Tag Archives: Texas

The Most Important Element…

As some of you know, I sometimes invite other authors. So today, my guest is Caroline Clemmons, author of western romance and adventure set in Texas.

I’m also featuring my cover designer, Kim Killion. Most marketing gurus tell independent authors that the most important element to selling a book is a good cover. If you can’t create one yourself, it’s worth the money to hire someone who can.

Taking that advice to heart, I was lucky enough to stumble across Kim. The day I found her was one of happiest in my independent publishing life. Not only is she a great graphic designer, even though I’m pretty sure she hasn’t had time to read my books, I feel we’re on the same page. To show my appreciation for her and her talent, for the next few weeks, I’ll be featuring some of my author friends who have also had Kim design their covers.

Below, read how Caroline Clemmons came to be an author and take a look at some of the beautiful covers Kim has designed for her.Caroline Clemmons - Dreamin in Dallas - 4-1-11

As long as I can remember, I’ve loved the written word. My dad, who had taught me to read, told me a good storyteller could create a story about anything. As examples, he mentioned a grain of sand. Where had it been, how did it get where it is today? Or, he added, a fly on the wall—what has the fly seen and heard? He encouraged me to read and to write.

CarolineClemmonsFront_TheMostUnsuitableCourtship_POD_1000pxThose early lessons stuck with me. I loved English classes and then took journalism to express myself. I won awards as editor of our school paper, and those encouraged me to stick with that type writing for many years. I even worked for a small newspaper as a reporter and featured columnist. The urge to create my own stories was relieved by composing long, long, anecdote-filled letters to my family.

What started me writing fiction? Oddly, it was my mother in law. On one trip to visit us, she brought a grocery bag filled with old Harlequin and Silhouette novels. She insisted that if I could write letters like mine, I could write romance novels. Secretly, I’d had an idea in my head for some time, but hadn’t the confidence to write it into novel form. My husband encouraged me and I launched into the story. I had never been to a writers group or taken formal creative writing classes. Do I need to tell you the story was awful? Not the basic idea, which I used later, but the higgledy piggledy execution.

Finally, I heard about and joined Romance Writers of America (RWA). Attending a local chapter, I heard excellent workshops. I learned about point of view, characterization, plotting, and the myriad of other tools for creating a story. What a shock to my muse.front cover MUH

I temporarily put aside my original book. Another contemporary novel idea hit me as my family was driving home from visiting our parents in West Texas. By this time, I’d also taken classes in creative writing. I sold the second novel in 1998. Hooray, I was a published author.

My dad had shared tales of his family coming to Texas from Georgia in 1876 and some of the family adventures in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Probably that’s why I enjoyed history, especially Texas history, so much. My brain finally got the message. Why not write historical novels set in late 1800’s Texas? Historical novels require immense research, of course, but remember I love history. Reading about the Old West was pleasure. I consumed it like chocolate, and I adore chocolate.

One thing I’ve realized, I’ll never run out of ideas. What a relief! In the future, I’ll be writing contemporary, paranormal, and historical novels. And now I’m stepping into audio books, always stretching to keep up with the times. But no matter what authors write, a good cover is one key to success. This is why I’ve switched from my Hero husband and me designing my covers to Kim Killion.

FrontcoverTheMostUnsuitableWife_POD_1000pxWhether an author is published with a “big six” New York publisher or self published, the author must be active in social media. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, WattPad, and LinkedIn. I have a website, I blog three times a week, and I’m on three team blogs: Smart Girls Read Romance, Sweethearts of the West, and Cowboy Kisses.  Yes, I’m everywhere.

Picture me banging my head against my desk. Yes, that’s how most authors feel about promotion. I genuinely love and am grateful to my readers. Although authors love meeting readers and love them for buying our books, we resent the time social media requires for promoting our work. We just want to write! Who knew we’d need an MBA in marketing to do so?

So now, thanks to getting acquainted with Caroline’s great covers, you’ll recognize her books instantly. And you’ll know the name of the cover artist as well as hers. And that’s a good thing. If you like tales of Texas with a dash of authentic history, you’ll love Caroline’s books.

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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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AN EXCERPT

My sister and I are pounding away on the next DixieCash epic. We’re up to Chapter 5.

