Starting a new Writing Project

Beginning to figure out the first book, Poker Face.

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.

Old Agency building on the reservation

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?

Exploring New Cultures Through Reading

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.

Diwali or deepavali photo with female hands holding oil lamp during festival of light

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?

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!

Welcome to the Lillian’s Legacy Blog Tour and Giveaway!

Today, I’m sharing my blog with a friend and author, Carmen Peone.

Lillian’s Legacy is the final book in the Gardner Sibling Trilogy.

Lillian Gardner, a healer in the making using natural medicines, is certain she is the black sheep of the family. In an attempt to prove she is of value, she sets off into the wilds of Eastern Washington and Indian Territory with Doctor Mali Maddox, an elderly Welsh female physician whose husband has recently passed away. She hopes to marry her knowledge of herbal remedies learned from her mother and an Indian healer with new ways of western medicine. Will Lillian discover her true calling? Will she be respected as a female physician in training?

Book Launch Fun Facts:

Doctor Maddox introduces Lillian to an unusual medical instrument.

Have you ever listened to your heartbeat through a stethoscope? When I began researching Lillian’s Legacy, I knew the female Welsh medical doctor would not be using a binaural stethoscope in 1875. But I wasn’t sure what she would be using, so I did some research and came across… Read More Here

Carmen picked Maddox, or Madog, from her Welsh heritage for the female physician’s surname. The healer mentors Lillian as she finds her way around the medical field. Learn More Here

Learn more about the trilogy…

Hannah’s Journey

Delbert’s Weir

What are readers saying about Lillian’s Legacy?

“Ms Peone’s development of diverse and captivating characters adds depth to her writing and grabs the reader’s imagination in compelling and riveting ways.”

“I absolutely love the historical bits of the story because you are given a sense of what life was truly like back in those times.”

“I love this story. I would follow Lillian anywhere, into her next book if there is one. She is a sweet, brave, good-hearted, well-developed character. The writing is lively and detailed. I could see, hear, smell, and feel the land.”

Comment below for a chance to win a copy of Lillian’s Legacy.

The winner will be draw on July 20th and can choose between a Kindle eBook or signed softcover copy.

Award-winning author Carmen Peone lives with her tribal husband, Joe, on the Colville Confederated Indian Reservation in Northeast Washington. She gathered cultural knowledge from family and elders and studied the language and various cultural traditions and legends under the late Marguerite Ensminger. She is a horse and photography enthusiast. With a degree in abnormal psychology, the thought of writing never entered her mind, until she married her husband and they moved to the reservation after college. She came to love the people and their heritage and desires to create a legacy for her family.

Lillian’s Legacy and the Gardner Siblings include a Literary Guide.

This is great for summer fun, homeschool learning,and historical knowledge in the classroom.

Find Out More Here

Purchase Lillian’s Legacy today on

Amazon

Add to Goodreads

Carmen loves to hear from readers. Follow her online at:

Website and Blog | Facebook | TwitterInstagram | Pinterest

Photos to Covers

I find the best feature on my cell phone is the camera. I usually have the phone with me every time I step outside or go on trips.

That means I always have a camera. I enjoy taking photographs of nature. A billowy cloud can have so many colors and textures in it that I want a photo. The blue of the sky can capture my attention. The way the grass is leaning in the wind. Dust swirling or hiding the hill across the valley. A lizard, snake, horse, cat, bird.

Taken at the Oregon Coast

I can find many things to photograph. Buildings, rocks, hills, fence posts. If I see something unique, I want to capture it.

When I go places to research settings for my books, I take a ton of pictures hoping one will work for a cover of the book. When I am researching, I also take along the camera featured at the beginning of the post. Using the photo I pick, my cover designer then places the added elements the story needs.

Waterfall in Maui

I used a photo I took while in Kauai, Hawaii for the cover of Abstract Casualty. We, my cover designer and I, are currently working on the cover for Capricious Demise. I’ve scanned through all my photos and have found a couple that might work and have given her some ideas of some that can be purchased.

My photo with bird added

On the Gabriel Hawke novel covers, we add the animal that is in the title of the book. And maybe take liberty of adding a trail sign that wasn’t in the photo but adds to the “story” the cover tells. This was Murder of Ravens. The cover for Mouse Trail Ends the cover designer took a photo of mouse prints in the dirt and added a backpack and mouse. Rattlesnake Brother is produced from two photos I purchased. The steps of a courthouse and a rattlesnake. My jet boat trip on the Snake River doing research for Chattering Blue Jay gave me many photos to choose from. Once I decided which one, my cover designer add a blue jay to the photo in a realistic way. And Fox Goes Hunting, the cover photo is a photo I took while in Iceland. It is of the Krysuvik boiling pools. I purchased a photo of an Arctic Fox that my cover designer inserted in the photo.

Sometimes finding the right cover art can be as much work as writing the book. Don’t be me started on coming up with a good title!

June Adventure

After visiting my dad on Father’s Day at the Senior Living Center in Wallowa County, (where my Gabriel Hawke Novels are set) I headed to the setting of the next Hawke book.

