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Witch’s Dilemma: Some Things Can’t be Explained

Well, here we are – the last blog before the release of Witch’s Dilemma this Friday, October 21, 2016, with a big Halloween-themed party at Atomic Nashville, located here in East Nashville. I hope to see everyone there as I will be autographing books and answering questions.

My last blog covered the documented haunting of the Bell family in Adams, Tennessee. Whether you believe in witches, ghosts, spirits, the paranormal, or the supernatural, we all have to agree with Valerie in Witch’s Dilemma when she says, “some things just can’t be explained”.

Witch’s Dilemma contains four witches who all follow the Wiccan religion, its beliefs and rituals. These witches are all quite different from each other. One is bad and uses her craft for revenge; once that revenge is accomplished she ceases her evil and disappears. Then there’s the witch who also uses her power for evil, to intimidate and gain power, wealth, and prestige. She has no problem using her craft to teach people lessons and will destroy anyone who gets in her way. Then we have the good witch who uses her craft to do good, heal, and protect. The good witch is also faced with a dilemma, and must make a decision to protect those to whom she is indebted. The best way to describe the fourth witch is as a witch-in-training. After years of being lost, she is figuring out who she is and what she wants to do in life. The question is, will she thirst for power and be swayed to the evil side, or will she use her newfound gift to do good?

That covers the witches. Next we have a person with discerning spirits who can sense evil in others and can have visions triggered by smells. One character may or may not be a warlock; he doesn’t know and neither does anyone else, except for the spirit that protects him at all costs. This spirit can be ruthless one minute and help to save a life the next. When she taps into the energy of the maybe–maybe not warlock, her powers are unstoppable and she can’t be defeated.

Put all these characters and more in a book and there is bound to be trouble, feuds, attractions, and desires that must be quenched. In Witch’s Dilemma a particular Fort Worth detective feels the wrath of one of the bad witches on more than one occasion, a witch who also loves to please herself and others sexually through witchcraft. Another uses her craft to become a serial killer. These acts are just the tip of the iceberg, and with all the supernatural/paranormal activity filling the air, someone is going to die.

Witch’s Dilemma is a novel filled with twists, turns, and plenty of questions to keep you guessing. 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.

The other blogs in the Witch’s Dilemma series: Texas Witching Hour Book Teaser/Cover ReleaseValerie and AssociatesFort Worth Government LACN Investigations Rounding Out the CastThe Bell Witch Haunting.

Visit Joseph Clay’s Official Website and Bookstore

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


 Hope to see everyone there!


Witch’s Dilemma: The Bell Witch Haunting

I decided way back in 2007 that if I ever wrote a book, which at that time I had no plans to do, I would tie it into the Bell Witch Haunting. Well, writing became my job several years later (to see how that happened, read ‘Numbers to Words: My Journey from Engineering to Writing’) and I had my chance to put this documented paranormal/supernatural encounter from Adams, Tennessee into a book.

Once the research began I was hooked and fascinated by the story. Several books have been written on the subject, so I came up with a different angle – what if the Bell Witch’s direct ascendants were alive today and still witches? As we get further into this blog, pay close attention to the names and you will see the bloodline for some of the characters in Witch’s Dilemma, which started to form when the feud began centuries ago. I’ll start at the beginning.

I moved to Tennessee from Georgia in 2000. However, it was not until 2007 that I learned about the Bell Witch. My youngest son had heard about it at school – yes, they teach about this haunting in school – in either his first year of middle school or his last of elementary. Anyhow, he wanted to know if we could go to where the haunting took place in Adams, Tennessee, located in Robertson County, which is a little northwest of Nashville in Davidson County. The drive up would take no more than an hour as it was only roughly 45 miles from Nashville but was located off the main thoroughfare. We decided to head up that weekend, if it was pretty; it was, and we did. This is where the research began.


This is the sign that greeted us as we arrived in Adams, Tennessee. We knew we were in the right place, and began looking over our shoulders, just in case we were on the Bell Witch’s radar.


