Monday, March 02, 2015

Always Learning #cozymystery #writing

As I wander through this new genre that I am having a wonderful time writing, I'm discovering words that I had one perception of and learning how they should truly be used.

Coming Soon!
I belong to two very useful Yahoo groups. One is Sisters in Crime. They are an organization that brings together women and men who write mystery thriller and suspense books. On the loops we can ask all kinds of questions dealing with murders, police procedures, and the business of writing.  The other loop is Crimescene. They aren't an organization like Sisters in Crime. This group is made up of writers of mystery, crime, thriller and suspense books and professionals: lawyers, policemen, doctors, nurses, medical examiners, former FBI agents--you get the picture.  This loop is wonderful for putting out the scenario of the book or asking particular questions about apprehending and the forensics.

My favorite place to ask police questions is my son-in-law who is in law enforcement. It keeps him on his toes when I ask questions. ;)

One of my characters in my mystery series is a sheriff department detective. I want to make sure he uses the proper words for things and just the other day Lee Lofland, one of the main contributors to the Crimescene loop and the Sisters in Crime loop, had a good article on his blog about the difference between using the word murder and homicide. I read this with interest and now have to go back through my current project and reword some of my detective's dialog and inner thoughts. ;)

From my son-in law I discovered how a warrant is asked for and issued. A procedure I wanted in the book.
This is the best part about being a writer! I love learning. Always have. Writing books I am constantly learning new things and expanding my horizons. I love being a writer!

What is the best part about a job you love?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tarnished Remains #cozymystery

Last week, the same day as I needed to post my Written Fireside story, Tarnished Remains released. It is book two of the Shandra Higheagle Mystery Series.

Tarnished Remains Blurb

Shandra Higheagle is digging up clay for her renowned pottery when she scoops up a boot attached to a skeleton. She calls in Weippe County detective Ryan Greer.  The body is decades old and discovered to be Shandra’s employee’s old flame.

Ryan immediately pegs Shandra’s employee for the murderer, but Shandra knows in her heart that the woman everyone calls Crazy Lil couldn’t have killed anyone, let alone a man she loved.

Digging up the woman’s past takes them down a road of greed, miscommunication, and deceit.  Will they be able to prove Crazy Lil innocent before the true murderer strikes again? 

