Research is Fun

I have to say my favorite thing about writing is the research. I’ve always been a nerd and like to learn new things. Not so much about math and science, but the world. However, there are times when I need to do a little science to learn what I want to know.

In this case, it is for book #9 in the Gabriel Hawke Novels. I’m still working on a title for it. I thought I had it and remembered I’d already used fox. It needs to be an animal that is out in the winter. One that lives in the mountains and is cunning or shy. If you have any thoughts, toss in the comments. 😉

The research I’m doing now has to do with survival in the mountains in a blizzard and my character is tracking someone who is wounded. Right now I have blood I saved from meat before I cooked it that I dripped in the snow. I’ve been watching and recording what it looks like each day so Hawke will be able to surmise how far ahead of him the person is that he is tracking.

I could barely see the red of the blood under the 1/2 inch of snow that had fallen.
This shows the blood drops after I’d swept away the 1/2 inch coating of snow on top.

I ordered books on hiking in avalanche country, and winter survival. I’ll be reading those to help me get a feel for what my characters will be dealing with. I have the basic premise of the story thought out but will soon begin writing the opening scene and jotting down events that will happen.

This book will include one or more of Hawke’s Native American ancestors who will help he and Dani Singer stay alive as they battle the elements and the person who doesn’t want to be found.

Have you ever had any experiences in the snow that you think would help my story? I’d love to hear about them.

A Joke Turns into a Book

The one question writers get the most is: “How do you come up with your ideas?” My latest release has a funny story behind how I came up with the plot for Churlish Badger.

When my husband and I moved to SE Oregon 8 years ago, he decided we needed a backhoe. Before long I knew how to run it and helped out with putting poles in the ground for both the shop and the hay barn. Because rattlesnakes are prevalent here, he also gave me a pistol to carry when I walk to use if a rattlesnake appears aggressive. He taught me how to use the pistol and I’ve become a pretty good shot.

The first time he was telling a friend about teaching me to use the backhoe and the pistol, the friend, said, “If you come up missing I’ll know what happened.” Which started my husband telling everyone if he goes missing, it’s because he taught me to shoot and run the backhoe.

This joke has been mentioned off and on over the last 8 years. And finally, I decided to use it for a plot in a book. Though the murdered victim doesn’t get shot. It was fun to use a family joke as the basis for Churlish Badger.

An abandoned vehicle…

A missing man…

Oregon State Trooper Gabriel Hawke discovers an abandoned vehicle at a trailhead while checking hunters.

The owner of the vehicle never arrived at his destination. As Hawke follows leads, he learns the man was in the process of selling his farm over the objections of his wife who said he would only sell over her dead body.

Continuing to dig for clues, Hawke turns up two bodies buried on the farm. Who killed the two and why keeps Hawke circling for answers, backing the killer into a corner.

Buy link:

This will be available in print soon.

Back in the Groove

At least I hope so! I’m trying to get back on top of my writing and keeping my with my blog, and everything else writing related.

Covid didn’t take away my time or creativity, it is having a teenager in the house again and attending all the activities that go with a teenager in sports and her last year of school. When I offered to take in our oldest granddaughter a year ago, after 20 years of no kids in the house, I had forgotten how much time and energy they require.

As I said, this is her senior year, and hopefully, after a year of getting back in the swing of things, I can get my writing back on track.

After taking an online workshop on book covers, I worked with my cover designer to rework the Spotted Pony Casino Mystery books. I went from this:

To this:

Trying to add more suspense/mystery, intrigue to the covers. And I feel keeping them clean and simple also helps the reader let their own imagination work more.

Besides we working the covers, I’ve been doing the final read through of Churlish Badger. Book 8 in the Gabriel Hawke Mystery series. This book will be available in ebook on December 1st. I’m excited for the ideas I have for the two books following this one. They will get Hawke back out in the wilderness tracking. One will be set in the Wallowa Mountains in a snow storm and the other will be set in the Montana Wilderness.

I have started gathering information on tracking in the snow and what pitfalls he’ll have to over come while not only tracking a person they believe is a killer but also keeping his significant other safe. I’m feeling the suspense of it already and haven’t even begun writing it!

Before I can write it, I have to finish up House Edge, which has an incident in it that will be the murder mystery in Double Down. Again, I am excited to begin writing that one, but it won’t happen until after I write Hawke’s book 9.

This is what keeps me writing and enjoying the whole process. I get excited about the plot or concept of a book and that keeps me pushing through each one to get on to writing the next one. I will continue to write until I no longer am excited about writing the next book.

