Category Archives: Books and Publishing

Guest Author

Today, my guest is Caroline Clemmons, spinner of western tales of romance and adventure. Her newest and last book of her Bride Brigade series sounds great!

Thank you, Anna, for inviting me to be your guest today. Most readers enjoy series, and that includes me. I also love writing them. Watching the characters recur as the series progresses enhances them in my mind.

I just completed writing PRUDENCE, book 7 of the Bride Brigade Series, a historical western romance. I’ve loved each of the main characters of this series. Finishing was bittersweet because I’ve been with these people for a while now. Saying goodbye has been difficult. But, I have many more books to write, so I’ve begun my next work.


Here’s the synopsis of PRUDENCE:

Prudence Lynch’s beloved grandmother trained her in midwifery and in folk medicine. Wild desert landscapeAlways ostracized because they’re different—until someone needs their help—they live in poverty at the edge of a tiny Virginia backwoods village where rumors plague them. After Granny’s death, Prudence leaves for Richmond. There, Prudence is fortunate to be chosen to accompany Lydia Harrison to Tarnation, Texas. She believes she’s left trouble and gossip behind to establish her healing business and begin a new life. But, trouble follows Prudence.

Doctor Riley Gaston wants a wife and children. He’s threatened to move from Tarnation to seek a wife, but he would never actually leave the community he loves. One of the young women Lydia brings home mesmerizes Riley. That is, until he learns her so-called profession is folk healing, which he views as dangerous as it is worthless.

Prudence is as stubborn as Riley. Danger causes them to reconsider their opinions. Is their change of heart too late?


I came up with the idea of the Bride Brigade as a twist on mail-order brides. These seven women came as guests of a wealthy widow and lived in her home until they found the man they wished to marry. Except for their hostess, the town of Tarnation, Texas had no unmarried women except elderly widows. If they hadn’t found a groom, they could have stayed as long as they wished—or until they established themselves in business and chose to move out on their own.

Six of the women came from Virginia and one from Missouri. Each had a different back story, and so did the grooms. The town name of Tarnation makes me smile. I hope it does the same for readers. Texas does have numerous towns with odd names—such as Cut and Shoot, Lick Skillet, and Dime Box.

PRUDENCE, was released a week ago. Here are some of the reviews:

Caroline Clemmons never fails to deliver quality stories, and Prudence , Bride Brigade #7, is no exception…As this is the final Bride Brigade novel, I was both thrilled and sad to see it available. This entire series was extremely enjoyable.”

“It’s sad to think we will miss Tarnation but I hope we can visit in future. Amazing story of two individuals who have to overcome their beliefs and accept each other and love in the end!”

 “Couldn’t put it down. Loved it as much as I have enjoyed the whole series.” 

“The whole series has been wonderful. Please keep writing, you write so well and I have enjoyed all your books.”


Here’s an excerpt from PRUDENCE:

     “He walked slowly, hoping to read the sign, but it was covered by bunting. Soon enough, he’d be back and by then he could meet his new neighbor. Wait—there was no one new in town except the seven women who’d accompanied           Lydia.

He froze in his spot.

No, she couldn’t, not across the street from his office. He turned and hurried across the road. Disregarding the superstition of walking under a ladder causing bad luck, he walked into the office. Sure enough, there was Prudence setting out bottles and packets of this and that.

He walked up to her. “What do you think you’re doing?”

She barely glanced up. “I’m organizing my herbs and tinctures and salves for my grand opening on Saturday.”

He edged closer. “What are you playing at? Are you setting out to deliberately cause trouble with me?”

She continued arranging things on shelves. “Certainly not. Why would you even say that? In your opinion, which you’ve made known to me and probably most of the townspeople, you don’t believe we’re in the same business. Having me here shouldn’t have anything to do with you.”

He fought for calm but it wouldn’t come. “It’s as if you’re. . . you’re saying you’re in the medical profession the same as I am.”

She stopped messing about with the dratted shelves and faced him. “Dr. Gaston, I’ve never said that. I’m interested in helping people in any way I can. If that alarms you, that’s your problem.”

He leaned in so they were nose to nose. “You’re setting yourself up as a medical authority. That’s a big problem. You can do untold harm with your so-called healing.”

Sparks shot from her blue eyes. “So can you. Do I tell you how to run your office and treat your patients? No.” She poked him in the chest. “So, Doctor Gaston. Butt. Out.”

Fuming, Riley turned on his heel and strode from the building. He rushed toward Mrs. Eppes’ home. Where did Prudence get off thinking she could do this to him?

He’d come close to kissing her. Thank heavens he’d resisted.

Who was he fooling? If he were being truthful, only her anger stopped him. What was he going to do about Prudence?

More importantly, what was he going to do about what being near her did to him?”

The buy link at Amazon is http://a.co/3AZ9c6d and it’s also in Kindle Unlimited.


Caroline’s Bio

Caroline Clemmons is an Amazon bestselling and award winning author of historical and contemporary western romances. A frequent speaker at conferences and seminars, she has taught workshops on characterization, point of view, and layering a novel.

Caroline and her husband live in the heart of Texas cowboy country with their menagerie of rescued pets. When she’s not indulging her passion for writing, Caroline enjoys family, reading, travel, antiquing, genealogy, and getting together with friends. Find her on her blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, WattPad, Shelfari, and Pinterest.

Click on her Amazon Author Page for a complete list of her books and follow her there.

Subscribe to Caroline’s newsletter here to receive a FREE novella of HAPPY IS THE BRIDE, a humorous historical wedding disaster that ends happily—but you knew it would, didn’t you?

She loves to hear from her readers at caroline@carolineclemmons.com

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New Old Books…..

Getting the rights to a book back from a large publishing house can be a challenge. I spent at least three years trying to get the rights back on my last traditionally published book, MAN OF THE WEST, written under the pseudonym Sadie Callahan.

Last year, I finally got that letter returning all rights to me. I’m now in the process of doing some revising and preparing that book for re-release as an Anna Jeffrey book.

