It is my great pleasure to have award-winning author Paty Jager on my blog today! Thanks so much for being here, Paty.
Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little about the person behind the pen.
Howdy! I’m Paty Jager. I’ve lived a rural lifestyle most of my life. From living 2 ½ miles upriver from a town with the population of 200 to marrying and raising our children on 10 acres with animals, increasing to 70 acres, and now as empty-nesters, we have 280 acres and are 40 miles from a town that has most of our shopping needs and 10 miles from a small town that has a boarding school, four churches, and one café/market. Our community where we live has a post office, no other businesses or buildings and I love it!
Why did you decide to write historical western romance? What is the appeal?
Historical western romance wasn’t my first love to read and I stumbled into it because I couldn’t find help crafting a mystery book. I ran out of mystery books to read at the local library and picked up a Nora Roberts book. It was contemporary romance, but I liked how it was character driven. Then I picked up LaVyrle Spencer’s Hummingbird, which was also character driven and had a lot of elements in it that I could relate to, having lived rural with a root cellar, outhouse, and wood cookstove. And I found a writing organization that welcomed me and helped me hone my writing craft. The appeal to me now to write historical western romance is the fact I’ve been told many times my writing voice fits the genre and I have lived or done a lot of the things characters in a historical western would do. It helps me bring authenticity to the stories.
How much research goes into your books, and how do you tackle that?
I love the research part of writing a book. Especially, a historical book. I’ve always loved American history. I have two bookcases full of the books I use while writing. And usually when I start a new book, I add a couple more on a place or subject I need for the current work in progress (WIP). I like to purchase used books so I can stick post-it notes on the pages where I find my information and I can use highlighters if I want. I usually read two to three books that have some kind of connection to the book I’m writing before and while I’m writing the book. I like to use factual events and information in my books. It’s my way of imparting some history to the reader without them knowing it. ;)
What is the best comment you ever received from a reader? The worst or weirdest?
I’ve received emails from readers that started out, “Darn you Paty! I started [insert one of my book titles] and I had to read it to the end. I didn’t get to bed until three in the morning.” The worst or weirdest was on a blog tour I did for the first book of my Native American Spirit Trilogy. Even though I’d had Nez Perce tribe members and the Nez Perce council say my books were factual, I had a Nez Perce member following my blog tour and saying mean things like I didn’t know what I was talking about and making a bad name for the Nez Perce. I contacted the council and I no longer had trouble with him.
Tell us a little about your writing style? Do you plan and plot your stories, or do you just plow through them?
My writing style has changed over the years. The first five or six books I wrote were totally off the cuff. I knew my hero and heroine and that was about it other than the research I did and that usually made up the plot of the story. Now I write up bios on the hero and heroine, I jot down the main secondary characters, do a conflict grid, and know the beginning, middle, and end of the book before I write it. I don’t do an outline because characters and events that arise usually take me on little side trips that later turn out to be useful to the story. I love when my subconscious does that.
Can you tell us a little about your current work, Claiming a Heart? Is there a story behind the story?
Claiming a Heart is the third book in the Halsey Homecoming Trilogy and the last book that is part of the Halsey Brothers Series. When I finished the Halsey Brothers Series of five books, readers wanted more. So I came up with the trilogy of the three boys, now young men, who joined the family either through marriage or friendship. Claiming a Heart is about the blind boy, Donny, who was befriended by Clay Halsey in Doctor in Petticoats. He’s grown now and works for Clay in a business that makes wooden tablets that allow blind people to write in a straight line. The first two books of the trilogy were easy to figure out. Jeremy in Laying Claim had been mentioned in the last Halsey Brother book, Logger in Petticoats, as having gone to Alaska. So his story started in Alaska and the Yukon. It had to do with him wanting to get back to Sumpter and his sister and the Halsey family. The second book again, was easy to decide how the story would work. Colin, the son of Aileen, the heroine, in Miner in Petticoats, went to England to reclaim the estate he inherited from his father, Aileen’s first husband. He is coming home and discovers his English cousin wishes him dead to take over his estate. I had to stretch my imagination to figure out what Donny’s “coming home” story would be. I had taken the underground tour in Pendleton, Oregon a couple years ago and that stuck with me. What if a woman was hiding in the tunnels with the Chinese? What if she was wanted for a crime? What if she went to the aid of a blind man, not knowing he was blind? And that is how Claiming a Heart starts. With Callie witnessing Donny being beaten. She drags him into the tunnels under the city and finds him a Chinese healer to tend to his injuries.
What sets your heroine, Callie, apart from all the other women in your hero, Donny’s, life? Why is she perfect for him?
Callie is different from other women Donny has met because she dresses like a young man and passes herself off as one as she hides in the tunnels. She is distrustful of males. But she is perfect for Donny because she doesn’t treat his blindness as anything grotesque or a disease. She allows him to do for himself and doesn’t give him any slack when his blindness could hold him back. Her learning to trust him, helps him to discover truths about his past that help him release the rage that has been simmering in the back of his mind.
Have you ever had writer’s block? How do you deal with it?
To me writer’s block isn’t an obstacle and I don’t believe in muses. When I find I’m stuck with a work in progress it usually means I’ve taken the story in the wrong direction or made a character do something that was out of character for no apparent reason. I take a walk, think about the story from different angles and discover where I went wrong. I don’t have a muse. I sit my butt in the chair and write whether I have an idea or not. Once my fingers start taping the keys and I let my mind go, the story will start flowing.
