What Do Animals and Children Reveal? by Paty Jager

It’s funny how having a reader comment about how having a child’s interaction with my main character shows a different side to him–a side she liked–reminded me why I put animals, and in the case of the Gabriel Hawke series children, in my books.

When I started brewing up my character Shandra Higheagle, I knew she would have a big dog, because she was going to live alone on a mountain. But then I turned that big dog into a coward, and there went her protection. Along came a curmudgeon of a woman, Crazy Lil, who came with the ranch Shandra bought. And with Lil came Lewis, the cat, who hangs around her neck like a fur necklace.

The reason for the dog for Shandra was protection, but Lewis for Lil was to show she had a soft caring side that she doesn’t show. Or want anyone to know about. As is with most women, they both have a soft spot for horses. The way Lil cares for the cat, the horses, and Shandra, shows more of her character than one would guess from her interactions with other characters.

Gabriel Hawke, the main character in my new series, is a by the book Fish and Wildlife State Trooper. His marriage failed because of his job, so he doesn’t have plans to marry again. He is a bit standoffish to people he’s never met because of his Native American heritage and the put downs he’s suffered over the years. He likes to remain aloof until he sees which way the other person will treat him.

In walks his dog, Dog. Yes, he named his dog, Dog because he doesn’t want to get too attached, but guess what? The dog is by his side whenever Hawke isn’t in uniform. He shares food with the animal and allows it to sleep next to him in his sleeping bag when on patrol in the mountains. Then there’s Jack, his horse, and Horse, his mule. Hawke believes if you name an animal what it should be, just as it has it’s animal name, it will behave as such. Hence, a mule is called Horse to keep it from having the nasty mule tendencies. Guess what? It doesn’t always work. 😉

As Hawke works to keep his relationships with two women whose company he enjoys platonic, along comes a child who steals his heart with her interest in plants and all things that deal with his beloved Eagle Cap Wilderness. His heart softening and letting the child in has also lowered his resistance to the two women. All this interaction with animals and the child is bringing him out of his grumpy, stoic trance and having him see the world in a whole new way.

When a main character’s true self can be shown through animals or children, you can bet the reader is going to become more engaged with that character and care just a little bit more about them and what happens to them.

Rattlesnake Brother, book 3 in the Gabriel Hawke series is now available in ebook and print.

Corrupt officials.

Illegal hunters.

Death to those who dare complain.

Fish and Wildlife State Trooper Gabriel Hawke encounters a hunter with an illegal tag. The name on the tag belongs to the Wallowa County District Attorney and the man holding the tag isn’t the public defender. 

As Hawke digs to find out if the DA is corrupt, the hunter’s body is found. Zeroing in on the DA, Hawke finds he has more suspects than the DA and more deaths than the hunter.

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/3JyooJ

Too Many Ideas Not Enough Time by Paty Jager

Lit Light BulbIf only I could write twice as fast! Ideas come at me like raindrops in a storm.  Some ideas seem like a great idea at the time and as I get closer to writing the story, decide it won’t work.

And then there are the ones that come when you least expect it and hold up the more you think about them and start researching.

In December, my husband and I spent a weekend at a nice casino in Reno. I’d won the weekend from the Silent Auction at the Left Coast Crime conference in Reno last February.  Part of the package I purchased was a spa package. I was excited to get a massage.

And the spa…on my! I’d never been anywhere that pampered and had such wonderful amenities.  I sat in a dimly lit room, watching big colorful fish in an aquarium, drinking lemon water, and waiting my time for a massage. Depositphotos_213681916_l-2015

The masseuse arrived and escorted me to the room. It was dimly lit, soft music playing. She showed me everything and headed to the door. “Take off your robe and get under the sheet, I’ll be right back.”

I did as instructed and as I laid there, face down, my arms dangling over each side of the table, my mind went to- “What if I were a dead body?” And of course my head began spinning with how to work it into one of my Shandra Higheagle books.

By the time my massage was over, I had the plot all figured out in my head. What I needed now was research.  While waiting for my hubby to come out of the men’s side of the spa, I started quizzing the people at the counter. I filled up the back side of two price sheets with answers to my questions about how a spa of that magnitude ran.

Then two weeks ago, I spent a week at the Oregon Coast writing. It was wonderful! What I especially like when I write at the beach are my walks on the beach.

