Monday, July 7, 2014

Guest blog, Excerpt and Giveaway: Beyond the Reach of Judgement by Jo Bissell

What I've Learned
by Jo Bissell

Two years ago I started my journey towards becoming a independent author. I knew as soon as I set my mind to the project of writing a full length paranormal romance novel that I was going to take it through to publication. How was I so confident? Because prior to starting the project, back when I was dabbling in fanfiction, short stories, and WattPad I encountered other Indie Authors in various stages of their journeys, and I knew I wanted to join them. Unlike many writers, I never had any intention or interest in pursuing a “traditional” route and as I wrote on what has now become Beyond the Reach of Judgement I focused on creating something I personally would enjoy reading and something I would be proud to share with other readers, whether that turned out to be one or one million.

Beyond the Reach of Judgement now exists as an actual completed project available to the masses. I've got six unique reviews and some excellent reader feedback. While I will continue to share this project with the world, I feel a huge sense of pride and accomplishment just getting it to this point. And I've learned a great deal so far. Here's some thoughts for those considering the leap:

Dream big but work hard: everyone whom has every written anything original with the intent to let others read it, has had that moment when they feel they are pure genius and they will find instantaneous accolades and review the second their words are available to the public.  Then you come to realize that even if your book was that good (and it's probably not) you still have to find people to read it before anyone will care. And I thought writing the thing was the difficult part. So wrong. Finding readers, especially with a limited budget and time, is not an easy task. It just as much, if not more, research, planning, and effort as writing.

Write, rewrite, and rewrite again BEFORE you share with anyone: my first rough draft was barely 50K words. As above, I thought it was pure genius...until I reread it. Then I sat back and wondered what happened to all the things I thought I had written. Where was the magic? After crying over my keyboard a while about all that time wasted, I finally dove back into the project with renewed passion to capture what I previously thought I had written. Several rewrites with new scenes and expanded scenes, I had created something I felt I would enjoy reading.

Be grateful for all feedback, even the less than positive feedback: my first beta-reader tore my manuscript apart. My first reaction was to delete the email and forgot her name. Instead, I left it alone for a few days, and sat down to review the feedback. In retrospect, her feedback was brilliant and without it, I would likely have published that early draft and been very disappointed with the wave of negative feedback which would have likely echoed that of my early beta-readers. That being said, I did not blindly accept all advice, but I did consider each piece of feedback carefully. Even now that my Beyond the Reach of Judgement is published, I make a habit to evaluating each review, positive or negative for usable feedback which will help me in future endeavors. Someone took time to first of all read my words, then cared enough about those words, to evaluate them. How awesome is that?

Don't forget to write: it's so easy to get distracted, especially with the amazing amount of resources available and all the pressure to get involved in things like blogging, social media, and other forms of marketing even before you've finished the project. I know for a fact that I wasted and continue to waste  at least two hours a week that I should be writing, falling down rabbit holes of internet advice with what starts as good intentions and ends as a missed opportunity. I now block out specific times which are for writing only and separate block of time for researching and marketing.

Bask in your success: you wrote a book! It's available on the internet! People you've never met are reading it. That's a pretty cool thing. End of story.

Beyond the Reach of Judgement
Jo Bissell

Genre: paranormal romance; paranormal tragedy


Number of pages: 294
Word Count: 76K

Cover Artist: Char Adlesperger
at Wicked Cover Designs

Book Description:

“Did we leave any sin out?” she replied with a forced weak laugh.

“No. Between the two of us, I think we have managed to cover them all,” he mumbled as that uncomfortable lump in his gut returned.

Julien Rene Durant was once a good man. Born in France, he took the oath as a Jesuit Priest in the 1600s. He dedicated his life to spreading the Gospel. Now, he was a monster surviving off the blood of others; killing for survival even as he wished for nothing other than for his own extinction. After almost four centuries of guilt and hopelessness, he encounters someone who might just be able to rescue the good man trapped within the monster, but will his judgements deny him a second chance?

Mary Ruth Jacobson-Ryan is nothing special; a small town girl stuck in a rut. Married to the local Iraq and Afghanistan War Veteran and town hero who turned out not to be the perfect guy she fell in love with before the war, she is desperate for a way out. When things turn from bad to worse, she runs with plans to never look back. She quickly finds, however, that her search for a better future may lead her down a path with no future at all.

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Excerpt 4:

