Tag Archives: Sweet Return

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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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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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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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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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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