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Yep it’s 2018

Writing Update – Edition 1-18


Happy belated New Year to all! Here’s to 2018 may it bring you good health and cheer.

That’s right, we have entered another year. To those of us in the northern hemisphere that means it’s winter. Yes, Mother Nature took a deep breath of cold arctic air and released it with a mighty exhale. The frigid air spewed across her chapped and cracked lips sending snow and freezing temps as far south as Florida.

As I type this from Nashville, Tennessee there is snow on the ground and the temps at night are expected to be in single digits.

This is the second or third round of wind chills below freezing and the temps at night dropping into single digits. You will have to excuse me for not being sure but my brain has turned into a block of ice hindering my short-term memory.

I’m not a winter person as the cold brings on aches and pains of years and years of being rode hard and put up wet. I know that is a cliché and writers are not supposed to use them but hey I have never been one to follow the rules. I even started this article off with the weather which is also a no-no according to Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing.

Staying in the house most of the time to avoid the cold gave me to time to ponder 2017 and what 2018 may bring.

I must admit that 2017 was not a good year for my health and worse when it came to meeting my writing goals.

My health was a roller coaster ride to say the least and a major road block that caused a detour in my writing.

The doctors added medicine, changed medicines, and removed medicines. With each new regiment my body and system would adjust. At times the changes worked in my favor. Then there were the times when it was all I could do to get out of the bed and in the shower. Instead of getting to involved in what was happening I can sum up the health issues in one line.

I didn’t even put a tag on the Harley and it never left the garage in 2017.

I was writing full-time for Live Laugh Love Nashville penning the Music Monday feature. It was time-consuming and a bit stressful trying to gather the information needed to do the artist justice and the organization week after week.

The doctors informed me that the stress could be attributing my health issues. They determined I needed to stay away from all situations that were aggravating and/or stressful, which included anything with a deadline.

The hardest decision I made all year was to give that position up.

I didn’t see or feel stressed as I liked doing the feature,  liked the other writers and I love the owner like a little sister I never had. Heck we were like one big happy family. A little dysfunctional but still a family and I will miss them.

I also got derailed with many adventures, none which had anything to do with me physically writing.

I started a publishing company, ThunderHorse Publishing, last year. The company suffered several set backs that required more of my time than I had planned.

I determined that the best option was to take full control of the company and cut back  some of the services that the company offers to Independent Authors. ThunderHorse Publishing will reintroduce those services one at time over 2018 and 2019 after I restructure the organization.

Being an independent author means you foot the bills for advertising, publishing and editors along with cover design… you get the idea, we spend a lot a dough to get our work out their. I needed way to supplement my income that would help pay for my writing addiction.

The pieces began falling in place when my son’s car played out and had to be replaced. He is a college student and now needed money to help with the expenses that came along with purchasing a vehicle plus to help pay for a higher education.

We put our heads together when the opportunity arose to open a retail booth inside a flea market here in Nashville. We decided that it was a good idea and went for it.

On December the first we had the shelves stocked and began selling merchandise to the public under the name JT’s Place. The booth sells new and used items at prices anyone can afford. Give us a follow on Facebook and/or Twitter. Check out our website also.

The plus side of opening the store beside the cash it brings in, I have another brick and mortar outlet to carry my books in. On the downsize, running a retail location takes time. The time spent ordering stock, pricing and stocking cuts into the writing time. Does no good to have a space to sell your novels if you are not writing.

All the adventures mentioned above will benefit me and those involved along with other independent writers in the long run. However to reap those benefits I need to be writing and stay healthy enough to do so.

The store has become a family business with us all handling different aspects of it as not to overwhelm and/or stress out one person.

When it comes to my health, both physically and mentally I have been following the doctors orders, staying away from stress, exercising along with taking breaks away from people when I feel it necessary. I have been feeling like the old me since around the second week of the new year. I’m improving daily but still have bad days. When those days come around I do all I can to keep one day from turning into two and two turning into a whole week.

As you can see 2017 was a wild one. As I reflect on it I ask my self; what did I get done last year as for as writing goes?

Well it was not a total loss. Although the goal to release at least one new novel in 2017, with a long shot of putting two out fell short, I did make some writing headway.

