Category Archives: Books and Reading

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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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GUEST AUTHOR – DILYS J. CARNIE

I’ve decided to present a guest author occasionally on my blog. All authors need attention,  especially on the release of a new book. So today, I’m hosting Dilys J. Carnie and her new book, THE LOST SISTERS TRILOGY. And she’s giving away a prize. Read all the way through to the bottom.

07.14.2017_author photo

Dilys J. Carnie

Book CoverHere’s the blurb. Sounds like a good read to me.

Undone by His Desire
Micah King arrives in North Carolina with one goal—to verify that Daisy Wallace is one of the women his security firm as been hired to locate. He wants to tell her the truth about why he’s there, but first he needs to make sure that she is indeed who he’s looking for. He never meant to get involved with her, but she’s just so tempting.
Will Daisy be able to forgive Micah’s lie by omission? After all, he’s deceived her from the first moment she laid eyes on him, and she’s had her fill of deceitful men. And can she forgive the woman who gave her up for adoption thirty years ago?


Rejecting His Desire
Rose Eagleton has never let anyone penetrate her tough exterior. She won’t allow herself to be hurt again, nor will she let anyone uncover the secrets of her past. When she meets Jack Calloway he refuses to let her hide behind her shell, but she knows one thing for sure—she can’t let him become important to her.
Jack is intrigued by the beautiful young woman who fights so hard to keep him at a distance. As he discovers the secrets she’s trying so desperately to hide, it becomes clear that her life is in danger. Can he break through her shell and provide her with the protection she needs but refuses to accept?


Seduced By His Desire
Kent Lloyd steps onto British soil wishing he was anywhere else. But when Jasmine Owen refuses to visit her newly found sisters, giving them one lame excuse after another, even Kent knows something is seriously wrong.
The last person Jasmine expects or wants to see at her door is the super sexy man who walked away from her bed after one wild night. But when her sisters suspect something is wrong, they send Kent to check on her. Jasmine hasn’t told her family about the stalker who’s making her life a living hell and has her in a constant state of fear, but it looks like she might not be able to keep the truth from them any longer.

Content Warning: contains adult language and explicit sex


And here’s an excerpt from UNDONE BY HIS DESIRE:

Micah watched the emotions cross Daisy’s gentle features. The shock was evident, the pain recognizable, and the realization she had family was priceless. She folded the piece of paper and put it back in the envelope. She looked up at him, the tears in her eyes tugging at his heartstrings.

“I have sisters,” she whispered.

“Yes, two. You are part of triplets.”

“I always wanted a sister, and now…now I have two. How insane is that?” She shook her head. “What is Poppy to you?”

“A friend. I’ve known her for a few years. She’s such a sweet lady, and she wants to make things right, she wants to try and bring you all together.”

“Have you found them?” Daisy asked.

He nodded. “Rose lives in Wilmington, and Jack has already made contact with her. Jasmine lives in Chester, UK. Kent landed in Manchester a few hours ago. I’m not sure yet if he’s made contact yet.”

“Jack and Kent are your business partners?”

“Yes, we were all in the Navy SEALS together.”

“I need a little bit of time on my own, Micah…I need to think.”

His gut clenched. “Do you want me to leave?”

“No, but I’m going to go walking for a little while.”

She turned and put her hand against his unshaven jaw, the heat of her skin making him turn his face into the warmth and close his eyes for a second.

“I don’t blame you, Micah.”

His eyes flashed open.

“You’re only trying to help a friend out, but this is so big. Can you understand how hard this is for me? I always knew I was adopted, but sisters…” She shook her head. “I’m thirty years old, all that time has passed and I never knew and that’s what I don’t know if I can forgive Poppy for.”

He covered her hand with his own and turned it over, kissing the palm. “Think about it, Daisy. I’m not going to push you into anything. It’s entirely your decision whether you want to meet Poppy and your sisters.”

She smiled at him, such a warm, caring smile. “You misunderstand me. I will definitely meet with my sisters, that’s unconditional.” She pulled her hand away. “It’s Poppy I’m not sure about.”