The next thing that caught our attention was a historical marker that gave some detail about the Bell Witch, and talked about Andrew Jackson – the same Andrew Jackson who was a general and a president, and who I hold partially responsible for the Trail of Tears and the deaths of thousands of American Indians. (That’s right, folks – we were not here first, they were, and this was all theirs until we showed up.)

This marker sits by the road, in front of a rustic type of general store. They sell Bell Witch souvenirs along with other items: Cokes (for those up north, I mean pop or sodas of all kinds), snacks, and a variety of other things. We had enough provisions to last us for a while, so we headed out in search of the Bell Witch. We drove a piece and ran across the Bell family cemetery. I figured if you were going ghost hunting, this was the place to start.


We found no ghosts there, so we loaded back up and headed to the Bell Witch cave and property.


Once there, I came to the conclusion that, whether this haunting was real or not, it was certainly a moneymaker. For a fee you can get tours of the cave and the house, either by candlelight at night or, if you are a little chicken (you know what), by day.


This is the entrance to the Bell Witch cave. They have seasonal hours and restrictions, so check on the link I have posted below for that information.


If you love to canoe or kayak, this is the place to do it; the Red River is right there and the scenery is beautiful.


It’s time to wrap up the tour guide section of this post with these final thoughts. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, you really should think about taking a trip to Adams. There is more to see than just the cave, house, and cemetery. There is the Red River, as mentioned above, and one of the best state parks I have been to. It’s not huge by any means, but it is quiet and peaceful. The park also contains part of the original Trail of Tears, which has been maintained. They have a nice picnic area, hiking trails, and you can fish the Red River, and most of all experience the silence – sometimes an eerie silence. Adams also holds plays and other events, especially in October. My recommendation, since I’m a biker, is to roll the throttle open and head that way then, when the leaves are turning, the air is crisp, and the ghosts are about.

The Legend of the Bell Witch: Summarized

  •  John Bell, a farmer from North Carolina, settled with his wife and children in northern Robertson County, Tennessee in 1804. Their farm consisted of 320 acres of rich farmland that lay along the Red River. They lived a quiet, peaceful life here for the first 13 years. The family grew and became somewhat prosperous.
  • In the late summer of 1817, some members of the family began seeing strange-looking animals around the property. Then late at night they started hearing knocking sounds on the doors and outer walls of the house. Later, sounds were heard in the house – sounds of a rat gnawing on the bedpost, chains being dragged through the house, stones being dropped on the wooden floors, and then gulping and choking sounds.
  • It was not long before people were coming from miles around to hear and witness this unseen force that was terrorizing the Bell home. Before long it had gained enough strength that it had a voice. When asked who and what it was, it gave different identities. It once stated that it was the witch of a neighbor woman named Kate Batts. This is what many people believed, and from then on this unseen force was called “Kate”, the “Bell’s Witch”.
  • It seemed that Kate had two main purposes in visiting the Bell home. The main one was to kill John Bell. For what reason, no one knows, because Kate never gave one. The second purpose was to stop John’s youngest daughter, Betsy, from marrying a certain neighbor boy named Joshua Gardner.
  • Over the next three years, Kate tormented members of the Bell family almost daily. John and his daughter Betsy were the ones who received the worst of the physical abuse. Betsy had her hair pulled; she was pinched, scratched, stuck with pins, and even beaten. John Bell began suffering from spells of swelling of the throat and often had the feeling that a stick was being stuck sideways into his throat. Then came the twitching and jerking of the facial muscles. Kate would blast him with curses and hideous threats during these spells. As time went on John Bell became weaker and weaker.
  • Kate Batts finally accomplished her mission for coming to the Bell farm. On December 20, 1820, John Bell died. It was believed that he was poisoned by Kate, and Kate took full credit for his death. Then in March of 1821, young Betsy broke off her engagement with Joshua Gardner.
  • The original John Bell family graveyard is on private property and is off-limits to the public. It is not being taken care of and has been vandalized. One story has it that John Bell’s original tombstone was stolen; three days later the boy who stole it died.