While riding with a State Police Trooper also working Fish and Wildlife when I had the Hawke novels in their conceptual stage, the trooper pointed out a site that had been deemed an accidental death, but he thought otherwise. After he explained the whole thing to me and I saw the spot, I agreed with him.

Griz Flat Camp area

Ever since that ride-along, I’ve known that would be the scene of one of the murders that Hawke would help solve.

So, on the sunny June Sunday, I made a 93 mile loop to get photos of the area and acquaint myself with the roads and area.

The drive from Enterprise, Oregon in the NE corner of the state is pretty just about any time of year, but this time of year… the greens, the wildflowers, the fields, it is a visual delight!

Flora, Oregon

From Enterprise, I went north and turned west onto the Flora Highway. Flora is a small community that was a town at one time. The remnants of businesses, the school, and houses can be seen among the buildings still in use.

After Flora, I traveled through farm land and started down the steep winding Redmond grade to reach the Grande Ronde River. I crossed the river and continued into Troy, OR. The small community has houses, a motel, store and other conveniences for fishermen and rafters. Troy is set at at the crook of the Grande Ronde and Wenaha Rivers.

A photo from Griz Flat road toward Troy.

After taking photos of the campground where the murder will take place, I headed back on another route that followed the Grand Ronde River for several miles. I took a photo of a group rafting. The colorful rafts caught my eye.

Rafts on the Grand Ronde River

Along the way I had to stop and wait for cattle to move off the road. I thought it was a funny coincidence that when I came upon the cattle with white and black faces a song by Sia, the singer who wears a white and black wig, was playing on my radio. That’s why I took the photos of the cattle. LOL

It was a great day. I captured the photos I needed for the book cover and saw what I needed to see to write the book. Now to sit down and make my suspect chart and start pushing around ideas for a title. On the way home I toyed with Fire Ant Bites- but I’m not completely sold on it. I’ll have to play some more with ideas.

The drive was 90% gravel roads, which didn’t matter, I’m used to driving those. I went slow and enjoyed the tall green grass, the wheat and hay fields and even some cattle on the road.

That Feeling- That one

When I finish a book, I have a lightness for, oh, about an hour. That hour starts when I have finished the draft, gone through it one more time for consistency and tweaking things, and have hit send to my critique partners.

What I do for an hour… I either ride my horse, go for a walk, or watch a show on TV. Sometimes I start baking or sewing. I do anything but think about the next book or marketing or promotion for the book I just finished–for an hour.

Then boom! My head is into the next book. I’m researching, making my character and suspect charts, figuring out who is murdered and why. Trying to make the title and the story have some kind of connection. Thinking about what the cover will look like.

And I’m back in a project just like that with an hour to feel, the awe of completion and satisfaction that I took my characters on another journey of which I enjoyed as much as they did. But now the hard work will start.

Besides writing the next book, I will be working on edits of the one I just finished, formatting it, uploading it to the ebook venues that I use. Then formatting it for print and uploading it to the print vendor I use. When it is available, letting people know via newsletters, social media, and paid advertising.

Yes, that feeling… the one I covet of finishing a book and not thinking about anything else– It lasts an hour and then I’m back on the treadmill of writing, researching, marketing, and promoting. Never a dull moment when you are an Indie author.

The book I just finished: Abstract Casualty, book 14 in the Shandra Higheagle Mysteries. It is set on Kauai, Hawaii. Shandra is invited by a college friend to come juror an art exhibit and ends up proving her friend didn’t kill an uptight painter.

Top photo by: Paty Jager Middle photo: DepositPhotos

Finally Found Paradise

Chickens were everywhere

Saturday morning, we planned to drive up to the end of the road past Hanalei and walk the hiking trail to a water fall. We discovered you had to have a parking permit, which were already spoken for three weeks out or take a bus.

We went to Hanalei and had a snack and coffee and tea again in the Wake Up Cafe. We asked the waitress/owner about the parking permits and discovered if you didn’t have one, there was no way to park. So we looked up the shuttle and discovered that we couldn’t get it just a couple blocks from where we were staying but we could get on it at Waipa just a short distance out of Hanalei. We booked it for the next day.

Flowers being sold at the market

After that we took in a Saturday market, checked out the shops in Hanalei and went back to our condo and hung out waiting for the next day.

Sunday, we rose early, packed drinks, lunch, towels in the backpack and headed to Hanalei for breakfast at the Wake Up cafe. I had the Over The Falls French toast without the coconut and whipped cream. It was very good and kept me full for the hike.

We drove to the shuttle stop an hour early but were lucky they let us on then. The ride in the shuttle to the end of the road, was nice. Hawaiian music was playing and the large windows made it easy to see everything outside.

Rocky trail

At the park, we were told the last bus left at 5 pm, to be sure and be back before that time. We walked through the park and found the trailhead. It said 2 miles to the beach and 4 miles to the falls.

We started out planning to go to the falls. Weeellll, let me tell you. The first half mile was all up hill on an uneven rocky path, then we went down and had switch backs were some of the steps were almost too tall for me to pull my heavy bottom up.

But the views! This was the Hawaii I had dreamed of seeing! Bright green plants, beautiful blue ocean, colorful flowers! It was gorgeous everywhere I looked. And I stopped often to look and snap a photo!