On one walk, when the wind was blowing and cold enough I had my sweatshirt hood tied tight, I shared the beach with an older gentleman and a little boy of about six. I assumed the older gentleman was the grandfather. The the boy had on only a t-shirt and shorts. He had something in his hand. He came up to me and said, “Look! I found a mermaid scale!” It appeared to be a colorful piece of mollusk shell. But I agreed with him.

20190206_182452I went on my walk and noticed a boat bobbing in the ocean just the other side of the breaks. Thinking it would make a nice photo, I took several, then turned and headed back the way, I’d come.

The grandfather was near the water. The little boy was splashing in the waning waves sweeping up on the sand.  I passed them and glanced out at the waves. The boat was moving along the other side of the breaks in the same direction I was.

I thought I saw the head of a sea lion. I stared and took photos, trying to capture the creature. Walking briskly because the wind was getting colder, I headed to the hotel stairs two blocks from the house where I was staying. I looked back at the beach.

The man was there but I didn’t see the boy. And the boat was heading the other direction. Perhaps what I saw wasn’t a sea lion but a man in scuba gear?

As I walked to the house, I put together the kidnapping of a boy and the woman who captured it on her camera without knowing. It will be a story in a Gabriel Hawke book.

I love when ideas hit and I can see they will be a fun book to write.

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Excited about 2019 by Paty Jager

gabriel hawke logoI think the last time I was so excited about a new year, it was 40 years ago. The reason being, my hubby’s mother told him he couldn’t get married until he was 21. She had a strange reason why, so we waited two years. Yes, we met when we were 19 and knew several months into the relationship that we were getting married. We didn’t really talk about getting married but where we would live, what we would do.

Anyway, 1979 couldn’t come fast enough for us.  And then it did, we married, had children, and forty years later he still supports my need to write.  He is a definite keeper. We both believed in dreams. He is living his– a 60 acre alfalfa field irrigated by a pivot. I am living mine by writing every day and putting out stories that I hope others enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing them.

My excitement for 2019 to get here has to do with my new Gabriel Hawke mystery series. The first book is on pre-order and will release on Jan. 20th.  Murder of Ravens takes me home. Most of the series will be set in the remote county in NE Oregon where I grew up.

I have always loved the beauty of the county, but the small town atmosphere really doesn’t work for this introvert. I don’t like people knowing what I’m doing or watching my every move. Which is why I didn’t return to live there. However, the same reason I don’t want to live there is exactly what I wanted for my series.

The area not only has generations of families and acres of remote land, it is one of the few counties that the Fish and Wildlife officers are also State Troopers. This dual job gives my character more subplots and a way to be in the middle of murder investigations.

I wrote about riding for a day with a Fish and Wildlife State Trooper in Wallowa County on an earlier post. That was my in-depth researching I did for this series. I’ve also had many email conversations with the same trooper and my son-in-law who is a detective with the state police.

As I’ve written each book, new things come up for me to research and carry the story in new directions and plant red herrings. I thought I couldn’t have anymore fun than writing the Shandra Higheagle mystery series, but, I have to say, writing Hawke’s books is just as fun! I hope the readers think so too.

Book 13 in the Shandra Higheagle series, Homicide Hideaway, released last week. Even going on their honeymoon to a remote hunting lodge, Ryan and Shandra get pulled into a murder investigation. In this book my reader are also introduced to Hawke.

homicide hideaway 5x8Love… Marriage… Murder

Less than twelve hours after arriving at a remote hunting lodge for their honeymoon, Shandra Higheagle and Detective Ryan Greer find a body. Shandra’s cousin had quarreled with the man earlier, and the clues point to her as being the murderer.

Fish and Wildlife State Trooper Gabriel Hawke, arrives and immediately takes a dislike to Shandra’s cousin. But he is willing to work with Shandra and Ryan to discover the truth.

For a remote hunting lodge, the place becomes overrun with suspicious guests. Shandra’s dreams and Hawke’s tracking skills soon discover the cause of the drunk’s death.

Universal Buy Link: https://www.books2read.com/u/3nYweo

State Trooper and master tracker Gabriel Hawke comes across a murder he’s never seen before while in the Eagle Cap Wilderness. Once he starts following the trail of clues, he’s determined to see the investigation through to the end.  Murder of Ravens Is available on pre-order and is releasing on Jan. 20th.

1 GH Murder of Ravens 5x8The ancient Indian art of tracking is his greatest strength…And also his biggest weakness.

Fish and Wildlife State Trooper Gabriel Hawke believes he’s chasing poachers. However, he comes upon a wildlife biologist standing over a body that is wearing a wolf tracking collar.

