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.

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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)

 

Walk the Walk by Paty Jager

paty shadow (1)The whole reason I picked an amateur sleuth was to avoid having to be too technical with cop speak and legalese.

I’m working on Book 8, Fatal Fall, in the Shandra Higheagle Mystery series. Shandra has the flu and her boyfriend, Weippe County Detective Ryan Greer, has had more time in this book than in previous ones. I didn’t think this would be a problem. Usually Shandra is sleuthing, and Ryan is backing her up with his credentials. This book, he’s doing the investigating, and I find myself having to look up cop jargon and legal words.

My poor son-in-law who is in law enforcement has had more emails than he probably likes from his mother-in-law lately. 😉 I’ve also googled, and I remembered seeing a couple of blot posts on the crimescene yahoo group about cop speak.

I had a suspect who had been arrested before. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to say on felonies or misdemeanors. I googled and found a wonderful dictionary of legal terms that helped me out.

Misdemeanor

A lesser crime punishable by a fine and/or county jail time for up to one year. Misdemeanors are distinguished from felonies which can be punished by a state prison term. They are tried in the lowest local court such as municipal, police or justice courts. Typical misdemeanors include: petty theft, disturbing the peace, simple assault and battery, drunk driving without injury to others, drunkenness in public, various traffic violations, public nuisances, and some crimes which can be charged either as a felony or misdemeanor depending on the circumstances and the discretion of the District Attorney. “High crimes and misdemeanors” referred to in the U. S. Constitution are felonies.

Felony

A serious crime, characterized under federal law and many state statutes as any offense punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year. Under the early Common Law, felonies were crimes involving moral turpitude, those which violated the moral standards of a community. Later, however, crimes that did not involve moral turpitude became included in the definition of a felony. Presently many state statutes list various classes of felonies with penalties commensurate with the gravity of the offense. Crimes classified as felonies include, among others, Treason, Arson, murder, rape, Robbery, Burglary, Manslaughter, and Kidnapping.

I needed to know about warrants- I asked my son-in-law and Wikipedia.

Search warrant is a court order that a magistrate, judge or Supreme Court official issues to authorize law enforcement officers to conduct a search of a person, location, or vehicle for evidence of a crime and to confiscate any evidence they find.  Typically, a search warrant is required for searches police conduct in the course of a criminal investigation.

Since I am in the cop’s point of view so much, I needed to use words that I wouldn’t use for Shandra. This is where I remembered seeing, and I had thought I’d bookmarked, blogs that Lee Lofland had posted on the Crimescene and Sisters in Crime yahoo loops. I posted to the crimescene loop, and he sent me the URLs to the blog posts. Here they are for your viewing and perhaps writing pleasure.

http://www.leelofland.com/wordpress/cop-speak-wtf-did-he-say/

http://www.leelofland.com/wordpress/?s=cop+slang

All of this information will help to make my character, Detective Ryan Greer, sound as if he and I know what we’re talking about.

Have you ever come across a book where the character said or did something that didn’t jive with what you knew of their profession?

Paty

SH Mug Art

 

Staying Small Town by Paty Jager

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As I was contemplating the next Shandra Higheagle Mystery, I thought I needed to take her out of Huckleberry and away from the reservation to not have critics saying there are too many murders in the ski resort or on the reservation.

Then there was a timely blog post at Mystery Readers.org about small town cops, which had me thinking about my small town amateur sleuth.

While we all know small towns have a lower rate of murders, the small town atmosphere is what makes placing a mystery there so enticing. My character, Shandra Higheagle knows many of the local people. Her conversations are much like that of Miss Marple in the Agatha Christie books. She doesn’t wander about in an apparent aimless way asking questions like Miss Marple, but she does use the knowledge of the people in Huckleberry or the Reservation to learn the information that helps her, along with her dreams, unravel the murders.

From the blog post on small town murders, it seemed readers are willing to put up with an unusual amount of people being knocked off in a small area if you give proper reasons for the murders and give them a good test to their detective skills.

After reading the post, I moved the next book back to Huckleberry and the crime and suspects came to me like a barrage of hungry dogs. (No offense, Sheba). Putting my story back in the town I knew, with people I knew, and using one of the scenarios I’d already set up in previous books, I couldn’t wait to get started on this book.

The only thing eluding me now is the title. All the other books in the series, I had the title before I started writing. But this one is still waiting to come to me. I’m thinking Fatal Fall, because the body is found at the bottom of the stairs, and the word fall could work into the premise of the story. But I could also use Fatal Tale, as the dead person is telling her memoirs to a ghost writer.  So who knows. It may end up something completely different. 😉

SH Mug Art

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Merry Mystery by Paty Jager

yuletide-slaying-5x8I hopped on the Amazon Kindle site and punched in Christmas Mysteries and several pages of free and $0.99 books popped up.  I was going to grab a few and put them up here, but hey, you may like  something different than me, so jump over to the Kindle Christmas Mysteries page and download a few for yourself. 😉

It appears from scanning the website that many mystery authors like to set mysteries around Christmas and even other holidays. It makes sense. Families are gathered. People who may only visit at this time of the year are back in town. This makes for past differences surfacing and the potential for a murder more likely.

And who wants to spoil Santa’s visit with a dead body in the chimney or in a snowdrift?  A mystery writer that’s who. 😉 In my mind I can make the most macabre scenario out of a mundane holiday happening.  A sprinkle of arsenic on a cookie made just for rich Uncle Marvin.  Or a bit of cyanide happens to spill into Grandma Velma’s hot toddy. Maybe the candy cane handed to cousin Zeb has been dipped in the sap of water hemlock.  Yes, I could come up with all kinds of ways to take out someone during the holidays.

Maybe a paper cut that happens to become infected and moves rapidly into gangrene and worse. Or a ski or sledding mishap? Oh yes, what evil lurks under this granny’s, gray hair the world may never know, but my readers will discover it as the Shandra Higheagle mystery series continues!

This will be my last post this year. Merry Christmas to all my fellow Ladies of Mystery and all our followers!  Beware the token treat from an estranged family member! 😉

higheagle-book-banner

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 25+ novels and over a dozen novellas and short stories of murder mystery, western romance, and action adventure. She has a RomCon Reader’s Choice Award for her Action Adventure and received the EPPIE Award for Best Contemporary Western Romance. 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 / Pinterest

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