Friday, October 4, 2013

I've Moved!!

Yes, it is official. The new Anna J. McIntyre blog and website is now open.

While I won't be taking this site down, I won't be adding any new posts.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Coulson Book Two

(continued from yesterday’s post)

The second book in the series (and the forth to be released) is currently at the beta readers and hopefully they will help me give it a proper and fitting title.

Very different from the other books in the series, it tells the complex story of Garret Coulson’s parents. Throughout the story we meet much younger versions of people I first introduced in Lessons. It also sets the scene for the final book in the series, which has yet to be written. That book will be the fifth book in The Coulson Series, and the fifth book released in the series.

I learned a lot about my characters when writing this book – helping me understand why they became the people I first introduced Lessons. If it sounds as if I am talking about real people, that is probably because they feel very real to me.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Coulson’s Wife

(continued from yesterday’s post)

The books in this series take place in a fictional town in the southwest – Coulson. It was named for its founder, Randall Coulson.  Don’t waste your time trying to figure out in what state you’ll find Coulson, I never say. I will tell you, my hometown of Lake Havasu City, Arizona was my inspiration for the town and how it was founded.

I initially planned to go back to the 1960s and 70s, to tell the story of Lesson’s characters when they were much younger. When I sat down to write the book, I was drawn back in time – to Randall Coulson, the town’s founder. It is a bitter sweet love story, very different from the books already released in this series.

This book – the first in the series, but the third book to be released in the series – is Coulson’s Wife. It is currently in the re-write stage, and will then be sent off to the editor. To find out about the other new release planned for The Coulson Series, read tomorrow’s blog.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Senator’s Secret

(continued from yesterday’s post)

One thing I loved about this story, none of my beta readers could figure out who-done-it, until I made my reveal. I relished the fact it was not a predictable obvious mystery.

It brings together characters from Lessons – a new generation. But the story relies heavily on characters my readers met in the first book.

When I finished the second book in the series, I realized I wanted to go back in time and tell the story of how the three families from the first two books – the Coulsons, Kellers and Chamberlains - initially came together.

For more about the next two books in the series, read tomorrow’s blog.

Friday, September 27, 2013

It began with Lessons

I first wrote Lessons around 1995. I believe it was my forth novel. (The first three: a YA, a romance and a mystery – they will not be published.)

For me, the story and the characters came alive and when I started writing it was as if someone else was telling the story, and I was just the typist. When I finished the book, I was busy in my real life, so I didn’t do anything with the manuscript. But some fifteen years later I decided to release it as an eBook.

Before release, I did some major rewriting, editing, sent it through a beta reader and then to a professional editor.

I wasn’t ready to leave the characters, so I decided to write a second book, this time a mystery. When I initially wrote Lessons, I wrote about the timeframe I was living in. When I started The Senator’s Secret, I wanted to do the same thing. So from the time Lessons ends and The Senator’s Secret begins, there is a 16-year span.

When reading the different books in this series, the reader should not expect the same read. While she’ll find many of the same characters, it won’t be a formula plot, similar to other books in the series.  For example, there is far more explicit sex in Lessons than in The Senator’s Secret. I didn’t do that to be salacious, but because the story called for it.

Lessons is a story about a happily married woman, who finds herself a widow and confronts a discretion from her past. One reviewer wrote: "Lessons" is a deep, rich story of love, family and friendship.

For more about The Senator’s Secret, read tomorrow’s blog.

Sensual Romance VS Coulson

Sensual Romance Series
Currently there are three books in this series: After Sundown, While Snowbound and SugarRush. These are light romances, each is a standalone story told in about 50,000 words. I don’t close the bedroom door when the lovers get together– but I don’t write about throbbing body parts.

The Coulson Series
Currently there are two books in the series – but I just finished two more. One is in the re-write editing stage and the other is off with the first round of beta readers.

While the books in this series are each standalone stories – the series is actually a family saga, beginning in 1900 to current times. I definitely would not call them predictable. It is not always clear who will end up with whom.

