Joseph Clay – Author

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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.

Blog #14-17 Pic1

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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Want to be a Published Author! (WU #13-17)

Hello my faithful readers. Time for a weekly writing update and blog. A lot of you are wondering, and I don’t blame you, why I haven’t been posting weekly updates? The last post was on March, 31, 2017 over a month ago. I normally don’t tie my writing blog with my personal one but since I also vanished from social media all together I wrote a blog explaining me and S.A.D titled Has S.A.D. Driven Joe to the Fiery Pit?

Now on to the writing the updates. Even though I suffer from S.A.D. I do get a lot of writing done in the winter months as I don’t venture out unless absolutely necessary.

  • Witch’s Dilemma Video Trailer: I have no idea of the status of this project. It is on my list of things to find out by the next post.
  • Thunder Bear: As of the last post Thunder Bear was headed to the editors for a manuscript review. Well as of this writing the review has been completed and returned. Clare at Human Voices  and I are in discussion of that review ironing out the story.
  • The Tales of Joe: One new story in the writing stage. Revenge or Justice is a dark and twisted tale. Status not changed Stage 1. This book has been placed on hold.
  • The Erotic Tales of Joe: This is where most of the writing time has been spent. Across the Hall – One Door Down which was in stage 2 of 3 as of last post is completeOther short stories that have been completed since the last posting. Paula’s Second Chance, Professor Rothschild – Cougar 101, and What Damn Day is it Anyway. 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 is complete. Keeping the Unit Intact, I changed the name of this tale to I Love Them Both. The story has went from stage 1 to 2 and is near completion. Making a Last Ditch Effort is another tale that was written and completed since the last posting. The short story also comes from the manuscript West on the East – Noon Judgment. That gives me a total of 7 stories out of the twenty I would like to have. That will put the word count between 150,000 and 200,000 words.
  • One Date and Done. This erotic tale is on hold and will be a Novella or a Novel.

 

WU _13-17

Why am I putting One Date and Done on hold along with other projects such as the rewrite of my first book Demons of the Jungle and the Tales of Joe. All this and more is explained in my personal blog Has S.A.D. Driven Joe to the Fiery Pit?

The short version, all this is being done for legal and tax reasons. I will be pulling Demons of the Jungle and Witch’s Dilemma from Joe’s Book Store, Amazon, and Nook in the near future. They will be republished under the publishing company that is in the process of being formed named ThunderHorse Publishing. All my adventures such as the bookstore and others will be owned by one company and that company will be the publishing company.

ThunderHorse Publishing will not only be publishing my books, but other independent authors as well. ThunderHorse Publishing will offer a full range of services that will include; Formatting, Cover Design, and Illustrations. The publishing company will also offer Manuscript Reviews, Editing and Proofreading along with assistance in Marketing your book over Social Media and other marketing advice. These services can be purchased individually or in packages. At ThunderHorse Publishing we will assign your book an Unique ISBN number from Bowker allowing your work to be recognized around the world, something that the free ISBN numbers don’t do, if you choose that package.

[Writers Note: Tackling the subject of ISBN Numbers will be the first blog written by ThunderHorse Publishing. ]

With all that said ThunderHorse Publishing will be looking for new independent writers in the near future. If you think writing is for you ThunderHorse Publishing could be your guide. I will post all the updates from the publishing company here until the website and blog or functional. All of the companines post will be on my Facebook Author Page and Twitter Feed. Pass this along with anyone that may want to fulfill their dream of becoming a published author.

Till next week,

-JC-

 

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.
tb-5

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.

WWU _18

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.

 

Is Knowing How to Spell and Type a Must (WWU #11-17)

Before we get into the blog part of this week’s update, let’s quickly cover what has been happening in Joe’s World of Writing.

  • In the coming weeks watch for the video book trailer in production for Witch’s Dilemma by Jayce Boynton owner of Capture Scratch Productions, LLC..
  • Voting on the book cover for Thunder Bear is still open. The polls will close Sunday March 26, 2017 at midnight. The winner will be announced in the weekly writing update posted in the week of 3-28/4-3, 2017. At this time TB-5 is in the lead by 6 votes. To see all the covers visit here.
  • Thunder Bear, the manuscript, is still on schedule to be completed and submitted to Clare at Human Voices for a manuscript review by the end of the month.
  • The other projects The Tales of Joe and The Erotic Tales of Joe, are still in the works with no new progress at this time.

