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Who is Levi Colt West?

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

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

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

From the Bio Template, Page One

Book title, year: Demons of the Jungle, 2009

Name: Levi Colt West

AKA: Levi

Character prominence: Minor

Role: Protagonist

Year of birth: 1984

Age at time of story: 25

Physical Description

Sex: Male

Height: 6’-5”

Weight: 285 pounds

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

Eyes: Deep blue

Nose: Greek

Mouth: Normal

Lips: Plump

Teeth: White, perfect

Build: Muscular, body builder definition

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

Hands: Extra large

Feet: Extra large

Striking Features, Distinctive Language, Hobbies, etc

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

 Goals/Motivations

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

 Fatal Flaws

  • Temper

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

Saving Graces

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

Role Played and Outcome

Levi is a businessman on a trip to Alaska.

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

From the Bio Template, Page Two

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

Excerpt from Demons of the Jungle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Blog edited by Clare Diston @ Human Voices.

 

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Who is Patricia Sue Mitchell?

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

From the Bio Template, Page One

Book title, year: Demons of the Jungle, 2009

Name: Patricia Sue Mitchell

AKA: Trish

Character prominence: Major

Role: Protagonist

Year of birth: 1992

Age at time of story: 17

Physical Description

Sex: Female

Height: 5’-8”

Weight: 135 pounds

Hair: Dishwater blonde, straight, shoulder blade length

Eyes: Blue, wears glasses

Nose: Short and wide

Mouth: Wide

Lips: Normal

Teeth: White, straight, with braces

Build: Medium, curvaceous

Skin tone: Smooth, fair complexion with a light tan

Hands: Medium

Feet: Medium

Striking Features, Distinctive Language, Hobbies, etc

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

 Goals/Motivations

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

 Fatal Flaws

  • Gullible.
  • Naive.
  • Too trusting.

Saving Graces

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

 Role Played and Outcome

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

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

 From the Bio Template, Page Two

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

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

Excerpt from Demons of the Jungle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blog edited by Clare Diston @ Human Voices.

 

Who is Debra Lynn Wright?

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

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

From the Bio Template, Page One

Book title, year: Demons of the Jungle, 2009

Name: Debra Lynn Wright

AKA: Debs, Red, Red Gator

Character prominence: Major

Role: Protagonist

Year of birth: 1988

Age at time of story: 21

Physical Description

Sex: Female

Height: 5’-7”

Weight: 115 pounds

Hair: Red, straight, mid-back in length

Eyes: Brown

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

Mouth: Small

Lips: Top thin, bottom full

Teeth: Chipped and rotting from drug use

Build: Thin and athletic

Skin tone: Light with freckles, burns easily

Hands: Medium

Feet: Medium

 Striking Features, Distinctive Language, Hobbies, etc

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

 Goals/Motivations

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

 Fatal Flaws

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

Saving Graces

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

 Role Played and Outcome

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

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

 

From the Bio Template, Page Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpt from Demons of the Jungle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blog edited by Clare Diston @ Human Voices.

 

Woman with a Gun–Author: Phillip Margolin 4 out of 5 Stars

 

 

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Welcome to the first Review Friday.

 A writer, must do just that, to hone their skills. Subject matter isn’t important, putting words on paper, in a form of a blog, keeping a journal, or working on a novel, just write every day. Another important thing for them to do, READ, somebody’s work beside your own, in all genres. Reading will improve your craft. I fell short last year in that department, reading only five books, that’s on the high side. This year I have vowed to improve on that total.

Reading takes us away, in order for new writers to accomplish this for their readers, they most learn from those who are masters at doing it. Reading is gaining knowledge of the craft. How does James Patterson set a scene, Mark Twain was a master at keeping dialogue true to his characters ethnic origins. Stephen King, how does he set the tone and pace that keeps you on the edge of your seat, how is Penelope Syn so masterful in bringing her characters to life, allowing the reader to feel their desire, pain and pleasure. How did A.N. Roquelaure (Ann Rice) in her trilogy, set the tone and era perfectly. You won’t have any idea if you don’t pick up a book and read it.

