Paty Jager joins us today at The Write Way Café, sharing how her new series was born from the success of an earlier series.
Tell us a little about your Letters of Fate series.
My Letters of Fate series came about from seeing so many people say they enjoyed Mail Order Bride books. However, I wanted to do a twist but couldn’t figure out a Mail Order Groom premise, but I came up with the idea of a letter changing a man’s life and in the course of following that he finds a feisty woman who captures his heart. After writing a series that dealt with a family, I liked the idea of the only thing tying this series together is that each man/hero receives a letter and that’s how I, with the help of my niece, came up with the series title Letters of Fate. Not having anything connecting the books other than the letters, they can be read in any order another bonus for readers. No matter which book they pick up they won’t be in the middle of anything other than that story.
The first book I wrote for the series is Davis. It is set in the area where I live. I use a real person from history in the area as the catalyst that causes the external conflict in the story. Peter French ran a large cattle dynasty in southeastern Oregon for a California doctor. He fenced land that was between parcels they owned and kept homesteaders out. He was not a popular man as he worked hard at acquiring as much of Harney Valley and the Steens that he could. I set the story up that he was trying to take a widow’s ranch. The hero has lost his family and feels the eyes of his community on him. His sister sends him a letter suggesting he come marry her friend (the widow) in a marriage of convenience to help her save the ranch for her children. He accepts and while they get off to a rocky start since he’s a city slicker and the heroine has been freighter’s daughter and a rancher, the sparks of animosity turn to sparks of interest.
Isaac is the second book I wrote for the Letters of Fate series. This book was written to be in the Kindle World, Montana Sky Series by Debra Holland. When I received the information about her world, I made my hero a mine guard. He friends an older miner who becomes sick and dies. After sending the man’s pay to his family, Isaac feels he’s done all he can. Then he receives a letter from the man’s oldest child. The woman makes an accusation her father would still be alive had Isaac given him better medical help, and she is coming to collect his things. He decides to meet her at the town with the railroad and hand her the one set of dirty clothes from her father before placing her back on the train. She has other thoughts. She’s come to collect her father’s things for a reason and that reason isn’t in his dirty clothes.
If Davis: Letters of Fate was made into a movie, who would play your main characters, and why?
I’m not good at this. I don’t watch that many new movies. I would say Brook Shields for Mariella, the heroine. Because Brooke is six foot and a strong build. She’s played roles that showed vulnerability and strength. And can jest and have fun. Davis, he’s harder. Perhaps Ryan Reynolds. Because he has strength of character but can be gentle. At least he portrays that well in the movies I’ve seen him in.
What or who has been instrumental in or to your writing journey?
As I think about this there are three people who were instrumental in my writing journey. The first was my mom. She told me I could do anything I put my mind to. That’s the mantra I’ve had as I’ve been on this writing journey. I just wish she was around to share my journey with her.
The second was my high school English teacher. She gave us an assignment to research a historical figure and write a paper from their point of view. I wrote Joan of Arc’s burning at the stake. Come to think of it, that was my first heavily researched historical writing project. The teacher picked my story to read out loud to the class. There wasn’t a sound in the room when she finished. Even the class clown was sitting still. That was when I learned the power words can have.
The third person is one of my critique partners. When we first met she was a judge in a contest I entered. She was the first contest judge to tell me what I was doing wrong rather than rearranging my sentences and not saying why they did it. I contacted her and discovered we both wrote historical western romance. I had knowledge of horses, ranches, and the west and she had the writing knowledge. We became critique partners and friends. She encouraged me to send one of the books she’d critiqued to a small press and I became a published author. I owe her my writing career.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve been given? What’s your best writing advice for others?
The best advice I’ve been given is write what you know and you don’t always have to agree with a critique but if more than one person makes a comment on the same thing, dig deeper and find out why.
My advice to other writers is learn your craft and know your genre. You can be a good storyteller but if you don’t make that story shine with good grammar and word choices it won’t get you the agent, editor, or good sales. And know your genre. There are many writers who write in a genre they know nothing about. I’m not saying you have to be a demon to write demon stories but know something about those types of worlds, same goes with westerns. I’ve read several where the author had no clue about horses or cattle. That pulls me out of the story and makes me not read another of their books.
What “keepers” are in your home library?
