Writing is My Life or My Life is My Writing by Paty Jager

Artful Murder 5x8There’s not a writer out there who hasn’t brought something from their life into their writing. Writing whether for pleasure or for money, deals with everyday life experiences. It has to. One can’t bring the full flavor of life into a story without allowing something they have experienced to come into the writing.

Everyday happenings: the pungent aroma of coffee brewing, the dampness of mist walking on the beach, the blinding glare of light from an oncoming vehicle at night, the sweet and sour tingle on the tongue while eating candy.  All of these everyday things are used when writing. The senses and what we see and feel around us are used to show the characters in the same or comparable settings.

When I started planning Artful Murder, book 10 in the Shandra Higheagle mystery series and my March release, I had to draw on past experiences. Far back experiences. LOL In Artful Murder, Shandra volunteers in a high school art department.

While figuring out who the murder victim would be and lining up suspects, I went back to memories of high school and found the one teacher who the boys made fun of and the girls found creepy.  He became my murder victim.

I made the victim worse than the real life teacher. And I gave the principal a reason for ignoring the complaints of the other teachers and students. Which, of course, added more suspects and widened the net of suspects to parents and significant others of the female teachers.

Students are more savvy to what is going on in their schools than teachers think. I used this and a person with a grudge to add even more fuel to the ffire that was about to explode at the school.

I can honestly say that I have more fun fleshing out my mystery books than I do the other genre I write. There is something therapeutic about putting the people or events that I’ve come across through my life into books and find my own justice.

SH Mug Art

 

 

Understanding Your Characters

Part of what makes a great story is great characters. Any reader can tell you that. Writers talk about developing characters, fleshing them out, giving them back story, making them flawed and relatable. These are all vital steps in creating great a character.

But once the character is created, I find I have yet one more hurdle that I have to jump: I have to understand my characters.

A young couple in Galway contemplate the evening

But you created them, you might say with surprise. You wrote their background, you devised their likes and dislikes, fears and dreams. What’s left to understand?

Lots.

Characters run the show. They get away from you, the writer, taking their own story in directions you hadn’t anticipated. Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous. Yet it happens to all writers.

In my current work in progress, I realized after finishing the second draft that I had the wrong killer. A different character was standing in the wings looking guiltily around, trying not to make eye contact with me. Ah-hah, I thought. That’s the real killer!

Trying to pull a fast one on me, I might add.

In several of my books I have another problem of understanding with some of my characters: I write characters who are not native English speakers.

My mother and grandmother in Warsaw

As we all know, language affects not just the way we talk but even the way we think. Writing a foreign character (foreign to me, that is) means not only understanding their native tongue enough to be able to replicate their thoughts, but also understanding the way they frame their thoughts in the first place.

A Pole, an American and an Irishman walk into a bar…. They’re all thinking a little differently and it’s my job to understand those differences.

A woman examines a grave in Warsaw. What might she be thinking?

I’m not complaining. I love that job! I spend time improving my language skills. (By the way, for anyone interested in learning French, I recommend the lessons by Paul Noble. They’re very good!). Extra bonus, it helps when I travel the world and meet new people. So it’s a good problem to have. And one that I hope I have succeeded in overcoming.

But you tell me. If you’ve read any of my books, I’d love to hear your thoughts on my foreign characters and how well I’ve captured their differences.

Learn more about Jane Gorman and the Adam Kaminski mystery series at janegorman.com.

Holiday Reads or Not? by Paty Jager

paty shadow (1)I’m not one of those people who has to buy every romance or mystery book that deals with a holiday. In fact, over the 50+ years that I’ve been a reader,  I’ve had one Nora Roberts set of romance books that were Christmas books that I read every year in December, but I didn’t read any other Christmas books. Then a friend wrote a Thanksgiving novella. I pull that out and read it in November. But that’s about it for reading holiday themed books.

And yet, I seem to write a lot of holiday themed books. In my romance books I’ve written three Christmas Stories, a 4th of July, New Year’s, Halloween, and Valentine story.

In my mysteries, I’ve now written a Christmas and a Halloween story. Last November I put out Yuletide Slaying with Sheba the pony-sized mutt as the character who discovered the dead body.

And this month, going with the theme of an animal finding the body in the holiday stories, Lewis, Crazy Lil’s orange cat, finds the body in Haunting Corpse, book 9 of my Shandra Higheagle Mystery series.

I found while planning this book, I didn’t really think about the holiday. My mind was focused on the murder and who could have done it. The Halloween party was merely used as a means to gather information for Shandra and Ryan and the reader. But I had fun writing the party, the costumes, and the conversations.

Do you find as a reader that you like to read between the lines of the conversation and character’s actions, to try and discover the murderer? Or do you just let yourself go with the flow of the story and be surprised at the end?  Writer’s do you try to make your characters’ conversations relevant to giving clues or do you just write what comes to mind and drop a hint here or there?

Here is the blurb and cover of my newest Shandra Higheagle Mystery.

Haunting Corpse 5x8Desertion…Wrath…Murder

A runaway bride, murder, and arson has Shandra Higheagle sleuthing again. Sorting through the debris of her best friend’s childhood, Shandra believes she must solve the murder before her friend becomes the next victim.

