Voice and Word Choice by Paty Jager

Voice is the author’s style, the quality that makes his or her writing unique, and which conveys the author’s attitude, personality, and character; or. Voice is the characteristic speech and thought patterns of the narrator of a work of fiction.”

This definition I pulled off the internet helps define Voice, but I’m going to dig a little deeper.

Each genre, historical or contemporary, western or mystery, I have to think about the “voice” I need to use for each one. I know the example of voice says it conveys the author’s attitude, personality, and character- true, but that has to also fit the time period and the place- historical or contemporary western. Jeans in a historical are called denims or overalls – in a contemporary they could be call Jeans, Wranglers or Levis.

This also goes along with word choice. The writer needs to know if a word was used in 1880 or if it didn’t become popular until the 1900s. When I type a word when writing an historical, and it feels modern, I use online etymology, a website where you can type in a word and it tells you when it was first used and the meaning of the word at that time and later.

Same goes with my mystery books. I use terms that are contemporary but try to include a bit of a western feel or voice to the books. I do this because they are set in rural areas and because my main characters are Native American, which also leads me to think about phraseology when writing from their points of view.

Paiute Fancy Dancer

Especially, my Gabriel Hawke character. He grew up surrounded by his culture, and therefore, has a deeper connection to the outdoors and the earth in general. While writing in his POV, I try to make sure his inner dialog as well as what he says to other characters captures that essence. 

Shandra Higheagle, while having the love of the outdoors and making pottery from clay she digs on the mountain where she lives, she grew up in a white world and is only now learning how deep her roots go in the earth. And because of this, she is easier for me to write because I can include my wonder of the Nez Perce and their culture to be reflected in her as she is coming to know more about her family.

When I sit down to write a book, depending on the genre, I have to mentally put myself in that time and place to make sure I give the best accounting of the events that are happening and told through my characters’ eyes and emotions. If you read a book from each of the genres I write, you will see there is a bit of difference in voice because I am trying to show the story through their eyes and not mine. But some of my emotions- such as my need to show injustice – will come through in every main character.

Word choice as I commented on earlier, has to do with making sure the word is true to the time and the occupation of a character or knowing what I am talking about. I don’t know how many western romance books- contemporary and historical – I stopped reading because a character grabbed a fetlock to swing up onto a horse’s back, or they grabbed the cantle as the horse started galloping. Or what really had me tossing a book…They put the halter on the horse and slid the bridle into its mouth. The writer needs to know what they are writing about. If they don’t know, they need to look it up. I spend a third of my writing time looking things up. Even if I think I know it, I still look it up to be sure. And while I’m looking it up, I might find a better word that makes the scene sound even more convincing.  

Words are what make up a book and they need to be thought about carefully. Just as carefully as the characters that are fabricated to show the story.

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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

 

 

Filling the Stockings by Paty Jager

2017 headshot newI don’t know about other mystery writers, but Christmas for me is like plotting a great caper.

Nothing thrills me more than finding the perfect gift for a family member of friend. Then there comes the wrapping. It had to be as fabulous as the gift I purchased.  I want the person receiving the gift to know by how it’s wrapped with love and excitement that this is something they are going to like.

And don’t get me started on finding all the little items that will fit in each family member’s stocking… I think about their favorite colors, animals, hobbies, and all the things I know about them and slowly accumulate my bag of goodies.  Everyone gets the usual things like some chocolate and candy canes. I mean really, that’s a given in the stocking.  Males get slightly different items than the females. As the holiday grows closer, I put each person’s stocking items in separate bags to make it easier to help Santa out while filling the stockings. 😉

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When I was young, I’d shake and weigh every package under the tree that had my name on it. I’d sit for hours pondering what could be in the box. Part of the rush was hoping for things, you know you wouldn’t get, but could dream about.

At one point in my life, I was a horrible snoop. I’d unwrap my packages and others I couldn’t figure out and then wrap them back up. My mom became wise to that and started using a code so we didn’t know who the packages belonged to!

The anticipation of Christmas and what could be in the presents is what helped develop my love of a mystery. That and receiving the whole Nancy Drew collection of books.

If you celebrated Christmas with presents were you a snoop or someone who waited patiently for the time to arrive to unwrap your gifts? If you don’t celebrate Christmas with presents, what is something in your life that you waited for with great anticipation?

Whatever you celebrate this month, I wish you all a wonderful celebration and happy healthy New Year!

 

My latest audio book, Yuletide Slaying, book 7 in the Shandra Higheagle Mystery series, is a perfect listen for this time of year.  You can find it at these audio book vendors or ask your local library to order a copy.

Yuletide Slaying

Yuletide Slaying AudioFamily, Revenge, Murder

When Shandra Higheagle’s dog brings her a dead body in a sleigh full of presents, her world is turned upside down. The man is a John Doe and within twenty-four hours another body is found.

Detective Ryan Greer receives a call that has them both looking over their shoulders. A vengeful brother of a gang member who died in a gang war is out for Ryan’s blood. Shandra’s dreams and Ryan’s fellow officers may not be enough to keep them alive to share Christmas.

