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Monday, April 23, 2018

Author Guest Post - Paty Jager

Please welcome Paty Jager to the blog.  She is an award-winning author of 32 novels, 6 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. This is what Mysteries Etc says about her Shandra Higheagle mystery series: “Mystery, romance, small town, and Native American heritage combine to make a compelling read.”  
Dreams, Clues, and Murder
Avery, thank you for having me on your blog. 

For those who don’t know me, I’m Paty Jager. I write murder mysteries and western romance. I grew up in the NE corner of Oregon where the Chief Joseph band of the Nez Perce wintered and summered before they were driven to Montana, and ultimately, surrendered to the Army. Growing up in the area I was frustrated that the history of the county wasn’t taught in the schools. Especially, how the Nez Perce tried to hang onto the land they loved. And then to only see them in the county once a year during the Chief Joseph Day’s Rodeo and Parade, seemed insulting to me. I’m not sure how they felt.

Because the non-treaty Nez Perce (the ones who refused to go on the reservation and fled to Montana) were thought to be a bad influence on the treaty Nez Perce, they weren’t allowed to set foot in the Wallowa country. In fact, after their surrender, they were taken clear to Oklahoma where they became ill and many died. Those that survived the 7 years of incarceration in Oklahoma were allowed to return to the Pacific Northwest but not to the Lapwai Idaho Reservation where the treaty Nez Perce resided. They were sent to the Umatilla and Colville reservations to live with tribes they had battled with before and who had scouted for the army to find them. 

I’m happy to say these days, there is a powwow held every July in Wallowa and the Nez Perce have purchased land in the county where they have fish naturalizing ponds and hatcheries. 

The reason I write about the Nez Perce is because of the injustice I feel they endured. And the vision of a Nez Perce warrior I saw on the mountain behind my family’s home one summer day as I rode my horse through the trees. 

My main character in my mystery series is Shandra Higheagle. I made her half Nez Perce and half White. Her Nez Perce father died when she was four. Her mother remarried a man who didn’t care for Native Americans and forbid her to talk of her father’s family or visit them. While the stepfather didn’t adopt her, he made her use his last name in school. 
 
When Shandra went on to college, she used her legal name of Higheagle and studied art, becoming a potter. She hadn’t thought much about it being a part of her heritage until she is called to the reservation where her grandmother and the rest of her family lives for her grandmother’s funeral. During the funeral and the Seven Drums Ceremony, Shandra discovers her family is interested in bringing her back into their lives. 

After the funeral, when Shandra returns to Huckleberry, she becomes a suspect in a murder. Her grandmother begins showing up in Shandra’s dreams, giving her clues that could help her solve the murder. 

All amateur sleuths need a sidekick who is in law enforcement. That is where Weippe County Detective Ryan Greer comes in. In book one, Double Duplicity, he realizes she isn’t the murderer even though she is found with the body. And when he catches her where she shouldn’t
be, looking for a clue, she tells him about her dreams. To her surprise, he believes in them more than she does. 

Their relationship builds throughout the series with a wedding on the horizon. 

While most of the books are set in and around Huckleberry Ski Resort and Shandra’s ranch on Huckleberry Mountain, there are also trips to the Colville Reservation in Washington where Shandra helps her family discover the truth when there are murders there. 

Shandra not only has Detective Greer on her side, but she has a big, furry, cowardly lion of a dog, a cantankerous woman who came with the ranch like a stray cat, and a slew of unique and quirky friends who live in Huckleberry. 

I use Shandra’s grandmother coming to her in dreams as the mysticism in my series. Everyone knows of dream catchers. The are many different versions of how this web within a hoop works. Some say it catches the good dreams and they slide down the feathers to the person sleeping under it and lets the bad dreams escape through the hole in the middle. Others say it captures the good ideas that make a person or people stronger and allows the bad ideas to pass on through. I used this concept along with that of the visions or vision quests, which are important to all tribes as well, and the fact the Nez Perce have long believed in the Seven Drums and Dreamer religion. It is a following that Chief Joseph and many in his band believed in. 

