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)