“Lone Star Woman,” for Sale at Last…

LONE STAR WOMAN is now for sale online at Amazon. I’ll soon have it uploaded to Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Smashwords. I’ve posted the cover in several places because I think it’s beautiful. Kim Killion, the graphic designer who has designed all my covers since I’ve been self-publishing, did it. She’s just an awesome designer.

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I’ve made a few revisions and tried to strengthen the ending. Here’s a blurb:

“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 education 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?”

This book was originally published under the pseudonym, Sadie Callahan. I never did like changing names, but my editor thought it was a good idea to boost sales. I also wrote “Man of the West” as the 2nd book in this series. It’s still in print as a Sadie Callahan book and a lot of readers hate the ending. Hopefully, at some point, I’ll get the rights back and be able to make some revisions I want to make to it, too. ….. The proposal for Book #3 is still sitting in my computer. One of these days, I’ll get around to writing that book.

The setting for LONE STAR WOMAN is a sprawling fictitious ranch, the Circle C, located in a fictitious county in the Texas Panhandle. Though the town and county aren’t real, I sort of loosely drew on information from the historical old ranches located in West Texas. There were a dozen or so, founded back in the days when beef was first discovered by Easterners and in high demand.

The ranching industry became an integral part of civilizing the West. It created its own culture that exists to this day. The boom might have lasted only about 10 years, but it left a lasting legacy.

If you haven’t read LONE STAR WOMAN, hope you enjoy it.

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TIME TO CATCH MY BREATH…

March was a busy month, fellow bloggers. Despite my vow to be more conscious of posting regularly on this blog, I fell by the wayside. I started the month with cataract surgery on my left eye, which I wrote about. That kept me preoccupied for a week. I had the surgery on the right eye on the 25th, which kept me preoccupied for another week. The results were great. I now have 20-25 vision and I can actually see what I’m doing. I didn’t realize how blind I had gotten.

I attended the Dallas Area Romance Authors’ conference. And to prove it, here’s my picture. I really do not photograph well.  …..  First writers’ conference I’ve been to in several years. I had a great time. I love being with other authors. There’s always so much to talk about. In my everyday life, I know no one I can chat with about writing and about what’s going on in the publishing industry. DARA(2)_2013

 

I did some giveaways of THE TYCOON on GoodReads. I was surprised by how many signed up for a free copy. It’s gotten 5-star reviews on GoodReads, Amazon and AnnaJeffrey_TheTycoon_200pxBarnes & Noble all three. Those reviews on Amazon are so important to a book’s rank on that website. A high rank on Amazon translates into sales. Now that Amazon has bought GoodReads, perhaps the GoodReads reviews will show up on Amazon’s pages. I can hope.  …  If you’ve read it and if you enjoyed it, and if you have the time and inclination, I would so appreciate your posting a review on Amazon. Or on Barnes & Noble or GoodReads. If you don’t want to write something, just “Like” it or rate it.

 

I made progress on THE CATTLEMAN, which is Book #2 of the Sons of Texas trilogy. THE CATTLEMAN is Pic’s story. It’s a love triangle and it’s coming together. It’s always a good feeling when a story starts to gel in my mind.

AnnaJeffrey_SalvationTexas_800The awesome Kim Killion designed a new cover for SALVATION, TEXAS. As soon as I do some editing in it, I’ll be re-submitting it with the new cover. Meanwhile, I’m letting you look at it here. I think it’s sexy, but let me know what *you* think.  …..  She also designed a new cover for LONE STAR WOMAN, which I’ll soon be re-releasing as an Anna Jeffrey book. It was originally printed by NAL under my Sadie Callahan pen name. Let me know what you think of its cover, too. Same cute guy on both covers. Cool, huh?AnnaJeffrey_LoneStarWoman_800

 

Well, I’ve done it, fellow readers. I’ve read “Fifty Shades of Grey.” But I haven’t decided if I’m going to comment on it. I’m reluctant to post reviews of romance novels. I’ll let you know later. However, if you’ve read it and want to comment here, please feel free to do so.