He turned as she made her way out of her sitting room.

“Daisy?”

She stopped in the doorway, her hands shoved into the pockets of her sweats, her head slightly leaning to one side.

“Promise me one thing.”

“What?”

“You’ll think about the circumstances surrounding why you were given up for adoption.”

She nodded.

“And…”

She raised her eyebrows.

“Last night.”

She blushed furiously, a lovely pink shade.

“Last night was beautiful and had nothing to do with why I’m here. I really do like you and would like for us to see where whatever we feel takes us.”

She shrugged. “There is no us.”

“Yes, there is. You just don’t want to admit it.”

She walked out the door without replying.

Damn it all to hell and back, he hoped he hadn’t blown it, not just for Poppy but for himself as well.


TourBanner_TheLostSistersTrilogy

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

I live on Anglesey which is a small island in North Wales.My life here is busy as I help with the family business (general dogsbody lol) and try and fulfill my writing contracts.

My office is under the stairs of our small welsh cottage and this is where I let my imagination run riot.

I love to write and be creative with my characters.

At the moment I am in awe of the people who have read my book, It is great to meet people who have taken the time to buy it and read it and I love meeting new fans.

http://www.dilysjcarnie.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6575559.Dilys_J_Carnie

http://www.facebook.com/dilysj.carnie.3

https://twitter.com/dilysjcarnie

http://pinterest.com/autumnleaves09/


Amazon link:

https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Sisters-Trilogy-Dilys-Carnie-ebook/dp/B01N9S3JE0


Barnes and Noble link:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-lost-sisters-trilogy-dilys-j-carnie/1125483417

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE:

Dilys J Carnie will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.  

<a class=”rcptr” href=”http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f2354/” rel=”nofollow” data-raflid=”28e4345f2354″ data-theme=”classic” data-template=”” id=”rcwidget_i9hw7gbi”>a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>

http://a%20href=

 

 

 

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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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Shades of Fifty Shades…

Okay, my sister and I went to the movie. I enjoyed it and wouldn’t mind watching it again. Unless a book is just totally butchered, I usually do enjoy movies that follow books I’ve read.

515kzV0-w+L._SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU01_AA160_As for a critique, most people don’t care what I say or think, but I’ll just touch on a few observations anyway. By all means, let me know what *you* think.

  1. The settings, the scenery and the cinematography were worth the price of admission.
  1. In the books, the writing itself was clunky, but I still enjoyed reading them because I thought E.L. James put forth good character studies. That was the essence of the books. I think the movie missed the mark when trying to show the self-loathing that was part of Christian’s makeup. I caught only a few snippits of dialogue that projected that. Maybe other viewers saw it more clearly than I did. In any event, it’s important to the story. Still, I’d say the movie portrayed decent character studies.
  1. The movie was not as dark as the books, but there really isn’t time in the movie to get into the BDSM part of it in depth. Leave that part out and it’s kind of a simple romance between a screwed-up rich guy and a naive girl who obvious-from-the-beginning has more strength of character than the guy.
  1. Jamie Dornan. Good-looking guy who is good at portraying intense facial expressions. Didn’t come close to the physical description of Christian in the books. He didn’t quite succeed in making me feel for him and root for him to confront his demons and become a different man. I don’t think that was due to his acting ability. I think it was more a flaw in the screenplay. The screenwriter should have given him more to work with. Or something. I read somewhere that they’re looking for a different screenwriter for the sequel. I’d love to wave my hand and say, “Pick me, pick me.”
  1. Dakota Johnson. Excellent performance all around. She WAS Anastasia Steele. Can’t get over how much she looks like her father, even down to her facial expressions.
  1. Enjoyable part of the book missing from the movie is the lengthy and clever back-and-forth between Ana and Christian via email. Of course they couldn’t put all of that in the movie or it would be 10 hours long.
  1. Nudity. More than I’ve ever seen in a regular “R” movie. I’m honestly not sure how much it contributed other than sensationalism. Showed off Dakota Johnson’s body nicely.
  1. Sex scenes. Those of you who have read my books know I’m not a prude when it comes to sex scenes, but I think they could have been done better. They were kind of dull, really. More sensational than sensual. I read somewhere that the people who are truly into BDSM think they’re laughable.

