Author Blog Hop is Here!

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Hello all! I’m so excited to be a part of Lady Amber’s Author Blog Hop!! So glad you stopped by. I know you have a lot of blogs to visit, so I’ll make this stop brief and fun. I guess the whole point is to make new friends, find new authors and new readers, and win great prizes! So here goes.

Introduction, please! My name is Anne Carter but you might sometimes see me as Pam Ripling. Yup, another author with two names, who writes in more than one genre. But today we are talking about mystery and romance, two of my favorite topics. I write about unsolved mysteries of the past, lighthouses, and those proverbial restless spirits. I write about stardom and love triangles. Most recently, I’ve delved into challenges with regard to love & sexuality (oooh…) in my new release Unmasking Paulie Bingham and its sequel, For the Love of Katrina Bingham, due out September 1st. (You can see all these books to the right on my Goodreads list!)

But what’s in it for you, you ask? Free copies! The prizes:

1 – “E-Boxed set” of the Beacon Street Mysteries (Point Surrender and Cape Seduction) in the format of your choice
1 – “E-Boxed set” of the StarCrossed Romances (StarCrossed Hearts and A Hero’s Promise) in the format of your choice
1 – “E-Boxed set” of the Paulie & Kate Books (titles above) in the format of your choice

and

1 – $25.00 Amazon Gift Card!

Enter the giveaway here!!! Just take a deep breath, fill out the answers, sigh and get ready for your next stop. OR… take a look around Beacon Street for a minute or too, explore the books and reviews and other fun stuff! Winners are chosen at random.

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Thank you SO MUCH for stopping by! Now check out the next stop, and have fun! And if you haven’t already, check out Lady Amber’s own fab stop. Good luck!

Giving it All Away

WARNING: Rant is eminent.

So, what’s up with all these generous authors, making their ebooks free or 99 cents? When I recently published with Amazon’s KDP program, I was offered their “Select” designation if I agreed not to publish elsewhere. In return I would have the opportunity to offer my books for FREE during five days of my choosing over the next ninety. Opportunity?

51ADDV50oEL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA318_PIkin4,BottomRight,-18,-17_AA300_SH20_OU02_Every day, I see numerous books being touted on Facebook and other social networks that are free for a day or two. Authors seem to be clamoring to do this. It was explained to me that the “free” offer is useful—possibly necessary—for the acquisition of reviews. You make it free, hundreds of copies are downloaded, and a few return to post their views on your Amazon page. In theory, these readers should return and actual purchase your other titles. These free downloads do not, however, add to your Amazon sales ranking, because—obviously—they aren’t sales.

This whole thing gives me a bad taste. When my first ebooks hit the screen back in 1998, they were priced somewhere around $6.00. Known NY-type authors’ books were always higher. I got that. I was an unknown. Never sold a whole lot of books, but enough to make me feel like a real author. Prices have steadily dropped for us mid-listers, and seem to have settled around $3.00. Until this new wave of bandwagon discounting hit.

The more people that offer their books for free and cheap, the more it diminishes the value—perceived or otherwise—of our work. These books that we have slaved over for months (maybe years) go up for less than a dollar or worse. Is that really all they are worth? Worse, we are encouraged to want this “opportunity” in exchange for market exclusivity? Come on, I could offer my work for free if I wanted to, on my own, without having to give up rights to sell in any venue I wanted.

What’s happening, people? Why are you so willing to give it all away? When you offer your great novels for less than a buck, how can the rest of us sell for a reasonable cost? Readers are savvy now; their TBR piles are easily filled with freebies. Why pay for anything when every day, the new list of free books comes out. They may love their authors, but money is money.

So what is it really getting you? Reviews? Great. But unless those reviews result in a lot of sales—for real money—so what? You want to feel good about your book, of course. But why go to all the trouble to publish and market it if you’re not serious about being a professional?

Note:  This is in no way intended to pick on Kindle or insult any of my friends and fellow authors who’ve taken this route. I respect that we all have to try different avenues to potential success. I would definitely like to hear other points of view, because surely I am missing something here.

END OF RANT.

Whew.

At Long Last: New Release!

PBingham-Print-Final-WebI began Unmasking Paulie Bingham at least three years ago, possibly four. I finished it quickly then put it away. I wasn’t sure there was a market for this sort of off-beat love story about a confused, romantic, wounded young man with serious questions about love and sexuality. About a hurting, lonely but optimistic young woman who couldn’t help but fall in love, even if it meant giving up conventionality and security. Paulie and Kate’s tale is not terribly uncommon but rarely written.

