Tag Archives: Man of the West

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 Here Again….

Happy New Year


Happy New Year, Readers!

I can’t believe it. Seems like only yesterday I posted this same heading, yet it was Christmas a year ago. All of you probably thought I had died. The last time I posted on this blog was months back. August, I think.

I hope 2015 was a good year for you. As for me, I’ve had better. But on the other hand, I’ve had worse. All in all, I have a lot to be grateful for.

So do you make resolutions? And do you stick to them?

I don’t make resolutions so much as I make plans. And I’ve already got 2016 pretty much planned. Of course you know that old saying : Life is what happens while you’re making other plans. (That quote really did not originate with John Lennon. It originated with a guy named Allen Saunders.)

DixieCash_YouCanHaveMyHeartNumber One on my list is to finish the Dixie Cash book I’ve got underway, YOU CAN HAVE MY HEART, BUT DON’T TOUCH MY DOG. It’s full of the usual madness and mayhem only Debbie Sue and Edwina and their friends can generate. I had planned on releasing it before the end of 2015; however, my day job took over my life for about six weeks and I didn’t get it done. If I’ve made a resolution at all, I have resolved to not let that happen again. Now I’m shooting for a release date in February or March.  This was quite an undertaking for me. My sister threw in the towel at around 50 or 60 pages, so I’ve written it on my own. People who have read it tell me it’s funny, but I’m nervous. I’m the first to acknowledge that she’s the funny one. AnnaJeffrey_TheHorseman_200px (2)

Second on my list is to finish THE HORSEMAN, Book #3 in the Sons of Texas trilogy. It isn’t a comedy. This will be Troy Rattigan’s story, plus it will tie up all of the loose ends and reveal the villain who’s got it in for the whole Lockhart family.

Along with these two projects, I’m going to attempt to narrate my own audio book. I know. Don’t laugh.  …..  I’ve already bought the equipment I need and am ready to roll. All I need now is to get over this head cold that has affected my voice. I don’t know how my Texas twang will sound trying to narrate an audio book. A person should have good elocution and be a half-assed actress for it to work. In fact, most of the audio book narrators *are* actors or actresses. My advantage, if I have one, is that I know how I mean for the dialogue I wrote to sound. We’ll see how it goes. Believe me, the money I’ve invested in the equipment is a drop in the bucket compared to paying for a professional narrator. They are very expensive.

Another project on the drawing board is to write Book #2 of Miranda’s Chronicles, a sequel to the 40,000-word novella I released in 2015, DESIRED. Book #2 will not be a novella. Writing a novella is harder than it looks. I will never do it again. My home is in 100,000-word tomes. The title will be CLAIMED and I’ve already bought the image for the cover. That way, with money invested, I’ll be motivated to get it done.

978-0-451-22959-5_ManOfTheWest.inddI’m also still trying to get my copyright back from my former New York publisher on MAN OF THE WEST, a book I wroteAnnaJeffrey_LoneStarWoman_800 under the pseudonym, Sadie Callahan. I so want to re-write that book and re-release it as an Anna Jeffrey book. It’s Book #2 of The Strayhorns series and a sequel to LONE STAR WOMAN. I had originally planned to write Book #3 in this series and that story is still sort of floating around in my head. I might go ahead and work on it whether I get my copyright back or not.

So those are my plans for 2016. I think my day job is definitely going to have to take a backseat. Still, don’t bet any money that I’ll get all of this done.

How about your resolutions? Are they doable?

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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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“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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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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