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What Happened – Writing is the Easy Part – So I Thought (WU #14-17)

UnGlued

What’s up friends? I have a couple of reasons for asking. The first, I want to know and the second, I have no idea what is up with me. So I’m hoping someone knows what is going on. I feel like I’m running in a hundred different directions and not getting nothing done at all. Most of the time my writing keeps me half way sane, but lately it’s driving me crazy, as the characters are taking over and taunting me.

I’ll start with the writing updates. Below is the progress made since the last blog was posted on 5-4-2017 titled “Want to be a Published Author! (WU #13-17). Reading it may shed some light on the updates and blog below.

Working Projects

Witch’s Dilemma Video Trailer: At last post I had no idea the status of this project. I’m happy to report it has been completed with the exception of the credits at the end. The video is awesome, Jayce Boynton owner of Capture Scratch Productions, LLC., did an excellent job. Since the restructuring and forming of ThunderHorse Publishing, the logo for the company will need to be added to the credits also. The Logo should be completed within two weeks. However the video will be held from public view till Witch’s Dilemma has been pulled from the retail market and republished under ThunderHorse Publishing.

Writing Projects

[No book will be released until after the Publishing company is up and running. My goal is to have all the projects ready for publishing when that happens. I uses a 7 stage system in my writing process letting me know at what stage each writing project is at.  Her is the numbering system explanations; 1-Write * 2 – Manuscript Review * 3 – Rewrite * 4 – Edit * 5 – Proofread * 6 – Book Cover Art /Illustrations/Format/Book Trailer Video * 7 – Publish. I have listed the projects below in order of expected release.]

Thunder Bear: (Stages/Completion Percentage – 1/100%, 2/100%, 6/25%, Book Cover Art is complet.) Clare at Human Voices and I are wrapping up the discussions on the changes that need to be made to the manuscript, this includes story line adjustments and formatting.

The Bet: (Stages/Completion Percentage – 1/75%). This will be a love story with an erotic twist that came out of no where after arguing with my characters. I’ll explain how it fell into place in the blog below.

The Erotic Tales of Joe: (Stages/Completion Percentage – 1/25%). This book of erotic short stories has been through same changes since the last blog. The word count of 76,770 has declined to 64,023 and the total of stories went from 7 to 6 but two poems were added. The reason for this will be covered in the blog below also. At this time the book contains these completed tales and poems. “To a Princes” (Poem) * “Masterful Tongue” (Poem) * “Across the Hall – One Door Down” * “Paula’s Second Chance” * “Professor Rothschild – Cougar 101” * “What Damn Day is it Anyway” * “I Love Them Both” * “Making a Last Ditch Effort”. I would like to have twenty stories in this book putting the word count somewhere around 150,000 and 200,000 words. I have seven more stories outlined, so will need to come up with another five or six tales and/or poems.

The Tales of Joe: (Stages/Completion Percentage – 1/20%). This book hasn’t got much attention. At this time the book contains six stories which are titled. “Bloody Waters of Wahoo Creek” * “Death of a Soul – Birth of a Killer” * “To Die in Peace is to Rest in Peace” * “Night of Dreams” * “The Birds of Peace” * “Cursed; To Be or Not to Be”. Like above I would like to have twenty stories in this book putting the word count somewhere around 150,000 and 200,000 words. I have two outlined, which means I need around twelve more.

Demons of the Jungle: (Stages/Completion Percentage – 1/100%, 2/100%). If that title looks familiar it should, it’s my first published novel. Demons of the Jungle will lead us straight into the blog.

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Writing is not easy, buy a long shot. But I feel compared to all the other hats an independent author wears it is the easiest part. But sometimes due to the authors ego and stubbornness it becomes difficult which leads to everything getting crazy.

[For more on what an independent author does read my post “A Glimpse into the Glamorous Life of an Independent Author”.]

Demons of the Jungle is my baby, as it’s my first published worked and is in eBook and Paperback format. There has already been one major revision to the book as I felt it was not my best work. Read “When is a second edition needed?” That blog will explain my line of thinking on that re-write. The second edition was an improvement over the first from book cover art to story. However people either like it or hate it, and the written reviews are harsh to say the least. The first and second editions were done by different editors. The editor I use now, Clare at Human Voices, who is not one of the two mentioned above, is top notch and the best in the business. As I have said a thousand times I trust her completely with my writing career. I had her do a manuscript review on the second edition. We will get into what she found in the next blog as we cover the rewrite in depth. Maybe the old saying, the third time is a charm will hold true here.

How The Bet came to life. I love Edgar Allan Poe and remember in his The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, the tale titled “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, had a sequel to it titled “The Mystery of Marie Roget.” From the manuscript West on the East – Noon Judgment I had to cut a whole chapter due to content and I needed to also get rid of some characters. That chapter dealt with two lead female characters that played off each other and intertwined through the chapter. The chapter was too long to be a short story. Then my brain kicked in and I snapped my fingers as I thought, That’s it, I’ll break it up into two different stories, similar to what Poe did. As I was celebrating my genius of an idea, my gut was telling me, nope that will never work. “Learning to Please – Christina’s Story”, would be the first story with “The Secrets of Delilah” being the sequel. I finished “Learning to Please – Christina’s Story” and placed it into The Erotic Tales of Joe short story collection and began working on “The Secrets of Delilah”. The stories were tying in great and I was laughing at my characters as they were telling me I was no Poe and what I was doing wasn’t going to work as they needed to stay together. Laughing at them was a mistake. Once I got to the end of “The Secrets of Delilah” the struggle became real. Although the stories had meshed and “The Secrets of Delilah” was a sequel of “Learning to Please – Christina’s Story” the ending didn’t feel right or end the way I wanted it to. The characters started taunting me each day, to put it all back together and make it a novel. This battle went on for weeks until I gave in and reevaluated the situation as I realized they were right and one of the story’s endings had to change to make it work. I walked away leaving it to simmer for a couple of more days before returning to it. The characters had calmed down by then, but were ready to do battle again if I didn’t see the light. I was shaking my head in less than a minute. There, right in front of me, was a chapter that had all the components of a great erotic love story. All it needed was a few tweaks and the word count would come out around 75,000 words with the ending the way I wanted. “Learning to Please – Christina’s Story” was removed from The Erotic Tales of Joe leaving the book short a story and about 12,000 words. The writing process started over with the chapter intact bringing to life the love story titled The Bet.

