Mystery and Mysticism by Paty Jager

paty shadow (1)My brother is an artist who creates his own bronze statues and patinas bronze work for other artists. When he told me about a specific piece he’d put the patina on and how it had a unique configuration, he had my attention. His words, “This would make a great murder weapon.”

That sentence stayed with me for several years.

And finally, when I decided to write a murder mystery series, I jumped at the idea of using a 300 lb bronze statue as the weapon. Only I had to come up with a plausible amateur sleuth and give her a profession. That is how Shandra Higheagle, a potter who is half Nez Perce Indian, came to be. I wanted her to have the Native American background to keep with my tag line, “Murder mystery and steamy western romance starring cowboys and Indians.”  And I wanted her to use her heritage to help solve the murders. That is where her Nez Perce grandmother came onto the scene.

Shandra’s Nez Perce father was a rodeo bronc rider who died in a rodeo accident when she was four. Her Caucasian mother and step-father kept her from her father’s family until Shandra rebelled as a teenager and spent a summer with her grandmother.  While Shandra still wasn’t allowed to let people know of her Indian heritage, she kept in touch with her grandmother. The first book opens with Shandra returning from her grandmother’s funeral and seven drum ceremony.

Where is this all going you ask?  When Shandra is suspected of killing a gallery owner and then the county sheriff’s detective turns his interest to her best friend, Shandra’s grandmother comes to Shandra in her dreams, guiding her to the evidence that will help them find the murderer.

Shandra has a hard time believing in these dreams, yet the detective believes. Her dreams cause her conflict with herself and allows her to let someone in after years of keeping herself closed off.

One of the most difficult and rewarding parts of writing these books is to come up with dreams for Shandra to have that reflect what is going on with the mystery without giving anything away.

The first three books of the Shandra Higheagle Mystery series are now in an ebook box set.

Here are the shortened blurbs for the first three books in the Shandra Higheagle Mystery Series.

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Double Duplicity

Potter Shandra Higheagle’s Nez Perce grandmother visits her dreams, revealing clues that help Shandra uncover not only one murder but two.

Tarnished Remains

Digging up Crazy Lil’s past takes Shandra Higheagle down a road of greed, miscommunication, and deceit.

Deadly Aim

The dead body of an illicit neighbor and an old necklace sends potter Shandra Higheagle on a chase to find a murderer.

Windtree Press / Amazon / Nook / Apple / Kobo

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 25+ novels and over a dozen novellas and short stories of murder mystery, western historical romance, and action adventure. She has a RomCon Reader’s Choice Award for her Action Adventure and received the EPPIE Award for Best Contemporary Romance. Her first mystery was a finalist in the Chanticleer Mayhem and Mystery Award and is a finalist in the RONE Award Mystery category.  This is what Mysteries Etc says about her Shandra Higheagle mystery series: “Mystery, romance, small town, and Native American heritage combine to make a compelling read.”

blog / websiteFacebook / Paty’s Posse / Goodreads / Twitter / Pinterest

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What do Jessica Fletcher, Shania Twain, and Sarah Winnemucca have in common? by #Paty Jager

canstockphoto26040640I was asked this question for a blog interview I did: Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.

These are the people/characters I picked and the reasoning behind choosing them.

The first is a character: Jessica Fletcher of the TV series Murder She Wrote. Jessica is always finding herself in the middle of murders and so is Shandra Higheagle my protagonist in the Shandra Higheagle Mystery series. They are both amateur sleuths and they both have creative minds. Shandra is a potter who sells her sought-after vases as art pieces.

DanPost_DP3544_15The second person is real: Shania Twain, the country singer. Her artistic nature and panache reminds me of Shandra. My character buys a new pair of fancy cowgirl boots every time she sells a vase. She likes the flashy, fancy ones with embroidery and cut-outs. And while she dresses with flair and adds special touches to her vases, she loves to ride her horse, snuggle with her dog, and dig in the clay that she uses for her art.

The third person is also real and a part of history: Sarah Winnemucca, a Paiute woman who was an activist and educator from 1844-1891. Shandra has been kept from her father’s Nez Perce family while growing up. Now that is an adult, she is exploring her heritage. The more she travels to the reservation to get to know her family, she is determined to help her people and family through her art and educate the masses. I have a post here about some other fascinating Paiute women.

When this question was first put to me, I had to think about it a bit. But once I started connecting the people with my character it became clear who she was and how she related to each of these women I picked.

I’m currently working on the 6th book in the Shandra Higheagle series, Reservation Revenge. This book is all set on the Colville Indian Reservation. The home of the Chief Joseph band of Nez Perce and 11 other tribes. It has been a learning experience writing this book. Both culturally and as I try to make it twist and turn.