The first two books released in this series were each around 90,000 words.

Lessons, the first one released is an adult love story. I personally believe it appeals more to readers over the age of 30.

The Senator’s Secret, the second book released in the series is a murder mystery, with a love story.

The third and fourth books to be released will actually become Book One and Book Two in the Coulson Series. Confused? Check back later and I’ll try to explain.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

What's in a name?

I first read The Great Gatsby in college. My literature teacher dissected everything about the book, including why F. Scott Fitzgerald selected the names for his characters. I remember wondering at the time if my teacher was simply guessing or had the train of thought he attributed to Fitzgerald been on track or off the rails.

When selecting names for my characters I give it considerable thought. One factor that always influences me is the people I knew by whatever name I am considering. If I was to name a character Hilda, she would probably be a sweet, kind hearted person like my grandma Hilda, whereas another writer might think of Broom-Hilda, the green cartoon witch who smoked cigars, chased men and drank beer.

I’m currently working on two new Coulson books, Coulson’s Wife, and another that has no title yet.

In Coulson’s Wife two of the main male characters were initially named Randall and Robert. I gave Randall’s character his name when I wrote Lessons in the mid-90s, so there was no changing that name. I felt Robert fit his character, and so did my beta readers.

However, one beta reader had serious reservations. Was Robert and Randall too similar, would it confuse readers? Afraid she might have a point, I decided to change his name. After much back and forth, we decided William would fit the character.

The other day I told my mother I decided to go with William. Mom is like me in that she relates names to people she once knew. 

Mom, who is 85 years-young then related a memory of a William she once knew when she was in elementary school. Apparently this William was always getting into some sort of mischief. One day, during show-and-tell, he brought to class a very explicit book (with illustrations) on making babies and childbirth.

Apparently the teacher was not paying attention, allowing her mind to wander to more interesting thoughts while young William stood before the classroom sharing his fascinating book. I imagine the teacher finally noticed something was funny, when the class was so quiet, and the kids were sitting on the edge of their seats.

It did not end well for poor William. Once the teacher figured out what was going on, the principal was called, and William was taken outside and given a severe paddling. Mom said as she and her classmates sat in the classroom, they could hear young William wailing in pain. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Buying Five Star Book Reviews – is it a smart marketing strategy?

As I discussed in yesterday’s blog post, some companies have discovered that when it comes to online reviews, buying fake positives is not such a terrific idea. For trade publishers, paying for reviews is nothing new. Of course, they will probably insist they only buy honest reviews. 

The only time I have come close to buying a review was in a Goodreads group, where I gave away eBooks in exchange for an honest review. It was all very public - a Goodreads group designed for this specific purpose. My goal was not to rack up hundreds of reviews – just ten so I could advertise on a few sites that require a minimum number of book reviews before they will consider taking my ad.

I personally don’t believe buying hundreds of positive reviews will help book sales. I know of several authors who do very well, yet have relatively few reviews.  It doesn’t take an Internet wizard to look at an author’s ranking on Amazon to get an idea of what he or she does. 

Personally, the reviews I most covet are unsolicited ones from strangers – people I have never met before. I especially liked a recent three star review I received on Goodreads for While Snowbound. The reviewer said some very positive things about the book, and the only negative she wrote was “However, some things in the story tend to be a bit predictable.”

I was totally okay with that comment, for one thing, she was right. While Snowbound is from my Sensual Romance Series and I tell my readers books from that series are love stories with sexual tension and happy ending.  So, in that respect they are predictable.

I also received a one star review over at Amazon, on After Sundown, which didn’t bother me. The reviewer wrote: “The writing style could not make up for such an unlikeable character.” I rather took it as a backhanded compliment. She slammed my character, not my writing.

She was also right, the male protagonist was a bit heavy handed and jerky in the beginning of the story, and had she stuck around (she didn’t finish the book) she would have witnessed his transformation. But I totally get not finishing a book if you find one of the main characters unlikable; I have done that myself.

