Killing Off a Series by Paty Jager

book hangingI’ve been contemplating when to end my Shandra Higheagle Mystery series.

Book eight, Fatal Fall, released recently. Book nine is in the planning stages, and I feel I could get another five or six books out before the story/characters go stale.

However, I’ve already had people asking me when am I ending the series.  My comeback, “Why, are you tired of the characters?”  I’m not tired of writing about Shandra, Sheba, Ryan, Lil, and the cast of characters who live in Huckleberry and Weippe County. I do worry about the people who complain, you can’t kill anymore people off in that small area.

But really, this is fiction. Is it that hard for a reader to suspend belief that so many murders could happen in an area and with the same amateur sleuth being involved?

I have taken Shandra to the reservation a time or two and plan to have another story or two set there. She and Ryan are going to a police conference and an art show in two different books. Kind of like Jessica Fletcher moving to New York or going to book related events out of Cabot Cove. 😉

The other reason I am contemplating the demise of the series, is because I want to introduce the amateur sleuth for the next series in one of the Shandra books before the Higheagle series ends. But I want to wait until the last or next to last book.

And yes, it will be another Native American character. I am still working out the details of him, where he lives, what he does for a living, and how I can connect it to multiple murders without getting into the “too many deaths” in one small area.

How do you gauge when a series has run it’s course?  Have you read a series or two that went on too long? Do you think there is a magic number of when a series should end or is it best to leave it up to the story and characters?

I would love to hear readers and writers thoughts on these questions.

Books 1,2, & 3, Double Duplicity, Tarnished Remains, and Deadly Aim are out in audio book.

Here is the info on Fatal Fall:

Fatal Fall 5x8Book eight of the Shandra Higheagle Native American Mystery Series
Avarice…Family…Murder

When the doctor is a no-show for her appointment, Shandra Higheagle becomes wrapped up in another murder. The death of the doctor’s elderly aunt has everyone questioning what happened and who’s to blame. Shandra’s dreams soon tell her she’s on the right path, but also suggests her best friend could be in grave danger.

Detective Ryan Greer knows not even an illness will keep Shandra from sneaking around, and he appreciates that. Her insight is invaluable. When she becomes embroiled deeper in the investigation, he stakes out the crime scene and waits for the murder to make a tell-all mistake.

But will he be able to act fast enough to keep Shandra or her friend from being the next victim?

Universal Link – https://www.books2read.com/u/bQZ5d7

SH Mug Art (2)

 

Print or Audio? by Paty Jager

availableI’m happy to say my first mystery audio book is now available! This has been a dream of mine since my first book in the Shandra Higheagle mystery series was available to purchase in ebook and print.

From the very conception of this series, I could hear the voices and couldn’t wait to hear them “for real.” I have the seventh book released in ebook and print and now I can say I have one in audio. And the second book is already in production.

After attending a workshop at the In’Dscribe conference last summer by Ann M. Richardson also a narrator. One who is so wanted, I couldn’t afford her prices, but she had some wonderful insights into how to get a newer narrator and cultivate them into the narrator you want.  She said to get a better quality narrator and not someone just starting out, you had to pay some per finished hour and do the royalty share.

My goal by doing it this way and getting a more professional narrator, I will have more sales and can keep building the audio editions to this series.

The fist thing I had to do was listen to the audition files. I only had two, because I couldn’t afford more than $100 per finished hour. However, one of the two did a wonderful job, had only produced half a dozen book,s and her words were, “I’m coachable.” Those were the words I needed to hear, because, as I said up above, I had these characters’ voices in my head.  I also have some Nez Perce words in the books and they need to be said correctly.

Working on the first book with Ann Thompson, a Cincinnati radio news anchor, has been fun.  She doesn’t mind changing one word in a chapter or changing up voices when they don’t sound/feel right for the character.

I’ve listened to several audio books over the years. Some have been duds and some have been very good. I’m happy to say, that Ann is doing a great job with Double Duplicity.

Do you prefer audio or print/ebook books?

Leave a comment and I’ll pick one person on Saturday, 2/18 who will win a code to download the audio of Double Duplicity for FREE.