Meanwhile, check out the 5-star reviews of THE TYCOON!

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THE BETTER TO SEE YOU WITH…

English: Eye with a contact lens (myopia).

Sight and hearing might be the senses we take most for granted. That is certainly true of me. So some months ago, when I wasn’t seeing as well as I thought I should be, I thought it was my contact lenses. I thought the prescription needed renewing. I toughed it out for as long as I could stand it because I just hate to take the time to go sit in a doctor’s office, go through the exam, wait for the prescription, yada, yada, yada…..

Imagine my surprise when he said, “I don’t think I can do much for your left eye. You have a bad cataract.” And all the while, I thought my left eye was my “good” eye. Before I even had time to absorb that and all of its implications, I had appointments with a cataract doctor to have surgery!

So I went under the knife, or the laser, or whatever it is, on the left eye on Monday. I think it went as it was supposed to. Already, I’m seeing much better out of that eye. Light is brighter, colors are clearer and my distance vision is great. I might not have to wear glasses by the time all of this is finished.

And I didn’t even know I had that kind of problem.

The surgery on my right eye is scheduled for about three weeks from now.

The moral of this story is if your vision is not quite what it should be, get your eyes checked! Don’t fool around.

The Dreamin’ In Dallas writers’ conference it coming up the last weekend of March. There will be book sales and a signing on Friday night, starting at 7:00 p.m. Then a full day of workshops and networking the next day. So if you’re in the Dallas area, come on out and see us. It’s at the Double Tree Hotel in Richardson. The last I heard, about 60 authors will be there signing books. I’ll be signing THE TYCOON and SWEET RETURN.

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Doing another book giveaway of THE TYCOON. The coming week, it’s on GoodReads. It should show up in a couple of days. So if you’re a member of GoodReads, perhaps they will draw your name. If you aren’t a member, by all mans, JOIN! It’s a wonderful social site for readers.

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FREE BOOK!

Hi, everyone,

I’m giving away 3 copies of THE TYCOON at The Good, The Bad and The Unread. http://goodbadandunread.com/ in either e-book or print format. Stop by and leave a comment to be entered in the drawing.

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In case you’ve forgotten (as if I haven’t inundated everyone with this information), here’s a short blurb:

When wealthy Texas ranching scion and business tycoon, DRAKE LOCKHART, encounters stunning SHANNON PIPER at a fancy ball, the last thing he expects is a tryst he can’t forget with a woman who disappears in the middle of the night. Once he finds her, he recognizes his bachelor days are over, but she isn’t ready. She doesn’t trust him. She wants to restrict their relationship to “just sex.” Surmounting the barriers she erects isn’t easy, especially when without his knowledge, an associate in his powerful company yanks a coveted real estate buy out from under her. How will he ever restore her faith in him?

 

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WHEN “WHY” IS THE BIGGEST WORD IN MY VOCABULARY…

Kyle

As most of the country has probably heard by now, ex-Navy SEAL and American hero Chris Kyle and a friend, Chad Littlefield,  were murdered by an ex-marine at a gun range here in Texas.

He also wrote a bestselling book, “American Sniper,” about his war experiences. If anyone wants to read of a sincere love of country, I urge you to read his book.

I did not know him, yet I felt like I became close to him through reading his autobiography. It’s weird how his book touched me. I can’t describe it. And my husband 9780062238863_p0_v1_s260x420feels the same. I guess it’s that six degrees of separation thing. At one time before he joined the Navy, he worked on a ranch in the county where I live and I know a couple of people who went to high school with him.

Besides being a war hero, he was a good and caring man with the courage of his convictions. Apparently many people loved him and looked up to him. He was the very definition of leadership.

He was in the Navy ten years. Did four tours in Iraq. He was in the midst of the worst of it–Falluja and Ramadi and saved thousands of American lives. He was wounded twice. Known as the “Devil of Ramadi,” he had a price on his head. After surviving all of that, he left the Navy because he had been away from his wife and two small kids so much.

