November 7, 2011

How My World Shapes My Writing

by Paty Jager

I’ve dabbled in different venues of writing over the course of my lifetime. First as a child writing plays for stuffed animals, then at thirteen writing stories of love and lust that my friends and I passed back and forth adding scenes, to witnessing what words can do when an English teacher read one of my assigned fiction projects to the class- all the way through writing children’s stories for my kids, writing murder mystery when I wanted to kill someone (killed that person off in two manuscripts), writing for the local paper when it fit my lifestyle, and then to finally settle into historical western romance.

Each stage of my writing had to do with what was going on in and around me at the time so it only makes sense that I find myself writing about history- American History, specifically the 1800’s has always been my favorite subject. I love museums, historical sites, and finding bits of history that were so integral to life when this country was spreading and growing.

I think having grown up in a semi –isolated part of the state that was slow to get technology it brought out the pioneer spirit in me. Until I was twelve, my paternal grandparents lived with us. There were seven people in a three bedroom, one bath farmhouse. We had a woodshed where we chopped kindling and stored the wood for the cookstove. When we did get an electric range we still had a wood heating stove and used the wood cookstove when the power went out which was fairly often. When the power went out we used kerosene and oil lamps, the outhouse, and hauled buckets of water to the house from the ditch. Looking back, it was usually in the winter when we were forced to relive the pioneer days. And on many occasions the pipes from the well to the house froze, and we had to haul water to the house.

My family had a small herd of dairy cows and used an old hand crank separator to separate the milk from the cream. We used the milk for ourselves and the hogs we raised. We made our own butter from the cream and sold the rest to the creamery. We raised 100 chickens every year, butchering all but thirty, which were laying hens. I hated the smell of the wet feathers after you dunked them in the boiling water to loosen the feathers. And disemboweling them and cutting them up- I’d always offer to fold clothes, clean the bathroom, or whatever other chore I could think of than spend hours smelling the feathers and butchered chickens. My grandmother sold extra eggs to neighbors and the local grocery store.

These are all events in my life that easily happened in the era that I write about. I can feel the woodstove, hear the clank of the metal plates as grandma put more kindling in the fire. Smell the acrid smoke that slipped through the chimney that went through my bedroom. I more or less lived the life I write about in my historical westerns.

My love of the west and the area where I grew up, led me to write the Christmas Novella I’m giving away free. Christmas Redemption came about from my reading a story about a man from Joesph, OR who robbed a bank as a young man and twenty-seven years later became the vice president of the same bank.

Van Donovan doesn’t become the bank president but I used the premise as the catalyst for the story.
Christmas Redemption Blurb
Van Donovan returns to Pleasant Valley, Oregon where twelve years earlier as a boy of fifteen he left in handcuffs after standing guard for a bank robbery. He's learned a trade and excelled at it and is ready to prove to his father and the town he can amount to something.

Upon his return he learns the fate of the daughter of an innocent man who died in the robbery crossfire. To make amends he takes her out of the saloon and gives her a job, not realizing she'd been squatting in the very building he'd purchased for his business.

Can two battered hearts find solace or will the past continue to haunt their lives?

You can download Christmas Redemption Free at all ebook outlets but Kindle. (If you want to go there and click the “I found this cheaper elsewhere” button they might eventually drop it to free there.)
Also available at Apple iBooks

What is your favorite genre to read and why? I’ll pick a name from the comments and send the winner a $5 Amazon GC.

Paty Jager


Caroline Clemmons said...

Paty, since you pointed it out, I can see how what was happening in my life shaped my books. Loved the post. I'm saving your Christmas story until after Thanksgiving, but reading it now is very tempting. No, I'm forcing myself to wait. No Christmas stuff until after Thanksgiving. Right?

Lauri said...

Lovely post, Paty. I remember when my grandparents got indoor plumbing, and we still heat with wood. I love the warmth it gives.

Christmas Redemption is a precious story, and it's so gracious of you to share it for free.


Kathryn Merkel said...