There we go. Some of the characters in Witch’s Dilemma are direct descendants of the people listed above. Who are they? And are the ones who are kin to the Bell Witch (Kate Batts) just as spiteful as she was? Do the two families know one another, and if so, do they know they are kin to these people from Adams, Tennessee? The main question is: is the feud still going on between the Batts and the Bells?

Next week will be the last blog of the series. As we can see, strange things happen when there is a witch around, so next week we will get into what paranormal/supernatural events take place in Witch’s Dilemma.

For more information on the Bell Witch and things to do in Adams, Tennessee, follow the links below:


 Bell Witch Cave Falls -1909


John Bell Cabin – 1909


Betsy Bell  Monument in Cemetery.

The other blogs in the Witch’s Dilemma series: Texas Witching HourBook Teaser/Cover ReleaseValerie and Associates Fort Worth Government LACN Investigations Rounding Out the Cast – Some Things Can’t be Explained.

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

Witch’s Dilemma Characters: Rounding Out the Cast

Every book has characters that don’t appear enough in the story to be considered minor characters, but that are vital just the same. They help the Major, Supporting, or Minor characters in times of distress, or to get a point across, bring about a disagreement, find a dead body, or maybe furnish a key piece of evidence or a clue. The previous three blogs have covered the majority of these characters in Witch’s Dilemma, and this blog will cover the remaining ones in the book. The usual legend is not necessary as all the characters below fall into the (HM) – Mentioned Characters category.

Rachel – high school friend of Valerie.

Diane – high school friend of Valerie.

Carla – high school friend of Valerie.

Peggy – high school nemesis of Valerie, and girlfriend of Danny Woodson.

Doctor Mike Jackson – Chief Medical Examiner for the State of Texas.

Ann Jackson – wife of Doctor Mike Jackson.

Lisa Simms – wife of Jerry Simms.

Mister Donaldson – elevator operator at the Omni Hotel, Fort Worth, retired and working to supplement his Social Security income.

Robin – waitress at Bob’s Steak and Chop House located in the Omni Hotel, Fort Worth, divorced mom with two kids.

Rick Tess – self-employed private investigator, ex-military, suffers from PTSD. Has Rick taken a case pro bono for an old girlfriend to find dirt on her ex and maybe rekindle the old flame they had for each other while serving in the army?

Stephanie Mandala, aka Hot Lips Hanna – news reporter, exotic dancer at the Masqueraded Stallion.

Betsy West – Levi West’s grandmother, deceased since 2000. Betsy could be a Minor character or even a Supporting character, since she is a spirit and appears out of nowhere, sometimes with a vengeance. She has one job and she does it well: protecting her grandson. Betsy will also fight for the underdog and has no patience for people who won’t listen.

TH Dakota – owner of East Dakota L.L.C. TH is a ruthless businessman who runs his L.L.C. with an iron fist. He is known to show up, state his business to protect his company’s interests, and, once that is done, he is gone in a blink of an eye.

Doctor Helen Clarè Destone – psychiatrist for East Dakota L.L.C., medium to the spirits, specializes in helping those who have been affected by paranormal activity. Clarè is the busiest person at the ranch, handling the four non-profits that fall under the Navarro Foundation, along with the ranch. She is need of an assistant or another psychiatrist to help with the workload.

Doctor Rene Sapp – Chief Medical Director for East Dakota L.L.C.

Charlotte Green – Nurse Practitioner for East Dakota L.L.C.

George Steel – lawyer for East Dakota L.L.C., judge for the Noon Court, brother of Doctor Rene Sapp. George is a busy man as he was hired by the ranch at the beginning of the massive rebuild, which took almost two years to complete. Both George and Carven are on the Board of Directors of East Dakota L.L.C.; it runs smoothly so TH hardly ever shows up.

Elena Young – Public Relations Director for East Dakota L.L.C., Levi’s best friend.

That rounds up all the characters! We are on the downhill side of the blogs before the book releases on October 21, 2016. The next two blogs will cover a documented haunting in Adams, Tennessee and the supernatural/paranormal acts that take place in this book.

The other blogs in the Witch’s Dilemma series: Texas Witching HourBook Teaser/Cover ReleaseValerie and Associates Fort Worth Government LACN Investigations – The Bell Witch Haunting – Some Things Can’t be Explained.

