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Archive for the category “Demons of the Jungle”

Demons of the Jungle – The Art Work

Every book should have cover art that will catch your eye in a sea of other books. I wrote about this in a book review of “Woman with a Gun” written by Phillip Margolin. The cover art was so unique and different it drew me to the book.  I also like illustrations in a book, to me they enhance the story which brings the reader deeper into the plot. Below is a sneak preview of the cover art and illustrations.

By Rick Chappell of Chappell Grahix

© 2016 Joseph Clay, Rick Chappell, Chappell Graphix

The Cover Art above was created by Rick Chappell of Chappell Graphix located here in the Nashville, area. Rick used the same concept of the cover of the first edition that was painted by John Cannon. Rick added a face and body language that shows a connection between the woman and the serpent. The cover art above is under copyright and can’t be reproduced without permission from the owner Joseph Clay and the Artist Rick Chappell.

The second edition shows more and tells less, and is formatted different, which makes the book longer. For more on how the second edition came about you can read the following blogs, “When is a second edition needed?”, Birth of the Demons.“, “Piecing it all together.”

John Cannon drew all the illustrations for the first edition, there were six in the printed version. Once the second edition was complete, due to the new formatting, I needed more illustrations. John drew seven more bringing the total to thirteen sketches. Some of the sketches from the first edition were relocated to different sections of the second edition.

John Cannon is an artist here in the Nashville. His studio is located in the Five Points area of East Nashville at the Idea Hatchery, 1108 Woodland St. Visit him there or check out his website johncannonart, you won’t be disappointed.

The new format breaks the book up into parts and each part has a sketch on the lead in page. Below are the sketches as they appear in the second edition. All sketches below are under copyright and can’t be reproduced without permission from the owner Joseph Clay and the Artist John Cannon.

© 2014-2016 Joseph Clay, John Cannon, John Cannon Fine Art

Part One – A DEMON PRESENCE – © 2014-2016 Joseph Clay, John Cannon, John Cannon Fine Art

 

Part 2 Debra Wright

Part Two – THE RELEASE OF DEBRA WRIGHT – © 2016 Joseph Clay, John Cannon, John Cannon Fine Art

 

Demon

Part Three – STARTING ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE – ©2014 – 2016 Joseph Clay, John Cannon, John Cannon Fine Art

 

 

 

Part 4 Patricia Mitchell

Part Four – FREEDOM FOR PATRICIA MITCHELL – ©2016 Joseph Clay, John Cannon, John Cannon Fine Art

 

Falls

Part Five – JUNGLE ICE – ©2014 – 2016 Joseph Clay, John Cannon, John Cannon Fine Art

 

Part 6 Hotlanta

Part Six – HOTLANTA – ©2016 Joseph Clay, John Cannon, John Cannon Fine Art

 

Part 7 Stars Lone Star State

Part Seven – STARS IN THE LONE STAR STATE – ©2016 Joseph Clay, John Cannon, John Cannon Fine Art

 

Herd

Part Eight – THE BARREN WASTELAND – ©2014 – 2016 Joseph Clay, John Cannon, John Cannon Fine Art

 

Radio

Part Nine – WHO’S IN CHARGE – ©2014 – 2016 Joseph Clay, John Cannon, John Cannon Fine Art

 

The Games

Part Ten – PRE-TRIAL MOTIONS – ©2014 – 2016 Joseph Clay, John Cannon, John Cannon Fine Art

 

Part 11 Plea deal

Part Eleven – PLEA DEAL OFFERED – ©2016 Joseph Clay, John Cannon, John Cannon Fine Art

 

Part 12 The Trail

Part Twelve – THE TRIAL – ©2016 Joseph Clay, John Cannon, John Cannon Fine Art

 

Part 13 Killer Smile

Part Thirteen – FREEDOM WITH A KILLER SMILE – ©2016 Joseph Clay, John Cannon, John Cannon Fine Art

 

Other blogs in this series; When is a second edition needed?Birth of the DemonsPiecing it all together Who is Debra Lynn Wright Who is Patricia Sue MitchellWho is Levi Colt West The Demons A deal too good to be true.

Demons of the Jungle, second edition, will go on sale Feb.5, 2016, The book will be available on Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, and other e-book outlets. For a paperback copy visit Amazon, or for a personalized autographed copy, at no extra charge, visit the official website AuthorJosephClay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Deal Too Good To Be True

Debra Wright had been released from rehab once again after serving her time in the slammer. As the cold rain turned to sleet she stumbled off the concrete stoop and shifted her backpack, which contained everything she owned. The nightmares were still haunting her and she was tired of living on the streets, fighting for every scrap of food. Debra was determined to make it south so that she wouldn’t have to endure another Detroit winter…

 

Patricia Mitchell watched her graduation cap sail high into the air at her private Catholic school in Birmingham. She had accomplished what her parents wanted: Patricia was a true southern belle who had graduated at the top of her class. She had been waiting for this day for months, and tomorrow she would be on her way to the Gulf Coast with her friends to celebrate. For once she was going to experience real life and fun. But her dad had other plans, and they didn’t include her traipsing around on a beach half-naked with a bunch of drunk teenagers. That night Patricia took all she could and left via her bedroom window…

 