Book one of the Shandra Higheagle Native American Mystery Series
Dreams…Visions…Murder
On the eve of the biggest art event at Huckleberry Mountain Resort, potter Shandra Higheagle finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. She’s ruled out as a suspect, but now it’s up to her to prove the friend she witnessed fleeing the scene was just as innocent. With help from her recently deceased Nez Perce grandmother, Shandra becomes more confused than ever but just as determined to discover the truth. While Shandra is hesitant to trust her dreams, Detective Ryan Greer believes in them and believes in her.

Can the pair uncover enough clues for Ryan to make an arrest before one of them becomes the next victim?

SH Mug Art

 

Dreaming up an Amateur Sleuth by Paty Jager

Dream your dreams with your eyes closed…paty shadow (1)

But live your Dreams with your eyes open—

                                                                     ~Cherokee~

The amateur sleuth in my Shandra Higheagle Mystery Series is half Nez Perce. She was raised to hide her Native American heritage when her Nez Perce father died and her mother remarried. However, her paternal grandmother kept in touch, and Shandra spent a summer during her teen-age years with her grandmother on the reservation. Her grandmother said Shandra had powers. When Shandra announced that at home her mother and step-father quickly made her see it was an old woman’s way to making an awkward teenaged girl feel special–nothing more.

As an adult, Shandra visits her grandmother more and is interested in discovering more about her roots. But her grandmother dies, leaving Shandra a note requesting she attend the Seven Drum Ceremony after the funeral.

While in the midst of murders and mystery, Shandra’s grandmother comes to her in dreams showing her clues to the true murderer. While Shandra investigates the dreams and discovers helpful information, she has a hard time believing the dreams and her grandmother’s presence.

This is the information I came up with when I was brainstorming who my amateur sleuth would be in the mystery series I wanted to write. I started with the niggling that I wanted a Native American character. But not being Native American myself, I didn’t know the first thing about being from that heritage. That’s when I came up with the idea of her being kept from those roots. It allowed me to discover Shandra’s heritage as she is discovering it, a piece at a time.

To add a bit more of the “mysticism” or “dreamer” qualities to the Native American element I have her deceased grandmother come to her in dreams. Visions and dreams are instrumental in Native American culture. This was my way of drawing on elements that could be intrinsic to Shandra.

And all amateur sleuths need a person in law enforcement to keep them safe. I gave Shandra handsome Weippe County Detective Ryan Greer. He believes in Shandra’s dreams more than her in the beginning thanks to his Irish mother who taught him to believe in things you can’t see.

I’m enjoying getting to know Shandra and Ryan better with each book I write and having them meet the locals of Huckleberry, Idaho and the unique murders that draw Shandra into the investigations. And I can use the backdrop of the ski resort and the art communities because Shandra is a potter whose works are considered art.

What draws you to the main character in a mystery series? What elements in a character haven’t you seen that you would like to see?

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Spatter by Paty Jager

paty shadow (1)When I started my first mystery novel, Double Duplicity: A Shandra Higheagle Mystery, I had a “novel” way for the victim to be stabbed. While writing the story I had to write the scene when my main character the amateur sleuth, who in the first book hadn’t had any mystery/murder events in her life to that point.

The first thing I did was connect online with a forensic coroner who explained different types of stabbing with me. I asked if my murder weapon (not a knife but I won’t say what it is in case you haven’t read the book ;)) would cause spatter. Would the person who used the weapon have blood on them?

This is what the specialist said:

1) The “spatter” will depend on what the blade hits and the overlay of clothing.

2) Each rib has an artery that runs on the bottom side, in a groove (the intercostal artery). Hitting one of these, or tearing it by breaking the rib, will cause more bleeding—most of which will be internal—into the chest cavity.

3) There’s not likely to be any spatter until the weapon is pulled out; most of the external bleeding comes from removing the weapon.

4) If the weapon hits the heart, a lot more bleeding will happen—again, mostly internal, but some external. The right side of the heart is closest to the chest wall; this is the lower pressure side of the heart.

5) After the weapon is removed, blood leakage will be a pulsatile ooze, but not shoot across the room.

6) If the lung is hit, the biggest risk is air leakage in the chest (pneumothorax) and
bleeding in the chest cavity (hemothorax) or both (hemopneumothorax). The blood leakage from the chest is a frothy red/pink, as it’s full of air.