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


Witch’s Dilemma Characters: LACN Investigations

Lakota and Cherokee Nation Investigations, known as LACN Investigations, is owned by Carven Smith, Iris Clark, Beverly Clark and Levi West. The main office is located in Dahlonega, Georgia, in the East Dakota corporate office building. Will Valerie be able to hire this firm in time to get her out of the mess she is in, or will they turn their backs on her like everyone else has?

The following legend will let you know the role played by each character: (LR) – Lead Character; (MR) – Major Character; (SR) – Supporting Character; (MI) – Minor Character; and (HM) – Mentioned Character.

Levi West (MR), aka Bro, Cowboy, Big Evil, Crazy Ass White Boy, Batman – Special Investigator for LACN Investigations, business owner and/or partner of several businesses, philanthropist. Levi came to Texas with one mission, to protect the two young ladies who are in the care of Navarro Foundation, but will his decision put them in harm’s way? Levi has many business ventures that require a lot of his time. Given this and his unique mindset, Levi prefers only to investigate cases for LACN Investigations that utilize that mindset and his idea of justice. The new case that he has been asked to take on doesn’t fall into that category. Will his business partners and two sidekicks convince him to take the case? Levi also has several mental disorders; if he does agree to take on the job, will his client be bothered that he may be a true psychopath, as Doctor Sapp suspects? Can the client keep him in check, or is he really the one she needs to worry about?

Beverly Clark (MI), aka Bev, Sis, Commander, Vigilante with a Badge, Lady Sherlock, Little Evil, Crazy Ass White Woman – Lead Investigator for LACN Investigations, leader of an elite investigation team for a top-secret government agency. Beverly was the Chief Investigator of the Salem Stake slayings. Beverly is a master of disguise; her favorite persona is ‘Commander’, and when handling any investigation for work or the LACN, she stays in that persona until the case is solved or she returns home. Beverly has a stake in the job that Levi has been offered – can she convince the man who is like a brother to her to take on the case? Did she make a mistake in the past and has it come back to haunt her, or will she tie up the loose ends as she always has before?

Simon White (MI) – Investigator for LACN Investigations, pilot, logistics and electronics expert for LACN Investigations, Chief of Security for East Dakota L.L.C., pilot for East Dakota and Levi’s Life Flight company. When Beverly is on a case, Simon is close by, as the two are tight and Simon is smitten by her charm and looks.

Carven Smith (MI), aka Big C, Carv – Lead Investigator for LACN Investigations, Chief Operating Officer of East Dakota L.L.C., Chairman of the Board of Directors for East Dakota L.L.C., business owner and/or partner of several businesses. Carven is the go-to man for everything and is the rock pillar that holds everything up. Carven’s main job, however, concerns Levi; keeping him on his destined path is a job that is full of challenges.

Debra Wright (SR), aka Debs, and Patricia Mitchell (SR), aka Trish, are in care of the Basham House for Troubled Teens, a division of the Navarro Foundation. They were placed in their care after being rescued from an Alaskan avalanche, following a mysterious escape from the Congolese jungle. Navarro has enlisted Levi to take the young women back to Texas to get their lives back on track. The foundation has hired Drew Beck to make sure the women are not railroaded into a charge for a murder that they witnessed while they were actors in a Texas play. Along with the attorney, the foundation has also purchased the services of the best head doctor in Texas, Valerie Bell, to help them deal with their strange ordeal in the jungle. Will Levi, the lawyer and the doctor be able to help the two, or will they go to jail for murder? Even if they are cleared, what will happen to them? Can Levi keep them safe or is danger around the corner as they embark on a new adventure?

Next week we will wrap up the characters with the remaining (HM) Mentioned Characters. Then in the following weeks we will dive into the supernatural.

The other blogs in the Witch’s Dilemma series: Texas Witching HourBook Teaser/Cover ReleaseValerie and Associates Fort Worth Government – Rounding out the Cast – The Bell Witch Haunting – Some Things Can’t be Explained.