Not for everyone. But certainly for some.

Here’s what you need to know about this book:  it’s about relationships; uncertainty; love between men and women, men and men, women and women, although it contains no graphic sex; drug abuse, bad decisions and heartache. But it’s also about joy, acceptance, bonds and soulmates; love that transcends genders, time and distance.

Did I mention there is a murder? An arrest? A trial?

Unmasking Paulie Bingham ends at just the right place to take a breath and think about what’s happened, and whether or not you care about what will happen to Paulie next. That next begins with For the Love of Katrina Bingham, Part 2 of the Paulie & Kate series, due out in September.

Paulie loves Kate, and you will love Paulie.

Buy it for your Kindle and Kindle apps:  Paulie’s Amazon Page

 

 

The Loss of a Friend and Mentor

Lorraine Stephens

I woke up in a bad mood to begin with. Groggy, tired, I squinted at my cell phone as I staggered into the kitchen in search of some coffee and dog food. The kibble was for Sandie and Dolce, the coffee, well, for me. But I paused when I saw an email subject line from an old friend in the east:  “Sad news.” And I knew.

Lorraine was my first real editor. While that in itself is important, what was even more valuable was her belief in me as a writer. As an author. She loved my stories, praised them time after time. The edits were grueling; after all, these were my early romance novels and I was still developing my skills. But she once said, of StarCrossed Hearts, “I must have read this manuscript seven times by now, and I still love reading it. Your characters are like old friends of mine.”

She once pitched my book to John DeSalvo, who happened to be sitting at the same table during a romance book convention. For those not in-the-know, John is one of the most popular romance novel cover models ever–he’s appeared on over 1500 books! So John mentioned he was going to become a movie producer and was looking for a big, epic romance to film. Lorraine handed him a copy of my book. Bless her heart.

Lorraine was a founding partner of Wings ePress, which opened its publishing doors just ten years ago next month. StarCrossed Hearts was one of their four launch titles. I was quite proud of that fact. Later, I went to work for Wings, managing their cover art department. It was a lot of work for very little pay, but I enjoyed working with Lorraine, the other partners and staff members. And, of course, the authors, all realizing their dreams of becoming published.

We always worried about how hard Lorraine worked. She would often sit in her recliner until the wee hours, reading and editing on her Rocket eBook device. She was exhausted, but she almost never missed a deadline. She was firm but kind to her authors. She loved her dogs, her friends, her sons (not necessarily in that order). She spoke with a little bit of urgency, but with a Southern inflection I loved. Writing under the name Margaret B. Lawrence, Lorraine was also a fine author of romantic and historical suspense.

I’m sure the long hours and stress took its toll; a few years back, Lorraine had a debilitating stroke that left her unable to work like she had before. Regrettably, at first because I didn’t want to bother her, we lost touch. I’d been meaning to write her. Always thought I would, one day, talk to her again. But last night, her heart decided to take a well-deserved rest.

Lorraine, you did good, girl. You went after a dream and made it come true. You made it possible for hundreds of struggling writers to become published authors. I’ve seen their tears of joy upon getting that first copy, that first tangible evidence of their success. You accomplished that. All those nights of burning the midnight oil, all those aches and pains, the tired eyes, sacrifices—it was all worth it. And in case I didn’t say it enough before…

Thank you, LOLly. I miss you.

Another Auld Lang Syne

Our Lovely Tree

Our Lovely Tree

Happy New Year.

Have been thinking about what to say, but I’m so late I’m afraid all the good topics have already been written. And it’s already the 4th; folks are probably DONE hearing about how bad the ending of LOST was, how sad it was when so-and-so passed away, how shocking it was to see Miley sucking on a bong. Okay, maybe not so shocking, that.

And the year to come? My plans? I have plenty. In the writing arena, I’ve made some decisions concerning my backlist, which has been just sort of sitting without much support from me. These three books are going to get a minor makeover and be re-released under my own publishing byline by this spring. New edits, new covers, new prices. I mean, why not?

Becoming a publisher means I can publish some other things, too, experimental works and some shorts for a couple of

Great Room Ready for Drywall

Great Room Ready for Drywall

new authors just wanting to dip a toe in the water. I’ll need an editor or two, and some help with the cover art. Cover art must be first rate, it’s the very first impression and if it’s shoddy or amateur, no level of quality in the book will make a difference.

