Falling Behind-Pun Intended

Oregon Coast

With Fall and a frantic schedule, I’ve been neglecting this blog. I had a great trip to Kauai, Hawaii, came home and had several short trips to make. Now I’m at the Oregon Coast at a Writers Retreat with three author friends.

I sent off book 4 in the Gabriel Hawke Novel series, Chattering Blue Jay, to my critique partners. Now I wait for their suggestions and then it’s off to my editor. while I enjoyed writing the book and going back to Hells Canyon and the Snake River in this story, I was ready to finish it so I can start thinking about Hawke’s next adventure. I’m still on the fence over which book in my ideas file it will be.

Toxic Trigger-point book 13 in the Shandra Higheagle mystery series is available. This book uses my experience at a spa and my thought about a murder in such a place as the premise of the story.

Right now, at the coast I am pulling together the next Shandra book, Abstract Casualty, set in Kaua’i, Hawaii. While I was in Kaua’i, I did the leg work to figure out how to realistically get my character to the island. I was happy to learn about the Kaua’i Art Society Annual Juror Art Exhibit.

While figuring out the story, I’ve be reliving my time in Kaua’i.

Kalalau Beach

And here is the information about Toxic Trigger-point:

Adultery… Jealousy… Murder

Shandra Higheagle Greer is minding her own business when she walks into a room for a massage and it is already occupied—by a dead body.

Always the champion for someone she knows, when her favorite masseuse looks like the murderer, Shandra listens to her gut and dreams choreographed by her deceased grandmother.

Detective Ryan Greer can’t believe his wife has walked into another homicide. He’s learned no matter how he tries to keep her out of the investigation he can’t. But this time the consequences could be deadly for Shandra—she heard the murder happen.

https://books2read.com/u/4Ex9De

Hunkering Down to Write

I am slowly creeping back up to speed on the writing after the busy summer. I have the items gathered around me that I need to maneuver Hawke around the Hells Canyon area in Idaho. And as this story is progressing, the person(s) he’s following may just cross the river into Oregon.

The idea to have the murderer slip across the river and into the area where the woman Hawke is soft on, keeps knocking at my brain. I’m not ready to have him make any drastic changes in his lifestyle and I like keeping the readers guessing about the outcome of Hawke and Dani, but putting her in danger ups the need for Hawke to stop the person he’s tracking.

If you really want to know what goes on inside my head as I’m “stewing and brewing” a new project, leave a comment below saying you would like to know, and I’ll put some of my wandering thoughts up here on the next Shandra book as I start stewing and brewing it.

Right now I’m all in on Chattering Blue Jay the next Hawke book. I’m trying to find photos I took while jet boating the Snake to use for the cover. It has to be one that we can put a Blue Jay on and make it look natural. That could be a feat I hope my cover designer can tackle.

Up above I have a photo of some of the items I’m using to “map” out this book and Hawke’s trek through the Hells Canyon. I would be lost without good resources to “see” where my character is going and discovering obstacles in their way.

Snake River

I love Google Earth for seeing areas up close. It helps a lot to decide which direction the characters are going to head and what they will encounter. I brought a lodge that is along the river into one scene. I didn’t know it was there until I used Google Earth and spotted it. Then I looked up and they had a website. This provided me with photos to see the area better and decide how to proceed with this discovery.

That’s the best part about writing. Not always having a blueprint and going with the things I come up against and figuring out how they can be used in the story and how the characters will react to them.

Stereo Types and the American Indian by Paty Jager

On my quest to learn all I can to portray my American Indian characters as real and correct as I can, I attend any event that will help my learning.

This past week I attended “Savages/Chiefs/Warriors: the Language of Stereotypes” at the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute in Pendleton, Oregon.  The speakers were Dr. Phillip Cash Cash and Charles F. Sams III.

Dr. Cash Cash started the talk with a PowerPoint presentation that had a photo the Declaration of Independence and the words, “the merciless Indian Savages” circled in that very first American document. From the beginning, when all the American Indian wanted to do was protect their way of life, they were called names by those who didn’t understand them.

Included in the PowerPoint were photos of old westerns with most of the Indian parts being played by White actors. Then a slide with brand names that use or used unflattering Indian words or photos of Indian men in war bonnets, or an Indian maiden. He showed how the derogatory words had been used over the years without thinking about how it demoralized the First Nations People.

Another slide had four romance book covers with Savage in the book titles and a male Indian embracing a White woman.  Dr. Cash Cash said that not only was there stereotyping but a trope being used as well. Tropes were another way the American Indian has been “put down” over the years. Portrayals of drunken Indians, calling them Nomads when they are hunter gatherers and travel with the seasons.

His portion of the talk dealt mainly with how long stereotyping has been going on and how in the 70s & 80s when there was more of an awareness of treating everyone equal that the derisive words and advertising started to change.