[Note: To find out what happened with my first ever manuscript West on the East – Noon Judgment; read my blogged titled “Numbers to Words: My Journey from Engineering to Writing.]

Till next week,

-JC-

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Nope that’s not Flash Fiction! (WWU #12-17)

I got up this morning and “BOOM” it was Friday. Then it hit me like a sledge-hammer, Joe you going to post a blog this week?  That sledge-hammer has a name, Tiffany Miller, who owns The Marketing Mill and handles my marketing, and trust me I ain’t easy to market. Any who it was her text message that brought the hammer down. So before I get another knot on my head I present to you for your reading pleasure Joes Weekly Writing Update along with some writing tips that answer questions like how many words are in a novel, flash fiction or a short story. Maybe you have a desire to write a novella or maybe a novelette. I have included all the word counts and a brief description of each in this weeks blog.

Weekly Writing Update

  • Thunder Bear Cover Voting: Voting concluded March 26, 2017 and the votes have been counted. The winner is TB-5 with 94 votes, taking Silver was TB-3 with 89 votes and taking Bronze TB-1 with 77 votes. To see all the covers click  here.
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Copyright ©2017 Rick Chappell ©2017 Joseph Clay

  • Witch’s Dilemma Video Trailer: Due to no fault of Jayce Boynton owner of Capture Scratch Productions, LLC.. the video has ben pushed back at least a couple of weeks. Yep I know you are putting the puzzle together and thinking. If  it ain’t Jayce’s fault it must be Joes. Correct you are my friend and you have earned the title of Watson!
  • Thunder Bear the Novel: The manuscript has been completed. Total word count 91,109. Thunder Bear has a scheduled appointment with Clare at Human Voices  on Monday April the third and will arrive on time.
  • The Tales of Joe: One new story in the writing stage. Revenge or Justice is a dark and twisted tale.
  • The Erotic Tales of Joe: 4 – 1 = 3 are in the writing stages. Across the Hall – One Door Down is near completion, stage 2 of 3 and is a new story. The next three tales of heated passion come from the manuscript West on the East – Noon Judgment. To read about that manuscript click here. They include the following short stories.  Learning to Please – Christina’s Story, Keeping the Unit Intact, and One Date and Done. All the stories that were pulled from West on the East – Noon Judgment are in Stage 1 of 3 of the writing progress with the exception of One Date and Done, which is in stage two.
  • New Project – One Date and Done. This erotic tale is the minus one from above. I was going to included it in The Erotic Tales of Joe. However when it got into stage two of the rewrite the word count quickly escalated. I was well above the short story word count and was pushing the word count for a Novella. After reviewing  it I decided to pull it from the short story collection and make it a single book.  For more on word count and book categories read the blog below.

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As you write you shouldn’t worry about word count. However once the manuscript is complete you need to know what type of book you have written. The type of book will  play into your marketing strategy, how you price it, and who to market it to. For example, The Erotic Tales of Joe is a short story compilation. According to definition a short story has a word count  between 3,500 and 7,500 words.  One Date and Done is pushing 30,000 words, which is a novella and to long for a short story. Why does that matter. The reader is expecting something they can read in one sitting, only a few characters, and one single episode. Below you will find a general break down of word count and a definition of each type of book or tale. Now these numbers are not in stone and each genre within each category has its on rules.

  • Flash Fiction (53 – 1,000 Words). Flash fiction also known as short, short stories, micro fiction or postcard fiction. These stories are extremely short and normally deal with a single event.
  • Short Story (3,500 – 7,500 Words). A short story is basically fictional prose, written in a narrative style. However, the narrative style may either be first person or third, or whichever the author chooses. The short story is one of the most common forms of writing and does not usually involve major twists and conflicts, and involvement of various sub-plots and multiple characters is not common. Traditionally, short stories were meant to be read in a single sitting. They are usually published individually in magazines and then collected and published in a collection.

The words “novel,” “novelette,” and “novella” come from the Italian word “novella,” feminine of “novello,” which means “new.”

  • Novelette (7,500 – 17,000 Words). A novelette is also a narrative fictional prose. Back in the day, the term “novelette” referred to a story that was romantic or sentimental in character.

[Writers note: Novelette’s are a thing of the past and the term is hardly used. This is where you can fudge on your numbers and expand the Short Story and Novella count.  The Novelette word count consist of 9,500 words. (17,000 – 7,500). If we divide 9,500 by two we get 4,750. We add 4,750 to the end count of our Short Story which was 7,500 and we come up with a new ending total of 12,250. As you will see the beginning count for a Novella is 17,000. From that we subtract the 4,750 and we get, 12,500.]

  • Novella (17,000 – 40,000 Words). Novellas have been called a long short story or a short novel. It can involve multiple sub-plots, twists, and characters. Its length constraints mean you’ll find fewer conflicts in a novella than you will in a novel, but there will also be more nuance and complication not found in a short story. Novellas are more often focused on one character’s personal and emotional development rather than with large-scale issues. Unlike novels, novellas are usually not divided into chapters, and like short stories, they are often meant to be read in one sitting. They are considered to be an awkward length and it may be more difficult to get a novella published. The internet is turning that around as an eBook really doesn’t take length in to consideration where traditional publishing (paper and hardback) do and use length to determine if it is feasible (price wise) to print. Most erotic tales are nothing more than Novellas.
  • Novel (40,000 – Plus Words). The novel is one of the more common works of fiction. A novel often involves multiple major characters, sub-plots, conflicts, points of view, and twists. Due to its considerable length, a novel is meant to be read over a period of days.

