Saturday, May 20, 2017

Master Plan

This is a post that I had on a blog tour for one of my books. I thought my readers and followers might enjoy it.

I’ve been drawn to mystery for a long time.  The cat and mouse game the writer plays with the readers, keeping them guessing is my favorite part. I love it when a writer fools me, and yet, when I think back over the story, it was there all along.  
That is what I try to do in my Shandra Higheagle Mysteries.  I start out with who was killed and how. Which means, I must know that person’s background and why someone might have wanted them dead. The how can change as I start lining up my suspects. The how may have been one way in the beginning but as I list the suspects, their motive and opportunity, sometimes the how must change to fit the opportunity.

I have what I call a suspect chart that I use when listing the suspects. The columns are: Victim – Death- Suspect-Motive- Red herring.  Suspect and motive are self-explanatory. The Red herring is what the character did or didn’t do that makes them look like a suspect. I usually have anywhere from 5 to 7 suspects. Using this chart helps me to keep the story moving forward. I use the red herrings and motives as the information in each scene that keeps the story going forward and the sleuths following clues. 

Red Herring
John Doe

Gang member
Has a criminal record for stabbing people

While this all sounds like I have my book all planned out, I don’t. Of the 7 Shandra Higheagle mysteries I’ve only written 2 where the killer stayed the same from the suspect chart to the end. As I write the book other secondary characters enter the story. What they see and do changes what I thought happened in the beginning processes. 

One of the wonderful things about writing, and writing mystery, is how my mind can have me write a character doing something, and at the time I don’t know why, then later on it is connected to the story in such a way it makes a huge impact on the outcome. 

In my stories, I also have dreams that play a role in how the main character, Shanda Higheagle, helps to solve the murder. Sometimes the dreams are explicit enough she can help guide Detective Ryan to the clues and murderer. Other times, she is too close to the situation and can’t figure it out. However, if the reader really thinks about the dreams, they could figure out who the killer is.  There are times I need to add a dream to the story, but I’m not sure what I want to show. When that happens, I quit for the day and find other things to do, and usually, out of nowhere, the dream will come to me.  It is either a foreshadowing of what’s to come or a cryptic message about who the killer is. You can go here to discover more about Shandra, her deceased grandmother, and her dreams.

The latest Shandra Higheagle book, Fatal Fall, will release May 25th,

When the doctor is a no-show for her appointment, Shandra Higheagle becomes wrapped up in another murder. The death of the doctor’s elderly aunt has everyone questioning what happened and who’s to blame. Shandra’s dreams soon tell her she’s on the right path, but also suggests her best friend could be grave danger. 

Detective Ryan Greer knows not even an illness will keep Shandra from sneaking around, and he appreciates that. Her insight is invaluable. When she becomes embroiled deeper in the investigation, he stakes out the crime scene and waits for the murder to make a tell-all mistake.

But will he be able to act fast enough to keep Shandra or her friend from being the next victim?

Monday, May 15, 2017

22 days and counting!

Yes, in 22 days I'll be headed to Deadwood, South Dakota to participate in the first Wild Deadwood Reads. There are over 50 authors signed up to participate in the book signing Saturday, June 10th at the Gold Dust Casino.  There are children's authors, Sci-fi, mystery, thriller, romance, non-ficiton. You name the genre and there is an author there who writes it.

Not only is there a book signing, but on Friday authors have sponsored buses to take groups to Mount Rushmore and the 1880's Black Hills train. There are also ghost tours being sponosored by authors and the PBR Rodeo Friday night. It's a fun-filled weekend packed with fun things to do and an author event that should have have a book for any reader.

I'm one of the sponsors of a bus ride to the 1880's Train Ride. It's an hour ride to and from the train and we've put together a Bingo game for on the way to the event and a BlackJack game for on the way back. The authors sponsoring the bus will have prizes we're giving to the winners of the games.

Then Friday night I'm also one of the rodeo sponsor authors. We pitched in to make a section of the seating half price for readers attending the event, and we'll be doing a pre-rodeo gathering at the section and a bar hop after the rodeo. You'll be able to find the sponsoring authors by their cowboy hats with red bandanas and an WDR pin.

I'm hoping to do a bit of sightseeing and research while back there but the trip will be a quick one as I have to get back home to get ready for a family reunion I'm in charge of 10 days after I return! And I have family visiting before the reunion. June will be a busy month for me. Other than the Wild Deadwood REads you may not see much of me here. If you want to keep up with my daily happenings you can join my Paty's Posse Facebook Page.  or my author facebook page. It's easy to share things on these than try to write a whole blog while I'm attending an event.

If you're going to be in the area and would like free admission tickets to the book signing contact me. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Quilts, Color, and Mollusks

I want to keep up a blogging presence but I find it hard to put up two posts a week if I don't get it done ahead of time. 

This is a reprint from a guest blog on Anastasia Pollock's blog.

I’m a crafty person both in hobbies and in killing off characters in my action adventure and mystery writing.

One of my hobbies is sewing and making quilt tops. I don’t make near as many as the avid quilter, but I enjoy the process of picking fabrics and putting them together in an eye-pleasing pattern.  The type I like best are baby quilts. They go together faster, and I can pick out fabrics that are fun for not only a baby but the parents, too.

For instance, I had a friend who is a cowgirl at heart and her husband likes old cars. I knew she was having a boy, so I found vintage looking western and car fabric to make the quilt out of. That to me is the fun part, making something that fits a person’s personality
Right now I have a “sunflower” themed quilt that I am sewing together. It’s for me. Sunflowers put a smile on my face and the bright colors that are in the fabrics I picked shout summer and good times to me.

I’m a bright colors kind of person and while researching the Maya for my book Secrets of a Mayan Moon, I discovered some great information about how they dyed their woven fabrics, papers, and even the clay they used. 
The color red came from a tree called brazilwood. The wood was boiled in water to remove the dye. Another source for red came from the cochineal. This is an insect that eats prickly pear cactus. The insects were collected, put in hot water, steamed, or baked; then dried and crushed.

The fruit of the avocado was used to dye cloth green.

Yellow dye came from the blackberry plant, not the berry.

The indigo plant was broken into pieces and boiled to make blue dye and a clay was boiled with cloth to make blue cloth.

Purple came from blackberries which made a deep purple. Wood of the logwood plant gave off a black purple, and the glands of several species of mollusk also gave the Maya a purple dye.
Black was made by grinding the seeds of a genipa tree. 

Blurb: Secrets of a Mayan Moon
Child prodigy and now Doctor of Anthropology, Isabella Mumphrey, is about to lose her job at the university. In the world of publish or perish, her mentor’s request for her assistance on a dig is just the opportunity she’s been seeking. If she can decipher an ancient stone table—and she can—she’ll keep her department. She heads to Guatemala, but drug trafficking bad guys, artifact thieves, and her infatuation for her handsome guide wreak havoc on her scholarly intentions.

DEA agent Tino Kosta, is out to avenge the deaths of his family. He’s deep undercover as a jaguar tracker and sometimes jungle guide, but the appearance of a beautiful, brainy anthropologist heats his Latin blood taking him on a dangerous detour that could leave them both casualties of the jungle.

Secrets of a Mayan Moon is available at Windtree Press, Kindle, Nook  Kobo Apple