10-03 Paty Jager
Spirit Trilogy (Wolf, Elk, and Eagle)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Shapeshifter – One that seems able to change form at will.

Miriam Webster’s Dictionary definition of Shapeshifter - one that seems able to change form or identity at will; especially :  a mythical figure that can assume different forms (as of animals)

Growing up in an area rich in Native American history I have always been curious and empathetic to the band of Nez Perce who summered in Wallowa County many generations before Lewis and Clark entered their lives. This fascination and believing I encountered a Nez Perce spirit warrior one summer while I was riding my horse on the mountain behind our house, gave me the inspiration for a trilogy about three sibling shapeshifting, Nez Perce spirits.

I read several book with Nez Perce myths and legends as well as nonfiction books on how the Nez Perce lived and their beliefs.  Using the myths and legends I came up with the sibling shapeshifters. They were taken from their Nez Perce or Nimiipuu(as they call themselves) band by the Creator. Their father had chosen cowardice over the lives of his fellow band members. By sacrificing the men of his band he made his children scorned by the people. The Creator took them and made them spirits to look over the Lake band of the Nimiipuu. As spirits they can shift into shapes at will or enter other animal bodies to keep the Lake Nimiipuu safe.

The oldest brother I gave the shape of a white wolf. He traveled over the mountain by the Lake where the Nimiipuu summered. Because of his trouble holding his anger and his need to avenge his father’s cowardice, he was forbid to leave the mountain. To leave the mountain he would become nothing but smoke. In his story, Spirit of the Mountain, he must let the mortal maiden he loves go with another off the mountain.

The middle sibling and second brother takes on the shape of a great bull elk. I came up with his animal from a legend I’d heard growing up and read in several of the myth and legend books. As an elk he lived in the lake. The legend says that a great antlered beast lives in Wallowa Lake.  When the Nimiipuu children were bad they were told the great beast would come out of the lake and take them. There was a winter when historians believe a herd of elk tried crossing the frozen lake and the ice broke. They fell in and their antlers remained up above the ice and that is what started the legend.  This elk spirit is the playful, light-hearted sibling. Which infuriates the older, serious wolf spirit. Wewukiye’s book is Spirit of the Lake.

The third sibling, the sister, travels about as a bald eagle. She soars in the sky and is the only one who can converse with the Creator. She sees more and is the most adamant about not allowing the mortals to know they exist or to show themselves to the mortals. Her book is Spirit of the Sky.
The spirit entity in these books is all a figment of my imagination, but it felt real to me. My fascination with the Native American culture, their healing herbs, chants, legends, myths, and vision quest all primed my imagination when I came up with the spirit siblings who are the main characters in the books.

While my shapeshifters do shift into animals there are other writers who have shapeshifters that defy Websters definition. One of those authors is Marie Harte. I asked her why she liked to write shapeshifters. This is what she had to say:
There's a wild quality to a shapeshifter that's both sexy and frightening. That uncontrollable aspect to a hero can be sexy. Will he be ruled by his heart or his instincts? And will that rugged side hurt or help him when it comes to finding a mate? I love female shapeshifters because that power to shift forms gives them an extra butt-kicking factor that I love in my leading ladies. Mentally, women can be as tough, if not tougher, than men. But physically men have a biological advantage.That's not necessarily the case when the heroine can grow fangs and claws of her own.

And this is what she had to say about her shapeshifter books and how she has bent the norm on shapeshifters:
I have a few shapeshifter series out. My Cougar Falls and Mark of Lycos series are more traditional, with the shapeshifters turning into animals. But my Circe's Recruits and Dawn Endeavor series involve a different type of shifter. I threw together the military, gene experimentation, government conspiracies, and found a group of men and women who shift into creatures neither man nor beast, but a mix of both. It's been a really fun ride, and I have a new book in the Circe's Recruits series arriving soon--Circe's Recruits: Gideon. His was supposed to be one follow-on book. Instead it looks like Gideon is starting a new series of his own. *sigh* Those Circs are so difficult to control.

Marie's books prove, a writer, with the right incentive and creativity can make any type of shapeshifter "real" in the reader's mind. http://marieharte.com/books/gideon/

Have you read any shapeshifter books?  If so, what were they and what did you like about them?
About Paty Jager
Award-winning author Paty Jager and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. On her road to publication she wrote freelance articles for two local newspapers and enjoyed her job with the County Extension service as a 4-H Program Assistant. Raising hay and cattle, riding horses, and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Her penchant for research takes her on side trips that eventually turn into yet another story. She recently returned to the genre of her heart- Mystery.

