing!” I have an idea and when I start writing the actual story.
What I call the “Stewing and Brewing” process is where I come up with the story idea or setting and then start researching and filling out my suspect chart.
I get to scan websites and look through baby name books to come up with character names and then give the attributes and reasons they are part of the story. Suspects, officials, friends, the whole bit.
And even better! Figuring out how the victim dies. I love putting a twist on the cause of murder. My newest Shandra Higheagle release, Toxic Trigger-point the death is caused by an acute allergic reaction to bees. The book I’m “stewing and brewing” right now I’m thinking the death appears accidental at first. Then… as things get investigated further it was murder.
There are times my devious mind astounds me! LOL However, coming up with the out-of-the-box scenarios is so much fun. Taking the reader on the trip of; this person did it, no, that person did it, is almost as much fun as coming up with the characters, motive, and cause of death.
I pinch myself all the time wondering how I can have so much fun writing when other writers are always complaining how hard it is. I do agree, the editing, revisions, and making the story shine are hard, but it’s like child birth. I forget about those things when I’m in the throes of “stewing and brewing”. 😉
Here is my latest Shandra Higheagle release:
Adultery… Jealousy… Murder
Shandra Higheagle Greer is minding her own business when she
walks into a room for a massage and it is already occupied—by a dead body.
Always the champion for someone she knows, when her favorite
masseuse looks like the murderer, Shandra listens to her gut and dreams choreographed
by her deceased grandmother.
Detective Ryan Greer can’t believe his wife has walked into
another homicide. He’s learned no matter how he tries to keep her out of the
investigation he can’t. But this time the consequences could be deadly for Shandra—she
heard the murder happen.
Hi, Ladies of Mystery, thanks for letting me drop by and share some of my story with your readers. I thought I’d start by introducing myself. My name is Vicki Vass, and I write two different cozy mystery series, The Antique Hunter’s Mystery, and Witch Cat Mysteries.
My writing journey started very early actually almost as
soon as I could read. I was a precocious child. So when I was four years old
and saw my older brother reading a book, I decided that’s what I wanted to do.
I read everything from cereal boxes to billboards to newspapers to books. It
wasn’t long after that I decided I wanted to write. I wrote short stories
through grade school, often killing off all the characters because I didn’t
know how to end the story. I adapted the books Caddie Woodlawn and Alice in
Wonderland into plays that my friends and I performed in our suburban Chicago
When it came time to go to college, I wanted to major in
English and become a fiction writer. My uncle, a reporter for the Chicago
Sun-Times, encouraged me to major in journalism, stating that there was more
career opportunities. I ended up in journalism and knew it was the right path
for me. At my college, I covered government for my daily newspaper and also was
able to write some feature articles.
Following college, I wrote for community newspapers until
moving to the Chicago Tribune, first as a freelancer and later as a staff
writer for special sections. I covered everything from city councils, library
boards, artists and community festivals. It was a wonderful experience and
taught me how to write fast under deadline pressure. As newspapers began to
decline, I moved on to social media and into my current full-time path as an
editor of a medical journal.
Working for a peer-reviewed medical journal means that I
don’t write nor do I edit. I found myself missing writing so one day I took pen
to paper and drafted a story which eventually became Murder for Sale, the first
book in my Antique Hunter Mystery series. I loosely based the two lead characters,
Anne and CC, on my close friends and our weekend adventures antique hunting
together. That book was a finalist in the Mystery and Mayhem contest, and the
sixth book in the series, A White Rabbit’s Tale, will be released in winter
While the characters were originally based on my two close
friends, the characters have developed their own unique storylines and
personality traits. Now the characters live outside of the real individuals.
The stories also focus on a historical element usually centered
around a significant antique. That’s where reality ends and fiction takes over.
The historical elements are a tribute to my father who taught American history
and government for 30 years in the Chicago Public School District. He taught me
to study and respect history.
As the series has evolved, I have found my passion for
writing fiction to be restored, and I cannot wait to start the next story. My
only shortage is time.
Thanks again for letting me stop by!
Vicki Vass gave up her reporter’s notebook to chronicle the near real-life adventures of her two best friends and fellow antique hunters. Like the fictional Anne, Vicki enjoys shopping and is always in the hunt for the next great deal. When not writing, Vicki can be found walking her two Australian shepherd puppies, Atticus and Tracker. She writes about her reading and adventures on her blog vickiscozycorner.com.
