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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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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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“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.

Image

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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THE BETTER TO SEE YOU WITH…

English: Eye with a contact lens (myopia).

Sight and hearing might be the senses we take most for granted. That is certainly true of me. So some months ago, when I wasn’t seeing as well as I thought I should be, I thought it was my contact lenses. I thought the prescription needed renewing. I toughed it out for as long as I could stand it because I just hate to take the time to go sit in a doctor’s office, go through the exam, wait for the prescription, yada, yada, yada…..

Imagine my surprise when he said, “I don’t think I can do much for your left eye. You have a bad cataract.” And all the while, I thought my left eye was my “good” eye. Before I even had time to absorb that and all of its implications, I had appointments with a cataract doctor to have surgery!

So I went under the knife, or the laser, or whatever it is, on the left eye on Monday. I think it went as it was supposed to. Already, I’m seeing much better out of that eye. Light is brighter, colors are clearer and my distance vision is great. I might not have to wear glasses by the time all of this is finished.

And I didn’t even know I had that kind of problem.

The surgery on my right eye is scheduled for about three weeks from now.

The moral of this story is if your vision is not quite what it should be, get your eyes checked! Don’t fool around.

The Dreamin’ In Dallas writers’ conference it coming up the last weekend of March. There will be book sales and a signing on Friday night, starting at 7:00 p.m. Then a full day of workshops and networking the next day. So if you’re in the Dallas area, come on out and see us. It’s at the Double Tree Hotel in Richardson. The last I heard, about 60 authors will be there signing books. I’ll be signing THE TYCOON and SWEET RETURN.

AnnaJeffrey_TheTycoon_200px

 

Doing another book giveaway of THE TYCOON. The coming week, it’s on GoodReads. It should show up in a couple of days. So if you’re a member of GoodReads, perhaps they will draw your name. If you aren’t a member, by all mans, JOIN! It’s a wonderful social site for readers.

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