You can learn more about Paty at
her website; http://www.patyjager.net  
Newsletter: Paty’s Prattle: http://eepurl.com/1CFgX
twitter  @patyjag.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Another view of Magic

There is magic and there is magick and while this month’s topic is “Magic”, I want to stray from the general consensus of what that word means when most people see it regardless of spelling.

The day before I wrote this I spent a magical couple of hours with my baby great granddaughter. At three and a half months, she is taking stock of the world around her, smiling, and beginning to “talk”. She has a delightful laugh. Even though I worked in adoptions for thirty years, I still see the developmental process from the ‘blobby baby stage’ to adult magical.

Later that same day I happened to look out my kitchen window at the Armistead salvia along my driveway in time to see a hummingbird stop by to visit. I find hummingbirds a magical bird and I can’t remember a time when I’ve seen one in person that I haven’t stopped and smiled.

The day I did write this post, I was thinking of someone and my phone rang. Yep, it was the person I was thinking about.

When I see my books on e-retailer sites or on the shelves in brick and mortar book stores, that is a magical experience.

I did that! I wrote them and worked to learn the software to get them out to the public.

What’s even more magical is seeing them sell!!!

A friend of mine once asked me how I can live so simply. I was confused but she went on to talk about my commitment to recycling in particular. We talked about how we each see the world. She is a devout Christian who sees God as separate from her but who she has taken into her heart.

I see the Divine in everything and everyone around me. So I’m aware of my footprint on the earth. I pay attention to the cycle of the moon and seasons. In comparison to many, I trod heavily. For example I do drive a car but I do plan my errands so I only go out a couple of times a week.

Because of my interpretation of the word “magic” I include such things as “synchronicity” and in addition to blogging here, I also post every Monday on my Judith Ashley blog “Intentions and Synchronicities”.

Judith is the author of The Sacred Women’s Circle series romantic fiction that honors spiritual practices that nourish the soul.

Learn more about The Sacred Women’s Circle here.

Visit Judith’s author page.

Judith’s books are available at Windtree Press and other e-retailers.

Follow Judith on Twitter: @JudithAshley19

You can find Judith on Facebook 


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Eton College During the Regency Era

I’m busy gearing up for the release of  book #4 in my USA Today Bestselling Regency romance, Disgraced Lords series, A WHISPER OF DESIRE (available for pre-order). The Disgraced Lords series is about a group of lords named the Libertine Scholars, who met at Eton College.
Eton College is an all-boy boarding school established by King Henry VIII (1491-1541).

I thought I’d give you all some background on what Eton would have been like for them in the early 1800’s. What did leaving home mean to these young boys, and how did the halls of Eton shape their characters and friendships.

For instance, the Duke of Wellington is often incorrectly quoted as saying that "The Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton" when referring to the strength of character of the men who went to school there. Wellington was at Eton from 1781 to 1784 and was to send his sons there. Until recently, most of Great Britain’s prime ministers came from Eton or Harrow. Schools like Eton and Harrow used to teach their boys how to run the British Empire and they helped to maintain the class system.

During the Regency era, boys as young as thirteen were sent to Eton to board either in the College itself, or they lodged in the town in what became known as ‘Dame’s Houses’ with a landlady or ‘Dame’ overseeing the house.  By the early 1800’s there were about thirteen houses connected with the college, and increasingly the responsibility for running them fell to masters as much as to the dames. Can you imagine how open to abuse and other atrocities this set up produced? Most boys were left to fend for themselves.

School life was very regimented. The school day often ran from six in the morning until eight at night with maybe an hour in the day to play sports. Most teaching was done in Latin. The school originally had two terms or ‘halves’ as they were called, only two holidays, each of three weeks duration at Christmas (when the scholars remained at Eton) and in the Summer. These holidays divided the school year into two “halves” a word which has survived despite the change to a three-term year in the 18th century. So, you can see how the boys would become firm friends because they only went home for a few weeks each year. 

Discipline was harsh. Offending boys could be summoned to the Head Master or the Lower Master, as appropriate, to receive a birching on the bare posterior, in a semi-public ceremony held in the Library, where there was a special wooden birching block over which the offender was held. I can see a how this could also be abused by sadistic men who were teaching boys who will become their betters. Parents rarely visited and no real inspections were taken as to conditions until 1861.