So that’s it. Now it’s out there. And after the financial success of the opening, the movie-makers are clamoring to get Book #2 out there. In one article, I read a date of March, 2016, for “Fifty Shades Darker.”

What did *you* think?

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EEK!…WE’RE NOT ALONE!….

In fact, we’re being monitored from the most unexpected corners. But then, with all the stuff that’s been in the news lately about being spied on by the government, maybe we aren’t even surprised.

This morning, I was surfing around on one of my book pages on Amazon. I scrolled down and saw a section called “Highlights,” which is sentences or phrases from my book that have been highlighted in Kindles by readers. It might have been there for a while without my noticing it because I don’t always scroll down the page.

How many of you use the “highlight” feature on your Kindle? Apparently, quite a lot of you because Amazon says there has to be a number of highlights to generate the feature. Amazon apparently tracks “highlights” and the data they glean is what appears on the book page as “Highlights.”

At first blush, I like this feature. It’s flattering to me as an author. I assume Kindle readers highlight a word or words or phrases and sentences because they find them worth remembering for some reason. So it makes me feel good that readers feel that way about my writing.

On the other hand, it really is a sort of an intrusion. If you happen to be a reader who highlights material in the books you read on your Kindle, you now know that activity is being tracked by Amazon. On a deep level, do I want what I and you are highlighting in Kindle to be tracked by them? I don’t know about you, but I don’t. I don’t know what else they might do with that information.

We’ve known for some time that the books we pay for and download from Amazon don’t really belong to us. Amazon has access to the content on our Kindles, thus has the capability of yanking any one or all of the books we consider to be ours. Not that they do that or ever have done that (as far as I know), but the point is they have the technology to do it if they choose to. I don’t know if Nook also can do it.

Here’s my point. I’ve read “Brave New World” and “1984” and two or three other dystopian tales and I thought they were scary. The thing that makes them scary nowadays is the fact that much of the literature that we used to call “science fiction” and “futuristic” is now reality. Our privacy, which is always an issue in dystopian stories and one of the key elements that enables some villain to exploit the population, is disappearing fast.

Smartphones are a perfect example. Most people who own a smartphone have no clue all that it can and will do and wouldn’t know how to make it do those things anyway. But coming up on smartphones and already here in some brands is the phone’s ability to cease to function if it can’t identify your face or your eyes or your fingerprint. It’s a security feature and will keep a phone thief from being able to use the phone if he steals it, but what else can a feature like that be used for?

Every time I turn around, I’m discovering some new aspect of my life that somebody is watching and I don’t think I like that. It makes me wonder if I really need to get rid of my smartphone.

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The Most Important Element, Part II

Hi, Fellow Readers:

Today, my guest is Texas author Kathy Ivan and her story of how she came to writing. As you’ll see,  she’s an avid reader, as are most writers. I don’t know a single successful author is isn’t also a dedicated reader. Kathy’s story is testimony that it must be in the genes.

So check out the short synopses of her books. And take a good look at her delicious covers designed by the awesome Kim Killion. Don’t they speak to you? Don’t you just know that a great read resides behind these covers?

Anna kindly asked me to participate in her blog and tell you a bit about myself, my writing, and the lovely covers the amazing Kim Killion has created for two of my books.Headshots_001 

I’ve always loved reading.  I was one of those kids in school who would finish the entire year’s reading list in the first five or six weeks.  Getting lost in books, those wonderful stories, was the best part of my school day.  Plus I was gifted with an absolutely amazing mother who instilled in me a love of reading from a very early age.  She was a voracious reader herself, especially of romances.  Most of my fondest memories are of my mom with her nose buried in a romance book.  Genre did matter to her as long as there was a happy ending.