Putting all this information I’d gathered about the Native American cultures, dreams, and visions, I came up with the premise of the deceased grandmother coming to my character in dreams to help her solve murders. You can get the first book of the Shandra Higheagle Mystery series, Double Duplicity, free as an ebook at all ebook vendors. Books 1-5 are available in ebook, print, and audio. My narrator is working on book 6. My current book, book 10, Artful Murder, is available in ebook and print. 

Artful Murder by Paty Jager

Book ten in the Shandra Higheagle Mystery Series 

Secrets… Scandal… Murder…
An autistic boy and his brother need potter Shandra Higheagle’s help when a teacher’s body is found after a confrontation with the older brother. Shandra knows the boy is innocent. Digging into the teacher’s life, she and Ryan turn up scandal. 

Detective Ryan Greer has believed in Shandra’s dreams in the past, but she can’t always be right.  When his investigation uncovers a principal on the take, females being harassed, and parents kept in the dark, he discovers more suspects than the brothers.  Shandra’s time at the school is coming to an end, and the killer has struck again. 

Universal book link (purchase here)
 blog / website / Facebook / Paty's Posse / Goodreads / Twitter / Pinterest / Bookbub

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THANK You Ms Jager for the insight into your series.

 
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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Attention Book Bloggers


You can get the second book in my Resort to Murder mystery series, NAILED, on Netgalley (click here).  I would be delighted and honored if any book bloggers in the audience would read and review the book.  Please contact me as well if you would like to do a giveaway on your blog.  
 
NAILED:
 Julienne is snow bound in the middle of the Rocky Mountains with a killer striking at will.  This wasn't covered in Resort Management training.

Julienne LaMere gets to attend a Resort Management conference at a prestigious ski resort in the Colorado Mountains.  What should be an enjoyable getaway attending workshops by day and shopping and enjoying the resort by night comes to a screeching halt when a loud-mouthed guest is murdered plus the roads and town shut down for an epic blizzard.

In addition to attending the conference, dodging a smitten teen boy, and seeking clues among the gossiping - and increasingly tense - guests, her best friend’s heart has warmed to an unlikely man and may get broken.  As if her mind isn’t already fully occupied, Julienne and her new boyfriend Mason are skiing down troubled slopes in their relationship.  Will Julienne put the scant clues together and unveil the culprit before a murderer gets away?
 
 

 NAILED review in King's River Life!

I am so excited and grateful for the wonderful review of NAILED in King's River Life Magazine (click here.)  The article also contains a chance to win a copy of my book, so head on over there.  

Since I am so excited about the review, I am including a snippet here:  "The essence of a “page turner” with a plethora of rich characters to support her amateur investigation, not-so-smooth romantic entanglements, and some perilous moments. Julienne is proving to be a favorite cozy character: vulnerable, but strong..."

Thank you so much King's River Life and reviewer Kathleen Costa.
 
 





http://kingsriverlife.com/04/21/nailed-by-avery-daniels/
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Monday, April 16, 2018

Author Guest Post - Christina Hoag

Please welcome fellow author Christina Hoag.  She is a former journalist who has had her laptop searched by Colombian guerrillas, phone tapped in Venezuela, was suspected of drug trafficking in Guyana, hid under a car to evade Guatemalan soldiers, and posed as a nun to get inside a Caracas jail. She has interviewed gang members, bank robbers, thieves and thugs in prisons, shantytowns and slums, not to forget billionaires and presidents, some of whom fall into the previous categories. Now she writes about such characters in her fiction.

Christina’s noir crime novel Skin of Tattoos was a finalist for

the 2017 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award for suspense, while her YA thriller Girl on the Brink was named one of Suspense Magazine’s Best of 2016 for young adults. She also co-authored Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence, which is being used in several universities.

She's a former staff writer for the Miami Herald and Associated Press, and wrote from Latin America for Time, Business Week, New York Times, Financial Times, Times of London, Houston Chronicle and other news outlets.



Why I Write Dark 
Yes, I write dark stuff and always have. It’s simply what
comes out when I sit down at the computer. Gangs and dating violence are the topics of my two novels. I’ve written short stories about homelessness, prostitutes and assorted other gritty topics.