The Libertine Scholars lived in one ‘Dames House’. That’s how they met. Bullying was rife, as it is in most schools, but of course it was much worse in the Regency era as Masters turned a blind eye and the Dames did not want to see what went on.

These Masters, and the boy’s peers, were really the people who shaped their lives. They spent more time at Eton than they did in their own homes in their teenage years.

Remember, news from home would be via letters only, no phones in those days. No Skype to see how they were being treated, and I’m sure their mail could have been intercepted if the College as afraid of certain details getting home to parents. Mail was slow and often took days or weeks to get to the boys. There was no one to help you, except those you befriended. It’s not surprising that these friendships were strong and lasted throughout their lives, well into adulthood.

I’d like to think Eton College taught my Libertine Scholars about the value of friendship, loyalty, and honor.

Sensual heat melts the ice in the new Disgraced Lords novel from USA Today bestselling author Bronwen Evans, as a marriage of convenience leads to delightful pleasure—and mortal danger.

Lady Marisa Hawkstone’s nightmare is just beginning when she wakes up naked, with no memory of the night before, lying next to Maitland Spencer, the Duke of Lyttleton—a man so aloof and rational he’s nicknamed “the Cold Duke.” A scandal ensues, in which Marisa’s beloved beau deserts her. As a compromised woman, Marisa agrees to marry Maitland. But on her wedding night, Marisa discovers the one place the duke shows emotion: in the bedroom, where the man positively scorches the sheets.

Taught from a young age to take duty seriously, Maitland cannot understand his new wife’s demands on his love and affection. Marisa’s hot-blooded spirit, however, does have its attractions—especially at night. In retrospect, it seems quite silly that he didn’t marry sooner. But being one of the Libertine Scholars requires constant vigilance, even more so when the enemy with a grudge against his closest friends targets Marisa. Now Maitland must save the woman who sets his heart aflame—or die trying.

Amazon          B&N               iBooks             Kobo 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Isle of Skye by Courtney Pierce

September 28, 2015:

This month the country paused to remember the fourteenth anniversary of 9/11. I’d like to share a short story that kept the tragic event in perspective for me. After all, the seeds of strife yield flowers of determination and hope for the future. While the disaster challenged our view of the world, it also highlighted the good in people, brought strangers together from other cultures, and reminded us that freedom closes the distance between continents. My husband and I took a trip overseas in the midst of the chaos. To overcome our fear, we refused to change our plans. As Jodie Foster insisted in the movie Contact, we were “Okay to go.”


The bridge from Inverness ushered us to the Isle of Skye. Scotland is a magical place. My husband Wayne and I took this trip in the fall of 2001, with the debris of the Twin Towers still smoking in New York. We welcomed a two-week break from the ugly realities of modern life: no television, no newspapers, e-mail, cell phones, or the relentless attempts of the media to fuel our sense of terror. Thank God we couldn’t get a signal.

Few places on earth existed where nothing had changed for a thousand years, and this island off the Scottish coast was one of them. Ancient wars and bloody battles had scarred the land, remnant mounds of which could still be seen, but those old wounds continued to strengthen the resolve of its people to be better, live better, and open their arms to strangers. A violent history had created a uniquely peaceful culture.

Every turn of the road offered an inspiring view of jagged emerald hills surrounded by white-capped water, the color of indigo ink. Our heads swiveled beyond what our jet-lagged neck muscles allowed.

Excited to experience the solitude up close, we pulled the rental car to a vista point. Ancient stones harvested from history lined the curved edge, making it a perfect spot to take in the landscape. On a jetty over the water, we gazed at Eilean Donan Castle, a 13th century gem weathered by Celtic wars too numerous to count. Hollywood had romanticized the site, including in one film with Sean Connery. The original castle had been built by Alexander II as a defense against the Vikings. So another story goes, the owner was chief of the Matheson clan and had acquired his wealth and fame from his ability to communicate with birds. A living, breathing fairy tale. An earthy aroma of peat moss filled the air.

“Can’t you imagine Maid Marian waving to Robin from up there?” I said to Wayne, and pointed to the tower dotted with small slits, only wide enough to shoot an arrow.

“Like a storybook with a whole new meaning,” he said, "especially now."

