I think your character is getting old and senile.

That is what my oldest daughter, one of my beta readers, said to me while reading my latest draft of the next Gabriel Hawke book. I laughed and asked why. She mentioned two things that were not my character’s fault. They were mine. So it is the writer and creator of Gabriel Hawke who is getting senile! LOL

Actually, this last manuscript, I found myself having to reread the last two or three chapters every time I sat down to write because I would have days in between being able to write. I lost the flow of the story and the events. Even though I also write about three or four chapters and then go back and on a notepad write down all the significant events that have to do with the murder or investigation they are doing.

I also have a calendar white board that I put small sticky notes on each day with the significant information that is discovered that day. It helps me keep track of the length of time the book plays out over and what forensics information could be coming in.

With all of these “cover my backside” in place, I still repeated things and had my character saying things that he’d already said. Yikes!

Now I know why I didn’t pursue my writing career until my kids were older. Right now we have our oldest granddaughter living with us. We have been attending her volleyball games and I’ve been taking days to go trail riding with other grandkids. I’m spending time with family and my writing is suffering. But I would rather have that than my family suffering.

While the Hawke book is off with my beta readers, I started fleshing out the next Spotted Pony Casino Mystery book. I did something I have never done. I made a 5 page outline of sorts. I wrote five or less sentences for each chapter pushing the plot of the story along. I didn’t add in any emotional or sub plots, but I’m hoping those will come naturally as I write and the outline will keep my story flowing without repeating and backtracking. Because until this granddaughter graduates in May, I will be busy with her and her school functions as well as having fun with the grandkids down the road.

If you are a writer, do you plot or do an outline before you start a book? Have you ever discovered at the end that you had repeated information?

Readers, have you ever read a book that repeated information or made the main character seem lost?

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.

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

My Favorite Time of the Year by Paty Jager

While this year has been challenging in many ways, I have to say it has been rewarding for me as an author. I may not have been able to attend several conferences I’d hoped to participate in, however, the state of things made it possible for me to reach my word goal for the year, spend more time working on writing and writing related projects, and to see the path I want to take in the coming years.

I wrapped up my first mystery series. That book will publish in 2021. I’m sad to see this character go as Shandra was my mystery breakout series. The excitement over creating another character for a new series outweighs the sadness. 😉

My hero, Gabriel Hawke, will be protecting Wallowa County until he is retirement age or I can’t come up with a good murder for him to solve. 😉

Speaking of Gabriel Hawke. Book 6, Turkey’s Fiery Demise is available in ebook.

Accident or Homicide?

State Trooper Gabriel Hawke is called to a vehicle on fire. When the steam and smoke clears, a charred body is slumped over the steering wheel.

The Muzzleloader Rendezvous has attendees from all over the Pacific Northwest, but it’s the local club that raises Hawke’s suspicions. With the president of the club dead, rumors abound. If the gossip and tracking won’t reveal the truth to who killed the strutting turkey, Hawke’s focus on the truth will.  https://books2read.com/u/38RnOZ

Moving into 2021, I’m filling out character charts for the new character and secondary characters who will be part of her life. I’ll be gathering the information I need for the next Hawke book, set on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation, and digging around to come up with a list of murders that I can use for the two series.

I’ll also be throwing several Facebook parties, like my recent “Where in the world is Isabella Mumphrey?” I’ll be having a month-long event in May for my 50th published book. If you’re a reader, you might want to either follow my author page at Facebook, or join my newsletter to get in on all the fun. I’ll be posting here as well.

I love December because it is the last month of the year. It lets me think about what I’ve accomplished this year and look forward to planning for the next.  And that the month ends with two celebrations, Christmas and New Years, makes it the perfect way to end a year and start a new one. I have already written out my goals for 2021, in writing, publishing, and life. Not that the life ones ever completely happen, but I’m a stickler for getting my writing goals accomplished.

 Do you like December? Do you like to look back over the year and see what you’ve accomplished? Do you write out a plan for the coming year?