Texas Witching Hour
Welcome to the Witch’s Dilemma blog series. This is the first of eight blogs that will lead up to the release of the book in October, in time to get you in the Halloween spirit. Today we will start with how Witch’s Dilemma came about.
I began writing Witch’s Dilemma, along with Demons of the Jungle, in August of 2013. I figured that this was the thing to do, since I was following the suggestions in my West on the East – Noon Judgment rejection letter (for more on that, read ‘Numbers to Words: My Journey from Engineering to Writing’) and pulling characters from that manuscript. I had two psychiatrists in the manuscript: Valerie Bell, who was originally named Victoria, and Ivan Sinclair. Valerie had a family; Ivan did not. I decided to use Valerie and her whole family, which included her mother, Greta Batts, her two kids, Tyler and Ava, and her husband, Adam. Next I determined that they needed to be in another state from that of West on the East; with Valerie’s ego I decided Texas was a good fit. Her selfishness also led me to drop the kids from the story altogether, but I would keep the supernatural element that was in the plot of West on the East, which included ties to the Bell Witch haunting that took place in Adams, Tennessee back in the days of Andrew Jackson. I had to make some adjustments to the plot to fit the new location, and add some storylines.
Next I decided to pull some of the other characters from the original manuscript. After pulling Greta I still had too many doctors, police officers and private detectives in the manuscript, so Dirk Fulton and his girlfriend Angelina, Jerry Simms, Mark Teal, Raymond Samson and Robert James were relocated from the ranch in Georgia to the humidity of Fort Worth, Texas. Since I was writing Demons of the Jungle and Witch’s Dilemma at the same time, I decided to tie the two together but also make sure they could stand alone.
By February of 2014 the story had taken shape, but there was still an element missing, something wicked and unheard of. One of my beta readers – also my insurance agent and friend, Jackie Price, who loves the supernatural – told me about a weird dream she had had about cats, a washing machine and a virus that was circulating on Facebook in the form of a link that, once clicked, would kill you. This was the strange and unusual element I was looking for, and decided that I would elaborate on this theme and use it as a subplot for Witch’s Dilemma.
Since the rejection letter suggested that my first book should be under 50,000 words, I decided that this one should be the same. The first draft fell into that goal at 42,517. However, upon completion the total word count was well over 140,000 words. That was OK, I was allowed to change my mind, and this would be the second book, which I had been told should be three times as long as the first but under 150,000 – this word count was perfect.
On the writing front, once the first manuscript review was complete, one of the suggestions made by the editor was to find a style and stick with it. Demons of the Jungle and Witch’s Dilemma were written and formatted differently. Her suggestion: read some of my favorite authors and get a sense of what I wanted my book to look like. The titles below are the books I chose to read. Upon completion of my reading task I took something from each author I liked and combined them together, finding my own unique way of writing. I went back and reformatted Witch’s Dilemma using this new style. Click on the title to read my reviews and see what I learned from each author.
Woman with a Gun by Phillip Margolin
Flesh and Blood: A Scarpetta Novel by Patricia Cornwell
Split Second by Catherine Coulter
Creating Witch’s Dilemma reminds me of the weird stuff that happened when they were filming the movie The Exorcist. From conception, August 2013, to Completion, October 2016, the book took 3 years and 2 months, and within that time a lot of strange things happened. The original editor withdrew during the second manuscript review due to content. I had to have emergency gall bladder surgery, and a year later suffered a heart attack. The new editor fell ill during the final edit and proofread.
Once the first editor bowed out, the manuscript had to be reformatted once again to allow the new editor, Clare, to start with a clean slate. Along with all that I had to stop the writing process on Witch’s Dilemma to release Demons of the Jungle in May of 2014, and then again when I decided to write a second edition of Demons of the Jungle and incorporate the new formatting style there as well. To read the reasons behind that move, read ‘When is a Second Edition Needed?’
Through it all Clare and I have weathered the storms and are pretty sure we have a bestseller on our hands. We hope you have just as much fun reading Witch’s Dilemma as we did working on it. Till next week, when I reveal the magnificent cover art.
The other blogs in the Witch’s Dilemma series: Book Teaser/Cover Release – Valerie and Associates – Fort Worth Government – LACN Investigations – Rounding out the Cast – The Bell Witch Haunting – Some Things Can’t be Explained.
Witch’s Dilemma and blog edited by Clare Diston @ Human Voices.