2017 & 2018 International
Book Award Winner
Gold Medal

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CLERGE BOOKS

When the Serpent Bites

About the book

Frederick Starks has it all—a gorgeous wife who was his high school sweetheart, three beautiful children, a mansion and cars others envy, millions in the bank, respected in his community, admired by his employees, loved and respected by loyal friends. He revels in the hard-earned power and control he’s acquired. As the saying goes, “All that glitters is not gold,” which Starks discovers when gut-wrenching betrayal by his wife sends him over the edge and into a maximum security prison. There, Starks is a new “fish,” stripped of nearly everything he’s always relied on. In that place, where inmates and guards have their own rules and codes of conduct, Starks is forced to face the darker side of life, and his own darker side, especially when the betrayals, both inside and outside the prison, don’t stop. He must choose which path to follow when the line between right and wrong becomes blurred: one that leads to getting out of the physical and emotional hellhole he finds himself in or one that keeps him alive.

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Joyce L. Shafer provides services for writers, with a focus on assisting new and indie authors. Services include Manuscript Evaluation, Substantive Editing, and Rewriting/Editing, which includes converting plays and screenplays into novels. Her clients say she’s part editor, part teacher, part coach. Details available at http://editmybookandmore.weebly.com. Her articles for new writers are available at http://newwritertips.blogspot.com/.

Special thanks goes to Dwayne Graham for guidance that provided relevant texture to specific topics, and to Makeda Crane for allotting time out of her busy law schedule to assist me. I am also grateful to attorneys David Shurtz and Hope Umana for taking the time to offer professional direction regarding the legal aspects included in the novel.


Evans Clerge, Danenia Smith, and Dr. Rebekah Brown are among the few that provided their support. I am very thankful for their constant feedback. Without their contribution and support, this book would not have been written.

I also have to say a special thank-you to Tierra Guy for devoting her time and effort to helping me. I was able to complete this book because of the laborious and lengthy sessions held at our house. We complained about the late nights, but it was worth it. Your point of view as a reader, significant other, and critic made this book possible. Thank you for keeping me motivated.

I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to my editor Joyce Shafer. She was instrumental in the production of this book. I am grateful for her experience and expertise.  I am also thankful for her patience and understanding. This book involved a huge amount of work; her guidance, her countless hours of coaching, and her attention to detail are unmatched. I’ve had the opportunity to consult with other editors, and by far you are the best, Joyce.

Acknowledgements for When the Serpent Bites