Blog #11-17 Feature

Now on to the short blog feature.

“Do Not Let Your Weakness Define Who You Are And Stop You From Chasing Your Dream.” J.C.

At meet and greets, book signings and other events at least one person will make the following comment.

“Man I wish I had your vocabulary and could spell as well as you. So I could write books also. It would take me forever oh. I hunt and peck when I type.”

Well if any of you remember me from high school, college or in the work force y’all know I can’t type, my vocabulary is that of an eighth grader most of the time, and I can’t spell worth a damn. I was told more than once and by more than one teacher.

 “Joseph you need to buckle down in English, because punctuation, grammar, and spelling are important. Work on your spelling, its atrocious. Sound the word out syllable by syllable. You will need these skills to survive in the real world.”

Sounding out syllables is fine and dandy if you speak properly. I’m from the Deep South and spent some time in Texas and mix the two dilects and the drawl. So I don’t speak the English language the way it is meant to be spoken. Sounding out the words with me doesn’t work. If I spelled the way I speak “Dog” would be spelled “Dawg”, “Climb” would be spelled “Clim”, and “Atrocious” would be “Nutrocious”. Toss in the fact that any word that ends in “ing” I drop the “g”, example “running” would be spelled “runnin.”

Well to everyone’s surprise I graduated college and hit the work force. From day one there was always someone to check my work, mainly spelling and grammar. Sure it was shabby and I had to change a lot but my mechanical ability and math skills outweighed the bad English. After the first year or two I moved up, and from then on out had a secretary. When I left the engineering field in 2014 I had two patents under my belt, held the positions of Chef Engineer for a Fortune 500 company, Document Control Engineer for one of the biggest suppliers of car parts in the US and China and a Project Manager for the east coast for another company.

I know what you are thinking, how in the heck did he become a writer. Easy, that’s what I decided to do. I still type around twenty to thirty words a minute and over half are spelled wrong. But in today’s world we have spell check and auto correct. Be careful with those as auto correct will insert a word that is close to the spelling which may not be the word you wanted. See last week’s blog for an example. When I spell a word so badly that spell check or auto correct has no idea what the word is supposed to be I turn to my personal assistant, Siri. I also have a Dictionary on my desk and there is one built into word. For my extended vocabulary I use a Thesaurus, which is also on my desk and built into word. Most of the posts that appear on my author page are proofread before posting by the Queen herself, or shortly thereafter by the Tiffany whose company The Marketing Mill handles my marketing. 75% of all the blogs I write are edited and proofed, I manage to sneak a couple by  their watchful eyes. I have a professional editor/proofreader who handles all the published works.

You see writing a book is not about how well you know the English Language, spelling, a huge vocabulary, or knowing the rules of the language. Writing is a passion that comes from within. Something you feel you must do. Your reward is a simple one, you make peace with your soul. The icing on the cake is your writing allows those who read it to escape to another world and forget what ever troubles are weighing them down, or bringing them pleasure on a rainy day.

Till Next Time,

J.C.

Witch’s Dilemma: eBook Release WWU # 9-17

After five months of brisk sales of Witch’s Dilemma in Paperback, the time has come to release the eBook version. The eBook format will go on sale Friday March, 17 2017. You can preorder your copy now on Amazon to get a step ahead of the game. Price $5.99.

WD Book Poster WS

©2017 Joseph Clay

Book Cover Design by: Rick Chappell ©2017 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.

The other blogs in the Witch’s Dilemma series: Texas Witching HourValerie and Associates Fort Worth Government LACN Investigations Rounding out the CastThe 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.

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: 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.

adams-city-limits-sign

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.

hisoric-marker

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.

grave-yard

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

entrance-to-bell-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.

cave-entrance

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.

red-river

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.

port-royal-state-park

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:

http://www.adamstennessee.org/

http://bellwitchcave.com/ghost_hauntings/bell_witch_tours.htm

http://www.canoetheredriver.com/

http://tnstateparks.com/parks/about/port-royal

bell-falls

 Bell Witch Cave Falls -1909

bell-cabin

John Bell Cabin – 1909

betsy-bell

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.

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.

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

A Deal Too Good To Be True

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Blog edited by Clare Diston @ Human Voices.

 

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