[Writers note: Here is where things get messy. The word count of a novel is really questionable. The only main rule that seems to be firm is the minimum word count needs to be greater than 40,000 words. This is also where the different genres came in to play. Some editors often consider a novel has a word count between 80,000 – 120,000. Romance novels, however, can be shorter than that and fantasy, horror, and science fiction usually see works of greater lengths.]

Remember there is a story in everyone’s soul begging to came out. What is your story and who better to tell it than you.

Till next week keep reading, writing and smiling,

J.C.

 

Writing Update WWU #10-17 and Writing Tips

WWU 10-17

Oh yeah, welcome to Friday my friends, I can smell the weekend, what about you? I can also see the spring on the horizon and summertime is not for away. We know what that means, time to get that swimsuit body into shape!

I got a lot to cover so let’s get straight to the updates.

  • Thunder Bear Book Cover: The polls are still open so there is time to cast your vote for the book. Not sure what I’m talking about read ‘Help Me Choose a Book Cover’. The tally is as follows. TB-1 (20) votes, TB-3 (30) votes, TB-4 (10) Votes, and TB-5 (30) votes
  • Thunder Bear: down to the last two or three chapters, I have it scheduled for completion for the last of the month.
  • Tales of Joe: This is the short story collection. I finished a re-write of a story I originally penned back in 1978 titled The Bloody Waters of Wahoo Creek. For my friends who live or have lived in and around Sargent Georgia, this tale comes from the folk-lore of the headless woman in search of her husband. That makes a total of five stories so far. The book also includes the following tales. Cursed; To Be or Not To Be, Death of a SoulBirth of a Killer, Night of Dreams and The Birds of Peace.
  • The Erotic Tales of Joe: At this time this book still has only one tale, a poem titled To a Princess. The good news is there are two stories out lined. The exciting news, I have solicited the help of two excellent erotic writers to write the female point of view in these tales. The first titled Getting My Mojo Back will feature Ava Bell as a female co-lead and G. Michelle as the other female co-lead. Me of course, I’m the male lead. Yeah I’m a lucky guy. The second title Lust Verses Commitment will be feature G. Michelle as the female lead.

That covers the updates.

I have read a couple of books from independent authors over the last week who didn’t have their work edited by a professional editor/proofreader. They made several  common new author mistakes. So this week I wanted to share a couple of writing tips. The excerpts that I will use as examples are from my manuscript Witch’s Dilemma.

Line Break

The line break is used for:

  • To change Point of View (POV)
  • To show an amount of time has elapsed since the last sentence read.

There is no right way or wrong way to insert a line break. However to help your reader follow the story it is essential that one is used. I use a space, *** centered, followed by another space, and no indention for the  paragraph following the ***. Like you do at the beginning of a new chapter.

Example:

 “I agree. I’ll be in around two to go over your discussion material for the conference, that give you time to get a shower and regroup?”
Megan nodded as she picked up her bag, along with the pink pieces of paper that had her messages on them.
Sandra knocked on the door before she stepped in. Megan was leaned back in her chair, eyes opened, with her ear buds in place. “Meg, you ready to get started?” Sandra inquired as she walked closer.

Now if you read the whole chapter you will see that this conversation wrapped up around one o’clock and Sandra is going to come see Megan at two. Without the line break it appears that Megan followed her to her office, but yet that was left out of the story.

Now read it with the line break inserted. 

  “I agree. I’ll be in around two to go over your discussion material for the conference, that give you time to get a shower and regroup?”
  Megan nodded as she picked up her bag, along with the pink pieces of paper that had her messages on them.

***

Sandra knocked on the door before she stepped in. Megan was leaned back in her chair, eyes opened, with her ear buds in place. “Meg, you ready to get started?” Sandra inquired as she walked closer.

Next the reader doesn’t need to know every move the characters make, or do they want to know. If the characters actions are not moving the story forward, well to put it in the words of Elmore Leonard, its Hoopte Doodle and needs to go.

Never Trust Auto Correct or Spell Check

When writing a scene in a book the writer tends to be focused on what is in their head and not on what they are putting on the screen which will transfer to paper later. If you depend on auto correct and spell check too much it’s going to bite you sooner or later.

Example:

   Levi was removing the ear buds from his ears as he spoke. “With all due respect, detective, this is a free country, once they walk out of here they have the right to go where they wish and will (excursion) that right, please don’t tell me your department has a problem with that.” Levi stated as he took a step toward the detective.

The word (excursion) is spelled correctly but is not the word that was meant to be used, (exercise) is the proper word. When typing ‘exercise’ it was misspelled and auto correct changed it to ‘excursion’.

Text and Background

I write an article for Live, Laugh, Love Nashville who has a blog and Facebook page. These articles are for a feature called Music Mondays. It is an informative article on the local talent here in Nashville. When you write an article on someone whether it be an individual or group three reputations are at stake. They are listed below in order of importance.

  1. The person or group the article is about
  2. The person who writes the article
  3. The person or group who posts the article.

The rules to follow are simple and will give you a professional looking piece. For starters, the person or group is the main focus of the article, not the writer or the organization posting the article. Do not misquote them, if you don’t understand an answer, ask, and if you don’t get a reply leave it out. The lead in to the story, if not about the person or group, should be no more than two lines, one preferably, as they are the feature of the article. Nothing is to draw attention away from the article and the stars of that article. This includes but not limited to, a flashy back ground that covers text or headers, some text centered, while other text is left or right justified, using a dark background and when text is cut and pasted, it has a white background. With all that said here are some basic tips to follow.