He uses master tracker skills taught to him by his Nez Perce grandfather to follow clues on the mountain. Paper trails and the whisper of rumors in the rural community where he works, draws Hawke to a conclusion that he finds bitter.

Arresting his brother-in-law ended his marriage, could solving this murder ruin a friendship?

Pre-order link: https://www.books2read.com/u/bxZwMP

These two books are the reason that I am so excited for 2019. I love writing these series. I can’t wait to get up in the morning and start working on them. Knowing I can get up every day and work on the books for these series makes me happy and will keep me rolling through this year.

How about you? What do you have that makes you happy keeps you going?

SH Mug Art

 

 

Killer Ideas by Paty Jager

I was visiting with my brother this weekend and he told me I had to come visit him. He had discovered some great ways to murder someone at the new fish hatchery where he works.

Not that we think a lot a like or anything… 🙂 This is the same brother who cave me the inspiration that started my Shandra Higheagle Series. As a bronze sculptor, he had details about how some statues were put together that gave him an idea on how to conceal a murder weapon which he passed on to his lovely big sister who likes to write stories about killing  people. LOL

How he works at an Indian fish hatchery which I can make fit into my new Gabriel Hawke series. You can bed as soon as things slow down around here with harvesting and company, we’ll take a trip to see all the great ways he’s found to hide a body or shorten a life. I know that sounds gruesome, but when you are constantly trying to find new and plausible ways to commit a murder that will stump your main character and your readers, you have to dig into every possibility.

For me a good murder mystery read is one where I’m interested in the method of murder as well as why it happened and by whom.

My first Gabriel Hawke book releasing in January has a unique twist to how the murdered victim is found.

Here is the blurb to Murder of Ravens to pique your interest.

The ancient Indian art of tracking is his greatest strength…

And also his biggest weakness.

Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife  State Trooper Gabriel Hawke believes he’s chasing poachers. However, he comes upon a wildlife biologist standing over a body that is wearing a wolf tracking collar.

He uses master tracker skills taught to him by his Nez Perce grandfather to follow clues on the mountain. Paper trails and the whisper of rumors in the rural community where he works, draws Hawke to a conclusion that he finds bitter.

Arresting his brother-in-law ended his marriage, could solving this murder ruin a friendship?

The Road to Writing is Paved with Good Intentions

Photo of Sea WavesMy book, Murder in the Museum, was published in the spring by Cozy Cat Press. I resolved to spend at least twice a week promoting it and several more hours writing the second book in the series, Murder in the Cemetery.  I was feeling positive about my progress. The first, in all formats, was selling well, and I had written 15 chapters of the second book. Then spring turned into summer, here on Lake Ontario a season that starts with the July 4th holiday. And that’s when my resolve crumbled.

You must understand that we live in a resort area where summer days are long and the sunsets, spectacular. Where our days are filled with fishing, boating, beachcombing, golfing, swimming, festivals, parades and fireworks. Oh, and did I forget to mention the parties and picnics?  And the intimate get-togethers with friends at waterside restaurants? And outdoor concerts and theatre performances? And gardening?  And farm markets? This summer I also coordinated multiple events and activities for a family destination wedding that was held here, and we had three weeks of non-stop company. Get the picture?

I wanted to enjoy the beautiful weather and activities with friends and family, and that was the point when my resolve to write and promote on a regular basis crumbled. But I wasn’t feeling very good about it. I felt guilty and was losing sleep. Then one night, while tossing, turning and fretting, I took a deep breath and acknowledged that I was putting too much pressure on myself. I calmed down and faced reality.

The reality was that while not doing as well online, book sales were brisk at the multitude of seasonal gift shops, museums, visitors’ centers, bookstores and other outlets in our village and nearby communities. The reality was that I’d enjoyed several successful book signings and, as a local author, had been asked to attend various book group meetings.   And when I thought about it a little more I realized that life’s experiences make us better writers. Good and bad, they help us craft our stories with authenticity and richness. When I sit down to continue writing the second book, I’m sure I’ll include some of this summer’s celebrations in the story.

So, I decided to stop fretting and enjoy this bountiful season. I understood that it was okay for me to take some time to not only smell the posies I’d planted or cultivated over the years, but also weed them and feed them. And to do the same for myself.

