Gathering my Thoughts

When a new year comes around and I’m starting a new book, it just feels right. My desk is clean. Something I do the end of every year is make sure my desk is tidy and ready for the coming year. (I also do it between each book/project) It wipes away what I had been working on and makes a clean slate for the next project.

This first project of the year is book 9 in the Gabriel Hawke series. I enjoy writing these books. They are set, mostly, where I grew up and have a unique character who I feel I can tap into better than my female protagonists. I don’t know why, but Hawke flows from me without doubts or self recriminations that the character isn’t this or that.

This book will push me and my character. He and his significant other are going to be pushed to their limits trying to help a wounded person and survive a blizzard in the Wallowa Mountains. I have my research books stacked up and have started reading them. I have even ran some tests in our snow to see what blood looks like when it first drips onto the snow. I took photos and studied the spot for about four days, until our snow melted. I know what my character will see or be on the look out for when they follow the sparse drops of blood from the bleeding person who left a dead body behind.

Blood experiment

Several of the scenes have played over in my mind since I came up with the premise of this book. I have sat down and discovered who the person they are following is and who the dead person was. I wrote out the chain of ideas for scenes. Once I do some more research on snow conditions and animals that would be accessible for food or to follow to stay warm, I’ll start writing the book this week.

While some people don’t like to have a “road map” or outline to follow when they write, I’ve found, after the last Spotted Pony Casino Mystery that I “mapped out” that it helped me to know my story better when I started and while I didn’t stick to the road or route I’d mapped, I felt I had a stronger book throughout because I knew a bit more about my characters and who I wanted to highlight as possible suspects.

As yet, I don’t have a title for book #9 in the Hawke books. I’m waiting to see what animal makes sense that is out in the winter and would work for the premise of the book. I’m a writer that either has the titles before I start the book or I come across it as I’m writing. It looks like it will be the latter this time.

If you have any thoughts on a winter animal put it in the comments and I’ll look up its habits to see if it might work.

At the moment I have Churlish Badger being made into an audiobook as well as the Shandra Higheagle Mystery book, Homicide Hideaway. But what you really need to know is through the month of January, if you like audiobooks, Book 1 in the Shandra Higheagle Mystery series, Double Duplicity is $1.99 at Authors Direct.

If you don’t have the app it’s easy to download and free. This audiobook resource gives me and the other authors using it more royalties than the other audiobook vendors. (and my books are priced lower here.)

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.

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Expanding my Horizons by Paty Jager

“You can’t make everyone happy.” One of my least favorite sayings but so true.

I took two trips last year that were experiences I’d never had before. I finally saw a tropical island for myself and I traveled to another country by myself – Iceland. I loved the trips and wanted to use what I experienced to write books with my characters enjoying the same places.

I set Abstract Casualty in the Shandra Higheagle series in Kaua’i Hawaii. I had a great time reliving my time there while writing the book. And the fun I had finding a way to get my character to the island in a realistic manner. Some readers loved it and the new experience, others wrote to me and wanted Shandra back in her fictional county in Idaho. They missed the secondary characters they’d come to know.

For those readers who love going back to the same place, Capricious Demise is set back in Weippe County, my fictional county in Idaho. I finished the first draft and will be releasing it in July.

This month, June 1st, the 5th Gabriel Hawke Novel, Fox Goes Hunting, released. My critique partners, beta-readers, and proof reader, loved it! I already received one 2 star review. The reader didn’t like that Hawke wasn’t tracking as much and they couldn’t pronounce the names of the characters. This book is set in Iceland.

I loved bringing things into the book that I saw and learned while in Iceland. I hope to capture a broader range of reader by going “International”. Yes, there are typical Icelandic names for characters from there. It is also set during an international Search and Rescue conference so I had secondary characters from around the world.

Yes, both books set in real places took twice as long to write. I had to make sure distances, towns, places were correct. I wanted to make sure I gave a clear picture of where they went and what they saw.

When I write the Shandra books set in a fictional place, I can make things up as I go, though I did make a map of the county when I started writing the series, so I do keep things in the same place every book. But if I want to add a business, I find a block that I didn’t put a business in already and add it.

The Hawke books are set in a real place, but I made up fake towns in place of the real ones to keep anyone I might have grown up with in that county to think I am talking about them. 😉

While I know there are some readers who don’t like the unexpected, I believe writing outside of my comfort zone and incorporating other places and cultures into my writing helps me grow as an individual and hopefully gives my readers a glimpse at a culture they might not get a chance to experience first hand.