The first book of my new Spotted Pony Casino mystery, Poker Face, has released. I really like writing this character, though she is tough for me to write. She is a lower-limb amputee. I have joined a lower-limb amputee group online to help me understand the struggles. I hope I can do a good job of showing how strong a person has to be mentally to continue life as close to normal as they possibly can.
I also like the face most of the books will be set at a fictional Indigenous run casino on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation. By making it a fictional casino, I can run things as they best work for my stories. However, I’m still trying to keep it working much like any other Indigenous owned casino.
Here is the info on the book.
Spotted Pony Casino Mystery
Dela Alvaro is a disabled veteran who grew up on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation. When an IED in Iraq ended her military career, she came home to reassess her life and landed a job in security at the Indian run casino on the reservation.
Not even a year into being the assistant to the head of security, Dela is promoted on a trial basis. When one of the casino employees is found stabbed and stuffed in a laundry chute, she knows she can kiss head of security good-bye if she doesn’t find the killer before the media gets hold of the story.
While she is in over her head, she can’t decide if the FBI Special Agent called in to help is a blessing or a curse. It’s a man she ran across in Iraq who overrode her authority. When a second casino employee is killed, Dela has to decide if she can trust the special agent with not only keeping her job but keeping the rest of the casino employees safe.
This book is available in ebook and print. I am currently working with a narrator to get it made into and audiobook.
I am gathering swag and putting together a booklet of first chapters of my mystery books to take to Bouchercon in New Orleans in August. Yes! I will be attending my first ever Bouchercon. It is one of the largest mystery fan conferences in the U.S. I will be doing Speed Dating with 200 fans. Whew! I am going to be on a panel: Empathy: The Art and Practice of Relating. I’ll have books there and I would love to connect with anyone who wants to meet up. I will be at the New Orleans Marriott from August 26-29th.
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.
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.
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.
Last month was the end of my Shandra Higheagle Mystery series. After 16 books in that series, I had come to know the characters well. I’ll miss them, but I’m excited to start the new Spotted Pony Casino Mysteries.
The new mystery series has been on the back of my mind since last spring when I wrote a short story for a contest. The more I became invested in the short story and the character, I knew she would be the main character of the next mystery series I wrote. Over the year, she has popped up in my mind many times as I start to fully realize who she is and what she wants out of life.
Dela Alvaro is a disabled veteran who in the latest Gabriel Hawke book is the head of the night security team for the Spotted Pony Casino and helps Hawke solve the mystery of a missing Umatilla woman.
I also drove through the Umatilla Reservation to set the area and roads in my mind. That way when my character travels about, I can mention a real place or thing.
Starting a new series is more than visualizing a main character. I spent a day just drawing up the blueprint for the casino. It is a make believe casino, but in a spot where there is a real Indian owned casino. I had to go online and learn as much as I could about the casino that exists so I could make sure I put in the amenities that are needed for a casino of its size and the working parts of the casino as well. The staff, laundry maintenance, dealers, cashiers, security, restaurants, the works. How they are owned. How the games work. It has been a learning curve for someone who might frequent a casino once a year and most of those were at casinos in Nevada, not on reservations. There is a different set of rules for Indian casinos. Something else I had to read up on.
After I drew the casino layout, I came up with some of the characters who worked there that my character would be dealing with or have for friends. The statics for the casino I’m miming has 2/3 of the staff being from the reservation. That is good to know for coming up with secondary characters.
Because this casino is on a reservation, which makes if federal jurisdiction after the tribal police, I will also have an FBI agent as a secondary character. Guess what? That means I am also digging into what the FBI deals with on reservations and how the workflow goes, as well as reading up on the whole FBI process. I also gave Dela and FBI Special Agent Quinn Pierce a backstory from their time spent in Iraq. And,,, that meant digging up info from military police in Iraq seven years ago.
I do tend to go overboard with my research but I hope it helps to make my make believe characters, believable.
That is what I’m doing in my writing. Waiting for my beta and sensitivity readers to get back to me on my last Hawke book, I wrote, and gearing up to write the first book in the Spotted Pony Casino mysteries. What are you up to this month?
I have always been interested in other countries and cultures. Reading has been the way I learn about them. As a teen I read a lot of what is called Gothic Romance. These were set in England, India, Northern Africa. The places where the English ruled because the books were usually about an English governess. I enjoyed reading about the places and the people.
That could be the reason I write Native American characters and culture into my mystery books. They aren’t another country. They are right here living on the same continent as I am, yet their culture is different and they have been treated poorly. The one thing you will always find my books showcasing is injustice. I have deep need to show injustices.