Chapter One
Shandra Higheagle leaned on the shovel handle, staring into the pine forest to her right. She loved her excursions up Huckleberry Mountain to collect clay. She’d purchased this land two years ago for this pocket of clay. The yellowish mud, when cleaned and purified, enhanced her art. Using Mother Nature’s bounty to make her inspirations come to life enriched the overall appearance and authenticity of her work. That she used natural clay and formed pottery as her ancestors once had, made her pieces unique and sought after.
Enough musing and wasting time. She raised the shovel, sunk the metal blade into the ground six inches, and pulled out a shovel full of yellow clay. The packed soil held enough moisture to cling to the shovel. She knocked the blade against the top of the bucket, dropping the clay in. A good shove with her foot set the spade into the ground for another scoop. The metal grated on something hard; possibly a rock. She’d hit a few while digging clay in this pocket.
Wiggling the shovel, she shoved again and pulled up another chunk of clay. Her artistic imagination saw a chunk on the side that resembled the shape of a cowboy boot heel. Shandra chuckled at her imagination and knocked the shovel against her plastic bucket. The chunk broke apart and a boot heel fell to the outside of the bucket.
Shandra eased down onto her knees beside the bucket. Using her trowel, she broke up the rest of the chunk. Nothing.
Perhaps someone—years ago—while riding or hiking up here lost a boot heel.
She stood, picked up the shovel, and sunk the blade into the ground not far from the last scoop.
Instead of the usual high pitched zing of the metal slicing through the soil, there was the sound of a stick breaking. She shoved the blade farther with her booted foot. Another crunch, and she shoved down on the handle, freeing a section of clay larger than her usual scoopful.
Tingles raced up her spine at the sight of something white sticking out of the clay. She lifted and tipped the shovel, dumping the clod on the ground.
Her dead Nez Perce grandmother’s face flashed through her mind.
“Ella, what have I stumbled onto?” Shandra asked her grandmother.
She picked up her trowel and knelt beside the chunk of clay. Slow, small cuts with the trowel soon revealed she’d dug up a leather cowboy boot with intricate detailing and the foot it encased.
She’d made a thorough search of all the Native American burial grounds before purchasing this ranch on Huckleberry Mountain. There wasn’t any record of an Indian burial ground on the property. She’d made certain. With that information, and seeing the detail on the boot, she was pretty sure this wasn’t an Indian.
Reaching into her back pocket, Shandra slid her cell phone out. One faint bar of coverage up here.
Nine-one-one or Detective Ryan Greer?
Admitting to herself she wouldn’t mind seeing the detective again, she punched in his number. They’d met a month ago when she’d been a suspect in a gallery owner’s murder. They’d come away from the event friends. She also wasn’t shy to admit, she’d like to explore her friendship with the handsome detective a little more. They’d spent several days after his last case in Huckleberry talking, riding horses, and getting to know more about one another. She hadn’t heard from him in several weeks.
“Detective Greer.”
“Ryan, it’s Shandra Higheagle—”
“Shandra, I’ve been meaning to call you. Work has been dragging me out in the early hours and dropping me into bed close to midnight.”
She smiled at his boyish need to explain why he hadn’t called. “I’m afraid I’m going to add to your work.”
“Don’t tell me you found another dead body,” he said in a joking tone.
“I’m afraid I did.”
“Where? Are you in danger?” His demeanor went from joking to all business.
The sound of tires dragging against gravel proved he was out in his SUV somewhere in Weippe County.
“I’m on my property digging clay. No, I’m not in danger. This person looks to have been here a while.” She gave him all the details.
“I’ll be there in an hour. Don’t do any more digging.”
His siren shrilled in the background.
“Go to the ranch and have Lil bring you up.”
“Will do.”
Shandra closed her phone and stared down at the bone and the leather boot. “Who are you and why are you on this mountain?”
Even though Ryan told her not to dig any more, her curiosity got the better of her. At least she’d read enough about archeological digs and even helped out at one in high school to know to use her hands and go slow to not damage any evidence.
In the time it would take Ryan to get here, she could have something more than a foot and boot for him to investigate.
Ryan pulled into Shandra’s ranch, his siren still shrieking and lights flashing. The serene cabin and studio in the middle of the forest made him feel like an interloper. He switched off the lights and siren immediately and then the engine.
Crazy Lil, Shandra’s hired hand, approached the car with a scowl. “What you scarin’ all the animals for?”
Ryan stepped out of the vehicle. Crazy Lil’s head came to the middle of his chest. For a small woman she gave off a larger presence. He knew little about the woman other than she worked for Shandra Higheagle and all the locals called her Crazy Lil—but not her employer.
He’d met Shandra under the worst of circumstances a month ago when an overzealous newbie tried to arrest her for murder when she was found in the same room as a recently murdered gallery owner.
His heart picked up pace remembering his first encounter with the intriguing woman and the days they spent together after he solved the case.
“Wanna wipe that grin off your lips and tell me why you came screaming in here?” Crazy Lil smacked him in his solar plexus, causing air to whoosh between his teeth and lips.
“There’s no need to hit an officer of the law,” he snapped, rubbing his chest. “Shandra called. Said she found a body and wanted me to come check it out.”
The woman’s face paled. “A body?”
“Yes. She said to have you bring me to her. She found it where she collects clay.” Ryan waved to the passenger side of his SUV. “Hop in.”
Crazy Lil shook her head. “Can’t get there with a vehicle. Have to ride a horse.”
“How does Shandra bring down the clay?” He knew the woman was tenacious, but he couldn’t see her packing buckets of clay off the mountain.
“She’s got horses.” Crazy Lil rolled her eyes and turned toward the barn and corrals. “You can ride Oliver.” She whistled.
One horse trotted to the corral railing and hung his head over. He had some age on him judging from the gray in his red coat and the sway in his back. Ryan might have worked in the big city of Chicago, but he grew up on a ranch forty miles from this mountain. He knew horses, and he knew how to ride.
“I don’t think that sorrel will make it up the mountain without someone on his back. Let alone carrying me.” He waited for a response from the woman.
She spun about. “You gonna talk or you gonna help me saddle up the horses?”
Ryan studied the woman marching into the barn. She was either an ornery, abrupt, no-nonsense person or socially inept. Given what Shandra had said about the woman growing up on the ranch and rarely leaving, he’d go with socially inept.
He hustled into the barn behind the woman and was relieved to see two younger, spryer geldings in stalls. One was the horse he’d rode when Shandra gave him a tour of her property.
“Do I get Duke? He and I got along fine the last time I rode him.” He walked to the stall with the bay horse, hanging a wide, white-blazed face over the gate.
“You might as well, you aren’t riding my horse.” Crazy Lil pointed to a saddle hanging over a stand. “Use that one.”
Ryan picked up the halter hanging by Duke’s stall and opened the gate. “Hey boy, remember me?”
Fifteen minutes later, Ryan had Duke tacked up and his gear stowed on the saddle. He threw a leg over his mount and followed Crazy Lil up the side of the mountain. This was his first trek into the mountains for a body. He hoped whatever Shandra had stumbled into didn’t get her caught up in trouble. The woman seemed to be a magnet for murder.

Buy Links: print $9.99  ebook $3.99

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Be Mine, Marshal Part Two by Paty Jager

This is part two of a round robin western historical romance Free Read. To read part one go to: Written Fireside and read Part One by Lori Connelly.

