PATRICIA CRANDALL – Award-Winning Author

Patricia Crandall is the author of ten books and a 2023 winner of the Besties of the Capital Region Awards, Author Category. Her latest book, Murder, Mayhem and Ghost Stories, is a series of short stories the author has successfully published in various magazines and newspapers over the years. The third edition of her book, The Dog Men, was also released in the spring of 2023. Patricia is a member of Sisters in Crime (Mavens) and the National Association of Independent Editors and Writers. She lives with her husband, Art, and a rescue cat, Bette, at Babcock Lake in Grafton Mountains near Petersburgh, New York. She has two children and three grandchildren who live nearby.  www.PatriciaCrandall.com

September 5, 2023, Murder, Mayhem and Ghost Stories, by Patricia Crandall, was published by The Troy Book Makers is available at Independent Bookstores and on Amazon.com.

             

“Mystery stories are meant to thrill and entice you, the reader, while engaging your thought process to see if you can figure out who has committed the evil deed. I invite you to such a challenge, one I’m sure is worthy of your ability and interest, to solve the crimes before the end of the various stories. Murder, Mayhem and Ghost Stories is a series of short and very short stories about murder, mayhem and ghostly happenings that I have successfully written and published over the years. Most were for a particular magazine requiring a specific number of words, e.g., 100 to 2000 words. The book is divided into categories, and there is one very special story written by my Granddaughter, Nicole St. Onge, No Guts, No Gory, which will satisfy your mysterious needs.

Writing and publishing these stories have been my enthusiastic path to writing many full-length books. So, take the leap into these pages and enjoy a good read.” P. Crandall

Heidi Morrell, Windsor Products, Los Angeles, CA: Patricia’s writing is thrilling and exceptional.

Lee Pigeon, Passages, Counselling Services: Patricia Crandall is a seasoned writer. A perfect Saturday Eve is a breezy warm night while entering a whole other world in one of Patricia Crandall’s richly written stories.

Judith Luci Writes: Love her books!

Where can we buy your books?

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1614688338

https://shoptbmbooks.com/Murder_Mayhem_and_Ghost_Stories.html

Contact Author Representative: MarciagRosen@gmail.com

2 Comments

  1. Patricia Crandall

    Thank you Michael for your kind words. They are appreciated.

    Reply
  2. Michael A. Black

    Congratulations on the new book, Patricia. Short story collections are an excellent way to introduce your writing to new readers. I’ll have to check out Murder, Mayhem, and Ghost Stories. Good luck

    Reply

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FRANK ZAFIRO – The Pain and Joy of Writing A Long-Running Series

Frank Zafiro writes gritty crime fiction from both sides of the badge. He was a police officer from 1993 to 2013, holding many positions and ranks. He retired as a captain. He is the award-winning author of over forty novels, most of them crime fiction. You can find out more at http://frankzafiro.com

 

 

 

On October 4, 2023, my novel, All the Forgotten Yesterdays, the fourteenth installment of my popular River City series, will be released. When I wrote the first book in the series, Under a Raging Moon, back in 1995, I couldn’t have predicted that I’d still be writing about these characters almost three decades later.

     

But I’m glad I am.

River City is a police procedural series that follows an ensemble cast of officers, detectives, and even leaders as they face a different challenge each time out. To date, RCPD has encountered robbers, kidnappers, rapists, gangsters, a school shooting, a serial killer, a terrible chief of police, and more. Through it all, one of my intentions was to show these events in a realistic light. In fact, these books have been favorably compared to the works of Joseph Wambaugh and Ed McBain in that respect—high praise, if you ask me. One reader called them “a paperback ride-along, ” which also sums it up well.

In the beginning, I thought I’d be focusing mostly on a young patrol cop named Stefan Kopriva. But by the time I hit the second book, Kopriva’s fate on the department was already sealed (though he lives on in a spinoff series, the Stefan Kopriva mysteries). Another officer, Katie MacLeod, rose to the forefront. And while she was certainly first among equals, I spent considerable time with a half dozen other characters—the veteran Thomas Chisolm, partners Anthony Battaglia and Connor O’Sullivan, and police leader Lieutenant Robert Saylor, to name a few.

