Tag Archives: Amazon

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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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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CAN AN OLD DOG LEARN NEW TRICKS?

Or to be more specific, can someone who has been doing something in one way for a very long time learn to do the same thing a different way?

qThis is a question that looms before me as I embark on a mission to learn Scrivener. I’m starting a class in how to use this program in a couple of weeks. The author who wrote “Scrivener for Dummies” is teaching the class, so she sounds like the perfect teacher for someone like me.

I bought Scrivener months ago. I didn’t even take the “30-day free trial” offer. I was so confident I could use it I just bought it. Because I had more pressing things going on, I let its icon sit on my desktop for a couple of months before I opened it. I’m not an expert at the computer, but I’m reasonably savvy. After an hour with Scrivener, I was ready to pull out my thinning hair.

Since then, I’ve gone back to it. Even tried to fit my WIP (THE CATTLEMAN) into it, but haven’t advanced one iota. So it’s time for a class.

For those of you who have never heard of Scrivener, it’s writing software designed to replace or enhance Microsoft Word. For novelists and screenwriters, it’s supposedly more intuitive and more organized, with authors in mind, than Word.

And why am I trying to do this? Because I want to be faster and more efficient in my writing. I need to be turning out more than one book a year.

I wrote my first book, THE LOVE OF A COWBOY, as a pantster. A pantster is someone who writes organically. Stream of consciousness. Whatever pops into one’s head goes on the page. But being a pantster wastes a lot of time as you can probably imagine. You write stuff, then throw it out and replace it with something new. I don’t know about others, but by that method, I’ve ended up with stories that didn’t resemble the ones I had imagined in the first place.

After I became published by two of the Big Six publishing houses under two different pseudonyms, I no longer had the luxury of being a pantster. Time became precious. I *had* to become an outliner and a planner because I had to present new stories for the editor to consider before she would renew a contract and I had to meet deadlines. Consequently, over time, I developed a clumsy way of outlining in Word and in Excel. And that’s how I’ve written the last few books, with not much time for a story to “gel” in my mind.

But now I want to try something I hope will be better. So here I go into yet another class. <sigh> I’ve taken so many. :-/

“And speaking of THE LOVE OF A COWBOY, it will soon be available in print from Amazon.AnnaJeffrey_TheLoveofaCowboy_200px Hopefully before the end of the month.Amazon has a new feature for authors to offer those who want to hold a printed book in their hands. If you buy the printed edition, you can buy the same book in e-book format for a reduced price. Of course, the author has to opt for this feature. I’ve added this to the books I’ve got in print, THE LOVE OF A LAWMAN and SWEET RETURN. And I will soon be adding it to THE TYCOON.”

Meanwhile, wish me luck as this old dog sets out to learn a new trick.

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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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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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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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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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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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