So, I’ve always been a big reader.  I dabbled with writing some in high school, took creative writing classes and did very well in them, but put all that aside when I graduated and moved on to the 9 to 5, Monday through Friday world of sit-your-backside-in-the-chair-and-work life.  It wasn’t until early 2005 when I was invited to a book signing by a co-worker (the lovely and talented Jane Graves) that the writing bug struck again.  Shortly after that book signing I joined DARA (Dallas Area Romance Authors and RWA.  And I’ve been writing ever since.  J

My first published book was Desperate Choices, a romantic suspense that won the International Digital Award for Long Suspense.

 

Following are blurbs about my newest books.

Second_Changes_800SECOND CHANCES:  Can Dreams and Destiny . . . Lead to a Second Chance?

Welcome to Destiny’s Desire Lodge, where The Fates can manipulate the threads of life at their whim and the Fate-Keeper battles to unite the predestined souls of true love. 

Wracked with guilt, Denver firefighter Ryan Jackson is haunted by dreams of his dead brother, asking for something . . . impossible. 

Unwilling to let the love of her life slip away, Rose Jackson will do anything to discover why her husband has become distant and withdrawn — no matter the cost.

Will an early gift, an unexpected trip, and Rose and Ryan’s love add a spark of magic to destined souls wanting a second chance?

Buy:  http://amzn.to/GIx1uB Losing_Cassie_800

LOSING CASSIE: 

Welcome to Destiny’s Desire Lodge, where The Fates can manipulate the threads of life at their whim and the Fate-Keeper battles to unite the predestined souls of true love. 

Firefighter Jake Stone lost the love of his life when his high school sweetheart disappeared. The arrival of a mysterious letter promising answers draws Jake to Destiny’s Desire. Cassie Daniels has been running for seven long years. At Destiny’s Desire she might finally have a chance for a happy future, if she can face the evil from her past. When Fate and Destiny Collide . . . Can Love Survive?

Buy:  http://amzn.to/19kbELh

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE:  http://amzn.to/1ateyzt

 

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The Most Important Element…

As some of you know, I sometimes invite other authors. So today, my guest is Caroline Clemmons, author of western romance and adventure set in Texas.

I’m also featuring my cover designer, Kim Killion. Most marketing gurus tell independent authors that the most important element to selling a book is a good cover. If you can’t create one yourself, it’s worth the money to hire someone who can.

Taking that advice to heart, I was lucky enough to stumble across Kim. The day I found her was one of happiest in my independent publishing life. Not only is she a great graphic designer, even though I’m pretty sure she hasn’t had time to read my books, I feel we’re on the same page. To show my appreciation for her and her talent, for the next few weeks, I’ll be featuring some of my author friends who have also had Kim design their covers.

Below, read how Caroline Clemmons came to be an author and take a look at some of the beautiful covers Kim has designed for her.Caroline Clemmons - Dreamin in Dallas - 4-1-11

As long as I can remember, I’ve loved the written word. My dad, who had taught me to read, told me a good storyteller could create a story about anything. As examples, he mentioned a grain of sand. Where had it been, how did it get where it is today? Or, he added, a fly on the wall—what has the fly seen and heard? He encouraged me to read and to write.

CarolineClemmonsFront_TheMostUnsuitableCourtship_POD_1000pxThose early lessons stuck with me. I loved English classes and then took journalism to express myself. I won awards as editor of our school paper, and those encouraged me to stick with that type writing for many years. I even worked for a small newspaper as a reporter and featured columnist. The urge to create my own stories was relieved by composing long, long, anecdote-filled letters to my family.

What started me writing fiction? Oddly, it was my mother in law. On one trip to visit us, she brought a grocery bag filled with old Harlequin and Silhouette novels. She insisted that if I could write letters like mine, I could write romance novels. Secretly, I’d had an idea in my head for some time, but hadn’t the confidence to write it into novel form. My husband encouraged me and I launched into the story. I had never been to a writers group or taken formal creative writing classes. Do I need to tell you the story was awful? Not the basic idea, which I used later, but the higgledy piggledy execution.