  • Use a white or light-colored back ground for your text, which should be black. Makes sure your blog background doesn’t interfere with the text by distracting from it.
  • If you are cutting and pasting a piece written for you, make sure you keep the paragraph structure correct.
  • If you are writing the article, have it edited and proofed, and if at all possible let the client read it before posting.
  • Use pictures sparingly one or two at the beginning of the text with one or two at the end. It’s recommended not to break the text up.
  • Make all text the same, left, right, or center justified, do not mix.

Besides this blog I have an obscure one that holds all my book reviews, interviews and the articles I have written for Live, Laugh, Love Nashville. I use it to lay the articles out to visualize what I think they should look like. None have been published but I decided to publish my book review with Nashville Author G. Michelle as an example of a journalistic piece. You will notice the clean white back ground with black text. No it doesn’t have a lot of color or bells and whistles in the blog background, but that allows the person or group and the article to be the center of attention.

Book review: Promise Me Always by G. Michelle

Till next week keep reading, writing and dreaming,

J.C.

 

 

 

 

 

Book review: Promise Me Always by G. Michelle #7-17

g-michelle-2 G. Michelle – Author

 

G. Michelle writes contemporary romances and is unapologetic about giving her characters not only a happily ever after, but also snarky comebacks, playful banter, sexy males, and hot, steamy action. G. Michelle states that she, herself, is an avid reader of ‘smutty’ romance and likes to include a little in her books. What’s a good read without it, right?

She gleefully admits her addiction to coffee, depressing indie music, and Netflix. When she’s not at her daytime job working as a Family Counselor—or, if you prefer, being a responsible adult, you can find her driving her family crazy with promises that she’ll only be ‘a few more minutes’ at the computer!

As you can see in her photo above she is strapped in for the ride. Trust me you too should buckle up as well and hang on when you read this tale, as the romance is a steamy trip down a bumpy Bayou road.

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Joe’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Promise Me Always is the first book in G. Michelle’s Bayou Romance Series, with two more to come. I’m being totally honest when I say I can’t wait to read them.

Promise Me Always is love story of two people, Gabe and Evie, with an excellent and tight plot. The tale is set in New Orleans, Louisiana, and you can feel the humid air, smell the magnolia blossoms, and sense the passion and deception from chapter one. Was the deception intentional or was it by mistake? It could be that one character felt that deception was the only way to keep the truth hid. To them it was the right thing do and necessary to protect all involved, never thinking about the devastation it was causing those near and dear to them. Will the truth ever come out and if so will it be too late to mend the broken hearts left in deceptions wake. Yes this story is filled with twist and turns that will keep you guessing till the final page.

The sexual scenes are steamy to say the least and are scattered throughout the book. When the tension reaches its peak between Gabe and Evie, along with the readers, ‘BAM’ G. Michelle drops a sex scene in just at the right time. Not only are the love scenes tastefully done but are believable and told from each characters point of view.

Gabe and Evie or both strong characters and G. Michelle masterfully brings their flaws to the surface as well as their strong points. The supporting cast is also full of colorful characters which makes the book more believable, as in the south family is everything, and that theme shows throughout the book. The dialogue is right on point for this part of the country and is filled with wit, wise cracks, southern humor and charm.

 What Did I Learn from the Author?

As you know I write these reviews from a writer’s perspective so, as a writer, what did I learn from this author? First off, Promise Me Always, is G. Michelle’s first book and is as close to flawless as one could hope for. G. Michelle did not make any of the new independent author mistakes that so many do. You have read from me over and over, that if you are an independent author, please don’t think you can do it all – you will just wind up releasing shabby work that hurts us all, and it will take you several books that are well done to recoup any readers you have left. Nothing can be perfect, but you can get it as close as possible, as G. Michelle did.

(Note: See Joseph’s All-Star Book Team – if you are in need of an editor, illustrator or cover art designer, the people listed there can help you put out the best work possible.)

Next, although this book has more back story than most it is appropriate and enhances the story instead of bogging it down. That is the way back story is supposed to be used, and Phillip Margolin is a master at it and I use the same approach in my books. I did a piece on Mister Margolin and this technique when I reviewed, Woman with a Gun. Usually if an author, especially a new one, writes too much of a back story it ends up not relevant to the story at all and bogs the story down, that is not the case in Promise Me Always.

The way G. Michelle changed point of views in the same chapter was a lot like the way Ava Bell does it in her book Miles from Home. I use line breaks, G. Michelle also uses the line break technique but instead of the ‘***’ I use centered, she justifies left and inserts the name of the character the point of view is coming from. I like this and see where in can come in handy during sex scenes, as we all know the woman and the man, who are tangling the sheets going at it are not thinking or feeling the same thing.

I also learned to keep the sex scenes real, they don’t have to be pulled off while hanging from a cliff one-handed. I found it refreshing that you could tell Gabe and Eve were normal people who were making love but at other times having raw sex, they never came across as porn stars or contortionists, as not once did I stop and think, there is no way in hell you can have sex in that manner.

See we all can learn from one another and thank you G. Michelle for the lesson you taught me in your writing and can’t wait to get my hands on the next book in this series.

There you go as you can see I feel this book is worth the dough. You will find the links below to bring home, in paperback or to your Kindle, Promise Me Always. G. Michelle has also agreed to answer Joe’s Twenty off the Wall Questions, where we find out more about G. Michelle than is listed in her bio. Be looking for it soon.

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Promise me Always Paperback

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Promise me Always eBook

Connect with G. Michelle on Facebook

Q and A with Tiffany Miller – The Marketing Mill #6-17

The Q and A with Tiffany Miller – The Marketing Mill has been relocated to Independent Artist of America (IAA).