We crossed several places were water was running down a small ravine. They were like mini waterfalls. I used one to wash the sand off my feet on the way back.

fish in the fresh water

At the bottom near the beach and before the trail went up to the waterfalls or down to the beach, we crossed a river. It was just the right temperature to cool us down after our two mile trek. We kept our shoes on to cross. The water at the deepest was up to my knees. After staring at the sign for the falls and seeing the trail went up and up, we decided that 2 miles in and back out was all we could handle.

We went to the beach and enjoyed seeing fish in the fresh water coming from the river, a small cave, which I sat in for a photo, then the crashing of the waves and watching sail boats go by. We hung out on the beach for a couple of hours taking photos, enjoying the view, and picnicking.

Pretending to be a mermaid

The hike back was harder as there was more downhill than uphill. The views were stunning and I stopped a lot to take them in and remember this was my paradise!

Researching the Next Book

Painting that caught my eye at the art show.

I had two reasons I wanted to go to Hawaii- I had always wanted to see a tropical island and I wanted to set a book there. After working on my husband for 40 years, he finally gave in. Our daughters who had visited several of the Hawaiian islands suggested they thought their dad would like Kauai the best. When he said yes to going, I quickly booked a place to stay and got plane tickets before he changed his mind!

Last week I showed you the first couple of days in Kauai. This week I have photos from the next two days.

On Thursday we drove the Waimea Canyon Road. The canyon was pretty. It was deep, had lots of deep gorges and narrow peaks. The colors ranged from orange and pinks in the soil and rocks to the vivid greens we’re expecting to see in the foliage.

Waimea Canyon

From the Canyon Viewpoint we continued north and stopped at all the viewpoints along the way. One had a trail to the top of the waterfall we’d viewed at the Canyon viewpoint. Hubby and I started out on the trail, thinking we’d see more than the trees, brush, and vines as we slipped and slid down the muddy trail. After about a mile, we turned around and went back. It was hot, humid, no air in among the vegetation, and we couldn’t see anything.

Back at the car, we continued up the Koke’e Road to the next lookout. The Kalalau lookout overlooked the Kalalau valley and the ocean. It was really pretty.

A short distance from there was another lookout, the Pi’u o Kila. From here we took the Pihea Trail and walked a good mile and a half up it and stopped to have a picnic lunch. This trail had a rocky down hill climb to start, then it even out along the rim of the canyon but was a bit on the slippery side, but not near as bad as the trail that we’d hiked earlier in the day. There were wonderful views of the Kalalau Valley and the Waimea Canyon on the other side.

At the car we headed back the way we’d driven that morning because we had come to the end of the road. We had dinner as a small restaurant and went back to out place to soak in the hot tub and visit with some of the other vacationers at our condo.

Friday I was excited to attend a luau that night. To make sure we weren’t late for the luau we only had plans for me to check out an art show happening in Lihue.

Mindanao Gum tree

The morning started out with us walking around the area where we were staying. I took photos of the flowers and the Mindanao Gum tree which has gorgeous colored striped bark. The art show didn’t open until noon which gave us time to slowly make our way to Lihue, have lunch at the mall where the show was being held.

I’m so glad I had discovered the art show! I talked with the young woman manning the show and explained why I was there and discovered that the show is held every year and it’s a juried show with a judge. The judge this year came from California! I discovered that I can have Shandra be the judge for one of their shows, by having her be friends with one of the board members. Spending time looking at the art, I wrote down the names of the artists I admired so I can look them up online and get a feel for the type of artists who enter the show. As I walked around studying the different mediums, ideas slowly swirled in my head. While I’m still uncertain how the character will be killed and why, I know how Shandra will be in Kauai, how she becomes involved in the murder, and where I want the murder to take place.

painted gourds by Sally Tomiko

It had started raining in the afternoon. we were almost and hour early for the luau and the man at the gates suggested we go see a waterfall that was about 15 minutes away. We drove there and sat in the car for fifteen minutes waiting for the rain to let up so we could get out and look at the waterfall without being soaked.

Sitting in car waiting for rain to slow
Opaeka’a Falls

We noticed a man standing inside the open door of the men’s restroom when we drove up to the waterfall lookout. He was weaving a basket with palm leaves. Hubby and I discussed he was probably making the basket to sell. We waited until it looked like he was about finished and Hubby walked over and asked him about the basket. He was making it to sell and was asking $10 for it. I had told Hubby I’d to as high as $20 so we were both excited when he got into the car with my $20 basket.

the basket

We went back to the area for the Luau, still raining, and waited with the others at the entrance under a small entry to the gardens. We learned what I had thought would be a more intimate affair and I had made reservations for months ago had 500 people attending! It was a fun night with buffet style serving, dinner entertainment of Hawaiian songs and hula lessons and then a beautiful show afterwards. The show at the end depicted dances from all the cultures who inhabited the islands- Philippines, Tahitian, Japanese, New Zealand, Samoa. While it wasn’t as intimate as I’d thought it would be, it was definitely worth the money.

Next week I’ll tell you about finally finding the paradise I’d been looking for.