Agatha Christie collection, Nora Roberts, The MacGregor Brides and her trilogy Born in Fire, Born in Ice, Born in Shame, LaVyrle Spencer’s Hummingbird- It’s the book that started me writing historical western romance. L.V. McWhorter’s Yellow Wolf: His Own Story. A Little Bit of Wisdom: Conversations of a Nez Perce Elder by Horace Axtell and Margo Aragon.
Characters often find themselves in situations they aren't sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
Tough question. I guess it would have to be at the Left Coast Crime conference in Phoenix this past February. I was a moderator for a prestigious panel on Sunday morning. I did my homework and had insightful questions to ask. I came down with the flu Friday after arriving in Phoenix. I wore blisters on my feet walking around looking for a pharmacy. Yes, I won’t hire a taxi for short distances, only for transportation to the airport. Saturday I nursed the flu and my blisters and only attended the dinner, leaving before the awards ceremony. I woke feeling better on Sunday but I had hardly any voice. I arrived early to the panel and let the authors know I could barely talk. I would introduce them and direct my main questions to them and would one of them repeat questions from the audience, please. I managed to pull it off. The authors said I had thoughtful questions and the audience said it was one of the best panels. So while I felt like a failure, it seems the panel went well.
We’re adding books to our Café menu. Would your book be a drink, an appetizer, an entrée or a dessert? What would you call it?
An entrée. It is a full and filling story with loss, redemption, family, and love. Redemption Roast.
What is your favorite social media? Why?
I’m not a fan of any of the social media because I have a hard time keeping up with them. But I would have to say I like Facebook the best because I’ve been able to keep up-to-date with family and close friends since we moved to SE Oregon.
Do you have any compulsions you must do for no particular reason?
You could probably say my need to have a cup of hot chocolate in the morning, like most people have coffee, a compulsion. I even take packets of hot chocolate with me on trips in case the hotel I stay at doesn’t have a complimentary breakfast or hot chocolate. I have to have my cup of hot chocolate or my day doesn’t go right.
Tell us about the book in your closet.
I have a couple of books in the closet. The oldest two are murder mysteries. That was my first love to read and write, but I ended up in Romance Writers of America and wrote romance until 2014 when I went back to writing mystery. The first two mysteries actually were written to kill a person who in real life was on my not-a-favorite-person list. She’d cheated on her husband, and when he confronted her, she named my husband. But my husband had witnessed her and the real person fooling around in a car. I think she was hoping to discredit his account of what he saw. Anyway, it blew things up between my husband and his friend and our kids who were friends. To take out my anger on this person, who I’d thought of as a friend, I murdered her in two books. ;) I still like the main character in the books, but they were before I’d had workshops on craft and realized I had a lot to learn to be a writer and a published author.
And now for the fun stuff!
If you aren’t a full-time writer, what is your day job?
I help my husband take care of our 280 acres and half an irrigation pivot that produces alfalfa hay. I also help him with his job of managing three irrigation pivots of alfalfa hay for a dairy.
What is your biggest shopping downfall?
I love cowboy boots. I have five pair. One for work, one for going to town, and three for events.
Are you a glass half empty or glass half full personality?
I’m a glass half full. Life is a wonderful thing and with a positive attitude you can accomplish anything you set your mind to do.
Are you a dog/cat/other person?
I’m a dog person. I like having a big dog for outside and a lap dog for inside.
If you had to write with a pen instead of a computer, what type of pen would be your preference?
I love the gel pens and prefer the color purple. Gel pens write smooth and the color purple makes me happy.
Davis: Letters of Fate
Widowed with two small children and a ranch to run, Mariella Swanson knows she needs help, but isn’t sure her heart, or neighbors, will accept her marrying a stranger. When the greenhorn shows up, smoking a pipe and wearing a derby hat, she can’t help but wonder if agreeing to this marriage may prove to be her biggest mistake.
When Davis Weston receives a letter from his sister asking him to marry a friend, he scoffs at the idea. However, losing his wife and son has left him a lonely man, and the whispers from others that he didn’t do enough to save his family has gone on long enough. His arrival in Oregon may be worse—these neighbors are doing more than whispering. Guns and horses aren’t his forte. He’s willing to learn, but is he willing to love again?
Award-winning author Paty Jager and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. She not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it. All Paty’s 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.
You can learn more about Paty at:
her blog Writing into the Sunset