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

Witch’s Dilemma Characters: Fort Worth Government

Now that we have covered Valerie Bell and her crew, and know that Valerie’s goal in life is to get into politics, this week we will cover those in political office, both city and state. Will Valerie be elected or appointed to one of these offices, or will one or more of her skeletons break down the door of the closet and put a halt to that dream?

The following legend will let you know the role played by each character: (LR) – Lead Character; (MR) – Major Character; (SR) – Supporting Character; (MI) – Minor Character; and (HM) – Mentioned Character.

Heidi Wallace (HM), aka Mayor Wallace – Mayor of Fort Worth. Since taking over as Mayor of Fort Worth, the corruption that plagued the City Government is now a thing of the past. Heidi is in her last term as Mayor and everyone in her political party is pushing for her to run for Governor of Texas, as the poll numbers indicate she would win by a landslide, so she has her eye on the Governor’s mansion.

Megan Thomas (SR), aka Meg, Doctor Thomas, Luscious Legged Linda – Director of Mental Health, City of Fort Worth, ex-wife to Buck Thomas. Megan is an athletic individual as she believes a strong mind and body is the key to good health. Megan is well respected in her profession and has been appointed by the Mayor to speak in Washington on the importance of mental health. Megan has enlisted the help of Doctor Valerie Bell to help her prepare for the Washington conference; the two have also become friends, and can be found with Heidi at least every other day at the local YMCA, working out together. The divorce was rough on Megan, but she is getting better day by day. Since Eddie has been in college she has developed and prescribed for herself a special type of therapy to help her rebuild her self-esteem. During this therapy Megan has become smitten with a lady friend of hers and a very special man. She’s in a dilemma: she knows one is lust and the other love, but she is having too much fun to decipher which is which. Megan knows that Heidi may be the next Governor and she wants to follow her up the ladder to become the Director of Mental Health for the state, and take her faithful secretary, Sandra (HM), with her. That means at this time her special therapy and her love life need to stay under wraps. The Mayor would not approve of the therapy, and one of her two lovers is married.

Buck Thomas (SR), aka Senator Thomas – Texas State Senator, ex-husband to Megan Thomas. The divorce proceedings between Buck and Megan were off-limits to the public and news reports. Afterwards, the documents, judgements and details of the divorce were sealed. Everyone figured the judge handled the divorce this way because Buck and Megan both hold political offices. Eddie Thomas (HM), their only child, knew a divorce was coming as there were several rumors floating around that his mom was having an affair with a businessman in town; other rumors claimed that she was participating in activities of which the Mayor would not approve. Eddie’s dad has issues with anger, and it is rumored he has no problem slapping the women in his life around to get what he wants. Eddie has a hard time believing any of this about his mom, as the mayor – who is quick to dismiss those under her who have questionable morals or bring scrutiny to the office they hold – is sending his mom to Washington to represent the city at a mental health conference. Eddie figures if anyone is to blame for the divorce and his mom’s death, it is his dad. Eddie has to know the truth, so he has turned to a local private investigator, Dirk Fulton (MI), and his girlfriend, Angelina (HM), to find out what really took place.

Jerry Simms (SR), aka Chief, Chief Simms – Chief of Police, City of Fort Worth, Texas; husband to Doris Simms (HM). Jerry Simms, like Megan Thomas, was put in his position by Mayor Heidi Wallace’s demanding request. The Mayor, Megan and Jerry are all very close. Everyone knows that if Heidi becomes Governor and Jerry runs for Mayor, he will win the vote; the poll numbers back their thinking. Jerry Simms has always been in law enforcement; he is living his dream. Before becoming Chief he served 20 years with the Texas Rangers and has an impeccable history, known for going by the book while weeding out those who bend the law to their advantage. His department is run firmly, fairly and consistently. The steady decline in crime numbers year after year, down by 80%, speaks for itself. Jerry is a hands-on chief and frequently participates in investigations with his team, Detective Mark Teal and Detective Raymond Samson. Jerry Simms has only two blemishes on his record, both of which he is obsessed with removing: they are unsolved cases. The first was when he was a Texas Ranger – in his eyes the Salem Stake murders were never solved, even when the special task force closed the case – and the second happened while he has been Chief – a theater shooting that happened in Fort Worth. Has Salem Stake come back to haunt and taunt him with another case he can’t solve?