7) Clothing is going to make spatter much less likely, except for removing the weapon.

Here’s an article the specialist suggested:
http://medicalscenewriter.blogspot.com/2012/09/stab-wound-to-chest.html

Double Duplicity (652x1024)Here is the scene where Shandra finds the gallery owner. 

“Paula?” A light shone around the edges of the partially open office door. Shandra pushed the door open. “Why aren’t you answer—”

Paula’s arms hung splayed away from her body that was cradled in her leather office chair. A large red patch spread across her body and lifeless eyes stared up at the ceiling.

Shandra backed out of the room. She couldn’t swallow for the lump of fear and vileness she’d just witnessed.

“Think… Call the police.” She punched in 9 as sirens shrieked and grew louder. “Maybe they’re coming here.” They had to be coming here. This town is too small for there to be two incidents where the cops are needed at the same time.

And this is what the seasoned detective thought when he walked into the same room.

He slipped his pack off his shoulder and extracted booties and latex gloves from the outside pockets before swinging it back onto his shoulder. He pulled the booties over his cowboy boots and wrestled his hands into the latex gloves.

The metallic tang of blood assaulted his nostrils as he stepped into the room. The scent stopped his feet and sent his mind spinning back in time to the gang fight he’d walked into in Chicago. There were many who left the alley in body bags. The scent of blood had permeated the whole alley where the two gangs had used every weapon they could get their hands on to annihilate the other.

His month long hospital stay, six months of grueling rehab, and then facing the leaders of the gangs as he testified at their trials was one horrendous bad dream. As soon as his part in the trials was over, his resignation hit the commander’s desk and he came home.

Ryan shook his head clearing it of the past and stared at the woman sprawled in the chair, staring at the ceiling. His gaze immediately landed on the large dark spot covering her chest. From lack of blood on the floor, if it was a bullet, it didn’t exit the back. Making it a small caliber and less likely anyone heard the shot. He peered closer. The large amount of blood and ripped clothing around the wound dismissed his thoughts of it being a bullet that caused the wound.

He slipped a hand into the outside pocket of the backpack and pulled out his digital camera. The click of photos one by one capturing the scene from all angles, triggered his detective mode. He forgot all else, moving in a circle, closing in on the body. Standing over the body, he looked straight down at her chest. The torn clothing at the entry sight and the gaping hole with pink foam…this wasn’t caused by a clean stab of a knife, it was viciously twisted to cause maximum damage.

Depending on the person and their knowledge it makes a difference in how the research is used.

Shandra Higheagle Mystery Series Books

Double Duplicity

Tarnished Remains

Deadly Aim

Murderous Secrets – coming the end of September

Paty Jager

Writing into the Sunset

That Could Kill Someone by Paty Jager

paty shadow (1)As a murder mystery writer there are times when I have to acknowledge the fact my brain and actions could lead one to think I’m a psychopath or serial killer. 😉

I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to kill someone that is easy or unusual. Not because there is anyone in particular I’m thinking of offing, but because I need to find unusual and hard to discover mysteries/ ways of murder for my amateur sleuth and detective to come up against.

A recent trip on the Steens Mountains in eastern Oregon had my mind flashing in overdrive with scenarios that could happen on an innocent trek to the wilderness. Around one small lake where people camp and fish the undergrowth was so thick a person could be killed and their body hidden for quite some time before either the smell aroused a curious dog or coyote or kids playing would find it. The body could be hidden for weeks, months, or years, depending on when the killing happened and if there were people around to smell the decaying body. The high precipice where a person can look down over a mile to the Alvord desert is also an innocent, yet deadly spot. The vistas are breathtaking. Someone struck in awe of the sight could easily have a miss-step or push that sends them plummeting to their death.

Another interesting tourist spot is Diamond Craters. These large craters caused by lava tubes and bubbles are deep. The upper edge is lined with uneven, craggy rocks that could easily trip a person to fall head first into the crater and land on large boulders, up-heaved lava waves or a rattlesnake. Once the victim has fallen into the crater and is injured, if no one came along during a hot summer day, and if the injuries from the fall or a snake didn’t get them first, the hot sun and no water would give a person heat stroke.