Social media Facebook.com/vickivassauthorTwitter:@vickivass
By Baird Nuckolls, author of “Shattered Angel, Morelli’s
Private Inquiries, Book 1”
My new novel, Shattered Angel, is set in New York City in
1923. While millions of people have been to New York, even more have seen it in
movies, television or photographs. You may feel like you know New York, but I
want you to know New York back in the days when my story is set. The Roaring
Twenties were a time of great change in society and technology. Society was
recovering from the first world war; women had more freedoms, Prohibition had
an impact on society’s activities, new jazz music was the rage and new
inventions were changing daily life forever.
Doing research is as important as plotting the mystery. You can
spend hours or days finding out things that may never make it into the book.
For example, we think of the radio as being pretty ubiquitous. Yes, the radio
was invented in the late 1800’s, the first radio broadcasts happened in 1906
and the first radio station opened in Philadelphia in 1920. But in 1923, there
were few radio stations, fewer programs, and the radios themselves were
expensive. So, my detective, Morelli, does NOT have a radio that he can listen
to it at night, as he might be doing if the year was 1926 or 1927. Those few
years make all the difference.
Another little thing that needed a lot of research was
cigarettes. If you watch old movies, everyone smoked like chimneys and
pre-rolled cigarettes had become popular during WWI, when they were shipped to
the troops overseas. They’d even become popular with women in the 1920’s and
the long cigarette holders became a major fashion accessory, in part to keep
ash off their clothes and prevent their hats from catching fire, but also to look
sophisticated. However, there was still a cost factor. Morelli continues to
smoke hand rolled cigarettes because it’s cheaper and he would rather spend his
money on whiskey. Telephones were available, including pay phones, but deciding
who would have one and who wouldn’t, was part of my initial research as well.
The original genesis of the story came from two articles in
the NYTimes. One was about a rum-running tugboat seized by government agents
and some missing drugs. The other was about a payroll robbery on the subway. As
the story continued to develop, I read more and more of the newspapers of the
day and decided to add things to the plot. Stories about the politics,
including the mayor and the commissions came straight from the pages of the
news. The Jack Dempsey heavyweight title fight was a huge event in 1923. I even
found film footage of the fight on YouTube, so that I was able to accurately describe
the experience of being there.
Ultimately, these details are what make the story feel like
it’s set in a real place. The characters are mostly fictional and the story is
my own creation, but New York City is alive and truly a character in its own right.
Set amid the growing roar of the 1920’s, a beautiful young flapper named Angel has hired Adriano Morelli, an ex-cop turned private detective, to follow her cheating husband. When Morelli steps into the rarified hush of a Fifth Avenue apartment looking for his client, what he discovers changes the stakes of the game.
He now has a murder to solve while staying one step ahead of the cops. And with a history of failure, especially when it comes to beautiful women, Morelli is hoping to redeem himself for past sins. From the Cotton Club and the city’s speakeasies to the Polo Grounds where heavyweight Jack Dempsey faces his greatest opponent, the life of New York City comes right off the pages of the newspapers of the day in this riveting historical mystery.
Baird Nuckolls has had a multifaceted career, from banking to baking. In addition to writing, she has been a partner and editor for The Wives of Bath Press, as well as an assistant editor for Narrative Magazine. She has previously published short stories, as well as a middle grade novel, “The Dragons of Graham.” She lives in Seattle and Orcas Island, Washington with her husband.
I get an online ezine called the Crimereads. It has great articles about mystery books, authors, and the genre. The latest one had a topic on what makes a good protagonist and in the article the writer talked about how some protagonists age through the lifetime of their series and others don’t.
Because I am a writer who likes to keep my stories as real as possible, I tend to age my characters and keep track of the time/years for each book. If I write three books in one year, they are set in that year. So the next year, my characters are a year older and things, like secondary characters getting pregnant are part of my secondary plots. I remember reading books with characters that didn’t seem to age. Like Kinsey Milhone (the character who was the impetus for me to try my hand at writing mysteries), Miss Marple, Stephanie Plum, Mrs. Pollifax, and even James Qwilleran, and his two Siamese cats, Koko and Yum Yum
It will be interesting to see how long I can keep my character Gabriel Hawke traipsing about the Eagle Cap Wilderness solving murders when I started him out at 53 years old. But I have a feeling he will be going strong for a good long time. People around him will age, as will he, but we’ll see if his aging makes him think harder about family, his own presumably.
