Tag Archives: Love of a Cowboy

New Directions….

I’ve finally done it. I’ve given notice at my day job. I work only 3 days a week, but it feels like 9. The chaos, thus the stress level is off the chart and it takes sooo much “thinking” time away from  writing. I read somewhere once that responsible people don’t leave jobs because they hate the job; they leave because they are unhappy with the management. Enough said.

To be sure, there is motivation beyond that. Number One is realizing that at the moment, I’m  making $3 an hour more than I was when I went there to work 9 years ago and no policy in sight to be paid much more. The past two years, my raises have amounted to 20-cents an hour. I will always wonder just exactly how much having that job cost me.

So, when I thought about the stress level compared to the pay, I just couldn’t find a reason to do it anymore.

Now I’ll be able to concentrate more of my time and energy on writing and I’ll be able to revive this blog. I had given it up because it was just too much to add to trying to write books and do a little marketing. WordPress has made changes since I blogged last and I’ve had to spend a couple of days re-learning enough about WordPress to actually write and send the blog.

I have several projects underway or on the back burner. So here’s my writing plan:

AnnaJeffrey_TheHorseman_200px (2)#1 project is to finish THE HORSEMAN, Book #3 of my Sons of Texas trilogy. AnnaJeffrey_TheTycoon_200pxI’ve blogged here about it before. It will present a romance for Troy Rattigan, horse whisperer and Bill Lockhart, Jr.’s bastard son. It will also complete the arc that began in Book #1, THE TYCOON, and solve the riddle of who is threatening and harassing the Lockhart family and the Double-Barrel Ranch. My books usually are between 25 and 30 chapters. I’m up to 15 chapters now on THE HORSEMAN, so I don’t have too far to go.

#2 project is work on MAN OF THE WEST, sequel to LONE STAR WOMAN and Book #2 of the Strayhorn trilogy, a book that has already been written and traditionally published as a mass market paperback by Sadie Callahan. I FINALLY have the rights back. I’m going to revise it a little and re-release it as an Anna Jeffrey book.

#3 is CLAIMED, the 2nd book of Miranda’s Chronicles. The first book, DESIRED, is a 40,000-word erotic novella. CLAIMED will be a full novel. I want to complete this duet because I really liked writing in first person and I liked the 2 main characters in this story. When I wrote DESIRED, I believed I had created one of my strongest, therefore best, heroines in Miranda.

#5 is to write Book #3 of The Strayhorn trilogy. This will be Cable Strayhorn’s story. I haven’t settled on a title yet, but I’m toying with MAN OF THE HIGH PLAINS. I’m also thinking about THE PRODIGAL and or THE PRODIGAL OF THE PLAINS, because it will be the story of a Strayhorn heir who leaves the fold for a different life, then returns after personal tragedy. I know—soap opera. 😊 I don’t yet have a cover. I have to settle on a title before I can choose a cover. ….. What do you think about the 3 titles? Would love to hear your comments.

Woven between all of these is a new Dixie Cash zany adventure for the Domestic Equalizers. I’ve got the title: WHEN I SAID YOU’RE THE BOMB, I DIDN’T DREAM IT WAS TRUE. I’ve also got the basic plot idea formed in my head and am doing research. So far, I have only 3 chapters on paper, but the more research I do, the funnier the concept seems to me. The title is a clue to the story. 😉 ….. This will be the biggest challenge of all of all my writing projects because I no longer have my sister as a partner and she is the funny one. I don’t have that “Saturday Night Live” sense of humor that she does. She has too much going on in her life to fool with it.

Also woven among and in between all of this is an attempt to narrate my own audio books. The fees for narrators makes them too expensive to do very many and unless a ton of books sell, it takes too long for the ROI. If I can do a decent job on my own narration, I’ll be releasing more audio books. Doing it myself is relatively inexpensive compared to hiring a narrator.

As you can see, just because I’ve quit my day job doesn’t mean I won’t be busy. 😟 I only hope to live long enough to complete all of these projects. Wish me luck!