These two young women, total opposites, had the same goal: each wanted a different life. They met by chance and the bond between them was immediate. Together they set out on a journey that led from one adventure to another, but heartache, pain and trouble seemed to find them at every turn. In Texas Patricia and Debra shared the leading roles in an off-Broadway production. Their lives appeared to be on the right track until opening night, when all hell broke loose and murder put them on the run again. Patricia never mentioned it but she felt as if a mystical force was pulling them to a faraway destination which promised protection from the evils and troubles of the outside world. The organization STRFAA (Save The Rain Forest And Animals) offered them a deal that was too good to pass up and, they soon learned, too good to be true. They became prisoners in a jungle paradise, where The King of the Demons made his offer: drink the magic elixir or be subjected to torment and death, just like the ones who had refused to drink before them. Will Patricia’s vision of rescue come to pass? So far there is no sign of a knight in shining armor, and time is running out as one of the two holds the cup in her hands…

 

That’s a wrap readers! This was the last blog in the series Demons of the Jungle. The second edition is scheduled for release around the end of January/first of February. If you missed any of the posts all you need to do is click-n-go: “When is a second edition needed?”, “Birth of the Demons”, “Piecing it all together”, “Who is Debra Wright?”, “Who is Patricia Mitchell?”, “Who is Levi West?”, “The Demons”.

 

This may be the last blog, but it’s not the last of the posts. Next week is the unveiling of the new cover art by Rick Chappell – it uses the same concept as the original, with a few added touches. Make sure you don’t miss it.

 

Blog edited by Clare Diston @ Human Voices.

 

The Demons

We are only weeks away from the release of Demons of the Jungle, Second Edition. This week’s blog will be a little different, giving you, the reader, an insight into the story before the final blog next week.

Every book needs to have an antagonist. Demons has several. The first two we will cover have names that are Latin and Greek. For more on how these names came about, check out blog three in this series, “Piecing it all together”.

We’ll start with the boss of the crew, Malum (ma·lum). Malum is the mastermind behind the scheme to rule the world by populating it with other demons that are under his control. Unsuspecting people in trouble wander into his realm, thinking they will be safe. Malum, however, through calculated events has lured them there to help with his devious plot.

Malum’s son, Asmodeus (/ˌæzməˈdiːəs/) – who is one of the seven the princes of Hell and the demon of lust – travels the world persuading and tempting those that fall for his charms. He has help on his travels: Clark and Jenny, non-demons who have chosen to drink the elixir and become immortal, and are also recruiters for Malum. Of course, others have already joined Malum in his quest before our two protagonists, Debra and Patricia, get there (click on their names to read the Bios for each). Paula and others are still in the jungle, while others have disappeared. Have those missing people served out their contracts and returned home, or was Malum behind their disappearance because they refused to join him?

In Demons the young ladies scramble to stay alive, but are they running from what is trying to save them? Will their plan work to beat Malum and get back to their world? Will the help Patricia foresaw show up in time? Who are they looking for and will their help be in human or spirit form? They have no idea, they don’t know who to trust and time is running out!

Excerpts from Demons of the Jungle

“Debra, minutes after they dropped you off, my clan snatched them from the car at a traffic light. They were beaten, tortured, and your mother raped again, all in my name, before being sacrificed to me,” Malum explained.

Debra stood there in shock with tears streaming down her face. She froze as she stood and listened, while Malum continued.

He chuckled as he went into the details about holding the bathroom door shut at the truck stop, which made Debra miss her ride out west. His plan would have been foiled if she had not been there when Trish arrived.

“Trish, like with Debra I had to make sure you stayed away from home. I couldn’t take a chance on you returning and not meeting Debra. I used the power of Mother Nature to destroy them as they slept. The superior being would not allow me to make them suffer,” Malum exclaimed.

Debra and Trish were now hugging each other, crying and trembling, but they found some comfort in each other’s arms. Trish could tell by Malum’s voice the pleasure he was getting from telling them the details of his executed plan. She didn’t want to interrupt as he continued.

His story moved on to Texas and how Trish was correct in her assumption about that night on the Texas stage. Damian and Luke were indeed the same person, and that’s how the flyers had got in their hands. Then he moved on to what they didn’t know. The actor playing Mr. Evil had written the script and made a deal with Malum in exchange for two virgins, beautiful, of course. He would use his play to bring people from the light and into the darkness.

“That’s why you two were in Texas,” Malum stated.

*

Both girls had stopped eating and were trying to keep their food down as the feature stopped rolling. Debra tried to rock her chair but to no avail. She looked at Trish and whispered, “I’m making a run for it.”

“Hang on, help will be here soon,” Trish replied.

Debra paid no attention as she fought to crawl out of the chair over the table, getting nowhere. The lights were turned back up.

“In front of you, ladies, are the cups. Drink and enjoy life with no fear and enjoy the palace, or suffer a grueling slow death,” Malum said.

“Why didn’t you give Mrs. Johnson the cup? She was willing,” Trish asked.

“Her soul was a good one, but his was the one I needed,” Malum barked.

Trish nodded her head as she turned to Debra. With tears pouring down her face, Debra shook her head.

“I don’t have your optimism. I don’t want to die that way. Something made Mrs. Johnson feel pure pleasure before her demise. She appeared to enjoy it. If that’s the spawning ritual, bearing their children is the lesser of the two evils for me. I’ll beg for a quick death for you if you choose not to drink,” Debra whispered.

Debra reached for the cup. Her hands were shaking as she brought it to her mouth. Before she could get the goblet to her lips, Trish held her other hand.

“No, hang on, I feel help is close,” Trish exclaimed.

Blogs in this series: “When is a second edition needed?”, “Birth of the Demons”, “Piecing it all together”, “Who is Debra Wright?”, “Who is Patricia Mitchell?”, “Who is Levi West”, and the teaser before the release, “A deal too good to be true”.