Now, after being home only a few years, he’s been murdered. He deserved better. He deserved to spend time with his family who loved him. His wife and kids deserved his company and influence on their lives. All of us need and feel the loss of a seldom-seen hero of his caliber.

CHRIS KYLE, American Hero

CHRIS KYLE, American Hero

I’ve seen stunning irony a few times in my life. It’s something that always leaves me reeling. His death is such a supreme example of it. I’ll be weeks getting my head around it. I cannot even describe the hurt I feel. My heart is broken I mourn him as if he were one of my own. And I mourn his friend.

For anyone who’s interested, he will be memorialized at Dallas Cowboy Stadium on Monday, February 11th. There are numerous websites and groups collecting for his family and for the family of his friend, Chad Littlefield.

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Reading and Heroes

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BULLETIN:  THE TYCOON is now for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. It will soon be for sale on Smashwords. The price is $4.99. It will soon be for sale also as a POD through Amazon for $12.99.

Here are the links:

AMAZON – http://www.amazon.com/Tycoon-Sons-Texas-Book-ebook/dp/B00AQS1GWC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1359084286&sr=1-1&keywords=anna+jeffrey  

BARNES & NOBLE –  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-tycoon-jeffery-mcclanahan/1114134738?ean=2940015956870&itm=6&usri=anna+jeffrey 

KOBO – http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/The-Tycoon/book-0RXXcbYIu0yogY3qWjl1gQ/page1.html?s=ypmu_kkZD0ucGBMlHO8Ipg&r=3

Today, I surfed over to a blog where someone I know was a guest and they were talking about favorite heroes and heroines from books they’ve read. And that caused me to think about that.

Many weighed in and named their faves.

Most of the posters consistently named Roark from Nora’s “In Death” books, a character that hasn’t excited me at all. I’ve tried to analyze what it is about that character that so many love, but it eludes me.

Several others names Jamie from Diana Galbaldon’s series. He didn’t do much for me either.

A few of the posters named Scarlett and Rhett. I did like those two as Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable portrayed them in the movie.

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Beautiful picture, huh?

This just goes to show you how subjective reading is. So I compiled my own list. You might notice that all of my faves are alpha males.

First, I came up with Tom Booker from “The Horse Whisperer.” Great book by a great writerly writer. I didn’t especially like Annie, but I fell in love with Tom Booker.

Then, there are Penelope Williamson’s epic books. “The Heart of the West,” with its angsty lifelong relationship between Clementine Kennicutt and Zach McQueen who was loveable in his own rough way. Also, “The Outsider” and the challenging love story between the righteous Rachel Yoder and the outsider and dark anti-hero, Cain. Who can resist an anti-hero who is basically good?

My next thought was of Kara Whittenbrook and Ben Thocco in Deborah Smith’s wonderful book, “A Gentle Rain.” Ben was so honest, so caring and so much his own man, you couldn’t help but love him. And Kara did.

A hero from a book I read more recently is Jack Travis from “Smooth Talking Stranger” by Lisa Kleypas. Her heroes are always alpha and heroic, but IMHO, she hit a homerun with Jack because she added a bit of a sense of humor to an already charming man.

What I realized from this exercise is that over the years, I’ve read a large number of books, some of them more than once or even twice, but the number of heroes and heroines I could remember was small. What does that say about writers writing and me as a reader reading?

Crafting a memorable hero is harder than it might seem. My stories emanate from the characters I create. In other words, the plot doesn’t dictate the characters that populate the story. Rather, the characters drive the plot. Thus, I devote a lot of thought to how I want a hero to be perceived by readers before I ever put a word on a page.

In many ways, the characterization is organic in that I believe it comes from something deep inside. A philosophy, more or less. A fantasy of how a hero should be and how a heroine should respond to him. And from that I make a story.

Anthropologically speaking, since the beginning of history, women have instinctively been attracted to alpha males who can provide for them and physically protect the nest. These days, the attraction has a more intellectual bent in that the method of providing and protecting is not brawn, but brains and perhaps wealth. Hence, a whole new type of attractive male has emerged.

So do women now go for the nerdy type over the alpha type and is that what they want to see in the romance novels they read?