That’s not to mention a score of others that the reader gets to know less well but still interacts with. Then add in the fact I’ve written enough short stories in this setting to fill more than three collections, and the result is that the River City canvas is heavily painted upon. (The nice thing about the short stories is that it allows me to explore main characters more deeply at times, and at others, to explore characters who don’t get to be stars in the novels but do in their own short story).

The River City timeline starts in 1994 with the first novel. The newest book, All the Forgotten Yesterdays, is set in 2010. That’s sixteen in-universe years. A lot of things change in sixteen years (especially when it’s been twenty-eight years for me in our world!). I’ve made sure these changes are reflected in the series. New technologies and tactics emerge. There are marriages, retirements, and even deaths. No one is safe from the ravages of time.

Katie MacLeod was in the very first book, and by the third book, she had emerged as the core character of the series. Even so, she sometimes plays a minor role in certain books, such as her sole appearance, Chisolm’s Debt. In other outings, she is the POV for the entire book—this is true in The Worst Kind of Truth and again in All the Forgotten Yesterdays. She will retain her status as a major POV for the next couple, as well.

But time marches on. More than half of the officers prominently featured in the first book have either retired, been promoted, or are dead. It’s been difficult to say goodbye to them, whether that was due to their demise or simply because their new position meant I wasn’t going to be featuring them nearly as much. This is the pain I’m referring to in the title of this essay.

The steady march of time also requires rookies to join the department and graduate to veterans. As Katie’s role changes, new officers fill in her old roles—whether as a patrol officer or a detective. Getting to know these new officers and introducing them slowly over the course of several books, is one aspect of that joy I referred to in the title.

Does this require knowing where things are going for the next seven or eight books? If you’re not an outliner, this might sap the fun of creation for you. I’m not an extensive outliner myself—more of a note-taker—but I have to say I have found it at least as satisfying to view my series through the meta lens as through the micro.

In the micro, I’m right there on the street with the characters in each individual book, reveling in the details that make for good police procedurals. That experience is about moments.

In the macro, I get to see the long view of things and explore the journey and the ultimate fates of these fictional characters. That experience is about the years, even the decades.

Honestly, there is joy and pain in both elements. Here’s what I mean: I’ve only been moved to tears while writing a scene on two occasions. The first was in the fourth entry of the series, And Every Man Has to Die. As the title suggests, someone does die. Writing that scene—indeed, reading it back to my wife later on—choked me up and brought tears to my eyes. It was all pain.

The other instance was in The Worst Kind of Truth, which I wrote eleven years later. This time, the scene was a wedding. Now, I don’t normally cry at weddings. But this one was a long time coming. It tied directly back to that death in book four and represented a sort of healing without forgetting. Thus, it was both happy and bittersweet. Pain and joy, you see.

I think, in the end, what it comes down to is this: after spending almost three decades of my life with these characters and shepherding them through almost two decades of their own fictional lives, I’ve come to see them as being real. I know it’s a writer’s worst cliché, but it is absolutely true. And because their journey hasn’t been a static one, but has passed through time and events as well, there has been plenty of opportunity for both pain and joy to occur.

But, on balance, mostly… joy.

(Note: Even though this is #14 in the series, each volume stands alone, too. You can start anywhere in the series, but if you want to experience what I just wrote about, I suggest going back to number one).

http://frankzafiro.com/
email: frankzafiro@msn.com (or contact button on website)
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/frank-zafiro
Buy ALL THE FORGOTTEN ESTERDAYS: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BSB6HFPJ
Check out the whole River City series: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PRDW2SN

14 Comments

  1. Thonie Hevron

    This was a terrific post. I just finished The Ride Along. It knocked my socks off! I just started the The Worst Kind of Truth which I bought at the Public Safety Writers Conference. Frank graciously personalized it for me. These opinions are right on–Frank is a writer’s writer. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
    • Frank Zafiro

      Thanks, Thonie! I am mid-way through BY FORCE OR FEAR at the moment and look forward to seeing how it wraps up. I’m already composing my (positive!) review!