 

Blog edited by Clare Diston @ Human Voices.

 

Who is Levi Colt West?

Ok, we have covered the two protagonists in “Who is Debra Lynn Wright?” and “Who is Patricia Sue Mitchell?” This week we will cover a supporting character whose Bio Template is as thick as a book.

But first, a little more information about the Bio Template. The first page of the Template, ‘Character Data’, is book-related, meaning that the facts on that sheet are relevant to that story alone. The more books the character appears in, the more front sheets he or she has. The second sheet, ‘Bio’, grows with the character, as new information is added every time something changes in their life – they get married, divorced, enter education, you get the idea. On the third sheet, ‘Notes’, I list each book that the character appears in, the changes that happen in their life in each book, and any notes that are needed to make sure they wear the same watch, drive the same car or carry the same phone throughout the story.

Levi West is the first character that I dreamed up and, oh, he had plenty of names before this one took hold. Remember back in the blog “From Engineering to an Author” I mentioned that the first novel I penned was over a hundred thousand words, and that the editor made suggestions about what path I should take? Well, Levi was the major player in that book (which will turn into a series). The way he got into this book was unexpected and unplanned. The editor of Demons of the Jungle, First Edition didn’t like the way the story ended and suggested that I change it. I decided that, since in the future Levi would become a household name, I would introduce him in Demons. Great marketing idea, don’t you think?

From the Bio Template, Page One

Book title, year: Demons of the Jungle, 2009

Name: Levi Colt West

AKA: Levi

Character prominence: Minor

Role: Protagonist

Year of birth: 1984

Age at time of story: 25

Physical Description

Sex: Male

Height: 6’-5”

Weight: 285 pounds

Hair: Black, spiked on top and short on the sides

Eyes: Deep blue

Nose: Greek

Mouth: Normal

Lips: Plump

Teeth: White, perfect

Build: Muscular, body builder definition

Skin tone: Smooth, dark complexion (half American Indian)

Hands: Extra large

Feet: Extra large

Striking Features, Distinctive Language, Hobbies, etc

  • Sheer size.
  • Southern drawl with a lot of baseball lingo.
  • Hobbies: Golf, baseball, horseback riding.

 Goals/Motivations

  • To find a diamond or gold mine for purchase.
  • To… [If I say any more it will give the story away.]

 Fatal Flaws

  • Temper

[Levi shows up in the last chapter so his major flaws do not come into play.]

Saving Graces

  • Ability to communicate telepathically with his grandmother and others while in deep meditation.
  • Friends in high places.
  • Determination.

Role Played and Outcome

Levi is a businessman on a trip to Alaska.

Outcome: [Sorry, I can’t tell you. You’ll have to read the book.]

From the Bio Template, Page Two

Levi Colt West, known as Levi, was born and raised on a ranch in Dahlonega, Georgia. His family was wealthy and Levi never wanted for anything and attended the best private schools. Levi’s life changed when his dad, Remington, and grandfather, Winchester, were killed in a plane crash. Two years later, his mom, Susan, and grandmother, Betsy, perished in a car accident. The death of Betsy, who was Levi’s rock, sent the ranch and his mental state into a downward spiral. When Levi turned eighteen he was handed control of the ranch business and it was his job to pull it from the ruins and restore it to its former glory. While doing this he learned what his family was all about, and this fit right in with Levi’s mentality and disposition. Within three years everything was on track and Levi never looked back.

Excerpt from Demons of the Jungle

There was nothing Levi could do. Doug was strict when it came to safety, and since Levi wasn’t certified in rescue he had to remain on the sidelines, watching. Elena, who knew her man better than the back of her hand, walked over and took his gloved paw. He bent down so he could hear what she was saying. He smiled as she talked and rushed to the table where Doug was.

“How many crews have you got?” he asked.

“We don’t know if anybody is buried. The transmitter we’re picking up could have been knocked out of someone’s hand. They got away from the slide. I’m only working one crew,” he explained.

Levi, trying to keep his temper in check, took a deep breath to make sure his words were not harsh or coming out in anger.

“Do you have more than one crew?” He reworded the question.

“Yes, I have five more. They work in eight-hour shifts. I can’t warrant bringing the other two in,” he stated.

“I think you can. Talk it over with your superiors while I’m gone. I’ll be back within the hour,” Levi said with a firm look.

Elena had the bird in the air. Levi was on his cell; he may not be able to help in the rescue, but he could help the rescuers.

Levi and Elena were back. They had a crew of six with them, who were unloading the bird. She and Levi found Doug.

“We rounded up some help. These people, along with Elena and I, will set up a tent. Inside there will be refreshments, cots for rest, and a warming station. She’s headed back for more supplies,” Levi explained.

“Levi, I’ve no idea who you are but I got a call from the Governor Sean Parnell, then Sarah Palin. Needless to say, I’ve called the other two crews in,” Doug stated, shaking his head.

“Thank you. Can you give me an update?” Levi asked.

After Demons of the Jungle is released Levi’s full bio will be posted on the official website, AuthorJosephClay.

Blogs in this series: “When is a second edition needed?”, “Birth of the Demons”, “Piecing it all together”, “Who is Debra Wright?”, “Who is Patricia Mitchell?”, “The Demons”, and the teaser before the release, “A deal too good to be true”.

 

Blog edited by Clare Diston @ Human Voices.

 

Who is Patricia Sue Mitchell?

