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.

Iceland Trip- part seven

A clothed pig statue that caught my eye.

Friday, my birthday! I didn’t tell anyone on the trip because they had made a big deal out of someone else’s birthday earlier in the week. I just enjoyed the day and being on a grand adventure!

We drove up to the Presidential residence of Bessastaoir, the President of Iceland. It was a large home with farm type buildings out in the middle of open ground. There was a large pond and some geese.

I loved the drive to Lake Kleifarvatn and could see my character Hawke bringing a tracking class out to this moon-scape type surroundings to learn to look for tracks that weren’t there. It had large volcanic rises, sifting ashy dirt, minimal plants, but a beautiful lake.

On the southern end of the lake our noses crinkled. Hot springs, mud pots, and boiling pools of mud and water were just beyond the parking lot. The sulfurous steam that came up from the earth needed to be kept down wind. But the mud, steam, and sulfur made for colorful rock features. Here I had the idea of perhaps Hawke could discover a body half in one of the boiling mud pots. The upper half, making it hard to discover who the victim would be.

Our “relaxation” for the day was an hour in the Blue Lagoon. It was a spa or sorts with geothermal mineral water. We all brought our swimsuits and entered the waist high water. The silt of the minerals was so think you could only see a few inches into the water. I don’t know what the minerals were but it made my body float even more than usual. I could barely stay seated on the cement bench along the inside of the pool.

After the Blue Lagoon we drove to the Viking World Museum. Here we walked on the deck of Islendingur (the Icelander) a Viking replica ship finished in 1996 by shipbuilder Gunnar Marel Eggertsson. They used information gathered after the excavation of a ship in Norway in 1880. They believe the ship excavated had been built around 870. Using the same tools that would have been used in 870 Eggertsson and a crew built the ship. After it was built they sailed in it from Iceland to North America.

We returned to Reykjavik in the afternoon and met a specialist on the Icelandic language. He told us about how they are trying to preserve the language using more of a Norse language than other Norse countries and sticking to the odd characters in the spellings. He said many of the Norse languages these days are adding in English words and dropping some of the sounds that make the language so distinctive.

After the talk, while walking back to the hotel, I spotted a jewelry store and popped inside. A pair of earring that looked like ice caught my eye. I inquired what the price would be in dollars and purchased myself a birthday gift that will remind me of this wonderful birthday trip.

Dinner our last night was in the Harpa. A concert hall we’d been staring at every day from our hotel. After dinner and a delicious dessert of berry sorbet, a caramel nougat and berry cream slice on a nut crust, we attended a play. Icelandic Sagas: The Greatest Hits. It was a two person show that quickly ran through many of the Icelandic Sagas in a witty and hilarious depiction. I left the theater laughing until I realized I had to get up at 3:30 am to catch the bus to take me to the airport.

I’m so glad I took the chance to go on this trip. I enjoyed the other nine participants and made friends. And I traded emails with the guide so I can contact him when I need information for the book I plan to set in Iceland. I hope the Authors Guild can come up with another interesting trip next year. It could become a yearly trip for me.

Thank you for reading my blogs about my trip to Iceland. Keep checking in as I post about my jet boat trip up the Snake River and other adventures in pursuit of research for books.

Iceland Trip – part six

The harbor at Reykjavik

The Saga Circle. Today we learned more about Icelandic Sagas. I do have to say the Icelandic Settlement Centre in Borgarnes could have been left off the itinerary. While I enjoyed the artistic license taken by whoever made the scenes on the audio tour, the information was repetitive of what we’d already heard several times. And I don’t have any photos of the carved masks people made from bits and pieces of boards, and the wild-eyed berserk Egill, an Icelander who would have been titled a psychopath in this time period.

We moved on to Reykholt and the home of Snorri Sturluson, a significant chieftain, poet, and historian of the Middle Ages. Here Pastor Geir Waage told the group of Snorri’s life and how the Icelanders who were pagans slowly came around to becoming Christians, even if it was only in the public to keep the King of Norway from taking over the island. But eventually, the king did get the island when a civil war broke out and no one could come to a consensus. They asked the king to step in and help them straighten things out. This was in 1262. Snorri was dead. Killed at the hands of the king’s men after he’d befriended the king for years.