Even the local historical museum had a storage room of sorts in the back that held antique items that had yet to be put in the museum. There were several long, heavy metal branding irons that could easily be swung with enough force to crack a skull and the body could be shoved behind a large wooden sign leaning against the wall. Or the rusted metal plow hanging from the ceiling could “accidentally” fall on an unsuspecting victim.

Even my own property has several places if not careful someone with a grudge could send a boulder hurtling down the side of the hill to wipe out an unsuspecting victim.

Double Duplicity (652x1024)I’ve always had an imagination that would put my family and friends into danger now I do it with my characters in the Shandra Higheagle Mystery Series.

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Life Would Be Boring Without Mystery by Paty Jager #mystery #cozymystery

The creaking door, missing papers, an unusual scent hanging in the air…Mystery is all paty shadow (1)around us every day of our lives. It could be the phone call you answered to find no one there. The new cat hanging out in your back yard. Or something that’s gone missing at work. Mystery is what keeps life interesting and always testing our brain.

Life would be boring without mystery.

Growing up I was an avid reader and my favorite books were those that had a bit of mystery to them. In junior high I devoured the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series. Even the Walter Farley books I read had mystery to them even though I initially picked up the books for the horses.

When I first started writing historical westerns I couldn’t keep the mystery out of the stories. It was building the mystery in the story rather than the romance that made the plotting interesting to me. I recently had a conversation with the editor who published my first westerns. When I told her I was writing mysteries and loving it, she said, “I always thought your voice leaned toward mysteries.”  That kind of validated my decision to write mysteries.

My other interest is Native American cultures, specifically, the Nez Perce. I grew up in Wallowa County, the area where the Chief Joseph band or Lake Nimiipuu as they call themselves, summered and wintered. Of course this was way before I lived in Wallowa County, but they were always on my mind growing up. I found it unfortunate that the only time the Nez Perce were allowed in the county was during Chief Joeseph Days a rodeo weekend where the locals benefited from the history of the county yet the people who lived there before them it was the only weekend they were allowed to return.

A lot has changed in the thirty years since I moved away. The Nez Perce have purchased land in the county. They have a yearly powwow, Tamkaliks, the weekend before Chief Joseph Days, and they have put up interpretive centers as well as are now monitoring the salmon runs in the county. I’m happy they are having voices into how the county is moving forward.

My interest in the Nez Perce and my love of mystery is combined into the Shandra Higheagle Mystery series. Shandra Higheagle is a half Nez Perce artistic potter. Her father was a rodeo bareback bronc rider. He was killed in a rodeo accident when she was four. Her mother remarried and Shandra was told to keep her Native American heritage a secret. However, her paternal grandmother a shaman in the Nez Perce Seven Drums society made sure Shandra was drawn back to her roots.

The first book, Double Duplicity, starts with Shandra returning from her grandmother’s funeral. Shandra finds a murdered art gallery owner after seeing her best friend, also an art gallery owner, hurrying across the street. When Shandra is dropped as a suspect, she begins digging to find the real killer before her friend becomes the scapegoat. Her grandmother comes to her in dreams, directing her to clues that help Shandra and a detective find the real murderer.

Double Duplicity (652x1024)Double Duplicity: A Shandra Higheagle Mystery

Book one of the Shandra Higheagle Native American Mystery Series

Dreams…Visions…Murder

On the eve of the biggest art event at Huckleberry Mountain Resort, potter Shandra Higheagle finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. She’s ruled out as a suspect, but now it’s up to her to prove the friend she witnessed fleeing the scene was just as innocent. With help from her recently deceased Nez Perce grandmother, Shandra becomes more confused than ever but just as determined to discover the truth.

Detective Ryan Greer prides himself on solving crimes and refuses to ignore a single clue, including Shandra Higheagle’s visions. While Shandra is hesitant to trust her dreams, Ryan believes in them and believes in her.

Can the pair uncover enough clues for Ryan to make an arrest before one of them becomes the next victim?

Buy Links:

Windtree Press http://windtreepress.com/portfolio/double-duplicity/

Amazon  http://authl.it/2ng

Kobo  http://store.kobobooks.com/search?Query=Double+Duplicity

Nook http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/double-duplicity-paty-jager/1120790322

Apple https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id942249867

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