Back to exploring new cultures through reading. I have read two books in Sujata Massey’s 1920s Mysteries set in India. I’m learning so much about the different cultures and castes that lived in that country at that time. Earlier in the year, I’d read a self-published book that was set in India. I hadn’t realized how badly some men treat their wives and it is normal. Glad I don’t live in that country. And I feel for the women who are trying to get equality in life, work, policies, and laws.
After those books, I moved on to one that I thought would be interesting and indeed it probably would be but I got tired of all the bantering back and forth between the two main characters and not getting into the meat of the mystery.
Now I’ve started a book set in Hollywood, not another country, but it’s in the view of a black woman who has fallen down the actress list. I’m seeing a different view of things through not only her losing her looks and trying to stay afloat but how she interacts with others.
I’ve also read many books written and about Native Americans to try to help me write my characters who aren’t ensconced in the life every day but I want them to reveal tidbits of that culture to my readers and help them see they are just as human as the rest of us.
Are you reading books about other cultures? Do you enjoy learning new things and understanding people better?
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.
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.
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.
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!
I hope you are spending this day, or weekend, with people you care about or how you wish to celebrate or not celebrate this time of year.
We are spending the day with our family who live down the road. We see them all the time, and we live rural. One of the perks of being rural. 😉
As always at the end of the year, I figure out what I’ve accomplished and where I want to go with my writing. I am ending a mystery series. The last book is written and will be published in early 2021. I’m starting a new murder mystery series that I’m nervous and excited about. It’s requiring a lot of research because it is set in a business I know nothing about- Indian run casinos. And the protagonist is female disable veteran. Lots to learn!
I’m excited to write the next Gabriel Hawke book which will deal with Missing and Murdered Indigenous women. I know that sounds bad to say I’m excited about writing it. But what I really mean, is I hope by using this as a premise in my book, I can shed more light on the problem. And 75% of the proceeds from this book will go to the MMIW organization.
If you haven’t had a chance to start the Shandra Higheagle murder mystery series, or have been putting off getting the 7th book in the series, Yuletide Slaying, it is available right now at all ebook venues for $0.99. It was picked by Books2Read for a special Christmas promotion. http://d2d.tips/diehardchristmas
The best part of Christmas to me is finding the perfect gift for each friend and family member. I love the search, wrapping the gift, and then the look on their faces when they open the gift. That and spending the day together, playing cards, visiting, and enjoying good food.
Wishing you a fabulous Christmas and a New Year that brings you all the joy and love you could ever wish for!
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!
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!
Come hang out at my party on the 14th! I’d love to visit with you!
Lately I’ve been struggling to find the time for things I want to do and staying focused when I do get the time.
Writing is one of the things I do for me. Not only to have some money to spend how I wish but also because I don’t feel settled if I’m not writing. Years ago, I would fantasize bad things happening to the people I loved when I was apart from them. Once I started writing, I stopped having those fantasies. My imagination had a creative outlet by writing stories.
These days, I write nearly every day. It is very rare that I find my mind going to places I don’t direct it to. I enjoy the flexing of my brain while trying to figure out a new book’s plot or coming up with characters.
Writing mysteries is my favorite thing to do. I can bring justice to the world in my imagination while I can’t to the real world.
I’m getting ready to reveal something big in the coming months. One is the fact I will be publishing my 50th book, the other is a new mystery series.
So stay tuned for all the new fun things that are going to happen in 2021.
And I’d like to add that this week only you can purchased the first three Gabriel Hawke Novels in an ebook box set for $0.99! That’s at all ebook vendors.
Books 1-3 in the Gabriel Hawke Novels
Oregon State Trooper Gabriel Hawke works the Fish and Wildlife Divison in Wallowa County. He not only upholds the law but protects the land of his ancestors.
Murder of Ravens
State Trooper Gabriel Hawke is after poachers in the Wallowa Whitman National Forest. When he comes across a body wearing a wolf tracking collar, he follows the trail of clues.
Mouse Trail Ends
Dead bodies in the wilderness. A child is missing. Oregon State Trooper Hawke is an expert tracker, but he isn’t the only one looking for the child.
State Trooper Gabriel Hawke encounters a hunter with an illegal tag. The name on the tag belongs to the Wallowa County District Attorney and the man holding the tag isn’t the public defender.
Oliver Ensley was picked up and brought in for questioning. Scott tried his best to get the man to talk, but he stonewalled and kept repeating he wanted to call his lawyer. They had no choice but to allow him to make the call. They didn’t have any evidence against him, other than hearsay.