In my last blog, “Who is Debra Lynn Wright?” we learned about who Debra is and some of her background. This week we will learn more about her sidekick, Patricia. If you remember way back in blog three, “Piecing it all together”, I said that I made these two as opposite as possible. Below is the information from the Bio Template for Patricia Sue Mitchell.

From the Bio Template, Page One

Book title, year: Demons of the Jungle, 2009

Name: Patricia Sue Mitchell

AKA: Trish

Character prominence: Major

Role: Protagonist

Year of birth: 1992

Age at time of story: 17

Physical Description

Sex: Female

Height: 5’-8”

Weight: 135 pounds

Hair: Dishwater blonde, straight, shoulder blade length

Eyes: Blue, wears glasses

Nose: Short and wide

Mouth: Wide

Lips: Normal

Teeth: White, straight, with braces

Build: Medium, curvaceous

Skin tone: Smooth, fair complexion with a light tan

Hands: Medium

Feet: Medium

Striking Features, Distinctive Language, Hobbies, etc

  • Perfect smile, charisma.
  • Southern drawl.
  • Hobbies: None.

 Goals/Motivations

  • To see what life is about beyond her sheltered existence. She was not allowed to join her friends on her senior trip, so she wants to see what she was missing.
  • To devise a plan to defeat the demons so she and Debra may have a chance to survive their ordeal. She is tired of feeling the evil at every turn and does not want to be in its clutches.
  • To gain Debra’s trust and help her to understand what is really going on in the jungle. To leave the jungle, with Debra, and put her life back together.

 Fatal Flaws

  • Gullible.
  • Naive.
  • Too trusting.

Saving Graces

  • Her Faith.
  • A gift of discerning spirits.
  • Education.

 Role Played and Outcome

Trish joins Debra on the road, against her wishes, to learn about the life she has been sheltered from. Co-lead with Debra Lynn Wright.

Outcome: [Sorry, I can’t tell you. You’ll have to read the book.]

 From the Bio Template, Page Two

Patricia Sue Mitchell, known as Trish, was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. Her family was in the upper middle class and lived comfortably with Trish, who never needed anything and got most of everything she wanted. After all, she was her mom’s Southern belle and her dad’s pride and joy, but at the same time both parents were over-protective. Her parents were devoted Catholics – they never missed a Mass or service and were involved in all church-related activities, which Trish was forced to attend. At first this didn’t bother her, till she got older and felt she should have a choice in whether to go or stay at home.

Trish attended the same all-girls, private Catholic school since kindergarten, where she made lifelong friends. She and those friends had plans to spend a couple of weeks on the Gulf Coast after graduation; Trish’s mom agreed, but Mr. Mitchell put his foot down and refused to let her participate in such activities. Trish set out on a mission to change his mind by reminding him of her gift. That brings us up to when the story takes over.

Excerpt from Demons of the Jungle

Trish had started to stir inside the hut as the clock went off. She was up stretching, trying to get the kinks out after another restless night. From her footlocker she removed a new nightshirt and laid it across the bed before she slipped out of the ripped, sweat-soaked one. Trish sucked air in through her teeth as the burning and stinging from her torso brought tears to her eyes. She grabbed the mirror from her locker to see what was causing the pain. She gasped as it revealed five long red streaks, different widths, which ran down her chest to her stomach, stopping just below her navel. The ones across each breast were the most painful.

“Oh my Lord, those scratches are from a huge hand. No animal has a paw that big. Wait till Debs sees this.” She gasped as she pulled the new shirt over her head.

Trish headed out to start the day, skeptical about what may happen next. As she opened the hut door Debra walked by.

“I got something to show you. Much obliged for the coffee,” Trish stated when she saw her cup steaming on the table.

“No problem, girl. Can you show me whatever it is later? I’m going to get readings. Oh, the breakfast bars are on the bench. Do you feel better?” Debra asked.

“Fit as a fiddle for now,” Trish answered, taking a deep breath and shaking her head.

“Great. Hey, we’ve only got seven hundred twenty five more days of paradise left, so let’s enjoy it,” Debra said with a smile before walking away.

“Have some modesty, please. We’re not trailer folk. When are you planning on putting some clothes on, Debs?” Trish asked, shaking her finger at Debra.

After Demons of the Jungle is released Trish’s full bio will be posted on the official website, AuthorJosephClay.

Blogs in this series: “When is a second edition needed?”, “Birth of the Demons”, “Piecing it all together”, “Who is Debra Wright?”, “Who is Levi West?”, “The Demons”, and the teaser before the release, “A deal too good to be true”.

Blog edited by Clare Diston @ Human Voices.

 

Who is Debra Lynn Wright?

In my last blog, “Piecing it all Together”, I discussed how I named characters and how I made the two main protagonists, Debra Wright and Patricia Mitchell, total opposites from one another. That was the short version. Once I got names it was time to build the characters from there: give each a face, features, personality, dialect and a bio/background. They also needed motivations and goals, flaws and saving graces which pertained to the story.

I have a three-page bio/character-building template that I use. I’m not going to get into all the details of the sheet (I will write a blog on the Bio Template itself in between books), but all the information you are about to read came from the Bio Template, so you will get an idea of all that it contains. This is the description of one of the main characters in Demons of the Jungle: Debra Lynn Wright. Not everything will be revealed here—only the high points and any items that are in her bio but may not have come out in the book. (Yep, that happens sometimes. If it happens to you, don’t force the information into your book; readers will know if doesn’t belong, as it will read awkwardly or slow down the flow of the story. And if the proofreader/editor removes some of it, bite the bullet and leave it out.)

