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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.

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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.

 

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.

Q and A with Clare Diston – Editor

The Q and A with Clare Diston – Editor has been relocated to Independent Artist of America (IAA).

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