I submitted three manuscripts, and several short stories for my short story collection, to my favorite Editor and Proofreader Clare at Human Voices for review. The three full length novel titles are as follows.

  • Thunder Bear
  • The Bet
  • Demons of the Jungle

My writing goals for 2018 are simple and within reach.

  • Keep the readers updated with a blog that is published at least once a month.
  • Release one new novel (Thunder Bear)
  • Release a new edition (Re-Write) of Demons of the Jungle

Rewrite, what us a rewrite you ask? Demons of the Jungle is my first published work. The book was released way back in 2013/14. I’ll cover the specifics of the rewrite in next blog.

Till then try to stay warm and keep flipping the pages and reading. Remember reading is like dreaming with your eyes open!








A Glimpse into the Glamorous Life of an Independent Author – Weekly Writing Update #3-17


Like last week, this week’s update is going to be a little different. I’m going to focus more on the life of an independent author than my writing updates.

(Don’t worry, I’m still going to update you on the writing, so let’s get that out of the way first. Writing and interview status is the same as last week: more words written but nothing complete, nothing at the editor’s, and no new projects started.)

Now, on to the subject of this blog: the life of an independent author. On average, an independent author makes less than $10,000 a year. For that ten thousand, we get rejected and reviewed, not like a normal job where reviews may be quarterly, twice a year or annually from one or two bosses, but by several different people daily, and it’s posted for every Tom, Dick, Jane, Sally, and Spot to see.

[Side note: Some of the reviews are harsh and come out of nowhere. It seems the computer generation of ‘I’m braver on the computer than to your face’ will use reviews to vent their frustrations and shortcomings. The sad part is that if you reply to them, they never return your reply and/or have their friends who haven’t read the book post negative comments, only proving my point that they don’t want to go toe to toe alone. Now don’t get me wrong, I love constructive criticism about my writing, character development, plot, and structure. Hell, I don’t even mind a one-star review that says, ‘Didn’t like the book’. Those aren’t the reviews I’m talking about. No, the reviews I mean use clichés (which, by the way, as an author you should avoid) like, ‘Was forced to read this garbage’, ‘My two year old can write better than this’, and ‘Who in the hell do you think you are? A writer?’ This alone is sad, as independent authors live and die by reviews. Many authors give their work away in hopes of reviews. For every ten books that reach the hands of readers for free, the author may get one reviewnow that’s showing real appreciation for something the reader asks for and receives for free, and for your hard work.]

Ok, back to the blog. For $10,000 or less a year, independent authors wear many hats:

  • Creative writer
  • Editor/proofreader
  • Cover art designer
  • Illustrator
  • Formatter (for ePub and traditional publishing)
  • Website designer
  • Marketing and promotions manager

(There’s more, but I’m trying to keep this blog short!)

Most independent authors, on top of doing all the above, work another job, as ten grand won’t put a lot of food on the table, or keep the lights on and the car insured (if you can even afford to have one). Which brings us to the hours worked. A dedicated writer will be up to write two hours earlier than they need to be, before their other job begins, or they might wait until they get home from their day job, help with the chores and spend some time with the family, before retiring to some dark corner to write for a couple of hours before bedtime. Then, just like shampoo, rinse and repeat, day after day.

I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I don’t have another job so writing is all I do, and I have a team around me that helps with some of the jobs listed above, so I do get to spend a lot of my time just writing. (Check out my team at Joseph’s All-Star Book Team.) But my hours are just as strange and long. I have an office in my home on the ground floor, by the back door, which means I have an open door policy: open the door to let the dogs out, open the door to let the dogs in, open the door to see who is knocking, open the door… well, you get the idea. My editor, Clare, owner of Human Voices Editorial Services, lives in Bristol, England, six hours ahead of me here in Nashville, so she starts work at 3am my time. I do get 6 hours of sleep, in two 3-hour shifts. Most of my writing is done after midnight. Discussions with Clare are between 3am and 6am. Then to bed by 7am, and up by 10am to handle whatever needs to be done, from personal chores to author business. Nap time is between 3pm and 7pm. That schedule varies depending on the drama that is going on around me. Now you know why, if you have ever talked to me, I have no idea what day of the week it is, or the date.