Freezeout Trip

The latest Gabriel Hawke book I’m writing starts at Freezeout Trailhead in the Hells Canyon Wilderness on the Oregon side of the Snake River. An abandoned vehicle is found there by my character State Trooper Gabriel Hawke.

one side of the Imnaha store

While most of this series is set in Wallowa County where I grew up, I didn’t travel around the county as much as my brothers did. I tended to stay home and read, while they were out fishing, hunting, hiking, skiing, and other out door activities.

When I start a book, I look at the maps of the area, and use google earth to discover how or where I want the murder to happen. Then I use the maps, google earth, and hiking books to help me get a feel for the terrain. But it never fails, I always need to make a trip to the area to see it for myself.

That’s what my husband and I did a few weeks ago. We drove to Imnaha. It had been a long time since I’d been to the store and area. We went inside, visited a bit with the owner and I took a couple photos. Then we took the upper Imnaha road to Freezeout Trailhead.

Imnaha River

I was so good we made the trip. The area at the trailhead didn’t look a think like what I’d envisioned from the photos and google earth. It wasn’t as flat nor as large as I’d thought. When I returned home, I had to change up some scenes to accommodate the location and size.

loading ramp at the trailhead

Traveling up the road, alongside the river, we saw some nice farms and wildlife. Some of the farm ground would have been thrilling to try and farm back in the day they used horses. I would have been a bit leery of using modern equipment on some of the side hill fields.

Doe and fawns cooling their feet in the river.

We stopped at a Hells Canyon viewpoint, but it was so smoky from fires all over the Pacific Northwest that we didn’t see much.

Hells Canyon overlook

We could see how families would have lived off the land and enjoyed the solitary life at the bottom of the canyon along the Imnaha River. Since we were headed back to SE Oregon, we continued on up the river and on over to Halfway, Oregon. It had been years since we’d been to this town. Neither one of us remembered it being as populated. We remembered only a couple of buildings. Unless we had mistook another small town for Halfway. We’re still puzzling that. We are excited to go back there again and check it out more.

From Halfway we headed to Baker City and then on home. It was an 850+ mile round trip that weekend, but it was worth it for me to see the area I was writing about.

I love research trips!

Half of a Prophesy

I had an epiphany this week as I stood in the shop petting our male cat, Cautious.

Over forty years ago, in high school our English teacher asked us to write about what we would be doing in, I think, ten years.

I wrote about my barn renovated into a house that I lived in on the coast. I was a writer and I had a tiger for a pet. Tigers have always been one of my favorite animals. The stripes, regal heads, intelligent eyes… They have just been a favorite, right up there with horses and dogs.

As I stood there, petting Cautious I noticed he had striping like a tiger, intelligent eyes, and a tail that liked to sway back and forth.

Cautious

And that’s when I remembered the English assignment and thought, “I am living half of my prophesy. I am a writer- 50 books published. I have a cat that looks like a tiger. And that’s where it ends. I live in a house that my husband and I built and we are a six hour drive from the Oregon Coast.

The interesting part about that assignment written so long ago, at the time, I hadn’t a clue what I wanted to do as an adult. I grew up in a small community before the internet and more than a few channels on the TV. There were few careers that I thought would be even close to what I would like to do. I had wanted to be an artist, but my dad told me I’d never make a living at it. That I needed to go into the medical profession.

If you know me, you know I am not a good fit for the medical profession. I don’t deal well with wimpy, whiny people. But I wanted out of the community where we live and my dad was willing to pay for me to go to college. I signed up to be an x-ray technician. Long story short, it didn’t work out and I ended up moving in with a friend from school and worked many odd jobs until my marriage.

As a young mother, I read voraciously. As I had all through school. I was always reading a book or two. 😉 When the kids started school, I took a writing and art classes at the community college. It was through those classes I began to think I could be a writer. That and the English class I had in college when I went off course of my objective. Anyway, I had an inkling to try writing. I’m not sure how I knew back in high school that was what I would end up doing, but I’m glad half of what I’d dreamed of back then has come true.

I’m pleased with my newest release, Stolen Butterfly, book 7 in the Gabriel Hawke Novels. Here is the info and cover for that.

The proceeds from the sale of this book will go to the non-profit Enough Iz Enough. This is a community outreach organization that advocates for MMIW on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation.  

Stolen Butterfly

Gabriel Hawke Novel #7

Missing or Murdered

When the local authorities tell State Trooper Gabriel Hawke’s mother to wait 72 hours before reporting a missing Umatilla woman, she calls her son and rallies members of the community to search.