      Thanks for your kind words about THE RIDE ALONG. It is a book I am especially proud of, so it feels good to hear it landed for you.

      Enjoy THE WORST KIND OF TRUTH!

      Reply
  2. Vicki Weisfeld

    I’m so glad you confessed to tearing up when you read certain scenes in your own novels. I do that! Even though I know what’s coming and have read the scene many times. I thought maybe I was being too semtimental, too Something. BTW, I enjoyed the story about the mummy that you gave out at the conference. Good work!

    Reply
    • Frank Zafiro

      Thank, Vicki! I’m glad I’m not the only one, too!

      I think it comes back to how real your characters feel to you. Plus, as authors, I believe our empathy factor is dialed up to eleven to begin with, so…

      I’m glad you liked THE BASTARD MUMMY!

      Reply
  3. John Schembra

    I met Frank at the PSWA conference a couple of years ago, and can sympathize with his feelings on writing two or more diferent series. On the one hand, I really dislike leaving my Vince Torelli series (6 books) to undertake another series with a new proagonist and other characters, which is an off-shoot of the Torelli book #6, Southern Justness. It almost feels like I am insulting Torelli to do so, feeling like he is no longer interesting, but it’s also exciting.
    I will return to Vince in the near future for a 7th book, at least, but will write 2 or 3 in the new series, with Detective Sergeant Louise (Louie) Princeton. Using a different locale for her stories helps asuage those feelings of betrayal of Vince- talk about your characters becoming real, eh?
    By the way, I have a copy of The Ride Along waiitng on my nightstand to-be-read-stack.

    Reply
    • Frank Zafiro

      That’s an interesting take, John, and I know how you feel… sorta. I mean, I always enjoying “fooling around” with other series but going back to River City has the feel of a comfortable pair of jeans to it.

      Looking forward to your thoughts on The RIDE ALONG!

      Reply
  4. James L'Etoile

    I agree with Michael Black’s comments here. Frank is the consummate professional. He’s a superb writer and the River City series is but one example of his ability to bring real life into his fiction. Many ex-cop writers can tell a story, Frank makes you feel the story.

    Reply
    • Frank Zafiro

      Thank you, Jim! Coming from you — a talented storyteller — that means a lot!

      Reply
  5. Marilyn Meredith

    I met Frank long ago in Seattle during a mystery convention Delighted to meet him again at a PSWA conference. All the praise for his books are well-deserved. And as for his comments about his series, I totally agree about writing a series, I have two and to me the characters are real. I know how they will act and what they think. Thanks for sharing

    Reply
    • Frank Zafiro

      High praise, Meredith — thank you!

      And you would know, when it comes to writing long running series!

      Reply
  6. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    I enjoyed this post immensely, Frank. You know you’re doing something right when your own writing chokes you up, and I’m so glad you told us about those two times it happened to you, particularly as you stressed the importance of the long-term connection between time 1’s tears and time 2’s tears. Thanks for exploring the ‘micro’ and the ‘macro’ with us. Congratulations on the success of this series.

    Reply
    • Frank Zafiro

      Thank you, Pamela — it was my pleasure. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply
  7. Michael A. Black

    Frank Zafiro is a writer’s writer and a pro’s pro. Last year I was blown away by his book, Ride Along, which he co-wrote with Colin Conway. I was fortunate enough to meet him at the PSWA Conference two years ago and can say he’s a nice guy. It’s interesting that he began this series when he a young copper, and continues to write it after he retired from the force. The comparisons to Wambaugh and McBain (especially the latter) are very appropriate. He’s an excellent writer and his River City books reflect not only his writing talent but a unique, behind-the-scenes look at how police think, feel, and react. Check out his books, You won’t be sorry.

    Reply
    • Frank Zafiro

      Wow, Mike — thanks for the high praise! It means a lot, coming from you.

