Tag Archives: Salvation Texas

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.

AnnaJeffrey_TheTycoon_200px

 

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

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

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

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

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

AnnaJeffrey_SweetReturn_800

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A RANT ABOUT CELL PHONES…

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

About a million words have been spoken and written about what cell phones are doing to us, i.e., giving us brain cancer, making us unable to communicate verbally, walling us off from each other, yada, yada, yada…..

Something happened recently that made me start to think more about this. I was in a parking lot, walking from my car into a store. I was walking along with car bumpers close by on my right side. Directly ahead of me was a guy walking toward me, deeply absorbed in texting.

I could go no farther to the right without running into car bumpers. “He sees me,” I told myself and continued my path. He came closer and closer and never looked up, so he simply ran into me and almost knocked me off my feet. I couldn’t believe it. He had feet and feet of space where he could have gone to his right, but he was oblivious to it and oblivious to me. His arm hit my shoulder and he looked up at me as if I had just landed from Mars. He didn’t hurt me, but he jostled me. And he didn’t even have the decency to apologize.

I work with a young man who is on his phone every minute of every day—texting, Facebooking, shopping, messaging or whatever else he does on the phone. Even when I’m trying to talk to him, he’s only listening with one ear. His eyes are glued to his phone screen. Why management doesn’t land on him, I don’t know, because he behaves that way not just to me, but to everybody.

I work with a young woman who keeps her cell phone hidden, but who has FaceBook open at all times and constantly refers to it.

I work with yet another one who plays gambling games all day long, even while we’re at lunch and trying to have a simple conversation.

When I walk into the break room, almost every person there is texting or doing something on the phone. Nobody even says hello anymore.

I have another acquaintance who pulls her cell phone from her pocket or purse every few minutes to check for something. It’s impossible to have an uninterrupted conversation with her. I never have her full attention.

I have yet another friend who weaves from lane to lane while driving while she’s either trying to get the phone out of her purse or trying to punch in a number or read a text. At least, I haven’t seen her text while driving, but she might do that. I no longer know, because I’ve quit riding with her.

Person using cell phone while driving.

Person using cell phone while driving. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SMS: Text Messaging Gets Redesigned

Just last week, I heard a young woman talk about dropping her cell phone in a cup of Coke when she was texting while she was driving on a major highway.

I’ve seen two teenage girls standing a foot from each other and texting each other.

These days, you hardly see a young person who doesn’t have a cell phone in his or her hand. Only older people have them in holders attached to their belts or secured in their purses. But they still have them with them. Even if you’re on welfare, the government will provide you with a cell phone, and it isn’t just *any* cell phone. It’s an iPhone or an Android if you want it.

So do any of you recall the days when if the phone rang at your home and you weren’t there to answer it, you simply were not home? And if the caller wanted to talk to you about something important, he or she would call you back when you were at home? Do you remember the days when we didn’t have voice mail?

Mobile phone evolution Русский: Эволюция мобил...

Mobile phone evolution

When I was in the real estate business, I had “Call Waiting.” But I hated it. I thought nothing was ruder than abandoning the person or person with whom I was talking to answer the phone. But, for some reason, it was a tool I thought I needed.

Angel with mobile phone

Angel with mobile phone (Photo credit: Akbar Sim (terribly busy))

So now that we’re to the place where almost no one (and I mean no one) is without a cell phone, especially if one is under 25 years old, where are we really? We’ve exponentially compounded rudeness. We’ve almost eliminated verbal communication. We’re encouraging young people, who are already easily distracted, to have the attention span of a gnat.

And I could go on and on. Am I just an old fuddy-duddy who can’t adapt to the times?

What comes of all of this? Does anybody know?

By the way, for you who are interested, THE LOVE OF A STRANGER will be a free download on Amazon on the 17th and 18th. You can download it to your Kindle, your computer, your iPad, your iPhone or most other devices if you get the Amazon app. I don’t, however, think you’ll be able to get the Amazon app on Nook, but I don’t know for sure. So if you want to read it for free, there you go.  🙂

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A Game, Give Your Opinion….

I need your opinions, folks.

It has been my experience that the New York publishers allow authors little or no opinions or suggestions on cover designs. Nor do they allow authors to have the cover art once a book has gone out of print. They own the cover art, you see.

Consequently, if an author self-publishes an out-of-print book in this brave new world of publishing, he/she has to come up with new cover art. So here’s the game. Below are the books I’ve self-published. I’m showing the original covers done by the art department of one of the Big 6 in New York, alongside the new covers I’ve designed or had designed by a cover artist. And I’m asking what you think.

This is an important question. The cover is one of the most important marketing tools for books. The object is for it to be so appealing, a reader will feel compelled to grab it off a book store’s shelf and look it over. Here goes…..

The first one is SWEET WATER. The cover on the left was designed by my former publisher’s very fine art department. The one on the right was designed by this wonderful cover artist I found. The art is great in both of them, but the question is, which would be more apt to make you buy this book?

The second one is SALVATION, TEXAS. The one on the left was done by the publisher’s art department. The one on the right was actually done by me, if you can believe that, in Photoshop. Same question. Which one would make you most likely to buy the book?

                                                                                     

And here’s the third one, THE LOVE OF A STRANGER.

And I’m saving the best for last. I have not yet uploaded THE LOVE OF A COWBOY to Amazon for Kindle and Barnes & Noble for Nook, but I have the new cover. And I’m unveiling it today, right here, right now, for the first time. I personally think it’s fabulous, fantastic and just downright beautiful. I’m so in love with it, I can hear orchestra music in the background when I look at it.   …..  Let me know what *you* think. Again, the one on the left was done by the publisher’s art department and the one of the right was done by the wonderful new graphic artist I found.

Don’t be bashful. I need your honest opinions. I have books to publish and books to write in the future and I need to know how to dress them up.

Thanks, folks.

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