That being said, my books with Echelon (CAPE SEDUCTION, POINT SURRENDER) will stay with Echelon. I have no desire to move them, and will continue to promote them alongside my newly released backlist work. If I’m right, all will benefit. I will focus heavily on ebooks this year (as if I haven’t for twelve years already!), although with the help of sites like Amazon’s CreateSpace I can re-release my older books in paperback as well. I’m glad for that, for those people still digging in about paper.

Once I reach a level of completion with this project, I’ll be able to resume work on my next lighthouse mystery. ANGEL’S GATE is started, but I felt it was heading toward a proverbial cul-de-sac and I need to back up and take a turn. I’m hoping to be able to convince the PTB to let me inside the real Angel’s Gate Lighthouse in Los Angeles Harbor. I just need to meet the right person!

Upcoming:

On January 22nd, I’ll be speaking at the Blanchard Community Library in Santa Paula, California. The topic? Lighthouses, of course! Specifically, California’s lighthouses, and how they helped shape our history (it is California history month, after all.) I will focus on a few specific beacons, then segue into those that inspired my work. Really looking forward to this event.

Considering Romantic Times Convention on April 8 at the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles. Pricy, but lots of fun. Will advise.

April 30/May 1, in addition to my yearly stint signing with Sisters in Crime/LA, I’m joining a small consortium of authors in a booth at the L.A. Times Festival of Books, this year being held at the University of Southern California. I hope UCLA fans won’t stay away!

The cabin in the mountains is coming along nicely! Should be done late February. I can’t wait to hunker down with my books and hot toddy before a roaring fire…

Outgoing:

Over the holidays, my niece and I took a day off and drove up to Santa Barbara for lunch. To our astonishment, both Barnes and Noble and Border’s were selling out their inventories, both closing their doors on December 31st. These stores are across the street from each other. I guess Santa Barbara book buyers will have to turn to the web. And ebooks?

Speaking of those minute miracles, I am rapidly filling up the new COLOR NOOK my husband bought me for Christmas! Man, do I love this device. I’ve always been somewhat of a gadget person, but this thing is fab. Does almost all that an iPad does – for half the money. I’ve loaded it up with songs, photos, books – I can do a crossword puzzle, check Facebook, write an email and edit my latest manuscript – and I can do it in the dark!

Follow up:

Further to my “Long Lost Relatives” post, I was contacted by my newly discovered cousin’s ex-wife. I wrote her back, giving her all the info I had and the one photo from my website. She has yet to respond, but I can wait. It’s been my whole life, after all.

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October Musings

IMGP1080Hello, Fall.

These blustery autumn days are blowing in something new. Winds of change. Life it taking another turn, as someone very close to me is about to give birth to a precious new baby boy, a blessing, a grandson. As she waits, anxious and uncomfortably round, I muse–thinking back to those days almost 29 years ago when I carried her husband inside of me…waiting, anxious and uncomfortably round.

Am enjoying my history class more than I thought possible. I think it’s a crime when a child (me, many moons ago) has a teacher that makes a could-be worthwhile class about as exciting as a box of starch. Mr. “L”, my high school history teacher, was also the school detention teacher, which I think he preferred to history. The most interesting thing about Mr. L was his summer vocation. When school was out, he drove an ice cream truck by day, and tended bar at night. Think on that for a moment.

People who bought my books at my two wonderful launch parties are beginning to write with their thoughts. Everyone loves the stories, complete with the editing hiccups that slipped into the first release copies. Oops. Perhaps my books are like Native American blankets. Not allowed to be perfect, for only the Great Spirit can be perfect. As humble humans, we–and our creations [books and blankets?]–cannot be without some flaw. Do I stick with that story?

I found a book on eBay about HOT TODDY: The Mysterious Death of Thelma Todd. Except for the cigarette smell, the book is nearly new and I am enjoying the unfolding of a mystery I’ve thought about for many years. We all know how it ends, but the how/whodunit will forever remain a secret.

One more bit of news. I cooked parsnips for the first time in my life. Along with carrots, butternut squash (another first) and brussel sprouts, these made up my roasted vegetable platter, served along side some garlic mashed potatoes with crumbled bacon and chives. I’m actually cooking again. I’ve discovered I can do this, if I remove myself from the keyboard long enough.

It’s been less than a year since I paid $259 for my nook. Next month, the color-touchscreen-backlit model debuts for $249. Am just a bit peeved. Will talk about that at length in the future.

This time of  year always brings to mind the late Dan Fogelberg, who sang of the “end of October, the sleepy brown woods seems to nod down their  heads, to the winter…” — from “Old Tennessee.”

Thank you, Dan. Rest in peace, troubadour.

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