People have occasionally asked me why I’m drawn to the seamy side of life. I think it’s mainly attributable to my career in journalism, which has exposed me to many things that middle-class people never get to witness or experience within the normal realms of their lives. My fiction is an attempt to process those things, to take them a step further than the facts to explore the whys behind them or to simply expose different realities than the one I am used to because I find them intensely interesting.

So while I’m not afraid of venturing beyond the confines of my comfort zone, I admit it can be at times dangerous territory. I have to push myself. Violence and inhumanity are ever easy to write, but they are an inherent part of human nature. And what are writers if not chroniclers and interpreters of the human condition? I think it helps having written about acts of violence for many years as a newspaper reporter. I’m just used to writing about such stuff. Still, at times it gets to me.


My YA novel “Girl on the Brink” is about a girl who gets involved with the wrong guy, and it’s loosely based on my own experience. I had to amp up the conflict by including overt, dramatic acts of abuse. I wrote that book fairly quickly, especially those sections. I just wanted to get through it. My novel “Skin of Tattoos,” about a gang member who attempts to go straight but gets wrapped up in a rival conflict with a fellow homie, I probably downplayed the amount of violence that is normally in that type of lifestyle because I wanted my protagonist to be somewhat sympathetic.

I may have limits though. Having lived in Latin America for ten years, I am interested in narcoviolence in Mexico and other countries. It’s a topic I’d like to tackle and I think it’s an important one, but I know I’m going to have to steel myself to write about it with the level of detail required in a novel. The nature of that world is exceptionally grisly. Do I really want to go there? I haven’t decided yet. It may be too dark, even for me.

 For more about Christina, check out www.christinahoag.com 

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Thank you Ms. Hoag for joining me today and sharing about your two novels.

 
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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Review-Of Books and Bagpipes


I'm making my way through my TBR pile.  From the author of multiple mystery series, Country Cooking School, Farmer's Market, Dangerous Type series comes the second in a new series comes The Scottish Bookshop Mystery Series.  I reviewed the debut book in the series, The Cracked Spine (click here).   Now let's look at the critical second book.


Author: Paige Shelton

Copyright: April 2017 (Minotaur) 317 pgs

Series: 2nd in Scottish Bookshop Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy Mystery

Main Character: Delaney Nichols, Expat and new employee at The Cracked Spine

Setting: Modern, Edinburgh Scotland

Obtained Through: Personal Purchase

Cover blurb:  "Delaney Nichols has settled so comfortably into her new life in Edinburgh that she truly feels it’s become more home than her once beloved Kansas. Her job at the Cracked Spine, a bookshop that specializes in rare manuscripts as well as other sundry valuable historical objects, is everything she had dreamed, with her new boss, Edwin MacAlister, entrusting her more and more with bigger jobs. Her latest task includes a trip to Castle Doune, a castle not far out of Edinburgh, to retrieve a hard-to-find edition of an old Scottish comic, an “Oor Wullie,” in a cloak and dagger transaction that Edwin has orchestrated.

While taking in the sights of the distant Highlands from the castle’s ramparts, Delaney is startled when she spots a sandal-clad foot at the other end of the roof. Unfortunately, the foot’s owner is very much dead and, based on the William Wallace costume he’s wearing, perfectly matches the description of the man who was supposed to bring the Oor Wullie. As Delaney rushes to call off some approaching tourists and find the police, she comes across the Oor Wullie, its pages torn and fluttering around a side wall of the castle. Instinct tells her to take the pages and hide them under her jacket. It’s not until she returns to the Cracked Spine that she realizes just how complicated this story is and endeavors to untangle the tricky plot of why someone wanted this man dead, all before getting herself booked for murder."

Delaney Nichols is a few months into her transatlantic relocation.  She has made new friends and settled into her job - feeling her co-workers are members of her new family including:  her boss, Edwin MacAlister, who is still just as secretive as before, Rosie and 19-year old Hamlet.  Tom is the bartender from across the street and the romantic interest.  Elias is a cab-driver who is also Delaney's landlord.