      Reply

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J.A. JANCE – Pays Homage to a Lakota Hero

Over the course of the last forty years, I’ve written and published one book after another, all but one of them murder mysteries.  Blessing of the Lost Girls, due out September 29, 2023, is number 66.  In order to produce that many books, the writing process generally takes six months from beginning to end.

That tradition came to a grinding halt in 2021 when I started work on the most recent Ali Reynolds book, Collateral Damage.  That one took a whole year.  As I struggled to bring that book to order (I’m definitely a pantser as opposed to an outliner!) I kept thinking that maybe I had lost my mojo, and that would be the last book I ever wrote.  Eventually, I finished it, and the handwork paid off because my readers loved it.

But in the meantime, when I was only a couple of months into the Collateral Damage ordeal, a friend called and told me the following story:

In the nineties, a serial killer roamed the West—a guy who happened to hate Indians.  His version of hate crimes before “hate crimes” became a thing. His deal was to ride boxcars and push Indians under moving trains.  He became known as the Boxcar Killer and is still, at this time, serving life without parole in prison.

Around that time, a Lakota named James was working in the rail yard of a small city in Oregon. That’s when he had his encounter with the Boxcar Killer.  James was pushed under a moving train and dragged for a mile and a half before the train was able to stop.  Cops were called to the scene.  They declared him dead, zipped him into a body bag, and had him transported to the local morgue, which was located in the basement of the community hospital. A nurse who worked there and who was also Lakota happened to know James.  That night, when she got off shift, she went down to wash his hair—a time honored Lakota custom.

When she unzipped the body bag, his arm came out because he wasn’t dead. He was immediately transported from the morgue to the OR for the first of the countless surgeries it took to duct tape him back together.  He was in the hospital for months on end. He ended up being a paraplegic.  He lost the use of his dominant hand. He had to learn how to speak again as well as how to read and write.

One of my friends and fans, a woman named Loretta, has children who are half Lakota.  She was also a volunteer at the hospital where James was treated.  During his many hospital stays and before he learned to read again, she went to his hospital room and read books to him.  And because she’s a fan of my books, she read my books to him, including her favorites—the Walker Family books set on Arizona’s Tohono O’odham Reservation. James loved them.

Once he recovered enough, he spent the next twenty years of his life working with disaffected urban Indian youth in the Portland area, helping them “find the right path.”  The last time my friend spoke to James was shortly before his death in the spring of 2021. On the phone, he told her, “Tell your friend she needs to write another Walker book.  There aren’t enough Indian heroes in books”.

After James passed away in the spring of 2021, although his case will never come to court, his autopsy report says that he died as a result of homicidal violence, and he is counted as one of the Box Car Killer’s victims.  After his death, he was transported back to the reservation, not in a casket but wrapped in a buffalo robe.

I grew up as one of seven children.  Our mother had plenty of rules.  At dinner, you had to eat a little of everything on your plate or no dessert.  I’ve taken that rule into my writing career in that I’m not allowed to think about the next book until I finish the one I’m currently working on.  So, the remainder of the time I was working on Collateral Damage, I didn’t allow myself to think about writing the book James wanted me to write. Still, once I cleaned my literary plate, it was time to write Blessing of the Lost Girls, and I did so, beginning to end, in two months flat!

The story flew together, in part, I believe, because writing it was a sacred charge given to me by a powerful Lakota warrior.  And if you read Blessing and meet a character named John Wheeler, you’ll know at once that although James said there weren’t enough Indian heroes, now he is one.

J.A. Jance’s Website is www.jajance.com

Autographed books will be available from Mostly Books in Tucson, Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, and Brick and Mortar Books in Redmond, Washington.

15 Comments

  1. Thonie Hevron

    I’ve been a JA Jance fan for years but haven’t read anything of hers lately. This post will change that.

    Reply
  2. John G. Bluck

    Those of us who write fiction are storytellers, and what an interesting tale Ms. Jance tells us in her account of the bad stuff that happened in real life to the Lakota man named James. Fiction is made up, but then again it isn’t. It comes to life from the stories we hear and from our life experiences. So, fiction isn’t just entertainment. It’s a way to pass on knowledge and how we think about ourselves in this chapter of history.