So you are probably asking yourself why independent authors continue writing if the pay is so bad, the hours are strange and long, and we don’t get a lot of recognition. That one is easy: we love what we do. If the truth be told, we write more for ourselves than we do for the reader. Don’t get me wrong, we like people to read and enjoy our tales. When we meet people at book signings and they purchase our works, we get ecstatic. Then we become honored when they like our Facebook pages. We are floored when we become friends with that reader on Facebook, and understand it’s a privilege to be accepted as a friend. That is a real fan, and most of all a real friend. We are thrilled when someone acknowledges our work with a rating and/or a review. A five-star rating to me means that the reader enjoyed it; one star means the reader appreciated the effort but just didn’t like the work. But it all boils down to this: we like living in our own little world that we have created, and we hope you enjoy visiting our world through the tales we write. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Till next week, keep reading.

Yours truly,

Joseph Clay


Blog edited by Clare Diston @ Human Voices.

Witch’s Dilemma Characters: Valerie and Associates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Book review: Miles from Home & the Tabu series – 1) C/curious, 2) A/awakening and 3) S/submit, by Ava Bell

[Author’s Note: This blog was originally part of the Q and A with Ava Bell. After her first free book, C/curious, promotion was over, I felt that I needed to break the two apart. As my followers know, when reviewing books I discuss what I have learned from that particular author. I left that out of the original to keep it short, as the focus was on the interview. But thinking about it, I had cut the author and my readers short by leaving this section out and not revealing what I picked up from her style of writing. With that said, enjoy this full-length version of the blog and the reviews of the books written by Ava Bell: author.]

Hello again, everyone, welcome to book reviews from an author’s perspective. Last week I interviewed indie erotic writer Ava Bell (link to interview below), so now I’m back with my reviews of her books. She has written four books to date, three of them are in the Tabu series. This will be the first time I have read and reviewed four books at one time, but I had some time on my hands, so I headed over to Amazon and purchased Ava’s books; all four were under $14.00.

  Books by Ava Bell


 Miles from Home

Joe’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

 Miles from Home is a tale of two young people, Maggie and Sam, escaping their pasts in pursuit of a brighter future. They meet by accident on a stretch of lonely highway and the story escalates from there. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, something else happens to one or the other. The dreams of one come true but at a cost, while the other has to give theirs up. This story will pull at your heartstrings to the point of making you tear up. The sexual content is added at the right times and is appropriate and steamy. Don’t let the book being categorized as erotic fiction turn you away from reading a great book, written with feeling that will touch your soul.

The Tabu Series


Joe’s Average Rating for Tabu Series: 5 out of 5 stars

 The Tabu series consists of three books: 1) C/curious, 5 out of 5 stars, 2) A/awakening, 5 out of 5 stars, and 3) S/submit, 5 out of 5 stars.

511h2SuLaQL._AA160_  51Hc+-6HF-L._AA160_  51ywArGsjgL._AA160_Emma is a dedicated mother to a couple of teenagers, Maddie and Luke, along with being a wife to Daniel, who is any woman’s dream husband. However, Emma is lost; she no longer knows who she is or her purpose in life. After noticing one of her friends reading mommy porn, she decides she too can write books of that nature. With Daniel’s approval and encouragement she starts on the path to becoming an author. Emma wants her book to be realistic about the alternate lifestyle of the BDSM community. Once she starts her research her world begins to change and she finds out she may not be who she thought she was. Will Markus, a man she met on a BDSM social site, be her mentor and give her the answers she needs to write a story that is both fictional and true to the lifestyle?

The characters in this series are strong with distinct personalities, and they guide each other through the twists and turns of heartache, passion and forbidden pleasures. I love the way book three, S/submit, ends with the phone buzzing. I found the conclusion to be appropriate and surprising.