How about you? I know all of you are readers and I’ll bet you all have favorite heroes. Are they your faves because they’re alphas or because of something else? Open up, readers. Confess who your fictional heroes are.

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SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION…

Happy Holidays, everyone. As for me, I’m just glad it’s almost over. When you work in retail, the Christmas season calls for a huge amount of work and the patience of Job. And it’s hard to find fun in all of the chaos.

North Texas actually had snow on Christmas Day this year. In my entire life, except in the Panhandle, I don’t think I’ve ever known of it snowing on Christmas in this part of the world.

A lot of other things were going on besides work at my real job. First and foremost, (And I don’t want to forget a trumpet blare here), I finally got THE TYCOON uploaded into the Kindle Store on Amazon. But it didn’t happen until Christmas week. And here’s the cover one more time.

AnnaJeffrey_TheTycoon_200px

 

I ran into a few snags, like a copyeditor who dropped the ball. Consequently, I ended up hurrying through it and formatting it myself. The result of that was a whole lot of errors in the formatting. I hate that, but I had to upload it. I had copyrighted in in 2012 and I wanted it to be a 2012 release. Now I’m in the process of going back and correcting the errors. I can’t move on get into Book #2 because I can’t seem to get free of Book #1.

My intention was to get it uploaded the first week of December, then follow up with the promotion of SWEET WATER free in the Kindle Store, thus expose it to more traffic. Not getting the copyedit back threw my schedule all off and nothing came off as I had planned.

One of the things I’m learning in self-publishing is that there are a lot of unqualified, unreliable folks out there. I knew that about other endeavors in which I’ve been involved through the years, but I was hoping for better from the writing world.

I put a price of $4.99 on THE TYCOON because it’s a long book and a lot of blood, sweat and tears went into it. It’s my usual character-driven soap opera. As I think I’ve said before, it’s Book #1 of a trilogy called SONS OF TEXAS. The books will be romance novels, but overarching the trilogy and threading through it is the story of a wealthy, dysfunctional Texas family. The true ending will not come until the end of the 3rd book.

Besides that, I got SWEET RETURN uploaded into the Amazon Kindle Store. Kim Killion designed an awesome cover. It might be my most favorite cover. Let me know what *you* think.

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The female model on the cover wrote me a Facebook message and told me how happy she was to be on the cover. I thought that was cool. Actually, it’s kind of surreal how much these two models look like I imagined Dalton Parker and Joanna Walsh, the hero and heroine in that book.

SWEET RETURN is a reprint of my 2008 book. It won the Aspen Gold contest held by an RWA chapter in Denver and placed in several other contests. It will also be available as a print book from Amazon. It was a fun book to write and I hope it’s a fun book to read.

So that’s what’s been keeping me busy writing-wise and publishing-wise.

Prior to that, my daughter came and stayed ten days with me. We beaded and cooked and shopped and did all of the things we usually do. Had a great time. I enjoy her company so much and miss her a lot. One of these days, I’m going to have to move to Oregon to be near her. She hates Texas and only comes here because I’m here.

I didn’t do a lot of holiday cooking this year, but I did make biscotti to take to work. Turned out to be delicious. I had never made it before, but it’s fairly easy and almost foolproof. And tomorrow, I go back to my real job, which ends the holiday for me.

One of my resolution for the coming year is to try to be more attentive to this blog. For me, its purpose it to promote my books, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about other things. A lot is going on in the world and most of it bears discussing. So please hang in there with me.

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Sometimes There’s Pain…

In Reading as well as Writing.

Some of you, if you’re still following this blog after I’ve neglected it for weeks, might have started to wonder what has happened to me.  I have been meeting myself coming and going, as usual. I had to prioritize and the blog moved down the list. Hopefully, now that I’ve cut back to 3 days a week at my real job, I’ll have more time to spend on things like the blog and the newsletter

Despite what else I might be doing, I’m always reading. It puts me to sleep at night if nothing else. I’ve started but not finished several books lately, which has become a pattern. In the past, I always finished a book I started no matter what. I don’t do that anymore. There are so many books I really want to read and I just don’t have the time to invest in reading a book that doesn’t excite me.