Written Fireside: Be Mine, Marshal
(A Cold Spring Valentine Short Story)
Part Two
Near the Canadian/US border
East of Cold Spring, Idaho
The Broken C Ranch
February 1871

Fannie stared at the blood on her hand and Sophie. The dog had escaped the burning barn, but what happened to her after that?
“Let me take a look.” Marshal Reid crouched beside her and Sophie, gently parting the hair on the dog’s neck. “Looks like someone either took a shot at her or sliced her with a knife.” He leaned closer, spreading the hair even more.
Sophie yelped.
Fannie swung her arm. “Don’t hurt her!” She connected with the marshal’s jaw.
“Ow!” He grasped Fannie’s arm, holding it still. “There’s no need to hit me. I’m only trying to decide if she needs stitches.”
Her stomach churned. “Stitches? Will she bleed to death?’ Sophie had been her companion since her parents’ death. All she had for family was Grandfather and Sophie. Her gaze took in the puppies; Sassy, Ringo, Mopsie, Gracie, Buster and Meisha.
“No, but it wouldn’t hurt to get her to town and let the barber take a look at her.” The marshal stood and peered around him.
“What are you looking for and why should the barber take a look at her?” Fannie remained on the floor petting her dog. Staring up at the lawman, she took her time to really look at him. She generally preferred dark-haired men, but there was something about the marshal’s caramel colored curls, pale-green eyes, and the dimple in his chin that caught her attention. 
“I’m looking for a something to load them pups in for the trip to town.”
Roger, who she’d completely forgot about, stepped forward. “There’s a crate behind the house that Mrs. Layton dropped off some preserves in.”
“Get it,” Marshal Reid said, removing the dark-green scarf tied around his neck.
“What is that for?” she asked.
Marshal Reid crouched beside her again and wrapped the scarf around Sophie’s neck. “To stop some of the bleeding.”
“Why do you think this was caused by a bullet or knife? She’s had cuts before from running through the bushes and farm equipment.”
“This cut goes across her neck, not the length of her neck, like she’d get crawling through something. And it’s too deep to be caused by accident.” He stood again. “Do you have a buggy or wagon you can haul her to town in?”
Fannie stood. “Yes.”
“Show me which horse to hitch to it.” Marshal Reid used his long legs to carry him toward the barn.
Fannie hitched up her skirts and trotted behind him. “Why did you ask about a barber?” His hair did curl over the collar of his coat, but it seemed an odd question at the moment.
“To stitch up Sophie.”
She grabbed the back of his shearling coat. “Why would a barber stitch up Sophie? We have a doctor in Cold Spring.”
He stopped and pivoted toward her. “You do? I was told Cold Spring needed cleaned up and assumed it was no more than a shanty town.”
“That’s what you get for assuming. Miss Laurel-Anne Hartworth is the doctor.” She wasn’t going to tell him that Miss Laurel-Anne was taught by her daddy and had brought Fannie into the world twenty-two years ago.
“There aren’t any women doctors.” He stared at her like she’d just smeared a cow pie on her face.
“Well don’t tell that to Miss Laurel-Anne.” Fannie hurried ahead of the marshal and straight to the corral where Georgia stood with one hind hoof cocked, her eyes half closed.
Marshal Reid caught up to her. “Buggy or wagon?”
“Georgia pulls the buggy Grandfather purchased years ago for my grandmother. She didn’t like to ride horses.” Fannie moved aside as Marshal Reid caught Georgia.
Fannie walked to the barn and threw the double doors open. She loved driving the buggy. Grandfather insisted on going to church in the buggy once a month when his health allowed. They hadn’t made that trip since the winter weather hit and Grandfather’s breathing worsened.

The marshal led Georgia over to the harness hanging on the wall. “Tell me about the people you believe set fire to the building over the hill.” 

You can find Part Three next Tuesday, February 17th at Julie Cerniglia Lence

Other writers adding to the story are:
Written Fireside: Schedule:
Tuesday Feb.   3rd - Lori Connelly
Tuesday Feb.  10th - Paty Jager  
Tuesday Feb.  17th - Julie Cerniglia Lence
Tuesday Feb.  24th - Susan Horsnell
Tuesday March  3rd - Aileen Harkwood
Tuesday March 10th - AJ Nuest
Tuesday March 17th - Mandy Baggot
Tuesday March 24th - Kathleen Rice Adams     

Tuesday March 31st - Kari Lemor

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Alphabetize or Categorize

That's the question at the moment.

I have empty bookcases that are aching to be used. My books are still boxed up. I hope to get them into the house this weekend and start placing them on the hallowed shelves. There is nothing that warms the cockles of my heart like seeing my bookcases full of books.

Most of my books are for research. I have two shelves on Native Americans, one shelf on murder, three or four on American history, one on cowboys/western life in the 1800's.And one shelf on Mayan and Aztec cultures. As you can tell most of my research reflects what I like to write about.

And I can't forget the shelf that has the "how to" writing books.

I also have several cool rock bookends and with my Native American art I purchased this summer I hope to also add a few of those knick knacks to the shelves.

I'm looking forward to unpacking my books and putting them on the shelves. Before I just had the books placed on the shelves with like books, this time I'll put them in the category they belong in and alphabetize them. It will make finding and replacing them much easier.

Speaking of the Native American art... I stare at the walls in my office trying to decide where I want to put the Sun God, where the three warriors picture should go and how to hang the tomahawk. Should it hang or should I put up a shelf for it and the pottery? Decisions, decisions. And I still need to write!