This series is excellent as it gives the reader a glimpse into an alternate lifestyle that few can understand and fewer dare to talk about. Ava pretty much nails it. This set of books reminds me a lot of the series by Penelope Syn, one of my favorite authors, Reform School Sex: The Collection – not the stories, as the plots between the two are totally different, but in the regard that in each series you can pick up any one of the books and it stands alone. There is no need to read the others as each has a beginning and a definite end. However, with Ava’s books, trust me, you will want to read all three to get the big picture of this type of lifestyle.

What Did I Learn from the Author?

As you know I write these reviews from a writer’s perspective so, as a writer, what did I learn from this author? First off, Miles from Home, her first book, is as close to flawless as one could hope for. Ava did not make any of the new independent author mistakes that so many do. She followed the correct path from the start by using professionals to edit, create cover art and format the book. Miles from Home has spectacular color inside and out and is readable on whatever device you are using. You have read from me over and over that, if you are an independent author, please don’t think you can do it all – you will just wind up releasing shabby work that hurts us all, and it will take you several books that are well done to recoup any readers you have left. Nothing can be perfect, but you can get it as close as possible, as Ava did, by hiring the right people. (Up at the top of this page is a tab, Joe’s Book Team – if you are in need of an editor, illustrator or cover art designer, the team I use and their contact info is located there.)

Next, although Ava is considered a writer of erotic fiction, I was shocked when I read her stories and they were not what I expected. I have read other books of an erotic nature and it’s one sex act after another, with a plot so thin you can see through it. First off, Ava’s stories have strong plots and excellent characters that carry the plot through the story at a good pace, with lots of twists and turns. Ava is writing about the troubles, curiosities and desires of everyday people and how they cope with those feelings. If we stop and think about it, sex happens – not as much as some of us would like, of course, but just the same it’s a fact of life. Ava builds the sexual tensions and adds the sex at the appropriate times, using terms that are not vulgar, but you still get the point. She paints the scenes with such skill that it allows the reader to feel the desire and passion the characters are struggling with and/or acting on. Not everyone can do this; here is an example.

My first novel I wrote back in 2014. That book is still buried deep in my computer and was rejected for its sexual content, the use of sexual slang, along with a list as long as my arm of other things that needed to be corrected. The editor basically stated that, if I wanted the book in a store that was not in the back room of a truck stop or porn shop, I had best clean it up. My first published book, Demons of the Jungle had some sexual overtones, but nothing you could call erotic. My second book, A Witch’s Dilemma, which is at the editing stage with a new editor, is another example. The main character has a breaking point – that breaking point is when her and three of her friends are almost raped. The editor was fine with it during the manuscript review, but I made the revisions and made the scene a little rougher, since it is an intricate part of the story, and I sent it back for the first round of edits. When she got to the new chapter she withdrew from the project due to its violent sexual nature. That put me behind, but I understood; not everyone can handle sexual or violent content, and I don’t want anyone doing anything they makes them feel uneasy.

I believe that, after reading Ava’s books, which I suggest everyone who reads this does, when needed I can write a tasteful sex scene and that the editor won’t shout about the slang,. I hope I can transfer the passion of the characters to the readers. I’m positive they will not be as good as the ones in the books above, but we all have to get our feet wet sooner or later by taking baby steps.

Ready for a couple of treats, Ava agreed to answer twenty questions in a Q and A format. One of the last questions dealt with advice for others, and part of her answer was write what you know. To me that was profound. Think about it, write what you know. Don’t write to try and please the fans of the latest trend, simply write what you know. I’m just speculating here, and I know in my case this is true, but if you write what you know, you most likely have a lot passion for that subject, and that passion will transfer to the pages of your book, allowing the reader to feel what you feel.

To read the interview with Ava click here, Q and A with Ava Bell – Author

The next treat is a free giveaway, that’s right free. The second book in the Tabu Series, A/Awakening. Click on the picture of the book and boo-yah your there to claim your free copy. This is a limited time offer, running from March 20 through March 25, 2016.


All of Ava’s books can be found on Amazon.

You can connect with Ava on the following social media sites:




Joe is also an independent author and you connect with him on the following sites:

Official Website of Joseph Clay – Author (The only place to buy autographed copies of Joseph’s books.)

Official Blog of Joseph Clay – Author (You are here now.)







Bookstore without Borders




Blog edited by Clare Diston at Human Voices.

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