While diving into the pages of a book, as a writer, you pick up on technique, dialog, and plot structure, the way they draw the reader into the story by showing what’s happening and not telling. You feel the characters heartbreak, joy, and fear. Their words paint the picture as if you were watching it on the big screen, evoking all five senses.

A light, no brighter than sixty watts, came on, lighting up the dark empty skull where a brain should be. Read and Write, if I was going to read more I would also write a review of what I was reading, from my perspective. Don’t worry I hate spoilers and will not give away the ending, I hate when someone does that.

 Woman with a Gun.

By: Phillip Margolin

 I had never heard of Phillip Margolin, and I’m sure he has never heard of me. Mr. Margolin has written many a novel, eighteen to be exact when the above one was published. He has a long background as a defense attorney handling thirty murder cases. What made me pick Phillip Margolin’s book from the Inglewood branch library out of the thousands I had to choose from. The cover, that’s right, the cover art.

New authors take note to what I just typed, the COVER ART is why I chose his book. Your web site is the only place that markets your books with no competition. Book stores, libraries, and e-book retailers, carries everyone’s work. Your published work will be tossed among hundreds if not thousands of others. The cover art makes the first impression and we know what they say about first impressions, on with the review.

Woman with a Gun depicts beautiful scenery in the North West Pacific region, where a majority of the story takes place, but also gives us the hustle and bustle of life in New York. I liked the way Mr. Margolin drew a contrast between the two, you could feel the relaxation of the waves and ocean breeze brought to one’s soul versus the tension of a crowded city. Stacey, a receptionist, had been convinced by her college professor, that her short story should be expanded into a novel. Stacey moves to New York to do just that, but as with all of us life got in the way, she was getting nowhere. She needed some type of motivation to kick-start her creative juices flowing. Stacey decided that a trip to the museum at lunch, there was an exhibit she wanted to see, maybe would break the funk that had a hold on her. Her lunch relief arrived and she agreed if Stacey was late coming back she would cover the phones. Stacey had finished looking at the pieces she went to see, her eyes darted as they were drawn to a black and white photograph. You guessed it, the one Mr. Margolin used for the book cover. The photo drew Stacey in, mesmerizing her, she had questions dancing in her head. Stacey had to figure out what was behind this simple but intriguing master piece taken by Kathy Moran. This was the kick Stacey needed to get her writing back on track, this picture would be her focal point. From there Woman with a Gun explodes into action and will hold you captive till the end. The book moves along at a good pace, the characters are strong, and fit right into the story. The plot is concrete with more twist and turns than a formula one road race, with a great ending.

Let’s talk back story, this book has a lot of it, after Part One, Woman with a Gun, takes place in 2015 with Chapter One. Next Mr. Margolin takes us back to 2005 in Part Two, The Cahill Case begins in Chapter Two. Part Two leads to Part Three, The Kilbride Case, the year 2000, and begins Chapter Seven. Mr. Margolin uses Part Four, The Cahill Case to bring us back to 2005 beginning in Chapter Fourteen. Part Five, Palisades Heights brings up back to 2015 starting with Chapter Twenty Eight. Chapter Thirty Six opens Part Six, The Smoking Gun, still in the year 2015 which takes us to the end of the book in Chapter Fifty. Why did I bring this up, that’s over twenty-five chapters of back story? From the books I’ve read, classes I’ve taken, and editors who have bled on my work, that’s a no-no, if you’re new. Mr. Margolin taught me a way to bring the back story to life with action, character building, and events that tied to the main plot through sub plots. I found this to be pure genius on his part. There were other rules he broke or pushed to the edge of the proverbial envelope, hey when you got eighteen novels under your belt, instead of one, you get some lead way.

I give Woman with a Gun 4 out of 5 Stars. I read the book in a day, it was raining and cold outside, but I felt the warmth of the North Pacific sun. Thank you Phillip Margolin for a great suspense mystery, and the opportunity to learn from your writing. I look forward to reading more of your works.

Joe Clay is a new author, his works can be found at the below links. His reviews can be found on Goodreads along with what he’s reading.

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