As for Shandra Higheagle, she has married since becoming a mystery character and while her friends are all becoming pregnant, I haven’t decided if she’s going to become pregnant, if she and Ryan will be a childless family, or if they will bring an older child into their family. It’s all up in the air at this time. It all winds around in my head as I ponder the future for these two.
One thing I know for certain. My characters will age, their lives will have ups and downs, and I hope they continue to be characters readers want to read about.
What are some of your favorite characters and have they aged over the course of their series or stayed the same?
The mystery? Why is it, then, that the leading lady of the cozy
mystery today is a baby-faced, early career, 30-something, rather than a
mature, perhaps somewhat disgruntled, widowed or divorced, half-retired woman
of 50+ years?
I turned 60 this year, and I read like a demon, devouring
novels like M&M’s. Why, I wondered, was my feisty generation—all prime
readers for Pete’s sake—so invisible in women’s mystery fiction today?
OK, so the term “baby boomer lit” has gotten a bad rap. Much
of that is justified. The indie market is awash with badly written “boomer” novels
that feature highly forgettable “senior sleuths,” seeking second chances in the
confines of gated retirement villages.
Too much of this lit pounds home a “sundowner” theme – think
cancer, moving into assisted living, fighting over men with competing ladies in
Leisure Village – OR a “second chance” theme. Think “widower dares to date
again” or “the search for the one that got away.”
Problem. I don’t see my life as in need of “second chances.”
I see it as more of what it always has been: a bit of a hair-raising adventure.
Why not, I thought, write about cantankerous, every day women who are aging,
but who are also busy having a go at life, every morning, pretty much as they
Oldsters are as varied as youngsters (really, they are). Being
of the mind that if there’s a problem it’s my responsibility to engineer a solution
– a great notion from the 70’s when I first hit the road out of high school —
I began to create a new crime comedy series loaded with oldsters of all
In my new amateur detective series, The Shady Hoosier Detective Agency, the protagonists are lifelong
gal pals, ages 67 and 71, living in small town Indiana. They share a house, a
1960 Chevy, and reluctant custody of grown children who still reside in their
One in particular (Veenie) has been a lifelong snoop. The
other (Ruby Jane) has great computer skills. For them, the decision to punch a
time clock post-retirement as sleuths with the Harry Shades Detective Agency is
as much a way to exercise their curiosity as it is a path to supplementing their
Back in the 90’s the TV drama “Golden Girls,” about older widowed
and divorced women sharing a home and laughter, broke through ageism to show
that the closing chapters of life can be as varied and exciting as the
beginning and middle. I believe that there remains pent up demand for older,
feisty women characters in the cozy mystery niche.
My goal in creating the Shady
Hoosier Detective Agency, with Book 3, The Chickenlandia Mystery, coming out as this is posted, is to update
the cozy to better serve publishing’s core reading demographic by creating
books that mirror the more diverse evolving lives of Boomer women like me.
Like all publishing undertakings, it is up to the cosmos to
decide if the series will find a readership, but a few stars do seem to be
aligning. The Shady Hoosiers’ debut
book, Ghost Busting Mystery, has
thus far won three Best Indie Humor Book Awards and two Best Indie Cozy Mystery
In the end, I write what I want to read. There has never
been a more active, curious, diverse, witty, kick-ass generation of women. Why
not gift ourselves leisure reading that reflects this?
Daisy Pettles was born in southern Indiana, in a tiny river
town. As a child, she was fed a steady diet of books, pies, and Bible stories.
Her debut cozy series, the Shady Hoosier
Detective Agency, crime comedies set in fictional Pawpaw County, Indiana,
won the 2019 Gold Medal as Best Humor Book from the Indie Reader, The Next
Generation Indie Book Awards, and the American Fiction Awards. Visit her
anytime at https://www.daisypettles.com
I have always been a very time structured writer. I make time to write and I stick with it whether my brain is mush or not.
This summer has pulled me out of writing so much, I’m struggling to get back into the work in progress and finding time to get some solid time in. I wouldn’t have given up anything I did this summer, but it’s starting to weigh on my conscience that I am behind on my releases and dragging words out when I’m in front of the computer.
This past week, was supposed to be the last time I’d be kept from my writing, but I have a cousin coming for a week and then hubby and I have an anniversary trip planned in October, though that will be a trip to do research for a book as well as enjoy.