Hawke arrives at the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation and learns the single mother of a boy his mom watches would never leave her son. Angered over how the local officials respond to his investigating, Hawke teams up with a security guard at the Indian casino and an FBI agent. Following the leads, they discover the woman was targeted by a human trafficking ring at the Spotted Pony Casino.

Hawke, Dela Alvaro, and FBI Special Agent Quinn Pierce join forces to bring the woman home and close down the trafficking operation before someone else goes missing.

Universal Book Lnk:https://books2read.com/u/baZEPq

What a Month!

Every May I talk about the same thing, but you know what? It’s because May is a wonderful month for me!

Forty-two years ago, I married my always entertaining husband in May. Which makes this an anniversary month.

It is also the anniversary month of my first published book. In 2006 Marshal in Petticoats was published by Wild Rose Press.

And now 15 years later, it is my anniversary month of publishing my 50th book! Stolen Butterfly, book 7 in the Gabriel Hawke Novels series is book number 50. I’m please to say that it is available for pre-order and is publishing on May 18th. Here is the information about the book and pre-order/buy link.

Stolen Butterfly

Gabriel Hawke Novel #7

Missing or Murdered

When the local authorities tell State Trooper Gabriel Hawke’s mother to wait 72 hours before reporting a missing Umatilla woman, she calls her son and rallies members of the community to search.

Hawke arrives at the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation and learns the single mother of a boy his mom watches would never leave her son. Angered over how the local officials respond to his investigating, Hawke teams up with a security guard at the Indian casino and an FBI agent. Following the leads, they discover the woman was targeted by a human trafficking ring at the Spotted Pony Casino.

Hawke, Dela Alvaro, and FBI Special Agent Quinn Pierce join forces to bring the woman home and close down the trafficking operation before someone else goes missing.

https://books2read.com/u/baZEPq

The proceeds from the sale of this book will go to the non-profit Enough Iz Enough. This is a community outreach organization that advocates for MMIW on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation.  

Because of my 50 books, I am hosting a 50 Book Bash event at Facebook all month. You can come join the fun and maybe win one of the daily prizes. Here is the link to attend. https://www.facebook.com/events/887343232080078

I love May not only for it being an anniversary month but also because it is when all the wildflowers start popping up. I enjoy my hikes on the hill to capture their beauty. Here are a few photos.

Desert paintbrush
Bluebells

Showy Larkspur

May is Coming!!

And you might ask why am I excited about May. Well… Let me tell you!

  1. it is the anniversary month for my marriage to my always entertaining husband and of my first published book.
  2. This May marks the 15th year I’ve been published and my 50th published book!

That’s right, I have 50 published novel length books. If you added up the novellas and short stories I’ve published it’s more. I’m just talking about 50-90k word books- novel length. To celebrate this achievement, I’m hosting a month-long Facebook event.

You can join the fun here: https://www.facebook.com/events/887343232080078 You can hop over there now and see some of the prizes and click you are “going” to be sure to see all of my posts. At the event we’ll talk about books, my life, and anything writing related you want to know. Everyone who comments will have a chance at the prizes I’m giving away.

Also in May, I’ll be back at the Sumpter Flea Market in beautiful quaint Sumpter, Oregon. I’ll get to hang out with my author friend Mary Vine and sell books.

May will also be the release of my 7th Gabriel Hawke Novel, Stolen Butterfly. The book deals with missing and murdered Indigenous women and proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the cause.

Stolen Butterfly

Gabriel Hawke Novel #7

When the local authorities tell State Trooper Gabriel Hawke’s mother to wait 72 hours before reporting a missing Umatilla woman, she calls her son and rallies members of the community to search.

Hawke arrives at the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation and learns the single mother of a boy his mom watches would never leave her son. Angered over how the local officials respond to his investigating, Hawke teams up with a security guard at the Indian casino and an FBI agent. Following the leads, they discover the woman was targeted by a human trafficking ring at the Spotted Pony Casino.

Hawke, Dela Alvaro, and FBI Special Agent Quinn Pierce join forces to bring the woman home and close down the trafficking operation before someone else goes missing.

I will be engaging in many book related activities in May. What will you be up to?

Luck or Fate

I don’t know if it’s luck or fate.

Fate: the principle or determining cause or will by which things in general are believed to come to be as they are or events to happen as they do: Destiny

Luck: a force that brings good fortune or adversity- the events or circumstance that operate for or against an individual.