From the Bio Template, Page One

Book title, year: Demons of the Jungle, 2009

Name: Debra Lynn Wright

AKA: Debs, Red, Red Gator

Character prominence: Major

Role: Protagonist

Year of birth: 1988

Age at time of story: 21

Physical Description

Sex: Female

Height: 5’-7”

Weight: 115 pounds

Hair: Red, straight, mid-back in length

Eyes: Brown

Nose: Medium length and width, turned up at the end

Mouth: Small

Lips: Top thin, bottom full

Teeth: Chipped and rotting from drug use

Build: Thin and athletic

Skin tone: Light with freckles, burns easily

Hands: Medium

Feet: Medium

 Striking Features, Distinctive Language, Hobbies, etc

  • Bright red hair.
  • Uses a lot of gang slang and street language in her speech, with an American accent from north of the Mason Dixon line.
  • Hobbies: None.

 Goals/Motivations

  • To stay clean and free of drugs. To be able to support herself in a home of her own, with food on the table, in a warmer climate.
  • To help Patricia through her struggles and keep her from trying drugs. To help someone else avoid making her mistakes.
  • To protect herself and Patricia in the jungle, in order to achieve the first goal.

 Fatal Flaws

  • Hot-tempered and has a smart mouth.
  • Always fighting the drug demons.
  • Trust issues.

Saving Graces

  • Cares about others and discourages them when she thinks they are making mistakes that could lead them down the path she has traveled.
  • A survivor.
  • Learns to trust Patricia.

 Role Played and Outcome

Debra is a homeless, street-smart young woman striving for a better life. Co-lead with Patricia Sue Mitchell.

Outcome: [Sorry, I can’t tell you. You’ll have to read the book.]

 

From the Bio Template, Page Two

Debra Lynn Wright was born in 1988. Her parents are unknown to her as she was delivered to an orphanage before she was a month old. Debra was bounced from foster home to foster home for most of her infant and toddler years. The only time she learned anything about family life was between the ages of six and thirteen; she spent those years with the same family.

Once Debra hit puberty she soon figured out that blood was thicker than water. Her foster family had an older biological son that loved spying on Debra in the shower, sneaking into her room at night, and behaving in other mischievous ways. The mom caught him and decided it was too risky to have Debra in the home with a 15 year old with raging hormones. She informed the orphanage that Debra was not the problem, but that she felt it would be safer for Debra and the boy if they came and picked her up.

The next family let her know that she was only there for the check they received for keeping her. The only two rules: Debra had to be there when the social worker showed up, and say nothing negative to screw up their check. Other than that they preferred not to lay eyes on her.

At the age of 14 Debra found herself spending more and more time on the streets. Life in Detroit was getting rough and the family used Debra’s money to feed themselves, leaving her with very little for food, school supplies and clothes. Debra was eating out of trash cans from behind restaurants and begging for money on street corners.

When she turned 16 she dropped out of school and disappeared into the multitude of homeless people that now consumed the streets. Debra learned the system well: when she got sick she intentionally got caught shop-lifting so that she would be arrested. The county lock-up had free medical care and they were obligated to get her to a doctor.

She learned to survive on the streets and became withdrawn and a loner. To ease the fear, pain and bottled-up anger she carried around—which was caused by horrific nightmares and her hate and resentment from being tossed to the curb by her birth parents—Debra turned to drugs soon after she became 17.  She would take odd jobs, including being a waitress, stripper or temp worker. When nothing was available in those fields she would turn to panhandling, and if that didn’t bring enough cash in she would commit petty theft in order to feed her habit. She stayed away from crimes that were considered felonies to avoid long stints behind bars.

Debra never gave into the deals the pimps tossed her way and she stayed away from prostitution, as her virginity was all she had left. Her habit had taken everything else: her pride, health, integrity and self-esteem were all gone. By the time she was 18 her norm was a vicious cycle: being arrested, getting sentenced to drug rehab and being released, only to repeat the cycle days, weeks or months later. This continued till she was 21, which brings us up to when the story takes over.

Excerpt from Demons of the Jungle

“Should we choose not to drink we’ll suffer a horrific death,” Debra exclaimed, her hands shaking as she flipped the pages.

Trish started to weep, her hands and knees trembling. With her eyes twitching she covered her mouth and dashed toward the porta john they used. She didn’t make it. She stopped short of the door and bent over, the coffee and breakfast bars crashing to the ground as she heaved. Debra poured water over a cloth and rushed to her, handing her the rag.

“My nerves are all torn up, Debs. When will this nightmare end?” Trish sobbed as she straightened up and wiped her face.

Debra pulled her in close and wiped the hair and tears from her face. They began the trek back to the table so Trish could get off her feet.

“Don’t worry Trish, we got this. We won’t become anyone’s sluts spitting out demon children, so get that picture out of your head. We have two days to figure something out.”

After Demons of the Jungle is released Debra’s full bio will be posted on the official website AuthorJosephClay.

Blogs in this series: “When is a second edition needed?”, “Birth of the Demons”, “Piecing it all together”, “Who is Patricia Mitchell?”, “Who is Levi West?”, “The Demons”, and the teaser before the release, “A deal too good to be true”.

Blog edited by Clare Diston @ Human Voices.

 

Piecing it all Together

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. When I last left you, in the blog titled “Birth of the Demons”, I had a basic outline from a writing exercise, and I needed to make sure I had a solid plot with some interesting characters. I also had to give them names, instead of calling them Person One, Two and Three, and come up with a gripping title.