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IT’S OUT!…

IT’S OUT! The audio edition of THE LOVE OF A COWBOY.

I’m excited to report this news. It went live yesterday.

Making COWBOY into an audio book was a labor of love for me. It was my first published book. And its’ still my best-selling book. Now it’s available in print, digital and audio.

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I was lucky to find a very good narrator. I’ve listened to a few audio books where the narrator was so bad, she actually did harm to the book. I’m grateful to say that didn’t happen to me when I searched for someone. Finding a good one is a challenge. The requirement is that they read a 5-7 minute sample and you listen. From that, you choose one. It’s scary because that really isn’t much of a sample and it isn’t cheap to produce an audio book. When you make your choice, you’re sort of stepping out there on a wing and a prayer.

If you’ve never listened to a book, you should give it a try even if you’ve already read it. Audio brings a different perspective, especially to the characters. Hearing the dialogue voiced might change you imagined the hero or the heroine.

THE LOVE OF A COWBOY is available at Amazon, Audible and iTunes. You can listen on an MP3 player, your phone, your tablet or any other device that has audio.

If you haven’t signed up to receive my newsletter, between now and July 15th, I’ll be collecting names of new subscribers. On the 15th, I’ll draw a couple of names from the new subscribers to whom I’ll give MP3 players.  Just go to my website, www.annajeffrey.com and follow the prompts.

Meanwhile, here’s the blurb for THE LOVE OF A COWBOY:

“When Texas beauty, Dahlia Montgomery and her best friend journey to Idaho for a change of scenery for the summer, the last thing she expects to encounter is Luke McRae, a lean cowboy intent on sweeping her off her feet and into his bed. Dahlia can’t resist his rugged cowboy swagger and his sky blue eyes, even though she knows he can break her heart.

Luke is part owner and manager of the legendary Double Deuce Ranch in the Idaho mountains. With the ranch, an alcoholic ex-wife, a shrewish mother and three kids to worry about, he has no interest in romance. But that doesn’t mean he has given up casual sex with beautiful women….But is either he or Dahlia prepared for the consequences of a sexy summer romp?”

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EEK!…WE’RE NOT ALONE!….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Hazards of Offering a Book for Free…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ON TO TITLES (bugle blaring in the background)…

Last week, I closed by saying we would talk about titles and how they come to be. So I’m simply going to describe my own experience. I’m not speaking for anyone else. I’m sure every author has a different experience.

“What’s in a name,” we ask. Well, if you’re writing books or songs, the answer is, “A lot.”

I always stick some kind of name on whatever I’m writing. But that doesn’t mean that’s what I will finally call it. But you have to have a way to identify the file, if nothing else.

I sold my first book in a 3-book contract. I had titled it “For the Love of a Cowboy.” I had this notion that the title should perhaps reflect something about the book. Since the book was Dahlia’s story (the heroine), I wanted it to say what she did because she fell in love with a cowboy.

Well, it took only about 30 seconds for the editor to inform me that for marketing reasons, they had changed the title to THE LOVE OF A COWBOY. I did not know at the time that the marketing department has almost as much sway as the editors.   …..  Granted, they hadn’t changed it much.  So, I said, “Fine.” Because I didn’t really care what they called it.  …..  Nobody in publishing tells you much. You sort of have to ferret out information on your own or learn it by accident. So it took me 3 books to learn that most of what happens with books is decided by committee, of which the marketing department is a large part.

I titled my next book “Out of Ashes.” The story had a fatal fire in it, which played into my thoughts at the time. But I also thought about Doug and Alex, the hero and heroine building a relationship out of the ashes of their troubled lives. Melodramatic, huh?  …..  I did not know at the time that a book about Saddam Hussein had the same title.  😦  …..  Although, thinking back, I don’t know if that would have mattered.