Over the weekend I was able to connect with a young woman who is part of the MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women) movement. Through a series of emails to first authors I knew in the areas where my next Hawke book will be set, and then people who work in the domestic violence program at the reservation I was able to connect with this woman.

She filled me in on things I didn’t know about the movement. Yes, it is a movement and not an organization.

Movement: a series of organized activities working toward an objective; an organized effort to promote or attain an end.

Organization: an administrative and functional structure

These are family members of missing and murdered Indigenous people across the United States and in Canada. This has become an epidemic.

One of the things I didn’t know was how hard it is for families on Reservations to get law enforcement involved in looking for a missing woman or as they also started to use the acronym MMIP- Missing and Murdered Indigenous Person. There are also children and people of the LGBQT communities who disappear or are murdered.

My conversation with her was to help me get started on my next Gabriel Hawke book. In this book he is called to the reservation by his mother to help find the mother of a child she watches. When Hawke’s mother can’t get the tribal law enforcement or the Pendleton City Police to look for the woman, she calls her son who works for the Oregon State Police who has a dogged determination to always solve things that perplex him.

My contact is willing to help me in every way I need. She even has contacts on the tribal police and assured me she is as excited about my writing about this movement and why it’s needed in my book as I was connecting with someone who is so open and willing to help me make my book the best it can be with real facts.

I’m learning so much by writing this book and I hope I open the eyes of my readers while also entertaining them.

2021 is Here!

One of my goals this year is to try and remember to post here more often. I put it down in my date book, but then something else needs my attention and I tend to put this off and deal with everything else. I’m sorry!

With 2021 I am finishing up a murder mystery series. I hope my readers like the way I ease out of the Shandra Higheagle mysteries. I felt like it was time to do a graceful exit with the option to pick it up in the future. 😉

I’m starting a new murder mystery series which is requiring a LOT of research. I want to make sure the setting rings true and the stories are riveting. If you, or someone you know, works for an Indian Gaming Casino, I would love to visit with you. You can email me at patyjag(at)gmail(dot)com.

Hawke is set to get two new books this year. The one I’m starting on next week will also require a lot of research. I’ve been reaching out to people for help. Hopefully, a few will come through.

Right now you can get the first book of my Isabella Mumphrey trilogy, Secrets of a Mayan Moon for $0.99 through a bookfunnel event I’m participating in: Strong Women Leads. https://books.bookfunnel.com/strong_female_lead/rbrgaya5oy

My two horses and George, the donkey, had their hooves trimmed yesterday. George and my mare needed it done. Jan, the gelding, just needed evened out. If the ground wasn’t frozen with some icy spots, I could ride, but at my age, I prefer to ride in adverse conditions. 😉 We have had very little snow so far, but it is only January. There are still two months in which we could get snow. That’s the good and the bad of living in the high dessert. We do get snow, usually in small amounts that melt quickly. Or we get a foot and it stays really cold. And you never know when you’ll have either.

George and the horses

I hope you have a wonderful year and keep coming back here to see what I’m up to. I’m hoping things ease up and I can attend the three conferences that were cancelled last year. We’ll see!

It’s November!

My! Where has the time gone? I saw my last post was about October… I’m slacking! In defense, I’ve been trying to get several large projects finished.

One is the latest Gabriel Hawke book which is with a critique partner and a beta reader. Waiting for it to come back, I’ve been updating the Isabella Mumphrey books to make the insides as shining and spectacular as the new covers!

I’m having a “Where in the world is Isabella Mumphrey?” Facebook party on November 14th. Come on over to the party and join in the fun. I’ll be giving clues to find my character Isabella Mumphrey, famed anthropologist and Indiana Jones fan who uses a survival tin like MacGyver.

At the party I’ll be revealing new covers, picking winners for prizes throughout the two hours, answering your questions and will give out to larger prizes to two people who discover where Isabella is. To join the party just go here and say you’re going to attend! https://www.facebook.com/events/471554667120961

I’ve also been busy working out the kinks in my new mystery series that will be coming in 2021, while also starting the next Shandra book and gathering information for the next Hawke book. Yes, I have been occupied!

Took this photo while scouting the area where the latest Gabriel Hawke murder happens.

And I’ve been working on the binding on one quilt and piecing together another one and coming up with handmade gifts for the grandkids for Christmas. Life is never boring for me!

This is the quilt I’m putting the binding on.

Come hang out at my party on the 14th! I’d love to visit with you!

https://www.facebook.com/events/471554667120961