If you want to learn more about Shandra Higheagle you can go here.

You can get the first book of the series for free:

Double Duplicity (652x1024)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?

BUY LINKS

Amazon / Kobo / Nook / Apple / Windtree Press

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 25+ novels and over a dozen novellas and short stories of murder mystery, western historical romance, and action adventure. She has a RomCon Reader’s Choice Award for her Action Adventure and received the EPPIE Award for Best Contemporary Romance. Her first mystery was a finalist in the Chanticleer Mayhem and Mystery Award and is a finalist in the RONE Award Mystery category. This is what Mysteries Etc says about her Shandra Higheagle mystery series: “Mystery, romance, small town, and Native American heritage combine to make a compelling read.”

All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

blog / websiteFacebook / Paty’s Posse / Goodreads / Twitter

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 photo source: © Can Stock Photo Inc. / dizanna

6 Deadly Sins of Writing a Mystery by Paty Jager

Every mystery writer wants to write the best who-dun-it. The one who kept the reader guessing to the end and then has the reader saying, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming.”  But the writer has to beware of the 6 things that can make them lose readers.

  1. Fair play – All clues discovered by the detective must be made known to the reader.
  2. The murderer must be introduced in the story before he is announced as the killer. Someone can’t appear in the last chapter and then is announced as the murderer.
  3. The crime being solved must be significant. Murder, kidnapping, blackmail, theft something that has a significant impact on the story.
  4. The solution can’t be stumbled on. There must be detection done by the protagonist(s). A web of clues that not only misdirects the sleuth but the reader.
  5. The suspects should be known and the murderer among them.
  6. Keep the story to the solving the crime, don’t toss in unnecessary things to throw the reader off.

If a writer keeps these in mind and takes the reader on a journey of discovering one clue after the other, you can still keep the reader guessing as each suspect is slowly dropped from the list.

I like to bring the murderer into the story not as a character on the page but as a character that is alluded to. I used this method in my latest Shandra Higheagle Mystery, Killer Descent.

Some may say that having my amateur sleuth’s grandmother come to her in dreams would be a no-no as stated in number 4. But the dreams don’t give her the clues, they direct her to seeking out the clues. She still has to decipher the dreams and then find the clue. I have a post about it here.

I’m currently writing the next Shandra Higheagle Mystery, Reservation Revenge. Setting it on an actual reservation has been giving me some logistical challenges, but I’m excited to see where the clues lead me. 😉

About Me:

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 25+ novels and over a dozen novellas and short stories of murder mystery, western historical romance, and action adventure. She has a RomCon Reader’s Choice Award for her Action Adventure and received the EPPIE Award for Best Contemporary Romance. Her first mystery was a finalist in the Chanticleer Mayhem and Mystery Award and is a finalist in the RONE Award Mystery category.  This is what Mysteries Etc says about her Shandra Higheagle mystery series: “Mystery, romance, small town, and Native American heritage combine to make a compelling read.”

All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

blog / websiteFacebook / Paty’s Posse / Goodreads / Twitter

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Be Professional at all Times by Paty Jager

signing HerringboneLast Friday I had a book signing with a new bookstore owner in a town where I lived for thirty years.

I have a little person who sits on my shoulder and tells me to get things done in a timely fashion and don’t make anyone have to work too hard for an event I’m the center of.

My first contact with the bookstore owner was to walk in and introduce myself, give her a card, and let her know I had a new mystery book releasing in March. She thanked me for coming in and said she would contact me. She didn’t. So I followed up with her via email when I had several other events happening in her area. I reminded her who I was, that I had a new release and that I would be in her area on several days and would one of them work for a book signing.

She replied with two dates that would work for her. I jumped on the first date she had available. Then I followed up with sending press releases to the local newspapers and using Vista Print to make posters.  On another trip in that area, I dropped off posters and discussed the evening a bit more with her.

A couple weeks before the event, I checked back in and asked if I needed to bring any refreshments. She said she would have wine, water, lemonade, and cheese and crackers. I offered to bring cookies. I had a great idea and went on a hunt for cookie cutters and made weapon cookies.

weapon cookies

The day/night of the signing. I hauled my books, cookies, and giveaways into the store two hours before the presentation/signing time. The owner looked at me with wonder. “You’re early!” I explained I was having dinner with some friends before the signing and wanted to make sure everything was here and ready in case we got to talking and I lost track of time.

She thanked me and said I am the first author she’d worked with since buying the store who she hadn’t had to prod for bios and news release information  and hope they showed up on time.

I replied, “I like to make a good impression on bookstore owners so they have me back and feel good selling my books.”

You can write a good book, and get reviews but if you don’t have a good rapport with the people who hand sell your books, they are less likely to recommend you to their readers.