Castle Doune is a great atmospheric location to find a body.  All of the locations in and around Edinburgh are used to great effect.  The plot is murky throughout with no clear motive and thus suspects are pure guesswork which allows for twists as the reader is along for the ride.  The only semi-clear aspect is that it all has to do with Delaney's boss and his college days with two close friends.  The pacing was maintained with ongoing clues dribbled out.  The killer reveal was tense, my favorite.  The wrapup goes through the many twists and explains the nuances. 
 

I enjoy this series and its basic premise.  Delaney is a fun main character and this book had many twists.  The motive was a surprise for me.  This is probably not a mystery you can figure out ahead since the final pieces about the motive only surface at the killer reveal.  Elias and his over-protectiveness is getting a little too much since he and his wife are just friends and landlords.  The subplot of the romance with bartender Tom is so lukewarm and without chemistry that I barely remember their interactions.  Some may appreciate the romance taking such a backseat.  I appreciate how I feel so immersed in Scotland throughout the story.

Rating:  Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list 





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Monday, April 9, 2018

Author Guest Post - Marni Graff

Please welcome Marni Graff, the award-winning author of The Nora Tierney English Mysteries and The Trudy Genova Manhattan Mysteries. I always enjoy learning more about the settings and how they are used in the story and this one has a well known location.

Setting Inspiration

Although I’ve lived in rural North Carolina for the past 21 years, I’m a native New Yorker. The allure and glitz of Manhattan is never far from my memories of my favorite nursing position years ago as a medical consultant for a movie studio, which inspired my second series, The Trudy Genova Manhattan Mysteries.

Trudy now has that job and the first book in the series, Death Unscripted, took place on the set of soap opera filmed for the internet in the studio where I worked with the cast and crew of One Life to Live. When I decided the next mystery would revolve around Trudy’s work on a television movie, I needed a gothic building for the setting that would evoke that sense of mystery just by its very presence.

What better building to choose for Death of an Heiress than

the famed Dakota, the late 19th-century Victorian-Gothic apartment building, rumored to have its own ghost, that was the brainchild of Singer Sewing Machine magnate Edward Clark. On West 72nd and Central Park West, most people think of the Upper West Side luxury apartment building as the place where John Lennon lived and died, and in fact, Yoko Ono still lives there. With its 15-foot ceilings, elaborately carved mahogany woodwork and mantels, parquet flooring, and iron and marble staircases, there is always a waiting list for tenants. A special storage room exists for storing the original doors and fireplaces if a modern tenant wants to renovate to a contemporary design.

The Dakota’s luxurious apartments have never been empty. Lauren Bacall lived there for 53 years until her death, and it has been the home to many of the rich and famous, who include Rudolf Nureyev, the Steinway family, Rosemary Clooney, Boris Karloff, Gilda Radner, Judy Garland and Carson McCullers. Its cooperative board is even more famous for those it would not allow to live at The Dakota, such as Billy Joel, Madonna, Carly Simon, Alex Rodriquez and Cher. No reasons are given, just a rejection on those applications.

Small wonder then, that when the floor plan of what used to be the home of Leonard Bernstein came into my possession, I decided this would be the perfect setting for where Trudy’s movie would be filmed. Trudy’s assignment is ostensibly first aid for the cast and crew, but the producers want her to watch over their star, in the early stages of a difficult pregnancy. When the actress disappears near the end of shooting and the male lead is found dead in the gorgeous paneled dining room, Trudy finds herself involved in the investigations.

The Dakota was used in the filming of Rosemary’s Baby, but only the exteriors were shot there in the large courtyard and coach entrance. A sound stage had to be built that mocked up the interior of the apartment where Rosemary lived, because in reality, The Dakota won’t allow any inside filming. Of course, in Trudy’s world, they will.

Ms. Graff also writes a crime review blog at www.auntiemwrites.com. Her books can be found at www.bridlepathpress.com and on Amazon, in trade paperback, Kindle and Audible.


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 THANK You Ms. Graff for that writeup about the famous Dakota featured in your novel.

 
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