Finally, I heard about and joined Romance Writers of America (RWA). Attending a local chapter, I heard excellent workshops. I learned about point of view, characterization, plotting, and the myriad of other tools for creating a story. What a shock to my muse.front cover MUH

I temporarily put aside my original book. Another contemporary novel idea hit me as my family was driving home from visiting our parents in West Texas. By this time, I’d also taken classes in creative writing. I sold the second novel in 1998. Hooray, I was a published author.

My dad had shared tales of his family coming to Texas from Georgia in 1876 and some of the family adventures in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Probably that’s why I enjoyed history, especially Texas history, so much. My brain finally got the message. Why not write historical novels set in late 1800’s Texas? Historical novels require immense research, of course, but remember I love history. Reading about the Old West was pleasure. I consumed it like chocolate, and I adore chocolate.

One thing I’ve realized, I’ll never run out of ideas. What a relief! In the future, I’ll be writing contemporary, paranormal, and historical novels. And now I’m stepping into audio books, always stretching to keep up with the times. But no matter what authors write, a good cover is one key to success. This is why I’ve switched from my Hero husband and me designing my covers to Kim Killion.

FrontcoverTheMostUnsuitableWife_POD_1000pxWhether an author is published with a “big six” New York publisher or self published, the author must be active in social media. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, WattPad, and LinkedIn. I have a website, I blog three times a week, and I’m on three team blogs: Smart Girls Read Romance, Sweethearts of the West, and Cowboy Kisses.  Yes, I’m everywhere.

Picture me banging my head against my desk. Yes, that’s how most authors feel about promotion. I genuinely love and am grateful to my readers. Although authors love meeting readers and love them for buying our books, we resent the time social media requires for promoting our work. We just want to write! Who knew we’d need an MBA in marketing to do so?

So now, thanks to getting acquainted with Caroline’s great covers, you’ll recognize her books instantly. And you’ll know the name of the cover artist as well as hers. And that’s a good thing. If you like tales of Texas with a dash of authentic history, you’ll love Caroline’s books.

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9-9-9 … Curious Yet? …

9-9-9 stands for the upcoming release of a new boxed set, “Nine Ways to Fall in Love.” 9 romance novels by 9 different authors, all for–are you ready?–99-CENTS at AMAZON.

Okay, I’m corny. But here’s the picture and a link”  Nine Ways to Fall in Love

9 Ways to Fall

Plus daily giveaways for the whole month of September and a grand prize of a Kindle Fire. To win, go to our Facebook Party

My contribution is SWEET RETURN. I don’t know how many of you have read it, but if you haven’t and want to, here’s an opportunity to get it at a bargain price, plut 8 more books.

Following are the names of the contributing authors and blurbs about their respective books:

Caroline Clemmons, THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE. Cenora Rose O’Neill knows her father arranged the marriage trap for Dallas McClintock but she’d do anything to protect her family. Wounded rescuing Cenora from kidnappers, rancher Dallas learns his wife has a silly superstition for everything. But passion-filled nights with her make up for her annoying habits and family.
Carra Copelin, CODE OF HONOR. Graeme McAlister returned home to discover why his foster brother supposedly overdosed on morphine and crashed a company jet. When Graeme McAlister comes back to McTiernan, TX and stirs up widow Maggie Benning’s old memories and feelings, can she overcome past pain to accept the a new love in her life?
Geri Foster, OUT OF THE SHADOWS. Falcon Securities Agent Brody Hawke sees the world from a tilted angle. A.J., who saved Brody’s life, is captured and diplomats are getting nowhere in his rescue. Brody takes over even though he knows his impetuous actions will ruin his career. CIA agent Kate Stone’s life is torn apart when Brody kidnaps her. When she and Brody reach A.J., they learn the situation is more serious and far-reaching than they’d imagined. Brody, Kate and Falcon Securities must rescue A.J. and stop the assassination of the President of the USA. Will Brody and Kate discover love along the way?
Kathy Ivan, LOSING CASSIE. Welcome to Destiny’s Desire Lodge, where The Fates manipulate and the Fate-Keeper battles to unite predestined souls. The arrival of a mysterious letter draws Jake Stone to Destiny’s Desire. Cassie Daniels has been running for seven long years. To find happiness she must face past evil. When Fate and Destiny collide . . . can Love survive?
Paty Jager, SECRETS OF A MAYAN MOON. Doctor of Anthropology, Isabella Mumphrey, is about to lose her university job. Her mentor’s request for her assistance on a Guatemalan dig is the opportunity she’s been seeking. DEA agent Tino Kosta, is deep undercover as a tracker and jungle guide. Isabella’s appearance heats his Latin blood, taking him on a dangerous detour that could leave them both casualties of the jungle.
Anna Jeffrey, SWEET RETURN. When Dalton Parker is summoned home to handle a family crisis, the last thing he expects is a prime pasture of his family’s ranch taken over by stinking chickens. The explanation is Joanna Walsh, his mother’s best friend. He can’t keep from admiring Joanna’s caring nature and common sense, not to mention her great body. The dumbest thing he could do is try to lure her into his bed, but he’s never been smart when it comes to women.
DeLaine Roberts, TWO SIDES OF A HEARTBEAT. After a beautiful proposal, Dr. Grayson Brooks pleads with his fiance, Alexandra Morrison, not to get on the plane. Once the plane is in the air, events turn their lives upside down. Secrets and the past once again haunt both families. Alexandra is so close to having it all: a baby, a gorgeous husband, and a family united. But is she strong enough to fight for what she wants?
Jacquie Rogers, SLEIGHT OF HEART. Starched-up Lexie Campbell, more comfortable with neat and tidy numbers than messy emotions, must find the man who ruined her little sister and make him marry her. When his lookalike brother Burke appears, she greets him with a gun and forces him to help her. Smooth-dealing Burke O’Shaughnessy, riverboat gambler and prestidigitator, must find his brother Patrick to claim the family fortune. But when Lexie shows an astounding talent for counting cards and calculating odds, he figures she might be useful after all. Can he resist the queen of hearts?  
Beth Trissel, SOMEWHERE MY LOVE. Two hundred years ago Captain Cole Wentworth was murdered in his chamber where his portrait still hangs. Presently the estate is a family owned museum run by Will Wentworth. As spirit-sensitive tour guide Julia Morrow begins to remember the events of Cole’s death, she must convince Will that history is repeating, and he has the starring role in the tragedy. The blade is about to fall.
So don’t be shy. Check it out

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A Ghost of a Story in Audio…

Debbie Sue Overstreet and Edwina Perkins-Martin are back. In audio. My sister and I are self-publishing the Dixie Cash extravaganza, OUR RED HOT ROMANCE IS MAKING ME BLUE, as an audio book. It will soon be available at www.audible.com. You will be able to listen via your phone, your MP3 player or on your computer. The narrator is an actress from New York and she does a great job. Really nails Edwina’s voice and personality. The print version is still for sale at Amazon and other online book sellers.

 

AnnaJeffrey_OurRedHotRomance_Audio3

 

The typical Debbie Sue and Edwina bedlam ratchets up when they get hired to be ghost-busters. A young widower believes his deceased wife is haunting him. He hires the Domestic Equalizers to surveille his home.  Fearing they can’t handle the job, Debbie Sue and Edwina call on a beautiful young psychic from out of town.

I don’t know how many of you enjoy audio books, but I love them. I spend a lot of time in my car, which I consider to be wasted time for the most part, so I listen to audio books while I’m driving a boring road.

I often listen to a book I’ve already read and gain a new and different perspective on the same book. There’s just something about hearing the words as opposed to seeing them, especially the dialogue.

The narrator can make or break a book. I recently read a very popular book and enjoyed it. However, I had an ambivalent opinion of the heroine. I then followed that by listening to it in audio and ended up disliking the heroine immensely. The tone of the narrator’s voice, her interpretation of the dialog just totally put me off. Her voice and her interpretation did not detract from the hero, however. Just the heroine. And I cannot explain why that is.

So, if you do listen to an audio book, if you’re lucky enough to get a great narrator, the listening experience can enhance your enjoyment of the book. Try it.

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