The Art of Punctuation

I’m a proofreader, and that means it’s my job to think about punctuation (so you don’t have to!). Fortunately, I’m a punctuation geek, so I don’t mind this at all. In fact, today I thought I’d share three of my favourite punctuation marks with you. I know, punctuation probably doesn’t get your heart racing, but hey—it […]

via Beautiful punctuation — Human Voices | Clare Diston

From the Desk of Joseph Clay – Author Weekly Writing Update #5-17

ripping-files

Hello again. This week I’m going to focus on the manuscript that should be heading across the big pond to the editor by the end of February or early March. I figure it’s about time Clare―my editor/proofreader and the owner of Human Voices Editorial Services―gets it back, since I had the first review from her in August of last year. I’ll start from the beginning.

The characters in Demons of the Jungle and Witch’s Dilemma came from the first manuscript I wrote, West on the East – Noon Judgement. I won’t spend a lot of time telling you about how that book or the manuscript review went. To read all about that, visit ‘Numbers to Words: My Journey from Engineering to Writing’.

Last year, while Witch’s Dilemma was going through editing, proofreading, formatting and all that goes into the final stages of getting a book published, I went back and dug out West on the East – Noon Judgement from the file cabinet. The process of dividing it up into several shorter stories began. From there, I placed the stories into two different series, with the first series called ‘The New Era’, and the first book in that series titled Rise from the Ruins.

[Note #1 to new authors, a rule to remember: never list in the back matter of your book the title of your next release, unless it is already written, edited and waiting to be published. Keep reading and you will find out why.]

Rise from the Ruins, just shy of 143,000 words, was completed and sent to Clare for a manuscript review on August 8, 2016. I figured since I had already written two books, I had this down pat, and I could possibly release Rise from the Ruins in mid-December in time for Christmas.

While the manuscript was being reviewed, I was writing the blogs and preparing the book release/signing party, with the help of The Marketing Mill, for Witch’s Dilemma, never giving Rise from the Ruins a second thought. Like I said, I’ve written two books, what could go wrong?

Later in August, the 23rd to be exact, Clare sent the manuscript review back (yes, she is fast and thorough). I opened the email thinking I would make the changes needed by the middle of September and get it back to her for editing and proofreading, and then to the publisher by November 1 for the December release.

This is the first paragraph from that manuscript review:

“I really enjoyed Rise from the Ruins. There’s a good mix of the supernatural and the real (eg: mental health issues, a very human story about a man trying to fill the shoes of the people who came before him). I also thought there were lots of humorous moments and witty dialogue, which balanced nicely with the darker material.

“Here are my suggestions.”

Sounds pretty good, right? Well, that’s about all the good there was in the four-page review. As a writer you know you are in trouble when there’s a Plot Graph Triangle on the first page, attached below.

 plot-graph

(During the edit of this blog, Clare informed me where the above chart came from. I ventured on over and read the post in its entirety. The blog is titled, ‘To plot, or not to plot – that is the question …’, written by Kate Forsyth.)

[Note #2 to new authors, a rule to remember: remember this graph; it comes in handy when writing and checking your plot structure. Plus, take a few minutes and go read Kate Forsyth’s post, after you finish reading this blog, of course.]

With Clare being the professional she is, in each section (Plot, Writing Style, Characters, Settings) she always started off with the good, and then proceeded to the bad and ugly. Below is another excerpt from her manuscript review that sums it all up.

“So, you are missing a Midpoint Reversal and satisfying Climax. Essentially you need a moment when all the mounting danger becomes inescapably real, and everything Levi holds dear (ie: the ranch and its people) are unquestionably in danger, when Levi could be about to lose everything. Then there needs to be a climactic scene in which Levi defeats the enemies who are pursuing him (ie: the people who are after Betsy’s will), or at least one of these enemies, who can then set him up to continue the hunt in the next book. I don’t know if you play video games, but it’s like defeating increasingly difficult ‘baddies’ on the way to the big boss – in a series, you need to defeat a baddie in each book to give the reader that all-important feeling of victory that keeps them hooked.

“I have some plot suggestions that could give you these important moments. Of course, these are only ideas and it is your book so you should tell the story you want to tell, but it might help you to see what I mean by showing you in the context of your story.”

There were more issues than the plot, so my first thought was to shred the whole project and begin writing something else altogether. Since I had less than two months before the release of Witch’s Dilemma, I still had blogs to write and post, a party to plan and a manuscript to get to the publishers for printing. I decided that I could shred Rise from the Ruins later and filed the review with the manuscript.

Well, Witch’s Dilemma was released late October, and then before I knew it the holiday season was upon us and a new year had been rung in.

Three days into the new year, I began planning out my year. I had a lot of short story ideas and a lot already penned, so I decided to put those into a book titled The Tales of Joe. Then there were the tales that dealt with the erotic genre. These scenes were in my head or had been pulled from manuscripts. I would build short stories around them, and that collection would be called The Erotic Tales of Joe. Then I pulled out the manuscript review of Rise from the Ruins, and it once again crossed my mind to rip it into shreds, toss it into the bottom of the file cabinet and swear rats chewed it up. However, I trust Clare with my literary life, so I focused on the good and not the bad and decided it could be fixed, with a lot of work. Via email, Clare and I began discussing the changes; most of her suggestions I agreed with, but there were a couple I didn’t.

[Note #3 to new authors, a rule to remember: it is ok to disagree with your editor/proofreader as long as it is done in a professional manner and with respect. Trust me, they have forgotten more than you will ever know. Have a good reason why you don’t want to do it their way―you may want to make sure your idea is better than the one they are suggesting, so think about it first before putting your foot down.]

I thought we needed to add time to the front of the story; Clare didn’t like that idea as the beginning was in good shape and set the story up the way it should be. She suggested that a prologue may be the answer. I didn’t want to use a prologue as that breaks rule number #2 in Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing, plus my timeline was laid out so one was not needed, I thought.