Raymond Samson (SR), aka Ray, Detective Samson,, Ray-Ray – Senior Detective, City of Fort Worth, Texas; ex-husband to Amy Samson (MI). Ray Samson had a criminal background as a youth growing up in Detroit. At 18 he was given the option to join the military for eight years or serve ten years in prison for assault and battery, distributing and selling drugs, and armed robbery. Ray took the first option and served in the United States Army as an MP. With a clean record, thanks to his military service, once discharged he moved from Detroit to Texas and landed a job with the Fort Worth Police Department. Samson, a great detective in his own right, worries Chief Simms at times, as he reverts back to old-school police work when no one is looking. Samson and Internal Affairs are on a first-name basis. Jerry Simms keeps a close eye on him and normally works the cases he works. Landing a civil service job has meant that his military time and time on the force will join together, allowing Samson to retire long before 65; his goal is to be done by 45. His plan is foolproof, or so he thought until his divorce from Amy shattered his dreams, as she is now entitled to half. This doesn’t sit well with Samson, and he has turned his back on Amy and their three kids in pursuit of adventures to make lots of money to ensure he meets his goal of not working when he is an old man. Will his cash-making schemes make him rich or jeopardize his pension, making all involved suffer for his mistakes?

Mark Teal (SR), aka Detective Teal, – Detective, City of Fort Worth, Texas. Mark Teal is an upcoming star. He has moved through the ranks quickly and is the youngest detective with the Fort Worth Police Department. Jerry Simms has partnered him with Ray Samson, hoping that some of Teal’s grace and demeanor will rub off on Ray. Jerry has taken it upon himself to take Teal under his wing, and expects him to step in and take his place when he retires. Mark, with all his excellent qualities, does have one fault: he loves women of power. This may come back to bite him and put a halt to his fast-moving climb to the top.

Robert James (SR), aka Doctor James – Chief Medical Examiner, City of Fort Worth, Texas. Doctor James is excellent in his field and runs a tight ship. He is biding his time until a job opens up with the State Medical Examiner’s office, so he can get his foot in the door and maybe work with Mike Jackson, the Chief Medical Examiner there. At times he resents Chief Simms as he and Mayor Wallace are tight; Simms often threatens to call her when James tries to cut corners to save the city money and time. James is single but has his eye on a particular woman; he believes she is in love with him and they are waiting till the time is right to make their announcement. Will his feelings for this woman cause him to make mistakes on the new case that has everyone in a dilemma? Will she send him up the creek without a paddle?

Next week we will cover the characters of LACN Investigations. Will they take on Valerie’s case, and if they do, will Valerie like not being in charge?

The other blogs in the Witch’s Dilemma series: Texas Witching HourBook Teaser/Cover ReleaseValerie and Associates LACN Investigations – Rounding out the Cast – The Bell Witch Haunting – Some Things Can’t be Explained.


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

Witch’s Dilemma Characters: Valerie and Associates

My first blog in the Witch’s Dilemma series, Texas Witching Hour, covered how the story and most of its characters came about. This week we will start introducing those characters. The characters live in the Fort Worth, Texas area, where the story takes place in October of 2010. The story revolves around Doctor Valerie Bell; today we will cover those who are associated directly with her and the roles they play. I’m not going to get into who the protagonists and antagonists are – that would give away the story. Instead, the following legend will let you know the role played by each character: (LR), Lead Character; (MR), Major Character; (SR), Supporting Character; (MI), Minor Character; and (HM), Mentioned Character.

Valerie Samantha Batts Bell (LR), aka Doctor Bell, Val – wife of Adam Bell. Doctor Bell is a psychiatrist who helps those who have been affected by a supernatural occurrence to understand and cope with the event; she is also contracted by the Fort Worth Police Department as their psychiatrist and profiler. Doctor Bell has aspirations of getting into politics; however, she must keep her many skeletons locked away if that is to happen. Valerie is a direct descendant of the witch Kate Batts, who haunted the Bell family in a documented haunting in Adams, Tennessee in the 1800s.