The event turned out fun. I talked about writing mystery and my journey to the Shandra Higheagle Mystery series I write.

After the event, the bookstore owner was happy with the results and in my opinion, that’s all that matters with an event like this!

www.patyjager.net

Award-winning author Paty Jager and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. All Paty’s work have Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Her Shandra Higheagle Mystery series, set in a fictional ski resort in Idaho, is full of quirky characters, twists, turns, and a bit of mysticism.

 

 

 

 

A Gun in the Hands of a Woman by Paty Jager

revolverI’ve had to research what type of revolver would be best for a woman to use for my murder mystery series. While Shandra knows how to handle a rifle from growing up on a large ranch, she’s never felt the need for a handgun for protection.

My male protagonist believes Shandra needs a weapon for protection and gives her one of his hand guns and lessons. When the need to arm Shandra came up I went to law enforcement professionals and asked them what would be a good revolver for a woman. These are their answers.

The main thing they all said was she would have to train often with the weapon. It was wholeheartedly stated that if a person doesn’t train with a weapon, especially a handgun, they won’t be ready to use it if necessary. Also by practicing and using the gun often, they can tell by the weight if the weapon is loaded or not and know how to take it off safety without thinking about it. I agree with this. By the end of the summer when I’ve been shooting the sage rats on our property, I can take the .22 off the safety without thinking about it. But each spring when I start shooting, I fumble with the button trying to remember which is safe and which isn’t. I agree with the shoot often to get comfortable with the weapon.

Another common comment was if the person is untrained in loading and shooting there is more chance of accidents happening.

By using the weapon often the shooter also develops habits. These habits will let the person know if they left the revolver loaded or if it’s empty.

By looking at a revolver you can’t tell if it is loaded or not. Because they don’t eject the empty shells automatically. And only an experienced shooter knows to open the cylinder and inspect for dimples on the ends of the shells.

Another thing to think about when putting a revolver in the hands of a woman is how large are her hands. Some weapons have stock grips that can change out for smaller or larger grips to fit the hands better.  Some don’t. It’s not just the size of the grip that needs to be checked. Can her fingers reach the trigger while holding the pistol/revolver correctly. The index finger must be able to bend  and pull the trigger.  It is essential that a person handles several guns and finds the one that is most comfortable for their hands.

These are models that were suggested if the woman has small hands:

Smith & Wesson (S&W) J-Frames (Model-36 Chief’s Special and Model-36 LadySmith, 442, 638, 642, 60LS, 640LS, etc.)

Taurus models 650, 850, 651, 605, 85

Charter Arms Undercover, Undercoverette

Ruger SP-101, LCR

If she has larger hands, she could use something like:

S&W model 10, 64, 66, 67, 686

Taurus model 65, 66, 82

Charter Arms Bulldog, Pug

Ruger GP-100
In the end after doing all my research, I didn’t name what type of revolver Ryan gave Shandra to protect herself.

I’ve only shot a pistol before and rely on that experience when writing scenes involving my character shooting. That and gleaning all the information I can from people who know more about weapons.

The fifth book of the Shandra Higheagle Mystery Series is available in ebook and print.

Killer DescentKiller Descent

Book five in the Shandra Higheagle Mysteries

Abuse…Power…Murder

Once again Shandra Higheagle finds herself a suspect in a murder investigation when an ex-lover is found murdered on a Huckleberry ski run. A past she’d planned to never divulge now must be shared with the first man she’s trusted, Detective Ryan Greer.

Ryan puts his job in jeopardy when he’s booted from the case and uses all resources plus a few extra to prove Shandra is innocent. The information leads them down a road of blackmail and betrayal of the ugliest kind.

http://www.patyjager.net/mystery.html

paty shadow (1)Award-winning author Paty Jager and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon.All Paty’s work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Her Shandra Higheagle Mystery series, set in a fictional ski resort in Idaho, is full of quirky characters, twists, turns, and a bit of mysticism.

You can learn more about Paty at:

blog / websiteFacebook / Paty’s Posse / Goodreads / Twitter

 

Researching a Mystery by Paty Jager

SH Mug Art (2)

I’m not a forensic coroner or a lawyer or even a law enforcer. I’m the wife of a rancher and I write murder mystery.

As I write this next book in my Shandra Higheagle Mystery Series I’ve come across questions that have required answers by professionals. When I start a book I know how the victim will die and where. But I ultimately need to know what their injuries would look like say if they fall off a cliff or are stabbed with a blunt object or shot at close range with a small caliber gun.