    Reply
  3. Francelia Belton

    Great story! I’m adding your novel to my TBR list. Thank you, JA Jance and George!

    Reply
  4. Paty Jager

    I also bring up MMIW in my two murder mystery series. It is a topic that has been kept quiet for too long. Just like other injustices against the first people.

    Reply
  5. Marie Sutro

    What a powerful story of survival! I can’t wait to read Blessing of the Lost Girls!

    Reply
  6. Marilyn Meredith

    Congratulations to J. Al. Jance. I met her at a Sisters in Crime meeting in Fresno years ago. I bought a copy of each book she’d brought with her. Have been a fan ever since.

    Reply
  7. Victoria Kazarian

    What an amazing story of someone who survived to help others. I’ve loved your books for years, and now I know I need to get this new one.

    Reply
  8. Donnell Ann Bell

    Amazing story. I grew up near the Navajo reservation. This story touches my soul. And I absolutely respect your philosophy of cleaning your literary plate.

    How sad that it was counted as homicidal violence, and he is counted as one of the Box Car Killer’s victims. But I love that he was transported back to the reservation, not in a casket but wrapped in a buffalo robe. Will check out your novels. Best wishes on a fantastic sell through.

    Reply
  9. Margaret Mizushima

    Ms. Jance, as you know I’ve been a huge fan of your work for decades. Thank you for writing this book on such an important topic. I’m excited to read it and must have a signed copy, which I’ll order from the Poisoned Pen. I hope to see you again sometime soon. Here’s wishing you all the best!

    Reply
  10. Alec Peche

    What a great way to honor a fan and an amazing man.

    Reply
  11. Michael A. Black

    Wow, that’s quite a story about James. I’m glad you were able to write the book about him. My good friend, David Walks As Bear, was a great guy also who has passed. He was one of the smartest guys I ever knew and always helped me with information about American Indians and their culture. I’ve been able to pay homage to him by using characters based on him in several of my books. My yet to be released latest book as A.W. Hart (Concho: Border Blood) deals with missing Indian or Native American girls and women.

    Reply
  12. John Schembra

    Very interesting post. The issue of missing and murdered indigenous women is no longer a hidden problem, thanks to authors like Ms Vance and Tony Hillerman (Leaphorn and Chee, mysteries, Dark Winds tv series).

    Reply
  13. Jim Guigli

    One of the many fine films about crimes against Native Americans is Wind River.

    Reply
    • George Cramer

      Amen to that. Thanks for sharing the title of this outstanding movie.

      Reply
  14. George Cramer

    In Blessing of the Lost Girls, J.A.. Jance brings light to the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. As Ms. Jance reminded me: It’s an important topic, and tackling something like that requires different points of view.” We need more authors like Ms. Jance to tackle and share what we should know about the violence experienced by Indigenous women.

    For more information, visit these websites as a start:

    National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center – https://www.niwrc.org/policy-center/mmiw

    Bureau of Indian Affairs – Missing and Murdered Indigenous People Crisis https://www.bia.gov/service/mmu/missing-and-murdered-indigenous-people-crisis

    Reply

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JILL AMADIO – Author – Journalist – Ghostwriter – Narrator

Jill Amadio is an author, journalist, ghostwriter, and audiobook narrator from Cornwall, UK. She lives in Westport, CT. She has ghostwritten 17 memoirs, including Rudy Vallee, a U.S. ambassador, a nuclear physicist, an oil baron, a rodeo champion, an inventor, and others. Jill writes three mystery series, a column for a UK online magazine, and for The Writes in Residence. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, the Authors Guild, and Mystery Writers of America.

What brought you to writing? I won every English award at school and college with my passion for writing, while I failed miserably at math. My life ambition was to be a reporter, and I achieved that goal at newspapers in London, UK; Madrid, Spain; Bangkok, Thailand; and in Westport, CT. I wrote a syndicated column for Gannett Newspapers and an automotive column for Entrepreneur magazine.