In the Sheriff’s office, Scott paced back and forth. “We have to find Tommy Joe and get him to talk. He’s the only one who can give us the information to make Ensley talk.”
“Are you sure it is Ensley and not Tommy Joe who killed Forseth?” the sheriff asked.
Scott stopped and stared at the sheriff. “What do you know about Tommy Joe? Everyone else seems to think he wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
“He isn’t the simple man he portrays.” Sheriff Quinn tossed a file to the edge of his desk nearest Scott. “Take a look.”
The file was on Raymond Forseth, the victim. His family and business. Thomas Joseph Forseth was Raymond’s brother and second in line in the investing company.
Scott shook his head. “I don’t understand. I was under the impression Tommy Joe, Thomas Joseph, was here for many years. And no one said he was a Forseth.”
“He never gave a last name. And he has been in and out of here for years. I believe he was prospecting to find what he finally found, that tunnel with gold. His brother always did business on sure things. Go talk to Raymond’s secretary and wife. In the meantime, we’ll be keeping a look out for Tommy Joe.”
Scott left the office and returned to his desk. He called Mrs. Forseth first. She said, that at the death of her husband the business would go to her brother-in-law, Thomas. After adding that to his notes, he called the business and talked with Raymond’s secretary.
“Oh yes, those two brothers would get into it all the time. Thomas felt they needed to take more chances, and Raymond always made sure he had the information necessary to make an intelligent decision.”
“What will happen to the company now that Raymond is gone?” Scott asked.
“Thomas will take over, and who knows what will happen.” The woman sniffed. “I’ll be retiring. I won’t work for that man.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Raley.” He started to hang up and said, “Do you have any idea where I might find Thomas?”
“He has a cabin in the Sierras.” She rattled off the address and hung up.
Scott told dispatch to send three cars to the address and bring Thomas to the Sheriff’s Office.
He decided to have a better look at the photos and forensics. Staring at the photos, a thought struck him. Scott strode down the hall to the interview room, stopping at the door. “Is Ensley alone in there?”
The deputy standing guard nodded.
“Good. If his lawyer shows up, try to stall him.” Scott entered the room.
“Where’s my lawyer?” Ensley asked. He was a bald-headed man with broad shoulders and a permanent scowl.
“I don’t know. But I have some questions for you. Who did you work for? Raymond or Thomas?” Scott settled into the seat across the table from Ensley.
“What do you mean?” The man seemed to be perplexed. “I’m the builder for Forseth Development.”
“I know that. But were you working for Raymond or Thomas?”
The man shook his head. “I don’t know any Thomas.”
“Okay, let me rephrase it. Did you work for Tommy Joe?”
“The smelly old prospector? No.” The man laughed. “That’s a good one. He doesn’t have a nickel to rub between his fingers.”
“But you told him you’d take care of Raymond the other night at The Lone Wolf Restaurant.” Scott watched him.
“Yeah. He wanted to make sure that Raymond looked at the survey stakes and made sure the land Tommy Joe claimed wasn’t on our development. Tommy Joe was worried he was encroaching and didn’t want to get started digging and have Raymond take it away from him.” The man sounded sincere.
Scott studied him. “That’s all he wanted to know?”
“Yeah.” Ensley pursed his lips as if in thought. “When I talked to Raymond about it, he asked me where Tommy Joe lived. I gave him directions to that camp of his.” His eyes widened. “Wait a minute. You think Tommy Joe killed Raymond!”
While waiting for the deputies to bring Tommy Joe in, Scott received a call from the state forensics. “What did you find?” he asked the forensic technician.
“The victim was killed by a blow to the head after having been in a fight. We noted the bruises and scrapes consistent with fighting.”
“And the evidence recovered at the crime scene?” Scott asked. He hoped it was good news for Dela’s grandfather.
“The blood on the donkey was that of the victim’s. The animal had been used to move the body. The mining equipment you sent from the camp was tested. A shovel had the victim’s blood on the spade end and was consistent with the head wound. Your suspect’s prints were on the handle.”
Deputy Jones stuck his head in the room. “They’re bringing him in,”
Scott stood at the door of the county station watching Tommy Joe, dressed in slacks, a fancy shirt, and shiny leather shoes, be led into the station. The man glared at everyone. Gone were the whiskers, the longish hair, and the stench. He smelled of two-hundred-dollar cologne.
Relieved the right man was in custody, Scott called Dela.
“Hello?” the woman questioned, answering the phone.
“It’s Detective Harper. We have the person responsible for Forseth’s murder in jail. I’m pleased to tell you, it’s not your grandfather.”
Have you figured out which character could show up in a mystery series of their own?