I continued to write on the other two projects while I pondered a way to fix this mess called Rise from the Ruins. One day, during a break from the other two projects, I pulled down the two-inch red binder that is full of the notes, bios and history of the non-existent ranch in that story, and the family tree and the timeline through which this land came to belong to the family. Along with those notes I once again removed the bled-all-over West on the East – Noon Judgement manuscript and began reacquainting myself with the complete saga. Remember, I pulled this from the beginning of a huge manuscript written well over four years ago.

[Note #4 to new authors, a rule to remember: keep all your notes on your work and keep them organized. This holds true for any story idea you have, but especially for a series. An outline that you thought you wouldn’t need may be what you need now.]

Once that was done I thought back to any issues I had when writing Rise from the Ruins. One immediately jumped out at me: I had a hard time figuring out what scene should be used to end the first book. Choosing a wrong ending will make the middle and the beginning wrong also, or (as we see from the review excerpts from Clare) cause your editor to show you a plot graph. With all the research complete I saw the problems, and by the middle of January I had it figured out:

  • I had chosen the wrong ending point.
  • A main character had been left out of Rise from the Ruins; he is essential to the story as he is the lynchpin that gets everything going and sets the tone for the New Era series.
  • I was pulling from a manuscript, West on the East – Noon Judgement, that had started off wrong. I found in my notes that, for some reason, I had jumped in my timeline to the opening scene of Rise from the Ruins, not the true starting point of West on the East – Noon Judgement.
  • This meant I was essentially telling two stories in one book. One was boring as it was missing the element of urgency and suspense, and one wasn’t.

The fix: Clare was right. The beginning of Rise from the Ruins doesn’t need to be changed, but it’s not for this book. I was right in that I didn’t need a prologue, I needed a first book―which was already outlined in my notes but overlooked―that led up to the beginning of Rise from the Ruins, and that book needed to revolve around the main character that got all this started. The new title of the first book: Thunder Bear. The title for the second book, I think, will be… let’s just say I don’t have a clue and leave it at that.

[Note #5 to new authors, a rule to remember: learn from your mistakes, as a mistake repeated more than once is a choice and could become a habit. Yes, I have a title in mind, but the story is nowhere close to being ready to be published.]

I really don’t know if I’ll ever use Rise from the Ruins as a title, as the way it’s laid out now it doesn’t seem to fit anymore. [Note #6 to new authors: refer to Note #1.]

Till next week,

J.C.

 

Blog edited by Clare Diston @ Human Voices Editorial Services.

 

Witch’s Dilemma: Book Teaser/Cover Release

Before we get into the characters, I thought it would be nice to release the cover design and the book blurb, found on the back of the book or the inside jacket. This will help you put a face to one of the characters and give an idea of how they fit into the story.

WD Book Poster WS

 ©2016 Joseph Clay

Book Cover Design by: Rick Chappell ©2016 Rick Chappell

 “The devils you know are angels of mercy compared to the hell you are about to encounter.”

World-renowned paranormal psychiatrist and practicing witch Doctor Valerie Bell and her husband, computer genius and strip club-owner Adam Bell, have an unusual marriage, but when Adam goes missing and a mutilated body is found in his car, Valerie begins to fear for her safety. At first she uses her powers of witchcraft and her position as a profiler for the Fort Worth Police Department to help with the investigation, but when she receives a threatening ransom note from a madman she turns to a private investigator for help.

Levi West, mysterious, sharp-witted and sexy, has come to Texas to help two women, Debra and Patricia, who are in the care of the non-profit organization Basham House. The women have endured a terrible supernatural ordeal in the Congolese jungle, and Levi takes them to Valerie for psychiatric therapy. During their first appointment Valerie tells them about her husband’s disappearance and begs Levi for help. But with so many skeletons hiding in Valerie’s closet, how can he be sure that he can trust her?

With the clock ticking, Valerie faces a dangerous dilemma: come up with the ransom money or execute a risky plan to save her career and her reputation. Whatever she chooses, she must act quickly. Although she keeps the details of her past firmly locked away, unfolding events threaten to drop the key right into the hands of the wrong people, and Valerie only has one week in which to assemble an unstoppable team before somebody unlocks the door. Can she convince Levi to help her in time, or will her sordid past end up splashed across the six o’clock news?

As the investigation continues, connections are made between Adam’s disappearance and a series of brutal killings, the Salem Stake murders, which took place six years previously. The killer was never found, and the bodies of the thirteen victims were all discovered alone, in rooms locked from the inside. So when a message from the returned Salem Stake is found in Adam’s car, alongside the unidentifiable body, the police begin to wonder how he could be connected to the unsolved crimes.

Witch’s Dilemma is a novel filled with twists, turns and plenty of questions to keep you guessing. Will the mystery of Adam’s disappearance ever be solved? Who is behind the Salem Stake murders and is it too late to bring them to justice? And is there more to the police investigation than meets the eye? As loyalties change and sexual attractions burn sudden and fierce, every character learns the price that must be paid when confronting a life-changing dilemma.

Dive into Witch’s Dilemma for an explosive adventure packed with witchcraft, sex, betrayal and bloodthirsty vengeance.

Intrigued yet? Next week, since Monday is Labor Day and a lot of us will be on our last vacation of the summer, I will not make a post. The next post, which will dive into the characters, will be Monday September 12, 2016. Trust me, you don’t want to miss it.

The other blogs in the Witch’s Dilemma series: Texas Witching HourValerie and Associates Fort Worth Government – LACN Investigations – Rounding out the Cast – The Bell Witch Haunting – Some Things Can’t be Explained.

Book blurb written by Clare Diston @ Human Voices.

Witch’s Dilemma and blog edited by Clare Diston @ Human Voices.

