Reaching out by Paty Jager

Whenever I start a project with a topic I know only enough about to want to write about it, I reach out to others who have experience.

That’s what I did for my latest Gabriel Hawke book, Stolen Butterfly. For years, I’ve heard of the injustice towards the Native American people. The women and children who were murdered and missing. While the cause, MMIW, now also titled MMIP, because it isn’t just women but children and even some men who are murdered or missing, has been growing slowly, the last few years it has started rolling with fury.

While the Indigenous population is only 2% of the all the people in the U.S., they are the group with the largest percent of missing and murdered people. The reason is law enforcement up until lately hasn’t cared. It has taken the MMIW movement to bring this to light.

Because I had decided back when writing book 1, Murder of Ravens to have Gabriel Hawke tackle this injustice, I reached out to social workers in and around the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation to find help in telling my current release, Stolen Butterfly, accurately. The social worker I contacted, put me in contact with a woman who has lost four family members and is an advocate of the MMIW/MMIP cause. When she told me the stories of the people she’d lost and photos she took to commemorate them, I was choked up. That’s when I knew this was the book I was born to write.

Not only was the woman, Kola Shippentower-Thompson, an advocate for MMIP, she also is the co-founder of Enough Iz Enough a non-profit that teaches women and children how to defend themselves and be aware of danger. She was the prefect fit for the research I needed. She also had worked in security at the Wildhorse Casino on the reservation and her husband works with the Tribal Police in the Fish and Wildlife division. She could answer all of my questions and give me the emotional side I needed as well.

One of the secondary characters in the book is my new main character in my upcoming Spotted Pony Casino Mysteries. Kola has graciously said she would answer any questions along the way as I write that series which will be set on the Umatilla Reservation.

By reaching out and asking for help to make sure my book captures the way the people come together when a person is missing and showing their emotions, as well as the treatment they receive from entities that should be helping, I hope my book will build a little more compassion toward the Indigenous People. This is a book that I hope will make more people aware of the fear that is faced every day by a people who have lived through diseases that nearly wiped them out, being banished to reservations, and then treated as if they weren’t human. They are strong and resilient and deserve to be heard when their people are being taken from them.

Here is the review Kola gave my book after reading it: “The story was captivating, I couldn’t put it down. So many memories were brought to surface, so many emotions, like this has been lived before, because it has, this is a glimpse into our reality in the Reservation. Thank you for seeing us & helping tell part of the story.” 

The proceeds from the sale of this book will go to the non-profit Enough Iz Enough. This is a community outreach organization that advocates for MMIW on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation.  

Stolen Butterfly

Gabriel Hawke Novel #7

Missing or Murdered

When the local authorities tell State Trooper Gabriel Hawke’s mother to wait 72 hours before reporting a missing Umatilla woman, she calls her son and rallies members of the community to search.

Hawke arrives at the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation and learns the single mother of a boy his mom watches would never leave her son. Angered over how the local officials respond to his investigating, Hawke teams up with a security guard at the Indian casino and an FBI agent. Following the leads, they discover the woman was targeted by a human trafficking ring at the Spotted Pony Casino.

Hawke, Dela Alvaro, and FBI Special Agent Quinn Pierce join forces to bring the woman home and close down the trafficking operation before someone else goes missing.

Universal buy link: https://books2read.com/u/baZEPq

My Voice by Paty Jager

From the first writer’s meeting I attended decades ago I heard people talking about voice. My first thought, being a newbie writer, was, “What is voice?”

No matter how many people explained it in various ways, I couldn’t grasp what they were talking about. But writer’s voice is the writer’s influences into the story. The writer’s feelings and emotions that are shown through the characters in the book. How the syntax and phrases flow in the story.

It has taken me over a decade to see my voice in stories. Where readers think I did a good job describing setting, I think it might have been sparse but it was as I saw it in my mind. My writing has always been, what I’d call sparse. When I first started writing, historical romance books had to be 90-100,000 words. I struggled to get to 90,000. I’ve always been a minimalist with it comes to words, in writing and when talking. 😉 However, I do try to make the few words I use have an impact. Whether it is setting, a character, or dialog.

When I come up with new main characters, I don’t just sit down and start filling out a chart or character sheet on them. They live in my head for several months or a year, living a life outside of their books. When I sit down and write their books, I’ve been thinking about the book, the title, what they will encounter and how they will react before the book starts.

With my mystery main characters, who are Native American, I read all I can by and about their tribes. I want to try to see and feel things as they would, not as a not quite senior citizen white woman would see it. I’ve always been interested in other cultures and felt anger over how so many races have been mistreated. I use this as my catalyst to feel and hopefully show the correct emotions when I write.

My latest project has been something I knew I would write the second I’d decided to write the Gabriel Hawke novels. I have heard and seen so much about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women cause that I had a desire to tell the story and hope that it would open more eyes to the problem.

Where does this come in with my voice? My voice in my books, is not only concise working and phrases, it is the need to show justice can be found and a need to show where there is an injustice. My beta readers, line editor, and final proof reader all say this is my best Gabriel Hawke book.

