Tag Archives: Fiction

Readers (and Writers) Beware!

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you say CLICK FARM?

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE IMPORTANCE OF RANKINGS

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

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

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

COUNTERFEITING

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

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

VICTIMS OF PLAGIARISM

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

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

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

AMAZON’S ATTITUDE

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

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

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


THE FUTURE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT CAN WE DO?

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

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


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

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

SUPPORT YOUR FAVORITE AUTHORS. CALL OUT FRAUD AND PLAGIARISM.

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GUEST AUTHOR – DILYS J. CARNIE

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

07.14.2017_author photo

Dilys J. Carnie

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

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


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


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

Content Warning: contains adult language and explicit sex


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

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

“I have sisters,” she whispered.

“Yes, two. You are part of triplets.”

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

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

“Have you found them?” Daisy asked.

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

“Jack and Kent are your business partners?”

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

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

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

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

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

“I don’t blame you, Micah.”

His eyes flashed open.

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

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

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

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

“Daisy?”

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

“Promise me one thing.”

“What?”

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

She nodded.

“And…”

She raised her eyebrows.

“Last night.”

She blushed furiously, a lovely pink shade.

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

She shrugged. “There is no us.”

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

She walked out the door without replying.

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


TourBanner_TheLostSistersTrilogy

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

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

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

I love to write and be creative with my characters.

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

http://www.dilysjcarnie.com/

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

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

https://twitter.com/dilysjcarnie

http://pinterest.com/autumnleaves09/


Amazon link:

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


Barnes and Noble link:

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

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

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE:

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

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

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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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That’s Entertainment…

Most people who read or write books also like plays and movies. I’ve even had the notion I should write a screenplay and started one a couple of times.

I’ve been a movie fan for as long as I can remember. It started at an early age. When I was a little kid, I lived with my grandparents in a rural West Texas town that wasn’t much more than a village. We had scant outside entertainment, no TV and  barely a radio broadcast, but we always had books, magazines and newspapers around the house. This is where I learned to read and love and sometimes, if I was lucky, watch fiction.

A movie was a rare treat. Two or three times a year, “tent movies” would come to town and stay for a week or so. They would set up a big tent in what passed for the town square, line up metal chairs for the audience to sit on and show a repertoire that included everything–silent movies accompanied by piano music or “talkies” that were more than a few years old. I’m sure that’s where I saw my first western movie. Sometimes we even had music where you could sing along, following the bouncing ball on the screen. I think the price of admission might have been a quarter or less.

I found this picture on a site called “Old Magazine Articles,” which tells about the traveling tent movies. It reminds me so much of my childhood. That girl with the dark sweater, skirt and shoes and socks could be me. If you want to read more about this slice of mid-20th Century Americana, check out this website. Just a lot of people know nothing about this. Here’s a link: http://www.oldmagazinearticles.com/Traveling-Movie-Theaters-pdf

I and my great-grandpa were enthralled by those old movies. He walked the couple of miles to town every night to watch whatever was shown on the screen, good or bad. He was past 80 and practically deaf, so he had to sit on the very front row, smoking his big cigar. I’m sure the movie watchers around him loved it. :-/

I sometimes got to go with him, though not every night. To me, what was even more fantastical than the movie was they had buttered popcorn and cotton candy. I was fascinated by cotton candy. As I recall, it cost a nickel.

Later, when TV finally came to our neck of the woods, my great-grandpa was consumed by TV. He watched every old western and never missed the wrestling matches. He usually watched alone because he had to have the volume turned up so loud no one could stand to be in the same room. Consequently, none of the rest of us watched TV and by then, the traveling movies had stopped coming to town.

I’m still trying to be a movie fan and that’s what my post is about. My husband is a movie fan, too. Or at least, he used to be. Last week, we decided to watch a 5-star movie on Netflix called “The Place beyond the Pines.” I don’t think we got half-way through it. Can you say dark and depressing?

We moved on from there to Amazon and another 5-star movie called “Winter’s Bone.” Didn’t finish that one either. More dark and depressing. Then we chose “Hello, My Name is Doris,” also well reviewed.  Didn’t even get a quarter of the way through that one and I used to be a fan of Sally Fields.