So I bought one a few days back in the Top 100 from the Kindle store for 99-cents. It started slow, but I recognized good writing and looked past the slow beginning. Amazon calls the book a romance, but in my mind, it’s more like “women’s fiction” and sometimes those book just do start slow.

I’m now about a quarter into it and I’m about to weep from boredom. I skipped ahead to the last couple of chapters and the Epilogue to see if the ending warranted my continuing to slog through the middle. In terms of being interesting, the ending chapters were worse than the opening. The sad thing is the writing is really good. There have been a few times when the quality of the writing trumped a slow story, but I’m starting to think this isn’t one of them.

I’m uneasy describing any author’s writing as “boring.” I’m plenty familiar with he butt-in-the-chair-time time to the neglect of all else. I know the blood, sweat and tears that go into writing a 400-page novel, even an unexciting one. And I’m no champion of great beginnings or endings myself. I try not to be hypercritical, but it is what it is, as they say.

So how about you? How many pages does it take for you to be invested enough in a book to continue reading it no matter what? Will a book with a slow beginning become a wall-banger for you? Will a book with a fast-paced beginning that turns out to have a sagging middle make you quit it? Will a bad ending make you hate the whole book?

Just curious because I have written various books with every one of those problems.  😦

On a side note, I thought I would never get it done, but THE LOVE OF A LAWMAN is now available in the Kindle store on Amazon for $2.99 and will be available at Barnes & Noble‘s Nook store at any time for the same price. This is the third and final book set in Callister, Idaho.

If you’re so inclined, I would appreciate your clicking the “Like” button at Amazon and adding some tags. Those two things affect the book’s Amazon ranking. And ranking affects sales.  🙂     Some suggested tags are at the bottom of this post. Here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/Love-Lawman-Callister-Books-ebook/dp/B00A1AS466/ref=sr_1_6?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1352392553&sr=1-6&keywords=anna+jeffrey

AND HERE’S THE BLURB: Teenager Isabelle Rondeau ran away from her hometown of Callister, Idaho, with the town bad boy. Now, years later, he’s left her for another woman and she’s returned to Callister to rebuild her own life and connect with family for the sake of her ten-year-old daughter. In her travels away from Callister, she has become a cutting horse trainer of some renown. As the owner of two prize-winning mares and a highbred stallion, she intends to make a living in Callister breeding and training cutting horses. She’s through with men. That is, until she runs into the local sheriff, a man she knew in high school and hasn’t seen in eighteen years.

Divorced and broke, John Thomas Bradshaw, Jr., ex-ProRodeo star, has come back to Callister to lick his wounds and contemplate his future. Somehow, he’s let himself be persuaded to act as the temporary sheriff of Callister County until an election can be held. The last person he expects to run into is his old high school crush. She still has that unruly fiery hair and those mysterious brown eyes that mesmerized him as a teenager. All of the old desires return. He doesn’t want to love again, but can he keep from it when he and “Frizzy Izzy” was his first love and they have so much in common? When a local is murdered on his watch and Izzy has a connection, he’s forced to call on all of his courage and honor.

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TIDBITS OF NEW OLD NEWS . . .

I’ve hired someone to format THE LOVE OF A LAWMAN for the digital bookstores, so I won’t be taking six months to do it myself and get it uploaded. If all goes well, I’ll be able to upload it by the end of this month and hopefully, it will be error-free.

I have a cover ready and waiting. It was designed by miracle worker Kim Killion. I love this woman.

I’m weary of seeing half-naked men on book covers, so I decided to go a different direction. Seems like every other book these days has a picture of bare chests and abs. Hope I haven’t made the wrong decision. This guy looks pretty good, doesn’t he? Even if he is fully clothed. Let me know what you think. One nice thing about self-publishing: If the cover is wrong, you can take a mulligan.

This book was originally released in 2005. The original cover designed by my print publisher won the Cover Cafe award for cover of the year.

