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.

REFLECTIONS OF MY 2020 WRITING LIFE

As you may have already guessed, this past year was nothing like I expected—and no surprise to any of you because your lives weren’t anything like you expected either. For this post, I’m going to stick to what happened or didn’t happen as per my writing life.

Before I’d made up my mind whether or not to attend the two big mystery cons, Left Coast Crime and Bouchercon, both to be held nearby, the virus struck and they were both cancelled.

I’d signed up for a local writer’s conference in March, and it wasn’t long before it was canceled too, as well as the wonderful Central Coast Sisters in Crime conference in April.

My favorite conference of all, the Public Safety Writers Association’s, held in July in Vegas. was axed too. Two big book fairs in October disappeared from the calendar.  In November, I was supposed to be the speaker for the Nightwriters in San Luis Obispo—but of course, that was cancelled too. 

The only in-person event that survived was a two-day holiday boutique held in the Porterville Art Gallery, and yes, I had a booth. People wore masks and kept their distance. I sold books and others sold crafts. No one got sick.

My latest book in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series came out, End of the Trail, and I really thought it would be the last in the series. However, I’ve changed my mind, because when I made a trip to visit my eldest daughter, I got a great idea for another  mystery in the series.

I also finished Not As We Knew It in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series. I did the forbidden and included the virus because I felt I had to—the series is in real time and to be honest, I had fun writing it.

This is where a problem came along. I’ve always had parties on the occasion of a new book coming out, held in various locations. Of course, this year it couldn’t happen. This meant all my promotion efforts had to be online, and online they were.  I did a free e-book promotion for one of my favorites in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series. It did a fairly good job enticing people to buy some of the other books in the series.

With End of the Trail it was mainly Facebook and Blog Posts. Certainly this was not nearly as profitable as doing in-person events.

What I’ve missed most is my writers’ critique group, being with my writing friends, and sharing out writing.

Lifting my cup of Chai latte, “Here’s to a better 2021 for all of us.”

Marilyn who also writes as F. M. Meredith

Push the Limits by Paty Jager

I have written two mystery series with Native American characters, while I am not Native American. I’ve read books by Native American authors, have a friend who lives on the Colville Reservation with her Native American husband, and I have lived in an area that has so much Native American history I feel it seeps into you.

But I am facing my biggest challenge as a writer, now, when it is more politically correct to be of the same heritage as the characters you write.

I started slowly, with my heroine, Shandra Higheagle being only half Native American so I could have her raised without that influence and have her discover it as I did writing her story.

Paiute Dancer photo by me

But I felt the area where I grew up, needed more exposure about the people who lived and were stewards of the land before if was favored as lush feed for cattle. And that was how my character, Gabriel Hawke, came to be. He is of Nez Perce and Cayuse heritage. He is working as a State Trooper with the Fish and Wildlife Division in Wallowa County, the land where his ancestors summered and winter. While he hasn’t lived on the reservation since graduating high school, I feel I can pull off his loyalty to his ancestors and still have him respect his culture but not be fully immersed in it.

Now, as I am writing the last Shandra book and moving onto a new character, I have to tame the lump in my gut and start contacting people on the Umatilla Reservation. My next character will be living and working on the reservation. I will need first hand knowledge to make this character ring true and to make her not only show the life of someone trying to end the cycle of prejudice and move on, but also someone who values her people’s culture.

That my writer and reader friends is what I will be trying to achieve the next few months. Connecting with people who are willing to allow me into their world and to show a life that I am not a part of but believe in.

Wish me luck! And let me know if you have anyone on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation who would be willing to help me. I’m sending out feelers this week.

The Highlights of June by Marilyn Meredith

As far as my writing life is concerned, the month of June has been most exciting.

Because I’m still promoting my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, Seldom Traveled, I’ve been a guest on several blogs—which of course means promoting those blogs.

My first book signing was a success mainly because I picked a popular chocolate shop in a nearby city. (We don’t have any bookstores nearby). When I first got there, a local video reporter stopped by to interview me and later in the day a reporter from the newspaper stopped by. Besides readers, a group of my family members also stopped by.

Next up came a book signing at the Tehachapi Museum, located in the town where Seldom Traveled is set. Tehachapi is about a 2 ½ hour drive from my home. I was thrilled they invited me to come.

And I have a final signing at the end of this month set at a local coffee shop in the community where I live.

As part of my ongoing promotion, I offered the first book in the series, Deadly Omen, free on Kindle for five days. Over 1,600 copies were downloaded which I feel was quite successful. Of course now the hope is that after reading Deadly Omen other books in the series will be ordered. This seems to be happening, slowly, but it is happening.

While all this is going on, I’ve been working on the latest mystery in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, as yet unnamed.

Also, I belong to a small writers group that meets once a month. I’m not always able to attend, but this month’s meeting was absolutely delightful. We all shared what motivates us to keep on writing and where we do our writing. Everyone had such different ways of doing things.

However, my life is not all about writing. I have a big family and I enjoy spending with them. I think it’s important that writers take time off from all the business of writing and promotion to enjoy life. The great-grands that share out home and their parents, keep me busy and entertained.

To the other writers out there, what is your favorite get-away from writing?

Marilyn

SUCCESSES AND PROBLEMS by Marilyn Meredith

Lately, that’s been my writing life, good stuff and not so good.

My long-time publisher for my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series has closed its doors. I asked for and received my rights back for the series and the covers. Because the cover had been designed for the latest book and new designs done for some of the older books, I was pleased.

So what to do next? I decided the best route to take with the series was self-publishing, though I didn’t really feel up to the task. One of my friends, an expert at self-publishing, is taking on this huge job. I say huge because there are 17 books in this series.

The latest book, Spirit Wind, is now published and available in print and on Kindle.

The first batch of the printed books didn’t have the appropriate headers—so I’ve used most of them as review copies—and sold some at a big discount.

A few of the other books in the series have been done, but the old publisher’s copies are still the ones upfront and available. So far, we’ve been unsuccessful at getting them taken down or at least the latest ones the first to show up.

I’d like to do a .99 cent deal for one of the series, but that will have to wait until some of the problems are fixed.

How am I feeling about all this? I’m happy the latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery is now available. Though a bit frustrated about some of the other problems, I’m not going to lose sleep over them. One thing I’ve learned over the years, the author’s path is never smooth. I’ve had crooked publishers, and publishers who were friends die. This happened with the first publisher of this series.

I’m going to book fairs (I have plenty of books to sell) and giving talks to writers groups and others. The promotion goes on. And I’m working on a book in my other series.

One thing I can assure you, I’m never bored. I can’t even imagine what that would be like.

The official blurb for Spirit Wind: A call from a ghost hunter changes Deputy Tempe Crabtree’s vacation plans. Instead of going to the coast, she and her husband are headed to Tehachapi to  investigate a haunted house and are confronted by voices on the wind, a murder, and someone out to get them.

Marilyn