We ended up watching “50 First Dates” with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, a 516HQskatDL._AC_US327_QL65_movie that had terrible reviews by the critics, although it did have good reviews on Amazon from people who bought it. Believe it or not, we actually finished that one and furthermore, we liked it. Now if you knew my husband, you couldn’t imagine him watching a chick-flick like that one and enjoying it, but it presented an interesting situation and a real story. The performances were upbeat. Not one explosive car crash or loser at life.

I guess, whether it’s books or movies, I don’t want to be depressed while I’m trying to be entertained. Movies, as well as good books, were a happy part of my childhood and that’s what I still want to see. I don’t want to be broken-hearted or preached at about social issues I can’t remedy. Not that I don’t like a good drama. After all, I write “drama.” Bottom line, I just want to be entertained by a good story.

Every movie they make these days, if it isn’t car crashing and giant robots fighting, it’s dark, Dystopian themes telling me how grim the future is going to be. I don’t want to think about that. Dark and depressing isn’t where I park my imagination. God knows, I see enough of that on the news.

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Guest Author, New Book

Chick Lit

Date Published:  05/31/2017

Only $0.99!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
 
 

Excerpt 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

‘I’m here for the shooting,’ I said.

 

She gave me a blank stare.

 

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

 

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

 

‘Pardon?’

 

‘His name is Master Rupert Hollington.’

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

‘Jenni,’ I corrected him, mortified.

 

‘Are you sure?’

 

‘Erm…yes?’

 

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

 

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

 

Never mind, it was an easy mistake to make.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

He nodded.

 

‘Ew. No thanks.’

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Millie drew back behind my legs.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

She was weeing on his wellies.

 
 

About the Author

 

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

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

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

 

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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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FINISHED!! … AT LAST!

I’m back, fellow bloggers and readers! I hope none of you thought I had died.

Two things have been going on that have kept me from blogging. I just had to get THE TYCOON finished, which I did. Unfortunately, my *real* job consumes so much of my energy and time, I just don’t get anything done during the four days I work, so I had to dedicate my three days off to nothing but the book.

I already have the cover. I’ve just applied for a copyright and now I’m on a quest for a couple of beta readers and a copyeditor. One thing I’ve learned is copyeditors are expensive!

I’m going to release it as an e-book, but soon I will put it into print as a paperback.

Finishing a book is a weird letdown. All of a sudden I feel like I’ve got nothing to do, though in fact, I do have plenty to do to launch the book. But I’ve lived with this particular one and its characters for more than two years now. So giving them up is almost like abandoning the family pet. I know from the past that for a few days, it will just feel like something important is missing from my life.

I’ve posted the blurb for THE TYCOON before, but it’s been a while, so here it is again.

“When DRAKE LOCKHART, wealthy Texas ranching scion and business tycoon, meets a stunning redhead at a fancy ball, the last thing he expects is a tryst he can’t forget, followed by her disappearing in the middle of the night. Every minute spent with the vulnerable beauty has left him hungering for more.

“SHANNON PIPER was out of place at the ball. And an intimate encounter with a man so far removed from her social hemisphere wasn’t on her agenda, especially when he has a reputation for ruthlessness and is one of Texas Monthly’s most eligible bachelors known for his history with women. Is a relationship based on just sex the way to protect her heart? Or is it the beginning of the most enduring love a girl with a sketchy past could ever know?”

So what do you think? Does the blurb make you want to read it?

I also have a new Web site being designed. Hopefully, it and the new book will launch at about the same time.

Now I’m on to working on THE LOVE OF A LAWMAN, which was originally released in 2005, getting it ready to upload. Too bad I can’t use the same cover because that cover won an award.

The second thing that has been going on is I put my 2003 release, THE LOVE OF A COWBOY, in the Amazon Kindle Select program. Since it’s a nine-year-old book, I was amazed and humbled by the number of readers who downloaded it when it was free and and bought it after the free promotion ended.  It stayed at #1 on the Top 100 Free Downloads in the Kindle store all five days and remained on the top twenty list for nearly several weeks. That was more than I had hoped for when I started the promotion.

That kind of reception lessens some of the trepidation I have about releasing THE TYCOON. Since I haven’t self-published an original book before, obviously, I’m a little nervous. I’ll keep you posted.

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