Numbers to Words: My Journey from Engineering to Writing

In Elmore Leonard’s book Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing one of the rules is, “Never open a book with weather”. Well, the weather plays an important role here, but this isn’t a book and I’ve already opened with Elmore’s rule about the weather so I’m covered. I will also try my best to break some more rules as we go along, such as the one about no backstory.

The summer of 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee was a hot one, with a stretch of 28 consecutive days – June 13 to July 10 – having warmer than average high temperatures. The day we all almost died was June 29, when the high temperature topped out at 107°F. (For reference, on that day the average high temperature is 88°F.) That type of heat, combined with a job as a Senior Service Tech for the steel industry, took its toll on this old man, who had always lived, worked and played hard, and whose body was showing the signs of his lifestyle.

Backstory: September 27, 1977. Location: Interstate 85 north bound, north of Newnan, south of Atlanta. Age: 17. Event: Honda 350 versus tractor trailer carrying a tanker full of peanut oil. Winner: tractor trailer. Injuries suffered in defeat: left leg suffered traumatic injury. The tibia and fibula suffered compound fractures. The tibia was ground down two to three inches by the asphalt as I skidded up the pavement. The fibula, when it snapped and shot through the skin, removed half of the left calf muscle. The left ankle was broken and crushed. The impact of the front bumper and fender of the tractor trailer severed the left leg four inches above the ankle. Three inches of skin was all that was holding the left foot to the leg.

I spent the next 8 months flat on my back in a hospital as they reattached the foot and let the wounds heal. Over the next several years I went through reconstructive surgeries that included bone grafts, rods and, later, a plate to hold everything together in my lower left leg. I had toes pinned and a wedge of bone removed from my left foot. Now I wear a size 11 right shoe and a size 9 left shoe – that foot never caught up with the right as I continued growing, but thank God I still have it. While I was being repaired I finished high school, went to tech school and college.

Back to the summer of 2012: I love the summer, the hotter the better. The heat doesn’t affect my joints like the cold does. I function better in the warm months than I do in the winter, point blank. That’s the reason I knew something was wrong; as hot as it was, I shouldn’t be limping around so badly, and my knees and ankle shouldn’t be giving me fits. The right knee, which had taken all the weight while the left leg was being reconstructed, had already been repaired once. I decided it was time to go see an orthopedic doctor. What I had suspected was true: the right knee had torn cartilage and tendons, the left knee needed to be replaced. Then I got the shock of my life. Before they did any type of surgery they wanted approval from a heart doctor, since I had a scar that ran down the middle of my chest from open-heart surgery.

Backstory II: Heart attack #1, 1993, aged 33. Heart attack #2, 2003, aged 43. Quadruple bypass. Heart attack #3, 2009, aged 49, Stent. That bring us up to date with what this blog covers, but wait, there is more. May 2014, cardiac cath, diagnosed with 37% left ventricular ejection fraction. Heart attack #4, 2015, aged 55. Removed clots and inserted stent.

With my heart history, the heart doctor decided that before he would give his approval he needed to do a stress test. Well, like all tests, I flunked it. He put me on some new medicine to try to fix the bigeminy and other issues that I was unaware I was having. The heart and orthopedic doctors consulted and came to the conclusion: no need to put new wheels on a car when the motor is going out. Their consensus: I needed to find and pursue something I was passionate about, within the next couple of years, to avoid any further damage to the leg. If the ankle fusion gave away then it could not be repaired and the foot would have to be amputated; this would also save wear-and-tear on the knees until they got the heart condition under control. The heart doctor interjected that, whatever I chose to do, I should stay away from stress. I had been juggling several projects for the previous 35 years. That and stress was all I knew.

I took my summer vacation to think about what the professionals had told me; I don’t always listen to doctors. Nina the Kat and I crunched some numbers, she concluded I could retire, I decided I had to find a way to beat this. I had to work as long as possible. So I sat down and decided to write a blog about the ordeal. I had started Am I The Only One Not Insane? Mind over Matter: My Mind is the Only One that Matters in 2009. When I pulled the blog in 2013 (at an editor’s suggestion: you don’t want your personal opinions offending someone who may buy a book), I had 3,000 plus followers. I wrote about controversial issues that included politics, sex and religion – you know, the three things you never discuss on a date – plus other topics. While I was writing the blog on my health I realized something: I loved to write, even though I couldn’t spell a lick. I thought what the heck and decided to write a novel.

I continued to work, as I needed to eat, and began my writing journey. I spent my vacations, holidays, weekends and other spare time I had in front of my computer screen, writing my masterpiece. To me the process was easy. The book went through many titles: A Bullet Mends a Broken Heart, Noon Judgement, West on the East. It wound up going to the editor’s under the title West on the East – Noon Judgement.

The basic plot follows the life of Levi West a young man who suffered sexual abuse as a preteen, along with his best friend Elena, at the hands of the ranch nurse Charlotte. Levi has lost all his family – mom, dad, grandma and grandad – to freak accidents that he is sure were in fact murder. To top all that off, he suffers panic attacks along with showing signs of mental disorders, paranoia and schizophrenia, all while dealing with paranormal activities at the ranch. Since Levi is a minor, Carven Smith, the cornerstone of the ranch and Levi’s confidant, asks the lawyer John Basham to allow him to be Levi’s legal guardian until he turns 18, at which point the trust, which Carven is also in charge of, will make Levi a billionaire. Levi’s job is to take over the ranch, but he bucks at the thought, wants no part of it and would rather be a cowpoke with a real job. That is when the story begins.

The book was packed full of characters, major and minor, protagonist and antagonist, and alongside the main plot I had written in several minor subplots. It was a complicated tale I had woven.