Pastor Waage was an interesting and eccentric man. He had a Hercule Poirot mustache, a dramatic flair, and when he pulled a small horn out of a pocket inside his jacket, I stared in awe as he unscrewed the top, poured two small mounds of black powder on his hand above where his thumb attached and continued talking. He replaced the horn, walked some more holding his hand in front of him with the small black mound. Then he paused, inhaled the powder into his nose, whipped out a colorful handkerchief and kept on talking as he wiped his nose and shoved the cloth back into his pocket. I’m naive enough I had to ask our guide what he’d sniffed. “Tobacco,” was his answer.

After the saga of Snorri, we drove further inland to Hraunfossar and Barnafossar waterfalls. (Fosser means falls) These were pretty, but there was a sad story that went along with the Branafosser falls. There was a land bridge across the river. A farm was on one side of the river and the church on the other. One day a mother and father left three children at the farm while they crossed the rocky precipice across the river to visit the church. When they returned the children were not home. They followed their tracks and discovered they ended at the rocky foot bridge. It was believed the children tried to follow their parents and ended up in the river. The parents knocked down the rocky foot bridge. But as I wandered around taking photos, I saw a smaller foot bridge low in the river bed. Could it have been that foot bridge?

After the waterfalls, we visited the most powerful hot spring in Europe, Deildartunguhver. There were Danger signs everywhere and our guide suggested we stay back unless one of the boiling spots should spit hot water. I noticed a young woman dressed in a flowing blue dress, posing. There was a photographer behind a bush. I call her my water nymph but I believe she was posing for an advertisement.

The event I’d been waiting for happened at the end of the day. We visited with Yrsa Siguroardottir crime fiction and children’s writer. I’d listened to the first two books of her Thora Gudmundsdottir series. It was fun hearing her talk about why she chose the occupation of lawyer for her character and how even though she’d made her character the opposite of herself, her life and moved in a direction that correlated with her character. Because I was the only member of the tour who wrote mystery, Yrsa and I started talking about writing mysteries. I was excited someone of her caliber was so open to talking with me. She said she looked forward to seeing me at Bouchercon.

Yrsa signing a book for one of my tour mates.

Later that night at dinner, one of the other members said she enjoyed listening to Yrsa and I talk about the genre we both loved. I went to bed Thursday night a very happy writer!

Iceland Trip- part five

Wednesday was an all day literary tour. We started at the Arni Magnusson Institute for Icelandic Studies at the University of Iceland. We viewed ancient manuscripts with the tales of how the island was found, populated, and traveled from democracy to being part of Denmark and back to democracy.

Specialist Gisli Sigurosson showed us the manuscripts and talked about Icelandic folklore and storytelling. How it had first been written down using calf skins and ink. And how the letters and writing were formed.

We walked to the Nordic Culture House for lunch and then joined two men at the Reykjavik City Library for the Dark Deeds Literary Walking Tour. The tour took place in the old downtown narrated with Icelandic crime fiction and ghost stories.

We started at the library with the story, “A Ghoul’s Greeting” from folktales collected by John Arnason.

City Library

From there we moved to the government building which was formally the jail. There an excerpt from “The Black Cliffs” by Gunnar Gunnarsson was read.

Old Jail

At the Culture House “The Saga of Grettir” translated by Bernard Scudder was read.

Briet Square (which I found odd because it was a circle) we heard an excerpt from “Drapa” by Gerdur Kristny and translation by Rory McTurk was read. This story was even more creepy after learning that the square was a memorial for a woman who had died in similar circumstances.

An excerpt of “Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was” by Sjon, translation by Victoria Cribb was read in the Parliament garden. It was a beautiful place for so dark a story.

And last a poem by Benedict Grondal, “To Bother” was read on the street beside his former home that is now a tourist site.