Agent Samantha Wolf reviewed the surveillance video for the fifth time that hour. Frustrated, she rewound the tape and played it a sixth time. Her sources had verified that the woman was indeed the one for which she searched, but her case ended there. The tape remained her only hard evidence. There must be something in it she had missed. She needed something new, anything new. Her only angle thus far had been the black Porsche. Only a few people in the entire state owned that exact make, model, and trim in that color, all of which she had questioned personally.
Sighing, she opened her notes and flipped through the pages. There was no body. She almost always had a body. If not a body, she had a victim with a story and a trail of clues leading straight to her undead perpetrator. She had no body, no victim, and only a dried up trail of black sports cars to work from. Why did she agree to a missing person’s case? There was absolutely zero evidence to support anything other than a human had taken the girl from that street corner. This case was not even in her jurisdiction.
Looking over at the photo of her husband in uniform sitting on the nightstand in her hotel room, she shook her head and pulled the frame closer. She was not doing this because it was her job, she was doing this because it was the right thing to do for her fellow officer, and a good friend of her husband. If it was her husband missing, she hoped a friend would do the same for her. In fact, Jonathan Ryan had done that for her. By sending her the letter cataloging her husband’s last moments, and the happier times prior to those moments, including photos and comments from his other friends, he had given her something she felt she needed to return. She was determined to find his missing wife. He deserved that, and she had the training and the resources to do it.
Reading over her notes, she tried desperately to connect the dots. She flipped through the profiles of the eight Porsche drivers she had questioned recently. Of the eight, two were women, and five had verified alibis. Mr. William Durand of Kansas City, MO remained the only man whom had yet to prove his whereabouts that evening. His address was mere blocks away from the location where Ms. Ryan had last been seen, but other than her gut feeling about him, she had no other real evidence against him. The car and the address hardly proved anything other than his wealth.
When she had visited Magdalen Durant, as she had called herself, Wolf had no idea at the time that the girl she was investigating for unrelated reasons, would become the same woman she so desperately wanted to find now. If only she had opened the email from Jonathan sooner, instead of allowing it to drift further down her inbox until she had all but forgotten about it. As soon as she read Jonathan’s desperate plea for help and opened the picture of the exact girl she had interviewed a few days prior, she regretted her decision. Had she had this information during the interview, she imagined it would have ended very differently.
Instead of just some random female who had flagged the alerts she had in place with the hospital as part of her ongoing investigation into mysterious deaths from extreme blood loss, she was Mary Ruth Jacobson-Ryan, wife of her dead husband’s best friend, and recent missing person case to which she had unofficially assigned herself. She assumed it to be coincidence. All of her other victims had been prostitutes. It seemed now to be one of her stranger cases, actually; dead, bloodless prostitutes found with slit wrists in motel rooms around the city every three to four weeks.
It took the local authorities years to see the pattern and wonder if they were connected. Everyone involved in the individual cases attributed the deaths to suicide and rightly so, based on the obvious evidence. But to her experienced eyes, it had to be vampiric in nature. Nothing else she had encountered could drain a human dry in such an exact way, not even suicide via wrist slitting in a bathtub.
Turning to her notes again, she read through the details regarding her interview with Ms. Durant/Mrs. Ryan. As she scanned them, her eyes stopped.
“Scarring to a wound consistent with previous suicide attempt by exsanguination via laceration of the radial artery at the wrist.”
While this detail had been important when Wolf had been focused on her bloodless prostitute case, somehow she had forgotten it when she realized she had missed her chance to confront Jonathan Ryan’s missing wife.
Looking over at her calendar, she noted, for the first time, that the highlighted days had come and gone with no dead girl found in a motel bathtub. Furthermore, the woman’s arrival at the hospital correlated with that timeline perfectly.
What if she wasn’t working two different cases? What if Mary Ruth Jacobson-Ryan was the latest victim of her prostitute-preying predator? She did disappear from a street corner well known for such activity. It could be possible that she had fallen victim in the same way the others had. 
Thinking back to her interview with Mrs. Ryan, she tried to understand if indeed she had experienced and survived an attack by a vampire, why she would not have said anything about the attack during their exchange. So many questions swirled through the agent’s mind - Did she not remember? Did she not care? Did she not think she would be believed? Was she being coerced into silence? If so, how and why? Why had she been allowed to live when so many others had died? How had she escaped?
Samantha’s thoughts drifted to the possibility that Mr. Durand could be one of the immortals she usually investigated. He definitely had a certain air about him - the difficult-to-place accent, the large amount of wealth for a man no one had seemed to have heard of, and a bit of arrogance when speaking with the law that she had encountered with her other vampires of significant age and experience. She remembered him being attractive and healthy in appearance at the time she had met him, meaning if he were indeed vampire, he had probably fed recently, but not too recently, judging by the whites of his eyes and the paleness of his skin.
Making a note to get more security footage from Mr. Durand’s building to determine if he ever left during daylight hours, she grabbed her folder that contained the details of the prostitute case. Pulling out the map showing the locations of the victims’ bodies and their last known locations prior to their deaths, she located the loft building in which Mr. Durand lived.
“Aha!” she exclaimed as she noticed the building’s location, centrally located among the mess of dots. Her suspicions increased, and now the evidence started to support them.

About the Author:

Jo Bissell started writing in middle school with fantasy stories inspired by books such as The Hobbit, and in fact once turned in a journal project written entirely in Dwarfish Ruins. She then explored fanfiction and short speculative fiction writing. Now, after many years of study, she spends most of her time working as a full time physician caring for hospitalized adults. When she is not writing or doctoring, she enjoys reading, watching movies, traveling, archery, thrift store shopping, and snowboarding. She currently resides in the Iowa City, IA area with her husband and two cats.

Beyond the Reach of Judgement is Jo Bissell’s first original novel which evolved out of a 2012 National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) project. She also has a short speculative fiction piece, His Eyes, available for Kindle. Future planned novels include a sequel to Beyond the Reach of Judgement, other works of urban fantasy and paranormal romances, and a science fiction novel. She continues to participate in NaNoWriMo.

Amazon Author Page:

Goodreads Author Page:

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1 comment:

Jo Bissell said...

Thank you so much for the chance to post a guest blog. It was fun and I appreciate the the time and effort on your part to help me share this novel. ~Jo