I had to have a new cover designed. First, you aren’t allowed to use the publishing house’s original cover because they own it. Second, it had Sadie Callahan’s name on it, a pen name that I will probably never use again. So I called on the fabulous Kim Killion (as I always do) to design the new cover.

COMING SOON!

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This book is a sequel to LONE STAR WOMAN. The hero is the second Strayhorn cousin who is still trying to live down his father’s disgrace.

“Sheriff of a small, remote town in the Texas Panhandle, Jake Strayhorn’s calm and uncomplicated life changes when he meets the Circle C Ranch’s new cook. He’s drawn instantly to her wholesome beauty, different from any other woman he’s ever known. As a career cop, his honed instincts detect that she’s running from something, but she refuses to reveal her past. How can he protect her if he doesn’t know what’s making her so skittish?

Escaping an abusive, drug-addicted husband in the dead of night, Jolie Jensen found the perfect hiding place on the Circle C Ranch, working as a cook. This seems to be the safest place she’s found in years, yet fear lingers. Billy Jensen’s bound to find her and their daughter, and with no family, the only person she knows she can lean on is the too-attractive sheriff. He’s shown himself willing to be her protector, but can she protect her heart from the quiet, strong Jake Strayhorn?”

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 I love writing sagas about big families and all of the drama that can be associated with them. And here’s the blurb to LONE STAR WOMAN, Book #1 of this trilogy that was also originally released as a Sadie Callahan book.

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“Jude Strayhorn, the only child of the vast Circle C Ranch’s CEO, is in constant conflict with her father and grandfather. Her greatest desire is to exert her AnnaJeffrey_LoneStarWoman_800education and influence on the ranch’s operation, but the two men thwart her at every turn. Giving up, she goes outside the Circle C intending to use her trust fund to buy a small spread from a deceased widow’s estate where she can put her ideas into practice. That is, until she runs headlong into the widow’s heir, Brady Fallon, who has his own plans for the 6-0 Ranch.

Brady Fallon is no stranger to Willard County, though he hasn’t been around since childhood. His inheritance needs a lot of work and he needs money to put it back into shape and revive it as a cattle operation. He hires on as a hand at the Circle C Ranch, a move that leads to unexpected benefits for his future as well as unwanted conflict with his boss’s daughter. Can he set his attraction to her aside for his own good?”

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The Strayhorns was always supposed to be a trilogy, so I’ve planned a third book. It will be Cable Strayhorn’s story. Cable is the third Strayhorn cousin who returns to the Circle C Ranch after living away most of his adult life. So far, the title of that book is SON OF THE PLAINS.

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AnnaJeffrey_TheHorseman_200px (2)I’m still working on THE HORSEMAN. Almost finished. I’ve had some distractions and writing it has taken much longer than I thought it would. It’s a complex story. I have to wind up the loose ends left in THE TYCOON and THE CATTLEMAN as well as solve the mystery of who is harassing the Lockhart family and try to keep the word count as low as possible. However, I can finally see the top of the mountain. Please hang in there with me. I’ll have it on the market soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Readers (and Writers) Beware!

The world of electronic publishing and reading has been a blessing to many people. My DH for instance. On his Kindle reader he can enlarge the font and enjoy reading without his glasses. I, too, like reading on my Kindle and getting ebooks at a cheaper price than print books most of the time. It certainly has eliminated a storage problem for me in that even before Kindle, I already had rooms full of books that I didn’t know what to do with and didn’t have room for more. Still the case, I might add.51nk+aSvOFL._AC_US327_QL65_

Electronic publishing has enabled me to publish my own books instead of going through the crap-shoot of trying to sell them to New York publishers, which is like wading through Saran Wrap. It has brought me income that I wouldn’t have received from traditional publishing, for which I’m grateful.

A couple of years ago, Amazon introduced the Kindle Unlimited program that was immediately recognized as a boon to readers, but an unknown quotient to authors. Nevertheless, authors embraced it and put their books in the program exclusively for 90 days, shutting down their listings in other retail venues such as Apple, Barnes & Noble, etc.


Around the end of last year or the first of this year, my book sales at Amazon started tanking and I couldn’t figure out why. I wasn’t doing anything different from what I’ve always done. Sales got steadily worse every month. Admittedly, I’m not one of those prolific authors who rolls out a new book every 2 or 3 months, but still, the books I had on Amazon had always moved steadily along.

Eventually, I started seeing comments on social media from other authors about the same dearth of sales. I was still scratching my head, trying to figure out what had gone wrong. (And I haven’t figured it out entirely.)

I  already had faced that my self-published books were competing with books being   published directly and heavily marketed by Amazon under its own imprints. Amazon now has several imprints in several genres. They work the  same way as the traditional publishers in New York, i.e., paid advances to authors for acquisition of a work, contracts and deadlines and editors.

In addition, they have created the Kindle World program in which some of their paid authors they have made into bestsellers now have their own Kindle Worlds and are bringing ebooks to the market at lower prices. These are books written by authors who haven’t quite made those bestseller lists, but are riding the coattails of an Amazon-made bestseller. Sort of a modified pyramid scheme.

Still, though common sense told me Amazon’s own products got preferential treatment in terms of rankings and publicity, I accepted that as just one of those challenges with which all entrepreneurs no matter what they’re selling have to contend.

Little by little, bits and pieces of another problem started to eke out.

Can you say CLICK FARM?