The only reviews I dislike are fake ones – good or bad. I received an odd five star, where I wondered if the reviewer was just making up stuff to build up his number of reviews. In that case, I am just relieved he didn’t choose mine as a one star.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Crack down on rave reviews…what about fake one stars?

CNN recently ran an article about the crackdown of fake business reviews. While I’m all for protecting the consumer, what about protecting the business from fake slam reviews written by competitors or someone with a grudge?

One of my friends recently told me about one of his friends who had to go after a customer for bounced checks. The customer retaliated by bombing the business with fake negative reviews.

Amazon has its own crackdown on suspicious five star reviews, which they remove. But what about the suspicious one stars? Some bloggers, obsessed with ridding the world of potentially false five star reviews, believe reviews by anyone the author knows is suspect.  In some ways Amazon believes that too, because they have been known to remove five star reviews if they suspect the author and reviewer have a connection.

Of course, that is not necessarily true for negative reviews left by a person who has a connection to the author. Case in point – one of my author friends belongs to a writing group and one of her “friends” from the group left a review – but not a very nice one. I suspect that reviewer a personal issue with the author, because what type of reviewer leave his friend a bad review? 

If I read a friend’s book and I don’t like it, I simply don’t review it. While I might tell the author in private what I thought the problem was with the book, I would not do it on a public forum. In my opinion, a friend does not do that. Yet, don’t misunderstand me – I would not leave a friend a fake good review.  That helps no one, and if someone happens to follow my reviews, how would he be able to trust me if handed out careless five stars.

But what do I think about authors buying reviews? Ask me that question tomorrow.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Indies at War

Over the weekend one of my writer friends posted a link to a blog where the blogger listed 30 plus authors who had supposedly purchased fake reviews. My friend’s name was on the list – and since he had never paid for a review, he was pissed. There were some big names on that list. Of course, the blogger did not disclose his/her name nor did he offer up any evidence to support his damning claim.

This all came about around the same time as Goodreads announcing its cleanup, by removing nasty rhetoric aimed at authors or reviewers. Goodreads reminds us: Play nice kids, and stick to reviewing the book.

I won’t post a link to the blogger’s page, because frankly, I have no desire to spread lies about my fellow authors. Those on the list have publically denied purchasing reviews, and some are joining forces to wage a legal war against the blogger.

Yet, even if the authors had paid for a review, who really gives a crap? I mean really, you don’t think the big publishing houses haven’t paid for reviews? Grow up kids.

As a reader, I make my purchases by reading the blurb, preview and can be influenced by the cover. Even recommendations by my friends don’t significantly impact my choices, because I understand we all have different tastes.  Reviews, in my opinion are simply additional entertainment - especially those wacky one star reviews where the reviewer spends so much time searching for cutesy animated gifs to dress up their petty rants.

I wondered, why does someone like this blogger do this - even if they honestly believe an author has purchased a review? But, then I remembered when I went to see Woody Allan’s Annie Hall. The only reason we went to see it was because it walked away with four Oscars, which included best picture. We figured it had to be a great movie.  

My husband and I thought Annie Hall sucked. How could it have possibly won all those awards? After taking a closer look at the selection process, we discovered it was just a big ol’ popularity contest between their peers. We felt robbed! Not only our time, but the price of our tickets, and all the unnecessary calories we consumed in theatre popcorn and candy!

For a brief moment we considered going online and bringing attention to this atrocity.  We didn’t care how ridiculous we might look to the world; we were determined to bring down those Hollywood swindlers. But then we remembered….the modern Internet highway hadn’t yet been built.

In other words nasty bloggers….get a fricking life; would ya.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

White Slavery a Taboo Term?

In yesterday’s blog I wrote: “Personally, the only thing that will get me to stop buying an author’s book, or paying for a movie featuring a misbehaving actor, would be if that person was doing something truly horrendous, like torturing puppies or profiting from white slavery.”

After reading my blog post, one of my author friends wrote “So white slavery is bad, but if they aren't white, well, profit away?  I'm sure that's not what she meant, but that's what she wrote.”