Like all of my books, it’s kind of a soap opera. The “What If?” question I asked when developing this story was, what if beautiful gutsy woman who has been abandoned by the guy she ran away from home with years back, returns to her hometown, bringing her brainy daughter, searching for her roots and starting her life anew, only to encounter and be distracted by the man who has been in love with her since they were teenagers?

What if a handsome ex-ProRodeo champion, who is divorced and starting over, takes on the job of sheriff in his tiny crime-free hometown just to while away a few months before he does something else, then a murder occurs under his watch? And what if, at the same time, he runs into the beautiful woman he had a crush on in high school?

If you’ve read my books, you know that all of my heroines are beautiful and all of my heroes are handsome. Romance novels are, after all, fantasies. So if you haven’t read this one, it will soon be available through Kindle and Nook and other online venues.

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The second occurrence is I had a conversation with Amazon about publishing a print edition of THE TYCOON. According to them, I’m wrong in thinking I should publish it as an e-book first. They recommend I publish it as a POD book first. I’m still deciding. In any event, God willing, I’ll get this book on the market this year. I started the year thinking I would get it out there in February. Then I moved the date to May, then September. Now I’ve lowered my sights and I’m just shooting for 2012. So much for best-laid plans.

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My newly designed Web site is up and functioning. Check it out. www.annajeffrey.com. Let me know if you have any problems navigating it. It can be fixed.

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The Hazards of Offering a Book for Free…

It’s probably because I’ve spent a lot of time at the dentist lately, but I seem to be in a grouchy mood and more eager than usual to climb up on my soapbox. But what are blogs for, Fellow Bloggers, if not to vent?

First of all, as I’ve posted before, when I offered “The Love of a Cowboy” for free for five days on Amazon, an unbelievable number of people downloaded it. I’m very grateful that so many people had an interest in the book. The “free book” promotion produced a much better result than I expected.

Even so, today, I’m ranting about Amazon reader reviews. As much as I love the people who take the time to write them, I’m amazed by some of the things they write.

This one, for example, showed up night before last:

“1.0 out of 5 stars Uninteresting, August 19, 2012  By “tom”

This review is from: The Love of a Cowboy (Kindle Edition)

Less than half star for originality. Nobody but Texas bible toting Republicans in a dream talk or live like this.”

Now I ask you. What does this mean? And what is this poster’s motive? I clicked on his link to see his other reviews. He’s made 5-star comments on two non-fiction books about bleeding heart causes, which probably support his political opinions.

No doubt he downloaded the Cowboy book because it was free, but why did he bother to read a fictional romance novel? Furthermore, politics is not a part of this story and neither is religion and he should have been able to spot that on about Page 5.

So, I’m filing his review along with some others that said things like, “What does this author have against fat people?” ….. “This author’s treatment of a character who suffered from FAS was offensive” … And the one who gave it one star because it had too much sex.

I asked Amazon to take the one about “Republican bible thumpers in a dream” down, but they wouldn’t.

On the upside, another reader posted a 5-star review just above “tom’s”.

This is one of the hazards of so many people downloading a book when their only interest in it is the fact that it’s free. I’m not complaining about that. I like free books. I download free books myself. If I don’t like them, I simply stop reading them and start something else. I don’t feel a need to go on Amazon or Goodreads or some other venue and trash the author.

I do have to admit that when it comes to reviews, my books have generated some far-out criticism. Much harsher than most romance novels and I’m not sure why. The premise from which I write a story is how ordinary people handle sudden and out-of-the-ordinary circumstances, with a little romance and a few steamy love scenes thrown in. None of that seems controversial or venom-inspiring to me. Jodi Picoult does the same thing, but without the romance. My books seem to arouse downright anger in some readers. So I go back to my original question: If they hate the book so much, why read it?

I’ve developed a pretty thick hide over the years. As Nora Roberts said once, hateful reviews are like someone slapping your kid. If I couldn’t swallow the criticism and move on, I’d just have to give up writing. I guess the balm comes from readers like “SNOONIE,” who made a nice comment and gave it 5 stars.

So thank you SNOONIE and all other reader reviewers who made nice comments.

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