Click farms have existed for quite a while for all kinds of products, but the fraud hadn’t 5hf8bU3kJM0QRK6dreally leaked into book publishing except through weird book pirating sites. That has changed.  In the last year or so, Amazon book sales has been invaded by click farmers. Self-publishing authors in particular are competing with fraud and plagiarism on a scale not seen before. It’s insane. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/01/05/selling-social-media-clicks-becomes-big-business/4327905/

What is a Click Farm? Wikipedia says a click farm is a form of click fraud, where a large group of low-paid workers are hired to click on paid advertising links for the click fraudster (click farm master or click farmer). The workers click the links, surf the target website for a period of time, and possibly sign up for newsletters prior to clicking another link. http://www.businessinsider.com/silicon-valley-are-click-farms-real-2016-6

Here’s the definition from Google: A click farm is a business that pays employees to click on website elements to artificially boost the status of a client’s website or a product. Click farms are usually based in developing countries, where wages are extremely low by Western standards. https://kotaku.com/inside-chinese-click-farms-1795287821

Somewhere in China or Bangladesh or the Philippines or even Russia, a person beingwnus15o6tm4ekewlelgn paid a pittance is sitting at a computer that might be connected to 100 or a 1,000 phones or tablets or even more. All day and all night, they generate phony likes on Facebook, Instagram and other social media, to the tune of billions of “likes” in a year. When you look at a Facebook post that has many, many “likes,” you don’t know if they’re real or counterfeit.

The social media sites don’t really care as long as they’re getting traffic that, in turn, generates advertising dollars. The chances of someone, anyone, doing anything about this are pretty close to zero.

So what is happening with books listed for sale or borrow at Amazon? If you’re a Kindle Unlimited  member, you might find this article interesting: https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2017/07/15/scammers-break-the-kindle-store/  I couldn’t possibly explain the problem any better than the author of this article explains it.

THE IMPORTANCE OF RANKINGS

In other instances, fraudsters go into Amazon book listings under phony names and post reviews that affect a book’s Amazon ranking. Enough 1-star reviews will sink a book to the bottom of the list.

At the same time, if the click farmers post enough 4 or 5-star reviews on their own books, those books zoom to the top of the bestseller lists, thereby eliminating legitimate authors from competition and the opportunity to earn royalties. I’m not sure why, but apparently, Amazon’s bots do not know the difference between the artificial reviews and real ones.

The Amazon rankings are so important to authors. Sad to say, if you as an author have a book for sale and its ranking gets close to or drops below 500,000, you can bet that unless you can come up with a magic marketing formula that gets you back in the running, your book selling days at Amazon are over. Readers will simply never find your books, thus never buy them.

COUNTERFEITING

Then there’s the guy conducting seminars on how to hire some third world person to write a book for $200.  By this method, he “writes” at least a dozen books in a month, puts his name on them, lists them to borrow by Amazon KU members and collects a royalty. Because he’s successful, others are now doing the same thing. This isn’t exactly plagiarism. I don’t know if it even rises to level of fraud, but it might.

Here in the states, the same thing is happening, but probably not for as little as $200. It’s called “freelance writing” and there are several web sites promoting this service. For an agreed on fee, a ghost writer, by contract, gives away any rights he has to what he writes for someone who has hired him. He gets not a penny more than the agreed-on fee no matter if the book is a bestseller. In the end, he might or might not get paid the agreed-on fee. Plenty of instances exist where an author agreed to be a ghost writer, then got stiffed by the non-author who hired him or her.

VICTIMS OF PLAGIARISM

Real plagiarism is even more sinister and an even greater threat to legitimate authors. In some cases, somebody in a third-world country (or maybe somebody in the good old USA) copies a book’s content, changes words here or there, changes a few paragraphs, puts on a new cover showing a different title and a phony author’s name and markets it as his or her own book through Amazon for 99-cents. Much of copying of the books is done by software, so enough changes are made to prevent Amazon’s bots from catching the duplication and calling it plagiarism.

The fraudulent author then follows up by buying “likes” and/or phony reviews from a click farmer, which drives the book to the top of the bestseller lists. The click farmer, because he runs a sweatshop, puts up book after book and dominates the bestseller lists with several books, which qualifies him to receive substantial “bonuses” over and above royalties from Amazon.

With more exposure at the top of the lists, the click farmers sell more books, which forces legitimate authors whose books might be listed for more than 99-cents farther down the list. The only legitimate authors who can compete with them are the ones who have books for sale for 99-cents, but I don’t know how much competition they really present. No one who is really writing a book can do it that fast.

AMAZON’S ATTITUDE

Amazon doesn’t appear to care very much about who they’re paying royalties to. Their #1 interest is keeping the monthly KU subscription fee coming in from readers and or selling books to customers. If Amazon can somehow persuade authors to keep the inventory supplied for little or no money, so much the better for Amazon’s bottom line. Their payout is the same whether the recipient is a *real* author or a third-world-country fraudster.

Multiplied by tens of thousands, this tallies up to a lot of money.

This is fraud. This is plagiarism. This is crime.


THE FUTURE

What will happen eventually is that real books by real authors will have no more distinction and won’t be worth wasting your time reading. A lot of authors will probably bail. What is the point of continuing to write books if they can’t make any money?

I’m a good example. I spend many hours of a day in front of the computer trying to produce a quality, professional product. Do you think I or anybody else is going to keep doing that if something out of my control prevents my making a decent amount of money? ….. Writing a book is hard. If I’m going to work for nothing, I can find something easier to do.

When you start to buy a book that’s for sale for 99-cents, look at it closely. If it has an author’s name on it who released several titles just last week and has waaay too many reviews to have been on the market for only a week, maybe it’s been stolen from a legitimate author who spent a year of hard work writing it. Complain about it to Amazon.

Or if you buy a book in which the syntax, the editing, the grammar, etc., are awful, you might be reading a book produced by a third-world person who doesn’t know English very well.

Just recently, on a book at Amazon I was thinking about buying, I read some reviews. Every reviewer spoke about how bad the spelling, the grammar and the editing were. The listing said the book was published by a real publisher, so my first thought was if a professional publisher released this book, why is it full of errors that could have been easily corrected? My next thought was some kind of fraud. I didn’t buy the book and the author lost that royalty. This is an example of what I’m talking about.

Royalties are the same thing as commissions. They are the only pay an author receives. If someone takes them away by fraudulent means, a real author can’t continue to exist.