Tomorrow, I’ll sit down and write four days (have to take my mother-in-law home today) Which is an unexpected turn of events. Then next weekend we have company and I get another week before company for a week. So I need to really hunker down and write when I have time, which will mean little social media time and hubby will have simple meals.
When you have a lot interrupting your writing, how do you deal with it? Does it take you longer to get back into the story when you have tiny bits of time with beg gaps in between?
Readers, do you ever wonder why some authors have gaps in their releases? This is why. Life interrupts the writing process.
Removal Services: A Genre-Confused Mystery Series
Many of my stories are genre-confused. As the
author, obviously this is my fault. If I would stay in one category, then I
could easily describe my work by genre: Mystery or Science Fiction or Fantasy.
But my brain doesn’t work that way, which is why my first published murder
mystery was in a hard science fiction magazine. When I write, my brain sometimes
jumps into the future, or throws in ghosts, or creates impossible technological
inventions. Doing all of those things at once resulted in the Bad Vibes Removal
The Bad Vibes series began with a short story set
in the near-future, featuring Montgomery, a genius inventor, entrepreneur,
lawyer, and private detective. He’d invented scanners to find sound wave patterns
left in walls at the atomic level. His invention could detect and identify a
record of conversations and noises left in walls. While he was working on this,
Montgomery found another set of patterns, absorbed emotional imprints from
pain, anger, depression, joy, and a host of other emotions.
Montgomery can uncover conversations between
criminals and detect deceit where things are hidden. But, he can’t sell his
equipment to law enforcement if courts won’t accept his findings as evidence. Since
he could both read and obliterate the patterns left in walls, Montgomery
created a side business to make his inventions a household name and speed
acceptance by law enforcement. Bad Vibes Removal Services was born.
Who needs Bad Vibes Removal Service? Everyone who
ever moved into a pre-owned house or apartment. Does your new-to-you home feel
creepy? Sad? Anxious? Maybe the previous occupant was going through a divorce
or serious illness.
One of Montgomery’s employees at Bad Vibes Removal
Services is a history graduate student named Lea who grew up seeing ghosts. She
could always sense the history of buildings as a lingering emotional imprint or
via sudden visions, echoes from the past. So, she enjoys making homes more
livable for people who are sensitive to emotional atmosphere. By infusing
static into the walls, Lea can reset the atmosphere in a room, erasing the
lingering history, making the space comfortable again… most of the time.
Resets fail when a ghost, the source of the
emotions, is present. Then, Lea communicates with the ghost while she and her
coworker Kamika help Montgomery investigate. Crimes are uncovered and villains
are revealed. Sometimes spirits are helpful. Sometimes, they’re malevolent.
From one short story, this genre-confused series bloomed
to include (so far) eight short stories and two novels. The first novel, The
Walls Can Talk, is set in an Irish castle that’s been moved to central
Texas, resident ghost included. The second novel, Degrees of Deceit,
was just released and is set mainly in a haunted dorm on a University of Texas
When people ask me what I write, I tell them ‘mysteries’
to keep it simple. If they ask for more, I get to explain my genre-mashing
tendencies. Generally, I call the Bad Vibes series ‘paranormal mysteries’ and I
enjoy writing them. If you like a spooky chill along with a mystery, maybe
you’ll enjoy reading them too.
Degrees of Deceit
The Bad Vibes Removal Services crew is back in a
sequel to The Walls Can Talk!
A college prankster is making life hellish for the
freshmen residents of Dellonmarsh Dorm on a University of Texas campus. The sleep-deprived
students are spooked by the time Montgomery Investigations arrives on the scene
to track down the prank-playing vandal who comes and goes like a ghost. Rumors
say a benevolent ghost haunts the residence hall, but these treacherous tricks
are anything but benevolent. As the pranks escalate from obnoxious noises in
the night to poisons and more dangerous threats, investigators Lea, Kamika, and
their boss, Montgomery, work to identify a perpetrator who lurks in the shadows.
N. M. Cedeño currently lives near Austin, Texas. She writes mystery short stories and novels that vary from traditional to romantic suspense, and from paranormal to science fiction. She is active in Sisters in Crime, Heart of Texas Chapter, having served as chapter vice president and president. Ms. Cedeño has written several standalone short stories and novels as well as the Bad Vibes Removal Services paranormal mystery series.