John Adam Bell (MR) – husband of Doctor Valerie Bell. Adam is a genius and a geek who works as a computer programmer and internet security expert. He is also the owner of the prestigious exotic night club, the Masqueraded Stallion, which at one time employed Danny Woodson, the last victim to date of the serial killer Salem Stake. Adam made his first million before leaving college and has not stopped making money since. Adam suffers from panic attacks and other mental disorders which interfere with his social life, and he has sexual issues that include erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. Adam is a direct descendant of and named after John Adam Bell, the individual whose family was haunted by the Bell Witch, a documented haunting in Adams, Tennessee in the 1800s.

The marriage between Adam and Valerie is a strange one, to say the least. With his dysfunctions it is apparent that he can’t keep Valerie satisfied, and since the first of the year he has caught her with two different men. Do they have an open marriage or is she being promiscuous to help Adam with his disorders? Either way, that’s one skeleton that needs to remain behind closed doors – but will it?

Lori Ruth Hall (MR), aka Lil-Bit, Sweet Succulent Suzie – officer manager and receptionist for Doctor Valerie Bell’s psychiatric practice. Lori is a dedicated and bright employee. However, she has had a run of bad luck with her car. Valerie suggests she work for her husband, Adam, part-time as his accounts-payable person, but after being mugged on more than one occasion, Lori decides there is a faster way to get the money she needs for a new car. However, her decision may cost her more than money as she gets caught up in a tangled mess with a bouncer, a dancer, and Adam.

Greta Batts (SR), aka Doctor Batts, Doctor Aceso – Doctor Valerie Bell’s mother, doctor. Greta moved to England when Valerie was in college, after two of the members of the powerful family she was working for were tragically killed in Texas. The guilt began eating at her as she felt she had let the powerful family down by not saving their leader and his son. The remaining family members tried to convince her to relocate and live on their land, but Greta wanted to start over. Greta also has a few skeletons in her closet; she has kept the secret of who Valerie’s father is locked away, as well as her secret identity, which Valerie knows nothing about, and just what her job entailed with this powerful family from the eastern United States. If forced to choose, will her allegiance remain with the powerful family or, after all these years, will she side with her daughter?

Drew Beck (SR) – lawyer and owner of Beck and Beck. Drew Beck is one of the best in the business, and he is the personal lawyer of Valerie and Adam Bell, along with representing the companies they own. Drew gets caught between a rock and a hard place when Valerie and Adam can’t see eye to eye; he must drop one of them as a client in order to avoid a conflict of interest. Will he follow the money and keep Adam, or will he go with what Valerie offers: money and all the sex he can handle? Or will Drew’s main client, a powerful family from the east coast who pay the bills, make that call for him? Will they keep him on as their legal representative in Texas, or will they let him go now that his dad, who understood the family’s operations, has died?

Salem Stake (SR) – serial killer. It is believed that Salem Stake was responsible for 13 unexplained deaths between the years 2001 and 2002. All 13 people graduated from Tyler High in Texas, the same school from which Valerie graduated. The only clues the special task force had were a return address from Transylvania, Romania, the ashes of a special mixture of incense, and two sets of numbers. After Salem’s last victim, Danny Woodson (MI), was killed, one clue that was different at the Woodson scene seemed to indicate that the Salem Stake killing spree was over. But was it? Salem was never apprehended and it appears the killer may have returned to the area.

Next week we will cover the characters that are in and work for the city and state government, along with the Fort Worth police department. Are the government and police force running like well-oiled machines, or are there a few rats in each?

The other blogs in the Witch’s Dilemma series: Texas Witching HourBook Teaser/Cover Release Fort Worth Government – LACN Investigations – Rounding out the Cast – The Bell Witch Haunting – Some Things Can’t be Explained.


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

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.

Texas Witching Hour

Welcome to the Witch’s Dilemma blog series. This is the first of eight blogs that will lead up to the release of the book in October, in time to get you in the Halloween spirit. Today we will start with how Witch’s Dilemma came about.