At that point, I had a new editor who didn’t like the story or the characters and who was a bit more heavy-handed than the editor who bought me originally. She and my agent got together and renamed the book, THE LOVE OF A STRANGER. Again, I didn’t care. But I learned something.

I didn’t even put a title on the 3rd book. I just called it Book #3 and waited for them to name it. And they did. They called it THE LOVE OF A LAWMAN.

In the end, all 3 of the books were appropriately named, I thought, though they were not titles I chose. All 3 of the stories are set in the same small town in Idaho, and the play on the phrase, “The Love of,” seemed like a good marketing idea.

My next experience was with SWEET WATER. My title for that book was “The Mayor of Agua Dulce.” The book is set in the West Texas desert and a well for drinking water was an important item. Marisa (the heroine) is the de facto mayor and agua dulce is Spanish for “sweet water.” The marketing department thought the title was too long and too many people wouldn’t know what it meant, so they changed it….I liked *my* title, but again, I just moved on.

I had absolutely no idea what to call what finally became SALVATION, TEXAS, but I knew they would come up with something. Imagine my surprise when they decided to call the book the name of the town in the book.

When SWEET RETURN rolled around, my editor was about to leave on her 2nd maternity leave and just wanted to get a title on the book. She asked me for some ideas (shock) and I sent a long list. They decided on one that wasn’t even on my list. I think they took it from a sentence toward the end of the book. I protested slightly because of already having a book out called SWEET WATER and I even whined to my agent. But the editor said, “Look, do you really want to wait a week or two for a title and have my assistant go through another meeting on this?”  ….   I didn’t, so I acquiesced.

With LONE STAR WOMAN, I was hoping for the title to say “Texas” loud and clear. I asked for that and they worked with it. It was the 1st of what was supposed to be a 3-book series, all set in the same small town in the Texas Panhandle. MAN OF THE WEST followed, which seemed logical, although that’s also the title of an old Gary Cooper western movie. But hey, I could be in worse company than Gary Cooper. 🙂

Those 2 books were written as Sadie Callahan, which is another long, boring publishing story. I’ve got the rights back now to “Lone Star Woman.” Suffice to say, this book will be re-issued by me as an ANNA JEFFREY book.

The same applies to “Man of the West,” although I don’t know when, if ever, I will get the copyright back. If and when that happens, I will probably re-write the ending, as a lot of readers have hated the ending. I wasn’t fond of it myself, but I ran out of time and space.

Obviously, the 3rd book, Cable’s story, never got written and I have no idea what the title would be. I might write it yet and self-publish it. Then I’ll have to start the title search all over again.

So that’s how it works with titles. I don’t know if everyone in the publishing house committee gets to vote on it or what. But since an author no longer owns the book once it’s sold to a publisher, it’s purely a courtesy if an editor uses a title an author wants or likes. My sister had a great title idea for a Dixie Cash book, we thought, but it was completely ignored for several books and never did see the light of day.

Is it any wonder that indie authors are enjoying this new-found independence?

Although book content is copyrighted, the titles are not. Nor are the titles to songs. That’s why you see titles repeated. If one sold particularly well, then the publishers have no qualms about using it over and over again, whether it relates to the story or not. It’s all about sales and money, you see.

Now, for the first time, I’m dithering over the title to my new series and it’s going to be solely my decision. I’ve had a dozen ideas float through my head, all of which I’ve rejected up to now. Maybe I need that committee.

So far, I’m settled on  THE LOCKHARTS OF TEXAS – DRAKE  for Book #1. Sort of like Linda Lael Miller has named her McKettrick and Creed series. But by the time I’m ready to publish it, I might come up with something I like better.

It’s one of my typical Anna Jeffrey mainstream angsty romances. Sort of. But I’m trying to make it a little meatier. You recall the TV show, Dallas? It has that flavor. Big, old, rich, Texas dysfunctional family and their trials and tribulations.

If you have any title ideas, folks, by all means, throw them out there. I consider *everything.*  ….. In fact, I believe one of you gave me the name of this blog.  🙂  And I thank you.

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