Charles Sams III talk the second half of the program. He started off telling us how the Umatilla bands, specifically Cayuse came to this earth and how from the story, which he couldn’t tell in full story mode because stories can only be told in the winter, when there is snow on the mountain. But he told of the coming of the People. And how they came from the earth and how archeologists have discovered how long ago people lived on the earth by middens, the dumps or refuse that humans leave behind. He said he doesn’t believe that American Indians came from Asia. There has been no middens found along the path they have been presumed to have taken. As an Indian, he believes the stories of coming from the earth. As an educated person with a science background he knows there has to be an explanation. 😉

He said the biggest influence in getting the American Indian more respect was Richard Nixon pushing through The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975. It gave the tribes a chance to better their lives and the generations to come.  The American Indian believes they are a steward of the land. They don’t want to own land, but will to make sure that the animals and land flourish.

The believe in the constitution because it is under the constitution that all treaties were drawn up and signed. If the constitution goes away, they could lose the lands that were given them by the United States government. It is this reason that Charles grandmother made her seven boys join the military during World War II. They didn’t understand why their mother would send them all off to fight for a country that didn’t give them the same rights as others. She told them because if the U.S. lost, they would lose their treaties and the land the land they had now. He said all seven came home from the war and went on to fight for the rights of the American Indian.

During the discussion at the end it was said, that Indians laugh at themselves to cope with the frustration they feel every day.

Here is a list of stereotypes or wrong assumptions that were listed:

And here is the Youtube video that was shown at the end of the event:

I’ll have another post on what was said about hunting and gathering.

Jet Boating My Way to a Book by Paty Jager

It seems like ages ago, when it was only about a month ago that I and four friends took a jet boat ride down the Snake River. When my friends mentioned they were going, I invited myself along because I had planned to do the trip as some point this summer for research for the next Gabriel Hawke book.

photo from Pittsburgh Landing

The only drawback was the trip was three days before I left for Iceland. That is why you haven’t seen photos or heard about the trip. 😉

I had planned to visit my dad in his Senior Living Center that same week and make a round trip by spending the night at my younger brother’s house on his birthday. So tossing in one more day and jet boating worked out perfectly!

Except, the weather! Because it was a cloudy and not very warm day, the clear plastic side awnings, I guess you’d call them, were down to keep use from getting too wet.

We put in at Pittsburgh Landing on the Idaho side of the Snake River.

I wanted to take photos of the terrain. The best place to do that was either in front on in the back of the boat. I chose the back. I have quite a few blurry photos because of the speed we were going but the photos will allow me to remember what I saw.

We stopped at a ranch that is now a museum. The old fruit trees that had been planted years ago had fruit beginning to show. There were a few wildflowers, but we were lucky to not see any rattlesnakes. When I’d participated in our Senior Sneak before graduating from high school, our senior class rafted a different part of the Snake. There was a raft for the boys and one for the girls. Several stops along the way the boys would catch a rattlesnake and throw it on the girls’ raft. Not cool! But ever the tomboy, I’d pick it up and throw it back at them. Then it wasn’t so much fun. 🙂

On this particular trip, we enjoyed wonderful cinnamon rolls made by a woman who takes the trip every year on her birthday. I have never had such delicious, light cinnamon rolls before! From there we watched a fisherman catch and haul in a sturgeon. He was large!

fishermen with a sturgeon

We also saw some rafters trying to right a raft that had capsized. I was glad I was rafting this time!

We rode the rapids, one a class 5, and had a great time. We stopped at the Hells Canyon Dam for lunch that had been packed for us. It was delicious. Then we checked out the visitor center and climbed back on the boat for our trip down stream to the landing where we put in.

Hells Canyon Dam

To me it felt like the rapids were trickier going back down then gunning upstream through them. I enjoyed watching our guide who had been doing this for nineteen years. When we were in the regular water, he’d relax behind the helm, crossing his ankles. As we neared the rapids, he leaned forward, both hands on the levers. His feet would uncross, and he would eventually stand as he guided the boat through the rapids. When the rapids were behind us, he’d settle back down and cross his ankles.

I guess you’re probably wondering, will Hawke be on one of these boats? At this point, I say no. Only because while talking to the boat’s crew, I learned that there are always boats going up and down this section of the river. If it’s not tour boats, it’s fishermen. The river is open year round. Which made me decide most of the action will take place up on the peaks and rocky sides of the canyon walls. And that is why I wanted to take the trip. To see the terrain and learn what I could about activity on the river.

Vacations Turn into Books

 In January my husband and I took a trip to Reno, Nevada. I had the highest bid for a two-night stay at the Peppermill in a silent auction the year before.

I set it up, knowing we also had an amount we could spend at the spa. All the way there I all I could think of was a nice body massage and one for hubby. We went into the spa and discovered we didn’t have enough to cover two massages. I said we could still get two but frugal hubby said, no. I signed up for a massage and my husband had a gentlemen’s pedicure.