Paty, my mom had a similar upbringing & though at the time she might have felt she was missing out on something by not having indoor plumbing & a toasty warm house, these days she feels that her childhood had a kind of magic todays kids don't have. My siblings & I in comparison had a very spoiled childhood, but my mom made sure we appreciated the extras we had that she didn't when she was growing up.

My first favorite author was Laura Ingalls Wilder, so even though I myself didn't have to haul water or butcher chickens, I do have a deep appreciation for history. When my tastes matured & I begain reading romances, I naturally gravitated to historicals & although I read all kinds these days, they are still my favorite genre.

drainbamaged.gyzmo at

christine warner said...

Hi Paty, I loved learning a bit about you. Though I grew up with most of the major conveniences, I do have very fond memories of losing power in the winter on a few occasions and heating one room with the fireplace, helping my mom cook in a huge pot that hung in the same fireplace and just all the family time that I think is missed a lot today because everyone is stuck away with all their individual gadgets. They are still connecting, but not like how it used to be.

Anyway your story sounds wonderful and I'm going to give my Nook a new friend. Glad I found you!

As for genres I prefer to read, I love contemporary because that's where I started, but I also enjoy historical and a good mystery or thriller too!

Much success to you!

Nicole McCaffrey said...

Great post, Paty! I love hearing how other authors came by their stories and how their lifestyles influenced them, this reminded me so much of things I've heard my dad recall about his childhood.

Christmas Redemption is a great story!

Debby Lee said...

Hi Paty, it was a plesure speaking with you at the Emerald City conference a few weeksa ago. Like you, I grew up on a farm and love reading about 1800's America. The Civil War tends to be my favorite genre followed closely by Westerns. Looking forward to reading Christmas Redemption.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Paty,
Great blog. Nothing like writing about something you know. It is the small things that add to the realism of a historical. I can remember my grandmother's house which was on an isolated farm. Wood stoves, kerosene lamps and drawing water from the well. Thank you for the trip down memory lane.


Paty Jager said...

Caroline, I really believe it is your life that defines you as writer. I give you permission to wait until after Thanksgiving... if you can. LOL

Paty Jager said...


It is amazing how different our lives are from our children's. Thank you for your kind words about Christmas Redemption.

Paty Jager said...

Kathryn, I love Laura Ingalls Wilder and she is my daughters' favorite author. They have the whole collection of her books and read them to their children.

I agree kids today need to be less spoiled and learn the value of work ethic and what a dollar truly means.

Paty Jager said...

Christine, Gathering around the fireplace sounds like fun! It is great when the family does things together.

Thank you for commenting!

Paty Jager said...

Hi Nic! Thanks for stopping in.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Debby! I'll be contacting you for sure in January. I enjoyed meeting you and can't wait to develop our friendship.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Margaret. You're most welcome!

Tanya Hanson said...

Hi Paty, beautiful cover. I did go the Kindle route, but well worth it LOL. Now I gotta make time to read it, but there's still a while to cuddle up with some cocoa before Christmas.

I always love reading about you and how you got your start and where you get your inspiration. oxox

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

WOW what a great plot concept, Paty. Isn't it great that we can find stories in the strangest places.

I love reaching back into my history to pull out parts and pieces for my stories, too.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Tanya! Thanks, my daughter made the cover.Being in fashion design she has a good eye for things. I hope you enjoy the story.

Hi Paisley. Thanks! I thought it was great when I read it. I do like to pull from things I know when I write.

marybelle said...

It's not just writing, of course, our world helps shape who we are & the direction we take. A wonderful post. I can remember my Mother cooking on a wood stove & when we got indoor plumbing. A toilet inside, what a luxury.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Marybelle,

I truly believe our world shapes our writing. that's why two people can write about the same subject and it will read differently from both.

Terri Reed said...

Paty, wow interesting. Love the sound of the story. Hope it sells well.

Maggie Jaimeson said...

Great concept for a holiday story. I will definitely go download it now. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Paty Jager said...

Terri, thanks for stopping by. It's #38 on the kindle free reads right now!!

Hi Maggie! Thank you for getting the book.