Amazon knows this is going on and what have they done? Instead of meeting the fraud head-on, they’ve tightened their requirements for *real* authors who try to put up new books for sale by demanding that they prove they have legitimate copyrights, for one thing. That might be a good first step, but it causes real authors a lot of headaches and delays their book releases, while the click farmers go happily along collecting royalties on a book they didn’t write. So far, defense against this has proved to about as effective as that old needle in a haystack cliche.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

As far as I can tell, authors can’t do a damn thing about it. It’s up to readers to sort this out and complain. And complain. And complain. And return books you believe to be fraudulent to Amazon. Amazon responds only to customers. Believe me, they’ve already heard plenty from authors.

And bear in mind, Amazon now uses overseas call centers for customer service. If you have a complaint, don’t give up and pull your hair. If the individual you complain to sounds like he’s out to lunch, hang up or ask for a different person.


On a final note, I would add, if you read a book by an author whose name you’ve never heard, if the “voice” sounds like *my* voice, let me know. I can tell you in an instant if I’m the one who wrote it. I don’t know what I can do about it, but I can let you know you’ve been cheated.

Having said all of the above,  I’m painfully aware that a reader, at 99-cents, might not care if he’s reading something that has been stolen or counterfeited and that he or she might not care if an author gets cheated out of a royalty. And that is the most hurtful, scariest scenario of all.

SUPPORT YOUR FAVORITE AUTHORS. CALL OUT FRAUD AND PLAGIARISM.

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A Rocky Journey…

At last, I’m sneaking up on the end of THE HORSEMAN, Book #3 of the Sons of Texas trilogy and below is the blurb. I hope to release the e-book in July or August at the latest. I think the cover, designed by the wonderful Kim Killion, is awesome.

AnnaJeffrey_TheHorseman_200px (2)     Troy Rattigan devotes most of his time and energy to horses— rescuing them, training them, understanding them. Some might say he has a spiritual connection to the equine species. Because of a brutal schedule and an escalating series of attacks on his family, his own connections haven’t gone beyond meaningless hookups….His current workshop a week before Christmas, which is an inconvenient favor for an old friend, introduces him to a   fractious, blood-bay horse in his current workshop that raises all kinds of red flags. There’s something about that horse and something about the crippled, unassuming beauty on the other end of his lead rope that ignites his instinct to fix what’s broken—in both woman and horse.

     Single mom Samantha Karol is barely back on her feet after almost losing her life and her leg to a rattlesnake bite. One wrong step could cripple her for life. The worst step she could make? Accepting the too-rich, too-handsome, too-sweet-talking horse whisperer’s offer to teach her horse-crazy young son to work with her best friend’s problem horse….Having seen the worst of life, Samantha is too old and too jaded for her years. Yet, she can’t resist giving her son his wildest dream. ….. Is the deep, instant fit she feels with Troy simply a mutual understanding of loss and grief? Or is it a solid foundation upon which to build a lifetime of happiness? Is becoming connected to the wealthy and dynamic Lockhart family another risk to her own life as well as her young son’s?

THE TRILOGY

Those of you who might have read THE TYCOON and THE CATTLEMAN, Books 1 & 2 of the Sons of Texas trilogy, might recognize Troy Rattigan who is the hero in THE HORSEMAN. Troy, the bastard son of the Lockhart family’s current patriarch, William Drake Lockhart, Jr, (or, as he is referred to in the books, Bill Junior) is less than a heroic character in Books 1 & 2. In THE HORSEMAN, he strikes down the demonic forces that are affecting his life and comes to terms with the good man that has always resided within him.https://www.books2read.com/u/3kZrgW

https://amzn.com/B00N24Z2R2THIS TRILOGY MAKES up a family saga at the same time they are romance novels. Click on each picture on the left for more information. ….. THE HORSEMAN will bring the story to an end. It will complete the arc that has continued through the 3 books, which is the resolution of the rocky relationship between Bill Junior and his wife Betty, the parents of the 3 heroes. The villain who has been harassing the family and why will also be revealed.


THE IDEA

The basic idea for the story as I first imagined it was triggered by a conversation I read between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway that went as follows:     Fitzgerald: The rich are different from you and me.     Hemingway: Yes, they have more money.    

The premise of the story is to show that the rich really are not different in fundamental ways. They experience triumphs and joys, suffer weaknesses and tragedies just like everyone else. Hemingway, a master of irony, a student of human nature and the expert at saying the most with the fewest words, nailed it in 5 words.


IN CLOSING…

Writing THE LOVE OF A COWBOY was a writing journey for me. A dozen romance novels later, writing the 3 books  of the Sons of Texas trilogy has been no different. I’ve tried to show strengths and weaknesses of the main characters, be they heroic and laudable or less than admirable.  I hope I’ve succeeded. I hope readers will enjoy the characters and the story and will recognize the premise. After you read it, let me know…..

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Guest Author, New Book

Chick Lit

Date Published:  05/31/2017

Only $0.99!

 

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“A feel-good, heart-warming, tear-jerking love story.”

The best sort of holiday read, recommended for fans of Jane Costello, Erica James, and Lucy James

“My dog didn’t like men. Actually that was a lie – she didn’t like the men I chose. The only ones who rocked her world had been my father (who was no longer with us), Ross (who was gay), and the butcher on the high street (for obvious reasons).

When Jenni Meadows has the opportunity to expand her dog-grooming business she takes it, and when a nice man appears on her horizon but fails to make any sparks fly, she decides she has enough on her plate with her business without adding a boyfriend into the mix.

Besides, Millie doesn’t like him and when her dog doesn’t like a man, Jenni knows all about it. So why does Millie take a very strange liking to the new vet, especially since he has a taciturn expression, wears a wedding ring, and wields a needle?

Under the Cherry Tree is a tale of love and hope, waggy tails, and cold noses.

 
 
 

Excerpt 

 

 

His name was Rupert, and that should have told me all I needed to know. Not that I’m nameist or anything, but with a name like that there was no way he came from the council estate up the road; the other kids would have decimated him! And he wasn’t a kid, not by a long stretch, not if that chest and those arms were any indication. He was tall too, like many rowers tend to be.