The woman, Kola Shippentower-Thompson who worked with me to make me see how things worked on the reservation when a tribal member is missing gave me this review: “The story was captivating, I couldn’t put it down. So many memories were brought to surface, so many emotions, like this has been lived before, because it has, this is a glimpse into our reality in the Reservation. Thank you for seeing us & helping tell part of the story.” She is the Co-founder & Director of Enough Iz Enough, a non-profit organization that works to teach women and children how to be vigilant and safe and who support the MMIW cause. Proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the Enough Iz Enough organization to benefit the MMIW movement.

When Kola was reading the book, she told me she had to stop at one point because it brought back so many sad memories. She has lost multiple family members and has never received any answers about what happened to them.

My hope is that this book will enlighten more people to the plague of violence they Indigenous women, children, and even men have been enduring. The ebook is available for pre-order publishing on May 18th. The print books should be available by the end of the month.

Stolen Butterfly

Gabriel Hawke Novel #7

Missing or Murdered

When the local authorities tell State Trooper Gabriel Hawke’s mother to wait 72 hours before reporting a missing Umatilla woman, she calls her son and rallies members of the community to search.

Hawke arrives at the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation and learns the single mother of a boy his mom watches would never leave her son. Angered over how the local officials respond to his investigating, Hawke teams up with a security guard at the Indian casino and an FBI agent. Following the leads, they discover the woman was targeted by a human trafficking ring at the Spotted Pony Casino.

Hawke, Dela Alvaro, and FBI Special Agent Quinn Pierce join forces to bring the woman home and close down the trafficking operation before someone else goes missing.

Pre-order purchase link: https://books2read.com/u/baZEPq

This also happens to be my 50th published book! I’m having a 50 Book Bash event at Facebook and this week I am featuring my Mystery Books. So come on by, learn about my mystery books, leave comments and get in the running fore the daily prizes. Here is the URL: https://www.facebook.com/events/299774331600785

Adding my voice to my books wasn’t a matter of me finding my voice. It was a matter of me realizing what my voice was. Can you tell an author’s voice when you read a book? Or do you just enjoy the characters, the narrative, and the dialog and afterword, just smile, knowing it was a good read?

The Pains of Getting it Correct by Paty Jager

I have had book 7 in the Gabriel Hawke Novels written over a month ago. It went through my LEO (retired Law Enforcement Officer) and my CP (Critique Partner) But I have been waiting for my sensitivity reader to get to it.

This book is set on a reservation, deals with a missing Umatilla woman, and is set predominately in an Indian casino. For those reasons I have someone who lives on the reservation, is part of the MMIW organization, and she has worked in an Indian casino reading the book.

The problem: I had this book slated to publish May 1st in coordination with May being the month 15 years ago my first book published. This book will be my 50th. I have planned a HUGE Facebook 50 Book Bash event to last the full month of May. The plan was to start the month out announcing the 50th book was published.

That is not going to happen now. I will have to announce the pre-order on May 1st and set the publish date for the end of May. There are still too many people the book has to go through before it can be published. And I have to get it returned with my sensitivity readers comments first.

2nd cover/ deleted the 1st

I also sent her the cover… Her comment was the woman on the cover wasn’t brown enough. My cover designer made another cover with a different woman on it, with a browner skin tone. But then I thought, “None of the other Hawke covers have people on them. So now we are working on a cover without a person. Hard to do with the main location of the book being a casino and I don’t want to put a casino on the cover.

Covers with casino scenes will be for my Spotted Pony Casino Mysteries that will be my new series coming out in June. This fictional casino is the one featured in Stolen Butterfly, Gabriel Hawke Novel #7. And the main characters in that series are introduced in this Hawke book.

So I plunge on with book 1 of the new series, and hope my imaginary casino and how it is run and the employees will work for my sensitivity reader and I won’t have to rewrite too much of the new book.

While I enjoy using fictional settings, I like to get all the nuances of a culture and work place correct. And that is why, my 50th book may be released later than I’d planned.

I Like Jury Duty by Paty Jager

There are many people who try as hard as they can to get out of jury duty. I, on the other hand, enjoy jury duty.

Where else can a writer see so many different people in a boring and, in the case of a trial, intense situation? There are emotions to study, tics, physical appearance, and even voices. For me it is an overload of images and sounds that I try to capture to use in books.

I don’t write courtroom stories, but I do use a lot of what I see in my mysteries. The way a policeman stares around the room, or the intense discussion between a client and lawyer, even the way two old men gossip in the corner of the room, their voices so loud everyone hears what they are saying. There is so much fodder for this imaginative brain! Even how the potential jurors act while waiting to be picked. It all has a way of speaking to me. I carry a small notebook with me when I go. I use it to jot down things I see that I think will make an interesting character or add nuance to a character.

And then there are the cases. I don’t use exact cases in stories, I use them as a bouncing off point, coming up with my own scenario and interjecting completely different characters than the real people. But it is all inspiration for books or characters or situations to come.