Once it was finished in late October of 2012, my search began for a publisher. I was visiting a good friend, John Cannon, a local artist here in East Nashville, when I noticed a bookstore in the Idea Hatchery complex into which John had moved. I walked down the way a piece and stopped in the shop called East Side Story, where I meet the owner, Chuck. He explained that his shop only sold books by independent authors that were located in the Nashville area. I explained to him what I needed and he pointed to a flyer that had pull-off tabs on the bottom of it. My excitement was growing; I had found a place to sell my book and someone to edit it. I had taken the bull by the horns and was well on my way to author status and living the good life. Back home I called the number on the tear off. A deal was struck: this company would do a manuscript review for 100 bucks. If they liked the book they would edit and publish it, taking a percentage of the sales until the publishing fee was paid. I sent the manuscript to them and waited. With the holidays over November and December, it took a while.

The first week in January 2013 I got the reply I was waiting on. I eagerly opened it. The email gave me some pointers that I needed to follow, which are listed below.

  • Most new authors don’t start by writing a novel that is over 100,000 words. Reasons are as listed: with that many words it’s hard for new authors to hold the reader’s attention, as they have not learned the art of showing instead of telling. Your plot, although strong, was overshadowed by some of the subplots, which were also strong, taking away from the main plot. This manuscript had too many subplots; it would have worked better with one main plot and two to three subplots – no more than that.
  • Your manuscript was written more like a screenplay than a book. Once again, we feel this comes from telling the story instead of allowing the reader to visualize and feel they are in the story by using the five senses. The below suggestion should help in this area.
  • Take a creative writing course to learn the basic principles of writing.
  • Like your plot and subplots, your characters are strong, but there are too many of them in this book.

“Mr. Clay we believe you have some of the traits that good authors have. This manuscript proves that. However, until you hone your skills we must reject your manuscript at this time due to the above, and due to the sexual content that borders on pornography. We have made suggestions throughout the manuscript, highlighting your strong points and weaknesses, along with suggestions. Please contact us if you have any questions on those mark-ups.

“We have an idea that you may want to consider. Since the characters are strong, we suggest you hang on to this manuscript, pull two of the characters out of it and write a short story around those two people. We would make it a standalone story, fewer than 50,000 words, that doesn’t have anything to do with this manuscript. Once you have penned that story, come back to this manuscript, pull two more characters from it and write another story with a word count no more than three times the first story, 150,000 words maximum. Once that is complete, once again return to this manuscript. Divide it up into two, three or maybe four books and make it a series.

“When doing this, keep in mind to use only one major plot and no more than three subplots. Sexual scenes are OK in a book, but they must be limited, not one after the other, or your book will get tagged as erotica, which will kick you out of the mainstream market. We suggest doing some research on the difference between erotica and pornographic material. If your book gets labeled ‘pornographic’ it can only be sold on certain internet venues and in print at adult book stores and truck stops. The reason we bring this up is that some of sexual scenes were written well, and with some modifying of slang words they could be used in a story that would pass in the mainstream marketplace. Also, one of the biggest selling genres on the internet is erotica. You could pull the sex scenes from this manuscript that are not used in the series of books or the two previous stories, and write in that genre. Once again, you would need to tweak the wording a little. We have pointed these areas out in the manuscript critique. Thank you for giving us a chance to review your work and good luck in your endeavors.”

I pondered their suggestions for several months, trying to decide whether this was really what I wanted to do. I still had my day job and I hadn’t planned on hanging it up till the end of 2015. I discussed it with Nina the Kat; we both asked ourselves, what could it hurt? I decided that I wouldn’t give up, but that I was not going to spend all my spare time writing or worrying about it. During my summer vacation that year, 2013, Nina the Kat had a brainstorm to get me on track; you can read about her writing exercise in the blog ‘Birth of the Demons’.

If you refer back to Backstory II, you’ll see that I wasn’t able to continue working to the end of 2015. In May 2014, the same month that my first e-book, Demons of the Jungle, was published, the heart doctor highly suggested that I change careers, as my line of work and environment were not doing my heart any favors. I continued till August of that year before hanging up my hard hat and pursuing writing full-time.

Below are some excerpts from the West on the East – Noon Judgment manuscript critique. They are funny now, but back then they pierced my heart like an arrow.

  • “Everything needs to be broken up into paragraphs and the dialogue needs to have quotes and attribution. ‘Blah blah,’ he said.”
  • “This could all be its own chapter and told from the point of view of Remington as a child.”
  • “This reads like erotica. That’s fine if that is your intention. You will have limited options for publishing if you keep this in, but there are online options for erotic literature.”
  • “You’ve switched to Bethany’s point of view, but the rest of the novel is from Remington’s point of view. Need to pick one and stick with it. Or each character can have a chapter.”
  • “If you want to refine this to publish as erotica, some of the slang would have to come out. Otherwise it’s really more just pornographic.”

As you can see from the above, there was really nowhere from me to go but up.

Thanks for stopping by, and never give up. I can attest that doing something you love really isn’t work.

 

Blog edited by Clare Diston @ Human Voices.

How to keep writing during the summer

I have seen several post about my fellow authors with writters block. It may not be a block at all but a desire to get out side and enjoy the warm weather. I know it is for me as I love the sun and heat. Give this article a read and let me know what you think.

Human Voices | Clare Diston

We’ve just had the summer solstice, and if we’re lucky we Brits are still in with a chance at a few more weeks of sunshine. But how can we continue to work on our writing when the weather is constantly tempting us outdoors?

Here are my suggestions for how to keep writing during the summer!

Write early

Maybe your days are filled with work and your evenings are filled with play, but that doesn’t mean you can’t squeeze in some morning writing. Take advantage of long days and bright mornings by setting your alarm an hour or two earlier than usual and getting your writing done before you start anything else. Not only will you have accomplished something right at the beginning of the day, you’ll have woken up your creativity too, and this could keep you inspired all day long!

Embrace the outdoors

If outside is where you really want to…

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