Tag Archives: contemporary romance

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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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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A BRAVE NEW WORLD…

Happy New YearHappy New Year, Everyone….Hope 2014 brings you nothing but good news and good fortune. Hope you get lots of opportunities to read great books.

Thanks to all of you who came by and said hello to Caroline Clemmons and Kathy Ivan.

An Internet Imbroglio:

The Christmas season apparently set new records for online shopping and created a heck of a bottleneck at UPS and FedEx. It also brought us the largest credit card theft in history at Target.

And Internet shopping brought us this:  This isn’t a new story, but there was a new blurb about it a few days ago on the news. A lady bought and paid for items on an Internet site, but never received them. When she tried to contact the site, she was unable to have a conversation with a human and got no response from the site. Angry and frustrated, she went online somewhere and posted negative comments about the site.

A few months later, she received an email informing her she had been fined $3,500 for making inappropriate comments in violation of an agreement she signed at the time of the purchase.

She refused to pay the fine, so the site turned her over to a collection agency that harassed her unmercifully. So now she’s suing the site for exactly how much I don’t know, but I’m interested in knowing if she wins.

She never did get what she ordered.

I read somewhere a long time ago that if someone posted on a social media site like Facebook or Twitter negative comments about a company’s product, the company could sue. Don’t know if that’s true, but if you had a bad experience with Internet shopping and feel distraught enough to say something about it, where else should you say it but online? If someone really rips you off and you can’t find a human, what do you do? Is her case going to set a precedent that a customer cannot make a negative comment about a product without fearing reprisal or lawsuit?

As I listened to this story, the hundreds, even thousands, of the negative comments that get posted on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or other book selling sites about books flew into my mind. It’s really the same thing, isn’t it? The books, even e-books, are a retail product bought from a retail site.  ….. When I think about all of the tacky and even mean things that have been said online about my books over the years, I have to wonder if I can sue somebody.  :-\

The Internet has really set us to navigating uncharted waters and there’s much more to come.

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BOOK NEWS:

I’m up to Chapter 17 in THE CATTLEMAN. I had intended to release this book in June, but about a hundred things interfered. Now I’m just hoping to release it before June of 2014.

AnnaJeffrey_CallisterBundle3D_200I’ve posted two 3-book bundles on Amazon. THE CALLISTER BOOKS, which includes THE LOVE OF A COWBOY, THE LOVE OF A STRANGER and THE LOVE OF A LAWMAN; and THE WEST TEXAS SERIES, which includes SWEET WATER, SALVATION, TEXAS and SWEET RETURN. All of these are contemporary romances set in West Texas.AnnaJeffrey_WestTexas3DBundle_200px

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“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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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.

AnnaJeffrey_SweetReturn_800

 

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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