My biggest hurdle is getting onto a jury. Our son-in-law is a lieutenant in the Oregon State Police. When asked about that, there are times I get excused immediately. Just because I see crime from the side of the police, I think. There are also the drunk driving cases, I can’t be open minded on those. My father-in-law was an alcoholic who should have been off the road much sooner than he was. And then he only had his license taken away because my husband asked the courts to take it away, not because the courts were going to do it. Even though he’d been hauled in for DUII a half a dozen times. Yes, I believe the courts need to be stricter with that and anyone who drinks alcohol or does illegal drugs should not be allowed to drive. Take their license away. Sorry, got off on my high-horse there.

I find how the judges present themselves to also be noteworthy. Their demeanor can work for an employer or even a villain depending on how open or dominating he or she may be. Don’t forget the prosecuting attorney and the defendant’s lawyer. Again, how they act and present themselves is all scrutinized by me to find something that might work for a character.

The defendant.. are they nervous, smug, pretending they don’t care but their leg is bouncing or the keep clasping and unclasping their hands? Yes, I study all of this for characterization.

I also listen to what everyone has to say and hope I use an open mind when making a decision. All the while, I’ve scratched my notes and observations in my character notebook.

Do you like to be called for jury duty? Why or why not?

photo source: Depositphotos

Ending a Series is Hard by Paty Jager

After waiting years to finally feel as if I were a good enough writer to write the genre I loved, it’s hard to fathom I have the last book of my Shandra Higheagle series releasing this month.

Years ago, we’re talking in the early 90s I wanted to write mystery books. I read them voraciously and after reading the first three in Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone series, I wanted to write a mystery book. I had taken creative writing classes at the local community college and was ready to try my hand at mystery. Especially after someone I thought was a close friend told her husband she was having an affair with my husband to keep her husband from learning who was her real lover.

I knew I could write a really good murder mystery because I was killing that person in my story. I wrote the book. In first person, just like Ms. Grafton did. When I sent it to an agent, the reply was: First person mysteries don’t sell. I read the letter over and over wondering at the comment since I’d read many first person mysteries. While I waited to hear back on the first one, I killed off a replica of the same person in my second book with the same main character.

After receiving the letter from the agent, I transformed my first person account into third person and sent it off. Still a solid rejection. When I tried back then to get into a mystery writers group all of them insisted you had to be already published to become a member. Heart broken and feeling like mystery wasn’t my calling, I joined RWA- Romance Writers of American and put my writing skills into western romance always adding a bit of adventure or mystery into each book and showcasing injustices.

When I picked up the gauntlet to write an Indian Jones type book, I wrote my Isabella Mumphrey Action Adventure series. The success of those books and my brother telling me about a way to hide a murder weapon on a bronze statue started my brain spinning. I came up with an amateur sleuth who was in the art world.

Giving a nod to the fact I like to write Native American characters to help educate readers about their history and circumstances, I came up with Shandra Higheagle a potter. From book one, Double Duplicity, I loved my character and the secondary characters I sprinkled into her life. Through the series the reader learns more about Shandra’s past and sees her build a future with Detective Ryan Greer.

At book six my daughter’s asked when I would end the series. I told them when I was tired of writing them or my readers were tired of reading them. I didn’t want to be an author who had readers saying I should have ended the series three books ago. But as I wrote the previous book, Capricious Demise, and I had Shandra and Ryan adopt twins, I realized to keep readers liking my character, she would have to stop sleuthing and take care of the kids.

And that is how I came up with the last book of the series. Shandra’s grandmother comes to her in a dream showing her, Ryan and the twins at the Colville Powwow. During the course of the book, her grandmother stops coming to her dreams and Shandra realizes she can no longer put her life in danger. The twins lost two parents already. They didn’t need to lose another.

While it is sad to think I won’t be visiting Shandra, Sheba, Ryan, Crazy Lil, Ruthie, Maxwell, Ted, Naomi, Maranda, and Alex, I’m excited to carry on writing Gabriel Hawke novels and my new series Spotted Pony Casino Mysteries.

Vanishing Dream

Book 16 in the Shandra Higheagle Mystery series

Deception, Gluttony, Murder

Shandra Higheagle Greer’s deceased Nez Perce grandmother appears in her dream, dancing at a powwow. Since Grandmother only appears when there is a murder, Shandra believes, she, Ryan, and the twins should attend the yearly Powwow at the Colville Reservation.

While out for a walk the first night, Shandra sees someone lurking in the dark between the vendor tents. A vendor is discovered the next morning strangled with her own beads. 

When members of Shandra’s family are attacked, she finds it hard to stay out of the investigation. While Ryan is working with the Tribal Police, Shandra follows a suspect and is captured. No one knows her whereabouts. Calling upon her grandmother seems futile. The dreams are vanishing and so could her life.

universal book link to pre-order at most ebook vendors: https://books2read.com/u/4XLkvg