I tackled the plot first. I had everything that was required:

  1. A story goal
  2. Consequences
  3. Requirements
  4. Forewarnings
  5. Costs
  6. Dividends
  7. Prerequisites
  8. Pre-conditions

After making a few tweaks to the material that tied the different ‘word of the day’ sections together, rearranging some of those sections, making some additions, and creating a few more mishaps, struggles and a sub-plot, I gave it a read through and was satisfied that the ‘big eight’, as I call them, were complete. I could move on to naming the characters.

I had been told by many writers that the best way to come up with names was to look in the phone book. I grabbed mine and wrote down first names, starting with the ‘A’s. After about ten I decided that was way too tedious. Then I remembered that I was suppose to pull characters from my first manuscript, West on the East – Noon Judgment, as the publisher suggested I do. For more on this check out my post From Engineering to an Author. I find two characters  that fit the bill for this story, Debra Wright and Patricia Mitchell. I check a blog my editor had written on assigning names to characters. I found that there are really only a few rules – more like guidelines – to follow when it comes to names:

  • Don’t name a character the first and last name of someone you know or have known
  • Don’t use names that start with the same letter or names that sound similar in the same story
  • Create names that only have one spelling
  • Use names that are two syllables, three at the most, and are easy to pronounce
  • Make sure to include a disclaimer in the front matter stating that all characters are fictional

Heck, that I could do! Debra Wright and Patricia Mitchell meet all the criteria. They would be my protagonists and I made them as opposite as possible. I did the same with the antagonists (there are several) and the rest of the supporting cast, using names such as Levi West and Elena Young, from the original manuscript. Then we have Paula, Luke and Damian.

With the next three characters I got creative and used Latin and Greek names that had a specific meaning that tied into the story (this technique also helped me come up with a concrete title). Malum: (Latin) evil, wrongdoing. Asmodeus: (Greek) one of the seven princes of Hell, Asmodeus is a demon that represents one of the seven deadly sins, lust, and is therefore responsible for twisting people’s sexual desires. Omni Potens: (Latin) almighty or infinite in power, having very great or unlimited authority or power. One of these three can also transform into any being they choose, hence why they may have one name in one chapter and another the next time they appear in the story.

With regular names, I tried to make sure the first and last names sounded real and went together. You might notice that I broke a couple of the above suggestions for names by going with Latin and Greek, but I felt it was necessary.

During the second edition re-write (see the first post in this series, “When is a second edition needed?”), one of the minor characters, Paula, gained a bigger role, which gave me a Patricia and a Paula – a name snafu that breaks my second rule, above. The fix was easy: Patricia became Trish and was only called by her full name a couple of times in the book, and not in the same chapters that Paula appeared in. Then I noticed I had a Levi and a Luke, which presented no problem as one of the two didn’t show up until the last chapter of the book.

Next I had to tackle the title. The story takes place in a jungle, so the natural name would be A Jungle Life. The editor continued making revisions and suggestions, such as, “Joe, you really need to get the elephant off the dead’s woman chest and do something with the body”. When the third draft rolled around (yes, I said third – this was my first book!), everything felt in place and the paranormal was working, along with the characters. I decided to combine the location with the situation to overcome. That’s when I changed the name to Demons of the Jungle, and it went on sale May 24th 2014.

If you have been keeping up with this series of blogs you will know that I have written a second edition, which is being released either late this year or early next year. Once I completed this new edition I contacted the editor who had walked me through the first edition of the book. To my surprise she suggested I get a fresh set of eyes to look at it.

The plot of the story hadn’t changed from the first edition to the second. The players and events, along with the outcome, stayed the same. So what did change? The format, writing style and cover art. The book increased in length as more substance was added to it, drawing the reader into the story with more showing than telling.

Is the book perfect? Not by a long shot. I will consider myself a novice writer until I have written a catalog of ten or more books. Is it better than the first edition? Yes, there’s no doubt in my mind. The beta readers say it’s like reading two different books and the new editor says it is “Stephen King-esque in places”.

Next week we start a set of four blogs about getting to know the main characters. I’ll start with Debra Wright. Also keep at look out for the new cover release and the new sketches that will be added to the printed version.

Blogs in this series: “When is a second edition needed?”,Birth of the Demons”, “Who is Debra Wright?”, “Who is Patricia Mitchell?”, “Who is Levi West?”, “The Demons”, and the teaser before the release, “A deal too good to be true”.

For more on the ‘big eight’ plot requirements mentioned above, visit “How To Create A Plot Outline In 8 Easy Steps”.

For more about naming characters, visit: “Naming Characters: Make it Easy for Yourself and Your Readers” (written by Eve Proofreads, editor of Demons of the Jungle First Edition).

 Demons of the Jungle second edition edited by Keidi Keating @ Your Book Angel.

Blog edited by Clare Diston @ Human Voices.

 

Birth of the Demons

On fall vacation in 2013 my true love, Nina the Kat and I were talking about the Nashville based publishing company and their suggestions they had made when they critiqued my manuscript, To find out more read my post From Engineering to an Author. Nina the Kat had decided that it was time for me to get serious and give it another go, she had come up with a writing exercise that would hone my skills. My thought: got to have skills to hone, but I agreed.