No, that isn’t what I wrote. If you look up the definition for white slavery you’ll find it means: “enforced prostitution” -  no mention of race. 

Another writer friend disagreed with me, and pointed out that the term is on the no-no list --- not politically correct. She suggested I use “human trafficking.”

I disagree. If I am talking about human trafficking specifically for the sex trade, the term white slavery is more specific. Human trafficking can apply not just to trafficking for the sex trade, but for forced labor.

This writer friend insisted the term  is offensive because it seems to discount the suffering of black slaves. Again I disagree.

If you do an online search for the origin of the term, you’ll find varying opinions. I’ve read that the term originally referred to the exploitation of English women in factories.

I have also read that the “white” in white slavery does not refer to race, but to purity and virginity – which was stolen from women when forced into prostitution.  White slavery is a crime committed against a woman of any color. According to Merriam-Webster’s current definition of white slavery, it is about enforced prostitution.

Sometime the desire to be politically correct gives me a headache. I'm told not to use white slavery because someone will get offended because they will assume that because I say white slavery is bad, I must therefore think slavery against a person of color is okay or not as severe. I really don’t get that logic, especially when white slavery is a crime against women of all colors.

 (So what’s with the flapper? The first time I heard the term was when I was a young girl and read the book Thoroughly Modern Millie.)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Saving the world from rude authors!

Ridding the world of misbehaving authors - one list and shelf at a time!

Over on Goodreads they’ve just announced their new policy: “We will also delete shelves and lists of books on Goodreads that are focused on author behavior.”

They remind us “Reviews should be about the book.”

Bravo Goodreads!

Of course, if you read the comments over there, you’ll discover a number of reviewers are not happy with the change. After all, it is their job to rid the world of rude authors – their mission is to keep authors behaving according to their standards.

I’m not sure how this notion came about, that book reviewers critique not just the book but the author.

Ironically, being a nice author is not necessarily one who avoids ending up in time out – banished to some dishonorable list or shelf of shame to be publicly humiliated, such as author’s misbehaving or butthurt author. No, if an author wants to avoid such lists he must shut up and take it.

Take for example one of my reviews where the reviewer critiques my book on a plot element that was not in the book. I can’t nicely comment, “Excuse me, that didn’t happen.” Nope, I need to shut up and take it.

But the funny thing about creative people – like authors, actors and musicians – good ones are often passionate and outspoken, it’s in their DNA. If we rid the world of all but nice and properly behaved authors, we are going to end up with some pretty boring entertainment.

Personally, the only thing that will get me to stop buying an author’s book, or paying for a movie featuring a misbehaving actor, would be if that person was doing something truly horrendous, like torturing puppies or profiting from white slavery.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Is that Sam and Ella? Not quite.

I have a habit of copying images from my digital camera, instead of moving them completely off the device. This evening, while removing pictures from my camera I came across this one of my sister and Lady, and had to share - since Lady was the inspiration for Sam in While Snowbound.

My sister and Mom tagged along on a family reunion this summer in South Dakota. The reunion was for my mother-in-law’s side of the family. Since my daughter and her family were coming down from Alaska to attend, we invited Mom and my sister, Lynn along.

Lynn shared a room with my husband and me. The room had two queen sized beds. When it came time to go to sleep, Lady didn’t think it was right my sister have that big ol’ bed all to herself. Lady never barks (much like Sam in While Snowbound) – but she sat next to the bed, looked at my sister, and gave a little WOOF.

You can see who got her way.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Stepping Back in Time

Coming soon - Coulson's Wife

I'm stepping back in time and telling the story of Randall Coulson - and his wife Mary Ellen, the grandmother of Lesson's Garret Coulson.

The story tells of Mary Ellen's unusual relationship with her husband, taking the readers from 1900 to 1949 -  from Virginia to Philadelphia to Chicago and finally to the founding of Coulson.