Can you give us a little background on your hero Donny that’s only in your author notes, and not found in your story? What inspired you to create this character?
Donny started out as a secondary character in Doctor in Petticoats. His first scene on a page, he trips over Clay Halsey who is blind feeling self-pity. Clay stretches his legs across the hall of the blind school. But later the boy, Donny, is Clay’s salvation from having to take music and other classes that he had as a child or didn’t feel he needed. Through Donny teaching Clay, the two became good friends. When Clay returned to Sumpter, Oregon he took Donny with him to help in his business, making him family. I don’t think there is anything about Donny in my author notes that isn’t in one of the two books.
Describe a favorite scene in your current novel?
A favorite scene in Claiming a Heart is below. At this point of the story Donny only knows Callie by the name Mac. She uses this name so no one knows her real identity.
Donny heard Mac speaking to the doctor before he caught the scent of lye soap. Her footsteps entered the room along with the clank of dishes.
“Is it dinner time?” he asked.
“Yes, how did you know?” Her skepticism made him smile.
“I can smell the soup and hear the clank of the dishes.”
“Did you know it was me?” she asked.
“Yes. I smelled lye soap. The doctor smells like herbs.” He wanted to ask her about the cook who asked to marry her. But he knew better than to blurt it out.
“Soup,” she said.
He held out his hands, palms up. She placed the bowl in them.
“I see you finished the bandages.”
Donny swallowed the soup in his mouth. “I also tied knots in string. Makes me wonder what he’ll give me to do after a couple weeks.”
Mac laughed. “I’m sure Mr. Cai has all kinds of things you can do.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of.” He finished his soup while Mac chuckled.
“Are you going to eat?” he asked when he didn’t hear sounds of her eating.
“There isn’t enough for me and you. I’ll have Mr. Cai bring me something from the kitchen.”
Was she avoiding the cook? “I can be trusted to eat alone. I won’t drown in my bowl of soup.”
“No. I’ll wait.”
“Are you avoiding the cook because he wants to marry you?” He mentally slapped himself for saying exactly what he’d planned to wait to ask.
“No! How did you know he—and what business is it of yours!” Her footsteps paced the room. Six across, six footsteps back. As tiny as she was, she must be pacing at a lengthened stride.
“I heard the doc and some man talking. Then the other man got loud and left. I asked Doc what they were talking about. He said the man asked him to arrange a marriage between you two.”
The pacing stopped. “He what?” The pacing resumed. “That low-life pot scrubber. What the heck makes him think I’d agree to an arranged marriage? I’m not Yi. Why the lousy, no-good—”
“I’d think you’d be flattered a man wanted to marry you.” Donny held out the bowl. It whipped from his hands, and he was left holding air.
A loud thunk echoed through the small room.
“What woman would be flattered to have men decide who they should or shouldn’t marry?” Her tone held more anger than the topic warranted.
“Is that why you’re mad? Cuz he didn’t ask you?” Was she sweet on the Chinaman?
“No! I don’t want him or anyone else to ask if I’ll marry him. I’m not marrying anyone. Men can’t be trusted. They leave or they carouse. There’s not a faithful bone in their bodies.”
“Wait a minute! Not all men are unfaithful. I know seven men who have always been faithful to their wives.” Donny had witnessed the kindness and love the Halsey men had for their wives. Just being in the room with one of the happy couples left a person feeling happy.
“Seven out of how many in the world!” She grasped his hand and shoved the teacup in his palm.
Liquid sloshed onto his bare chest. “Hey! Don’t burn me with tea because some other man hurt you. We aren’t all bad.”
“Says you! A man!” A rough cloth rubbed the wet spot on his chest.
“Stop. Just stay back so I can drink the tea instead of wear it.”
“Hmmph!” The lye scent disappeared and the swish of the curtain left the room silent.
What else do you have in store for your readers?
I’m currently brewing up a new historical western romance series that brings the hero and heroine together via letters. The tentative series title is Letters of Fate. Each book will start with a hero receiving a letter that changes his life and brings him together with his future wife. I also have the Shandra Higheagle mystery series. This is a contemporary cozy mystery series set mostly on a fictitious mountain ski resort in Idaho. Shandra is half Nez Perce who discovers clues to murders when her deceased grandmother visits her dreams.
Blurb for Claiming a Heart
Book three of the Halsey Homecoming historical western romance trilogy that is a sequel to the Halsey Brothers Series.
Callie MacPherson - or Mac - is hiding from the law. When she witnesses a group of lawless thugs beating a newcomer, she drags the innocent man into the underground tunnels of Pendleton. Caring for the man, Callie discovers she hasn’t become as hard-hearted as she’d feared.
Donny Kimball’s loss of sight didn’t blind his heart. It can see far more than his eyes ever could. His heart tells him Callie MacPherson needs him as much as he needs her. If only he can convince her of that before they both get killed.
Windtree Press http://windtreepress.com/portfolio/claiming-a-heart/
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 blog; Writing into the Sunset
her website; http://www.patyjager.net
Newsletter: Paty’s Prattle: http://eepurl.com/1CFgX