The writing exercise she proposed was that I take 14 consecutive words of the day—which were sent to us via Dictionary.com every morning—and write a scene around each word. Every day I would write a scene around the new word, building on the scene from the day before. This exercise began on October 24th 2013 with word one, and concluded on November 6th 2013 with word fourteen. The words are listed below in the order I received them.

  1. Fainaigue [fuh-NEYG], Verb – To shirk; evade work or responsibility.
  2. Rime [RAHYM], Noun – A coating of tiny, white, granular ice particles caused by a rapid freezing of water droplets.
  3. Svelte [SFELT], Adjective – Slender, especially graceful; slender in figure.
  4. Biblioklept [BIB-lee-uh-klept], Noun – A person who steals books.
  5. Trundle [TRUHN-dl], Verb – To convey or move in a wagon, cart or other wheeled vehicle.
  6. Empurple [em-PUR-puhl], Verb – To color or become purple or purplish; to darken or redden; flush.
  7. Alexipharmic [uh-lek-suh-FAHR-mik], Adjective – Warding off poisoning or infection, antidotal.
  8. Effervescent [ef-er-VES-uhnt], Adjective – High-spirited; vivacious; lively, also effervescing; bubbling.
  9. Pontificate [pon-TIF-i-keyt], Verb – To speak in a pompous or dogmatic manner, or to perform the office or duties of a pontiff.
  10. Erinaceous [er-uh-NEY-shuhs], Adjective – Of the hedgehog family.
  11. Quench [KWENCH], Verb – To slake, satisfy or allay, as in thirst, desires or passions.
  12. Howdah [HOU-duh], Noun – (In the East Indies) A seat or platform for one or more persons, commonly with a railing and a canopy, placed on the back of an elephant.
  13. Anopisthograph [an-uh-PIS-thuh-graf], Noun – Manuscript, parchment or book having writing on one side of the leaves.
  14. Mulligrubs [MUHL-i-gruhbz], Noun – Ill-tempered, colic; grumpiness.

After the 14 days were up, I spent some time tying the scenes together, trying to make everything fit and make sense. From the words and their meanings, I decided to connect the stories using a paranormal theme, after all that’s the same theme I used in the manuscript. Some of the words got moved around and didn’t appear in the first draft in the order I had first received them, but Nina the Kat and I decided that was fine, as long as they were there somewhere. Once I was finished I had a rough outline. The next thing to do was come up with a title and character names (instead of Person 1 and Person 2). I will cover that in the next blog.

Did all 14 words of the day make the final cut? Now, I can’t tell you that—you’ll have to buy the book and see.

Demons of the Jungle was first released in e-book format in May 2014. Then in Paperback May of 2015.

Demons of the Jungle, second edition, is due to be released in late December 2015/January 2016.

Next week I’ll cover how the book title and characters come to be in the third blog of the series.

This series on Demons of the Jungle will consist of 8 blogs: “When is a second edition needed?”, “Birth of the Demons”, “Piecing it all together“, “Who is Debra Wright?”, “Who is Patricia Mitchell?”, “Who is Levi West?”, “The Demons”, and the teaser before the release, “A deal too good to be true”.

Joe

Blog edited by Clare Diston @ Human Voices

When is a second edition needed?

One of the questions I’m asked a lot is, “Why did you stop the writing process on your third book to do a second edition of your first published novel? It has a three-star rating on Goodreads and four stars on Smashwords.”

I always take a deep breath and explain that the ratings are great, but they are not from a lot of readers. Three or four stars would be acceptable if you had 50 or more people rate the book, not one or two. Then I take another breath and explain the process that brought me to the conclusion to write a second edition of Demons of the Jungle. I have decided to put this process in a blog before I release the second edition so that new readers, along with new authors, can see why I thought a second edition was needed.

I will start off by saying that I’m a retired engineer and I worked with numbers every day for 35 years. Demons of the Jungle was first released May 24, 2014 as an e-book on Smashwords. From there it hit Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble and the other major retailers; the paperback version came out later the next year. Total book sales to date (November 11, 2015): 169. Sounds OK for an author’s first published work.

I decided to take a closer look at the numbers. For the first month of release I offered coupons, so the book was free. I learned in a hurry that readers love free books—the total number of freebies I gave away was 109, giving me 60 true book sales. 60 (true sales) divided by 18 (the number of months the book has been available for purchase) = 3.3 books a month. Now the numbers that looked OK in the beginning are looking worse.

Next I looked at the number of partial downloads, a feature authors use to give the reader a sample of the book (Demons of the Jungle’s was set to 20%). I had 164 sample downloads. Given my 60 book sales, that gives me a 37% ‘download to buyer’ percentage. Ouch, that hurts! A new author should run closer to at least 50% (that’s my opinion, not a stated fact).

So why were people only reading 20% of the book and not buying it to see how the story ended? At that time my second book was ready to go to the editor and I was almost through with the third book. I stopped writing and set out on a mission to see why the numbers were so low on the first one. Sure, I write because I love to write, but I would like for the reader to enjoy what I write too. There was no reason to continue with the second book till I found out what was wrong with the first one.

First, I ruled out some of the problems that keep most independent authors from selling books (e.g. poor spelling and grammar, amateur artwork and an incoherent plot), because my book:’

  • had been proofread and edited by a professional;
  • had cover art designed by a professional artist;
  • featured illustrations in the printed version that were done by the same artist;
  • had been read by beta readers when it was a manuscript.