Stumbling upon a dead body, Detective Ryan Greer is determined to bring the killer to justice before Shandra becomes too entangled in her friend’s dysfunctional past. He hopes he’s not too late. Her deceased grandmother has already visited her dreams, putting Shandra in the middle of his investigation and danger.

Universal Link – https://www.books2read.com/u/3J0ZWX

 

higheagle-book-banner

 

I Love Writing Mysteries Except… by Paty Jager

I’ve been working on the next Shandra Higheagle book. It will be book #9 and it is set around Halloween.  On top of it being book #9 and a bit of a Halloween setting, it will have an orange cat on the cover.  I love when I have fun ideas come to me. I decided since Sheba the dog found the body in Yuletide Slaying and was on the cover, the October release, Haunting Corpse, should have the cat, Lewis, find the body and be on the cover. I wonder if I can come up with Shandra’s horse Apple finding a body for a future book?   LOL

Besides having fun coming up with murders, figuring out why the person was killed and how, and who the killer is, I enjoy coming up with the premise and the titles just as much.  I would have to say the only thing I don’t like about writing murder mystery books is the fact most of the big mystery contests and conferences don’t feel a self-pub or Indie book/author has anything of value to give on a panel or their books aren’t good enough to be in contests. Otherwise, I love it all! And I wish I had stayed with mysteries when I first started writing all those years ago.

I’m looking forward to attending Left Coast Crime Reader/ Author event March 22-25, 2018 in Reno, Nevada. It’s fun talking with other authors and meeting new readers. If I’m lucky I’ll get on a panel but because I’m an Indie Author and can only be a moderator or if there is a panel with not enough “traditionally” published authors to fill it and I meet the criteria, I might get on a panel.

Romance Writers of America have embraced the self-published author but the mystery genre is still a bit behind the times.

That is the one thing I don’t like about writing mystery.

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

 

Modus Operandi by Paty Jager

canstock keyhole knife graphicModus Operandi: Noun – is someone’s habits of working, particularly in the context of business or criminal investigations, but also more generally. It is a Latin phrase, approximately translated as method or mode of operation.

This is where I’m at in the stage of writing my next Shandra Higheagle mystery. I have the victim, but I’m figuring out why and who would want the victim dead.  And so I turned to one of the books that helps me with my mysteries. Modus Operandi: a writers guide to how criminals work by Mauro V. Corvasce and Joseph R. Paglino.

Here is what I’m looking at: The chapter on homicide and the reasons a person might kill.

Passion Killing – This takes place usually without much forethought or planning. it could be an argument gets out of control and one of the two people concerned gets caught up in rage and uses whatever weapon is close at hand.  These are usually domestic assault, homicide-suicide, or a disgruntled employee.

Premeditated Domestic Killing  – This could be one spouse killing another for insurance money or other financial gain.  It is also known as profit murder.  Or because of threats of divorce or personal disclosures. They usually act like the grieving spouse  even though they have the murder planned out and prearranged scenarios to cover up their involvement.

The cover-up murder – In the perpetrator’s mind, they may feel justified in killing people to cover up other acts of crime and violence.

Sex Offenders – Some sex offenders will kill at the conclusion of the sexual assault or even to obtain their sexual gratification.

There are also serial killers, contract killing, and ritualistic cults. These last three reasons won’t work for the story I’m building.  The sex offender won’t work either.

In my mind the murder has to be one of passion. Because the murder is happening at a small event- a bridal shower. The victim is a friend of the bride-to-be. Someone she grew up with. So the scenario for when and where the murder happens is at a remote place with all women. Which would lead one to believe that the killer should be one of the women… but I want to put a twist on the story.  It will be a crime of passion, but maybe, just maybe, there is someone lurking in the woods….

This is the best part of writing a blog post. It lets me air out my thoughts and have the real story flood in!

Thanks for helping me!

SH Mug Art

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

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)

 

Shiny new release! by Paty Jager

paty shadow (1)This is late! I wrote it and thought I’d scheduled the post to go live yesterday, but no, it was still in my folder. So, after a day delay, here is my post!

The 8th book of my Shandra Higheagle Mystery series is now available in ebook and print. This time around Shandra is not only trying to discover who killed the doctor’s elderly aunt, but she’s also trying to protect her friend who could be engaged to a killer.

This book was fun to write, in that, I had my usual list of suspects charted out and was leaning toward one person, then about a third of the way, I started leaning another way, and at the end, I typed a scene that came out of nowhere and “Bam!” who dunnit popped into my mind so clear, it made me wonder if I was grasping at straws. So, I private messaged my niece on Facebook. She is making a series bible for me and knows the secondary characters pretty well in my series. We discussed my pros and cons for the revealing of the killer. After I finished talking to her, it was clear I had the right person.

The fun part; after my niece read the book, she commented, “Even though I knew who you’d picked as the killer, I was having my doubts throughout the book thinking you changed your mind.”

That means I did my job, throwing in enough subtle clues and red herrings that even someone who knew the truth was wondering.

That my friend’s is why I write mysteries, I love the dance of putting out a story that keeps the reader entertained and guessing!

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?

Amazon / Nook / Apple / Kobo / Print

 

Here are the places you can connect with me:

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

SH Mug Art (2)