This was a fancy spa. I entered an area just for women to change and then I could join my husband in a co-ed area with a hot tub, sauna, and a quiet lounge where we waited for our treatments. I had expected my husband to join me in the lounge, but he didn’t arrive before they called me back to the room for my massage. It turned out he’d been taking a tour of the three floors that made up the spa.

I was taken to a room and asked to slip under the sheet on the massage table. I did as I was asked. As I laid there face down, staring at the floor waiting for the masseuse to come back, my mind wandered in the direction it seems to go more and more these days. I thought, “I could be a dead body and no one would notice.” That, of course had my mind flying to all sorts of scenarios. The masseuse came in and started my massage. The whole time I was still figuring out how I could have a murder in a spa like the one I was at, and how to involved Shandra Higheagle the main character in my mystery series.

By the time my massage was over, I had the story starting in my head. After dressing, I went out and started asking the people at the sign-in desk a bunch of questions about how a spa that size was run, while I waited for my husband to come out of the men’s side.

Back home, I started coming up with a method of murder that would be plausible and started the book Toxic Trigger-point. The book opens with Shandra opening a door to a massage room and seeing someone face down on the table. She thinks she’s got the wrong room and waits in the hall. She and the masseuse discover the woman on the table is dead.

I love when I can work something I’ve experienced into a book. I’ll be taking a jet boat ride in a couple of weeks to learn more about the Hells Canyon area to set a Gabriel Hawke book there. My need to know the settings for my books will also take me to Iceland this month. My goal is to have Hawke go there to teach or learn more about tracking on cold conditions. (watch for blogs and photos about both trips)

Another great thing about traveling, our 40th anniversary trip will be to Hawaii, where I hope to send Shandra for book #14.

Seeing the places I use as settings in books helps me to experience it not only through me but through my characters.

Life Cycles by Paty Jager

As with all things in life there needs to be change. And when change is a positive thing, then all is good.

I feel the change I am making in my writing life is going to make a happier me. We all know that being happy is the center of everything in a person’s life.

For those who haven’t followed my writing story, the first 2 novels I wrote were mysteries. I had been an avid reader of mystery novels and a passive reader of romance. But when I couldn’t find help perfecting the craft of writing mysteries, I turned to Romance Writers of America to learn writing craft and the business side of writing. I published 15 romance novels before I ventured into writing what I call Action Adventure or Romantic Suspense. I had such a fun time writing the three Isabella Mumphrey books that I had a hard time going back to writing westerns.

Then a mystery idea struck. Shandra Higheagle kept knocking on my brain and asking when I’d write her mystery series. 2014 I wrote the first three books in that series and published them in 2015. They were so well received that I kept right on writing them- I’m now at book #13 and I’ve started a second mystery series, the Gabriel Hawke Novels. These have been getting wonderful reviews and selling like I’ve never sold books before!

Because of the wonderful sales of the mystery series and the fact they have from the beginning been my favorite to read and write, I am going to only write the mystery books until, I either no longer want to write mystery or the sale of this genre takes a dive. At which time, I will pick back up writing the two western romance series I started- Silver Dollar Saloon and Tumbling Creek Ranch.

If you are one of my western romance readers, you might try my Shandra Higheagle mystery series. These are like a contemporary western romance only the romance is the second or third plot in the story. The main plot is the mystery.

Having told several friends of this and now you, my readers, I feel a huge boulder has been lifted from my shoulders and I am ready to take on these two mystery series with all my imagination and writing prowess.

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Imagination by Paty Jager

Photo taken in the evening

Everyone has an imagination, whether it’s wondering what an interesting person does for a living or how they live or looking at a cloud and seeing a dog, or face.

Imagination is a powerful thing. It can make a stormy night feel as if the roof will collapse or a dark, silent night think something is sneaking up on you. Or it can imagine you having a happy life with a person your are attracted to.

Some might say that the later is more like dreaming, but it is still imagination. Imagination can take you far if you allow it to grow from imagination into goals and goals into putting forth the effort to make it come true.

I have always had a vivid imagination. Until I started writing, I could envision horrible things happening to my husband when he was gone for days trucking or if someone coming to visit us was late, my mind would start conjuring up all kinds of catastrophes.

Once I let my imagination run rampant in a book, those “daydreams” of horror left me. I rarely think something bad has happened to any of my family because I put all that angst and worry into the characters in the books I write. 😉 I always new writing was therapy!

Right now my imagination is having a wonderful time plotting out several more Shandra Higheagle and Gabriel Hawke mysteries. I really believe mystery is my niche and I am enjoying the heck out of writing these books and having readers ask for more.

And now my imagination is placing my Gabriel Hawke books in a top list of police procedural books. We’ll see if I can make this imagination into a goal and a reality. If you’re read the books, please leave a review. The more reviews a book has the more visibility it gets when someone googles police procedural.

Murder of Ravens

Mouse Trail Ends

Rattlesnake Brother