After ruling out those issues and talking to my editor, I hit the streets, literally, with the 20 printed books I had in stock and with a plan she and I had devised. From the numbers, I knew that readers like free books. My first stop was at the group of stores in which my artist friend had a shop, and which also had an independent author bookstore. Now, this artist is also a lawyer and English major, so I gave him a copy of the book because his artwork was on the cover and his illustrations were inside. I asked him to read it again, not looking for illustration ideas but as a book as a whole. Next I headed to the bookstore, pulled the five books that were on the shelves and discussed my plan with the owner. He agreed and I put my plan into action. With my 24 books in a box I began walking the area, stopping people at random and asking, “Do you like to read and, if so, do you like the paranormal genre?”

If they replied yes, I continued.

“This is my first published book. It’s not selling and I need to know why. I’ll give you the book—do you mind reading it and then answering this questionnaire and mailing it back to me?”

If they answered yes, I gave them the book, a questionnaire and a self-stamped envelope.

Many of the people I talked to also asked me questions, and the questions I was asked shocked me and shed some light onto why my books were not selling. These were the most asked questions in order of how frequently I was asked them:

  • “Do you have a Facebook page?”
  • “Do you have a website?”
  • “Do you have a Twitter account?”
  • “Do you have a Google + page?”

At that time all I had was a WordPress blog and personal accounts on the other social media sites. With each question I would explain this and then ask, “Do you think I need an author page?”

The overwhelming answer was yes—that way, when people searched for local authors, I would show up. Readers want to be able to like a page rather than become friends with the writer; they want updates and to occasionally leave a comment; and, to my surprise, they would rather buy printed material from an author’s website than Amazon.

Once I had given away all the books, it was time to wait. I made good use of that time by creating Facebook, Google + and Twitter accounts, and building the official website, AuthorJosephClay.com. While completing those sites I was also doing what all writers should do: reading. Over the next four weeks I checked out Cruel & Unusual and Flesh and Blood by Patricia Cornwell, Woman with a Gun and Sleight of Hand by Phillip Margolin, Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing and Fire in the Hole by the late Elmore Leonard, and Split Second by Catherine Coulter. To read my reviews of these books and what I learned from each author, click on the link and it will take you to my official blog, AuthorJoeClay.com. After reading all these books, my style of writing came to me, as well as the way I wanted to handle back stories, how the book would be laid out, and more.

The questionnaires started rolling in and I began reading them. The first thing that jumped out at me was that the parts my beta readers (all authors) had told me I needed to cut were the very parts these readers wanted to know more about. Be careful, the author beta reader may be sabotaging your work. After all, there are thousands of writers and your book, in reality, is their competition. They may claim we are all one happy family and be more than willing to help, but stop and think about it.

Here are the other things these readers suggested, from most frequently stated to least.

  • The story would be better if the POV was changed to be seen from the eyes of the stronger protagonist.
  • They felt disconnected in certain areas of the book and didn’t feel like they were in the story (that told me I was doing more telling than showing).
  • The cover art was nice, but they wanted more of a visual, a face to put with the story, and something that didn’t look like art.
  • The introduction was way too long and the information in it would have been more interesting if tied into the story (there was my answer as to why only 37% of people were buying the book after the sample download. With a 64-page book that has a 20% sample you get roughly 13 pages. Take away the title page, copyright page, preface, acknowledgments, table of contents and a boring five-page introduction, and you are left with only three pages of the actual book).

The things they liked were: the illustrations as, once again, they helped them visualize the story and the surroundings; and everything the professional proofreader/editor had suggested that I change.

I had all the information I needed and decided that the reader deserved my best work. After all, I had since written two more books and learned a lot. I didn’t know everything, but I knew more and felt that a second edition was what was needed—people were spending hard-earned money on a book that I felt was inadequate.

I formulated a new set of rules and a process that I would follow for each book I wrote, starting with the re-write of Demons of the Jungle.

  1. Use beta readers who like the genre of the book; no writers at all.
  2. Take no advice from a writer who has not published as many books as I have. Now, if James Patterson or Stephen King calls I’ll listen to every word.
  3. Never use a preface; I can say what I need to at the back of the book under the author notes.
  4. Never use an introduction; if the book needs back story there is a way to add it into the book.
  5. Use a graphic designer for the cover art and make sure there is a face to tie to the story.
  6. Engage and interact on social media by making a minimum of three posts a week.
  7. Trust my proofreader/editor over everyone else, including  James Patterson and Stephen King. (Note: Your best beta reader is the proofreader/editor. Get to know yours as a friend as well as a co-worker.  Sure, you pay them, so technically they work for you, but treat them like an employee and they will do you a good job—treat them like a friend and they will go above and beyond to help you be the best you can be. I know my editor for Demons of the Jungle held my hand every step of the way and made suggestions that she didn’t have to, like what instructional books on writing I should read, or how to make a character’s dialogue so distinct that the reader knows who is speaking before they get to the end of the sentence. Your proofreader/editor is the best friend and partner you and your book can have. I have three that I work with and I consider each to be a colleague and a friend.)

Look for the new and improved version of Demons of the Jungle, Second Edition in late December of this year or early January 2016. Follow me on one of the above linked social media sites for the exact date of the release.

How did Demons of the Jungle get its beginning and what went into writing the story? I’ll cover that very interesting writing exercise in next week’s blog.

Blogs in this series: “When is a second edition needed?”,Birth of the Demons”, “Piecing it all together“, “Who is Debra Wright?”, “Who is Patricia Mitchell?”, “Who is Levi West?”, “The Demons”, and the teaser before the release, “A deal too good to be true”.

 

 

Blog Edited by: Clare Diston @ Human Voices

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