Summer is now almost over, and fall is on the way. Soon I’ll settle down and get back to work on a more consistent basis. But I’m also going to enjoy the bonfires, apple-picking, grape harvests and wine tastings, festivals, hikes and cozy dinners with my husband, friends and family.  And I’ll weave these experiences into my stories, as well.

Writing a Mystery is like Baking a Cake by Paty Jager

I had a post written, went back in to add a little more, and lost the whole thing! Man, I hate when that happens!

I am finishing up a historical western romance book and getting ready to start on the next Shandra Higheagle book. It will be book 11 in the series and take place partly on the Colville reservation.  It will be the wedding book…or will it?  LOL That’s for readers to find out!

Shandra will go to the reservation to learn and practice a Nez Perce dance she wishes to incorporate into her wedding to Ryan. Having found her family and heritage at the same time as finding Ryan, she wishes to combine her two cultures in the wedding.  which means someone will get killed and she will want to help discover who did it and why with the help of her deceased grandmother.

All the research–Shandra’s heritage, how someone could be killed and what the forensics would say, the legal information I need to know, and keeping it all plausible is what makes writing a murder mystery so much fun! It makes me think, piece things together, and then try and keep the reader from figuring out who did it while also dropping some clues in the mix.

In a way writing a mystery is a lot like baking a cake. You have to read the recipe, which in this case decides the who, what, and why. Gather your ingredients — in my case gather my suspects.  Then mix together the ingredients or in the case of the book put together plausible scenes that show and deceive at the same time. Add a little something special that makes the cake or the story interesting and enjoyable, all the while holding out on what the “secret sauce” or killer is.  Then ice the cake with something delicious and come up with an ending that surprises the reader, yet was there all along.

I must have used the correct recipe on Haunting Corpse, book 9 in the Shandra Higheagle Series because it is a finalist in the paranormal category of the Daphne du Maurier contest. I’m honored that my book did so well in such a prestigious contest.

Another fun thing about my Shandra Higheagle Series, Books 1-6 are now available in audio!

 

Murder From the Headlines by Paty Jager

2017 headshot newWhen I started brainstorming the newest Shandra Higheagle Mystery, I didn’t think about what was in the headlines. I don’t even watch the news. It’s too depressing.

Every time I start brainstorming a book, I think about the world around me or my life. It is easier to write about something you have a vested interest in. I’d already determined that Shandra would volunteer at  Warner High School. That had been mentioned more as an excuse for her to ferret out information in the previous book, but it was an option for the next book. I took it and ran.

She’s at a high school. Who could I murder and why? I traveled back to my high school days. There had been favorite teachers and not so favorite teachers, but the one that stuck out in my mind the most was the one who gave me the creeps. I didn’t like his smile, he dressed too fancy for the area where we lived, and everyone knew, that if a girl sat in the front row wearing a dress, they received a A for the day and enough of those would get you an A for the class. I didn’t hear any more rumors about him than that, but as I stated before, he kind of gave me the creeps, and I had two classes with him.

I took that feeling and information and came up with a much more lecherous teacher in my fictional school. I gave him a mental disorder that made him a pervert. He was short of stature and preyed on the women his size of smaller. Teachers and students alike. Then I gave the principal a misguided reason for not following through on the harassment charges.

And I had a murder victim.

Adding an autistic boy, who’s older brother looked out for him, and cyber bulling, I found a story full of possible suspects and lots of hidden secrets.

When I finished the book, I saw it as a misleading mystery.  My reviewers wrote in their reviews, “ripped from the headlines.” So I’m guessing my latest book is not only a mystery, but it has subjects that are being talked about in the news. Which is good for my story and promotion, but I hadn’t planned it that way. It was a story born of my past experience and adding in the culture of today.

Do you like stories that incorporate what is happening in the news?

Artful Murder 5x8Book ten in the Shandra Higheagle Mystery Series

Secrets… Scandal… Murder…

An autistic boy and his brother need potter Shandra Higheagle’s help when a teacher’s body is found after a confrontation with the older brother. Shandra knows the boy is innocent. Digging into the teacher’s life, she and Ryan turn up scandal.

Detective Ryan Greer has believed in Shandra’s dreams in the past, but she can’t always be right. When his investigation uncovers a principal on the take, females being harassed, and parents kept in the dark, he discovers more suspects than the brothers. Shandra’s time at the school is coming to an end, and the killer has struck again.

Universal buy link: https://www.books2read.com/u/bapvjq

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