Midland, Texas, where most of the story takes place

One of the main characters in the books is a dog named Wafflle.

And here’s a short excerpt from Chapter 1

The last thing Trudy Coffman wanted on a blistering July day was a trashy alley. As a specialty pet food merchant and the owner of the only pet food bakery in Midland, Texas, she insisted that the area around her shop’s back door be kept neat and clean. LaBarkery did not need an open invitation to bugs and vermin. Trudy had been known to rent a high-pressure hose and blast the alley.

Recently, to her everlasting consternation, the City had placed a Dumpster almost directly behind her back door. The other shop owners up and down strip mall claimed to feel the same about the alley, including the owners of the mom and pop burger joint two doors away. But so far, they hadn’t contributed much physical effort to keeping the Dumpster area clean. As far as Trudy could tell, they hadn’t even reminded their teenage employees who closed at night and took out their garbage to have a care whether they hit the Dumpster.

So after she finished her lunch, she gathered her trash and stepped out into the sunlit alley to dispose of it. To her horror, the area around the Dumpster looked as if a garbage bomb had exploded. Trash cans were upended, including hers. Debris lay everywhere. She knew that unfortunately, she had no choice but to pick all of it up. Besides her personal stake in keeping the alley clean, her neighboring tenants had come to depend on her as the “alley policeman.”

Her shoulders sagged. The temperature hovered around a hundred. “Oh, hell,” she mumbled.

She recognized some of the refuse as coming from her own shop, but sure enough, most of

it had come from the burger joint. On a sigh and a grumble, she righted the garbage cans, placed her plastic bag of trash inside one, then bent and began to pick up the surrounding litter.

Just as she reached for a sack of discarded French fries, a large scruffy dog came from behind the Dumpster and began to wolf down everything in sight. Common sense told her to give a stray dog a wide berth, but he was so thin his sides were sunken and her heart went out to him. Among the things she had never been able to ignore was an animal in need. And for proof, she had two rescue cats, two dogs, an opinionated parrot, two hens and a one-eyed rooster at home.

As she replaced the lid on the trash can, she said to the stray, “Hey, sweetheart, are you friendly?”

The dog looked up at her with soulful brown eyes and wagged its tail, but kept its distance, as if it feared a blow or some other cruel response. From the looks of it, it had been on the street a long time.

She felt a stab in her heart. “Awww, don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you.”

A soft voice seemed to work. The dog inched toward her. Wagging its tail more, it began to dance around. Trudy noticed it was male. She didn’t know when she had seen an animal so starved since a weekend trip to Juarez with her friends. Down there, mongrels ran free, but they were timid and scared, slinking around with their tails tucked between their legs.

The dog wore a collar, so he had belonged to someone. She saw no tags. Unfortunately, now he had fallen on hard times and was getting by the best he could. A heaviness filled her chest. She related all too closely. Been there, done that. Not that long ago, she, too, had belonged to someone, then been abandoned.

Sand storm that passed over Midland, Texas, Fe...

Sand storm that passed over Midland, Texas, February 20, 1894 at 6:00 p.m. Windmills and houses visible just below the whirling sand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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WORK ON THE BOOK GOES ON…

Work on the first book of my new trilogy continues. Everything takes so much longer than I thought it would. So many more authors are self-publishing now, which slows down the process. But that’s good that aspiring authors who have been shackled or shunned by traditional publishing are finding an outlet.

I now have a title and have ordered the cover. That’s going to take several weeks. Not too long ago, it took a few days or a week. I don’t know yet how long copyediting will take.

At this moment, I’m planning an e-book release, followed by a POD release through Amazon. The title I’ve landed on for the trilogy is SONS OF TEXAS. And the title for the first book is THE TYCOON. The second book will be called THE COWBOY and the third will be called THE HORSEMAN. The setting is Fort Worth and rural Texas.

The book titles are fairly self-explanatory, but here’s the trilogy arc:

“The three grown children of an old wealthy but dysfunctional Texas ranching family find love in unexpected places in spite of their quarreling parents. Crisis and near tragedy ultimately reunite the parents who have been the root of the family’s breakdown and harmony that has been missing for many years returns to the Double Barrel Ranch.”

The flag of Fort Worth, Texas currently in use...