A reminder to those who might assume my premise is far fetched - the idea a man could purchase a parcel of land in the 20th century and grow a city, remember Coulson was inspired by my hometown of Lake Havasu City, which was founded by an Industrialist in the mid-1900s.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My First Historical Novel

I never intended to write a historical novel. It’s not because I don’t enjoy reading them. I do. I just want to read historically accurate fiction. While it is fine to have a jet flying overhead when watching a Mel Brook’s western, not cool in historical romance. This means if I write one, I want it to be historically accurate.

So why am I jumping into this pool of uncertainty?  I’ve wanted to write a prequel of sorts to The Coulson Series. My initial plan was to take the readers back to the 50s and 60s, to tell the story of a younger Garret and Alexandra. While that period might be teetering on the historical, it is my generation so I don’t think it qualifies.

While plotting my story, I had a nagging desire to take it back farther. This series is actually a family saga – so shouldn’t I go back to Randall Coulson the founder of the town?

The story ended up not being so much about Randall – but more about his wife Mary Ellen Browning, who was born in 1900. It took a surprising twist for me, and will make readers of Lessons and The Senator’s Secret take a complete different look at those books, and the stories told.

This morning I finished the first draft. Still no title; this one hasn’t come to me yet.  Writing involved a fair amount of research. One thing that helped, my main character was a few years younger than my Grandma Hilda, who when she was alive, shared stories and anecdotes with me involving her younger years. There was even a saying she shared with me – one my grandfather told her when they were newlyweds – which I gave to Mary Ellen’s brother.

This story spans almost fifty years, from 1900 to 1949. I found it fascinating how much the world changed during my character’s lifetime. Born just 35 years after the end of the Civil War, in 1949 Mary Ellen’s world was a vast different place than it was when her story began.

There is still work to be done – rewriting, beta readers, editing – oh, and it needs a title and cover.

Wish me luck!

 (Photo: Grandma Hilda and Grandpa George, same time frame as the first part of the story mentioned)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sensual Romance Series Book Video

Some people call them book trailers - yet that is a trademarked term, so I call mine a book video. Presenting the new book video for my Sensual Romance Series. Hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sugar Rush hits the Havasu Paper!

Actually - it was in the local newspaper paper almost two weeks ago. I'm just a little late in posting the piece. Thanks to the Havasu News-Herald for their nice article on Sugar Rush that appeared in their July 27th, 2013 edition.

Other news: my cover artist, graphic designer Elizabeth Mackey - just completed book covers for my Sensual Romance Series. Look for the paperback version of all three books in the series - After Sundown, While Snowbound and Sugar Rush in the near future!

Write on!!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sugar Rush live!

Sugar Rush is now Available at Amazon and Smashwords! It should be showing up at Barnes & Noble any time now, and it will probably reach the other eBook vendors in about a week.

A perfect summer read! The story takes place in Lake Havasu City Arizona. If you've ever been to Havasu, you'll probably recognize some of the sights, events and businesses mentioned!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Amazing hot fudge recipe!

Sugar Rush is back from the editor and receiving its final touches before its release - hopefully within the next few days.

In celebration I'm releasing Lexi's special recipe for her hot fudge on demand. Just remember to follow the directions exactly - even using a different sized cooking container - or ceramic instead of glass - can alter the results.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sugar Rush, coming soon!

While you're waiting, check out the other two books in the series: While Snowbound and After Sundown!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Family Tree Maker, Organizing Characters

As I wait for Sugar Rush to get back from the editor, I am moving forward with my next book. Instead of one for my Sensual Romance Series, I'm expanding my Coulson Series. This time I am stepping back in time – introducing the readers to Randall Coulson, grandfather of Garret and Russell, and founder of Coulson. I will also be bringing back a younger version of Harrison Sr.

To help me keep track of all the players, I’ve been utilizing my genealogical software program,   Family Tree Maker.

My ultimate plan is to write at least two new books in the Coulson series that take place before Lessons.  

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Females from the Sensual Romance Series

In my last post I discussed the men of the Sensual Romance Series. I think it is only fair to give the women the same attention.