Do you write in more than one genre? Yes. I write mysteries, novels, true crime, biographies, and ghostwriting memoirs. I was once hired to write a thriller by a client and went on to write my own crime series featuring a British amateur sleuth in America.

Tell us about your writing process. At first, it was daunting to come up with 70,000 words after writing 3,000-word articles. I am lucky to have the drive to write and rarely experience writer’s block. I awake each day eager to get to my necessary research, which can send my plot off in a different direction than planned, but it can also open new scenarios. I always write at my desk because it feels more like working rather than at a café or other outside location.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? I am both. I think up a rough idea for a plot, mulling three or four different ways to go, then I expand upon my choice, create the characters, decide on the settings, and then write a two- or three-page outline. Once I begin writing the first draft, however, I become a pantser, which means I feel free to change any of the elements as I go along. As I write I often get better ideas than my original ones, especially when writing dialogue,, and I am always delighted when this happens.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process? Realizing that my characters try to make their own decisions, I once decided on a particular character as the murderer, but the more I ‘wrote’ her, the more I came to like her, so I picked someone else for the killer, throwing the plot into chaos but eventually fixing it, and keeping her as an ongoing minor character in the series. I’m a great fan of descriptive verbs, and particularity can challenge a writer to create colorful, original detail.

How do you raise the stakes for your protagonist – for the antagonist? Raising the stakes is one of the most exhilarating times of writing a mystery or a thriller, especially with cliffhanger endings worked out for each chapter. I can half-drown someone, have my sleuth flee the murderer with an extraordinary feat, or put characters into great danger with the flick of the keyboard. It all depends on the imagination whether and how any of the victims should be spared or not, whether the killer must be caught in an unexpected, explosive ending, and if the plot is so compelling with a satisfactory ending, the reader eagerly awaits the next book in the series.

Do your protagonists ever disappoint you? No, but they can go off the grid, so to speak, because my sleuth, Tosca Trevant, is a transplanted Brit in California who is often mystified by the lifestyle. I occasionally wish she was more understanding and less impulsive. In my novel based on a true 9/11 story, the protagonist is a real-life young woman who had asked me to ghostwrite her memoir. I eventually published it as fiction, but the book is closer to true crime than novelistic.

What are you currently working on? I have started two new mystery series, as well as completing my third book in the Tosca series. One of the new series features three retired librarians living in a New England fishing village who find murders on their doorstep. The other series’ protagonist is a ghostwriter based in Connecticut who is mistaken for a ghost hunter.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Find the authors you most admire and study their technique, style, and how they craft their stories. Each of us writers has a different, natural talent and means of expressing ourselves in our books, so don’t worry you might be copying your idol. Use them as guidelines.

Jill can be reached through her Facebook page, Jill Amadio, and her website, www.ghostwritingpro.com.

 

2 Comments

  1. Michael A. Black

    Hey Jill, I enjoyed your commentary, although I laughed out loudwhen ou said your sleuth is a transplanted Brit who’s mystified by the California lifestyle. I was born here and I’m mystified by California too. Good luck with your writing. You sound like you have great determination, drive, and talent.

    Reply
    • jill amadio

      Thank you, Michael, for your comments. I now live in CT – and it is far more mystifying than CA.

      Reply

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SARAH ELISABETH SAWYER—Choctaw Author and Story Archaeologist

Halito (hello), fellow authors! I appreciate George having me on his blog today. I’m Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer, a Choctaw author and digital course creator. My signature course, Fiction Writing: American Indians, equips authors to write authentic stories that honor Native American history and culture. I also teach a live Dictation Bootcamp for Authors that takes you through the process of mastering dictation through easy exercises that lead you to become the master of your fictional worlds.

As a tribal member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, I’ve written and published 16 historical fiction books. I’m highlighting pieces of my writing life in the hope you find them helpful on your journey.