After “Dark Deeds” A literary Walking Tour, we walked back to the hotel and climbed on the bus to attend a cocktail reception in our honor at the Gunnarshus, a house given to the Writers’ Union of Iceland. The director of the union, an assistant, and two authors greeted us. We had wine or sparkling water, appetizers and talks by the two authors and discussions. It was interesting learning how writers in Iceland can put in for stipends to help them live while they write books. That is all but the crime fiction authors. It is felt by the union that because crime fiction novels are popular that the authors don’t need financial help. Yrsa Siguroardottir, who we met with the next day, had a different take on it. And not for her, but for the up and coming crime fiction writers.

The house was beautiful. It had been the house of a famous Icelandic author who started by writing in Danish to have a larger audience for his books. Upon his death the house went to the government who gave it to the Writers’ Union. They hold meetings, signings, and literary events at the house.

After the reception we returned to a nearby restaurant for dinner. It had been the easiest day on the trip and also the one that had my brain soaking in the most about writing and literature.

The next post will be about discovering the Icelandic Sagas.

Authors4Veterans Giveaway

I’m excited to share this amazing giveaway with you all.  It was such a privilege to participate in this year’s annual Authors4Veterans charity drive.  Not only did we help veterans’ families, we also have 4 bags to share with our readers.

So, to back up a little bit, Authors4Veterans is a non-profit organization started by Stacey Joy Netzel and PJ Fiala in 2017.  The purpose of Authors4Veterans is simple; they contact fellow authors like myself, asking for a small monetary donation and books, swag and comfort items.  They bag them up in beautiful canvas zippered bags and deliver them to Fisher House Wisconsin.  Fisher House is a fantastic organization, located on the VA grounds in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where military families who need temporary housing can stay while their loved one receives care at the VA hospital.  This is all free to the families.  There are currently 84 houses in operation.  You can find out more about Fisher House here – https://www.fisherhouse.org/

Authors4Veterans’ came to be as Stacey and PJ both come from strong military backgrounds and they wanted to give back in some way.  To date, our author bags have been given to over 115 families.  Sometimes families have little notice that they have to rush to the hospital and these bags come in handy as they usually contain toothbrushes, toothpaste, shower soap, hand lotion, etc. in them as well as the books and swag.  Families are given a bag upon check-in.  Fisher House has shared that the families are often over-come with emotion at the generosity of the authors and how comforting the bags have been.

So, all that said, we also want to give something to our readers!  Enter the giveaway below for a chance to win your own Authors4Veterans bag filled with goodies.  The giveaway ends at 11:45p CST on June 20th.  Four winners will be drawn and announced on June 21st.  There are several opportunities for you to enter the giveaway, and of course, sharing it is always appreciated.

Enter the giveaway here – https://authors4veterans.com/2019/06/june-reader-giveaway/

Good luck everyone.

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

Evening of Inspiration by Paty Jager

Rogue Valley Chorale

Last Sunday, my friend and I attended an event at the Burns Paiute Gathering Center. It was a chorale concert and pow wow dances.

The Rogue Valley Chorale traveled to Burns to perform a piece composed by Joseph Julian Gonzalez. The composer had studied Aztec storytelling after having a rhythm and chant come to him out of the blue. While diving into centuries old transcriptions by clergymen, he discovered one story that he couldn’t get out of his mind.

Butterfly Dancers

This was the story of a woman searching for flowers. The birds and butterflies directed her to a beautiful place with radiant sunshine and the most beautiful flowers the woman had ever seen. they told her to gather them into her robe and take them back to her people. But she thought about this and left the flowers to grow as they were.

Gonzalez talk of all the different symbolism the scholars and elders came up with for the flowers and the maiden not returning to her world with them. And this story is what sparked the composer song- Origin of the Songs. Which is what the stories that were found from centuries ago were called. The reason he wished the song to be premiered in Burns with the Paiutes stems from the fact they are one of the few North American tribes that speak the language of the Aztecs.

Fancy Dancer

While I enjoyed the pre-concert talk by Gonzalez on how he came to write the piece and the powwow dancers in the middle of the program, it was the final song, the Origin of the Songs that I had waited for all night and found to be the most enchanting. Along with the Rogue Valley Chorale, there was mezzo accompanist, Shelly Cox Thornhill, who sang the part of the woman finding the flowers.

I came away from the evening with some great photos and feeling more connected to the Crow character I am writing in my current work in progress.