I used my own job experiences when creating several of my female protagonists. Kit Landon, from After Sundown, once managed her parent’s restaurant. I once managed my parent’s restaurant. She is an old fashioned girl, who just wants to be a stay-at-home mother, and raise her young daughter. Unfortunately, her husband was tragically murdered, and she is forced to find some way to support her daughter and herself. 

Ella from While Snowbound is an author, like me. While Kit from After Sundown is focused on her daughter, Ella is focused on her writing career, and enjoys spending time alone. Ella’s special needs Aussie was patterned after our Aussie, Lady, who like Ella’s dog Sam, needs help to get in the car, and rarely barks.

I borrowed my daughter’s career for Sugar Rush's Lexi. The character Lexi has recently graduated, earning a graphic design degree. Our daughter Elizabeth is a freelance graphic designer, and the one responsible for my beautiful book covers.

As for Lexi’s hot fudge recipe used in Sugar Rush – that was borrowed from my father. But enough for now. Sugar Rush hasn’t been released yet.

Photo: Our Aussie, Lady, who I patterned Sam after.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Three Very Different Men

I’ve two published books in my Sensual Romance Series. The third, Sugar Rush is currently with the editor, and should be released shortly.

While each story is a standalone romance, with sexual tension and happy endings, my male leads are vastly different from story to story, as are my female protagonists.

After Sundown has received four and five star reviews over on Amazon, but one reviewer particularly hated my male character and gave the book a one star. According to that reviewer, my character was practically a rapist, an over the top alpha male with anger issues, and the reviewer admitted to not finishing the book.

To be honest, the reviewer makes some valid points. Cole Taylor did behave like a jerk in the first part of the story. And while I will argue he is not a rapist, he did cross the line – something he fully acknowledged. But people – and characters – are not perfect. They come flawed. I like my characters to evolve on the pages. Had the reader stuck around, she (or he) would have witnessed Cole’s growth.

In While Snowbound, my hot rocker, Brady Gates, might be a little self-absorbed, but he definitely isn’t a rapist. After all, I have him tossing a sexy nude woman from his bed on page one of the story. An obsessed fan had crawled into his bed uninvited. Had it been Cole’s bed, she probably would not have been kicked out. At least, not until Cole met Kit Landon. After Cole met Kit, he didn’t want any other woman.

Brady’s journey was not about learning to appreciate and respect women – as was Cole’s. Brady’s journey was about rediscovering himself.

In my third (soon to be released) book, Sugar Rush, in the Sensual Romance Series, Jeff Barnett is a sincerely nice guy. I have a feeling the reviewer that hated Cole Taylor, would like Jeff. Jeff’s real problem is that he is put in an uncomfortable situation by his employer – when he is forced to spy on the employer’s granddaughter.

Three very different men.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Overnight Celebrity

In my last post I mentioned that my character, Ella from While Snowbound shared some of my interests. Like me, she is a writer – an author – a self-publisher – an Indi.

Like me, she earns a decent income from her writing – yet she is not rich, not like some of my writer friends.

But what happens to an author who becomes an overnight celebrity? What happens if one day your income explodes because your books have made it to the top of the charts? In researching my character, I asked one of my online author friends – Colleen Hoover – how her life changed when she became an overnight success. I appreciated her candid answers, and it helped me with my story.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Ella and Sam, from WHILE SNOWBOUND...well, it could be them!

Writers often put a bit of themselves into their characters. I know I did with Ella, from While Snowbound. Although her personality is nothing like mine (at least I don’t think so), she possesses some of my interests and disinterests.

When I was a teenager, I never plastered posters of famous rockers on my bedroom walls. I might be able to match a song with a group, but don’t ask me to pick them out of a lineup, I would probably fail – even when I was a teenager.

I’ve never been star struck – it isn’t in my nature nor is it in Ella’s. Mention some famous male rock star, and chances are I won’t have a clue who he is. Ella is the same way.

This particular quirk is important for my character, because it would have been an entirely different story had she swooned over the sexy celebrity when she found herself trapped with him during the blizzard.