 

Rupert and I moved in entirely different circles, and I don’t know what on earth possessed me to agree to go out on a date with him, though the three glasses of white wine I’d drunk may have had something to do with it. I was drinking for two, because Amber had just that morning found out she was pregnant, and that meant I had to drink her share. Oh, and don’t forget that chest. It bulged and rippled and clung to his body like I wished I could. I only took my eyes off it long enough to make sure he didn’t have two heads. The face above a set of extremely broad shoulders looked nice enough, so I didn’t bother to check again.

 

But why the hell had I agreed to let him take me shooting? Who actually did something like that on a first date? Dinner, a drink, maybe a concert, ice-skating at a push – but definitely not clay pigeon shooting.

 

The only redeeming thing was that he told me I could bring Millie. And did I mention his chest?  If that’s what rowing did for a man, I made a vow to meet more rowers (if this one didn’t pan out).

 

Rupert the Rower. I should have realised, even without the accent, that he was way out of my league. He was an ex-Kings student (private school – very private, because mummy and daddy had to have a great deal of money to send their children there, and he was the youngest of three boys).

 

Then there was the house, or should I say, mansion. As I trundled up the gravelled drive in my little Micra, Millie panting on the passenger seat, I was under the impression this was where the shooting meet was taking place, not that Rupert actually lived there.

 

I pulled my ten-year-old car into a space between a brand-new Range Rover and a top-of-the-range Jag, and clambered out. Hollington Hall. Nice. I wondered if they did wedding receptions. Not that I had any plans on getting married any time soon (had to find the right guy first), but it was something to consider for the dim and distant future. At least I wasn’t like some of my friends who had picked the dress, the shoes, and the bridesmaids’ outfits, all before their sixteenth birthdays! I was merely mildly interested.

 

Surprisingly, for a hotel, the front door was firmly closed.

 

After unclipping Millie from her harness, I carried her up the steps and placed her gently on the ground between a pair of tall columns, and tried to turn the door handle. Locked.

 

There didn’t appear to be a bell, but there was a huge knocker in the shape of a lion’s head, so I banged it a couple of times and waited until  it was opened by an elderly woman in a pinny. She frowned at me.

 

‘I’m here for the shooting,’ I said.

 

She gave me a blank stare.

 

‘With some guy called Rupert? Sorry, I don’t know his last name.’ Perhaps I hadn’t got the right place either, because the large hallway behind her looked nothing like a hotel reception area. It lacked a front desk, for starters. A sleepy spaniel lifted its head and blinked, but made no move to get up. It was probably so used to guests that another one, even one with a dog, was nothing to get excited about.

 

‘Master Rupert,’ the woman said, issuing me with a stony stare.

 

‘Pardon?’

 

‘His name is Master Rupert Hollington.’

 

‘I thought Hollington was the name of this place?’

 

‘It is.’ She opened the grand door a little wider, and moved to the side with a sigh. ‘I’ll let him know he has a guest.’

 

I stepped into the hall, my eyes on stalks. Rupert Hollington of Hollington Hall. Rupert the Rower, who’d gone to Kings and had a plummy accent, and who thought taking a girl clay pigeon shooting on a first date was a good idea.

 

I wanted the highly polished, black-and-white tiled floor to open up and swallow me.

 

The maid/servant/housekeeper (I had no idea what to call her – she might be his long-suffering nanny for all I knew) stalked down the hall and disappeared through a door at the far end, leaving me to stare up at the sweeping staircase with my mouth open. The place was huge!

 

‘Jessie, how lovely you could make it.’ Rupert strode up to me, both hands outstretched, and moved in for a double cheek peck.

 

‘Jenni,’ I corrected him, mortified.

 

‘Are you sure?’

 

‘Erm…yes?’

 

‘Jenni it is then, though I could have sworn you told me your name was Jessie.’

 

‘It was noisy in the pub,’ I said, trying to make him feel better, though to be fair, he didn’t seem in the least bit fazed that he’d got my name wrong.

 

Never mind, it was an easy mistake to make.

 

‘I see you’ve brought your dog,’ he said. ‘Does it retrieve?’

 

I glanced down at Millie, with her white fluffy fur and pink diamante collar. ‘Not even a stick,’ I admitted, wondering why he thought a West Highland Terrier would double up as a retriever. Now if he’d asked about her ability to dig holes…

 

Rupert looked a little put out, but recovered quickly. ‘No bother. Just don’t let it off the lead, or it might interfere with the real dogs.’

 

Was he calling my dog fake? Huh! She was as doggy as any other canine.

 

I had a feeling this date wasn’t going to go as well as I’d hoped, especially when he asked, ‘Are your wellies in the car?’

 

Wellies? What wellies? Oh dear; I hadn’t thought to dress for mud, assuming my leather boots and chunky jacket would be outdoorsy enough. Clearly not. When I took the time to really look at him, I realised he was wearing a Barbour jacket and a pair of green Wellington boots. Both the jacket and the wellies were liberally spattered with mud.

 

‘Is the shoot in a field?’ I asked, pleased to be able to display some shooting terminology.

 

He gave me an odd look. ‘Where else would it be?’

 

Maybe I should have done a bit more research on Google. ‘I’ve never handled a gun before,’ I admitted. ‘The only thing I know about it, is that you call “pull” and then do your best to hit the thingy.’

 

I was unprepared for his sudden burst of laughter. ‘Oh, my dear girl, you’re priceless!’

 

‘Eh?’ So what if I didn’t know the correct term for those flying disk things? I’d already confessed I knew nothing about shooting.’

 

‘We’re shooting pheasant,’ he said, taking my arm and guiding me towards the door he had appeared from.

 

I pulled back. ‘Wait. What? As in real, live birds?’

 

He nodded.

 

‘Ew. No thanks.’

 

‘You don’t have to touch them,’ he said, giving my arm a tug.