Do you write in more than one genre? Historical fiction is my primary (and favorite) genre to read and to write. Something about digging into the past gives me a deeper connection to the present. That is especially true of my American Indian heritage. My books range from the Choctaw Trail of Tears in the 1830s to the Choctaw Code Talkers of World War I. I love a good old-fashioned western, which I get to share through my Doc Beck Westerns series set in the 1890s, featuring an Omaha Indian woman doctor. I write clean stories with close family relationships, fistfights and gunfights, and accurate cultural heritage.

What brought you to writing? When I was five years old, I had a story I wanted to share about being kind. But I was horribly shy and knew the only way to share my message was through writing it. My mama has saved that story to this day, and she continues to be my greatest fan and encourager. In my early twenties, I released a lot of the chaos in my life, wiped the slate clean, and handed the chalk over to God. He brought writing back into my life and let me know I was born to tell stories.

What are you currently working on? I released Fire and Ink, book 5 in the Choctaw Tribune series, in August and am outlining the final book in that series. There are 3 more books to go in the Doc Beck Westerns that are also underway. I have my first traditionally published nonfiction book coming out this fall, a biography on a WWI hero who was Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Cherokee — Otis W. Leader: The Ideal American Doughboy (Chickasaw Press).

How do you come up with character names? Authenticity is a significant component of my work. One of my methods for naming my American Indian characters is diving into historical records. Census, tribal rolls, and recorded stories are great sources for me to find authentic names for the people and times I’m writing about. Do you base any of your characters on real people? Absolutely. My novella, Tushpa’s Story, was based on a young boy who had a dramatic experience crossing the Trail of Tears in 1834.

Though the main character is fictional, the characters in Anumpa Warrior: Choctaw Code Talkers of World War I are the real men who were the code talkers and their commanding officers. I had the honor of interviewing descendants who knew these men and shared personal aspects that lent so much to the story. There are many historical figures sprinkled throughout my stories.

What kind of research do you do? I didn’t start off as a good researcher. I was scattered, but I knew research was vital because of the roles my work plays in the world. These books let readers experience authentic First American history and culture in an entertaining story. Through that, my stories are ambassadors. They are also a way to preserve this heritage for generations to come. My research has taken me down the backroads of Oklahoma and our homelands in Mississippi; deep into the secure vaults of the National Archives in Washington, DC; reading through stacks of nonfiction books and online archives; the WWI battlefields and cemeteries of France; sitting quietly and listening to elders.

Today, I love research and the treasures I discover of my ancestors that I get to share with readers.

 

Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? I’m terribly excited to get started on an action-adventure series set in the 1970s that stars a Choctaw artist who has to fight the bad guys and retrieve priceless historical American Indian art pieces. In between my own books, I’m actively teaching authors how to create authentic stories that honor Native American history and culture. I’m also gearing up for my live Dictation Bootcamp for Authors in October. Nearly 100 authors joined me in April of this year to master the skill of dictating their stories. It was a rousing success, and I can’t wait for the one this fall.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and your books? The faith of my ancestors continues to inspire my writing life. They walked the trail for me, and I’m so grateful to share their extraordinary lives through my real and fictional characters so that you, the reader, can go on the journey with us.

Find out more about my books (and my mama’s art) over at ChoctawSpirit.com
Interested in the Fiction Writing American Indians digital course? Find it here: https://www.fictioncourses.com/americanindians
Want to join the live Dictation Bootcamp for Authors in October? That’s here: https://www.fictioncourses.com/dictationbootcamp

5 Comments

  1. Michael A. Black

    Although I was familiar with the Indian code talkers in WW II, I didn’t know there were some in WW I as well. It sounds like you have a lot to offer as far as both teaching and writing. Best of luck to you.

    Reply
  2. Marie Sutro

    Wonderful class to offer, and the new action adventure series sounds great!!

    Reply
    • Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer

      Yakoke, thank you, Marie! I’m so grateful I get to teach authors on this topic. And thank you, I truly can’t wait to start on that new series!

      Reply
  3. George Cramer

    I am enrolled in Sarah’s online Fiction Writing: American Indians class. I highly recommend it to folks who include Indians, Native Americans, Indigenous People, or The First People in their writing.

    Reply

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