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

New Year, New Chair by Paty Jager

I’m starting this year with a new desk chair and a new perspective of my writing.

The chair. My old chair would make by backside numb when I sat for any length of time in it. I tried one of those egg crate things and it didn’t seem to help either. Not that I sit for long periods of time. With two dogs who seem to think they need to go in and out of the house every twenty minutes, I get up and down plenty during the day. But by mid-afternoon, I couldn’t concentrate because of pain down there.

My new chair in the corner.

I went to a chain office products store and sat in every chair, no matter what the price. I wanted a chair that would be comfortable and I could sit back and type with out hunching over the keyboard or desk. I found the perfect chair…I thought.

It has thick padding, arm rests that fit me just right, and a little bit of a rocking motion. I like to gently rock. Especially when I’m thinking. 😉 Which I do a lot while writing a book, as we all know.

I brought the chair home and it barely fits in the area behind my desk. That’s my fault. I like to be in the corner and look out the window to the front of the house and the door into the main room of house. Which limits me of space because of 1) my husband’s desk and file cabinet. (He rarely sits at his desk. He just stores things on it…) He packs whatever he’s working out out to the nook table early in the morning and does his paperwork there.

Behind my desk looking out.

But I digressed. I love the spot where my desk sits. It makes squeezingh into the chair interesting, but once I’m there, I can put my feet up on a little stool under the desk, pull the keyboard out or set it on my lap, lean back in the chair, and type to my heart’s content. This is the most comfortable I’ve been typing a book since I started writing!

New perspective on my writing. While I tried to limit my goal on the books I plan to write this year, I also gave myself permission to not meet that goal if life intervenes. In the past if I didn’t get books out regularly, I would beat myself up and make myself miserable, pushing to get more written and put the book out there because the reader wanted it.

Now, I write the books I want to write and I still try to keep a new one in each mystery series coming out every 6 months, but I’m not as driven to make sure every genre I write has a book coming out. That was driving me insane. I’m sticking to the genre that has always called to me- Murder mystery.

I’m super excited about the Gabriel Hawke book I’m writing right now. I finally connected with someone who knows a lot about the topic in the book and feel I have enough information to make this a good solid book to help showcase a cause and epidemic that needs more attention. I’ve never considered myself an activist, but I have always been driven to write books about justice. And everyone deserves that.

Next month learn about my decision to end a series and how I hope I didn’t disappoint readers.

Push the Limits by Paty Jager

I have written two mystery series with Native American characters, while I am not Native American. I’ve read books by Native American authors, have a friend who lives on the Colville Reservation with her Native American husband, and I have lived in an area that has so much Native American history I feel it seeps into you.

But I am facing my biggest challenge as a writer, now, when it is more politically correct to be of the same heritage as the characters you write.

I started slowly, with my heroine, Shandra Higheagle being only half Native American so I could have her raised without that influence and have her discover it as I did writing her story.

Paiute Dancer photo by me

But I felt the area where I grew up, needed more exposure about the people who lived and were stewards of the land before if was favored as lush feed for cattle. And that was how my character, Gabriel Hawke, came to be. He is of Nez Perce and Cayuse heritage. He is working as a State Trooper with the Fish and Wildlife Division in Wallowa County, the land where his ancestors summered and winter. While he hasn’t lived on the reservation since graduating high school, I feel I can pull off his loyalty to his ancestors and still have him respect his culture but not be fully immersed in it.

Now, as I am writing the last Shandra book and moving onto a new character, I have to tame the lump in my gut and start contacting people on the Umatilla Reservation. My next character will be living and working on the reservation. I will need first hand knowledge to make this character ring true and to make her not only show the life of someone trying to end the cycle of prejudice and move on, but also someone who values her people’s culture.

That my writer and reader friends is what I will be trying to achieve the next few months. Connecting with people who are willing to allow me into their world and to show a life that I am not a part of but believe in.

Wish me luck! And let me know if you have anyone on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation who would be willing to help me. I’m sending out feelers this week.

My Own Version of Justice by Paty Jager

This year, I’ve been banging the keyboard and getting projects done…until last month. It seemed like every time I got in a good day, or two, of writing, something came up and I went days without getting a word down on my WIP (work in progress).

This month, I’m determined to get the 6th Gabriel Hawke book written and out to my CPs (Critique Partners) I’ve had this story idea in my head since I did my ride-along with a State Trooper before I started this series.

It’s something that happened in real life but I’m putting a different spin on it. On the ride-along, the trooper pointed out a campsite and said, “See that burnt spot?”

I did. It was a campfire ring of charred rocks and grass three feet around the ring.

“A vehicle rolled over the fire with a man in it. It was written up as an accident.” The trooper looked over at me. “What do you think?”

“There is no way it was an accident,” were my words. The area was flat. A vehicle even if knocked out of gear wouldn’t have rolled the distance the vehicle was parked away from the fire.

“The victim was drunk. His wife kicked him out of the tent and he went to sleep in his vehicle. They say, he must have bumped the gearshift and it rolled.” He glanced at me again.

I shook my head. “Why was it pronounced an accident? I don’t see how it could have been.”

“All the investigators wanted to call it a homicide but the District Attorney said we didn’t have enough evidence and didn’t want us digging into it any further.”

I could hear the dismay in his voice. He clearly felt someone had gotten away with murder. And that is why my book, Turkey’s Fiery Roost, is about Hawke tracking down the killer.

Writers, do you like to use real life murders/criminal activity to spur ideas?

Readers, do you like knowing that writer’s try to write their own form of justice when putting together a murder mystery?