 

It wasn’t the touching which bothered me – it was the killing itself. Millie, close by my side, gave a small grumble in the back of her throat, half warning, half concern, and nudged my leg with her nose. I bent to pat her, using the movement as an excuse to shake off his hand.

 

‘Is it friendly?’ he asked, leaning forward and holding out his fingers for her to sniff.

 

Millie drew back behind my legs.

 

‘She,’ I emphasised the word, ‘is perfectly friendly.’ And Millie promptly made me into a liar by emitting a low growl.

 

I tugged at her lead in annoyance, vowing to give her a good telling off later. Not that it would do any good; if a dog had to be admonished for bad behaviour, the ticking off had to take place immediately after the event, else the dog would have no idea why its owner was cross.

 

‘I don’t think shooting is for me,’ I said, and turned to leave. Even if Rupert suggested doing something else instead, I wasn’t sure he was my kind of guy.

 

Millie simply confirmed my thoughts when I glanced down at her.

 

She was weeing on his wellies.

 
 

About the Author

 

Lilac spends all her time writing, or reading, or thinking about writing or reading, often to the detriment of her day job, her family, and the housework. She apologises to her employer and her loved ones, but the house will simply have to deal with it!

She calls Worcester home, though she would prefer to call somewhere hot and sunny home, somewhere with a beach and cocktails and endless opportunities for snoozing in the sun…

When she isn’t hunched over a computer or dreaming about foreign shores, she enjoys creating strange, inedible dishes in the kitchen, accusing her daughter of stealing (sorry – “borrowing”) her clothes, and fighting with her husband over whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher.

 

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New Directions….

I’ve finally done it. I’ve given notice at my day job. I work only 3 days a week, but it feels like 9. The chaos, thus the stress level is off the chart and it takes sooo much “thinking” time away from  writing. I read somewhere once that responsible people don’t leave jobs because they hate the job; they leave because they are unhappy with the management. Enough said.

To be sure, there is motivation beyond that. Number One is realizing that at the moment, I’m  making $3 an hour more than I was when I went there to work 9 years ago and no policy in sight to be paid much more. The past two years, my raises have amounted to 20-cents an hour. I will always wonder just exactly how much having that job cost me.

So, when I thought about the stress level compared to the pay, I just couldn’t find a reason to do it anymore.

Now I’ll be able to concentrate more of my time and energy on writing and I’ll be able to revive this blog. I had given it up because it was just too much to add to trying to write books and do a little marketing. WordPress has made changes since I blogged last and I’ve had to spend a couple of days re-learning enough about WordPress to actually write and send the blog.

I have several projects underway or on the back burner. So here’s my writing plan:

AnnaJeffrey_TheHorseman_200px (2)#1 project is to finish THE HORSEMAN, Book #3 of my Sons of Texas trilogy. AnnaJeffrey_TheTycoon_200pxI’ve blogged here about it before. It will present a romance for Troy Rattigan, horse whisperer and Bill Lockhart, Jr.’s bastard son. It will also complete the arc that began in Book #1, THE TYCOON, and solve the riddle of who is threatening and harassing the Lockhart family and the Double-Barrel Ranch. My books usually are between 25 and 30 chapters. I’m up to 15 chapters now on THE HORSEMAN, so I don’t have too far to go.

#2 project is work on MAN OF THE WEST, sequel to LONE STAR WOMAN and Book #2 of the Strayhorn trilogy, a book that has already been written and traditionally published as a mass market paperback by Sadie Callahan. I FINALLY have the rights back. I’m going to revise it a little and re-release it as an Anna Jeffrey book.

#3 is CLAIMED, the 2nd book of Miranda’s Chronicles. The first book, DESIRED, is a 40,000-word erotic novella. CLAIMED will be a full novel. I want to complete this duet because I really liked writing in first person and I liked the 2 main characters in this story. When I wrote DESIRED, I believed I had created one of my strongest, therefore best, heroines in Miranda.

#5 is to write Book #3 of The Strayhorn trilogy. This will be Cable Strayhorn’s story. I haven’t settled on a title yet, but I’m toying with MAN OF THE HIGH PLAINS. I’m also thinking about THE PRODIGAL and or THE PRODIGAL OF THE PLAINS, because it will be the story of a Strayhorn heir who leaves the fold for a different life, then returns after personal tragedy. I know—soap opera. 😊 I don’t yet have a cover. I have to settle on a title before I can choose a cover. ….. What do you think about the 3 titles? Would love to hear your comments.

Woven between all of these is a new Dixie Cash zany adventure for the Domestic Equalizers. I’ve got the title: WHEN I SAID YOU’RE THE BOMB, I DIDN’T DREAM IT WAS TRUE. I’ve also got the basic plot idea formed in my head and am doing research. So far, I have only 3 chapters on paper, but the more research I do, the funnier the concept seems to me. The title is a clue to the story. 😉 ….. This will be the biggest challenge of all of all my writing projects because I no longer have my sister as a partner and she is the funny one. I don’t have that “Saturday Night Live” sense of humor that she does. She has too much going on in her life to fool with it.

Also woven among and in between all of this is an attempt to narrate my own audio books. The fees for narrators makes them too expensive to do very many and unless a ton of books sell, it takes too long for the ROI. If I can do a decent job on my own narration, I’ll be releasing more audio books. Doing it myself is relatively inexpensive compared to hiring a narrator.

As you can see, just because I’ve quit my day job doesn’t mean I won’t be busy. 😟 I only hope to live long enough to complete all of these projects. Wish me luck!

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It’s Here Again….

Happy New Year


Happy New Year, Readers!

I can’t believe it. Seems like only yesterday I posted this same heading, yet it was Christmas a year ago. All of you probably thought I had died. The last time I posted on this blog was months back. August, I think.

I hope 2015 was a good year for you. As for me, I’ve had better. But on the other hand, I’ve had worse. All in all, I have a lot to be grateful for.

So do you make resolutions? And do you stick to them?

I don’t make resolutions so much as I make plans. And I’ve already got 2016 pretty much planned. Of course you know that old saying : Life is what happens while you’re making other plans. (That quote really did not originate with John Lennon. It originated with a guy named Allen Saunders.)