These are all things coroners have seen and can tell me. But how do I get a coroner on speed-dial or in my case speed e-mail? I’m part of a yahoo loop that is filled with every kind of occupation a mystery or murder writer might need expertise about. The yahoo loop is crimescenewriter@yahoogroups.com

That’s how I connected with a coroner who not only answered my question I put on the loop but also emailed back and forth with me as I asked more questions and what-if’s. She has lots of knowledge and being a budding writer is willing to help out fellow writers.

Writing the opening and how the victim is killed and what is discovered went well, knowing I had the correct information and knowledge. Then I brought in some secondary characters and a sub-plot. For the sub-plot I needed some legal information. I turned to my niece who is a para-legal and what she couldn’t answer she knew where to send me to find the information. After my niece and I discussed the issue I wanted brought up in my book and how I wanted it dealt with, she suggested I contact a law enforcement officer.  I happen to have one in the family. 😉

I sent off an email explaining what I wanted to do, how would it be handled, and after some back and forth ,that element of the sub-plot was worked out.

Writing mystery books is my favorite writing experience. Not only do I have to puzzle out a mystery that will keep the reader thinking, I have to make sure the forensics and laws will work in the story and enhance the overall realness of the crime and the killer.

Have you read books where you could tell the writer hadn’t researched the laws or forensics? Did it bother you while reading the book or is that something that doesn’t bother you?

~*~

Award-winning author Paty Jager and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. She not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it. All Paty’s work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Her penchant for research takes her on side trips that eventually turn into yet another story.

You can learn more about Paty at:

her blog; Writing into the Sunset

her website; http://www.patyjager.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Do Writers Get Their Ideas? By Ann McAllister Clark

It’s magical really. Well, at first it may seem that way. Creative thoughts, words and phrases running through a writer’s mind as she is writing. Sometimes it feels the words are like ribbons spilling out of our fingers, pens, pencils or keypads as if someone or something else is actually gathering them up and pushing them out on the page. When that happens I always send up a sincere ‘Thank You’ to the goddess of verbiage and thoughts. Yes, it is magic and when it happens I take a big breath and stay with it as long as I can.

And then I remember all the studying I have done – many college classes and dozens of writing books over the years. I read classics – Russian, English, and mostly American.

Writers get this question all the time – “Where do your ideas come from?” Ideas come right from a compilation of life and the writer’s experiences – encounters and events or things she has witnessed or researched. Writers have a way of filling up their internal and invisible sponge with all that moves before their eyes and ears and all the minutia of life. A writer is voraciously curious and thirsty for interest. A bit of this person, a little of that person, saved notes of conversation and pieces of experience all go into the vault of ideas. So ideas come from just about anywhere and go into the big soup pot of a rich mix. And then at the end of this wash of creativity comes the real work. Revision, revision and then more revision. The work never seems completely right and some writers may revise a dozen times or more.

bone in teethI watched much of the George Zimmerman trial in Sanford, Florida. I suspect many writers watch court cases on TV or better yet in their own county courtrooms with thoughts of incorporating what they see into their stories. We have files of interesting newspaper clips and magazine articles to be used at a later date for inspiration or research. I took notes on the attributes of the detectives, lawyers and court proceedings during the trial in Sanford. I used those notes to describe the detectives in A Bone In Her Teeth: A St. Augustine Mystery.

Traveling through the streets of Gettysburg, Washington, DC, and Antitam and walking many battlefields helped me immensely with description in my historical novel, The Chrysalis: An American Family Endures The Civil War.

I just finished reading Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s memoir, My Beloved World. http://www.amazon.com/My-Beloved-World-Sonia-Sotomayor-ebook/dp/B00957T7CQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1447440566&sr=1-1&keywords=my+beloved+world

MorganWhen she was a young girl of about eight years old, she faithfully watched the weekly television program, Perry Mason and decided she wanted to be a lawyer! And then she diligently pursued that direction in every single aspect of her educational life all the way to her seat on the United States Supreme Court. I used her early years for inspiration in Morgan’s Redemption

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonia_Sotomayor

Where do we get our ideas for writing? Everywhere and anywhere.

Ann’s Books

A Bone In Her Teeth, paperback and kindle

Morgan’s Redemption, kindle edition and paperback

About  Ann McAllister Clark

A graduate with a BA in Education from charming Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Ann McAllister Clark, author of the award-winning novel, A Bone in Her Teeth: A St. Augustine Mystery, and Morgan’s Redemption: 1st in the Morgan’s Bridge series and soon to be released, The Chrysalis: An American Family Endures The Civil War,  is a teacher, journalist, and former used bookstore owner. She now lives and writes in a small cottage in the Nation’s Oldest City, St. Augustine, Florida.

Ann McAllister Clark’s website
Ann McAllister Clark’s blog “Ann’s Cottage Blog
Ann McAllister Clark’s facebook page