I began writing Witch’s Dilemma, along with Demons of the Jungle, in August of 2013. I figured that this was the thing to do, since I was following the suggestions in my West on the East – Noon Judgment rejection letter (for more on that, read ‘Numbers to Words: My Journey from Engineering to Writing’) and pulling characters from that manuscript. I had two psychiatrists in the manuscript: Valerie Bell, who was originally named Victoria, and Ivan Sinclair. Valerie had a family; Ivan did not. I decided to use Valerie and her whole family, which included her mother, Greta Batts, her two kids, Tyler and Ava, and her husband, Adam. Next I determined that they needed to be in another state from that of West on the East; with Valerie’s ego I decided Texas was a good fit. Her selfishness also led me to drop the kids from the story altogether, but I would keep the supernatural element that was in the plot of West on the East, which included ties to the Bell Witch haunting that took place in Adams, Tennessee back in the days of Andrew Jackson. I had to make some adjustments to the plot to fit the new location, and add some storylines.

Next I decided to pull some of the other characters from the original manuscript. After pulling Greta I still had too many doctors, police officers and private detectives in the manuscript, so Dirk Fulton and his girlfriend Angelina, Jerry Simms, Mark Teal, Raymond Samson and Robert James were relocated from the ranch in Georgia to the humidity of Fort Worth, Texas. Since I was writing Demons of the Jungle and Witch’s Dilemma at the same time, I decided to tie the two together but also make sure they could stand alone.

By February of 2014 the story had taken shape, but there was still an element missing, something wicked and unheard of. One of my beta readers – also my insurance agent and friend, Jackie Price, who loves the supernatural – told me about a weird dream she had had about cats, a washing machine and a virus that was circulating on Facebook in the form of a link that, once clicked, would kill you. This was the strange and unusual element I was looking for, and decided that I would elaborate on this theme and use it as a subplot for Witch’s Dilemma.

Since the rejection letter suggested that my first book should be under 50,000 words, I decided that this one should be the same. The first draft fell into that goal at 42,517. However, upon completion the total word count was well over 140,000 words. That was OK, I was allowed to change my mind, and this would be the second book, which I had been told should be three times as long as the first but under 150,000 – this word count was perfect.

On the writing front, once the first manuscript review was complete, one of the suggestions made by the editor was to find a style and stick with it. Demons of the Jungle and Witch’s Dilemma were written and formatted differently. Her suggestion: read some of my favorite authors and get a sense of what I wanted my book to look like. The titles below are the books I chose to read. Upon completion of my reading task I took something from each author I liked and combined them together, finding my own unique way of writing. I went back and reformatted Witch’s Dilemma using this new style. Click on the title to read my reviews and see what I learned from each author.

Woman with a Gun by Phillip Margolin

Flesh and Blood: A Scarpetta Novel by Patricia Cornwell

Split Second by Catherine Coulter

Creating Witch’s Dilemma reminds me of the weird stuff that happened when they were filming the movie The Exorcist. From conception, August 2013, to Completion, October 2016, the book took 3 years and 2 months, and within that time a lot of strange things happened. The original editor withdrew during the second manuscript review due to content. I had to have emergency gall bladder surgery, and a year later suffered a heart attack. The new editor fell ill during the final edit and proofread.

Once the first editor bowed out, the manuscript had to be reformatted once again to allow the new editor, Clare, to start with a clean slate. Along with all that I had to stop the writing process on Witch’s Dilemma to release Demons of the Jungle in May of 2014, and then again when I decided to write a second edition of Demons of the Jungle and incorporate the new formatting style there as well. To read the reasons behind that move, read ‘When is a Second Edition Needed?

Through it all Clare and I have weathered the storms and are pretty sure we have a bestseller on our hands. We hope you have just as much fun reading Witch’s Dilemma as we did working on it. Till next week, when I reveal the magnificent cover art.

The other blogs in the Witch’s Dilemma series: Book Teaser/Cover Release Valerie and Associates – Fort Worth Government – LACN Investigations – Rounding out the Cast – The Bell Witch Haunting – Some Things Can’t be Explained.


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

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