DixieCash_YouCanHaveMyHeartNumber One on my list is to finish the Dixie Cash book I’ve got underway, YOU CAN HAVE MY HEART, BUT DON’T TOUCH MY DOG. It’s full of the usual madness and mayhem only Debbie Sue and Edwina and their friends can generate. I had planned on releasing it before the end of 2015; however, my day job took over my life for about six weeks and I didn’t get it done. If I’ve made a resolution at all, I have resolved to not let that happen again. Now I’m shooting for a release date in February or March.  This was quite an undertaking for me. My sister threw in the towel at around 50 or 60 pages, so I’ve written it on my own. People who have read it tell me it’s funny, but I’m nervous. I’m the first to acknowledge that she’s the funny one. AnnaJeffrey_TheHorseman_200px (2)

Second on my list is to finish THE HORSEMAN, Book #3 in the Sons of Texas trilogy. It isn’t a comedy. This will be Troy Rattigan’s story, plus it will tie up all of the loose ends and reveal the villain who’s got it in for the whole Lockhart family.

Along with these two projects, I’m going to attempt to narrate my own audio book. I know. Don’t laugh.  …..  I’ve already bought the equipment I need and am ready to roll. All I need now is to get over this head cold that has affected my voice. I don’t know how my Texas twang will sound trying to narrate an audio book. A person should have good elocution and be a half-assed actress for it to work. In fact, most of the audio book narrators *are* actors or actresses. My advantage, if I have one, is that I know how I mean for the dialogue I wrote to sound. We’ll see how it goes. Believe me, the money I’ve invested in the equipment is a drop in the bucket compared to paying for a professional narrator. They are very expensive.

Another project on the drawing board is to write Book #2 of Miranda’s Chronicles, a sequel to the 40,000-word novella I released in 2015, DESIRED. Book #2 will not be a novella. Writing a novella is harder than it looks. I will never do it again. My home is in 100,000-word tomes. The title will be CLAIMED and I’ve already bought the image for the cover. That way, with money invested, I’ll be motivated to get it done.

978-0-451-22959-5_ManOfTheWest.inddI’m also still trying to get my copyright back from my former New York publisher on MAN OF THE WEST, a book I wroteAnnaJeffrey_LoneStarWoman_800 under the pseudonym, Sadie Callahan. I so want to re-write that book and re-release it as an Anna Jeffrey book. It’s Book #2 of The Strayhorns series and a sequel to LONE STAR WOMAN. I had originally planned to write Book #3 in this series and that story is still sort of floating around in my head. I might go ahead and work on it whether I get my copyright back or not.

So those are my plans for 2016. I think my day job is definitely going to have to take a backseat. Still, don’t bet any money that I’ll get all of this done.

How about your resolutions? Are they doable?

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COMING SOON!! …

RELEASE DATE FOR “DESIRED” IS AUGUST 4TH.

Pre-OrderSale3_Desired (2)(Sml)BUT IT’S STILL AVAILABLE FOR A LIMITED TIME AT AMAZON AS A PRE-ORDER FOR 99-CENTS!

Release date is only a week away, fellow readers. I’ll be blog-touring to celebrate it, so I hope you’ll surf by and leave comments. I’ll also be giving away prizes. In case you haven’t read the blurb, here it is:

“Miranda March wears her extraordinary beauty like a mask to conceal her emotional vulnerability. A successful small businesswoman, she might appear to be in control of her universe, but ever in the back of her mind is the one thing that can yank the rug out from under her at any moment: Her mother who suffers from mental illness.

Enter handsome, sensual—and rich—Harvey (Tack) Tackett, a friend of a friend, in town overnight on business. The instant they meet, Miranda feels a connection that stirs her to break one of the rules she lives by—no foolish flings with men passing in the night. After a night of passionate lovemaking like she’s never known, profound emotions emerge. She believes the feeling is mutual. But Tack leaves town without so much as a call and she hears no more from him. As she struggles to overcome her disappointment, she learns her mother has sunk into a depression that calls for immediate attention. Miranda has no choice but to move Mom in to live with her. Her life will never be the same.

From out of the blue, Tack reappears. But it’s too late. Miranda is committed to her duty to her mother. Trying to have a romantic relationship with Tack or any man would be as hard as mixing oil and water. She has already tried and failed at that. Can she solve the conundrum and find a happy-ever-after with Tack?”


What else have I been doing? Working and working. I still have my day job. And at the same time, I’m working fast and furiously on THE HORSEMEN, Book #3 of the Sons of Texas trilogy and the new Dixie Cash epic, YOU CAN HAVE MY HEART, BUT LEAVE MY DOG ALONE.

I’m about 100 pages in the Dixie Cash book. It’s another zany story of love and conflict. The object of conflict:  a golden mixed breed dog. Adding his colorful opinions along the way is a potty-mouthed parrot named Jake and the usual craziness from Edwina and Debbie Sue.

Here’s a thumbnail synopsis: The heroine, Sandi, who happens to be Edwina’s niece, owns and prepares homemade dog and cat food in her gourmet bakery for pets. DixieCash_YouCanHaveMyHeartShe’s also a foster parent to abandoned animals.  After being abandoned twice herself, she’s empathetic and has decided to devote her affections to animals rather than men. She has collected a menagerie that’s she’s trying to take care of in a small backyard and a small house in town.  She wonders if something is wrong with her because a parrot appears to be her best friend and confidante.

Then comes along the hero, Nick, a good-looking single ranch manager in Salt Lick, who has simply lost his dog. Sandi has unwittingly found it, fallen in love with it and and adopted it. And the fight is on. When Edwina discovers what is going on between her niece and Nick, she can’t resist applying her matchmaking skills. And Debbie Sue can’t resist helping her. Even Jake gets into the act. A wild ride ensues.