We went quiet. Our voices sounded sacrilegious in such a reverent place. Sheep grazed on the rocky hills across the water, tended by a man with a walking stick and a bell. The delicate jingle skipped over the ripples of waves through sun-laced mist. We absorbed the history and breathed.

A curious vibration rumbled in my core. I grasped Wayne’s hand. He sensed it too; he tightened his fingers around mine. The air squeezed with an unexplained tension. I turned, wide-eyed, toward a steady roll of thunder that gained volume by the second. My heart knocked against my ribs. Something was happening.

Out of nowhere, three F-15 fighter jets shot in front of us in close formation, not more than thirty feet above the water. The planes soared straight up through the mist and disappeared. A deafening roar chased their trajectory and dissipated into the clouds. I didn’t even have time to cover my ears before the world went silent again.

“NATO jets,” Wayne said.

My eardrums tingled with a steady hum. “Has war been declared while we’ve been standing here?” 

Wayne pulled me to the car. “Let’s go into town and find out what’s going on.”

I slammed the door as Wayne revved the engine. Unable to eke out a word between us, we hugged the curves of the road toward the harbor. We skidded to a stop on the gravel in front of an inlet of bobbing fishing boats and a quaint waterfront restaurant. The hand-painted sign said, McCray’s. We’d get our news the old-fashioned way: words from the sea delivered to the mouth.

As the only customers, we fidgeted and took in the no-frills decor of the restaurant. A stocky, ruddy-faced woman of about fifty emerged from the kitchen and approached the table. Her cheeks were riddled with spidery veins from years of battering, frigid wind. I wanted her on my side if we were going to war. Behind her, two fishermen in yellow rubber boots clomped through the front door, each holding a plastic bin of flapping tails. Neither appeared worried about anything but fish.

“Be a jiff,” the server said, offering us no menus. “Dinner’s a-comin’ in.”

I cleared my throat and tried to act nonchalant, but my knees still knocked. “I have to ask. What were those jets we saw fifteen minutes ago over the loch? Has something happened?”

“Aye. Maneuvers, dear. The world, such as it ’tis.”

“We were terrified.”

“Och . . . No more than a motorized shield and sword.” She winked and headed back to the kitchen.

Courtney Pierce is a fiction writer living in Oregon with her husband of thirty-six years and bossy cat. She writes for baby boomers. Her novels are filled with heart, humor, and mystery. Courtney has studied craft and storytelling at the Attic Institute and has completed the Hawthorne Fellows Program for writing and publishing. She is also a board member of the Northwest Independent Writers Association and is active with Willamette Writers, Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and Sisters in Crime.

Colorful characters come alive in The Executrix, Courtney's first installment of the hilarious Dushane Sisters Trilogy. When three middle-age sisters find a manuscript for a murder mystery in their mother's safe, sibling blood will need to be thicker than baggage to find out if the story is fiction.  

Visit Courtney's website at www.courtney-pierce.com. Her books can be purchased at Windtree PressAmazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo Books, and at several independent bookstores in the Portland area.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

CozyMysteries, Then and Now by Kathleen Delaney

 When I was growing up I read everything I could get my hands on. They knew me on a first name basis at the Glendale, Ca library, and didn’t blink an eye when I graduated from the children’s section to the adult section way too early.

Most of the books I chose were mysteries, as it turns out, cozy mysteries. Only, back then, I had no idea that’s what they were called and if someone had told me, I wouldn’t have cared. I only knew I loved the puzzles, the rich story lines, the well-drawn characters, the lack of graphic gore and anything faintly resembling sex went on behind closed bedroom doors.

The very definition of a cozy mystery.

My particular favorites turned out to be those who featured an older protagonist, usually a spinster, who through her keen perception and logical turn of mind, figured out the mystery and set the police on the right track time after time. Miss Marple of course leaps to mind, but she wasn’t alone. Patricia Highsmith gave us Miss Silver, Mary Roberts Rinehart Hilda Adams, nurse extraordinaire. There were a number of them, and I loved them all. However, as I got older, my taste changed. So did the elderly ladies. I guess they went out of style, but the cozy mystery didn’t.