Audio Links:

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/audiobook/yuletide-slaying-shandra-higheagle-mystery-book-7-unabridged/id1441592155?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Nook: https://www.nookaudiobooks.com/audiobook/251575/yuletide-slaying

Audiobooks.com: https://www.audiobooks.com/audiobook/yuletide-slaying/356808

Scribd: https://www.scribd.com/audiobook/389993251/Yuletide-Slaying

Playster: https://play.playster.com/audiobooks/1001800000000251575/yuletide-slaying-paty-jager

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Yuletide-Slaying-Shandra-Higheagle-Mystery/dp/B07JP1L8QD

Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/Yuletide-Slaying-Audiobook/B07JNKQNPC

Pulling in the Reader by Paty Jager

2017 headshot newFollowing the clues may not only stop the wedding… but separate Shandra and Ryan for life.

This is the tagline for my latest release. When I wrote it, I didn’t realize the impact it has on readers. Especially those who have followed my series and have begged me to get Ryan and Shandra married.  I’ve had emails and comments that they hope this doesn’t mean the two will come to an end.

I told my readers this book coming up would be the wedding. But oops! As a writer it is my privilege and job to make the characters and the readers suffer, just a little bit. Make them squirm in their chair as they read and worry that Ryan and Shandra may never be together. After all, Shandra does stick her nose in where she shouldn’t and brings  bad people to her door. And Ryan’s job is dangerous. But even more so when his fiancee is  get mixed up in a murder investigation.

So how mean am I? Do they or don’t they get married? I’m not telling. 😉

I finished the first book of the new Gabriel Hawke series. I love it, but wanted feedback from two beta readers- one who reads all kinds of mystery and suspense and one who is a male reader. The first reader, I wanted to know what genre she felt the book fit in and the male was to make sure, since this series is all in the male POV that I kept him macho.

The first reader liked it, felt it fit in with CJ Box, William Kent Krueger,  Craig Johnson.  But she said the beginning was flat. I took a hard look at the beginning and she was correct. I had tried to put information in the beginning that could be learned later in the book. It ups the reader’s intrigue to not tell them as much about the main character in the first paragraph. I was doing an informational dump at the worst time. When I want the reader to dive into the book, not be thinking,  “Okay, so he’s a game warden big whoop- What’s this story about and why should I be interest?”

20180317_103211Here is the sentence I had at first:

Oregon Fish and Wildlife State Trooper Gabriel Hawke glanced up through the pine and fir trees at the late August summer sky and didn’t like the sight of half a dozen shiny black ravens circling.

Here is the first line- much better than what I had before:

The threat of potential poachers wouldn’t spoil Hawke’s day.

This one has more punch and grabs the reader’s attention better. This book, Murder of Ravens will release Jan.  20, 2019

And here is my latest Shandra Higheagle Mystery release:

Dangerous Dance

Dangerous Dance 5x8.jpgBook eleven in the Shandra Higheagle Mystery Series

Jealousy… Drugs… Murder…

At the reservation to make final arrangements for her upcoming wedding, potter Shandra Higheagle gets caught up in the murder of a young woman about to turn her life around.

Having no jurisdiction on the reservation, Detective Ryan Greer pulls in favors from friends in the FBI to make sure there is no delay in their wedding.

However, the death occurs in a sacred place and could place the nuptials on hold. Following the clues may not only stop the wedding…

But separate Shandra and Ryan for life.

Universal Buy Link: https://www.books2read.com/u/mKKB7d

photo source: Paty Jager

Hiding the killer in my subconscious by Paty Jager

2017 headshot newEvery mystery book I’ve written, I start out with the firm belief I know who the killer is.

I start preparing for the book by deciding where the main character, Shandra Higheagle is, what she is doing, and how she will come to either discover a body, be in the vicinity of who does find the body, or know the accused murderer.

The next step is making up my suspect chart and writing down what I know and want others to know about each suspect.

With the suspect chart comes red herrings and other characters- friends, family of the suspects and the victim.

Once the chart is done, I evaluate and decide which one would be the least likely to have killed, yet have the best motive. And that’s the character who I start out hiding the information( red herrings and quick mentions of clues that are glossed over) and plan to have be the one who dunit in the end.

Cars on winding road trough the forest aerial viewEvery book so far, the killer has ended up being someone other than I started out to write about.  I’m not sure if its because I do so many twists and turns in who it could be that I confuse myself or that I realize the person I started out as the murderer is too logical, so I do yet another twist and there is my killer! When I go back through the book to put in clues, I always see that I’d added the necessary clues without thinking about it.

All along my subconscious knew who did it while my working brain was busy workingConcept of the human brain on my initial scenario. I love that this happens because it surprises not only me but the reader.  And it means that writing mystery is what I should be doing since my subconscious seems to know my murderous mind better than I do!

Do you like stories with lots of twists and turns or do you like to know who did it and work with the sleuths to prove it?

SH Mug Art

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!

 

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