She also has a dog like mine - an Australian Shepherd named Sam.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fake One Star Reviews? (Part 5 of 5 Posts)

For the first post in this blog series, click here.

60shward seemed to disappear from the KDP form for the rest of 2012, yet he crawled out from under his rock and reemerged there in 2013, making a few posts. He even republished his book, yet gave it a new name.

Then in March of 2013 I received a scathing two-star review from a Loraine on The Senator’s Secret. I didn’t immediately discount what she had said. After all, I feel writers should learn from reviews. 

But once I started looking closer at this reviewer – checking out her other reviews so I could get familiar with her tastes – something look oddly familiar. And then I saw it, the tag left on my Sallie Holt book. This was the same account as the malicious tagger from 2012 – just with a new name and a new profile pic. I even posted about it on my other forum.I suspect that profile picture is actually of some poor unsuspecting lady sitting at a restaurant, that 60shward captured with his cellphone camera.

Miraculously the nasty review disappeared a day or so later. I wasn’t sure why, but I was glad to have it gone. But then it reappeared again in June – this time with one star and slightly different verbiage,  yet with the same date as the first review. Not really sure what was going on between March and June.

Obviously 60shward must have some obsession with me to leave a fake review over six months after our incident – and then to return several months later and give me a second fake review.

So folks, don’t just take those five star reviews with a lump of salt - those one star reviews might also be fakes. Lots of nutjobs out there.

Since all of this happened, I am fairly certain I have the guy's real name. And so does Amazon. Which actually makes me more annoyed with Amazon, than with the malicious reviewer, because they've allowed this to nonsense to continue. The moment we informed them of the tags, they should have removed them, as they do reviews they suspect are family members just because the reviewer's surname is the same as the authors.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Fake One Star Reviews? (Part 4 of 5 Posts)

One great thing about the KDP forum, we can search for words and find them in old posts. I did a search for Batarang and found one where the user, an author the with the forum name 60shward was letting another writer in the forum know he’d left him a good review. (That review, by the way, seems to have been taken down.)

I’ve captured the screenshot, because our malicious tagger could easily go into his old post and delete that message, something that he hasn’t done as of July 2, 2013 – when I took the above screen shot.

At this point I now understood he was a malicious tagger – because it was 60shward who I apparently offended by my fateful post.

From that point, KDP regulars knew who the poster was – we even knew his real name, which I won’t post at this time, but might in the future if he continues to be a pain in the butt. The forum was in an uproar, considering he’d played nice on the forum with some authors, while leaving nasty tags on their books behind their backs. In a flash he “unpublished his book” and then disappeared.

But he didn’t disappear forever….more tomorrow.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fake One Star Reviews? (Part 3 of 5 Posts)

At the time I asked the question about who added the tag – I didn’t realize there was a way to follow tags and find out who left it. Apparently, the malicious tagger wasn’t aware of this either.

Another writer at the KDP was more savvy than me and my nemesis, and quickly uncovered the culprit. Back then, he was using Batarang Wally for that account, not Loraine.

He’d also been pretty active – leaving malicious and nasty tags on other books by authors who frequented the forum.  One such tag was left on Marti Talbott’s book Marblestone Manson. Marti was a frequent poster at KDP.  He tagged her book: author that misuses adverbs, abortion. I happen to have read that book, and there was not an abortion in it. Marti prides herself in writing clean historical romances. The tag was obviously left with malicious intent – as were other tags, left on other books by authors who frequented the KDP forum.

So how did we figure out the author behind the Batarang Wally user name? I’ll tell you tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fake One Star Reviews? (Part 2 of 5 Posts)

For the first post in this blog series, click here.

As some of you know, Anna J. McIntyre is a pen name I use when writing romance and mystery. Anna is for my middle name; J is my middle initial, and McIntyre is a surname of one of my great-grandmothers.

I’ve also written a short story – American Bondage – under the pen name, Sallie Holt. Sallie Holt was my father’s paternal grandmother, who died in her early twenties after having four children, and at least two other pregnancies, with the last one resulting in her death.