Gradually, this type of mystery settled into another pattern entirely. Now the protagonist was much younger, had a profession of some type but not a bloody one. Something like running a bakery or being a caterer, or keeping a shop that featured knitting, second hand clothes or herbs, or perhaps she ran a small hotel or bed and breakfast, or…you get the picture. She was usually unmarried but she wasn’t about to stay that way, so a little romance enlivened the pages along with a couple of murders.  While many of these stories were excellent, some of them didn’t seem as sharp, the puzzle as puzzling, the characters as interesting and I branched out into other types of books.  Maybe I was getting older. Police procedurals seemed challenging and thrillers were…thrilling.

However, when I finally gathered up enough courage to try my own hand at crafting a novel, I chose as my genre cozy mysteries and I wanted to return to the older protagonists.

In the first series I wrote, Ellen McKenzie, a recently divorced woman in her forties returns to her home town to start a new life and a new career as a real estate agent. Only in Hollywood does forty seemed old any more, but starting over is never easy and Ellen has her challenges. When there is the body of a man in the closet in the very first house you try to show, it gets your career off to a rocky start and things go downhill from there.

But in my new series, the Mary McGill Canine Mysteries, I have brought back a true senior citizen. It seems most of the books written with older people as protagonists today feature them in care facilities of some type and center on their walkers and wheelchairs. Mary McGill is in her seventies but she still organizes most of the town’s activities. If Mary is your chairperson, your event will run flawlessly. Or did until the Christmas Extravaganza. There is a dead man in the manger, a  black and white puppy beside him and two children witness a shadowy figure run out of the creche’. In the grand old tradition of the original cozy mystery Mary needs to keep the children safe, figure out why a black and white puppy was doing there  and solve the murder. A tall order. Is Mary up to the job? 
Read Purebred Dead and find out.

Mary McGill Canine Mysteries:
Purebred Dead
Curtains for Miss Plym

Friday, September 25, 2015

Tending Your Garden—and Your Writing

By Linda Lovely

Spring is easy for gardeners. Practically everything blooms. At least in the South, it’s hard to have a garden that doesn’t look gorgeous in April. Flower beds filled with crocuses, daffodils, and irises paired with feathery white dogwoods, azaleas in every hue, and purple rhododendron.

Autumn is tougher. Yes, I just bought a flat of pansies to give a splash of color that will last from now until next spring. But, since I like to get maximum payback on my elbow grease investment, I concentrate on planting perennials and bushes that flower at least twice a year.

Here are some of my garden favorites. These pictures were taken on September 20 in my yard. (Well, I did crop out a few nearby weeds.)

Miss Huff Lantana-Comes up faithfully every year and blooms for me until frost.
Variegated Liriope-Great edging to brighten a shady path. Hard to kill. Drought tolerant. Blooms late summer into fall. Year-round leaf color.
Encore Azaleas-Bloom twice a year. For me, fall is always the more prolific bloom period. Blooms last for WEEKS.
Knock Out Roses-Start blooming in May and keep right on chugging into October. Disease resistant and pretty forgiving. A beaver chewed my largest bush down to a couple of jagged stumps. Came back next season.
Orange Tea Olives-We have three kinds of tea olives in our yard. Terrific privacy hedge. The bushes (ours are about 10-feet tall now) have green glossy leaves year-round. PLUS they bloom multiple times a year, including right now. The smell especially from the fragrant variety is unbelievable and heavenly. 
Loropetalum-I love these bushes (can be trees) with their green/purple foliage and feathery pink flowers. In spring, they look like cotton candy. But, depending on the year, they also bloom in fall.

What do gardening and these plants have to do with writing?

Just like perennials and flowering bushes continue to provide enjoyment season after season, series—novels that feature the same main characters and themes—pay continuing dividends for authors and fans. With a little tender-loving care, the same characters can prosper for many years as we follow them in new stories/adventures. A bonus is that we get to know the characters better with each new book in the series. That’s why I write two series: Marley Clark Mysteries and Smart Women, Dumb Luck Romantic Thrillers

So why is my new novel, Lies: Secrets Can Kill, a standalone historical suspense novel? Stories my relatives told me about life in the 1930s and the colorful Street Fairs that were a tradition in my hometown of Keokuk, Iowa, called to me to write a story set in that time and place.

Colorful annual flowers and one-of-a-kind books sometimes captivate me as a gardener and a writer. Sometimes it's impossible to resist intriguing departures from the perennial/series rule.

Do you read/write series and stand-alone books? What’s your preference?

For more info about LIES:  http://windtreepress.com/portfolio/lies/