And here’s the blurb for THE TYCOON:

“When successful, wealthy Fort Worth businessman, DRAKE LOCKHART, encounters a beautiful redhead at a fancy charity ball, the last thing he expects is a tryst he can’t forget with a woman who disappears. With her continuing to haunt him, he’s driven to search for her. Once he finds her and persuades her to spend time with him, he recognizes that his bachelor days are over. But she has no trust in love or in him and erects barriers between them. Just when he thinks he’s winning her over, without his knowledge, an associate in his powerful company goes head to head with her in a business deal involving real estate she desperately wants. Restoring her faith in him is a challenge Drake must face and win if he’s ever to be happy.

Presented with the opportunity to spend time with one of the most successful businessmen in Fort Worth and one of Texas Monthly’s most eligible bachelors, SHANNON PIPER, smart, successful real estate broker in the small town of Camden, Texas, cannot deny her wilder side. Falling in love with a man she doesn’t trust isn’t on her agenda, yet she can’t ignore his attention or her own attraction to him. Her solution is to confine their relationship to “just sex.” After he claims to love her, his treachery in a business deal proves her original fears well-founded. She can’t easily be convinced she can ever trust him. Her unexpected pregnancy forces both of them to stop playing games and embrace their true feelings.”

English: Actor Hugh Jackman at the 83rd Academ...

Drake

As always, Hugh Jackman is my mental image for Drake, but I haven’t yet found one for Shannon. Sometimes I think of Julia Roberts, but with green eyes. Suffice to say Shannon’s beautiful and smart because all of my heroines are beautiful and smart. This book will be a typical steamy Anna Jeffrey drama. 🙂

English: Julia Roberts attending the premiere ...

Shannon

I had hoped to get it out the door by the end of February, but that isn’t going to happen. So now I’m pushing for the end of March. <sigh> I’m nothing if not flexible.

I welcome your comments.

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A Surprising Discovery…

Steve Jobs at the WWDC 07

As I’ve posted on Facebook and in other places, I’m eager to read Steve Jobs’ biography. So I’ve been dithering whether to buy the book or buy a download for the Kindle. What I’ve discovered is that as much as I like that Kindle, there are some books that are just too delicious not to have a *real* book in my hands. Something tells me that the book about Steve Jobs is one of those.

This discovery was a “wow” moment for me because I thought I was ambivalent. I thought books in print had been replaced in my mind by Kindle books.

So I started thinking about other books I might like to read or have already read and I asked myself, “Kindle or print book?” I made a short list of the ones  I would just have to read in their print format if I hadn’t already read them. Here’s a small part of my fiction list in no particular order. I prefer a print-on-paper edition of every one of these books.

GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell
HEART OF THE WEST by Penelope Williamson
THE OUTSIDER by Penelope Williamson
LONESOME DOVE by Larry McMurtry
THE DEATH OF THE ARCHBISHOP by Willa Cather
THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA by Ernest Hemingway
SOPHIE’S CHOICE by William Styron
RIDE THE WIND by Lucia St Clair Robson
DEEP END OF THE OCEAN by Jacquelyn Mitchard
All of Nicholas Evans’ books

Cover of "THE HEART OF THE WEST"

Those are just a few. Then there are the non-fiction books I would prefer to have in traditional print form. That list is much longer. There’s just something about a non-fiction book that calls for one you can hold in your hands. Many of my non-fiction titles are research books and I haven’t yet mastered how to find things in the Kindle downloads.

In addition, I get a little panicky at the idea that you don’t really own anything with digital readers except the reader itself. The content is out there in cyberspace somewhere in that nebulous *cloud* and you’re only *using* it. I can’t get past the feeling that it could be yanked at any time.

Cover of "Ride the Wind"

None of this is to take away from the convenience, the ease and the utter out-of-this worldness of reading a book digitally. I do love it. Even my husband loves it. As I’ve said before, he can’t deal with a cell phone, but he can use the Kindle.  The technology is revolutionizing both bookselling and book publishing.

But in thinking about it, I wonder if a lot of readers will turn out to be like me. Some books on the Kindle, some not. Do all of you have digital readers now. And are you devoted fans? Or are there still books out there that you would prefer to read printed on paper?

I just hope the day never comes when the print books will no longer be available.

Anna J

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