I’ve received the cover for THE HORSEMAN, though I haven’t finished the book yet. The cover, designed by AnnaJeffrey_TheHorseman_200px (2)Kim Killion, is beautiful, as usual. I’ve loved every cover she has designed. Here’s a preview:

In THE HORSEMAN, I’m attempting to tie up all the loose ends that have been flying around in the first two books of the trilogy, so you’ll have to read all 3 books to get the whole story of the Lockhart family. But mainly, THE HORSEMAN is about Troy, Bill Junior’s bastard son, finding romance.

All I need is about 36 hours in a day.

Let me know what you think of the cover. Do you think there needs to be less of her and more of him?


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YIKES! IT’S HERE AGAIN…

christmas04

Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday, fellow readers. Hope you had a hale and healthy year and are looking forward to another one.

What better time for good wishes than Christmas Eve? I cannot believe how fast this past year has gone. I’m hoping Santa put ointment and Band-Aids under the tree for all of the cuts and bruises the past year has visited on me.

Still, DH and I have been lucky. No major health issues. When you get down to basics, that is the most important part of our lives. From what I’ve seen of life in general, without good health, nothing else is much good either.

One major event for us this past year was an automobile upgrade. My 10-year-old car was badly battered after years of sitting in the parking lot where I work at my real job. DH’s old pickup had gone beyond reasonable repair. So we donated the pickup to charity and traded the car in on an SUV. Now we’re a one-car outfit. Silly me, I thought scaling back to one vehicle would save money on insurance. Wrong. The insurance premium on the new rig is higher than it was on both older vehicles. <Sigh>

AnnaJeffrey_TheCattleman800I released Book #2 of the “Sons of Texas” trilogy, THE CATTLEMAN. It’s now for sale at all of the online retailers as an e-book. If you would prefer a print copy, one is available from Amazon.

I did a blog tour to kick it off and raffled a new Kindle Fire for people who visited the various blogs. I was unfamiliar with any of the book blogs where I was a guest. I had no idea there were so many. I felt like I had been living under a rock!

The ever-changing publishing landscape is just that—ever-changing. Amazon sort of yanked the rug from under self-publishing authors with its new subscription service. It’s like Netflix for books. Good deal for readers, not quite as good for authors. I don’t know how many readers have joined, but authors are grumbling and some are starting to bail. Hopefully, it will sort itself out soon.

I put only one book into it, mostly as an experiment. Given the experience I’m having, I’m glad one book is all that’s there. AnnaJeffrey_CallisterBundle3D_200When its term expires, I’ll be taking it out. So if you’ve joined Kindle Unlimited, it’s part of their monthly package. Or if you are not a member of KU and want to read three of my Anna Jeffrey books for a discounted price, check out THE CALLISTER BOOKS. It’s a bundle that includes THE LOVE OF A COWBOY, THE LOVE OF A STRANGER and THE LOVE OF A LAWMAN….

The bundle is $6.99 at Amazon. That’s $2.33 per book. After its term in KU expires, I’ll be putting it for sale with other online retailers as well.

I have a steamy novella underway. MIRANDA’S MAN. AnnaJeffrey_MirandasMan_200 I hope to be releasing it within the next few months. Here’s the cover. Let me know what you think.

And I will soon be starting Book #3 of the “Sons of Texas” trilogy, THE HORSEMAN. No cover yet. This book will be about Troy and the woman who finally captures his heart, Chloe. I will also wind up the Lockhart family story. I have the last chapter in my head, but I haven’t come up with the first chapters yet. Oh, well. I suppose backward is good as long as you come out at the right place in the end.

Enjoy the holiday, everyone.

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Seems like it takes forever…

Today, I’m celebrating the  release of my newest book, THE CATTLEMAN. And I’m happy to report it has one 5-star review! Yay!

This book is #2 in the “Sons of Texas” series and a sequel to last year’s release, THE TYCOON. You don’t have to read THE TYCOON, but the story arc over three books is a family saga, so you might like to read it to get the total picture.  🙂 The third book in the series will be THE HORSEMAN, which will be Troy’s story. If I write really fast, I might get it done within the next 6 months.

So far, THE CATTLEMAN is available only at Amazon, but I’ll be loading it onto other sites this week.  I hope to have the print edition available by the end of the month. Following are the cover and the blurb. AnnaJeffrey_TheCattleman800

     Ever since a disastrous marriage and divorce at a young age, Pickett Lockhart has kept his emotions under control. He’s preoccupied anyway with learning to be the general manager of the vast Double-Barrel Ranch outside of Drinkwell, Texas. Still, his older brother’s marriage and looming fatherhood have aroused an envy within him to have a wife, kids and home of his own. But he can’t get married, even to a woman he loves who also loves him. His divorce cost him and his family a bundle, leaving him with an overwhelming fear of stepping into another financial trap.

     Amanda Breckenridge, winning swim team coach and English teacher in Drinkwell High School, has been in love with Pic for as long as she can remember. They were high school sweethearts. After he eloped with someone he met in college, Amanda left Drinkwell. Her father’s illness brought her back to town and a revived relationship with Pic. But Pic’s mother has never thought Amanda was good enough for him. She intends to destroy their relationship by sending a friend’s beautiful daughter to the ranch to tempt Pic. Can Amanda and Pic’s bond survive his mother’s meddling schemes? Or the unexpected career opportunity that falls into Amanda’s lap?

I don’t know about other authors, but the release of a new book is an anxious time for me. I’ve never felt so naked and vulnerable as I do when a book goes on the market for the first time. I can’t explain it. I just know that I won’t relax until after it’s out there and those who are going to praise it have had an opportunity to do so and those who are going to pan it have also had the opportunity.

Since my books are a little different from most typical romance novels, I’ve gotten a lot of criticism over the years. Probably a lot more than I would get if I followed the more conventional path.

In any event, it’s packaged and gone.

If you haven’t read my Anna Jeffrey books and like a love story with a little different twist, you might give it a try. And drop me a note and let me know what you think. Or post a review on Amazon or GoodReads. I can’t express enough how important reader reviews are.

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