American Bondage is somewhat controversial, and deals with the subject of abortion in a world where it is illegal under all circumstances. Not wanting to mix politics and controversial subject matter with my McIntyre pen name, I borrowed my great-grandmother’s name.

I mentioned this in the KDP forum, and told them to keep my secret. Obviously I was being flip, because anyone can read the forum and there are no secrets there. Shortly after publishing the story on Amazon, someone tagged it with my real name: Bobbi Holmes.

I don’t believe you will find tags on Amazon these days – it is something they phased out a while back. But it used to be that readers could tag books, to help other readers find books they wanted to read. For example, if a book was about poodles, readers could give the book the tag “poodle” – sort of like how hashmarks work.

I was a little startled to find my real name as a tag on American Bondage’s product page over on Amazon, so I asked in the forum who added it. At the time I was mildly amused, and I assumed it was someone who was just being a smart ass, and didn’t really think it was done for malicious purposes.

Boy, was I wrong.  I’ll explain more tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Fake One Star Reviews? (Part 1 of 5 Posts)

We all hear about those fake five-star reviews, where authors write or get friends or family to write positive reviews. Readers are naturally skeptical of five star reviews, taking what they say about the book with a hefty dose of salt.

But what about nasty one star reviews? Are readers as skeptical about those? If you aren’t, you should be.  I have a nasty one star review on The Senator’s Secret. I know who wrote the review. I know he didn’t read the book. I know he is a he, in spite of the fact the review appears to be written by a woman. I also know I pissed him off in the KDP publisher forum – where he was shamefully promoting his book, aka spamming. Yes, he is another author.

I used to regularly post in Amazon’s KDP forum. It is a place to share information on self-publishing - not a place to pitch your book. Unfortunately, lots of folks troll the boards hawking their wares.

The post that got me in trouble – and earned me my one star review was:

We all understand your excitement at publishing your book. Yet, I think you have a misunderstanding of the KDP forum.  We are your fellow indies. While some of us might someday buy your book, this forum is not comprised of your customer base. This forum is a great resource for Indies – a place where we can share information, learn from others, and connect with others who self-publish. There are thousands of us. Can you imagine how useless this forum would be if everyone continually spammed threads about their books? 

I’ll tell you tomorrow a little more on how I know the writer I directed this post to is the same one who wrote the one star review.
(Click here for part 2)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

While Snowbound hits the eBook shelves!

There was a bit of delay in its release, but While Snowbound it now available at Amazon and Smashwords. Look for it at Barnes and Noble any time now, and it should be showing up at the other eBook retailers within a week or so. I'll be releasing a paperback version in the near future, for my readers who still prefer paper.

The female protagonist in this story is for all my Indi friends out there. Because like us, she is an independent author - making a living doing what she loves, while guiding her own ship.

Except in this story, her life takes an unexpected much for guiding her own ship.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

My self-publisher protagonist, for my fellow writers

Aspiring writers have long been reminded of Mark Twain’s famous quote, “write what you know.” Some argue the quote shouldn’t be rigidly applied. If everyone did, there would be no books about vampires, time travel or alien invasions.

As for me, I tend to stay close to what I know when crafting characters. I probably won’t be writing spy novels like some of my author friends. I tend to stay closer to Nancy Drew.

In Lessons, the protagonist and her husband owned a restaurant. There are four generations of restaurateurs in our family.  My grandfather owned a restaurant – my parents owned a restaurant and my husband and I once owned a restaurant. Our son is in restaurant management.

The next book in the Coulson Series, The Senator’s Secret, the female protagonist is an Arizona real estate agent. My husband is an Arizona Broker and I was a real estate agent for a number of years.

The female protagonist in After Sundown works in the restaurant industry, and the male protagonist is a general contractor. My father was a general contractor.

In my soon to be released, While Snowbound, the female protagonist is a self-published independent author. Her career is an intricate part of the story line. In fact there would be no real story if she worked in any other field.

For independent writers who enjoy reading romance, I suspect they might get a kick out of While Snowbound, especially considering what happens at the end of the story.